163. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

1820. For Ambassador and Alex Johnson from Bundy. As you are aware there is intense interest at highest levels here in maximizing effectiveness [Page 368] pacification program.2 Regardless of what is accomplished with reference to North Viet Nam and infiltration problem, peace and independence will be secured in South Viet-Nam only through pacification, and there is concern here, which I am sure you share, that in some aspects program falling short of goals. Concepts and definitions forwarded airgram 6023 provide us with useful picture Mission thinking and we have also reviewed problem here on interagency basis and are pouching to you questions and proposals for your consideration developed by interagency/group.

Unfortunately McGeorge Bundy visit too brief to permit full examination this problem although it was their conclusion that pacification program requires strengthening, particularly at margin between military action and civilian programs, i.e. in strengthening and closely gearing together security actions, civil affairs and civic action by MACV and RVNAF on one hand and police, provincial operations and economic and social programs by USOM and Ministries on the other. On basis interagency study here we also concerned over gap in pacification process following end of strictly military program and resumption regular civil government. Study also brought out questions concerning selection and training of pacification cadres; adequacy of Vietnamese comprehension of pacification and supporting US programs and objectives; need to assure prompt and flexible funding for province pacification activities; need for maximum of initiative and decision at province level to permit exploiting special opportunities (such as strong province chiefs and secure areas) and adapting to non-typical circumstances; taking full advantage special groups like students, montagnards, religious organizations, labor; etc. You undoubtedly have much longer list of questions and can probably also dispel what may be our misconceptions of incomplete understanding within this highly complicated and crucial field of activity. I feel we should periodically assure we are moving in step.

With this in mind I would like your views on the desirability of my taking several days on my trip en route to Baguio4 to consult with you on pacification program. To facilitate our discussion questions and proposals mentioned above are being pouched. Would it also be useful if I were preceded by small interagency team to prepare ground for our discussions [Page 369] and assure follow-up in each agency in Washington? Alternatively would you prefer to defer visit such team and leave decision on this to be made during my visit?

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Unger, cleared in substance by Wheeler, McNaughton, Cooper, Stoneman, and Bunce of USIA, and approved by Rusk and William Bundy.
  2. See paragraph 2a, Document 131.
  3. Dated February 5, airgram 602 forwarded 15 copies of the U.S. Mission Council-approved “Concept of Pacification and Certain Definitions and Procedures.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)
  4. A Far East ambassadorial conference was scheduled to meet at Baguio in the Philippines on March 9.