192. Letter From President Ford to President Thieu 1

Dear Mr. President:

I am very much aware of the difficult times you are now experiencing. I have asked Ambassador Martin to convey to you my admiration for your determination, your resolution and courage. I am convinced that in the end the South Vietnamese people, under your [Page 696]leadership, will be successful in their fight to preserve their independence and free institutions.

I very much regret that events over the last twelve months—events which neither of us could completely control—resulted in a diminution of the American material support which your government had fully expected to receive. While I deeply regret the consequent military redeployments you felt compelled to take, I fully understand the reasons for these actions to reduce extended lines of communication and resupply and permit a more effective concentration of your military forces to defend the vital areas.

The essential problem now is to determine with precision the actions we both may take to present the best prospects for the future. Although you may have received a rather gloomy assessment of American public and Congressional attitudes on the prospects for adequate amounts of economic and military aid, I think the situation has now changed considerably. Your military redeployments portrayed the actual realities of the current situation in Vietnam far more graphically than words. Consequently, there is a growing awareness in this country of your urgent need for additional aid in adequate amounts.

You may rest assured that we will make every effort to secure from the Congress adequate amounts of aid for South Vietnam. We fully realize that this must be done promptly.

To insure that I am fully and completely informed and that our military aid requests are specifically designed to meet your actual current needs, I am asking your old friend, General Fred Weyand, to accompany Ambassador Martin on his return to Saigon. I am certain that you will review the current situation with him with complete candor and inform him fully on those items you and your military advisors believe to be the most crucial at this time.

I am also aware that some members of your staff have speculated from time to time that American interests elsewhere have lessened the interest of the United States in Vietnam. Ambassador Martin informs me that you understand this could not possibly be true since the way we discharge our commitment to the Republic of Vietnam inevitably affects the credibility of American interests everywhere. Therefore, our firm intention remains to help insure the Republic of Vietnam’s economic viability and its capability to defend its own freedom and institutions.

Achievement of these aims will require maximum efforts on both sides. It also requires that we remain in close and intimate communication. I have instructed Ambassador Martin to forward directly for my attention any communications which you think necessary.

Our peoples have both surmounted even more difficult times in the past. You and your people may be assured of my continued firm [Page 697]support and of my resolve to do everything I can to help the Republic of Vietnam. Once again, I am confident that our joint endeavors will be successful.

With my warmest personal good wishes.


Gerald R. Ford
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 5, Vietnam, President Nguyen Van Thieu. No classification marking. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “To be delivered by Amb Martin.”