On 20 January 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States. In his inauguration speech, President Kennedy declared:
President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, published by CBS, 16 January 2011 (3:36)
Privately, outgoing President Eisenhower told Kennedy, “I think you’re going to have to send troops…” to Southeast Asia.
President Kennedy’s youthful administration was inexperienced in matters regarding Southeast Asia. Forty-four-year-old Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, along with civilian planners recruited from the academic community, would play a crucial role in deciding the White House strategy for Vietnam over the next several years. Under their leadership, the US would wage a limited war with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to force a political settlement.
The “limited” war would turn into a protracted “quagmire” of a war against an enemy described by Hồ Chí Minh himself as totally committed to victory “…whatever the sacrifices, however long the struggle…until Vietnam is fully independent and reunified.”