74. Memorandum From the Secretary of Defense (McNamara) to the Members of the McNamara-Taylor Mission to Vietnam1


  • McNamara-Taylor Mission to South Vietnam

The purpose of our mission is to appraise the current strength of the SVN government; to review the political and military trends of the past four months; to estimate the outlook for the future, assuming no change in current US policies; and to evaluate alternative courses of action in the event it appears current policies will not lead to attainment of our objective.

I do not propose to submit a final written report to the President immediately following our return. Instead, I shall prepare a draft memorandum from which another report will be made. I hope it will be possible for the senior members of the party to concur in all significant points in the draft memorandum; in the event we cannot agree, the dissenting views will be expressed fully as footnotes to the report.

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While in SVN, I believe we should minimize both formal and informal contacts with the press. Please review your plans for any such discussions with Arthur Sylvester before they take place and inform him of the substance of the discussions after the event.

I do not believe it should be necessary for individual members of the party, while in SVN, to send interim reports to their Departments or Agencies in Washington. If at any time you believe such a report is required, please furnish me a copy of the proposed message.

Robert S. McNamara
  1. Source: Department of State, Bundy Files, WPB Special Papers. Confidential. Addressed to Bell, McCone, McNaughton, William Bundy, Sullivan, and Sylvester who, with the addition of McNamara and Taylor, made up the mission to South Vietnam. They arrived in Saigon on March 8 and returned to Washington on March 12.