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Michael Swanson

Pentagon History Textbook On JFK and Vietnam, Transfer of Power

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Ever wonder what people at the top of the defense establishment are taught about JFK and Vietnam?

This book is published by the National Defense University. It appears to be a textbook used at this National Defense University college based in DC and most likely at West Point, Naval Academy etc, but commission by the Pentagon historical department...... It is an overview history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1942-1991. I would bet members of congress involved in defense matters would read this too.... There are things in this book that are not in normal academic scholarship and it is using sources not available to the public in some instances. That does not mean it is wrong and academics are right - it means that it is based on materials that go beyond the professor in the university. it is not written for the general public. You read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the pentagon and armed forces. There are things in this book not in regular history books:

http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/books/council-of-war/council-of-war.pdf

This is what the book has to say about Vietnam and Kennedy, it is pretty chilling:

page. 281:

knowing the Presidents aversion to...
281

the use of combat troops, the Joint Chiefs, CINCPAC, and the CIA came up with
a plan (later designated OPLAN 34A) to bring the war home to North Vietnam
through a campaign of sabotage and covert operations.

However, it was too late for any improvement in the course of the war to save Diem’s crumbling regime,
which fell victim in early November 1963 to a bloody coup d’état fomented, with
American encouragement, by disgruntled South Vietnamese generals. Weapons, tac
tics, and equipment meant to fight the Viet Cong were used instead to settle old
scores and to prop up the new military junta.

Shortly before his death, President Kennedy said publicly that he was confident
most U.S. advisors could leave Vietnam in the foreseeable future and turn the war
over to the ARVN. But he had no fall-back strategy in case he found withdrawal
ill advised and remained averse to putting pressure on North Vietnam, other than
through limited, indirect means, to cease and desist its support of the Viet Cong.
Though the Joint Chiefs grudgingly accommodated themselves to the President’s
wishes, they had yet to be convinced that a policy of restraint would succeed. What
they saw evolving was an ominous repetition of the stalemate in Korea—a remote
war, offering no sign of early resolution, consuming precious resources, and diverting
attention from larger threats. Hence their support for a more aggressive, immediate
strategy to confront the enemy directly with strong, decisive force. Militarily,
the chiefs’ solution had much to recommend it. The United States still possessed
overwhelming strategic nuclear superiority and could have used that power as an
umbrella for large-scale conventional operations against North Vietnam. But it was a
strategy fraught with enormous political risks that Kennedy was unwilling or unpre
pared to take. It would be up to his successor to try to find a more durable solution.

.......

I am publishing a book about the Cold War from 1945-1963, the second half of the book deals with JFK and his dealings with the JCS with new information on the Bay of Pigs not written before - based on recently declassified Pentagon histories, JFK tapes - some that I have listened to that have not been transcribed yet(you can listen yourself, everything in the book is sourced), and other material that has been released on the internet and not in books. Book will reveal knew details - some shocking - about the Cuban Missile Crisis and nuclear defense strategy not published before.

Book is in final edit and will be released in September. For details drop me a message or email. I have done a lot of work on it and am taking a bit of a vacation, I plan on becoming more active in the JFK community contributing articles etc.

Edited by Michael Swanson

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Ever wonder what people at the top of the defense establishment are taught about JFK and Vietnam?

This book is published by the National Defense University. It appears to be a textbook used at this National Defense University college based in DC and most likely at West Point, Naval Academy etc, but commission by the Pentagon historical department...... It is an overview history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1942-1991. I would bet members of congress involved in defense matters would read this too.... There are things in this book that are not in normal academic scholarship and it is using sources not available to the public in some instances. That does not mean it is wrong and academics are right - it means that it is based on materials that go beyond the professor in the university. it is not written for the general public. You read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the pentagon and armed forces. There are things in this book not in regular history books:

http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/books/council-of-war/council-of-war.pdf

This is what the book has to say about Vietnam and Kennedy, it is pretty chilling:

page. 281:

knowing the Presidents aversion to...

281

the use of combat troops, the Joint Chiefs, CINCPAC, and the CIA came up with

a plan (later designated OPLAN 34A) to bring the war home to North Vietnam

through a campaign of sabotage and covert operations.

However, it was too late for any improvement in the course of the war to save Diem’s crumbling regime,

which fell victim in early November 1963 to a bloody coup d’état fomented, with

American encouragement, by disgruntled South Vietnamese generals. Weapons, tac

tics, and equipment meant to fight the Viet Cong were used instead to settle old

scores and to prop up the new military junta.

