300. Memorandum from Gen. Taylor to Members of the Special Group, October 151

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  • U.S. Support of Foreign Paramilitary Forces

1. Developments inimical to the best interests of the United States which have recently occurred in Vietnam and in Honduras may be attributed in some measure to the existence and improper employment of paramilitary units, other than the regular armed forces, which have been developed with U.S. support. In Vietnam, elements of the Special Forces have been used by the Diem regime as a political police for purposes of repression. In Honduras, the Civil Guard has been regarded as a political army of the ruling Liberal Party. In the latter case, the basic conflict of interest between the politically oriented paramilitary force and the regular armed forces appears to have been a substantial factor in the overthrow of constitutional government.

2. The fact that the Honduran Civil Guard was a political instrument of the Liberal Party was not unknown to the United States, nor was the fact that serious friction, involving armed clashes between personnel of the Civil Guard and the armed forces, had existed for some time. Nevertheless, U.S. training and material assistance were still provided for continued development of the Guard.

3. The events which have now taken place in Honduras bring into question the advisability of our having pursued a policy leading to the development of rival centers of armed power within the country, and suggest that U.S. programs in other countries should be reviewed to determine whether similar potentially dangerous situations are being fostered. I recommend that such a review of programs in countries on the critical list be accomplished by the interagency working groups which monitor internal defense plans, and that the results be reported to the Special Group.

Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Recommends a review of U.S. programs in support of foreign paramilitary forces. Secret. 1 p. Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 70 D 258, SGCI General 1963.