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Full text of "Pentagon Papers"

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



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

(16 Vols.) 
5. Phase 1 in the Build-Up of U.S. Forces: March -July 1965 






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




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



IV- C. 5. 

PHASE I IN THE BUILD-UP OF U S. FORCES 






THE DEBATE 
MAECH - JULY 1965 






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IV. C 6 



PHASE I IN THE BUILD-UP OF U.S. FORCES, THE DEBATE 

MARCH - JULY I965 



SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS 



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The U.S. decision to deploy Kk US/FW battalions to Vietnam was the 
product of a debate over strategy, but more basically, a debate over 
objectives. Once the consensus developed that the U.S. would neither 
opt out of the conflict nor settle for a stalemate, M+ BLT's made more 
sense than 17 BLT's (agreed to at Honolulu in April) or fewer. When it 
emerged that the U.S. objective was to defeat the VC/NVA on the ground 
in order to assure an "independent, non- communist South Vietnam," an 
aggressive search and destroy strategy had to prevail over the more 
experimental and cautionary enclave approach. 

The decision was made swiftly and in an atmosphere of crisis* After 
almost three months of euphoria (RVNAF was holding together and the Saigon 
government was stable) , four factors converged in late May and early June 
to set the decision full speed in motion: (l) Rolling Thunder was recog- 
nized in itself as insufficient to convince Hanoi to negotiate; (2) on 
12 "June, the Quat government fell, and all the nightmares- about no Saigon 
political authority reappeared; (3) the Viet Cong, it was supposed, was 
about to launch an all-out offensive, cut the country in two, and es- 
tablish an alternate government -in- country; and (k) RVNAF, faced with an 
unfavorable force ratio, quickly demonstrated that it could not cope. 

The major participants in the decision knew the choices and under- 
stood the consequences. The strategy of base security for the air war 
against North Vietnam and the strategy of coastal enclaves were rejected 
with the knowledge that a quick solution was no longer possible. Unlike ■ 
the sending of Marines to Da Nang, the kh BLT decision was perceived as 
a threshold -- entrance into Asian land war. The conflict was seen to 
be long, with further U.S. deployments to follow. The choice at that 
time was not whether or not to negotiate, it was not whether to hold on 
for a while or let go -- the choice was viewed as winning or losing 
South Vietnam. Should negotiations come, should North Vietnam or the 
Viet Cong elect to settle before this victory, the U.S. would then be 
in a position of strength « 



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I. Evolution of the Situation 

In the history of the Vietnam War, the Year 1965 is notable for 
momentous and fateful U.S. decisions. In February , after a dramatic 
increase in activity initiated by the Viet Cong, the United States 
responded by increasing its own level of commitment to the Republic of 
Vietnam. For the first time, U.S„ jet aircraft were authorized to 

I support the RVNAF in ground operations in the South without restriction. 

I In immediate retaliation for guerrilla raids, on U.S. installations in 

the South, U.S. aircraft also began bombing targets in the southern 
reaches of North Vietnam. In early March, the latter program evolved 
into Rolling Thunder, the sustained bombing of the North. Also, during 
March, two U.S. Marine battalions were landed at Da Nang on the coast 

j of Central Vietnam. The airbase at Da Nang was a major supporter of 

the Rolling Thunder bombing, and the mission of the Marines was to 
strengthen its defenses. Those troops represented the first U.S. ground 
combat commitment to the Asian mainland since Korea. 

While the- pace of military activity in 1965 was on the rise, the 
political situation in South Vietnam remained as unpredictable as it had 
j been throughout the previous year. A very confusing series of events in 

! the middle of February culminated in the departure from Vietnam of the 

volatile General Nguyen Khanh. Left in his stead were two civilians, 
Prime Minister Phan Huy Quat and Chief of State Phan Khac Suu. 

The rate of ground combat activity dropped off in March and remained 
low for the next month and a half. The Viet Cong eased the pressure on 
the GVN considerably and yielded the initiative to the government armed 
forces. The performance of the RVNAF, whose effectiveness was called 
into question with the deployment of U.S. troops to look after major 
bases, began to improve according to the statistical indicators used to 
measure the progress of the war. Whenever the RVNAF succeeded in locat- 
ing and fixing the Viet Cong, the government troops and their officers 
seemed to demonstrate more offensive spirit and willingness to engage. 



Parallel to hopeful signs on the military side, Premier Quat, a 
quietly determined man, showed promise that for the first time the 
Vietnamese might be close to solving their frustrating political prob- 
lems. Under Quat, the progressive deterioration in governmental 
stability seemed at long last to have halted. 

The reaction of the U.S. community to the period of quiescence in 
the spring of lf)65 "was mixed. Pessimistic predictions in March as to 
the capability of the RWAF to withstand the next wave of Viet Cong 
offensive activity were offset by convictions that ongoing U.S. aid 
programs were adequate to meet the situation provided the GVN resolved 
its internal contradictions and devoted its energies to the war. 



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Expressions of cautious optimism, and of conviction that radical changes 
to U.S. strategy were unwarranted -- Ambassador Taylor's notable among 
them — continued to reach Washington from Saigon through April and May. 
Among the less sanguine, even General Westmoreland expressed hope that 
perhaps, with the aid of increased U.S. air activity and signs of greater 
RVNAF resolve, a corner had indeed been turned. In the absence of dra- 
matic action in Vietnam, most observers were prepared to wait and see 
what was to transpire when the military hiatus ended. 



The drop in activity during the spring of 1965 was not unprece- 
dented. The Viet Cong had traditionally yielded the initiative to the 
more highly mobile RVNAE during the dry season, and they were expected 
to reappear with the advent of the summer season, or rainy season, in 
May and" June. The official estimates of the Viet Cong Order of Battle, 
including in April confirmed presence in the South of at least one 
battalion of the North Vietnamese Army, provided little cause for com- 
fort. Coupled with reports that the Viet Cong were concentrating their 
forces in a few critical areas, the estimates of enemy capability were 
a sure- indication that the coming summer monsoon in 1965 would provide 
a sore test of the RVNAF T s ability. 

The test began in earnest in May as the Viet Cong mounted a 
regiment-sized attack on the capital of Phuoc Long Province. The 
enemy scored again with the successful ambush of an ARVN infantry 
battalion and its rescue force near Quang Ngai in I Corps later that 
month. The Quang Ngai action left two ARVN battalions decimated, and 
American officers who had witnessed the battle went away with the dis- 
tinct impression that the RVNAF were close to collapse. The impression 
was confirmed during the battle of Dong Xoai in mid-June. In a textbook 
display of tactical ineptitude, battalions of ARVN's finest reserves 
were frittered away piecemeal during the fighting. The violence of the 
action at Dong Xoai and the level of RVNAF casualties during the second 
week of June 1965 were both unprecedented. 

.As the summer wore on, the focus of the enemy campaign shifted to 
the highlands of the II Corps. By early July, Viet Cong successes in 
taking remote District Headquarters heralded the expected loss of the 
entire highlands area and the possible establishment there of a National 
Liberation Front government. 

General Westmoreland responded immediately to the marked upsurge 
in Viet Cong activity by requesting in June U.S. and Third Country * 
* . reinforcements to spell the RVNAF during their time of trial and to 

blunt the Viet Cong offensive by conducting operations throughout the 
country against them. The collapse of the Quat government in mid-June 
and its succession by an untested military regime further increased 
the urgency associated with Westmoreland's request. The debate in U.S. 
official circles over the extent of American involvement in the war -- 
a debate which had followed a devious course all through the spring of 
1965 — moved onto a higher plane at this juncture.' 



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II • Themes Germane to the Strategy Debate 

Official hopes were high that the Rolling Thunder program begun in 
March would rapilly convince Hanoi that it should agree to negotiate a 
settlement to the "war in the South. After a month of bombing with no 
response from the North Vietnamese, optimism began to wane. In the 
middle of April it was recognized that in addition to the bombing some 
manifestation of the Viet Cong's inability to win in the South was 
needed before the Communists would agree to negotiate. By the end of 
April, the North Vietnamese showed signs of preparing for a long seige 
under the bombing, while they waited for what they saw as the inevitable 
victory of the Viet Cong in the South. Indeed, the North Vietnamese 
proved their intractability when they failed to respond meaningfully to 
overtures made during a week-long pause in the bombing in May. By June, 
U.S. officials recognized that something dramatic was going to have to 
be added to the bombing program if the Communists were ever to be per- 
suaded to call off their campaign in the South. 

All through early 1965, officials in the U.S. Government debated 
the level of effort required of the United States in order to achieve 
its objectives in South Vietnam. Generally stated, those objectives 
were to insure that the Communist insurgents were defeated in their 
efforts to take over the government of South Vietnam and that a stable 
and friendly government was maintained in their place. The U.S. em- 
barked on the Rolling Thunder bombing program in order to convince the 
North Vietnamese to cease their direction and support of the insurgency 
in the South. When the bombing program, which could have, been halted 
almost as easily as- it was initiated, gave indication that it was not 
going to succeed by itself, the U.S. was presented essentially with two 
options: (l) to withdraw unilaterally from Vietnam leaving the South 
Vietnamese to fend for themselves, or (2) to commit ground forces in 
pursuit of its objectives. A third option, that of drastically increas- 
ing the scope and scale of the bombing, was rejected because of the 
concomitant high risk of inviting Chinese intervention. 

This paper deals essentially with the decision by the U.S. Govern- 
ment to intervene on the ground in South Vietnam. The debate over 
ground strategy was characterized by an almost complete lack of con- 
sensus throughout the first half of 1965. Proposals for levels of 
commitment ranging from a couple of battalions to several divisions were 
under consideration simultaneously. For each identifiable strategy -- 
and there are three discussed in this paper -- security, enclave, and 
search and destroy -- there were many proponents, some of them quite 
vociferous. . The announcements of decisions regarding the ground build- 
up, were invariably couched in terms which gave clear indication to more 
aggressive proponents that their turn might yet come. 



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The initial steps in 'ground build-up appeal* to have "been grudgingly 
taken, indicating that the President of the United States and his ad- 
visers recognized the tremendous inertial implications of ground troop 
deployments. Halting ground involvement was seen to be a manifestly 
greater problem than halting air or naval activity. In addition, the 
early build-up may have been permitted some leisure because of the lack 
of "immediate urgency in the situation in Vietnam and the necessity to 
improve on an inadequate logistical base there. 



III. Strategies for Ground Force Employment 

* 

A. Strategy of Security 

The strategy of security arose -with the beginning of the bomb- 
ing programs and was designed simply to increase security of U.S. bases 
and installations supporting those programs. It "was conceived at a 
time when enthusiasm for the bombing programs was high and its proponents 
were at pains to insure that U.S. troops did not get involved in the 
ground war. All 9 of the U.S. battalions deployed to Vietnam by June 
1965 had base security as their primary mission, and 21 of the kh U.S. 
and Third Country battalions deployed by the end of 1965 were so oriented. 
In part, however, most of those units were deployed for far more ambitious 
reasons. At a maximum, four Marine and possibly two Army battalions 
were recommended for deployment solely under the provisions of the 
security strategy, and the strategy was a dead letter by the time most 
of those deployments had been approved. / 

The strategy of security expired along with the early hopes 
that Rolling Thunder could succeed by itself. The non- involvement of 
the "security troops" in the ground war was designed to keep U.S. 
casualties to a minimum and to facilitate withdrawal. By deploying its 
own troops to secure bases, the U.S. showed' lack of confidence in the 
RWAF, but by keeping U.S. troops out of the fighting it demonstrated 
at the same time belief that the RVNAF would be able to hold on until 
the other side decided it had had enough. Because of the well-known 
shibboleth about U.S. involvement in an Asian ground war and because 
of the ponderous nature of ground force deployments, it was inevitable 
that some observers would see in the strategy of security the crossing 
of a threshold. . ' 

B. Enclave Strategy 

The President decided during NSC meetings on 1 and 2 April 19&5 
to get U.S. ground combat units involved in the war against the insurgents. 






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He did this in the sober awareness that Rolling Thunder was unlikely to 
produce immediate results , but also with the caveat that U.S. troops 
might not do too well in an Asian insurgency environment. The enclave 
strategy, which had been presented by Ambassador Taylor as a way to get 
U # S. troops engaged at relatively low risk, was implicitly endorsed by 
the President. The strategy proposed that U.S. troops occupy coastal 
enclaves, accept full responsibility for enclave security, and be pre- 
pared to go to the rescue of the RVNAP as far as 50 miles outside the 
enclave. Initially, the U.S. was to experiment with four Marine battal- 
ions in two coastal enclaves to see if the concept and the rules for 
operating with the RWAP (which were to be worked out with the GW) were 
feasible. 

Without the benefit of any experimentation the number of battalions 
was increased at Honolulu in mid-April to 17 and the number of enclaves 
to 5* The enclave strategy as formalized at Honolulu was designed to 
frustrate the Viet Cong in the South while Rolling Thunder continued to 
hammer the North. The intent was not to take the war to the enemy but 
rather to deny to him certain critical areas while simultaneously pro- 
viding ready assistance to the RVNAF if they should run into difficulty. 
The RVNAP were expected to continue aggressively prosecuting the war 
against the enemy's main forces, thereby bearing the brunt of the casual- 
ties. 

* • 

The enclave • strategy was controversial and expectations for it ran 
the gamut from extreme optimism to deep pessimism. The Ambassador 
expected it to buy some time for the Vietnamese to eventually save 
themselves. General Westmoreland and other military men expected it to 
guarantee defeat for the U.S. and the RWAP, who were already demonstrat- 
ing that they were incapable of defeating the enemy. 

A masterpiece of ambiguity, the enclave strategy implied a greater 
commitment to the war on the part of the U.S., but simultaneously demon- 
strated in the placing of the troops with their backs to the sea a 
desire for rapid and early exit. While purporting to provide the basis 
for experimentation with U.S. soldiers in an unfamiliar environment, it 
mitigated against the success of the experiments by placing those troops 
in close proximity to the Vietnamese people, where the greatest difficulty 
would be encountered. In order to prove the viability of its reserve 
reaction foundation, it required testing; but the rules for commitment • 
were not worked out until the strategy was already overtaken by events. 
As a consequence of this delay, several opportunities were passed up 
when the RWAP really needed help and U.S. troops were available. The 
whole enclave concept implied that the RWAP would ultimately prevail, 
but in any case the Viet Cong could never win as long as certain areas 
were denied to them. The enclave strategy tacitly yielded the initiative 
to the enemy, but the initiative was not seen as the vital factor. The 
key was to be able to outlast the enemy at lowest cost to the United States. 



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C. Search and Destroy Strateg y 

Almost in reaction to the dearth of proposals to seize the initia- 
tive from the enemy, General Westmoreland provided consistent pressure 
for a free hand to maneuver U.S. and Third Country forces in South 
Vietnam. His search and destroy strategy, "which was given Presidential 
sanction during the summer of 1965, was articulated by both Westmoreland 
and the JCS in keeping with sound military principles garnered by men 
accustomed to winning. The basic idea behind the strategy was the desire 
to take the war to the enemy, denying him freedom of movement anywhere 
in the country and taking advantage of the superior firepower and maneu- 
verability of U.S. and Third Country forces to deal him the heaviest 
possible blows. In the meantime, the RVNAE, with superior knowledge of 
the population and the role of the Viet Cong, would be free to concen- 
trate their efforts in populated areas. 

The strategy of search and destroy "was given approval at a time when 
there was very little hope for results from the Rolling Thunder program. 
The bombing became, therefore, an adjunct to the ground strategy as the 
war in the South assumed first 'priority. Accompanying the strategy was 
a subtle change of emphasis -- instead of simply denying the enemy vic- 
tory and convincing him that he could not win, the thrust became defeat- 
ing the enemy in the South. This was sanctioned implicitly as the only 
way to achieve the U.S. objective of a non-communist South Vietnam. It 
was conceivable, of course, that sometime before total defeat the North 
Vietnamese and the Viet Cong might decide that they had had enough. In 
this event, the U.S. could halt its efforts short of complete defeat of 
the insurgents and negotiate a settlement to the conflict from a much 
stronger position than that offered by any of the alternate strategies. 

The strategy described above with all its implications evolved in 
piecemeal fashion during June and July 1965. Westmoreland was first 
given authority in June to commit U.S. ground forces anywhere in the 
country when, in his judgment, they were needed to strengthen the rela- 
tive position of the RVNAF. His first major operation with U.S. troops 
under the new aegis was on 27 June, and that force made a deep penetration 
into the Viet Cong base area of War Zone "D !T NW of Saigon. Once the 
forces had been liberated from the restrictions of the coastal enclaves, 
the next step was to decide how much reinforcement was needed in order 
to insure that the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese allies could not 
win. The force decided upon was kk U.S. and Third Country battalions, • 
and. the President approved that number sometime in mid-July. Finally, 
the amount of additional force required to seize the initiative from the 
enemy and to commence the "win" phase of the strategy was the next topic 
of discussion after the kk battalions had been approved. Secretary 
McNamara received Westmoreland's first estimate during talks in Saigon, 
16 to 20 July 1965. Based on what he knew then of Viet Cong and DRV 
intentions and capabilities, Westmoreland asked for 2k additional 



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maneuver battalions and a healthy support package. The figure was revised 
upward several times later in the year as increased intelligence ^revealed 
the extent of DRV infiltration and Viet Cong build-up. 



Force levels for the search and destroy strategy had no empirical 
limits. The amount of force required to defeat the enemy depended en- 
tirely on his response to the build-up and his willingness to continue the 
fight. The kk battalions seen in mid-summer 1965 as the amount required 
to deny victory to the Viet Cong exceeded the amount forecast by the 
enclavists to achieve that end for two reasons. First , the enemy had by 
the end of June revealed that he was much stronger than had originally 
been surmised. Second, the kk battalions had a dual mission: they were 
) not only to hold the fort, but were also to lay the groundwork for the 

| subsequent input of forces to implement the next phase of the strategy. 

Ambassador Taylor expected the search and destroy strategy and the 
force associated with it to accomplish little more than would have been 
accomplished by the enclave strategy at less cost. He was convinced that 
only the Vietnamese could save their own country, and too aggressive use 
.' of foreign troops might even work against them in that regard. George 
Ball of the State Department wrote that there was no assurance no matter 
what the U.S. did that it could defeat the enemy on the battlefield or 
drive him to the conference table. The larger force associated with the 
f~^ . search and destroy strategy signified to Ball no more than acceptance by 

the U.S. of a higher cost to ultimately be incurred. The kk battalion 
force seemed to William Bundy of State to be an ultimatum presented to 
the DRV which would in all probability trigger some sort of dire response. 
Westmoreland expected the kk battalions and the search and destroy strategy 
to hold things together long enough to prepare the way for later input 
of greater force. With enough force to seize the initiative from the 
Viet Cong sometime in I966, Westmoreland expected to take the offensive 
and, with appropriate additional reinforcements , to have defeated the 
enemy by the end of 1967- Exactly what the President and his Secretary 
of Defense expected is not clear, but there are manifold indications that 
they were prepared for a long war. 

The acceptance of the search and destroy strategy and the eclipse % 
of the denial of victory idea associated with the enclave strategy left 
the U.S. commitment to Vietnam open-ended. The implications in terms of 
manpower and money are inescapable. Written all over the search and 
destroy strategy was total loss of confidence in the RVKAF and a con- 
comitant willingness on the part of the U.S. to take over the war effort. 
U.S.. involvement in an Asian ground war was a reality. 



IV. Caveats 

The bulk of this paper is taken up in describing the various propo- 
sals put forward by exponents of the strategies. The numerous decision 



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points are identified and the expectations of decision-making principals 
involved are analyzed. Ancillary reasons for advancing proposals are 
identified as such and discussed. The position of each of the principals 
is described only as clearly as it emerges frcm the files of the Secretary 
of Defense. Thus, the JCS are treated as a monolith, although it is 
common knowledge that there is always considerable dissension and debate 
amongst the Chiefs themselves. While they might have been unanimous in 
their recognition that U.S. bases needed securing, the Chiefs did not 
see eye to eye during ensuing debates over enclave or search and destroy. 
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Commandant of the Marine 
Corps were known proponents of the enclave concept, but the Chairman of 
the JCS and the Chief of Staff of the Army were equally determined to 
see the deployment of several divisions of troops for unlimited combat 
operations. The record of their debate, interesting though it may be, 
remains in the JCS files. 

Through all of the strategy debate in early 1965 ran a common thread 
— the concern with possible intervention in the conflict by elements of 
the North Vietnamese Army or the Communist Chinese Army or a combination 
of both. A variety of CINCPAC contingency plans were in existence at the \ 
time which addressed the problem and called for various deployments, some 
of them pre-emptive, to deal with it. The JCS consistently mentioned the ' 
problem as an additional justification for deployments they were advo- 
cating, but the National Intelligence Board just as consistently dis- 
counted the possibility of such intervention. Covert infiltration of 
elements of the North Vietnamese Army, however, was another matter „ It 
was recognized early in the debate as something to be reckoned with even 
though the real extent of the infiltration was not confirmed for some 
time In any case, contingency deployments were not intended to deal 
with the latter type of provocation. 



V* Issues 

In conclusion, it seems clear that the debate over ground commitments 

and accompanying strategy followed closely the course of expectations about 

the Rolling Thunder bombing program and the development of the situation 

in South Vietnam itself. The strategy of security was eclipsed because 

Rolling Thunder was taking too long. The enclave strategy was never 

unanimously endorsed and it never got off the ground. It was based on 

the assumption that victory could be denied to the enemy in the South 

while Rolling Thunder punished him In the North. Eventually, the U.So 

would achieve its objectives because the enemy in frustration would give 

up. The whole enclave idea was conceived in a period of relative quiet, 

and certainly the experimentation aspect of it pre-supposed a relatively 

stable situation. In the heat of the summer monsoon offensive, it became 

a moot question whether or not a negative approach like the enclave 

strategy could deny victory, and more important, whether or not there 
would be an KVNAF left to shore uru 



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In June, Rolling Thunder and the ground strategy switched places in 
the order of priorities as far as achieving U.S. objectives "was concerned.' 
First, a positive strategy for the employment of the forces, the search 
and destroy strategy, was approved. Secondly, a force of kk battalions 
was recognized as sufficient to prevent collapse while the stage was being 
set for further deployments, kk battalions was probably about the maxi- 
mum, the traffic would have borne at that juncture in any case. Final 
acceptance of the desirability of inflicting defeat on the enemy rather 
than merely denying him victory opened the door to an indeterminate amount . 
of additional force. 

The kk battalions, or Phase I as they were later called, were sup- 
posed to stem the tide of the Viet Cong insurgency and enable the friendly 
forces to assume the offensive. As the GVN" did not collapse, it can 
reasonably be concluded that they did stem the tide. It is just possible, 
however, that rather than stem the tide, they increased it through pro- 
vocation of greater infiltration from North Vietnam. In any case, it is . 
debatable whether the allied forces actually did assume the offensive the 
following year. . 

Wo further proof of the monumental implications of the endorsement 
in the summer of 1965 of the search and destroy strategy, the kk battalions, 
and the win" concept is required beyond the present state of the war in 
Vietnam. At this writing, the U.S. has reached the end of the time frame . 
estimated by General Westmoreland in 1965 to be required to defeat the 
enemy. It has committed 107 battalions of its own forces and a grand 
total of 525,000 men. The strategy remains search and destroy, but vic- 
tory is not yet in sight. 



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CHRONOLOGY OF BUILD-UP ACTIVITY 









Document 
Date 1965 or Event 



11 Feb 



20 Feb 



22 Feb 



JCSM 121-65 



MACV 2207^3Z 



Agency 8c Action 



Number of 
Maneuver 
Battalions 
Physically 
in Vietnam 



Disposition 



JCSM IOO-65 JCS recommended in con- 



junction with program for 
the 1st eight weeks of air 
activity against NVN the 
collatoral action of land- 
ing one MEB at Da Nang for 
security of the air base. 

JCS reiterated CINCPAC 
recommendation to land MEB 
at Da Nang. Presence of 
the Marines would serve to 
deter VC/DRV action against 
the base and would enhance 
readiness posture for other 
contingencies. 

Westmoreland recommended 
landing of 2/3 of MEB to 
secure base and installa- 
tions at Da Nang. 



22 Feb 



23 Feb 



Embtel 2699 . Taylor concurred in MACV T s 

request to the extent of 
l/3 MEB for security but 
warned against further 
foreign troop deployments. 



MACV 231230Z 



Westmoreland backed down 
to 1/3 MEB with proviso 
that more could follow 
after 1st battalion was 
in place. 



& 









y^ 



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US/Ftf: U.S. and Free World Maneuver Battalions in SVN 

MAF: Marine Amphibious Force 

MEB: Marine Expeditionary Brigade 

MEF: Marine Expeditionary Force 

3LT: Battalion Landing Team 

SLF: Special Landing Force 






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2k Feb 



2k Feb 



26 Feb 



CIHCPAC 
240315Z 

JCSM 130-65 



Deptel 18 kO 



28 Feb 



Embtel 2789 



2 Mar 



Deft el 6l66 



2 Mar 



Embtel 195U 



3 Mar 



CBTCPAC 
030230Z 



k Mar 



JCSM 121-65 






k Mar 



JCSM lH-65 



Sharp recommended 2/3 MEB for 
security at Da Nang. 

JCS recommended 2/3 MEB for 
security. 

State told Ambassador 2/3 MEB 
approved for landing contingent 
on GVN approval. /Sep SecDef 
approval on 25 FebTJ Remaining 
elements of MEB deferred, 

Taylor told State he'd get GVN 
approval- for 2 BLTs to land at 
Da Wang. He said that should be 
all we send and that they would 
eventually be relieved by Viet 
forces . 

Mc Naught on told Taylor that it 
would be desirable to substitute 
173<i Airborne for the Marines at 
Da Nang. 

Taylor supported Westmoreland in 
opposing substitution of 173<i. 

C1NCPAC opposed attempted sub- 
stitution citing seven OPLANS 
calling for Marines into Da 
Nang 



L o 



JCS recommended deployment of 
entire MEB to Da Nang, one 
Army Bde to Thailand, recon- 
stitution of MEB in WestPac, 
and alert of III MEF (-) and 
25 Inf Div as insurance in 
support of deterrence deploy- 
ments. 

JCS urged SecDef to reconsider 
deferred funds for Chu Lai 
airstrip. Facility was needed 
to "prepare for a wide variety 
of courses of action." 



Appr. 
25 Feb 






Appr. by 
SecDef 
18 Mar 65 



r^ 



12 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



n 



TOP SECRET -Sensitive 



6 Mar 



Press Release POD said U.S. at request 

of GVN will put 2 BLTs 
at Da Nang for security. 



7 Mar 



JCS 070001Z 



8 Mar 



Ik Mar 



CSA Memo for 
SecDef & JCS 






15 Mar 



JCS met 
w/Pres. 



17 Mar 



n 



Strength of 
VC Military 
Forces in 
BVtf 1 






JCS ordered CINCPAC to 
commence landing Marines 
and "build up to two 
battalions ashore. 



3500 Marines landed at 
Da Nang. 

Gen Johnson recommended 
21 separate measures for 
increased support of the 
GVN. Measures merely were . 
increases in the same vein 
as previous steps. He also 
proposed deployment of up 
to a full U.S. division for 
security of various bases 
with the concomitant release 
of Viet troops from security 
mission for combat- The U.S. 
Division could go either to 
coastal enclaves and Saigon 
or into the II Corps high- ■ 
lands. Finally, Johnson 
proposed a four-division 
force comprised of U.S. and 
SEATO troops along the-DMZ 
and into Laos to contain 
NVN infiltration of men and 
supplies . 

President urged the JCS to 
come up with measures to 
"kill more VC TT ; he approved 
most of Gen Johnson's recom- 
mendations. 

Joint CIA, DIA, State Memo 
showing VC Order of Battle 
(confirmed) as follows: 

37,000 Regular Forces 
100,000 i Irregulars and Militia 

Confirmed strength up 33^ over 196^. 

.5 Regimental Hq. 
50 Battalions- 
1^5 Separate Companies 
35 Separate Platoons 



2 US/FW 



Pres . appr 
21 pts. 
15 Mar & 
again on 
1 Apr; 
deferred 
the rest. 






13 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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






TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



17 Mar MACV YJO^Z 



18 Mar Embtel 3003 



Westmoreland recommended 
landing one Marine BLT 
at Phu Bai, near Hue, to 
secure airfield there and 
enable thereby movement of 
helicopters from congested 
area at Da Wang to Phu Bai. 
Recommended a kth. BLT within 
a month. 

Taylor supported Westmoreland T s 
Phu Bai request above and went 
on to discuss pro's and con T s 
of introduction of U.S. Divi- 
sion without offering a recom- 
mendation. 



19 Mar 



CINCPAC 
192207Z 



20 Mar JCSM 20^-65 









Sharp recommended to JCS 
that remainder of MEB be 
landed within a month and 
one BLT at Phu Bai be 
landed ASAP. 

JCS proposed sending 2 US 
and 1 ROK division to SVIT 
for active operations against 
VC. Marines to I CTZ could 
be had quickly in concert 
with US/SEATO contingency 
plans for DRV/chicom 
aggression. ' (A portion of 
this proposal could have 
been construed as a deter- 
rent measure to Chicom 
aggression.) All forces 
were to engage in offensive 
operations with or without 
centralized command structure. 
Location for ROK Div not speci- 
fied, but Army Div was to go 
to II CTZ highlands to release 
ARVN battalions for operations 
along the coast. The JCS pro- 
posed resupplying it by air 
until Rte 19 could be opened. 
This recommendation considered 
by the JCS to be an essential 
component of the broader pro- 
gram to put pressure on the 
DRV/VC 



- 



Ik 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



25 Mar JCSM 216-65 



' 26 Mar 



"Commander's 
Estimate of 
The Situation 
in SVN" 



27 Mar Embtel 3120 



JCS reiterated CINCPAC ' s 
recommendation that 1 BLT 
and remaining MEB elements 
be landed at Da Nang and 
one BLT be landed at Phu 
Bai -- all to improve 
security situation. 

Westmoreland predicted that 
air activity would not bear 
fruit in the next six months, 
and in the interim, RVNAF 
needed 3^ country reinforce- 
ments to enable it to offset 
VC/DRV build-up and enjoy 
favorable force ratios while 
permitting an "orderly" build- 
up of its own fbrces. MACV 
wanted the equivalent of two 
divisions by June f 65 and 
possibly more thereafter if 
bombing failed. Westmoreland 
proposed deploying Marines 
as. described in JCSM 216-65 , 
an Army brigade in Bien Hoa/ 
Vung Tau, and an Army division 
to the II CTZ highlands with 
a couple of battalions to pro- 
tect coastal bases. The mission 
of these" forces was to be defense 
of vital installations and defeat 
of VC efforts to control Kontum, 
Pleiku, Binh Dinh region. 

Taylor told State that if U.S. 
forces were to come in for combat, 
he favored offensive enclave - 
mobile reaction concept of employ- 
ment rather than territorial clear 
and hold in highlands or defensive 
enclave . 



Appr. by 
Pres.. 1 Apr 
& in JtfSAM 
328 6 Apr. 






29 Mar 



SecDef & 
JCS met with 
Amb Taylor 



JCS three division plan presented 
to Taylor . The latter inclined to 
disfavor it because too many troops 
were involved, the need wasn't 
manifest, and the Viets would 
probably resent it. SecJDef was 
inclined to favor the proposal 
but desired more information in 
reference to the Taylor qualifi- 
cations . 



15 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



1-2 Apr 



NSC meetings 
with Amb Taylor 
present 






2 Apr 



CIA Director 
Memo to 
SecDef & 
others 



2 Apr 



JCSM 238-65 



President Johnson decided to ■ 
send two more Marine battalions 
to Da Fang and Ehu Bai and to 
alter the mission of U.S. com- 
bat forces "to permit their 
more active use" under condi- 
tions to be established by the 
Secy of State in consultation 
with SecDef. He also approved 
18 to 20,000 man increase in U.S. 
forces to fill out existing 
units and provide needed logis- 
tic personnel. (All of these 
changes were to be contingent 
on GVN concurrence.) A slowly 
ascending tempo in response to 
rises in enemy rates of activity 
was approved for the Rolling 
Thunder program. The President 
agreed to overtures to G0A, GNZ, 
and to R0K, seeking combat sup- 
port from them. 

