HASC Pentagon Papers Part IV C2c

Page 1


1945 '. 1967 IV. C. 2.• (c)








and Ar!.U,YSIS



In the late :ran of 1964, President Johnson made a tentative decision in favor of limited :rllitary pressures aga.inst north VietnS.!:l. He a.cted on the consensus reco,:::rmemia.tion of his principu advisors, a. consensus achieved b~f a process of' cO!:lp!"O!!!ising e.lternatives into a lo,;;est-:o!:!Ilon-denominator propose.! at the sub-ca.binet and cabinet level, thereby precluding a:ny real ?residential. choice aJ::.ong viable options.· The choices he l'TaS given all included grea.ter pl"essures a.gainst 1:orth Vietn=>!I. The Presidential decision itsel!" 't-laS f'or So limited and tightly controlled 'tlro-step build-up ot pressures. Yne first phase involved an intel'l.sii'ication of existing harassment activities with reprisals; the second, l'lhich wa.s a.pproved in: principle only, was to be a.suste.ined, SlOi'lly escalating air ca.~gn against the Iiorth. The spectrum of choice could have run from (a) a judg':!lent tha.t the situa.tion in the South \~ irretrie"ra.ble and, hence, a decision to begin the ld.thdra.l·re.! of U.S. forces; to (b) a jUdgnent t}'l.ai the I!':a.intena.nce of a non-co=:l1.mist South Vietnam l-raS indispensa.ble to U.S. stra.tegic interests and, therefore, required a ~assive U.S. intensifica.tion of the l·:-ar both in the !'Tcrth and in the South. The e>..-tr~e withdra;ual option 't'la.S rejected s:lJ"'ost ldthout surfacing for consid~ation since it vas in direct conflict ~:ith t;le i!l1ependent, noncoz.unist SV!~ cOM:"'';~ents of rrSA:-! 288.. The opposdtie option of massdve involvement; ~'lh::ch was essentia.lly the .res reco~ande.tioll a.t all e~ly pomt in th~se delibere.tions, 't-1a.s shunted aside because both its risks ~:1 costs were too



Short of those extremes, hO'\'lever, 'Were tl'10 other a.lter!'~tives that were briefly considered by the l'lorking Group as fallback positions but rejected be:rore they i;·:ere :f'.l1ly e}:plo:!'ed.· l'JhUe both caze into sone eonflict 'I'1ith the cc=!ll!lit!:!.ents to Bouth Vietnam of 1!s.~.! 288, they could ha.ve been justified as flOYling from another lo~-sta.nding U.S. conviction, namely that ultimately the liS.!' liould have to be "\-,on in the South by the South Vietl'l.a.:mese. These fa.1lba.ck positions uere outlined in the follCl-ling ~er:


To hold the situation together as long as possible so that we have time to strengthen other areas of Asia.

"2: To take forceful enough measures in the situation so that



we emerge from it, even in the vl0rst case, 1·71th our standing as the principal helper age.inst COo":!D.umst expansion as little impaired as possible •

. 113.

To ICake clear:•• to natdone , in Asia. particularly, that failure in South VietIl.a.m, if it comes, lfas due to special loca.l i"actors that do not apply to other nations we are cmmnitted to defend •••• 11


In o-oeratio!le.l .teres the first \'Tould hs.ve meant holding the line--placing an ;;"':'ledia.te) 1m'? ceili!l.g en the nll.-r:ber of U.S. personnel. in SV1l, and ~g vigorous efforts to build on a st!"onger base else";·;,,here, pOssibly Thai.la.nd. The second a1tern~_tive 'Would have been to undertaJ.::e. some spec.. ta1:Ul.ar, hig1"'y visible sU1>porting action like a. limited-d\2ration selective bQ!l':oLl1g ca.::lpaign as e. last effort to save the South; to have accompa.n.ied it v:ith a propaganda campa.ign about t.'le um-iin."lability of the ..Tar given the G~rt s inep't.."less e.=ld; then, to have sought negotiations through COOl!,!'omise and neutralize.tion "Then the bombil".g failed.' 'Neither o~ these options ~.;a.s ever developed. The recot;!!lende.tion of the Principa.ls· to the President left a gap bet~leen the ~.ll!!!. objective of NSP':·! 288 and the margineJ. !>ressures aga.in.st

the !~orth being proposed to achi eve the.t objective. means contre.~ictory explane.tions of this gap.

There are


by no

One explanation is the '-lay in ~·:~ich pz-essures end the controlled use o-r force '\orere vie'ired by the Principals. There is some reason to believe that the Princi:p~s thought that c8.;refully calculated doses of force could bring . about pl·edicte.b.le and desirable zespcnses fro!!!. Eanod, ~e threat implicit in ci.niMU!!!, but increasi..'1g anounts of force ("slm'T squeeze") ,·:ould, it was hoped by sene, ultmately bring Hano:' to the 'table on ter::<:s fa.vorable to the U.S. Underlj'i!!g this opti!:J.istic vie:·; vas a. signi-i'ica...'1t u-"!derestimate of the level of the DRV co=j:t~e:lt to victory in the South, e.:l:' an overestimate ~ ~he ~~..~ .....:..J.. ~'-n~ss 0"" -5""':' - i~·1 hat 1-- - r-, 1-·e· • The w_ ._.1..1.",,,,"" ,,1;: _ .I. U•S • ""'Y'. :,_1::.:> ...... _.:> t -·~~~'·e··-t £!_ I- r:; ... V._IJ V_II O J. a.SSi.~pt:'O:1 \'1':"3 that the t1"'..reat value 0:'" lbited pressures coupled "lith declarations of fim resolve on our part i';ould be sufficient to force the DRV into r..a.jor concesstccs , Therefore, t.lle U.S. negotia-:i~g posture could' be a. tough one. Another factor iihieh, no doubt, coznended the proposal to the A,d.'tinistra.tion l-:e.S the rela.tively 101·:-Cost--.in political terms--of such action. nlrtherJ::.ore, these lim;tea neasures vlould give the GVH eo teJ:lporary brea.thing spell, it "TaS thought, in 1-;hich to regroup itself, both politically . a.lld !Dilitarily should stronger actdcn involving a direct conrrontatfon bet'\'leen the ti·lO Vietna.ms be re9.uired at some f'l.lture date. And le.stl~l, it was the widely she.!"ed belief that the reco~enda.tion wa.s a. moderate solution that did not' foreclose future options for the President if the measures did not :f'ully achfeve their intended results. The JCS differed fron this vie"l on the grounds tha.t if ve "lere really interested in affecting Hanoi t swill, we "Tould have to hit hard at· its ca.p!.bilities. ~.t:"'A


I;: l;)

. .. A second expla...'la.tion of the gap between ends and means is a more simple one. In a phrase, we had run out o-r alternatives other than pressures. T'ae GVN '·las not :':"efo:rming, ARVN was bedn..s hit ha.rd, further U.S. aid and advice did not seem to do the trick, and something ."las needed to keep ·the Gl[N a.float until we were ready to decide on further a.ctions a.t a later da.te. Bombing the North would fit that bill, and make it look like we tried.


The President ,res cautious end cCluivocal in a:pproachi~g the decision. Indica.tive of his relucta.."lce to '-Tiden the U. S. CO!!'.r'..it.'=lent e..:.'"'l5 of his ee~ire to hedge his bets was the decision to =ake ~se II of t~e new policy contingent on GVP reform and iInprove!!!ent. A:mbflssador Ta.;ylcr vas sent back -bo -sa.igon in December a.:rter the \':hite House meetings "iith the Understa..'"lding that the- U.S. Government did not believc~ "that l-re should incur the risks ,\"h~ch are inherent in any of' hostili ties without first· assuring that there is a. governaent in Saigon capable of handling the serdous problems involved in such an expansion and of exploiting the favorable effects 'ihich may be anticipated •••. " expansdon

As "lit.ll the discussions of the preceding six nonths , t~e decisions at the end of 1964 t!~ked another ste-o in the U.S. involve:!.e~t in VietnaJ:l. The follo,dng is a sU!!J!l2.rY of the I:O"o/;r.':ber December, 196h and Ja.nue.ry, 1965 deliberatio.ns. On the eve of the 1rov.....-.:ber election, and after the decision not to retalia.te against the lIrorth for the VC attack on the Bien Roa airbase on . November 1, the President appointed an inter-agency ,-:orking group and asked it to con1uct a. thorougb re-ex~~in~ticn of our Vietn~~ policy and to present hiI:ll::i:th alterr..atives and reccn:r!:en~ations as to o\U' future course of a~tion. That such a reYie;-T should have been u.:.'2:~rte.!:en so seen a:'te!' the policy deliber~tio~s a.~i decisio~g of S~pte=b:!' is at first gl~~ce surprisir-g. The ?£etident, hO~'Fever, l~a.S nOl-; being elected in his oxn ~is~t "lith an oven:he1ci.ng zandabe and all the sense of o:P!'0rttL~ity and freedom to reconsider pa.st policy and current trends that such a victory i~i.-ariabJ.y br4ngs. In retrospect, there appears to have been, in fact, rE:!!:e.r~:e.bly little latitude for reopening the ba.sic quest.tens about U.S. involve::ent in the Vietne.m struggle. £:S.~1 288 did not seen open to question. In Vietnam, our ncx substantial efforts and our pUblic affirn:atio:l of resolve to see the war through to success had failed to reverse either the adverse trer..d 0:- the ,:ar or the continuing deterioration of South Viet~~ese political life. The Septe=ber deliberations had ~duced only a decision against precipitate action a-'1d he.d .done nothing to redress the situation. Significa."ltly, hovever , they had revea.led the existence of' an Afu'!inistration consensus that !:li1itary pressures against the l!orth ''lould be required e.t some proxirns>_te ruture da.te for e. variety. of reasons. NOrT, in November, ,·lith a. new electoral mandate and the abundant evidence of the ina.dequacy of current measures , the President ,.,as once aga.in looking for new ideas and proposaJ.s--a lDi'T-cost option with prospects for s~~dy, positive results.

The Working. Group's first job had been to exandne U.S. interests and objectives in South Vietna.m. This subject stirred some of the most heated debate of the entire l'lorking Group project. At the outset, the ma.xi.r.:1.u:l statement of U.S. interests a.nd objectives in South Vietne::l l:S.S aceompani.ed by -a'TO fa.l.lback positions--the first a. compromise, the second merely ra.tionalizations for \-lithdra.,·:a.l. The JCS re-:>resentative took testy exceotdcn to •


i!lcltl.di~g t-lJ.e fa"back positions in the Group's paper and ci~J~d JCS ~·:e::'ol·a..'1d&. on the critical imnort~.nce o~ South Vietnam to t!"-.·· U.S. position in Asia.. His forceful objections '\-Tere effective and the~~ ·..: ere downgraded in the final :pa.:;>er 't-lhich, ,.,rhile also pointedly rejecti!l~. the "domino theory"

as oYer-skplifi~d, nevertheless, "Tent on to d"'scribe ~!le' efre.ct of the - fa3::l of South Vietna::!l in inuc..ll the same terms. S'Dec~~ica.lly pointing up the danger to the other Southeast Asian-'ccu:(ltrie~ ....ld to Asia in gencral, the paper concluded: ItThere is a great deal vTe could stil: do to reassure these countries, but the picture of a defens.. . line clearly breached could have serious effects and could (..:,sily, over time, tend to unravel the \·;hole Pacific a..."ld Souti' .-isian defense structures. 11

In spite of these concessions, the JCS refused to associate itself with the final for=~ulation of interests and objectives, holding tha.t the domino . theory was perfectly approp!'iate to the South Vietna.l!lese situation. One of the other important tasks a.ssigned to the 1'lorking Group i'TaS the intelligence assesswa"1t of the effectiveness of measures against the North in i!:~proYi!lg the situation in the SC:lth. The L"1itial appraisal of the · nt C"en"e co...:..__ ,-".,..,;'t·y"·Tas ':''l.,~.lo el""''''Il.loS of CC-""1'1;st st-reonc+.h J. .. .. - 1 J; ;":)" ..... •• f.,L.i._", "tl~"'"D-S;C ._ c:=. "--..- "'" ...-_......:..in Sou:th Vietn:?.::~~ re."!'I<;.in indigenous, II and t:::at " even if severely damaged" the '"lJ?.V cou.ld ccntdmie to support a. reduced level. of VC acti'iity. v:hile "OC-h';..,~ zeduce so-rn-··r-~,:, l",,·r:::.' 0..::0"TI" and g':ve .lohe "-"'''''• .0 'Mi~1'"" -·-O·':'tJ -........ .-J..:.c,·, __ u .lo"'"" -_.;....:. .:. sutrcor... J.~oY'_ "''''e 1"• -IV c:..&.. .L '" G~: a. respite, the=e vac ver:,· 'little :L:!.~:;li~cc:' that it ~·:c:;.ld break the lilill ':1''' ''' 0''' .,_. <:.l.'j __ S ':'h",' 'tj" .... .: ,._~ ,..0".-='.:,.:; ..,..,.... o-=" -.,....- ....... sta l!"Y; 0 J.-=' ••_.. .I.';'_~ e_ :..~_::. ... = '\'1a 1.0._...;"(; ...:".10,,- .'.:.~ _ ... .:..:."'_l..u ..!. e:.- ~~ue_ 1.0 y .log polFer th~"l the U.S. in a contest of attrition. These vie;·;s i,rere cha.llenged by the JCS :m~ber 't-;ho stressed tha:£""t:5.e tilita!'Y damage' of a.ir strikes viould ap!ll"'eci~vbly de~·a.de rev and VC cap;;.oilities. In deference to this viei';, the final \·;or1~in.g Group estin:"<.te gave g!'eate!' e::.phs.sis to the mil tary effectiveness of strikes, although it ,"ras pessi"'''stic about the extent of damage the DRV leaders ~culd be willL~g to incur before reconsidering their objectives. It concluded with the assessment that there was very little likelihood of either Chinese or Soviet intervention on behalf' of' the DRY if pressures '\orere adopted by the U. S. ~



m", ..






As t-'I1e ;·;cr1d.ng Group toiled through l:ove!r~ber in its ei'fort to develop options, it focused on three alternative courses of action. Option A '\oTas essentially a continuation of military and nava.l actions currently unden-ra.y or authorized in the September decisions, inclUding prompt reprisals age.inst the rrorth for attacks on U.S. forces and VC "spectacu'lars", It also included a resistance to negotiations until the North had agreed in advance to our con'liticn'3. Option B augmented current policies .dth systematic, sustained military pressures against the :r-rorth and a resistance to negotiations unless vFe could carry them. on "lhile continuing the bombing. Option C " proposed only a modest campaign against the North as compared .·lith option B


· and 1-laS designed to bring the DRV to the negotiating table. If' that occurred the pressures ..reze to be suspended--although with the threat 9f resut~tion should negotiations break dorr.n. In the course of the month, these options converged a.nd t'he distinctions betareen the.":l blurred. In p3.rticula.r,· o~tic!l A i':as expanded to include some lOll-level pressures a.gainst the ~!orth; the negotiations ele:nent of option B was, in ef'1"ect, dropped and the pressures i-[e~e to be applied at a ~ster, less flexib1.e pace; and option C i-laS stiffened to resemble the first inca.rna.tion of option B--the pressures "Tould be stronger and the negotiating !lOsition tougher.' Thus, by the end of' the month i·,hen the ~{ork; ng Group's pro:posa.1s liere p!"esented to the !'ISC Princi~ for consideration before a zoecO!!1'!!.endation. l·re.S I!la:le to the President, a.ll options included pressures age.inst the !;orth, &..."ld, in effect, excluded negotia.tions in the short-run, since the te:es and pre-conditions proposed in a.1l three options 'Were entirely unrea.listic. The policy cJi1na.te in 1·rashington si.1!l.!UY llaS n~t receptive to e:ny suggestion that U.S. goals !!light have to be coq>ramised. And, in proposir.g pressures aga.inst the 1!orth, the ~'iorking Group i':as conscious of the danger t:-~t they I!light generate co=:.pe1.ling v.or1.d-l'1ide pz-essure on t.he U.S. for negotia;~ions. HO';i large a role the specific :perception o-r the President' s -oJ'ie~'Ts, validated or unva.lidate:1, -r.:.ay have played in the Working Group's narz-oxing of the o:ptio~s is not clear. It seems li.~ely, hCNiever, __ gu~d~"'cQ _....... _ .fro am ..... the _ .'';'!._\I _ _" __... _ <,"1--;.&.e House. was ~o:>';I'!:7' zecedved th o +, scece

_. -




Durdng the last week in !iove~ber, the I;SC Principals lrIet to consider the Wor:'.ing Gro"J.!" s ~!'oposals. They 1'iere j 0; ned on !:ovember 27 by Amba.ssador Taylor. Ta.~rlor's re:port on conditions in South Vietna.":l 1-:as e>..-trem.ely b1.eak. To m.prove South 'Viet!la..'llcse morale and confidence, and to "drive the D3.V out of its reinforcing role e.n.o. obta.in its cooperataon in bringing an end to the Viet Cong insurgency," he urged that military Jl!'essures against. the North be adopted. His re~ort ha.d a considerable ;1""pact on the Princi~...ls and later on the President. As the discussions continued tr.rough the several meetings of 'tha.t i·reek, opinion began to converge in favor of sene com.bination of an "extended ')potion All and the first measures age.mst the North of .&.' C• 0pIIl.on In the end, the Princip3J.s decided on a tHo-phase recoamendatdon to the President. Pha.se I vlould be m.erely an extension of current actions l'lith some increased air a.ctivity by the U.S. 1..'1 Laos and tit-for-tat reprisal.s for VC attacks on U.S. forces or other major incidents. Durir'.g this period, the GV1i iiOuld be informed of our desires for its r~f0rJI!. and when these were iieU U!lden:~y, p."1a.se II, a. campaign of gra.duaJ.1y esca1.a.ting a.ir strikes against the Uort.h, l'1ould begin. This proposaJ i'Tes presented to the President on December!. He approved phase I and gave assent, at lea.st in principle, to phase II. In approving these mea.sures, the President a.ppears to have been relucotant to grant final authoriza.tion for phase J..l un';;'!:: l.e .Lei-II it waa ab solute1.y necessary.


I1' a consensus ~ra.s reached "lithin the Ad~jci.stra.tion in favor of military press~es against the north, it certainly reflected no commonly held rationale for such actdon, GeneraJ.ly speaking the military (M.4.CV, CII~CPAC, JCS) favored a strong caz.pa.ign against the r~orth to interdict the infiltra.tion routes" to cestroy the overall capacity 0:" the Horth to s\lpport the -insm-gency, end to destroy the DRV' s ~lill to continue support of the Viet Cong. ~e State Department ("dth the exception of George Ball) a.nd the civilian a.dvisors to Secretary l<!c!'76J!l..ara fa.vored a gradua.lly mountir.g series of' Pressures that l10uld place the ~!orth in a SlO't'l squeeze and act a:. both . carrot and stick to settling the lIar on our: terms. As ~lould be expected, State ,':as e.l.so concerned lrrith the international politica.1 implications of such steps. Bombir.g the frorth lI0uld de:n.onstra.te our resolve, not only to the South Vietna.~ese but also to the other SOl.lthea.st ,Asian countries and to China., whose contain.~ent 't'las one of' the importa."lt justifications of the entire Americe..'l involve=ent. 1'ralt Rostow, the Chair!!len ot' State' s Policy Pla.mling Council, took a slightly different vie~'T, e=,p:::ta.sizing the impQrtance o拢 pressures as a clear signa~ to the l'Torth a."l:l to China. of U.S. determina.tion and resolve and its 'tiillingness to engage the tremendous power a.t its diSIlOSaJ. in support of the 1954 and 1962 Geneva. agreemerrta , 'Alnbassador !fayJ.or sup:POrted strikes a.gainst the lro1'th as a meens of reducing inf'il路tra.tion and as a. way of bolstering South Vietna!:lese morale. As is readily a.ppa.re~t, there

vas no dearth of reasons for striking Indeed, one ~l~ost has the im~ressicn ~r.~~ there were more reasons tha.n were required. But in the end, the decision to go ahead 1-lith the strikes seezs 'to =ave :-esultec" as Illuch f:-c::n. t.~e 2.:.~:: of a.lterna.tive prollOs2J.s as f':ro::n a.r..y co:::.peJHr.g logic E-dv::.nced in their favor. By J~nuary, for e~ple., 'l'1iUiam :Bundy, l'ihile still supporting the pressures, could ori!F'ofier the1'6llmring in their favor: . North~

"on ba.l~.nce lie believe tha.t such a.ction 1'10uld ha.ve some faint "hope of ree.lly in:proving the Vietna.'llese situs.tion, and, above a.ll, would put us in a much stror..ger positio:1 to told the next line of defense, na"llely Tha.ile..'ld. It ~.nd it, ~10uld P'.lt us in a better position in our Asian relationg-"since 't'le ~'To~d have appeared to Asia..."'ls to have done a lot more about it." It is interesting to note that ~lring the celiberations of September one ot: the preconditions to such strikes had been. generallya.cknowledged as a. unity of' domestic .American opinion in support of such Presidentially authorized action. During the ~rovember debates, this is no longer an important fa.ctor. Indeed, it is openly conceded tha.t such action is likely to evoke opposition in both domestic and international public opinion. Another inte:-esti"1gaspect of this :policy debate' ~'re.s that the questionot: Constitutiona.l authority for open acts of IvaI' against a sovereign na.tion was never seriously raised. . P'nase I of the ne'tily approved program ~lent into effect in mid-December. The PARRE1 ROLL "armed recee" by U.S. aircra.ft in the Laotian panhandle began on a. limited scale on December 14.. It had been foreseen that the :





nm:fuer· of sorties \iould SlCI~'lly increa.se ,'lith each succeeding lleek. However) once the first lleek's level of 'tl-ro missions of' four a.ircraft each \la.S deterr.::ined by Secretary Nc~;a~ara, it became the guideline for the ' rezta.inder of December and Ja..Yluary. Covert GVrl operations a.long the ~~orth . Vietnamese coast "lere continued at about the level of the previous r.onths - ana JCS propcsats for direct U.S. air and naval support ~·:~re rejected. Furthermore) the public disclosure of inform-Ootion on DRV inf'i1tration into the South ,·:e.s deferre·j at the request of Secreta.~- ~·:cN~'tr~ra.. On DeceItiber 24, the Viet Cong bonbed a U.S. officers bille~ ~n Sa.igon killing tvl0 k1erica.ns. M.:\.CV) CIrrCp...~C, the JCS, and J1.::.bassador Taylor e.ll ca.lled ~ediately for a relll'isal strike against the I'forth of the kind authorized under p.llase I. For reasons still not cl.ec.r, the AdJ!Iinistration decided against such a. :!"eprisal. Thus, in purely I!lilita!'"! terms, the ~ase I period turned out to be little more tba.."l a contdnuatdcn of neasures already u.."ldenlay. (The B..t\P...~L ROLL activity appare~tly was not differentiated by the DRV from RL.\F strikes until well into January.) . One o:r the expJ.an~tions for this f'e.ilure to rally ir:.plement the Deceaber 1 decisions ''laS the 'OOlitical crisis that erurrt ed in South Vietnam. Amba.ssador Taylor had :returned to South Vietnam on Dec~nber 7 and im."Iledia.te1y set about gettiJl.g the GV!! to undertake the reforr::s ~':e desired) !Sking clear to both the civilian 5..."l:1. I:lilita.ry leaders ~hat the i.!1ple~entation of phase II l·re.S contingen.t on their efforts to revive t-"'le :rhgging '·leo..!' effort a...'l'ld ~ore.le i."l the South. For his efforts, he ,\-las' re~-;arde~l 'tdth a military go··~r1'1-~"';' '~"'e "o"o~.'h- ... ~ .... ..::I _-l.of....""_ ""'-r'Y'od t'h C-w.t",..':)o ·,.... - "''h"". .. .L ':''''0 c~~";liC'n ...v .. • .. • .;.l;,t len .. __ _ 'DurC-e ot "'J~.....

he 't·:culd





dec!ered '1:';r=:=::.~


~C~ ;:~e.:t:...

.... _\w~.... ....,~_


The :pelitical



boiled en

into Jt.nu~y "lith no e.ppars!:t solution in sight in spite of our heaV'.{ pressure on the military to return to a civilian regirle. And, 't'Thile Taylor str~gled "lith the South Vietna.r.;.ese genez-aLs , the ,-:a.r effort continued to decline. . At the same time .that ?a~"lol' had been dispatched to Sa.igon a vigorous diplo!r.atic effort ha1 been under-taken ,'lith our Asian and r~~TO allies to inform them of the forthcc"'ling U.S. intensification of the "Ta.r, "iith the expected eventual strikes against the North. The fact that our allies now came to expect this action ay heve been a corrtzdbutdng reason in the February decision to proceed 't'lith phase II in spite of the ra.ilure or the South Viet!l~ese to have cO::",-p1;ed ,'lith our requtrezents , In any case, it a.dded to the already considerable momentum behind the policy of striking the North. By the end of January 1965, William Bundy, ~cN~ughton, Taylor and others had come to believe that we had to procee1with phase II irrespective of '-That the South Vietner:.ese did.

u. S.

Clear indica.tion that the Administration \':as consdderdng some kind of escalation came on January 25. Ambassador Taylor '-las asked to cOIl'J!lent on a.·proposal to withdravT U.S. dependents from 8e.igon so as to "crear the decks. II Previously, this action, "Thich "las nO"l approved by the JCS, was alw·a.ys associated with pressures against the North. v1hile there is no indica.tion of any decision a.t this point to move into phase II, it is clear· that the preparations "lere alrea.dy unden·:ay.





1964 -







r6' OCt 64


Embassy Saigon J.1essage, JPS 303, Taylor to the President


Ambassador Taylor reports greatl楼 'increa.sed infiltration from the North, including North Vietnamese ,:regula.rs, and a steadil~ worsen:ing situation in the South.


JC5rli 893-64

The JCS urge Secretary 1路1cNamara. to back militarJ measures to seize. control of the border areas of South Vietn~ and to cut off' the supply end direction of the Viet Cong by direct measuree against North Vietnam.

27 Oct 64

JCS!路l 902-64

On the basis of the nev intelligence on infiltration levels, the JCS again recomaend direct miltary pressures against the Iiorth.

Viet Cong Attack Bien Hoe. Jlirbase

In a. daring strike, the Viet Cong staged a nortax attack on the large U.S. tirbase at Bien Hoa, kiJJ-ing four ;~::!'ica.."ls, destroying fhre B-57s, and damaging eight others.


House Decides Not to Retaliate

Concerned about possible further North Vietnamese escalation and the ~"lcertainty of the Red Chinese response, the ~nrite House decides, against the advice of Ambassador Taylor, not to retaliate in the titfor-tat fashion envisaged by JlTSAM 314. As a result of the attack, how.. ever, 2..:"1 interagency vTorking Group of the NSC is established to study future courses of U.S. action under the Chairma"1ship of 'VTill:lam BundyJ Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern A:tfairs.

Civilian Named Premier

Tran Van Huang is naned Premier in SVN.

First Meeting of NBC l'1orking Group

The NSC Working Gro~p held its first meeting. Other me::ibers are Michael Forre stal and Marshall. Green from

21 Oct

1 Nov


3 Nov 63'





3 Nov 64

President Reelected.

4 Nov 64



110v 61.;.

State, John I,IcNaughton from lSA, Harold Ford for CIA, and Admiral Llo~;c! Mustin fron JCS. vlork con. tinues for three veeks, In a la~dslic.e victo~, President Johnson i~ re-elected vith a new Vice President, Hu"::>ert Humphrey.


The JCS place in ,n-iting their request.for re~risal action against North Vietnam in retaliation for the Bien Hoa attack. Fa:.lure to act may be misinte~reted by the North Viet:l~ese as a la.c}~ of will and dete~~nation in Vietnam.

CGCS r·ier.-.orandw;l to SecDe~, a~



and JCS:·! 955-64

17 liov 64

Working Group Circulates Draft "Options" for COI!1!:ent

18 Nov 64

JCSM 967-64


In separate nenos to the Secreta~·J t~e JOS recor:~e~d covert GVlI air stri}:es a<;ai:lst I;or~h Vietna.."'1 a.:ld add~tionel U.S. d~?loynents to South East Asia to !::al:e ~ossible i:mpla-::e=1tation of U.S. stri}:es should these .be acnrcved, T"ne t'~orking Grou~ circulates its dre.:r."'t paper on the tlOptionstl available to the U.S. in South Vietnam. They are three: (A) continuation of present policies in the hope of en mprova-nent i!l the South but strong U.S. resistal'lce to negot~a­ tior.s; (B) strong U.S. pressures against the l~orth and resistance of negotiations until the DRV was ready to comply ~..ith our demands; 'end (C) limited pressures against the North coupled vr.ith vigorous efforts to get negotiatio~s started and reccgnition that 1-re 'l-lould have to compromise our objectives. Option B is fa.vored by the l'Tort~ng Group. The JCS .renews its recommendation for stri.1{es against the North tempering it slightly in terms of CIa controlled progra'!l of systematically increased military pressures. II

E\'mlT OF DOClt·~;T




1Ie.ving received cOO:ments the .different agencies, the t'1orking Group revises its draft slightly, . .takes note of different viey1points . ;a.1'ld submits its vTork to the 1iSC Princi:;a.1s for the consideration.

Group Dra.:t""t

23 Nov 64 .


.Taking a. somel-l'hat dii'fere1'lt tac.."It, the then Director of State's Policy Planning Staff, "H. W. Rosto,." pro~o~es ri~ite.ry pressures against the i\:orth as a method of" clearly signeliIl.g U. S. determina.tion and cQowr.n-":tment i:o the ITorth.

l·lemo to Sec


24 :Nov 64

NSC Principals Meeting

27 ~rov

28 Nov



lIo consensus is reached, but Option A is generally rejected as pr~~~s­ i!i.g cnly eventual, defeat. Option:B is favored by the JCS and CIA, Khile State and OSD favor Option C. £-:0 fi~ conclusion is reached on t~e iss~e of: sendtng ground troo!>s to South Vietnam.


Taylor Neets i·r.i.th Pri!lcipals


for consultations, Taylor neet s 't-Tith the !'ISC Principals and after giYing a glo~":':y report of the situation in South Vietne.rt, recommends that to shore up the GIn! and improve more.l.e yTe ta.~e 1'im'i ted actions against the North but resist negotiations until the GVN is improved and the DRV is hurting. He proposed an extended Option A 'Wii:h the first stages of . Option C. This proposal ,vas adopted by the Principals as the reccemendation to be made to the President. ;~bassaaor

NSC Principals Meeting


In a follo'\'T-up meeting, the Princi:paJ.s decide to propose a. two phase program to the President. The first phase 1.;ould be a. thirty-da.:r·






period of slightly increased pressure such as the resumption of the DE SOTO:pe.trols and U.S. armed .recce on the Laotian corridor \1hile '~~iedtogetre£omsinSouth

Vietnam. The second pm..se 'uould involve direct air strikes egainst the North as in Option C. i'lilliam :Bundy ,,-re,s c1'..a.rged \lith :preparing a dra.:t:t N8.Al.f to thi s effect e..'"1d en infiltration study 't1aS ccr::d.ssioned.

30 l!ov 64

NSC Principals


~ Dec


l-:bite Rouse 1-!eetiDg

.. 3 Dec 64

Meeting to revielT the Qr::ft :prepared by Bundy, the Pi'incipaJ.s decided not to call it a ~ISJll·t. Its 'O!"ovisions 'are those recO!mllended on-28 nov. Phase II \TOuld be a. gradu.ated and mounting set of prmarilj- air pressures. aga.i...l1st the £Torth cou.:;>led. "With e:t"'forts to saund out the n:r.'l on.., readiness to negotiate on U.S. tems. A r~comrlendation on l1~ir.g U.S. actions to 'DRV i.n:rUtration is deleted. ~1hile

the exact decisio.l1s nade at this meeting of the Princi;pe.ls ldth the President are not a.-.;raila.1:>le, it is clear that he approved 1..'"1 general tenns the concept outlined in the Bundy paper. He gave his approval for implementation of only Phase I, however. The President stressed the need for Taylor to get iIn.provement from. the GVN and the need to brief our allies on our neY' course of action, and to get more assistance from them in the conflict• The President meets privately with TS\1~or and gives lrlJn instructions. that he is to explain the nev program to the GtnI, indicate to its leaders that the Phase II U.S.


Meets ?resident


E\iEfi' OF







64 '

strLltes against the North are con. tingent on :i.m!>ro~-ement in the South, .and explain that these 'Will be .cooperative efforts. A thorough study on North Vietnamese i~~iltration as commissioned by the

Cooper Report on .Infiltration

PrincipaJ.s is submitted to the ,NSC and la.ter fo~·rarded to Saigon. Decisions on its release are continually deferred. Ta¥1or Meets l,rlth Premier Huong

The day B.J..~er h; s return to Saigon, Taylor meets r:i th PreI:li.er Huong end wi.th General.. !C~.....rJ1 and outlines the nev U.S. polic~- and states the requirements this places on the avrI•

.7 -,9 Dec 64

Prime Ninister i'iilson briefed

In l'lashington on a state visit, British PrL~e :~inister Wilson is t!loro~g!'~y briefed on the forthcoming U.S. actions. 'On 4 De~., Willian ]u.'ldy n~d gone to i~e1-1 Zealand and Austrclia to present the 'new policy a..."1d seek support. Other envoys were meeting 'With the remaining Asian allies.


Second Taylor-Euo~g­ Kha.:"'lh l·Ieeting

At a second r:eeting 'With Huong and Khanh, Tajylor presents a detailed set of actions he desires the GV1I to ta..\e to L'T!l~rove the situation and receives agreement- from the t'V10 leaders.

10 Dec 64'


PhoUJlla Approves U.S. Laos Strikes

The U.S. proposal, for armed air recce over the Laotian corridor is presented to Souvanna Phouma who gives his assent.

11 •Dec 64

GVN Announces Greater E:f':forts

Complying with T~lort s request, the GVN announces stepped-Up efforts to improve the ca::paign against the VC and to refonn the government.








J.2 Dec 64

SecDef Approves JCS Proposal for Naval Actions


.NSC Principals Approve Armed recce in Laos


The Secrete.-'7 approves e. JCS proposal for shore bombardment, naval patrols and .of'f'shore aerial recce _for the first thirty da;ys. A de-; eision on the Phase II Y12.S deferred. As


the !TSC approved a..."I":D.ed air recce over the Laotia.."l corridor with the exact number' and i'requency of the patrols to be controlled by SeeDei'.




:B.!ffiREL ROLL Begins

The first sorties of U. S. Soircra...i't in the 'l..-r.ea. recce" of the Laotian corridor, knot..'"n as BARREL ROLL, take place. T:'1ey mark the beginning of the thirty -dq Phase I of the limited pres~~es•




Level of Laotian }·1issions Set-

Secreta.!"",f lIcI;E::E.r2. sets tiiO J:lissions of i"our aircraft each as the v."ee}:ly level of B..!U\P.EL ROLL activ-


ity. -

19 Dec 64

20 Dec


NSC Principals Meeting

T:"le nsc Princi!a.ls a:ppro\"e ~~cIr2r.!g,ra 1 s recommendation that BA.B.RELL ROLL l:lissions be teld at constarrt levels through Phase I. It is revealed that adverse sea. cO=:lc1itions have bro';lght maritime operations agai!lst the DRV' to a virtual ~9.lt. At McNa.-nera l s insistence it is sereed that the infiltration study vrill not be made public.

KhaTlhPurges Civilian Governlnent

Late in the evening, the I!iilite.ry high co:I!!!!lB.nd, led by Khenh" moved to remove aJ.l :pm·rer f"rom the civilian regime of Premier Huong by o.issolvinf; the High rrational Coun~il. K11e.nh assumes po'\-ier.

T2¥lor Meets With Leaders

:rn a meeting with the leading South Vietnamese militarJ officers, ~lor ~nce again outlin~d the ac-tions .




- 22 Dec 64.

Kh Repudiates T8¥1or

required from the GVrt by the U.S. before Phase II couJ.d be started. .A-f'ter having given initial appear. .ences of understa."1ding the dll"'ficulty


ti'.at the military purge placed the U.S. in, Khanh on Dec. 22 holds eo news conference and sta.tes that the Inilitary is resolved not to ce:rry out the 'policy of any foreign power.

24 Dec 64

Rumors of Taylor! s Ex,puJ..sion

Rumors are received by the Embassy tha.t Xhanh intends to have Ta\)rlor declared ;personna non grata.. Vigorous U.S. efforts to dissuade hil:l and the use of Phase IT as 'leve:-ege cause Kha.nh to reconsider.


1.'1 a terror attack this' Cbris"b!i.a.s DIe, the VC bomb a U.S. BOQ. in

BOQ Bo!!:bed; Embassy Saigon I·fessage 1939; C!I;-CPAC l-Iessege to JeS, 262251Z Dec; JCSM 1016-64

31 Dec. 6l;.

Se.ieon. ~iO U.S. officers ere killed, 58 injured. T8¥1or urges reprisaJ.s against the 110rth. lie is . st."P:;orted by Cn:CPAC and. the JCS.

}!SC Principals Meeting

At the meeting of the NSC Principals: a decision e.gainst re:prisals for the barracks bombing is taken in spite of the strong recc......endations above. At the same meeting, IS! reported the reedi.ness of the PhiJ] ipines, ROK, and GRC to send military assistance to South Vietnam.

Embassy 8a.igon Message 2010


proposes going forward. vith the Phase. n U.S. strikes against the ilorth in spite of the political crisis in the South and under a:rry conceivable U.S. relations 'With the GV!~ short of complE:te abandonmen"".

rocs Memo to DepSecDef, CM 341-64 .

The JCS recommend the atldition of severeJ. air missions to already approved operations, including two air strikes by unmarked VlIAF a.irCra:f't





3 Jan 65


against the North~ "and U.S. air escort for returning GVlf naval craft. . ,Secretary Rusk appears on a Sunday TV interview program and defends U.S. policy, rn)jng out either a U.S. withdrav.'a1. or a majqr expansion of the war. The public and Congressional debate on the vre.r had heated up- considerably since the Army take-over in South Vietnam in December. The debate continues through January with Senator ¥.orse the most vocal and sharpest critic of the Administration.

Rusk TV Inter-


4 Jan 65

Soviets call for nev Conference on Laos

5 'Jan 65

nsc Principals Meet

6 Jan 65

1'1i11iam Bundy lv!emo to Rusk

Rene'·r.ipg their e~lier efforts, the Soviets call e.gein· for a conference on the Laotia..'1 problen.·


The Principals disapprove the JCS • recom::endation for VIrAF strikes yr.i.th u.'1!!larked aircraft against the North. The JCS voice concern at the failure ~o begin planning for Phase II of the pressures program.' But no decision to go ahead is taken. In viell of the continued deterior-

ation of the "situation in the South and the prevailing view that the U.S. 't-JaS going to seek a we::! out, Bundy recommended some JJmited measures, short of Phase II (i.e. reece, a reprisal, evacuation ~ U.S. dependents, etc.), to strengthen our hand. There ylere risks in this course but it would :1mprove our position with respect to the other SEA nations if things got rapicll.y 'WOrse in SVN and we had to con, template a withdraval. xv

EVmfl' OF







9 Je.n 65


First Korean Troops Go to South Vietnam .

C-enerals An110unce Return to Civilia.ll 'C-overnment


The first contingent of 2,000 South Korean troo.ps leave for South Vietnam. 0' 00'


. 'Under U.S. pressure, the South Vietnamese generals announce that matters of state ..rill be left in the future in the hsnds of a civilian government. The joint Huong-Khanh communique promises to convene a constituent a.ssembly.


II Ja.."'l 65

US..av.rI Aid Discussians Resll.-ne

'\-lith the return to civiiian government, the U.S. resumes its discussions lYi.th the GVi,r on aid and measures to :i=.prove the !l'dlitC4-Y situation.

14 Jal'l 65

U.s. Laotian Operations Revealed

A UPI .story reveals the U.S. BARREL ROLL arrr.ed recce missions in Laos and tells the story of tie Y_~ti\:EE TEAM armed escort for the RLa.P.


17 Jan 65

Buddhist Riots

. Shortly after the GVIT announcemerrt of increased dreft calls, ~~ddhist protest riots bree..'Ic out in several cities against the allegedly a..lltiBuddhist mi1it~~ leaders. Disturbances continue thro'lgh the m.onth.

22 Ja."'l 65

Soviets Affirm Sup. port of DRV

23 Jan 65

USIS Libraiy Burned in Hue

27 Jan 65

.McNaughton paper


"Observations re South Vietnam After Khanh1s IRe_Coup l ll


In letters to Ranoi and Peking, Gromyko cl'fims Soviet support for the DRV struggle against American 0 imperialism. Rioting Budd..lUsts burn the USIS library in Hue • The U.S. stakes in South Vietnam were defined as holding buffer land for Thailand end Malaysia and main.:. taining our national honor. They required continued p=erseverance in a






bed situation, taking some risks such as reprisals. It 'WaS :i!nportant to remember that our objective was the contetrment of China .nct necessarily the salvation of South VietnaTU. In this effort, however, ve should soon begin re~risal strikes against the North. T'ney 'Would not help the GVIT much but vouid have a positive overall effect on our policy in SE.A... Gener~s

"li tbdre.i"

Su:p:port from Huong

28 JaIl 65


Oanh !!~ed




The generals under Khenht S leaders:hip act once again to elimina.te the civilian govermnent. TIt..is time they succeed in-their coup and the U.S. only protests. C-enerallJguyen XUS-"1 O~~ is nemed acting Pr~ier by C~neral K:~~~h.



•••••••••••• ~ ••••••••••



I~e~iate z~tece~ents••.••••••• ; •••••••••••••••••••••••



FOnlation of the r!SC \-rorking Group•••••••••••••••••••••


POLIC"f D3B.4..TE- Ii!

l~OVEi·33R•••••••••• ~

3. v:orki:lg

GrOUP Assessnerrte of the 'utility of Pressures ••••••••••.•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••






Sense of' Urgency••••••••••••••••• ; • •• • • • • • • • • • • • • •.• Views' of DR-V Susceptibility........................ .


Perceptions and Develop:ent of U. S. Pressure Options •••



Perception of U. S. Objectives and Interests.........




of Options...............................



Sign.ificance of :~egotiations..•. . . ••.• • • •• • •••• ••• • Perceived P.e~ctions to Optio~s ••• ;.................




fr~ Cutsi~c

the NSC






JCS Views.......................................... 32 b." Rostow Vie~s ••••••• ~............................... 35



Reactions of


_~ong I~SC








Views Backing Consensus....... • • •.• • • •• • • • • • • • • • • • • • Policy Views From Saigon........................... Discussions ;'7ith A!:lbe.ssad.or Taylor.................





c. 2.



38 38 38 41 42 45

Courses of Action Approved in the White House••••••••••

n,~~·~:TI~G THE



1. Ear ly P.ctions •••••••••••••••••• '•••••• ~ • • •• • • •• • • • • • • •• •


a. b. c. d.

