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

IV.C Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Direct Action: The Johnson Commitments, 1964-1968 

(16 Vols.) 

2. Military Pressures Against NVN (3 Vols.) 

c. November - December 1964 

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

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IV, C. 2. (c) 


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In the late fall of 1964, President Johnson made a tentative decision 
in favor of limited military pressures against North Vietnam. He acted on 
the consensus recommendation of his principal advisors^ a consensus achieved 
by a process of compromising alternatives into a lovrest- common- denominator 
proposal at the sub-cabinet and cabinet level, thereby precluding any real 
Presidential choice among viable options. The choices he was given all 
included greater pressures against North Vietnam. The Presidential decision 
itself was for a limited and tightly controlled two-step build-up of pressures 
The first phase involved an intensification of existing harassment activities 
with reprisals; the second, which was approved in principle only, w^as to be 
a sustained, slowly escalating air campaign against the North. The spectrum 
of choice could have run from (a) a judgment that the situation in the South 
was irretrievable and, hence, a decision to begin the withdrawal of U.S. 
forces; to (b) a judgment that the maintenance of a non-comjnunist South 
Vietnajn was indispensable to U.S. strategic interests and, therefore, required 
a massive U.S. intensification of the v/ar both in the North and in the South. 
The extreme withdrawal option was rejected alm.ost vrithout surfacing for 
consideration since it was in direct conflict with the independent, non- 
communist SVN commitments of NSAI^ 288. The opposite option of massive involve- 
laent, which was essentially the JCS recommendation at an early point in these 

deliberations, was shunted aside because both its risks and costs were too 

Short of those extremes, hovrever, were two other alternatives that 
were briefly considered by the VJorking Group as fallback positions but 
rejected before they were fully explored. While both came into som_e con- 
flict with the commitments to South Vietnam of NSAl/I 288, they could have 
been justified as flowing from another long-standing U.S. conviction, 
namely that ultimately the war would have to be won in the South by the 
South Vietnamese. These fallback positions were outlined in the following 
manner : 

"1. To hold the situation together as long as possible so that 
.we have time to strengthen other areas of Asia. 

2. To take forceful enough measures in the situation so that 
we' emerge from it, even in the worst case, with our 
standing as the principal helper against Communist expan- • 
sion as little impaired as possible. 

*3- To make clear... to nations, in Asia particularly, that 

failure in South Vietnam, if it comes, v^as due to special 
local factors that do not apply to other nations we are 
coirjnitted to defend " ■ ' 

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In operational terms the first would have meant holding the line--placlng 
an immediate, low ceiling on the number of U.S* personnel in SVN^ and 
taking vigorous efforts to build on a stron-ger base elsewhere, possibly 
Thailand. The second alternative would have b^en to undertake some spec- 
tacular, highly visible supporting action like a limited-duration selective 
bombing campaign as a last effort to save the South; to have accompanied 
it vrith a propaganda campaign about the unwinnability of the V7ar given the 
GVrT*s ineptness and; then, to have sought negotiations through compromise 
and neutralization v;hen the failed. Neither of these options v/as 
ever developed. 

The recommendation of the Principals to the President left a gap 
between the maximum objective of ^QAIA 288 and the marginal pressures against 
the North being proposed to achieve that objective. There are two by no 
means contradictory explanations of this gap. 

One explana^tion is the vray in which pressures and the controlled use 
of force V7ere viev/ed by the Principals. There is some reason to believe that 
the Principals thought that carefully calculated doses of force could bring 
about predictable and desirable responses from Hanoi. The threat mplicit 
in minimum but increasing amounts of force ("slow sc].ueeze") would, it was 
hoped by scm_e, ultimately bring Hanoi to the table on terms favorable to the 
U.S. Underlying this optimistic view V7as a significant underestimate of 
^^^ the level of the DRV commitment to victory in the South, and an overestimate 

of the effectiveness of U,S. pressures in v/eakening that resolve- The 
assumption vms that the threat value of limited pressures coupled with 
declarations of firm resolve on our part would be sufficient to force the 
DRV into major concessions. Therefore, the U.S. negotiating posture could * 
be a tough one. Another factor V7hich, no doubt, commended the proposal to 
the Administration was the relatively low-cost--in political terms — of such 
action. Furthermore, these limited measures would give the GVN a temporary 
breathing spell, it was thought, in which to regroup itself, both politically 
and milita^rily should stronger action involving a direct confrontation between 
the two Vietnams be req.uired at some future date. And lastly, it was the 
widely shared belief that the recommendation was a moderate solution that 
did. not foreclose future options for the President if the measures did not 
fully achieve their intended results. The JCS differed from this view on 
the grounds that if we were really interested in affecting Hanoi's will, 
we would have to hit hard at its capabilities. 

A second explanation of the ga.p between ends and means is a more simple 
one. In a phrase, we had run out of alternatives other than pressures. 
Tlie^GVN was not reforming, ARW was being hit hard, further U.S. aid and 
advice did not seem to do the trick, and som-ething was needed to keep the 
GVN afloat until vie were recLdir to decide on further actions at a later 
date. Bombing the Forth would fit that bill, and m.ake it look like we tried. 

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The President was cautious and eauivocal in approaching the decision. 
Indicative of his reluctance to widen the U.S. commitment and of his desire 
to hedge his bets was the decision to make phase II of the new policy 
contingent on GVT"^ reform and improvement. Ambassador Taylor was sent back 
to Saigon in December after the White House meetings with the understanding 
that the U.S. Government did not believe: 

that we should incur the risks which are inherent in any 
expansion of hostilities without first assuring that there is 
a government in Saigon capable of handling the serious problems 
involved in such an expansion and of exploiting the favorable 
effects which may be anticipated " 

As with the discussions of the preceding six months ^ the decisions at 
the end of 196^ m.arked another step in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, 
The following is a summary of the Novem.ber - December^ 1964 and January^ 
1965 deliberations. 

On the eve of the Novem-ber election, and after the decision not to 
retaliate against the North for the VC e^ttack on the Bien Hoa airbase on 
November 1, the President appointed an inter-agency working group and asked 
it to conduct a thorough re-examination of our Vietnara policy and to present 
him with alternatives and recommendations as to our future course of action. 
That such a review should have been undertaken so soon after the policy 
deliberations and decisions of Septem.ber is at first glance surprising. 
The President 5 however , was now being elected in his ovm right with an 
overwhelming mandate and all the sense of opportimity and freedom to recon- 
sider past policy and current trends that such a victory invariably brings. 
In retrospect, there appears to have been, in fact, remarkably little lati- 
tude for reopening the basic questions about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam 
struggle. NSAM 288 did not seem open to question. In Vietnam, our now sub- 
stantial efforts and our public affirmation of resolve to see the v;-ar through 
to success had failed to reverse either the adverse trend of the war or the 
continuing deterioration of South Vietnamese political life. The September 
deliberations had produced only a decision against precipitate action and 
had done nothing to redress the situation. Significantly, however, they had 
revealed the existence of an Administration consensus that military pressures 
against the North would be required at some proximate future date for a 
variety of reasons. Now, in November, with a new electoral mandate and the 
abundant evidence of the inadequacy of current measures, the President was 
once again looking for new ideas and proposals--a low-cost option with 
prospects for speedy, positive results. 

The Working Group's first job had been to exaraine U.S. interests and 
objectives in South Vietnam. This subject stirred some of the most heated 
debate of the entire Working Group project. At the outset, the maximum 
statement of U.S. interests and objectives in South Vietnam was accompanied 
by two fallback positions--the first a compromise, the second m.erely rational- 
izations for vrithdrawal. The JOS representative took testy exception to 

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including the fallback positions in the Group's paper and cited JCS 
Memoranda on the critical importance of South Vietnam to the U.S. position 
in Asia, His forceful objections were effective and they were downgraded 
in the final paper which, vrhile also pointedly rejecting the "domino theory" 
as over-simplified 5 nevertheless , went on to describe the effect of the 
fall of South Vietnam in much the same terms. Specifically pointing up 
the danger to the other Southeast Asian countries and to Asia in general, 
the paper concluded: 

"There is a great deal we could still do to reassure these 
countries, but the picture of a defense line clearly breached 
could have serious effects and could easily, over time, tend to 
vinravel the whole Pacific and South Asian defense structures." 

In spite of these concessions, the JCS refused to associate itself with 

the final formulation of interests and objectives, holding that the domino . 

theory vras perfectly appropriate to the South Vietnamese situation. 

One of the other important tasks assigned to the VJorking Group was the 
intelligence assessment of the. effectiveness of measures against the Forth 
in improving the situation in the South. The initial appraisal of the 
intelligence community was that "the basic elements of Communist strength 
in South Vietnam remain indigenous," and that "even if severely damaged" 
the DRV could continue to support a reduced level of VC activity. While 
bombing might reduce somewhat the level of support for the VG and give the 
GVN a respite, there was very little likelihood that it would break the will 
of Hanoi. The estim^ate was that Hanoi was confident of greater staying 
power than the U.S. in a contest of attrition. These views were challenged 
by the JCS m.ember who stressed that the military damage 'of air strikes would 
appreciably degrade DRV and VC capabilities. In deference to this view, the 
final Working Group estim-ate gave greater emphasis to the m.ilitary effective- 
ness of strikes, although it was pessimistic about the extent of damage the 
DRV leaders would be vdlling to incur before reconsidering their objectives. 
It concluded with the assessment that there was very little likelihood of 
either Chinese or Soviet intervention on behalf of the DRV if pressures 
were adopted by the U.S. 

As the Working Group toiled through Novem.ber in its effort to develop 
options, it focused on three alternative courses of action. Option A was 
essentially a continuation of military and naval actions currently under^^^ay 
or authorized in the September decisions, including prompt reprisals against 
the North for attacks on U.S. forces and VC "spectaculars". It also 
included a resistance to negotiations lontil the Horth had agreed in advance 
to our conditionr:. Option B augmented c^irrent policies with systematic, 
sustained military pressures against the Worth and a resistance to negoti- 
ations unless v^e could carry them on while continuing the bombing. Option C 
proposed only a m-odest campaign against the Worth as compared with option B 

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and was designed to bring the DRV to the negotiating table. If that 
occurred the pressures were to be suspended- -although with the threat of 
resumption should negotiations break down. 

In the course of the month, these "options converged and the distinctions 
between them blurred. In particular ^ option A was expanded to include some 
low-level pressures against the North; the negotiations element of option B 
was^ in effect, dropped and the pressures were to be applied at a faster, 
less flexible pace; and option C was stiffened to resemble the first incar- 
nation of option B--the pressures woxild be stronger and the negotiating 
position tougher. Thus, by the end of the m.onth when the Working Group's 
proposals were presented to the NSC Principals for consideration before 
a recommendation was made to the President, all options included pressures 
against the North, and, in effect, excluded negotiations in the short-run, 
since the terms and pre-conditions proposed in all three options were 
entirely unrealistic. The policy climate in Washington simply was not 
receptive to any suggestion that U.S. goals might have to be compromised. 
And, in proposing pressures against the North, the Working Croup was conscious 
of the danger that they might generate compelling v/orld-wide pressure on the 
U.S. ^ for negotiations. How large a role the specific perception of the 
President's views, validated or unvalidated, may have played in the Working 
Group's narrowing of the options is not clear. It seems likely, however, 
that some guidance from the VJhite House was being received. 

During the last week in November, the NSC Principals met to consider 
the Working Group's proposals. They v^ere joined on November 27 by Ambassador 
Taylor. Taylor's report on conditions in South Vietnam was extremely bleak. 
To improve South Vietnamese morale and confidence, and to "drive the DRV out 
of its reinforcing role and obtain its cooperation in bringing an end to the 
Viet Cong insurgency," he urged that military pressures against the North 
be adopted. His report had a considerable impact on the Principals and 
later on the President. As the discussions continued through the several 
meetings of that week, opinion began to converge in favor of some combina- 
tion of an "extended option A" and the first measures against the North of 
option C. 

^In the end, the Principals decided on a two-phase recommendation to the 
President. Phase I would be merely an extension of current actions with 
some increased air activity by the U.S. in Laos and tit-for-tat reprisals 
for VC attacks on U.S. forces or other major incidents. During this period, 
the GVN would be informed of our desires for its reform and when these 
were \jell under\my, phase II, a campaign of gradually escalating air strikes 
against the North, would begin. This proposal was presented to the Presi- 
dent on December 1. He approved phase I and gave assent, at least in prin- 
ciple, to phase II. In approving these measures, the President appears to 
have been reluctant to grant final authorisation for phase II until he felt 
it was absolutely necessary. 

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If a consensus vms reached within the Administration in favor of mili- 
tary pressures against the Ncrth^ it certainly reflected no cornraonly held 
rationale for such action. Generally speaking the military (MA.CV, CIKCPAC, 
• JCS) favored a strong campaign against the North to interdict the infiltra- 
tion routes 5 to destroy the overall capacity of the North to support the 
insurgency^ and to destroy the DRV^s will to continue support of the Viet 
Cong. The State Department (with the exception of George Ball) and the 
f civilian advisors to Secretary McHamara favored a gradually mounting series 

of pressures that would place the North in a slo\j squeeze and act as both 
carrot and stick to settling the war on our terms. As would be expected^ 
State was also concerned vrith the international political implications of 
such steps. Bombing the North would demonstrate our resolve, not only to 
the South Vietne^mese but also to the other Southeast Asian countries and 
to- China, whose containment was one of the imiportant justifications of the 
entire American involvement. Walt Rostow, the Chairman of State's Policy 
Plan_ning Co^oncil^j took a slightly different view, .emphasizing the importance 
of pressures as a clear signal to the North and to China of U.S. determina- 
tion and resolve and its v/illingness to engage the tremendous power at its 
disposal in support of the 195^ and 1962 Geneva agreements. Ambassador 
Taylor supported strikes against the North as a means of reducing infil- 
tration and as a way of bolstering South Vietnamese morale. 

As is readily apparent, there was no dearth of reasons for striking 
North. Indeed, one almost has the impression that there were more reasons 
than were required. But in the end, the decision to go ahead with the 
strikes seem.s to have resulted as much from the lack of alternative pro- 
posals as from any compelling logic advanced in their favor. By January, 
for example, William Bundy, while still supporting the pressures, could 
only offer the following in their favor: 

"on balance we believe that such action would have some faint 
hope of really improving the Vietnamese situation, and, above all, 
would put us in a much stronger position to hold the next line of 
defense, nam.ely Thailand." _ /And it would put us in a better posi- 
tion in our Asian relations/ "since we vrould have appeared to Asiajis 
to have done a lot more about it." 

It is interesting to note that during the deliberations of September 
one of the preconditions to such strikes had been generally acknowledged 
as a unity of domestic American opinion in support of such Presidentially 
authorized action. During the November debates, this is no longer an 
important factor. Indeed, it is openly conceded that such action is likely 
to evoke opposition in both domestic and international public opinion. 
Another interesting aspect of this policy debate v;as that the q,uestion of 
Constitutional authority for open acts of war against a sovereign nation 
was never seriously raised. 

Phase I of the newly approved r-rogram went into effect in mid-December, 
The BARREL ROLL "armed recce" by U.S. aircraft in the Laotian panhandle 
began on a limited scale on December 1^. It had been foreseen that the 

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nuinber of sorties would slov^ly increase vath each succeeding week. How- 
ever^ once the first week's level of two missions of four aircraft each 
vras determined by Secretary McNamara^ it became the guideline for the 
remainder of .December and January. Covert GW operations along the North 
Vietnaraese coast \reve continued at about the level of the previous months 
and JCS proposals for direct U.S. air and naval support were rejected. 
Furthermore, the public disclosure of information on DRV infiltration into 
the South was deferred at the request of Secretary McFamara. On December 2k:, 
the Viet Cong bom^bed a U.S. officers billet in Saigon killing two Americans. 
MACV, CINCPAC5 the JCS, and Ambassador Taylor all called immediately for a 
reprisal strike against the North of the kind authorized under phase I. 
For reasons still not clear, the Administration decided against such a 
reprisal. Thus, in purely military terms, the phase I period turned out 
to be little more than a continuation of measures already underv.^ay. (The 
BARREL ROLL activity apparently was not differentiated by the DRV from 
RL/VF strikes until well into January.) 

One of the explanations for this failure to fully implement the 
December 1 decisions was the political crisis that erupted in South Vietnam. 
Ambassador Taylor had returned to South Vietnam on December 7 and iirimedi- 
ately set about getting the GVN to undertake the reforms we desired, ?naking 
cleax to both the civilian and military leaders that the implementation of 
phase II was contingent on their efforts to revive the flagging war effort 
and morale in the South. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a military 
purge of the civilian governjnent in late December and rumored threats that 
he would be' declared personna non p;rata . The political crisis boiled on 
into January with no apparent solution in sight in spite of our heavy 
pressure on the military to return to a civilian regime. And, while Ta-ylor 
struggled with the South Vietnamese generals, the war effort continued to 

At the same time that Taylor had been dispatched to Saigon a vigorous 
U.S. diplomatic effort had been undertaken with our Asian and MTO allies 
to inform them of the forthcoming U.S. intensification of the war, with 
the expected eventual strikes against the North. The fact that our allies 
now came to expect this action may have been a contributing reason in the 
February decision to proceed with phase II in spite of the failure of the 
South Vietnamese to have complied with ou-r req.uirem_ents. In any case, it 
added to the already considerable momentum behind the policy of striking the 
North. By the end of January I965, William Bundy, McNaughton, Taylor and 
others had come to believe that we had to proceed with phase II irrespective 
of what the South Vietnam.ese did. 

Clear indication that the Administration was considering some kind of 
escale.tion came on January 25. Ambassador Taylor was asked to comjnent on 
a proposal to withdraw U.S. dependents from Saigon so as to "clear the 
decks." Previously, this action, which v/as now approved by the JCS, was 
always associated with pressures against the North, Vftiile there is no 
indication of any decision at this point to move into phase 11, it is clear 
that the preparations were already underv^ay. 

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16 Oct 6h 

21 Oct 6k 


27 Oct 6k 


1 Nov 6k 

3 Nov 63 




Embassy Saigon 
Message^ JPS 303^ 
Taylor to the 

JCSM 893 -6^^ 

JCSM 902-6U 

Viet Cong Attack 
Bien Hoa Airbase 

¥bite House Decides 
Not to Retaliate 

Civilian Nacned 


First Meeting of 
NSC Working Group 


Ambassador Taylor reports greatly 
increased infiltration from the 
Northj including North Vietnamese 
regulars^ and a steadily worsen- 
ing situation in the South. 

The JCS urge Secretary McNamara to 
back military measures to seize 
control of the border areas of South 
Vietnam and to cut off the supply and 
direction of the Viet Co^g by direct 
measures against North Vietnam. 

On the basis of the new intelligence 
on infiltration levels^ the JCS 
8-gain recommend direct military pres- 
sures against the North. 

In a daring strike^ the Viet Cong 
staged a mortar attack on the large 
U.S. airbase at Bien Hoa^ killing 
four Americans^ destroying five 
B-57s^ and damaging eight others. 

Concerned about possible further 
North Vietnamese escalation and the 
uncertainty of the Red Chinese re- 
sponse^ the White House decides^ 
against the advice of Ambassador 
Taylor^ not to retaliate in the tit- 
for-tat fashion envisaged by NSAM 
31^, As a result of the attack^ how- 
ever^ an interagency Working Group 
of the NSC is established to study 
future courses of U.S. action under 
the Chairmanship of William Bundy_, 
Assistant Secretary of State for 
Far Eastern Affairs, 

Tran Van Huong is named Premier in 

The NSC Working Group' held its first 
meeting.. Other members are Michael 
Forres tal and Marshall Green from 




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3 Nov 6h 

President Re- 

k Nov 6k 

JCSM 933-64 

Ik Nov 6k 

CGCS Memorandum to 
SecDef^ CM 258-64; 
and JCSM 955-64 

IT Nov 6k 

Working Group Circu- 
lates Draft "Options" 
for Comment 

18 Nov 6k 

JCSM 967-64 



State ^ John McNaughton from ISA_, 
Harold Ford for CIA^ and Admiral 
Lloyd Must in from JCS. Work con- 
tinues for three "weeks. 

In a landslide victory^ President 
Johnson is re-elected v/ith a nev 
Vice President^ Hubert Humphrey. 

The JCS place in writing their re- 
quest for reprisal action against 
North Vietnam in retaliation for 
the Bien Hoa attack. Failure to act 
may be misinterpreted by the North 
Vietnamese as a lack of vill and 
determination in Vietnam. 

In separate memos to the Secretary^ 
the JCS recommend covert GVN air 
strikes against North Vietnam and 
additional U.S. deployments to South 
East Asia to make possible implemen- 
tation of U.S. strikes should these 
.be approved. 

The Working Group circulates its 
draft paper on the "Options" avail- 
able to the U.S. in South Vietnam. 
They axe three: (a) continuation 
of present policies in the hope of 
an improvement in the South but 
strong U.S. resistance to negotia- 
tions; (b) strong U.S. pressures 
against the North and resistance of 
negotiations until the DRV was 
ready to comply vrith our demands; 
and (C) limited pressures against the 
North coupled with vigorous efforts 
to get negotiations started and 
recognition that we would have to 
compromise our objectives. Option B 
is favored by the Working Group, 

The JCS renews its recommendation 
for strikes against the North tem- 
pering it slightly in terms of "a 

controlled program of systematically 
increased military pressures." 

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21 Nov 6^4- 


Revised Working 
Grou-p Draft 

23 Nov 6k 

Rostov/" Memo to Sec 

2l| Nov 64 

NSC Principals Meet' 

27 Nov 6k 

Taylor Meets vlth 

28 Nov 6k 

NSC Principals Meet 


Having received comments from the 
different agencies_, the Working 
Group revises its draft slightly^ 
takes note of different viewpoints 
and submits its work to the NSC 
Principals for the consideration. 

Taking a som.ewhat different tack^ 
the then Director of State's 
Policy Planning Staff^ W. ¥. Rostov^ 
proposes military pressures against 
the North as a method of' clearly 
signaling U.S. determination and 
commitment to the North. 

No consensus is reached^ but Option 
A is generally rejected as promis- 
ing only eventual defeat. Option B 
is favored by the JCS and CIA^ while 
State and OSD favor Option C. No 
firm conclusion is reached on the 
issue of sending ground troops to 
South Vietnam. 

Having returned for consultations. 
Ambassador Taylor meets \j±th the 
NSC Principals and after giving a 
gloomy report of the situation in 
South Vietnam, recomm-ends that to 
shore up the GVM and improve morale 
we take limited actions against the 
North but resist negotiations until 
the GVN is im.proved and the DRV is 
hurting. He proposed an extended 
Option A Td-th the first stages of 
Option C« This proposal was adopted 
by the Principals as the recommenda- 
tion to be made to the President. 

In a follow-up meeting, the Prin- 
cipals decide to propose a two 
phase program to the President. The 
first phase would be a thirty-day 


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30 Hov 6k 

NSC Principals 

1 Dec 64 

White House Meet' 

3 -Dec 6k 

Taylor Meets 


period of slightly increased pres- 
sure such as the resumption of the 
DE SOTO patrols and U.S. armed 
recce on the Laotian corridor while 
ve tried to get reforms in South 
Vietnam.. The second phase would 
involve direct air strikes against 
the North as in Option C. William 
Bundy vas charged -with preparing a 
draft NSM to this effect and an 
infiltration study was commissioned. 

Meeting to review the draft prepared 
by Bundy^ the Principals decided not 
to call it a NSM. Its provisions 
are those recommended on 28 Nov. 
Phase II would be a graduated and 
mounting set of primarily air pres- 
sures against the North coupled 
with efforts to sound out the DRV on 
readiness to negotiate on U.S. terms, 
A recommendation on linking U.S. 
actions to DRV infiltration is de- 


While the exact decisions made at 
this meeting of the Principals with 
the President are not available^ it 
is clear that he approved in general 
tenus the concept outlined in the 
Bundy paper. He gave his approval 
for implementation of only Phase I^ 
however. The President stressed 
the need for Taylor to get improve- 
ment from the GVN and the need to 
brief our allies on our new course 
of action^ and to get more assist- 
ance from them in the conflict. 

The President meets privately with 
Taylor and gives him. instructions, 
that he is to explain the new pro- 
gram to the GVEy indicate to its 
leaders that the Phase II U.S. 


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h Dec 6h 

Cooper Report on 

7 Dec 6k 

Taylor Meets -^dith 
Premier Huong 

.7 ". 9 Dec 6k 

Priiae Minister 
"Wilson briefed 

9 Dec 6k 

Second Taylor-Huong - 
Khanh Meeting 

10 Dec 6k 

Souvanna Phourna Ap' 
proves U.So Laos 

I I 

11 Dec 6k 

GVE Announces Greater 


strikes against the North are con- 
tingent on Improvement in the South^ 
and explain that these will be 
cooperative efforts. 

A thorough study on North Vietnamese 
infiltration as commissioned by the 
Principals is submitted to the NSC 
and later forwarded to Saigon. De- 
cisions on its release are continu- 
ally deferred. 

The day after his return to Saigon _, 
Taylor meets with Premier Huong and 
with General Khanh and outlines the 
new U.S. policy and states the re- 
quirements this places on the GVN. 

In Washington on a state visit _, 
British Prime Minister Wilson is 
thoroughly briefed on the forth- 
coming U.S. actions. On k Dec._, 
William Bundy had gone to New Zea-' 
land and Australia to present the 
"new policy and seek support. Other 
envoys were meeting mth the re- 
maining Asian allies. 

At a second meeting iTith Huong and 
Khanh_, Taylor presents a detailed 
set of actions he desires the GVN 
to take to improve the situation 
and receives agreement from the two 

The U.S. proposal for armed air 
recce over the Laotian corridor is 
presented to Souvanna Phoi:mia who 
gives his assent. 

Complying with Taylor's request^ the 
GVN announces stepped-up efforts to 
improve the campaign against the VC 
and to reform the government. ■ 


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12 Dec 6k 

Ik Dec 6k 

18 Dec 6k 

19 Dec 6k 


SecDef Approves 
JOS Proposal for 
Naval Actions 

NSC Principals 
Approve Armed 
recce in Laos 


Level of Laotian 
Missions Set 

NSC Principals 

Khanh Purges Civil- 
ian Governraent 

20 iJec 6k 

Taylor Meets With 
ARVE Leaders 




The Secretary approves a JCS pro- 
posal for shore bombardinent^ naval 
patrols and .offshore aerial recce 
for the first thirty days. A de- 
cision on the Phase II vas deferred. 

As planned^ the NSC approved armed 
air recce over the Laotian corridor 
with the exact nuxaber and frequency 
of the patrols to be controlled by 


The first sorties of U.S. aircraft 
in the ^fenned recce" of the Laotian 
corridor^ kno™ as BARREL ROLL^ 
take place. They mark the begin- 
ning of the thirty -day Phase I of 
the limited pressures. 

Secretary McNamara sets two mis- 
sions of four aircraft each as the 
■weekly level of BARREL ROLL activ- 
ity . 

The NSC Principals approve McNamara' s 
recommendation that BARRELL ROLL 
missions be held at constant levels 
through Phase I. It is revealed that 
adverse sea conditions have brought 
maritime operations against the DRV 
to a virtual bait. At McNaraara's in- 
sistence it is agreed that the infil- 
tration study >7ill not be made public 

Late in the evening^ the military 
high coramand_, led by Khanh^ moved to 
remove all pover from the civilian 
regime of Premier Huong by dissolv- 
ing the High National Council. Khanh 
assumes power. 

In a meeting >7lth the leading South 
Vietnamese military officers^ Taylor 
once again outlined the actions . 

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22 Dec 6h 


2k Dec 64 

29 Dec Gh 


Khanh Publicly 
Repudiates Taylor 

Rumors of Taylor's 

U.S. BOQ Bombed; Em- 
bassy Saigon Message 
1939; CINCPAC Message 
to JCS, 26225IZ Dec; 
JCa4 1076-64 

NSC Principals Meet- 


required from the GW by the U.S. 
before Phase II could be started. 


After having given initial appear- 
ances of understanding the difficulty 
that the military purge placed the 
U.S. in^ Khanh on Dec. 22 holds a 
news conference and states that the 
military is resolved not to carry out 
the "policy of any foreign power. 

Rumors are received by the Embassy 
that Khanh intends to have- Taylor 
declared personna non grata . Vigor- 
ous U.S. efforts to dissuade him 
and the use of Phase II as leverage 
cause Khanh to reconsider. 

In a terror attack this Christmas 
Eve, the VC bomb a U.S. BOQ in 
Saigon. T^to U.S. officers are 

killed_, 58 injured, Taylor urges 
reprisals against the North. He is 
supported by CINCPAC and the JCS. 

At the meeting of the NSC Principals, 
a decision against reprisals for the 
barracks bombing is taken in spite 
of the strong recommendations above. 
At the same meeting, ISA reported 
the readiness of the Phillipines, 
ROK, and GRC to send military assist- 
ance to South Vietnam. 

31 Dec 64 

Embassy Saigon 
Message 2010 

Taylor proposes going for^-ra^rd "^-Tlth 
the Phase^ II U.S. strikes against 
the North in spite of the political 
crisis in the South and under any 
conceivable U.S. relations mth the 
GVN short of complete abandonment. 


CJCS Memo to DepSecDef, 
CM 347-64 

XIV ■ 

The JCS recommend the addition of 
several air missions to already ap- 
proved operations, including two air 
strikes by unmarked Vl^AE aircraft 

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3 Jan 65 

Rusk TV Inter' 

k Jan 65 

Soviets call for new 
Conference on Laos 

5 Jan 65 

NSC Principals Meet 

6 Jan 65 

William Bundy Memo 
to Rusk 


against the North_, and U.S. air 
escort for returning GVN naval 
craft . 

Secretary Rusk appears on a Sun- 
day TV interview program, and 
defends U.S. policy^ ruling out 
either a U.S. "vrLthdrawal or a 
major expansion of the war. The 
public and Congressional debate on 
the war had heated up considerably 
since the Army take-over in South 
Vietnam in December. The debate 
continues through January 
Senator Morse the most vocal- and 
sharpest critic of the Adxainistra- 

Renewing their earlier efforts ^ the 
Soviets call again" for a conference 

on the Laotian problem,.' . . 

The Principals disapprove the JCS 
recommendation for Vl^TAE strikes 
with unmarked aircraft against the 
North, The JCS voice concern at 
the failure to begin planning for ■ 
Phase II of the pressures program. 
But no decision to go ahead is 
taken o 

In view of the continued deterior- 
ation of the • situation in the South 
and the prevailing view that the 
U»S. was going to seek a way out^ 
Bundy recomjnended some limited meas- 
ures^ short- of Phase II (i.e^ recce^ 
a reprisal^ evacuation of U.S. de- 
pendents_j etc.)^ to strengthen our 
hand. There were risks in this 
course but it would improve our 
position respect to the other 
SEA nations if things got rapidly 
worse in SVN and we had to con- 
template a i/lthdrawalo 


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8 Jan 65 

9 Jaa 65 

11 Jan 65 

1^4- Jan 65 

17 Jan 65 

22 Jan 65 

23 Jan 65 

27 Jan 65 

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First Korean Troops 
Go to South Vietnam 

Generals Announce 
Return to Civilian 

US-GW Aid Discus- 
sions Resume 

U.S. Laotian 0"pera- 
tions Revealed 

Buddhist Riots 

Soviets Affirm Sup- 
port- of DRV 

USIS Library Burned 
in Hue 

Mc]\[aughton paper ^ 
"Obser\'-ations re 
South Vietnam After 
Khanh's 'Re-Cour)'" 


The first contingent of 2^000 South 
Korean troops leave for South 

Under U.S. pressure^ the South Viet- 
namese generals announce that mat- 
ters of state -^d-ll be left in the 
future in the hands of a civilian 
government. The joint Huong -Khanh 
con]muniq.ue promises to convene a 
constituent assembly. 

With the retuxn to civilian govern- 
ment^ the U.S. resumes its discus- 
sions -^-rith the GVTT on aid and 
measures to improve the military 
situation . 

A UPI story reveaJ_s the U.S. BARREL 
ROLL armed recce missions in Laos 
and tells the story of the YANKEE 
TEAM armed escort for the RLAF, 

Shortly after the GVN announcement 
of increased draft calls ^ Buddhist- 
protest riots breal^ out in several 
cities against the allegedly anti- 
Buddhist military leaders. Disturb- 
ances continue through the month. 

In letters to Hanoi and Peking^ 
Gromyko affirms Soviet support for 
the DRV struggle against American 

Rioting Buddhists burn the USIS 
library in Hue. 

The U.S. stages in South Vietnam 
were defined as holding buffer land 
for Thailand and Malaysia and main- 
taining our national honor. They 
required continued prerseverance in a 

XVI • 

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Generals Withdraw 
Support from Huong 

28 Jan 65 

General Oanh Natned 


bad situation^ taking some risks 
such as reprisals. It was impor- 
tant to remember that our objec- 
tive was the containment of China 
not necessarily the salvation of 
South Vietnam. In this effort^ how- 
ever^ we should soon begin reprisal 
strikes against the North. They 
would not help the GVN much but 
would have a positive overall effect 
on our policy in SEA. 

The generals under Khanh^s leader- 
ship act once again to eliminate 
the civilian government. This tim.e 
they succeed in their coup and the 
U.S. only protests. 

General Nguyen Xuan Oanh is named 
acting Premier by Cxeneral Khanh. 


