238. Notes of Secretary of Defense Clifford’s Staff Meeting1

1. Luncheon meeting w/Mr. McNamara on Saturday 18 May 68.

Discuss SVN and a number of programs.

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Most interested in new job and has long-range goals.

2. Paris talks going about as SecDef expected.

NVN maybe be over-doing the propaganda point.

Press cynical about polemics.

Present formal discussions not likely to lead to anything. At some point private contacts and private discussions should be broached. None at this stage.

SVN is concerned at direction of Paris talks.

USG is encouraged with selection of Tran Van Huong.

Encouraging factor in discussions is that no ultimatum has been announced by NVN.

3. Military developments in SEA. 2

75–85,000 in pipeline moving south.

As many as 35,000 could—rpt could—be in SVN.

Peak period of resupply into northern provinces—May–Aug.

10,000 tons moving through Thanh Hoa.

51 new trans-shipment points between 17–19 .

Yen Bai completed.

4–5 SAM BNs operational below Thanh Hoa.

Enemy improving his offensive capability and strengthening his defense of his home land.

Need to discuss strategy followed in the countryside.3

[Omitted here is discussion of a march on Washington, Clifford’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and hearings before the House Armed Services Committee on various military-related issues.]

  1. Source: U.S. Army Military History Institute, Harold K. Johnson Papers, Notes on Meetings with the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the President, Dec. 1967–June 1968. No classification marking. The notes were taken by Johnson. According to a notation on the notes, the meeting began at 9:30 a.m. The participants are not indicated.
  2. Wheeler gave this portion of the briefing. He reviewed the same information in CM-3333–68 sent to Rostow on May 20. (Department of Defense, Official Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 911/337 (20 May 68))
  3. According to Nitze’s handwritten notes of the meeting, dated May 22, Carver followed Wheeler with an assessment of the internal military and political situation inside Vietnam. Nitze’s notes of this reads: “DaNang, serious, 2 NVA Divisions, seems under control. Huong—Southerner, strengthen base. Difficulty—may not sit well with Ky, Khang, Vien. Were not formally consulted. Generals displeased. Thieu & Huong need tact during next ten days.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Nitze Papers, Defense Department, Deputy Secretary of Defense Notes, 1968, 4 of 6)