GVH Maritilne Operations •••••••••••••••••'........... A-~ed Reconn~issance

in Laos....................... Surfacing Infiltration Evidence.................... Consultations ~Vith "Third Countries ll • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •



61 63 65





G~: ••••.•

# ••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Joint Pl.an...Yling: •••••••••••••••..•••••••••.•••••.••• b. G'V:'; Crises •.....·...••............•....•....•...•... •. . ...... . 1 c. . J o~n~ ~epr~sa s ...................................•


3. Policy Views in January•••.•••••••.••••••••..••••••••.•


a.. ?l1blic Debat.e..•.••••...••••••...••.•.•...•••••..•• b. PolicyAsses~ents•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

73 75




69 72

I. POLICY DE3.?_st:·J:;:. ;:t1~.~·:BER



In their Sout~east Asia policy ~iscussions of A~s~st-October lS~4, A6.::L.'"list:·atio:l oti'icials had accetrted t~e vierT that overt Illilitary pressures against Ijorth Viet:lam. :;>ro'baJ~:" -..;'ould be req,uired. Barring scee critical c~evelo?;~:ents, hO-;'ievel~, it vas .[;enerally conceded that these should not, begin 1l.'1til arce= the netr yc8J,·. Preparatiofls for a:;;plyin,; such :p:'essures . . r. ere nade in earnest during l~ove::.ber. I!:'.=:.ediate Antecec.ents



Af~i:listration l'oli~y d:'s~ussio!ls,

the t;·)'o developments I:.ost

o.:.··~~ __

cited. as -Cel'''ll5.:>S 1°rsxl'a-'1ting ~t-~·l€:L~ntation of ~o":lcrt :n:ilita.!'Y preasures before 1$55 ..je;e: (1) i!l~reas~:::i LeveLs of' inf'ilt=ation of gu.errillas ~"Co

So....t.h Vietna:!l and (2) serLous c.eterio:::·ation of the GV:~. E"vidence of both vas re:po~..ted. to Washin.;ton d~i~~ october, l~ational

intelligence est~:=.":.es r;a.ve the GV!\ little hope of SU!'and discoUl'as-=.i·::c~t -dt:J. ~:~ich it vas ~le:.gued. They re;ol'teti, "Go-·:e~·...z ent :rtinist::.'ies in S=:.i;on are close to a standstill, T·':':'h .-_.:,-u!=:w. JI'Gir~ ,._lJ.. o~"1'" "'1.,- est routdne .w_•• t;: O~'''''-'''':O'''' t;.. ......:.. •• _ ....:::, 0:"\ .:... II -. -.' .... "I .. nninc 0 ";:.s \.r.ot 'oe:115; i'ollo-::cc:. by G"~: action, A COU:,J O'j" c.isgl"untl-::c:. South ilie't·~:::.ese r:: i li"t:'l'y fig"~-es 'vas believed. ir..ni~~.:t (o;:e had been e.tter:.?tec. unsuccessfully on 13 Se?te::::;,oer). !,:o~'eovcl', t1:e civS-lie.l1 goverrr.ent 't-;,:b; ch G~ne!'al 1>.2a."'lh haC. ;ro:::-,isec. .for toe end of qc-:.o~er ....·a~ seen as t:.nli]:el;r to bring about e:ny real i:::::?~·over.1ent. vi'lin~













...,"'__ '<"j':;' ..u...:, .. to +\010 ~n +.-.-..,. f'o....... or'" acc... :....._.+il'lg a coalition governcarrt , was also seen as a: real possi1;ility. Citing "nuaeeous signs tha.t Viet Cong E.3e:1tS have played a rol~ in helping sustain tne level of civil clisorc:.er ••• in the cities, n intelligence reports esti!r.e.~~d. that it vas the Co=:unist -i ~tent.ion to seek victory through a "neutc..e.list coalition" ratl1er t!lC-.'1 by force of arms, Perha.ps straining ....... e"'t·t,·'......,. .....••• 4 "._..L..:... ".:""01 f'!.':"';h_.. YO'O'" to 0"'" ...,.. ...,) v.-4. _v"- ste... ",.:1 .. ,,-, tIm:."" ".1:..:" J:!\"i"._o, Leaders _ __ a "Hkno;:lec,se been in recent corrtact, 'tTith t~e Co:n::n.unists, 'but there has been ~t least one instance of informal ccntacf betveen a lesser governmental ofi'ici£.l a.11.d :i:l.e..."bers of.' th; lEE.• tI Y Anoth::r esti.rn.e.te portrayed the D'RV ar..d C:J.inese as l·egarding South Vietr..a.--r. as a "develo:?ine political vacuua," soon to be filled "11ith e. neutralist coalition govermnent do=J.nated. by pro':Co!l:L.unist elements." ~


w__ c.u +h"'e~'"



_ G'Tr: ,..:,>, c...... 4 ...' .. 'at 4 o o-r I;i,o.:'."'~

J. •


e, , " ._, ali


..1 ....





Reports of L11.creesing infiltre.tion began arriving in mid-October. A!.!basss.c1or 'I'aylor cablecl on the 14th that he had received. i..l'ldications of a "definite step-u:? in infiltration fro!'l. HOl'th Vietnam, particularly in the norther:l .provinces •••• 1t He '\-Tent on to report:


tlp.. re~ent a.l'lalysis sl:.gsests t~a.t if the present rate of -';n.p;1~'T''''''';0Y\ .---,,--,,- . • "s • ~~;n"''''~''',:,,~ = - \I_-"l~~, be oOP ...;.... 0"'::""'" """,'" _ \1___ . . \.-...... 0..<:0 .L '0 _ ,vvtJ.

the ••

~"'''''''<>'' --b~ 7'~ zure

C"_ ......



l~'h ~;ll .... o.~_

f.; \.i...L..:.':'c ..;,f·n~· ." raore and zcre "bona fide' !~orth VietnS-l":E::se sold.ie:!'s a"!.o;1g the infi.l:';re-es. I feel sure that ve ~ust soon adopt nell. _. and. d1,'astic ~ethoc.s to reduce er:.:' eventually end. such L"1:f'il-' tre.tio:l if ve ere ever to succeed 'in SoUt:1 Vietnam."Y . 'l:'. • .,.... .t'~ ""'.~~.=.....,.,..~,... .............:._..J. ·_e . . . .T.T'" . \;

"''''C fOiO,."L

A siY..:ilF:::' repcrt tras cabled. directly to the \'lhite House on 16 October. In it, A"T..bassador Taylor repeated his cc-....l~e!!ts on ini'iltl'ation and ac5:.-ised the P".:.'€:side:lt of the stead.ily l1or~enin,g situation i:lSouth Vi!=tn!::!l. The J..:::oassador re90rted the infiltration o~ nozthern-born . ... B..:."'1Q• re....aye· , d ul.!.\i t""f7'-" t'... ." . • ccnscz-apcs C.LCl.J.!:S nat t.....:!ey i;~re cemng in orge.nJ.sea unrts , He poi~ted. out that '(;-ith the ac.Ye-:-~t of the dxy season, the proble!: ~;ould. assune even greater me.bllituie and urged that it be given ~...... -.: "'...... So....:..", 5I .u.;_ec,_........ L,:.. .:.; u_on. LJ

The TaJlor est.i:-:.ates of ena-~'ear infiltration totals ~robably r:ere q,uite ale.~;:;:ing. If accurate the~' iniica:tea. that t!le ra.te had rise:i shar~J.:r c.Ul"ing Ses:tez:>er and. e~:'dy Octo'b€:!': The total numbar of infil~rces for lS64 as or 1 S~pt~::ber tras t::en estil~:ated. as 4,700. §j Of" p~ticular concern, no dou'ut, i'Tas the a:;;pa!'E:nt ~,hasis on reinfo~c­ -t""". CC':""1,~i S'" -s-... .: .... s l"n th~ ,..=·,~t c'.., ands c::.:..\.i.. ~..,.:l ;n t~~ v_•• _.... ..._ •Tn"";-o.. _ ...... _ no...... .. _ he...n .. . ·'Pro-v·i.n~E::s of Sc~~h Vietna=t. These Y:e.~:li~ss came .ha!"d on tha heels of \:ic.es'Ol'ee.c, 'D!"ESS re:po!"ts of ba8.y 'l-ier:.::el'~.ed. G"T..; contl'ol in tx'ee 'OortioI:.s er- +h: "'!J ,,--- cc'·~··:"'-:""".. u_., • J.J . . . .;


... _ . _


"""" • • '"



A .-

__ \,A,


The JCS seized on theee :t.!'es~ re?o::-ts and resub."!litted their proposals for ta}~i.!lg :?rC!:l~t measur-es e,gainst I':o~'th Vietnan.. 0::.21 October, the~" argued.: "Application of the princi?le of isolating the guel'rilla force fro=. its reinforc0ment and SU?;o:-t and then to f'!"a~­ ~ent &one. defeat the forces has not been successful, in Vietnam ••••The ];l:::-inciple r.:ust be ~??lied by cc~rt.rol of the n;,tional boundarf.es or by elirn.; nating cr cutting off the source of supply and direction. r. '§j On the 27th they s1::.~ittec. a !i!s.jor :9!"oposC'.l for "strong military actions" to countez-acb the t:-en.d.s cited in the national intelligence estimates and 1.'"1 th~ Taylor cables. In language ide!lti.cal to that used in t~<ofO August nemorenda and at the Septe:T.be!" strategy meeting, they stated that such actions vere I're~uired noi: in order to prevent the colla?se of the U.S. :position in Southeast Asia." They t!1e...n :!'~coI!lmencled a ~rogrem of aetdcns to su,::;ort the follo~ling strategy: a. Depriving the Viet Cong of' out of country assistance by on the ••• DRV to t~e e}~ent necessary to cause the DRV" to cease supporf and direction of the, insurgency. a,plyin~ milit~y preSSUl~es

De!,~iving the VC of assistance 1dthin SVN by ·e,'\..pandirig the counte~insurgC:!lcJ ei'f'ort .-- !r.ilital':r, econcro,c , and politics 1 within






c. Continuing ~o seek a viable efi'eC'tive the b~oaQest possible consensus. d.

goverrnnen~in SVN

l.!aintaining a militaI"'J readdne ss posture 1."'1 Southeast Asia


(1) D~onstrates the U.S. ",ill' aad capability to escala.te the a.ction i f required.

Deters a major COI!rrl!1l."'1ist aggressdon in the area. •.~


The pTOg!'e.:!ll reco!:i:!.sno.ed by the JCS ';:1.cluc.ed a list of actions to be t"'ka.'1 l;ithin' Sou.th Victne.r:l and a s~:;·c:.rate list of actions outside. The C~isls hac. listeel thc:::l ii1 order of Lncr easdng intensity, and they req.uestecl autho:..'ity "to k;l~~=rt nov" tbe first six actions "~~thin the cOt:nt:::y and t~~e f'irst eig..lJ.t outside. Tbe latter- included air strikes by GV::iF~·:G~~E aircraft a;~i~st Co~~u."list LOC's in Laos and in the southern portion of' l~orth Vietna.""4. l2./ . In the cor-text of

t~e reI·oTt~d . . -. or:::~~1ir.S

situation ir. South _~'r' •• C:::n. a:;J.,J ~ "" ce A':",..... assr. .:.~" r;'la~'lo· .. h"'''~ e·--"".::.~",~·r1 ...,....,.., ... :.~ O~~Q·" J.·n-!t" at"Y'Co' o"·e... '""-"_ :1r,,;... _ _._""'_ .... ,.; 0 'v • t S J::' ..._'" lTc... _, .. .:..low_"" "'.J'~_ ,=.~nr ........ ::t....:. __ .-.::, ..._ _~"".~" ._.1iW _ . .J: .w u__... set of .....ress""""" r::;-,;:;.,..",':' ••, "be-"'c'l""'" " r.:·_...»onsf....' aut:10~itie3 to 1-:o:;.'k with in South ViE>t:la!,1," a copy of the JCS pa?er 'Was fc:':;~c~ed to hi.-r. for r~vi z:: and cc::=.~~t. T~~ OSD' s stated intention. ,·ras ~o constder t:he ~bass,,-e.c:::.-' s viE:"FS before d.:-:,"elo?ing a P:::"0:t0sal to J.'"to s: n... •• ""J' "11 prese~:" z-esacenc o!l.'1son.::::.::J

V-: o+'n"'''\"l _ _ "'

............ ,

_ •• 7."'" J .""'..., ..Q

w ....._ .... ~·O-O"':',


_ ..••·~s

J . . -"""-



c-. __...._.t'"-iV:'i~ "'''''''J.·ou'!

4"~.'" ~ _

.... _ _ ~-

"'"' __ •

-v co,..·",~;;r·-.L''''+'·J.·on

• .10

• "_...




- ••


l'1hile this proposal ..las still u...""1~e::.' consdderatdon (ll;ovei:loer fo~ces att;.c:~ed U.S. facilities at -the Bien rioa airha-se liith 81!,""j I::.or~~a~ fi~e. Fot:!' ft_":lc:'ican ser-... ice;::~::l "Tere killed, and five 'B~57 tactical bonb;~s were de str-oyed, and. n~jor d~age was inflicted on eight ot~~rs.

1964), Viet Cor.g


Ac1I:ti.nistI'a.:tion attention vIas focused j"""l'jlediately on the question of \-That the Un!ted states should do in response to the Bie.'1 Hoa prcvccation. It "'>ill be recalled that such an e-.rentuality had been discussed at the Se:;,Jte::lber strategy :n.eeting. The Presidential directive 'Which resulted fr-oQ it state6.: nile should be pl'e~5.!'ed to respond as appropriate ageinst the DRV in the event of any a.ttack on U.S. u..."lits or any . special D'B.V/VC action agair1&t SVN." 11/ As of the end of October (in e.ntici3>2.tion of resumed DE SOTO Patrols), eLenerrbs of our Pa.cific forces were :re~orted as "soised and ready" to execute ~e:prisals for any DRV attac~:s on our naval vessel,s , ThlAs, there ,·:e.s a. ~ather la.rge eA.-pecta."lcy E.on.g Ac1""ll."listration officials that the United Sta.tes "Would do something in retaliation.

A:9parently, tlie' decision. '..~as I:!a~.-= to do nothL"l::; -- at least not of a retaliato!'3~ nature. At a l·l.hi~e House I:l.eetir-g to d.iscuss :possi'tle courses: of action, on 1 NOV0:=:lOer " "concern . ..as expressed that ~ro~osed.. U.S~ retaliato~y punitive a~tions co~tld triggel~ ~or-th Vietn~eselCEICOM air Bnd ground r~ta.liatory acts. n Questions vere rtised about "increased - ..se:U!'ity !:easu..-es andprecautior.ary 1:07eS of U, S. air and. groUnd u.'lits to protect U.S. de~dents, ur..its and i!:.stallations age.i.."lst such ret::.liatio:l. 14/ Follo,,;n.ng the t:e(;til~s, a '~hite Rouse nevs release announced that th-;:Pl,'esident heel.ordel'ecl the destro~·ed. and. badly c.a:r.ageo. aircraft re?laced.. Ad1:linistration of'i'iciels statea. ;that "the !::crt.ar attack must . be vie1·:ed in th~ light of the Vietl'ls=.ese "l'r.r and of the . .:hole Southeast Asien situation•. If the United States is to ret!'.liai;e agadns't ~orth Viet='a!ll in the fUtu....-e, II they repcn-tecly .. said, "it must b~ £or broader reaSO:lS tha:l the strike against the 3ien Hoa base." ~~or€over, they cire~ e. cor.trast between this incident 8.:."":.d. the Tonr:in Gulf attacks ;:!1~e Ou:' destroySl's vere "on United States business." .'12J Source docments avail:..ble do not inc'iicll.te that a:ny further "decisions "Were ~ade on the 3i~n Roa ~atter.. A second ~e~ting to a.is~uss :possible U.S. actions "Was ttte!:.tatively scaedul.ed" for 21:ovE:nber, but the e.·. . ailable :n:ate::-ials ccntam no eyic.~r~ce that it vas h~ld. 161 Preside:lt Johnson schecluled to a:p~e~ in Houston t~::."'u af'te:l'noon, for his final :pl~e-electio!! a5.dr~ss, a.."":.e. it rr.aJ 'be tllat ~~e second ~":h:' te "-4__-.:."'_,",;,:, ';""t:" ..•• caa_ called 0.;'''' T.,~ event "r.o"'';-i "'; a.I, ....e-,: _'~'t·s i'-c-_ .. H. . . use ......."' ~ .: -0'" .t.·· c.-ao's le.l.A'" st~"-e~ ... ~.~ -o~ ... cr t"'e ....) - J:'" =:n~ ""I"" .. ';"oW """.:V J. • ..:. ! ... ~ -!l ···.:t~·.::" " .... --""'- ..·......... o Sc:..,.::., .... , ~~." "'h... ":o:'';cn "Ro~ base T•."..·j", a ...'·-c·· .:l-.:.,.,- 't .... !>+ tlc:~ ~" ...l.,,,a.~ been .L. -;-...:.:. .• ...:....:"-0....:..0 -"'- •• -'= o~ ,,:·t --1"''K A.;~ ~i ... 'l.,~ P'f.~1~~ .r.,,~ f'T .... ':-1 .,.. '-,.,• eo. e:c, 0 \,; a::: ••• .!..&. :;Ja.se) ~~ T.....'" "_•. __.:.-:n.4":':>, O~_lC.t.a. s-,=,o:., .._en .;., _0. Seigor. refused to c~ent or. ~~e~~er or not a~holesale ~ithclra\:al had ta!~ar.. place. 17/ One thins is ce:;otain; t!J.el'e vere no :'(;te.lia·~o::.·y strikes authorized tollo~in~ t~e ett~~~ on the U.S. b~:e~ base.



._e •.. -.;






...... -

















HO'\'jever, retaliEt.tory measures vere proposed. On 1 noveI!iber, the JCS suggested orally to Secretary !·:C::~ara that air stri:~es be aut~ori~ec. on key Cocmunist targ~ts in both Laos ana ~o~th Vietn~. Acco:-cling to the JCS ;>lan, those in Lacs ~:ould be hit \l:.thin 24-36 hours after e.:9:9roval., with. forces a~ead.y in place, and .these :.tt:..~~s would. clh~ert attention ~ the :pl'e9ara-t.io~ neccasary for the stl'0!l3er actions to fol1o~\. The litter '·lould. inclu:'e a B-52 night e.tte.~1: O:l Phuc Yen airfield (outside Ea.""loi), to be i'ollo',\'ed b:t a da~-m str:U:e ":Jy USA? a.."'ld Navy tactical aircraft agaL~st ot~er airfields and POL storage in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. 18/ . Anbassa.d.or Taylor ir""'ediately cabled a Sa.igon E:nbassy-l·!ACV for "retaliatory b~Gir.g ~ttack~ on sel~cted DRV targets by car..bineC!. U. S./VNA:P a.ir forces E.."'ld for a policy state:tent that we \-~ill a~t sij"!"1lexly in Hke cases in the future. n '}!Z/ In a later cable h~ made specific l"eference to n~he retaliato:::-y principle cord'irmed in NSf.2·I 314,11 st,ating tha.t if his initial recon:!llendation l:aS not accepted at least· a lesser alternative should be ad.opted.. Tpj,s he described· as reca~er.da~ion

"intensi~Jin5 34-A o})erations and il'l'itiatine air operations against selected ta.rgets as an inte:..~:Li:. subztit-u.te for more :positive measures ," 20/

On 4 Nove:lber, the JCS re?e<l.ted. in lTriting their recccnendataons of the J.st, e.a.C!.ing sene expla..'1.atory cc::-.::;::nt and ta~ing issue ...- lith ce~~t5.in _ aspects of the Taylor rectt::menclations. They e::plained th.at tliey considered the VC attack on Bien :noa airfield fI a delibera.te act of escalation and a change of the ground rules ur.5.e::- ':-rhich the VC have operated u~ to nov, It, They cautioned age.i."lst "l'niue .delay or res~raint11 in ma~dng a. response, Sil'lCe it ncould be rn.isinte!"?~'ete;i by our allies in Southeast , Asie, as .....e11. as bj- the D3V and CO~u=list Cbine" and "could encourage the eneI:1Y to conduct, Ct.dditional attE:.c!~s •••• " Referring to J!~bass<:.dor !raylor's recon;mendt.tion to anncunce a :policy of' reprisal bombing, the JOB denounced ~ 'ltit-for-tat" :policy as "unduly restrictive" and te."lding to "pass to the DRV substat"l.tial initic:ti-:es ~rith res:9~ct to the nature a.":d tiI:dng of further U. S•. actions. ~:'/ifll...;.~ey concluded: o



11Early U.S. military acta.on a:e.inst the DRV 1~ould lessen the possibility or misinte!'}:retaticn by the DRV B!lQ. Co:r~u.."1ist Chine. o~ U.S. dete:rmin~.tion and. lll-tent thus serve to deter further VC att!.cks such es that at Bien :iIoa. II·


In the 1:leantbe, the::-e had been created "Irl1at may have been the hi~~-le-~'el :;o::"icy d;.elibcl'a:tions :'ollo~line; the Bien lios. incident. P-"l inte!'e..sc~1cJ -ts.s:~ force, ::no\'n as the }iSC: lTorking Group, tad bJZ;1;'.m :""1 intsrJsi-:e s-:''.:.5.:,- o£' future U. S. courses of action. Reco~1~m.t!.ations fro!!l the JCS !T..i ct.aers "jere ~assed on to· that grOU? for incorporation in their ~:ol'lt. ~/ • .

onJ..::i concrete result fro:: the


?or::lation ot the lISC



'~he "I\SC l~o:-king Group on S"i::.i/SEAIJ held its first I:leeti."lg

0930 hours, 3 ~ovember, thus


the decision to



such a groull at sCt:letbe earlier -- :p~ob~b2.J· on 2 I~ove::::.ber or :;>erhaps even e.t the high-le'Vel ~eeting on 1 !:ovenber. Its C~6rtal' vaa to stu.1.y -"i1:~ed.i£:te1Y and intensi·"ely" the future courses of action and alterna, tives open to the United States in South-:;~.st Asie."ana·to re:.?ort as a.pproprie.te to e. lIPrincipals Group" of l'iSC meaber-s, In turn, this group of senior officials lIould then reccenend specific courses of action to t~e Pre~ider:.t. Initially, the 'forking group vas given appro:d.."t.ately one ,·reek to' ten de:ys to complete its "'jork. §! Actually, it develo~ed and recast its reports over a period of three weeks or more. Four a.gencies ~yere represented in the formal :membership of the group. The Depe.rtI:l.ent of State contingent included Assistant Secreta:ry Bundy (ChaL~an), ~ush!ll1. Green, ~iicha.el Forrestal (both of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs), ~.nd Robert Johnson (of the Policy Planning COu:lcil). Assista.'l'lt Secretary (ISA) },!c!!aug.,1.ton represented OSD. Vice Ad"";; l'a.l Llo;,rd !·:ustin ,las the JCS :i!'leIilbe!'. The eLl\. l-tas represent-ed by Harold Ford. Other staff members from these agencies assisted in 'Work on specif'ic to;pics. 24/ •


The ,{-lorking Group's efforts were a.:?:portioned among seven tasks, the initial in1,Jut for each being acco!lplisccQ. by a p;:.rticular ~51ber or sUbcosttee, as follo\lS: 25/ RESPO!$IBIL!TY~.

TOPIC Assesseerrt of the current situa.tion -

in South Viet:m:..n , including policy direct±o~ of ~terestea ~011ers.


Intelligence COI;lUi.n"'1ity

u.s. objectives end stakes in South Vietr..~.m and Souti:east Asia..

William Bundy

Broad. options (3) available to the United States.

Bundy and ISA

AlternE.tive f'O!'!lS of :;?OssH)le negotidion.

State/Policy Planning Council

Anel:,rs es of different options . vis-~.-,-is U.S. objectives and interests.

JCS to proIJOse specific actions; Policy Planning Council to exandne politicel inpacts of t~e m~st violent option first.

~cdi=..te actions in the period.

state/Far East B~c.au

prior to Ftesiuential decision on o?tions. l·:ost inputs uere made in the I'o!':: of either (1) cll'aft papers trea.ting fully a to:9ic intended for inclusio:=1 in the Werking Groupt s fin~l sultission or (2) nencranda co~~.=.e:::..t.il'!g on an initial O:s.~ peper end sU¢g.::sting alterations. :Because 0: t1:e uni que res:9Qns:..bilities and adviso:=-y processes of the JCS, t~eir ~~"'er a~::>a.rently chose to :n:.ake initial in]uts le.:!."gely throu.gh refe::,'ences to or excerpts from !'egular JCS docunents ; he also contributed to the red:rafting of the option analyses. '!:§/ The initial papers on each of the topics were circulated emong t:.tE: ~';orking Gl"OUP ::'E:I:loers, re'V'ie'~e:i. ili consultation 'tTith their pa:rer~t orS£...'1izatio'ns and Eodified. soae :9ositions pessed. through as many as tm."ee dra-f'ts before being subI:litted to the Principals.

3. \·rorki.."lg Group Assess::.ents of the utility of PressUl'es The liSe v1orl:ing Grou? approeched its "Tork ,nth the general assesseent th=:.t increased pressures agail'lst !iorth Vietnam \-lould be both use:ruJ. a...""ld necessary. Ho;:ever, this asses~~t embraced So 'uide range of considerations ster.,;.-rl.ng i'rC!:l the develcpi~s situation in So:uth Vietnen end a. vaiety of vie~oints concerning \-:hat kinds of pressures would ·be most· effective.


Sense of Vr~:en::~r. Ac the llorl:ing G~OU? began its deliberations, an a';1al'er.ess t;~;:.t anoth~r Bien Ro9. cou:!.C: occur at' aJ.'1Y tiJ:le was JjrCA'"rlnent in both the o:'ficial and the ?ub:"ic ~i.nCi.. The tenuous security .of U.S~ bases in Sout:. Yi-e~.r:2:.1 :h:.d. received ~:i~:~ :?t:blicit~r. 27/ 'lLol:e': over) th.~ nsus servaees vere re)o:oting the t1u'~at of ciyil protest "",,":in' st t.he cove....r·.. ent ,...... and +1,::> 'lev-"'l ...;,,·........ J.·'1.. ""0"" .-- ••Y'."'-,." S~··c-"'n <::.:L o ",· · ::;, ·, ""- o;.,~... "...... .:" J.•• C•.. -,~ ••sea. '" o~ .. c"''''''. - ... -lnfiltr~tion fro!:l t~e ;:o::.'th ~. . as being !>~lic13' d!'ed. 28/ These deve'Lopnenba lent e.n aided sense of ur£:cncy to the Gro·L:.?' s vozk, ~h; Chairr.lan of the Wo::.~~ing G~oup vas ~·=nsitive to thes€. devd.o;.ments e.ndto related "'tt 4tures ~·tni~ A~~~n·~·~~··o ~ 0.~ ~,.!:l:_. ~~~ -~~ i '; ~~d t'n....... ",. ~~o oL .. ~ ....... ·n· l.o _ ••-:.. .u~~~ l.o_ ... l.ol n. J: __ ) .no:~ -I:CL_ca..._ ....__ ;'nto'l~!r"'n"e ~-~"'''';'''"S .--,...'" he ve:...-'" 0':azreement th~J~"''''l'ltra':''~on "(;1_ c;.;.6t;:.;..Iw..&.v .. _ "0'" .:.• ... ..,.. 'C .. _ • • • c" Joe:.,", ......... IJ. c -, has in fact r,o~i.ted,II a,.'1i that the SaiGon ~ission . . 16.S "urgins that '\',e suz-rece this b~~ the end of t?lis i~(;ek or earl;)" next i'leek. tl He atz-essed thc..t "the Presic..ent is cleB~'ly· thinking in te::.'l!lS of In!::..Xi'l'!'i\.U!l use of a Gulf of' TorJki..."l ffeprisafj rationale ...... The nature of such a decision vas expected to be: Co.





- __





either for an €.ction that iloule;. s~o·.: touSrJlless e.nd. hold the line till . . ,re cen decide the big iss~e, or as a basis for starti~g ~ clear COUl'se of action unier •••broad options.

tl'e ~'W!·("\l;e~ .a .....,.. _ '"

J...""'.-:l':" \.1 ....-1.1

O""!"Il. ....:.

';'V\~o~~';on +0 _ _ .. _~ .... _ . "

st ..,nd u~

-~ .~\'\- i_ '"-.:.••..:.

c:~,,·t.,., _. V.:_·"",.,...~ ....;"•• ~..:-

"ps ',I;;.

bo~~~ ......... 0

to t'n"" ...·~S1. <>1>;,..,:1' tcdsv ·0 Dobryrrin") .. _ U:::S-:: (I!Se"''':'+O:''''~ .rio\"':' ..... -7 _ S l",lWoo._,-.:...I._.; '" a"lU i:'J.clic?:te~ the desi:~~:'ility of President JO~1!',scn signalling sO:J.athing s:t.':lil:=.r l'5.t~e:: 300:1 t!1::·o~:,;;:J. the I>1.:::>lic r.'~c.i~. '=~is l:2.S seen as particu1...... ;...,·,~o.... .,,,..,,,. ...cn~~ . . ., 11 - -1'· t l --_" - t.,"'.:. ,,-,-.tt,J "to count:..- ""'''-J 4... fr-a"'s _ _ c-.. _...." so""t"'Y\i _ _..._ 1'", 0;·... Y'.olJ.·.v.,:) pres~ably in ViC~'l of our not res?onding to t~e j3ien :roa attack. ?1/ T":""" '1'I ; \".(.. ...··,... ,;:.~1 u.......... CO.~u.-w.,;.._



\... ... _








• 3.~..J.J.



Chain.a..l'l Burld~:- ~~as c.~;a!'e also of the significance attached by some oJservers to the first U.S. actions aft~~ the ?resia~~ti~l election. As ,·:as pointed. out to :-d!.l, "all Vietne.=.-=se e.nc:. cthar inte!'€;st'.:~ oosel-V'e::s ll t..·o'~la.· ... WIIo

y",_ ne"l"T "-.J ....._ ~"""'~-;"'+ec.' .........wl.l s "'e "},a+ ... 0-...···,..; +.l-,e JobnsO:l AC!:linistr:ltio:n ,.;ill ass~~. II Fo::.' this ~esson, \Hllia:n. H. SuJJ.iVlm,


,.·,,·"'':-li~..,. c~"'ef"'i'" _ _ L.4.-!-..L,-i ":'0 U .c.;.v,,-.s..~"b






,;:,,,,,,-,,_ _

head of the in~erE'l.ge:lc:r Vietna.lJ CooI·dinatir..g CC~':"'Iittee (a!lQ. soon to be appointed the neir U.S. A":lb~.sse.e..or to Laos), urbed. "that our first action be ••• one '·il'1.lch gives tte a??ee"l'e.."1ce of a det;l'lll~ation to ta.1:e J.'isks if necessary to l'r.s.it"ltain our position in Southeast Asia." .An jrediate retaliation fa:!' e:.ny re.?:tition of t!J.e Bie.'1. Eoa attac2~ CL""2d a~n::d reconnaissa:l.ce missions i.'l the Laotian Panhandle ~'ieTe cited as specific examples. . He "rent on to recommend. to Mr. Bu.."lC1y: III f ee 1 t'l E t : .lt ·:lS



.. ~ ••• "(,ns.u


t ralJ1.on ~. . go on record fairly soon .'Placing our J?olicy in Viet Nam 't'ri thin the larger perspective of oux policies in the ~'lestern Pacific) especiall;,~ as

-+ J..o.""t3'0~·l.oan

A -"_.: • .l".Wl.Un~s

they involve confrontation ...: ith Communist China. t1 ~

A sense of urgency for the ';~orking Group's efforts 'H::'.S also derived fro~n assessoents of' the trends lri thb South Vietna.:m. For example,. the intellige.."loe pene1 COIn:90sed of CIA, DIA, an~ State/INR members Sa\1


little prospect for an effective GVN despite en acltrlo~fledged slmnng of "E;.d-.,erse :politice.:!. trends." In their vit;~; t~~ ;olitical s:.tu~tion 'las Itextre:te~- frq~ile) n 'dth the S::dbon ad.'T.inistration "pln.gued by con-. fusion, apa-tn.:,- ar~5. ;.oor !:l.orelell and the nev le~,d.el'ship hampared by the old.er factio:!!::.li ')!!I.. The securd,t:l 5ituation in the countryside was _ aasessed as ha-,-ing continued to c.eteriore.te, with "V:'et Cong control s~eading over areas he:-etofore controlled b~r the government n Alth~ush indicating r.better than event! chances that the C1V"!'! could "hang - on -for the near future end th'J.s afford a platform. upon \:hich••• Lt2.7 prQsecute the r.ex and ette.'!l:;>t to turn the 'tid~, t! the panel, painted a grim picture of its prospect.s, ~ This assessnenf vas pro::>ably instrm.ental in ?rO!:~ting Assiste.nt Secret:'.!":! !.!d;augI1ton I s c?,yptic observatdon th~t "Progr-ess inside 5V1: is in::9orta.'!t, but it is unl i l:ely des:pite our best iclec:s an:::' efforts. n Besides) he ccserved, if it cane at ~.ll it '\'foul". ta..'-\:e "at least severa'L nozrthc, II In his vim'f, the efforts of the Uorking Groll2?, could in some measure compensate for this s lov prog:-ess inside South Vietnam: •• 0


"Action against l:orth Vietne.m is to scce extent a substitute for strengthening the govemaent in South Vietne:m. _That is, a less c.ctive VC (on orders i'rC:::l n:w) can be handled by a less efficient (lim (which ve expect to-i.lave)." ~ ,,-.~r n;..,,,, - u_... ",'1'':'' to "h~ ch If<:>ct~ on b • ~T"; • ....,._·s o~ .:. u:. ...... C,.S ""!'\-l-i ... ; ' ;J,.n 1..1.'/. .1. ....:._ c•.: tJ ••• .L. J...L against I:Ol'th V:'e~n::.:{ !.:iGht a:'fect, tc~t r~::tic:: I S sUj:::,ort of t~e conflicts in Sout~l Vietn::r3 e.r~c: L:'.os vas a ne.tte2' 0:1. ;.:~ich meraber-s of the l':orl;:ing, G=:-cup did not fully agre e , The intelliS2=:ce r:~cl nenoez-s tended to,-rerd a pessilllstic view. They :pointed. out t::=.t "t.he basic ele.7:.e~ts of CCZ'.:.'.:.."1ist st~el:gth i1;l Sou.th Vietr:.~ :'O;::I.:?i:1 in"ligenous) II ......d ...,,,.. . "even .;.;" sc.'re.... ""'y c.~,..,..,.!:T.::.,-lt tho:> co··~c.· c~r1' .;nue "'0 s,,·.. ""o...._ t o_a _.I.""" j"':'~. ... , t.-.:... \.; .... .... ""'_ u the insurrection at a less~neQ level. Therafo~~, th~y stressed that the U. S. ability to cc~~el a halt to the DRV su::??ort depended on eroding Ha.'1oi· s l:ill ana. persuad.i.l1.ci t~e DRV: -.~


_ _ IJ



..... i:


.... _

t...~. 0..1_"..)






that the :9::ice of- mountdng the insu.:·rection in the South at a high level ~:oula be too gre£:.t :;""16. ti1:::.t it .-muld be preferable to re.iuce its aiel••• and d.irect e.t least a temporary reduction of V C activit~.. 0



As the :ps.nel ~~l:l"oers Sa'l..i it) this respite "ITould then provide an opportu.'1it::,. to stabilize a."1d improve the GVU. But, in their words , "Even so, lasting success "\·:ould depend upon a substantial mp::oveoent in the energy end ef'f'ectiV'eness of the RVH governaent a..nd pacification machan-

er-/o II 33/ H01-1ever, the intelligence panel did not concede very strong chances for brea1:ing the . . .I ill of Hanoi. The~t t~ou;ht i t quite lil:ely that the D~Y '-:3.S lrilling to suffer daE.!'.ge tli.'"l th',: course of a test of

,vills "lith the United Stc:.tes ever the course of events in South Vietnam." To suPP.ort this ViC:-T, they cited Hanoi t s belief that international

pressure would develop against deliberate U.S. expans.ion of the vrar. Further, that given present trend.s in South Viet:~5.l:., both Hanoi and Peking had -good reason to expect success ,:ithout h:;..ying to ini~iate actions c~rying the risk of th~ kL"'!d of var ~Thic!1 ~muld expose then r to "the great weight or super ior u.s.•reaponry ," The panel, also V'iewed Ha.YJ.oi as esti::ne:ting that the U. S. 'Will to r:aintain resistance.in South"- 'east Asi~. could in t:U!!e be eroded. -- t4~t the recent U.S. election llould provide the Johnson Admi.n1 stration 'dth "greater policy flei".ibility" then it preYiously felt it had. 'jy , .:

This vie~y was challenged by the WorKing Grou:?'s JCS member as being too "negative." In.terpreting the panel's nO!l-s:;Jecific referen.ce to "policy flexibility" ill an extr-eme sense, he '~-rote: "If this means that Hanoi thin.'ll:.s ve are nmr in llosition to accept ,:orld-t'lic.e hutiliation with 'Tes~~t to our formerly stated objectives in Vietnam, this is anothe~ reason'~hy it is desirable tha.t ve ta.~e ec:ly measures to disabuse their thinking. II 14:oreover, he lndicated tlle JCS viev that the slightly improved hopes for goverr.ment stability (ac~mo·~:lec1ged by the pa."l.el) vez-e good. reason ,..by uea:::-ly and ~ositii,Te actdons tr should be te1t~n. ~bis 'point 'Was reinforced by his jl1a.~ent that (in c'):ltre..st 1,;ith its :i:.:.pact on es;:.~it and po2itical effectiveness) the cr-ft:' s tlyl'inci?~l tas~ is to affo:,,"d t:1e platform upon which the RVr~ a!'~ed forces, "rit~ u. S. asstst ence, p:!"csecute the '\-rar. n W -e,

In critici~ of t~e intelligence ~~~elfs €~?hasis on the need to influence DRV will, AC7': ral !.I).lStin incUcE.teo. t~at en~:.y capabilities zepz-esent.ed a more appropr:'e.te tarbet. He st~tecl the JCS asaassmerrt th::.t:

Ita. The a.ctual U.S. re~uireID.e!lt ~dth z-espect to the DRV is reduction of the rat~ of c.elivery of SU?:1crt to the VC, to levels belo,~ their tiniE'W'1i necessary susts5'l'ling level••• lib. In ,the p~'esent u."lstable situation so:uethine; far less than total destruction ~ay be all that is required to aCCQ8plish the above, A very ncdesf change in tlle GOyel'l'l.:cent' s ffivg favor•••!lay be enough to t'tu'n th~ tide and lead to a successful solution. Of course it is not possible to predict in advance •••tha precise leve2 of measures ~hich'Will be retluired to achieve the above. This is the reason for designjng a p:t.'ogram. or progressively Increasing squeeze." One of'the factors encouragdng JCS optimism, he pointeCi. o:u,t,was the .assessnent accepted by the panel that both Ha.l'loi and Peking t'1anted to avoid" direct conflict 'tdt~ the Unit·~ci. st!:.tes. This -.;ou.ld act as a de- ' terrent to COrtl!!:.u-l'list persistence, pcu"ticularly if by a program of'

. 9

!I!.ilite..!'y :p:.~essul'es ve ~-:cre able to revise their assessment that they could "Win "'"ith,J~t :mu~h risk of haYing to feel the . .: eight of U.S. response •." 36/ .Apparent~·

as a, result of these criticis.-r.8 and their influence on other \?orking Gran:;> mem'":)ers, the G).·OU!l' s fi:~a.l assess,~ent ~f DRV . - 'Sl.lScsptibility to rllitary !J::esst;,::;'es vas sa:c.c';:hat ~o~ifiee.. 'W~le continuing' to empaasdze that af'i'ectil:g Ha.l1oi' s "rill ''las i.!::.~orte.nt, the criticali~y of it ;·;as obscured by eoncessi.ons to the possible ill:pact of de!f.a.ge to DRV capabilities and by gre..:.ter reliance on _conditional pm:-asing. For exau~le:




lIthe nature of the ;';al' i.."l Vietn:.:m is such that U.S. ability to cccpaL the DR-V to end or reduce the VC il'lSt-u:-rection rests essentially upon the effect of the U.S. sa-~ctions on the will of DRY leadershi:9 to sustain and enlarge that insurrection, end to a lesser e:...'te.."lt upon the e:'fect of sanctions on the ca.;;abilities of the DRV to do so. n Although giving explicit recognitic!l to "a rising rate of infiltrat:,c:l, It e..'lQ. .cor~ti~'J.ir"g t·o aclmoi·:ledge litits to U.S. abilities to prevent....the DRV! s ~e.t~::.'ial support for t~e VC, the essessnent statee:. that "u. S.inflicted c.estruct:.~ in l;orth Vietna= and Laos '\'!ould r-educe these su,pOl'ting ir~c!'e'~e:lts and dane s~ D:"!/,..~;:' ::.ora,13.n It qualified this stc.te.1'lent, hcrever , by ~inting out th::.t th~ degree tQ ,:,:J.ic!l such damase ":ould :;l!'oYiei.e the G"ii~ ..; ith a b!'~c.t:"!·~r.S s;ell ~\'culd cle;c~~ l~'gely on '~Th",""';,,,,,,,, •••__ w_ ...._ --.J ~".'T D!('T ... 1

su.....""'O"+ of' .r-~:> w. .""" 'fTC \: vez-e ,, __ If su....""·,. .t·n"'.. . ,z' ...... - _ ic.;a' _ . . or n';-'i"'~"1-~o ""'_..'" oc~·"':'w:~es .....

'rc_-' -,...,' .rc_1_ ' of'_

,H-e_ ""' \".;,,_. .:I~""e~"'':c'" . . . ""_ ... "1""~ _ .....


...., ...




0'1' S ".."'''''''f ;_ c,:_ .,l ... _ '-},ole .1... 1 . . JI rE:o-.red o~ly the more visible evicls::i.ces of the DRV iLcrer.:e!lt," the repo~:t ccntdnued, nit 'Would. pro",)abl;-; not 'be ?ossible to davelop a via".Jle end fiee governnerrt in Sout~ Vi~tn~.l1 37/ ;!~


-.J ""


' ..



