253. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1

Bob McNamara may bring over a cable to Taylor this evening which will rack up a number of instructions to the field to carry out some of the things that were discussed at lunch yesterday. (The current draft is at Tab A.)2 My own judgment is that direct orders of this sort to Taylor would be very explosive right now because he will not agree with many of them and he will feel that he has not been consulted. He heard about the airborne brigade by a premature JCS message of yesterday and has already come in questioning it.3

At Tab B is another cable from Taylor in which he gravely questions the usefulness of immediate additional ground deployments:4

I am sure we can turn him around if we give him just a little time to come aboard, but I am not sure that you yourself currently wish to make a firm decision to put another 10,000–15,000 combat troops in Vietnam today. As Taylor says, we were planning when he left to use the Marines already on the scene in combat roles and see how that worked. It is not clear that we now need all these additional forces.

Your own desire for mixing our Marines with theirs is quite a different matter, and I think that should be pressed sharply.

The net of this is that I would strongly recommend that you hold up on Bob’s telegram tonight and take time to talk it over with Rusk, McNamara and me either after the meeting with the Senators or tomorrow morning.5

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. IX. Top Secret.
  2. At Tab A was a draft of Document 256.
  3. See Document 251.
  4. At Tab B was a copy of Document 252.
  5. Bundy wrote at the bottom of the memorandum: “I have made an appointment for us with you at 11:30—subject to your OK.” No such meeting was held at 11:30 a.m. on April 15, but President Johnson did meet with McNamara and Rusk at 12:25 p.m. on April 15 for 4 minutes. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary)