The Pentagon Papers
Chapter 2, "U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968," pp. 277-604.
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1971)
Section 1, pp. 277-320
18 Jun 65 Memo from McGeorge Bundy to SecDef
Bundy passes on President's desires that "we find more dramatic and effective action in South Vietnam."
1 Jul 65 Draft Memo for the President
SecDef recommends 44 battalions (34 U.S.) to Vietnam in next few months. Says Westmoreland is not sure about requirements for 1966.
2 Jul 65 Memo for General Goodpaster from ASD(JSA) McNaughton
Secy McNaughton suggests questions to be addressed by JCS study on assurance of winning the war.
7 Jul 65 SecDef message to Saigon 072352Z Jul 65
SecDef gives Westmoreland questions he will want answered on his trip--includes probable requirements for additional forces in 1966.
12 Jul 65 Memo for the Record, Subj: 63 Battalion Plan
SecDef memorandum for the record calls for building up the armed forces by 63 battalions.
14 Jul 65 Intensification of the Military Operations in Vietnam-Concept and Appraisal
JCS study on concept and appraisal of assurance of winning goes to SecDef.
16-20 Jul 65 SecDef in Saigon, receives Westmoreland's requirements.
17 Jul 65 Message from Secy Vance to SecDef McNamara 072042Z Jul 65
Vance informs McNamara that President has approved 34 Battalion Plan and will try to push through reserve call-up.
20 Jul 65 Memo for the President, Subj. Recommendations of Additional Deployments to Vietnam
SecDef recommends 34 U.S. battalions to SVN in 1965 (Phase I) with possible need for 100,000 additional troops in 1966 (Phase II).
22 Jul 65 MACV message 220625Z Jul 65
MACV recommends 101,712 personnel and 27 battalions for Phase II.
28 Jul 65 Presidential News Conference
President announces build-up in Vietnam; no reserve call-up.
30 Jul 65 JCSM-590-65
JCS figures show total strength after Phase II to be 61 maneuver battalions and 298,287 personnel.
27 Aug 65 JCSM 652-65
JCS recommend their concept for Vietnam. Concept envisions seizing initiative in Phase IL
3 Nov 65 Draft Presidential Memo
SecDef recommends proceeding with Phase II (now 28 additional battalions and 125,000 personnel) in conjunction with ROLLING THUNDER in an effort to force DRV/VC toward an acceptable solution.
10 Nov 65 JCSM 811-65
JCS refine concept for Vietnam, recommend Phase II force requirements and estimate probable results at the end of Phase II.
14 Nov 65 Battle of Ia Drang Valley begins.
17 Nov 65 MACV 40748 to DIA
General Westmoreland reports that PAVN inifitration has been greater than previously estimated.
23 Nov 65 COMUSMACV 41485 to CINCPAC
General Westmoreland analyzes implications of increased infiltration for his Phase II requirements. Begins planning on Phase IIA (add-on)
23 Nov 65 SecDef 4539-65 to Saigon
SecDef outlines questions to be asked of Westmoreland during his trip to Saigon on 28-30 November.
28-30 Nov 65 Secretary of Defense in Saigon.
30 Nov 65 Draft Memo for the President
SecDef states that original Phase II increment is not enough to seize the initiative, recommends an increase of 40 US battalions during Phase II.
7 Dec 65 Memo for the President
SecDef recommends a total of 74 U.S. battalions and 400,000 personnel by the end of 1966; warns that an additional 200,000 may be necessary in 1967.
13 Dec 65 SecDef Multi-Addressee Memo
SecDef disseminates tables showing Phase IIdeployments, bringing U.S. strength to 75 battalions and 367,800 by December 1966, 393,000 personnel by June 1967.
16 Dec 65 CINCPAC Letter Ser: 000473
CINCPAC sends revised requirements for Phase IIA, desires 75 battalions and 443,000 by December 1966.
1 Jan 66 173rd Airborne Brigade begins Operation MARAUDER in Hau Nghia Province near Cambodia border.
8 Jan 66 173rd Airborne Brigade units and 1st US Infantry Division launch Operation CRIMP in Hau Nghia and Binh Tuong Provinces.
15 Jan 66 Memo for SecDef
Case 3 assumes availability of CONUS forces and activations only. Case 2 adds drawdowns from overseas areas. Case 1 further adds callup of selected reserve Units and extension of terms of service.
19 Jan 66 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, begins Operation VAN BUREN, in Phu Yen Province.
24 Jan 66 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry, launches Operation MASHER/WHITE WING near Bong Son in Binh Dinh Province.
4 Jan 66 Memo for the President
SecDef estimates U.S. strength at end of 1966 at 75 battalions and 367,800 troops.
28 Jan 66 U.S. Marine Corps units launch DOUBLE EAGLE in Quang Ngai Province.
7-9 Feb 66 Honolulu Conference with Ky and President Johnson.
12 Feb 66 CJNCPAC 3010 Ser: 00055
CINCPAC forwards revised version of requirements for SE Asia, and deployment plans under the assumptions of Cases 1, 2, and 3.
17 Feb 66 SecDef Multi-Addressee Memo, Subj: SE Asia Planning Assumptions
SecDef directs Military Departments and the JCS to study possible ways of meeting Case 1 deployment schedule without calling reserves or extending tours of duty.
21 Feb 66 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, begins Operation HARRISON, in Phu Yen Province.
1 Mar 66 JCSM 130-66
JCS reply they cannot meet Case 1 deployment schedule without calling up reserves. Recommend stretch out of deployment into 1967.
7 Mar 66 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and 173d Airborne Division launch Operation SILVER CITY, a 17-day search and destroy operation in the Bien Duong and Long Khanh Provincial border area.
9 Mar 66 Estimated NVA regiment overwhelms Ashau Special Forces camp at Thua Thien Province.
10 Mar 66 SecDef Memo to CJCS
SecDef directs planning on the basis of Case I schedule without call-up of reserves or extension of terms of service.
10 Mar 66 GVN National Leadership Committee votes to remove Lt Gen Thi from his post as I Corps Commander. Demonstrations protesting Thi's ouster signalled the start of long political turbulence.
19 Mar 66 USMC units launch Operation TEXAS in Quang Ngai Province.
4 Apr 66 JCSM 218-66
Guidelines for assumptions on availability of forces for SE Asia. JCS reply to SecDef giving a program reflecting the Services' "current estimate of their capabilities to provide forces required . . . (and meeting) as closely as feasible the program for South Vietnam prescribed" by the SecDef on 10 March.
11 Apr 66 SecDef Multi-Addressee Memo, Subj: SE Asia Deployment Plan
SecDef approves Deployment Plan recommended by JCS in JCSM 218-66.
12 Apr 66 SecDef Memo for CJCS
SecDef requests an explanation of differences between JCSM 218-66 and the Case I Deployment Plan.
24 Apr 66 Elements of 1st Infantry Division launch Operation BIRMINGHAM. The 24-day search and destroy operation involving the deepest friendly penetration in 5 years into War Zone C in Tay Ninh Province.
10 May 66 Elements of 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, launch Operation PAUL REVERE, an 82-day border screening area control operation in Pleiku Province.
16 May 66 Elements of 1st Cavalry Division launch 22-day Operation CRAZY HORSE in Binh Dinh Province.
2 Jun 66 Elements of 1st Infantry Division begin Operation EL PASO II. 41-search and destroy operation in Binh Long Province.
2 Jun 66 1st Brigade, 10 1st Airborne Division, launches Operation HAWTHORNE, a 19-day search and destroy operation in Kontum Province.
10 Jun 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: Report on Deployments to SEA
ASD Enthoven reports that a large number of adjustments to deployment plan have been proposed by the Army.
13 Jun 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: Deployments to SE Asia
Enthoven explains major bookkeeping changes in deployment schedules.
18 Jun 66 CINCPAC 3010 Ser: 000255
CINCPAC's CY 66 and CY 67 requirements based upon a concept which now emphasizes restricting access to the land borders of RVN and increased efforts in the highlands and along the western RVN border. CINCPAC envisions a rise to 90 maneuver battalions and 542,588 personnel by end of CY 67.
28 Jun 66 President's Memo for SecDef
Requests SecDef and JCS to see if any more acceleration of deployment is possible.
30 Jun 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: SE Asia Deployment Plan
Revised version of 10 April plan indicates acceleration of deployment of 2 brigades of the 9th Division to December 1966, and deployment of 196th Infantry Brigade in August 1966.
2 Jul 66 SecDef Multi-Addressee Memo, Subj: SE Asia Deployment Plan
Revised 10 April Plan, now named "Program #3," is published.
7 Jul 66 USMC units launch Operation HASTINGS, a 27-day search and destroy operation against the 324B NVA Division south of the DMZ.
8 Jul 66 JCSM 450-66, Subj: CINCPAC Calendar Year Deployments
JCS report that further acceleration is unlikely.
15 Jul 66 SecDef Memo for the President, Subj: Schedule of Deployments to South Vietnam
SecDef reports to the President on the acceleration achieved since the beginning of the year.
16 Jul 66 Operation DECK HOUSE in eastern Quang Tri Province is conducted in support of HASTINGS.
1 Aug 66 1st Cavalry Division units launch 25-day search and destroy operation, PAUL REVERE II in Pleiku.
3 Aug 66 SAIGON 2564
Lodge quotes Westmoreland as agreeing with him on urgent desirability of hitting pacification hard while other things are going well.
5 Aug 66 JCSM 506-66
JCS forwards CINCPAC's requirements for CY 66 and 67. Recommend that almost all of them be accepted.
5 Aug 66 SecDef Memo to CJCS
SecDef directs JCS to evaluate CINCPAC's requirements and also Issue Papers referred for SecDef by Systems Analysis.
8 Aug 66 SAIGON 2934 to Secy of State
Lodge reports an upsurge of enemy infiltration thru the DMZ and passes on Westmoreland's KANZUS recommendation.
10 Aug 66 MACV 27578
Westmoreland passes on his evaluation of the requirements for warded by CINCPAC. "I cannot justify a reduction in requirements submitted."
10 Aug 66 SAIGON 3129
Lodge points out the need for making a strong effort now to make sure "the smell of victory" is in the air. He reemphasizes the need for pacification.
17 Aug 66 SAIGON 3670
Porter in Saigon informs Komer of anti-inflationary measures and points out possible problem areas, including US military piaster budget.
23 Aug 66 CINCPAC sends MACV its draft strategy for 1966 and 1967.
The proposed strategy emphasizes pacification and nation building.
24 Aug 66 Interagency Roles and Missions Study Group Final Report
Roles and Missions Study Group report points out need for pacification. Makes several recommendations to improve pacification effort.
26 Aug 66 MACV 29797
Westmoreland in cable to CINCPAC describes his concept of operations for the rest of the year. He describes his strategy during the period 1 May to 1 November 1966 that of containing the enemy through offensive tactical operations; describes his strategy for 1 November 1966 to 1 May 1967 as increasing momentum of operations in a general offensive with maximum practical support to area and population security in further support of revolutionary development. He visualizes that significant numbers of US/FW maneuver battalions will be involved in pacification. In addition to emphasizing pacification, Westmoreland emphasizes need to fight against enemy main forces.
31 Aug 66 SAIGON 4923
Lodge points out efforts being taken in Saigon to emphasize pacification. He begins to express reservations on need for more troops.
2 Sep 66 SecDef Memo for CJCS
SecDef asks CJCS to explore carefully all desirable tradeoffs between piaster funding of GVN and US armed forces in SVN.
7 Sep 66 JCS 1975 to CINCPAC
JCS informs CINCPAC of Jason Plan for aerial supported anti-infiltration barrier.
11 Sep 66 GVN elections.
13 Sep 66 Cite Unknown
CINCPAC comments on anti-infiltration barrier proposed by Jason study. Doubts practicality of scheme.
13 Sep 66 MACV 41191 to CINCPAC
Westmoreland discusses build-up in Quang Tn Province. Requests authority to use B-52 strikes.
13 Sep 66 1st Cavalry Division launches 40-day search and destroy Operation THAYER I in Binh Dinh Province.
14 Sep 66 196th Infantry Brigade begins 72-day search and destroy Operation ATTLEBORO in Tay Ninh Province, which grows into largest operation of war to date. Other US units involved included all three brigades of the 1st Infantry Division, the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Division, the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, and 1 battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
15 Sep 66 SAIGON 6100
Embassy gives their latest data on inflation in SVN; forecast a 44.1 billion piaster inflationary gap in CY 67.
16 Sep 66 MACV 41676
Westmoreland discusses Slam concept designed to impede enemy infiltration thru Laos.
20 Sep 66 MACV 8212
Westmoreland conveys his concern over enemy forces in sanctuaries to Admiral Sharp.
22 Sep 66 CM-I 774-66
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells SecDef that piaster costs per man of US forces are several times those of GVN forces. However, he does not see any piaster advantages from feasible exchanges.
23 Sep 66 State 53541 to Saigon
State calls news of size of inflationary gap in Saigon's 15 September message very disturbing.
24 Sep 66 MACV 8371 to Sharp and Wheeler
Westmoreland reviews VC/NVA's recent campaign and assesses the effectiveness of US campaigns. Does not mention pacification.
24 Sep 66 JCSM 613-66
JCS forward their final evaluation of CINCPAC's 18 June submission and the results of their evaluation of the SecDef's Issue Papers, from 5 August.
