The Pentagon Papers
Chapter 2, "U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968," pp. 277-604.
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1971)
Section 1, pp. 320-384
II. PROGRAM NO. 3, MAY-JULY 1966
As far as the actual conduct of ground operations in Vietnam was concerned, the period of time from 1 May 1965 to 1 November 1965 was spent in building up combat and logistical forces and learning to employ them effectively. This was followed by a period from 1 November 1965 to 1 May 1966, in which the deployment of U.S. forces was extended toward the frontiers, logistical support was exercised in furnishing support to troops in sustained combat, and commanders were indoctrinated on the techniques of sustained ground combat.
The NVA/VC avoided initiating actions which might result in large and unacceptable casualties from the firepower of Allied forces. During the year the enemy became increasingly cautious in the face of increased Allied strength. The enemy tended to attack only when he had overwhelming superiority of numbers, such as during the attack in March on the Special Forces outpost at A Shau. VC tactics were designed to conserve main force strengths for the most opportune targets. The NVA/VC avoided attacking large Allied units of regiment or brigade size, but did attack isolated battalions and companies using sufficient strength to insure great numerical superiority. It was typical of the enemy to attack with one-third of his available force and to employ the remaining two-thirds of the units to set up an ambush of the Allied relief column. During attacks the NVA/VC used a hugging tactic as a means of protecting themselves from Allied artillery and air strikes. The enemy often withdrew by small squad-sized increments, using multiple routes. To defend against surveillance and artillery and air strikes, the enemy dispersed into the jungle in small units, moved frequently, and made maximum use of darkness and periods of low visibility
It is interesting to note, however, the pattern formed by MACV's operations during 1966. In the I Corps area, the large-scale operations conducted by the Marines in the spring of the year were for the most part located along the coast of the southern part of the area, in the Provinces of Quang Tin and Quang Ngai.
Beginning with Operation DOUBLE EAGLE I (28 January to 17 February), they progressed through DOUBLE EAGLE 11(19 February to 1 March); Operation UTAH (4 March); Operation TEXAS (18 March); and Operation HOT SPRINGS on 21 April. All of these operations were keyed on intelligence of an enemy build-up in and around Quang Ngai. Contact on these operations ranged from sporadic to contact with a NVA regiment on Operation UTAH. The major exception to the location of operations in this area was Operation OREGON which was conducted in the vicinity of Thua Thien in late March.
Another significant activity during the period, although not one initiated by the United States forces, was the fall of the Special Forces camp at A Shau, on the 10th of March.
Operations in the II Corps Tactical Zone in 1966 displayed a similar pattern. The two key areas of concern in II Corps were the coastal plains in Binh Dinh Province and near Tuy Hoa, and the Central Highland Plateau area around Pleiku. Although General Westmoreland appeared to be impatient to find the enemy and defeat him in the relatively sparsely populated plateau area, most of the operations in the first half of the year which resulted in significant contact with the enemy took place near the Coastal Plains. The first operation of the year, which ran from 28 January to 4 February, was Operation MASHER, renamed Operation WHITE WING because of the concern over public reaction to the image portrayed by the name "MASHER."
Operation WHITE WING continued until 6 March. This operation in the Bong Son and An Lao Valley region made heavy contact with 1 VC and 1 NVA regiment. It was followed by DAVEY CROCKETT (4-16 May) and CRAZY HORSE (17 May to 5 June), both in the same area.
Other significant operations in the spring of the year were Operations VAN BUREN and HARRISON which, together, ran from 19 January through 24 March in the area around Tuy Hoa. These operations, conducted by the 1st Brigade of the 10 1st Airborne Division, were designed to protect the rice harvest in that area.
Operations in the III Corps area began with Operation MARAUDER in Hau Nghia
and Long An Provinces on 7 January; Operation CRIMP, along the Hau
Nghia/Binh Duong border; and Operation BUCKSKIN near ChuChi on 11 January.
In February, Operation MASTIFF into the Michelin Plantation, and Operation MALLET in Phouc Tuy Province, were carried out. Neither Operation produced substantial enemy kills, but hopefully they were instrumental in breaking up VC supply and command and control facilities. By 10 February, however, Operation ROLLING STONE had been kicked off and by 20 September it had encountered a 1,000-man VC force in Binh Duong. On 7 March, another search and destroy operation in Binh Duong, Operation SILVER CITY, triggered a four-hour attack by the enemy against 173rd Airborne Brigade, one of the participating units. On 24 April, the center of operations moved further north when BIRMINGHAM began a thrust into Tay Ninh. The most significant part of BIRMINGHAM was the capture of vast quantities of enemy supplies and facilities despite the small number of enemy killed. By May of 1966, the 1st Cavalry Division was operating in the Central Highlands, the 1st Infantry Division was in operation north of Saigon, while the 25th Infantry Division had one brigade operating with the 1st Cavalry Division on the Central Plateau, with the other brigades engaged in the III Corps area.
As far as the pattern which American forces in Vietnam followed, there seemed to be an initial preoccupation in the spring of 1966 with the Viet Cong and NVA units located in the populated areas, Quang Ngai in the I Corps, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen in the II Corps and Hau Nghia and Binh Duong in the III Corps.
B. PHASE IIA (R) BECOMES PROGRAM NO. 3
1. Bookkeeping Changes
Reflecting the relatively low level of combat and the preoccupation with the build-up of U.S. forces, only minor changes and adjustments to the figures in the plan were made during the two months following the publication of Phase IIA(R). By June, however, the number of changes had begun to build up. Assistant Secretary Enthoven, in his 10 June 1966 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, reported that there had been "a large number of changes proposed by the Army . . . This package of deployment adjustments is the result of detailed CONARC studies of unit availability based upon equipment inventories, personnel training outputs, etc. These changes affect virtually every month and type of unit."
Assistant Secretary Enthoven then followed this with a memorandum on 13 June 1966 providing copies of the current statistical summary of deployments and an explanation of the major changes. Most of these were bookkeeping in nature, having to do with changes in the base from which future strengths were computed and certain other adjustments such as eliminating transients from the totals. This made no change in battalion strengths but brought the December 1966 and June 1967 totals to 378,000 and 427,000, respectively.
On 16 June, Secretary McNamara, in a handwritten note in the margin of this latest Enthoven memorandum, directed Dr. Enthoven to make some changes in strengths to be included and to issue the revised plan as a separate document, not as part of the statistical summary.
By 30 June, when Enthoven sent the revised plan back to McNamara for approval, two changes had occurred which brought the totals for December 66 and June 67 to 391,000 and 431,000. These changes were the acceleration of the deployment of two brigades of the 9th Infantry Division from January 67 to December 66, and the availability of the 196th Infantry Brigade for deployment in August of 1966. This brigade was originally scheduled for deployment to Dominican Republic, but was diverted to Vietnam. These changes brought the total of U.S. maneuver battalions scheduled to be in Vietnam by the end of 1966 to 79 and the total by June 67 to 82.
2. The Pen Is Quicker Than the Eye
The question arises here as to why this revision of the plan became Program No. 3 rather than "change x" to the 10 April Plan. The difference in the December 66 strengths of the 10 April Plan (later retroactively designated Program No. 2) was 7,500 while the difference in the June 1967 strengths was 5,900- hardly very large changes.
An explanation may lie in an exchange of memoranda which took place between 28 June and 15 July. On 28 June, the President wrote Secretary McNamara as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Tuesday, June 28, 1966
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
As you know, we have been moving our men to Viet Nam on a schedule determined by General Westmoreland's requirements.
As I have stated orally several times this year, I should like this schedule to be accelerated as much as possible so that General Westmoreland can feel assured that he has all the men he needs as soon as possible.
Would you meet with the Joint Chiefs and give me at your early convenience an indication of what acceleration is possible for the balance of this year.
Sgd: Lyndon B. Johnson
Secretary McNamara passed the question on to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who replied on 8 July, that the present revised schedule did meet the CINCPAC requirements of 79 maneuver battalions by December 1966, and that "it appears that no significant acceleration of supportable combat-ready forces beyond those indicated will be attained." McNamara then replied to the President on 15 July that the Department of Defense had been "making strenuous efforts to accelerate deployments." He added,
I am happy to report that this effort has been successful, and we will be able to provide more troops and equipment during the remainder of this calendar year than we had thought possible last spring . . . To illustrate the degree of acceleration already achieved, we now plan to have 79 Army and Marine Corps maneuver battalions in South Vietnam by December 1966, as compared to the 70 battalions we thought could be safely deployed only four months ago. We now expect to have 395,000 personnel in South Vietnam by the end of this year compared to 314,000 estimated last March.
The whole exchange may have a purpose other than simply requesting information or directing acceleration. Presumably, the President and McNamara frequently conferred on the conduct of the Vietnam war and there would seem to be little need for such a request or directive to be placed in writing unless it was to act as some sort of record which could be easily pulled out and displayed in order to demonstrate that the President had been sending troops to Vietnam as rapidly as Westmoreland needed them.
This makes sense if it is recalled that at this particular time the President was just in the process of publicly turning up the pressure on North Vietnam by ordering the bombing of the POL supplies. This effort to step up the pace in the aftermath of the disruption caused by the Buddhist struggle movement probably also included a desire to increase the pace of the ground war in an effort to convince the DRV that we could and would do whatever was necessary to defeat them in the South.
At the same time, there began to be some comment in the news, particularly by Hanson W. Baldwin of the New York Times that top military men were beginning to feel that the policy of a gradual build-up was becoming outmoded and that what was needed was a sharp increase in the application of force.
Seen in this context, the exercise of naming the last change to Phase IIA(R), "Program 3," and the exchange of memoranda between the Secretary of Defense and the President can be interpreted as follows. The President, impatient at being held back by the internal strife in South Vietnam in his effort to convince the North of our will to win the war, was anxious to get on with the war in an attempt to get it over with quickly. The implication, from a writer reputed to have close ties with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the military felt that the President was not doing enough, prompted the President to write a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense asking him specifically to see if the JCS could think of some way to accelerate the deployments of ground forces. When the JCS wrote back that the present plan did meet Westmoreland's requirements and that additional acceleration was unlikely, the President had in effect secured the agreement of his senior military men that he was doing all that was needed and possible.
The ploy of naming the latest change "Program #3" can be seen to have two effects in this effort. First, it gave the illusion of progress. Second, it neatly wrapped up the changes since the beginning of the year, making the very real progress since December readily apparent, but obscuring the fact that most of the increase in the plan had occurred by 10 April.
III. PROGRAM NO. 4, JULY-NOVEMBER 1966
A. PLANNING BEGINS FOR CY 67
1. CINCPAC's 18 June Request
However, even before the Secretary of Defense published Program No. 3, CINCPAC had submitted his Calendar Year 1966 adjusted requirements and Calendar Year 1967 requirements.
CINCPAC's requirements were based on a new concept for Vietnam. The four basic
objectives remained as they had been set forth in CINCPAC's February concept.
A new item in the June concept was that US/FWMAF and RVNAF general reserves
and ARVN corps reserve forces would conduct sustained and
coordinated operations with increased effort in the Highlands and along the western ARVN border. This was in line with the generally increased emphasis given in the concept to restricting NVA/VC forces' access to the coastal and land borders of ARVN through effective land, sea, and air interdiction operations.
During this time, two slightly different estimates of enemy strength were available. The figures used by CINCPAC in their 18 June submission were 125 confirmed, 7 probable, and 18 possible battalions in South Vietnam. It was estimated that the enemy was capable of infiltrating up to 15 battalion equivalents (9,000 personnel) per month into South Vietnam unless denied capability to do so. It was also estimated that the enemy could train 7 VC battalion equivalents (3,500 personnel) per month under the current existing situation. However, the best estimate of his intentions was that he would attempt to reinforce at the rate of 18.5 battalion equivalents (11.5 NVA, and 7 VC) per month, which would give him a maximum build-up total of 180 battalion equivalents by March 1967, at which time losses would exceed inputs and total VC strength would begin to decline.
The estimate of VC strength given in NIE 14.3-66, was as follows: The total Communist force in South Vietnam was estimated to be between 260,000 and 280,000. The major combat elements included some 38,000 North Vietnamese troops, approximately 63,000 regular main and local forces and from 100-200, 000 guerrillas. The North was estimated to have a capability to infiltrate from 75,000 to 100,000 individual replacements, but present evidence suggested that the probable inifitration would be between 55,000 and 75,000. The estimate of VC recruiting in the South was from 7,000 to 10,000 a month. A projection of strength for end of 1966 was 125,000 in the Communist regular forces, but this could grow by the end of 1967 to over 150,000. The estimated strength for 1 January 1967, in terms of battalions, was between 170 and 190.
The requirements for 1966 had been adjusted to 474,786 bringing the year-end totals for 1966 and 1967 to 395,269 and 436,406, although the maneuver battalion strength remained at 79 U.S. battalions (this did not include the windfall of the 3 battalions of the 196th Brigade). The CINCPAC submission also reiterated the request made in February for 20 battalions to reconstitute the PACOM reserve.
The requirements for CY 1967 were basically considered to be "rounding out forces." This force package basically consisted of: 5 tactical strike squadrons; 11 U.S. maneuver battalions of infantry/armored cavalry/tank configuration; a 4th rifle company for each of the 61 U.S. infantry battalions, and 7 FWMAF battalions, 6 of which were to round out the ROK Marine Brigade to a Division, and 1 additional battalion for the Australian Task Force to round it out to a full regiment. After all of the deployments recommended in the plan were carried out, the strength of U.S. forces in Vietnam would be 90 maneuver battalions and 542,588 personnel.
2. JCS Recommendations
These requirements were forwarded to the Secretary of Defense by the JCS in JCSM 506-66, on 5 August.
The memorandum noted that the JCS felt that with a few exceptions the requirements and proposed force additions were valid, and that a capabilities plan-fling conference was scheduled for early October to "correlate this planning into a comprehensive program."
3. Secretary of Defense Directs Studies
On the same day, the Secretary of Defense sent a memorandum to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as follows:
5 August 1966
MEMORANDUM FOR CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
SUBJECT: CINCPAC CY 1966 Adjusted Requirements & CY 1967 Requirements
As you know, it is our policy to provide the troops, weapons, and supplies requested by General Westmoreland at the times he desires them, to the greatest possible degree. The latest revised CINCPAC requirements, submitted on 18 June 1966, subject as above, are to be accorded the same consideration: valid requirements for SVN and related tactical air forces in Thailand will be deployed on a schedule as close as possible to CINCPAC/ COMUSMACV's requests.
Nevertheless, I desire and expect a detailed, line-by-line analysis of these requirements to determine that each is truly essential to the carrying out of our war plan. We must send to Vietnam what is needed, but only what is needed. Excessive deployments weaken our ability to win by undermining the economic structure of the RVN and by raising doubts concerning the soundness of our planning.
In the course of your review of the validity of the requirements, I would like you to consider the attached Deployment Issue Papers which were prepared by my staff. While there may be sound reasons for deploying the units questioned, the issues raised in these papers merit your detailed attention and specific reply. They probably do not cover all questionable units, particularly for proposed deployments for the PACOM area outside of SVN. I expect that you will want to query CINCPAC about these and other units for which you desire clarification.
I appreciate the time required to verify the requirements and determine our capability to meet them, but decisions must be made on a timely basis if units are to be readied and equipment and supplies procured. Therefore I would appreciate having your recommended deployment plan, including your comments on each of the Deployment Issue Papers, no later than 15 September 1965.
Sgd: ROBERT S. McNAMARA
The items questioned in the Issue Papers totalled approximately 70,000 troops with artillery and air defense providing the two largest single items.
4. The "Quick Fix"
While the JCS were beginning their review of the items questioned by the Secretary of Defense, they attempted to secure a "quick fix" in the form of a message from General Westmoreland. General Westmoreland evaluated the 1966 and 1967 force requirements as follows:
. . . Continuous study of the situation indicates that past and current developments reinforce my appraisal of the war on which the CY 66-67 force requirements were based. There are no indications that the enemy has reduced his resolve. He has increased his rate of infiltration, formed Division size units, introduced new weapons into his ranks, maintained lines of communications leading into South Vietnam, increased his use of Cambodia as a safe haven, and recently moved a combat division through the DMZ.
These and other facts support earlier predictions and suggest that the enemy intends to continue a protracted war of attrition. We must not underestimate the enemy nor his determination.
The war can continue to escalate. Infiltration of enemy troops and supplies from NVN can increase and there is no assurance that this will not occur. If, contrary to current indications, Hanoi decides not to escalate further, some modification of the forces which I have requested probably could be made. Under such circumstances, I conceive of a carefully balanced force that is designed to fight an extended war of attrition and sustainable without national mobilization.
I recognize the possibility that the enemy may not continue to follow the pattern of infiltration as projected. Accordingly, my staff is currently conducting a number of studies with the objective of placing this command and the RVN in a posture that will permit us to retain the initiative regardless of the course the enemy chooses to pursue. These include:
A. A study which considers possible courses of action by the enemy on our force posture and counteractions to maintain our superiority.
B. An analysis of our requirements to determine a balanced US force that can be employed and sustained fully and effectively in combat on an indefinite basis without national mobilization.
C. A study to determine the evolutionary steps to be taken in designing an ultimate GVN security structure.
D. A study to determine the optimum RVNAF force structure which can be attained and supported in consideration of recent experience and our estimate of the manpower pool.
Ref B [The CINCPAC submission] establishes and justifies minimal force requirements, empasizing the requirement for a well balanced, sustainable force in SVN for an indefinite period. Consequently, at this point in time I cannot justify a reduction in requirements submitted.
B. EVENTS IN THE SUMMER
1. Emphasis on Pacification
In the meantime, other things were happening which would have a significant effect on U.S. strategy in Vietnam and force requirements for supporting that strategy. First of these was the growing emphasis on pacification. The story of this growing emphasis is the subject of another study in this series. However, a few of the highlights and their implications for U.S. force requirements may be useful. Although the war between U.S. and enemy battalions progressed satisfactorily during the spring and early summer of 1966, it became increasingly apparent that the pacification effort was not keeping pace. Urged on by Komer's visits to Vietnam, both Ambassador Lodge and General Westmoreland turned their attention increasingly towards the problem of pacification. On August 3, Ambassador Lodge in his weekly report to the President mentioned that he "conferred with General Westmoreland about the Vietnamese Regular Army--the ARVN--contributing more to pacification. He agrees on the urgent desirability of hitting pacification hard at this time when other things are going quite well."
By 10 August, Lodge was putting even more emphasis upon the pacification effort. This 10 August weekly report to the President gives an indication of the atmosphere in Saigon at this time. Lodge's cable opened with the following:
In the struggle of the independence of Vietnam, the following can be said: we are not losing; we cannot lose in the normal sense of the word; never have things been going better; indeed, never have things been going so well. We are "on the track" with regard to almost every aspect of the war and we are winning in several . . . but all of this is still not called "victory." Indeed, however much they disagree about many things everyone--in Washington and Hanoi and in Saigon--seems to agree that what we have now is not victory. In truth we do not need to define "victory" and then go ahead and achieve it 100%. If it becomes generally believed that we are sure to win (just as it is now generally believed that we cannot lose) all else would be a mopping up. If there is "the smell of victory" we will be coasting.
