255. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

656. During course Trueheart’s courtesy call today, British Ambassador Hohler read to him November 14 message from British Embassy Washington, summarizing decisions on Taylor recommendations as received from Department. Telegram gave much more detailed rundown on decisions than apparently communicated to Alphand (Deptel 600),2 and indicates that all points which were under consideration by General Taylor when he was here have been adopted with the very major exception of flood relief task force. British also informed that Jungle Jim units are part of Taylor package.

You can imagine that Vietnamese and Task Force Saigon have been awaiting results of President’s decision anxiously and impatiently. It is naturally embarrassing and discouraging to have these results conveyed to us first by British. But what is more serious is that there is little or no doubt that British and French here will find a way to let Vietnamese know that they are ahead of us and I would not at all rule out that they will pass along immediately to Vietnamese what they know of contents of decisions.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/11-1561. Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Received in the Department of State at 10:29 a.m.
  2. Telegram 600, November 13 (ibid., 751K.00/11-1361), summarized the conversation between Rusk and Alphand described in Document 241.
  3. At a meeting at the Department of State between 3 and 4 p.m., November 15, at which Viet-Nam was one of a number of subjects raised, Rusk told Ambassador Alphand and Lord Hood of the British Embassy that the Department of State had not yet sent any instructions to the Embassy in Saigon, although British and French representatives in Saigon had given Nolting the impression that decisions had already been reached in Washington. Rusk said that he wanted to make clear that previous discussions with British and French representatives in Washington “had been an exchange of thoughts but we had not given specific instructions.” Alphand expressed his certainty that “nothing had been said to the press or to the Vietnamese authorities.” (Memorandum of a conversation at the Department of State, November 15; Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/11-1561)