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158. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Sir Robert Thompson's Report

I attach Sir Robert's written report on his trip to Vietnam (Tab A).2 Although you are familiar with many of the points made in it,3 I have summarized the major points below.

  • —There has been great improvement in the military and political picture, and we have a winning position. We need continued application [Page 515]of the “do it yourself” concept for the GVN and confidence in correctness of our policy.
  • —North Vietnamese army capability in SVN has been substantially reduced, but this could be remedied by a high level of infiltration.
  • —The VC military structure has been sadly hurt and should continue to weaken; the party political structure is still largely intact, however, and the VC still have the capability to recover if the pressure eases.
  • —Enemy activity will continue along present lines over the next few months, but the Communists may try a spectacular short offensive after March 1970.
  • —A long-range danger is a peace campaign backed by the Communists in the 1971 elections using someone like Dzu as the front man.
  • —It is also possible that the VC will recover in the countryside after 1971 and a large scale draw-down of U.S. forces and aid.
  • —Present U.S. strategy in SVN is correct. There should be more concentration on the key provinces, better organization of our resources, and more continuity in our policy, however.
  • —He does not presume to judge the rate at which we can withdraw our forces. This will depend on our periodic, over-all assessments of the situation.

Recommendation:

I recommend that we send copies of the report to the Secretaries of State and Defense and to the Director, CIA, asking for their comments and suggestions on dealing with the problem areas raised by Sir Robert.

This action would help assure that we get maximum value from his insight and suggestions.

If you approve, I will undertake to request comments from the concerned Departments.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 92, Vietnam Subject Files, Sir Robert Thompson, 1970. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. In a December 2 briefing memorandum for the President in anticipation of his meeting with Thompson, Kissinger summarized Thompson's findings and suggested that Thompson produce a written report of his trip. Kissinger also suggested that Nixon ask for Thompson's views on Vietnamization, whether he believed the improvement in the GVN's position in the countryside was due mainly to improvements in security or whether there was growing political support as well, and to convey his appreciation for Thompson's time and effort. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 92, Vietnam Subject Files, Sir Robert Thompson 1970) Nixon and Thompson met at the White House on December 3, 5:38–6:52 p.m.; no other record of this meeting has been found. (President's Daily Diary, December 3; ibid., White House Central Files)
  4. Nixon initialed the approve option on December 20.