Lodge followed this up by listing a number of things which would psychologically mean "victory." Among these were "smashing results" in the criminal war of terrorism, subversion and local guerrilla action, movement towards constitutional democracy, spectacular success in the Chieu Hoi program and the opening of the roads in Vietnam. Lodge estimated that none of these things were "just around the corner." Therefore, it seemed to him that we had quite a stretch of time ahead of us. His questions then were "Could we shorten the time? Should we shorten the time? and if so, How? It was Lodge's judgment that a quick victory as the result of a relatively big, fast offensive might be easier to obtain than a victory achieved through a relatively moderate, slow offensive. He observed that,
. . . . Maybe the Vietnamese can last indefinitely--although it may be dangerous to assume it. But certainly it would be helped by a quick end to the war, assuming always that a satisfactory outcome was achieved. At present, U.S. military forces must help the Vietnamese actively in order to get the Vietnamese pacification effort moving-let alone the war against the big units. We have high hopes that eventually they can undertake it all themselves and our soldiers have already expressed appreciation for the newly created Vietnamese political action teams and have recognized that they render the kind of service no American can render. Nonetheless, our help is at present indispensable in the field of criminal-terrorist war as it is on the purely military side.
To back up his feeling that now was the time for a big push, he quoted General Eisenhower's saying that if you desire to conquer one well readied organized and entrenched battalion with two battalions, you may succeed, but it will take a long time and many casualties. However, if you use a Division, you will do the job quickly and the losses will be slight.
Ambassador Lodge then went on to discuss the newest proposals for pacification. He said that MACV had explained that:
In the past ARVN had been so hard pressed by VC main forces and North Vietnamese army units that it had had no choice but to concentrate on major offensive and defensive operations against these forces, leaving regional and popular forces with primary responsibility for providing local security in hamlets and villages. The latter had not been adequate to this mission. Now the build-up in US and Free World military forces makes it feasible to release a major part of ARVN from its former primary task of search and destroy operations and direct its main attention to pacification. This new concept of ARVN support of pacification operations will mean that US tactical forces will be carrying the main burden of search and destroy operations against the VC main force in North Vietnamese army units, while ARVN will be concentraing on pacification.
This new interest was picked up as far away as CINCPAC where a draft military strategy to accomplish the U.S. objectives for Vietnam had been prepared. This draft was sent to MACV for his comments on 23 August 1966. This draft strategy broke down our concept for Vietnam into three inter-dependent undertakings. The first being U.S. actions against North Vietnam, the second, by actions against Communist forces in the South, and third, "nation building." In the section on nation building, draft strategy stated:
Military operations will provide a steady improvement in security throughout the country permitting extension of government control in creating an environment in which RD can proceed. The RD program is vital to the attainment of military success in South Vietnam. Our forces will vigorously support and participate in the program in such areas as logistics, sanitation, medical care, construction, and resources and population control. Military personnel having the necessary skills would be employed in political, economic and social development programs until they can be replaced by qualified civilians.
On 24 August, the Roles and Missions Study Group in Saigon had completed its study and gave its recommendations to the Ambassador. Among their recommendations were several which had implications for the deployment of U.S. forces. One of these was that "as the increase of FWMAF strength permits, these forces engage with RVNAF in clearing up operations in support of RD with the primary objective of improving the associated GVN forces." They also recommended that ARVN be the principal force in RVNAF to provide the security essential for RD. To accomplish this, they recommended that the bulk of ARVN divisional combat battalions be assigned to sector commanders, that the ARVN division be removed from RD chain of command, and that the province chief be upgraded. They further recommended that Ranger units be disbanded because of their frequently intolerable conduct toward the population and that the RF and PF become provincial and district constabularly under the control of the ministry of RD. Also recommended was that the national police (special branch) assume primary responsibility with the identification and destruction of VC infrastructure.
As far as the U.S. advisory effort was concerned, they recommended that USAID/Field Operations, USAID/Office of Public Safety, JUSPAO/Field Operations, OSA/Cadre Division and OSA/Liaison Branch have one responsibility in each province at a minimum. In MACV, they recommended that a Deputy for RD be established at the division advisory, corps advisory, and COMUSMACV levels.
General Westmoreland, on 26 August, 2 days after the Roles and Missions Study was published, sent a message to CINCPAC, information copies going to the White House and State Department, Secretary of Defense, the JCS, and CIA. He opened by saying that:
In order to promote a better understanding of the role which military operations play in the overall effort in South Vietnam I discern a need at this time to review the military situation in South Vietnam as relates to our concepts; past, present, and future. This is an appropriate time in light of the fact we are on the threshold of a new phase in the conflict resulting from our battlefield successes and from the continuing US/FWMAF buildup.
He went on to describe the enemy's infiltration and build-up in his effort to gain control in South Vietnam. After characterizing his efforts from 1 May 1965 to 1 May 1966, as being basically to build up our combat and logistical forces and to learn how to employ them effectively, he went on to describe his strategy for the period from 1 May to November 1966. This SW monsoon season had been spent seeking to:
. . . contain the enemy through offensive tactical operations (referred to as "spoiling attacks" because they catch the enemy in the preparation phases of his own offensive), force him to fight under conditions of our choosing, and deny him attainment of his own tactical objectives. At the same time, we had utilized all forces that could be made available for area and population security in support of RD . . . the threat of enemy main forces has been of such magnitude that fewer friendly forces devoted to general area security and support of RD envisualized at the time our plans were prepared for the period.
General Westmoreland visualized his strategy for the period 1 November 1966 to 1 May 1967--the NE monsoon season--as being one of maintaining and increasing the momentum of operations. The strategy would be one of
. . . a general offensive with maximum tactical support to area and population security in further support of RD. The essential tasks of RD in nation building cannot be accomplished if enemy main forces can gain access to population centers and destroy our efforts. US/FW forces, with their mobility and coordination with RVNAF, must take the fight to the enemy by attacking his main forces and invading his base areas. Our ability to do this is improving steadily . . . The growing strength of US/FW forces will provide the shield that will permit ARVN to shift its weight of effort to an extent not heretofore feasible, to direct support of RD. Also, I visualize that a significant number of the US/FW maneuver battalions will be committed to tactical areas of responsibility (TAOR) missions. These missions encompass base security and at the same time support RD by spreading security radially from the bases to protect more of the population . . . At the same time, ARVN troops will be available if required to reinforce offensive operations and to serve as reaction forces for outlying security posts and government centers under attack . . . The priority effort of ARVN forces will be in direct support of the RD program. In many instances, province chiefs will exercise operational control over these units. This fact notwithstanding, the ARVN division structure must be maintained and it is essential that the division commander enthusiastically support RD. Our highly capable US division commanders who are closely associated with corresponding ARVN commanders are in a position to influence them to do what is required. We intend to employ all forces to get the best results measured, among other things, in terms of population security; territory cleared of enemy influence; VC/NVA bases eliminated; and enemy guerrillas, local forces, and main forces destroyed. Barring any unforeseen change in enemy strategy, I visualize our strategy for South Vietnam will remain essentially the same throughout 1967 . . . In summation, the MACV mission, which is to assist GVN to defeat the VC/NVA forces and extend GVN control throughout South Vietnam, prescribes our two principal tasks. We must defeat the enemy through offensive operations against his main forces and bases. We must assist the GVN to gain control of the people by providing direct support of revolutionary development . . . Simultaneous accomplishment of these tasks is required to allow the people of SVN to get on with the job of nation building.
Westmoreland closed his message by adding that Ambassador Lodge concurred with the following comment:
I wish to stress my agreement with the attention paid to this message to the importance of military support for RD. After all, the main purpose of defeating the enemy through offensive operations against his main forces and bases must be to provide the opportunity through RD to get at the heart of the matter, which is the population of South Vietnam.
A possible interpretation of this message is that it is a reaction both to a growing tendency to focus almost all attention on the pacification effort, and to the on-going battle over who would control the RD effort. General Westmoreland seemed to be saying that, while he fully recognized the essential importance of pacification effort, we should not lose sight of the importance of the mission performed by US/FW forces in keeping the enemy main force units away from the areas undergoing pacification. However, he did not want to restrict MACV only to fighting the war against main force units. He indicated that some US/FW forces would be used in direct support of RD activities, and recommended that the ARVN division be left in the RD chain of command, keeping the RD effort "militarized," and more susceptible to control through MACV. The military's coolness to many of the recommendations of the Roles and Missions Study is indicated by the fact that MACV did not forward the study to CINCPAC until 26 September, while CINCPAC did not forward the study to the JCS until 26 October.
However, Ambassador Lodge, on August 31, felt that he had finally achieved "the biggest recent American effort affecting Vietnam . . . giving pacification the highest priority which it has ever had--making it, in effect, the main purpose of all our activities." He pointed to Westmoreland's "concept of military operations in South Vietnam," a MACV proposal to put ARVN in support of pacification and the report of the Inter-Agency Roles and Missions Study Group as evidence. He did, however, begin to back away from the implication of his earlier cable (in which he felt that now was the time for a big push) by quoting General DePuy as saying that
. . . As a general rule, he does not undertake pacification operations until RD personnel are ready to put in. Otherwise, he says, the effort is wasted and ground is covered which simply returns to the enemy if no organized formations exist which can be left behind. This statement could influence the question of how much to increase the number of US troops in Vietnam. If US troops assigned to pacification are limited by the availability of RD personnel, and RD personnel are presently being trained at the rate of about 16,000 to 20,000 a year, then this fact (unless offset by others such as increased NVN infiltration) must have a limiting effect on the number of US troops which can profitably be used in Vietnam.
Ambassador Lodge then quoted General Westmoreland as believing that we had "reached a crossover point where the rate of enemy losses equals the rate of infiltration," raising the question whether a certain number of US troops should be pared off of one task (the fighting of main force units) to go to the other (pacification).
He next modified his earlier quotation of General Eisenhower's to read:
There were advantages in having overwhelmingly superior military forces which would cut the time and cut the casualties--if conditions at the specific time and place warranted it. Clearly, this limit on producing RD personnel is a new and big "if."
Lodge finally rounded out his appeals to authority by quoting an article by Sir Robert Thompson in the 12 August Spectator which advised that American military strategy
. . . should be rather to commit the minimum forces against the enemy's purely military forces, sufficient only to keep the Viet Cong dispersed and off balance. Thus the remainder of the American troops could then be committed to providing the punch and protection without which the pacification program still left almost entirely in Vietnamese hands will not gather momentum.
Lodge closed by claiming that the new stress on pacification was consistent with Thompson's advice.
2. Westmoreland's Attention Turns to the Sanctuaries
However, in spite of Ambassador Lodge's belief that the attention of General Westmoreland had been turned toward pacification, and that pacification was now to receive first priority, events were occurring which began to divert COMUSMACV's attention:
The NVA/VC had planned to shift into the final annihilation phase as far back as early 1965. The buildup of US forces in particular in late 1965 and early 1966 inhibited the shift by the VC into their final phases. As an alternative the enemy attempted to build up larger forces in certain areas in accordance with Giap's version of "strategic mobility." The areas wherein the enemy attempted these buildups were Quang Tn Province in the I CTZ, and the border areas opposite the highlands in the II CTZ. In July it appeared that the enemy might also attempt to create a holding area between the highlands and the Delta by the use of sufficient forces to prevent the US and FW forces from reinforcing the main threat in the highlands.
During late June and early July the NVA attempted to move the 324B Div across the DMZ without detection and establish a base area complete with underground shelters and supply caches. At the same time the NVA/VC attempted to establish a base for a two or three division force in the southwestern part of Kontum Province. In addition, it appeared that in War Zone C an attempt would be made to train and re-equip the 9th VC Div and reinforce it with a regiment of the NVA, and to establish a base area east of Tay Ninh. With the advent of the northeast monsoon season in October the NVA/VC had planned to launch attacks from the base area into Quang Tn and Thua Thien. The NVA 2d Div was to make diversionary attacks along the coast between Quang Tn and Quang Ngai. From the base area in southern Kontum an attack to the east would be made in coordination with the NVA 3d Div in Binh Dinh. The objective was to control the Pleiku-Qui Nhon axis, a classic element of strategy which long has been of interest to the NVA and VC. The main effort in the III CTZ was an attack from the base east of Tay Ninh by the 9th VC Div and the 10 1st NVA Regt. The aim of this attack was to control Tay Ninh, Bien Quong, and Hau Nghia, the three provinces northwest of Saigon. In the Delta the VC continued random attacks on outposts and isolated units. Toward the end of the year the enemy disposition of one division in Quang Ngai, one in Binh Dinh and one in Phu Yen indicated a possible intention to retain control over large population centers and LOC's and to increase his access to rice, fish, and salt. The enemy dispositions also made it possible for him to threaten to isolate the I CTZ.
By July, the focus of operations had shifted. In I Corps during early July, Operation HASTINGS, the largest combined operation of the war to that date, began. This operation took place in the area south of the DMZ. As the operation continued, heavy contact was made with the NVA 325B Division, which had infiltrated through the DMZ with the suspected purpose of attacking and seizing Quang Tri Province. Operation HASTINGS was followed by Operation PRAIRIE, which began on 3 August, when one battalion was retained south of the DMZ to keep track of the NVA 324B and 341st Divisions which had been driven back into the DMZ in Operation HASTINGS. Contact with the enemy began immediately and continued to increase. The Marine Corps forces were redistributed and Operation PRAIRIE continued until the end of the year. During this period of time, amphibious Operation DECK HOUSE IV was launched against enemy units which had been detected trying to infiltrate from the DMZ southward along the coast.
In II Corps, General Westmoreland set forth his strategy for the highlands in the immediate future. It was apparent that, although the enemy had begun his final SW monsoon campaign, the US SW monsoon campaign was proceeding admirably and had only to continue to keep the enemy off balance. General Westmoreland envisioned a series of operations in which the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, and a brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division would provide surveillance and a screen to the west of Kontum and Pleiku.
Late in the spring, on 10 May, the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division had initiated Operation PAUL REVERE along the Cambodian border near Chupong Mountains. This operation was to be evaluated by MACV as "probably the single most significant Allied action in keeping the enemy from mounting his vaunted SW monsoon offensive." By July, when the NVA infiltration appeared to have become too much for them to handle, the 1st Air Cavalry was called in to assist. When the 1st Cavalry Division became involved the operation was renamed PAUL REVERE II. It continued for another 25 days when the major threat seemed to abate, at which time the operation was again redesignated, this time, PAUL REVERE III.
In III Corps, BIRMINGHAM was followed by EL PASO II, which ran from 2 June through July. This search and destroy operation marked the entrance of the 1st Infantry Division into the War Zone C. The results of this operation included killing of over 800 enemy, destruction of a substantial quantity of rice, salt, and fish, and the engagement of three VC regiments, the 27 1st, 272nd, and 273rd--the regiments of the 9th VC Division.
By August, Operations HASTINGS south of the DMZ in I Corps, PAUL REVERE II along the Cambodian border in the Central Highlands of II Corps, and EL PASO II along the Cambodian border in III Corps had indicated to COMUSMACV that infiltration was increasing from sanctuaries outside the boundaries of South Vietnam. The most pressing of these infiltration routes appeared to be the one through the DMZ. On 8 August, Ambassador Lodge sent a message to the Department of State.
The recent upsurge of enemy infiltration thru the DMZ is causing a complete re-evaluation of Allied military posture in Quang Tri Province. If, as is strongly indicated, the enemy has made the decision to increase the tempo of his operations thru the DMZ, additional steps must be taken to block that approach effectively.
Ambassador Lodge quoted General Westmoreland as advancing the suggestion, with which he agreed, that there might be merit in giving these measures the greatest possible international flavor by constituting a multi-national organization to help block enemy's infiltration through the DMZ.
The organization would be known as the KANZUS Force from its national components: Korean, Australian, New Zealand, and US. As presently visualized, the organization would be brigade size, with 2 US Marine and 1 ROK battalion as the combat elements. Individual battalions would retain their national identity. Formation of the command headquarters supporting structure would provide a place for incorporating token remaining national contributions from Australia and New Zealand and others such as the Philippines, should this become suitable . . . The organization, commanded by a USMC officer, possibly a brigadier general, would operate in the US tactical chain of command in close coordination with and in support of the ARVN.
Ambassador Lodge foresaw that:
The establishment of such a force might eventually provide us with a basis for suggesting the presence of an international force of different composition under UN or Asian regional sponsorship which could inherit the anti-infiltration role of KANZUS. An eventual successor would function obviously as a political and psychological cordon sanitaire and not, of course, as a military Maginot Line. However, a physical barrier is a possible future development.
On 10 August, General Westmoreland, in a message for Admiral Sharp and General Wheeler, pointed out that the enemy "has increased his rate of infiltration, formed division-size units, introduced new weapons into his ranks, mainlines of communication into South Vietnam, increased his use of Cambodia as a safe haven, and recently moved a combat division through the DMZ."
The KANZUS suggestion was only the first of a series of ideas proposed by various
people and agencies to limit infiltration through the DMZ. On 16 August, Lodge
forwarded to the Secretary of State General Westmoreland's proposal that:
We consider defoliation of the southern portion of the DMZ as a possible means to prevent enemy infiltration through that area . . . In the event defoliation of the DMZ is not acceptable, MACV staff has drawn up an alternate plan which would call for defoliation of a large area just south of DMZ running east from Laos border to fringe of coastal lowlands. Target would be sufficiently south to insure against accidental spread into DMZ itself. I see no serious political objections.
On September 7th, the JCS sent to CINCPAC, with an information copy to COMUSMACV, a proposal which had resulted from a Jason summer study on an air supported anti-infiltration barrier.
This study suggested that an air supported barrier system specifically designed
against the North Vietnamese infiltration system through Laos, based on further
development of components that in the main were available, might be obtainable
in about a year after the decision to go ahead. The barrier would have two
somewhat different parts, one designed for foot traffic and one against vehicles. The proposed location for the foot traffic barrier was the region along the southern edge of the DMZ to the Laotian border, then north to Tchepone, and then to the vicinity of Muong Sen. The location for the anti-vehicle part of the system was further to the west where the road network was more open to traffic.
The anti-troop infiltration system (which would also function against supply porters) would operate as follows. There would be a constantly renewed minefield of non-sterilizing Gravel (and possibly button bomblets) distributed in patterns covering interconnected valleys and slopes over the entire barrier region . . . There would also be a pattern of acoustic detectors to locate mine explosions indicating an attempted penetration. The minefield is intended to deny opening of alternate routes for troop infiltrators and should be emplaced first. On the trails currently being used from which mines may-we tentatively assume-be cleared without great difficulty, a more dense pattern of sensors would be designed to locate groups of infiltrators. Air strikes using Gravel and SADEYES would then be called against these targets. The sensor patterns would be monitored 24 hours a day by patrol aircraft. The struck area would be reseeded with new mines.
