President Lyndon Johnson’s top advisers–Maxwell Taylor, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and other members of the National Security Council–agree to recommend that the president adopt a plan for a two-stage escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam.
The purpose of this bombing was three-fold: to boost South Vietnamese morale, to cut down infiltration of Communist troops from the north, and to force Hanoi to stop its support of the insurgency in South Vietnam. While his advisors agreed that bombing was necessary, there was a difference of opinion about the best way to go about it. Johnson’s senior military advisers pressed for a “fast and full squeeze,” massive attacks against major industries and military targets in the north. His civilian advisers advocated a “slow squeeze,” a graduated series of attacks beginning with the infiltration routes in Laos and slowly extending to the targets in North Vietnam. Ultimately, the civilian advisers convinced Johnson to use the graduated approach. The bombing campaign, code-named Rolling Thunder, began in March 1965 and lasted through October 1968.