114. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to Secretary of Defense Clifford1



  • COMUSMACV Force Requirements
Subsequent to our meeting with the President last Monday evening,2 at his request I passed on the recommendations of the Special Committee to General Westmoreland for his comments. Specifically, I informed him of the substance of the Committee’s recommendations to:
Authorize immediately the deployment of the three tactical fighter squadrons (two Air Force and one Marine) deferred from Program 5.
Authorize at once the deployments to Vietnam of approximately 22,000 additional personnel, this force to be comprised of (1) six tactical fighter squadrons, (2) one Naval Construction Battalion, and (3) the 4th Marine Expeditionary Force (-).
Initiate Reserve call-up and take other necessary actions to improve our strategic posture in the U.S.
General Westmoreland’s partial comments have been received. He states that the immediate deployment of the three tactical fighter squadrons would greatly enhance the tactical air support available to ground units. He points out, however, that construction at Nam Phong must begin immediately if the two F–4D squadrons scheduled in May are to be accommodated. Units can be deployed as soon as an austere capability has been developed. Moreover, the operation at Nam Phong is dependent upon the necessary transportation for POL, munitions, supply, etc. If Nam Phong is not ready on 1 May, the two F–4D squadrons scheduled into that base could be temporarily located, one at Udorn and one at Ubon for a period not to exceed 30 days. He further points out that the six tactical fighter squadrons shown in paragraph 1b(1) above are over and above the F–4D squadron now in Korea which he assumes will remain in Korea, and they do not include the F–100 squadron now on temporary duty at Phu Cat. He recommends that this squadron be converted to PCS and remain in place. Finally, in regard to air deployments, he recommends that the Marine Expeditionary Force be deployed with three rather than four squadrons. Four squadrons in addition to the one deferred from Program 5 cannot be accommodated at Chu Lai.
General Westmoreland states that although immediate authorization for deployment of 22,000 additional personnel would provide much needed combat and combat support forces, the combat service support forces now in Vietnam are insufficient to support our present force structure. This is especially critical in view of the recent deployment of the 3rd Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division and RLT 27 to the I Corps tactical zone without the appropriate slice of combat support. He emphasizes the absolute requirement to provide the support forces identified with the increased deployments prior to or at the same time the tactical forces are deployed. In this regard, General Westmoreland has this date forwarded his specific strength recommendations for the immediate essential combat service support forces to provide adequate support for combat units in I CTZ, including the 3rd Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division, RLT 27 and Army units which have been redeployed to Northern I Corps tactical zone. This request has not yet been validated by CINCPAC, but is currently under consideration here by the Joint Staff in anticipation of early action by Admiral Sharp’s headquarters.
Finally, General Westmoreland recognizes that the forces which were contained in the Committee’s recommendations were apparently based upon the capabilities of the Services to produce troops for deployment. He states that there has been no change in his appraisal of the situation since my visit to Vietnam and thus there has been no change in his requirements as originally proposed.
Earle G. Wheeler
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 73 A 1304, 1968 Files, VIET 370. Top Secret; Sensitive. Received in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at 11:29 a.m. on March 9. A notation indicates that Clifford saw the memorandum.
  2. See Document 104.