McCone said present level of RT 
not hurting DRV enough to make 
them quit. He warned against 
putting more U.S. troops into 
SVN for combat operations, 
since that would merely en- 
courage the USSR and China 
to support the DRV/VC at 
minimum risk. He predicted 
covert infiltration of PAVR 
and the U.S. getting mired 
down in a war it could not win. 

» 

JCS asked SecDef to clear the 
decks of "all administrative 
impediments that hamper us in 
the prosecution of this war." 
Specifically, they asked for: 
increases in funds, a separate 
MAP for SEA, improved communica- 
tions systems, quicker response 
to CINCPAC's requests, exemption 
of SEA from balance of payments 
goals, authority to extend mili- 
tary terms of service and to 
consult with Congress on the use 
of Reserves, relaxation of civilian 



NSAM 328 
6 Apr 






16 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






k Apr 



CINCPAC 
0^20 58 Z 
(For Taylor) 



5 Apr SecDef Memo 

to CJCS 






8 Apr JCSM 265-65 






9-10 Apr Planning 

Conference 
in Honolulu 









11-11+ 
Apr 

11 Apr MACV 110825Z 



and military manpower ceilings , 
and a substantial increase in 
military air transport in and 
out of SVN. 

Taylor told State that in absence 
of further guidance , he will tell 
GVN that Marine mission is now 
mobile counterinsurgency, plus 
reserve, in support of ARVN up 
to 50 miles of base. 

McNamara told Wheeler that he 
understood the JCS to be planning 
for the earliest practicable 
introduction of 2-3 Div into 
SVN. 

JCS recommended RVNAF build-up 
be accelerated through an addi- 
tional 17,2^7 MAP- supported 
spaces plus 160 advisors. 

PACOM and JCS representatives 
recommended deployment of 
173d " Airborne Brigade to 
Bien Hoa/Vung Tau for secur- 
ity of the installations there 
and an Army brigade to Qui 
Khon/Hha Trang to prepare for 
the later introduction of a 
division. They also recommended 
that the 173d be replaced by a 
CONUS brigade ASAP. They treated 
the two Marine BLTs of NSAM 328 
as approved and described as 
"in planning" the remainder of 
the JCS T s three-division force 
(III MEF (-), ROK Div, and U.S. " 
Army Div). They recommended 
that I MEF be deployed to WEST- 
PAC to improve readiness posture. 

Two Marine BLTs land at Phu Bai 
and Da Nang. 

Westmoreland told CINCPAC that 
he still wanted a U.S. division 
in the highlands, even though 
it was apparent Washington was 



SecDef 
appr. 
12 Apr 



k us/fw 






17 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



■ 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



12 Apr Meeting, 

SecDef & 
JCS 



12 Apr Embtel 3372 



■ 






not of a mind to approve it. 
He also reaffirmed the need 
for an Army brigade in the 
Bien Hoa/Vung Tau area for 
security, to strengthen the 
eastern flank of the Hop Tac 
area, and to act as a mobile 
reserve in case needed in the 
highlands. To forestall 
political difficulty, 
Westmoreland said he'd like 
to see a joint staff with the 
RVNAF and an International 
Military Assistance Force 
under U.S. hegemony in the 
Da Nang area. 

McNamara agreed with JCS 
that Marines' "Enclave" 
build-up plan would be 
adopted. Concept was to 
initially provide base 
security and then phase into 
combat operations from logis- 
tically supportable base areas. 
The logistics base extant at 
that juncture was recognized 
to be inadequate. 

Taylor told State that with 
the 18 to 20,000 man increase 
in support forces authorized 
by NSAM 3^8, "some preliminary 
work in anticipation of the 
arrival of additional U.S. 
forces" could be accomplished 
but that for "significant 
progress toward the establish- 
ment of a logistic base to 
support additional forces," 
about 5000 more engineers • 
would be required. He went 
on to say that despite studies 
dealing with ambitious plans 
for reinforcement, he hoped that 
"they do not interfere with 
essential work in preparation 
for less ambitious but more 
probable deployments." He 
indicated favorable disposi- 
tion toward the establishment 









18 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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






TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



13 Apr 



Ik Apr JCS 1U0050Z 



Ik Apr Embtel 3373 



Embtel 337^ 



Embtel 338U 



15 Apr JCSM 281-65 



of brigade -si zed enclaves at 
Qui Nhon and Bien Hoa/Vung Tau 
Tr if the Marines demonstrate 
effectiveness ..." 

McNamara approved deploy- 
ment of 173d Airborne to 
Bien Hoa/Vung Tau subject 
to GVN concurrence (with 
Presidential sanction). 

JCS asked CINCPAC to deploy 
the 173d to SVN as soon after 
GVN concurrence as possible. 
Their mission would be to 
initially secure Bien Hoa/ 
Vung Tau and then phase into 
counterinsurgency operations . 

Taylor surprised at decision 
to deploy the 173<3. He re- 
quested a hold. 

Taylor & Westmoreland both 
embarrassed at amount of heavy 
equipment , not appropriate for 
counterinsurgency, brought 
ashore in Da Nang by Marines. 

Taylor advised Washington to 
keep additional U.S. forces 
out of SVN, perhaps just off- 
shore, until need for them is 
incontrovertible . 

JCS replied to Taylor r s traffic 
of the previous day. They said 
the 173d was needed for security 
of air operations and logistic 
bases and for subsequent phas- 
ing into counterinsurgency. 
operations. They added that 
the security of existing or 
proposed bases at Chu Lai, Qui Khon 
and Nha Trang required a battalion 
each. They added that to deploy 
the Marines without their full 
complement of equipment would 
be imprudent. They (the Marines) 
were now prepared to meet any 
contingency. 



19 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






15 Apr Deftel 9164 






17 Apr 



Embtel 3I+19 
& 3^21 



17 Apr Embtel 3^23 



17 Apr JCSM 288-65 



17. Apr JCS 1718U7Z 



McNaughton told Saigon that 
"highest authority" felt situa- 
tion in SW was deteriorating, 
and proposed seven actions to 
help remedy the situation, in- 
cluding: (l) encadrement of 
U.S. troops in ARVN units either 
50 U.S. to each of 10 ARVN 
battalions or combined opera- 
tions of 3 U.S. and. 3 ARVN 
battalions; (2) a brigade 
force into Bien Hoa/Vung Tau 
for security and subsequent 
combat operations; (3) 
battalions into coastal ' 
enclaves for further experi- 
mentation with U.S. forces 
in counterinsurgency role; 
(h) application of U.S. re- 
cruiting techniques in RVN; 

(5) expansion of MEDCAP; 

(6) pilot experimentation 
in 2 or 3 provinces with a 
team of U.S. civil affairs 
personnel integrated into 
gov't structure; and (7) 
provision of food directly 
to RVHAF troops. 

Taylor told McGeorge Bundy 
that 7-point program plus 
all visiting firemen were 
rocking the boat and asked 
for respite. 

Taylor sent to Washington the 
kind of guidance he felt he 
should have received in order 
to carry out all that Washington 
had proposed in the past week. 

JCS proposed sending one 
Marine BLT to Chu Lai to secure 
the CB's constructing the air- 
strip there. 

JCS described to CINCPAC the 
concept for U.S. combat units 
deploying to SEA as assistance 






20 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






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







1 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



in arresting the deteriorating 
situation against the VC and as an 
assurance that the U.S. would "he 
ready to counter overt DRV or 
Chicom action should such occur. 

20 Apr Honolulu McNamar a , Mc Naught on , W. Bundy , 

Conference Taylor , Wheeler , Sharp and 

Westmoreland reached concensus 
that: (l) the DRV was unlikely 
to quit in the next six months 
and probably would only give up 
because of VC "pain" in the 
South rather than bomb damage 
in the North; (2) RT was about 
right but wouldn't do the job 
alone; (3) best strategy would 
be to break the DRV/VC will by 
effectively denying them victory 
and bringing about negotiations 
through the enemy's impotence. 
■ They proposed establishing four 
brigade-sized enclaves, in addi- 
tion to Da Nang - Hue/Phu Bai, 
at Bien Hoa/Vung Tau (3 Army 
battalions plus 1 GOA battalion); 
Chu Lai (3 BLTs plus 3 Marine 
TFS); Qui Nhon (3 Army battalions); . 
and Quang Ngai (3 ROK battalions). 
Added on to the k USMC BLTs 
(33,000 U.S. troops) and 2000 
ROK troops already in Vietnam, 
the total was to be 82,000 U.S. 
and 7250 3d country troops. 
Mentioned for possible later 
deployment were: a U.S. Air- 
mobile Division, a Corps Hq., 
an ROK Div (-), and the remaind- 
der of the III MEF (2 battalions). 
- It was agreed that ARVN and U.S. 

units would be "brigaded" for 
operations, that the U.S. would 
try single managers of U.S. effort 
in 3 provinces as an experiment, 
that MEDCAP would be expanded, ♦ 

and that a study of fringe bene- 
fits for RVNAE would be undertaken. 

21 Apr SecDef Memo McNamara sent the Honolulu < 

for recommendations to the President ''— . 



The President essentially as described above. 



21 . TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






21 Apr 



21 Apr 






23 Apr 



CIA Memo 
to SecDef 
& others 



CIA-DIA Memo 
"An Assessment 
of Present VC 
Military Capa- 
bilities" 



22 Apr Deptel 2397 



CINCPAC 
230423Z 



23 Apr Embtel 2391 



30 Apr Deftel IO97 



30 Apr JCSM 321-65 



McCone said the communists still 
saw the tide going their way. 
They would see in the Honolulu 
expansions of U.S. involvement 
the acceptance by the U.S. of a 
greater commitment, but they would 
assume U.S. was reluctant to widen 
the war. The DRV and Chicoms might 
reinforce with men and equipment, 
but would not intervene. 

The presence in Kontum Province 
since February 19&5 of on e regiment 
of the 325th PAVN Division confirmed. 
As of late 196^ the supply of repatri- 
ated southerners infiltrated back from 
WN had dried up and NVN volunteers 
were coming down the trail. 

Unger told Taylor that if Quat agrees 
to the Honolulu program, the U.S. 
intention was not to announce the 
whole thing at once "but rather to 
announce individual deployments at 
appr opr iat e t ime s . " 

Sharp recommended replacing the 173^, 
if it deployed, with a COMJS brigade. 

Taylor told State that Quat was extremely 
reluctant to discuss foreign reinforce- 
ments. Taylor feared GVN reaction. 

Saigon informed by Mcffaughton that 
the 173d and 3 BLTs to Chu Lai 
approved for deployment at Ambassa- 
dor's call. 

JCS as a result of Honolulu and 
subsequent discussions recommended 
a detailed program to deploy 
48,000 U.S. and 525O Free World 
troops to SVN. The forces included 
two Army brigades, one MEB, an ROK 
Regt. Combat Team, and an ANZAC 
battalion. They were to bolster # 
GVN forces during their continued 
build-up, secure bases and installa- 
tions, conduct combat operations in 



173d' 
& 
MEB 
appr. 
30 Ap: 



22 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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






TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



5 May 



ISA Memo to 
Dep SecDef 






5 May 



7 May 
7 May 



CINCPAC 
072130Z 



8 May 



MACV 15182 



coordination with the RVNAF, and 
prepare for the later introduction 
of an airmobile division to the 
central plateau, the remainder of 
III MEF to the Da Nang area, and 
the remainder of an ROK division 
to Quang Ngai. 

McNaughton informed Vance that 
a portion of the force package 
listed as "approved" by the JCS 
in JCSM 321-65 was in fact a 
part of the not-yet sanctioned 
three-division plan. 

Main body of 173d Airborne Brigade 
arrived at Vung Tau. 

Marines began landing at Chu Lai 

Sharp reminded JCS that he wanted 
to reconstitute WESTPAC reserve 
after deployment of 173d and 
additional Marines. 



Westmoreland with Taylor concur- 
rence forwarded concept of opera- 
tions by U.S. /allied ground combat 
forces in support of RVNAF: 



.■ 



6 us/fw 



9 us/fw 



Stage I - Security of base area (extended TAOR 

out to light artillery range). 

Stage II - Deep patrolling and offensive opera- 
tions (with RVMF coordination 
and movement out of TAORs). 



Move- 
ment 
of 

I MAF 
to 

WESTPAC 
appr. 

by 

SecDef 
15 May. 



Stage III 



- Search and destroy plus reserve re- 
action operations. Westmoreland 
saw the U.S. role in the Vietnam 
war evolving through four phases: 

Fnase I - Securing and improving 

coastal enclaves 

Phase I J - Ooerations from the enclaves 



23 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



Phase III - Securing inland bases 

and areas 



Phase IV 



11 May Embtel 3727 



Ik May JCS 1U2228Z 



15 May MA.CV I5O9OOZ 



. 17 May Embtel 3788 



19 May Embtel 3808 






21 May JCSM 63^5 



- Operations from inland bases 
after occupying and im- 
proving them. 



Westmoreland recommended locations for 
various forces then being discussed for 
future deployment: 

III MEF - Da Nang, Hue, Chu Lai 

Airmobile Division - Qui Nhon, Mia Trang 

ROK Division - Quang Ngai, Chu Lai (relieve USMC) 

173d - Bien Hoa/Vung Tau (already landing) 

Taylor described arrival of 173^ and Marines; 
predicted boredom would be a problem. 

JCS told CINCPAC that SecDef approved 
combined coordinating staff with RVWAF 
and knew that MA.CV was planning a Joint 
General Staff. 

Westmoreland told M he was preparing 
concept for employment of a division-sized 
force, possibly the airmobile division, 
and requested experts to help plan. 

Taylor told State Quat was agreeable to 
deployment of an Army brigade to Qui Nhon/ 
Mia Trang. If build-up of Cam Ranh Bay 
as a base were to be approved, he said, 
Westmoreland wanted to divert one battalion 
there for security. 

Taylor told State that RVN could absorb 
80,000 US/3d country troops. He recommended 
a pause before considering further expansion 
and wanted to hold off logistics support for 
contingency follow-on until there was a case 
of clear and indisputable necessity. 



JCS recommended to SecDef that Cam Ranh 
Bay be developed to either (l) enable 
further contingency deployments, or (2) 
to fully support troops already there. 



\ . 



Appr. 

by 

SecDef 
8 Jun 



2k 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



2k May Embtel 3855 



2k May MACV I7292 



27 May JCSM ^17-65 



June 



5 June Embtel kOjk 



Taylor told State that joint 
command structure was repugnant 
to Viets and should not be raised 
at that time. Problem of command 
needed to be sorted out, however, 
prior to input of large numbers of 
U.S. forces. 

Westmoreland told CINCPAC that 
despite SecDef approval of joint 
planning staff, the Viets were 
cool to the idea. 

JCS recommended approval of 2369 
MAP supported spaces for RVNAF to 
organize a tenth division using 
assets of three existing regiments. 

1st battalion, Royal Australian 
Regiment, closed RVN in early 
June and joined the 173^ a "t 
Vung Tau. 

- 

Mission Intelligence Committee with 
concurrence of Taylor, Johnson, and 
Westmoreland told State that a series 
of recent ARVN defeats raised the 
possibility of collapse. To meet 
a shortage of ARVN reserves, U.S. 
ground troops would probably have 
to be committed to action. 



Appr. 

by 

SecDef 
k Jun 



10 us/fw 



7 June MACV 19118 

O7O335Z 






Westmoreland told CINCPAC that 
a summer offensive was under way 
to destroy GVN forces and isolate 
and attack district and province 
towns . The enemy had yet to 
realize his full potential, and 
RVNAF ? s capability to cope was 
in grave doubt. RVNA.F build-up 
was halted because of recent 
losses. No choice but to rein- 
force with additional US/3d 
country forces as rapidly as 
possible. Westmoreland asked 
that all forces then in the 
planning stages be approved for 
deployment, plus he identified 
more forces (9 maneuver battalions 
in a division (-) and one MEB) 






25 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



7 June 



CINCPAC 
O72325Z 






8 June 



Press 
Conference 



9 June 



White House 

Press 

Release 



11 June 



CINCPAC 
112210Z 



11 June JCSM ^57-65 



which might be required later and 
for which planning should begin. 
He asked that the 173d be held in 
SVN until the Airmobile Division was 
operational. 

Sharp supported Westmoreland r s 
request for more troops but added 
that he felt the airmobile division 
should go to Qui Nhon rather than 
inland and should operate in Binh 
Dinh instead of up in the highlands. 
He felt 600 to 800 tons of aerial 
resupply for the division if it went 
to the highlands was asking too much 
of air facilities. He also felt the 
ROK division should go to Quang Ngai 
rather than to Qui Nhon, where it 
would be unproductive, or to Cam Ranh 
as Westmoreland had suggested.' 

McCloskey , State Dept Press Officer? 
told the press that U.S. troops 
would be made available to fight 
alongside Viet forces when and if 
necessary. 

Statement released which said that 
there had been no recent change in 
mission of U.S. combat units. They 
would help the Viets if help was 
requested and COMUSMACV felt U.S. 
troops were required. 

Sharp elaborated on his earlier 
objections to airmobile division 
going into highlands and clarified 
his views on employment of the 
ROKs in either Quang Ngai, Nha Trang, 

or the Delta. 

• 

JCS , after discussing MACY and 
CINCPAC requests with Taylor , 
recommended, that the airmobile 
division go to Qui Nhon, and 
recommended everything else that 
Westmoreland had requested. Total 

1 

strengths recommended were: 

U.S. - 116,793; fw - 19.750. 









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11 June JCS II23I17Z 






JCS told Sharp that somewhat 
less than MACV's 19118 was close 
to being approved as an alterna- 
tive. Force described amounted to 
one additional Army brigade instead 
of the airmobile division. JCS 
wanted to know where Westmoreland 
would put the brigade were it to be 
approved. 

13 June MA.CV 131515Z Westmoreland objected to Taylor ' s 

questioning of the seriousness of 
the situation and pointed out that 
to date ARVN had lost 5 battalions 
and the end was not in sight. He 
justified his request for troops by 
Corps area and asked for a free hand 
in maneuvering units. He included 
his concept for the employment of 
ROK and. ARVN troops. 



15 June 



16 June 



Press 
Conference 



17 June Embtel ^220 



18 June White House 
♦ Memo to 
SecDef 



McNamara gave the green light for 
planning to deploy the airmobile 
division to SVN by 1 September. 

McNamara announced deployments to 
SVN that would bring U.S. strength 
there to between 70,000 and 75,000 
men. 20,000 of these would be com- 
bat troops and more would be sent 
if necessary. He said U.S. troops 
were needed because the RVNAF to VC 
force ratio of less than h to 1 was 
too low to enable the GVN to cope 
with the threat. Total U.S. Bns 
after deployments would be 15. 

Taylor confirmed to State the 
seriousness of the military situa- 
tion in SVN. GVN had to either 
give up outlying outposts or "face • 
being ambushed trying to reinforce 
them. 

McGeorge Bundy passed on to McUamara 
the President's concern that "we find 
more dramatic and effective actions 
in SVN..." 






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18 June JCSM U82-65 JCS further refined recommended 

troop list showing the airmobile 
division to deploy by 1 September 
I965 along with its support and 
the brigade of the 101st airborne 
division to return to COMJS when 
the airmobile division was opera- 
tional. Total strength recommended 
was : 

U.S. - 120,839; FW - 19.750 



22 June 



Unsigned 
Memo to 
SecDef 



22 June JCS 21*00 



23 June 



Deptels 3078 
& 3079 



2k June MACV 3320 






26 June Memo, 

SecArmy to 
SecDef 



McNamara told that the President 
could wait until 10 July to approve 
the deployment of the airmobile 
division if SecDef is immediately 
given the go-ahead for readiness 
preparation. The question' of re- 
moval of the two Army brigades 
was to be reconsidered in August. 

JCS told CINCPAC and Westmoreland 
that a force of kk battalions was 
being considered for deployment 
to Vietnam. The Chairman wished 
to know if that would be enough 
to convince the DRV/VC they could 
not win 

Approval for landing of one Marine 
BLT at Qui Whon for security and 
an additional BLT at Da Nang sent 
to Saigon. 

Westmoreland told CTNCPAC and the 
JCS that there was no assurance 
the DRV/VC would change their plans 
regardless of what the U.S. did 
in the next 6 months. The kk 
battalions, however, should be 
enough to prevent collapse and 
establish a favorable balance 
of power by year's end. 

Res or told McHainara that Air 
Cav Div masz nave its movement 
directive by 8 July at the latest 
in order to meet its readiness 
deadlines. Security would be 
impossible after issuing the 
directive. 






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26 June Deptel 3O57 W. Bundy told Taylor that 

Westmoreland could commit 
U.S. troops to combat n in any 
situation in which the use of 
such troops is required by an 
appropriate GVN commander and 
when, in COMUSMACV's judgment, 
their use is necessary to 
strengthen the relative posi- 
tion of GVN forces." 



26 June 



ISA Memo of 
Conversation 
w/Dep Amb. 



1 July 



Memo for 

The 

President 



On 25 June Alexis Johnson told 
McNaughton that in many respects 
the situation in SVN was no worse 
than the previous year. Even if 
it were, large numbers of foreign 
troops could do no more than hold 
a few enclaves. The Vietnamese 
feared massive inputs of foreign 
troops would degrade their control 
over the country. 

• 

Ball of State described the Vietnam 
war as one the U.S. cannot win re- 
gardless of effort. Rather than 
have the U.S. pour its resources 
down the drain in the wrong place, 
he recommended that U.S. force 
levels be held to 15 battalions 
and 72,000 men announced by SecDef 
in June* The combat role of the 
U.S.- forces should be restricted 
to base security and reserve in 
support of ARVN. As rapidly as 
possible and in full realization 
of the diplomatic losses which 
might be incurred, the U.S. should 
exit from Vietnam and thereby cut 
its losses. 



1 July 



Memo for 

The 

President 






W. Bundy of State proposed a 
"middle way" to the President 
which would avoid the ultimatum 
aspects of the hk battalions 
request and also the Ball with- 
drawal proposal, both of which 
were undesirable. Bundy offered 
further experimentation with U.S. 
trooDS from coastal enclave^. 



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1 July 



2 July JCSM 515-65 



6 July 



7 July Deft el 5319 



• 



10 July Deftel 5582 



The numbers would be held to 
planned deployments of 18 
battalions and 85,000 men. 
The airmobile division and 
the 1st Infantry Division would 
be got ready but not deployed. 
Furious diplomatic activity 
concomitantly should find a 
gracious exit for the U.S. 

* 
One Marine BLT landed at Qui 
Khon to strengthen security 
there . 

Pursuant to their meeting with 
SecDef on 28 June, the JCS for- 
warded a program for the deploy- 
ment of "such additional forces 
at this time as are required to 
insure that the VC/DRV cannot 
win in SVN at their present 
level of commitment." Concur- 
rent ly 5 the JCS recommended 
expansion of the air activity 
against JWN as an indispensable 
part of the overall program. 
Total U.S. strength at comple- 
tion of these deployments was 
to be 175,000. 

One Marine BLT landed at Da Nang 
to strengthen the defenses 
there. 

McNamara informed Westmoreland 
that the purpose of the forth- 
coming visit to Saigon scheduled 
for 16-20 July was to "get your 
recommendations for forces to 
year T s end and beyond." 

McNaughton told Taylor that it 
had been decided to deploy 10,1+00 
logistic and support troops by 
15 August to support current 
force levels and to receive the 
airmobile division, if deployed. 
GVW concurrence sought. 



11 us/fw 



12 US/FW 



*• 



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11 July Embtel 108 



12 July 

16-20 
July 



Conference 
in Saigon 



17 July MCC 

172042Z 






28 July 



Presidential 

Press 

Conference 



29 July 



30 July JCSM 590-65 



14-15 
Aug 



Estimate of the situation prepared 
by the Mission Intelligence Committee 
reaffirmed the need for U.S. /3d coun- 
try forces to stem the tide then 
flowing against the RVHAJ?. 

2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division 
arrived in Vietnam 

McNamara and Wheeler met with 
Westmoreland and Taylor , heard 
presentation of COMUSMACV's con- 
cept for operations in SVN. The 
kk battalions were to be the 
Phase I of the build-up and were 
enough to prevent defeat. In 
order to move to Phase II and 
seize the initiative, Westmoreland 
told.SecDef he T d require a further 
2k battalions in 1966. 

Vance told McNamara that the 
President had decided to go 
ahead with the plan to deploy 
3^- U.S. battalions and that he 
was favorably disposed to the 
call-up of reserves and exten- 
sion of tours of active duty 
personnel. 

The President told the press 
that he had ordered the airmobile 
division and other units to SVN. 
Strength after these deployments 
would be 125,000 and more would 
be sent if required. He also 
said he T d decided not to call up 
reserve at that juncture. 

1st Brigade, 101st Airborne 
Division arrived in Vietnam. 

Annex showed 3U battalions and 
193?587 men as planned for de- 
ployment to RVN, 

Marine BLTs landed at Chu Lai and 
Da Liang. Coupled with the SLF 
BLT, they brought USMC maneuver 
strength in RVN to 12 battalions, 
9 from III MAF and 3 from I MAF. 



15 us/fw 



18 us/fw 



21 US/FW 



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28 Sept 



7 Oct 



8 Nov 



10 Nov JCSM 811-65 



31 Dec 



1st Air Cavalry Division closed 
in RVN and assumed responsibility 
for its TAOR. 

Remainder of the 1st Infantry 
Division closed' in RVN. 

A full division of ROK forces 
closed into RVN. 

After numerous adjustments in 
required support for Phase I 
deployments 9 the JCS proposed 
a final ceiling of 219,000 on 
that portion of the build-up 
and then addressed on-going 
Phase II proposals. 

Phase I U.S. strength in RVN at 
year's end was iQk >3lU. 



29 us/fw 



35 US/iW 



kk us/fw 



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o 






o 



> 00 

a ^ 

Is 

4 






c/> 









o 









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IV.C.6. PHASE I IN THE BUILD-UP OF U. S. FORCES, THE DEBATE 

MARCH - JULY 1965 



TABLE OF CONTENTS AND OUTLINE 



Summary and Analysis 



Page 
1 

N 

. . . • 11 



Chronology. . . . . „ .. 

I. The Situation , Spring and Early Summer , 1965 . *•• hi 

A. The Political Situation «... kl 

1. Khanh yielded to Quat and U.S. hopes went up. 

2. Quat came to ignominious grief at a bad time. 



* 1 



3. The military, the only stable element of the 
Viet body politic, took over with exaggerated 
confidence. 

B. The Military Situation ^ 2 

lo The VC lay low during March and April while 
the ARVN shined in their absence. 

2. Mission situation reports reflected unwarranted 
optimism despite the occasional hardheaded 
assessment. 

3-- Honolulu conferees on 20 April 1965 recognized 
the calm before the storm but were not moved 
by it. 

k. There were plenty of indications in the spring 
that something awful was going to happen. 



t 



5* The storm. 

a. Song Be cost both sides heavi?y. 

b. Ba Gia signaled to some the signs of 
imminent ARVN collapse. 



c. Westmoreland T s 19118 of 7 June said the RVNAF 
had had it and were going under. 



• 



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Page 



d. As though to confirm Westmoreland's dreary 
prediction, the ARVN wasted the elite of 
their force by committing it piecemeal 
against a clever and determined enemy at 
Dong Xoai. 

e. The long-expected highlands offensive in- 
creased the gloom as the RVN yielded full 
initiative to the VC. 

6. Force ratios turned against the RWAF. 

C . Pacification. 51 

1. A lot of words added up to zero progress. 

2. Hop Tac remained a query plus. 
Do Economic Situation. ■ '« . o . 5^ 

1. Without rice to eat the GVN would starve without 
losing the military war. 

2. The VC campaign to cut lines of communication 
threatened to bottle the GVN up in the urban 
centers. 



II. The Brief Tenure of the Strategy of Security and Subsequent 

Developments . <> . . . o . . « . o . . . „ « . . 55 

A . Security as a Rationale 55 

1. It was good enough to get two BLT's ashore in March, 

2. Close on its heels came proposals for more force for 
more ambitious purposes. 

3. The public remained in ignorance of any other rationale 
until June. 

Bo NSC Meetings of 1-2 April 1965 56 

1. Westmoreland, CINCPAC and the JCS, with Taylor's 
# concurrence, requested some more Marines for 

security. 



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Page 



2. Taylor's resistance to further troop increases 
blunted the JCS proposal for three divisions of 
combat troops. Instead, the President approved 
two Marine BLT's, and an ill-defined, but more 
aggressive, mission for them. 

3. NSAM 328 

a. Faced with a "trilemma," the President elected 
to cautiously expand U S. ground commitment 
rather than pull out of Vietnam or drastically 
increase air strikes on DOT. 

b. The way to disprove allegations about "white- 
faced" troops in the Vietnam war was to experi- 
ment with small numbers of them. It looked as 
though the situation would permit it. ( 

c. A rather vague provision for an additional 
18-20,000 man increase "to fill out existing 
units and supply needed logistic personnel" 
was interpreted by various principals accord- 
ing to their own desires. 

C o The Additional Marines Land 62 

1. Defensive security became offensive security. 



2. They watched while ARVN was beaten up in May. 

D. Westmoreland Tried to Slide the 1733- in for Security 62 



1. Westmoreland asked again. 

2. The JCS approved it contingent upon GVM approval. 

3. The Ambassador was caught flat-footed and objected. 

i h. There was some confusion as to whether or not the 

President had sanctioned the deployment of the 173d 
at the time it was ordered, but the Ambassador saw 
clearly that Washington was impatient. 

5. The whole issue was taken to Honolulu. 

E. Security was the Primary Mission for Most of the 

Phase I Units o „ 65 



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III. The Strategy of Experimentation - Enclave Strategy 



A. Geography 



Page 
66 

66 



1. The long narrow -waist of Vietnam lent itself 
to enclave strategists. 

2. Vung Tau -was the southern anchor. 

B. Development of the Strategy ••••♦. 66 

1. CSA Johnson brought it back from Saigon but 
was clearly against it. 

2. Taylor adopted it as the next best thing to 
no troop input and defended it vigorously. 

3* The Ambassador T s resistance to an expanded 
enclave strategy was overcome at Honolulu, 
where a marked increase of force was agreed 
to. 

C. Difficulties in Experimentation. « 79 

1. Even as the troops were landing, the U.S. had 
yet to work out with a chary GVE the ground 
rules for their commitment to offensive action. 

2o Public and private speculation as to the purpose 
of the U.S. build-up exploded in a massive re- 
action to official silence and then clumsy 
revelation. *- . 

3. By the time the U.S. decided how to commit its 
forces, the enclave strategy had died on the 
vine. 

D. Where U.S. Stood on 1 June 1965 • • <> «> «>.. 83 

'1. U.S. approved combat strength was 13 battalions. 

2. Third Country forces approved added another h. 



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Page 

IV. The U.S. Moved to Take Over the Land War -- The Search 

and Destroy Strategy and the kk Battalion Debate ...<>.. 8k 

A. Westmoreland Provided the Push. « 84 

1. He accepted more than base security as implicit 

in the deployment of the first two Marine BLT's. I 

2. He followed close on CSA Johnson's heels with a 
detailed and hardheaded assessment of the situa- 
tion in Marcho Force ratios dictated that the 
U.So reinforce the RVNAF. 

3. RVNAF build-up described. ' 



km Westmoreland submitted a reclama after the 
! 1-2 April NSC meetings and stirred up enough 

j • interest to get another brigade or two out 

of the Honolulu Conference. 



5. Only one aberrant recommendation in May spoiled 
a splendid record of consistent appeal for a 
maximum force level and for offensive missions. 

6. The zenith appeared to be message 19118 of 
7 June 3 the "kk battalion request." 

B. CINCPAC Appeared to Back Into Enclaves 91 

1. The Airmobile Division should not rely entirely 
on aerial resupply in the highlands , but should 
go to Qui Nhon and secure Binh Dinh first. 

