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LBJ Pledges Support to Vietnam

Jan. 1, 1964 - President Johnson bolstered the internal position of South Vietnam’s ruling military junta today with a renewed pledge of support for helping the Government achieve victory over the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas. “The United States will continue to furnish you and your people with the fullest measure of support in this bitter fight,” Mr. Johnson wrote to Maj. Gen. Duong Van Minh, chairman of the country’s Military Revolutionary Council. “We shall maintain in Vietnam American personnel and material as needed to assist you in achieving victory.” By implication, the message erased the previous date for withdrawing the bulk of U.S. forces from Vietnam by the end of 1965. Because of the critical turn of the war in recent months, U.S. officials no longer consider such a date as realistic. The date was set in a White House statement Oct. 3. But in a recent visit, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara told the junta leaders that the U.S. was prepared to help in Vietnam’s crucial struggle as long as aid was needed and wanted. However, Mr. Johnson’s message, made public by the Government-controlled Vietnam press, was the first public statement to imply that the 1965 date was being discarded. There are about 15,500 U.S. “advisers” in South Vietnam. Although some U.S. officials feel that certain support and headquarters elements should be reduced, most are convinced that field advisers, who actually march and fight along with Vietnamese troops, will be needed for months and possibly years.


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