January 2022 New Year Handgrenade

John T Kuehn's picture

The Myths of Vietnam—Number One

John T. Kuehn, grasshopper in training to Dr. James Willbanks (LTC, USA, retired)

There are so many of these that one hardly knows where to begin, especially since the literature is voluminous.  I will start with one of the most glaring—that which surrounds General William Westmoreland, commander of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) during the critical years of compound-hybrid warfare in South Vietnam, when the US coalition--which included troops from South Korea and Australia as well as the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)—fought both the People Liberation Armed Forces (the PLAF aka the Viet Cong) as well as the conventional People’s Army of Vietnam  (PAVN, aka the North Vietnamese Army—NVA).  The acronyms already hint at the problem with this conflict.

            Back to Westmoreland.  The myth is that he chose the wrong strategy to address the multiple military problems he faced—which he boiled down to “bully boys” (the NVA regulars) and “termites” (the PLAF guerillas, who could also amalgamate into small conventional sized units of company and battalion size.)   There is no need for me to make the argument to which I ascribe—that Westmoreland did indeed choose the correct strategy for military situation he faced at the time he was in command.  The veteran Vietnam War historian Dale Andrade makes this case in his compelling argument, “Westmoreland Was Right.”[1] Go read it.

            The problem was not the strategy—which was the ways to the ends, a viable government of South Vietnam that could defend itself both internally and externally from the communists that besieged it.  The problem was the means, and the key means was the United States’ (writ large) commitment to the strategy.  In fact,  the strategy itself was so poorly understood, both at the time, but also after the fact, that two very bright men,  Andrew Krepinevich and Harry Summers, mischaracterized its elements in their major works on the war…to say nothing of the American people not understanding that Westmoreland’s goal was not initially victory, but a stalemate to prevent military defeat.  He achieved that, ironically, after Tet in 1968.  

Krepenevich argued that we fought the wrong kind of war, conventional instead of guerilla.  Summers argued that we did not fight a war that was conventional enough, it was too limited, and should have included more operations directly against North Vietnam as well as against the NVA supply routes through Cambodia and Laos  (that these existed has never been a matter of contention).

Westmoreland’s great error, and he admits as much in his mea culpa, A Solder Reports,  was his failure to be more honest with the American people about the situation on the ground in Vietnam, especially his famous “cheerleading” tour of the United States in 1967, done at the behest of one of the the real villains,  Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (who’d already decided the war was lost when he commissioned the Pentagon Papers).

There are a lot of explosions here  (passive voice intentional), and many collateral ones as well.  Nothing to get the new year going like Vietnam. 

One wonders if the American people are any better informed about the truth on the ground in Afghanistan, just ended?  The information is out there (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Report-SIGAR)-- not being informed is a matter of interest and curiosity. And there seems to be little of both when it comes to honest understanding by the vast reading public of past American wars.  Don’ take my word for it, go read for yourself.

 

[1] Dale Andrade,  “Westmoreland was Right: Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Vietnam War,” Small Wars & Insurgencies, 2, 2008: 145-75.

Happy New Year as I dive into the fragments of this jungle. I have always found Krepenivich and Summers worthy pieces for their ability to provoke thought about what kind of strategy could have been used to better effect. But I have also found them both wanting, and both pointing to a larger issue that I think is also implicit in the Andrade article, and that will put me firmly in a Clausewitzian camp in this sense. The US either did not fully understand the nature of the war it was engaged in, or it had insurmountable problems with the issues associated with fighting a nested war, wherein the larger Cold War caused US political leaders to make decisions that restricted some aspects of a military strategy that were necessary to achieve US's limited political aim. I'm also a Clausewitzian in the sense that I believe the venerable Prussian is right in his sense that you can not "win" a war solely by pursuing a negative aim, but along with that, I would say one might be able to do so, so long as the enemy does not have an apparently unlimited political will to pursue an unlimited political aim against a belligerent who is pursuing a war of limited political aim. The problem of sanctuaries and the fact that the logistics engine driver was in North Vietnam (vis a vis help from two larger allies) means that Summers should at least be given credit for his Clausewitzian lean about where NVN's center of gravity lay, and if you can't kill, stop, or "signal" to the Hydra how serious you are about encouraging them to stop their activities in South Vietnam, you might as well conclude--if you ask and answer Clausewitz's Supreme Question accurately- that maybe you ought not scale up what you're doing into a full-scale war. I don't think one can ignore the presence of Soviet-US conflict and the existence of nuclear weapons and the idea of limited war theory were players in this event.

