245. Draft Memorandum From Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson1

Now that a Viet Cong victory in South Vietnam seems to have been thwarted by our emergency actions taken over the past 18 months, renewed attention should be paid to the longer-run aspects of achieving an end to the war and building a viable nation in South Vietnam.

Central to success, both in ending the war and in winning the peace, is the pacification program. Past progress in pacification has been negligible. Many factors have contributed, but one major reason for this lack of progress has been the existence of split responsibility for pacification on the U.S. side. For the sake of efficiency—in clarifying our concept, focusing our energies, and increasing the output we can generate on the part of the Vietnamese—this split responsibility on the U.S. side must be eliminated.

We have considered various alternative methods of consolidating the U.S. pacification effort. The best solution is to place those activities which are primarily part of the pacification program, and all persons engaged in such activities, under COMUSMACV. Attached (at Tab A)2 is a chart showing the present organization in Vietnam, with the “pacification” activities indicated by the bolder bordered rectangles. Also attached (at Tab B) is an illustrative chart showing the proposed reorganization which integrates all pacification activities. In essence, the reorganization would result in the establishment of a Deputy COMUSMACV for Pacification who would be in command of all pacification staffs in Saigon and of all pacification activities in the field.

It is recognized that there are many important aspects of the pacification problem which are not covered in this recommendation, which should be reviewed subsequent to the appointment of the Deputy COMUSMACV for Pacification to determine whether they should be part of his task—for example, the psychological warfare campaign, and the Chieu Hoi (defector) and refugee programs. Equally important is the question of how to encourage a similar management realignment on the South Vietnamese side, since pacification is regarded as primarily a Vietnamese [Page 660] task. Also not covered by this recommendation are important related national programs, all of which have an obvious impact on the pacification effort—such as the anti-main force military activities and the efforts to control inflation. Finally, there is the question of whether any organizational modification in Washington is required by the recommended change in Vietnam.

I recommend that you approve the reorganization described in this memorandum as a first essential step toward giving a new thrust to pacification. Under Secretary Ball, Administrator Gaud, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director Helms, Director Marks and Mr. Komer concur in this recommendation.3

Robert S. McNamara4
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, SVN Trip, October 1966. Secret. McNaughton sent copies of this draft memorandum to Ball, Gaud, Helms, Marks, Wheeler, and Komer under cover of a September 22 memorandum, in which he stated that McNamara had been asked to prepare a draft reorganization of pacification responsibilities and wanted to discuss his draft memorandum the following week with a view to having it ready for the President during the first week of October. (Ibid.)
  2. Tabs A and B are attached but not printed.
  3. For Komerʼs response to McNamaraʼs recommendation, see Document 249. For Gaudʼs response, see footnote 6, Document 263. For Helmsʼ response, see footnote 3, Document 248. Wheeler responded in JCSM–626–66, September 29, concurring in the draft memorandumʼs concept of organization, particularly in the establishment of a Deputy COMUSMACV for Pacification who would direct all pacification activities. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 70 A 4443, VIET 380 PACIFICATION) In a memorandum to McNamara, September 27, Taylor raised six questions about the proposed organization which he felt needed answering at an early stage of discussion. (Ibid., McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, SVN Trip, October 1966)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.