I. Reorganization of the U.S. Military Command Structure in Vietnam, January 1-February 8, 1963


1. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to President Kennedy

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-015-69. Top Secret. A draft of this memorandum, with virtually identical wording, is in Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAMs. President Kennedy approved the program on January 3.


2. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting With the President, Palm Beach, Florida, January 3, 1962

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-138-69. Top Secret. Drafted on January 9. A covering memorandum of January 9 from Gilpatric to Taylor indicated that, with certain changes recommended by the JCS and Taylor, the record could now be considered in final form. Attached to the source text were two memoranda that dealt with language changes in the record of the discussion of the Department of Defense budget. For a further record of this meeting, see Document 9.


3. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 71 A 6489 Sensitive 7-61. Secret. Drafted by Colonel Kent. Also sent to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.


5. Memorandum From the Assistant Director for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Information Agency (Neilson), to the Directorʼs Special Assistant (Harris)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA/I/S Files: FRC 68 A 4933, Field-Far East (IAF), 1962. Confidential. Initialed by Nielson. Attached to Document 16.


6. Talking Paper Prepared by Colonel Robert M. Levy, J-3, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Source: JCS Files. Top Secret. Prepared for General Lemnitzer, for his meeting with Ambassador Nolting on January 9 at 10 a.m. Nolting arrived in the United States on January 5 and departed with Secretary McNamara for Honolulu en route to Saigon on January 14. During his stay in Washington he was involved in numerous meetings and briefings, some of which are documented in the following pages. Nolting subsequently indicated that his primary purpose in returning for consultations was to discuss the terms of reference for the new military commander in Vietnam. “Department of State, Office of the Historian, Vietnam Interviews, Frederick Nolting, June 1, 1984) For the original terms of reference agreed to at the Palm Beach meeting with the President, see Document 9.


7. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/1-562. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to CINCPAC for Polad and to Bangkok. At the top of the first page, presumably in Woodʼs handwriting, was: “COT [Sterling J. Cottrell]-IMPT Answer to Taylorʼs Query re Progress on Joint Agree. W” No record of Taylorʼs request has been found, but telegram 838 to Saigon, January 3, requested a summary of Vietnamese actions in response to the Joint Memorandum of Understanding for discussions with Ambassador Nolting when he arrived on January 5. (Ibid., 75 l K.00/12-462)


8. Telegram From the Task Force in Vietnam to the United States Information Agency

Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, 8. GVN. 1962. Information & Civic Action. No classification appears on the source text.


9. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)

Source: National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Folder 24. Top Secret Priority; Eyes Only. A handwritten draft by Lemnitzer, dated January 6, is ibid., L-211-71.


11. Paper Prepared by the Task Force in Vietnam

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 65 F 115, Counterinsurgency Plan. Secret. The annexes are not printed. Transmitted under a January 18 memorandum from Mendenhall to Nolting, which indicated that all agencies represented on the Task Force in Vietnam had approved the plan and that the Task Force now awaited permission from Nolting to present the plan to the Government of Vietnam. Also attached was a second memorandum of January 18 from Mendenhall to the Task Force noting two changes recommended by MAAG and USIS, which are incorporated in the source text; another memorandum of January 10 from Mendenhall to the Task Force transmitting copies of an earlier draft; a handwritten note from Mendenhall to Nolting of December 15 specifying various changes from earlier drafts; and a covering memorandum from Mendenhall to the Task Force transmitting the first draft on December 1.

The plan was transmitted to the Department of State as an attachment to despatch 429, April 16. (Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/4-662) The despatch, signed by Mendenhall, reported that the plan was designed to implement the “Counterinsurgency Plan” developed and approved for all of South Vietnam in 1961 ( Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. I, Document 1), but that it was not submitted to the Government of Vietnam because in the interim the British Advisory Mission had submitted the Delta Pacification Plan ( Document 51) for approval. The despatch reported that the two plans were compatible, but that the Embassy saw merit in avoiding swamping the Government of Vietnam with too much paper at once. Finally, it stated that the U.S. Interagency Committee on Province Rehabilitation, established in late March 1962, was using the Plan as its basic guide.


12. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Johnson) to the Director (Rostow)

Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, R. Johnson Chron. Secret. Johnson, who had just left the National Security Council Staff for the Department of State, indicated in a covering memorandum that he had prepared the study in an effort to fill in his successors in the NSC and that it provided a picture of where the United States stood on various issues at the time.