The anti-vehicle system would consist of acoustic detectors distributed every mile or so along all truckable roads in the interdicted area, monitored 24 hours a day by patrol aircraft with vectored strike aircraft using SADEYE to respond to signals that trucks or truck convoys are moving.
The Gravel mines were small mines designed to damage the enemy's feet and legs. These mines were to sterilize (become non-effective) after a given period of time. The button bomblets were small mines (aspirin size) designed to give a loud report but not to injure when stepped on by a shod foot. Their purpose was to make a noise, indicating pedestrian traffic, which could be picked up by the acoustic sensors. The SADEYE was a bomblet cluster, dropped from aircraft, which was exceedingly effective against personnel.
This was not the first barrier proposed against infiltration from North Vietnam. Earlier in the year, in April, CINCPAC had replied to a suggestion to construct a conventional barrier, utilizing mines, and wire with troops to monitor and back it up, which would run from the coast across the northern portion of South Vietnam through the panhandle of Laos, to Thailand. CINCPAC and MACV had argued against this barrier because of the tremendous strain it placed upon the logistical facilities in both South Vietnam and Thailand, and because of the large number of troops which it required. The CINCPAC reply to the Jason proposal was sent to the JCS on 13 September 1966. Although CINCPAC conceded that "any measure which will effectively impede, disrupt flow of men and materiel from North Vietnam into South Vietnam merits consideration." Their judgment was that even "if we were to invest the time, effort and resources in a barrier project, it is doubtful that it would improve US position in South Vietnam." CINCPAC expressed doubt whether the barrier suggested would impede infiltration. He contended that a barrier system must be tended; if not, it could be breached with ease, while the flow of men and materiel to the VC/NVA continued. An aerial delivered obstacle would not be expected to supplant the need for soldiers on the ground, and the time, effort and resources of men and materiel required to establish a ground barrier would be tremendous. Also, he expressed his misgivings over the reliability and practicality of the electronic and other type gadgetry which would be in the barrier.
However, General Westmoreland was interested in another anti-infiltration device
which was under development by the Army. This was a Caltrop-a non-explosive
device designed to penetrate enemy footwear to inflict wounds. On 24 September
1966, General Westmoreland had indicated that a 30-90 days sterilization time
for the Caltrop would be acceptable, and on 2 October, he recommended to CINCPAC
and JCS that the Caltrop be deployed for operational tests as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, all of these ideas for halting or slowing the infiltration through the DMZ were to become effective sometime in the future. General Westmoreland's problem was very much in the present. On September 13, he sent Admiral Sharp a message on the threat to the I Corps Tactical Zone. In this message, Westmoreland laid out what he considered to be the nature of the threat posed by the enemy sanctuaries; in this case, the Demilitarized Zone and North Vietnam immediately above the DMZ.
The current enemy build-up . . . constitutes a direct threat to US/FW GVN forces in I CTZ and to the security of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces. The seriousness of this threat underscores the importance and urgency of utilizing all practicable means to prevent the enemy from generating a major offensive designed to "liberate" the provinces in question and to inflict maximum casualties on US/FW/GVN forces. . . . The enemy is consolidating his position in northern I CTZ and, according to my J-2, the 324th B Division is reinforced by the 341st Division and being further reinforced by possibly two additional divisions, one now in the vicinity of the DMZ and one on the move south. He continues to use the DMZ as a troop haven and as a supply head for his forces moving into northern I CTZ. . . . The size of his build-up, disposition of forces, forward stockage of supplies, AA weapons systems being deployed southward, and depth of patrol penetrations indicate by all accepted standards that the enemy is developing an offensive as opposed to defensive posture. By October, the weather in Laos will be clearing and the enemy may be expected once again to move personnel and supporting materiel in quantity through the area, thus permitting him to engage our flank in Quang Tri Province from the west. Conversely, worsening weather in the coastal plain of I and II CTZ's would work to the enemy's advantage in attacks on friendly positions inn these areas. Utilizing traditional routes through the Laos panhandle he will be able to reinforce large-scale diversionary attacks further south in coordination with a main assault through the DMZ and against the Western flank. The success of our efforts in coping with enemy initiatives has been based upon spoiling attacks by ground and air forces to disrupt the planes before he is capable of completing preparations for attack. He has thus been kept off balance from mounting a successful offensive. It now would appear, however, that because of our approach the enemy is employing a new tactic entailing use of sanctuaries in the DMZ and north thereof in an effort to prevent spoiling attacks. Since we are unable to exercise the initiative in moving ground forces into the DMZ or NVN we are left with fire power alone as the instrument for attack. I consider it imperative in this regard that we utilize aerial delivered fire power and naval gun fire in this situation if we are to thwart the enemy's pending offensive as discussed above.
He concluded by requesting employment of B-52's against the North Vietnamese forces infiltrating through the DMZ.
On 16 September General Westmoreland sent a message to Admiral Sharp in which he presented his concept for handling infiltration through the Laotian panhandle. As General Westmoreland put it, "With the arrival of the NE monsoon season weather in Laotian panhandle will be clearing and enemy is expected to infiltrate personnel and supporting materiel in quantity through that area. The requirement to carry this threat is evident. If allowed to go unchecked, it will permit enemy to engage our flank in Quang Tn Province from the west and will permit large-scale diversionary attacks further south. The seriousness of this thrust led us to development of a new concept to block, deny, spoil and disrupt the infiltration of enemy personnel and supplies through Laos during the forthcoming dry season." The concept hinged upon two basic principles. "First, we will intensify around-the-clock surveillance and interdiction of known infiltration routes. This process will stress attack of selected interdiction points as well as strikes against targets of opportunity. Second, we will concentrate our resources on successive key target areas to be known as 'slams.'" Once an area was designated as a slam it would be hit with B-52 and Tactical Air Strikes to neutralize it. This action would be followed by visual and photo air reconnaissance and/or ground reconnaissance patrols and, if appropriate, exploitation forces. Upon their withdrawal they would leave mines and booby traps, and the Air Force would follow with air delivered land mines. In special instances, General Westmoreland planned to leave stay-behind reconnaissance parties. The term "slam" itself came from "seek, locate, annihilate, and monitor."
On 20 September 1966, General Westmoreland followed this up with yet another message to Admiral Sharp.
Subject: Containment of Enemy Forces in Sanctuaries
1. The threat to South Vietnam of large enemy forces in the sanctuaries of Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam has now clearly emerged and is of increasing concern to me. Particularly vulnerable to enemy attacks from these sanctuaries are the Special Forces Camps of Khe Sanh, Duc Co, Du Dop, Loc Ninh and Song Be. We are therefore compelled to seek ways of containing the enemy forces in their sanctuaries and preventing a major ingress of these forces in South Vietnam.
2. The problem is now under active study by my staff. Redeployment of available forces to counter this threat may be necessary and could seriously jeopardize other important undertakings. Moreover, additional forces already requested may not be sufficient to contain the enemy forces in their sanctuaries and still accomplish other essential tasks. Studies are now underway to determine what additional forces will be required.
3. The above is submitted for your information in connection with the force requirements and capabilities actions now in progress. You will be advised of the results of our current studies.
3. Lodge's Attention Turns to Inflation
While General Westmoreland's attention was being increasingly drawn towards the problems of infiltration from sanctuaries outside the borders of Vietnam, Ambassador Lodge's attention was being increasingly drawn towards the problem of inflation inside the borders. As Ambassador Porter in Saigon wrote to Komer on 17 August:
Fiscal year 1966 was a year of inflation. Money supply rose by 72% and Saigon working class cost of living index by 92%. Near of end of year (June 18) the piaster was devalued from 60 piasters per dollar to 118 piasters per dollar and six weeks later at time of writing, prices had begun to stabilize. . . . It appears at this writing (Aug 11, 1966) that devaluation of June 18 has been successful surgical operation. It has increased by nearly 100% the number of piasters withdrawn from circulation for each dollar of imports, and this has sopped up enough demand to stabilize prices and actually reduce the total monetary circulation. Retail price indices have shown little change for last five weeks. Black market price of green dollars appears to have levelled off at a level of about 185-195, and price of gold also declining. There remain, however, number of threats to this newly established and so far fragile stability.
He then listed five primary threats: The first was wage stability. There had been a general round of wage increases since devaluation, but it was not yet certain that labor demands had been satisfied.
Second was mounting U.S. expenditure:
US military build-up has tendency to generate continuously greater plaster expenditure, both by US DOD officially, and by our troops as individuals. Current total rate of expenditure around 36 billion piasters a year. In US, DOD programming rise to rate of over 47 billion piasters was originally foreseen for fiscal year 1967. This order of increase would tend very definitely to upset the stabilization effort. Budget of 36 billion piasters for total DOD generated expenditure in FY 1967 has now been ordered, but this may prove very difficult to implement.
The third danger was seen to be an increased GVN budget. The total GVN civil and military expenditures were about 55 billion plasters in FY 1966, and they might rise to 70 billion or more in FY 67.
On 15 September the Saigon Embassy forwarded their latest computation of the inflationary gap, based upon programs and budgets which had been submitted for CY 67.
The GVN military budget was estimated at 57 billion piasters, while the GVN civil budget was estimated at 40.1 billion plasters. The U.S. expenditures were estimated to be as follows: US Military Personal Expenditures, 16.9 billion piasters; US Military Official Purchases, 28.7 billion; Wage Increase for Local Personnel, 2.4 billion; US Mission Civilian Housing, 1 billion; US Military Cantonments, 3 billion; Expenditures of other US Agencies, 8 billion; and Non-Official Purchases, I billion. With credit expansion and exports added in the total, monetary creation projected for year 1967 was 175.9 billion piasters. Total monetary absorption was estimated to he 131.8 billion piasters which left an inflationary gap of 44.1 billion piasters. The message concluded:
We consider a gap of this magnitude to be unacceptable in light of current U.S. policies. Mission currently studying ways to reduce gap.
In answer to this news, the Department of State sent back a message on 23 September. It stated that the size of the inflationary gap was "very disturbing," and tersely indicated that:
. . . much work needs to be done on policy side to get US house in order in preparation for discussions with GVN. . . . Official US piaster spending estimated to be 45 billion piasters. However [according to your message, U.S. expenditures], total 59.8 piasters, of which military expenditures alone total 48.6 excluding US civilian housing project and any portion 2.4 billion for wage increase for local military hire. This would appear to represent 50% increase over present level official US spending (including over 1/3 increase in military spending) which is certainly way out of line with stabilization. Military spending figures also gross variance with quarterly ceilings imposed for the first half of CY 67 of 9 billion piasters.
Apparently, at this time Secretary McNamara was also becoming interested in the piaster situation in Vietnam. On 22 September, the JCS answered a question given them on 2 September by Secretary of Defense with regard to a preliminary examination of the piaster cost per man for the U.S. forces in Vietnam compared to those of GVN forces. Their reply indicated that "the piaster costs per man for U.S. forces [were] several times the magnitude of the joint support piaster costs per man for GVN armed forces. [However,] since available indicators [did] not support a comparable ratio of combat effectiveness per man, consideration purely on a plaster cost basis might suggest increasing GVN armed forces strength in relation to U.S." On the other hand, other considerations had indicated that "we may be near the upper manpower limit on GVN armed forces strength." The Joint Chiefs indicated they would "include appropriate consideration of potential piaster cost tradeoffs in future recommendations with respect to the strength of both US and GVN armed forces in Vietnam," hut did not "foresee significant plaster advantages as becoming available through feasible exchanges."
C. CONFLICTING INEXORABLES
1. Lodge's Piaster Ceiling
On 1 October 1966, Ambassador Lodge sent back his reply to the State Department's
1. Repeated attempts to obtain mission council concurrence on piaster budgets for the calendar year of 1967 have not proven successful. After considerable study of this entire matter, I, nevertheless, propose that Washington accept A U.S. piaster expenditure ceiling for 1967 of 42 billion for the U.S. military and 16 for the U.S. civilian elements. This total of 58 billion for 1967 compares with 42 billion in 1966. These spending levels, when offset by anti-inflationary measures, give an estimated so-called "inflationary gap" of 10 billion piasters for 1967. In my judgment, higher U.S. piaster spending levels would cause an acceleration of inflation which would jeopardize our political and military progress.
B. Staff Studies
2. During the USAID presentation to the mission council of its 1967 program it became apparent that a decision on the USAID program could be made only in conjunction with a review of all U.S. agency programs in terms of their piaster and manpower requirements. I requested a review of planned programs and spending levels of U.S. agencies and received requests totalling 75 billion piasters (Ref. A), of which about 49 billion piasters were for US military and 26 billion for U.S. civilian purposes. This compares to a total U.S. piaster spending this year of about 42 billion piasters, of which the military constitutes 30 and the civilian 12. The increase requested by the military of 19/billion is obviously closely related to the proposed increase in troop strength which latest reports available to me show will go from about 386,000 by the end of 1966 to about 519,000 or so by the end of 1967. The increase requested by the civilian sector of 14 billion is to finance the sharply expanding of "the other war" activities. Together these suggested budget levels would require an increase of 33 billion piasters, which when placed on top of an already taut economy would certainly cause serious inflation. The question is not how much we must cut, but where.
3. I asked for a staff study to reduce these piaster requests to a level which is consistent with reasonable economic stability during 1967 and yet which does not jeopardize our military progress and our civilian programs. The staff recommended a level of 33 billion piasters for the U.S. Military Forces. MACV stated that this was too low to allow for expansion of forces in 1967 and I agreed. A second staff study was prepared which set 39 billion as a maximum figure for the U.S. Military Forces. This too was turned down by General Westmoreland as being inadequate to meet the needs of MACV during 1967. Again, I agree.
4. On the civilian side the first staff study recommended a level of 18 billion piasters of which USAID would receive 12 billion, This is 3 billion less than USAID requested. The second staff study proposed 16 billion piasters of which USAID would receive 10 billion. His reduction was not agreed to by Mr. McDonald of USAID who said he did not regard this reduced amount sufficient financing for essential GVN/US build-up on the civilian side.
C. The Danger of Inflation
5. Failing agreement among U.S. agencies, I have reviewed both the various piaster requests and the economic outlook and am here presenting for Washington consideration my proposal for piaster spending ceilings in calendar year 1967. Before presenting this proposal, it is important to get
clearly in mind why an increase in spending by U.S. agencies of 33 billion piasters during 1967 is intolerable and must be reduced. Let us for the sake of argument consider this whole subject in the light of the American soldier's life. Clearly, his life can be imperiled several ways:
A) The most obvious is by defeat in battle.
B) But in this country, a wildcat, soul destroying inflation which means that the Vietnamese military personnel cannot make both ends meet and threby the Vietnamese armed forces lose fighting quality could also jeopardize our own troops.
C) Also, an inflation which results in thousands of adults demonstrating in the streets (where formerly we have had only rock-throwing teenagers) ,/ with the resulting political instability leading to the overthrow of the government, could be an even more pressing danger-more so even than defeat in battle. Indeed, RAND reports indicate Viet Cong prisoners no longer believe that they can be victorious in battle, but are counting on overthrowing the government in Saigon. This is the political danger which inflation can cause.
6. Therefore, if we look at this proposition solely from the standpoint of the life and death of the soldier, we find ourselves caught between various inexorables: the inexorables of battle, of inflation, and of politics.
7. Let us now consider these various, apparently conflicting, inexorables, taking the military first.
8. I believe that we should bring as massive an American military force to bear in Viet-Nam as we can and that we should do so as quickly as we can-so long as this can be done without a wildcat inflation and without other lethal political effects. I believe that when one has recourse to force, overwhelming strength brings a quicker result, a shorter war and thus fewer casualties.
9. The political and inflationary dangers which the presence of troops creates must be constantly watched. We have, clearly, for example, already gone too far in putting Americans-military or civilian-into Vietnamese communities, jostling the Vietnamese, squatting on after leases have expired, and in effect telling them to move over.
10. 1 understand that today some 40 percent of U.S. troops are assigned under the general heading of "Guarding Bases" and that the remaining 60 percent is engaged in so-called "Offensive Operations" against main force units. It now appears that troops are going to be needed for an entirely new kind of work-that is "Containment of the Sanctuaries" in countries adjacent to Viet-Nam which are becoming very big. The troops engaged in such work would be in relatively unpopulated country and they should not have serious political consequence.
11. If, on the other hand, troops are stationed in the Delta, which is both thickly populated and a great rice producing country, the political and economic dangers could be great. These things cannot be foretold ahead of time and must be watched on a daily basis.
12. Turning now to the civil side, I feel it is noteworthy that USAID expenditures for 1966 are 7.6 billion and I believe we could do the absolutely vital things in 1967 with somewhere around that amount. This is because of my belief, as regards civil expenditures, that the problem is not so much to do more as it is to do what we do better and more skillfully, thereby developing and encouraging Vietnamese self help and skill development. Instead of going to the 1966 level of 7.6, I propose an increase of up to 10. With other civilian expenditures I thus propose an overall civilian ceiling of 16 billion piasters. Having in mind the fact that in this painful contemplation the immoveable force is up against the irresistible object, I believe this will be the best thing to do-difficult though it is.
13. The U.S. military is thus assigned a ceiling of 42 billion piasters for 1967. This proposed military ceiling of 42 billion piasters is 12 billion higher than the spending level for 1966. It constitutes an increase of 9 billion piasters above the first staff study recommendation of 33 billion. It represents an increase of 3 billion above the second staff study. The level of 42 billion piasters appears to be reasonable in light of our serious inflationary problem. This represents an increase of 6 billion piasters above the current piaster ceiling for this fiscal year of 36 billion piasters. While it is clear that some increase over the current ceiling is necessary in view of the troop buildup, I feel that an increase above 42 billion would be dangerous. Such an increase would confront us with a choice between still further reducing civilian programs or facing dangerous inflation during 1967. Neither of these alternatives is acceptable.
14. I, therefore, recommend that Washington approve my proposal for U.S. piaster spending which, when added to Vietnamese spending, would give the following grand total: a military senior budget of 92 billion piasters of which 50 would be for VNAF and 42 for MACV, and a civilian piaster of 41 billion, of which 25 would be for GVN civil budget, 10 for USAID, and 6 for non-USAID U.S. Moher expenditures total 15 billion, of which credit expansion amounts to 12. This makes a total of piaster expenditures of 148 billion. Factors which decrease the money supply, such as imports and taxes, are estimated to total 138 billion piasters, leaving a so-called "Gap" of 10 billion (separate telegram will follow giving further details).
E. Weaknesses of the GVN
15. Please note two points which reinforce the necessity for keeping our planned "Inflationary Gap" to 10 billion piasters or less.
