Note: Do not utilize this part of the Advisory Experience module before doing the background reading in Herring and responding to questions in Establishing a Common Background.
Students should also review the document: Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG).
The command structure for the U.S. Advisory Experience in Vietnam moved from one stage to another, increasing in size and responsibilities over time. From its beginning in September 1950, as the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Indochina (MAAG-Indochina), there were three commanders: Francis G. Brink, Thomas J. H. Trapnell, and John W. O'Daniel.
After the period of Advising the French, which ended soon after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, our direct aid of the new Republic of Vietnam (the southern Vietnamese government under President Diem) came under the direction of three commanders in the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Vietnam. They were Samuel T. Williams, Lionel C. McGarr, and Charles J. Timmes. These men served, in succession, from May 1954 to February 1962.
In 1962, the command structure became known as the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The four commanders of MACV are better known than the others because most of them served during the time advisory roles diminished as the U.S., under presidents Johnson and Nixon, moved the U.S. from advising roles to combat roles, almost totally Americanizing the war in Vietnam. MACV existed for the remainder of the American war in Vietnam.
For further reading about MACV's role, its increasing importance and activities, and President Kennedy's oversight during the first U.S. escalation of the war effort, consult George Herring's chapter on the Kennedy administration. Other sources may also be recommended by your instructor in The Vietnam Experience.
Online sources of information, related to Vietnam and the Kennedy presidency, are quite numerous, and students are invited to submit to instructors sites they might find, in addition to the recommended ones. Most of the following sites furnish primary source documents not offered in the core texts for The Vietnam Experience.
National Security Action Memorandum No. 111, November 21, 1961
"Kennedy Had Plan for Early Vietnam Exit," New York Times, December 23, 1997, Tim Weiner
U.S. Policy on Viet-Nam: White House Statement, October 2, 1963
National Security Action Memorandum No. 263, October 11, 1963
National Security Action Memorandum No. 273, November 21, 1963 (Draft)
National Security Action Memorandum No. 273, November 26, 1963