Revised Paper by W. P. Bundy and J. McNaughton, "Courses of Action in Southeast Asia," 26 November 1964


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 656-666


Revised Draft 11/21/64
WPBundy/JMcNaughton

Revised page 11/26/64

Summary

COURSES OF ACT1ON IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

I. INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENT: THE SITUATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM

A. South Vietnam. The political situation remains critical and extremely fragile. The security situation in the countryside has continued to deteriorate.

It is possible that the new government in Saigon can improve South Vietnamese esprit and effectiveness, though on the basis of current indications this appears unlikely. It is also possible that GVN determination and authority could virtually give way suddenly in the near future, though the chances seem better than even that the new GVN can hang on for this period and thus afford a platform upon which its armed forces, with US assistance, can prosecute the war and attempt to turn the tide. Even under the best of circumstances, however, reversal of present military trends will be extremely difficult.

B. The VC and the North Vietnamese Role. The basic elements of Communist strength in South Vietnam remain indigenous, but the North Vietnamese (DRV) contribution is substantial and may now be growing. There appears to be a rising rate of infiltration.

We believe any orders from Hanoi would in large measure be obeyed by Communist forces in South Vietnam. US ability to compel the DRV to end or reduce the VC insurrection rests essentially upon the effect of US sanctions on the will of the DRV leadership, and to a lesser extent on the effect of such sanction on DRV capabilities. US-inflicted destruction in North Vietnam and Laos would reduce the elements of DRV support and damage DRV/VC morale. It might give the GVN a breathing spell and chance to improve. However, it would almost certainly not destroy DRV capabilities to continue, although at a lessened level.

If the DRV did in fact remove wholly its direction and support to the VC, the South Vietnamese could in time probably reduce the VC threat to manageable proportions. But if any DRV "removal" were superficial only, the South Vietnamese probably could not develop the capability to establish and maintain a workable and free government in South Vietnam.

Despite a large and growing North Vietnamese contribution to the Viet Cong insurrection, the primary sources of Communist strength in the South remain indigenous. Even if severely damaged, North Vietnam--should it choose--could still direct and support the Viet Cong insurrection at a reduced level. Increased US pressures on North Vietnam would be effective only if they persuaded Hanoi that the price of maintaining the insurrection in the South would be too great and that it would be preferable to reduce its aid to the Viet Cong and direct at least a temporary reduction of Viet Cong activity. *


* DIA reserves its position on the final two sentences, believing that they understate the importance of reduced North Vietnamese capabilities.


II. U.S. OBJECTIVES AND STAKES IN SOUTH VIETNAM AND SOUTHEAST ASIA

A. US objectives and the Present Basis of US Action. Behind our policy in South Vietnam and Laos have been three factors, all closely related to our overall policy of resisting Communist expansion:

1. The general principle of helping countries that try to defend their own freedom against Communist subversion and attack.
2. The specific consequences of Communist control of South Vietnam and Laos on the security of other nations in Asia.
3. The implications worldwide of South Vietnam, and, to a lesser extent, Laos as test cases of Communist "wars of national liberation."

Essentially, the loss of South Vietnam to Communist control, in any form would be a major blow to our basic policies. US prestige is heavily committed to the maintenance of a non-Communist South Vietnam, and only less heavily so to a neutralized Laos.

Yet we must face the facts that (a) there is some chance that South Vietnam might come apart under us whatever course of action we pursue; (b) strong military action necessarily involves some risks of an enlarged and even conceivably major conflict in Asia. These problems force us to weigh in our analysis the drawbacks and possibilities of success of various options, including the drawbacks of accepting only the faliback objectives set forth below.

B. Possible Alternate US Objectives. Our fall-back objectives in South Vietnam would be:

1. To hold the situation together as long as possible, so that we have time to strengthen other areas of Asia.
2. To take forceful enough measures in the situation so that we emerge from it, even in the worst case, with our standing as the principal helper against Communist expansion as little impaired as possible.
3. To make clear to the world, and to nations in Asia particularly, that failure in South Vietnam, if it comes, was due to special local factors--such as a bad colonial heritage and a lack of will to defend itself--that do not apply to other nations.

