2. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the Station in Saigon 1

00931. Joint State/DOD/CAS message. Ref: CAS Saigon 4293.2 National Security Action Memorandum No 273 dated 26 November 633 contains a paragraph, no 8, which addresses itself to operations into Laos from South Vietnam. This paragraph makes it clear that operational responsibility for “such undertakings” should pass from CAS to MACV. This was a clear directive concerning the transfer of responsibility for cross border operations. Subsequently, CINCPAC message exclusive for Gen Harkins, DTG 302350Z, containing CINCPAC’s comments on Oplan 34B–64,4 stated that Oplan 34B–64 had been well received and that there was a need for CAS Vientiane and MACV/CAS Saigon to work together to develop a combined plan for actions in Laos. CINCPAC concluded with the request that MACV initiate discussions of these operations with CAS Saigon and advise results. On 21 December, the decision was made at the Secretary of Defense level that DOD would not recommend operations across the Laos border pursuant to MACV Oplan 34B–64 because the political risks would exceed the probable results. However, the Secretary of Defense noted that highly effective CAS operations from within Laos along the Lao frontier should be expanded and the Kha operation developed, at least to cover this area, for intelligence purposes as the first stage. This decision was transmitted to Vientiane and Saigon by CAS Washington on the same date. This was amplified in a subsequent CAS message from Washington on 17 January to Saigon5 which made two principal points: (1) that Vientiane had authority to expand its own operations in areas adjacent to South Viet nam, [Page 7]and (2) that CAS Saigon would limit its role in the cross border field to that of advisor to MACV in any future MACV planning for cross border operations into Laos from South Vietnam.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Special Category Messages, Vol. I, 11/63–1/65. Secret; Exclusive; No Night Action. Sent to Saigon exclusive for Lodge, Harkins, and the Station Chief; repeated exclusive to Honolulu for Felt, Department of State for Hilsman, OSD for McNamara, JCS for Taylor and Anthis, and the White House for McGeorge Bundy.
  2. In this joint Embassy-MACV-CAS telegram, February 4, the Station in Saigon reported that no paramilitary cross border operations into Laos were being conducted under U.S. auspices, nor were any planned for early implementation. It asked for a review of the status of those operations. (Ibid., Laos, Vol. I, 11/63–4/64)
  3. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. IV, pp. 637 640. In addition to the transfer from CIA to MACV, paragraph 8 suggested that a plan should be developed and submitted to “Higher Authority” for covert military operations up to a line 50 kilometers inside Laos, along with political plans for minimizing the international hazards of such an undertaking. The plan was to have a “redefined method of political guidance,” since timing and character of these operations could have an “intimate relation to the fluctuating situation in Laos.”
  4. This telegram outlining plans for cross border operations has not been found.
  5. Not further identified.