29 Sep 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef
Enthoven tells SecDef he is reviewing JCSM-613-66 and forwards some new deployment Issue Papers to Secretary of Defense.
1 Oct 66 SAIGON 7332
Lodge, in a message to Rusk, McNamara and Komer, sets forth his proposal on piaster ceilings. Sets a piaster ceiling of 42 billion on military spending in South Vietnam.
2 Oct 66 MACV 43926
MACV recommends to CINCPAC and JCS deployment of Caltrop for operational tests ASAP.
5 Oct 66 MACV 44378
Westmoreland submits his reclama to Lodge's proposal for a piaster budget ceiling.
5 Oct 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef
Dr. Enthoven analyzes Lodge's message of 1 Oct for SecDef. Points out differences in spending associated with different deployments small relative to other uncertainties. Terms Lodge's estimates on holding inflation down optimistic.
6 Oct 66 SecDef Memo for CJCS
SecDef forwards another set of deployment Issue Papers to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
7 Oct 66 JCSM-646-66
Joint Chiefs of Staff forward their evaluation of world-wide military posture and the effects which deployments to SVN will have upon same.
10 Oct 66 the 3rd US Marine Division assumes control of Operation PRAIRIE in Quang Tri Province. This is the first Division-controlled operation in I CTZ.
14 Oct 66 Draft Presidential Memo, Trip Report, Actions Recommended for Vietnam
SecDef recommends force levels stabilize at 470,000, that US stabilize ROLLING THUNDER, deploy a barrier and gird itself for a long haul.
14 Oct 66 JCSM-672-66
Joint Chiefs of Staff submit their comments on SecDef's memorandum for the President. Do not agree with 470,000-man limitation. Are doubtful on feasibility of the barrier, reserve judgment until they receive detailed programs being prepared by CINCPAC.
18 Oct 66 Elements of 4th Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division, launch 74-day Operation PAUL REVERE IV, in Pleiku Province.
20 Oct 66 CINCPAC 3010 Ser: 000438
CINCPAC forwards results of the Honolulu Planning Conference. Recommend a build-up to 91 maneuver battalions and 493,969 personnel by end of CY 67. Total strength after filling out will be 94 battalions and 555,741 personnel.
23 Oct 66 CINCPAC Ser: 000455
CINCPAC forwards three alternative deployment plans and their associated piaster costs.
23-25 Oct 66 Manila Conference.
26 Oct 66 ASD(ISA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: "McNaughton in Manila"
McNaughton gives his report of conversations with Westmoreland on force levels and ROLLING THUNDER. Says Westmoreland is thinking of an end-CY 67 strength of 480,000.
4 Nov 66 JCSM 702-66, "Deployment of Forces to Meet CY 67 Requirements"
Joint Chiefs of Staff forward report of Honolulu Planning Conference.
7 Nov 66 AB 142, Combined Campaign Plan, 1967
MACV and RVNAF JGS set forth campaign plan for 1967. Plan emphasizes pacification.
9 Nov 66 ASD(SA) Memo for SecDef
Enthoven outlines his "Program 4," bringing strength to 87 battalions and 469,000 troops by June 1968.
11 Nov 66 SecDef Memo for CJCS, "Deployments to SEA"
SecDef responds to JCS recommendations in JCSM 702-66, and sets forth guidelines for Program 4 essentially as recommended by Enthoven.
17 Nov 66 Draft Presidential Memo, "Recommended FY 67 SEA Supplemental Appropriation"
SecDef sets forth in some detail his reasoning behind the deployment plan now called "Program 4."
18 Nov 66 SecDef Memo for Secys of Military Departments, C/JCS, Asst Secys of Def
Transmits tables of deployments which were authorized on 11 November 1966.
2 Dec 66 JCSM 739-66, "Deployments to SEA and other PACOM Areas"
JCS asked direct substitution of units to provide "balanced forces."
9 Dec 66 Memo for CJCS from SecDef, Subj: "Deployments to SEA and other PACOM Areas"
Approves direct substitution within 470,000 man ceiling.
22 Dec 66 DCPG memo for SecDef, Subj: "Plan for Increased Anti-Infiltration Capability for SEA"
Established intent and guidance for planning barrier concept.
2 Jan 67 COMUSMACV 00610
MAC V's year-end assessment of enemy situation and strategy.
8 Jan 67 Operation CEDAR FALLS. Begins longest operation of war to date in terms of forces employed.
21 Feb 67 Memo from DepSecDef to Under Sec State, Subj: "Military Action Programs for SEA"
Forwarded DOD input to analysis of alternative strategies prepared for the President. Incorporated various separate proposals made by JCS over past two months.
22 Feb 67 JCSM 97-67, Subj: MACV Practice Nine Requirements Plan
JCS forwards and comments on MACV manpower and logistics requirements to implement barrier plan. Recommends plan not be approved.
22 Feb 67 CM-2134-67, "PRACTICE NINE Requirements Plan, dated 26 Jan 1967"
CJCS forwards his dissent to JCSM 97-67. Recommends implementation of plan.
18 Mar 67 COMUSMACV message 09101
MACV analysis of current force requirements submitted to CINCPAC. "Optimum force" of 42/3 divisions; "minimum essential force" of 2½ divisions.
20-21 Mar 67 Guam Conference. Bunker, Locke, Komer introduced to Vietnamese leaders.
24 Mar 67 JCS message 59881
Requested CINCPAC/MACV detailed analysis and justification for additional forces.
28 Mar 67 COMUSMACV 10311
Forwarded MACV detailed justification and planning calculations to JCS.
7 Apr 67 Task Force OREGON formed, posted to Quang Ngai Province.
14 Apr 67 JCSM-208-67, Subj: Marine Corps Reinforcement of I Corps Tactical Zone
Proposed 2 brigades from 9th MAB be stationed off Vietnamese coast to be committed when required by COMUSMACV, remainder of MAB placed on 15-day call in Okinawa.
20 Apr 67 JCSM-218-67
Formally reported to SecDef the MACV force requirements.
25-27 Apr 67 General Westmoreland returns to US, consults with President.
1 May 67 OASD(ISA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: Increase of SEA forces
Detailed analysis of MACV force request. Recommended against adding more US combat forces.
9 May 1967 NSAM 362
All pacification efforts placed under MACV. Komer named Deputy for Pacification to COMUSMACV.
19 May 1967 Draft Memorandum for President, Subject: Future Actions in Vietnam
ASD(ISA) reviews situation in Vietnam, analyzes alternative military courses of action, argues against force level increases, proposes strategy of "slow progress."
20 May 1967 JCSM 286-67, "Operations Against North Vietnam"
JCS seriously concerned at the prospective introduction by the USSR into NVN of new weapons. Proposed neutralization of Hanoi-Haiphong complex by attacking all elements of the import system of NVN, "shouldering out" foreign shipping, mining port.
20 May 1967 JCSM 288-67, "US Worldwide Military Posture"
JCS recommend selective callup of reserves so US could more effectively fulfill worldwide commitments.
23 May 1967 Memo for CJCS, Subject: Combat Service Support Staffing in SVN
SecDef requested JCS to prepare detailed study analyzing in depth CSS staffing levels in SVN.
24 May 1967 CM 2278-67, "Alternative Courses of Action"
JCS reply to 26 April memo by DepSecDef. Concluded that (a) force levels recommended in JCSM 218-67 should be deployed; (b) a more effective air/naval campaign against NVN should be conducted as recommended in JCSM 218-67.
29 May 1967 CM 2381-67, Future Actions in Vietnam
Identifies certain factual corrections and annotations in COMUSMACV 18 March "minimum essential force" request.
1 June 1967 JCSM 306-67, Draft Memorandum for the President on Future Actions in Vietnam
JCS reply to 19 May DPM, expressed strong objections to basic orientation as well as specific recommendations and objectives. Saw "alarming pattern" which suggested a major realignment of US objectives and intentions in SEA, recommended that DPM "not be considered further."
2 June 1967 JCSM-312-67, Air Operations Against NVN
JCS response to SecDef memo of 20 May. Concluded that original recommendation of 20 May represented the most effective way to prosecute air/naval campaign against NVN.
2 June 1967 Note, Wm. P. Bundy to Mr. McNaughton
Comments on 19 May DPM. Expressed general agreement with basic objectives as stated in DPM, but agreed with JCS that DPM displayed a negative turn to our strategy and commitment in SVN.
8 June 1967 Memorandum for Under SecDef (sic) Vance from UnderSecState Katzenbach, Subject: Preliminary Comments on DOD Draft of 19 May
Comments on 19 May DPM. Recommended increase of 30,000 men in small increments over 18 months, get GVN more fully involved and effective, concentrate bombing LOCs in the north.
12 June 1967 ASD (ISA) Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: Alternative Military Actions Against NVN
Revised DPM incorporated views of JCS, CIA, State. Opposed JCS program, recommended concentrating bulk of bombing on infiltration routes south of 20th parallel, skirted question of ground force increase.
13 June 1967 Memo for CJCS from SecDef, Subj: Increased Use of Civilians for US Troop Support (C)
Requested JCS to determine which logistical requirements could be met by increased use of SVN civilians for US troop support.
5 July 1967 Memo for SecDef from ASD(SA), subject: Current Estimate of Additional Deployment Capability
Update of original estimate of what Army could provide. Approx. 32/3 DE could be provided to MACV by 31 Dec 68 without calling reserves.
7-8 July 1867 SecDef in SVN receives MACV justification.
13 July 1967 Memo for Record, Subj: Fallout from SecDef Trip to SVN
ASD(ISA) memo for the record indicates decision in Saigon to increase forces to 525,000 limit.
13 July 1967 Memo for SecDef from Richard C. Steadman, DASD, Subject: Additional Third Country Forces for Vietnam
Provided series of letters to Manila countries making clear the need for additional forces.
14 July 1967 Memo for Record, Subj: SEA Deployments
ASD(SA) outlined the decisions made in Saigon and directed work priorities and assignments for OASD(SA) to flesh out the 525,000 troop limit.
20 July 1967 JCSM 416-67, Subject: US Force Deployments--Vietnam
JCS provide detailed troop list within 525,000 ceiling. Reaffirmed force requirements as set forth in JCSM 288-67.
26 July 1967 Memo from DepSecDef to CJCS, Subj: Operations Against NVN
Comments on JCSM 286-67.
22 Jul-5 Aug 1967 General Taylor, Mr. Clifford tour troop contributing
countries, seek additional third-country forces.
14 Aug 1967 ASD(SA) Memo for Secys of Mu Depts, CJCS, ASDs, Subject: SEA Deployment Program #5
Formally approved forces for deployment in Program 5. Established civilianization scheduled, approved additional 5 destroyers for gunfire support.
9 Sept 1967 DJCSM 1118-67, Subj: Examination of Speed-Up in Program 5 Deployments
Joint Staff examined possible actions to speed up Program 5 deployments.
12 Sept 1967 CM 2640-67
Joint Staff requested by President to indicate actions which would increase pressure on NVN.
15 Sept 1967 JCSM-505-67
JCS forward refined troop list for Program 5.
16 Sept 1967 SecArmy Memo for SecDef, Subject: Deployment Schedule for 101st Airborne Division (--)
Div (--) could be deployed to close in VN prior to Christmas.
22 Sept 1967 SecDef Memo for SecArmy, Subj: Deployment of 101st Airborne Division (--)
Approves accelerated deployment of 101st Airborne Div(--).
28 Sept 1967 MACV message 31998
MACV plan for reorienting in-country forces.
4 Oct 1967 SecDef Memo for the President
SecDef indicated actions taken on MACV recommendations contained in message 31998.
5 Oct 1967 SecDef memo for Secys of Mil Depts, CJCS, ASDs
SecDef approves force deployments listed in JCSM 505-67.
16 Oct 1967 SecArmy memo for SecDef, Subj: Deployment of 101st Airborne Division (--)
SecArmy indicates that remainder of 10 1st Airborne Division can be accelerated to close in Vietnam by 20 December 1967.
17 Oct 1967 JCSM-555-67
JCS forward to President through SecDef their reply to questions raised on 12 September.
21 Oct 1967 SecDef memo for SecArmy, Subject: Deployment of the 101st Division (--)
SecDef approves accelerated deployment of remainder of 101st Airborne Division.
31 Oct 1967 SecArmy memo for SecDef, Subject: Deployment of 11th Infantry Brigade.
SecArmy indicates that Brigade could be deployed on or about 10 December.
6 Nov 1967 SecDef memo for SecArmy, Subject: Deployment of the 11th Infantry Brigade
SecDef approves early deployment of the 11th Infantry Brigade.
7 Nov 1967 CM-2743-67
CJCS directs Joint Staff to explore what further foreshortening of deployment dates could be accomplished.
10 Nov 1967 CM-2752-67
CJCS directs Joint Staff to recommend military operations in SEA for next four months.
21 Nov 1967 DJSM-1409-71
Joint Staff reply to CJCS request of 7 Nov to explore foreshortening of deployment dates.
27 Nov 1967 JCSM-663-67
JCS provide SecDef their recommendations for conduct of military operations in SEA over next four months.
22 Dec 1967 ASD(ISA) memo to CJCS.
Forwards SecDef and SecState comments on JCSM 663-67.
26 Jan 1968 MACV message 61742
COMUSMACV year-end assessment.
