324. Editorial Note

On December 16, 1961, a conference called by the Secretary of Defense to discuss Viet-Nam was held at the headquarters of the Commander in Chief, Pacific, at Camp H.M. Smith, Honolulu, Hawaii. The principal participants in the meeting were Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs William P. Bundy; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Lemnitzer; Commander in Chief, Pacific, Admiral H.D. Felt; Ambassador Frederick E. Nolting; and Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Viet-Nam General Lionel C. McGarr.

The agenda for the conference included the following items: (1) Review of Viet Cong operations since October 1, 1961, and forecast of their probable moves during the next 90 days and the next 180 days; (2) Description of SVN operations against the Viet Cong since October 1 and statement of the plan of operations for the next 90 days and the next 180 days; whether the position of the Viet Cong had on balance become stronger or weaker since October 1; what the forecast was for the next 90 and the next 180 days; (3) The major SVN weaknesses and what must be corrected if the Viet Cong were to be defeated; (4) The status of plans to achieve United States objectives in South Vietnam, including CINCPAC’s concept of the campaign plan for defeating the Viet Cong and the prospects for the development of a GVN overall plan; (5) Command relationships in the event United States Forces (USFV) were established; (6) The number of United States and GVN troops required to ensure the achievement of the established objectives; (7) Implementation of changes within the RVNAF agreed to by President Diem; and (8) A series of specific military measures, including provision to the RVNAF of additional helicopters, the improvement of air-ground support capability, and surveillance and control of costar waters and inland waterways. Copies of the list of the participants and the agenda, with progress to date and actions required on each agenda item, are in Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 68 A 5159, SGN (62) 19-GVN-DEFSECCINCPAC.

A restricted group of participants met at 8 a.m. to discuss procedures for conducting the conference and to approve the agenda. During this discussion it was decided to remove item 5 from the agenda. The meeting was then opened to a larger group of officers from the staffs present. The conference adjourned at 6:15 p.m. A 54 page summary record of the conference and the decisions reached [Page 740]was attached to a memorandum of December 18 from Felt to McNamara. (Ibid.) A 10-page memorandum for the record, prepared by Admiral Heinz, dated December 20 and designated I-19504/61, also recorded the highlights and the actions required as a result of the decisions by the Secretary of Defense during the conference. A copy of Heinz’s memorandum is ibid., RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Viet-Nam 1961-2 Dec. For shorter, less formal accounts of the discussion at the conference, see infra and Document 326.