52. Letter From the Deputy Chief of Mission in Vietnam (Nes) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Hilsman)1
Dear Roger: I am sending along to you for what it is worth my personal views on Where We Stand in Viet-Nam conveyed to Ambassador Lodge in the enclosed Memorandum. They vary in several important respects from those held by many high ranking American officials far more experienced with the Vietnamese scene than I. In defense of the judgments I have reached, I can only say that I approached VietNam with little previous knowledge but with an open mind and no vested interest in past counterinsurgency policies or operations.
My most disillusioning experience has been with the MACV-MAAG operation which seems to be tailored largely toward providing the U.S. military establishment, within the framework of World War II Conventional Doctrine, organization and weapons, a fertile field for the utilization and promotion of its senior officers rather than as an instrument to deal with guerrilla war. I have an idea [Page 90]that were you and I, with our Burma experience, to take over from the nineteen General officers we have out here, we might put some realism into the military side of our operations against the VC.
I will have a great deal more to say about our Vietnamese adventure as time goes on but you may rest assured that I will say it only through channels, i.e., to you and to Ambassador Lodge.
- Source: Department of State, William Bundy Files, WPB Special Papers. Secret; Official-Informal. Hilsman sent a copy of this letter to Forrestal for his information with the following handwritten note: “Another old Burma hand you have to deal with!! R.H.” On March 5, Green sent this copy to the newly-designated Assistant Secretary of State for Ear Eastern Affairs, William Bundy, stating that the letter with its enclosure “presents views you will be interested in.”↩
- These telegrams, February 13, 13, and 14, respectively, described the rationale of the French for their campaign for neutralism of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 CHICOM, POL 16 CHICOM, and POL VIET S, respectively)↩
- See Document 42.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 4.↩