31 Jan 1968 TET offensive begins.
12 Feb 1968 JCSM-91-68
JCS examine plans for emergency augmentation of MACV, recommended deployment of reinforcements be deferred.
13 Feb 1968 JCS Message 9926
Directs deployment of brigade task force of 82nd Airborne Division to SVN.
13 Feb 1968 JCS Message 9929
Directs deployment of one Marine regimental landing team to SVN.
13 Feb 1968 JCSM-96-68
JCS forward to SecDef recommendations for actions to be taken relative to callup of reserves.
23-26 Feb 68 CJCS visit to SVN.
27 Feb 1968 Report of CJCS on Situation in SVN and MACV Force Requirements
CJCS reports on his trip to SVN and furnishes MACV Program 6 force requirements.
1 Mar 1968 Clark Clifford sworn in as Secretary of Defense.
4 Mar 1968 Draft Memorandum for the President
Forwards recommendations of SecDef Working Group to the President.
8 Mar 1968 CM-3098-68
JCS forward COMUSMACV comments on DPM.
11-12 Mar 68 SecState testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
14 Mar 1968 DepSecDef memo for CJCS, Subject: SEA Deployments
DepSecDef informs CJCS of Presidential decision to deploy 30,000 additional troops.
14 Mar 1968 SecArmy memo to SecDef
SecArmy indicated requirement for 13,500 additional men to support emergency reinforcement.
16 Mar 1968 ASD(SA) Memo for Record
Summarizes decision to deploy 43,500 additional troops and plans for reserve call-up.
22 Mar 1968 Gen. Westmoreland to be new Chief of Staff of the Army.
23 Mar 1968 OASD(SA) Memo for SecDef, Subj: Program #6 Summary Tables (Tentative)
Forwarded to SecDef for approval Program 6, based on manpower ceiling of 579,000.
26-27 Mar 68 General Abrams in Washington, confers with President.
30 Mar 1968 Dept of State msg 139431
Announces Presidential decision to US Ambassadors in troop contributing countries.
31 Mar 1968 Remarks of President to the Nation
President announces partial bombing halt, deployment of 13,500 additional troops.
3 Apr 1968 White House Press Release
Hanoi declares readiness to meet. U.S. accepts.
4 Apr 1968 DepSecDef memo for Secys of Mil Depts, CJCS, ASD's, Subj: SEA Deployment Program #6
DepSecDef establishes Program #6, placed new ceiling of 549,500 on U.S. forces in SVN.
I. PHASE II, JULY 1965-MAY 1966
A. PRELUDE TO PHASE II
The story of the Phase II build-up begins near the end of the chain of events which led to the decision, announced on 28 July 1965, on a Phase I build-up to 44 Free World battalions. Sparked by the news that the Viet Cong were building up their strength, that ARVN was doing badly on the battlefield, and that the President desired "that we find more dramatic and effective actions in South Vietnam," Secretary of Defense McNamara prepared to decide what forces would be necessary to achieve the goals of the United States in Vietnam. The history of the decision on the size and composition of the forces to be deployed during the time remaining in 1965, termed Phase I forces, is the subject of another study in this series. However, there were some events and decisions taken in this period which were to influence the decisions on Phase II forces. While Secretary McNamara was preparing for his 16-20 July trip to Saigon to discuss the build-up of American forces in Vietnam, he asked General Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for an assessment of "the assurance the U.S. can have of winning in South Vietnam if we do everything we can." The results of the study, which General Wheeler directed to be prepared by an ad hoc study group with representation from the Office of the Chairman, the Chairman's Special Studies Group, DIA, J-3, and the Joint War Games Agency, were given to Secretary McNamara on 14 July. The study group's assessment was a conditional affirmative. "Within the bounds of reasonable assumptions . . . there appears to be no reason we cannot win if such is our will--and if that will is manifested in strategy and tactical operations."
At the same time, Secretary McNamara asked Assistant Secretary McNaughton to work with the study group to suggest some of the questions that occurred to him. McNaughton's memorandum to General Goodpaster is included in full.
MEMORANDUM FOR GENERAL GOODPASTER
Assistant to the Chairman, JCS
SUBJECT: Forces Required to Win in South Vietnam
Secretary McNamara this morning suggested that General Wheeler form a small group to address the question, "If we do everything we can, can we have assurance of winning in South Vietnam?" General Wheeler suggested that he would have you head up the group and that the group would be fairly small. Secretary McNamara indicated that he wanted your group to work with me and that I should send down a memorandum suggesting some of the questions that occurred to us. Here are our suggestions:
1. I do not think the question is whether the 44-battalion program (including 3d-country forces) is sufficient to do the job, although the answer to that question should fall out of the study. Rather, I think we should think in terms of the 44-battalion build-up by the end of 1965, with added forces--as required and as our capabilities permit--in 1966. Furthermore, the study surely should look into the need for forces other than ground forces, such as air to be used one way or another in-country. I would hope that the study could produce a clear articulation of what our strategy is for winning the war in South Vietnam, tough as that articulation will be in view of the nature of the problem.
2. I would assume that the questions of calling up reserves and extending tours of duty are outside the scope of this study.
3. We must make some assumptions with respect to the number of VC. Also, we must make some assumptions with respect to what the infiltration of men and material will be especially if there is a build-up of US forces in South Vietnam. I am quite concerned about the increasing probability that there are regular PAVN forces either in the II Corps area or in Laos directly across the border from II Corps. Furthermore, I am fearful that, especially with the kind of build-up here envisioned, infiltration of even greater numbers of regular forces may occur. As a part of this general problem of enemy build-up, we must of course ask how much assistance the USSR and China can be expected to give to the VC. I suspect that the increased strength levels of the VC and the more "conventional" nature of the operations implied by larger force levels may imply that the often-repeated ratio of "10 to 1" may no longer apply. I sense that this may be the case in the future, but I have no reason to be sure. For example, if the VC, even with larger forces engaged in more "conventional" type actions, are able to overrun towns and disappear into the jungles before we can bring the action troops to bear, we may still be faced with the old "ratio" problem.
4. I think we might avoid some spinning of wheels if we simply assumed that the GVN will not be able to increase its forces in the relevant time period. Indeed, from what Westy has reported about the battalions being chewed up and about their showing some signs of reluctance to engage in offensive operations, we might even have to ask the question whether we can expect them to maintain present levels of men-or more accurately, present levels of effectiveness.
5. With respect to 3d-country forces, Westy has equated the 9 ROK battalions with 9 US battalions, saying that, if he did not get the former, he must have the latter. I do not know enough about ROK forces to know whether they are in all respects "equal to" US forces (they may be better in some respects and not as good in others). For purposes of the study, it might save us time if we assumed that we would get no meaningful forces from anyone other than the ROKs during the relative time frame. (If the Australians decide to send another battalion or two, this should not alter the conclusions of the study significantly.)
6. I would hope that we can minimize the amount of the team's creative effort that must go into analyzing the ROLLING THUNDER program or such proposals as the mining of the DRV harbors. Whether we can or not, of course, depends a good deal on the extent to which we believe that the ROLLING THUNDER program makes a critical difference in the level of infiltration (or perhaps the extent to which it puts a "ceiling" on logistical support) and the time lag in the impact of such things as a quarantine of DRV harbors. My suggestion is we posit that the ROLLING THUNDER program will stay at approximately the present level and that there will be no mining of the DRV harbors. My own view is that the study group probably should not invest time in trying to solve the problem by cutting off the flow of supplies and people by either of these methods. I do not know what your thoughts are about the wisdom of investing time in the proposal that ground forces be used to produce some sort of an anti-infiltration barrier.
7. Is it necessary for us to make some assumption with respect to the nature of the Saigon government? History does not encourage us to believe that Ky's government will endure throughout the time period relevant to the study. Ky's behaviour is such that it is hard to predict his impact-he could, by his "revolutionary" talk and by his repressive measures generate either a genuine nationalist spirit or a violent reaction of some sort. I would think that the study must make some observation, one way or the other, as to things which might happen to the government which would have a significant effect on the conclusions of the study. My own thought is that almost anything within the realm of likelihood can happen in the Saigon government, short of the formation of a government which goes neutral or asks us out, without appreciably affecting the conduct of the war. The key point may be whether the Army rather than the government holds together.
8. One key question, of course, is what we mean by the words "assurance" and "win." My view is that the degree of "assurance" should be fairly high- better than 75% (whatever that means). With respect to the word "win," this I think means that we succeed in demonstrating to the VC that they cannot win; this, of course, is victory for us only if it is, with a high degree of probability, a way station toward a favorable settlement in South Vietnam. I see such a favorable settlement as one in which the VC terrorism is substantially eliminated and, obviously, there are no longer large-scale VC attacks; the central South Vietnamese government (without having taken in the Communists) should be exercising fairly complete sovereignty over most of South Vietnam. I presume that we would rule out the ceding to the VC (either tacitly or explicitly) of large areas of the country. More specifically, the Brigadier Thompson suggestion that we withdraw to enclaves and sit it out for a couple of years is not what we have in mind for purposes of this study.
9. At the moment, I do not see how the study can avoid addressing the question as to how long our forces will have to remain in order to achieve a "win" and the extent to which the presence of those forces over a long period of time might, by itself, nullify the "win." If it turns out that the study cannot go into this matter without first getting heavily into the political side of the question, I think the study at least should note the problem in some meaningful way.
10. I believe that the study should go into specifics--e.g., the numbers and effectiveness and uses of the South Vietnamese forces, exactly where we would deploy ours and exactly what we would expect their mission to be, how we would go about opening up the roads and providing security for the towns as well as protecting our own assets there, the time frames in which things would be done, command relationships, etc. Also, I think we should find a way to indicate how badly the conclusions might be thrown off if we are wrong with respect to key assumptions or judgments.
As to timing, the Secretary said he would like to have a "quick answer" followed by a "longer-term answer." He set no specific dates; I gather that he expects your team to work as fast as you reasonably can.
General Vogt and General Seignious of ISA are available to work with you on this project, as am I.
Sgd: John T. McNaughton
The McNaughton memorandum is of interest because it demonstrates several important items. First, the fact that the question about assurance of winning was asked indicates that at the Secretary of Defense level there was real iwareness that the decisions to be made in the next few weeks would commit the U.S. to the possibility of an expanded conflict. The key question then was whether or not we would become involved more deeply in a war which could not be brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Secondly, the definition of "win," i.e., "succeed in demonstrating to the VC that they cannot win," indicates the assumption upon which the conduct of the war was to rest--that the VC could be convinced in some meaningful sense that they were not going to win and that they would then rationally choose less violent methods of seeking their goals. But the extent to which this definition would set limits of involvement or affect strategy was not clear.
Thirdly, the assumptions on the key variables (the infiltration rates, the strength of GVN forces, the probable usefulness of Third Country Forces, the political situation in South Vietnam) were rightfully pessimistic and cautious. If they were to be taken seriously, the conclusions of the Study Group were bound to be pessimistic. If the Study Group was to take a "positive attitude," they were bound to be ignored. The latter inevitably happened.
The study outlined the strategy as follows:
a. Presently organized and planned GVN forces, except for present GVN national reserve battalions, possibly augmented by a limited number of ranger and infantry battalions, retain control over areas now held, extend pacification operations and area control where possible, defend critical installations and areas against VC attack and seek out and destroy Viet Cong militia units.
b. US and Allied forces, in conjunction with the GVN national reserve, by offensive land and air action locate and destroy VC/PAVN forces, bases and major war-supporting organizations in South Vietnam.
5. a. Under this concept the RVNAF, now hard-pressed by the Viet Cong summer offensive, would continue to regroup battle-damaged units and build up total strengths. For the most part they would be relieved, except for the national reserve (6 Airborne Battalions, 5 Marine Battalions), of offensive actions against main force units and would concentrate their efforts on maintaining and extending the present GVN area control. They would defend important installations from attack and would conduct offensive operations against local VC militia units. As the situation might allow, selected units would participate with the national reserve battalions in operations against VC main force units in order to engender the buildup of an offensive spirit within the RVNAF.
b. US and Allied forces would occupy and secure bases at which their major items of heavy equipment, such as aircraft, would be stationed. Thereafter they would operate in coordination with the RVNAF reserve battalions to seek out and destroy major Viet Cong units, bases and other facilities. Individual units would rotate between security tasks and mobile offensive operations. Secure base areas would be expanded by deep patrolling.
The JCS Study Group estimated that this strategy would have the following results:
Military operations in SVN. Presently organized and planned GVN forces, except for reserve battalions (possibly including a limited number of ranger and infantry battalions), would retain control over areas now held, extend pacification operations and area control where permitted by the progress of major offensive operations, defend critical installations and areas against VC attack and seek out and eliminate VC militia units. US, SVN, and Third-Country forces, by offensive land and air action, would locate and destroy VC/DRV forces, bases and major war-supporting organizations in SVN. The cumulative effect of sustained, aggressive conduct of offensive operations, coupled with the interdiction of DRV efforts to provide the higher level of support required in such a combat environment, should lead to progressive destruction of the VC/DRV main force battalions.
As can be seen, the strategy was essentially that which has governed the conduct of the war ever since. However, it did not take escalatory reactions into account nor did it address the problems of pacification or rural development.