Shortly before his death, President Kennedy said publicly that he was confident

most U.S. advisors could leave Vietnam in the foreseeable future and turn the war

over to the ARVN. But he had no fall-back strategy in case he found withdrawal

ill advised and remained averse to putting pressure on North Vietnam, other than

through limited, indirect means, to cease and desist its support of the Viet Cong.

Though the Joint Chiefs grudgingly accommodated themselves to the President’s

wishes, they had yet to be convinced that a policy of restraint would succeed. What

they saw evolving was an ominous repetition of the stalemate in Korea—a remote

war, offering no sign of early resolution, consuming precious resources, and diverting

attention from larger threats. Hence their support for a more aggressive, immediate

strategy to confront the enemy directly with strong, decisive force. Militarily,

the chiefs’ solution had much to recommend it. The United States still possessed

overwhelming strategic nuclear superiority and could have used that power as an

umbrella for large-scale conventional operations against North Vietnam. But it was a

strategy fraught with enormous political risks that Kennedy was unwilling or unpre

pared to take. It would be up to his successor to try to find a more durable solution.

.......

I am publishing a book about the Cold War from 1945-1963, the second half of the book deals with JFK and his dealings with the JCS with new information on the Bay of Pigs not written before - based on recently declassified Pentagon histories, JFK tapes - some that I have listened to that have not been transcribed yet(you can listen yourself, everything in the book is sourced), and other material that has been released on the internet and not in books. Book will reveal knew details - some shocking - about the Cuban Missile Crisis and nuclear defense strategy not published before.

Book is in final edit and will be released in September. For details drop me a message or email. I have done a lot of work on it and am taking a bit of a vacation, I plan on becoming more active in the JFK community contributing articles etc.

Thanks, Michael.

What's the book's take on the Bay of Pigs? Were the chief's right there, too? Or does the book acknowledge that the hawkishness of the chiefs may very well have led to the end of civilization?

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Thanks, Michael.

What's the book's take on the Bay of Pigs? Were the chief's right there, too? Or does the book acknowledge that the hawkishness of the chiefs may very well have led to the end of civilization?

They did not immediately lay a lot of blame for him for the BOP apparently... However, it contributed to bad relations between the two... page: 216 of this book states:

"Despite the study group’s findings, Kennedy never publicly blamed anyone other
than himself for the debacle. Seeking to avoid similar incidents, he told the chiefs that
in the future he expected them to provide “direct and unfiltered” advice and to act
like “more than military men.”
20
All the same, it was Taylor’s impression that the whole
experience “hung like a cloud” over Kennedy’s relations with the JCS. Attempting to
clear the air, Kennedy met with them in the Pentagon on May 27, 1961. Though no
detailed records of the meeting survived, Kennedy at one point apparently lectured
the chiefs on their responsibility for providing him with unalloyed advice, drawing on
a paper Taylor wrote earlier. But the response he got was “icy silence.”
21
Henceforth,

Kennedy remained respectful but skeptical of JCS advice."

I do not believe the JCS was angry at Kennedy immediately after the BOP, seeing it as mainly a CIA fiasco, but they saw the Laos settlement as a defeat and then in the aftermath of that interpreted the BOP more negatively.

I have evidence, everything in my book that is quoted is sourced, that will be in my book that shows that at the start of the Berlin Crisis the JCS blamed Kennedy for it even happening, claiming that due to the BOP and Laos the US even though it was more powerful than the Soviets had lost its "credibility" believing that now the Soviets doubted the US would be able to use this force against them. They had Lemntizer go to McNamara and read him a memo stating this.

SAC was targeting Soviet nuclear missiles for destruction. In the Fall of 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy made a pass at changing this and cutting missile production. I think Douglas has some details on this. The next year McNamara changed targeting to cities and ended any possibility of carrying out what was termed a "coercive" nuclear strike.

When I say JCS in this reply I mean as a body - I have the impression that not all individual members of the JCS held extreme views during the entire JFK presidency, but I think it was dominated by those that did. The Marine Corps head David Shoup disagreed, but went along with them, then after LBJ got in he retired he began to organize an opposition against the Vietnam war, rumors spread that he was crazy and he had an FBI file opened on him. Interestingly, below him was Victor Krulak, and Fletcher Proutry served below him.