16. First, I doubt whether any stabilization agreement here can do so much or so well as described in Ref C. Vietnamese officials will probably try to oblige us by agreeing to a number of things, simply in order to be polite. But when it comes to measures which really have some teeth, I am not optimistic. What made Ky's measures on devaluation and port operations valuable is that they were things which were clearcult and which he could carry out. I fear a much larger U.S.-sponsored program in VietNam because I believe that the GVN is administratively too weak to carry them out and special interests are still very strong. It is a bit like a flywheel belt which can be tightened so much that traction is lost and the motor merely spins without getting the flywheel to move. As I have said in previous telegrams, I believe there is a rate at which these people can go ahead and anything beyond that rate tends to be lip service. The government continues, in my mind, to resemble little Eva, jumping from ice floe to ice floe. This makes the September 11 Election a particularly welcome miracle, but somewhat of a miracle nevertheless. The government's position is tenuous and precarious.
17. Second, our gap estimates are on the optimistic side. I doubt whether the GVN can raise domestic tax revenues from about 13.5 billion piasters
this year to 20 billion plasters next year. Furthermore, given the present lull in the market and continuing port congestion, it is doubtful that imports will reach the assumed level of $725 million during 1967. To the extent they do not and customs collection are less than planned, we will be faced with a larger Gap and hence more inflation than we now anticipate in our planning figures.
F. Key Assumptions
18. Based on the above thinking, we made as stringent a budget plan as we could, consistent with our other military and civilian objectives. Our proposed budget plan is based on the following assumptions.
A) Vietnamese Armed Forces are assumed to hold during 1967 at a force level equal to that reached at the end of October 1966. I feel that given our inflationary situation, it is imperative that the Vietnamese military not place further drains on the limited manpower resources in this country. These drains have had a weakening effect on the ability of the civil government to perform. With the improvement in our military position during 1966, it seems desirable to concentrate in 1967 on improving the quality of the VN Armed Forces rather than expanding them in size.
B) We have assumed a wage increase by the GVN of only 10 per cent. Clearly this is the minimum wage increase that would be acceptable.
C) We have held both the civil and the military GVN budgets to bare-bones levels.
D) We have assumed that the military will maintain their piaster expenditures throughout calendar year 1967 at the 42 billion plaster level. This is a critical assumption and is based on my understanding that Secretary McNamara has issued instructions to hold U.S. military piaster spending to within 36 billion piasters during this fiscal year. Admittedly, this will mean a further stretchout of construction programs, additional measures to reduce personal expenditures by U.S. troops, and possibly the need for additional U.S. support troops. If this budget level cannot be held, it will jeopardize our entire anti-inflationary program here in Viet-Nam. I am most appreciative of the understanding and excellent cooperation which Secretary McNamara has given to us on this subject.
E) We have cut the USAID/GVN programs by one-third, bringing them down from the 15 which was requested to 10 billion piasters. I was most reluctant to make a cut of such proportions in this vital area, but feel that we cannot meet our stabilization objectives unless both the civilian and military programs are cut. Cutting one without the other neither serves our interests nor allows us to meet our objectives. Furthermore, it seems to me desirable on the civilian side, to concentrate on improving the quality of programs as well as expanding them.
In essence, what Ambassador Lodge seemed to be looking for was a solution which would balance the conflicting inexorables, especially those of battle and inflation. He ended up by straddling the fence. He stated that he believed that we should "bring as massive an American military force to bear in Vietnam that we can and that we should do so as quickly as we can." But he hedged by adding "so long as this can be done without a wildcat inflation and other lethal political effects." He seemed to think he had found a solution in Westmoreland's new fascination with the sanctuaries across the borders of South Vietnam. He hoped that with large numbers of troops employed in the less populated areas, it might be possible to have both the massive force quickly employed and a relatively small inflationary effect. However, he seems to have been misjudging what Westmoreland had in mind.
Nevertheless, his 42 billion piaster limit on U.S. military expenditures was to become one of the controlling factors in the decision on Program #4 strengths.
2. Westmoreland's Reclama
On 5 October, COMUSMACV sent a message to Washington to set forth his reclama to the Ambassador's proposed piaster expenditure limit.
1. . . . While MACV does not concur in the Ambassador's message, we are fully committed to maintaining restrictions on US spending in Vietnam. COMUSMACV's position concerning the military and economic situation in SVN is as follows:
A. The primary mission of US forces in RVN is to defeat the VC/ NVA forces in SVN, and to assist GVN in extending governmental control throughout the land. If MACV must operate within a piaster ceiling of 42 billion for CY 67 and if our actual deployments approach the approved deployment level as identified in OSD's Southeast Asia Deployment Program No. 3 dated 1 Aug 66, it would mean that US troop deployments to RVN would have to stop about mid-December 1966. Such action would deprive us of at least one division and the required combat service support necessary to balance our forces as identified and approved in the CY 66 force requirements. A US military piaster expenditure ceiling of 47.4 billion is the minimum requirement needed by MACV in order to conduct sustained operations of the OSD FY 66 approved force level of 445,000, an average of 440,000 during CY 67.
B. While it is recognized that inflation is a serious problem, a reduction of US military piaster spending with a corresponding reduction of US forces [words missing].
C. Today, with the US/FW forces available, large scale sustained operations can be mounted within any geographical area of SVN. However, with the enemy's increasing buildup capability he has been able to increase his combat strength in SVN to 131,200, approximately 7 combat divisions. It is estimated that he will have a combat strength of 147,300 consisting of 181 Inf Bns and 63 Combat Spt Bns, or approximately 10 Combat Divisions, in country during the second quarter of CY 67. By maximizing his training capability in NVN, the input could be substantially increased. If the enemy adopts this course of action, further selected increases in US, FW strength in SVN may be required over requested 1967 force levels.
D. The CY 66 US/FW force increases will allow tactical commanders to step up their search and destroy and other offensive operations both in size and frequency. This increase is necessary to turn the tide of the enemy buildup. The estimated enemy attrition made possible by this force increase would hold the enemy buildup to approximately 147,300 combat strength as stated above. If the US/FW forces continue attrition of the enemy at the same increasing rate during the next 12 month period as accomplished during Jan-Jul 66, the enemy combat strength should start to decline during the second quarter CY 67. However, if the enemy accelerates buildup in SVN to his maximum capability, his strength probbably will not start to decline until some time in CY 68. The enemy continues to show every inclination to continue his military efforts.
E. On the basis of the foregoing, it can be seen that a large scale forced deferral of troop increases at this time, while the enemy continues to build up, would be a most imprudent course of action that could jeopardize seriously. . . .
* * *
2. Part C, Ref A discusses the dangers of inflation and refers to the RAND reports on Viet Cong prisoners. It is recognized that the political danger of inflation is a continuing threat to the GVN and that we must use all available resources to insure the economy is not faced with a "wildcat" rise in prices. However, we must not at this time impose a restriction that possibly would hamstring our military effort.
3. RAND reports are difficult to assess. The time lag in publication and the conclusions drawn from the studies will vary. It is true that the majority of "hard core" captives and defectors cited in the RAND reports no longer predict an inevitable VC victory, many of this selected group now see the war as a stalemate with each side building up its respective force. Although some of this group now see defeat, in the main the confidence of the individual enemy soldier in a military victory has dwindled due, in large measure, to the string of defeats he has suffered at the hands of the US/ GVN/Free World Forces. However, limitation of these US/GVN forces for economic reasons would curtail the momentum of the military effort at this critical point and conceivably jeopardize the overall US effort in Vietnam.
4. Para 10 & 11, Part C, Ref A discusses troop utilization but does not depict clearly the military concept of operations in Vietnam for CY 67. Our concept recognizes and is built around two equally important, continuing and complementary requirements which call for the same type of military resources and flexibility in their application. On the one hand, we must maintain the security of our bases and key population and food producing centers and assist in expanding security of areas under Government control. On the other hand we must seek out and destroy the enemy's main forces and his bases to create the environment in which meaningful Revolutionary Development can proceed. The priority of US/FW military efforts will continue to be devoted to our main mission, the destruction of enemy main forces and bases. The "entirely new kind of work" referred to by the Ambassador is in reality a continuation of our surveillance and rapid reaction tactics vis-a-vis enemy forces occupying sanctuaries in adjacent territory. We are according heightened emphasis to this effort, and may find it necessary to ask for additional forces to insure its success.
Information copies of this message were sent to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Also on 5 October, Dr. Alain Enthoven, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis, in a memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, compared Lodge's proposed 42 billion piaster budget with several other relevant figures. The first figure was 41 billion piasters, which would allow Program 3 deployments based upon actual July and August piaster spending rates, but which did not allow for any price increases during CY 67. The next figure given was 44 billion piasters which allowed for completion of Program 3 deployments and for prices to rise during the period July 1966 to December 1967 by 7%. The third figure given was 43.6 billion piasters which would allow a rise in U.S. strength to a total of 525,000 by December of 1967, but did not allow room for inflation. The last figure given was 47.4 billion piasters, which would allow completion of CINCPAC's deployment plan which envisioned an end '68 strength of 569, 000, but which did not allow for any increase in prices. Assistant Secretary Enthoven pointed out that differences in spending associated with different deployments were small in CY 67 relative to the uncertainty about spending for a given deployment. However, he also added that if Lodge's expenditure program were achieved, it was likely that at best the rate of inflation would be reduced to about 20% per year. At this rate, he estimated that even Program 3 would cost nearly 50 billion piasters.
3. The JCS: Issue Papers and Worldwide Posture
Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had completed their review of CINCPAC's 18 June requirements for CY 66 and 67 and the issue papers which the Secretary of Defense had given them on 5 August. On 24 September, they forwarded their review of these requirements and their answers to the issue papers. This document was reviewed by Dr. Enthoven's office and on 29 September, he sent a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense. He reported that deletions of requirements by CINCPAC and the JCS totaled 49,000 personnel of the 215,000 add-on requirements for US forces in PACOM (excluding Hawaii). Of the deletions, 39,000 were included in the issue papers. He added that his SEA Programs Division was in the process of analyzing the detailed rationale for the remaining requested units and that new deployment issue papers would be provided to the Secretary of Defense for his approval on 3 October. Apparently, the Secretary of Defense approved them for on 6 October he forwarded another set of deployment issue papers to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking that they review the issues and have their recommendations for him by 1 November when he planned to make his decision on the papers. The items considered in the issue papers totaled some 54,000 troops out of CINCPAC's total request of 569,000 for deployment to South Vietnam. The leading items considered were the 15,000 troops (9,000 Army and 6,000 AF) which were involved in IV Corps operations and 12,000 Artillery troops.
By this time, Secretary McNamara had already decided to make a trip to Saigon to see if he could get a better feel for the situation there. However, before he departed, the Joint Chiefs of Staff forwarded to him a paper analyzing the world-wide military posture of the United States in light of the August CINCPAC requirements study for CY 1967.
Assuming that there would be no call-up of reserves, no change in rotation policies, and that resources for the proposed deployments would be obtained from the world-wide military structure, the impact of meeting the CINPAC 1967 requirements, as they saw it, would be tremendous. The Army would suffer most, meeting the CINCPAC requirements (12 additional maneuver battalions) on the average six to eight months late, and in the process emasculating CONUS STRAF, leaving it hut two airborne brigade forces for 1967 and the first part of 1968. Other NATO reinforcing division forces could not be ready from the Army until late 1968. USAREUR, USARAL and PACOM reserve would all be at a reduced level because of "qualitative personnel withdrawals." In total, the Army would have a force deficiency of three and two-thirds active division forces. Carrier pilots would remain the major Naval shortage. The Air Force, upon completion of the required deployment (in September of 1967) "would not have the capability to deploy rapidly any combat-ready tactical fighter forces." With one exception, all tactical and reconnaissance units in the United States were assigned and executing training tasks. To meet CINCPAC requirements would require drawing down from 21 TFS (486 aircraft) in Europe to 13 squadrons or 288 aircraft. Given all Air Force commitments and responsibilities to respond to NATO and provide other reinforcements a short-fall of some 22 TFS (445 aircraft), 5 TRS (90 aircraft) and 4 TCS (64 aircraft) would result.
In the "guts" portion of the memorandum detailed consideration was given to the extent which mobilization of the reserves could alleviate shortages. It noted these:
Army. Significant withdrawals of equipment have been made from the reserve components to support new activations. This has resulted in a degradation of the training capability and the mobilization potential of the reserve components. Therefore, full or partial mobilization of reserve units would have only limited effectiveness in accelerating Army deployments. However, mobilization of reserve units would permit a more rapid restoration, personnel-wise, of the STRAF. In addition, reserve unit mobilization and subsequent deployment of these units to Europe or Korea would accelerate restoration of Army forces in those areas. Selective mobilization of reservists possessing critical skills could greatly improve the quality of the training and sustaining base and the quality of deploying units which are now having to deploy with shortages of skills and experienced leaders. Selective mobilization would permit some acceleration of unit deployments.
Air Force. Mobilization could provide 20 deployable ANG tactical fighter squadrons (409 aircraft minimum) and 12 ANG tactical reconnaissance squadrons. While not nuclear capable and possessing less modern aircraft, the TFSs would partially provide for the 22 TFS shortfall anticipated. By using older equipment, shortfalls in TRSs would be reduced to zero, and the CONUS base posture improved. TCS shortfalls would be reduced through use of C-i 19 aircraft. Some personnel shortages would be alleviated.
* * *
In conclusion, the Services cannot fully respond to CINCPAC's CY 1966 (adjusted) and CY 1967 force requirements on the time schedule he has prescribed and under the conditions stated in paragraph 4, above. Providing the preponderance of his requirements, even on a delayed schedule, would further impair the US military posture and capability to maintain forward deployments to deter aggression worldwide and would further reduce the capability to reinforce NATO rapidly, to provide forces for other contingencies, and to maintain a sufficient rotation and training base. Mobilization of reserves, extension of terms of service, and extending overseas tours would assist in alleviating shortfalls associated with satisfying CINCPAC's requirements. Certain critical problems cannot be fully resolved by mobilization because of equipment and skill shortages. Of particular note in the case of the Army, equipment withdrawals from the Reserve components have substantially weakened the Army's reserve structure.
Interestingly enough, the kind of mobilization the JCS were talking about in JCSM-646-66 was a full-blown affair which added 688,500 reservists generally in units to the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines by December 1966. Other than listing units, availability dates and programmed total strengths, the memorandum did not delve into specific applications of these reserve forces or how they would alleviate the manpower/unit/equipment crunch which the JCS described.
D. McNAMARA GOES TO SAIGON--DECISION ON FOUR
With all of this information in hand, Secretary McNamara departed for Saigon. While the records available do not indicate what went on in Saigon, the results were clearly spelled out in the Secretary of Defense's Memorandum for the President, submitted upon his return.
1. A Memorandum for the President
1. Evaluation of the Situation. In the report of my last trip to Vietnam almost a year ago, I stated that the odds were about even that, even with the then-recommended deployments, we would be faced in early 1967 with a military stand-off at a much higher level of conflict and with "pacification" still stalled. I am a little less pessimistic now in one respect. We have done somewhat better militarily than I anticipated. We have by and large blunted the communist military initiative--any military victory in South Vietnam the Viet Cong may have in mind 18 months ago has been thwarted by our emergency deployments and actions. And our program of bombing the North has exacted a price.
My concern continues, however, in other respects. This is because I see no reasonable way to bring the war to an end soon. Enemy morale has not broken--he apparently has adjusted to our stopping his drive for military victory and has adopted a strategy of keeping us busy and waiting us out (a strategy of attriting our national will). He knows that we have not been, and he believes we probably will not be, able to translate our military successes into the "end products"--broken enemy morale and political achievements by the GVN.
The one thing demonstrably going for us in Vietnam over the past year has been the large number of enemy killed-in-action resulting from the big military operations. Allowing for possible exaggeration in reports, the enemy must be taking losses--deaths in and after battle--at the rate of more than 60,000 a year. The infiltration routes would seem to be one-way trails to death for the North Vietnamese. Yet there is no sign of an impending break in enemy morale and it appears that he can more than replace his losses by infiltration from North Vietnam and recruitment in South Vietnam.
Pacification is a bad disappointment. We have good grounds to be pleased by the recent elections, by Ky's 16 months in power, and by the faint signs of development of national political oinstitutions and of a legitimate civil government. But none of this has translated itself into political achievements at Province level or below. Pacification has if anything gone backward. As compared with two, or four, years ago, enemy full-time regional forces and part-time guerilla forces are larger; attacks, terrorism and sabotage have increased in scope and intensity; more railroads are closed and highways cut; the rice crop expected to come to market is smaller; we control little, if any, more of the population; the VC political infrastructure thrives in most of the country, continuing to give the enemy his enormous intelligence advantage; full security exists nowhere (not even behind the US Marines' lines and in Saigon); in the countryside, the enemy almost completely controls the night.
Nor has the ROLLING THUNDER program of bombing the North either significantly affected infiltration or cracked the morale of Hanoi. There is agreement in the intelligence community on these facts (see the attached Appendix).
In essence, we find ourselves--from the point of view of the important war (for the complicity of the people)--no better, and if anything worse off. This important war must be fought and won by the Vietnamese themselves. We have known this from the beginning. But the discouraging truth is that, as was the case in 1961 and 1963 and 1965, we have not found the formula, the catalyst, for training and inspiring them into effective action.
2. Recommended actions. In such an unpromising state of affairs, what should we do? We must continue to press the enemy militarily; we must make demonstrable progress in pacification; at the same time, we must add a new ingredient forced on us by the facts. Specifically, we must improve our position by getting ourselves into a military posture that we credibly would maintain indefinitely--a posture that makes trying to "wait us out" less attractive. I recommend a five-pronged course of action to achieve those ends.
a. Stabilize US force levels in Vietnam. It is my judgment that, barring a dramatic change in the war, we should limit the increase in US forces in SVN in 1967 to 70,000 men and we should level off at the total of 470,000 which such an increase would provide. It is my view that this is enough to punish the enemy at the large-unit operations level and to keep the enemy's main forces from interrupting pacification. I believe also that even many more than 470,000 would not kill the enemy off in such numbers as to break their morale so long as they think they can wait us out. It is possible that such a 40 percent increase over our present level of 325,000 will break the enemy's morale in the short term; but if it does not, we must, I believe, be prepared for and have underway a long-term program premised on more than breaking the morale of main force units. A stabilized US force level would be part of such a long-term program. It would put us in a position where negotiations would be more likely to be productive, but if they were not we could pursue the all-important pacification task with proper attention and resources and without the spectre of apparently endless escalation of US deployments.
b. Install a barrier. A portion of the 470,000 troops--perhaps 10,000 to 20,000--should be devoted to the construction and maintenance of an infiltration barrier. Such a barrier would lie near the 17th parallel-would run from the sea, across the neck of South Vietnam (choking off the new infiltration routes through the DMZ) and across the trails in Laos. This interdiction system (at an approximate cost of $1 billion) would comprise to the east a ground barrier of fences, wire, sensors, artillery, aircraft and mobile troops; and to the west--mainly in Laos--an interdiction zone covered by air-laid mines and bombing attacks pin-pointed by air-laid acoustic sensors.
