Robert McNamara

Robert McNamara - Buckling our seatbelts for the bumpy ride.

Defense Secretary McNamara Addresses The DNC Platform – 1964 – Past Daily Reference Room

Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara – Buckling our seatbelts for the bumpy ride.

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara – Address To Democratic Party Platform Committee – August 17, 1964 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Seven days after the infamous “Gulf of Tonkin Incident“, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was giving a pep talk to the Democratic Party Platform, ahead of the Convention which would see Lyndon Johnson secure nomination for President. It was too early to tell and too vague to know just how all of this was going to end up. At the time it was looking like the U.S. was going to be more heavily involved in a shooting war in Southeast Asia than it had when the U.S. presence in Vietnam consisted of “advisers” – and how it would change and shape lives and affect the decade of the 60s still remained to be seen. At the time though, we had enemies described and objectives spelled out and the notion of a drawn-out, protracted war wasn’t even considered.

Here is a transcribe excerpt of that address:

The threat that Castro pre­sents to Latin America and the challenge before us today in South Vietnam lies not in nuclear war, but in the twi­light zone of guerrilla terror­ism and subversion.

To deal with this form of political and military aggres­sion and similar acts of vio­lence which are less than all‐out war, since 1961:

¶We have increased the regular strength of the Army by 100,000 men, and the num­ber of combat‐ready divi­sions from 11 to 16.

¶We have raised the num­ber of tactical fighter squad­rons from 5 to 79.

¶We have trained over 100,­000 officers in counter‐insur­gency skills necessary to fight guerrilla and anti‐guerrilla warfare.

¶We have put into produc­tion the new C‐141 Starlifter, which will, by 1968, increase our airlift by 400 per cent over what we had in 1961.

What I have just described is an aggregation of force without parallel in human history. As President Johnson has said, “we as well as our adversaries, must stand in awe before the power our craft has created and our wis­dom must labor to control.”

To create and maintain such a force has required the in­vestment of $30 billion more for the fiscal years 1962‐1965 than would have been spent had we continued at the level of the last defense budget of the previous Administration.

To create and maintain such a force requires natural re­sources, scientific ingenuity, industrial complexes, and mil­lions of Americans dedicated to the security of this coun­try and the free world.

To harness this wide array of human and material re­sources, and to form them into usable power requires an exceedingly precise degree of control. The engine of defense must be so harnessed that its vast power may be unleashed to the precise degree required by whatever threat we face.

And here is that complete address, as given to the Democratic Platform Committee – August 17, 1964.

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