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

(16 Vols.) 
6. U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments: 1965-1967 

(3 Vols.) 
b. Volume II: Program 5 

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IV. C. 6. (b) 


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AND P( !i3 D ■ :S 

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19b —19 


Sec Def Coat-Hr. X--.. 


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1. Hedged Public Optimism Meets the New Year 1 

2. Official Optimism and a Spur to Action: The Komer Memo h 

3. Fishing for Ideas With a Dragnet: The Abortive NSAM on 

• Strategic Guideline s for Vietnam. 7 

k . The Strategic Concept Under Fire : Seeds of Doubt 13 



1 . Reclamas to Program h - Fleshing Out 22 

2. Vietnam Strategy: Attention Rivets on the Borders and 
Sanctuaries 2^ 

3 . Vietnam /Strategy: On the Ground 33 

k. Sanctuaries. Revisited: Renewed and Heightened Concern 

About Laos and Cambodia . . . • • 37 

5 . Infiltration — Remains the Key. h2 

FOOTNOTE'S •. < . . . 6 52 


1. The Guam Conference, 20-21 March 1967 ; . . 58 

2. The MACV Request : "Essential" Looks Like "Optimum" 6l 

3. The JCS Take Up the March: The CINCPAC Force Requirements 

Task Group and JCSM 218-67 67 

4. The Stimulation of Inter-Agency Reviews: A Proliferation 

of Alternatives 77 

5 . Developments in the Ground War: Strategy Takes Shape 89 

6. The Domestic Debate Continues : Polarization at Home 93 

FOOTNOTES • . , 100 


1. Systems Analysis — Vanguard of the Reaction 105 

2. A New Look at the "Plimsoll Line": Alternatives to 

Increases Restudied 129 

3 ■ The Quest for Capabilities : The Search for Limits 133 

k. Bombing in the North: Its Contribution to the Ground War 

Reexamined 137 

FOOTNOTES. .0 142 

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1. The McNaughton Draft Presidential Memorandum - 2h6 

2. JCSM 286-67, Persistent Pressure Up the Ladder --"Shouldering 
Out ,T the Parts 165 

3. The Vance Options — Re -examination of Increases 168 

k . The Last Interagency Round of Alternatives 178 

5 . The McNamara Visit to Saigon 192 

6. The Compromise- -Slightly More of the Same 209 

7 • Follow-6ns . . 215 



1. Major Operations and Approximate Locations (Jan 67) 36 

2. Selected Operations (over 100 enemy killed) Feh 67 91 

3. Selected Operations (over 100 enemy killed) Mar 67 . • .- 92 

4. Selected Operations (over 100 enemy killed) Apr 67 $k 

5 * Selected Operations, May - I Corps 95 

6. Selected Operations, May - II Corps 96 

7 . Selected Operations , May - III Corps e . • . 97 

8 . Selected Operations, May - IV Corps 98 


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1. Pledged Public Optimism Meets the New Year 

The last month of 1966 was like all such months — a time for official 
retrospection and tally. The mood was one. of cautious optimism, buoyed 
by hopes that 1967 would prove to be the decisive year in Vietnam. 

The indicators showed that great progress had been made — quantita- 
tively , anyway. The number of U.S. and FW maneuver battalions available 
for operations in South Vietnam had increased from 4 5 to 102. ARVN had 
added another 2h such units , bringing its total to l63> so altogether 
there were 265 battalions ready to commence operations in the new year, l/ 
In short., the US-FW" resources available for operations roughly doubled 
during the second year of the war., and they promised to be even higher 
during the third . 2/ , . 

Large ground operations were mounting in number and duration, and 
the trend promised to continue pointed sharply upward (see Figs. 1-8). 

This upswing in activity was attributed to the rapid infusion of U.S. 
battalions; indications were that such a high level of activity was not 
independent, but so strongly correlated with our presence that, if we 
willed, it could be "sustained indefinitely." 3/ 

More importantly, all of these gains seemed to be having a relevant 
impact on the enemy — causing his battlefield fortunes to decline closer 
to the point where he would be forced to stop fighting or negotiate, or 
both. Even accepting the historical overstatement of enemy losses — the 
bias is reasonably consistent — and the trend in enemy losses to 8,11 
causes was rising sharply, kj Kill ratios (enemy KIA vs. allied KIA.) 
were up to 4.2 from 3-3 during the preceding six month period. RVNAF 
losses actually declined; but unfortunately US/lW KIA doubled -- a fact 
that the press was later to pick up and exploit in its criticism of the 
ARVN/GVN role in the war. (See Tables k and 5, Appendix B). 


Observers believed that most of the enemy battalions, NVA and VC, 
were in place six months ahead of the U.S., and that only recently had 
the full consequences of our enlarged participation been reflected in 
enemy strength and OB figures. From July I9663 VC/lWA strength had 
appeared to d scline slightly, although they had evidently been able to 
maintain their oft. -cited target of 100,000 men in the field. 

Irregular forces had apparently declined to about 180,000 (confirmed 
by a VC document captured on CEDAR FALLS) and their "solid" recruitment 
population base had shrunk. Another VC document contained an estimate 
that VC/NVA forces had lost about 1,000,000 people to GVN control during 

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the last half of 1966. There was increasing evidence that NVA was fur- 
nishing large numbers of replacements for damaged VC units, even for 
local forces and some units in the Delta. The great uncertainty, surely, 
if you accepted the indicators and the analysis of what they meant, was 
the infiltration rate and how successful we assumed we would be in con- 
trolling it. 

Just as crucial seemed to be the level of VC/lWA activity as the 
year closed. Systems Analysis estimated that incidents were down 19$ 
("incidents" being attacks, terror, harassment and sabotage). Battalion- 
sized and larger enemy attacks in late 1966 were down to less than half 
those of the preceding six months, while small attacks nearly trebled. 
The significance of some relationships holding here was lost on decision- 
makers until much later in the new year when we began to seriously question 
the search and destroy strategy in Vietnam. The assumption that major 
enemy unit activity was a function of the total size of our forces, i.e., 
the more we have the more extensively active we can be in search, finding 
and destroying large units, is just not a convincing one when you look 
at enemy activity (large units) vs. our build-up. Also, leading from 
this, no one had yet questioned another assumption implicit in the COMUS- 
MACV attrition strategy; we needed to ask: Who initiates the battles 
when they do occur? ' 

Revolutionary development plans were moving ahead. By 9 January 
1967 3 the provincial RD programs had been approved by General Thaing, 
Commissioner General of RD; some 1,091 hamlets with a total population 
of 1,272,950 people were to be the targets of extensive RD effort. How- 
ever, inputs and plans do not constitute outputs or results and such 
flimsy evidence as this offered as proof of "progress" was surely trans- 
parent. Concurrently, however, the reaction of the enemy to pacification 
seemed to be confirmation that the program was making headway. Looking 
back to. the 196^4-1965 "pacification programs" the enemy hardly bothered 
to react to what he considered a minimal threat, and an unwanted diversion 
from his successful military campaign. Only in late I966 did he begin to 
exert significant effort and begin attacking RD cadre teams. Many dis- 
agreed with this interpretation, but few could dispute the graphic evidence 
of basic RD weakness (security) the VC/NVA operations had revealed. RD 
ca.dre desertions increased markedly (33 to 8^ per week from January to 
March 1967) and the program was grossly unable to meet its recruitment 
goals (approximately 10^000 short of the 1*1,000 CY 67 target). 5/ 

If military indicators were trending upward, the political indicators 
at the new year, both at home and abroad, were mixed. The Levy case had 
broken to the press and had become the temporary focus of anti-war group 
propaganda at the close of the year. U Thant had advanced his proposals 
for peace to the President who promised to give them "careful evaluation." 6/ 
Harrison Salisbury's dispatches from Worth Vietnam were, generating an 

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explosive debate about the bombing. Not only had he questioned the 
"surgical" precision claimed for the bombing of military targets in 
populated areas, but he questioned the basic purpose of the strategy 
itself. In his view, civilian casualties were being inflicted delib- 
erately to break the morale of the populace, a course both immoral and 
doomed to failure. The counter-attack mounted by bombing advocates 
(and apologists) combined with the predictable quick denunciations and 
denials from official sources helped generate a significant public re- 
action. 7/ 

The Pentagon reaction to the Salisbury articles touched off a new 
round of editorial comment about the credibility gap. Polls at the 
start of the year reflected the public's growing cynicism about public 
statements. One Harris poll indicated that the public of January I967 
was just as likely to blame the United States for truce violations (des- 
pite public announcements to the contrary) as the enemy. Two years 
earlier this had not been so. 8/ Salisbury happened to be in North 
Vietnam when Hanoi was first bombed -- whether by accident or design is 
uncertain. Consequently, his dispatches carried added sting — he was 
reporting on the less appealing aspects of a major escalation in the 
bombing campaign which would have attracted headlines on its own merits. 
His "in depth" of such an important benchmark added markedly to its public 
impact. 9/ So great was the cry that President Johnson felt impelled to 
express "^deep regret" over civilian casualties on both sides. 

Actual war news seemed good. Draft calls were down with the policy 
of "keeping /the/ induction rate at a reduced level for 1967- " (McNamara 
press conference). Allies like Thailand were helping to ease our manpower 
and commitment problems, the Thais announced in January that they were dis- 
patching 1,000 troops to South Vietnam. The U.S. 9th Infantry Division 
had commenced landing at Vang Tau, highlighting the continuing infusion 
of U.S. strength now reaching the 380,000-man mark. North Vietnam's MIG 
force had come up to engage our bombers over Hanoi on 7 January. The 
result was the foe's worst day of air war -- seven MIG's were downed. 
The United States made its first direct troop commitment to the Delta 
when Marines were landed at Thanh Phong Peninsula. This event generated 
a storm of criticism especially from Congressman Gerald Ford who attacked 
the Administration for expanding operations into the Delta without advising 
Congress. 10 / 

There was little to be hopeful about in regard to North Vietnam's 
resolution, it was not eroding. The Washington Star , in an exclusive, 
quoted Premier Phan Van Dong of the DRV as being convinced that American 
public opinion would eventually force the U.S. to leave South Vietnam. 
,He confirmed the oft-expressed fears of U.S. officials who prophesied 
great danger of a wider and bloodier war if North Vietnam mis-read the 
peace marches and opposition to the war, interpreting it as lack of U.S. 
determination, ll / Earlier, Salisbury had quoted the Premier when he 
discussed the bombing, saying "that once hostilities are brought to an 
end it would be possible to speak of other things." 12 / The North Viet- 
namese were evidently resigned to a long bitter war — one they believed 
they could Vait out better than we. - 

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To Walter Lippman, the New Year meant "there is hope only in a 
negotiated compromise" (emphasis added) , "but to others optimism was 
the keynote. Ambassador Lodge, in his New Year's statement , predicted 
that "allied forces will make sensational military gains in I967" and 
"the war would end in an eventual fadeout once the allied pacification 
effort made enough progress to convince Hanoi that the jig was up." 13/ 
The New York Dai l y New s informed 15 million New Yorkers that the "U.S. 
Expects to Crush Main Red Force in T 67." Ik/ 

As if to balance the cacophony of war dialogue, a final dissonant 
note was sounded during those first two weeks of the new year. The famous 
"Goldberg Reply" to U Thant's note of 30 December had angered and dismayed 
the Secretary General. At a news conference he discussed the U e S. reply 
to his message which had basically implored the U.S. to discontinue the 
bombing so some kind of talks could open. The U.S. rejection, outlining 
its condition of "reciprocal acts" on the part of North Vietnam, he said 
was "much regretted," for in his estimation it was based upon an unfortunate 
misreading of history and the current situation as well as the result of 
misguided assumptions about the "domino theory," which he rejected. The 
strong opposition he voiced created important political "ripples" in the 
United Nations, Washington, and abroad. A certain mood of frustration 
and opposition which had already taken root was nourished and sustained 
by the incident. 15/ 

2. Official Optimism and a Spur to Action: The Komer Memo 

Seeds of optimism were not restricted to the public at large, but also 
found sustenance in official circles -- primarily in the White House staff. 
R. W. Komer, in what he titled a "Vietnam Prognosis for 1967-68," provided 
a markedly optimistic view of the future and a firm conviction that the 
military situation was manageable, if not well in hand. He was convinced 
that COMJSMACV's "spoiling strategy" had thrown Hanoi's calculations badly 
out of balance, and put us "well past the first turning point where we 
stopped losing the war." 16/ In this he agreed with the McNamara 14 Octo- 
ber DIM; both believed that we had stopped losing. He saw other major 
turning points. He suspected that we had reached a point where we were 
killing, defecting or otherwise attriting more VC/NVA strength than the 
enemy could build up — in the vernacular, the "cross-over" point. He 
cited the favorable indicators, but he neither sounded completely convinced 
nor conclusive. 

A critical psychological turning point may have been crossed, he 
believed, because he detected that the bulk of SVN's population increas- 
ingly believed that we were winning the war. (He saw this as the chief 
significance of the 80)£ voter turnout on 11 September.) He concluded 
his introduction with: 

"In sum- -slow, painful, and incredibly expensive though 
it may be — we're beginning, to 'win' the war in Vietnam. This 
is a far cry from saying, however, that we're going to win it 
— in any meaningful sense/ 1 

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He saw quite clearly the imponderables which made any prognosis a 
hazardous undertaking: 

!I A. Will Hanoi materially increase its infiltration 
rate? I gather this is feasible (though will the barrier 
make a, major difference?). 

"B. Will the enemy escalate? Aside from increasing 
infiltration, I see little more Piano i itself could do. Or 
Moscow. Peking could intervene in Vietnam or widen the 
area of hostilities in SEA, but this seems quite unlikely. 

" C • Will the enemy revert to a guerrilla strategy? 
This could be a serious complication before we get a major 
pacification effort underway. But the evidence suggests 
that the VC are still attempting to organize regiments and 
divisions. I T d also agree with Doug Pike T s conclusion in 
his new book, 'Viet Cong' that such de-escalation would 
shatter VC morale. 

"D. Will Hanoi play the negotiating card, and how? 
If I'm right about the trend line, Hanoi would find it 
wiser to negotiate. The only other options are escala- 
tion, growing attrition, or fading away. If Hanoi decides 
to talk sometime in 1967* a whole new calculus intervenes, 
involving questions of cease-fire, standstill, bombing 
pauses, etc. In this case we'll have to do a new prognosis. 


"E. Will the GW fall apart -politically? While it 
was a risk worth taking, we've opened Pandora's box by 
promoting a political evolution to representative govern- 
ment. A series of coups or political crises in Cochin 
China or Annam could so undermine GVN cohesiveness as to 
cause a major setback of popular revulsion in the U.S. 
I expect plenty of political trouble, but would hazard 
that a crisis of such magnitude ca,n be avoided in 1967 if 
we work hard at it. 

"F. Will our new pacification program work? This too 
is a major imponderable. But we've nowhere to go but up. 
We're at long la,st planning a major new resource input plus 
the necessary focus on improving US management and redirecting 
ARVN assets. So to me the chief variable is how much progress 
we can make how soon. Will it be enough to make a signifi- 
cant difference in 1967 or even 1968? 

" G • Last but not least, will the US appear to settle 
down for a long pull if necessary? This is hardest to pre- 
diet, yet crucial from the standpoint of SVH" and FVIT reactions." 17/ 

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Trends as he saw them would continue up (even sifting out the. 
imponderables). The only explanation for under -achievement militarily, 
in pacification, and political development, would be "something unfore- 
seeable" (not specified). We would be on the high-side of the curve, 
as he termed it, with the key issue one of "whether the U.S. appears 
prepared to stick it out as long as necessary or to be tiring of the 

war . " 

He closed by drawing the lessons imbedded in his analysis: 

" . . .My prognosis of what is more likely than not to 
happen in Vietnam is reasonable only if we and the GVN mount 
a maximum effort in 1967-68 to make it so. The key is better 
orchestration and management of our Vietnam effort — both in 
Washington and Saigon. To me, the most important ingredient 
of such an outcome is less another 200,000 troops, or stepped-up 
bombing, or a $2 billion civil aid program- -than it is more 
effective use of the assets we already have. 

T ' A . The war will be 'won 1 (if we can use that term) in 
the South. Now that we are successfully countering NVA 
infiltration and the enemy's semi-conventional strategy, what 
needs to be added is increasing erosion of southern VC strength 
(it has probably already peaked out). 

"B. Assuming the above is broadly valid, the key to 
success in the South is an effective pacification pro gram, 
plus a stepped-up defection program and successful evolution 
toward a more dynamic, representative and thus more attractive 
GVN. These efforts will reinforce each other in convincing 
the Southern VC and Hanoi that they are losing. 

"C. Our most important under-utilized asset is the RVNAF. 
Getting greater efficiency out of the 700,000 men we're already 
supporting and financing is the cheapest and soundest way to 
get results in pacification. 

"D. By themselves, none of our Vietnam programs offer 
high confidence of a. successful outcome (forcing the enemy 
either to away or to negotiate). Cumulatively, however, 
they can produce enough of a bandwagon psychology among the 
southerners to lead to such results by end~19o7 or sometime 
in I968, At any rate, do we have a better option?" 18/ 

Komer's primary misgivings related to the ability of GVN to exploit 
military successes and to convert them into meaningful steps forward in 
the nation-building program. Creating and sustaining viable political 
institutions in a revolutionary environment has never been easy, and 

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. - 

many agreed with Komer's apprehensions. A widely circulated National 
Intelligence Estimate, published shortly thereafter, detailed the fragile 
nature of political development in South Vietnam, characterizing it as 
"a day-to-day, month-to-month phenomenon for some time to come, with 
periodic upheavals and crises ^/that will/ threaten the entire process." 19/ 

Despite a cautiously optimistic approach to the prospects for a more 
stable political situation, the same ME identified serious potential 
sources of instability in the small nation. It saw regionalism as a 
factor whose influence might burgeon as political events quickened. The 
military domination of the political life of the country remained an 
explosive issue. Finally, United States presence and objectives remained 
a major consideration in analyzing the future behavior of the political 
actors in South Vietnam. Confidence in the American commitment and stead- 
fastness in our objectives could remain as a counterweight to disruptive 
SVN political effects and could at least tentatively submerge the polit- 
ically debilitating civilian-military rivalries, the bickering and 
jockeying for influence from within and without. 20 / 

3 . Fish ing for Ideas With a Dragnet: The Abortive NSAM o n 
Strategic Guidelines for Vietnam 

With the new year it was becoming increasingly clear that American 
resolution, our massive presence and the determined pursuit of our objec- 
tives in South Vietnam would heavily influence political events there, but 
the nature of our objectives, the political bases of our resolution and 
the desirable magnitude of our presence were less than clear. In an effort 
to crystallize our thinking in these areas and to provide some more care- 
fully delineated guidance for operations, the President asked Walt Rostow 
to float a draft NSAM embracing strategic guidelines for 1967 in Vietnam. 21/ 

The draft NSAM, too, in the Komer vein, was basically optimistic in 
tone, opening with the observation that "skillful use of U.S. forces has 
greatly improved out military position. .. .it is imperative that we mount 
and effectively orchestrate a concerted military, civil, and political 
effort to achieve a satisfactory outcome as soon as possible." 22/ Accord- 
ingly, the draft laid out our strategic aims in 1967* They were to: 

"A. Maximize the prospects for a satisfactory outcome in 
Vietnam by December 1967 or, if this is not possible, put us' 
in the best position for the longer pull. 

"B. Be equally suited to (a) forcing Hanoi to negotiate; 
(b) weakening the VC/lWA to the point where Hanoi will opt to 
fade away; or (c) at the minimum, making it patently clear to 
all that the war Is demonstrably being won. 

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"C. Complement cur anti-main force campaign and bombing 
offensive by greatly increased efforts to pacify the country- 
side and increase the attractive power of the GW - all these 
to the end of accelerating the erosion of southern VC strength 
and creating a bandwagon psychology among the people of SVN. 
This strategy is also well suited to exploiting any possibili- 
ties of a Hanoi/NLF split." 23/ 

To achieve these objectives, nine program areas each "requiring a 
maximum continuing effort" were listed. These included pacification, 
mounting a major national reconciliation program, pressing for emergence 
of a popularly based GVN, continuing to strive for other objectives of 
the Manila Program (local government, land reform, ant i- corrupt ion ) , and 
keeping the lid on the economy. More relevant .to our concerns were the 
four directly concerned with the land war: 

"**• Step up the Anti-Main For ce Spoiling Offensive, as 
made feasible by the increase in EW maneuver battalions. 

1. Introduce modest US forces into certain key 
Delta areas. 

2. Stress offensive actions to clear VC base areas 
and LOCs around Saigon. 

3- Lay on a major re-exarnination of our intelligence 
• on VC/nVA strength. 

"C. Make More Effective Programs to Limit Infiltration 

■• I I K Mi ^ 

a nd Impose a Cost on Hanoi for the Aggression . 

1. Refine the bombing offensive with respect to both 
efficiency of route harassment and quality of targets. 

2. Press forward with barrier system. 

3. Examine other ws.ys to apply military pressure 
on the Norths 

* * * * * 

"H. Devise a Pre -Negotiating and "Negotiating Strategy 
Consistent with the Above. 

1. Take such initiatives as will credibly enhance our 
posture that we are always ready to talk and ever alert for new 
avenues to negotiation. 

2. Vigorously pursue serious negotiating leads. 

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"I* M ount a Major Informati on Campaign to inform both 
the US electorate and world opinion of the realities in Viet- 
nam, finding ways of credibly to measure progress." 2hJ 

The first two (B. and C.) would require force increases of varying 
magnitudes, dependent upon whose estimates of enemy capability and U.S. 
relative effectiveness you accept — JCS or DoD T s or Komer's. Programs 
B. and C. patently endorse the offensive nature of our operations, but 
leave their extent or intensity undefined. Interpretation of the third . 
item (H. ) rests heavily upon what assumptions were held about negotia- 
tions; were they synonymous with military defeat and capitulation or 
something less emotionally loaded, and less satisfying, like compromise. 
Implicit in the last point (i.)? concerning public information, is the 
acceptance of a certain "reality" that we wanted to advertise, this 
being also the mood that pervades the entire NSAM -- victory is near. 

The principal interest in this paper, however, derives not from 
disagreement as to technique and programs (nor even their basic config- 
uration) but from the open discussion of basic objectives in South Vietnam 
which it prompted. Formal Department of Defense comment on the draft 
centered in two places: with McNaughton in ISA and in the JCS. 

McNaughton ! s comments seem to reflect a growing concern with our 
diminishing prospects of early success and a desire not to irreversibly 
lock ourselves into either any fixed strategy or excessive ground commit- 
ments. These views were apparently shared with the Secretary of Defense. 
In his draft reply to Rostov/ (through McNamara) McNaughton essentially 
"loads the dice" against significant alteration of the strategic concept. 
In the preamble paragraph he states that... 

"...The national commitment of the United States in South 
Vietnam (SVN), as stated in Manila, is that the South Viet- 
namese people shall not be conquered by aggressive force and 
shall enjoy the inherent right to choose their own way of life 
and their own form of government. The United States is com- 
mitted to continue our military and all other efforts, as firmly 
and as long as may be necessary, in close consultation with 
our allies until the aggression is ended." 25/ 

In the draft, the Assistant Secretary was painstakingly developing 
alternatives to continued widespread U.S. military involvement over time. 
His additions (or line-ins) placed emphasis upon participation by other 
Asian nations, development of a "rapid and effective" r/d effort, and 
continued. . . 

"••.reorientation of the bulk of RVNAF toward and into a 
steadily increasing role in R/D operations in coordination 
with regional and local civil and military forces. The goal 
is the establishment of security to permit revolutionary 
development to take place." 26/ 

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The reference to Manila was less than accidental, Paragraph 28 
of the Joint Communique for the conference issued on the 25th of 
October 1966 stated: 

"The other participating governments reviewed and 
endorsed these as essential elements of peace and agreed 
they would act on this basis in close consultation among 
themselves in regard to settlement of the conflict. In 
particular , they declared that Allied forces are in the 
Republic of Vietnam because that country is the object of 
aggression and its government requested support in the 
resistance of its people to aggression. They shall be with- 
drawn^ after close consultation, as the other side withdraws 
its forces to the North, and ceases infiltration, and as the 
level of violence thus subsides. Those forces will be with- 
drawn as soon as possible and not later than six months after 
the above conditions have been fulfilled." 

McNaughton noted that President Johnson himself, in private session with 
the Heads of State, had negotiated the language of this paragraph. According 
to McNaughton's account, "the President was determined to get the language 
in, including the reference to 'six months' (opposed by State, supported 
by me ) . " 27/ 

He also qualified statements in the White House draft which seemingly 
disregarded considerations of feasibility, for instance, adding that such 
increments of the barrier system "as are determined to be militarily and 
politically useful and feasible only" should be completed at the early 
date specified and that expansion of the scope of offensive operations 
should be done only "as made feasible by the increase in FW forces." These 
seemingly minor alterations loom significant as indicators of a subtle 
shift in approach by both McNamara and McNaughton — one which was more 
skeptical of the familiar projected claims of success and rapid solution 
to the South Vietnam problem. 

JCS reaction to the draft was three -fold. They wanted to not only 
"refine" the bombing offensive, but to "adjust the air a.nd naval offensive 
with respect to the extent and quality of targets." 28/ This was pre- 
dictable, but the deeper disagreement about national objectives was more 
difficult to foretell. This cleavage appeared over two points in the 
draft . 

The idea of developing any kind of contingency plan on how to handle 
VC/NLF in the approaching elections was abhorrent to the JCS. Just as 
distasteful was an enlargement of efforts to establish contacts with the 
VC/NLF. To them it wa, 


"...Inconsistent with the attainment of the US national 
objective. It is inconceivable that the VC, instilled with 

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ideals of communist domination for all of Vietnam, would 
peacefully contribute to shaping, the destiny of SVN in con- 
formity with democratic principles and without any foreign 
interference. To encourage contact with the VC would consti- 
tute a major shift in US policy in Southeast Asia which 
would certainly appear to the communists as a sign of weak- 
ness and lack of firmness of purpose and undermine the 
resolve of the GVN." 2§/ 

Furthermore, the JCS detected an unacceptable fraternization with the 
negotiating option which in their eyes might be justified by future 
attainment of some degree of representative government and political 
development. They stressed the "military role" in the GVN in both nation- 
building and national security, arguing that regardless of the eventual 
political outcomes and the success or failure of representative govern- 
ment, the extent of the present U.S. commitment had eliminated the option 
of "abandoning" the country on the grounds that "the government is not 
established by constitutional or legal processes and might be changed by 
illegal methods. 1 ' 30/ 

The crucial difference, however, arose over what the national objec- 
tives in South Vietnam should really be. In contrast to McNaughton's 
view, the Chiefs believed that the 

"...national objective of the United States in South 
Vietnam (SVN) is an independent nation free of communist 
subversion and able to determine its own government and 
national aspirations." 31/ 

and that to achieve this required three interdependent undertakings : 

"a. In the North - Take the war to the enemy by unremit- 
ting and selective application of US military power. 

"b. In the South - Seek out and destroy communist forces 
and infrastructure in concert with the GVN/FWMA.F. 

n c. Ration Building - Extend the secure areas of South 
Vietnam by coordinated civil/military operations and assist 
the GVN in building an independent, viable, noncommunist 
society." 32/ 


The JCS were actually insisting upon the achievement of a non- 
communist South Vietnam and their military aims accorded with that 
view. They were holding to the basic strategic concept written in 
JCSM 702-66, a month earlier, one which had elicited so little reaction 
from either McNamara or his staff. 33/ No doubt the resistance of 
the JCS was heavily influenced by the COMUSiWJV-CINCPAC reaction to the 

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draft NSAM. The language of the Pacific commanders had "been less 
cautious, and their message unmistakable -- we were militarily in 
South Vietnam to convincingly defeat the VC/iWA, that the war could 
be long and difficult, and the field commander should be granted the 
operational flexibility and resources he needed to do the job as he 
perceived it. To insure success, CINCPAC cabled, it was imperative 
that we get our guidance and objectives unequivocally and clearly laid 
down : 

f, A. The hard fact is that, even if there were no war 
in progress in Vietnam, many of the objectives listed in the 
civil and political fields could not be realized in the 19&7 
time frame. The draft paper does not assess the adequacy of 
resources to carry out the Program B. The objectives listed 
for accomplishment are so all inclusive that publication in 
a national policy paper, one likely to receive wide publicity, 
is to invite future criticism if many objectives are not 

"C. It could be interpreted that all aims and programs 
are to be pursued equally and simultaneously. It should be 
recognized that forces and other resources currently approved 
for South Vietnam do not provide the capabilities to accom- 
plish all these programs in 1967* 

"k. • There is a danger that the detailed and specific guidance 
in the paper would reduce the flexibility required by the 
operational commander in utilizing assets available to him 
to best accomplish his mission. The situation in Vietnam is 
fluid and dynamic requiring that decisions in use of forces and 
other assets be made in accordance with the dictates of the 
situation. It is therefore recommended that NSxAM be restricted 
to a clear, concise statement of national policy for Vietnam, 
accompanied by a broad statement of integrated military, civil 
and political objectives to be pursued in 1967 under that policy. 

"5. The long range implications of the proposed actions for 
I967 in Vietnam are of such magnitude that it is imperative 
that they be in consonance with our national objectives for 
South Vietnam. It is recommended that the NSAM stipulate in 
the preamble that 'actions taken to terminate hostilities 
shall be in accordance with our national objective to assist 
the goveri^ment of Vietnam and its armed forces to defeat 
ext ernally dire cted and supported communist subversion and 
aggression, and attain an independent non-communist society 
in South Vietnam functioning in a secure environment . ,ir 3^-/ 

We see that the problem of understanding and interpreting the country 1 s 
objectives in South Vietnam was not limited to the JCS-Secretary of 

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Defense-President trio, it went to the major field commanders charged 
with its execution as well. Events, as much conscious rational deci- 
sions, were to shape the outcome of the disagreement, but before the 
gap was closed^ and people began to understand (if not accept) the 
dyna.mic and complex nature of our objectives in South Vietnam the 
divergence between Washington policy and the ground direction of the 
war was to assume important proportions. 

k . The Strategic Concept Under Fire; Seeds of Doubt 

State Department concern about the current strategic concept 
paralleled the debate in DoD. A paper prepared in Under Secretary 
Katzehbach's office historically analyzed the evolution (or more pre- 
cisely non-evolution) of the strategic concept in Vietnam. It observed 
that : 

"Basic precepts behind the counterinsurgency doctrine 
have survived in principle but have been little applied in 
practice. As program has succeeded program, not only have 
the principal deficiencies in implementation become increas- 
ingly clear, but it has also become evident that these 
deficiencies have been essentially the same ones from the 
outset. They may be summarized as follows: 

'1. With rare exceptions arising from the 

attributes of individual commanders, the Vietnamese 
Army (ARVN) has never escaped from its conventional 
warfare mold. Both in its military tactics and in 
its relations with the people, it has all too often 
acted counter to the basic principles of counterinsur- 
gency rather than in support of them. The US military 
leadership in Vietnam has, on balance, done little 
to reorient ARVN toward counterinsurgency. In the 
meantime, the paramilitary forces, locally recruited 
and locally based and theoretically the backbone of 
any counterinsurgency effort, have been repeatedly 
ignored or misused. 

2. Despite elaborate planning and creation of 
machinery to execute a.nd sustain a combined political- 
military pacification campaign, relatively few Viet- 
namese leaders have clearly understood the goals of 
pacification or articulated them effectively through 
the supporting admini strat ive apparatus. Some leaders 
have viewed pacification largely in a military con- 
text while others, however committed to the political 
principles involved, have lacked either a pragmatic 
appreciation of their impact on the peasant or a 
willingness to approach pacification in revolutionary 


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3. As a result , the GVN, despite increasing US 
assistance in men and materiel, has been relatively inef- 
fectual in meeting the. Communist military and subversive 
threat at the rice-roots level. Pacification has thus far 
failed to give the peasant sufficient confidence in the 
GVN's ability to maintain security, the first prerequisite 
in pacification, or, in longer run, to redress basic econ- 
omic, political, and social inequities." 35/ 

The current strategic concept was viewed as a reaction to our basic 
assumption that the military and political situation in South Vietnam in 
the spring and early summer of 1965 was irretrievably lost unless the U.S. 
committed substantial combat forces and unless Hanoi was forced to cease 
its support of the Viet Cong. From this beginning emerged a current 
strategy which. . . _ 

"...divides the Vietnam conflict into two wars: (l) a 
conventional war against the main Communist forces in the 
northern provinces of South Vietnam and against their logistic 
resources in North Vietnam and (2) an unconventional war or 
counter insurgency effort against Communist control of the 
peasant in the southern provinces. The two wars are intended 
to be mutually supporting and pursued simultaneously, with 
relative equal priority. 

"The conventional war is an effort to obtain quick mili- 
tary results by purely military means. It seeks to reduce or 
terminate the infiltration of men and supplies into South 
Vietnam by continuing air strikes over North Vietnam and Laos, 
and to destroy regular North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong 
units and their logistic bases in the sparsely settled areas. 
In this war, the primary role is played by US combat forces 
deployed largely in the highlands area of Corps I and II 
where the bulk of North Vietnamese forces are committed, and 
where the enemy appears willing to engage in large formations. 
Major battles can occur without the danger of large civilian 
casualties. In support of their activities, the US forces 
maintain direct control of their own logistic, communications, 
and intelligence resources. In short, the highlands and the 
defense perimeters around certain strategic installations in 
effect constitute a US theater of operations. 

"The unconventional war or counter insurgency effort con- 
tinues to give priority to political-military pacification of 
the populated areas in the Mekong delta and coastal lowlands . 
It is thus a continuation of the long-term effort to give the 
population security and to win its support of the government 
by measures responsive to popular needs. These war areas 
remain under GVN control, despite the presence of . thousands 

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of US civilian and military advisors. ARVN, relieved of 
many of its combat and defense responsibilities elsewhere, 
. is theoretically able to commit more forces to pacification 
as well as search-and-destroy missions , directed against the 
Viet Cong mainforce. The paramilitary forces retain their 
normal village -hamlet defense and pacification responsibili- 
ties-" 36/ 

The author then turned to the problems in South Vietnam which he 
saw as the direct or indirect result of our strategic emphasis: 

"There is no clear delineation of the conventional and 
unconventional wars either along territorial or population 
lines. US combat forces have been increasingly committed 
in search-and-destroy operations even outside the highlands 
area, as far south as Long An and Hau Nghia provinces around 
Saigon and as far east as the coastal regions of Binh Dinh 
province. US marines around Danang, in attempting to secure 
and expand their defense perimeter, have attempted to engage 
in pacification operations, as have the Korean forces in 
Corps II. On balance, however, US combat forces remain 
essentially oriented toward conventional warfare, making 
adjustments (which are at times ingenious) as needed for the 
unusual physical settings in which their efforts take place. 

"ARVN meanwhile is 'also fighting essentially conventional 
war whether in sparsely settled areas or in populated ones 
such as the Mekong delta. Its commitment to pacification is 
negligible, and it continues to regard its mission essentially 
in conventional military terms. Even in areas where ARVN is 
engaged in pacification, the fairly low level of ARVN casualties 
shows that its commanders still remain unwilling to commit their 
troops in a manner best suited to finding the Viet Cong, and 
for periods of time sufficient to establish a realistic base 
of security from which pacification can begin. The principal 
if not the only security force in most pacification areas con- 
tinues to be the under-manned and inadequately trained para- 
military forces, which of all Vietnamese forces are now 
suffering the greatest number of killed-in-action casualties 
over the past year. 

"The claims of top US and GVN military officials notwith- 
standing, the waging of a conventional war has overriding 
priority, perhaps as much as 9 to 1, according to the personal 
judgments of some US advisors. Saturation bombing by artillery 
and airstrikes, for example, is an accepted tactic, and there 
is probably no province where this tactic has not been widely 
employed. ..." 37/ 

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The new concept which appeared to be emerging, of recommitment 
of ARVN infantry divisions to pacification primarily in and around- 
pacification areas did not, on the surface, appear to be anything but 
a long-term process , very sensitive to ARVN acceptance of the role. 
It failed the twin tests of being a panacea — it would not be fast, it 
would not be cheap. There was little doubt that most ARVN division and 
corps commanders continued to regard pacification operations as dull, 
less prestigious, and generally not in keeping with the basic mission, 
past tradition and organization of ARVN. This should not have been 
startling to the American observer -- after all, U.S. units and com- 
manders found pacification no more palatable, and they had nowhere near 
the same political or economic stakes in its consequences as their Viet- 
namese contemporaries . 

The conclusions of the paper were not heartening. State believed 
that even assuming that all the attitudinal problems of ARVN could be 
overcome, many of its basic weaknesses would undermine its effectiveness 
in pacification — just as it had in conventional combat. These included: 

"a) poor leadership, preoccupation with political man- 
euvering at the senior officer level, the lack of experienced 
junior officers whose recruitment and promotion is based more 
on considerations having to do with economic and family status 
than with motivation or ability and whose assignments fre- 
quently reflect the use of influence to obtain headquarters 
or other safe and prestigious posts, and the lack also of 


competent and experienced NCOs; 

TT b) poor morale (reflected not only in a continuous 
rise in desertions dating from at least 1962 but also in a 
very high battlefield missing-in-action rate) resulting from 
low pay rates 3 inadequate dependent housing, concern over 
the welfare of families, infrequent rotation of units in 
isolated outposts, and inadequate medical care; 

,f c) poor relations with the population who, on the one 
hand, have had little reason for confidence in the ability 
of the military to afford them any lasting protection and, 
on the other, have all too frequently been victimized by them; 

"d) low operational capabilities including poor coordina- 
tion, tactical rigidity, overdependence on air and artillery 
support arising in part from inadequate firepower, overdepen- 
dence on vehicular convoy, unwillingness to remain in the field 
at night or over adequately long periods, and lack of aggres- 
siveness." 38/ 

Deployment of U.S. forces to the highly populated Mekong Delta would, 
in the writer's eyes, carry potentially adverse political repercussions. 
MACV was criticized for underestimating the impa.ct on the grounds that 

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they would be operating in remote and relatively unpopulated areas, the 
same justification used to generate State support for large operations 
in the border regions. But "remote" did not necessarily mean "remote," 
as the memorandum explained: 

"...But even these areas., which do exist in the delta, 
are less remote and more populated than areas in the highlands 
where large US combat forces are currently committed. More- 
over, the unpopulated stretches between populated areas are 
| far smaller in size in the delta than in the highlands , and 

j ' therefore there is greater danger that US forces operating 

in unpopulated areas could be drawn in the populated areas. 
Nor is it entirely certain that US forces will restrict their 
missions to search-and~destroy operations against Viet Cong 
mainforces. Indeed, it Is to be expected that some US units 
will eventually participate in pacification, as in Danang for 
example, in order to protect the perimeters of US base facil- 
ities or encampments. As the size of the US force increases, 
it would be logical for MACV to attempt to expand these 
defense perimeters regardless of the proximity of populated 
areas. There is also the possibility that US commanders 
will be inclined to commit their units to pacification 
simply on the grounds that the Vietnamese are not doing the 
job efficiently. 

"Finally, although it is generally accepted that a mili- 
tary stalemate has existed for sometime in the Mekong delta, It 
is by no means certain that the GVN T s inability to shift the 
balance against Viet Cong forces in the area is the result of 
lack of manpower resources. The basic problem is the manner 
in which AEVN forces are deployed in the delta rather than in 
the number of ARW forces committed there. The current ratio 
of ARW to Viet Cong mainforces in Corps IV is already more than 
2:1, better than in any other Corps area, and, if plans to 
reorient ARW to pacification are implemented, the ratio of 
combat forces should theoretically improve in ARW 1 s favor since 
more ARW units would be committed against the Viet Cong for 
greater periods of time." 39/ 

In effect, the presence of large numbers of active U.S. units would 
not only risk civilian disruption and casualties, but may tempt U.S. 
units to "moonlight" in pacification, possibly alienating, or at least 
relieving the ARW primarily charged with the mission. It was in vogue 
in the United States at the time to number as one of the causes of ARW 
, combat ineffectiveness and lack of aggressiveness the rapid assumption 
by the United States of the major combat role, leading the Vietnamese to 
"let George do it." Katzeribach's staff seemed to sense the same danger 
in "too much" U.S. pacification. 


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The memorandum was directed toward a rethinking of strategic concepts — 
in that it failed. It seemed to resolve the problem of achieving a unified 
strategic concept by leaving the same undefined. As long as the crucial 
force deployment and political settlement questions could be deferred, a 
concept sufficiently ambiguous or undefined appeared to be the best one to 
preserve harmony and encourage continued support. However, the memorandum 
was useful to point up a basically faulty premise about ARVN effectiveness 
in the pacification/security mission. If they were inadequate to assess 
the pacification task, as Katzenbach's staff contended, then our strategy 
and our manpower requirements could become quite different than was origi- 
nally calculated as we pursued the elusive objective of "winning the war." 
As he astutely pointed out, the cleavage between the mainforce and guerrilla 
wars was more imagined than real, and we could not hope to win them seri- 
ally — they had to be controlled simultaneously or failing that, probably 
not at all. All of the clues were there, it only remained for someone to 
articulate the fear that so many decision-makers held -- massive U.S. 
forces, engaged in every activity, provided the only reasonable probability 
of "winning" in Vietnam. 

The NSAM effort was abortive, ko/ The evident division in DoD over 
the concept and objectives coupled with State T s lukewarm response to pro- 
ducing any clear definition of aims/concepts convinced the "White House 
that the best way to retain flexibility in South Vietnam and at home was 
to allow the ambiguity and uncertainty to continue. 

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1. It is of some interest that in early December COMJSMACV reported 
that for the previous five months ARVN had the following numbers 
of battalions with "minimally acceptable operational maneuver 
strength" (or k^O present for operations): 

Month Total Bns 

May 33 

June 35 

July " 31 

August 33 

September 52 

October 78 

See MACV 52^4, op^ cit. 

2. OASD/sA, "An Assessment of the Course of the War in Vietnam;' undated , 
but probably prepared in early December I967. 

3. Ibid, 

k. The Newjork Timers wrote that VC defections were up 82$ to 20,242 in 
19^S with 2,500 in each November and December. 

5. All of the above discussion on military indicators is from OASD/SA 
"Assessment," op. cit. , plus additional sources noted. 

6. The New York Times, 31 December 1966. 

7. One reaction from the "Hawk" side came from Chairman Mende3. Rivers 
of the House Armed Services Committee, who called on the U.S. to 
"flatten Hanoi if necessary and let world opinion go fly a kite." 
Concern in the columns focused upon a fear that the Johnson Adminis- 
tration might heed the cry, because, in Rivers' own words "...they 
have not ignored others in the past." The New York Times , 30 December 
1966 . 

8. The New York Times , 2 January I967. 

9* The New York Times, 2 January - 18 January 1967- 

-^- T he New York Times, 11 January 1967* He observed: "The Adminis- 
tration is embarking on a major military operation in the Mekong 
Delta. . .as far as I know this was never told to the American people 
or to Congress in the last two years as a prospective operation." 

11. The Washington Star , 10 January 19o7* 

12. The New York Times, 3 January I967. 


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13, The New York Times , 9 January I967. 
^* The Dail y News , 9 January I967. 

15. The New York Times , 11 January 1967- 

16. R. W. Komer, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: 
'Vietnam Prognosis for 1967-68," dated 29 November 1966. 

17. Ibid, 
18- Ibid. 

19. National Intelligence Estimate, Nr. 53-66, Sub j : "Problems of 
Political Development in South Vietnam Over the Next Year or So," 
dated 15 December I966. 

20. Ibid. 

21. Memorandum to Secretary of Defense and Acting Secretary of State 
from W. W. Rostow, no subject, dated 12 December 1966, with Draft 
NSAM, Subj: "Strategic Guidelines for I967 in Vietnam," dated 

10 December 1966, as an attachment • 

22. Ibid, 

23. Ibid. 
2k. Ibid, 

25. Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from John T. McNaughton, 
ASD(ISA), Subj: "Draft NSAM on Strategic Guidelines for I967 in 
Vietnam," ISA 1-20383/67, dated 20 January 1967. 

26. Ibid- 

27. "Manila Summit Conference Joint Communique" October 24-25, 1966. 
Copy in the McNaughton papers with annoted comments by McNaughton. 
Files in VNS 2, L. 

28. Emphasis added. JCSM 792-66, Subj: "Draft NSAM," dated 27 December 
1966. Comment for this JCSM was obtained from CINCPAC and COMUSMACV 
See JCS message 1363? I ] i20l8z December I966 and the reply CINCPAC to 
JCS, 200805Z December 1966. 

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29. JCSM 792-66, op. cit. 

- • 

30. Ibid . A choice of wording directly attacking the "inherent right 
to choose" insertion made by ISA. 

31. Ibid. 

32. Ibid. 

33. JCSM 702-66, o^ cit . , dated k November 1966. See Section I, C, 
pp. 32 for a discussion of the memorandum. The Joint Strategic 
Objectives Plan for FY I969-I976 (JSOP 69-76), Appendix A to 
JCSM 798-66, dated 30 December 1966 prepared concurrently with 
JCSM 792-66 is vague on objectives, but repeats a view that mili- 
tary winning in SVN was vital to the collective security posture 
of the United States. 

3k. CINCPAC message 200805Z December 1966 to JCS. 

35. "Strategic Concept for Vietnam: An Analysis," State Department, 
unsigned memorandum believed to have been prepared by Richard C. 
Holbrooke for Under Secretary Katzenbach, dated 12 December 1966. 

36. Ibid. 
37. ' Ibid. 

38* Ibid. A December CIA report substantiated these views about the 
ARVN effectiveness and congenital weaknesses. 

39- Ibid. 

kO. The ASD(lSA) draft of McNaughton's was approved and forwarded by 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance on 28 January 1967- See: Memoran- 
dum from Deputy Secretary of Defense for W. W. Rostow, Subject: 
"Draft NSAM on Strategic Guidelines for 1967 in Vietnam," dated 
28 January 1967. 

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!♦ Reclamas to Program U - Fleshing Out 

The turn of the year policy debate over basic U.S. objectives 
and strategic concepts was played out in the midst of a continuing 
dialogue within DoD, one which focused upon the adequacy and composi- 
tion of Program k* An exchange of memoranda between the JCS and 
SecDef in December I966 and January I967 fleshed out the profile of 
the program to near the 1+70,000 -man figure. 

The major reclama to Secretary McNamara's 18 November Program h 
decision was a sharply worded JCSM in which the Chiefs attacked the 
premise (ostensibly supported by the Secretary of Defense) that the 
restoration of economic stability in SVN was of overriding importance. 
They not only took issue with the use of the piaster ceiling employed 
to develop the force limit, but firmly regarded the ceiling of 1+70,000 
men as inadequate and restrictive, a situation which might necessitate, 
in their words, "subsequent adjustments," especially in view of the 
I CTZ tactical situation. Additionally, they noted: 

"...projected opening of land lines of communication 
(LOCs) in II, III, and IV CTZs, important to military 
operations and the Revolutionary Development Program, will 
be curtailed. US operations in the IV CTZ will be impeded 
and the capability to conduct riverine operations in this 
area will be reduced to a critical degree. The over-all 
US military capability to support extension of control by 
the Government of Vietnam in SVN will be limited and flexi- 
bility will be curtailed. . . . 

"....while the restoration of economic stability in 
SVN is most important, the achievement of such stability 
will depend primarily on the capabilities of military and 
paramilitary forces to defeat the enemy 3 to provide the secure 
environment required for political., economic, and social 
development, and, concurrently, to provide essential impetus 
• to the Revolutionary Development Program. Further, the Joint 

Chiefs of Staff believe that, in comparison to the forces 
requested by them on h November I966, the forces listed in 
Program ■+ will reduce the military capability to achieve 
our national objectives and execute our military tasks in 
SVN. The rate at which Program h can undertake area control, 
open land LOCs, and provide essential security for Revolu- 
tionary Development and other associated programs will be 

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slower than was estimated with the forces previously 
requested. The intensity and frequency of combat opera- 
tions may therefore be restricted, resulting in a 
slower rate of progress in SVN, some loss of momentum 
in operations, and possibly a longer war at increasing 
costs in casualties and materiel...." l/ 

Despite such protestations and recounting of dire outcomes, the 
recommendations of JCSM 739~66 primarily concerned no more than direct 
substitution of units below the VfO^OOO-man ceiling (with no increase 
in piaster expenditures) and these were approved by the Secretary of 
Defense & week later. 2/ 

While the actual numbers of troops and amounts of equipment involved 
in the reclamas were minor, the underlying nature of the dispute over 
Program 4, of which the small adjustments were barely surnptomatic, had 
been more basic from its inception and both the press and Capitol Hill 
were picking up the tempo of debate between the Chiefs and their civilian 
superiors. General Wheeler was busy denying in a press conference that 
the civilian chiefs prevented General Westmoreland from receiving the 
troops he felt necessary. Simultaneously, Secretary Rusk was spending 
a long four hours before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defending 
the Administration's basic policies and those pursued by its Vietnam 
commander. 3/ 

Two days later a poll of nineteen predominantly hawkish Senators 
revealed two basic areas of consensus; 'they believed we should give our 
military leaders more support (presumably troops) and we should hit 
North Vietnam harder (notably in Haiphong). More political pressure 
was generated on the troop issue by Senator Stennis 1 declaration that 
General Westmoreland's requests for troops should be met, "even if it 
should require mobilization or partial mobilization." Stennis publicly 
estimated that we were 100,000 men shy of the total needed to contain 
the Viet Cong militarily. A similar figure often appeared in classified 
studies at the time, h/ 

A public statement by Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson, 
probably intended to be reassuring, only heightened the sense of cost in 
manpower and national energy which the war might require. He said that 
withdrawal of U.S. units may be possible in 1^-2|- years because enemy 
strength was being broken down into small units that could be contained 
by smaller American units. J?/ Few people, as the commentators were 
quick to observe, were enamored with the thought of any American units 
in Vietnam in 2.\ years, whatever the size! As if to underline the costs 
of an increasingly expanding war, Operation CEDAR FALLS in the Iron Tri- 
angle had produced a record number of U.S. deaths in a single week, ikk, 
along with 1,0^ wounded and 6 missing. The prospect of suffering 1,19^- 
casualties per week for the next indeterminate number of years was hardly 
an appealing prospect, and a substantial number of the American people 

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seemed to believe that political restraints imposed upon our military 
leaders were the chief cause of so little concrete progress. 'This 
belief and the potential untapped political support it revealed, was to 
be a powerful lever in the hands of the JCS as they pressed for force 
increases during Program 5-6/ 

Manpower, though, was becoming the crucial issue — its political 
ramifications were enormous, and politicians were prone to best detect 
them. Senator Ted Kennedy delivered a major speech on the draft to the 
National Press Club, urging reform. On the same day, Senator Mike 
Mansfield reintroduced his resolution calling for a "substantial reduc- 
tion 1 ' in the number of American troops in Europe, jj Men, money and 
political will were the crux issues of the domestic debate; by the end 
of January all three had highlighted the news. The troop issue out- 
standing between the JCS and McNamara had been wrung out in public, 
$73.1 billion had been asked for defense and on 23 January, The Arrogance 
of Power was published. 8/ 

2. Vietnam Strategy: Attention Rivets on the Borders and Sanctuaries 

We have already described how MA.CV attention shifted to the borders 
and sanctuaries in late 1966. By January and February of the next year 
(1967) , C0MUSMA.CV and CINCPAC were riveted upon these crucial areas where 
major enemy units were being found and fought. 

COMUSMACV assumed that a new phase of the struggle was beginning, 
one which demanded that we reexamine our military strategy. To take 
advantage of the existing opportunities which he detected, he decided 
to mount a "general offensive" designed to: 

"A. Maintain the momentum of the offensive on a seven- 
day-a-week, around-the-clock basis. 

!T B. Decimate enemy forces, destroy his base areas and 
disrupt the VC infrastructure. 

T, C. Interdict enemy land and water lines of communica- 
tion, denying him the opportunity to re supply and reinforce 
his units and bases in South Vietnam. 

"D. Open, secure and use land and water lines of communica- 


"E. Convince the enemy, through the vigor of our offen- 
sives and accompanying psychological operations, that he faces * 

"F. Support political and economic progress in SVN.... !f 9/ 

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He envisioned a sustained series of offensives against enemy base 
areas and main forces thereby destroying the VC/lWA combat potential, 
and threatening his supply systems , which he described as "the Achilles 
Heel of the VC/lWA." Westmoreland provided a solution to the build-up 
problem at the end of the NVN-Laos funnel, but again no real solution 
for stopping the flow: 

".•.The enemy is dependent on the buildup of weapons, 
equipment, food and medical supplies which are located in his 
base areas. Destruction of established enemy base areas 
denies him the opportunity to rest, retrain, recuperate and 
resupply easily. Thorough, meticulous search in areas in 
which our forces are operating is a key to the successful 
accomplishment of this important task. If we can neutralize 
the enemy base areas and prevent replenishment of the mater- 
ial captured or destroyed, we will have taken a long stride 
toward ultimate victory...." 10/ 

Westmoreland also stated what was to become a growing concern among 
Americans at all echelons: 

"...It is essential that the effectiveness of RVNAF be 
improved. Concurrently, the image of the military forces of 
South Vietnam in the eyes of the world and especially in the 
United States must reflect the contribution which has been 
and is being made to the overall effort in SVN. Much of the 
press reporting on this subject is unfair and indicates a 
lack of understanding of the RVNAF contribution. This, in 
turn, has a deleterious effect on RVNAF morale and effective- 
ness. RVNAF must be to realize that there are military 
tasks as well as non-military tasks associated with RD. Every 
influence must be used to get RVNAF to cease conducting an 
intermittent war and instead to maintain continuous pressure 
on enemy forces. We must insure that maximum use is made of 
RVN forces in all our planned major offensives and that they 
are given tasks which are important and which will contribute 
to their continued growth potential. We then must insure that 
full credit is given to their accomplishments in each of these 
operations." 11/ 

COMUSMACV's "command guidance" from which this is quoted, must be 
taken in context; ringing proclamations like these are directed to the 
troops. They are the things command histories are made of, but they 
seldom provide an undistorted picture of tactical or strategic reality. 

The 1967 MACV Campaign Plan had focused upon the areas outlined 
in the CCMJSMACV message, but it contained less bandwagon psychology 
and more careful evaluation of enemy capabilities and strategy. The 
Campaign Plan had been broadly based upon We stmor eland f .s assessment 



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of the enemy T s situation and his strategy, views which he repeated 
in a year end cable to General Wheeler and Admiral Sharp. 12/ 

He wrote: 

"...Forces currently available to the enemy in SVN 
as identified in MACV order of battle are nine division 
.headquarters 5 3^ regimental headquarters, 152 combat 
battalions, 3^- combat support battalions, 196 separate 
companies, and 70 separate platoons totaling some 128,600, 
plus at least 112,800 militia and at least 39* 175 political 
cadre. The principal threats posed are in the DMZ area, 
the Chu-Pong region, and the Tay-Ninh/phuoc Long area of 
northern III CTZ. Although enemy forces in these areas 
have been punished in operations during 1966, they have 
not been destroyed and are continuing efforts to reinforce, 
re supply, and plan for resumption of operations in a 
winter-spring campaign. Enemy capabilities throughout 
SVN a,re summarized in the following paragraphs: 

"A. Attack. The enemy can attack at any time 
selected targets in I, II, and III CTZ in up to division 
strength and in IV CTZ in up to regimental strength, 
supported by local force and guerrillas. Simultaneously, 
he can continue harassing attacks throughout SVN. 

(1) In I CTZ, he can attack objectives in the 
DMZ area (Quang Tri Province) with elements of the 32te 
and 3^-lst NVA divisions supported by one separate regiment. 
Additionally, he can attack objectives in Quang Tin or 
Quang Ngai Provinces with the 2d NVA division and two regi- 
ments of the 3d NVA division. In Thua Tien and Quang Nam 
Provinces he can attack in up to regimental strength. 

(2) In II CTZ, he has .the capability to attack in 
Western Pleiku, Southern Kontum, or Northern Darlac Provinces 
with elements of the 1st and 10th NVA divisions, in Northern 
Binh Dinh Province with one regiment of the 3d NVA Division, 
and in Phu Yen and Northern Khahh Hoa Provinces with elements 
of the two regiments of the 5th NVA Division. 

(3) In III CTZ, he can attack with the 9th VC 
and possibly the 7th NVA Divisions in Tay Ninli, Binh Long, 
Binh Duong, or Phuoc Long Provinces, and in Phuoc Tuy and 
Southern Long Khanh Provinces with elements of the two 
regiments of the 5th VC Division. He also can sabotage 

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GVN and EW shipping transiting the Rung Sat Special Zone 
with a Sapper Battalion; harass installations and LOC's 
in Gia Ding Province with elements of the I65A VC Regi- 
ment. He has the capability of continuing his terror 
campaign in Saigon/cholon. 

(h) In IV CTZ, he can attack in up to regi- 
mental strength in Chuong Thien and Dinh Tuong Provinces, 
and in up to reinforced battalion strength throughout 
the rest of the CTZ. Militia and guerrilla forces pre- 
dominate, and emphasis is on harassing attacks and local 
actions to consolidate and extend his control...." 13 / 

Westmoreland also expected what he labeled "political attack" and 
"economic attack" to continue. These he described as efforts to... 