The barrier may not be fully effective at first, but I believe that it can be made effective in time and that even the threat of its becoming effective can substantially change to our advantage the character of the war. It would hinder enemy efforts, would permit more efficient use of the limited number of friendly troops, and would be persuasive evidence both that our sole aim is to protect the South from the North and that we intend to see the job through.
c. Stabilize the ROLLING THUNDER program against the North. Attack sorties in North Vietnam have risen from about 4,000 per month at the end of last year to 6,000 per month in the first quarter of this year and 12,000 per month at present. Most of our 50 percent increase of deployed attack-capable aircraft has been absorbed in the attacks on North Vietnam. In North Vietnam, almost 84,000 attack sorties have been flown (about 25 percent against fixed targets), 45 percent during the past seven months.
Despite these efforts, it now appears that the North Vietnamese-Laotian road network will remain adequate to meet the requirements of the Communist forces in South Vietnam--this is so even if its capacity could be reduced by one-third and if combat activities were to be doubled. North Vietnam's serious need for trucks, spare parts and petroleum probably can, despite air attacks, be met by imports. The petroleum requirements for trucks involved in the infiltration movement, for example, has not been enough to present significant supply problems, and the effects of the attacks on the petroleum distribution system, while they have not yet been fully assessed, are not expected to cripple the flow of essential supplies. Furthermore, it is clear that, to bomb the North sufficiently to make a radical impact upon Hanoi's political, economic and social structure, would require an effort which we could make but which would not be stomached either by our own people or by world opinion; and it would involve a serious risk of drawing us into open war with China.
The North Vietnamese are paying a price. They have been forced to assign some 300,000 personnel to the lines of communication in order to maintain the critical flow of personnel and materiel to the South. Now that the lines of communication have been manned, however, it is doubtful that either a large increase or decrease in our interdiction sorties would substantially change the cost to the enemy of maintaining the roads, railroads, and waterways or affect whether they are operational. It follows that the marginal sorties-probably the marginal 1,000 or even 5,000 sorties-per month against the lines of communication no longer have a significant impact on the war. (See the attached excerpts from intelligence estimates.) [missing]
When this marginal inutility of added sorties against North Vietnam and Laos is compared with the crew and aircraft losses implicit in the activity (four men and aircraft and $20 million per 1,000 sorties), I recommend, as a minimum, against increasing the level of bombing of North Vietnam and against increasing the intensity of operations by changing the areas or kinds of targets struck.
Under these conditions, the bombing program would continue the pressure and would remain available as a bargaining counter to get talks started (or to trade off in talks). But, as in the case of a stabilized level of US ground forces, the stabilization of ROLLING THUNDER would remove the prospect of ever-escalating bombing as a factor complicating our political posture and distracting from the main job of pacification in South Vietnam.
At the proper time, as discussed on pages 6-7 below [sic], I believe we should consider terminating bombing in all of North Vietnam, or at least in the Northeast zones, for an indefinite period in connection with covert moves toward peace.
d. Pursue a vigorous pacification program. As mentioned above, the pacification (Revolutionary Development) program has been and is thoroughly stalled. The large-unit operations war, which we know best how to fight and where we have had our successes, is largely irrelevant to pacification as long as we do not lose it. By and large, the people in rural areas believe that the GVN when it comes will not stay but that the VC will; that cooperation with the GVN will be punished by the VC; that the GVN is really indifferent to the people's welfare; that the low-level GVN are tools of the local rich; and that the GVN is ridden with corruption.
Success in pacification depends on the interrelated functions of providing physical security, destroying the VC apparatus, motivating the people to cooperate and establishing responsive local government. An obviously necessary but not sufficient requirement for success of the Revolutionary Development cadre and police is vigorously conducted and adequately prolonged clearing operations by military troops, who will "stay" in the area, who behave themselves decently and who show some respect for the people.
This elemental requirement of pacification has been missing.
In almost no contested area designated for pacification in recent years have ARVN forces actually "cleared and stayed" to a point where cadre teams, if available, could have stayed overnight in hamlets and survived, let alone accomplish their mission. VC units of company and even battalion size remain in operation, and they are more than large enough to overrun anything the local security forces can put up.
Now that the threat of a Communist main-force military victory has been thwarted by our emergency efforts, we must allocate far more attention and a portion of the regular military forces (at least half of the ARVN and perhaps a portion of the US forces) to the task of providing an active and permanent security screen behind which the Revolutionary Development teams and police can operate and behind which the political struggle with the VC infrastructure can take place.
The US cannot do this pacification security job for the Vietnamese. All we can do is "massage the heart." For one reason, it is known that we do not intend to stay; if our efforts worked at all, it would merely postpone the eventual confrontation of the VC and GVN infrastructures. The GVN must do the job; and I am convinced that drastic reform is needed if the GVN is going to be able to do it.
The first essential reform is in the attitude of GVN officials. They are generally apathetic, and there is corruption high and low. Often appointments, promotions, and draft deferments must be bought; and kickbacks on salaries are common. Cadre at the bottom can be no better than the system above them.
The second needed reform is in the attitude and conduct of the ARVN. The image of the government cannot improve unless and until the ARVN improves markedly. They do not understand the importance (or respectability) of pacification nor the importance to pacification of proper, disciplined conduct. Promotions, assignments and awards are often not made on merit, but rather on the basis of having a diploma, friends or relatives, or because of bribery. The ARVN is weak in dedication, direction and discipline.
Not enough ARVN are devoted to area and population security, and when the ARVN does attempt to support pacification, their actions do not last long enough; their tactics are bad despite US prodding (no aggressive small-unit saturation patrolling, hamlet searches, quick-reaction contact, or offensive night ambushes); they do not make good use of intelligence; and their leadership and discipline are bad.
Furthermore, it is my conviction that a part of the problem undoubtedly lies in bad management on the American as well as the GVN side. Here split responsibility--or "no responsibility"--has resulted in too little hard pressure on the GVN to do its job and no really solid or realistic planning with respect to the whole effort. We must deal with this management problem now and deal with it effectively.
One solution would be to consolidate all US activities which are primarily part of the civilian pacification program and all persons engaged in such activities, providing a clear assignment of responsibility and a unified command under a civilian relieved of all other duties. Under this approach, there would be a carefully delineated division of responsibility between the civilian-in-charge and an element of COMUSMACV under a senior officer, who would give the subject of planning for and providing hamlet security the highest priority in attention and resources. Success will depend on the men selected for the jobs on both sides (they must be among the highest rank and most competent administrators in the US Government), on complete cooperation among the US elements, and on the extent to which the South Vietnamese can be shocked out of their present pattern of behavior. The first work of this reorganized US pacification organization should be to produce within 60 days a realistic and detailed plan for the coming year.
From the political and public-relations viewpoint, this solution is preferable- if it works. But we cannot tolerate continued failure. If it fails after a fair trial, the only alternative in my view is to place the entire pacification program--civilian and military--under General Westmoreland. This alternative would result in the establishment of a Deputy COMUSMACV for Pacification who would be in command of all pacification staffs in Saigon and of all pacification staffs and activities in the field; one person in each corps, province and district would be responsible for the US effort.
e. Press for negotiations. I am not optimistic that Hanoi or the VC will respond to peace overtures now (explaining my recommendations above that we get into a level-off posture for the long pull). The ends sought by the two sides appear to be irreconcilable and the relative power balance is not in their view unfavorable to them. But three things can be done, I believe, to increase the prospects:
(1) Take steps to increase the credibility of our peace gestures in the minds of the enemy. There is considerable evidence both in private statements by the Communists and in the reports of competent Western officials who have talked with them that charges of US bad faith are not solely propagandistic, but reflect deeply held beliefs. Analyses of Communists' statements and actions indicate that they firmly believe that American leadership really does not want the fighting to stop, and that we are intent on winning a military victory in Vietnam and on maintaining our presence there through a puppet regime supported by US military bases.
As a way of projective US bona fides, I believe that we should consider two possibilities with respect to our bombing program against the North, to be undertaken, if at all, at a time very carefully selected with a view to maximizing the chances of influencing the enemy and world opinion and to minimizing the chances that failure would strengthen the hand of the "hawks" at home: First, without fanfare, conditions, or avowal, whether the stand-down was permanent or temporary, stop bombing all of North Vietnam. It is generally thought that Hanoi will not agree to negotiations until they can claim that the bombing has stopped unconditionally. We should see what develops, retaining freedom to resume the bombing if nothing useful was forthcoming.
Alternatively, we could shift the weight-of-effort away from "Zones 6A and 6B"-zones including Hanoi and Haiphong and areas north of those two cities to the Chinese border. This alternative has some attraction in that it provides the North Vietnamese a "face saver" if only problems of "face" are holding up Hanoi peace gestures; it would narrow the bombing down directly to the objectionable infiltration (supporting the logic of a stop-infiltration/full-pause deal); and it would reduce the international heat on the US. Here, too, bombing of the Northeast could be resumed at any time, or "spot" attacks could be made there from time to time to keep North Vietnam off balance and to require her to pay almost the full cost by maintaining her repair crews in place. The sorties diverted from Zones 6A and 6B could be concentrated on the infiltration routes in Zones 1 and 2 (the southern end of North Vietnam, including the Mu Gia Pass), in Laos and in South Vietnam.*
* Any limitation on the bombing of North Vietnam will cause serious psychological problems among the men who are risking their lives to help achieve our political objectives; among their commanders up to and including the JCS; and among those of our people who cannot understand why we should withhold punishment from the enemy. General Westmoreland, as do the JCS, strongly believes in the military value of the bombing program.
To the same end of improving our credibility, we should seek ways--through words and deeds--to make believable our intention to withdraw our forces once the North Vietnamese aggression against the South stops. In particular, we should avoid any implication that we will stay in South Vietnam with bases or to guarantee any particular outcome to a solely South Vietnamese struggle.
(2) Try to split the VC off from Hanoi. The intelligence estimate is that evidence is overwhelming that the North Vietnamese dominate and control the National Front and the Viet Cong. Nevertheless, I think we should continue and enlarge efforts to contact the VC/NLF and to probe ways to split members or sections off the VC/NLF organization.
(3) Press contacts with North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and other parties who might contribute toward a settlement.
(4) Develop a realistic plan providing a role for the VC in negotiations, post-war life, and government of the nation. An amnesty offer and proposals for national reconciliation would be steps in the right direction and should be parts of the plan. It is important that this plan be one which will appear reasonable, if not at first to Hanoi and the VC, at least to world opinion.
3. The prognosis. The prognosis is bad that the war can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion within the next two years. The large-unit operations probably will not do it; negotiations probably will not do it. While we should continue to pursue both of these routes in trying for a solution in the short run, we should recognize that success from them is a mere possibility, not a probability.
The solution lies in girding, openly, for a longer war and in taking actions immediately which will in 12 to 18 months give clear evidence that the continuing costs and risks to the American people are acceptably limited, that the formula for success has been found, and that the end of the war is merely a matter of time. All of my recommendations will contribute to this strategy, but the one most difficult to implement is perhaps the most important one--enlivening the pacification program. The odds are less than even for this task, if only because we have failed consistently since 1961 to make a dent in the problem. But, because the 1967 trend of pacification will, I believe, be the main talisman of ultimate US success or failure in Vietnam, extraordinary imagination and effort &hould go into changing the stripes of that problem.
President Thieu and Prime Minister Ky are thinking along similar lines. They told me that they do not expect the enemy to negotiate or to modify his program in less than two years. Rather, they expect the enemy to continue to expand and to increase his activity. They expressed agreement with us that the key to success is pacification and that so far pacification has failed. They agree that we need clarification of GVN and US roles and that the bulk of the ARVN should be shifted to pacification. Ky will, between January and July 1967, shift all ARVN infantry divisions to that role. And he is giving Thang, a good Revolutionary Development director, added powers. Thieu and Ky see this as part of a two-year (1967-68) schedule, in which offensive operations against enemy main force units are continued, carried on primarily by the US and other Free World forces. At the end of the two-year period, they believe the enemy may be willing to negotiate or to retreat from his current course of action.
Note: Neither the Secretary of State nor the JCS have yet had an opportunity to express their views on this report. Mr. Katzenbach and I have discussed many of its main conclusions and recommendations--in general, but not in all particulars, it expresses his views as well as my own.
APPENDIX TO MEMORANDUM
Extracts from CIA/DIA Report "An Appraisal of the Bombing of North Vietnam through 12 September 1966"
1. There is no evidence yet of any shortage of POL in North Vietnam and stocks on hand, with recent imports, have been adequate to sustain necessary operations.
2. Air strikes against all modes of transportation in North Vietnam increased during the past month, but there is no evidence of serious transport problems in the movement of supplies to or within North Vietnam.
3. There is no evidence yet that the air strikes have significantly weakened popular morale.
4. Air strikes continue to depress economic growth and have been responsible for the abandonment of some plans for economic development, but essential economic activities continue.
Extracts from a March 16, 1966 CIA Report "An Analysis of the ROLLiNG THUNDER Air Oflensive against North Vietnam"
1. Although the movement of men and supplies in North Vietnam has been hampered and made somewhat more costly [by our bombing], the Communists have been able to increase the flow of supplies and manpower to South Vietnam.
2. Hanoi's determination [despite our bombing] to continue its policy of supporting the insurgency in the South appears as firm as ever.
3. Air attacks almost certainly cannot bring about a meaningful reduction in the current level at which essential supplies and men flow into South Vietnam.
Bomb Damage Assessment in the North by the insitute for Defense Analysis' "Summer Study Group"
What surpised us [in our assessment of the effect of bombing North Vietnam] was the extent of agreement among various intelligence agencies on the effects of past operations and probable effects of continued and expanded Rolling Thunder. The conclusions of our group, to which we all subscribe, are therefore merely sharpened conclusions of numerous Intelligence summaries. They are that Rolling Thunder does not limit the present logistic flow into SVN because NVN is neither the source of supplies nor the choke-point on the supply routes from China and USSR. Although an expansion of Rolling Thunder by closing Haiphong harbor, eliminating electric power plants and totally destroying railroads, will at least indirectly impose further privations on the populace of NVN and the logistic support of VC costlier to maintain, such expansion will not really change the basic assessment. This follows because NVN has demonstrated excellent ability to improvise transportation, and because the primative nature of their economy is such that Rolling Thunder can affect directly only a small fraction of the population. There is very little hope that the Ho Chi Minh Government will lose control of population because of Rolling Thunder. The lessons of the Korean War are very relevant [words missing] Probably the government of NVN has assurances that the USSR and/or China will assist the rebuilding of its economy after the war, and hence its concern about the damage being inflicted may be moderated by long-range favorable expectations. Specifically:
1. As of July 1966 the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam had had no measurable direct on Hanoi's ability to mount and support military operations in the South at the current level.
2. Since the initiation of the Rolling Thunder program the damage to facilities and equipment in North Vietnam has been more than offset by the increased flow of military and economic aid, largely from the USSR and Communist China.
3. The aspects of the basic situation that have enabled Hanoi to continue its support of military operations in the South and to neutralize the impact of U.S. bombing by passing the economic costs to other Communist countries are not likely to be altered by reducing the present geographic constraints, mining Haiphong and the principal harbors in North Vietnam, increasing the number of armed reconnaissance sorties and otherwise expanding the U.S. air offensive along the lines now contemplated in military recommendations and planning studies.
4. While conceptually it is reasonable to assume that some limit may be imposed on the scale of military activity that Hanoi can maintain in the South by continuing the Rolling Thunder program at the present, or some higher level of effort, there appears to be no basis for defining that limit in concrete terms, or, for concluding that the present scale of VC/NVN activities in the field have approached that limit.
5. The indirect effects of the bombing on the will of the North Vietnamese to continue fighting and on their leaders' appraisal of the prospective gains and costs of maintaining the present policy have not shown themselves in any tangible way. Furthermore, we have not discovered any basis for concluding that the indirect punitive effects of bombing will prove decisive in these respects.
In this memorandum, McNamara reveals with striking clarity that many of the premises under which the war to that point had been fought (and manned) were shifting.
He agreed with COMUSMACV that the military situation has gone "somewhat better in 1966 than anticipated," but he found little cause for optimism in the longer run. In fact, he seemed almost disheartened as he noted that there was "no reasonable way to bring the war to an end soon." Finding an injured but undismayed opponent committed now to "waiting us out" while sapping our national will and seeing "pacification a basic disappointment . . . no better, and if anything worse off . . ." hardly was the kind of progress he hoped for.
His solution was to get ourselves into "a military posture that we credibly would maintain indefinitely--a posture that makes trying to 'wait us out' less attractive." To do this, he proposed a five part program:
(1) First, he suggested that, barring a major change in the war, we should stabilize U.S. force levels in Vietnam at about 470,000. The new figure of 470,000 for U.S. force levels (only 25,000 above the latest figure of 445,000 for Program #3) apparently was arrived at during the sessions in Saigon. Before the meetings, Westmoreland had estimated that Program 3 would entail a piaster cost of 47.4 billion. The follow-up papers to the conference all continued to focus upon the piaster costs of various troop deployments with the intent to keep them under the 42 billion Lodge ceiling. The most probable explanation of the genesis of the 470,000 figure is that it represented the best guess at the time of the Saigon meeting of what strength could be supported within the 42 billion limit by making very strong efforts to reduce piaster costs per man.
(2) He recommended a barrier near the DMZ and "across the trails of Laos."
(3) He opposed expansion of the ROLLING THUNDER program, recommending instead a "stabilization" to prevent the unsettling escalations from complicating our political situation (and negotiating posture) and distracting from the main job of pacification.
(4) He said we should "pursue a vigorous pacification program" noting that "progress in pacification more than anything else, will persuade the enemy to negotiate or withdraw."
(5) Finally, he proffered a three-sided attempt to get negotiations going by (a) shifting the pattern of our bombing (or perhaps even stopping it); (b) considering strategies designed to enhance the probability of a split between the VC and Hanoi; and (c) "developing a realistic plan providing a role for the VC in negotiations, postwar life, and the government of the nation."
The summation was a somber conclusion to a resounding new emphasis in American strategic thought. He believed that there was no great probability of success lurking on any of the routes he proposed, only a "mere possibility." The solution in his eyes, was to gird openly for a longer war.
. . . and in taking actions immediately which will in 12 to 18 months give clear evidence that the continuing costs and risks to the American people are acceptably limited, that the formula for success has been found, and that the end of the war is merely a matter of time.
The recommendations as a whole showed the influence of the studies which had been done over the summer. The Jason studies on the anti-infiltration barrier and the effects of U.S. bombing in the north were apparently influential in the decisions to move ahead with the barrier but to stabilize ROLLING THUNDER.
The increased emphasis on the pacification effort is apparently a result of the feeling that, since it represented the heart of the problem in Vietnam, and the main force war was only contributory to it, perhaps all that was needed in the main force war was to keep the enemy off the back of the pacification effort in a strategic defensive, rather than to destroy the enemy in a strategic offensive.