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3. Working Group Assessments of the Utility of 
Pressures • , 

NOVEMBER 1964 - JAI^^UARY 196^ 


1. Immediate Antecedents 1 

2. Formation of the MSC Working Group 5 


a. Sense of Urgency 7 

b. Vievs of DRV Susceptibility • 8 

h. Perceptions and Development of U.S. Pressure Options... 12 

a. Perception of U.S. Objectives and Interests.' 12 

b. Evolution of Options I8 

c. Significance of rregotiations 23 

■d. Perceived Reactions to Options • 27 


5. Views from Outside the rISC Working Group 31 

a. JCS Views ' 32 

b . Rostow Views *. 35 


1. Reactions of Principals to Working Group Analyses 38 

a. Consensus Among KSC Officials 38 

b. Views Backing Consensus. kl 

c- Policy Views From Saigon ^2 

d. Discussions With Ambassador Taylor h^ 

2. Courses of Action Approved in the White House 5U 


1. Early Actions. , 59 

a. GVTi Maritime Operations. . . .' " 59 

b. Armed Reconnaissance in Laos 61 

c. Surfacing Infiltration Evidence .' 63' 

d. Consultations With "Third Co'ontries'' 65 

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2. Relations vrith the GVIT '- . . 6? 

a. Joint Planning 68 

t. GW Crises 69 

c. Joint Reprisals 72 

3. Policy Vievs in January 73 

a. Public Debate. ...,.' 73 

b- Policy Assessments 75 

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In their Southeast Asia policy discussions of August-October I96U, 
Administration officials had accepted the view that overt railitary 
pressures against North Vietnam prohahly "vould be required. Barring 
some critical developments, hovever, it vas generally conceded that 
these should not begin until after the ne'v: year. Preparations for 
applying such pressui-es vere made in earnest during tTovember. 

lo IiTjnediate Antecedents 

In Administration policy discussions, the two developments most 
often cited as perha-os T-mrrsjiting lrriT)lementation of overt military pres- 
sures before I965 were: (l) increased levels of infiltration of guerrillas 
into South Vietnam and (2) serious deterioration of the GW. Evidence of 
both vas reported to Washington during October. 

National intelligence estimates gave the GWi little hope of sur- 
viving the apathy and discoui-agem.ent vith which it was plagued. They 
reported, "Goverrirnent m.inistries in Saigon are close to a standstill, 
with only the most routine operations going on." U.sJQW planning was 
not being followed by GWI action-, A coup oy disgruntled South Vietnamese 
military figures was believed imr^iinent (one had been attempted unsuccess- 
fully on 13 September). Moreover, the civilian goverr^ment which General 
Kxhanh had promised for the end of October was seen as unlikely to bring 
about any real im.provement. l/ .' " * 

A thi^eat of GW capitulation to the NLF, in the^fonii^of accept- 
ing a coalition governmient, was also seen as a real possibility.^ Citing 
"numerous signs that Viet Cong agents have played a role in helping sus- 
tain the level of civil disorder .. .in the cities," intelligence reports 
estimated that it was the Comir.unist intention to seek victory through a 
"neutralist coalition" rather then by force of arms. Perhaps straining 
a bit, an estimate stated, "The principal G^/K leaders have not to our 
knowledge been in recent contact" with the Communists, but there has been 
at least one instance of informal contact bet vreen a lesser governiaental 
official and mem^bers of the RI^o" 2/ Another estixaate portrayed the 
DRV and Chinese as regarding South Vietnam as a "developing political 
vacuum," soon to be filled "with a neutralist coalition government 
dom„inated by prO"Corii:Ti\inist elements." 3/ 

Reports of increasing infiltration began arriving in miid-October. 
Aiabassador Taylor cabled on the lUth that he had received indications of 
a "definite step-up in infiltration from North Vietnam, particularly in 
the northern provinces .«<, ." He went on to report: . 

. 1 

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"A recent analysis suggests that if the present rate of 
infiltration is laaintained the annual figure for I96U will 
. be of the order of IO5OOO. Eurthei-Tiiore . . .we are finding 
more and more '"bona fide' Worth Vietnaanese soldiers- among 
the infiltrees, I feel sui^e that we must soon adopt new 
and drastic methods to reduce end eventually end such infil- 
tration if we are ever to succeed in South Vietnam. "U/ 

A sijnilar report was cabled directly to the White House on 16 October. 
In it^ i^jnbassador Taylor repeated his comitients on infiltration and 
advised the President of the steadily worsening situation in 
Vietnam. The Ambassador reported the infiltration of northern-born 
conscripts and relayed GTO claims that they were coming in organi::ed 
units. He pointed out that with the advent of the dry season^ the 
problem would assume even greater miagnitude and urged that it be given 
immediate attention. 5/ 

The Taylor estimates of end-year infiltration totals probably 
were quite alarming. If acc-urate they indicated that the rate had 
risen sharply during September and early October: The total number of 
infiltrees for 196^ as of 1 September was then estimated as ^^700. 6/ 
Of particular concern^ no doubt , was the apparent em/ohasis on reinforc- 
ing Communist units in the Central Highlands and in the northern 
provinces of South Vietnam. These warnings came hard on the heels of 
vridespread press reports of badly weakened GTR control in thi*ee portions 
of the country, jj 

The JCS seized on these fresh repox^ts and resubmitted their pro- 
posals for taking prompt measures qigainst North Vietnam. On 21 October^ 
they argued: 

"Application of the principle of isolating the guerrilla 
force from its reinforcement and support and then to frag- 
ment and defeat the forces has not been successful in Vietnam 
. . . oThe principle m.ust be applied by control of the national 
boimdaries or by eliminating or cutting off the source of 
supply and direction." 8/ 

On the 27th they submitted a major proposal for "strong military actions" 
to co^Linteract the trends cited in the national intelligence estimates 
e.nd in the Taylor cables. In language identical to that used in two memoranda and at the September strategy meeting^ they stated that 
such actions were "required now in order to prevent the collapse of the 
U.S. position in Southeast Asia." They then recommended a program of 
actions to support the following strateg^^: 

a. Depriving the Viet Cong of out of country assistance by 
applying military pressures on the...I)RV to the extent necessary to 
cause the DRV to cease support and direction of the insurgency. 

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b. Depriving the VC of assistance within S'm by expanding the 
comiterinsurgency effort — military, economic^ and political -- within 

c. Continuing to seek a viable effective government in SW 
based on the broadest -oossible consensus. 


d. Maintaining a military readiness posture in Southeast Asia 

(1) Demonstrates the U.S. will and caiDability to escalate 
the action if required. 

(2) Deters a major Communist aggression in the area. 9/ 

The program recommended by the JCS included a list of actions 
to be tsj^en within South Vietnam and a separate list of actions outside. 
The Chiefs had listed them in order of increasing intensity, and they 
requested authority "to implement now" the first six actions within the 
country and the first eight outside. The latter included air strilies 
by GWI/fAPuMGATE aircraft against Commujiist LOC's in Laos and in the - 
southern portion of North Vietnam. lO/ 

In the context of the reported worsening situation in South 
Vie'cnejn, the JCS proposa.l was given serious consideration in DSD. 
Since Arabassador Taylor had expressed concern over initiating overt 
pressures against Korth Vietnam "before we have a responsible set of_ 
authorities to work with in South Vietnam," a copy of the JCS paper 
V7as forwarded to him for review and coimnent. The OSD's stated intention 
was to consider the Ambassador's views before developing a projposal to 
present to President Johnson. 11/ 

J While this proposal was still under consideration (l November 
190^)5 Viet Cong forces attacked U.S. facilities at the Bien Koa airbase 
with Slrnrm mortar fire. Four American servicemen were killed, and five 
B-57 i^actical bom,bers were destroyed^ and major damage was inflicted on 
eight others. 12/ 

Administration attention was focused immediately on the question 
of what the United States should do in response to the Bien Hoa provoca- 
tion^. It will be recalled that such an eventuality had been discussed 
at the September strategy meeting. The Presidential directive which 
resuJ-ted from it_ stated: "We should be prepared to respond as appro- 
priate against the DRV in the event of 8.ny attack on U.S. units or any 
special DRV/VC action against SW." 13/ As of the end of October (in 
anticipation of resumed DE SOTO Patrols), elements of our Pacific forces 
were reported as "poised and ready" to execute reprisals for anv DRV 
aoTsac^cs on our naval vessels. Thus, there was a rather large expectancy 
among Administration officials that the United States would do som-ething 
in retaliation. 

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Apparently^ the decision was made to do nothing -- b± least not 
of a retaliatory nature. At a White House meeting to discuss possible 
courses of action^ on 1 November^ "concern vas o^^ressed that proposed 
U.S. retaliatory punitive actions could trigger North Vietnamese/CHICOM 
air and ground retaliatory actSo" Questions rere raised about "increased 
security measui^es and precautionary moves of U.S. air and ground units 
to protect U.S. dependents, units and installations against such retali- 
ation. 14/ Pollowing the meeting, a White House news release announced 
that the President had ordered the destroyed and badly damaged aircraft 
replaced. Administration officials stated that "the mortar attack must 
be ^ viewed in the light of the Vietnamese war "and of the whole Southeast 
Asian situation. If the United States is to retaliate against North 
Vietnam in the futui-e," they reportedly, said, "it must be for broader 
reasons than the strike against the Bien Hoa base." Moreover, they 
drew a contrast between this incident and the Tonkin Gulf attacks where 
oui^ destroyers were "on United States business." 15/ 

4' . . Source documents available do not indicate that any further 

decisions were made on the Bien Hoa m.atter. A second meeting to discuss 
possible U.S. actions was "tentatively scheduled" for 2 November, but 

; one available materials contain no evidence that it was held. 16/ 

Pi-^esident^Jolmson was scheduled to appear' in Houston that afternoon, 
for his final pre-election address, and it may be that the second VJhite 
House mieeting vas called off. In any event, imofficial reports from 
Saigon, two days later, stated that most of the B-57s had been withdraxm 
from the Bien Ploa base. V/hile acknowledging that "some" had been 
- removed to Clark Air Base, in the Philippines, official spokesmen in 

I Saigon refused to comment on whether or" not a wholesale withdrawal had 

I taken place. 17/ One thing is certain; there were no retaliatory 

, ! s-crikes authorized following the attack on the U.S. bom.ber base. 

I '. However, retaliatory measuires w^ere proposed* On 1 November, 

the JCS suggested orally to Secretary McNamara that air striiies be 
authorized on key Communist targets in both Laos and North Vietnam. 
According to the JCS plan, those in Laos would be hit within 24-36 ho-ors 

I j after approval, with forces already in place, and -these attacks would 

divert attention from the preparation necessary for the stronger actions 

^ I to follow. The latter would include a B-52 night attack on Phuc Yen 

airfield (outside Planoi) , to be followed by a dawn strike by USAF and 
Na^yy oactical aircraft against other airfields and POL storage in the 
Hanoi-Haiphong area, 18/ 

Ambassador Taylor immediately cabled a Saigon Erabassy-MCV 
recommendation for "retaliatory bombing attacks on selected DRV targets 
, by combined U.S./vl^AF air forces and for a policy statement that we will 
act similarly in like cases in the f^utui^e." I9/ In a later cable he 
made specific reference to "the retaliatory principle confirmed in 
NSAI'^f 31^5- ' stating that if his initial recoriimendation was not accepted 
at least a lesser alternative should be adopted. This he described as 

f ^ 

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intensifying 3^-A operations and initiating air operations against 
selected targets as an interim substitute for more positive measures." 20/ 

On k l^oveniber, the JCS repeated in -^-friting their recommendations 
of the 1st 3 adding some e:cplanatory coinment and taking issue ^^ith certain 
aspects of the Taylor recoi):mendations , They e-:plained that they con- 
sidered the VC attack on Bien Hoa airfield "a deliberate act of escala- 
tion and a change of the groimd rules under which the VC have operated 
up to now." They cautioned against "vjidue delay or restraint" in making 
a response^ since it "could be misinterpreted by our allies in Southeast 
Asia^ as v^ell as oy the DRV and Communist China" and "could encourage 

the enemy to conduct additional attacks " Referring to Ambassador 

Taylor's recOiimiendation to emnounce a policy of reprisal bom^bingj the 
JCS denounced a "tit-for-tat" policy as "imduly restrictive" and tending 
to "pass to the DRV substantial initiatives with respect to the nature 
and timing of further U.S. actions." 21/ They concluded: 

"Early U.S. military action against the DRV would lessen 
the possibility of misinterpretation by the DRV and Communist 
China of U.S. determination and intent and thus serve to deter 
■ further VC attacks such as that at Bien lioa." 

In the meantime J there had been created what may have been the 
only concrete result frora the high-level policy deliberations following 
the Bien Hoa incident. An interagency task force^ lmo\m as the NSC 
Working Group^ had begun an intensive study of future U.S. courses of 
action. Recor/ioiendations from the JCS and others were passed on to that 
group for incorporation in their work. 22/ 

2. Forma tion of the NSC Working Group 

The "NSC Working Group on SWi/SEA" held its first meeting at 
0930 hours ^ 3 November 5 thus placing the decision to orgejiize such a 
group at sometime earlier -- prob3,bly on 2 November or perhaps even at 
the high-level meeting on 1 November. Its charter was to study 
"iijmiediately and intensively" the fut-ujre courses of action and alterna- 
tives open to the United States in Southeast Asia and to report as 
appropriate to a "Principals Group" of NSC members. In turn^, this group 
of senior officials would then recommend specific courses of action to 
the President. Initiallj/-^ the working group was given approximately 
one week to ten days to complete its work. 23/ Actually^ it developed 
and recast its reports over a period of three weeks or more. 

Four agencies were represented in the formal membership of the 
group. Txhe Department of State contingent included Assistan.t Secretary 
Bundy (Chairman)^ Marshall Green^, Michael Eorrestal (both of the Bureau 
of Far Eastern Affairs), and Robert Johnson (of the Policy Planning 
Council). Assistant Secreteiy (ISA) McNaughton represented OSD. Vice 
Admiral Lloyd Must in was the JCS membero The CIA was represented by 
Harold Ford. Other staff members from these agencies assisted in work 
on specific topics. 2^/ " ■ ' ' 

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The Working Group's efforts were ax:)portionecl axaong seven tasks, 
the initial input for each being accomplished by a particular member .or 
subcommittee 5 as follows:. 25/ 


Assessment of the current situation 
in South Vietnam, including policy 
direction of interested powers. 

U.S. objectives and staJees in South 
Vietnam and Southeast Asia. 

Broad options (3) available to tiae 
United States. 

Alternative forms of possible 

Analyses of different options 
vis-a-vis U.S. objectives a:ad 




William Bundy 

Bundy and ISA 

State/Policy Planning 

JCS to propose specific 
actions; Policy Planning 
Council to exairdne po- 
litical impacts of the 
most violent option- 


Immediate actions in the period 
prior to Presidential decision 
on options. 

State/par East Bui^eau 

Most inputs were made in the foimi of either (l) di-aft papers 
treating fully a topic intended for inclusion in the Working Group's 
final submission or (2) memoranda commenting on an initial draft paper 
and suggesting alterations. Because of the unique responsibilities and 
advisory processes of the JCS, their member apparently chose to make 
initial inputs lexgelj through references to or excerr^ts from regular 
JCS documents: he also contributed to the redrafting of the option 
analyses. 26/' The initial papers on each of the topics vere circulated 
among the Working Group members, reviewed in consiiltation with their 
parent organizations and modified. Some positions passed through as 
many as three drafts before being submitted to the Principals. 

3 • Working Group Assess^-nents of the Utility of Pressur-es 

The NSC Working Group approached its work with the general 
assessm-ent that increased pressiores against ITorth Vietnajii \Toxild be both 
useful and necessary. However, this assessment embraced a wide range 
of considerations stemming from the developing situation in South Viet- 
nam e.nd a variety of vieirpoints concerning vrhat kinds of pressures 
would be most effective. 

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^' Sense of Urgency. As the Worliing Group began its delibera- 
tions^ exi avrareness that another Bien Hoa could occur at any tijne v/as 
prominent in both the official and the public mindo The tenuous security 
of U.So bases in South Vietnam had received vide publicity. 27/ More- 
over, the ne^rs services were reporting the threat of civil protest 
against the new Saigon governrrient, and the increased level of guerrilla 
infiltration from the North was being publicly aired. 28/ These' develop- 
ments lent an added sense of urgency to the Group's worko The Chairman 
of the Working Group was sensitive to these developments and to related 
attitudes within the Administration. For example, he indicated that the 
intelligence agencies were ^^on the verge of . ^'.agreement tha.t infiltration 
has in fact mounted," and that the Saigon mission was "urging that \re 
surface this by the end of this week or early next week." He stressed 
that "the President is clea^rly thinking in terms of maximum use of a 
Gulf of Tonl-^in Reprisal/" rationale." The nature of such a decision was 
expected to be: 

either for an action that would show toughness and hold 
the line till vre can decide the big issue, or as a basis 
for starting a clear course of action under. . obroad 
. options « 

He implied that our intention to stand firm in South Vietneon was being 
corfimunicated to the USSR ("Secretary Rusk is tallying today to Dobrynin") 
and indicated the desirability of President Johnson signalling something 
similar rather soon through the public media. This was seen as particu- 
larly important "to counter any SW fears of a softening in our policy," 
prestmably in view of our not responding to the Bien Hoa attacks 29/ 

Chairman Bundy was aware also of the significance attached by 
some observers to the first U.S. actions after the Presidential election. 
As was pointed out to him, "all Vietnamese and other interested obsei-vers" 
would be watching carefulJLy to "see what posture the newly mandated 
Johnson Administration will assume." For this reason, William H. Sullivan^ 
head of the interagency Vietnam Coordinating Committee (and soon to be 
appointed the new U.S. Ambassador to Laos), urged "that ovx first action 
be... one which gives the appearejice of a deterraination to take risks if 
necessary to maintain our position in Southeast Asia." An immediate 
retaliation for any repetition of the Bien Hoa attack and armed recon- 
naissance missions in the Laotian Panhandle were cited as specific 
examples. He went on to recommend to l^lr. Bimdy: 

"l feel that it is important. . .that the Administration go 
on record fairly soon placing our i^olicy in Viet Ham within 
the larger perspective of our policies in the Western Pacific, 
especially as they involve confrontation with Communist China." 30 / 

A sense of urgency for the Working Group's efforts was also de- 
rived from assessments of the trends within South Vietnam. For example^ 
the intelligence parnel composed of CIA, DIA, and State/lMl members savr 

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little prospect for an effective GM despite an acImoxTledged slowing of 
"adYerse -oolitical trends." In their vievr the political situation .fas 
"extremely fragile," with the Saigon administration plagued oy con- 
fusion, ar>athy and ^ooor morale" and the new leadership hampered hy the 
older factionaliRm.' The security situation in the ^countryside was 
assessed as having continued to deteriorate, with Viet Cong control 
... spreading over areas heretofore controlled by the government. 
Although indicating "better than even" chances that "Ghe G\l^ could hang 
on for the near future and thus afford a platfonii upon wnich...^oo/ 
prosecute the we^ and attempt to tui^n the tide," the panel painted a 
griin pictujre of its pros^oects. 3l/ This assessment was^prooahly 
instrumental in promoting Assistant Secretary McEaughton s cr^-ptic 
observation that "Progress inside S-fil is ijaportant, buo it is unlii.eiy 
despite our best idess and efforts." Besides, he observed, if it cam 
at all it would taive "at least several months." In his view ^^he efio.-os 
of the Working Group, could in some measure compensate for this slow 
progress inside South Vietnam: 

■ "Action against North Vietnam is to some extent _ a sub- 
stitute for strengthening the goverrjnent in South Vietnam. 
That is, a less active VC (on orders from DRV) can be 
handled by a less efficient GW (which we expect to havej . id/ 

b. Views of DHV Susceptibility. The extent to .;hich "action 
against Eorth VietnajTi" might affect that nation's support Ox ^^le con- 
flicts in South Vietnem and Laos was a matter on which merabers of tne 
Working Group did not fully agree. The intelligence panel members . 
tended toward a pessimistic view. They pointed out tliat uhe basic 
elements of Cosmunist strength in South Vietnaia remain indigenous, 
and that "even if severely damaged" the DRV could continue to support 
the insurrection at a lessened level. Therefore, they suressea lihao 
the U.S. ability to com.pel a halt to the DRV support depended on erod- 
ing Hanoi's will and persuading the DSV: 

that the m-ice of moujiting the insurrection in the South 
at a high level would be too great and that; it would be 
preferable to reduce its aid. ..and direct at least a 
temporary reduction of V.C. 8.ctivity. 

As the -oanel members saw it, this respite would then provide an^^oppor- 
tunity to stabilise and iiirorbve the GVIJ. But, in their woras, Even 
so, lasting success would depend UTDon a substantial improvement m the 
energy and effectiveness of the RVN government and paciiication machin- 
ery." 33 / 

However, the intelligence panel did not concede very strong 
chsjices for breaking the will of Hanoi. They thought it quite likely 
that the DHV was willing to suffer damage "in the com-se of a '^eso of ^^ 
wills with the United States over the course of events m South Vietnam. 
To sw3port this view, they cited Hanoi's belief that international 

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pressure would develop against deliberate U.S. expansion of the var. 

I Further 5 that given present trends in South Vietnam, both Hanoi and 

Peking had good reason to expect success without having to initiate 

I actions carrying the risk of the kind of war which would expose them 

I to "the great weight of superior U.S. weaponry." The panel also viewed 

Hanoi as estajnating that the U.S. will to maintain resistance in South- 
east Asia could in time be eroded -- that the recent U.S. election would 

^ provide the Johnson Administration with "greater policy flexibility" 

than it previously felt it had. 3^/ 

This view was challenged by the Working Group's JCS member as 
being too "negative." Interpreting the panel's non-specific reference 
to "policy flexibility" in an extreme sense, he wrote: 

If this means that Hanoi thinks we are now in position 
to accept world-wide hujuiliation with respect to oujt formerly 
stated objectives in Vietnaaii, this is another reason why it 
is desirable that we take early measures to disabuse their 

Moreover, he indicated the JCS view that the slightly improved hopes for 
government stability (acknowledged by the panel) were good reason irhy 
' '. "early and positive actions" should be taken. This point was reinforced 

by his judgment that (in contrast with its ijrapact on esprit and political 
effectiveness) the GVI^^'s "principal task is to afford the platform upon 
which the Km armed forces, with U.S. assistance, prosecute the war." 35/ 

In criticism of the intelligence panel's emphasis on the need 
to influence DRV will, Admiral Mustin indicated that enemy capabilities 
represented a m.ore appropriate target. He stated the JCS assessment 
that : 

"ao The actual UoS. requiremisnt with respect to the DRV 
is reduction of the rate of delivery of support to the VC, 
to levels below their m,iniiauiri necessary sustaining level. 

a . 

"b. In the present unstable situation something far less 
than total destruction may be all that is required to accom- 
plish the above. A very m_odest change in the government's 
/&r£l favor., ..may be enough to tiu-'n the tide and lead to a 
successful solution. Of coui^se it is not possible to predict 
in advance. • .the precise level of.m.easures vrhich will be 
required to^ achieve the above. This is the reason for de- 
signing a program of progressively increasing squeeze." 

One of the factors encour-aging JCS optimism, he pointed out, was the 
assessment accepted by the panel that both Hanoi and Peking wanted to 
avoid direct conflict with the United States. This would act as a de 
terrent to Communist persistence, pai-ticularly if by a program of 

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militsj^y pressures, ve V7ere able to revise their assessment that they could 
vih "witxhout much risk of having to feel the veight of U.S. response." 36/ 

Apparently as a result of these criticisrr.s and their influence 
on other VIorking Group members ^ the Group *s frial assessment of DRV 
susceptibility to mdlitary pressui*es vras somewhat modified. While con- 
tinuing to emphasise that affecting Hanoi's will was important^ the crit- 
icality of it was obscured by concessions to the possible Impact of 
damage to PRV capabilities and by greater reliance on _conditional phras- 
ing. For example: 

"the nature of the war in Vietnem is such that U.S. ability 
to compel the DRV to end or reduce the VC insui^rection rests 
essentially upon the effect of the U.S. sanctions on the will 
of DRV leadership to sustain and enlarge that insurrection, and 
to a lesser extent tipon the effect of sanctions on the capabili- 
ties of the DRV to do so." 

Although giving explicit recognition to "a rising rate of infiltration j" 
and continuing to acknowledge limits to U.S. abilities to prevent the 
DRV's material support for the VC^ the assessment stated that "U.S.- 
inflicted destruction in North Vietnain and Laos vrould reduce these sup- 
porting increments and damage DRV/VC morale." It qualified this state- 
ment, how^ever, loy pointing out that the degi^ee to which such damage 
would provide the GV1\^ with a breathing spell would depend largely on 
"whether any DRV 'removal' of "its direction and support of the VC were 
superficial or whole." If su-oerficial or "limited to gestui-es. . .that 
removed only the more visible" evidences of the DRV increment," the 
report continued, "it would probably not be possible to develop a viable 
and free government in South Vietne-m." 3?/ 

In general, the final assessm^ent of DRV susceptibility to 
pressu-i'es was less discouj-^aging than the intelligence panel's initial 
submission, although it cou-ld not be considered particularly encoxoraging 
either. The reference to U.S. "policy flexibility," to which the JCS 
took such violent objection, was rem^oved, and the following non-committing 
statement was used instead: "Hanoi's immediate estiraate is probably that 
the passing of the U.S. election gives Washington the opportunity to take 
new military actions against the DRV and/or new diplomatic initiatives." 
If new military pressujres were applied, the report indicated that Hanoi's 
leaders would be faced with a basic question: "is the U.S. determined 
to continue escalatinp- its pressures to achieve its announced objectives 
...or is the U.S. escalation essentially a limited attempt to improve the 
U.S. negotiating position?" It continued: 

"Their decision. . .would be affected by the U.S. military 
postui-e in the area, by the extent and nature of the U.S. 
escalation, the character of the U.S. commamication of its 
intentions, and their reading of domestic UoS. and inter- 
national .reactions to the inaugirration of U^S. attacks on the 


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The report made no attempt to predict ho^r the DRV might ans^rer the "basic 
question' given alternative assessments of the variables in the quoted 
paragraph, Hov/ever, it did offer the caveat that "comprehension of the 
other's intentions would almost certainly be difficult on both sides, 
and especially so as the scale of hostilities mounted." 38/ 

,1^ assessing Hanoi's ability and willingness to sustain U.S. 
attaclcs in order to r^ursue its goals ^ the re^Dort continued its balanced 
buo slightly pessimistic approach: 

We have many indications that the Hanoi leadership is 
acutely and nervously aware of the extent to which North 
VieLnam's transportation system and industrial plan is vul- 
nerable to attaclv. On the other hand, North Vietnam's 
economy is overwhelmingly agriculture and, to a large extent, 
decentralized. .. .Interdiction of iraports and extensive de- 
struction of transportation facilities and industrial plants 
would^ cripple DRV industry. These actions would also seriously 
restrict DRV military capabilities, and \vould degrade, though 
to a lesser extent, Hanoi's capabilities to support guerrilla 
warfare in South Vietnam 'and Laos.oc.We do not believe that 
attacks on industrial targets would so greatly exacerbate 
current economic difficulties as to creat un_manageable control 
problems..., DRV leaders. . .would probably be willing to suffer 
some damage to the country in the com-se of a test of wills 
with the U.S. over the cou-i^se of events in South Vietnam." 39/ 

_ ^ The assessment concluded with estimates of likely Chinese Com- 
munis o and Soviet efforts to offset pressures directed toward North 
Vietnajii. The Working Group recorded its belief "that close cooperation 
exists between Hanoi and Peiping and that Hanoi consults' Peiping on 
major decisions regarding South Vietnam." Because the VC insurrection 
served Peiping's interests in undermining the U.S. position in Asia" 
and because of the Sino-Soviet dispute, the gi^oup thought it likely that 
the Chinese would "feel compelled to demonstrate their readiness to 
support ^Hanoi in maintaining pressure on South Vietnam. However, it 
was no bed that "Chinese Commuiiist ca-^oabilities to augment DRV offensive 
and defensive capabilities are slight," being limited largely to modest 
quantities of air defense equipment, additional jet fighters and naval 
paorol craft. On the other hand, the group believed "Moscow's role in 
Vietnam is likely to remain a relatively minor one," Khrushchev's 
successors were believed unwilling to run substantial risks to undei-mine 
tne GW. Citing Hanoi's desire for continuing Soviet military and 
economic aid, the report stated an ironic judgment concerning the less- 
miliT^ant of the large Cormmiist powers: 


Moscow's ability to influence decisions in Hanoi tends 
consequently to be proportional to the North Vietnamese 
regime s fears of American action against it, rising in 


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moments of crisis and diminishing in quieter periods. Moscow's 
willingness to give overt backing to Hanoi ^ however , seems to 
be in inverse proportion to the level of threat to North Viet- 
nam." ko/ (Underlining -added) 

^ . Perceptions end Development of U.S, Pressure Options 

The NSC Working Group began its deliberations with a variety of 
U.S. actions in mind and with an apparently flexible approach to the 
objectives that the Administration might reasonably seel-v to achieve. As 
ideas were exchanged and debated^ however, objectives became somewhat 
less flexible and options seemed to narrow. Such a process could have 
resulted from either: (l) preconceptions on the part of particularly 
influential members; (2) a bu]?eauGratic tendency to compromise; or (3) 
simply the lir/iited availability of practical alternatives. A combination 
j I of these factors may even have been at work in the case of the Working 

Group. An assessment of this nat-ore is beyond the scope of this pri- 
marily docuraentary research effort. Still, the question is an important, 
one to reflect on in tracing the development of Working Group recommen- 
dations « . • ■ 

a. Perception of U.S. Object ives and Interes ts. National ob- 
jectives in Southeast Asia were regarded in two categories: existing 
(sometimes called "initial") policy objectives and those comprising a 
possible fallback position. The former did not change and did not 
undergo a.ny reinterpretation diu^ing the couj^se of the V/orking Group's 
study. These were seen as (l) "helping a governraent /of South Vietnam/ 
defend its independence," and (2) "working to preserve /in Laos/ an 
international neutralized settlement." Three basic "factors" were 
recognized as "standing behind" these policy objectives:. 

"ae The general principle of helping countries that try 
I ' to defend their o\m freedom against cor;:munist subversion and 



*'b. The specific consequences of communist control of 
' South Viet-Nem and Laos for the secui'ity of, successively, 

^ . C^oabodia, Thailand (most seriously), Malaysia, and the 

I I Philippines -- and resulting increases in the thjreat to 

India and -- more in the realtn of morale effects in the short 
term -- the threat to /other nations in Asia/. 

"c. South Viet-Nam, ^n.d to a lesser extent, Laos, as test 
cases of ccrmunist "wars of national liberation" -^/or Id-wide." h_l/ 

f Current U.S. objectives in South Vietn8m and Laos i/ere seen as 
an integral -gaxt of the "overall policy of resisting Communist expansion 
world-^ride , " and particuJ.arly a part of the "policy of resisting the 

expansion of Cornjnunist China and its allies. North Viet-N?m and North 

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Korea., ' Thus, for South Vietnam to come under Communist control, "in 
any i^orm/' vas seen as 

a major blow to our basic policies. U.S. prestige is 
heavily coimnitted to the maintenance of a non-Coiamunist 
South Viet-Hana, and only less heavily so to a neutra- 
lised Laos." h^ 

* Unlike the cur-rent objectives^ those comprising a fall-back 
position dealt only tvith South Vietnam. Moreover ^ they were modified 
dujTing the course of the Working Grounds efforts. The modifications 
occujrred m the way the objectives were presented -- in the context of 
the presentation — rather thsn in their specific plirasing. The words 
remained the same throughout: 

^ -• To hold the situation together as long as possible 
so that we have time to strengthen other areas of Asia. 



To taJve forceful enough measures in the situation 
so that we emerge from it, even in the worst case, with our 
standing as the principal helper against Communist expan- 
sion as little impaired as possible. 

. "^^ liialie clear, o. to nations in Asia particularly, 
that ^ failure in South Viet-Nam, if it comes, was due to 
special local factors that do not apply to other nations 
ve are coimnitted to defend -- that,' in short, ovx will and 
ability to help those nations defend themselves is not im- 
pairedo" hzl 

_^ At first, these fall-back objectives for South Vietnam were pre- 
sentee as possible alternatives -- to be considered in conjunction with 
a reassessment of the costs and risks associated with currently ac- 
knowledged^ object iveSo Following its recognition of the extent to which 

U.S. prestige had been committed, even the second draft (8 Igovember) 
sta-oed: . ^ 

^ Yet... we cannot gu.arantee to maintain a non-Communist 

South Viet-Nsrd short of committing ourselves to whatever 

degree of military action would be required to defeat North 

Viet-ITam and probably Communist China militarily. S'uch a 

commitm.ent -.rould involve high risks of a major conflict in 

Asia, which could not be confined to air and naval action 

buu^would alraost inevitably involve a Korean-scale ground 

action and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons at some 
point c 


Despite all this, it was aclmo^fledged, South Vietnam "might still come 
apart, leaving the United States deeply committed but with much of its 
ini-cial justification disintegrated. "Hence," the evaluation continued, 

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• • • 

we must consider realistically what our over-all objectives 
and stakes are^ and just what degree of risk and loss we shouJ_d 
be prepared to inaJve to hold South Vietnain, or alternatively^^ to 
gain tire and secure our- further lines of defense in the world 
BXid, specifically in Asia." kh/ 

Significant 5 in shedding light on the subtle changes that 
occurred in this rationale during the ensuing three or four weeks , was 
its treatment of the third fall-back objective. Observing that "most 
of the TOrld had written off" both South Vietnam and Laos in 193k, an 
early ^ draft acknowledged that neither had acquired the international 
standing of such former targets of Communist aggression as Greece ^ Iraai 
and^ South Korea, it went on to point out several historical character- 
istics of South Vietnam and Laos that m.ade them such unique cases , in- 
cluding: (l) "a bad colonial heritage" and inadeqviate preparation for 
self-government; (2) a "colonialist war fought in half-baked fashion 
and^lost"; and (3) "a nationalist movement taken over by Communists 
ruling in- t>ie other half of an ethnically and historically united 
country.. _" it then added: 

"The basic point, of coui'se^ is that we have never 
thought we could defend a governjnent or a people that had 
ceased to care strongly about defending themselves , or that 
v^ere unable to m^aintain the fundamentals of government. 
And the overwhelmdng world impression is that these are 
lacking elements in South Viet-IIam. . . . " 

Moreover, the commentary noted that there was widespread expectancy 
that if South Vietnam w^ere lost it would be due to its lack of these 
elements. U5/ 

Subsequent to circulation of the initial draft of the "objectives 
and national interest" Section, a number of critical or related comments' 
were directed toward Group Chairman Bundy. On h ]\^ovember, Michael 
Forrestal suggested that "an important flavor" was lacking in the original 
analysis -- nemely, "the role of China" and her need for "ideological 
successes abroad." in his view, given Chinese policy, "the effect of 
oiu- withdrawal from a situation in which the people we were trying to 
help seemed unable to help themselves" would be m.ore politically pervasive 
in Asia than if China did" not exist. He thought the U.S. object should 
be to "contain" Chinese political and ideological influence "for the 
longest possible period," thus providing time to create "at the very 
least, Titoist regimes on the periphery of China., c." U6/ On 6 November, 
William Sullivan also urged placing U.S. policy in Viet-Kam in the 
"larger perspective" of the political confrontation with Com.munist China. 
Ixi an attached, longer ex-position of policy rationale for the Western 
Pacific, he presented conceptions of the U.S. problem quite similar to 
those advocated by Forrestal, The political future of the peoples of East 
Asia was portrayed as depending largely on a struggle between Washington 

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and Peking. Chinese political and ideological aggressiveness was viewed 
as a threat to the ability of these peoples to determine their own 
futures 5 3jid hence to develop along ways compatible with U.S. interests. 
The U.S. coiGinitinent to defeat ITorth Vietnamese aggression^ even at the 
ris.k of "direct military confrontation" with Ooinriiunist China^ was per- 
ceived as part of the longer-tena policy of establishing conditions 
which permit the independent nations of the region to develop the ability 
and confidence "to cope with the emerging and expanding power of China. "Vt/ 
Tcies^ coivvments may have influenced that part of the 8 November version 
which referred to current U.S. objectives as part of the broader policy 
of "resisting the expansion of Co:nvmunist China and its allies...." 

