232. Briefing Paper Prepared in the White House1
CHECK LIST FOR 4 PM MEETING2
(Not intended to be exhaustive)
- Estimate of prospective balance of forces;
- Estimate of quality and quantity of military leadership committed;
- Summary of intelligence questions on which it would be profitable
to ask further field assessment, e.g.,
- Can we insist on independent process of confirmation or crosscheck?
- Should we ask for a separate evaluation on these questions by Harkins?
2. Lodge’s Movements
- If we keep him in place, what are consequences for
- Plausible denial;
- Possible indefinite delay in return while nothing happens;
- Possible bad signal to Nhu or to coup group.
- If he returns on schedule, who is in charge in Saigon, and under what instructions. (There should be a draft instruction to Trueheart and Harkins on this point for the 4 o’clock meeting.)
3. Contingency Planning
- CINCPAC—Presumably Defense will draft instructions for Felt which will preserve cover but move substantial forces to within easy range of Saigon.
- Response to coup. Presumably Harkins should be asked for detailed plans on use and withholding of U.S. forces so as not to choose up sides.
- There should be a political scenario of U.S. posture:
- while in a possibly prolonged struggle;
- if coup succeeds;
- if coup fails.