327. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to the Secretary of State1

This will confirm our discussion of this morning2 in which we agreed that:

The Senior U.S. Military Commander in South Viet-Nam will have the direct responsibility for all U.S. military operations in that country, and the authority to discuss both the U.S. and Vietnamese operations directly with Diem and the leaders of his government.
The Senior U.S. Military Commander will have the title “Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Forces-Vietnam”.
The Senior U.S. Military Commander will have direct access to CINCPAC and through him to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense on all military matters.
The U.S. Ambassador in Viet-Nam will be responsible for political and basic policy matters.
The two U.S. representatives will keep each other informed of the operations within their respective spheres.

Robert S. McNamara
  1. Source: Department of State, Viet-Nam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, 3-C Military Assistance General Oct.-Dec. 1961. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that a copy was sent to William Bundy. Printed also in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 11, p. 426. That version, the text of which is identical to the source text, indicates that copies were sent to Nitze and Gilpatric in addition to William Bundy.
  2. Presumably either a reference to a meeting at 11 a.m. attended by Rusk and McNamara as well as officials from other agencies to discuss the question of nuclear sharing with the British Government or a personal meeting between Rusk and McNamara at 12:11 p.m. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Books) No other record of either of these meetings has been found.