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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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IV.B Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Counterinsurgency: The Kennedy Commitments, 1961- 

1963(5 Vols.) 
4. Phased Withdrawal of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, 1962-64 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
y ^ NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


IV. B. ^N 

i ' 


This monograph traces planning for cutting back nmibers of U.S. 
military personnel in Vietnam. 

- SxKrmiary and Analysis 

- Chronology 

- Table of Contents and Outline 

" Footnotes 

, X 0295 

Sec Cef Coat Nr. i-- ---~ ~ 


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1 ' ^- 

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I A formal planning a.nd budgetary process for the phased withdrawal 

of U.S. forces from Vietnam \ras begun amid the euphoria and optimism of 
Jiily 1962, and was ended in the pessimism of March 1964. Initially, the 
specific objectives were: (l) to draw down U.S. military personnel then 
engaged in advisory, training, and support efforts from a FY 6^4 peak of 
12,000 to a FY 68 bottoming out of 1,500 (just HQ, MM.g)j and (2) to re- 
duce MP from a FY 64 peak of $l80 million to a FY 69 base of $40.8 million. 
South Vietnamese forces were to be trained to perform all the functions then 
being carried out by U.S. personnel. What the U.S.G. was actually trying 
to accom.plish during this period can be described in either or both of 
two ways: (l) a real desire and attempt to extricate the U.S. from direct 
military involvement in the war and to "make it a war which the GVN would 
have to learn to win, and (2) straight -for\v^ard contingency planning and 
the use of a political-managerial techniq.ue to slow down pressures for 
greater U.S. inputs, A blend of the wish em.bodied in the first explana- 
tion and the hard-headedness of the second seems plausible. 

Needless to say, the phase-out never csjne to pass. The Diem coup 
with the resulting political instability and deterioration of the military 
situation soon were to lead U.S. decision-makers to set aside thj.s planning 
process. An ostensible cut-back of 1000 men did take place in December 
1963^ "but this was essentially an accounting exercise -- and the U.S. 
force level prior to the reduction had already reached l6,732 in October 
1963. By December 1964, U.S. strength had risen to 23,000 and further 
deployments were on the v/ay. 

What, then, did the whole phased-withdrawal exercise accomplish? 
It may have impeded, demands for more men and money, but this is doubtful. 
If the optimistic reports on the situation in SVN were to be believed, 
and they apparently were, little more would have been requested. It may 
have frightened the GVN, but it did not induce Diem or his successors to 
reform the political apparatus or make RVMF fight harder. It may have 
• contributed, hov^ever, to public charges about the Administration's credi- 
bility and over-optimism about the end of the conflict. Despite the care- 
. fully worded Wiite House announcement of the phase-out policy on October 2, 
1963? tentative Johnson Administration judgments came to be regarded by 
the public as firm predictions. VJhi3.e this announcement made clear that 
t'he U.S. effort would continue "until the insurgency has been suppressed 
or until the national securi.ty forces of the GVN are capable of suppressing 
it," the public tended to focus on the prognosis which followed -- "Secretary 
McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part 
of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of I965 " In 

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August I96U5 Mr. McNamara further explained the policy: "¥e have said -- 
as a matter of fact^ I say today --as our training missions are completed , 

we -will "bring back the training forces." 

Quite apart from what was actually accomplished by the phase-out 
policy and the costs in terms of domestic polii:ical perceptions of Adminis- 
tration statements on Vietnam.^ there are some important lessons to be 
learned from this exercise. "^Jhat was the U.S. rationale behind the policy? 
Was it sounds feasible^ and consistent with statements of national objec- 
tives? By what policy and programmatic means were we trying to bring 
about the desired results? Were these ^ in fact, the most appropriate 
and effective vehicles? How did the intelligence and reporting system 
in Vietnam help or hinder policy formulation? Why was not the Diem coup 
in its darkening aftermath grasped as the opportunity to re-examine policy 
and unambiguously to decide to phase out^ or to do whatever >7as deemed 

The rationale behind the phased withdrawal policy was by and large 
internally consistent and sensible. 

--To put Vietnam in the perspective of other U.S. 
world interests. Vietnam^ at this time, was not 
the focal point of attention in Washington j Berlin 
and Cuba were. Part of this exercise ^^^as to make 
clear that U.S. interests in Europe and in the 
western hemisphere came first. Even in terras of 
Southeast Asia itself , Laos, not Vietnam, was the 
central concern. So, the phase-out policy made 
the kind of sense that goes along with the struc- 
turing of priorities. 

To avoid an open-ended Asian mainland land war. 
Even though violated by U.S. involvement in the 
Korean war, this was a central tenet of U.S. 
national security policy and domestic politics. 
The notion of the bottomless Asian pit, the 
difference in outlook about a human life, were 
well "understood. 

To plan for the contingency that events might force 
withdrawal upon us. Seen in this light, the planning 
process was prudential preparation. 

To treat the insurgency as fundamentally a Vietnamese 
matter, best solved by the Vietnamese them_selves. 
Most U.S. decision-makers had well-developed doubts 
about the efficacy of using "white faced" soldiers 
to fight Asi3.ns, This view was inve.riably coupled 
publicly and privately with statem.ents like this 
one made by Secretary McNamara: "I personally 

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believe that this is a war that the Vietnamese must 
fight.,. I don't believe we can take on that combat task 
for them. I do believe we can carry out training. We . 

can provide advice and logistical assistance." 

-- To increase the pressure on the GVN to make the necessary 
reforms and to make RVMF fight harder by m.aking the 
extent and future of U.S. support a little more tenuous. 
This was explicitly stated in State's instructions to 
Ambassador Lodge on how to handle the White House state- 
ment of October 5 I963: "Actions are designed to indi- 
cate to Diem Government our displeasure at its political 
policies and activities and to create significant uncer- 
tainty in that government and in key Vietnamese groups 
as to future intentions of United States." In other ^ 
words, phased withdrawal was thought of as a bargaining 
counter with the GVN, 

— To put the lid on inevitable bureaucratic and political 
pressures for increased U.S. involvement and inputs into 
1 Vietnam, It was to be expected and anticipated that 

those intimately involved in the Vietnam problem would 
be wanting more U.S. resources to handle that problem. 
Rressures for greater effort, it was reasoned, eventu- 
ally would come into play unless counteracted. What 
Secretary McNamara did vras to force all theater justi- 
fications for force build-ups into tension with long- 
term phase-down plans. On 21 December, 1963^ ^^ ^ ^^^^ 
to the President after the Diem coup, Mr. McNamara urged 
holding the line: "U.S. resources and personnel cannot 
usefully be substantially increased...." 

-- To deal v^ith international and domestic criticism and 
pressures. While Vietnam was not a front burner item, 
there were those who already had begun to question and 
offer non- consensus alternatives. During 19^3 ^ for 
example, both General de Gaulle and Senator Mansfield ■ 
were strongly urging the neutralization of Vietnam. 

It is difficult to sort out the relative importance of these varying 
rationales; all were important. Paramount, perhaps, were the desires to 
limit U.S. involvement, and to put pressure on the GVN for greater efforts. 
And, the rationales were all consistent with one another. But they did not 
appear as being wholly consistent with other statements of our national objeC' 
tives in Southeast Asia. For exejiiple, on July 17, 19^3^ President Kennedy 
■ said: "We are not going to withdraw from /bringing about a stable govern- 
ment there, carrying on a struggle to maintain its national independence/. 
In my opinion, for us to withdraw from that effort would mean a collapse 
not only of South Vietnam, but Southeast Asia." He added: "We can think 
of Vietnam as a piece of strategic real estate. It's on the corner of main- 
(^ land Asia, across the East-West^trade routes, and in a position that would 

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make it an excellent base for further Coirimunist aggression against the 
rest of free Asia." In a September 9, I963 interviev/, the President stated: 
"I believe /^the domino theory^. I think that the struggle is close 
enough. China is so large, looms up high just beyond the frontiers, that 
if South Vietnam vrent, it would not only give them an improved geographic 
position for a guerrilla assault on Malaya, but would also give the im- . 
pression that the wave of the future in Southeast Asia was China and the 
Commimists." One could argue that such an unequivocally strong statement 
of strategic importance would not be consistent with any sort of phase- 
out proposal short of a clear-cut victory over the communists. Despite 
the caveats about it being essentially a South Vietnam.ese struggle, President 
Kennedy* s statements vieve very strong. And, insofar as the U.S. was inter- 
ested in greater leverage on the GVN, these statem_ents tended to reduce 
U.S. bargaining power because of the explicit and vital nature of the 
commitment . 

The rationales behind the phased withdrawal .policy were incorporated 
into a formal programming and planning process that began in Ju3.y 19o2 
and ended on 27 March 196^1. It was at the Honolulu Conference on 23 July 
1962, the same day that the lU-nation neutralization declaration on Laos 
was formally signed, that the .Secretary of Defense on guidance from the 
President put the planning machine in motion. Noting that "tremendous 
progress" had been made in South Vietnam and that it might be difficult 
to retain public support for U.S. operations in Vietnam indefinitely, 
Mr. McNam.ara directed that a comprehensive long range program be developed 
for building up SVN military capability and for phasing-out the U.S. role. 
Pie asked that the planjiers assume that it would require approximately three 
years, that is, the end of 3,965, for the RVME to be trained to the point 
that it could cope with the VC. On 26 July, the JCS formally directed 
CINCPAC to develop a Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) in accor- 
dance with the Secretary's directives. Thus began an intricate, involved 
and sometimes arbitrary bargaining process, involving m.ainly MACV, the 
Joint Staff, and ISA. There were two main pegs that persisted throughout 
this process: MAP planning for the support and build-up of RVMF, and . 
draw-downs on U.S. advisory and training personnel. 

The first COMUSMACV CPSWT was floated on 19 January 1963. It envisioned 
MAP for EY 1963-196'^ at a total of $U05 million. The total for FY 1965- 
1968 was $673 million. The RVMF force level was to peak in FY 6^ at 
I[58,000 men. U.S. personnel in SVN v/ere to drop from a high of 12.2 thou- 
sand in FY 65 to 5.9 thousand in FY 66, bottoming out in FY 68 at 1-5 
thousand (llq MAAG). No sooner was this first CPSVN cranked into the policy 
machinery than it conflicted with sim.ilar OSd/iSA planning. This conflict 
between ISA/oSD guidance and COMUSMACV/joint Staff planning was to be 
continued throughout the life of the CPSVN. 

Secretary McNamara opposed General Harkins version of the plan for 
a variety of reasons: (l) it programmed too many RVNAF than were train- 
able and supportable; (2) it involved weaponry that v/as too sophisticated; 
(3) it did not fully take account of the fact tha.t if the insurgency came 
into control in FY 65 as anticipated, the U.S. MAP investment thereafter 

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^- should be held at no more than $50 million per year; (h) the U,S. phase- 

out was too sloW;, and the RVMF training had to be speeded up. In other 
words 5 Mr. McNamara wanted both a more rapid U,S. withdrawal of personnel, 
and a faster reduction in U.S. military/economic support. 

The Secrete.ry's views prevailed. The embodiment of Mr. McNamara's 
desire to quicken the pace of phase-out planning was embodied first in a 
Model M plan prepared by the JCS and later in what came to be called the 
Accelerated Model Plan of the CPSVN. The Accelerated Plan provided for 
a rapid phase-out of the bulk of U.S. railitary personnel. It also pro- 
vided for building up GVN forces at a faster pace, but at a more reduced 
scale. MAP costs for FY I965-I969 totaled $399-^ million, or nearly $300 
million lov/er than the original projection. 

All of this planning began to take on a kind of absurd quality as 
the situation in Vietnam deteriorated drastically and visibly. Strangely, 
as a resuJ.t of the public White House promise in October and the power of 
the wheels set in motion, the U.S. did effect a 1000 man withdrawal in 
December of I963. All the planning for phase-out, however, was either 
ignored or caught up in the new thinking of January to March 196^- that 
preceded NSAJ4 288. The thrust of this document was that greater U.S. 
support was needed in SVN. Mr. McNamara identified these measures as 
those that "will involve a limited increase in U.S. personnel and in 
direct Defense Department costs." He added: "More significantly they 
involve significant increases in Military Assistance Program costs....," 
plus "additional U.S. economic aid to support the increased GW budget." 
On 27 March 196^, CINCPAC was instructed not to take any further action 
on the Accelerated Plan. Quickly, requests for more U.S. personnel poured 
into Washington. The planning process was over, but not forgotten. 
Secretary McNamara stated in his August I96U testimony on the Tonkin Gulf 
crisis that even today "if our training missions are completed, we will 
bring back the training forces." 

While the phase-out policy was overtaken by the sinking after-effects, 
of the Diem coup, it is important to understand that the vehicles chosen 
to effect that policy -- MAP planning, RVNAF and U.S. force levels -- 
were the right ones. They were programmatic and, therefore, concrete and 
visible. No better way could have been found to convince those in our 
own government and the leaders of the GVN that we were serious about lijnit- 
ing the U.S. commitment and throwing the burden onto the South Vietnamese 
them-selves. The public announcement of the policy, on October 2, 1963^ 
after the McNamara-Taylor trip to Vietnam was also a wise choice. Even 
though this annoimcement may have contributed to the so-called "credibility 
gap," publication was a necessity. Without it, the formal and classified 
planning process would have seemed to be nothing more than a drill. 

While the choice of means vras appropriate for getting a handle on 
the problem, it proceeded from some basic unrealities. First, only the 
most Mica.v7beresque predictions could have led decision-makers in Washing- 
ton to believe that the fight against the guerrillas would have clearly 
turned the corner by FY 65. Other nations' experience in internal war- 
' (\' fare pointed plainly in the other direction. Wi"^^^^- i^o^e propitious 


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circumstances^ e.g. isolation from sanctuaries, the Philippine and Malayan 
insurgencies each took the better part of a dozen years to "bring to an 
end . 

Second;, there was an unrealistic contradiction within the CPSVN it- 
self. As directed by Secretary McNa^mara, U.S. MP was to decrease as 
RWA.F increased. In practical terms , MA.P costs should have been prograxnmed 
to Increase as the South Vietnamese Army increased , and as they themselves 
began to bear most of the burden. The desire to keep MP costs down after 
FY 65 could, at best, be perceived as a budgeting or program g:immick not a 
serious policy. 

Three, the political situation in South Vietnam itself should have 
prompted more realistic contingency plans against failure of the Vietnamese, 
in order to give the U.S. some options other than what appeared as precipi- 
tous withdra.war. The intelligence and reporting systems for Vietnam during 
this period must bear a principal responsibility for the unfounded opti- 
mism of U.S. policy. Except for some very tenuous caveats, the picture 
was repeatedly painted in terms of progress and success. 

In the July I962 Honolulu Conference the tone was set. Secretary 
McNamara asked COMUSMCV how long it would take before the VC could be ex- 
pected to be elminated as a significant force. In reply, COMUSMCV esti- 
mated about one year from the time RVMF and other forces became fully 
operational and began to press the VC in all areas. Mr. McNamara vjas told 
and believed that there had been "tremendous progress" in the past six 
months. This theme v/as re-echoed in April of I963 by COMUSMA.CV and by 
the intelligence community through an ME. All the statistics and evalu- 
ations pointed to GVN improvement. "While noting general progress, the 
ME stated that the situation remains flexible. Even as late as July 
1963 a rosy picture was being painted by DIA and SACSA. The first sug- 
gestion of a contrary evaluation within the bureaucracy came from INR. 
Noting disq.uieting statistical trends since July, an unpopular INR memo 
stated that the "pattern showed steady decline over a period of more than 
three months duration." It was greeted with a storm of disagreement, 
and in the end was disrega^rded. 

The first, more balanced evaluation came with the McNamara-Taylor 
trip report late in September and October, 1963- "While it called the 
political situation "deeply serious," even this report was basically opti- 
mistic about the situation, and saw little danger of the political crisis 
affecting the prosecution of the war. 

Not until after the Diem coup, the assassination of President Kennedy, 
and the December Vietnam trip of Secretary McNamara was the Vietnam situa- 
tion accurately a.ssessed. In Secretary McNamara* s December memo to the 
President, after his trip, he wrote: "The situation is very disturbing. 
Current trends, unless reversed in the next 2-3 months, will lead to a 
neutralization at best and more likely to a comraunist- controlled state." 
One of the most serious deficiencies he found was a "grave reporting v/eak- 
ness on the U.S. side." Mr. McNamara 's judgment, apparently, was not 


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predominant. He noted in the concluding paragraph of his memo that he 
"may be overly pessimistic ^ inasmuch as the ambassador, CO^fJSMA.CV;, and 
General Minh were not discouraged and look forwa.rd to significant improve- 
meiits in January." 