2, The troops needed to operate near the people. 

m- 

C. The JCS Yielded the Torch After an Early Lead o . . . 92 

1. JCSM 20U-65, the "Three-Division" proposal, was 
too much to be swallowed. 

r 

2. The JCS kept ahead of the pack all through the 
spring. 

3. They were eclipsed by MACV in June. 



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D. Search and. Destroy as a Strategy and hk Battalions 
as a Force „ . o 



Page 



9h 



1. Westmoreland wanted a free hand to maneuver 
forces and he wanted U.S. troops kept away 
from the people. He wanted it understood- 
that more than kk battalions would be re- 
quired in order to seize the initiative. 

2. The strategy debate ended in June, but the 
numbers game went on. 

3* The opposition made a last effort. 

a. Taylor and Johnson stuck with the enclave 
approach. 

b. Ball said we should get out fast. 

c. Bundy didn't like any of the alternatives, 
proposed we stick with enclaves for the 
moment o 

E. The Influence of the President and his Secretary of Defense. 106 

1. . The Secretary of Defense wanted justification 
and wouldn't yield the reins. 

2. The President wanted to resist aggression but 

simultaneously to manifestly exercise moderation 
in the use of power. . 

3° By June he was getting impatient. 

F. Presidential Sanction for Phase I. • ........ . HO 

1. It was decided by the President sometime in mid-July. t 

2. The press and the people were told about a part of 

I the coming deployments and were assured that neither 

policy nor objectives had changed. 

j 3- At final count, Phase I was kk battalions and 

f 219,000 U.S. personnel in size. 



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V. Expectations 



Page 
113 



A. The Strategy of Security ..".... 113 

1. Nearly everybody accepted it at face value. 

2. The NIB said that other Communist states would 
not send "volunteers" in response. 

B . The Enclave Strategy 113 

1. Taylor expected it to give the Vietnamese 
time to save themselves. 

2. Westmoreland expected a defeat if allied troops 
"were restricted to enclaves. CINCPAC essentially 
agreed. 

3« The JCS never endorsed the enclave strategy. 

k. Bundy expected the enclave approach to buy 
enough time for the U.S. to exit gracefully 
or to experiment before committing large num- 
bers of troops. 






5« McCone argued that -without stepping up air 
activity against NVH, the U.S. would accom-. 
plish nothing except further involve itself 
in a war it could not win. He predicted 
covert infiltration of men and equipment by 
M but no overt intervention." 

6. The NIB described an enemy with. a hardened 

attitude. They estimated that for the moment, 
the enemy would not break. % 

C . The Search and Destroy Strategy 116 

1. It was aggressive enough for the JCS, but 
even kk battalions were not enough to do 
mor^ than deny victory. 

2. Westmoreland asked SecDef for 2k additional 
battalions over . and above Phase I in order 
to seize the initiative. His concept of 
operations spelled out his expectations. 



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Page 



3o The Embassy thought it was far too much force 



U. Ball clearly thought the U.S. was merely 

raising its ultimate losses. I 

5. Bundy apparently expected the other side to 
react. 

6o McNaughton derived a probability of success. 

7. The Secretary of Defense and the President both 
seemed to expect a long "war. 

8o The Intelligence Community predicted that the 
communists would step up support for the VC 
but would not intervene. 



9. Non-official reaction ran the gamut from right 
to left. 



VI. NSAM 328 , ...... 12^ 



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PHASE I IN THE BUILD-UP OF U. S. FORCES, THE DEBATE 

MARCH - JULY 1965 

I. The Situation , Spring and Early Summer, 1965 

Vietnam in February, 1965, saw a brief flurry of enemy activity and / 
the departure of the volatile General Nguyen Khanh as a result of another 
coup. The installation of Phan Huy Quat as Prime Minister and Phan Khac 
Suu as Chief of State was followed by a period of ominous quiescence. 
The drop in intensity of the fighting coincided with the dry season in the 
southern parts of the country, with the beginning of the United States 
Rolling Thunder program of continuous air strikes- against North Vietnam, * 
and with the arrival of the first U.S. ground combat troops committed to 
Asian soil since Korea. 

A. The Political Situation . ' 

Despite its rather inauspicious beginning in February, the govern- 
ment had by early April convinced the CIA that for the first time the pro- 
gressive deterioration in the South Vietnamese political situation had come 
to a halt, l/ All the disruptive elements in the Vietnamese body politic 
remained, but Quat displayed considerable talent in placating dissidents 
and was setting about in his own quiet manner to tidy up the chaotic Saigon 
government. Quat was no charismatic leader. If anything, he was the 
opposite with his self-effacing, mild manner. But he impressed Ambassador 
Taylor with his businesslike approach, and the latter had high hopes for 
Quat's success. 

By mid-May, to the dismay of the U.S. Mission, Quat's government 
began to manifest considerable strain. The Buddhists, a not always con- 
sistent pressure group, felt that Quat was too busy trying to please every- 
one instead of initiating a strong action program. The Catholics, on the 
other hand, were fearful of a Buddhist-dominated government and Saigon was 
full of rumors of the formation of Catholic paramilitary units. 2/ Colonel 
Pham Ngoc Thao, a familiar plotter, was said to have unsuccessfully attempted 
a coup on behalf of the Catholics around the 20th of May. 3/ 

An apparently routine cabinet shuffle proposed by Premier Quat at 
the end of May precipitated a crisis which led to the fall of his govern- 
ment. Quat had intended to replace three cabinet ministers with souther- 
ners; but the incumbents, with the support of Chief of State Suu, refused 
to resign. All the dissident elements on the Saigon political scene seized 
on the incident as an excuse to rain invectives on Quat and, finding Suu all 
too ready to listen to their complaints, used him to effectively paralyze 
the government, h/ The crisis came to a head on 9 June when Quat asked 
the senior generals of the RVNAF to mediate the dispute between himself and 
(^ Suu. Instead, the generals forced Quat to resign and took over the govern- 



ment themselves. 



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Following the military takeover, a National Leadership Committee 
was formed. On 21 June, Major General Nguyen Van Thieu was installed as 
Chief of State with Air Vice Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky as the new Prime 
Minister. The accession of Thieu-Ky ended for the moment any hopes of 
Ambassador Taylor and others for the establishment of effective civilian 
government in Vietnam. 

The sole bright spot in an otherwise very gloomy situation was 
the total absence of any violence associated with the military takeover. 
The new leaders came to office with an announced determination to maintain 
stability and to vigorously prosecute the war. 5/ Given the military 
situation at that time, little credence could be lent to their pronounce- 
ments. ..- • 

B. The Military Situation 

The Viet Cong were unusually inactive throughout March and Aprilo 
There had been no major defeat of the enemy's forces and no signs of any 
major shift in strategy on his parto Hence it was assumed that he was 
merely pausing to regroup and to assess the effect of the changed American 
participation in the war embodied in air strikes and in the Marines. 6/ 

During the spring months an emboldened ARVN displayed a new 
offensive spirit and scored a few successes at the expense of an elusive 
enemy. Most of the standard statistical indicators used by MACV to 
measure ARVN effectiveness showed favorable trends. The rate of enemy to 
friendly killed inclined in the government's favor, and for a brief but 
encouraging spell the rate of weapons lost to the enemy compared with 
weapons captured from him approached parity, jj A major effort by the 
GVN forces in March to open highway 19 from Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh Province 
to Pleiku in the highlands met with surprisingly light enemy resistance. 
Despite reports of heavy enemy force concentration and an impending offen- . 
sive in that area, the road remained open. 8/ Incremental gains all over 
the country contributed to an air of euphoria manifested in the occasional 
expression of cautious optimism which crept into weekly or monthly situation 
reports, such as Ambassador Taylor's NOD IS to the President (Saigon to 
SecState 3359, 13 April 1965) quoted below:. 

"We have just completed another quite favorable week in terms 
of losses inflicted upon the Viet Cong, 6U3 of whom were killed in 
action to 135 on the government side. Binh. Dinh Province which 
was considered to be in critical condition two months ago has now 
been restored to what might be called normalcy; that is to say, 
the fear of the loss of major towns appears to be past although 
a large part of the province remains under Viet Cong control. 
The success in Binh Dinh is attributable to three factors; a new 
and aggressive division commander, the commitment of five general 
reserve battalions to the province, and the improved morale 
generated by the air actions in the North. 



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"We still have the feeling that the Viet Cong are regroup- 
ing in the provinces in the northern half of the country and 
are probably preparing some kind of offensive action. However, 
there are a few indications that suggest that Viet Cong morale 
may be dropping. They have given up four major aims caches 
during the month without a sustained fight and the number of 
defectors during the week (129 Viet Cong military personnel and 
23 political cadre) is the highest defection figure since weekly 
statistics were initiated in January 196U. 

"On the manpower side, unaudited figures indicate that 
government military and paramilitary forces increased by some 
10,000 during the month of March of whom two-thirds were 
volunteers. This rate exceeds the target of- 8,000 accessions 
per month which we had considered the best the government could 
do with a maximum effort. x 

"Quat continued his program of provincial visits, making a 
tour of the Delta area from which he returned full of new ideas 
and bubbling with enthusiasm. . He was quite impressed with the 
senior officers whom he met in the IV Corps and, as always, en- 
joyed talking to the country people who assembled to greet him. 

"His principal concern remains the unruly generals and the 
continued evidence of lack of unity in the senior officers corps. 
You have probably noted the case of insubordination in the Navy 
wherein several senior naval officers petitioned the removal of 
Admiral Cang, the Chief of Naval Operations. Quat is handling 
'this matter routinely by a board of inquiry but is disturbed by 
this new evidence of lack of discipline in the armed forces. In 
his campaign to bring the generals under some kind of control, 
he is about to take the step of abolishing the position of 
Commander-in-Chief, while increasing the functions of the Minis- 
ter of National Defense. This is a move in the right direction 
but his troubles will not end as long as the military command 
structure is clouded by the presence of the Armed Forces Council. 
Quat is fully aware of this problem and intends to resolve it, 
but slowly and cautiously. 

"Your John Hopkins speech and the reply to the 17-nation 
overture attracted much attention in Saigon where the reaction 
was generally very favorable. As one might expect 5 the phrase 
"unconditional discussion" brought forth considerable editorial 
comment, but the conclusion was that the term suggested no real ' 
difference in aims between the Vietnamese and the United States 
Government. On two occasions, I have urged Quat to sit down with 
Alex Johnson and me to discuss various alternative courses of 
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during the coming weeks and months. He has not responded af- 
firmatively to this suggestion apparently because his own 
thoughts are not yet in order. 

• • • 

"The mission has been very busy since my return with all 
agencies reviewing their programs to see that they are aligned 
with the recent decisions taken in Washington. USOM Director 
Killen has discussed the ^-1 point non-military program with Quat 
who has expressed particular interest in such projects as rural 
electrification, agricultural development, water supply and 
school construction. The Acting CAS Chief, Mr. Jorgensen, is 
giving priority attention to the 12 outline projects which . 
Mr. McCone tabled during our Washington discussions and will ' 
soon have specific proposals for the Mission Council." 

and the following excerpts from COMUSMACV ' s Monthly Evaluations for March 
and April 19o5: 

" March, I965 : Events in March were encouraging. . .RWAF 
ground operations were highlighted by renewed operational effort 
. . .VC activity was considerably below the norm of the preceding 
six months and indications were that the enemy was engaged in the 
re-supply and re-positioning of units possibly in preparation for 
a new offensive, probably in the II Corps area... In summary, March 
has given rise to some cautious optimism. The current government 
appears to be taking control of the situation and, if the present 
state of popular morale can be sustained and strengthened, the 
GVN, with continued UoS. support, should be able to counter future 
VC offenses successfully. 

" April, 196?? : Friendly forces retained the initiative during 
April. and a review of events reinforces the feeling of optimism 
generated last month... In summary, current trends are highly en- 
couraging and the GTO may have actually turned the tide at long 
last . However, there are some disquieting factors which indicate 
a need to avoid over confidence. A test of these trends should be 
forthcoming in the next few months if the VC launch their expected 
counter-offensive and the period may well be one of the most im- 
portant of the war." ^/Emphasis added/ 

In view of the fact that nothing had basically changed in the South, 
it seems inconceivable that anyone was really fooled by the dramatic drop 
in enemy- initiated activity. Most official observers were hardheaded and 
realistic following the landing of the two Marine BLT's in March. 
COMUSMACV certainly was in the long and detailed Commander's Estimate of 
the Situation which he completed on 26 March and which will be analyzed 
at length later in this paper. In summary, General Westmoreland said in 



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the Estimate that the program of air activity against the North, while it 
might ultimately succeed in causing the DRV to cease its support of the 
war, -would not in the short run have any major effect on the situation in 
• the South. The RVNAE, although at the moment performing fairly well, 
would not be able in the face of a VC summer offensive to hold in the 
South long enough for the "bombing to become effective. 9/ 

i 

Realistic assessments of the situation in March notwithstanding, 
some of the parlance in cables and messages between Washington and Saigon 
expressed conviction that the situation in Vietnam was well in hand, and 
resisted radical changes or even urgent revision of ongoing U.S. programs, 
Ambassador Taylor, for example, reacted strongly to proposals that U.S. 
military -civil affairs personnel be introduced into the aid effort, and 
told McGeorge Bundy that the GVN was winning the war without such help. 
Taylor said: - < 



l 









"I am greatly troubled by DOD 152339Z April 15 /a cable 
from McNaughton to Saigon containing a seven point program 
with 'highest authority 1 sanction^ First, it shows no 
consideration for the fact that, as a result of decisions 
taken in Washington during my visit, this mission is charged 
with securing implementation by the two month old Quat govern- 
ment of a 21 point military program, a kl point non-military 
program, a 16 point Rowan USIS program and a 12 point CIA 
program. Now this new cable opens up new vistas of further 
points as if we can win here somehow on a point score. We 
are going to stall the machine of government if we do not 
declare a moratoriimi on new programs for at least six months. 

• 

"Next, it shows a far greater willingness to get into the 
ground war than I had discerned in Washington during my recent 
trip. Although some additional U.S. forces should probably be 
introduced after we see how the Marines do in count erinsurgency 
operations, my own attitude is reflected in EMBTEL 338^-, which 
I hope was called to the attention of the President. 

"My greatest concern arises over para 6 reftel which frankly 
bewilders me. What do the authors of this cable think the mission 
has been doing over the months and years? We have presumably the 
best qualified personnel the Washington agencies (State, AID, DOD, 
USIA, and CIA) can find' working in the provinces seven days a week 
at precisely the tasks described in para 6. Is it proposed to 
withdraw these people and replace them by Army civil affairs types 
operating on the pattern of military occupation? If this is the 
thought, I would regard such a change in policy which will gain 
wide publicity, as disastrous in its likely efforts upon pacifi- 
cation in general and on US/GVN relations in particular. 

"Mac, can't we be better protected from our friends? I know 
that everyone wants to help, but there's such a thing as killing 
with kindness. In particular, we want to stay alive here because 



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we think we're winning — and will continue to win unless helped 
to death ?" 2^ m P^ ias:5LS added/ 

The conferees who met in Honolulu three days later reached a joint 
agreement which was somewhat less optimistic than the Ambassador's pro- 
nouncement. Present in Honolulu were Secretary McNamara, Assistant 
Secretaries William Bundy of State and John McNaughton of Defense, 
Ambassador Taylor , Generals Wheeler and Westmoreland, and Admiral Sharp. 
Some of these men had helped produce the current optimism in situation 
reports and cables, and yet the concensus of their meeting was that the 
then present level of Viet Cong activity was nothing but the lull before 
the storm . 

The situation which presented itself to the Honolulu conferees was in 
many ways the whole Vietnam problem in microcosm. What was needed to gal- 
vanize everyone into action was some sort of dramatic event within South 
Vietnam itself. Unfortunately, the very nature of the war precluded^the ■ 
abrupt collapse of a front or the loss of large chunks of territory in 
lightning strokes by the enemy. The enemy in this war was spreading his 
control and influence slowly and inexorably but without drama. The 
political infrastructure from which he derived his strength took years 
to create, and in most areas the expansion of control was hardly felt 
until it was a fait accompli . Only when he organized into units of bat- 
talion and regiment size, did the enemy voluntarily lend some dramatic 
elements to the war. Whenever these units appeared and engaged the RVNAF, 
the government and its U„S. helpers had something they could handle. 
Unfortunately at the time of the April 1965 Honolulu Conference the Viet 
Cong Main Force units were underground and the conferees had little or . ■ 
no tangible threat to which to react. 

There were, however, plenty of indications in the early spring of 1965 
of what was to come. There had been no major degradations in the Viet 
Cong strength nor in their order of battle. On the contrary, the enemy 
was recruiting apace and more than offsetting his losses. 10/ From 
throughout the country came reports that Viet Cong troops and cadre were 
moving into Central Vietnam and into areas adjacent to the ring of pro- 
vinces comprising the "Hop Tac" area around Saigon. 11/ 

Constant political turmoil involving many of the senior KVNAF officers 
and few significant victories combined to have a deleterious effect on the 
effectiveness of the GVN armed forces. The JCS on 20 March identified the 
degradation of RVNAF as a new phenomenon after months of political insta- 
bility. They used the decline as justification to argue for the deploy- 
ment of three divisions of reinforcements from the U S and Korea. 12/ 

Finally and most ominous of all, a CIA-DIA memorandum dated 21 April 
1965 reflected the acceptance into the enemy order of battle of one regi- 
ment of the 325th PAW Division said to be located in Kontum Province. 13/ , 



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The presence of this regular North Vietnamese unit, .which had been first 
reported as early as February , was a sobering harbinger of things to come. 

The storm broke in earnest on 11 May when the Viet Cong attacked the 
capital of Phuoc Long Province , Song Be, using more than a regiment of 
troops. The enemy overran the town and its MACV advisory compound, caus- 
ing heavy casualties among the U.S. and Vietnamese defenders. After holding 
the. town for a day, the Viet Cong withdrew. Subsequent ARVN operations 
revealed that the enemy also had suffered heavily in the battle. 

Significantly, while the Viet Cong were preparing their attack on 
Song Be, the GVN was pushing to completion a new Special Forces camp at 
Dong Xoai not far away on the NW corner of War Zone C. Ik / That camp 
was opened in May, and in less than a month the enemy was to reveal his 
interest in it. 

Before May was over, however, the Viet Cong appeared again in strength, 
this time in Quang Ngai Province in the northern I Corps. Near the small 
outpost of Ba Gia a few kilometers west of Quang Ngai City, a battalion of 
the ARVN 51st Regiment was ambushed and overrun. Although the size of the 
enemy force was unknown, the ARVN commanders in the area rushed reinforce- 
ments out to the scene only to have them, ambushed in turn. The battle 
dragged on for several days and ended in total defeat for the ARVN. Two 
battalions were completely decimated and, what was worse, the ARVN senior 
commanders on the scene had displayed tactical stupidity and cowardice in 
the face of large enemy forces. From Ba Gia came a sense of urgency, at 
least among some of the senior U.S. officers who had been witness to the 
battle. 15/ The very real possibility of ARVN collapse had been made 
manifest. 

On the 7th of June, shortly after Ba Gia, General Westmoreland sent 
to CINCPAC this message (LIMDIS 19118, 070335Z Jun 65): 

"As indicated Ref A ^/COMUSMACV 0*01332 N0TAL7, a broad review 
of force requirements has been conducted in light of the changing 
situation in Southeast Asia and within RVN. 

"There are indications that the conflict in Southeast Asia 
is in the process of moving to a higher level. Some PAW forces 
have entered SVN and more may well be on the way. Additional ' 
jet fighters and some jet light bombers have been deployed in 
the DRV. 

"Specifically, elements of the 325th PAVN Division are in 

. the northern zone of II Corps. It is quite possible that the 

major portion, if not all, of the Division is now deployed in 

the Kontum, Pleiku, Phu Bon area. Elements of the 30Vth PAVN 

Division are suspected to be in the panhandle and, therefore, 









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capable of following the 325th. The recent heavy actions in 
Phuoc Long and Quang Ngai, and VC initiatives in Pleiku, 
Kontum, Phu Bon and Thua Thien are demonstrations of VC 
strength and their apparent determination to employ their 
forces aggressively. Recent events as well as captured VC 
prisoners and documents suggest that a summer campaign is 
now underway to destroy government forces and, concurrently, 
to first isolate and then attack district and province towns, 

"So far, the VC have not employed their full capabilities 
in this campaign. Only two of the nine Viet Cong regiments 
have been heavily engaged (one in Phuoc Long and one in Quang 
Kgai) , and probably only a similar proportion of their separate 
battalions has been committed. In most engagements, VC Main 
Force units have displayed improved training and discipline, 
heavier firepower from the new family of weapons with which 
most Main Force units have been equipped, and a willingness to 
take heavy losses in order to achieve objectives. 

"in pressing their campaign, the Viet Cong are capable of 
mounting regimental-size operations in all four ARVN Corps 
areas, and at least battalion- sized attacks in virtually all 
provinces. Known dispositions indicate major actions are 
likely in the near future in the Binh Duong-Phuoc Thanh-Phuoc 
Long area north of Saigon, in the Quang Ngai-Quang Tin area in 
Central Vietnam, and in Kontum, Pleiku, Phu Bon and Binh Dinh 
Provinces. Major attacks could occur also in other areas; the 
Viet Cong have shown that they are capable of concentrating in 
regimental strength with little or no warning. Whether or not 
the 30^th Div is in, or moving toward SVN, the DRV has a 
'doorstep' capability to reinforce the VC with sizable forces. 

"ARVN forces on the other hand are already experiencing 
difficulty in coping with this increased VC capability. De- 
sertion rates are inordinately high. Battle losses have been 
higher than expected; in fact, four ARTO battalions have been 
rendered ineffective by VC action in the I and II Corps zones. 
Therefore, effective fighting strength of many infantry and 
ranger battalions is unacceptably low. As a result, ARVW 
troops are beginning to show signs of reluctance to assume 
the offensive and in some cases their steadfastness under 
fire is coming into doubt.' In order to bring existing bat- 
talions up to acceptable battlefield strength, it will be 
necessary to declare at least a temporary moratorium on the 
activation of new battalions. Thus, the GVN/VC force ratios 
upon which we based our estimate of the situation in March 
have taken an adverse trend. You will recall that I recom- 
mended the deployment of a U.S. division in II Corps to cover 



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the period of the RVNAE buildup and to weight the force ratios 
in that important area. We assumed at that time that the ARVN 
battalions would be brought to full strength "oy now and that 
the force buildup would proceed on schedule. Neither of these 
assumptions has materialized. 

"The problem of low battlefield strength in ARVN has forced 
us to plan the use of personnel now training in 11 new battalions 
as fillers for old battalions. In effect, these 11 battalions 
will be deferred and during the period from mid- July to early 
November no new ARVN battalions will become available . Thus the ' 
gap to be filled is both deeper and wider. 

"In summary, the force ratios continue to change in favor of 
the VC. I believe that the DRV will commit whatever forces it 
deems necessary to tip the balance and that the GVN cannot stand • 
up successfully to this kind of pressure without reinforcement. 
.Even if DRV VC intentions are debatable, their capabilities must 
be acknowledged and faced. Additionally, it is prudent to con- 
sider possible enemy air action, leading to significant escala- 
tion and a broadening of the arena of conflict. We must be 
. prepared to face such a contingency. 

"in order to cope with the situation outlined above, I see 
no course of action open to us except to reinforce our efforts 
in SVN with additional U.S. or Third Country forces as rapidly 
as is practical during the critical weeks ahead. Additionally, 
studies must continue and plans developed to deploy even greater 
forces, if and when required, to attain our objectives or counter 
enemy initiatives • Ground forces deployed to selected areas 
along the coast and inland will be used both offensively and de- 
fensively. U.S. ground troops are gaining experience and thus 
far have performed well. Although they have not yet engaged the 
enemy in strength, I am convinced that U.S. troops with their 
energy, mobility, and firepower can successfully take the fight 
to the VC. The basic purpose of the additional deployments 
recommended below is to give us a substantial and hard hitting 
/offen/sive capability on the ground to convince the VC that 
they cannot win. . . . " 

There were some who thought COMUSMACV f s assessment of the situation 
was a bit precipitous, 16/ but the dissenters were effectively silenced 
the following week as the Viet Cong attacked the aforementioned Special 
Forces camp and the adjoining district headquarters at Dong Xoai. ARVN 
reinforcements were committed piecemeal to the fray and were devoured by 
the enemy, who was on the scene with better -than two regiments of troops. 
The battle, which lasted for five days and nearly saw thd commitment of 
the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade to bail the ARVN out, marked the bitterest 
fighting of the war to date,, 



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The GVN casualties of the second week in June were twice as high as 
any previous week of the war. The VC casualties, which were reported to 
exceed the ARVN total of 1,672, were a mute testimony to the enemy's re- 
generative capability and to his willingness to pay a heavy price in 
order to destroy the GVN*s fighting power. 17/ The success of his efforts 
so far was made explicit on the 26th of June when COMUSMACV rated 5 ARVN 
regiments and 9 separate battalions combat ineffective. At the end of May 
the. figure had been 2 regiments and 3 battalions. 18/ 






By mid -June 1965, the Viet Cong summer offensive was in full stride. 
Shifting the emphasis away from the areas of their early successes on the 
periphery of "Hop Tac" and in the southern portion of I Corps, they began 
the long-expected offensive in the highlands of II Corps. On the 25th of 
June the district headquarters at Tou Morong in Kontum Province was in- 
vested and then taken by an enemy force said to be a PAW regiment rein- 
forced with some Viet Cong troops. 19 / Other remote district headquarters 
came under enemy pressure in the ensuing weeks until by 7 July a total of 
six of them had been abandoned or overrun. The Viet Cong were systematically 
forcing the GVN to yield what little control it still exercised in rural 
areas outside the Mekong Delta. 



Summing up the situation at the end of the week of lh July, the CIA 
said: "The initiative and momentum of military operations continue in 
favor of the Viet Cong. The impact of Viet Cong operations is being felt . 
not only by the RVNAF but by the nation's internal economy as well. 
Nothing this week points to the M wresting the initiative from the VC."20/ 

> 

A major part of counterinsurgency thinking and planning in early 1965 
was based on the concept of force ratios. In order to defeat the insurgent, 
it was thought necessary to have a preponderance of force in favor of the 
GVN of somewhere around 10 to 1. 21/ The actual ratio for that time period 
was considerably less than 10 to 1 and was inclining in favor of the insur- 
gents. In order to redress the situation. General Westmoreland advocated 
accelerating the build-up of the RVNAF. 22/ To accomplish this, he said, 
measures to increase induction and to curtail the shocking rates of deser- 
tion would have to be found. Unfortunately, any build-up strategy was 
obviated by the events of late May-early June. General Westmoreland informed 
CINCPAC on 7 June that the RVNAE build-up was to 'be suspended until November 
and that trainees would be used as fillers in heavily attrited units. 23 / 
If force ratios still were of paramount importance, then reinforcements for 
the GVN side would have to come from other than domestic Vietnamese sources. 

I 

The enemy side of the force ratio 'was open to question since histori- 
cally Viet Cong .strength tended to be understated. The enemy order of 
battle as reported on 17 March 1965 "was as follows: 2U. 



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Confirmed strength — 37? 000 Regular Troops 

100,000 Irregulars and Guerrillas (approx) 

5 Regimental Headquarters 
50 Battalions 
1^4-5 Separate Companies 
35 Separate Platoons 

All of these figures reflected substantial increases over the previous 

year. In fact, the confirmed strength had risen no less than 33$ since 

196U. After the Viet Cong had demonstrated rather bluntly that the 

March 1965 statistics were a trifle conservative, the order of battle was 

revised and on 21 July appeared as follows: 25/ 

1 - • - 

Confirmed strength — 53,000 Regular Troops 

100,000 Irregulars and Guerrillas (no change 
from previous figure which was itself 
an estimate) 

10 Regional Headquarters 
72 Battalions • 

192 Separate Companies 
101 Separate Platoons * 

In light of subsequent information, even the above estimate, gloomy as it 
was, understated the enemy strength. Opposing the Viet Cong forces were 
- ' the EVNAF Regular, Regional, and Popular Forces totaling some 570,000 men 
and boasting at best 133 infantry-type battalions. 26 / At a quick glance, 
the force ratios in July were seen to be about 3*8 to 1 in favor of the 
GVN in manpower (with the RW Police and some paramilitary forces such as 
the Armed Combat Youth not being counted and about 1.9 to 1 in favor of the 
GVN in maneuver battalions. Undoubtedly the force ratios as seen in mid-1965 
were far from optimum for theoretical counterinsurgency operations. 

• ■ 

C. Pacification 

The program to pacify, or extend government control over, the 
countryside never really recovered from the political turmoil of 196^ and 
early 1965° The 1965 master plan for "Rural Reconstruction" (one of many 
such euphemisms) was not approved by the RVNAF High Command until after 
the first quarter of the year." 27 / Situation reports, both MACV and CIA, 
described incremental plusses and minuses in what was obviously overall a 
stalled program. . 

On 6 April, a MACV military spokesman gave the following answers 
to questions from the press after a presentation summing up the month of 
March 1965: 28/ 



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"Q. Have the figures on VC control of territory and popu- 
lation changed appreciably? A. The statistic that counts is 
people, and in the month of March the statistics that are here 
do not have percentiles. 

"Q. Can you give us figures on the number of people 
brought under government control in January and in March — or 
to the closest month? A. It's not significant. I f d say it was 
a slow gain basically in the Hop Tac area. Any place else, you've 
had a trade-off. 

"Q. Would it be a fair assumption to say that, outside of 
Hop Tac the government held its own? A. In the overall,, held 
its own. 

"Q. There was no significant progress, then. The government 
held its own? A. That's correct.' 

"Q* It was a stalemate, then? A. Wo, I wouldn't call it a 
stalemate. I don't consider the fact that you pacified, or 
asserted control over 20 additional hamlets which might house 
as many as six or seven thousand people a stalemate. 

"Q. At the same time we lost... A. No, you misunderstand 
me... the losses and the gains were counter balanced outside the 
Hop Tac area. In the Hop Tac area, there were gains." 

CIA and MACV Situation Reports contained the following observations on 
pacification: 

CIA Monthly Report, 21 January 1965: 

"Pacification on a nationwide basis, has generally been stalled for 
the past month. Although there are pacification plans in effect in all 
provinces (except Con Son Island), there has been little significant 
progress; in some areas there has been an appreciable deterioration of. 
governmental control. Even though South Vietnamese officials report con- 
tinuing progress in the high priority Hop Tac effort around Saigon, it 
remains to be seen whether these are more than paper achievements. To 
date there has been no major effort by the Viet Cong to strike at areas 
which are now claimed as "secure," and therefore the validity of govern- 
ment claims remains untested. The Viet -Cong have increased their numbers 
and the tempo of their operations in areas adjacent to Hop Tac and what 
is apparently an attempt to draw off government forces committed to this 

major pacification effort." 
» 

CIA Monthly Report, 17 February. 196$ : 

"Nationwide, the pacification effort has barely moved ahead since 
1 January; there has been a serious deterioration in some areas, mainly 



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the I and II Corps. The slowdown in the pace of pacification is due to 
several factors which include: the preoccupation of some senior com- 
manders with Saigon politics, the Tet holiday period, and VC strength, 
which in some areas has forced the GVN military forces into static or 
defensive roles." 

MACV Monthly Evaluation Report for February 1965 : 

"The only pacification progress during February was registered in 
Hop Tac and other areas of III Corps, while other sections of the country 
either held earlier gains or showed deterioration. Contributing factors 
were increased VC activity, especially in the I and II Corps and the 
administrative confusion associated" with the attempted coup of 19 February. 
At month's end, the 1965 pacification plans were still undergoing a review, 
with the result that pacification funds had not yet been released to the 
provinces. A stopgap allocation of 3 million $VN per province was made by 
the New Rural Life Directorate to permit programs to continue pending 
release of regular funds. Even so, many province chiefs are reluctant to 
push forward without more specific authorization and direction from higher 
authorities . " 

MACV Monthly Evaluation Report for March 196^ : 

"Although there was a lull in VC activity during the last half of the 
month, field commanders failed to capitalize on the situation and pursue 
pacification goals vigorously. During the month the pacification generally 
experienced regression in I and II CTZ while parts of III and IV Corps 
recorded slow but steady progress.' in the Hop Tac area consistent gains 
were recorded throughout the month." 