"...Destroy the effectiveness of hamlet, village, 
district, provincial, and national governments by 
elimination, intimidation, and subversion of GVN offi- 
cials ; discredit and erode GW political authority at j 
all levels by conducting propaganda attacks against 
elected and appointed GVN officials and against GVN 

"...Enemy to intensify efforts to impose an econ- 
omic blockade against the GVN by denying the latter access 
to its own resources; conduct overt and covert operations 
throughout SVN against targets of vital economic signifi- 
• cance to the maintenance and growth of the GVN economy; 
stimulate inflation by diverting commodities destined for 
SVN markets and by denying commodities from markets through 
interdiction and harassment of LOC's; and undermine the 
people's confidence in SVN currency by propaganda and 
possible counterfeiting." Ik/ 

COMUSMA.CV then addressed the crucial question of enemy reinforce' 
ment capability: 

"...The enemy has the demonstrated capability to 
reinforce in SVN by infiltrating personnel and units 
from NVN at a rate of about 8,^00 men per month and by 
in-country recruitment of about 3? 500 per month in VC 
Main and Local Forces. In the tactical sense, his depen- 
dence on foot movement normally precludes major reinforcement 
on the battlefield beyond attack forces initially committed. 
Defensively, he normally conducts holding actions to enable 
extrication of the main body rather than reinforcing. 

(l) In I CTZ, he can reinforce his attack or 
defense through the DMZ and from Laos within three to ten 

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days after commencing movement with three divisions, 
three infantry regiments, and eight infantry battalions. 
He can reinforce his attack or defense with one infantry 
division from Binh Dinh Province in II CTZ and one infan- 
try regiment from Kontum Province in II CTZ in twelve days 
after commencing movement. Many of these units are presently 
under strength. 

(2) in II CTZ, he can reinforce his attack or 
defense in Northern II CTZ within ten days by elements 
of one infantry division from Southern I CTZ and in 
Southern II CTZ within five to ten days after commending 
movement by up to two regiments from III CTZ. 

(3) In III CTZ, he can reinforce his attack or 
defense in the Northern portion with three separate 
battalions from II CTZ and with one regiment from IV CTZ 
within three to ten days after commencing movement. 

(h) Preponderance of militia and local forces 
in IV Corps and the reliance upon encroachment through 
local and harassing action makes large unit reinforcement 
unlikely in IV CTZ " 15/ 

COMJSMA.CV continued by divining the enemy 1 s overall strategy:. 

"...The conclusion to be drawn from the enemy's 
strength Increase of some ^-2,000 during I966 is that 
despite known losses, he has been able to maintain a pro- 
portional counter buildup to the growth of US/FWMA. forces. 
Sources of this increase are in-country conscription and 
foot infiltration down the trails from NVN through the 
DMZ, but principally through Laos and the Cambodian exten- 
sion. To understand what the enemy is doing and is likely 
to do in the coming year, it is essential to understand 
his objectives, strategy, and major tactics, all of which 
derive from the principles of insurgency warfare (or 
"Wars of National Liberation") which essentially are 
political in nature and which have been described by 
Mao Tse Tung, Vo Nguyen Giap, and others such as Chi 
Guevara with clarity and conviction. To aid in conveying 
this picture I have summarized in the succeeding sub- 
paragraphs my estimate of his overall strategy and its 
probable continued application. 

"A. Objectives: The enemy 1 s objectives in 
SVN may be expressed under two dual headings: to 
extend his control over the population of SVN and to 

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prevent the GVN from controlling that population; to 
reduce the will to resist of the EKF/fWMAJ? and their 
governments and correspondingly to strengthen his own 
posture and will. 

J . "B- Strategy: The enemy's favored doctrine 

of "strategic mobility" has been the subject of debate in 
NVN. Politburo member Nguyen Chi Thanh has held that the 
proper application is to initiate mobile warfare with 
simultaneous attacks throughout SVN. Defense Minister 
Vo Nguyen Giap, whose view has prevailed as soon by our 
experience, favors a "defensive/offensive" version of 
strategic mobility consisting of these factors: 

(1) Developing strong, multi-division 

j forces in dispersed regions accessible to supplies and 


(2) Enticing AF/FWMA. forces into pre- 
pared positions where dug -in communist forces may inflict 
heavy casualties upon them. 

(3) Conducting concurrent, intensified 
guerrilla and harassment pressure counter-wide to tie 
down our forces, destroy small units, attack morale, 
and extend his control. 

n k. Evaluation: 

"A. Present enemy dispositions, logistics, and 
level of combat indicate a continued adherence to the 
doctrine of strategic mobility implemented by Giap T s 
"defense/offensive" major tactics. Our intelligence does 
not indicate a change in enemy strategy, tactics, or 
weapons now or in the coming year, although this possi- 
bility remains under continuous scrutiny. Specifically, 
we have no evidence of an intent to fragment his main- 
forces and revert exclusively to guerrilla-type operations . 

"B. The enemy was hurt during I966 in many 
areas, and his principal concentrations near sanctuaries 
at the DMZ, in the Chu Pong region, anc* in the Tay Ninh/ 
Binh Long areas have been contained by our preemptive 
operations as a result of which he has suffered heavy 
losses. He is avoiding major contact by fighting defen- 
sively when forced to do so, and attempting to rebuild 


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and reinforce for winter-spring campaign operations. It 
would be premature to assume that an apparent decrease in 
activity in December just prior to holiday stand-downs is 
indicative of a change in trend. Further, it would be 
erroneous to. conclude that VC Main Force and NVA formations 
are no longer dangerous, that their unit integrity has been 
destroyed , or that their logistical capability has fallen 
below that needed to sustain his war of conquest by attrition. 

M C. On level of battalion imbalance the enemy 
has maintained throughout 1966 is about 1 day in 30* /si£/ This 
level is consistent with his strategy of conserving his 
forces while attriting US/FWMA. forces , and is within his 
capability to support logistically. If forced to a higher 
level such as 1 day in 15, he will encounter difficulty. 

"D. It is probable that the enemy during the 
coming year will attempt to infiltrate men and supplies 
into SVN by sea, through Lacs and Cambodia, and across 
the DMZ to: Counter-balance the U8/FWMAF build-up; main- 
tain a credible threat posture, attrite friendly forces and 
determination by inflicting casualties and prolonging the 
conflict; maintain and promote expansion of the insurgency base 
(intra-structure^ic7 and militia); and continue his pro- 
tracted war to control the people of SVN." 16 / 

The emphasis in the assessment is unmistakable — the crucial 
strategic areas would continue to be the highland border areas, the 
DMZ-I CTZ area and the sanctuaries of Laos and Cambodia. The 1966 
MACV Command History reveals that the enemy camp envisioned the high- 
lands of MR5 as a "killing zone" where the mountainous and. juggled terrain 
favored VC/WA operations; additionally the area was comfortably close 
to buildup areas near the DMZ and the secure areas in Laos and Cambodia. 17/ 

When General Westmoreland claimed to have "taken the initiative" he 
usually appeals to have referred to the manner in which FW forces (U.S. 
in particular) had prohibited the shift by.VC/FVA into what counterinsur- 
gent scholars call the "final battle of annihilation phase." MACV evi- 
dence indicated that VC/WVA were prepared to do this as far back as I965. 
However, as an alternative (and this remained an important MACV operating 
assumption), MACV believed that the enemy was attempting to build up 
large forces In certain geographically distant areas -- again in accordan_2e 
with Giap ! s version of "strategic mobility." These areas were Quong Tri 
Province in I CTZ and the highland border areas in II CTZ. It also 
appeared that the opponent might create a holding force between the Delta 
and highlands (in III CTZ) to pin down friendly units and prevent FWMAF 
from reinforcing against the main threat in the highlands. 18/ An 

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American strategy intent upon retaining the initiative (or gaining it) 
would logically concentrate upon enemy actions which promised to contest 
it. Giap's creation of "killing grounds" and "holding forces" were the 
kind of initiatives which COMUSMACV "believed he had to disrupt ("spoil") 
before they materialized as integral parts of a coordinated strategy. 
This kind of thinking would lead U.S forces to the border region battles, 
the clearing of in-country redoubts and sanctuaries and to major unit 
commitments in I CTZ in the North. 

One Pacific commander during this time period, General Beach, put 
his views on strategy and escalation in unequivocal terms. Determinedly, 
he argued that we must "win" the war, and he outlined a plan which magni- 
fied the issues central to the CGMUSMA.CV strategy by its direct presentation 
of the major ground strategy issues -- the sanctuaries, the infiltration 
(and its relationship to the bombing), and the course which he believed 
would best counter the enemy's strategy of tying down large numbers of 
our forces away from the sensitive populated areas. 19/ 

The USARPAC commander also felt that operations in the base areas.... 

"...must be pursued on a sustained basis and must fully 
penetrate, thoroughly cover, and sanitize these areas. Sub-. -> 
sequent ly, these areas must be denied to the enemy's reentry 
by leaving behind occupying forces. Concurrently, forces 
should be deployed astride major routes the enemy habitually 
uses between these bases and to his sanctuaries to interdict 
.his .movements ,-. If the ..enemy will stand. an3 fight .anywhere, he 
will stand and fight for these bases if they are seriously 
threatened. Moreover, serious inroads into the enemy supply 
base in SVN would tend to force the local guerrilla out of 
his lair to provide increased support to the main forces, thus 
facilitating our efforts to find, fix and destroy him. Des- 
truction of .enemy in-country bases and tactical stockpiles 
will have the most immediate adverse effect on enemy opera- 
tions in SVN. COMUSMACV 1 s campaign plan envisions such 
operations. The suggestion of this headquarters relates 
to ensuring that we penetrate the base areas completely and 
.then leave forces behind to prevent reoccupancy by the 
enemy. ..." 20, 

Beach accepted the "killing ground/holding" version of the enemy 
strategic plan noting that: 

"-..The enemy is developing large forces in bases or 
sanctuary north of the EMZ near I CTZ, and on Cambodia, in 
the vicinity of Chu Pong Massif bordering II CTZ, and 
opposite Tay Nihh/Binh Long Provinces in III CTZ. These 
bases and forces, now politically beyond our reach, will 


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pose a constant and serious threat. The enemy will attempt 
to tie down large numbers, of our forces to preclude their 
support of RD and conduct of offensive operations as well 
as draw them into engagements staged in his favor. Our 
forces must not meet the enemy where we cannot engage him 
decisively. Rather, we should keep him under surveillance 
and be prepared to concentrate rapidly to engage him at a 
time and on ground of our choosing...." 2l/ 

Infiltration also occupied his thoughts , hut he was concerned lest 
our efforts elsewhere become weakened by an undue emphasis on stemming 
the flow. 

"...I concur with your position to resist pressures to 
devote a great share of our energies and resources to trying 
to stem the flow of men and materiel into SW from the North. 
It is virtually impossible to stop or appreciably impede infil- 
tration into SVN with ground forces now available or programmed 
for the theater, especially in light of the contiguous sanctu- 
aries the enemy now enjoys. Although it would be desirable 
to stop or measurably impede infiltration, such action is not 
imperative to our winning a military victory. Moreover, main- 
taining that long and difficult LOC saps a sizeable measure 
of the enemy 1 s effort and resources. It has, assuredly, exacted 
its toll on the fighting capabilities of HVA units. Our air 
and naval interdiction operations must be continued at the 
•present level and, i£ possible ... ''ey must be exj ad. Al- 
though not in themselves capable of quelling infiltration, 
their effects against the enemy and his movement of personnel 
and equipment to the South are appreciable." 22, 

While Beach 1 s pessimism about stopping the infiltration jibes with 
that of COMUSMACV and CINCPAC, his view of how it would affect the 
chances of military victory were surely hot. If killing VC/lWA was 
to be the indicator of military success or "victory," could not an unim- 
peded infiltration keep troops coming faster than they could be killed? 
And furthermore, could not free (or freer) flow of supplies degrade your 
kill capability/unit cost, e.g., your kill ratio could be adversely 
affected by the improved status of his equipment and logistics which the 
infiltration afforded. These negative aspects were not discussed, but 
surely if Beach clearly believed that the infiltration was jiot crucial, 
he would not fa&ve evinced less concern about the sanctuary routes and 
the bombing. He closed with two observations: 

"...Our country harbors a, natural desire to ease the hard- 
ships in the Vietnam conflict. The military, however, must press to 


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go all out at all levels in SVN if we are to win. We are 
faced with a full blown and difficult war and our govern- " 
ment has committed a huge amount of combat power to this 
conflict, yet we are still a long way away from achieving 
our objectives. If we are to reach an acceptable military 
decision in Vietnam, we must not permit our operational 
tactics to reflect the reticence which currently character- 
izes some bodies of public and official opinion. Our ground 
forces must take the field on long term, sustained combat 
operations, We must be prepared to accept heavier casualties 
in our initial operations and not permit our hesitance to 
take greater losses to inhibit our tactical aggressiveness. 
I f greater hardships are accepted now we will, in the long 
run, achieve a military success sooner and at less overall 
cost in lives and money. . . . 

"in summary, it is my opinion that the MA.CV campaign 
plan for 1967 is adequate to meet the anticipated enemy 
threat. However, within the plan's overall concept four 
aspects of offensive action must be emphasized. First, 
we must relentlessly attack and destroy enemy base areas 
in SVN. Secondly, we must avoid pinning down sizeable forces 
against his border-sanctuary areas. Rather, we should deal 
with forays by his major forces into SVN at times and loca- 
tions of our choosing. Thirdly, we must press forward with 
an aggressive effort to destroy the guerrilla and his under- 
,.., .ground' government .ii: support oa ^revolutionary development. 
. Finally, we must avoid devoting too great a measure of our • 
effort to ant i- infiltration at the expense, of more important 
operations. We should continue and, if possible, expand 
our air and naval interdiction of his infiltration system." 23/ 

3. Vietnam St rat egy: On the Grour.i 

On the ground, large unit operations increased during January to 
3*1-1 5 but the number having "significant results" decreased for the third 
consecutive month (from 2h to 19) • Total enemy killed reached a new 
monthly high of 5? 95^ contributing to a total loss figure of 10,1*40, 
also a wartime high. 2k/ Major military operations in January did 
not yet clearly reflect the thinking Westmoreland had revealed in his 
early January assessments and strategic prognosis; evidently MA.CV was 
still in the planning stage preparing for the major operations of February 
and March on the borders and in the sanctuaries. Furthermore, the magni- 
tude of the threat in the DMZ-I CTZ that was to prompt the massive dis- 
location of troops to the North under TF OREGON in April was not yet 
clear, and operations were moving slow motion. 

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Operation CEDAR FALLS in the Iron Triangle, which "began on 8 Janu- 
ary, was the most significant operation of the month and the largest 
operation of the war in terms of forces employed. The operation was 
aimed at clearing the Triangle, an area denied to the GVN for over 20 
years. In the estimation of the MACV staff it gained outstanding 
results, capturing large numbers of weapons, ammunition and other war 
materials, plus nearly a half -million pages of enemy documents. 25/ MACV 
concluded that CEDAR FALLS had destroyed the Iron Triangle as a secure 
VC base area (although the operation which superseded CEDAR FALLS, 
JUNCTION CITY, was in basically the same area). 

Operation THAYER II conducted by the 1st Cavalry Division in Binh 
Dinh Province reported killing over 500 enemy, the second consecutive 
month such a figure was reached in that province. FAIRFAX, an open-ended 
operation which was to continue in one form or another for months, aimed 
at destroying enemy forces and eliminating the VC infrastructure in Gia 
Dinh Province southeast of Saigon was "meeting significant results." 
Operation ADAMS in Phu Yen Province, a "search and destroy rice harvest 
security and road clearing operation" was specifically designed "to pro- 
vide a shield behind which Revolutionary Development ./was/ progressing." 26/ 
This was the precursor of the USMC Operation DESOTO in the Quang Ngai salt 
flats later that month. In preparation for DESOTO, ROK Marines conducted 
Operation SEINE in Quang Ngai, a ten-day search and destroy operation, 
which killed over 110 enemy in the period. The most significant RVNAF 
operations were conducted in the Capital Military District and in IV 
CTZ. 27/ Three- areas -were. being closely watched for increased enemy | 

» activities, possibly large unit operations. In I CTZ the enemy troop I 

i build-up, resupply harassment, and reconnaissance increased in the DMZ 

• area. Elements of the NVA 32^th and 3^-lst Divisions were confirmed as f 

I infiltrated south into Quang Tri Province. From every indication there 

would be future widespread enemy activity in that area. Enemy forces ' 

in II CTZ continued to evade friendly forces throughout the month, although 
the NVA NT 1 and NT 10 divisions located near the Kontum/pieiku border | 
• were believed preparing to move, or actually moving, into those provinces. i 
In III CTZ, despite the disruptive effects of CEDAR FALLS in the Iron j 
Triangle, there were strong indications that elements of six VC/lWA div- 
isions were preparing for future offensive operations in the Tay Ninh- 
. Binh Long -Binh Tuong Province areas . 28/ 

January was characterized by the insertion of more ARVN battalions 
into the role of direct support of revolutionary development for 19^7 • 
In-country, there were 120 ARVN infantry battalions assigned to 10 divi- 
sional tactical areas and two special zones. Of these, 50 were to have 
been assigned missions of direct support of revolutionary development 
for 1967« Operational control of these RD battalions varied throughout 
the country and included command under the province chief, the regi- 
mental commander, special zone commander or the division commander. In 

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addition j three ranger , one marine and three airborne "battalions were 
to have been assigned a mission of direct support of RD. There were 
eight U„S. battalions with an RD mission and other FWMA.F contributed 
three battalions. 29/ Some American observers, however, were less 
than pleased with the ardor for RD which the Vietnamese were displaying. 
One source in III CTZ observed that: 

"...The late I966 enthusiasm which helped to launch 
I967 RD progress has yet to work its way down to the dis- 
trict and village level where the impact must be realized. 

"The monthly meeting of the III CTZ RD council, sched- 
uled for 3 February, was postponed, probably due to prepar- 
ations for TET. The efficiency of the RD cadre teams 
continues in most areas to be marginal. Since the success 
of the entire I967 hamlet program will be largely dependent 
upon the performance and accomplishments of these teams, 
their efficiency must be improved...." 30/ 

Such views undoubtedly contributed to the basic uneasiness about whether 
ARW could (or would) "cut the RD mustard," a fear voiced by Holbrooke 
a month earlier. 

Briefly, analyzing the pattern of operations (see "Major Operations 
and Approximate Locations," next page) some sixty-two of the United States 
maneuver battalions in Vietnam were engaged at some time on what MACV 
I termed "large operations . n Realizing that th-: criterion ..for large opera- 

I * tions of "100 or more enemy dead" is not necessarily the best for our 

1 purposes, and that such actions were influenced by the monsoon patterns, 

I at least a rough picture of the operational center of gravity can be 

. developed. Of the sixty-two battalions so engaged, twenty- six were 

I ■ participating on missions which had an RD component -- either protecting j 
( the harvest, screening the local population, or keeping routes open so , 

the crops could reach market. Thus, the U.S. was devoting approximately 
25-30$ °f i^ s forces in January I967 to RD effort country-wide, although 
this simple statistic is misleading because some of the operations listed 
were combination search and destroy /RD actions. No major ARVU. co mbat 
operations were specifically designed to support RD objectives, although 
as we noted earlier, on a battalion level basis an increasing number of 
Vietnamese units were being assigned such tasks. 31/ 


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

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h . San ctuaries Revisited: Renewed and Heightened Concern About 
Laos and Cambodia 

As the ground war pursued the path just described, concern about 
the infiltration and the importance of the sanctuaries deepened. On 
18 January CINCPAC had come into the JCS with a request to expand the 
bombing in NOT to twenty-five "remunerative targets" to counter infil- 
tration. 32 / This request was followed on 25 January by a detailed 
cable addressing the broader range of ant i- infiltration measures. After 
pleading for a more "balanced" program, the message turned to a major 

"...The enemy's capability to supply his forces in 
SOT has been degraded by our air interdiction campaign in 
SOT, Laos and NOT, and by our offensive ground operations 
in SVN. The confusion of his supply situation may account, 
in part, for his attempts to avoid significant contact with 
our forces. The enemy is dependent upon external sources 
for most of his weapons, ammunition, medical supplies and 
assorted technical equipment. The closing of Plaiphong would 
disrupt the enemy's logistical capability to supply these 
items to SVN. Therefore, I recommend and will shortly sub- 
mit a plan for closing the port of Haiphong, and other minor 
ports in NOT. Closing these ports would be the single most 
effective and economical method of drastically reducing the 
enemy's capability to carry on the war in SVN. The military 
..advai; ' ' t ,'-'.:! ;• action would-be. inanj fold. It would still 
be necessary, however, to recognize the significance of 
infiltration throughout Cambodia. The more successful our 
•operations in NOT and Laos become, the more communist pressure 
will be brought to bear on Cambodia to increase use of her 
ports and LOC's or infiltration of supplies into SVN. 

"Measures to improve the counter infiltration aspects 
of our current programs are aimed at striking at the enemy's 
vulnerabilities and countering his strength. These include: 

"A. Destroying his military and logistics bases. 

B. Interdicting his LOC's. 



C. Forcing the enemy into sustained combat operations. 

D. Providing security for the SVN population to prevent 
impressment and to assist their economic, social, and polit- 
ical development." 


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

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Continuing, he reviewed various programs (MARKET TIME, GAME 
WARDEN, DANIEL BOONE, SEA DRAGON) and the detailed plans to broaden 
them, but once more the Pacific commander returned to the subject of 
the sanctuaries: 

"The problem of sanctuaries has been mentioned 
several times. Those in NVN and Laos are limited sanc- 
tuaries since they are subject to air attacks, albeit, 
with certain restrictions. The sanctuary in Cambodia, 
however, is complete. It would appear appropriate to 
undertake actions at an early date aimed at persuading 
the Cambodian leadership to adopt a more neutral position. 
Pursuant to a request by DOD it is understood that a 
Joint State, Defense, and CIA committee is considering 
this problem. It is hoped that recommendations from this 
group will be forthcoming at an early date which will 
indicate positive measures which may be taken. The impor- 
tance of Cambodia as sanctuary and as a source of supplies, 
particularly rice, cannot be overemphasized. Consequently, 
we must get on with a strong program to inhibit this use 
of Cambodia, preferably by non-belligerent political and 
diplomatic means. If we do not achieve the required degree 
of success by these means then we must be prepared in all 
respects to use the necessary degree of force to attain 
our objectives. 

"in summary, the problem of countering infiltration 
of enemy forces into SVN is just one aspect of the total 
military problem in SEASIA. While infiltration cannot 
be absolutely stopped by direct military action, it can 
be made costly and its effectiveness blunted. The enemy's ■ 
prodigious efforts to provide air defense and to repair 
damaged LOC's are strong evidence of the effectiveness of 
our air campaigns in NVN : Laos and SVN. Increasing inter- 
diction of his supply system, especially by closing his 
ports, would be the most effective measure we could take 
against his capability to infiltrate. Additionally, shifting 
Rolling Thunder emphasis to attack selective target systems 
should have a significant impact upon his will to continue 
support to the insurgency in SVN. The more successful our 
operations become in NVN and Laos, the more use the enemy 
will seek to make of his supply sources and channels in 
Cambodia. To achieve our objectives in SEASIA our current 
strategy, a combination of carefully balanced military 
programs must be pursued in close coordination with politi- 
cal, economic, and sociological programs." 3jjf/ 

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

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The next day, attention shifted to a ground anti-infiltration 
program when General Westmoreland came in with his PRACTICE HI ME Require- 
ments Plan, the study of his manpower and logistics requirements to 
implement the barrier plan outlined a month earlier. The cover memoran- 
dum on the plan prepared by the JCS made a determined case against the 
proposed time frame (a target date of 1 November 19^7 had been set), and 
argued for providing the additional forces from outside resources rather 
than relying upon assignment of in-country forces already programmed for 
use elsewhere in the I967 Campaign Plan. 35/ In light of the anticipated 
manpower draw-down within South Vietnam, the plan was relatively austere. 

COMUSMACV was protecting plans already approved and rolling; accord- 
ingly he considered his plan to be no more than "the optimum which /wasj 
reasonably attainable without an unacceptable impact upon the objectives 
of the 1967 Combined Campaign Plan." 36/ 


MA.CV envisioned a strong point and obstacle system constructed on 
the eastern portion of northern Quang Tri Province to impede infiltration 
and to detect invasions. The plan visualized that the system of strong 
points and obstacles would serve as a base for possible future expansion 
of the system into the western portion of Quang Tri Province to the 
Laotian border; this expansion being contingent upon time, forces, mater-- 
ial and security conditions. COMUSMACV also indicated a preference for 
extension of the strong point/obstacle system into the Western Sector 
instead of reliance on air delivered munitions and sensors. 

His force requirement provided the excitement. In his words: 

"To have an effective obstacle system across SVW, 
south of the DMZ, would require a minimum additional force 
of one division and one armored cavalry regiment." 37/ 

The concept of operations for employment of these forces contemplated 
two operational areas, an eastern sector and a western sector. Force 
availability and logistical limitations would permit operations initially 
only in the eastern section with the exception of one area in the Western 
portion, that near Khe Sanh. An Army brigade (or Marine RCT) and an ARVN 
regimental force would construct and man the strong point obstacle system, 
with artillery, air and WG fires supporting along the entire trace. Ill 
MAF would be prepared to reinforce threatened areas and provide depth to 
the defense. Two Marine battalions (as a minimum) were earmarked for 
positioning in the Dong Ha and Khe Sanh areas "until relieved." This 
large additional troop requirement of nearly two division equivalents and 
the basic COMUSMACV concept in the plan was to quickly reappear in a 
CIHCPAC message early in February, one which discussed the barrier and 
infiltration in broader terms. 38, 

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The JCS agreed with COMJSMA.CV citing objections which revolved 
around that they believed were two fundamental disadvantages: 

"The increased ant i- infiltration capability that would 
be established would be located in northeastern South Viet- 
nam where Worth Vietnamese infiltration has been minimal. 

"The diversion of resources required for execution of 
the plan would reduce the emphasis and impetus of essential 
on-going programs now approved for the conduct of thr war 
in South Vietnam," 39/ 

Furthermore, they observed that such diversion of resources and efforts 
might come at a crucial point ... 

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that military 
actions now in progress in Southeast Asia, in support of 
the concepts and courses of action approved by them are 
demonstrating substantial successes toward national objec- 
tives and that if expanded and pressed with continued 
vigor, these successes will accelerate. The Joint Chiefs 
of Staff, less the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, conclude 
that any additional resources that might be provided can be 
used to a greater advantage in executing CINCPAC T s concept 
of operations for Southeast Asia." ko/ 

There was no solid consensus among high officers on the barrier 
issue. In late February, General Wheeler wrote in reply to JCSM 97-67 
that he believed, contrary to COMJSMA.CV and JCS conclusions, that the 
implementation of the PRACTICE NINE Plan might enhance rather than inhibit 
the flexibility available to COMUSMA.CV. He wrote: 

"...although I support much of the paper (JCSM 97-67, 
PRACTICE NINE Requirements Plan), I disagree with the recom- 
mendation that the plan not be approved for execution. 

"Although I recognize that the eastern portion of the 
DMZ does not now represent a major active infiltration corri- 
dor, it does possess a substantial potential for the rapid 
introduction of sizeable forces from the north: in fact, this 
portion of the border area provides the quickest and most 
trafficable routes from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. 
Thus, an obstacle system impeding enemy capability to exer- 
cise such an option seems to me to represent a prudent mili- 
tary action. 

"Again, while I recognize that the obstacle system 
reflected in the COMUSMACV plan may require an undesirable 
diversion of in-country resources, it is not cD.ear to me 


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

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that this will of necessity be so; it is also possible 
that the level of activity in the vicinity of the DMZ 
will require the commitment of comparable forces to that 
area whether or not construction of the obstacle system 
envisaged by COMUSMACV is undertaken. Furthermore, pro- 
ceeding now with the actions required to provide additive 
assets for support of the MA.CV plan does not, in my view, 
rule out a subsequent decision to utilize these assets in 
other ways should the turn of events so require. Thus, 
it is my view that proceeding now with preparatory actions 
to implement the COMQSMACV plan may enhance rather than 
inhibit the flexibility available to C01IJSMACV." j+l/ 

In other words, the Chairman was displaying considerably more 
prescience than his military colleagues. Either this or he was the 
only one who really believed the MACV-CINCPAC reports of activity and 
assessment of the threat in I CTZ. He anticipated that events might 
outrun the requirement for decision on the barrier troop issue — an 
apprehension which materialized in rapid fashion. 

The next day, the Central Intelligence Agency published a study 
entitled "Significance of Cambodia to the Vietnamese War Effort" in 
which it, too, disagreed with the assessment the military commanders 
had been making. k2/ Although the availability of Cambodian territory 
was granted to be of considerable psychological and military advantage 
to the Communists, and the access to the Cambodian rice surplus had 
evidently obviated any need to move substantial quantities of food 
down the Laotian route system to feed Communist forces in the rice- 
deficit Vietnamese highlands and Laotian panhandle, the study concluded: 

"Denying the Communists the use of Cambodian terri- 
tory and supplies would make life more difficult for them; 
it would not constitute a decisive element in their ability 
to conduct military operations in South Vietnam." 43 / 

The caveat added to this rather surprising conclusion noted that 
probably during 19&7 Communist use of Cambodia would increase primarily 
due to: 

"The logistic burdens imposed on the Communists by their 
own military build-up and the increasing pressures imposed 
by allied forces." hkj 

If this were true, then, a very good argument could be made that as 
of the moment denial of Cambodia "would not be decisive," but as the weight 
of U.S. military pressure increased, and the Cambodian sanctuary and sup- 
ply aspects increased in importance to the enemy, then it may b ecome 
decisive. The decisive nature of denial of Cambodia to the VC/lWA would 
be a function of its increasing value to them. 

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

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5. Infiltration — Remains the Key 

Into February, infiltration held the focus of attention. Following 
up his 18 January request, on the first of February, CINCPAC requested 
authorization to conduct offensive mining against the North Vietnamese 
ports, k^ / He stated his case: 

"A drastic reduction of external support to the 
enemy would be s. major influence in achieving our objec- 
tives in NVN. Despite fewer ship arrivals in I966 
compared to recent years the tonnage of imports has 
increased. This increase demonstrates the rising need 

for external support in NVN. "While the nature of car- c 

goes discharged cannot be stated with precision, there 
is little doubt that a major portion contains wa.r sup- 
porting materials. Additionally, the ability of NVN to 
export products to other nations through its seaports con- 
tributes significantly to its capability to support hostil- 
ities in RVN. The closure of selected NVN ports would 
result in a severely strained economy and reduce Hanoi ! s 
capability to support military actions in SV'N. 

"Closure of the port of Haiphong to ocean-going 
ships is of paramount importance and would be effective 
in compounding NVN logistic problems for the reasons 
indicated below: 

"A. 85 percent of imports come through Haiphong. 
There is no satisfactory alternate port. 

,f B. Soviet cargo presently entering NVN through 
Haiphong would have to be re-routed through Communist 
China or off-loaded in time-consuming barge operations. 
Thus far the CHICOMs have not permitted the Soviets unlim- 
ited use of their rail systems. 

"C. The ability of CHICOM/NVN rail systems to 
function as a substitute means to provide logistic support 
is marginal. A demand for increased rolling stock as well 
as new port facilities would be generated. 

"Closure of NVN ports would be a sign of U.S. deter- 
mination to prosecute the war successfully thus bringing 
increased pressure on Hanoi to terminate hostilities...." U6/ 

If Admiral Sharp received the "go" to conduct offensive mining 
against the NVN ports, initial efforts would be directed at Haiphong. 
He saw this action as... 

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k2 " 

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"an effective means of depriving the enemy of imports 
required to continue the war. If used in conjunction 
with RT air strikes against the port system, Haiphong 
can be virtually sealed as a source of war supplies." kjj 

This CINCPAC bombing request message was followed on 6 February 
by a comprehensive PRACTICE NINE cable , which reviewed the "barrier 
plan" and discussed the previous MA.CV-CINCPAC planning. k8 / In it 
CINCPAC reemphasized that unless the additional troops COMQSMACV had 
requested were forthcoming the target date to reach the required levels 
of effectiveness could not be met. 

He summarized the operational and logistical considerations by 

"The C0MQSMA.CV plan responds to the requirement for 
submission of an ant i- infiltration plan in the north- 
east era area of Quang Tri Province, south of the DMZ. 

"Within the constraints imposed, the concept is 
feasible. The system of obstacles and strong points, 
with forces assigned, would be capable of impeding 
infiltration to a degree, and detecting any overt 
invasion threat. 

"The additive forces requested are essential to 
implementation of this plan. Furthermore, the diversion 
of in-country forces which would be required to support 
the plan would have an adverse impact on other necessary 
programs." ksj 

Then the message took a surprising turn: ■ 

"The level of infiltration in the area the obstacle 
system is to be installed does not justify diversion of 
the effort required to construct and man such a system. 
Moreover, there is no indication that present operations 
are inadequate to cope with what has been an insignificant 
infiltration problem in this particular area of SVN. 

"Extension and expansion of the system of obstacles 
westward from. Dong Ha mountain to the Laotian border to 
provide an effective anti -infiltration system is contin- 
gent upon additional forces, i.e., an infantry division 
and an a,rmored cavalry regiment. 

"A rigid operational capability date of 1 November 6? 
should not obtain." 50 

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Consistent with this, the summary stressed General Westmoreland's 
concern. . . 

"...over the inflexible time frame, the need for 
additional forces to construct and man the obstacle sys- 
tem, and the impact of using in-country or programmed 
forces. He has made clear that the U.S. brigade or 
regiment requested in the plan is but the first increment 
of a full division and armored cavalry regiment force 
required to man an effective obstacle system south of 
the DMZ. Finally, he emphasizes that the course of 
action set forth in the plan would not in itself stop 
infiltration. In view of the numerous disadvantages 
listed above, and in light of the need to maintain bal- 
ance in all anti-infiltration programs, CINCPAC recommends 
that the plan not be implemented within the time-frame 
envisioned. ,T 51/ 


All of which seems to be saying that if the troops required (l div- 
ision plus 1 regiment) were assigned to the barrier, it would probably 
reach the desired effectiveness, but since they most likely will not come 
from "outside" resources, and COMUSMACV does not desire to draw down other 
forces for them, the barrier would probably not be very effective or meet 
a real threat anyway. 

On the ground in SEA observers were painstakingly searching the 
infiltration figures for indications of "reciprocal moves" on the part of 
the VC/nVA, or the "fade-out" various individuals had been predicting. 
The press was also speculating upon the political intent of North Vietnam, 
led there by MACV ! s year-end infiltration statistics. A MACV "backgrounder" 
in late I966 had indicated a drastic falling off from earlier infiltration 
levels. Little had been done in the interim to correct (or update) these 
figures and speculation was rife in early February. Phil Goulding was 
frantically quizzing MACV for explanations. Military attaches were exper- 
iencing pressure from their ambassadors for interpretations and analysis. j2/ 
PACOM-MACV answered queries with a detailed discussion outlining the prob- 
lems of interpreting (or even developing) infiltration estimates; information 
which may be useful at this point to highlight the problems and pitfalls 
of "infiltration watching." CINCPAC wrote that it was: 

"Our position ... that the NVA must continue to infil- 
trate at significant levels to maintain maturing force 
structure. The VC cannot replace total communist losses 
as well as provide additional personnel to flesh out their 
joint (VC/NVA) planned force structure. It is true that 
figures may appear to suggest that infiltration dropped off 
sharply during last ha3.f I966- Although statistical data 
indicates infiltration appears to have dropped during latter 

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half 1966, the figures for last five .months of year are 
not complete. Also, data after September 1966 repre- 
sents only partial returns subject to considerable upward 
revision. Recent intensive community-wide review of the 
foregoing at CINCPAC resulted in an agreed data base with 
Oct 65 through Dec 66 time frame. (Oct 65 selected as 
historical start point attributable to initiation intensive 
NVA build-up) . The mean monthly infiltration during this 
time frame has been about 6-7 > 000 . 

"An example of late data recently incorporated in 
infiltration statistics follows: The 165 NVA regiment 
began infiltrating into SVN in March I966 but did not 
complete infiltration until about July 66. Sufficient 
information became available in January I967 to permit 
the acceptance of the I65 NVA regiment in the order of 
battle. It had been unidentified and unknown earlier. 
As the result, confirmed infiltration figures for July 
I966 were revised upward in January 1967 "by 1,950 to 
reflect the 165th regiment's strength upon reorganization 
in SVN. Review of statistical infiltration data, also 
shows that figures require $0 to 180 day time frame to 
be developed. Concur, that the KVA may be approaching 
their current planned force structure in SVN. In the 
future, it will probably be even more difficult to gener- 
ate short-term infiltration data. Infiltrators may enter $ 
SVN more often in groups vice large units. Groups may 
break up shortly after infiltration as replacements 
compounding the problem for our intelligence gathering 
agencies, and further complicating the statistical prob- 

"This is an estimate and we feel more time is 
required to gain substantiating information. 

T, We take particular exception with statement in the 
reference that Hanoi may be willing to enter into negoti- 
ations to get bombing stopped. 

"CINCPAC position is there are no repeat no - indica tions 
that indicate NVN ha s changed previously stated terms for 
negotiate o n which is ba sis for USG resum ption of bombing just 
order ed. Neg otiations e mbodying NVN terms would, in effect, 
require the surrender of our stated objectives in SVN. 

" in a dditi on , there are no repeat no indications 
available here t hat NVN has changed or iginal in tent to 
vi gorously prosecute the war notwithstanding allied bombing 
which has caused NVN severe difficulty." 53/ 


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In late February, as the debate over roles and missions (AB 1^2), 
progress in pacification, ARVN effectiveness, PRACTICE NINE Require- 
ments, enemy intentions and infiltration reached a crescendo, it became 
clear that the deployment debate was centered upon one major uncertainty — 
, How many more U.S. troops would it require to achieve U.S. objectives in 
SW, and more basically in the face of the infiltration trends past and 
present could our massive infusions of U.S. forces turn the trick. 


Operation CEDAR FALLS, deep into the Iron Triangle, redoubt had 
produced a windfall of enemy documents and plans, many of which bore 
directly upon enemy strategy and indirectly conditioned our expectations 
and confidence in our calculations. Some of them revealed a "new strategy 
developed after the entry of substantial US and Free World forces into 
South Vietnam." $k / COMUSMACV, recounting the information obtained in 
the document, had stated that for the enemy: 

"...The main emphasis is on continued reinforcement 
from North Vietnam to defeat US and RVN forces in South 
Vietnam. This strategy reaffirms the concept of the necessity 
for a protracted war, but nonetheless stresses the need both 
to seize and to create opportunities for decisive tactical 
victories of high impact effect in a relatively short time. 
At the same time it stresses intensified guerrilla action and 
public disturbances, all featuring the customary coordination 
between military and political action. It appears that the 
principal objective area is the highlands, the secondary areas 
being Quang.Tri and Thua Thien and the coastal provinces of 
the II Corps. It is understood, of course, that the Saigon 
area is the ultimate objective. 

"Analysis of the broad strategic guidance contained in 
the early 1966 document just mentioned, along with later 
prisoner interrogations suggests the conceptual framework 
of enemy planning. This would include attacks in the I Corps 
and II Corps coastal areas to cause our forces to be redeployed. 
If the enemy could then succeed in weakening our forces in the 

I , highlands by luring part of them into the coastal ares.s and 

.then pinning them down, conditions might be achieved which he 
would consider favorable for a spectacular victory in the 
highlands employing main forces already located there and 

■' possibly reinforced by continued infiltration from North Viet- 

nam. Such an attempt probably would not be with the intent 
to hold ground permanently, but rather to create a psychologi- 
cal shock designed to affect US public opinion against continu- 
ation of the war, to bolster his own morale, and to improve his 
position for negotiation or further combat. To achieve this, 
his favored objective, as shown by documentary evidence, would 
be the entrapment and "annihilation" of a large US unit. 


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preferably a battalion of the 1st Air Cav Division; or 
alternatively , employment of a sweep against Pleiku, 
including destruction of installations., rapid withdrawal, 
and the ambush of reaction forces. 

"The present disposition of enemy forces can be 
analyzed in relation to such a strategy. Despite several 
major defeats and heavy casualties, the enemy still main- 
tains three divisions near the demilitarized zone. Elements 
of these forces have infiltrated again into Quang Tri and 
Thua Thien provinces. They pose a constant threat to terri- 
tory and installations in Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces 
and have forced the prolonged deployment of four US Marine 
battalions and four ARVN battalions to northern Quang Tri 
Province, enemy initiative in Quang Tri and Thua Thien has 
increased during the past several months and is expected to 
increase further. The enemy has the capability of launching 
large scale attacks across the DMZ at any time. This is 
not meant to imply that massive mult i -division attacks 
necessarily will occur. More probably, by an increased 
buildup and tempo of coordinated main force/guerrilla opera- 
tions, the enemy may attempt to expand his forces southward 
and gradually overwhelm the area below the DMZ. "Whether by 
attack or encroachment, such efforts would serve to force 
the deployment of additional US and Vietnamese troops to the 
area and thereby thin out those forces in support of Revo- 
lutionary Development. The enemy ! s deployment of a division 
to Quang Ngai has served to increase his pressure in that 
Province. His division formerly in Binh Dinh has been 
mauled by the 1st Cavalry Division and either has dispersed 
in Binh Dinh Province or has withdrawn to Quang Ngai. The 
enemy division that was deployed to Phu Yen has been dis- 
persed; however, one regiment has attempted to consolidate 
itself in Khanh Hoa. The enemy 1 s strategy in attempting to 
pin down allied forces in the coastal areas in order to 
divert attention from the highlands has been unsuccessful 
thus far. However, his concentration of two divisions in 
Cambodia west of Pleiku and Konturn Provinces has forced the 
deployment of a minimum of four US battalions to the high- 
lands to provide surveillance over the border areas. These 
minimum forces had to be reinforced during the past year 
from other areas, and further reinforcement probably will 
be necessary during the coming month when these two North 
Vietnamese Divisions ready themselves for offensive operations. 
In the III Corps area the enemy has adopted a similar strategy. 
He has deployed two divisions in the northwestern quadrant of 
the III Corps Tactical Zone and has been developing a base 
and assembling a division in the mountainous and jungle- 
covered areas of Phouc Tuy Province. 

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"7- The enemy's implementation of his strategy is 
characterized by: 

A- Increasing his guerrilla forces and their 
tempo of operations with emphasis on the sabotage of US 

B. Expanding his local forces as manpower will 
permit for the purpose of harassing RVN, FW and US installa- 
tions and forces and disrupting Revolutionary Development. 

C. Concentrating North Vietnamese Army and VC 
main forces in numerous remote areas , thereby posing a 
continual strategic threat intended to prevent concentration 
of our forces in particular regions. These are areas from 
which enemy forces can conduct training and supply operations 
with minimum risk, and from which they may be deployed when 
ready. These areas are: 

(1) The DMZ. 

(2) In Laos opposite Hua Thien Province. 

(3) In Eastern Cambodia adjacent to the 
Central Highlands. 

(k) The jungle -covered areas of Northwestern 
III Corps (and the adjacent areas in Cambodia) and of Phuoc 
Tuy Province. 

(5) The mountainous areas adjacent to the 
fertile coastal plans of Central Vietnam in the Provinces 
of Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Pu Yen and Khanh Hoa. 

"in summary, the enemy's strategy is a practical and 
clever one designed to continue a protracted war, inflict 
unacceptable casualties on our forces, establish a favor- 
able political posture, minimize risks to main forces, 
and maintain in the option of going on the military offen- 
sive of his covert troop deployment. 

"Considering the desire of the world population to see 
a peaceful solution to the conflict in Vietnam during the 
coming months, it is likely that the enemy will attempt to 
parlay this desire for peace and American impatience with 
the war into major concessions prior to, or during, negoti 
ations undertaken between opposing sides. This strategy 


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has "been used effectively by the communists in the past, 
as the record of the Korean negotiations will reflect." 55 / 

To counter such a broad, coordinated strategy would require large 
numbers of troops — » even more than those listed under Program #U. To 
many observers the concept of "sheer mass" doing the job was appealing. 
Robert Komer returned from a mid-February trip to Vietnam no less 
optimistic than before. Ever the inveterate optimist he reported to 
the President that: 


"After almost a year full-time in Vietnam, and six 
trips there, I felt able to learn a good deal more from 
my 11 days in- country, 13-23 February. I return more 
opti mistic than ever before . The cumulative change since 
my first visit last April is dramatic, if' not yet visibly 
demonstrable in all respects. Indeed, I 1 11 reaffirm even 
more vigorously my prognosis of last November which would 
be achieved in I967 on almost every front in Vietnam." ^6/ 

He firmly believed that in time we would just overwhelm the VC in SVN: 

"Waste fully, expensively, but nonetheless indis- 
putably, we are winning the war in the South. Few of 
our programs -» civil or military — are very efficient, 
but we are grinding the enemy down by sheer weight and 
mass. And the cumulative impact of all we have set in 
. motion is beginning to tell. Pacification still lags the 
most, yet even it is moving forward." 57/ 

Finally, and contrary to all military reports, he saw some let-up 
in the pressures for additional resources: 

"Indeed my broad feeling, with due allowance for 

over ~s implication, is that our side now has in presently 

programmed levels all the men, money and other resources 
needed to achieve success...." 

The preceding statement curiously seems to contradict the tenor of 
the previous ones which plainly indicate the requirement for a massive 
influx of U.S. forces. Nevertheless, such optimism, even considering 
the source was surely to tell upon a President deeply engrossed in 
weighing alternatives in Vietnam and comparing their risks and benefits. 

The most significant assessment of alternative strategies for 
Vietnam in late February was a short analysis prepared for the President's 
night reading by ISA and the JCS with an assist from Department of State. 59/ 
The assessment commenced with the presentation of three programs — A, B 
and C -- one analyzed in terms of its specific auctions, the authority 
required and the policy changes required to implement them and the risk 
or political impact attendant to each. (See Table, p. 50.) The programs 

, n TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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ROLLING THUNDER - Electric Power System, Thai Nguyen 
Steel Plant, Haiphong Cement Plant, AH Unoccupied Air- 
fields; eliminate 10 NM Hanoi Prohibited Area. 


L B ' ( 

2. NAVAL SURFACE OPERATIONS - Expand offensive operations 
to include valid military targets ashore south of 19° N. 

3. SHINING BRASS - Within current operational limits dele- 
gate authorities now held at DOD/ STATE level to CINCPAC 
in coordination with Embassy Vientiane. 

k. LAOS OPERATIONS - Continue as at present plus Operation 

POP EYE to reduce trafficability along infiltration routes 

5. B-52s - Base part of operations at U-Tapao. 








6. IAUD ARTILLERY - Fire from positions in SVN against 
valid military targets in and immediately north of DMZ. 

7. DEPLOYMENTS - Accelerate Program #k Deployments 
(including 3 Army Maneuver Battalions). 

8. ROLLING THUNDER - Elements of 3 ports, MIG airfields 
less those from which international civil transport 
operate, selected rail facilities, ammo dump, machine/ 
tool plant, 7 locks; reduce Haiphong Restricted Area to 
k NM. 





11. SHINING BRASS - Expand operational limits to 20 KM 
into Laos, increase helo operations, authorize larger 
forces, increase frequency of operations, decentralize 
control. to CINCPAC in coordination with Embassy Vientiane. 

12. IAND ARTILLERY - Fire from positions in SVN against 
valid military targets in Laos. 

13- DEPLOYMENTS - Deploy the 9th MAB (3 BLT, 2 TFS, 2 HMM) 
from Okinawa/Japan to the I CTZ in March I967. 

Ik. ROLLING THUNDER - k ports, remaining MIG airfields, 
AD HQ, Ministry Defense HQ, dikes; eliminate pro- 
hibited/restricted areas. 




WAYS and estuaries north of 20° N. 

16. NAVAL SURFACE OPERATIONS - Expand north of 20 u !,'. 

17. SHINING BRASS - Battalion size exploitation forces 
start guerrilla warfare. 

18. DEPLOYMENTS - Deploy up to k US Divisions (3 Army, 
1 USMC); and up to 9 TFS (5 AF, k USMC). 




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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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No change in operation authorities except deletion of 10 KM radius 
around Hanoi where ordnance delivery is prohibited. This area t^hen 
becomes part of 30 NM Restricted Area. No policy changes. 

Forces now engaged in SEA DRAGON operations require authorization 
for offensive action against shore targets. 

Delegate existing authorities to CINCPAC in coordination with 
Embassy Vientiane. No policy changes. 

Authorization required to implement operational phase of weather modifi- 
cation process previously successfully tested and evaluated in same area- 
Requires country clearance for aircraft and personnel to enter Thailand. 

No significant policy changes; requires approval of targets only. 

Requires by 1 March 1967 decision to accelerate deployments. 
Requires corresponding end strength authorization. 

Requires significant policy change to attack MIG airfields. 

Operations can be authorized and conducted within framework of 

Requires authorization for offensive action against shore targets 

Requires delegation of authority to CINCIAC/Embassy Vientiane 
Policy change required to extend operational limits. 

Minor policy change required, 

1 - 


Requires by 1 March 1967 decision to accelerate deploy- 
ments. Requires corresponding end strength authorization. 

Requires significant policy change, although operations 
can be conducted within framework of current ROLLING 
THUNDER program. 

Major policy change required, 

Moderate policy change required. 

Significant policy change required, 

Requires decision by 1 March I967 to call up reserves, 
extend tours and terms of service, repetitive tours, 
increase service strengths, and partial industrial 


Risk to US forces consistent with normal ROLLING 
THUNDER operations in the heavily defended north- 
east area. Loss rates should not exceed acceptable 
limits commensurate with results to be achieved, 
political risks are negligible. 

No military risk beyond normal ccmbat. Political 
risk is low since US ships new fire against shore 
targets in self defense and against waterbome 
logistic craft beached and in rivers. 

No increase in military or political risk over that 
associated with current operations. 

Normal military operational risks. Risk of com- 
promise is minimal. 

No significant military risk. Political risk 
negligible; however, criticism is to be expected. 

No significant military risk. Negligible polit- 
ical risk. 

Reduction of C0NUS strategic reserve. 

Military risks are consistent with operations in 
heavily defended NE area. Loss rates acceptable 
in terms of expected results. Moderate political 
risk due to possibility endangering foreign ships, 
and increased civilian casualties. 

Negligible military risk. Insignificant polit- 
ical risk. 

Military risk/losses commensurate with ROLLING 
THUNDER operations in NVN. Political risk is 

Will increase to minor degree risk of exposure of 
activity. Political risks increased only slightly 
over present levels. 

Negligible military risk. Political risk less 
than that associated with current air strikes 
and SHINING BRASS in Laos. 

Moderate military risk associated with loss of 
PAC0M amphibious reserve. Political risk less 
than moderate. 

Military risk commensurate with objectives to be 
achieved. Higher losses initially, but lower there- 
after as air defenses degraded. Political risk 
moderate or higher. Usual propaganda reaction 
expected on basis of "escalation." 

Military risk no greater than associated ROLLING 
THUNDER programs in port area. Political risk 
is acceptable - no direct military confrontation 
likely; no realignment of power blocs. Propaganda 
ry severe. Possible increase in USSR/china 

cc operatic: 

to NVN. 

Moderate military risk. Less than moderate 
political risk. 

Moderate military risk associated with increased 
size/duration of operations. Political risk 
moderate, but acceptable. Deniability is lessened, 
but operations defensible on basis enemy conduct. 

Military risk significant in that strategic reserves 
degraded until end CY 67. Political/domestic risk 
in terms of increased draft, call up of reserves. 

— — 

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themselves had been prepared by JCS at the request of Deputy Secretary 
Vance and they actually incorporated the various separate proposals 
made by the JCS over the past two months. 

For instance 5 Program A included ROLLING THUNDER, naval surface 
operations, SHINING BRASS, Laos operations, land artillery firing across 
the DMZ and ground force deployments. The deployments recommended under 
Program A consisted of merely accelerating Program h deployments and 
possibly adding three Army maneuver battalions. The remainder of Program 
A represented no more than minor expansions in operations, recommendations 
for which the JCS had been on record since last fall. Program B featured 
expanded ROLLING THUNDER operations to include attacking the North Viet- 
namese ports, mining the inland waterways and estuaries south of 20° North, 
attacking the MIG airfields previously excepted, expansion of SHINING 
BRASS operations into Laos and, significantly, the deployment of the 9th 
Marine Amphibious Brigade from Okinawa/japan to the I Corps Tactical Zone 
in March I967. Program C subsumed all of the recommendations of the two 
preceding Programs A and B, but added an expansion of the mining quanti- 
tatively, to include all of approaches and inland waterways north of 20°> 
authorized battalion-sized expedition forces in the SHINING BRASS area 
and recommended deployments of up to four U.S. divisions (3 Army, 1 USMC) 
and up to nine tactical fighter squadrons (5 Air Force, h USMC). 

Major authorization would be required from the President to expand 
the air attacks to the ports and MIG airfields as recommended in Program B, 
but other than that, only minor policy changes were required to initiate 
Programs A and B-. In order to deploy the 9th MAB by 1 March 1967 5 a 
decision had to be made concerning acceleration of deployments, some 
corresponding end strength increases for Prograjii k had to be authorized. 
Program C, of course, was the major deployment proposal, one which 
the JCS believed would require a decision by 1 March I967 to call up 
Reserves, to extend tours and terms of service, to authorize repetitive 
tours, to increase service strengths, and effect partial industrial mobil- 
ization. None of the recommendations included in all of these programs 
possessed more than "moderate military risk" in the eyes of the JCS. 
Some, such as expansion of ROLLING THUNDER to the port targets, were rated 
as possessing "moderate or higher" political risks. The major deployment 
recommendation requiring Reserve mobilization carried "significant mili- 
tary risk in that strategic Reserves would be degraded until the end of 
the Calendar Year" and "political 1 domestic risk in terms of increased 
draft and call-up of Reserves," but again the JCS played down the serious- 
ness of such a move 

^- . 

The documents available do not indicate what usage the President 
made of this particular analysis. However, it remains interesting as an 
historical event, being the first explicit presentation of new alternative 
programs in the development of Program 5. 

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1. JCSM 739-66, "Deployments to Southeast Asia and Other PACOM Areas (u)," 
dated 2 December 1966. See Section I, above , for the discussion of 
deployment decisions prior to this memorandum. 

2. See Memorandum for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 
Secretary of Defense, Sub j : "Deployments to SEA and Other PACOM 
Areas (u)," dated 9 December 1966. The JCS asked direct substitu- 
tion of approximately 15,000 troops to provide "balanced forces." 
SecDef approved JCS recommendations for an additional A-l squadron 
in Thailand, but advised that "...any additional requests to out- 
of- country areas should be fully justified as to their relation to 
the conflict in SEA." Another related issue, broached by Systems 
Analysis, was whether or not to announce to the Chiefs that the 
barrier plan about to be approved would be manned by MACV from 
forces within currently approved personnel strengths. If so, SA 
recommended that JCS should be requested to resubmit their recom- 
mendations on that basis. This was not done. See Memorandum from 
ASD(SA) for Secretary of Defense, Sub j : "Deployments to SEA and 
Other PACOM Areas," dated 7 December 1966. 

3- The New Yo rk Times, 16 January 1967. 

**"• The New Y ork Times, 18 January 19o7- See Section I for discussion 
of the 100,000-man figure in COMIJSMACV-CINCPAC messages. 

5. The New York Times , 22 January 19&7- 

6. The CIA Analysis of ROLLING THUNDER (CIA SC No. 0IM2/67, January 
I967) had fallen into Senator Fulbright's hands and he was threat- 
ening to use it in his Vietnam hearings. Its conclusion, that the 
bombing was relatively ineffective given the political constraints, 
was confirmed by the McNamara testimony before the joint session of 
the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Sub-Committee on 

23 January 1967. 

7. A JCSM published a week later reveals that the JCS firmly believed 
"...that, in their judgment, there /was/ no military justification 
to reduce the strength of U.S. forces in Europe." (JCSM ^-6-67, . 
Sub j : "Redeployment of U.S. Forces Withdrawn from Europe (u)," 
dated 28 January 1967). One can speculate ad infin i tum about 
Mansfield's motives and about with whom he was allied, but one 
can hardly deny that he, the Chiefs, the President and the Secre- 
tary of Defense were not acutely aware of just about at what point 
CONUS military manpower resources would be exhausted. 

^ # The New York Times , January 1967. There was an audible sigh of 

relief when the Salisbury dispatches ended on 18 January. However, 
five days later, Bill Boggs, of the Miami Hews , was filing reports 
from Hanoi which substantially corroborated Salisbury's stories 
about civilian casualties and the bombing. 

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9 V COMJSMACV 0293.6 (Westmoreland Sends) to Deputy Commanding General, 
USARV, "Command Guidance (u)," dated 2k January 1967. 

10. Ibid . 

11. Ibid * The public relations aspect was real. Less than a. month 
later, R. W. Apple, of the New York Times, was to write a major 
piece, cutting away the facade of "good" PR which had covered 
RVNAF performance to discuss the lack of effectiveness of such 
units as he found them. ■ . 

12. COMJSMACV 00610 to CINCPAC for Admiral Sharp and General Wheeler 
from General Westmoreland, Sub j : "Year-End Assessment of Enemy 
Situation and Enemy Strategy (u)," dated 2 January I967. 

13* lb id . These figures roughly conform to corrected OB and strength 
estimates developed later in the year, when MACV reported 116,552 
combat, 4l,700 administrative service and 126,200 guerrilla troops 
for a total of 283,900 compared to 280,575 in this cable. See: 
MACV Monthly Order of Battle Summary, 31 October 1967- 

lk. Ibid . 

