254. Telegram From Secretary of Defense McNamara to the Embassy in Vietnam1

4244. A. Following is suggested agenda for our discussions in Saigon beginning Monday, October 10:

Intelligence estimates. An evaluation of infiltration and of enemy regular and VC force levels, including a projection through CY 1967; of enemy morale (in both the North and South); and of any signs that population under VC control is wavering. Include also estimates of the enemy capabilities to hinder RD programs; of the situation in the DMZ and capabilities of the enemy for attack across the DMZ and from Cambodia or Laos; and of how good our intelligence is, especially with respect to estimates of enemyʼs strength.
Operational analysis and statement of requirements. This would be briefing, of type given previously by DePuy, showing military requirements through CY 67. It should include a statement of US military objectives; of our strategy for and likelihood of achieving them; of roles to be played by US, FWMAF, RVNAF, paramilitary and police; of actions to be taken against NVN, in Laos and at sea; of proposed force deployments; and of proposed aircraft and sortie levels.
Air interdiction operations. An evaluation of Rolling Thunder; Steel Tiger; Barrel Roll; Arc Light (also of Shining Brass). Are major changes required in any of these?
Logistical estimate. Herein the construction program, port and shipping management, communications needs, maintenance capabilities, common supply system, and adequacy of supplies.
Barriers. The interdiction infiltration system being developed by General Starbirdʼs TF 728. I suggest this be the first item on the agenda to permit Dr. Foster and General Starbird to depart promptly. Other concepts, including an involving compartmentalization of VC logistical movements within South Vietnam, could be discussed at this time.
Pacification (RD). Include an evaluation of the situation country-wide and in the priority areas, present against past, with plans for the future. Under this item we can discuss the development of a pacification concept, the possibility of consolidating responsibility for pacification (RD) on the US side, the plans to devote a portion of ARVN (and possibly US) forces to the pacification mission, improvements in GVN RD organization, and an evaluation of the RD cadre program.
The Delta. Pros and cons of, and the plan for, deploying US forces into the Delta, with the accompanying pacification program. Herein an assessment of any accommodation that may exist in the Delta and the relation between such an accommodation and our efforts to bring the war to a satisfactory conclusion.
Chieu Hoi. Discussion of the program and how it might be improved.
US–RVNAF-FWMAF relations. Report on how the military commands are getting along, and comment on suggestions for changes in command relationships, e.g., the suggestion of a US Director of Military Operations (i.e., a Combined US–GVN-FWMAF Command under General Westmoreland).
US, RVNAF, and Pacification (RD) personnel morale. Morale of US military personnel and of US civilians, including proposals regarding any change in duty-tour or dependents policy; and, on Vietnamese side, the problem of desertions and the implications of the new anti-desertion program, and the question of Vietnamese will to implement the RD program.

Piaster budget for US military operations in CY 1967. A comparison by category with CY 1966; an appraisal of how it pinches our efforts; its relationship to the total anti-inflation program; and the outlook for success of such a program.

In addition to the above items, I will of course want to hear your views and to discuss (12) the extent and impact of corruption in the GVN at ministry, JGS, corps, division, sector and subsector levels, and the price if any paid for “fencing around” big violators like Co and Quang; (13) the outlook for continued political development and the prospect that the Ky-constituent assembly confrontation can be handled; (14) the lines that might be followed to split the VC off from Hanoi, to make both the VC and Hanoi more amenable to a satisfactory settlement, and to bring the GVN along with us in these efforts; (15) the degree of anti-Americanism that prevails among peasants, army, intellectuals, etc., and actions [Page 686] we should take in this connection; and (16) any matters that need to be ironed out in preparation for the Baguio meeting of Heads of State.

I will want to get into the field while there; General Wheeler will discuss details of trips with General Westmoreland.
I hope to avoid formality and diplomatic affairs. This of course does not rule out working lunches and dinners which you might consider desirable. I will want to talk with key Vietnamese and third-country representatives if such talks appear useful.
I will be accompanied by General Wheeler, Bob Komer, Art Sylvester, and John McNaughton. I believe John Foster and General Starbird will be in Saigon when we arrive. The party will also include approximately five support personnel. As you know, I have offered a ride to Bill Porter and Henry Kissinger.
Please give me your views as to any additions to or changes in the above-suggested agenda.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, McNamara Files: FRC 71 A 3470, SVN Trip, October 1966. Secret. Repeated to CINCPAC. McNamara visited Vietnam October 10–13, accompanied by, among others, Katzenbach, Wheeler, McNaughton, and Komer.