170. Record of Action No. 2472, Taken at the 519th Meeting of the National Security Council1


Endorsed the basic presentation on Vietnam made by Secretary McNamara and General Taylor.
Noted the President’s approval of the following statement of U.S. policy which was later released to the press:3
  • “1. The security of South Viet Nam is a major interest of the United States as other free nations. We will adhere to our policy of working with the people and Government of South Viet Nam to deny this country to Communism and to suppress the externally stimulated and supported insurgency of the Viet Cong as promptly as possible. Effective performance in this undertaking is the central objective of our policy in South Viet Nam.
  • “2. The military program in South Viet Nam has made progress and is sound in principle, though improvements are being energetically sought.
  • “3. Major U.S. assistance in support of this military effort is needed only until the insurgency has been suppressed or until the national security forces of the Government of South Viet Nam are capable of suppressing it.

    “Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a limited number of U.S. training personnel. They reported that by the end of this year, the U.S. program for training Vietnamese should have progressed to the point where 1,000 U.S. military personnel assigned to South Viet Nam can be withdrawn.

  • “4. The political situation in South Viet Nam remains deeply serious. The United States has made clear its continuing opposition to any repressive actions in South Viet Nam. While such actions have not yet significantly affected the military effort, they could do so in the future.
  • “5. It remains the policy of the United States, in South Viet Nam as in other parts of the world, to support the efforts of the people of that country to defeat aggression and to build a peaceful and free society.”
  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Meetings. Secret.
  2. Document 167.
  3. Printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy , 1963, pp. 759-760. McGeorge Bundy sent Lodge the following telegram explaining this statement:

    “Statement issued after NSC meeting today represents President’s own judgment of common purpose and policy established by you and McNamara mission and is designed to strengthen your hand in next phase.

    “Urgency of immediate public proof of unity here prevented prior reference to you but President asked me to insure that if you need any adjustment or modif1cation you let us know.“ (CAP 63556, October 3; Kennedy Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country Series, State Cables)

    Lodge responded in telegram 624 from Saigon: “The statement is excellent in substance and well-tempered in tone. I am proud to be associated with it.” (Ibid.)