By 6 March 1964 v/hen another major Secrete.ry of Defense Conference . ■ 
convened at CINCPAC Headquarters, the consensus was the the military situa- 
tion was definitely deteriorating. The issue was no longer whether there 
was or was not satisfactory progress^ the q.uestion was how much of a set- 
back had there been and what was needed to make up for it. Mr. McNamara 
observed that attention should now be focused on near term objectives 
of providing for necessary greater U.S. support. It was finally agreed 
that the insurgency could be expected to go beyond 1965- 

The intelligence and reporting problem during this period cannot be 
explained away. In behalf of the evaluators and assessors, it can be 
argued that their reporting up until the Diem coup had some basis in fact. 
The situation may not have been too bad until December 1963- Honest and 
trained men in Vietnam looking at the problems were reporting what they 
believed reality to be. In retrospect, they were not only wrong, but miore 
importantly, they were influential. The Washington decision-makers could 
not help but be guided by these continued reports of progress. 

Phased withdrawal was a good policy that was being reasonably well 
executed. In the way of our Vietnam involvement, it v^as overtaken by 
events. Not borne of deep conviction in the necessity for a U.S. with- 
drawal or in the necessity of forcing the G-VW to truly carry the load, 
it was bound to be subm.erged in the rush of events. A policy more deter- 
mined might have used the pretext and the fact of the Diem coup and its 
aftermath as reason to push for the continuation of withdrawal. Instead, 
the instability and fear of collapse resulting from the Diem coup brought 
the U.S. to a decision for greater commitment. 

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o Event or 

£3 Jul 62 

26 Jul 62 

lU Aug 62 


26 Nov 62 

7 Dec 62 
19 Jan 63 

22 Jan 63 
25 Jan 63 
7' Mar 63 

20 Mar 63 


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23 Jul 62 Geneva Accords on Laos ll^-Natlon declaration on the neutrality of Laos. 

17 Apr 63 
6 Kay 63 

Sixth Secretary of 
Defense Conference, 


JCS Message to CIKCPAC, 
2623 13Z 

CINCPAC Message to KACV - 

GVK National Campaign 
Plan developed 

Military Reorganization 

First Draft of CP-JTC 

MACV Letter to CINCPAC, 
3010 Scr 0021 

OSD(ISA) Message to 
CII'iCPAC, 2222li3Z 

CIKCPAC Letter to JCS, 
3010, Ser 0079 

JCSM 190-63 

USMACV "SuiOLGrj' of 
Highlighti;, ^ Feb 62- 
7 Feb 63" 

ME 53-63 

Seventh SecDef Honolulu 

3 Kay 63 Buddhist Crisis Begins 

8 Kay 63 IV0 SecDef Meir-orejida 

for ASD/iSA 

Called to exairii:.e present and future developraer.ts in L'outh 
Vietnam - which looked good, Mr. MctNamara initiated iimedi- 
ate planning for the phase-out of U.S. Dillitary involvemen*. 
by 1965 and developrcent of a progrer. to build a GVN military 
capability strong enough to take over full defense responsi- 
bilities by 1965. 

CINCPAC was formally instructed to develop :i "Comprehensive 
Plan for South Vietnam" (CPSVN) in line with instructions 
given at Honolulu. 

M/iCV was directed to draw up a C?^-TA deEigr.ed to ensure G'v'N 
militm-y and para-mllitary strength commensurate with its 
sovereign reEpo.*:slbilitles. The CPSVN was to assume the 
insurgency would be ur.der control in three years » that ex- 
tensive US support would be available during the three-year 
period; that those items essential to ievelopment of full 
RVIUF cr.pability would be (largely) available ttj-ough tiic 
military' asslsta;;ce program (MAP). 

In addition to the CPSVN, MJVC/ prepared an outline for an inte- 
grated, nationwide offensive military campaign to destroy the 
insurgency ajid restore GVT. control In South Vietnfjn. The con- 
cept was adopted by the GW in November. 

Diem ordered realignment of military chain of conanand, reorgar.i- 
zation of RV:»AF, establishment of four CTZ's and a Joint 
Operations Center to centralize control over current military 
operations. (JOC becBme operational on 20 Deceiaber I962.) 

CINCPAC disapproved first draft bccaur.c of higli costs and 
Inadequate training provisions. 

MACV submitted a revised CPSVN. Extended through FY 1963 and 
concurred in by the Ambassador, It called Vor GT.i military 
forces to peak at 145^,000 in FY I96I1 (RVNAF strength woulJ be 
230,900 in Fi" 19C,h); cost projected over six years would total 
$973 million. 

MAF-Vietnam dollar guidelines Issued. Ceilings considerably 
different from end lower tha:. those In CPSV:-.. 

Approved the CPS\':;, supported and justified the higher MAP 
costs projected by It. 

JCS recoHLmended SecDef approve the CPSVN; supporting the higher 
MAP costs, JCS proposed CPS\'". be the basis for revision of 
FY 196Jt MAP and development of FY 19C^-69 programs. 

Reported continuing, growing RV:iAF effectiveness, increased 
GVN strength ecoiiomically and politically. The strategic 
hamlet program looked especially good. MACV forecast winning 
the military phase in I963 -- barring "grca^ly increased" VC 
reinforcem.ent ar:d resupply. 

Although "fragile," the situation in SV:^ did not appear serious; 
genera] progress was reported in most areas. 

Called to review t!ie CPS^/:. . Largely because of prevailing 
optimism over Vietnain, Mr, McNamara found the CPSV:-. assistance 
too costly, the planned withdrawal of I'S forces too slow and 
RVNAF developm.ant misdirected. 

GVN forcec fired on worshipers celebrating Buddha's birthday 
(several killed, more wounded) for no good cause. Long stand- 
ing antipathy toward CTA quickly turned into active opposition. 

Second: Requested the Office, 

i: { !-ecloT' of 

s: t i i tary 


First : Directed Joint ISA/JCS 
developcment of plans to re- 
place US forces with GVi; troops Assistance, ISA, "ccm.pletely 
as soon as possible ar.d to plan rework" the MAP pro gram 
the withdrawal of 1,000 US recCEr.m.enied in the CPSVN and 



the end of \S^3- 

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submit new guidelines by 
1 Septwnhfr. The Secretary 
felt CPSV:^ totals were too' 
high (e.g., expcndlLurcs pro- 
posed for r-:s 19C'5-6S could be 
cut bv J.270 Million In his view.' 


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9 May 63 

JCS Message ?320 to 

11 Kay c3 

Cr.'CPAC Letter to JCS, 
3010 Ser OOi.l47-t;3 

17 May 63 

29 May 63 

16 Jun 63 

ASD/ISA Mer-oranduit for 
the Secretary' 

OSD-'TSA Message to 
CII.CFAC, 2917^2:: 

GV:;-Budlhist Truce 
(State Airgran A-TSI 
to Embassy Saigon, 
W June) 

Directed CK.'CPAC to revise the 
CPSV:; and prograai the with- 
drawal of 1,000 men by the end • 
of 1963- Force reduction vas 
to be by US units (not indi- 
viduals) ; units were to be 
replaced by Epaclally trained 
EV..AF units. Withdrawal plans 
were to be contingent upon 
continued progress in the 
counterinsurgency campaign. 

Ci:;CPAC recoiTonended some changes, 

then approved MACV'b revision of 

the CPSVN and the MACV plan for 

withdrawal of 1,000 men. As 

Instructed, those 1,000 men were 

drawn irom logistic and service 

support slots; actual operations 

would be unaffected by their ab- 
ISA's proposed MAP-Vletnam 
program based on the Secre- 
tary' ' s instructions was 
rejected as still too high. 

CrrXPAC was directed to 
develop three alternative 
MAP plans for FYs I965-69 
based on these levels: 

$535 M (CPGVN recommendation) 
$^450 M (Compromise) 
$365 M (SecDef goal) 

MAP for FY I96U had been set 
at $130 M. 

Reflected temporary and tenuous abatement of GVW-Euddhict hostili- 
ties which flared up in May. The truce was repudiated almost 
immediately by both sides. Buddhist alienation from the GVN 
polarized; hostilities spread. 


17 Jul 63 

I3 Jul 63 

k Aug 63 

lU Aug 63 

20 Aug f 3 

DIA Intelligence 

Ci:;CPAC-proposed MAP 

progrEm submitted to 

DIA Intelligence 

SACSA Memorand-^ 
for the Secretary 

Diem declared martial 
law; ordered attacks 
on Iiuddhist pagodas 

Reported the military situation was unaffected by the political 
crisis; GV:. prospects for continued counterinsurgency progress 
were "certalnli' better" thsji in 19^2; VC activity was reduced 
but VC capability essentially unimpaired. 

CEvCPAC suggested military 
asBlstance programs at the 
three levels set by the JCS 
but recoumiended adoption of 
a foui-th Plan developed by 
CINCPAC. "Plan j" totalled 
$J<50.9 M over the five-year 

Rather suddenly, Viet Cong offensive actions verc reported high 
for the third consecutive veek; the implication was that the VC 
were capitalizing on the political crisis and might step up the 


Discounted the Importance of Increased VC activity; the compara- 
tive magnitude of attacks was low; developments did not yet seem 
salient or lasting. 

This decree plus repressive measures against the Buddhists 
shattered hopes of reconciliation, and Irrevocably Isolated 

the Diem government. 

TOP SECRF.T - Sensitlv; 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


20 Aug 63 JCSM 629-63 

21 Aug 63 

Director, DIA Memo- 
randxmi for SecDef 

27 Aug 63 JCSM 6I4O-63 

30 Aug 63 

OSD/isA Memorandum 
for the Secretary 

3 Sep 63 

SecDef Memorandum to 

5 Sep 63 

ASD/iSA MemoraJidum to 
the Secretary 

6 Sep 63 SecDef MeEwrandum 

for CJCS • 

11 Sep 63 CJCS McKOranduir, for 


21 Sep 63 

27 Sep 63 

Presidential Memoran- 
dum for the SecDef 

asd/isX (qdma) "map 

Vietn ^jh: Manpower and 
Financial Sunimary" 

TOP SECBFT - Sensitive 

Recoinii'.end SecDef approve the 
C1:;CPAC/MJ^CV proposed plar. for 
1,000-man vithdrawal in three 
to four Increments for planning 
purposes only; reconnner.ded 
final decision on vithdrawal 
be delayed until October. 

Efitimated that Dien's acts vill have "serious repercussions" 
throughout SVT, : foresaw more coup and counter-coup activity. 
But reported military operations were so far unaffected by 
these events. 

JCS added yet a fifth 
"Model M" Plan to CINCPAC's 
four alternative Mj^.P levels, 
Providing for higher force 
levels termed r.ececfiary by 
the JCS, the Model M total 
was close to $U00 M. JCS 
recommended the Model M 
Plan bo approved. 

Reconanended approval of JCSM 
629-63. But noted many "units" 
to be withdraw:; were ad hoc 
creations of expendable support 
personnel, cautioned that public 
reaction to "phony" withdrawal 
would be dar.aglng: suggested 
actual strength and authorized 
ceiling levels be publicized 
and monitored. 

Approved JCS?-<-6^9-63. Advised 
JCS against creating special 
units as a mearis to cut back 
unnecessary* personnel; re- 
quested the projected '^'S 
strength fi(^res through 1^3- 

Coricurred in JCS reccnrmen- 
datlon with minor reserva- 
tions that the Model M 
Plan for military assis- 
taiice to SV.\ be approved. 

Approved Model M Plar. as 
the basis for H' 65-69 
MAP planning; advised that 
US materiel turned over to 
RVI^/^-? must be charged to 
and absorbed by the author- 
ized Model M Plan ceilings. 

Forwarded the military' 
strengtli flfpares (August 
thru December) to SecDef; 
ad-zised that the 1,000- 
man withdrawal would be 
counted against the peak 
October strength (l6,732). 
First increment was sched- 
uled for withdrawal In 
November, the rest in 

Directed Mcr.amara and Taylor (CJCS) to personally assess the 
critical eituation. in SV:; — both political and military; to 
determine what GVN action was required for change and what the 
US should do to produce such action. 

Approved VJ^ totals re- 
flected the Model M Plan: 

ii3o.6 M 

_|?U.t M 

2 M 


Ti 19^Jt 
FY 196^^-69 
The GVN force levels pro- 
posed were substantially 
below those of the Januar>- 
CPS^":' (from a peak strength 
In FY I96.J4 of i^Ji2,500, 
levels were to fall to 
120,200 in FY 196g) - 

T0> SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



2(: Sep - 
2 Oct 63 

2 Oct 63 

5 Oct 63 

SecDef 'CTCS Mission 
to South Vietnam 

Mc:.a.T.ara-Taylor Brlef- 
ing for the President, 
and later, the :;SC 

McL-'aaara-Taylor met 
vlth President and 


11 Oct 63 :iSAM 2C3, 

TOP SKCRET - Sensitive 

Positive detailed evidence presented in numerous briefings indi- 
cated conditions vere good and vould improve. Hence, the Secre- 
tary ordered acceleration of the planned V.S. force phase-out.. 

Concluded the military canpaign has made great progress ajid con- 
tinues to progress, but varned that further Diem-Nhu repression 
could change the "present favorable military trends." 

The President approved the military reconrnendations made by the 
Secretary and Chairman: 

— that yj\.CV and Diem review changes necessary to canplete 
the military ca.T.paign in I, IT, and III Corps by the end 
of 196J|, in IV Corps by I965: 

— that a training program be established to enable RVTiAF 
to take ov^r military functions from the US by the end 
of 1965 vhen the bulk of US personnel could be vith- 
drawn : 

— that DOB informally announce plans to withdraw 1,000 
men by the end of I963. 

Tio further reductions in US strength vould be made until re- 
quirements of the 196Jt campaign vere clear. 

Approved the mlltary recommendations contained in the McNamara- 
T ay lor Report; directed no announcement be of 
implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 men by the end of 


22 Oct 63 

1 :.ov 63 

22 i\ov 63 

23 :iov 63 


state Department 

Diem Government 

20 :."ov 63 All -agency Conference 
on Vietnam., Honolulu 

President Kennedy 

SecDef Kemorandmn 
for the President 

26 :.ov 63 r^SAM 273 

Assessed trends since 'uly I963 as evidence of an unfavorable 
shift in military balance. (This was one of the first indica- 
tions that all was not as rosy as MACV _et bJl had led McNomara 
end Taylor to believe.) 

The feared political chaos, civil war and collapse of the var 
did not materialise Imiriediately; US Covernment was uncertain 
as to what the new circumstances meant. General Minh headed 
the Junta responsible for the coup. 

Ambassador Lodge assessed prospects as hopeful; recoinnended 
US continue the policy of eventual military withdrawal from 
SV7* ■ said announced 1,000-man withdrawal was having salutory 
effects. MACV agreed. In this light, officials agreed that 
the Accelerated Plan {speed-up of force withdrav^aL by six 
months directed by Mci.'araara in October) should be maintained. 
Mc:;arriara wanted HAP spending held close to OSD's $175-5 million 
ceiling (because of acceleration, a FY 6U KAP of $lS7.7 million 
looked jMDSsible). 

One result; US Government policies in general vere maintained 
for the sake of continuity, to allow the new administration 
time to settle and adjust. This tendency to reinforce exist- 
ing policies arbitrarily, Just to keep them going, extended 
the phase-out, withdrawal and MAP concepts — probably for too 

Calling GV:; political stability vital to the war and calling 
attention to G\r; financial straits, the Secretary caid the 
US must be prepared to increase aid to Saigon. Funding well 
above current yjj* plans was envisaged. 

President Johnson approved rccomir.endations to continue current 
policy toward Vietnam put forward at the 20 November Honolulu 
meeting: reaffirmed US objectives on withdrawal. 

TOP SECRKT - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 



3 Dec 63 

5 Dec 63 

Director, Far East 

Region/lSA Memoran- 
dum for the ASD/ISA 

CI.NCPAC Kessaee to JCS 

11 Dec 63 CM 1079-63 for SecD-^ 

13 Dec 63 Director, DIA Memorandim 
for the Secretary 

30 Jan 6U Second Coup In Saigon 

10, 11, I'l, Deputy Director, CIA 
1*^ Feb 6k MeEoranda for SecDef, 
SecState, et al 


6 Mar 61) Eighth SecDef Conference 

on Vietnajp, iionolulu 

3-l6 McNaraBO-a/Taylor Trip 

Mar Oi to Vietnam 

16 Mai- Oi SecDef Meinorandum for 

the pyesident: "Report 
on Trip to Vietnam" 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

In response to the President's wish for a reappraisal of Viet- 
nam developments, for a "fresh new look" at the proMem, 
eecond-echelon leaders outlined a broad Interdepartr.ental 
"Review of the South Vietnam iUtuation." This 
effort did not culminate In high level national reassessment or 
specific policy re-orientation. 

Submitted the Accelerated Model Pla/i version of CPSV;.. From 
a total of 15,200 In FY 196'*, US military strenj^th in Vietnam 
vould drop to U,5>00 in FY 19^5 ( vice 13,100 recommended by 
the Model K Plan), to about 3,?00 in F/ 19^6 and 2,600 in 
FY 1967. GV:; force levels were a bit lower but GV:i force 
build-up a bit faster than recoirar,cnded by the Model M Pla:i. 
WAI' costs for Fis 19^'.5-1969 totalled $399.'' million ( vice 
$392.2 million under Model M plan). 

