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1965: US orders 50,000 troops to Vietnam

President Johnson has commited a further 50,000 US troops to the conflict in Vietnam.

Monthly draft calls will increase from 17,000 to 35,000 - the highest level since the Korean War, when between 50,000 and 80,000 men were called up each month.

It will take the US force in Vietnam up to 125,000 but officials say at this stage demands should be met by conscription, without calling upon the reserves.


"I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth...into battle"

President Johnson

Speaking in a televised address from the White House President Johnson said: "We do not want an expanding struggle with consequences no one can foresee."

"Nor will we bluster, bully or flaunt our power. But we will not surrender, nor will we retreat," he continued.

The President gave the news conference after a week of intensive talks with senior military and security advisers in Washington.

He explained the decisions were in response to requests made by General Westmoreland, the US Commander in the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon.

Mrs Johnson and her daughter looked close to tears as Mr Johnson admitted: "I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle."

The US leader also made clear his desire for peace and recalled the - unsuccessful - efforts of 40 countries to bring an end to the fighting on 15 occasions.

He called upon the United Nations to redouble its efforts to restore peace to Vietnam and detailed a personal letter to that effect being personally delivered to the UN Secretary-General, U Thant, in New York by the new US Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg.

The Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and the Secretary of Defence, Robert S McNamara, are to persuade Congress of the need to finance the US' new military commitments, in the light of a reduced defence budget this year.

President Johnson explained: "We intend to convince the communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power."

In Context
By the end of the year 180,000 US troops had been sent to Vietnam.

In 1966 the figure doubled.

80,000 Americans had been killed or wounded in the Vietnam War by summer 1967.

Pressure to withdraw mounted, not least because money for domestic reforms was diverted to the military.

There was Rioting in US cities and demonstrations on university campuses in the summer of 1967.

President Johnson and the Democratic Party were already losing votes. In the 1966 congressional elections the Republicans gained 47 seats in the House of Representatives and three in the Senate.

In March 1968 President Johnson announced a pause in the US bombings of Vietnam and said he would not be standing for re-election later that year.


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