271. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)1
Washington, November 22, 1961.
- South Vietnam
- Reference is made to the memorandum by the Secretary of Defense, dated 13 November 1961, subject as above.2
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the problem of
establishing a new command structure for South Viet-Nam and believe
that certain criteria should be established before initiating [Page 653]major changes in the
present command organization. Such changes should be preceded by:
- A firm agreement with President Diem on the program of joint effort that the United States is proposing.
- Clearly defined United States objectives that will be pursued in South Vietnam
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff examined three possible command structures for South Vietnam; i.e., a unified command under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a joint task force under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a subordinate unified command under CINCPAC. Subject to establishment of the agreement and objectives cited in paragraph 2, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend a subordinate unified command under CINCPAC at this time for the following reasons: Current guidance as to the nature of the mission and the magnitude of US forces to be assigned to the new command does not warrant the establishment of a theater of operations type command directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. South Viet-Nam cannot be isolated militarily from the rest of Southeast Asia which is in CINCPAC’s area of responsibility. All US and SEATO contingency plans for South Viet-Nam are inextricably tied, both operationally and geographically, to CINCPAC strategic plans. All resources in the Pacific Area are allocated to CINCPAC.
- If it is decided to change the command structure in Vietnam, the Joint Chiefs of Staff favor utilizing the existing unified command structure by requiring CINCPAC to organize a subordinate unified command for South Viet-Nam similar to those already established in Korea, Taiwan and Japan. This command would have Service component commanders and would be over the existing MAAG.
- As and when the actions in paragraph 2 are complete, and subject to your approval of the proposals contained herein, CINCPAC should be directed to establish without delay a subordinate unified command for South Viet-Nam in accordance with guidance contained in the Appendix hereto.
- The monitoring of the activities of the command in Viet-Nam should be carried out in the normal manner by the Joint Chiefs of Staff utilizing the Director for Operations Joint Staff.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
L. L. Lemnitzer3
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-185-69. Top Secret. Attached to a brief covering memorandum of November 28 from Lemnitzer’s staff assistant, Richard R. Day, to Taylor, indicating that Lemnitzer had asked that the memorandum be sent to Taylor for his information. For William Bundy’s comments, in a memorandum to McNamara, November 25, see United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 11, p. 449.↩
- Document 245.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩
- Top Secret.↩
- Not printed. On the copy of this letter attached to the source text, the following paragraph has a line drawn next to it in the margin:↩