C. Consequences of Communist Control of South Vietnam

1. In Southeast Asia. The so-called "domino" theory is oversimplified. It might apply if, but only if, Communist China entered Southeast Asia in force and/or the US was forced out of South Vietnam in circumstances of military defeat. Nonetheless, Communist control of South Vietnam would almost immediately make Laos extremely hard to hold, have Cambodia bending sharply to the Communist side, place great pressure on Thailand (a country which has an historic tendency to make "peace" with the side that seems to be winning), and embolden Indonesia to increase its pressure on Malaysia. We could do more in Thailand and with the British in Malaysia to reinforce the defense of these countries, but the initial shock wave would be great.

2. In Asia Generally. The effects in Asia generally would depend heavily on the circumstances in which South Vietnam was lost and on whether the loss did in fact greatly weaken or lead to the early loss of other areas in Southeast Asia. Nationalist China (shaken already by the Chicom nuclear explosion and the UN membership crisis), South Korea, and the Philippines would need maximum reassurance. While Japan's faith in our military posture and determination might not be shaken, the growing feeling that Communist China must somehow be lived with might well be accentuated. India and Iran appear to be the Asian problem cases outside the Far East. A US defeat could lead to serious repercussions in these countries. There is a great deal we could still do to reassure these countries, but the picture of a defense line clearly breached could have serious effects and could easily, over time, tend to unravel the whole Pacific and South Asian defense structures.

3. In the World at Large. Within NATO (except for Greece and Turkey to some degree), the loss of South Vietnam probably would not shake the faith and resolve to face the threat of Communist aggression or confidence in us for major help. This is so provided we carried out any military actions in Southeast Asia without taking forces from NATO and without generating a wave of "isolationism" in the US. In other areas of the world, either the nature of the Communist threat or the degree of US commitment or both are so radically different than in Southeast Asia that it is difficult to assess the impact. The question would be whether the US was in fact able to go on with its present policies.

4. Summary. There are enough "ifs" in the above analysis so that it cannot be concluded that the loss of South Vietnam would soon have the totally crippling effect in Southeast Asia and Asia generally that the loss of Berlin would have in Europe; but it could be that bad, driving us to the progressive loss of other areas or to taking a stand at some point so that there would almost certainly be major conflict and perhaps the great risk of nuclear war.*


* The Joint Staff believes that early loss of Southeast Asia and the progressive unraveling of the wider defense structures would be almost inevitable results of the loss of South Vietnam in any circumstances.


D. ATTITUDES OF OTHER NATIONS REGARDING US ACTIONS

1. Major US Allies. We must maintain, particularly to our key NATO allies, the picture of a nation that is strong and at the same time wise in the exercise of its power. As for France, we are damned either way we go. Both Britain and, to a lesser extent, Germany sympathize in principle with our whole policy of seeking to restrain Communist Chinese expansion, and the British recognize their own specific parallel stake in the closely related problem of Malaysia. All European countries could be affected in their view of the US and their willingness to accept continued US leadership by the way we handle Southeast Asia. Despite the fact that their Far East "experts" tend to believe that Western influence in Asia is on the wane in any case, our key European allies probably would now understand our applying an additional measure of force to avoid letting the ship sink; but they could become seriously concerned if we get ourselves involved in a major conflict that degraded our ability to defend Europe and produced anything less than an early and completely satisfactory outcome.

2. "Nonaligned" Nations. In these countries, the issue is our continued ability to exert influence on these countries, to keep the peace in and among them, and to keep the waverers from wavering clear over to Communist answers. The "nonaligned" nations, with the possible exception of India, would by and large be opposed to any stronger action we might take. Indeed, they cannot be expected to support any course of action we follow in South Vietnam and Laos. A program of systematic attacks against the DRV would find many of these nations supporting a condemnatory resolution in the UN. But, as we saw in the Cuban missile crisis, the nonaligned and Afro-Asian nations will accept and even admire and be grateful for actions that achieve the result we want in a strong and wise way.

3. Summary. As for likely foreign reactions to our three possible courses of action in Part III below, it appears that Option A (continue present course indefinitely) would cause no adverse reactions but if it failed it would leave a considerable after-taste of US failure and ineptitude; Option B (fast unyielding pressure) would run major risks of sharply expressed condemnation which would be erased only if the course of action succeeded quite clearly and in a reasonable time; Option C (progressive pressure-and-talk) would probably be in-between in both respects.

III. THE BROAD OPTIONS

A. Option A would be to continue present policies indefinitely: Maximum assistance within South Vietnam, limited external actions in Laos and by the GVN covertly against North Vietnam, specific individual reprisal actions not only against such incidents as the Gulf of Tonkin attack but also against any recurrence of VC "spectaculars" such as Bien Hoa. Basic to this option is the continued rejection of negotiations.

