Memorandum from McNamara on JCS Targeting Study, 31 August 1964

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 555-556.

31 AUG 1964


SUBJECT: JCSM-729-64: Target Study--North Vietnam

1. I have examined with great interest and satisfaction your recent analysis of the 94 targets in North Vietnam. The detail and precision with which you have described and defined the targets, the attack objectives, and the weapons and sorties required to accomplish those objectives testify to the care with which you have undertaken your task and the weeks of effort which you have devoted to it. Earlier versions of your target studies have already proved to be of great value in connection with the recent reprisals against North Vietnam.

2. Would there be sufficient stocks of ordnance and POL in the theater to carry out OPLAN 32, Phase IV, after carrying out the largest pattern of attack shown in your memorandum (paragraph 8d)?

3. I should like to receive, within the next several weeks, your views concerning the economic and military effect upon North Vietnam of the patterns of attack contemplated. To put the matter more precisely, assume that attacks 8b, c and d were carried out and that the attacks resulted in the damage levels described in your target studies. In these circumstances, what would be your estimate:

(a) Of the effects upon the capabilities of North Vietnam

i. to support and assist the PL and VC.
ii. to escalate through the use of DRV forces against SVN and Laos.

(b) Of the effects upon the economy of North Vietnam (in terms of such factors as internal transportation, imports and exports, industrial production and food production and distribution) within the short run (say three months) and in the long-run (say five years).

4. If the destruction of the 94 targets were not to succeed in its objective of destroying the DRV will and capability, what courses of action would you recommend? Would you recommend further attack on the 94 targets or the addition of more targets? What preparations would be necessary (e.g., target analysis, logistics) in order to carry out such attacks?

Robert S. McNamara

Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Vietnam War Page