The JCS member also stressed the iraportance of not falling bade 
from current policy aims. He stated that "in the eyes of the world" the 
United States was coirmitted to its initial objectives "as matters of 
national prestige, credibility, and honor." Further, that U.S retention 
of "a mea.sure of free-world leadership" required "successful defense" in 
South Vietnam against the wars of national liberation strategy. Admiral 
Mustin criticized the Bundy draft for overstating "the degree of diffi- 
culty associated with success for our objectives in S^/II." He asserted: 

"Oui^ first objective is to cause the DRV to terminate 
support of the SEA insurgencies. .. .To achieve this objective 
does not necessarily require that we 'defeat North Viet-Nam, ' 
and it alraost certainly does not require that we defeat 
Cojrmunist China. Hence our commitment to SW does not involve 
a high probability, let alone 'high risks,' of a major conflict 
in Southeast Asia." 

He characterised the draft's expression of concern over risks and costs 
as an inference "as though the harder we try the more we stand to risk 
and to loseo On the contrary, he stated, the "best hojpe for minimizing 
risks, costs, and losses in achieving our objectives" could be attained 
though "a resolute course of action." U8/ 

Admiral Mustin also attacked the ixaplica-tion that there w^as 
"some alternative to om^ holding South Viet-Nam. There is none," he 
stated, adding: "We have no further fall-back position in Southeast Asia 
in the stated view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Specifically, he warned 
that to attempt to strengthen other areas of Asia, "in the context of our 
having been pushed out of SVI^I, would be a thoroughly non-productive effort 
militarily...." Moreover, chara.cterising the draft's concessions to the 
unique difficulties in Laos and South Vietnam as "sour grapes," he 
attacked its asstcuptions that we could convince other na-tions that 
failure in South Vietnam was due to strictly local factors. He warned 
that other nations would regard any such explanation on our part as 
"completely transparent." Concerning any lack of G'^./TT will to defend 
itself, he commented, "A resolute United States would ensure. . .that this 
lack were ciu^ed, as the alternative to accepting the loss." The JCS 
member portrayed a U.S. failure in South Vietnam as an "abject hmailiation/' 

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that V70uld be disastrous in shaking the faith and resolve of the non- 
Co3munist nations \rho rely on the United States for major help against 
CoimnuMst aggression. In that events he saw little possibility for 
effective U.S. reassurances, k^/ 

The iiapact of these criticisms can be seen in the Working 
Group's final assessment of U.S. interests in Southeast Asia. In ex- 
plaining the need to consider a fall-back position^ the statement 
stressed the need m.erely to assess "the drawbacks" associated with 
it. jjsnding to this judgment vere admissions that "there is some 
chance that South Vietnam might come apart imder us whatever course 
of action ve p-uxsue" and "strong military action necessarily involves 
some risks of an enlarged and even conceivably major conflict in Asia." 
Then followed the statement: 

These problems force us to weight in our analysis the 
d rawbacks and p ossib ilities of success of various options ^ 
including the drawbacks of accepting only the fall-back 
objectives set forth below, (Underlining added) 

Missing was the earlier cLrafti's reference to potential costs and risks 
involved in pursuing cuj:*rent objectives- Missing also was any sugges- 
tion that the Adrainistration might find some advantage in seeking an 
alternative to these objectives. 50/ 

The Working Group went on to assess ^ in terms almost identical 
to those in the initia-1 draft ^ the likely consequence of Coruiiunist con- 
trol of South Vietnam for different world areas of interest to the 
United States. The- group sav^ important distinctions between the li}iely 
ii:iipact on U.S. interests in Asia end those in the world at large. For 
the latter 5 the most significant variable was seen as the degree to 
which adverse developments in Southeast Asia mdght produce domestic 
public revulsion against all U.S. comjiiitments overseas: 

"VJithin NATO (except for Greece and Turkey to some degree), 
the loss of South Vietnam probably would not shal^.e the faith 
and resolve to face the threat of ComEmunist aggression or con- 
fidence in us for major help. This is so provided we carried 
out e.ny military actions in Southeast Asia without taking 
forces from NATO and without generating a wave of "isolation- 
ism" in the U.S. In other areas of the world, either the 
natui^e of the Communist threat or the degree of U.S. commit- 
ment or both are so radically different than in Southeast Asia 
that it is lifficult to assess the iJApact, The question would 
be whether the U.S. was in fact able to go on with its present 
policies." 51/ '" " 

For Asia, other than Southeast Asia, the Working Group's assessment went 
as follows: 

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The effects in Asia generally -vjould depend heavily on 
the^circiL^nstances in T^hich South Vietnsi-n was lost sr.d on 
whether the loss did in fact greatly weaJcen or lead to the 
early loss of other areas in Southeast Asia. National 
China, 0.5 South Korea^^ and the Philippines would need 
maximum reassurance. While Japan's faith in our military 
posture and detemination might not be sha]<:en^ the growing 
feeling that Coiimunist China must somehow he lived with 
might well be accentuated. India and Iran appear to be the 
Asian problem cases outside the Far East, A^U.S. defeat 
could lead to serious repercussions in these countries. 
There is a great deal we" could still do to reassiire these 
co-untriesj but the picture of a defense line clearly breached 
could have serious effects and could easily^ over time, tend 
to unravel the whole Pacific and South Asian defense struc- 
tures. *' 52/ 

The consequences for Southeast Asia of CoiTHiunist control in 
South Vietnam were seen as highly differentiated and by no means auto- 
matic. The "domino theory" was viewed as "over-simplified." The 
Working Group felt that it might api^ly "if, but only if, Communist 
China... entered Southeast Asia in force and/or the United States was 
forced out of South Vietnam, in circumstances of military defeat." 
Nevertheless the group judged that "alifiost ixnmediately," Laos would 
^. become extremely hard to hold and Cambodia would be "bending sharply 

to tne Comnumist side." These developments were seen as placing great 
pressure on Thailand and encouraging Indonesia to increase its pressure 
on Malaysia. Thailand, it was noted, had "an historic tendency to malce 
peace with the side that seems to be win-ning," and Malaysia's "alr^eady 
serious Malay^Chinese problem" was cited. The Working Group concluded: 

We could do more in Thailand and with the British in 
Malaysia to reinforce the defense of these coujitries, the 
initial shock wave would be great..." 

This^ assessment was cuite close to that made in the 8 November di^aft in 
which Bundy had gone on to point out that even if we succeeded in over- 

^.T'^^f V^^ ^""^^^ "^^^^ ^^ Thailand and Malaysia, "the struggle would be 
upnill for a tim.e to come." But in neither case vras much credence 
placed in the domino theory. 53/ 

^ ^ ■ ^ It should be noted that Admiral Mustin and the JCS did not agree 
with this assessment. The Admiral commented that the JCS believed the 
so-.called domino theory ''to be the most realistic estimate for Cambodia 
ana Thailand, probably Burma, possibly Malaysia."- In the contex-t of - 
l?.te I90U, these nations were expected to colla-ose "plainly and simply 
as the corollary to our withdrawal." 54/ Accordingly, a specific no- 
tation of the differing view-point of the JCS was placed in the Working 
Group's final report. 55/ 

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In s^crnvmarising its assessment of the consequences of Corfimujiist 
control in Soutii Vietnam^ the Working Group stated: 

"There are enough *ifs^ in the above analysis so that it 
cannot oe concluded that the loss of South Vietnam vould soon 
have" the totally crippling effect in Southeast Asia and Asia 
generally that the loss of Berlin touM have in Europe; "but it 
could be that bad, dr^iving us to the progressive loss of other 
areas or to taking a stand at some point /so that/ there would 
almost certainly be a major conflict and perhaps the great risk 
of nuclear var." 56/ 

- b, E^/olution of Options , The alternative courses of action 
perceived by the Working Group went through a fairly rapid evolution. 
" As conceived by Chairman Bundy and John McKaughton, who apparently 
collaborated in their initial formulation , the options would offer a 
wide range of m_ilitary actions and diplomatic postures. As the views 
of other members and interested officials were expressed, and as it 
becaiae more apparent how little flexibility was perceived with respect 
to national objectives, subtle changes occurred. The effect was to 
narrow somewhat the range of 'effects which the different options might 
achieve and to tend to blui- the distinctions between them. However, 
the process occurred so early in the life of the Woz^king Group that it 
is difficult to pin-point the changes and somewhat presumptuous, relying 
only on docum.entary evidence, to explain them. 

The perceived options were three in nuniber, labeled A, B, and 
C. Option A essentially' was a continuation of military and naval actions 
currently underv/ay-or previously authorized, to include prompt reprisals 
for attacks on U.S. facilities or other VC ''spectaculars" in South 
Vietnam., These were to be accompanied by continued resistance to a 
negotiated settlement unless stringent preconditions, aiiiounting to 
agreem.ent to abide by U.S. interpretations of the Geneva Accords, were 
met. Option B consisted of current policies plus a systematic program 
of progressively heavy military pressures against North Vietnam, to be 
continued until current objectives were met. Negotiations were to be 
resisted, as in "A," although to be entered ultmately, but they were to 
be carried on in conjunction with continued bombing attacks. Option C 
combined current policies with (l) additional -- but somewhat m-ilder — 
military pressures against North Vietnam and (2) a declared willingness 
to negotiate. Once negotiations were begun _, the m^ilitaz-y pressures ^rere 
to stop, although the threat to resume was to be kept alive. 


In a general sense, these distinct ior.s remained constant through- 
out the Working Group's effort. However, subtle changes occurred. In 
the initial conception of "B, " it was perceived as "m^eshing at some point 
with negotiations," based on an underlying assmTiption that negotiations 
would probably be unavoidable. 57/ The full analysis of this earliest 
form of "B". (discussed more fully later) makes it clear that some kind 
of international discussions %rould probably begin fairly early and con- 
tinue as the intensity of our military -pressures mounted, ^3 / Moreover, 

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it is evident that these m-essm:es would he applied deliberately to permit 
evaluation of results at each step. Yet^ the initial form of "B" was in- 
tended to embrace high intensity options — in McTIaughton * s terminology, 
a "full squeeze." It will be recalled from the discussions earlier in 
the fall^ that this term was applied to graduated operations that included 
mining harbors, bombing bridges and LOG targets and eventually attacking 
industries. 59/ As Option B developed, ho\7ever, it became associated vrith 
prolonged resistance to a negotiated settlement o 60/ Moreovei-, although 
the intensity of the military operations it embraced reraained about the 
saiae, they were perceived as being applied at a faster, less flexible pace. 
For example, in a comment about this option on 1^ November, Adjniral Must in 


,c^ • 

"...while the Joint Chiefs of Staff offer the capability 
for pursuing Option "b" as defined, they have not explicitly 
recommended that the operations be conducted on a basis 
necessarily that inflexibleo All implementing plans. . .would 
permit suspension v^henever desired "oy national authority." 61/ 

Perceptions of Option C became more like "B," Initially, the 
additional pressures in "C" were conceived as "additional forceful measures 
and military moves." 62/ They included such operations as extension of 
the current ariiied escort of reconnaissance flights in Laos to full-fledged 
armed route reconnaissance -- gradually leading to similar attacks against 
infiltration routes in the southern border regions of North Vietnejn. The 
initial Option C also provided for authori^^ation of the already planned 
for cross-border ground operations in Laos and possibly in Cambodia. By 
8 November, hovrever, the pressure -cox-tion of this option was perceived as 
(1) including eventual attacks against other-than- infiltration targets in 
North Vietnam and (2) giving "the impression of a steady deliberate 
approach," the pace of which could be quickened if necessary. Moreover, 
in this later development of "c," the U.S. negotiating position would be 
to insist from the outset on full acceptance of the cu-rrent U.S. objectives. 
Initially this position would incorporate certain additional bargaining 
elements that couJLd drop out in the course of discussion^ 63/ 

This m^odification of the pressure and negotiation aspects of "c" 
led other m.embers of the Working Group to express reservations. Robert 
Johnson stated that this "proposed stiffer version" was little different 
from "B." He argued that the^only real differences now were (l) a 
declared willingness to negotiate and (2) our unwillingness under "C" 
to carry the action through to its ultiraate conclusions." He cautioned 
that the new version was xinlikely to produce the hoped for adve-Jitages of 
"pure C" and that it could convince the Commiinists that our negotiatory 
spirit was not sincere, ck/ Enclosed with his comments were the views 
of the CIA member, who also believed there would be confusion between "B" 
and the new "C" "- particularly as observed 'oy the DRV. Other reser- 
vations were expressed by Assistant Secretary McNaughton, who ux-ged that 
the proposed pace of the new "C" be slowed do^m. This vrould be accomplished 
by dividing the additional pressure operations into distinct phases, with 

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only the armed reconnaissance in Laos as part of the first phase. The 
OSD representative also urged not yielding to pressmres to participate 
in a Geneva conference until after several military actions had been 
taken against the DRV. 65/ Of all the reservations stated above, only 
the last (delaying Geneva participation) vas reflected in subsequent 
descriptions of Option C, 

„ „ ^^Even Option A was altered to sorae e>rtent. The main emphasis for 
A -continued to be the currently adopted policies. At some time prior 
to 3 November (when the final analysis was" drafted) , interest was sho-jn 
in an extended A«" This version retained the policy of resisting nego- 
tiations in hope that the situation would improve, but it incorporated 
low-level pressure actions akin to the early stages of "C." The type 
and intensity of the actions "would vary in direct proportion to our 
success in convincing the world and our o^m public of the truth about 
Hanoi s support, direction and control of the VC." It miglit begin with 
armed reconnaissance in Laos, include greater naval activity along the 
coast, and gradually phase into strikes against LOG targets in North 
Vietnam. In terns of military actions alone, extended "A" resem;oled 
closely the initial version of "C." However, it was conceded that even 
an extended Option A did not offer a very promising means for moving 
toward negotiations. 66/ 

Why did these changes take place? The available documentary 
materials do not make this entirely clear. One factor which may hcve 
influenced the modifications in all three of the options was recognition 
of -Che problem of conflicting signals that could result from reprisal 
actions. If reprisals were designed to be forceful and punitive and 
intended to m^atch the seriousness of VC provocations, they might be so 
strong as to interfere with the messages'" to Hanoi which it was originally 
intended would be conveyed by the graduated pressures. Indeed, it was 
pointed^ out that operations orders already developed by CUTCPAC for 
retaliations in response to attacks on DE SOTO Patrols (should they be 
resumed) were "of magnitude which would not be politically viable" except 
under extremely serious provocations. 67/ Moreover, it was feared that 
improperly orchestrated reprisals m^ight create undue international 
pressui^es for negotiations that could upset the negotiating strategy 
appropriate for the selected option. 68^/" 

it^^Y^ A^ s.nd "B" may have been altered as a result of changes 
made in C." The objections raised to the new "C" may have encouraged ' 
Chairman Bujidy to include an extended "A" that iras closer in the military 
sense to his and Mcllaughton's original concept of graduated pressures. 
Moreoever, it had been pointed out that the same negotiating' situations 
seen as appropriate for "c" (to include discussions of Laos and/or 
Cambodia as well as South Vietnam) could also apply to eventual negotia- 
tions arrived at through "A." 69/ Besides, with the stiffening of the 
C^ negotiating formula, the distinctions between the respective bar- 
gaming positions for "A" and "C" had become somewhat blui*red. Or)tion B's 

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fa-ster pace in its later versions may have been an attempt to maJce a 
clear distinction between it and the new "C." Use of the term 
"fast /full squeeze" in reference to Option B began concurrently with 
descriptions of the stiff er version of Option C. 70 / 

In addition^ it is possible that the emphasis on a fast-paced 
"B," with its harsher measures, was motivated in part by a desire to 
maJie this option unattractive to higher authority. This may explain the 
rather perplexed tone of the previously cited Mustin comment comparing 
the JCS and Working Group approaches. Other than the JOS member, most 
of the Working Group members appear to have favored less intensive 
pressu-res than those being advocated by the military. Despite a sense 
of high stakes in Southeast Asia, which ^^as shared by several members 
and other interested officials, many of these persons did not want the 
United States to plunge ahead with deeply committing actions as long as 
there was some doubt about the GW^s durability and commitment. 7l/ 

ITot incompatible with the foregoing argument is a possible 
additional explanation for the stiffening of Option C. As U.S. objec- 
tives came to be viewed somewhat less flexibly, it is possible that 
dominant elements in the Working Group thought it advisable to make 
"C" into a tougher position. There is little question that Option C 
was the natural heir of the concept of graduated pressures coupled v/ith 
a negotiated settlement advocated at several points earlier in the year. 
Several of the Working Group members had been instrumiental in shaping 
those proposals and were quite naturally attached to them conceptually. 
L^ow, advocates of the graduated approach were confronted with: (l) 
greater pressures from the JCS and their lil^e-thinkers in the Congress; 
(2) recognition of little flexibility among Administration officials 
regarding interpretations of national interest and objectives; and (3) 
an increasingly critical situation in South Vietnajii. It is likely that 
that these individuals viewed it necessary to stiffen their preferred 
approach in order to improve its compatibility with the cui^rent policy 

Whatever the reasons, the options for review and discussions 
were somewhat more closely alike than the original conceptions had beeno 
Option A provided for intensified efforts to improve the situation in 
South Vietncoii and for somewhat intensified militer'y actions in line with 
current policy. Inside South Vietnam it provided for rmprovements in 
the GWI administrative performance and for strengthening different ele- 
ments of the pacification program. These internal actions were stressed 
as necessary regardless of v/hatever other measures were decided on^ 
Option A' s provisions for measures outside the coimtry included: (l) . 
continuing and increasing the GTxV s covert maritime harassment program; 
(a) resuming the DE SOTO Patrol operations; (3) increasing the scope of 
Laotian T-28 attacks on infiltration targets in Laos and (U) when feasible 5 
undertaking small-scale cross-border GVi'I ground and air operations into 

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the Laotian Panhandle. The option also included individual U.S. reprisal 
actions ^'not only against such incidents as the Gu3.f of Tonkin attacks 
but also against any recurrence of VC 'spectaculars' such as Bien Moao" 
The aim of these actions would be to deter repetitions of and to punish 
for such actions in South Yletmm^ "but not to a degree that would 
create strong international negotiating pressu3-es." 

Basic to Option A was its provision for "continued rejection of 
negotiation in the hope that the situation vill improve." However ;, it 
included recognition that "the GW itself, or individual South Vietnaraese 
^ in potentially powerful positions" might initiate "discussions with Ha.noi 

or the Liberation Front." If a coalition governLaent were thus arranged, 
the Working Group believed, the odds were that it would eventually "be 
f taken over by the Coinirainist element." In the event of such discussions, 

I the U.S. response under Option A might be either (l) "stand aside," thus 

disassociating the United" States fra-a such a settlement, or (2) "seek to 
cover a retreat hy accepting negotiations" thj-ough something like a 
Geneva conference, irhich might buy additional tione. 72/' 

* ' Option B provided for everything included in "A" plus a program 

I i • of U.S. military pressm-es against Horth Vietnam. These were to con- 
tinue "at a fairly rapid pace and without interruption" imtil the DRV 
agreed to stop supporting and directing the war in South Vietnam and 
Laos. The pressures were to begin with attacks on infiltration targets 
and increase in intensity; however, the option included provision that 
an early attack on Phuc Yen airfield and certain key bridges in the 
northern part of North Vietnam might be required "to reduce the chances 
of DRV interference with the soectrum of actions" that were contemplated. 

Although our public position on negotiations would be "totally 
inflexible" under Option B, it provided for recognition of the need to 
negotiate eventually. Under B, this would occur simultaneously with a 
continuation and escalation of the pressures and would be based on 
"inflexible insistence on our present objectives." Im evert he less, "B" 
aclmowledged the need "to deal with channels of /international/ communi- 
cation, the UK, and perhaps -- despite our strong opposition -- a 
reconvened Geneva Conference of some sort" even before we agreed to 
enter into settlement taU^s. Moreover, while resisting negotiations, 
the option provided for (l) making "the strongest possible public case 
. of the importance, increase, end present intolerable level of DRV in- 
filtration" and (2) "strengthexning the pictirre of a military situation 
in South Vietnam requiring the application of systematic military force o "73^ 

Option C provided for every rcilitary action included in "A" plus 
"gz*aduated military moves against infiltration targets, first in. Laos and 
then in the DRV, and then against other targets in North Vietnam." The 
air strikes on infiltration routes v/ithin North Vietnam were to be pre- 
ceded by low-level reconnaissaaice flights over, the sa:Ene genera.l areao 
Advantage was seen in initiating such measui^es "following either additional 

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VC ^spectaculars' or at least strong additional evidence of major infil- 
tration," Moreover^ Ootion C made provision for the rossiMlity of 

I'll" "" 

maximg a significant groxmd deployinent to the northern pajrt of South 

Vietnam, either in the foriii of a U.S. corahat force or a SEATO-raernbers 
force as an additional bargaining counter. In any event, "C" was 
intended to give the impression of a steady deliberate approach" and 

designed to give the U.So the option at any tiine to proceed or not, to 
escalate or not, oxid to quicken the pace or not." 

In C, ' military pressures were to be accor:ipanied by "communi- 
cations with Hanoi and/or Peiping" indicating in essence "a willingness 
to negotiate in an affirm^ative sense." From the outset "we vrould be... 
accepting the possibility that we might not achieve our full objectives." 
Accordingly, the concept for "C" included provision for an initial nego- 
tiating ^position that added "certain bargaining elements" to the basic 
U.So ob^jecoives. Once negotiations started the military pressures would 
cease. ^As in "B," these would be preceded by a vigorous program of 
public information efforts and political consultations with Congressional 
leader s^ and foreign allies, surfacing information on DRV infiltration and 
explaining our rationale for action. The latter would be "that doci.imented 
DRy illegal infiltration of armed and trained insurgents, and over-all 
DRV direction and control of VC insxu'gency, had now reached en intolerable 
level and that it was no^; necessary to hit at the infiltration. .« and to 
bring pressure on Hanoi to cease this infiltration and direction." Th/ 

^^ ^ggjjj-ca nce of N egotiations. One of the most significant 
aspects of the NSC VJorking Group ^s anal-yses was its emphasis on a 
negotiated settlement as the final outcome of contemplated U.S. actions. 
Regardless of the option selected or the pressure actions employed, inter- 
ncotional negotiations in some form were perceived as the- means by which 
the situation in Southeast Asia would ultimately be relieved. Even in 
the event of a unilateral CTIT or a South Vietnamese splinter negotiation 
with the NLF, under circumstances of a relatively shallow U.S. commit- 
ment (Option A), negotiation under a Geneva format was regarded as a 
preferable outcome. 75/ However, it is also clear that a parallel aim 
was to insure that pressures on behalf of such negotiations did not be- 
come compelling before the U.S. bargaining position could be improved. 

Also significant is the fact that the kind of settlement which 
was seen as the piu-pose of negotiation was one which woiad end North 
Vietnam's participation in the conflicts in Southeast Asia -- and con- 
currently, also end the United States' direct participation (as it was 
in 19o4) in those conflicts. In view of the prevalent Administration 
perception of North Vietnam as instigator and aggressor in the conflict ■ 
withm South Vietnajii, it is ironic that the Working Group's considera- 
tions of^a negotiated settlement did not include the problems of a poli- 
tical settlement in the South. In the available source materials, this 
subject was^ raised only once and even then was not dealt with further. 
The^.one instance was in the conte:'ct of Robert Johnson's analysis of 
Option B. In it he pointed out that if a fully successful "b" negotiation 

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resulted (one in \ih±oh the DHV in fact coraplied with our demands to the 
extent that we ceased our pressure actions) "we would then have to 
consider, . .vrhether or not to maiie com-oromises — such aS;, for example. 
accepo less than perfection for international supervisory mechanism^ 
agree to permit the KLF to become a legitimate political party in the 
South, or agree to political consultations between GW and DEV." jG/ 
In other words ^ at the level of the 1-Jorking Group's analysis, the 
political stakes for which the game in Vietnam was really being played 
and Lhe very powerful and relevant cards held by the DRV and the VC 
were not really considered. To continue the analogy, the Working Group 
concerned itself only with the various opening bids the United States 
might make in order to achieve a position from which it could attempt 
a finesse. 

The main problem apparently recognised by the Working Group 
was that, given its current" objectives, the United States had few bar- 
gaining points with which to negotiate- In essence, it was primarily 
to fill this lack that many group members and Administration officials 
favored initiation of direct m.ilitary pressures against North Vietnam. 
To some, bombing attacks were something that might then be removed as 
an inducement for the DRV to stoo or to reduce its support of the mili- 
tary operations, in South Vietnam^ and Laos. To others, such vigorous 
measures might at least ser\re as a demonstration of U.S. resolve to 
combat external aggression but also as a screen behind which to extract 
ourselves should the situation in South Vietnam deteriorate further. 

Gaining maxiiaum bargaining advantage from the military measures 
contemplated under each of the options was one of the major emphases in 
the Working Group's analyses. For example, under "A," emphasis was 
placed on obtaining moximum leverage from exploiting the thereat of 
fiirther escalation — to be demonstrated prirnarily through reprisal 
actions and deplo;^naents. Under "B, " a similar kind of psychological 
leverage was to be achieved through the clearly ascending nature of 
the ac Lions, particularly if some^ii^ie were permitted to assess resuJ,ts« 
Under "C," the effect v/as to be achieved by the combined effects of 
(1) meximising the threat of im-oending escalation after each graduated 
and carefully paced step and (2) minimdz-ing the Communist governments' 
problems of "face" as they moved toward negotiation. 77/ 

It was the recognised lack of sti^ong ba^rgaining points that led 
the Working Group to consider the introduction of ground forces into the 
northern provinces of South Vietnam. In advancing this proposal, the 
State Policy Planning Council member pointed out that "whatever the 
stated U.S. intpntions," the Corrimunists wouJ-d probably expect to put an 
end to all air and naval attacks on Ilorth Vietnam merely by agreeing to 
enter negotiations, in that event, he pointed out, the United States 
could not use these pressures (or the promised relief from them) as a ■ 
bargaining counter during negotiations. If ground forces were deployed 
prior ^ to an obvious need to combat invading enemy troops, this dis- 
position could be used as such a counter. Their deployment "would, 

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moreover J carry with it the threat of siibsequent air and naval attacks 
against North VietnaTiU And," he continued, "threat may he as important 
as execution. • .in producing desired Communist reactionso" 78/ 

Although initially advocated as a val/iable bargaining piece 
for all the options, the concept of deploying ground forces for this 
purpose became associated .Tvith Options A or C. In the case, it 
vas urged with recognition that "A" offered little leverage for bargain- 
ing other than hoped for improvement in the GW's internal administration 
and pacification efforts « For "C" it v/as perceived much in the sense in 
which it was originally proposed -- serving as an additional negotiating 
ploy before it might be needed as an operational military capacity. Such 
a force was seen as taking either of two forms: (l) a U.S. combat force, 
probably of division strength, or (2) a force composed of contingents 
from certain SEATO members (Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Thailand and 
the Philippines). Interesting, in view of subsequent events, is the fact 
that participation by South Korea and the Republic of China specifically 
was not to be sought c (This may also have been significant of the Ad- 
ministration's tendency at the time to view Communist China as co-insti- 
gator of the Vietna:iiese aggression.) The contemplated ground force 
deployment also was seen as serving some auxiliary functions: (l) to 
deter DRV ground force deplo;>a-iients into South Vietnaia; (2) by taking 
blocking positions, to reduce the infiltration into the South through 
Laos; and (3) (in the case of the multi-national force) to improve the 
international pict-ure of oui^ actions in South Vietnam by virtue of 
visible international participation. ^^ 

As stated previously, the prim-ary bargaining element in Option B 
was the application of clearly ascending military strikes against North 
VietnaiHo These would be halted only in return for dauonstrated DRV com- 
pliance with demands that it stop supporting and directing military 
operations in South Vietneja and Laos." It was pointed out that DRV 
compliance under pressu_re would be tantamount to surrender. Further, 
if we insisted that compliance include calling off all acts of VC 
terrorism and of resistance to pacification efforts in South Vietnam, 
it would mean "virtual unconditional surrender." 80/ To obtain such 
high stakes, the group recognised that intensive pressures would be re- 
quired. However, it also recognised that the combination of extreme 
demands and hsjrsh actions would be most lilcely to produce adverse inter- 
national reaction and increased pres suites for an early cease-fire and 

The basic political objective perceived for Option B was to 
"prevent international, consideration. . .from interfering with ouj: contfnu- 
ing pressures against the DRV until the DRV has taken the actions we 
desire of it." In view of the expected demands for an early cease-fire, 
it \icis believed advisable to present the U.S. case in the United Nations 
at the time "b" military operations were initiated. This, it was felt, 
would channel some of the international pressui-es into a controlled 


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environiiient where the ensuing discussions vould likely consume considerable 
tlTne. Moreover^ taJcing such initiatives would avoid the defensive postui'e 
that the United States would be placed in if our military actions were 
introduced for condemnatory purposes "by another government. The Worlving 
Group stressed tliat under Option B, the United States should firmly resist 
a Geneva-type conference lontil it had chtaixied assurances of DRV compli- 
ance with its demands. Should the pressiores for negotiation become too 
fox^aidable to resist and discussions begin before a Coimaunist agreement to 
comply, it was stressed that the United States should define its negotia- 
ting position "in a way v?hich makes Comramiist acceptance unlikely/' in 
this manner it would be made "very likely that the conference would brealc 
up rather rapidly," thus enabling our military pressui^es to be resumed. 3l/ 

The only option that provided for bargaining in the usual sense 
of the word was Option C. The'^Working Group intended that with the initia- 
tion of this option and the U.S. declaration of willingness to negotiate, 
the Administration vionld have embarked on a bargaining course. In the 
group's view, we vrould stick to our full objectives at the outset "but 
we would have to accept the possibility that, as the whole situation 
developed, we might not achieve those full objectives unless ve were pre- 
pared to take the greater risks envisaged under Option B." In such cir- 
cuiiistsnces, it acknowledged, "it might become desirable to settle for less 
than complete assurances on ouj: key objectives." 82/ . - 

Accepting in principle the possible need to compromise the initial 
U.Sc position under Option C, 'the Working Group specified a som.ewhat 
hardened definition of that position. The initial negotiating objective 
("the complete termination of DRV support to the insurgency...") was 
refined to specify that it incorporated three ftLndanientals: (a) that the 
DRV cease its assistance to and direction of the VC; (b) that an indepen- 
dent and secure GVIT be reestablished; and (c) that there be adequate 
internatioxial siipervising machinery'." Specific areas of "give" for the 
bargaining process were identified as the question of free elections and 
the degree of verification we would require., The group further provided 
that during negotiations the intensity with which the United States would 
pursue its initial objectives would vary with the extent of improveraent 
within the GW. If the situation in South Vietnam got better the United 
States would press harder for acceptance of its initial position. If the 
situation grew worse, "we would have to decide whether to intensify our 
militajry actions, modify oior negotiating positions, or both." 83 / 

Because of a declared willingness to negotiate from the outset, 
the approach to a negotiating situation under Option C was viewed by the 
Working Group as considerably different from that under Option B. Whereas, 
in the latter case it was believed that the IM would provide the most 
useful medium for discussions, the preferred approach under Option C was 
through a Geneva-type meeting. The channels, both direct and indirect^ 
to Hanoi were not believed useful for negotiating purposes. Although po- 
tentially helpful in relaying impressions of current attitudes and 
negotiating positions in Hanoi and Peking, the Soviet goverrjraent was not 

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seen as a. useful negotiating intermediary. The Ull Tvas viewed as present- 
ing a special problem "because of the approaching annual issue of Corcrnujiist 
Chinese membership. For this reason the Working Group felt that it \vould 
not provide an effective negotiating forum until late February or March 
1965, although it acloio^Aledged the necessity of presenting the U.S. case 
before the Security Covmcil. In view of these considerations the Working 
Group viewed it most desirable to yield to the expected pressures for a 
Geneva conference -- but only af1:er conducting "a niB-ber of military 
actions against the DRV." 8^/ 

d. Perceived Reactions to Options. The Working Group evaluated 
the relative advantages and disadvantates of the three options and con- 
cluded that Option C provided the most promising co-urse of action. The 
evaluation 7ras based on thjree general criteria: (l) likely reactions of 
allied and non-aligned foreign governments; (2) reactions within South 
Vietnam; and (3) effectiveness in bringing desired responses from the 
Communist government. With, respect to the firsts the group reported: 

Option A would cause no adverse reactions but if it failed 
it would leave a considerable after-taste of U.S. failui-e and 
ineptitude; Option B would run major risks of sharply exjjressed 
condemnation^ which \^ould be erased only if the course of action 
succeeded qtiite clearly and in reasoxnable time; Option C would 
probably be in between in both respects." 