In a sense, the memorandum was a clear "no" to MACV, CINCPAC and JCS proposals for expanded bombing and major ground force increases, but it was a negative with a difference. It provided alternatives. From this time on, the judgment of the military as to how the war should be fought and what was needed would be subject to question. New estimates of what was needed in Vietnam would have to be calculated in light of new objectives and new criteria for success, as well as new assumptions about "winning." The warning had rung and unless dramatic outcomes measured in time and political advantage could be promised, additional force increases in the upward direction promised to be sticky indeed.
2. The JCS Reclamas
The JCS reaction to the DPM was predictably rapid--and violent. The Chiefs
expressed their agreement with McNamara's basic evaluation of a long war, but
disagreed on his guarded assessment of the military situation, which in their eyes had "improved substantially over the past year." They were especially concerned that the DPM did not take into account the "adverse impact over time of continued bloody defeats on the morale of VC/NVA forces and the determination of their political and military leaders."
However, they noted that the 470,000-man figure was "substantially less"
than earlier recommendations of COMUSMACV and CINCPAC, and they wished to "reserve
judgment" until they reviewed the revised programs being prepared during
the CINCPAC planning conference.
The disagreement was less veiled on the bombing:
c. . . . The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not concur n your recommendation that there should be no increase in level of bombing effort and no modification in areas and targets subject to air attack. They believe our air campaign against NVN to be an integral and indispensable part of our over-all war effort. To be effective, "the air campaign should be conducted with only those minimum constraints necessary to avoid indiscriminate killing of population."
Nor did they find the new organizational arrangements for pacification especially appetizing:
d. . . . The Joint Chiefs of Staff informed you earlier that, to achieve early optimum effectiveness, the pacification program should be transferred to COMUSMACV. They adhere to that conclusion. However, if for political reasons a civilian-type organization should be considered mandatory by the President, they would interpose no objection. Nevertheless, they are not sanguine that an effective civilian-type organization can be erected, if at all, except at the expense of costly delays. As to the use of a substantial fraction of the ARVN for pacification purposes, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concur. However, they desire to flag that adoption of this concept will undoubtedly elicit charges of a US takeover of combat operations at increased cost in American casualties.
Finally, they did not share the Secretary's views on how to induce negotiations. They believed the bombing was one "trump card" in the President's hand and should not be surrendered without an equivalent quid pro quo, such as "an end to the NVN aggression in SVN." The essence of disagreement here centered around what each party, Secretary of Defense and JCS felt was adequate return for a "trump," the JCS believing that as the military campaign wore on with "increasing success, the value of the trump would become apparent."
In this regard, the Chiefs seemed to sense that a significant turn in our views
about Vietnam had been taken in high policy circles of our government. In final
comment, they observed that the conflict had reached a stage at which decisions taken over the next sixty days could determine the outcome of the war, and therefore they wished to provide the President with "their unequivocal views" on two salient aspects of the war situation: the search for peace and military pressures on NVN.
The frequent, broadly-based public offers made by the President to settle the war by peaceful means on a generous basis, which would take from NVN nothing it now has, have been admirable. Certainly, no one--American or foreigner--except those who are determined not to be convinced, can doubt the sincerity, the generosity, the altruism of US actions and objectives. In the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the time has come when further overt actions and offers on our part are not only nonproductive, they are counterproductive. A logical case can be made that the American people, our Allies, and our enemies alike are increasingly uncertain as to our resolution to pursue the war to a successful conclusion.
They recommended a "sharp knock" on NVN military assets and war supporting facilities rather than the campaign of slowly increasing pressures which was adopted.
Whatever the political merits of the latter course, we deprived ourselves of the military effects of early weight of effort and shock, and gave to the enemy time to adjust to our slow quantitative and qualitative increase of pressure. This is not to say that it is now too late to derive military benefits from more effective and extensive use of our air and naval superiority.
Accordingly, they recommended:
(1) Approval of their ROLLING THUNDER 52 program, which is a step toward meeting the requirement for improved target systems. This program would decrease the Hanoi and Haiphong sanctuary areas, authorize attacks against the steel plant, the Hanoi rail yards, the thermal power plants, selected areas within Haiphong port and other ports, selected locks and dams controlling water LOCs, SAM support facilities within the residual Hanoi and Haiphong sanctuaries, and POL at Haiphong, Ha Gia (Phuc Yen) and Can Thon (Kep).
(2) Use of naval surface forces to interdict North Vietnamese coastal waterborne traffic and appropriate land LOCs and to attack other coastal military targets such as radar and AAA sites.
6. The Joint Chiefs of Staff request that their views as set forth above be provided to the President.
All of these developments persuaded the JCS that they needed a reply with powerful arguments for a program force level far above the 470,000 proposed by the Secretary.
The JCS hesitation in discussing the new 470,000 force level was rooted in an educated estimate of what was coming out of MACV-CINCPAC in the next two weeks.
3. CINCPAC Planning Conference Results
On 20 October, the CINCPAC Planning Conference was done and the results forwarded to the JCS.
There were few surprises. The concept had been changed to include a heavier
emphasis on RD, set forth in a preamble to the concept contained in the 18 June
submission. The estimate of Communist forces in South Vietnam was 83,000 combat,
46,000 combat support, with 35,000 guerrillas. Total strength was estimated
at 144 infantry battalions, 60 of which were North Vietnamese. The enemy addition
to his force was estimated at the monthly rate of 12,500-9,500 NVA and 3,000
VC. A projection of enemy strength for the end of 1966 was 143,000 combat and
combat support, while the projection for the end of 1967 was 190,000. The courses
of action which seemed to be open to the enemy in October were: 1. To increase
the level of operations to include the conduct of simultaneous widely separated
operations, utilizing forces of up to division size.
2. To maintain the current level of operations which would include the conduct of simultaneous widely separated multibattalion operations.
3. To threaten large-scale attacks in the DMZ in order to divert large numbers of forces into the hinterland, thus reducing forces available in populated areas to accomplish Revolutionary Development.
4. To decrease the level of operations to include reverting to guerrilla warfare.
CINCPAC's requirements and the services capabilities to provide them were listed as follows:
|Maneuver Bns., US||Man. Bns.||Pers.|
|End CY 66||82||79||384,361|
|End CY 67||94||91||493,969|
|End CY 68||94||94||519,310|
|End CY 69||94||94||520,020|
|Plus Requirements with Availability Rates Unknown||555,741|
Requirements for PACOM other than Vietnam would total 23 maneuver battalions and 271,666 personnel. The PACOM conference results clearly amplified what General Westmoreland had echoed over a month earlier as the manpower problem in Vietnam worsened. NVA infiltration in the DMZ area, the strategy of hitting the enemy in his sanctuaries and the additional manpower requirements of the pacification program punctuated the critical conclusion of the PACOM conference; they could not justify a reduction in requirements submitted. In the meantime, information which the Secretary of Defense had requested on alternative force structures possible under piaster ceilings of 42, 44, and 46 billion, had been forwarded to the JCS. The three packages did not cost out at the exact ceilings, because of the requirement for balanced forces, but the alternatives were as follows:
Piaster Cost (Billions)
|Total Strength||End '67 Strength|
|Man. Bns.||Pers.||Man. Bns.||Pers.|
Before the formal JCS ratification of the CINCPAC-COMUSMACV requirements was forwarded, one other important contact between the major decisionmakers on Program 4 occurred. This was at Manila in late October. What views were exchanged between the President and General Westmoreland remain a mystery, but the General twice sought out Mr. John McNaughton, Assistant Secretary of Defense, ISA, and laid out his thinking on force levels, ROLLING THUNDER, the barrier, and Revolutionary Development.
The American commander was thinking about an end CY 67 strength of about 480,000, fleshed-out to 500,000 by the end of CY 68. Barring surprises, he would plan to hold it there. This was a substantial drop from his original request through CINCPAC, but apparently he had not yet resigned himself to McNamara's figure of 470,000. He believed that those levels were what "the U.S. [could] sustain over time without mobilization and without calling up reserves and what the Vietnamese economy [could] bear." He said the 480,000-500,000 man level would be enough "even if infiltration went on at a high level," but he waffled by adding he was not sure if he had enough troops to take on the Delta.
Westmoreland remained apprehensive about the absence of a sizeable reserve located within quick reaction distance in the Pacific, asking McNaughton to stress to the Secretary that he barely needed such a "Corps Contingency Force." He reiterated his desire for a strategy devoted to building "a balanced, powerful force that we can sustain indefinitely," a posture that would be of critical importance in communicating our resolve to the North.
On the bombing, Westmoreland favored reducing restrictions on targets ("more flexibility"), but he could not make a good case for the effects an expanded RT program would have on his operations. McNaughton cited a CIA study showing that even with enlarged strikes, the enemy could supply several times the amount of material required to support a much increased level of combat in the South. Pressed, Westmoreland observed that "I'm not responsible for the bombing program. Admiral Sharp is. So I haven't spent much time on it. But I asked a couple of my best officers to look into it and they came up with the recommendations I gave you."
The barrier idea appeared to be evolving as a substitute for some ROLLING THUNDER activity-and Westmoreland "shuddered" at this. Some of his earlier resistance, founded on a belief that MACV resources in SVN would be drawn down to man the barrier trace, seemed to have softened. In a way, he seemed to sense that the NVA was providing the justification for more U.S. troops in the area in much more eloquent fashion than he ever could--the threats in I CTZ, to Conthien and Khe Sanh, embryonic as they were, would provide impulse for additional troops well beyond the artificial program dates established.
Revolutionary Development figured heavily in his plans, but he predicted that it would be July 1967 before the new orientation of ARVN to pacification would be in full effect. (He cited as a rough figure 75% ARVN and 25% of US devoted to RD.)
Westmoreland did not outline the same picture of urgency as had the JCS memoranda. (The fact he was really not set on some figures may suggest that he (and his staff) were looking at "ballpark" figures and had not really analyzed the new outputs they would produce.) Explaining why at that time he soft-pedalled the threat developing in the border region sanctuaries and I CTZ is difficult. He certainly had been concerned earlier, even telling Lodge that the new enemy actions possibly made a re-evaluation of basic strategy necessary. Possibly his formal warnings (such as his 20 September message to Sharp) were exaggerated, or the threat had diminished. Events were to prove neither was so. Probably he missed an excellent opportunity to put his arguments for more troops before the President, and then felt it best to fight the battle for more troops "through channels,"--the CINCPAC-JCS funnel.
Nevertheless, his views surely had an important bearing on Mr. McNamara's estimates in early November. The senior field commander was saying he could get along with small force increases. Of course, he added that such a force level would degrade his ability to meet time deadlines ("it would be a longer war") but, as the 14 October DPM clearly shows, the Secretary was thinking along different lines--if there was to be no quick, "successful" end to the war, why invest greater resources and run greater political risks to get there--still late.
The President returned from his highly publicized swing to Manila and the Far t~ast to find some press rumblings about the services exceeding their budgeted FY 1967 strengths, and some speculation that the bombing would increase; there had always been some change after such a trip. Richard Nixon had fired a final broadside in a belated attempt to heat up the war issue for the election berating the President for making a trip which "accomplished nothing" and which "re;igned America and the free Asian nations to a war which could last five years and cost more casualties than Korea." These events notwithstanding, even though President Johnson's administration was facing its first extensive national test at the poiis early in November, the Vietnam war was not a central public issue. Basic uncertainty about how the electorate really felt about the war, combined with the traditional wariness of old-line politicians in bucking a "patriotic issue" had dampened some of the heat of the Vietnam war as an issue. The only major race which focused on the war occurred in Oregon, where Robert Duncan, an outspoken advocate of President Johnson's VN policies, was defeated by what he described as "voter dissatisfaction with the war."
The war itself seemed to cooperate with the Administration's efforts to low-key the issue. Our forces were doing well in Operation HASTINGS near the Cambodian border where, in the words of one commander, we "had blunted the pearhead of the enemy winter offensive."
The superficial quiet of an off-year election was in no way reflected by the E'resident's private activity upon his return from Manila. It was budget time tnd he was wrestling with a war budget, featuring a whopping supplemental of $9.1 billion for Vietnam prior to the beginning of FY 68. Working out of the Texas ranch, the President generated a constant stream of travelers from official Washington as he sought information, counsel, and exposure. Secretary McNamara and General Wheeler made two trips to the Pedernales, visiting the President on Friday and Saturday, 4 and 5 November, and later on Friday, the 11th.
The visits coincided with the decision branch-points in the Program 4 development, for they occurred in sequence with significant new inputs of information and discussions, and in each case resulted in an important decision or public announcement.
5. JCS Recommendations
On 4 November, the JCS forwarded to the Secretary of Defense the results of the October PACOM Planning Conference with their "refinements" added. The document, labeled JCSM 702-66, "Deployment of Forces to Meet CY Requirements," held few surprises. The memorandum addressed the crux of disagreement:
. . . . As in past concepts, it goes beyond certain restraints that have been placed on US operating forces to date, such as those on the air campaign in North Vietnam, on cross border operations, on certain special operations, and on ground actions in the southern half of the demilitarized zone. Further, this concept should be carried out in its entirety, if achievement of US objectives is to be accomplished in the shortest time and at the least cost in men and materiel. The concept describes preparation for operations that have not as yet been authorized, such as mining ports, naval quarantine, spoiling attacks and raids against the enemy in Cambodia and Laos, and certain special operations. Such action will support intensified and accelerated revolutionary development and nation building programs. Since the force requirements are based on this concept in its entirety, continued restraints and the absence of authorization for recommended operations could generate significantly different requirements for forces and timing.
In a sense, it embraced all of the right arguments (for "intensified and accelerated revolutionary development and programs" and "shortest time at the least cost," an overdetermined test) but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. McNamara and Johnson were not politically and militarily enchanted with a costly major force increase at that time, nor with cross border and air operations which ran grave political risks. The specter of early mobilization, while briefly raised by the JCS, was temporarily erased by an ambiguous statement acknowledging that "capability to meet these requirements cannot be developed without significant modification to the criteria mentioned earlier: draw down latitude, rotation policy, no call-up of reserves, maintenance of CONUS training base. Nevertheless, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that, while the program is less than that desired, it will provide for the effective execution of the concept of operations set forth."
Finally, the Chiefs expressed their views about the piaster ceiling which Lodge and members of the Mission Council had found so attractive.
. . . . They consider that the requirement to reduce piaster expenditures in the interest of combating inflation in South Vietnam is important; however, this factor cannot be overriding in determining force levels because enemy actions could require US force levels substantially above those recommended. They note especially that the equation and factors used to price out piaster costs permit only rough approximations and have not been tested over a length of time. They also note that the three force-level packages do not cost out precisely at 42.0, 44.0, and 46.0 billion piasters, respectively, since the operational requirement for balanced forces prevented that degree of precision
6. Decision on Program #4
With the Chiefs' views in hand the Secretary of Defense met with the President on 4 November, and again at the ranch on Saturday, the 5th. By late Saturday morning, the basic ground force deployment decision had been made. Mr. McNamara announced in an open-air press conference that increases in Vietnam would be forthcoming "but at a substantially lower rate and that draft calls for the next four months [would] be significantly smaller." He also quoted a "new study" based upon interrogations of NVA/VC captives and defectors which showed that extensive allied air-ground operations impaired morale, exposed the sanctuaries, reduced food supplies and brought the enemy death figure to over 1,000 per week. He did not comment on how he thought the war effort was going or what meaning he saw in the new report.
The elections were held on Tuesday, 8 November, with mixed results for the Administration. It was difficult to tie specific results, or even the general trend the war issue. Even when there was some relationship, "basic dissatisfaction" as usually the explanation, a neutral reply which failed to explain whether the spondents wanted to hasten the end by escalation of our military efforts, by thdrawal, or what. The fact that off-year elections are traditionally damaging the party in power further blurred the issue. In the end, 47 House seats and Governorships had been gained by the Republicans and, in light of even those ~ninor" gains, the 1968 Presidential race, potentially one debating our war ~icies, promised to be a more interesting and heated campaign than anyone 1 anticipated two years before.
1. Program Four Is Announced
McNamara and General Wheeler returned to the ranch on Friday, the 10th, participate in a joint news conference. In the meantime, Dr. Enthoven had yen the following memorandum to the Secretary of Defense:
Enclosed for your signature is a memorandum to the JCS replying to their November 4 memorandum submitting recommended deployments to Southeast Asia for FY 67-68. Their recommended program and my proposed alternative (Program #4) are compared below with the CINCPAC P46 billion force. The major elements of the OSD and JCS forces are compared in greater detail on the attached table:
(Thousands of Personnel in SVN)
Dec 66 Jun 67 Dec 67 Jun 68 Total JCS Rec. 395 456 504 522 564 Program #4 392 448 476 484 508 CINCPAC P.46 Bil. 391 440 463 469 469
In general my proposal follows the CINCPAC 46 billion piaster alternative force. The JCS recommended force ignores piasters and the JCS do not endorse the P46 billion force. My alternative adds five maneuver battalions (3 armored cavalry and 2 infantry) compared to 6 maneuver battalions (3 armored cavalry and 2 infantry and 2 airborne) in the CINCPAC P46 billion force. Both add 10 artillery battalions. The CINCPAC force adds S tactical air squadrons, Program #4 cuts the current program by 1 squadron (the F-100 squadron to deploy in March to replace the E-5 squadron to be converted to the VNAF).
My proposed force provides about 25,000 fewer Army support personnel with only 1 fewer maneuver battalion than in the P46 billion force. The JCS will most likely claim that the recommended force is not balanced. However, our forces are operating effectively at present with an even leaner mix of support personnel. Program #4 consists of about 6½ Army division equivalents. If the U.S. ARVN advisors and 2 separate armored cavalry regiments are excluded, the division slice is about 48,000. While U.S. forces are also providing some support for 3rd country troops and to an extent to the ARVN, this division slice appears adequate.
The JCS state their recommendation is exclusive of any personnel needed by Task Force 728. In the absence of data as to the TF 728 requirements, I cannot say that all of its needs are met by my recommended force. However, the air cavalry, armored cavalry, and related units were included in my force primarily because of their usefulness for a barrier operation. Furthermore, the inflationary situation in SVN appears so critical in CY 1967 that I cannot recommend any additions to Program #4, at least until CY 1968.
A detailed troop list has been prepared to define precisely Program #4. As soon as it can be produced, it will be provided to you for transmission to the JCS. This should be by close of business tomorrow, November 10.
One can speculate that the two officials carried back detailed plans and costs associated with the earlier broad force decision made the preceding week-end.
It appears they were quite ready to talk about Vietnam. General Wheeler read a short prepared statement explaining that after his recent trip he was able to report to the President that "the war in my judgment continues in a very favorable fashion. General Westmoreland retains the initiative and in every operation to date has managed to defeat the enemy." Beyond this, questions about Vietnam were little more than rehash of the previous week's session.
On 11 November, the Secretary of Defense informed the JCS formally that he had approved a new deployment program for MACV with an end strength of 470,000 by June of 1968.
I have reviewed your recommendations in JCSM-702-66, November 4, 1966, and the related military and economic effects of your recommended deployments. The attached table summarizes your plan and the forces which I am approving for planning purposes.
