399. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Sharp)1

1470. 1. At high level meeting today2 considering possible US courses of action in Southeast Asia, thought was expressed that appropriate response to Bien Hoa attack is in order but such response need not be immediate. However, another similar VC attack would require immediate action by US forces possibly on the order of 1B of CINCPAC Frag Order 3.3 Request that you ensure readiness of your forces to mount such an operation expeditiously.

2. FYI. Concern was voiced as to adequacy of security measures around air bases and other sensitive US installations. CJCS asserted that COMUSMACV has undertaken with South Vietnamese military authorities upgrading of security to extent practicable.

3. Possibility of reducing congestion on South Vietnamese airfields by relocating certain units to airfields in Thailand was discussed informally. The view was expressed that removal of part of US air elements to Thailand might occasion reactions unfavorable to us in both North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Request your comment.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Vietnam Country File, Vol. XXI, Cables. Top Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Wheeler. Repeated to the White House and the Department of State.
  2. The meeting took place at 1 p.m. at the White House and was attended by the President, Rusk, McNamara, McGeorge and William Bundy, and Ball. (Ibid., Johnson Daily Diary and Rusk Appointment Book) For another brief account, see infra.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 395. Action 1B provided a secondary list of barracks, ports, and supply depots in North Vietnam for first day strikes.