7. Remarks by the Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam (McGarr)1
Gentlemen: This Senior Advisors meeting has been called to discuss our mutual problems, bring you up-to-date, and refine our Better Automobile, or Tactics and Techniques paper.2 With the rapid turn-over we have here in Vietnam, you’ll notice many new faces today that were not with us in November and I want you all to make it a point to get acquainted. In this respect, I am sorry the operational situation and the wide dispersal of advisory detachments prevents more frequent meetings. Therefore, let’s all take maximum advantage of this opportunity to exchange ideas among each other and with the members of my staff.
Before proceeding with the meeting proper, I wish to take this opportunity to clarify and reemphasize the official U.S. and MAAG position toward the GVN and President Diem.
Here in Saigon, in particular, as well as in the Provinces where you are stationed, you have heard many rumors and statements about the GVN and President Diem. These run the gamut from corruption of governmental officials, to nepotism, favoritism, political dogmatism, undue interference by Diem in military matters, and normally end with the statement or implication, that Diem “must go” if the country is to be saved.
These rumors and statements are normally instigated by dissatisfied politicians, misled intellectuals, Communists or certain elements of the foreign community. Human nature being what it is, these rumors are, unfortunately, picked up, repeated and elaborated [Page 25] upon by certain elements of the U.S. community here in Vietnam and by certain well meaning Vietnamese officers and civilians.
Although there may possibly be some degree of validity to some of these rumors—there always is—they are mostly based on the Communist technique of half truths and insinuations and are not supported by hard facts. It has been my observation over a period of years that our Armed Forces are not entirely immune to this questionable pastime. I am convinced that the best defense against rumor is truth. With this in mind, the U.S. policy towards the GVN and President Diem is clear and unequivocal. Briefly stated, it is that the U.S. supports the GVN and President Diem. That although Diem has certain shortcomings, as do we all, he is pro-U.S., definitely anti-Communist, and has done a remarkably fine job during his five years in office against terrific odds. He is the most tough minded, dedicated practicing anti-Communist leader among our friends today.
Therefore, it is only fair that all personnel of this MAAG refrain from giving credence—tacit or openly—to these unfavorable rumors regarding President Diem and the GVN. Remember that they cannot be proven—and that there is definitely less corruption in the GVN than most similar countries. Diem will not countenance it!
[Here follow five pages of text reviewing the activities of MAAG since November 1960.]