243. Statement Prepared in the Embassy in Vietnam1


1. Fundamental Objectives

Contain communist power when it seeks to expand through aggression across national boundaries in the general area of Southeast Asia.
Demonstrate to our friends and foes that we will honor our commitments under regional and bilateral security arrangements.
Demonstrate that we will prevent the success of “wars of national liberation” as practiced by the Communists—i.e., Communist insurrection supported by outside military force.
At the same time, avoid war with the major Communist powers.
Reduce the number of US personnel fighting in Viet-Nam as much and as fast as possible and withdraw as many as possible from Viet-Nam without frustrating achievement of the other fundamental objectives.
Provide the opportunity for all South Vietnamese to choose their form of government free from external force.
Assist in development of a free, independent and viable nation of South Viet-Nam that is not hostile to the United States, functioning in a secure environment both internally and regionally.
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2. Intermediate Goals

Reduce the Communist military and political pressure in South Viet-Nam and
Increase the ability of the non-Communist South Vietnamese to counter this pressure to the point where:
direct US participation in the fighting is no longer necessary to withstand the Communist military pressure, and
the non-Communist South Vietnamese can establish their military control over substantially all of South Viet Nam and maintain a non-Communist national government.
Maximize, within the limits determined by the basic objectives above, the military, political, and economic pressure on the North Vietnamese to stop their attempt to achieve domination over South Viet Nam by force and to accept a peace settlement consistent with our Fundamental Objectives outlined above.
Minimize the pressures on the US Government to abandon the struggle in Viet Nam before it has achieved the Fundamental Objectives outlined above.
Increase non-Communist South Vietnamese economic strength so as gradually to reduce the amount of US economic support required and eventually to make South Viet Nam economically self-sustaining.

3. Courses of Action


Assist the GVN to destroy VC and NVA forces in or entering South Viet Nam and to drive VC and NVA forces into remote areas away from populated areas by ground, naval, and air operations against VC and NVA main forces, LOCs, and into and within enemy base areas in South Viet Nam.
Assist the GVN in expanding the areas of secure environment by accelerating vigorous offensive operations against VC provincial forces and guerrillas, with priority to eliminating or neutralizing the enemy political and military infrastructure.
Prevent the enemy from additional recruiting.
Foster and promote the GVN national reconciliation program.
Develop and maintain a suitably balanced RVNAF that are progressively better trained, equipped, and motivated and
Turn over to RVNAF, as its capabilities increase, a growing share of the combat responsibility.
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Assist in the progressive extension and consolidation of an effective non-Communist administration, responsive to the desires of the South Vietnamese people, over the territory of the RVN.
Encourage the Government and people of South Viet Nam to develop and make full use of the existing framework of democratic institutions and to strengthen the non-Communist political and organizational structure at all levels.
Promote national reconciliation that will enable the currently disaffected elements of the population to find an acceptable place in the political life of the country.
Assist the South Vietnamese to develop a politically cohesive society, with freedom for individual development under a rule of law.
Promote the national development effort, including pacification and nation-building, through an integrated program within a militarily secure environment.


Assist the Government of Viet Nam to maintain a level of economic activity and stability which will contribute to political growth and to the conduct of the fighting.
Help the GVN adopt policies and strengthen or create institutions that will have the effect of increasing savings, investment, and exports and will insure a reasonable degree of price stability.
Help the GVN to expand and to exploit fully its agricultural, mineral, and other resources.
Minimize the undesirable effects of the massive US presence on Vietnamese society and economy.
Assist the GVN to develop a vigorous information effort at home and abroad to portray its efforts and progress in the military, political, economic, and social fields.
Help the GVN convince their people of the desirability of a peaceful settlement to the war, involving some form of non-military competition with the Communists, and help them to prepare for it.
Attempt, through our actions and the presentation of them, to get maximum sympathy for our motives and purposes throughout the world.
Similarly, make clear to the enemy, and to the USSR and China, our self-restraint and the limited nature of our objectives in Viet Nam.
Make efforts to increase the pressure from world public opinion, non-Communist governments, and Communist states (particularly the USSR) on Hanoi to stop its attempt to achieve dominance over South [Page 722] Viet Nam by force and to agree to a peace settlement consistent with our basic objectives.


Devise a mutually acceptable settlement consistent with our Fundamental Objectives, and obtain its acceptance through negotiations with enemy representatives.
Consult with the GVN and the Troop Contributing Countries to obtain their agreement and cooperation in such an effort.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 1 US-VIET S. Secret. Drafted by Roger Kirk of the Embassy Political Section, cleared by Herz and Berger, and approved by Bunker. Transmitted as an attachment to airgram A-1077, December 1, which was received in the Department on December 9, 8:29 a.m. The airgram reads in part: “The enclosed statement of Fundamental US Objectives in Viet Nam, Intermediate Goals, and Courses of Action represents an effort to draw up a brief classified statement on the subject which can serve as a general guideline for our activities here. Pending receipt of Washington comments the statement should be regarded as a draft working document.”