Roger Hilsman on JFK’s Vietnam plans

“At the end, Ngu Dinh Diem was talking to nobody but his brother Nu.

he wasn’t consulting anybody except the people he knew would say yes to him. So it was a hopeless situation and Kennedy came to this conclusion and, you know, as I said, and his decision was to get the American advisers out, there were only sixteen thousand five hundred there and he removed the first one thousand and had an approved plan for removing the rest within a matter of two or three months. it was hopeless.”–interview with Roger Hilsman, National Security Council policymaker under President Kennedy.

(H/T David)

97 comments

  1. J.D. says:

    Has anyone compiled a full list of the people who knew JFK and have said that he would not have “Americanized” the war in Vietnam?

    • Bill Clarke says:

      I don’t think so, J.D. What would be interesting would be to compile this list in 1964 and then compile the list after 1968 post Tet. The latter list would be many times larger than the 1964 list. I believe this to be due more to a self serving motive than historical accuracy. McNamara and Bobby Kennedy would be two good examples of this.

    • R. Andrew Kiel says:

      JD – I responded on August 24 to your discussion with Bill Clarke about a list of those who are on record that JFK would not have “Americanized” the war in Vietnam. For some reason that comment is still awaiting moderation.

  2. Ronnie Wayne says:

    And at the same time Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge had quit responding to JFK who was visibly shaken with news of the Diem’s execution. Which He did not authorize. In addition to NASM 263 JFK also made several private statements of his intention to get out of Vietnam after the 64 election. This is all well documented.

    • Bill Clarke says:

      That these people made this claim is indeed well documented. The veracity of their statement…not so much. However, I don’t doubt JFK didn’t tell some of them that he was going to withdraw from VN. But talk is cheap and a politician tells a senator what he thinks the senator wants to hear. More important is what JFK had done in VN and continued doing up until the time of his death.

      NSAM 263 is not an order to withdraw “ALL” the troops from Vietnam. I realize Newman and Company makes this rash claim but it isn’t true. Read it yourself.

      • Bill,

        Did you actually read the entire Hilsman interview posted above?

        I did. I found it very clear that Hilsman was relating exactly what he heard from JFK himself, that Kennedy was determined to end the military commitment to Vietnam.
        Hilsman interprets NSAM 263 just like all of the people who understand that document do: That there was to be an immediate withdrawal of 1000 military personnel by the end of December 1963, and that the bulk of the rest would be withdrawn by 1965.

        The document is clear, it says this in the text. Whatever innuendo you are spinning on it is from your own bias.
        \\][//

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Willy Whitten August 21, 2015 at 12:26 pm

          Why yes Willy, I did read the entire interview and what Hillman said in the quote below was rather shocking to me. I’d never hear this “within three or four months” crap before. Have you? Do you really think Hilsman heard JFK say this? Within 3 or 4 months of NSAM 263 (Oct 63) or withdrawing the 1,000 men (end of Dec 63) puts JFK withdrawing “All” of the troops BEFORE the election. All I have ever seen is “Jack told me he had to wait until after the election” to withdraw all the troops. I think Hilsman shot from the hip on this news flash.

          RH interview: The plan was made, he approved the plan and the first one thousand of the sixteen thousand five hundred were withdrawn before Kennedy was killed. If he had lived, the other sixteen thousand would have been out of there within three or four months.

          WW. Hilsman interprets NSAM 263 just like all of the people who understand that document do: That there was to be an immediate withdrawal of 1000 military personnel by the end of December 1963, and that the bulk of the rest would be withdrawn by 1965.

          And I’m sure you include yourself in this group of people “who understand that document”. Perhaps you finally do understand it. You use “the bulk” of our troops this time instead of your “all of our troops” you have used before. In fact you used “all the troops” before and failed to correct it. At that time you didn’t understand NSAM 263. Now I’m glad you finally do.

          I’ve never been the one putting spin on NSAM 263. You and your fellow “all the troops” are the spinners here Willy.

      • Ronnie Wayne says:

        I’ve not read Newman’s JFK and Vietnam, I have read his Oswald and the CIA which was excellent. From what I have read I believe JFK did intend to get out after he was re-elected. From what I remember most of those he told of his intentions were not Senators hearing what they wanted to but close, trusted, friends and aides. If I also remember correctly NSAM did call for the withdrawal of 1000 “advisers”, which was overridden by NSAM 273 signed by LBJ a few days after his death. In addition JFK never sent official “troops”, LBJ did within a year.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Ronnie Wayne August 21, 2015 at 9:20 pm

          “JFK and Vietnam” says what you would like to hear so I’m sure you would enjoy it Ronnie. However it lacks scholarship and is based on some serious speculation. The book was rejected in a seminar of Vietnam War historians back when Newman was pushing his book.

          Ronnie. If I also remember correctly NSAM did call for the withdrawal of 1000 “advisers”, which was overridden by NSAM 273 signed by LBJ a few days after his death.

          BC. I realize this is common in the “LBJ reversed the Vietnam policy of JFK before Jack was cold in his grave” propaganda but it simply isn’t true. McNamara claims they bought the 1,000 men home (see Fog of War)and Hilsman claims the 1,000 men were bought home (see Hilsman interview this thread). Also part of the same propaganda is the “LBJ made a paper exercise out of the 1,000 man order” and did it by normal rotation which would mean one man went over as one came home. This isn’t true either. JFK and McNamara agreed on withdrawing them as part of the normal rotation (see Miller Center Tapes).

          Ronnie, be assured that every trooper in SVN at the time was “official”. No doubt you mean something else here.

          • Ronnie Wayne says:

            I think most on here understand by official I meant authorized combat troops. Not official advisers that we all know were in fact fighting, and dying.
            To my limited knowledge NSAM 263 was the first documented source of withdrawing “Advisers” through rotation or not. NSAM 273 by Johnson, signed within less than a week of JFK’s death, essentially countermanded it. He then sent in Combat Troops, Bombers, and lot’s of Huey’s from Bell Helicopter less than a year later.
            Somebody somewhere I’ve read quoted him “give me the Presidency and I’ll give you your Damn War.”
            What books have you written? I question your posit that Mr. Newman’s book is unscholarly. I recall his Oswald and the CIA was well documented and informative.
            JFK and The CIA is also well respected from what I’ve read in many places.
            I guess I should read it for myself.
            But if the Military Brass concluded I shouldn’t I guess I shouldn’t.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Ronnie Wayne
            August 30, 2015 at 11:18 pm

            I think most on here understand by official I meant authorized combat troops. Not official advisers that we all know were in fact fighting, and dying.

            BC. I meant no offense Ronnie but as you know it is important to have a good understanding of what the other fellow is saying. I was just trying to be sure.

            To my limited knowledge NSAM 263 was the first documented source of withdrawing “Advisers” through rotation or not.

            BC. I believe that is correct as far as a formal statement approved by JFK. You have some request for plans by McNamara and some plans by Taylor but nothing formal to indicate JFK approved these actions (I stress formal here). Don’t forget that 263 was also a plan to win the war. This seems to be often overlooked (See 1B, 1a,b,c,d,e,f of the McNamara Taylor Report. Paragraph 2 deals more with Kennedy’s strategy to win the war than it does withdrawal (Train the Viets) and Paragraph 3 says “as an initial step in a long-term program to replace U.S. personnel with trained Vietnamese without impairment of the war effort. I see nothing here to indicate a bug out.

            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d167.

            Through “normal rotation. That means as one left Vietnam one arrived to take his place so there was never a reduction of the total number of our troops in Vietnam. JFK and McNamara agreed on this at the NSC meeting to draft NSAM 263 on October 2, 1963. (See Miller Center Tapes).

            NSAM 273 by Johnson, signed within less than a week of JFK’s death, essentially countermanded it.

            BC. If you are still speaking of the 1,000 man withdrawal your statement is incorrect. Both McNamara and Hilsman claim the 1,000 men came home (Fog of War, Hilsman reference this thread). Hard to countermand what has already been done.

            BC. If you are speaking of the entire NSAM 263 you would still be wrong. The removal of Diem and the communist escalation of 1964 countermanded NSAM 2263.

            He then sent in Combat Troops, Bombers, and lot’s of Huey’s from Bell Helicopter less than a year later.

            BC. We already had combat troops under JFK. LBJ sent in combat UNITS and I wish people would finally get this difference straight. JFK sent in Bombers, Jet Fighters and Helicopter Units in 1962. (NSAM 111 and any decent book on the Vietnam War in general). So what LBJ did was a continuation of what JFK was doing. U.S. Marine units came ashore on March 8, 1965. This would be roughly more than 15 months of LBJ continuing JFK’s policy, not less than a year.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Ronnie Wayne August 30, 2015 at 11:18

            What books have you written?

            BC. None. And you? From some of the junk I’ve read, Ronnie, writing a book is no claim to fame or historical accuracy.

            I question your posit that Mr. Newman’s book is unscholarly.

            BC. As is your right. Have you read it? If you can’t accept “unscholarly” how about “much speculation”?

            BC. I’ll give you an example from Newman’s book, “JFK and Vietnam”, page322. This is the basis of the book.

            _________________________________________
            “Kennedy decided to use Taylor’s and Harkin’ reports of battlefield success to justify the beginning of the withdrawal he was planning.” Italics by Newman.

            “Kennedy kept his plan a closely guarded secret, but by March he was determined not only to withdraw—come what may—after 1964, but, if possible, to take a clear step in that direction….”

            __________________________________________

            You wonder why there isn’t supporting evidence for this blooper? There is none and none is listed in the book. No footnotes, no Kenny O’Donnell said Jack told him this, no senator saying Jack told him this. Newman pulled it straight out of the air. Not very scholarly in my opinion and probably the reason the historians at the seminar roundly booed Newman’s work on this book.

          • David Regan says:

            JFK never sent combat troops into SVN and the historical record is quite clear he never seriously considered this option, despite many pressures to do so. On 3 January 1962 President Kennedy held a high-level meeting at Palm Beach concerning the US command structure in Vietnam with his senior security officials.

            In agreeing to the changes in the command structure for SVN, the President warned against becoming “further involved militarily in that area.” Furthermore, President Kennedy insisted upon “the importance of playing down the number of US military personnel involved in Vietnam and that the US military role there was for advice, training and support of the Vietnamese Armed Forces and not combat.” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v02/d2

            In a newly declassified phone call of 2/20/64 the point that there was a new sheriff in town was hammered home. Johnson told McNamara “I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the president thought otherwise, and I just sat silent.” This is stunning. It clearly denotes that Johnson was aware of what Kennedy was planning. And that he was planning it through McNamara. Further, that he was so opposed to it that he thought it was “foolish”. But since he was in a subordinate position he had to suffer through it. But now he was subordinate no more. And now he was telling the man who he knew was running the withdrawal plan that it was over.

            On 11/24/63 Henry Cabot Lodge Lodge tells Johnson that if he wants to save Vietnam from Communism he will have to stand firm. Johnson’s reply will guide him over the next four years. “I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the President who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.” While campaigning for President in 1964, Johnson says, “We are not going to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” Yet, behind closed doors, he is planning to escalate the role of America in the war.

            LBJ did not continue the policies of Kennedy.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan September 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

            JFK never sent combat troops into SVN and the historical record is quite clear he never seriously considered this option, despite many pressures to do so.

            bc. JDK never sent intact American combat UNITs to SVN. He sent men with combat MOS and training where they engaged in combat on the ground, air and sea. Call them what you must. You have to realize that sending U.S. combat UNITS was not necessary or critical during JFK’s term. It was in 1965.

            On 3 January 1962 President Kennedy held a high-level meeting at Palm Beach concerning the US command structure in Vietnam with his senior security officials. In agreeing to the changes in the command structure for SVN, the President warned against becoming “further involved militarily in that area.”

            bc. So he goes on to make 1962 a pivotal year in SVN. He sends the bombers, fighters, helicopter units, M-113s and boat loads of U.S. troops to maintain and use this new equipment while training ARVN. He forms the MACV command in 1962, considered by some to be the start of our real role in the Vietnam War. Actions speak much louder than words. Much louder.

