115. Memorandum for the Record by the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman)1

I find that I am a little uneasy about the way things are going in South Viet-Nam

. . . . . . .

Secondly, Iʼm uneasy about the tendency in Washington to attempt to keep the farm gate operations secret. I think it is an impossibility; there are just too many Americans and Vietnamese involved in this particular operation in South Viet-Nam and I think that the solution lies not in trying to keep it hidden but in to using farm gate correctly.

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On this latter point, it is perfectly clear that farm gate is still being used on what they call “Interdiction” roles; that is, striking at targets revealed by South Vietnamese intelligence in places where the GVN does not have access. A General Jabloski (whom I used to know at West Point) related the following to Fritz Nolting:

On several occasions the Viet Cong, after an air strike, have removed their own dead and then laid out in the middle of the street the women and children killed by our air strikes, so that the villagers on resuming would find only women and children dead rather than Viet Cong.

Among the Americans in South Viet-Nam, according to Nolting, however, there are growing doubts about the utility of farm gate used in this “interdiction” role as opposed to close ground support of units actually in contact with the Viet Cong. However, Diem and the South Vietnamese think it is great stuff and are continually calling for strikes on the basis of the flimsiest kind of intelligence. Our joint air control center has been screening these very carefully but there is still a very large amount of what cannot help but be indiscriminate bombing. The whole business could blow up in any number of horrendous ways.

I would like all of you to give some thought to this and how we might intervene either at the White House with Bobby Kennedy or in some other way.

Roger Hilsman2
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Countries: Vietnam, 3/1/62-7/28/62. Secret. Copies were sent to Allan Evans, Thomas L. Hughes, and Joseph W. Scott, all of INR.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.