With respect to the remaining criteria, Option A seemed likely to achieve 
I little more than buying some time^ and in some respects it appeared 

I coimterproductive. While Option B was viewed as standing "a greater 

I chance than either of the other two of attaining our objectives," it 

i also was seen as running "considerably higher risks of major military 

1 conflict with Hanoi and possibly CoPTramist China," On balance, Option C 

was considered "more controllable and less risky of major military action" 
than "B" and more likely "to achieve at least part of our objectives" than 
, "A." 85/ 

The Working Group reported that Option A appeared to offer "little 
I . hope of getting Hanoi out or an independent South Victnajn re-established." 

It was recognised that the actions included in this option could not 
physically affect the extent of infiltration from the North and would not 
be likely to affect Ha:aoi's determination to continue its policies. At 
best,, the group believed, "they might... keep the DRV from engaging in 
further spectaculars, end thus keep the scale of the conflict in the south 
within some limits." However, Option A was conceded little chance of con- 
tributing to an improved GW, in the short period of additional time its 
effects might possibly make available. The group recognized sagging morale 
and doubts concerning U.S. intentions as the "miost immediate problem" in 
South Vietnejn. Several mambers felt that without further U.S. actions, 
political collapse was imminent -- that to add only reprisals for VC 
spectaculars might lift m,orale immediately thereafter, as in the case of 

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the Tonlcin Gulf reprisals ^^ but \-rould not have lasting effect. At best, 
under "A," it was believed that the gradual deterioration in the country- 
side of South Vietnam vould continue. 86/ 

Although the Working Group viewed a decision to continue Option A 
indefinitely as ruling out either "B" or "C/^ it did suggest the possi- 
bility of extending "A" to its limits and gradually phasing into opera- 
tions like those in Option C- It vas suggested that this might, over 
time, generate "favorable, or at least not unfavorable," domestic and 
international reaction which along with the increasing cost of gradual 
disruption in North Vietnam might cause Hanoi to slow down its infiltra- 
tion. However, the result of this process, at best, would be a gradual 
ixiprovement of the UcS. position without advancement toward a meaningful 
settlem.ent. 8?/ Lacking a deliberate attempt to phase into something 
like "C," Option A was viewed as "an indefinite course of action." As 
such, its "sole advantages" Mere seen as: 

"(a) defeat would be clearly due to GW failure, and 
we ourselves would be less implicated than if we tried 
Option B or Option C, and failed ; 

"(b) the most lilcely result would be a Vietnamese- 
negotiated deal, under which an eventually unified 
Comraujiist Vietnam would reassert its traditional hos- 
. tility to Comm.unist China and limit its own axabitions ' ^ 

to Laos and Cambodia." 88/ 

The group's assessment went on to indicate that should this occur, Thai- 
land would likely conclude that "we simply could not be counted on, and 
would accommodate somehow to Communist China even without any m.arked 
military move by Communist China." 89/ 

The Working Group reported that the actions in Option B offered 
a number of unique advantages relative to the other options: 

"1» Option B probably stands a greater chance than 
either of the other two of s/ctaining our objectives 
vis-a-vis Hanoi and a settlem.ent in South Vietnam. 


2. Our display of real muscle in action would un- 
doubtedly have a salutary effect on the morale of the 
rest of non-Comim-ujiist Asia, 


3. The course of military events vls-a-vis Corrjaunist 
China mi ght give us a defensible case to destroy the Chinese 
Cor'nnunist nuclear production capability." 90/ 

However Option B was also seen to present some unique problems 
and to possibly lead to some ur^desirable resu_lts. For example, most of 


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the gi-^oup believed Option B would risk an impairinent of the ''U.S. stand- 
ing in ^ the MTO and Eui^opean fr aine^/rork/' The option v?as believed likely 
to produce a major conflict and these effects Tvere seen as quite probable 
if it produced anything less than an early and completely satisfactory 
outcoaie. ' 91/ ?roblems were also perceived at home. It vas pointed 
out that Buy U. S. -initiated military pressures against lM"orth Vietnam 
should be consistent with the provisions of the Joint Congressional 
Resolution passed following the Tonkin Gulf incidents ;, but that Option B 

would be difficult to Justify under the authorities cited in this resolu- 

"Characterizing the use of force in the context of this 
alternative as a legitimate exercise of the right of indi- 
vidual or collective self-defense in response to an "armed 
attack" from the North would be a major public relations 

Moreover, given the pace and likely intensity of escalation in tliis option, 
it was suggested that "the constitutional prerogatives of the Congress, 
for exaraple, to declare war /would/ become pertinent." 92/ 

As seen by the Working Group the most disturbing aspect of 
Option B was its almost irreversible comm-itment to a major military 
effort, the ultimate naturce of which v/as difficult to predict. That 
Hanoi would yield to U.S. demands at an early stage of "b" was considered 
mlikely. The chances were considered "significantly greater" that the 
DRV would retaliate, either by air attacks on the South or a ground offen- 
sive either in Laos or into South Vietnam. It was considered most likely. 
however, that Hanoi would continue to hold firm, thus requiring the United 
States to "up the ante militarily." With further increases in our mili- 
tary pressm-e, the group argued, "the odds would necessarily start to 
increase that Hanoi. ., would either start to yield by some real actions 
to cut dovm, or would m^ove itself to a more drastic military response o" 
The Working Group then cautioned: 

We could find ourselves di^awn into a situation where 
such militai^y actions as eji amphibious landing in the DRV 

proposed as one of ovir further actions -" m^oved us very 
far toward continuing occupation of DRV soil. Alternatively, 
the volimie of international noise. . .could reach the point 
where, in the interest of our world-wide objectives, we would 
have to consider accepting a negotiation on terms that would 
relatively but not necessarily be wholly favorable to the 
attaimnent of our fvll objectives." 93/ 

Option C was particularly attractive to the Working Group because 
it^was believed to be more controllable and, therefore, less deeply com- 
mitting than "Bo" Moreover, in the event of a GM collaT^se (recognized 
«-^ ^- danger under all of the options), the group argued, "our having talien 
ger measures would still leave us a good deal better off than under 

8^S ti 


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Op-cion A vith respect to the confidence and willingiiess to stajid firm of 
tne na-Gions in the next line of defense in Asia." 9V 

-r--^^™ i'T->it 

,r It ^"^? reactions to "c" expected by the ¥ori:ing Group differed 
irom^ B primarily as a result of the U.S. negotiating posture. The 
iniTGial strikes against targets in Korth Vietnen vera seen as a "first ' 
break-pointj marking the beginning of major international pressures for 
negotiation. Communist reactions to the early pressures were regarded 
as little different from "B," Some chance of a military response vas 
I conceded, but it was thought more likely that the DSY would "hold firm 

. , wnile s-cimulating condemnation of /the United States/ by world opinion, 

^Z'J^t,^^' ^®g°^iations, take a tough position/' Under "C," however, 
jf> j.r "^'°^^^ vould not necessarily be an immediate increase in pressure. 
It bne GTiT situation had improved "we would try to capitalise on /it/ 
.^.by pressing harder for acceptance of om- initial negotiating position." 
: erring success, the pressures would continue,- and the Working Groun 

I ! ^^'^^SJi'^^'^ '^^^'^ '^^'^ likely dragging out of the wai' at this point would 

probably^ lead to a resuaption of deteriorating trends in South Vietnam. 
iu suated: m this case, we would have to decide whether to intensify 
I ■ °^ toilioary actions, modify oui- negotiating positions or both." If 

"the ^"^ '^^^•^'" ^^easures were increased at this point it was expected that 

t, wou_La be a progi^essively increasing chance of major Cornmvinist 
maiiT^ary^ response," such as those considered imder "bJ' If the U.S. 
negooiaoing position were modified at this point, the group perceived 
V ^ gor proolem, in that key na,tlons on both sides would suspect that 

I 'dri^?'^ getting ready for a way out." Therefore, it suggested that 

aaditionai military actions, possibly including greater deplo;vTnents to 
boutneasc Asia, would need to accompajiy the modifying moves. 95/ 

The major disadvantages of Option C acknowledged by the Working 
thrunn'-e~^^ tendency to "stretch-out" the confrontation and ejcpose 

■_ 1 2d S-cates to an increasing variety of pressures and criticism. 
i-or example, the group acknowledged that GW morale and effectiveness 
were likely^ to suffer at several Doints in the course of the options: 
{1) upon initial U.S. agreement to enter negotiations; (2) as it became 
Clear tnat the war was dragging on; end (3) with modification of the 
U.S. negotiating position. It also recognized several measures that 
the Lomi-nunists might take during a prolonged, indecisive period to 
reduce our initial advantage: (l) imnroving air defenses in Korth 
Vietnam; (2) deploying Chinese ground forces southward; and (3) hard- 
ening their propaganda. While increasing the enemy's public coBimitment 
to its current line of policy, these measures wo^old not seri'-e as clear 
acts of escalation. 96/ 

_, . ihese difficuj.ties and other uncertainties encom-oassed by 
Opoion C illustrate the intensity with which most members^ of the NSC 
f WoriLing Group wanted the United States to courile limited military com- 

^ir'r^^f. Tr^i f, ^"-°S°ti^-ted settlement to relieve oui- position in Yietnajn. 
ihe fact tnat tne group judged "c" as preferable to "A" o.- "b," despHe 
Its rather obvious inherent problems makes this evident. (One might also 

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have viewed it as evidence that United States policy in Southeast Asia 
vas fraught vith real contradictions o ) For exexiple^ the one feature 
that gave Option "c" its most distinctive character --- early -willingness 
■ to negotiate v.-ithout the concurrent effects of continually mounting 
military pressures -- >ras its most uncertain aspect. This particular 
part of the analysis was revised twice between the finaJ. drafting of 
the group's findings and their consideration by the Principals, More- 
over^ the Working Group had received at least one informed judg?iient 
to the effect that, given Hanoi's high stakes in South Vietnam and its 
perceived opportunity to deal the United States a major blow, the DRV 
would not be likely to negotiate in response to any of the options. 97/ 
On the eve of the initial meeting with the Principals, Chaiman Buncly 
called early negotiations "the least satisfactory part of the present 
script." In particular it was recognised as diffictat to "keep up our 
show of determination and at the same tirr^e listen for nibbles," 98/ 

In many respects Option C seems to have been favored primarily 
for what it incorporated -- for the means it employed -- rather than 
for what it might achieve. It certainly was not presented as an opti- 
m-istic^ alternative. Under "C,." the group perceived that "at best/., 
the DRV might feign compliance and settle for an opportunity to subvert 
the South another day." This stood in marked contrast to what it per- 
ceived as the "at best" outcome of "B," namely that Hanoi "might be 
ready to sit doi-m and work out a settlement in some form that vrauld give 
a restoration of the 19511 agreements," hopefully with firmer guarantees. 
Moreover, with "c, " the group believed that in between the best ami 
worst, the United States "m^ight be faced with no improvement 
in the internal South Vietnam situation and with the difficult decision 
whether to escalate on up to m.aJor conflict with China." 99/ This kind 
of outcome^ promised little more than the group perceived as available 
through "A" -^ and without the additional commitment of national pres- 
tige and military force. But it was an outcome readily perceivable 
from a policy that clung tenaciously to rather major objectives but was 
reticent to accept miajor risks. 

5' Zi£^s From Outside the IJSC Working C-rouo 

While the NSC Working Grour) vras 7)reparing its findings for sub- 
mission uo tne Principals, other sou::ces of influential opinion were 
comraunicating their view^s to these individuals. In addition, it is im- 
portant to ^ consider that members of the VJorking Group w^ere m.ost liliely 
communicating their respective impressions of group progress to the 
principal official in the agencies they represented^ Thus, William 
Bundy no doubt shared ideas with Secretary' Rusk; John McNaughton with 
Secretary McNai^i-njra; Harold Ford with CM Dii^ector McCone; and Admiral" 
Mustm with General Wheeler, Some of these Principals no doubt had 
injected particular ideas into the group's deliberations. Whatever the 
source, these high officials were exposed to a variety of suggestions and 
viewpoints before reacting directly to the Working Group's submissions. 

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The follo-i^fing sections deal i/ith tvo rather significant sources 
of ideas v;hose co^iitnunications reached Secretary KclTajnara. However^ their 
vievs were knovm to other rriembers of the Principals Group as well^ 
through the normal interde-oartmental coordination procedures. These 
proposals are significant also "because of their rather contending view- . 
points on the subject of U.S. courses of action. 

^* JCS Views. On four different occasions during the period of 
the Working Group's existence, the JOS submitted forma], proposals for 
direct military strikes against North Vietnamese targets. On each 
occasion they took pains to remind the Secretary of Defense and other 
readers of their earlier recommendation for a preferred coui^se of action, 
which involved a systematic pattern of air attacks on major targets <> 

On 1^4 November, t-/o such recorrjnendations were made. One was 
intended to bring about expansion of the GVN's covert operations, to in- 
clude "air strikes by ura-aarked aircraft" of the VliAF. It specified that 
these vrere to be "separate and distinct from larger (more decisive) air 
strilLe actions recommended. . .on 1 November I96U." The JCS stated that 
such smaller attacks would be useful in: (l) continuing the pressure on 
the DRV; (2) encom-aging GW leaders; (3) providing useful air defense 
data; and (h) demonstrating patterns of DKV/Chinese reactions that could 
be helpful in planning larger operations c lOO/ The other recommendations 
caxie in response to Secretary McNamara's request to examine possible 
DRV/CHICOM military reactions to U.S. air strikes against North Vietnam. 
In a^nswer, they discussed various Comjnunist military alternatives and 
UcSo means to cormter them, and they described what they viewed as the 
most likely enemy reactions. These, they felt, would be primarily in 
the propaganda and diplomatic spheres because of what was perceived as 
China's general reluctance to become directly involved in conflict with 
the United States „ In addition, the JCS repeated their recomiuendations 
of k November (with respect to the VC attacks on Bien Hoa) as retaliatory 
actions equally applicable to any other serious provocations. They went 
on to recorjmend deployments "to iLiprove capabilities to conduct the 
program of air strikes" recamiiended on k November 196^. 101/ 

Four days later they submitted another proposal, in response 
to Secretary McNamara's interest in a possible progrEnn of graduated U«S. 
pressures against North Vietna^n. This possibility was described as 
"a controlled progre^^i of systematically increased military pressures 
against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (BRY) applied in coordina- 
tion 'v7ith appropriate political pressures." (interestingly, the Secre- 
tary's interest was exrjressed on the sajne day as McNaughton's reactions 
to the draft analysis of Option C.) The JCS referred to their statements 
of k ezid. ik November,, describing their preferred course of action for- 
causing the DRV "to cease supporting and directing the insi:u?gencies" in 
South Vietnam and Lao3« Eoireverp they also proi^osed an alternative 
series, of specific actions, "should a controlled program of system.atically 
Increased pressures. . .be directed," Moreover, they recommended a set of 
operational objectives which they termed "appropriate" for such a gradu- 
ated program, as follovrs: 

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a-c Signal the villingness and determination of the 
United States to employ increasing force in support of... an 
maependent and stable noncoramunist government in RW and 
a free and neutral Laos 

I "^, 

0. Reduce 5 progressively, DRV support of the ins-ur- 
gencies in RW:" and Laos to the extent necessary to tip the 

balance clearly in favor of the Governments of RW and Laos 

(l) Reduction of the amount of support available 
through destruction of men, material, and 
supporting facilities;-. 

\2) .../and/ through diversion of DRV resoui'ces to 



increased homeland defenses and alerts; and 

"(3) Reduction of the rate of delivery of available 
support through destruction of bridges and 
other LOG choice points... and through interrup- 
tion of m_ovements, ... 

c. RLnish the DRV for DRV-supported military actions 
by the Viet Cong/Pathet Lao. . . . 

"d. Terminate the conflict in Laos and RVjM only under 
conditions vhich vould result in the achievement of U.S. 
objectives." 102/' 

The final JCS proposal to be submitted relative to the "courses 
of action" debate in November 196^ came in direct response to the IISO 
Working Group's draft papers, circulated to interested agencies for 
comment on I7 IJovember. 103/ Criticising the group's assessment of U.So 
staiies and^ interests, the JCS called Southeast Asia "an area of major 
strategic importance to the United States, the loss of ^faloh would lead 
to grave political and military consequences in the entire Western 
Pacific, and to serious political consequences irorld-wide." They reit- 
erated their v±e\r that the best probability of success in attaining the 
currently recognized U.S. objectives in that region would be "by achiev- 
ing the prerequisite objective of causing the cessation of DRV support 
and direction of the insurgencies in RVl^' and Laos." lOU/ 

Tne JCS also criticiired the three options described by the Work- 
ing Group and outlined five alternatives to them, in six ascending order 
of intensity: . • ' 

1. Terminate 'coimnitments in South Vietnam and Laos and withdraw 
as gracefully as possible. The JCS called this "implicit in the content 
of the NSC Working Group paper but... not clearly identified as a separate 
and distinct option." 

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2. Continue actions contained within present policies , includ 
ing reprisals for VC provocations. The JCS identified this as the 
group^'^s Option A but stated that the added demands it placed on the DEV 
were not commensurate with those imposed by DRV or RW." In essence, 
they agreed with the Working Group's evaluation that this alternative ■ 
would neither accomiolish oui^ objectives nor alleviate the critical 
situation in South Vietnam. 

^3. Undertalvs graduated military and political initiatives to 
apply additional pressures against the DRV, 

without necessarily determining in advance to what 
degree we will commit oui^selves to achieve our ob- 
jectives, or at what point we might stop to nego- 
tiate, or what our negotiating objectives might bCo 

_^ . . ^- Undertake a "controlled program" of graduated military and 

political pressui^es, based on an "advanced decision to continue military 
pressures, if necessary, to the full limits of what military actions cai: 
contribute toward U.S. national objectives." The JCS called this "a 
variejit and logical extension" of Option C and cited their proposal of 
18 November as a detailed description of it. 

5» Undertake a "controlled program of intense military pres- 
siox-es. . .designed to have major military and psychological irapact from 
■ the outset, and accom.pejiied by appropriate political pressures." The 
I JCS offered this alternative in 'lieu of the Working Group's Option B 

, which they stated "is not a valid formulation of any authoritative 

views known to the JCS." In ^articular, they specified that their in- 
( I tensive program vjould 

be undertaken on the basis that it \vould be carried 
through, if necessary, to the full lii^it of what 
militejry actions can contribute towai-'d national ob- 
jectives- it would be designed, however, for sus- 
pension shoz't of those limits if objectives were 
earlier achieved c 

Fqv a full description of this alternative, they referred to their -oro- 
posal of ik liovember. 105/ 

Of the five alternatives, the JCS stated their be_Uef that only 
the last two offered "a probability of achieving /Jui^rent U.S^/ objectives." 

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S+pr -^°" ^° Pi^oviding foi^ stronger, more determined actions, these 
nabives also provided for sizeable force build-ups that "should 

tionabr'' i?''^^^°'' °^ "•^- resolve less likely." Option C w,s objec- 
militar-^ ~v.'"'^f^^ "^i^^^ because it did 'not permit "a clear set of agreed 
as dev'l^ ODjecti/es" and because it provided for "the contingency that 
les- II ''^^^^"-^ ^i^e analysed, it may be thought expedient to settle for 
1=5 i> n^^ ^°^Plete achievement of our objectives for RYE and Laos." it 
stret I'f' "^° ^'^^^'^ '''^^""^ ^^ outlining the last two options, the JOS 

mode oTAclSral^?: '^'i''' '^°^ "controlled" programs. 106/ In the 
^ ^. ' xxcLx i'iusoin s memorandUiHj referred to earlier^ they vere 
mo-e ^JJ..'';^?'^t'^"^^^P"^^-ng to combat the Working Group's inferences that the 
It" is fe±^i^~''~^ actions which the JCS advocated were not controllable. 
f^v-fi-'OT^.^^n^-'^ clear that group members favoring Option C had tagged the 

exoiem.e Opcion B vith a JCS label. 


desj<Tned £2£!i2}lJVie^. Whereas the JCS emphasized damaging actions, 
their ca^^^VvT"^^"^ Hanoi's will be destroying a significant portion of 
eimph^sit'^ h^ 1 ^^^"^"^ Rostov; urged a different approach. In his view^ 
commitm-nt t ^^^"^ '^^^^ placed on signalling to Hanoi and Peking oxn: 

-ron-v^r.---^*!' rP ^^^ ^^^^ vast resources to whatever extent required to 
reins oaue p^'P-Poo+^-t- t j, i ^ 

• ^J^iectively tne provisions of the 195^+ and I962 Geneva Accords 

Rostov ^ ' .-"^"^^^^^"f^ "to military moves most useful for this parpose, 
thouo-ht^°™''"T^^^^^^^ *° Secretary McNanara his concern that "too much 
enough tv^ tl^^^^ ^^^"^^ *° *^*^ actual damage we do in the Horth, not 
similar '^°^fu '^° ^^"^ signal we wish to send." Outlining a concept 
addit-'o-iol' i ^^-"^'^-iest Option C, he urged that the initial use of . 
mH-nol/ against Eorth Vietnam "should be as limited and unsan- 
gumary as possible" and that it 

should be designed merely to install the principl 
that _/the mV/ will, from the present forward, be 
vulnerable to. . .attack. . .for continued violations 
of the 1954 and I962 Accords. In other words, we 
vould signal a shift from the principle involved 
m the Tonkin Gulf response." 10? / 

addi'-ion^i"'''^?^'"^^"^^' ^^ ^^^ view, would be the signals communicated by 
Dlovine r q^'~ ""^ Cloves in the Southeast Asia region. He ui-ged de- 
fo^Pc; ■ - +^^°""*^ forces to South Vietnam and large-scale retaliatory 
comnt-/\'° i Western Pacific. Besides their value as a bargaining 
'N,.e ^7" ' ^°^'^°"-'^ saw a ground force coim-flitment as a clear signal that 
mounr on'^th"^^^*^^' ^° m^°° *^°"'^ ^"^ ^°^^'^ °^ escalation Horth Vietneai migl 
Dossib-T-^ ?^r^"'^"" ^^^ argu-ed that such a move would rule out "the" 
the li^ / +^ ^^'^'^ Communists/ radically extending their position on 
+ ho f° . "^'^-^ "^^^^ °'^ air and naval damage alone." He stated that 

the increased retaliatory forces would signal: 

-Lnaojfe are putting in place a capacity subsequently 
"to step up direct and naval pressure on the north, 

' * 

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if that should "be required; /and/ that ve are putting 
forces into place to exact retaliation directly against 
Coiniaunist China, if peiping should join in an escalator^ 
response from Hanoi." 103/ * " ■ 

The "broader context of Rostov's views on military actions vas 

described for Secretary Rusk on the eve of the first meeting of the 

Principals to discuss the Working Group findings. Stating his agreement 

with those portions of the latest intelligence estimate which stressed 

the Asian Communist powers' desire not to become involved in a direct 

conflict with the United States, he framed the ''most basic'' U.S. problem 
as f'ol 1 OT-T.q . 

as follovj 

"...ho^ to persuade /the Commvoiists/ that a continuation 
of their present policy will risk major destruction in 
Korth Viet Ram; that a preemptive move on the ground as 
a prelude to negotiation will be met by U.S. strength on 
the ground; and that Communist China will not be a sanc- 
tuary if it assists Korth Viet T^am in counter-escalation." 

He then. repeated his prescription of military moves earlier urged on 
Secretary McNamara. However' he stressed that these moves would not;, 

in themselves, constitute a decisive signal." V.ore significant in 
Communist eyes, he felt, would be signals to ansv^er the question. 

Is the President of the United States deeply committed 
to reinstalling the 195^-62 Accords; or is he putting on 
a demonstration of force that would save face for, essen- 
tially a U.S. Dolitical defeat at a diplomatic conference?" 

In Rostow^s view, the Commtinists would not accept a setback until 
they were absolutely certain that the United States really meant business 
— an assessment that could only come as a result of firm public comiait- 
ments on the part of the President and a-opropriate follow- through actions « 
He stated: 

,*'I have no doubt we have the capacity to achieve a rein- 
stallation of the 195^-1962 Accords if we enter the exercise 
with the same determination and staying power that we entered 
the long test on Berlin and the short test on the Cuba 
■ missiles. But it will take that kind of Presidential commit- 
ment and staying power." 

Acknowleding that- the kind of conflict we faced lent itself to prolonged 
uncertainties and that the Commujiists could pretend to call off the 
guerrilla war, only to revive it again, he stressed the need to maintain 
pressijre on them for some time. The installation of ground forces and a. 
non- sanguinary" naval blockade were suggested as particularly useful for 

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ohis purpose. Eostov urged trying "to gear this i;hole operation with 
the best counterinsurgency effort ve can mount vith our Vietnamese 
friends... and not withdraw U.S. forces from Viet Kam until the war is 
truly under control." lio/ . , ■ ' 

In closing, Hostow outlined a scenario of action that would 
follow from the kind of Presidential decision described above. This 
would include, in sequence: 

(1) Immediate movement of relevant forces to the Pacific. 

(2) Immediate direct communication to Hanoi. . .including 
a clear statement of the limits of cur objectives 
but our absolute commitment to them, 

(3) Should this first coinmianication fail (as is likely) 
installation of o-ur ground forces and naval blockade, 
plus first attack in North, to be accompanied hy 
publication /of a report on infiltration/ and Presi- 
dential speech. Ill/ 

Thus, m their communications to senior officials in the latter half of 
November, both Walt Rostow and the JCS stressed a similar point. Al- 
though advocating different solutions, they both emphasized that the 
Aamxnistration could not expect to dissuade Hanoi and Peking from con- 
tinued pursuit of the DRV's moortsnt and strongly-held echini tments 
IPS "^^ ^^^^^ correspondingly" strong commitments to resist them. The 
JCS, for their ovm reasons, sought to avoid a commitment of ground 
forces to Vietnam ejid argued instead for punitive air and naval actions, 
liostow felt that by forceful and meaningful demonstrations of national 
resolve, including the commitment of ground forces to South Vietnam, 
direct use of force against the Commimist nations need be minimal. 


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The efforts of the KSC Working Group. were intended to "be completed 
in preparation for a major policy review late in November 196U. Plans 
were made for /embassador Taylor to retm^n to Washin^on from Saigon to 
join in a series of strategy meetings. The expectations were that the 
meetings would result in a Presidential action order to supersede the 
one issued following the high-level conference in September (KSiM 31^) . 

Meetings with the President were scheduled for the week following 
Thanksgiving, when he retui^ned from his working holiday at the ranch. 
Preljoninary meetings between Ambassador Taylor and the principal officials 
from agencies with national security interests in Southeast Asia were 
held during the preceding weekend, 27-29 November. The whole episode 
took place amid widespread speculation that a major policy change was 
imminent and rumors that Taylor had returned to insist on the bombing 
of infiltration targets in North Vietnam and Laos. Public and Congress- 
ional speculation ran so high on the eve of the meetings that the White 
House and State Department sought to dampen it with statements that 
Taylor's reported comments "were not policy" and that his return did not 
mean that "any great, horrendous decision" would result. 112/ 

1- Pe actions of Principals to Workin.g; Group Analyses 

Before their meetings with Taylor and the President, the Prin- 
cipals in Washington met to consider the Working Group's findings and 
to assess the major issues affecting future U.S. courses of action. Just 
prior to their initial gathering, on 2k November, William Bundy had for- 
warded a list of questions and comments pertaining to the Working Group's 
findings, and these served as a kind of agenda. Included were such issues 
as: (1) whether the relative advantages among the three options were 
actually as evident as the group had found; (2) whether or not the papers' 
assessment of U.S. stakes in Southeast Asia should be revised in the di- 
rection of JCS attitudes; (3) whether the actions associated with the 
various options could in fact be carried out to achieve the results ex- 
pected; and (k) whether a deployment of ground forces to South Vietnam 
would in fact provide any advantages. 113/ (TAB A) 

a. Consensus Aniong NSC O fficials . As the Principals meeting 
opened, Secretary Rusk raised an issue that was high among A.dministration 
concerns -- nam.ely that the i^jnerican public was worried about the chaos 
in the GTO, and particularly with respect to its viability as an object 
of an increased U.S. commitment. Secretary McNamara and General Wheeler 
conceded the piopriety of this concern but warned that the situation in 
the GVl^j would only get v/orse if additional steps were not taken to reverse 
present trends. Husk then presented a question which seem.ed basic to the 

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whole rationale for contemplated U.S. courses of action. He asked 
whether the situation in South Vietnam could he improved in time to 
save it if the DRV were now to withdraw its support. CIA Director 
McCone conceded that the VC would still have plenty of capability 
remaining but expressed the view that the situation could be coped 
with from the standpoint of internal security criteria. At this point 
Under Secretary of State George Ball asked if bombing North Vietnam 
could improve the situation in South Vietnam directly. McKamara re- 
plied that it could not unless the bombing actually cut down the infil- 
tration into the South. After agreeing with a Rusk comment that the 
struggle would be a long one, even with the DRV out of it, the group 
reached consensus that South Vietnam could be made secure, provided the 
Saigon government could maintain itself. llA/ This was the first of 
several major policy Judgments reached in the course of the meeting. 

Other points of clear consensus (with no more than a single 
dissenting opinion) were as follows: 

(2) That the situation in South Vietnam would deteri- 
( " orate further under Option A even with reprisals, 

but that there was a "significant ch3.nce" that the 
II . actions proposed under "B" or "C" would result in 

an improved GVN performance and "make possible" an 
'I ' -, improved seciirity situation (George Ball indicated 

doubt ) . 

(3) That any negotiating outcome under Option A (with 
■ or without U.S. negotiating participation) probably 

would be clearly vrorse than under Option B or C. 

(k) That it was doubtful (contrary to the view expressed 
in the V/orking Group papers) that Option B would 
have the best chance of achieving the full U.S. ob- 
jectives (General Wheeler expressed agreem.ent with 
the Working Group statement) « 

(5) That the requirement of Option C, "that we maintain 
a credible threat of major action while at the same 
tifiie seeking to negotiate," could be carried out 
despite acknowledged public pressures. 

(6) That the Administration could safely assume that 
■ - South Vietnam could "only come apart for morale 

reasons, and not in a military sense," as a result 
of intensified VC effort. 

(7) That early military actions against ITorth Vietnam 
xinder Option C should be determined, but low in 
scale -- that at this stage, strong damaging actions 

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should be limited to reprisals (General Wheeler dis- 
sentedj stating that our losses might "be higher in 
the long run vith such an approach) . 

(8) That the loss of South Vietnam vould "be more serious 
than stated in Section II of the Working Group's 
draft papers and that the Admnistration' s assess- 
ment should be revised at least in the direction of 
the JCS vieirpoint (George Ball argued against this 
Judgment) . 115/ 

The context of the Principals' discussion of this last point 
contained some significant expressions of opinion. Secretary Rusk stated 
the vie"vrpoint that the confidence of other nations in the United States 
would be affected by the loss of South Yietnexi despite their possible 
indifference to the political struggle in Southeast Asia. He added that 
if vre did nothing to affect the course of events" in VietnaiTi it would 
have the effect of giving more to de Gaulle. However, Rusk did not accept 
the Working Group's rationale that we would obtain international credit 
merely for trying. In his view^ the harder we tried and then failed^ the 
worse our situation woul.d be. McGeorge Bundy disagreed with this last 
point, except to acknowledge that to attempt something like Option B and 
then quit would clearly be damaging. Secretary McllEmara seemed to support 
the (McGeorge) Bundy view, stating that "B^' followed by failure would 
clearly be worse than Option C followed by a compromise settlement. 
George Ball expressed strong agreement with the last Husk point, saying 
that de Gaulle would portray us as being foolish and reiterating that the 
damage to U.S. prestige would be worse if we tried either "B" or "C" and 
failed. General Wheeler stated the opinion that to do little or nothing 
at this point would be an act of bad faith. Mr. McCone pointed out a 
perpetual dilemma if the Administration continued to act despite South 
Vietnamese deterioration; hence, he urged great care. Il6 / 

It is interesting to note the views and associations of the two 
occasional dissenters in the series of consensus judgments rendered by 
the Principals. General Wheeler, Chairman of the JCS, expressed viev7- 
points consistent throughout with the recorded JCS views on future courses 
of action. On the other hand, George Ball, Under Secretary of State, had 
no obvious jurisdictional or institutional influences to affect his judg- 
ments. Nevertheless, known to Administration observers as "the devil's 
advocate," he had developed something of a reputation as an independent 
thinker. At about the time of the Working Group deliberations, for 
example, he developed a paper suggesting U.S. diploma^tic strategy in the 
event of an imminent GVIn collapse. In it, he advocated working thj:ough 
the U.K., who would in tujrn seek cooperation from the USSR, in arranging 
an international conference (of smaller proportions than those at Geneva) 
at which to work out a compromise political settlement for South Vietnam. 
117 / In addition. Ball's prevalent occupation with European affairs may 
have influenced him to view Southeast Asia as of lesser importance to the 
U.S. . national Interest. 

