1961 – Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev declares that the Soviets will back all ‘wars of national liberation’ around the world. This will greatly influence the incoming Kennedy administration to support a strategy of ‘counterinsurgency,’ particularly in Vietnam.
1960 – The International Control Commission, which oversees the implementation of the Geneva Agreements of 1954, agrees to A South Vietnamese government request for the United States to double it’s Military Advisory Assistance Group (MAAG) presence to 685. North Vietnam protests the approval and accuses the United States of turning South Vietnam into ‘a US military base for the preparation of a new war.’
1961 – Hanoi captures at least three members of Lansdale’s US-trained First Observation Group when their US C-47 aircraft goes down, whether by enemy fire or due to engine trouble remains unknown.
1961 – General Lansdale submits a report on the ‘First Observation Group,’ the clandestine warfare unit ordered by President Kennedy in May. About to expand from 340 to 805 men, the group’s activities are soon to shift form actions against Vietcong in the South and focus entirely on North Vietnam.
1960 – In a cable to Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, US Ambassador In Saigon, Elbridge Durbrow analyzes two separate threats to the Diem regime–danger from demonstration or coup, predominantly non-Communist in origin; and the danger of the gradual Communist extension of control over the countryside.
1961 – At a meeting of the National Security Council, President Kennedy is asked to accept ‘as our real and ultimate objective the defeat of the Vietcong.’ The Joint Chiefs of Staff estimate that 40,000 US troops could clean up ‘the Vietcong threat,’ and another 120,000 could cope with possible North Vietnamese or Communist Chinese intervention. Kennedy decides to send General Maxwell Taylor to Vietnam to study the situation.
1961 – General Maxwell Taylor arrives in Saigon for a one week fact finding tour. He is greeted by President Diem’s formal declaration of a state of emergency, a result of increased Vietcong activity and severe floods. Diem asks for tactical aviation, helicopter companies, coastal patrol forces, and ground transport, and reiterates his desire for a bilateral defense treaty with the United States. General Taylor perceives the disastrous flooding in the Mekong Delta as a potential cover for the introduction of 6,000 to 8,000 US combat troops, which might be withdrawn or augmented after the work of flood rehabilitation is completed.
1961 – Following his one week mission to Vietnam, General Maxwell Taylor writes to President Kennedy from the Philippines, urging the commitment of a ‘US military task force’ to Vietnam and advocates a ‘massive joint effort’ with the South Vietnamese to cope with the flood and the Vietcong. He feels the presence of US ground troops is essential ‘to reverse the present downward trend of events.’ Cabling from japan, Secretary of State Dean Rusk acknowledges the great importance of the security of Southeast Asia, but questions Diem’s abilities as well as the ability of South Vietnam to succeed against the Communists even with US help.
1961 – General Taylor’s final report proposes a hard commitment of US ground forces and introduces the concept of US ‘limited partnership’ in Vietnam, suggesting that the US military mission in Saigon become something nearer to an operational headquarters in a theater of war. The report assumes that the Americans can supply the South Vietnamese with the fervor needed to win, and asserts that if all else fails, the United States can count on the bombing of North Vietnam or even the threat of bombing to hold Hanoi and other Communist nations at bay, avoiding the risk of a major land war. Kennedy eventually rejects this approach, but soon after Taylor’s visit USAF Globemasters begin shuttling US instructors and advisors, and Kennedy authorizes sending SC-47s, B-26s, and T-28 fighter-bomber trainers to Bien Hoa Air Base, just north of Saigon.
1961 – US Special Forces medical specialists are deployed to provide assistance to the Montagnard tribes around Pleiku. Out of this will develop the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), a program of organized paramilitary forces among the ethnic and religious minorities of South Vietnam and the chief work of the US Special Forces during the war.
1961 – The ferry-carrier USS Core arrives in Saigon with the first US helicopter units, 33 Vertol H-21C Shawnees and 400 air and ground crewmen to operate and maintain them. Their assignment will be airlifting South Vietnamese Army troops into combat.
1961 – Operation Farm Gate aircraft are authorized to fly combat missions, provided a Vietnamese crew member is aboard. Because the 1954 Geneva Agreements prohibit the introduction of bombers into Indochina, US B-26 and SC-47 bombers are redesignated, ‘reconnaissance bombers.’
1960 – An estimated 4,500 former South Vietnamese living in the North have infiltrated back to the South during the year. US forces in Vietnam now number 900.
1961 – According to the Military Advisory Assistance Group, US military forces in South Vietnam have reached 3,200. the number of US servicemen in November was 948. Total insurgent forces are estimated at 26,700. Fourteen Americans have been killed or wounded in combat. To Army helicopter units are flying combat missions. ‘Jungle Jim’ air commandos are instructing the South Vietnamese Air Force. US Navy Mine Division 73, a tender and five sweepers, is sailing from Thailand and Seventh Fleet carriers are flying surveillance and reconnaissance missions over Vietnam. Six C-123 aircraft have received ‘diplomatic clearance’ to enter South Vietnam. $65 million in US military equipment and $136 million in economic aid have been delivered to South Vietnam during 1961.