            In a newly declassified phone call of 2/20/64 the point that there was a new sheriff in town was hammered home. Johnson told McNamara “I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statements about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the president thought otherwise, and I just sat silent.” This is stunning. It clearly denotes that Johnson was aware of what Kennedy was planning. And that he was planning it through McNamara. Further, that he was so opposed to it that he thought it was “foolish”.

            bc. Did you ever stop to consider Johnson thought it was foolish because it was foolish? It would be like Nixon telling the communist how far into Cambodia we were going and how long we were going to stay.

            LBJ did not continue the policies of Kennedy.

            bc. Yes he did. For over 15 months LBJ continued sending “advisers” and equipment to SVN exactly as JFK had done. By 1965 the communist made this policy untenable and U.S. combat UNITS were required to hold Vietnam. JK would have faced the same decision.

          • Jean Davison says:

            Here’s Robert Kennedy talking about Vietnam, RFK Oral history with John Bartlow Martin, April 1964.

            QUOTE

            [Robert] Kennedy: . . . . He [JFK] had a strong, overwhelming reason for
            being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.

            Martin: What was the overwhelming reason?

            Kennedy: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I
            think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.

            Martin: What if it did?

            Kennedy: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the
            world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also, it would
            affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the
            Middle East. Just, it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It
            would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of these
            countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists,
            particularly as we had made such a fuss in the United States both under
            President Eisenhower and President Kennedy about the preservation of the
            integrity of Vietnam.

            Martin: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

            Kennedy: No.

            Martin: But the same time, no disposition to go in all . . .

            Kennedy: No . . .

            Martin:. . . in an all out way as we went into Korea. We were trying to
            avoid a Korea, is that correct?

            Kennedy: Yes, because I, everybody including General MacArthur felt that
            land conflict between our troops, white troops and Asian, would only lead
            to, end in disaster. So it was. . . . We went in as advisers, but to try to
            get the Vietnamese to fight themselves, because we couldn’t win the war for
            them. They had to win the war for themselves.

            Martin: It’s generally true all over the world, whether it’s in a shooting
            war or a different kind of a war. But the president was convinced that we
            had to keep, had to stay in there . . .

            Kennedy: Yes.

            Martin:. . . and couldn’t lose it.

            Kennedy: Yes.

            Martin: And if Vietnamese were about to lose it, would he propose to go in
            on land if he had to?

            Kennedy: Well, we’d face that when we came to it.

            Martin: Mm hm. Or go with air strikes, or–direct from carriers, I mean,
            something like that?

            Kennedy: But without. . . . It didn’t have to be faced at that time. In the
            first place, we were winning the war in 1962 and 1963, up until May or so of
            1963. The situation was getting progressively better….

            UNQUOTE

            http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/vietnam.htm

          • David Regan says:

            Here is an excerpt from the Rolling Stone interview of Daniel Ellsberg. He is referring to a discussion he had with Robert Kennedy on Vietnam in October 1967: http://www.kenrahn.com/Marsh/Jfk-conspiracy/ELLSBERG.TXT

          • David Regan says:

            Bill, I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on LBJ’s supposed continuance of Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam at all. Here are some important things to consider:

            Unlike with President Kennedy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff participated at every stage of the Johnson administration’s Vietnam policy deliberations.

            Just 10 days after issuing NSAM 273, which essentially summoned administration officials to renew their consideration of the problems of Southeast Asia, a high-level meeting of senior advisers took place in the White House on 6 December where SecDef McNamara presented a pessimistic analysis of the current military situation and the President “has expressed his deep concern that our effort in Vietnam be stepped up to the highest pitch and that each day we ask ourselves what more we can do to further the struggle.” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/pg_685

            3/20/64 – The JCS recommends that U.S. and Allied forces be introduced with a mission to assume the offensive against the Viet Cong.

            4/1/64 – In National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 328, President Johnson approves the deployment of two addition Marine Battalions and an 18-20,000 man increase in U.S. forces to “fill out existing units and supply needed logistic personnel.” NSAM 328 also changes the security mission of U.S. in forces in Vietnam “to permit their more active use”. http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/nsams/nsam328.asp

            The Gulf of Tonkin incident was a sham that either LBJ lied about to Congress or blindly took the military’s position without asking probing questions, as Kennedy had on numerous occasions post-Bay of Pigs. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, 50 Years Ago. Read More http://histv.co/1LXtx7y via @History

            History has shown how foolish Johnson was for his stance on Vietnam and he obviously lacked the foresight on foreign policy matters displayed by JFK, and/or the courage of his convictions for standing up to his military advisers. Interesting that a President who lied about his own military record would send hundreds of thousands of young men 10,000 miles away for a lost cause.

            LBJ’s Lies About His War Record http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/153 via @sharethis

          • Jean Davison says:

            David,

            I hope you noticed that Ellsberg doesn’t quote RFK saying that his brother had already decided to withdraw from Vietnam. He said, “I can’t say exactly what he would have done in the actual situation, say of ’64 or ’65, that Johnson was faced with, where that was the alternative–either send troops or let it go Communist.
            But I can say what his intention was in ’61 or ’62, and it was that he was
            absolutely determined not to send troops.”

            IOW, the decision to withdraw hadn’t already been made, according to RFK. That’s all I’ve been arguing–not what JFK would have done in the future, but what plans were already in place.

          • David Regan says:

            But Jean, I think you stopped quoting the article too soon.

            Ellsberg:
            I asked him, “Do you think that politically, he could have let it (Vietnam) go Communist? What did he plan to do?”

            He said, his brother would have arranged “a Laotian-type solution, some form of coalition government with people who would ask us to leave–which would hold together for some period of time and sort of paper over our withdrawal.”

            And that had some plausibility, because Kennedy had presided over the Laotian solution in ’61 and ’62 at a time when virtually everybody believed it would quickly fall apart and lead to a Communist takeover, which in fact it did not do. But he was clearly willing to do it in Vietnam. This was very significant.

            IMO, the record is quite clear we wouldn’t have had the disaster of Vietnam had Kennedy lived to serve a second term. Especially now knowing how opposed LBJ was to these plans.

            Also, in terms of withdrawal plans being put into effect, it was clearly on Kennedy’s mind as early as 1962, given McNamara ordering these plans put into effect at the July Honolulu Conference:

            In contrast to previous meetings in Honolulu in which Secretary McNamara emphasized the US advisory buildup, he now stressed the eventual withdrawal of the US advisors and limitations of the American effort. The pressure was to be on the Vietnamese to take over and become more self-reliant. According to the Secretary’s deputy, Roswell Gilpatric, President Kennedy had made it obvious to him and to the Defense Secretary “that he wanted to not only hold the level of US military presence in Vietnam down, but he wanted to reverse the flow.” (Kaiser, American Tragedy, p. 140. Kaiser cites as his source for the quote the oral history of Gilpatric in the LBJ Library)

            “Phase-out of US forces. SECDEF advised that the phase-out program presented during 6 May 1963 conference appeared too slow. In consonance with Part III request you develop a revised plan to accomplish more rapid phase-out of U.S. forces.” — From the Proceedings of the 8th SecDef Conference on Vietnam

          • Jean Davison says:

            QUOTE:
            “But Jean, I think you stopped quoting the article too soon.

            Ellsberg:
            I asked him, “Do you think that politically, he could have let it (Vietnam) go Communist? What did he plan to do?”

            He said, his brother would have arranged “a Laotian-type solution, some form of coalition government with people who would ask us to leave….”
            UNQUOTE

            But none of that changes what I’ve been saying, David. It’s still RFK stating what he thought his brother WOULD HAVE DONE if he’d faced the same situation LBJ faced later — not what JFK had already decided to do.

            A negotiated settlement had been proposed before this, in May 1962, e.g., but here’s what Hilsman wrote at the time:

            QUOTE:
            3. Ros Gilpatric brought up for discussion Ken Galbraith’s recommendation4 that we negotiate a coalition-type, neutralized South Viet-Nam. Both Harriman and I vigorously opposed this recommendation and the President decided against it.
            UNQUOTE

            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v02/d176#fnref4

            I think the reasoning was that SVN wasn’t yet in a strong-enough negotiating position. The NY Times proposed a negotiated settlement in November 1963. The documents online show a negative reaction from US officials, e.g. Sec. of State Dean Rusk:

            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d315

            You quote a document saying:

            “Phase-out of US forces. SECDEF advised that the phase-out program presented during 6 May 1963 conference appeared too slow. In consonance with Part III request you develop a revised plan to accomplish more rapid phase-out of U.S. forces.”
            —From the Proceedings of the 8th SecDef Conference on Vietnam
            UNQUOTE

            Your source didn’t include the next sentence: “SECDEF expressed special interest in the development of training plans which would accelerate replacement of US by GVN units.”

            http://www.history-matters.com/archive/vietnam/jcs_central_files/secdef8/html/Secdef8_0007a.htm

            This was part of the U.S. program to train SVN to take over the fighting as soon as possible. It’s not about withdrawing US forces no matter what happened as a result.

      • Paul Turner says:

        But it was reversed after JFK’s death. Somebody out there must not have liked it.

  3. Bill Clarke says:

    “approved plan for removing the rest within a matter of two or three months.”

    This is a new one I’ve never seen before and I thought I’d seen it all by now. The last “approved” plan of Kennedy on Vietnam was NSAM 263 and it most certainly does not say what Hilsman is claiming here.

    “he would not send troops. But then after …you remember the Buddhist crisis in the spring of ’63, this convinced Kennedy that Ngu Dinh Diem had no chance of winning and that we best we get out.”

    I think Hilsman is playing loose with the facts here. JFK did send troops to SVN and sent the planes, helicopters and other equipment to fight the war. Again, if all the troops would be out in a few months as Hilsman claims why did JFK bother to approve the removal of Ngo Dinh Diem?

    • David Regan says:

      Bill – if you haven’t already, check out ‘The Fog of War’ documentary. At the 1:18:30 mark is an interesting phone conversation between LBJ and McNamara recorded in February 1964. Clearly LBJ did not agree with JFK’s policy on Vietnam.

      Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S McNamara (Documen… https://youtu.be/poz_GgwabZU via @YouTube

      • Bill Clarke says:

        David Regan August 21, 2015 at 8:19 am

        I’ve finally set through it David and found it to be interesting. I don’t believe anything McNamara says unless I can verify it from another source but I didn’t find a lot to object about in this documentary.

        The big one comes when McNamara claims JFK announced that “ALL” of our advisers would be out of Vietnam in 2 years (around 113). Yes, he announced the 1,000 man withdrawal and McNamara says they completed it (around 110). From checking other numbers I believe this to be true. Of course the total number of our troops in SVN never decreased since they bought the 1,000 men home on a normal rotation (See Miller Center Tapes). They usually blame Johnson for this but it doesn’t wash.

        If there is any evidence of JFK announcing that ALL the American troops would be out of Vietnam by 1965 I’d like to see it. I don’t mean what Kenny O’Donnell said JFK told him but a formal announcement to the public. McNamara plays loose with the truth here.

    • R. Andrew Kiel says:

      Bill – I believe that you are correct in stating that “a few months” is not factual. However in October 1961 Joint Chiefs Chairman Maxwell Taylor’s request for 8,000 combat troops was flatly rejected by JFK – who did attempt to appease the generals and did authorize an increase in helicopter units and other trainees. Those numbers eventually climb to 16,000 “advisors” by 1963 and led to close to 100 US soldiers deaths before JFK was killed.

      JFK intentions were even more clear to Taylor by October 1963. Taylor stated “we should take the end of 1965 as the target date for the termination of of the military part of American task”…”All planning will be directed towards preparing RVN forces for the withdrawal all US special assistance units and personnel by the end of calendar year 1965.”