The adjusted year-end strenf:th figure vas l^.lgli. Although 
1,000 men were teclinlcally withdrawn, no actual reduction of 
US strength vas achieved. The December figxire was not 1,000 
less than the peak October level. 

Reported the VC had improved combat effectiveness and force 
posture during 19t'i3i that VC capability was unimpaired. 
(Quite a different picture had been painted by S.ACSA in late 
October: "An Overview of the Vietnam Var, 1900-19^*3," per- 
sonally directed to the Secretary, was a glowir.j.; account of 
steady m.illtary progress.) 

General Minh's military regime vas replaced by a Junta headed 
by General Khanh. 

Suspicious of progress reports, CIA sent a special group to 
"look at" South Vietnem. Its independent evaluation revealed 
a serious and steadily deteriorating GV:; situation. Vietcor.g 
gains aj:d, significantly, the quality and quantity of VC arms 
had increased. The Strategic Hamlet Program was "at virtual 
standstill," The insurgency tide seemed to be "going against 
GVI>i" in all four Corps. 

Participants agreed that the militari' situation was definitely 
deteriorating, that insurgency would probably continue beyond 
1965, that the ';s must immediately detennlne what had to be 
done to ma>;e up for the setback(s). 

Personally confirmed the gravity of the Vietnam situation. 

Mr. Mc?iK7]ara reported the situation was "unquestionably" worse 
than in September. (RVNAF desertion rates were up; GV:* mili- 
tary position vas weak and the Vietcong, vith increased '.^V:, 
support, was strong.) Concluding that more I'S support vas 
necessary, the Secretary made twelve recorrmendations. These 

— More economic assistance, military training, equipment 
aind advisory assistejice, as needed. 

— Continued high-level "S overflights of G'A borders; 
authorlration for "hot pursuit" and ground operations 
in Laos. 

17 Mar (It r.SAM 2^S 


— Prepare to initiate - on 72 hours' notice - Laos and 

Cambodia border control operations a-.d retali8lor>' actions 
against .'rorth Vletnarri. 

-- Make plans to Initiate - on 30 days' notice - a "program 
of Graduated Overt Military Pressures" against North 

Mr. Mc:;ar.ara called the policy of reducing existing ';s personnel 
where South Vietnamese could assume their functions "still sound" 
but said no major reductions could be expected in the near future. 
He felt uS training personnel could be substantially reduced 
before the end of I965. 

The President appi-oved the twelve recommendations presented by 
Mr. Mc:,Bmara and directed all agencies concerned to carry then: 
out promptly. 

TOP ScCK^ - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 

NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET-Sensitive 

27 Mar 6U OSD Message 96302S 
to Cir.CPAC 

6 Kay 61* 

1-2 Jun 6J* 

14 Jul 6I4 

15 Jul 6J4 

Ci:;CPAC Message to 
MACV (062lti5Z) 

Special Mt-etir.g on 
Southeast Asia, 


25 Jun 6^4 MACV Message 3253lO 
to JCS 

Cir.CPAC Message to 
JCS (Ol423?OZ) 

Saigon EMBTEL lOS 

16 Jul 6U MACV Message 6l=i0 to 

CINCPAC (i6ioJi5:0 

17 Jul 6U EMBTEL 


21 Jul 614 State 205 to Salf^on 

/ 1 

Dec 6I4 

Further increases 

Formally suspended five-year MAP program planning until further 
notice: said the previous plans for phasing dovn US and GVN 
forces was superseded by the policy of providing South Vietnam 
assistance and support as long as required to bring aggression 
ai;d terrorisni under control (as per N'SAM 233). 

Indicated growing US military coranitment: this 1500-man aug- 
mentation raised the total authorized level to 17,000. 

Called In part to exeirane the GV?; National Campaign Plan -- vhich vas 
failing. The conferees agreed to increase RTOAF effectiveness by 
extending and intensifying the US advisory effort as MACV 

Formal W'.Z\ request for 9OO additional advisory personnel. His 
.Justification for advisors at the battalion level and for more 
advisors at district and sector levels was Included. Also, 30 
USN advisors were requested to establish a Junk Force and other 
irarltiir,e counterinsurgency measures. 

CINCPAC recoirmended approval of the MACV proposal for intensi- 
fication of US advisory efforts. 

Ambassador Taylor reported that revised VC strength estimates 
now put the enemy force between 23,000 and 3U,000. ;No cause 
for alarm, he said the new estimate did demonstrate the magni- 
tude of the problem and the need to raise the level of US/CVN 
efforts. Taylor thoughta US strength increase to 21,000 by 
t}ie end of the year would be sufficient. 

MACV requested 3,200 personnel to support the expansion (by 9OO) 
of US advisory efforts -- or ^,200 more men over the next nine 

Ambassador Taylor concurred in MACV's proposed increase, recom- 
mended prompt approval and action. 

Reported Presidential approval (at the 21 July NSC meeting) of 
the MACV deployment package. 

Total US strength was 23,000: further deploj-ments vere on the 


TOP St:cfe - Sensltl 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 








Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


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P age 

Introduction ' 1 

The Secretary of Defense tlonolulu Decisions of July I962 3 

National Camijaign Plan 5 

Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam 6 

Secretary of Defense Honolulu Decisions of May 19^3 ^^ 

MAP Planning ' ^3 

1000"Man Withdrawal 15 

The Buddhist Crisis ' I6 

McWama re "Taylor Mission to South Vietnam^ October I963 1<^ 

The rioveniber Coup and Overthrow of Diem 24 

Assassination of President Kennedy ^5 

Accelerated Model Plan of the CPSVN ' • • ^^ 

The 1000-Man VJithdrawal of December I963 30 

The Vietnam Situation Worsens 30 

Demise of the CPSVN 37 

Build-Up of the U.S. Force Commitment 37 

Postscript to Withdrawal Planning • « • 39 


1. CPSVK " Total U.S. Supported Forces . 8 

2. CPS\n\- " Forecast of Phase-Out of U.S. Forces 10 

3. CPSVN - Phase Dovm of U.S. Forces 27 

l\. CPSVN " Phase Down of GVH Forces 28 

5. CPSVK - MAP Cost 29 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 




From mid-1962 to early 196^! the U.S. government went through a formal 
planning process^ ostensibly designed to disengage the U.S. from direct and 
large-scale military involvement in Vietnam. In retrospect 5 this experi- 
ence falls into place as a more or less isolated episode of secondary im- 
portance; eventually abortive, it had little impact on the evolution of the 
Vietnam war. It does^ however, serve as a vehicle for understanding one 
long phase of the war and the U.S. role in it. 

The genesis lay in a conjuncture of circumstances during the first 
half of 1962 that prompted the U.S. to shift its Vietnam perspective 
from the hitherto restricted one of largely tactical responses to cuj-rent, 
localized, and situational requirements, to fitting these to more strate- 
gic and purposeful long-range courses of action. The expanded perspective 
was programmatic in outlook, and oriented toward specific goals -- end 
the insu-Tgency and withdraw militarily from Vietnam. 

. At the outset, the motivation for the idea of phased withdrawal of 
U.S. forces was threefold: in part, the belief that developments in Viet- 
nam itself were going well; in part, doubt over the efficacy of using U.S. . 
forces in an internal war; and in part, the demands of other crises in the . 
world that were more important to Washington than Vietnam. In the course 
of materializing into policy and assujning form as plans, these premises were 
transformed into conclusions, desiderata institutionalized as objectives, 
and v/ish took on the character and force of jinperative. 

For example, in March I962, Secretary McNamara testified before Con- 
gress that he was "optimistic" over prospects for U.S. success in aiding 
Vietnam, and "encouraged at the progress the South Vietnamese are making." 
He expressed conviction that the U.S. would attain its objectives there. 
But he emphasized that the U.S. strategy v/as to avoid participating directly 
in the war while seeking an early military conclusion: 1/ 

"l would say definitely we are approaching it from the 
point of view of trying to clean it up, and terminating sub- 
version, covert aggression, and combat operations.... 

"...We are wise to carry on the operations against the 
Communists in that area by assisting native forces rather than 
by using U.S. forces for combat. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


/ > 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

"Not only does that release U.S. forces for use elsewhere 
in the world or for stationing in the United States ^ but also 
it is probably the most effective way to combat the Communist 
subversion and covert aggression. To introduce white forces -- 
U.S. forces -- in large numbers there today, while it might 
have an initial favorable military impact would almost certainly 
lead to adverse political and in the long run adverse military 
operations. And therefore, we think the prograjn we are carrying 
out is the most effective one and certainly it is directed toward 
termination of operations as rapidly as possible." 

In late spring of I962, the military situation in South Vietnam showed 
hopeful signs of at last having turned a corner. The various programs 
under way, initiated the previous fall as a result of decisions in NSAM 
lo. Ill5appeared to be bearing out the basic soundness of the ne\j approach. 
Assessments and evaluations being reported from the field indicated a 
pattern of progress on a broad front, and their consistency through time 
reinforced the impression. By mid-year the prospects looked bright. 
Continuing favorable developments now held forth the promise of eventual 
success, and to many the end of the insurgency seemed in sight. This 
optimism was not without the recognition that there were unsolved politi- 
cal problems and serious soft spots in certain areas of the military 
effort. But U.S. leadership, both on the scene in Vietnam as well as in 
Washington, was confident and cautiously optimistic. In some quarters, 
even a measure of euphoria obtained. 

At the same time, events outside Vietnam, some of them ostensibly 
unrelated, were asserting a direct and immediate relevance for U.S. policy 
and strategy in Vietnam. As competing priorities, they far overshadov/ed 
Vietnam. In the larger scheme of things, an indefinite military commit- 
ment in Southeast Asia was being relegated perforce to a parenthetical 
diversion the nation could then ill afford. More central issues in Berlin, 
Cuba, and in Laos were at stake, perhaps even to the extent of survival. 

Looming foremost was the Berlin problem. Fraught with grave over- 
tones of potential nuclear confrontation vrlth the USSR, it reached crisis 
proportions in the spring of I962 over the air corridor issue, and after 
a temporary lull, flared anew in early summer. By the first of July it 
was again as tense as ever. U.S. reserves ha.d been recalled to active 
duty, additional forces were deployed to Europe, and domestic Civil Defense 
activities, including shelter construction programs, were accelerated. 

The burgeoning Cuba problem too was taking on a pressing urgency by 
virtue of both its proximity and grovzing magnitude. The Castro aspects 
alone were becoming more than a vexing localized embarrassment. Given 
the volatile Caribbean political climate, Cuba^n inspired mischief could 
raise tensions to the flash point momentarily. Moreover, by early si^mmer 
of 1962 increasing evidence of Soviet machinations to exploit Cuba mili- 
tarily was rapidly adding an alarming strategic dimension. Though the 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 






TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

nature and full significance of these latter developments would not be 
revealed until the climactic Cuban Missile Crisis a few months later, the 
U.S. was already apprehensive of serious danger on its very doorstep. 
Official interpretive evaluations at the time saw an intimate causal nexus 
between Berlin and Cuba. 

Finally, another set of factors altering the strategic configuration 
in Southeast Asia and affecting the U.S. position there also came to a 
head in mid-summer of I962. These were developments regarding Laos, which 
impinged upon and helped reshape the U.S. relationship toward ^ Vietnam. 
In the fall of 196I and throu^gh the spring of I962 the U.S., its ^objec- 
tives frustrated in laos, had decided to salvage as much as possible by 
settling for neutralization. After lengthy and complex diplomatic maneuver- 
ing, this was essentially achieved by early summer. On 23 July 1962 the 
ill- nation declaration and protocol on the neutrality of Laos was signed 
formally, ending the 15-month Geneva Conference on Laos. The outcome 
had at once the effect of extricating the U.S. from one insoluble dilemma 
and serving as a stark object lesson for another. The Laos settlement 
now both allowed the U.S. a free hand to concentrate on Vietnam^and pro- 
vided the incentive and determination to bring to a close its military 
commitment there as well -- but this time successfi^ly. 

It was in this spirit and context that the U.S. decided to pursue 
actively the policy objective of divesting itself of direct military involve- 
ment of U.S. personnel in the Vietnam insurgency. The aim was to create 
militarily favorable conditions so that further U.S. military involvem-ent 
would no longer be needed. To this end, two prerequisites had to be satis- 
fied: bringing the insurgency effectively under control; and ^simultaneously, 
developing a militarily viable South Vietnam capable of carrying its own 
defense burden without U.S. military help. In phase with the progress^ 
toward both these goals, there then could be proportionate reductions m 
U.S. forces. 


In July 1962, as the prospect of the neutralization of Laos by the 
Geneva Conference became imininent, policy attention deliberately^ turned 
toward the remaining Vietnam problem. At the behest of the President, 
the Secretary of Defense undertook to reexamine the situation there and 
address himself to its future -- with a view to assuring that it be brought 
to a successful conclusion within a reasonable time. Accordingly, he 
called a fall-dress conference on Vietnam at CINCPAC Headciuarters in Hawaii. 
On 23 July, the same day that the l^l-nation neutralization declaration 
on Laos was formally signed in Geneva, the Sixth Secretary of Defense ^ 
Conference convened in Honolulu. 

The series of briefings . and progress reports presented at the con- 
ference depicted a generally favorable situation. Things were steadily 

3 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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improving and promised to continue. Most programs underway were moving 
forward 5 as the statistical indicators clearly demonstrated. Those 
directly related to prosecution of the counterinsLirgency effort showed 
measurable advances being made toward winning the war. Programs for ex- 
panding and improving RVMF capability were likewise coming along well^ 
and in most cases ;, were ahead of schediile. Confidence and optimism pre- 
vailed. - 


Impressed^ Mr. McNamara acknowledged that the "trem_endous progress" 
in the past six months was gratifying. He noted, however, that these 
achievements had been the result of short-term ad hoc actions on a crash 
basis. What was needed now was to conceive a long-range concerted pro- 
gram of systematic measures for training and equipping the RVM.F and for 
phasing out major U.S. advisory and logistic support activities. The 
Secretary then asked how long a period it would take before the VC could 
be expected to be eliminated as a significant force. COMUSMACV, in reply 
to the direct question, estimated about one year from the time the RVIMAF, 
the Civil Guard, and the Self -Defense Corps became fully operational and 
began to press the VC in all areas. 

The Secretary said that a conservative view had to be taken and to 
assume it would take three years instead of one, that is, by the latter 
part of 1965. He observed that it might be difficult to retain public 
support for U.S. operations in Vietnam indefinitely. Political pressures 
would build up as losses continued. Therefore, he concluded, planning 
must be undertaken now and a program devised to phase out U.S. military 
involvement. He, therefore, directed that a comprehensive long-range 
program be developed for buj.ldlng up South Vietnamese military capability 
for takin_g over defense responsibilities and phasing out the U.S. role, 
assuming that it would require approximately three years (end I965) for 
the RVM.F to be trained to the point that they could cope with the VC. 
The program v/as to include training requirements, equipment requirements, 
U.S. advisory requirements, and U.S. units. 

For the record, the formulation of the decisions made and the direc- 
tives for action to be taken resulting from the Conference was as follows: 

a. Prepare plans for the gradual scaling down of USMA.CV 
during the next S-year period, elminating U.S. units 
and detachments as Vietnamese were trained to perform 
their functions. 

b. Prepare programs with the objective of giving South 
Vietnam an adequate military capability without the 
need for special U.S. military assistance, to Include 
(1) a long-range training program to establish an 

^ officer corps able to man§,ge GVN military operations, 
and (2) a. long-range program and requirements to provide 
the necessary materiel to make possible a turnover to 
RVmF three years from July I962, 

^ " ■ TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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TOP SECRE^T - Sensitive 

The U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group^ Vietnam^ had been - 
augmented in I96I by aviation^ coiTnnunicatibns^ and intelligence vmits^ 
as well as by Special Forces and other advisers. The Secretary of 
Defense plainly intended that plans be devised for tenuinating the 
mission of the augraenting units. 

Three days later on 26 July^ the JCS formally directed CINCPAC 
to develop, a Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) in accordance 
vith the Secretary's decisions of 23 July. 3/ CINCPAC; in turn, so 
instructed COI^SMACV on ik Aug-ust, at the same time furnishing addi- 
tional guidance and terms of reference elaborating on the original SecDef 
decisions at Honolulu and the JCS directive. The stated objective of the 
CPSVN was given as: 

Develop a capability within military and para -military 
forces of the GVN by the end of CY 65 that will help the GVN 
to achieve the strength necessary to exercise permanent and 
continued sovereignty over that part of Vietnam which lies 
below the demarcation line v^ithout the need for continued U.S. 
special military assistance. 

