30. Memorandum From the Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff (Riley) to the President 1



  • Availability of Forces for Deployment to Saigon

Three Marine BLT’s, totaling 4,500 men, have been positioned with necessary sea and airlift so that the three reinforced battalions and command elements can close Saigon in 24 hours. Initial heliborne elements from TF 76.5 would close Saigon in two hours.

One BLT, at sea, can close Saigon in eight hours, with initial elements arriving in two hours. This BLT is now located 50 miles East of Cap St Jacques (70 miles from Saigon). With advance warning, as tensions increase, this force can be moved closer to shore and reaction times reduced accordingly.
Two BLT’s are on a four hour alert with associated airlift at Okinawa, 6:40 flying hours from Saigon.

One additional Marine BLT afloat has been directed to a position off Vietnam and will be on station in approximately six days.

For backup, there are two additional battalions on Okinawa: one Marine BLT and one battalion of the 173d Airborne Brigade. This backup force totals 2,700 men.

Herbert D. Riley
Vice Admiral, USN
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Files, Memos and Miscellaneous. Secret. A note on the source text indicates that this memorandum was taken from the President’s Reading File, dated August 31.