103. Memorandum From Michael V. Forrestal of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Presidential Luncheon on Thursday, April 22

Here is a list of matters which I think you can profitably raise at the luncheon tomorrow.

Replacement for Ambassador Lodge brought about by his possible resignation after the Oregon primary.
Reassignment of General Harkins and reorganization of MACV. (I have submitted a memorandum to you on this subject.)3
Follow-up action with respect to Chantrea (I have submitted a memorandum to you.)4
Discussion of tactical problem of clear-and-sweep plus air strikes, versus clear-and-hold operations. (I would only raise this in an elliptical fashion if the chance occurs during the discussion of Harkins or Chantrea.)
Cross border operations between Laos and Cambodia. Although the JCS raised this question this afternoon, they were surprisingly mild. General Taylor, however, was not present, and he may suggest early action. Sihanouk having just made another turn-about, and Souvanna being in one of his periodical states of jelly—this is not the time to press against either of these countries. This is particularly true if we have any hope of laying a political base for direct pressure against the North. It is going to be difficult enough to lay such a base without also having to face the screams of the rest of the world that we are beating on two small and supposedly neutral countries.
Political scenario and military planning for pressures against the North. General Taylor has the political scenario which I developed5 and he may have read it. The Joint Chiefs got an oral description this afternoon and seemed receptive. However, they will only be getting the actual copies tonight. Judging from Goodpaster’s comments, Taylor seems wedded to the idea of moving from reconnaissance and cross border operations against Laos and Cambodia, and low-level reconnaissance over all contiguous countries through retaliatory actions by both US and SVN forces to full scale air strikes against the North. But we really do not know what his position actually is. The next step in this planning should be to have the JCS designate one or two senior officers to fill in the military part of the scenario.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. VI, Cables and Memos. Top Secret.
  2. The luncheon meeting took place from 12:35 to 2:54 p.m., April 2. (Ibid.. President’s Daily Diary) No record of the meeting has been found.
  3. Document 100.
  4. The Chantrea incident occurred on March 19 when South Vietnamese troops accompanied by two American advisers entered Cambodia in hot pursuit of people fleeing and believed to be Viet Cong. The Vietnamese Air Force directed napalm and machinegun fire on the village of Chantrea and a U.S. helicopter penetrated Cambodia. MACV reported that U.S. personnel did not fire on the fleeing civilians nor did they direct Vietnamese fire, but they were deficient in determining their geographical position. (Memorandum from Forrestal to the President, March 21; Johnson Library, White House Confidential File, CO 312 Vietnam) In a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, April 1, Forrestal suggested ways to assure that this type of incident did not happen again. (Ibid., National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. VI, Cables and Memos)
  5. See attachment, Document 102.