McNamara commissioned what has come to be known as the Pentagon Papers--a massive top-secret history of the U.S. role in Indochina. The result was approximately 3,000 pages of narrative and more than 4,000 pages of appended documents--about 2.5 million words. .
Forty-seven volumes cover U.S. involvement in Indochina from World War II through May 1968, the month the peace talks began in Paris. Among other things, the Pentagon Papers document the activities of sabotage and terror warfare against North Vietnam beginning in 1954 and the moves that encouraged and influenced the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. The papers represent the most complete secret archives of government decision-making on Indochina. Rarely has a collection of documents similar to these papers come to light in modern history. .
Included in the papers is McNamara's December 1963 memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson summarizing the situation in Vietnam as very disturbing. "Current trends, unless reversed in the next 2 3 months," he said, "will lead to neutralization at best and more likely to a Communist-controlled state." A coup had just been completed, and the new leader of a military revolutionary council, General Duong Van Minh, and his generals were so occupied with political affairs that military operations were suffering. .
McNamara highlighted the "Country Team" as the second major weakness and wrote that it was poorly informed and not working to a common plan. He stated flatly: "Lodge [Henry Cabot Lodge, ambassador to South Vietnam, 1963 1967] has virtually no official contact with Harkins [General Paul Harkins, first commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV)]. Lodge sends in reports of military implications without showing them to Harkins and does not show Harkins important incoming traffic. My impression is that Lodge simply does not know how to conduct a coordinated administration.