56. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

1423. Task Force VN. Following is the Presidential Program for Viet-Nam to be carried out on priority action basis with high sense urgency and dedication. Each action listed herein has been approved by the President.


To prevent Communist domination of Viet-Nam by initiating, on an accelerated basis, a series of mutually supporting actions of a political, military, economic, psychological, and covert character, designed to create in that country a viable and increasingly democratic society and to keep Viet-Nam free.



1. Seek to increase the confidence of President Diem and his Government in the United States by a series of actions and messages relating to the trip of Vice President Johnson.

2. Attempt to strengthen President Diem’s popular support within Viet-Nam by reappraisal and negotiation, under the direction of Ambassador Nolting.

3. Begin negotiations looking toward a new bilateral arrangement with VietNam, but make no firm commitment to such an arrangement without further review by the President.

4. Negotiate in appropriate ways to improve VietNam’s relationship with other countries, especially Cambodia, and its standing in world opinion.

5. Strengthen border-control arrangements, particularly with Cambodia; encourage Diem to authorize the renewal of negotiations on this subject with the Cambodian Government. If he concurs, we [Page 141] will use our best efforts with the Cambodians to facilitate these discussions.

6. Cooperate with the GVN in planning the most effective use of assistance offered by other governments to assist Viet-Nam in its actions against the Viet Cong, including the provision of certain expert personnel with long experience, e.g., in Malaya.

7. Examine the diplomatic setting within which a possible commitment of U.S. forces to Viet-Nam might be undertaken.

8. Assess the political implications of increasing GVN forces from 170,000 to 200,000.

9. Ambassador Nolting is requested to recommend any necessary reorganization of the Country Team to accomplish 1 and 2 above.


10. Install as a matter of priority a radar surveillance capability which will enable the GVN to obtain warning of Communist overflights being conducted for intelligence or clandestine air supply purposes.

11. Military Assistance Program support of 20,000-man increase in ARVN is approved.

12. Increase the MAAG as necessary to insure the effective implementation of the military portion of the program including the training of the additional 20,000 men.

13. Consider together with the GVN, if developments should warrant, the case for a further increase in ARVN strength beyond the 170,000 limit now contemplated.

14. Provide MAP support for the entire Civil Guard force of 68,000.

15. Expand MAAG responsibilities to include authority to provide support and advice to the Self Defense Corps with a strength of approximately 40,000.

16. Provide MAP support for the Vietnamese Junk Force as a means of preventing Viet Cong clandestine supply and infiltration into Viet-Nam by water, to include training of junk crews in Viet-Nam or at U.S. bases.

17. Give Special Forces training to assist the GVN in accelerating the training of its Special Forces.

18. Collaborate with the GVN in the use of certain military specialists to assist and work with the ARVN in health, welfare, and public works activities in the villages.

19. Study jointly with the GVN the problem of VietNam’s borders to develop techniques whereby crossing of those borders by unfriendly elements can be more effectively controlled.

[Page 142]

20. Consider jointly the establishment in Southeast Asia of a facility to develop and test, using the tools of modern technology, new techniques to help the U.S. and GVN in their joint campaign against the Communists.2


21. Despatch to Viet-Nam a group of highly qualified economic and fiscal experts who would meet with GVN experts and work out a financial plan on which joint U.S.-GVN efforts can be based.

22. ICA is authorized to move into a rural development-civic action program, to include short-range, simple, impact projects which would be undertaken by teams working in cooperation with local communities.

23. Undertake the development of a long-range economic development program as a means of demonstrating U.S. confidence in the economic and political future of the country by authorizing Ambassador Nolting to inform the GVN that the U.S. is prepared to discuss a long-range joint five-year development program which would involve contributions and undertakings by both parties.

24. Assess the fiscal and other economic implications of a further ARVN forces increase from 170,000 to 200,000.


25. Assist the GVN to accelerate its public information program to help develop a broad public understanding of the actions required to combat the Communist insurgents and to build public confidence in the GVN’s determination and ability to deal with the Communist threat.

26. The U.S. Country Team, in coordination with the GVN Ministry of Defense, should compile and declassify for use of media representatives in Viet-Nam and throughout the world documented facts concerning Communist infiltration and terrorist activities and the measures being taken by the GVN to counter such attacks.

27. In coordination with CIA and the appropriate GVN Ministry, USIS will increase the flow of information about unfavorable conditions in North Viet-Nam to media representatives.

28. Develop agricultural pilot-projects throughout the country, with a view toward exploiting their beneficial psychological effects.

[Page 143]

29. Exploit as part of a planned psychological campaign the rehabilitation of Communist Viet Cong prisoners, stressing the errors of Communism, and broadcast this material to Communist-held areas, including North VietNam, to induce defections.

30. Provide adequate funds for an impressive U.S. participation in the Saigon Trade Fair of 1962.


31. Program to be carried forward and coordinated at appropriate levels.


32. The President reserves judgement on the levels of funding proposed in the Task Force Report and in the funding annex.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/5-2061. Top Secret; Priority. Drafted and signed for the Acting Secretary by Cottrell and cleared with McConaughy and S/S. Repeated to CINCPAC for PolAd. Also printed in Declassified Documents, 1978, p. 112A. Telegram 1422, May 20, advised that the Presidential Program transmitted here listed only those items specifically approved by the President, most of which were extracted from the Task Force Report (see footnote 2, Document 51, and Document 42). It also advised the Embassy in Saigon that Task Force traffic should be slugged Task Force VN with the appropriate paragraph number corresponding to the Presidential Program. (Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-MSP/5-2061)
  2. On May 23, the Department of State transmitted the following text of a new paragraph 21 for insertion in the Presidential Program and requested that subsequent paragraphs be renumbered accordingly:

    “21. A full examination will be made of the size and composition of forces which would be desirable in the case of possible commitment of U.S. forces to Viet-nam.” (Telegram 1432 to Saigon; ibid., 751K.00/5-2361)