The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 22, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Reappraisal of General O'Daniel's Status with Respect ot Indochina," 5 March 1954, pp. 447-448.


5 March 1954


Subject: Reappraisal of General O'Daniel's Status with Respect to Indochina

1. Subsequent to decisions made at levels above the Department of Defense concerning enlargement of Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Indochina, and appointment of a new chief thereof, information has been received which points to the need for a reappraisal of the matters involved.

2. A recent message from the United States Ambassador to Indochina, states that General Navarre informed the Ambassador that Navarre's "very willing acceptance of General O'Daniel [USA] was predicated on the understanding that the latter's functions were limited to military assistance," that "any good ideas the General or any [U.S.] officers might produce would be put into effect wherever practicable [but that] it should be clearly understood that neither O'Daniel nor MAAG was to have any powers, advisory or otherwise, in the conduct and planning of operations, or in the training of national armies and cadres."

3. Information available to the Joint Chiefs of Staff relative to plans of the United States Government indicates that a very considerable increase in MAAG, Indochina, personnel and in the scope of its training responsibilities is contemplated. Recent messages from the U.S. Ambassador to Indochina and the U.S. Embassy, Paris, make it apparent that General Navarre would be strongly opposed to granting increased training responsibility and authority. From this it appears that the Chief, MAAG, Indochina, will not have authority, primarily the authority of command supervision, to accompany the proposed greatly increased responsibility of the MAAG. Without this capability to exercise command supervision, no training program can be assured of success. In the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this places a completely different complexion on the entire matter of General O'Daniel's appointment as Chief, MAAG, Indochina.

4. Therefore, the Joint Chiefs of Staff feel that it is more essential than ever, in the interests of the United States, that this basic issue of authority commensurate with responsibility be satisfactorily resolved in advance on a governmental level and in a manner acceptable to the United States.

5. Inasmuch as this basic matter requires reconsideration, we believe that the question of the rank proposed for Lieutenant General O'Daniel, USA, as Chief, MAAG, Indochina, should be reconsidered. The Joint Chiefs of Staff hold it to be distinctly detrimental to the prestige of the United States Military Services in general, and to the United States Army in particular to demote a distinguished senior United States Army officer already well and widely known in that region. The repercussions of such action in the Orient are well known.

6. In light of the above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that:

a. The basic issue of increased responsibility of MAAG, Indochina, with respect to training be satisfactorily resolved on a governmental level, and in a manner acceptable to the United States.
b. The despatch of General O'Daniel to Indochina, and his demotion both be held in abeyance until the training issue is satisfactorily settled.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Joint Chiefs of Staff

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