Miller Center

Status Report on Vietnam

On January 2, 1963, South Vietnamese troops and their U. S. military advisers engaged Vietcong forces in what became known as the Battle of Ap Bac. Three U. S. soldiers died in the skirmish, which received extensive coverage in the American press. Several of those accounts were critical of the South Vietnamese performace, generating searching editorials on the status of the U. S. military advisory effort. Less than a week after the engagement in South Vietnam, President Kennedy invited legislative leaders to the White House to hear a briefing on the campaign from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. During the course of his report, McNamara would propose that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler tour South Vietnam to conduct a more intensive study of the war.

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

Biographical sketch from American President.

Newspaper Article Dean Rusk was secretary of state from 1961-1969.

Biographical sketch from the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Robert S. McNamara was secretary of defense from 1961-1968.

Biographical sketch from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Everett Dirksen was a U.S. Senator from Illinois, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader from 1959-1969.

Biographical sketch from U.S. Congress.

Carl Vinson was a U.S. Representative from Georgia and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee from 1949-1965.

Biographical sketch from U.S. Congress.

JFK Daily Diary, January 8, 1963.
Newspaper ArticleMeeting Tape 69.1 and 69.2, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Raw audio file available at the Miller Center's Scripps Library portal.


"Minutes of a Meeting of the Special Group for Counterinsurgency," January 17, 1963 | Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian.

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