WASHINGTON -- President Johnson announced today that he is dispatching 50,000 more U.S. troops to South Viet Nam almost immediately. He said draft calls would be doubted to 35,000 a month to provide the manpower.
The President, in what he called the "most agonizing and painful duty" of his office, announced the Viet Nam buildup at a news conference carried to the nation by radio and and broadcast to the world. The new forces will raise total U.S. strength in Viet Nam from 75,000 lo 125,000.
Johnson said the 1st Cavalry Division, a crack air assault and infantry outfit stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga., and "certain forces" are being ordered to Viet Nam as soon as possible.
But the President said he had, decided that it was not necessary lo order up the reserves "at this lime." There had been speculation he might call up as many as 150,000 reservists and he did not preclude such action later.
If it should become necessary lo summon the reserves, he said, "I will give the matter careful consideration; and I will give the country due and adequate notice before acting."
The President made no effort to minimize the seriousness of the situation in Viet Nam, saying flatly at one point: "This is war."
Johnson outlined his stepped-up program for meeting the Communist challenge in Viet Nam at a news conference carried to the people on nationwide radio and television. It capped a week-long series of top-level conferences with his aides and congressional leaders.
Johnson said bluntly thai additional forces will be needed n South Viet Nam "and they will be sent."
"This will make it necessary increase our active fighting forces by raising the monthly draft call from 17,000 -- which it now is -- to 35,000; and stepping up our campaign for voluntary enlistments."
At the same time, the President renewed his call for moving the issue of Viet Nam from Ihe battlefield to the conference table." He appealed to "the United Nalions, its officials, or anyone of its 114 members" to help bring an honorable peace.
He said in this connection that he had directed Arthur J. Goldberg, new U.S. ambassador to Ihe United Nations, to present immediately to Secretary General U Thant a letter "requesting that all the resources, energy and immense prestige of the United Nations be employed to find ways lo halt aggression and bring peace in Viet Nam."
But if such avenues do not bring a settlement, he said, "we will persist, if persist we must, until death and desolation have led to the same conference table where others could now join is at so much smaller cost."
He said he had "spoken many times of our objectives in Viet Nam" and so had the government of South Viet Nam.
"Hanoi has set forth its own proposals," Johnson said. "We are ready to discuss their proposals and our proposals, and any proposals of any government whose people may be affected."
At the same lime, he declared that "we intend to convince the Communists that we can not be defeated by force of arms." He added:
"They are not easily convinced. In recent months they have increased their fighting forces and their attacks. I have asked the commanding general -- Gen. (William C.) Weslmoreland -- what more he needs meet a mounting aggression. He has told me. And we will meet his needs."
The President then outlined the increases in combat strength and draft calls.
"We have also discussed with the government of South Viet Nam the steps they will take to substantially increase their own efforts -- on the battlefield and toward reform and progress in the villages," he said.
To pay for the military step-up, Johnson said he will ask Congress for a limited addition to the defense appropriation bill now pending before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"These steps, like our actions in the past, are carefully measured to do what must be done to bring about an end to aggression and a peaceful settlement," the President said. "We do not want an expanding struggle, with consequences no one can foresee. Nor will we bluster or bully or flaunt our power.
"But we will not surrender and we will not retreat.
"For behind our pledges lie the determination and resources of the American nation.
"Once the Communists know, as we know, that a violent solution is impossible, then a peaceful solution will be inevitable.
The last draft call, issued Friday, was for September and called for the induction of 17,000 men for the Army. This was Ihe same as the July quota but 500 more than was requested for August.
The draft rate dipped to a recent low of 3,000 last February but was stepped up to 15,000 in March and has remained between 16,000 and 17,000 since then.