McNamara Report of Meeting in Honolulu with William Bundy, McNaughton, Taylor, Wheeler, Sharp, and Westmoreland, 21 April 1965


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 705-706


21 April 1965: W. Bundy, JTM and I met with Amb Taylor, Wheeler, Sharp and Westmoreland in Honolulu on April 20. Following is my report of that meeting.

1. None of them expects the VC to capitulate or to come to a position acceptable to us, in less than six months. This is because they believe that a settlement
April 17, 1965 will come as much or more from VC failure in the South as from DRV pain in the North, and that it will take more than six months, perhaps a year or two, to demonstrate VC failure in the South.

2. With respect to strikes against the North, they all think that the present tempo is about right, that sufficient increasing pressure is provided by repetition and continuation. All of them envisioned a strike program continuing at least six months, perhaps a year or more, avoiding the Hanoi-Haiphong-Phuc Yen areas during that period. There might be fewer fixed targets, or more restrikes, or more armed reconnaissance missions. Amb Taylor stated what appears to be a shared view; that it is important not to "kill the hostage" by destroying the NVNese assets inside the "Hanoi donut." They all believe that the strike program is essential to our campaign-both psychologically and physically--but that it cannot be expected to do the job alone. They all considered it very important that strikes against the North be continued during any talks.

3. None of them sees a dramatic improvement in the South in the immediate future. Their strategy for "victory" over time, is to break the will of the DRV/VC by depriving them of victory. Amb Taylor put it in terms of a demonstration of Communist impotence, which will lead eventually to a political solution. They see slow improvement in the South, but all emphasized the critical importance of holding on and avoiding--for psychological and morale reasons--a spectacular defeat of GVN or US forces. And they all suspect that the recent VC lull is but the quiet before a storm.

4. To bolster the GVN forces while they are building up, they all recommend the following deployments in addition to the 2000 Koreans and 33,500 US troops already in-country (including the 4 Marine battalions at Danang-Hue):

(13 US battalions: 82,000; ROK and ANZAC 4 bns: 7250. Possible later deployments, not recommended now; US Airmobile div (15,800), rest of Korean division, rest of MEF 24,800).

McNamara


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