75. Editorial Note

On June 26, 1961, President Kennedy sent a letter to his Military Representative, General Maxwell Taylor, outlining the functions that he was to undertake in his new position. With regard to Vietnam, the President wrote:

“Review the planning on Viet-Nam and give me your comments thereon along with your views on how to respond to President Diem’s request for a 100,000 man increase in his army.”

The President concluded that Taylor would want to confer with the officials responsible for critical areas such as Southeast Asia in formulating his response. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, Lansdale Files:FRC 63 A 1803, General Taylor File; attached to a memorandum of transmittal from McGeorge Bundy to Secretary of Defense McNamara, dated June 28)

In his reply, dated June 29, Taylor outlined the following four steps:

  • “A. Dispatch an interim reply to Diem at once.
  • “B. Consider an additional 30,000-man increase from 170,000 to 200,000 but withhold a decision until the report of the Special Financial Group.
  • “C. Query the Chief, MAAG, as to the possibility of reducing the time required for inducting and training the new levies-the rate seems too slow to me.
  • “D. Obtain recommendation of the Ambassador, Chief MAAG, CINCPAC and Defense as to the ultimate goal to be set for the Viet-Nam Army.” (Memorandum for the President; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Viet-Nam Country Files)