83. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Smith) and the President’s Military Aide (Clifton), The White House1

General Clifton reported that the President, in approving the text of a letter to be sent to President Diem as an interim reply to Diem’s letter of June 9,2 expressed a desire to know more about the military considerations involved in Diem’s request to increase his military forces by an additional 100,000 men.

The President asks that the appropriate officials consider sending to Viet-Nam a qualified military group which would study the VietNamese request for additional soldiers. This U.S. group would be able to supply to the President its informed judgment as to whether the U.S. should assist Diem to increase his army by 100,000. In the President’s view, the military survey group should be [Page 199] in Viet-Nam before the economic group headed by Dr. Staley has completed its study. The President is interested in knowing what share of the cost of equipping and maintaining 100,000 additional men would be borne by the U.S. He noted that the 20,000 increase of VietNamese forces was to be jointly financed.

The President commented, in discussing who should undertake the military survey, that it would probably not be possible for General Taylor to go to Viet-Nam at this time.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Viet-Nam Country Series. Secret.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 69. President Kennedy’s reply is infra.