15 • Ibid . This infiltration figure of 8400 per month is slightly below 
the figure of 9100 contained in the MACV Command History I966. At 
the end of I966, MACV accepted a figure of ^f8,^00 infiltrators during 
the year, plus an additional 25,600 "may have infiltrated into South 
Vietnam on the basis of information evaluated as possibly true." 
This total of 7^,000 "possible" and "accepted" provided the base for 
MACV calculations at the time. See: USMACV Command History I966, 
"Infiltration Into RVN," p. 22. A 7 November 1967 0SD STAT Summary 
gave an "accepted" figure of 55,300 infiltrators, or if you add the 
MACV "possible" figure about 9000 per month. See: "Southeast Asia 
Analysis Report," 0ASD(SA)SEA Programs Directorate, No. 8--OO5U 
(Special Supplement). The recruitment figure conforms to a more 
sophisticated estimate on VC recruitment, one which concluded that 
the MACV estimate of 7000 VC recruited per month in 1966 was probably 
not valid for 1967. The key finding of the study was that the VC 
probable rate was near 3500 men per month. See: CICV Study ST 67-O8I, 
"VC In-Country Recruitment" dated 15 September 1967, and Ibid., SEA. 
Analysis Report. 

16. Ibid. 

17. MACV Command History, op^ cit., pp. 22-23. 

18. Ibid. 

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19. CINCPAC to JCS, Exclusive for General Wheeler and General West- 
moreland from Admiral Sharp, Subj : "Memo from General Beach 
Reference USARPAC Views Relative to Probable Enemy Actions/' dated 
3 January 1967. This message refers to a verbal request from PACOM 
for such views of major commanders and is a follow-up to a 2k Decem- 
ber I966 memorandum by General Beach devoted to the same subject. 

20. Ibid. 

21. Ibid. 


2 ^ • Ibid. Emphasis added. 

23. Ibid . The a.uthor never explained what he thought were "more important 
operations/' but one can gather from the preceding paragraphs that 
he meant ground operations in the base areas and against main force 

2k. USMACV "Monthly Evaluation" January 1967, p. 3- 

25. Ibid . 

26. Ibid . 

27. Ibid. There were 136,591 small unit operations reported with I.O65 
enemy contacts, 235 of these at night. 

28. Ibid. 

29. Ibid. The problem of operational control of RD battalions is one of 
many "little" problems that complicated the greater problem of 
COMUSMACV in allocating personnel between "shield" and "shelter" and 
optimizing his strategic gains. In January, the Joint General Staff, 
RVMF, published a directive stating that ARVN units employed in sup- 
port of RD may operate under the operational control of either divi- 
sion or sector as appropriate. The authority that exercised control 
would designate a tactical area of responsibility (TAOR) to be approved 
by the Corps Commander concerned. Units would not be withdrawn from 
their assigned TAOR by division or sector without prior approval of 
Corps. However, in an emergency (e.g., when the unit was needed to 
assist a 'friendly force that came under attack suddenly), the unit 
might be used outside the TAOR for a period not to exceed six hours, 
provided other local military resources were already committed, and 

a minimum security force remained in the TAOR while the unit was 
away. See Ibid. , p. 12-13. 

30. Ibid., p. 2k. 

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3 1 * Ibid . This was derived from the lists of "Significant Engagements" 

and "Major Operations Map" on the monthly evaluation. Total activity 
of both GVN and US "units for January was reported as: 

Operations (Bn or Larger/with Contact) Battalion Days_ ■ 

GVN 292/152 2,165 

us 38/35 1,^00 

32. CINCPAC 182210Z January I967. Destruction and interdiction missions 
in the Laotian Panhandle had not "been as productive in November a.nd 
December 1Q66 as everyone had hoped, and as military calculations 
increasingly turned on infiltration figures, efforts were made in 
mid-January to seek improved measures. On 15 January 1967* General 
Westmoreland, LTG Momyer and their staffs met with Ambassadors 
Martin and Sullivan at Udorn. /See: COMUSMACV 01819 (Section I 
and II) for Admiral Sharp , info to General Wheeler from General 
Westmoreland, Sub j : "Udorn Conference," dated 16 January 1967^7 
Little came of the conference except renewed efforts to cut reaction 
times and improve coordination. COMUSMACV' s efforts to amend rules of 
engagement met State resistance, a harbinger of the resistance that 
was to meet future efforts to expand operations in Laos and Cambodia. 

33- CINCPAC 252126Z January I967 to JCS, "Modifications to Current 
Programs to Improve the Anti-Infiltration Aspect of Our Overall 
Strategy," 25 January I967. 

3h. Ibid. 

35. COMUSMACV "Practice Nine Requirements Plan," 26 January I967, for- 
warded under CM 213I1-67 (22 February 1967) and JCSM 97-67- 

36. Ibid . 

37. Ibid.' 

38. Ibid. See the discussion of CINCPAC 060820Z February I967 in the 
following pages. 

39. JCSM-97-67, Subj: "MACV PRACTICE HIKE Requirements Plan," dated 
22 February 1967- 

kO. Ibid. 

ifl. CM-2134-67, "PRACTICE MIME Requirements Plan, dated 26 January I967, 
(U)," dated 22 February 1967. 

k2.. CIA SMIE 57-67, "Significance of Cambodia to the Vietnamese Communist 
War Effort," dated 26 January 1967- 

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55 - : 

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43- Ibid . 

kk. Ibid . 

k5. CINCPAC 012005Z February 1967, to JCS, Sub j : "Closing WN Ports" ' 

H6.. Ibid. CINCPAC 182210Z January I967 requested authorization to hit 
25 "selected lucrative targets in Haiphong" as a package. Essen- 
tially the same reasons were outlined in the January message. See 
Note 32, p. 28. J 

47. Ibid . 

48. CINCPAC 060820Z February I967 to JCS, Sub j : "Barrier Plan." It 
may be helpful to trace the discussion and planning leading to this 
document. JCS 0619Z January I967 initiated COMUSMACV-CINCPAC 
detailed planning to support the barrier concept , according to 
criteria and guidance contained in the DCP3- Memorandum for the 
Secretary of Defense, Subj : "Plan for Increased Anti-Infiltration 
Capability for SEA./ 1 dated 22 December 1966. On 11 and 17 January 
CINCPAC directed COMJSMACV to submit an overall plan. (CINCPAC 
11234-7Z January I967 and I7OO5IZ January 1967)- COMJSMACV PRACTICE 
NINE Requirement Plans , 26 January 19o7 5 was submitted in response 
to the CINCPAC order. The CINCPAC cable on 25 January seems an 
attempt to balance the barrier concept in light of COMUSMACV's 
requirements plan, and to present some anti-infiltration alterna- 
tives to PRACTICE NINE. The message being discussed tried to tie 
all of the proposals together. 

49. CINCPAC 060820Z February 1967, Ibid. 

50. Ibid. The general rejection of the concept implied in the opening 
paragraph probably refers to only the eastern sector, although it 
may be interpreted as a more sweeping denial. 

51. Ibid. 

52. See DEF 5563, 0^1758 February I967, to COMUSMACV/CINCPAC, Sub j : 
"Infiltration Statistics"; and CINCPAC 1MA33Z February 1967. 

53. CINCPAC l40^-33Z February I967 to USMILADREP SEATO. 

5h. CCMJSMACV 06^-97 to JCS (CINCPAC info), Sub j : "Assessment of the 
Military Situation," dated 23 February 1967. 

55- Ibid . 

56. R. W. Komer, Memorandum to the President, February 28, I967. 

57- Ibid. 


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58. Ibid. 

59. Memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense to the Honorable 
Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Under Secretary of State, Sub j : "Military 
Action Programs for Southeast Asia/' dated 21 February 1967* 



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1. The G uam Conference, 20-21 March 196 7 

In late March, President Johnson, along with members of the White 
House Staff, DoD and State met with President Thieu, Premier Ky, General 
Westmoreland and other key military officials at Guam. The President was 
determined to accelerate the rate of progress in the collective military 
and nation-building task confronting the United States and South Vietnam 
and he believed that a face-to-face meeting with Thieu and Ky could best 
speed up the process and possibly relieve some of the heavy political 
pressures on what he termed "the absolutely vital political base in the 
country." l/ The basic objectives of the Guam meeting in the Secretary 
of State's words were to: 

"1. Stimulate good relations between them ^Thieu and 
Ky/ an d our new "team ./Bunker and Locke/. 


2. Provide an opportunity to impress upon them the high 
importance of expeditiously completing and bringing the consti- 
tutions into effect, and holding effective and honest elections. 
Continued GVN unity and broadly based government are critical 
to the maintenance of the U.S. political base. 

3. Help to dramatize post-war planning and the role of 
David Lilienthal and his opposite number. 

k. Closely examine the current status of the land 
reform program and determine what steps can be taken to accel- 
erate the rate of progress in this field." 

Noticeably missing from the list of objectives was any detailed discussion 
or reevaluation of the military situation. In fact, the Agenda for the 
conference included but two short sessions on the military effort. 2/ 
President Johnson had publicly announced that his purpose in calling the 
Guam Conference was to introduce the newly appointed U.S. team of Bunker, 
Locke and Komer to the leaders of the GVN. 3/ Just as the Agenda had 
indicated it would, and as had been the case in the two previous occasions 
of top US-GVN talks (Honolulu and Manila), the conference communique of 
the two-day meeting emphasized political, economic and social concerns, k/ 
The military picture was presumed to be so encouraging and improving that 
it required no special attention. However, three general impressions about 
the thrust of the military briefings emerge from the conference documents 
and notes. 


First, is the basically optimistic view held by General Westmoreland. 
Pie noted that we were pursuing a, constant strategy aimed at destroying the 
enemy's main forces, providing security for the populace so that pacifica- 
tion could proceed, improving the lot of the people, pressing the North 


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Vietnamese through the ROLLING THUNDER program and, finally, creating 
conditions favorable for settlement on U.S. terms. Westmoreland's main 
conclusions revolved around a new assessment that the enemy was weak- 
ening, that ROLLING THUNDER did help, and that the enemy 1 s losses would 
soon exceed his gains. To buttress these views he quoted a number of 
"indicators": that intensity of allied operations was up versus those 
of last year; that the enemy 1 s losses had doubled; that we were taking 
four times the number of prisoners we had; that the number of defectors 
had doubled; that the enemy was losing 2g times the weapons that he had 
in the past year; and that 18$ more major roads in South Vietnam had been 
opened in the past three months. Enemy weakness was evident from the fact 
that $k of his maneuver battalions were rated only 50$ combat effective 
compared to ARVN's performance in having all but 7 of its 15k battalions 
combat effective. ARVN leadership was also cited as being "better." 5/ 

COMUSMACV's analysis of RVNAF effectiveness was based upon a MACV 
study completed early in 19&7} one devoted to determining the shortfalls, 
weaknesses and limitations of that organization. The analysis indicated 
that the ARVN kill ratio had risen from 3.6 in 1965 to 3.7 in 1966 and that 
there was a noticeable decline (27$) in personnel missing in action. The 
MA.CV study had concluded "that it was apparent that both the Vietnamese 
Army and Vietnamese Air Force h£>d made significant improvements during the 
year. 6/ 

A Systems Analysis study completed in DoD just prior to the Guam 
Conference concluded that U.S. and ARVN forces had surprisingly equal 
effectiveness per battalion day on search and destroy operations when 
the relative strengths of the battalions were taken into account. 7/ 
At a time when American decision-makers were casting about for any favorable 
reports on Vietnamese performance, these descriptions of ARVN progress 
were surely welcome. Unfortunately, they only contributed to the unreal- 
istic military euphoria which pervaded the Guam discussions. 

The second major impression one takes from reviewing the military 
briefings at Guam was that some increases in the Program k levels would 
be necessary, but these would not be major. The enemy strategy was " 
reiterated; nothing found on CEDilR FALLS or other recent operations did 
anything but confirm the MACV year-end assessment of VC/NVA strategy. 
Recent American successes reinforced the belief that we had hit upon the 
key to winning -- despite continued large scale infiltration, Westmoreland 
and others on his staff believed we were again flirting with the illusive 
"crossover point" when enemy total strength would begin to decline, 
battle, disease and desertion losses would exceed gains. 8/ Yet, 
despite the indicators, infiltration remained an uncertainty, as did the 
continued good performance of ARVN. Without a relatively efficient RVNAF 
performance, pacification (especially as its roles and missions were ' 
allocated) was doomed to failure. The hope generated by the encouraging 
report on ARVN (from both MACV and OASD/SA) and the favorable outcomes of 
US current operations, seemed to confirm what most were led to believe: 
any forthcoming Program, k requests would be small. 9/ 

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The briefing papers prepared for the conference merely affirmed 
the prevalent belief when one concluded that: 

"•..There does not appear to be any great return to 
be realized from further force increases. The best alter- 
natives are to increase the effectiveness of the force 
already employed. This may be done through improved 
tactics and intelligence as well as through greater fire- 
power and mobility." 10/ 

The same paper listed some of the factors that it believed might lead 
to significant changes in Program #2|. They were: 

a) PRACTICE KIHE - Should this concept be implemented 
significant troop increases may be necessary. The physical 
barrier on the east flank would require (according to MA.CV) 
about 7700 additional personnel - 1 brigade , support and 2 
NMCBs. The remainder of the system would generate require- 
ments for 2 or 3 more brigades (possibly ROK) , an armored 
cavalry squadron and support - a total Practice 9 force of 
about k0,0Q0. 

b) Assuming the presently planned force levels and 
combat pace, some minor reductions in construction and support 
personnel should be possible in CY 1968. The magnitude and 
phasing cannot be determined at this time but might total 
10-15 j 000 personnel, beginning mid CY I968. 

c) If the war against the hard-core VC/WVA units should 
drop off sharply, next year., it may be possible to withdraw 

a major slice of U.S. combat and support units - perhaps as 
many as 100,000. This would encompass one or two divisions 
and support and five to ten tactical fighter squadrons. Such 
a step would reduce the overall cost of the war to the U.S.A. 
and hopefully stimulate the GVN to play a more responsible 
role. It would also lessen the economic dislocations caused 
by the massive U S. presence, and ease the burden in the U.S. 
.of supporting the effort in SKA., ll/ 

Interestingly only one of the three dealt with an increase while the 
others concentrated upon step-downs in U S. strength. 12/ The barrier 
remained a high probability -- planning as ve have seen (as well as some 
stationing) was proceeding; the other two were definitely low probability 
events. All of these considerations at Guam could only lead the decision- 
makers to conclude that although more troops would probably be requested, 
their numbers would be relatively small. 

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Finally , the third thrust of the military discussions at Guam could 
be detected in the military briefings which repeatedly stressed MACV's 
alarm about the enemy campaigns unfolding in I CTZ. He believed that the 
VC/WVA main force operations concentrated in the I CTZ area were part of 
their initial attempt to seize the tactical initiative. Westmoreland was 
more than ever impressed by the size and equipment of those enemy forces 
in the area; in his eyes they posed a serious threat to U.S. operations 
not only in I CTZ but all of SVN. The General also saw opportunity beckon., 
for here the decisive battles would be fought — present and portended 
combat in I CTZ had become the schwerpunkt . 13/ 

The record of what additional views were exchanged between COMUSMACV 
and the Washington leaders remains unclear. One can speculate that 
Westmoreland surely indicated he might require more troops , but he probably 
did not use any but round numbers, if he used them at all. At one point 
in John McNaughton 1 s notes the notation "100,000 more troops to VTT?" is 
listed under "Dirties," or unpleasant subjects for consideration, but other 
than that no formal record of force level discussions remains. lh/ 

Guam 1967? was attacked in the press as a political jaunt that 
impressed few and exhausted many. Symbolic as it may have been, it hardly 
seemed worth a trip to the distant Pacific to introduce some new ambassadors 
and award some air crew medals in the rain. 15/ The rapid transit through 
time zones and wearing nature of the discussions generated little enthusiasm 
among the official entourage, a malaise reflected throughout the newspaper 
and official accounts of the trip. 16/ The mood of optimism about the 
ground war situation and the general low pressure aspect of the military 
side of the Guam "Conference did little to prepare the decision-makers for 
the MACV-CIHCPAC force requests which broke in late March. 

2 . The MACV Request: "Essential" Looks Like " O ptimum" 

On 18 March, General Westmoreland submitted his analysis of current 
MACV force requirements projected through FY 68. This request was to 
furnish the base line for all further force deployment calculations during 
the Program 5 period. In preface to his specific request, COMUSMACV 
reviewed his earlier CY 67 requirement which asked for 22h maneuver bat- 
talions with their necessary combat and combat service support, a total 
strength of 555 9 7^1* This figure was the maximum figure requested during 
the Program h deliberations. The approved Program k package included only 
V?0,366 and was considerably below the MACV request, a fact which led to 
the series of reclamas described in Section II. Westmoreland related that 
MACV-CINCPAC had not strongly objected earlier to the ^70,000 man ceiling 
because of adverse piaster impact and the realities of service capabilities, 
but, subsequent reassessment of the situation had indicated clearly to him 
that the Program h force, although enabling U.S. force to gain the initi- 
ative did not "permit sustained operations of the scope and intensity 
required to avoid an unreasonably protracted war." 17/ 

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As the cable continued, the American commander in Vietnam briefly 
restated his earlier assessment of enemy trends: That the enemy had 
increased his force structure appreciably and was now confronting Free 
World Military Forces with large bodies of troops in and above the DMZ, 
in the Laotian and Cambodian sanctuaries and certain areas within SVN. 
In light of this new appraisal, he had established an early requirement 
for an additional 2-1/3 divisions which he proposed be accommodated by 
restructuring the original 555, 7I+I -man force package proposed during 
Program k. This force was required ,r as soon as possible but not later 
than 1 July 1968." Part of the reasoning was that this in effect con- 
stituted no more than a 6-month "extension" of the CY 67 program and as 
such would permit shifting force programming from a Calendar Year to a 
Fiscal Year basis, a shift long needed in COMUSMACV* s estimation to make 
force programming for Vietnam compatible with other programs and to pro- 
vide essential lead time in the procurement of hardware. Westmoreland 
then looked further ahead, noting: 

"...It is entirely possible that additional forces, over 
and above the immediate requirement for 2-l/3 Divisions, will 
materialize. Present planning, which will undergo continued 
refinement, suggests an additional 2-1/3 division equivalents 
whose availability is seen as extending beyond FY 68." 18/ 

Then as if to take the edge off his request, COMUSMACV turned attention 
to two programs which were becoming increasingly attractive to American 
decision-makers. These were development of an improved EVMAF and an in the other Free World Military Forces committed to the war 
in Vietnam. He commented that despite the force ceiling on RVNAF cur- 
rently in effect some selective increase in Vietnamese capabilities was 
required, such as creation of a suitable base for establishing a constab- 
ulary, an organization vital to the success of the Revolutionary Develop- 
ment program. Westmoreland stated that it was the position of his head- 
quarters that provision for a.ny and all Free World Military Forces was 
welcomed as "additive reinforcements," but they would be treated as addi- 
tions only, thereby having no effect upon U C S. force computations. 

The concept of operations under which the new forces he requested 
were to be employed varied little in its essential aspects from that out- 
lined in MACV's February "Assessment of the Military Situation and Concept 
of Operations," 1$/ which had reached Washing-ton but a week earlier. 
However, the new cable integrated the new forces as part of the MA.CV opera- 
tional forces.* Westmoreland reviewed the period just past then turned to 
the futui-e: 

"...our operations were primarily holding auctions 
characterized by border surveillance, reconnaissance to 
locate enemy forces, and spoiling attacks to disrupt the 
enemy offensive. As a result of our buildup and successes, 

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we were able to plan and initiate a general offensive. 
We now have gained the tactical initiative 5 and are con- 
ducting continuous small and occasional large-scale 
offensive operations to decimate the enemy forces; to 
destroy enemy base areas and disrupt his infrastructure; 
to interdict his land and water LOC's and to convince him, 
through the vigor of our offensive and accompanying psych- 
ological operations , that he faces inevitable defeat. 

"Military success alone will not achieve the US objec- 
tives in Vietnam. Political, economic, and psychological 
victory is equally important, and support of Revolutionary 
Development program is mandatory. The basic precept for 
the role of the military in support of Revolutionary Develop- 
ment is to provide a secure environment for the population 
so that the civil aspects of RD can progress." 20/ 


He then detailed corps by corps the two troop request requirements 
labeling them the "optimum force" (4-2/3 Divs) and the "minimum essential 
force" (2-1/3 Divs): 

"B. Force requirements FY 68 

(1) The MA.CV objectives for I967 were based on the 
assumption that the CY 67 force requirements would be approved 
and provided expeditiously within the capabilities of the 
services. However, with the implementation of Program Four, 
it was recognized that our accomplishments might fall short 

of our objectives. With the additional forces cited above, 
we would have had the capability to extend offensive opera- 
tions into an exploitation phase designed to take advantage 
of our successes. 

(2) With requisite forces, we shall be able to 
complete more quickly the destruction or neutralization of 
the enemy main forces and bases and, by continued presence, 
deny to him those areas in RVN long considered safe havens. 
As the enemy main forces are destroyed or broken up, increas- 
ingly greater efforts can be devoted to rooting out and 
destroying the VC guerrilla and communist infrastructure. 
Moreover, increased assistance can be provided the RVKA.F in 
support of its effort to provide the required level of sec- 
urity for the expanding areas undergoing Revolutionary 
Development . 

(3) Optimu m For ce.. The optimum force required 
implement the concept of operations and to exploit success 

is considered ^-2/3 divisions or the equivalent; 10 tactical 

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fighter squadrons with one additional base; and the full 
mobile riverine force. The order of magnitude estimate is 
201,250 opaces in addition to the I967 ceiling of 1+70,366 
for a total of 671,616. 

(A) In I Corps, the situation. is the most 
critical with respect to existing and potential force 
ratios. As a minimum, a division plus a regiment is 
required for Quang Tri Province as a containment force. 
The latter has been justified previously in another plan. 
Employment of this force in the containment role would 
release the units now engaged there for expansion of the 
DaNang, Hue-Phu Bai and Chu Lai TA0R ! s as well as increase 
security and control along the corps northern coastal areas. 
One of the most critical areas in RVN today is Quang Ngai 
Province even if a major operation were conducted in this 
area during 1967 3 the relief would be no more than temporary. 
A force is needed in the province to maintain continuous 
pressure on the enemy to eliminate his forces and numerous 
base areas, and to remove his control over the large popu- 
lation and food reserves. The sustained employment of a 
division of 10 battalions is mandatory in Quang Ngai Prov- 
ince if desired results are to be realized. Employment 
of this force would provide security for the vital coastal 
areas, facilitate opening and securing Route 1 and the 
railroad and, perhaps equally important, relieve pressure 
on northern Binh Dinh Province. 

(b) In II Corps, the is two fold: 
destroy the enemy main and guerrilla forces in the coastal 
areas; and contain the infiltration of NVA forces from 
Cambodia and Laos. Continual expansion both north and 
south of the present capital coastal TARO's opening and 
securing Route 1 and the railroad, securing Route 20 from 
Dalat south to the III Corps boundary, destruction of 
enemy forces in Pleiku and Kontum Provinces, and contain- 
ment of the enemy forces in the Cambodian and Laotian 
sanctuaries are all tasks to be accomplished given the 
large area in II Corps and the continuous enemy threat, 
an optimum force augmentation of four separate brigades 
is required to execute effectively an exploitation of our 
successes. An infantry brigade is needed in northern Binh 
Dinh Province to expand security along the coastal area 
and to facilitate operations in Quang Ngai Province to the 
north. A mechanized brigade in the western highlands will 
assist in offensive and containment operations in the 
Pleiku-Kontum area. An infantry brigade in the region of 
Ban Me Thout is needed to conduct operations against enemy 
forces and bases there apd to add security to this portion 


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of II Corps now manned with limited ARVN forces- and 
finally, a mechanized- brigade is needed in Birth Thuan 
Province to neutralize the enemy forces and bases in 
the southern coastal area, and to open and secure high- 
way 1 and the national railroad to the III Corps boundary. 

(C) In III Corps, operations to destroy 
VC/lWA main forces and bases in the northwestern & central 
parts of the corps area and to intensify the campaign against 
the enemy's infrastructure are being conducted. These 
operations are to be completed by intensive efforts to open 
and secure the principal land and water L0C T s throughout the 
Corps Zone. However, deployment of the US 9th Div to IV 
Corps will create a gap in the forces available in III Corps 
to operate against seen areas in Phuoc Tuy, 
Binh Tuy, and Long Lhanh Provinces. These areas constitute 
the home base of the still formidable 5th VC Division. This 
unit must be destroyed-, its bases neutralized and Route 1 
and the national railroad opened and secured. Other critical 
locales that will require considerable effort are War Zone 

D and Phuoc Long area in which the VC 7th Division is 
believed to be located. With the forces operating currently 
in III Corps, substantial progress can be made, but to 
exploit effectively our successes an addition of one div- 
ision, preferably air mobile is required. By basing this 
division in Bien Hoa Province just north of the RSSZ, It 
would be in position to conduct operations against the 5th 
Div, and War Zone D, as well as to reinforce the US 9th 
Div in Delta operations as required. 

(D) In IV Corps, with deploymient of the US 
9th Div to the Corps area and with increasing success of 
ARVN operations there, the situation will be greatly improved. 
Primary emphasis will be given to destroying VC main and 
guerrilla units and their bases, to intensifying operations 
to extend GVN control, to stopping the flow of food stuffs 
and materials to the enemy through Cambodia, and to assisting 
in the flow of goods to GVN outlets in Saigon. In addition 
emphasis will be accorded the opening and securing of princi- 
pal water and land L0C ! s which are the key to all operations 
in the Delta. It is noteworthy on this score, that effec- 
tiveness of forces available is hamperod severely by an 
inadequate mobile riverine force. In IV Corps, the essential 
requirement is to flesh out the mobile riverine force with 
three APB's (Barracks Ships) one ARL (repair ship), and two 
RAS (river assault squadrons). 

(h) The Minimum Essential Force necessary to 
exploit success of the current offensive and to retain 

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effective control of the expanding areas being cleaned 
of enemy influence is 2-l/3 divisions with a total of 21 
maneuver battalions. One division, with nine infantry 
battalions — each with h rifle companies — and an ACR 
of three squadrons are required. The other division of 
nine maneuver battalions, each battalion organized with 
four rifle companies is required in Quang Ngai Province. 
Four tactical fighter squadrons, each generating 113 
sorties per month per identified maneuver battalion, are 
required. Two squadrons will be stationed at Phu Cat and 
two at Tuy Hoa. One C-130 or equivalent type squadron 
can provide adequate airlift and is justified on the basis 
of current planning factors: This SQD would be based at 
Cam Ranh Bay. A minimum essential logistic base can be 
provided by selective augmentation of NSA Danang, and by 
provision for lift capability equivalent to eight LST's r 

in addition to two LST T s identified previously for the 
containment force in Quang Tri Province. Two non- 
divisional Army combat engineer battalions and four Army 
construction battalions will be required to support 
divisional engineering effort to augment two navy con- 
struction battalions that previously have been identified 
.with the containment force in Quang Tri Province. 


(B) Effectiveness of the US 9th Division's 
operations in IV Corps will be degraded unacceptably without 
adequate mobility on the waterways. For this reason, addi- 
tion of two river assault squadrons with their associated 
support is deemed essential. The Mekong Delta Mobile 
Riverine Force originally was tailored and justified as 
a four MS level. This requirement still is valid. The 
primary media of transport in the Delta are air and water. 
Air mobility is recognized as critical to success of opera- 
tions in the area, but the size of offensive operations that 
can be mounted is limited by the inherent physical limita- 
tions of airborne vehicles. Accordingly, any sizeable 
offensive operation such as those visualized for the US 
9th Division must utilize the 300km of waterways in the 
Delta to exploit tactical mobility. Maintenance of LOC's 
and population control in the areas secured by the divi- 
sion's operations, along with ex-tension of the interdiction 
effort, necessitates expansion of the game warden operation. 
Fifty PBR ! s can provide this capability based on experience 
factors accrued thus far. 2l/ 

The piaster impact of this request to which much lip-service was 
still being paid varied from kk billion piasters for the 4-2/3 division 
optimum force to 4-1.7 billion piasters for the minimum essential force. 

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The proposed increase added an estimated 1.1 billion piasters to the 
1967 program for a total estimated cost of J46.7 billion estimated 
additional costs for CY 68 under the projected programs would total 
2.8 billion piasters , 1.2 billion coming during January through June 
and the remaining 1.6 billion for July through December. 


Westmoreland concluded the long request with an observation which 
to provide the basis for considerable dispute within the government 
He wrote: 

"...Whereas deployment of additional US forces in 
FY 68 will obviate the requirement for a major expansion 
of the RVHAF, selective increases are necessary to opti- 
mize combat effectiveness. Regular forces proposed for 
FY 68 total 328,322, an increase of 6,367 spaces of the FY 
67 authorization. As US, Free World and RVNAF operations 
are expanded, additional areas will be made available for 
the conduct of Revolutionary Development operations. Based 
on experience gained thus far, an increase of 50,000 RF/PF 
spaces will be required to provide a planning figure of 
350,000 spaces for this force. The increase will accom- 
modate necessary support of Revolutionary Development and 
concomitantly, will be compatible with requirements incident 


to implementation of the constabulary concept. 2 


His emphasis upon RF/PF spaces in lieu of expansion of the RVMF which 
could theoretically substitute for additional U.S. troops prompted many 
who disagreed with the basic increases to ask why the US should meet 
such expanded troop requirements when the Government of South Vietnam 
would neither mobilize its manpower nor effectively employ it according 
to US wishes. 23/ 

3 • The JCS Take Up the March: The CINCPAC Force Requirements 
Task Group and JCSM-218-67. 

JCS reaction to the C0MUSMACV message was predictably rapid. The 
Chiefs realized that the general analysis provided in the original MACV 
request would prove to be. inadequate for the SecDef to either assess the 
validity of the requirements or the sufficiency of the means of meeting 
them. Consequently, they directed that detailed analyses be submitted to 
them from MACV/ciNCPAC on a time-phased basis commencing on 26 March. 2k/ 
In a realistic reflection of the feasibility of the two proposals, the 
JCS required that the minimum essential force be addressed in as much 
detail as time permitted and that the optimum force be addressed in only 
general terms. They asked that the analysis include not only an expansion 
of the concept but: (l) a listing of the force requirements additive to 
0SD Program ^4; (2) the rationale to validate these increased requirements; 
(3) the service capabilities to provide validated force requirements; 


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(k) the logistic implications and the discussion of any problem areas 
which they (MACV) anticipated in meeting them. 25/ 

On 26 March COMUSMACV submitted to the CINCPAC Requirements Task 
Group a detailed troop listing for the 2-1/3 division "minimum essential 
force." Other than providing a detailed list of TO&E's and unit small 
strengths , the document provides little of interest. It did stipulate 
that the northern portion of the minimum essential force would be directed 
toward an expanded infiltration interdiction mission and that the southern 
portion of the force would pursue "presently prescribed operations." 26 / 

In a follow-up message to the Task Requirements Group on the 28th 
of March ' COMUSMACV again commented on the restrictive aspects of Program hi 27 / 
This in turn was picked up and amplified by CINCPAC in a message to the JCS 
on the same day. 28/ CINCPAC pointed out that as of 9 March I967 Program k 
was 38, 21+1 spaces short of full implementation and that this figure included 
spaces for five battalions or their equivalents which could not be considered 
for trade-off purposes. All of these spaces, especially the battalion 
equivalents , were significant elements when considered within the perspec- 
tive of MACV's operational requirements and could not be deleted without 
seriously impairing MACV capability to achieve its objectives. In light 
of this shortfall in Program h CINCPAC requested that the JCS reconsider 
its earlier proposal that a Uth rifle company be added to all U.S. Army 
infantry battalions in Vietnam. The logic behind such & raise in program 
ceiling which would increase materially the combat power and effectiveness 
of the infantry without increasing unit overhead was irrefutable in 
CINCPAC 1 s eyes. CINCPAC proposed that the addition of the rifle companies, 
a total of 8,821 men, be added to the Program h ceiling for a total of 
^79>231 of all services. The space requirements for the 2-1/3 division 
minimum essential force reflected in the COMUSMACV request would then be 
added on to the adjusted Program h total of ^79,000. However, in the event 
that any or all of the spaces reflected in that 1+79,000 were not approved 
or that the package itself would be reduced, the Pacific Commander predicted 
grave curtailment in MACV operations and a danger that the operational 
objectives set for the force requirements initially would not be achieved. 

By 28 March the JCS through the CINCPAC group had the detailed 
justification and planning calculations for the COMUSMACV 67 force require- 
ments in hand. MACV had added little that was new in the way of strategic 
concept other than to reaffirm their intention to concentrate on certain 
priority areas in each corps tactical zone. Priority areas themselves were 
selected because they seemed best suited to achieve destruction or neutral- 
ization of enemy main forces and bases -- persistently prime MACV goals. 
Despite this strong declaration of intent MACV hedged by noting that "the 
enemy -will be struck wherever he presents a lucrative target." 29 / Forces 
would also be maintained by MACV outside the priority areas to contain the 
enemy in his out of country sanctuaries. In this connection, the planners 
anticipated that there would be large scale offensive operations continu- 
ously conducted during FY 68 to detect and destroy infiltration or invasion 
forces in the DMZ-Highland Border regions. 

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If the forces outlined under the optimum force request were granted 
priority was to be accorded to the expansion of secure areas. The RVNAF 
would be given the primary responsibility of providing military support 
of Revolutionary Development activities and Revolutionary Development 
operations would be intensified throughout "the country as the pacified 
areas were expanded. MACV explained that such increased demands on the 
RVNAF would establish a concomitant demand for additional U.S. force 
resources to fill the operational void resulting from the intensified 
Revolutionary Development orientation of the RVNAF. The long message 
also broke out the minimum essential and optimum package forces by service 
and by total troops as shown in the table below. 3°/ 

(2-1/3 Div Min 
essential Force) 





Air Force 






(2-1/3 Div Addi- 
tion for optimum 
force package) 

100,527 * 


ii8 5 if la 

(Total Opti- 
mum Force) 





* Includes 5,5^7 spaces required to incorporate MACOV Study recommendation 



The total optimum force end strength was 678,2^8 arrived at by adding the '• 
approved Program h strength of V70,000 to the earlier MACV reclaim of 
8,821 (see page 68 this section) and the "optimum force" additive of 
199,017* The justification for additional forces broken out by corps 
tactical zones were essentially the same as those presented in the original 
MACV request on 18 March. However, the later document prepared at PACOM 
Hqs on the 28th reflected the increased concern with the enemy threat 
developing in the I Corps tactical zone. Concerning this threat, COMUSMACV 
wrote : 

"In I Corps tactical zone, the bulk of the population 
and the food producing regions are within 15 miles of the 
coast. In the northern part of the zone, multiple NVA 
Divisions possess the capability to move south of the DMZ. 
Additionally, there is constant enemy activity in much of 
the coastal area. The topography of I Corps lends itself 
to the establishment a,nd maintenance of enemy base areas in 
the remote, sparsely populated regions. The enemy has opera- 
ted for years virtually unmolested throughout most of Quang 
Ngai Province because friendly forces could not be diverted 
from other important tasks. 

"There are several important tasks which must be per- 
• formed in I Corps. Security of bases and key population 


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centers must be maintained. The area, under GVN control 
must be extended by expanding existing TA0R*s, and by 
opening and securing major LOC's, particularly Route 1. 
The enemy must be contained in his sanctuaries, and denied 
use of infiltration and invasion routes. Enemy main forces 
and bases must be sought out and destroyed. Surveillance 
and reconnaissance in force throughout the CTZ must comple- 
ment the tasks discussed above. 

"The deployment of a division and an armored cavalry 
regiment to Quang Tri Province, south of the fflZ, would 
make it possible for Marine Corps units now conducting con- 
tainment operations to secure and expand tactical areas of 
responsibility (TAOR's). 

"The RVMAF and US/FWMAF will intensify operations 
against organized enemy forces and base areas in and near 
the populated and food producing areas of the coastal 
plains thus denying them access to population and food 

"Clearing and securing operations will be pursued 
to facilitate the expansion of the secured areas, the 
ultimate goal being to connect the Hue-Phu Bai, Danang, 
and' Chu Lai TA0R T s. The following major L0C ! s will be 
opened and secured: Route 9> from Route 1 to Thon Sa.n Lam.; 
and Route 1. and the railroad throughout the entire length 
of I CTZ, including the spur to the An Hoa industrial complex. 

"One of the most critical areas in the RVN today is 
Quang Ngai Province. A division is required there to main- 
tain continuous pressure on the enemy, to eliminate his forces 
and numerous base areas, and to remove his control over large 
population and food resources. 

"Sustained employment of a division in Quang Ngai would 
obviate the necessity to use other forces to meet a critical 
requirement. The division would provide security for the 
coastal area, facilitate opening and securing Route 1 and the 
railroad, and relieve some of the pressure on northern Binh 
Dinh Province. Of particular significance is the support 
which would be provided to the RVNAF in securing the important 
Mo Due Area with its dense population and three annual rice 
crops. Additionally, deployment of the division as discussed 
above would allow III MAF to expand its clearing and securing 
operations into the heavily populated Tarn Ky area north of 
the Chu Lai TAOR. Long term security must be provided for 

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"both of these areas so that Revolutionary Development 
can progress. 

"Failure to provide two and one -third divisions for 
I CTZ would result in the diversion of existing forces 
from other tasks to deny and defeat infiltration or invasion. 
Security in support of Revolutionary Development could not 
be increased to the desired degree in the coastal area, the 
major LOC's could not be opened throughout the CTZ, and the 
enemy would be able to continue operating virtually unmolested 
throughout the key Quang Ngai Province. 

!! It is emphasized that the relationship of the two and 
one-third division force requirement for I Corps to that 
of Practice Nine is coincidental. This force is the minimum 
essential required to support operations planned for FY 68 
without reference to Practice Nine. 

• . . 

" 31, 

The next most dangerous situation appeared to be that in II Corps, a 
diverse geographical area which included major population centers along the 
coastal plains as well as sizeable population centers and military bases 
on the western plateau, such as Binh Dinh, Anke, Kontum, and Pleiku. Here 
the enemy, orienting himself on the population, presented a different prob- 
lem which, in the words of General Westmoreland^ required "a high degree of 
mobility and flexibility in U . S . /FWMA.F/RVKA.F . " As he analysed the corps 
tactical situation, Westmoreland reemphasized what he had already said 
about containing the large enemy military forces at the boundaries of the 

"Enemy forces in the Pleiku and Kontum areas must be 
destroyed, and infiltration from Cambodia and Laos must be 
contained. Forces in-country will continue to make progress 
in areas of current deployment. Those programmed for deploy- 
ment will augment this effort. However, there are gaps, as 
discussed below, that must be filled before success can be 
exploited and minimum essential security can be provided 
within the II Corps area. 

"Large enemy forces remaining in heavily populated 
Binh Dinh Province must be destroyed. Security must be 
established and maintained in the northern portion of the 
province, particularly along the coastal area, so that 
Revolutionary Development can progress, these security 
forces also will facilitate the conduct of operations in 
Quang Ngai Province. 

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"inadequacy of forces in the border areas is a sig- 
nificant weakness in II Corps. Reinforcement of units in 
the western highlands is needed to assist in the conduct 
of offensive and containment operations. With the large 
enemy forces located in "border sanctuaries , II Corps is 
faced constantly with the possible requirement to divert 
critical resources from priority tasks to counter large 
scale intrusion." 32/ 

The most pressing military objective in III Corps area was to expand 
security radially from the Saigon-Cholon area. MA.CV planned to accomplish 
this primarily by standard c3.earing and security operations featuring an 
intensified campaign conducted to root out the VC infrastructure. In 
conjunction with this, continuous pressure presumably in the form of 
search and destroy operations would be applied to the enemy in War Zones 
C and D, the Iron Triangle, and the base area clusters in the Phuoc Long 
area. Denial of these areas to the enemy would provide a protective 
shield behind which the Revolutionary Development programs could operate. 
However, deployment of the U.S. 9th Division to the ^-th Corps area would 
create a gap in the forces available in III Corps and seriously degrade 
the capabi3.ity to provide this shield. The possible repositioning of the 
assets existing within III Corps to either I CTZ in the north or the 9th 
Division relocation just to the soiith just mentioned could also seriously 
limit the offensive capabilities in the northern and central portion of 
III Corps. Accordingly, COMJSMA.CV expressed an urgent requirement for an 
additional division for III Corps. This unit would be positioned just 
north of the Rung Sat operation zone and would assist in maintaining the 
protective shield around Saigon-Cholon. Revolutionary Development opera- 
tions would then be able to proceed unhindered and operations against the 
VC 5th Division could be reinforced if required. 33/ 

Throughout the force requirement justifications, one is immediately 
struck by the implicit ordering of the priorities for assignment of forces 
and missions. It is quite clear that the "minimum essential force" which 
COMUSMACV requested was intended to be employed against VC/lWA main force 
units in a containment role in the border areas and a destruction-disruption 
mode in I CTZ as well as the base areas within the country itself. Those 
forces over and above the "minimum essential," so labelled the "optimum 
force," were those intended to take up the slack in the RB "shield" role. 
MA.CV, probably rightly, calculated that not even minimal gains such as 
were forthcoming in the under-manned RD program would be possible unless 
the VC/NVA main force operations could be stymied and kept from directly 
assaulting the "shields." 

. Before the JCS could formally ratify the COMJSMA.CV-CIWCPAC FY 68 
force requirements, two other events transpired which had significant 
influence on the development of ground force requirements. On 7 April, 
as the situation in I CTZ deteriorated COMUSMACV posted a provisional 
division named Task Force OREGON to Quang Ngai Province. This develop- 
ment caused a reappraisal of the 2-1/2 division minimum essential force 

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requirement submitted in the 28 March message. In effect, the require- - 
ment for a division in Q,uang Ngai Province which was identified in the 
late March cable was being filled by Task Force OREGON. 3 V The provis- 
ional division was composed of the 3^3 Brigade of the 25th Infantry 
Division, 196th Light Infantry Brigade and the 1st Brigade of the 101st 
Airborne Division. Permanent assignment of the airborne brigade to the 
north had an especially adverse impact because it was the sole reserve 
of the First Field Force. This shifting of forces created an undesirable 
situation in that MACV would possibly be forced to assign a mechanized 
battalion as the Field Force reserve. Accordingly, COMUSMACV cancelled 
his urgent request for a cavalry unit in the north and asked to delay 
further discussions on this subject until during his visit to Washington 
in the next two weeks. 35/ Concurrent with the movement of Task Force 
OREGON to the north COMUSMACV submitted via CINCPAC to the JCS a request to 
deploy the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade from Okinawa to South Vietnam. 
JCSM 208-67? prepared by the Chiefs on the subject, proposed that two 
special landing forces from the brigade be stationed off the Vietnamese 
coast to be committed when required by COMUSMACV and the remainder of the 
MAB placed on 15-day call in Okinawa. The proviso that unless these forces 
were employed on a contingency basis they would revert to their normal 
schedules by 1 September was inserted in the recommendation at CINCPAC T s 
request. He disagreed with the dismemberment of the PACOM strategic 
reserve. This proposal was approved by the Secretary of Defense on Ik April 
and the brigade removed to Vietnamese waters shortly thereafter. 36 / 

On 20 April, the JCS, in JCSM-218-67, formally reported to the 
Secretary of Defense that MACV required additional forces to achieve 
the objectives they considered the U.S. was pursuing in Vietnam. The 
JCS announcement came as little surprise to the Secretary of Defense 
since as early as 23 March he had seen the original message in which 
COMUSMACV had outlined the minimum essential and optimum force require- 
ments. 37/ ' ■ 

JCSM-128-67 reaffirmed the basic objectives and strategic concepts, 
contained in JCSM 702-66 dated k November 1966. Briefly, these entailed 
a national objective of attaining a stable and independent non-communist 
government in South Vietnam and a four-fold military contribution toward 
achieving the objectives of: 

"(a) Making it as difficult and costly as possible for 
the NVA to continue effective support of the VC and to cause 
North Vietnam to direction of the VC insurgency. 

"(b) To defeat the VC/NVA and force the withdrawal 
of NVA forces. 

"(c) Extend government dominion, direction and control. 

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"(d) To deter Chinese Communists from direct interven- 
tion in SEA. 

The JCS listed three general areas of military effort that they felt 
should be pursued in the war: 

fr (l) Operations against the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese 
Array (VC/nVA) forces in SVN while concurrently assisting the 
South Vietnamese Government in their nation-building efforts. 

"(2) Operations to obstruct and reduce the flow of men 
and materials from Worth Vietnam (NV) to SVN. 

"(3) Operations to obstruct and reduce imports of war- 
sustaining materials into NVN. 

They continued by assessing the achievements of the US and allies in these 
three areas : 

"in the first area, the United States and its allies 
have achieved considerable success in operations against 
VC/NVA forces. However, sufficient friendly forces have not 
been made available to bring that degree of pressure to bear 
on the enemy throughout SVN which would be beyond his abil- 
ity to accommodate and which would provide the secure environ- 
ment essential to sustained progress in Revolutionary Develop- 
ment. The current reinforcement of I CTZ by diversion of forces 
from II and III CTZs reduces the existing pressure in those 
areas and inevitably will cause a loss of momentum that must 
be restored at the earliest practicable date. 

"In the second area, US efforts have achieved appreci- 
able success. Greater success could be realized if a,n 
expanded system of targets were made available. 

"In the third area, relatively little effort has been 
permitted. This failure to obstruct and reduce imports of 
war- sustaining materials into NVN has affected unfavorably 
the desired degree of success of operations in the other areas. 39/ 

The Joint Chiefs strongly recommended not only the approval of addi- 
tional forces to provide an increased level of effort in SVN but that action 
be taken to reduce and obstruct the enemy capability to import the material 
support required to sustain the war effort. They argued that the cumulative 
effect of all these operations, in South Vietnam, in North Vietnam and 
against the enemy's strategic lines of communication would hasten the 
successful conclusion of the war and would most likely reduce the overall 
ultimate force requirements. Their rationale for the 1968 forces was sum- 

marized as follows: 

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"The FY 1968 force for SVN is primarily needed to 
offset the enemy's increased posture in the vicinity of 
the DMZ and to improve the environment for Revolutionary 
Development in I and IV CTZs. To achieve the secure environ- 
ment for lasting progress in SVN, additional military forces 
must be provided in order to (l) destroy the enemy main 
force , (2) locate and destroy district and provincial guer- 
rilla forces , and (3) provide security for the population. 
The increased effort required to offset VC/lWA main forces 1 ^ 
pressure is diminishing the military capability to provide 
a secure environment to villages and hamlets. Diversion 
of forces from within SVN and the employment of elements of 
CINCPAC's reserve are temporary measures at the expense of 
high-priority programs in other parts of SVN. Thus, if 
sufficient units are to be available to provide both direct 
and indirect support to Revolutionary Development throughout 
SVN, added forces must be deployed. 

"The three-TFS force for Thailand and the additional 
Navy forces in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin 
are required to bring increased pressures to bear on NVN." ho/ 

The service capabilities to meet the force requirements which the chiefs 
recommended presented another problem. The JCS examined these capabilities 
under two alternative cases: 

" Case I - No Reserve callup or extension of terms of 
service. Present tour and rotation policies would be main- 
tained. By July I968, only a one and one -third Army division 
force, a part of the mobile riverine force, and no additional 
Marine Corps forces could be in place in SVN. A second Army 
division force to fill out the FY 1968 requirement probably 
could not be provided until the first half of FY 1970. The 
additional 8" gun cruiser, five additional destroyers, and 
about half of the in-country naval forces could be provided in 
FY 1968, but only by the undesirable expedient of extending 
present periods of deployment. The three TFS in Thailand 
and five in SVN requested by CINCPAC could be furnished in 
FY 1968. Three TFS in SVN would be required to meet the need 
for air support of the one and one-third divisions that could 
be deployed in FY 1968. 

" Case II — Callup of Reserves and a twelve-month invol- 
untary extension of terms of service. Present tour and 
rotation policies would be maintained. A Reserve callup 
and the collateral actions enumerated below would enable 
the Services to provide the major combat forces required in 

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PACOM not later than end FY 1968. The forces would include 
one and one-third Army divisions, three US Air Force TFS, - 
one Marine division/wing team which includes two TFS, the 
major portion of the mobile riverine force 5 naval patrol 
forces, and most of the required support forces for SVN; 
three US Air Force TFS in Thailand; one additional 8" gun 
cruiser and five additional destroyers ." 41/ 

Prominently identified in each of these cases were issues revolving 
around requirements for calling up of the Reserves and extension of terms 
of service , end strength increases above current force levels , expansion 
of the COMJS sustaining base, additional funds in the FY 68 budget, draw- 
down of the war reserve and preposition stocks and partial mobilization 
of' the industry. Fundamental to the development of the service plans was 
the effort to minimize the impact on the overall- U.S. military posture but 
even the Chiefs concluded that: 

"Considering our current worldwide commitments a 
1 Reserve callup for a minimum of 2k months and involuntary 

extension of terms of service for twelve months are the 
only feasible means of meeting the additional FY 1968 
requirements in the stipulated time frame. The effect of 
a 24- month limitation on callup of Reserves is that the 
Armed Forces would expend their major reserve assets by 
end FY 1972 as a result of successive callup and commitment 
, of Reserve units. This would be avoided if Reserve units 

were held for the duration of the emergency. Authority 
to do this and to extend terms of service involuntarily 
would require Congressional action. 1 ' 4-2, 

and consequently recommended that : 

"a. The military strategy for the conduct of the 
war in Southeast Asia, as described in Appendix A, be 
approved in principle. 

t! b. The list of forces in Appendix C, Case II /2|- 
Divisions, approx. 71,000 Army and 5 TFSs/ less forces 
approved on 8 April 1967* he approved for deployment. 

n c. Authority be obtained for a. Reserve callup for 
a minimum of 2k months and involuntary extension of terms 
of service for twelve months in order to meet FY 1968 force 
requirements and to prepare for possible future requirements 

"d. To support the preceding recommended actions, 
authority be granted to provide for: 

"(l) Access to equipment from sources in the 
following priority: 


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> »■ 

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"(a) COMJS depot assets and programmed 
production deliveries not committed to higher priority 

"(b) Operational project stocks. 

Tr (c) Contingency stocks. 

tr (d) Reserve components not scheduled for callup. n 

"(e) Pre-positioned equipment in Europe. 

"(f) Diversion of items for recently activated units. 

"(g) Drawdown from nondeploying active units in COMJS. 

"(2) Reopening of COMJS inactive installations, as 

required." k3j 


^ • The Stimulation of Inter-Agency Reviews; A Proliferation of 
I I Alternatives. 

The Chiefs' recommendations , if carried out, promised to spawn signif- 
icant political and economic repercussions and they stimulated a plethora 
of inter-agency reviews and studies of the situation in Vietnam. The majority 
of these in one way or another examined the wisdom of sending more forces 
there. The first of these reviews originated in the State Department, in 
the office of Undersecretary Nicholas deB. Katzeribach. In a memorandum, he 
listed three jobs which he felt had to be done in Vietnam. 

"1. Assess the current situation in Viet-Nam and the 
various- political and military actions which could be taken 
to bring this to a successful conclusion; 

"2. Review the possibilities for negotiation, including 
an assessment of the ultimate U.S. position in relationship to 
the DRV and NLF; and 

"3- Assess the military and political effects of intens- 
ification of the war in South Viet -Nam and in North Viet -Nam." 

He asked that the responsible agencies (Defense, White House, CIA, 
State) prepare relevant study papers under the three tasks which he out- 
lined. DOD was asked to define a,nd analyze consequences of two likely 
• 'alternatives: the first, Course A, added a minimum of 200,000 men and 
greatly intensified military actions outside the south especially against 
the north. This option included two deployment phases. The first coin- 
ciding to the minimum essential force which General Westmoreland and the 
JCS had requested, that is 100,000 troops (2-l/3 divisions plus k tactical 
air squadrons) to be deployed in FY 67. and a second phase of another 100,000 

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(2-1/3 divisions and 6 tactical air squadrons) to be deployed in FY 67. 
Course A, as Katzeribach described it, also included "more later to ful- 
fill the JCS alternate requirements." Course B confined troop increases 
to "those that could be generated without calling up the reserves" — 
perhaps 9 battalions or about 10,000 men in the next year. k^J 

The first option, Course A, was to be analyzed across a matrix of 
many factors such as cost, actions required, trends, call up of reserves, 
extension of tours, enlargement of uniformed strength, effect on U.S. 
force deployment, involvement in pacification, possible stimulation by 
this course of great intensification of military actions outside South 
Vietnam including invasion of North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The 
domestic reaction including possible polarization of opinion and stimu- 
lation of pressures for actions outside Vietnam, the manner in which to 
approach the public and the Congress on this course, and finally the inter- 
national reactions on the part of the North Vietnamese, Soviets, Chinese 
and other nations were also to be examined. The Undersecretary also asked 
for an analysis of the effect of Course A on the possibilities for a 

In addition to addressing the same considerations as under Course A 
in Part B, the respondents were asked to analyze how our military strategy 
under this meager troop level would differ from that of the larger 
level, how the level of actions against North Vietnam a,nd Cambodia would 
look, the effect of such a small added increment on our flexibility, and 
the effect on the VC/nVA. Finally, McNaughton representing D0D was requested 
to analyze possible bombing strategies in the North as they related to both 
courses of action. 

Katzeribach suggested consideration of measures which could be taken 
in the south to strengthen the GVN and develop the RVNAF as a substitute 
for more U.S C troops, thereby placing primary emphasis on the war in the 
South and perhaps allow us to cut back on the bombing in the North. 
Katzeribach also felt that some consideration should be given to a study 
of the present use of U.S. forces and whether they are being used in the 
most efficient ways possible, in effect a reappraisal of ground force 
strategy • He asked that such measures as the following be discussed: 

(a) Expansion of RF/PF by 100,000 in FY I968; 

(b) Efforts to improve RVNAF leadership, including 
insistence on dismissal of incompetent commanders, with- 
holding of MP from ineffective units, and some sort of US 
rewards for competent commanders; 

(a) A Joint Command j 

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(d) A great expansion of the US advisory structure , 
especially with RF/PF; 

(e) Increased training for ARVN; 

(f) Increase RVHA.F pay, housing, rations and other 
incentives; push for a better promotion policy; 

(g) Improve RVNAF equipment." k6 / 


On the same day, 2k April, Robert Komer, upon his departure from 
Washington for Saigon submitted a memo to the President in which he 
presented his thoughts on future strategy in Vietnam. He began by 
lamenting the emergence of a tendency on the part of the United States 
to resort in our frustration to actions in Vietnam which we could control, 
e.g. bombing operations, U.S. ground force operations in lieu of what he 
termed "the much tougher, slower and less certain measures required to 
make the Vietnamese pull their weight." k^/ He recommended that we re- 
examine trade-offs for making the Vietnamese do their part because, in his 
estimation, measures which had been previously rejected looked a great 
deal more appealing now when matched against the potential alternatives 
of major troop increases or a widened bombing offensive. He concluded 
that the critical variable in the equation for success In Vietnam during 
the following 12-18 months was the conflict in the South. He saw the VC as 
the "weak sister" of the enemy team; in fact, he believed that the JWA 
strategy in I Corps was designed to take pressure off the VC in the south. 
Then he addressed ways to maximize the clmnces of a breakthrough in the 
South : 

"Therefore, if we could maximize the pressures of all 
kinds on the VC — direct and Indirect—political, economic, 
psychological and military- -we might at the optimum force 
Hanoi to fade away, or at the minimum achieve such success 
as to make clear to all that the war was being won. Such a 
course would also reinforce the pressures for negotiation. 
But if we can't get a settlement in 12-18 months, at the 
least we should shoot for such concrete results in South 
Vietnam that it might permit us to start bringing a few 
troops home rather than sending ever more out. 

"I confess here to a strong bias that we are already 
winning the war in the South. No one who compares the situ- 
ation today to that of April I966 (much less April I965) 
can deny we're doing better. But many contend we've just 
stopped losing, not started winning. Much depends on one's 
confidence in our 0/b estimates, which I for one flatly 
question—especially with regard to VC recruiting rates 
and losses in the South. Much also depends on how much 
weight one gives to political trends, changing popular 


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attitudes, etc. But I won't argue the case here—time 
will tell who's right. In any case, we're not drawing 
ahead clearly enough or fast enough to optimize our 
confidence in achieving a 12-18 month turnaround." ^48/ 

Finally, he questioned the rationale for the major force increases 
COMUSMACV had asked: 

" How Much Would We Achieve from a Major New US Force 
' Commit ment? COMUSMACV is asking for 210,000 men no later than 
June 19^oand roughly 100,000 as soon as possible (on top of 
the 1+70,000 plus 60,000 ROK's, etc. already programmed). How- 
ever, MAGV's justification for these added forces needs further 
review. To what extent are they based on inflated o/b estimates 
of enemy strength? If enemy main force strength is now levelling 
off because of high kill ratios, etc., would the added US forces 
be used for pacification? General De Puy estimates that 50^ 
of US/R0K maneuver battalions are already supporting RD by 
dealing with the "middle war" , the VC main force provincial 
battalions. How good are US forces at pacification-related 
tasks, as compared to RVKA.F? What are the trade-offs? A major 
US force commitment to pacification also basically changes the 
nature of our presence in Vietnam and might force us to stay 
indefinitely in strength. Whether or not the added US forces 
would become heavily involved in pacification, however, another 
major US force increase raises so many other issues that we 
must carefully examine whether this trip Is necessary." 


To this Komer added a package of alternative measures designed to get the 
GVN moving — militarily, politically, economically — all of which he felt 
might reduce or obviate the need for a major U.S. force increase. This 
program included: 

"-"•* Fir st is an all-out effort t o get m ore for our 
money ou t of RVNAF. We have trained and equipped over 650,000 
(and for so little cost that it is a good investment in any case). 
But can't we greatly increase the return? 

( a ) Insist on jacking up -RVNAF leadership at all 
levels. All observers agree that this is RVNAF 1 s most critical 
weakness. A massive attack on it could pay real short-run 
dividends'. Insist on dismissal of incompetent commanders. 
Find US means for rewarding competent ones, such as withholding 
MAP from ineffective units. 

