28. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State1

Secto 74. For Ball and McNamara from Rusk. Regarding Tosec 702 believe it would be well to move naval units into Tourane area approaching from north where their pressure would become known to other side. One of my recommendations upon return will be that we consider very seriously maintenance of a naval presence in either Tourane or Cam Ranh Bay areas until pacification completed. Cover story for present move would be exercise to examine and test ability coastal areas South Viet-nam to receive and accommodate external naval forces. Believe Khanh would be entirely cooperative but story should be checked with him before issuance. Do not believe in view of what Unger has said forcefully in Vientiane that coup leaders will misinterpret. Naval presence might be encouraging to Souvanna Phouma.

Would not recommend movement of troops to Thailand for present (though units should be alerted). Part of reason is that it not wholly clear Thai not involved in coup in some way.

Bundy has reservations about naval units entering VN harbors or being visible from shore, at least until Laos situation clarifies. Believes presence naval units is minimum show readiness to act, but that actual visibility might produce ambiguous effect in Hanoi that could trigger action.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Flash; Exdis. Received at the Department of State at 9:30 p.m. April 19. Passed to the White House, CIA, JCS, OSD, and USUN.
  2. Document 25.