CIA Weekly Report, 2h March 1965 : 

"Pacification efforts during the past week remained stalled through- 
out most of the country. Some progress was seen in II Corps in pacifica- 
tion efforts." 

MACV Monthly Evaluation for April 1965 : 

"Despite improved psychological conditions and the continued lull in 
VC activity, there was little .tangible evidence of progress in rural re- 
construction during the month. . .Overall, the slow but steady progress in 
III and IV Corps was offset by losses in I and II Corps. Contributing 
factors to this standstill were the GVN delay in approving provincial 
budgets and a continued lack of aggressiveness in operations directly 
supporting rural reconstruction „ There was no appreciable increase in 
the number of refugees this month and- relief measures taken by the 
Minister of Social Welfare and the province chiefs appear to be progress- 
ing satisfactorily, particularly in Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai provinces." 






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The sole bright spot in all of this was the highly touted "Hop Tac" pro- 
gram which concentrated resources, human and material, on a few key 
provinces around the capital of Saigon. A lot of favorable things were 
being said about Hop Tac. McGeorge Bundy tola the President in an 
apparently pivotal memorandum dated 7 February 1965 that although 
American air power would have to bemused to buy time for us to break 
the Viet Cong hold on the countryside, the Hop Tac program offered 
hope for the future. 29/ (See Section I. A. in the Study on The 
Re-emphasis of Pacification.) During that 6th of April press conference, 
the MACV spokesman told the press that "Hop Tac continues to move along 
a plus curve . • . " 30 / 

Even without the dogged optimism, it is difficult in the absence ^ of 
hard data to accurately assess the real situation in the countryside in 
early 1965, or to tell how much of the Hop Tac program was merely bluster 
and bravado o. In regard to the latter, the Secretary of Defense sent to 
the Chairman of the JCS on K June 1965 the following query: "How did 
the Viet Cong mobilize a battalion to attack Binh Chanh district town 
only 10 miles from Saigon in the center of the Hop Tac area?" 31/ 
Whatever the case, the pacification program was overtaken by events of 
May and June e Prior to this, the II Corps, including the coastal pro- 
vinces of Phu Yen and Binh Dinh and .all of the highland provinces, was 
already in trouble. 32 / - 

D. Economic Situation 

The staple food of the Vietnamese is rice, and Vietnam has in 
time of peace traditionally been an exporter of that commodity. The 
Viet Cong campaigned to control the countryside where the rice is grown 
and the routes of communication, land and water, over which it is moved 
to market. They were so successful that by 1965 the GVK was forced to 
contemplate massive imports of rice in order to feed the population and 
help stabilize prices. To illustrate the scope of the problem, the 
following statistics show rice exports from the district of Thanh Phu to 
the capital of its province Kien Hoa, one of the richest of the provinces 
in the Mekong Delta: 33/ 

Metric tons of paddy rice exported from Thanh Phu to Kien Hoa 
1960-1965: • 



i960' 1,815 tons 

1961 2,609 tons 

1962 . • 2,^91 tons 

1963 ' • 2,1+51 tons 
196k 1,033 tons 
I965 7^5 tons 

By early 1965 the current crop of Delta rice had already been 
harvested, and it was obvious that the Viet Cong were not going to allow 



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it to reach the urban markets. By the end of 19&5 *t^ e retail price 
indices showed that for middle and working class families in Saigon 
the cost of food was kl$> higher than a year earlier. The general price 
index, not including rent, for working class families was 33^ higher 
and for the middle class, 30$ higher. 3k/ The upsurge in overt enemy 
military activity in May and June was accompanied by a major campaign 
to interfere with GVN lines of communication. Highway One and the rail- 
way which parallel one another through the coastal provinces in I and II 
Corps were both cut in numerous places. The road from Saigon to Da Lat^ 
over which moved much vegetable produce, was constantly harassed. By 
the end of May, the town of Ben Cat in Binh Duong Province WW of Saigon 
was isolated. 35/ In May the Viet Cong cut the Danhiem-to-Saigon power- 
line and effectively prevented its repair o 36/ 

Through increased control in the agricultural producing areas, 
very effective harassment of the primary means of communication within 
the GVN, and selective application of military pressure, the Viet Cong 
were waging a very successful campaign aimed at grinding the economy 
of the GVN to a halt. 



There wasn't much the GVN could do about it. 'The 11 battalions 
of the RVNAE General Reserve were being "whipsawed" back and forth react- 
ing to enemy military activity. By June the Reserve was already so 
heavily committed that there was little additional combat power available 
to the GVN with which to influence a rapidly deteriorating situation, 
military and economic o 37/ 



II.. The Brief Tenure of the Strategy of Security 

A. Security as a Rationale 

The rationale that got two Marine BLT's into Da Nang in March 
I965 > which was publicly announced and which caused surprisingly little 
outcry, was plausibly advanced on several subsequent occasions as 
additional, troops were deployed to various locations in Vietnam. Whether 
or not it was publicly offered as a rationale, the strategy of deploying 
troops for the security of bases was short-lived. The Marines hardly had 
their feet dry when several proposals were brought forward to get U S 
troops actively engaged in the ground war. These proposals, the first of 
which followed close on General Johnson's return from his Vietnam inspec- 
tion trip of 5-12 March, 38/ were the center of much private debate in 
the spring and early summer of 1965<» That debate went on largely behind 
the scene while the American public was in ignorance of the proceedings » 
The strategy of security effectively became a dead letter on the first 
of April, but the change in strategy was not revealed publicly until the 
8th and 9th of June. 



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B. NSC Meetings of 1-2 April 1965 

On the 17th of March, General Westmoreland sought Ambassador 
Taylor's concurrence in a proposal to deploy an additional USMC BLT to 
Phu Bai near Hue on the northern coast in I Ccrps. Westmoreland wanted 
to cut down some of the density of aircraft at Da Nang by moving heli- 
copters to the strip at Phu Bai. The Marine BLT was needed to protect 
that strip. 39/ Taylor cabled to Washington: (EMBTEL 3003, 18 Mar 65) . 






j "General Westmoreland has just sought my concurrence in • 

i his recommendation for the landing of the Third BLT of the 

j ' 9th MEB at Phu Bai for the purpose of protecting the 8th RRU 

i and th^ air strip there. He intends to move helicopters from 

Da Nang to the strip and thereby reduce field congestion" at 

J Da Nang. Because of the military advantages of thus rounding 

» out the MEB, I have no reluctance in agreeing to the merit 

j " of his recommendation which, of course , should receive the 

; concurrence of the GVN after that of Washington. 

"This proposal for introducing the BLT is a reminder of 
the strong likelihood of additional requests for increases 
in U.S. ground combat forces in SVN. Such requests may come 
from the U.S. side, from the GVN side or from both. All of 
us here are keenly aware of the GVN trained military manpower 
shortage which will exist throughout 1965 and which probably 
can be rectified only in part by an accelerated mobilization. 
We will soon have to decide whether to try to get by with 
inadequate indigenous forces or to supplement them with Third 
Country troops, largely if not exclusively U.S. This matter 
was discussed with General Johnson during his recent visit 
who no doubt has raised it following his return to Washing- 
ton. This message examines the pros and cons of such an 
action -- specifically defined as the introduction of a U.S. 
division (appropriately modified) into SVN. 

"The purpose of introducing of a division would be pri- 
marily to relieve the present shortage of ARVN units either 
by replacing ARVN in the defense of key installations or by 
. engaging in active operations against the VC in conjunction ■ 
with ARVN. Such a reinforcement would allow a strengthening 
of military efforts in the I and II Corps areas where the 
situation is deteriorating and would give a boost to GVN 
morale, military and civilian. Likewise, it should end any 
talk of a possible U.S. withdrawal and ccnvince Hanoi of the 
depth of our resolve to see this thing through to a success- 
ful conclusion. 

"This statement of the purpose of introducing a U.S. 
division is, in effect, a tabulation of the arguments in 
favor of so doing. However, there are counter arguments 









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on the other side of the case. The introduction of a U.S. 
division obviously increases U.S. involvement in the counter- 
insurgency, exposes greater forces and invites greater losses. 
It will raise sensitive command, questions with our GTO allies 
and may encourage them to an attitude of "let the United 
States do it." It will increase our vulnerability to Com- 
munist propaganda and Third Country criticism as we appear 
to assume the old French role of alien colonizer and con- 
. queror. Finally, there is considerable doubt that the number 
of GW forces which our action would relieve would have any 
great significance in reducing the manpower gap. 

T It is possible to reach a conclusion with regard to the 
overall merit of this action without first examining in some 
detail the possible missions which could be assigned a U.S. 
division. There are two obvious possibilities; the first, 
the assignment of the division to one or more of the provinces 
of the high plateau where the climate is good, the terrain 
relatively open, and the Montagnard population more readily 
distinguishable from the alien Viet Cong. Here, our forces 
could utilize their mobility and firepower effectively and make 
an important contribution in cutting off the growing infiltra- 
tion into and through this area. For the most part, the 
Montagnards are friendly to the U.S. and our forces would thus 
be operating in a relatively friendly environment. 

On the other hand, such a mission in the highlands would 
place our forces in an area with highly exposed lines of com- 
munication leading to the coast. Their location in this area 
would create serious logistic problems because of the diffi- 
culty of the movement of land transport through areas infested 
by the Viet Cong. There would be problems both of reinforce- 
ment and of withdrawal because of this precariousness of land 
communications. Finally, the GW may question the introduc- 
tion of sizeable U S. forces into the Montagnard area where 
we have often been accused of favoring the Montagnards over 
the Vietnamese and of encouraging Montagnards separatism. 

The other role which has been suggested for U.S. ground 
forces is the occupation and defense of key enclaves along 
the coast such as Quang Ngai, Qui Nhon, Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang. 
• Such a disposition would have the advantage of placing our 
forces in areas of easy access and egress with minimum logis- 
tic problems associated with supply and maintenance. The 
presence of our troops would assure the defense of these im- 
t ' portent key areas and would relieve some GVL T forces for em- 
ployment elsewhere. The troops would not be called upon to 
engage in counter insurgency operations except in their own 
local defense and hence would be exposed to minimum losses 8 



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n <&n the other hand, they would he engaged in a rather 
inglorious static defensive mission unappealing to them and 
unimpressive in the eyes of the Vietnamese. Operating in 
major population areas -would maximize the points of contact 
with yietnamese and hence maximize the possible points of 
friction. The division would be badly fragmented to the 
extent that its command, control and supervision would be 
awkward. 

"Jhe foregoing analysis leads me to the following tenta- 
tive conclusions. First, it is not desirable to introduce 
a U.Si division into South Vietnam unless there are clear 
and tangible advantages outweighing the numerous disadvan- 
tages $ many of which have been noted above. One must make 
a definite determination of the numbers and- types of GVN 
forces relieved by the introduction of the U.S. unit and 
thus the effect of the increased U.S. presence in closing 
the manpower gap of 1965. Obviously, our division would 
make some contribution but it remains to be proved that it 
will be sufficient to reverse the downward trend and give 
such a lift to the GVN forces that they would perform better 
by the stimulation of the U.S. presence rather than worse in 
a mood of relaxation at passing the Viet Cong burden to the 
U.S. j 

"If the evidence of the probable effectiveness of this 
U.S. contribution is convincing, then the matter of mission 
becomes the primary question. The inland mission in the 
highlands is clearly the more ambitious and, if well done, 
will make a greater contribution during the present critical 
period. On the other hand, it is the more exposed and even 
permits one to entertain the possibility of a kind of Dien 
Bien Phu if the coastal provinces should collapse and our 
forces were cut off from the coast except by air. 

T p?he coastal enclave mission is safer, simpler but less 
impressive and less productive than the inland mission. The 
contrast of the pros and cons of the two suggests the de- 
sirability of reexamining the question to see whether the 
advantages of the inland disposition could not be combined 
in some way with the retention of a base coastal area, linked 
with*a po-sition inland. In any case, considerable additional 
study is required before we are prepared to make a recommen- 

f 

datiOn either for the introduction of a division or for the 
■ assignment of its mission. In the meantime, we should be 
giving much thought both in South Vietnam and in Washington 
as to the right course of action £L£J and when this issue 
becomes pressing -- as it shortly will." 



• 



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CINCPAC forwarded General Westmoreland's Phu Bai proposal to the JCS on 

19 March and further recommended that the remainder of the 9th MEB, one 
BLT plus headquarters elements, "be landed at Da Nang "within a month in 

. order to consolidate command and control and "build up the defense of 
that base, hoj The JCS recommended both measures to the Secretary of 
Defense on 25 March, l+l/ and they were discussed by the National 
Security Council and Ambassador Taylor during the latter f s visit to 
the United States in late March-early April 1965- The President him- 
self, in National Security Action Memorandum 328, approved the deploy- 
ment of those two BLT ! s and at the same time, by changing the Marines 1 
mission to include offensive operations, he ended the strategy of 
security., 1+2/ (For full text of NSAM 328, see page 12U.) 

NSAM 328 is a pivotal document . It marks the acceptance by 
the President of the United States of the concept that U.S. troops 
would engage in offensive ground operations against Asian insurgents •• 
It indicates as well the anxiety of the President — his decision to 
proceed very slowly and carefully so that U.S. policy should appear to 
be wholly consistent. Thus the President only approved the deployment 
of two Marine BLT's, although he was doubtless aware of a JCS proposal 
favored by the Secretary of Defense and forwarded by the Chiefs on 

20 March, which called for the deployment of a three division force, 
two U.S. and one Korean. J+3/ At the President's request, all NSC 
members were admonished in NSAM 328 not to allow the release of any 
premature publicity for the actions dealing with the Marines and their 
mission. As a result, the change of mission was not publicized until 
it crept out almost by accident in a State Department release on 
8 June, kk/ 

Nor was the change of mission clearly defined in NSAM 328. 
The Marine BLT's were to be permitted more active use "under conditions 
to be established and approved by the Secretary of Defense in consulta- 
tion with the Secretary of State" k$/ and, of course, their new mission 
was subject to the approval of the GVN. During his. return trip to 
Saigon, Ambassador Taylor sent the following cable to the State Depart- 
ment: 1+6/ 

"In Washington discussions of new Marine mission in Da Nang- 
Phu Bai area, it was my understanding that SecDef would provide 
text of revised mission. If no guidance beyond language of 
reftel ^/Deptel 218^- containing the summarized guidance/ is to 
be provided by Washington, I propose to describe the new mis- 
sion to Quat as the use of Marines in a mobile counter insurgency 
role in the vicinity of Da Nang for the ?\mproved protection of 
that base and also in a strike role as 3 reserve in support of 
! , ARVN operations anywhere within fifty miles of the base. This 

j latter employment would follow acquisition, of experience on 

local counterinsurgency missions." 



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It is pretty clear, then, that the President intended, after the early 
April NSC meetings, to cautiously and carefully experiment with U.S. 
forces in offensive roles. There was sober awareness that the North 
Vietnamese were not going to quit and that the U.S. was well on its 
way to "being committed on the ground. The Rolling Thunder program, 
if it was going to "bear any fruit at all, certainly was not going to 
do so in the next few months. * 

The U.S. decision-makers really were on what Assistant Secre- 
tary of Defense McNaughton described as "the horns of a trilemma." 
While addressing General Johnson's proposals" for action in South Vietnam, 
McNaughton jotted down some notes on 2k March which accurately described 
the predicament facing the U.S. Government. The question, according to 
McNaughton, was: "Can. the situation inside South Vietnam be bottomed out 
(a) without extreme measures against the DRV and" (b) without deployment 
of large numbers of U.S. (and 3rd Country) combat troops inside SVN?" 
McNaughton T s answer was "perhaps, but probably no." Because that was 
the case, he went on, the U S was faced with the "trilemma." Policy 
appeared to be drifting even though there was consensus that present 
action probably would not prevent collapse of the GVN. All three choices' 
for remedial action so far presented had been rejected. These choices 
were (l) will-breaking strikes against the DRV which risked escalation 
flash and were thus too risky, (2) large U.S. troop input which raised 
the old spectre of an Asian land war and recalled memories of the French 
defeat, and (3) exit from the scene through negotiation which insured, 
because of the current situation, humiliation of the U.S. kjj The 
alternatives, as described above by Mr. McNaughton, went into the 
National Security Council discussions which took place during the Am- 
bassador's visit. What came out of those discussions was NSAM 328 and 
the decision to proceed ahead very slowly with ground force involvement. 

Missing from NSAM 328 was the elucidation of a unified, coherent 
strategy. Ambassador Taylor, among others, had raised the question as to 
whether or not Western troops could fight effectively in Vietnam. No one 
could forget the French failure, and the Ambassador's reservations re- 
ceived due attention. Before devising a strategy for the use of U.S. 
ground forces, however, it was deemed necessary to experiment with small 
numbers of them to see how they would do. There was time to indulge the 
luxury of a leisurely build-up. The situation was bad, but currently the 
GVN was doing a bit better, and nothing pointed to immediate collapse. 

The early April NSC meetings signalled the beginning of an 
enclave strategy. U.S. forces would operate within strictly limited 
boundaries (originally not to exceed 50 miles from base) and would have 
their backs to the sea. No Dien Bien Phu's would be presented for the 
enemy to exploit as supplies and reinforcements could be brought in with 
ease over sea LOC's controlled entirely by the U.S. Navy. As a corollary, 
the U.S. forces could be withdrawn with equal ease should the situation 
so dictate. 



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Although NSAM 328 only approved 2 Marine BLT's for deployment to 
Vietnam, there was also included an 18-20,000 man increase in U.S. forces 
in order to "fill out existing units and supply needed logistic personnel." 
k8/ Just -what the President's intent was in approving that number of 
personnel "became the subject of some debate. The Secretary of Defense on 
21 April told the President that 11,000 of the approved increase was to 
augment various existing forces while a further 7>000 were logistic troops 
to support "previously approved forces o" ks/ According to a memorandum 
from McNaughton to Vance dated 5 May, the JCS misconstrued the add-ons to • 
mean logistic build-up for coastal enclaves and the possible later intro- 
duction of two to three divisions. 50/ It isn't entirely clear from the 
documents exactly what the President did have in mind for the support 
troop add-ons. What is clear, however, and was made explicit in a memo- 
randum from the Secretary of Defense to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, on 5 April was that the JCS were continuing to plan for the earliest 
possible introduction of two to three divisions into HOT. 51/ The Am- 
bassador indicated to the State Department in a cable on 12 April that he 
too thought the 18-20,000 man increase was for something more than those 
forces already approved. Taylor said: 

"I have been following with interest the logistic studies 
which are going on at PAC0M and MACV in anticipation of the 
possible introduction of several divisions into SOT. Several 
comments occur to me which are passed on for what they are 
' . worth. There appears to be no question about the need for 

the 18,000-20,000 logistic build-up (the Category A force) 
recommended by General Westmoreland. The introduction of 
• this force has. been approved and should be implemented as 
rapidly as the elements can be moved and MACV can accept 
them. I am surprised to learn from MACV that May 1 is the 
earliest date for the arrival of the engineer element which 
paces, the rate of arrival of the other components. If pos- 
sible, this date should be advanced. 

"The Category A package will provide support for about 
50,000 U.S. personnel in-country, i.e., the present strength 
plus the additional Marines now landing in the Da Nang-Hue 
area and will permit some preliminary work in anticipation of 
the arrival of additional U.S. forces. To make any signifi- 
cant progress toward the establishment of a logistic base to 
support additional forces, it will be necessary to bring in 
rapidly about 5>000 more engineers (above those in Category A). 
MACV estimates they could arrive about Au^st 1 (if the Cate- 
i gory A engineers arrive on May l) . I would concur in the 

J • desirability of this reinforcement, feeling that these engi- 

; neers can be very useful in SOT whether or not we ever intro- 

duce additional divisions." 

Taylor went on in the same cable (as though he were summing up the results 
of the meetings which led to the NSAM) : , 



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"With regard to the imminence of the need for those 
divisions, I do not share the fear that the I and II Corps 
areas are about to fall apart which is expressed in some of. 
the traffic bearing on the logistic build-up ♦ In any case, 
if a debacle is going to take place in the next few months, 
the time factors developed in the logistic studies indicate 
that very little advance logistic preparation can be made in 
time. In such an unlikely contingency, U.S. combat reinforce- 
ments will have to deploy concurrently with their logistic 
units and build their base as they go. 

"While recognizing the importance of the current studies 
in developing the logistic facts of life as they bear on the 
reinforcement of SW, I hope that they do not interfere with 
essential work in preparation for less ambitious but more 
probable developments. It was my understanding in Washington 
that, if the Marines demonstrate effectiveness in operating 
out of Da Nang in an offensive counter insurgency role, other 
offensive enclaves may be established along the coast and 
garrisoned with brigade-sized contingents for employment 
similar to the Marines. General Westmoreland is very anxious 
to establish such a force as soon as possible in the Bien 
Hoa-Vung Tau area. Qui Nhon is also well situated for similar 
purposes." I would recommend that logistic preparations be 
initiated at once to permit each of these two areas to receive 
a U.S. brigade. Whatever is done for this purpose will assist 
in accommodating any larger forces which may be subsequently, 
introduced. It is important that this lesser program be 
carried out rapidly enough to make a contribution to the situ- 
ation which is now unfolding. This requires rapid- action." 52/ 

C. The Additional Marines Land 

From the 11th through the lUth of April the two Marine BLT's 
approved by the President in HSAM 328 were deployed to Hue/Phu Bai and 
Da Nang. Their landing brought the total number of U.S. maneuver " 
battalions in South Vietnam to four, all Marines. Although security 
was no longer the only authorized mission for these units, it certainly 
was their primary mission. The Marines set about consolidating and 
developing their two coastal base areas, and, although they pushed their 
patrol perimeters out beyond their tactical wire and thereby conducted 
active rather than passive defense, they did not engage in any offensive 
operations in support of ARVN for the next few months. (Major General 
"Rip" Collins, CG III MAE, was on the scene while ARVN was being beaten 
at Ba Gia at the end of May, and his Marine troops were almost committed 
to that fight). 53/ 

D. Westmoreland Tried to Slide the 173rd in for Security 

- As a kind of postscript to the strategy of security, it was used 
by General Westmoreland as justification for an attempt to get some Army 



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ground troops on the stage in early April. Westmoreland had recommended 
in March that a separate Army Brigade (possibly the 173rd) be deployed to 
the Bien Hoa/Vung Tau areas "in order to secure vital U.S. installations." 
That recommendation accompanied Westmoreland 1 s request for up to two 
divisions of forces and was contained in his "Commander's Estimate of the 
Situation/' which will be considered later in some detail. $k/ On the 
11th of April, Westmoreland cabled CINCPAC that he understood from news 
of the Taylor meetings in Washington that the requested divisions of 
forces were not immediately in the offing. Nevertheless, Westmoreland 
wanted a brigade in the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau area because "it was as neces- 
sary from a purely military standpoint as the deployments in the Da Nang- 
Phu Bai area which have already won acceptance." (Security of Bien Hoa/ 
Vung Tau was not all COMUSMACV had in mind, however, for the same message 
mentioned the need to offset a Viet Cong threat embodied in two regiments 
and two separate battalions perched on the eastern flank of III Corps. 
He also wanted a light reserve force which could.be airlifted to the 
Central Highlands in case of emergency.) 55/ 

The 173rd, a two-battalion airborne brigade, was then located 
in Okinawa It constituted CINCPAC T s airmobile reserve. When an 
earlier attempt had been made to deploy the 173rd to Da Nang in place of 
the Marines, CINCPAC had stringently opposed the removal of his only 
quick-reaction force. 56/ 

What followed General Westmoreland's request of 11 April, a re- 
quest that Ambassador Taylor "had noted," was a rapid-fire series of 
cables, proposals, and false starts which, if nothing else, indicated 
that Washington was well ahead of Saigon in its planning and in its 
anxiety. The first event in the chain was a planning conference held 
in Honolulu 8-10 April and attended by representatives of PACOM and the 
Joint Staff. The conferees recommended the deployment of the 173rd and, 
in deference to CINCPAC 's concern for his airmobile reserve, they also 
recommended that the 173rd be replaced by another brigade from CONUS as 
soon as practicable. 57/ The JCS ordered on lU April that the 173rd be 
deployed temporarily to Bien Hoa/Vung Tau for security of air operations 
and logistical bases and at the same time tasked CINC STRIKE to provide a 
brigade to replace the 173rd. 58/ 

The decision to deploy the 173rd apparently caught the Ambassador 
flatfooted, for he had quite obviously not been privy to it. He cabled 
the State Department on the lUth and said: 59/ 

• 

"I have just learned by the reference JCS message to CINCPAC 
that the immediate deployment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to 
Bien Hoa-Vung Tau has apparently been approved. This comes as a 
complete surprise in view of the understanding reached in Wash- 
ington that we would experiment with the Marines in a counterin- 
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This decision seemed sound to me at the time and continues to 
appear so. I recommend that this deployment be held up until 
we can sort out all matters relating to it." 

Whatever was motivating those in Washington who had decided to make this 
deployment , the Ambassador held the trump card as he had to clear the 
move with the GVN before the troops could come in. The Prime Minister 
had not been told at this juncture about the proposed landing of more 
U.S. troops, and Taylor informed his superiors on 17 April that he did 
not intend to tell Quat without clearer guidance explaining Washington's 
intentions. 60, 



That Washington was determined, with the President's sanction, to 
go beyond what had been agreed to and formalized in NSAM 328 was manifested 
unmistakably in a cable sent under joint Defense/State auspices by Mr. 
McNaughton to the Ambassador on 15 April. 6l/ That message, which will 
be treated in detail in a later section, contained the following preamble: 
"Highest authority believes the situation in South Vietnam has been de- 
teriorating and that, in addition to actions against the North, something 
new must be added in the South to achieve victory. As steps to that end, 
we believe the following actions should be undertaken..." The message 
goes on to list seven specific actions including the deployment of "a 
brigade force" to Bien Hoa/Vung Tau "to act as a security force for our 
installations and also to participate in counterinsurgency combat opera- 
tions" ' according to plans to be prepared by General Westmoreland. 

The documents do not reveal just exactly when Presidential 
sanction was obtained for the expanded scope of the above proposals. It 
is possible that the Ambassador may have caught the Defense Department 
and the JCS in a little cart-before-the-horsemanship. The day following 
the order from the JCS to deploy the 173rd and the Ambassador's reclama 
thereto, the JCS submitted a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense in 
which they addressed the Ambassador's objection to the deployment and 
offered their own position, which was that "the U.S. had need of the 
173rd in Bien Hoa/Vung Tau to insure the security of air operations and 
logistics bases as had been recommended by COMQSMACV and by CINCPAC in 
CINCPAC to JCS DTG 132235Z April 1965." The 173rd was also needed, they 
said, for subsequent phasing into counterinsurgency operations. 62 / 
Whether or not the JCS wrote that memorandum with red faces, the Secretary 
of Defense dates approval for final deployment of the 173rd as of the 30th 
of April, which Is considerably later. 63 / Even when the 173^d was 
finally ordered to deploy, it went on a temporary duty basis. It remained 
in that anamolous status well into the summer of 1965, expecting any day 
to be recalled to Okinawa and replaced by another unit. The troops con- 
tinued to draw TDY pay, and their dependents remained at the permanent 
base on Okinawa instead of returning to the U.S. Q\l 



With the 173rd successfully held in abeyance, €he principals took 
that issue, along with the seven points of the 15 April cable, to Honolulu, 
where a conference convened on 20 April and structured the outlines of the 
ever popular enclave strategy. 



6h TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






E. Security -was the Primary Mission for Most of the Phase I Units 



The security of U.S. bases in mainland Southeast Asia may well 
have been dead as a basis for a strategy, but the bases nonetheless 
needed to be secured,, The security rationale was consistently offered, 
along with other reasons, to justify the further deployment of ground 
combat units. In fact, looking back on the force deployments which 
were the main subject of this paper, the JCS in November 1965 stated 
that 21 of the original kk "Phase I Tr U.S /3rd Country battalions, whose 
deployment to Vietnam was accomplished in the latter half of 19&5* were 
committed to base and installation security. 65, 












65 



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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 SECRET - Sensitive 



III. The Strategy of Experimentation — Enclave Strategy 

A. Geography 

The geography of Vietnam . lends itself to enclave thinking — 
that is , to operations based on coastal cities and with restricted 
extension of lines of communication inlando The central portion of 
Vietnam, encompassing the I and II Corps Tactical Zones and a portion 
of the III Corps, is long and narrow. The area near the coast is for 
the most part fairly flat and hospitable and contains the bulk of the 
population. The interior is mountainous and is sparsely populated 
throughout. In some places the mountains come right down to the coast, 
but the coastal plain is well defined for most of the length of Central 
Vietnam. Scattered along this coast are the mouths of numerous streams, 
each with a small delta which serves as an area for rice production and 
concentration of population, and as a focus for commercial activity. 

Several cities, such as Da Nang, Qui Khon, and Nha Trang, are 
located contiguous with the coastal population and have good deep water 
anchorages for ocean-going maritime activity. All three of these cities 
were 5 in early 1965, likely candidates for bases in an enclave strategy* 
There were other areas along the coast which did not have deep water 
anchorages but which were, nevertheless, readily accessible for amphib- 
ious resupply from the sea. Chu Lai, little more than a sandy hamlet, 
and Phu Bai fell into this category and were very much a part of enclave 
thinking. 



In between the central coast and the Mekong Delta -- which 
itself offered no good coastal access and egress and hence was never a 
part of any enclave strategy — was the port of Vung Tau. Located at 
the end of the Cap St. Jacques peninsula and easily defended, Vung Tau 
was the logical alternative to the port of Saigon, access to which 
required a risky trip up the Saigon River from a point not far from 
Vung Tau. Vung Tau could be called the southern limit of a chain of 
coastal enclaves beginning with Hue/Phu Bai in I Corps. 

B. Development of the Strategy . 

General Johnson, Chief of Staff of the Army, brought back from 
his March 1965 inspection trip to Vietnam the germ flf an idea to estab- 
lish U.S. ground forces in coastal enclaves. The idea is included in 
one of two alternatives proposed by Johnson for the deployment of a 
UoS. division tc Vietnam to supplant ARVN unl'-s in security missions and 
free them for offensive operations against the Viet Cong. One alterna- 
tive proposed sending the division to secure bases at Bien Hoa/Ton Son 
Nhut (near Saigon), Qui Nhon and Nha Trang (both coastal cities), and 



66 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



Pleiku (in the highlands). The other alternative proposed the deploy- 
ment of a division to the highland provinces of Kontum, Pleiku, and 
Darlac. 66/ Significantly, the coastal city deployment and the second 
alternative were the two principal contenders for the location of the 
1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) debated later in the year. The second 
alternative was the one favored by both Johnson and JCS Chairman Wheeler .67/ 

By far the most dogged protagonist of the enclave strategy was 
Ambassador Taylor. He was consistent in his opposition to the initial 
involvement of U..S. forces in ground combat. As he saw his position 
being eroded on that question, it would seem natural for him to have 
fallen back in an only slightly less conservative posture. On 18 March 
1965, in a cable already quoted in its entirety in Section II, Taylor 
brought up the question of the deployment of a U.S. division and presented 
the highland and coastal enclave alternatives. While not backing either 
alternative at that juncture, he did say that "the coastal enclave mis- 
sion is safer, simpler but less productive than the inland mission." In 
regard to the latter, he said: "The inland mission in the highlands is^ 
clearly the more ambitious and, if well done, will make a greater contri- 
bution during the present critical period. On the other hand, it is the 
more exposed and even permits one to entertain the possibility of a kind 
of Dien Bien Phu if the coastal provinces should collapse and our forces 
were cut off from the coast except by air." 68/ 

The Ambassador received no response from Washington to the 
cable quoted above. He sent another one on the 27th of March in which 
he reminded Washington that it was high time to make some decisions con- 
cerning U.S. strategy in Vietnam, According to Taylor, there were three 
choices: (l) to carry on with the present level of commitment and hope 
that Polling Thunder would cause the DRV to cease its support, (2) to 
try and reverse the trend at least in a few key areas, and (3) to try 
and win as quickly as possible. If U.S. forces were to come, Taylor 
offered three alternatives for their mission: (l) defensive or offen- 
sive enclave, (2) territorial clear and hold, and (3) general reserve. 
For himself, Taylor preferred a combination of the offensive enclave 
plus reserve in case of an emergency. 69 / This was essentially the 
position that he carried into the NSC meetings in Washington of 1-2 April 

1965. 

