105. Memorandum From the Naval Aide to the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Bagley) to the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor)1


  • Force Structure in South Viet-Nam

The following future MAP-supported force levels have been approved by the JCS for South Viet-Nam:

FY 62
FY 62
FY 63
FY 64
RVNAF (Army-Navy-AF) 205,000 206,662 215,000 225,000
CG 68,000 72,000 81,000 90,000
SDC 49,200 65,000 80,000 80,000
TOTAL 322,200 343,622 376,000 395,000

[Page 217]

These figures have been recommended by CINCPAC with the concurrence of the Country Team. Approval at this time was suggested in order that GVN planning could go forward; the force levels indicated do not reflect a number of factors which will take form in the next few months. There is unofficial agreement on the US side that changes in levels will be made if later information and events dictate the need.

The review which follows is intended to set forth the essentials of the force structure determination.

Current Force Levels

The US approved a force level of 200,000 for the RVNAF in the fall of 1961; it was agreed then that the need for further increases would be reviewed after 1 January 1962. As an interim measure, CHMAAG was authorized by State and Defense to consider the calendar 1962 goal as 205,000 to permit flexibility in billet determinations. It is estimated at present rates of build-up that the 200,000 level will be reached in late 1962. Approximate present strengths are:


Army 163,000
Navy 5,000
Airforce 5,000
TOTAL 173,000

On the para-military side the situation is as follows:

Security Forces:

GVN Authorized Strength MAP-support Level Present Strength
Civil Guard 68,000 67,000
Self-Defense Corps 67,751 49,200 57,000

The USOM-approved strength for the National Police is 7,020.

Proposed Increases

Based on these strengths and the approved levels for the period FY 62-64, the net increases through June 1963 will be: [Page 218]

Present Strength Present Goal MAP June 1963 Global Difference between present strength and June 1963 Goal
RVNAF 173,000 205,000 215,000 42,000
CG 67,000 68,000 81,000 14,000
SDC 57,000 67,751 80,000 23,000

Mr. Hilsmanʼs recommended approach to a SVN strategy calls for an increase of 58,000 in the Civil Guard and, in a part-time Self-Defense Corps, an increase of 100,000.2 Mr. Thompson similarly lays stress on the role of the CG and SDC. The latter as the close-in defender of the strategic hamlet and defender village; the former as the wider-ranging provincial patrol force and mobile reserve. Thompson originally suggested use of the National Police for provincial security, but later agreed with the US view that existing para-military assets in the CG/SDC should be used.

Essential Considerations

There are certain essential considerations in reaching a decision as to the force levels the US reasonably could support in SVN. Some of these have been cited by Defense or State; none are sufficiently developed to permit governing conclusions. Each should be the subject of further analysis or discussion with the GVN.

Economic employment of existing armed resources.CINCPAC stresses the need to assure the GVN organizes and employs existing military and para-military resources properly before moving too rapidly toward increases in strength. There are insufficient indications now as to what the GVN is actually capable of doing and what military strength is required. The best data available suggests the RVNAF has not decreased static tasks despite US provision of transport aircraft and helicopters. Rangers still are not committed to jungle/border functions. At the same time, recent increases in the means for air and water mobility, the need to strengthen force capability in the Plateau area, and expanded training facilities have resulted in the need for RVNAF personnel increases (reflected in the FY 62 figure of 206,662).
Requirement for security forces for follow-on control in province pacification strategy. There is a need for CG/SDC forces (and, later, National Police) to hold province areas swept by the ARVN and in which population resettlement has been accomplished. Numbers of para-military forces required for this purpose are not yet known; there is some uncertainty, in US circles, as to numbers now in each province. [Page 219]Tentative estimates for CG/SDC needed for the Binh Duong operation are 1644/1000 respectively, over the normal manning level in that area. A prime factor in any build-up is the present saturated training organization for the CG and SDC; personnel now in those categories will not all complete the training course until the end of 1962. Further, the GVN is reluctant to move CG and SDC forces away from their village and province assignments to fight elsewhere. To the degree that this is done, the local intelligence capability, area familiarity, and morale of these troops would be compromised. But at the same time, this reduces the flexible use of security forces to concentrate at points of immediate need.
Influence of social and economic factors on the force structure.USOM, Saigon has emphasized the non-military determinants of an expanded force structure in the context of the concurrent need for progress and efficiency in governmental administration and services. The key factors, which USOM concludes indicate increases in Security Force levels rather than in the RVNAF, are:
Better use of available manpower; skilled personnel will be drawn off in lesser numbers.
Puts “people” into the fight to a larger degree.
Less cost in personnel and support.
Will require less stringent economic measures though USOM feels a build-up of the RVNAF to 279,000 can be financed by the GVN if proper procedures are followed.


From the background developed above, I conclude that the best courses of action are:

View the JCS-approved force levels as tentative pending further analysis of capabilities and requirements.
Continue to emphasize acceleration and expansion of CG/SDC training.
Determine areas in which the ARVN can be released from static functions and made strategically mobile; press the GVN for early action to so refine their force employment.
Assess the need for additional US air transport to force-feed ARVN mobility and reduce reliance on land lines of communication.
Complete development of an overall military strategy for SVN so that force structures may be viewed in some sort of accepted framework.

Currently, a and b above are in process; c, d, and e require improved U.S. direction.

  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-133-69. Secret.
  2. See Document 42.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.