The strategic concept which the JCS developed was predicated on their estimate of what strength was available to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, and on their judgment about what the enemy was trying to do with his forces. The estimate of enemy strength given in the Study Group's 14 July 1965 report was that the Viet Cong organized combat units consisted of 10 regimental headquarters, 65 battalions, 188 companies, for a total strength of approximately 48,500. The 101st Regiment, 325th PAVN Division, with its subordinate battalions, is included in this total. In addition, 17,600 personnel were considered to be engaged in combat support type operations. At that time, the Viet Cong were continuing to expand their control in rural areas and had succeeded in isolating several provincial and district towns from the bulk of the rural population. Their apparent willingness to accept large casualties in offensive engagernents indicated the manpower shortage did not currently exist. Intelligence estimates of PAVN's capability of intervening overtly in South Vietnam across the Demilitarized Zone was that PAVN could do so with approximately three divisions against moderate opposition. If PAVN were to try to introduce units into South Vietnam covertly through the Laotian Corridor, it is estimated he would be able to introduce 1 to 2 additional divisions by the end of 1965. The estimate admitted that the purpose and role of PAVN units were not certain and might well have changed since their initial deployment. Perhaps Hanoi had wanted a PAVN force on the spot in the eventuality that the Saigon government collapsed, and perhaps Hanoi wanted to assure itself the VC would not collapse in the face of the US military commitment, or, more likely, Hanoi may have wanted to assist the VC in increasing the tempo of its campaign and in hastening a victory. At that time, it appeared that there was no intention of employing the PAVN units as a division; rather, they would assist the recurrent VC strategy of widespread harassment and terrorism punctuated with multi-battalion spectaculars.
The manner in which the probable requirements for additional forces were derived is of interest. The critical assumption was "that the VC/NVA can mount simultaneous attacks in each GVN corps area not to exceed one reinforced regimental (4 battalions) attack and one single battalion attack at any given time." From this, a simple numerical calculation, based upon the assumption that a 4 to 1 superiority would provide a high probability of victory, resulted in the requirement for Free World offensive maneuver battalions. When added to the number needed for base defense, the result was the total of required Free World battalions. If U.S. forces were to be placed in all four Corps Tactical Zones, a total of 35 additional battalions would be needed to secure bases and gain the 4 to 1 advantage desired. If the U.S. effort were limited to the area north of Saigon, only 7 additional battalions would be needed. It would seem that this requirement was very sensitive to rates of infiltration and recruitment by the VC/NVA, but very little analysis was, in fact, given to the implications of the capabilities of the VC/NVA in this regard.
B. McNAMARA GOES TO SAIGON--A DECISION ON II
1. Westmoreland Proposals
On 7 July 1965, Secretary McNamara cabled Westmoreland to lay out the purpose of his visit to Saigon and some of the questions which he would like to have answered.
The main purpose of our visit will be to receive from you your recommendations for the number of U.S. combat battalions, artillery battalions, engineering battalions, helicopter companies, tactical aircraft, and total military personnel to be assigned to South Vietnam between now and the end of this year; . . . [and] the probable requirements for additional forces next year.
This request for "probable requirements for additional forces next year" seemed to be an attempt to improve the quality of planning figures for 1966. In his 1 July Draft Memorandum for the President, McNamara quoted Westmoreland as saying that he "cannot now state what additional forces may be required in 1966 to gain and maintain the military initiative . . . Instinctively, we believe that there may be substantial U.S. Force Requirements." The memorandum went on to comment that "He [COMUSMACV] has a study underway, with a fairly solid estimate due in early August. The number of battalions ultimately required could be double the 44 mentioned above.
According to the MACV Command History of 1965, General Westmoreland answered Secretary McNamara's question about forces required in 1966 during the Secretary's Saigon visit. General Westmoreland "anticipated that a need would exist for an increase of 24 maneuver battalions, 14 artillery battalions; 3 air defense (Hawk) battalions; 8 engineer battalions; 12 helicopter companies; 6 helicopter battalions, and additional support units." As reconstructed by the MACV Command History, this requirement was predicated upon a concept of operations in South Vietnam and upon a three phased plan:
COMUSMACV's objective was to end the war in RVN by convincing the enemy that military victory was impossible and to force the enemy to negotiate a solution favorable to the GVN and the US. To secure these objectives, US/FWMA forces would be built up and then employed to wrest the initiative from the enemy, secure vital areas and support the GVN in expanding its control over the country.
The overall concept was based on three assumptions:
(1) That the VC would fight until convinced that military victory was impossible and then would not be willing to endure further punishment.
(2) That the CHICOM's would not intervene except to provide aid and advice.
(3) That friendly forces would maintain control of the air over RVN.
The concept visualized a three-phase operation:
Phase I--The commitment of US/FWMA forces necessary to halt the losing trend by the end of 1965.
Phase II--The resumption of the offensive by US/FWMA forces during the first half of 1966 in high priority areas necessary to destroy enemy forces, and reinstitution of rural construction activities.
Phase III--If the enemy persisted, a period of a year to a year and a half following Phase II would be required for the defeat and destruction of the remaining enemy forces and base areas.
Specific military tasks were associated with the objective of each phase.
(1) Secure the major military bases, airfields and communications centers.
(2) Defend major political and population centers.
(3) Conduct offensive operations against major VC base areas in order to divert and destroy VC main forces.
(4) Provide adequate reserve reaction forces to prevent the loss of secure and defended areas.
(5) Preserve and strengthen the RVNAF.
(6) Provide adequate air support, both combat and logistic.
(7) Maintain an anti-infiltration screen along the coast and support forces ashore with naval gunfire and amphibious lift.
(8) Provide air and sea lifts as necessary to transport the necessary but minimum supplies and services to the civil populace.
(9) Open up necessary critical lines of communication for essential military and civil purposes.
(10) Preserve and defend, to the extent possible, areas now under effective governmental control.
(1) All Phase I measures.
(2) Resume and/or expand pacification operations. Priority will be given to the Hop Tac area around Saigon, to that part of the Delta along an east-west axis from Go Cong to Chau Doc, and in the provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen.
(3) Participate in clearing, securing, reserve reaction and offensive operations as required to support and sustain the resumption of pacification.
(1) All Phase I and II measures.
(2) Provide those additional forces necessary to extend and expand clearing and securing operations throughout the entire populated area of the country and those forces necessary to destroy VC forces and their base areas.
2. McNamara's Recommendations
Secretary McNamara's 20 July 1965 Memorandum for the President [Doc.
261] spelled out the troop requirements for Vietnam as follows: The forces
1965 should be brought up to about 175,000, and "It should be understood that the deployment of more men (perhaps 100,000) may be necessary in early 1966,
and that the deployment of additional forces thereafter is possible but will depend on developments."
This 100,000-man possible addition was broken down in a cable from COMUSMACV to CINCPAC as providing 27 maneuver battalions with associated combat and service support elements, bringing the total number of maneuver battalions to 61 sometime in 1966. The question arises as to how this 100,000-man 27-battalion figure was reached. In the absence of documentary evidence, it seems simplest to assume that Westmoreland was given pretty much what he asked for. However, the 61 battalion figure comes very close to the number of battalions the Secretary of Defense was thinking about earlier in July, when a memorandum for the record dated 12 July shows a proposal to strengthen U.S. forces by 63 battalions through a combination of calling up reserves, extending tours of duty, and increasing the draft. In fact, the 63 battalion figure appears again in the Secretary's 20 July memorandum to the President, allowing one to speculate that the size of the build-up had already been fixed in early July prior to the trip.
In either case, the result was that Phase II was recommended to the President at a level of roughly 100,000 which when added to the then current estimates for Phase I of 175,000 gave a total estimate of 275,000 by the end of 1966.
Secretary McNamara envisioned that the employment of U.S. forces would be as
. . . Use of forces. The forces will be used however they can be brought to bear most effectively. The US/third-country ground forces will operate in coordination with South Vietnamese forces. They will defend their own bases; they will assist in providing security in neighboring areas; they will augment Vietnamese forces, assuring retention of key logistic areas and population centers. Also, in the initial phase they will maintain a small reserve-reaction force, conducting nuisance raids and spoiling attacks, and opening and securing selected lines of communication; as in-country ground strength increases to a level permitting extended US and third-country offensive action, the forces will be available for more active combat missions when the Vietnamese Government and General Westmoreland agree that such active missions are needed. The strategy for winning this stage of the war will be to take the offensive--to take and hold the initiative. The concept of tactical operations will be to exploit the offensive, with the objects of putting the VC/DRV battalion forces out of operation and of destroying their morale. The South Vietnamese, US and third-country forces, by aggressive exploitation of superior military forces, are to gain and hold the initiative-keeping the enemy at a disadvantage, maintaining a tempo such as to deny them time to recuperate or regain their balance, and pressing the fight against VC/DRV main force units in South Vietnam to run them to ground and to destroy them. The operations should combine to compel the VC/ DRV to fight at a higher and more sustained intensity with resulting higher logistical consumption and, at the same time, to limit his capability to resupply forces in combat at that scale by attacking his LOC. The concept assumes vigorous prosecution of the air and sea anti-infiltration campaign and includes increased use of air in-country, including B-52s, night and day to harass VC in their havens. Following destruction of the VC main force units, the South Vietnamese must reinstitute the Program of Rural Reconstruction as an antidote to the continuing VC campaign of terror and subversion.
He evaluated the probable results in the following manner:
. . . Evaluation. ARVN overall is not capable of successfully resisting the VC initiatives without more active assistance from more US/third-country ground forces than those thus far committed. Without further outside help, the ARVN is faced with successive tactical reverses, loss of key communication and population centers particularly in the highlands, piecemeal destruction of ARVN units, attrition of RVNAF will to fight, and loss of civilian confidence. Early commitment of additional US/third-country forces in sufficient quantity, in general reserve and offensive roles, should stave off GVN defeat.
The success of the program from the military point of view turns on whether the Vietnamese hold their own in terms of numbers and fighting spirit, and on whether the US forces can be effective in a quick-reaction reserve role, a role in which they are only now being tested. The number of US troops is too small to make a significant difference in the tradition 10-1 government-guerrilla formula, but it is not too small to make a significant difference in the kind of war which seems to be evolving in Vietnam--a "Third Stage" or conventional war in which it is easier to identify, locate and attack the enemy.
The plan is such that the risk of escalation into war with China or the Soviet Union can be kept small. US and South Vietnamese casualties will increase--just how much cannot be predicted with confidence, but the US killed-in-action might be in the vicinity of 500 a month by the end of the year. The South Vietnamese under one government or another will probably see the thing through and the United States public will support the course of action because it is a sensible and courageous military-political program designed and likely to bring about a success in Vietnam.
It should be recognized, however, that success against the larger, more conventional, VC/PAVN forces could merely drive the VC back into the trees and back to their 1960-64 pattern--a pattern against which US troops and aircraft would be of limited value but with which the GVN, with our help, could cope. The questions here would be whether the VC could maintain morale after such a set-back, and whether the South Vietnamese would have the will to hang on through another cycle.
3. The President's Decision
The President accepted the recommendation of building up to 175,000, but disapproved the call up of reserves, and made no decision (since none was really necessary at the time) on the full Phase II strength. In a backgrounder, following his announcement of the troop increase on 28 July 1965, the President explained that the reserves, if called, would have taken several months before they were equipped to be effective in Vietnam, so he decided to use the Air-mobile Division and Battalions on Okinawa which were ready to go. The disapproval of the reserve call up appears to have been the President's decision and was probably based more on considerations of political feasibility. As late as the 17th of July, Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance had cabled McNamara that the President had OK'd the 34 Battalion Phase I Plan and would try to "bull" the reserve call up through Senator Stennis whom he saw as his chief obstacle on this issue. The President's decision was evidently a difficult one to make. Prior to McNamara's departure for Saigon, both he and the President had hinted at press conferences that a reserve call-up and higher draft calls were a distinct possibility. This, of course, triggered the predictable response from some members of Congress in opposition to a reserve call up. Upon McNamara's return from Saigon, President Johnson waited over a week before he publicly announced his Vietnam decisions. Since Vance's cable to McNamara of the 17th of July indicated that the President had approved the 34 battalion deployment, it is probably reasonable to assume that the President spent much of the week assessing the political variables of the situation. The consensus in the press was that the announced measures were not as great a leap as had been expected and that perhaps the attitude of influential Senate Democrats had restrained Johnson from taking stronger action. The issue was not that pressing as far as Phase I was concerned because, as the President pointed out, there were active Army units already available to cover the short term needs.
C. DEVELOPMENT OF A CONCEPT
1. Concept for Vietnam
By late August 1965, the JCS had developed and coordinated a Concept for Vietnam
which was set out in JCSM 652-65 dated 27 August. The heart of the concept is
summarized as follows:
a. The objective in Vietnam, as stated by NSAM 288, dated 17 March 1964, is a stable and independent noncommunist government.
b. The major problems to be dealt with in the conduct of the war are:
(1) The continued direction and support of Viet Cong operations by the DRV, infiltration from the north, and the apparent attendant Viet Cong capability to provide materiel support and to replace heavy personnel losses.
(2) The continued existence of a major Viet Cong infrastructure, both political and military, in the RVN.
(3) The greater growth rate of Viet Cong strength as compared to that of the South Vietnamese ground forces.
(4) The continued loss of LOCs, food-producing areas, and population to Viet Cong control.
