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243. Memorandum From Jonathan Howe of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Plan for All-South Vietnamese Operations Against Enemy Sanctuaries in Cambodia

Attached at Tab A is a report from MACV on the initial planning conference held today to consider an all- ARVN operation against enemy base camps in Cambodia.2 (FYI: Your memorandum requesting such a plan was sent to Secretary Laird last Friday morning. Tab B)3 The MACV report indicates that:

  • —The concept of an all-South Vietnamese operation is acceptable to the South Vietnamese armed forces.
  • —The South Vietnamese apparently do not want to attack targets deep in Cambodia (this parallels the request from Lon Nol received this morning that the U.S. intervene to keep the South Vietnamese from operating “deep into” Cambodian territory. Tab C4)
  • —The South Vietnamese favor hitting base areas which pose the most direct threat to their country and are unenthusiastic about any operations along the Mekong.
  • —Present planning is centered on base areas 706/367 and the Crow's Nest area. These areas are in the Parrot's Beak in the Svay Rieng Province. (See map at Tab D)5 Penetration into this area has been restricted to 7 to 8 kilometers at the request of the province chief.
  • —The South Vietnamese staff will need time to develop plans and effect coordination. The plan will be forwarded as soon as possible.

The covering memorandum from Secretary Laird's office6 emphasizes that coordination with the RVNAF leadership is the time-consuming factor at the present time.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1324, Unfiled Material, 1970, 3 of 11. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information.
  2. Tab A was MACV telegram 5307, April 21, 1141Z, from Abrams to McCain and for information to Wheeler; attached but not printed.
  3. Tab B was an April 16 memorandum from Kissinger to Laird noting that MACV plans for ground operations against Cambodian sanctuaries involved considerable U.S. participation and asking for a plan for successfully attacking them using only South Vietnamese forces “in order to provide maximum flexibility in our planning.” Attached but not printed. For a summary of MACV planning using U.S. forces, see Document 219.
  4. Reference is to an attached telegram from Phnom Penh containing a letter from Lon Nol to Nixon; see footnote 4, Document 240.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. The April 21 memorandum from Pursley to Kissinger is attached but not printed.