Yes, President Kennedy did not fully withdraw troops from Vietnam. Although he increased military assistance to South Vietnam, it was under his successor, President Johnson, that the Vietnam War escalated further.
President John F. Kennedy did not fully withdraw troops from Vietnam, although he did implement a policy of increasing military assistance to South Vietnam. However, it was under his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, that the Vietnam War escalated further.
Despite recognizing the challenges and complexities of the situation in Vietnam, President Kennedy deemed it crucial to support South Vietnam as part of the broader Cold War strategy against communism. In his 1961 inaugural address, he stated, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” This sentiment underscored his commitment to preventing the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.
Kennedy gradually increased the number of American military advisors in Vietnam, aiming to bolster the capabilities of the South Vietnamese Army. By the end of his presidency in 1963, there were around 16,000 American troops stationed in Vietnam. Kennedy’s approach prioritized assisting the South Vietnamese government in countering the communist insurgency led by the Viet Cong.
Upon Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, President Johnson inherited the escalating conflict in Vietnam. In response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, Johnson sought and received a Congressional resolution that authorized the use of military force in Vietnam. This marked a turning point, as it led to a substantial increase in American troop levels and the commencement of full-scale war.
Interesting facts on the topic of the question:
The number of American military advisors in Vietnam grew from roughly 800 during the Eisenhower administration to around 16,000 by the end of Kennedy’s presidency.
President Kennedy was skeptical of a large-scale U.S. intervention in Vietnam. In meetings with his advisors, he expressed concern about getting “bogged down” in a conflict similar to the French experience in Indochina.
Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 left the Vietnam policy unfinished, with his successor, President Johnson, having to make critical decisions that would significantly shape the course of the war.
The increased American involvement in Vietnam during the Johnson administration led to a substantial rise in the number of troops deployed. By 1968, the number reached its peak with approximately 536,000 troops.
Table: American Troop Levels in Vietnam
Year | Troop Levels
1960 | 900
1961 | 2,000
1962 | 9,000
1963 | 16,300
1964 | 23,300
1965 | 184,300
1966 | 385,300
1967 | 485,600
1968 | 536,100
To provide a quote on the topic, renowned journalist, Walter Cronkite, famously stated on his CBS News broadcast in 1968, “To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.” This quote reflects the challenging and prolonged nature of the Vietnam War, which began during Kennedy’s presidency but escalated substantially under Johnson.
Response to your question in video format
In this video, President Kennedy addresses the growing conflict in South Vietnam and highlights the United States’ role in providing economic assistance and sending training groups to support the South Vietnamese government. He commends the bravery of the people of South Vietnam in their fight for freedom. Kennedy also acknowledges the need for caution in sharing information that could benefit the enemy and suggests that effective communication with the Vietnamese government is crucial in handling this challenge.
Many additional responses to your query
Conclusion. John F. Kennedy had formally decided to withdraw from Vietnam, whether we were winning or not. Robert McNamara, who did not believe we were winning, supported this decision.
There are only two sources I am aware of that addressed this question on point:
Stanley Karnow – Karnow was a journalist and correspondent who covered Vietnam for all of the US involvement since 1959. In his book, Vietnam: A History [ https://www.amazon.com/Vietnam-History-Stanley-Karnow/dp/0140265473 ], Karnow reported a private yacht party conversation between Kennedy and Kenneth O’Donnell where Kennedy bursted out in frustration threatening to withdraw from Vietnam after his reelection in 1964. This happened upon reading Mike Mansfield’s report on Vietnam. As Karnow noted the statement, Karnow also implied doubt it had any real meaning because Kennedy was making opposite public statements along with policy action to the contrary at the same time.
Robert McNamara – In his book: In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam [ https://www.amazon.com/Retrospect-Tragedy-Lessons-Vietnam/dp/0679767495 ]. McNamara covers this question more than once. However, he admits Kennedy never h…
More interesting on the topic
When did Kennedy withdraw from Vietnam?
Response: October 2,1963
On October 2,1963, President Kennedy made the decision to withdraw the first contingent of U.S. military forces from Vietnam, the initial step toward a major disengagement. This action resulted primarily from the conflicting military assessments that had dogged the administration for months.
Regarding this, What happened with Kennedy and Vietnam? In reply to that: In May 1961, JFK authorized sending an additional 500 Special Forces troops and military advisors to assist the pro‑Western government of South Vietnam. By the end of 1962, there were approximately 11,000 military advisors in South Vietnam.
Why did Kennedy not send troops to Vietnam? Well aware of the domestic political consequences of “losing” another country to the communists, Kennedy could see no viable exit from Vietnam, but he also was reluctant to commit combat troops to a war in Southeast Asia.
Correspondingly, Was Kennedy responsible for the Vietnam War? JFK’s record of escalation in Vietnam also suggests that he would ultimately have gone to war. Despite his caution when dealing with international crises and his refusal to send combat troops to South Vietnam, Kennedy did escalate American involvement there.
In this regard, Did John F Kennedy think about pulling out of Vietnam? His brother said in a 1964 oral history that John F. Kennedy never thought about pulling out of Vietnam, but some modern historians think otherwise. Fifty years ago this week, JFK’s problem was managing the aftermath of a violent Vietnamese coup.
When did the US pull out of Vietnam? In reply to that: First, there is the date: Robert McNamara has written that President Kennedy, at a National Security Council meeting on October 2, 1963, the day after this conversation apparently occurred, decided to pull U.S. forces out of Vietnam by the end of 1965 and to start the process by withdrawing a thousand troops before the end of 1963.
Similarly one may ask, When did JFK withdraw from Vietnam?
The response is: In1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Photograph by Cecil Stoughton, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Forty years have passed since November 22, 1963, yet painful mysteries remain.
In respect to this, How many troops did President Kennedy withdraw in 1963? On October 2, 1963, as we have previously seen, President Kennedy made clear his determination to implement those plans—to withdraw1,000 troops by the end of 1963, and to get almost all the rest out by the end of 1965.