Memorandum to the President With Statistics for the Military Situation in Vietnam, Probably Prepared by McNamara, 22 January 1966


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 624-625


Memo for the President: 22 January 1966

Statistics for the Military Situation in Vietnam:

June 1965, December 1965, June 1966, December 1966

Over those four dates, U.S. strength, respectively:

59,900 or nine battalions
178,034 battalions
277,846 battalions
367,875 battalions

VC over those four dates:

63 battalions
107 battalions
150 battalions
155 battalions

ARVN (excluding paramilitary):

128 battalions
133 battalions
168 battalions
173 battalions

Bombs Dropped--tons:

30,000
31,000
51,000
68,000

Total U.S. Sorties (nearest thousand):

9,000
16,000
20,000
24,000

. . . The enemy can be expected to level off at more than 150 battalion equivalents by 1966. . . . The requirements have to be an expansion of enemy forces
to 150+ battalions at M66 should approximate 40-140 tons a day, depending on the level of combat. There is evidence that the volume of infiltration the system would otherwise handle has been halved by our bombing programs . . . Nevertheless, the reduction in enemy initiatives in Laos may be attributable to their need to husband their resources for their South Vietnam effort. Nevertheless, the enemy can probably infiltrate between 50 and 300 (an average of 200) tons of supplies a day depending on the season, considerably more than the 40-140 tons a day they will need.

Final Evaluation

Odds are about even that, even with the recommended deployments (up to a total of 95 combat battalions by December 1966) we will be faced in early 1967 with a military standoff with a much higher level, with pacification still stalled, and with any prospect of military success, marred by the chances of an active Chinese intervention.


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