reply to post by WATCHER.1
Just look at President Kennedy's NSAM 263 (21 NOV 63) and then look at President Johnson's NSAM 273 (26 NOV 63). The day before Kennedy was shot,
we were removing troops from Vietnam. On the third full day as President, Johnson recommended "maintaining levels" in paragraph 6 to assure that
programs do NOT drop below what was given the Diem Government. Then in paragraph 8 there is a plan for extending the area of action fifty miles into
Loas. That would seem hard to do if planning a draw-down of forces.
Quite a change in policy for such a short timeframe, I would say.
Below are the copies of both NSAMs.
NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION MEMORANDUM NO. 263
TO: Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
SUBJECT: South Vietnam
At a meeting on October 5, 1963, the President considered the recommendations contained in the report of Secretary McNamara and General Taylor on
their mission to South Vietnam.
The President approved the military recommendations contained in Section I B (1-3) of the report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of
the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.
NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION MEMORANDUM NO. 273
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of Defense
The Director of Central Intelligence
The Administrator, AID
The Director, USIA
The President has reviewed the discussions of South Vietnam which occurred in Honolulu, and has discussed the matter further with Ambassador Lodge. He
directs that the following guidance be issued to all concerned:
1. It remains the central object of the United States in South Vietnam to assist the people and Government of that country to win their contest
against the externally directed and supported Communist conspiracy. The test of all U. S. decisions and actions in this area should be the
effectiveness of their contribution to this purpose.
2. The objectives of the United States with respect to the withdrawal of U. S. military personnel remain as stated in the White House state- ment of
October 2, 1963.
3. It is a major interest of the United States Government that the present provisional government of South Vietnam should be assisted in consolidating
itself and in holding and developing increased public support. All U.S. officers should conduct themselves width this objective in view.
4. The President expects that all senior officers of the Government will move energetically to insure the full unity of support for established U.S.
policy in South Vietnam. Both in Washington and in the field, it is essential that the Government be unified. It is of particular importance that
express or implied criticism of officers of other branches be scrupulously avoided in all contacts with the Vietnamese Government and with the press.
More specifically, the President approves the following lines of action developed in the discussions of the Honolulu meeting, of November 20. The
offices of the Government to which central responsibility is assigned are indicated in each case.
5. We should concentrate our own efforts, and insofar as possible we should persuade the Government of South Vietnam to concentrate its efforts, on
the critical situation in the Mekong Delta. This concentra- tion should include not only military but political, economic, social, educational and
informational effort. We should seek to turn the tide not only of battle but of belief, and we should seek to increase not only the control of hamlets
but the productivity of this area, especially where the proceeds can be held for the advantage of anti-Communist forces.
(Action: The whole country team under the direct supervision of the Ambassador.)
6. Programs of military and economic assistance should be maintained at such levels that their magnitude and effectiveness in the eyes of the
Vietnamese Government do not fall below the levels sustained by the United States in the time of the Diem Government. This does not exclude
arrangements for economy on the MAP account with respect to accounting for ammunition, or any other readjustments which are possible as between MAP
and other U. S. defense resources. Special attention should be given to the expansion of the import, distribution, and effective use of fertilizer for
(Action: AID and DOD as appropriate. )
7. Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity, and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:
A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam;
B. The plausibility of denial;
C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation;
D. Other international reaction.
Plans should be submitted promptly for approval by higher authority. (Action: State, DOD, and CIA. )
8. With respect to Laos, a plan should be a developed and submitted for approval by higher authority for military operations up to a line up to 50
kilometers inside Laos, together with political plans for minimizing the international hazards of such an enterprise. Since it is agreed that
operational responsibility for such undertakings should pass from CAS to MACV, this plan should include a redefined method of political guidance for
such operations, since their timing and character can have an intimate relation to the fluctuating situation in Laos.
(Action: State, DOD, and CIA.)
9. It was agreed in Honolulu that the situation in Cambodia is of the first importance for South Vietnam, and it is therefore urgent that we should
lose no opportunity to exercise a favorable influence upon that country. In particular a plan should be developed using all available evidence and
methods of persuasion for showing the Cambodians that the recent charges against us are groundless.
10. In connection with paragraphs 7 and 8 above, it is desired that we should develop as strong and persuasive a case as possible to demonstrate to
the world the degree to which the Viet Cong is controlled, sustained and supplied from Hanoi, through Laos and other channels. In short, we need a
more contemporary version of the Jorden Report, as powerful and complete as possible.
(Action: Department of State with other agencies as necessary.)