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^- Views Lacking Consens-us * Also discussed at the 2^ NovemlDer 
Principals meeting vera several issues on "which consensus was not reached. 
Host of these related to immediate U.S. actions that would need to be 
taken irrespective of the option selected^ or to problems faced in carry- 
ing out a particular option. Since earlier a.^reements had indicated 
- little interest in Option A, only "b'' sjad "C" were exacained further. 

Discussions of Option B dealt primarily with questions of the 
intensity of blows that might be struck at North Vietnam. With respect 
to whether DRV airfields should be struck early or as a part of a more 
gradual sequence. General Wheeler pointed out that early strilies on air- 
fields were what made '"b" operations so different. It was these strikes 
at potential DRV capabilities to interfere with U.S. attacks, or to 
retaliate, that made systematic, intensive air operations possible. In 
response to a specific question from the Working Group, the possibility 

j I ^'^ using nuclear weapons was also discussed. Secretary McITamara stated 

that he could not imagine a case where they vrould be considered. McGeorge 
Bundy observed that under certain circumstances there might be great 
pressure for their use both from the military and from certain political 
circles. General Wheeler stated that he would not normally vote for their 

I I "^se -- never, for example, in an interdiction role. However, he suggested 

. • that they might be considered in e:d:remis -- for example, to hold off 

an enemy to save a force threatened with destruction, or to knock out a 
I special target like a nuclear weapons facility. In response to Secretary 

Rusk^s query as to their potential for cordoning off an area, both 
Mcilamara and Wheeler answered- negatively. 118 / 

Discussions of Option C dealt with the problem of early negotia- 
tions and, at greater length, with that of deploying ground forces to 
South Vietnam. On the former, there was little interchange noted in the 
proceedings. Despite the Working Group's admitted frustration vrith this 
particular issue, only two Principals' comments were recorded. McGeorge 
Bundy stated the view that we should let negotiations come into play 
slowly. Secretary Rusk expressed concern that the GVI'^ would be very 
sensitive on the issue of a negotiating conference. Earlier, however, 
he indicated his opinion that pressure for a conference would not be a 
serious problem as long as military actions continued. II9 / 

On the issue of sending groiind forces to South Vietnam in the 
early stages of Option C, there was no firm conclusion. Secretary 
Mclvsmara stated that there was no military requirement for ground forces 
and that he would prefer a massive air deployment. In response to 
General Wheeler's suggestion that some groimd forces could be justified 
for air defense and base sec-ority purposes, he acknowledged that "we 
might do both.'' Mr. McCone stated the opinion that U.S. ground, forces 
would help stabilize South Vietnam, similar to their effect on Lebanon 
in 1958. They might even provide a general security force in the South. 
McNamara^ disagreed. Secretary Rusk and McGeorge Bundy suggested their 
utility in proving a "preemptive effect," presimaably to deter North 
/^^ Vietnamese offensive moves into the South. To this McCone added that 

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these forces might "be equipped in ways to show our determination. In 
the end, it was agreed to raise this issue with Ambassador Taylor, at 
the Principals next meeting. Significantly, the value of ground forces 
as a bargaining counter apparently was not discussed, thus providing 
one more indication of the Principals reticen-e to deal with the issue 
of negotiations. (it is interesting to note in this respect that 
William Eundy's memorandum, formally summarizing the points of consensus 
and disagreement, does not deal with the early negotiating problem -- 
despite its being a specific agenda item which he had suggested as 
Chairman of the Working Group.) 120 / 

The only basic issue between the options on which the Principals 
did not arrive at a consensus was the question of the relative risks of 
major conflict entailed by Options B and C. General Wheeler stated that 
there was less risk of a major conflict before achieving success under 
Option B than under Option C. Secretary McNamara believed the opposite 
to be true^ Secretary Rusk argued that if "B" were selected, there 
would be no chance to apply the JCS variant of "C," whereas under the 
Working Group's "C," this would still be left available. He observed 
that entry into the JCS variant of "C'' would feel something like the 
Cuban issile risis. McNamara then suggested a four -week program of 
actions following the general pattern of Option C. Mr. McCone stated 
that they sounded "fine," but that in his opinion the "negotiating mood" 
interfered with their potential effects. He agreed to attempt a paper 
to deal more directly with the relation of risk to likely success, as 
between the two options. In the end, the only conclusion that could be 
drawn was that there was not complete agreement that "b" ran a higher 
risk of major conflict than "C," as alleged by the Working Group. 121/ 

During the meeting of 2k llovember there vras no clear decision 
as to which option was favored by the Principals. It seems likely that 
"A" was favored by Ball. Wheeler clearly favored "B," and he may have 
had support from McCone, although this is far from clear. On the basis 
of either their participation in the Working Group or from statements of 
preference made at the meeting, it is clear that "c" was favored by 
McNamara, McIIaughton, Rusk, and the Bundy brothers. However McGeorge 
Bundy and Mcl^amara apparently preferred a "firm C," whereas the other 
three wanted a more restrained, incremental approach. 122/ 

^' Policy Views from Saigon . The saxie group of Principals 
that met on the 2hth re-assembled on 27 IIovem_ber for their first meet- 
ing with Ambassador Taylor. Present also was Michael Forrestal \rho had 
gone to Saigon to help prepare Taylor for the forthcoming strategy meet- 
ings and to apprise him of the Working Group efforts. 123/ Taylor led 
off with a prepared briefing on the current state of affairs within 
South Vietnam. 

Ambassador Taylor's estimate of the situation in South Vietnam 
was rather bleak. Confirming many of the assessments made v^eeks earlier 

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in intelligence estimates, he reported continued deterioration of the 
pacification program and continued weakness in the central government. 
The former v/as portrayed as. related to increased direction and support 
'" ' of VC operations from Hanoi and increasing VC strength despite "very 

heavy losses inflicted almost daily" by the AP.TO. Particular areas of 
concern were Identified as the area surrounding Saigon and the northern 
^ provinces, which were "now in deep trouble." Taylor related C-VIi weak- 

ly ness to political factionalism, mounting war weariness and hopelessness^ 

T "particiaarly in the urban areas," and a lack of "team play or mutual 

loyalty" among many central and provincial officials. Calling such 
chronic weakness "a critical liability to future pla.ns," he warned that 
^ lack of an effective central government caused U.S. efforts to assist 

\ South Vietnam to have little impact. IgU/ 

To alter the course of what Taylor called "a losing game in 
South Vietnam," he recommended three measiires: (l) "establish an adequate 
government'; (2) Improve the counterinsurgency effort; and (3) "persuade 
or force the DRV" to stop aiding and directing the insurgency. With 
respect ^ to the first, Taylor allowed that it was "hard to decide what is 
the minimum government which is necessary to permit reasonable hope" of • 
success. However, he stated: is hard to visualize our being willing to make 
added outlays of resources and to ruii increasing political 
risks without an allied government which, at least, can 
speal^:, for and to its people, can maintain law and order in 
the principal cities, can provide local protection for the 
vital military bases and Installations, can raise and sup- 
port Armed Forces, and can gear its efforts to those of the 
United States. Anything less than this vrould hardly be a 
government at all, and under such circumstances, the 
United States Governjnent might do better to carry fon^-^ard 
the war on a purely unilateral basis. 

With regard to the coionterins'jrgency effort, he opined, "We cannot do 
much better than what we are doing at present until the government 
improves." 125/ 

Ambassador Taylor saw U.S. military actions directed at the DRV 
■as fulfilling a twofold pijurpose. On the one hand, he believed that even if 
an effective government were established, "we will not succeed in the end 
unless we drive the DRV out of its reinforcing role and obtain its cooper- 
ation in bringing an end to the Viet Cong insurgency." On the other hand, 
he saw actions outside South Vietnam as a means to improve GVI'^ morale and 
confidence. Acknowledging that using our aid, advice and encouragement 
on behalf of programs to stabilize the government would probably be insuf- 
ficient for this purpose, he suggested additional measures: 

"One way to accomplish this lift of morale would be to 
increase the covert operations against Eorth Viet i^am by sea 

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and air and the coimterinfiltra.tion attacks within the Laotian 
corridor. While the former vould "be covert. . .knovrledge of 
their occurrence could be made known.. -to give the morale lift 
which is desired. Additionally we could engage in reprisal 
bombings, to repay outrageous acts of the Viet Cong in South 
. Viet ITam " 

However, he added that even all these actions might not be sufficient 
"to hold the present government upright," in which case we would have 
to reconsider our policies. Our alternatives, he said, would be either 
to support one fo3rm or another of a replacement governjnent or to "limit 
our contribution to military action directed at North Viet-Nam." 126 / 

In addition to the military actions already identified with 
morale-raising purposes, Taylor suggested: 

"...we could begin to escalate progressively by attack- 
ing appropriate targets in Tlorth Viet-Nam. If we justified 
our action primarily upon the need to reduce infiltration, 
it would be natural to direct these attacks on infiltration- 
related targets such as staging areas, training facilities, 
communications centers and the like.... In its final forms, 
this kind of attack could extend to the destruction of all 

(important fixed targets in north Viet-IIam and to the inter- 
diction of movement on all lines of communication. 12?/ 

i\mbassador Taylor's views regarding the circTjimstances under which 
such escalatory actions should be initiated were not entirely clear in his 
briefing to the Principals. After reiterating the "necessity of stepping 
up the 3^A operations, increasing those in Laos, and undertaking reprisals 
as part of the efforts to raise morale and strengthen the GTO, he stated 
two somewhat different, although not necessarily contradictory, vie^rpoints 
on the question of stronger military actions: 

"if this course of action is inadequate, and the govern- 
ment falls, then we must start over again or try a new 
approach.,,. In any case, we should be prepared for emer- 
gency military action against the Ilorth if only to shore up 
a collapsing situation. 

"if, on the other hand... the goverrjnent maintains and 
* proves itself 5 then >7e should be prepared to embark on a 
methodical prograau of mounting air attacks in order to 
accomplish our pressuTe objectives vis-a-vis the DRV.../* 

He then proposed a scenario for controlled escalation, the actions in which 
were quite similar to an extended Option A or a low-order Option C vrithout 
declared negotiating v;illingness. 128/ 

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.. ■'. ■ The impression is that Taylor visualized graduated air opera- 
tions having primarily psychological impact on the Uorth following 
logically from successful political efforts in the South — but that 
he also wanted an (perhaps somewhat stronger) air campaign held in 
readiness as a punitive measure in the event of a critical reversal in 
the South. This impression is strengthened by his earlier comment 
about U.S. alternatives and by the second of "three principles" which 
he recoKimended to the Principals: 


a. Do not enter into negotiations until the DRV is 

"b. Never let the DRV gain a victory in South Vlet-lTam 
without having paid a disproportionate price. 

c. Keep the GVI\' in the forefront of the combat and the 
negotiations." 129/ 

Involving the GVM in all phases of our operations was an im- 
portant aspect of the i\mbassador * s thinking about next courses of action 
He stressed that before making a final decision on the co'orse we vrould 
follow^ it would be necessary to obtain the reactions of Prime Minister 
Huong and General Khanh to our various alternatives. He explained: 

They will be taking on risks as great or greater than 
ours so that they have a right to a serious hearing. V7e 
should make every effort to get them to ask our help in 
expanding the war. If they decline, we shall have to re- 
■ think the whole situation." 

If^ as is likely, they urge \is^" Taylor added, we should take advantage 
of their ^ enthusiasm "to nail down certain important points" on which we 
want their agreement. Included were (PJJl pledges to maintain military 
and police strength, to replace incompetent officials, and to suppres 
disorder and agreements to stipulated divisions of responsibility for 
conducting military operations". I30/ 

Taylor's briefing made clear his commitment to limited U.S. ob- 
jectives in Southeast Asia and his believe in the necessity of assuring 
the DRV of this limitation. Further, he made explicit his expectation 
that the DRV would not accept U. So offensive actions without some inten- 
sified military reaction in the South and that any DRV submission to our 
demands might well be temporary. 

d- Discussions with Ambassador Taylo r. Following the briefing, 
the Principals commented on a number of the Ambassador's observations 
and discussed fijrther the question of future courses of action. Secretary 
Rusk^ asked what could be done to make the GVII perform better. ' Taylor 
replied that he must be able to convey a strong message but that we 



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couldn't threaten the Saigon government* For exexrple^ a threat to 
"withdra^'7 unless" would be "quite a gamble." The issue of neutralism 
was raised and "Ambassador Taylor noted that 'neutralism* as it existed 
in Saigon appeared to mean throwing the internal political situation 
open and thus inviting Communist participation," Mr. Ball observed 
that a neutralist state could not be maintained unless the VC were 
defeated and that the GW must continue to be free to receive external 
aid until that occurred. Therefore, "neutralism in the sense of with- 
drawal of external assistance" did not seem to be a hopeful alternative. 
In apparent reply to Taylor's briefing comments to the effect that the 
United States might continue military action against North Vietnam de- 
spite a GVi'T collapse 5 Rusk commented that he "couldn't see a unilateral 
war" in this event. Taylor indicated that he meant "only punitive 
actions." Secretary McNamara agreed with Rusk, but added that if the ■ 
GVTJ continued to vreaken we would need to try Option C or A. "The con- 
sensus was that it was hard to visualize continuing in these circum- 
stances /if the GVIT collapsed or told us to get out/, but that the 
choice must certainly be avoided if at all possible." 131 / 

After a discussion of some of the administrative problems in • 
the GVIT, "/\mbassador Taylor noted that General Westmoreland had pre- 
pared a report of the military situation" in South Vietnam. (The 
report was later distributed to the group.) He indicated that 
"Westmoreland was generally more optimistic than he (Taylor)" and that 
he saw better morale, increased defections and the like as signs of 
i improvement in the military situation. Further, he stated that 

Westmoreland would be inclined to wait six months before taking further 
actions in order to have a firmer base for them. However, Taylor added 
that "he himself did not believe that we could count on the situation 
holding together that long, and that we must do something sooner than 
this." Secretary McRamara also disagreed with Westmoreland's view, 
expressing doubts that the military situation would improve. In answer 
to specific questions, McNamara stated his opinions that (l) no, the 
political situation would not become stronger, but (2) yes, we would 
be justified in undertaking Option C even if the political situation 
did not improve. Taylor replied that "stronger action would definitely 
have a favorable effect" in South Vietnam, "but he was not sure this 
would be enough really to improve the situation." Others, including 
McNamara, agreed with Taylor's evaluation, but the Secretary added that 

("the strengthening effect of Option C could at least buy time, possibly 
measured in years." 132/ 

i I . ' Ambassador Taylor then urged that "over the next two months 

we adopt a progre^u of Option A plus the first stages of Option C." 
He argued that the GVN was badly in need of some "pu.lmotor treatment," 
that any other alternative would probably result in a worsened situation 
— perhaps militarily, lie added that the likelihood of GW. improvement 
seemed so doubtful that "we should move into C right away." Secretary 
Rusk asked if Option C would give Taylor the "bargaining leverage" 

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needed with the GWi. The /onbassador replied by suggesting certain details 
of the message he would propose passing to the Saigon government. In 
effect these called for the Gm: to agree, to the kind of internal policies 
and command arrangements suggested in his briefing, in return for a 
prompt U.S. implementation of "Option A plus" and acknowledgment of the 
intention to go further if the GVII stabilized itself. 133 / It is im- 
portant to note that the official m-emorandum of the foregoing discussion 
implies agreement among the Principals that Option A plus early stages 
of C should be recommended. The memorandum states , "It vras urged that 
... and to get what improvements we could it was thought that we sho^old 
move into some parts of C soon." 

There followed a discussion of the infiltration evidence, during 
which Ilr. McCone indicated that an intelligence team had made a further 
investigation of it. 

It was agreed that State and Defense should check state- 
ments made by Secretary Rusk, Secretary McKamara, and General 
Wheeler on this subject, so that these could be related to 
the previous IvIACV and other estimates and a full explanation 
developed of how these earlier estimates had been made and 
why they had been wrong in the light of fiaier evidence." 13^/ 

Before the meeting adjourned (with agreement to meet again the 
next day), Ambassador Taylor raised a number of questions which he 
thought the Working Group papers had not covered adequately (TAB B). 
Only a few received answers during the meeting, and he agreed to furnish 
the Principals with the complete list. However, it was indicated that 
Option B or C could be initiated from a "standing start" -- presumably 
with no incidents necessarily occurring first. The GViM -were acknowledged 
to have "plenty of capabilities" to participate -- even before arriving 
at the intended four- squadron strength of A-1 aircraft. It was stressed 
that the VIIAF role would be in North Vietnajai only -- not in Laos -- and 
Secretary McrTsjnara indicated a strong role for them against targets below 
the 19th Parallel. Finally, a time-span of three to six months was indi- 
cated as the expected duration for Option C. 135/ 

On the following day, when the Principals reassem.bled, William 
Bundy circulated a di-aft scenario of actions proposed in the event a 
decision were made to undertake measures like those contained in Option A. 
It had been agreed at the end of the initial meeting that these would 
be reviewed by the group with the assumption that they could be imple- 
mented "with or without a decision to move into the full Option C program 
at some time thereafter." 136/ (it is important to note how readily the 
attention of the Principals focused on the similarity of preparatory 
auctions and early military m-easures in the various options, apparently 
without regard to the pai-ticular negotiating rationale which each option 
incorporated.) Bmidy's scenario of early military, political and diplo- 
matic actions vras based on a similar assumption "that a decision is or 
^s ^Q^ /going to be/ taken to go on w4th Option C thereafter if Hanoi does 

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not bend or the GVE come apart," He indicated, hov^ever, that the Working 
Group believed "that at least a contingent decision to go on is now re- 
quired." To facilitate discussion on the part of the Principals^ work- 
sheets indicating proposed language or procedures were distributed, to 
include the following action categories. 13? / 

1* U.S. public action 

a. White House statement following 1 December m^eeting 

b. Background briefing on infiltration 

c. Congressional consultation 
ci. Major Presidential speech 

e. Public report on infiltration 

2. Consultation with the CW. 

3. Consultation with key allies 

h. Coramuni cat ions with CoiHmunist nations 

5' Existing forms of military actions (including recon- 
naissance and RMP strikes in Laos, GVU maritime 
operations, etc) 

6, Reprisal actions resulting from DE SOTO Patrols and 


7* Added military and other actions 

Certain of these topics received more attention than others in 
the coiirse of the meeting, with emphasis being placed on "spelling out" 
the exact steps that the Principals would be asking the President to 
approve. With respect to actions aim.ed at the U.S. public, McGeorge 
Bundy stressed that the Presidential speech must both (l) affirm U.S. 
determination and (P) be consistent with the infiltration evidence. 
General Wheeler stated that earlier infiltration reports could be defended 
because of their small data base and suggested that the discrepancies 
could be used to explain how the VC operated. It was determined that one 
man should be put in charge of assembling the available infiltration data 
for public release, and Chester^ Cooper was suggested for the job. With 
respect to coordination with the GVI-I, Ambassador Taylor pointed out the 
need to prepare a draft statement to the G'/l^I for the President's review 
and agreed to prepare a table of the specific GW actions needed. 
Secretary Rusk acknowledged the possible desirability of delaying until 
GYi}l leadership issues were resolved, but that "anything now would cause 
problems." Mr. Ball reminded that it vrauld be necessary to query the . 
GVk regarding release of som-e of the infiltration evidence. 133/ 

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Military and other related actions vere also discussed: 
Secretary Rusk indicated the need to surface the GW maritime operations, 
and Ambassador Taylor suggested that they and other morale-raising ac- 
tions could he m_ade public "in one package." In discussing the possible 
need for additional airfields in the northern part of South Vietnam, it 
vas pointed out that a new jet field might take two years. Secretary 
Mci^Tamara said he thought there v:ere enough fields to support Option C 
novr if certain readily accessible improvements were added. He and the 
generals (Wheeler and Taylor) reminded the group that stopping the move- 
ment of U.S. dependents to South Vietnam or withdrawing those already 
there could not be concealed and that this problen must be resolved 
promptly -- certainly within the initial. 30 days. Taylor cautioned that 
actions regarding dependents could not be takien until our full co^arse 
was decided, presuraably because of potential GVIT fears of a U.S. with- 
drawal. The question of resumed DS SOTO Patrols was raised with the 
reminder that CIKCPAC wanted them for intelligence purposes. Taylor, 
McNamara and McGeorge Bundy opposed the idea, while General Wheeler 
strongly supported it. Notes'^of the meeting indicate resolution to the 
effect that the patrols should not be resumed diuring the first 30-day 
period. It was also agreed to recommend joint U.S/GVil planning of 
reprisal actions and of further escalatory measures. 139 / 

At some point during the meeting it was determined that Williejn 
Bundy would undertake preparation of a draft national security action 
paper containing policy guidance for the approaching period. The paper 
was to describe the strategic concept, outline the actions to be taken 
during the initial 30-day period, and indicate likely follow-on measures 
and the conditions under which they might be Implemented. It was decided 
that the paper would be reviewed at another meeting of the Principals on 
30 November, before submission to the President. A White House meeting 
had been scheduled for the following day. iko / 

On the afternoon of the 30th, in Secretary Rusk's conference 
room, the Principals met again. Bundy 's draft paper had been distri- 
buted to them earlier after being generally approved (re format) by Rusk 
and reviewed for substance by Messrs. McITaughton and Forrestal. 1J4I/ 

In describing the basic concept, the paper presented U.S., objec- 
tives as "unchanged," although giving prnnary emphasis to our aimis in 
.South Vietnam. However, getting the DRV to remove its support and direc- 
tion from the insurgency in the South, and obtaining their cooperation 
in ending VC operations there, were listed among the basic objectives 
-- not presented as a strategy for attaining them. The objectives were 
to be pursued in the first 30 days by measure^ including those contained 
in Option A^ plus U.S. armed route reconnaissance operations in Laos, 
tfhey were linked with Am.bassaior Taylor's rationale that these actions 
would be intended primarily ""to help GW morale and to increase the costs 
and strain on Hanoi." The concept also included Taylor's emphasis on 

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pressing the GWi to mal^e Itselx'* more effective and to push forvard its 
pacification efforts. For the period beyond the first 30 days^ the - 
concept provided that 

".. .f list-phase actions may "be continued ^/ithout chejige, 
or additional military measures may be taken including 
the vithdraval of dependents and the possible initiation 
of strikes a short distance across the border against the 
infiltration routes from the DRV. In the latter case 
this vould become a transitional phase." 1^2/ 

The kind of actions that the transition would lead to vere de- 
scribed in a carefully qualified manner: 

"...if the GYl\ improves its effectiveness to an acceptable 
degree and Hanoi does not yield on acceptable terms, or if 
the GVII can only be kept going by stronger action, the U.S. 
is prepared -- at a time to be determined -- to enter into 
a second phase program... of graduated military pressvires 
directed systematically against the DRV.*' 

The concept continued vrith a mixtxire of suggested actions and rationale . 
sitnllar to that in Option C- The air strikes vo'al.d be "progressively 
more serious" and "adjusted to the situation." The expected duration 
vas indicated as "possibly running from two to six months." "Targets 
in the DRV.vould start -with infiltration targets south of the 19th 
Parallel and "u^ork up to targets north of that point." The approach 
vould be steady and deliberate, to give the United States the option 
"to proceed or not;, to escalate or not, and to quicken the pace or not." 
It concluded vith the following: 

"Concurrently, the U.S. wou.ld be alert to any sign of 
yielding by Hanoi, and would be prepared to explore 
negotiated solutions that attain U.S. objectives in an 
acceptable manner., The U.S. would seek to control any 
negotiations and would oppose any independent South 
Vietnamese efforts to negotiate." 1^3 / 

Bundy*s draft I7SM also included a summation of the recommended 
JCS alternative concept and a brief description of the various military, 
political and diplomatic measures to be taken during the first 30 days 
following implementation of the concept. Significantly, the latter 
included reprisal actions "preferably within 2^ hours" for a wide range 
of specified VC provocations. It also contained a specific provision 
that DB SOTO Patrols would not be resimied during the initial 30-day 
period, but would be consider'ed for the follow-on period. 

In the documents available there was no record of the proceed- 
ings of the meeting on 30 ITovember. The only evidence available was 

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the notations appearing on the original draft I^TSAI-l, filed with other 
papers from the I\SC Working Group at the State Department, Therefore, 
the following assessment of what occurred is limited to inferences 
from that sparse evidence. Moreover, based on this evidence, it is 
not absolutely certain that the changes indicated came as a result of 
the Principals meeting. 

Several changes apparently were made in order not to ask the 
President to commit himself unnecessarily (e.g., the language was 
changed from "take" to "resume" a specific action in the second phase 
to "be prepared to take," etc.)- Others had policy implications. The 
only significant change in the first category was to remove any reference 
in the title to NSAjVI and to call it merely a "position paper." In the 
latter category, several changes seem significant. For example, keeping 
the G-VI'I going through the effects of stronger U.S. action v^as deleted as 
one of the circumstances under which we might initiate a program of 
"graduated military pressures" against the DRV. Apparently based on 
Secretary xMcIIemara' s comment, reference to the United States seeking to 
control the negotiations and blocking South Vietnamese efforts in this 
direction was removed. The sunmiary of JCS views vras also reanoved from 
the concept, in effect presenting a united front to the President. From 
the description of 30-day actions, all reference to the intent to pub- 
licize infiltration evidence or present it to allied and Congressional 
/^ leaders was eliminated, including the intention to linJi reprisal actions 

to DRV infiltration to develop "a common thread of justification." Also 
removed was reference to a major Presidential speech, apparently on the 
advice ofMcGeorge Bundy. ikk / 

Although there is a bare minimum of rationale or explanation 
for these changes in the available evidence, the pattern described by 
the changes themselves is significant. In effect, Option A along with 
the lowest order of Option C actions were being recommended by the 
Principals in a manner that would represent the least possible additional 
commitment. This represented a considerable softening of the positions 
held at the end of the first Principals meeting, on the 2Uth. 

It also represented a substantial deviation from the findings 
of the Working Group. It will be recalled that the group conceded 
Option A little chance of contributing to an improved GV1\ and saw its 
likely Impact on South Vietnamese morale as no more lasting than the 
effects of the Tonkin Gulf reprisals. Moreover, even extended "A" was 
believed "at best" to be capable of little more than an improved U.S. 
position -- certainly not of a meaningful settlement, ik^ / In effect, 
the Principals were returning to the initial concept of Option C held 
in the Working Group "oy Bundy, Johnson and McIIaughton — but without the 
initially flexible attitude toward national interest and objectives in 
Southeast Asia. 

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It is iinportarit to consider the factors that may have 'brought 
about the change, (l) it may have resulted as a reaction to the 
persuasiveness of General Taylor's arguments • (2) It may have repre- 
sented a genuine melloving of individual vie^^^points after the oppor- 
tunity to consider other judgments and weigh .^11 the factors. (3) It 
may have resulted from the Principals' uneasiness with the negotiating 
track included in Option C. (h) It may have reflected concern over 
public pressure for harsher measures that could have resulted from too 
much public emphasis on the increased infiltration. (5) It may have 
represented an attempt to enhance the chances of the President's 
approving some kind of stepped up U.S. action outside of South Vietnam. 
With regard to the latter, McGeorge Eundy, as the President's Assistant 
for r^ational Security Affairs, was in a position to convey President 
Johnson's mood to the grout). Moreover, notes taken at the White House 
meeting tend to confirm that the President's mood vras more closely akin 
to the measures recommended than to those in Option B or full Option C. 
Then again, it may be that all of these factors operated on the Prin- 
cipals in some measui^e. 

Also significant, in the series of discussions held by the 
Principals, was their apparent lack of attention to the policy issues 
related to negotiations. Despite the fact that Option C measures were 
stipulated for the second phase of U.S. actions, the early negotiating 
posture intended to accompany that option was apparently paid little 
heed. According to the meeting notes, the only reference to our bar- 
gaining capability was Secretary Rusk's concern as to whether Option G 
actions would enable Ambassador Taylor to bargain in Saigon. Among the 
documents from the Principals meetings, the only reference to Hanoi's 
interest in negotiating occurred in Bundy's draft NSAM, where he re- 
flected apparent Administration expectations that after' more serious 
pressures were applied the DRV would move first in the quest for a 
settlement. 1^6/ 

In retrospect, the Principals appear to have assumed rather low 
motivation on the part of the DRV. Either this or they v.^ere overly opti- 
mistic regarding the threat value of U.S. military might, or both. 

For example. Ambassador Taylor's perception of how a settlement 
might be reached -- which apparently produced little unfavorable reaction 
among the others — indicated the assumption that DRV concessions to 
rather major demands could be obtained with relatively vreak pressures. 
In his suggested scenario (acknowledged as "very close" to the concept 
accepted by the Principals), 1^?/ the U.S. negotiating posture accom- 
panying a serie"> of attacks, limited to infiltration targets "just north 
■of the DMZ/' was intended to be as follows; 

" absence of public statements by DRV, initiate no 
public statements or publicity by ourselves or GVIL If 
DPV does make public stateraents, confine ourselves and '. 

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GW to statements that GTiT is exercising right of self- 
defense and ve are assisting disclose to selected 

allies, and possibly USSR, U.S./gVI-T tems for cessation 
of a ttacks as follows: 

A. Demands: 

1. DRV return to strict observance of 195^ Accords 
with respect STrl — that is, stop infiltration 
■ and bring about a cessation of VC anned insur - 
gency . 

B. In return: 

1. U,S. .will return to 195^ Accords with respect 
to military personnel in GW and GVN would be 
willing to enter into trade tallcs looking 
toward norraalization of economic relations 
between DRV and GW, 

2. Subject to faithful compliejice by DRV -with 195^ 
Accords, U.S. and GVI^ would give assurances that 
they not use force or support the use of force 
by any other party to upset the Accords with 
respect to the DRV- 

3. ..-the GVE would permit VC desiring to do so to 
return to the DRV without their anns or would 
grant aa^inesty. . . " 

Taylor went on to suggest that "if and when lianoi indicates its accep- 
tance" the United States should avoid (l) the danger of a cease-fire 
accompanied by prolonged negotiations and (2) "making conditions so 
stringent" as to be Irapracticable. lU8 / 

Significantly, the terms were to be conveyed to Hanoi privately 
They did not constitute a declaratory policy in the usual sense of that 
term. Hence, it must be assumed that they would be presented to the DRV 
V7ith the attitude of "acceptance or else" — that they were not per- 
ceived primarily as conveying a firm public image. Moreover, the terms 
were designed to accom_pany what becaone kno-i-m as "phase two," the gradu- ' 
ated pressures of Option C -- not the 30-day actions derived from 
Option A. They were meant to represent the "early negotiating" postiure 
of the United Spates — not the "no-negotiation" posture associated with 
Option A. 

This general attitude toward negotiations was apparently shared 
by other Principals. This is indicated by changes made in Option C 
procedures, in the Summary of the Working Group's findings*, following 

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the first Principals meeting. Essentially, these involved an adamant 
resistance to "any formal Geneva Conference on Vietnam," Formerly, 
such a conference vas regarded as the "best forum" -- after conducting 
a number of military actions against the DRV. Under the revised 
approach, the U.S. Governraent would merely "wtch and listen closely" 
for signs of weakening from Hanoi and Peking. If the DRV held firm in 
response to initial military actions against I-lorth Vietnam and if along 
with these actions an improvement had occurred in the GVIT, the Adminis- 
tration would press harder for acceptance of the initial negotiating 
position, IU9 / Thus, it is fairly clear that the policy position 
formulated by the Principals before presentation to the President in- 
cluded no provision for early bargaining at the conference table. 

2. Courses of Action Approved in the White House 

On 1 December, the Principals met with President Johnson and 
Vice President-elect Kumr)hrey in the White House. During a meeting 
that lasted two-and-a-half hours, Ambassador Taylor briefed the Presi- 
dent on the situation in South Vietnam, and the group reviewed the 
evidence of increasing DRV support for the conflicts in South Vietnaan 
and Laos. Ways of countering the impact of infiltration and of im- 
proving the situation were discussed. At the conclusion of the meeting 
Secretary Mc]^Iamara was reported to have been overheard saying to the 
President, "it would be impossible for Ma^c to talk to these people 
^ Raiting reporter_s7 without leaving the impression that the situati- 

is going to hell." Accordingly, Ambassador Taylor slipped out the 
White House rear entrance, and only a brief, formal statement was given 
to the press. I50/ 

The source documents available at the time of this writing do 
J not indicate the precise nature of the President's decisions. Since a 

tl NSAM was not issued following the meeting, one would have to have access 

to White House case files and I^ational Security Council meeting notes 
to be certain of what was decided. Even then, one might not find a 
clear-cut decision recorded. However, from handwritten notes of the 
meeting, from instructions issued to action agencies, and from later 
reports of diplomatic and military actions taken, it is possible to 
reconstruct the approximate nature of the discussion and the decisions 

The revised "Draft Position Paper on Southeast Asia," contain- 
ing the two-phase concept for future U.S. policy and the proposed 30-day 
action program, provided the basis for the White House discussions. 
Handwritten notes of the proceedings refer to various topics in approxi- 
mately the same order as they are listed in that portion of the position 
paper dealing with the 30-day action program. There is no indication 
that the over-all concept v/as discussed. However, it is evident from 
the notes that the various actions under discussion were considered in 
terms of the details of their implementation^ 151/ This fact -- 
together w'ith the content of the formal instructions later issued to 


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Ambassador Taylor — make it clear that, in general outline at least, 
the concept submitted by the Principals was accepted by the President. 
Hovrever, as vill be seen, it is also clear that he gave his approval 
to implement only the first phase of the concept. 

In addition to Ambassador Taylor's report, the meeting dealt 
mainly with tvo subjects: (l) Taylor's consultations vith South Viet- 

Inaiiiese leaders and (2) conversations vith other U.S. allies, vho had. an 
interest in the Vietnamese situation. 

