456. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy0

Conference on Laos

You are meeting at 4:30 this afternoon with Secretary Rusk or Ball, Governor Harriman, Mr. Hilsman, General Taylor, General Carter, and certain associates of theirs, to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Plain of Jars.

General Carter will be prepared to give you the latest intelligence information concerning Kong Le’s position. Mr. Hilsman will describe the positions which Souvanna Phouma has taken in the last two days and the diplomatic situation.

It may be proposed that Governor Harriman go to Moscow as soon as possible to impress the Soviets with the fact that there is real danger of U.S. physical involvement in Laos if the Geneva Accords continue to be flagrantly violated by the Pathet Lao and the Viet Minh. Such a trip would only be required, however, if the military advise you and you decide that all or most of the options realistically available to the United States in the event of a future collapse of the Western position in Laos would be the use of some form of military force, including part or all of CinCPac Plan 3263.1

The military will probably raise the question of whether American troops should be introduced into Laos under any circumstances.

Governor Harriman will want to feel that such an introduction is a real possibility before undertaking a trip to Moscow. He feels that one of the essential elements in any pressure that the Soviets may be able to bring to bear on Hanoi is their belief that the United States would get itself re-involved in Laos if the situation deteriorates further. It must be possible to make this position clear to the Soviets at the risk of having our bluff called.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Laos: General, 4/1/63–4/19/63. Secret. Drafted by Forrestal.
  2. CINCPAC Plan 32–63 provided for the overall defense of Southeast Asia.