Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011
TOP SECRET – Sensitive
- the above program does not provide adequate security for the Associated States against external aggression after the withdrawal of the French forces. With the Viet Minh increasing the size and effectiveness of their forces and with no forces in being committed to mutual defense under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the above long-range program would be insufficient to provide more than limited initial resistance to an organized military assault by the Viet Minh.34
Another memorandum of November 17 indicated how quickly the United States had moved to inaugurate the crash program approved at the October 22 NSC meeting. Secretary Dulles outlined for President Eisenhower the recommendations of General J. Lawton Collins, special envoy sent to Vietnam to over-see all U.S. operations, coordinate them with French programs and get things moving. Collins recommended the the "Vietnamese National Army...be reduced by July 1955 to 77,000. It should be placed under Vietnamese command and control by that date....The cost to the U.S. would be two hundred million dollars annually....The United States should assume training responsibility...by January 1, 1955, with French cooperation and utilizing French trainers."
Collins insisted that French forces be retained in Vietnam:
- It would be disastrous if the French Expeditionary Corps were withdrawn prematurely since otherwise Vietnam would be overrun by an enemy attack before the Manila Pact Powers could act.
To "encourage the French to retain sufficient forces," Collins urged U.S. financial support of at least $100 million through December 1955 General Ely concurred.35
The situation in Vietnam during the autumn of 1954 invited an action program of some kind — any kind. Premier Diem barely controlled Saigon; he was opposed by his army's chief of staff, by powerful sect politicians guarding significant special interests with powerful sect armies; he was at least tacitly opposed by many French in Vietnam. The countryside had been devastated by the war; communications, administration and financial operations were stalled; an already prostrate economy was threatened by the deluge of some 860,000 refugees from the north. Over all hung "an atmosphere of frustration and disillusionment" created by the Geneva Accords and imposed partition, "compounded by widespread uncertainty as to French and US intentions."36 U.S. policy in August set out to correct the uncertainty: Diem was to be supported by both America and France. But U.S. policy could not eliminate Diem's opposition.