I spent the about six months researching the Cuban missile crisis, the tapes etc... but am still doing more research with an aim to eventually do a follow up book to the one I have finished about the Vietnam War and even more new material. I started with the aim of focusing on McNamara and Bundy and why they recommended escalation to LBJ after McNamara worked on the withdrawal plan, but am now also focusing on the JCS and am shocked by it.

There is lots of interesting info not out yet to the public, tapes not transcriped, but can be listened to:

This is a tape that has not been published nor a transcription made available to the public yet of JFK's meeting over the Taylor/McNamara report, in which McNamara and Kennedy make a policy of getting out withdrawing advisers from Vietnam by 1965, this tape is absolute proof of JFK had a withdrawal plan...also proof are the memo packets of the Honolulu conference handed out to attendees with info on the planned withdrawals - this is at the Mary Ferrell site... the tape:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49d.aspx

Here is another interesting tape, not published in a book or transcriped yet on October 1, 1963 over wheat sales to the Soviet Union. LBJ expresses his displeasure and issues something like a warning about the "potentially dangerous" situation Kenendy is putthing himself in with these decisions, which puts a chill in the meeting, at beginning of recording...

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49a.aspx

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Michael,

Thanks for posting the link to the book, and the audio links. The cover photo remonds me of Charlie Chaplin dancing around with the balloon globe in The Great Dictator. Anyway, I'm the guy who got, scanned, and sent to the MFF the Honolulu conference documents.

Joe

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"I started with the aim of focusing on McNamara and Bundy and why they recommended escalation to LBJ after McNamara worked on the withdrawal plan, but am now also focusing on the JCS and am shocked by it."

the answer is easy: mcnamara was now serving a new leader and as a bureaucrat only the master's wishes mattered, his own were of no consequence in carrying out policy or orders

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"


SAC was targeting Soviet nuclear missiles for destruction. In the Fall of 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy made a pass at changing this and cutting missile production. I think Douglas has some details on this. The next year McNamara changed targeting to cities and ended any possibility of carrying out what was termed a "coercive" nuclear strike.

When I say JCS in this reply I mean as a body - I have the impression that not all individual members of the JCS held extreme views during the entire JFK presidency, but I think it was dominated by those that did"

Here you mention SAC and then JCS and the likely possibility that there were some differences within the JCS. You have probably encountered, as I have, some descriptions of SAC autonomy as far as first strike capability, even independently of JCS. Have you and have tried to find out what the real relationship (as opposed to paper relationship ) between JCS and SAC was. One source on SAC autonomy was, if I recall Richard Rhodes book Dark Sun. Also James Carrolls book House of War. Others too I will try to track them down. Of course this is not an easy question, because neither of these organizations sends out e-mails to middle aged social studies teachers.

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Thanks, Michael.

What's the book's take on the Bay of Pigs? Were the chief's right there, too? Or does the book acknowledge that the hawkishness of the chiefs may very well have led to the end of civilization?

They did not immediately lay a lot of blame for him for the BOP apparently... However, it contributed to bad relations between the two... page: 216 of this book states:

"Despite the study group’s findings, Kennedy never publicly blamed anyone other
than himself for the debacle. Seeking to avoid similar incidents, he told the chiefs that
in the future he expected them to provide “direct and unfiltered” advice and to act
like “more than military men.”
20
All the same, it was Taylor’s impression that the whole
experience “hung like a cloud” over Kennedy’s relations with the JCS. Attempting to
clear the air, Kennedy met with them in the Pentagon on May 27, 1961. Though no
detailed records of the meeting survived, Kennedy at one point apparently lectured
the chiefs on their responsibility for providing him with unalloyed advice, drawing on
a paper Taylor wrote earlier. But the response he got was “icy silence.”
21
Henceforth,

Kennedy remained respectful but skeptical of JCS advice."

I do not believe the JCS was angry at Kennedy immediately after the BOP, seeing it as mainly a CIA fiasco, but they saw the Laos settlement as a defeat and then in the aftermath of that interpreted the BOP more negatively.

I have evidence, everything in my book that is quoted is sourced, that will be in my book that shows that at the start of the Berlin Crisis the JCS blamed Kennedy for it even happening, claiming that due to the BOP and Laos the US even though it was more powerful than the Soviets had lost its "credibility" believing that now the Soviets doubted the US would be able to use this force against them. They had Lemntizer go to McNamara and read him a memo stating this.

