Cable, CINCPAC to Joint Chiefs of Staff on Planning for Future Contingencies, 25 September 1964

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 569-570

FM: CINCPAC 25 Date: 25 September 1964


1. FYI, I have sent the following message to my component commanders: "For Gen. Waters, Adm. Moorer, Gen. Harris from Sharp

"1. The political situation in RVN is now so unstable as to raise some serious questions about our future courses of action. For example, we may find ourselves suddenly faced with an unfriendly government or no government at all. U.S. personnel in Vietnam, both dependent and military, may find themselves isolated and in danger. Saigon itself may become untenable.

"2. The above are illustrative contingencies which may develop in which event CINCPAC will be called on both for recommendations and for action. Conceivably the decision could be one of disengagement. In this case the problem would be how to go about it in such a way as to salvage the maximum in terms of safety of U.S. lives, recoupment of material and national pride.

"3. On the other hand the decision might be to remain in Vietnam in order to maintain a foothold on the mainland. This latter course would once again raise the question of a U.S. base in Vietnam and what it would take to man and hold it.

"4. Though we have not yet reached a point where these decisions might be made, events are moving rapidly and it is essential that we consider as a matter of urgency our future in RVN in the light of all possible contingencies, bearing in mind that any course of action we follow will have a direct and possibly final bearing on the U.S. role in Southeast Asia.

"5. Request your views on specific actions which we might take in event of:

A. A national decision to disengage in RVN.
B. A national decision to maintain a U.S. foothold in the country.
C. A national decision to take a stronger hold on the SVN government together with increased U.S. participation in SVN and offensive actions against NVN.

"6. Any other thoughts you might have on other actions which might be taken."

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