284. Memorandum From the President’s Military Representative (Taylor) to the President1


  • Possible Command Relationships in South Vietnam
Considerable discussion is taking place over the kind of organization required in South Viet-Nam to administer the accelerated U.S. program there. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have had several meetings on the subject and State is also studying the matter. The following are a few observations on the problem advanced before you receive final recommendations from your advisors, based upon the kinds of government activities which will take place in South Vietnam.
Kinds of Business. Under the pending program the United States will have business of the following types to accommodate within the State/Defense organization in South Vietnam: a. Embassy business; b. USOM business; c.MAAG business; d. Military headquarters business to include the command of U.S. operational units and military planning with the forces of South Viet-Nam with U.S. contingency forces, and with SEATO forces; e. Intelligence production and evaluation for U.S. purposes.
Channels of Responsibility. The Embassy and USOM types of business are clearly the prerogative of the State Department under the direction of the senior State representative in South Vietnam. The responsibility for the MAAG can be channeled as at present through the Ambassador with a technical channel of communication open to Defense. This channel may or may not pass through CINCPAC. The military headquarters type of business should not pass through the Ambassador, but should go directly to Defense, either through or bypassing CINCPAC. Military intelligence should be immediately available to the senior military representative, whereas the Ambassador should receive integrated intelligence from all sources.
Possible Command Relationships. There are three general models which may be considered for Vietnam. The present (normal) model, the Berlin model, or the Korean model.
Normal model. The present relationship could be retained with rather simple modification. The Chief of the MAAG could be made [Page 674]concurrently the Commander of the U.S. military units assigned to South Vietnam. The charter of the MAAG could be expanded to cover the additional functions beyond those presently assigned. For military matters pertaining to the conduct of the anti-Viet Cong operations, the Chief, MAAG could be authorized direct communication to the Department of Defense, either through CINCPAC or direct. A joint U.S. intelligence organization should report to the Ambassador, while a joint U.S.-JCS military intelligence should be directly available to MAAG.
Berlin model. Following the original Berlin USCOB (U.S. Commander Berlin) model there could be a senior U.S. officer in South Vietnam, presumably of 4-star rank, who would represent concurrently the Department of State and the Department of Defense. His principal subordinates would be a charge d’affaires for embassy business and a military commander to look after the MAAG and Military Headquarters business. The intelligence system would report to him.
Korean model. This would be the pattern of relationships appropriate to an active or potential theater of war. Embassy/USOM business would be conducted by the Ambassador reporting directly to the Secretary of State. Military business to include MAAG affairs would be the responsibility of a senior Military Commander reporting to the Department of Defense, either through or bypassing CINCPAC. The relationship between the Ambassador and the Military Commander would be one of liaison. Intelligence would be handled as under the normal model (subparagraph a above).
The simplest way to proceed in Viet-Nam for the present would be to stay with the normal model as outlined above. The adoption of either the Berlin or the Korean model proclaims a significant change in the U.S. attitude which should be confirmed by the program which we adopt for South Vietnam. As long as that program is essentially an intensification of past actions, it would be at a minimum inconsistent to set up a command structure such as the Berlin or Korean model which suggests that we are clearing the boards for a show-down-until that is indeed the case.
For the time being I would stay with the normal model until our program changes or the model proves inadequate. Meantime, there is work to be done in Washington to tighten up the steering apparatus and to delineate responsibilities here. State, Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are all working on this matter.
Maxwell D. Taylor2
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-185-69. Secret. An attached note indicates that copies were sent to Rusk, McNamara, U. Alexis Johnson, Lemnitzer, Bundy (apparently McGeorge), and Rostow.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.