As you know, a reasonably stable economy in South Vietnam is essential to unite the population behind the Government of Vietnam-indeed to avoid disintegration of the SVN society. Runaway inflation can undo what our military operations accomplish. For this reason, we have already taken actions to reduce military and contractor piaster spending towards the minimum level which can be accomplished without serious impact on military operations. Nevertheless, the price stability achieved last summer may be giving way to a new round of severe inflation. More must be done.
Ambassador Lodge has asked that U.S. military spending be held to P42 billion in CY 1967. The Ambassador proposed program of tightly constrained U.S. and GVN civilian and military spending will not bring complete stability to SVN; there would still be, at best, a 10 billion piaster inflationary gap. It would, however, probably hold price rises in CY 1967 to 10%-25% as opposed to 75%-90% in FY 1966. The burden of inflation falls most heavily on just those Vietnamese--the ARVN and GVN civil servants--upon whose efficient performance our success most heavily depends. Unless we rigidly control inflation, the Vietnamese Army desertion rate will increase further and effectiveness will decline, thus at least partially cancelling the effects of increased U.S. deployments. Further, government employees will leave their jobs and civil strife will occur, seriously hindering both the military and the pacification efforts and possibly even collapsing the GVN.
For these reasons we must fit our deployments to the capacity of the Vietnamese economy to bear them without undue inflation. As your memorandum indicates, the program you recommend would cost over P46 billion in CY 1967 at current prices. I believe implementation of a program of this size would be self-defeating. The plan I am approving at this time for budgetary planning appear to me to be the maximum consistent with my reasonable hope of economic stability. If contingencies arise during the year, we can re-examine the plan accordingly. I plan to provide sufficient combat-ready forces in the U.S. to meet reasonable contingencies.
A troop list containing each unit in Program #4 is attached. You may wish to suggest changes in the unit mix, if there are units that have been deleted that have a higher priority than those I have approved. I would like to have these recommendations by December 1, 1966. I also would like your proposals as to ways in which approved units can be accelerated so as to provide maximum combat capability as early as possible in CY 1967.
SOUTHEAST ASIA DEPLOYMENT PROGRAM #4
Jun 67 Dec 67 Jun 68 JCS Plan OSD Plan JCS Plan OSD Plan JCS Plan OSD Plan 1. Personnel-SVN (000) Army USMC 70.6 70.6 70.6 70.6 70.6 70.6 Air Force 60.6 55.3 63.3 55.4 65.3 55.4 Navy 32.1 27.6 35.3 29.4 35.8 29.4 455.9 439.5 504.0 463.3 522.2 469.3 2. Maneuver Battalions-SVN Army 62 62 74 67 74 67 USMC 20 20 20 20 20 20 82 82 94 87 94 87
He had disapproved the force recommendations of JCSM 702-66, but had not commented on the "new" concept and objectives-an omission which left an excellent opening for the next round of force requirements discussions. The 11 November memorandum explained the decision to hold the force levels at 470,000 almost solely in terms of piaster costs and the dangers of inflation.
2. Program Four Is Explained
A fuller explanation of the reasoning behind the Program Four decisions was given by the Secretary of Defense in his 17 November Draft Memorandum for the President.
* * *
I have reviewed the additional funding and forces required to support our planned deployments and operations in Southeast Asia. I recommend a supplemental appropriation request totaling $12.4 billion in Total Obligational Authority be submitted to Congress in January for the following purposes:
|FY67 TOA ($Billions)|
|I. Direct Support of SEA Operations|
|II. Rotational Base and Strategic Reserve|
|III. Non-sea * *||.6|
* These costs are subject to revision in the budget review. Construction costs are still under review and are excluded.
** Includes pay raise and home owners assistance
Forces totaling 469,000 be approved, for planning and budgeting purposes, for deployment to SVN by June 30, 1968.
Current U.S. military forces be augmented by 346,134 to total end FY68 strength of 3,476,400 personnel to support these deployments to Southeast Asia. Deployment, force augmentation, and financial summaries follow. THe December 1965 plan on which the FY67 Budget was based is shown for comparison.
SUMMARY DEPLOYMENTS TO SEA
1965 1966 1967 1968 June Jun Dec Jun Dec June Personnel-SVN (000) Dec Plan-Total 60 278 386 394 -- -- SecDef Rec.
27 160 244 286 308 314
18 54 69 71 71 71
11 36 54 55 55 55
4 17 25 28 29 29
60 267 392 440 463 469 JCS Rec,
244 292 335 350
69 71 71 71
57 61 63 65
25 32 35 36
395 456 504 522 Personnel-WESTPAC (000) Dec Plan 242 484 588 618 -- -- SecDef Rec 242 474 624 677 701 707 JCS Rec 634 703 756 774 Maneuver Bns Dec Plan 9 48 77 77 -- -- SecDef Rec 9 51 2/3 79 82 87 87 JCS Rec 79 82 94 94 Artillery Bns Dec Plan 3 33 1/3 47 47 -- -- SecDef Rec 3 33 1/3 47 2/3 57 2/3 61 2/3 63 2/3 JCS Rec 47 2/3 57 2/3 63 2/3 69 2/3 Engineer Bns Dec Plan 6 1/3 37 47 1/3 47 1/3 -- -- SecDef Rec 6 1/3 30 2/3 44 56 56 56 JCS Rec 44 59 60 60 Fighter-Attack a/c (U.S.) Dec Plan 599 801 894 929 -- -- SecDef Rec 599 849 1046 989 998 983 JCS Rec 1046 1061 1106 1127 Attack Sorties (000) Dec Plan 10 21 26 26 -- -- SecDef Rec 10 24 28 28 28 28 JCS Rec 28 30 32 34 Air Ordnance (000 Tons) Dec Plan 11 52 68 73 -- -- SecDef Rec 11 35 65 65 65 65 JCS Rec 70 89 93 96 Other Fixed Wing a/c Dec Plan 397 891 963 975 -- -- SecDef Rec 397 826 1134 1293 1376 1376 JCS Rec 1131 1385 1494 1521
I have not denied any funding request necessary to conduct the war and which can be effectively utilized during the cirrent fiscal year. The FY67 supplemental and FY68 budgets have been designed to meet war needs through the FY68 funding leadtime. If the tempo of the conflict increases beyond the level now planned, additional funds will be required. The recommended Southeast Asia deployments and supporting supplemental budget requests are in accord with the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the exceptions noted later.
To date, we have met virtually all of COMUSMACV's requirements for maneuver battalions at or near the time he requested them, without recall of the Reserves or withdrawals of units deployed to Europe or other key overseas areas. Moreover, we still have the capability to deploy additional active forces as well as a large ready force wherever they may be needed.
The decision to retain the organized reserve as a reserve led to a requirement to organize certain units that were not available in the CONUS active forces. With only a few exceptions, we have deployed them as required and on a schedule quite close to what we could have expected under a reserve mobilization. Many of the united that could not be provided as required (e.g., aviation units) were not available in the reserve structure either. The table below compares the current plan with the deployment schedule that the JCS last March estimated could be met if the reserve forces had been called to active duty.
1966 1967 Mar Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun Strength in SVN (000)
231 267 313 392 424 440
With Reserves *
227 284 359 411 421 426 Maneuver Bns in SVN
Sec Def Rec
46 52 64 79 82 82
With Reserves *
46 52 67 76 79 79
* Case I, CINCPAC Capabilities Conference, 12 February 1966
U.S. forces in SEA have performed exceedingly well. In the summer of 1965 NVA forces threatemed to destroy the SVN armed forces and achieve a military victory. The introduction of U.S. forces almost completely neutralized the VC/NVA large units. He has lost 114,000 troops in the last year, including invaluable cadre. The B-52 and tactical air effort has hurt enemy morale, produced casualties, and disrupted his operations and logistics operations. It is our success to date that permits the analysis in the next section of the incremental value of still more deployments.
The incremental annual cost of the conflict amount to $9.4 billion in FY66 and is estimated at $19.7 billion for FY67. If in FY68 the forces and rates of operations stabilized at the levels shown in this paper, the cost will be about $24 billion, caluculated as follows:
($ Billions) Military Personnel $.5. Operations and Maintenance 6.7 Ammunition Consumption 4.5 Aircraft & Helicopter Attrition 1.4 Other Procurements 4.3 Free World Force Support 1.5 Construction 0.2 $24.1
These data exclude economic aid to Vietnam and other SE Asia nations that might be attributed to the conflict. Economic aid for SVN currently is running at about $0.7 billion per year.
I. MILITARY STRATEGY IN VIETNAM
The war in Vietnam has two highly interdependent parts: (1) the "regular" war against the main force VC/NVA battalions and regiments, and the interdiction of their men and supplies flowing down from North Vietnam, and (2), the "Pacification" or revolutionary development war to neutralize the local VC guerrillas and gain the permanent support of the SVN population.
The inflitrated men and supplies serve to bolster the regular units whose function is to support the local VC guerrillas and infrastructure by defeating the GVN forces in the area and generally exposing the GVN's inability to protect the rural populace. The local guerrillas and infrastucture maintain a constant VC presence in their area and support the offensive efforts of the regular units by providing intelligence, terrain guidance, supplies and recruits. In addition, the guerrillas conduct many of the thousands of incidents of terror, harassment, and sabotage reported each month. The principal task of U.S. military forces in SVN must be to eliminate the offensive capability of the regular units in order to allow the GVN to counter the guerrilla forces and extend permanent control over areas from which regular units have been cleared.
We now face a choice of two approaches to the threat of the regular VC/NVA forces. The first approach would be to continue in 1967 to increase friendly forces as rapidly as possible, and without limit, and employ them primarily in large-scale "seek out and destroy" operations to destroy the main force VC/NVA units.
This approach appears to have some distinct disadvantages. First, we are finding very strongly diminishing marginal returns in the destruction of VC/NVA forces. If our estimates of enemy losses (killed, captured and defected) are correct, VC/NVA losses increased by only 115 per week (less than 15%) during a period in which we increased friendly strength by 160,000 including 140,000 U.S. military personnel and 42 U.S. and Third Country maneuver battalions. At this rate, an additional 100,000 friendly personnel deployed would increase VC/NVA losses by some 70 per week. Second, expanding U.S. deployments have contributed to a very serious inflation in South Vietnam. Prices increased 75-90% in FY66. An extra 100,000 U.S. forces would add at least P9 billion to our piaster expenditures, doubling the 1967 inflationary gap in SVN. Third, the high and increasing cost of the war to the United States is likely to encourage the Communists to doubt our staying power and to try to "wait us out."
The second approach is to follow a similarly aggressive strategy of "seek out and destroy," but to build friendly forces only to that level required to neutralize the large enemy units and prevent them from interfering with the pacification program. It is essential to this approach that such a level be consistent with a stable economy in SVN, and consistent with a military posture that the United States credibly would maintain indefinitely, thus making a Communist attempt to "wait us out" less attractive.
I believe that this level is about 470,000 U.S. and 52,000 Free World personnel and less than half of the ARVN.* The remainder of the ARVN,
* Admiral Sharp has recommended a 12/31/67 U.S. strength of 570,000. However, I believe both he and General Westmoreland recognize that the danger of inflation will probably force a 6/30/68 deployment limit of about 470,000.
plus a portion of the U.S. force, would give priority to improving the pacification effort. The enemy regular units would cease to perform what I believe to be their primary function of diverting our effort to give security to the population. This, plus the effects of a successful interdiction campaign to cut off their other support, would effectively neutralize them, possibly at the cost of far fewer casualties to both sides than the first approach would allow.
I believe it is time to adopt the second approach for three reasons: (1) if MACV estimates of enemy strength are correct, we have not been able to attrite the enemy forces fast enough to break their morale and more U.S. forces are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future; (2) we cannot deploy more than about 470,000 personnel by the end of 1967 without a high probability of generating a self-defeating runaway inflation in SVN and (3) an endless escalation of U.S. deployments is not likely to be acceptable in the U.S. or to induce the enemy to believe that the U.S. is prepared to stay as long as is required to produce a secure non-communist SVN. Obviously a greatly improved pacification campaign must be waged to take advantage of the protection offered by the major friendly forces. Alternatively, if enemy strength is greatly overstated and our "seek out and destroy" operations have been more effective than our strength and loss estimates would imply-a possibility discussed below-more than 470,000 U.S. personnel should not be required to neutralize the VC/NVA main force.
Attriting Enemy Forces. All of our estimates of enemy strength and variations in it contain very great uncertainties. Thus, any conclusions drawn from them must be considered to be highly tentative and conjectural. Nevertheless, the data suggest that we have no prospects of attriting the enemy force at a rate equal to or greater than his capability to infiltrate and recruit, and this will be true at either the 470,000 U.S. personnel level or 570,000. The table on the following page shows our estimates of the average enemy loss rate per month since April 1965. By 4th quarter 1965, estimated military losses (killed, captured, military defectors) reached 2215 per week. The weekly average for CY66 has remained about the same, although enemy losses increased to 2330 per week in the 3rd quarter and to 2930 in October.
Enemy losses from wounds are included above based on the U.S. Intelligence Board estimate that there are 1.5 enemy wounded for each one killed, with one-third of the wounded put out of action, resulting in a loss of .5 for each VC/NVA recorded killed, or 520 additional average losses per week. (MACV estimates .28 additional losses for each VC/NVA killed, or an average loss of 300 per week.) Also included are defectors not turning themselves into the GVN centers, based on the Board estimate that there is one unrecorded military deserter for each military defector, resulting in another 235 average losses per week.
The enemy loss rate was apparently not affected significantly by the greatly increased friendly activity during 1966, which included: 44% increase in battalion days of operation; 25% increase in battalion sized operations contacting the enemy; and 28% increase in small unit actions accompanied by a 12% increase in contacts. Moreover, armed helicopter sorties doubled from 14,000 attack sorties in SVN rose from 12,800 to 14,000 to 29,000 per month and per month.
1965 1966 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr 4th Qtr 1st Qtr 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr Oct
Last 4 Qtrs
705 1165 1555 1505 1370 1805 1915 1585
100 145 135 130 145 170 545 175
345 435 525 580 430 355 470 470
Total Est Losses
1150 1745 2215 2215 1945 2330 2930 2230 Average Friendly Strengths (000) 672 759 871 930 982 1037 1113 967 Total Losses/1000 Friendly/Week 1.7 2.3 2.5 2.4 2.0 2.2 2.6 2.3
* 1.5 times recorded "body count."
** 2 times recorded military defectors.
The failure of enemy losses to increase during the first half of 1966 was primarily due to the January Vietnamese New Year lull, the political turmoil during the Spring, the apparent decrease in ARVN efficiency, and an increasing enemy reluctance to fight large battles.
Despite improvements during the past four months, it is impossible to predict the point at which we can expect to attrite enemy forces at the rate he introduces new ones. As the table above indicates, an average enemy total loss rate of 2230 per week has prevailed for the past 13 months, compared to the calculated enemy personnel input rate of 2915 per week for the same period. The input rate is that required to provide the average increase of 685 per week reflected in the VC/NVA order of battle strength figures estimated by MACV, it is not estimated independently. Assuming that the weekly infiltration rate from NVN for the past 13 months averaged 1075 as estimated (MACV indicates that the 1966 figure may be as high as 1638 per week), VC recruitment (input minus infiltration) must have been about 1840 per week. This recruitment rate lies well within the current U.S. Intelligence Board estimate that the VC can recruit and train 1635 to 2335 men per week, and can replace current losses solely from within South Vietnam if necessary. But it lies far above the current MACV recruitment estimate of 815 VC personnel per week.
As indicated in the VC/NVA losses table, enemy losses increased by 115 per week during a period in which friendly strength increased by 166,000; an increase of about 70 losses per 100,000 of friendly strength. There are far too many uncertain variables in the situation to permit a simple extrapolation of these results to the effect of introduction of the next 100,000, or a subsequent 100,000 troops. However, we have no evidence that more troops than the 470,000 I am recommending would substantially change the situation. For example, if it were assumed that new forces would produce enemy losses at a rate equal to the average of all forces deployed by the end of October 1966, each deployment of 100,000 additional friendly troops would produce only 230 more total enemy losses per week compared to the 2915 current enemy input rate. A U.S. force of 470,000 would result in enemy losses of 2450 per week; an extra 100,000 U.S. personnel would increase average weekly enemy losses to about 2680, still less than the 3500 per week that the enemy is supposed to be able to infiltrate/ recruit. Moreover, it is possible that our attrition estimates substantially overstate actual VC/NVA losses. For example, the VC/NVA apparently lose only about one-sixth as many weapons as people, suggesting the possibility that many of the killed are unarmed porters or bystanders.
In summary, despite the wide variations in estimates of infiltration, recruitment and losses, the data indicate that current enemy recruitment/infiltration rates and tactics have more than offset the increased friendly deployments, enabling the enemy to increase his forces in the past and in the foreseeable future. If we assume that the estimates of enemy strength are accurate, the ratio of total friendly to total enemy strength has only increased from 3.5 to 4.0 to 1 since the end of 1965. Under these circumstances, it does not appear that we have the favorable leverage required to achieve decisive attrition by introducing more forces. It may be possible to reduce enemy strength substantially through improved tactics or other means such as an effective amnesty/defection program or effective pacification to dry up VC sources of recruitment, but further large increases in U.S. forces do not appear to be the answer.
Enemy Offensive Capability. These estimates of enemy strength, losses and replacement rates raise some important questions. They assume that the enemy has all of the battalions carried in the MACV Enemy Order of Battle (OB), and that most o these battalions have retained their offensive capability. Neither assumption can be supported by available data.
and that most of these battalions have retained their offensive capability. Neither assumption can be supported by available data.
In the last 7 months (February-August) for which data are available, friendly forces averaged 35 contacts per month with VC/NVA battalions. If each contact represented a different battalion, the contact rate would equal 20% of the average reported total enemy VC/NVA battalions; at best, we would contact each battalion once in 5 months. However, analyzing the August OB of 175 battalions, only 112 battalions had been positively identified as contacted during the 7 month period and 59 battalions were unrecorded as to last contact. (The remaining battalions were contacted prior to period.) Other battalions in addition to the 112 positively identified were undoubtedly active during the period. Nevertheless, it appears that the actual existence, or ability to operate, of some of the 59 units with no records of contact with friendly forces is open to question. Moreover, enemy activity rates reflected in the number of battalion contacts initiated by themselves or by us do not show increases that we might expect as the result of the 49 battalion increase reflected in the Order of Battle reports.
CONTACTS WITH VC/NVA BATTALIONS
Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Avg. VC/NVA Initiated Contacts 18 19 8 15 14 14 18 15 Total Contacts 46 43 20 22 35 39 34 35 Estimated Total Battalions in Force 126 145 152 157 174 175 175 158
Furthermore, the enemy is undertaking fewer large scale offensive operations in recent months and concentrating his small scale attacks, ambushes, and harassments against easier targets (troops in the field and isolated military posts). This indicates a possible regression to activities characteristic of earlier stages of guerrilla warfare, is inconsistent with large numbers of battalions and even divisions, and may reflect an increasing inability to conduct large scale operations without incurring unacceptably high casualties. The VC/NVA have not won a significant large scale military victory in several months. There is every reason to be on guard, as General Westmoreland is, but there is no reason to believe that we need to increase our planned deployment of large units to prevent such victories in the future.