I agree that much US scholarship on this war ignores the enemy, even while US military officers and professional military educators constantly taut - "the enemy gets a vote." But I think that tendency also exists whenever the US studies any of its performances in any war, or at least in wars since World War II--that is, there's too much focus on what we did wrong or right while simultaneously not looking at what the enemy did. But there's also the issue of the nature of South Vietnam, because it was an important player in its ability to be a viable, sovereign country.

I'm not sure I've fully answered the question, but since this is my first throw into a Hand grenade post, I'll say that at least one other great myth that this war has generated, and it is one that has unfortunately turned into a mantra that has negative influences on our political and military leaders' thought processes as they enter war, and that is, that the US does not like long wars. I've never understood how that one got started, because the only thing that is immediately recognizable to me from that war, and perhaps also the Korean War, is that the US does not like fighting wars that its political leaders do not appear to know how to win, or do not appear to be trying to win, or appear to be pursuing courses of action that will not lead to a win. A concomitant one is the idea that you can or should fight a war while being so casualty averse--and stating it often and publicly--that the enemy automatically wants to settle into a strategy of protraction to drive down your political will to fight a war. That would bring up another Clausewitzian quote, "We are not interested in generals who win victories without bloodshed.
The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously, but not provide an excuse for gradually blunting our swords in the name of humanity. Sooner or later someone will come along with a sharp sword and hack off our arms." (Clausewitz, On War, Paret/Howard edn, pg. 260).

Now onto some more fragments. I think a problem that the US has had at least since the Vietnam War, and which is showing up, is the tendency to equate military victory with a political win. I think we did that--that is declare vicgtory-- prematurely in Iraq 2003, and in Afghanistan because we are operating under that notion, whether consciously or not. Those two things are not the same, and I'm often aghast when someone tries to pursue an unlimited political aim against a belligerent while simultaneously claiming we don't nation build. I don't think you can just go into a country and break it and walk away and leave it that way. That is certainly not what we did in WWII, even if we didn't use the term "nation building" back then.

I'm looking forward to more explosions.

Regards

Joyce Sampson
Professor of Strategy and War
US Naval War College, Monterey, CA

Thanks for “throwing in” Joyce. I too am a firm Clausewitzian on these matters. As he would say “in war the result is never final” 1:1

The key to expansion of the war to attack locs & base areas in Cambodia & Laos was rapprochement with China. That did not take place until after Tet, nor to my knowledge was it viable —or even a course of action—earlier than 1970 (& even then the reaction to the modest ops in Cambodia) reflected how much the influence the US public had on constraining policy.

No rapprochement—no Linebacker I & II

Best, John

We're doomed to overthink Vietnam for generations, I believe. When I was there, during the final year of the war (so far as the US was concerned) I had a particular focus, based on the missions I was flying. Fixed-wing gunship operations were part of the long "Commando Hunt" campaign, aimed at interdicting truck traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. John, you mentioned Col. Harry Summers: "Summers should at least be given credit for his Clausewitzian lean about where NVN's center of gravity lay." I think he was right about that, and the strategy he put forward was, accordingly, correct from a theoretical standpoint.

I believe that building, maintaining, and defending the Ho Chi Minh Trail was the most decisive victory that the NVA achieved during the "American War." In the face of total US air supremacy and all the technology we brought to bear, the NVA moved troops and supplies down the long network of roads running through some of the most difficult terrain imaginable. The losses we inflicted were never enough to interdict this vital logistical pipeline. There's no getting around that stubborn fact. I believe with all my heart that we lost the Vietnam War in the mountains of Laos.