      It would have been easy for JFK’s foreign policy team to support the argument that they were just following JFK’s policy under LBJ – but they did not take the easy way out.

      Paul Nitze NSA advisor to JFK related in his memoirs that the Joint Chiefs asked JFK for 40,000 US forces to deal with the Vietcong and 128,000 more to finish the job – Nitze stated that JFK refused to give in to the pressure.

      Clark Clifford was an advisor to both JFK and LBJ he stated “I do not believe that John Kennedy would have followed the same course as Lyndon Johnson … I believe Kennedy would have initiated a a search for either a negotiated settlement or a phased withdrawal – as he had done in Laos in 1961.

      Robert McNamara stated “I believe the record shows that far from planning an escalation, President Kennedy had decided-and publicly announced on October 2, 1963-that the United States would plan to withdraw its military forces by the end of 1965 and would start by withdrawing 1,000 by the end of 1963”.

      McGeorge Bundy dismissed as “total baloney” that Kennedy and Johnson pursued the same policy in Vietnam. He stated “I don’t think that he(JFK) would have ever wanted the ground war to become our war.”

      Dean Rusk stated that Kennedy “did not want to Americanize the war or send large numbers of US forces”. General James Gavin stated “I know that he was totally opposed to the introduction of combat troops in Southeast Asia.” William Colby (CIA) stated “Whether we would have won or lost, we would at least not have had a half-million soldiers involved, nor experienced the casualties they suffered and inflicted by their operations.”

      John Connally – much closer to LBJ than JFK – stated “My guess is that Jack Kennedy would have withdrawn American troops from Vietnam shortly into his second term. He was less charmed by the generals than Johnson and less susceptible to their pressures.”

      In the last pre-assassination issue of Business Week 11/18/63 the magazine stated a military escalation is not being considered – “The message is loud and clear a major cut in defense spending is in the works.”

  4. Jean Davison says:

    QUOTE: “So it was a hopeless situation and Kennedy came to this conclusion and, you know, as I said, and his decision was to get the American advisers out, there were only sixteen thousand five hundred there and he removed the first one thousand and had an approved plan for removing the rest within a matter of two or three months. it was hopeless.”–interview with Roger Hilsman, National Security Council policymaker under President Kennedy.”

    That’s not what Hilsman said in his 1967 book, far from it. I can find nothing there about withdrawing troops. On the contrary, he wrote:

    “President Kennedy grumbled occasionally about the United States being ‘overcommitted in Vietnam an Southeast Asia, but he could not go back on the commitments already made….” (p. 420)

    “He approved of the step-up in military and economic aid, and the increase of American advisors, technicians, and helicopter pilots….” (p.424)

    Book excerpt pdf:
    http://web.stanford.edu/group/tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/0611-1964-Hilsman-a-AJG.pdf

    • David Regan says:

      Regardless of statements made by Kennedy insiders (and there are many), the historical record clearly shows Vietnam withdrawal plans being put into place as early as the spring of 1963.

      8 May 1963 – This 213-page document is the proceedings from the 8th SecDef conference on Vietnam, held in early May 1963. Prominent among the many plans presented there was a concrete timetable for the phased withdrawal of US troops. Once section notes that “As a matter of urgency a plan for the withdrawal of about 1,000 troops before the end of the year should be developed….” The document also contains a timetable for full withdrawal of US forces by late 1965, along with the admonishment that “SECDEF advised that the phase-out program presented during 6 May conference appeared too slow.”
      https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=122

      4 Oct 1963 – This memo from General Taylor to the rest of the Joint Chiefs notes that “On Oct 2 the President approved recommendations relating to military matters contained in the trip report…,” including a phase-out of US forces so that military functions “can be assumed properly by the Vietnamese by the end of calendar year 1965.” The memo also notifies the Joint Chiefs to “Execute the plan to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963…” Note under item b on page 4 reads “All planning will be directed towards preparing RVN forces for the withdrawal of all U.S. special assistance units and personnel by the end of calendar year 1965.”
      https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=113

      • Jean Davison says:

        David,

        “…. the historical record clearly shows Vietnam withdrawal plans being put into place as early as the spring of 1963.”

        But the record clearly indicates that these plans were not unconditional. They were always tied to training the South Vietnamese to take over the fighting so that SVN would not be defeated. For instance, the Taylor-McNamara report recommended:

        “2. A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time. [Note “essential” and “it should be possible.”]

        3. In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963. This action should be explained in low key as an initial step in a long-term program to replace U.S. personnel with trained Vietnamese without impairment of the war effort.”

        http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d167

        In his Oct. 31 news conference JFK also tied the planned withdrawal to SV’s progress in taking over the war effort:

        “THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, when Secretary McNamara and General Taylor came back, they announced that we would expect to withdraw a thousand men from South Viet-Nam before the end of the year, and there has been some reference to that by General Harkins. *If we are able to do that*, that would be our schedule. I think the first unit or first contingent would be 250 men who are not involved in what might be called front-line operations. *It would be our hope* to lessen the number of Americans there by 1,000, as the training intensifies and is carried on in South Viet-Nam. As far as other units, we will have to make our judgment based on what the military correlation of forces may be.” [my emphasis]

        http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9507

        Of course JFK *wanted* to bring all our troops home. He wasn’t a hawk (and I’ve never described him as one). But he also said that he believed in the domino theory and that it would be a “great mistake” to withdraw from Vietnam.

        I can’t find anything in the contemporary record saying that JFK planned to withdraw regardless of the consequences, and that includes in books written in the mid-1960s by Sorensen, Schlesinger, and Hilsman. LATER, they may have claimed this, but not at the time.

        • David Regan says:

          Kennedy did and would give lip service to the domino theory, but it’s quite clear he did not truly believe it, otherwise he would have taken Eisenhower’s advice and intervened in Laos. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v24/d11

          After the NSC meeting on 11 October, JFK had lunch at the White House with Arthur Krock, a New York Times columnist and longtime friend of the Kennedy family. According to Mr. Krock, the President expressed concern over the situation in Southeast Asia and even doubts about the validity of the so-called “falling domino theory.” President Kennedy reiterated his opinion, expressed several years before on the Senate floor, “that United States troops should not be involved in the Asian mainland.” President Kennedy then told the reporter that he had just come from
          a meeting on Vietnam and that the Pentagon favored a “recommendation by the Chiefs of Staff to send 40,000 troops there.” The President declared that he did not favor such a move “at this time and therefore was sending General Maxwell Taylor to investigate
          and report what should be done.” (The Krock interview is quoted in Kaiser, American Tragedy, p. 101. Kaiser cites Krock papers, Mudd Library, box 1.)

          • Jean Davison says:

            David,

            “Kennedy did and would give lip service to the domino theory, but it’s quite clear he did not truly believe it, otherwise he would have taken Eisenhower’s advice and intervened in Laos. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v24/d11

            I can’t find where your link really says that, David, and if you click to the next page, you’ll find this:

            “The President said he regarded the step of committing American troops [in Laos] as the last step to be employed. However, he is determined to try by all means to sustain the government.”

            The official U.S. policy on Vietnam was similar. From JFK’s 9/12/63 news conference, e.g.:

            “THE PRESIDENT. I think I have stated what my view is and we are for those things and those policies which help win the war there. That is why some 25,000 Americans have traveled 10,000 miles to participate in that struggle. What helps to win the war, we support; what interferes with the war effort, we oppose[….] we have a very simple policy in that area, I think. In some ways I think the Vietnamese people and ourselves agree: we want the war to be won, the Communists to be contained, and the Americans to go home. That is our policy. I am sure it is the policy of the people of Viet-Nam. But we are not there to see a war lost, and we will follow the policy which I have indicated today of advancing those causes and issues which help win the war.”

            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9405

            This official policy was stated over and over. At the same time, Kennedy also made it clear that he didn’t want to send more troops. The problem was, what happened if it turned out that the U.S. either had to commit more troops or “see the war lost”? Saying that our men would withdraw as the Vietnamese were trained to take over the war effort is not the same thing as withdrawing unconditionally.

            Had he lived, JFK may well have decided to withdraw completely from Vietnam even if it meant losing the war, but where is the evidence for that in the record? It’s surely not in NSAM 263.

          • In Jean’s comment, she construes “winning the war” with winning MILITARILY, and frames what Kennedy says in that context. As we have seen it is a false context.

            Granting that Kennedy was determined to withdraw militarily from Vietnam, also gives the Military Industrial Complex the motive for the coup d’etat. This blunts Jean’s rather week argument of Oswald being a nut seeking a place in history as the only clear motive for any party. The MIC certainly had the means and opportunity to kill Kennedy, with the motive, it is a veritable slam dunk case that the hit was a systemic coup.
            \\][//

          • David Regan says:

            Jean, let’s put Eisenhower’s remarks to Kennedy in proper context.

            “Senator Kennedy asked the President which he would prefer: coalition with the Communists to form a government in Laos or intervening through SEATO. The President replied that it would be far better to intervene through SEATO and referred to the example of the coalition with the Communists which was set up in China at the time General Marshall was sent there. The President pointed out that unilateral intervention on the part of the United States would be a last desperate effort to save Laos, stating that the loss of Laos would be the loss of the “cork in the bottle” and the beginning of the loss of most of the Far East.

            It appears Eisenhower would have sent U.S. troops in before ever considering a coalition with the Communists.

            Clark Clifford sent an account of this meeting to JFK on January 24 which provides additional detail on Eisenhower’s views: “At this point, President Eisenhower stated that Laos is the present key to the entire area of South East Asia. If Laos were lost to the Communists, it would bring unbelievable pressure to bear on Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam. President Eisenhower stated that he considered Laos of such importance that if it reached the stage where we could not persuade others to act with us, then he would be willing, as a last desperate hope, to intervene unilaterally.” Given the Geneva Agreements of 1962 on Laos, JFK clearly did not share Ike’s view.
            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v24/d8

            Kennedy dictated his own notes to Evelyn Lincoln on the meeting in which he concludes “I came away from that meeting feeling that the Eisenhower administration would support intervention—they felt it was preferable to a communist success in Laos.” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v24/d7

            The historical record is also clear how opposed the JCS were to the outcome of a negotiated settlement for Laos.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten August 31, 2015 at 6:55 pm

            In Jean’s comment, she construes “winning the war” with winning MILITARILY, and frames what Kennedy says in that context. As we have seen it is a false context.

            Not at all, Willy. The withdrawal plan in NSAM 263 depends on a military victory. Our military was to train the SVN military so they would be strong enough to handle the communist military. That appears triple bred military to me. How about you?

            I might note that one cannot win at the table what they can’t win on the battle ground. I suspect that is why JFK and LBJ didn’t negotiate in 1963 and 1964 when they had their best chance of success.
            _____________________________________
            Bundy: It doesn’t mean that every American Officer comes out of there either.

            Taylor: No.

            Taylor: I would think if we take these dates, Mr. President, it ought to be very clear what we mean by victory or success. That doesn’t mean that every [unclear] comes [unclear] a white flag. But we do- we’re crushing this insurgency to the point that the national security forces of Vietnam can [unclear].

            McNamara: We have about 3,500 left at the end of the period.
            http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/
            ______________________________________

            WW. it is a veritable slam dunk case that the hit was a systemic coup

            Willy, if it is such a slam dunk case then why is it still bitterly debated 50 years after the fact?

          • Jean Davison says:

            Willy,

            “In Jean’s comment, she construes “winning the war” with winning MILITARILY, and frames what Kennedy says in that context. As we have seen it is a false context.”

            Really? What is this “false context”?

            “Granting that Kennedy was determined to withdraw militarily from Vietnam….”

            If you mean Kennedy was determined to withdraw even if it meant the communists took over SV, I’d like to see evidence for that in the pre-assassination historical record.