The President made it clear that he considered that pulling 
the South Vietnamese together was basic to anything eJ se the United 
States might do. He asked the J^jnbassador specifically which groups 
he might talk to and what more we might do to help bring unity among 
South Vietnam's leaders. He asked whether we could not say to them 
"we just can't go on" unless they pulled together. To this, Taylor 
replied that we must temper our insistence somewhat, and suggested that 
we could say that "our aid is for the Huong government, not necessarily 
I for its successor." The President asked whether there was not some way 

I • we could "get to" such groups as the Catholics, the Buddhists and the 

Army. Possible additional increments of m.ilitary aid were then discussed 
as means of increasing U.S. leverage among military leaders. The Presi- 
dent also asked about "the Communists" in South Vietnam. Taylor's reply 
,.x-.. >^as noted rather cryptically, but the impression given is that the 

Communists were being used already, but that he questioned the desir- 
ability of trying to pressure them. He apparently stated that they were 
"really neutralists," but that the French were "not really bothering" 
to use them. The President observed that the situation in South Vietnam 
'^'does look blacker" to the public than it apparently was. He wondered 
if something could not be done to change the mpression- being given in 
the news. 152/ 

Toward the end of the discussion of consultations with the 
South Vietnamese, President Johnson stated his conviction that the GVE 
w^as too weak to take on the DRV militarily- He aclinowledged that the 
South Vietnamese had received good training, but emphasized that we 
"must ^ have done everything we can" to strengthen them before such a 
conflict occurred. 153/ This attitude was reflected in the guidance 
given to Ambassador Taylor and in the statement he was authorized to make 
to the GVI^I. The statement contained a passage asserting that the U.S. 
Government did not believe 

"that w^e should incur the risks which ai-e inherent in any 
expansion of hostilities w^ithovit fir it assuring that there 
is a government Saigon capable of handling the serious 
problems involved in such an expansion and of exploiting 
■ the favorable effects which may be anticipated " 

- ■— The statement v:ent on to emphasize that before the -United States could 

move to expand hostilities, the GVII would have to be capable of 

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"naintaining law and order," of ensuring that its plans for further 
operations vould be carried out, and of coping v^'ith "the enemy reactions 
vhich must be expected to result" from changes in the current pattern of 
operations. 15!}-/ 

The White Eouse discussions of U.S. consultation vrith other 
allies vere prefaced by the President's strong affirmation that ve needed 
"new dratnatic, effective" forms of assistance from several of these 
countries. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines were speci- 
fically mentioned. Secretary Rusic added that the U.K. also could do more. 
A possible Hepublic of China contribution was discussed, but the Secretary 
expressed concern that introduction of GRC combat units would tend to 
merge the problem of Vietnajn with the conflict between the two Chinese 
regim^es. Apparently, the Principals* proposal to send a representative 
to the governments of Australia, ""l-Tew Zealand, and the Philippines was 
approved, in each case, the representative was to explain our concept 
and proposed actions and request additional contributions by way of forces 
in the event the second phase of U.S. actions were entered. Vice President 
elect Humphrey was suggested for consultations with the Philippine govern- 
ment. The President asked about the possibility of a vTest German contri- 
bution, but Secretary McLIatuara emphasised that German political problems 
would inhibit such a pledge from Bonn. Pinally, it was agreed that Pjh- 
bassador Taylor would cable the particular kind of third country assis- 
tance that would be welcomed after he had a chance to consult with the 
GYT:. 155/ 

At the close of the meeting, the White House released a press 
statement which contained only two coir^ents regarding any determinations 
that had been reached. One reaffirmed "the basic United States policy 
of providing all possible and useful assistance" to South Vietnam, 
specifically linking this policy with tlie Congressional Joint Resolution 
of 10 August. The other stated: ■ . 

"The President instructed Ambassador Taylor to consult 
lurgently with the South Vietnamese Government as to 
measures that should be tal^en to improve the situation 
■ in all its aspects." 156/ 

During the subseauent press briefing, George Reedy indicated 

to reporters that Taylor would be working on the specific details of his 

forthcoming conversations in Saigon "for another two to three days" and 

would have at least one more meeting with the President before his 

returji. 157/ Mov^ever, it seems clear that most of what he would say 

to (Wl-, officials was settled during the initia.1 White House meeting. A 

proposed text was appended to the Principals' draft position paper, and 

it is clear that this was discussed on 1 Eecember. Apparently, the only 

change made at that time vras to remove a proposed U.S. pledge to furnish 

air cover for the G\^.^ maritime o-oerations against the Korth Vietnamese 
coast.- 158/ 

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After the meeting^ the statement vas recast in the form of 
Presidential instructions to Ambassador Taylor -- vith specific authori- 
zation for the .'^jnbassador to alter the phrasing as he thought necessary 
to insure effective comnunications vith the C-VT-T. However , the concept 
and the specific points for communication vera unchanged. The instruc- 
tions made specific provision for him to inform senior Gv7T officials of 
the U.S. villingness (l) to cooperate in intensifj^ing the GW maritime 
operations and (2) ''to add U.S. airpower as needed to restrict the use 
of Laotian territory as an infiltration route into S"/iT/' These pledges 
vere prex^aced by statements to the effect that U.S. actions directly 
against the DHV could not be taken mitil GVIT effectiveness was assured 
along certain specified lines. The statements made explicit the policy 
view that "we should not incur the risks v^hich are inherent in such an 
e:sq)ansion of hostilities" until such improvem.ents w^ere made. As evidence 
of our desire to encourage these developments , however, the rationale 
stressed that the Administration was "willing to strike harder at the 
infiltration routes in Laos and at sea." 159/ 

^he instructions also included specific provision that the U.S. 
Mission in Saigon vras to work with the GVI^i in developing joint plans for 
I reprisal operations and for air operations appropriate for a second 

phase of new U.S. actions. The general relationship between the two 
contemplated phases was explained^ and the Phase Two purpose "of con- 
vincing the leaders of D?iV that it is to their interest to cease to aid 
the Viet Cong" was stated. The joint character of the "progressively 
mounting" air operations against irorth Vietnam, should they be decided 
on later, was emphasized. l6o/ 

As indicated earlier, there was no liSM'l issued following the 
strategy meeting of 1 December. The reasons why are clear. In effect, 

I ^ the actions recommended by the Principals and approved by the President 

- did not constitute a significant departure from the actions authorized 

to; i^^ I\S/il-i 3li+ (9 September 196^). That docviment had already provided for 

discussions wath the Laotian government leading to possible U.S. armed 
reconnaissance operations along the infiltration routes. Further, it 
had provided for resumption of the 3^A maritime operations, w^hich had 
continued throughout the fall. In effect, the December strategy meeting 
produced little change except to make more concrete the concept of possible 
future operations against Korth Vietnam and to authorize steps to include 
the GVxi in preparations for these possibilities. 

It is clear that the President did not make any commitment at 
this point to expand the war through future operations against Ilorth 
Vietnajffl. The assurances intended for the G\". in this regard were con- 
ditional at best. The extent to which the President was committed to 
such a course in his mind, or in discussions with his leading advisors, 
was not made explicit in the sources available. It is implied, however, 
in brief notes which vrere apparently intended to summarize the mood of 
the meeting on 1 December. In what may have been a s\:immation of the 
^"^ President's expressions, these notes indicate several themes: (i) it is 

necessary to weigh the risks of careful action versus the risks of loss 

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(of South Vietnam?) without action; (2) it may be necessary to act from 
a "base not as strong as hoped for; (3) it is not certain, however, how 
public opinion can be handled; and {k) it is desirable to send out a 
"somewhat stronger signal." In addition, a comment not entirely legi- 
ble stated "Mearures can't do as much (l) U.N. and (2) 

international _/negotiationsj7*" In the context of the discussions, the 
impression left by these notations is that the VJhite House was con- 
siderably less than certain that future U.S. actions against North Viet- 
nam would be taken, or that they would be desirable. l6l/ 


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When Ambassador Taylor next met with the President on the afternoon 
of 3 December, McGeorge Bundy vas the only other official present. Prior 
to- this occasion^ Taylor had sat with the other Principals to review 
specific features of the Administration's position and to work out details 
of the scenario that was about to. go into production. When he left the 
President's office , presumably having received the final version of his 
instructions, the Ambassador told reporters that he was going to hold 
"across-the-board" discussions with the GVIT. Asserting that U.S. policy 
for South Vietnam remained the same, he stated that his aim would be to 
improve the deteriorating situation in South Vietnam. Although he hinted 
of changes "in tactics and method," he quite naturally did not disclose 
the kind of operations in which the United States was about to engage or 
any future actions to which immediate activities could lead. I62/ 

1. Early Action s 

Phase One actions to exert additional pressures against I^Jorth 
Vietnam were quite limited. Only two, the GVl"^ maritime operations and 
U.S. armed reconnaissance missions in Laos, were military actions. The 
others involved stage-managing the public release of evidence of the 
increased Communist infiltration into South Vietnam and the acquisition 
of additional assistance for that country from other governments. 

9-* GVTI Maritime OT>erat ions. Maritime operations under OPLMT 3^A 
represented nothing nevr. These had~been underway steadily since h October, 
and their November schedule was in the process of being carried out at the 
time the decisions on immediate actions were being made. On 25 I\'Ovember, 
six FTP craft bombarded a barracks area on Tiger Island with Sltrnn mortars, 
setting numerous fires. Moreover, a proposed schedule for December had 
been submitted by CO>rjSi'ACV on 27 November. This included a total of I5 
maritirae operations involving shore bombardments, a Jtink capture, a kidnap 
mission, and a demolition sortie against a coastal highway bridge. iGh / 
According to the concept, these were to be intensified during Phase One. 

Soon after the decisions had been mavde to begin Phase One^ the 
JCS tasked COMUSMACV with deve2.oping a revised December 3^A schedule to 
better reflect the newly adopted pressure concept. CINGPAC was requested 
to submit revised 3liA plans so as to arrive in Washington not later than 
8 December. The instructions specified that these were "to include pro- 
posed sequence and timing for increased frequency of maritime operations" 
in two packages. The first was to begin on 15 December, extend over a 
period of 30 days and provide for "shallow penetration raids... on all 

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I ' types of targets vhich vould. provide the greatest psychological benefits 

..." Destructive results and military utility were to "be strictly 
secondary considerations. Package Tvo was to add ^4- to 6 U.S. aitrcraft 
to afford protective cover and incorporate action against certain ITorth 
Vietnaiaese coastal targets above the 19th Parallel. This package was 
intended to begin approximately 30 days following initiation of the 
first, although the instructions cautioned that the plans should be 
"prepared to provide for an indefinite period" of operations under 
Package One. I65/ 

KACY^s new proposal for maritime operations was submitted on 
■ 5 December 5 with proposals for psychological operations and aerial 
' resupply/reinforce missions follovring close behind. On the lOth^ appro- 

j val for the latter two was communicated back to the field. At the time, 

the I#J^OPS proposals were still under consideration within the JOS. I66/ 
On the 12th, the JCS submitted their two-package" proposal. Included in 
their first 30-day package were coastal bombardment of radar sites, 
barracks, and PT boat bases plus a maritime equivalent of aerial armed 
route reconnaissance. Patrol boats would make "fire sweeps" along the 
coast against "targets of opportunity." In addition, upon their return 
from bombardment missions, it was proposed that the GWI PT boats attempt 
the capture of WN junks and S^-JATOW craft. With the single exception of 
the coastal fire sweeps, all of these initial package operations were 
approved by OSD, and instructions v:ere issued to implement the initial 
incrQTient of such operations on or about 15 December. I67 / 

In accord with the instructions initially issued regarding inten^ 
sified maritime operations, OSD decisions on the proposed second package 
were deferred. The JCS indicated that the addition of U.S. air cover, 
and the necessary command and control procedures needed' to support such 
operations, could be implemented on or about 15 January. They went on 
to recommend that if this were decided, the "maritime operations should 
be sujTfaced... prior to /implementation of/ Package Two." I68 / 

The JCS were disconcerted over disapproval of the fire sweeps 
along the Ilorth Vietnamese coast. -However, their concern stemmed not so 
much from the lack of support for those particular operations as from 
their view that the disapproval removed from the package the only signi- 
ficant intensification beyond the level already attained before the 
President's Phase One decision. At a Principals meeting on 19 December, 
Acting JCS Chairman, General Harold K. Johnson, pointed out that with the 
modifications now made to it, the 3l'A program was, in effect, not inten- 
sified at all, Moreover, as discussion revealed, seasonal sea conditions 
were now so severe that no maritime operation had been completed sucess- 
fully during the previous three weeks. 169/ In effect, therefore, . the 
'^intensified" Decem.ber schedule of approved maritime operations still 
remained to be implemented as the month drew to a close. 

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For January^ the JCS urged that several air missions he added 
to the kind of operations already approved. Included were two WAF air 
strikes, using unmarked aircraft and U.S. air escort for returning 
surface craft, 170/ However , hoth of these items were disapproved; 
only the air operations in support of psychological and resupply opera- 
tions gained acceptance. 17l/^ Apparently there was little additional 
KAROPS activity during January , I965; the normal documentary sources 
include very little for this period. 

b. Armed Reconnaissance in Laos . Like the maritime operations, 
armed reconnaissance in Laos was, in some respects, a continuation of 
operations that had been underway for some time. At least, U.S. aircraft 
^ had been operating over Laos since the previous May, performing recon- 

naissance functions and Droviding armed escort for these and (since 
October) the RL/iF strike'missions. Of course, armed escort was carried 
out under strict rules of engagement that permitted attacking ground 
targets only in response to hostile fire. Given the operational code 
YAiHCSE TEAM, these carrier and land-based missions had been following 
a constant pattern for several months. This had included roughly four 
daylight reconnaissance flights in the Plaine des Jarres - Route 7 area 
every two weeks, and during a like period, approximately ten reconnaissance 
flights in the Panheiidle, and two night-reconnaissance flights along 
Route 7. Complementing these efforts were those of the RLAT, whose T-23's 
harassed the Pathet Lao, gave tactical air support to Royal Laotian Army 
units, interdicted Route 7 and the Panhandle, and performed armed route 
reconnaissance in Central Laos. During the period 1 October-30 December, 
there were a total of Y2k T-28 sorties in the Panhandle alone. These had 
already precipitated several complaints from the DRV, alleging UoS.- 
sponsored air attacks on Korth Vietnamese territory. 172/ 

The intended U.S. policy was discussed with Premier Souvanna 
Phouma on 10 December by the new U.S. Ambassador to Laos, Willia^a 
Sullivan. He reported that Souvanna "fully supports the U.S. pressures 
program and is prepared to cooperate in full." The Premier particularly 
wanted interdiction of Routes 7, 3, and 12, but he insisted on making no 
public admission that U.S. aircraft had taken on new missions in Laos. 
The Administred:ion had indicated to the Vientiane Embassy a few days 
earlier that it wished the RIAF to intensify its strike program also, 
particularly "in the Corridor areas and close to the DRV border." 173/ 

In the meantim^e, the JCS developed an air strike program to 
complement the YAiTKEE TEAI-l operation in accordance with cur-rent guidance, 
and had instructed CIITCPAC to be prepared to carry it out. The program 
included missions against targets of opportunity along particular poitions 
of Route 8 and Routes 121 and 12. It also included secondary targets for 
each mission that included barracks areas and military strong points. 
The second mission w^as to be flown not earlier than three days follov;ing 
the first. ITV I'^'^e progrom was briefed at a 12 December m.eeting of the 

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Principals by Deputy Secretary Vance and was approved by them with one 
exception. They ejiiended the ordnance instructions v^^hich had been pre- 
pared for CIKCPAC to specifically exclude the use of napalm. For its 
first use against targets in Laos, they felt, the RLAE would be the 
only appropriate user. McGeorge 3undy stated that the amended program 
"fulfilled precisely the President's vrishes/' and that he (Bundy) would 
so inform the President. He further stated that-, barring separate ad- 
vice to the contrary, the program should be executed. It was also 
agreed at this meeting that there would be no public statements about 
armed reconnaissance operations in Laos unless a plane were lost. In 
such an event, the Principals stated, the Government should continue to 
insist that we were mierely escorting reconnaissance flights as requested 
by the Laotian Governjnent. I75/ 

Armed reconnaissance operations in Laos, called BARREL ROLL, 
got underway on ik December. This first mission was flown by USAP Jet 
aircraft, along Route 8. It was followed on the 17th by carrier-based 
A-1 axid Jet aircraft, striking along Routes 121 and 12. On the l8th, 
this pattern of two missions by four aircraft each was determined by 
Secretary of Defense or higher authority to be the weekly standard — 
at least through the third week. I76 / Just a day earlier, the JCS had 
proposed a second week's program that included repetition of the first 
week's operations plus missions along Route 7? 9 and 23. Their proposals 
were prepared with a statement of JCS understanding "that a gradual 
increase in intensity of operations is intended for the second week." 
Recalling Souvanna Phouma's reported requests for such operations, they 
also included a strong recommendation that Route 7 he struck as pairt of 
the second week's missions. 177 / 

This same rationale was voiced by General Johnson in the Prin- 
cipals meeting on 19 December. He pointed out that the B.^T.REL ROLL 
program briefed there by Deputy Secretary Vance did not represent any 
intensification beyond the previous week's effort. Vance confirmed that 
not intensifying the program had been one of the criteria applied in 
selecting the second v.^eek's missions. Consensus was reached by the 
Principals xhat the program sho^ald remain about the same for the next 
two weeks, in accordance with the most recent guidance. I78 / 

I I . ^ At the end of December, when there was serious question about 

the efficacy of maintaining the direction of U.S. policy in South Vietnam, 

I Defense^officials requested an evaluation of the BARREL ROLL program. 

In particular, they were concerned as to "why neither the DRV nor the 
Communist Chinese have made any public mention of or appeared to have 

. taken cognizanc- of our B.'IRREL ROLL operations." 179 / In response, a 

^^; assessment indicated that the Communists apparently had made no 
'distinction between Bi^J^RSL ROLL missions on the one hand and the 
Laotian T-28 strikes and YAITKEE TEAIvf missions on the other." Attributing 
all stepped up operations in Laos to the United States and its "lackeys," 
they had lumped all operations together as "U.S. armed interference in 

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tian's /sic/ affairs, gross violations of the General Agreements, and 
nts which are causing; a 2;rave situation in Laos and Indochina." DIA 


vent on to observe that "it would be most difficult to distinguish, 
between YMISS TRAIvl with its. flat suppression aircraft from the BAEEEL 
ROLL missions." Further^ the assessment obser^/ed that "BARREL ROLL 
strikes have followed T-28 strikes by varying periods of time and have 
been of lesser intensity. They probably appear to be a continuation of 
the Laotian program." It concluded: 

"On balance, therefore, while the Corfimunists are apparently 
avrare of some increased use of U.S. aircraft, they probably 
have not considered the BARREL ROLL strikes to date as a sig- 
nificant change in the pattern or as representing a new threat 
to their activities." iSo/ 

Despite the lack of discernible Communist reaction to BARREL 
ROLL by the end of the year and considerable concern among the JCS, there 
was little change in the operation during early January. On the Uth, 
CraCPAC was authorized to go ahead with the fourth week's program: 

"One U.S. armed reconnaissance/pre-briefed air strike' 
missions in Laos for the vreek of U-10 January 19^5? is ap- 
proved. Additional missions will be the subject of later 
message." (Underlining added) 

The approved mission called for night armed reconnaissance along Route 7, 
the first of its kind. l8l/ At"The~time, the JCS were awaiting a decision 
on their proposals for aTTomplementary mission, but the Department of State 
had objected to their choice^ of a secondary target because it was located 
near Cambodian territory. Earlier in the series, the Tchepone barracks 
had been deleted as a secondary mission by the ^.Thite House because a Hanson 
Baldwin article had named it as a likely target. On 5 January, the JCS 
representative reminded the Principals that the currently approved 
BARREL ROLL mission constituted the fourth week of these operations and, 
therefore, would terminate the initial 30-day period of Phase One pres- 
sures. The JCS were cuite concerned that there had not yet been plans 
made for a "transition phase" of stepped up attacks to begin around mid- 
January. 182 / 

c. Surfacing Infil tration Evidence. An integral part of the 
Administration's pressures policy,' particularly if U.S. forces were to 
be involved in direct attacks on Horth Vietnam, was the presentation to 
the public of convincing evidence of DRV responsibility for the precarious 
situation in South Vietnaia, As seen earlier, a former intelligence 
specialist, Chester Cooper, was selected to compile a public acco^unt of 
the infiltration of trained cadre and guerrilla fighters, to be used for 
this purpose. His account was to be developed from the various classi- 
fied reports that had been produced and was to lay particular stress on 
the alaiining increase in the rate of infiltration in the latter half of 

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i i 

Cooper su'bmitted his report on k December, It was based on 
(1) a State-sponsored updating of the so-called Jordan Report, which 
described also the DRV^s direction, control and materiel support of 
the insurgency (this had been discussed during the policy discussions 
in the Spring an,d initiated during the Summer;^; (2) the MCV infiltra- 
tion study, based on interrogations of VC prisoners and completed in 
October; and (3) reports from a DIA/cIA KR team who went to Saigon 
in mid-I:ovember to evaluate the MCV report (they confirmed its validity). 
His report consisted of four items: (l) a summary statement and a m,ore 
detailed public discussion of VC infiltration /TAB bJ; (2) a list of 
possible questions and suggested answers for use with the press or the 
Congress; (3) "a reconciliation, or at least an explanation of past lo\r 
estimates of infiltration given in Congressional testimony and to the 
press^; and (k) a listing of available documentary evidence and graphic 
materials to aid in public presentations. In his covering memorandum. 
Cooper urged that the materials be forwarded to Saigon so as to malce 
llkCV and rinbassy officials fully aware of the proposed approach and to 
make consistent its use by U.S. and GVi^: personnel. 183/ 

The Cooper materials were forwarded for review to the Saigon 
Embassy on 8 December, and to the Principals on the 9th. 18V Shortly . 
thereafter, Secretary Rusk cabled Aiabassador Taylor, expressing his 
concern that early release of the infiltration data 'Vould generate 
pressures for actions beyond what we now contemplate." Me sought 

Taylor's advice as to whether release would be wise. In the Ambassador's 
reply, he urged early release. He stated, '^I do not feel that, at this 
point, the substance of the release will generate pressure for extreme 
action. Moreover, he expressed the view that release would serve to 
qaiet the currently rife speculation among news correspondents and parts 
of the GVi'I concerning what the United States was intending to do in SVII. 
Citing a New York Daily Hews article (7 December) as an example of what 
he felt v;ere increasingly likely lealis, he expressed his desire to make 
planned^ deliberate announcements of what the United States was now doing 
and what might be done in the future, rie expressed his intention to 
have the Q'^n'i release the report on infiltration, complete with press 
briefings and statements, between 10-17 December. ISB/ 


Despite strong reccmjiiendations from the field to release the 
ini^iltration data, the Principals determined that it should not yet be 
made public. During the first part of December, the chief advocate for 
not releasing it was Secretary McHamara. At their meeting on 12 December, 
Mr. Vance stated that Mr. McHamara wanted to withhold the infiltration 
data for the time being. His rationale was not recorded in the minutes. 
The State Department opinion in response was that the Department "did not 
consider it of any great m,oment." Thereafter, the Principals decided 
that release should be withheld, at least until their next meeting, 
19 December. 136 / 

By the time they met again, a week later, several expressions 
of sivpport for releasing the data had been received. On the lUth 



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Ambassador Taylor recalled that the A"RVIj intelligence chief had reviewed 
the original I^JJV infiltration report and the proposed press release and 
had "concurred in coMaending declassification." On the loth /onbassador 
Siaiivan praised the Cooper report and suggested passing it to Souvanna 
Phoima prior to what he hoped would be a prompt public release, 18? / 
At the Principals meeting these views were cited in a strong statement 
by WilliaQi Bundy concerning the problems of keeping the infiltration 
evidence out of the press. "^ General Johnson, Acting Chairman, JCS, 
favored release as a morale boost to U.S. personnel in South Vietnam. 
McGeorge Bundy and Carl Rowen (USL^i) favored gradual or piecemeal release. 
However, Mr. Vance repealed Secretary McITamara's wish to continue sup- 
pression of the infiltration report -- possibly for an indefinite period. 
This view finally prevailed, as^the Principals agreed not to release the 
Cooper report either in Saigon or T-Jashing-fcon. Instead, they felt that 
the President might disseminate some of the inforraation through such 
vehicles as his State of the Union message or in a contemplated Christmas 
address to U.S. forces in Saigon. 188/ 

Following the meeting, but before receiving reports concerning 
the current political upheaval in Saigon, the State Department cabled 
the Adiainistration's decision not to rtieke a formal GVI</US release of the 
infiltration data. It gave as rationale the feeling that formal release 
"could be misinterpreted and become vehicle /for/ undesirable speculation," 
and suggested alternative procedures. Stating that "general background 
briefings.. .should continue to indicate infiltration has increased with- 
out getting into specifics," it indicated that under pressure, the Saigon 
Embassy "could have one or more deep background sessions with /the/ 
American forces." The cable cautioned, however, that specific numbers 
and comparisons with previous years' estimates should be avoided. These 
would not be released, it was advised, until late in January after senior 
A.dministration officials had testified to Congress in a scheduled inquiry. 
The current aim was stated "to get general picture into survey stores 
such as Grose article of ITovember 1 rather than as spot news commanding 
wide attention." The cable concluded by acknowledging a "just received" 
Taylor message and approving his stated judgment to proceed with periodic 
background briefings in Saigon, along lines outlined above. 189/ 

Following the rift between the South Vietnamese military leaders 
and the American Embassy, resistance to the release of infiltration data 
hardened. In cables of 2k December, .^jnbassador Taylor was instructed to 
avoid background briefings on the infiltration increases until the po- . 
litical situation clarified. :ie was counseled that release of the data 
would be "unwise" unless he were to obtain evidence that the South Viet- 
nesiese military was planning to go ahead with a unilateral release. 190/ 
These instructions prevailed until well into January, 1965- 

^' C onsultati ons with "Th ird Countries . " In the days immediately 
following the policy decisions of 1-3 December, several U.S. allies were 
consulted concerning the intended U.S. approach in Southeast Asia. In 

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accord with the Principals' viev;s^ the governments of Thailand and Laos 
were "briefed by the respective U.S. Ambassadors to those countries. - 
Foreign Minister Thuan Khoman later visited the President in vx^ashington 
and presumably pursued the matter further. The Canadians were contacted 
in both Ottawa a_id Washing-ton. '^•'ailiam Bundy held discussions in Kew 
Zealand and Australia on k»^ December. Prime Minister Tvilson of the 
United Kingdom was thoroughly briefed during a series of meetings in 
Washington, Y-9 December. Later, William Bundy told the Principals that 
the U.K. ^ Australia and IJew Zealand received the full picture of immediate 
UcS. actions and its stipulations to the GVl^i and the potential two-phased 
concept of graduated pressures on Ilorth Vietnam. The Canadian Government 
vras told slightly less. The Philippines, South Korea and the Republic of 
China were briefed on Phase One only. I91/ 

One of the aims stressed by President Johnson in the meeting of 1 and 
3 December, and continually thereafter, was obtaining increased assistance 
for the GW and for our efforts on its behalf from our allies. During the 
12 December Principals meeting, for example, William Bundy related the 
President's recent wish to obtain assistance even from governments without 
strong Southeast Asia commitments, like Deiimark, West Germany and India. 
This was mentioned in the context of a stimmary rer^^ort on current "third- 
co^antry assistance of all kinds to South Vietnam." I92 / 

At the time, however, not only general assistance from many countries 
but specifically military assistance from a select few was particularly 
sought. Dwing the consultations with allied goverriments, "both Australia 
and ITew Zealand were pressed to send troop units to assist ARVH. Both 
supported the U.S. policy decisions as probably necessary, but neither 
was willing at the -time to make a commitment. r;ew Zealand officials ex- 
pressed grave doubts that Phase II would lead to negotiations, predicting 
instead that the DRV would only increase the clandestine troop deployments 
to the South. They expressed doubts about the advisability of sending 
allied ground forces into South Vietnam. 193/ 

The concept -under which the allied troop deployments were believed 
desirable ^ was related to that which the I-^SC Working Group had recommended 
as ^ deserving further study. Contemplated was an international force 
built around one U.S. division, to be deployed just south of the DLiZ in 
conjunction with stepped-up US/gVlI air operations against Korth Vietnam. 
In essence, therefore, it was a Phase T^to concept, dependent in som.e 
respects on the degree of success achieved during Phase One activities. 
The concept was exexiined in detail by the Joint Staff in early December, 
and their staff study was forwarded to the services and the Joint Pacific 
Headquarters "fcr comment and recommendations" on 10 December. The pur- 
poses cited for such a force deployment by the Joint Staff were stated as 
follows: (1) to deter ground invasion by the DRV; (2) to hold a "blocking 
position against DRV attacks down the coastal plain and m3lce more difficult 
DR\r_eff^orts to bypass"; and (3) to be "capable of holding the defensive 
positions against attack until reinforcements arrive if required." 19^1/ ■ 


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The degree to which the international force was believed to offer a 
useful option seems to have been in question* While the State Departraent 
and other non-military agencies apparently favored it^ the Department of 
Defense was less than enthusiastic'^. At the 19 December Principals meet- 
ing;, for example, all of those present agreed that "suitable planning 
toward such a force should go forward'^ except Assistant Defense Secretary 
IvlcHaughton. He stated that he thought the idea had been shelved- 195/ 
Later, in their review of the Joint Staff's study, the services expressed 
reservations concerning the concept. They questioned its military 
utility, due to the deployments being framed- essentially within a narrow 
deterrent context. They recommended instead a continued adherence to the 
deployment concept in the approved SEATO plans, which in their totality 
were aimed at the military defense of all Southeast Asia. The Army, in 
particular, expressed concern regarding routes and modes of possible DRV 
advance into South Vietnam that differed from those assumed by the study's 
below-the-DMZ concept. The Air Force pointed out that the international 
force concept conflicted with the JCS concept for deterring and dealing 
with overt DRV/CHICOM aggression as submitted on lU Novem:oer (JCSI1-955-6U) 

Mr. McITaughton's comments on 19 December seem to have been correct. 
The case files containing the service comments on the international force 
concept indicate no further action by the JCS after mid-January. 

• In the meantiifie, however ;, a different approach to attracting wider 
allied participation in the military defense of South Vietnam appeared 
promising. On 29 December, OSD/ISA reported readiness on the part of 
the Philippine, ROK and GRC Governments to provide various forms of assist- 
ance to South Vietnam. Included in the available Philippine and Korean 
packages were an assortment of military forces. The ROK Joint Chiefs of 
Staff offered a combat engineer battalion, an engineer field maintenance 
team, an Army transportation company, and a Marine Corps combat engineer 
company. The Philippine Government stated its willingness to send a 
reinforced infantry battalion, an engineer construction battalion, and 
some Special Forces units. 197 / - ■ 

2. Relations with the GW 

Follox^ing his second meeting with President Johnson, Ambassador 
Taylor returned to Saigon. He arrived on 6 December amid press specula- 
tion concerning the details of his instructions and subsequent UcS. 
actions. 193 / The basic chaxge given him by the President had been well 
publicized since their meeting on the 1st: *'to consult urgently with the 
government of Piime Minister Tran Van Huong a^ to measures to be taken 
to improve the situation in all its aspects." However, such a diplo- 
matically worded statement left much room for imaginative interpretation 
-- particularly in view of the Ambassador's "unannounced stopover in 
Hong Kong to get a briefing by U.S. 'China watchers' in that listening 
post." Several correspondents speculated on the likelihood of air action 

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against the I';orth. One^ ivith an apparent inside soijrce^ even reported 
that these vould be held in abeyance pending the outcome of strikes in 
■ Laos end the G7il reactions to U.S. suggestions for improvement. 198/ 

^* Joint Planning . In the days immediately folloving his 
return^ ^i^jmbassador Taylor's schedule precipitated press reports of fran 
tic activity within the Embassy and other parts of the U.S. Mission in 
Saigon. Taylor first briefed his lanbassy Coujicil and the PJmbassy staff 
on the policy discussions in VJashington and the joint US/gV^ courses of 
action which it was hoped would be followed in South Vietnam during 
ensuing weeks. On 7 December, he met with Premier Pluong and his senior 
ministers and with General Khanh. On these occasions he outlined the 
military ^ and diplomatic actions which the U.S. Government intended to 
take^dwing Phase One and explained how the Administration related the 
possibilities of Phase T\70 actions to GTOj performance. The Ambassador 
described in general terms the. kinds of administrative improvements and 
Joint planning activities which U.S. officials thought the GVix should 
undertake. I99/ 

Similar sessions were held during the next few days, as the details 
for the joint GVIT/us efforts were worked out. On the evening of the Sth, 
/onbassador Taylor held a reception for members of the High National 
y^. Council and General Westmoreland hosted the top AEvTI generals at dinner. 

At both occasions, Taylor briefed the assembled on U.S. attitudes toward 
the GVli and, presumably, on the Administration's calculations of U.S. 
risk^relative to GVl: capability. On the following day, he held a lengthy 
session with Premier Huong, Deputy Premier Vien and General Khanh. On 
this^ occasion, he distributed a paper outlining nine specific actions 
which^the U.S. Governraent believed were needed to strengthen the GW and 
in which the local U.S. mission was committed to help. Taylor reported 
that the "paper was generally well received" and that "specific joint 
action responsibilities" had been agreed on. These were to be confirmed 
in writing on the following day. On that same day, he submitted a pro- 
posed GTr; press release, describing in general terms the natujre of the 
new U.S. assistance to be given and the new areas of GV^ and joint G-VN/uS 
planning, designed to improve the situation in South Vietnam. 200/ 

On the 11th, having obtained Administration approval, an official 
Gp statement was released to the press. It related that "a series of 
discussions with the U.S. Mission" had just been completed and that the " 
U.S. Goverranent had offered additional assistance "to improve the execu- 
tion^ of the Goverranent ' s programs and to restrain /not 'offset' as 
originally word^-.d/ the mounting infiltration of men and equipment" from 
ITorth Vietnam. Among military measures, it specified that U.S. support 
would enable "increased numbers of /South Vietnamese/ military, para- 
military and police forces" and would permit "the strengthening of the 
air ^ defense ^of South Vietnam." It also mentioned assistance "for a 
' ' , variety of forms of industrial, urban and rural development" and promised 

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a GTO effort to improve "security and local government in the rural areas." 
The statement closed with the following two paragraphs^ which suhsecuent 
events made to appear ironic but which were jioxtaposed "with great care: 

"Together, the Government of Vietnam and the United States 
mission are making joint plans to achieve greater effectiveness 
against the infiltration threat. 