I agree with John Kuehn that Westmoreland’s exaggerated public optimism in 1967 was a crucial mistake, though I am not sure why he blames McNamara for it. President Johnson was the one who told Westmoreland to come to Washington in November 1967 and make a lot of public statements about how well the war was going. And if somebody prompted Johnson to give that order, I am sure it was Walt Rostow, not McNamara.

But I think a more fundamental error was Westmoreland’s lack of interest in making sure that his organization would have the ability to inform itself about Vietnam. So far as I am aware, the thought never crossed his mind that it might be useful to have intelligence officers who were fluent in the Vietnamese language. Or that the advising and training of the Vietnamese forces the Americans were supporting might go better if the advisers spoke Vietnamese. Out of more than half a million US military personnel in Vietnam at the end of Westmoreland’s tenure in 1968, the only place one would have found significant numbers of Vietnamese-speakers was in the organizations that listened to enemy radio communications. And those were really under NSA’s supervision, not Westmoreland’s.

Even Paul Bremer, a man for whom my respect is, shall we say, limited, thought when he was sent to run the US occupation of Iraq in 2003 that he should have at least one person on his immediate staff who understood the language. I am not aware of Westmoreland having had such a thought. Or is there something I am missing, perhaps some person of whom I am unaware?

I disagree with Joyce Sampson about the asymmetry of the Vietnam War. She sees the United States pursuing a "limited political aim" while Hanoi pursued an "unlimited political aim."

I see Hanoi's aim as bringing South Vietnam under complete Communist control, eliminating all anti-Communist forces from South Vietnam, and Washington's aim as bringing South Vietnam under the complete control of the Republic of Vietnam, eliminating all Communist forces from South Vietnam. I don't see either of these as significantly more limited than the other.

Hanoi cared much about its aim and was willing to pay a higher price to achieve it, but that is another question.

Reply below re: Guerrilla war-------

https://www.warbirdforum.com/galula.htm

https://cco.ndu.edu/Portals/96/Documents/prism/prism_3-4/prism149-152_mo...

http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo8/no4/doc/pahlavi-eng.pdf

https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/52858621/Total_War_of_the_Mind_Au...

94 online references//2 Galula, 2 Trinquier

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1700/RR177...
[Rand Report online//Political warfare and references to Trinquier and 5e bureau]

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137336941_10

[COIN and Trinquier as Dirty Warfare]

Maybe permitted to return momentarily to Greg Banner's concern for unconventional war and need of considering it along with conventional war,
have included two reference sources, Galula and Trinquier, who wrote about their French Army experiences, and theory/practice by the French in Algeria during early 1960s.

These are two of the original writings about guerrilla war included in my research as a student. Both considered the attempts by France to defeat and hold onto Algeria as a French colony in North Africa. This most unhappy era of 'political war' produced some of the earliest background for what Americans would encounter after Kennedy was killed and Pres. Johnson had to decide about Vietnam and how to counter the guerrilla war unleashed by North Vietnam's Communist leadership to reunite the 2 Vietnams.

This is only a very short presentation of materials and both Galula and Trinquier deserve to be read in their original works on the subject. Trinquier in particular devotes attention to the 5e Bureau which attempted through what is called and probably 'recognized' as 'dirty' warfare. Its techniques included torture, such as water boarding, which was attempted and practiced during the US invasion of Iraq. Such 'terrorist' tactics and strategy in counterinsurgency to break 'nationalist' guerrilla war, whose tactics leave no moral superiority to their causes, is nonetheless part and parcel to the overall mantra called guerrilla war.

Vietnam as a political war attempt from the US side of this equation sought a solution through limited military war as to goals and expanse. No invasion of North Vietnam from the ground, such as the Korean history experienced, in order not to provoke intervention by Communist China and its forces. No expansion into the larger geographic areas of S.E. Asia despite exploitation of regionality by the Communist regimes. And the effort to force guerrilla warfare into a conventional war giving the US chances at advantages in its own force structure and operations. It needs be remembered that Kennedy had placed emphasis on unconventional warfare through creation of the special forces and green berets, as a counter to Communist practices.