B. Option B would add to present actions a systematic program of military pressures against the north, with increasing pressure actions to be continued at a fairly rapid pace and without interruption until we achieve our present stated objectives. The actions would mesh at some point with negotiation, but we would approach any discussions or negotiations with absolutely inflexible insistence on our present objectives.

C. Option C would add to present actions on orchestration of (1) communications with Hanoi and/or Peiping, and (2) additional graduated military moves against infiltration targets, first in Laos and then in the DRV, and then against other targets in North Vietnam. The military scenario should give the impression of a steady deliberate approach, and should be designed to give the US the option at any time to proceed or not, to escalate or not, and to quicken the pace or not. These decisions would be made from time to time in view of all relevant factors. The negotiating part of this course of action would have to be played largely by ear, but in essence we would be indicating from the outset a willingness to negotiate in an affirmative sense, accepting the possibility that we might not achieve our full objectives.

IV (old V) ANALYSIS OF OPTION A

Option A is a continuation of present policies, with the additional element of deciding to have reprisal action not only against another Gulf of Tonkin incident, but against any repetition of a spectacular attack by the VC within South Vietnam, particularly but not solely an attack involving US forces or installations.

As far as they go, Option A actions are in fact common to all three Options, and would be pursued with equal force under Option B or Option C. It is basic that the situation in the south be improved by all possible means whatever else we do.

A. Actions within South Vietnam. There is a great deal that can be done to improve GVN performance and to strengthen the whole pacification program. We must continue to seek additional third-country contributions (though these will probably remain limited). We are working to improve the key police program, military tactics, the air effort, the economic program including a stronger emphasis on the cities, etc. We continue to reject the introduction of US combat forces or a US taking over of command-but short of such changes in policy we are working as hard as we can on all major avenues for improvement.

The point is that the effectiveness of all such measures depends on having an increasingly effective GVN, with sustained government and popular morale. We do not yet have this, though we have hopes that the present government will settle down and become effective over a period of 2-4 months. The issue is whether this can happen if we do no more than Option A over this period.

B. Actions Outside South Vietnam. We would in any event continue and intensify the various covert forms of action against North Vietnam, and the various Lao and US actions in Laos, adding GVN air and ground action in Laos on a limited scale. We would also conduct reprisals as indicated above.

C. Prognosis. The above actions will not physically affect the DRV scale of infiltration, nor do we believe they would affect Hanoi's determination and will. They might, however, keep the DRV from engaging in further spectaculars, and thus keep the scale of the conflict in the south within some limits.

The question is whether the GVN could start to make real and visible headway on these terms, with no indication on the US side that we were prepared to go further. We think that reprisal actions would tend to lift GVN morale and performance for a time, but their lifting effect would decline with each successive case. For a period of time, perhaps some months, this Option might keep the GVN afloat and even get it moving slowly toward effectiveness. Most of us doubt that it can do more than that.

D. Negotiating Avenues. We ourselves would be rejecting negotiation, as at present, at the outset.

But this still leaves the chance that the GVN itself, or individual South Vietnamese in potentially powerful positions, might at any time start discussions with Hanoi or the Liberation Front. If the situation continued to deteriorate, the chances of this taking place would increase. If it did, Hanoi might not insist on early US withdrawal, but the way would be paved for a Vietnamese "deal" that would end up with the US being withdrawn and a coalition government with Communist representation installed in Saigon. The odds would be heavy that over time such a government--as in Poland in 1946-47--would be taken over by the Communist element, and eventually merged with the north into a unified Communist Vietnam.

We might stand aside in such a process, which would at least avoid our name going into the deal. Alternatively, if the situation was deteriorating beyond repair, we might seek to cover a retreat by accepting negotiations, most likely through a Geneva conference that would improve the above deal by adding elements of international supervision that might stretch out the process of Communist control and buy time.

E. Pros and Cons of Option A. There is clearly a case for Option A as a means of buying a short period of time. We would have gone the last mile in restraint, and in putting the show up to the Vietnamese. We would be giving the Sino-Soviet relationship time to clarify--which we think would be a reaffirmed deep split. And we could hope for some improved GVN performance before we did more. But the odds are against the latter, and on balance it seems more likely we would later have to decide whether to take Options B or C under even worse circumstances.