            “…, also gives the Military Industrial Complex the motive for the coup d’etat. This blunts Jean’s rather week argument of Oswald being a nut seeking a place in history as the only clear motive for any party.”

            That’s not my argument, Willy, so please don’t claim that it is. Besides, this thread is supposed to be about Hilsman and JFK’s Vietnam plans, not speculations about motive.

            The MIC certainly isn’t the only group said to have had the means, motive and opportunity. “The Onion” even made a joke about it:

            http://www.theonion.com/graphic/november-22-1963-10584

            Means, motive and opportunity don’t establish guilt. It takes evidence.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Means,_motive,_and_opportunity

          • “Means, motive and opportunity don’t establish guilt. It takes evidence.”~Jean Davison

            And this very site has presented that evidence so effectively that if you were to acknowledge it you would not make the scurrilous arguments you do.
            \\][//

          • “Willy, if it is such a slam dunk case then why is it still bitterly debated 50 years after the fact?”~Bill Clarke

            Because people like you buy into the false history constructed by the military industrial complex that usurped this nation in a coup d’etat.
            As is known, “The winners write history” and in the political struggle between the fascist that established the National Security State, and far seeing statesmen like Kennedy who opposed such tyranny, it was the brute force of the fascists that won.

            Do not forget the concept of “the Memory Hole” in Orwell’s 1984. It is a real and constant obstacle to truth in this era that has been an ‘aftermath’ of the events of 11/22/1963.

            “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”~Santayana
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm
            And this very site has presented that evidence so effectively that if you were to acknowledge it you would not make the scurrilous arguments you do.
            What evidence Willy? I’ve seen no evidence that JFK was pulling out of VN “come what may”. Certainly no evidence that within 3 or 4 months of the 1,000 man withdrawal ALL of the rest of our troops would be withdrawn as per Hilsman. You have presented no evidence for this. In fact, you have avoided answering Jean’s and my request for you to show some evidence. I’ve collected the most pertinent points and present them to you in one post. If you can support your theory please do so now. A reference or two would be nice.

            Jean Davison September 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm
            ww. Granting that Kennedy was determined to withdraw militarily from Vietnam….”
            jd. If you mean Kennedy was determined to withdraw even if it meant the communists took over SV, I’d like to see evidence for that in the pre

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Moderator; Please void incomplete message dated September 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm

            Thanks, Bill Clarke

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm

            And this very site has presented that evidence so effectively that if you were to acknowledge it you would not make the scurrilous arguments you do.

            What evidence Willy? I’ve seen no evidence that JFK was pulling out of VN “come what may”. Certainly no evidence that within 3 or 4 months of the 1,000 man withdrawal ALL of the rest of our troops would be withdrawn as per Hilsman. You have presented no evidence for this. In fact, you have avoided answering Jean and my request for you to show some evidence. I’ve collected the most pertinent points and present them to you in one post. If you can support your theory please do so now. A reference or two would be nice.

            Jean Davison September 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm

            ww. Granting that Kennedy was determined to withdraw militarily from Vietnam….”

            jd. If you mean Kennedy was determined to withdraw even if it meant the communists took over SV, I’d like to see evidence for that in the pre-assassination historical record.

            Jean Davison August 25, 2015 at 7:40 pm

            I can’t find anything in the contemporary record saying that JFK planned to withdraw regardless of the consequences, and that includes in books written in the mid-1960s by Sorensen, Schlesinger, and Hilsman. LATER, they may have claimed this, but not at the time.

            Jean Davison August 31, 2015 at 12:05 am

            Had he lived, JFK may well have decided to withdraw completely from Vietnam even if it meant losing the war, but where is the evidence for that in the record? It’s surely not in NSAM 263.

            Bill Clarke September 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

            WW. Military deescalation is NOT disengagement, not when diplomatic efforts are put in place to take over as the main strategy.

            BC. What diplomatic efforts? I didn’t see any in NSAM 263, did you? No talk of diplomacy in the NSC meeting to draft NSAM 263 (see Miller Center Tapes). All I saw were plans to win the war.

            Bill Clarke September 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm

            ww. All available history shows that Kennedy could see Vietnam was an unwinnable quagmire – which it was.

            bc. Then why did he send 16,000 men, bombers, fighters, helicopter units and the 7th Fleet to Vietnam and overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem. If he knew it was an “unwinnable quagmire” why didn’t he at least keep a low profile or at best get the hell out of dodge?

    • leslie sharp says:

      A debate focused on why any faction would choose to distort the fundamental spirit of John Kennedy’s presidency is long overdue. The core of this particular distortion – aside from controversial accounts of Kennedy’s role in the Bay of Pigs – is that Kennedy was an avowed hawk on Vietnam; this, in spite of what his military advisor Maxwell Taylor said . . . “I don’t recall anyone who was strongly against, except one man, and that was the President.*

      The propaganda to position Kennedy as anything other than an advocate of peaceful solutions, domestic or foreign, seems to argue the subtle conclusion: “If Kennedy was in effect doing the bidding of the Military-Industrial Complex, what possible motive would a cabal of individuals within that Deep State have to assassinate him?” As the undertow of that premise gained momentum, logic lead to the argument that if there was no MIC cabal behind the Dallas tragedy, then the only conclusion was that an unstable lone gunman (identified as Marxist – or Leninist or Communist – when the American public became restless that the Warren Commission had failed to be specific) shot the president.

      The assertion that President Kennedy was a hawk on Vietnam is in direct opposition to what John Kennedy the man espoused in the lead up to his 1960 presidential election (“The Strategy of Peace” by John F. Kennedy, edited by Allan Nevins) and in his public speeches up to the hour of his murder.

      Variations on the discordant theme: Kennedy did not favor civil rights aggressively; he was not interested in progressive wages and safe conditions for the working class; he was not concerned for Native Americans and the poverty of heritage and culture they suffered under the boot of the US government; he supported oil monopolies and believed that the oil in the Middle East belonged to the U.S. (and Great Britain); he advocated for an unregulated Wall Street and was a strong proponent of the Federal Reserve; essentially, he was a man who exhibited a core philosophy of survival of the fittest and openly opposed noblesse oblige.

      So why indeed would the Military-Idustrial Complex want him dead?

      *”[Maxwell] Taylor was soon to recommend that 8,000 American combat troops be sent to the region at once. After making his report to the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff, Taylor was to reflect on the decision to send troops to South Vietnam: “I don’t recall anyone who was strongly against, except one man, and that was the President. The President just didn’t want to be convinced that this was the right thing to do…. It was really the President’s personal conviction that U.S. ground troops shouldn’t go in.”[4] . . . “Robert Kennedy: His Life and Times” Arthur Schlesinger

      • bogman says:

        Great post, Leslie. Even as a Kennedy fan I was not aware of all he was doing for peace until fairly recently. I also assumed he was a Cold Warrior who luckily had the nerves of steel during the Cuban missile crisis.

        Reading more, it’s clear Kennedy understand most communist “insurgencies” around the world were really nationalist movements. These rebels were siding with anyone who would keep them armed. Kennedy understood that they were looking for a fair shake for their country in Laos, the Congo, etc.

        I truly believe he had this unique attitude (for a president, anyway) from the long fight for independence in Ireland.

        • leslie sharp says:

          Bogman, thanks, and I agree fully with your assessment about Kennedy’s ‘Irishness;’ some might argue it was eclipsed by his religious faith, but I disagree, and students of the North of Ireland dispute know that religion is a flashpoint but the history runs deeper. I think this is another discussion topic that would serve the investigation and the historical record.

      • J.D. says:

        This is very well stated.

        Unfortunately, it is all too easy to selectively quote JFK in order to make him look like something other than he was, just as you can — through selective quotation and misrepresentation of the context — make Lincoln sound like an advocate of slavery or make Martin Luther King sound like a contemporary conservative who would have opposed affirmative action. When you isolate JFK’s speeches and actions and remove them from their context, it’s easy to belittle him and focus on his flaws and missteps; when you place him in the context of Richard Nixon, John Foster Dulles, and Henry Cabot Lodge, it becomes clear how progressive and far-sighted JFK’s views really were.

        I’ve even read a number of left-wing critics dismiss JFK’s inaugural address as warmongering because of his call to “pay any price, bear any burden,” etc., but if you look at the original reports on the address, that wasn’t how it was received at all. The Boston Globe’s report was headlined “Kennedy Offers World New Start for Peace” and The Los Angeles Times’s front page boomed “Kennedy Urges New Quest for Peace.”

      • David Regan says:

        This 3-Nov-61 New York Times article is interesting in that while it correctly states JFK being opposed to sending combat troops, it incorrectly states that opinion is shared by Maxwell Taylor and makes no mention of his true recommendations of sending a force of 8,000 troops under the guise of flood relief efforts. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F06E0DE1E3DE733A25757C0A9679D946091D6CF

        • leslie sharp says:

          “When you isolate JFK’s speeches and actions and remove them from their context, it’s easy to belittle him and focus on his flaws and missteps; when you place him in the context of Richard Nixon, John Foster Dulles, and Henry Cabot Lodge, it becomes clear how progressive and far-sighted JFK’s views really were.”

          J.D., This prompts the metaphor, ‘turning around the QE2.’ The momentum is so great that the turn requires an ample amount of ocean and must be executed with precision and sensitivity.

          Incorporating a portion of Jean Davison’s comment, “Of course JFK *wanted* to bring all our troops home. He wasn’t a hawk (and I’ve never described him as one). But he also said that he believed in the domino theory and that it would be a “great mistake” to withdraw from Vietnam,”

          . . . and we inch toward the reality of Kennedy’s 3 years in office. Quite simply he “wanted” things to be better for all people on the planet, and he said as much, repeatedly. Evidence supports the argument that he also realized the extraordinary tonnage behind the euphemistic Military Industrial Complex, and recognized that politically speaking he would need a vast amount of leeway to turn that ship around. He clearly had his eye on a second term to execute the maneuver. Sadly for our nation, entities that had gained extraordinary momentum during WWII and the Cold War were intent on limiting Kennedy. I argue that certain among them were involved in the plot to murder him.

          The one conundrum for me continues to be the increase in the number of military personnel, regardless of an advisory role. How the heck did that happen on Kennedy’s watch? I know the answer must lie in the fluidity of circumstances in SE Asia as Eisenhower left office, but the facts also suggest to me that the MIC saw an opportunity in the making, steadily and clandestinely escalated matters in VN, and at the same time slowly over two plus years increased deployment of military personnel under varying terms and misrepresentations. Those behind the escalation appear to have relied on Kennedy as being inexperienced, indecisive and/or that he would go along in increments until 16,500 US military personnel were in VN. Obviously what they miscalculated was Kennedy’s personal history including his “Irishness.” Colonialism was an anathema He sent McNamara and Taylor to check on the reality of the increases vs. his policy which was that the the US would support the Vietnamese in their drive for full democracy including for Buddhists but it would not win their war for them by sending in ground troops. He never ever said, ‘send in ground troops.’ The conversation must be turned around: who can prove that John Kennedy ever intended to send ground troops to Vietnam?

          Subversion of Kennedy’s fundamental policies including those for Southeast Asia occurred long before Dallas. Subversion unchecked was the slippery slope toward treason on 11.22.63.

    • “He approved of the step-up in military and economic aid, and the increase of American advisors, technicians, and helicopter pilots….” (p.424)~Jean Davison

      What Jean? Do you think no one is going to check up on you? Why didn’t you complete the paragraph?:

      “He approved of the step-up in military and economic aid, and the increase of American advisors, technicians, and helicopter pilots, including the “Farmgate” B-26’s and T-28’s with their pilots and mechanics. But he did not approve the commitment of American ground troops.”~Hilsman (p.424)

      Hilsman goes on with:
      “In an interesting example of one type of gambit in the politics of Washington policy-making, the President avoided a direct “no” to the proposal for introducing troops to Vietnam. He merely let the decision slide, at the same time ordering the government to set in motion all the preparatory steps for introducing troops.”
      . . . .

