This publication documents the administration's escalation of the Vietnam War from a commitment of 16,000 advisers in 1963 to that of over 500,000 combat troops by the end of 1968. It details such controversial issues as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, initiation of bombing attacks on North Vietnam, decision to commit combat troops, and efforts to maintain public support for the war. From the documents in the file, one can clearly sense the growing fears of collapse in South Vietnam, the sometimes acute divisions among Johnson's advisers, and the president's own caution.
Records include correspondence, memoranda, press briefings and releases, and others from executive departments, agencies and military establishment. Also, materials submitted to the White House from pro- and anti-Vietnam war organizations and individuals. Correspondents include cabinet members, agency, department, and office directors and staff; presidential advisors; and business leaders, civil rights leaders, physicians and scientists, university professors and presidents, and past U.S. presidents.
Topics of these White House Central Files on Vietnam include: Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Congress; chemical warfare; resolutions by state governors supporting the war; congressional briefings and hearings; "Why Vietnam" debate; bombing program and halt; peace efforts; activities of veteran groups; legality issue of the war; Chinese airspace violations; the movie Green Berets; and data on the progress of the war.