(b) Insist on a Jo int Command. Putting at least 
ARVN under Westy and his corps commanders might be the best 
short -run way to get more response out of ARVN. If it would 
ease the GVN problem, the contingents of the other five con- 
tributors could be added/ Whatever the problems entailed, 
they seem small to me compared to sending another 200,000 men. 


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( c ) Greatly Expand the US Advisory Structure , , 
Especially with RF/PF . • Here's another quick way to get more 
for our money. In some cases the troop to advisor ratio In • 
RF/PF is 1,000 to 1. Only 1,200 advisors (the strength of 
one USMC maneuver battalion) might have many times the payoff. 

(d) Exp and RVNAF as a substitute for more US 
forces. We sty wants 50,000 more RF/PF in FY I968. Let's 
consider 100,000 in a two-phase expansion. 

( e ) Increase RVNA.F pay, housing, ration, and other 
incentive s. Bull through a better promotion policy. The 
savings from cutting back on non-productive units and expendi- 
tures might finance much of the increase. . 

(f) Enrich RVNAF equipment . I'm told the rifles 
and carbines are poor, that more radios for RF/PF would help 
greatly, that new equipment would build up morale and effective 

A crash program along the above lines would be cheap at 
the price, in fact so cheap that we probably ought to do most 
of it anyway. Piaster and manpower constraints are manageable 
in my view. 

^ • Expand civilian pacification programs along similar 
lines : 

(a) We're turning out RD teams about as fast as 
feasible. So supplement them with "instant RD teams" on model 
of civil/military team in Binh Dinh. 


(b) Even kk more US advisors for RD teams would mak< 
a big supervisory difference. Ditto for 50 more US advisors for 
the police. 

(c) Give RD teams and police all the equipment they 
need—from military stocks. 

(d) Integrate the US advisory effort on pacification 
to provide a new forward thrust. 

(e) Press harder for removal of incompetent or cor- 
rupt province and district officials. 

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3 • Revamp and put new steam behind a coordinated 
US/GVN intelligence collation and action effort targeted 
on the VC infrastructure at the critical provincial, district , 
and village levels. We are just not getting enough payoff 
yet from the massive intelligence we are increasingly collect- 
ing. Police/military coordination is sadly lacking both in 
collection and in swift reaction. 

k . Pre ss much harder on radical land reform initiatives 
designed to consolidate rural support behind the GVN. 

5- Step up refugee programs deliberately aimed at 
depriving the VC of a recruiting b ase." poj 

His argument and one which he was about to have the opportunity to 
prove in Vietnam was simply that such a package of measures might offer 
just as much prospect of accelerating the favorable trends in SVN over 
the next 12-18 months as new U.S. military commitments. He closed by 
pointing out that the "Komer package" could be combined with other U.S. 
unilateral measures such as a minor force increase to the 500,000 level, 
accelerated emphasis on the barrier, and some increased bombing, but he 
cautioned that all of this was vitally dependent upon his underlying 
premise that we were already doing well enough in SVN TI to see light at 
the end of the tunnel." But, despite his optimistic assumptions he 
believed that his package at least offered sufficient promise to deserve 
urgent review by the President. 51/ 

On 25 April, General Westmoreland returned to the U.S. ostensibly 
to address the Associated Press Annual Convention in New York, but actu- 
ally to both undertake an intensive review of his strategy and force 
requirements for Vietnam in I967 and to mar shall public support for the 
war effort. John McNaughton, then ASD(lSA) reported portions of the con- 
versation which occurred between the President, General Westr.aore3.and, and 
General Wheeler on 27 April 1967- Westmoreland was quoted as saying that 
without the 2-l/3 additional divisions which he had requested "we will 
not be in danger of being defeated but it will be nip and tuck to oppose 
the reinforcements the enemy is capable of providing. In the final anal- 
ysis we are fighting a war of attrition in Southeast Asia." 52/ 

Westmoreland predicted that the next step if we were to pursue our 
present strategy to fruition would probably be the second addition of 
2-l/3 divisions or approximately another 100,000 men. Throughout the 
conversations he repeated his assessment that the war would not be lost 
but that progress would certainly be slowed down. To him this was "not 
an encouraging outlook but a realistic one." When asked about the influ- 
ence of increased infiltration upon his operations the general replied 
that as he saw it "this war is action and counteraction. Anytime we take 
an action we expect a reaction." The President replied: "When we add 
divisions can't the enemy add divisions? If so, where does it all end?" 

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Westmoreland answered: "The VC and DRV strength in SVN now totals 
285,000 men. It appears that last month we reached the crossover point 
in areas excluding the two northern provinces ." (Emphasis added.) 
"Attritions will be greater than additions to the force.... The enemy has 8 
divisions in South Vietnam. He has the capability of deploying 12 divisions 
although he would have difficulty supporting all of these. He would be 
hard pressed to support more than 12 divisions. If we add 2-l/2 divisions , 
it is likely the enemy will react by adding troops." The President then 
asked "At what point does the enemy ask for .volunteers?" Westmoreland's .-. 
only reply was, "That is a good question." 53/ 

COMUSMACV briefly analyzed the strategy under the present program 
of 1+70,000 men for the President. He explained his concept of a "meat- 
grinder" where we would kill large numbers of the enemy but in the end 
do little better than hold our own, with the shortage of troops still 
restricting MACV to a fire brigade technique — chasing after enemy main 
force units when and where it could find them. He then predicted that 
"unless the will of the enemy is broken or unless there was an unraveling 
of the VC infrastructure the war could go on for 5 years. If our forces 
were increased that period could be reduced although not necessarily in 
proportion to increases in strength, since factors other than increase 
in strength had to be considered. For instance, a non -professional force, 
such as that which would result from fulfilling the requirement for 100,000 
additional men by calling reserves, would cause come degradation of normal 
leadership and effectiveness. Westmoreland concluded by estimating that 
with a force level of 565, 000 me n , the war could well go on for three years. 
Wit h a second increment of 2-1/3 divisions leading to a total of 665^000 men, 
it c ou ld go on for two years . " 5^7 

General Wheeler, who was present during the discussions, then inter- 
jected his concern about the possibility that U.S. may face military threats 
in other parts of the world simultaneous with an increase in strength in 
Vietnam. He commented that the JCS was then reviewing possible responses 
to threats in South Korea, Soviet pressure on Berlin, the appearance of 
"volunteers" sent to Vietnam from Soviet Union, North Korea and Red China 
and even overt intervention by Red China, Additionally, he listed three 
matters more closely related to Vietnam which were bothering the JCS. 
These were: 

(a) DRV troop activity in Cambodia. US troops may be 
forced to move against these units in Cambodia. 


(b) DRV troop activity In Laos. US troops may be forced 
to move against these units. 

(c) Possible invasion of North Vietnam. We may wish to 
take offensive action against the DRV with ground troops. 55/ 

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The bombing which had always attracted considerable JCS attention was 
in Wheeler's estimation about to reach the point of target saturation — 
when all worthwhile fixed targets except the ports had been struck. Once 
this saturation level was reached the decision-makers would be impelled 
to address the requirement to deny to the North Vietnamese use of the 
ports. He summarized the JCS position saying that the JCS firmly believed 
that the President must review the contingencies which they faced, the 
troops required to meet them and additional punitive action against DRV. 
Westmoreland parenthetically added that he was "frankly dismayed at even 
the thought of stopping the bombing program. 11 

There followed a short exchange devoted to Cambodia and Laos in 
which Westmoreland described his impression of the role of Cambodia in the 
DRV T s grand design, one which incorporated the use of Cambodia as a supply 
base, first for rice and later for ammunition. The American commander in 
Vietnam also believed we should confront the DRV with South Vietnamese 
forces in Laos. He reviewed his operational plan for Laos, entitled HIGH 
PORT, which envisioned an elite South Vietnamese division conducting ground 
operations in Laos against DRV bases and routes under cover of US artillery 
and air support. Pie saw the eventual development of Laos e,s a major battle- 
field, a development which would take some of the military pressure off the 
south. He also thought it would be wise to think in the same terms as 
HIGH PORT for Cambodia; he revealed that he also possessed contingency plans 
to move into Cambodia in the Chu Pong area, again using South Vietnamese 
forces but this time accompanied by US advisors. 

• The President closed the meeting by asking: "What if we do not add 
the 2-1/3 divisions?" General Wheeler replied first, observing that the 
momentum would die; in some areas the enemy would recapture the initiative, 
an important but hardly disastrous development, meaning that we wouldn f t 
lose the war but it would be a longer one. He added that. 


"Of the 2-1/3 divisions, I would add one division on the 
DMZ to relieve the Marines to work with ARVN on pacification; 
and I would put one division east of Saigon to relieve the 9th 
Division to deploy to the Delta to increase the effectiveness 
of the three good ARVN divisions now there; the brigade I would 
send to Quang Ngai to make there the progress in the next year 
that we have made in Binh Dinh in the past year." $6/ 

The President reacted by saying: 

"We should make certain we are getting value received 
from the South Vietnamese troops. Check the dischargees to 
determine whether we could make use of them by forming addi- 
tional units, by mating them with US troops, as is done in 
Korea, or in other ways." 57/ 

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There is no record of General Westmoreland 1 s reply, if any. 

Little if anything new was revealed in the discussion hut it serves 
to indicate the President's concern with the opportunity costs associated 
with the large force increase. The discussion also reveals the kind of 
estimates about the duration of the war which were reaching the President. 

Two other memoranda outlining alternatives to the Westmoreland 
March request for additional troops were written by Mr. Richard Steadman 
of ISA and Mr. William Bundy of State for Undersecretary Katzenbach. 58/ 
The Steadman memo was nothing more than a brief review of the original 
MACV request and as such did not outline strategic alternatives. It was 
to provide a basis for portions of the analysis in the DPM prepared by 
McNaughton later in May. The Bundy memo, on the other hand, did analyze 
possible changes in our military strategy. He analyzed several factors 
which he believed seriously affected the direction of our military actions 
Among these were: 

"Force Increases . In terms of contribution to our 
strategy over the next nine months, I believe any increase 
directly related to meeting the threat in the northern part 
of SOT, and at the same time, not reducing our effort in 
II and III Corps unacceptably, must be considered essential. 
(I have just lunched with Paul Nitze, who gives an off-the- 
cuff estimate that we may need a total increase of 50>000 to 
meet this specification.) 

11 To the extent that any increase is related to needs in 
the Delta, I would be most skeptical of the total advantage 
of such action at least this year. The Delta does not lend 
itself to the most effective application of our forces, and 
the Viet Cong in the Delta are in key areas so deeply dug in 
that in the end they will be routed out only by a major change 
in the over-all situation, and particularly in the prestige 
and effectiveness of the GVN. (For example, this is already 
Colonel Wilson's conclusion with respect to key areas in 
Long An.) 

"in sum, we should leave IV Corps basically to the GVN, 
trying to deny it as a source of food and men, but leaving 
it to be truly pacified more slowly and later. 

"Apart from the military merits, any force increase 
that reaches the 'Plimsoll Line 1 -- calling up the Reserves — 
involves a truly major debate in Congress. Under present 
circumstances, I believe such a debate could only encourage 
Hanoi, and might also lead to pressures to go beyond what is 
wise in the Worth, specifically mining Haiphong. Unless 

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there are over-riding military reasons — which I do not 
myself see — we should not get into such a debate this summer. 

" Grou nd Action Against North Vietna m. I understand this 
• to be only- a contingency thought in any event. I would be 
totally against it, for the simple reason that 1 believe the 
chances are 75-25 that it would bring the Chinese truly into 
the war and, almost equally important, stabilize the internal 
Chinese situation at least temporarily. 

Laos. Last Friday we went through General Starbird T s 
plans for more effective action against the Corridor in Laos. 
I think these make sense, although they cannot be expected to 
do more than make use of the Corridor somewhat mere difficult. 
(We should at once get away from linking these with the true 
"Obstacle" planned in the eastern area of SVN next to the DMZ. 
The two are entirely different, and the words "obstacle" or 
"barrier" as related to Laos have very unfortunate political 
implications in both Laos and Thailand.) The small ground 
force teams Starbird needs in Laos can be handled, in Sullivan's 

"Beyond this point, Sullivan and I would both be strongly 
opposed to any such idea as sending a GYN division into Laos. 
It would almost certainly be ineffective, and the cry would 
at once go up to send more. Sullivan believes, and I agree, 
that Souvanna would object violently and feel that his whole 
position had been seriously compromised." 59/ 

Bundy believed that Cambodia was becoming increasingly important 
to the North Vietnamese war effort. Nevertheless, he doubled, at that 
stage, if any significant change in our actions in Cambodia could really 
affect the supply routes or be worth the broad political damage of 
appearing to attack Cambodia. 


Turning to the bombing in the north he commented: 

"E. Additional Action in t he North . Of the major tar- 
gets still not hit, I would agree to the Hanoi power station, 
but then let it go at that, subject only to occasional re- 
strikes where absolutely required. In particular, on the air- 
fields, I think we have gone far enough to hurt and not far 
enough to 1 drive the aircraft to Chinese fields, which I think 
could be very dangerous. 

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• "I "would strongly oppose the mining of Haiphong at 
any time in the next nine months, unless the Soviets cate- 
gorically use it to send in combat weapons, (it may well be 
that we should warn them quietly but firmly that we are watching 
their traffic into Haiphong very closely, and particularly 
from this standpoint.) Mining of Haiphong, at any time, is 
bound to risk a confrontation with the Soviets and to throw 
Hanoi into greater dependence on Communist China. These in 
themselves would be very dangerous and adverse to the whole 
nation of getting Hanoi to change its attitude. Moreover, 
I think they would somehow manage to get the stuff in through 
China no matter what we did to Haiphong." 6C/ 

His concluding overall assessment of the situation was that Hanoi was 
waiting us out believing that the 1968 elections would cause us to change 
our position or even lose heart completely. He believed that our "herky- 
jerky" and impatient actions had greatly strengthened this belief in 
Hanoi. He felt that our major thrust must be now to persuade them that 
we were prepared to stick it out if necessary. 6l / He continued by 
turning to the political factors which he felt were really important: 

"B. The Real Key Factors in the Situation. I believe 
we are making steady progress in the South, and that there 
are things we can do — notably effort with ARVN — to 
improve the present slow pace of pacification. Over-all 
progress in the South remains the key factor that could 
bring Hanoi to the right attitude and actions. 

The really important element in the South over the 
next few months is political. There could be a tremendous 
gain if the elections are honest and widely participated in, 
and if the result is a balanced civilian/military government 
that commands real support in the South. Such a gain would 
do more than any marginal action, except for the essential 
job of countering the Communist thrust in I Corps. 

At the same time, if the election process is 
thwarted by a military coup or if it is turned into a mili- 
tary steam-roller, the results could be sharply negative. 
We might even be forced to re-assess our basic policy. This 
is simply a measure of the vital importance of the political 
front for this year. 

'In addition, we must consider at all times the 
effect of the Chinese internal situation. We cannot 
affect whether convulsion resumes, but we should certainly 
avoid actions that might tend to reduce the possibility of 
convulsion. (This is argued strenuously by Edward Rice in 
Hong Kong 7581, received today. ) 

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Argued in another way, I would now reckon that 
the odds are considerably better than 50-50 that there will 
be a renewal of convulsion in China in the next few months. 
In December and January, I think this was the added factor 
that caused Hanoi to give off a "tremor" and at least to 
make a significant tactical change in its position. If con- 
vulsion now occurs again, it will offset whatever encourage- 
ment Hanoi may have received from the apparent recent promise 
of additional Soviet aid and the easing of whatever transit 
tensions may have existed between Moscow and Peking. In fact, 
renewed convulsion in China could at some point become a really 
major factor to Hanoi. This is a dubious effect on which we can- 
not and should not rely. But it serves to put into focus the 
relative importance of any additional military actions , particu- "> 
larly in the Worth. And it is a very strong argument indeed 
against any additional step-up in our bombing of the North, 
or mining Haiphong. 

"C. Over-All Estimate. If we go on as we are doing, if 
the political process in the South comes off well, and if the 
Chinese do not settle down, I myself would reckon that by the 
end of I967 there is at least a 5O-5O chance that a favorable 
tide will be running really strongly in the South, and that 
Hanoi will be very discouraged. Whether they will move to 
negotiate is of course a slightly different question, but we 
could be visibly and strongly on the way. 

If China should go into a real convulsion, I would 
■ raise these odds slightly, and think it clearly more likely 
that Hanoi would choose a negotiating path to the conclusion." 62/ 

Just as many others were doing, Bundy revealed an increasing sensi- 
tivity for the urgent development of a coherent negotiating strategy. On 
this he wrote: 

"While we need a thorough review of our whole objec- 
tives and negotiating position, I doubt very much if we 
shall find any points on which we now wish to change our : 

public position or to take any new initiative viz-a-viz 
Planoi. • 

• • "Basically, in line with the idea of conveying an 

impression of steady firmness to Hanoi, I think we should 
avoid new initiatives except as we have to respond to some 
significant third party such as U Thant or the Canadians. 
I would certainly not go into the UN or the World Court. 

"Behind this strategy lies the judgment that Hanoi is 

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in all probability dug in at least until after the Viet- 
namese elections. After that, we could take another look, 
but I still doubt that any serious change will be indicated. 
If it is, some approach like the Ne Win one seems to me by 
far the most promising. 

"A key question is of course how we handle the Soviets. 
My own- hunch is that Kosygin burned his fingers somewhat 
in February, but that they have built their position in 
Hanoi at least back to its former level. In the process, 
they will have almost certainly undertaken some additional 
aid. Knowing as they do all our peace moves, they may have 
a strong feeling that we are in a hurry and perhaps suscept- 
ible to change. This would argue against pressing them hard 
in the near future, as we did in early April in any event. 

"On the other hand, we certainly could impress upon them 
our belief that their own interest lies in getting the situ- 
ation resolved, and that they should be exerting real influence 
to this end. But this should be coupled with a calm firmness 
in our own determination to go ahead and not to be thrown off 
by anything additional they may be doing or threaten to do. 
In the last analysis, they can judge whether they really have 
any leverage and how to exert it. 

"At any rate, the next major contacts with the Soviets — 
Dobrynin f s return and Brown's visit to Moscow in late May — 
should in my judgment be played in this measured but essentially 
low key unless they come up with something. Brown is not 
himself inclined to try something new at the moment, and we 
should do nothing to encourage him. (He has a full plate 
anyway of other issues.) 63/ 

Bundy's basically optimistic estimate (50-50 was in the context 
of the time optimistic) was partially supported by the reports of ground 
action coming out of South Vietnam, although the increasing enemy threat, 
in I CTZ remained an ominous and somewhat puzzling development. 

'5. Developments in the Ground War: Strategy Takes Shape 

Ground operations in the period February into early May followed 
essentially th'e pattern predicted by COMUSMACV in his earlier assessments 
and statements of strategy. The PRAIRIE series of operations conducted 
by the Marines to counter infiltration through the DMZ had received per- 
mission during the month to employ artillery fire against military targets 


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north of the DMZ and the enemy had responded with heavy mortar attacks 
on friendly positions throughout the PRAIRIE operations area. Operation 
DE SOTO designed to clear and secure the Sa Huyen salt flats prior to the 
April harvest had been termed "successful. " Operation PERSHING in northern 
Binh Dinh continued as part of an extensive allied effort to break the 
enemy hold in the area. 


The 1st Cavalry Division participated in OPERATION THAYER II, south- 
west of Bong Son in II Corps area. This clearing operation netted 228 
enemy killed before it was terminated in mid-February. .Across the Corps 
Tactical Zone in Pleiku Province, OPERATION SAM HOUSTON operating on the 
border between Pleiku and Kontum Provinces was countering increasing 
enemy forces at the egress of their Highland border sanctuaries. In III 
Corps the most significant operation was JUNCTION CITY, the largest opera- 
tion of the war, initiated in 22 February with an airborne assault into 
the long time enemy sanctuaries in northern Tay Ninh Province. Another 
major offensive into War Zone C, OPERATION GADSTON began on 2 February but 
achieved relatively insignificant results. FAIRFAX, on the outskirts of 
Saigon, continued to screen that city and secondarily to conduct US-ARVN 
buddy system operations concentrating on civic action during the day and 
conducting extensive patrols and ambushes during the night. (See Figure 
2 , Monthly Evaluation (February I967) map.) 

In March the tempo of the war increased partially in reaction to 
the burgeoning infiltration in I Corps Tactical Zone. South of the DMZ, 
Marines continued to conduct counter infiltration operations with PRAIRIE 
II and PRAIRIE III, operations characterized by bloody assaults designed 
to retain control of key terrain features dominating infiltration corri- 
dors leading down from the North. In the western highlands of II Corps, 
U.S. forces in OPERATION SAM HOUSTON were experiencing frequent heavy 
ground clashes with enemy units which sortied out of their sanctuaries 
and attempted to operate in Pleiku and Southern Kontum Provinces. JUNCTION 
CITY continuing in III Corps experienced heavier contact in War Zone C, 
while FAIRFAX and other screening operations were regarded as successful 
on the strength of a steady decline in enemy initiated incidents on the 
outskirts of the city. ARYN divisions continued to operate in IV Corps but 
there are no large operations reported. (See Figure 3> Monthly Evaluation 
(March 1967) map.) 

The first major operational dislocation of U.S. forces to the north 
occurred in early April when TASK FORCE OREGON (a provisional division) 
was created and moved north into Quang Ngai Province thereby releasing 
Marine units ior operations further north in the vicinity of the DMZ. 
Some of the bitterest fighting of the war occurred in late April near 
Khe Sanh in western Quang Tri Province, coming as a direct result of the 
USMC strategy of fighting for control and holding of key terrain commanding 
infiltration routes. The Marines were engaged in a series of sharp and 


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LAM SON 142 
"~ (112) . 




Tover 10,0 enemy killed) 
Numbers in parentheses 
ere enemy killed during 
February . 



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( r-jf- hr-r\-. \ Mil } 

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"bloody hill battles reminiscent of those fought in the late stages of 
the Korean War. The mounting pressure of the enemy forces in and adjacent 
to the DMZ not only prompted creation of Task Force OREGON but hastened 
additions of artillery and air support units in the area. In the Western 
Highlands of II Corps, OPERATION SAM HOUSTON terminated to be followed 
immediately by OPERATION FPANCES MARION. This new operation retained the 
original mission of its predecessor border surveillance and protection of 
installations in the Pleiku-Kontum area. JUNCTION CITY continued in III 
Corps tactical zone, but there was a notable decline in activity in that 
area, possibly partially attributable to the thinning out of U.S. units to 
provide for the dispositions to I Corps Tactical Zone. Some 53 ARVN 
infantry battalions, one Ranger battalion, and one regional force battalion 
were reported performing missions in direct support of Revolutionary Develop- 
ment. Country-wide VC incidents directed at disruption of the RD effort 
increased as the VC attempted to influence the hamlet elections conducted 
during April. (See Figure h, Monthly Evaluation (April 1967) map.) 

In May attention focused on I Corps where heavy fighting continued. 
Operation PRAIRIE IV conducted by the Marines in conjunction with smaller 
operations BEAU CHARGER, HICKORY and LAM SON was directed toward blocking 
the major enemy infiltration into northern Quang Tri. Indications were 
that the enemy was building up in preparation for a probable coordinated 
offensive and allied military activity was directed toward disrupting his 
plans. Altogether 2k operations in I Corps tactical zone achieved "signif- 
icant results, t! Ik of those operations resulting in over 100 enemy killed. 
U.S. Marines and ARVN forces also entered the DMZ for the first time and 
reported over 800 enemy killed. In Southeastern Quang Ngai Province, 
OPERATION MALHEUR conducted by Task Force OREGON reported 369 enemy killed 
by the month ! s end. In II Corps FRANCES MARION continued to experience 
heavy fighting in the border regions as border infiltration attempts by 
large NVA/vC units continued on the upswing. (See Figures 5, 6, 7 and 8 for 
Corps Monthly Operational Maps, May 1967- ) 

6. The Domestic Debate Continues: Polarization at Home 

Domestic views about the war were beginning to polarize in early 
February. Edmund Reischauer, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 
expressed his dismay with the administration's persistent adherence to the 
domino theory and its variations, one which he said was now "dropped in the 
trash can of history wrapped in a Chinese rug." Student leaders in their 
Washington Convention had denounced the draft system and urged the abolition 
of selective service. In early February, 1,900 women marched upon the 
Pentagon protesting the war policies and 5>000 x American scientists, 17 of 
them Nobel Prize winners, pleaded with the White House for a review of U.S. 
policy on chemical and biological warfare in Vietnam. General Gavin was 
urging before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee an immediate and uncon- 
ditional halt of American bombing asking for what he termed "a strategy of 
sanity." In early March, Robert Kennedy had delivered a strong speech in 
the Senate calling for a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, a proposal 

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which Secretary Rusk publicly buoyed by the preceding day's announcement 
of the Mansfield Resolution supporting the administration's policy in 

Resistance to the war and its costs were beginning to be reflected 
in administration actions. In early February President Johnson asked for 
$6.2 billion in foreign aid for two years , the smallest appropriation in 
the 20-year history of the program noting that the opposition to a larger 
program stemmed from "a view of needs at home and the costs of the struggle 
in Vietnam." In early March the President announced that we were beginning 
to mine the rivers in the north, authorizing long-range artillery shelling 
across the DMZ and commencing naval bombardment of military targets in the 
DMZ in North Vietnam border areas. When questioned, he defended the new 
activities stating that he would "not describe them as a step up in the 
war" but only as boosts "desirable and essential in the face of immediate 
infiltration and build-up." 6k/ There was increasing public emphasis 
from the White House on peace feelers to Hanoi and detent with the Soviet 
Government. The first exchange of letters between Kosygin and Johnson 
confirming the willingness of the Soviet Government to discuss means of 
limiting the arms race was publicly announced on 3 March. On 22 March 
the Johnson-Ho letters were released, an event which in the view of most 
commentators placed Johnson in a somewhat more tenable position vis-a-vis 
Vietnam war policy than he had previously enjoyed. 

Despite intensive efforts to alleviate the problem of credibility, 
events continued to reveal that the administration was being less than 
frank with reporters. In early February the Pentagon acknowledged that it 
had lost 1800 aircraft in Vietnam as opposed to the 622 "combat planes" which 
it had quoted earlier. R. W. Appel wrote in the New York Times questioning 
COMUSMA.CV infiltration figures. A week later, in another article which 
received wide circulation, Appel reported that the pacification effort was 
greatly hindered by South Vietnamese Government foot-dragging, a conclusion 
which found considerable sympathy among the group already dissatisfied with 
South Vietnamese Government pacification performance. 

The public and the press alike were becoming increasingly wary of the 
statistics coming out of Washington. Even the Chicago Tribune in early 
March surmised that either the figures coming out of MACV were wrong or 
those coming out of the Pentagon were misleading. The paper cited a recent 
joint press conference held by McNamara and Rusk in which they announced 
that communist military forces in Vietnam had suffered tremendous casualties 
in the past four months, quantitatively an increase of UO-50^ 3 thus reducing 
their effectiveness significantly, but in the next sentence announcing that 
serious communist military activity in Vietnam had "increased substantially." 

By mid-March editorial commentary was focusing on the theme that 
generally there would be more and wider war. American casualties announced 
on 10 March were higher than those for any other week of the war: 232 KIA, 
1381 WIA, k MIA for a total of I617. Four days later the U.S. conducted 

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the heaviest attacks of the 1967 air war on North Vietnam (128 missions 
flown by approximately k^O aircraft). Not only was there a feeling that 
the war would be longer and more intense, but the public was becoming 
increasingly aware of its costs. In mid-March the House Appropriations 
Committee approved a $12 billion supplemental appropriations bill and a week 
later the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $20.8 billion military procure- 
ment program. . The ease with which the appropriations bills were being 
passed was not truly indicative of the mood of Congress which was becoming 
increasingly divided about the war. The Stennis Subcommittee (Preparedness) 
was carrying the military 1 s fight for more troops. In late March Stennis 
charged that "American commanders in Vietnam are not getting all the troops 
they want and the bombing of the north is overly restricted." 65/ The 
Pentagon reply to this was that "there had been no reduction in any program 
of troop deployments previously approved by the Department of Defense." 60/ 
Senator Symington was publicly urging wider air raids of North Vietnam to 
include attack of the MIG airfields. By late March, Stennis* charges were 
coming in drum-fire fashion focusing on charges that future troop deployments 
to Vietnam would fall below approved levels; that urgent military appeals 
for the bombing of more meaningful targets in North Vietnajn were being 
arbitrarily denied and that the Pentagon was responsible for a gross shortage 
of ships in Vietnam. Prior to General Westmoreland's return to the U.S. in 
late April, General Abrarns had been named as his Deputy Commander and it 
appears that indeed, despite Westmoreland's promises of victory, it would 
be a long war. For early that week the infiltration/casualty figures for 
the first quarter of 1967 were released, and they indicated that despite 
huge Red losses of nearly 25,000 men in the first 12 weeks of that year, 
nearly ^-,000 more than that amount had infiltrated during the same period 
and were now active in enemy units in the South. 67/ 

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1. State message I5355O to the American Embassy, Saigon from Rusk, 
dated March 12, 1967. 

2. State message I58083 to AmEmb Saigon, Subject: "Guam Agenda," dated 
17 March 1967. 


'3. See Task Force Paper IV. C. 9., Evolution of the War - US-GVN Relations, 
1963~19o7^ Part II. This shift of personnel represented the largest 
shake-up in US leadership in SVN since August I965. Ambassador Bunker 
replaced Lodge; Locke took Porter 1 s place; and Robert Komer took charge 
of Revolutionary Development under C0MUSMA.CV. 

k. Joint Communique, Guam Meetings, March 21, 1967- 

5. Memorandum, Subject: Main Talking Points for the President in Trip 
Briefs for Conference on Guam, McNaughton III, 20-21 March 1967. This 
record of Westmoreland 1 s comments, dated 20 March, was taken from a 
hand -written attachment to the cited memo, presumably written by 

6. COMUSMACV 08^35 to CINCPAC, Subject: Military Plans and Progress in 
SVN, dated 12 March 1967. 

7. OSD/SA, Subject: "ARVN Effectiveness on Search and Destroy Type 
Operations," 16 March 1967- 

8. Ibid . 

9. OASD/SA, "ARVN Performance," Op. Cit. 

10. OASD/SA, "Optimum U.S. Force Level in SVN," March 16, 1967 (Guam 
Briefing Book). 

11. Ibid. 

12. As early as the summer of 1966 detailed post-hostilities planning 
was begun in D0D, and the last item in the list just quoted reflects 
some of that thinking. See: OASD(lSA) "Post Hostilities Planning," 
dated 17 March 1967. 

13. MACV Briefing Book, Guam Conference. 
Ik. McNaughton Memorandum, 20 March 1967 5 op- cit. 

15. New York Times , 23 March 1967. 

16. New York Times , 20-26 March 1967- 

17. COMUSMACV 09101 to CINCPAC, Subject: Force Requirements, dated 
18 March 1967. 

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18 . Ibid. 

19. COMUSMACV to CINCPAC, "Assessment of the Military Situation and 
Concept of Operations," 1 March 1967. 

20. COMUSMACV 09101, op^ cit. 

21. Ibid . 

22. Ibid . 

23. Vance Memo to COMUSMACV, late March 1967- Interview with LTC Vesser, 
then assigned to J32, MACV Headquarters, Saigon, 

2k. JCS msg 59881 to CINCPAC, Subject: PACOM Force Requirements, dated 

2k March 1967. 


^5* Ibid , To meet this deadline CINCPAC followed its standard practice 
of convening a conference or, what in this case it labelled a "Force 
Requirements Task Group." This group met from 27 March to 3 April 
analyzing and synthesizing the MACV replies and preparing the final 
reply which was forwarded to the JCS between 26 and 28 March. See: 
CINCPAC 252120A Mar 67, Subject: Force Requirements. 

26. COMUSMACV to CINCPAC, Subject: Force Requirements, 26065OZ Mar 67. 

27. COMUSMACV letter MACJ3, 28 Mar 67, and COMUSMACV 102^8 to CINCPAC, 
Subject: Program k Force Requirements, 28 Mar 67. 

28. CINCPAC message to JCS 2801^5Z Mar 67. 

29. COMUSMACV 10311 to JCS, Subject: MACV FY 68 Force Requirements, dated 
28 March I967. 

30. Ibid . 

31. Ibid. 

32. Ibid. 

33. Ibid. . 

3l*. COMUSMACV Msg 115,570, to CINCPAC, 7 Apr 67, Subject: Force Require- 

35. Ibid . 

36. JCSM 208-67, Sub j : Marine. Corps Reinforcement of I Corps Tactical 
Zone, dated April lU, 1967. 

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37." SecDef Control No. X1935 and COMUSMACV 09101 attached, dated 
23 Mar 67. 

38. JCSM 218-67, Subject: Force Requirements - Southeast Asia, FY I968, 
dated 20 April 1967, End A to JCS 2339/255-3- 

39- Ibid. 

40. Ibid. 

41. Ibid. 

42. Ibid . 

43. Ibid . 

44. Memorandum from Acting SecState Nicholas deB. Katzenbach to the 
Honorable John McNaughton, Subject: Vietnam, dated 24 April 1967. 

45- Ibid . 

46. Ibid. The other agencies assigned studies in this memo were the 
White House (primarily directed to study of pacification), State 
Department (primarily directed to study settlement), and the CIA 
(predicting the trends in the military pacification, political 
and economic situations). 

47. Memo for the President from P. W. Komer, Subject: Thoughts on 
Future Strategy in Vietnam, dated 24 April 1967. 

48. Ibid. 







52. Unsigned, Notes on Discussions with the President, 27 April I967 
(McNaughton Papers). 

53- Ibid. 

54. lb id . Emphasis added. 

55. Ibid. ' 

56. Ibid. 

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57- lb id . 

58. Memo from Mr. Richard Steadman for Asst SecDef (ISA) McNaughton, 
Sub j : Additional Deployments to SVN, dated 2 May 67; Memo from 
Mr. Wm. Bundy for Undersecretary Katzenbach, Sub j : Thoughts on 
Strategy in Vietnam dated 1 May 1967* 


59. Ibid . Ambassador Sullivan's opposition to expanding operations in . 
Laos was clearly laid out in a 1 May memorandum addressed to Katzenbach 
In this memo he strongly opposed Westmoreland's HIGH PORT proposal as 
•well as any expansion of the northern barrier which would either cut 
into Lao territory or if it operated as a hermetical seal to the north 
would force the North Vietnamese to make an end run through the Laotian 
corridor to the west of the barrier. He based his objections primarily 
on the serious political consequences which he believed might involve 
the withdrawal of Souvanna's collaboration on many other matters of 
importance to the U.S. He believed that for the limited operational 
advantages on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (none of which he believed would 
succeed anyway) that the U.S would probably lose the entire Mekong 
Valley. Quoting President Kennedy, he described this as trading "an 
apple for an orchard." See: Memo from Ambassador Sullivan for Mr. 
William Bundy, Subject: Limitations on Military Action in Laos, dated 
1 May 1967. 

60. Ibid. 

61. Ibid. 

62. Ibid. 

63. Ibid . 

6k. The New Yor k Times • 

65. The New York Times 

66. Ibid. 

67. The New York Times 

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m 3d 


is $£ 

m > 

m m 
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1. Systems Analysis — Vanguard of the Reaction 

The search for alternatives to the major force increases proposed 
by the JCS was, as we have observed, intensive and widespread but the 
most cogent critique of MACV's strategy developed in the Systems Analysis 
Office headed by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alain Enthoven. Here a 
concentrated attack was launched on the two most vulnerable aspects of 
COMUSMACV* s operations: the feasibility of the "war of attrition" 
strategy pursued in the face of the uncertainty about NVN infiltration, 
and "search and destroy tactics to support it." The reaction in Systems 
Analysis to the 18 March troop request submitted by COMUSMACV was one 
of surprise and incredulity. Everyone who had worked in the problem 
area of ground force deployments believed that COMUSMACV had received 
the message during the Program h discussions, that any troops were going 
to be difficult to come by and those that were forthcoming had to be 
completely and convincingly justified, l/ 

Immediately upon receipt of the MACV requirements request Alain 
Enthoven ordered that a detailed analysis of the request be made. The 
initial cuts at the request made by his staff were simply in the form 
of tables comparing the approved Program $k and the new force levels 
required. 2/ These were completed and to the Secretary of Defense 
within a week after the initial MACV request reached the Pentagon. 

The more detailed follow-up analysis prepared in Systems Analysis 
initially concentrated upon the "unfortunate lack of analysis" in the 
MACV/JCS request, one which failed to explain how the extra forces were 
needed to avoid defeat. 3/ Despite this orientation toward the analytic 
lacunae the germ of the basic, vital critique which was to emerge was 
there. The preface of the draft lamented the lack of analysis and 
evidence, seemingly proof in itself that the request should be denied, 
but more fundamentally it continued: 

Despite considerable progress in the Vietnam conflict 
during the past year, an end to the conflict is not in 
sight and major "onre solved problems remain. North Vietnam 
still believes it can win in the long run, in the name of 
nationalism if not communism. It has been fighting for 
over 25 years against the Japanese, French, and Americans 
and appears prepared to fight indefinitely. The reaction 
of COMUSMACV to this unsatisfactory situation is to request 
more U.S. forces, rather than to improve the effectiveness 
of the RVNAF, and U.S. and other Free World forces. 

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Hanoi is willing to wait. We have hurt them some, 
and we can even hurt them some more, but not so badly as 
to destroy their society or their hope for regaining in 
the future, the material things they sacrifice today. 
Their policy will be to wait until dissent in the US 
(coupled with world opinion) forces us to retire. Our J 

only hope is to establish an equally strong and patient 
nationalism in South Vietnam. 

We, too 5 must be willing to wait. We cannot estab- 
lish a strong Southern nationalism in a few months or a 
year. If we leave before that is one JslcJ , we will have lost, 
regardless of the military havoc we have caused in SEA.. 

Additional forces , added burdens on the US economy, 
and calling of the reserves will only serve to increase 
DRV T s belief that the US will not remain in SVN for the 
long pull. Additional forces make it appear that we are 
trying for the "quick kill." Hanoi knows that we cannot 
achieve it and that the American public will be bitter and 
divided unless we do. We should be looking for ways to 
ease the burden for the years ahead, rather than making 
the war more costly, k/ 

The diversion of resources from other national goals also had costs 
which demanded accounting: 

If we are to stay, we must have the backing of the 
US electorate. As we divert resources from other 
national goals, as US lives are lost, and as the elec- 
torate sees nothing but endless escalation for the future, 
an increasing fraction will become discouraged. If this 
keeps on in the future as it has in the past, we will 
have to leave SEA before stability is achieved, losing 
all that we have invested up to that point, and foregoing 
the general stability of the world which was established 
as a result of the Korean War. If we are not to lose every- 
thing, the trends will have to be changed: the increase 
in unfavorable public opinion will have to be slowed; the 
development of SVN society will have to be speeded. 5/ 

The memorandum recommended that only enough forces be provided to 
meet minimum military goals: 

Thus we must provide only enough US forces to meet 
minimum military goals. These goals are: (l) to deter 
a Chinese Copxmunist invasion; (2) to prevent military 
defeat in South Vietnam, and (3) to prevent excessive 
terrorism. We have at least sufficient forces presently 

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deployed to meet these goals. 

Additional forces will add additional cost, further 
.degrading public opinion and preventing expansion of 
critical domestic programs. They would present the j 

prospect of unending escalation, splitting the American 
public even more openly and seriously. 6/ 

These goals, of course, differed greatly from those outlined by the 
Joint Chiefs in JCSM 702-66 in November and JCSM 218-67 in April. 
The military aims in the Systems Analysis memo were passive in nature, 
and obviously based upon new assumptions about the likelihood of 
success, and therefore were directed toward much different terminal 
goals than those the JCS proposed. 

The recommendations made by Systems Analysis were based upon two 
fundamental arguments: (l) .That the additional forces were unlikely 
to increase VC/NVA losses beyond any level intolerable to the enemy; 
and (2) that the additional forces would not help the pacification task 
measurably, jj It argued: 

Additional forces are very unlikely to increase 
VC/NVA losses beyond any level intolerable to the enemy. 
Assuming that the enemy has no control over his losses, 
the table below shows projected enemy losses. Only 
when the projection is based on recent peak losses does 
the rate of enemy losses exceed the rate at which MACV 
and USIB agree the enemy can go on replacing them indef- 
initely, and then only by 139 per week for the MACV 
"minimum essential" force, and ^31 for the "optimum" force. 
Even at a decrease in enemy forces of k-31 per week, over 
10 years would be needed to eliminate the enemy. 


Program IV MACV "minimum MACV "optimal" 
force essential" force force 

Peak losses a/ 3188 3^-04 369 


Avg. losses b/ 2121 ' 2265 ' 22*i60 

DIA USIB estimate of enemy capability to sustain losses 
indefinitely = 3265. 

a/ Based on January-March 1967 enemy losses to all causes 
b/ Based on CY 66. 

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However, just as we can control our aircraft losses, 
there is clear evidence that the enemy has considerable 
control over his ground force losses. He is hurt most often 
when he chooses to assault U.S. forces (e.g., Junction City). 
On large operations, stealth is impossible. Consequently 
over 30°lo of the large firefights that develop in such opera- 
tions are initiated by the enemy, and in over 80$ of the J 
cases there is a clear indication of a planned enemy attack. 
The enemy can probably hold his losses (all causes) to about 
2000 per week regardless of our force levels or operations. 
Additional forces cannot defeat him so long as he has the 
will, some popular support and we lack timely intelligence. 

Additional forces will not help the pacification 
task measurably. This cannot be accomplished with 480,000 
or 560,000 U.S. military forces and probably not at all 
without (l) a far more effective Revolutionary Develop- 
ment (RD) program supported by Vietnamese forces and (2) a 
more stable and progressive GVN, both of which will require 
patience and emphasis on political-economic objectives 
rather than military ones. It is clear from the USMC exper- 
ience in I CTZ that U.S. forces can deny VC control but cannot 
secure the population. There were fewer people in the 
"secured" category in I CTZ at the end of CY 66 than at the 

Our experience in Operation FAIRFAX just west and south 
of Saigon further supports the conclusion that in spite of 
good intentions and good actions, the U.S. military cannot 
undertake pacification and expect to withdraw after a short 
period, leaving the area secure. In FAIRFAX, still being 
conducted, 3 U.S. battalions were "temporarily" deployed 
with 3 ARVN battalions to secure the area near Saigon. The 
U.S. battalions are still engaged 2g months longer than 
planned and will be for the foreseeable future. Fewer than 
1 VC per U.S. battalion-equivalent per day has been ki3-led 3 
most of the VC infrastructure has temporarily moved out of 
the area but has not been captured, the U.S. has made many 
friends (but of unknown longevity), the ARVN" made few 
friends and actually look worse than before, after compari- 
son with the Americans, and the populace in general are 
reserving judgment until they know the VC have left per- 
manently. Part of the reason for ARVN ineffectiveness is 
lack of supplies and support-items (e.g., barbed wire) which 
the U.S. troops had in ample supply. We would be much 
better off to provide the GVN with such supplies rather than 
deploy additional U.S. forces. 

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In brief , the additional forces are likely neither 
to reduce the enemy force nor contribute significantly to 
pacification. These goals can only be met by improving 
the efficiency of the forces already deployed and, particu- 
larly, that of ARVN. But additional U.S. forces decrease 
the incentive to MACV and the GVN to make the Vietnamese ^ 

shoulder a larger portion of the burden. The RVNAF appear 
to have done well by all statistical measures in IV CTZ, 
where they have been provided only logistical and combat 
support by the U.S., and very badly in the other areas 
where the U.S. has taken over the war while denying them 
significant support. 8/ 

Finally, it returned to the "old" piaster issue which had proven 
such a potent instrument of control earlier during the Program k 
deliberations : 

Additional forces will also damage the SVN economy, 
as we saw when Program h was approved. Inflation in 
January-March 1967 was 20$. Even apart from the rice 
situation, prices were up 7$* or 28$ on an annual basis. 
The inflation still hits hardest GVN civilian and mili- 
tary personnel, on whom we must rely to eventually pacify 
the country. • 

MACV, of course, appears to be doing a good job of 
holding down piaster spending. Program h forces now 

appear to cost P^l.O billion in CY 67? after correcting -\ 

for an apparent reporting errors and MACV might be able 
to hold to about TPkh billion in CY 68 even with increased 
forces. Nevertheless, the SVN economy is still far from 
sound, and more forces compound the problem. 9/ 

It closed by carefully listing the following recommendations: 

1. That additional forces for SEA not be approved 
and the currently approved Program #h ceiling be firmly 

2. MACV be directed to submit a plan by Aug 1, 
I967 to enhance the effectiveness of the RVNAF forces. 

In the long term the RVNAF must assume a greater role for 
maintaining the security of SVN. The longer the task is 
delayed, the more difficult it becomes. We have made the 
Koreans into an effective fighting force, and we must do 
the same for the RVNAF. They can do the job far better and 
cheaper than we can, and they will remain after we leave. 

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3* MACV be directed to submit a plan by the same 
date, to increase the effectiveness of approved US and 
FWMAF forces* This should include consideration of changes 
in tactical employment (e.g., greater use of long-range 
patrols, fewer battalions in static defense, and more 
efficient use of available helicopter resources). 

k. Consideration be given by MACV, CINCPAC, and 
the JCS and OSD of possible steps to reduce the cost of 
our efforts in SEA. The conflict is almost certainly 
going to be a long one. If we expect the American public 
to support such an effort for an extended period of time 
we must hold the costs to an acceptable level. 10/ 

The draft included two tables, one a summary of deployments to 
Southeast Asia and the other a breakout of the additional MACV require 
ments request. These are shown in the tables on pages 111 and 112. 

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Personnel SVN (000) 

US Maneuver Bns 

Artillery Bns 

Engineer Bns 

Fighter-Attack a/c (US) 

InCountry Naval Vessels 

Piaster Expenditures 
(6 months ending) a/ 



FY 1968 b/ 
MACV Requirement 
Minimum Optimum 

1*73-2 1*82.6 558.9 676. h 





























• UM6 








a/ OASD(SA) Estimate 

b/ Level off cost for 6-month period. Includes CINCPAC estimated 
contract construction. 


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Additional MA.CV Requirements 

Strength (000) 
Maneuver Bns 


Artillery Bns 
Engineer Bns 
Tactical Fighter 
APB (Barracks Ships) 
ARL (Repair Ship) 
RAS (River Assault Sqds) 
PBR (River Patrol Boats) 
































a/ Required by 30 June 1968, Includes Practice Nine Forces (7822 

personnel) approved on 8 Apr 67. 
b/ Includes "Minimum Essential;" required ASAP, assumed to be 31 December 

1968 . 

c/ JCS recommend 1 USMC and 1 USAR division if reserves are called, 
adding 12,300 personnel. 

NOTE: Includes organic as well as non-organic units. 


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Enthoven was given the final draft just discussed on the 28th. 
He was not completely satisfied with the basic thrust of the paper -- 
to him it did not adequately emphasize the deeper political and psycho- 
logical issues hound up in seemingly endless troop increases with little 
or no promise of ultimate success. The Assistant Secretary sat down 
and drafted an outline for a final memorandum he intended to take to 
Mr. McNamara. In it he cogently laid out his opposition to further 
increases and the reasons why. He believed that "adding 200,000 
Americans" would not do anything significant, considering that: 

...(a) VC/WA losses don't go up in proportion to 
our forces; they haven 1 t in past 18 mos. 

(b) even if they did, additional 200,000 U.S. 
forces wouldn't put VC/lWA losses above their ability to 
sustain or their willingness to accept. 

(c) Our studies indicate VC/]WA control their 
losses, within wide limits. They start most fights. 
Their losses go up when they're attacking, ll / 

The final point as to whether the VC/WVA could control their ground 
force losses within wide limits was based upon a Systems Analysis study 
of small unit engagements during I966. 12/ In the study, SA concluded 
that: 13/ 

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5 May 8 7 08 25 

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|, SECRfcTARlr CF OtFEHSE wash1N gton. d. c. *>3oi 


4 MAY 867 



SUBJECT: Force levels and enemy attrition (u) 

Although MACV has admitted to you that the VC/NVA forces can refuse to 
fight when they want to, this fact has played no role in MACV's analysis of 
strategy and force requirements. (For example, in his October 1965 "brief- 
ing, General DePuy said, "The more often we succeed at (search and destroy 
operations) the less often will the VC stand and fight.") Because enemy 
attrition plays such a central role in MACV's thinking, and because the 
enemy 1 s degree of control over the pace of the action determines how well 
he can control his attrition, we have taken a hard look at the facts on 
the enemy 1 s tactical initiative. From reliable, detailed accounts of 56 
platoon-sized and larger fire-fights in 1966 we have classified these 
fights according to how they developed. The first four categories in the 
table all represent cases in which the enemy willingly and knowingly stood 
and fought in a pitched battle; these categories include kj (8U$) of the 
56 battles. The first three categories, enemy ambushes and assaults on our 
forces, have 66^ of the cases; these three plus category *la, comprising the 
cases where the enemy has the advantage of surprise, have 78/b of the cases. 

The results are independently confirmed from two sources. First, the 
ARCOV study, which analyzed a different set of battles in late 1965 and 
early 19$6, found that k&£ of the fights begin as enemy ambushes and that 
the enemy starts the fight in 88^ of the cases; moreover, it found that 
637a of the infantry targets encountered were personnel in trenches or 
bunkers. Second, we have analyzed the After-Action Reports submitted to 
MACV by the line commanders in the field; although generally vague and in- 
complete in their descriptions of what happened, they broadly confirm the 
drift of the above numbers. 

These results imply that the size of the force we deploy has little 
effect on the rate of attrition of enemy forces. This conclusion should 
scarcely surprise you in view of the trend of enemy losses in 1966 and in 
view of the obvious sensitivity of month-to-month enemy losses to his 

known strategic initiatives. 

What is surprising to me is 


MACV has 

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ignored this type of information in discussing force levels. .".'I c recor:-rr.end „, 
that you inject this factor into the discussion. '"'fj* • 


Alain Enthovea 
Assistant Secretary of Defense] 

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The table entitled: "Types of Enemy Engagements Described in 
Combat Narratives," (below) presents the study data in tabular form: 


Category Description 

1. Hot Landing Zone. Enemy 
attacks U.S. troops as they deploy 
onto the battlefield. 

2. Organized enemy attack 
against a U.S. static defense 

3. VC/nVA ambush or encircle 
and surprise a moving U.S. unit, 
using what is evidently a precon- 
ceived battle plan. 

k. A moving U.S. unit engages 
the enemy in a dug-in or fortified 


a. The main engagement comes 
as a virtual surprise to the American 
tactical commander because the enemy 
is well concealed and has been alerted 
either by observations of our unit or 
by our engaging apparent stragglers 

b. The U.S. tactical com- 
mander has reasonably accurate 
knowledge of enemy positions and 
strength before committing his forces. 

5. U.S. t unit ambushes a moving 
enemy unit. 

6. Chance engagement, both 
sides surprised. 


Nr. of Percent of Percent 
Engagements Total Subtotals 











/ .J- 






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The United States could not adequately "pacify" either, in 
Enthoven's estimation, but it could provide an "umbrella" against 
VC/NVA main forces. He assumed our forces were adequate for that 
based on: 

(a) experience of past year (VC/lWA haven't won 
a battle; they've taken heavy losses trying) 

(b) look at force ratios, corps by corps and 
consider our firepower/mobility advantage on top of 
that, lif/ 

The finished memorandum as it emerged provided a powerful set of 
reasons for holding the ground force line: 15, 


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Draft #» 

it -*~ 


May 1, 1967 


SUBJECT: Increase of SEA Forces 

M . „t 

M&CV has asked for a 'minimum essential force' which would add 
2-1/3 divisions j 8 tactical fighter squadrons, and. "85, €00 personnel 
to Program k,' His "optimum' force" would add k-2/3 divisions, 13 
tactical fighter squadrons, and 200,000 personnel, for a total of 
about 670, 000. in SVK. ' : ' "• 

MACV/JCS offer no analysis to show that these extra forces 

V..V- -- >— 

needed to avoid defeat, or even that they are likely to achieve any 

specific goal. But I am concerned far less about this unfortunate 

lack- of analysis than I em by the whole strategy which such a massive 

increase in combat forces must imply. • • ' ' 

* . • - 

.Though the llorth Vietnamese are indeed communists, we have come 

up against something more than just Marxism. We are facing the 


strongest political current in the world today: nationalism. That 
is the force which welds the North Vietnamese together, just as it 
does so many other peoples today. 

Having seen both the Japanese and the French come and go, the 

North Vietnamese are now fighting the United States. For their little 

. .<■' ■ 
country to triumph finally over the greatest nation the world has ever 

known would surely serve as the ultimate vindication of nationalism 

as a policy. Enticed oy this goal, and hardened oy 25 years of more-or- 

less continuous fighting, the North Vietnamese will, I fear, continue 

••* _.. . » ■ » . . .- -i- 

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: \ 

. .-• . 

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1 . .: . ■ - 1 . - 

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to endure great hardship, We have hurt them with our bombing, and ve 

can hurt them more. But ve can't hurt them so "badly as to destroy 

• * . 

their society or, more to the pointy their hope, not only for regaining 
the material things they sacrifice today, but the vhole of South Vietnam 

But hovr can they hope to beat this great nation? As MAC? himself 
said before the Congress, the enemy "believes our Achilles heel is our 
resolve," They believe that public opinion in the United States will 


eventually force our retirement. And they could be right. 

As for our own goals, I see only one way of establishing stability 
in Vietnam. We must match the nationalism ve see in the North with an 
equally strong and patient one in the South. No matter what military 
success ve may achieve, if ve .leave before that is done, there can be 
no stability, and ve will have lost everything ve have invested in 
South Vietnam. Indeed, ve will jeopardize much of the general stability 

in the vorld vhich ve bought at the rrrice of the Korean War. 

"• « * 

Therefore, I see this war as a race between, on the one hand, the 

development of a viable South Vietnam and, on the other, a gradual loss 
in public support; or even tolerance, for the var. Hanoi is betting 
that we'll lose public support in the United States before ve can build 
a nation in South Vietnam.. We must 6.0 what ve can to make sure that 
doesn't happen. We must work on both problems together: slow the loss 
in public support; and speed the development of South Vietnam. Cur 
horse must cross the finish first. 

• With regard to public support, seme people feel ve simply have no 
business being in this var, while others are just against all wars. We 

• * 

can't do much about that. But there are other factors influencing 


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public support thai we can control. Casualties are, one. Diversion 

« • .•'..•■ 

of the national wealth from badly needed domestic programs is another. 

But the biggest of all may veil be escalation. 

Since 196l> and particularly since 19^5, the public has seen an 

apparently unending escalation of this war. This must have a strong 

psychological effect. 

There must be many who are more concerned about 

the unbroken upward movement of spending and casualty rates than they 
are about the current levels. Our escalation is designed to put 
pressure on the North Vietnamese, But they may be more resolved to 
withstand it than the United States electorate is. I believe that's 
the basis of Hanoi's strategy. ■ • 

If MCV's additional forces are approved, our casualty rate nay 
not rise, but our expondittire . rate certainly- will, and the 
ominous history of unending escalation will be maintained. That 
combination will reduce public support 3 and we. will have eve,n less 
time to develop a strong nation in the South. 

With regard to developing that nation, more United States forces 
aren't going to solve the pacification problem. In spite of the 
Marines 1 ability to zleny the Viet Con-r control of an area, there were 
fewer people in the "Secured" category in I Corps at the end of i960 
than at the beginning. In Operation Fairfax, southwest of Saigon, the 
3 U.S. battalions which were "temporarily" deployed with 3 ARVN 
battalions to secure the area were sivpoo^ed. to leave 2-g months ago. 

But they are still there 3 and will be for the foreseeable future. 


kill rate per U.S. battalion-equivalent has oeen less than one V.C. 
per day, and ziosz of the V.C. infrastructure has evaded capture oy 


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moving out. Though the U.S. forces have made many friends (of unknown 
loyalty), the AETO has made few and 5 in comparison with the Americans, 
the ARVN has lost prestige in the eyes of the populace, who are still 
worried. that the V.C. may return. 

Part of the reason for the ineffectiveness of the ASVN is a lack 
of supplies and support items, such as barbed wire, which the U.S. 
forces have in abundance. While more U.S. forces would bring more 
barbed wire, that's doing it the hard way. The pacification program 
depends, instead, on better support for Vietnamese forces and a more 
energetic national Government, This program requires not only time 
and patience, but political and economic progress rather than military 

As we saw when Program k was approved, additional forces are a 
burden on the South Vietnamese eco.nomy. Inflation in the first 3 Kontfc 
of 1967 alone amounted to 20-^. Even apart from the rice situation, 
prices rose 7$> or 23$ on an annual basis. M&CV is doing a good job 
in holding down piaster spending. It looks like the Program h forces 
will cost ?hl billion in IJo?, and MA.CY might be able to hold to ?kk 
billion in 1968, even with increased forces. Nevertheless, the SVN 
economy is still far from sound, additional forces would mean slower 
progress, and the inflation would still hit hardest on the very 
civilian and military personnel on whom we must rely if pacification 
is ever to succeed. 

furthermore , if we continue to add forces and to Americanize the 
war, we will only erode whatever incentives the South Vietnamese people 


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may now have to help themselves in this fight. Similarly, it would "be 
a further sign to the South Vietnamese leaders that We will carry any 
load, regardless of their actions. That will not help us build a 
strong nation. 

