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President Johnson Likely to Withdraw Military Aid from South Vietnam in 1965

Dec. 17, 1963 - President Johnson probably will hold to the 1965 withdrawal of military aid to South Vietnam announced by the late President Kennedy, regardless of the progress of the war against the Communist rebels, American sources in Saigon said today. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, who attended the NATO Ministerial Council which ended in Paris Tuesday, are scheduled to make another visit to Saigon. They visited last September, just before the overthrow of the Diem government, and it was their report to Mr. Kennedy which recommended the cutoff of military aid by the end of 1965. The U.S. decision was credited with encouraging the Nov. 1 coup against Diem. Although there was some thought that the deadline might be extended for the new military government headed by General Duong Van Minh, U.S. sources indicated the 1965 date will stand. The U.S. already is withdrawing 1,000 of the 16,000 of its troops stationed in South Vietnam and will continue the pullout barring unforeseen circumstances. “The aid program is one of advice and training, together with logistic support,” a source said. “It has been going on since December of 1961, and both the American people and the Vietnamese people should expect that a training program could be completed in four years.” Only about 10% of the U.S. forces in Vietnam are in combat roles, actually working with Vietnamese troops at the front, the source said. “There is no reason why the Vietnamese can’t fly L-19s [observation planes] and helicopters,” he added. Even if the Communists appear to be winning the war, the U.S, is not expected to change its approach. The official line is that the struggle can be won only in the “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people.


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