25. Editorial Note

In response to a request by Secretary of Defense Wilson on January 5 for an assessment of the impact of the loss of South Vietnam, of continued but reduced assistance to South Vietnam, and of contingencies in between, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that the suggested possibilities were incomplete. The Joint Chiefs considered [Page 58] the following courses of action to be available to the United States in light of the current situation in South Vietnam: a) to continue aid as currently being developed with the cooperation of the French and Vietnamese; b) to institute a unilateral program of direct guidance to South Vietnam through an “advisory” system, under which “the amount of U.S. aid should be dependent upon Vietnamese adherence to U.S. direction”; c) if neither of the above proved sufficient to save South Vietnam, “to deploy self-sustaining U.S. forces to South Vietnam, either unilaterally or as a part of a Manila Pact force”; and d) to withdraw all support from Vietnam and concentrate on the rest of Southeast Asia. In their conclusion, the Joint Chiefs did not, in the absence of a necessary “firm decision at national level as to implementation of U.S. policy in Southeast Asia,” recommend any one of these options, but did express their opposition to what they termed “a ‘static’ defense for the area” and recommended adoption of a “concept of offensive action against the ‘military power of the aggressor.’” For text of the memorandum by Wilson of January 5 and the Joint Chiefs response of January 21, see United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967, Book 10, pages 860–863.