16. Letter From the Counselor of the Embassy in Vietnam (Manfull) to the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Wood)1

Dear Ben: During Admiral Felt’s recent visit, one of the subjects discussed at some length was the augmentation of Farmgate. Some time prior to Admiral Felt’s arrival, MACV, without clearing it with the Embassy, requested that Farmgate be augmented by 10 B-26’s, 5 T-28’s and 2 C-47’s. By the time we found out about it, the JCS had already approved it. During Admiral Felt’s visit the Ambassador [Page 33] pointed out this lack of coordination to General Harkins, who expressed surprise that the Embassy had not been consulted and said he would ask his staff to coordinate with the Embassy on such matters in the future. Because the Farmgate augmentation in question was of limited size, and therefore appeared to have no serious political implications, the Ambassador concurred in it ex post facto.

At the same time, we learned that MACV had informed CINCPAC that it was considering requesting a second, whopping Farmgate augmentation to meet the requirements of the “National Campaign.” MACV wanted to request:

  • 1 sqn of B-26’s (25 aircraft)
  • 1 sqn of T-28’s (25 aircraft)
  • 2 sqns of C-123’s (16 aircraft each)
  • 1 company of Caribous (25 aircraft)
  • 3 sqns of L-19’s (22 aircraft each)

Admiral Felt pointed out to General Harkins that such a request would mean that the GVN in fact was unable to achieve victory over the VC without a significantly increased US commitment in Viet-Nam. The Admiral also informed MACV that, in endorsing the latter’s first Farmgate augmentation request, he had felt obliged to state to the JCS that there would be no additional similar requests. He asked MACV to study the matter further in light of his views, and to tailor its request accordingly. He agreed to receive the request but did not commit himself to it.

After the Admiral’s departure, MACV consulted the Embassy. The Ambassador said he could go along with a request for additional Farmgate transport capability (L-19’s, C-123’s and Caribous) if in General Harkins’ view the additional aircraft were necessary to meet the increased requirements of the “National Campaign.” (As you will note from a message2 through other channels, consideration is being given to meeting some of this airlift requirement from third country contributions.) However, the Ambassador took a firm stand against the additional strike aircraft (B-26’s and T-28’s), using the same arguments that Admiral Felt had used and, in addition, expressing concern that a request of such size for additional strike aircraft could raise political questions at home regarding the soundness of the Administration’s policy in Viet-Nam and the ground rules under which we are operating here. In light of the views of Admiral Felt and the Ambassador, MACV is looking into the problem further and will seek the Ambassador’s concurrence on any request going to CINCPAC.

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On a related subject, you will have seen Embtel 686,3 on RT-33’s. The over-riding consideration in the Ambassador’s mind was the need and desirability for the GVN to develop its own effective photo reconnaissance capability.

We assume that WG/VN was better coordinated on this subject than we were here during the initial go-round. However, I would appreciate knowing to what extent the JCS or ISA consulted the Department on the proposed augmentations.4

“In answer to your question, we were informed by DOD when the request for 10

B-26s, 5 T-28s, and 2 C-47s came in to them. We assumed that it had been cleared with r the Ambassador and it was with this assumption in mind that we approved it at this end. I will certainly discuss the matter with DOD and the Ambassador should be assured that we will approve no increases which are requested of us by DOD until we have had the Embassy’s views.” (Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def-19 Milit Assist-3rd Country)

With best regards,

Sincerely yours,

Melvin L. Manfull5Counselor of Embassy for Political Affairs
  1. Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, Def-19 Milit Assist-3rd country. Secret; Limit Distribution; Official-Informal.
  2. Not found.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 13.
  4. On January 31, Wood sent the following reply to Manfull, noting that he had discussed it with Deputy Under Secretary Johnson, “who agrees completely”:
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.