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President Orders McNamara and Gen. Taylor to South Vietnam

Sept. 21, 1963 - President Kennedy today ordered Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and General Maxwell D. Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to fly to South Vietnam to review the military effort against the Communists. The decision, apparently a sudden one, reflected what some Government sources view as growing concern over whether the political situation in South Vietnam has hindered the war against Communist guerrillas. The two men will leave Monday, and they will be gone about a week. White House sources stressed that this would be a “military mission.” They ruled out any investigation of the political situation in South Vietnam. However, since the political unrest in the country over the religious and political protest by Buddhist leaders is so closely tied to the war effort, observers believe the two will have to look into it. General Paul D. Harkins, U.S. military commander in South Vietnam, has denied reports that the Government was losing ground to Communist guerrillas in the vital Mekong Delta. Another reason for the McNamara-Taylor mission is to advise President Kennedy on the extent of division among American officials in Vietnam and what should be done to end it.

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