If you agree that more U.S. forces would speed the "horse" that 


is carrying public ox^inion toward rejection of the war, while slowing 
the "horse" carrying the development of a strong nation in the South, 
the only justification left would be to achieve other military 
objectives, of which I can imagine four: 

1) To deter a Communist Chinese invasion. I see no sign of 
a change in C :.unist Chinese intentions. Were they to invade, they 
would face a formidable force already in place, and more available if 
needed, particularly with mobilization. Furthermore, I feel that the 
very nationalism which drives the North Vietnamese also inhibits them 
from calling in trie same Chinese who have subjugated them in the past. 

2) To prevent a military defeat in South Vietnam. I do not 
think there is danger of any significant military defeat, given the 
forces we have in place now. I have attached an appendix to this 
memorandum which shows that we already enjoy favorable force ratios. 

3) To prevent terrorism. Though there is terrorism in 
South Vietnam now, I doubt that additional U.S. combat forces would 
significantly reduce it. This is a job for police-type forces, not 
maneuver battalions . 


k) To raise VC/lP/A losses to a level they cannot sustain.' 
Presumably, this would be something above the weekly loss rate of 



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On the most optimistic basis, 200,000 more Americans would; 
raise their weekly losses to about 3,700, or about ^00 a week more 
than they could stand. In theory, we'd then wipe then out in 10 years. 
But to bank on that, you have to assume that (l) enemy losses are just 
proportional to friendly strength, and (2) that the unusually favorable 
kill ratio of the first quarter of 1967 will continue. However, if 
the kill ratio should, be no better than the i960 average, their losses 
would be about 2,100 -~ less than 2/3 of their sustaining capability. 

But even that figure is misleading. Losses just aren't 
directly related to the size of cur force. Between the first and 
fourth quarters of 1966, our forces increased 23$, but their losses 
increased only 13$ -- little more than half as much. 

Finally, the most important factor of all is that the enemy 
can control his losses within vide limits. The VC/NTA started the 
shooting in over 90$ of the company- sized fire fights; over 80$ began 
with a well-organised enemy attack. Since their losses rise (as in the 
first quarter of 196?') and fall (as they have done since) with their ' 
choice of whether or not to fight, they can probably hold their losses to 
about 2,000 a veek regardless of our force levels. If, as I believe, 
their strategy is to wait us out, they will control their losses to a 
level low enough to be sustained indefinitely, but high enough to tempt 
us to increase our forces to the point of U.S. public rejection of the 
war.- : 

In summary, I feel that adding more U.S, combat forces would be a 
step in the wrong direction. "Hhey are not needed for military security, 


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and they could not force higher losses on the North Vietnamese. But they jaight 
play right into the hands of Hanoi by burdening the United States and 
. increasing internal opposition to the war, while delaying the birth of 
the strong nation in the South which is our only hope of real stability. 
Therefore, I recommend the following: 

1) Maintain the Program k ceiling. 

2) Tell the electorate that, barring the unexpected, we'll 
stick with the present forces which are all we need, not only to stop 
the VC/rTVA militarily, but also to exact a high price from Hanoi. Tell 
them that our "escalation" will now turn toward the building of a nation 
which will be strong enough to bring a natural stability to Vietnam so 
that we can leave for good. 

3) Tell MA.CV to start making good analyses of his operations 
and feeding them bach into his planning so that we can get more out of not 

only the U.S. and allied forces, but the A"RVh~ as well. 

k) Find ways to reduce costs for the long haul ahead. For 
exsiaiple, cut back on the costly but ineffective bombing north of 
Route Package k, 


I know it's much easier to write down these recommendations than 
it is to get agreement on carrying them out. But I thirl: we're up against 
an eneiny who just raay have found, a dangerously clever strategy for 
licking the United States. Unless we recognize and counter it now, 


A 7? 


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Attached as an Appendix tc the basic memorandum was also a 
detailed, corps "by corps, analysis of COMQSMA.CV 1 s minimum force 
requirement. Not only did this analysis question the calculations 
that had furnished the basis of the requirements but it criticized 
the unselective and unquantified goals: infiltration to be impeded, 
invasion deterred or defeated, TAORs expanded and joined, enemy driven 
to the hinterlands, base areas destroyed, L0C T s secured, RD programs 
expanded, and GVN control extended. 

The thrust of its conclusions was that emphasis should be placed 
not upon m ore forces, but upon employing the ones we already had in SVTJ 
more effectively. 

In detail, it explicated the Systems Analysis view of how COMUSMACV's 
employment of forces by Corps could be improved: 16/ 


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COMUSMACV's Minimum Force 
Requirement - An Analysis 

Ground Forces 

MACV indicated on 18 March, and in Appendix B to JCSM 218-67, that 
his minimum essential needs are 2-1/3 divisions for I.CTZ. He now proposes 
that 1-1/3 divisions go to I CTZ to supplement 2 brigades moved from III 
CTZ, (a total of 2 divisions instead of 2-1/3) and 1 .division goes to. Ill 
CTZ. The III CTZ thus gains one brigade on balance, 

* * ■ - • 

The 1-1/3 more divisions in I CTZ appears excessive for the mission. 
The total threat to I CTZ is only 95,000 VC/NVA -personnel, including 
irregulars and political infrastructure. There are already more than 
200,000 friendly forces there, not counting the 2 SLF battalions earmarked 
for I CTZ support. Any invasion by the NVA divisions .now near the DMZ 
could eaj.sly be held with the forces now deployed and available to MACV. 
Calculations indicate that the 2 Army brigades already sent to I CTZ plus 
one more brigade (already in Program 4 for PRACTICE NINE) should be ade- 
quate to hold the DMZ and to extend the Marine tactical area of responsibi- 
lity (TAOR) throughout the coastal plains area of I CTZ. Uncertainties 
r.nd other calculations may well produce different results, but informal. 
USMC staff review indicated our calculations were reasonable. In any 
event, these calcualations are reproducible . 

The MACV requirement is based on no known calculations. It is based 
on and unquantified goals: infiltration to be impeded, 
invasion deterred or defeated, TAORs expanded and joined^ enemy driven 
to hinterlands, base areas destroyed, LOCs secured, RD programs expanded, 
and GVN control extended. 

The division for III CTZ is justified by MACV to replace" the 9th 
division, always designated for IV CTZ,. not III CTZ. Nonetheless he could 
have argued that at least- 2/3rd of the division is required to replace the 
2 brigades sent to I CTZ. There is no evidence that the programmed III CTZ 
forces, without the 2 brigades but with the additional brigade equivalent 
now programmed (1 more Australian bn, an' airborne bn, and an armored 
cavalry squadron) is inadequate; or that added forces could accomplish 
tnore. The force ration' would still be about 345,000 friendly to 74,000 
enemy (4.7 to 1). In addition there is a mechanized battalion programmed 
for IV CTZ. that might well be used more effectively in II CTZ. Moreover, 
t;he way III CTZ forces are employed, in multi-divisional operations of 
the Junction City/Manhattan variety, should be analyzed with great care 
before additional forces are even considered.'' Our analysis has shown that 
present forces could be employed more effectively (and at less cost) if 
greater emphasis were given small unit operations. 

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Furthermore, it is not clear that the entire 9th Division should be 
afloat, one brigade at the Dong Tarn Base and one brigade at a base in III 
Corps (in addition to the. separate mechanized battalion). These forces, 
working with the ARVN, should be adequate to counter the VC main force 
units and provide needed security for the RD effort. The threat in IV 
Corps is primarily from small units and guerrillas and should be encountered 
on that level, not with multi-brigade operations. 

. ... 


. A greater return can probably be realized by giving the ARVN better 
support rather than increasing the size bf the U.S. forces. The 2 ARVN 
divisions in IV Corps have less than half the artillery support of U.S. 
forces; five 105/155mm tubes and no heavy artillery tubes per ARVN 
battalion (in U.S. Army battalion equivalents) compared to . ten 105/155mm 
tubes plus two and one half 175mm and 8 n tubes per battalion for the U.S. 
Army forces. In addition, the amount of tactical air and armed helicopter 
support provided the ARVN forces country-wide is meager compared to that 
provided U.S. forces. During the 4th quarter of 1966 each U.S. battalion 
received about 500 hours per month of UH-1 support versus only 120 hours 
per battalion-equivalent for ARVN. In IV Corps the ARVN received 280 
hours per battalion per month; in the other corps areas only 60 hours. 
There is no indication MACV has- the same sense of urgency about increasing 

ARVN effectiveness as it has about increasing the number of U.S. forces. 



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This same document provided an alternative approach to calculating 
the minimum essential force. It is quoted in its entirety below, for 
it argues that given new objectives (those of preventing military disaster 
and providing time for ARVN first to improve and then do its job) the 
minimum essential force was 28 battalions smaller than that already 
programmed in Program h i 17/ (Again, assuming" that the present enemy 
threat remained constant.) The approach read: 


U.S. objectives in SVN require U.S. and FWMAF forces 
sufficient to prevent military disaster and to provide time 
for the ARVN first to improve and then to do its job. This 
force is 28 battalions smaller than the Program k force for 
the present enemy threat. 

Before U.S. intervention, the VC decimated and demoral- 
ized the ARVN reaction and reserve force by successful 
ambushes and attacks. The 17 US/FW. battalions deployed by 
July 1965 ended the deteriorating trend. In both I CTZ and 
II CTZ, VC control over the population peaked by July 1965* 
and it declined even earlier in III and IV CTZ. 

Since then, the enemy increased from 99 to 151 infantry- 
type battalions at the end of December 1966. As of 31 Decem- 
ber 1966 we had 98 infantry-type battalions, more than enough 
to counter the enemy force considering the intelligence avail- 
able. Of the 98 battalions 3^ were engaged in TAOR patrol; 
k6 were engaged in operations that were initiated by hard 
intelligence; and the 18 others were predictably unproductive. 
The hG battalions were obviously sufficient to counter the 151 
VC/nVA infantry-type battalions, witness the total lack of 
enemy success. This suggests that we need 1 battalion for 
each 3 enemy infantry-type battalions, in addition to those 
needed for static defense. The 18 battalions ineffectively 
employed plus the 10 additional infantry-type battalions in "• 
Program k that close after January 1, 1967 &re enough to ^ 
counter 8^4- additional enemy bns. Thus we need deploy no 
more forces until the enemy goes above 235 battalions, 
which does not seem to be his present intent. (The enemy 
peak was 155 infantry-type bns in July 1966, and was 1^7 
at 31 March 1967). 

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US/FW Force Requirement 

Required US/FW Total 

Mobile US/FW Force for Required 
Enemy Force For ce T AOR Patrols U.S. Force . 

151 k6 34 80 

235 lh 3^ 108 

The 3 to 1 ratio is supported by results in battle. 
Our forces routinely defeat enemy forces outnumbering them 
two or three to one. In no instance has a dug -in U.S. 
company been overrun, regardless of the size of the 
attacking enemy force, and nothing larger than a company 
has come close to annihilation when caught moving. Seven 
battalions of Marines defeated two NVA divisions in 
HASTINGS, and single battalions of 1st Air Cavalry defeated 
regimental-sized forces in pitched battles in the la Drang 
Valley in the Fall of 1965. 

These factors need confirmation, in actual practice, 
by how well the forces are doing in the field and by progress 
in ED. VC/NVA military victories and large areas succumbing 
to VC require a reaction regardless of calculated force 
requirements. But there is no sign of anything like that in 
the foreseeable future. Moreover, a sharp improvement in 
our effectiveness should result from improvements in the 
flow of intelligence and in the tactical employment of our 
forces. Achieving such improvements should be the main 
objective at this time. 18/ 

So aimed, on May Day Enthoven carried the finished memorandum to 
McNamara f s office and proceeded to discuss its contents. However, 
probably not to his surprise, he found that McNamara was thinking along 
the same lines -- in fact, he had already set John McNaughton to preparing 
a Draft Presidential Memorandum setting forth the same basic political 
arguments that Systems Analysis was making. The "hard" data in the 
Enthoven memorandum was the kind of back-up McNamara understood and 
appreciated and it buttressed most of the beliefs he already held. He 
asked Enthoven for some detailed follow-up related to VC/NVA control of 
engagements and casualties. There is no record that the Assistant 
Secretary left the signed memorandum with the Secretary of Defense, but 
there seemed little requirement for that. The ideas and position in it 
had been escalated to the DPM level where such ideas would receive the 
highest level attention and consideration. 19/ 

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2. A New Look At the "Plimsoll Line": Alternati ves to Increa ses 
Re studied 

Shortly after the first hard signs of resistance began to surface 
in May an SNIE analyzing Soviet attitudes and intentions toward the 
Vietnam war was published. It was an SNIE which in effect reinforced 
the fears which many held about increasing the intensity of the Viet- 
namese conflict. The SNIE concluded that at some point the USSR would 
create an atmosphere of heightened tension. with the United States if, 
in fact ? U.S. force increases and intensified bombing continued. In 
the words of the estimate: 

The Soviets might take certain actions designed to 
bolster North Vietnam and possibly to warn the United 
States such as the provision of limited numbers of volun- 
teers or crews for defense equipment or possibly aircraft. 
They might also break off negotiations with the United 
States on various subjects and suspend certain agreements 
now in effect. The mining or the blockade of the North 
Vietnamese coast would be most likely to provoke these 
responses , since this would constitute a direct challenge 
to the Soviets and there would be little they could do 
on the scene. 20/ 

This document 3 coming as it did at such a crucial juncture in the 
deliberations over ground force strategy and deployments in Vietnam, had 
a significant impact upon the thinking of those charged with making the 
decision of "go" or "no go," and the document itself was quoted through- 
out some of the explicit development of alternatives which followed its 
publication in both Systems Analysis and in ISA. 

As McNaughton worked on a series of drafts preparing the 19 May 
DEM which was to follow, a number of leads were being pursued through- 
out the government, all related in some way to relieving the pressures 
for more United States troops in Vietnam. One of these was a directed 
effort to obtain more allied troops especially from the nations on the 
periphery of South Vietnam or near Southeast Asia. On h May McNaughton 
asked that an analysis of South Vietnamese troop deployments in relation 
to population of the participating countries be prepared. This analysis, 
based upon population of the countries involved, concluded that for an 
increase of 100,000 U.S. troops the "allocable" share for various 
countries would range from 1^.5 thousand for Korea to 53-^ thousand 
for Indonesia. For the details of this particular study see the following 
table: 21, " 

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(Population in Millions; Troops in Thousands) 





Austral ia 

\ New Zealand 

Phi 1 i ppines 

Tha i 1 and 

I ndones ia 

Rep of China 
Malays i a 

Current or Approved Increase "Allocable" 
St renqth in SVN Required To Share Per 
Per Mi 1 1 ion 


Population No. of_Ppj^l^t,L9Ji Meet US , Ra tio 100, 000 US Trooos b/ 









470 a/ 
45 . 8 






440.3 52^.8 

















a/ Excludes naval forces in South China Sea and US forces in Thailand. 
b/ 100,000 troops represents 500 per 1,000,000 of US population. "Allocable" 
shares for other nations are calculated on this basis. 


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Somewhat along the same line, on 11 May, Walt W. Rostow prepared 
a paper devoted to what he termed a "troop community chest operation 
for Vietnam." Rostow had seen the ISA Annex which we just mentioned, 
and commented that he felt that a project that Bill Leonhart had been 
working on which related to Vietnamese force deployments to the level 
of each contributor's armed forces might be more meaningful and realistic 
plus having the very desirable characteristic of being more negotiable 
because it would require no country to increase its total armed forces 
in order to send troops to Vietnam. The table that he attached to the 
paper showed that if each country dispatched the same percentage of its 
total armed forces to Vietnam as the United States had done, about lk%, 
that there would now be an additional 70,000 troops in that country. 
Furthennore, if you asked each country to contribute an increment to 
match an additional United States increase of 100,000, and if those 
increments represented the same percentage of each country's total 
armed forces, then the result would read something like this: Korea - 
18,700; Australia - 2,000; New Zealand - ^00; Thailand - ^,000; and 
the Philippines - 1,300; for a total of 126,^00 troops added. This 
approach is interesting because later in July President Johnson was to 
begin "arm twisting" a number of national Heads of State, and the force 
totals developed here by Leonhart provided the base line from which he 
negotiated. 22/ 

The other events of note, both directed at increasing the effec- 
tiveness of American forces already in Vietnam, occurred during early 
May. The first was the issuance of NSAM 362, entitled "Responsibility 
for U.S. Role in Pacification," in which Mr. R. W. Komer was appointed 
the Deputy for Pacification (Revolutionary Development) with the personal 
rank of Ambassador to operate under CCMUSMACV. This, as we noted earlier, 
was partially the outcome of President Johnson's desire to get the 
pacification program back on the track. Komer as well as most of the 
officials concerned with the decision, had known that this development 
was coming since the time of the Guam Conference. In the NSAM the 
President noted: 

Our purpose of unifying responsibility for Pacifica- 
tion (ED) under C0MUSMACV is to permit logistic and admin- 
istrative economies through consolidation and cross- ^ 
servicing. I expect sensible steps to be taken in this 
direction. Any inter-agency jurisdictional or other 
issues which may arise in country will be referred to the 
U.S. Ambassador.... 

This new organizational arrangement represents an 
unprecedented melding of civil and military responsibil- 
ities to meet the overriding requirements of Viet Nam. 

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Therefore , I count en all concerned — in Washington and 
in Viet Nam --to pull together in the national interest 
to make this arrangement work, 23/ 

This NSAM, of course, represented the fruition of what had been a 
long-standing recommendation to consolidate Revolutionary Development 
under the individual who possessed primary responsibility and controlled 
the resources, COMUSMACV. However, in the estimation of many, especially 
those who evaluated its later effectiveness and tried to determine 
whether or not any real good had been accomplished by the reorganization, 
it represented yet one more instance of the American penchant for 
organizational tinkering, one which usually relieved the people making 
the organizational changes from really getting down and rooting out 
the basic causes of the problem. 2k/ The other interesting evaluation 
concerned the question of what level of combat service support staffing 
there should be in South Vietnam. In April, a number of studies were 
made, all designed to try to determine whether the level of combat 
service support was too high, about correct, or needed some revision in 
the upward direction. 25/ 

Mr. Victor K. Heyman, Director of the SKA Programs Division in 
the Office of the Assistant- Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis), 
toured the Vietnam area in early May and visited the First Logistical 
Command. He was concerned generally whether manning levels were adequate 
to the task assigned by COMUSMACV, and, specifically, whether or not 
the new peak level of 70,000 men to be reached during Program k was 
excessive. In his trip report, he observed that the Army Program k 
strength of 322,000 included only 66,000 men in maneuver battalions. 
Furthermore, if combat support, aviation companies, advisors, special 
forces, division and brigade staffs, and construction battalions were 
added, these increases would bring the "combat" total to only 165*000 
men or 51% of the total Army force. He felt that the balance of 157,000 
in other units appeared excessive and recommended to Secretary McNamara 
that the JCS be asked to analyze It. 

In particular, United States Army Vietnam, First Logistical Com- 
mand was scheduled to total, as we noted, approximately 70*000 men at 
the peak of Program k. This was the equivalent of nearly 5 Army divisions 
or 70 infantry battalions. Furthermore, the First Log Command did not 
include aviation supplies /maintenance units or construction battalions 
and the substantial combat service support staffing which was organic 
to divisions and separate brigades. To these increments must be added 
the hO, 000 man equivalent furnished by contractors, local national 
employment and support from the off-shore bases. Although comparing 
the services could be misleading because of different doctrines and 
organizations, a rough comparison revealed that the Army ratio was 
about one man in First Log Command to support 3*6 men in other USARV 

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units compared to a Navy-Marine Support ratio in 1st Corps Tactical 
Zone of 1:5-6 men. In view of the different tactical situations (the 
I CTZ one was more intensive combat) Heyman was led to conclude that a 
detailed review of Army support should "be made -- since simply comparing 
the ratios suggested that ^5,000 men might be adequate for the 1st Log 
Command or that the Command need not be increased until USARV strength 
exceeded ^62,000 men. In view of this analysis, Heyman recommended 
that Program ^4 should be cut to its essentials to "improve the tooth 
to tail rate" and that until the review which he had recommended had 
been completed the Secretary of Defense should defer approval for deploy- 
ment of any First Log Command units through August 1967- 26/ 

The Secretary of Defense approved this recommendation to defer 
further incremental increases to First Log Command and asked the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff to prepare a detailed study justifying added increases 
and analyzing in depth the Combat Service Support Staffing levels in 
South Vietnam. 2T(j 

3 • The Qu est for Capabilities; The Search for Limits 

Great emphasis in May focused upon capabilities , with particular 
attention being paid to just what capabilities the services had to pro- 
vide troops and units (or equivalents) below the point where they would 
be reduced to calling upon reserves or drawing down units already in 
Europe. On May 5, Systems Analysis forwarded a brief study to the 
Secretary of Defense which analyzed the additional MACV requirements 
and compared them to the estimated capability of the services to provide 
matching units. The study, which concluded that the services had only 
the capability to provide 66,000 of the 186,000 troops requested under 
the MACV "Optimum Plan" and only 19 maneuver battalions of the k2 
included in that larger plan is presented in the table en the following 
pages. 28/ 

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Additional MA.CV Requirements 
and Estimated Capabilities 
December 31 * 19^8 


Land Forces 

Strength (OCO) 
Maneuver Bns 
Artillery Bns 
Engineer Bns 
Aviation Cos. 
Signal Bns 

Naval Forces 

Strength - In- country only 


Riverine Assault Forces 

APB (Barracks Ships) 

ARL (Repair Ship) 

AN (Net Tender) 

RAS (River Assault Sq) 

River Patrol Forces 

PBR (River Patrol Boats) 

Landing Ships 

LST (Tar* Landing Ship) 

Gunfire Ships 
CA (Cruiser -;-8 M ) 

DD (Destroyer- -5") 

Construction Battalions 

Tactical Air Forces 

Strength (COO) 
Tactical Fighter 
Construction Squadron 

Total Personnel (COO) 



















66 . 

(19) a/ 

28 ' / 


3 a 








5 h 







. 5 May 19&7 
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a/ Includes one Armored Cavalry Regiment of 3 squadrons. 3 and 9th MAB from Okin. 


b/ 6 bns of 101st Abn plus 1 airborne tank bn * ' 

c/ Trained personnel not available under current rotation policy 

d/ Further analysis may show more available 

e/ Using 70 LCM-6s from war reserve. 

f/ Five LSTs now scheduled for transfer to MSTS (Korean manning) 
~ K can be retained and added to SEVENTH Fleet. No real increase in 
'SEA lift would result. 

g/ To meet this requirement indefinitely two ships must be activated, 

Four 8 1 -«"gun cruisers now In fleet can meet requirement through Oct *68. 
Activation of BB as recommended by SeclTav would provide needed ship 
through April 19^9. Second ship "must be activated for operations 
after 1969. , " * ' • 

h/ Destroyer requirement can be met in various ways: l) increase the number 
of LANTFLT destroyers rotated to PACFLT. This can" be done without 
affecting SIXTH KLeet deployments but would require a further increase 
in LANTFLT operations tempo; 2) Reactivate mothballed DDs J or 3) Use 
Nerval Reserve Training Fleet (Cat. A) DDs and replace them with 
reactivated Mothballed DDs." 

i/ Includes 11 Air Force and 2 Marine squadrons. The -11 Air Force TFS can 
be provided two" ways: l) Deploy 5 COTfUS F-k 9 1 F-lll, 1 F-100 and 
3 A-l squadrons. The A-l squadrons would be formed using surplus -Navy 
aircraft; 2) 3 F-fy squadrons from WESTPAC could be deployed in lieu 
of the A-l squadrons but this would necessitate 2 or 3 of the remaining 
h WESTPAC squadrons being returned to COKUS to augment the training base. 

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This document reflected the Secretary of Defense's immediate con- 
cern with trying to find maneuver battalions and troops within existing 
service capabilities and trying to avoid approaching the personnel 
"sound barrier" and that of having to call up reserves or to partially 
mobilize units. As a check on this analysis , on 8 May Secretary McNamara 
distributed the estimate to the services and asked their comments. On 
12 May, General Johnson of the Army replied that the Army could proba-bly 
exceed the estimated 'capability by about 6 maneuver battalions. He based 
this new estimate upon the assumption that procurement of critical items 
of equipment could be accelerated by mid-year 1967* that some withdrawal 
of equipment from the Reserve Components and non-deploying STRAF units 
would be authorized and that some new methods would be developed to 
accelerate the Army's ability to sustain forces in short tour areas. He 
did not elaborate upon this final assumption, one which was to prove 
one of the Army's primary personnel problems, that of either extending 
the length of short tours or changing basic policies about consecutive 
tours to these areas. 

The upshot of all of this concern about capabilities was a May 18 
memorandum prepared for the Secretary of Defense by Alain Enthoven, 
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis. In it, he analyzed 
and synthesized the information presented on the additional deployment 
capability of the services.- Crucially it noted that the Army had the 
capability of providing 8^,000 more troops, some 2^,000 greater than 
the original estimate which had been given to McNamara earlier in the 
month. It included 21 maneuver battalions instead of 16. But, again, 
this estimate was based upon the assumptions that the deployment of 
the 5"th Mechanized Division, then KA.T0-committed, and the rest of the 
101st Airborne Division would be approved for deployment to SEA; that 
an as yet unidentified improved solution to the rotation base problem 
could be found and that there would be more and faster procurement of 
equipment, especially helicopters. End strength increases for the 
Army at the end of FY 69 were estimated to be 177*000 compared with the 
110 to 120,000 which had been previously calculated. The increase by 
December 1967 was to be 77*000 and by June I968, 118,000. The latter 
figure was about 70% of the strength required by December of 1968. 30/ 

The significance of the 18 May memorandum seems to be that it 
said: within rather narrow limits the figure of 60 - 65*000 is the 
Army's capability to provide troops in the form of maneuver battalions 
properly equipped, ready for deployment within the time frame - all 
below the requirement to mobilize the reserves. It also indicated that 
the Air Force, although strained and possibly drawing down units in 
Europe and other STRAF directed missions could meet the deployment 
schedules within both the "optimum" and the "minimum essential" range, 
although it would be preferable in the view of Harold Brown to meet 
only the minimum essential requirement and to leave the TFS's which 

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were already assigned to NATO on that station. The 60,000 figure 
which we just mentioned was to reappear later, much later in fact, 
when Secretary McNamara travelled to Saigon in late July to "negotiate" 

the new force levels for Program 5- 


h. Bombi ng in the North: Its Contribution to the Ground War 

In early May attention also focused on how the bombing campaign 
in the North could better contribute to successful military outcomes in 
the South. Three important memos appeared during the first week in May, 
all devoted to this problem. On 5 May, in a draft memorandum for the 
President, John McNaughton proposed that all of the sorties allocated 
to the ROLLING THUNDER program be concentrated .on the lines of communica- 
tion, or what he called the "funnel" through which men and supplies to 
the south must flow between 17-20°, while reserving the options and the 
intention to strike in the area north of this (or in the 20-23° area) as 
necessary to keep the enemy ! s investment in defense and in repair crews 
high throughout the country. In arguing for this course of action, he 
noted that General Wheeler, when General Westmoreland was in Washington 
in April, had said that the bombing campaign was reaching the point 
where all of the worthwhile fixed targets, except the ports had been 
struck. McNaughton did not believe that the ports- should be struck nor 
closed by mining, primarily because of the confrontation which he saw 
this might cause with the Soviet Union* Examining the bombing alter- 
natives, he observed that we could continue to conduct attacks north 
of the 20° parallel, that is continue striking minor fixed targets while 
conducting armed reconnaissance against movement on roads, railroads 
and waterways. This course, though, was costly in American lives and 
in his estimation involved serious dangers of escalation, either with 
the Chinese or the Russians. The loss rate in Hanoi/Haiphong Route 
Package 6 for example was more than six times the loss rate in the 
southernmost route packages 1 and 2, and actions in the Hanoi/Haiphong 
area involved serious risks of generating confrontations with the Soviet 
Union and China, both because they involved destruction of MIGs on the 
ground and counters with MIGs in the air and because they might be 
construed as U.S. intention to crush the Hanoi regime. The military 
gain of the expanded bombing appeared to be slight; in fact, McNaughton 
could locate no evidence at the time to establish some convincing con- 
nection between operations in the north against targets north of the 
20° parallel and enemy actions in the South. Furthermore, if the United 
States believed that air attacks in the area would change Hanoi's will, 
they might have been worthwhile, he added, and consequently reduce the 
loss, of American life in the south and the risk of the expansion of the 
war in the North. However, McNaughton noted there was no evidence that 
this would be the case, for there was considerable evidence that such 

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bombing would strengthen Hanoi's will. He quoted Consul General Rice 
of Hong Kong when he said that there was very little chance that by 
bombing we could reach the critical level of pain in North Vietnam 
and that "below that level pain only increases the will to fight." 31/ 
Robert Thompson had also been quoted as saying, when he was here in 
late April, that our bombing, particularly in the Red River Basin area 
was "unifying North Vietnam." The old argument that bombing in the 
northern area was necessary to maintain the morale of the South Viet- 
namese or American fighting men was discounted. Although General 
Westmoreland had fully supported attacks against targets in the Hanoi/ 
Haiphong areas and had said during his visit here in late April that 
he was "frankly dismayed at even the thought of stopping the bombing 
program," his basic requirements had continued to be requests for 
attacks on what he called the extended battle zone near the DMZ. 32/ 

McNaughton T s closing paragraphs in this memorandum indicate that 
he was not only interested in trying to develop a better fit between 
bombing operations in the North and ground operations in the South, but 
that he was also clearing the way for getting Hanoi to change its posi- 
tion on negotiations. He noted that to optimize the chances of a 
favorable Hanoi reaction to an American restriction of the bombing the 
scenario should be: inform the Soviets quietly (on May 15) that 
within a few (5) days the policy would be implemented, 
stating no time limits and making no promise not to 
return to the Red River basin to attack targets which 
later acquired military importance, and then... to make 
an unhuckstered shift as predicted on May 20. We would 
expect Moscow to pass the May 15 information on to Hanoi, 
perhaps (but probably not) urging Hanoi to seize the 
opportunity to de-escalate the war by talks or otherwise. 
Hanoi, not having been asked a question by us and having 
no ultimatum- like time limit, might be in a better posture 
to react favorably than has been the case in the past. 
Nevertheless, no favorable response from Hanoi should be 
expected, and the change in policy is not based on any 
such expectation. 33/ 

This policy, he recommended, should then publicly be handled by 
explaining (l) that, as always, we had said the war must be won in the 
south; (2) that we had never believed that the bombing of the war would 
produce a settlement by breaking Hanoi's will or by shutting off the 
flow of supplies; (3) that the north must pay the price for its infil- 
tration; and (4) that since the major military targets in the north 
had been destroyed we were now concentrating on the narrow neck through 
which supplies must flow, sincerely believing that concentrated effort 
there as compared with dispersed effort throughout NVN would increase 

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the efficiency of our interdiction effort; and that (5) we retained 
the option to return further north and restrike those targets if mili- 
tary considerations so required. 3^/ 

A White House memorandum, prepared by Walt Rostow, on the same 
subject^ essentially repeated what McNaughton had said. To Rostow the 
policy issues and contention were first revolving around choices 
involving the North and these, in turn, broke out to either: (a) closing 
the top of the funnel - under this strategy he meant that we could mine 
the major harbors and perhaps bomb port facilities and even consider a 
blockade; in addition, attacks would be made systematically against the 
rail lines between Hanoi and mainland China. He exhibited little confi- 
dence that this would have a very important effect upon the North Viet- 
namese war effort especially in light of the tremendous costs which he 
anticipated, especially the political costs vis-a-vis the Soviet Union 
and the Chinese Communists. He concluded for this expanded course of 
action that tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and 
Communist China would surely increase but that if we were very deter- 
mined we could impose additional burdens on Hanoi and its allies, that 
we might cut their capacity below requirements, but that the outcome 
was uncertain; (b) attacking what was inside the funnel . This was 
essentially what the Air Force and Navy had been trying in the Hanoi/ 
Haiphong area for some weeks. Rostow disagreed with the contention that 
the attacks on the Hanoi -Haiphong area had no bearing on the war in the 
south, a significant difference from what McNaughton believed. In Rostow ! s 
estimation the North Vietnamese had diverted massive amounts of resources, 
energies and attention throughout the civil and military establishment of 
North Vietnam. This gross dislocation, in turn, imposed general economic, 
political and psychological difficulties on the north during a period 
already complicated by a bad harvest and some food shortages. He did 
not accept the CIA assessment that the bombings in the North in fact 
hardened the will of the people, and in his judgment, up to that point 
our bombing had been a painful additional cost that they had been willing 
to bear to pursue their efforts in the south. Although he acknowledged 
that there were uncertainties about the eventual political costs of 
expanded or continued bombing in the Hanoi -Haiphong area, he played down 
what was becoming an increasingly attractive line of argument — that the 
continuation of attacks at about the level that we had been conducting 
in Hanoi -Haiphong area would lead to increased Soviet pressure on Berlin 
or even some kind of general war with the Soviet Union. In fact, in 
Rostow T s words ; "What the Soviets have been trying to signal is - keep 
away from our ships, we may counter escalate to some degree; but we do 
not want a nuclear confrontation over Vietnam." 35/ 

The next alternative (c) that Rostow discussed was the one which 
McNaughton had recommended -- that of concentrating our bombing efforts 
in Route Packages 1 and 2. The advantages of these he saw would plainly 

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cut our loss rate in pilots and planes , that we might somewhat improve 
our harassment of infiltration into South Vietnam, and that we would 
diminish the risk of counter-escalatory action by the Soviet Union and 
Communist China, as compared with the first two courses he had listed. 
He did not recommend that we pursue Course A since the returns "did not 
on present evidence seem high enough to justify the risk of Soviet - 
Chinese countermeasures and heightened world tensions." 36/ In this, 
he felt that he was supported by the conclusions of the majority of the 
intelligence community. With respect to the second option which he had 
outlined, he felt: 

...I believe we have achieved greater results in 
increasing the pressure on Hanoi and raising the cost of 
their continuing to conduct the aggression in the South 
than some of my most respected colleagues would agree. 
I do not believe we should lightly abandon what we have 
accomplished; and specifically, I believe we should mount 
the most economical and careful attack on the Hanoi power 
station our air tacticians can devise. Moreover, I 
believe we should keep open the option of coming back 
to the Hanoi -Haiphong area, depending upon what we learn 
of their repair operations; and what Moscow's and Peiping's 
reactions are; and especially when we understand better 
what effects we have and have not achieved thus far. 

I believe the Soviet Union may well have taken cer- 
tain counter-steps addressed to the more effective pro- 
tection of the Hanoi -Haiphong area and may have decided — 
or could shortly decide --to introduce into North Viet Nam 
some' surface-to-surface missiles. 37/ 

Rostow favored the third option ((c) - bombing below the 20°) because, 
in his words, he felt that we were "wasting a good many pilots in the 
Hanoi -Haiphong area without commensurate results and that the major objec- 
tives of maintaining the B option, or the restrikes back into the Hanoi- 
Haiphong could be achieved at a lower cost." 38/ 

He, too, addressed the problem of presenting this to the American 
public, noting that "we shall have to devise a way of presenting our 
total policy in Vietnam in a manner which is consistent with diminished 
attacks in th« Hanoi -Haiphong area; which is honest; and which is acceptable 
to our own people. Surfacing the concept of the barrier may be critical to 
that turnaround as will be other measures to righten infiltration and 
improve RVNAF pacification and that provision of additional allied forces 
to permit "Westy to get on with our limited but real role in pacification, 
notably with the defense of I Corps in the North and the hounding of 
provincial main force units." 39/ 

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These three memos reflect the basic trend of thought reference 
the bombing campaigns in the north as they developed in early May. 
Later in May, as we shall see, the Joint Chiefs of Staff came in with 
their proposals to "shoulder out" foreign shipping and mining in the 
harbors in the north and for more intensive interdiction both north of 
and below the 20th parallel against North Vietnam. This basic dispute 
led to the preparation of a draft Presidential memorandum at the end 
of May devoted to an analysis of the bombing and which provided policy 
recommendations on it for the President, ko/ 

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1. Interview with Mr. Philip Odeen, SEA Programs, OASD(SA), on 
27-28 August 1968. 

2. Draft, "Additional MACV Force Requirements/' dtd 23 March 1967, 
with attached note for Secretary McNamara. 

3. Draft memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "SEA 
Force Requirements," VK Heyman, dtd 28 April 1967. 

k. Ibid. 

5. Ibid. . 

6. Ibid . 

7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. ... 

9. Ibid. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Draft memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: "SEA 
Force Requirements," Alain Enthoven, 28 April 1967. 

12. Memorandum from Alain Enthoven, ASD(SA) for the Secretary of 
Defense, Subject: "Force Levels and Enemy Attrition" dtd h May 1967- 

13. Ibid. 

Ik. Ibid . 

15- OASD(SA) Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, "increase of 
Southeast Asia Forces," dtd 1 May 1967* 

16. "C0MUSMACV T s Minimum Force Requirement — An Analysis," undated, 
but attached to 1 May I967 Memorandum to SecDef . 

17. Ibid. 

18. Ibid . 

19 • This account was provided by Mr. Philip Odeen of Systems Analysis 
in an interview on 20 July 1968. 

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20. SNIE 11-11-67, Subject: Soviet Attitudes and Intentions Toward 
the Vietnam War, dated h May 1967. 

21. "South Vietnamese Troop Deployments in Relation to Population," 
Attachment 5> dated ^4 May 1967- This attachment was prepared to 
be included in the 19 May DIM. However, it was removed from the 
paper a.nd never forwarded along with the finished DPM. 

22. Ibid . ; See Memorandum for the President from W. W. Rostow, Subject 
"Vietnam Force Level Sharing," dated 10 May I967. One of the prob< 
lems which periodically reappeared and was discussed reference 
asking for greatly increased contributions of allied troops was 
what the command relationship should be in Vietnam. One of the 
proposals consistently forwarded was that of developing a "NATO- 
style" combined U.S. Republic of Vietnamese armed forces Free 
World Military Armed Forces Command under General Westmoreland. 
The judgment of all senior people in Saigon had been that the 
possible military advantages of such action would be outweighed 

by its adverse psychological impact; that it would cut across 
the picture of the Vietnamese winning their own war, and lay the 
United States open to hostile propaganda both within South Viet- 
nam and around the world. This idea of a, unified command although 
surfacing periodically as we have noted was never given serious 
consideration until much later when the United States at least 
floated the idea in an attempt to develop entres to the eventual 
disengagement. (Memorandum, Subject: Position on U.S. /other Than 
Vietnamese Armed Forces Free World Military Armed Force Command 
" Relationships, dated 19 May I967 (in McNaughton papers). 

23. NSAM 362, May 9, 1967, Subject: "Responsibility for U.S. Role 
in Pacification (Revolutionary Development). 

2k.- Richard C. Holbrooke, Task Force Paper IV.C.ll, "Reemphasis on 
Pacification," see pages I3O-I37. 

25. Memorandum for the SecDef, Subject: Combat Service Support 
Staffing in South Vietnam, dated 23 May 1967. 

26. Memo for SecDef, Subject: Combat Service Support Staffing in 
South Vietnam, dated 23 May 1967. 

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27. Memorandum for the Chairman, JCS, Subject: Combat Service* 
Support Staffing in SVN, dated 23 May 1967, H-87175- An inter- 
esting and revealing incident occurred when Mr. Heyman visited 
the 1st Log Command. During the standard briefing, the Com- 
manding General noted that he had "just about the right number 

of men to do the job now in South Vietnam." This prompted Heyman 
when he walked down the hallway to the Personnel Section of the 
1st Log Command to inquire how many troops they actually had 
assigned. He was told 58,000. Upon his return he analyzed 
Program k to see that 70,000 had been approved for the program. 
This convinced him to recommend to McNamara that a hard look 
be taken at the 1st Log Command since it appeared in the view 
of the Commanding General that they were doing just fine with 
some 12,000 troops less than they had asked and had approved in 
Program k. (Memorandum, Subject: SKA. Trip Report, Victor K. 
Heyman, Director, SEA Programs Division, dated 11 May 1967*) 

28. "Additional MACV Requirements and Estimated Capabilities," 
December 31, I968, Prepared by OASD(SA), dated 5 May 1967. 

29. Memorandum for the SecDef, from the Secretary of the Army, 
Subject: Army Capability to Deploy Additional Forces to Vietnam 
without Mobilization, dated 12 May 1967* 

30. Memorandum for SecDef, Subject: Additional Requirement Capability, 
■ Alain Enthoven, 18 May I967. Also see: Memo for the SecDef, 

from SA, Stanley R. Resor, Subject: Army Capability to Deploy 
Additional Forces to Vietnam without Mobilization, dated 12 May 
1967; and Memo for the SecDef, Subject: MACV/CINCPAC FY 1968. 

31. Ibid . 

32. Draft Presidential Memorandum, John McNaughton, Subject: Pro- 
posed Bombing Program Against North Vietnam dated 5 May 1967- 

33- Ibid . 

34. Ibid . 

35* Memorandum for Vance, et. al. , from W. W. Rostow, Subject: U.S. 
Strategy in Vietnam, dated 6 May 1967- 

36. Ibid . 

37. Ibid. 

38. Ibid. 

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39* Ibid . As the third leg of this intensive inter-agency review 

of our bombing strategy, Wm. Bundy of State prepared an analysis 
very similar to that presented by Rostov. He too believed that 
our options were essentially those of concentrating on the supply 
routes in Route Packages 1 and 2, restrikes north of the 20th 
parallel, possible selective additional strikes on sensitive 
targets in the North, and finally, a major expansion to extremely 
sensitive targets north of the 20th parallel. His examination of 
the options concluded that the final option, that is, of not 
hitting additional sensitive targets, increasing our reaction in 
our effort in Route Packages 1 and 2 were both preferable to the 
political consequences of an expansion of the bombing north of 
the 20th parallel. In this, he was generally in agreement with 
McNaughton. He believed that basically overall progress in the 
south was the key element in changing Hanoi T s attitude and that 
any bombing program below the major expansion option or any 
cessation of bombing without certain reciprocity would be totally 
negative in its effect on Hanoi. He relegated the bombing program 
itself to basically a, supplementary role in affecting Hanoi ? s 
• attitude. See memorandum from W.' P. Bundy, Subject: Bombing 

Strategy Options for the Rest of 1967, dated 8 May I967 (McNaughton 

k0. See JCSM 286-67, Subject: Operations Against North Vietnam, 
dated 20 May 1967; and JCSM 312-67, Subject:' Air Operations 
Against North Vietnam dated 2 June I967. 

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1. The McNaughton Draft Presidential Memorandum 

On 19 May j the memorandum on which McNaughton had been working 
Was floated. It was a comprehensive document drawing upon the argu- 
ments developed in the Office of Systems Analysis as well as recent 
CIA studies and views both from the State Department and the White 
House on the bombing. The preamble to the basic document noted that 
it was written at a time when there appeared to be no attractive course 
of action. McNaughton stated that he believed that Hanoi had decided 
not to negotiate until the American electorate had been heard from in 
November of 1968. His appraisal of the current situation dwelled on 
the unpopular nature of the Vietnam war in the country. In his eyes 
it was becoming: 

....increasingly unpopular as it escalates -~ causing 
more American casualties, more fear of its growing into a 
wider war, more privation of the domestic sector, and more 
distress at the amount of suffering being visited on the 
non-combatants in Vietnam, South and North. Most Americans 
do not know how we got where we are, and most, without 
knowing why, but taking advantage of hindsight, are con- 
vinced that somehow we should not have gotten this deeply 
in. All want the war ended and expect their President to 
end it. Successfully, or else. 

This state of mind In the US generates impatience in 
the political structure of the United States. It unfor- 
tunately also generates patience in Hanoi, (it is commonly 
supposed that Hanoi will not give anything away pending the 
trial of the US elections in November 1968.) l/ 

There is sufficient evidence that McNaughton T s feelings about the 
war> and especially the increasing opposition to force increases in South 
Vietnam, ran much deeper than even the cogent arguments he had been making 
in the draft memorandum. In a memo for the Secretary of Defense written 
on 6 May after McNaughton had examined an earlier 5 May "Rough Draft," 
he described his apprehensions about the ground force strategy which 
he described as a "trap which had ensnared us," and which If unchecked 
rrdght lead us to almost an irreversible ground force escalation for 
the next undetermined number of years. He wrote: 

I am afraid there, is the fatal flaw in the strategy 
in the draft. It is that the strategy falls into the trap 


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that has ensnared us for the past three years. It actu- 
a ^y g^- ves "the troops while only praying for their proper 
use and for constructive diplomatic action. Limiting the 
present decision to an 80,000 add-on does the very impor- 
tant business of postponing the issue of a Reserve call-up 
(and all of its horrible baggage), but postpone it is all that 
it does — probably to a worse time, 1968. Providing the 
80,000 troops is tantamount to acceding to the whole West- 
moreland-Sharp request. This being the case, they will 
"accept" the 80 3 000. But six months from now, in will come 
messages like the "^70, 000-570,000" messages, saying that 
the requirement remains at 201,000 (or more). Since no 
pressure will have been put on anyone, the military war 
will have gone on as before and no diplomatic progress 
will have been made. It follows that the "philosophy" of 
the war should be fought out now so everyone will not be 
proceeding on their own major premises, and getting us in 
deeper and deeper; at the very least, the President should 
give General Westmoreland his limit (as President Trume,n did 
to General MacArthur). That is, if General Westmoreland is 
to get 550,000 men, he should be told "that will be all, and 
we mean it." 

McNaughton was also very deeply concerned about the breadth and 
the intensity of public unrest and dissatisfaction with the war. To him 
the draft paper underplayed a bit the unpopularity of the conflict 
especially with young people, the underprivileged, the intelligentia, 
and the women. He examined those lining up on both sides of an increas- 
ingly polarized public and he did not especially like what he saw: 

A feeling is widely and strongly held that "the 
Establishment" is out of its mind. The feeling is that 
we are trying to impose some US image on distant peoples 
we cannot understand (anymore than we can the younger 
generation here at home), and that we are carrying the 
thing to absurd lengths. Related to this feeling is the 
increased polarization that is taking place in the United 
States with seeds of the worst split in our people in more 
than a century. The King, Galbraith, etc., positions 
illustrate one near-pole; the Hebert and Rivers state- 
ments on May 5 about the need to disregard the First 
Amendment illustrates the other. In this connection, 
I fear that "natural selection" in this environment will 
lead the Administration itself to become more and more 
homogenized — Mac Bundy, George Ball, Bill Moyers are 
gone. . Who next? 

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Finally, he quarrelled with the way in which the paper had dealt 
with the definition of "success."' He felt that this definition was 
the major problem, that the draft had not properly grappled with the 
redefinition, since "winning" was what the strategy pursued by C0MUS- 
MACV tried to do. He suggested that as a matter of tactics maybe 
the President should figure it out himself, a point which tied in 
closely with an earlier one of his about getting the "philosophy of 
the war" straightened out and thereby avoiding another diplomatic 
default and military misuse of forces, k/ 

McNaughton's review of the situation in South and North Vietnam 
stressed that the big war in the south between the United States and 
the North Vietnamese units seemed to be going well but that regretably 
the "other war" against the VC was not going so well. In his words: 

The "big war" in the South between the US and the North 
Vietnamese military units (NVA.) is going well. We staved 
off military defeat in 1965; we gained the military initi- 
ative in 1966: snd since then we have been hurting the 
enemy badly, spoiling some of his ability to strike, "in 
the final analysis," General Westmoreland said, "we are 
fighting a war of attrition." In that connection, the 
enemy has been losing between 1500 and 2000 killed-in-action 
a week, while we and the South Vietnamese have been losing 
175 and 250 respectively. The VC/WA 287,000-man order of 
battle is leveling off, and General Westmoreland believes 
that, as of March, we "reached the cross-over point" -- we 
began attriting more men than Hanoi can recruit or infil- 
trate each month. The concentration of NVA forces across 
the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the enemy use of long-range 
artillery are matters of concern. There are now four NVA 
divisions in the DMZ area. The men infiltrate directly 
across the western part of the plans to nibble at our forces, 
seeking to inflict heavy casualties, perhaps to stage a. 
"spectacular" (perhaps against Quang Tri City or Hue), and/ 
or to try a major thrust into the Western Highlands. They 
are forcing us to transfer some forces from elsewhere in 
Vietnam to the I Corps area. 

Throughout South Vietnam, supplies continue to flow 
in ample quantities, with Cambodia becoming more and more 
important as a supply base -- now of food and medicines, 
perhaps ammunition later. The enemy retains the ability 
to initiate both large- and small-scale attacks. Small- 
scale attacks in the first quarter of 1967 are running at 
double the 1966 average; larger-scale attacks are again on 
the increase after falling off substantially in I966. Acts 
of terrorism and harassment have continued at about the 
same rate. 

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The over-all troop strengths of friendly and VC/lWA 
forces by Corps Area are shown in Attachments I and II. 

All things considered, there is consensus that we 
are no longer in danger of losing this war militarily. 

Regrettably, the "other war" against the VC is still 
not going well. Corruption is widespread. Real govern- 
ment control is confined to enclaves. There is rot in 
the fabric. Our efforts to enliven the moribund political 
infrastructure have been matched by VC efforts -- more now 
through coercion than was formerly the case. So the VC 
are hurting badly too. In the Delta, because of the 
redeployment of some VC/lWA troops to the area north of 
Saigon, the VC have lost their momentum and appear to be 
conducting essentially a holding operation. On the 
government side there, the tempo of operations has been 
correspondingly low. The population remains apathetic, 
and many local government officials seem to have working 
arrangements with the VC which they are reluctant to dis- 

The National Liberation Front (HLF) continues to 
control large parts of South Vietnam, and there is little 
evidence that the revolutionary development program is 
gaining any momentum. The Army of South Vietnam (ARVN) 
is tired, passive and accommodation-prone, and is moving 
too slowly if at all into pacification work. 

The enemy no doubt continues to believe that we will 
not be able to translate our military success in the "big war" 
into the desired "end products" — namely, broken enemy morale 
and political achievements by the Government of Vietnam (GVW) . 
At the same time, the VC must be concerned about decline in 
morale among their ranks. Defections, which averaged ^-00 
per week last year, have, until a slump near the end of 
April, been running at more than 1000 a week; very few 
defectors, however, are important people. 

The transition to a government in Saigon responsive 
to the South Vietnamese people is moving as well as can be 
expected. A Constituent Assembly was elected last fall. 
A constitution has been adopted. Local elections, involving 
more than $G per cent of the rural population and a 77-80 
per cent turnout, have taken place despite the shadow cast 
by VC assassinations and kidnappings. The Buddhists have 
launched a new "peace" campaign with an immolation, but 

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their political power is less than it was "before their 
defeat in 1966. National elections are scheduled for 
September 1. No one, "unfortunately, has shown any- 
charismatic appeal. Ky and Thieu have promised not to 
split over the presidency, but there is obviously a 
serious struggle going on between them (Ky has announced 
his candidacy, and Thieu, the weaker of the two, has 
hinted that he may throw his weight behind a civilian) . 
So there is hope that there will be an orderly transi- 
tion to stable constitutional rule. 

Little has been done to remedy the economic and 
social ills of the corruption from which VC popular sup- 
port stems. Partly because of this inaction -- where 
reform action would destroy the working consensus — the 
political situation at the top remains relatively stable. 

The port is operating much better. Inflation 
appears to be under control. But the flow of rice into 
Saigon from the Delta, as good an indicator as any of 
the state of affairs, continues to decrease: The flow 
is 75 per cent of the I966, and half of the 19&5; rates; 
national exports of rice ceased in 196^, and imports 
continue to climb. 

C. North Vietnam 

Hanoi* s attitude towards negotiations has never been 
soft nor open-minded. Any concession on their part would 
involve an enormous loss of face. Whether or not the Polish 
and Burchett-Kosygin initiatives had much substance to them, 
it is clear that Hanoi's attitude currently is hard and 
rigid. They seem uninterested in a political settlement and 
determined to match US military expansion of the conflict. 
This change probably reflects these factors: (l) increased 
assurances of help from the Soviets received during Pham 
Van Dong's April trip to Moscow; (2) arrangements providing 
for the unhindered passage of materiel from the Soviet Union 
through China; and (3) a decision to wait for the results 
of the US. elections in 1968. Hanoi appears to have concluded 
that she cannot secure her objectives at the conference table 
and has reaffirmed her strategy of seeking to erode our abil- 
ity to remain in the South. The Hanoi leadership has 
apparently decided that it has no choice but to submit to 
the increased bombing. There continues to be no sign that 
the bombing has reduced Hanoi's will to resist or her ability 
to ship the necessary supplies south. Hanoi shows no signs 
of ending the large war and advising the VC to melt into the 

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jungles. The North Vietnamese believe they are right; 
they consider the Ky regime to be puppets; they believe 
the world is with them and that the American public will 
not have staying power against them. Thus, although they 
may have factions in the regime favoring different approaches, 
they believe that, in the long run, they are stronger than 
we are for the purpose. They probably do not want to make 
significant concessions, and could not do so without serious 
loss of face. 5/ 

He then analyzed two alternative military courses of action which 
he labeled "A" and "B". In Course A the full troop requirement request 
from COMUSMA.CV was to be honored, and subsequent military actions 
intensified not only in the south, but especially in the north. This 
program consisted of an addition of the minimum of 200,000 men; 100,000 
in the 2-1/3 division "minimum essential" force in FY 68 and another 
100,000 in FY 69, with possibly more later to fulfill the JCS ultimate 
requirement for Vietnam and associated worldwide contingencies. Course 
B proposed limiting the force increases to no more than 3°,°00 thereby 
stabilizing the ground conflict within the borders of South Vietnam and 
concommitantly concentrating the bombing on the infiltration routes 
south of the 20th parallel. He analyzed the two courses of action in 

the following terms. 

COURSE A would be chosen with a view to bringing addi- 
tional military pressure to bear on the enemy in the South 
while continuing to carry out our present missions not 
directly related to combating enemy main-force units. It 
would involve accepting the risk — the virtual certainty -- 
that the action especially the Reserve call-up, would stimu- 
late irresistible pressures in the United States for further 
escalation against North Vietnam, and for ground actions 
against "sanctuaries" in Cambodia and Laos. 


Proponents of the added deployments in the South believe 
that such deployments will hasten the end of the war. None 
of them believes that the added forces are needed to avoid 
defeat; few of them believe that the added forces are required 
to do the military job in due course; all of the proponents 
believe that they are needed if that job is- to be done faster. 
The argument is that we avoided military defeat in 19655 that 
we gained the military initiative in 1966, since then hurting 
the enemy badly, spoiling much of his ability to strike, and 
thus diminishing the power he could project over the popula- 
tion; and that even more -vigorous military initiative against 
his main forces and base areas will hurt him more, spoil his 

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efforts more, and diminish his projected power more than 
would be the case under presently approved force-deploy- 
ment levels. This, the argument goes, will more readily 
create an environment in South Vietnam in which our pacifi- 
cation efforts can take root and thrive; at the same time — 
because of our progress in the South and because of the 
large enemy losses -- it will more rapidly produce a state 
of mind in Hanoi conducive to ending the war on reasonable 

Estimates by the proponents vary as to how long the 
job will take without, and with, the additional forces. 
General Westmoreland has said that without the additions 
the war could go on five years. He has said that with 
100,000 more men, the war could go on for three years and 
that with 200,000 more men it could go on for two. These 
estimates are after taking account of his view that the 
introduction of a non-professional force, such as that which 
would result from fulfilling the requirement by calling 
Reserves, would cause some degradation of morale, leader- 
ship and effectiveness. 

Questions to be Answered 

Addressing the force additions alone: We should expect no 
serious objections based on internal South Vietnamese reasons 
(the 44-billion piastre inflationary impact can probably be 
handled, and anti-Americanism is not likely to increase signifi- 
cantly) ; nor are dangerous reactions likely to come from the 
USSR, East Europe, or from the non-Communist nations of the 
world. The questions that must be answered are: 

--(1) Will the move to call up 200,000 Reserves, 
to ex-bend enlistments, and to enlarge the uniformed strength 
by 500,000 (300,000 beyond the Reserves), combined with the 
increased US larger initiative, polarize opinion to the 
extent that the "doves" in the US will get out of hand — 
massive refusals to serve, or to fight, or to cooperate, 
or worse? 

— (2.) Can we achieve the same military effect by 
making more efficient use of presently approved US man- 
power (e.g., by removing them from the Delta, by stopping 
their being used for pacification work in I Corps, by 
transferring some combat and logistics jobs to Vietnamese 
or additional third-country personnel)? 

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--(3) Assuming no specific enemy counter-deployments, 
are the added US forces likely to make a meaningful mili- 
tary difference? (On the one hand, if we are now "past the 
cross -over point," cannot the military job "be done without 
the added forces? On the other, if the enemy can conduct 
his terror "from the bushes," can the military job be done 
even with them? ) 

— (h) Will the effect of any US additions be neu- 
tralized, or stalemated, by specific enemy counter-deploy- 
ments involving more forces from North Vietnam (and perhaps 
introduction of more Chinese in North Vietnam and Chinese 
and other "volunteers" into South Vietnam)? 

"(5) Will the factors mentioned in (l) above generate 
such impatience in the United States that "hawk" pressures 
will be irresistible to expand the land war into Laos, 
Cambodia and North Vietnam and to take stronger air and 
naval actions against North Vietnam, with consequent risks 
of a much larger war involving China and Russia and of even 
more dove -hawk polarization at home and abroad? 

The answer to Question 1 (regarding "dove" reaction), we 
believe, is a qualified no. Barring escalation of the "external" 
war discussed under Question 5> we believe that increased forces 
will not lead to massive civil disobedience. However, a request 
for Congressional authority to call Reserves would lead to 
divisive debate. 