      I would point out that what Hilsman describes there is what is known as a ‘feint’ in political infighting, or a ‘bluff’ in poker.
      \\][//

    • leslie sharp says:

      ‘In its description of CIA’s position and activities the book is accurate, as far as I can discover. There is one matter, however, on which the author erred, and it is an important matter. One day in August, 1963—it was a Saturday—the State Department sent a cable to Saigon which, in effect, ordered a withdrawal of U.S. support from Ngo Dinh Diem. It was a memorable cable, drafted by George Ball, Averell Harriman, N-Michael Forrestal, and Hilsman. Clearance of this cable was a problem because so many important folk were out of Washington. According to Hilsman it was approved by General Carter for the CIA; and certainly Hilsman ought to know. But the fact is that it was not approved, or seen in advance, by anybody in CIA, and it created a sensation when it was read after being sent. Of course this was an act of high policy, and it was not for the CIA to say yea or nay.’ — Abbot Smith

      Perhaps the problem is Hilsman himself and the possibility of distortion of history, not to mention the company he kept in the dissemination of this particular cable.

      https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol11no4/html/v11i4a10p_0001.htm

    • “He approved of the step-up in military and economic aid, and the increase of American advisors, technicians, and helicopter pilots….” (p.424)~Jean Davison

      This is the complete the paragraph:

      “He approved of the step-up in military and economic aid, and the increase of American advisors, technicians, and helicopter pilots, including the “Farmgate” B-26’s and T-28’s with their pilots and mechanics. *But he did not approve the commitment of American ground troops.”~Hilsman (p.424)

      Hilsman goes on with:
      “In an interesting example of one type of gambit in the politics of Washington policy-making, the President avoided a direct “no” to the proposal for introducing troops to Vietnam. He merely let the decision slide, at the same time ordering the government to set in motion all the preparatory steps for introducing troops.”
      . . . .

      I would point out that what Hilsman describes there is what is known as a ‘feint’ in political infighting, or a ‘bluff’ in poker.
      \\][//

  5. leslie sharp says:

    ‘The Kennedy tape from October 29, 1963 captures the highest-level White House meeting immediately prior to the coup, including the President’s brother voicing doubts about the policy of support for a coup:

    “I mean, it’s different from a coup in the Iraq or South American country; we are so intimately involved in this….”‘– Robert Kennedy, Attorney General

    It seems to me that Roger Hillsman was up to his neck in the evolution of the problem for the administration?

    DOCUMENT 2
State-Saigon Cable 243, August 24, 1963
    SOURCE: JFKL: JFKP: National Security File: Meetings & Memoranda series, box 316, folder: Meetings on Vietnam 8/24/63-8/31/63
    This is the notorious “Hilsman Cable,” drafted by Assistant Secretary of state For Far Eastern Affairs Roger A. Hilsman in response to a repeated contact between General Don and Conein on August 23. The U.S. government position generally supported action to unseat Ngo Dinh Nhu and if Diem’s departure were necessary to reach that goal, so be it. Hilsman’s stronger formulation of that position in this cable was drafted while President Kennedy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and CIA director McCone were all out of town. Though the cable had the proper concurrences by their deputies or staff, the principals were converted by officials who opposed the Hilsman pro-coup policy. Much of the rest of August 1963 was taken up by the U.S. government trying to take back the coup support expressed in this cable while, out of concern for the U.S. image with the South Vietnamese generals, without seeming to do so.

    http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB101/#3

    • leslie sharp says:

      “The Kennedy administration between 1961 and 1963 repeatedly increased the levels of its military aid to Saigon, funding growth in the Vietnamese armed forces. ”

      The elephant in the room for me are the numbers; an increase from 700 to 16,500 from the time Eisenhower left office to Kennedy’s NSAM 263. What was the actual process that resulted in the increase of US presence some 16 fold over a 26 month time period? The argument that Kennedy meant NSAM 263 as the official order to withdraw all US personnel from Vietnam is undermined by these figures, and I think we do the renewed debate (on this site) a disservice by denying the numbers and/or failing to address them. Who were the signatories, where are the minutes of meetings reflecting that Kennedy was advised methodically that every month on average 500-600 Americans were deploying to VN regardless of whether or not they did so under the umbrella of ‘advisors?’ When he laid his head on the pillow at night Kennedy either knew that the numbers were increasing or he was in the dark about what was happening on his watch. If he knew, what do we do with that information? He was responsible for the increase and yet NSAM 263 established a dramatic change in policy. If Kennedy didn’t know about the monthly increases, then treason was in the making because he was Commander in Chief and he was being lied to. This dynamic should ultimately take into consideration Kennedy’s fundamental error from the beginning – allowing Robert A. Lovett (and elder statesman Adolph A. Berle) to influence his choice of cabinet. The hubris was in his thinking that he could ‘keep his enemies close’ – a particularly Irish trait I would suggest – and still implement his progressive policies; the manifestation of that hubris was the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam.

      The legacy of his presidency suffers more from a protracted argument that fails to identify the precise conditions of the build up in Vietnam from 1961-1963 (even the JFK Library includes these numbers) than from allegations he was a “hawk.” Kennedy’s legacy will not suffer from the truth of these details because in essence his record, his voice was one of peaceful solutions to conflict and liberty for all. Ignoring the numbers won’t make them go away; getting to the root of them may lead to the cabal that authorized his death.

      • leslie sharp says:

        reverting to wiki for expediency. this is footnoted as having come from Arthur Schlessinger, ” [Maxwell] Taylor was soon to recommend that 8,000 American combat troops be sent to the region at once. After making his report to the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff, Taylor was to reflect on the decision to send troops to South Vietnam: “I don’t recall anyone who was strongly against, except one man, and that was the President. The President just didn’t want to be convinced that this was the right thing to do…. It was really the President’s personal conviction that U.S. ground troops shouldn’t go in.”[4] . . . “Robert Kennedy: His Life and Times” Arthur Schlesinger

        and this: McMaster contends that using a variety of political maneuvering, including liberal use of outright deception, Gen. Taylor succeeded in keeping the Joint Chiefs’ opinions away from the President and helped set the stage for McNamara to begin to dominate systematically the U.S. decision making process on Vietnam. https://books.google.com/books?id=igxF_GoEptQC

        • David Regan says:

          JFK refused calls for sending in combat troops on three occasions in 1961.

          On 8 May 1961, JCS Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer sent a blistering telegram to the Pentagon. Lemnitzer said it appeared “the unhappy sequence of events in Laos” was being repeated, adding that this “can only mean the loss of Vietnam.” In a scathing indictment of the President’s cautious approach to the Communist threat in Southeast Asia, Lemnitzer argued the problem in simple terms: “Does the U.S. intend to take the necessary military action now to defeat the Viet Cong threat or do we intend to quibble for weeks and months over details of general policy…while Vietnam slowly goes down the drain of Communism as North Vietnam and a large portion of Laos have gone to date?” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v01/d47

          On 10 October 1961, U. Alexis Johnson drafted “Concept of Intervention in Vietnam.” He indicated the “real and ultimate objective of U.S. troops. To defeat the Vietcong and render Vietnam secure under a non-Communist government, Johnson “guessed” three divisions (30,000-54,000 troops) would be the ultimate force required in support of the “real objective.” Unilateral U.S. action would probably be necessary.

          At a crucial meeting on 11 October 1961, The NSC considered four papers: the Alexis Johnson draft calling for SEATO force of 22,800 combat troops (11,000 of them American); an NIE estimate that SEATO action would be opposed by the DRV, Viet Cong and the Soviet Union (airlift), that these forces stood a good chance of thwarting the SEATO intervention; third, a JCS estimate that 40,000 U.S. troops would be required to “clean up the Viet Cong threat” and another 128,000 men would be needed to oppose DRV/CHICOM intervention (draining 3 to 4 re serve divisions). Finally, a memorandum from William Bundy to McNamara which said “it is really now or never if we are to arrest the gains being made by the Viet Cong,” and gave “an early and hard-hitting operation” a 70 percent chance of
          doing that. (Pentagon Papers, Part IV-B-1, 11 October 1961, NSC Meeting on Vietnam)

      • David Regan says:

        Leslie, the following link provides a detailed timeline of key policy decisions and events of the Vietnam War.

        Vietnam War Timeline:1961-1962 http://www.vietnamgear.com/war1961.aspx

      • Bill Clarke says:

        LS. “The argument that Kennedy meant NSAM 263 as the official order to withdraw all US personnel from Vietnam is undermined by these figures, and I think we do the renewed debate (on this site) a disservice by denying the numbers and/or failing to address them.”

        Thank you very much. I’ve been saying that for years but it seems few hear me. You can talk about what JFK told Kenny O’Donnell all day long but sooner or later you need to observe what is done and what is being done by the president. What JFK did was a steady increase in our efforts to assist the SVG in their fight against the communist. This included personnel as well as equipment and materials. I for one salute his efforts here; it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of or to omit from discussion.

        NSAM 263 doesn’t say “all the troops” although many bypass this inconvenience to their agenda and claim that it does. The NSAM also isn’t only a withdrawal order but instead a policy to win the war in SVN. As we win of course we can withdraw some troops. It seems this part of the approved M/T report is often over looked.

        https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d167
        https://research.archives.gov/id/193326

        I fear penning down an order from JFK for every man sent to Vietnam is going to be rather difficult. The most I’ve found is the series of NSAMs in which JFK authorized a number of troops to be sent to SVN.

        NSAM 52 approved the sending of 400 Special Force troops to Vietnam. May 11, 1961. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/…/d52

        NSAM 104. President Kennedy, in NSAM 104, authorizes the introduction of the ‘Air Force “Jungle Jim” Squadron into Nam for the initial purpose of training Vietnamese forces.’ Codenamed “Farm Gate”, detachment 2A of the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron departs for its covert mission in Vietnam on November 5th. 1961.

        NSAM 111 we have discussed before. This is the big one that set up the new command, MACV.

        I don’t recall anyone making the question of where is the authorization for this personnel increase. It is an excellent question but I doubt we find any evil doing here. But one never knows.

        • Here you can read the complete document;
          Taylor/McNamara Report (document 167)
          http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/FRUSno167.html

          In this way you can correlate National Security Action Memorandum No. 263 with the section approved by JFK, 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.
          \\][//

        • David Regan says:

          Pertaining to NSAM 52, it’s important to note the following: President Kennedy approves the deployment of a 400-man Special Forces group to Nha Trang to accelerate ARVN training. As authors of the Pentagon Papers note for 11 May 1961, NSAM 52 directed “full examination” by DOD of a study on the size and composition of forces which might comprise
          a possible commitment of troops to Southeast Asia. In effect, Kennedy “took note” of the study but made
          no decision on the issue of troop commitment. The Ambassador in Saigon was empowered to open negotiations about a bilateral treaty but was
          directed to make no commitments without
          further review by the President.

          One day prior to NSAM 52 being issued (May 10), the Joint Chiefs of Staff responded to a request by Deputy Secretary Gilpatric “about the possible commitment
          of US forces to Vietnam” as suggested in the report. In their reply, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended “that US forces should be deployed immediately to South Vietnam; such action should be taken primarily to prevent the Vietnamese from being subjected to the same situation as presently exists in Laos.” They also advised that President Diem be encouraged to ask for the American troops.” (JCSM-320-61; The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, vol. 2)

    • Bill Clarke says:

      leslie sharp August 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      It seems to me that Roger Hillsman was up to his neck in the evolution of the problem for the administration?

      No doubt about it. Harriman, Forrestal and Hilsman pulled, as Max Taylor called it, “an end run”. It was an act so disloyal to the president I’m surprised JFK didn’t fire all three of them.

      One of several good accounts of this episode is, “Our Vietnam; The War 1954-1975 by A.J. Langguth.