SAC was targeting Soviet nuclear missiles for destruction. In the Fall of 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy made a pass at changing this and cutting missile production. I think Douglas has some details on this. The next year McNamara changed targeting to cities and ended any possibility of carrying out what was termed a "coercive" nuclear strike.

When I say JCS in this reply I mean as a body - I have the impression that not all individual members of the JCS held extreme views during the entire JFK presidency, but I think it was dominated by those that did. The Marine Corps head David Shoup disagreed, but went along with them, then after LBJ got in he retired he began to organize an opposition against the Vietnam war, rumors spread that he was crazy and he had an FBI file opened on him. Interestingly, below him was Victor Krulak, and Fletcher Proutry served below him.

I spent the about six months researching the Cuban missile crisis, the tapes etc... but am still doing more research with an aim to eventually do a follow up book to the one I have finished about the Vietnam War and even more new material. I started with the aim of focusing on McNamara and Bundy and why they recommended escalation to LBJ after McNamara worked on the withdrawal plan, but am now also focusing on the JCS and am shocked by it.

There is lots of interesting info not out yet to the public, tapes not transcriped, but can be listened to:

This is a tape that has not been published nor a transcription made available to the public yet of JFK's meeting over the Taylor/McNamara report, in which McNamara and Kennedy make a policy of getting out withdrawing advisers from Vietnam by 1965, this tape is absolute proof of JFK had a withdrawal plan...also proof are the memo packets of the Honolulu conference handed out to attendees with info on the planned withdrawals - this is at the Mary Ferrell site... the tape:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49d.aspx

Here is another interesting tape, not published in a book or transcriped yet on October 1, 1963 over wheat sales to the Soviet Union. LBJ expresses his displeasure and issues something like a warning about the "potentially dangerous" situation Kenendy is putthing himself in with these decisions, which puts a chill in the meeting, at beginning of recording...

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49a.aspx

Thanks for the response, Michael. I was also curious whether the history acknowledged that the JCS wanted U.S. troops to attack Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which, in hindsight, would almost certainly have ended up in disaster. Most historians now acknowledge JFK was wiser than his generals during the crisis. What say the military's historians?

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Thanks, Michael.

What's the book's take on the Bay of Pigs? Were the chief's right there, too? Or does the book acknowledge that the hawkishness of the chiefs may very well have led to the end of civilization?

They did not immediately lay a lot of blame for him for the BOP apparently... However, it contributed to bad relations between the two... page: 216 of this book states:

"Despite the study group’s findings, Kennedy never publicly blamed anyone other
than himself for the debacle. Seeking to avoid similar incidents, he told the chiefs that
in the future he expected them to provide “direct and unfiltered” advice and to act
like “more than military men.”
20
All the same, it was Taylor’s impression that the whole
experience “hung like a cloud” over Kennedy’s relations with the JCS. Attempting to
clear the air, Kennedy met with them in the Pentagon on May 27, 1961. Though no
detailed records of the meeting survived, Kennedy at one point apparently lectured
the chiefs on their responsibility for providing him with unalloyed advice, drawing on
a paper Taylor wrote earlier. But the response he got was “icy silence.”
21
Henceforth,

Kennedy remained respectful but skeptical of JCS advice."

I do not believe the JCS was angry at Kennedy immediately after the BOP, seeing it as mainly a CIA fiasco, but they saw the Laos settlement as a defeat and then in the aftermath of that interpreted the BOP more negatively.

I have evidence, everything in my book that is quoted is sourced, that will be in my book that shows that at the start of the Berlin Crisis the JCS blamed Kennedy for it even happening, claiming that due to the BOP and Laos the US even though it was more powerful than the Soviets had lost its "credibility" believing that now the Soviets doubted the US would be able to use this force against them. They had Lemntizer go to McNamara and read him a memo stating this.

SAC was targeting Soviet nuclear missiles for destruction. In the Fall of 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy made a pass at changing this and cutting missile production. I think Douglas has some details on this. The next year McNamara changed targeting to cities and ended any possibility of carrying out what was termed a "coercive" nuclear strike.

