Miller Center

Dispatching the Wheeler Mission

President Kennedy met with his senior military advisers immediately preceding their departure on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. The Wheeler Mission, named for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, had been proposed by the Joint Chiefs the previous week following the Battle of Ap Bac, the first major confrontation between South Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. The ensuing Wheeler Report would be the third such review that Kennedy would receive in the span of a month. In late December, Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-MT) had toured Indochina and provided Kennedy with a pessimistic account of progress in the war. The State Department's Roger Hilsman and White House aide Michael Forrestal had also visited South Vietnam and had criticized the military's preference for engaging the Vietcong with conventional tactics.

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President John F. Kennedy was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, 1961-1963.

Biographical sketch from American President.



General Curtis LeMay was Air Force Chief of Staff from 1961-1965.

Curtis LeMay obituary from the New York Times.



Admiral George Anderson was the Chief of Naval Operations from 1961-1963.

George Anderson obituary from the New York Times.



General Earle Wheeler was Army Chief of Staff from 1962-1964. He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1964-1970.

Biographical sketch from the Arlington Cemetery Website.

Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1962-1964.

Biographical sketch from the Arlington Cemetery Website.

JFK Daily Diary, January 15, 1963.

AudioMeeting Tape 69.3, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Raw audio file available at the Miller Center's White House Tapes website.


"Report by an Investigative Team Headed by the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Wheeler), to the Joint Chiefs of Staff," January 1963 | Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian.

DocumentBattle of Ap Bac, January 2, 1963. Source: ehistory @ OSU | United States Military Academy.