Ambassador Taylor met with Secretary McNamara and the JCS in 
Washington just prior to the NSC meetings. He was shown the JCS T s plan 
to introduce three divisions of U.S. and Korean troops into Vietnam for 
combat operations against the Viet Cong. That plan, which Taylor was 
inclined to oppose but. which had the qualified support of McNamara, was 
undoubtedly also a focus of discussion within the NSC. 70/ 

NSAM 328, the product of the NSC meetings of 1-2 April 1965, 
had its primary focus on air action against the DRV and Laos. In 



67 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



7 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



regard to that air activity the text of the NSAM said this: 

"Subject to continuing review, the President approved 
the following general framework of continuing action against 
North Vietnam and Laos: 

"We should continue roughly the present slowly ascending 
tempo of POLLING THUNDER operations, being prepared to add 
strikes in response to a higher rate of VC operations, or 
conceivably to slow the pace in the unlikely event VC slacked 
off sharply .for what appeared to be more than a temporary 
operational lull. 



| "The target systems should continue to avoid the effective 

I GCI range of MIGs. We should continue to vary the types of 

I targets, stepping up attacks on lines of communication in the 

] near- future, and possibly moving in a few weeks to attacks on 

the rail lines north and northeast of Hanoi." 



And, also: 



"Air operation in Laos, particularly route blocking opera- 
tions in the Panhandle area, should be stepped up to the maximum 
remunerative rate." 

Iri regard to action on the ground, NSAM 328 said in relation 
to force level increases: 

"The President approved an 18-20,000 man increase in U.S. 
military support forces to fill out existing units and supply 
needed logistic personnel. 

"The President approved the deployment of two additional 
Marine Battalions and one Marine Air Squadron and associated 
headquarters and support elements." 

And, . also: 

- 

'; . "The President approved the urgent exploration, with the 

! . Korean, Australian, and New Zealand Governments, of the possi- 

• . bility of rapid deployment of significant combat elements from 
! their armed forces in parallel with the additional Marine 

1 ' deployment approved . . . . " 

I ' NSAM 328 sanctioned a change in mission for U.S. ground forces 

in Vietnam, but it did so in very cautious language: 



68 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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


















TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



"The President approved a change of mission for all 
Marine battalions deployed to Vietnam to permit their more 
active use :ander conditions to be established and approved 
by the Secretary of Defense in consultation -with the Secre- 
tary of State." 71/ 

This language may indicate that the President wanted to experiment very 
carefully -with a small amount of force before deciding whether or not 
to accept any kind of ground -war commitment. Implicit in the size of 
that force and- in its location was the option to quickly evacuate it, 
should the U.S. so desire. 

It appears that the Ambassador interpreted the NSAM change of 
mission as approval of his 27 March recommendation. He cabled Washington „ 
on the Ij-th of April that he would approach Quat with a proposal that the 
Marines be permitted to conduct mobile operations within their TAOR's 
and that they be used by the RVNAF as a reserve for operations up to 
50 miles from their bases. 72/ The Vietnamese Prime Minister acquiesced 
in the deployment of the two Marine BLT T s plus one Tactical Fighter 
Squadron (fU) on the 6th of April and in the change in mission on the 

8th. 73/ 

Taylor was at this juncture quite prepared to settle into a 
period of careful experimentation with the level of combat power fixed 
at four battalions. He said in a message dated 17 April that he had 
about 60 days in mind as the appropriate period for the experiment , jk/ 
and he indicated he was chagrined by some apparent anxiety in Washington 
to move considerably faster. In a message also dated 17" April he ques- 
tioned the Washington panic manifested in a whole panoply of "hasty and 
ill- conceived" proposals for the deployment of more forces. In another 
message he again cautioned against precipitous action and offered the ■ 
palliative that "things weren't going so badly" out there. 75/ 

Four Marine battalions were enough for experimentation, but not 
so large as to alarm the xenophobic Vietnamese. In fact, the Ambassador's 
sensitivity to the proclivities of the Vietnamese Prime Minister on the 
question of foreign troops helps explain the Embassy's footdragging during 
this critical period of U.S. build-up debate. Thus, the Ambassador was 
surprised to discover that the Marines had come ashore with tanks, self- 
propelled artillery, and various other items of weighty equipment not 
"appropriate for counterinsurgency operations." 76/ . That equipment, 
bland JCS explanations mentioning contingency plans and full TOE prudence 
notwithstanding, 77 / implied a permanence not communicated to Quat 
when clearance for their entry had been sought. Similarly, the decision 
to deploy the 173rd, had it been executed, would have placed Taylor in an 
exceedingly embarrassing position as he had not mentioned it to the GVN. 



69 • TOP SECRET - Sensitive 






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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



From analysis of the cable traffic of early April, it appears 
that Taylor was the only major figure opposed to further expansion of 
the U.S. combat role beyond what was agreed at the IISC meetings in 
j . Washington. His defense was tenacious, but as proposals from Washington 

! • got progressively more radical, his patience began to wear thin. Then 
j Taylor communicated his ire to Mc George Bundy in a message quoted in 

full in Section I of this paper and in which he maintained that Quat T s 
government had quite enough to do without the addition of more UoS. * 
•" programs or more UoS. forces. 78/ The chorus of suggestions and programs 
from Washington reached a crescendo with the joint State/Defense message 
of 18 April which, with the blessing of "highest authority" in Washington, 
. proposed the following measures be considered to add "something new" to 
the equation: 79/ 

(1) Experimental encadrement of U.S-. troops into RVHAE - 
either through the assignment of 50 U.S. soldiers to each of 10 ARVN 
battalions or through the "brigading" of ARVDJ and' US battalions for 
operations; 

(2) The introduction of a brigade force into Bien Hoa/ 
Vung Tau for security of installations and later expansion into counter- 
insurgency operations under conditions to be spelled out by General 
Westmoreland; 

(3) The introduction of several battalions into coastal 
enclaves such as Qui Khon in accordance with proposals to be submitted 
by the Ambassador and COMUSMACV. The purpose was "to further experi- 
ment with US forces in the counterinsurgency role"; ( Sic ! The phrase 
"to. further experiment" is misleading since up to the date of this 
cable, there had been no U.S. counterinsurgency operations worthy of 
the name . ) 



techniques; 



(h) Expansion of Vietnamese recruiting, using proven U.S 



(5) Expansion of the MEDCAP program using mobile dispen- 
saries under guidelines to be worked out between COMUSMACV and the 
Surgeon General, U.S. Army; 

(6) Experimentation in two or three provinces with a team 
of U.S. civil affairs personnel introduced into provincial government 
structure under conditions to be worked out between MG Peers and General 
Westmoreland; 

(7) The supplement of low RVNAF pay through a program to 
provide some of the troops with a food ration. General Timmes would be 
seeing COMUSMACV to work out the details. 



70 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



■ 






TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



Although this cable was well-meaning in its intent, the Am- 
bassador was amazed by its naivete and justifiably chagrined by its 
impertinence • The following cable ^/reproduced at pages 72 through j6J 
one of many Taylor sent to Washington during the tumultuous days just 
prior to the April Honolulu Conference, is woith quoting in its en- 
tirety as it contains the kind of guidance the Ambassador felt he should 
have been receiving from Washington. 80/ 

Thus was the Ambassador propelled into the conference of 
20 April 1965> on ly °ne step ahead of the Washington juggernaut, which 
was itself fueled by encouragement from Westmoreland in Saigon. Taylor 
was not opposed to the U.S. build-up per se, but rather was concerned 
to move slowly with combat troop deployments, which tended to cause 
alarm in an already delicate situation, while proceeding quietly with 
the prerequisite development of logistic bases to support later troop 
introduction • He was overtaken at Honolulu. 

Honolulu brought the Saigon and Washington decision makers 
together to sanctify an expanded enclave strategy. In the preliminary 
discussions they agreed that: 8l / 

(1) The DRV was not likely to quit within the next six 
months; and in any case, they were more likely to give up because of 
VC failure in the South than because of bomb-induced "pain" in the 
Horth. It could take up to two years to demonstrate VC failure. 

(2) The level of air activity through Rolling Thunder was 
about righto The U.S did not, in Ambassador Taylor's words, want "to 
kill the hostage." Therefore, Hanoi and environs remained on the re- 
stricted list. It was recognized that air activity would not do the 
job alone. 

(3) Progress in the South would be slow, and great care 
should be taken to avoid dramatic defeat. The current lull in Viet 
Cong activity was merely the quiet before a storm 

(k) The victory strategy was to "break the will of the 
DRV/VC by denying them victory." Impotence would lead eventually to 
a political solution 

Going into the Honolulu Conference the level of approved U.S. 
forces for Vietnam was ^0,200. In-country strength of 33^500 showed 
that not all the approved forces had closed. To accomplish the "victory 
strategy" described above, the conferees agreed that the following 
additional U.S. deployments should be made: 

A. United States 

* 

(l) An Army Brigade (3 Bns) to Bien Hoa - Vung Tau 
to close by 1 May ■ 



71 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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TO 






r 



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






• - 






DEBARMENT OF DSFENSI 



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'THIS MESSAGE UNDERTAKES TO SUMMARIZE INSTRUCTIONS 

RECEIVED" OVER THE LAST TEN DAYS WITH REGARD TO THE 
,»&HIRD COUNTRY COMBAT FORCES AND TO DISCUSS THE PRE 
RESENTING THE SUBJECT TO THE GVN. 



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HAVE 



"HIGH 
INTRODUCTION 

F ERR ED WAY OF 



Or 



AS THE RESULT OF THE MEETING OF THE PRESIDENT AND HIS ADVISORS ON 
'APRIL i A!'© THE NSC MEETING ON THE FOLLOWING DAY. I LEFT WASHINGTON 



AND RETURNED- TO SAIGON 



ftJT TH 

* » — * * » 



THE UNDERSTANDING THAT 



THE REINFORCEMENT 



OF THE MARINES ALREADY ASHORE BY TWO ADDITIONAL BLT'S AND A F-4 
SQUADRON AND THE PROGRESSIVE INTRODUCTION OF 1IAWPNPPP SUPPORT 
FORCES WERE APPROVED BYT THAT DECISION ON THE SEVERAL PROPOSALS FOR 
BRINGING IN MORE US COMBAT FORCES AND THEIR POSSIBLE MODES OF EMPLOY - 
KENT WAS WITHHELD IN AN OFFENSIVE COUNTER INSURGENCY ROLE. STATE WAS 

EN ZEALAND GOVTS ~dl ?QS- 
M3AT ELEMENTS IN PAR AL- 



TO EXPLORE KITH THE KOREAN*, AUSTRALIAN* AND NEW 

SISILITY OF RAPID DEPLOYMENT OF SIGNIFICANT COM 



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INFO: CJCS-2(i-2) DJS-!(3) SJCS-1(*0 J3-t(5) J5-K6) SAC$A-1(7). 

NMCC-1(8) SECDEF-50-13) ASD/1 SA-1{ 1*0 D1A-1(15) . 

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



DEPARTMENT 0? DEFENSE 

NATIONAL NBUTABY COMSSAHD CENTER 
•KESSASc QQiTER 






LEL WITH THE MARINE REINFORCEMENT. 

SINCE ARRIVING HOME, I HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS AND 
HAVE TAKEN THE INDICATED ACTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THIRD COUNTRY 
COMBAT FORCES. v 

APRIL 6 AND g. RECEIVED GVN CONCURRENCE TO INTRODUCTION OF THE 
MARINE REINFORCEMENTS AND TO AN EXPANDED MISSION FOR ALL MARINES 
IN DANANG-PKU BAI AREA. V q 

APRIL S, RECEIVED DEPTEL 2229 DIRECTING APPROACH TO GVN, SUG- 
GESTING REQUEST TO AUSTRALIAN GOVT FOR AN INFANTRY BATTALION FOR USE 



IN SVN. WHILE AWAITING A PROPITIOUS MOMENT TO RAISE THE MATTER ,_•! 
RECEIVED DEPTEL 22S7 DIRECTING APPROACH BE DELAYED UNTIL FURTHER 
ORDERS. NOTHING FURTHER HAS BEEN RECEIVED SINCE. 

APRIL Ik. I LEARNED BY JCS 009012"T<) CINCPAC OF APPARENT DECISION 
TO DEPLOY 173PD AIRBORNE BRIGADE IMMEDIATELY TO 3IEN HOA- 
VijNG TAU, BY EM3TEL 337 3, DELAY IN THIS DEPLOYMENT WAS URGENTLY 
..RECOMMENDED BUT NO REPLY HAS BEEN RECEIVED, HOWEVER, PARA 2 OF 
''' DOC 152339 APPARENTLY MAKES REFERENCE TO THIS PROJECT IN TERMS 

WHICH SUGGEST THAT IS SOMETHING LESS THAN AS AN APPROVED IMMEDIATE 
..-HON. IN VIEW OF THE UNCERTAINTY OF ITS STATUS, I HAVE NOT 
} -0 ACHED THE MATTER WITH QUAT. 

APRIL 15. RECEIVED DEPTEL 2314 DIRECTING THAT EMBASSY SAIGON 
DISCUSS WITH GVN INTRODUCTION OF ROK REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM ANT) 
SUGGEST GVN REQUEST SUCH A FORCE ASAP, BECAUSE OF QUAT ' S ABSENCE 
FROM SAIGON, I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO RAISE MATTER, AS MATTER CF 
FACT, IT SHOULD NOT BE RAISED UNTIL WE HAVE A CLEAR CONCEPT OF 
EMPLOYMENT, 



AlC 



•■i > 



APRIL 16. I HAVE JUST SEEN STATE-DEFENSE MESSAGE DOD 152339" 
CITED ABOVE WHICH INDICATES A FAVORABLE ATTITUDE TOWARD SEVERAL 
POSSIBLE USES OF US COMBAT FORCES BEYOND THE NSC DECISIONS OF APRIL 2. 
I AM TOLD TO DISCUSS THESE AMD CERTAIN OTHER NON-MILITARY MATTERS 
URGENTLY WITH QUAT. THE SUBSTANCE OF THIS CALBE WILL BE ADDRESSED IN 
A SEPARATE MESSAGE, I CAN NOT RAISE THESE MATTERS WITH QUAT WITHOUT 
FURTHER GUIDANCE. 



PAGE 2 OF 3 



wusk 






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73 



TOP SECRET 



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



C 









DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 

NATWNAl K3UTARY C3:*3AHB CENTER 
aJSSAGS CEHTQ? 



FACED WITH THIS RAPIDLY CHANGING PICTURE OF WASHINGTON DESIRES AMD 
INTENTIONS WITH REGARD TO THE INTRODUCTION OF THIRD COUNTRY (AS 
WELL AS US) COMBAT FORCES, I BADLY NEED A CLARIFICATION OF OUR PUR- 
POSES AND OBJECTIVES. BEFORE I CAN PRESENT OUR CASE TO GVN, I HAVE 
TO KNOW WHAT THAT CASE IS AND WHY , IT IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY TO 
GET READY CONCURRENCE FOR THE LARGE SCALE INTRODUCTION OF FOREIGN 
TROOPS UNLESS THE NEED IS CLEAR AND EXPLICIT, 




QUOTE THE USG HAS COMPLETED A THOROUGH REVIEW OF THE SITUATION 
IN SVN BOTH IN ITS NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ASPECTS AND HAS REACHED 
CERTAIN IMPORTANT CONCLUSIONS, IT FEELS THAT IN RECENT WEEKS THERE 
HAS BEEN A SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE CHANGE IN THE OVERALL SITUATION AS 
THE RESULT OF THE AIR ATTACKS ON DRV. THE RELATIVELY SMALL BUT 
NUMEROUS SUCCESSES IN THE FIELD AGAINST THE VC AND THE ENCOURAGING 

'PROGRESS OF THE QUAT GOVT, HOWEVER, IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY 
;:-.EAR THAT, IN ALL PROBABILITY, THE PRIMARY OBJECTIVE OF THE GVN 
v-iD THE USG OF CHANGING THE WILL OF THE DRV TO SUPPORT THE VC 
3URGENCY CAN NOT BE ATTAINED IN AN ACCEPTABLE TIME FRAME BY 
THE METHODS PRESENTLY EMPLOYED. THE AIR CAMPAIGN IN THE NORTH MUST 
BE SUPPLEMENTED BY SIGNAL SUCCESSES AGAINST THE VC IN THE SOUGH 

•BEFORE WE CAN HOPE TO CREATE THAT FRAME OF MIND IN HANOI WHICH 
WILL LEAD TO THE DYCISIOMS WE SEEK, TAYLOR, 
BT 
CF 






PAGE 3 OF 3 



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



.."SECRET 



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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 

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f 1PAIGN AGAINST THE VC WHICH IS CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL FOR THE 

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AMD EVEN BEYOND, TKEY CONSIDER IT NECESSARY TO REINFORCE GVN GROUND 

FORCES WITH ABOUT 20 BATTALION EQUIVALENTS IN ADDITION TO THE 






INFO CJCS-2(1-2) DJS-U3) SJCS-1 (4) J3-U5) J5-l(6) SACSA-1(7) 

NMCC-1(8) SECDEF-5(9-13) AS0/ISA-1(14) D 1 A - 7 ( 15) CSA-1(!6) 

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PAGE 1 OF 2 



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75 



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



sprnrr 



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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 



HATICSAt k;uta3Y cca&AKa chutes 












FORCES NOW BEING RECRUITED IN SVN. SINCE THESE REINFORCEMENTS CAN 
NOT BE RAISED BY THE GVN, THEY MUST IMEVITA3LY COME FROM THIRD 
COUNTRY SOURCES, 



QUOTE THE USG ACCEPTS THE 
AND OFFERS ITS ASSISTANCE 
FORCES FOR THE PURPOSE OF 



VALIDITY OF THIS REASONING OF THE JCS 
TO THE GVN TO RAISE THESE ADDITIONAL 
BRINGING THE VC INSURGENCY T AN END IN 
THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME. WE ARE PREPARED TO BRING IN ADDITIONAL ' 
US GROUND FORCES PROVIDED WE CAN GET A REASONABLE DEGREE OF PARTICI- 
PATION FROM OTHER THIRD COUNTRIES. IF THE GVN WILL MAKE URGENT REPRE 
SENTATIONS TO THEM, WE BELIEVE IT ENTIRELY POSSIBLE TO OBTAIN THE 
FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTIONS: KOREA, ONE REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM; AUS- 
TRALIA, ONE INFANTRY BATTALION; NEW ZEALAND, ONE BATTERY AND ONE 
'COMPANY OF TANKS; PI, ONE BATTALION, IF FORCES OF THE FOREGOING 
MAGNITUDE ARE FORTHCOMING, THE USG IS PREPARED TO PROVIDE THE 
REMAINDER OF THE COMBAT REINFORCEMENTS AS WELL AS THE NECESSARY 
LOGISTIC PERSONNEL TO SUPPORT THE THIRD COUNTRY CONTINGENTS, ALSO 
ELL USE ITS GOOD OFFICES AS DESIRED IN ASSISTING THE GVN 
APPROACH TO THESE GOVTS, 



'i 



70TE YOU (THE AMBASSADOR) WILL SEEK THE CONCURRENCE OF THE GVN 
"I THE GORE GOING PROGRAM, RECOGNIZING THAT A LARGE NUMBER OF 
V.JESTIONS SUCH AS COMMAND RELATIONSHIPS, CONCEPTS OF EMPLOYMENT AND 
DISPOSITION OF FORCES MUST BE WORKED OUT SUBSEQUENTLY. UNQUOTE, 
ARMED WITH AN INSTRUCTION SUCH AS THE FOREGOING. I WOULD FEEL 
ADEQUATELY EQUIPPED TO INITIATE WHAT MAY BE A SHARP DEBATE WITH 
THE GVN. J. NEED SOMETHING LIKE THIS BEFORE TAKING UP THE PENDING 
TROOP MATTERS WITH QUAT, TAYLOR, 
BT 



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(2) 3 USMC BLT's and 3 Tactical Fighter Squadrons 
to Chu Lai by 5 May 

(3) An Army Brigade (3 Bns) to Qui Nhon-Nha Trang 
to close "by 15 June 

(k) Augmentations of existing forces and added 
logistical support 

If approved, these recommended forces would have brought U.S. strength 
to a grand total of 13 maneuver battalions and 82,000 men. 

The U.S. Government also should approach the respective foreign 
governments and request: - 

B. Third Country 

(1) An Australian Army Battalion to Vung Tau to close 
by 21 May 

(2) A Korean Regimental Combat Team to Quang Ngai 
by 15 June 

If approved, these recommended forces -would bring Third Country strength 
to a grand total of h maneuver battalions and 7,250 men. 

As an adjunct to the units above, the conferees mentioned, but 
did not recommend, the possible later deployment of: 

C. United States 

(l) An Army Airmobile Division (9 Bns) 
• (2) The remainder of the III MEF (2 Bns) 

(3) . An Army Corps Headquarters 

D . Third Country 

An R0K Division (-) consisting of 6 Battalions 

The posited future add-ons comprised a further 17 maneuver battalions, 
which, if added to the approved totals, would have brought US /Third 
Country combat capability in South Vietnam to 3k battalions. 

After they had dealt with the questions of troop deployments, 
the conferees then turned to the remaining points contained in the joint 
State/Defense 7-point program. It was decided to drop the idea of en- 
cadrement of U.S. forces in ARVU in favor of emphasis on combined 



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operations. Recruiting, it was agreed, was less a problem of organiza- 
tion and method than it was a product of the limited manpower base and 
competing, agencies (including the Viet Cong). The plan to improve 
MEDCAP was endorsed with enthusiasm, and it was agreed to experiment 
with a "single manager" concept in three pilot provinces. Finally, the 
proposed plan to distribute food to some RV1TAF troops, an earlier ver- 
sion of which had merely encouraged greater corruption, was quietly 
deferred pending further study. 

As a final note, the conferees considered the guidance which 
the Ambassador had prepared for himself in the event that more U.S. and 
Third Country forces were to be committed in Vietnam. The text remained 
essentially as Taylor had written it in his cable of 17 April. A few 
changes were made to reflect that the commitment was not limited to the 
current proposed deployments and that the U.S. was anxious to seize the 
initiative from the enemy. Taylor had said, "if the ground war is not to 
drag into 1966 and even beyond." That phrase was changed to read, "if 
the ground war is not to drag on indefinitely ." 82/ ^Emphasis added/ 
The conferees appear to have realized not only that the forces they had 
recommended be deployed to Vietnam might not be enough, but also that 
it would be unwise to attempt to affix any time limit to the war. 

The President received the Honolulu recommendations in a memo- 
randum from Secretary McNamara on the 21st of April. Noted therein, but 
not recommended, were possible deployments of an Army Airmobile Division 
and the remainder of the III MEF. 83/ 

The Honolulu Conference omitted to provide for reconstitution 
of CINCPAC's airborne reserve after the deployment of the 173rd to Bien 
Hoa-Vung Tau, largely because the designation and type of brigade which 
was to go to that location had not been specified. That the 173rd would 
go, however, was common knowledge and, indeed, had been recommended by 
the PACOM-JCS planning conference on 10 April and abortively approved by 
the.JCS on the lUth. CINCPAC cabled the JCS on the 23rd to remind them 
that the 173rd should be replaced by a CONUS brigade as soon as possible .6k/ 

Discussion and refinement of the Honolulu proposals continued 
on after the Conference. On 30 April, a JCSM summarized the planning 
as the Chiefs saw it and presented a detailed program for the deployment 
to Vietnam of some 148,000 U.S. and 5,250 Third Country forces, all of 
which were listed as approved. Included were all the units mentioned 
in the Honolulu recommendation plus a healthy support package. These 
forces were, according to the JCS, to "bolster GW forces during their 
continued build-up, secure bases and installations, conduct counter in- 
surgency combat operations in coordination with the RVNAF, and prepare 
for the later introduction of an airmobile division to the central 
plateau, the remainder of the III MEF to the Da Nang area, and the 
remainder of a ROK division to Quang Hgai ." /Emphasis added/ Logistic 
forces of all services were "to strengthen support of in-country forces, 



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provide support for the new forces, prepare "bases and installations for 
possible future deployments, and "be prepared to support those additional 
forces." 85/ From the thrust of this JCSM it is apparent that the en- 
clave strategy was no stopping place as far as the Chiefs were concerned. 
They continued to push hard for the earliest possible input of three 
full divisions of troops. They were still well ahead of the pack in 
that regard.- 

None of the Honolulu recommendations had been approved at the 
time the 30 April JCSM was forwarded, although the 173rd was approved for 
Bien Hoa-Vung Tau and three Marine battalions for Chu Lai on the same 
day. 86/ Included in the logistics package listed by the JCS as 
"approved" were some U,700 troops later identified by Mr. McNaughton as 
belonging to the three division program and definitely not approved. 87/ 
Secretary McNamara replied to the JCSM on the 15th of May, after the 
landing of the 173rd on the 5th and the Marines at Chu Lai on the 7th. 
The Secretary said that he considered as approved only so much of the 
remainder of the Honolulu recommendations as applied to the Australian 
Battalion, the ROK Regimental Combat Team and some MACV augmentations . 
He went on to approve: (l) movement of the I MEF from California to 
WESTPAC to reconstitute CINCPAC's floating reserve, and (2) preparation 
for the deployment of an Army brigade to Qui Nhon-Hha Trang with final 
decision on 21 May and closure on 27 June. This latter move, when ap- 
proved, together with individual add-ons was to bring total permanent 
in-country strength to 69,1^3 (the 173rd having been deployed on a 
temporary basis) • Secretary McNamara deferred decision on all JCS pro- 
posals dealing with the three division plan, 88/ thereby giving the 
enclave strategy temporary respite. 

-•C-.— -Difficulties in Exoer mentation 

-. „ , , j_ • 

As of the landings of the Marines at Chu Lai and the Airborne 
at Bien Hoa-Vung Tau, the U.S. forces in Vietnam with some nine maneuver 
battalions had yet to conduct a major offensive operation, with or 
without the RVNAF. The experimentation with U.S. forces in an offensive 
role, a large factor in the decision to accept the enclave concept, was 
delayed because some knotty problems involving command and control re- 
mained to be ironed out with the Vietnamese. 

In the early days when the Marines arrived to secure bases and 
installations, the control measure devised for their employment was the 
Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) . Under the overall suzerainty of 
the Vietnamese Corps Commander, the Marines were given a well-defined 
geographical area in which the U.S. exercised command authority over 
military forces and for which the U.S. accepted defensive responsibility. 
The original Marine TAOR consisted literally of their half of the Da Nang 
airfield and a portion of a couple of hills on which the Marines were 
entrenched and which they covered by the fields of fire of their small 
arms. Assured by this conservative assignation was > minimum contact be- 
tween U»S. troops and the Vietnamese population. In fact, there were 
only some 1,930 people living within the original Marine TAOR. 89/ 






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From this humble beginning there followed a period of gradual expansion 
altogether compatible with the security mission until by the end of 
March the Da Nang TAOR was 12 square miles in size and incorporated 
some ll,lUl Vietnamese souls. 9 . 0/ 

Accompanying the NSAM 328 change of mission of U.S. forces to 
permit limited offensive operations was a dilemma. Mere expansion of 
the TAOR's would not suffice since U.S. forces did not have enough com- 
bat power to adequately secure an area the size of which they desired 
for offensive operations. Some arrangement was needed to allow U.S 
commanders to share tactical responsibility with the Vietnamese. 

Years of experience advising the Vietnamese armed forces was 
enough to convince knowledgeable U.S. officers that the U.S. did not 
want to relinquish command authority over its troops to the Vietnamese o 
Of equal import, it was felt, was the Vietnamese experience under the 
French and the resultant abhorrence of foreign command over their forces. 
As a further complication, the Viet Cong were ready to cry "imperialist 
puppet" at the first sign of GVN weakness . Washington was less sensitive 
to this problem than were the members of the Mission in Saigon. In May 
Secretary McNamara urged Westmoreland and Taylor to form a joint command 
structure with the GVN. Unfortunately , both of those gentlemen were 
well aware that the GVN was very cool to the idea. 91/ On the 23rd of 
April Taylor had visited with Prime Minister Quat for the first time 
since the Honolulu Conference. Although Quat was well aware of the 
Ambassador's intention to convey the text of the Honolulu recommendations, 
to Taylor's distress, he was reluctant to even discuss foreign reinforce- 
ments much less command arrangements. 92/ 

In an attempt to get things unstuck, General Westmoreland pro- 
duced a concept for the employment of U.S. /Allied ground combat forces 
in support of RVTTAF. With Ambassador Taylor's concurrence, he forwarded 
the concept through CINCPAC to Washington on 8 May. Westmoreland pro- 
posed that the "basic concept underlying command relations between 
U. So /Allied forces and RVNAF will be one of combat support through 
coordination and cooperation in the mutual self-interest of both commands." 
That this tenuous arrangement might break down in the face of imminent 
disaster was foreseen and included was an emergency escape clause whereby 
alternate arrangements could be made through mutual agreement of the 
tactical commanders on the ground. Westmoreland suggested that U.S. /Allied 
forces would pass through three distinct stages of commitment to the war. 
Stage I (to which were already committed 9 U.S. battalions) entailed the 
security of base areas with TAOR's extended out to the range of light 
artillery. Stage II called for deep patrolling and offensive operations, 
both predicated on movement outside the TAOR in coordination with RVNAF. 
Finally, progress would be made into Stage III with long range search and 
destroy and reserve reaction operations in concert, of course, with 
Vietnamese wishes and desires. 93/ 



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Along with the concept Westmoreland presented, without any time 
frame, a crude sketch showing the evolution of strategies for U.S. /Allied 
forces in the Vietnamese war. The war was to evolve through four phases. 
• During Phase I coastal enclaves were to "be secured and improved. In 
Phase II, operations would be conducted against the enemy from the above. 
In Phase III the forces would move inland to secure additional bases and 
areas, and finally in Phase IV would operate from the latter. At the 
time the concept was forwarded, the U.S. combat forces in Vietnam were 
in Phase I, Stage I. Progress to a more ambitious stage was stymied 
while negotiations went on with the GVN to refine the ground rules. In 
the meantime, the Ambassador observed that the troops would suffer from 
boredom and lose their edse Q 




The long official silence between the sanction for U.S. offensive 
operations contained in NSAM 328 and the final approval of the conditions 
under which U.S. troops could be committed was not without cost. The 
President had admonished each of the NSC members not to allow release of 
information concerning the provisions of the NS.AM, but the unduly long 
interregnum inevitably led to leaks. The Marines incurred some 200 
casualties, including 18 killed, as they went about tidying up their 
TAOR's in April and May. The Commandant of the Marine Corps raised the 
tempo of speculation by saying to the press during an inspection trip to 
Vietnam in April that the Marines were not in Vietnam to "sit on their 
dittyboxes" -- they were there to "kill Viet Cong." 95/ An honest and 
superficially innocuous statement hy Department of State Press Officer 
Robert McCloskey on 8 June to the effect that "American forces would be 
available for combat support together with Vietnamese forces when and if 
necessary" 96 / produced an immediate response. The press reaction to 
McCloskey' s candor is best summed up in this New York Times clip of 
9 June: 97/ 

"The American people were told by a minor State Department 
official yesterday that, in effect, they were in a land war on 
the continent of Asia. This is only one of the extraordinary 
aspects of the first formal announcement that a decision has 
been made to commit American ground forces to open combat in 
South Vietnam: The nation is informed about it not by the 
President, not by a Cabinet member , not even by a sub-Cabinet 
official, but by a public relations officer." 

The White House was hoisted by its own petard. In an attempt to quell the 
outcry, a statement was issued on the 9th of June which, because of its 
ambiguity, only served to further exacerbate the situation and to widen 
what was being described as "the credibility gap." The White House state- 
ment said in part: 93 / . * 
« 

"There has been no change in the mission of United States 
ground combat units in Vietnam in recent days or weeks. The 



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President has issued no order of any kind in this regard to 
General Westmoreland recently or at any other time. The pri- 
mary mission of these troops is to secure and safeguard im- 
portant military installations like the air base at Da Nang. 
They have the associated mission of .. .patrolling and securing 
actions in and near the areas thus safeguarded. 

