159. Telegram From the White House to the Embassy in Vietnam1

CAP 67385. To Ambassador Bunker and Robert Komer from Walt Rostow.

The President wishes me to share thoughts which will be moving or have moved over parallel military channels at his instruction.

He wishes US military requirements to be recalculated by Westy after a most exhaustive effort to exploit fully the Vietnamese manpower pool. This includes not only engaging as many of those released from military services as can be induced to stay in functions relevant to total military manpower but also an examination of the possibilities of using Vietnamese and other non-Americans in functions which might release US military for combat tasks. This review should include all possible GVN military manpower policy revisions including age lowering, tour duty extensions, more effective draft system and further deserter reductions.

In this thorough comb-out you should engage the best manpower expert we can find, who may well be Ray Male. You will understand that, before a case can be made for additional US manpower, we must have an iron-clad case that the use of Vietnamese manpower is screwed up to the maximum.

Against this background you should also know that President is thinking in terms of asking our present fighting allies for increments in manpower on a basis proportional to population, to the extent that such an approach is realistic. Paramilitary and supply functions might enter into this community chest calculus.

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In addition, he is thinking of approaching the Malaysians, Indonesians, and even the GRC. In the latter case, of course, we would be seeking men for functions which would be least inflammatory. Through this channel and on a completely private basis, we would be interested in your observations on this approach and, in particular, what kinds of GRC manpower might conceivably be introduced in a way not merely acceptable to the GVN but with minimum noise in the international system.

Bill Leonhart is with me as I draft and fully informed.

More generally, you should know that, as he faces the months ahead, the President is counting primarily on the stability of the political track and palpable progress in pacification to do the trick.

New subject. The President just called and asked if Ambassador Bunker would get to Ky and tell him he, the President, would be grateful if Ky would not discuss in public additional manpower requirements for Viet Nam.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXX. Top Secret; Literally Eyes Only; Via CAS Channel.