197. Johnson Report Outline1

I. Assessment.

Situation “has deteriorated rapidly and extensively in the past several months…. Time is running out swiftly in Vietnam and temporizing or expedient measures will not suffice….The United States possesses capabilities which, if applied with speed, vigor and imagination, can redress the present military imbalance without excessive risk of widening the conflict.”

II. Recommended Actions.

A. Measures to arrest the deterioration. To strengthen the RVNAF, to dampen infiltration, to improve hamlet security, and to improve appeal of the pacification program.

Provide 3 additional Army helicopter companies to increase mobility of forces.
Provide more 0–1 aircraft to create a saturation surveillance capability.
Establish a Joint (US-RVNAF) Target Research and Analysis Center.
Evaluate payoff from MACV’s use of jets in SVN. (Decide later if more needed.)
Increase the scope and tempo of US air strikes against DRV.
Remove restrictions on strikes against DRV (e.g., US-VNAF concurrency, denial of alternate targets, ban on classified ammos, narrow geographical limits, requirement to get Washington approval before striking alternates when weather bad).
Increase tempo and scope of SOG activities against the DRV. (This 34A operations.)
Increase air and naval reconnaissance and harassing operations against the DRV.
Re-orient Barrel Roll to increase military effectiveness against infiltration.
Use 7th Fleet to coastal patrol and to augment in-country recce and strike ability.
Give cash awards for capture of DRV junks.
Streamline procedures to give MACV quick release authority for construction funds.
Create a MACV-controlled stockpile of nearby construction materials and equipment.
Get Australia and New Zealand to run training-center phase of Reg. Forces’ training.
Create US-GVN psychological operations organization.
Position the remaining subsector advisory teams to improve the Pop. & Reg. Forces.
Provide cash contingency fund to each subsector advisory group ($50–100 monthly limit at first) to be distributed thru District Chief to civilians and Pop. Force soldiers as a reward for exceptional performance or small civic action projects.
Permit subsector advisory groups to draw on USOM food and building stocks.
Dredge DaNang, QuiNhon and NhaTrang to permit berthing of ocean-going ships.
Provide 4 LSTs and 6 LSUs for logistic support missions.
Accelerate program for more jet-capable airfields and runways programmed by MACV.

B. Measures to free some ARVN forces for offensive operations. “[T]he GVN effort is now stretched to the limit…the time has come to decide how much the United States is willing to commit to the security of South Vietnam within South Vietnam.”

either 1. Deploy US combat units (amounting to a tailored division force) to assume responsibility for the security of Bien Hoa/Tan Son Nhut, Nha Trang, Qui Non and Pleiku. This would free 6 ARVN combat battalions and 25 existing Regional Force companies.

or 2. Deploy US combat units (amounting to a tailored division force) to assume responsibility for defense of the provinces of Kontum, Pleiku and Darlac in Corps II. This would free 11 ARVN combat battalions for Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Phu Bon.

C. Measures to contain infiltration by land. Deploy a 4-division ground force (US or international under the SEATO treaty) south of the 17th Parallel across northern Quang Tri province and the panhandle of Laos to the Mekong.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, General Johnson Report. Top Secret; Sensitive. Apparently prepared by McNaughton. McNaughton sent this summary to McGeorge Bundy on March 15 under a covering memorandum stating: “Here is a summary of Johnny’s report. Bob [McNamara] asks that you not reproduce it or distribute it without giving him (or me) a call.” See Document 179 regarding the background of the Johnson report.