167. National Security Action Memorandum No. 3621

MEMORANDUM TO

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense

SUBJECT

  • Responsibility for U.S. Role in Pacification (Revolutionary Development)

U.S. civil/military responsibility for support of Pacification (Revolutionary Development) in Viet Nam will be integrated under a single manager concept to provide added thrust forward in this critical field.2

Because the bulk of the people and resources involved are military, COMUSMACV will be charged with this responsibility in Viet Nam, under the overall authority of the Ambassador.

To carry out these responsibilities, under COMUSMACV, Mr. Robert W. Komer will be appointed Deputy for Pacification (Revolutionary Development) with personal rank of ambassador.

To this end the present functions and personnel of the Office of Civil Operations of the U. S. Mission will become a part of MACV. For the time being its civilian components will continue to be supported with funds, personnel, and other requirements by the civil agencies involved, such as State, AID, USIA, CIA, and Department of Agriculture. COMUSMACV is expected to call on these agencies, as well as the relevant [Page 399]military agencies, for all resources needed for accomplishment of his mission. I hereby charge all U. S. departments and agencies with meeting these requirements promptly and effectively.

One purpose of unifying responsibility for Pacification (RD) under COMUSMACV is to permit logistic and administrative economies through consolidation and cross-servicing. I expect sensible steps to be taken in this direction. Any inter-agency jurisdictional or other issues which may arise in country will be referred to the U. S. Ambassador.

Ambassador William Leonhart will assume from Mr. Komer the Washington supervisory responsibilities already assigned in NSAM 343,3 and will be appointed Special Assistant to the President for this purpose.

This new organizational arrangement represents an unprecedented melding of civil and military responsibilities to meet the overriding requirements of Viet Nam. Therefore, I count on all concerned—in Washington and in Viet Nam—to pull together in the national interest to make this arrangement work.

Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, National Security Action Memorandums (NSAM), NSAM 362. Confidential.
  2. Bunker wanted to keep this announcement “in low key” by including it in a press conference on personnel changes in the Mission’s organization. Discussion of the announcement is in telegrams 25028 and 25029 from Saigon, May 8 (both ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S) and telegram CAP 67411 from Rostow to the President, May 8. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, NODIS Vol. VI) Regarding Bunker’s press conference, held on May 11, see footnote 3, Document 150. Komer received a report on May 9 asserting that the takeover of OCO’s functions had been leaked “to force quick resolution of the situation in a favorable way.” Speculation abounded that a significant number of civilians associated with the program would resign, and new hires would be difficult to find. (Center for Military History, Dep CORDS/MACV Files, Organization (CORDS/MACCORDS General): 1966–68) The President later told reporter Keyes Beech of the Chicago Daily News that even though he had given Westmoreland greater authority over pacification for “maximum efficiency,” Bunker remained “still in charge” of all aspects of the Vietnam Mission. (Memorandum of conversation, May 13; Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Subject File, GC–1, Notes on Meeting—President 1967)
  3. In NSAM No. 343, March 28, 1966, the President appointed Komer as his Special Assistant to coordinate and supervise the non-military programs in Vietnam. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IV, Document 102.