Tonkin Gulf

Beard, Barrett T. [LTCDR/USCG (Ret.)] "The Oilcan that Started a War." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly.

Clark comment: Reference here is to an event of 19 September 1964. This is separate from the events of 2 and 4 August 1964.

1. "Part One: Secrets." 24, no. 1 (Jan. 2008).

"Our rules of engagement at that time were ill defined. Our mission was simply to protect our, then defenseless, aircraft carriers by stopping threatening torpedo boats coming out of North Vietnam."

Drea, Edward J. "Tonkin Gulf Reappraisal: 40 Years Later." MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History (Summer 2004). []

"Editor's note:... In the last several years, more information [about the Gulf of Tonkin incident] has been revealed through the declassification of some documents involving sensitive U.S. radio intercepts of North Vietnamese communications. We asked Ed Drea to write an article that would give our readers the flavor of the confusion during some of the most tense hours in U.S. history, when a shooting situation that occurred in one time zone sparked rapid-fire questions, analyses, and decisions in three other time zones."

Goulden, Joseph C. Truth Is the First Casualty: The Gulf of Tonkin Affair -- Illusion and Reality. New York: Rand McNally, 1969.

Hanyok, Robert J. "Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August 1964." Cryptologic Quarterly 19, no. 4/20, no. 1 (Winter 2000-Spring 2001): 1-55. []

The author calls this narrative "the complete SIGINT version of what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin between 2 and 4 August 1964." This "new version ... is based on the discovery of an enormous amount of never-before-used SIGINT material." This material tells "a different story": no North Vietnamese attack occurred on 4 August 1964. Hanyok also maintains that "only SIGINT that supported the claim that the communists had attacked the two destroyers was given to administration officials."

Lloyd R. "Joe" Vasey [RADM/USN (Ret.)], "Tonkin: Setting the Record Straight," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 136, no. 8 (Aug. 2010): 66-71, argues that "there are serious flaws in Hanyok's analysis" and that there is eyewitness evidence to argue that a North Vietnamese attack of 4 August 1964 did take place.

See also, Kevin Whitelaw, "The Attack that Wasn't: How Erroneous Intelligence Reports Led to a Previous War," U.S. News & World Report, 12 Dec. 2005, 42.

McDonald, Dick [CAPT/USN (Ret.)]. "A Footnote to the Gulf of Tonkin Affair: Why the Second Attack Could Not Have Happened, [Part I]." Naval Intelligence Professional Quarterly 14, no. 2 (Apr. 1998): 1-5. [Part II] Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 14, no. 3 (Jul. 1998): 1-4.

Ostensibly a review of Edwin E. Moise, Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, this two-part article is well worth reading on its own, even though the author arrives at the same conclusion as Moise. Part II centers on the author's involvement in the aftermath of the operation, and on how he has arrived at his conclusion.

Moïse, Edwin E. Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Ford, I&NS 12.4, finds that Moïse's work on the Tonkin Gulf incidents of 2 and 4 August 1964 and of U.S. planning prior to deepening involvement in the Vietnam conflict is "a valuable addition to the Vietnam War literature." Moïse believes that the North Vietnamese did not attack on 4 August but avoids crawling into bed with conspiracy theorists, attributing the reports of such an attack to a Clauswitzean fog of war rather than a deliberate effort by the Johnson administration to deceive.

Although McDonald, NIPQ 14.2, disagrees with Moïse's findings on a number of points (but not on the conclusion that the 4 August 1964 attack did not occur), his overall evaluation of the book is very positive. He says that this "is an extraordinarily thorough and well-researched work.... Prof. Moïse does a good job of sorting through all th[e] radar contact data, which to the ships in the heat of the moment provided believable evidence of hostile craft."

See also the letters in the "NIP Forum," NIPQ 15.2, from Moïse and McDonald, as well as from Edward J. Marolda, co-author of the Naval Historical Center's official history covering the Tonkin Gulf incident, The United States Navy and the Vietnam Conflict, Vol. 2: From Military Assistance to Combat, 1959-1965.

Showers, D. M. [RADM/USN (Ret.)]

1. "The Second Gulf of Tonkin Attack: Revisited, Revised, Rejected; ADM Stockdale Remembered." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 21, no. 3 (Sep. 2005): 14.

This is a brief review of the refutation of a second North Vietnamese attack in the Gulf of Tonkin on 4 August 1964.

2. with Dick McDonald [CAPT/USN (Ret.)] "The Tonkin Gulf Attack, August 1964." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 24, no. 2 (Apr. 2008): 4-6.

The author reviews the state of play on assessing the reporting of North Vietnames attacks in the Tonkin Gulf on 2 and 4 August 1964. Yes, there was an attack on 2 August; no, there was no attack on 4 August.

Tuthill, Don. "Tonkin Gulf, 1964." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 9, no. 2 (Apr. 1993): 13-14.

U.S. National Security Agency. "Gulf of Tonkin -- 11/30/2005 and 05/30/2006."

NSA has twice released previously classified information regarding the Vietnam era, specifically the Gulf of Tonkin incident -- 30 November 2005 and 30 May 2006. The releases include articles, chronologies, oral history interviews, SIGINT reports and translations, and other related memoranda.

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