If help is requested by the appropriate Vietnamese com- 
mander, General Westmoreland also has authority within the 
assigned mission to employ these troops in support of Viet- 
namese forces faced with aggressive attack when other effective 
reserves are not available and when, in his judgment, the 
general military situation urgently requires it." 

The documents do not reveal whether or not the ground rules for 
engagement of U.S. forces had actually been worked out to everyone's 
satisfaction at the time of the White House statement. There is good 
indication that they had note During at least two of the major battles 
in late May and early June, Ba Gia and Dong Xoai, the RVNAE were des- 
perately in need of assistance. Although U.S. troops were available in 
both instances, the Marines at Ba Gia and the 173rd at Dong Xoai, they 
were not committed and the result in both cases was defeat for the RVNAF. 

The first major ground combat operation by U.S. forces in the 
Vietnam War took place in War Zone D, W of Saigon, from 27 to 30 June 
1965. Participants were the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 1st Battalion 
of ^ the Royal Australian Regiment, two battalions from the ARW Airborne 
Brigade, and the ARVN U8th Regiment. The operation could by no stretch 
of definition have. been described as a reserve reaction. It was a search 
and destroy operation into Viet Cong base areas and its purpose was to 
deny to the enemy "freedom of act ion ...in these safe havens ." The War 
Zone D excursion was a direct result of the sanction given to General 
Westmoreland on the 26th of June to "commit U.S. troops to combat, inde- 
pendent of or in conjunction with GW forces in any situation in which 
the use of such troops is requested by an appropriate GVN commander and 
when, in COMUSMACV's judgment, their use is necessary to strengthen the 
relative position of GVN forces." 99/ 

At that juncture the kk Battalion debate was in full swing and 
the enclave strategy, as a means to limit the amount and use of U.S. 
combat force in Vietnam, was certainly overcome by events. It was not 
until the l8th of August that an operation fitting the paradigm des- 
cription of the Taylor enclave concept, Operation STARLIGHT, was con- 
ducted with dramatic success 15 miles south of the Chu Lai enclave. 100/ 
It established the viability of enclave operations limited to the 
northern coast of South Vietnam, a fact which no one disputed, but such 
operations were by that time only one facet of a much more ambitious 
strategy sanctioned by the President and in the process of being imple- 
mented by Westmoreland. 



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D. Where U.S. Stood on 1 June 1965 

The beginning of the decisive month of June 1965 saw the U e S. 
in the infant stages of its enclave strategy. Established in coastal 
enclaves were Marine forces in Phu Bai, Da Nang and Chu Lai and Army 
forces in Vung Tau. Enclaves at Qui Nhon and Nha Trang were in the 
planning as locations for an Army brigade, and Korean troops were 
being considered for the defense of the provincial capital of Quang 
Ngai near the coast and as possible relief for the Marines at Chu Lai„ 
The Secretary of Defense was also considering proposals from General 
Westmoreland and others to open up a major logistics base and enclave 
around the fine deep water harbor at Cam Ranh Bay. 101 / 

As of the 1st of June 1965, the U.S. had approved for perma- 
nent deployment to South Vietnam forces which, when all had closed, 
would bring total combat strength to approximately 70,000 and the 
number of maneuver battalions, Army and Marine, to 13. 102 / Included 
in this total were 7 Marine BLT T s already located at Phu Bai, Da Nang, 
and Chu Lai Q Also included were 3 battalions in a brigade of the Army T s 
1st Division to be landed at Qui Nhon and 3 battalions in a brigade of 
the Army's 101st Airborne Division scheduled to replace the 173rd. In 
the planning stages but not yet approved were a further 11 maneuver 
battalions, the remaining 2 from the III MAP ("MEF was changed to "MAP" 
because the word "Expeditionary" was offensive to the Vietnamese and 
was therefore changed to "Amphibious") and 9 battalions planned for the 
new Army Airmobile Division. 

Third Country forces considered approved at this time amounted 
to 7,250 men of which 1,250 were already in-country in the 1st Battalion, 
Royal Australian Regiment, 2,000 were Korean service troops also already 
in-country, and the rest were to be deployed sometime later in a R0K 
Regimental Combat Team of 3 battalions. Still in the talking stages 
were a further 6 battalions of R0K troops totaling 12,000 men. The grand 
total of approved U.S. /3rd Country forces was 17 maneuver battalions and 
approximately 77,250 men. If the additional forces then being discussed 
were thrown in, the total would have been 3^ maneuver battalions and 
about 13)4,750 men. This, then, was the state of the build-up when General 
Westmoreland asked on 7 June for reinforcements from the U.S. and Third 
Countries "as rapidly as possible." 103/ 






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H 



CO -^ 

O co 

si 

m —j 
O O 

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IV. The U.S. Moved to Take Over the Land War — The Search and Destroy 
Strategy and the kk Battalion Debate 

General Westmoreland 1 s message #19118, of 7 June 1965, already quoted 
in part in Section I of this paper, punctuated a very grim period of ARVN 
defeats in Vietnam and stirred up a veritable hornet f s nest in Washington. 
Up to that time, most of the Washington decision makers had been content 
to indulge in relatively low-key polemics about the enclave strategy and 
to advocate some experimentation with small numbers of U.S. troops in 
Vietnam. Westmoreland's request for reinforcements on a large scale, 
accompanied as it was by a strategy to put the troops on the offensive 
against the Viet Cong, did not contain any of the comfortable restrictions 
and safeguards which had been part of every strategy debated to date. 
Washington saw that it was Westmoreland's intention to aggressively take 
the war to the enemy with other than Vietnamese troops, and in such a 
move the spectre of U.S. involvement in a major Asian ground war was there 
for all to see. With no provision for quick withdrawal, and there was 
none, the long-term implications for the U.S. in terms of lives and money 
could not be averted. Temperatures rose rapidly after 7 June, and the 
debate was acrimonious and not without its casualties. 

Just as Ambassador Taylor was consistent in his resistance to pro- 
posed involvement of U.S. forces in the Vietnamese War, so also was 
General Westmoreland equally determined to get enough US/3rd Country 
force into Vietnam to influence the situation. In addition to the level 
of force, Westmoreland was also bent on having a free hand in the use of 
it. 

A. Westmoreland Provided the Push 

It has been suggested that COMUSMACV elected to interpret the 
landing of two Marine BLT's at Da Nang as the first step in a build-up 
of U.S. ccmbat forces in Vietnam. It seems, clear that General Westmore- 
land had reached the conclusion by early March that the KVNAF simply did 
not have the capability to overcome the Viet Cong by itself. Outside 
forces were going to be required to take up the slack until the GVM forces 
could be revamped and built up. It appears that General Westmoreland had 
a powerful ally in the person of General Johnson, the Army Chief of Staff, 
who was in Saigon from the 5th through the 12th of March 1965, and who 
returned to Washington to submit the first of many recommendations that 
the U.S. send significant numbers of combat troops to Vietnam. 10U/ 
Westmoreland was not far behind Johnson in submitting to Washington his 
own ideas on the subject. 

The "Commander's Estimate of the Situation" prepared by General • 
Westmoreland and his staff during the early weeks of March and completed 



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on the 26th was a classic Leavenworth- style analysis, detailed and 
thorough in its consideration of possible U.S. courses of action. 105/ 
Copies of the Estimate, which in bulk amounted to a full half inch of 
foolscap paper , were delivered to Washington by Brigadier General De Puy, 
Westmoreland's J-3 3 who was traveling with Ambassador Taylor to the NSC 
meetings of 1-2 April,, 106 / If the awesome bulk of the Estimate deterred 
• anyone from giving it the careful study it merited, that is most unfor- 
tunate. As Westmoreland himself said: 

c, "Recognizing recent marked changes in situation in SVN, 

we considered it appropriate to undertake a classical Comman- 
der's Estimate of the Situation to think through in a logical / - 
and precise manner strategy, objectives, enemy capabilities 
and our own possible courses of action before making what may 
prove to be in the light of history a momentous recommendation* 
In addition, by reducing the Estimate to writing we expose our 
thoughts to others, thus making possible careful review by 
higher authority and perhaps introduction of new considerations 
that were not apparent here." 107/ 












The Estimate is as good as the Commander's word. The basic con- 
siderations to be analyzed are all laid out for the reader to see. First, 
the Mission as General Westmoreland interpreted it: 

"Forces of the Government of Vietnam supported and assisted 
by forces of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, to- 
gether with additional supporting U.S. and Free World forces, ; 
take as rapidly as possible those necessary actions to: 

"A. Cause the DRV to- cease its political and military sup- 
port of the VC in SVN, and 

"B. Enable an ant i- communist GVN to survive so that ulti- 
mately it may defeat the VC insurgency inside SVN." 

Secondly, the Basic U Q S. Strategy : 

"The analysis is predicated upon the assumption that basic 
strategy of retaliatory and punitive air strikes against NVTT 
will, in time, bring about desired results, that is, supply . 
and support of the insurgency will be terminated by DRV and 
hopefully DRV/VC High Command will direct the cessation of 
offensive operations. In any event, without external support 
the forces of RWAF supported by U.S. would be able at first 
to contain and then to defeat VC. Therefore, Estimate addres- 
ses itself primarily to the interval in time between now and 
time at which basic strategy takes effect. If any time VC 



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unilaterally cease fire and effect a cessation of incidents, 
this would mark end of the interval and end of pressure on . 
GVN. Until pressure eases, stability of GVN is a prime con- 
cern and objective. Consequently, courses of action examined 
are measured as much in terms of their impact on stability and 
effectiveness as upon their purely military value, although, 
of course, these two matters are closely interwoven." 

As an adjunct to this, Westmoreland said: 

"If basic strategy of punitive bombing in RW (sic!) does 
not take effect by mid-year additional deployments of U.S. and 
3rd Country forces should be considered, including introduc- 
tion of full MEF into I Corps." 

■ 

Third, Main VC Capabilities: 

"A« Continue with present strategy and build-up and conduct 
large attacks whenever favorable. 

"Bo Above plus a major uprising to break the back of the GVH. 

"C. By infiltration, commit PAVN up to a division in the 
i/ll Corps. 

"D. Create peace movement through subversion of existing 
organizations; get neutral government established, dominate it, 
and sue the North for peace and reunification. 

"E. Unilaterally cease firing, causing the U.S. forces to 
leave and permitting the covert VC infrastructure to survive 
intact. 

■ 

Courses of action in the Estimate were analyzed in relation to the main 
enemy capabilities outlined above. Maximum weight was given to the first 
three, which were considered to be the most likely. In addition, the 
following considerations formed part of the analysis matrix: 

"A. Attainment of critical military objectives of 

(1) Security of bases and ports, 

(2) Denial of critical areas to the Viet Cong (areas such 

as the highlands of II Corps), 

» 

(3) Provision of a quick reaction reserve, and 
(h) Provision of a basis for a combined command. 



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"B. Preservation of the stability and effectiveness of 
the GVN and of. its armed forces . 

mm 

C. Improvement of force ratios as they changed with time. 

"D. Remaining within the restrictions imposed by logistical 
limitations. " 

In order to achieve its objectives , the U.S. was presented-, as Westmore- 
land saw it, essentially with three possible courses of action, there 
being several variations on one of the choices. The choices were: 

"1. Accelerate the build-up of RVNAF, commit the 7th Fleet 
to quarantine the coast against infiltration of men ar&arms, 
and continue U.S. logistical support as required. No outside 
combat power other than Naval and Air support would be provided 
the GVN under this option. 

"2. The above plus the commitment of up to two U.S. divi- 
sions with their support , either 

a. to secure vital U.S. installations and defeat 

VC efforts to control the Kontum, Pleiku, Binh Dinh region, or 

b. to secure critical enclaves in coastal regions , or 

r c. to do a combination of both of the above. 

3* Both 'of the major choices above plus a cordon across 
SVN and the Laotian panhandle manned by up to three U.S. di- 
visions coupled with ARVN, Thai and Laos forces." 

In his subsequent analysis and comparison of courses of action, 
General Westmoreland gave each thorough coverage in light of all the 
considerations already enumerated. Course of Action 1, RVNAF build-up 
without outside ground force reinforcement, was certainly logistically 
feasible, but it failed to promise improvement in any of the other areas . 
of consideration o Course of Action 3, the cordon plus the other courses, 
promised to attain all the military objectives, to provide a basis for 
improving GVN stability, and to improve force ratios in critical areas. 
Because of port and inland communications difficulties, however, the 
cordon force probably could not have been fully deployed before the end 
of Calendar Year- 1965, which would have been too late to take up the 
slack during the critical phase of the RVNAF build-up Also, if the 
basic strategy of punitive bombing had been successful, then the provi- 
sion of a force of 165,000 men -- 132,000 of them from the U e S. -- would 
have been out of proportion to the results expected. Should the bombing 
strategy fail or take effect only very slowly, then Westmoreland felt 
the cordon should be reconsidered. 



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The most propitious course of action to emerge from the analysis 
in the Estimate was the second one dealing "with the commitment of up to 
two U.S. divisions, including 17 maneuver battalions, with support. Over 
and above what was in or authorized to be in Vietnam, Course of Action 2 
called for an additional 33,000 men. 

In order to illustrate trends in force ratios, Westmoreland 
postulated that one ■ USMC BLT was the equivalent of three ARVN" battalions, 
and one U.S. Army battalion was the equivalent of two ARVN battalions. 
Using that rationale, the combat battalions added on through Course of 
Action 2 would have amounted to 38 ARVN battalion- equivalents. Input on 
that scale would have had a fair effect on force ratios overall and a very 
dramatic effect locally in the areas where they were to operate. 

• 

Without the benefit of the increased battalion-equivalents pro- ■ 
vided by Course of Action 2, the ratio of ARW (and the two Marine BLT's ■ 
then in Vietnam) battalions to Viet Cong battalions would have degraded, 
according to the Estimate, from 1.7 to 1 in March 1965 to 1.6 to 1 in 
December of that year. This would have been the case despite an acceler- 
ated RVNAF build-up and only a modest rate of Viet Cong build-up as in 
196^ . With the input of Course of Action 2, the equivalent of a 10 month 
acceleration in the RVNAF build-up could have been accomplished by mid- 
year and by the end of the build-up period the forces could have been 
doubled -- that is, assuming that the forces in Course of Action 2 were 
introduced during April, May, and June, a proposal which was barely 
feasible lo'gistically and which was urged by General Westmoreland. 

At the conclusion of his Estimate, General Westmoreland recom- 
mended that the U.S. build up its combat force in Vietnam to 17 battalions 
by early June at the latest. He rejected the enclave alternative because 
it was too negative, because it brought U.S. troops into too intimate 
contact with the population, and because it posed some almost insurmount- 
able problems in real estate acquisition. In the highlands the U.S. troops 
would have had no difficulty recognizing the enemy among the few montag- 
nards who lived there, therefore Westmoreland recommended that a full U e S. 
division be deployed along the Qui Nhor-Pleiku axis with a brigade each 
at An Khe, Pleiku, and Kontum. This deployment would have altered the 
force ratios in the critical II Corps from 1.9:1 to 2.9:1 in favor of the 
RVHAF immediately. The ports of Qui Nhon and Nha Trang, rather than 
serving as enclave bases, would, according to the recommendation, have 
been developed as logistic support bases for the forces in the highlands 
and would have been provided with a battalion each for security. The 
rest of the 17 battalions were to provide base and installation security 
in the Da Nang/Hue (k USMC BLT T s) and the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau (3 Army 
battalions) areas. 

This was the position' of COMUSMACV in March 1965. In concluding 
his Estimate, Westmoreland recognized the possibility that the GVN might 



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infer from either Course of Action 2 or Course of Action 3 that the U.S. 
was determined to fight on alone. That possibility was outweighed in his 
eyes, however , by the tactical benefits to be gained plus the guarantee 
of a "more orderly buildup" than could have been the case under Course 
of Action 1. 

In regard to the build-up of the RVNAF, MACV had in late 196^ 
two alternative proposals under discussion. Alternative 1 called for 
increases of 30,309 in the regular forces, plus 35,387 in the Regional 
Force and 10,815 in the Popular Force. Alternative 2 called for the 
same increases in RF/PF but for an accelerated figure for the regular 
forces of ^7,556. Taking into account the limited leadership resources * 
available to the GVN and the restricted training facilities, General 
Westmoreland in January 1965 recommended the more modest Alternative 1 
build-up for Military Assistance Program funding. The Secretary of 
Defense approved the recommended increases on 23 January, thereby bring- 
ing the MAP supported RVNAF to levels of 275,058 for the regulars, plus 
137,187 for RF and 185,000 for PF. 108 / 

In response to COMUSMACV's Estimate of the Situation of March 
1965 and a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs which followed it, the 
Secretary of Defense approved the accelerated Alternative 2 force level 
for the regulars and authorized MAP funding for an additional 17,2^7 
spaces in RVNAF on 12 April 1965. Also provided was an increase in the 
MACV JTD of 160 spaces for advisors to work with the enlarged RVNAF. 109/ 

In late May, the JCS asked the Secretary of Defense to authorize 
MAP support for another 2,369 spaces for ARVN. The purpose was to fatten 
out a division base for the eventual organization of a tenth ARVN division 
from existing separate regiments. 110 / The request was approved on the 
1+th of June. Ill / 

Any further plans to build up the RVNAF were torpedoed by the 
extremely heavy losses suffered in combat during late May and early June. 
On 7 June, General Westmoreland told CINCPAC and Washington that a 
moratorium on RVNAF build-up was unavoidable as any trainees in the pipe- 
line would have to be used as fillers in existing units. No new ARVN 
battalions would be coming on the scene until November of that year. 112/ 

General Westmoreland was not in attendance* at the NSC meetings 
of 1-2 April I965. Having gone on record in his Estimate in favor of 
the earliest possible input of up to two division equivalents of U.S. 
forces, he was understandably disappointed with the very modest increases 
sanctioned by the President. He communicated to CINCPAC his concern that, 
while he understood that divisions were not immediately in the offing, he 
nevertheless felt a pressing need for a division in the highlands. 113 / 
Throughout the early part of April prior to the Honolulu Conference, 



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Westmoreland also kept up the pressure to get an Army "brigade into 
Bien Hoa-Vung Tau<> The latter action happened to dovetail with the 
current Washington strategy options and hence was favorably considered 
at Honolulu whi]e, as has already been noted, proposals to deploy 
divisions were not. 

Only on one occasion through the spring of 19&5 &id General 
Westmoreland display any inclination to abandon his aggressive high- 
lands campaign in favor of the more conservative enclave strategy . On 
8 May he cabled to CINCPAC, with Ambassador Taylor's concurrence , his 
Concept of Operations by US/Allied Ground Combat Forces in Support of 
RVNAE. llV The Concept, as spelled out in that message, has already 
been discussed at length in an earlier section of this paper. ■ Not dis- ■ 
cussed were some proposed deployments of U.S. and Third Country forces • 
included by Westmoreland. Perhaps in deference to the Ambassador's 

; known preference, Westmoreland suggested that the U S. Airmobile Di- 

vision be deployed to Qui Nhon and Nha Trang. In light of his previous 
recommendations and subsequent ones to be discussed, it is difficult to 
conclude that Westmoreland really seriously entertained this recommen- 
dation or that it was anything other than an aberration. On the 15th 
of the same month, Westmoreland sent a message to the Department of 
the Army indicating that, as far as he was concerned, the concept for 
employment of the Airmobile Division was still to be determined. Since 
he preferred an Airmobile Division, he asked the Department of the Army 

h to send airmobile experts to Vietnam to assist him in the preparation 

of "a concept of operations for a division size force." 115/ 

In his message #19118 of 7 June, General Westmoreland asked for 
U.S. and Third Country reinforcements after he had explained that redress- 
ing deteriorating force ratios was beyond the capability of the RVNAF. 
He said, "the force ratios continue to change in favor of the VC. I 
believe that the DRV will commit whatever force it deems necessary to 
tip the balance and that the GVN cannot stand up successfully to this 
| kind of pressure without reinforcement." Westmoreland was convinced that 

j U.S. troops could "successfully take the fight to the VC," and he explained 

that the forces he was requesting were "to give us a substantial and hard- 
hitting offensive capability on the ground to convince the VC that they 
: • cannot win ," _/Emphasis added/ 



At the time Westmoreland submitted his recommendations in his 
19118, which has erroneously been dubbed "the kk Battalion request," 
there were, in addition to one Australian battalion, 7 U.S. Marine, and 
2 U.S G Army battalions in Vietnam. In his message, Westmoreland said 
this: 

"In 'sub -paragraph f A f below, deployments and actions are 
recommended on which decisions should be made now. ' In sub- 
paragraph T B T we have identified further actions on which 
planning should start and on which separate recommendations 
will be forthcomingo 



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"(3) One additional MAB to reinforce the III MAE. 

n \h) Tactical air units for support of increased 
U.S. force (additional airfields in .SVN and Thailand may be 
required) . 

"(5) Required combat and logistic support forces to 
include helicopter units to support the foregoing. 



Message has been discussed with Ambassadois Taylor and Johnson. 
Ambassador Taylor is prepared to comment thereon during current 
visit to Washington." 

In his subparagraph 'A 1 General Westmoreland did no more than 
request expeditious approval of forces which had been in the planning 
stages for some time. If his request had been approved as written, the 
grand total of maneuver battalions so provided would have been 33- This 
is one less than the total indicated in Section II of this paper as 
• approved and planned because the Airmobile Division, when it was finally 
organized, had 8 rather than 9 airmobile battalions. If the 173d Airborne, 
which was only to be retained until the Airmobile Division was ready to 
begin operations, were counted, then the total of maneuver battalions 
requested by Westmoreland on 7 June was 35. In subparagraph r B ! he iden- 
tified a further 9 battalions which might be needed and requested at some 
later date. 



B. 



CINCPAC Appear ed to Back Into Enclaves 



The CINCPAC, Admiral Sharp, was by and large a consistent sup- 
porter of General Westmoreland in the latter f s drive to get more forces 
into South Vietnam. With regard to the momentous recommendation of 
7^ June, CINCPAC concurred in General Westmoreland's evaluation of the 
situation and agreed also that Allied troops were needed to enable the 
friendly side to take the offensive. He said: "We will lose by staying 
• in enclaves defending coastal bases." Having said that, Admiral Sharp 
then went on to disagree with Westmoreland as to the proper place for the 
Airmobile Division. Rather than have it deployed inland on the Qui Nhon- 
Pleiku axis as planned by Westmoreland, CINCPAC would have had it based 
on Qui Nhon with the primary mission of clearing Binh Dinh Province before 
moving inland. Sharp was very concerned that logistic backup for the 
Airmobile Division be assured before it be sent into the highlands. 
Securing one division's LOC with another division (Westmoreland intended 
to send the ROKVs to Qui Nhon) was counterproductive, and Sharp felt that 
600 to 800 tons of aerial resupply per day, should highway 19 be closed, 
W9uld overtax the already limited airfield facilities in the highland 
areas where the Airmobile Division was to go. 116 / 

Sharp T s initial objections to Westmoreland 1 s deployment plans 
smacked of conservatism and may well have played into the hands of those 



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who continued to advocate the enclave strategy. The Ambassador was in 
Washington on 9 June, and one of the questions put to him by the. Joint 
Chiefs was whether or not the Airmobile Division should go into the 
highlands. Taylor convinced them that it should not. 117/ Perhaps 
without Sharp's backing for the coastal deployment, the Joint Chiefs 
might not have been convinced. 

It seems clear, however, that Admiral Sharp was not really an 
exponent of the enclave strategy. His insistence that the Airmobile 
Division stick to Binh Dinh was prompted by his conviction that the 
U.S. forces should operate in close proximity to the objective of the 
Viet war — the people. He was consistent in this approach when he 
pushed for deployment of the ROK RCT to Quang Ngai, where it was 
originally supposed to go and where there were plenty of people to be • 
pacified, instead of to sparsely populated Cam Ranh for unremunerative 
security duty. He also recommended that the remaining ROK division (-), 
which would have been superfluous at Qui Nhon, be sent instead to Nha 
Trang or perhaps even into the Mekong Delta. 118/ 



" 



C. The JCS Yielded the Torch 

The JCS put the first major recommendation for ground troop 
commitment on the docket, as it were, on 20 March, shortly after Chief 
of Staff of the Army Johnson returned from Saigon • 119 / Because the 
Viet Cong were stronger and because the leaders of the RV1IAF were 
overly involved in political matters, there had been, according to the 
JCS, for the first time a downward turn in what had been a relatively 
stable military situation. Unless the trend could be reversed, the 
Chiefs said, the war would be lost and it would be seen as a U.S. defeat 
That would be intolerable; hence, the Chiefs recommended that U.S. and 
Allied forces be introduced with a new mission to stem the tide and 
assume the offensive. The Chiefs were manifestly not interested in any 
kind of holding action. As they said, "the requirement is not simply 
to withstand the Viet Cong, however, but to gain effective operational 
superiority and assume the offensive. To turn the tide of the war 
requires an objective of destroying the Viet Cong, not merely to keep 
pace with them, or slow down their rate of advance." 120 / The level 
of force which they recommended to carry out this aggressive mission 
and which they saw as an essential component of the broader program to 
put pressure on the DRV/VC and to deter Chinese Communist aggression, 
was three divisions, one ROK and two U.S. 



In summary, the JCS recommended that one U.S. Marine division 
conduct, on order, offensive operations to kill Viet Cong with or with- 
j . out centralized GVW/US command structure. The Marines should operate 

out of their existing TAOR 9 -and expand it as the force grew in size. 
The U.S. Army division should go to Pleiku, where it should operate with 



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the RF/PF and CIDG troops there under U.S. command. The ARVN battalions 
thus released and shielded by a U.S. buffer along the Laotian border 
should then move to the populous coastal provinces. No location -was 
specified for the ROK division, but the Chiefs recommended that its mis- 
sion be similar to that of the U.S. divisions. They felt the Koreans 1 
presence would have good "psychological effect." 

This "three-division plan," as it was dubbed, was discussed with 
the Secretary of Defense and Ambassador Taylor on the 29th of March and 
was undoubtedly the topic of some discussion during the subsequent NSC 
meetings. 121 / In any case, even though the recommended deployments 
were not sanctioned in NSAM 328, the JCS continued to plan for ultimate 
implementation o 122/ ~" 

In earlier sections of this paper the possibility that the JCS 
may have gotten ahead of some of the other decision-makers in the UoS. 
Government was discussed. Thus, in early April they were forced to back 
down on the deployment they had ordered of the 173rd Airborne to Bien 
Hoa-Vung Tau, 123/ and in JCSM 321-65, 30 April 1965, the y erroneously 
described as "approved" a package of some U,700 logistical troops which 
were part of the three-division plan and still in the talking stage • 12U/ 
The mission of forces listed in JCSM 321-65 as Approved" by the JCS was 
to be as follows: 

"These forces are to bolster GVN forces during their con- 
tinued build-up, secure bases and installations, conduct 
counterinsurgency combat operations in coordination with the 
RWAF, and prepare for the later introduction of an airmobile 
division to the central plateau, the remainder of III MEF to 
the Da Nang area, and the remainder of a ROK division to 
Quang Ngai." 

"Logistic forces of all services will strengthen support 
of in-country forces, provide support for the new forces, 
prepare bases and installations for possible future develop- 
ments, and be prepared to support those additional forces. 

The tone of JCSM 321-65 was consistent with the JCS 1 advocacy 
of a full three divisions of troops for Vietnam plus an aggressive 
mission for those troops. It was not in keeping, however, with the 
cautious language of the "Victory Strategy" sanctioned at the Honolulu 
Conference of 20 April. That strategy was the basis for the enclavists 
and it promised success through denial of victory to the Viet Cong. 
The enemy was to be denied victory because he would be unable to seize 
ascertain number of decisive areas held by U.S. and Third Country 
forces, despite any successes he might enjoy throughout the rest of the 
country. Realizing his own impotence, the enemy would be moved to seek 
a negotiated settlement to the conflict. The level, of commitment 



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recommended to the President after the Honolulu Conference and in keep- 
ing with the . "Victory Strategy" as described above "was considerably 
less than three divisions as. has been pointed out in earlier sections 
of this paper. The JCS should have been addressing the "Victory 
Strategy" in their 30 April memorandum, but preferred instead to con- 
tinue the push for three divisions. 125/ 

COMUSMACV's request of 7 June altered drastically the role of 
the JCS in the build-up debate. Up to that time the JCS had, if any- 
thing, been ahead of General Westmoreland in advocating Allied forces 
for Vietnam. The 27 battalions of their three-division plan were in 
themselves more than Westmoreland ever requested until 7 June. After 
that date, the big push came from Westmoreland in Saigon, and the JCS 
were caught in the middle between the latter and -the powerful and stri- 
dent opposition his latest request for forces had surfaced in Washington. 
The JCS memoranda of June and July 1965 were numerous and reflected, 
apparently without guiding, the kk Battalion debate's progress. They 
showed the Airmobile Division in and out of Qui Khon as the debate on 
the strategy for its employment ebbed and flowed. The 173rd Airborne 
Brigade and the brigade from the 101st Airborne Division were first 
counted and then dropped and then counted again as the total permanent 
force to be deployed to Vietnam approached kk maneuver battalions as a 
limit. On the 9th of June, the JCS favored the deployment of the 
Airmobile Division to the highlands. 126 / On the 11th they favored its 
going to Qui Nhon after discussing the matter with the Ambassador. 127 / 
On the 11th, the total recommended force was 33 battalions, 23 U.S. with 
the 173rd coming out, and 10 Third Country. 128 / On the l8th of June, 
the total had dropped to 22 and 10 as the 173rd was scheduled to stay 
but the brigade from the 101st was to leave. 129 / Final sanction for 
both airborne units to remain in Vietnam was not secured until August . 130 / 

• 

D. Search and Destroy as a Strategy and kk Battalions as a Force 

It was not at all clear that with the advent of the hk battalion 
debate the vestiges of the enclave strategy and the conservatism which 
had characterized it had expired. On the contrary, enclave thinking was 
still very much alive. On the 11th of June, the JCS cabled CINCPAC and 
informed him that somewhat less than Westmoreland ! s 19118 was very close 
to being approved for deployment. The force described amounted to two 
Marine BLT's and three Army brigades, two of which had already been 
approved o The JCS wanted to know where Westmoreland intended to put 
this force in Vietnam. 13 1 / The implicit intention to keep a string on 
every unit going into Vietnam was obvious to C-eneral Westmoreland. In 
reply to this query and in response to the rising volume of criticism' 
directed at his estimate of the seriousness of the situation and his 
proposed utilization of combat forces, Westmoreland sent the following 
cable to CINCPAC: 132/ 



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"A. Actions recommended: 

"(1) Deploy at once to I CTZ the remaining two BLT's 
of the 3d Marine Division and appropriate supporting division 
and air elements (approximately 8,000 personnel). Reconstitute 
the SLF as a floating reserve. 

"(2) Deploy balance of increment 1 and all of incre- 
ment 2 (as defined in Reference C ^Ref C was an earlier MACV 
message of 26 May 1965/ of Army logistic and other support 
units in accordance with schedule set out in Reference D. 
j/Ref D was a U.S. Army Support Command Vietnam message of 
31 May/ (Approximately 8,000 personnel) - 

' "(3) Deploy the U.S. Army Air Mobile Division (and 
logistic increment 3) through Qui Nhon to An Khe, Pleiku and 
Kontum (approximately 21,000 personnel). Qui Nhon will be 
ready to receive the division approximately 1 August upon the 
closure of increment 2 forces. 

*(k) Concurrently with the Air Mobile Division, deploy 
I Corps Headquarters (approximately 1,500 personnel). 

"(5) Deploy the R0K Marine RCT to Cam Ranh Bay as soon 
after 1 July as the unit can be readied for movement (approxi- 
mately ^-,000 personnel). Deploy balance of the R0K division 
force (approximately 1^,500 personnel) plus U„S. logistic incre- 
ment k (1,500 personnel), starting 15 September to the general 
area of Qui Nhon. (This answers Ref E ^CINCPAC message of 
5 June/ in part - separate message on pages 96 through 103- ) 

"(6) Deploy additional tactical fighter squadrons to 
Cam Ranh Bay when expeditionary landing field complete at that 
location. Also provide naval aircraft carrier support of in- 
country operations as required; we believe the latter will 
engage one carrier full time. 