Question 2 (relating to more efficient use of US forces) 
is an important one, but its answer, even if most favorable, is 
not likely to free-up enough personnel to satisfy a 200,000- 
man request. It is true that one of the additional divisions 
could be eliminated if the US Army eschewed the Delta, and cer- 
tain of the other ground-force requirements could be eliminated 
if the US Marines ceased grass-roots pacification activities. 
Additional fractions might be trimmed if the ARVN (whose 
uninspired performance is exasperating) were jacked up, if the 
Koreans provided more combat or usable logistics personnel, or 
if other third-country forces were forthcoming. Efforts along 
this line should be made, but the items that prove out will not 
go nearly as far as the 200,000 request. 

Questions 3 and 4 (relating to the value of additional 
US forces and possible enemy action to offset them) are very 
difficult ones and can be treated together. In December 19^5^ 


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when the US had 175,000 men in Vietnam, I reported that 
"the odds are even that, even with the recommended deploy- 
ments, we will be faced in early I967 with a military 
standoff at a much higher level..." In October 1966, when 
our deployments had reached 325,000, I pointed out that that 
was substantially the case and that "I see no reasonable 
way to bring the war to an end soon." That remains true • 
today. With respect to Question 3, this is because the 
enemy has us "stalemated" and has the capability to tailor 
his actions to his supplies and manpower and, by hit-and- 
run terror, to make government and pacification very difficult 
in large parts of the country almost without regard to the size 
of US forces there; and, with respect to Question 4, because 
the enemy can and almost certainly will maintain the military 
"stalemate" by matching our added deployments as necessary. 
(General Westmoreland has made the point that "this war is 
action and counteraction; any time we take an action, we 
can expect a reaction." He added," It is likely the enemy 
will react by adding troops.") In any event, there is no 
suggestion that the added deployments will end the war in 
less than two years and no assurance that they will end it 
in three, or five, years. 

Question 5 (regarding irresistible pressures to expand 
the war) is the toughest one. 

The addition of the 200,000 men, involving as it does 
a call-up of Reserves and an addition of 500,000 to the 
military strength, would, as mentioned above, almost certainly 
set off bitter Congressional debate and irresistible domestic 
pressures for stronger action outside South Vietnam. Cries 
would go up -- much louder than they already have --to "take 
the wraps off the men in the field." The actions would 
include more intense bombing -- not only around-the-clock 
bombing of targets already authorized, but also bombing of 
strategic targets such as locks and dikes, and mining of 
the harbors against Soviet and other ships. Associated actions 
impelled by the situation would be major ground actions in 
Laos, Cambodia, and probably in North Vietnam -- first as a 
pincer operation north of the DMZ and then at a point such 
as Vinh. The use of tactical nuclear and area-denial radi- 
ological-bacteriological-chemical weapons would probably 
be suggested at some point if the Chinese entered the war 
in Vietnam or Korea or if US losses were running high while 
conventional efforts were not producing desired results. 

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Bombing Purposes and Payoffs 

Our "bombing of North Vietnam was designed to serve 
three purposes: 

— (l) To retaliate and to lift the morale of the 
people in the South who were being attacked by agents 
of the North. 

— (2) To add to the pressure on Hanoi to end the war. 

— (3) To reduce the flow and/or to increase the 
cost of infiltrating men and materiel from North to South. 

We cannot ignore that a limitation on bombing will 
cause serious psychological problems among the men, offi- 
cers and commanders , who will not be able to understand 
why we should withhold punishment from the enemy. General 
Westmoreland said that he is "frankly dismayed at even the 
thought of stopping the bombing program." But this reason 
for attacking North Vietnam must be scrutinized carefully. 
We should not bomb for punitive reasons if it serves no 
other purpose — especially if analysis shows that the 
actions may be counterproductive. It costs American 
lives; it creates a backfire of revulsion and opposition 
by killing civilians; it creates serious risks; it may harden 
the enemy. 

With respect to added pressure on the North, it is 
becoming apparent that Ha,noi may already have "written off" 
all assets and lives that might be destroyed by US military 
actions short of occupation or annihilation. They can and 
will hold out at least so long as a prospect of winning the 
"war of attrition" in the South exists. And our best judgment 
is that a Hanoi prerequisite to negotiations is significant 
retrenchment (if not complete stoppage) of US military actions 
against them -- at the least, a cessation of bombing. In 
this connection, Consul -General Rice (Hong Kong 7581, 5/l/^7) 
said that, in his opinion, we cannot by bombing reach the 
critical level of pain in North Vietnam and that, "below 
that- level, pain only increases the will to fight." Sir 
Robert Thompson said to Mr. Vance on April 28 that our 
bombing, particularly in the Red River Delta, "is unifying 
North Vietnam." 

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With respect to interdiction of men and materiel, 
it now appears that no combination of actions against 
the North short of destruction of the regime or occupa- 
tion of North Vietnamese territory will physically reduce 
the flow of men and materiel below the relatively small 
amount needed by enemy forces to continue the war in the 
South. Our effort can and does have severe disruptive 
effects, which Hanoi can and does compensate for by the 
reallocation of manpower and other resources; and our effort 
can and does have sporadic retarding effects, which Hanoi 
can and does plan on and pre-stock against. Our efforts 
physically to cut the flow meaningfully by actions in North 
Vietnam therefore largely fail and, in failing, transmute 
attempted interdiction into pain, or pressure on the North 
(the factor discussed in the paragraph next above). The 
lowest "ceiling on infiltration can probably be achieved 
by concentration on the North Vietnamese "funnel" south of 
20° and on the Trail in Laos . 

But what if the above analyses are wrong? Why not 
escalate the bombing and mine the harbors (and perhaps 
occupy southern North Vietnam) — on the gamble that it 
would constrict the flow, meaningfully limiting enemy 
action in the South, and that it would bend Hanoi? The 
answer is that the costs and risks of the actions must be 

The primary costs of course are US lives: The air 
campaign against heavily defended areas costs us one pilot 
in every k-0 sorties. In addition, an important but hard- 
to-measure cost is domestic and world opinion: There may 
be a limit beyond which many Americans and much of the world 
will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the 
world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 
1000 non-combatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny 
backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits 
are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one. It could con- 
ceivably produce a costly distortion in the American national 
consciousness and in the world image of the United States -- 
especially if the danage to North Vietnam is complete 
enough to be "successful." 

The most important risk, however, is the likely Soviet, 
Chinese and North Vietnamese reaction to intensified US 
air attacks, harbor -mining, and ground actions against North 


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Likely Communist Reactions 

At the present time, no actions -- except air strikes 
and artillery fire necessary to quiet hostile batteries 
across the border -- are allowed against Cambodian terri- 
tory. In Laos j we average 5000 attack sorties a month 
against the infiltration routes and base areas, we fire 
artillery from South Vietnam against targets in Laos, and 
we will be providing 3 -man leaders for each of 20 12-man 
US-Vietnamese Special Forces teams that operate to a 
depth of 20 kilometers into Laos. Against North Vietnam, 
we average 8,000 or more attack sorties a month against 
all worthwhile fixed and L0C targets; we use artillery 
against ground targets across the DMZ; we fire from naval 
vessels at targets ashore and afloat up to 19° 5 and we 
mine their inland waterways, estuaries and coastal waters 
up to 20°. 

Intensified air attacks against the same types of 
targets, we would anticipate, would lead to no great change 
in the policies and reactions of the Communist powers beyond 
the furnishing of some new equipment and manpower. ~ China, 
for example, has not reacted to our striking MEG fields in 
North Vietnam, and we do not expect them to, although there 
are some signs of greater Chinese participation in North 
Vietnamese air defense. 


Mining the harbors would be much more serious. It 
would place Moscow in a particularly galling dilemma as to 
how to preserve the Soviet position and prestige in such a 

*The U.S. Intelligence Board on May 5 said that Hanoi may 
press Moscow for additional equipment and that there is 
a "good chance that under pressure the Soviets would pro- 
vide such weapons as cruise missiles and tactical rockets" 
in addition to a limited number of volunteers or crews for 
aircraft or sophisticated equipment. Moscow, with respect 
to equipment, might provide better surface-to-air missiles, 
better anti-aircraft guns, the YAK-28 aircraft, anti-tank 
missiles 'and artillery, heavier artillery and mortars, 
coastal defense missiles with 25~50 mile ranges and 2200- 
pound warheads, K0MAE guided -missile coastal patrol boats 
with 20-mile surface-to-surface missiles, and some chemical 
Monitions. She might consider sending medium jet bombers 
and fighter bombers to pose a threat to all of South Vietnam 

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disadvantageous place. The Soviets mighty but probably 
would not j force a confrontation in Southeast Asia — 
where even with minesweepers they would be at as great 
a military disadvantage as we were when they blocked the 
corridor to Berlin in 1961, but where their vital interest , 
unlike ours in Berlin (and in Cuba), is not so clearly 
at stake. Moscow in this case should be expected to send 
volunteers, including pilots , to North Vietnam; to provide 
some new and better weapons and equipment; to consider 
some action in Korea, Turkey, Iran, the Middle East or, 
most likely, Berlin, where the Soviets can control the 
degree of crisis better; and to show across-the-board 
hostility toward the US (interrupting any on-going conver- 
sations on ABMs, non-proliferation, etc). China could be 
expected to seize upon the harbor-mining as the opportunity 
to reduce Soviet political influence in Hanoi and to dis- 
credit the USSR if the Soviets took no military action to 
open the ports. Peking might read the harbor-mining as 
indicating that the US was going to apply military pres- 
sure until North Vietnam capitulated, and that this meant 
an eventual invasion. If so, China might decide to inter- 
vene in the war with combat troops and air power, to which 
we would eventually have to respond by bombing Chinese air- 
fields and perhaps other targets as well. Hanoi would 
tighten belts, refuse to talk, and persevere — as it could 
without too much difficulty. North Vietnam would of course 
be fully dependent for supplies on China's will, and Soviet 
influence in Hanoi would therefore be reduced. (Ambassador 
Sullivan feels very strongly that it would be a serious 
mistake, by our actions against the port, to tip Hanoi 
away from Moscow and toward Peking.) 

To US ground actions in North Vietnam, we would expect 
China to respond by entering the war with both ground and 
air forces. The Soviet Union could be expected in these 
circumstances to take all actions listed above under the 
lesser provocations and to generate a serious confrontation 
with the United States at one or more places of her own 

Ground actions in Laos are similarly unwise. LeDuan, 
Hanoi's third- or fourth-ranking leader, has stated the 
truth when he said "the occupation of the Western Highlands 
is a tough job but the attack on central and lower Laos is 
a still tougher one. If a small force is used, the problem 
remains insoluble. The US, may face a series of difficulties 

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in the military, political and logistic fields if a 
larger force goes into operation. In effect, an attack 
on central and lower Laos would mean the opening of 
another front nearer to North Vietnam, and then the 
US troops would have to clash with the North Vietnamese 
main force." In essence, a brigade will beget a division 
and a division a corps, each calling down matching forces 
from North Vietnam into territory to their liking and 
suggesting to Hanoi that they take action in Northern 
Laos to suck us further in. We would simply have a wider 
war, with Souvanna back in Paris, world opinion against 
us, and no solution either to the wider war or to the 
one we already have in Vietnam. 

Those are the likely costs and risks of COURSE A. 
They are, we believe, both unacceptable and unnecessary. 
Ground action in North Vietnam, because of its escalatory 
potential, is clearly unwise despite the open invitation 
and temptation posed by enemy troops operating freely 
back and forth across the DMZ. Yet we believe that, short 
of threatening and perhaps toppling the Hanoi regime 
itself, pressure against the North will, if anything, 
harden Hanoi's unwillingness to talk and her settlement 
terms if she does. China, we believe, will oppose settle- 
ment throughout. We believe that there is a chance that 
the Soviets, at the brink, will exert efforts to bring 
about peace; but we believe also that intensified bombing' 
and harbor -mining, even if coupled with political" pressure 
from Moscow, will neither bring Hanoi to negotiate nor 
affect North Vietnam's terms. 

**• Analysis of Course B 

As of March 18, 1967, the approved US Force Structure 
(Program k) for Southeast Asia provided for 87 maneuver 
battalions, k2 air squadrons, and a total strength of 
468,000 men. Based on current forecasts of enemy strength, 
under COURSE B it should not be necessary to approve now 
for deployment more than 9 of the 2k available maneuver 
battalions and none of the air squadrons --a total of 
approximately 3O5OOO men including appropriate land and 
sea support forces (see Attachment III). 

This approach would be based, first, on General 
Westmoreland's statement that "without ^his requested/ 

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forces, we will not be in danger of being defeated,... 
but progress will be slowed down," and General 
Wheeler's support of that view. General Wheeler 
added, "We won't lose the war, but it will be a longer 
one." It would be based, second, on the fact that no 
one argues that the added forces will probably cause 
the war to end in less than two years. COURSE B 
implies a conviction that neither military defeat nor 
military victory is in the cards, with or without the 
large added deployments, and that the price of the 
large added deployments and the strategy of COURSE A 
will be to expand the war dangerously. COURSE B is 
designed to improve the negotiating environment within 
a limited deployment of US forces by combining continu- 
ous attacks against VC/.WVA main force units with slow 
improvements in pacification (which may follow the new 
constitution, the national reconciliation proclamation, 
our added efforts and the Vietnamese elections this 
fall) and a restrained program of actions against the 
North . 

This alternative would give General Westmoreland 
96 maneuver battalions — an 85 per cent increase in 
combat force over the 52 battalions that he had in 
Vietnam in June of last year, and 22 per cent more 
than the 79 we had there at the beginning of this 
year. According to this report, we have already 
passed the "cross-over point," where the enemy's 
losses exceed his additions; we will soon have in 
Vietnam 200,000 more US troops than there are in 
enemy main force units. We should therefore, without 
added deployments, be able to maintain the military 
initiative, especially if US troops in less-essential 
missions (such as in the Delta and in pacification 


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duty) are considered strategic reserves. 

The strategy of proponents of COURSE B is "based on 
their belief that we are in a military situation that 
cannot be changed materially by expanding our military 
effort, that the politico-pacification situation in 
South Vietnam will improve but not fast, and that (in 
view of all this) Hanoi will not capitulate soon. An 
aspect of the strategy is a "cool" drive to settle the 
war — a deliberate process on three fronts: Large 
unit, politico-pacification, and diplomatic. Its 
approach on the large-unit front is to maintain the 

^General Wheeler has explained where the first 2-l/3 
divisions would go: "One on the DMZ to relieve the 
Marines to work with ARVN on pa.cifi cation; one east of 
Saigon to relieve the 9th Division to deploy to the 
Delta to increase the effectiveness of the three good 
ARVN divisions now there; the brigade to Quang Ngai 
to make there the progress in pacification in the next 
year that we have made in Binh Dinh in the past year." 
Thus the bulk of the first 100,000 men are for pacifica- 
tion and for the Delta. General Westmoreland said 
regarding the Delta, "in the Fourth Corps, there is 
no threat of strategic VC victories and there are 
three good ARVN divisions there." The question arises 
whether US combat troops should be devoted to pacifica- 
tion or to the Delta. Are these not matters for the 
Vietnamese? The Delta may be a test case of the pro- 
posed strategy. It is normally stated that "in order 
to win in Vietnam we must win in the Delta, where the 
people are." This obviously implies that Saigon's 
writ must run throughout the Delta. But two facts 
appear: (l) The Delta is a fairly active VC area, in 
which a moderately high level of Stage II guerrilla 
warfare tactics are pursued; and (2) the VC effort is 
primarily indigenous (that is, the North Vietnamese 
Main Force units play almost no role). If our "success" 
objective is solely to check or offset North Vietnam's 
forceful intervention in the South , wo are in that 
position already in the Delta I Must we go farther and 
do the job for the South Vietnamese? What kind of a 
deal could the contending forces cut in the Delta? 

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initiative that "Program 4-plus" forces will permit, 
to move on with pacification efforts and with the 
national election in September, and to lay the ground- 
work by periodic peace probes, perhaps suggesting secret 
talks associated with limitation of bombing and with a 
view to finding a compromise involving, inter alia, a 
role in the South for members of the VC. 

This alternative would not involve US or Vietnamese 
forces in any numbers in Laos or Cambodia, and definitely 
not in North Vietnam. Since the US Reserves would still 
be untapped, they would still be available for use later 
in Asia, or elsewhere, if it became necessary. 

Bombing Program 

The bombing program that would be a part of this 
strategy is, basically, a program of concentration of 
effort on the infiltration routes near the south of 
North Vietnam. The major infiltration-related targets 
in the Red River basin having been destroyed, such inter- 
diction is now best served by concentration of all effort 
in the southern neck of North Vietnam. All of the sorties 
would be flown in the area, between 17° and 20°. This 
shift, despite possible increases in anti-aircraft capa- 
bility in the area, should reduce the pilot and aircraft 
loss rates by more than 5° per cent. The shift will, if 
anything, be of positive military value to General West- 
moreland while taking some steam out of the popular effort 
in the North. 

The above shift of bombing strategy, now that almost 
all major targets have been struck in the Red River basin, 
can to military advantage be made at any time. It should 
not be done for the sole purpose of getting Hanoi to 
negotiate, although that might be a, bonus effect. To 
maximize the chances of getting that bonus effect, the 
optimum scenario would probably be (l) to inform the 
Soviets quietly that within a few days the shift would 
take place, setting no time limits but making no promises 
not to return to the Red River basin to attack targets 
which later acquire military importance (any deal with 
Hanoi is likely to be midwifed by Moscow); (2) to make 
the shift as predicted, without fanfare; and (3) to 
explain publicly, when the shift had become obvious, 

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that the northern targets had been destroyed, that that 
had been militarily important, and that there would be 
no need to return to the northern areas unless military 
necessity dictated it. The shift should not be huckstered. 
Moscow would almost certainly pass its information on to 
Hanoi, and might urge Hanoi to seize the opportunity to 
de-escalate the war by talks or otherwise. Hanoi, not 
having been asked a question by us and having no ulti- 
matum-like time limit, would be in a better posture to 
answer favorably than has been the case in the past. The 
military side of the shift is sound, however, whether or 
not the diplomatic spill-over is successful. 6/ 

McNaughton concluded his case against force level increases by 
proposing a time-phased "suggested strategy": 

(1) Now ; Not to panic because of a belief that 

. Hanoi must be made to capitulate before the 1968 elections. 
No one's proposal achieves that end. 

(2) Now : Press on energetically with the military, 
pacification and political programs in the South, including 
groundwork for successful elections in September. Drive 
hard to increase the productivity of Vietnamese military 

(3) Now: Issue a NSAM nailing down US policy as 
described herein. Thereafter, publicly, (a) emphasize con- 
sistently that the sole US objective in Vietnam has been 
and is to permit the people of South Vietnam to determine 
their own future, and (b) declare that we have already 
either denied or offset the North Vietnamese intervention 
and that after the September elections in Vietnam we will 
have achieved success. The necessary steps having been 
taken to deny the North the ability to take over South 
Vietnam and an elected government sitting in Saigon, the 
South will be in position, albeit imperfect, to start the 
business of producing a full- spectrum g o vernment in South 
Vietnam . 

(k) June : Concentrate the bombing of North Vietnam 
on physical interdiction of men and materiel. This would 
mean terminating, except where the interdiction objective 
clearly dictates otherwise, all bombing north of 20° and 
improving interdiction as much as possible .in the infil- 
tration "funnel" south of 20° by concentration of sorties 

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and by an all-out effort to improve detection devices, 
denial weapons, and interdiction tactics. 

(5) July; Avoid the explosive Congressional 
debate and US Reserve call-up implicit in the Westmore- 
land troop request. Decide that, unless the military 
situation worsens dramatically, US deployments will be 
limited to Program 4-plus (which, according to General 
Westmoreland, will not put us in danger of being defeated, 
but will mean slow progress in the South). Associated 
with this decision are decisions not to use large numbers 
of US troops in the Delta and not to use large numbers of 
them in grass-roots pacification work. 

(6) September : Move the newly elected Saigon 
government well beyond its National Reconciliation program 
to seek a political settlement with the non- Communist mem- 
bers of the NLF — to explore a ceasefire and to reach an 
accommodation with the non-Communist South Vietnamese who 
are under the VC banner; to accept them a,s members of an 
opposition political party, and, if necessary, to accept 
their individual participation in the national government — 
in sum, a settlement to transform the members of the VC 
from military opponents to political opponents. 

(7) Oc tober : Explain the situation to the 
Canadians, Indians, British, UN and others, as well as 
nations now contributing forces, requesting them to 
contribute border forces to help make the inside-South 
Vietnam accommodation possible, and -- consistent with 

our desire neither to occupy nor to have bases in Vietnam — 
offering to remove later an equivalent number of US forces. 
(This initiative is worth taking despite its slim chance 
of success. )*" 

His closing paragraph repeated his belief that it had to be made 
clear to political and military leaders alike that the troop limit as 
imposed by Course B which he recommended was firm and short of an immi- 
nent military defeat would not be breached. Westmoreland and the JCS 
had to be persuaded that the objective was not to attain "victory" but 
to make progress, albeit slow, without the risks attendant to Course A 
He acknowledged that it would not be easy for the President to stick 
at 550,000 troops in South Vietnam or to limit the bombing program to 
targets south of the 20th parallel, but that it would be possible, and 
that in his estimation the benefits of such a course of action far out' 
weighed the political risks which Course A included. 7/ 

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From the standpoint of ground force strategy, what McNaughton was 
really, it appears, saying was that • we should make a decision to 
basically set our objectives within a time frame geared to South Viet- 
namese Army and South Vietnamese government progress, and that- in doing 
so our own troops in approximately the current strengths could be devoted 
to providing the shield while the government of South Vietnam provided 
the shelter and performed the vital pacification function. As he noted, 
associated in the decision was the very conscious determination not to 
use large numbers of U.S. troops in the delta and not to use large 
numbers of them in what he called "grass roots pacification work," the 
two justifications most frequently used to support requests for addi- 
tional troops. The appraisal, as well as the alternative military 
courses of action and their analyses contained in this document pro- 
vided the catalyst for the subsequent and final decisions on Program 5- 

2. JCSM 286-67, Persistent Pressure Up the ladder- -"Shouldering 
Out" the Parts 

On 20 May the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted JCSM 286-67, entitled 
"Operations Against North Vietnam," a paper primarily concerned with the 
air campaign. It stated that the JCS were seriously concerned at the 
prospective introduction by the USSR into NVN of new weapons including 
improved antiaircraft and surface to air missiles, guided mis.sile patrol 
boats, surface to surface missiles and a variety of artillery and direct 
fire weapons. They felt that such weapons would further improve the 
NVN air and coastal defense systems and provide offensive capabilities 
which would pose additional threats to our forces and installations in 
SEA. Since the Hanoi -Haiphong areas constituted the principal North 
Vietnam logistical base through which these arms passed the JCS recom- 
mended that this complex be neutralized. This was feasible by direct 
attack on the areas but such direct attack would entail increased danger 
of high civilian casualties. Preferable to direct attack the Chiefs 
recommended that the area be interdicted by cutting the land and sea 
lines of communications leading into it. However, for such an inter- 
diction campaign to be effective, all the elements of the import system 
of North Vietnam had to be attacked concurrently on a sustained basis, 
or, in the Chiefs 1 estimation, the weight of the attack would be insuffi- 
cient to reduce imports to a level which would seriously impair the 
overall North Vietnamese war supporting capability. Accordingly, they 
recommended first an attack of Haiphong, conducted first by surgically 
"shouldering out" foreign shipping and then mining the harbor and 
approaches. This concept of "shouldering out" which was to reappear 
many times in subsequent JCS communications was to be executed by a 
series of air attacks commencing on the periphery of the port area and 
gradually moving to the center of the complex. These attacks were designed 
to reduce the functional efficiency of the port and could be expected to 
force the foreign shipping out of the nearby estuaries for off-loading 
by lighterage. Once the foreign vessels cleared port, according to the 
JCS calculation the remaining elements of the port could be taken under 
attack and the harbor mined. While the Haiphong port was being attacked 

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an intensive interdiction campaign would commence against the roads 
and railroads from China. Concurrently, another series of attacks 
would be mounted against the eight major operational airfields. 8/ 
These recommendations met with predictably cool response and on 26 July 
I967 the Deputy Secretary of Defense , in a memorandum to the Chairman 
of the JCS, stated that "a final decision on the proposals contained in 
the memorandum will be rendered in connection with the determination of 
overall future courses of action in Vietnam which should be completed 
in the near future." 9/ 

On the same date, 20 May, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted their 
World-wide Posture Paper. The most significant recommendation in it was 
a proposal that a selective call-up for the Reserves be made so that 
the U.S. could more effectively fulfill world-wide commitments. In it 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the nation must be able to (l) 
send large U.S. forces to any of the several trouble spots, such as 
Korea and Berlin; they also noted that we could not respond fast enough 
with sufficient forces to meet most of these contingencies. They also 
wrote that we must meet CINCPAC's FY 68 force requests, and to do so 
would require an addition of 2-l/3 division forces or the now familiar 
"minimum essential requirements" stated by General Westmoreland in his 
original 18 March request. The Chiefs also believed that we had to 
"regain the Southeast Asia initiative and exploit our military advantage." 
They stated that they believed present air restrictions crippled our 
war effort and that limitations should be reduced on targets as well as 
the rules of engagement, and that more forces, primarily air, evidently, 
should be sent. Moreover, they believed that we should reinforce as 
fast as possible, to prevent the enemy from adjusting to the increases 
in pressure, as he had been able to do thus far. 

Of seven alternate U.S. force postures they reviewed, the JCS 
considered only two to be "adequate." The alternative they endorsed 
provided the following increases to the approved forces: ^--l/3 active 
army divisions; one navy attack carrier; two carrier air-wings; two 
battleships; two gun cruisers; as well as 57O UE Air Force tactical 
fighters, 72 UE Reconnaissance Aircraft and 80 UE C130 T s. They did not 
propose any new permanent additions to the United States Marine Corps. 
In their estimation the proposed force structure would be adequate to 
meet the FY 68 CINCPAC "minimum essential force requirements" for SEA 
without changing current rotation policies. It would also provide 
forces to reir force NATO as well as respond to other major contingencies 
including MACV's tentative FY 19^9 add-on requirement for 2-1/3 divisions 
and 90 tactical fighters. (This was, of course, the "optimum" force 
which the 18 March COMUSMACV request had contained.) The JCS proposed 
to extend terms of service, and to call up Reserves to provide this 
capability quicker. The Reserves they proposed to call would be two 

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Array and one Marine division forces, plus 15 Naval Reserve destroyers 
and two Naval construction battalions. In addition, an unspecified 
number of individual Reservists would be needed along with certain 
types of Reserve equipment and aircraft. The Reserves would be replaced 
by permanent units during FY 69-70. The Marine Reserve Division would 
be deployed to SVN to be replaced after a year by an Army Division, 
while the Marine Reserve Division would then revert to Reserve status. 
In the JCS estimate they stated that we could meet the FY 68 CINCPAC 
requirement by March 1968 if we called Reserves or by September I969 
if we did not. The Chiefs were particularly exercised at the prospect 
of very slow U.S. build-up over time which would continue to permit the 
VC/nVA to react. They commented that: 

The rate at which US power has been applied has per- 
mitted North Vietnamese and Viet Cong reinforcements and 
force posture improvements to keep pace with the graduated 
increases in US military actions. It is fundamental to the 
successful, conduct of warfare that every reasonable measure 
be taken to widen the differential between the capabilities 
of the opposing forces. Target system limitations, rules of 
engagement, and force curtailments have combined to militate 
against widening the gap between the total Free World force 
capability, including South Vietnam, and the capability of 
the 'enemy to generate, deploy, and sustain his forces while 
improving the defense of his homeland. 

a. Successful prosecution of the war in South- 
east Asia requires the maintenance of simultaneous pressure 
against all echelons of the enemy forces. In South Viet- 
nam, this involves extensive ground, air, and naval opera- 
tions against Viet Cong/North Vietnamese main forces and 
major base areas, while continuing revolutionary development 
and aggressive operations against Viet Cong provincial forces 
and guerrillas. In North Vietnam, the effectiveness of LOC 
interdiction cannot be greatly improved without significant 
reduction of the present restrictions on bombing and mining 
operations. Deep-water ports then can be closed or neu- 
tralized, and it will' be worthwhile to intensify the inter- 
diction effort against other LOCs in North Vietnam. Con- 
comitantly, remaining high -value, war -supporting resources 
should be" quickly, but methodically, destroyed. Attacks 
against population centers, per se, would continue to be 
avoided. (See Appendix B for requested changes in oper- 
ating authorities and proposed expansion in air and naval 
operations against North Vietnam.) Limited ground action in 
North Vietnam might also become necessary to destroy forces 
threatening the northern provinces. 10/ 

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As they continued, however/ they fed a fear which was becoming 
predominent in the administration, that increases in forces might 
tempt C0MUSMA.CV and our SEA commanders to expand operations into 
Cambodia and Laos, thereby complicating an already sensitive political 

b. It may ultimately become necessary to conduct 
military operations into Cambodia to deny the Viet Cong/ 
. North Vietnamese Army forces the psychological, military, 
and logistical advantages of this sanctuary. Should the 

• Viet Cong/North Vietnamese forces increase their use of 
the Laos Panhandle, it might become necessary to deploy 
additional forces to Thailand and expand operations further 
to protect South Vietnam. To counter large-scale CHICOM 
overt intervention in northern Laos, it would be necessary 
to establish a strategic defense. Invocation of the SEATO 
Treaty would be indicated. In the event the CHICOMs attack 
Thailand, use of nuclear weapons against LOCs and supply 
bases in southern China might be required. Similarly, 
should the CHICOMs intervene overtly with major combat 

• forces in Vietnam, it might be necessary to establish a 
strategic defense in South Vietnam and use tactical nuclear 
weapons against bases and LOCs in South China. 11 / 

3. The Vance Options — Re -examination of Increases 

On 2k May the JCS submitted to the Secretary of Defense their study 
entitled, "Alternative Courses of Action for Southeast Asia." This 
study was in response to a request made on 26 April by Deputy Secretary 
Vance asking the Joint Chiefs to study in detail the two alternative 
courses of action, outlined in the State paper prepared earlier by 
Acting Secretary of State Katzenbach. 12/ Strangely enough, between 
the time of the 26 April memorandum from Deputy Secretary Vance to the 
Director of the Joint Staff, Course A was altered, changing in the JCS 
paper from 200,000 personnel to approximately 250,000," roughly 125,000 
in FY 68 and another 125,000 in FY 69. In the JCS study this was 
described as the "optimum force outlined in JCSM 218-67 and includes 
a ^--2/3 division force." Course B as it was outlined in the original 
Katzenbach memo confined troop increases to "those than can be generated 
without calling up reserves -- perhaps 9 battalions (10,000) men in 
the next year." 13/ This figure was altered in the JCS study so that 
Course B read:' ""add only forces that can be generated without calling 
up Reserves. This will amount to approximately 70,000 in FY 68 to 
include l-l/3 Army division force equivalents with a limited capability 
in FY 69." Ik/ 

Course A which would necessitate a Reserve call-up and a 12-month 
involuntary extension in terms of service effective 1 Jun 67 was esti- 
mated to cost $12.1 billion through FY 69 9 as compared to $7-7 billion 

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for Course B. The end strength increases for Course A and B were 
602,900 and 276,000 men, respectively. Within South Vietnam the addi- 
tional combat force in terms of battalion months available to C0MUSMACV 
for operations was markedly greater for A than under Course B. The 
JCS calculated that Course A would add 111 battalion/months in FY 68 and 
373 battalion/months in FY 69 for a total of k8k. Course B, on the 
other hand, could add but 39 in FY 68 and ikk in FY 69 for a grand total 
of 183. This added combat power in Course A which was recommended for 
deployment in JCSM 218-67 would, in the JCS estimation, improve chances 
for "progress in the war to a greater extent than the Course B forces. 
The primary advantage offered is that of flexibility. C0MUSMACV would 
have forces available with which to maintain his present momentum as 
well as to expand combat and RD operations throughout the country." 15/ 

If Course A forces were deployed as they desired the JCS noted they 
could be used to conduct operations in the DMZ, and into Laos or Cambodia 
if such operations were desired. Otherwise they could be properly 
employed in South Vietnam such as in the IV CTZ (the Delta). Course A 
would, they predicted, contribute to a hastening of the war's conclusion. 
The smaller Course B force would require the continued in-country deploy- 
ment of additional forces to I Corps Tactical Zone to meet the "formid- 
able enemy threat in that area." According to the Chiefs, this drawdown 
of forces from other areas would inhibit the reaction capability of 
U.S. forces in SVN that even with the increase proposed by Course B 
the US/FW/RVKAF would not be able to sustain the momentum of present 
offensive operations. The picture the memo painted of what would 
happen under the smaller Course B force was bleak: 

(1) If the enemy maintains his current strength and 
force structure trends we cannot expect to attain objec- 
tives much beyond present goals, particularly the objective 
of expanding the areas under GVN control, unless forces 
are diverted from offensive operations. Thus we are con- 
fronted with an undesirable choice of a reduction of 
continued large-scale offensive operations in order to 
secure additional areas for expansion of RD activities or 
.slowing the tempo of offensive operations in order to 
maintain security of areas cleared of the enemy. 

(2) t Should the enemy successfully exploit a vulner- 
able point in our military posture we run the risk of having 
even a modest enemy success publicized as a regression. The 
present situation, with all forces in South Vietnam fully 
committed in their respective areas, would not be greatly 
improved. As a result C0MUSMACV cannot influence effectively 
the course of one operation without disengaging from another. 16/ 


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On the other hand, if Course A was pursued: 

e. The greatly intensified pressures against NVN 
that could be applied by conducting the air and naval 
operations described in Annex D are not dependent on 
Course A or Course B force levels. These military actions 
can be initiated at any time with existing forces. By 
increasing pressure on the enemy's warmaking capability, 
the cumulative effect would complement the effects of 
added deployments in the south. On the other hand, con- 
tinued restraint, further restrictions or cessation of 
the air campaign would provide the enemy with an incentive 
and allow him the means to sustain and increase his sup- 
port of aggression in SVN relatively unmolested. 17/ 

On the bombing, the high military chiefs persisted in their recom- 
mendations contained in JCSM 218-67 asking for a more • effective air/ 
naval campaign against North Vietnam, to include striking (closing) 
principal North Vietnamese ports. The complete recommendations of 
the study included: 

It is concluded that: 

a. The force levels of Course A for FY 68 should 
be deployed as recommended in JCSM-218-67* They are 
required in FY 68 to meet the threat posed in I CTZ, to 
continue the pressures on the VC/NVA in SVN, and .to sus- 
tain the progress of ED. Course B force levels would not 
fulfill this requirement. 

b. Course A force levels would provide the capability 
to deploy additional forces in FY 69 should such action be 

c. Course A provides more flexibility in providing 
the forces in the stipulated time frame for the immediate 
need, a greater capability to accomplish the mission, and 


a better posture for possible contingencies than does 
Course B. 

d. As recommended in JCSM-218-67, & more effective 
air/naval campaign against NVN to include the principal 
NVN ports should be undertaken now with existing forces. 


e. Further restrictions or cessation of air action 
against NVN would tend to prolong the war and could be 
costly to friendly forces. 

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f . Significant measures to improve the RVM.F are 
being taken but only limited improvement can be expected 
within a reasonable time frame. 

g. Efforts to obtain additional allied. forces 
should continue; however, US requirements or capability- 
should not be reduced until the commitments are firm. 

h. Communist reactions to Courses A and B 5 and to 
the increased air and naval campaign would most likely 
fall short of forcing a confrontation with the Soviets 
or Chinese Communists but would involve attempted increased 
material assistance to NVN and increased propaganda against 
the United States. Free World support for the United States 
in each case would not differ materially from the present 
except where the attacks involved Cambodia. 


i. . US public reaction to Course A probably would be 
more favorable than to Course B over the long term. 

j. A settlement of the conflict in shorter time 
at less cost should result from initiating Course A, 
together with a more effective air campaign. 

k. Post -settlement conditions in SEAsia are likely 
to be better under Course A because of the greater level 
of US forces on the scene. 18 / 

A lay-out of the analysis of opposing courses of action as included 
in this document are presented in the following table: 19/ 

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- .< 

Part II 

ASSUMITIONS l For purposes or" this portion of the ar.nJ.y8i*, the following level of military actions outside SVN are assumed: 


1. Impact on progress of war. 

2. Effect on settlement. 

3. Major policy decisions required. 

U. Probable reaction, 
•vj a * Domestic* 

b. WA/Viet Cong. 


■ d. International. 



-^5. Probable effects on BYN attitudes. 


' 6. F.stlmated costs (through Tt 69) in addition to 
epproved FT 68 DOD Budget. 1/ 



"'7« Approximate end strength increase* nbove present 
^J" force levels (Through FY 69). 


a. Expansion of the use of ARC LIGHT forces in Laos and Southern NVT?; b. Closing principal SVN porta 
c. Early destruction of remaining high value targets and intensified interdictions of supply 
movement into SVW by lond/sca/air and from NVN to SVN. 

CO» IRS B ft 

Provide i forces, In FY 68, to control the enemy threat in the vicinity of the DMZ 
hn.1 ntnniltoneuusly to tuointain initiative and momentum in disrupting enemy main 
for>.e unit operations, defeating enemy provincial forces and guerilla forces at the 
margin of Revolutionary Development, and supporting an expanding area of HD effort. 
Provides in FY 69, forces for continuing momentum in further expanded urea of RJ), 
particularly in II and III CTZ, and a two PFE exploitation force to give C0 V '."1!»\CV 
flexibility In destroying enemy main force units and major baca areac and responding to 
eoMt 1 ngency s I tuati on.*-. . 

While this course of action carries no guarantee of early settlement, psychologi- 
cally, the nature of the actions token, should convince the encny of US determination 
to pursue the war to a successful settlement, and militarily should result in rapid 
reduction of enemy controlled and organized effort in SVN. Net effect should force 
enemy to conference table or lead-in to final phase of war in which enemy vill be 

(1) National decision for callup of Reserves and involunatry extension of tents of 

(2) Authorization for acces6 to equipment frcxa: C0NU3 depot assets and programned 
production deliveries; operational project, contingency, and Peserve exponent 
fet.-jcKs; pre-ponltioned equipment in Europe; and non-deploying units. 

(3) Authorization for reopening of CONUS Inactive installations and expansion of 
foe 1 11 ties. 

('») finely provision of funds and authorization of end strength increases. 

In long 


In near term, expected to Increase opposition and intensify polarization, 
term, expected bo coalesce public opinion behind odminstreti ons apparent ■ 
determination .uid resolve to terminate war on acceptable term.-., partlcu]arly if 
diplcuatlc efforts for negotiated settlement continue. 

NVN would defend the targets and seek additional aid. VC/lIVA forces 
in South Vietnam would probably be directed to increase thair 
haras oatent of the waterways in the South. 

Increased force levels shottld cause no significant direct Soviet or CRT COM 
military reaction. Propaganda, and increased material and technical support to h'VN 
expected. Mining of ports and increo/ied air actions expected provoke Soviet diplomatic 
reaction and deterioration in US Soviet relations. Intra?" rvrw/irrproTcd Soviet ve&posul. 

Some adverse reaction generated by callup of reserves and deployment of added forces, 
tempered m certain quarters by realization US would be in better position to meet 
worldwide commitments. No major disruption of international attitudes so long na 
forces used ok discussed Annex g. Increased cries of eccalatlcn and ecoe J/ir.s of 
support due Increased air/naval actions. Cunbaiian at tndu would rjr cerate wo rid - 
wlde pressures against US actions. 

Favorable. Awareness of growing force on their side would be expected 'whet n'-.Tf 
Leaders appetite for "total victory" and might make them reluctant to cooperate 
with US efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement short of defeating VC/KVA. 



Air Force 

Marine Corps 




Air Force 

Marine Corps 


£ 8,650 raiUion 

1,1.00 million 

VCO million 

1,190 million 

$12,Ioo million 

1*65,000 (includes 150,000 Reserves mobilized) 

35,000 (all peserves) 

UG.'iOO (Includes 7,700 AN3 mobilized) 

f ;'»j_500 (All Reserves) 


Requires in-country re-deployment to meet threat to I CTZ thus inhibiting reaction 
capability in other areas. With only Course 3 forces, CCKUSKACV cay not be able to 
nndntain momentum of present offensive operations and to attain objective of expanding 
areas under GVN control. Course 3 will confront CCMUT1MACV with a choice between continued 
large scale offensive operations at expense of securing additional -areas for expansion of 
RD or cloving trapo of offensive operations to nalntain security of areas cleared of enehy. 
Puns riek of ternproaj-y enemy success against vulnerable point in U3/7W posture or in slewing 
of progress of war. Present situation vhsrein all forces In SVN are fully committed to their 
respective geographic areas denies COMUSMACV the means to influence the course of one operati 
without disengaging from another. 

This incremental increase in effort in SVN, in conjunction vith the increased pressures 
against NVN, under favorable circumstances, mry permit progress towards settlement. It ' 
is more likely, however, that the enemy determination will not be unde rained and that, by 
renewed effort, the enemy in the South will continue to be controlled and sustained at a 
sufficient level to unduly prolong the war. 

Except for decision in regard to callup of Reserves and extension of terms, of service, 
decisions remain essentially the 3«Ee but vary in magnitude. However, Cot'.rse 3 entails 

a deliberate decision to pursue the conflict in SEAsLa at a level less than that needed 

to progress steadily toward attainment of US objectives. 

Course B provides little cauae for a near term change to domestic reaction to the vox in SVN 
but lack of marked results over the long term could result in further disenchantment with the 
war in SEAsla and increased pressures for the US to withdraw under leas than acceptable terns 

Same as Course A. 

Some as Course A. 

To appreciable reaction in international, arena as result increased ground forces, 
for Course A for increased air/naval actions and attacks on Cambodia. 

Base as 


























1— *■ 
























<— ^ 

c i 


■ • 






6ra» aa Course A, with less inpact on "total victory" appetite of CVN leaders . 



Air Force 

Marine Corps 


Air Force 
Marine Corps 







276, too 

\J These gross estlmatTcs of costs Include one time costs j such aa equippliig a division, reactivation DB, etc, and annual recurring costs such as pay, 0W>{, etc. for details see Annex A. 









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Part of the mystery as to why the numbers in the JCS analysis 
which we have just discussed differ from those stipulated by Secre- 
tary Vance in his request for an analysis of Courses A and B is 
explained by a 29 May 196? memorandum for the Secretary of Defense 
from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In it, General Wheeler identi- 
fied certain factual corrections and annotations noted by the Joint 
Chiefs which should be entered so as to provide a "common basis of 
factual material. " The corrections, General Wheeler noted , were factual 
only and did not address matters of policy, strategy, judgment, or 
opinion, as expressed in the Draft Presidential Memo of 19 May. He 
went on to comment that as the draft memorandum for the President 
indicated, COMUSMACV message 09101, 18 March 1967? included a "minimum 
essential force" for FY 68 and looking beyond, a probable requirement 
for an "optimum force" through FY 69. These forces totaled 4-2/3 
division or force equivalents and 10 TFS -- 2-1/3 of these division 
force equivalents and 5 of the TFS to be deployed in FY 68 and the 
remainder thereafter. COMUSMACV estimated these forces at about 
200,000. 20 / However, the Chairman continued, "the changed situation 
in South Vietnam including the formation and deployment of Task Force 
OREGON, the addition by CINCPAC of other PAC0M requirements, and 
revised service estimates /had/ caused variation in the total numbers 
for FY 68 and beyond. While exact numbers of the larger forces 
/could not/ then be determined unless detailed troop lists are developed 
the following appeared at this time to reflect more accurately the 
probable personnel strengths, end strength increases and costs required 
to provide COMUSMACV a 4-2/3 DFE/PFS optimum force and the additional 
requirements through FY 69 that have been stated by CINCPAC. 

Additional Forces for SEA 250,000 

Additional Service End Strengths 600,000 

Estimated Additional Costs thru FY 69 

over Approved FY 68 12,000,000 " 21 

General Wheeler concluded that although the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
had not recommended the deployment of COMUSMACV T s optimum force or even 
adoption of Course A as used in the Draft Presidential Memorandum, that 
the corrected figures which he quoted were more nearly representative 
of Course A than those of the DPM. 

On 20 May, Secretary McNamara sent a short memorandum to the 
President replying to his request for comments on Senator Brooke ! s letter 
of 19 May, which proposed integration of the National Liberation Front 
into some kind of via/ble political role in South Vietnam's government 
or in its political life. Although these views coincided very closely 

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to those submitted in the Draft Presidential Memorandum of the day 
earlier, McNamara commented that despite the fact that Brooke's pro- 
posals were almost identical to those which he had suggested he had 
not discussed any part of the paper or any of the ideas with Brooke, 

On the last day of May, the Joint Chiefs of Staff replied to the 
19 May Draft Presidential Memorandum prepared by McNaughton. It was 
a sharply worded and strong reply, expressing strong objections to the 
basic orientation of the paper as well as its specific recommendations 
and objectives. The Chiefs resented the implication of the DPM that 
Course A generally reflected their recommendations. They insisted 
that Course A as outlined in the DPM was an extrapolation of a number 
of proposals which were recommended separately but not in concert or 
ever interpreted as a single course of action as they were in the DPM. 
The JCS categorically denied that the combination force levels, deploy- 
ments, and military actions of Course A accurately reflected the posi- 
tions or recommendations of COMUSMACV, CINCPAC or the Joint Chiefs. 
They stated that the positions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which would 
provide a better basis against which to compare other alternatives 
were already set forth in JCSM 218-67, JCSM 286-67 and JCSM 288-67. 

There were five major areas of concern detailed in the JCSM: objec- 
tives, military strategy in operations, military strategy for air and 
naval war, the domestic attitude and predicted reactions in the inter- 
national attitude and reaction. Reference objectives, the preferred 
course of action in the Draft Presidential Memorandum, Course B, was 
not considered by the military heads to be "consistent with NSAM 288 
or with the explicit public statements of U.S. policy and objectives." 
In the eyes of the Joint Staff: 

The DPM would, in effect, limit US objectives to 
merely guaranteeing the South Vietnamese the right to 
determine their own future on the one hand and offsetting 
the effect of North Vietnam's application of force in 
South Vietnam on the other. The United States would 
remain committed to these two objectives only so long as 
the South Vietnamese continue to help themselves. It is 
•also noted that the DIM contains no statement of mili- 
tary objectives to be achieved and that current US national, 
military, and political objectives are far more comprehensive 
and far-reaching. Thus: 

a. The DH>1 fails to appreciate the full 
implications for the Free World of failure to 
achieve a successful resolution of the conflict 
in Southeast Asia. 

b. Modification of present US objectives, as 
called for in the D5M, would undermine and no longer 

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provide a complete rationale for our presence in 
South Vietnam or much of our effort over the past 
two years. 

c. The positions of the more than 35 nations 
supporting the Government of Vietnam might be 
rendered untenable by such drastic changes in US 
policy. 22/ 

The strategy proposed in the Draft Presidential memorandum which 
the Chiefs characterized as "making do" was not acceptable either: 

Military Strategy and Operations (Other than Air/ 
Naval Operations in the North). The DPM favors Course B 
with inadequate analysis of its implications for conduct 
of the war in Vietnam. The strategy embodied in this 
alternative - largely designed to "make do" with military 
resources currently approved for Southeast Asia - would 
not permit early termination of hostilities on terms 
acceptable to the United States , supporting Free World 
nations 5 and the Government of Vietnam. The force struc- 
ture envisaged provides little capability for initiative 
action and insufficient resources to maintain momentum 
required for expeditious prosecution of the war. Further , 
this approach would result in a significant downgrading 
of the Revolutionary Development Program considered so 
essential to the realization of our goals in Vietnam. It 
would also result in the abandonment of the important delta 
region on the basis of its being primari3.y a problem for the 
Republic of Vietnam to solve without additional external 
assistance. 23 / 

There was little more agreement expressed about the bombing, about 
the domestic attitude or the international attitude: 

Military Strategy for Air/Naval War in the North . 
The DPM stresses a policy which would concentrate air 
operations in the North Vietnamese "funnel" south of 20°. 
The concept of a "funnel" is misleading, since in fact 
the communists are supplying their forces in South Viet- 
nam from all sides, through the demilitarized zone, Laos, 
the coast, Cambodia, and the rivers in the Delta. Accord- 
ing to the DPM, limiting the bombing to south of 20° 
might result in increased negotiation opportunities with 
Hanoi. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that such a 
new self-imposed restraint resulting from this major change 
in strategy would most likely have the opposite effect. 
The relative immunity granted to the LOCs and distribution 
system outside the Panhandle would permit: (a) a rapid 

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recovery from the damage sustained to date; (b) an 
increase in movement capability; (c) a reduced require- 
ment for total supplies in the pipeline; (d) a concen- 
tration of air defenses into the Panhandle; and (e) a 
release of personnel and equipment for increased efforts 
in infiltration of South Vietnam. Also, it would relieve 
the Hanoi leadership from experiencing at first hand the 
pressures of recent air operations which foreign observers 
have reported. Any possible political advantages gained 
by confining our interdiction campaign to the Panhandle 
would be offset decisively by allowing North Vietnam to 
continue an unobstructed importation of war materiel. 
Further, it is believed that such a drastic reduction in 
the scale of air operations against North Vietnam could 
only result in the strengthening of the enemy's resolve 
to continue the war. We doubt the reduction in scope of 
air operations would also be considered by many as a 
weakening of US determination and a North Vietnamese 
victory in the air war over northern North Vietnam. The 
combination of reduced military pressures against North 
Vietnam with stringent limitations of our operations in 
South Vietnam, as suggested in Course B, appears even more 
questionable conceptually. It would most likely strengthen 
the enemy's ultimate hope of victory and lead to a re- 
doubling of -his efforts. (See Part III, Appendix A, for 
additional comments . ) 

Domestic Attitude and Predicted Reactions . The 
DPM presents an assessment of US public attitude and 
assumed reactions to several occurrences. Its orienta- 
tion is toward the risks involved in Course A. The 
difficulty of making accurate judgments in the area of 
public response is acknowledged, and the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff concede that their appraisal is subject to the same 
degree of uncertainty that is inherent in the DPM. Never- 
theless, they are unable to find due cause for the degree 
of pessimism expressed in the DPM. The Joint Chiefs of 
Staff firmly believe that the American people, when well 
informed .about the issues at stake, expect their Govern- 
ment to uphold its commitments. History illustrates that 
they will, in turn, support their Government in its 
necessary actions. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that 
there is no significant sentiment for peace at any price. 
They believe also that despite some predictable debate a 
Reserve callup would be willingly accepted, and there would 

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be no "irresistible" drive from any quarter for unneces- 
sary escalation of the conflict. (See Part IV, Appendix A, 
for additional comments.) 

International Attitude and Predicted Reaction. There 
are several inconsistencies "between the DPM and the published 
intelligence estimates. For example, from these intelligence 
estimates, there is no evidence that Hanoi is prepared to 
shun negotiation, regardless of the pressure brought to 
bear, until after the US elections. Also, it is estimated 
that US prestige will not decline appreciably if prompt 
military action is taken to bring the conflict to an early 
close. In the long term, US prestige would probably rise. 
The effect of signs of US irresolution on allies in Southeast 
Asia and other friendly countries threatened by communist 
insurgency could be most damaging to the credibility of US 
commitments. The DPM contains the view that there is strong 
likelihood of a confrontation between the United States and 
the CHICOMs or the USSR, as a result of intensification of 
air and naval operations against North Vietnam and/or a 
major increase in US forces in South Vietnam. Intelligence 
estimates do not support this contention. (See Part V, 
Appendix A, for additional comments.) 2k/ 

Summarizing, the Chiefs explained that the divergencies between 
the DPM and the stated policies, objectives and concepts were individu- 
ally important and in their eyes, reasons for concern. However, as they 
viewed them collec tively , an "alarming pattern" emerged which suggested 
a major realignment of U.S. objectives and intentions in Southeast Asia. 
The Joint Chiefs stated that they were not aware of any decision to 
retract the policies and objectives which had been affirmed by responsible 
officials many times in recent years (apparently stemming back to NSAM 
288). In their view the DPM lacked adequate foundation for further con- 
sideration. Their conclusions were strong, namely that the DPM "did not 
support current U.S. national policy objectives in Vietnam and should 
not be considered further" and "there is no basis for change in their 
views in the major issues in the DPM," and that "these views were 
adequately stated in recent memorandums and reinforced herein." Imple- 
mentation of Course B in the estimation of the joint body would serve 
to prolong the conflict, reinforce Hanoi 1 s belief in ultimate victory, 
and probably add greatly to the ultimate cost in US lives and treasure. 

The Joint Chiefs recommended that: 


a. The DIM NOT be forwarded to the President. 

b. The US national objective as expressed in NSAM 
288 be maintained, and the national policy and objectives 

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for Vietnam as publicly stated by US officials be reaf- 
firmed . 

c. The military objective, concept, and strategy 
for the conduct of the war in Vietnam as stated in 
JCSM-218-67 be approved by the Secretary of Defense. 25/ 

• The Last Interagency Round of Alternatives 

Certainly the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been correct in detecting 
the basic policy realignment and the crystallization of opposition to 
expansive increases in the war in South Vietnam or in the air war over 
North Vietnam, If they had misread or underestimated anything it was 
in the magnitude and the strength of this opposition as it began to 
crystallize throughout different agencies of the government. As the 
replies to the 19 May DPM from other agencies began to filter in there 
was little doubt remaining that, in fact, the validity of the assump- 
tions in the DPM were not those being called into question, but the 
ones of JCSM 218-67 were under attack. 

Before the other agency views on the DPM were received, however, 
the JCS reported in again with their discussion of air operations 
against North Vietnam. This was in response to a SecDef memo of 20 May 
I967 in which McNamara requested the JCS to examine two alternative 
bombing campaigns — one concentrating the bombing of North Vietnam on 
the lines of communication in the Panhandle Area of Route Packages 1, 
2 and 3> with the concomitant termination of bombing in the remainder 
of North Vietnam; and the other, to terminate the bombing of fixed 
targets not directly associated with L0C T s in Route Sectors 6A and 6B 
and simultaneously expand the armed reconnaissance operations in those 
sectors by authorizing strikes on all LOC's. Furthermore, the second 
program was to be examined under two alternative assumptions, one in 
which strikes against ports and port facilities were precluded, and 
the other, in which every effort was made to deny importation from the 
sea. (This final option was essentially that recommended in JCSM 288-67 
dated 20 May.) To all of this, the JCS concluded that their original 
recommendation on 20 May represented the most effective way to success- 
fully prosecute the air and naval campaign against North Vietnam. The 
Joint Chiefs' position was vigorously stated in their conclusion: 

The analysis provided in the Appendix supports the 
conclusion that the recommendations submitted to you on 
20 May I967 represent the most effective way to prosecute 
successfully the air and naval campaign against North Viet- 
nam. Such a campaign would exert appropriate military 
pressures on North Vietnamese internal resources while 
substantially reducing the importation of the external 
resources that support their war effort and could be 
accomplished at risks and costs no greater than those 

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associated with the most desirable of the suggested alter- 
natives, Alternative II (Ports Closed). Although the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize and appreciate the neces- 
sity for continuing review, they believe that the campaign 
selected and recommended to you, together with expanded 
efforts to increase the destruction and enemy consumption 
of war materiels in South Vietnam would have a far-reaching 
detrimental effect on the North Vietnamese capability to 
support and direct the aggression against South Vietnam. 26/ 

Secretary McNaughton asked Mr. Martin Bailey to look this JCSM 
over to determine if there were any areas of agreement between what 
the JCS proposed on the bombing and what ISA at. the time was proposing. 
Particularly important was the key point on the unlikelihood of meaning- 
ful interdiction. Although the Chiefs did not specifically address this, 
they did state that increased bombing as they had recommended in the 
earlier JCSM on 20 May would bring about "a deterioration in the enemy's 
total environment," leading to curtailment of his overall efforts and 
increased difficulty in his support of the war in the South. The 
Chiefs had objected to the first alternative that concentrated the bomb- 
ing on the southern three route packages because they felt that it would 
not appreciably reduce the flow of men and material to the south; that 
it would permit the enemy increased freedom of action in the north by 
allowing him to increase the density of his air defenses in the pan- 
handle or Route Packages 1, 2 and 3> &n.d finally, because they felt that 
in the long term such a course of action would not appreciably reduce 
U.S. losses. An undesirable side-effect, furthermore, .was that such 
cutting back might indicate to the DRV a weakening of the United States 
resolve to the detriment of our basic goals and objectives in Vietnam. 
Alternative 2 (ports open) was not felt desirable for all of the reasons 
cited in the earlier JCSMs and, in addition, because it would not effec- 
tively degrade the enemy's war-making capability in any way. The "ports 
closed" alternative was desirable, but, in a listing of priorities, the 
JCS listed it behind the JCS course of action previously submitted in 
JCSM 288-67> 20 May 1967, which proposed a wider, concerted attack against 
all logistics facilities -- "the shouldering out" proposal. 2jJ 

The issues then, as they were distilled and presented by the JCS, 
involved first the notion that total pressure was what was required to 
bring about some degradation of the North Vietnamese ability to support - 
the war in the south; that pilot losses would not be appreciably decreased, 
and, finally, that shifting the bombing to the southern Route Packages 
♦would be indicative of U.S. failure in North Vietnam. This JCSM was 
carefully examined by McNaughton and his staff and the major arguments 
as they were presented by the Joint Chiefs were incorporated in the 
revised June 12th Draft Presidential Memorandum on the subject of 
bombing options. 28/ 

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The first detailed feedback from the circulation of the 19 May 
McNaughton Dra^ Presidential Memorandum came from William P. Bundy 
on 2 June when he "wrote an incisive and highly perceptive memorandum 
which argued that the "gut" point in Vietnam was not necessarily the 
military effect of our bombing or the major force increases and all 
the rest , but the effect that they had on the South Vietnamese. He 

If we can get a reasonably solid GVN political struc- 
ture and GVN performance at all levels, favorable trends 
could become really marked over the next 18 months, the 
war will be won for practical purposes at some point, and 
the resulting peace will be secured. On the other hand, 
if we do not get these results from the GVN and the South 
Vietnamese people, no amount of US effort will achieve our 
basic objective in South Viet -Nam — a return to the essential 
provisions of the Geneva Accords of 195** an 3 a reasonably 
stable peace for many years based on these Accords.... 

It follows that perhaps the most critical of all 
factors in assessing our whole strategy— bombing, major 
force increases, and all the rest— lies in the effect they 
have on the South Vietnamese. On the one hand, it is 
obvious that there must be a strong enough US role to 
maintain and increase GVN and popular confidence and 
physical security; although the point is not covered in 
the CIA papers, it surely is the fact that in early I965 
. virtually all South Vietnamese believed they were headed 
'for defeat, whereas the general assumption today is strongly 
in the opposite direction, that with massive US help the 
country has a present chance to learn to run itself and 
a future expulsion of the North Vietnamese will take place 
although not perhaps for a long time. We have got to main- 
tain and fortify this underlying confidence and sense that 
it is worthwhile to get ahead and run the country properly. 

On the other hand, many observers are already reporting, 
and South Vietnamese performance appears to confirm, that 
the massive US intervention has in fact had a significant 
adverse effect in that South Vietnamese tend to think that 
Uncle Sam will do their job for them. This point was not 
included in the levy on CIA, and it may be that we need 
a judgment from the Agency, recognizing that it will be 
"broad brush" at best. The tentative judgment stated 
above. need not be considered a shocking one; in our calcu- 
lations of two years ago, we anticipated the possibility. 

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But todays in facing decisions whether to make a 
further m^.jor increase in the US performance and whether 
to maintain at a high level that portion of the war that 
is really wholly US--bombing--we must at least ask our- 
selves whether we are not at or beyond another kind of 
"cross-over point", where we are putting in an undue pro- 
portion of US effort in relation to the essential fact 
that in the last analysis the South Vietnamese have got 
to do the job themselves. By "do the job themselves" we 
mean concretely a much more effective South Vietnamese 
role in security, pacification, and solid government while 
the war is going on. But we mean also the progressive 
development of a South Viet -Nam that can stand on its 
own feet whenever North Viet-Narn calls it off, and can nail 
down at that point what could otherwise be a temporary and 
illusory "victory" which, if it unraveled, would make our 
whole effort look ridiculous, undermine the gains in confi- 
dence that have been achieved in Southeast Asia and else- 
where, and have the most disastrous effects on our own 
American resolve to bear burdens in Asia and indeed through- 
out the world. 29/ 

Turning to the specific question of the 200,000 man force increase 
Bundy argued that the gains from such a major force increase were increas 
ingly marginal while the effect on the South Vietnamese, a very much more 
important factor and one which went to the heart of the conflict itself 
and our ability to achieve a lasting peace, may not be so marginal: 

Obviously, the assessment of the effect of our actions 
on the South Vietnamese is an extremely difficult one. It 
may be that the "cross -over point" was reached in late 1965* 
when it became clear that we were conducting a massive inter- 
vention; perhaps any further change from additional forces, 
on any scale, is at most one of slight degree. Certainly 
we have all felt that our force increases up to their present 
strength were absolutely required in order to bring about a 
condition even more essential than maintaining South Viet- 
namese performance --the blunting and reversing of the North 
Vietnamese effort that, in 19&5; was a t >cu "t to take over the 
country. But the question now presents itself in a new form, 
when 200,0'00 more men do not make the difference between 
victory and defeat, but at most the difference between vic- 
tory in three years and victory in 5? on what is necessarily 
a calculation assuming both South Vietnamese and North Viet- 
namese performance and morale as relative constants. And, 
on the other side of the coin, we have reached a point where 
the South Vietnamese have managed in part to pull themselves 
together and must learn to do so more. Hence, the gains from 

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major force increases are now more marginal, while the 
effect on the South Vietnamese must be rated a very much 
more important factor and one which goes to the heart of 
the conflict itself and of our ability to achieve a lasting 
peace. 30/ 

On the basic objectives, Bundy disagreed with the Chiefs and 
expressed general agreement with what the McNaughton dra:ft had stated. 
He believed that the minimum statement which we could make reference 
our objective in Vietnam was certainly "to see that the people of 
South Vietnam are permitted to determine their own future." But he 
felt it much too pat to say that "this commitment ceases if the country 
ceases to help itself , " or even to observe that there are not further 
elements in our commitment. He believed additional commitments related 
not only to get-ting North Vietnamese forces off the backs of the South 
Vietnamese but to making sure that the political board, as he called it, 
in South Vietnam was not tilted to the advantage of the NLF. 3l/ 

In his summary, he addressed this question of our commitment again, 
and then expanded upon what he called the hard core question, that is, 
what to do if "the country ^Vietnam/ ceases to help itself." Using the 
teeter-totter analogy, he commented that our commitment must be to see 
that the people of South Vietnam were permitted to determine their own 
future and to see that the "political board" was level and not tilted 
in favor of elements that believed in force. He also believed that we 
should at least hold open the possibility that a future South Vietnamese 
government would need continuing military and security, assistance and 
should be entitled to get it. He agreed with the Joint Chiefs analysis 
of the DOD draft and their contention that it displayed a negative turn 
to our strategy and to our commitment in Vietnam: 

In terms of our course of action, the major implication — 
as compared with the DOD draft— is that we will not take our 
forces out until the political board is level. The implica- 
tion of the DOD draft is that we could afford to go home the 
moment the North Vietnamese regulars went home. This is not 
what we said at Manila, and the argument here is that we should 
not in any way modify the Manila position. Nor should we be 
any more hospitable than the South Vietnamese to coalitions 
with the NLF, and we should stoutly resist the imposition of 
such coalitions. 32/ 

On the second question, of what would happen if the Vietnamese could 
not help themselves or refused to help themselves Bundy argued for more 
time to take a closer look at the Vietnamese situation, especially the 
elections, before getting into a negative frame of mind about our Viet- 
namese military/political/economic commitment. In arguing this position 
J he broadened the perspective embraced by the question and addressed the 

entire range of U.S. interests in Asia: 

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©lis is a tough question. What dc we do if there is 
a military coup this summer and the elections are aborted? 
There would then be tremendous pressure at home and in 
Europe to the effect that this negated what we were fighting 
for, and that we should pull out. 

But against such pressure we must reckon that the 
stakes in Asia will remain. After all, the military rule, 
even in peacetime, in Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma. Are 
we to walk away from the South Vietnamese, as least as a 
matter of principle, simply because they failed in what was 
always conceded to be a courageous and extremely difficult 
effort to become a true democracy during a guerrilla war. 

We should not decide this lightly if the case arises, 
and above all we should not get into a negative frame of 
mind suggested by the DOD draft until we see what the situ- 
ation actually looks like. As in Latin American cases, a 
great deal would depend on how the military ruled, and 
whether they made some pledge of returning to the Constitu- 
tion and holding elections in the not-distant future. And 
a great deal would depend on whether the military coup 
appeared in any sense justified by extremist civilian 
actions from any quarter. At any rate, let us not look 
at this contingency — or any like it— in quite the negative 
way that the DOD draft suggests. For the effects in Asia may 
not be significantly reduced if we walk away from Viet-Nam 
even under what we ourselves and many others saw as a gross 
failure by the South Vietnamese to use the opportunity that 
we had given them. 33 / 

If the ISA group proposing a stabilized ground strategy took heart 
with the Bundy memorandum, it was positively elated when the reply came 
from Under Secretary of State Nicholas deB Katzenbach. gjy 

.Katzenbach quote skillfully outlined the outstanding disagreements 
included in the draft Presidential memorandum. First, Westmoreland and 
McNamara disagreed on whether Course A, the infusion of 200,000 troops 
would end the war sooner. Under Secretary Vance and the CIA disagreed 
on the ability of North Vietnam to meet the force increases in the South 
although, as Katzenbach later noted in his paper, the CIA figures were 
somewhat outdated and the analysis was not "good." He listed a Wheeler- 
Vance disagreement on the military effectiveness of cutting back bombing 
to below the 20th parallel and on whether it would save U.S. casualties. 
(The Wheeler label on this disagreement is not completely accurate since 
JCSM 288-67 and the later JCSM 312-67, the bases for this disagreement, 

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were less the product of Wheeler , as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs , 
than of the corporate body itself. As Chairman's Memoranda indicate, 
Wheeler had a much "softer" line on the military effectiveness of the 
bombing.) The CIA and Vance were seen as at odds because the CIA believed 
that the Chinese might not intervene if an invasion of North Vietnam 
did not seem to threaten Hanoi, while Vance stated that an invasion (of 
any kind) would cause Chinese intervention.. Vance believed that the 
Chinese would decide to intervene if the ports were mined. CIA reports 
at the time did not mention this possibility. There was basic disagree- 
ment, as to whether or not we had achieved the "cross-over point" and 
more broadly how well the "big war" was going. One optimistic CIA 
analysis which Bundy quoted contradicted a later CIA statement expressing 
the view that the enemy ! s strategic position had improved over the past 
year. State T s INR also disagreed with CIA on Hanoi's basic objectives, 
with CIA arguing that Hanoi was determined to wear us down or in the 
vernacular of the time "wait us out," while INR felt that Hanoi was 
really determined to seek more positive victories in the South. The INR 
also believed that the bombing was having a greater effect than did the 
CIA. CIA and Vance, of course, had been saying for some time that all of 
the worthwhile targets in North Vietnam except the ports had been struck, 
while as we have seen y the JCS disagreed with this assessment. There 
was some allusion to the dispute over whether or not inflationary pres- 
sures would be aggravated by the increase in U.S. forces under Course A. 
DOD said that these pressures were under control and could be handled if 
Course A were adopted, while the CIA felt otherwise. (Comment: This 
leads to the suspicion that the piaster limitation might not have been 
as critical as was originally believed and possibly was just an instru- 
ment of a sophisticated rationalization for limiting force increases in 
the earlier programs.) Katzenbach also cited a basic disagreement about 
just what message an increase of U.S. forces or a massive call-up of 
Reserves would communicate to Hanoi. 

The general goals which the Undersecretary predicated in Vietnam 
and upon which he based the analysis which followed were: first, to 
withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam; we would only do so with the high 
degree of confidence that three things were accomplished -- (l) that 
we would be behind a stable democratic government (democratic by Asian 
standards); (2) that we would confront the prospect of a reasonably stable 
peace in Southeast Asia for several years; and (3) that we will have 
demonstrated that we met our commitments to the government of Vietnam. 
To do these, we had to persuade the North Vietnamese to give up their 
aggression and we had to neutralize the internal Viet Cong threat while 
in the process being careful not to create an American satellite nor to 
generate widespread anti-American sentiment nor destroy the social 
fabric of South Vietnam, nor incur disproportionate losses in our rela- 
tions with other countries or bring in so called "enemy" countries. 

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His overall prognosis for the war was not optimistic. He believed 
that during the course of the next 18 months , the probability of achieving 
our goals was quite low. In two or three years, it was possibly higher 
depending again on what we did during the intervening period. He entered 
a caveat, however, stating that because of our uncertain knowledge of 
the motivation and intentions of both the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 
and the VC in the South, that we may be closer to achieving our goals 
than we thought. Moreover, the Soviet Union and Communist China would 
influence the course of events in ways not easily predictable over the 
next three years. 

He assessed the battle in South Vietnam as "the key" and reviewed 
the "big war" of attrition as one in which a flood of contradictory 
indicators made it much more difficult to appraise. Enemy losses were 
up 70% in the first quarter of 1967? but so were U.S. losses up 30°j . 
North Vietnamese/vC intentions were also doubtful but they appeared to 
be set on an intensive grinding position-warfare campaign in the northern 
provinces coordinated with offensive thrusts in the central coastal 
provinces and the Western Highlands. All of these then possibly combined 
with major actions against cities, provincial capitals in the III Corps 
area. The overall object of such a strategy evidently being to inflict 
maximum losses on the US/GVN in an effort to break our will. (Here he 
noted that INR believed that the VC/NVA had a more positive approach and 
were looking for real victories. 

Pacification efforts came in for little praise. There was little 
real progress reported and the short term prospects were not bright. 
However, the long term prospects appeared better if ARVN could be more 
effectively involved. However, it appeared that GVN and ARVN were going 
to continue moving slowly, corruption was becoming more widespread and 
the population was increasingly apathetic. Katzenbach said he could not 
determine whether this was due to growing ant i -Americanism or war-weariness 
or what. He concluded that if we were winning the war, we were not win- 
ning it very quickly — it had become a question of the will to persist 
on either side rather than the attainment of an overwhelming military 

With this assessment as background he then analyzed the two courses 
of action. In his estimation, Course A, which added a 200^000 U.S. troop 
increment and necessitated a call-up of Reserves possessed the following 
advantages: It could hasten the end of the war by hurting the enemy 
more. It could dispel Hanoi's notions about weakening U.S. resolve. It 
could provide more U„S. troops to be used for main force sweeps and might 
release U.S. units to help provide security for pacification. It might 
persuade the Russians to counsel Hanoi to accept some kind of negotiations 
rather. than risk a much expanded war, possibly in North Vietnam. Katzenbach 
listed a score of disadvantages for this course of action: 

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b . Disadvantages : 

1. Introduction of these forces could lead to 
counter -moves by Hanoi, with result we have 
simply expanded the present war. (Need paper 
with better analysis of whether Hanoi could 
add troops.) Our position is one of meeting 
infiltration, not stimulating it. Even its 
proponents do not argue it could end the war 
in less than two years. 

2. It might well be viewed by Hanoi as another 
sign of US impatience and unwillingness to 
persist. Hanoi might also see a call-up of 
reserves as a sign that we are running out 
of manpower. 

3. Congressional and public debate on the 
reserve call-up would be divisive and give 
comfort to Hanoi. 

4. It could mean a total eventual addition of 
500,000 men; some limitation on our ability 
to act elsewhere in the world; and a cost 
of approximately $10 billion in FY ! 68. 

5. It could lead to irresistible pressures for 
ground actions against sanctuaries in Cambodia 
and Laos, and increased actions against NVN. 
Problems involved in such moves -- NVN and even 
Chinese reactions. International disapproval. 
Problems with Souvanna. 

6. Effect on US flexibility and, inevitably, US 
goals in Viet -Nam. 

7« It could produce, to some extent, a growth 
in the South Vietnamese attitude of "let the 
US do it." 

8. More troops probably mean growth of anti- 
Americanism. (Although we don't really know 
how strong it is now.) 

9. Inflationary effects in South Viet -Nam. 

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10. Adverse international reaction to escala- 
tion and to what would appear to "be signifi- 
cant US move towards a friendly occupation 
of the country. 35/ 

Compared to this course the option of maintaining current force 
levels possessed the twin advantages of avoiding all of those which we 
just listed, plus it could improve the negotiating environment if some 
progress were made without an expansion of forces. The disadvantages 
of this course were also twofold: Hanoi could be encouraged by forces 
levelling off and the possible bad effect on morale of U.S. and allied 

To these original two options Katzenbach added what he called 
two middle strategies. Each one of these would incur some of the 
advantages and disadvantages of the two which we just listed above, but 
to obvious lesser greater degrees. The first "middle"- strategy was to 
add 3O5OOO troops. This would not necessitate a Reserve call-up. The 
second was to add enough U.S. forces to "operate effectively against 
provincial main force units and to reinforce I Corps and the DMZ area." 36, 
This he estimated would include a Reserve call-up. 

The overall recommendation he made in this regard was, first, in 
the South, to emphasize the war of attrition and to do this by adding 
30,000 troops. The complete set of recommendations which followed read: 


Add 30? 000 more troops, in small increments, 
over the next 18 months. This would show Hanoi 
and our own forces that we are not levelling 
off, and yet we would not appear impatient or 
run into the risks and dangers which attend 
force increases. Continue to try to get as 
many more third country forces as possible. 

b.. Make a major effort to get the South Vietnamese 
more fully involved and effective. A crucial 
question. (Separate paper with recommendations — 
advisers, joint command, threats, etc.) Tell the 
GVN early in 1968 that we plan to start with- 
drawing troops at the end of 1968, or earlier if 
possible, in view of progress in the "big war". 
Pacification will be up to them. 


c. Use the great bulk of US forces for search and 
destroy rather than pacification — thus playing 
for a break in morale. Emphasize combat units 
rather than engineers. Leave all but the upper 
Delta to the Vietnamese. 

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d. Use a small number of US troops with South 
Vietnamese forces in pacification, targetted 
primarily on enemy provincial main force units. 
Recognize that pacification is not the ultimate 
answer— we have neither the time nor the manpower. 
In any event, only the Vietnamese can make mean- 
ingful pacification progress. The GVN should 
therefore hold what it has and expand where possible. 
Any progress will (l) discourage the enemy and 

(2) deprive him of manpower. 

e. We should stimulate a greater refugee flow through 
psychological inducements to further decrease the 
enemy T s manpower base. Improve our ability to 
handle the flow and win the refugees 1 loyalty. 

f . Devote more attention to attacking the enemy 
infrastructure. Consider giving MA.CV primary 
responsibility for US efforts in this regard. 

g. Use all the political pressure we have to keep 
the GVN clean in its running of the elections. 
Press for some form of international observation. 
Play down the elections until they are held, 
then exploit them and their winner (probably Ky) 
in the international and domestic press. 

h. After the elections, but prior to the Christmas - 
Tet period, press hard for the GVN to open 
negotiations with the NLF and for a meaningful 
National Reconciliation program. 

2. In the North—the object is to cut the North off from 
the South as much as possible, and to shake Hanoi from its 
obdurate position. Concentrate on shaking enemy morale in 
both the South and North by limiting Hanoi T s ability to 
support the forces in South Viet -Nam. 

a. A barrier, if it will work. ... or 

• b. 'Concentrate bombing ori lines of communication 

throughout NVN, thus specifically concentrating 
on infiltration but not running into the problems 
we have had and will have with bombing oriented 
towards "strategic" targets in the Hanoi/Haiphong 
area. By continuing to bomb throughout NVN in 
this manner we would indicate neither a lessening 
of will nor undue impatience. 37/ 


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This re commendation 5 essentially in line with that of McNaughton 
and his staff in ISA, was to provide powerful ammunition for the group 
pressing for a halt to the force increases and some stabilization of 
the bombing in North Vietnam, 

On 8 June, McNaughton dealt once again with the dispute between 
the JCS and ISA over whether or not Course A as written into the DPM 
did or did not, in fact, reflect the recommendations of the JCS. Colonel 
Amos Wright of the Joint Staff had been queried by ISA as to why the 
JCS had objected to the wording in the DPM which asserted that Course A 
(or the addition of the 200,000 men) reflected JCS recommendations. The 
basis of the JCS objection, according to Colonel Wright, was first that 
the JCS had not yet actually recommended that COMUSMACV and CINCPAC be 
given the additional 100,000 men they requested for FY 69 and that the 
DPM discussed, in connection with Course A, various "extreme actions" 
especially ground actions that the JCS had not actually recommended. 

ISA concluded, after this, that although the courses of action 
included under Course A had not actually been recommended as a complete 
package by the JCS. The DPM did not, or need not, say this. The Chiefs 
had discussed these courses of action as ones that "might be required" 
and had done so in close conjunction with increased force levels and 
escalated attacks on Worth Vietnam that they had recommended. Under 
these circumstances ISA felt justified to argue in the DPM that Course A 
should be rejected because it could quite probably lead to the "extreme" 
course of action flagged by the JCS even though the Chiefs had not actu- 
ally recommended them. 38/ 

On 12 June, McNaughton submitted a draft memorandum for the Presi- 
dent entitled "Alternative Military Actions Against North Vietnam" in 
which he incorporated the views of State, CIA and the JCS. He analyzed 
three major alternatives: Alternative A - the JCS proposal to expand 
the present program to include mining of the ports and attacks on roads 
and bridges closer to Hanoi and Haiphong; Alternative B - which would 
continue the present level of attacks but generally restricted to the 
neck of North Vietnam south of 20 degrees; and Alternative C - a refine- 
ment of the then currently approved program. In the memorandum, 
McNaughton (and later Vance) opposed the JCS program (Alternative A) on 
grounds that it would neither substantially reduce the flow of men and 
supplies to the South nor pressure Hanoi toward settlement; that it would 
be costly in American lives and in domestic and world opinion, and that 
it would run serious risks of enlarging the war into one with the Soviet 
Union or China, leaving the United States a few months from now more 
frustrated and with almost no choice but even further escalation. Refine- 
ment of the present program (Alternative C) was also opposed on grounds 
that it would involve most of the costs and some of the risks of Alter- 
native A with less chance than Alternative A of interdicting supplies or 
moving Hanoi toward settlement. Finally, McNaughton recommended concen- 
tration of the bulk of the bombing efforts on infiltration routes south 
of the 20th parallel (Alternative B) because this course would, in his 

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words "interdict supplies as effectively as the other alternatives , 
would cost the least in pilot f s lives and would be consistent with 
effort to move toward negotiations." 

Implicit in the recommendations submitted by Vance and McNaughton 
on 12 June was the conviction that nothing short of toppling the Hanoi 
regime would pressure North Vietnam to settle so long as they believed 
they had a chance to win the "war of attrition" in the South. They 
judged that actions great enough to topple the Hanoi regime would put 
the United States into a war with the Soviet Union and/or China. Further- 
more a shift to Alternative B could probably be timed and handled in such 
a way as to gain politically while not endangering the morale of our 
fighting men. In their recommendations, Vance and McNaughton were in 
agreement with Mr. Nitze, Mr. Brown and Mr. Helms in that none recommended 
Alternative A. Mr. Nitze, Secretary of the Navy at the time, joined 
with Vance and McNaughton in recommending B; Dr. Brown, Secretary of the 
Air Force preferred C; while the Director of the Central Intelligence 
Agency, Mr. Helms did not make a specific recommendation but stated that 
the CIA believed that none of the alternatives was capable of decreasing 
Hanoi's determination to persist in the war or of reducing the flow of 
goods sufficiently to effect the war in the South, ko / 

The 12 June Draft Presidential Memorandum only momentarily diverted 
attention from the question of the ground force increases which it so 
skillfully skirted. However, it achieved one important purpose. It 
had crystallized opinion and also marshalled an impressive array of 
opposition against any significant expansion of the bombing for the time 
being, and reflected a surprising turn toward objectives much different 
than those originally stated in NSAM 288, anachronisms pursued in virtual 
isolation by the Chiefs. 

Another argument against significant increases of forces in South- 
east Asia came from the financial side of the Department of Defense. 
Balance of payment expenditures associated with the then current level 
of Southeast Asia hostilities was running about $1.35 billion per year 
above calendar year 1964 levels. If the effect of increased deployments 
were proportional, then a 2^f increase in deployment would mean approxi- 
mately $350 million dollars annual increase. However, as a later memoran- 
dum pointed out, the actual effect was not necessarily proportional. On 
the one hand there were two forces that would cause the increase to be 
greater than proportional, such as the increased demand leading to an 
increase in the prices of foreign products and, as demonstrated earlier 
,in I966, increased DOD expenditures had an effect on the domestic economy 
that tended to hurt the trade balance in that it caused inflation. On 
the other hand, and partially offsetting these two forces in the upward 
direction, there was some fraction of DOD gross IBP expenditures returned 
to the U.S. via increased exports to the benefitting nations. But this 
feedback was conservatively estimated at not more than 25^. Whatever the 

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effect might be 5 more or less than $350 million, it was agreed that 
it would' certainly "be substantial and that this should be a major 
consideration before recommending large force increases or larger 
programs in Southeast Asia, kl/ 

Meanwhile, in the Department of Defense there was increasing 
emphasis upon exploration of the increased use of South Vietnamese 
civilians for U.S. troop support. This was partially in follow-up 
to the directive from the SecDef to the JCS on 23 May of 1967 which asked 
them to review their combat service support and headquarters staffing to 
determine whether all units were required in light of the sharply 
improved logistics posture and support provided from other sources. As 
part of the overall program of improving the U.S. "tooth to tail" ratio, 
the JCS were asked to determine which of the resulting "hard core logis- 
tical requirements" could be met by increased use of South Vietnamese 
civilians for U.S. troop support. A preliminary review by Systems 
Analysis had indicated a potential for saving approximately 20-25,000 
troop spaces. k2 / These, in turn, could be reallocated to increase 
combat force requirements recommended by the JCS or alternatively used to 
reduce the U.S. burden in Vietnam. The deadline given the JCS for sub- 
mitting their study was 1 August but as the press for decisions on 
increased forces became greater McNamara went back to the JCS and asked 
for both studies before his planned trip to South Vietnam at the end of 
July, k-3 / In detailed conversations over force increases with both 
C0MUSMA.CV and CINCPAC McNamara asked: 

Can we not make wider use of Vietnamese to reduce the 
number of U.S C military personnel performing support func- 
tions in SVN? This action would free U.S. men for combat 
duties and train Vietnamese in skills they will need to help 
build their nation. I believe it would be wise to expand 
the analysis I requested on May 23, 19&7 (Combat Service 
Support Staffing in SVN) to include an analysis of each 
essential combat service support function to determine the 
extent it can be performed by SVN civilian personnel. The 
•unit -by-unit, function -by- function review of support 
should be performed first; then, the essential require- 
ments should be evaluated to see which can be met by 
appropriately trained and supervised SVN civilians. The 
studies ^orwarded to me should separately show the line 
items and number of support personnel no longer required 
and the number for whom Vietnamese can be substituted. 

While organic U.S. military combat service support 
capability is obviously required in an active combat 
theater, the requirements in the permanent logistic enclaves, 
such as Saigon or DaNang, should be less than at forward 
locations, such an An Khe or Dong Ha. Further, some U.S. 

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military personnel are needed for such contingencies as 
strikes , but the requirements should vary with the degree 
of criticality of the functions involved. For example , 
I understand that MACV's policy is to maintain at least 
50$, U.S. manning at each deep draft port. Why 50^ and not 
kQPJo or 60%? Must this rule be followed for all types of 
port personnel? USARV's use of Pacific Architects and 
Engineers contract civilians for most of the repair and 
utility work at 67 SVN locations suggests that neither 
forward operations nor contingencies are adequate reasons 
for using as many military personnel for support as we are 

I also doubt we have adequately explored the use of 
"Type B rT units which are a mix of military cadres and civilian 
workers. A preliminary review indicates that there are 
over 72,000 U.S. Army personnel in units which have alter- 
native "Type B" TO&E's. Converting these units to "Type B" 
would cut military personnel in support roles by over 25,000 
men: this might provide another combat division, kk/ 

5* The McNamara Visit to Saigon 

As the Pentagon feverishly prepared the background briefings for 
Secretary McNamara's forthcoming trip to Vietnam an article discussing 
the problem of mobilization and force levels in Vietnam broke in the 
Washington Daily News . It touched a nerve around the Pentagon generating 
a flurry of correspondence and studies. The article by Jim Lucas, 
entitled "Partial Mobilization?" with dateline Saigon, observed that 
the manpower squeeze was on in Vietnam. The United States had ^72,000 
men in Vietnam according to General William C. Westmoreland, who Lucas, 
quoted as having asked Washington for 200-250,000 more, bringing the 
total to about 700,000. Lucas concluded on the basis of this remarkably 
accurate estimate that such a total could not be achieved without some 
sort of mobilization — at least a partial Reserve call. He wrote that * 
it was equally obvious that the White House did not want any sort of 
mobilization if it could be avoided before the elections upcoming next 
year. Most Americans in Saigon, he noted, realized this, but they 
weren't happy about it. He quoted a helicopter pilot as saying, "A lot 
of us are going to die before then." The military officers that he had 
interviewed were especially loathe to discuss manpower with anything 
approaching candor. "I'll be damned if I'm going to tell Charlie how 
much he has hurt us," one exploded. Lucas a.lso questioned the credi- 
bility of military reports and estimates emanating from the White House. 
He saw clear indications that some records were being camouflaged if not 
falsified to hide the facts. Many commanders, among them a Marine air 
group commander, said their reports on personnel and materiel were 
being consistently upgraded in DaNang and Honolulu before going to 
Washington. The article wound up on an equally sour note pointing out 
the various personnel deficiencies by rank and by skills which existed 

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within both the Army and the Marine Corps in Vietnam. It noted that 
the Army was short of buck sergeants everywhere, rifle companies were 
extremely short of non-commissioned officers, Marine Corps squads and 
platoons were operating below acceptable manpower levels, and hundreds 
of Marine enlisted men with infantry training were being jerked out of 
other jobs and sent to combat units to replace men in battle. k^J 

Lucas had come remarkably close to the truth and as a consequence 
the replies which were requested from the various service secretaries 
tended to focus upon the more detailed criticisms of manpower levels 
in different units in Vietnam, on military occupation specialty shortages, 
etc. None of the internally generated replies really grappled with 
the basic issue of whether or not the mobilization level was in fact 
dictating force levels and requirements in Vietnam. 

The 3 July edition of the New York Times featured another article 
this time by Neil Sheehan, entitled "The Joint Chiefs Back Troop Rise 
Asked by Westmoreland" in which he noted that 70,000 additional men 
were needed to retain the U.S. initiative in the ground war. In this 
article, again very perceptive and accurate, a large amount of detailed 
information, supposedly classified, surfaced. The writer quoted the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff as having warned the Johnson Administration that 
if General William C. Westmoreland's minimum request for 70,000 more 
troops was not met the United States would run "a high risk of losing 
the initiative in the ground war in South Vietnam." kf / Sheehan noted 
that the recommendation was submitted to Mr. McNamara on April 20 
according to his sources and the administration had taken no action on 
it. This was, of course, JCSM 218-67. Sheehan believed the inaction 
on the C0MUSMACV request was because the administration could not grant 
the increase without a partial mobilization of Reserves and significant 
rise in war costs--an estimate that was remarkably close to the truth. 
In the article Sheehan also revealed discussions about two alternatives, 
or what he called two levels of requirements, both of which he correctly 
identified as the "optimum" and the "minimum essential." He was a bit 
short of the level of the optimum quoting it as only 5 divisions or 
about 150,000 men. According to Sheehan 1 s sources, Westmoreland had not 
supported his request for the "optimum" with the detailed arguments, 
apparently believing that he had little hope of obtaining it. But, the 
general had argued strongly for his minimum requirement of two more 
divisions with supporting units, about 70,000 men, warning that he needed 
these troops to retain the initiative in South Vietnam. On the l+th of 
# July, Secretary McNamara , sent a note 'to Mr. Phil Goulding, Public Affairs, 
asking him to follow up with Secretary of the Army Resor for replies to 
the charges made in the Sheehan article. On 5 July, Secretary Resor 
replied that in view of the low fill levels for officers in the Seventh 
Army, which reflected upon the overall Army readiness and which tended 
to substantiate some of the charges Sheehan had made about the problem 

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of drawing down Army forces all over the world to supply Vietnam, 
he believed DCD should not attempt to answer Sheehan in the public 
press , and the matter rested there. 

To prepare the SecDef for his trip and to help him get at what 
were considered to be the "gut" questions to be asked on his field 
trips, especially reference pacification, Assistant Secretary of Defense 
Enthoven sent him a study entitled "Holbrooke/Burnham Study on Vietnam." 
Enthoven cited this study as a perfect example of why the U.S. involve- 
ment in Vietnam was so costly. In the Binh Chan district of Gia Dinh 
Province there were 6,000 U.S. and GVN troops that were tied down by the 
VC who really had more than a company stationed there. According to 
Enthoven and to the Holbrooke/Burnham Study, there was no prospect now 
that things would change or that anything resembling permanent pacifica- 
tion would take place. Holbrooke and Burnham attempted to tell why. 
According to them there had been a total failure in rooting out the VC 
infrastructure; that is, the VC officials and organizers, and unless 
such infrastructure was destroyed, US-GVN military and pacification 
forces soon degenerated into nothing more than an occupation Army. 
Holbrooke cited Operation FAIRFAX which began as a sweep of Binh Chan 
but bogged down rapidly into a static defense. He concluded that if 
U.S. forces were withdrawn after FAIRFAX, the VC would be in control of 
the area almost immediately. Enthoven was pleading for the Secretary 
of Defense to reorient his questioning as he toured the pacification 
and rural areas. He wanted the SecDef to specifically focus on the 
infrastructure questions. He recounted what he had seen as the typical 
briefing on pacification, the one which first covered the demoralization 
of the VC in area, the reduced number of incidents, but then skipped 
over the infrastructure question and went on to the pig program, the 
number of wells dug, hog cholera innoculations and so forth. Accordingly, 
he suggested that Mr. McNamara might pursue the following questions 
when talking to briefing officers on the field trip: 

1. Is there an intelligence collection center in 

this district? Is there a U.S. adviser responsible 
for the center? 

2. Who in this district has specific responsibility 
for rooting out the infrastructure? on the U.S. 
side? on the GVN side? What unit of command exists 
in intelligence gathering? in anti-infrastructure 

3» In this district what are the assets available for 
rooting out the infrastructure? Which are avail- 
able full-time and which are available part-time? 
Are these assets sufficient given the population of 
the district, its area, etc? 

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k. In a step-by-step manner how do these assets 
function in rooting out the infrastructure? 

5* What guidelines have you developed to measure 
success in rooting out the infrastructure? How 
can you tell how well you are doing? 

Despite the prospect that these questions might prove very embar- 
rassing to those giving the briefing, Enthoven felt that they were 
extremely important and they must be answered or pacification might 
not ever succeed. Of course , he did not include the crucial question, 
this being whether or not U.S. forces should be or even could be 

J profitably engaged in pacification. The answer to that question, what- 

ever it may be, could have a significant impact upon how U.S. decision- 

1 makers viewed any future increases in U.S. forces justified by the 

pacification requirement. 

I Probably the most important paper which the Secretary of Defense 

took with him as he departed for Saigon on 5 July was a study prepared 
by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis, Alain 
Enthoven, entitled "Current Estimate of Additional Deployment Capability." 
In it, Systems Analysis had updated their original estimate of what the 

i Army could provide and was now convinced that approximately 3-2/3 division 

equivalents could be provided to MACV by 31 December, 1968 without, 
changing tour policy, calling Reserves, or deploying NATO STRAF units. 
Although development of this force would require drawing upon critical 
skills and equipment from NATO STRAF, thus reducing their readiness, the 
capability plan still satisfied the key requirement of not sheltering 
the mobilization "pane" while still furnishing the 2-2/3 nominal division 
force. The 2-2/3 force consisted of (l) the 198th Brigade, which had 
already been approved for PRACTICE NIKE; (2) the 9th Marine Amphibious 
Brigade, partially approved and standing offshore, (3) the ARC0V Rifle 
Company packets for use in making up the 33 additional rifle companies 
(an earlier approval from the Secretary of the Army had been denied 
because of the absence of trade-off slots for the 5,500 odd men in 
this group); 50/ (k) the 101st Airborne Division minus one unit which 
had already been deployed; (5) the 11th Infantry Brigade and a new 
Infantry Division. Systems Analysis evaluated the augmentation of 
33 additional companies as being worth one Division to which they 
would add the 2-2/3 that were named units, thereby making up the 3~2/3 
Division equivalents. The Table which accompanied this study is shown 

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- . 

Additional MA.CV Requirements 
and Estimated Capabilities 
December 31, 1968 5l/ 

Land Forces 

Strength (000) 
Maneuver Bns 
Artillery Bns 
Engineer Bns 
Helicopter Cos 
Signal Bns 

Program k 
as of 



8-1/3 a/ 









92 b/ 

2-2/3+1 c/ 

(24+11) d/ 


Ik e/ 

10 f/ 

a/ Excludes 1 Armored Cav Regt. 

b/ Includes 6000 Army contract personnel. 

c/ 2-2/3 nominal division equivalents plus 1 additional division 

equivalent representing the significance of ARC0V augmentations 
d/ 2k maneuver battalions plus the equivalent of 11 additional 

(approximate) because of ARC0V augmentations. 
ef Includes 6 battalion equivalents of contractor personnel. 
f/ 17 companies by end Feb. 69- 

The total basic units strength under this 3-2/3 division equivalent 
was 51*249 troops, with a total force strength of 86,213. Although the 
documents which are available are unclear on this point, it appears that 
Secretary McNamara was prepared to authorize eventual deployment of all 
of the 3-2/3 division equivalent force. Although, again, the documenta- 
tion is incomplete it appears that he had been given the green light by 
the President to negotiate anywhere below this level but not to exceed 
it, that is, not to bump up against the crucial mobilization line. 

Within the staffs preparing the briefings and the background papers 
for the SecDef as he departed for Saigon there was a generally held 
belief that this was the scenario which the Saigon visit would follow: 
The Secretary would explore in detail the justifications for General 
Westmoreland r s minimum essential force afte^ which he and the General 
would bargain and negotiate the civilian! zat ion differences which could 
be worked out. This "compromise" would be the ultimate force package — 
Program V. There was little or any doubt among those working on the 
exact force levels and composition of the different packages, that the 
86,000 total which had been developed in the Systems Analysis memoran- 
dum would not be exceeded and probably that the final force program 
ps.ckage added would approximate closer to 50-65*000. 52/ 


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The briefings given the Secretary in Saigon divulged very little 
different from the considerations and arguments presented ad nauseum 
in Washington. In fact they were devoted to nothing more than sup- 
porting the programs already submitted which were under consideration 
in Washington. But the discussions are useful to get a feel for what 
greeted McNamara in SEA. and the tenor of thought of those operators 
on the ground in South Vietnam. -Ambassador Bunker's remarks were 
guarded, attributed partly to the fact, as he noted, that he had been 
in Vietnam barely more than two months; Secretary McNamara and perhaps 
many others out from Washington had spent more total time in Vietnam than 
he had. Bunker proclaimed that there was general agreement as to what 
U.S. objectives were, but he wanted to recall them. They included: 


1. A just durable and honorable peace through negoti- 
ations leading to a political settlement acceptable to the 
United States, the GVN, Hanoi and NLF/VC; 


2. A chance for the Vietnamese people to choose freely 
the form of government under which they wish to live; 

3. To. help them build their own political institutions 
and develop a viable economy; 

k. To make credible our obligations under the Charter 
of the UN and SEATO to resist aggression; 

5. Eventually to develop regional organizations through 
which the Southeast Asian countries can carry on joint under- 
takings in economic development and mutual cooperation. 53/ 

He appraised our progress in the direction of achieving these objec- 
tives and noted that the difficulties that we were to face were still 
formidable. He disliked the term "the other war." To him, it was all 
one war having many aspects but all a part of the whole with each of them 
important and essential in achieving a successful conclusion. He thought 
the problem of Vietnamese capabilities and performance was partially a 
function of the fact that there was a relatively thin crust of managerial 
and organizational talent. This talent had to be located and the person- 
nel possessing it trained as we went along. He counseled patience 
explaining that we could not expect the same degree of competence, effi- 
ciency or speed from the Vietnamese that we demanded of ourselves and 
that this tardiness on the part of the Vietnamese to react often became 
frustrating and required the exercising of great patience in the future. 
He did not sound like a man anticipating a quick solution to the prob- 
lem — especially a quick military solution. He felt that realism 
demanded that a number of programs receive top priority. He listed: 

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1. A vigorous, imaginative and flexible prosecution 
of the war within acceptable limits. 

2. Through free and honest elections establishing a 
broadly based stable, functioning, constitutional govern- 

3. An expedited pacification program which will win 
the allegiance of the Vietnamese people including the Viet 
Cong, and which offers them the opportunity to become part 
of the social fabric of the country. 

k. Reorientation of the mission of the Vietnamese 
Armed Forces and their revitalization with increased emphasis 
on improvement and quality. 

5. The optimum use of available manpower. 

6. Economic stability and development. 5k/ 

He was basically optimistic about the progress of the military war: 

In a series of splendidly executed offensive opera- 
tions undertaken by General Westmoreland since late April 
in which a total of over 12,000 of the enemy have been 
killed in action, the enemy has been kept off balance and 
his time schedule has been disrupted. It seems apparent 
that the main effort of the enemy to achieve his summer 
campaign objectives has been postponed from May at least 
until July. General Westmoreland's strategy of antici- 
pating enemy threats has paid off handsomely and is one 
which he intends to continue in view of what he foresees 
as an intensification of enemy attempts to achieve his 
summer campaign objectives. 

An encouraging element of these recent operations 
.has been evidence of increased effectiveness of the Viet- 
namese Armed Forces. In a number of heavy engagements 
throughout the country ARVN units have turned in highly 
creditable performances. They contributed materially to 
the success of the initial operations in the DMZ, killing 
3^-2 enemy with a loss of only 31 °f their own forces. In 
a total of Ik other operations in the I Corps area during 
the past six weeks, ARVN units accounted for 1,400 enemy 
killed in action. In the II Corps area they also have 
given a good account of themselves and recently in the Delta 

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area of IV Corps conducted a highly successful operation. 
I "believe that where the ARVN is weakest, however, is in 
their pacification role where motivation and performance 
still leave much to he desired. Here, of course , the 
Regional and Popular Forces are also important elements 
and all are getting increased attention. While ARVN 
morale and performance have been improving there is 
evidence that that of the VC has been declining. It has 
had increasing difficulties in recruiting and a growing 
share of the enemy war effort is being assumed by Hanoi. 5^ 

But he too saw that the crux of the military problem was how to 
choke off the North Vietnamese infiltration. To him doing this, which 
he fully believed feasible, carried at least three primary advantages: 

a. It would drastically reduce the dimensions of 
our problem in South Viet-Nam. Militarily we would be 
dealing only with the Viet Cong whose problems of recruit- 
ment and supplies would be enormously multiplied lacking 
the assistance and reinforcements of North Viet-Nam. I 
believe the result would be that the Viet Cong would eventu- 
ally wither on the vine. 

b. When the infiltration is choked off, it should 
be possible to suspend bombings at least for a period and 
thereby determine whether there is substance to the state- 
ment in many quarters that Hanoi would then come to negoti- 
ations; we should at least call their bluff. 

c. Tensions now existing between the U.S. and Viet- 
Nam on the one side and Cambodia on the other should be, 
over a period of time, relieved and our relations with 
Cambodia improved, even though initially Sihanouk might 
continue to allow the NVA/VC to use Cambodia as a haven 
and a source of certain supplies. 

He realized full well that the means employed to achieve such an objec< 
tive, of course, presented many difficult and delicate problems, both 
military and political, but he expressed confidence "that with imagi- 
nation and ingenuity, these can be met...." 

What is involved, of course, are operations within 
Laos but I do not believe this fact should present 
insuperable obstacles. The North Vietnamese Government 
is a signatory to the 19o2 Geneva Accords but its forces 
have been in Laos both before and since the signing of 
the Agreements. It is now using Laos as the main route 

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for infiltration into South Viet-Nam. Is it not logical 
and reasonable 5 therefore, that South Vietnamese troops 
should oppose and combat North Vietnamese offensive action 
by whatever method can be devised in order to prevent the 
invasion of their country? Guarantees , of course 5 would 
have to be given to the Lao Government by the South Viet- 
namese, and I believe should be underwritten by us, that 
Vietnamese troops were on Lao territory for defensive 
purposes only and would be withdrawn immediately when peace 
is secured. The operation, especially in its preparatory 
stages , should be carried out with as much security and 
secrecy as possible. I have made some recommendations as 
to methods we might use to achieve these objectives. This 
is a matter which I believe we should pursue with the utmost 
concentration. 57/ •. 

These views, of course, . accorded with those which the military had 
been pressing for some time. COMUSMACV was fortunate in having such a 
staunch ally in his battle for expanded operations into the sanctuaries 
as well as the moral support for a more intensive war effort. Bunker 
concluded his short introduction by outlining his current assessment 
and summarized by saying that Hanoi T s stance was one of determined 
inflexibility until the situation developed more clearly in favor of 
either the United States or the North Vietnamese. Under these condi- 
tions, he concluded that Hanoi might consider the next six-ten months 
a crucial time of testing of wills . The period coincided with the 
monsoon season, most favorable to the VC militarily and this, combined 
with electoral pressures in South Vietnam followed by the pre-electoral 
period in the United States with its mounting pressures for resolution 
of the Vietnam conflict, seemed to indicate to Hanoi that a crucial 
period of developments was emerging. Bunker estimated that Ho Chi Minh 
held to the expectation that the United States could not significantly 
curb infiltration or destroy the VC T s military and political capability 
in the next six to twelve months, and that by their domestic and inter- 
national political pressures would dominate the course of events demanding 
some sort of resolution of the war unfavorable to United States interests. 

COMUSMACV, who followed the briefing by Ambassador Bunker, inter- 
preted United States overall strategy as one of applying such pressure 
on the enemy as would destroy his will to continue the aggression. In 
COMUSMACV ! s woids, . ' 

. . .we must convince the enemy that he cannot win, 
that time is not on his side. I believe that this strategy 
will succeed, provided we step up the pressure by rein- 
forcing our mounted successes. The grueling success of 
our air and sea offensive is being matched by the less 
dramatic success of our ground campaign. Although our 

• • 

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strategy in the South is necessarily defensive, our tac- 
tics are decidedly offensive. 

Of particular importance General Westmoreland felt was that the 
enemy had been refused strategic or significant tactical success: 

It has been my objective to frustrate the enemy's 
plans, therefore I have given overriding attention to 
maneuvering troops to deny them battlefield successes 
and psychological opportunities. 

During the past year, the enemy has — 

a. Been forced by our naval operations to abandon 
plans to bring in large tonnages by sea. 

b. Had to resort to use of the long rugged land 
supply route through Laos. 

c. Been denied recruits in the numbers required 
from the populated areas along the coast, thereby forcing 
him to supply manpower form North Vietnam. 

d. Been denied rice from the coastal provinces of 

I and II Corps in the quantities required, thereby forcing 
him to transport rice from North Vietnam or to buy rice 
from Cambodia. 59/ 

In summary, COMUSMACV believed that North Vietnam was paying a 
tremendous price with nothing to show in return. In his words: "The 
situation is not a stalemate; we are winning slowly but steadily and 
this pace can accelerate if we reinforce our successes. Therefore, I 
believe we should step up our operations in pacification in the south, 
increase the pressure in the north, and exercise new initiatives in 
Laos." 60/ 

The J2 estimate which followed COMUSMACV's overall assessment con- 
cluded that : 

Overall, the enemy must be having personnel prob- 
lems. His losses have been heavy, and his in-country 
recruiting efforts unsatisfactory. He is probably 
attempting to make good his losses by heavy infiltra- 
tion, but we cannot conclusively prove this, nor do we 
know how successful he has been. We hear frequently of 

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the so-called "Cross-over point" that is, when 

we put out of action more enemy per month than we 
estimate he "brought into country and recruited for 
that month. This is a nebulous figure , composed as you 
have seen of several tenuous variables. We may have 
reached the "cross -over point" in March and May of 
this year, but we will not know for some months; 6l/ 

and that the enemy could be expected to: 

(l) present a constant threat in widely separated 
areas, (2) attrite US, FW and ARVN forces, and (3) gain 
military victories for propaganda purposes. 

If our analysis is correct, his Main Forces have 
failed to carry out their part of the enemy's campaign 
plan. He has maintained his Main Force units as a 
threat -in-being, largely at the sacrifice of the other 
MF tasks. His immediate problem then, must be to improve 
his MF capabilities and operations. 

From this analysis, what can we expect of the enemy 
in the future? First, we believe that direct partici- 
pation and control of the war in the South by NVA will 
increase. The Northern Front, the DMZ Front, and B-3 
Front have emerged as major NVA Control Headquarters. 
North Vietnamese leadership in III CTZ is increasing with 
the introduction of NVA units and political cadre. Senior 
Generals in COSVN are North Vietnamese. The B-3 Front and 
MR 5 a^e commanded by NVA generals. We have seen an 
increase in the number of personnel taken from MRIII in 
NVN whereas most of his personnel previously came from 
MR IV. This indicates an enemy willingness to draw down on 
his strategic reserves in the North to restore the situ- 
ation in the South. Another indication of growing NVA 
control is the increased professionalism of his operations. 
His equipment is better, he uses heavier and more modern 
weapons, and his techniques (infantry - artillery coordina- 
tion) more polished. It is obvious that the NVA effort 
has increased and will continue to increase as the VC 
effort falters. 

Second, since we foresee increased NVA participation, 
we believe that the enemy is now, or will shortly, bring in 
significant numbers of NVA infiltrees or units. He must 
attempt to reinforce the units in the coastal areas . He 
must attempt to regain the initiative around the periphery 
of SVN. He must attempt to attrite us. To do this he will 
need more strength than we now s£e at hand. 

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To support this build-up the Laos corridor becomes 
increasingly important to the enemy. .. .You know of the . • 

location of base areas in the Laos Panhandle which serve 
as logistical^ rest, and training bases and permit the 
orderly movement of both men and material to SVN. There 
has been heavy truck movement through the Laos Panhandle 
which began in November and December and continued through- 
out the dry season. To improve his capability of sup- 
porting the war in SVN, he has constructed numerous by- 
passes at critical points along roads throughout the 
Panhandle , extended Route 922 east into the Ashau Valley, 
and improved and extended .Route 96 south to Route 110 and 
Base Area 609.... Prior to the onset of the Monsoon Season, 
Route 110 was a heavily used, main supply route leading 
from Cambodia, through Laos into SVN. 

Use of Cambodia will also be increased. .. .The enemy has 
established a Military Region 10 in SVN which extends into 
Cambodia. He has stated that MR 10 is to become the biggest 
base area of the war. He has formed a replacement and 
refitting center reported to be 8,000 strong, in the Fishhook 
Area for units badly mauled in SVN. An agent recently reported 
a VC arsenal in the Parrot T s Beak which produces assorted 
mines, and repairs weapons. We do know that the Parrot's Beak 
area is often used by the VC in moving men and supplies between 
Tay Ninh Province and the Delta. 62/ 

Such an analysis held little prospect for the fading away which had 
been predicted for this time of year in 1967- Furthermore, these trends 
carried with them significant developments in terms of future enemy opera- 
tions and these operations tended to shape the strategy which C0MUSMACV 
was planning to pursue for the remainder of the year. The J2 summarized 
by noting, first, the advantages and disadvantages of the so-called 
enemy "peripheral strategy," an exercise which emphasized that the Laos 
and Cambodia sanctuaries were becoming increasingly important to the 

What does this mean in terms of future enemy operations? 
] From peripheral base areas in NVN, Laos, and Cambodia, he can 

launch attacks designed to draw us into the border areas.... 
! These operations can be mounted from terrain which is most 

■ difficult for our intelligence effort to penetrate. When 
I . forced to withdraw, the enemy will have sanctuaries into 

which he can move to break contact, rest, refit and train. 
j ' This arrangement gives him flexibility in choice of opera- 

■ tional objectives. For example, he can launch offensive 

operations through the DMZ, he can attempt to seize the two 

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northern provinces; he can attempt a thrust through the 
Central Highlands from Base Area 609 toward the coast, he 
can threaten Pleiku and Darlac; he can launch an offensive 
from MR 10 toward Phuc Tuy Province. Obviously, he can 
combine several of these options. When he encroaches from 
the sanctuaries in force, we must go to meet him. "We can- 
not permit him to win territory, intimidate the people, and 
move freely about the countryside and thus, gain the 
psychological victory he wants. 

This enemy "peripheral strategy" has disadvantages, 
too. He will have to move supplies from secure areas in 
Laos and Cambodia to those units located deep inside SVTT, 
where once he might have supported them with relative 
ease by sea. Weather conditions impose restrictions upon 
his land lines of communication, especially during the 
wet season. POL and wheeled vehicle requirements are 
increased as is his maintenance needs. Inside SVN, he 
will be hard pressed to support large scale military opera- 
tions along the coastal plains because of his long, insecure, 
LOC's. Thus, he will find it difficult to make his main 
force presence felt in the heavily populated areas. In 
turn, this will reduce his access to manpower, taxes, rice 
and .other supplies normally procured from these populated 
coastal areas. 


In summary, here are the significant elements of the 
enemy situation as we see them: 

1. His strategy of the war of attrition is unchanged, 
and his determination to carry it out is evident. 

2. He has been hurt, particularly in the coastal 
areas of II Corps and around Saigon. 

3. His Main Forces have not carried out their part 
of the enemy's strategic plan. 

k. His Main Force units require additional strength 
to carry out their role. 

5. The war is becoming more and more an NVA war, and 
Laos and. Cambodia are becoming increasingly important to him. 63/ 

The J3 briefing continually emphasized that a major redisposition 
of U.S forces had been required to take full advantage of the oppor- 
tunities to engage the enemy. ' This was especially true in I, II and 

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III CTZ's, primarily in the DMZ area, in the Qui Nonh and in the border 
regions at the juncture of Kontum and Pleiku Provinces. After a brief 
discussion of the different force packages which had been requested by 
COMUSMACV/CINCPAC, the J 3 went on to outline the major tasks to be 
accomplished. They were: 

1) Contain enemy at borders 

2) Locate and destroy VC/NVA n 

3) Neutralize enemy base areas A 
k) Maximum, support to RD 

5) Open and secure LOC 

6) Interdict enemy LOC 

7) Secure key installations 

8) Emphasize Psy Ops 6k/ 

J3 then presented a comparison of friendly and enemy maneuver 
battaliojis projected thru 30 June 1967* Then 3 he compared maneuver 
battalions , this time applying a weighted factor of 3 to each U.S. and 
Free World battalion and a factor of 1 for each RVBAF or VC/lWA battalion. 
These tables are shown on the following page. 65/ 


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31 Dec 66 
30 Jun 67 



837 RF Co's and U028 PF Pit's 

30 Jun 68 
Prog h 










15U 289 








FY 66 


FY 67 




FY 68 

162 (?) 



* 1 US/FW Bn Equivalent to 3 VC/NVA Bn 



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Using these figures as a basis for comparison the J3 then 
detailed what the enemy threats appeared to he especially in light 
of increased or continued enemy infiltration. To meet these threats 
he listed three roles in which our forces were deployed. One , con- 
tainment or anti-invasion forces, countered the threat along the DMZ 
and were needed for deployment opposite enemy sanctuaries in Laos and 
Cambodia. Two , pacification and security forces required for support 
of RD and security of base installations in L0C T s; and three , offensive 
forces required to defeat the enemy in the main force war and to invade 
his in-country base areas. Under Course of Action A (Minimum Essential) 
21 battalions were required for containment; 168 for pacification and 
security; and 100 for main force offensive, for a total of 289 by the 
end of FY 67. These were, in the words of J-3 "within the time frame 
under discussion a fixed overhead or a down payment on winning the war 
which must be paid." 66/ 

Under Course of Action B (Optimum), the J3 estimated that contain- 
ment forces would be increased to 27, this being based on the need to 
counter the expected increased build-up of enemy forces along the DMZ, 
in Laos and in Cambodia, all assumed possible because of restraints on 
air interdiction plus the enemy's continued freedom of action in the 
trans-border sanctuaries. 

Of the k2 U.S. battalions then committed to pacification/security, 
16 were in support of RD, 13 were in combined pacification/security 
roles, and an additional 13 were assigned base and line of communica- 
tion security missions. Of the 22 free world battalions, 21 were on 
pacification and security roles and one on a security role only. Of 
the 80 RVN armed force battalions 53 were assigned RD support roles and 
an additional 27 were assigned security missions. Of the total number 
of maneuver battalions available at the end of FY 67, 25 U.S., one Free 
World and 71 ARTO battalions were considered available for offensive 
operations. Then, using the battalion equivalents which he had quoted 
earlier, the J3 analyzed what he had labelled Courses A and B: 

For a discussion of offensive capabilities under 
course of action A and B, let us turn to the second 
slide (UU). It summarizes the previous one and shows the 
aggregate number of US, Free World, and GVN battalions 
by the role to which committed. Note that the 97 batta- 
lions available for offensive operations at the end of 
FY 67 increases to 100 under course of action B. However, 
these numbers do not give. the true picture. By applying 
the battalion equivalent ratio of 3 for a US or Free World 
battalion and 1 for an ARVN battalion, the offensive 



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•. . 

capabilities at present are. 1^9 ARVTT bn equivalents. 
Course of action A represents a ^Mo increase (200 bn 
equivalents) over our present offensive capability. 
Course of action B represents only a k% increase (155) 
over our present offensive capability. These offensive 
forces are what remain after commitment of forces to 
containment of the enemy threat and pacification and 
security. (The end FY 67 column was the actual distri- 
bution of units as of 30 June 1967- However, during 
any given week the forces in the containment and offensive 
roles, and to a lesser degree, those performing pacifica- 
tion/security missions will vary. It would be misleading 
to say they represent precise estimates, rather the 
numbers are representative of the basic distribution of 
our forces to varying roles and illustrative of the type 
of war we are fighting.) It is possible that additional 
forces may be required for containment since the 27 bat- 
talions represent only an estimate of what will be 
necessary. If so, we may be required to take units from 
the pacification and security or offensive roles. Should 
this be required, course of action A provides a greater 
operational flexibility for offensive action or reinforce- 
ment of our containment forces. Under course of action B, 
however, response to contingencies must be met at the 
expense of forces committed to pacification and security 
or offensive roles. 

In summary, the reduced forces under course of 
action B; the limitation of air operations north of 20° 
latitude; and the restriction of ground action to South 
Vietnam could reinforce Hanoi's determination to prolong 
the conflict. In particular, the restriction of out-of- 
country air and ground operations would increase the 
enemy's capability to concentrate his defense, maintain 
his L0C ! s and require us to divert additional ground forces 
to the containment role. Under these circumstances, we 
present the enemy increased options to prolonging the 
war. Course of action B does not provide us with reason- 
able assurance that, given the present objectives, there 
would be any prospects of an early settlement of the 
conflict. This is not to imply we might not eventually 
win the vjar of attrition but it would be a long drawn 
out process and would postpone the time when US forces 
could redeploy from South' Vietnam. 67 / 

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The sum total of the briefings did not vary from what McNamara 
had heard so many times before: that there was an increasing NVA 
presence in control of the war; that it was increasingly becoming a 
main force battle; that the sanctuaries were becoming increasingly 
important to the enemy both for the logistics and tactical advantages 
they offered. It was clear that MACV's view of the war in these terms, 
as increasingly a main force battle to be fought by American units, 
had considerable influence upon the strategies that they pursued, as 
well as their calculations of resources required to carry them out. 
By the final day of his visit in Saigon no resolution of the ground 
force requirements had really been arrived at. However, on the final 
evening, Secretary McNamara and General Westmoreland, accompanied by 
General Abrams sat down after dinner and worked out what seemed to be 
an equitable provision of forces below the mobilization level. In 
this, they took what was commonly accepted as available, approximately 
the 3-2/3 divisions outlined by Enthoven, and subtracted those which 
the COMUSMA.CV had stated were possibly available for civilian! zat ion 
during the next year, some 1^,^00. Computed, this came to approximately 
a ^5,000 force increase, since part of the PRACTICE NIKE barrier brigade 
had already been included in the Program 5 total. 

The events of the next week, July 8-13, indicated that C0MUSMA.CV 
was not completely prepared to support the 525,CCO level which was agreed 
upon, a level, incidentally, which coincided with the old program k 
optimum request submitted by COMJSMACV in the fall of the previous 
year. General Dunn, who was General Westmoreland's force planner, 
worked his staff throughout the night prior to the Secretary of Defense's 
departure on the 9th. He prepared a rough troop list under' the 525,000 
limit which he hand carried back to the Joint Staff for refinement. 68/ 

6. The Compromise --Slightly More of the Same 

At the point of Secretary McNamara f s return to Washington, planning 
on force structures travelled along two parallel tracks for the next week. 
As General Dunn conferred with the JCS and the Joint Staff and they tried 
to refine the force within the 525,000 level, Secretary McNamara initiated 
a study in Systems Analysis to flesh out the 525*000, or as so often was 
the case, to prepare the 0SD position with which to compare and evaluate 
the JCS recommendation which would come. According to Mr. McNamara T s 
instructions to Secretary Enthoven, the 525,000 package would include 
19 battalions in addition to the 87 already included in Program h through 
the previous March. The sources of the 19 battalions were to be as 
follows: 3 PRACTICE NINE barrier brigade; 3 from the 9th MA.B, 6 from 
• the deployment of the 101st Airborne Division; 3 from the 11th Infantry 
Division (the Brigade in Hawaii), and h new battalions formed in lieu 
of the 2k rifle companies proposed in the ARC0V recommendation. In 
addition to these 19 battalions, 9 ARC0V rifle company equivalents, 
equivalent to three more battalions in foxhole strength, would be 

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approved if they could "be included in the 525,000 ceiling. (This 
accounts for the original ARCOV total of 33 battalions dropping out 
in the subsequent figures and planning for Program 5). The 525,000 
also included five TFS, 3 Air Force and two Marine. Of these squadrons, 
two Air Force would be scheduled to move. The other three would be 
included in the plan but without a movement schedule, although as a 
footnote, "their availability when needed" was recognized. Enthoven 
proceeded by directing that Program 5 should be prepared for publica- 
tion with a strength of 525,000 minus the strengths of the three air 
squadrons now scheduled for deployment. 69/ 

Another subject which occupied much focus of attention in early 
July when Program 5 approached final approval was how to go about 
obtaining additional troops from our allies in South Vietnam. 


A 13 July I967 memorandum for Rusk, McNamara, Rostow and Katzen- 
bach, Subject: Messages to Manila Nations and Possibilities for 
Additional Troop Contributions, prepared by William P. Bundy following 
a luncheon with the President indicates just how urgently everyone saw 
the problem and how much they desired to obtain troops from these 
sources. In accordance with the directives at the luncheon, Bundy had 
put together a series of letters making the need for additional forces 
more clear and blunt. Even though the letters were all put in terms 
of early indication of prospects or exchanges of views rather than a 
blunt request for additional forces, the message was unmistakeable. 70 / 
Australia and New Zealand were seen as being prepared to come in with 
"more" but it was expected that their contribution would be modest in 
relation to the need, perhaps 2,000 or 3?000 from the Australians and 
a few hundred from the New Zealanders. The Philippines were characterized 
as a "doubtful starter," at least in the immediate future. Anything over 
2,000 from the Philippines by whatever route seemed highly unlikely. In 
Korea, Park himself seemed to be willing, but he had already fended off 
the Vice President's general approach completely and it was clear that 
he intended to get his political situation straightened out before he 
moved with any additional forces for the United States. At best Korea 
appeared to be a prospect for action in late fall and with perhaps an 
additional division coming by the end of the year. Thailand was con- 
sidered a possibility with the thought that it might come through with 
an additional 3 - 5 3 000 over the next six months, but it would, in 
Bundy T s words, "take very careful handling." In fact, earlier on 
3 July the President had had a conversation with the King of Thailand 
on just this very subject. The President had posed the problem raised 
for the United States by the need to respond to General Westmoreland's 
request for an additional 200,000 troops. He said that it would be 
impossible for him, President Johnson, to get support for such addi- 
tional forces unless the troop- contributing allies also put in more 

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troops on a proportional basis. Thanat pointed out that when the Thai 
government asked for 2,500 volunteers in Vietnam, 50,000 had come for- 
ward, "but the King pointed out the problem was not men willing to fight, 
but training and weapons. The President said that we could help with 
training and equipment. The problem was to get a distribution of the 
200,000 which was fair and equitable. The President then asked Mr. 
Rostow on the basis of population how might the extra 200,000 be dis- 
tributed? Rostow had replied that it came out to something like 125,000 
and 75 > 000, with Thailand required to put up about 20,000 as its share. 
The King then cited three problems: the quality of recruits, to which 
the President had said we also had to draw on and train men of lower IQ, 
and physical quality than we might wish; the training and equipment of 
additional troops and the improved equipment of the forces left behind 
in Thailand. The King elaborated at some length on the psychological 
and political problems posed by the latter element, saying it was very 
hard for the military to accept sending troops abroad well equipped when 
they themselves were lacking in modern equipment. After discussing the 
specific equipment, the President telephoned Secretary McNamara and 
informed him of the King's response to which McNamara said that it would 
not be worth our while to train and equip a few thousand more Thais for 
Vietnam but if Thailand could furnish 10,000 he could guarantee their 
training and equipment. 71/ 

On 20 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to the request 
from the Secretary of Defense for the detailed troop list providing 
the specified forces for C0MUSMACV within the ceiling of 525,000. Sig- 
nificantly in this JCSM, the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not concur in 
the inclusion of the elements of the 9th MAB and the non-deployed 
tactical fighter squadrons in the Republic of Vietnam ceiling. They 
argued that the 9th MAB was already included for PAC0M under Program k 
and that it had never been included as part of the MACV force structure 
and was not added in the RVN spaces in MACV's package 5 alternative 
force structure. They wanted to maintain a string on it since the 
brigade was ticketed for the PAC0M Reserve and subject to employment in 
other areas depending upon the criticality of the contingency. The 
Chiefs wanted the 9th MAB when ashore in RVN to be carried as a temporary 
augmentation as was being done under Program k. Similarly, they wanted 
the Tactical Fighter Squadrons to be maintained in a "ready to deploy 
status" outside of RVN, included in the RVN ceiling only if and when 
they deployed in-country. They also expressed doubt as to whether MACV 
could recruit suitable civilian personnel in the competitive market on 
a civilian direct -hire basis to replace 8,100 military spaces. They 
believed "that the forces included in the attached troop list will 
contribute significantly to the prosecution of the war, but are less 
than those recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCSM 218-67, dated 
20 April 1967, Subject: Force Requirements ~ Southeast Asia, FY I968. 
The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as set forth in JCSM 288-67 which 
also provided an assessment of U.S. worldwide military posture are still 

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considered valid." 72/ This was, of course, reaffirming a force 
requirement of 2-l/3 divisions "minimum essential" and the add-on 
2-l/3 division for the "optimum" in FYs 68 and 69 respectively. 


On 21 July, Systems Analysis prepared a comparison of the JCS 
recommendations as contained in JCSM ^-16-67 and those proposed by 
OSD. The OSD proposal was actually prepared in Systems Analysis 
per McNamara T s earlier 13 July directive. The major differences 
between OSD & JCS occurred both over the MA.B and the TFS battalion 
which we just outlined and the civilianization issue with the JCS 
recommendation requiring over 12,000 civilianization slots and the 
OSD recommendation not quite half that number. A summary table of 
the two recommendations appears below. 73/ 

JCS Recommendations 

r r - 1- ■ 1- r ■ I i ■ —— -- 

Army Navy AF MC T otal 

Program #k 323,735 a/ 30,039 56,148 7^,550 UQk,k72 

FY 68 Added Forces 3^,398 b/ 7,772 3,380 7,523 c/ 53,073 

Civilianization d/ d/ d/ d/ -12,5^5 

Program #5 358,133 d/ 37,811 d/ 59,528 d/ 82,073 d/ 525,000 

OSD Recommendations 

Program #4 323,735 a/ 30,039 56,1^8 7^,550 48U,l+72 

FY 68 Added Forces 33,297 b/ 4,23*+ 2,2^2 7,523 £./ 1+7,296 

Civilianization e/ -5, klk - 812 - 5^2 -6 , 768 

Program #5 351,618 33,461 57,848 82,073 525,000 


a/ Includes the 198th Brigade (3 Infantry battalions) 
b/ Includes the 101 Div (-), 11th Brigade and 3 separate 

battalions (13 infantry battalions) 
c/ Includes 9th MAB 5 currently authorized in SVN until 

1 Sept. (3 infantry battalions) 
d/ Less Service portion of civilianization to be determined. 
e/ OSD estimate of Service breakout of civilianization. 

Actual breakdown is undetermined. 

There were several decisions which Enthoven in his memorandum to 
McNamara recommended be deferred for the time being. These included 
an Army intelligence augmentation and a MA.CV headquarters JTV, a Navy 
request for two mobile construction battalions 3 two construction battalion 
maintenance units and various staffs as well as an Air Force A-l TFS 
civil engineer squadron and UC 123 herbicide augmentation. JCSM 218-67 
which recommended the original MACV "minimum essential force" included 
certain out of country forces also, primarily three tactical fighter 

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squadrons in Thailand, five, additional destroyers and two battleships 
and two cruisers for naval gunfire support. Although these forces 
were not specifically addressed in the latest JCSM Ul6-67, Enthoven 
recommended that they be addressed at that time. Accordingly, he 
recommended that the TFS recommended by the JCS be unfavorably con- 
sidered since he felt it would not contribute significantly to our 
effort in Southeast Asia and that one battleship be authorized and 
that other than that the increments in JCSM 218-67 he disapproved. 
These recommendations were approved by Secretary McNamara in a memoran- 
dum for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, dated 10 August. In it, 
he wrote: 

I tentatively approve for planning the forces as recom- 
mended for SW in the enclosure to JCSM 1+16-67 dated July 20, 
I967 except for those "units and augmentations listed in the 
enclosure, pending submission of adequate justification. 
The 9th MAB, the rotational APB, and tactical air squadrons 
ready for deployment will be included in the 525*000 SVN 
. U.S. strength ceiling. Deployment authority for the two 
VMA/vMFA Marine squadrons will be considered separately. 

The table below summarizes the approved force levels. 

Army Navy AF MC Total 

• Program #f 323,735 30,039 56,1^8 7^,550 Wf,V?2 

FY 68 Added Forces 33,297 ^,23^ a/ 2,2^2 7,523 ^7,296 

Civilianization -5,UlU - 812 - 5^2 - -6,768 

Program #5 351,618 33,^61 57,8^8 82,073 525,000 

a/ Includes transfer of 1 APB (199 personnel) from offshore 
to in-country. 

I recognize that the FY 68 troop list has not been 
refined. In order to provide for timely budget actions, 
please submit for my detailed review your refined troop 
list, with detailed justification by September 15, 19&7- 
Your submission should include a monthly schedule of 
civilianizat ion/tradeoffs, identified by unit and Service, 
in order to insure that U.S. forces in SW do not exceed 
525,000. For planning purposes, Program #5 will reflect 
a total civilianization, trade-off schedule as follows: 

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Jan 68 Feb Mar Apr May Jun Total 

























Any added requirements in your refined troop list including 
deferred units should be fully justified and accompanied by 
corresponding civilianization or trade-off spaces. 

The additional out -of- country forces proposed in 
JCSM 218-67 are not approved except for the 5 additional 
destroyers for gunfire support. These destroyers are 
approved providing they can be made available from existing 
active fleet assets. In addition, I am considering the 
activation and deployment of 1 battleship in a separate action. 

This was in the ratification of Program 5 which was to be formally pub- 
lished on Ik August. 7k / 

The final decision in mid-August came as no surprise to either 
the public or to the Secretaries or to anyone included in the distribu- 
tion of the finished program for that matter, for in his tax budget 
message to Congress on k August President Johnson had disclosed plans 
to dispatch between k 1 ? and 50,000 troops to Vietnam bringing the total 
to 525,000. A New York Times article noted that it was a "compromise 
between the 70,000 men sought by Westmoreland and the 15-30,000 men 
suggested by Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara." That it was. 
However, the announcement was greeted in both the public press and in 
the public consciousness with a certain resignation which bordered on 
apathy. Clark Clifford and General Maxwell Taylor had already been 
dispatched to the Far East, ostensibly to visit allies and to explain 
the course of American policy in the war, but there was little secret 
that they were out scrounging troops and trying to induce commitments 
from some of the nations which had already contributed or those which 
were being reluctant to contribute more. Their return on 6 August only 
increased the public pressure for they reported "wide agreement among 
allies fighting in South Vietnam to increasing pressure on the enemy." 
A day later, Johnny Apple T s article on "stalemate" broached the subject 
in the public press. In it, Apple outlined in consumate detail the 
infiltration figures showing that the United States was failing to 
"win"1he big w::,r because of the ability of the North Vietnamese to rein- 
force faster than we could kill them; he quoted the infiltration statistics 
both official and those which he had derived from his time in Vietnam 
from "unofficial sources," all quite accurate. He cited the constant 
need for reinforcements as a measure of our failure. The article which 
received wide circulation both in Vietnam and especially in the decision- 
making circles of the Pentagon merely confirmed what many had been saying 
officially and unofficially fg>r some time — that infiltration was a ■ 

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crucial variable; that there was no indication that the North Viet- 
namese had lost stomach for the war; nor did the NVA lack the capability 
to reinforce at a much higher level than we had anticipated. 

As Program 5 broke almost as if programmed, General H. K. Johnson 
announced in his visit to Saigon that there was "a smell of success 
in every major area of the war." In a Senate Preparedness Subcommittee 
report given by Senator Stennis he repeated their incessant demand 
that we have a sharp intensification of the air war over North Vietnam 
in an attempt to stem the infiltration. General Cao Van Bien, Chief of 
Staff of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces said he was convinced, how- 
ever, that bombing of North Vietnam would never adequately control 
infiltration. That "we have to solve the problem of Laos and Cambodia 
and the sanctuaries or the war might last 30 years." 

The program which emerged and was ratified in this environment, of 
public debate and concern, was essentially the result of the circular 
path traced far back to the optimum request of Program k. Its origins 
and its limits can be traced to one primary factor — that of mobilization 
When the President and the Secretary of Defense, as well as other 
Congressional leaders and politically attuned decision makers in the 
government began to search for the illusive point at which the costs of 
Vietnam would become inordinate, they always settled upon the mobiliza- 
tion line, the point at which Reserves and large units would have to be 
called up to support a war which was becoming increasingly distasteful 
and intolerable to the American public. Domestic resource constraints 
with all of their political and social repercussions, not strategic or 
tactical military considerations in Vietnam, were to dictate American 
war policy from that time on. 

T-. Follow- 0ns 

Hardly had the ink dried on approval of Program 5 deployments, when 
pressures began to build for the acceleration of these deployments to 
Vietnam. On 6 September I967, the Acting Chairman informed the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff that he had been queried as to what could be done to 
speed up or accelerate Program 5 deployments. Although ostensibly the 
reason for accelerated deployments was to meet the threat in the DMZ 
and I CTZ, the Acting Chairman indicated he had been specifically asked 
to look at: 

a. What could be done prior to Christmas. 

b. What could be done prior to March 12, the date of the 
New Hampshire primary election. 

The Chiefs were to look into the subject on an urgent basis and to 
provide their views to the Acting Chairman by 9 September 1967. 75/ 

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A Director's Memorandum to the Acting Chairman, in response to this 
inquiry, was forwarded on 9. September. This Memorandum indicated that 
the refined Program 5 troop list then being developed by the Joint Staff 
indicated that a total of 62,132 Program 5 forces had not been ordered 
deployed as of that date. Of these, approximately 9$ were scheduled 
to be deployed in Calendar Year 67, 33% to be deployed 1 January to 
1 March 1968, and the remainder scheduled to be deployed after 1 March. 
Most of the forces scheduled to deploy in FY 1969 were controlled by 
long lead time equipment and were not subject to acceleration into the 
January-February 1968 time frame. A hurried analysis, however, indicated 
that about 1,700 Navy personnel, scheduled to deploy after 1 March, might 
be accelerated to January-February 1968 deployments. Since neither the 
Air Force nor the Marines had an appreciable number scheduled to deploy 
after 1 March 1968, the fruitful area for further exploration quickly 
turned to the Army capability for accelerating deployment. . The bulk of 
the Army combatant units was scheduled to deploy in February-March 1968. 
These included the 101st Airborne Division (-), and the 11th Light 
Infantry Brigade in February 1968, and k separate infantry battalions in 
March 1968. 

The Army indicated that 1 brigade task force plus the division head- 
quarters, approximately U,500 personnel, of the 101st Airborne Division (-), 
could, in fact, be accelerated to arrive in-country by 15 December 1967, 
and the remainder of the division (-), approximately 5 5 500 personnel, 
could be accelerated to arrive in-country on 31 January I968, under the 
following conditions: 

a. Movement by air would be required and would cost $15M 
more than movement by surface; 

b. Non-divisional support units which were planned to accompany 
the division could not be accelerated; therefore the support must be pro- 
vided by in- country resources. 

c. Additional unit training in- country of approximately four 
weeks would be required before the units would be fully combat ready. 

The 11th Light Infantry Brigade could be accelerated for arrival 
in-country by 31 January 1968, if it were to be deployed by air. 

The Director's memorandum listed several possible actions to be 
explored with the Services which might speed up Program 5 deployments. 
Among these were: 

1. Delay commencement of civilianization program until 
after 1 March 1968. Thereafter use personnel released 
by civilianization for fill of skeleton units or for 
in-country activation of new units. 

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2. Deploy unit without equipment to join like unit in 
South Vietnam for double shifting on the available 
equipment. This pertains primarily to service support 
type units. 

3* Withdraw deployable elements from existing combat/ 

mission ready units in COITUS and Europe for deployment 
to South Vietnam. Replace these units by others pre- 
sently being readied for South Vietnam. 

U. Draw down personnel and equipment from existing units 
in CONUS (including reserve equipment) and Europe as 
required to expedite readiness of units for deployment. 

5. Substitute ready units located in COMJS and Europe for 
early deployment to South Vietnam for those units which 
cannot be readied by 1 March 1968. 

6. Deploy units to. South Vietnam in substandard readiness 
condition in personnel , training and/or equipage. 
Raise the unit to satisfactory state of combat /mission 
readiness in South Vietnam prior to commitment to combat 
or combat service support role. 

7. Deploy units to bases in PACOM (Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa, 
Philippines, Japan and Korea) in substandard readiness 
condition in personnel, training and/or equipage. 
Raise unit to satisfactory state of combat/mission 
readiness at these bases and then move them into South 

8. Establish training facilities at PACOM bases and in 
Vietnam or use existing ARVN" facilities there to complete 
training of units deployed under conditions defined in 
6 and 7 above. 

9. Services expedite funding and equipment and material 
procurement so units can be equipped ahead of present 
Program 5 schedule. 

10. Surge air and surface transportation means in cases 
where -transportation is pacing factor to early deployments 

11. Provide inducements to reserves with desired skills 
to volunteer for active service. 

12. Accelerate and compress training schedules. 76/ 

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The Acting Chairman (General Johnson) apparently took the Director , 
Joint Staff Memorandum to the White House on 12 September, The 
nature of the discussion is not known. However, upon his return from 
the White House, General Johnson indicated that the President desired the 
Joint Staff to indicate recommended actions, within present policy limita- 
tions, which would increase pressure on North Vietnam. 77 / Nothing was 
said concerning accelerated deployments, and the Joint Staff did not 
further consider this subject. 


However, on l6 September 1968, in a memorandum to the Secretary of 
Defense, the Secretary of the Army indicated that the Army had re- analyzed 
its capability to deploy the 101st Airborne Division (-) to Vietnam and 
had determined that a brigade task force and a headquarters and control 
element of the division (approximately U,500 personnel) could be deployed 
by air to close in Vietnam before Christmas. The remainder of the 
division (-) could either deploy by surface to close in Vietnam before 
February or could deploy by air in mid to late January I968 to close 
before TET (31 January 1968). 78/ 

On 22 September, the Secretary of Defense approved the plan to 
deploy the brigade task force and headquarters element by air in December 
1967^ but indicated that a decision on the accelerated deployment of the 
remainder of the division would be made at a later date. 79 / 

In the meantime, on 15 September, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved 
and forwarded to the Secretary of Defense the refined troop list for the 
"tentatively approved FY 1968 additive forces for South Vietnam and a 
civilianization schedule to remain within the specific military personnel 
strength ceiling of 525,000." Civilianization, the 525,000 ceiling, plus 
Program k trade-offs, permitted an additive force structure of 50,978 
for FY 1968, which was allocated as follows: Army 39,365; Navy 7,^83; 
Marine Corps 969; and Air Force 3,l6l. 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out again, however, that even with 
the high civilianization goal, many requirements still could not be accom- 

For example, a Marine Corps requirement for 6,12^- spaces 
plus integral Navy personnel to permit III MAF to be manned at 
full strength is not included in the troop list. This require- 
ment is based on modification of existing T/0s and augmentations 
caused by the nature of operations being conducted in I CTZ, the 
.introduction of newer and more sophisticated equipment, and the 
expanding functions and responsibilities being assigned to III MAF. 
The Marine Corps has indicated that approximately 3,500 of these 
additional Marines could be provided by December 1967. Also, 
both the Army and Air Force identified additional priority require- 
ments that could not be incorporated within ceiling; approximately 

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3,000 spaces for the Army and 1,000 for the Air Force. These 
requirement s, and others, now outside the ceiling, will be 
the subject for future recommendations. 

Inclusion of elements of the 9th Marine Amphibious 
Brigade, which CINCPAC plans to operate ashore in South 
Vietnam only on a temporary basis, of nondeploying tactical 
fighter squadrons, and of the l,l6U spaces for the augmented 
hospital facilities for civilian war casualties, as directed 
by references, has further reduced the force level recommended 
by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCSM-218-67, dated 20 April 
1967, subject: "Force Requirements -.Southeast Asia FY 1968 (u), ,f 
and prevented inclusion of high priority units and personnel, 
some of which are now available for deployment. 80 / 

The major differences in the refined troop list were the addition 
of 3 light helicopter companies, 2 C-1^+0 jet aircraft for the Ambassador 
and visiting dignitaries, a Radio Research Aviation Company, and a 
Marine fixed-wing reconnaissance squadron. Additionally, the helicopter 
requirements included ambulance detachments and helicopters in the 
supporting aviation headquarters for the 101st Airborne Division and 
the Americal Division. Other lower priority units were deleted. 

The Secretary of Defense, on 5 October, approved for deployment 
those forces listed in JCSM 505-67, and indicated that subsequent 
requests for additional high priority units should be accompanied by 
appropriate trade-offs to insure forces remained within the total 
personnel authorization of 525,000. 81 / 

On 28 September, General Westmoreland forwarded to CINCPAC and the 
JCS his plan for reorienting in-country forces for the northeast monsoon 
season. This reassessment of planned operations and force deployments 
was necessitated, C0MUSMACV indicated, in view of the accelerated deploy- 
ment of the 101st Airborne Division and the heavy enemy pressure in 
I CTZ. COMUSMACV indicated that his overall fall-winter objectives were 

A. Relieve the 1st Cav Div in Binh Dinh and commit it to 
successive country-wide offensive operations... 

B. Reinforce I CTZ to the extent practicable without unduly 
retarding other progress. 

C. Move additional elements of the 9th Inf Div to the Delta. 

D. Reinforce III CTZ so that we can attack during favorable 
weather. . .and force the enemy into a vulnerable posture 
away from populated areas. 82 / 

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The prospective early arrival of the 101st Airborne Division, General 
Westmoreland indicated, 

• .."will now allow for initiation of planned operations in 
III CTZ while diverting the 1st Cav Div to I CTZ as required 
by the intensified enemy situation there. To insure ade- 
quate combat ready forces for III CTZ operations, I now 
plan to delay the movement of additional 9^h Div elements 
to the delta; however, a Vietnamese Marine battalion will 
deploy to IV CTZ to reinforce our mobile Riverine operations 
planned for that area. 

3. (TS) These moves are carefully planned to preclude any 
regression in the vital coastal areas of II CTZ; to insure 
that the ultimate posture of forces required to meet ob- 
jectives for next year is not changed significantly; to do 
that is necessary to relieve and reverse the situation near 
the DMZ; and to conduct large scale operations in selected 
areas when weather is favorable. By this reoriented effort 
I desire to preempt the enemy strategy of attempting to tie 
down forces and denude the pacification shield. 83 / 

General Westmoreland indicated that higher authority could provide 
him the following additional assistance to help accomplish his strategy: 

A. Accelerate the deployment of the 101st Div to close all 
major elements of the Div prior to 20 December 1967. This 
will facilitate early combat readiness of this force and 
allow its employment in late January. . . 

B. Continue the retention of the elements of 9th MAB now 
in- country. My evaluation now of the situation in I CTZ 
indicates a continuing requirement for this force through 
the spring of 1968. 

C. Accelerate deployment of 11th Separate Infantry BDE to 
arrive in-country during December 1967. Early arrival would 
permit early release of the 173d ABN Bc^ which would be 
employed in II CTZ. A consideration in all accelerated 
deployments is the possibility of an extended holiday 
moritorium resulting in an agreement of status quo on force 
deployment s . 8k / 

In a memorandum for the President on k October 1967, "the Secretary 
'of Defense indicated the actions taken to date on COMUSMACV's recom- 
mendations, to include: 

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(1) Recommendation : Accelerate the deployment of the 101st 
Division to close all major elements of the Division 
prior to 20 December 1967. 

Action : Deployment of a brigade task force (3 battalions) 
of the 101st Airborne Division had already been accelerated 
from February 1968 to December 19&7. The Army now believes 
that deployment of the remaining brigade can be accelerated 
"from February I968 to January 1968. 

(2) Recommendation : Retain the elements of the 9th Marine 
Amphibious Brigade now in- country. 

Action: The current deployment plan authorizes this action, 

(3) Recommendation : Accelerate deployment of the 11th Separate 
Infantry Brigade from February I968 to December 1967. 

Action : The Secretary of the Army believes this date can 
be met. 85/ 

The Army , meanwhile, continued to assess the possibility of accelerat- 
ing deployment of its Program 5 combat units. 


On l6 October 19&7; in a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, the 
Secretary of the Army indicated that the remainder of the 101st AB Division 
could be deployed by air to close in Vietnam by 20 December I967. This 
accelerated deployment would require the completion of four weeks of 
training in-country prior to commitment to combat. Additional trans- 
portation costs to the Army would be $10 M, and support of the element 
in South Vietnam over the C0NUS cost for the same period would be 
approximately $5-3 M. The acceleration, however, would not provide 
General Westmoreland an operational element earlier than now programmed, 
but would ensure the Divisions early closure in South Vietnam in the 
event of an extended moratorium on deployment at Christmas. 86/ In 
response to this memorandum, the Secretary of Defense asked: "^Why spend 
$15M without an earlier operational capability"? 87/ On 20 October the 
Secretary of the Army indicated that, contrary to his earlier assertion, 
the Division would be available for operations in South Vietnam five 
weeks earlier than the Program 5 availability date. 

The Program 5 availability date, using surface transporta- 
tion and allowing for one month's in-country orientation, is 
1 March 1968. Using air movement and conducting the normal 
one-month orientation concurrent with completion of training 
will provide an availability date of 22 January 1968. 88/ 

On 21 October, the Secretary of Defense approved the Army recommen- 
dation to deploy by air the remainder of the 101st Airborne Division (-) 

in December 1967. 89/ 

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On 31 October, in a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense , the 
Secretary of the Army replied to General Westmoreland T s request for the 
deployment of the 11th Infantry Brigade to arrive in Vietnam before 
Christmas. He stated that the Army Staff had determined that the 
Brigade could be deployed on or about December 10, by surface transporta- 
tion from Hawaii to close in South Vietnam by 2.h December. It would be 
necessary for the Brigade to have the same kind of in-country training 
on arrival in South Vietnam as the 101st Airborne Division (-). The 
only additional costs involved would be the slightly increased operating 
costs from having the unit in South Vietnam one month earlier and being 
combat ready in January rather than in February. 90 / 

On 6 November, Secretary of Defense approved the Army request for 
the early deployment of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade by surface 
transportation to South Vietnajn in December 19^7, and directed that 
necessary in-country training should be conducted in a low risk area. 91/ 

In the meantime, on 17 October 1967, the Joint Chiefs of Staff for- 
warded to the President through the Secretary of Defense their reply to 
the questions raised by the President at the White House luncheon on 
12 September concerning what military actions consistent with present 
policy guidelines would serve to increase pressure on North Vietnam, 
thereby accelerating the rate of progress toward achievement of the U.S. 
objective in South Vietnam. 92/ 

The Chiefs considered that North Vietnam was paying heavily for its 
aggression and had lost the initiative in the South. They further con- 
sidered that many factors indicated a military trend favorably to Free 
World Forces in Vietnam. However, they again concluded that if accelera- 
tion in the pace of progress was to be achieved, an appropriate increase 
in military pressure was required. 

The Chiefs then reiterated the policy guidelines established for the 
conduct of military operations in SEA to achieve U.S. objectives, among 
which were: 

a. We seek to avoid widening the war into a conflict with 
Communist China or the USSR. 

b. We have no present intention of invading NVN. 

c. We do 'not seek the overthrew of the Government of NVN. 

d. We are guided by the principles set forth in the Geneva Accords 
of 195U and 1962. 93/ 

In a rather resigned tone, the Joint Chiefs indicated that they 
considered the rate of progress to have been and to continue to be slow 
largely because U.S. military power has been constrained in a manner 

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which had reduced significantly its impact and effectiveness. Limita- 
tions have been imposed on military operations in four ways, they 

a. The attacks on the enemy military targets have been 
on such a prolonged, graduated basis that they enemy has ad- 
justed psychologically, economically, and militarily, e.g., 
inured themselves to the difficulties and hardships accom- 
panying the war, dispersed their logistic support system, 
and developed alternate transport routes and a significant 
air defense system. 

b. Areas of sanctuary, containing important military 
targets, have been afforded the enemy. 

c. Covert operations in Cambodia and Laos have been 

d. Major importation of supplies into NVN by sea has 
been permitted. 

The Chiefs indicated that they considered that U.S. objectives in 
SEA could be achieved within this policy framework providing the level 
of assistance the enemy received from his communist allies was not 
significantly increased and there was no diminution of U.S. efforts. 

However, the Chiefs concluded pessimistically that progress would 
continue to be. slow so long as present limitations on military operations 
continued in effect and, further, at the present pace, termination of 
NVTTs military effort was not expected to occur in the near future. 

The Joint Chiefs then listed a series of actions which could be 
taken in the near future to increase pressures on NVN and accelerate 
progress toward the achievement of U.S. objectives (see table, p. 22U) 
and recommended they be authorized to direct these actions. 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that expansion of US 
efforts entails some additional risk. They believe that as 
a result of this expansion the likelihood of overt introduc- 
tion of Soviet/Bloc/CPR combat forces into the war would be 
remote. Failure to take additional action to shorten the 
Southeast Asia conflict also entails risks as new and more 
efficient weapons are provided to NVN by the Soviet Union 
and as USSR/CPR support of the enemy increases. 9V 

Information indicates that the President reviewed this paper and 
stated that it was not what was desired, that it recommended actions 
which had previously been denied and would not now be approved. 

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■ . , .!-,.»■ 

■ i . I ■ ■■ ■ ii 

- , — 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Remove restrictions on sir campaign &{ 
©11 militarily slgr.if Ufcr.t targets i-. NV3 
( t&s.'ler)^ 

2. .Mine KV2J deep water ports 

3- Mine Inland! waterways end estuaries in NV2J 
north of 20° !.*. 

^. Extend naval surface operations (S3A EBAGOn) 

5. Use US SAM- (-A'.'S) from snips 
combat eir craft. 

c. Increase eir interdiction in ly.os end along 
5VS borders. 

A T, ;^:rDJX 

r :: " r r >r actions votkik j ■••:• CUlPSLUtSS v:hich coum» result I?! ai-ict pressure 0:; ?K3 ?.::.. i :;- 


CCS.. _. >. - /.-. .!.>_. .O 

El i.-r'-.' •. ■ ' 'r— .-; end .' no', prohibited areas. 
i- ''.;'• :■:•■.-. -i and Jlalphor.c restricted t-rees to 

*.•.'• c 1 ". .' r . ' * -_-r . 
Pet-re C?i Buffer Zc:.e to 10 relies. 
Conduct unrestricted attach against IOC, rail 

lir.ecj -P to five miles fron CPR border. 

Authorize CILCPAC stride end restrifce prerogative 

for all targets outside of redefined restricted 

Terr It JCS '-' authorise strikes against targets in 

the redefined restricted areas en a case-by-cace 
. basis (to include Kuiphor.g port). 

Establish, renl as required, nine fields in 

apj .'. : tr.d harbtrs at Haiphong, !!on Gai and 

Ch- Pna. Publish warning notice to r.ariners. 
Adjunt/exter.d r.lnc fields ec necessary to 
pre vc- r t bye scsing. 

Mine mouths" of navigable KV3J rivers. Mine navigable 
Inland waterways throughout NVS to within 5 SK of 
CPR border 'authority currently limited to those 
south of 20 


Conduct offensive naval surface force operations 
against :.".' military/logistic watercrafx: and 
e gainst suitable targets in KVN ashore north of 
20° 11 latitude to the redefined buffer zone 
(££A i:-AP::." operations new limited to south of 90° N) 

Use sea-based SAM missiles against :r/i: aircraft both 
over water and in airspace over NVJJ. 

Selective barbing of Laotian watervays traffic CSEKDNG) 
Establish 6T>ecial saturation bombing interdiction air- 
strike zones in Laos, e.g., northwest of DMZ, Nape 
end Mu Gle Passes. 



r .— 

Greater Instruction of :■".':: war-support! 

Increoscsd destruction of air defences 

In rig airfields. 

Reduce apgistic support of KVS/VC. 
Kore efficient use of available forces. 
jfcv • ori reducing friendly 

Cfi ' Lies, particularly in critical 

I Coj :a. 

Permits timely reaction against* targets 

of optbrtunity. 

Reduce import of war- supporting materials 

Interdicb internal waterway LOCs. 

"Destroy vaterbome logistic era:"": arid block chancels. 

Recuire fcreat 2TV3! sweeping effort. 

Reduce FOL and other cargo distribution. 

Interdict coastal water traffic. 

Reduce use of lend £0Cs by harassing gunfire. 

Increase destruction of enemy air forces 
Inhibit enemy air operations. 

Increased intex*diction of LOGs and reduction ol 
supplies to :.YA/'vc. 

Charter, of escalation. 

Increased use of CPR airfields for storage o: 

training, but not for combat missions. 
Increased CPR AAA and Engineer support in 


Soviet Union ray cancel existing negotiations 

vith the US and initiate pre. 'ganda campaign. 
Possible Soviet actions to increase torsions 
in other parts of the world but ma^cr con- 
frontations would be unlikely. C??. would 
strengthen defensive posture and may increase 
military aid to SWTj unlikely to initiate 
offensive air or surface actions.. 

No specific military reaction frc.T communists* 
Some increased propaganda against US action. 

Possible naval and air reaction by ■JIVS in 

northern vaters. 
C??. or Soviets might provide additional patrol 


!T/!» air and surface attack possible. 
USSR or CFR might provide 875 with coast 
defense missiles. 

No immediate reaction ether than propaganda. 

No Laos reaction. 


T. Elininete operations! restrictions on 5-^2s 
with regard to Laos. 

8. Expand operations in Laos (PRAIRIE FIRE). 

?. Expand operations in Cambodia. 


- 2 &nd reorient :.".':; co\-».r-. ororrens 

Croor: vc (c)). 


Overflignt of Laos, by day and night, by B-52s en route 

to or from targets in Vietnam or Laos. 
Daylight bembinj attacks on Lsos. 
Eliminate requirement for cover strikes in SVN when 

bombing tar rets in Lads. 

Increase authorized cize of exploitation force. 

Expand current l/.'.'Irl PCC.VR reconnaissance program 
by extending the area of operations for the full 
length of the SVIJ/Cambodie border; authorize use 
of helicopters j remove limitations on number of 

Authorize ".-"HI PIC::! forces to conduct limited 
sabotage/destruction activity; authorize calling in 
tactical airstrikes en er.rr.y targets near the border. 

Undertake ac 

current r. : 
Increase ir.t 

desr.ruct ! 

tlcr.r to i'.cr-jese the credibility of a 
ticnal resistance* movement in NVH. 
sllf collection end covert tr-.ysical 

-. missions. ' 

0P SECRET - Sensitive 

Greater operational efficiency and quicker reacticr 
time for 3-52s. 

Disrupt ranctusxies. 

Increased efficiency of interdiction. 
Reduce supplies to .'.TA/VC. 

Disrupt sanctuariest 

Reduce sapplies to .t/a/vc. 

Irprove intelligence. 

Liscourc^.- use of Cambodia as sanctuary for .T/A/'VC 

Provide self-defense of US forces. 

Karasc JTIJ within country^ 

Recuire .'.".':•' to divert resources ".: internal security, 

~i . 

Possible political reactions. 

Souvenna would probably not ol t if he ctrld 

deny the actions and avoid " -blicitv- 
Possible increased IT/A forces a-d activities 

in Lacs. 

Cambodia would protest expansion cf operations 
to Cambodian soil and night seek to defeni 
its territory. 

Adverse tolitical reaction. 

NYS would accuse the United S 
to bring about ccvnfall cf 

ts.tes cf " at * ';■ * ir ^ 


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However, Administration actions to find a way to accelerate progress 
in South Vietnam continued. On 7 November 19^7^ the Chairman of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated, in a memorandum to the Director, Joint 
Staff, that he had been urged again to take all feasible measures to 
deploy Program 5 forces at the earliest possible date. He directed that 
the Joint Staff explore what further foreshortening of the deployment 
dates could be accomplished. 95/ 

On 8 November, at the White House luncheon meeting, the Secretary of 
State recommended that the Department of State and the Department of 
Defense prepare a joint policy document which would govern political and 
military operations in Southeast Asia for the next four months. Secretary 
Rusk f s proposal was expressed in broad terms. He considered that parameters 
should be established for political, military, and economic operations 
over the upcoming four months T period in order to preclude the need for 
weekly examinations of many small and short-range operations. This pro- 
posal was agreed to by the principals at the meeting, and the Chairman 
directed the Joint Staff to prepare as a matter of priority the recommen- 
dations of the JCS for military operations in SEA over the cited time 
period. He directed that the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff cover the following as a minimum: 

a. Air operations against North Vietnam -- 

Fixed targets important to our air effort against 
North Vietnam; authorization for re-strike of important tar- 
gets; allocation of air effort between North Vietnam and 
South Vietnam. 

b. Ground operations -- 

Large ground operations in South Vietnam to include 
operations in the Delta region; ground operations in Laos; 
ground operations in Cambodia; and possible ground operations 
.against North Vietnam. 

c. Bombing Pauses — 

In addressing this subject the Joint Staff should take 
note of American Embassy Saigon to State cable #10563. Ambassador 
Bunker reported that Vice President Ky believes that bombing 
pauses of 2h hours each for Christmas and New Years and k8 hours 
at TET should be announced in the near future by the allied 
forces. 96/ 

In reply to the Chairman's request to explore foreshortening of 
deployment dates, the Director, Joint Staff on 21 November furnished 
the following resume: 

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Army - Based on a comprehensive capability study recently 
completed, Army concludes it is not in a position to make 
further accelerations without jeopardizing capability to 
deploy remaining units in Program 5 in an orderly mariner. 

Navy - The bulk of the 3000 Navy forces scheduled to deploy 
after 1 March 1968, are linked to ship/waterborne craft 
conversion or construction. They are susceptible to little 
acceleration and cannot be accelerated into the JAN/FEB 68 
time frame. 

Air Force - Excluding the TFS maintained in CONUS ready for 
deployment, the Air Force has only 760 personnel scheduled 
to deploy after 1 March 1968. These include a CE Squadron 
(scheduled for civilianization had funds been available) and 
6 UC-123 herbicide aircraft. The CE Squadron must be 
activated and equipped and the aircraft must be spray equipped. 

Marine Corps - Contingent upon Department of Defense approval 
(which is expected in the near future) of a PCR for additional 
end strength increase to deploy and sustain 800 CAC personnel, 
the Marine Corps will have only l6^ Program 5 spaces remaining 
for deployment after 1 March 1968. The l6U personnel are 
associated with an observation squadron for which pilots and 
aircraft are not available. 97 / 

On 27 November 1967, the Joint Chiefs of Staff provided the Secretary 
of Defense their views on planned and recommended military operations to 
be conducted in Southeast Asia over the next four months. They concluded, 
rather pessimistically again, that: 


There are no new programs which can be undertaken under 
current policy guidelines which would result in a rapid or 
significantly more visible increase in the rate of progress 
in the near term. 98 / 

The Chiefs recommended against a stand-down in military operations 
for any of the forthcoming holidays, as progress during the next x four 
months would be dependent upon the maintenance of pressure upon the 

Any action which serves to reduce the pressure will be 
detrimental to the achievement of our objectives. 99 / 

While progress toward U.S. military objectives was expected to be 
sustained during the period under consideration, the Joint Chiefs held 
that additional gains could be realized through the modification and 
expansion of certain current policies. Thus, they recommended that current 
policies for the conduct of the war in SEA during the next four months be 

modified and expanded to permit a fuller utilization of our military 

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On 22 December 1967* the ASD/lSA, in a memorandum to the Chairman, 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, forwarded the joint comments of the Secretary of 
Defense and the Secretary of State on the JCS recommendations. Their 
comments were: 

a. recommend against aerial mining or bombing of North 
Vietnamese deep water ports. Possible military gains 
are far outweighed by risk of confrontation with Soviets 
or Chinese. 

b. recommend that strike authorization for high density 
population centers of government and domestic commerce 
continue to be controlled at the highest level of 
Government which is most closely in touch with the 
political significance of air attacks in these areas. 

c. every recommendation for authorization of a new target should 
be considered on its own merits. The military significance 
of the target is, of course, a dominant factor in the 
evaluation of a target recommendation, but our policy is to 
minimize civilization casualties and this consideration must 
be weighed in every determination. Recommend no change in 
this policy. 

d. recommend authorization for use of CS in rescues in Laos. 
Effectiveness of such use can be evaluated against possible 
adverse public reaction to use of agents combined with 
firepower if conducted in NVN and given propaganda play 

by NVTT. 

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1. Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: Future Actions in 
Vietnam, 19 May 1967. A series of drafts revealed that McNaughton 
had been working on the basic memorandum since late April or early 
May. The drafts as they took shape began to incorporate not only 
the views of the CIA which we mentioned, especially those related 
to the effects of the bombing in the north and the so-called ratchet 
effect, where actions in the bombing in the north were having little 
effect on the outcomes in the south, the views of the State Depart- 
ment, such as those incorporated in the Bundy memo on the bombing, 
and even those of the White House, primarily ones prepared at 

Walt Rostow f s direction. Throughout the period, the same basic 
six arguments continued to be developed' and expanded until they 
appear in the finished document on 19 May. See Memorandum dated 
16 May I967, Subject: Arguments Opposing Further U.S. Forces for 
South Vietnam (McNaughton papers — draft prepared for 19 May DRM); 
and McNaughton papers - hand written draft, subject: Issues to 
Add to Paper, dated 5 May 67. 

2. Memorandum for the SecDef from ASD( ISA) McNaughton, Subject: 
"My Comments on the 5 May 'First Rough Draft 1 ," dtd 6 May 67. 

3. Ibid. 
k. Ibid. 

5. Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: Future Actions in 
Vietnam, dtd 19 May 67. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Ibid . 

8. JCSM 286-67 ? Subject: Operations Against North Vietnam, dated 
20 May 67. 

9. Memorandum from the Deputy SecDef to Chairman, JCS, Subject: 
Operations Against North Vietnam, dated 26 July 1967. JCSM 286-67 
was forwarded to the President on 20 May with a note from Secretary 
McNamara stating that he would forward to the President his 
comments on the document after more extensive analysis of the 

10. JCSM 288-67? Subject: U.S. Worldwide Military Posture, 20 May 67. 

228 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


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11. Ibid . The appendix to this JCSM indicated changes or additions 
to ROLLING THUNDER which were also interesting. Among these were 
to delete the 10 n.m. radius Hanoi as prohibited areas; to reduce 
the 30 n.m. restricted area around Hanoi to 10; to reduce the 

10 n.m. radius of Haiphong restrictive to k. And also to authorize 
armed reconnaissance throughout North Vietnam and adjacent coastal 
waters against North Vietnamese military targets except in 
populated areas in the ChiCom buffer zone and restricted area. 

12. CM-2278-67, Memorandum for the Director, Joint Staff, Subject: 
Alternative Force Postures, dated 26 April 1967- Also, See: 
Memorandum from Acting Secretary Nicholas deB Katzenbach to 
Mr. McNaughton re: Vietnam, 2k Apr 67. 

13. Ibid. 
Ik. Ibid. 

15. Ibid . 

16. CM-2377-67, "Alternative Courses of Action," 2k May 67. 

17. Ibid . 

18. Ibid. 

19. Ibid. 

20. COMUSMACV message 2809^02 March I967 and JCS IN 93855- 

21. CM-238I-67, Subject: Future Actions in Vietnam, dtd 29 May 67. 

22. JCSM-307-67, 1 Jun 67, Draft Memorandum for the President on 
Future Actions in Vietnam. 

23. Ibid. - 

" 2k. Ibid . 
25. Ibid. 

26. JCSM-312-67^ 2 Jun 67, Air Operations Against NVN. 

27. Ibid . 

28. Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: Alternative Mili 
tary Actions Against North Vietnam, 12 June 19&7- 

229 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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29. Note, Wm. P. Bundy to Mr. McNaughton, et al, June 2, 1967* 
Comments on DOD First Rough Draft of 19 May, dtd 30 May 6 1 /. 

30. Ibid . 

31. Ibid. 

32. Ibid . 

33- Ibid . 

3^-. Memorandum for Under Secretary of Defense Vance from Under Secre- 
tary of State Katzeribach, title: Preliminary Comments on DOD 
Draft of 19 May, dated 8 Jun 67. 

35 • Under Secretary Katzeribach, Memo for Mr. Vance, "Preliminary 
Comments on DOD Draft of 19 May," dtd June 8, 1967* 

36. Ibid . 

37. Ibid . 

38. Memorandum for Mr. McNaughton from "SRV," Subject: "DPM on Vietnam, 
and Chairman's Memo 238I-67 of 29 May," dated 8 Jun 67- 

39. Draft Memo for the President from ASD(lSA), Subject: Alternative 
• Military Actions Against North Vietnam dtd 12 Jun 67? with summary 

DPM attached. 

^" Ibid * Secretary Brown's recommendation was partially based upon 

detailed analyses which his staff had been preparing on the subject 
of anti-infiltration bombing in the North and in all route packages 
of the Air Force target complex. In a study which he forwarded to 
the SecDef on June 9th, Mr. Brown commented on the quantitative 
analyses which had been made of the effectiveness of the bombing: 

One can use the same cost and casualty estimates 
to make the subjective judgment in a different set of 
units. The above cost figures for troops and for the 
air campaign out -of- country in dollars can be expressed 
by saying that the out-of-country air campaign has paid 
for itself in dollars if it has saved us from having to 
send 35*800 more ground troops into South Vietnam in 
order to achieve the same situation in SVN that we have 
I . now. Or, it has. paid for itself in lives if it has 

saved us from having to send 19,000 more ground troops. 

Alternatively, one can compare air and ground 

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campaign casualty costs by saying that if for 
every 123 attack sorties in Route Packages IV 
through VI, or for every 557 sorties in Route 
Packages I through III, or for every 881 attack 
sorties in Laos we have reduced allied deaths in 
the South by one, they are worth their human cost. 

In terms of dollar costs, if every 1000 
attack sorties per calendar year in out -of - 
country operations reduce the requirements for 
US ground troops by about 300? they pay their 
way. If the proportionality of friendly force 
increments to enemy force increments is a cor- 
rect concept, this means that, to pay their way, 
every 1000 out -of- country sorties per year must 
account for 37 of the infiltrators who could have 
come in but didn't. 

(Memo for SecDef, June 9? 1967, from Dr. Harold Brown, 
Secretary of the Air Force re Possible Courses of Action in 

1*1. Memo for SecDef f rom ASD Robert N. Anthony, Subject: Effect 

of Increased Southeast Asia Deployment on Balance of Payments, 
dated 9 June 1967* Anthony's office used the round figure 
of $50,000 per year, per deployed man in SVN. This was the 
same figure which the SecDef and the Under SecDef used in 
their rough calculations of cost increases for recommended 
deployments. (SecDef Control No. X-U239, 11 Jul I967.) 

k2. Memorandum for SecDef from ASD(SA), "Increased Use of Civilians 
for U.S. Troop Support (c)," 13 June I967. 

lj-3. Memo for CJCS from SecDef, Subject: "increased Use of Civilians 
for U.S. Troop Support (c)," 13 Jun 67. 

kk. Ibid . See also, Memo for SecDef from ASD(SA) Alain Enthoven, 
Subject: Increased Use of SVN Civilians for U.S. Troop 
Support (C), dated 10 Jun 67 • 

1+5 • The Washington Daily News, 23 June 1967? Jim Lucas, "Partial 

k6. Memo for the Secys of the Army, Navy and Air Force from Deputy 
Secretary Vance, dated 23 June 1967; Memo for the SecDef from 
the Secy of the Navy, Subject: Jim Lucas Article, Partial 
Mobilization, dated 26 June 1967; Memo for the DepSecDef from 
Secy of the Army, Subject: Lucas Article, dated 28 June I967; 
Memo for the DepSecDef from the .Secy of the Navy, Subject: 
Lucas Article, dated 29 June 1967- 

2 31 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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^7. Neil Sheehan, "Joint Chiefs Back Troop Rise Asked by Westmoreland/' 
3 July 1967 , The New York Times. 

kQ. Ibid . Memo for SecDef from Stanley R. Resor, SecArmy, 5 July 1967. 

kS. Memo for SecDef from AsstSecDef Enthoven, Sub j : Holbrooke/Burnham 
Study on Binh Chanh, dtd k Jul 67- 

50. Discussion concerning adding an additional rifle company to 33 
battalions already deployed had persisted since early May when 
Secretary McNamara questioned the Secretary of the Army about the 
seventy battalions in Program k and discovered that approximately 
30 had moved with only three companies. If this was so, he asked 
should not a fourth be added? (SecDef Control ^o. X-2637 , Memoran- 
dum for the Secretary of the Army from the Secretary of Defense, 
dtd 2 May 67.) 

Secretary of the Army, Stanley R. Resor, replied that 
according to the Army there remained 33 airborne infantry or air- 
mobile infantry battalions in or approved for deployment to the 
Republic of Vietnam for which a fourth rifle company had not been 
approved. He subsequently recommended that a fourth company be 
added to these 33 battalions. To provide and sustain this increase 
in capability he projected that an increase of 7>903 spaces in the 
Army trained military strength would be required. Of this, 5,577 
were required for the companies themselves and 3? 326 were for the 
sustaining base. After detailed deliberation, however, McNamara 
disapproved the request stating that although he was "inclined to 
approve the deployment of these companies it. would not be possible 
to find space trade-offs for the 5,577 personnel involved." (Memo 
for SecDef, Sub j : Program k Strength Increases, dated 20 May 67 > 
ASD(SA) 6-1733; Memo for SA from SecDef, Sub j : Rifle Companies 
for South Vietnam, dated 15 Jun 67.) 

51. Encl to Memo for SecDef from ASD(SA) Enthoven, Sub j : Current 
Estimate of Additional Deployment Capability, 5 Jul 67. 

52 • Ibid. Interview with Mr. Philip Odeen, Southeast Asia Programs 
Division, OASD(SA), 20 Jul 1968. 

53. Saigon Briefing Notes, 7-8 July, Prepared by OASD(SA), 18 Jul 67 

5U. Ibid . 

55. Ibid . (Bunker's source here, of course, was MACV.) 

56. Ibid . 

57. Ibid. 

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58. Ibid .; COMUSMACV's Overall Assessment. 

59. Ibid , 

60. Ibid . 

61. Ibid .; "J2 Assessment." 

62. Ibid. 

63. Ibid . 

6U. Ibid. ; "J3 Briefing." 

65. Ibid. 

66. Ibid . 

67. Ibid . 

68. Interview with Mr. Philip Odeen, 20 Jul 68 , and Memo for Record, 
Subject: Fallout from SecDef Trip to South Vietnam, dated July 13, 
1967 5 signed by Alain Enthoven. 

69- See also Memo for Record, Brehm, Subject: SEA Deployments, dtd 
July Ik, 1967? which outlines the decisions made in Saigon and 
directs work priorities and assignments for OASD(SA). 

70. Memo for SecDef from Mr. Richard C. Steadman, DASD, Sub j : Addi- 
tional Third Country Forces for Vietnam, dtd 13 Jul 67, with memo 
for Secys Rusk, McNamara and Mr. Walt Rostow and Under Secretary 
Katzenbach, Sub j : Messages to Manila Nations dtd 13 Jul 67 attached. 

71. Ibid. 

72. JCSM kl6-67, Subject: U.S. Force Deployments - Vietnam, dtd 20 Jul 67 

73. 0ASD/SA/P0deen, Memo. for SecDef, 21 Jul 67, Sub j : FY 68 Force 
Requirements for SVN (Program #5)- 

7^. Memo for CJCS from SecDef, Sub j : FY 68 Force Requirements for 

South Vietnam (Program #5) dtd 10 Aug 67; and Memo for Secys of 
Mil Depts, CJCS, ASD from the ASD(SA), Subject: SEA Deployment 
Program #5, 1*+ Aug 67. 

75. Note to Control Division, DJS, 6 Sept 1967, Subject: Examination 
of Speed-up in Program 5 Deployments. 

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

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76. DJSM 1118-67, 9 Sept 1967, Subject: Examination of Speed-up in 
Program 5 Deployments. 

77. CM 26U0-67, 12 Sept 1967. 

78. Secretary of the Army Memo for Secretary of Defense, 16 Sept 1967, 
Subject: Deployment Schedule for 101st Airborne Division (-) 

79. Secretary of Defense Memo for Secretary of the Army, 22 Sept 1967, 
Subject: Deployment of 101st Airborne Division (-) (u) 

80. JCSM- 505-67, 15 September 1967, Subject: US Force Deployments in 
Vietnam (u) . 

81. Secretary of Defense Memo for Secretaries of the Military Depart- 
ments and CJCS, 5 October 1967, Subject: FY 68 US Force Deployments, 
Vietnam (u) 

82. COMUSMACV Msg 31998, 2815OOZ Sept 67, Subject: Reorientation of 
In-Country Forces. 

83. Ibid., p2 

8k. Ibid ., pp 3-U 

85. Secretary of Defense Memorandum for the President, k October 1967. 

86. Secretary of the Army Memo for Secretary of Defense, 16 Oct I967, 
Subject: Deployment of 101st Airborne Division (-). 

87. Secretary of Defense Note for Record, 17 October 1967. 

88. Secretary of the Army Memo for Secretary of Defense, 20 Oct 1967, 
Subject: Early Deployment of the 101st Airborne Division (-). 

89. Secretary of Defense Memo for Secretary of the Army, 21 October 1967, 
Subject: Deployment of the 101st Airborne Division (-), (u) . 

^0. Secretary of the Army Memorandum for Secretary of Defense, 31 Oct 1967, 
Subject: Deployment of the 11th Infantry Brigade. 

91. Secretary 'of Defense Memorandum for Secretary of the Army, 6 November 
1967? Subject: Deployment of the 11th Infantry Brigade. 

92. JCSM 555-67, 17 October 1967, Subject: Increased Pressure on North 
Vietnam, (u).. 

93. Ibid. 

9^. Ibid. 

234 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

95. CM-27^3-67, 7 November 1967, Subject: Program 5. 

96. CM 2752-67, 10 November 1967, Subject: Policies for the Conduct 
of Operations in SEA over the next four months. 

97. DJSM-IU09-67, 21 November 1967, Subject: Program 5 Accelerated 
Deployments (u) . 

98. JCSM-663-67, 27 November 1967, Subject-: Policies for the Conduct 
of Operations in Southeast Asia over the Next Four Months (u) . 

99. Ibid. 

235 ' TOP SECRET - Sensitive