72. Letter From the President to the Secretary of Defense (McNamara)1

Dear Mr. Secretary: I am giving you this personal letter instead of any more formal instruction, as you leave on your important mission to Saigon, but I shall be grateful if you will share it with the senior officers who are going with you.

I will not ask you now to prepare a formal report, but I do hope that you and your colleagues will work together to bring back the most careful possible assessment of the situation and of the best possible courses of action for improving it. Some of these possibilities have been discussed in a preliminary way here in recent days, but what we now need is an assessment of all the possibilities and needs on the spot.

I particularly want your opinions and recommendations to be framed in the light of your discussions with Ambassador Lodge and his colleagues, and with the leaders of the Vietnamese Government. I look to you, as its senior officer, to coordinate the work of this mission.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 1470. Presidential Instructions. No classification marking.