394. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State 1

1360. Embtel 1357, Deptel 976.2 Following is Embassy/MACV message:

We believe following principles should be applied in our retaliatory action:
Tit should be as close to tat as possible.
Action should be mounted from SVN.
GVN should participate with U.S.
Tit for tat principle clearly indicates Phuc Yen airfield outside of Hanoi. However, presence of MIG’s and heavy flak defense does not permit VNAF participation. Unless Phuc Yen is hit at the same time or before any other target in NVN, any aircraft now on Phuc Yen will in all probability be dispersed to several fields complicating the problem of subsequently locating and destroying them. Next most suitable and productive target is Vit Thu Lu barracks (target 36)3 followed by other two targets in same general area—Chap Le barracks (target 39) and Xom Bang ammunition depot (target 64). Advantage of these targets is that they are individually within VNAF capabilities with or without U.S. participation. According to our intelligence, Vit Thu Lu appears to be especially and closely related to infiltration.
Thus the combination of maximum effect would be U.S. strike against Phuc Yen (70 sorties) with simultaneous U.S./VNAF strikes against Vit Thu Lu (about 40 sorties) and targets 39 (about 45 sorties) and 64 (about 50 sorties). If attack on Phuc Yen is not approved at this time, I recommend U.S./VNAF strike on Vit Thu Lu and would like to see targets 39 and 64 included.
If a favorable decision on striking Phuc Yen is reached at your noon meeting November 1, attack can be made at first light November 3 Saigon time. Vit Thu Lu and targets 39 and 64 require 24 hours between decision and strike to permit adequate VNAF pilot briefing. Foregoing assumes all U.S. strikes to be made by Second Air Division.
I strongly urge that any strikes approved be viewed as the inauguration of a new policy of tit for tat reprisals in retaliation for major Viet Cong depredations. I recommend that, immediately following completion of strikes, U.S. and GVN jointly announce that such retaliation will henceforth be the rule, making our statement broad enough to cover major acts of sabotage, terrorism, destruction of industrial facilities, and the interruption of arterial rail and highway communications.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Flash; Exdis. Repeated to CIA, JCS, the Secretary of Defense, the White House, and CINCPAC. According to another copy, this telegram was drafted by Johnson and Taylor. (Ibid., Saigon Embassy Files: Lot 68 F 8) Received at 3:23 a.m., November 1.
  2. Telegram 1357 is supra; telegram 976, October 31, reported that the whole situation and Taylor’s recommendations would be considered at a meeting at the highest level at noon on November 1. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)
  3. Reference is to item 36 on the 94-target study list, August 24; see footnote 7, Document 331.