14. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Military Representative (Taylor) to President Kennedy1


  • Meeting with Ambassador Frederick Nolting, 10:00 a.m., January 12, 19622

Following a week of calls and briefings about town, Ambassador Nolting from Saigon will call on you at 10:00 a.m., Friday. I gather that all has gone well during his visit except possibly for his early reservations over the changed military set-up in Saigon. Although these have probably been allayed by this time, you may want to ask him how he views his future relationship with General Harkins.

Among other topics which you may wish to discuss are:

Noltingʼs impression of Diemʼs intentions and capabilities to fulfill his part of our bargain with him.
The priorities as he sees them among the many measures planned for South Viet-Nam.
His views of the defoliant program.
The help we might seek from other countries.

Maxwell D. Taylor3
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-026-69. Secret.
  2. No record of Noltingʼs meeting with the President has been found. President Kennedyʼs log book indicates that Nolting, Harriman, and Taylor met with the President from 10 to 10:55 a.m. on January 12 and Secretary Rusk joined them for the last 10 minutes of the meeting. During an interview Nolting indicated that President Kennedy agreed during the meeting that the Ambassador should have overall authority in Vietnam and that the military commanderʼs terms of reference should reflect this relationship. President Kennedy, according to Nolting, directed General Taylor, in the course of the meeting, to revise the draft terms of reference along these lines. (Department of State, Office of the Historian, Vietnam Interviews, Frederick Nolting, June 1, 1984) A record of a telephone conversation later on January 12 between Rusk and McNamara indicates that the President was presented a paper incorporating Noltingʼs views on the relationship between the Ambassador and military commander. The record says that the President handed the paper to Taylor. (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations, 1/1/62-2/19/62) Possibly this paper is Document 17. For an account of the specific points at issue between Ambassador Nolting and the Department of Defense, see Document 18.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.