76. Memorandum From the Director of the Vietnam Working Group (Wood) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)1


  • Jets for Government of Viet-Nam

I thought it might be useful for you to have in writing our reasons for opposing the proposal to supply the GVN with four RT-33 and two T-33 jets at this time:

Giving the Vietnamese jets would be a small but significant escalation of the war in Viet-Nam. We would lose the ability to remove jets from Viet-Nam at any time that the international situation might make it in our interest to do so. The fact that these are unarmed jets will be overlooked by Bloc propagandists. Such a move would give the Bloc an excuse for escalation. If the GVN is doing as well against the VC as many of us believe, the DRV and the Bloc may well be looking for such an excuse.
The fact that Cambodia will receive MIGs from the Russians should not be a reason for giving jets to Viet-Nam.
There appears to be no need to give jets to the Vietnamese in order to get the job done. In fact, the job would admittedly be done better if we continued to use only American piloted aircraft. The reason for this is that the T-33 is not as good for reconnaissance as the F-101 which American pilots are now using.
Giving the Vietnamese jets would be a flat and obvious violation of the Geneva Accords, which specifically prohibit the introduction of jet engines into SVN. It is true that we have already been cited for introducing jets and other war material into Viet-Nam. We continue to receive citations from the ICC each time a new violation is detected. Our policy has been to minimize the number of these citations as much as possible. This is because the ICC still has an important effect on world opinion and because there are still things the ICC can do for us. The June 2, 1962 report of the ICC charging the DRV with carrying out a campaign aimed at the violent overthrow of the GVN continues to be very useful.2 At the moment we want to keep Hanoi’s “noxious chemicals” charge either out of the ICC altogether, or perhaps get the ICC to debunk this propaganda by investigating and reporting that the charges are unfounded. This means we still need ICC, or rather Indian, cooperation.
It is true that giving jets to the Vietnamese would permit them to undertake one of the jobs now being done by Americans. It is also true that the Vietnamese should have some reconnaissance jets of their own before we pull out of Viet-Nam. However, the number of personnel involved is small and the date of our pullout distance.


Giving jets to the Vietnamese now would not shorten the war. It would increase the risks of international incidents and repercussions.


That jets not be given to Viet-Nam now and that the question be reviewed every six months.

  1. Source: Department of State, Vietnam Working Group Files: Lot 67 D 54, DEF 19-3, Equip and Supplies. Secret. Drafted by Heavner. A copy was also sent to Rice.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. II, Document 208.