" Development of the plan was to be based on the following assump- 

a. The insurgency will be under control at the end of three 
years (end of CY 65). 

b. Extensive U.S. support v/ill continue to be required during 
the tliree year period, both to bring the insurgency under 
control and to prepare GVN forces for early take-over of 
U.S. activities. 

c. Previous lAP^ funding ceilings for SVN are not applicable. 
Program those items essential to do this Job. hj 


Planning, in two complementary modes, got underway Immediately. 
Concurrently with development of the unilateral U.S. CPSVN, USMCV 
planners prepared a concept and proposed outline of a GVN National Cam- 
paign Plan (NCP) for launching an integrated nation-wide campaign of 
offensive military operations to eliminate the insurgency and restore 
the country to (I'^l^ control. A central purpose was to reorganize and 
redispose the VNAP and streamline the chain of command, in order to 
improve responsiveness, coordination, and general effectiveness of the 
military effort against the VC. Greater authority would be centralized 
in the Vietnamese Joint General Staff (JGS); Corps Tactical Zones (CTZs) 
would be increased from three to four; and each CTZ would have its own 
direct air and naval support. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

'^ TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Over and above organizational considerations^ the ll^Y provided for 
systematic intensification of aggressive operations in all CTZs to keep 
the VC off balance^ while simultaneously conducting clear and hold opera- 
tions in support of the expanding Strategic Hamlet Program. Priority 
of military tasks was first to concentrate on areas north of Saigon^ 
then gradually shift toward the south to Saigon and the Delta. ^Z 

The proposed KCP vras submitted to the CTN in October and a month 
later was adopted in concept and outline. On 26 November^ President Diem 
promulgated the necessary jjnplementing decrees and directives to effect 
the reorganization of the SVN armed forces and realign the chain of com- 
mand. An integrated Joint Operations Center (JOC) was also established and 
became operational on 20 December_j vrith representation from JGS and its 
counterpart in USMCV to centralize control over current operations. The 
following January the draft of a detailed implementing plan for the NCP 
itself was completed and subsequently approved. 6/ 


Meanwhile, the first cut at the CPSVN was also completed by the MACV 
planners. It was forwarded to CINCPAC on 7 December, but CINCPAC, upon 
reviewing the proposed plan, considered it infeasible because of the high 
costs involved and the marginal capacity of the RVNAF to train the neces- 
sary personnel in the required skills within the time frame specified. As 
a result of COTCPAC^s reaction to the initial version, the CPSVN was revised 
and resubmitted by COMUSIvIACV on 19 January I963. 7/ The new CPSVN covered 
the period FY 1963-19®- In transmitting it, COMUSIMCV reconijnended that 
future Military Assistance Programs (MAPs) be keyed therefore to the CPSVN. 
He also indicated that the CPSVN had been coordinated with the Ambassador, 
who concurred in it. 8/ 

Force levels laid out in the CPSVN provided for total personnel 
increases reaching a peak of i]- 58, 000 (regular and para-military) in FY 6^1-, 
with RVNAF manning strengt-h raised from 215,000 to a peak of 230,000 in 
the same FY period and remaining on that plateau thereafter. Order of 
magnitude costs (in $ millions) of the CPSVN would come to: 

FY 63 TL Q\' FY 65 FY GG FY 67 FY @ TOTAL 

187 218 153 138 169 113 97O 

CINCPAC approved the CPSVN as submitted and sent it on to the JCS. 

j( However^ in the interim, OSD had issued dollar guidelines for MAP planning 

for Vietnam. The ceilings indicated therein were significantly at variance 

1 1 . ' with the costing figures employed by MACV in developing the CPSVN. 9/ Wlien 

CINCPAC foi-.7arded the plan, therefore, he went to considerable leng-bhs to 
explain the discrepancies and to support aiid justify the higher costs. 
Comparison of the DOD dollar guidelines with the CPSVN, projected through 
FY G^^ showed a net difference of approximately GG million dollars, vrith 


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the preponderance of the increase occurring in FY ft. lO/ Most of 
this difference was accounted for by additional Packing-Crating-Handling- 
Transportation (PCHP) costs associated with the CPSVN but not accommodated 
in the DOD guideline figures. 

The body of the CPSVN laid out the costs in relation to the DOD 
dollar guidelines J as follows: 


PY ft FY 63 FY 66 FY 67 FY ffl FY 69 TOTAL 

CTSYm "2i8~ 153 ~8" "Tg9~ 113 110 901 ■ 

DOD Guidelines l6o 165 16O I50 l40 122 897 
Difference +58" -12 -22 +19 -27 -12 +? 

PCHT Added "^l^ lii lii iii ±10 +8 t^ 
Difference ' +^9 -1 -11 +30 -I7 ~^ +^ 

^"Excludes PCHT. 

The rationale offered was that^ in order to prosecute the counter- insurgency 
to a successful conclusion^ while at the same time building up GVN capability 
to allow early withdravral of U.S. forces^ the major costs of the program had 
to be compressed into the FY 63-65 time frame; with a particular increase in 
FY ft and another following U.S. withdrawal in FY 67. ll/ But clearly most 
of the greater cost throughout the period reflected PCHT. 

The pattern of force levels for all South Vietnamese forces that the 
CPSVTJ provided for, including the separate non-^lAP funded Civilian Irregu- 
lar Defense Group, is shown in Figure 1. ' . 


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1 965 1 966 






CPSVN -Total U.S. Supported Forces (U) 


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Since the ultimate objective of the CPSVN was early withdrawal of 
U.Se special military assistance, the plan provided for phasing out U.S. 
advisory forces. The affected major coimnands of USMACV that would largely 
not be req,uired after FY 66 were; 

1. The U.S. Marine Element which provided helicopter trans- 
portation support. 

2. The 2d Air Division which provided the USAF portion of the 
special military assistance support perforraed in SVN. This 
support- included "Famigate" (Fighter), "Mule Train" (Trans- 
portation), and "Able Mable" (Reconnaissance). It also 
provided USAF administration and logistical support for USAF 
personnel and equipment engaged in special military assistance 
to SM. 

3. U.S. Army Support Group Vietnam (USASGV) which provided the 
U.S. Arn^y portion of the special military assistance support 
for SVN (except that performed by MAAG and Headquarters MACV), 
including helicopter and fixed wing air transportation, signal 
con-jmunications, and special forces. It also provided U.S. 
administrative and logistical support for assigned and attached 
personnel and equipment engaged in the special military assistance. 

h. Headquarters Support Activity Saigon (hSAS) which provided 

administrative support to the U.S. Headquarters and other U.S. 
government sponsored agencies and activities located in Saigon. 

5. I^AG Vietnam would have its strength reduced by one-half after 
FY 65. Only 1,500 MAAG personnel were to remain in country 
after FY '''' 

The target schedule for U.S. force withdrawal, as then forecast, is 
contained in Figure 2. 12/ 

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U5ASG (V) 






























CPSVN - Forecast of Phase-Out of U.S. Forces (U) 


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On 7 March 1963, the JCS accepted the iViACV CPSVW in toto and for- 
warded it to the Secretary of Defense. They reconmiended approval_, and 
proposed that it be the basis for both revising the FY 6^ I^LAI^ and develop- 
ment of the FI 65-69 MAPS. They rec[uested an early decision on the CPSVN 
because the greatest increase would occur in the FY 6k MAP. The JCS fully 
supported the higher costs of the CPSVN above the WD dollar guidelines. I3/ 

In OSD; the proposed CPSVN underwent staffing review in ISA MA Plans 
and elsewhere. Draft responses to the JCS were prepared and then with- 
drawn. Secretary McNamara was not satisfied with either the high funding 
levels or the adequacy of the plan regarding exactly hov?" the RVN forces 
Mere to take over from the U.S. to effect the desired phase-out of the 
U.S. military commitment. In mid-April he decided to withhold action 
pending full review of the CPSVN at another Honolulu conference which he 
expressly scheduled for that purpose for 6 May. Meantime^ the various OSD 
agencies concerned were instructed to prepare detailed analyses and back- 
ground studies for him- 1^!-/ 

The main focus of interest of the Secretary of Defense was on the policy 
objective behind the CPSVN;, namely^ to reduce systematically the scale of 
U.S. involvement until phased out completely. Hovrever^ the beginnings of 
a counter-current were already evident. New demands for increases all 
around were to overwhelm the phasing out objective. Ad hoc requirements 
for more U.S. forces were being generated piecemeal^ each in its own right 
sufficiently reasonable and so honored. This current^ counter- current 
dynamic can be illustrated well by Mr. McNamara 's decisions of late March. 
As part of the Secretary's policy of demanding strict accounting and tight 
control on authorized U»S. in-country strength ceilings^ he asked for the 
latest reading on projected U.S. military strength to be reached in Vietnam. 
He was reassured by the Chairman^ JCS_, that the estiinated peak would not 
exceed 15^0-1-0 personnel. Yet^ on this very same day^ the Secretary approved 
a substantial force augmentation;, requested earlier^ for FAMGATE and air- 
lift support; involving 111 additional aircraft and a total of approximately 
1^75 additional personnel. I5/ Other similar special requirements and ad 
hoc approvals soon were to follow. 

Assessments of continuing favorable developm^ents in the improving 
Vietnam situation in the spring of I963 seemed to warrant more than ever 
going ahead with the planned phase out. The general tenor of appraisals 
at the USMACV level v/ere that the RVNAF had regained the initiative from 
the VC and that the GW position had improved militarily^ economically,, 
and polj-tically. Evaluations expressed in the "Sumjiaary of Highlights" 
covering the first year of MACV*s existence cited in detail the record of 
the increasing scale^ frequency^ and effectiveness of RVNAF operations^ 
v;hile those of the VC v^ere declining. Casualty ratios favored RVNAF by 
more than two to one^, and the balance of weapons captured vs weapons lost 
had also shifted to the GVN side. Cited as perhaps the most significant 
progress was the Strategic Hamlet Program. The future looked even brighter^ 
e.g.; "...barring greatly increased resupply and reinforcement of the Viet 
Cong by inf iltration^ the mil3.tary phase of the war can be virtually v7on 
in 1963." 16/ 

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Other evaluations^ though more conservative,, still tended to corr- 
oborate this optimism. NIE 53-63^ issued 17 April 19^3; fomid no particular 
deterioration or serious problems in the military situation in South Viet- 
nam; on the contrary^ it saw some noticeable itnprovements and gen&ral 
progress over the past year. The worst that it could say was that the 
situation "remains fragile." 1T/ 


At the 6 May Honolulu Conference; briefing reports again confirmed 
gratifying progress in the military situation. Addressing the CPSTO^ 
Mr. McNamara q.uestioned the need for more Vietnamese forces in FY ffi (224.4 
thousand) than the present level of 215 thousand. His reasoning was that 
a poor nation of 12 million like Vietnam could not support that many men 
under arms. Qualitatively _, furthermore^ the planned evolution of VMF 
seemed overambitious in terms of sophisticated v;eaponry such as fighter 
aircraft. In s-um^ the Secretary felt the CPSVI^ assumed an unrealistically 
high force level for the SVN military establishment and assigned it equip- 
ment that was both \anduly complicated to operate and expensive to procure 
and maintain. 

Based on these considerations^ the Secretary of Defense concluded that^ 
if the insurgency came under control in FY 65 as anticipated^ the U.S. MAP 
investment in SVN thereafter should not be more than at the rate of about 
$50 million per year. In his view^ thus^ the $573 million MAP proposed in 
the CPSVN for the period FY 65 through FY 63 was at least $270 million higher 
than an acceptable program. 

With regard to phasing out U.S. forces^ the Secretary of Defense stated 
that the pace contemplated in the CPSVN was too slow. He v^^anted it revised 
to accomplish a more rapid withdrawal by accelerating training programs in 
order to speed up replacement of U.S. units by ^'^ units as fast as possible. 
Wliile recognizing that the build-up of RVNAF was inherently a slow process^ 
he stressed that in the instance of some U.S. units which had been in SVN 
since I96I; it would be possible more rapidly to transfer functions to Viet- 
namese. Specifically toward this end, he decided that 1^000 UoS.- military 
personnel should be withdrawn from South Vietnam by the end of CY 63 and 
directed that concrete plans be so drawn up. I8/ 

On returning to Washingt.on the Secretary of Defense instructed the 
ASD(ISA) on 8 May to develop^ in coordination with the Joint Staff; a plan 
for replacing U.S. forces currently deployed in Vietnam with indigenous SVN 
forces as rapidly as possible^ and particularly^ to prepare a plan for with- 
drawing 1;000 U.S. troops before the end of 1965- In another memorandum 
the same day to the ASD(ISA) regarding the MP; he noted that "the plan 
needs to be completely reworked." He therefore instructed ISA also to 
develop a neW; lovrer I^lAP for Vietnam for the period Yi 65 through 69; 
requesting that the ISA reconimendations be submitted by the first of 
September. I9/ 

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A day later^ on 9 May^ the JCS formally directed CINCPAC to take 
the necessary actions resulting from the Honolulu Conference and revise 
the CPSVN. Guidance and terms of reference were provided reflecting the 
Secretary of Defense reactions and specifying the decisions reached. 
Singled out especially was the req_uirement for U.S. force withdrawal. 
The JCS directive read: 

As a matter of urgency a plan for the withdrawal of about 
1;000 U.S. troops "before the end of the year should be developed 
based upon the assijmption that the progress of the counter- 
insurgency campaign would warrant such a move. Plans should be 
based upon withdrawal of US units (as opposed to individuals) 
by replacing them with selected and specially trained RWAF units. 20 / 

COMUS-IACV in turn was tasked to draft the revised CPSW and prepare a 
plan for the 1000-man reduction. CINCPAC^ after some changes and revisions^ 
concurred in the proposed plans and forwarded them to the JCS on 11 May. 
The revised outline CPSVN nov; provided for the following SW force levels 
(in' thousands): 

FY (h FY 6$ FY 66 FT 6j FY 68 FY 69 
Total Military 
and Para-military l^^T.i^ ^^^5.5 362.9 317.1 263.8 2lij-.7 

MAP levels provided for were as follows (in $ millions): . 

FY 6^- FY 63 ' .FY 66 . FY 67 FY 6B FY 69 Grand Total 

178.9 i^-9-O 130.3 120J^ 100.5 85.0 76^^-1. 

' The proposed plan for withdrawal of the first increment of U.S. forces_, in 
compliance with instructions^; emphasized units rather than individuals^ but 
the list of so-called "units" scheduled to be included were all smaller than 
company size. All Services were represented. The criteria employed^ also 
based on earlier guidance^ were to select most of the personnel from service 
support and logistics skills most easily spared and whose release would have 
least effect on operations. The total came to 1^003 U.S. military personnel 
to be withdrawn from South Vietnara by the end of December 1963- 2l / 


ISA meanv/hile developed tentative dollar guidelines for MAP planning 
for Vietnam. The first cut^ based on the Secretary of Defense's own sug- 
gested total for the FY 65-69 period; was rejected by the Secretary of 
Defense as too high and returned^ with various desired reductions entered 
by the Secretary of Defense. 22/ Reconciling the ^lAP with the CPSVN 
proved to be a difficult problem. As CPSVN succeeded^ it was logical 
that I4AP would have to increase; yet CPSVN tried to cut back MAP as well. 
>— >. For instance^ the contemplated phase- out of U.S. artillery-spotter aircraft 

sq_uadrons entailed an add-on to MAP to accom-modate the sq_uadron*s equip- 
ment and maintenance after transferral to the Vietnamese. 

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Toward the end of May the MAP dollar ceiling for FY 6^ was estab- 
lished at $l80 million* But for the period after PY 64 both the MAP 
and the CPSVN were far from being settled. On 29 May CJNCPAC was directed 
to develop three a3_ternative plans in comparative terms based on the fol- 
lowing total dollar levels for the FY 65-69 period: 

a. $585 million (derived from the current proposed CPSVN) . 

b. $450 million (compromise). 

c. $365 million (SecDef goal). 

Funding guidelines for each of the three versions were provided as follows: 

Plan ($ millions) FY 65 ¥1 G6 FY 67 FY "g3 FY 69 

585 150 130 120 100 85 

450 150 .120 70 ■ 60 50 

365 125 90 50 50 50 

Implied was that a choice would be made somev?-here v/ithin this range. 23/ 

A new^ complex MAP-CPSW planning cycle was thus set in motion that 
would not fully run its course for almost a year longer. CINCPAC responded 
by preparing the comparative analysis of the alternative MiAP levels^ as 
instructed_j but besides the three plans req^uired^ introduced a fourth ver- 
sion developed by the Joint Staff and identified as "Plan j/' which fell 
mid-range and came to $^50.9 million. Submitted to the JCS on I8 July^ 
the four plans were reviewed at lengthy with the upshot that the JCS added 
a fifth plan identified as the "Model M Plan^ " the total cost of which fell 
closer to the bottom-range figure but still came to $ifOO million. It pro- 
vided for higher force levels deemed necessary during the critical period 
FY 65 and FY GG, and thus go above the Secretary of Defense desired ceiling 
of $365 million. The breakout of the Model M Plan was as follov^j 


FY 65 FY GG FY 67 FY 68 FY GS 

SVN rnilitary strength > '. ' , " "■ . 