13. Memorandum for the Record

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 67 A 677, 350 GVN. Secret. Transmitted to Ambassador Nolting under a memorandum of January 19 from McGarr; also attached was a talking paper of January 15 for McGarrʼs use at the Secretary of Defenseʼs Conference at Honolulu, January 15, based in part on this conversation. McGarr stated in the transmittal memorandum that Nolting might want to review the papers before his meeting with Thuan on January 20. No record of the January 20 meeting has been found.


14. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor) to President Kennedy

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-026-69. Secret.


16. Memorandum From the Assistant Director for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Information Agency (Neilson), to the Deputy Director of the Agency (Wilson)

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA/I/S Files: FRC 68 A 4933, Field—Far East (IAF), 1962. Secret. Initialed by Neilson.


17. Terms of Reference for the Senior United States Military Commander in Vietnam

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, South Vietnam 1961: Taylor Recommendations, Command. Secret. A covering note on White House letterhead, dated January 12, indicates that the revised terms of reference were transmitted to McNamara from General Taylor. The revision may have been the paper handed to Taylor by President Kennedy during the meeting with Nolting, Harriman, and Taylor by January 12. (See footnote 2, Document 14) Also on January 12, presumably in response to directions by Harriman acting on the Presidentʼs instructions for revision, draft terms of reference were prepared in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs for use in a meeting with Secretary Rusk on January 13. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, South Vietnam 1961, Taylor Recommendations, Command) These were sent to Secretary McNamara in a letter of January 13 from Secretary Rusk. The changes made by the Department of State in the original terms of reference approved by President Kennedy on January 3 were less extensive than those in the version printed here, consisting only of the addition of the first paragraph, as printed here, and not including any of the changes made here in the fifth and sixth paragraphs (see Document 9).


18. Memorandum by the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor)

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-628-71. Secret.


19. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor) to President Kennedy

Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-026-69. Secret. At the top are written the words: “Read by HA.” “HA” stands for “Higher Authority” and was regularly used in referring to President Kennedy.


20. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Lemnitzer) to Secretary of Defense McNamara

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 71 A 6489, VN (Sensitive). Top Secret. A stamped notation indicates that the Secretary of Defense saw the paper.


23. Memorandum of Conversation, Saigon, January 16, 1962

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 1814, USIS, 1962. Confidential. Drafted by Gardiner.


24. Memorandum of Conversation, Mendenhallʼs Residence, Saigon, January 16, 1962

Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 5159, 350-GVN. Confidential. Drafted by Mendenhall on January 17. The meeting was held in Mendenhallʼs Residence. Another copy is in Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 66 D 193, 14,GVN, 1962, Political Situation, General. Distributed throughout the Embassy, to CINCPAC, and to the Department of State.


25. Telegram From the Ambassador to Vietnam (Nolting) to the Department of State

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/1-1762. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Priority. Attached to the source text was a note from Battle to the Secretary indicating that U. Alexis Johnson had action on it and that no other distribution had been or would be made pending Johnsonʼs recommendations to Rusk. The letter was never submitted to the President. For Ruskʼs reply, see Document 40.


26. National Security Action Memorandum No. 124

Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAMs. Secret. Attached to the source text were a memorandum to all Assistant Secretaries of State for regional affairs, January 26, from U. Alexis Johnson establishing State Department liaison with the Special Group; copies of letters to Ambassadors in Southeast Asia asking for views on counterinsurgency; a copy of a letter from Rusk to Lemnitzer, June 16, establishing a Task Force for Southeast Asia to complement the Vietnam Task Force and other papers from 1965 and 1966 relating to the revision of NSAM 124 and abolition of the Special Group (Counterinsurgency).


27. Letter From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor)

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/1-1862. Secret. Drafted by Johnson. Copies sent to Lemnitzer, Rostow, Harriman, Cottrell, and Nolting.


29. Letter From the Commander in Chief, Pacificʼs Political Adviser (Martin) to the Director of the Vietnam Task Force (Cottrell)

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5-M SP/1-1962. Top Secret; Official-Informal.


30. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/1-2062. Secret. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD. Drafted by Peters on January 19; cleared by Cottrell, Peterson and Maechling; and approved by Rice.

  1. The source text is undated, but the papers accompanying the draft cited in footnote 1 indicate that it was sent to the President on January 2.