Defense Secretary Clark Clifford visits South Vietnam to confer with U.S. and South Vietnamese leaders. Upon his arrival in Saigon, Clifford stated that the United States was doing all that it could to improve the fighting capacity of the South Vietnamese armed forces and intended to provide all South Vietnamese army units with M-16 automatic rifles. This effort would increase in 1969 after Richard Nixon became president.
In June 1969, Nixon met with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu on Midway Island. At the meeting, Nixon announced what became known as his “Vietnamization” policy. Under this policy, Nixon intended U.S. troops to help increase the combat capability of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces so that the South Vietnamese could eventually assume full responsibility of the war. Though Nixon described this as a new policy, its roots could be traced back to Clark Clifford’s visit to South Vietnam and groundwork that was laid during the Johnson administration.