As an indefinite course of action, Option A appears to offer little hope of getting Hanoi out or an independent South Vietnam re-established. Its sole advantages would be that (a) defeat would be clearly due to GVN failure, and we ourselves would be less implicated than if we tried Option B or Option C, and failed; (b) the most likely result would be a Vietnamese-negotiated deal, under which an eventually unified Communist Vietnam would reassert its traditional hostility to Communist China and limit its own ambitions to Laos and Cambodia. In such a case . . . whether the rot spread to Thailand would be hard to judge; it seems likely that the Thai would conclude we simply could not be counted on, and would accommodate somehow to Communist China even without any marked military move by Communist China.

V (old VI) ANALYSIS OF OPTION B

a. Rationale and Preparatory Actions.

The basic headings of preparatory action are the same as for Option C.

b. Opening Military Actions.

The opening military actions under Option B would be major air attacks on key targets in the DRV, starting with the major Phuc Yen airfield.

c. Early Negotiating Actions.

Even though we would be taking a totally inflexible position on negotiating, we would have to deal with channels of communication, the UN, and perhaps-- despite our strong opposition--a re-convened Geneva conference of some sort.

d. Probable Communist Responses.

The possible Communist responses again fall under three headings, but with different orders of likelihood than under Option C.

1. It is still considered unlikely that Hanoi would really yield, at least in the early stages.
2. The chances are significantly greater than under Option C that Hanoi might retaliate at least by limited air attacks in South Vietnam, possibly an offensive in Laos, conceivably a ground offensive into South Vietnam, and-least likely but necessarily to be considered-Chicom ground action into Laos primarily.
3. The most likely general course of action would still be for Hanoi to hold firm, doing its utmost to stimulate condemnation of our actions, but possibly trying to pretend that it had reduced its activity in the south.

e. In the Event of the Third Type of Communist Response, Likely Developments and Problems.

1. Within South Vietnam, the initial reaction to attacks on the DRV would probably be one of elation, and there would probably be a spurt of more effective GVN performance.

However, as in Option C, there would be offsetting factors that would come into play, and still leave us with a continuing danger that the situation would resume its present deteriorating course. The Vietnamese people are clearly war-weary. Probably they would hold fairly firm under Option B, perhaps firmer than under Option C once the latter became entwined with real negotiations. But there is the lesser chance that things would weaken.

Either for this reason, or because Hanoi was not caving-the latter in almost any event-we would be driven to up the ante militarily.

2. Our further increases in military pressure would then be the same generally as under Option C, but applied considerably more rapidly and toughly. And at this point, the odds would necessarily start to increase that Hanoi, no longer able to temporize, would either start to yield by some real actions to cut down, or would move itself to a more drastic military response.

3. Our position internationally could become very difficult at this point. We must face the fact that we would incur a really serious barrage of criticism including the dominant public opinion in some of our key allies such as the UK. Our influence might not be drastically affected on such issues as MLF and NATO, where the issues are less affected by popular opinion, but the effect could be much more serious on such opinion-related issues as the Kennedy Round, African views on Communist China, etc., etc.

f. Likely Developments and Problems if the Communist Side Engaged in Major Retaliation At Some Point.

Right from the outset, this course of action would entail some chance of a Communist military response against the south. Furthermore, as we move to the stage of "further increases of military pressure," the chance of the more severe types of response would increase. These, and the required responses, are covered in the Military Annex.

g. Possible Over-all Outcomes.

1. At best, conceivably in the early stages, but much more likely only afterwe had engaged in the further military pressures covered under E above, Hanoi might decide that the pain it was incurring was greater than the gains of continuing its present strategy in South Vietnam. They might be ready to sit down and work out a settlement in some form that would give us a restoration of the 1954 agreements, hopefully supplemented by more effective international machinery and guarantees to maintain such a settlement.

2. At worst, South Vietnam might come apart while we were pursuing the course of action. In such a case, we would be in the position of having got into an almost irreversible sequence of military actions, but finding ourselves fighting on behalf of a country that no longer wished to continue the struggle itself.

3. Between these two outcomes, there is much less chance than under Option C that the struggle would continue indecisively for a considerable period. We could find ourselves drawn into a situation where such military actions as an amphibious landing in the DRV--proposed as one of our further actions--moved us very far toward continuing occupation of DRV soil. Alternatively, the volume of international noise and desire for a peaceful settlement could reach the point where, in the interest of our world-wide objectives, we would have to consider accepting a negotiation on terms that would be relatively but not necessarily wholly favorable to the attainment of our full objectives.

h. Pros and Cons of Option B.

