President Kennedy met with his senior military advisors immediatly preceding their departure on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. The Wheeler Mission, named for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, had been proposed by the Joint Chiefs the previous week following the Battle of Ap Bac, the first major confrontation between South Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. The ensuing Wheeler Report would be the third such review that Kennedy would receive in the span of a month. In late December, Sen. Mike Mansfield∇ (D-MT) had toured Indochina and provided Kennedy with a pessimistic account of progress in the war. The State Department's Roger Hilsman and White House aide Michael Forrestal had also visited South Vietnam and had criticized the military's preference for engaging the Vietcong with conventional tactics.