"In the course of the discussions ^ the United States repre- 
sentatives expressed full support for the duly constituted 
Government of Prim_e Minister Huong." 201/ 

As the following section will show, the joint planning that had just 
gotten underway for reprisal actions and Phase II operations was soon to 
be halted. It was deferred for a period of about three weeks during the 
forthcoming GV:! crisis. However, as implicit in the quoted paragraphs 
above, its resumption provided' effective U.S. leverage to help bring about 
an accommodation between the militery dissidents and the civilian regime. 

^' S^^L^IHIS. Late in the evening of 19 Decaraber, high-ranking 
South Vietnamese military leaders, led by General Khanh, moved to remove 
all power from the civilian regime of Premier Euong. The move came in 
the announced dissolution of the High national Council, which had been 
^--^ serving as a provisional legislature pending adoption of a permanent con- 

stitution, and the arrest of some of its members. Air Commodore Ky, acting 
as spokesman for the military, claimed that their intent was "to act as a 
mediator /to resolve/ all differences in order to achieve national unity." 
1!he immediate apparent conflict was with the Buddhists who had been demon- 
strating and threatening to provoke civil disorders in protest against the 
Huong governonent. In Ambassador Taylor's view, however, the underlying 
motive was growing antipathy with particular members of the High national 
Council, brought to a head by the Council's refusal to approve a military 
plan to retire General (Big) Minh from active service (and thus remove 
him from a position to contend with the ruling military clique). Moreover, 
the military had become quite impatient with the civilian officials. 202/ 

The general consensus among the Embassador, General Westmoreland 
and State Department officials v/as that General Khanh's relationship with 
the other influential generals and younger officers was rather uncertain. 
Therefore, they sought to bolster Premier Huong's resolve to remain in 
office on the basis of an understanding with the generals — even to the 
extent of seeking IQianh's resignation or dismissal. When presented with 

] ( U.S. view's, Khanh gave initial appearances of recognizing that the mili- 

tary seizure had directly defied the U.S. policy position and the stipulated 
basis for continuing joint GW/US efforts, and of accepting the need to 
withdraw. However, he quickly attempted to turn the crisis into a direct 

^ confrontation between himself and Ambassador Taylor. 203/ On the 22nd, 

he issued a strong public affirmation of the military leaders' actions, 

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of the need to avoid situations "favorable to the common enemies /commu- 
nism and colonialism in any form/?" and of the military's resolve "not 
to carry out the policy of any foreign country." On the sUth, informa- 
tion was received that he intended to pressure Premier Huong into 
declaring .^jnbassador Taylor personna non grata . 20U / 

Administration reaction to this challenge indicated that it con- 
sidered IQianh's defiance as a threat to the foxondations of U.S. policy in 
South Vietnam. Anhassador Taylor vras instructed to inform Huong that the 
U.S. C-overnment regarded the PilG issue as a "matter of gravest importance/' 
and that "any acceptance of ^/lOianh's/ demand or hesitation in rejecting 

I it would make it virtually impossible. . .to continue support /of the/ GW 

effort." Suggesting that Huong might asked if he thought the "American 
People could be brought to support continued U.S. effort in STO in face 
[ofj PI\G action against trusted Ajifoassador," the Administration urged 
persistence in encouraging Huong to seek an accommodation with the other 
military leaders. Moreover, high-^rariking MCV personnel were urged to 
exploit their close relationships with South Vietnamese counterparts to 
i encourage such an arrangement. As leverage^ Taylor was encom-aged to 

emphasize the intended directions of U.S. policy* subsequent to a 
strengthened and stable GW. Specifically, he was urged to point out 
that joint reprisals for unusual VC actions and "any possible future 
decision to initiate /the/ second phase" were impossible as long as 
^^--^ current conditions persisted. He was told, "without offering anything 

beyond tenns of your instructions you coiLLd use these to their fullest 
to bring /Ky and the other generals/ around." 20^/ 

There is no indication in the available sources that this advice 
was directly employed. It is evident, however, that Ambassador Taylor 
had explained the dependency of further U.S. actions on GVH progress very 
clearly to the key military leaders on 8 and 20 December. 206 / Therefore, 
they were well aware that continued U.S. assistance along the policy line 
explained to them v:as predicated on their cooperation, and this was 
demonstrated early in the crisis. Even before IQianh's public declaration 
of independence from U.S. policy, it became kno^m that joint talks con- 
cerning increased aid to the South Vietnamese war effort had been sus- 
pended. A few days later that fact was given additional circulation, 
with emphasis that this suspension included particularly any discussions 
of measures to reduce the infiltration from Laos and North Vietnam. 2^7/ 

The degree to which the suspensions of joint planning actions 
affected the judgments of the South Vietnainese generals is, of coiorse, 
not clear. Tvhat is apparent, ha: ever, is that this factor together with 
careful Embassy and Administration efforts to clarify possible misunder- 
standings led the generals to reconsider. 3y 28 December, Ambassador 
Taylor was reporting encouraging signs of an accommodation. 208 / On the 
' 29th, Secretary Rusk advised the President that the "generals were having 

seco]]d thoughts" and that "he hoped to see signs of political unity in 
Saigon soon." These comments were made in close cooperation with reports 

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that the Administration nov/ felt that Premier Huong's cabinet might 
require broader representation. Finally, on the ^th, the generals 
pledged to return to terms agreed to during the previous August thereby 
matters of state vould be left in the hands of a civilian government. 
The joint commuiiique issued by Huong and Khanh also promised to speedily 
convene a representative constituent assembly to replace the High National 
Council. 209/ 

The generals' reassessments vere no doubt helped by a strong 
U.S. public statement, directed toward the South Vietnamese press, ex- 
plaining the U.S. policy position to^rard that coimtry's political situ- 
ation. In language strikingly similar to the President's draft instruc- 
tions to Taylor, it included the follo^^ing: 

"The primary concern of the United States Government and 
its representatives is that there be in Saigon a stable 
governiaent in place, able* to speak for all its components, 
to carry out plans and to execute decisions. Without such 
a government, United States cooperation with and assistance 
to South Vietnam carmot be effective. 

"...The sole object of United States activities has been 
and continues to be the reestablishment as quickly as possible 
of conditions favorable to the more effective prosecution of 
the var against the Vietcong." 210/ 

Consistent v^-ith the expressed U.S. policy position, discussions between 
U.S. and GV^; officials" concerning expanded assistance to the South 
Vietnamese war effort were resumed on 11 January. 211 / 

However, the apparent reconciliation of South Vietnam's military 
and civilian leadership was short-lived. Close on the heels of an 
announced GVDI decision (17 January) to increase its military draft calls 
— long advocated by the U.S. Mission — student and Buddhist riots 
swept through Hue and Dalat. On the 20th, as arrangements were completed 
to appoint four leading generals to Premier Huong's cabinet, a leading 
Buddhist official issued a proclamation accusing the Huong Government of 
attempting to split the Buddhist movement. On the 21st, Tri Quang issued 
a statement ch^arging that the Huong Government could not exist without 
U.S. support, a charge that, gained in intensity in the days to follow. 
On the 23rd, Buddhist leaders ordered a military struggle against the 
United States. Denouncing Premier Huong as a lackey of the U.S. Ambassa- 
dor, they accused Taylor of seeking to wipe out Buddhism in Vietnam. In 
Hue, student-leC demonstrators sacked the USH. library and destroyed an 
estimated 8,000 books. TvnD days later, riots and strikes were in progress 
in Hue, Saigon and Da Hang, and Hue was placed under martial law. Mean- 
while, military leaders were attempting to convince Buddhist spokesmen 
to call off their demonstrations against the GViv and the united States. 
Finally, on the 27th, the generals withdrew their support from the Huong 

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Governrient^ and General IQianh issued a statement that he was resaming 
power "to resolve the political situation." Soon after, the Buddhist 
leaders issued orders to their i^ollowers to halt their demonstrations^ 
at least ujitil they had sufficient opportimity to observe the perfor- 
majice of the new regime. 212/ 

Thus, in late January, the United States Government was faced 
with a dilemma, in December, it had spoken out quite clearly to the 
effect that its continued assistance along previously determined policy 
lines was dependent upon the effective functioning of a duly constituted 
South Vietna^nese Government. By its actions and statements during the 
initial ^Becember crisis, it had indicated that what it had in mind was 
a civilian regime governing without interference from any particular 
group. Now, less than a month from the settlement of the former crisis 
along lines compatible with the preferred U.S. solution, it was faced 
with another military coup. A time for reassessing former policy 
decisions and taking stock of the shifting debits and assets in the U.S. 
position had arrived. 

^' Joint Reprisal s. Meanwhile, an issue of great significance 
to the Administration, as well as to future relations with the GYrl^ was 
adding to the growing dissatisfaction with progress achieved in other 
Phase One actions. One of the basic elements in Phase One policy was to 
have been Joint GTii/us reprisal actions in response to any "unusual 
actions' by the VC. When faced with a significant provocation at the 
end of Beceiiiber, the Administration failed to authorize such actions. 
At the^time, the circumstances in South Vietnam provided cogent reasons 
for nou doing so, but it nevertheless represented a significant departure 
from the agreed policy position. 

At the height of the first government crisis, on Christmas Sve, 
the Brink U.S. officers billet in do-l^,TItown Saigon was bombed and severely 
damaged. Two ^^mericans were killed and 58 injured; 13 Vietnamese also 
were^ injured, 213 / Ko suspicious person was observed near the bui.lding, 
so the reponsible party was unknown^ In reporting the incident, Am- 
bassador Taylor treated it as an occasion for reprisal action. The 
immediate Administration assessment was that under current political 
circumstaiices, neither the American public nor international opinion 
might believe that the VC had done it. Moreover, with clear evidence 
lacking, it felt that a reprisal at this time might appear as though 
we are trying to shoot our way out of an internal political crisis." 
Given the political disunity in Saigon, the Administration believed "it 
would be hard for /the/ American people to understand action to extend 
/the/ war.'' Therefore, so the reasoning vrent, it would be undesirable 
to undertake reprisals at that time. However, in cabling this assessment^ 
Secretary Rusk added: "but we are prepared to make quick decision if 
you /Taylor/ make recommendation with different assessment of above 
factors or with other factors not covered above." 2lU/ 

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Kecoiimiendations to tatce reprisal action came from several quar- 
ters. Citing what it called "a further indication'^ of Viet Cong respon- 
^- sibility, and cautioning against adding the Brink affair to the Bien Hoa 

instance of unreciprocated enemy provocation, ClKCPAG urged a reprisal 
attack. He argred'^that the "homoing of Brink EOQ, was an act aimed 
directly at U.S. armed forces in R'Tl^" and that failure to respond would 
only encourage further attacks. 215/ /jnbassador Taylor • forwarded what 
he termed "a unanimous recommendation" by himself and members of the U.S. 
Mission Council "that a reprisal bombing attack be executed /as soon as 
possible/" on a specified target ''accompanied by statement relating this 
action to Brink bombing." He stated that "no one in this part of the 
, world has /the/- slightest doubt of VC guilt" and pointed out that the TIL? 

was publicly taking credit for the incident. 2l6/ Citing Taylor's 
. request and concurring in his recomjnendation, even to the specific target 
selection, the JCS added their voices to those arguing for reprisals. In 
their proposed execute message to CIKCPAC, they proposed a one-day 
mission by kO strike aircraft against the Vit Thu Lu Army barracks. 
Further/ they recominended that the WAP should participate if their _ 
state of readiness and time permitted. 21?/ 

In spite of these strong reconmiendations, the decision was made 
not to retaliate for the Brink bombing incident. On 29 December, the 
following message was dispatched to the U.S. embassies in Southeast Asia 
and to CECPAC: 

"Highest levels today reached negative decision on proposal 
...for reprisal action for BOQ bombing. We will be sending 
fuller statement of reasoning and considerations affecting future 
actions Secretary's return from Texas tonight." 213/ 

Available materials do not include any fui'ther explanation. 

3- Policy Views in January 

As the new yea.r began, the Adniinistration was beset with frus- 
tration over an ■ apparent lack of impact from Phase One operations, over 
its failure to tak:e reprisals after an attack on U.S. personnel, and 
over the still troublesome crisis within the GVl\. In this mood, U.S 
policy was subjected to various kinds of criticismx and comiment. Some 
came from within the Administration^ various reactions came from outside 
it. . ■ . . 

a. Public Debate. At the height of the GT£ crisis, a nuaiber 
of newspapers anX^periodicals joined with the already committed (in 
opposition) and influential Eew Yo rk Tim es and St. Lou is Post Dispatc h 
in questioning U.S. objectives in'Southeast Asia and/or advocating U.S. 
withdrawal from the entanglements of South Vietnam. 219 / In the midst 
of this kind of public questioning, a major debate arose among members 
of Congress and enmeshed, on occasion, leading officials in the Adminis- 
tration. Leading off in opposition (26 December) was Senator* Church, 

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who criticized U.S. involvement in South Vietnain and urged a shift of 
policj'- in support of the neutralization of all Southeast Asia. Senator 
Dirksen voiced agreement (2 January) with the need for a policy reassess- 
ment, preferalsly involving both the Administration and bi-partisan 
Congressional leadership, but he stated his own view that "to give up in 
Vietnam means a loss of face throughout the Orient." 220/ 

The debate blossomed in January. In a particularly active 
television day, Sunday, 3 January, Secretary Pvusk defended Vietnam 
policy in the context of a year-end foreign policy report. Ruling out 
either a U.S. withdrawal or a major expansion of the war. Rusk gave 
assurances that with internal unity, and o-or aid and persistence the 
South Vietnamese could themselves defeat the insurgency. On another 
network, three Senators expressed impatience with U.S. policy in Vietnam 
and urged a public reevaluatiori of it. Senator Morse criticized our in- 
volvement in South Vietnam on a unilateral basis, while Senators Cooper 
and Monroney spoke in favor of a full-fledged Senate debate to "come to 
grips" with the situation there. Senator Mansfield also appeared on the 
3rd, to urge consideration of Church's neutralization idea as an alterna- 
tive to c-orrent policy but in keeping with the President's desire neither 
to withdraw nor carry the war to Korth Vietnam. 221/ On the 6th, in 
response to an Associated Press survey, the views in the Senate were 
shown to be quite divided. Of 63 Senators commenting, 31 suggested a 
negotiated settlem^ent after the anti-communist bargaining positions were 
iiiproved, vhile 10 favored negotiating imm.ediately. i^'ight others favored 
commitment of U.S. forces against I^iorth Vietnson, 3 urged Immediate with- 
drawal of U.S. advisers and military aid, and 11 stated that they didn't 
know what should be done other than to help strengthen the GVlJ. On 
11 January, Senator Russell reacted to a briefing by CIA Director McCone 
with a statement that "up until now we have been losing gro^and instead . 
of gaining it." He urged reevaluation of the U.S. position in South 
Vietnam, cautioning that unless a more effective government developed m 
Saigon the situation would become a prolonged stalemate at best. 222/ 

On Ik January, as a result of reports of the loss of two U.S. 
jet combat aircraft over Laos, accoxmts of U.S. air operations against 
Laotian infiltration routes gained wide circulation for the first time. 
One in particular, a U.P.I, story by Arthur Domiaen, in effect blew the 
lid on the entire YAlJTffiE TSAT.' operation in Laos since May of 19o4. 223/ 
Despite official State or Defense refusal to comment on the nature^ of the 
Laotian air missions, these disclosures added new fuel to the public 
policy debate. In a Senate speech the following day, in which he ex- 
pressed his uneasiness over "recent reports of .f^jnerican air strikes in 
Laos and Ilorth Vietnam," Senator McGovern criticized what he called "the 
policy, now gaining suiDnort in Washington, of extending the war to the 
north." He denied that'bombing Horth Vietnam could "seriously weaken 
guerrilla fighters 1,000 miles\way" and urged seeking a "political 
settlement" with Horth Vietnam. On the 17th, Senator Saltonstall told 
a radio audience that he thought bombing the supply lines in Laos was 


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was "the right thing to do." Senator Long and Congressman Ford indicated 
on a TV program that they didn't feel that such operations v^ere "a par- 
ticularly dangerous course" for the nation to follow and that they were 
the kind of actions that could help protect oux forces in South Vietnam- 
Senator Morse criticized the bombings as part of the Administration's . 
"foreign policy of concealment in Southeast Asia-" On the 19th5 in the 
Senate 5 ^he repeated his blasts, charging that the air strikes ignored 
the 19o2 Geneva Accords and violated the nation's belief in "substituting 
the rule of law for the jungle law of military might." Broadening his 
attack^he warned that "there is no hope of avoiding a massive war in 
Asia if the U.S. policy tovrard Southeast Asia were to continue without 
change . 22U / 

"^- Policy Assessm.ents. The intensifying public debate and the 
events and forces which precipitated it brought about an equally search- 
ing reassessment of policy within the Administration, While there is 
little evidence in the available materials that shows any serious ques- 
tioning^ of ^ former policy decisions among the Principals, questioning did 
occur within the agencies which they represented. It is clear that some 
of the judgments and alternative approaches were discussed with these ITSC 
members, and presumbably, some found their way into discussions with the 

One very significant and probably influential viewpoint was 
registered by the Saigon Embassy- In a message (TAB E) described as ' 
the reflections of Alexis Johnson and Ambassador Taylor on which 
General Westmoreland concurred, the thrust of the advice seemed to be 
to^move into Phase Two, almost in spite of the political outcome in 
Saigon. ^After listing four possible "solutions" to the then-unsettled 
Qr^h^. crisis, ^Tay lor identified either a military takeover coupled with 
Huong s resignation or a successor civilian govermaent dominated by the 
military as equally the worst possible outcomes. (it is Important to 
note here that, depending on how one interprets the structure of the 
January 27th regime, one or the other of these was in fact the case at 
the beginning of the air strikes in February, 1965.) In the event of 
such an outcome, Taylor argued that the United States could either 

carry on about as we are now" or "seek to disengage from the present 
intLmacy of relationship with the G\a^" while continuing "to accept re- 
sponsibility for /its/ air and maritime defense. - .against the DEV." In 
the case of disengagement, he argued, the United States could offset the 
danger of South Vietnamese leaders being panicked into making a deal 
with the ilL? "if we were engaged in reprisal attacks or had initiated 
Phase II operations against DRV." The message then s^omiaarized the three 
different conditions under which the Mission officials thou-rhtPhase^Two" 
operations could be undertaken: 

"A. In association with the GW after the latter has proved 
itself as a reasonably stable government able to control 
its armed forces- 

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B. Under a situation such as now as an emergency stimulant 
hopefully to create unity at home and restore failing 

C* As a unilB.teral U.S. action to compensate for a reduced 
in-country U.S. presence." (Underlining added) 

^In other vords, under any conceivable alliance condition short of complete 
U.S. abandcrmient of South Vietnam, /jiibassador Taylor and his top-level 
associates in Saigon sav the graduated air strikes of Phase Two as an 
appropriate course of action. As they concluded, "Without Phase II opera- 
tions, we see slight chance of moving toward a successful solution." 225/ 

Within the more influential sections of the State Department, 
policy reexamination took a similar, though not identical, tack. Rather 
than adjust the substance or projected extent of the pressures policy, . 
the tendency vras to recalculate and adjust the conditions under which it 
was considered appropriate to apply it. The motivation for a reassess- 
ment was the sense of impending disaster in South Vietnam. What the 
Saigon Embassy reports appear to have portrayed at the time as concrete 
instances of foot-dragging, political maneuvering, and sparring for ad- 
vantage among political and military leaders seem to have been interpre- 
ted in Washington as an impending sell-out to the xILF. Por example, the 
Assisoant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, who had been an important 
participant in the policy and decision-making processes through most of 
19o4, offered the following prognosis: 

...the situation in Vietnam is now likely to come apart 
more rapidly than we had anticipated in 'November. We would 
still stick to the estimate that the most likely form of 
coming apart would be a government or key groups starting to 
negotiate covertly with the Liberation Front or Hanoi, perhaps 
not asking in the first instance that we get out, but with 
that necessarily following at a fairly early stage." 226/ 

The perceived impacts of a collapse in Saigon on other nations — 
perhaps even more than the political fortunes of South Vietnam itself — 
were^a significant part "of the State Department calculations (Tab F) . If • 
a unilateral "Vietnam solution" were to be arranged, so the thinking went 
in January I965, not only would Laos and Cambodia be indefensible, but 
Thailand's position would become unpredictable. Bundy wrote: 

Most seriously, there is grave question whether the Thai 
m these circumstances would retain any confidence at all in 
our continued support. .. .As events have developed, the itoeri- 
can public would probably not be too sharply critical, but the 
real question v/ould be whether Thailand and other nations were 
veakened and taken over thereaft-er. " 


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The reasons vhy this kind of impact vas "believed likely >/as related to a 
perceived lack of realism or effectiveness in U.S. policies during the 
late autumn. Bundy reflected an appajrently videly shared concern that 
Administration actions and statements since the election had convinced 
the VietnaBiese and other Asians that the U.S. Govermnent did not intend 
to take stronger action and vas "possibly looking for a way out." 
Moreover, he saw this impression being created by our ''insisting on a 
more perfect government than can reasonably be expected, before ve con- 
sider any additional action -- and that ve might even pull out our 
support unless such a government emerges.'' 22?/ 

To change this impression and reverse the disturbing trends, 
Bundy and others in State suggested stronger actions, even though recog- that these actions incurred certain risks. Hoirever the immediate, 
actions suggested fell somewhat short of Phase T\ro (a term that vas not 
used^in the correspondence). They included: (l) ''an early occasion for 
reprisal action..."; (2) "possibly beginning lov-level reconnaissance of 
the DRV,.."; (3) ^'an orderly withdrawal of our dependents," which v/as 
termed "a grave mistake in the absence of stronger action"; and (U) 

introduction of limited U.S. ground forces into the northern area of 
South Vietnam. ..concurrently with the first air attacks into the DRV." 
They downgraded the potential of further intensifying the air operations 
m^Laos, indicating that such actions "would no_t meet the problem of 
Saigon morale" and might precipitate a "Communist intervention on a 

substantial scale in Laos " The perceived risks of the suggested 

actions were: (l) a deepened U.S. commitment at a tim^e when South 
Vietnamese will appeared weak; (2) the likelihood of provoking open 
opposition to U.S. policies in nations like India and Japan; (3) the 
imcertainty of any meaningful stiffening effort on the GW.; and (k) the 
inability of "limdted actions against the southern DRV" to sharply reduce 
infiltration or "to induce Hanoi to call it off." 223/ 

If the graduated, "progressively mounting," air operations of 

Phase ^11 were iraplied by these suggestions, it appears that they were 

perceived as being entered rather gingerly and with little intent to 

intensify them to whatever extent might be required to force a decision 

in Hanoi. Rather, the expectancies in State vrere quite different: "on 

balance we believe that such action would have some faint hope of really 

improving the Vietnamese situation, and, above all, would put us in a 

much stronger position to hold the next line of defense, namely Thailand." 

Moreover, Bundy and others felt that even with the stronger actions, the 

negotiating process that they believed was bound to come about could not 

be ^ expected ^ to bring about a really secure and independent South Vietnam. 

Still, despite -^his shortcoming, they reasonel that their suggested 

^'^stronger actions" would have the desirable effect in Southeast Asia: 

...we would stiir have appeared to Asians to have done a lot more about 
it." 229/ 

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Underlying the State Department's concerns over the impact of 
U.S. Vietnam policy on the rest of Southeast Asia were current develop- 
ments in the communist vorld. For one thing, the Soviet Union h^d 
re-entered Southeast Asian politics in an active way, after a period of 
nearly three yeais of diligent detachment. Following a reported Soviet, 
pledge in Fovember to increase economic and military aid to North Viet- 
nam, the Administration held a series of conversations in December with 
representatives of the new Soviet regime. During at least one of these 
-- in addition to exchanging the now standard respective lines about who 
violated the Geneva Accords -- Secretary Rusk stressed the seriousness 
of the situation created by Hanoi's and Peking's policies, implying 
strongly that we vrould remain in South Vietnaiii until those policies 
changed or had resulted in "a real scrap. *' Soviet Foreign Minister 
Gromyko replied that if the United States felt so strongly about improv- 
ing^ the situation in Vietnam, "it Sxhould be willing to attend an inter- 
national conference to discuss Laos and Vietnam. - However, he would not 
agree with P.usk's request for assurances that Laos would be represented 
by Souvanna Phouma. 230/ 

Vlithin a few weeks of this conversation, I-^lr. Gromyko sent 
assurances to the DRV that the Soviet Union would support it in the 
face of aggressive actions by the United States. Further, he expressed 
the official Soviet view that it was the duty of all participants in the 
Geneva agreements to take txhe stens necessary to frustrate U.S. military 
plans to extend the war in Indo-China. This note, sent on 30 December, 
was made public in a renewed call on h January for a conference on Laos, 
to be convened without preconditions On 17 January, Pravda carried an 
authoritative statement' warning that "tlie provocations of the armed 
forces of the United States and their Saigon puppets against North Viet- 
nam carried dangers of "large armed conflict," and citing naval attacks 
on the DRV coast and U.S. air attacks in. Laos as examples. On the 22nd, 
in letters to both Hanoi and Peking, Gromyko reiterated the Soviet pledge 
to aid north Vietnam in resisting any U.S. military action. 231/ 

In addition to renewed Soviet activity in Southeast Asia, that 
of Communist China also a-opeared ominous. Fanned by Svikarno^s abrupt 
withdrawal of Indonesia's"' participation in the U.N. , some U.S. officials 
voiced concern over the development of a "Peking-Jakarta axis" to prom^ote 
revolution in Asia. North Vietnam, together with North Korea, were seen 
as natijral allies who rnAght join in to form an international grouping 
exerting an attraction on other Asian states to counter that of the U.N. 
Peking was viewed as the insti^-'-ator and urime benefactor of such a group- 
ing. 232/ ■ . " ^ 

in OSD. 

Complementing the State Department policy assessments, were those 
For example, in early January, Assistant Secretary LIcNaughton 
regarded U.S. stakes in South Vietnam as: (l) to hold onto "buffer real 
estate" near Thailand and Llalaysia and (2) to maintain our national 


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reputation. In his view the latter was the more important of the two. 
Sharing the State view that South Vietnam was being lost (''this means 
that a government not unfriendly to the DRV will probably emerge within 
two years"), he believed that the U.S. reputation would suffer least 
"if we continue to support South Vietnam and if Khanh and company con- 
tinue to behave like children as the game is lost." However, he pointed 
out that "dogged perseverance" was also recoimnended because the situation 
might possibly improve. 233 / 

In specific terms, Llcrlaughton defined perseverance as including 
the following course of action: 

"a. Continue to take risks on behalf of SViT. A reprisal 
should be carried out soon. (Dependents could be removed at 
that time.) 

b. Keep slugging away. Keep help flowing, BUT do not 
■ increase the ni-Mber of US men in SVrl. (Additional US sol- 
diers are as likely to be counter-productive as productive.) 

c. Do not lead or appear to lead in any negotiations. . 
Chances of reversing the tide will be better and, if we don*t 
reverse the tide, our reputation will emerge in better condi- 

d. If we leave, be sure it is a departure of the kind 
which would put everyone on o^or side, wondering how we stuck 
it and took it so long." 

In the event of inability to prevent deterioration within South Vietnam, 
he ui^ged the developraent of plans to move to a fall-back position by 
helping shore-up Thailand and Malaysia. 23V 

An OSD assessment made imiaediately after the Khanh coup in late 
January adds perspective to this vie^Toint. In it, McITaughton stated 
and Secretary McUsjiiara agreed, "U.S. objective in South Vietnam, is net 
to *help friend^ but to contain China." In particular, both Malaysia 
and Thailand were seen as the next targets of Chinese aggressiveness. 
Neither official saw any alternative to "keep plugging" insofar as U.S„ 
efforts inside South Vietnam were concerned. However, outside the 
borders, both favored initiating strikes against Morth Vietnam. At first, 
they believed, these should take the form of reprisals; beyond that, the 
Administration would have to "feel its way" into stronger, graduated 
pressures. McUaughton doubted that such strikes would actually help 
the situation in South Vietnam, but thought they should be carried out 
any^'-ay. McIIamara believed they probably would help the situation, in 
addition to their broader imua^ts on the U.S. position in Southeast 
Asia, 235/ 

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T- — 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Though different in some respects, all of these policy views 
pointed in a similar direction. In his own way, each Principal argued 
that it was unproductive to hold off on further actions against ITorth 
Vietnam until the GVIT began to operate in an effective manner. Each 
suggested broadtr benefits that could be gained for the United States 
if firmer measures were taien directly against the DRV. 

The impact of these views can be seen in the policy guidance 
emanating from V/ashington in mid and late January 1965o For example, 
on the llth, Anibassador Taylor was apprised of Administration doubts 
that General Khanh had put aside his intentions to stage a coup and 
was given ccansel for such an eventuality. Essentially, the guidance 
was to avoid actions that would further commit the United States to any 
particular form of political solution. The underlying rationale ex- 
pressed was that if a military goverrmient did emerge, "we might well ■ 
have to swallow our pride and^/ork with it." 236/ Apparently, the 
A.dministration's adamant insistence on an effective GVl:- along lines 
specified by the United States had been eroded. However, on the iHh, 
guidance to Taylor indicated that the Administration had not yet 
determined to move into a phase of action more vigorous than the current 
one. In the immediate wake of public disclosures concerning the bombing 
operations in Laos, Secretary Rusk concurred in Taylor's proposal to brief 
the^GVil leaders on these operations, but cautioned against encouraging 
their expectations of new U.S. moves against the r.orth. Rusk considered 
"it "essential that they not be given /the/ impression that _^ARRSL ROLL, 
etc^Z i-^epresents a major step-up of act ivity"^ against the DRV or that it 
represents an important new phase of U.S. operational activity." 237 / 
The jjmnediate matter for speculation was the striking of a key highway 
bridge in Laos, but the program still called for two missions per week. 

Clear indication that the Administration was contemplating some 
kind of increased military activity came on 25 January. Ajnbassador 
Taylor was asked to comment on the "Departmental view" that U.S. depen- 
dents should be withdrawn to "clear the decks" in Saigon and enable 
better concentration of U.S. efforts on behalf of South Vietnam. 238 / 
Previously, the JCS had reversed their initial position on this issue 
and requested the removal, a view which was for^^/arded to State "for con- 
sideration at the highest levels of government" in mid-January. £39/ 
Recalling the Bundy policy assessment of 6 January (T./\B F) , it will be 
noted that clearing the decks by removing dependents was recommended only 
in association with "stronger actions." However, there is no indication 
of any decision at this point to move into Phase Two. The Rusk cable 
made specific reference to a current interest in reprisal actions. More- 
over, consideration of later events and decisions compels the Judgment 
that it was only reprisals which the Administration had in mind as 
January drew to a close. 

■go TOP SECRET - Sensi tive 

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 


TOP SSCI^,T - Sf^nsitivs 


October 196k - Jcnui^ry 19^5 

I. SNIE 53-2- 6^1, 1 October 196i;, pp. 1-3 passim . (ITOP SECRET). 
2- IbM., p. 7; see also pp. 1, 2, 9 (TOP SECRET). 

3. S?TIS 10--3.-6^, 9 Octobsr 196^^, p. 2 (TOP SECRET). 

k, Taylor to Itepaa^tnent of State, ik October ISoh (TOP SECRET). 

5. Taylor messs^e to President Johnson, l6 October ISSk (jF^ 303, DTG 

1610303), dascrlbed in CJCS msmorandi-Lm to SecD-af, "Courses of 

Action, Southeast Asia," 27 October 19o^ (JCS M-902-650 (TO? 
SECR'S) . 

6. "Cha-onolosicia Study of Infllbre.tlon from North Vietnam", 
24 Cctobsr 196k (secret). 

■7. See Peter Gro^e, in Nov York TirriCs , 2 Octobor 196h. 

8. CJCS Eiemorandira to SscBa-^, "Ana.lV3is of South.iast Asia Actions," 
21 October lS)Sk {jCSlA-'B33^6k) (in Viatnsm 38I: Sensitive file) 

9. JCSM-902-6it, 27 October 196h (TOP SECRET). 

10. Ibid. 

II. SecDof Menvore.nd-'xm to CJCS, "Ccnrees of Action, Southeast Asia," 
29 October 1951^ (In Vietnam 38I: Sensitive file) (TOP SECRET). 
See also Joint State/D^fenss mcssasc to /unbassador Taylor, 29 
October 2S6k (D^fens?; ■'3lf-2) (in Vietnara 38I: ITovcmbsr file) 

12. S22Ll2£LIi22.E^ 2 November 1951^. 


NS/uM 3IU, 10 SeptCTiber 1961f (TO? SECRET) . 

Ik. CJCS Kessage to CINGPAC, r-^AGV and Ambassador Taylor, 1 November 
190'+ (JCS 11^51) (in vietnaia 38I: Novcmbar file) (TOP SECRET). 