(5) The lack of a viable politico/economic structure in the RVN.
(6) The threat of CHICOM intervention or aggression in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the Western Pacific.
c. The basic military tasks, of equal priority, are:
(1) To cause the DRV to cease its direction and support of the Viet Cong insurgency.
(2) To defeat the Viet Cong and to extend GVN control over all of the RVN.
(3) To deter Communist China from direct intervention and to defeat such intervention if it occurs.
d. The US basic strategy for accomplishing the above tasks should be:
to intensify military pressure on the DRV by air and naval power; to destroy significant DRV military targets, including the base of supplies; to interdict supporting LOCs in the DRV; to interdict the infiltration and supply routes into the RVN; to improve the combat effectiveness of the RVNAF; to build and protect bases; to reduce enemy reinforcements; to defeat the Viet Cong, in concert with RVN and third country forces; and to maintain adequate forces in the Western Pacific and elsewhere in readiness to deter and to deal with CHICOM aggression. By aggressive and sustained exploitation of superior military force, the United States/Government of Vietnam would seize and hold the initiative in both the DRV and RVN, keeping the DRV, the Viet Cong, and the PL/VM at a disadvantage, progressively destroying the DRV war-supporting power and defeating the Viet Cong. The physical capability of the DRV to move men and supplies through the Lao Corridor, down the coastline, across the DMZ, and through Cambodia must be reduced to the maximum practical extent by land, naval, and air actions in these areas and against infiltration-connected targets. Finally, included within the basic US military strategy must be a buildup in Thailand to ensure attainment of the proper US-Thai posture to deter CHICOM aggression and to facilitate placing US forces in an advantageous logistic position if such aggression occurs.
In order to gain the offensive and to seize and hold the initiative in the RVN, a major effort must be made not only in terms of direct combat action to expand the areas under US/GVN control but also to support the GVN in its rural reconstruction program and to assist that government in the creation of new military units and the rehabilitation of its depleted units as rapidly as possible. A psychological climate must be created that will foster RVN rural reconstruction progress.
The strategic concept envisioned that during
. . . the build-up phase US-Third Country and GVN forces should strengthen military and civilian control in present areas of the RVN . . . As the force build-up is achieved, a principal offensive effort within the RVN of US-Third Country forces should be to participate with the RVNAF in search and destroy operations while assisting the RVNAF in clearing and securing operations in support of the rural reconstruction effort.
The document went on to explain that:
Friendly control of population and resources is essential to success in countering guerrilla warfare. In this regard, the RVN areas of major military significance are: the Saigon area and the Mekong Delta; the coastal plain; and the central highlands. It is imperative that the US/GVN have the support of the people and the control of resources in those areas. Elimination of the Viet Cong from these areas must be vigorously undertaken in order to provide adequate security for the people. Of particular importance is the need for friendly control of the main food-producing areas in order that the GVN may gain control of rice, feed the people under its control, enable exports of rice to bolster the economy, and cause the Viet Cong to import or to fight for food. A paramount requirement under this concept is the building and maintaining of a series of secure bases and secure supporting LOCs at key localities along the sea coast, and elsewhere as necessary, from which offensive operations can be launched and sustained, with the subsequent enlargement and expansion of the secure areas.
Assistant Secretary McNaughton, in a memorandum for Secretary McNamara, gave the following evaluation of the JCS plan. "The concept includes certain generalized courses of action about which there would be little or no dispute and a number of other courses that are clearly controversial and raise far-reaching policy issues (e.g., blockade and mining of DRV, U.S. build-up in Thailand, intensified RT)." He recommended that since "an overall approval . . . is not required at this time . . . the concept proposed not be specifically approved." Acting along these lines, Secretary McNamara agreed "that recommendations for future operations in SEA should be formulated," but went no further.
2. Westmoreland's Concept
This concept of operations was interpreted by General Westmoreland in his MACV Directive 525-4 of 20 September 1965, in which he set forth the tactics and techniques for employment of US forces in the Republic of Vietnam. General Westmoreland's strategy consisted of three successive steps:
1. First, to halt the VC offensive--to stem the tide,
2. Second, to resume the offensive--to destroy VC and pacify selected high priority areas,
3. Third, to restore progressively the entire country to the control of the GVN.
The tasks which he saw necessary included the defense of military bases, the conduct of offensive operations against VC forces and bases, the conduct of clearing operations as a prelude to pacification, provision of permanent security for areas earmarked for pacification, and the provision for reserve reaction forces. Most of the document is concerned with the conduct of offensive operations against VC base areas and forces. The conduct of clearing operations were given little attention since these were planned to be primarily accomplished by RVN regional forces and popular forces.
3. The JCS on Future Operations and Force Deployments
By early November, the Joint Chiefs had further refined their "Concept for Vietnam" and in JCSM 811-65, dated 10 November, submitted their recommendations to the Secretary of Defense. Although it was billed as establishing a basis for determining the Phase II force requirements, it achieved little more than explicating in some detail the tasks to be accomplished in Phase II, and evaluating the degree to which the forces already programmed for Phase II would accomplish these goals. However, the figures used were close to those discussed in July. The new figures were 112,430 personnel and 28 battalions, most of which would be in Vietnam by the end of 1966. These figures were still being used as late as 20 November 1965.
The JCS did manage to capture the essence of the Phase II concept by pointing out that "Phase I . . . was designed to stop losing the war. Phase II . . . is then the phase needed to start winning it." Their concept still included the three basic military tasks of pressuring North Vietnam, defeating the VC and extending GVN control over South Vietnam, and deterring Communist China. However, the memorandum went on to spell out in which areas of Vietnam the JCS and presumably MACV felt were the "militarily and economically significant areas in Vietnam." These were listed as Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Coastal Plain, and the Central Highlands. The role of the US forces was to assist the GVN in expanding its control over these areas. However, primary emphasis was placed upon providing "heavy assault strength against VC forces and bases. The division of effort between RVNAF and US/Third Country forces clarified as follows:
The overall concept . . . visualizes the employment of US, Third Country and RVNAF forces for the basic mission of search and destroy, and participation in clearing and securing operations and civic actions plus the defense of governmental centers and critical areas.
US/Third Country forces will not ordinarily be employed throughout securing operations except in areas contiguous to their bases. The Vietnamese JGS is in general agreement with this concept and with the concept of weighting the effort wherein the bulk of operations against the VC forces and bases outside the secure areas will be undertaken by US/Third Country and RVNAF general reserve forces, while the bulk of RVN forces will be committed to the defense of GVN installations and securing operations.
Interestingly enough, a note of growing disenchantment with the Vietnamese capabilities appeared in this memorandum, when it was explained that "complex, detailed US conceived programs may not be picked up and executed by the Vietnamese [therefore] COMUSMACV now deals with them in terms of simple tasks and short step by step objectives."
D. OVERALL STRATEGY REVIEWED AS CONFLICT IN SVN STEPS UP
Meanwhile in November two other things were taking place which would have a significant effect on Phase II.
1. McNamara's DPM on Increasing the Pressure
In early November a Draft Memorandum for the President was in the works which addressed the problem of how best to conduct the overall effort in Vietnam. In this memorandum, Mr. McNamara discussed the relative merits of varying combinations of a pause in the air war against North Vietnam, gradual intensification of the ROLLING THUNDER program, and carrying out Phase II deployments. This memorandum seems to mark one of the key decision points in the growing involvement of U.S. in Vietnam. The Phase I deployments appeared to have arrested the deterioration of the situation in Vietnam, and it now became feasible to consider what kind of outcome we might be able to get from the present situation. The analysis in the memorandum was that roughly sticking with the present situation would lead to a "compromise outcome" which would very likely be unstable, difficult to sell domestically, and damaging to "U.S. political effectiveness on the world scene." Therefore, the course of action to follow was to step up the pressure both in the North, i.e., increase the tempo of ROLEING THUNDER, and in the South, i.e., move ahead with Phase II deployments. However, a pause in bombing would be inserted prior to the increased pressure. The arguments for the pause were four: (1) It would offer the DRV and VC a chance to move toward a solution if they should be so inclined . . . (2) It would demonstrate to domestic and international critics that our efforts to settle the war are genuine. (3) It would probably tend to reduce the dangers of escalation after we resumed the bombing . . . And (4) it would set the stage for another pause perhaps in late 1966, which might produce a settlement. The conclusion to this draft, which was discussed with the President on 7 November, was the warning that "none of these actions assures success . . . the odds are even that despite our effort, we will be faced in early 1967 with stagnation at a higher level and with a need to decide whether to deploy Phase III forces, probably in Laos as well as in South Vietnam."
While the pros and cons of a pause or a cease-fire were being debated in a series of drafts and memoranda which were prepared and circulated between Defense and State, the situation in Vietnam was undergoing a change.
2. NVA Infiltration Increases
By November 1965, the infiltration of units from North Vietnam had begun to increase. By 17 November, six confirmed, two probable, and one possible, PAVN regiments had been identified in South Vietnam. The Viet Cong regimental-size units had increased from five in July of 1965 to twelve. The total strength of the PAVN/VC army was estimated at 27 PAVN infantry battalions and a total of 110 PAVN/VC battalions. The accepted strength was 63,500 in combat units, and 17,000 in combat support units, with 53,600 in the militia. The VC/PAVN buld-up rate was estimated to be 15 battalions per quarter during 1967.
The implications of the build-up were made abundantly clear by the bloody fighting
in the Ia Drang Valley in mid-November.
In mid-October, the Viet Cong attack on Plei Me Special Forces Camp in Pleiku Province, had triggered a month-long campaign by both RVN and U.S. forces. Operation SILVER BAYONET, conducted by the 1st Cavalry Division was designed to provide security and artillery support to RVN forces around Plei Me. On 27 October, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, was given a search and destroy mission between Plei Me and the Cambodian border. By 1 November, the brigade, having contacted a large enemy force, began to pursue VC/NVA forces west of the Plei Me camp, moving along the South Vietnamese/Cambodian border. Then, on 14 November, after the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division had relieved the 1st Brigade in the vicinity of Plei Me and Pleiku, the most significant phase of SILVER BAYONET began. Airmobile search and destroy operations were initiated which resulted in very heavy and intense contacts within the direction of VC/NVA forces. COMUSMACV requested a series of B-52 strikes to support ground operations in the vicinity of Chu Pong Mountain. These strikes were delivered on 16 November. Three U.S. infantry battalions were closely engaged, supported by tactical air sorties and artillery. The VC/NVA forces, which exceeded division strength, continued active resistance to the U.S. forces from well-entrenched position. The battle of the 3rd Brigade against numerically superior VC/NVA forces continued until 18 November in the vicinity of Chu Pong Mountain and Ia Drang Valley. Fighting was often hand to hand with many small units temporarily cut off from their parent organization.
On 20 November, the 2d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, flew to Pleiku to relieve the 3d Brigade. The VC/NVA had lost over 1,200 killed in action while the U.S. losses were over 200.
According to the MACV Command History, 1966:
The overall NVN political strategy was aimed at the demoralization of the RVN and the collapse of resistance in the south, as well as the closely related contingency of US withdrawal from Vietnam. In their planning to accomplish this strategy the NVN leaders were influenced by their experience during the Indochina War, when the Viet Minh had relied on the unwillingness of the French people to continue to support a long and costly "dirty war." Although the US was a more formidable enemy, NVN leaders apparently believed that the same political strategy would succeed again, and that their own will to fight would outlast that of the Americans. The enemy expected that the high financial cost, the loss of American lives, international pressures, and domestic dissension inevitably would force the US government to withdraw military forces from RVN. The enemy's long-range plan of military strategy had three phases. The first phase called for the creation of a political organization and a guerrilla capability, and the initiation of guerrilla warfare. The second phase called for the establishment of larger bases from which a "strategic mobility" effort could be launched. The third phase called for the initiation of the final large-scale attacks that would annihilate the opposing forces. During the first phase of the NVN plan the lao Dong Party established a firm party organization by the creation of the NLF. Concurrently, NVN began guerrilla-type operations, established secure bases for larger operations, and began to force the RVN into a defensive posture. Infiltration routes from NVN were established and a system of logistic support for the base areas was set up. In order to accelerate the transition to the final phase of annihilation, NVN began to move regular NVA troops into the RVN. This activity was first indicated in April 1964, when the 325th NVA Div began accelerated training in preparation for deployment to the RVN.
An important fact of the second phase was to attain "strategic mobility" in order to counter the tactical mobility of RVN and FW forces. The object of a "strategic mobility" was to mass a large number of maneuver battalions in several widely-scattered areas. These maneuver battalions would tie large numbers of Allied forces to static defense roles, and permit the NVA/VC to attack specific positions at times of their own choosing. The buildup in the number of battalions, and particularly the infiltration of larger NVA units, would be done covertly with the object of initiating the larger-sized attacks by surprise. The version of "strategic mobility" implemented by Gen Vo Nguyen Giap was a "defensive/offensive" strategy which had the following objectives:
1) to develop strong multi-division forces in dispersed areas that were secure and accessible to supplies; 2) to entice FW forces into prepared enemy positions so that the entrenched communist forces could inflict heavy casualties on them; and 3) to continue country-wide guerrilla action to tie down Allied forces, destroy small units, and extend control.