In gene!"al, the final assesszent of DEil susceptibility to pressures vas less discouraging t~E.n the intelligence pan-el' s initial sub:1ission, althou~ it could not 0; cc:.nsidered "Oe.rtict:l~.rly encoUl'e.;ing either. The refer~ce to U.S. "Folic~r fleil'bility, II to v.hich the JCS took such violent objection, vas re=.cvec., and the follcming non-co:r.titting st:'.t~ent was used. insteai: "lianoi 1 s i:"'L-:.~d.iate esti!!.;:.te is probably that the passing of the U.S. election gives rrashin6ton t!1'a C??ol'tunity to ta.~e ne"1 milita::.'~· actions against the DRY end/or nev clipl~5.tic initiati-.res. 1I If ne1'l military pressures \..e~e ap})lied, the re:port indica.ted that Ea.Yloi' s leaders i,,"ould be faced "I\-ith a. basic g,ues"~ion: Ills the U.S. detel'!llined. to continue 'escalating its pressures to achieve its announced objectives . . . 01' is the U.S.. escalation esse.ctia.1ly a Hmited attem:;t to ir.1prove the U.S. negotiatng position?1t It contdnuede "Their decision ••• v10uld be affected by the U.S. !llilitary postu.::'e in' the area, 'by the extent and nature of the U.S. escalation, the character of t'!l~ U.S. coo.m.u.l'lication of its intentions, and their reading of domestic U.S. and international reactions to the inaug1U'ation of U.S. attac..'ts on the North." • 10

~he report made no atten.~t to pl'edict ho", the DRV Jr.ight '-:.ns\~er the "basic question" £iven alternative assessnerrbs or the va:'iables in the quoted ~aragraph. H01';ever, it did or."ier the caveat that "comprehension of the "

other's intentions ~ould ~L~ost certainly be di~~cult on bct~ sides,' and especially so as the scale of hostilities raounted;" ~ In assessing Ra."loi's ability_ and \'?illingness to sustain U.S. atta.cl".s In oI""J.er to pursue its goals, the report continued its ba.lanced but- slightly :gessiJY'istic approach: .. 1~'1ehave many :ind.ications the:i:o the Hanod leadership is a.cutely· a..'l'ld nervously a:';·l2..:.'e of' the extent to lrmch I~orth Vietnsn's transportation s:,'st·;::l and industrial plan is "'illnel'able to e.ttack.O!l the other hand, I~ol'th Vietnam's economy is (j{e~lhebrl.n3lj a[7iculture all<t, to a large e..':tent, decentralizecl ••••Intel'c.i:::-='ion of imporCsa..Yld exaenstve destruction of,tr~s~ort~tioL facilities and industrial pl~"lts would cripple DRV indust~y. These actions would also seriously restrict DRV I!lilit~7 ca:;J;.oilities, and \·;ould degrcde, though to a lesser eA"tent" lianoi' s ca;a.'bilities to sup;art guerrilla lTarfare in South Vietn~1:'i. and Laos •• ~ .Tle do not believe that attacks on L"ldustrial te:g~ts \fOu.ld so greatly exacerbatie cu:'rent econ~c di~ficultie~ as to creat ur~a~as;able control problems •••• DRV leaders ••• ".iO-.D.c:. pl.'o1::aoly be uilling to suffer sene deJ!age to the CC1,;.;.'lt:::,~r in the cour-se or Os. tF:st of ~iills "t;ith the U. S. ever th; CO'L1.rS·; of events L'l South Vietn~."


The essessment concll1:'e:. 'l\ith esti.::.ates of likely Chines\.: CQtlIllUt'list e,...·1(1 So-viet· efforts to offset !ll'C3su:"es clirectecl to",.,"ard t:orth VietnaIl. The \'!orking G::OU? recorc~e( its belie:' "that. close coolJeratioD exists betsreen E:Ll'loi end Pei3linS and. °1:;hat Hanoi consults Peiping on major decisions regs.l'e.ing south Viet.:lom." Because the YC insurrection sel'Ved "Peipin~' s interests i."l underzdrdng tIle U.S. position in Asia" . and because of tlre Sino-Say-iet dis;u::'e, the group thought it likely the.t the Chinese '~OtllC! JJf'eel cO!:~Dellet. to demons'~rate their readiness, to support" Hanoi in maintaining pressure on South Vietna:ll. Ho~...ever, it was noted that "Chinese CocUo."list cauabilities to aucnent DRVoffensive and defensive capabilities ere sligl1t, II being J.i.l!I.ited largely to modest qual'ltit~es ot air d.efens-; e:r;:::d.;:':';"'lt, additional jet :fighters and naval patrol craft. On the other h~d., the- groU"..9 believed "l:Iosco:{' s role in Vietnam is likely to remain eo relatively minor one." IC.l'lrushchev's successors vere believed U!l;;illing to z-un s~bste.!rGial risks to undermine the GV1I. Citil:g Hanoi's desh'e for continu.i!lg Soviet milita..7 and economic aid, the report stated an ironic' jucl~ent concerning the lessmilitant of the large Co=u.."list powers: ability to influsnce decisions in Hanoi tends consequently to be propo:!,:tional to the I~orth Vietnwese regilne 's fears of American action against it, rising in "MOSCOT';' S


Doments of crisis t.nc. d~inishine in quieter periods. Moscow's willingness to e;i,-e o....ert bacl:i.~g to Hanoi, hO~levcr) seems to be in dnverse -::-o'Oo:-tio!l to the level of threat to I~orth Viet- , nam. tJ .4oj (Und.crllnin8 adc.ed)

4. Perceptions

a."ld. Develo~~cnt of U.S. hessU!'e Options

The KSC ~7orking GrouJj began its deliberations with a variety ot U.S. actions in oi."ld and 'lith an ~.P?arentlj- fle~dble a?proach to tue objectives that the Ac",:~jnistration Illight reesonably seek to achieve. J..s idaas lrere exchanged and debe.ted., hovever-, objectives became some-.-1hat less f'le:dble and options seeaed to nc:.rro~·!. Such a precess could have resulted from either: (1) preccnceptaons on the part of' particularly influential m~oers; (2) a bUl'e~u~~atic tendency to con~romise; or (3) Silr.:P~l the linited a'\"ailabi1it:r of pre.ctical alternatives. A combination of these factors r:.~y even h~'Ve been at ,,;o:d~ in the case: of the tlorking Gl'oup. An assessnent of t~is natt:.::... e is be~·o=:.d the scope of' this pri:tlal"ily doc'Cl1.el1t~'y research effort. Still, the question is an mportent. one to reflect on in tracing the clavelo~ent of "jO!":~i.'"l3 Group reecemendations. a. Perce?;l'tion of U.S. Objectives ~~d. Ir.:tel"ests. National objec~lves in Soutte~st Asi~ ~~~e rcg~'~~Q L~ t~o cateso~ies: existing (so~eti=:es ca.lled "initial") policy obj ectives a~d. those com!Jrisi ng a ~ossible falloack position. The fo~cr did notch~ga and aid not undez-gc e.ny reinter:.?;;,·et::;.t::o~ c:.'t't:.'ir:.S t~e ccurse of -ella ~'7ol'kine Group's st1.:.Cly.; ~hese vere seen as (1) "hcl?in3 a gov ;;::.·r.:::;:{~ [Or South Viatl1E:f2,7 defend its ind.e?e.."ldence, If and (2) II l : o;;.'1..ing to p::.'eserite [in en international neutralized settle=lcnt. II Th:::ee basfc "factors l1 ,rere recogni:.ea. as Usta."ld.ing behi.r:d.t: these polic:; objectives:


"a, The gener e.L yrir.ciple of helpin3 cO'l;."ltl'ies that trY' to defend their ovn fl'cec.o=. ag::::.inst cc::-~":.~ist_;$ub;-ersion end attack.

The specific consequences of ccmsu.1'list control of South Viet-I~::.::l and LEi.os for the security of:) successively, Cambodia., Thail;;.r.c. (r.lost s.::ric1ls1y), !·:;-.ls.:rsie., a."lcl the Philippines -- and resulting increases 1."l the threat to , India and -- more in the realm of morale effects in the short term -- the threat to [Other na~ionsin Asii!. lib.

South Viet-!i<llll, end to a lesser extent, Laos, as test' cases of cc~st "sars of national libc::-ation.u '\lorld-'uide. tJ W lie.

Cu:rren:t U.S. objectives in South VietnEla and Laos ,.,ere· seen as an integr-al pa.rt of the "overall policy of resistinG Comm.wlist expensdon '\'lorld-uide, II and particul&:"ly a part of the "polic] of resisting tr~e exp:msion of Com:nunist China and. its allies) North Viet-!~m and North


Korea. n Thus) f~r South Vietnam to any form, It was seen as


under Cor::lunist control, "in

Ita ~jor bler... to om" basic policies. U. S. ~restige is heavily c~tted to the maintenance of a non-Cacm~~ist South Viet-!ia:!.) and only less hea.vily so to a neutralized Laos. II _'~:.


Unlike the curre.."lt objectives, those CO:lJ:~ls,-ng a fall-back position dealt only '\~ith SOilth Vietna;n. r'!Ql~eOYer, they were IJlodified during the course of' the \forking Group's efforts. The l'!lodii'ica.tions occurred in the . .:ay the objectives were presented -- in the context of the pl4escntation -- rather tha."'l in their specific phrasing. The 'Words remained the sene throughout: To hold the situation together as long as possible so that we have time to strengtben other areas of Asia. "1.

"2. To ta.~e forcdful enough measures in the situation .so that we emerge i'rO!l it, even in the i-~orst case, . .d th our standing as the principal helper against COI2:'lUo."1i st expansion as little :iJ:lpaired as possible. nations in Asia pa::'4t i cul arly, that failU!'c in South Viet-r·:s.!.:l, if it cones; ~:&,s due to special. loc~l factors t~at ~o not apply to ctn2~ n~tions ._."'. ~~' .. ca··'''mj·+e~ '::e-l".,.,-1 ';'n s~o"'"'" "I and r.. w.., ""'- ·0 '" .. c __""- - - ·h.,..1......""'."',.. ...\, _ oJ, 0···.. •..,~., .L..L ... c.. u. e,l;ility to help those nations c.efend th~se17;:;s is not i.."!lpaired." ':2/ .

"3. To I:l~e


c;..j,. "'"

cle~ ••• to




At first, these fall-back objectiYes for South VictnaJ!l vere ::;>resented as possible alternatives -- to be considered. in. ccnjuactdcn 'With a. reessessaent of the costs and r:'sl:s associated ",dth cUl'r.;ntly ackn01'jledged objectives. Follo..~ing its =ecognitioIl of the extent to ii;ll.ch U.S. prestige had been cc:a:dtted" evan the second draft (8 NoveI!lber) stated: "Yet •••ve cannot guarantee to maintain a r.on-CoI!IIilWlist South Viet-17e!ll ShOl"t of c~ittine ourselves to 'tl!lateYer degree of rdlitary action '\-mula. be required to G.efeat 110rth Viet-lIam and p!'obably COllllI1unist China militarily. SUch a co~ttlent 1·:0ulC. involve high risks of a Itlajor conflict in Asia, ,\-r!lic;1 couJ..Ci. not be confined to air ".no. naval action but lmuld am.ost inevitably involve a Korea..'l-scale ground action and possibly even the use of nuclear ":eapons at some point. It . • Despite all this, J.'t ,\.;'as ecl~oI'Tledged" South Vietna.~ "lnight still ccne aJ;lart," leaving the United States deeply corr~itted. but \iith much of its initial just~ficatiol'l disintegrated. "Hence" II the evaluation continued, • -..1 -.)-.',

" •••'We I:lust consider :-ealistic~lJ.y ,-[hat our ove:,-:::.ll objectives and stakes £:.re, and just ";hat d.e~ee of risk E.nc'!. loss '\le should be prepared to ::r.a1.e to hold South Vietnc.."n, or alternatively, to gain tiA"'e and secure our furthel' lines of' derense in the world and specifi::a.1ly in Asia." W Significa.'lt, in sheddins lig~t"~ on ,the subtle changes the.t cccunred in this rationa.le cluring the ensuing tm-ee or i'0l.:r ueelts, vas its treament of t~e thil"d fall-bae}: objective. Observing that "mc~t of the '1'Tor1d had w-ritten off ll both South Vie"'~!lsn and Laos in 1954, an early cira...~ aclmoi:ledged that neither hed. acqufred the international standing tif such ·for,.;!~ t~gsts of.' COI:!!:'U..··list agg:.'ession as Greece, Iran and South Korea.. It l':ent 0:1 to :poir.. t out several, histOl'ical eharaete::.'istics of South Vietne=l and. Laos that made th€!lIl such unfque cases, incluc,ing: (1) " a bad colonial heritq~et: and inacleq1.'tate ~re:paration for se1!-govermnent; (2) a "colo~ialist ,ler fought in half-bcl:ed fashio:l and. lost!:; and (3) "a n~tiol1:.1ist movemerrt ta1:en over by C'T.'!'J':'Il'!1lists ruling in the other haJ-i' of en eth..'"licdly and. histo~'ical1y U!lited cOu'''ltry•••• 11 It then added: "The basic point, of' ccurse, is th!:.t ve have never thout;ht ve could defend. 0. governnenf or a ~eo?le that ha.d ceased to cere st!:'o!lgly abo;.l.t c.ei'andir:3 th~:selvas, or th!:.t ..··e.,.o> to .... ..,,-j..,+ .. ;l"l .... h T...·~ ..... ,:;<'·~Q- .,l.. 0"" :-o··~~r:.,..."'n .. ,. _ c: unable w.:.J. • ... ...,__•• c::: _ _........ ."'. , t' . . lel . . . . ' . ., ~"lQ. ne over;';.!leJ~:lnb 1; or l!'::9:"~ ssaon J.S ....=1a"t t nese are lacking eletlents i=:. Sout:1. Viet-!;o•••• fI \I


~.'..L __ ...' -_





the co~entary notei th~t there vas ~ieles?!:'eed eA~ectancJ the:.t if South Vietne:a '·;ere lost it would. be due to its lack of' these ele=ents .!:2./



to circulation of' t!le initi!:'.l dl'aft of the tlo~jectives 2..'l'ld national interestll Sect~on, a m.~ber of critical or releted co:!=:.ents· ~lel'e directed to;\'ard Group Chai::;.:a...1'l Bundy. On 4 !;o"'l~J'!l~er, Michael Forrestal suggested t~~t "an inpOl'ta."lt fle-vor l1 vas lacking in the original ana1~tsis -- ne..'lleJ.y, "the role of China" and her need for "ideological successes abroad. II In his vie"'1, given Chinese :;:oliey, "the effect of our '1.;ithclra,·ral from a. situation in ~·:hich the people 11"e were trying to help seened unable to help themselves" "rould be ~:ore politically pervasdve in Asia than if China. did. not e..'tist. He thought the U.S. object should. be to "ccntam" Chinese political and lcleological influe.'lce "for the longest possible period," ·thus providing tir.le to create "at the very ~eas'~, Titoist regmes on the peril)hery of China•••• " 46/ On 6 llovenbex', William. Sulliv~ elso urged. p1e.cing U.S. po1i('y in Viet-li3Ill in the "larger perspectivell of the political cOZL."'rontatior1 'With COll'!mUIlist China. In an attached, lonser 6j:position of policy rationE'.le for the ~~estern Pacific, he presented CO:lcs?tions of the U.S. pro:>ler. Ciuite similar to those edvocated by Forrestal. The politicnl :fUture of t~e peoples of East Asia'l-ras portrE:.Yed as de?encling largely on a struggle bet'l'1een Weshington

';:'1.: Pe::ing. Chinese "OOlitica.l e.nd ic.eological &~eress1,venus'\1CU3 viewed ~:.:;, Co t~re.:.t to t~ea1;)llity oftl1~se paop~es to determine t~~;';~,·.: .,,', , i'uti::!'es, ~.n:1 hence to develo~ a~ons "':eys co:':".??:tible '~ith.U.,$i.',.~~~;~~:-;~~ T:·":.'~' U.S. co;:,ai t!;1a~rt to defeat !;orth Vietna:lese <~L:ressio:n.a e.j-~~ ,,~~~.~h~ .. L': of "direct "'.ilitar"J confrontation" '~ith CC'iL'"~:~m'1ist .. China.,.w·e.s.: ~•.. _ .... -..."'7e6. as :9art of the ~onse~..te':~ lJOlic~' of eS~··~":.I!.ishin3 c9nrl~~;to~s ' . . ':'l:l.cn ":)er·r.-:it the inde'i)encl~"lt natic~s ot·the'rei;icn to develop t~e c.bility :~'1~: co;ficience "to co;ewith ,the ~e::-ging' tmd. e~:"':l<,.nding'D~I.e:r-·;·Pf China. II-=:J./ ~'_l-=S~ ca:·--r·~nts r:.a.y !laVe influenced the:t ?art of the 8 liO~~bar'lY~rsion . ....,.:. ch ..,.""·..:;:. '·e,:; to c·.".;"........·t US· o-:'-J' "'r'!+ ~ .,:.... ::''' ·L·'''-l···~· or the' b'r'o"d'er .-'ol';cy II" of "r e sisti.vl3 t~e e.~ans1on of Co::rl.u..'li~t C2.i.l~Q. and its allies ..... II ' ........ 01.






:.J_ .... -.J






of not falling back the "?orld lt the ma.tters of !1;tio!l:?l prestie;e, ereclibility, and. ~o::or.:1 Furthel·, that U.S·,::-etention v_ fa. le",~~c.,.e'~;; _ _ _ ..,.... _;:1 ":.; _._ ,_ .'. "'1,c"'ec:s.po.·' .=. '-i.i..... '"l'r' .u= io"'E S1:::~ ~A.;.oe' -"'....... "",II __ -,;-_.·u' .,..o;:~ de-P'ense II ..... ~:,)·,t~ Vietr~a.Y:l egaL'"ls-:; t!1e 1'~al'S of ns:tio:T:?l li·:;2:;-'.:..iorl strategy. AC13:iral ~:·.lstin criticized. tbe Bu."lQy draft f~;' o·w·ers'te.tillG l'-tile degree of diff'i::··L:..ty assoo::iateo. ~dt:1 success for cur objc.:::tives in SlJj,~. 11 He asserted: ~~"ber alsostr~ssea



.~'~l.'l cu:,'re!:.t policy air.s.. He st~ted that "In t~1e eyes ot 'J:1it~a. st~tes ves c~tted to its i:1itie.l o~jec·tives "as ..


....... ..



_ _ 'W

"Our arst .:,.-.;.Jo....;· - v o~ _ .. L},,,,, v ... _ su···.-





t·..,~ DR'l to te!'l!1ina:te ... . ; "'S . . . . '7'n .,,..h"L .....".•-'" y"'" thi .__ s o'\o,J·ec.J.~'\'pe 'J r......docs -0'"l.I ~:....ces~e,.~·"T ... ecui - ... ~:::.:. "";:. 'c. ... f''''.,.""",,l.I_. ... i:o"'{~\.. ...." , I \".;. ......... .. o....L 'Tl.·e~_~r \Ii '" .....'"-... a..-:c. i~ 2.1:.lo~t certe.inl:,. dOGS 2~Ot ~ec:u:.2'e tbit ..ce 6.~:'eat Corr.::ur.is~ Ch-ina. Hence, our CO~·.!'li.tl:-;n7, ':;'J 5'.':; does not i.'rlyolye .•· _-'s'··· e \ooi~',;, .......... ·~..,·~4~.;~y ""J·o..,. c~'·f",t,.+. .... _ ........v , .'1"'· ~lo:-e •.L I·..U· -.,) • .:),,;:), 1 0 ..... .J. a. ..... _ ........ .. v .I.t;;





~.~ .._-.

_ .....




is to cause

~.".:"l'-1"l '-_~ ~\4-Qc






_ __





in Southeast Asia."

He ch~ac~erized the cira"..Pt 's e.."'l'X"ession of concern over ris!~s' !.."ld costs <lS ::':1 ini'erence "as t~ugl1 the h~c:.er 'He "tr~f the Il'j)re 1..e s";and to l'isk -':1r: to los~. 0:1 the contrary, he statec., the .nbest p.ope for ~~iJ:lizing ::is:':s, costs, and losses in. achiGving oU!' objectives ll could beai;ta:....'1ed i:.:.1')ilSh " a :,·e.solute CO\lrse of ?oction." ,1:-8/ ,.. ' .



Ann; ral

:·:l.:Stin wo

att!.c~:ed t~'le i::~'Olice.tion th~t



,,:"):"..e alte~!lative to our holding South Viet-!;cz. There 'is none, "he -=~;~tec., adding: 1~le have no 'further i'all...back position in Southeast Asia ' ..... ~.l-'" ~+.o:.~""r: v;c::~· Toint 0:> S"'~.pf' ,,·ciT'..-cl':."~r _\,pI' oi"the _ .\1 . . C:""e':>s .... _ vc...._. II S.... ::'.....-...-11' he i~~,"'ned ....... that to e.ttempt to. strengthen other, e:ree.s of Asie, "in the conte~-:t of our .~nYing been pushed out ot SV1f, \lou1dbe ~' thoroY$hJj~~:~~~1ve"effort :'11.::=" t3.l'ily..... II }·:Oreove:: J chare.cte1"1:ing' the drlif't I'S eOnc~'8·S~0l1S~·to the '.l."li<:.ua difficulties :in La~s and Sot..'th· Vietn;n a.s "soUr gra~s,)t he a.z;t~.c}:ed its assi;:"Jtions that "10 could convince other r.e.tions·j;bet·, failure in South vietne.m vas due to' striatJ,y local factors ..' .:HE(:w~ed that other nations wuld regard U1y s'l:.ch e..~lanation on oil!" ~6t;..:as ." ".::~pletely trans,arent;" Concerning tIDy of em{ li11.1to.. defend its;lf, he cat::Qented~ "A resolute Un-it,-:ld St2t~S \rould ensure-;}.·tliat :this lac~ vere cur~, as the alterna.tive to. acc-a!iting the loss." '!'he JCS me:::l';)erpo::.'trayed a. U.S. f~lure in South Viet!lE'J!:. as an "abject htlmiliation, II '!

•__. l ' l J ........

w ....\OoioJ .......


. 15



sh~ing the feith End resolve .,.,~~.;O"'\S •••...0 r-:~r C!~W I,,'W.;:~ - ~ -ror ".;0... ........ ~.... ..:... C-j 0'" .... ~h~ "'.... Un~ ...."'od. "'_ .... _ """'U J.

be c.isastrous in

of the nonroo-"'"~ c:t h"'l.... ..., .:..._u.w... _ ... _u e.--a.lons'" U "" CO!:Cll.Ulist aSZl't:ssion. In that event, he saw ::..ttle possibility fDr ef'fectiv-e. U. S. r-eessurences.



The j;;pact ·-ti!"··th~~~:··c...~ticiS!Ils can be seen in the Working Group I s final as sesEW.ent of U.S.' interests i!'~ Southea.st Asia. In explaining the need to cO:lsider e. fs.ll-b3.·::1: position, the stete:::lent stressed t:~e need ~erely tn assess "t~e <i.rc.i';~E.cl:s" associated viith it. L~t~i..."!g to this jU!lSl!len'~ '·re:-e aC:':rlssion3 that "there is some chance tb.~t So....t h Viet:l5:!l night come a:;>e.:rt ~~~~r us whatever course of action ";e :pursue" and "strong milite.r:r ac~:"on necessarily inyolves some ris::s or an enlarged and even conceivably :rec.jor conflict in Asia. ,. Then follo~~ed the statement: "~hese pI'Oble~ i'o~'ce us to lie:'ght in.

our al"la1ysis the e~·s.';·:'bac1:s a:r.d. :!,osEibiliti,:s of success of vardous options, .includ;ng tha d:!"a~(o~c~:s of e.cce;?t:'..ng on::.l the fall-back objectives s~t, .I:Ol':th beloi? (UnC:.~rlir.i!;g f;.a.a.ed) •.j;........


.l.:issing vas the earlier d.!'e.ft' s rsferer_ce to :;:otential costs a."'ld ris.lts involved in p~su.ing current objectives. Eissing also ,·ras my sugaestion that t~e Ar1-l'; r.i&t~.. ation night f'i:.a scz;e ad';a,..,tage in seel:ing an alte~'native to these objectives. 50/

The Working G:;'oup "rent on to aese ss , in terms al.'"::ost iienticel to thc,':;e in tm initial draft, the lil:eJ.:o consequence of CC~U!lis.t· controt of Sou.th Vietnea for c.if'f'erE:nt ~·iol"ld. e.:::.;~s of inte!'est to t~e United. Stc:tes. T:le grou:.9 sa~·r m:?o::'t5.!lt d:i,sti:::~tions bet'-:een the ~,ely impact on U. S. interests in Asia end t;-~ose ir. the :;o!'lCl. at large. For the latter, the ~ost Si,91ific9Ilt ,"~iab:'e vas seen as the degl'ee to which &~verse develo~ents in Southeast Asia ~ght proiuce ~o~estic pUblic revulsion against all U. S. c011'mt~.snts ovecseese "Within l:ATO (e}:ce?t for Greece and ':::ur:~cJ to scee degree), the loss of South Vietn~'"!l. proba".Jly ,,:oul(~ not So.1.ike tbe :tait~ and resolve to face the tzeat or CO:!nU:."l::'st a.~""!"ession or confida"1ce in us ro= !l!ajor hel:;>. This is so provided l-i'e carried. out e:n"J' I!lilita!";T actacas in Southeast Asia 1dtLiout ta~dng rorces :f'r~ NATO a.."lcl vithout gener!ltinG E. "t:ave of "isolat.ionis!n.'' in the U.S. In other areas of the ,,~orld, either the . nature of the Corr'l'lll.t'\ist threat Ol' th~ ~eg~oee of U.S. cor::mitment or both e.!"e so !'adically different th~ In Soutbeest Asia that it is t:iff"icult to assess t:J.~ ;"',e.c~. The q"uestion 1';ould be vhether th~ U.S. vas in fact able·to [;0 on with its present policies. tl


For Asia, other then as follo"j3:


Asia, the \'lor:::ing Gro\1!l's assessment went





.. ~.\.:-~ ..

"The effects in Asi". generally l'lould depend heavily on the Ci!·ce'.St~:1C·~S in . . :!1ich South Vietn~:::l ~·:c.s lost and on vhether the loss did in :f'act gzoeatly veasen or lead to t.he early loss of other areas in Southeest Asda , l~at~onal China. ••• , 8'1u':h Korea, and the Phili!)?ine~ v:ould need inaxir..l.UlD. z-eas surance , li:Jile Ja.!Jan I s fai t!1 in our military postureanc. a.~te~"lllin:'.tion =UC:'lt not be shaken, the grovmg f'eeling the.t Co~unist Cr.ina must sonehov be lived llith might 'Hell be accentuated; India en~l Ira."'l. 20Ipear to be the Asia..'rl proble=: cases outside JGhe .Par gast. AU. S. defeat could lead to serious re~ercussions in these countries. There is a g!'eat deal tre could. still do to reassure these countries, cut the picture of a defense li~e clei?rly breached could have serious e:'fccts and could. e~siJ.:,~, over t:i:me, tend to unrave), the whole Pacific and South Asian defense structures. It 2:E.i

The consecuences for Southea.st Asin. of Co~unist control in South Vie-cnc:.'i1 vere seen es highl~~ dii'f'erentiatec. and by no nesns automatic. The "domino t:J.eor·ylf was vie::ed. as "oyer-si1'.lplified." T:1e . WOl':;:ing Groll:;? re It t!1at it :niZht e.P?ly II if, but o:lly if', CO::::!lunist China ••• entered Southeast Asia in force aTJ.d/or the United states "Tas "'1' • " .. ·1".... ..t:'... II soucn ~e't!![-.::l, an ciz-cirns cnces 0: ni a lJa:r:~T uez eat , f orce d oun' OJ.oro'" T,Te"'''''''+.h'''les'' +,,'" ~"'tl"" •.:.• "", "almost ~':':~t:,'::'1"'te"" n L"'08 V ;::' J.,'c.. _,,;; __ ... '!.,~+ - ·,'o"'d ".-....r-, " .. ~ . .... ..:t • n... . . .. \.. b econe e:r""rcn~.:.j' narc ",0 .:10.:..0. an... Ca.1':J.:)O:t~e.. :·:O~Q. O~ oencang sc..c-:!:pJ:y to the CO::!:l1.u'1ist side. II ~llf;se dcY~lo~:~r.:cs vere seen as p1acil:g gre~t pressure on Thai1e..:::' ana. enco·U.!'a.cin::;·.I!~c.o~.esie. to increase its I:res.::ure on !·lal2oysia. Tha.n and, it ':Tas noted., hac:. 11an historic tend.ency to malte I':'\eac"" =- S';.-........ .:;.:. "'h~'" C''''e''''''s to be ·.d 'I1"'11'''''~ .. ,r~'; ., IS "r- ""e""d"~ J:J ..... I ,"; +~~ ......, \"I-...w ..,..... u .... _ "-Cl) It end I.~-' .'':J._-J w .... (;.. J lI serious 1·:;,).a~·-C:1in~se pl'oJlE:.-: vas cited. The Ko::'::inS Group conc'luded: j

" ' t : V ..... & . " , , _





"'l •

'II_V __



't. __ ~ ..

_ _... _-~..t-..;;, '






l'Vle could do t'lo:::e in Thailane:. ana. ,dth the British in U20laysia to reinfor~e the d.~fense of these countries, the i.."litial shock 1-:ave ~:ould. be great ••• " This asseesaerrt i'[E.S quite close to that made in the 8 November drai't in which BurlC.y had bO:le on to point oirb that even if' l1e succeeded in overCOIning the shock vave in Thailand and Ma1a~Tsie., tithe struggle ":ould be up11ill for a lO!lg ti1:.e to ccce , 'I Bu.t in nei tl:=~· case vas much credence placed in the do!.1ino theory. 53/ It should. 'be noted that Admiral !,~ustir. and the JCS did not agree with this assesseent , The Acbirel ccemented th~t the JCS believed the so-called dOl'Jino theor~r "to be the most realistic est:i1ne.te for Camboa.~.a and Thailand, probably Burme, possibly 1~n1s.ysia.n In the cont.ext of la.te 1964, these nations trez-e expected to colla:?se "plainly and simply as the corollary to our ,oiithdra;\·1al. 11 54/ Accord.ingly, a specific notation of the differing vie,;po; nt o'Z the JCS vas placed in the "lorking Group I s final re:JOrt.



In s~arizing its ass~S~Lent of the consequences of Communist co:.trol in South Viet!l~~ t~a l'1ol'l;:ir.G Grou.:;> stat~d:


t1There are enou~h I if's I in the above a..~a.lysis so that ca~~ot be concluded that the loss of South Vietn~ wculd soon have' the totally crip;lL~g effect in Southeast Asia. a~d Asia genarally that the loss of Be:d:'n "'::~ould have in Euro?e; but it could be that bad, driving us to the prog:::';ssi'l,-e Loss of other areas 01· to taking a. stand at sece :po~nt [So thay t~ere woulCl almost certai~~ be a ~ajor conflict 'and perhaps the great risk of nuc~ear ~ar. n 56/

. 0.. E'lrolution of O;ptions. The alternative courses of action perceived by tlle liorking Grcu? :~. . e nt th2'O'l.'&!1 a fairly rapid evolution. , As conceived 'by Chairma.l'l Bunc:.y and Job..'1 !.:cl~al.:.ehton, '·:ho a:;:p~'ently collaboratad in their initial fo!'.m'!lJ.atio~:, the o"::lt:'ons vould offer e. ,dc1~ range of Idlitary actions ana. diplO!!.atic postures. As the vie't"s of othe~ ~~~o~!'s and interested of~icials we~e expressed, and as it bec~e no~c a;~are~t how little flexibility was p~~ceived ~ith res;ect to natior.al objectives, subtle changes occurr-ed, The effect '\\'as to narrow sOL:e\'~hat t~3 I'ange of: effects ,,-h:'ch the c.iffsZ'ent options night achieve ana. to tend to blur the distinctior.s bet-;:een the!l. However, the process cccurred so early in the life of the l'!o::"king Group that it is diffict:.lt to pin-point the caenges and so":'-::;:J.;.t p=esu::;tuous, relying onl~T on docu::::entary evia.en,ci:) to e:-:plail'l the~ • .~ The perceived options vere t~·;:·: in Dcbe:::', 1ab;1~d A, B, e.."ld C. Option A essentially 'las a contdzuatdon of :dlita::.·y a..~c. naval actions ctu."~·en~ly u."lderv.ay 01· ;previously authord.zed , to i.."lclu,5.e prO;-r.;:t reprisals fo:!' atte.c~s on U.S. facilities 01· ot~er VC I!s:;:6~tacula::.·s" in South Victnu. These were to be accczpani.ed by cont:'r:.ued. resista..~ce to a neeotiateci settler:ent unless string2nt preconditions, a::.::li;Ll1ting to .agreement, to abide by U.S. interpratations of t~e G;=.eva Accords, ,·:ere t:.et. O,tion B consisted of c~·l·ent :poli~ies phiS a syste::~tic pl'ograr. of p1'ogl'essively heavy :!ti1itary pressures against r;orth Yietn6l!l, to ~e cor..tinued until current objectives i~~re n:.et. Kegot:'ations vere to be resisted, es in "A, It althoulh to be entered ultimately, but they ".e~e to be carried. on. in CO!lju.."l~tion with continued bcr:bing atta~;:s. Ol)tion C c~bined current policies 'dth (1) additional -- but sc::.Si\~at lnilder -milita:-y ~ressuxes against l'iOl·th Viet!leE nne. (2) a de~lared willingness to ne;gotiate. Once negotiations vere begun, ths military pressures '\'re:-e to stop, although the threat to resuce vas to be kept alive.

In a general, sense, these dist:.nctio!'.s re!!.einec. ccnstant, throughout the l'Tor1cing Group I s effoz-t. Ho·:rever, subtle chenges occurred. 'bhe initial conception of tiE, n it lias perceiyea. as "!l:.eshh'g at same point w5.th negotiations," based on an U!la.e~lying asso.ption that negotiations wot:.ld. probably be U:l'lavoidable. 57/ Th~ f'ull e..'1alysis of this earliest form. of "Bu (cliscussed ICore fully late:!') makes it clea!' that scree kind ~f:,,::mtern.ational discussions .,;-ould ~robably b~gin fairly early and con:: ~ -tinue' as the intensity of ~ur military pre.ssUres mounted. r;§j l-!oreover,



it is

ev:!.c'!.er.d~ the:;:; 'these pressures \lould be E!.:;lplied clelibe:r.atel~· to li'Cl"cit :ua+J.' 0" of' r-:. "'''.L-''' .."" y \;w, ....;. ~..,~.; 0 J..... 111)11 ... "co .; 1"'l_ 1::... "" w S ....... '" e.. . ch -:+0.., tJ"'r. v_ .... _ nJ.·..·;., \I_c;..1 .pO'"""" .. ev tended to e.~brace high intensity o}jtions -- in Mcl:aughton 1 s tel"i"..inolozy) a "full equeese, tI It 'Will be recallei f:'0!:1 the discussions ear:\.:!.erin the fall, that t'1is te!'Ill was a,plied to b!'ac1.ua·~ed'op~l"ations i:!h~t incluc.ed -lIti~ing harbors, bOOlbing bridges c.n<i Lee tarGe'~s and eventually atta~::inc; inclust:i.es. 22/ As O:Ption B develo~ed~ ho'::-ev'er~ it became associated. l:ith lJrolonge~ resista.:."lce to e. negotiated set·~ler.ent. 60/ l·~oreover, alth::lugh the intensity of the military o~e:rati.ms it. e!.",braced re~airled about the same, they vere perceived as being applied 'at a faster, less flexible !-~ace. For ezam?le, in a cccment about this option on 14 l\!o.vember) AdJ!!i.ral l~ustin 'aote: n ..... '_








WI"""". .


"•••lrhile the Joint Chiefs of Stai'i" offer the ca.pabilitY' for pursuing Option irE" as det'in<:d) they neve not ezp1icitly recQ:."llended that t:he operations be conducted on a basis necessarily that. infle}:ible. All ';T~ple'lentins plans •••would permit Su.spe.":!sion uhenever ciesir€d b~r national a.uthority." §]j

Perceptions of Option C beceee more lLlte lIB. It Initially, the . additional 'Oressures in "C n "'ere ccncezved es "aCi.di t i onal forcef'ul measures Qd. i:ulit~'y. J:O-..es ," ~ They inciuc.:t:. such opere-tions as extensio::. of the cur~€nt~ed escort of reconnaiss~~ce ~lishts in Laos to full-fle63~d. amed route reconnaissance -- graiu;.ll:r le5.t;,i~3 to si!2.ila.r a~taclcs aga:"''lst infiltration routes in the southern bor.:ler regio:ls of: Horth V:"etne.m. ~he .;,.;~·+."r." v ...__



0';);'';0;..''');' _ w_ .... -\.,; _......,

~r';""';·~e,.1 '" v -..\01. """" ~

.po.... c.-"7;.,...·... ~~~ ~' ...e"',:l',. _ _ ......., ••'-'_ . _ ..........;0.., "'_ •• cJ.J> +;'e ""'__ -"--t/ P''''Tl'-'Co':: _... w..:........ _ ...... """..i..ool.

fo: ercsa-bczder groU!Id o;e!'ations in Laos


possi'bly in C~'":cod5a•. 'By

8 NO.....et1ber, hO:':ever, the pressure pOl·tion o-r this option vas pz!'ceive~ as (1)incl11ni ng eventUal attacks against othar-th~-ir.filtrat:ontargets in

l'!orth Vietna.!1 and. (2) giving lithe :i!:?!'~ssion of' a steadj- deliberate e'liproach~n the :p!'.ceof' 'Which could be q,ui.ckened if necessary, l.:oreover, in thi5 ~ater cleve~ent of "c," the U.S. negotiating position woulc. be to insist froZil the o1rliset on full accept.ence of' the current U.S. objecti'les. Initially this position 't,ould incorporate cert!l.in aclditiona.l ba.rga.;ning elements that could dro:f) out in the course o~ discussion. §/ - . This Eodifieation of the pressure and negotiation aspects of "C" led other menbers of the tforking G:::,ou.p to e=:press reservatdons , RObe:t't Johnson stated that this "proposed st~ff'cr verston" ~las little dif'f'e!'ent fl·om "B~" He argued that the only real dif'fe1'ences nos 'Were (1) a decle.red. vliilin;;ness to negotiate e.:ld (2) our lLTwillingness under "C", 'to ca:rry the action. throug.l} to its ultiJ'!ls.te conclusions. II He cautioned 'that the neY? ver~ion i:as unlikely to proG.uce the hoped for advantages of' tl pure ell and tha+. it could convince the CO!:C.u:l5.sts that our negotiatory spirit lFas Ilot sincere. 64/ Enclosed 1rith his oomments vere the vie\lS of the CIA member, !~bo alSo believed there \-lould be confusion between irE" ~d the nee "e" -- p&-ticularly as observed bj' the DRY. Other reservations 't·rere·.expressed by Assistant Se~l'etary ~.!c1~aughton, "lho lll'ged that 'the proposed pace of the new "c" be slo;·l'ed. do.,;n. This ''1ould be accooplished by dividing the a.dditional pressure operations into distinct phases, ,.n.th



only the al'1lled reconnaissance in Le.os as pert of the first phase, The OSD repre:lentr,.tivG also urg-:lQ. not yielc.ins to pl'essu:res to ya.rtici}}ate in a Gsnsva conrcrence until ef'ter' seve:rs,l ~ili te.ry actions had been' oe>' ··""... a~"~r.~.J. rc.servatdcns s..... +-·..:; c;.w ~ ....ove , o"'''';r u-_........ -1-"'"" D·'On r.v. 65/ . O+' - all t~e __ ...... ·w_.. , w_"";;:..... .4*-.J t .....__.. the las'~ (delayine Geneva pe.l·ticipation) '\ias r-ei'lected in SUbsequent descri,tions of Optionee Even O'Otion A'fas llltered to sorr.ee:dent. The !nain emphasis for IIA" CO:lt:'ntled t~ be the currently adoptee:. ,olicies.. At some tnrae prio:to 8 r;OVe!nJi;;r (~..hen the final e.na~?sis vas :ee.fted») interest vas shovn 1..'1'1 an ue:-:te~ded. A." This version l'et<:.ined. the policy o~ resisting negotiation.s -in hope :'~hat the situation i-;ould i!:l~rove) but it incor:;>orated 10'..: -level pressure actions akin to the early stages af flC." The t;y:pe and intensity of the actions Il.~:ould vary in direct propo~tion to our success in co::.vincing the \~o!'ld and our 0...."11 pUblic of t~e truth about . Ea..'1oi IS Si1?:9o:-t) direction end contro:!. of the VC. II It trl.3ht begin ~'7it~ ~">!n~c. z-eccnneds saece in Laos) include gre~ter naval activity along t!~e coast, and grac.u.~.lly phase into strikes a~e.inst ICC targets in I{orlh Vietnm. In te!""~s oflllilitary actions alone, e:-:tended "A" reseebled. closely the initial vel'sion of lie. II Ho\:e-..rer, it ",as concedec, that even en ex.tentled. .Option A did not ofi'el~ a. ve~:y p~ising means fo!:' !!loving . to..~ard negotiations. 66/ 1rI

'-" .... -


V11".y did. these changes take plE.ce?