      The cable went out on a Saturday. “In Washington, the sense of urgency, even euphoria, that had swept Hilsman’s cable past every weekend barrier had given way to a cold-eyed Monday morning reckoning”. Page 225. In other words McNamara and especially Taylor was mad as hell.

      “Had Mac Bundy been in town, Taylor concluded, he would not have approved the cable, which he called “an aggressive end run” Page 225.

      “The president opened the session by calling for a full discussion. He said it wasn’t too late to pull back the go-ahead that the Saigon generals had been given…” page 226. Although there was much bickering and very heated discussion it seems no one made a motion to withdraw the cable.

      • “A pivotal period of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, punctuated by three important events: the overthrow and assassination of South Vietnam’s president Ngo Dinh Diem; President Kennedy’s decision on October 2 to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces; and his assassination fifty days later.” ~Robert McNamara
        1995 memoir In Retrospect – Chapter 3, titled “The Fateful Fall of 1963: August 24–November 22, 1963”
        \\][//

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Willy Whitten August 29, 2015 at 10:31 am

          Careful Willy, that is the book Halberstam called “shockingly dishonest”. And it is because McNamara is shockingly dishonest and self serving. He lied to you about the Tonkin Gulf, he’ll lie again.

          Have you ever seen this (below), Willy? It was approved by JFK the same time the “withdrawal order” was approved. It is the part of NSAM 263 that we never hear about. You would think it wasn’t part of the order since all we hear is about “the withdrawal order” (2 and 3). It takes all three (1,2,3) to make the withdrawal work.

          [SECTION] 1: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
          B. Recommendations.

          We recommend that:
          1. General Harkins review with Diem the military changes necessary to complete the military campaign in the Northern and Central areas (I, II, and III Corps) by the end of 1964, and in the Delta (IV Corps) by the end of 1965. This review would consider the need for such changes as:
          a. A further shift of military emphasis and strength to the Delta (IV Corps).
          b. An increase in the military tempo in all corps areas, so that all combat troops are in the field an average of 20 days out of 30 and static missions are ended.
          c. Emphasis on “clear and hold operations” instead of terrain sweeps which have little permanent value.
          d. The expansion of personnel in combat units to full authorized strength.
          e. The training and arming of hamlet militia to an accelerated rate, especially in the Delta.
          f. A consolidation of the strategic hamlet program, especially in the Delta, and action to insure that future strategic hamlets are not built until they can be protected, and until civic action programs can be introduced.

          http://www.jfklancer.com/NSAM263.html

          • Yes Mr Clarke, and all of that refers to Vietnamese forces.

            The IV Corps (Vietnamese: Quân đoàn IV) was a corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the army of the nation state of South Vietnam that existed from 1955 to 1975. It was one of four corps in the ARVN, and it oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country.
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten August 31, 2015 at 9:53 am

            Yes Mr Clarke, and all of that refers to Vietnamese forces.

            Of course it does Mr. Whitten. Those are the people that have to win the war. Remember this;
            QUOTE JFK:
            “but in the final analysis it is the people and the Government itself who have to win or lose this struggle. All we can do is help, and we are making it very clear. But I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake.” That would be a great mistake.

            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9388

            The paragraph also was a list of things that would improve the war effort. Remember JFK saying what was good for the war we were for?

            Thanks but I’ve been familiar with IV Corps since 1969.

  6. What was the motive for the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

    As far as the Warren Commission Cult, Oswald did it alone, because he was a deranged nut looking for a place in history.

    Those who think JFK was killed by a conspiracy perpetrated from the highest levels of the Military Industrial Complex, argue that Kennedy was going to pull out of Southeast Asia militarily, and this provides the motive for the military industrial complex to get Kennedy out of the way with a violent coup d’etat.

    That is why those who argue the lone-nut nonsense need to take that motive out of the picture.
    That is the nitty-gritty of the whole game the WC side is playing.

    It is a loosing battle for them however. As has been shown from the longer historical perspective, John Kennedy was a radical for his entire adult life, and this is reflected in his own words, the Senate speech in 1957, his voting record, his speeches and confidential conversations during his presidency. Whatever “epiphany” John had occurred long before the Bay of Pigs, or the Missile Crisis – although they were certainly reinforcing events.

    This is exactly why the narrow focus of the WC cult, to only talk about Dealey Plaza, to focus attention on Oswald, and to ignore who Kennedy the man actually was.
    \\][//

  7. The FACT remains that there were no combat troops sent to Vietnam during Kennedy’s administration. Some may argue that these advisers were actually taking on direct combat roles – but if they were, it was against official US policy. The FIRST authorized combat forces were sent in during the Johnson administration and that is simple historical fact.
    \\][//

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Willy Whitten August 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      WW. The FACT remains that there were no combat troops sent to Vietnam during Kennedy’s administration.

      BC. The FACT remains that JFK sent trained combat soldiers (with a Infantry, Armor and Artillery MOS)to SVN. The FACT remains that they engaged in ground combat. These men didn’t die of old age in Vietnam, they were killed while engaging in combat. We’ll cover the Air Force and Navy below.

      WW. Some may argue that these advisers were actually taking on direct combat roles – but if they were, it was against official US policy.

      BC. Now we’re back to “they disobeyed orders so they could go into combat”. Why didn’t JFK stop this insubordination if what you say is true? Surely he saw the rapid increase in his losses and understood what was occurring. All he had to do was ban the American “advisers” from going out with the Vietnamese on combat missions. But he didn’t do this. Why not?

      WW. The FIRST authorized combat forces were sent in during the Johnson administration and that is simple historical fact.

      BC. Simple yes, historical fact not so much. JFK sent not only the 7th Fleet to Vietnam but he also sent the 7th Air Force. I’m sure we can find some older Japanese folks that will testify to these units being “combat forces”. No need to mention the helicopter units JFK sent or the 400 Special Force troops.

      • As I predicted; Some may argue that these advisers were actually taking on direct combat roles – but if they were, it was against official US policy. And that has all Bill Clarke has done. The FACTS Bill – it was indeed against US policy. Period.

        Military deescalation is NOT disengagement, not when diplomatic efforts are put in place to take over as the main strategy. This was obviously Kennedy’s strategic goal. He said it so many times in so many ways it can be called a mantra. Kennedy’s plan to withdraw militarily from Southeast Asia is crystal clear.
        \\][//

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Willy Whitten August 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

          As I predicted; Some may argue that these advisers were actually taking on direct combat roles – but if they were, it was against official US policy. And that has all Bill Clarke has done. The FACTS Bill – it was indeed against US policy. Period.

          BC. So tell me Willy, if it was Jack’s policy that these boys on the ground not engage in combat then pray tell why he sent them to Vietnamese combat units to train and advise ARVN?

          “In addition to Army Special Forces and helicopters, Kennedy greatly expanded the entire American advisory effort. Advisers were placed at the sector (provincial) level and were permanently assigned to infantry battalions and certain lower echelon combat units;

          http://www.history.army.mil/books/AMH/AMH-28.htm

          In case you are not aware Willy, combat takes place from the battalion level on down to Troop and Platoon level. Infantry is a combat arm. To advise combat troops you need to go with them.

          If you recall it was U.S policy not to bomb Cambodia but we bombed hell out of them. Perhaps the same thing happened with U.S. policy and the advisers.

          WW. Military deescalation is NOT disengagement, not when diplomatic efforts are put in place to take over as the main strategy.

          BC. What diplomatic efforts? I didn’t see any in NSAM 263, did you? No talk of diplomacy in the NSC meeting to draft NSAM 263 (see Miller Center Tapes). All I saw were plans to win the war.

          This was obviously Kennedy’s strategic goal. He said it so many times in so many ways it can be called a mantra. Kennedy’s plan to withdraw militarily from Southeast Asia is crystal clear.

          I agree. As soon as he won it he was going to withdraw the bulk of the men in SVN. The fact that he was leaving some American troops indicates his belief that the problem was solved. Unless you think he was going to leave a battalion of Marines fighting 20 communist divisions.

      • David Regan says:

        According to National Archives stats on casualties, there were 191 killed from 1961-63, with no breakdown for how many of these were ‘non-hostile’ cases. Given there were 16,300 U.S. military personnel in SVN by December 1963, we’re talking about a fatality rate of roughly 1% on Kennedy’s watch. Skip ahead five years and we have 536,000 personnel in SVN with 36,756 killed from 1964-68. (roughly 7% fatality rate) http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics.html#date

        • Bill Clarke says:

          David Regan August 30, 2015 at 2:41 pm

          You are comparing apples to oranges here David. It seems we seldom consider it but one must be familiar with the communist side of the war to understand what is happening.

          At the landmark 15th Plenum of the Lao Dong Party in January 1959, The communist made the decision to move to armed struggle in SVN. It took the communist until late 59 or even 60 to implement this order. So as the communist escalated JFK escalated to help SVN hold their ground. This led to a series of short firefights and quick ambushes and terrorist acts. To borrow from our president, this was the B Team game. In late 1963 the communist decided to send intact NVA units to SV. These boys were pros. It took them until the fall of 1964 to show up in force. With this and the instability caused by Diems death the NVA were soon knocking on the door of Saigon. LBJ sent in our combat Divisions to counter the NVA. Now we had the major battles which of course causes more fatalities. Our present president would call this the Pro Game.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            My apologies. I forgot to include references for the 15th Plenum and the decision to send intact NVA units south in my reply to David.

            Another senior moment.

            Nguyen, Lien-Hang T. (2012). Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam (The New Cold War History) (Kindle Locations 401-1001). University of North Carolina Press. Kindle Edition.

            Excerpts from Lien-Hang’s “Hanoi’s War” -… viet-studies.info/kinhte/LienHang_LeDuan.htmCached

            CHAPTER 28: The U.S. Army in Vietnam http://www.history.army.mil/books/AMH/AMH-28.htm

        • Bill Clarke says:

          David, thought you might be interested in this search I did some time ago. I went to the reference given and looked up each man. Our numbers don’t jive but with Vietnam that isn’t too surprising. I’ll try to check the number problem out tonight. Note the high number killed in hostile air crashes but seems all we speak of is ground combat troops.

          1/1/1960 to 1/1/1961. 5 deaths; 2 were non-hostile; the other 3 were air crash, non-hostile. No ground combat loss under Eisenhower.

          1/1/1961 to 1/1/1962. 10 deaths; 3 were non-hostile, 4 were air crash hostile, 3 were ground combat.

          1/1/1962 to 1/1/1963. 53 deaths; 24 were non-hostile, 23 were air loss (hostile) and 6 were ground combat. Most of the non-hostile was air crash, especially helicopters.

          1/1/1963 to 11/22/1963. 92 deaths; 30 were non-hostile, 43 were air loss (hostile) and 19 were ground combat. Many of the 19 lost in ground combat were the young Captains that served as “advisers” to the ARVN battalions. Call them what you wish, they were killed in combat on the ground. Seems to me it is hard not to consider them ground combat troops.

          http://www.thewall-usa.com/names.asp

          • David Regan says:

            Bill, thanks for the above stats. Based on these numbers, there were 28 ground fatalities for 1961-63. I would expect there would be more if 16,300 military personnel were there for the purpose of being actively engaged in combat.

            As David Anderson wrote in “The Military and Diplomatic Course of the Vietnam War,” after committing the first U.S. combat troops in March 1965, “[President] Johnson’s actions meant that the United States had crossed the line from advising the ARVN to actually fighting the war against the Vietcong…” http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/anderson.htm

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan September 2, 2015 at 9:50 pm

            Bill, thanks for the above stats. Based on these numbers, there were 28 ground fatalities for 1961-63. I would expect there would be more if 16,300 military personnel were there for the purpose of being actively engaged in combat.