When I say JCS in this reply I mean as a body - I have the impression that not all individual members of the JCS held extreme views during the entire JFK presidency, but I think it was dominated by those that did. The Marine Corps head David Shoup disagreed, but went along with them, then after LBJ got in he retired he began to organize an opposition against the Vietnam war, rumors spread that he was crazy and he had an FBI file opened on him. Interestingly, below him was Victor Krulak, and Fletcher Proutry served below him.

I spent the about six months researching the Cuban missile crisis, the tapes etc... but am still doing more research with an aim to eventually do a follow up book to the one I have finished about the Vietnam War and even more new material. I started with the aim of focusing on McNamara and Bundy and why they recommended escalation to LBJ after McNamara worked on the withdrawal plan, but am now also focusing on the JCS and am shocked by it.

There is lots of interesting info not out yet to the public, tapes not transcriped, but can be listened to:

This is a tape that has not been published nor a transcription made available to the public yet of JFK's meeting over the Taylor/McNamara report, in which McNamara and Kennedy make a policy of getting out withdrawing advisers from Vietnam by 1965, this tape is absolute proof of JFK had a withdrawal plan...also proof are the memo packets of the Honolulu conference handed out to attendees with info on the planned withdrawals - this is at the Mary Ferrell site... the tape:

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49d.aspx

Here is another interesting tape, not published in a book or transcriped yet on October 1, 1963 over wheat sales to the Soviet Union. LBJ expresses his displeasure and issues something like a warning about the "potentially dangerous" situation Kenendy is putthing himself in with these decisions, which puts a chill in the meeting, at beginning of recording...

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-MTG-114-A49a.aspx

Thanks for the response, Michael. I was also curious whether the history acknowledged that the JCS wanted U.S. troops to attack Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which, in hindsight, would almost certainly have ended up in disaster. Most historians now acknowledge JFK was wiser than his generals during the crisis. What say the military's historians?

This textbook acknolwedges that they wanted to attack and invade Cuba, but doesn't mention the full consequences that would have came as a result.

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"

SAC was targeting Soviet nuclear missiles for destruction. In the Fall of 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy made a pass at changing this and cutting missile production. I think Douglas has some details on this. The next year McNamara changed targeting to cities and ended any possibility of carrying out what was termed a "coercive" nuclear strike.

When I say JCS in this reply I mean as a body - I have the impression that not all individual members of the JCS held extreme views during the entire JFK presidency, but I think it was dominated by those that did"

Here you mention SAC and then JCS and the likely possibility that there were some differences within the JCS. You have probably encountered, as I have, some descriptions of SAC autonomy as far as first strike capability, even independently of JCS. Have you and have tried to find out what the real relationship (as opposed to paper relationship ) between JCS and SAC was. One source on SAC autonomy was, if I recall Richard Rhodes book Dark Sun. Also James Carrolls book House of War. Others too I will try to track them down. Of course this is not an easy question, because neither of these organizations sends out e-mails to middle aged social studies teachers.

There has always been interservice rivarly in the military between the different branches of the armed services. You have the "admirals revolt" during Truman, the Taylor fight against Ike and his flexible response etc as two examples...

I haven't read the Rhodes book need to.. Daniel Ellsberg's book talks about how under Eisenhower some of the nuclear commanders had the ability to use the weapons on their own authority and that this was changed by McNamara...

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Memoir-Vietnam-Pentagon-Papers/dp/0142003425/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370699467&sr=8-1&keywords=daniel+ellsberg

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Ever wonder what people at the top of the defense establishment are taught about JFK and Vietnam?

This book is published by the National Defense University. It appears to be a textbook used at this National Defense University college based in DC and most likely at West Point, Naval Academy etc, but commission by the Pentagon historical department...... It is an overview history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1942-1991. I would bet members of congress involved in defense matters would read this too.... There are things in this book that are not in normal academic scholarship and it is using sources not available to the public in some instances. That does not mean it is wrong and academics are right - it means that it is based on materials that go beyond the professor in the university. it is not written for the general public. You read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the pentagon and armed forces. There are things in this book not in regular history books:

http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/books/council-of-war/council-of-war.pdf

This is what the book has to say about Vietnam and Kennedy, it is pretty chilling:

page. 281:

knowing the Presidents aversion to...

281

the use of combat troops, the Joint Chiefs, CINCPAC, and the CIA came up with

a plan (later designated OPLAN 34A) to bring the war home to North Vietnam

through a campaign of sabotage and covert operations.

[...]

Am I missing something? I didn't see anything 'chilling' or different from what can be found "in regular history books".

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