233. Editorial Note

Secretary of Defense McNamara, along with Under Secretary of State Katzenbach and JCS Chairman General Wheeler, visited Vietnam July 7–11, 1967, at the request of the President to work out the Program V force package. The first briefing that the delegation received after arriving in Saigon was by Ambassador Bunker, followed in succession by General Westmoreland and his aides. For the record of these meetings, see U.S. House of Representatives, Armed Services Committee, United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967, Book 5, pages 192–209. For McNamara’s reaction to the briefings, see his autobiographical account entitled In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Times Books, 1995), page 283. The authors of the Pentagon Papers described the meetings as follows:

“The sum total of the briefings did not vary from what McNamara had heard so many times before: that there was an increasing NVA presence in control of the war; that it was increasingly becoming a main force battle; that the sanctuaries were becoming increasingly important to the enemy both for the logistics and the tactical advantages they offered. It was clear that MACV’s view of the war in these terms, as increasingly a main force battle to be fought by American units, had considerable influence by the strategies that they pursued, as well as in [Page 584]their calculations of resources required to carry them out.” (The Pentagon Papers, The Senator Gravel Edition, pages 522–523)

During the visit McNamara, relying on a July 5 study by Assistant Secretary of Defense for System Analysis Alain Enthoven, which concluded that the army could provide only 32/3 division equivalents, held the line on force increases. He compelled MACV to accept a general agreement-in-principle on additional deployments to Vietnam which would not exceed an overall ceiling of 525,000 men. (Ibid., pages 515–523)