The NVN and VC emphasized in guidance put out to their people that the war would he won in the highlands of MR5, an area that the enemy envisioned as a "killing zone." The mountainous and jungled terrain favored VC operations in that the highlands were closer to the NVA buildup areas near the DMZ and to the secure base areas in Laos and Cambodia. These factors made the highlands a much more favorable battle area for the NVA/VC than for the FW forces. The enemy would also be able to place sizeable forces on the entrance routes to the heavily populated coastal areas. In order to use the highlands as the killing zone in the war for RVN, the enemy hoped first to establish an "equilibrium of forces" in the highlands, and then to launch an offensive in one or more districts. The enemy had thus hoped in 1966 to launch ever-larger attacks in the highlands, to concentrate his troops and firepower, and, with improved command and control, to attack and hold important objectives.
During the same enemy time-frame that the highlands were being exploited as the killing zone, the enemy had other plans for the Delta area and for Saigon. The Delta was to be the support area and as such was to continue to provide manpower and fill logistic requirements for the other operational regions, particularly MRS. Insofar as possible, it was planned that the Delta should move also toward the second phase of larger-unit "strategic mobility." The Delta, being the seat of the old revolutionary political organization, was to be the originating point of new political organizations sent out to support the offensive in the highlands. In his plans concerning Saigon and the surrounding areas, the enemy intended to dominate all routes leading into the city, to isolate the city economically, and to create an atmosphere of insecurity in and around the city. It appeared that the enemy intended to capture and hold important areas in an arc above the Capital Military District (CMD). For this purpose several special units had been formed and were operating in the area of Saigon.
On 23 November, General Westmoreland analyzed the impact of the increased infiltration
upon his Phase II requirements as follows:
* * * *
2. The VC/PAVN buildup rate is predicated to be double that of U.S. Phase II forces. Whereas we will add an average of seven maneuver battalions per quarter the enemy will add fifteen. This development has already reduced the November battalion equivalent ratio from an anticipated 3.2 to 1, to 2.8 to 1, and it will be further reduced to 2.5 to 1 by the end of the year. If the trend continues, the December 1966 battalion equivalent ratio, even with the addition of Phase II, will be 2.1 to 1.
3. Thus far the PAVN increase has been concentrated in the central highlands and the Viet Cong increases have largely been in the northern part of III Corps. There is little evidence so far that there is any appreciable enemy increase south of the Mekong, and in fact it appears that the local forces in the lower delta may have lost some capability as a result of the movement of guerrillas to Tay Ninh for training and organization into battalions.
4. MACV must, as an absolute minimum, free at least one US division for mobile operations against new PAVN units in the general area of II Corps. In addition, there is a vital need to open Highway 15 from Vung Tau to Saigon to utilize the port capacity there and to project US forces into the delta at least as far as My Thiem, this will strengthen the GVN hand in this critical population and food producing area and interdict the main infiltration route from the delta to War Zone C. The addition of a ROK division (or US division) to II Corps, for location at coastal bases near Duc My, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh and Phan Rang, will permit the entire 4th Infantry Division (with its bases protected by the coastal division) to be used for sustained combat against the new PAVN forces. The opening of Highway 15 to Vung Tau would be facilitated by adding a brigade to the 1st Infantry Division to be located in the Ba Ria area and additional brigade for the 25th Division to be located at Tan Hiep would provide protection necessary for the area north of My Tho. Besides the requirement for an additional division and two brigades, operations by the 1st Air Cavalry Division have shown that this unit needs one more infantry battalion (airmobile) and an additional air cavalry squadron so that it can sustain operations over a long period of time. Because of the tactical problems involved in conducting combat reconnaissance over vast areas to find and fix PAVN/VC it would be highly desirable to have one of the brigades of the 4th Infantry Division composed of three Airmobile Infantry Battalions and provide for the division one Air Cavalry Squadron. A ROK RCT to fill out the capital division would permit deployment of the ROK Marine Brigade to I Corps for operations with III MAF.
5. The additional units described above are essential to meet the immediate threat and certain immediate problems. However, even these additional forces will not match the enemy buildup. To reach the level of force required to make significant progress toward accomplishment of Phase II tasks will ultimately require much larger deployments.
6. Unfortunately certain physical restrictions and the time required to establish a suitable logistics base limit the rate of buildup in RVN CY 66. If the deployment of logistics forces can be further accelerated and if construction programs meet the increased requirements we might be able to squeeze two additional brigades into SVN in CY 66 over and above Phase II forces AFD the minimum add-ons which we have described in paragraph 4 above. We should program these additional logistics and combat forces against the maximum build-up rate because we need them to match the PAVN/VC buildup. With two more brigades we would have three US divisions in the area around Saigon and the 4th Division in the II Corps area would have three infantry brigades plus an airmobile brigade and an air cavalry squadron.
7. Because of current problems regarding port and support facilities, no major deployments other than currently requested Phase II deployments can be accepted in the 1st Qtr of CY 66. Thereafter, the buildup should be incremental. If ROK units were made available (with both the RVN and the ROK providing a portion of the support, reinforced by additional US support) a division could be handled in the second quarter, and an additional division equivalent in each quarter thereafter, provided appropriate US logistics forces are available.
8. Tactical air support would amount to three tactical fighter squadrons for the first deployment alternative and four squadrons for the second. Eventually, this might require construction of another airfield, in addition to Tuy Hoa.
9. One of the most pressing needs is to improve the logistics situation in RVN. Phase I logistic units are stretched out through CY 66 and into CY 67. It was determined at the Honolulu Conference in September that the preferred schedule for deployment of major Phase II combat units could not be met because the essential logistics units would not be available in the time frame required. Nevertheless, we accepted marginal logistic support in order to deploy combat units as rapidly as possible. Therefore the logistics system in SVN cannot accept the even greater burden represented by the required additional combat forces without significant augmentation early in CY 66. We appreciate the fact that this may require extraordinary measures. It has been determined that the ports can accommodate the force buildup if the critical through-put capability can be provided in the form of added logistics units and related facilities. MACV is prepared to specify the quantity, type and time phasing of logistics units required to support the buildup.
10. Undoubtedly the detailed development of these added force requirements and their integration into existing programs and schedules will require another set of conferences. The initial development should take place here with assistance from the PACOM components as required. Subsequently a final conference in Honolulu appears necessary to check requirements against availability, make adjustments and work out the detailed scheduling.
11. . . . .
g. We estimate that our minimum course of action (a ROK division and RCT and two US brigades as major units) will require a total add-on strength of approximately 48,000 (23,000 ROK), which includes 35,300 combat and combat support and 12,700 service support. Our preferred course of action (a ROK div and RCT and a US div and brigade as major units) will add approximately 64,500 (23,000 ROK), which includes 47,200 combat and combat support and 17,300 service support.
* * * *
This assessment of the VC/PAVN buildup appears to be consistent with the retrospective evaluation found in the intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate 14.3-66, published on 7 July 1966. According to this later estimate, the infiltration for the months of September and October 1965 totaled approximately 10,000 which was only 1,000 less than the total for the preceding 8 months, from January through August 1965. The estimated rate of the buildup given in NIE 14.3-66 was one or two infantry regiments per month which fits the earlier MACV estimate of 15 battalions per quarter.
Westmoreland's recommendation for an additional 41,500 U.S. forces would have raised the Phase II deployment to approximately 154,000 bringing total U.S. troop strength in the area to nearly 375,000 by mid-1967.
E. McNAMARA GOES TO SAIGON--A DECISION ON IIA
1. McNamara Visits Saigon
Faced with this changed enemy situation, Secretary of Defense McNamara diverted his return from a NATO meeting in Paris to allow him to visit Saigon on 28-30 November. As outlined in the Secretary of Defense's 23 November cable to Saigon, the purpose of the trip was "further discussion of Phase II requirements." Specifically, he asked: "Will it not be necessary to add one or two divisions to the 28 battalions proposed in order to provide forces for the Delta; will even more forces be required in 1966 if the number of PAVN regiments continues to increase?"
2. Westmoreland's Recommended Add-Ons
According to the MACV Command History, when Secretary McNamara arrived in Saigon, "COMUSMACV expressed a need for an additional division (which could be ROK) for deployment along the coastal plain in II CTZ, thereby freeing the 4th Infantry Division . . . for operations further inland. Another USA division was needed for employment in the Upper Delta in the area contiguous to Saigon, for a total of three USA divisions around the capital city. A separate brigade for FFORCEV was necessary to reinforce the 1st Cavalry Division (AM) . . . Two air cavalry squadrons were needed to support the 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division (AM), as was another airmobile infantry battalion for the 1st Cavalry Division (AM) to give that division a balanced force of three 3-battalion bridages." This revised deployment plan was referred to as Phase IIA (add-on).
Secretary McNamara was told that the Free World battalions requested for the end of CY 1966 and ARVN would be used for the major tasks in the following proportions:
|Defense of Major U.S. Bases||
|Defense of Government Centers and Critical Installations||
|Security for Expansion of Government Control||
|Offensive Operations and Major Reactions||
3. McNamara's Recommendations to the President
Upon his return from Saigon, Secretary McNamara drafted a Memorandum for the President [Doc. 262], outlining the changed military situation in Vietnam, and commenting that in view of the communist build-up, "the presently contemplated Phase I forces will not be enough . . . Nor will the originally contemplated Phase II addition of 28 more U.S. battalions (112,000 men) be enough . . . Indeed it is estimated that, with the contemplated Phase II addition of 28 U.S. battalions we would be able only to hold our present geographical positions."
In order to "provide what it takes in men and materiel . . . to stick with our stated objectives and with the war," Secretary McNamara recommended the deployment of one Korean division plus another brigade, an additional Australian battalion, and 40 U.S. combat battalions, bringing the total of U.S. maneuver battalions to 74, and the total of U.S. personnel in Vietnam to approximately 400,000 by the end of 1966 with the possible need for an additional 200,000 in 1967.
In the 7 December version of his Memorandum for the President [Doc. 263], McNamara added the information that "although the 1966 deployments to South Vietnam may require some shift of forces from other theaters, it is believed that they can be accomplished without calling up reserve personnel; however, the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not believe additional forces can be deployed to Southeast Asia or elsewhere unless reserves are called."
In evaluating this course of action, the Secretary warned that it "will not guarantee success." He estimated the odds to be about even that the NVA/VC will match the U.S. buildup and that "even with the recommended deployments, we will be faced in early 1967 with a military standoff at a much higher level, with pacification still stalled, and with any prospect of military success marred by the chance of an active Chinese intervention."
4. Phases I, II, and IIA Are Published
On 13 December, the Secretary of Defense sent out a Draft Memorandum for the President, which included tables outlining the planned deployments to Southeast Asia under Phases I, II and IIA. This December Plan projected the total strength for Phases I, II and IIA to be 367,800 by the end of 1966 and 393,900 by the end of June 1967. The number of U.S. maneuver battalions would reach 75 by the end of 1966.
Meanwhile, the requirements which Secretary McNamara had brought back from Saigon with him were being reviewed by CINCPAC in preparation for a planning conference scheduled for 17 January to 6 February 1966 at which the refined requirements would be presented and recommended deployment schedules prepared.
F. PHASE IIA IS REVISED
1. CINCPAC's Requirements
The results of the review were forwarded to the Secretary of Defense on 16 December. CINCPAC's new requirements were summarized by ASD Enthoven as follows:
The CINCPAC request involves a deployment to RVN of 443,000 personnel by December 1966, vice 368,000 in the December plan . . . In addition he wants to increase Thailand strength from the approved December 1966 total of 26,800 to 57,100 of which 33,000 is available. While CINCPAC still wants 75 US maneuver battalions by December, his request involves an earlier deployment, approximately 711 battalion months in CY 1966 vs 654 in the December plan or 693 Service capability.
The increase and acceleration of Combat Support Battalions is more serious, involving over 82 battalions as compared with less than 60 in the December plan; 13 battalions of this increase are HAWK and Air Defense guns, neither of which are readily available. Similarly CINCPAC wants over 68 battalions of engineers by December, 22 more than in the December plan, and similarly unavailable.
The helicopter problem would be further compounded by the CINCPAC request for 2,884 by December versus 2,391 in the December plan and 2,240 said to be available by the Services. . . .
With the revised CINCPAC requirements in hand, the services began to estimate their capability of meeting them. This exercise surfaced the problem of assumptions to be made about sources of manpower available to meet the requirements.
2. Assumptions for Planning
These assumptions were grouped into three sets or cases:
CASE 1: Meeting these requirements by providing forces from CONUS current force structure including activations, plus feasible draw-downs from overseas areas, call-up of selected reserve units and individuals, and extending terms of service.
CASE 2: Meeting these requirements by providing forces from CONUS current force structure including activations, plus feasible draw-downs from overseas areas.
CASE 3: Meeting these requirements by providing forces from CONUS current force structure including activations.
A fourth case was considered by the JCS. It assumed:
. . . . provision of forces from CONUS current force structure including activations, call-up of select reserve units and individuals, and extension in terms of service, but no draw-down from overseas areas.
Assistant Secretary Enthoven added that:
The JCS deleted Case 4 from the agenda laregly because they estimate that the President is more reluctant to call up reserve units and extend terms of service than he is to take forces out of Europe. If they are correct, I think that the agenda as they have laid it out makes a great deal of sense and will provide us with much useful information. If, on the other hand, willingness to activate reserves and extend terms of service has been underestimated, I think we should recommend to the JCS that they restore Case 4 to the agenda.
