228. Letter From the President to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Taylor)1

Dear Ambassador Taylor: As you take charge of the American effort in South Vietnam, I want you to have this formal expression not only of my confidence, but of my desire that you have and exercise full responsibility for the effort of the United States Government in South Vietnam. In general terms this authority is parallel to that set forth in President Kennedy’s letter of May 29,1961 to all American Ambassadors; specifically, I wish it clearly understood that this overall responsibility includes the whole military effort in South Vietnam and authorizes the degree of command and control that you consider appropriate.

I recognize that in the conduct of the day-to-day business of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, you will wish to work out arrangements which do not burden you or impede the exercise of your overall direction.

At your convenience, I should be glad to know of the arrangements which you propose for meeting the terms of this instruction, so that appropriate supporting action can be taken in the Defense Department and elsewhere as necessary.

This letter rescinds all conflicting instructions to U.S. officers in Vietnam.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, T–161–69. Confidential. Taylor was appointed Ambassador to Vietnam on July 1, arrived in Saigon on July 7, and presented his credentials on July 14. The White House copy of this letter is published in Declassified Documents, 1976, 219C.