January 15 During a press conference, President Kennedy is asked if any Americans in Vietnam are engaged in the fighting. “No,” the President responds without further comment.

February 3 President Diệm creates the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Strategic Hamlets (IMCSH). The committee is under the effective control by the President’s brother, Ngô Đình Nhu. See entry for November 13, 1961 for more about strategic hamlets.

February 8 Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) formed to support the increased American involvement in RVN. Headquartered in Saigon (Sài Gòn )it is placed under the command of General Paul D. Harkins. MAAG remains responsible for training the Republic of Vietnam’s Armed Forces (RVNAF).

March 19 Diệm approves Robert Thompson’s Delta Pacification Plan. “The program, in the form of a plan for pacification of the Delta, was formally proposed to Diệm in November 1961 by R. G. K. Thompson, head of the newly arrived British Advisory Mission. U.S. military advisors favored at that time an ARVN penetration of the VC redoubt in War Zone D prior to any operations aimed specifically at pacification. But U.S. political desires to start some local operation which could achieve concrete gains combined with Diệm ‘s preference for a pacification effort in an area of strategic importance led to the initial effort in March 1962, “Operation SUNRISE,” in Bình Dương Province north of Saigon (Sài Gòn).” See The Pentagon Papers

Gravel Edition, Volume 2, Chapter 2, “The Strategic Hamlet Program, 1961-1963,” pp. 128-159, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971).

March 22 GVN launches Operation Sunrise, a test of the Strategic Hamlet program.

Rather than beginning in the Mekong Delta, Diệm chooses the heavily infiltrated province of Bình Dương, north of Saigon (Sài Gòn). This was a heavily NLF-infiltrated area rather than one of mini-mat penetration, as Thompson had urged. But planning—as distinct from operations—continued on the Delta plan and strategic hamlets were constructed in a variegated, uncoordinated pattern throughout the spring and early summer.” See The Pentagon Papers

Gravel Edition, Volume 2, Chapter 2, “The Strategic Hamlet Program, 1961-1963,” pp. 128-159, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971).

April 15 Marine Helicopter squadrons arrive in Sóc Trăng province, southwest of Saigon (Sài Gòn), as part of Operation Shufly. The Marines are to provide air support to ARVN troops fighting the NLF.

Apri-30-May 1 Defense Secretary McNamara told reporters he was “very encouraged” with what he saw during his two-day visit to Vietnam, and added that it was “doubtful” that U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam would be increased above their present levels.

May 8 Pathet Lao forces attack Phoumi Nosavan’s garrison in Nam Tha in northwest Laos. The defenders flee across the Mekong River.

May 15 Kennedy sends 5,000 Marines and 50 jet fighters to Thailand in response to the recent Communist attacks in Laos.

June   Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) holds its first convention in Port Huron, Michigan and becomes the first student organization to take a position against the growing war in Vietnam.

June 23 Souvanna Phouma forms a new coalition government in Laos with the neutralists, Pathet Lao and rightists all having seats in the cabinet.

July 23 After receiving optimistic reports on the situation in Vietnam, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara requests the development of a plan to build up the RVNAF and phase-out U.S. involvement by 1965. 14 nations sign the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos in Geneva. The agreement states that all foreign military personnel are to leave the country by October 7th 1962.

July 31The Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam (AATTV) begins to arrive in South Vietnam to assist with teaching the ARVN.

August 14 General Paul Harkins, head of MACV, is instructed to develop a Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam (CPSVN) in accordance with McNamara’s directive of July 23.

October 6 All U.S military personnel, including Special Forces, are withdrawn from Laos, in accordance with the Geneva neutrality agreement.

October 22-28 Cuban missile crisis.

December The newly formed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in a prospectus written by Bob Ross avows that “As long as we are involved in a commitment to support men like Diệm in South Viet Nam, we will be forced to face revolution and discontent.”

December 31 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam: 11,300.

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