250. Paper by the Commander of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)1
Saigon, May 26, 1968.
FINAL ADVICE BY GENERAL WESTMORELAND, COMUSMACV
- The most competent and honest officers should be installed as province and district chiefs. Your best fighters and disciplinarians should be placed in command of combat troops.
- Insure that each commander takes a personal interest in the welfare of his troops and their dependents.
- Continuously concentrate on timely intelligence and gear your organization to react immediately thereto, both with respect to enemy military elements and political infrastructure.
- Take extraordinary steps to deny the enemy knowledge of your plans and operations.
- Emphasize night operations to gain the initiative on the enemy and deny his freedom of movement.
- Appreciate that the greatest gain that can be made with minimum resources is improvement in the performance and morale of the Regional and Popular Forces.
- Give more emphasis to administrative and logistical support organizations that are essential to sustained combat operations.
- Training must be a continuous process with more attention given to in-place classes and exercises when the tactical situation permits. Psy war and motivational training are essential parts of this program.
- Pacification must be supported by all elements of the Government of Vietnam, of which the RVNAF is a major part. All soldiers must realize their important role and be required to assume always a proper, friendly and helpful attitude toward the people.
- Maintain the offensive spirit!2
- Source: U.S. Army Center of Military History, Dep CORDS/MACV Papers, Komer-Westmoreland File, 1968. No classification marking. Westmoreland’s commentary on his last days in Vietnam is in his historical summary for the month of May. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 407, Litigation Collection, Westmoreland v. CBS, History File #32, 1–31 May 1968)↩
- This last sentence is handwritten. Westmoreland met with the President at the Ranch on May 30. Notes of the meeting have not been found, but Westmoreland’s report is summarized in a statement he made to the press that day. See Department of State Bulletin, June 17, 1968, pp. 784–786. In a telephone conversation with Richard Russell on June 3, the President described the meeting with Westmoreland and the General’s reaction to being reassigned as Army Chief of Staff: “I saw him the other day and the liberals and the doves have got him a little cowed and I am very fearful that he may feel that he has been demoted and humiliated. I didn’t feel that way. Buzz Wheeler told me that he wanted this assignment.” He later added: “He came in and visited me the other day and he just didn’t have the warmth that he had had before and I believe he has been rocked a little. I believe he feels that we have lost confidence and I am sure you can get him out of that and for that reason I do think that playing it low key would be better. I want him to be strong and I want him to regain and recapture something that McNamara took away from the military.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Russell, June 3, 1968, 11:45 a.m., Tape F6806.01, PNO 3; transcript prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian)↩