22. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • Top Level Reorganization in Saigon

Dave Bell, Bob McNamara, George Ball and I have now had a chance to talk some more about top level organization in Saigon which you asked me to work on at the end of December.

There is fairly general agreement now that the most important gap in Saigon is in the overall command of the pacification effort and establishing real security in a growing number of villages. According to Bell and others this is more critical than the task of resource allocation.

There is also considerable agreement that the right man to run this pacification job is Deputy Ambassador Porter. He has fully lived up to the expectations of his backers, and McNamara and I have both decided that our doubts of last summer are unjustified.

Porterʼs only trouble is that he has become fully indispensable to Lodge in a lot of day-to-day administration and hand-holding. The pacification job is a full time task, and if we settle on Porter, we shall have to get another senior diplomat type to support Lodge on the things that Porter is doing now. A lot of us lean toward Leonard Unger for this job.

In addition to a pacification chief, we need a stronger requirements planning group in Saigon to deal with the real problem of resource allocation. But we think this could be done by finding the right first-rate bureaucrats. We do not see room in Saigon for a business executive. There is agreement that MACV and AID have plenty of management. [Page 64] What they lack is coordinated planning and control, and we are now inclined to think that this job can be done by Lodge, Westmoreland and Porter with the right staff support.

A pacification chief in the field will need a back-up man here. We are still working on that problem of organization and should have a concerted recommendation for you soon.

To persuade Lodge of the virtue of these changes is likely to mean a trip to Saigon for one of us, and I would like to do this myself. There is a slight problem of timing, however, as I do not think I ought to go to Saigon while the pause is going on because my last trip was so intimately associated with the initiation of the bombing. My current thought, therefore, is that Porter (who is here now) should go out and talk this matter over with Lodge in a preliminary way, and that I might follow early in February.

None of this requires immediate decision, but it is background for the suggestion that you might wish to see Porter briefly before he goes back. He will be here until Monday morning.2 Quite aside from the organization problem, he has a lot of interesting things to say about the situation in Saigon today, and he will give you good value for a fifteen minute appointment.

McG. B.

Arrange an appointment3

Let him go back

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President—McGeorge Bundy, vol. 18. Secret.
  2. January 17.
  3. The President checked this option. He met with Porter from 12:36 to 1:01 p.m. on January 17. (Johnson Library, Presidentʼs Daily Diary) No record of the conversation has been found, but Bundyʼs briefing memorandum for the President, January 17, on “Possible topics for your talk with Porter” is ibid., National Security File, Memos to the President—McGeorge Bundy, vol. 18.