(thousands) 225.5 ^25.5 ikQ.Q 122.0 121.2 

MAP costs ($ millions) lh'^.2 117.2 51.2 h^.l lH.3 


All five plans were forwarded by the JCS on 27 August^ with the recommenda- 
tion that the Secretary of Defense approve the Model M Plan. 2hJ 

.ISA concurred in the JCS recomraendation with certain minor reserva- 
tions^ 25 / and on 6 September^ the Secretary of Defense accordingly 
approved the Model M Plan as a basis for development of the FY 65-69 MAPs. 

However^ the Secretary at the same time advised the JCS that U.S. materiel 
turned over to SVN units would henceforth be charged to the MAP. Such costs 

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therefore would have to be absorbed within the authorized Model Plan ceilings. 26/ 


Nonetheless^ there were still further refinements made. As finally 
published^ the approved MAP reflecting the Model M Plan version of the 
CPSVN provided for the following SVN active military strength levfels (in 

FY gl EY 63 FY 66 FY 6T FY 68 FY 69 
ARW 207 . 5 201 .3 177 . 5 121^ , 5 10^1- -8 103 . 9 

Total (All Services 442.5 437.0 340.2 l42.1 122.2 120.2 

regular and para-military) 

Costing levels were as follows (in $ millions): 

FY 6^ . FY 65 FY 66 FY 67 FY @ FY 69 Total 

180.6 153.0 107.7 46.2 44.6 40.7 392.2 

This final product represented a radical reduction in both force levels and 
financial investment after FY 66_, consistent with the Administration's 
original policy goal of ending the war and the U.S* military involvement 
by December I965. 27/ ''' 


Meanwhile^ planning for the 1000-man withdrawal directed by the 
Secretary of Defense on 6 May was split off from the CFSVN proper and 
the MAP; and was being treated as a separate entity. On 20 August^ the 
JCS; concurring in the proposed plan developed by COmSMACV and CINCPAC^ 
forvj-arded it to the Secretary of Defense. They recommended approval at 
this time for planning purposes only; final decision vras to depend upon 
circumstances as they developed. The JCS also seconded CINCPAC's added 
proposal to withdrav/ the 1000 troops in three or four increments_, rather 
than all at one time. The reasons given were that this would be more 
practical and efficient for the U.S.^ would miniraize the impact on on-going 
military operational activities within South Vietnam^ and would afford the 
opportunity for "news prominence and coverage over an extended period of 
time." 28/ 

ISA; v/ith certain reservations^ recommended approval of the withdrav^al 
plan submitted by JCS. ISA pointed out to the Secretary of Defense that the 
plan as it stood would not drai-T all of the 1000 troops from U.S. units that 
were to be relieved by adequately trained SVN -unitS; as had been intended. 
Many of the so-called "units" designated therein actually were not bona 
fide existing units but were specially formed "service support units" made 
up of random individuals most easily spared throughout USI'lACV. ISA cau- 
tioned that the arbitrary creation of such ad hoc "units" solely for the 
purpose of the withdravral might backfire in press reaction. ISA also recom- 
mended; in order to show credibly that the final year-end U.S. in-country 

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strength had- dropped by 1000 from peak strength, that U.S. military 
stren^h figures in Vietnam be made public, and that the actual strength 
as well as the authorized ceilings at any given tirde be carefully moni- 
tored to insure that the desired reductions were indeed achieved. 29/ 

A few days later the Secretary of Defense approved the 1000-man with- 
drawal plan forwarded in JCSM-629-.63 as reconmiended. He agreed, however, 
with ISA and advised the JCS against creating special units if their only 
purpose was to be a holding unit as a vehicle for withdrawal of individuals. 
He also requested that he be provided with a projection of U.S. military 
strength in South Vietnam, by month, for the period September through 
December I963. 30/ ' . . 

The following week the Chairman, JCS, responded to the Secretary of 
Defense *s request and furnished the following projection of end-of -month 
U.S. military strengths in South Vietnam: 

August — 16,201 

September-- 16,^83 

c October — l6,T32 

November — 16,^1^56 

December — 15,732 


It was noted that the planned lOOO-man withdrawal wou2d represent a reduc- ■ 
tion based on the October peak strength. The first increment of 276 
personnel would be withdrawn during November and the remaining increments 
in December. 31/ This, as it turned out, was destined to be changed 
somewhat before the withdrawal was executed. 


VThile the CPSVN-KiAP and withdrawal planning were going on, significant 
developments altering the character of the entire situation to which the 
planning effort vms addressed--in fact threatening to invalidate the very 
premises from which the planning sprung--were occurring within South Vietnam. 
The Buddhist crisis was rocking the foundations of v^hat precarious political 
stability the Diem government enjoyed and there was growing concern about 
its effect on the prosecution of the war against the VC and on improve- 
ments of EVN/vF. 

A series of incidents beginning early in May revealed the deep divisions 
betv/een militant Buddhist factions, who purported to speak for the buJ.k of 
the South Vietnamese population, and the Government, tock of popular support 
for the Diem regime had now turned to open opposition. As passions flared 

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and Buddhist activism was met with increasingly severe counterrneasures^ 
violence spread and grev more serious. A tenuous truce was reached briefly 
betvrcen Buddhist leaders and the GVN on 10 June (formally signed on l6 June) 
in a mutual effort to reduce tensions—but proved short-lived. Almost 
immediately the actions of both sides repudiated the agreements. 32/ 

The U.S. began to be apprehensive about the possible consequences of 
the Diem governm.ent falling as the result of a coup. By early July, the 
crisis was recognized as serious at the highest levels of the U.S. Govern- 
ment. 33/ 

Through mid-July assessments remained reasonably reassuring. There 
was little evidence of Impact on the military sector. In fact, indications 
pointed to the military situation continuing to ijnprove. DIA reported on 
17 July that the general level of VC- initiated actions during the first 
six months of I963 was considerably lower than for the same period the 
year before. Battalion and company-size attacks were at about half the 
1962 level. It was noted, however, that despite reduced activity, VC 
capability remained essentially unimpaired. Regarding the progress of 
South Vietnamese counterinsurgency efforts, the DIA evaluation was cau- 
tiously optimistic: though there was still a long way to go, GVN prospects 
"are certainly better than they were one year ago." 3^/ 

Quite abruptl^r, a disturbing element began to emerge. Little more 
than two weeks later, the DIA Intelligence Bulletin of k August reported 
a significant increase in the level of VC offensive actions. Moreover, 
the rate was high for the third week in a row since mid- July. 35/ The 
clear iiiiplication was that the VC at last were taking advantage of the 
opportunity presented by the Buddhist crisis. It had been expected-- 
and feared— that they would seek to hasten political collapse and exploit 
whatever military vulnerabilities there were. The U.S. was thus justifi- 
ably concerned lest the recent revived VC aggressiveness be the opening 
phase of a stepped up insurgency. Within ten days of this DIA report, 
however, a reevaluation of the significance to be attached to the increased 
rate of enemy actions allayed fears somewhat. On 1^^ August, SACSA, reporting 
to the Secretary of Defense, discounted the upsurge in VC activity over the 
past month. Its magnitude, comparatively, was below the average of the 
preceding year and fell far short of the previous high. In this perspective, . 
SACSA saw no cause to read undue implications into developm-ents that were 
as yet neither particularly salient nor of long duration. 36/ 

The political crisis meanwhile took a turn for the worse. President 
Diem, in an attempt to regain control, declared martial law on 20 August. 
The decree was accompanied by forcible entry into pagodas and mass arrests 
of Buddhist leaders and laity, and was immediately followed by a series of 
preem_ptoi-y repressive measures. Any hope of reconciliation was now shattered, 
and the Diem government was irrevocably isolated. 


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The Director^ DIA^ in a special report to the Secretary of Defense^ 
expressed concern that the declaration of martial law "will have serious 
repercussions throughout the country." He foresaw further coup or counter- 
coup activity in the making^ though for the time being the military had 
effectively assumed full control. So far^ he saw little military effect 
on the war effort; relatively few troops had been withdrawn from noiTnal 
missions. 37./ At an August 31 review of the problem for Vice President 
Johnson; Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary McNamara agreed that U.S. 
planning had to be based on two principles-~that the U.S. would not pull 
out of Vietnam until the war were won, and that it would not participate 
in a coup d^etat against Diem. 38/ 

For the next month; as the precarious political situation balanced on 
the brink of imminent disaster,, U.S. anxieties mounted. The Administration 
was confronted by a dilemiTia. It was helpless to ameliorate conditions as 
long as Diem remained in power--nor did it want to. approve and support such 
a regime. Yet at the same time^ it was equally helpless to encoujrage a 
change of government--there was no feasible replacement anywhere on the 
South Vietnamese political horizon. The upshot was an ambivalent policy 
of watchful waiting tovrard the aVN^ while the main preoccupation and focus 
of attention was on the conduct of the South Vietnam^ese military forces 
and the progress of the counterinsurgency programs. These still remained 
the first order of business. 


By the middle of September^ the President was deeply concerned over 
the critical political situation^ but more iraportantly; over its effect 
on the war, A decision juncture had been reached. At issue was the U.S. 
military commitment in South Vietnam; a redirection of U,S. policy and 
objectives might be required. On 21 September, the President directed 
the Secretary of Defense, in company with the Chairman, JCS, to proceed 
to South Vietnam for a personal examination of the military aspects of the 
situation. The President gave as the purpose of the trip "... my desire 
to have the best possible on-the-spot appraisal of the military and para- 
military effort to defeat the Viet Cong." He stated that there had been, 
at least until recently, "heartening results, " but that political deteriora- 
tion since May had raised serious questions about the continued effective- 
ness of these efforts and the prospects for success. The President, there- 
fore, needed an assessment of the present situation, and if the McNamara- 
Taylor prognosis were not hopeful, they were to recommend needed actions 
by the SVW and steps the U.S. should take to bring about those actions. 39/ 

The Secretary of Defense and the CJCS, accompanied by a team of civ- 
ilian and military assistants to help in the survey, arrived in South Vietnam 
on 26 September and returned to Washing^bon on 2 October. During their visit, 
detailed data were compiled for them, presentations prepared, extensive 
briefings given, conferences convened, and consultations held. Baerging 
from the investigations and appraisals was a body of positive evidence 

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indicating that conditions were good and prospects improYing. In fact,^ 
in the course of these reassurances^j the Secretai-y of Defense decided to 
order a speed up of the planned program for release of U.S. forces. In 
guidance fui'nished at the time^ he directed that the projected schedules 
for force reduction provided for in the cvirrently approved Model M Plan 
version of the CPSTO be accelerated by approximately six nionths . Accord- 
ingly^ necessary planning revisions were undertaken iirMediately on a 
priority basis 


In contrast to the generally favorable military situation^, however^ 
there v/ere grave laisgivings about the political state of affairs. Earlier^ 
a draft te>ct of a proposed letter from the President of the United States 
to President Diem of the WN had been for\'/arded by cable to the Secretary 
of Defense and the Ambassador^ with a request for their reaction and com- 
ments. Pi^esident Kennedy himself, thought the letter too extreme^ and 
would reluctantly resort to it only if the situation was found so serious 
that such direct US Presidential pressure was necessary. The text of the 
proposed letter was characterised by harsh^ blunt candor. In effect it 
laid dov/n an ultimatmi: unless the GVN changed the repressive policies^ 
methods_, and actions practiced by some individual officials and gained for 
itself a broad base of popular political suj^port; the United States might 
have to consider disassociating itself from the Diem Government^ and fur- 
ther US support of Vietnam might become impossible. The Secretary of 
Defense and the Atnbassador prompt3.y responded with a strong recommendation 
against tra'nsmitting the proposed letter. Both agreed that the situation 
was indeed very^^ serious^ but that it \ms not likely to be influenced by 
such a letter to Diem."^ 

The proposed Presidential letter was not sent. Instead^ many of 
the points v^ere conveyed in conversations with Diem/^^ and^ just before 
the departure of the McNamara-Taylor Mission from Vietnam,, another letter 
to President Diem was composed and sent in its place. The new version 
was not only much softer in tone and more circumspect but went out over 
the signature of General Taylor as Chairman^ Joint Chiefs of Staff. The 
letter was dated 1 October 1963,, but was delivered on 2 October^ v^ith the 
approval of the Secretary of Defense and with the concurrence of the US 
Ambassador to Vietnam. (Lodge). 

In this letter the CJCS offered his personal^ professional comments 
on the military situation^ in response to Diem's earlier expressed 
interest in receiving them. After acknowledging the encouraging mili- 
tary progress over the preceding two years^ the CJCS stated^ "it vras not 
until the recent political disturbances beginning in May and continuing 
through August and beyond that I personally had any doubt as to the 
ultimate succeris of our campaign against the Viet Cong." He then added: 


Msg State VfE to Saigon^ 2k Sep 63^ TOP SECHEP EYES OI^Y for AT^IBASSADOE 
LODGE and SECFETARY MciMAlIAPvA; MSG Saigon 593 to State^ 24 Sep 63^ 


-5^ Airgram^ Saigon Py-^hh to State^ 3 Oct 63; Subj: "McEamara- Taylor Mission 
Memo of Conversation with President Diem^ Sep 29^ I963/' SECRET. 


TOP SECRET.- Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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"]^Io\r^ as Secretary Kcl^amara has told. yoU; a serious doubt 
hangs over our hopes for the futujre. Can ve win together in 
the face of the reaction to the measures taken by your Govern- 
ment against the Buddhists and the students? As a military man 
I -would say that we can vin providing there are no further 
political setbacks. The military indicators are still genei^ally 
favorable and can be made more so by actions readily within the 
power of your Government. If you will allow me^ I would mention 
a few of the military actions which I believe necessary for this 

improvem.ent . " 

The Chairm.8n noted that though the military situation in I; 11^ and 
III Corps- areas was generally good^ some of the hard-core war zones of 
the Viet Cong remained virtually lontouched. There were not enough offensive 
actions against the enemy in the field and'^ in his opinion^ the full poten- 
tial of the military units was not being exploited^ for "...only a ruthless^ 
tireless offensive can win the war." 

The principal military problems_, he pointed out_, were now in the 
Delta; and the time had. come to concentrate efforts there. An over- 
haul of the Strategic Hamlet Prograon was needed. For it to succeed^ 
there must be a related clear-pnd-hold campaign by the combat units 
of IV CorpS; and the tactics shouJLd be oriented to the waterways that 
were a natural characteristic of the region. Furthermore^ infantry 
line Linits would have to operate at full strength, without diversion 
of combat poorer to rear echelon functions. The CJCS suggested that this 
latter problem was the case in ARVN generally^ which President Diem 
might v^ant to examine closely. 

Finally he summed up what was intended as the statement of the US 

"In closing, Mr. President, may I give you my most impor- 
tant overall impression? Up to now, the battle against the 
Viet Cong has seem.ed endless; no one has been willing to set 
a date for its successful conclusion. After talking to scores 
of officers, Vietnamese and Ajiierican, I am convinced that the 
Viet Cong insurgency in the north and center can be reduced to 
little more than sporadic incidents by the end of 196^. The 
Delta will take longer but shoiad be completed by the end of 
1965, But for these predictions to be valid, certain conditions 
must be met. Your Goverraiient should be prepared to energize all. 
agencies, military and civil, to a higher output of activity than 
up to now. Ineffective comiuanders and province officials must 
be replaced as soon as identified. Finally, there should be a 
restoration of domestic tranquility on the homefront if political 
tensions are to be allayed and external criticism is to abate. 
Conditions are needed for the creation of an atmosphere conducive 
to an effective campaign directed at the objective, vital to both 

20 TOP SECRET ■•■ Sensitive 




\ I 

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of us_, of defeating the Viet Cong and of restoring peace to 
your cozmriunity."'^ 

The results of the survey conducted by the McHainara-Taylor mission 
were consolidated into a lengthy^ formal report to the President con- 
taining specific findings^ general evaluations^ and recoinmendations. The 
substance of the report was presented in an hour-long; oral briefing to 
the President iimiiediately upon the return of the mission on the morning 
of 2 October. Attending the briefing were the Under Secretary of State^ 
the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs^ the Director of the 
CIA; and the Special Assistant to the President for Mtional Security 
Affairs. Following the personal report^ the President called for a 
special m_eeting of the full National Security Council^ which was held 
from six to seven that saiiie evening. 


The McKamara-Taylor Report generally was optJJulstic about the military 
situation and saw little direct effect of the political crisis on the 
prosecution of the war. Their conclusions^ inter alia^ were that despite 
serious political tensions and the increasing unpopularity of the Diem-LIhu 
regime^ "The military cejvipaign has m^ade great progress and continues to 
progress." GW military officers^ though hostile to the government and 
its repressive policies^ continued to perfonn their military duties in the 
larger cause of fighting the Viet Cong enemy. This reassuring evaluation^ 
however^ was caveated to the effect that "...further repressive actions 
by Dieiu and Fnu could change the present favorable m.ilitary trends c" 

Specific findings in their appraisal of the military situation bore 
out the general evaluation. In the body of the report they stated: 

"With allowances for all uncertainties^ it is oue firm con- 
clusion that the GVN m.ilitary program has made great progress in 
the last year and a half; and that the progress has continued at 
a fairly steady rate in the past six months even through the 
period of greatest political unrest in Ssigon. The tactics and 
techniques employed by the Vietnamese under U.S. monitorshlp are 
sound and give jJ^o^lse of ultimate victory." 

