328. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)1

Dear Bob: There are two comments I should like to make on your memorandum of December 182 about the military organization in Vietnam.

First, it was my recollection that you had agreed to the designation suggested in my letter,3 namely, “Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command—Vietnam.” The use of the term “forces: gives the impression of organized military units considerably beyond those we presently have in mind.

Second, in our talk today we did not get very far into the relationship between our Ambassador and the U.S. Military Commander. I agree with respect to the direct operational contact between the Commander and the Vietnamese officials, including President Diem. I also agree that the Ambassador and the Commander should keep each other fully informed. My own view of the relations between the two is covered in the next to the last paragraph of the letter I handed you in Paris.

Perhaps one of your colleagues could follow up on this with Averell Harriman in the event there are any dangling points which need attention. Even though they might be minor in the total context, there is great advantage in our having complete clarity in the interest of harmonious and efficient operations in the field.

Cordially yours,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/12-1861. Secret. Drafted by Rusk and cleared with Harriman and U. Alexis Johnson.
  2. Document 327.
  3. See Document 317.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.