127. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Nitze) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler)1


  • Southeast Asia Deployments

The President would like us to meet General Westmoreland’s latest request for an additional 30,000 troops. Therefore, I plan to issue a new Southeast Asia deployment plan, Program #6, with a total military personnel strength of 565,500. This number includes the 525,000 in [Page 382] Program #5, the 10,500 emergency reinforcement on loan to MACV, and the new request for 30,000. The Deputy Secretary of Defense will reply separately to your request for cancellation of the civilianization program.

I would like us to comply substantially with General Westmoreland’s preferred alternative. However, I would prefer to substitute Army and Air Force units of similar types for the Marine Corps units on his list. Because of the high fraction of the Marine Corps already deployed, the Marines would find it very difficult, perhaps impossible, to sustain the additional deployment under current personnel tour policies. Moreover, substitution of Army and Air Force units would permit us to use the Marines in missions closer to those for which they are designed.

Therefore, I would like to propose the following approximation to General Westmoreland’s preferred alternative.

Strength Deployment Date
A. U.S. Army
Infantry Bde (3 Inf Bns) 4500 15–30 June
Mech Bde (1 Inf Bn, 1 Inf Bn (Mech), 1 Tk Bn) 5041 12 July
Avn Co, Sep Bde 238 15 July
Armd Cav Sqdn 1030 15–30 June
MP Bn 955 15–30 June
Cbt Svc Spt 3316
Cbt and Cbt Svc Spt 9120
Subtotal 24200
B. 7th AF
4 TFS 2164 15 April
FAC/TACP 191 1 June
Airlift 741 1 June
Support 929
Subtotal 4025
NSA DaNang Support 1775
D. Total MACV 30000

The Secretary of the Army proposes to meet the request for a mechanized brigade by deploying a brigade from the 5th Mechanized Division. He now believes it cannot be ready to deploy before 12 July.

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Moreover, for the reasons noted earlier, I would like to substitute an Army infantry brigade and support personnel for the 27th Regimental Landing Team and support personnel that deployed in February. Therefore, I would propose to substitute 7,363 Army personnel for Marines in the first half of July. The Army can provide the personnel; the Secretary of the Navy now believes the 27th RLT can be sustained until then.2

Would you please inform General Westmoreland of these proposals, and of my preference for them, and ask him whether he considers the substitutions satisfactory.3

Paul H. Nitze
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 73 A 1304, 1968 Secretary of Defense Files, VIET 370. Top Secret.
  2. In a March 14 memorandum to Nitze, Resor noted that the replacement would require an additional call-up of units with 13,500 personnel and a corresponding increase in the MACV ceiling. (Ibid.)
  3. In a March 14 memorandum to Nitze, Wheeler noted that he would inform Westmoreland of the substitute package. In addition, he inquired whether his understanding that reserve units and individual reservists would be called-up but terms of service would not be extended was correct. Nitze indicated “no” on the memorandum and wrote: “Would like to know what we are going to do, of course.” (Ibid.)