Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces that the United States is moving to “Vietnamize” the war as rapidly as possible. By this, he meant that the responsibility for the fighting would be gradually transferred to the South Vietnamese as they became more combat capable. However, Laird emphasized that it would not serve the United States’ purpose to discuss troop withdrawals while the North Vietnamese continued to conduct offensive operations in South Vietnam. Despite Laird’s protestations to the contrary, Nixon’s “Vietnamization” program, as he would announce it in June, did include a series of scheduled U.S. troop withdrawals, the first of the war.
Also on this date: U.S. military headquarters in Saigon announce that combat deaths for the last week of March have pushed the total number of Americans killed during eight years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam to 33,641. This was 12 more deaths than during the Korean War. By the end of the war, 47,244 Americans had been killed in action in Vietnam. An additional 10,446 died as a result of non-hostile causes like disease and accidents.
READ MORE: Vietnam War: A Timeline