Significantly, the guidance the JCS received was to study only the first three cases, indicating that the JCS had not underestimated the "willingness to activate reserves and extend terms of service."
Meanwhile, Secretary McNamara, in a Memorandum for the President, dated 24 January 1966, gave, as his best estimate of force levels for the next twelve months, the following:
1. By December 1966, the U.S. would have 75 battalions and 367,800 men in Vietnam.
2. Allied nations would have 23 battalions and 44,600.
He noted, however that the JCS believed that "it would be necessary to have a selective call-up of reserves and a selective extension of terms of service to achieve the personnel strengths shown at the times indicated. He noted that the U.S. figures would rise substantially above those shown if CINCPAC estimates were accepted.
He also included General Westmoreland's estimate that such a deployment would:
a. Result in destruction of one-third of the enemy's base areas, i.e., in-country resources.
b. Permit friendly control of just under one-half, as compared with the present one-third, of the critical roads and railroads.
c. Attrite VC/PAVN forces at an increasing rate, leading to the leveling off of enemy forces at the 150+ battalion level . . . (provided the Chinese do not supply volunteers).
d. Ensure that friendly bases and government centers are defended under any foreseeable circumstances (though some district towns may be overrun and have to be retaken).
e. Lead to government control of an estimated 50 percent of the population.
3. The Honolulu Conference
However, by 28 January, the CINCPAC/MACV requirements had risen to 102 Free World battalions (79 U.S. including 4 tank battalions . . .) An intermediate evaluation was that "it appears that the MACV-CINCPAC requirements (102 battalions . . .) are valid, and required to meet the military objective on which the Secretary of Defense has been previously briefed. The information brought back by Secretary of Defense in late November as to combat and support force requirements was incomplete."
During the CINCPAC Conference, the top American and Vietnamese leaders also met at Honolulu, primarily to "permit the leaders of the United States and South Vietnam to get to know each other better and to discuss non-military programs."
Upon his return, Secretary McNamara assembled his key subordinates. The summary of this conference follows:
Summary for Record
A meeting was held in the Conference Room of the Secretary of Defense from 1:45 to 3:00 p.m., February 9, 1966 following the return of the Secretary of Defense from Honolulu. At the conference table were the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Service Secretaries, and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff minus the Chairman. Also present were Mr. Anthony, Mr. Ignatius, Mr. McNaughton, Mr. Morris, Dr.Enthoven, Mr. Glass, and the undersigned. This memorandum will summarize the major points of the meeting.
1. The Honolulu Conference. Mr. McNamara opened with a general report on the events in Honolulu. The meetings in general were highly successful. The primary purpose of the Honolulu conference was as indicated in the press, namely to permit the leaders of the United States and South Vietnam to get to know each other better and to discuss non-military programs. The top South Vietnamese handled themselves superbly and made a fine impression. They have a non-military program which, if it can be put into effect, should greatly strengthen the government and the country. Most of the discussions concentrated on the non-military programs. The Vice President is going to Saigon to assist on this. McGeorge Bundy is also going there to help the American Embassy organize so as to further the non-military efforts.
Mr. McNamara brought back with him a great deal of material prepared by General Westmoreland and Admiral Sharp. He will have this material reproduced and copies sent to the Service Secretaries and the Chiefs of Staff. No significant military decisions were taken with the exception of one which he will now discuss.
2. The Case 1 Decision. Mr. McNamara reminded the group of the three cases which have been under discussion involving various assumptions. Briefly, Case 1 assumes that the Reserves will be called up, tours will be extended, and units will be re-deployed from other overseas areas. Case 2 is the same as Case 1 but does not involve calling up the Reserves. Case 3 involves no Reserve call-up and no overseas re-deployment. One of the big differences between these cases is in the number of support units available, with the resulting effect on the number of combat units that can be deployed. For example, under Case 1, some 102 maneuver battalions would be deployed by the end of the year as opposed to 80 such battalions under Case 3. This is in comparison to approximately 50 deployed at present.
General Westmoreland, in his deployment planning, is proceeding on the important assumption that on balance any proposed deployments must increase his overall combat effectiveness; that is, before he deploys a combat unit he must be sure that he has adequate support for it. This does not mean, however, that he will deploy a unit only when he can get 100 percent combat effectiveness for the unit.
Both General Westmoreland and Admiral Sharp put to McNamara the critical question: In our future planning, which of the three cases shall we assume will be followed? McNamara told them that it was simply not possible yet to decide, but for the present, they should plan on combat unit deployments equal to those in Case 1. (In this regard, it should be noted that the combat unit deployments under Case 1 and Case 3 do not differ significantly for the first 6 months of 1966, although the logistics deployments do differ for that period.) Likewise the Department of Defense is to:
(1) Assume and act to deploy units as provided under Case 1, but without a reserve call-up. (This does not prejudice the still-open question whether or not the Reserves will be called up.)
(2) Assume and act on the basis that we are authorized to deploy up to 260,000 personnel through March 31, 1966. (This is in lieu of the existing authorization of 220,000 through February 28, 1966.) However, it should be understood that if we need to go above 260,000, we will not hesitate to request further authorizations.
This contemplates the deployment by the end of the year of 102 combat maneuver battalions (including third country forces) and related forces amounting to 429,000 U.S. military personnel.
There was discussion of extensions of tours. With respect to the possible reserve call-up, this is to be subjected to intense critical analysis over the next several weeks. It must be studied on a worldwide basis. Furthermore General Westmoreland and Admiral Sharp have done a good deal of work on alternatives under Case 1 to call-up of the reserves. Mr. McNamara has these studies. Dr. Enthoven will reproduce them and distribute them to the Service Secretaries and the Chiefs of Staff.
3. Southeast Asia Program Office. It is essential that the Department of Defense has at all times a readily available and centralized bank of information with respect to the Southeast Asia build-up. To this end, Dr. Enthoven is to establish a Southeast Asia Program Office which is to be able to furnish Mr. McNamara and Mr. Vance all information that may be required with respect to Southeast Asia. Among other things, this unit is to be able to provide immediate information on what overseas units are being depleted in order to accommodate Southeast Asia needs. If there is any draw-down anywhere, Mr. McNamara wants to know it promptly. We must know the full price of what we are doing and propose to do.
Mr. McNamara suggested that each Service Secretary establish a similar Southeast Asia Program Unit to bring together and keep current data relating to that Service involving Southeast Asia, and that the Joint Staff might establish a similar set-up.
Mr. McNamara said that it was mandatory that the situation be brought under better control. For example, the Southeast Asia construction program was $1.2 billion in the FY 66 Supplement; yesterday at Honolulu the figure of $2.5 billion was raised. Yet there is only the vaguest information as to how these funds will be spent, where, on what, and by whom. This is part of the bigger problem that there is no proper system for the allocation of available resources in Vietnam. McGeorge Bundy is to help organize the country team to deal with this problem, including reconciling military and non-military demands.
4. Manpower Controls. Mr. McNamara designated Mr. Morris as the person to be responsible for the various manpower requirements. He is either to insure that the requirements are met or to let Mr. McNamara know if they are not being met. Mr. McNamara wants a written statement whenever we have been unable to do something that General West-moreland says he needs for full combat effectiveness. (In this regard, General Westmoreland recognizes that it is not possible to have 100 percent combat effectiveness for all the 102 battalions. For example, there are not sufficient helicopter companies. Roughly, he estimates he will get 96 battalion combat effectiveness out of the 102 battalions.)
At this point there was a brief discussion concerning the use of U.S. troops for pacification purposes. Mr. Nitze indicated that in his view the Marines were doing this to some degree. The point was disputed. At any rate, Mr. McNamara said that the 102 combat battalions contemplated under Case 1 were not to be used for pacification but only for defense of base areas and offensive operations. Mr. McNamara outlined briefly the South Vietnamese Government's plan for pacification. It will affect some 235,000 people in the whole country. The major allocation of resources and personnel will be to four very limited areas, one of which is near Danang. There will also be a general program extending throughout the country involving some 900 hamlets.
5. Call-Up of Reserves. Mr. McNamara said that it was important that everyone understand why a Reserve call-up is receiving such careful study. There are at least two important considerations. First, the problem is a very complicated one and we do not yet have all the facts. Mr. Morris and others will amass the necessary data as soon as possible. Second, the political aspects of a Reserve call-up are extremely delicate. There are several strong bodies of opinion at work in the country. Look, for example, at the Fuibright Committee hearings. One school of thought, which underlies the Gavin thesis, is that this country is over-extended economically and that we cannot afford to do what we are doing. Another school of thought feels that we plain should not be there at all, whether or not we can afford it. A third school of thought is that although we are rightly there, the war is being mismanaged so that we are heading straight toward war with China. Furthermore, there is no question but that the economy of this country is beginning to run near or at its capacity with the resulting probability of a shortage of certain skills and materiel. If this continues we may be facing wage and price controls, excess profits taxes, etc., all of which will add fuel to the fire of those who say we cannot afford this. With all these conflicting pressures it is a very difficult and delicate task for the Administration to mobilize and maintain the required support in this country to carry on the war properly. The point of all this is to emphasize that a call-up of the Reserves presents extremely serious problems in many areas and a decision cannot be made today.
General Johnson said he wished to add three additional considerations. First, a Reserve call-up might be an important factor in the reading of the North Vietnamese and the Chinese with respect to our determination to see this war through. Second, Reserve call-ups are traditionally a unifying factor. Third, as a larger problem, a hard, long-term look should be taken at the degree to which we as a government are becoming committed to a containment policy along all the enormous southern border of China. Mr. McNamara said he would ask for a JCS study of this last point and discussed it briefly.
During the course of the meeting, General Johnson also pointed out that with respect to overseas deployment, the Army is already shortchanging certain overseas areas so as to increase the training cadres in CONUS. He pointed out that because of the effect on the strategic reserve of deployments already made, the quality of new units will be lower than at present. He raised certain additional points affecting the Army, Mr. McNamara, Mr. Vance, Mr. Resor and General Johnson will discuss these problems further.
6. Deployment Schedule. Dr. Brown asked whether there is any single authoritative document which now sets forth the planned deployment schedule. Mr. McNamara said for the time being everyone should operate off of the schedule in the December 11 Draft Memorandum to the President. By Monday evening, February 14, Dr. Enthoven will have a revised deployment schedule which will be distributed and then become the official one. (Mr. McNaughton mentioned that people should keep in mind that Phase Il-A in the Draft Memorandum to the President is not quite the same as Case 1.) A procedure will be worked out for changing the deployment schedule in an official and orderly way, probably through the use of a procedure similar to that of Program Change Proposals.
It should be kept in mind that the deployment schedule referred to covers only deployments to South Vietnam (and not to Thailand or elsewhere in Southeast Asia), and that it is a planning deployment schedule. Actual deployment authorizations will continue to be required from Mr. McNamara or Mr. Vance in writing, as at present.
John M. Steadman
The Special Assistant
Two important items as far as the build-up was concerned were the guidance to "assume and act to deploy combat units as provided under Case 1, but without a reserve call-up," and the emphasis on the serious problems which a reserve call-up would present (in spite of the insistence that the reserve call-up was a "still-open question").
4. Results of the CINCPAC Planning Conference
On 12 February, the results of the CINCPAC Conference were published.
The concept of operations for 1966 had been more completely spelled out. The three basic military objectives had by this time grown to four. Now there were two separate objectives,
1. To extend GVN dominion, direction, and control over SVN, and
2. To defeat the VC and PAVN forces in ARVN and force their withdrawal,
instead of the old task which combined both of these. In achieving the objective for extending GVN domination, US forces' tasks were very carefully spelled out as "assisting the RVNAF in the conduct of clearing and securing the civic action operations . . . assist and reinforce other US mission agencies, and assist the RVNAF to defend major political, economic, food producing population centers." The object of defeating the VC and PAVN forces required more direct action such as conducting sustained coordinated offensive operations against the enemy, conducting air offensives, raids and special operations against enemy war zones and base areas to render them unusable. In general, "US military operations are aimed at creating operation environment and opportunity for the GVN to gain control and establish security of main food producing areas in order to feed the people, deny food to the enemy, bolster the economy, to cause the enemy to import or fight for food." In explaining the US emphasis on search and destroy, the memorandum stated that such operations "against VC/PAVN forces and base areas attrite VC/PAVN main forces and destroy VC base areas and in-country supplies. These operations, although contributory to, are not a part of the rural construction effort, per se, but are constituted concomitantly with it. It is clear that a known and expected VC/PAVN build-up, the prime focus of combat capable units of US/FWMAF and RVNAF forces must be directed to the search and destroy effort."
CINCPAC conceded that:
This concept of employment of forces is of long standing; however, the lack of sufficient ARVN regular forces for offensive operations plus the increasing VC strength have resulted in local RVN military commanders utilizing the security forces (primarily RF, PF) in offensive actions against hard core VC units. The introduction of US/FWMA forces into key areas has reestablished the balance of force in these areas in favor of the GVN. These deployments allow RVNAF forces to be employed in the roles for which they were originally conceived and equipped, and permit the RE and PF to function in their proper role.
The CINCPAC/MACV submission included the following estimates of MACV's requirements and the deployments to Vietnam possible under the assumptions of Cases 1, 2, and 3.