These online references are only partial of the totality to sources and information concerned with unconventional war and counterinsurgency. Would caution that consideration of political warfare needs much more coverage than just these sources. Algeria and the French conduct of its counterinsurgency was ultimately unsuccessful, produced enormous instability in French politics, and eventually paved the way for Gen de Gaulle's rise to the Presidency of France. This outcome may have been one of the better consequences but de Gaulle ended French control over Algeria to bring about peace, very much as Nixon ended the Vietnam war to create peace and Johnson's end as President came about through his determination to obtain peace by not seeking a 2nd term in 1968. None of these events could have been predicted but guerrilla war produced them as a result, just as waterboarding and torture were proven counterproductive and even illegal or criminal conduct of war.

Hard lessons but even harsher consequences for those who proclaim Democracy and Freedom as the best and only condition for peoples, man and societies. Departing from the path of Democracy to gain power through guerrilla war is fraught with minefields to what can be recognized as victory, such as a conventional war with all of its outrages and destruction bring about for those so engaged.

Ralph,
You will get no argument from me on that one. Market Time closed down the main sea route,
That left one way to get material south by land, although the route through Cambodia included transhipment of Soviet equipment after it entered Cambodia by sea. But Ho Chi Minh Trail (HCMT) was the key line of communication, and that Soviet equipment still needed to marry up with people that came down the HCMT.

As for McNamara, his commissioning of Pentagon Papers and then attempts to restrict access to the studies tell me enough, but true, he was not directly the cause for Westy's cheerleading tour, but indirectly he was the one underwriting Johnson's follies in that respect. I think Johnson thought if he could get re-elected before the charade of what was going was exposed was a bad move on his part. He doubled down and lost because of Tet. And then he made the situation much worse, effectively telling the enemy he was beaten (just as the enemy was realizing the scope of the tactical and operational mistakes it had made in Tet). Yes yes, Johnson asked the right questions, but his judgment of the possible was fatally flawed and Bob M. helped him maintain his delusions.

Of course that is one epitaph for Vietnam from the American standpoint.
"He should have been honest with the American people, sooner, rather than later."

it makes a good epitaph for Afghanistan too.

Best, John

Hi Edwin

You say you disagree with me about the asymmetric aims, but if I'm understanding you correctly, you described exactly what I said and we are in violent agreement to some extent, but with one major difference. I am using the terms "unlimited aim" and "limited aim" only in the sense to describe the goal that a belligerent seeks against its enemy--to compel it to do its will. I am not using these terms to describe what a belligerent is trying to do to help it's ally, which might be more akin to purpose or reason than a political aim for the purpose of compelling the enemy to do your will via the use of violence. The definitions are also derived from Clausewitz. Thus, the North Vietnamese had an unlimited political aim against South Vietnam, in other words, an aim to to bring SVN under complete communist control of the NVN. The US's political aim towards NVN was limited - it had no intent to change the regime in NVN, only to stop NVN from taking over SVN. The US's purpose with respect to what it was doing in/for SVN was attempting to retain SVN as a free and independent nation by preventing the NVN from achieving their unlimited political aim.

Regarding the point about officers fluent in Vietnamese. Interesting and valid point. I'm not familiar with the situation on that, but if it's anything like the Korean War; my knowledge of that war and the absolute absence of anyone who could speak Korean in the US military on the peninsula in the immediate post-war era had to do with US policy during WWII--the only Asian language they were bothering to train on during WWII was Japanese, and so when the Army is in Korea in the post-war period, no one there can speak the language. Not sure if a similar situation prevailed in Vietnam, but we weren't really showing much interest or presence there, even in the 1950s when we started advising there, and the US always seems to be behind the ball curve in languages, throwing one language away as soon as it seems that it's not applicable any more - look at the DLI a few years ago, probably couldn't have found a Russian speaker if you tried because everything was all focused on Farsi, Arabic, etc.

Regards

Joyce

Joyce Sampson

Replying to John,

I don’t think Johnson effectively told the enemy he was beaten after Tet 1968. In his famous speech of March 31, 1968, he invited peace talks, and in an effort to conciliate the doves in the United States he said that he was “reducing--substantially reducing--the present level of hostilities.” But that statement was false. As the Communists in Vietnam were well aware, he was escalating the level of hostilities, not as much as his generals asked him to but escalating significantly, in an effort to bludgeon the Communists into giving him a deal in the peace talks that would be very favorable to him and very unfavorable to them.

Replying to Joyce,

You are treating this war as basically a struggle of the United States against North Vietnam, and I have been accepting that analysis for the purposes of this discussion. Using that framework, I do not think comparing US aims against North Vietnam with North Vietnamese aims against South Vietnam is valid. We need to compare like with like.

US aims against North Vietnam and North Vietnamese aims against the US were limited. Neither was trying to destroy the other. US aims against South Vietnam and North Vietnamese aims against South Vietnam were unlimited. North Vietnam aimed at the annihilation of the Republic of Vietnam, and the US aimed at the annihilation of the NLF/Viet Cong.

But I do not feel that “North Vietnam” is a good label for the enemy the United States was facing. Le Duan had been born in South Vietnam, and he saw himself (in my opinion correctly) as leader of a Communist movement that was Vietnamese, not specifically North Vietnamese.

Looking at the war through that lens, I see Le Duan attempting to impose a government of his choosing in his native land, and Lyndon Johnson attempting to impose a government of his choosing in a distant land, almost halfway round the world from his own. Johnson’s goal looks much more ambitious to me.

As to languages, it is not just a matter of having a lot of people who already know the language of a place when that place suddenly becomes important. When Vietnam turned into a really big deal, the Agency for International Development decided that the people it sent to Vietnam would be a lot more effective if they knew the language, so it sent a bunch of them to language school, delaying their arrival in Vietnam by about a year so they would be more useful when they finally arrived. Westmoreland could have made the same decision about Army officers. He didn’t.

Even when there are very few language speakers available, very few does not mean zero. Paul Bremer wanted to have a close personal adviser who knew Arabic, so he found one. General Ray Odierno wanted to have a close personal adviser who knew Arabic, so he found one. Westmoreland could have found a close personal adviser who knew Vietnamese, if he had looked. So far as I have heard, he never looked.

Ed Moise

Footnote to History: Vietnam, Westmoreland, Johnson and Tet.

Reflections upon the history of events in Vietnam. Christmas Day, or Tet rather, the Holiday celebrated in Vietnam, had seen a tacit, unofficial truce between combatants on Tet for the Vietnam War prior to 1968. Morning of Tet, '67, Washington DC woke up to news that Communist forces unilaterally broke that understood day of truce with its vicious attack across the entire area in So. Vietnam.
While the shock of that attack pervaded the US Capitol with a change to political understandings about the future course of American presence in Vietnam, Gen. Westmoreland in early '68 returned to DC for discussions with the Johnson Administration about American needs and commitments to 'win' in Vietnam.

It was during this presence in DC that the General had asked for an additional 500,000 troops for Vietnam. This history was reported in the Pentagon Papers during its release in Nixon era.

It was a Sunday morning, and a friend and myself drove to Fort McNair for an early morning game of tennis on the Fort tennis courts. Several blocks from our residence on Capitol Hill, after the time we spent on the tennis court, is located a church known as Christ Church; one of the oldest Churches in America, dating back more than a century. As we drove past the Church, outside on the grounds was Gen. Westmoreland, standing and talking with someone from the Church. Next day, the press story was about the meeting of Johnson and Westmoreland to discuss the future of Vietnam's war.

This is when Johnson turned down the request for an additional 500,000 troops and subsequently, Johnson went on TV to announce his withdrawal as a candidate for re-election in '68 as the Democrat Presidential Candidate.