Pros

1. Option B probably stands a greater chance than either of the other two of attaining our objectives vis-a-vis Hanoi and a settlement in South Vietnam.

2. Our display of real muscle in action would undoubtedly have a salutary effect on the morale of the rest of non-Communist Asia.

3. The course of military events vis-a-vis Communist China might give us a defensible case to destroy the Chinese Communist nuclear production capability.

Cons

1. This course of action has considerably higher risks of major military conflict with Hanoi and possibly Communist China.

2. If we found ourselves thus committed to a major military effort the results could be extremely adverse to our position in other areas, and perhaps to American resolve to maintain present world-wide policies, unless we achieved a clearly satisfactory outcome in a fairly short time.

VI (old VII) ANALYSIS OF OPTION C

A. Rationale and Preparatory Actions. The rationale of Option C is explained in para III C above. The stated basis for our action would be that documented DRV illegal infiltration of armed and trained insurgents, and over-all DRV direction and control of VC insurgency, had now reached an intolerable level and that it was now necessary to hit at the infiltration from the DRV and to bring pressure on Hanoi to cease this infiltration and direction. The immediate preparatory actions (consistent with all three options) are set out in Part VII (old IX) below. Under this Option C, the following preparatory action should be taken:

1. A firm Presidential statement setting forth our rationale.

2. Information actions, surfacing useable information on DRV infiltration and direction.

3. Consultation with leaders of Congress (no new Resolution needed).

4. Talks with the GVN explaining our plans, providing for GVN participation, and insisting that the GVN "shape up."

5. Appropriate consultation and talks with allies and neutrals--especially the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines and Laos.

B. Early Military Actions. There would be advantages if Option C could be initiated following either another "Bien Hoa" or at least strong additional evidence of major infiltration. Absent these "pegs," the actions, in addition to any reprisal actions required from time to time, would be these:

1. Intensification of GVN sea harassment, one or more US destroyer patrols, Lao strikes on infiltration targets in Laos, high-level recce of the DRV, and shallow GVN ground actions in Laos.

2. US air strikes on infiltration targets in Laos, including Route 7.

3. US/VNAF low-level reconnaissance in southern DRV.

4. US/VNAF air strikes against infiltration targets in southern DRV (after removal of US dependents and taking security measures in SVN). In addition to such actions, there is an issue whether we should at an early stage make a significant ground deployment to the northern part of South Vietnam, either in the form of a US combat force (perhaps a division) or a SEATO-members force including at least token contingents from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Thailand, and the Philippines. Such a force is not a military requirement--at least until or unless the DRV threatened a ground move to the south--but there is a strong political argument that it would demonstrate resolve and also give us a major bargaining counter in negotiations.

C. Early Negotiating Actions.

1. UN. We would have to defend our position in the Security Council in any case. We would hope that this could be a brief proceeding and we believe that the reactions would be such as to make it crystal clear that the UN could not act usefully. (The latter point would be useful to meet critics in the US.)

2. We would resist any formal Geneva conference on Vietnam, since the mere convening of such a conference would have serious morale effects.

3. We would use all available channels to Hanoi and Peiping to make clear our objectives and our determination.

4. At the same time, we would watch and listen closely for reactions from Hanoi and Peiping. If these showed any signs of weakening in their positions, we would then try to follow up as quietly as possible to see what they had in mind. At this stage we would be insisting on three fundamentals: (a) that the DRV cease its assistance to and direction of the VC; (b) that an independent and secure GVN be reestablished; and (c) that there be adequate international supervising and verification machinery. (These fundamentals would not be fully spelled out; in practice they leave room for minor concessions at later stages.)

D. Probable Communist Responses to Initial Military Actions.

There are three possible Communist responses to the above initial military actions:

1. Yield visibly (quite unlikely).
2. Retaliate militarily--e.g., by air attacks against South Vietnam or by an offensive in Laos (initially unlikely).
3. Hold firm while stimulating condemnation of US by world opinion, and, if in negotiations, take a tough position (most likely).

