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Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council- Cuba Crisis. President Kennedy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. White House, Cabinet Room., 10/29/1962


Overview: 1961 to November 1963

President Eisenhower administration began first boots on the ground involvement of United States in Vietnam, sending the Military Assistance Advisory Group to train the South Vietnamese military after the partitioning of Vietnam in 1954. 


In the fallout of Cold War escalations including the Cuban Missile Crisis and construction of the Berlin Wall, Vietnam became a critical stage for US resistance to Communist influence.  The Kennedy administration committed to increased economic and military support, growing the number of military advisers from Eisenhower’s 900 to over 16,000 by 1963.


One of the most definitive actions taken by the Kennedy administration was its (tacit) approval of the military coup that overthrew and assassinated South Vietnamese President Diem.


Catalog Resources:

America's Stake in Vietnam June 1, 1956, 6/1/1956-  Kennedy speech outlining the case for U.S. intervention in Vietnam.


Papers of President Kennedy: White House Central Files: White House Subject File: National Security – Defense- Famous series of letters between JFK and Mrs. Bobbie Lou Pendergrass about the death of her brother, James McAndrew, and the purpose of US involvement in Vietnam (Feb 1963).


World Reaction to Developments in Vietnam, 9/14/1963- Viewpoints from Far East, Western Europe, Near East-South Asia, Africa, Latin America.


Report of McNamara-Taylor Mission to South Vietnam, 10/2/1963- Political and military situation in Vietnam.  Cautiously optimistic, but notes political tension and dissent with the Diem regime.  Diem would be overthrown and assassinated a month after this report was submitted.


Vietnam: General, 1963 and Vietnam: Security, 1963 from series Country Files, 1/20/1961 - 11/22/1963- State Department cables between the US Ambassador to Vietnam and the White House detailing the situation in Vietnam, especially concerns with the South Vietnamese government.


American Opinion Summary Department of State -- Vietnam, dated 10 September 1963., 9/10/1963


This blog is just a sample of the information available in the National Archives catalog. For more tips on searching for digitized records in the catalog, check out this post on Expanding Your Digital Toolkit.