With 1968, a new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view. What is this third phase we are about to enter?
In Phase III, in 1968, we intend to do the following:
Help the Vietnamese Armed Forces to continue improving their effectiveness.
Decrease our advisers in training centers and other places where the professional competence of Vietnamese officers makes this possible.
Increase our advisory effort with the younger brothers of the Vietnamese Army: the Regional Forces and Popular Forces.
Use U.S. and free-world forces to destroy North Vietnamese forays while we assist the Vietnamese to reorganize for territorial security.
Provide the new military equipment to revitalize the Vietnamese Army and prepare it to take on an ever-increasing share of the war.
Continue pressure on North to prevent rebuilding and to make infiltration more costly.
Turn a major share of frontline DMZ defense over to the Vietnamese Army.
Increase U.S. support in the rich and populated delta.Help the Government of Viet-Nam single out and destroy the Communist shadow government.
Continue to isolate the guerrilla from the people.
Help the new Vietnamese government to respond to popular aspirations and to reduce and eliminate corruption.
Help the Vietnamese strengthen their policy forces to enhance law and order.
Open more roads and canals.
Continue to improve the Vietnamese economy and standard of living.
The Final Phase
Now for phase IV—the final phase. That period will see the conclusion of our plan to weaken the enemy and strengthen our friends until we become progressively superfluous. The object will be to show the world that guerrilla warfare and invasion do not pay as a new means of Communist aggression.
I see phase IV happening as follows:
Infiltration will slow.
The Communist infrastructure will be cut up and near collapse.
The Vietnamese Government will prove its stability, and the Vietnamese Army will show that it can handle Viet Cong.
The Regional Forces and Popular Forces will reach a higher level of professional performance.
U.S. units can begin to phase down as the Vietnamese Army is modernized and develops its capacity to the fullest.
The military physical assets, bases and ports, will be progressively turned over to the Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese will take charge of the final mopping up of the Viet Cong (which will probably last several years). The U.S., at the same time, will continue the developmental help envisaged by the President for the community of Southeast Asia.
You may ask how long phase III will take, before we reach the final phase. We have already entered part of phase III. Looking back on phases I and II, we can conclude that we have come a long way.
I see progress as I travel all over Viet-Nam.
I see it in the attitudes of the Vietnamese.
I see it in the open roads and canals.
I see it in the new crops and the new purchasing power of the farmer.
I see it in the increasing willingness of the Vietnamese Army to fight North Vietnamese units and in the victories they are winning.
Parenthetically, I might say that the U.S. press tends to report U.S. actions; so you may not be as aware as I am of the victories won by South Vietnamese forces.
The enemy has many problems:
He is losing control of the scattered population under his influence.
He is losing credibility with the population he still controls.
He is alienating the people by his increased demands and taxes, where he can impose them.
He sees the strength of his forces steadily declining.He can no longer recruit in the South to any meaningful extent; he must plug the gap with North Vietnamese.His monsoon offensives have been failuraes.
He was dealt a mortal blow by the installation of a freely elected representative government.
And he failed in his desperate effort to take the world's headlines from the inauguration by a military victory.
Lastly, the Vietnamese Army is on the road to becoming a competent force. Korean troops in Viet-Nam provide a good example for the Vietnamese. Fifteen years ago the Koreans themselves had problems now ascribed to the Vietnamese. The Koreans surmounted these problems, and so can and will the Vietnamese. . . .
We are making progress. We know you want an honorable and early transition to the fourth and last phase. So do your sons and so do I.
It lies within our grasp—the enemy's hopes are bankrupt. With your support we will give you a success that will impact not only on South Viet-Nam but on every emerging nation in the world.