            I hope I didn’t leave the impression that all 16,000 was engaged in combat and I fear now that I might have done that. But actually only a small number were on the ground going out with the ARVN combat units and this mostly occurred when the Adviser teams were placed down to the ARVN battalion level in 1962. The battalion and it’s maneuver companies are the basic combat unit. The higher up the chain of command you go the safer you are although there was always the danger of falling out of the sky or rocket attacks on their relatively safe headquarters. The Americans training Vietnamese mechanics and technicians to service all the air craft and other equipment we sent over required a large number and were relative safe. And there was other relatively safe jobs.

            ARVN at the time had around 270 battalions. The American adviser teams usually consisted of a LTC or Major and 3 or 4 young captains (it varied). So five men per battalion would be around 1,350 Americans that saw danger and combat on a regular basis. Or 270 four man teams would be 1,080 men. I was shocked at the large number of hostile air losses. I didn’t expect that.

            I’ve read numbers that say for every combat soldier in Vietnam there was 6 or 7 men in support in country. I believe (just guessing) these numbers to be a bit high but there was a huge logistical force in Vietnam so this might be true. Even if each combat troop had only 4 men in country in support that doesn’t leave but 125,000 in the bush. And sadly they were ill used.

            I would say the the statement by David Anderson is correct.

  8. Scott Fulmer says:

    Hilsman, of course, is one perspective and his own actions at the time must be considered as a context for how he describes the events later.

    Kennedy clearly had no intention of fighting the war, as it turned out. His actions can be most clearly understood from this perspective.

    In addition, the dynamic political situation that played out over the years of his administration must be viewed not only in terms of the documentable steps that he took, but the causal context and the strategy, which sometimes is not readily apparent. It should be recalled that the problem of Vietnam for the Western world could have been solved in Geneva during Eisenhower’s administration. Even the Dulles’ were on board with that for a time. The conflict with the military bureaucracy that reached a head in 63 began earlier when it became clear that there was no military equivalency to the US in the world. The USSR and China were not the Cold War threat, nor was the domino theory serious among the elite, just as the North Vietnamese were well aware on all counts. Vietnam represented a political and military challenge that had no precedent. These challenges were troublingly linked and created violent tension between the two schools of thinking in Washington. Kennedy was engaging with non-aligned countries and understood that this approach could be more powerful than coercion at that time. It was something new for everyone, and he had to be mindful, and consistent, in getting his advisers to figure this out.

    The Diem thing, and the troop level thing, cannot be taken at face value. The politics were dynamic, complicated, covert, and intense. But, again, the picture that continues to emerge and converge from historical analysis shows that Kennedy was getting out of Vietnam.

    • David Regan says:

      Well said, Scott. I highly encourage those interested to take the time to read the Pentagon Papers and History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff- The War in Vietnam: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/doctrine/history/jcsvietnam_pt1.pdf

      As authors of the Pentagon Papers documented, “In general, we seem to be seeing here a pattern that first began to emerge in the handling of the Task Force Report and which will be even more strikingly evident in the President’s handling of the Taylor Report. Someone or other is frequently promoting the idea of sending U.S. combat units. Kennedy never makes a clear-cut decision but some way or other action is always deferred on any move that would probably lead to engagements on the ground between American units and the Viet Cong.” (Pentagon Papers, Part IV-B-1)

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Scott Fulmer August 27, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      The Diem thing, and the troop level thing, cannot be taken at face value.”

      BC. Why not? They both certainly cannot be discarded. Especially the “Diem thing”.

      “But, again, the picture that continues to emerge and converge from historical analysis shows that Kennedy was getting out of Vietnam.”

      BC. Yes, no doubt he was as soon as he won the war and he thought he was winning the war. They defined winning as when ARVN could handle the situation.

      “Kennedy died believing, mistakenly, that the war was still going well.” American Tragedy”, David Kaiser, page 4.

      • “Kennedy died believing, mistakenly, that the war was still going well.” American Tragedy”, David Kaiser, page 4. ~Bill Clarke

        There is no valid reason to assert that Kennedy died believing the war was going well. All available history shows that Kennedy could see Vietnam was an unwinnable quagmire – which it was.
        \\][//

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Willy Whitten August 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

          “Kennedy died believing, mistakenly, that the war was still going well.” American Tragedy”, David Kaiser, page 4. ~Bill Clarke

          There is no valid reason to assert that Kennedy died believing the war was going well.

          BC. David Kaiser seems to disagree with you on this point. I hope you understand why I cast my lot with Kaiser here.

          All available history shows that Kennedy could see Vietnam was an unwinnable quagmire – which it was.

          Then why did he send 16,000 men, bombers, fighters, helicopter units and the 7th Fleet to Vietnam and overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem. If he knew it was an “unwinnable quagmire” why didn’t he at least keep a low profile or at best get the hell out of dodge?

          • “BC. David Kaiser seems to disagree with you on this point. I hope you understand why I cast my lot with Kaiser here.”~Bill Clarke

            Yes Bill I do understand Why you cast your lot with Kaiser and anyone else who agrees with you that Kennedy was not serious about pulling out of Southeast Asia militarily.

            It is because if Kennedy was pulling out militarily, the Military Industrial Complex had a motive to kill JFK in a coup d’etat. So the last thing you are willing to admit is that Kennedy was pulling out, and everything known historically proves this to be the case.

            It has been shown that from at least 1957, when Kennedy made that impassioned speech in the Senate against western imperialism, that he was against military conquest. No matter how you try to split hairs on the reality of US engagement in Vietnam, it was all geared towards military conquest and neocolonialism.

            I think you and the conformists in academia and the military, in fact the mainstream system as a whole; are playing disingenuous rhetorical games in an obviously biased manner, to create a stunted and devious mythology rather than a true account of history.
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm

            ww. Yes Bill I do understand Why you cast your lot with Kaiser and anyone else who agrees with you that Kennedy was not serious about pulling out of Southeast Asia militarily.

            bc. Oh I believe JFK was very serious about getting out of Vietnam. I just don’t buy the crap that he was getting out “come what may” that John Newman and others that agree with you come out with.

            ww. It is because if Kennedy was pulling out militarily, the Military Industrial Complex had a motive to kill JFK in a coup d’etat.

            bc. Wrong again Willy. I don’t care if the MIC had a motive to kill JFK. I don’t care if the other 248 people that killed JFK had a motive. What I care about is truthful historical facts and the chips should fall where they may.

            ww. So the last thing you are willing to admit is that Kennedy was pulling out, and everything known historically proves this to be the case.

            bc. Proves? Proves? Gee Willy, I don’t know what to say here. How about showing me some of this “everything known historically proves”. Honestly Willy, I wish to hell he had pulled out. Then I’d never have had to go there.

            ww. I think you and the conformists in academia and the military, in fact the mainstream system as a whole; are playing disingenuous rhetorical games in an obviously biased manner, to create a stunted and devious mythology rather than a true account of history.

            bc. I doubt you can see the humor in this but with slight adjustments the same could be said of you. I remind you, Willy, that I am not the one that made a false claim about what NSAM 263 had to say. You did. Worse, when this was pointed out to you, you failed to correct it. Is it acceptable for you to play disingenuous rhetorical games for the myth of Camelot? I don’t think so.

          • “I am not the one that made a false claim about what NSAM 263 had to say.”~Bill Clarke

            Oh yes indeed you are, those of us here who have dug into this controversy know you are the one who is making false claims. Kennedy was pulling 1000 troops by he end of 1963, and all of them by 1965 – yes, come hell or high water.
            \\][//

          • Jean Davison says:

            Willy,

            I think it’s ironic that you mentioned Orwell, because so far as I can find the idea that Kennedy was withdrawing all U.S. troops “come hell or high water” is history revised.

            Check out JFK’s last speeches, news conferences and interviews as well as official documents from late 1963, and show me where it’s stated that this was his intention. Please, prove me wrong with quotes from the record if you can.

            JFK speeches and news conferences:
            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/news_conferences.php?year=1963&Submit=DISPLAY

            ….including his last speech in Fort Worth 11/22/63:
            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9538&st=kennedy&st1=speech

            Cronkite interview 9/63:
            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9388

            NBC interview 9/63:
            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9397

            Documents from 11/63:
            http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d315

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 3, 2015 at 11:53 am

            I hear you Mr. Whitten but I don’t see any evidence. Not one shiver of evidence. Through this entire rather lengthy thread you have presented zero evidence. That would be because you have none. I hope I’m not supposed to simply take your word for it after your false and never corrected statement about NSAM 263.

            If you are going to defend your theory now is the time to do. Answering a few hard questions I’ve posted in “Bill Clarke, September 3,2015 at 6:01 pm” would be a good way to support your theory.

            Come up with some evidence or stand down Willy.

          • Jean, from your Walter Cronkite Interview
            “THE PRESIDENT. I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. **In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it.** We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Viet-Nam, against the Communists.”
            . . .
            The President’s News Conference
            November 14, 1963:
            THE PRESIDENT. Because we do have a new situation there, and a new government, we hope, an increased effort in the war. The purpose of the meeting at Honolulu–Ambassador Lodge will be there, General Harkins will be there, Secretary McNamara and others, and then, as you know, later Ambassador Lodge will come here–is to attempt to assess the situation: what American policy should be, and what our aid policy should be, how we can intensify the struggle, ***how we can bring Americans out of there.***

            ***Now, that is our object, to bring Americans home, permit the South Vietnamese to maintain themselves as a free and independent country***, and permit democratic forces within the country to operate–which they can, of course, much more freely when the assault from the inside, and which is manipulated from the north, is ended. So the purpose of the meeting in Honolulu is how to pursue these objectives.”

            Let’s repeat this part one more time for emphasis: “Now, that is our object, to bring Americans home..”
            Yes that was Kennedy’s main objective, and he states it over and again.
            And these are just the public statements made for ‘the news’. I statements to his closest advisers he was adamant and he was clear, he was going to “bring Americans home”, and the schedule before he was killed was 1000 by the end of that year (1963) – and the bulk of the rest by 1965.
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 3, 2015 at 11:53 am

            Oh yes indeed you are, those of us here who have dug into this controversy know you are the one who is making false claims. Kennedy was pulling 1000 troops by the end of 1963, and all of them by 1965 – yes, come hell or high water.

            I see our problem here Willy. There seems to be two NSAM 263s going around here. One NSAM 263 is the one the president approved and Bundy signed. It and the M/T Report are written in black and white and are readily available for your reading on the internet. http://www.jfklancer.com/NSAM263.html. For classification purposes we will call this NSAM 263 “The Real NSAM 263”. You and those of us here who have dug into this controversy cannot show one instance in which I have misquoted “The Real NSAM 263”. I on the other hand have to go no farther than your present message to show that you do make false statements about “The Real NSAM 263”. “The Real NSAM 263”does not say “all of them by 1965” and you are aware of this. It most certainly does not say “come hell or high water”.

            Then we have the NSAM 263 that “those of us here who have dug into this controversy” have composed. The president didn’t approve it and Bundy didn’t sign it. Neither did anyone else for that matter. While you can find it in written form here and there it isn’t supported by evidence such as the McNamara Taylor Report or the taped NSC meeting that formed “The Real NSAM 263”. For classification purposes we will call this NSAM 263 “The Phony NSAM 263”.

            And here you got me Willy. I have made claims that do not jive with what “The Phony NSAM 263” has to say. In my defense since “The Phony NSAM 263” can say anything you desire at the time I was overwhelmingly outnumbered and out maneuvered here!

