28. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)1

JCS 2400-65. References: A. MAC 3275.2 B. MAC 3283.3

As you know from my earlier cables we are considering urgently expanded military actions both in South Vietnam and North Vietnam. Our objective in South Vietnam is to prove to the VC/DRV that they cannot win in South Vietnam. To do this we propose to increase U.S./GVN military strength to the level required to counter current and likely VC ground strength. In North Vietnam our objective is further to curtail by airstrikes their capability and will to continue support to the VC.
At the present time you have in-country seven Marine battalions, two Army battalions and one Australian battalion. We have en [Page 70]route to you six U.S. Army battalions and two additional Marine BLTs with support including an F4B squadron and other elements totaling 8,000 Marine personnel. This will provide you by 28 July a total of seventeen U.S. and one Australian battalions. There seems to be good reason to believe that Korea will provide one division; however, the timing is unclear.
We are considering deploying to South Vietnam the air mobile division of eight battalions, the remainder of the 1st Infantry Division with six battalions and one MAB of three BLTs, a VFMA squadron and necessary support for a further Marine augmentation of 8,000 personnel. Additionally, we propose to deploy two 105-mm howitzer battalions, one 175-mm artillery battalion and thirteen companies plus two platoons of helicopters (initially five Army and eight Marine Corps), eight platoons of Chinook helicopters and three Hawk battalions. With a field force headquarters, four additional attack fighter squadrons, and additional logistic support, the total U.S. deployment will approximate 175,000 men. The force would comprise thirty-four U.S. maneuver battalions and ten third-country maneuver battalions.
In your judgment, is this proposed augmentation of U.S./GVN strength sufficient to give us reasonable assurance of achieving the objective set forth in paragraph 1, assuming the VC strength continues to be of the magnitude of your present estimates? Obviously, if the VC sizably augment their forces the situation will be changed. In other words, do you need now or foresee the need for more forces than those cited in above references and summarized (I hope correctly) in preceding paragraphs.
Once more I must ask you to give me your reply ASAP. I must have a paper on the JCS agenda on Wednesday which reflects your views. FYI: In another cable4 the JCS is querying you regarding the need for additional airfields of aluminum matting which would provide you greater in-country fixed-wing air support.
  1. Source: Center of Military History, Westmoreland Papers, COMUSMACV Message Files. Top Secret. Also sent to Admiral Sharp.
  2. In this telegram to Wheeler, June 26, Westmoreland discussed the disposition of U.S. and South Vietnamese forces in Vietnam and stated that the United States should not make any major change in its policy of supporting the RVNAF. “It is a Vietnamese war,” and “they are the only ones that can win it.” (Ibid.)
  3. In this telegram to Wheeler, June 27, Westmoreland discussed plans for augmenting U.S. military forces in Vietnam. (Ibid.)
  4. Not further identified.