270. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor) to the Secretary of State1
- Attached Cable from General Harkins
At the direction of the President, I have queried General Harkins as to his evaluation of the present relationship between the Diem government and the Armed Forces of South Vietnam. Specifically, I [Page 607]inquired whether the declaration of martial law indicated that Diem had confidence in his armed forces or that he had become a hostage to them. Also what was General Harkins’ estimate of the effect of recent events on our common programs in Vietnam?
Attached herewith is his reply. The informal tone results from the fact that this is a private exchange between two old friends.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Secret; Sensitive. A note on another copy of this memorandum by Chester V. Clifton, Military Aide to the President, indicates that the President saw it. Clifton also wrote the following comments: “Don/anti-Nhu; respected by the Army. Ty in Walter Reed (cancer).” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 8/21/63-8/23/63)↩
- Secret; Noforn; Eyes Only.↩
- A summary is in the covering memorandum. A copy of the telegram is in National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Vietnam Chap. XXIII.↩
- Harkins reported to CINCPAC the gist of his August 20, 6 a.m. telephone conversation with Don as well as a briefing he received later in the morning on the situation from a Don aide. Felt transmitted the information to JCS and DIA as CINCPAC telegram 210535Z, August 20, 7:35 p.m. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 8/21/63-8/23/63)↩
- Harkins sent a report of this conversation with Don in MAC J00 6835, to CINCPAC, August 21, repeated to Washington. (Department of State, Central Files,POL 23 S VIET) A note on a copy of MAC J00 6835 in the Kennedy Library indicates that the President saw a wire (advance) copy of the message. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, 8/21/63-8/23/63)↩