15. Sea Tad Szu].a, Kov_Y ork Times , 2 November 190!;. ' • 


16. CJCS to CniCPAC, et e.l, .1 November 196'^ (TOP SEGP.ET). 
IT- l^ad-tinq-bon Po^t, 5 November 196^. 

. ■ ' 81 • TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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

TOP SECPJJT " Sensitive 

18. Described in CJCS mcraorendura to ScsD'?ij "Recoimendod U.S. Courses 
of Action in delation to Viet Cong Attack on Bien Hoa Airfield, 

1 November 196^ (SECRET)" It Korember 196h (jCS.l-933-6^r) (TOP SECRET). 

19. Saigon 1357, in Taylor msssasa to SecDaf, 5 Novembsr 196^^- (Saison 
251) (In Vietnsra 38I: November file) (TOP SECEEl') . 

20.' Tr.ylor to Secl>?f, 3 November 1964 (TO? SECRET). 

21. JCSM-933-6'+, h Novorabar 1964 (TOP SECRHT). 

22. See McNeiiara mcmorEndira to CJCS, "Eecotinisnded U.S. Courses of Action 
in Relation to Viet Con"' Att'^ck on Bicn Hoa Airfield, 1 Novembsr 1964 
(SECRET)", 13 Kovcaber 1964 (in Vistneum 38I: November file (TOP 

23. Jonathan Moore meiaoranduni, 3 November 1964 (in Stato Department 
Materials, Vol. Il) (CONFIDSI^IAL) . 

24. Ibid . 

25. "ProjGct Cjutline," 3 November 1964, attachment to Corcorezi laemorandun 
to Michael Forrestal, 3 Novcraber 1964 (in State Departmont Materials, 

26. See his d3scription of vork in I^ustin meraorandura to ChalriTian, NSC 
Working Group on Southeast Asia^ "Additional Material for Project 
on Courses of Action in Southeast Asia", l4 November 1964 (in 
State Departraont Materials, Book III) (TOP SECRET) . 

27 » For exsjtnple, see New Yo rk Times and Ne'.r York Journ al A'nerican, 

2 November 1964 and Chicnio Tribune, 3 November 196-!^; 

28. Peter Grose, New York Tlmso, 2, 6, and 8 November 1964. 

29 « Bu.nay draft working papsr^, "Conditions for Action and Key Actions 
Surrcvmdlng Any B^^cision," 5 Kovenfber 196^v (in State Department 
Materials^ Vol II.) (TOP£SCREr)c 

30e Siaiivcai meraorrjidum to AssistsP-t Secretary Bundy, ''Courses of Action 
in Vietntxni," 6 KovemlDcr 195^1- (in State Department Materials^ Vol II ) 
(top BSCRST)^ 

31. CLA.-DIA~IIIR Panel draft paper ^ "Section I - The Situr^/tion," 6 Ilovember 
196h (In use Workins Group 'forking Papers") (TOP SECPvET). 

32o .McIJaughton dr^ft outline, "Action for South Vietna.-ajs"'7 rio^amhor 196*1- 
(In Stats Department Materials, Vol, II) (TOP EECPvILT). 

33 • Intelliscnca panel draft p^.per, 6 Kovember 196h (TOP SECRZiT) . • 

82 TOP E3CPJ^ - 3?5nsitive 

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

TOP EIICRZU - Sensitive 

I III II II I III T [ T - I ■- — ■ ""~ 

3h. Ibid , 

35. Mnctin working pap^r^ "Cornmants on CIA-DLA.-INR Panel Dreuft Section I - 
The Situation," enc^looxiro to joint Staff memor^Jidiicn, 10 ITovember l$6k 
(In State B-parfcnent iMaterials^ Vol. II) ['£0F SilCRET). 

36. rbid> 

37* NSC Working Group on Vietnt?jn (Southsast Asia)j "Section I: Intelligence 
Asso^oinent: The Situation in Vletne;n/^ 2!i- Novcnxber 195^4-, ppo 6, 7-8 
(Ln State Department Materials, Vol. IV) (TOP SECRET). 

39» Ibid., p. 12. . ■ 

^^0" I^'h:^ PP* 1^J--15; p assim . 

fa. NSC Working Group on Southe^Bt Asia^ "Section II: U.S. ObjGCtiven 
and Stak.!is in Soutii Vietnam end Southeast Asia," 8 November 196h 
, (In Dr^ft Papers of NSC Working Group, 17 Wovcmber 196^r, AFXPDR3 
QlSO-Sk) (TOP SECHETT). S02 also draft (quoted in parts) in 
enclosuTG to Kustin memorondum to Chcixr.i;.n, NSC Working Group, 
"Comm^^nt on Draft for Text II of Project Oixtlins on Courses of 
Action in Southei',st Asia," 10 Novoniber 195^ (TOP SECRET) and Revised 
Drc-ft, ''Svnmoxy - Courses of Action in Southca^it Asia," 21 November 
19^^-i- (TOP SECRET) (Both in State Dopartiasnt Materials, Vol. II and 
Vole IV). 

lv2o Ibid. 

k^. Ibid. 

kh. NSC VJorkins Group, Section 11, 8 Kovecber 2.96k (TOP SECRET). 

k3^ ll)id. 

1^6. Forrestal m-sn: or a.n dura to Assistant Secretary &JU.dy, "Comments on 

Input - II U.S. Objectives and Stages in South Vietnam and So\itheast 
Asia," k NoveiTibcr 196ii- (in Stats E-spartmsnt Materials, Vol. II) 

h'J. Sixllivan to' Etmciy, vith attached xxnclassificd paper, 6 NoveiTiber 196^ 

(to? sECisa.0. 

hd, Mustin to Chainaan, 10 ITovoinber 196*;, pp. 1, 2, 3 (TOP SECEST). 

h9. Ibid., pp. k, 5, 6. 

50. Revised Draft, "Syrarasry," 21 Noveiaber 196^4, pp. 3-4 (TOP SECRET). 

,•83 TOP SECRET- ~ Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13^26, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

3 J- 4 

TOP SSCRST -._S-"g^s jJiJ:X£ 

^lo Rid . J pc 6. 

52. Ibid ., pp. 5-6. 

53. Ibid., pp. 5|-5. ss^ also KSC vJoi'king Grcap. "Section 11," 8 Novcnbcr 
19Sk (top 3ECRET). 

5!^. iMustin to Chaiannsun, 10 Korcja-ber 19^^ (TO? SECHIM). 

55. See Revised Draft, "Svranary," 21 Novembar 19^^, p. 7 (TOP SECRET). 

57. "i^oject Oiitlina/' 3 iJovember 19^^ (TOP SECRET). 
58 c 

59. HcNaughton's first di.'ai't oiitlino, "Action for South Vietnwa/' 

5 IIover:b£r I96U (m Mdlaughtcn II) (SECRET). See also his "Pl8,n of 
Action for South Yietnem/' 3 Ssptsmbor 196'^ sxil "Aaids and Options 
in Southeast Asia," I3 October 195'-!- (TO? SECR3T). 

60. S 


ae KSC vforkinc. Group, "Section III", 17 November 3.96h, and "Section 
I," 11 Hovembar 196^ (TOP SECRIi^T). 

61. Must in to Chairaian, Ik November 196ij- (TOP SECRET) 

62. "Project Outlin.2," 3 Kovembsr 196k (TOP SECRET). 

Vol. II). 

6'i. Robert Johnson Kieaorandum to Assistant Secretary Bimdy, "Comments 

on Draft Material for Report of KSC Vorkins Group," 10 ITovamber 196^1- 
(in Str.te Department Materiais, Volo II) (TOP SECRET). 

65 e See McKaugli-tou's penciled cc^aents in margin of Bimdy di'aft^ "Analysis 

of Option C^" attached to Bitndy moi's.orandu.ii to ITSC Working Groupj . 

10 Novern.ber 195^ (TO? SECSFi')« 

66. use l.'orkins Group, "Section V," 8 Kovsmber 196^ (TOP SECRET). 

67. S^ollivtcn to Bi-mdcr, 6 Kovernbcr 196^4 (TO? SECRET). 

8h ' TOP SECRET - Sensitivo 

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

TOP SSCKST " Sensitive 

68. Ses Bvnaj draft, "The Eroad 0:>tionsj" 7 Hovcnbor 19o!+ (TOP SECRET) 

and its discussion of Option. A (incliidad as p-'jort of ell other options). 

69. Johnson to Bundyj 6 Kovcm"ber 196h (SECRET) o 

70. Bundy d^-cffc^ "The Broad Options/' 7 TIovenilDer 196k (TOP SECBSl). 

71. Sos Sullivan to Bimdy, 6 llovesfoev 196k (TOP SECFvSlO; Johnson to 
Bundy, 6 rjovembsr IpS^i- (TOP SSCPJilT); CLA.-DU~IFR Par.el draft pcpcr, 
6 Koveaher I96U (TOP SECRET). ... 

72. 522 KSC Working Group, "Section III/' and "Section V," 8 Kovemher 
196^^ (TOP SECRET); also I^«vised Draft "Summaay," 21 November 196^, 
pp. 10, 12-15 (TOP SECRET). 

73.. 2&(^mc Working Group, "Section III," 17 November 196hj end . "Section 
VI," 11 November 19Dii- (TO? SECRET); slso Revised Draft, "Su':mary," 
21 Rovembar 195^^, pp. 10, I7 (TOP SECRET). 

7^!-. See 

NSC Working Grou.p, "Section III," 17 November 19o'4-, ?,nd "Section 

, " 13 Novfflsbar 196^1- (TOP SECE3T)j alao Revised Dr,aft, "Sur-Eitirj-, " 
Novcjiibar 1Q?^1.!._ r.r,_ in„TT o^-oc; /"nr-np r.FnR^r^ . 

vAj., J.J, u^jveincsr iyb4 (TOP SECEKT;; a.LKO nevis 
21 Novmbor I96I:-, pp. 10-11, 23-25 (TOP SECF.5I) 

75. Sse Eevissd Draft, "Sur;mary, " 21 November 196^!-, VI?' 1^-15 (TOP 

:CP£T) . 

76. "Alternative Foras of Ne<yoti&tionG — Alternative E," 6 Noveicbsr 19^'-i- 
p. 20 (secret). 

77. "Altsi'?ip.tive Forms of Negotiations — Sane Ccmpaisons of the 
Negoti.ating Sitmitions Under the Thi'ce Policy Alten^z^tives," 
6 November 196'+ (SECRET). 

7^' Jbid.; see also Johnson to Bandy, "Furthsr Thoughts," 6 Novenbor 19514- 

79. KSC Working Group, "Section VII," 13 Novenibsr 196!+ (TOP SECRET); 

Revised Draft, "SuTiiainy, " 21 Novenbar 19^^, pp. 2!4-25 (TOP SECRET), 

80.. "Mtarnativa Forms of Negotiation — A-lternative B," 6 November 196''i-, 
pp. 1-2 (secret), 

81. See Ibid., pp. 12-19 passim. (SECFJIT). 

■82.- NSC Working Group, "Stction III," 17 Noveabsr 196'!- and "Section Yl," 
13 Novcabcr 3-96Ii. (TOP SECRET); see al^o Bundy draft, "The Eroad 
Options," 7 November I96J1- (TOP SECRSI'). 

83. Ib_id.; Revised Di'aft, "Summary," 21 November 196'-l-, pp. 25-26, 27 (TOP 

,85 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

^^* 2li^»; s^^ £j-so draft, vith penciled carjnentSj "An^aysis of Option 
C,*' 10 Koveinber 196^4- (TOP SECRET). 

85. Revised Draft, "Sionun^ry/* 21 Noveniber ISSh, pp. 8-9, 15, 21-22^ 
28^29 (TOP SECRET) o 

86. rbide, pp. 13^ 15; ijQQ Uorking Grou-o^ ''Section V," 8 KovOT.'ber 196^ 
. ItOP SECIiST) . 

87. KSC Working Group, "Section V," 8 Ilovem'ber 19^'^ (TOP SECRET)* 

88. Revised Draft, "Summary," 21. November 19^^, P- 15, (TOP SECRET). 

89. Ibid., p. l6. 

90. KSC VorkiPs Group, "Seation VI, " 13 November 196*^ (TOP SECB2T)o 

91. H3C Working Grom:), "Seotion II" (poi=tion completsd 11 November I96IO 

92. "A3.ternative Forms of Negotiation — Alternative B," 6 ITovaiober 196h, 
pp. 'i, hv,j kh (SECPJilT). ^ . 

93* Revised Draft, "S\2mriary," 21 Kovsraber 196'+, P?. 17-21, Hi^SlS' ('^^^ 
■ SECRET); sae also NSC Working Group, "Section VI," 13 KovcinbGr 196^ 

S)h, rbid., ppo 28, 29 o ■ ' ■ 

95. IM^'j pp. 25-2TJ KGc Working Group, "Section VII," 13 November 19Sk 

96. .Ibid. 

97. Marshall Green mcmorcJidum to Assistant Secretary Bunoy, "Negotiating 
Positions on Vietnam," 16 November 196^ (in Stats Eepartaent Materials 
Vol. HI ) (TOP SECRET). 

98. Bi.indy memorandum to tha Principals, "Issues Raised by Papers on 
Southeast Asia, ** 24 Noveniber 196k (in State D^psrtment Materials, Vol. 

99. Revised Draft, "Summary," 21 November 196^^, pp. 20, 28 (TOP SECRET) » 

100 o CJC3 laemorandim to SecDef, "Operation Plan SkA - Additional Actions 
(SECRET)," lif November 196h (CM-258-6U) (in Vietnm 38I: Sensitive 
file) (TOP SECRET). 

101. CISC neraorandixu to Secl>2f, "Ccarrsas of Action in Southeast Asle, " 
1^4- Novsmber I96U ( JCSM-955-6'4) (TOP SECRET) . 


QS ■ TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 20 11 

TOP SECFlET - Sensitive 

102., CJCS mamorand^jini to SecEef, "Courses of Action in Southeast Asia^" 
18 No-e-tib-r lS6h (jCS'l-SSl-^k) (in Vietn^ 38I: Sensitive file) 

/ * 



■iindy ne-'iorarxdun to SecDsf, Director CIA^ sJid CJCS, "Review of 
Working Draft on Coiirse of Action in Southeast Asia/' 1? Kovenibsr 
1964 (In State Department Matcrisas, Vol, III) (SECRET), 

104. CJCS meaorandum to SecDef, "Courses of Action in Southeast Asip.j" 

23 Nove.-nber 1S6U (JC3M-982-64) (top SECRET). 

105. Ibid. 

106. Ibid. .' 

107. Rostov; Eiemorandi:b-n to Secretary McNamara, "Military Dispositions snd 
Political Signals," 16 Koverober I96J+ (in Yietnsja 38I: November 
me) (TOP SECRET). 

lOS. Ibia. 


109. R03tCT7 to Sscret,?.rj,- Rusl:, "Seme Obsei'vations As Ve Ccm^ 
to the Ci-unch in Southeast Asia/' 23 November 19-6^^ (in Vietnaa 

r~^ ' 381 : November filo) (TOP SECPiET). 

110. Ibid,- 

111. Ibid . 


112 Nev YoT\ Tjjqes . 2^ and 28 November 1961^ . 

113. Bjnay to Principals, 2!! November 196!!- (TOP SSCRSl). 

11'4-, Eu-ndy riemorandutn to the PrincipcJLs, "Issues Raised by Papers on 
Southeast Asia," 25 November lS6k (in State Depaiiiment Materials, 
■ Vol, IV) (to? SECRET); hcjidwritten notes of Principals Meeting, 
24 November lS6h (COI'JFIDEI-?I'IAL) . 

115. rbid. 

116. Htmdvrritten meeting notes, 2k November 19^4 (CONFIDEKi'IAL) . 

117. Ball draft 'paper in four parts (yjidated) (in State Department 
Materials, Vol. iv) (sECPJS)o 

118. Handwritten meeting notes, 2h November 19^'+ (CONFIDStfTLAi) o 

119. roid.; see also LMndy to Principals, 25 Noveraber 196h (TOP 5ECPST) . 

120. Ibid, 

87 TO P SECRET " SenGitive 

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

TOP SECRITT - Sensitive 

121. Ibid. 

122o Hraid/a-itten naetlns notesj 2k Noveiaber 1^5^^ (COIIFIDET'ITIAL), 
123 o Sea Nct York Ti7!i.£!3 . 25 riovamber Ip^^!-. 

12U. Taylor brief jn^, "Th.s Cu.i'rent Situation in So^-ith Yiet-NOT - Itova-absr, 
196^^" 27 November .T9oi!- (in State Dspartmsnt Materials, Vol., IV) 

125. Ibid. 

126. Ibid. 

127. Ibid. 


128. Ibid. 
129 o Ibid . 

130 o Ibid. ■ ' 


132. Ibid. 

133. Ibid . 

IS't. Bundy to Principals, 2? Novorabar JS-Sk (TO? SECRET). 

135. HeJid'.a-itton neatins notes, 2? Kovenber 19^^ (COHFIDSTITIAL) . 

136. Bimcly to Princip.sJ.s, 27 November I96H (TOP SECRHl). 

137. Bundy memoranduio to Southeast Asia Principals, "Scenario for 
Iramediat" Action Rt'cgram, " 23 IJovsmbcr 19^^ (in State Dspartmcnt 
Materials, Vol . v) (TOP SECRET) . 

138. nand^Tritten notes of Pi^incipals Meeting, 28 NoveEiber 1961i- (CCtlFIDSITIIAi) . 

139. Ibid. 

l':0. Ibi^;''* '^^® ^"i-so William P. Biuidy "Kemorandaii to Southeast Asia 
EL-incip.^ls," ,29 Novc-nber 196i^ and attachment, "Draft iTSAI-l on 
Southeast Asia" (in State D-partmant Materials, Vol. V) (TOP SECHBT). 

lli-l. Eundy to Principals, 29 Novembsr 196'4- (TOP SECRET).- 

' 88 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13^26, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


TOP EECKST - Serisitive 

11^2. "Drafi; IISM/' 29 Noverabsr 196k (TOP SECRET). 

1^3» Ibid . 

lUlv. PenGiled notss ou original "l&'cn IISM/' 29 Novarabsr 196h (TOP 

IU5. See KSC Working Group, "Section V/' 8 Kovc-mljer 196'4 (TOP SECRET). 


lk6. "■Drs.ft mm," 29 November 19^^^ (TOP SSCPJ3T) . 

11^7. B'ondy to Principals, 28 November 19^^ (TOP SSCEST) . 

ll|8, Amex I to Taylor "briefing, 27 November 196'!- (TOP SECRET). 

11^9. Rerioed Draft, "Sunirrary," p?. 25, 26, revised 25 November 1964 

150. Nay York TM qs and Ths Was hington Post , 2 December 196li-. 

151. Eandw'ritten notes of VJhite House meeting, 1 Decenibar 1961^. 

152. Ibid . 
153.. Ibid. 

1511-. Statement to the Govcrment of the Republic of Vietnam. 

155. Hand-?-rrittsn mseting notes, 1 December 19oh (CONFIDENTIAL). 

156. Te;d; in Kaw York Ti mes, 2 Doc ember 19oh. 

157. Tae 17^.5bingtQn Poet 3 2 Deca:n*ber 195^. 

158. Handwritten maatin^ notes, 1 I)eceni''osr 196^- ( CONFI DENIAL ) » 

159. Cc^npars "Draft Statan^nt to G\l'f," T53 B to "Dra^ Position Paper on 

Southeast Asia," 30 November 1964 (TOP SECRET), trith Draft Instn:ctions 
from the President to Ambassador Taylor, as revised on 2 December 1954, 

•rom the President to Ambassador Taylor, as revicea on d jjeccmo^ 
inclosui-e B to Joint Sec-'-etariat meiriorandam to JGS' "Ambassador 
Baylor's Visit," 3 Dscembsr 196'+ (JCS 23!'r3/499) (TOP SECKEIO. 

160. "D-caft Insti-uotions from the President," 2 December 1964 (TOP SECRET). 

161. Handwritten meetixis notes, 1 Deceuber 1964, (COI-IEIDENTIAL) . 

162. The E-ltimor- ^ S\m, 4 December 1964. 

163. NEC viorkins Group, Working Paper, Fart VIII, "lm.mcdiate Actions in the 
Period Prior to Decision," 7 November 1964 (in State Dopartment 
Materials, Vol. Il) (TOP SECRET).. "OPLail 34a Missicnc" 26 November 
1964 (in Vietnam 3SI: Sensitive file) (TOP SECRET). 

89 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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

TOP SECRET " Sensitive 

l6h. COMUSMACV to JCS (SACSA)^ 270830SHoyemb£rl96^ (MACSOG 15081^) (TO? 

165. SAC3A to CIKCPAC^ "OPLAK 3!+A-M3Jritimc! Op^rs-tions (s)/' 2 Dscaniber 
196k (jCS 00252I4-) (TOP.SECrSl). 

166. see COMUEMCV to JCS(SAC3A), 0302h3^Dsc(^mberl96k (i-LICSOC- 15735) 
December ISSh ( JC3 CO2SIO) (TOP SSCPvET) . 

167. CJCS msmorenaiim to SccDef, "intenaification of OPLAH 3UA-Maritims 
Operations/' 12 December 196^!- iJCSl-i-10h2~6k) ; Deputy SeoDef 
mcEioranduin to CJCS, "intensification of OIIMJ 3^:-A~MrD.ritinie 
Operations," li|- Deceraber ISSk (Both in Vietnam 58I: Sensitive file) 


168. JCSM-10!^-2-.6!l-. 

169. Joint Secret.-j'iat menorandum to JCS, "meeting of KSC Principals, 

19 December 196'+, on Southeast Asia," 19 D-^ccTibsr 196^!- (jCS 2339/1^6) 

(top secret) . 

170. CJCS mc'sorandum to Deputy Secpef, "CPLWI 3^iA-Air Operations, Je^iuaiy, 
1965," 31 Decembsr I965 (CM Zh7'6h) (TOP SECRET). 

171. Section 2, "Mseting of tho Principals, 5 January I965" (A 3-2rin2 
binder^ XPD?37i!-25-65, in US/Jj Directorate of Plans Repository) (TOP 

172. NSC IJorking Group, "Iniraediete Actions," 7 November ISSk; also DIA 
memorananjii to CJCS, "Evaluation of CoinnimiBt Rccction to Barrel Roll," 
31 Decc3iber 195^!-, attachraent to JCS meaorandu'n to Deputy SscD^f 
(subject as above), 2 Janiiar^r 196U (CM-353065) (in Vietnajn 38I: 
December file) (TOP SSCPjST). 

173. Joint Stata/Dsfense mcsss-se to Vientiane Bnbassy, "Intensification of 
mAF Air Operations," 8 Dscsmber 196^1- (Sts.ta 508j Sullivan to SccState, 
10 Dsccmber 19614- (Vientiana 868) (Both, in "Meeting of the Principals, 
12 December l^Skj " a 3--ring binder, XPDP.b896766'l, in USAF Dia-ectorate 
of Plans Repository) (TCP SECRET). 

Yjk., JCS to crSCFx\C, "Or.eretions in Laos," 11 December 195ii- (JCS 0028^^8) 

175. Joint Secretariat msmorcndui:i to JCS, "Meeting of NSC Principals, 12 
December 196^!-, on Southeast Asia, " 12 DecTinber 19^^ (jCS 2339/16^0 
(top SECPuST). 

176. Section 1, "Meeting of the Principals, 19 Dacsaber 196^," (A 3-ring 
binder, XPDRL8908-6!!-, in U3AP Directorate of Plans Repository) (TOP 

177. JCS mesor.andum to SecDaf, "Operations in Laos^ " 17 December 19^4 

(jcsM--i050"6-'i) (top secret). 

90 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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


I- t 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

178. Section 1, "Meeting of the Principals, 19 December 196h/' (TOP 

179. Deputy SecR'jf nenorandiam to CJCS, 29 Decsmber 196h (in Vietnam 38I: 
December file); (TOP SECRET) 

180. DIA to CJCS, 31 December I96U (TOP SECRET')* 

181. JC3 to CIIICPAC, "Barrel Roll/' k Ja^ary 19^5 (JCS OOSl^fH) (TOP 


182. Section 1, "Meeting of the Frincinals;, 19 December 196h}" Section 1, 
"Meeting of the Principals, 5 January 19^5/' (TOP SECPJL'T) » 

183. Cooper raemorondum to Willicm Bmdy, "Public Statement on VC 
Infiltration (v/attachment)," h December 196k (in Vietnam 38I: 
r.p..-'r>m>,:a-^. -f•-!^^^ /r.A%^rr:,-r-nmrT^-rAT \ . — "I SO Section kj "McctiHg of the 

December file) (COirFIDEI'JTI/i); see al 
Principals, 12 December 196!-!-." 

18?4-. Bui:iay me^oraxidum to Secretary Kiisk, et.sJ. *, "Cooper Materials on 
North Vietnamese Infiltration," 9 December 19^^ (in Vietnem 38I: 
December file) (SECRET). 

185. Rusk to Taylor, 9 Deceraber 1961^- (State I23O); Taylor to SecState, 

10 December 1964 (Saison I775, I776) (all in Section \, "Meeting of 
the Principals, 12 Deceraber 196!{-") (TOP SECRET). 

180. JCS 2339/164, 12 December 1964 (TOP SSCRSi). 

187. Taylor to SecState, l4 December 1964 (Saigon I808) (TOP SECRET)] 
Sullirrai to UilliGTH Bundy, 16 D3ce:;ibsr 19^4 (Vienti?jie 904) 
(COITFIDEJITIAL) (Both in Section 3, "Meeting of the Princip-als, 19 ■ 
December 1964" ) . 

l83. JCS 2339/166, 19 Deceaiber 1964 (TOP SECRET). 

189. State message to Saigon Snbarsy, 19 Deoorber 19^^ (State I312) (in 
Vietnam, Deceniber 1Q64, CF-20) (TOP SECRET) . 

190. RiiPk messages to /.mbassador Taylor, 24 December 1964 (State I347 in 
CP-20) (state I349— in "Meeting of the Principals, 5 January I965") 

191. At the Rriucip.als meeting, 12 Deceraber 1964, JCS 2339/l64. 

192. Ibid . 

193' "f^e''^ Zealand Note," attachricnt to Bundy memorandum to Secretary Rusk, 
£ii'i^»j ^5 December loSlj. (1-37154/64) (in "Policy-Vletnaia, 15-.31Dec64, 
PvLC6Ir)38-.9^ USAF Directorate of Plans Repo3ito::y) (TOP SECRET). 

91 TOP SECRET - Sensit ive 

<r\, II 

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

TOP SECKE.T " Sensitive 

19^. Joint Staff Director's nemorandijan to the Chief Sj CINCPAC and 

COMUSMACVj "Establishnent of Interjiational Force in South Vietnam, 
(S)," 10 December 196^1- (DJSM-1938-6i^) (TOP SECKST) » 

195- JCS 2339/166, 19 r>3ces:"ber 196^ (TOP SECRET). 

196. Service memoranda to the Joint Staff, "Establishment of International 
Force in South Vietnem, (s)," 6, 7, 9 and 1& January 196i|- (jCS 

■ 23f|-3/505-l,2,3, end h) (TOP SECfST)o 

197. Enclosure to ISA memorandum to Depaty SecDef, "third Country Assistsnce 
to Vietnam," 29 Beceiaber IQS^!- (in Vietnam 38I: Becem-oer file) (SECRET). 

198 • See Joseph Fried^ Nov York Daily Nevs j 7 December 196^-; see also lle'j 
_York Times and Waohins-bon Post, 7 Decanbsr 196^. 

199. Taylor message to SecState, 9 December 196-'4- (Saigon I763) (in 

"Meeting of the Principals, 19 Eecei-iber 196H") (TOP SECRET); sec also 

John Maffre, in story filed from Saigon, Washington Post, 9 D?!ceinber 
^^g^^ ^ . 

200. Ibid.; Taylor messages to SecState, 9 Eeceraber 196^1- (Saigon I76O, in 

'Meeting of the Roincipals, 19 D^ceaiber 196^1-") (Sai^on 1762-in Vietn?aa 
381 : December file) (COKFIDETITHL) . 

201. Full text in Hevr York Tjmes , 12 Dscember 196'f. 

202. Taylor message to Secretary Rusli, 20 Xteccrriber lS)6k (Saigon I877) (in 
CF--20) (SECRFT); see also Peter Grose, IJew York Tinics. 22 December 
196^. ■ ■ -—" 

203* I'bi^.; Taylor messages to Secretary Rusk, 21 December 196^ ( Saigon 
1881) Kid 22 December (Saigon 189O, l895; I897, I9OO); Rusk 
messages to Ambassador Taylor, 21 December 1964 (State I318, I320) 
(In CF~20) (TOP SECRET). 

20^. Rusk message to jijabassador Taylor, 2k December 196k (State 13'47) (in 
CF-20) (top SECIST); see also Peter Grose, Kev York Times , 23 and 24 
December 1964, ... 

205. Rusk to Taylor (State 13^7) (TO? SECRET). 

2C6. See Taylor message to SecState, 25 December I96I;- (Saigon I939) (in 

207. See- Peter Grose coliimns filed from Saigon in Hew Yorl: Times , 23 end 
27 December 1964. ~ 

208» See Ta^^lor messages to SecState, 28 December 1964 (Saigon I969, I976) 
and 29 December I964 (Saigon I98I) (oil in CF-20) (SECRET). 

209. Charles Mohr, Neif York Times, 30 .December I964; Seymour Topping, 
New York Times j 10 January I965. 

92 I'O? BECFET - Sensitive 

^■- J " -Aan'K^ mm mm^ ^^. >■ 


' I 

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

TOP SECRKT ^ Sengitive 


210. Jocli Lavgguthj in story filed from Saigon^ riey York Times , 6 January 

211. Seyiaoiir Topping, Nev York Time.- , 11 January 1965. 

212. See T.e\j York T ling s. I8, 21, 22, 2^!-, 25, 26, end 2? Jenuary 19^5; 
also tha Baltimore Sun , I8 and 25 January 1965. 

213. Reported "by Peter Grose, Nev York Ttoes , 25 December 196k, 

21^. Rusk to Taylor (State 13^1-7); State-Defense message to Saigon Esfoassy, 
^ 25 December 196k (state I355) (in CF-20) (TOP SECRET). 

215* CINCPAC message to JC3, 2622513Dec£r;iberl96^ (in Vietnan 38I: December 
file) (top secret). 

216. Taylor message to Secretary Rusk, 28 December 196k (Saigon 1975) (in 

217. CJCS memorand^aa to SecDef, "ReccnEnended Reprisal Actions in Retaliation 
to Break BOQ Incident (ts), 28 December 196^ (JCSM-1076-6I^) (TOP SECRET) 

218. Rusk message to Saigon Embassy, 29 December 196^1- (State I365) (in CP-20) 

(top secret) . 


19 • For example see editorials in Providonce Jout-nal, 2^^ December 196^; Ilev 
York Journa l fcaricon, 28 IViGeniber~W6¥;' and Life , 8 January I965. 

220.- See Il2]U2iL.SiB££j 27 December 196t!- end 3 Janiiary. I9S5. 

221. See The Eo 'ltlmore Sim, llf^-j York Times, and Washington Post, k January 
1965": -^ — 

222 o See Kgv Yorl: Times , 7 and 12 Jexiu^xy 19^5 • ■ 

223. See The Ealtim.ore Sun , New Yorlc Times and Wall Stre et Jotirnal^ ik Januexy 
1965; in parbicular7"seo Icninen^ UPI teletype nsvrs reles^se from 
Saigon^ ik Jemiory I965. 

22^. See Neir Yorl: Times . 16 and 20 JoXiXuiry 19^5; Ifeshington Post ^ I8 
■ Jaimary 19o57^ 

225 o Taylor mesnage to SecStatC;, 3I December ,196'-v (Saigon 2010) (in 
"Saigon Crisis, January 19o5/' CF-.21) (TO? S^^CPJ^^T). 


22o. BXindy memorandtia to Secretar:/- Paisk^ "Notes on the South Vietnamese 
. Situation and Alternatives/'' 6 January 19-55 (in State Deparbnient 
Materials^ Vol. V) (TOP SECI12T)c . ■ . 

Ihld. (top SECRET) . 
228. Ibid . '(TOP SECRET). 

93 TOP SEC RET - Sensitive 

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

TOP SECRET -^ Sens it ive 

229- Ibid , (top SECRET). 

230. Depa^.'tnent of State Msmorandtn of conversation^ "South East Asia" 
(Conversation;:^ "bet-i^een U.S. and Soviet officials, Part V of VIl), 
30 Docera'be- is6h (in Vietnam 38I: Deceir^oer file) (SECRET). 

231 • See lie-.' York ^ 5, lU and 23 January 19^5; Washin.'^on Fost^ 

18 January 19^0 

232 o See Tad Saulc, Hev York TL^es , h Jamiary I963, 

233= McNausi'-hcin drcft evrmnaxy, "ClDservations re Sovith Vietnam," h Jantiary 
1965 (in "Drafts 1965/' McNoA-^^hton II) (TOP SECRET) » 

235. Mclfeughton draft snumary with McNrj-nara cosiients penciled in, 
"Observations re South T^etn^m after Klianh's 'Re-Coupj" 2? Jsoiuaiy 
1965 (in "Drafts I965/' MGlIaughton II) (TOP SECRET). 

236. Rush mecsftge to Saigon Enfcasjsy, 11 Januaary 19^5 (Stats IU36) (in 
CF-21) (SECRET). 

237. R-^sk tiessage to Sai0;on Enfoassv, l^^ Januaiy I965 (State II17I) (in 
CF-21) (TOP SECRET). . 

238. Rusk nessage to Saigon Embassy, 25 Jajiuaiy 19^5 (Copy trEjiscribed by 
OSD in Victnsa 38I: January file) (TOP SECRET), 

239' See CJC3 ine-morejn.dum to SecBcf, "Evacuation of U.S. Dependents frcci 
Soixth Vietnam/' 1^ Joaiuary 19o5 (CM-358-65) (SECRET) and Rc<;hs 
memorandum to the Joint Secretariat (Subject as above), 19 January 
1955 (SECPJDT) (Both in Vietnarii 38I: Januaiy file). 

9^ TOP SECHBT - Sensitive