40. Editorial Note

On February 11, 1966, McGeorge Bundy issued National Security Action Memorandum No. 284, “Official Visits to South Vietnam,” which directed that official visits by high-ranking military and civilian personnel to South Vietnam be coordinated with the Department of State [Page 68]through the Chairman of the Committee on Policy and Operations in Vietnam. NSAM 284 superseded NSAM 217, January 25, 1963, printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume III, page 63.

On January 10, 1964, Roger Hilsman had recommended to the Executive Secretary of the Department of State, Benjamin Read, that NSAM 217 be reissued. Hilsman’s memorandum to Read reads in part as follows:

“As you know, there has been a constant flow of high-level visitors to South Viet-Nam during the past couple months. I feel quite strongly that we must be careful not to overload this circuit. After all our purpose in Viet-Nam is to get on with the war. To the extent we divert the Generals as well as our own people from this task, we are not helping matters. It is clear that the Generals themselves feel we have been too importunate in the matter of visitors, and I am sure that Ambassador Lodge shares this view.”

Hilsman asked that the Assistant Secretary of State be given responsibility for coordinating visits to South Vietnam. Read complied, because the draft of NSAM 284 which he sent Bundy indicated Hilsman as the coordinator. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–10 VIET S) The NSAM as issued, however, gave the responsibility to William Sullivan, the newly-designated Chairman of the Vietnam Committee. For Sullivan’s responsibilities, see Document 46.