About this recording
Meetings: Tape 109. Meeting on Vietnam, 10 September 1963
Sound recording of a meeting about Vietnam held on September 10, 1963, between President John F. Kennedy; former United States Ambassador to Vietnam Frederick Nolting; Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) General Maxwell D. Taylor; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John McCone; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs W. Averell Harriman; Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric; Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) Edward R. Murrow; Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Roger Hilsman; Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy; National Security Council (NSC) member Michael Forrestal; Specialist on Counterinsurgency for the JCS General Victor Krulak; Executive Secretary of the NSC Bromley Smith; Foreign Service Officer Joseph Mendenhall; Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Roger Hilsman; Military Aide to the President General Chester Clifton; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; USIA Official-Public Affairs Officer at the United States Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam, John Mecklin; Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) David Bell; and Assistant Director for Rural Affairs, Operations Mission in Vietnam Rufus Phillips. This meeting is essentially the platform through which General Krulak and Foreign Service Officer Mendenhall report to President John F. Kennedy on their fact-finding mission to South Vietnam in September 1963. General Krulak and Mendenhall's four-day trip was intended to gain an overview of the military and civilian views of the country. General Krulak’s view, taken from his visits with military leaders, is generally optimistic on the progress of the war. Mendenhall presents the opposite view, one of widespread military and social discontent. After the two men present their views, President Kennedy quips, “You both went to the same country?” In this rather long and involved meeting, they delve into divergent views and possible steps to take. Responding to a question from former Ambassador Frederick Nolting, State Department official Rufus Phillips comments, “This was not a military war, but a political war.” Four segments of the recording totaling 3 minutes and 46 seconds have been removed in accordance with Section 3.4 (b) (1), (3) of Executive Order 13526. This sound recording has been excerpted from Tape 109, which contains additional sound recording(s) preceding this one. See Related Records to access Tape 109 in its entirety.