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

MAC 3320. Ref: A. JCS 2400-65, 290035Z. B. Saigon 4422 to State, 29 June.2

1.
We have no evidence, to date, that the DRV and/or the Viet Cong have any inclination to modify their objectives with respect to SVN, or their basic methods for attainment of these objectives. While we can only conjecture as to the extent to which US air action against DRV will be [Page 76]expanded, or what international initiatives may be taken over the next few months, we do not believe that developments in either field will significantly alter DRV/VC intentions over the next 6 months.
2.
The foregoing said, the direct answer to your basic question is “no.” In other words, a force of 34 US maneuver battalions and 10 3d country maneuver battalions together with appropriate tactical air and balanced ground combat and logistic support will not provide reasonable assurance of attaining the objective you postulate (convincing the DRV/VC they cannot win). The DRV/VC are too deeply committed to be influenced by anything but application of overpowering force. Consequently, while infusion of US/3d country combat strength on the scale contemplated should reestablish the military balance by the end of December, it will not per se cause the enemy to back off.
3.
As you fully appreciate, the build up from the 17 maneuver battalions, in position on 1 August, to 40 plus battalions will extend throughout the remainder of the calendar year. Thus, over the next few months, the enemy will retain the capability of overrunning isolated district capitals; of severely interdicting land routes of communications; and of consolidating the rural areas he now dominates. As of January, and providing that the RVNAF has held its own in strength and combat effectiveness, we should be in a position to begin to wrest the military initiative, in selected areas, from the VC/PAVN forces estimated to be in SVN. At that juncture (or before), the enemy may elect to further augment his strength.
4.
With the foregoing considerations in mind, I adhere to the 44 battalion package as the proper and necessary scope of deployment authority at this time. (Parenthetically, all should understand that the ROK division is a firm part of the military requirement during the next several months. If the ROK division does not materialize, a US division must be committed in its place in the same time frame.) There are very practical limitations locally in the logistics areas, quite apart from those which will predictably confront the services. We will be hard pressed to receive, and commit to combat forces of the magnitude contemplated over the next 6 months.
5.
We cannot now state what additional forces may be required in 1966 to gain and maintain the military initiative. Obviously, many variables are involved—the most important of which is resources DRV may elect to commit. Instinctively, we believe that there may be substantial additional US force requirements. Analytic study of this whole subject is essential, and this we have initiated. We hope to have a fairly solid estimate by early August of the range of additional forces we may require. In this connection, following the Ambassador’s conversation with AVM Ky as reported Ref B, I met with General Co yesterday and arranged for follow-on discussions between Depuy and JGS J-3 (Thang) on a closely [Page 77]held basis. Through Thang—and without commitment—we will seek JGS views of the future course of the war, analysis of overall force requirements and estimate of what additional forces, regular and regional, it will be within GVN capability to provide. These inputs will be of considerable value to our essentially unilateral study.
6.
As seen from here, the requirement for some form of limited mobilization seems clear and pressing. Parenthetically, the impact of national decision to mobilize, albeit in limited degree, might well have more impact on Hanoi/Peking than the deployment of an army corps.
  1. Source: Center of Military History, Westmoreland Papers,COMUSMACV Message Files. Top Secret. Also sent to Admiral Sharp.
  2. Documents 28 and 29.