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[Page 197]

59. National Security Study Memorandum 371

TO

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT

  • Vietnam

As indicated in NSDM 9 of April 1, 1969,2 the President has directed the preparation of certain studies on Vietnam. He has asked that the following papers be prepared by the interdepartmental Ad Hoc Group on Vietnam and submitted to the NSC Review Group by the dates indicated.

Phased Withdrawals

a.

Mutual Withdrawal

This paper should examine the modalities of mutual withdrawal, whether agreed to publicly or privately by both sides, tacit, or de facto. It should cover timetables, phasing, types of personnel, regroupment, local cease fires and any other relevant subjects. Military, logistic, territorial and political factors and implications should be considered. (May 16, 1969)

b.

Vietnamizing the War

This paper should examine the modalities of US withdrawals under conditions of our progressively turning over combat efforts to the South Vietnamese in the absence of reciprocal enemy withdrawals. It should cover timetables, phasing, types of personnel, regroupment, and substitution of South Vietnamese forces. Military, logistic, territorial, and political factors and implications should be considered.

This study should reflect the findings of the preliminary report of the Secretary of Defense on a specific timetable for Vietnamizing the war. (June 13, 1969) (See NSSM 36)3

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Verification for Mutual Withdrawal

This paper should examine various means and mechanisms for verifying the process and completion of mutual withdrawals, whether agreed to publicly or privately by both sides, tacit, or de facto.4 It should set forth the advantages and disadvantages of various types of verification machinery including joint belligerent commissions, reactivation of the ICC, and creation of new international groups (such as an Asian body). The paper should include a discussion of our unilateral capability to verify withdrawals drawing on all sources of information. It should consider how agreed arrangements can usefully supplement our unilateral capabilities. (May 16, 1969)

Political Settlement for South Vietnam

This study should explore various types of political settlement within South Vietnam and the possible US role concerning these questions. The paper should examine all feasible options, including elections at all levels, sharing of governmental power before and/or after elections, constitutional considerations, agreed or de facto territorial accommodations, decentralization of government power. The study should discuss the feasibility of each alternative and the likely attitudes of the GVN, the various segments of the South Vietnamese populace, the NLF, and Hanoi. It should evaluate the likely evolution within South Vietnam under alternative arrangements. Finally, the possible US role—in Vietnam as well as in the negotiations—in achieving a political settlement should be covered. (May 16, 1969)

International Guarantees

The paper should explore the subject of international guarantees for

  • —mutual withdrawal
  • —political settlement in South Vietnam
  • —the DMZ
  • —any other appropriate aspects of an overall Vietnam settlement.

In so doing, the study should be consistent with the separate papers on mutual withdrawal, verification for mutual withdrawal, political settlement for SVN, and our policy on the DMZ. This paper should [Page 199]discuss the advantages and disadvantages of attempting to achieve international guarantees, and ways to negotiate them—e.g., at Paris, in a follow-on international conference, etc. (June 13, 1969)

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–142, NSSM Files, NSSM 37. Top Secret; Sensitive. A copy was sent to General Wheeler.
  2. Document 51.
  3. Document 58.
  4. In a May 1 memorandum to Rogers, Laird, and Helms, Kissinger amended NSSM 37 to read: “the specification for a paper on ‘Verification for Mutual Withdrawal’ should be amended by adding the following sentences after the first sentence: ‘In addition, the paper should examine the requirements for verifying that there is no resumption of infiltration in the future, in a post-withdrawal situation. For both purposes, the means and mechanisms for verifying should include a careful discussion of manpower and logistic requirements. The paper should set forth…’ ” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–142, NSSM Files, NSSM 37)