          • Hogwash Bill, There is only one NSAM 263.
            You say: “You and those of us here who have dug into this controversy cannot show one instance in which I have misquoted “The Real NSAM 263”.
            I have never claimed you “misquoted” NSAM 263, I and others have faulted you from misinterpreting the document, as it has addendum’s referenced, which you claim say that which they do not:
            “Report (Section I B [1-3])*. That section of the McNamara-Taylor Report, to which NSAM 263 refers and therefore incorporates by reference, [particularly items 2 and 3] goes to the heart JFK’s policy to withdraw from Vietnam and is crucial to appreciating its significance. Note that there is nothing ambiguous in the wording: JFK was withdrawing from Vietnam by adopting a policy and implementing a strategy to transfer the US military’s mission in Vietnam to the Government of South Vietnam by the end of 1965.”
            http://www.jfklancer.com/NSAM263.html\\][//

          • Jean Davison says:

            Willy, the quotes you selected even out of context still don’t indicate that JFK planned to withdraw from Vietnam no matter what happened as a result. He told Cronkite:

            QUOTE:
            All we can do is help, and we are making it very clear, but I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake. I know people don’t like Americans to be engaged in this kind of an effort. Forty-seven Americans have been killed in combat with the enemy, but this is a very important struggle even though it is far away.

            We took all this–made this effort to defend Europe. Now Europe is quite secure. We also have to participate–we may not like it–in the defense of Asia.
            UNQUOTE

            And later, “It doesn’t do us any good to say, ‘Well, why don’t we all just go home and leave the world to those who are our enemies.'”

            I admired Kennedy and wish he had withdrawn from Vietnam, but history should be based on facts not on wishful thinking, right?

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 4, 2015 at 9:58 am

            I was expecting much more than a news interview for such a major foreign policy issue but I know you’ve done the best you can here. Thanks Willy.

            Let us take a look.. . .The President’s News Conference November 14, 1963:

            THE PRESIDENT. “Because we do have a new situation there, and a new government, we hope, an increased effort in the war.” Oh dear; that doesn’t sound like a bug out.

            The purpose of the meeting at Honolulu…:
            1. what American policy should be,
            2. and what our aid policy should be
            3. how we can intensify the struggle,
            4. ***how we can bring Americans out of there.***

            Our objectives; ***Now, that is our object,
            1. to bring Americans home,
            2. permit the South Vietnamese to maintain themselves as a free and independent country***,
            3. and permit democratic forces within the country to operate.

            “So the purpose of the meeting in Honolulu is how to pursue these objectives.” It says objectives (more than one) Willy. Not objective.

            ww. Let’s repeat this part one more time for emphasis: “Now, that is our object, to bring Americans home..” Yes that was Kennedy’s main objective, and he states it over and again.

            bc. Please note at no time did JFK indicate a “main objective” and please note he didn’t repeat it any more than he did the other objectives.

            Thank you for quoting NSAM 263 correctly this time. Keep up the good work Willy.

          • “And later, “It doesn’t do us any good to say, ‘Well, why don’t we all just go home and leave the world to those who are our enemies.’” ~Jean quoting Kennedy

            I have never argued that Kennedy was “just going to go home” – I have consistently argued that Kennedy was going to withdraw militarily and remain engaged by diplomacy.
            It is in THAT CONTEXT that the quotes I offered were made.
            . . . . .
            “Please note at no time did JFK indicate a “main objective” and please note he didn’t repeat it any more than he did the other objectives.”~Bill Clarke

            That’s right Bill, and those objectives were first and foremost to let the Vietnamese fight their own war AND to get the US troops out.
            On those auspices, I and every other expert that has put the effort into analyzing the historical record agree that Kennedy was DETERMINED to withdraw militarily from Southeast Asia by 1965.

            If Kennedy had not been assassinated he would have been re-elected, this determination would have been fulfilled, and the military wouldn’t have gotten “their goddamned war.”
            \\][//

          • “I was expecting much more than a news interview for such a major foreign policy issue but I know you’ve done the best you can here.”~Bill Clarke

            If you were paying attention Bill, you would have realized that those were news interviews posted by Jean Davison.
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm

            Hogwash Bill, There is only one NSAM 263.

            Well by Jove Willy, that is what I thought also. But you can see reason for my confusion; one time you say all the troops and even come hell or high water and the next time you correctly use the bulk of our troops. Now obviously both can’t be true at the same time and I’m never sure of which one you will come out with next. Hence my confusion.

            Let us clear this, “those of us here who have dug into this controversy” statement. It smacks of undeserved elitism for starters. It implies that I haven’t dug into this controversy on the other hand. Both would be very incorrect.

            Willy Whitten September 3, 2015 at 11:53 am
            Oh yes indeed you are, those of us here who have dug into this controversy know you are the one who is making false claims. Kennedy was pulling 1000 troops by he end of 1963, and all of them by 1965 – yes, come hell or high water.
            \\][//

            Willy Whitten September 4, 2015 at 9:58 am
            I statements to his closest advisers he was adamant and he was clear, he was going to “bring Americans home”, and the schedule before he was killed was 1000 by the end of that year (1963) – and the bulk of the rest by 1965.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten
            September 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm

            You say: “You and those of us here who have dug into this controversy cannot show one instance in which I have misquoted “The Real NSAM 263”.

            I have never claimed you “misquoted” NSAM 263, I and others have faulted you from misinterpreting the document, as it has addendum’s referenced, which you claim say that which they do not:

            You and others can not show one instance of that happening either. Show me Willy. In fact I point out and you omit the qualifiers for these addendum’s you speak of.

            2. A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time.

            Please note Willy; It says “should be possible”. It most certainly does not say “We are going to do it come hell or high water”. It says “the bulk”, not the ALL version your crowd prefers. If you would ever listen to the NSC tapes you’d hear JFK say if 65 didn’t work out we’d get a new date.

            3. In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963. This action should be explained in low key as an initial step in a long-term program to replace U.S. personnel with trained Vietnamese without impairment of the war effort.

            Please note, “without impairment of the war effort. This was reduced to a paper exercise when JFK and McNamara agreed to do this by normal rotation.

            The fact that you see NSAM 263 as a withdrawal policy instead of a policy to win the conflict is telling. It is more in your heart than your mind I think.

          • Bill the fact that you see NSAM 263 as a policy to win the conflict instead of a withdrawal policy is telling.
            You are more confused than you are willing to admit.

            Perhaps this comment, by David Regan on September 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm, can help unscramble things for you.
            http://jfkfacts.org/assassination/on-this-date/roger-hilsman-on-jfks-vietnam-plans/#comment-799672
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 7, 2015 at 9:33 am

            I have consistently argued that Kennedy was going to withdraw militarily and remain engaged by diplomacy.

            bc. Yes, you certainly have. But you have also not presented any evidence to support this. Nothing is mentioned about diplomacy in NSAM 263. I’ve asked you before about evidence and you ignored my question. Now Willy, dodging the question is hardly the actions of an “expert”.

            On those auspices, I and every other expert that has put the effort into analyzing the historical record agree that Kennedy was DETERMINED to withdraw militarily from Southeast Asia by 1965.

            bc. I suspected you considered yourself an “expert” and with a salute towards the moderator I’ll be as kind as I can be here. Willy, judging from your past messages lack of evidence and your failure to answer questions to your views on this subject; you sir are no expert on the JFK withdrawal subject. And if you were an expert you certainly would NOT have the agreement of “every other expert”. That never happens.

            __________________________________
            bc. This from the NSC meeting to draft NSAM 263 (see Miller Center Tape) and I would think an expert on the subject would be familiar with this.

            Taylor: I will just say this, that we talked to 174 officers, Vietnamese and U.S., and in the case of the U.S. (officers) I always asked the question, “When can you finish this job in the sense that you will reduce this insurgency to little more than sporadic incidents.” Inevitably, except for the Delta, they would say
            “64 would be ample time.” I realize that’s not necessarily…..I assume there’s no major new factors entering [unclear], I realize that—-

            JFK: Well, let’s say it anyway. Then ’65 if it doesn’t work out {unclear] we’ll get a new date.
            _____________________________________

            bc. Does that sound like a man “DETERMINED” to be out by 1965?

            If Kennedy had not been assassinated he would have been re-elected, this determination would have been fulfilled, and the military wouldn’t have gotten “their goddamned war.”

            bc. One hundred percent pure speculation, not expertise.

          • J.D. says:

            “I admired Kennedy and wish he had withdrawn from Vietnam, but history should be based on facts not on wishful thinking, right?”

            President Kennedy did not realize that his administration was going to end on November 22, 1963. He assumed he would have, at least, a full four-year term to deal with the Vietnam situation. “Wishful thinking” is certainly unhelpful, but some degree of speculation is inevitable if you’re going to assess the policies of a man who didn’t live to complete them.

            While Kennedy’s public statements are certainly an important part of the record and should not be ignored, I think it would be a mistake to assume that they tell us the entire story. Few successful politicians are willing to lay all of their cards on the table. Franklin Roosevelt told the public right up until Pearl Harbor that he had no intention of sending U.S. forces to fight the Nazis, but most historians do not take these statements at face value. Kennedy was certainly anticommunist, but the fact that he defended the Vietnam involvement at news conferences does not automatically mean that he was committed to a full-scale Korea-style involvement in his second term.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten September 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

            Not very original here Willy but I know you do your best. And yes, it tells that instead of your narrow view of the document I take a broad base approach to it. You look only for a withdrawal plan to support your propaganda; I look for the historical fact. It tells that I’ve read paragraph 1 of the recommendations JFK approved, it seems you skipped it. It tells I’ve studied the NSC meeting that drafted NSAM 263; it seems you have not despite my recommendations that you do so. It tells that in paragraph 2 I don’t edit the memo to say “ALL the troops” and “come hell or high water”. I believe you have done that on this blog. So yes, it is very telling Willy.

            At least I am not so confused I make false statements about what NSAM 263 says. I believe you have been that confused here.

            No Willy, I need no help to understand NSAM 263. I’m not an expert like you claim to be but I have a fair knowledge of it and the background for it. If you notice David didn’t rebut my rebuttals to your reference. Perhaps you could? They are right below your reference here, “Bill Clarke September 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm”. Come on Willy; give me something here besides your opinion. Rebut my rebuttals to your reference.

            Perhaps this fellow can help you finally understand NSAM 263;

            Some researchers claim it was Kennedy’s plan to end the Vietnam war that served as a trigger to the assassination, and that NSAM 263, with its plan to withdraw 1,000 soldiers in 1963, and all troops by 1965 proves his commitment to a peaceful end to the conflict. However in reading the document it is difficult not to come to a different interpretation. NSAM 263 is not, as some claim, a simple roadmap for ending the war, it does talk of troop removal but under very specific circumstances, for example, McNamara and Taylor were “Convinced that the Vietcong insurgency could be sharply reduced in a year.” and that the US efforts should be “completed by the end of 1965” They called for an “Increase in military tempo of the war” and withdrawal of some troops in 63 and all by 65 if this could be achieved “without impairment of the war effort” and further that “The insurgency has been surpressed, or so weakened that the US client regime (GVN) is capable of surpressing it” And they stressed that the “The overidding objective is victory, a matter vital to US security” These were the recomendations that JFK approved.
            NSAM 263 – JFK Assassination Debate – The Education Forum educationforum.ipbhost.com ›

          • Bill Clarke says:

            J.D.
            September 9, 2015 at 12:17 am

            “I admired Kennedy and wish he had withdrawn from Vietnam, but history should be based on facts not on wishful thinking, right?”

            Me too and I agree J.D. I’ve become cynical in my old age and don’t put a lot of faith in public statements unless I know what was going on in the background.

            Much more advantageous to look at what the politician is doing or has done than to rely on what he says. I think most politicians, especially now, have become congenital liars.

            Someone recently posted a reference in which JFK, in early 1962, “warned” of deeper involvement in Vietnam. But if we look 1962 is the year JFK really escalated our efforts in SVN with the bombers, fighters, helicopter units and the MACV command.

            FDR was telling us that he wasn’t going to war when in fact he was doing all he could to prepare for the war he knew was coming. If he didn’t break some laws here he pushed the limit.

            Don’t get me wrong, I applaud what both men did but so much for what “they say”. The only thing more unbelievable is what some claim “the president told me”. These are real shaky in my opinion.

            No, I don’t think JFK was thinking of a Korea style war in Vietnam. I think he died thinking he was winning the war with the efforts we were making. But that is just my opinion.

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