E. If Hanoi Holds Firm. The initial reaction in South Vietnam to attacks on the DRV would probably be one of elation and might cause a spurt of more effective performance. We would try to capitalize on any improvement in the GVN situation by pressing harder for acceptance of our initial negotiating position, continuing (not needing to step up) our military pressures and trying to establish a "common law" justification for attacks on infiltration and other limited targets in the DRV. But the elation in South Vietnam would probably wane if the war dragged on, and deteriorating trends would probably resume. *


* The Joint Staff believes there is less chance that deterioration would resume and more chance that a listing upward trend .in SVN would come about.


In this case, we would have to decide whether to intensify our military actions, modify our negotiating positions, or both. A second phase in our military pressure would here include (5) extension of the target system in the DRV to include additional targets on the "94 target list," (6) aerial mining of DRV ports, and (7) a naval quarantine of the DRV. Any visible modification of our negotiating position at this point would create a major problem, in that key nations on both sides would suspect that we were getting ready for a way out. Hence, any such modifying moves would have to be synchronized with military actions. (Simultaneously, we should strengthen and reassure the nations of the area, possibly involving major additional deployments there.)

Meanwhile, even if the Communists did not attack South Vietnam, they might take steps to reduce our initial advantage by improving air defenses in North Vietnam, deploying Chinese ground forces southward, and hardening their propaganda (thus hardening their public commitment).

F. If the Communist Side Engaged in Major Military Retaliation. We reckon major Communist retaliation to be unlikely in the early stages, although a sharp US/GVN reprisal or a Communist misreading of our intent could change this estimate. In the second phase of military action, there would be a progressively increasing chance of major Communist military response.

The more serious Communist responses are (1) stepped-up VC activities in South Vietnam, (2) air attacks on South Vietnam, (3) DRV ground offensive in South Vietnam or Laos, and (4) Chicom ground offensive in Southeast Asia. The US plans and capabilities to counter these Communist responses are contained in the Military Annex to this memorandum.

G. Possible Over-all Outcomes. The variable factors are too great to permit a confident evaluation of how the Option C course of action would come out. At best: To avoid heavy risk and punishment, the DRV might feign compliance and settle for an opportunity to subvert the South another day. That is, a respite might be gained. At worst: South Vietnam might come apart while we were pursuing the course of action. In between: We might be faced with no improvement in the internal South Vietnam situation and with the difficult decision whether to escalate on up to major conflict with China.

H. Pros and Cons of Option C. Option C is more controllable and less risky of major military action than Option B. Being a "stretched out" course of action, however, it is likely to generate criticism in some quarters. It is more likely than Option A to achieve at least part of our objectives, and, even if it ended in the loss of South Vietnam, our having taken stronger measures would still leave us a good deal better off than under Option A with respect to the confidence and willingness to stand firm of the nations in the next line of defense in Asia.

VII (old IX) IMMEDIATE ACTIONS OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

To bolster South Vietnamese morale and to convey a firm signal to Hanoi and Peiping, we need in any event a program of immediate actions during the coming weeks. The following program could be conducted for a period of four weeks or might be extended to eight weeks or longer as desired:

A. A strong White House or Presidential statement following the meeting with Ambassador Taylor, with the disclosure of the evidence of increased DRV infiltration to be included or to follow promptly.
B. An order stopping the sending of further dependents to Vietnam.
C. Stepped-up air operations in Laos against infiltration targets particularly.
D. Increased high-level reconnaissance of the DRV.
E. Starting low-level reconnaissance of the DRV.
F. A small number of strikes just across the DRV border against the infiltration routes.
G. A destroyer patrol in the Tonkin Gulf and also (but separately) intensified GVN maritime operations along present lines.
H. Major air deployments to the Philippines and at sea, in position to hit North Vietnam.
I. At any time, reprisal air strikes against the DRV might be undertaken for a spectacular DRV or VC action whether against US personnel or not. Reprisals would be linked to DRV activity, and the scale of the reprisal action would be determined on a flexible basis in accordance with the magnitude of the hostile action.

In conjunction with the above sequence of actions, we would consult with the GVN to "shape up" in every possible way, through intensifying all present programs, putting military forces on a totally wartime operations basis, tightening security in Saigon and elsewhere, etc.

Congress and our major allies would have to be consulted at an early stage. Our basic rationale would be that the increasing DRV infiltration required this degree of action.

None of these actions are inconsistent in theory with a decision to stick with Option A at least for the next few months. Nonetheless, to the degree they foreshadow stronger action, they would tend to have diminishing effect on GVN performance unless taken concurrently with at least an internal US government decision that we were ready to move to Option C early in 1965 unless the situation changed.


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