"(7) Hold the 173d Airborne Brigade in- country until 
the Air Mobile Division has deployed and is ready for operations. 

"(8) Continue air attacks against the DRV. (Reference F 
JMACV message of 20 May/ applies) 

f 

"Bo Additional deployment that may be required and on which 
planning should begin: ^Emphasis added/ 

"(l) Three U.S. Army Hawk battalions to TSTI Bien Hoa, 
Qui Nhon and Cam Ranh in that priority. 

"(2) The remainder of thc f 1st Infantry Division or the 
101st. Airborne Division beginning 1 October « 

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3, FORCE REQUIREMENTS* KACV HAS ASKED FOR ADDED FORCES IN 
RET A- THESE CONSIST 07 Tl-JO BATTALIONS TO R0UND0UT THE 3d MARINE 




A MAM 



GU CINCPAC ANALYSIS 0? THE SITUATION AND CONCEPT 0? 

n—j ■""•"". * *~ > T /■*! \ 7 C* T C ~~i — i * - \ TV* ~\ t TT —* •> o T ' O •""> — ►"" > ! — «*S > T •*• T ? — • T*> O """. ! f T ft" *T*T OX? ■» 1«'T,\ ~* "O 

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UPON THE PEOPLE* THERE IS NO 00U3T UHATSOEVER THAT THE INSURGENCY 
IN SOUTH VIETNAM NU5T EVENTUALLY SE REPEATED AMONG THE PEOPLE IN 
THE HAMLETS AND TOWNS « HOWEVER* IN ORDER TO DEFEAT THE INSURGENCY 

_ 51 PPOVIRED SENPITY OP TWO KINDS: 

CD SECURITY OP THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE FROM LARGE 
NELL ORGANIZED AND EQUIPPED FORCES INCLUDING THOSE WHICH MAY COME 
FROM OUTSIDE THEIR COUNTRY* 

(2) SF.CURTTV TPfM ~-T ,-rr-TDO r? t l , Tt?7 ft CCS CCT M , "'-'" 
TTPPQP" c? avj> «^7 fMCQOMVp. 

V IS CONVINCED 



a ! • .; 1 . \ U I ft* . ~ 1 J • ■"• •; r» h V . • , , . v 









HEAVILY IN THE FIRST CATEGORY 



u :> :ituurb. Caw u u in i K i yd u i «, 



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' '~i T ~~' V * C T \1 TD ''■ DA PDA OH LL -- C ^ 

Urii 1 i n b i ;\ r A rift b KA rn ** ^ * ' 




Inn lit— ix ^u 



THE PROVINCE OP 31 NH DINH WITH ITS NEARLY ONE MILLION PEOPLE IN 
ORDER TO DZ7ZHJ THE RELATIVELY LESS IMPORTANT PROVINCE CAPITALS 

a- KONT'on Al\D rLiiAu iriiREFOREj iHE MACV COMCRPi iS tjASiCALLY 

7P, ttvdt r.v ire ttq^.CES TOC^T 11 ' 7 ^ ; : T?- V T S^ : '-' - ME S T ^Tt>pnDMTT ^njt) i^-m; 

JrORCLS I si RiACiiOsi AND SiARGri -..'■;.• DiSirCwY Uri.RAii.ONbj AND ihUS 

PERMIT THE CONCENTRATION OF VENTNAMESE TROOPS IN THE HEAVILY 
POPULATED AREAS ALONG THE COAST? AROUND SAIGON AND IN ZliZ DELTA* 



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- •-.- 2sj;il :AC*iiCAl4 rLEAiOiLi i Y SO irfA j-GRCiS i'i.-.Y o^ SHI>TlD IN 
. ACCORDANCE WITH THE STRENGTH AND MOVEMENT OF THE VC« CONTINUOUS 
ADKUSTMiKTS ANT REDISTRIBUTIONS UNDOUBTEDLY KILL 31 NECESSARY- 
-IT. IS LIKELY THAT THE WAR HILL CONTINUE TO BECOME MORE FLUID AND 

. K©2 MOBILE* we relieve that the major rases at da nang. CHU LAI? 






llE MKO.M, CA« RANK AND SAIGON - BIEN HCA PEOvID 



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O'lrx or. Mr 



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u. i uici UiN Uiiiun nuj_: rORCiiS C&N z;~ bu^^URi-J A«i 
i iii I u .-. ft ;■„-. ;-: i U V i 3 » 

D* IT IS NOT OUR CONCERT THAT THE US WOULD TAKE 
EXCLLSivE CONTROL OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY ENTIRE PROVINCE 
ALTHOUGH j IN PRACTICE * ONLY TOKEN GVN EGRCES NICHE REMAIN. THUS 
GENERALLY? IZ LUST NATCH OUR FORCES KITH THE TERRITORIAL "ORGANIZA- 
TION 07 TnE GVN. UE MUST STRENGTHEN AND SUPPORT THE RVNAE 
STRUCTURE TO KEEP IT ALIVE AND OPERATIVE* UE SHOULD GENERALLY 
CONCENTRATE US ECRCES AUAY FROM MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS AND 
vJHLNEvER POSSIBLE DO THE BULK OF OUR FIGHTING IN MORE REMOTE AREAS 
5. DEPLOYMENTS » 

A» MACV RECOGNI-US "FAT TH r T ^~ ^GUNTPV i0r-" r 0N O 7 
GROUND COMBAT FORCES HAS A BEARING UPON THE SIZE* NATURE AND 
-LOCATION OF LOGISTIC SUP-CRT FORCES- PORTS* AIRFIELDS AND RELATED 
L F : A £ i y TIESi ? 9 R THISREASOS* MACV HAS INDICATED FROM TIME 

\^-.-"~ iiMiiirlL LO^AiiON Oi: irli. COrlUAi r OrtCES rOS fe.hlCn 

RZQ.UIREMENTS HAVI DEVELOPED « 40l T "\/ r R * \S ~' JT SFE^BE^ 0^ CC^3-^ 



- 



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ye. J ES- REQUESTED AND REQUIRED INCREASES AND Yh£ NHfiStK U:« UOMdlNA' 
EICNS AND PERMUTATIONS REG4RDTMG JOG^TTOM CORRES^OMD^NG] T '"C^^-S^ ^ 



T > 



L0A.Gr : ^OT-VT 1 ; ur:r rU^oYAftfT n't * r z-ir fn^^IiS^l ftVTj 



RAPIDLY ? 

NO USEE EL "PURPOSE KILL 3E SERVED. 

3. THE VC ARE NOU MANEUVERING LARGE FORCES LP T? 
E REGIMENTS' EG.UIPPED KITH HEAVY- WEAPONS. THUS; UE ARE 

U A R F ORE F CO 
STAGES OF THEIR EFFORTS HERE- IT* IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THA 
DRV CAN AND WILL DEPLOY THREE OR MORE DIVIDICNS INTO SOUTH 
2\ INFILTRATION* IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY THnT ONE IS ALREADY HERE* 

UiuL 32- NiLCiSSARi lO Rr.HCi iO irft INiRODUCiIOw 



SiLlr-S OR' 
rii ri\UiiUrlii\v3 ini KING Cj 



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












TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



This message was extremely important, for in it COMUSMACV 
spelled out the concept of keeping U.S. forces away from the people. 
The search and destroy strategy for U.S. and Third Country forces 
which continues bo this day and the primary focus of RVNAF on paci- 
fication both stem from that concept. In addition, Westmoreland made 
a big pitch in this cable for a free hand to maneuver the troops 
around inside the country. That is the prerogative of a major field 
commander -- there is good indication that at this stage Westmoreland 
saw himself in that light rather than as advisor and assister to the 
Vietnamese armed forces. 

Ambassador Taylor returned to Vietnam from Washington shortly 
after the battle at Dong Xoai, just as the new Thieu-Ky government was 
being installed. His first report confirmed the seriousness of the 
military situation as reported by General Westmoreland and also pointed 
up the very tenuous hold the new government had on the country. 133 / 
This report apparently helped to remove the last obstacles to consider- 
ation of all of the forces mentioned in Westmoreland 1 s request of 7 June. 
On 22 June, the Chairman of the JCS cabled Westmoreland and CINCPAC to 
inform them that the ante had gone up from 35 to kk battalions, count- 
ing all forces planned and programmed and including the 173rd. West- 
moreland was asked if hk battalions would be enough to convince the 
VC/DRV that they could not win. 13V General Westmoreland replied 
that there was no evidence the VC/DRV would alter their plans regardless 
of what the UoS. did in the next six months. The hk battalion force 
should, however, establish a favorable balance of power by the end of 
j the year If the U.S was to seize the initiative from the enemy, then 

further forces would be required into 1966 and beyond. 135/ 



On the 26th of June, as has already been noted, General West- 
moreland was given the authority to commit U.S. forces to battle in 
support of RVNAF "in any situation. . . when, in COMUSMACV r s judgment, 
their use is necessary to strengthen the relative position of GVN 
forces." 136 / This was about as close to a free hand in managing the 
forces as General Westmoreland was likely to get. The enclave strategy 
was finished, and the debate from then on centered on how much force 
and to what end. There were some attempts to snatch the chestnuts from 
the fire, however. 



Westmoreland's opposition, while far from presenting a united 
front, had its day in court during late June and early July 1965* The 
Embassy in Saigon, while recognizing the seriousness of the situation 
in South Vietnam, was less than sanguine about the prospects for success 
if large numbers of foreign troops were brought in. Deputy Ambassador 
U. Alexis Johnson told Assistant Secretary of Defense McNaughton on 
25 June that the U.S. should not bring in more troops. The situation, 
according to Johnson, was in many ways no more serious than the previous 



10k TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



year. Even if it -were more serious, he "went on, massive input of U.S., 
troops was unlikely to make much difference. The best they could do 
would "be to hold a few enclaves. Johnson pointed out that the 
Vietnamese were rfraid they would lose authority if more U.S. troops 
were "brought in. He advised that the U.S. allow the forces already 
in the country to settle. After some experimentation with them, the 
way would be much clearer. Once in, troops could not, without diffi- 
culty, be- taken out again. 137 / 

The views expressed by Johnson to McNaughton parallel those of . 
Ambassador Taylor throughout the build-up debate. Both men were very 
much concerned with the effect of the proposed build-up on the Viet- 
namese. They were not directly opposed to the use of U.S. forces to 
help the GW; they merely wanted to go very slowly to insure against 
loss of control o 

At the opposite end of the spectrum from General Westmoreland 
was Under Secretary of State George Ball. Convinced that the UoS. was 
pouring its resources down the drain in the wrong place, Ball placed 
himself in direct opposition to the build-up. In a draft memorandum 
he circulated on the 28th of June, Ball stated that Westmoreland's 
intention was to go to Phase III combat (Phase III of the 8 May Concept 
of Operations which called for US/Allied forays inland to secure bases 
and areas for further operations). In Ball's view there was absolutely 
no assurance that the U.S. could with the provision of more ground forces 
achieve its political objectives in Vietnam. Instead, the U.S. risked 
involving itself in a costly and indeterminate struggle. To further 
complicate matters,- it would be equally impossible to achieve political 
objectives by expanding the bombing of the North -- the risks of involv- 
ing. the USSR and the CPR were too great, besides which such action would 
alienate friends No combination of the two actions offered any better' 
prospect for success. Since the costs to achieve its objectives if the 
U.S. embarked on an expanding program were indeterminate, the U.S. 
should, in Ball T s view, not elect to follow such a course of action. 
It should instead "cut its losses" by restricting itself to the pro- 
grammed 15 battalions and 72,000 men made public at a press conference 
in mid-June by the Secretary of Defense. 138 / By holding those forces 
to a very conservative Phase II strategy of base defense and reserve in 
support of RVNAF, U.S. combat losses could be held to a minimum while 
the stage was being set for withdrawal. 139 / 

Ball was cold-blooded in his analysis. He recognized that the 
U.S. would not bo able to avoid losing face before its Asian allies if 
it staged some form of conference leading to withdrawal of U.S. forces. 
The loss would only be of short term duration, however, and the U.S. could 
emerge from this period of travail as a "wiser and more mature nation." 
On 1 July, Ball sent to the President a memorandum entitled "A Compromise 
Solution for South Vietnam." In that memorandum, Ball presented his case 
for cutting losses essentially as it is described above. lUo / 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy, like so many others , 
found himself in between Westmoreland and Ballo The U.S. needed to avoid 
. the ultimatum aspects of. the .kh battalions and also the Ball withdrawal 
proposal, both of which were undesirable in Bundy' s estimation. On 
1 July, Bundy suggested to the President that the U.S. should adopt a 
policy which would allow it to hold on without risking disasters of scale 
if the war were lost despite deployment of the full hk battalions. For 
the moment, according to Bundy, the U.S. should complete planned deploy- 
ments to bring in-country forces to 18 maneuver battalions and 85,000 
men. The Airmobile Division and the remainder of the 1st Division should 
be brought to a high state of readiness, but the decision as to their 
deployment should be deferred. By so acting the U.S. would gain time in . 
which to work diplomatically to realign Southeast Asia and thereby salvage 
its honor and credibility. The forces in Vietnam, which Bundy assumed 
would be enough to prevent collapse, would be restricted to reserve 
reaction in support of RVNAF. This would allow for some experimentation 
without taking over the war effort --a familiar theme. Bundy felt, as . 
did Ambassador Taylor, that there remained considerable uncertainty as 
to how well U.S. troops would .perform in the Vietnam environment. We 
needed to find out before going big. lUl / 

E . The Influence of the President and This Secretary of Defense 

• It is difficult to be precise about the position of the Secretary 
of Defense during the build-up debate because there is so little of him 
in the files. In March, Ambassador Taylor sent to Saigon the following 
description of the Secretary 1 s views regarding the JCS T s three-division 
plan: 1^2/ 

"a. The JCS has recommended to the Secretary of Defense 
the early deployment of a three division force with appropriate 
combat and logistic support. This force would include the en- 
tire MEF and I Corps area. An Army Division in the high plateau, 
and a Korean Division, location unspecified. The Chairman, JCS 
emphasized the urgent necessity to deploy a logistical command 
and the forward deployment of tactical fighter squadrons as well 
as the earliest possible construction of the airfield at Chu Lai 
and a runway at Da Nang. 

,T b. Ambassador Taylor indicated that 3 divisions seemed 
high; that Quat was not persuaded that more troops were neces- 
sary; that ant i -American sentiment lies just below the surface 
and that finally there are two very real limitations on the 
number and rate of introduction of U.S. and Third Country 
, forces. First is the absorptive capacity of the country and 
second logistical limitations. 

n Co The Chairman, JCS outlined the importance of estab- 
lishing a goal against which logistics planning could proceed. 






106 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



s 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



"d. The Secretary of Defense indicated that further U.S. 
deployments must be accompanied by deployment of Koreans for 
reasons of domestic reaction. 

* 

e. After an exchange of views on the missions and 
operating methods of U.S. forces the Secretary of Defense 
stated that he was impressed with the adverse force ratios 
' and favored deployment of U.S. forces conditioned by: 

11 (l) political (psychological) absorption capacity 

"(2) logistical absorption capacity 

\3) operational absorption -- (that is operational 
re qui r ement s ) . " 

In his official reply to the JCS memorandum containing the three-division 
plan, the Secretary said this: IU3/ 

"I have considered the views of the JCS presented in 
referenced memorandum. As you are aware the substance of 
their recommendations was considered in the high-level 
discussions which took place in connection with the recent 
. visit of Ambassador Taylor. I be 31 eve that the decisions 
made at that time reflect the views of the JCS to the extent 
required at this time." 

It has already been pointed out that (after the NSC meetings of 1-2 April 
1965) Mr. McBamara was interested in the JCS continuance of planning for 
the- earliest possible introduction of the three divisions, ikh / In reply 
to the JCSM of 30 April in which the Chiefs summed up the results of the 
Honolulu Conference and subsequent discussions and in which they made 
another pitch for the three-division plan, the Secretary said, in regard 
to the latter: 1^5/ 

" "The other deployments described will be considered in 
conjunction with continuing high-level deliberations on the 
Southeast Asia situation and as further requested by the JCS." 

In the files are several other -bits of information which, while perhaps 
not always directly attributable to the Secretary's personal philosophy, 
nevertheless are an indication of how he interpreted his guidance from 
the President. On 1 March he sent this memorandum to all departments: lJ+6/ 

"I want it clearly understood that there is an unlimited 
appropriation available for the financing of aid to Vietnam. 
Under no circumstances is lack of money to stand in the- way 
of aid to that nation." 



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In response to a query by General Johnson., Army Chief of Staff, as to 
how much the U.S. must contribute directly to the security of South 
Vietnam, the Secretary said: . lVf / 

"Policy is: anything that will strengthen the position 
of the GVN will be sent." 

On 2 April, the JCS sent the Secretary a bold memorandum in which 
they recommended clearing the decks of all "administrative and procedural 
impediments that hamper us in the prosecution of this war." They went 
on to list a whole panoply of problems which they felt were causing 
unnecessary headaches in providing support to General Westmoreland. lU8/ 
The JCSM was a direct slap at some of the Secretary 1 s management tech- 
niques and an appeal that the military staff be allowed to run the show. . 
McHamara was silent for a long time. He replied to the memorandum on 
lJ+ May and addressed each of the JCS recce - ndations in turn. The gist 
of his reply was that he was not yet ready to yield the reins to the 
military. He said: 1^-9/ 

"I am sure it is recognized that many of these recom- 
mendations have received, or are now receiving, separate 
action review in appropriate channels. Also, it appears 
clear that many of the actions recommended should be im- 
plemented only if execution of a major CINCPAC OPLAH were 
ordered. " 

There are plenty of other indications in the files that the Secretary was 
very carefully and personally insuring that the Defense Establishment was 
ready to provide efficient and sufficient support to the fighting elements 
in Vietnam From the records, the Secretary comes out much more clearly 
for good management than he does for any particular strategy. 

During the more heated debate following Westmoreland's request 
of 7 June, there is hardly a trace in the files of the Secretary T s opinion, 
In a letter to Representative Mahon of the House Appropriations Committee 
on 9 June, McNamara indicated that the reserve stocks provided for combat 
consumption in the Fiscal Year 1966 Budget might have to be replenished 
as the situation in South Vietnam developed. He was not sure, however, 
and in any case could afford to wait and see. Perhaps there would be a 
request for a supplementary appropriation when the Congress reconvened 
^ ie "following January . 150/ (The President asked for a 1.7 billion 
supplementary appropriation in August of 1965 for military operations in 
Vietnam.) 

Secretary McITamara went out to Vietnam for a firsthand look from 
l6 to 20 July, He wanted to hear Westmoreland's concept for the employ- 
ment of the kk battalions, and he sought the answers to a number of other 
questions including what forces Westmoreland thought would be reouired 



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through January 1966 and beyondo 151/ When McNamara left Washington, 
the hk battalion debate remained unresolved.. While he was in Saigon, 
he received a cable from Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance informing 
him- that the President had decided to go ahead "with the plan to deploy 
all 3^ of the U.S. battalions. 152/ The debate was over. McNamara 
left Saigon bearing Westmoreland recommendations for an even greater 
increase in forces which will be the subject of a later paper. 153/ 
"In many respects/' McNamara told the press on leaving Vietnam, it 
/the situation/ has deteriorated since 15 months ago when I was last 
here." 15k/ 

There is no question that the key figure in the early 1965 
build-up was the President of the United States. -In NSAM 328, he only 
approved the modest input of two Marine battalions even though he was 
presented with a JCS recommendation that three full divisions be sent. 
The whole tone of the NSAM is one of caution. The President was deter- 
mined that any changes authorised in that NSAM be understood as "being 
gradual and wholly consistent with existing policy ." 155/ He was 
terribly concerned with control over release of information to the 
press ? and a premature leak from Saigon of some of the details of the 
1-2 April NSC meetings brought a sharp response from him. 156/ The 
subdued tones of NSAM 328 notwithstanding, the President apparently 
lent his sanction to the broader proposals contained in the joint 
State/Defense 7-point ca,ble of 15 April , and in so doing he upset the 
Ambassador.' 157/ 

Most of the recommendations which came out of the Honolulu 
Conference received early attention by President Johnson, but during 
May things tended to slow down as his focus was diverted, no doubt, by 
the situation in the Dominican Republic. 

On the Ifth of May, the President sent a special message to the 
Congress in which he requested a supplemental appropriation of $700 
million "to meet mounting military requirements in Vietnam." He de- 
scribed in that message the landing of U.S C Marines at Da Nang and 
Phu Bai the more recent arrival of the 173rd Airborne. He went on to 
say: 

"Nor can I guarantee this will be the last request. If 
our need expands I will turn again to the Congress. For we 
will do whatever must be done to insure the safety of South 
Vietnam frorA aggression. This is the firm and irrevocable 
commitment of our people and Nation." 

And later in the same message: 

"I do ask for prompt support of our basic course: Re- 
sistance to aggression, moderation in the use of power, and 
and a constant search for peace." 158/ 



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On 18 June j McGeorge Bundy sent this memorandum to the Secretary 
of Defense: 159/ 

"The President mentioned to me yesterday his desire that 
we find more dramatic and effective actions in South Vietnam. 
He also mentioned his desire for a report on the progress of 
his idea that we need more light planes for operations there. 
Finally , he asked if we have enough helicopters." 

On the l6th of June Secretary McNamara had given the Army permission 
to proceed with the organization of an Airmobile Division using the assets 
of the 11th Air Assault Division and the 2nd Infantry Division. l6o/ On . 
the 22nd, four days after the Bundy Memorandum, the Secretary proceeded 
with readiness preparation of the Airmobile Division for deployment to 
South Vietnam, and the number of maneuver battalions being considered for 
eventual deployment rose from 23 U.S. to 3^ U.S. or W- U.S. /3rd Country 
total. l6l / On the 23rd of June the deployments of one Marine BLT to 
Da Nang and one to Qui Nhon were approved^ 162/ The latter move pro- 
vided the needed security for the port of Qui Nhon in preparation for 
the arrival of the Airmobile Division and also allowed Westmoreland to 
divert the Army brigade originally scheduled for Qui Nhon to Cam Ranh Bay 
and Bien Hoa 163/ 

• ^ ' President ial Sane tion for Phase I 

On 17 July, McNamara was in Saigon with the new Ambassador, 
Mr. Lodge, when he received the cable from Vance telling him that the 
President had decided to proceed with the deployment of all 3^ U.S. 
battalions then under consideration., At that time, the Chief Executive 
was said by Vance to be favorably inclined toward calling up reserves 
to make the deployments a little less of a strain on the military estab- 
lishment. 16 h/ 

Upon his return from Vietnam, Secretary McNamara prepared a 
draft release to the press which stated that the total increase in U.S. 
forces with the latest approved add-ons would be about 100,000. 165/ 
That information was not given out. Instead, after a week of deliberation, 
the President held a press conference on the 28th of July in which he 
told the American people "the. lesson of history" dictated that the U S 
commit its strength to resist aggression in South Vietnam. He said: 166 / 

"We did not choose to be the guardians at the gate, but 
there is no one else. 

"Nor would surrender in Vietnam bring peace, because we 
learned from Hitler at Munich that success only feeds the 
appetite of aggression. The battle would be renewed in one 
country and then another country, bringing with it perhaps 
even larger and crueler conflict, as we have learned from 
the lessons of history. 



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"Moreover , we are in Vietnam, to fulfill one of the most 
solemn pledges of the American Nation. Three Presidents 
President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, and your present 
President - • over 11 years have committed themselves and 
have promised to help defend this small and valiant nation. 

■ 

"Strengthened by that promise, the people of South 
Vietnam have fought for many long years. Thousands of them 
have diedc Thousands more have "been crippled and scarred by 
■war. We just cannot now dishonor our word, or abandon our 
commitment, or leave those who believed us and who trusted 
us to the terror and repression and murder that would follow. 

"This,, then, my fellow Americans, is why we are in 
Vietnam." 

As far as increases in U.S C forces were concerned, the President said 
this: 

"First, we intend to convince the Communists that we 
cannot be defeated by force of arms or -by superior power. 
They are not easily convinced. In recent months they have 
greatly increased their fighting forces and their attacks 
and the number of incidents. I have asked the commanding 
general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet 
this mounting aggression. Ke has told me. We will meet 
his needs. 

"I have today ordered to Vietnam the Airmobile Division 
and certain other forces -which will raise our fighting 
strength from 75,000' to 125,000 men almost immediately. 
Additional forces will be needed later 5 and they will be 
sent as requested. This will make it necessary to increase 
our active fighting forces by raising the monthly draft call 
from 17,000 over a period of time to 35,000 per month, and 
for us to step up our campaign for voluntary enlistments. 

"After this past week of deliberations, I have concluded 
that it is not essential to order Reserve units into service 
now. If that necessity should later be indicated, I will 
give the matter most careful consideration and I will give 
the country due and adequate notice before taking such action, 
but only af':er full preparations. 

". ' "We have also discussed with the Government of South Vietnam 
lately the steps that we will take to substantially increase 
their own effort, both on the battlefield and toward reform and 
progress in the villages. Ambassador Lodge is- now formulating 
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During the questioning period which followed the President's presentation, 
the following dialogue "between the President and one of his interlocutors 
is recorded: 

"Question: Mr. President , does the fact that you are sending 
additional forces to Vietnam imply any change in the existing 
policy of relying mainly on the South Vietnamese to carry out 
offensive operations and using .American forces to guard installa- 
tions and to act as emergency backup? 

"The President: It does not imply any change in policy what- 
ever. It does not imply change of objective." 

The Annex to JCSM 590-65, forwarded by the JCS on 30 July 1965, * 
reflected the final Phase I package approved for deployment as U4 maneuver 
battalions and a total strength in South Vietnam after all units had closed 
of 193,88? UcS. fighting men. During ensuing discussions concerning 
Phase II of the build-up, the Phase I package was further refined and in- 
creased. By 10 November, the Phase I package was fixed at 219,000 U.S. 
personnel. 167 / 

The build-up progressed apace while the debate continued. In July 
two more Army brigades arrived followed closely by a corps headquarters. 
The 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which had originally been scheduled 
to protect Qui Nhon, went to Bien Hoa, leaving one battalion at Cam Ranh 
Bay for security. 168/ That battalion rejoined its parent unit when 
relieved at Cam Ranh by the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. In 
August the landing .of the 7th Marine Regiment brought III MAP to a total 
strength of one Marine Division plus one regiment or 12 BLT T s. 169/ The 
airmobile division, organized on 1 July as the 1st Air Cavalry Division, 
was fully deployed and responsible for its TA0R on 28 September. The re- 
mainder of the 1st Infantry Division closed on 7 October, 170/ and the R0K 
forces were fully deployed by 8 November, bringing the US/3rd Country 
forces in-country to a total fighting force of hk maneuver battalions. 171 / 
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V. Expectations 

• 

The first four sections of this paper have presented the development 
of the situation in South Vietnam through the early months of 1965 and . 
discussed the three strategies ( l) Strategy of Security, 2) Enclave 
Strategy 3 and 3) Search and Destroy Strategy) which were considered dur- 
ing the same time span- for the employment of United States ground forces. 
Each of the strategies had its heyday and its proponents, and each was 
associated in the minds of the decision-making principals who were weigh- 
ing it with certain expectations. 

A « The Strategy of Security 

The short-lived .strategy of security saw the deployments as a 
necessary evil to meet an immediate need -- the. bolstering of base security 
in South Vietnam for the air effort against North Vietnam. Few of the 
principals read any more into it than that. 

The only intelligence .estimate dealing with the ramifications of 
this strategy came when the intelligence community was tasked to predict 
probable communist reactions to the input of an entire Korean division for 
base security duty in South Vietnam. The SNIE resulting, dated 19 March 
1965, indicated that input of Chinese or North Korean "volunteers" was 
very unlikely to occur. Inevitably there would be a great upsurge in 
propaganda and vilification directed against the Koreans and the U.S. for 
making such a move. In the main, however, communist reaction depended on 
how the signal was interpreted. They would almost certainly estimate that 
the input of a ROK division would "not in itself significantly alter the 
military situation. They might consider, however, that it portended a 
substantial further build-up of foreign forces. . .e.g. , Nationalist Chinese, 
Thai, Philippines 3 aid U.S.... for ground combat." 173/ 

The strategy of security was intimately tied to the Rolling 
Thunder bombing program. It remained alive only so long as the decision- 
making principals were reasonably confident that the bombing was going 
• to produce the desired effects on the DRV/VC will to persist. Expecta- 
tions for the security strategy were quite modest if the foot-in-the-door 
aspects of it are discounted. No input of "volunteers" from China or other 
communist allies of the DRV was expected to occur in response to the pro- 
vision of a few foreign troops to look after the bases in the South. It 
was merely expected that those bases would be better protected from attack. 

B. The Enclave Strategy 



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"trilemma" -was addressed and it was decided to embark, albeit cautiously, 
on a program of ground troop deployments in excess of the requirements of 
base security o To insure control of troops untested in the environment 
of Asian insurgency, to provide security for the orderly construction of 
an expandable logistics base, and to provide for rapid and easy exit if 
the situation suddenly deteriorated, the forces were to be placed in 
coastal enclaves with their backs to the sea. 

The proponents of the enclave strategy expected it to frustrate 
the DRV/VC by denying them victory. This denial of victory strategy 
spelled out at the Honolulu Conference ; the high water mark of the 
enclave strategy, predicted that enemy impotence would lead eventually 
to a political solution. The enemy would be denied victory simply 
because a modicum of U.S. and 3rd Country force would enable the RVXTAF 
to be expanded at a controlled rate without undue risk of collapse, loss 
of a key area, or a major defeat. The brunt of the war against the 
enemy's regular units would still be borne by the RWAF. The Allied 
forces, operating from their secure bases, would be prepared to come to 
the aid of the Vietnamese if necessary. The relatively low intensity of 
operations to which the Allied forces would be exposed would permit low 
risk experimentation with them. The information gained from such experi- 
ments would be useful if the strategy failed and more forces had to be 
brought in. If the experiments verified that foreign soldiers could not 
fight effectively in the Vietnamese environment, a stronger case could 
be made for resisting any future attempts to get foreign troops enmeshed 
in the war. 

Ambassador Taylor wanted to give the Vietnamese maximum oppor- 
tunity to save themselves. He was quite sanguine about their prospects 
in the spring of 1965 and therefore was predisposed to hold the foreign 
troops down to the bare minimum e He thought things would remain stable 
enough to permit leisurely experimentation with four U.S. Marine battal- 
ions for two months before thought should be given to bringing in any 
more. As Taylor saw the situation at that time, the enclave strategy 
would buy enough time for the preparation of an entire logistics base. 
Any additional foreign reinforcements needed could be brought in later. 
As far as the few U.S. troops already in the country were concerned, 
Taylor expected their most serious problem would be boredom. 

• 

General Westmoreland expected, and CINCPAC supported him in 
this, that the war would be lost if the Allied forces were put into 
enclaves. The difference between Westmoreland and Taylor was the 
former's insistence on using U.S. and 3rd Country forces to take the 
war to the enemy. Taylor was quite content to let KVMAF do that with 
the occasional assist from the Allied forces if they got into difficulty. 
Westmoreland did not think they could do it, and he was convinced that 
no kind of victory could be had unless some pressure were put on the 
VC/DRV forces in South Vietnam. 






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Westmoreland was convinced that there would be an enemy offen- 
sive in the II Corps highlands sometime during the 1965 summer monsoon. 
If Allied forces weren't there to meet it, he was sure the highlands 
would be lost to the DRV/VC forces , who would then proceed to establish . 
a front government there. Westmoreland expected this to happen if U.S. 
and 3^& Country forces went into coastal enclaves in lieu of moving 
directly into the interior. 

CINCPAC expected the Airmobile Division to exhaust its supply 
lines if it were to move directly inland . He was not convinced that it 
could be supplied adequately by air as Westmoreland had suggested. The 
Ambassador expected the VC/DRV to try for another Dien Bien Phu if a 
U.S. division were to go inland to the highlands. 

