183. Record of ANZUS Council Meeting1
[Omitted here are the opening remarks by the delegations, followed by a report on the British withdrawal from Southeast Asian affairs.]
Holyoake suggested passing on to other agenda items and asked if anyone had comments regarding Viet-Nam.
Hasluck said he had three questions:
- In the light of the Tet offensive is there perhaps some need for improvement of allied intelligence techniques? The Secretary recalled that prior to the offensive we had received a fair amount of strategic information and as a result U.S. forces were on a general alert. However, we did not have adequate detailed intelligence information as to specific timing, targets, etc. This is due, he said, to a number of factors, including apathy and fear on the part of local population, and he agreed that improvements in this area would be desirable.
- How long can the North Vietnamese sustain their present level of military effort, Hasluck queried? The Secretary responded that this is hard to estimate. In fact, he said, they would have the capability to maintain military operations almost indefinitely. However, this would not mean that they would not decide to stop operations for a variety of reasons, including materiel and manpower costs.
- How effective will 135 thousand additional South Vietnamese troops be and how soon will their military effectiveness be achieved? The Secretary replied that South Vietnamese recruits are given a nine-week basic training course and thus would begin to show up in military units about June. He noted that two-thirds of GVN forces are volunteers and that the now effective policy of battlefield promotions has had good effect on military morale.
Hasluck asked the Secretary’s assessment of the domestic South Vietnamese political situation. The Secretary replied that relationships [Page 536] between Thieu and Ky are improving and leadership cooperation now is more satisfactory. Neither, however, is a dynamic figure capable of inspiring and guiding national efforts. We have made clear in Viet-Nam, the Secretary said, that the one thing we cannot tolerate is a coup against the constitutional South Viet-Nam Government that has been established. The Secretary predicted that the upcoming period of contacts and possible negotiations with North Viet-Nam would be difficult and troublesome and he said we hope that problems can be avoided by consultation with the GVN and other allies.
[Omitted here are discussion of issues relating to SEATO, Japan, and Laos, and a joint communique issued at the conclusion of the meeting.]
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 4 ANZUS. Secret; Limdis. Rusk represented the United States, Prime Minister Keith Holyoake acted as host and represented New Zealand, and Minister for External Affairs Paul Hasluck led Australia’s delegation to the Seventeeth ANZUS Council meeting. The record was prepared by Robert Lindquist, Country Director for Australia and New Zealand in EA.↩