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

1596. I saw SecState Presidency Thuan April 11 on following:

I took up AP story along lines instructions Dept’s 1250.2 I reminded Thuan Secretary at Bangkok had emphasized that implementation CIP would require closest US-GVN cooperation and if further stories like AP’s get out Dept may be forced to tell whole CIP story which much larger than question 20,000 increase. Thuan showed he was embarrassed but made no comment.
Thuan, in answer my query, stated GVN has been considering establishment in RVNAF of something along lines Political Commissar System used by GRC as psywar measure in order build up morale of troops. I said if system similar to GRC’s, would include organization for spying on commanders and troops with channel of authority completely separate from normal command channel. I pointed out that CIP recommendations included surfacing operations of Can Lao Party in order get away from unfortunate secrecy which generated disgruntlement and mistrust. Thuan denied system being considered would operate as spy outfit. He said some system is necessary to explain to common soldiers commie tactics and give proper political guidance as commies have had some success in infiltrating army. Later that evening I discussed question with General Khanh, the officer sent to Taiwan to study and report on GRC [Page 70] system. He assured me if GVN adopts similar system any secret reports would pass through regular channels to co of even small outfits. Therefore would not generate disgruntlement.
I expressed hope Diem would announce reforms soonest. Thuan said he thought Diem would do so by April 30 (presidential inauguration date). I said it should be done sooner; Thuan then said reforms probably will be announced by April 15, but pleaded presence large number correspondents had so absorbed GVN that many things left undone for moment. I told him increasing number of Vietnamese expressing doubts as to whether any reform measures are indeed to be taken and stressed need for urgency. (It obvious that date reforms to be announced still not clear.)
I suggested to Thuan that although GVN had been successful in carrying out election despite announced commie desire disrupt it to maximum possible extent, it now important keep guard up for possible intensified VC efforts. Thuan assured me GVN had this in mind. He stated that although VC had harassed GVN somewhat during election period, GVN had also harassed VC to very considerable extent.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/4-1261. Repeated to CINCPAC for PolAd.
  2. Dated April 6, telegram 1250 summarized an April 6 AP report that the United States had approved a 20,000-man increase. The telegram advised the Embassy in Saigon to inform the Vietnamese Government that such stories would make approval of the whole counterinsurgency plan more difficult. (Ibid., 751K.5-MSP/4-661) For text of the AP report, see the New York Times, April 7, 1961, p. 5.