Expecially notewortb^^^ in their vieW; was the progress clearly being 
achieved in the northern areas (l and II Corps). Their appraisal of the 
progress of the Strategic Hamlet Program was also largely favorable. In 
both connections; they cited the effectiveness of the U.S. military advisory 
and support effort. 

Included among their militaiy reconmendations were: 

a. General Harkins /cOlCfSMCV/ review with Diem the military 
changes necessary to complete the military cam2:)aign in the 
Northern az^d Central areas (l; II; III Corps) by the end of 
I96J+; and in the Delta (lY Corps) by the end of I965. 

b. A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential 
functions now x;erformed by U«S. military riersonnel can be 

* Ltr CJCS (Taylor) to President Diem of RVN; 1 Oct 63 (delivered 
2 Oct 63) y TOP SECRET. 

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■carried out by Yietnamese by the end of 19o5- ^ should be 
possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time. 

c. In accordance with the program to train progressively Viet- 
namese to take over military functions^ the Defense Department 
should announce in the near future presently prepared plans to 
withdraw 1000 U.S. military personnel by the end of I963. This 
action rhould be explained in low key as an initial step in a 
long-term program to replace U.S. personnel with trained Viet- 
namese without Impairment of the war effort. 

Germane to the above recommendations^ however; it was stated elsewhere 

in the report, "No further reductions should be made until the requirements 

of the I96U campaign becom_e firm." ko/ 

Following the NSC meeting of 2 October, the White House issued a 
■ formal public announcement of the major policy aspects of the McNamara- 
Taylor Mission Report. The White House statem.ent is reproduced below. 


■ Secretary /of Defense Robert Sj McNamara and General /^axwell dJ 
Taylor reported to the President this morning and to the National 
■ . Security Council this afternoon. Their report included a number of 
classified findings and recommendations which will be the subject 
of further review and action. Their basic presentation was endorsed 
- by all members of the Security Council, and the following statement 
of United States policy was approved by the President on the basis 
of recommendations received from them and from Ambassador /Henry 
■ Cabot/ Lodge. 

1. The security of South Viet-Nam is a major interest of the 
United States as other free nations. We will adhere to our policy 
of working with the people and Government of South Viet-Nam^to deny 
this country to communism and to suppress the externally stljuulated 
and supported insurgency of the Viet Cong as promptly as possible. 
Effective performance in this undertaking is the central objective 
of our policy in South Viet -Nam. 

2. The military program in South Viet-Nam has made progress and 
is sound in principle, though improAz-ements are being energetically 

3. Major U.S. assistance in support of this military effort is 
needed only until the insurgency has been suppressed or until the 
national security forces of the Government of South Viet-Nam are 
capable of sujjpressing it. 

Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment 
that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the 
end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a 
Ijjaited number of U.S. training personnel. They reported that by 
the end of this year, the U.S. program for training Vietnamese should 

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have progressed to the point where 1^000 U.S. military personnel 
assigned to South Viet- Warn can he withdrawn. 

^. The political situation in South Viet-Nam remains deeply 
serious.. The United States had. made clear its continuing opposition 
to any repressive actions in South Viet-Nam. While such actions have 
not yet significantly affected the military effort^ they could do so 
in the future. 

5. It remains the policy of the United States,, in South Viet- 
Nam as in other parts of the worlds to support the efforts of the 
people of that country to defeat aggression and to build a peaceful 
and free society. 

Considerable emphasis was given to the White House statement^ and to the 
McNamara-Taylor Mission generally^ in news media. Played up particularly 
was the U.S. force vrithdrawal^ especially the prospective 1000-man reduction 

Three days later^ on 5 October;, in another meeting with the President^ 
followed by another NSC meeting^ the McNamara- Taylor recommendations them- 
selves were addressed. The President "ai^proved the military recommendations 
contained in the report." The President also directed^ in line with their 
suggestion; that no formal announcement be made of the Implementation of 
plans to withdraw 1000 U.S. military personnel from South Vietnam by the 
end of 1963. ^2/ 

The effect of the McNamara-Taylor mission^ thus^ was to revalidate 
the existing U.S. policy position regarding Vietnam. Reaffirmed were the ■ 
military objectives^ courses of action^ and programs essentially as they 
V7ere laid out by the Secretary of Defense at the Honolulu Conference over 
a year earlier on 23 July I962. The underlying premises and soundness 
of the rationale seemed more cogent than ever. In fact^ a new impetus 
was thereby given to pursuing the same goals with even greater thrust and 
purpose. Such an outcome could have been forecast^ as noted earlier^ 
when Mr, McNamara set in motion another CPSVN planning cycle to revise 
the Model M Plan and develop an accelerated plan to v^ithdraw U.S. forces. 

Part of the motivation behind the stress placed on U.S. force with- 
drav^al^ and particularly the seemingly arbitrary desire to effect the 1000- 
man reduction by the end of 1963^ apparently was as a signal to influence 
both the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese and set the stage for 
possible later steps that would help bring the insurgency to an end. With 
regard to the SVN; the demonstration of determination to pull out U.S. 
forces was intended to induce the South Vietnamese to increase the effective- 
ness of their military effort. ^3/ Staters instructions to Ambassador 
Lodge resulting from NSC action~n the McNamara-Taylor mission indicated 

"Actions are designed to indicate to Diem Government our dis- 
pleasure at its political policies and activities and to create 

significant uncertainty in that government and in key Vietnamese 
groups as to future intentions of United States. At same tme^ 
actions are designed to have at most slight impact on military or 

23. rjiQP SECRET - Sensitive 



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counterinsurgency effort against Viet Cong^ at least in 
short term. • . ." kk/ 


With respect to Hanoi^ it might present an opportunity for a demarche — 
exploiting i/ithdrawal of U«S. forces from South Vietnam by a specified . - 
date as exchange for DIorth Vietnam's abandoning its aggression against 
South Vietnam. But events vere already conspiring other>,'ise_, and would 
soon frustrate sueh expectations and intentions as developed. The 
internal SVN situation was about to undergo rapid transformation. 

By late October^, there was increasing skepticism in some quarters 
about the military situation in South Vietnam. Indeed^ it was beginning 
to be suspected that reports of progress by U.S« military sources actu- 
ally cloaked a situation that Vv'-as not only bleak^ but deteriorating.. A 
State Department inteLligence evaluation of 22 October showed markedly 
pessiraistic statistical trends since July 1963; in most areas of enemy- 
friendly relative progress measurement^ indicating an unfavorable shift in 
the military balance. What was disquieting was that the pattern showed 
steady decline over a period of more than three months* duration, h^/ 

Circulation of the 11\[H evaluation occasioned controversy and no little 
recrimination. Substantive differences" degenerated into a procedural issue. 
The outcome was a personal m.emorandum from- the Secretary of State to the 
Secretary of Defense on 8 Novem^ber^ amounting to an apology for the incident 
The Secretary of State stated in regard to IMR's RFE-90 of 22 October: 


.it is not the policy of the State Department to issue 
military appraisals without seeking the views of the Defense 
Department. I have requested that any memoranda given inter- 
■ departmental circuJLation which include military appraisals be 
coordinated with your Department." hG / 


On 1 November^ the political situation fell apart. The long-anticipated 
coup occurred. The Diem regime was overthrown^ and both Diem and Nhu were 
assassinated. A military junta of politically inexperienced generals took 
over the government as their successors. 

The significance of the great change,? for good or ill^ was not readi3„y 
apparent. Over the next three weeks the feared political chaos^ civil vmr^ 
i and collapse of the war effort following a coup did not seem to be mater- 

ializing. For the United States^ the important question was what did the 
new circumstances mean militarily for existing policy and plans oriented to 
; ( bringing the insurgency under control and to phasing out US force commitments 

On 20 November^ at the. President *s direction^ a special all-agencie 
conference on Vietnam was convened in Honolulu for a "full-scale review" 
in depth of all aspects of the situation and to reassess U.S^ plans and 
policies in the political^ military^ economic and 3.nformation fields 
since the change of governiuent. Attending were scjme h^ senior U.S. 
officials^ military and civilian^ including: the Secretary of State^ 
Secretary of Defense^ Special Assistant to the President for National 

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Security Affairs^ Chairoaan^ JCS^ Director of CIA^ CINCPAC^ Atnbassador to 
to Vietn^mi; and COMUSTvIACV". Ambassador Lodge assessed the prospects for 
VietnaBi as hopeful. In his estituation the new gOYernnaent was not v^ithout 
promise, Vietnamese military leadership appeared to be united and deter- 
mined to step up the war effort. The Ambassador advocated continuing to 
pursue the goal of setting dates for phasing out UcS. activities and 
turning them over to the Vietnamese^ and he volunteered that the announced 
withdrawal of 1000 troo2:)S by the end of I963 v/as already having a salutary 
affect. COl-iUSFLkCY agreed with the Ambassador that the conduct of the war 
against the VC vras coming along satisfactorily. Admitting that the VC- 
incidents rate shot up 3OO to 400 percent after the coup^ he noted that 
since 6 November^ however^ it had dropjjed down to "normal" and remained 
so to the present. Military operational statistics nov^ generally showed 
a more or less favorable balance. In shorty the briefings and assessments 
received at the conference constituted "an encouraging outlook for the 
principle objective of joint U,S, -Vietnamese policy in South Vietnam—the 
sviccessful prosecution of the war against the Viet Cong coimnunists. " More- 
over^j "excellent working relations between U.S. officials and the members 
of the new Vietnamese government" had been established. All plans for the 
UoS. phasing out v/ere to go ahead as scheduled. 

In this light the U.S. military plans and prograjus for Vietnara were 
addressed. The revision of the Model M Plan of the CPSVIV^ ordered by 
the Secretary of Defense during his last visit to Vietnam in October was 
progressing apace and the finished Accelerated Plan was expected to be 
forwarded shortly. It would cost $6,k million more than the Model Plan^ 
however. Indications were that the FT &l- MAP would also cost more because 
of the acceleration^-to a total now of $187.5 million. The Secretary of 
Defense made it clear that he felt that the proposed CINCPAC MAP could be 
cut back and directed that the program be reviewed to refine it and cut 
costs to stay as close as possible to the OSD celling of $175 '5 raillion. 
He was equally emphatic^ howevei*,, that vrhile he would not tolerate fat or 
inefficiency in the program he was prepared to provide whatever fiuids 
might be required under MAP to support the GYB. In fact^ he observed 
that the GVN v?as already rimnlng into "tremendous financial def icits^ " 
and opined that neither AID nor MAP had budgeted enough to provide for 
the emergencies were likely to arise during 196^1-. ^7 / 


On 22 November 1963^ President Kennedy was assassinated. The con-' 
sequences were to set an institutional freeze on the direction and momentum 
of U.S. Vietnam x-^olicy. Universally operative was a desire to avoid change 
of any kind dm ing the critical interregnuin period of the new Johnson 
Administration. Both the President and the governraental establishment 
consciously strove for continuity^ vrlth respect to Vietnam no less than 
in other areas. In. Vletn£im this continuity m.eant that the phase-out 
concept^ the CPSVN withdrawal plan^ and the MAP program^s probably survived 
beyond the point they might have"v?-ise. 

25 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


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The iimnediate Jolinson stamp on the Kennedy policy came on 26 Noveraber. 
At a NSC meeting convened to consider the .results of the 20 JMovember" 
Honolulu Conference^ the President "reaffirmed that U,S. objectives with 
respect to vithdra^/7al of U.S. military personnel remain as stated in the 
White House statement of October 2^ I963/' k8/ The only hint that some- 
thing might be different from on-going plans came in a Secretary of Defense 
memo for the President thjree days prior to this NSC meeting. In that memo^ 
Mr. McNamara said that the new South Vietnamese goverrmient was confronted 
by serious financial problem^s, and that the U.S. must be prepared to 
raise planned IvIAP levels, kg/ 

In early December,, the President began to have;, if not second thoughts_, 
at least a sense of uneasiness about Vietnam, In discussions vith his 
advisors^ he set in motion what he hoped would be a major policy review^ 
fully staffed in depth^, by Administration principals. The President wanted 
"a fresh new look taken" at the whole problem. In preparation for such a 
basic reappraisal^ an interdepartmental meeting of second-echelon principals 
accordingly convened on 3 December and laid out a broad outline of basic 
topics to be addressed and staff papers to be developed by various depart- 
ments and agencies. 50/ This attempt at a systematic and comprehensive 
reexamination^ however;, did not cuQjninate in a fundam.ental national reassess- 
ment . 


With no Indication of policy change in the offing^ U.S. military plan- 
ning thus went forv^ard with hardly a break in stride. On 5 December 
CII\"CPAC submitted the Accelerated Model Plan to the JCS. It was the 
revision to the Model M Plan version of the CPSVN that the Secretary of 
Defense had ordered during his early October visit to Vietnam. The 
Accelerated Plan provided for m-ore rapid phase-out of the bulk of U.S. 
military personnel and ujiits and a decrease in the residual strength 
remaining thereafter (see Figure 3). It also provided for building up 
GVN forces at a faster pace but on a more reduced scale^ then cutting 
back from the peak sooner and leveling out somewhat lov^er (see Figure k) . 
IVlAP costs for the FY 1965-69 period would be a little higher than the 
$392.2 million under the Model M Plan^ coming to $399. h million in the 
Accelerated Plan (see Fig^ure 5). 51/ 

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t i 



12' — 

11 — 

10 — 



6 — 

5 — 

3 — 

2 — 

371 b'4 


3 ; 409 









2]] 06 






















Li i v^ i ' i 'i i ' iiu. li' . i i 'iV ' ^'r^ 











1966 1967 





FIGURE 3 (S). Comprehensive Plan Soufh Vietnam (CPSVN) 

Phase Down of U.S. Forces (U) 


-/Tip- r"Y 

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"1 300 




5 250 








■ r ' ' f ' ' '• 






21 "3; '3 


''-'''r'T'-'fr i Vi'-'i'i' ■ '1 Vi' 




197. 4 


Lv^ '-'■'—• 1, r ■ 'i' i' iv^ 





. J I " H 1 1 U J I, 




i- 1 ^ '. .Tf yTT. 

i.*^ ■;'*;■'■."■ 













■■■i-.v ■■;■■:.:■« L--1.1J 






'ASiSui 'li- ViiiSiJjki 





1 966 1 967 




FIGURE 4 (S). Comprehensive Plan Vietnam (CPSVN) 

Phase Down of GVN Forces (U) 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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J 100 

5 90 






. 50 












LhM Ji M Ji 













FIGURE 5 (S). Comprehensive Plan Vielnam (CPSVN) tiAP Cost (U) 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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Daring the month of December^ the planned lOOO-man reduction was 
executed. It proved essentially an accounting exercise. Technically^ 
more than a thousand U^S. personnel did leave^ but many of these were part 
of the normal turnover cycle^ inasmuch as rotation policy alone^ not to 
mention medical evacuation or administrative reasons^ resulted in an 
average rate of veil over a thousand returnees per month. Though the 
replacement pipeline v/as slowed somewhat^ year-end total in-country strength 
nevertheless was close to 16^000. 5^/ This did not even represent a 
decline of 1000 from the October peak of l6/r32. 

