251. Editorial Note

On May 27, 1968, the Special Subpanel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) submitted a report to President Johnson entitled “The Effects of Air Strikes in North Vietnam and Laos.” The PSAC report was based on an extensive review of government-wide studies of various aspects of the bombing campaign. The report noted that the bombing had not “significantly weakened the will of the North Vietnamese to carry on,” interdiction had failed to prevent the enemy from increasing his capabilities, and the bombing in Laos had limited impact on the flow of men and materiel southward. “It is our judgment that with prudent planning the enemy should have been able to schedule and move supplies to South Vietnam at a rate which would accommodate the losses inflicted by the bombing campaign in North Vietnam,” the authors of the report concluded. “We believe that factors other than our air campaign in North Vietnam will largely determine the scale of the war in South Vietnam in the future.” None of the possible alternatives for continuing bombing appeared promising, as air attacks only in Laos and South Vietnam would likely be about as effective as more expanded attacks that included targets in North Vietnam. The authors recommended the development of integrated operational plans for air interdiction, procurement of better equipment, increased identification and analysis of the vulnerability of the North Vietnamese logistics system, a review of air-supported anti-infiltration operations, increased photographic reconnaissance of all of North Vietnam, and the continuation and improvement of electronic surveillance operations. (Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 73 A 1304, 1968, 330 VIET 385.1 (Jan.–Dec.))

In CM-3402–68 to the President, June 17, General Wheeler noted the concurrence of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the PSAC recommendations. (Ibid.) On June 21 Secretary of Defense Clifford transmitted Wheeler’s memorandum to the President, as well as another memorandum containing the concurrence of himself and the Secretaries of the Navy and Air Force. (Ibid.)