299. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff1
Honolulu, November 5, 1963—7:45 p.m.
DTG 060545Z. Military Improvements in New Government-RVN.
- JCS 4279-63 of 2 Nov.2
- COMUSMACV 2081 DTG 030429Z.3
- COMUSMACV MAC J-3 8607 DTG 041806Z.4
- COMUSMACV MAC J-3 8587 DTG 031705Z.5
1. Ref A requests comments on military improvements to be sought from new government of RVN. Ref B is COMUSMACV response with which I agree. Following are additional comments: [Page 572]
- In conversation with Gen Don last Friday morning, he emphasized his contention to get control of the Special Forces. I note ref C reports decision has been made to maintain the Special Forces but to delimit their functions and to subordinate command to the JGS and corps commanders.
- During same conversation with Gen Don, proficiency of Gen Cao was discussed and I got definite impression that a change would be made in order to give better leadership to the accelerated military effort to be undertaken in IV Corps. Ref D reports that Gen Cao has been relieved by B Gen Nhon.
- It important, of course, for combat units brought into Saigon during coup to be returned to their field duties at [of] fighting the war. My staff estimates that there is an equivalent of one and one-half divisions in Saigon area not counting troops from Quang Trung training center and Thu Duc. Ref C reports no significant change in Saigon troop disposition since the coup and that situation should start to improve by the coming weekend.
- VNAF had been operating under restrictions as to armament load. Ref C reports restrictions have been lifted.
- We hope to see soon increased tempo of operations in the field and implementation of intent as stated orally by the gens.
- It particularly important to obtain whole-hearted support of civilian leaders and institutions.
- Under Diem regime, restrictions were placed against military psyops directed toward population in support of civic action program. We can expect these restrictions to be lifted.
- It encouraging to note that police in Saigon are back on the job.
- Ref D gives preliminary report on province chiefs. I would expect new arrangement to destroy parallel system established by Diem whereby province chiefs could switch hats and bypass the corps commanders and the JGS.
- I think it important to determine the future of Nhu’s Republican Youth Organization.
- We can assume that Nhu had an organization which was penetrating the military. Counter-coup planning would emanate from these infiltrators. They should be weeded out.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, Defense Cables. Secret; Priority; Exclusive. Repeated for information to Harkins and passed by JCS to the White House exclusive for Bundy; to the CIA exclusive for McCone; and to the Department of State exclusive for Rusk, Ball, Harriman, and Hilsman.↩
- Document 276.↩
- Document 285.↩
- Document 295.↩
- Document 287.↩