February 22

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Feb 22, 1965:

Westmoreland asks for Marines

General William Westmoreland, commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam, cables Washington, D.C., to request that two battalions of U.S. Marines be sent to protect the U.S. airbase at Da Nang.

Ambassador Maxwell Taylor, aware of Westmoreland's plan, disagreed and cabled President Lyndon B. Johnson from Saigon to warn that such a step would encourage South Vietnam to "shuck off greater responsibilities." The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, supported Westmoreland's request and on February 26, White House officials cabled Taylor and Westmoreland that the troops would be sent, and that Taylor should "Secure GVN [Government of South Vietnam] approval." General Westmoreland later insisted that he did not regard his request as "the first step in a growing American commitment," but by 1969 there were over 540,000 American troops in South Vietnam.

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