299. Telegram From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Document 276.
  3. Document 285.
  4. Document 295.
  5. Document 287.