75. Memorandum for the Record by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Taylor)1


  • Meeting with Under Secretary Harriman with regard to Command Relationships between CINCPAC and COMUSMACV
[Page 196]
I introduced the discussion by describing the review of command relationships made by the JCS which culminated in the recent discussion with Admiral Felt. I showed him General Harkins’ “Eyes Only” to the Chairman (MAC 566)2 in which General Harkins recommends no change in the present command setup. I also called Mr. Harriman’s attention to General Harkins’ directive,3 in particular to paragraph 2a which gives Harkins broad responsibilities in the fields of US military policy, operation, advice and assistance to South Vietnam.
I explained to Mr. Harriman that the Chiefs had gone over this paragraph 2a with Admiral Felt and all were in agreement that this language gave Harkins adequate authority to deal with local incidents, and to conduct the campaign as he saw fit without further specific authority from higher headquarters.
With regard to establishing a direct channel of communication between the JCS and General Harkins, I explained the practical difficulties of such a change and the disadvantages from the point of view of the JCS.
Mr. Harriman appeared reasonably well satisfied with my explanation but reserved the right to reopen the matter if the present arrangement, in his judgment, does not work well.4 I asked him to take a look at the POLAD situation in Honolulu as the State representation there should keep CINCPAC abreast of political and economic issues. Mr. Harriman indicated that he would talk to Minister Martin, the present CINCPACPOLAD, and would consider what changes, if any, might be made.
In the course of the conversation, Mr. Harriman indicated that Admiral Jerauld Wright would succeed Admiral Kirk as Ambassador to Taipei and that Nolting had requested relief from Saigon effective this coming May. Thus far, no successor has been designated.
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T-646-71. Secret.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. II, Document 53.
  4. Harriman called U. Alexis Johnson later in the day to discuss his conversation with Taylor:

    “They agreed to recommend to the Secy that they continue the present setup re Gen Harkins, but reserve the right to reopen the question in the future.” (Memorandum of telephone conversation, April 2; Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telecons—March-April-May 1963)