President Lyndon Johnson approved on Feb. 1 the continuation of Plan 34A, Operation Ranch Hand, Operation Sunrise started by Kennedy
Tuesday lunch group began Feb. 4 - LBJ, McNamara (DOD), Rusk (State), McGeorge Bundy (NSC) - William Bundy replaced Roger Hilsman, Lodge replaced by Maxwell Taylor as ambassador to VN, Gen. Earle Wheeler became chairman JCS, William Westmoreland replaced Harkins as MACV commander
NSAM-88 plan proposed March 16 to expand air war into NV "tit for tat" in retaliation for NV raids - William Bundy drafted resolution for Congress
Gulf of Tonkin incident (map) - USS Maddox fired at 3 NV patrol boats Aug. 2 - Maddox reported 22 torpedoes fired Aug. 4, almost hit USS Turner Joy - LBJ went on TV at 11:30 pm - Congress passed Bundy resolution Aug. 5 giving the President the authority to take "all necessary measures" to repel attack and prevent further aggression - by vote of 466-0 in House, 88-2 in Senate (except Ernest Gruening of Alaska, Wayne Morse of Oregon) - but Congress not told about Plan 34A - LBJ did not seek declaration of war or total mobilization for victory - instead, waged a limited war "in cold blood"
Bien Hoa night mortar attack Nov. 1 - 4 U.S. killed and 13 B57 bombers damaged by 81mm mortars - U.S. bases vulnerable, needed more soldiers for defense
LBJ defeated Barry Goldwater Nov. 3 with 61% popular vote, 486 electoral vote - 89th Congress dominated by liberal Democrats - bipartisan conservative power broken for the first time since 1938
Brinks Hotel car bomb Dec. 25 killed 2, wounded 58
LBJ's Johns Hopkins speech rejected NV demand to stop bombing and withdraw, rejected political settlement with NLF - "We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw."
bombing pause in May for 5 days
Westmoreland June 7 demand for 41000 more troops - LBJ made key decision to continue escalation - to use "firepower" and "attrition" to wear down the enemy, but not fullscale attack on NV - no approval of John McNaughton plan to destroy NV dams and irrigation system to flood rice fields and starve civilian population as Nazis did against Dutch in WWII - no approval of Wetmoreland plan to invade north of the 17th line - no approval of Krulak plan for Combined Action Platoons to fight small unit actions in SV rather than big unit actions favored by Westmoreland.
4 corps areas established (map) = I Corps in North based at Danang, II Corps in Central at Cam Ran Bay, III Corps at Saigon and Bien Hoa, IV Corps in South and Mekong Delta; Navy "Yankee" station above 17th line, "Dixie" station below 17th.
LBJ speech June 12 did not explain escalation of troops or cost of war ($3b per month) - created "credibility gap" - Time cover
Operation Starlight Aug. 18 - Battle of Chu Lai on central coast in northern Quang Ngai - 3rd and 4th Marine Divisions - extensive tunnel system
Can Ne village in I Corps burned in Aug. by marines using Zippo lighters - filmed by Morley Safer of CBS
Battle of Ia Drang Nov. 14-18 in dense jungle on Plateau Kontum southwest of Pleiku - 1st AirCav Division fought against the 1st PANV Division under Gen. Chu Huy Man - 1st major battle of U.S. regulars vs. NV regulars, both using modern weapons - M16, M79, CH47 Chinook heavy cargo helicopter, close support from B52s - but U.S. lost 234 dead - McNamara was shaken by the cost of the victory - NV to follow strategy of "clinging to the belt" that accepted high casualties while keeping the enemy engaged
Soviet aid increased - 200 SAM missle sites, 7000 AA batteries
U.S. aid increased - 2500 mi. paved roads, 6 deep-water ports, ice cream from Foremost Diary
Christmas bombing pause at urging of McNamara over opp. of Rusk- until Jan. 31, 1966 - U.S. troop buildup continued during the pause - 184,300 by Dec. 31 (1369 dead)
Jason study by John McNaughton and Adam Yarmolinsky concluded that air strikes had been ineffective
"McNamara's Wall" of electronic sensors and land mines proposed to stop infiltration
Operation Masher in Jan. on central coast - destruction of 15 villages - refugees would grow to 500,000 by Dec., 4m by 1969 (25% total population of SV)
Walt Rostow replaced McGeorge Bundy at NSC - Rostow urged "surgical" bombing of POL sites (petroleum, oil, lubricants) - 1st use of "smart" bombs - by the end of June, 70 % NV oil storage destroyed - number of air sorties increased from 25,000 in 1965 to 79,000 in 1966 to 108,000 in 1967
Fulbright hearings on TV in Feb. - when CBS ran I Love Lucy instead of George Kennan's citicism of LBJ's policy, Fred Friendly resigned from CBS and joined McGeorge Bundy at the Ford Foundation
Op. Attleboro in Iron Triangle 20 mi. northwest of Saigon in Sept.
380,000 U.S. troops in VN by Dec. 31 (5008 dead); 2m homeless civilians in SV
Op. Cedar Falls in Iron Triangle - civilians cleared out and massive bombing destroyed NV tunnel complex - but entire village of Ben Suc destroyed
Arc Light bombing raids by 6 B-52s at 30,000 ft. destroyed 1.5 sq. mi. area
beginning of a national re-valuation of war policies - Sen. Robert Kennedy
McNamara ordered study known as the Pentagon Papers - 47 vols by 30 analysts including Daniel Ellsberg
Guam meeting Mar. 20 - LBJ rejected request for more troops
Battle of Con Thien - 200 U.S. dead and 2000 wounded - critical article in Time magazine
McNamara resigned to join World Bank, replaced by Clark Clifford as Secretary of Defense
John McNaughton resigned from State Dept. to become Secretary of Navy
Ellsworth Bunker supported re-election of Thieu and Ky, even though got only 34.8 % of SV vote
CORDS agency created in May under Robert Komer for pacification programs - Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support - replaced by Wm Colby in 1968 who started Phoenix program - "neutralization" and removal of communist agents in SV villages - 19,534 removed and 6187 killed - also started Accelerated Pacification Program to rebuild infrastructure and villages
LBJ met with the "wise men" Nov. 1 - all supported continuation of the war, except George Ball.
Khe Sanh reinforced to oppose large NV offensive
427,000 U.S. troops in VN by Dec. 31 (9378 dead); 3m homeless civilians in SV
Tet offensive began Jan. 30 in Saigon and 26 province capitals
Eugene McCarthy won 42% in New Hampshire primary Mar. 12 to LBJ's 49.9%
LBJ refused Westmoreland request for 200,000 more troops
LBJ withdrew from presidential campaign Mar. 31
LBJ stops bombing of NV Apr. 1
Paris peace talks begin May 13 - W. Averell Harriman, Xuan Thuy for NV, Nguyen Thi Binh for NLF
Martin Luther King killed Apr. 4; Robert Kennedy killed June 5
In the Nov. elections, Nixon won 43.4% and 301 electoral votes to Humphrey's 42.7% and 191 votes and George Wallace's 13.5% and 46 votes
528,000 U.S. troops in VN by Dec. 31 (13,615 dead); 4m homeless civilians in SV