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

I attach a preliminary summary made here of the anticipated deployments of the additional military personnel requested by General Taylor for Vietnam.

[Page 559]

The picture is still incomplete, but I think you should note that approximately 1,600 U.S. officers and enlisted men will be assigned to the field, either with battalions or in district headquarters. This will probably mean that American servicemen will accompany more Vietnamese units into combat, increasing their exposure at the battalion level by some 40%.

The presence of approximately five U.S. servicemen in each of the critical 45 districts will also have an appreciable effect on exposure, since their job would presumably be to accompany district military forces into combat with the Viet Cong.

I think the issue we have to think about is whether it is better simply to let casualties increase over the next few months or whether we should anticipate the possibilities of such casualties by announcing in general terms that we are increasing our advisory presence in the field.

My own inclination is still to do the latter, not by talking about specific numbers, but rather by indicating informally to the press that our civilian and military advisory effort is going to be increased as the situation demands and that the result of this will probably be more exposure of U.S. personnel.




  • Additional Support for RVN

1. The request for additional military support from Ambassador Taylor can be broken down into three main categories. These are: advisors and special forces in the field, logistic and combat support personnel, and items of equipment. A general breakdown of the above categories derived from incomplete information follows:

A. Advisory Personnel in the Field (approximately 1600)

  • Army
  • Bn/Dist Adv—700 personnel
  • Spec Forces—592 personnel

Battalion advisors will be increased from 3 per battalion to 5. A district advisory detachment will be assigned to each of 45 districts in the 8 critical provinces. The breakdown will average 5 US personnel [Page 560] per district. The duties of the personnel at district level and the exact number in each specific district has not been determined. The increase in the Special Forces contingent in Viet Nam will include a group headquarters. The Special Forces increase will allow for extension of the program on the border, increased guerrilla type operations and will provide for full A detachments at all Special Forces camps instead of 1/2 A detachments which are now in many Special Forces camps.

  • Navy
  • Navy Adv Group—73 personnel

This increase will provide US Navy advisors with [to] greater number of Vietnamese naval craft

  • Marine Corps
  • Navy Adv Group—8 personnel

This increase will provide additional Marine advisors to Marine battalions in essentially the same number as additional Army advisors provided to Army battalions.

  • Air Force
  • ALO/FAC—149 personnel

This increase provides Air liaison officers and forward air controllers.

B. Support Personnel (approximately 2100)

The additional personnel fall into three categories: additions to MACV staff, additions to logistic support activities and additions to combat support activities. The bulk of the personnel will be provided to fly and maintain the aircraft of one Air Force C–123 squadron (16 aircraft), one Army Caribou company (16 aircraft) and 2 Army UH–1B helicopter companies (total 50 aircraft). The majority of these personnel will probably wind up in the Saigon-Tan Son Nhut area.

C. Items of Equipment

Major items of equipment required will be 16 USAF C–123 aircraft, and 106 Army aircraft to include 77 UH–1B and 16 CV–2B (Caribou) aircraft, 336 one-quarter ton trucks, 478 radios and medical equipment for a ten-bed field hospital.

2. In summary, the number of US advisors is nearly doubled at the lower echelon and the number of locations of US advisors at the end of communications and supply lines is nearly doubled. The increase of personnel at the lower level coupled with the increase in [Page 561] helicopter units will undoubtedly create a situation in which a great many more Americans will be exposed to hostile fire than are at present.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. XIV, Memos. Secret
  2. Secret.