112. Memorandum From the Vice Presidentʼs Military Aide (Burris) to the Vice President (Johnson)1

SUBJECT

  • Situation in South Viet Nam

The Communist rebels continue their attacks with company and battalion-sized units, in contrast to much smaller groups of men formerly employed. Attacks are made against lines of communication and isolated guard posts. The brunt of the attack therefore is directed against the civil defense forces rather than against the principal units of the regular armed forces.

The propaganda barrage against United States assistance to South Viet Nam continues to increase and the rebels are receiving increased logistic support from North Viet Nam. Propaganda broadcasts to South Viet Nam have reached an all time high and emanate from many sources both within and without South Viet Nam.

. . . . . . .

The U.S. program in South Viet Nam still has not reversed the level nor intensity of Viet Cong operations. While I have not talked with Mr. McNamara personally on the subject, I am familiar with the substance of his meetings with the commanders in the Pacific. Further, discussions with General Taylorʼs office and with representatives from the Joint Chiefs’ staff have all so far failed to produce an estimate as to when the trend might be reversed.

One discussion on March 14 produced a rather interesting thesis that a decisive victory could never be achieved in South Viet Nam and that a Korea-style truce within that country would be the most that could be expected.2 One basis for this thesis is the policy of dealing, in effect, with each nation in Southeast Asia separately and in differing contexts. The Communists therefore take advantage of our truce efforts in Laos to supply Viet Cong forces in South Viet Nam, even utilizing the sanctuary of Cambodia. Soviet aircraft continue to operate with impunity in this effort. Suggestions have been made that actions be taken against these operations, but State rejects them as “aggressive” and “provocative”. The situation is analogous to that in Korea where Communist forces were supplied from bases just across the Yalu. Under these circumstances and restrictions our efforts in South [Page 238]east Asia will at most be no more conclusive than those in Korea. The costs will probably be comparable, and the Presidentʼs estimate of a ten-year effort is realistic.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Vice Presidential Security Files, Memos from Colonel Burris. Secret.
  2. No record of any meeting on March 14 has been found.