United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense/Front matter

FINAL REPORT OSD
Vietnam Task Force & Index

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T. L. ELIOT, JR. R. H. MILLER R. T. CURRAN
X22540 X23126 X28448

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE REGRADING ACTION DATE

23 June 1971
FROM:
Top Secret Control Officer, SecDef/Classified Control Section, Room 31948, The Pentagon, Washington, D. C. 20301
TO:
State Department, ATTENTION: Document Control/Security Officer, Washington, D. C. 20520
DOCUMENT
(Type, Office of Origin, Date, Subject)
CONTROL NUMBER CLASSIFICATION REGRADED TO
Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, Thru: ASD/ISA and DASD(Policy Planning and Arms Control), OASD(ISA), From Chairman, OSD Task Force /s/ Leslie H. Gelb, dated 15 January 1969, Subject: Final Report, OSD Vietnam Task Force (U) w/1 Inclosure::::::::: SecDefControl#X-0295/69 CONFIDENTIAL UNCLASSIFIED WHEN SEPARATED FROM INCLOSURE
INCLOSURE # 1:
Document, Subject: OSD Vietnam Task Force Outline of Studies (U), dtd 10 January 1969-----------------------
" CONFIDENTIAL REMAINS CONFIDENTIAL
////////NOTHING FOLLOWS////////////


Document was forwarded to both Mr. Bundy and Mr. Katzenback in 1969
If you have any questions concerning this regrading action please contact SFC William C. Holzer, US Army, Chief Clerk, SecDef/Classified Control Section, Rm3A948, The Pentagon, Phone: OX-76131


Done 7/19/71
Copy in EA/Bundy file
Copy in 8/1-file 7512


H. Brock

The document(s) listed above has/have been regraded and action should be taken to mark copies furnished your office. It is requested that you notify all recipients to whom additional distribution was furnished.




T. B. EDWARDS, MAJ, USA, Top Secret Control Officer
Printed or typed name of official
T.B. Edwards
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UNITED STATES - VIETNAM RELATIONS

1945 - 1967

46 Vote
Received.
June 24, 1971

A. Harttman
M. Levitsky








VIETNAM TASK FORCE




OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE


SET #13


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FINAL REPORT – OSD Task Force, Vietnam

&

INDEX

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301


15 January 1969

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

THROUGH: Mr. Paul C. Warnke, ASD/ISA
Dr. Morton H. Halperin, DASD/Policy Planning and Arms Control/ISA
SUBJECT: Final Report, OSD Vietnam Task Force


On June 17, 1967, Secretary Robert S. McNamara directed that a Task Force be formed to study the history of United States involvement in Vietnam from World War II to the present. Mr. McNamara's guidance was simply to do studies that were "encyclopedic and objective." With six full-time professionals assigned to the Task Force, we were to complete our work in three months. A year and a a half later, and with the involvement of six times six professionals, we are finally done to the tune of thirty-seven studies and fifteen collections of documents contained in forty-three volumes.

In the beginning, Mr. McNamara gave the Task Force full access to OSD Files, and the Task Force received access to CIA materials, and some use of State Department cables and memoranda. We had no access to White House files. Our guidance prohibited personal interviews with any of the principal participants.

The result was not so much a documentary history, as a history based solely on documents — checked and rechecked with ant-like diligence. Pieces of paper, formidable and suggestive by themselves, could have meant much or nothing. Perhaps this document was never sent anywhere, and perhaps that one, thought commented upon, was irrelevant. Without the memories of people to tell us, we were certain to make mistakes. Yet, using those memories might have been misleading as well. This approach to research was bound to lead to distortions, and distortions we are sure abound in these studies.

To bring the documents to life, to fill in gaps, and just to see what the "outside world" was thinking, we turned to newspapers, periodicals, and books. We never used these sources to supplant the classified documents, but only to supplement them. And because these documents, sometimes written by very clever men who knew so much and desired to say only a part and sometimes written very openly but also contradictorily, are not immediately self-revealing or self-explanatory, we tried both to have a number of researchers look at them and to quote passages liberally. Moreover, when we felt we could be challenged with taking something out of context, we included the whole paper in the Documentary Record section of the Task Force studies (Parts V and VI. A and B). Again seeking to fend off inevitable mistakes in interpretation and context, what seemed to us key documents were reviewed and included in several over-lapping in substance, but separate, studies.

The people who worked on the Task Force were superb—uniformly bright and interested, although not always versed in the art of research. We had a sense of doing something important and of the need to do it right. Of course, we all had our prejudices and axes to grind and these shine through clearly at times, but we tried, we think, to suppress or compensate for them.

These outstanding people came from everywhere—the military services, State, OSD, and the "think tanks." Some came for a month, for three months, for six months, and most were unable, given the unhappiness of their superiors, to finish the studies they began. Almost all the studies had several authors, each heir dutifully trying to pick up the threads of his predecessor. In all, we had thirty-six professionals working on these studies, with an average of four months per man.

The quality, style and interest of the studies varies considerably. The papers in Parts I, II, III, and IV.A, concerning the years 1945 to 1961 tend to be generally non-startling—although there are many interesting tidbits. Because many of the documents in this period were lost or not kept (except for the Geneva Conference era) we had to rely more on outside resources. From 1961 onwards (Parts IV.B and C and VI.C), the records were bountiful, especially on the first Kennedy year in office, the Diem coup, and on the subjects of the deployment of ground forces, the decisions surrounding the bombing campaign against North Vietnam, US–GVN relations, and attempts at negotiating a settlement of the conflict.

Almost all the studies contain both a Summary and Analysis and a Chronology. The chronologies highlight each important event or action in the monograph by means of date, description, and documentary source. The Summary and Analysis sections, which I wrote, attempt to capture the main themes and facts of the monographs—and to make some judgments and speculations which may or may not appear in the text itself. The monographs themselves stick, by and large, to the documents and do not tend to be analytical.

Writing history, especially where it blends into current events, especially where that current event is Vietnam, is a treacherous exercise. We could not go into the minds of the decision-makers, we were not present at the decisions, and we often could not tell whether something happened because someone decided it, decided against it, or most likely because it unfolded from the situation. History, to me, has been expressed by a passage from Herman Melville's Moby Dick where he writes: "This is a world of chance, free will, and necessity — all interweavingly working together as one; chance by turn rules either and has the last featuring blow at events." Our studies have tried to reflect this thought; inevitably in the organizing and writing process, they appear to assign more and less to men and free will than was the case.



Encl - Outline of Studies Leslie H. Gelb
LESLIE H. GELB
Chairman, OSD Task Force

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