That the avowed goal of 1000 would not be reached had in fact been 
anticipated and acknowledged before mid-December. Despite close monitoring 
of authorized ceilings and actual strengths_, the force level kept rising. 
On 11 December^ for example_, the estijnate of projected year-end U.S. 
strength in Vietnam had to be revised upward to reflect additional deploy- 
ments approved since September, The adjusted figure now came to 15^89^.? 
a net increase of 162 over the. earlier estimate. This nev/ strength ceiling 
was what would be left after the lOOO-man withdrawal then in progress v.^as 
completed. ^3 / 


In December conflicting est mates of the situation in Vietnam indi- 
cated that the bright hopes and predictions of the past were increasingly 
less than realistic. A McNamara memo to the President written following 
a trip to Vietnam of 21 December^ was laden with gloom. 5^/ He wrote: 
"The situation is very disturbing. Current trends^ unless reversed in 
the next 2-3 months_, will lead to neutralization at best and more likely 
to a communist-controlled state." He went on to note that "the new govern- 
ment is the greatest source of concern^ *' and. that "it is indecisive and 
drifting." The Country Team^ he added^ "lacks leadership^ and has been ■ 
poorly infoi^med." One of the most serious deficiencies he found was a 
"grave reporting weakness" on the U.S. side. "Viet Cong progress has been 
great during the period since the coup^ with my best guess being that the 
situation has in fact been deteriorating in the countryside since July to 
a far greater extent than we realise because of our undue dependence on 
distorted Vietnamese reporting." Mr. McNamara clearly concluded that none 
of these conditions could be reversed by the influx of more American 
personnel^ nor did he even mention that the U.S. could continue to withdraw 
troops at all or as scheduled. His proposal was to hold the line: "U.S. 
resources and personnel^" he said; "cannot usefully be substantially 
increased...^" although he did announce his intention to increase staffs 
"to sizes that will give us a reliable_, independent U.S. appraisal of the 
status of operations." In his concluding paragraph^ however^ the Secretary 
of Defense admitted that his o\ra estim_ate "may be overly pessimistic^ " inas- 
much as the Am^bassador^ COrCfSr-lACV, and General Minh were not discouraged 
and looked forvrard to significant mprovements in January, ^h/ 

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Vestiges of optajnism still persisted in one degree or another in 
some quarters. The earlier sense of confidence that had been established 
was deep-rooted and not easily shaken • A retrospective evaluation of 
the Vietnam situation ostensibly covering the period I96O through 19^3; 
prepared by SACSA (General Krulak) is indicative. Although intended as 
a broad overview (and so called)_, and though actually cut off as of soine- 
tinie in October 1963;, it was forwarded in late October or November directly 
to the Secretary of Defense. The SACSA report presented nothing less 
than a glowing account of steady progress across the board in the mili- 
tary situation. Significantly^ it contained no hint that the rate of 
progress possibly might have temporarily slowed somewhat in the second 
half of 1963^ despite the fact that it expressly treated events as late 
as October. 55/ Yet by this time^ other evaluations giving a quite 
different picture \rere already asserting themselves. Near the close of 
1963 the Director^ DIA; reported to the Secretary of Defense that year- 
end review and reassessment of the enemy situation revealed VC capabilities 
had not been impaired over the past year. On the contrary^ the VC had in 
many regards improved in combat effectiveness and novr enjoyed a generally 
improved force posture for insurgency. 56/ 

Hopeful bias alone does not explain the endurance of past firmly 
rooted optimism- -such as the SACSA overview. The difference between 
those v7ho stressed the positive and those who saw decline waS; in part^ 
the product of viewing the situation in greater or shorter time frames. 
Those who applied a macroscopic perspective^ believed--and not without 
certain logic — that current unfavorable reports were^ at worse_j a temporary 
lapse in the larger curve of progress over the years. Those who took spot 
. checks tended to be more impressed by the immediate situation^ and at 
this time; the immediate situation was critical. The feelings of this 
latter group were buttressed when on 30 January another coup^ this time 
largely bloodless^ ousted the ruling Minh government. It was a factional 
power struggle in which one military group replaced another^ this time 
with General IQianh emerging as Premier. The latest development held 
forth little promise of giving the country the political stability so 
desperately needed in the midst of a v/ar for survival. The event would 
prove only symptomatic as part of a sequence of similar government up- 
heavals that were to follow. 

In the U.S.; the coincidence of domestic tragedy and patent instability 
in Vietnam evoked a chorus urging a l£ios-like resolution of the Vietnam 
conflict. In late August^ 1963^ President de Gaulle had issued a policy 
stateraent on Vietnam which was subsequently officially interpreted as a 
proposal for "independence and neutrality" foi- Vietnam — meaning eventual 
U.S. withdrawal. In the aftermath of the assassinations^ speculation turned 
increasingly to this solution. For example^ Senator Mansfield wrote to 
President Johnson to propose a division of Vietnam between the GVN and the 
Viet Cong; coupled with a U.S. withdrawal. In early January; 196-^1-; Secre- 
tary McNamara furnished the President the following counters to Senator 
^ Mansfield's arguments: 


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"l. We should certainly stress that the var is essentially 
a Vietnamese re spon sibility , and this ve have repeatedly done^ 
particiLLarly in our announced policy on U.S. troop withdrawal. 
At the same time we cannot disengage U.S. prestige to any sig- . ■ 
nificant degree. . . . 

"2 • The security situation is serious^ but we can still win ^ 
even on present ground rules.... 

"3 Any deal either to divide the present territory of 

South Vietnam or to 'neutralize' South Vietnam would inevitably 
mean a new government in Saigon that would in short order become 
Communist -dominated . 

"^. The consequences of a Communist-dominated South Vietnam 
are extremel y ser ious both for the rest of Southeast Asia and 
for the UcS. position in the rest of Asia and indeed in other 
key areas of the world.... 

"5- Thus_, the stakes in preserving an anti-Communist South 
Vietnam are so high that^^ in our judgment ^ we must go on bending 
every effort to win....And_, I am confident that the American people 
are by and large in favor of a policy of firmness and strength in 
such situations." 57/ 

Secretary McNamara in his testimony before Congress on the fiscal 
year I965 budget in early February^ l^&-\-^ declined to link the previously 
planned U.S. withdrawals with either "pessimism" or "optimism" regarding 
events in Vietnam,, saying simply that the withdrawals had all along been 
conditioned upon Vietnamese capability to assume full responsibility from 
the UoS. trainers,, and that there would be a "substantial reduction in 
our force as we train them." Farther: 

"Last fall... I wasn't as optiiaistic perhaps about the course 
of the war as I was about being able to bring back our personnel 
in certain numbers by the end of last year and also in increments 
between then and the end of I965 . 

"1 still am hopeful of doing that. We did;, of course^ bring 
back 1;000 men toward the latter part of last year. I am hopeful 
ve can bring back additional numbers of men later this year and 
certainly next year . I say this because I personally believe 
that this is a war that the Vietnamese must fight... I don't believe 
we can take on that combat task for them. I do believe we can 
carry out training. We can provide advice and logistical assistance. 

"But after a 11^ the training^ by the very nature of the work^ 
comes to an end at a certain point. We will have started this 
expanded training and carried it out for a period of k years^ by 
the end of next year. We started at the end of I96I. The end 
of next. year will have been h years later and certainly v/e should 

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f n 

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have completed the majority of the training task by that time. 
ThiS; in General Taylor's view and mine^ is what we should he 
able to do. If we do^ \re should bring our men back. 


"l don't believe we should leave our men there to substitute 
for Vietnamese men who are qualified to carry out the task^ and 
this is really the heart of our proposal, I think it was a sound 
proposal then and I think so no\r. ..." 

Unsureness about the actual state of affaij?s in Washington spread 
eventually to the highest levels of government, and prompted the dis- 
patching to South Vietnam in early February of a CIA "Special CAS Group" 
for an independent evaluation of the railitary situation. A series of 
four reports^, dated 10, 11, l^i- and l8 February 196^-, were produced, each 
transmitted by the Deputy Director, CIA, to the Secretary of Defense, 
Secretary of State, and others as soon as it came out. Instead of finding 
progress, these reported a serious and steadily deteriorating situation. 
Cited were VC gains in the past several months, and particularly noted was 
that VC arms were increasing in quantity and quality. As for the Strategic 
Hamlet Program, they found it "at present at virtual standstill." The 
Special CAS Group's concluding appraisal was pessimistic: "Tide of 
insurgency in all four corps areas appears to be going against GVN. " 58/ 
COMUSMACV (who had no prior knowledge of the Special CAS Group's reports) 
took issue with the Group's findings, contesting less the data used than 
the conclusions, especially the "personal" evaluational opinions as to 
degree of deterioration. He suggested that in the future such reports 
be first coordinated before being dispatched. 59/ 

On 6 March a major Secretary of Defense Conference again convened at 
CINCPAC headquarters for a broad reassessment. The consensus was that the 
military situation was definitely deteriorating. No longer was the issue 
whether it was progressing satisfactorily or not. The question now was 
how much of a setback had there been and what was needed to make up for it. 
An opinion shared by many was that the insurgency could be expected to go 
beyond 1965- This general reorientation of perspective was reflected in 
the Secretary of Defense's observation that attention should be focused on 
the near-term objectives of providing the greater U.S. support that \/ould' 
be necessary, and suspending for the tiirie being consideration of longer- 
range concerns such as 5-year MAP projections. 60/ The visit to Vietnam 
on 8 March corroborated the gravity of the immediate problems at hand. 

Following his return from Vietnam, Mr. McNamara, on I6 March, sub- 
mitted to the President a formal report. In it the Secretary of Defense 
acknowledged, "The situation has unquestionably been growing worse, at 
least since September." RVNAF desertion rates v/ere increas-ing, and the GVN 
military position generally was weakening noticeably. The VC position, on 
the other hand, showed signs of improving. He referred pointedly to the 
increase in North Vietnamese support. The conclusion was that greater 
UoSo support was needed. 

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J In describing what \ras required to improve the situation in South 

Vietnam,, Mr, McNamara identified measures that "will involve a limited 
increase in UcSe personnel and in direct Defense Department costs. More 
significantly they involve significant increases in Military Assistance 
Program costs... c/* plus "additional U.S« economic aid to support the 
increased GW budget." The estimated additional annual MAP costs would 
come to between $30 and $^0 million each year^ plus a one-time additional 
cost of $20 million for military equipment. In the recommendation section 
of the report^ the Secretary listed the following 12 itaus: 

1. To make it clear that we are prepared to furnish assistance 
and support to South Vietnam for as long as it takes to bring 
the insurgency under control. 

2. To make it clear that we fully support the Khanh government 
and are opposed to any further coups. 

3- To support a Program for National Mobilization (including a 
national service law) to put South Vietnani on a war footing. 

h. To assist the Vietnamese to increase the armed forces (regular 
plus paramilitary) by at least 50^000 men. ■ 

5- To assist the Vietnamese to create a greatly enlarged Civil 
Administrative Corps for work at province^ district and hsmlet 
levels . 

6. To assist the Vietnamese to improve and reorganize the para- 
military forces and to increase their compensation. 

7. To assist the Vietnamese to create an offensive guerrilla force. 

8. To provide the Vietnamese Air Force 25 A-IH aircraft in exchange 
for the present T-28s. 

9« To provide the Vietnamese army additional M-113 armored personnel 
carriers (withdrawing the M-ll^s there )^ additional river boats^ 
and approximately .$5--10 million of other additional material. 


10* To announce publicly the Eertilizer Program and to expand it 

with a viev? within tv/o years to trebling the amount of fertilizer 
made available. 


11. To authorize continued high-level U.S. overflights of South 

Vietnam's borders and to authorize "hot pursuit" and South Viet- 
namese ground operations over the Laotian line for the purpose 
of border control. More ambitious operations into Laos involving 
units beyond battalion size should be authorized only with the 
approval of Souvanna Phouma. Operations across the Cambodian 
border should depend on the state of relations with Cambodia. 

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12. To prepare lifmiediately to be in a position on 72 hours' 
notice to initiate the full range of laotian and Cambodian 
"Border Control" actions (beyond those authorized in paragraph 
11 above) and the "Retaliatory Actions" against North Vietnam^ . 
and to be in a position on 30 days' notice to initiate the 
program of "Graduated Overt Military Pressure" against North 

As for the future of the phased-withdravral plans,, the Secretary of 
Defense's report contained the following: 

"The U.S. policy of reducing existing personnel where South 
Vietnamese are in a position to assume the functions is still sound. 
Its application will not lead to any major reductions in the near 
future^ but adherence to this policy as such has a sound effect in 
portraying to the U*S. and the world that we continue to regard 
the war as a conflict the South Vietnamese must win and take ultimate 
responsibility for. Substantial reductions In the numbers of U.S. 
military training personnel should be possible before the end of 
1965. However^ the U.Sc should continue to reiterate that it will 
provide all the assistance and advice required to do the job regard- 
less of how long it takes." 62/ 

By formal decision at the NSC session of IT March; the President 
approved the Secretary of Defense report of 16 March 196^-' and directed all 
agencies to carry out the 12 recommendations contained therein. 62 / A 
White House statement _, reproduced below^ was issued the same day. 

„ ■ . IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 17, 19^ 

Office of the VJhite House Press Secretary 


Secretary McNamara and General Taylor^ following their 
initial oral report of Friday^ today reported fully to President 
Johnson and the manbers of the National Security Council. The 
report covered the situation in South Vietnam^ the measures being 
taken by General Khanh and his government^ and the need for United 
States assistance to supplement and support these measures. There 
■ vras also discussion of the continuing support and direction of the 
Viet Cong insurgency from North Vietnam. 

At the close of the meeting the President accepted the report 
and its principal recommendations^ which had the support of the 
National Seciority Council and Ambassador Lodge. 

Comparing the situation to last October^ when Secretary McNamara 
and General Taylor last reported fully on it; there have unques- 
tionably been setbacks. The Viet Cong have taken maximum advantage 


of two changes of government; and of more long-standing difficulties; 

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including a serious v/eakness and over-extension which had developed 
in the basically somid hamlet program. The supply of arms and 
cadres from the north has continued; careful and sophisticated 
control of Viet Cong operations has been apparent; and evidence 
that such control is centered in Hanoi is clear and unmistakable. 

To meet the situation^ General Khanh and his government are 
acting vigorously and effectively. They have produced a sound 
central plan for the prosecution of the var^ recognizing to a far 
greater degree than before the crucial role of economic and social, 
as well as military _, action to ensure that areas cleared of the 
Viet Cong survive and prosper in freedom. 

To carry out this plan. General Khanh requires the full enlistment 
of the people of South Vietnam, partly to augment the strength of his 
anti-guerrilla forces, but particularly to provide the administrators, 
health workers, teachers and others who must follow up in cleared i 

areas. To meet this need, and to provide a more equitable and 
common basis of service. General lOianh has informed us that he 
proposes in the near future to put into effect a National Mobilization 
Plan that will provide conditions and terms of service in appropriate 
jobs for all able-bodied South Vietnamese between certain ages. 

In addition, steps are required to bring up to required levels 
the pay and status of the paramilitary forces and to create a highly 
trained guerrilla force that can beat the Viet Cong on its own ground. 
Finally, limited but significant additional equipment is proposed 
for the air forces, the river navy, and the mobile forces. 

In short, where the South Vietnamese Government now has the 
power to clear any part of its territory. General Khanh 's new 
program is designed to clear and to hold, step by step and province 
by province. 

This program will involve substantial increases in cost to the 
South Vietnamese economy, which in turn depends heavily on United 
States economic aid. Additional, though less substantial, military 
assistance funds are also needed, and increased United States 
training activity both on the civil and military side. The policy 
should continue of withdrawing United States personnel where their . 
roles can be assumed by South Vietnamese and of sending additional 
men if they are needed. It will remain the policy of the United 
States to furnish assistance and support to South Vietnam for as 
long as it is required to bring Communist aggression and terrorism 
under control. 

Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their overall 
conclusion that with continued vigorous leadership from General 
Khanh and his government, and the carrying out of these steps, the 
situation can be significantly mproved in the coming months. 

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Before the month of March VT^as over the CPSVN^ as veil as the MAP 
planning that had been such an integral part of it^ finally received the 
coup de grace. Sacrificed to the UoS. desire "to make it clear that ve 
fully support" the GYNy they were formally terminated^ for the record^ on 
27 March in the OSD message reproduced helov: 

FROM: OSD WASH DC DEF 963028 Date: 2J March 196*4 

(Colo ¥• J. Yates) 
KEFS: a. CBICPAC IIO626Z Mar 6^ 

b. DEF 959615 DTG 132352Z Mar &^ 

1. As indicated in ref. b.^ ceiling for Vietnam FY 66 MAP is 
$143.0 million against $l43.1 million for FY 65. Requirements 
above these program levels should be identified as separate packages. 

2. Submission of five-year programs FY 66-70 for Vietnam is 
suspended until further notice. Your best estrlmates of FY 66 
requirements are necessary inasmuch line detail as feasible by 

, 1 Jul 6h in order that (a) the Military Departments can review 
for pricing^ lead time^ availabilities^ and prepare for procure- 
ment action and (b) requirements can be processed within DoD^ 
State/AID and BoB for budget/Congressional Presentation purposes. 

3. Previous guidance re Model Plan projection for phasedown of 
U.S. forces and GVN forces is superseded. Policy is as announced 
by Ttolte House 17 Mar 6^1-: Quote The policy should continue of 
withdrav^ing U.S. personnel where their roles can be assimied by 
South Vietnamese and of sending additional men if they are needed. 
It will remain the policy of the U.S. to furnish assistance and 
support of South Vietnam for as long as is required to bring 
Communist aggression and terrorism under control. Unquote. 

k. No further action required or being taken here relative to 
accelerated model plan. 

Thus ended dejure the policy of phase out and withdrawal and all the 
plans and programs oriented to it. Shortly^ they would be cancelled out 
de facto. 