The £ova-Hable docrrserrbary


do not r~s.t:e t,his entirely c.Lear , One factor ;~hicb. !J.ay have influer.ccc1 tha· !4Odifics.tio:ls in e.ll thre£: of the options .:as recognitio!l ~·o""'1"'''''l c4' ..O....j>1oiC"·;!l0' CT-" ..."' ", "J .... _ .,;...L__ y-- (.) sl·!"0 • a'~ +" r.•..;. cc"'''; "'es·,'1-1- ~.,. ....., '7""'....J:' rJ.·sa..... actions. If rep1.·isals vere desiDlea "to be forceful and ,pu.."litive and inter,,~e:! to :Il£.tch the seriousness of YC ?:-o\-ocations) they I"..ight be so sbrong as to interfere llith the nessegea to H~moi ~'lhich it vas origin;:.lly' i.."ltenc.eci \Jould b~ conve~red by the grach..s.ted pressures; Indeed., it vas pointscl out that operations o;.. cle:~s al.!'es.c.~" clevelo?ed by CJ1~CPAC for retaJ.:.e.t:'ons i:1 response to a-ttacks O~ DE SOTO :Patrols (shoule. they be resu;~etL) 1·rere "of r.agnitu.d.e ,,:~ich "\foula. net 'be ~01itica11:l' viable" e>:cept under ~:tre~ely serious p?ovocations. 6"'/ . ~ioreover ) it iras teered that i!:lp~c?;rl;y- orc!lestrated ~·epl'isals mightcreate undue interne-tional pressures for ~eeotia.tions that could upset the negotiating strategy appl,opria.te for the selected option. 68/ . ~_










Both 'IA" and nB" may have been altered as a result ot' changes made in' lie. II The objections' raised to the new "c" may have encouraged Chairma.."l Bundy to incluc.e an e:-:tended "A" that vas close:" in t..~e military sense to his and 1.~cIlaughton's original concept of graduated pressures. l~oreoe.".er) it ~ad been ,oint'ed out that t!le sane negotiating situetions seen as e.ppropria.te for "Ctl (to include discussions of Laos e:nd/or Cambodia as nell es South Vietnem) could USO a~p~' to eventual negotiations arrived at through "A. II 69/ Besides) with the stiffening of the ftC" nego~"iating fOl~ula, the dIStinctions be~'leen the respective barga-ining positions for flAil and "Cn had. beco=le some"\.,hat blurred. Option B' s •

fr-.st':;::.' pace in its later ver sdons m.::..y have been an s.tte::.pt to r..G.ke a clear distinction b~t";leen it and the nev "e. 11 Use of the te:::n _ oj, _ ..."''"lo::.: '::. . . _ ,=,' _ ' in _. r"~er::.nc::l . . . . . . . . t; to O.:-.... +.ion B 'O~!"''1'''' -0""'1.1. concurrent.Iy _ __ __ .a._.._ " "-,,,,·,s,:-.'r"'l "T_ith de:scriptions of the stiffer v-ersion of' Option C. 70/ ~




In ae.c.ition, it is possible that the emphas Is 0:1 a f~st-?::.c0:l "B," ".-it!! its har sher measures, vas motivG.tec.. in pa:.'t b~l a desiTe to I:ak,e t~is opt Len ur.s.tt!"active to higher G.t:tho!"it7l. This r:,.ay exp.laf,n the rathe::- per?le:·:e5. to:lS of the previously cit-=o. l·:ustin CO!:::l:::r-t ccnpar-Lng the JCS and '·7or}:i::.e Group a?:?!'oaches. Other ·than the:: JCS :::er.."::>eT, rcost of the "lOl'}:ix:g GTe',:} :..embers appear to have favoi.,'ed less intensive pressures the..."! those being advocated by the Inlitary.. Des,? ite a sense of hiSh st~':.es in Southeast Asia, '~hic~ vcs shared by sevez-e.L menbez-s and other interest,=i officials, mr:.ny of t:1E:Se persons die. not v7ant the Unite¢. Stt?t?s to pl'U.l'lge ahead irit!1 c.eeply ccrmi.trtdng actdons as ::'ong as there vas soise doubt about t21e GV!~ J S d:~ability and CO!:!:'l.itr!1-:"'1.t. 71/ ~ot inco~?atible with the foregointi ars~ent is a possible addition=.l e:=?lar.ation fo!" ':~he stiffen.ing c:? Option C. As lJ. S. obj ectives CS1::e to be vie",-:ed so:neo;·;hat less' :l~.:ibly) it is pos~ible that 'dordna.."'lt elel!!.e~ts 2l'l the Wo!"l:ing G!"ou,? tr.::nlZ11't it ~.c.visE:.ble to E,a.};::e _'-'.I. _1. __ <;: "- is Ii ....,;;; _ ... "'h~':" "'_ c.... O"' ,:-u_. "ell i ...... o a tou~"'''''''' '"'os;.... Lon rpn~r<> ' .. cuestdci s ; .;Oil e was the n~tural ~eir of the conc~pt o~ g~a~u~ted Fressures ccupled vith a ne30tiated settl~~~t 2dvo~a~~d at seve~~l ~oi~~s e~·lie~ in the, year. Se",:-e:ral of t:-.;.€ 1~cr~:i:.~z. Groui") I.;5::C~el"s h!..Ci :'3~~"l instr\1::':.c:'ltc..l irl shs.:;>ing those p::'·o:9ozal~ a~a. vere quite n:.tur.~~ll;:,· ~t.~.;:'~~2E:C: to th:;:;. .:oncc~tu2:.11J. ~ ... es o~ ~he C'Y'~ -u~"'er1 e~¥\"~~ ~""~ c: conr e.. . -_1'.!..L;,. ( _, ) _ lJ.:... co-c::.C ~I.I .... _..:'~.LiJ_ ...._ :;; .::: _ ·~• .:.r ont 1,0;;:'-1, ..... "'__ • 1''I· 0"·"" c; .:avo...,;;.1.0 g!'e~:te!" press\1!":s V,-on the JCS ana thei~ li!:e-t:1ir.kers in th;; Congress; (2) reco~itio~ of little flexibility ~o~3 A~~i~istratio~ o~rici~ls C'~ "c." ':'·:'0 ~ r: """ J.!·r..:-,Q,""'';'''\...... o.J:'.I. _::.." na~l.·o-a~J. -in-"""·"'=s':" -or':; o"".:o . ' - ' - - : - Q.,I...(:.+-~·ons _lJ ........ L . •• II c:.___ .. J ..:...;-,.~('.'. _ .. _.. , and (3) re0-an increasinGly critical situation in South Vietn5!l. It is li."":ely that th~t t~ese in~iyi~uals viewea it neccss~~y to stif~en tceir prefe~red a]proach in or~er to ~prove its ca~?atibil~tywit~the CUl'rent policy clinate. ;,;,\0

.,:.;_:. ..._ : : :




Whatever the reasons, the options :ror ::-evie'f and discussions 'Were sOIlel;h~t zore closely alike than the orip;inal conceptions had. 'been. O?tio:l A p::.'o-...i:'i?;~ fo~ intensified. efforts to ~~'p::"ove the situ.ation in. South VietnSlll and for someo:;·:hat intensifie5. mill t~y actions in line vlith current policy. Inside Soutb Vietnam. it p::-ovided fol' improvements in the m:; e.d.l:ci.nistrative perfo:."Oance ana. "for stl·e.~sthaning dif'fe~"ent elements of the pacification p~'o~am. These L"lternal actions \:ere stressed as necessar;y- regardless of whatever other !:.aasures were decided on. Option A's provi;;ions f'or measures outside the COuntl'y incluCied.: (J.) cO:ltir.uing ana L'1creasing the G'Vli's cO'Tert l:i~itiJne harassment progZ'a!D.; (2)resU!ting tb.e DE 800'.0 Patrol ope:rationsj (3) increasing the scope of' Laoti~'1. T-28 attacks on 11".f'iltration te.rgets in Laos end. (4) v;'hen feasible) undertaJdng small-scale cross-border GV£i ground and air operations irlto


the Laotian



The o'otion also inclu::ecl individu.al U.S. rcnrisal cn..... lv ~..,.~~-~t S1'''':;' i..,C.;a."""" as ...:",..:..;._ ~•.,. G',l"'" o.rt JTlo~'-';~"''''~::'~-s _'-..: ""'"..... _J.':' a. J.. ...- :....;..;.. c..w tlt.o.....:.. but also ~:~:~st ~y rec~r~nce of VC Is?ect~cul~sl such as 3~en Eoi.~ Tl;e ail:. 0:: the:8 ac",;:'ons 'tvou..:6. be to c.,::tc::' repetitions of Cl::i to pU!'lish for such e.ctio:.:s in S01:.th Viet!l~, "but not to a. degree that vould .. -.0 _.u ';"''''<'l''~''''''l.·o'r.~: v _... -ne~oti"t.;Y'I"" 0 ..:..l-c ,:;:_ T\"':''''<,''''es ....... w""""'""" • II C.. . "'·TO st~·ol"~ .,"'·'01"\'" ""'..... u':' ....~

"_ .......~ .:.':'U











Bas ic +·0 O-'+;c'" .n.It p"s its ,",... .'to,... _ ...,.... o~r';~';o,., ~O'" "contanued ·...,.~e.,..t';on -c.: _""'" _. 0'''' _ '!"Io O':'~~"'iO""'; .L..;O"'Ill"0ve. tr F.T,..-.--r.,. i+ •.cg 1,1.1.-:::'1.1_._ _ n "'he. ... ~"" :-0-'" _" .;,;'_ .;."'~ ....<:::.1.1... th::>v Sol..:-t·\ ..._1.1_ _• ·';11' ,,_ mp_ .:.u ... ;~e_, ...... l .;V\nl'. . . -. :-:..:: .h:~..&.l,o "t.., ·..L.s~'7' ';'l"\,14,·:r1." u. ~t">l SOt.. .:.~ ,T;O~ "'~~c.e. ... ,.\,..' :.:\. ·P·"':.~O.-r:.;~~O¥l. \; .......__ __ e G l'1'.T J.t.. __ , ·o~ _ .....""-'-. _v ....,," . . .r-~e-~,i ';'l'd+·~~+e' lid; SC"SS-.L·C:--- ,,·"th ;'''''!'lO; .... \. __ ""'-'- :..... O"'~ _.J...... .;O·'Sn m'; ~h';' ... 1'_ ...__ ... l' n ""O...·r-- +·: -.L-"r ::' or t:;,e Li~cl'at:"o::'l ?~on.t. It If eo coalition ~o7err~a'1t ...er-e t~u.s cu."l"a~gad) the iJor~:i..:.g G::.·oup beliei.-ed, the odds trez-e that it 110uld eventually IIbe ta::.:en ore: O~" tb.::; CO!::lt1..'1ist elsent." In "t,;,~~ event of such c.J.s:::t'l.SSiO~1S) the U.S. res:;:c~se 'Ul~::'e!" O?tio:l A mg~t be either (1) "stand aside, n thus disassociati~"; the 1i:'l~ted. st~tes fro:-:. such a sattl~3!lt) 0:: (2) "sees to cove!' a !'~t~aat bJ e~cepting n~gotiaticns" through so~ething li-~e ~ G~~eya conf'ez-ence, ,:..,~ ch right bu;;r e.ci.ditio::s.l tiJ:e. ~_..,




'1..1. .... _ . . .




Ir",: _


















.... Iii:)


O?tiO:l :a :prO-ii-ceO. for everyt11ins i.."'lcluded in "All plus a progren of U.S. ni::!..its.:-:;- pressures ::.gainst No::.-th 7:'dn~-r.l. These -;.;"e::e to ccn-

"at..... c;... ." -r.,i.... _""'4 _ l-11' ... E;..... J..a. nace and T;J.·t"rlou+'. J.·.... t:>.,..~t::otiOYl" "!'l+.i' v_.... t:ne.. . D'Ji _,,'IT e.g-.c€ci to stc;, st:~?~::.'ting an~ c.irect'; 11S t;:,~ ":.~:.r in South Viet!l!?-"'n. and Laos , Tic ,:'s£ sures vere to b~Si..~ ~'Tit~ attac~~s on in:'ilt·rE:.tion t~eets and. in.cr~·: s e ~~ irJ.t~z:sit~r; hO":':~-ler, t~e o:;-::"=·n i!!cll.:·5..::cl ?:,o"w-:"sion that an e:a:hl;;- a.~~:.c;}: on P!:.u~ Y~!l e:'~fielc: ar:c. c~::~e:"n }:ey b:ric.ges :!or:. the ",o·,·+·h~-··•• _ .......'=- ........ r.,,"'+ __ '" o~ _.L1 ~~o"'+t... _ ",-.I. 11': ,,_ e+·ro:.'~ .... _'-'_ _ ,!",J." 0""':1+ ... '"-.e ~=-"'::"'=o.' 11':-'0 .... c·,1u...e -r-.~o v.__ ci·. ..n""'s _.... -r'j"'lT ;~:;:,o·l'~ '''''~--.Q ..;;.i.. t~~ co t J:!' ~ -.;..~o ~n th':" 1·"' 0.1. ........... _._IJ... _J.E:.:.I,;..':'I,; . . . . . _un ..." ...:gee run 0.:. _c..,.:, n... _.al.l "i.ere eon'te!!l?_a...eo.. ; ~ue t_ _ _





.. -






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..... _ _

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\000. 'P

.1'""-• .1..... _



fl.ltb.OtlSh our :9u"blic 3'ositiO:l 0:1 ~~;otiations wou:!.c. OS IItota:!.ly infle:d'";:):!.e tl '1.U"£.er O?tion B, it p!'ovic.ed. for re:ognition of the need to negotiate eventu:c..'\r. Under 3, this l:ould. occu:' sinultaneoilsly iTith e. cO:nti:~1ua:tion a.r:cl esc!!>' .ation of the pressu.:,·cs ~d. ,mula. be based on "infle;.:i,";:)le insistence en our present o"oje~~ives." Hevert~el.;ss) n:s" acl:.Eo·,:lecl;ec. tne need. Ifto deal iiith ch<:!'xels of fJ.nternationafl Cor.ulu."ti.... 'fT' • \.. d ". , ", " ca..L' ,,10:1) :..~~e a.."lCl. per.•s.:;:s -espr~e ot:.:' s~~'ong O?posJ.laon -- a ll recCl1-."~:::.-=C. G~l:e...~ Confe!'snce of some soz-t e-.ren before,,,e a.greed to e:rter oj nto settlene..'1t taL~s. l.!oreover, l:~ile resisting neeot::'atio!ls, the option ?roV'ic.ec:. fo:' (1) ma.'·dng lithe s-::'rcr..gest possible pU"blic ease qz th~~port~"lc~, -increase, end present intclerable level of D~V L~­ filtratio:l n and. (2) "strengthe.'1i..Tlg the picture or a militar-,{ situatio!l 'in'South Vietn':!!l !'E:C],uiring the applicaiio!l of systemc.tic milital'y force. "73/ \,I•• ,

OptiC!l t pI'O"lided. for every Idlitary action includ.ed. in IIA" plus "g-.l.-adue.ted. I:lil~ta.:.·y r.o";es ~gainst infiltration targets, .f~~st in Laos and then in the D3.V', ,·nd. then e.gainst other t~.rg=ts in north Vietnc:m." The air strikes on infiltl·a.tion routes llithin !;orth Vietnam l'lel'e to be preced::c. by lcr;1'-level recon...""laisser.~e flights o""e::, the sarr.e general area. Ad.vantage 1-i2.S seen in initiating such !1e~su::es "follO":ling either a.clditio!lu • "22


spect;acula:'s f or at least s trong ac":.ditional evidence of !:lajor infiltration. If Ho:'sover) OlJtion e nade provisio:l. for the possibility of ~1 - "; "'l t:" c;. '" "!=:"_-··~~-:c<-r.t --_;,;..... ......... 0zround c..'.'".·..,10~r.,.er>-+- +0 t;-,"" nor-bhern . . . ".,'t of' South r :m-'-"'--b Vietn~, eithe~ L~ the fo~m of a U.S. combat force or a s.&~TO-members I


.p" rcrce










b arg~.:.nl!lZ ., .L ccurrcer ,

... , , - . .



• .....



rmy event, ,




intended. to :,gi-...e the ~,?ression of a stcs.c.y c.eliberc.te ep,ro:-.ch" and "desic;nec! to gi-re the U.S. tbe option at c:...."'lj. tme to 3lroceec. or not, to esce.late or the pace or not , It . not, a.'1.d to quic~en .

In lie," mlitary pz-essuree ver e 'to be accorapanded by "communications 'lr~it~ Hanoi &.nd/or ?ei:9ing" inclic ati.1"lg in essence II a ,~ill'; agness to negotiate in an az"'fir!!ls.tive sense;" 3'rom the outset ''"\o,e voul.d be ••• acceptdng t:.e possibility th,:.t tre might not achieve our f'ull objectives." l1 Accordbgl~r, t~e concept for t:C includ.ed pl'ovision for an initial negotiating position -thd added "certam bargainine ele:nents" to t~e basic U.S. o'l,)jec·;:;ive:s. Once negotiations started t~e military pressures vould Cease. As 1.'1 "3," these l10u.ld be :.?l'eced.;d 'by a vi.gorous p!'ogral!l of pUblic ini'o~t.tion effo:rts and political ccnsul.tataons 1:ith Congressional Leader s G..!1d :oreign allies, surfe.ci:ng inforr:::::tion on DRV bfiltra.tion and ex"glaining our ratio::!.ale for action. - The latter would be "that documented "DRV i1l(:g;::.l ir.filtl·ation of armed and. train-=d insurgi:nts, end. oYer-e.ll DRV di!'ectio~ od. ccntrof, of VC L"lSUl'pncy) ~:;.o. no.. .! zeached en i!".!.tolerab1.e level c.:lo. that it was nov necessary to bit C'.t the in:filtl·atio:J.••• and to bring pressure on Hanoi to cease this infiltration. and. <i.irection. tI 74/ c•

R;r."'!"I;fi"~ncp of 1:-,.ot.; ... t.;O"l"~ =-=-=:.._,!", --.:. -'~b\" -_. '- ... .;;..

One of the most sig:."lifica.1"lt 'ttor1:ing Groi..:.,} , s !-.m!.l:rses vas its emphasfs 0:1 a negotia:~etl settle::.ent as the f:L"l2l outcone of contc.'TL:f'lated. U. S. actions.' ReG~'dless of the option selected or the p~ess~'e actions ~~?loyed, international negotiations in sone fom ~..e..'c pe!'ceivcc.. as the means by llhich th~ situ~tior. in South;~st Asia 'tiould ulti!:;:tely be relieved. E-... en in the event of a u..~ile..te!'al GYi\ or a Sout:!:l Viet.=lt..zsese splinte!' nesoti<?tion "rith the ITL?, under circu:nstan~es of a relatively' shallov: U.S. cO":);!j'dtment (O;Jtion A), r.egotiation under a Gc.'l'leyE:. forma.t ';ores regarded as a :9ref'ere..ble outcone, 12/ However, it is also c.Leaz- that e. ?~.re.l1.el e.m lias to insure that pressures on behalf of such negotiations did not beccne co:mpelling before the U.S. bargaining position could be ir:J.:prcyed.




t~e ~;5~

Also significap.t is the fact that the kind of settlement l1hich was seen aa the purpose o~ negotiation 'tras one l-Thich would end riorth Vietna!!lt S "Oa.!'tici'Vation in the conflicts i.'l Southeast Asia -- and concurrently,- also e;d the United states' direct :participation (as it ,ras in 15)64) in those conf"licts. In viel'l of the prevalent Ad1ninistration pereeptdon of I-:o~th Vietntm1 as instig~.tor and. aggressor in the conflie.t lrithin South Vietnm, it is ironic t~at the ~~orking Group's considerations of a. negotia.ted settlement (lid not include the problems of a political settlement in the South. In the availa~le source nat-=rials, this sUbject v!as rr.ised onl;l once c-..nd even then vas not dealt 'uith fUrther. The one instence ~Ias in the context of Robert Johnson' s a.n~1y~is of Option B. In it he pointed out thc.t if a fully successful' "B" negotiation

- 23

z-esulted (one in ;:hich the DJV in fact C01~':>1 .; ed l:'i t~ our c.ena."'lds to the e:·:ter.t t~at 1;" r't:>." sed our 'C";"pSS~""'" "' ..+:.; ons) n-,te "'o"i C th.~..., cave to consider ••• ~·~:;'et:1-e~ or not to ~a.:~e ccr.;.'",)rc~ses -- such as, for a"".{alll'Ole) accepc less t:::-~ ;erf'ection for inter;~:t:'onsJ. supervd.sory !:lecha!li~)' agree to ;emit :ie 111£ to become a l=.sit~ate ?olitical :~~'ty in the - Sou.th, or agree to :political consultations bstveen GVl'i ana. DR'!. II 1!!./ ~·l..rs.;s "'he u_._ _'e'rel of' theto. ~.To"'''''i......o~ O· ou... -.1;:1 "s "'.... C;;-...L':'C,. V _ , t.I In O...her '··0....'::<- c;;.~t "':.,.,. political sta::~s for 1rhich the ga!:l'; in Vie-c.n=""ll vas really being pIe.yed and the Vf-;~~ ;o-:·,,-;;ri'ul c:.!l<l relevent cards held by the DRV ana. the VC 1~ere not reall~T cons:.c.e:red.. To contdnue the· a!':'~.low, the ~rorking Grou? , 0!l.L~" ,\,;'J...'toh 't.~e - ' 1varaous ..' ...... • d ....' T'!" S·'ta:t es concernec• 1.. ....IIse~ opemng ~):. s cne um;:;ea. mig."lt lil::.ke in order to echfeve a. position frO:::l ~':hich it could a.ttempt eo finesse. .......




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• • •_ .

_ :lI.~



The zadn proole1!1 app~e:!ltly reco.;nL:e::l by the 1-7or~dng Group ... S1.7en . ..... c~:rc.m:. .. . ect aves, . . . U·· d .......asea ~+. h - f e« b arvas t ·nau, :!':.S ooj 1i!len:.:t~ nec n"'c-o....; at e I . . . es""'n"""{.;;J it ""S ........;...."''r";'.r - ; -".;.... '" "'·Q;T\"'s ~"i""h -.•1-; ch to ...... gc:..:....._•• ..:..J (,I.e.v. .~. +n-"'t '!"l·'n,,· b'-"OU""' m""""-O'"S __..,__ 0. ~.·.·1 ~·'::'l":1·n;s·:~-a""';"':"t _ v_ w v__ o-N":L·c';",s __ c._ to f';11 tn;s favore::l initiation of direct ~ilit~xy pressu=es ag~inst l:orth Vietnem. To sone , ba:::.bi!lg atteci:s ver-e .so.=ethir.t:; th::.t night then -ce removed as - an oinducencnt for t:fJ.e D?"l to stO:;l c:· to reduce its SU~~Ol~t of the trl.litcu'y operations i."Il So~th Vietna~ e~G. !:~os. To others, such -rigorous measures I:.ig~t at le:>.st serve as a c.:;,:::'o!lst~ation of U. S. resolve to co=.;'at e:l:terl~e.l aggres sdon b1:t n.lso as a scr-een b.ehin:i r;~ic~ to e:-..-tract ourselves stloulcl the sitm:.tion in Sou.th Vietna:.. d.ete::iors.te :"'urther. ,;::)~









••• (J.;.J,fJ1



....." " _ ....


. . . .oc.rgaln:::.ng .. . . "'., '1' . GaJ.n::..ng naxncun ::':t.Ye::~e.se rroa 'tne !:U l:r,e:ry measures cont~3'lated. 'lL'"lier eaca of the optd.ona ~:.s.s one of the I!2::.~or e:Jl)hases in t wc:o .. """ 1""es • ':;'OJ:' .:.... ~,... ~-~. o G..,..Cu.... .a.: c . .fit. ., It c.···"'~~"S1.·S ~ .•"" th o T·!or1.-i'nt:" ~ ~ on o'::>,,_-o._._~ "'~': .. i .... .,. ......... -1':",...'" le'If-"''''-'''0 .,.0-·· 'o.;o!-;r::. ~''''!:It 0 f p lc::.ce..L "'"c_.~_ .••• __ c,:;'''' _ _ ~J_ -"-"0 th", ...... 1i,,-e_ fu!'ther escahtion -- to be c.et:onstl·~.tca :p!'i:r~~'ily tl":OU3h re?risal actions and c.':!~lo:,,""ents. Und.er liB, I: a sinile:: }:in:i of ps;;chological le'Ve:!.'age l:as to be achieved. thrc'U.;h the clear"1::J ascel1:iine; nature of the actions, pm--t::'cul:.rly if SOI:le ti:::e ...:ere I'a.vr.:itt.eC: to e.ssess results. Under lie, n the effect 1·:as to 'be ac!1ie-"eo. b~~ the co~'b:i.ned effects of (1) L:e...xi!'li::in~ the threat of i.i·tpendi~g escalation ai"ter each gra.d.uated· a..~d. ca!'e~'- paced ste:;> ana. (2) Di~i'l":i zing the Cor·:.. .iu-T1ist gove:-mnents t probleI:lS of "face" as they Dlo'led tOi:'a!"d negotiation. 77/ '-"t

...~-_ ..




j> .... -:, _ _


, """""..... • .,.•.




It )':as the recogn.ized lac..".t of strong bare;ai.'l'ling points that led the Worki.r:.g G!'oup to cO!lside!' the introd.uction of ground forcas into the no:rthel'"l! provinces of South Vietnam. In adve.ncing this !?ro~osa.1) t!le state :Policy Pla=~ing Council I:le!Llber pointed out that 'i"lh~teV'er the stated U.S.. iIrte"'l.tions," the Co:mtll.'!ni.sts 1\"Ould ?robably e:q:>ect to put en end. to eoll air a.r..d naval attacks on. no~-th Vietnam merely b~T agreeing to entel" negotiations. In that event, he pointed out" the U!1ited states could. not us~ these p~·essu.re$ (or the prnrd.sed relief from them)· as a berga~~L~g co~~ter d~ing negotiations. If grounQ forces ~ere deployed prior to an o'::l;rious need to combat invad;Ylg en~y t;oops) this disposition could be used a.s such a cOU!lter. Their dep1o;yment 'Vould)


mcreover, ce.=!7' 't:ith it the threat of' subsequent, air and naval attacks ""7 ' . "-d " h e conG1nu~Q, .. ' "II' • t may b e as ~~oru~~u ' ag~1nsu 1~o~~~ .~€~~~:~. ~~, ~~e~ as ezecutfon •.• in p:::oclucing desired Co:unl"..mist .:-eactions." 78/ _ ,



AlthouS'l initially advocated as a vaJ:.lable bargaining piece t~e concept of deploying erou1'ld fo!'ces for this p'U:!'pose becana assoc:'c;.:.ed .171tb. O~~ticns 1\. 0.:- c. In t~e former case, it tras ~bed ,lith ~'e:::oz;lition thg,t "A" offered. little leverage for bargaining other tllsn ho!,ed for :i1nprovaent in the GVli IS' internal adDinist"::-ation ami. pacifi:::a~::'c!! e::-='o:::·ts •. For "e" it 'Vlas perceived much in the sense in iThich it vas o!'ig::'nally propcsed -- servdng as an add.itional ne;?;otiating :91oybefo~'e it :::.i;.lJ.t be needed .. ~.~·~n opers.tional:m.ilitary capacity. Such a force ..ms seen as ta.~ing eittiei.. ··of t,\,;o fo:~:ms: (1) a U.S. co::n~a.t force, probf.bly of di"{ision strength, or (2) a forc~ composed of contdrigentis fran certs.in. S~A'1'O :;:.;n.bers (Austrc.lie., te",,:" Zeale.nd,· the 'tJ:{, Thai12.r...d and the P:1ili?)i:-J.es). I!ltE:::"esti~s, i..'l'l "lieu ot subsequent; events, is the fact .. t Ps.l··clcJ.;a:i:.J.on ..... .0:1 Soucn .. !,orea. -r . l' .l:' C' . 'f'i c~ ,,""'J' ~n.a end t'ne .... .!\·~ptlu 1C Ool zuna specaz '\-!Cl.S not to 03 sougat , (Tl1is may also he.ve been significant of the Ad~nistrution's ter.dc~cy at the tine to vie~ Co~unist Chine ~s co-instigator of the V:'etnaL~ese ag:7-'ession.) . The conto;;'":lplated ground force d€:plc~::1ent aLsc ':e.s seen as sezvfng some at!.:-:illary functions: (1) to deter D:lV ground force de?lo~1llents Into South Vietnam; (2) by taking bloc~:ing posit.ions, to r-educe tne ini'iltl'ation :L~to the Sot;,tll throt;,e;tl L9.08; and. (3) (in the case of t~e nu.lti-naJ~io~c.l.:rorce) to i!L.prove the inte pictu.:.·e of our !?ctiom: in SOi,;;.th Vietn.:m by virtue of visible in"t;e::'·ne.tion:'l ]?artici?ation. 'l2/

- ·rOO:! a.ll tho;: o:;tic::s,


As stated. previously, the primary ba=gaining elenent in Option B vas the e;Oylication of clec.rly ascending I::ilit~l'Y strL~es ag=.i..'l'lst !;ol'th Viet:iaz:.. Tee S~ 1:ould be :3e.lted only in return for de.o:lstl'~.ted DRV com:plia:.~ce ~-:ith denands that it stop support;ng a."'ld directing :dlit.ary ope:ratio~s in South Vietn~ end Laos. It vas :pointed. out that DRV cO!:l:p1ia."lce ~~G.er ?:'essure ,mula. be te..nte!!:ot1!"~t to surrendez-, Purther, if ve insisted th:.t co~.!>li.a.'lc:e include callins off all acts ot: VC terrori~ and of resfstance to pacification efforts in SO'l.'.th Vietne:!!l.) it ~·~ould rcean "~lirtue.l unconditional surzender ," 80/ To obtain such high sbakes , the group recognized that intensive pressures ~.;ould be required.. Hm:e-.rer) it also recognized that the cO!!lbination of extreme demands end bc.:!'sb. actions 'Hould be nost likely to produce adverse internations.l reaction and. incres;sed. pressures for an early ce~se-:rire and negotiations. T"ne bas;'c political objective perceived for Option B was to "prevent internetio:lel consid.eration••• fr~ ir.terfering with our corrtdnuing pressures against the DRY, until the D~V has taken the actions iTe desire of it. II In vie'YF of the ezpected demands for an early cease-fire, it vas believed a::'visable to 'Present the U.S. case in the United !lations at the tiTJ.s "B" .Dilit~y operations ":ere initiated. This, it "'u~.s felt, 'l-louJ.d channal, soae of' the international pressures into a controlled

·25 '

env:'rcnr.:ent lir.-:re the ensuing 'c!iscussions ,rotlld. likely consune censicerable ti!::.e. l·:o:ceoyer) t~.kil:g such initi~,tives ,·:oulc. avoid the defensive posture .' '""'Cue U···,.·., ' -'" an J.~ ',.. cur m;. lit· e:!:y act.•acna \-iere' una~ m, "'<;;:. ~'t:. ces voulc.' b e p_.acec. int!·odu~ea. fOj: co:::c.<'\!"!""etol'Y' purposes by a.!lot:~er govcznnerrt , ~ne l'lorkinl; ·GrOll? stresse~ tr.~t ~ier Option B, tbe United states should ~i~ resist - e. Gane-"e-t~'l?e ccnrerence ul'ltil it hs.d oqt~.ined. assurances of D:7tV cOJ!.pliance "lith its c.e:l~a.s. S.1.ould the pressures for negotiation become too fOl~idable to resist ar.d discussions begin before a CO~lunist ~gre~cnt to CO!.1?ly, it vas stressc:c. the.t the Un!ted States should define i'tos negotia.tL"lg position n L"l a \-:E.y ~ihich mskes Co::muni's't acceptance ~"llllel;,T.tt an this manner it -"ic)lld be ]:lade "yery likely thc:.t the conference 1iOulc:. bl'eak up rather ra~idly)It thus ~abling 0'U1" mi4tar~- :9ressures to be resum~e... ,§]J The only option that provided for bs..rgaining in the usual. sense of the ·vicrCi vas O;tion C. The lJorki..."'lg Grou? ir.'toenaed that ~dth the il\-itiation of this o:9tior- anc. the U. S. c.ecl~...~a.tion of' 1lillingness to negotiate, the A"''!'''l; nistratio!::. -~oulc. have E$oa~'ked. en a ba;.'e;eLiing course , In the gl.'OU? t s vie\-i, 'tic ifould stick to our full o:,j ec~ive~ ~.t the cutset, "but _ v lie ,·:ould have to acceat tJle _i)ossibilit·,;th~t, as the 'Thole situation developed., ve !:light not acnieve tl10se' full o";)jectives unless .:e '\Tere pre. pared to t~:e the greater rislt:s envd saged U,.'lc.er Option B. 1I In such circuu~s·1;a..'"lces, it .s.c;~o~de~ed, nit :Z:lig.."-lt become C:esirE.ble to settle for less tha.'1 cO~:lplete assurances 0:1 our key objectives. It


AcceptinG in p::dnciple the possible need. to CC!ll'~'~ise the L."'!itial U.S. positio:l u::.der O.:.;tion C, the r:or:-=.ir.g Gl'OU? s::?ecificd. a sc~ei-rhat .:I ,. d ". ,.. ., + .,• r."!'" .• ., .., • '\. • ... • hiarcenc cezaru acn or nnst :pos~:r.:!.on. rne :!.!l~:;;la..l. ne~o-G~a:li:!.ng o...Jec",lve ("the cO:iplete te::-mi'l'l::.tion of D'J-{ suppo:-'i; to 't~e Insurgency••• ") '\o1as refined. to specii'y th.:t it inco!"~orated tbr~e i'tLTlc.a:.le.'ltals: (e.) that the DRV ce~se its ass:st~ce to anQ direction of the VC; (b)·t~at an indepenc.ent and secure m1~ be reeste.blisherl; end (c) that t~ere be e,5.equate intel~naticr~al su~el""isi..,,:g machir.<::l'y;. It S:;:ecific E.!'eas of "give" for the ba.:.~bd!lin~ process i-;are id.entif'iet:. as the gues~ion of free elections and the degree of verification ve l'rould rec;.u-t "'e. The group f'u:!'ther providec. the.t du:.'ing negotiations the intensity 11ith ~d'lich the United States \1ould puz-sue its ir-it:it~ objectives i-rould vc:ry 'tdth the extent of mprovetlent 'uithin the G~n:. If the situs.tion in South Vietncm got be·tt~r the T!nited S'I~ates liOuld "Cress hard-er for accetrcance of its i:."litial "Oos:.tion. If the situe.tion g.:.~e1~ 1~-o2'se) "we l'iOuld ha~e to decide .!nether to intensu;, our military actaons; moQify our negotia.ting positions, or both. n ~ ~

Because o-r a d.eclared 'tdllingness to negotiate i'rClrl the outset, the approach to a negotiating situation under O:;;>tion C 't~as viewed by the Uorking Group 2.S consiC!.erably different :rom t'lat under Option B. ilhereas, in the letter case it vas believed that the m: l'10uld. provide the most' userui, medi'U!!l for discussions, the preferred e.pproach under O".f)tion C liaS through a ~ne,~a.-t::'':Pe r.eeting. The ch~!!lels) both direct a."lc:. indirect, to Hanoi 1'ie!'e not believed usei'ul for negotiating purposes. Althous<~ potentially helpfUl in relaying iJllpressions of current a.ttitue.es ~d negotiating positions in Hanoi and Pelting, the Soviet go,"ern:il~"lt 'fas ~ot


",~ ~ ~~ as

v1~"l:~d~ ~::'pre~~t~

a useful negotia.ting intermediary. The' urI was ," : ,". t..'1S':: a. special p:!'oblet:1. because of the a?:p!'oaching annual issue"ot,~~~u,:1i~~,': ,'.' Chinese £e:l'lJersn:.-:>. For this rea.son the lfo~king Group feltthat'''it.li'Puld ' ,not' provide en effective neboti~ting fOl'U:: ll.'1til late Feb!'uarY or }·rarcn " 19.65,althouG!1 i+. acl:no"ledged the necessity of presenting th~U.S. case ".before the SecU:!'ity Council. " In vie,,,, of theseconsidel'ations"~t1!~·'W;or~" , ''': GrOu~ ,vie,·:ed it ::ost desirable to yielcL.to the expected pressUre$:; :tQ~&"" ', "'Geneva. conference -- but only efter conducting " a number o:t llitUt&x1,::: \' actions a~s.inst the DRV. 11 §!jj " " . ' 9




d. Perceived Reactions to Options. The l'1orkingGrol,Jp eValuate'" ", the' rela.tive acl~rani..eges and disa,6.vantatas of the three o:?tions~con.~ ,': " elUded that Option. G provided the most pro:r.ising course of e.qtion.~be .". ,', "evaluation ::as based on three gener-al, criteria: (1) like1yre'action~:Qt',' "allied and non-E.l.igned foreign gove=mr.e.."ltsj (2) reactions uitM.n Soutli Vi etaan; and (3) effectiveness in bringi.'"lg desired responsea f'"rOl:l the Gor::nunist gO':er:.:::ent. vrith. respect to the first, the group reported:

"Option A lmulcl cause no adverse reactions but if' it faileg. it,~ould Leave a. considerable after-tasta of U.S. faillr:e and ",ineptituc.e j Option B 'Would r\U1 maj O:!' risks of Sharply expres$ed 'conde::.ma.tion, lThich woulci be erased. only if the course of'action . succee~cd q~te clearlya."ld in reasonable time; Option C ~ould • -v be in bct:~·reen in "both resoects;" _ , 'O:'obablv


';lit.h resf.:ct to the rss:a.inine criteria, cption J. seemed likely to achieve 'little:;r:.o:'~ than b~"ing sene ti::.e, end :in scce rescects it a-::lzared . ·counte1"p:!'oc.uctive. ~l~iJ.e Option B vas v:ie~;ed as standing "a·~·eater ".ehance tha.'1 eith::r .of the othal' t1';'O of attaining our o'lJjectiv;~," it also ""JaS seen as rmnL'lg l1 consi c1.er abl y hig~el'" risks of n~s.jor "military " ·con:f'lict 'tdt..'I). Eanoi!llcl :JOssibly COn=lunist ,C~a." On bal.ance, Option.C, 'J was· considered. ''r..o~e contl~ollable and less ris}:y of major !:.il:..te...7 ,a.ctionn than liB" and noz-e J jkely "to achieve at least part of our objectives" than ~"~


' "

' .

The Working Group reported that Option A appea=ed. to offer "little hope of gettir.g :lanoi· Ol.:."t or an ind.ependent South Vietna.'!l re-established. It "'It" was recognized that the actions included. in this option could llot : ph¥sically affect. the eA-tent of' ir.:t'iltration from the lIorth and lIould not Q~ lik~ly to ~"'f'ectHanoifS determination to continue its policies. A1;' beat, the group believed, fr-they might •••keep the DRV !'rom engaging in further spectacu:s.rs, and thus keep the scale of the conflict in the south within some l+re-its. n HO':-lever, Option A was conceded little chance of' contribl:ting to en kproved GVN, in the 'short period of additionel tme i1;s 'effects IJight possibly make availa.ble. The group recogili.zed sagging oorale 'e.nc1 doubts concerning U.S. intentions as the "most i!mnediate problem"in South Vietnam. Several members felt that withollt further U.S. actions, political collapse 'Was ir::minent -- that to add only reprisals for VC .spectacula:s t!ight lift morale im.nediately there a-f'ter, 'as in the" case of •

. 27

the Ton}:in Gu1:£' :-eprisals, but 't-:ould no~ have lasting effect. At best, ur.c.er "A., 11 it vas be lieye"..l that the gr~c~t:.al c.eteriorat ion in the country. . or"" Soutn .. '1'le~n£'.':!l . 8" , Sl.Q.€ vo uld cont·· mue, 9 Althcr.g:~ the ~·:orki.'1g Greup 'lie~;ed a d ~cision to contdnue Option A - intl€finitely ~s rulin3 out eith!!:!.' "Bn or "c, II it did suggest the possibility of e:-:te:.ci.ir:.g "A" to its limits E.!';d. s~adt:.a.lly phasing into operations likE: those in Or-tion C. n vas suzsested. that thO; s !:ig!lt, over tine, generat.e "favo~a':lIe, or at least net unrevorable ," cl~estic a::..d inter:lat::'onal ree.ctio!l 'Fhich alons ,,:ith t~e' i..'"l~reasil1g cost or gradual disruptio:'l in !;o~t?l '.Tietnam ::d.g:1t ceuse :I~ci to sloW' dO\·m its inf'ilt:-e.tion. nO·.:e':er, :'1::;; result of this ~l'oc(;:ss) at best, ;'ouId. be a. gre.dual itl?ro"Ve!l;r..t cf the U. s. position ~·:ithout axta.."lce!:ent to~,·arci. a. meaningf'uJ. settle!:lel1t. 87/ Lac~:inc; a deli"oere.te a~te::?t to paaae into sOl!!.ething ~.~ eved -8 "an ir;,':.:""'in~+" course of e."'t~o'" c;:. ...... \,; .... lr.4. Co "" .... 11 As l i1l'e Irc If O"!",';'iO¥' ;. vas such, its tl so2.e ai....-ant;bestl vere seen as: "




, ..




"(a) defeat :·iQuld be clearly due to GVr; fail\;!'e) ar.C: ve ou::'s:;lv-;s ·uot:.ld be less il::?lic~t~d. t:la=1 if ve tried Option 3 or O?tio~ C, a~~ f~iled; 11(0) t!l~ nost lfre:.y 1'ElS'l.t!:t 1':ould be a Vietnznese-n ",.r",-':';~., 1'y "-\__~.,.~.""". t:..r~ \1____ .. n t:.r:o·:··: !'-"'ec~ c- .-.,.1 ",.,-10,.. ..'.... ..: ca C.... Coc:!.".!:: st Vie"t,na:::::. ~oulcl !'Ce..S5'2::t its ~::.'<:.d.itio~al hostili";y to CC?:tL"':ist. China and l~:lit its 01;n a:'~bitiol1s v___ .. t! po I T.'"-,..,.,__.... ",.. ,': ("~ ....;"o~;" to _"_Ioooi _\,;)

0.1_ _ '-'






\._• ..L

\;;'i _ • •


The ~O'.l?IS asses snerrt verrt on to indicate t~at saould this occur, Thailar.d "oule. l~:el~" conclude that 1I~':e si!.::.?ly could root be co~tcd. on, and llo~d a::cc!.:::lc::..~te SO:::~:1v~..: to CO~1;.,;.'1ist C~"!a even 1dtho~ 5..~;i !:!e.rked militar] xove by CC:i::lU(~ist Chin=.." §2.J' The v:orkiLg Gl'OU:? relJor-Ced. t~at t~e actaons in Option B of"'i'ered a nun1:>er of ur..iq,l:.e advantaGes relative to the other options: Ill. O?tion B probably stands a greate::.' chance than eithel' ot t~e otb.::~ t':!0 of attainin~ our cbjecthpes vis-a.-vis }!a::.oi a::.d. a settlejilent in SOl:.t~ Vietnam.

1t2. Our display of real nuscfe i.l'1 a.ction ":ould:.:lm~·,,. doubtedly have a salutary effect 'on the moz-ale of the rest of non-Co~ur.ist Asia. 113. Thn course of militel..~- ev€:nts vi s-a-vrs COI!'Jnu..'1ist China tig:1t ~ive \.'.8 a defensible case to destroy the Chllese Cor.:nunist n'U.~lee..r production capability. n


..: :!.:


.. ~ .. .".

Hm.eve1' Option 3 was also seen to present SOJ:le \;f:iq'l1e problems and to possibly lead to some undesirable results. Eol'" exe:t:lpIe) most of

. ": :.-:" ' ..

the gOU? belieyecl O~tion B ~·rould ris~~ an :iJt'!Jai~ent of th~ "U.S. standing in the l;ATO and Euro,ean fra:I:e~:ork.If Th~ option was b~lieved lil:ely to proe.uce a r:a.jo:" con:f'lict end. these effects ver e seen 2.S qUite probable if it "produced C:'.:1ythir-g less than a.1'J. ea1 ly and co:npletely satisfacto:::'y outcoae, n 'iJ:./ :>-:oble:ns vere also perceived a~ home. It ":ras 'pointed - out t:"le.t e..T1Y U. S. -initiated ~ilita~y pressures against Iiorth Vietnam should be coasdst ent with the Pl'07isio:r::~i of t}le Joint Con,yessional Resolution ";:la.ss;d. following the Tonl-:in Gulf i:l~idents, but ths.t Option B 'Would be clii"'ficult to justii)· under the ~uthorities cited in this r~solu­ tion. 1

I1Character:zing the use of force in the context of this a1terne:~ive as a. legitir.e.te exercise of the rig,.~t of individual or collective self-clcfense in res:;onse to en 11a..""lIleci. attack" fro=. the l~ol'th \TOuld. be a r.ajor pUblic relations effort. 11 l,:ol''.:lover, given the pace end likely intE:nsity of escalation in this option, it vas sUZGested th::.t ttt~e constit.!:ticnal pr(;~'oge,tives of tha Congress, fo~ exeJa?le, to c.;;clare ,,;;e.r ffioul§} become pertinent. 11 ~/ As sean by the \l~~'ki!lg Gj,~OU? t~e most distm~bL"1g aspect of O:ption B vas its a'...·ost i~re-"ersible cc:'~:it:-~e~t to a uajol' ~ilitary effort, the uJ:t:.r.ate nature of ";1:ich ~:as c.:ff~cuJ.t to :f;~edict. That Hanoi 'Would yielci to U. s. dencnds at an ear1:; stag.= of 1::8" was consfdered i t-el'O'·J • XI-e \"O__ chances ~··:.r'=' co... :-!,,.,_~",,yll -'-.a'at th~ .LJ,s;n-..,..-:.~ _\,,;.C ... "'-'''''" 1'_';~:':>-:C<,--l-l.~ .:> __.... - ""'""''''..,...., cw __ '" \,;;_ unl.:..no. D3.V v:oti':d retalh.te, eit!1er by air att:3:::1:s 0:1 the Sou.th or a ground ofi'ensive either in Laos or into South Vietna.:"'.l. It :·;e.3 considered. ~ likely. hovever , that Ea~oi l':oulci continue to hol~ fir::., thus r~c:u:iri!lg the United S"tates to 11Up the ante :militarily. II '·lith i\:.l'tll~r Lncr-eases in our militaxy pressure, the group argu.e~, lithe odds lioulcl necesss.rily ste.rt to i.'lcrease th:it E::.noi.. '~'rould either start to yield by SC:-1e real actions to cut do,,;m, or ~:ould move itself to a n:o=e drastic milita:-y respcnae," ~he "Torki:'lg Group then cautioned: ,,~



•• """'......




