97. Editorial Note

On July 28, 1965, President Johnson opened a mid-day press conference at the White House with a statement in which he explained that U.S. involvement in the conflict in Vietnam would be expanded. He stated that the United States intended “to convince the Communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power.” He said that General Westmoreland had outlined the forces needed to meet the “mounting aggression” in South Vietnam, and he added: “We will meet his needs.” He had therefore ordered U.S. forces in Vietnam increased from 75,000 to 125,000, and he noted that additional forces would be dispatched as they were requested. To meet the necessary increase in active forces, the draft call would be raised over a period of time from 17,000 to 35,000 per month. The President reiterated that the United States was ready at any time for unconditional discussions to move the conflict from the battlefield to the conference table. The transcript is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pages 794-796.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff began implementation of the President’s decision on July 28 by approving the deployment of the Air Mobile Division and the Marine Amphibious Brigade to South Vietnam. (Telegram 263 to Saigon, July 28; Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S) Embassies throughout the world were instructed to convey the substance of the President’s announcement to their host governments. (Circular telegram 141, July 27; ibid.) In Vietnam, the U.S. Information Agency released the text of the Presidential announcement to the local press and via radio, distributed some 200,000 illustrated pamphlets, and prepared 1 million leaflets with excerpts from the announcement for airdrop into North Vietnam. (Telegram 361 from Saigon, August 3; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. XXXVII, Memos (B))

On August 2, Bromley Smith reported to the President that 30 countries had reacted favorably to the announcement, 5 were apprehensive, and Ghana and all of the Communist states, except Yugoslavia and Romania, were critical. (Memorandum to the President; ibid., Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. XIII)

Discussion on Ending the War and Deployment of Additional U.S. Forces, July 29-November 26, 1965