On January 2, 1963, South Vietnamese troops and their U.S. military advisers engaged Vietcong forces in what became known as the Battle of Ap Bac. Three U.S. soldiers died in the skirmish, which received extensive coverage in the American press. Several of those accounts were critical of the South Vietnamese performance, generating searching editorials on the status of the U.S. military advisory effort. Less than a week after the engagement in South Vietnam, President Kennedy invited legislative leaders to the White House to hear a briefing on the campaign from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara∇. During the course of his report, McNamara would propose that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler tour South Vietnam to conduct a more intensive study of the war.