Strength at End of CY '66
Maneuvar Bns Requirement Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 U.S. 79 79 70* 61 Allied 23 23 23 23 Total 102 102 93 84 Equivalent Strength 102 96 88 72 Personnel U.S. 459,000 422,517
* Other 9 battalions available in Jan 67
The difference in the programs in Case 1 and Case 2 was the degree to which helicopter and combat service support could be provided. The support required for the 102 battalion force would not be completely provided in either case, which would result according to MACV estimates in a reduction in the effectiveness of the 102 battalion force to the equivalent of 96 fully supported battalions under Case 1 and to the equivalent of 88 under Case 2.
Case 3 provided a total of only 84 maneuver battalions.
The CINCPAC requirements also included 20 battalions for reconstitution of the PACOM reserve. Case 1 provided for the full 20 battalions, Case 2 for 10, and Case 3 for 13 battalions.
CINCPAC's evaluation of the impact of the three cases upon military objectives was:
(1) Case 3:
(a) Provides for the security of the US/FWMAF command at the projected rate of VC/PAVN build up.
(b) The principal deficiencies of the Case 3 forces are:
1. Inadequate mobility.
2. Inadequate artillery support.
3. There are no ground forces provided for stationing in the Delta.
4. Insufficient force and mobility to guarantee defense of all provinces and districts now under GVN control.
(2) Case 2:
(a) Provides for the safety of the US/FWMAF command.
(b) Provides the required number of maneuver battalions.
However, shortfalls in combat and service support restrict the capabilities of the force and produce the following deficiencies:
1. Inadequate mobility.
2. Limited offensive capability, resulting in an inability to produce enemy casualties faster than the enemy can produce replacements, thereby prolonging the war at a high level of casualties on both sides.
3. A high rate of equipment loss and deadline resulting from maintenance deficiencies.
4. The acceptance of a high risk in the event of escalation because the force is not supported adequately for sustained operations of the kind which could be expected.
5. Insufficient forces for desired level of sustained offensive operations to offset VC/PAVN build-up.
6. A shortage of maneuver units, the adverse effects of which are cumulative and project into CY 67.
7. Insufficient logistic support forces to provide desired level of support for US forces in SVN. The adverse effects caused by the shortage of logistic units are cumulative and project into CY 67.
(3) Case 1:
(a) Generally adequate when measured against CINCPAC objectives and capabilities except that there is a continuing deficiency in helicopter mobility.
Having received CINCPAC's requirement, the Secretary of Defense directed a series of studies to identify and evaluate the options which appeared to be open. The scope of these studies is indicated by a partial listing of projects compiled by Assistant Secretary for Manpower, Thomas D. Morris:
Views on Army and Marine Corps PACOM reserve forces;
Acceptable draw-down on Europe;
Recommendations on use of third country forces;
Posture paper on strategic reserves and reconstitution of draw-downs;
Analyze rotation base requirements;
Study possibilities for further expansion of Army training base;
Recommend temporary draw-downs on Army CONUS and overseas forces to support deployments, activations and training-rotation base;
Evaluate use of resources of Army temporary forces (9th Division and 2 add-on brigades) to meet other MACV requirements. .. . .
One key question asked was the latest date at which a decision on use of reserves must be made.
Part of the answer--the dates by which reserves would have to be called in lieu of forming the 9th Division and the 198th Brigade--was 15 June for the brigade and 26 June for the division.
With this time to work in, the Secretary of Defense directed the
. . . Military Departments and the JCS to assume that this [the Case 1 deployment schedule] is the requirement we will try to meet, to study all possible ways of meeting it short of calling reserves or extending terms of service, and until further notice, in so far as possible, to plan to deploy forces to SVN on this schedule (forces to other SEA areas will continue to be deployed on the basis of the "December 11, 1965 Plan"). I would like to urge that you use all the ingenuity you can in developing suggested ways of meeting these conditions by use of suitable substitutes, civilian contractor personnel, etc. In this connection, General Westmoreland and Admiral Sharp have made a list of suggestions which is being analyzed by the JCS J-4 and my staff. Every effort should be made to carry out these and similar suggestions.
The fourth line in the tables is my understanding of the current Service estimates of their capabilities to meet these requirements under the assumption that only cadres are taken from Europe, and that no Reserves or extensions of terms of service are utilized. Would you please study these estimates, improve upon them, and find ways to bring our effective combat capability into equality with the Case 1.
I would like by February 28 the individual Service and JCS comments on our capabilities to meet Case 1 requirements.
G. PHASE IIA(R) PRESENTED
1. The JCS Recommendation
On 1 March 1966, the Joint Chiefs of Staff forwarded their recommendation for Phase IIA(R) and their plan to reconstitute the draw-downs on our strategic reserve. The JCS recommended that the 43-2/3 battalion U.S. force be deployed to Vietnam in CY 1966, which would require a "selective call-up of reserve units and personnel and extension of terms of service." They also considered, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, a variation of Case 1, in which reserve call-up and extension of terms of service were excluded. They recommended against this plan because of the severe effects upon our combat effectiveness in Europe. If the reserves were not to be called or terms of service extended, the JCS recommended that the deployments for Phase IIA(R) be extended into 1967 rather than attempt to complete them by the end of 1966. Their plan was basically to delay the deployment of 13 of the scheduled 37 Army maneuver battalions until the first half of 1967 (7 the first quarter and 6 the second quarter). The battalions themselves would be ready for deployment by 1 January 1967, but the necessary combat service support units would not be.
2. McNamara Directs Another Try
However, the JCS's recommendations were not bought by the Secretary of Defense and on 10 March he stated, "I have reviewed JCSM 130-66 and the related memorandums from the Secretary of the Military Departments. All of these require more study and review. However, until such studies are completed, you should plan to deploy forces to SVN in accordance with . . . Case 1. . . all necessary actions are to be taken to meet these deployment dates without call-up of reserves or extension of terms of service. Troop movements from Europe will be made only by written approval of Mr. Vance or myself."
3. The JCS Try Again
Accordingly, the JCS submitted their plan on 4 April 1966 which provided for placing all 37 Army maneuver battalions in SVN by January 1967. The end of year strength for 1966 was projected to be 376,350, while the strength at the end of CY 67 was to be 438,207.
Although Secretary McNamara still had questions about the discrepancy between the JCS plan laid out on 4 April 1966 and the Case 1 capabilities, he apparently accepted the reasoning expressed by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alain Enthoven in his memorandum of 9 April 1966, "that there is not much to be gained by insisting on a more rapid deployment of maneuver battalions."
4. McNamara Acquiesces
Accordingly, on 11 April 1966 Secretary McNamara, "with the exceptions noted . . . [approved] . . . the deployment plan proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCSM 2 18-66."
Attached to his approval memorandum was a set of tables entitled "April 10 Deployment Plan." These showed planned U.S. strength at the end of December 1966 to be 70 maneuver battalions and 383,500 personnel. The remaining 9 maneuver battalions would arrive in January 1967 and by the end of June 1967 tal strength was scheduled to be 425,000. This plan, called the "10 April Plan" by Systems Analysis and the Secretary of Defense's office represented the approved version of what the Services called the Deployment Plan for Phase IIA(R).
Apparently however, even this was not close enough to the original Case 1 deployment capabilities schedule to suit Secretary McNamara, and in a memorandum dated 12 April 1966 he asked why the difference between the revised JCS figure for end of '66 strength and the Case 1 figure for end '66 strength of 413,557.
The Acting Chairman of the JCS answered as follows:
* * *
3. JCSM-218-66 reflects a projected and calendar year 1966 strength of 376,350 compared to the Case I strength of 413,557--a shortfall of 37,207. However, due to adjustments since Case I capabilities were developed, including changes in requirements and refinements in strengths, the actual net shortfall reflected in the Appendices hereto amounts to 47,731. . . .
4. The basic difference in the two capability plans, as viewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is that Case I was based upon the call up of Reserve forces, extension of terms of service, and a firm decision by 1 February 1966. The JCSM-218-66 plan represented a changed set of assumptions in that it did not have access to the skilled resources available from the Reserves and from extended terms of service. Furthermore, JCSM-218-66 represented a two-month delay in certain basic decisions. Despite extraordinary actions being taken to improve the availability of combat support and combat service support units, no means have been found to eliminate certain skill shortages and to create these skills in the time available. Another fundamental difference is that Case I would have deployed largely units in being, whereas the current deployment plan will depend primarily on activation of new units.
5. Despite the shortcomings apparent in the 10 April 1966 plan, the Services are taking positive actions to bring this plan, which is based essentially upon Case II rules, in line with the Case I deployment capabilities insofar as possible. Such extraordinary actions have resulted in significant improvements.
6. In consideration of the above, the current approved deployment program in JCSM-218-66 meets as closely as feasible the program for South Vietnam prescribed in your directive to plan, for an interim period, to deploy forces in accordance with Case I. However, this program as well as the Case I capability plan falls short of the total calendar year 1966 CINCPAC force requirements submitted by CINCPAC to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Although there will be a delay in meeting the total requirement, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Services will continue their efforts to fulfill the total requirements as close to CINCPAC's schedule as practicable.
The question of where the numbers for Phases II, II, and IIA(R) came from provokes much speculation. It can be hypothesized that from the outset of the American build-up, some military men felt that winning a meaningful military victory in Vietnam would require something on the order of one million men. Knowing that this would be unacceptable politically, it may have seemed a better bargaining strategy to ask for increased deployments incrementally. At the outset, the limiting factor on the build-up was the speed with which units could be readied for deployment, and the speed with which logistical support facilities could be provided in Vietnam (the later constraint being heavily influenced by the scarcity of dock facilities and the shipping jam up in Saigon). Once these problems had been surmounted, the barrier then became the level at which the reserves would have to be called up. This barrier became very real in early '66 when General Westmoreland's desires for numbers of men and rates of deployments began to exceed the capabilities of the services to provide them without a reserve call up. In this speculative explanation of military bargaining strategy, the reserve call-up could have been viewed as a barrier that should be breached in order to fight the conflict in South Vietnam along more rational-professional lines.
An alternative explanation is that no one really foresaw what the troop needs in Vietnam would be and that the ability of the DRV/VC to build up their effort was consistently underrated. During the period under review this explanation seems with some exceptions, to be reasonable. The documents from the period around July 1965 seem to indicate that MACV had not given much thought to what he was going to do in the year or years after 1965. The words of the MACV History for 1965 indicate something of this. "The President's 28 July announcement that the U.S. would commit additional massive military forces in SVN necessitated an overall plan clarifying the missions and deployment of the various components. COMUSMACV's Concept of Operations was prepared to fulfill this need." If this is a true reflection of what happened it would indicate the MACV's plan of what to do was derived from what would be available rather than the requirements for manpower being derived from any clearly thought out military plan.
A compromise explanation of the origins of the numbers is that the military
may have had a visceral feeling that a large (somewhere above 500,000) number
of troops would be needed to win the war, but were unable to justify their requirements
in terms clear or strong enough to persuade the President, who had an interest
in keeping the domestic effects of war as small as possible.
Go to the Next Section of Volume 4, Chapter 2 of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968"
Glossary of Acronyms and Terms
Go to Volume 1, Chapter 1 of the Pentagon Papers, "Background to the Conflict, 1940-1950." pp. 1-52
Go to Volume 1, Chapter 2 of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. Involvement in the Franco-Viet Minh War, 1950-1954," pp. 53-107
Go to Volume 1, Chapter 3 of the Pentagon Papers, "The Geneva Conference, May-July, 1954," pp. 108-178.
Go to Volume 1, Chapter 4 of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. and France in Indochina, 1950-56," pp. 179-241
Volume 1, Chapter 5 of the Pentagon Papers, "Origins of the Insurgency
in South Vietnam, 1954-1960," pp. 242-314
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 1 of the Pentagon Papers, "The Kennedy Commitments and Programs, 1961,"pp. 1-127
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 2 of the Pentagon Papers, "The Strategic Hamlet Program, 1961-1963," pp. 128-159.
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 3, of the Pentagon Papers, "Phased Withdrawal of U.S. Forces, 1962-1964," pp. 160-200.
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 4, of the Pentagon Papers, "The Overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, May-November, 1963," pp. 201-276.
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 5 of the Pentagon Papers, "US-GVN Relations, 1964-1967," pp. 277-407.
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 6 of the Pentagon Papers, "The Advisory Build-up, 1961-67," pp. 408-514
Go to Volume 2, Chapter 7 of the Pentagon Papers, "Re-Emphasis on Pacification: 1965-1967," pp. 515-623.
Go to Volume 3, Chapter 1 of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. Programs in South Vietnam, Nov. 1963-Apr. 1965," pp. 1-105.
Go to Volume 3, Chapter 2 of the Pentagon Papers, "Military Pressures Against North Vietnam, February 1964-January 1965," pp. 106-268.
Go to Volume 3, Chapter 3, of the Pentagon Papers, "The Air War in North Vietnam: Rolling Thunder Begins, February-June, 1965," pp. 269-388
Go to Volume 3, Chapter 4, of the Pentagon Papers, "American Troops Enter the Ground War, March-July 1965," pp. 389-485
Go to Volume 4, Chapter 1, of the Pentagon Papers, "The Air War in North Vietnam, 1965-1968," pp. 1-276.
Go to Volume 4, Chapter 2, of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968," pp. 277-604.
Return to Vinnie's Home Page
Return to Vietnam War Page