"\'le could f"i..nd oUl~selves'draim into a situation ~:here suca tilit~'Y actions' as an a.:":lphibio'U.s Landmg in the D:RV -- propose1. as one of our furthel~ a~ticr..s -- moved us very fa:r tOf:EJ:'d cO.!ltinuing occupation of' DRV soil. Alternatively, the vol\mle of' international noise ••• could reach the point "There, in the interest of our ,.".o1'l&--;.;1de obj ectives, ve lolOuld have to consider accepting a negotiation on terms that '\'lould . relatively but not necessarily be "Wholly favorable to the attaime..'"lt of our full objectives. II C)3/ Option C was particularly attractive to the Uorking Group because it vas believed to be sore controllable end, therefore, less cieeply coaInitti.'lC than "B." l;!oreover, in the event of e. GVN collapse (recognized as So dangez- under all of: the options), the group argued, "oUr haVing taken .strons~· measures would still leave us a good. deal better off than under


Option A with :.'e~:pect to the confidence and 'Willingness to stand firm of the n:;.tio:15 .; n t?lc I:~:t line of def'ens e in .Asia."


T~-a recct ions to "e" expected by the ~·ro~~::ing Grou:? differed frCl:l 1!3" p::::"iI:~~:'l~i 2.S a result of the U.S. r.e2=otiating posture. The ...initial st:!'i}:es ~.:ainst te.l'~ets in !~orth Vietl1E;.."'.ll/ere seen as ia IJrirst

--,.'·i . . . - t},""·nn';Y"·' for " ....ool··"'. .~.I.I, II ...~=:._.•;::. ...;;:: ,D€:6J.. ....·0 o~ .I. 1!l.C:!.J'0'" _ in':'ern-+,;o"'''l _. 1.1.. ~ ........c:. _'O"'ess""'es .... b;" e o_:.-~' negotiation. Co~~ist reactions to t!1e early pressures i-le:,e regarded as littJ'e dif':'e::-,;nt fro::.. "B. It So~e chance of a military res;?')=l.se \-jas conceded; birt it ~·iS.S thoueht more li!~ely tl:lat tne DRV i~ould tlholc1,firm vrhile sti..~ulatir.S condennatdon of ffihe United stateil 'by 1io!'ld. opinion, and, if in nesotie.tio:n.s, take a tough ::;>osi tion." Under vc, Jl. hO(ievel', our response ,\;ou:..d not necessarily be an i=~eCiate increa.se i.'1 pressye. If the OTt. .; ~itt'!.~ti~:l bs.d i,!?:'o-~'ecl "ire 1·:ould ~r~ ~o ca:pite.~iz: on ·~ ,r",....·r..sc:. -",...,,"'- -=-0-" acce'otance oT' n,"'r:ro-l.,,,.a.,l'lC 'l"\os....... • •• b";" w :..r•.. -.LJ.b ':"~",,_\,i.c. J.. r-J... ... 0··... """"" 1l'1J.t'al •• "'b lJ_:'" ~-_.:.o J:' _1.1_ o·~ ..... h BE.r::d."lg success, t~e I::.'essUl'es vroulcl continue, and the ";or:~L"1g Group reco.;ni:::~d. that tr.e li1:e:y dragging out or tha ,,;.:c.r c:.t this point ...ould. probab~~ lead. tio a rest::)::;tio:l of deterior~:~i..':l3 tl'encls in South Vietna. It stated: "1:1 tms case, ve "Would have to decide Hhet~er to intensi~.f om' tilite.l';Y- e.ctions, ~o6.if'y our ncg~tiatin.; positions or both. If Ii' U.S. !:ilita~y measures vere increase::'!. at t~s point it vas e:-=;e~ted ths.t "there 1'-ould. be a progressively increasing chance of ~ajor CO:':::lunist ... _ . , _'-' __ ' ... __ , • __ _ '-' c..e_ _ _ ....i l-..l.'+::",r ... .-:.c:-c,,- eo.::> t: such as f:hO~o co-' ::d ,1"",':'':: " r=r-r "3 • 11 If' ttl''" U•S• ~e~O"'-l·r.L;~~ ~~~e -O~~fl'",,~ a"'~o~~~w'. the ~ou~ l.t _U_!.w ~~~~t~o~ .. u,-,,_ \.f 't'~i~ .. _'" -- -=-r ~~~~e].·,pe~ __ "'"' a l::ma.ior 'O::::,o'ble:.:, in that key n~tions on. ·::iotj. sic.es '!,~ulcl suscect; that - "".:> +; "'e ··'·e···.::> c.. -:- -~""~.r:.r "",...........-. "'l,<>t W'_-o ............J ~O'" .. - ""' ~·"""P I' '-ti out"". 11 fjl;.,.:..... .. v_ - , 1'+ u suzcest.ed '-='0-""'acliitio:1~l~ilitary ac';::'icns, ;ossibt,.. incluc.ir..3 gl.'cate:- deflo:,':.:.~nts to Southeast Asia, 't"iou1<i need .to accompeny t~e J:oc:'ii'ying noves , ~'

gy. '













r.!' .,. ;Lfl_


..,,~.: ..... :>...Jor



'd':''' -"•.." t'"'-~_., -"'.. .... Sc:;.C'..<;..l

~ o~



O-.l.' ""l C ~"'1J10._


~"''''''I -." c..,",~_.o.,_e;;.e

d'" d -. 0:1



".1" ,..

"'1.", T.To_.~n~ 'r'.' C!'

G:.'OUp i·.-as ::ts J.;endency to "stretch-out" t!:!e conf:-ontation and e.\.,?ose the U:lited states to a.ll increasing variety of ?:"::ssUl'es e..."'lc. criticiS,;"J.. Fo::::" e:·:an:;-le, the gl"CUP ~ck:10\'r1E.:dged ths..t G-;.'~; ::,o:'ale e.ncl effectiveness '1e~'e lik.;~· to sm"'!'er at se·...eral points in tnG cOUl'S~ of' the options: (1) U?O!l initial U.S. agreene!!t to enter !le~oti.ations; (2) e,s it became clear t!'lat the ~mr lIes fu.'E.fging on; znd (3) wit!1 modification OI~ the U.S. negotiating position. It e.lso recognized se'reral measures that the Coon-:un'ists I::.:ight take during a prolonGed, indecish-e :geriod to red.u::e our ini-:'iel advantage: (1) improying air d.efenses in iiorth . Vietne.m; (2) ci.e?lo:"i.ng Chinese ground forces south~'j'el'd; end (3) he.rd~ ening their prope-ganda. While increasing the e!lemy1s public c~t!nent to its current line of policy, these meaS'll!"es l':oulcl not serve as clear acts of esca.lation. Z§./

These a.iff'iculties and other uncertainties encompassed by Option C illust!'s.te the intensity with "Iibicn most members of ·the NSC "Torldng Group 'ia-"'lted the United. Sta'tes to cou?1e limited Inilita..,ey comtlit~cnts i/ith a !!egoti:::ted settlcnsnt to relieve our position in Vietnam. The fact tha.t the group judsed IIC" as preferable to "A" or liB, tI despite its rathal' ob'l:'ous irJlerent problems m~es this evident. (One Iilight also

hc.ve ·vie~;ed. it aa evidence that U!lite~ Stdes :policy in Southeast. Asia vas n.·!t.:l:;;~·:; ';ith real contr~d:'c:tions.) For e:-o::.myle, the one featU!'e .' t!l!o.t g~.1··e Option "e" its most distinctive chcracber -- cr:.l'l~~ i1illingne~s ... "~':'}.out t""'~ concur-rent ef'f'~c"'s .... _"'.... __ . . " ' Of' - con+';1'1"~ll·." --\,1---""".. . "'" nountdnz • ""-0 to '"ne -"'+~__..~"'_ :tlil~tal'~; preesm',-s ... ':'12.S its most un~ert?i!'!. s.:l?ect. Tbis p2.rt~cul~· - I'a!'t or the e.nalj·sis vas revised t\-ricc between the f-ll'}c.l drarting Of·;. _ w _ . 1-!o::ethe 1:1':!..'ou·.)'s fi!ldincs and thei~ cC:lsic.i:z-atic:1 by tlle P:r:'!;~i~a.ls. ever, t~: l;orkir..s Group had received ~t least one inf'o:;-::ec. ~W1.~P:t, '. ' to tee (:i'ect tbat , given !'Ic;.l1oi r s high st~:es in South Vi(;tn~;'t . e.na>~~~ '.' :pe:"ceiite~ o,?,ortUs."lity to dee.l the Ur:it.-ed. States a t1ajo~ blo~·:, the D"tV ... ,,·:ould not be li2':ely to neGotic.te in r esponse to any of 'the o~t1ons~. On the eve of the initial r.eeting '7ith the Principals., Chail'!:1an J)1mdy' callec. e~.r!.y nego'ti&tions 1fthe least satisfactol'y ~a:'t of the!?rele:i~. script." In p~ticulc.r it ~:as ~ecog:izeci. as difficult to "keep un ow:SOO101 0'£ c.etermi.ne.tion and at the sene tir.e listen for ni"tibles." ~l t::~'-"oJ

.. _






In ma..'1Y respects O?tion C seens to have been favored prmarily for i'::'l~t it dncorporated .- for the zeans it ~plo:red. -. ~ather tha!l for \:c$.t it tiGht achieve. It certair.ly vas not 3?l'esen'te:' as an optitistic alte::ne.tive. Under "c, fI the ~'ou~ perceived. tha.t II at best ••• . the DR., r:.lc:t feign co:.1:91i~'1ce and si:ttlc for an o::;·::o~tu.."li7.~- to subv-et'tr:, the S:n.::th another dey. 1t TillS stOOD. 1:1 n:a::"k~cl conte-ast to ~. .h at it ~er~1..+. .."e~-r~'-: .... 0:.-:: "'T...~ n"'t ;. ~+" outccne .;.1,...... c~_... t1~ ..." " ~~~",.~'·r •• _.,-J +n',.... ..., __ '" -;:;". •__ .... "i ,,~.: ...;..o.l.-o.. .lv be u rea1:7 . to sit clo~':n e.ne. 1Tork out a set't2.~:;:;,t :'n soz:e :;:"'0:::: t21;.t 'uould . ...~j."le ~




~ ~"""",o"V'"" .; 0'" _ ... 10)101 _ _s;'o,J_ • .I,






__ ._c_

of' .t.h"" lC'i5L'to t:.&;.._ ~ ~,,,,.:::._.:._J.,.~ II ""o~''''''''''ly y;, ""01,...... -" Q...u"',· ".,t..,;,:as ..........-.L J............. _.LOJ"""" • ·c..... .,c. . r-~ ';.L't-. n,., " ' & ' n ,::) f"'"'V'O·''''''''\ ·0.:.-,.: ...·-_· ~.,~,..+ -i,., ·OO+.,.. . . n~st and : •• _II':! '-', "'•• _ 0.:..:.t;; .. <.: I.Jl._.", ..... wu',,-;;':,;.l "":;. c;... l'_ _ _ .. o..+"'o _0.1,... _ s , +......... "'.__ Un].' . . t,:o.;l !=:f.·:7.""'" Il~~ !:.'.,~ '0'" f'<>('ca.· y; '_iJ. __' _ ... ~".·.,.,..::>PI+• ..••··o·~s+: +"l-.. __ r:) .;.,.··~,.O i:l -t::: :"::-:-e::."::s.l E'J~-:?l \"iet:: ?:.: si t~ticn e.r.cl 't·rith the c.ifi;i cuit dee-:!.sion "-



" . . ._

lJ ..... ,



.. .I.







. . . . . . . ._\;,; • • _



..:.. ..... :::.,


_ _ ....



-0 -~ .. ~'a . '" 0-• .1 u'" ...""to,,;'" '...,o r..:~\", ~~.. ~_ ...., ........ ··.;t· ~-This . A~ ~;:'" ~ " :;: ....'-~ .... . ve:; : . ..:. c'-~.;._.:..~\wo"" •.• .;. n C'~1.:..:.i.~." ••1a. """" _ .. .-..1 _... _ _ 100 ...._ _ .:.~-, ...... _ ::.;.._ ""V'-_J __ __ c.. y. .... _ _ ... '" O,···· c:' .. ""'ro.1""';s"C.~ lJ.'tt 1 e ........ '·0 "':.."., _.~ ..."....... o ... c"'.;",.:.; ~s "'v·a.~'~-o'e OI -r''::l·.J.].·I"\",o:.l r.~)-···.;+.~ .-.:0 ...._',J_ ::::':'';o~'''l ;... '" th.. ••_ c:.\.1.""" \J wI ""' ........ _ ... _•..,.,.-:· _ ... ........ .;:'- _. . . ;,.;,. .... t 1..,..ou·· IlAII __ ""nr~""" lil'.l-houJ..

··",e · .... ..... v ..:.._







tige a..'"l~ r..ilits.r;{ force. B"u.t it 't-;z.s an ou.tco~e re.::.a.ily ;.erceivable . i'rec a policy that clll£"'lZ tenaciously to rat.:J.er majo~ objec:'iyes but 1·;as retici::'-lt to accept major ris}:s.

5. Vie1iS

FrO:l Olltside the !;SC



While the !:SC \-Torkir.g Gro~? ...~as ~rcpar;ng its finCings for sUb.rdssio!l to the Principals, other som'ces of influential opL'"lion ,\'jere c~u."licating their vie\-;s t~ these inc.ivi<luals. Ll'l ad.c.ition l it is'bportt.nt to consider that nembers of the l'Torl~ing Gro'l:.p \\ere :r::.ost likely co::::J:IU!licating their respective impressions of group prosress to the .. princij;:al offici?J, in the agencies the~' re?resented. Tnus) \lilliSl:l BU!lcty no doubt ~hared ideas 'lith Secretar~T i{us".{; John l,:cXaughton l-liiih Sec~eta:-y l·:cl:e,n:!.r'a; Harold Ford ""ith CI.~ Director l!::Cone; and Adl!dral l·:ustin l:ith General Wheeler. SOl:le of these Princi"Da.ls :no doubt had. . injected p~.rticular ideas into the e;:::-oup' s a.eliber~tio~s. lfl1at~v~r the source, thesa high Officials \'iere e~q::.osed to a variety of suggestions and vi:e1~oints before reactili~ directly to the 1';o~king Group's submissions• •


The toiloring sections deal ,;it11 t",~o rather significant sources uo··'e',....,.· ...... "':'os=> 'I... '- cC--"''''l' ,,_""-'_ 0 ..·.;0· .:: "",,"," "'!"'~c:' s"'c... t:~"-":r'r "' .... " ~~c~~ .. l .. ..maz-a .1ooolIo. ..,.1. h. ;1,;.'-_-' ·thei""···· _ ._-.' O-f'_ _-ra.-e"s vie;:s 't':ere known to other membei-s of the Princip~ls Group as ,,~ell, . . . .' t'l,-:> in.;.t:..... ,:;·,,'"l,;.'·tnl·~..,t:::.' CO""';,': "'''tiol''' nrocedures 'i'u'l"se " throu"":J, .OJ - . - r.o·,·_p' ... _ .......I/J""'_'--_,:;;_ ..._ ..... """.---•• ...- _"""" ... proposals are 55 ::::.i:""ica..'lt also because of their rather conte."'lcli."'lg vieiI,pQ.1nts on t1=.e su~ject of U.S. COl;X~es of act~on.



.......\..;. ...\;".




a. JCS Vie;:s. On four dif'fel'ent occasions during th~ per~~ o.t the Working G!"OU?'S e:.:istence, the JCS sub:~tted. for-mel pro~us t.~" . direct Iililita::.·y strikes against Korth Viet~:=_;:se targets. On .e;;,ch .: occasion the;r tqo;: pe.ins to l'e!:lir..cl th~ Secretary of Defense a.'1d other .."....il'e~d.ers of their 'eal'lie:;: reco=n.enc1.;:.tio:'l for a preferred cO\.UI.se:..or :..;t~nt '\'lhich involv€:d a. sJster~tic pattel'n of air attac~s on Eajorte.rgeU•. ..: ....,


.., -.. ,



On 14 l\o'{e!:lbel', t:;o such re~c=~;.'S~nc.ation~ vere !lade. .One was to ":Jr-; ng about expansfon ot the G"C' s covert o;~ratio!ls: to include "air st:rikes by Uf.uae:kec:l d:::'·Cl~c:.:'tT! of the \'~TAF. It s?scified that these uere to 'be "se~al'<.'.te and distin~t fro~ larg~r (more decisive) air stri.'-ie actdons re~c·=ended.•••on 1 !iove:l:e::.· 1$64. tl The JCS st~.ted that such sualler att::.~:s 1-iould 'be useful. in: (1) continuing the.. ?ressure on the D3V; (2) encouraging GVI: leae.~l·si (3) !-lroviding usei'ul w ·defense·· :.~. data; and (4) de=.onstrc.ting patterns of n:?.vjc;unese reactions that couJ.d . ~7'I· ' .;n _t..J_ ....' al'\~~r.c:- ,_c::.. -r=-"'" .,·~·: 01'·... ,t",,/ T;"p o.J.~",.,. l'~"-""'-'''''''n,:lGt;o' ..... __:_ ....._.. ...L o :.... c·... __ (,;.w_ ._ ..."'. v ..._l;,_.l_........... .'u be •h~' cene in. response to Secret!l::Y ~·~~l~~"':~:r[;. T s ~'~8St to examine ~ossiole 'O't7/CtITcc~·' __ •• .,..,.:1.;· -.u. __ v ..·,..__ .i ""eact.:o~'~ _ .J. .>_".... 0 ·U •• S C:. ~.:." e···· "' .• ;1·t:..; 1._ .......,;, !'lr'a;ns"'" _ > ... ··:o~· J,. _u., ........ V';e"'~-~ _ .•• D'"'Ii In ancver , the:r discussec. v~ious CC:-'='.l!:i2't ~i li tc~J ~ltel~!:e. t::I~S t..n.d . . . . .':'T ~ :r;:"'-I"l"'s·to counte... t.;'~"", . no' ··-s·,···.:~'",.:: s- ...u..,..... ~.-.J n;.,.,,,,'; ....-.... ......v.o...l, c:..! ...... ."--t--~ ""_'"'''' '-C . . . _\' •..~"., -"-' ._\;... _..... "'S "'h~' !J. ..., -e , '.: ......ost l';"·eJ."v c. -n-·""·' reactdons 'i'~e""" ":;: ",,, .,.. ... .:,.:',.~ ~.- -in' ...._ . . . • .,;t_, 'to...... ....:.., ""41 .::-~,"_C_oJ, .-th,e J)!'opagancla and~diplc=.atic sph~::"·:;3 ~.;.::a"'":~.:s 0-: ·.-~~:~t 1;~S ?e;."cei";ei ~s China 1 s seneral re1uctE.:l~c to cecc7.:.:: ::":'::ectly involYed in co:-.flict ,'iith t~; Urlitec. St".tes. I."l mdition, t~e JCS re~es.ted their j,"ecc!:::.end.e.tio.ns of 4 l~ove=ber (;;ith respect to the VC attac!:s on Bien lIoa) as retal:i.&to:r.y . ."" .... actions e~'U.ally applicable to a."l~! other SE:;,'ious ~roYOc<:.tion5. They ,...e.~t on to recc:::!:er.d c.e~~o~,:,.ents "to b?xoye c:;.:;s.":>ilities to conduct the progra:t ot air strikes" reccr:.mer.cteo. 0:1 4 l:ovember 1964. 101/ int~nded








~1 " , ~'t"JV."". ,jM







,.""..,J,*- ...",




_ _ ..



Four days latel" the~r sub.":itted. :::.nother pro:;>osal,· in resl>0n.se to Secretary I;!cI~pjJ'la"'a1 s interest in a possible 'p=ogrem. of gre.duat~d U.S. pressures against ~orth Vietnem. T£lis :;o.ssi'Jility ",:E.S dascribed as '~a coni!rolled progrm of syste..",atic~lly in~l·eased. mlita.!'Y' pressures against the Democl'stic Re::,Jublic of Viet..""laJ:1 (DRV) applied in coOrc1ina-tion \lith apP~·opris.te political pressu.!"es." (Interestingly, the Secretary's interest was eApressed on the Sa!1e day as !.Ic1:raug..l),ton· s l'eactions to the draft an.al:;sis of Option C.) The JCS referred to their stat~ents ot 4 end 14 l'!o"Ve!!loer, describing their preferred course or action for causing the DRV lito cease SU,l)port~g and directing the insurgencies" in South Vietn::m e>..nd Laos. Hm'lever, they a.lso proposed en alternative : series of specific ac·i;ions, 17should eo controlled program of systenatical~ incre~.secl ?l'eSSl::rCs ••• be directed. II l·~oreover, they recOIl'mlended. a set of operational obje~tives ~lhich they teI'!:iec:. t1 ap::?r op1"i at e" for suchagradu.ated program, as follo~s: ~. . .. ,: •



Si6Ila1 the ",villineness and deter.:lination of the Unite~ St~tes to em?loy L'1c?~asi:'s fo~ce in su??ort of••• an inc.e:Jendent ar.c. sta'l:>le non~o::ln~is:t .governaent in RV!~ and. a f.r£;e and nB':lt!"al Laos .......·:·7·····,:

"b. Reduce, progressdve'ly, DRY su.?:po~t of the msur-' • .... :>1-' Col.a. ~ ... - 1"'0'" _·... --... ·...•• e,..~<"s.,,'\1'·· ge ' l.n _ v to t',., ei_ '__ u '-'- J ...I. o t-i .... "'h"" 1.••bal.ance clearly in favor of tte Government.s of RVH and Laos .l~::l.eS







Rec.uction of' the ~~Ou.:-lt of SU?:90rl available t::roush destauctdon of men, Iilate~'ie,l, and sup~oTtir-g


: •. ~n~ thro~gh ~i:ersion of ~RV ~~~oU:'ces to ~creased ho~ela~Q Qe:e~ses an~~l~~~s; and . ;






.delivery of ..: vailable

sUDno~t t~Jou~hee~"~uc~ion of brid~~s a~d -.~;& .. ..: ..• • .....

otaer LOe choke point s ••• and tion of Eovements.~•• "c ,


the D::\'V f'or


D:;'7-su::~ol'tec. milit~ry

'\..., t'o _/p•;:'V•• .l..~,_t':1" .... u~ n_"V".:.Cv... Co nul

T:-''"-0 ••••



- -:

interrupoo actions ,~.:-




COllc.i·~ior.:.s 1:~1ic~

-t!1c cO!llli~t i.~ !~:!cs and. R'J:'! ol:l~; unC.Cl" 1·ioula. 1'~sult in til2; e-.cl:':: G-w-~:e!lt 01'" u. S.

o'bjecti"es. 1t l02j

The f'i..rl:l ·.res pro;'osal to be s-:;.:-tittea. re1ativ.:: to t:J.e "courses of action lt debats in l~o",·e::.:>sr 15:64 ceze i~ c.ir€ct r esponse to the KS: l'Io~l:L"1S Groupt s draz""t ?a!le:'s, ci:.'cu:!.~·~C'd to interestec"t agencfes for .. __ • _'O~/ lJ.:o .. _ c-:: ........ __ J. ,.......··"'...... 0"".. _ 17 ..a.. "-O'"-"'~""""''\I' Cr~+';c':~';'l'\C'" "'h"" """'ou""'s assessnent ooP U.S. . c",... '-rw..,; .....·s c:..:........ _ ...... " , t~'" JCS c..,11t:-r' c:!o'--'-},,,,-,,,'" c...... v.l"'~s; • ..Low c:. -r;.....:...... Uc:L ''':''' ~"1~ _.1.7 "l'l':°eY'e:·s"'s <> "an <>'\I'Ga of .... ~.;or S"' u s"t:!.'a:tegic ;"',?O=:-t:JICe to the United ste.t.:s, t~e loss of' ~Nhich il0uld lead to r;.'a7e !=olitica1 end. tilit~y consequences in t~e entire l';estern Pacific, and to serio'1:.s political consequences "jor Idoo~:ide. " They :reitoo erated their viei': that tile best pl'obabili"i.#y of success in attaini.J.lg the c~1'ant1y reco"c;ni::ec. U.S. objectives in that l~e:;ion i-rould be Ilby echi.eving the prel'equisit~ objective of' causing the cessation of D1{V sl1l'port and di~ection of the insurgencies in Rvri and Laos. II 104/ _-_.;.~"'


.... 'J_








The JCS also criticized the t~ee options described by the 't{orking Group and outlined. five alternatives to then, in en ascend.i.'>1g order of' intensity:

1.' Terminate cQ."!lI!litments in South Vietnam and Laos and. withdraw as g!'acefully as J;loss:"ble. The J"CS called. this "implicit in the content of the 1;S::= l'Torl:ing Group paper bu.t ••• not clearly identified as a separate and distinct option. Jf •


actions contained :rit~"1 pres~nt policies, includi~c re!,l'is~ls :fo~.. 'VC provocatdons , The JCS icl::mtified this as the l?:ro'l.1!)'s O:')t:'O=1 A bu~ st~ted. that the added demands it nlaced on the DRV ;el-e- Ilnct- cc~.:::'~:lsUr2.tc 'With those i!:?osed. by DRV or livl~.n In essence, the:; agreed '~di;~ the Horking Grou;J' s eYc.luatio~ tha.t this a1t~native "d ns:;.,,~:er '.... ... • our 0 bJec " t'aves nor ~11evaate '.L..Loh "... ' 1 • ''IOU... acccnpaasn '" e crataca situation in South Vietnm. .' 2.


without necessarily deter:.:irdng in advence to 'What C:c.s~·ee ve ":i11 C(7~t ouz-se lves to achieve O:;I' ob.:..,:ves , or ..of" j).Lo ... .,~.!.. -0; _.L. .-~ -,: ght Tl~-O ,:~..... '" :" -~~., ,'.- ~_.:. '" s"'o""' '" 1:' to •• -eoJ·e: .... . .f,,_ tiate, or \·.-hat our nei,;otiating oojcctives tisht be.

T!le JCS st~t::-·=. that. thiz e.ltern.;--.tive corr-esponded to the I:SC '<larking Greup's C?tion C) ...~!.!ich th~y critici~ ed txxx its 1tU,."1certai:1 :;:acen and because it die. :10-; i.."lcluc.e "a clear c..etednation to s:;~ tninss tb:'c'Ugb. ;"1 full. If They argued that such en "dnconc.lusdve" option "could !Jtr~it e.!l5. encourage ene:ny build~'U.?s to count-er our <7.'ill," and. tht:.S "raise the ris::s ~:lci. costs to us of each se~~'o::€: rilitary ur..dei~tal:ir.g."


·uT-';:e"'+ ::l'rc c:. .. IlCO-'+1'0~ 1 to':' ....,.......t:... ...."""~,tt aT" ~".:l" :;..... t:.,.'! ...,.: 1 l.'t"",..y .......,~ _.......... v_....... __ _ _.:._ __ "--\oil. . . . __ _ .w_.... . w •• "" '__ v _'" based 0'" l'''"; t1a,~~·~!';""..:=-A c.~!:;C4 S;O~' +0 CC-:"'-;TlU'" T.~{'.;+"' ... 'l· ~.;' c""sJ'::''"'V'·j ~,,+~~.:\ T'u" ,.:..,...;.~~ 1.·~~+ ':) ...... 4'o,.,s ":""~. ... "-._.1 T'.-!,~.~.,.~. --_V--tI _\';V_ __ \".-... -",_ •.,..,•..:: u· S J.._ "'I~+~or."" ~,..,,·-'-';··-=-s .T~S C~l'1",.:; It c:. .. t..'.J ......... . . _ _ o:.....,u-_ ....- .. - . II lj'he __ \011' -' ...........-_,.,.., oI."'~s t".;J.,.L. trl


__ __.::'_ _... , 1 '"""es~""::'''' ""O·HtJ."C::.




" ';' 'I'' ·; b··~ .",Ir.I_ '-'- '" cc_Jov__



_ \,4,.










..... _ _ ,J1o..,

",,"!' -_



va~ia.'1t and 10~ical exbensicn" of O]tio~ 18 l';o'l~ber as eo ds-tailed clescri?tior.. of

C and cited tbeir proposal of it.

5. UnCierl~e a "contl'olled. ?rogrtn of i..'ltense r.ilitarJ ;>ressures •••designed to have r.ajor milit;.r~; a:lc, :,sychological ';~pact frct:l t::'a outset , a::.d. accc!l.?~Tlied. by ap:;ropriate po1iticu ~p:ressures.11 The JCS offered. this uternati'!e in liell of the l'1ol'king G!'ou":) t s O-vtion B . . : hich they stated "Ls not a valid i'o'z"nulation of eIl:J authorit~tiYe Yie~:s l:rlo::n to the JCB. n In particular, they specified tb~t their intensive ;proe;:;:.=. "t:ould be undertaken on tbe basis tha.t it l·IOulc. be carried through, if' necessa-ry', to the fUll li--3t of ,~ha.t I:li.litarj~ action's can contribute toward natior.al objectives; it would be dasigned, hOiTever, for suspen9ion s~c=t of those li.n:its if objectives ~'ere earlier act~evee..

For a. full description of this 2.lternative) they referred. to their pose.l of 14 liOYemb~l~. 105!


Of the five E..lternatives) 'tihe JCS stated their belief that only the last two offered "a probc::.bility of achieving .!J.urrent objectives."


. . 34

In addition to l'rO"...-iding for E:t~onge~, more deterldned actions, these £..lternatives also "Orovided for si~eab~e force build-u'Os t~:.t "should !!l~:-e misce.lcul2.tion of U. S. resolve less likely." Ortio!! C i·;as obj ec-· tionable in their Vi~l because it did 'not permit "a cle:.:.l" set of' agreed military objectives" and because it prov-ic":.ed. for "the ccnti!!z;ncy that ., a.s-develop.~ents ere analyzed, it may be t~Ot~:1t ex?edier-:t to settle for less than co:J.)lete achfevenerrt ' of our objectives for RV:r ellG. Laos. II It is :m.portant to note that in outlining the last tiro optd.cns , the JCS stressed ths.t thc~r called for "corrtroIl.ed" prog!'<:lD.S. 106/ In the mode of ACl","ll:::,al lo:ust~' E: l!~ora."ldur:, r ef'ezred to earlier, thay were a~IJa.rently atte~pt:L"1g to cC:::1"::lat the l-TorkinG Group I s infe:!'ences that the more intensiYe actions . .; hich the JCS advocated vere not controllable. It is i'ai.:.·l~· cle~' that group nembers f'<:.voring ODtion C n=..d tagged the extrem.e Option B . . T ith a JCS le-bel.




b. Rosto~·: Vie'ls. t'lhereas the JCS enphasdzed c":.E~a~Ll'lg C'.d:,ions, designed to af~ect Hanoi's will be ~estroyinG a sig~ifica~t ~ortion of thei!' ce.,:>c:.bility, Walt Rosto;'i Ul"beC. a dii'ferent approach, In his vir.m, er.p~::.sis ehould have been ,laced. en sig~a"ing to Hanoi ana. P~dng our c~it!n~rlt to use our vast resources :to whatever extent ~€auired to ·~·reil1sta~e.effectively the :!,)rovisions of ~~e 1954 and. 1902 G,:):leva. Accords. Uitn res?ect to lrdlits.ry zoves most useful for this purpose, Rostovl cc~u.."licated. to Sec~etar~· 1-:-:::c~zora his concern t=:at "teo much f"'f~.&-; ,..~- nn t.o ".. tu , ;;~"""'~-:\ . ~ ''''0· "'-o"",.L" _s b:"l~l""""'.'0 :=,.1.V_ ... .L.~.=. lJ.... _.:=.C tte_ u. __ ~Q';. ,."1<;;: U. ~n "'~ __ J., _ \In, n 0'"'" tho'U~II enough.t~o~ght to the si&lr..l . . .re ,l'ish to s end, If Outlir.ing a concept s:ir.t:.le.:i to the ea:-liest Olition C, he urged the.t the initial use of E:.dditional force against I-;orth Vietne.":l II s houl d be as liI:.ited. and unsanguinary as possible" and that it .L,",.:::li

should 'De· des!gned merely to i.l1stall the principle that {the DRy '\o~ill> f::on the pre sent fo:r;:ard, be vulnerable to ••• atta~k••• for contL~ued violations of the 1954 and. 1962 Accords. In other "Torus, 'ore ...: ould signal eo sh::'i't fro:::;. the p!'inciple involved. in the TOn.'1tin. Gulf re s?onse. It 1071



Even lI!.o::e :i1:po!'ta..."lt; in his vie1'1, ~;"ouJ.a be the signals cC::"'"1unicc:.ted b~r .additional Eilitary mov:es in the Southee.st Asia region. He urged deploying U.S. ground forces to South Vietnam and large-scale retaliatory -fOl"ces into the lvestern Pacific. ' Besid€;s their value as a bargaining couater-, Rosto1': sa.'W a ground force co!!!llitltent as a. clear signal that "'We are prepared to face dmm eI'.y form of escalation north Vietnam might nount on the b::C"\l."1d.. rt He argued tht=.t such a !"!ove would ::u1e out "the possibility of ffihe COnitlUl"l.ist!7 radica.lly extending their position on the grou."!d at the cost of air and naval damage alone. II He stated that . the increased retaliatory forces '.;QuId signal: "that ve are putting in place a capacity sUbseg,uently to step up direct and naval pressure on the north,

. 35

if that should, be req,uired; [i:ng that we are putting f'orces into place to exact retaliation directly aga.inst CO:::::'l'.nist China, if Peiping should join in an escalatory z-esconse from Hanoi. n lC8/ .



The broader conteA-t of Rosto'ti'S viei':s on mili:taT".{ actions ,;as described. for Secretsl"y Rusk on the eye"of the first meeting of the Principals to discuss the 1'10rking Group findings. Sta.ting his agreement '7ith those portions of the latest intelligence estmate 1·:hich streeaed the Asian CCTxn:,"!.ist 'OO~'~ers' desire not to become involved in a direct con:::"'lict 't-:ith the United states, he framed the "most basic" U.S. probl6!l as follo~fs: It • • • hmr to persuade ffihe CO!::;:::::u..YJ.isti! that a continuation of: their' present policy lTill risk major destrl.lction in !;crlh Viet 1;a."1l; tb~t a pree!:l?tive nove on the ground as a pre lude to nec;otiation idll be l:et by U.S. stirengbh on the ground.; and th;.t CC:J::lt:.."list C1lina ,dll not be a sanctuary if it assists !;orth Viet I~a."U in counter-escalation. n

- He then re~ea.tei his llrescri,tion of tlilitary moves earlier urged. on Secretary :·~C:~anara. iIo~·;ever, he sbreased ths.t these noves -:.;'ould not, "in ther..selves, constitute a decd sdve signs.l. It i.~ore si91ific5...'lt in COJ!.:iu.:'"list eyes, he felt, iJou,11 be dg:!als to ansuer the ~u.~stion.

"J;S the Preside..."lt of the Unite::' St::.tes dee?ly cc::rlttec. o~ l'~ ~uL+~na o~ \;0-__ns~ ~ " ~ - ~ t"~ - _ 19~h-o~? "'. - .Lcco~d~· . .. ..... , _ ... h . o_ .,:IJ ""__ to r ~{ a doonstration of' force that ":ould save f{'.ce fo:!.", essenti~l:lY a U.S. political de:'eat at a diplO!:la.ti~ conference?" ~-~.10




In RostOi":' s vie-tr, the Co~u.YJ.ists i·:ould not accect Co set'back ur..r til they were a~solute1y certa.in..:that the United states really ti~an.:.~b~in~~~ •.,. -- all assessnerrt that could "only ccne as a result of' fiT"il pUb11c cot:!!l.it-· . nents "on. the part of the President and a:f?propriate i'ollo-..:-t~oush actions. He stated.: "1 have no doubt ve have the car-adty to achteve a reinstallation of the 1954-1962 Accords if 'We enter the exercise with the same determination and staying pover tha.t 1':e entered the long test on Berlin and the short test on the Cuba missiles. But it will take that kind of Presidential commitment and st~ying pO"I,jer. tl Ackno\>!led.ing that the kind. of conflict 't~e faced lent itself to prolonged uncertadntdes and that the COIIlI!l1ll.'"lists could pretend to call off the guerrilla 'War, OIlly to revive it again, he stressed the need. to maintain pressure on them for sene ti.J!le. The installation or ground. forces and a "non-sanguinary" naval blockade ~ere suggested as particularly useful for •

. 36

t~is ~ur!,ose. Rosto,\,i' urgec 1ir:,.-i.ng "to gear this ~'ihole operatdon id':tb. the best counterinsur[~~cy effo~t ~e can mount with o~ Vietnc~~se frier-d.s ••• and not ,:ith:l!':~1·.' D.S. forces from Viet :1~a.":l U:."ltil the 't·;ar is trul~r under control. II 110/

In closing, Rostm\' outlined a scenario of actdon th::.t vould the kind. of P;-€sider..tial decision descrdbed above, This \:ould includ.e, in sequence: i'01101-." frO!:l

(1) .In~edi~.te movenerrt 0"1 releva.1"lt forces to the Pacific.



direct ccmm~~ication to H~oi ••• including a clear sta:te:=ent of the l:ir.!.its of cur o:>j ectdves but our absolute co~"lit:uent to them.

(3) Should this first ccrJl1L1"licaticn fail (as is likely) installatio~ of cur g~o~~d forces and naval bloc~~ie, , "'. t al.o1i9.C:: .... . an " .. .l.' t 0 ce 8.Cc0n.?~1"lJ.ed'0;;; prus IU'S ~',or,,!l, publication LOf a re~ort on infiltratioiT ~1"ld Presidenti~l speech. 111/ 'l,.

. "

Thus, in their co~unicatior..s to .. senior officials in the latter ha.lf of I:oveuber, both iral~~~~e JCS str.~ssed a si!.:lile.~ point. Although advocab.ing dif!:;erer~t solutior..s, they both. e:.;~:'sized that the Adrlinistration could not e:,:?ect to dissuade i-Ianoi a,r,;,:l :e~:.ir:s fro-I::!. con... f' ...:.,~~~ stro'~· :::-'~'M"":='''' ....'-'._ ~.:> tJ."nued -_............a;;·)ur~,·.;t ... v_ \,I.J.C ~Jj':')'r . , " I S ';"'l"o,..t"'~ _ ..._ .... '" .......... --(".)-tJ ..a..:_.t._ "'c-n" \.,.... W ".. . , , ,. , ..; ...... t . t .. m' '\,"J."tllOU't nazmg corres?o~:C:.:ln3:"'Y s'trm;,3 corzutmenus cxesa s unen, rne JCS, for their ovn reascns , sought to avoid. a cczntt!:!.er.t of ground forces to Vietn~ and ar~~ed ir.ste~d for pa~itive air ~~d n~v~l actions. Rosto;oi' felt that by forceful ar.i ~eani!:gf'ul dco~str&:t.ions of natdone.L resolve, i.Deluding the cClmitr..ent of ground forces to South Vietnm, direct use of f'crce against the CO~l'.i!list nations need be I:lin:iL1.al. ~


.&. t.I

. 37


POLICY D:::CISlm:S ?he efforts of the r:sc :';orking Group were intended to be" com~leted in ?re::aration for a !l:.~jor ;olic~r re''iie~'l late in I:o're:cer 1954. Pla..'1S ver e made for A:"':1bassc:.~cr" 7a:;lcr to return to 'Hashin€;ton fro~'!I. Saigon to join in a series of strategy t:eetings. The expectations 'Were that t~e ~eetinzs ~o~ld result in a Presi1enti~1 action order to supersede the one issued follc~d.!lg the hig~"l-le';el conrerence in Se:;>tecber (NSA!.~ 314). Keetings ,dth the President 1io:::re scheduled for the ":eek follo~.;rin3 IIo.J.• • _ he __ z-etnirned _\.I __ ...L _-Pro'" ....... _ -tJ at U t.he _ vhen hi s '·"orkJ."YlC! holl.·d""T zancb4 . Preli1:1ine.ry :l:eetings bet~ieen i:=.:o!:ssa1or Taylor and tee principal officials from asen~i€s ~ith national se~~rity interests in Sc~theast Asia ~ere held durfng the preceding weekend , 27-29 I~o-ver:i:>er. ~he wnole episod.e took ~l~ce ~ii ~ides?reaa s2ec~~tic~ th~t a n~jo~ policy ch~~ge "as ir:::~iner..t and ruzors that Ta:llor l'lad returned to insist en the boooing of' infiltration targets in l:orth Vietne:m end Laos. Public end Congressiona1 specul.etdoa ran so high' on the eve of the neet~gs thc-.t the ~';hite House ani St~"te Departzaent; ~cu.:;ht to d~pen it "lith state:ents that ~s.~;1 or' s r epcrt ed ccmaents "vere not :dolicytl and t~a::. his return did. not ::le~'1 t~at "a.'1Y great, horrendous decfsfon" "ould.result. 11~1 ... .....:,,_ ---;:;, Ii'h"'Y1}O~~-iviYl=' ~_~

.J. . .




