141. Editorial Note

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent their views on the augmentation of U.S. military forces in Vietnam to Secretary of Defense McNamara in a memorandum dated April 20, 1967. In it the Joint Chiefs requested for the upcoming fiscal year a “minimum essential force” of two and one-third divisions, five tactical fighter squadrons, and additional naval and riverine forces for South Vietnam, as well as additional allotments of troops to man the strong-point obstacle system being designed in Quang Tri Province and aircraft to be stationed in Thailand. The JCS also noted that another dispatch of forces equal in size to this request “may be required” to achieve a “satisfactory conclusion to the war.” Such numbers of troops were necessary “to retain the initiative and maintain momentum in the conflict.” A call-up of the military reserve and Congressional action would be required in order to deploy these numbers of personnel. (Johnson Library, Papers of Paul C. Warnke, [Page 337]John McNaughton Files, McNTN XIV, Misc. 1967 (3)) In a May 1 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor supported the JCS call for the additional troops by late 1968. “I am aware that this schedule cannot be met without a call-up of reservists and an involuntary extension of terms of service but do not view this fact as an overwhelming objection,” Taylor noted. “This threshold of decision in all probability must be crossed some time and the present timing on the heels of General Westmoreland’s visit is a good one and should provide a convincing testimonial of our determination to see this thing through to a finish.” (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXXII)