top of page

McNamara Pushes Increased U.S. Support in Vietnam

May 14, 1964 - Defense Secretary Robert McNamara laid before President Johnson today a new plan for increased military and economic support for South Vietnam.

Accelerated Communist activity will require expanded U.S. support, particularly to increase the size of the South Vietnamese Air Force, McNamara said at a Washington news conference after reporting to the President. This may require modest increases in the number of U.S training personnel in South Vietnam, he added.

The Defense Secretary repeated earlier predictions of ultimate victory against the Communist Viet Cong.

“But I want to emphasize it is not going to come soon,” he said. “This is not that kind of war. This is a war for the confidence of the people and the security of those people, and that kind of war is a long, hard war.”

McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported to Johnson and his aides for 1½ hours shortly after returning from their Saigon mission. It was McNamara’s fifth trip to Vietnam.

McNamara said the Communists in Vietnam had increased their terrorist activities in recent weeks. With the rate of kidnappings, murders, and ambushes increasing “very substantially” in recent weeks, McNamara said, it is “absolutely essential” for the Government of South Vietnam to increase its counterattacking activity.

According to the latest official estimates, 128 Americans have been killed by hostile action in South Vietnam since Jan. 1, 1961. In addition, 87 casualties have been suffered in actions not attributed to the enemy. The number of wounded is officially estimated at 854, and nine persons are missing. In funds, the American effort in South Vietnam is costing $500 million a year.

Support this project at


bottom of page