The events did not occur quite the way Wyatt Reader remembers them. Westmoreland never made a request for as many as 500,000 additional men, and when he requested more troops, he did not go to Washington to make the requests; he sent requests from Saigon. He did not go to Washington for any purpose during the period between the Tet Offensive and LBJ's announcement that he would not run for re-election.

Westmoreland sent a message to Washington on February 12 saying he needed reinforcements "desperately," but he didn't give a large number. He said he needed to raise his strength to 525,000 (which would have meant adding about 25,000 to his current strength) as fast as possible.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Earle Wheeler went to Saigon in late February, and came back with a request that Westmoreland's strength be increased to 731,756. This would have been an increase of about 225,000 over what Westmoreland had as of late February. I do not believe Westmoreland's later claim that this was really just Wheeler's idea, and that Westmoreland himself was not feeling a strong need for reinforcements. Westmoreland's February 12 message about needing reinforcements "desperately" is a big part of the reason for my disbelief.

Maybe you could pin the dates down specific to when Westmoreland was attending the Christ Church ?
Thank you.

I do not know of particular dates when Westmoreland attended church in Washington. The most likely possibilities would be April or November 1967, or May 1968.

If this was at a time when he was angling for reinforcements, April 1967 would be the most likely. He had sent a written message in March saying he would like a lot more men, and LBJ didn't reach a decision on that until July. I don't recall noticing anything in the documents about that having been discussed when Westmoreland was in Washington in April--the big thing he did on that trip was his address to a joint session of Congress--but the question surely must have come up.

If memory serves, and had not kept a record then or since, his presence in DC came after Tet, which would have been 67 end.

Purpose was to be in DC to discuss Vietnam war with Johnson and White House.

Dateline can be worked up would expect to place events more precisely.

With curiosity piqued due to differences on timeline, have looked at least into the Tet offensive online.

Here, 3 references show the Jan. '68 event which was a decisive US military victory over Viet Cong, and eventually served to draw the NVA regular units to enter S. Vietnam subsequently, creating a new phase of the war directly facing off the NVA with US.

It was not the battlefield loss which proved decisive for North Vietnam. It was the political shock in the US and Congress that Tet turned into an American political defeat.

Support for the war dried up. Given this date, Westmoreland's Sunday presence in DC came sometime between Jan. and Johnson's March withdrawal as Candidate for reelection as President.

This opened the road for the Humphrey v Nixon election in 68.
++++++++++++++++++++++

Tet Offensive - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_Offensive

US Involvement in the Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive - Milestones
https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/tet

--------------
How the Tet Offensive Undermined American Faith in Government
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/how-the-tet-offensi...

North Vietnamese and American units had been facing off against one another, on a substantial scale, since late 1965. This was not something that began after the Tet Offensive.

And as I said before, Westmoreland made no visit to Washington, or to any part of the United States, between January and March 1968.

The State Department's "Milestones" web page to which you give a link contains a couple of statements I regard as odd. It says that "In the months that followed" the third wave of the Communists' 1968 offensive, in other words, in the months from September 1968 onward, "U.S. and South Vietnamese forces retook the towns that the NLF had secured over the course of the offensive." There were villages that the Communists were holding at the end of the third wave, and that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces then retook. But I am pretty sure there were no towns.

It also says after the Tet Offensive, President Johnson "placed a limit on U.S. troops in South Vietnam." This is sort of true, but misleading. There had already been a limit on the number of U.S. troops. The actual number there had been a little below the limit. What Johnson did in response to the Tet Offensive was to send additional troops, taking the number beyond the previous limit, and set a new limit, which if I recall correctly was about 24,000 above the previous limit. I would not say the new limit imposed any genuine restraint on escalation of the war. I have two reasons for this.

1) The new limit was not carved in stone any more than the previous ones had been. Johnson could easily have increased it again, if he had decided once again that a higher limit would make sense.

