94. Paper Prepared by the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)1

President Diem in his letter of June 9 to President Kennedy2 has requested an increase of his Army to 270,000 from the presently approved ceiling of 170,000. To respond to this request it is first necessary to determine the missions which have been or may be assigned to this force. They are considered to fall under the following headings:
Internal security
Defense against a conventional attack by North Vietnam;
Defense against further guerrilla infiltrations across frontiers.
The forces for the first two missions, a and b, can be estimated fairly readily (although a may change if c is not carried out), but those for the third will depend on the over-all strategy to be followed and the help obtainable from Thai, Laotian and U.S. sources. If the defense against further infiltration is static along the [Page 224] frontiers of South Vietnam, one set of forces is required. If an offensive solution is sought involving a movement of Vietnamese forces into Laos against the avenues of infiltration coupled perhaps with offensive air and guerrilla action against enemy forces, a different set of forces will be required. Thus, there is need of an over-all Southeast Asian politico-military plan assigning missions to national forces, establishing requirements in manpower, equipment and funds for each country and making provision for the means to satisfy the requirements.
To initiate the military portion of such a plan, I would suggest asking the Joint Chiefs to produce an outline plan drawn on the following bases:


Under any set of circumstances growing out of the current Laos negotiations, it will be most important to secure and hold enough of the Mekong Valley and the Laotian panhandle to protect South Viet-Nam and Thailand from conventional attack or guerrilla penetration from North Laos and North Vietnam. In so doing it may become necessary or desirable to mount air attacks against targets in North Laos and North Vietnam, and to launch and support offensive guerrilla operations in these areas. Also during such operations, the United States should have a continuing capability to threaten and, if necessary, to carry out military operations from the sea against vital targets in North Vietnam.



Thus it may be necessary to perform three tasks, i.e., (1) the securing of the Laotian panhandle and parts of the Mekong Valley, (2) the launching of offensive air and guerrilla operations from the panhandle, and (3) the application of military pressure against North Vietnam.
To do the first two tasks, we should make maximum use of indigenous ground forces, employing largely Laotian, South Vietnamese and Thai troops with the United States’ role limited, to the extent possible, to the provision of logistical support. If further study indicates that indigenous forces are not sufficient or do not have the motivation to perform these two tasks, then we need to know the minimum U.S. forces necessary to stiffen the operation and assure its success. In this case, it would be hoped that the U.S. combat forces could be limited to air forces, to the ground forces necessary to provide immediate protection to U.S. air and supply bases, and the Special Force trainers needed to support the guerrilla and anti-guerrilla effort. Although, in principle, it would be desirable to obtain the participation of other SEATO countries apart from those mentioned above, the present study is directed at determining the capabilities of local indigenous forces representing countries with a vital stake in the immediate outcome.


Under the terms of the foregoing discussion, an outline plan is desired to accomplish the three tasks mentioned above, utilizing local indigenous forces to the maximum. This plan should be divided into two parts:
The evaluation of the extent to which “volunteer” Thai and Viet-Nam forces in conjunction with the FAL could accomplish the first mission, namely, the securing of the panhandle and portions of the Mekong Valley to block the further infiltration of Viet-Nam and Thailand by Communist-inspired forces from the North. Assume no U.S. help other than logistical and no formally declared state of war.
An estimate of the forces required, indigenous and U.S., to accomplish tasks 1, 2 and 3 above. In the case of Vietnamese forces, determine the total required for all missions, internal and external, in order to serve as a guide in responding to Diem’s request of June 9 for an increase in his army of 100,000.
Under both cases, the outline plan should include a time schedule for implementation, an evaluation of the likelihood of success, and a recommendation as to how to proceed.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Viet-Nam Country Series, Regional Security Southeast Asia-Rostow Report Second Try. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that Lemnitzer accepted Taylor’s suggestions.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 69.