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USMC Photo A 184542

Marines from BLT 3/4 on board a Marine helicopter en route to Phu Bai from Da Nang. These troops just arrived in Vietnam.

commander's estimate of the situation to think through in a logical and precise manner, strategy, objectives, enemy capabilities, and our own courses of action before making what may prove to be in the light of history, a momentous recommendation.14

By 26 March, Westmoreland had completed his estimate and was prepared to provide the Washington authorities with a resume of recommendations already forwarded to Admiral Sharp and the Joint Chiefs.15 He saw the military objectives of his command in relatively simple terms. The American goal was to cause the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to cease its support of the VC, thus enabling an anti-Communist South Vietnam to survive. To carry out this policy, the American general provided three alternatives.

Under the first, the United States Government would give more aid to the buildup of the Vietnamese Armed Forces, continue and expand air strikes against North Vietnam, and use the resources of the Seventh Fleet to interdict infiltration by sea. General Westmoreland frankly did not believe this was enough. It would not stabilize the Government of South Vietnam and would offer no assurance for the survival of the country.

The second proposal was the deployment of five divisions, including three American, across Vietnam and the Laotian panhandle near the 17th Parallel. This would be coordinated with stepped-up air attacks against the north, while at the same time strengthening the South Vietnamese Armed Forces. Other American and Free World troops would be sent to South Vietnam to deal with the Viet Cong


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