Before their !:.eetings ,·:-ith T~.ylor and the President, the Prinin :'!ashingtcl1 net, to consd.der the ~;or?irlg G:40:l? I s fir.iings end. to ass ess the I":e.jor issues affecting i"olt1.U-e U.S. cour-ses o~ action. Just prior to their initial gatherin~, on 24 :i.-:-ov&1ber, :'iilli6 Bu..."ldy he.d forwaraed a list of questions anj cc~~ents pe~t~ining to the Working Grou~ts find.ings, and these served as a kind of agenda. Included vere such issues as: (1) '\·:hether the relative advantages ezaong the t~ree optior.s vere actually as evident as the group had fotL'ld; (2) whether or not the papers' as se ssnerrt of U.S. stakes in Southee.st Asia shoul.d be revised. in the d.irection of JCS ~ttitudes; (3) whether the actions associated ~nth the various o~tions could in fact be carried out to achieve the results expe~tei; a;d (4) l;hether a de?lo;)'!:1ent of ground forces to South Vietnam v;ould, in fact ;rovide any advantages. 113/ (TAB A) ci~s.ls

a. Consensus JI..mo~g r:sc Officials. As the Principals meeting opened, Secretary Rusk raised an issue that was high acongAdcinistration concerns -- ner...€"ly that. the ;.nericc:n public '.. .a s "t:orried about the chaos in the mm, a~:l particularly ,·:ith respect to its viability as an object qf an increased U.S. co=mdment. Secretar,f 11.cHamara end General l'1heeler conceded the ?Iopriet:i of'this concern but ''larned that the s1tuation in the Gv:': ,;"ould only get 1'!CrSe if' aiiitio11al steps 'Were not te.ken to reverse present trends. Rusk then presented ~ question w~ch seemed basic to the .',

,;no1: rationale for corrtemp'lat.ed U.S. courses of action. He asked whether the situation in South VietZ:2J:l could be ir.lproved in ti!!1e to sere it if tbe D?::V vez-e nov to ':-ithdl:a.·: its support , CLA. Director t·IcCo~e conceded "that the VC vould still have :plenty of cc:.pF..bility r~!="~i!ling but e::-:?ressed the vie·~T that the situ.lltion could be 'Cored 'tdth frc~ the sts.ni;)oint of i.:.terr.~l security criteri::.. At this :poi'r..t Under Secretary of State George Ball asked. if bombing ~;orth Vietn~ could mprove the situation in South Vietna:n directly. :·:cI':ar.1ara replied that it co~ld not wlless the bc=~ing actually cut dC¥fi the infiltration into the South.. A::t'ter agreeing. ,·:ith a nusk ccznerrt that the struggle ~ould be a long one, even with the DRV out of it, the group reached. consensus that South Vietne.m could be made secure, provided the Saigon goverrJ:e~t could maintain itself. 114/ This lias the first of several me-jor 'policy jUdgI:lents r-eached in the course of the meetdng,

other points of clear consensus (';·rith no more than a single dissenting opinion) vere as follm~s: (2)

That the situ?tion in South VietnC!l ~~ould deteriorate furt~er unier Option A even with reprisals, but th~~t there xo.s a "signific8..1'1t chance" that the actions nro'Josed. ~jer liB" or "e" waul::! result in .;..."....,.o~'le.:;- ('!~T'. . .....e r r... ornsnce an• ,.,.'11.,::_ ... .1__ and _ tr""",~·c "'lo~"ib".Letl . . .:>_ an .........':...v_ mproyed. secm'it:,'" situ~tion (GE~cre:e 3all indica-ted doubt) • _~




That any negotiat:::e outccne under O,?tion A (liith . or 'Vlithout U.S. nei;otiating :ps.rtici?~tion) proba.bly 'Would be clearly verse ths..'1'1 under Option B or C.


That it was doubtful {contr-ary to tr-e vie~r expressed in the \'TorkiTlg Grcup paper-s) thJ.t O~tion B 1'iould have t:he best chance of achieYi~3 the fu.11 U.S. objectives (General Wheeler e~~ressed. agre~ent with the Uorking Grou? statetl-:nt).


That the re~uireIl1ent of Option C, "that '"n"e mair~Lain a credible threat of major action vhile at the S~e time seeking to Legotiate, n could be carried out despite acknmiledged pu,blic pressures.


That the Ad:oinistration could. safely aSSUI:le that South Vietnam could "only COI:le apart for morale reasons) and. not in a military sense, II as a result of intensified. VC effort.


That early military actions against ::orth Vietnam under Option C should be detemined.) but 10iV' in .scale ..- tha.t at this stage, .strong dS!llaging actions

, 39

should be limited to reprisals (Genersl 1iheeler dissentej, statir.g that our losses ni~~t be higher in the long run "(lith such an approacb},


That the loss ot: South Vietnem "i70uld. be nore serious tha.'1 stated in Section II of the :';or:ting Gr"Oup' s dra.~ pa~ers ~d that- the Adr~nistration's assessnent should be re7ised at least in the direction of 'Che JCS vie~1?oiI:t (George' Ball argued against this judgment) •. 115/

The contc~:t of the Principals' discussion of this last point contained sene sig11ificent expressions of opinion. Secretary Rusk stated the vie~'~oint tr.s.t the confidence of other nations in the United State.::: ,;·'ould be affecte1 by the loss of Scuth Vietnan des}!ite their possible ir.differer-::e to the political struggle in Southeast Asia. Ee added that if ve did r.otl:ing to affect the CO'Ese of events 1.'1 Viet~a:l it '\'7oul1 have the effect of givir!g nore to de Gaulle. H01'7ever, Rusk did not accept the :'~or}:ing Grou.p' s rations.le that -fie •..-ould obt~in international credit :merely for tryir~g. In his vie~·;, the. herder iie tried ar.d then :faile1, the verse 01:1' situation 1:ould be. :.:cGeorge Bundy d Lsagreed 1:iith this lest point, except to acknovl.edge that to attempt somebhing like Option :3 and tl::=r. q:dt ':0:'111 cle~rly be dG'~~.-:;ing. Secretary i-:c::w:::ra seened to s~]:?ort ---.0""" - - - 0 th"'t. v.o _ . "",,,,,,," ",r ..,.. '''~;'~''''e ";ou;:i t.t-,: (~- .. Geor ge] j::."r.,~v ,-ie'" s+:>ti,..:::, P!~II fo'lo-·''''.:l 1 ""..... errt _twoe._ .; ""-L,;t::.. ....._ ';'h"n '" ..... _ ..... .:... _ "'0 _......J __:.....r·"';se .... ... ... • cIearIv verse OJ.,..J. . .tio. . . C of'oll"·,-=.:l bv a co~;:" <:e++ - ~tl'l st.r onz -"""0""-"'..·.;. '-;':'h "'he ~,.C!'r ncdrrt -oc ,lJ-_ exr .....:,: e ssed _.--t;. c::.c._'--·.. u_ Last c.... _..-_... :1 .... , S-·d~'" ..... Gt:-o"'that de Gau.lle voul.d pcrtre.:l us E.S b·::;i!:g foolish ad. reiteratir..g U:ct the d~e.ge to U.S. prestige ~10ll1i be ver-se if ve tried either n:a" or "c" and. faile:i. Ger.er~l i'~;eeler atated the o?inion tha.t to do little or not:':ing at this podrrt .....ould. be an act of b~i faith. i·~. l·!cCo~e pofrrted out a per?etu~ dile=~~a if the A~~inistratio~ continued to act despite South Vietna::lese deterioration; hence, he 'la"ged great care. 116/ w .. __


.;.,Ju..;. __.,



'..I .....





Iw . . . ...,

•• _







It is interesting to note tr-e·vie~s and associations of the t~o occasional dissenters L~ the series of consensus jUigments rendere~ by the =rir~cipals. General ~:heeler, Chairna..l'l of the JCS, expressed vie.. .~­ :points consistent throughout ~ith the recorded JCS vie~~s on future courses of actdon. On the other hand, George Ball, Under Secretary 01' State, had no obviou~ juris1ictional er institutio~al influences to affect his i~1g­ nerrts •. l';evertt.eless, knovn to A,~";nistration observers as "the devil's advccat,e ," .he had developed' sO!:1ething of a reputation as an independ.ent thir'_'..\,er. At about the tme of the I·jorking Group deliberations, for ex~~?le, he develo~ed a pa~er suggesting U.S. dipl~atic strategy Ll'l the event of an h'!!l{l~ent GVi.': col1a:pse. In it, he advocated i·rorking through the U.K., who \~ould. in turn seek cooperation from. the USSR, in arranging an international conference (of sm~.ller pro;ortions than those at Geneva) at ~·!hich to l'Tork out a comprcndse ];lolitical settle:cent for South Vietnem. 117/ In ad.dition, Ball T s prevalent occupation with European affairs may have influenced him to view Southeast Asia as of lesser importance to the U.S. national interest. •

b. Vie,,:l"s Lacking consensus, Also discussed at the 24 !';ovc:::lber Principals neeting ~ere several iss~es on which conse:.sus ¥as not reached. l~st of these related to ~ediate U.S. actions that ~ould need to be take~ irrespective of t~e o?tior- selected, or t~ ~robl€ns faced in carrying out a parti~uler opticn. Sir.ce earlier aere€~er.ts had ir.dicatea .little interest in Option i\., only "D" and "c" were examined flirther. DiscussioI~E cf Optio1". B dealt !lrirlarily'With questions of the intensity of blo~'s tbe.t mght be st.ruek at l;orth Vietnen. ~-lith respect to i"hether m:v airfield.s shotUd 'be struck early or as a part of a nore gradual se~uence, Ger.eral ;lheeler pointed out that early strikes on airfields were ""hat 1:.:de "E" operations so different. It vas these strikes at potential DRV capabilities to inte~.fexe. '.\ith U.S. attacks, or to retaliate, that nade sj.·st~atic, intensive air operations possible. In response to a specific questdcr, frc:: the ~';orking'Group, the possibility of using nuclear veapcns ~·'as al~o 1iscussed.. Secretary !,!c:~a:r:lara Etated. ~hat he could. not ~agine a case ~here they ~ould be considered. ~~cGeorge 3u=ay o~se~7ed tha~ ur.der certain circ~stances there ~ght be great pr€Esure for their use both !;r~ the ~ilita.ry and. from certain political circles. General \':heeler sta~ei t~a~ he ,·!ould. not nornf.lly vote for their use -- never, for ex~ple, in a.~ interdiction role~ Ho~,ever, he SUe€ested that they night be considered in e:·:t.rem:s -- for exempLe, to hold off an eneny to save a force tr.reate:.ei ~;ith destruction, or to knock cut a s;ecial target lll~e a nuclear ~e~?c~s facility. .In res90~se to Secretary Rusk's q~ery as to their ?oter.tial fer corjo~ir.g off an area, both l·=cI~a."1ara ani ;';heeler ansvered r.ebati~:ely. 118/

Discussions of Optio~ C dealt with the problen of early negotiaand, at greater length, ·..: ith th~t of deplo:ting grcurd forces to So~th Vietn~. On the for.=er, tr.ere ~as little ir.terch2nge r.oted in the proceedings. Des?ite the ~orki~g Group's aicitted. frustration with this particular issue, only t~\·o ?rinci?als' ccaaents ~':E:re recorded. l!cGeorge B"i.U::'iy stated the viel1 that ve should let negotiat.ions ccaae into play slo,,;ly. Secretary Rusk expressed concern that the C'IJ:'; . . ~ould 'be very sensitive on the issue of eo negotiating conference. Earlier, hcvever, he indicatej his opinion that pressure for eo conference would not be a serious problem as long as ~litary actions continued. 119/ tio~s

On the iSS'.2e o:f sending ground. forces to South Vietnam in the early stages of Option C, there '\\as rio firm conclusion. Secretary l·~cr~ara stated that there was no tlilitary requirement :for ground forces and. that he ""oUld. 1>refer a massive air deployment. In response to Ge~eral ~hee1er's suggestion that sc~e ground forces could be justified. :ror air defense and base security pur:pol'es, hp. acknmdedged. that "l~e might do both. II !.jr. !·!cCone statej the opinion that U.S. ground. farces w,ould help stabilize South Vietna.:l, similar to their effect on Lebanon in 1958. They might e-ven provi1e a general security force in the South .. 14c~·:aJ!la.ra disagreed. Secretary Eus}: and 1!cGeorge Bundy suggested their utility in proving a "preemptive effect, 11 presumably to deter l~orth Vietnamese offensive moves into the South. To this l·fcCone added that



forces :nif;.1.t be eoui':roed. in ways to show O".ll" dete!'!:lination. In the end, it vas e,~e~;j, to raise this issue '\-1ith ;'''':bassa-ior Taylor, at "the ?rinci})als next =eeti~3. Significantly, t~e value of grounj, forces as a ba:ogainL:.g CO'.;::ter apparently was not disc'llsse:i, thus providbg one more indica-l-ion of the Principals reticence to deal with the issue of negotiations. (It is interesting to note in this respect that \:!ilUam B'U.'ldy's I.:e=.cran1:=:1, formally s~..;;J.arizL'1g the points of consensus and. disagreement, does root deal ,,'ith the early negotiating proble:J. -despite its being a s:;ecific agend.a item which he had suggested as Chail'ma.'l of the ~:orking Group.) 120/ .. ~he onl~'

basic issue bet"t~een the options on 1:hich the Pri:,~i?e.ls did not arr::~-e at a consensus '...as the question of the relative ris}:s of najor conflict entaile:i by Options 3 and C. General r.-lbeeler statea. that there -"",as less risk or a major conflict before achie"ling success 'o,Z.ier 03'tion B than 14'1~er Op'cio!l C. Secretary !·!cl':e=.ara belie~/ei the o:P?os·~te ':.0 be true. 3ecrei.;ar:{ :;iAsk a.r2;'Ued that i f "E" vere selected., thee ,\"oulJ. be 110 chance to e,:;:pl:,.- t~~e JCS variant of "c, It \':nereas under t:~e lrorkiP-g Grou:f) f s "C," this . .·:ould still be left available. ire observed '~nat e:!try ir.to the JCS variant of "c" would feel something like the Cuban" iS3ile .ra sas, :·:c:~E.:":!.ara. then suggeste::l a four-l':eek progI"a:l or actions follmdnz the ge-r..eral :f)attern of Optior. C. l":r. KcC~ne stated ~.hat they' sounded "i'ir.e, t1 but th~t in his opinio:l the "negotiatir.g !:';)oi" interfere::l ~ith their ?ote~tial effects. He agreed to atte~t a p~?er to deal uore direct~y with the relation of risk to likely success, as betveen the t·.. .o optdons , In the end, the o!1ly cc:':cl'l:.sion that coul:" be dravn ves that there 1-;as not cO::l,lete asree:c..:>rrt tl'lat "Btl ran a hig:.er risk of major conflict than "e," as allegea. b;r -the t·rorking Group. 121/ During the neetdrig of 24 l':ovetber' there vas no clear decido:! as to which o:f)tion was fa~rored by the Principals. It seems likely that "A" vas favorEd by Ball. '\-;heeler clearly favored. "B, II ani he t1aY have had. sUPP';,rt frC!:l :·rcCo~e, e.ltho"..lgh this is far fro::l clear. On the 'basis of either their participa.tion in the i!orking Group or from stclteI:ler.ts of preference ma1.e at the Ileeting, it is clear that tiC" was favored by l!c~::a.~ara, ~,!cl:aughton, Rusk, and the Bun1.y brothers. Ho~·,ever l~cGeorge Bundy and r.Zc~·~enara app~rer.tly preferre:l a "firm C, It '''hereas the o-:~er t}1..ree 'Wa'lted a nore rest.ramed, .i,nc:r:em~ntal approach. 122/ c. Policy Vie""rs from Saigon. The same group of Principals that met on the 24th re-assembled. on 27 ilovember for their first neeting with P.J:J.basse.ior Taylor. Present also was 1-:ichael Forrestal who had gone to Saigon to help prepare TCI¥lor for the forthcOl:li.ng strategy ::leet:'ngs and to app":ise hil:l of the "i·jorking Group ~fforts. 123/ 'i'aylor led off with a prepared briefing on the current state of affairs witmn South Vietnam. ". " .'. . ~',~.',:. . :.:';' Ambassad.or Taylor's estimate of the situation in South Vietnan was rather bleak. Confirming ma.ny of the assessments made weeks earlier •


1.'1 intelliger:~e est bates , he reported. continued. aeterio:::, tio:J. of the pacific:=..:'ion progr<i.":1 ani ccnt Inued l\eak..~ess in the cerrtr al, goverr,=.e:..t. The !or..::e= ~..as :;crtr:yei as related. to ir..cre~sea direction and s:uppor'ti of VC o;eratio::s frc:::! nar!oi ani L"'lcreasing 'Ie strength despite "very ;,.....-.." Losses ''''~;--w. Part1.·cul~'" are"'s of . :- ... c ~~""~c+"'d. a'?"o~t da1.·ly" b~J .&.I.,e Iw.. .-_.... c:....._ ... concern •..· ere iie:l'tif'iei as the area surroundfng Saigon ~d. the northern ,provil:ces, whic~ vere "r.o~( in deep trouble. II Taylor relate:' Gv:r '.. eekness to :p,)litical factionalism, mountzing 1Io-ar "'"eariness and ho;.elessness, "particularly i:: -:'l1e urban areas, fI ani a leek of "team play or mrtua), loyaltyl' c=.ong :!.~:f ::entral and provincial officials. CalliI:g such chronic veakness lie. .-::::i tice.l liability to future plans, II he ~'i'arned that lack cf an effec'ti".,-e central goverl'l.ment caused U. S. efforts to assist South Viet:!:;.::. to have little mpact. 124/ ._-~"J




To alter the course of what Tayler called "a losing game in South Viet:la=, It be reco=en:ied. three neasurese (1) "establish an adequate ~o·"-er!"~e.::t"; (2) i':.~N7e the cou"'lteri~~sU:'ge::c:r effort; e.r;i (3) "per-suade or force the ~E.~lll to stop aB.ing and directing the Lnsurgency, ~'ii th respect to the fi!"st, Taylor 2.11o~·:ed that it \'e.s "hard to decrde 'What is ~he tlini:!t".:.':1 b07er~ent which -is necessary to pemit reasonable hope" of . success. F.o~;e·/e.!", he statei: " ••• it is hs.ri to visualize our be1:lg willing to ::l'ke ad.:iea out.Lays of resources ani to ri.L"l increasing political risks 'W:~~o~t an allie:i gV7err~er.t ~tich, at least, C~"l speak for a:li to its :people, can t1s.:'r.ltain la,·; and order in the prin~iFal cities, can prov~:ie local protection for the vital milit~:{ bases and installatior:~, can raise a."ld. support ~ei Fcrces, and. can gear its e:'forts to those of the . United states. _~ytbi!:g less than this ",~o-.lld hardly be a goverzaerrt at all, and under such. circi:::lsta."lces, the Ul".itc.1 states Go"v·errJ:le~t night do better to carry for-;:a.rd the '~ar on a purely ur.ilateral basis. 1-:ith zegard to the cOil."!terinsurgency effort, he opined, ~uch better th~ ~hat we are doing at present until the mpro"/es." 12.5/


cannot; do


.Al!lbassad.cr Taylor sa,( U.S. military actions directed. at the DRV as fulfilling a t,-:ofold. purpose. OL the one h~, he belie",,-e·i that even if an effective gover~ent were established, "~e will not succeed in the end unJ.ess ve drive the TIRV out of its reinforcing role and obtain its cooperation in bringing an end to the Viet Cong insurgency." On the other hand, he sau actdons ot.i.tside South Vietnatl as a means to improve GVl: morale and confi:ience. Ackno~deiging that using our aid, advice and encouragement en behalf of programs to stabilize the government 'Would probably be insufficient for this purpose, he suggested adiitional measures: "One '".lay to accomplish this lift of morale would be to increase the covert operations against I;orth Viet l;am by sea.

and air ad tr.e cClL."'lterinfiltration attacks 'Within the Laotian corridor. 1·:hile the for~er would be covert •••knoio:ledge ot ... their occurre~ce could be ~aie kno~n •••to give the morale lift 'Which is desired.. Additiol~ally we could engage 111 reprisal· bO!:'lbings, to repay outrageous acts of th; Viet Cong in South. Viet 1:21:1•••• II ... ·HO'/iever, he ad:ied. that even all thesE' actions night not be su..f'ficient the ,:present gcvernnerrt upris1?-t, II in ,.. hich case '".\"'e 1~ould have to reconsijer our :f01icies. Our alternatives, he said, wo~ld be either to SUP:90rt one feo or another of a re!>le.ce!:1ent gcverrment or to "limit our contribution to Irllitary action directed at north Viet-I~a:!l." 126/

. .-to- hold

In adiition to the military ect ions already identified with fDol;'ale-raisins purposea, ~a~'lor suggeste:l: "•••'We could. begin to escalate progressively by atta.cki.'lg appropriat.e targets in l!orth Vi~t-:~e:1.: !fwe justified our action prbarily upon t~e need to reduce irlfiltratio!l, it would be nat.u-al to direct these attac}:,s on infiltration. rela.ted. targe~s.· such as staging areee , training facilit.ies, ec::r.l'.lnicaticns centers and the lik€:.... Ir.. . tts final ~orms, . this kini of e.ttack coul:! ext end to tte destr1.lction of all mportant fixe:!. targets in ;:orth Viet-:~t:: and to the inter.. .d1.· ,..+. .,.......• r. ';ca+:; OT\. 1?7/ ---i 0'"- -- ""C·,rc.w:e>,.,+ - _ ......... "',., _.- I'l--i 1 -H nes 0'"......,...-:-• -.. 1").. ..

.Pnbassa:lor Taylor' s



· . ·:.~ch escalat9ry actions should be ·


regariing the circ'lJ!llsta."lces under which initia~ei ~ere,?ot entirely clear iri his

to the Prir:cipals. After reiteratin,g the'necessity--of 'steppir;g Laos ;ari::l \U1:lertaldng reprisals. • ·p.art of the efforts to raise morale ad, strengthen the cvr, he" stated. .....'t;'Wo sene.. : hat different, altho·.lgh not necessarily contre-dictory: vie,.~o1nts -on the question of stror.ger military actio~s: .

'tip the 34A operations, increasing those in




"If this cour-se of' action is inaieCluate, and the govern.. ment falls, then r:e !l'!1st stert over again or try a nell approach.... In an..r case, ve should be prepared for emergency military action against the rjorth if only .to shore up e. collapsing situation. ' . :;, .. ' "If, on the other hand••• the governaent .maintains and proves itself, then we should be prepared. to eI!lbark ona metho3.ical progI'2l:l o£ J:1ounting air attec.lts in order to accO!!lplish our pressure objectives vis-a- vis the D:aV•••• "

· <He, then proposed a scenario for controlled. escalation, the e.ction~ in which .::jl~~.e quite s:i:!ni.lar to an extended Option A or a low-order Option C without .-'4~clared negotiating willingness. 128/ . . !"fl.'"

• 44

. The i!:pression is that Taylor visualize1. graduated air opera· tions having pri.":larily psychological :iI:lpact on the r:orth following · logically frcl:l successruf political efforts in the South -- but that ' he also ~·:ar.:.ted an (perhaps scmevhet s'tronger ) air campafgn held in . re.a~iness as a !uniti'le measure in the event {'f a critical reversal in the South. This inpressicn is strengthe~ej by his earlier co=c;nt about U. S. alternati"l-es end by the secor-a of "three principles It which he reco"!j'llended to tbe Princi,Pals: "a. Do not enter into negotiatio~s. until the DRV is hurting. lib. Hever 'let the DRV gain a victory in South without having paid a disproportionate price.


c. Keep the aVE in the forefro!1t of the combat and the negotiations." 129/ II

Involving the G'VT: in all phases of our operations was an imllortant aspect of the Alnbassador r s t!ii!l.kir:e about next courses of action. He stressed that before :tla.".ting a final decision on the course 'We "rould follol~, it 1:'ould be necessary to obtain t~e reactions of Prilr.e?-Iinister Huong and General Khanh to OlU' vardous alterr:atives. He ex:plained: "The;\'" will be t~ing on risks as great or greater than ours so that they hav E:: a rigtt. to a serious heardng, ~':e should make e'lery effort to get the::n, to ask our help in expa.'lding the 'War. If the~~ deelir.e, ve shall have to re.thin.it the \;hole situation. II tllf, as is likely, they uge us, tl Taylor ai1ed., ve shou'ld take ad.vantage of their enthusiaS!:!. "to nail· dovn certain ir.portant points It on 1;hich we want t~.l.ei.r 2.gTeement. Included 1o;ere m~; 'Dledzes to maintain !:lilitary an~-'police' str'enE;th~ to re:;:lace incCI:l!lete;t officials, and to su:p:press disorder an~ agre~ents to stipulate~ divisions of responsibility for conJucting J:li~itary operations. 130/ Taylor 1 S briefing nade clear his cor.::litment to liI:lited U~ S. objectives in Southeast Asia and his believe In the necessity of assuring the DRV of this limitation•. Further, he mad.e explicit his expectation that the DRV 'Would not accept U.S. offensive actions '~rithout some intensified military ree.ctio:l in the South and. that any DR\,· submission to our denande might well be tec,Porary. d. Discussions 'lith Ambassador Taylor. Following the briefing, ·the Principals c~ented on a nt.miber· of the .Ambassador 1 s observations and discussed further the question of future courses of' action. Secretary Rusk asked what could be done to make the GVi: perform better: Taylor. replied tha.t he must be able to convey a strong message but that we

could..'1't threaten the Saigon government. " For exaJ:lPle, a thx'eat" to ",.,ithdra\1 unless" ~ou1d be II quit e a gmble." .The ·issue ot neutralism was ra.bej aed. "f~bassad.or· Taylor notei tha.t I neutra.liSJ!l.' as it existed in Saigon a!>peared to mean thro~dns the internal political s1tuation .open and thus iraitins·Communist partici;ation." Mr. Ball observed that a neutralist s't;ate could not be n&intained uDless the VC were .defeated ~d that the cm~ must continue to .be free to receive external aid until that occurred. Therefore, "r.eutra11sm in the sense of withdrawalof external.assistance" did not seen to be a. hopeful alternative. In apparent. reply to Taylor's briefing ccnaerrts to the effect that the United states might continue military action against l";orth Vietnam despite a. GV::ieolle.pse, Rusk commented ttat he "couldn't see a unilateral war lt 1.'1 this event. Taylor indicated that he meant "only punitive actions. II Se~etary Mcl;amara agreed \o!1th Rusk, but added that if the GVi; continued to veaken 'We '\\ould need to try Option C or A. "The consensus was that it·was hard.to visualize continuing in tr~se circumstances /J.f t~e GV!! collapsed or toB. us to get ouff, but that the choice tlust certainly be avoided. if at all possible. II 131/ . After "s. discussion of some of the a:b:dnistrative problems In " the GVIr, IIAmbassador Taylor noted. tha.t General i-7estmoreland had prepared a report of the military situatio,!;,t1 in South Vietr.en. (The report "las later distributed. to the group.) Ee:indicatei that· 't;·;estr.oreland vas generally nore optimistic t1':.an" he (T~rlor) II and .that he sa~ better norale, increased defectio~sar.d the like. as. signs of iln?ro"{t;~:ent ·in the t1ilitary situation. Further, he statei that "'tlestmo..t"ela:id .,,~ouli be inclined to ~ait six nontns before taking further actions in order to have a firr.,er base for them. Ho~·;ever. Taylor ajied . "tt.at "he taI:self did not belie'Ve that ':e co"J1d count, on t!:.e situation holding t.ogether that lor-g, and that ve I:lust do sOlIlething sooner than this." Secretary l-!cl~tmara also df sagreed "t:ith 1-Jestnorela.'"l·i I s view, expressir.g dO'J.bt~ that t}\e military sit1.:..a.tion '-;ould ir.1prove. In answer to specificq,uestions, Ncl!anara stated his opinions that (1) no, the political situation would not beccsee stronger, but (2) yes, ve voult;! be justified' in undertcld.ng·Option C even if the political situation did not mprove.Taylor replied that "stronger action ,.;-ould definitely have a fa~lOrable effect" in South VietfJ&:l, "but he lias not sure this wo't:.ld be enough really to mprcrve the situation. II Otters, inclJ,lding ~icI~amara, agreed with TayJ.or' s evaluation, but the Secretary added that "the strengthenir.g effect of Option C could at least buy time, possibly' measured in years. It 132/ . .. Ambasseior'Taylor then urged. that "over the.next tvo months we ado;p1; a progl-aof Option A plus the first stages of Option C." He argued that the G1i~ l.'as badly in need of some "pulmotor ~reatment," ·that any other alternative 'Would probably result in a worsened situation -- perhaps mlitarily. He added. that the likelihood of Gvr~ improve1rient seemed so doubttulthat live should. mcrte into C right s.wa:y." Secretary . Rusk asked if Option C wouJ.d give Taylor the "bargaining leverage"


needed withtheG0/2:. The hnbassador replied 'bY' suggesting ceri;aindetails of the message he voulj, pro1Jose passing to the Saigon government. In effect. these calle:1 for the Gvr: to agree to the kin:! of internal policies and cmJ:la.."ld c-range!!l.ents suggested in. his briefing, in return for eo pJ:a:npt U. S. mp:'..emente.ticn of "O~tion A plus" ani ackno'Wledgt:l.ent of the . ·intention to go f'..:rther if the GVr stabilizei itself. 133/ It is important to note t~a.t. the otficialmemora..l'ldU!n of the foregoing discussion iJIlplies agrement eJ:!:Ong the Principals that Option A plus early stages of' C shoul.d be rec~nded. The I1emorand~ states, "It vas urged ~hat • • • II and lito get 'What iI:prcr/ements 'We could·.1t 'Wa.s thought that we should move into some parts of C soon." . There fol1o~ea a discussion of the ir~iltration evidence, during which }.!r. !.IcCone indicated that an intelligence· team had made a further investigation of it. IIIt was agreed that. State and Defense should check state- .

ments maie by Secretary Rusk, Secretary :.!c~:mara, -and General liheeler on this SUbject, so that these could be related. to the previous l·!.~CV. ~d other estimates ar.d a 1'ull explanation develc~ea of hov these earlier estinates hai been made and why they ha:i been "I.-rong in the liSl?-t of fuller e-,,1dence. 1t 134/ Before the meeting e.:!journed (~';ith agree:lent to neet again the ne..~'t day), ')JIlbassa:1or ':La;rlor raisei a numoe.r or questions which he thought the ~'Torki!:g Grou.p papers he.:l not ccver;j ad.equ.a.tely (TAB B). Or.lly a~'re'W receiv~a. ansvers during the tleeting, and he agreed to furnish the Pr1nci!>8J,s,dth the ca.=plete list. HOi'~ever, 1t was indicated that Option B or C co~d be ir.itiated from e list and-kg start" -~. presma.bly with no incide:lts necessarily occurring first. ~he GV1~ were ac..~o",;J.edged .'t9. have "pler.ty or. capabilities" to participate -- even before arriving .·a:t""":me""!intertded four-sq.-",edron strength of A-l aircraft.. It was stressed that the Vt.7P:F role would be in north Viet..l'laJ:!. enly· -- not in Laos -- and Secretary Nci7e!:le.I'a indicated. a strong role for the:n against targets below the 19th Puallel. Finally, a time-span ot three to six months was indicatei as the expected duration for Option c. 135/ the follo~'ing day, "-"hen the Pri.'1cipals reassemble:!, 1'1illiam Bundy circulated a. draft. scenario of actions 'proposed in tbe eve~t a decision were made toun~erta.1te measures like tl1.ose conta.1ne.d· in. Option A. It had. been agreed at the ~nd. or the initial ~eeting that these woul.d be revie,,~ed by th~_group 'With the ass\mption that they could be implemented. "with or ld.thout a decision to move into the full Option C program at some t:t.me thl'reatter." 136/ (It is import.... nt to note how readily the attention of the ?rincipaJ.$ focused. on the si:nilarity of preparatory actions and early military measures in the various options, apparentJ.y without regard. to the particular negotiating rationale which each option ,incorporated.) Bundy's scenario of early military, :political and diplomatic actions was based on a simila,r assumption "tha.t a decision is or is not !.ioing to biJ taken to go on with Option C thereafter if Henoi does, On

not ben~ or the mrr. eeae a!lut. n He indicatei, hOi:ever, that the 1':orking Gr~u:? believe:! "that at least a contingent de::isior: to go on is no't\ requJrei. n To facilitete d.iscu~sion on the pert of tee Principals, 'Work. sheets in~iicatil:g proFosel Ianguage or procedures "ere distributed., to . include the foll.:r.dng action categories. 137i .




U.S. public action

a. 1'7hite House stetement fo1lo".,"ing 1 December meeting b. Backgro1.Ll1d briefing on infiltration c. .Co.:lgressional consultation d. l·Iajor ?residential speech e. Public report on infiltration 2.

Consulta.tion with the GVK


Consultation. with key allies


C~uni.cations vdth COI:nnunist nations

5. Existing i'or:n.s or mlitary actions (inc1ud:L"'lg recon.. nai.ssaace end. RU.F strikes in Lacs , GVF ~aritime

0rerations, etc.)

6. Reprisal 2.ctions resulting from.

D::: 5070 Patrols and


7• Addei 1!dlitary end. other actions Certain of these topics received nore at.te~tion then others in the course of tr.e ;:eeti!~g, with eJ:lpoasis bei!::; ~lacei on "spelling out" the exact steps that the Principals would be aski~g the President to approve. 1'7ith res;-ect to actions aimed. at the U.S. pUblic, :.~cGeorge Bundy sbressed that the Presidential speech J:lllst both (1) affirm U.S. determination ani (2) be consistent 1dth the i~!'iltration evidence. General 1'~heeler state:i that earlier infiltre.tio:l reports could be defe.'"lded because of their E:le.ll data base ani suggestei that tte discrepancies could be used to e~le.in how the VC opere-tea. It vas determined that one man' should. be put in charge of assembling the aveile.b1e infiltration data' for public release, e.!:.i Chester Cooper was suggested for the job. lUth respect to coord.ination.with the Gi[·!, Ambassaior Taylor pointed out the need· to prepare a draft statement to the GVl.'Y tor the President t s review and agreed to prepare a table' of the specific GV·~'T actions needed. Sec;retary Rusk f.cl"..no;:lejged. the possiblE desil'e.bility or delaying until GVl~ leadersbip .issues vere resolved., but that "anything now 'Would cauae problems. tI Mr. E~l reminded. that it would. be necessary to query the " GV!.( regarding release of some of the infiltratio~ evid.eJlce.133j. .

.. ,.,

.: ~.


and other related actions ver e also discussed: Secretary Rusk i.Tldicatei the need to surface. the GV?! maritime operations, and Ambassaior ?eylor sug~estei that they ar.i ot~er morale-raising ac~ tions CO\lld be r.aie public "in one package .. " In discussing the possible , .need for adiitiCl!~al airfields in the northern :part of SO\lth Vietnam, it was pointed. out t11at a nell jet field might te!:e two years. Secretary Mcii;'amara said he thought there \fere enough fields to suppcrt Option C no,,; it certain readil~l accessible improvel:lents vere added.. He and. the generals ('~':heeler ar.d. TaJ'lor) r~inde:1 the grou~ that stopping the 1:lOvement of U.S. de,?e:l1ents to South Vietna.":1 or ":ithdra"ling those already there could. not be concea'Led and. that this :problem must be resolved promptly -- cert.ainly \dthin the initial 30 days. Taylor cautioned. that actions regaro.i::g de;endents could not be taken until our i"ull CO"JI'se was decid.ed, presmably because or :potential G'":t..: fears of a U. S. withdra\·:al. The question of' reslZ!!ed. DE SO'l'O Patruls was raised. "lith the reminder that Cr::CPAC vanted the:a for intelli£ance purposes. Taylor, l-ic!,ra,mara and :·:cGeorge Bu~jy opposed the i1ea, 'While General ~':heeler strongly sup:fort.ei it. i:otes of the I:leeting ir.d.icate resolution to the effect that the ::patrols should !,ot be zesuned d.uriI~g the first 30-day perio·i. It vas also agreed. to reconaend joint U. S/GVi! planning of reprisal actions and. of further escalatory neasures , 139/

At some point dur-ing the neet.ir.:.g it ...·~s.s d.et.ermined. that Uilliam Bundy ,,:ould U!.jJ.erta;:e preparation of a d.raft roe-tiona1 security action paper con.tainir:g !lolic~' g'.ll1ance for the e.?prcaching j;leriod. The pap:r ,.-as tQ;.· d.escri"te the stra:tegic concept, out1i!".e t~e actions to be taken during th; initial 3C-day ~erioi) and iuiicate lli:ely follc~-on measures and. the conditio!ls u..: der '\o:hicb they rdght be i.-:.?l;.~er~ted. It vas decided that the paper \:ould. be revi e...:ed at another meeting of the Principals on 30 r;ove..":l"cer, before su'b::li.ssion to the President. A \ihite House meeting had been sche!uled for the follo·",.ing day. 140/ On ~he ai'ternoon of the 30th., in Secretary Rusk t s conference room, the Pri."'lci:?als mat again. Bundy's draf't pt.:per had been distributed. to them earlier after being generall~t e.?provei (re format) by Rus.lt and revie1·:ed for substance by Messrs. };1c::au€hton and. Forrestal. 141/.

In describing the basic concept, the :paper presented U.S. objectives as "unchanged," altr..ough giving :priI:lary e~phasis to our ams in South Vietna!!l. rlo~-1ever, getting the DRV to rer.ove its support and direc- . tion from the insurgencj' in the South, and obtaining their ccope!,a~~~n·· ..' in ending VC o:9arations there, vere listed cu::;,o::g the basic objeCtiv~s' "'." -- not presented. as a strategy for attaining them. The o~jectives were to be pursued in the first 30 days by neasures. including those contained in Option A, plus U. S. armed. route reccnnai.asance operations in Laos. They "'''ere liJl.ked. vith .AJ:lbassador Taylor I s ra.tionale that these actions would be intendei prmarily "to help aVE morale and to increase the costs and. strain on Hanoi. II Th.e ·concept also included Taylor I s ~phasis on •


. • v~~ ......... ", '~, .....


: ','


. 49

pressir;g the G;V;7 to nake i.tsdlf ncre effective !..:.~d to push fOl"\:ard its pacification etforts. For the period be~·cr.d tr.e first 30 days, the concept provided that st-;nc-.se acticr:.s ~ay be co::.tiLued l:ithout chapae, or ad:l,itio:..e.l military neasuree r..;;.j' be taken including the ,dth1r~:al of de~enients a..~d. the ~ossible initiation of st.ri}:es a short distance across t1:e bor.ier against the infiltration routes frc:n the D3V. In the latter case this ,\>:o;D.d. beccne So t.r~'1sitior;al p;:~se. II 142/ n ••• fiI

The kind or actior.s that the trar:si tion "louJ.d lead. to "lere described in a carefully qUalified manner: n ••• if the GVi:: impro'les its effectiver.ess to an acceptable de~ree ~i

Eanoi dees not yield on acceptab~e te~sJ or if the GVi; can O:lly be kept gcir~g by strc::ger action, the U.S. is prepared -- at So t:une to be deter::i!.. ed -- to erJter into a second phase prograr.l ••• of gre.1~at;i r-.d.litary pressures dire:ted syste."':latically against the J:.?.Y. II The concept cO:lt.inued \rith a r.i:~t.ure of s:':irses'tei actions and rationale ""1ar +.0 1:.~;;'", . ~.&. In C" -. aar " s'tr~J:;~ .., ,~" Sl.."'U ptaon C• :'d1e i:OU1'· J. oe Itprogress i ve..., more serdous" ard "a i j ust ed to the situatio£:." I: ~he expected duration .n. ·as l·r:d.l·c~"e.:l ::\ +0 ...."",;v • _w.,i. "s 1:~C:Sl'"'''' J:'-...._ ..v r"""'l'~'" _ ....... _;'r-¥'~ \J .... ...... 1Iw··...... _ l ntns 11 1tr.l1arre"ts in tkie D~1V -",:o;,o,ld. start l,ith i::filtr~tio:"~ i.e.!"bC:s ~O:.lt~ of' the 19th ParallEol and \o·or?:. u? to tal't;.:ts r~orth of tl:.;.t :;:oint.1: The approach would. -ce steai:i' an=1 deliberate, to give tte ~f,it:::i states the option lito proceed or r.ot, to escalate or nct, a:.i to C2,ticken the :pace or r.ot. n It conclu1ed. ,dth the follo.. : ing: "



te,; ••



"Concurrently, the U. S. "Wo'~li be alert to a:!ly sign of yielii~g by r~a..~oi) a.r~d \:ould be }:!'c:;:s.rei to explore negotiated solutio.,s that attain U. S. objectives in an acceptable I:.ar..ner •. The U.S. '·lOuld seek to cOf.ltrol a.tly fJegotiat.ions and "Would oppose e.r:~.. ir.5.e:;e:dent South VietneJ!i.ese efforts to negotiate." 143/

Bundy's draft liSA!·! e.lso included e. o'..=ation of the recOIa:I.ended JOS alternative concept ani a brief descripi:ior. of the various l:li~itarYJ political and. diplO!::atic measures to be ta}:e~ during the first 30 ·ia.ys following imple."?lentation of the concept. Significantly, the l.atter included reprisal actions "preferably within 24 hours" for a wide range of specified. va provocations. It also ccmt.:'.i:~ei e. s1?ecific provision that D~ SOTO Patrols ",.o\11d not be resuned during the initial 30-aay . period, but 'Woul.d. be considered for the follo,,"-on period. In the documents a.vailable there "as no record of the proceedings of the 3I1eeting on 30 liovember. The only evidence available was

the r..otations appearing on the original draft KS.~·I, filei with other p!;p~rs frOtl the i.Se ~':orking Group at the Sta.te Department. Therefore,. the follo\ling asses~ent of whet occurred is limited to inferences t'rO::l that s:9arse e'lidence. ~-ioreo.,er, based on this evidence, it is not a.bsolutely certain that the changes indicated came as a result of the Principals meetir:.g~ " Several changes apparently '-lere mad.e in orier not to ask the President to 'co::oit himself· 'lumecessE':ily (e.g., the languase was 'changed. fr~ "take" to "resume" a specific action in the second phase to "be Pfepared to take," etc.). Others had policy ~1!lplications. The only sig:di'ica:'1t change in the first category vas to reaeve any reference in t.he title to rs.~·! and to call it merely a ltposition pa;er. 1I In the latter category, several changes seem si£nii'icant. For example, keeping the G"l:'~ going through the effects of stror.ger U. S. action vas deleted as one of the circumstances und.er llhich. ve tight initiate a program of Ugraiuatei milit·ary pressures" against the DR'!. Apparently based. or. Secretary Ecr e.!lara•s c<:mi!!lent, rererence to the Unitei state s seeking to control' the negotiations and blockL"lg South Vietnamese efforts in this direction '\\as re:.oved. . The sum:uary of JCS Yie\\'s was also re..'I'loved. from. the concept, in effect presenting a united. front to the Pl'esident. Fran the des~ri:?tio:1 of 30-d.~y actdons , all re rereuce to the intent to publicize ir.filtration eviience or present it to al~ied ani Congressior.el leai~rs vas eli!:!.ins.te~, inclu~ing t he il1tet~tion to link reprisal actions to Il?V ird'iltration to develop "e co:-.:.-::.on threai of justification. rt Also remo;'ed 'Was referenee to a I:lajor Pre::>ider.tial speech, a:;>parently on :the advice ot~~cGeorge Bund.y. lli-4/


Although there is a bare Idr.ilr:~ of raticmale or explanation for these changes in. the available evi:le~lce, the pattern describei by the char.ges thelaselves is significc-.nt. In ei'fect, Option A along with the lo~est order of Option C actions ~ere being recommended by the Principals in a ~nner that would re;resent the least possible additional co=J:dment. This represented. a considerable softening of the positions held. at the. end. of the first Principals I:leeting, en the 24th. It also represented. a substantial deviation fran the findings of the \';orking Group. It will be recallea that the grou!l conceded Option.A little chance of con.tributing to en i:."'l:pTo·.,rei GY.: and sav its likely mp!!.ct on SouthVietm::::.esc :i..orcle as no nor-e lasting tha:l the effects of the Tonkin Gulf reprisals. !.:oreover, even extended "All vas . believed. "at best n to be capable of little more than an :i:l!lproved U. S. position -- cer-tainly not of a mee..'1ingful settlement. 145/ In effect, the' Princil)als "ere :returning to the initial concept of Option C held in the t;rorking Group by. Bundy, .Jol".nson and }.1c!·'!aug.hton -- but withou.t the initially flexible attitude towa.rd national interest and objectives in Southeast Asia.. ' .



