223. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Vietnam (Sullivan) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Third Country Assistance in South Viet Nam

You asked me yesterday what action the White House could take to assist in obtaining concrete offers of support from third countries for the effort in South Viet Nam. There are three specific categories of action which I would propose:

The President should make absolutely clear to General Taylor, and through General Taylor to the U.S. Mission in Saigon, the political requirement for this third country assistance. There is ample indication that our own mission, specifically the military element, looks upon third country assistance with very little zeal. This is partly because of their experience in allied commands, such as Korea, in which the care and feeding of these third country elements has always proved far more trouble than it is worth. It is also been reflected in the fact that such an organization as the British Advisory Mission, which is composed of skilled counterinsurgency and police officers, has sat for nearly three years in Viet Nam with only limited relationships with the United States command. It may therefore be necessary for the President to put in writing an indication of the importance which he attaches to these third country contributions and the necessity that the U.S. Mission bend over backwards to accommodate them.
I will draft today a circular telegram to various ambassadors in posts which have lagged in the production of voluntary contributions. This telegram will be as from the President and will pin upon the ambassadors personally the responsibility for obtaining these contributions. [Page 527]I will send it over to you for your clearances during the course of the day.2
As a last resort, we may require that the President actually address appeals to foreign chiefs of state or chiefs of government. For example, in Canada our representations have lain on the Minister of External Affairs’ desk for over a month. It may require a letter or a telephone call to the Prime Minister if our ambassador is unable to deliver.

William H. Sullivan3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File. Vietnam Country File. Vol. XII, Memos. Confidential.
  2. The telegram was not sent for reasons explained in a memorandum from Forrestal to McGeorge Bundy, June 26:

    “Bill Sullivan and I have agreed to hold up getting the President to sign off on a tough cable to some of our embassies abroad until we have received an answer to our request to Saigon for a list of the categories of people and units which would be useful to the war effort.”

    “This list was expected today, but has not yet come in, and we have queried the field again. We felt that it would not be satisfactory to have the President write a general message to the ambassadors without having a concrete idea of what it was he was asking them to do.” (Ibid.)

    A draft of the circular telegram, June 25, with extensive revisions by McGeorge Bundy and a marginal note that it was “not used” is ibid., Vol. XIII.

  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.