239. Memorandum From the Secretary of State 1s Special Assistant for Vietnam (Forrestal) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1
I attach a preliminary summary made here of the anticipated deployments of the additional military personnel requested by General Taylor for Vietnam.[Page 559]
The picture is still incomplete, but I think you should note that approximately 1,600 U.S. officers and enlisted men will be assigned to the field, either with battalions or in district headquarters. This will probably mean that American servicemen will accompany more Vietnamese units into combat, increasing their exposure at the battalion level by some 40%.
The presence of approximately five U.S. servicemen in each of the critical 45 districts will also have an appreciable effect on exposure, since their job would presumably be to accompany district military forces into combat with the Viet Cong.
I think the issue we have to think about is whether it is better simply to let casualties increase over the next few months or whether we should anticipate the possibilities of such casualties by announcing in general terms that we are increasing our advisory presence in the field.
My own inclination is still to do the latter, not by talking about specific numbers, but rather by indicating informally to the press that our civilian and military advisory effort is going to be increased as the situation demands and that the result of this will probably be more exposure of U.S. personnel.