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U.S. Withdrawal from South Vietnam Pushed from 1965 to ‘66

Feb. 24, 1964 - U.S. military authorities in Saigon have abandoned their program for withdrawing American forces from Vietnam by the end of 1965. Instead, military planners have been ordered to aim for the end of 1966 as the time when South Vietnamese troops can take over full responsibility for crushing the Communist Viet Cong.

The retreat from the 1965 goal, which was set after Defense Secretary Robert McNamara visited Vietnam last fall, follows the visit to Saigon last week of Admiral Harry Felt, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. An even later date than the end of 1966 for South Vietnamese self-sufficiency was not ruled out, military sources said.

President Johnson has asked Secretary McNamara to fly to South Vietnam within 10 days to get a first-hand report on the new regime’s war plans against the Viet Cong. Mr. McNamara last visited Saigon in December. An Administration source said that while the U.S. will continue to honor its commitment to support South Vietnam’s freedom, it does not plan at present any buildup of personnel or an expanded war effort by the U.S. alone.

Meanwhile, two U.S Army advisers suffered minor wounds today in operations against the Viet Cong guerrillas. One was struck by mine fragments and the other was cut by a hidden bamboo stake.


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