115. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)1
Washington, March 9, 1968, 0130Z.
JCS 2767. Ref: JCS 2766.2
- By now you will have received the above message asking your
desires concerning the composition of the 30,000-man package, over
the above the Program 5 ceiling, to be deployed by 15 June 1968. The
reasons that I am querying you rather than relying upon your earlier
requests are these:
- Your recently forwarded a request for 3,316 personnel to support forces already deployed.
- I wish to emphasize to you the decision has not yet been taken to deploy the 30,000-man package; however, there appears to be substantial agreement that this is the proper course. Furthermore, I wish to emphasize that no decision has been taken to provide you forces over and above the 30,000-man package.
- You will need to make a choice of units from those which we will have available following the reserve call-up. A listing of forces available for deployment by 15 June is contained in the reference.
- I am concerned that, if we worked up a 30,000-man package here based upon your earlier requests, you would end up with an unbalanced force in South Vietnam, perhaps one which you could not support; therefore, we need your views as to what is needed to give you a balanced force.3
- As I informed you in my earlier message it is agreed that the 12,545 civilianization program will be canceled. This action raises the Program 5 ceiling to 537,545. The staff assures me that the subject 12,545 personnel are now in-country and that no civilianization of these military spaces has taken place. If this is not the case please advise me.
- I do not wish to shunt my troubles on to you; however, to guide you in your thinking and planning, I feel I must tell you frankly that there is strong resistance from all quarters to putting more ground force units in South Vietnam. The call-up of reserves and the concomitant actions that must be taken will raise unshirted hell in many influential quarters, and I find that there is substantial sentiment that the 30,000 increment should not be deployed. I tell you this because I feel you must know that, while a reserve call-up will improve markedly the CONUS strategic reserve and put us in a position to honor further requests from you, you should not count upon an affirmative decision for such additional forces. With this cheerless counsel I will sign off. Warm regards.
- Source: Johnson Library, William C. Westmoreland Papers, Eyes Only Message File, 1 Mar-31 Mar 1968. Top Secret. Repeated to Sharp.↩
- In this telegram sent to Westmoreland on March 9, Wheeler noted that since the decision on future deployments had been reserved, “for the purpose of your developing the 30,000 man package you should not count on approval of any future deployments.” (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram MAC 3385 to Wheeler, March 11, Westmoreland proposed two alternative add-on packages. The first included only those forces available by June 15 and thus consisted of a much greater Marine Corps contribution. The second package included forces available after June 15, a “better” mix of forces, and was Westmoreland’s preferred alternative. (Ibid.)↩