80. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Viet-Nam Task Force (Wood) to the Director of the Task Force (Cottrell)1


  • Conversation with Mr. Rostow2

Rostow made the following points:

He has reason to believe that within the next three to six months we will need all the documentation we can to show the seriousness of Viet Cong infiltration in Viet-Nam in order to forestall an attempt by Adlai Stevenson to suggest UN intervention in VietNam. He suggested urgently that CIA be required to prepare and keep current a dossier with covering summary memorandum [Page 196] designed to show the intensity, trend and seriousness of Viet Cong infiltration in VietNam. (Comment: I concur.)
He referred to the present ARVN sweep in Vinh Binh province and asked pointedly what would be done to insure that after this operation was over the Viet Cong would be kept out of Vinh Binh province. Did the ARVN have plans and capabilities of keeping the area clean after the sweep was over. I pointed out that Vinh Binh province was between two rivers and the sea but said that I had no information as to future plans for keeping the province sterile.

I said that in general terms we regretted that there was no plan based on the geography of Viet-Nam for sweeping the country clean, and pointed out that Thompson had made a report to the Vietnamese government in April 19603 suggesting the framing operations which had succeeded in Malaya. I said that you and I had discussed this and were in agreement that such framing operations should start in Saigon which was the ultimate target of the Viet Cong and move northwestward on the road to Phnom Penh up to the Cambodian border and the Tay Ninh salient which was one of the worst bases for Viet Cong operations. Thereafter the framing operation could be extended northeast-southwest along the Cambodian border.

Rostow jumped to his feet and said “This is the first time I have heard a practical suggestion as to how we should carry out our operations in VietNam”. He asked that the Task Force prepare a telegram for Saigon inquiring about a plan for operations to push the Viet Cong out of Viet-Nam and said that we should query them about the Thompson plan concept. I agreed to do so.4

Later Bob Johnson said that he and Rostow were also concerned as to whether the command structure set up by Diem was really working or whether Diem was still running everything himself in a rather haphazard manner. I pointed out that the counter-insurgency plan enabled us to check from time to time as to whether the Vietnamese were living up to their end of the bargain before we made further commitments and suggested that we put in as two prerequisites to a 200,000 man increase (1) a requirement for an overall strategic plan for ridding Viet-Nam of the VC and (2) assurance that the chain of command concept was really taking root in the GVN.

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Comment: I don’t think this need hold up plans for increasing the 200,000 since the increase will not commence until February 1962.

There is attached a draft telegram along the above lines.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Viet-Nam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, VN 1961 TF/10 thru 21. Secret.
  2. The date of this conversation has not been determined.
  3. No copy of Thompson’s report, given to the Vietnamese Government by the British Embassy in Saigon on April 13, 1960, has been found, but a three-page summary of the report, prepared by Wood and dated April 4, is in Department of State, Viet-Nam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, VN 1961 TF/10 thru 21.
  4. At this point on the source text, the words “on the condition that we did not mention the fact that this idea had originated with the British” are crossed out.
  5. Not found attached to the source text. No such telegram sent to the Embassy in Saigon has been found.