Westmoreland expected U.S. troops to have an abrasive effect on 
the Vietnamese population if they were in too close proximity to one 
another. The Ambassador was inclined to agree with him, but CIECPAC 
expected U.S C and 3rd Country forces to concentrate their efforts in 
areas where there were plenty of people, and he expected them to succeed. 
The Ambassador was prepared to put up with the prospect of poor relations 
between foreign troops and the Vietnamese in return for the low risk pros- 
pects offered by the enclave strategy. 

It is not at all clear that the JCS ever endorsed the enclave 
strategy with any enthusiasm or that they expected much from it. From 
analysis of their recommendations it seems that they strove constantly 
to override the enclavists and get enough force into the country to do 
some goodc In their three-division plan, they derided those who wanted 
to "merely keep pace" with the enemy or "slow down the rate" of his ad- 
vance. The JCS said that to turn the tide of the war required "an objec- 
tive of destroying the VC." Yjk / The only way to win was to provide 
enough force to both stem the tide and assume the offensive. They 
recommended three divisions to accomplish the latter. The enclave 
strategists advocated neither the objective nor the amount of force. 

Probably the last enclavist to be heard during the build-up 
debate was William Bundy. His "A Middle Way Course of Action in South 
Vietnam" memorandum was submitted to the President on the 1st of July e 
Bundy expected 18 battalions and 85,000 men operating in conservative 
fashion from coastal enclaves to be enough to hold the whole facade 
together while the U.S. made concerted efforts to shore up Southeast 
Asia and extricate itself honorably from South Vietnam. He did not 
expect a victory from such a move, but he did not expect a loss either. 

The reaction of the intelligence community to the enclave 

strategy was consistently less than optimistic. Immediately following 

the NSC meetings of the 1st of April, CIA Director McCone circulated a I 
memorandum in which he argued that changing the mission of U.S. troops 

in Vietnam to offensive operations would merely lead to requests for 



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more and more troops for a war the U.S. " cannot win ." In the same memo- 
randum, McCone argued that a marked increased in the tempo of air opera- 
tions against NVN was an indispensable concomitant of a change in ground 
strategy. 175/ The NSAM which sanctioned the change of ground strategy 
called for no more than "slowly ascending tempo" for Rolling Thunder 
operations . 176/ 

McCone circulated another memorandum on the day after the 
Honolulu Conference in which he estimated probable enemy reactions to 
greater U.S. involvement in the war. The enemy, McCone said, still saw 
things essentially going his way. An increased U.S. involvement on the ■ 
ground would be seen by the enemy as an acceptance by the U.S. of a 
greater commitment, but he would also infer from the cautious enclave 
approach that the U.S. was quite reluctant to widen the war. It was 
probable that the VC would be reinforced with men and equipment, but 
direct intervention by the DRV or the Chinese Communists was unlikely. 177 / 

On the 28th of April, a SKIE entitled "Communist Reactions to 
Certain U.S. Actions" described what could be expected of the enemy: 

"The policies and tactics of the Communist powers engaged 
by the Vietnamese crisis have settled into a fairly definitive 
pattern. It appears that the DRV, with strong Chinese encourage- 
ment, is determined for the present to ride out the U.S. bombard- 
ment. Both the DRV and Communist China have hardened their 
attitude toward negotiations, without categorically excluding 
the possibility under all conditions. They apparently calculate 
that the DRV can afford further punishment and that, in the 
meantime, U.S. determination to persist will weaken because of 
increasing DRV air defense capability, the threat of broader 
conflict, and the pressure of international and U.S. domestic 
opinion. Moreover, they consider that the tide is running in 
their favor in the South..." 

If the enemy's attitudes were as hard as described above, then a great 
deal of patience was going to be required of those who expected the 
Honolulu strategy to come to fruition. 

C . The Search and Destroy Strateg y 

There are many aspects of the enclave strategy which were galling 
to professional military men. Many of those were brought out by the military 
men themselves ii documents quoted in this paper. Probably the single most 
disturbing factor in the enclave approach was the implicit failure to try and 
seize the initiative from the enemy. Instead, it was proposed that the U.S. 
and the GVN try and ride out the war by denying the enemy a victory. The 



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The initiative to come to the conference table and thus end the fighting 

■was left strictly to the enemy and depended on his appreciation of his 

own impotence. It looked as though the communists were to have all the 
options. 

The JCS expected any strategy to fail if it did not include 
among its courses of action some provision for the seizure of the initia- 
tive. They said as much in each of their recommendations • General 
Westmoreland was of a similar "bent, and he stated explicitly that the 
enclave strategy was "too negative." 178/ Nevertheless, both Westmore- 
land and the JCS are on record stating that kk battalions would not be 
enough to seize the initiative from the enemy either. Westmoreland told- 
the JCS on 2k June that he felt substantial increases of forces would be 
required over and above the kk battalions in 1966. The U.S. would be 
too busy building up its forces in 1965 to seize "the initiative from the 
enemy during that year. 179 / JCSM- 515-65 of 2 July, which contained the 
JCS recommendation for the full kk battalions, included the following 
paragraph: ' . 

"Pursuant to your discussions with the JCS on 28 June I965 , 
there is furnished in the Annex hereto a program for the deploy- 
ment of such additional forces to South Vietnam at this time as 
are required to insure that the VC /DRV cannot win in South Viet- 
nam at their present level of commitment . " ^/Siphasis added/ 

The JCS went on to recommend the concurrent implementation of stepped-up 
air action against the DRV as "an indispensable component of this over- 
all program." Thus, the JCS, who in March 1965 were recommending 27 
battalions to "stem the tide and assume the offensive," l8o/ were ready ■ 
to admit in July of that year that kk battalions would only be enough to 
hold the fort and that even greater effort would be required to seize 
the init i at ive . 

When the Secretary of Defense came to Saigon during the third 
week of July 1965^ he was introduced to General We stmor eland T s latest 
ideas concerning the employment of U.S. and Free World Military Assistance 
Force (FvIMAF) forces . Westmoreland laid out for the Secretary the force 
requirements projected into 1966. Force ratios based on estimates of 
enemy build-up capability and projections of the RVNAF rate of build-up 
called for the kk US-FWMAF battalions through the end of 1965. In con- 
cert with Westmoreland 1 s Concept of Operations, later formalized and 
published on 30 August, the kk battalions were labeled Phase I forces. 
Secretary McHamara left Saigon with the first estimate by Westmoreland 
of the requirements for assuming the offensive- in 1966. Phase II was 
anticiDated by Westmoreland to reauire 2k additional maneuver battalions. 
181/ 

As an indication of Westmoreland's expectations for the kk Phase I 
maneuver battalions which are the subject of this paper, there is no better 



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source then his Concept of Operations. 182 / The Concept was developed 
through three distinct phases: 

Phase I -- The commitment of US/MMAF forces necessary to halt the 
losing trend "by the end of 1965. 



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. * Phase II — The resumption of the offensive "by US/FWMA.F force 

during the first half of 1966 in high priority areas necessary to destroy ' 
enemy forces, and reinstitution of rural construction activities. 

Phase III -- If the enemy persisted, a period of a year to a year 
and a half following Phase II would be required for the defeat and de- 
struction of the remaining enemy forces and base areas. 

Withdrawal of US/FWMAF forces would commence following Phase III 
as the GVN became able to establish and maintain internal order and to 
defend its borders « 

The overall Concept was based on some assumptions: 

(1) That the VC would fight ■until convinced that military victory 
was impossible and then would not be willing to endure further punishment. 

(2) That the Chinese Communists would not intervene except to 
provide aid and advice «, 

(3) That friendly forces would maintain control of the air over 
RVNo • 

The specific military tasks associated with each phase of the 
Concept were spelled out as follows: 

Phase I 

(1) Secure the major military bases, airfields and communications 
centers. 

(2) Defend major political and population centers. 

(3) Conduct offensive operations against major VC base areas 
in order to divert and destroy VC main forces. 

(h) Provide adequate reserve reaction forces to prevent the loss 
of secure and defended areas. 
« 

(5) Preserve and strengthen the RVNAF 

(6) Provide adequate air support, both combat and logistic. 



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• (7) Maintain an anti-infiltration screen along the coast and 
support forces ashore with naval gunfire and amphibious lift. 

(8) Provide air and sea lifts necessary to transport the 
necessary but minimum supplies to the civil populace. 

(9) Open up necessary critical lines of communication for 
essential military and civil purposes. 

(10) Preserve and defend, to the extent possible, areas now 
under effective governmental control* 

Phas e II 

(1) All Phase I measures. 

(2) Resume and/or expand pacification operations. Priority will 
be given to the Hop Tac area around Saigon, to that part of the Delta along 
an east-west axis from Go Cong to Chau Doc, and in the provinces of Quang 
Nam, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen. 

(3) Participate in clearing, securing, reserve reaction and 
offensive operations as required to support and sustain the resumption 
of pacification. 

Phase III 

N (l) All Phase I and II measures, 

(2) Provide those additional forces necessary to extend and 
expand clearing and securing operations throughout the entire populated 
area of the country and those forces necessary to destroy VC forces and 
their base areas. 

General Westmoreland went on in his Concept to lay out the tactics 
to be associated with the various military tasks and to list explicit 
tasks to be accomplished within each KVNAF Corps area. The above is suf- 
ficient for the needs of this paper, however, as it shows that General 
Westmoreland expected by the end of 1965 to have effectively stemmed the 
tide of the VC insurgency through the input of kk USjFWMAF maneuver 
battalions and their accompanying support. It further shows that in the 
first half of 1966, with the input of more force, Westmoreland expected 
to shift his emphasis from the strategic defensive to the strategic 
offensive. 

In his 25 June interview with McNaughton, Deputy Ambassador Johnson 
summed up the expectations for Ambassador Taylor and himself. 183/ In 
Johnson's view what was expected depended on how serious the situation 



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actually was. If it were as bad as Westmoreland said it was, then large , 
numbers of foreign troops could do little more than hold on to a few 
enclaves. If the situation were not significantly worse than the year 
before (and Johnson apparently felt in many ways it was not) then the 
U.S. was merely bringing in more foreign troops than were needed and 
could be expected to have difficulty getting them out again. Finally, . 
Johnson expected the Vietnamese reaction to the massive input of foreign 
troops to be a major problem. 

Under Secretary George Ball clearly felt that the U.S. was already- 
engaged in an indeterminate struggle in Vietnam. Raising the US/FWMAF 
force levels to kk battalions would, he expected, accomplish nothing more 
than raise the cost to the U.S. when it finally lc^st the war and pulled 
out. 

Assistant Secretary Bundy saw in the kk battalion request some 
ultimatum aspects that he felt were undesirable. Apparently, although 
he did not say so, he expected approval of that request and announcement 
of it to trigger some kind of dire response from the other side. 

The person among the principals whose views can be found in. the 
files dared to attach a probability to his expectations. Assistant 
Secretary McNaughton gave Secretary McNamara on the 13th of July a memo- 
randum entitled "Analysis and Options for South Vietnam." McN aught on 
described three possible courses the war could take: 

(1) Success for the US/gVN. (Actions one should expect to see 
in such a case were the extension of GVN control throughout the country , 
the disarming of the VC armed units, the cessation of infiltration and 
other DRV support, and the relegation of the terror and other insurgent 
activity to little more than a rural police problem.) 

(2) Inconclusive for either side (self-explanatory). 

(3) GVN collapse and concomitant U.S. defeat (self-explanatory). 

McNaughton recommended to Secretary McNamara that the U.S. deploy the kk 

battalions and be prepared to send more force to try for a win as defined 

above. McNaughton T s expectations for such a course, as expressed in 

probabilities, are laid out below. The assumed U.S. 'force level to 

develop these probabilities was between 200,000 and 400,000 men. With that 

amount of force, the probability of Success/lnconclusive/Collapse was 

for the year 1966: ..2/.7/.I 

for the year 1967: .k/ .k 1 ?/ .1$ and 

for the year 1968: .5/. 3/. 2 -- no further projection being made. 

It is noteworthy that while McNaughton expected the probability of success 
to increase with each year of investment, he also expected the probability 



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of failure to increase, although not by as much. The probability that 
the war would end inconclusively was expected by McNaughton to shrink 
dramatically after the first year. In concluding his memorandum, 
McNaughton observed that the U.S. might decide at any time in mid-course 
to try for a compromise solution to the conflict. Such an option, while 
not assigned a probability of achievement, was defined as a situation in 
which the VC remained armed and in defense of areas they controlled in 
the country, the NLF was represented in the GVN, and the GVN agreed to 
keep hands off the VC areas. 

Neither the President nor the Secretary of Defense is on record 
in 1965 with expectations as to the duration of the war or the impact of 
the kh battalions. It looks as though they both were prepared for the 
moment to go along with General Westmoreland's predictions about the 
course of the war. The decision not to call up the Reserves, which was 
made some time during the week just prior to the President's press con- 
ference of 28 July, indicated that the President expected the war to last 
in Vietnam well beyond a year. No doubt the Secretary of Defense told 
hiin. that without a declaration of national emergency — a move the Presi- 
dent found politically unpalatable -- the Reserves as an asset would be 
fully expended in one year, leaving the military establishment in worse 
shape than before if the war still continued. 

The final element in the expectations matrix was provided by the 
NIB in a SNIE issued on 23 July entitled "Communist and Free World Re- 
actions to a Possible U.S. Course of Action." The analysis was predicated 
on the following proposed action: 

(1) The U.S. would increase its strength in SVN to 175,000 by 
1 November 9 

(2) 225,000 U.S. Reserves would be called up, 

(3) 20,000 tours of duty per month would be extended, 

(k) The regular strength of the U.S. Armed Forces would be 
increased by ^00,000 over the next year, and. 

(5) UoS. draft calls would be doubled. 

In conjunction with the above, the U.S. would also make public statements 
reiterating its objectives and its readiness to negotiate. The forces 
going to Vietnam would be deployed so as not io threaten the 17th parallel. 
Also considered was a possible step-up of U.S. air activity against the 
DRV land lines of communication with China. 

In reaction to the above, the Communists would probably see the 
U.S. moves as indication that the U.S. held little hope of negotiation. 
They would probably expect some increase in US/3rd Country forces anyway 



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as they clearly felt they were winning. In order to offset the increases 
of US/3rd Country forces in South Vietnam, the Communists would probably 
build up their own strength with the input of 20,000 to 30,000 PAW regu- 
lars by the end of 1965. This, of course, they were already in the pro- 
cess of doing. 

It was seen as possible, but less probable, that the Communists 
might attack GVN forces and installations in hopes of achieving victory 
before the US/3rd Country build-up took effect. Barring that, they might 
avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces and just peck away at them 
through harassing actions. By so doing, they might hope to demonstrate 
to the foreigner his own impotence in a Vietnamese war. 

If the situation in South Vietnam were going badly for the VC, 
the DRV might show some interest in negotiations.. If the U.S. did in- 
crease its air activity, the DRV was most likely to respond by asking 
the Soviets for more air defense hardware. 

As far as the Chinese Communists were concerned, it was estimated 
that they were very unlikely to intervene in the air war over North 
Vietnam. They might put service troops into Worth Vietnam, but they 
would not be likely to introduce combat troops. The Chinese, the Estimate 
said, "would believe that the U.S. measures were sufficient only to post- 
pone defeat while magnifying its eventual effect." 

It could be expected that the Soviets would step up their aid to 
the DRV, especially in the field of air defense, and at the same time 
harden their attitude towards the U.S e without making any major challenge 
to U.S. interests around the worldo It would come as no. surprise if the 
Soviets raised the level of their military spending in response to this 
U.S. action. 

It was felt that most of the allies of the United States realized 
that the U.S. was going to have to increase its commitment in Vietnam. 
It was recognized, however, that they would find it increasingly difficult 
to give U.S. policy any public support. 

* 

In order to mitigate somewhat the crisis atmosphere that would 
result from this major U S. action, the Estimate concluded with the recom- 
mendation that announcements about it be made piecemeal with no more high 
level emphasis than necessary. • % 

Predictably, the expectations of those outside of the official" 
pale ran the gamut from supporters of Oregon Senator Wayne Morse ("the 
Administration policy is leading the United States to the abyss of total 
war" ~~ "there are doubts beginning to show at the grass roots about our 
policy there, [Jxi Vietnam/ and when the coffins begin coming home those 
doubts will grow" -- "the war in Asia cannot be won; ...in the end the 
United States will be kicked out") l8U / to equally misguided zealots on 



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the other end of the spectrum., such as Jack Foisie of the Los Angeles 
Times ("I foresee the day of mixed American-Vietnamese units under 
American command --to make our junior leadership stretch as far as 
possible" -- "we are going to drive to. the Laos border -- lying only 
50 to 75 miles inland in the central waist of Vietnam. Everything 
taken will "be held, initially with firstline troops , and later — as 
a rear area -- by second line militia") . 185/ 

Whatever their personal assessments of the ramifications of 
the J4U battalion decision might have been, all interested observers 
had one thing in common -- they recognized the crossing of a major 
threshold and the embarkation on a major new course the end of which 
was not in sight. 



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• 4 



J 



THE WHITE HOUSE! 
WASHINGTON 






O April 6, 1965 



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NA TIONA L SEC UR IT Y A CT ION ME MORA ND UM NO. 32 S 



• . 



MEMORANDUM FOR 



THE SECRETARY OF STATE 

THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 

THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE 



/ 



On Thursday, April 1, The President made the following decisions with 
respect to Vietnam: 

1. Subject to modifications in the light of experience, and 
to coordination and directionboth in Saigon and in Washington, the 
President approved the 41 -point program of non-«military actions sub- 
mitted by -Ambassador Taylor in a memorandum dated March 31, 19 65* 

2. The President gave general approval to the recommenda- 
tions submitted by Mr. Rowan in his report dated March 16, with the 
exception that the President withheld approval of any request for sup- 
plemental funds at this time -- it is his decision that this program is to 
be energetically supported by all agencies and departments and by the 
reprogramming of available funds as necessary within USIA. 

3. The President approved the urgent exploration of the 12 
suggestions for covert and other actions submitted by the Director of 
Central Intelligence under date of March 31 • 



4. The President repeated his earlier approval of the 21- 
point program of military actions submitted by General Harold K. 
Johnson under date of March 14 and re-emphasized his desire that . 
aircraft and helicopter reinfor cements under this program be 
ccelereited. ■ • 



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5, The President approved an 18-20,000 man increase in 
U. S. military support forces to fill out existing units and supply needed 
logistic personnel. 



U 



6. The President approved the deployment of two additional 
Marine Battalions and one Marine Air Squadron and associated headquarters 
and support elements, ' ■ \ 

7. The. President approved a change of miooion for all Marino 
Battalions deployed to Vietnam to permit their more active use under 
conditions to be established and approved by the Secretary of Defense in 
consultation with the Secretary of State. 

&• The President approved the urgent exploration, with the 
Korean, -Australian, and New 'Zealand Governments, of the possibility 
of rapid deployment of significant combat elements from their armed 
forces in parallel with the additional Marine deployment approved in para- 
graph 6. * 

9. Subject to continuing review, the^President approved the 
following general framework of continuing action against North Vietnam 
and Laos : . 

•We should continue ro uglily the present slowly ascending 
tempo of ROLLING THUNDER operations, being prepared to add strikes 
in response to a higher rate of VC operations, or conceivably to slow 
the pace in the unlikely "event VC slacked off sharply for what appeared to 
be more than a temporary operational lull. 

• 

The target systems should continue to avoid the effective GCI 
range of MIGs. We should continue to vary the types of targets, stepping 
up attacks on lines of communication in the near future, and possibly y 
moving in a few weeks to attacks on the rail lines north and northeast 
of Hanoi, 

Leaflet operations should be expanded to obtain maximum 
practicable psychological effect on the North Vietnamese population. 

Blockade or aerial mining of North Vietnamese ports need further 
study and should be considered for future operations. It would have major 
political complications, especially in relation to the Soviets and other 
third countries, but also offers many advantages • . ' # 

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Air operation in Laos, particularly route blocking operations 
in the Panhandle area, should be stepped up to the maximum remunera- 
tive rate. 



v 



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Jv5 



10. Ambassador Taylor will promptly seek the reactions of 
the South Vietnamese Government to appropriate sections of this pro- 
gram and their approval as -necessary, and in the event of disapproval or 
difficulty at that end, these decisions will be appropriately reconsidered* 
In any event, no action into Vietnam under paragraphs 6 and 7 above 
shou 1 take place without GVN approval or further Presidential authoriza- 
tion, 

11. The President desires that with respect to the actions in * 
paragraphs 5 through 7, premature publicity be avoided by all "possible 
precautions. The actions themselves should be taken as rapidly as 
practicable, but in ways that should minimize any appearance of sudden 
changes in policy, and official statements on these troop movements will 
be made only with the direct approval of the Secretary of Defense, in 
consultation with the Secretary. of State, The President's desire is that 
these movements and changes should be understood as being gradual and 
wholly consistent with existing policy « * . .. ■ ' - : 



. htf^y 



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Me George Bundy 



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IV. C. 6. 

FOOTNOTES 






i. CIA Sitrep, 2 April 1965. 

2. CIA Monthly Report, 5 May 1965. 

3. CIA Monthly Report, 1+ June 1965. 

k. Robert Sha.plen, The Lost Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1965) 9 
pp. 3^-3^5- 

5. CIA Sitrep, 23 June 1965. 

6. CIA Monthly Report, 5 May 1965. 

7. Memo, McGeorge Bundy to SecDef, 12 April 19&5- 

8. OASD(PA) Press Release 216-65, 7 April 1965. 

9. Msg, CGMUSMACV to CINCPAC, 271338Z March 1965. 

10. Joint CIA-DIA-State Memo, ''Strength of Viet Cong Military Forces in 
South Vietnam." 

11. CIA Sitrep, 2 April 1965. 

12. JCSM 20>+-65, 20 March 1965. 

13. CIA-DIA Memo, "An Assessment of Present VC Military Capability" 
(SC #0i^6ty65), 21 April 1965. 

lU. MACV Monthly Evaluation, May I965. 

15. Interview with Maj Gen William Du Puy (MACV J-3 at the time of 
Ba Gia), k October 1967. 

16. Deptel 2873, U June 1965. 

17. CIA Sitrep, 16 June 1965o 

18. MACV Military Report, 19-26 June 1965. 

19'. Ibid . • 

20. CIA .Sitrep, l4 July 1965. 



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21. Shaplen, op, cit ., p. 3^8. 

22. MACV, T, Coiomaiid.er T s Estimate of The Situation," 26 March 1965. 

23. Msg, MCV to CINCPAC, 19118, 070335Z June 1965. 
2k. Joint CIA-DIA-State Memo, op. cit . 

25. CIA Sitrep, 21 July 1965. 

26. OSD SEA Statistical Summary, Table 2. 

27. CIA Sitrep, 2 April 1965. 

28. OASD(PA) Press Release 216-65, op, cit. 

29. McGeorge Bundy, Memo for The President, 7 February 1965. 

30. OASD(PA), op. cit . - 

31. Memo, SecDef to Chairman, JCS, k June 1965. 

32. CIA Sitrep, February 1965. 

33. Special Report prepared by the USMACV Subsector Advisor, Thanh Phu 
District, 1 October 1965. 

3U. MACV Command History 1965, p. 21. 

35. CIA Monthly Report, k June 1965. 






36. MACV History, op. cit ., p. 5 

37. EMBTEL U07 1 *, 5 June 1965. 

38. Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Harold K. Johnson, Memo for SecDef and 
others, Ik March 1965. 

39. Msg,MACV to CINCPAC, 1707^72 March 1965. 
k0. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS, 192207Z March 1965. 
kl. JCSM 216-65 , 25 March 1965. 

k2% NSAM 328, 6 April 1965. 

k3. JCSM 20U-65 5 20 March 1965. 



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kk. New York Times , 9 June 1965. 

45. NSAM 328, o p. cit . 

kG. Msg, CINCPAC (for Taylor) to State, OU2058Z April 1965. 

l{-7. McNaughton notes , "Annex -- Plan of Action for SVN," 24 March 1965 

48. NSAM 328, op. cit , 

49. SecDef, Memo for The President, 21 April 1965. 
50 •• McNaughton, Memo to Dep SecDef, 5 May 1965- " 

51. SecDef, Memo to Chairman, JCS, 5 April 1965.' 

52. Ernbtel 3332, 12 April 1965. 

53. Edwin H. Simmons, Monograph, "The Marine Corps Response to Vietnam 
and Santo Domingo," 15 May 1967, p. 32- 

5J4. MA.CV "Commander T s Estimate," op. cit. 

55. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 110852Z April 1965. 

56. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS 030230Z March 1965. 

57. JCS talking paper confirming results of Conference in Honolulu of 
10 April, 16 April 1965. 

58. MA.CV History, op. cit ., p. 39; Msg, JCS to CINCPAC, 009012, 
140051Z April 1965. 

59. Ernbtel 3373, I 1 * April 1965. 

60. Ernbtel 3^23, 17 April 1965. 

61. Joint State-Defense Msg, 9164, 15 April 1965. 

62. JCSM 281-65, 15 April 1965. 

63. Deftel 1097, 30 April 1965. 

64. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS, 0702k6Z July 1965. 



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65- JCSM 811-65, 10 November 1965. 

66. CSA Johnson Memo, Ik March 1965, op. cit . 

67. SecDef marginal notes in Johnson Memo of lU March 1965 

68. Embtel 3003, 18 March 1965. 
69- Embtel 3120, 27 March 1965. 

70. Deptel 2131, 30 March 1965. 

71. NSAM 328, op. cit . 

72. Msg,. CINCPAC to State (for Taylor), 0^2058z April 1965 

73. Embtel 3^23, 17 April 1965. 
7I+. Embtel 3^32, 17 April 1965. 

75. Embtel 3^2^, 17 April 1965. 

76. Embtel 337^, I 1 )- April 1965. 

77. JCSM 281-65, 15 April 1965. 

78. Embtel 3I+19 and 3^21, 17 April 1965- 

79. Joint State-Defense Msg, 916U, 15 April 1965. 

80. Embtel 3^23, 17 April 1965. 

81. McNaughton minutes of 20 April 1965 Honolulu Meeting 

82. Embtel 3U23, op. cit . , and McWaughton Minutes, op. cit , 

83. SecDef Memo for The President, 21 April 1965. 
Qk. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS, 230U23Z April 1965. 



85. JCSM 321-65, 30 April I965. 

86. . Deftel IO97, 30 April 1965. 

87. McNaughton Memo to Dep SecDef, 5 May 1965. 



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88. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 15 May 19&5- 

89- Simmons, op. cit ., p. 91 

90.. JCSM 811-65, 10 November 1965. 

91. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 17292, 2k May 1965, and Embtel 3855, 2k May 1965. 

92. Embtel 31*91, 23 April 1965. 

93. Msg, COMUSMACV to CINCPAC, 15182, 8 May I965. 
9k. Embtel 3727, 11 May 1965. 

95. Simmons, op. cit ., p. 33. 
Ibid. 



97. New York Times , 9 June 1965. 

98. Simmons, op. cit ., p. 3^. 

99. 'Deptel 3057, 26 June 1965. 

100. Simmons, op. cit., p. kk-k^. 

101. JCSM 63^-65, 21 May 1965. 



c 



102. JCS talking paper for coming Taylor visit, 9 June 19&5- 

103. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 19118, 070335Z June 1965. 

104. CSA Johnson Memo, Ik March 1965, oy* cit . 

105. MACV "Commander's Estimate," 26 March 1965, op- cit . 

106. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 27I338Z March 1965. 
107- Ibid - 

108. MA.CV History, op. cit., p. 57~58. 

109. Ibid., p. 53, and SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 12 April 1965 

110. JCSM 417-65, 27 Mary 1965. 



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111. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, k June 1965. 

112. Msg, MA.CV, 19118, 7 June 1965, op. cit . 

113. Msg, MA.CV to Sharp, Wheeler, Johnson, Waters (Eyes Only), 2029, 
12 April 1965. 

Hk. Msg, C0MUSMA.CV to CINCPAC, I5182, 8 May 1965. 

115. Msg, MA.CV to DA, I5O9OOZ May 1965. 

116. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS O72325Z June 1965 

117. JCSM I+57-65, 11 June 1965. ' " 

118. Msg, CINCPAC to JCS, 112210Z June 1965. 



119. JCSM 204-65, 20 March 1965 



120. Ibid . 

121. Deptel 2131, 30 March 1965. 

122. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 5 April 1965- 

123. Msg, JCS to CINCPAC, 1^035 5 Z April 1965. 
12k. JCSM 321-65, 30 April 1965. 

125. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 15 May 1965- 

126. JCS talking paper for coming Taylor visit, 9 June 1965 

127. JCSM 1+57-65, 11 June 1965. 

128. Ibid . 

129. . JCSM 482-65, 18 June 1965 

130. MA.CV History, op. ci t., p. kl 

131. Msg, JSC to CINCPAC, II23U7Z June 1965. 

132. Msg, C0MUSMACV to CINCPAC, 20055, 131515Z June 1965. 

133. Embtel 4220, 17 June 1965. 



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13^- Msg, JCS to CINCPAC, 21*00, 22 June 1965. 

135. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 3320, 2k June 1965. 

136. Deptel 3057, 26 June 1965. 

137. McNaughton Memo of conversation with Johnson, 26 June 19&5- 

138. (ASD (PA) text of SecDef Rress Conference, 16 June 1965. 

139. George Ball, draft summary of Memo, "Cutting Losses," 28 June 1965* 
llj-0. George Ball Memo for the President, 1 July 19&5* 

l4l. William Bundy Memo for the President, 1 July 1965. 

li*2- .Deptel 2131, 30 March 1965. 

1^3. SecDef reply to JCSM 20^-65, contained in draft J-3 paper dated 
5 November 1966. 

ikk. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 5 April 1965. 

1^5. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 15 May 1965. 

lk6. SecDef Memo to all Departments, 1 March 1965 . 

ll+7. SecDef marginal comments in CSA Johnson Memo, Ik March 1965, op. cit . 

1U8. JCSM 238-65, 2 April 1965. 

llj-9. SecDef Memo to Chairman, JCS, 14 May 1965. 

150. SecDef letter to Chairman, House Appropriations Committee, 9 June 1965 

151. Deptel 5319. 7 July 1965. 

* 

152. Msg, Vance to McKamara, 1720i|2Z June 1965. 

153. MACV History, oy. cit ., p. k2. 
15k. Simmons, op. cit ., p. 37- 
155. NSAM 328, op. cit. 



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156. McGeorge Bundy Memo to SecDef, 10 April 1965. 

157. Deftel 916^, 15 April 1965 

158. Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, "Background 
Information relating to Southeast Asia and Vietnam" (Government 
Printing Office, March 1966), pp. 227-231. 

159. McGeorge Bundy Memo to SecDef, 18 June. 1965* 

160. OASD (PA) text of SecDef Press Conference, 16 June 1965. 

161. MACV History, op. cit ., p. 1*1. 

162. Deptels 3078 and 3079, 23 June 1965. 
163- MA.CV History, op. cit ., p. Ul 

16k. Msg, Vance to SecDef, 1720^2Z July 1965. 

165. SecDef draft Press Release, 22 July 1965. 

166. Committee on Foreign Relations, op. cit., pp. 238-2!+3. 

167. JCSM 811-65, 10 November 1965. 

168. MA.CV History, op. cit ., p. kl 
169- Ibid ., p. 35- 

170. Ibid-, p. kk. 

171. Ibid ., p. 72 

172. Ibid ., p. 269. 

173. SNIE "Probable Communist Reactions to the Deployment of a ROK 
Division for Security Duty in SVN, " 19 March 1965. 

Yjk. JCSM 204-65, 20 March 1965. * 

175. McCone Memo to SecDef and others, 2 April 1965- 

176. HSAM 328, op. cit . 

177. McCone Memo, "Reactions to Greater U.S. Involvement," 21 April 1965 






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178. MACV "Commander's Estimate/' op cit . 

^ 179. Msg, MACV to CINCPAC, 3320, 2k June 1965- 

180. JCSM 20^-65, 20 March 1965. 

181. MACV History, op. cit ., p.U2o 

182. Ibid ., pp 1^1-153. 

l83o McNaughton Memo of Conversation, op , cit , , 26 June 1965 

18U. New York Times , 9 June 1965 c 

185- Los -Angeles Times, k July 1965. 



135 



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