110. Telegram From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Sharp)1

MACV 09101. Subj: Force Requirements (U). Ref: CINCPAC msg DTG 100445Z (U).2

(TS) Introduction
The purpose of this message is to provide an analysis of current MACV force requirements projected through FY 68. Last year, when we first developed out force requirements for CY 67, we stated a requirement for 124 maneuver battalions with the necessary combat and combat service support for a total strength of 555,741. As it developed, we did not reclama the 470,366 Program Four package because of adverse piaster impact and the realities of service capabilities. Subsequent reassessment of the situation has indicated clearly that the Program Four force, although enabling us to gain the initiative, will not permit sustained operations of the scope and intensity required to avoid an unreasonably protracted war.
Against the foregoing backdrop we have taken a new look at our requirements. We find, as was estimated in connection with development of CY 67 requirements, that the enemy has increased his structure appreciably. We are confronted for example with large forces in and above the DMZ and in the Laotian and Cambodian sanctuaries, plus major enemy groupings within SVN. Our new appraisal has established an immediate requirement for an additional 2–1/3 divisions, which in terms of personnel spaces, can be accommodated by restructuring the original 555,741 force package. In my view, this additional force is required as soon as possible, but not later than 1 July 1968. This, in effect, constitutes a six month extension of our CY 67 program, and would permit shifting of force programming from a calendar year to a fiscal year basis. This shift has long been needed to make force programming for Vietnam compatible with other programs and to provide essential lead time in the procurement of hardware.
Looking ahead, it is entirely possible that additional forces, over and above the immediate requirement for 2–1/3 divisions, will materialize.[Page 254]Present planning, which will undergo continued refinement, suggests an additional 2–1/3 divisions equivalents whose availability is seen as extending beyond FY 68.
Development of force requirements cannot of course be confined to an assessment in terms of US force alone. An improved RVNAF, whose growing commitment to the support of revolutionary development is psychologically, politically and militarily vital is fundamental to success of the overall program for Vietnam. A force ceiling on RVNAF is now in effect, however, [if its mission is] to be fulfilled in cadence with an expanded US effort, a selective increase in RVNAF capabilities is required as well. Among added rewards of such action is creation of a suitable base for establishing a GVN constabulary.
With respect to the relationship of free world forces to recomputation of requirements, it is the position of this headquarters that provision of any and all such forces to meet increased demands is welcomed as additive reinforcements. A ROK infantry division stands forth as particularly desirable in this regard.
The paragraphs that follow contain an analysis of the projected situation, together with a presentation of additive force requirements deemed necessary in the interests of suitable balance and generation of the strength necessary to accelerate fulfillment of the MACV mission.
(S) Intelligence: The enemy has altered neither his objectives nor his intention of continuing the protracted war of attrition. He continues to augment his forces by infiltration and in-country recruitment/conscription. He has introduced long-range, large calibre rockets. His basic force structure of nine divisions and supporting troops in RVN continues to pose a serious threat. Although enemy combat strength and effectiveness have decreased somewhat during the past few months, his force structure is not expected to be reduced. In fact, it is within the enemy’s capability to increase this force structure by 1968 to 12 division framework. This would require increased infiltration to offset losses and to compensate for diminishing in-country conscription.
(TS) Concept and force requirements FY 68.
During 1966, our operations were primarily holding actions characterized by border surveillance, reconnaissance to locate enemy forces, and spoiling attacks to disrupt the enemy offensive. As a result of our buildup and successes, we were able to plan and initiate a general offensive. We now have gained the tactical initiative, and are conducting continuous small and occasional large-scale offensive operations to decimate the enemy forces; to destroy enemy base areas and [Page 255]disrupt his infrastructure; to interdict his land and water LOC’s and to convince him, through the vigor of our offensive and accompanying psychological operations, that he faces inevitable defeat.
Military success alone will not achieve the US objectives in Vietnam. Political, economic, and psychological victory is equally important, and support of revolutionary development program is mandatory. The basic precept for the role of the military in support of revolutionary development is to provide a secure environment for the population so that the civil aspects of RD can progress.
Force requirements FY 68
The MACV objectives for 1967 were based on the assumption that the CY 67 force requirements would be approved and provided expeditiously within the capabilities of the services. However, with the implementation of Program Four, it was recognized that our accomplishments might fall short of our objectives. With the additional forces cited above, we would have had the capability to extend offensive operations into an exploitation phase designed to take advantage of our successes.
With requisite forces, we shall be able to complete more quickly the destruction or neutralization of the enemy main forces and bases and, by continued presence, deny to him those areas in RVN long considered safe havens. As the enemy main forces are destroyed or broken up, increasingly greater efforts can be devoted to rooting out and destroying the VC guerrilla and Communist infrastructure. Moreover, increased assistance can be provided the RVNAF in support of its effort to provide the required level of security for the expanding areas undergoing revolutionary development.
Optimum force. The optimum force required to implement the concept of operations and to exploit success is considered 4–2/3 divisions of the equivalent: 10 tactical fighter squadrons with one additional base; and the full mobile riverine force. The order of magnitude estimate is 201,250 spaces in addition to the 1967 ceiling of 470,366 for a total of 671,616.3

[Here follows discussion of the tactical strategy necessitating force requirements in each CTZ, the minimum essential force requirements, the minimum manpower requirements by type of unit, logistics for the new increment of troops, and the financial impact of the accretion.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXIX, Cables. Top Secret. Received at the Pentagon at 0928Z on March 19. Repeated to the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Air Force, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army, Pacific, the Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. Not found.
  3. This figure was adjusted to 678,248 on March 28.