310. Memorandum of Meeting With President Johnson1


  • Weekly luncheon with Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, Walt Rostow and George Christian (General Harold Johnson also was present)

[Here follows extensive discussion on Vietnam scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume V.]

The President then asked General Johnson to have the Joint Chiefs “search for imaginative ideas to put pressure to bring this war to a conclusion.” He said he did not want them to just recommend more men or that we drop the Atom bomb. The President said he could think of those ideas. The President asked Johnson to have the Joint Chiefs come up with some new programs. He pointed out that when this Congress comes back in January they will try to bring the war to a close either by getting out or by escalating significantly. The President asked Walt Rostow to put on a chart the good items represented in the “Blueprint.”2

The President then read excerpts from the “Blueprint.” (Copy of this is attached.)

After reading paragraph B from the “Blueprint” memorandum concerning approval of an elite battalion-size South Vietnamese force with U.S. advisors to raid enemy supply bases in Laos—Secretary Rusk replied that we can do a good many things with Souvanna Phouma if the President will spend an hour with him when he is here this fall.

The President said yes, I have already agreed to that.

In response to Paragraph A concerning approval and expedition of “Dye Marker” program for electronic devices in Laos to be used in connection with the air program—McNamara said that “Dye Marker” is a barrier and he does not expect any trouble in Laos.

Again referring to Paragraph B (the South Vietnamese and U.S. troops raiding the enemy supply bases in Laos)—Johnson said it will become known in Laos because of the way the correspondents travel out there. General Johnson pointed out that this meant violation of the Geneva Accords of 1962. He also said that this action would create no military problem.

Rusk pointed out that the key problem is getting Souvanna Phouma aboard.

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The President said if we get Souvanna aboard, then should we go ahead and do it?

Rusk replied, yes.

The President asked that we give some thought on how we can do this.

Rusk said maybe we can get some Laotian troops in on this.

McNamara says this is worth doing if we can do it, and if we can keep from destroying Souvanna.

The President then read from Paragraph D concerning “obtaining for Laos corridor work additional propeller type aircraft by the beginning of the next dry season.”

McNamara replied that there are “lots of aircraft there now.” He pointed out that the weather has been bad and also that not many trucks have been moving down the corridor. McNamara said that Westmoreland has not asked for any propeller aircraft that has not been approved.

General Johnson agreed with McNamara.

Rusk asked “if we couldn’t fly a good many planes out of Laos as Laotian planes, even with our pilots.”

McNamara said “we don’t have to Dean, because we have time …”

[Here follows additional extended discussion on Vietnam scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume V.]


Memorandum by the Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam (Locke)3

Things I recommend we do in connection with the Vietnam war are:

1. Improve our interdiction efforts in Laos by:

Approval and expedition of “Dye Marker” program for electronic devices in Laos to be used in connection with air program. (This now I believe approved by our Ambassador to Laos, subject to working out details to blend with his guerrilla program there.)
Approval of use of elite battalion-size South Vietnamese forces (with U.S. advisors) to raid enemy supply bases in Laos. (We now have 12-man teams operating there, and this would merely enlarge the size of the team. They would not stay in Laos permanently, but would hit and run. Our Ambassador to Laos is opposed to this because he believes it would become known, and Souvanna might resign. We believe if North Vietnamese troops violate Geneva Convention by being in Laos, South Vietnamese troops have a right to oppose them, and solving infiltration problem central to winning war, and risk of Souvanna reaction must be taken. We see little additional risk beyond what we are now doing, and believe U.S. Ambassador to Laos principally afraid of future use of U.S. troops in Laos on massive scale. We can cross this bridge when we come to it.
Other measures suggested by General Westmoreland in briefing of Secretary McNamara, which I believe have now been approved by everyone.
Obtaining for Laos corridor work additional propeller-type aircraft by beginning next dry season (December). Ambassadors Sullivan and Martin have impressive statistics that propeller craft hit over twice as many trucks as jets per given number of sorties. Air Force prefers jets, if they have to choose, because they can be used in North Vietnam during Laos monsoon season, whereas propeller planes cannot be used there because of excessive antiaircraft fire. I believe that if more propeller planes would improve interdiction, they should be used there even if they are laid up six months out of the year, and they should be additional to, not in lieu of, other planes needed by Air Force. Air Force does not accept Sullivan figures.

[Here follow items 2, Improvement of security efforts in the South Vietnamese countryside; 3, Intensification of operations against North Vietnam; 4, Pacification efforts; and 5, Political front efforts. The remainder of this memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume V.]

Eugene M. Locke 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Meeting Notes File. Top Secret. Drafted by Jim Jones, who sent it to the President.
  2. The “Blueprint for Vietnam,” August 26, is scheduled for publication in part in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume V.
  3. Secret. A note on the memorandum indicated that a copy of this memorandum was sent to Jones on September 12.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.