Soon the whole evolutionar;^'- direction of the U.S. military commit- 
ment began to change. Rather than diminishing_j the magnitude rose there- 
after. In early May the approved U.S. military strength ceiling for South 
Vietnam was raised by more than I5OO so that total in-country authorization 
CEUiie to over 17^000. Fiu'-ther increases were in sight. 63/ As the mili- 
tary situation in Vietnam failed to show signs of amerliorating, pressures 

^ I 

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37 ■ — 





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began to develop in late spring for an even more significant increase in 
UcS. forces 

o • 

■ ' A special meeting on Southeast Asia was called at PACOM Headquarters 

in Honolulu for 1-2 Jime because of the unsatisfactory progress in execu- 
tion of the National Pacification Plan. There^ COMUSf^iACV proposed extending 
and intensifying the U.S. advisory effort in order to improve the operational 
effectiveness of the VKAP performance generally. The idea was discussed 
and supported in principle^ and a staff v/orking paper outlining the concept 
was prepared by the conferees. Kear the end of June^ COMUSMACV submitted 
to JCS (info CIKCPAC^ DOD^ State^ I'/hite House) his formal proposal recom- 
mending enlargement of the advisory assistance program. He reiterated^ and 
offered further justification for^ the need to augment the current advisory 
detachments at the battalion level and to extend the advisory effort at both 
the district and sector levels- His detailed breakout of priinary personnel 
requirements came to a total of 9OO more advisors, as the net in-country 
increase; but conceded that additional administrative and logistic support 
■ requirements would be substantial and would be submitted separately. Also_, 
approximately 80 additional U.S. Navy advisors would be requested^ in con- 
nection v;-ith recommendations made earlier in the "Bucklew Report" for a 
Junk Force and other measures to counter infiltration by sea. COTCPAC 
indicated concurrence and recommended approval of the proposal on h July. 6k/ 

In the middle of JuJ.y^ the new U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam^ General 
Max^.rell Taylor, sent an evaluation of the military situation to the Secre- 
tary of State, Secretary of Defense, and JCS that lent strong support to 
COMUSMACV *s proposal. The Ambassador advised that formal estimates of 
regular VC strength in South Vietnam had been revised and now were raised 
to between 28,000 and 3U,000. He explained that this did not reflect a 
sudden dramatic increase, but had been suspected for the past tvro or three 
years, though confirmatory evidence had become available only in the last 
few m.onths. There was thus no occasion for alarm, but the new estimate 
emphasized the growing magnitude of the problem and the need to increase 
the level of U.S. /gVN efforts. Therefore, additional requirements were 
being formulated, including U.Sc military personnel requirements, to support 
U.S. plans during the ensuing months to cope with the new understanding of 
the realities of the situation. He forecast an increase in U.S. military 
strength to around 21,000 over the next six-month period to meet projected 
needs. 65/ 

Jjumediately the size of the estimated force requirements connected 
with the proposed expansion of the advisory effort began to cliiab. On 
16 July COMUSMCV submitted the support requirements associated with the 
I • program. For the next year he v.'ould need, over and above the original 

! ' 900 additional advisors requested, more than 3200 other personnel, for a 

total gross military strength increase of about ^200. 66 / The Ambassador 
in Saigon concurred in COIvruS^IACV^s proposed increase in U.S. military 
strength by 4200 over the next nine months, bringing the total in-country 
^ ' . to nearly 22,000, and he urged prompt action. The Secretary of State also 

recor.iinended approval, as did CINCPAC and JCS, and on 20 July, at the JCS- 
SecDef meeting, overall support was given to the COMUSMACV requested 

38 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


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deployment package. The following day^ at the NSC meeting of 21 July^ 
the President gave it final approval^ though that action was not included 
[ in the NSAM issued the next day. Gj/ 

As eventually refined^ the total force increment actually came to 
over ii900 UcS, personnel. In addition^ other requirements not directly 
related to the advisory effort itself were being generated and met inde- 
pendently. By the close of 196^1 the year-end U.S. in-country strength 
figure had clitnbed to approximately 23^000 personnel and further authorized 
deployments were under way or in preparation. 

The actual effect of "phased withdrawals" was minimal- Though l/OOO 
spaces among the personnel authorized FiACV vrere eliminated in 19^3; add-ons 
overtook cut-backs. As an example^ U.S. Aimy strength in Vietnam--the bulk 
of the advisory effort — was allocated as follows: 


Total Army Hq & Spt Aviation Conimunica- Special Other 
Strength Units Units tion Units Forces Advisers 

Nov 63 10,000 17 , 35 15 6 -^ 2T 

^-, Mar &^ 10,000 19 3!^ 13 T 27 

Nov 6^4 l4,000 28 30 12 8 22 


The official termination of formal planning towards withdrawal by 
no means ended its attraction as one issue in the growing public debate 
over Vietnam policy. In August, 196^1, the Tonkin Gulf crisis brought 
Congressmen back in peo-plexity to Secretary McNamara's statements on with- 
drawals, and elicited the following exchange: 

"..-Secretary McNamara, you/ ^ave again always indicated that 
you hoped that by the end of this year there would have been a sub- 
stantial reduction. .. .V/here we had a planned reduction of the 
number of troops, and what appeared to be a withdrawal of the United 
States from the area, then this attack comes, which would put us 
firmly in t?ie area, or at least change our mind. The whole thing, . 
to me, is completely, at least, not understanding. 

SECRETARY McNAI^iARA: "The 'period, December I961, through the 
sumraer of I963 was a period of great progress within South Vietnam, 
in countering the effort of the Viet Cong to overthrow that govern- 
ment. However, starting in May, 1963; you will recall, a series 
of religious riots developed, controversy 'within the country devel- 
oped, leading eventually upon November 2nd to the overthrow of the ■ 
Diem government. Prior to that time in September, 1963; General 


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Taylor and I had advised and visited that country. At that time^ 
the progress of the comiter insurgency effort was so great it 
appeared that we would be able to vithdrav/- much of our training 
force by the end of 3-965; and not V^Q-\-^ and v/e would — we so stated 
upon our return. But following that -- and I should also mention 
that in that same statement^ we made in September^ 19^3^ "we pointed 
out the very serious nature of the political difficulties that were 
building up in South Vietnam_, because of the conflict betv/een the 
Buddhists and the Catholics^ and the government. 

"In any events as I say_, in November^ 19^3^ "the government was 
overthrown. There was another change of government January 30th^ 
and this completely changed the outlook and the political instability 
that followed the two coups has given the Viet Cong an opportunity 
to take advantage of the political and military weakness. They have 
taken advantage of it. It is now necessary to add further U.S. mil- 
itary assistance to counter that Viet Cong offensive 

* a . • 


"We have never made the statement since September^ 19^3^ that we 
believed we could bring the bulk of the training forces out by the 
end of 19^5; because the actions in November and January made it 
- ■ quite clear that would not be possible. 

"We have said -- as a matter of fact^ I say today — as our 
training missions are completed^ vre will bring back the training 
forces. I think this is only good sense^ and good judgment. V/e 
have certain training missions that I hope we can complete this 
year^ and others next year^ and the forces associated with those 
missions should be brought back. 

"We have forces there training the Vietnamese to fly spotter 
aircraft^ for artillery spotting purposes. I am very hopeful 
that we can bring the U.S. forces out as the Vietnamese acquire 
that capability. 

"On the other hand^ the Vietnamese quite clearly need addi- 
tional assistance in training for counter guerrilla operations^, 
because of the increased guerrilla activities of the Viet Cong; 
and v^e are sending additional special forces to Vietnam for that 

"There will be a flow in both directions^ but I am certain in 
the next several months the net flow will be strongly toward South 
Vietnam." ^/ 

After Tonkin Gulf^ the policy objective of gradual disengagement 
from Vietnam was no longer relevant. The hope^ as well as the concept 
of phase out and withdrawal^ dwindled; since such withdrawal was now seen 
as tantamount to surrendering SVN to Hanoi- The issue for the future 
would no longer be withdrcawalS; but what additional U.S. forces would be 
required to stem the tide — and h'ow fast they would have to be thrown into 

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I I 

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1. Secretary of Defense McNamara^ testimony "before the U.S. Congress^ 
House Comraittee on Appropriations^ March l6^ I962. 

2. CINCPAC Ltr 3010 Ser 000223 to SecDef 26 July 19^2^ "Record of the 
/^sixth/ Secretary of Defense Conference held 23 July I962 at Head- 
quarters, Commander in Chief Pacific (u)/' End. "Summary Record 
of Conference" (s). 

3. Msg JCS 5^55 to CINCPAC 262318Z July I962, SECRET. 
h.' Msg CINCPAC to CaviuSCMCV 1^0423Z August I962, SECRET. 

5. Hq USMACV "Summary of Highlights 8 Feb I962-7 Feb I963/' 20 March 
1963, TOP SECRET; SACSA, OJCS, "An Overview of the Vietnam War (I96O- 
63)/' 16 January I9&I-, SECRET. 

6. Ibid . 

7. Ibid . 

8. Ltr COMUSMACV MACJ5 to CMCPAC 3010 Ser 0021 "Comprehensive Plan for 
. South Vietnam/' I9 January I963, SECRET. 

9. Msg OSD (ISA) DEF 923923 to CINCPAC 2222l^3Z January 1963, SECRET. 
10- Ltr CINCPAC 3010 to JCS Ser 0079, 25 January 19^3; SECRET. 

11. CPSVN, end to CINCPAC Ltr 3OIO to JCS Ser 0079. 25 January I963, 

12. Ibid. 

13. Memo JCSM- 180-63 for SecDef 7 March I963, SECRET- 

iJ^. Memo for Record, MA Planning Div, OASD (ISA), 25 May I963, SECRET. 

15. Memo CM-439-63 for SecDef, 26 March I963, CONFIDENTIAL; Memo, SecDef 
for CJCS, 26 March I963, SECRET. 

'' ■ 16. USMACV "Summary of Highlights 8 Feb 1962-7 Feb I963/' 20 March I963, 


'' 17. NIE 53-63; 12 April I963, SECRET. 

18. CINCPAC Ltr Ser 000223 to SecDef "Summary Report on Secretary of 
,1 Defense Conference, Honolulu, 6 May I963 (u)," 7 May 1963^ TOP SECRET. 

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19. Two memos SecDef for AsstSecDef (ISA), both 8 May 1963; "both SECRET. 

20. Msg JCS 9820 to CU^ICPAC O91805Z May I963, SECRET. 

21. CIKCPAC Ltr 3010 Ser OOUT-63 to JCS, 11 May 1963; SECRET. 

22. AsstSecDef (ISA) Memo for SecDef I-23l+6o/63, 17 May I963 (with hand- 
written marginal notations by SecDef on original copy), SECRET. 

23. Msg DEE 928638 from OASD (ISA) to CIWCPAC 291T52Z May I963, SECRET. 
2ij-. Memo JCSM-&I-O-63 for SecDef, 27 August 1963; SECRET. 

. 25. Memo AsstSecDef (ISA) for SecDef, I-23369/63, 5 September I963, SECRET. 

26. Memo SecDef for CJCS, 6 September 1963, SECREC. 

27. OASD(lSA)OnMA I~2lt609/63, MAP Vietnam, "Military Manpower," 16 September 
1963, and "Financial Summary," 27 September 1963; both SECRET. 

28. Memo JCSM-629-63 for SecDef, 20 August 1963; SECRET. 

29. Memo AsstSecDef (ISA) for SecDef, I-2600^t/63; 30 August 1963; SECRET. 
' 30. Memo SecDef for CJCS, 3 September 1963; SECRET. 

31. Memo CJCS for SecDef, 11 September I963, SECRET. 

32. Air gram A-78I, State to AmErabassy Saigon et al, 10 JuJie 1963; 

33. State Dept Memo of Conversation, Under SecState, U.S. Arabassador to 
Vietnam, et al, 5 July I963, SECRET; State Dept Memo for Record, 
"Briefing for the President, " k July 1963; TOP SECRET EYES ONLY. 

^k. BIk Intelligence Summary Supplement (RVU), 17 July 1963; SECRET. 

35. DIA Intelligence Bulletin, k August I963, SECRET. 

36. Informal memo SACSA for Secretary of Defense, 1^ August I963, SECRET. 

37. Director, DIA, memo for Secretary of Defense, 5-lQ9-^Q/^~3, 21 August 
1963, SECRET. 

38. SACSA, "Remarks at a Meeting on Vietnam with Vice President Johnson, 
Secretary Rusk, et al, at the Department of State, 31 August 1963;, 
Summarized by General Krulak." 

^-^ ' 39. Memo President for the Secretary of Defense, 21 September I963, trans- 

' mitted as attaclriment to White House memo McGeorge Bundy for Secretary 

of Defense, 21 September 1963^ TOP-SECRET. 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 
.2 ' ^ 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 




TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

kO. Joint Memo, SecDef-CJCS for President, 'keport of McWamara -Taylor 
Mission to South Vietnam/' 2 October I963 (TOP SECRET). 

kl. Department of State Bulletin, October 21, 19^3; P- 623. 

k2. KSAM 263, 11 October 1963^ TOP SECRET EYES ONLY. 

k3. This explanation^ retrospectively developed by General Maxv/ell Taylor 
during an interview on I8 January 19®^ vas one of the primary 
reasons operative at the time, 

kh. State 53^ to Saigon of 5 October I963. 

45. Dept of State Jim Research Memo^ REE-9O; 22 October 1963- 

kS. Memo SecState for SecDef^ 8 November 1963^ SECRET. 

1 kj. CINCPAC Ltr 3OIO Ser 001218 to SecDef "Record of the Special Meeting 

* on the Republic of Vietnam^ held 20 November I963 at Headquarters 

CINCPAC.../' 22 November I963; SECRET. 

k8. NSA!4 273^ 26 November 1963^, TOP SECRJiT. 

49. Memo SecDef for President^ 23 November 19^3; SECRET. 

< 50. Dir FERISA Memo for Asst SecDef (ISA), "Review of the South Vietnam 

Situation^ " 3 December I963. 

51. Tab iJi "Accelerated Model Plan (CPSVN);" Back Up Book Saigon Trip 
18-20 December I963; prepared by OSD for SecDef. TOP SECRET SENSTTIVE 

52. NOTE: U.S. in- country strength figures for Vietnam vary widely 
depending on source. Discrepancies are accounted for by different 
standards for computing total according to administrative criteria^ 
such as distinctions in personnel assignment category, e.g., Joint 
Table of Distribution (JTD), Permanent Change of Station (PCS), 
Temporary Duty (TDY), replacement and rotational pipelines, etc. 

53. CM- 1079-63 for SecDef, 11 December I963, SECRET: Msg JCS 39^^ to 
CINCPAC 112lii8Z December I963. 

5^^. Memo SecDef for the President, 21 December 19^3^ SECRET. 

55. SACSA "An Overview of the Vietnam War (196O-63)/' no date (OSD 
handwritten entry on coversheet giving file date as I6 January 196^t} 
SECRET. Provided to SecDef for use in his December trip to SVN) . 

56. Dir DIA Memo for SecDef " S-'l8982/p-3, 13 December I963 SECRET. 

57. Memorandixm'for the President from Secretary McNamara, dated^7 January 
^ ' 196^-, subject: "Comment on Memoranda by Senator Mansfield. 


1 o T OP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

58. DepDlr CIA Memos for SecState^ SecDef, et al^ 10, U; 1^, l8 February 

■ 1964, SECRET. 

59. Msgs JCS 73^! CJCS to COl^IUSMCV, l8 February 1964 (s); COMUSMACV MAG 
610 to CJCS, 19 February 1964 (TS); COMUSMACV MAC 665 to CJCS, 

■ 21 February 1964 (TS). 

&:>. Msg CINCPAC to ASD (ISA) 110626/z March 196^4, TOP SECRET. 

61. Memo SecDef for the President, 16 March 1964. 

62. WSAM 288, 17 March 1964, SECRET. 

63. Msg CINCPAC to COMUSMACV 062l45Z May 1964, SECRET. 

64. Working Paper, Special Meeting on Southeast Asia, Hq.. PACOM, 1-2 Jime 
1964, Extension of U.S. Advisory Assistance in RW, 2 June 19 6-1 ; SECRETi 
Msg CO.^IUSMACV MlACJ 32538O to JCS, info DOD, State (Sullivan), White 
House (Forrestal), CMCPAC, DA, 25OOO5Z June 1964, SECRET, Msg COMUSIvLACV 
MACJ 325580 to CINCPAC info JCS 272357Z June 196*+, SECRET; Msg CDICPAC 
to JCS 04232OZ July I96J4, SECRET. 

65. Msg AmEmbassy Saigon IO8 to SecState (Taylor to Rusk and McNamara) 
info JCS and CINCPAC I509OOZ July I965, SECRET. 

(iG. Msg COI^SMACV to CINCPAC MACJ- 31 618O l6l045Z July 19^4, SECRET. 

67. Msg AmEmbassy Saigon to SecState info l^/hite House, DOD, JCS, CINCPAC 
I712IOZ July 1964, SECRET; Msg CINCPAC to JCS 2OOO36Z July 1964, 
SECREL'; Msg SecState 205 to AmEmbassy Saigon 21 July 19^4, TOP SECRET; 
Msg JCS 7492 to CnCPAC 2II917Z July 1l3G\, SECRET. 

68. Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for 
Operations, Periodic Report, Subject: Southeast Asia Military Forces 
(CFP-ODCSOPS-7), various dates. 

, G). Secretary of Defense McNamara, Testimony Before the House Committee 
on Foreign Affairs on the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, August 6, 1964 
(Executive Session). 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive