Memorandum, JCS 5390 (M/Gen F. T. Unger), "Planning Actions in Vietnam," 18 March 1964

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, p. 510

FM: JCS 5390 (M/Gen F. T. Unger)


Refs: a. JCS 5375;
b. OPLAN34A;
c. OPLAN33;
d. OPLAN99;
e. JCS2343/326-6.

Subj: Planning Actions, Viet Nam

1. As a result of approval of recommendations in paragraph 12, section VII, reference a, planning for military actions in support of RVN has been identified in the following categories:

a. Border control actions
b. Retaliatory actions
c. Graduated overt military pressures.

In light of the above, planning for current and future military actions in support of the RVN must be aligned with the appropriate categories. It is appreciated that elements of several of these actions are contained in several extant plans (refs b, c, and d); however, these must now be drawn together in a cohesive plan or plans to permit sequential implementation as may be desired by higher authority within categories above. JCS views on operations in para C above are contained in ref e.

2. The product of the new planning should include:

a. Mission and objectives
b. Time-phased US and GVN deployments, pre-positioning and augmentation required to implement envisaged operations, as well as to deter enemy reaction, within the time parameters of para 12, Section VII, ref a. (Time parameters are now under review and may be changed.)
c. Complete target lists together with desired damage criteria as well as impact on enemy capability; or specific objective area.
d. Actions to be taken in event of enemy escalation.
e. US support required for unilateral RVNAF operations.
f. Reconnaissance operations and planning.

3. Planning should be in such detail as to permit review of individual actions or small increments in progressing through operations outlined above. As a matter of urgency, it is requested that planning be undertaken in the following order: border control actions, retaliatory actions, and graduated overt military pressures, and that elements of planning be forwarded to the JCS as completed. Request ASAP your schedule for completion of planning actions.

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