242. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

61. Viet-Nam Working Group (formerly TF/VN) to Saigon Task Force. Working Group remains concerned that GVN has apparently not yet decided on any priorities for strategic hamlet program.

Realize subject not new, but if hamlet program spread too thin and too fast resultant failures may be fatal to GVN. Also costs this program seem very likely increase and sound programming justification will be needed for further increases US aid and assistance.

Would it be useful lay these problems before Diem or Nhu prior Honolulu meeting with request that on basis experience gained thus far GVN give us its preliminary views on: a) geographic priorities strategic hamlet program, b) whether rate of construction can be decided on basis situation in each province, e.g. can rate be slowed in some areas so that job can be done more thoroughly with less Asks causing undue peasant disaffection, c) whether more earth-moving equipment now in VN be allocated to helping hamlet construction and e) when will GVN be prepared commence join study costs this program? Programming of funds and commodity procurement needed to support strategic hamlet concept will be increasingly difficult obtain in absence such guidance. TF/Saigon might also wish elicit Thompsonʼs current views.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/7-1662. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Wood, cleared with AID, DOD/ISA, and Cottrell, and repeated to CINCPAC for Polad.