The Interdiction Campaign. The VC force has reportedly increased by 20 battalions (from 74 to 94) since last December, NVA by 43 (from 43 to 86) during the same period. The NVA represented only 25,600 of 249,700 (10%) last December, increasing to 45,600 of 277,000 (16% in October). The weekly rate of accepted infiltration has been about 1115 in 1966 compared to 945 in 4th quarter 1965 and 510 for all of 1965. MACV has recently reported that infiltration may have been as high as 1630 per week in 1966. The NVA units, equipped almost exclusively with Chinese and Russian weapons, have a much greater requirement for infiltrated ammunition and supplies, thus increasing their dependence on the logistics network flowing from NVN to SVN.
Air Interdiction. The use of air power to interdict enemy infiltration and supply has been very great by any standard. Attack sorties in Laos and NVN have risen from 4750 per month at the end of last year to 9100 in 1st quarter of this year and to 10,600 and 12,900 in subsequent quarters. The interdiction campaign has absorbed most of the increase in deployed attack-capable aircraft in the past years.
A substantial air interdiction campaign is clearly necessary and worthwhile. In addition to putting a ceiling on the size of the force that can be supported, it yields three significant military effects. First, it effectively harasses and delays truck movements down through the southern panhandles of NVN and Laos, though it has no effect on troops infiltrating on foot over trails that are virtually invisible from the air. Our experience shows that daytime armed reconnaissance above some minimum sortie rate makes it prohibitively expensive to the enemy to attempt daylight movement of vehicles, and so forces him to night movement. Second, destruction of bridges and cratering of roads forces the enemy to deploy repair crews, equipment, and porters to repair or bypass the damage. Third, attacks on vehicles, parks, and rest camps destroy some vehicles with their cargoes and inflict casualties. Moreover, our bombing campaign may produce a beneficial effect on U.S. and SVN morale by making NVN pay a price for its aggression and by showing that we are doing what we can to interdict the enemy. But at the scale we are now operating, I believe our bombing is yielding very small marginal returns, not worth the cost in pilot lives and aircraft.
II. CONSOLIDATION AND EXTENSION OF GVN CONTROL
Pacification. Based on available reports of questionable validity, the table on the following page indicates the various degrees of GVN and VC/NVA population and hamlet control. In the 14th months between July 31, 1965 and September 30, 1966, the GVN reportedly gained control of an additional 1,500,000 people, raising its control of the total SVN population from 47% to 55%--the highest level to date. During the same period VC/NVA control of the total population decreased 6%, a loss of 800,000 people. GVN control of the rural population rose from 23% to 35%, while VC/NVA rural control fell from 35% to 28% during the same period.
It is highly likely that these figures are grossly optimistic. It should be noted that about 30% of the reported gains probably came from movement of refugees into cities and towns. Another report indicates that GVN increased its control of area only from 8% to 12% in 1966 through September. Since 1965 the VC/NVA have claimed control of 80% of the SVN territory and 75% of the population. At the end of September 1966, the GVN controlled about 25% of the vital roads in SVN. It controlled about 20% of the total roads, down from 35% in 1965 and 40% in 1964. The rest were marginal or closed and could be traveled only with adequate security precautions.
The pacification program has been stalled for years; it is stalled today. The situation in this regard is no better--possibly worse--than it was in 1965, 1963 and 1961. The large unit war, at which we are succeeding fairly well, is largely irrelevant to pacification as long as we keep the regular VC/NVA units from interfering and do not lose the major battles.
The most important problems are reflected in the belief of the rural Vietnamese that the GVN will not stay long when it comes into an area but the VC will; the VC will punish cooperation with the GVN; the GVN is indifferent to the people's welfare; the low-level GVN officials are tools of the local rich; and the GVN is excessively corrupt from top to bottom.
Success in changing these beliefs, and in pacification, depends on the interrelated functions of providing physical security, destroying the VC organization and presence, motivating the villager to cooperate, and establishing responsive local government.
Physical security must come first and is the essential prerequisite to a successful revolutionary development effort. The security must be permanent or it is meaningless to the villager, and it must be established by a well organized "clear and hold" operation continued long enough to really clear the area and conducted by competent military forces who have been trained to show respect for the villager and his problems. So far this prerequisite has been absent. In almost no area designated for pacification in recent years have ARVN forces actually "cleared and held" to a point where cadre teams could have stayed overnight in hamlets and survived, let alone accomplished their missions. VC units of company and even battalion size, too large for local defenses, have remained in operation.
Now that the threat of a Communist large-unit military victory has been eliminated, we must allocate far more attention and a significant portion of the regular military forces (at least half of the ARVN) to providing permanently secure areas in which Revolutionary Development (RD) teams, police, and civilian administrators can root out the VC infrastructure and establish the GVN presence. This has been our task all along. It is still our task. The war cannot come to a successful end until we have found a way to succeed in this task.
Assignment of ARVN to Revolutionary Development Role. The increasingly unsatisfactory performance of ARVN in combat operations is reflected in U.S. Army advisory reports and in ARVN and U.S. operational statistics. During the January-September period for which data are available, U.S. field advisors rated combat effectiveness as unsatisfactory or marginal in up to 32% of all ARVN combat battalions. Over 115,700 SVN military personnel (19%) deserted in 1965, and desertions in 1966 through October were at the annual rate of 130,000, 21% of the regular, regional, popular and CIDG forces. The poor ARVN performance also shows in the operational statistics. ARVN made contact in only 46% of its large-scale operations against a U.S. contact rate of 90%. Similar actions for small unit actions are not readily available.
ARVN & U.S. OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCES--CY1966
1st Qtr 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr 1966 Thru Sep Maneuver Battalions (AVG) U.S. 44 51 62 52 ARVN 147 157 158 153 Large Operations Battalion Days per Bn
U.S. 3.0 3.1 3.8 3.3 ARVN 2.9 2.2 1.8 2.3 % of Large Operations with Contact U.S. 79 94 97 90 ARVN 44 47 47 46
ARVN effectiveness against the enemy has declined markedly during the January-September 1966 period. ARVN kills of VC/NVA dropped from a weekly average of 356 to 238, while the U.S. averages rose from 476 to 557 per week. VC/NVA killed per ARVN battalion per week averaged 1.8 compared to 8.6 for U.S. battalions. Conversely, the friendly killed rates were .6 per ARVN battalion and 1.7 per U.S. battalion per week. The enemy/friendly killed ratios for ARVN and U.S. were 3.2 and 5.4 to 1 respectively.
ARVN EFFECTIVENES5 AGAINST VC/NVA--CY1966
1st Qtr 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr 1966 Thru Sep Results VC/NVA Killed by:
476 446 557 493
356 244 238 279 VC/NVA Captured by:
45 52 54 50
All GVN Forces
67 79 105 84 Weapons Captured by:
105 119 110 111
134 84 88 102
In view of the ARVN's low efficiency in major combat operations and the increasing difficulties that SVN forces have had in recruiting and retaining the planned forces in an overtaxed economy, I believe that we should not increase the SVN forces (ARVN, Regional and Popular Forces) above the present strength of 158 battalions with 610,000 men. It is likely that GVN control can be extended most rapidly by using SVN forces mainly for revolutionary development, and using additional recruitable personnel for non-military and paramilitary revolutionary development duty. The ARVN must be retrained and assigned to RD duty, and General Westmoreland plans to do so. The performance of the ARVN and other SVN forces as an instrument for winning popular support for the GVN has been decidedly unsatisfactory. Apparently ARVN personnel have not appreciated the decisive importance of revolutionary development and popular support; the importance of these items will be heavily emphasized in the retraining programs.
The Problem of Inflation. To unite the population behind the Government--indeed, to avoid disintegration of SVN society--a sound economy is essential. Runaway inflation can undo what our military operations accomplish. For this reason, I have directed that a "piaster budget" be established for U.S. military funded activities. The intent of this program is to hold military and contracter piaster spending to the minimum level which can be accomplished without serious impact on military operations.
Ambassador Lodge has asked that U.S. military spending be held to P42 billion in CY 67. The Ambassador's proposed program of tightly constrained U.S. and GVN civilian and military spending will not bring complete stability to SVN; there will still be, at best, a PlO billion inflationary gap. It should, however, hold price rises in CY 67 to 10% to 25% as opposed to 75% to 90% in the current year. Unless we rigidly control inflation, the ARVN desertion rate will further increase and effectiveness will decline thus partially canceling the effects of increased U.S. deployments. Further, government employees will leave their jobs and civil strife will occur, possibly collapsing the GVN and, in any event, seriously hindering both the military and the pacification efforts.
The success of our efforts to hold U.S. military expenditures to P42 billion depends, among other things, on U.S. force levels. The impact of three differing deployment plans on piaster spending at constant prices is shown in the table below. The actual level of piaster spending associated with each deployment program is, of course, determined by what policies are pursued in saving piasters. The planning factors used in the table are based on little actual experience and may be either too high or too low to serve as a reliable basis for projection. They do, however, reflect first quarter FY 67 experience, MACV planning factors, and expected anti-inflationary programs.
U.S. TROOP DEPLOYMENTS AND DOD PIASTER SPENDING
End Strength Average Strength U.S. Deployments
CY66 Dec CY67 Jun CY67 Dec CY 68 Jun FY67* CY67 CY68
392 434 434 434 368 424 434
391 440 463 479 370 440 468
395 456 504 522 376 461 520 Piaster Spending ***
38 41 37
38 43 39
39 46 47
* All FY67 statistics based on actual figures for the first quarter and projections for final three.
** Program 3 through change 21. Assumes forces hold at June 1967 levels.
*** Based on annual planning factors of P38,432 ($234) per man-year for personnel spending, P43,200 ($540) per man-year for O&M and, for construction:
SecDef JCS FY 67 7,878 7,967 CY 67 6,702 8,343 CY68 1,386 4,551
The table clearly illustrated that with the deployment of 463,000 troops the CY 67 goal of P42 billion is feasible. The planning factors used, however, entail a "pushing down" of O&M and personal spending from the MACV planning factors ($360 per man year for personal spending, $600 for O&M) in light of past performance and likely future savings; application of the MACV planning factors result in P46 billion piaster spending. If these later planning factors hold, the P46 spending rate would increase the inflationary gap by 40% and would be a severe blow to the stabilization program. If inflation occurs and U.S. expenditures are maintained in constant dollar terms, piaster expenditures will increase and the problem will be worsened. If the CINCPAC construction program were approved, similar problems would result. It appears imperative to adopt a plan, such as the one exemplified in the table above, which will call for a strong effort to reduce spending below the levels embodied in the MACV planning factors.
In addition to U.S. military spending, stabilization of the SVN economy requires strict limitation of RVNAF spending. We must plan to support the RVNAF at no higher than the Ambassador's requested level of P50 billion during CY 67.
3. The Combined Campaign Plan is Published
Ten days earlier, on the 7th, COMUSMACV, in a formal ceremony had signed with General Vien, the Chairman of the RVNAF Joint General Staff, the Combined Campaign Plan 1967, which committed RVNAF to support pacification with the majority of its forces, and identified as priority for U.S. effort military operations in areas adjacent to the populated regions of Vietnam--the concept advocated by Lodge and Komer throughout the summer.
The concept for conducting operations was as follows:
a. Concept. The initiative achieved in the 1966 Campaign will be retained through a strategic and tactical offensive conducted in consonance with political, economic and sociological programs of GVN and US/FW agencies. RVNAF, U.S. and FWMA forces will be employed to accomplish the mission in accordance with the objectives established and tasks assigned for this campaign. RVNAF will have the primary mission of supporting Revolutionary Development activities, with priority in and around the National Priority Areas and other areas of critical significance, defending governmental centers, and protecting and controlling national resources, particularly rice and salt. U.S. forces will reinforce RVNAF; operate with other FWMAF; and as necessary, conduct unilateral operations. The primary mission of U.S. and FWMAF will be to destroy the VC/NVA main forces, base areas, and resources and/or drive the enemy into the sparsely populated and food-scarce areas; secure their base areas and clear in the vicinity of these bases; and as directed assist in the protection and control of national resources.
Throughout this campaign increased emphasis will be given to identifying and eliminating the VC infrastructure and to small unit operations designed specifically to destroy the guerrilla force. These operations will be characterized by saturation patrolling, ambushes, and an increase in night operations by both ARVN and US/FWMAF.
River Assault Group forces will be used to the optimum in III and IV CTZ's in small unit operations against enemy river crossing points and tax collection points; in armed river patrol operations in the major rivers of the Delta; and in any other operations where their special capabilities may be profitably employed.
Surface LOC's will be used to the maximum, to include optimum use of River Assault Groups where appropriate, in support of all operations with a corresponding decrease on the dependence on airlift support. Riverine operations, amphibious operations along the RVN coast, and rapid spoiling attacks will be conducted against enemy units confirmed by hard intelligence. Emphasis will be placed on all types of reconnaissance, especially long range patrols, to acquire the necessary hard intelligence.
The systematic neutralization of the enemy's base areas will be pursued aggressively during this campaign. By directing priority of effect to the neutralization of those base areas which directly affect the National Priority Areas, key population and economic centers, and vital communications arteries, the accomplishment of both objectives for this campaign will be facilitated.
Although RVNAF is assigned the primary responsibility of supporting Revolutionary Development and US/FWMAF are assigned the primary mission of destroying the main VC/NVA forces and bases, there will be no clear cut division of responsibility. RVNAF General Reserve and ARVN Corps Reserve units will conduct unilateral and participate in coordinated and combined search and destroy operations. US/FWMAF will continue to provide direct support and implicit aid to Revolutionary Development activities.
The people are the greatest asset to the enemy and control of the people is the enemy's goal. With them, the enemy has most of the ingredients needed for success: food, supplies, money, manpower, concealment and intelligence. During this campaign every effort will be made to deny these assets to the enemy. The priority areas together cover a large majority of the population, food producing lands, and critical lines of communications within SVN. The National Priority Areas are areas of major significance at the national level where critical civil and military resources are figured on a priority basis for revolutionary development. The purpose of designating the area for priority of military offensive operations in conjunction with the national priority areas is to focus the attention and effort of RVNAF and US/FWMAF in those areas where operations will destroy or drive the enemy into sparsely populated and food-scarce areas; insure the protection of the population, control of resources and provide unrestricted use of major lines of communications, all of which will facilitate follow-on Revolutionary Development. Spoiling attacks to frustrate the VC strategy will continue to be conducted in other areas as directed.
Of particular interest in the Combined Campaign Plan is the emphasis given to Revolutionary Development. The concept for this was as follows:
a. Strategic Concept.
(1) The GVN strategic concept for defeating the VC/NVA forces and building a viable, free nation includes three separate but mutually supporting operations as follows:
(a) A military offensive conducted by RVNAF and US/FWMAF to defeat the VC/NVA military forces.
(b) Revolutionary development conducted by RVNAF and GVN civil elements, with the assistance of US/FWMAF and US/FW civil agencies, to establish and maintain security in populated areas and extend legal government control over these areas.
(c) Nation building conducted by GVN civil elements, with the assistance of US/FW civil agencies, to complete the development of nationwide political, economic, and social institutions necessary for a viable, free, non-communist Republic of Vietnam.
(2) The three operations will take place concurrently. In areas where there is adequate government control, nation building will be in progress. In other areas, RD will be underway, while in less secure areas, the military offensive will be prosecuted. Previously, the military offensive dominated national efforts; however, during 1967, RD will receive increasingly greater emphasis. With regard to the military offensive, priority of effort will be given to destroying the enemy forces in those areas where RD is expected to be carried out in the future. Offensive operations also will be conducted to prevent major VC/NVA main forces from interfering in RD and nation building programs that are in progress.
However, as the year wore on, attention was increasingly focused toward the border regions and the problems of halting enemy infiltration from sanctuaries outside South Vietnam. This is reflected in the operations just south of the DMZ in the I Corps, west of Pleiku, and Kontum in the II Corps, and the movement towards War Zone C in III Corps.
In I CTZ, by the end of October, the NVA 324B Division again was drawn back across the DMZ. Intelligence indicated that the 324B Division had been relieved by the NVA 34 1st and had withdrawn north of the DMZ. The 34 1st was in and just north of the DMZ near the eastern edge of the mountainous area. By the end of the year, the attention of the Marines in the I Corps Tactical Zone was fastened on the DMZ.
In II CTZ, PAUL REVERE IV, which ran from 18 October through the end of the year, conducted by elements of the recently arrived 4th Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division with later reinforcement by two battalions of the 1st Cavalry Division, resulted in almost a thousand enemy killed.
In III CTZ, in spite of the casualties which the enemy had sustained in EL PASO H, the 9th VC Division moved into well-concealed base areas where he absorbed replacements, retrained them on their equipment. In early November, the 9th VC Division moved into a new base area near the Michelin Plantation intending to use this base as a jumping off place for objectives in Tay Ninh. Instead, the enemy collided with the 196th Infantry Brigade, resulting in Operation ATTLEBORO. ATTLEBORO, begun on 14 September as a single battalion search and destroy operation, expanded as additional base areas were located and by 3 November, the operation had grown to include portions of the 1st Infantry Division, the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade. By the time ATTLEBORO was terminated in late November, the enemy had lost over 1,000 killed. The pattern in III Corps, with the exception of a couple of operations in Phuoc Tuy Province designed basically to clear the lines of communication from Saigon to Vung Tau, was a gradual shifting of emphasis northward from Long An Province to Hoa Ninh Province to Binh Duong and then north and west into Tay Ninh Province and War Zone C.
By the end of the year, MACV estimated the total forces available to the enemy in Vietnam at 152 combat battalions, the total personnel strength of 280,600, of which 123,600 were combat or support troops, 112,000 were militia, and 39,000 were political cadre. MACV had accepted a figure of 48,400 infiltrators during the year. An additional 25,600 may have infiltrated on the basis of information evaluated as possibly true. This total of 74,000, accepted and possible, was based on information available to MACV as of 31 Dec 66. The infiltration rate for the first 6 months of 1966 was approximately 15 battalion equivalents. Although most of this infiltration took place through Laos, an increasing number had begun to infiltrate through the Demilitarized Zone as the year wore on.
Program 4 was promulgated on 18 November 1966. At the time it was published
events in Vietnam and decisions in Washington had essentially rendered the ground
strategy concepts of AB 142 meaningless. Program 4 denied COMUSMACV the additional
troops he proclaimed necessary for the tasks set forth in AB 142, while the
troops he did have were engaged in War Zone C, in the highland border areas,
and along the DMZ-far from the populated regions of Vietnam, which constituted
the National Priority areas of AB 142.
Go to the Next Section of Volume 4, Chapter 2 of the Pentagon Papers, "U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968, pp. 277-604
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.
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