316. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)1



  • Next Courses of Action in Southeast Asia
With reference to the draft policy paper, subject as above, dated 13 August 1964,2 the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in general accord with the policy and courses of action contained in the paper provided that more serious pressures, comparable to those referred to in subparagraph IV B of the paper, be implemented as necessary along with the limited pressures outlined in subparagraph IV A. This will provide for military courses of action, to include attack of targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), as necessary, with the objective of destroying the DRV will and capabilities to continue support of insurgent forces in Laos and the Republic of Vietnam.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the recent sharp and immediate military action taken by the United States against the DRV, more clearly than any United States action in some time, conveyed to both friend and enemy the measure of US resolution in Southeast Asia. The sudden advantage gained by this military action must be retained. The actions proposed in the draft paper, as modified by paragraph 1 above, if promptly pursued, should sustain the US advantage gained and, at the same time, maintain the higher morale and momentum generated in the Republic of Vietnam as a result of recent US military operations.
The next military courses of action in Southeast Asia are now being analyzed as a matter of urgency by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The referenced draft paper will be considered in the development of these military courses of action. Upon completion of this analysis, appropriate recommendations will be forwarded for your consideration before implementing actions are taken on the Bundy memorandum.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 69 A 7425, Vietnam 381. Secret.
  2. Attachment to Document 313.