. 51

It ·is ir~ortant to considel' the factors that '1:1ay have brought abo'J.t the cb~ge. (i) It nay have resulted a.s a reactioll to the . persuasbeness of' General Taylor's argureel'lts. (2) It "!:lay have repre•. sented. a genuine tlellmdng ofin1.iviiiue.l vie'i'POirJ.ts after the opportunity to cor:si':er other jUd~ents and '\-:eigh t..ll the factors. (3) It ... may have resulted.. frO!ll the Principals' uneasiness \r;ith the negotiatL."lg track inclu~ed in Option c. (4) It r..a'j ha...e reflected. concern aver public pressure tor harsher neaaures that could have resulted. fro:n too much pt:'Jlic e:l;Phasis on the increased. infiltr.ation. (5) It may have rez>resentei a.."l att~t to enhance the chances of the President I s apz>roving sonekind 01' stepped up U.S. action outsid.e of South Vietna!ll. ,·ath regard. to the latter) }.IcGeorge Eundy, as the P~esiient's Assistant for r:aticnal Security. Aftairs, vas in a position to cO:1.vey ?resident J o1'.n . soa t S l:lood to the group. .!.!oreoyer, not es taken at the Ubite House meeting tend to cor.1'irm that the President's mood was ~ore closely akin to the measures recCIilt1ended than to those in Option B or fuil. Option C. Then ·8.gain, it -may be that all of these factors operate:! 0:1 the Princi:pals in same x:easure. Also significant, in the series of discussions heli by the Principals, ,..as their·· e.ppe.z'er.t lack of attention to the policy issues relate:! to negotiations. Def.,ite the fact that Option C neasures "..ere st i]?'J.lat. ed for the second. phase of U. S. actions, the earJ.:r negotiating ~ost~tre intenieito acco~pauy tt.~t o~tio~ ~as ap~are~tly :paid. little heei. Accorair.g to the neeti!).,,; notes, the only refere:lce to our bargair.ing ca~ability .....as Secretary ?us:~ t s concern as to ~. .hether Option C actions ~:ou.ld. enable Amb5:.ESa.lOr :::a.y.3,or to barsain in Saigon. PJ:long the docunents fron the Principals J!leeti~bs, the only reference to Hanoi's interest in negotiating occurred in Eun~~" s draf't ~.;s.~~.~, ,·:here he reflected appuent A~stration expectatdons th:..t .after =:ore serious pressures vere applied. the DRV 1\'ouli nove first in the q'J.est for a settle."=lent. 146/ In retrospects the Princi:9als appear to ha.ve assumed rather 10\'1 motivation on the part of the DRV. Either this or they 'Were overly o;ptimistic regarding the threat value of U.S. military might, or both. . For exenple, A.-nbassador Taylor's perception of ho~'; a settlement might be reached. -- 'Which apparentl~· prod.uce·d. little ur.fe."lorable reaction ~ong the otr.ers -- indicat~i the ass~~ption that DRV concessions to rather ~ajor denands could be obtaine1. with relativelyyeak pressures. In his suggested. scenario (ackn01dedged. as "very close n to the concept accepted by the ,Principals), 147/ the U.S. negotia.ting posture acceapanyL."lg a serie:: of a.ttacks, 'j'ijDited to inf'il~ration targets "just north of' the DZ.!Z, n \!as inten:ied to be as follo"liS: . n ••• in absence of pUblic statements by DRV, initiate no public statements or pUblicity by ourselves or GVii. If DRV does make pUblic statements, confine ourselves and . o·

• • ~~

GVH to statements that GVU is exercising right of selt-: ' defense and we are assisting •••• disclose to selected . allies, and possibly USSR, u.s./aw·terms for cessation of atta~ as follows: A.

Demands: l.DRV return to strict observance 'of 1954 Accords with respect SVri -- that is, stop inflltrati~n . and bring about a cessation of VC armed insurgency.


In return: 1.

U.S•..will return to 1954 Accords with respect to military personnel in GW and GW would be. willing to enter into trade talks looking toward nOl'!nalization of economic relations between DRV and GV:N.


SUbject to faithful compliance by DRV with 1954 Accords, ~.S. and GVIi would give assurances that they not use force or support the use of force by any other party to upset the Accords with respect to the DRV.


• ••the GVH would permit VC desiring to do so to return to the ,..DRVII without their arms or 'iould grant amnesty•••

Taylor went on to~uggest that "if and when Hanoi indicates its accep-" tance" the United States should avoid (i) the danger of a cease-fire accompa...'lied by prolonged n~gotiations and (2) t~making conditions SQ stringentll as to be impracticable. 1481 , . ,f." P

Significantly, the terms were t~ be conveyed to Hanoi privately. They did not constitute a declaratory policy in the usual sense of that term. Hence, it must be assumed that they would be presentei to the DRV with the attitude of "acceptance or else" -- that they wa~e not per~ cedved 'primarily as conveying a firm pub.lic image. Moreover, the tel;'IllS were designed to accompany wha.t became known as "phase two,'" the graduated pressures of Option.C -- not the 30-day actions derived :from . Option A. They -were meant to represent the "early negotiating" posture of the United S"~ates -- not the "no-negotdatdon'' posture associated with, Option A., : This general attitude tOiiard negotiations was apparently shared' by 'other Principals. This is indicated by changes made in Option C of the viorking GroupI s findings,. fo1lowing , procedures, in the Summary . .

, «.: ":



'. 53

the- first Principals J:leeting. Essentially, these involvei an ada:mant res iste.r.ce to "any formal Ger~eva Co::ference on Vietne!:l." Formerly, such a conference 'Was regarJ.ei as tee "best· forum" .... after conducting a r.i.:::lber of !l::lits.ry actions asainst the DRV. Under the revised . approach, the U, S. GoverrJnent ~oul:l t:erely "'W~.tch and listen closely" .for sigr.s of veakenmg fro::!. He.noi a~:i }-'e:kine. If the DRV hel-d. tim in re sponse to initial oilitary act.Ions ae;ains'r, r-:orth Vietna.~ and if along \'rith these actions an improve~ent had occurrei in the GV:~, the AdI:linistration ~ouli press harder for acce?tance of the initial negotiating position. 11:.9/ Thus, it is fairly clear .thd the policy position for.m~lateJ. by the Principals before presentation to the President incluiei no provision for early bargai~ing at the conference table. 2.

emu'sea of Action Appro·.. e:l in tl:e -:-;hite Rouse

On 1 December) the Principals T.,et 'With President Johnson ani Vice President..elect EUlU,Phrey in the :':hite :!ause. During a meeting tr.at lastei t . . : o-and.-a-half hours, ;'.Ji:,.::.sscdur '1c:.ylor briefeJ. the Presided- on the situatiO:1 in South Vietl:a!~, e::nj, the group revie1-.'pd. the evidence of iuc+easing DRV support fer the ca~flicts in South Vietn~ en·i Laos. U,,_:;s ot c01.L."'lterir.g the j;:':?act of infiltration ani of iJ:l.. proving the situation ,..ere discussed. .~"::. the conclusion of the I:!.eeting Secret.ary 1,:c::e:."::ire. ,.. as reported to r.=...ve been overheard saying to the :?resident, lilt vrould be i."':l.;?cssicle for j·:a.x to talk to these people Faiting reporters]. '~ithout lea-'1-ir:~ ~!..e i.~press:ro~ tt:at tee situation is goir:g to tell. Tr .AccorJ.iq;l~·, ;,:::";;~·.3.s::.:lor Tiiylor slippel out the \·rr~te House rear er.t·rar~ce, ani O;1:Y. a brief, for~al statE::::.ent was gi...~n to the press. 150/ .The source documerrts availe::le at the tir.:e of this \>."'l'iting do not indicate the precise nature of the President's decisions. Since a [S-,:':·: vas not issued fol101·:ing the r~!::t:tin£, one v'ould have to have access to :~hite House case files and ~atior.al Security Council neeting notes to O€: ce-tain of \:hat vas decide:'. z:ten teen, one night not find a cl.ear-cut decision recorded, Ro"'.\ev-er, frC!!!. h1md.':-,ritten notes of the l:eetin~h rz-cm instructio~s issuei to action agencies, and fro:m Jater reports of diplc:n.atic a.."li mlitary actions taken, it is possible to reconstruct the approximate nature of the discussion ~~d the decisions reached.

The revised "Draft Position Paper on Southeast Asia, If containing the tv:o...phase corc ept for future U. S. policy ani the proposed. 30-day action progra.":l"providei the basis for the l'Jhite House discussions. Ra..'1~li-:ritten not es of the prcceedmgs refer to various topics in approximately the same order as they are listed in that 'Dortion 01' the position .paper dealing 'With the 30-d.ay action prograTll. Th;re is indication that the over-all concept vas discussed. Ho,.,ever, it is evident from the notes that the various actions under di~cussion were consid-ered in terns of the details of .their im!l1e:n.ent.atione 151/ This fact -together 'With the content of the fomal instructions later issued to


00' .....


- '7:1'...



Taylor -- make it clear tr~~,t, in general outline at least, the concept submitted by the ?rinciFals ~as accepted by the President. Ho.. .. ever, as ";iill be aeen, it is also cLear that he ga'le his approval to implement only the first phase of the concept.

In ad.dition to J..r.bassaior Tay'lol"t c :ce:9ort, the neeting dealt mainly with t,·:o subjects: (1) 'I'aylor IS consultations v:ith. South Viet-

np.pese leaders ani (2) conversations \:ith other U.S. allies ",ho had an interest in the Vietnamese situation. The President nade it clear that he ccnsfdezed that pullinS the South Vietnamese together vras basic to anything eJ se the United States might do. He asked the ;..!:lbass~:io!' specifically which groups he tlight t~.lk to end what l!:.ore ve r.ig:r..t 010 to help bring ut'lity among South Vietlla:m. t s leaders. Ee asked ~';l:eth-er '\t:e could. not say to them ''ve just can't go on" unless they ~ullca. toget''ler. To this, Taylor repliei that we %:lust temper O'Jr insi::.tt.:;l~e .so.::.e\';b.~t, and. susgestei that we could say that "our a.id is for the l{'J,cng gO"'l-err.ztent, not necessarily for its successor. uThe Presiie.:1t aszed ,{tether there vas not sene ~.;e.y 'We could "get to" such groups as the" Catholics, the Buddhist.s and. the Arny. Possible additional i~cre~ents of military aid ~ere then discussei as ~eans of increasing U.S. l~Yera~e f~O~g military leaiers. The President also asked about "the CO!='\.l!i.is-::s I: in South Vietr.a::l.. TCl.ylor t s reply 'Was r:.oted ratter cry'ptically, but tr:e i:~ressiorr gi.....en is that the Co:r.t:i.".lr.ists vere being used alree:'y, t ",,;,t ·'!:::.t he C2.uestic;lei the desirability of tr~lir.g to pressur-e the.'1l.. ~c ~p:;.;,re::::tly st:;te1 tbat they vere "really neu"jjralists, tI but th~t U.e:: r ecch .....ere "not really bothering" to use them.. The President cbserved that the situation in South TlietnQ "does look blackerll to the public tha~l it apparentl:y" vas , Ee "..ondered. if sO!llething could not be done to change the llup=essior.l. bemg given in the nevs, 152/ . . Toward the end. of the discu~sion of consdtatior~s 'With the SO".lth Vietnamese, Presid.ent Johnson stated his conviction that the GVl'! "as too ":eak to take on the DRV rdlitarily. He ackno~·r1edBe::l tha.t the South Vietna'l!lese had. received goo1. training, but E-tlphasized that we "must have done everything ve can" to strengthen them before such a conflict "occurred.. 153/ This attit'.1ie vas reflected in the guidance given to AI!1bassador Taylor and in the st.atement he vas authorized to make to the G'IJ'l''l. The statement containei a. passage asserting that the U.S. Government did not bel.ieve "that ye should incur the risks 'Which are inherent in any expans·.on of hostilities '\dthout fir'3t assuring that there ~s a government in Saigon capable of handli."lg the serious problems involved in such an expansion and of exploiting the favorable effects '\-,hicn rla~' be anticipated.•••• n ~he

stateYilent l:ent on to emphasize that before the United. states could move to expand bt)stilities, the G'lli would have ~o be capable of ..' . ~


aining la~': and ord.er, II of ensuring that its plans for further. operatiO!1S riould be carried out, and oj"' coping lo."ith tithe ener.'.y reactions. ,,:?lich must be' e:{pected. to result" frC':l changes in the current pattern 'of operations. 154/ " tla.i nt

The 1rhite Rouse discussio~s ot: TJ. S. consultation with other allies \I'ere prefaced by the Presidel-:.t I. s strO!'lB afi"imation tbat. we need.ed "new drmatie, effective" toms of e.s~ista!'1ce fro!:l several, of these cou.lltries. Australia, I;'ew Zealad., canada and the PhiliI-pines were s~eci­ fically mentiorAea. fieeretery Rusk adjed. that the U.K. also could do more. J~ possible Rep~blic of Chir.a co~tritution was discussed, but the Secre~ar,y expressed. concern that introiucticn of G~C combat units vould tend to I:lerge the proble!!l.of Vietnsn . .l ith the conflict bet'\'reen the two Chinese regi!nes. J~:pparently, the Princi~alsl. pro:9osal to send a represent~tive to the gcvemmente of Australia, l~e": Zeala.."'ld, e.rd the Philippines yas a~proved.. In each case, the represe:";"tative vas to e:~plain our conce:;t a."ld. pro,?osed actions ar.d request ad..:iitional contributions by '\\8.y of forces in the event the second. phas-e of U.S. actions were enterea. Vice Presidentelect EUI:l3>hrey l'iaS suggested. for cO!lsultatio:1s ...l ith the Philippine t;0....ernmente Th~ President askea about the' possibility of a ~Test Geman contribution, but Secretary!.:cI·:ar-ara eo:lphasized ths.t Ger:lan political probleI;ls '~Otl1d. inhibit such a pIe age frO~l ~o:.r.. Finally, it vas agreed. that !'J:lbassedcr Taylor ,{ould cable tte ~articcl:.r kind of third cO~'1try assistance that 'Would be 'Welc~ei after he hai a chance to consult v.ith the GV:':. ~~/

At the close or the meetii!3, the ~':hiie House released. a press· st".teent which conta.ir.ed only t-.:o cCl'~er.ts regardir~g a::~. deteminations that had. been reached, One reai'fir=.ei lithe basic Unitei States policy of' providing all possible ani useful assista."lce" to South Vietnan, s;ecifically li~~ing this ~olicy with the Congressional Joint Resolution of 10 Aug~st. ~:he other state:i: "The President instructed. ;.!:l~assador Tay10r to consult urgently with the South Vietnamese C-o-"erlrment as to measures that should be tek~l to iI:lprove the situation in all its as~ects. It 156/ During the subseq,l:ent. press briefina, George Reedy indicated. to reporters that Taylor would. be work.ing on the specific details of' his forthcomng conversations in Saigon "for another t'Wo to three da.ys" and ,,~ould. have at least one more meeting v:ith the President before his return. 157/ HO"'Tever~ it eeena clear that most of 'What he ~T()uld say to Gvr; ofi'icialli ~~ settled. durinS the initi.u ~':hite Eouse meeting. A proposed tex-c 'ties appended to the Principals I. draft pos.ition paper, and it is clear that t.his· T4as discussed on 1 December. _~?parently, the ~ change made a.t that time vas to zenove a proposed U. S. pledge to furnish· air cover for the GV1~ ~ittme operations against the North Vietnamese coast. 158/'


After the 1:leet1r.~, the statement \.·as recast in the form ot Presidential instr'.tctions to Ambassador 't'E.ylor ..- ,..ith speci"fic authori.. zation for the l-J:lbassador to alter the ph~sing as he thought necessary'. to insure effective c~unic~tions ""ith the G'r.~. 30"11 ever, the concept and the specific- poi."lts for coxcunication vere unchanged. ' The instruc..'. tions made specii'ic provision tor him to inform senior GVN ofi:'icials of the U.S. ,dllir.guess (1) to cooperate in intensifying the GV!; ~aritime operations and.. (2) Uto add U.S. air~o,":er as needed to restrict the use of Laotiarlterritory as an infiltrat~on route into S'll'r. It These pledges ~Tere prefaced by sts.teaents to the effect that U.S. actions directly against the D?.V coda not be taken until GV:r ef'fectiveness 'Was assured along certain s:;.ecified 'lines. '1he ste.t~e~ts l:ladeexplicit the policy vie', that '\;e should not incur the risks· ,..hich are inherent in such an ezpansaon ofhostilities tl until such mpl'OYements were made. As evidence of our desire to encourage these develo~ents, hOl-leVer, the rationale stressed that the AdI:dnistration'\:as n,dlling to strike harder at the infiltration routes in Laos and at sea. II 159/ . The instructions also included s!,Jecit'ic provision that the U.S. 2·!ission in Saigon was to'liork ,'lith the GV:~ in developing .jointplans for reprisa.l operations .and tor' operations e.~pro:priate for 8. second phase of nev U.S. actions. The general relationship be~~een the t,(O cO!1.teml'latedphases .~1e.s ex:?lained., and t~e Phase T\~o pur:f0se tlot eeavincing the leaders of DJ.Y that it is to teeir' ipterest to cease to aid the Viet Cong" vas state~. The joint character of the 111'rogressivel:/ mOu11tingll air op~rations e.gainst :~orth Vietnam, should· they be decided on later, vias em.pha.sized. 160/ . . ';;


As iniicated. earlier, there was no


issued follo\dng the strategy neeting ofl Decer.l.ber. ~he reasons l1hy are clear. In effect, the actions reco~er..ded by the Princ:i~s.ls e.r..d. a.?pro-ved. by the President did. root co~stitute a. sig=:ificttt ce::;E.!'t1.:1'e frO::l the actions authol,"ized.··~ ::. .-':!". 3~4 '9 Sc.--.c..,..,"\.-..,. 4 ......·_·-"'.''' .~.~d. ~' e~c.:..\.Lj .1· r .... ro~rl.·..:lIed fo ···:.. '. ....';n ...,a....:.... ,c:_ len) J...:-r:. r'i-·-'" ....""'''''''._';.:... . ,;c. c:. 'v Wt · ' · .; n "'-it' ·~c·, ,":~ +.. 0 .:''o,J -:""""".. Sl.~_e ",., "J ,,_ n 't.~_ 1:ao+';:r ..,_ar. QO" I.. ~ l··~.:~""",=_..:. " '. S• armea··' d l.SC\lSS_O••S ........... oper<>+olons .....w... ..._ _ . . .'- '"' routes .... reconnedsssnce <:10"'& \t 'e _. .: ~.;i.,...,.::".+~ ,:;",.... +h E:r,1.°t had. provided. for resU!nption of the 34;. ~arit~e operatio::.z, •..:~ch had. continuei throughout the fall. In .effect, the Decetiber strate ttl neE':ting prod.uced. little change except to make more concrete the concept of possible future operations against I'iorth Vie~m e.."ld. to authoJ;'ize steps to include the GVir in preparatiQnS for these possibilities. ..L


'-~~~~ ...











_ _ ,", ...

It Ls clear that the President· did not ma.lte 8:/.ly commitment at this point to expand the war tbrolJgh future ~erations against Uorth Vietnam. The assurances intended. for the G\JI;' in this regard 1'lere con... · ditional at best. ~he extent to lo:hich the :?resident 'Was cazitted t.o s,uch a course in his mind,or in discussions with his leading advisors, was fAOt made explieit in the sources e.vaila.'ble. It is tmplied, howe~~r, in brief notes which were apparently intended to s'UD1!Darize the mood of the meeting on 1 Decet1ber. In what may have been a summation of the President's expressions, these notes indicate several themes: (1) it is necessary to weigh th~ risks of careful action. versus the risks of loss

-' 51




(of South VietnaJ:l?),tttnout action; (2) it may be necessary to act from a base not as strong es hoped for; (3) it is not certain, hO""ever, how pUblic opinion can be ba."lCled; and (4) it is desirable to send out a . "somewhat stro."1ger signal. II In a~d.ition,a cOlil:Q.ent not entire~ leg!路 . ble stated "l-iea:-:ures ca."l't do as T.luch (1) lJ.!:. and (2) . . . internationa.J. ffiegotiationsj]. II In th~ context of the discussions, the mpression left路 by these notations is that the ,路rhite Rouse was con. siderebly less tha."1 certain tha.t future U.S. actions agdnst north Vietna:n 'Would be taken, or that they ":o\.l.J.d be .d~sira.b1e. 1611 . .. '. .



. . , ,

" .

Principals 'by 1>e;puiiySecretu)- Vance end was approved by t!lem., with eae : . , exception. The;)" emended.the ordnance instructions which had been pre-. pa.re~ tor C:n:CPAC' to specl:f1cally ex~luie the use of .napalm. For its· ' . first use esainst targe~ in Lao~, they· felt, the RL..&J' would be the on~· appropriatt.: user. ¥~eorge Bund:r stated that the a:meni~d prOgram· . , ·lIhJ:tille:ip:reci~ely the· heside!lt 1s vi.she.s, 1/ and that he (Bundy) llOuld·, . so 1ntQrmthe Preslllent·. He turther stated that, barring separa.te ad-, . vi~e to. the .co~tr&J7, the progr8ll1 should be executed. .It was· also agreed at. this :eetins that there 'Would be no public 'statements· a't..,)ut: . armed reconne,1.ssance· o;pera.tiol'ls in Laos u"Yiless & plene ,·rere lost. .In sucb an event,. 't.~e Principals stated., the Government· should continue to insist that lie. were merell escorting reeor~aissa.nce fllgl:lts as requested 'by the Laotian GovermJ1ent., 175/ ' . . ..'... .....: }.rmed- recol'.naissance operations· ill Laos,' called E.t.~~ ROLL, got underway on 14 DecefI1ber. This first mssion wastlo'i:n by: USAF jet airere.ft alon& :aoute It was tollo'.;ed on the 17thb-y carrier-based , A-l and jet a1rcra.rt, striking along i'toutes '121 ana. 1.2. On the 18th, . this p~tter~ of: wo missions by to':1%' aircraft each. ~jas determined by Sec;retarY' otDefense or higher authority to be the .weekly: st.e.ndard -- .. a.t least t.broush the tl".J.rd Yeek. 176/· Just a day earlier, the JCS had pro~sed. a· Eecon1 \~ek' s .program that inclUded. repetition ot ·the first \'leek 1 s operat1QllS plus mssions along Rout.e 7, 9 and 23. ~heir proposalS were preps.+ed. with a statement. ot JCS t:!ld.ersteJ"ld-ing "that a graa.ual . increase in ::tntellSity of operations is inter.:tedfor the second week." . -_. . .. .'.'.. the alsoi~lClude~8. strong recom:lendation that Ro~i.e 7 be struck ·aspe.rt o~ the secona.,,-e~·s ,missions. 177/ .







This .sane· ratiorlale was voiced 'by (;eneral Jonr.son 1n 'the Prin';' ci!>8.ls 1ne~t1ngon 19 ·December. lie poirLted. out that the B.'\J:R3L. ROLL progren briefed there 'b~,. j)eput~,. .Secrete.r~Y Var.ce did not rez>resent any intensificationbeyend the previous week's effort. Vanee confirmed that , not inte.'lsifying theprogre:m. had been ene ofthecriter1a ·applied in . selecting the, second week's mi$sions. . Conse.nsusWas reached by the Principals 'that the program sr.ould rema.tn about the sm:leforthe next two veeks~. ip. .&ccordanee lrith the most rece.::lt guidance. 178/:



At the end ot. December, when there was seriousquestioll about . the e:f'ficacy of maiDtainjng the d4"ection ot U.S~ polley in South Vietnam, Defense offic~als requested. an evaluation ot the BAR.lTh,.~ ROLL program. In· particular,: .tbey were concer~ed as to '~b¥neither the, DRV· nor the Communist Chinese have made any public me.'ltion of or appeared 'to have ' taken co~zanc!·of' our BARP.EL ROLL operatio! s •."l19!In respOnse. a . DIA ,a.ssessment indicated the.t the CammurJ.sts apparently had. male 'no. . 'Idistinction between BAR..lU:L ROLL missions Oll the' One hand and,tbe. Laotia.'1 T-28 strikes ,Y.~:I~ TEtJ·1 minions ee the other." . Attributin§ all steppel up operations in Laos to the United states end its "lackeys, . they bad ~umped all operatiolls:togetbe1," as "U.S. armed interference· in



.." ..



Laotian's affairs, .8'1'0ss violations of the General Agreements, and events .:hich are causing' a grave' situation in L-aos and Ind.oc~4ina. n DIA \-Tent or. to observe that "it ",ould be most difficult to disting\1i.sh bet\."eel! Y.~·133 TE}X with its fla.t suppression aircraft fro::l. the M.~~ ROLJ"J mssions."· Further, the assesst!snt observed that "BP..F~$L ROLL .. strikes have followed ~-28 strikes 'by varying periods ot tine and h~ve been of lesser intensity. They probably appear to be a continuation of the Laotian prog~e:n." .It concluded: liOn bal~ce" ·therefore, while the Communists

aware of have llot nit1ca!'lt to their

are' a~parently

sene increased use of' U.S. 8oircra.1't, they proba.bly . considered. the &1l"13L ROLL strikes to ~ate as a s1gchange in the pattern or as representing. a ne"l threat 8,¢tivlties." 180/ . . .


Despite the lack of discernible CO:n:1unist reaction toB.~&iL ROLL oy the end.' ot the year ~d considerable concem mong the JCS, there vas little char:ge in the operation during early January. On the 4th, CTIiC?!.C was authorized t~' go ahead. with the fourth 'treek' s .program:

.. "OnelT.~. armed. ·recor.naissa.r.ce/;re~bJ:'ie:red &ir strike. missions in Laos. tor the week of 4-10 January 1995, is 8oppro"ped. ;~~ditional m1ssicns "'ill be the subject of later 1:lessage. It (Underlliins ad.ie~). The a~prov~d trlssio:l called for.. nigr..~ arzed reconnaissance along Route 7, .: the first of it~rkind.. 3131/ At the thls, the JCS 'Were a1laiting eo decision on their pro:pose.ls for a. cCT.!lplementary n:!.ssion, but· the 'Department of State had objected. to their ch.oice of a secc:c·iary target because it 'ias located near Cs":'bodian territory. Earller in tr.e series, the TcLepone barracks had been deleted. as a' secohdary mission by the White .Rouse because a Hanson Bald\:in e.rticle hed nEl::.4d it as a likely target. On 5 January, the JCS representative remndel the Principals that the' currently approved B..l\T',-~ ROLL mission constituted the fourth 'Week of these operations a.Y1d, . therefore, 'Wo\.111 teminate the in!tial 30-day period. of Ph.ase One pressures, The JCS were quite concerned that there had not yet been plans made for a "transition phase" of .step~ed up attacks to begin around midJe!l"l.l~Y.






... . ..


Surfacing Inf'iltration. Evide!lce. Ali .integral pert of the J.dministration's pressures. policy, particule.r~ U' U.S. forces were to be involved in .direct attacks on North Vietnam, was the presentation to the public or eqnvinciLg evidence of DRV responsibUity tor thE precerious situation in SO'ltb Vietnam. As seen earlier', a tamer intelligence s;ecialist, Chester Cooper, "las selected to compile a public account ot the infiltration ot trained cadre and p:errille. tighters, to be used tor this p"urpose. His account was to 'be developed. f'rOtl the varioUs classified. rellOrts that had. been produced and was to lay particular stress on thE' alarming increase i.n the rate of infiltration in the latter halt at 1964. . . '



Cooper submitted his r~1Jort on 4 DecE::lber. It was based on (1) a State-sponsored u~e.tir.g of the ~o-called. Jorj,en Report, which described also the DRV's direction, control and.n~teriel support. of ~. ~he insurzency (this had been discussed during the ~olicy discussions in'the Spring ad. initi.ated. d.urir.g tr.e Slmller); (2) the YJACV .infiltra-, . tion stUdy, based. on interrogatior.s of VC priso!l.ers ani completed in October; and (3) rellOrts fro!:! a Dr.;../CL~ I:;R tea::l ,.;1:0 "rent to Saigon , in mid-:'~O·{eIliber to evaluate the :·:~. CV report (tLeY' confirmed its validity) ~ :lils ,report consisted ot four ite!ns: (1) a SUIl:I:iary stateaerite.nd e. mre dstailed. pUblic discussion of YC infiltration E):2. (2) a list of possible questions and suggested ensvers for use ~dth the press or the Congress; (3) II a' reconciliation, or at least .an eX?lan~tion ot past lou estimates 'of infiltration gi7en in Congressional test~ony and to the press t ' ; and (4) a listing of availa~le doct:I:!.entary evid.ence and graphic 1:laterials to aid in pUblic presentation.s. In his covering me1!lorandum, Cooper urged. that the L"latE:rials be for;-~arj,ed. to ,Saigon so as to tlake l!.~,CV a.Yld ::l:loassy officials f".l11y avar e of' the pro:posed. approach end to :make cOT1sister.t its use by U.S. and G'C personnel. 183/


The Coo31er materials ':ere i'o:nrarded. for review to the Saigon Bmcassy on 8 Decsoer, and too tte ?ri.l'lcipals O~ the 9th. 184/ Shortly t.hereaftF;r) Secretary Rusk cabled. 1:r.":lassad.or Taylor) e-xpressing his ' concern teat early release of the im":iltrativn data· '\rollld. generate pressures for actions beyond ,-:hat ve no~·~ cont.en;.late." 'He sought ~a:;lor' s ad.vice as to whether rele9.se 'i:ould be \;ise. In the l\!!lbassaior' s rel)ly) he urged. early release. Ee stateo., III do r.ct feel that, ,at this poir.t, the substance of the relea:se ,,:ill' genez-ate :pressure for' ~:tre:le action. II J.!oreo-ver, he ,expressei the vie;'" tha.t rele~se ~ouJ.rl serve to quiet the curre:lt1y rife speculatacn among news cozrespcndents and. parts of the GV::: cO:lcercl.ng 'Wha.t the U!'~itei States ,,,as ir~te:liL"lg to do in S~:. Citing a ~;e\·: York Daily !!ews article '(7 Decenber) as a.11 example of '\o:hat he felt ";-cre increasingly likely leaks, he ~ressE:i his d.esire to na.lte pla:nned. deliberate announcenents of 't-~hat the United. States was no\-! doirig , and 'What migh.tbe done in the f';;.ture •. He ex,press~i his intention to have the Gill; release the report on. infiltration, cC!!lplete with press 'Jriefings and stateme.'lts, oetween 10-17 December. 135/ . ,Despite strong reCOl'::l:ell1.ations frem tl:e field to release the infiltration data., the Princil'als d.e;terminedt!':a:t it should not yet be· mad-e public. During the first part of December, the chief advocate tor not releasing it '~as Secretary 1,rC::eara. At their meeting on 12 December, JIll'. Vance stated that Mr. Hcr:anara w-anted to withhold the infiltration data for the time .being. His rationale was not recorded in the minutes. The State De:par~ent opinion in zesponse was "that the Department "did not consider it ot a:ny great mo:ilEmt. n Th~eafter, the Principals decided. that release should be withheld, at least until their next'meei:;ing, 19 December. 186/


By the time they met again, a week later, . several expressions SUPll0rt for releasing the data. had. been received. OIl the 14th



Taylor recalled that the P.?vri. intelligence chief had revie\"ed' the original !·~~.CV illfiltraticn re!:vrt ani the ~roposedpress release and had "concurred in c~en·iing declassification. II On the 16th knbassadQr Sullivan :?raised. the Co~per re?ort and suggestd· passing it to S'ouvanna ?i:OU.":ll prior to '-:hat he bo:;>ed. "lould. be a prcI:l!lt puolic release. 187/ . .At "the Principals neeting these viet:s 'iere cite.:i in a strong 'statement' by UilliS1n. Bundy concerning the problems of keeFing the infiltration evidence out of the press.. General Johnson, Acting Chairman, JeS, favored release as a tlorale boost to U.S. persor_"lel in South Vietnam. l{cGeorge 3u.."ldy and Carl Rm:e!l. (USLt..) favored graj-l1al or piecemeal release. Ro..:ever, i·~r. Vance re~eate:1 Secretary 2·!c::ama.ra t S 'tdsh to continue suppression of the infiltratio:1 rellort -- possibl:,' for an indefinite period. This vi.e"l." finally prevailed, as the Frincipals agreed not to release the Cooper report either in Saigon or -;·:ashington. Instead, they felt that '~he ?resiient tight dissE':llinate SC!1e of the ir.fomation through s'U.ch vehicles as tJ.s State of the Union message or ina contemplated Christmas al:i!'ess to U.S. forces in Saigon. 18g/ . . :.~: ':~h,}.... ' Following the I:leeting, but cefore receiving reports concerning t::e current political uphea'r~l L'l Saigon~ the State Department cabled the AdI:1ir.istration t s decisior. not to I:leke a fOI'!:lal GV::!US release or the i!1fi.ltra'"'",ion data. It gave as rationale the feeling that formaJ. release "could be misinter:?retei ani beccne yehicle IJo!7 ur.d.esirable speculatioXl , tI ~rd sugge~ted alternati-le prccedures , Statir:g t[~at 11general background., . 'criefirlgs ••• sho'..lli corrtdnue to in1icate in:rilt!'atio~.. has increased l~ith- ' out gettiJ.g into s!lecifics," it irid±catE::1 that under pressure, the Saigon j;uliassy "coutd hs.'le one or T.'..e re :1eep backgrouni sessdcne with ffi~~7 J.~eric~.n forces. II The cabfe cautio~~ed., hovever, that specific nutlbers ani cO:.'l.pariso!.s -wit..lo} ~reviou.syears t est:ir.ates should. ce avoided•. These , v~ouli not be releaeed., it vTC'.S a1:Vised, ur~til late in Ja~ua.ry after senior Administration officiels hai testifiei to Consress in a scheduled inquiry. ~he current am was stated. "tc get general picture ir.to survey stores such as Grose article ot' :::o-:et::'Jer 1 rather than as spot ne..iS comcandir.g -Yride attention. n The cable cO~icl',Jiei by acr.r.o~:led.ginga. "just received." Ta;)"lor message and. approving his stated. ju.dgment to proceed ·".-ith periodic background brief'ings in Saigon, along lines outlir..ed. above .. JB91 . '


Folloidng tlle rift betveen the South 'lietnei'!ese milltary lea.ders and the ~Jnerica.~ Embassy, resistance to the ,release of infiltration data hardened. In ca.bles of 24 DeceI:l.ber,· .'\mbassador Ta~"lor was instructed to avoid backgro":md orie1'i:'1gs on the infiltration increases until the political si~uation clarified.. 3:e vas counseled. that release of the· data would be "unwise" unless he "ere to obtain evidence that'the South Vietneraese military lJaS plarming to go ahea1 "lith a unilateral release. 190/ These instructions pre";ailei th"ltil well into January, 1965. d. Consultations '"lith tl~.r.:ir-i Countries." .In the days :immediately following the pollc)- decisions of 1-3 Deeer..J)er~ se"\'"eral Y.S. allies were consulted. concerning the i.ntende~ U.S. approach in. Southeast Asia. In'

'. 65

accord with the Principals' vie,,:s t the governlllents of Thailand and Laos were .briefed b:t- the respective U.S. JJIloassadors to those countries. Foreign !:~inister :?r:.l.lan' Khoma..ll later visited. the ?resident' in ~·~a.shipgton . and presumably ~u.rsuedthe matter further. The Ca."1adians were contacted in both otta~-:Q a..1d. ~·la.shingto!l •. !-!illiam 3un1y !lela. discussior.s 'in J.:ew . Zealand. a.'ld. Australia. 0:1 4-5 December. .Prime ~·:inister ''iilson of the United !"'.in~don vas thoroughly briefed during a series of meetings' in . Wa~hington, 7-9 Decet,::'er. Later, ~Ulliam ~urdy told the Principals that the U."i~.,. Australia and !~ew Zealand. receivei the full picture of imediate 'C.S. actiol"!S and ~ts stipulations to tr~e Gil~~. and. the potential two-phased concept of gr!ld:uated. pressures on I!orth Vietn~. The Canadian· Government was told slightly less. The Philip:?ines) South Korea and the Republic of China. ,·rere briefed on Phase One only. J91/ ; ."

One of the a.ms stressed by. President Jo}:l..nson in the meeting of 1 and

3 December, and. continually thereafter, vias obtaining increased 'assistance

tor the r;ll~ and. for our efforts on its behs.lf frce our allies. !Duri!'.g the 12 Decenber Principals tleeting, for ex.am:?le) -:·':'illiam. Bundy related the . President's recent wish to obtain assistance even from governments without stroDE; Southeast Asia cOJ:i!!1itments t like Demnark t ~':est Germany' end India. . ~his ",as mentioned in· the context of a s'\%J:lary re~crt on cu:rr.ent "third-· country assistance of all kir~ds to South Vietnam." 192/ At the tme~ ho-wever, not only general assistance from l>i.any cOU!ltries but specifically ·r'.J.1it~y assistance frc..":l a select fe;·r ..as J:,articule.rly soughh During the c:or.sultatioLS 1dth allied goverr:me:lts, lcth Australia and. !:ef Zea-lar.i "ere pressed. to send. tree; ur-itsto assist f.?":a,:,. Both supPorted the u. S. policy decisions al.; probe.bly necessary, but neither. lIas 1i'illing at thetil:e to make a ccremt~ent. Ee-" Zealand officials ex·pressed. grave doubts that Phase II 't:ould. lead to r~egotiatier.s~ pred.icting instead that tr.e DRV would only increase t~e clandestine trcopdeploj~ts to the South. ,:,~e:,. expres$ed. doubts abou.t the ed.\"ieability of sending· allied. .iTound. forces into South Vietnsm. 193/

. The conce?t -und.er which the allied troop de~loY!!lents were believed desirable vas rele.ted to that ,~hich the !':S~ ~':crking Group·had reco=mended as deserving f\:.t'tber study. Contemplated was a...1 i.r..ternation.al :!"c:;ce \·uilt vouna. one U~S. division t to be de'plC:J·e~ just south of the D}1Z in conjunction with step,ed-up US/GVi"f air operations against ~orth :Vietnam. In essence,: therefore, it w~ a. Phase ~¥10 concept, dependent in :some respects on the degree of success e.chieved during Phase One activities•. ~he conce~t was exarlned. in detail by the Joint Staff in early ~ecember, em their st~f study was i'on-larded to the services and. the Joint Pacific H.eadq~~~.:;~~t'(.~·cai:Ce'-'lt. and recomendations" on 10 December. :~he purposes cited for such a. force de~lo~ent by the Joir..t Staff' ....ere 'stated as .follows: . (1) to. deter ground invasion by theDRV; (2) to hold nbl~ns . posItion against 1>~'1 attack~ dmm the coastal plain an~ make 1:lOre difficult DRV efforts to b~sslt; and (3) to be "capable of holding the detel1$ive . . positions against ,:t.tack. .1mti1 reir.forcements. arrive if requir~d." 1$1




degree to 'Which the ir.'ternational force "t:as believed to offer a useful option seems to have been in question. ~·nli.~e the Sta.te Department ~he

and other non-militar-J egencfes apparer.. t ly fa'lored it, the Depart!!lent ot Defe!!se wa.s less tha!l enthusiastic. At the 19 :DecSl'ber Principals meet-ing, for ex~~le, i l l of those present agreed :'hat "suitable planning . to~('ard such a force should go for".a.rd" ~xce?t Assistant Defense Secretary !.:cI:aughton. lie ste.ted. that he tho11ght the idea had been shelved. 195/ . Later, in their re'..riei~ ot: the Joint Staff's stl.::ljr, the services expnssed reservations concernmg the concepti, 7hey q'.lestioned its 1!lilitary • utility, due to the de?lo:;'tlellts being frer::.ed essent.ially 'Within a. narrov deterre.llt con.t~. ?hey recO!n!:lendej, instead. a continued adherence to the dc:plo;y~e.l'lt concept in the approvei SE..~O plans, "hich in their totality were ainled at the tlilitary def'e..llse of all Southeast. Asia.. The J.-rmy, in l'articular, ~31ressed concern regariing routes ani nodes of possible D'3.V advcnce into Sou."th Yietna:l that difi'erej, frC'!:!. those assumed by the study's belo".-:-the-D:·Z concept , The Air Force poir.tea out t.ha.t the international force ccncept cor.. f licted. '\o;-ith the JCS concept for deterring and dealing ~lith overt D3V/CHICc.:·: aggression as su'bl:li.'toted. on ~4 l:ov~ber (JCS:.i-955-64).

195/ .





lir. ~.:c::aughton's COSilents on 19 Decenber seem to have been correct. The case files containing the serv ice ccr=e::.ts on the international ·force concept indicate LO further action by tt.e JCS after ti.id-J;...~uary.

In ~he r-eant:i:me, r.o..,;e':er~ a difi'ere!.t epp!'oach to attracting ft·ider allie:i participation ifl the l1ilitary def'ense ot South VietG2l:l appeared pronis3 . . ig , 0::'1 29 December', OSD/ISA re:;-:orte3. xeaiir:ess on t.he part, of the ?hili!,pine, ROI a:ld. GRC Govern:lel1ts to provide various forms of assistance to Sout·h Vietnc. Incluied in the e.'lailaole :?hilippi.''le and Korean packages vere an assortt:lent of' l!li~i tary forces. The :a.o~ Joint Chiefs of Starf off'ere:l a cO!:ibat engineer battalion, en EJ:~ineer fie~d maintenance· te~':l, sn J..rrr.y trans?~rtatio:l cO!:lpe.ny, and a :!~rine COI'];ls cc~bat er.gineer c~,~ny. The Phili,~ine C~verrJne~t stated its willingness to send a reinforcei infa.1'l,try battalion, an engineer cOllstruction battalion·, and. some Special Forces units. 197/ 2.