2) He had set the new limit high enough that it was above the limit imposed by the U.S. military's shortage of manpower. In an environment in which Johnson was not willing either to allow mobilization of large numbers of reservists or to have the Selective Service System draft a larger proportion of the young men, the military was unable to send even as many men to Vietnam as Johnson's new limit would have permitted.

By 1970 Nixon was elected and in the White House. His attempt to turn the course of war in Vietnam led to expansion into Cambodia to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail and clean out NVA in Cambodia. This produced the Kent State murders which led to another March on DC as antiwar protests arose. At the time it was clear the Nation was coming apart and ending Vietnam would be the solution to a host of problems.

Prior to the time, Johnson, in the you tube included, withdrew from the 68 election. This was March of 1968 prior to riots in Chicago at the Dems Convention over Vietnam.

His meeting with Westmoreland took place between the TV appearance in March and the Tet event of Jan 68.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_vbaQgBcHA

70 Nixon, Cambodia and antiwwar protests after Kent State
-------------------
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tet+68%2F++anti+war+dc+prot...

Johnson withdraws March of 68.

Will now leave to others to sort out the exact dates and timeline. Have long since lost interest in the subject.

Do agree in general with Prof. Moise 2nd part to his answer about the limits problem of a Limited War both as theory and practice then in vogue as military/political doctrine.
The calling up of added troops was not in the cards.
Do think there are stories from Washington Post newspaper at that period which can confirm various date and times.
Need search their archives; never bothered to keep any of their copies as records. Would also think the White House records would show dates and times of comings and goings after Tet and before Johnson withdrew as re election candidate.
Do not think we recall this event quite the same. Perhaps the Church might have some information on the exact date ?

Just a quick online sources search gives the below 4-5 webpages, which indicate date may have been off between March 3 and 7 April 68; this last date given as Gen. Westmoreland in DC.

Essentially the outcome was same as previously mentioned, with number of post-Tet troops being denied.

April might have been the date as weather was good at that time for a tennis match at Ft. McNair on the Sunday it happened.

Remarks to the Press With General Westmoreland Following the General's Report on the Situation in Vietnam
https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-the-press-with-general...

MACV: The Joint Command in the Years of Withdrawal, 1968-1973
https://history.army.mil/html/books/091/91-7/CMH_Pub_91-7.pdf

Page from General Westmoreland's National Press Club Address
https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/westmoreland-press-club

Strategic Reassessment in Vietnam: The Westmoreland "Alternate Strategy" of 1967-1968
https://www.jstor.org/stable/44638025

The turning point: 1968 | Miller Center
https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/educational-resources/turning-po...

Collection: William Childs Westmoreland papers - ArchivesSpace
https://archives.library.sc.edu/repositories/3/resources/38

None of the sources to which you give links says that Westmoreland made a trip to Washington during the period between the Tet Offensive and LBJ's famous speech of March 31, 1968, in which LBJ, without mentioning that Westmoreland had asked for a large addition to US strength in South Vietnam, made it pretty clear that he was only going to send a modest addition to US strength.

This confirms me in my belief that no such visit occurred during the period when LBJ was considering Westmoreland's request.

Indicated possibly the date was not between Jan and March. Might have been after the speech of 3 March. But others would have records of dates, such as the White House?

Not likely his appearance was a QT visit. Sources show the request was at least 200,000 and was denied.

Doubt the person was a twin or a double. Just need a confirmed date. As for subject, one other thought did occur. Maybe was when MacV Command was relieved for Westmoreland that he returned.

Well, did find this online:
https://inss.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratperspective/inss/Strategi...
\
Cover shows Westmoreland and LBJ lunch meet on 6 April 1968; this could be the date.
------------------

In these 2 web pages, Westmoreland promoted to DC in March 68 and the other says he asked for troop increase in June 68.

Consistency in dates -- are they off?
Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War - Presidential Recordings ...
https://prde.upress.virginia.edu/content/Vietnam

Westmoreland, William Childs | Encyclopedia.com
https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcrip...