235. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Martin)1

WH50706. 1. I have reviewed with care your proposed scenario for reducing the numbers of US citizens in Viet-Nam. While I have great sympathy for your concerns about the impact on the political and military situation of a too rapid withdrawal, I must regretfully tell you that the U.S. political situation will not permit withdrawals at the rates you propose. The issue of the numbers of US citizens and their dependents in Viet-Nam is rapidly becoming the focal point of congressional debate on the President’s request for military and economic assistance to Viet-Nam. We now face the definite possibility that both the House and Senate will zero in on the speed of our withdrawal, that this will become the total focus of the debate, and that as a result we will lose any chance of obtaining the money we have requested because of a totally phony issue.

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2. With this in mind, I must ask that you accelerate your present schedule for reducing the number of US citizens in Viet-Nam both in time and numbers. I suggest at the outset that you focus on withdrawing as rapidly as you can all repeat all Mission dependents and as many of the contractor personnel and their dependents as possible. You should do your best to accomplish this move by the end of this week.

3. In addition I ask that you give me by COB Washington time on April 18 your proposals on how you would plan to get down to a total of about 2,000 US citizens (official and nonofficial) in Viet-Nam by the end of next week.2

4. I have just learned that the President has said publicly today that he has ordered the evacuation of all nonessential Americans from Viet-Nam.3 I know that this will make your task in Viet-Nam more difficult, but it also makes it that much more important that we be able to tell the Congress that we are doing everything we can to carry out the President’s publicly stated promise.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 3, Martin Channel, Outgoing, April 1975 (1). Secret; Flash.
  2. See Document 239.
  3. On April 16 the President addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors and later held a question-and-answer session; see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1975, Book I, pp. 494–505.