Relat.ions liith the GVn

Follo'dng his second meeting with President Johnson, .A1nbassador Taylor returned to Saigon. He arrived on 6 December amid press speculation concerning the details of his instructio.ns and subsequent U.S. actio:ls. 198/ The basic charge given hiJn by the Preside!'lt had. been well pUblicized smce their meeting on the 1st: "to consult urgently with the gcvernment; of ?r me }'li.1'l,ister Tran Van Euor.g as to measures to be taken to improve the situa.tion in all its aspects." However, such a diplomatically worded state::lellt left much room for maginative interpretation -- particularly in vie\.;' or the .A.J:lbassador' s "unannounced sto;over in Hong !~ong to get a. briefi:lg by U.S. 'China wa.tchers' in that listening post. If Several correspondents speculated on the likelihooi of air action

ag=.inst the riarth. One, 'With an apparent inside source, even reported that these '\\ould be held. in abeya..."lce' ?ending the outcome of strikes in 1aos and the GVI; reactions to ~.S. suggestdcr;s for m:9rovement. 19-3/ r a. . Joint Planning. In the days i1m=.e:iiately following his return, .P.nbassador I'aylor's schedule precipitated press reports of. frantic activity within the Em'bassy and. other parts of' the U.S. 1·1ission in Saigon. Taylor first briefed hi.s :J:lbassy Council ar..d the I:mbassy staff , on the policy discussions in :·:ashir.gton and. tl.:.e joi:lt US/Gv~~ courses of action which' it 'Was hoped ":ould. be folloued. in South Vietnam during ensuing ,~eeks. On 7 December, he met ,'rith Premer Huong a..'ld his senior ministers and '\dth General ;:hanh. On these occasions he outlined. ~he . Illil~te.ry and diplomatic actdcns ...,.;hich ti'le U.S. GO'lerr..nent intende&'~' take during ?hc:.se One and explair..ed. ~o"l: the .~_d:cinis tration related the ' possieilities of Phase ::-..:0 actions to G'l:~ perf'orn-nce , The ~J:lbassador . described in general ter",s the .kinds of a:'li'\; nistrati;re :iJnprovements and joint Jlla!'.ning activities '\~hich U.S. officials thought the GVi~ should undertake. 199/ Smilar sessions vere held durbg the next few da:ls, as the deta.i.ls for the joint Gv;.·:jiJS efforts vere 1>~orked. out , On the evening ot the 8th, .~"oassa.ior Taylor held. a receIltion for ~cn--='ers of the :{iSh !~ational Council and General ~':'estIlorelard host.ed the top ;:':(v:": generals e.t dinner. At both occasions, 7e.ylor briefe:i the asse:ibled 1,;.8. attitud,es toward. the G"r..·" and, pres1Zlabl:h on t::.e: .A~xi~;ist:ta'tio~' s cs.lc".llations of' U.S. . risk relative to GT.: ca:;lability. Or: ti:e :follo':ir~z day, he held a. ler!gthy' session '\-lith Premier 5:uong, De:5luty r'rerl.er Vien and General Kha..."lh. On this occasion, he distribute:! a pa,Per outlining nil,e specific actions which the U. S. Goverr..:ment beJ.ie~led. vez-e needed to strengthen the GVE and in ~lhich the local U.S. mission vae cc-nittei to help. Taylor re~rted that the lI)aper l.-e.s generally "'I:ell recervea" and that tlspecific joint actio:l res:!,Jonsibilities:l had. been agreed on. These 'Were to 'be confirmed in "..- xiting on the follo-:;dng day. On that same day, he submitted a proposed. CV1: press release, describmg in general terns the nature of the, ne.. .r U.S. assistance to be given and the nev ar-eas of G'ii':; and joint G'v1~/US plar...ning, designed. to improve the situation in South Viet..tlaI:1. ~/ .:


On the 11th, haVing obtainei Adm.nistration approval, an oft'icial GVii state:r.ent . . ras released. to the J?!'ess. It rela.ted. that "a series of' discussions 'With tte rJ. S. I·!ission" had just been completed. and that the U. S. Goverment haj, ofi"ered 'al3.itional assistance "to improve the execu-· tion of the Goverrn::lent r S progr=Jns ani to restrain /?ot r offset r as originall)' . . : orde.g the tlOunting infiltr~tion C'f men and eCluiplilent" from Eorth Vietnam. Among. 1ililitary neasures, it s:gecified. that U.S. support ",ould enable "'increased nutlbers of ffiouth VietnamesiJ mill tary, para.military and police forces" .and ":ould llemit "the streIlgothening of the air derense of South Vietnam. rr It also :mentioned assistance flfor a. variety of forms of ind.ustri3.1, urban and. rural dev:elopment II and promised


a. GV:': effort to i:!l.?roiie "security and loeal go-/er~ent in the rura.l areas." The stat.E::lent close~ ,1ith the follm'i"ing b'o pa.T8:sr.a?hs, '01' hich subseC2.uent 'events I:.5.:'e to a:;::;learironic but 'Which -w;-ere j~rtapose:i "~ith great ea.re": \I:i'ogether, the Goverrilllent of Viet.:~C;!'l and. the United States .. mission are m=~;ng joint pl~~s to achieve greater effectiveness against the L~iltration threat. ~ .. ......

"In t.he course of t.he d i scus s i ons , the United states representatives expressed. full support for the dul.v constituted Goverr.ll::!.ent of Prime l-!inister ::uong. n ~/ As the i'ollmdng sect ion l~ill shcv , t.he joint. planntng that had just botten urlder;-:ay fer re?risal action s a.:;:1 F!1ase !l o-perations was soon to be halted. It "';\,2S deferred for a Pf'ri.C'l:1 of e~m1t three i\'eeks durir.g the fort.hccti.ng GV2 crisis. However-, as 1'l:'~::'J5r:h 1!1 the quoteJ paragraphs above , its resUI:l:?tion provided' efi'ectiv('! ::. B. leverage to l1elp bring about an acccood.ation betoo;':een the mlite.ry dissid.ents and the civilian regime. b. GVI; Cri~e'L Late i!l tl::e p.~; mg of 19 DecSnber, high..rar-king South Vietnarr.ese military lea5.ers, le·i by' General Khe.nh, moved. too remove all !l0";:er frO!l the ci·...ilian regi-r.e of ?re:r:!iE'l' :lUO:lg. The nove came in the announced dissolution of the .:iigh ::ational Cour.. cil, 't-:hich had. been ser:ir.g as a ~rovisio~al lesislature ~e!"_:ii:-5 e.~cption of a pen:e.nent con"~i the ......rest of .."'-:-:-'" o'"=' _-J_ i" <: ~·:··.,,··Q..,.s .., · .... \, ~·.&.;o.,., \1_ , c;;..<l. _"" .~ J.-r Co-....:lcre lr" . . ." act.;"",,!" s.:.l. as s.:;ckeE~s..:."1 for the mlitar;:l, claiJ::ei t!1~t their inte!lt vas "to,.act as a . !ledie.tor ffio resolvi! all differences in order to achfeve nationiil urdty." The ll~ediate appare~t conflict. was ~ith t~e :uiihists who had. been d~on­ strating ani threatening t.c provoke civil diEorders in protest against the Huong go-:erl".::!.E;nt. In ;J:lbassa:ior Taylor t s viei.·~, ho,,,e7er; the tl."'l:lerlying r..ot.iYe vaa gro;dng e.ntipathy "ldth pExticulal' r.iEr.ibers of the ~igh li!.t1onal . Cow.lcil, [.raught to e tead b~" the Cour,cil's refusal to ap?ro"le a tlilitary :Pla!! to retire Ge~eral (Big) !·Iinh fre:"'::. active service (e.r..d. thus re:tlove hin fro:l a position to contend. ,.;ith the ruling military clique). l.ioreover, t he mili te.ry had beecae quite irupat.ient \:i th the civilia."l officials. 202/












The general. consensus ar-..ong tr.le _~mbassad.or, General Westmoreland and. State Depar"b:~i; officials vas tl:at Ger.leral l:hanh t s rela.tionship with' the other influential. generals and. younger officers was rather uncertairi. Therefore, they sought to bolster Premer :tuong t s resolve to remain in office on the basis of an understanjing 't:ith the generals -- even to the extent of: seeking Kha..."'1h' s resignation or diS!:"lissal. ~'lhen presented with 0. S. vie1-:s, Khanh gt!Ne initia.l. appeara."'l:::es of recognizing that the mi~~ '., tary seizure haa. directly defied the U. S. pol:..cy position a.'1d. the· stipUlate 1 basis for continuing joint r;tm/us ei'forts, and of accepting the neei to .. ,·fithdra,-r. HO"lever, he quickly att€mpted. to turn the crisis into a direct confrontation betl.-een hiEself and i.!.1oassaior Taylor. 2031 On the 22nd, he issued a strong public: arfimation of the military leaders' actions,

. 69





ot ·the need to avoid situations "favorable to the common enemies EO!J11JlU:-. nism and colonialism in a:n.y fori!,11 and of the military's resolve "not .... to carry out tbe policy of any foreign country. It On the 24th, information was received that he intended to pressure Prexnier Huong into dec-laring ll2libassa.d.or Taylor &,.;..--.;..;.;;;,,pezeonna -non. grata.. -201~1 '. Administration reaction to this challenge indicated that it con,sidered Khanh's defiance as a threat to the foundations of U.S. policy in South Vietnam. Ambassador Taylor wa.s instructed to inform Huong that the U.S. Government regarded the. PEG issue as 'a '''matter of gravest importance,," and, that "any acceptance of /J.ha:n.h demand or hesitation in rejecting it would make it virtua.lly impossible•••to continue support [Of t'niJ GV1~ eff'ort. " Suggesting that Euong might asked if he thOUght the "American People could be brought to support continued U.S. effort in SVU in face LOt! Em action against trusted .Ambassador, It the Administration urged persistence in encouraging Huang to seek an accommodation with the other military leaders. Moreover, highftranking J.!ACV personnel were urged to exploit their close relationships ,lith South Vietnamese counterparts to . encourage such an arrangemel;lt. As leverage, Taylor was encouraged to emphasize the intended directions of U.S. policy, subsequent to a strengthened and stable GVN. Specifically, he "4'8.S urged to point out. that joint reprisals for unusual YC actions and "any possible future decision to initiate ffihiJ second phase" were impossible as long as current conditions persisted. He was told, "w'ithout' offering anything be)'Ond tems ot your instructions you could use these to. their fullest to bring and the other generali! around. II 2051 .



There is no indication in the available sources' that this advice was directly .employed. It is evident, however, that fl.mbassador Taylor had explained the dependency of further U. S. actions on GVl! progress very clearly to the key military leaders on 8 and 20 December. 206/ Therefore, they were well aware that .3':continued U.S. assdatance along the policy line _._,_,: __ .:1 4 _ __ ..s.._..1 __ .... \._..t .... .:. .\....:_ •• __ .L~_

\;AJ:'.........~~c ....




J:'. c ..........~w"''''' '"'u vu;;,,,u. "'VV.i:'c. ~V"''''1''' Qo14\4



demonstrated early in the crisis. Even before Khanh's public declaration of independence from. U.S. policy, it became known that joint talks concerning increased aid to the South Vietnamese war effort had been suspended. .4. few d8¥S later that fact was' given additional circulation, with emphasis that this suspension included :particularly any discussions " of measures to reduce the infiltration from Laos and l{orth Vietnam. 2('17/ The aegree to -which the suspensions of joint planning actions affected the judgments of the South Vietnamese generals is, of course, not clear. ~ihat is apparent, hOl ever, is that this factor together with careful. Embassy and. Administration efforts to clarify possible misunderstandiD.gs led the generals to reconsider~ By 28 December, Ambassador 'Taylor vas reporting encouraging signs of an accommodation. 208/ On the 29th, .Secretary Rusk advised the ?resident that the "generals vere. having '.~ seecnd thoughts" and that "he hoped. to see signs of political u.."lity in Saigon soon," These comments were made in close cooperation with repor'ts .

I • -


... '






.. ':.

19 '.



t=at the J....d2:li.nistration nOi'l reIt 'that PreI:!ier Huong's ca.binet might require broad.er representation. Fin::.lly, on the 9th, the generals pledsed to return to terms agreed to during the previous J.ugust 'Whereby matters of state ~ould be left in the hends of a civilian goverr~ent. The joint cor.:nur.ique issue-i by Huong and Knani. also pro!rl.sed .to speedily . ,convene a representative constituent as,se~:-lj" to replace the F-igh rational Council. 2091 •

" The generals' reaasessment s vere no doubt helped by a strong U. S. public stater:.ent, directed. to"~ard the s<>uth Vietna:m.ese press, explaining the 'J.S~ policy position to~·'ard that country's political. situaticn. In language strikingly similar t~ the ?resid.ent' s draft instructions .to Taylor, it included. the folloidng: "The prma.ry concern of the Unitei States Govermnent and its representatives is that there be in Saigon a stable goYerntl,ent in place, able·to speak for all its co~por.ents-, to cexry out plens and to execute decisions. Uithout such a. goverr1:.ent, United. States ccoperatdcn with and assistance to South Vietnem cannot be effective. " •••The sole object of Unitei stat.es activities has beC4"1 and continues to be the reestabli d.:::er.;t as quickly as l>ossible of. conditions favorable to the zore effective prosecution ot the "AU agairlst the Vie~coq;.II 210/ Consistent with the expressei ~.S. ~olicJ position, discussions bet~een U.S. and GY.:; officials concerning expanjed assistance to tt.e South Vietna:lese 'War effort l':ere resumed en 11 J~l';.ary. 2111 . However~

the apparent reconciliation of Sou.th Viet.na!!1's military' and civilian leadership ~-a.s short-li'lej. Close on the heels of an . ' announced G~7 decision (17 Ja.."lu!.ry) to increa.se its milit ar:t dre-it calls -- long aivocated. by the U.S. rassion -- student and Buid-hist riots s\':ept .t1".rough :iue end Dalat. On tl:e 20th, as arra.'l.ge:::ents vere co:Jlp1eted to appoint four leading generals to Premier Huong t s cabinet, a leading Buda~ist official issued a procl~ation accusirig the Huong Government ot ,attE=.?ting to split the Eudlhist moveaent, 0:'2 the 21st, ~ri Quang issued a ~tat6:lent charging that the Huong Goverl:!lent could not exist ·'dthout U.S. support, a. charge. that ga.ined in intensity in the days to tollow. On the 23rd, 3uddhist leaders ordered a military struggle e.gainst the United States. Denouncing Premier Huong as a lackey of the U.S. Junba.ssa-. dor, they accused Taylor of seeking to wipe out Buddhism in Vietnam. In Hue, studerrt -Lec, de:onstrators sacked. the tSL'. librexy and destl'oyed. an estiJ:lated. 8,000 books. Two days later, riots and strikes l-:ere in progress in Rue, Saigon and Da nang, and Rue was placed under martial law. l.fean"\orhile, ci.litarJ leaders were atte::pting to convmee Buddhist spoke men to call off tt.eir detlonstrations against the G'fF and the United states. Finally, on the 27th, the generals "Aithdre'\; their support from the Huong

GoverrJ:le."lt, and ~eneral }:t~:h iss't~ei a state!:lent that he 1\"a.S resuming -oo\,er lito resolve t:le :political situ9.t.ion. II 800:1 after, the Budd:r~st ienders Lssued orders to tr:eir follo,:~ers to halt t.heir d~onstrations,.. at least until they had sufficier.t opportunity to observe the performance of the nev regime. 21'2/ ": Thus, in late Jen.uary, the ;Jnited. states Governr.i.ent wa.s faced "Ti~h a dile."'r.r.la. In Dece:::1ber, it had spoken (Jut quite clearly to the effect +hat its cor~tinued assdst.ance along previously determined. poliey lines vas dependent upon the effective fu.'1ctionir.g of a duly constituted South Vietnamese Govern=.er..t. By its actions a."ld state.-nents during the initial Decemoer "crisis, it had in:Ucated. that t:~.Lat ~t had. in mind l:as a civilian regme governing v:ithout interference fr~ any particular group. l~ou, less than a. zorrth fron the settlement of the fOI!!!.er crisis along lines compa.tible ...l oth the pr~:errea u. S. solution, it vae faced ,dt.h another military coup. A ti.--::e for z-eaasessdr.g forr::.er policy decisions a.'l~ ta1ti.r:g stock of: tee shii'tir.g de'hits ani assets irl the U.S. position had arrived.

Joint RE::prisals. l:ean't.,'"hile, an issue of great sig!'lificance to the hb:rl...1'listration, as "t:ell as to future relatio::s ~dth the GVIi) was adding to the gro~~g dissatisfaction ¥ith pro~ess achieved in other Phase Cr.e actions. One of the basic eler.er.ts In Phase O:1e polic:;r "as to have been ~oint G'n.:/US reprisal ac~·ions in res:;=>f.se to e.r~J "unusuaf, actions" b~r the ve. 1:hen facei •..-itt a sisr.ific~t pro-,rocE-,tion at the erld of Decenber, the Adci~istratio~ fail~l to a~~corize s~ch actions. At the tme, the circutlstances in SO'4th 't!ietn21:l p!'o'lidei cogent reasons for not doing, so, but it nEr/ertheless represented a significant departure fran the agreed policy position. c.

At the height of the first gcvemzent cr Ul.S, 0:1 Cr-l"istmas Eve, the Brink U. S. officers billet in do";;r.to\·:n ~aigo::l vas bo:nbeo. and severelYda'r.!agea.. 'I\10 P2ericans vere kille3. and. 58 injurei; 13 Vietna.'llese also . were injured. 213/ 1;0 susyicio";J.s person xas observed Lear the building) so the reponsible party "t:as uaknovn, In reporting t~~e inci.:le~t, fl.m. bassador Tailor treated it as an occasion for re"Crisal action. ~he imcejiate Ldministration esses~er.t was that un1er current political circumstances, neither the .~.!:erican pUblic nor internatio:lal oyinion might believe that the VC lai done it. l~oreo'{er, 'With clear evidence lacking, it felt that eo reprisal at this ti!n.e might appear as though "we are trying to shoot our ... ~ay out of an internal political crisis." Giver.L the political disu..'lity in Saigon, the Administration believed Ilit would be hard for ffihij ;.:.erican people to undez-st end action to extend' war. II Therefore, so tte reasoning l";ent) it 'Would. be und.esirable to undert.a.'lte reprisals at that t:b:!e. r!o....ever, in cabling this e.ssessment, Secretary Rusk added: "but 'We are prepared. to J:1~ke qUick decision it you !JaylO!? make recomend.ation. wit~ different assessment of above factors or "d.th otter factors not covered above. II 214/





Recommendations to take reprisal action caae from several q'U,q'~~::;~~~<:: ters. Citing "lhat it callei "a further in::licatiorl ll of Viet Cong res~n~."~::: sibility, and cautioning asai!lst addi:lg the 3rir..k affair to the Bien Ho&;. ;.~. instance of' u.'1reciprocated eneny provccat.Lon, CIFCPl.C urged a reprisai', ':" ::~,::;~ attac.1t. lie argued that t.he t1bombing of Brink EO~ vas an act ai:med ,directly at U.S. em.ed forces in :nr.::" and tha.t failure to res'Pond,,,,"oul.d ;":::::~~' only encourage further attacks. 215/ l.m.'bassador 'i'aylor forwarde::l1ihat "~::;' he termed "a una...."l:Unous zecomaendatdon11 bY' hi.r.l.self and menbers of' the u.~',S...~::: 1-1ission Council lIthat a' reprisal bC::1bing attack be executed. fj.S SOO!,l as" :<.;:, possibli!u on a specified target "accomparded by state!len~ rela.tP1gt~:;::; a.ction to 3ri!'.k bc::loing. 1l lie statei t.~at "no OAe in this partQf the,~. world has ffi'ra~7 slightest doubt of' VC guilt" and pointed. out tba~the ~~, .:: was publicly taking credit for the incident. 2l~/ Citing Taylor'.s :.. .res,uest and. cO:l.curring in his x:eccze~ldation, even to tee spec~fic target '.' selection, the JCS added their voices to these arguing for reprisals. ··%it::', their pro:9~sed execute message to C~~G?AC, they proposed a one':'day . ", ' . mission by 40 strike aircra!'t against the Vit 'I'h1.'l Lu !-.rr:.y barracks. 3'urther, the::l recceeended that the \!:~.'.]' should pe.rticipate if their state of readtnees and tme permitted. 217/ . -'..! ..


In spite of these strong reccraendatdons , the decision was 111ll.!~:::·';"'; not to reta.liate for the Erink borabdng incid.ent. On 29 December, tlle.:·~·:::~~:··: folloidng neasage was dis;'atche-i to the !J. S. e.'!lbassies in Southe5.st ,As!.;:: ::. a.'1d. to CII:C?J.C: "Highest leyels toi:.y rea.(;:~-='i r:esath-e decl.sdon on proposal ,; •• for reprisal act.Icc -rOi.' ZC'::'· 'bC;:":JiIJg. ~';e idll be sending fuller statement of zeasonfng a::d constderat.tons affecting future actions a.fter Secretary's return fro::l'ieY-e.s totight." 2l~1' Availa~le

materials do not include anJ further explanation. ,-"'20.., , -

3. Policy


in Januar:r

As the new year began, the A~ni~istratiou vas beset with frustration oyer an apptzrent lack o~ i.r.~act from Phase: One operations t over its failure to take reprisals after en attack on 3. S. perso1lIlei, and over the still troublesome crisis i·rithin the GVl~. In t!rl.s mood, u. S policy vas subjected to vardous kid.s of criticisn and. cC:::=lent. Seme .... caae from within the ,Ac1ninistr€'_tio~, various reactions caae from outside" .,-: it. J: .' a. Pl:.blic Debate. l:..t the height of the GV'l': erasas, a number of ne.. .rspapez-s ard ;erioiicals joine.:i '\dth the already co~tted' (in ' opposition) and. irJf'luent.ial ::e'" York 'l'h"les and St. Louis Post Dispatch in questioning U.S. objectives L'1 Southeast Asia and/or ad~locating ,U.S.'. " withdrawal from the entanglements of South Vietna.."Il. 219/ In the mids't· ~:":' of t.his kind of :public questioning, a. l:i,-jor debate arose aJ!long Del:loers'.· ,:: of Congress and enaeahed, on occasion, leading officials in the Adminis':"'; .~ tration. Leading ott in 0P90sition (26.December) vTas Senator· C~urch,


'\-Tho criticized U.S. involvement in South Vietnam. and. urged a shift of ~olicj.? in support o:f the r.eutralization o'f all So::.theast Asia. Senator Dirksen voiced a&reenent (Z January) ¥ith the need for a policy reass~ss­ ment , ~referably involving both the !.JJr.inist:rat.ion and bi-?al·tisan Congressioz:.al leadership, but he stated his ovn 7ie~~ that "to give up in .Vietnar:l means a loss cr face t!1roughC1.:..t the ::rier~t. II 220/

Th.e debate blossoaed in Jenuary. In a particularly active television day, Sundt.y, 3 January, Secretary !lusk defenaei Vietne!l' . policy in the context o'f a year-e~~ foreign policy report. Ruling out either a U. S. '\dthirs.~·:al or a major expansdcz of the var , Rusk gave assurances that '\"itil L"lternal un.ity, ani our aii and persistence the South Yietllanese could the~selves defeat the Lnsurgency, On another net..:orl:, three Senators expressed ;~?a.tif'~ce '\dth 0. S. policy in Vietnam and urgei a ?ublic reevaluatici of it. Senat.or !-:orse criticized our inv.ol':e.TilE:r.t in South Vietna:l. on a unil:;.teral b~sis, ;:hile Senators Coo:;ler and :·:onror.ey spoke in favor of a full-fle:le:~j ::'e:;"ate debate to " co:ne to grips" '·jith the situation there. Ser.ato::- :.~a~~sfield also appeared on the 3rd., to urge consideration of Cr:crch t s neu.tralization idea as an alternative to curreDt ~olicy but in kee~iL3 ~ith tre ~resident's desire neither to ...dttd.re:..: ncr c-e:rry the "'har to ::crth Vie"'.;!:C?.J:l. 22.1/ On the 6th, in r-esponse to en Associated Press survey, 'the vt evs in the Senate vere curte d1,·vi~e.:l 0'" 63 C:,:,""'·crs c~'W"''''I-''''''1,'""", • 4 .... v .......t:.. ,t,.. .....c, 31 ""'~-este'1 a s r.o··· to '0"_ _ -",'';~+",.:I ... ·tl .... t ~~ ..... "'}. v~· ,..~~., .• v.·~,,+ ...-~·r" .. .....o,.....,ne o...'t__ .·.·.,4 .. e't e=.en _1 Y.w w •• e a....l-_"' .._ ..... _~ v h~ .. :=--o~l.i..:. :\JS l·t·O 1 TlS'".. e re .';T~·''''·? , ' ... i ~ eo:::vv~c::.lJ -",""~"'{-,.. '.,....,..=.-'::"';'01" ~·i e-"''' othe ~ •..···ored ""-"',:.• 0, € j , "bil ~"_ e 10 T" _a.o_€: •. __'';'' l!._.. _~l.<.o V__c » ~_,,-.H. 't•• r ... _c::. • . c.c:~it!;=l"'~ of U. S. forcez aEai:1.~t ~~cr-:;: .... ::.:-c.~ :"~:l: 3 ,;.rge'i i:~TUed.iate ",~ith­ dre:;~al of ~..S. aivisers 81:.1. pilitar~; ail, an·i 11 s-:at.e:i 't~at they didn't }mo';; \~h:.t should be dO:le otr"er than to hel!> stre=:~then the GVil. On 11 Jam~ary, Sena-'uor ;ussell rE;c..~te1 ~o a 'b~ie~i=:c; 1:;..· cr.:. 1:irector !,:c~one l:ith a statement tha.t IIU :;> u.ntil :r.v;~ ve h rve been 1csir"~ ground instead of' gl:'.b.ing it. II He urged reeva'luat ion of the U.S. position in South Vietnr:.:!ll, cautioning teat unless a zcre effecthre goverrzierrt developed in Saigon tee situation 'Would. beccee a prolongci stal€uate at best. 22'2/ .~






On 14 Jan~i) as a result of rc~or~s of the loss of two U.S. jet cccoat aircraft over Laos, account.s of ~.S. eir op;rationsagain~t Laotian i~filtration routes gained ~ide circulation for the first tioe. One in p:.rticular, a ti.?I. story by Arthur Do~en, in effect blell the ' 1 on 't.e . ha eIllJU'e ent i ,.•,....,.,.... r •..,," ..... T • ,. '" In'::::), ""'3/ !..?~I~~ ....:.r...~ opere:.\.olon m .:.Jaos s~nce •.~ay OI ;1V'"l'. 1 1" Des~ite official State or Defense refusal to cCl:Ze!'~t on the nature of the Laotia..-i air missions, these' disclosures added nev fuel to the public policy debate. In a Senate speech the follo,dng day, in which he expressed. his uneasdness oyer "recent re:gorts of !.!aerican air strikes in Laos and !:orth Vietna!!, It Senator 1,:c:;o~Jel'n criticizej .....hat he called tithe policy, nO'ti gaining su.1>!)ort in ~'1ashington, of extell·iing the war to the north." lie denied that bC!Ilbing iforth Vietnam could llseriously 'Weaken guerrilla fighters 1,000 miles away" e!ld. urged. seeking a "political settle.~e:ltII 1:1 th !;or't-l1 Vietne.=l. On t~e 17th, Se!'.ator Saltonstall told a radio aud.ience that he thought bombing the su,:ply lines in Laos was


. 74.

vas "the right thing to do. II Sel1ator Long e:ld CongresS1lla."1 Ford. indicated on a 'N program. that they dian't feel that such operations vere "a particularly dangerous course" for the nation to fello'll and that they 'Were . the kind of' actions that could help protect our forces in South VietnaJll. Senator :!orse criticizei the bor.t'bin~s as part of' the Administration's '":f:oreign policy of ccnceatnent in South~ast :osia. II On the 19th, in the Benete , he repeated his blasts, charging that the air strikes igr.ored the 1962 Geneva Accords ani violated the nati 011 , s belief in "su'bstituting the rule of lavI for the jungle 1a,~ of military !!light. tI Broadening his attack he 'Harned. that "there is no hope of avoiding a massive ,,:ar in Asiall if the \1. S. policy to'i~ard Southea.st Asia vere to continue lTithout change. 224/ b. Policy Assesrnents. ~he intensifying public debate and the events and f'orces l::uch preci:!,)itated it brought about an equally searching reassessment of policy v~ithin tr..e Administration. ~'lhile th-ere is little Evidence in the available materials tt~t shows any serious questioning of f'ormer policy decisions ~ong the Principals, questioning did occur \dthin tr.e agencies 'Which they r-epresented, It is clear th".t sene of' the ju1&r.lents a:ld alternative a~?roaches v:ere discussed with these I:SC members, and presmoably ~ sene f'oU!ld their ",:ay into discussions ldth the ?resident. One v,ery significa\'lt and. :probably i..":fl~cr.tial vie'.o.-point vas regist.ered. by t~e Saigon Iri'oassy. In a me:; sage (?!,3 E) descr-Ibed as, the reflections of Alexis Johnson c:.~i .~bassaior 'iaylor on \:hich General \':estnorela:ld concurred; theotl"'..r"-lst 0:" the advice se,;,~ei to be to move into Phase Two, almost in spite of the ~olitical out~c~e in Saigon. Af'ter listing fo"..iX possible "schrtdons" to the tl:e~-~settled GV.',; crisis) Taylor identifie-i either a milite.r:r takeover coupled '~ith Huong's resignation or a successor civilian gover!~ent dcoinatei by the Illilitary as eg,ually the 'Worst possible outcones , (It is :iJ!!;ortant to note here that, de~endbg on hov one inter!,rets the structure of the . Ja::luary 27th regi.l:e~ one or the other of these vas in fact the case at the beginning of the tir strikes in February, 19-55.) In the event of such an cutccne , Taylor argued that the Ut:ited states could either "carryon about as ve are nov" or "seek to' dise~~ga~e frot:!. the present intinacy of' relatio!lship ~:ith the G",rgn \d:ile ccntdnudng lito acce:;t responsibility for [J.tiJ air a:ld maritime def'ense ••• against the D~V.lI In the case o~ disengagement, he argued, the ~nited. states could off'set the ...,. danger of South Vietnamese leaders being pa.:licke.i into making a d.eal with the :i~LF "if we were engaged in reprisal attac.'lts or had. initiated Phase II operations against DaV." The message then summarized the three different coniii·ions under 'Which the l:ission ·)fi'icials thought Phase ~~o operations could. be undertaken: '~.

In association with the GVr ~-=-ter the letter has proved itself as a reasonably stable governaerrt able to control its ar.med forces.

• 75

B. Under a. s1tuatio!l such as now as an elersency stmulant hopef"illy' to create unity at hoae and restore failiJle; morale.




As a unilateral U. S. a.ction to ccercensate for a red.uced in-country 'U.S. presence; ". (L;nderlining added)


. In other



under any conceivable> alliar.ce condition short' of cOtlplete U.S. ebandcnment of' South Vietnm, .''\!:1ba.ssaJ.or ~aylor and his top-level associates in Saigon saw the graduated. air strikes of Phase ~"O as an appropriate course of: action. As they cO:lcluiej, l'l:ithout Phase n operations, ve see slight chance of 1:'loving to.. .: ard a successful solution.·"2.'f?l

~'!ithin the nore influential sectior.s cf the State Department, policy zeexammatdcn took a sinilar, thou~h not i:lentical, tack. Rather than ad.just ti:e substance or projected. extent o£'·the pr e ssur-es policy, the tendency was .to ·recalculate and adjust tl:e condf,tions under which it \:as considered a?lll'~ri:.te to a:?ply it.. ':he !:.otivation fora reassessment \o:as the sense of' h:l;9e!lding disa~ter in SO'Qth Vietns:!!l. l!hat the Saigon Enbassy reports appear' to h:.ye portra~,.ei at the tme as concrete instances of foot-dragging, political naneuverfng; and sparrdng rQr adventage ~:.or.g :;oolitieal and r.ilitary Leaders seen to have been interpre. d'an T~ •• ~ • i'ang se 1-ouc 1 ' t 0 rne . r. ..--T~"'" 1 the '&e •. e.sf.:.1.n~ ...on as an Jr.l:pen ,~. ~or exa~e, Assistant Secretary fer Far :astern Af:"'airs, ':;:0· had been an important partici?~1t i!l the ~olicJ and. d.ecisior:-!::'}:ir~g processes tr.lI'ol:sh most of 1964, offc:red the follouing prognosf s :

" ••• the situation 1.'1 Vietn~""1 is no:..~ likely to ccne apart more rapidly tha.'1 'Ie had antici}Jated in :·o.....enoer, \':e i\'ould still sticl~ to the estdnatie that the nost likely form of cc::rl.ng apart 'Would be a geverenect or key groups starting to negotiate covertly ,rith the Liberatio:l :tront or Eancd, perhaps not asking in the fust instance that :,.:e get out, but with that necessarily follold.ng at a fairly ear~· stage. 11 226/. The perceivea ~pacts of' a collapse in S~igon on other nations perhaps even more than the political fortunes of South Vietna'll. it.self -vere a signif1ct:.:lt part' of the State Departmerrt calculations (Tab F). If a unilateral :'VietI!l!!!l solution" vere to be a~!'E.~l€ej, so the t!'.irJdng \'~ent in Janue.rJ 1965, not only would Laos a!ld C~bciia be iniefens1ble, but ~bail8LdI s position 'Would beccme unpredictable. Bundy v;rote: . "?·1ost seriously, there is grave question vhethez- the Thai in these circumsta.."lces would retain any I.:onfidence at all in , our contdnued support ••••As events have developed, the J.merican pUblic would. probably not be too sharply critical, but the real q~estion v:ould be 'Whether' 'I'haila.~d ar.d other natdens were wea..'ltened and tak€;n oyer thereafter. rl

The reasons wp-y this kind of in:;::act ~a.s believed. li.ltely vas relatei tt> a perceivei lack of reaJ.ism or effectiveness in U. S. policies durir.g the late autua'1. 3unjy reflecte.i ~ a:;-:;arer..t ly "ridely scared concern tha.tAdministration ac:tio!ls and state::l.ents since the election had convinced. the Vietnamese an.i other ..\ sia:.s that the U. S. 3Qvern::ent d.id not intend 'to take stronger action and vas "pos sibly leoking for a 'Way out." Eoreover, he saw this mpression being created by our llinsisting on a more perfect governme.."lt than can reasonably be expected, before we consider any a·iditional action -- and that . . re might even pullout our support unless such a go","errJli:ent,·et1el'~es. n ' 227/ To change this


and reverse the disturbing trer.is,

Bundy and others in state suggested stronger actions, even though recogni?ll1.g that these actions incurred. certain risks. HO~7ever the ir·'l"'edia.te

actions suggested. fell so:!l.e;;hat stort of Phase Tl-!o (a term that "'as not used. in the correspondence). They irlcluded: (1) "an early occasion for reprisal action ••• ";' (2) "possibly beginning lml-level reconnaissance o'f the D?V ••• "; (3) "an orderly '\';'ith5.ra'\·:al of our dependents , II \,.hich ,,;:as temed "a grave mistake in the absence of stron~er action"; and (4) "introd.uction of looted u.S. gro~d. "forces into tr.e northern e.rea of South Vietnam•.• concmTently viith the first a.ir attacks into the D:.l.V. II They dOi'~r.~rajed the potential of f"..rrther intensifying the air operations in Laos, indicating that such actions ''1-:auld. not neet, the problE:!:l of Saigon norake" 2.f;i mght :precipitate a ItCcn::1unist intervention on a su'bsta11tial scale in Lacs ..•• IT Tl:.~ perceived risks of the suggested actdons i":ere: (1) 2. ee~pe:::e~ u. S. ~O!:T".1l m.ent at a tme ,·:hen South Vietnmese ,:ill appeared. ~ea:~; (2) the likelihood of: provoking' o~en op:;osition to U.S. policies in nations l;ke India and. Japa.'l; (3) the uncertainty of 2.J."ly"meaningft:l stiffening effort on the G"'[;; and (4) the inability of "limited actions against the southern DJ.V" to sharply reduce infiltration or "to induce Ha.noi to call it off.:l 228/ If the gre.d.uated, "progressively mounting, II air o~eratio!ls ot Phase II vere mpliei by these suggestdons , it a:c::pears that they _ere perceived as being entered rather gingerly and '\iith little intent to intensify them to whatever extent might be required. to force a. decision in Eanoi. Rather, the expecta.r..cies in state '\":ere q:l1ite different: "on ba Iance i-Ie belie",e that such action. 'i\'O'.lld. have sor-e faint hope of really :im;ro·.ring the Vietn~ese situation, and, above all, 'l\'ould put us in a much stronger position to hold the neA~ line of defense, namely Thailand. tI r.:oreover, Bunjy and others felt that even with the stronger a.ctions, the negotiating process that they believed was bound to come about could not be expected to bring about a really secure and independent South Vietnam. still, despite "..his shortcCl!li.ng, they reasoned that their suggested' Ustronger actions ll vould have the desirable effect in Southeast Asia: " •• •we 'Would stilI have appeared to Asians to have done a lot more about it." 229/


reputation. In his view the latter vas the more w;lorta.'"lt of the two. Sh:.rlllg the state vie;; that So-.:th -'o"ietne.1:l "as 'being lost ("this 'means teat a go-rermnent not unfriendly to tee ~?V 'Will probably emergewithi~ t,;o years"), he believe1 th~t the ~:.S. reputation Kould suffer least tlif ve continue to s11p:90rt South Viet:'f..=1 a!:·~ if Khanh and. company con,tinue to behave like children as the gf.:J:ie is lost. II Ho.·:ever,· he pointed. out that "dogged perseverance" -..:as also·recc::J!lended. because th~situatio.n lllight possibly m:prove. 233/ In specific terms, :,~c!:aughtc:l defined. perseverance as including the follo'dng course of action:

"a• Continue to take risks on behalf of Sih;. A re~isal should be carried Ol~t soon. (~e:;en1cnts could be removed at that time.) ' :';' .;,:"':. ' b. Kee!> slugging a'Tt'!ay. :~ee:? help flO'tdng, EFT do not . t'ne numuer 'lo. ~ T'S ::~e:l 1.:1 • S''''(~r, dd" . 1 us so1. UlCl'ease c.......: ! ,. • l.'t.1.ona. diel's are as likely to be caur,:~er-prv:il.'l.ctive as productive.)

c. Do nct lead. or ap:?ear to lea1. in any negotiations. ' Chances of reversing the tide yill be better' and, if we don't reverse the tide, our re?".ltatio:. ,·:'ill energe in better condition.


d. If ve Leave ., be sure J."" a s a 5.e?arture of the kind which would put eYeryor~e oa o~ side, ,~ondering :to~·; '\o:e stue~ it and took it so long. II .

In the event of ina.bility to preve.r..t deterioration \rithi."l South Vietnm, he urged. the de...,elo~ent or ple::.s to zove to e. fall-back position by helping shore-up Thailand and ~·~alaysia. 234/

An OSD assesSI:len.t ma:ie iI=eiiately after the }:hanh coup ,in late

Js.."luUy ad.is !lerspeetive to this vie---poir.t. In it, l!c:raug.."ton stated. and Secretary ::c:.:ama.ra agreed, ""J.S. objecti7e L"l South Vietnan is not to 'hel!» friend t but to contain China. II In p~ticular, both !·:al.aysia and. Thaile-'ld. llere seen as the next targets of Chinese aggressiveness. I-7either official sai\"' any alternati.... e to "kee!> plugging" insofar as U. s. efforts inside South Vietne..1l l;ere cceicerned , However, outside the borders, both fa-\j-ored initiating s'tri.ltes against i:orth Vietnam. At first, they believed, these should take tte form of' reprisals; beyond. that, the Adl:rl.nistration \:ould have to ufeel its way" into stro!lger, grad.uated. pressures. }.~c!7aughton doubted that euch strikes 'Would actu~ help ~he situation in South Vietnam, b'.lt tho.ught tneY.•shoul,d be carried out ep.y;.:ay. i·~c:i!amara believed. they probably l:O"ll1d help :the ~ ituation, .in addition to their broad.er mpacts on the U. S. pOsition in Southeast Asi.a. 235/ .


~hough different in so=ne respects , all of these policy views pointe-i in a sir.dlar directio~.· In his o..en y~ay, each Principal argued that it vas u-"1prod.uctive to h:>ld off on furt.her actions against ~;orth. Vietn~ until the G'h~ began to o~erate in en effective manner-, Each suggested broader benefits "that coula be gain€j for tpe United States . if fimer measures were taken directly against the DRV. .

The impact of' these vie.~s can be seen in the policy guidance emanating fr~ ~·rashington 1.'1 mid ar.d late January 1965. For example t on the 11th, ~~bassad.or Taylor vas apprisei- of AdIninistration doubts that General :illanh had. put asi:ie his ir.tentions to stage a coup and v:as given ccunsef for such an e·;entuality. 3ssentia.lly, the guidance was to avoid actions that ~·~ould. furt~er co-:nmit the 'Vnited states to any particular rorra of political ~olution. 'i'he unierlying rationale ex:pressed was that if' a militat;y- government did. e:erse, "i:e might well have to swallo'\"l our pride end. ..:ork 'jith it. II 236/ A!lparently, the Adtrl.nistration I s ade::!.a.."lt insistence on en effe:ctiYe GYj,~ along lines s;pecifiei by the Unitci .States had been eroded, rlo\rever, on the 14th, guidance to Taylor in~icated that the li.i\":linistratior. ha·j not yet detemined. to :move into a p~ase of action ]:lore vigorous' than the current one. In the iJ:lmediate ","ake of ~ublic disclosures concerning the bC!:lbing operations in Laos, Secretary Rusk concurred. in Taj-lor' s :P!'?!><,sal to brief the en:: Leader-s on these operations, 1:r:.lt cautioned. aga.inst encouraging"· . ezpec t at "loons S zove s aza:l!:s - t""" 0 f nev -. u•• 't.•ie, ." i.ort"n. xus k consa-dere d thelor "it"essential that they not be gi\"e~ ffir~~7 i!r.pressicn that ffi.:RRZL ROLL, etc.J represerrts a :cajcr st ep-up of activity apinst the D~tv or tt~at it represents an bportal'lt nex phase of 'J.S. opE:re:tio!"al activity. ".;'?37/ 'lhe iL:me3.iate Jnatter for speculation vas the striking of a key hit,;.'1 .)'ay brid.gE: ir: L:':>5: b".lt the pr08Tar!l still called. for t,:o liussions per \:eek. '!"\



Clear indicat.ion that the .~.dministration '.. 2.S contemplating some kind. of increased. military activity cane on 25 Jant<.ary. .A.l!lbassador 7aylor vas asked to ecnaerrt on the IJrepartnental vie~'~ that U. S. dependents should be withdra,m to "clear the decks" in Saigon and enable better concentration of' U. S. efforts on behalf of South Vietnam. 233/ Previously, the JCS had reversed tteir initia.l :position on this issue and requested. the remoYal, a viel: .,,,hicn vas fOTl·rarjed. to State "for consi'leratio~ at the highest le-:els of" G07err.:I!er..t" il: :I:li:1':Je.."l~e.ry. 239/ P.eca.lling the Bundy policy assesszent, of 6 Je.ntl.S.ry (T.A.s F), it "lill be noted that clearing the decks by removing dependents vas recolllIllended only .. in association with "stronger actions." Rowever, there is no indicat~on of any decision at this point to aeve into Phase T-A"o. The Rusk cable ~e specific reference to a current interest in reprisal actions. Noreover;' coosicl~re.t ion of later events and decis':.ons compels the judgment that it 1r.'aS on1¥. reprisals which the Administration had. in mind as . Januar¥ drew to a -close•. . .... • e~'


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