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

SUBJECT

  • Captured Document on Vietnamese Communist Strategy

At Tab A is a captured document2 which you may find interesting. It appears to be a COSVN-level paper which assesses the successes [Page 210]of the recent Communist offensive and their goals in the upcoming summer campaign in a most candid and objective fashion. Following are some of the highlights from the document:

The Spring Offensive

  • —Communist military efforts in the cities and suburban areas were “not very successful.” The guerrilla movement and the buildup of Communist manpower was poor and slow. More Americans were killed than in Tet 1968, however. (True)
  • —The most significant effect of the offensive, especially the death of U.S. troops, was to boost the anti-war movement in the U.S. Since the Communists did not conduct any offensive phase from September to February, President Nixon thought they had lost the initiative and that he could take a firm stance at the negotiations. The February offensive upset that plan.
  • —The internal situation of the U.S. is now critical and the Communists must seek victories through further campaigns to turn things decisively their way.3

The Summer Offensive

—The Communists must put a lot of subjective effort into the summer campaign and must avoid any tendency to relax or become demoralized.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 137, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, Vol. IV, 4/24/69–5/18/69. Confidential. Sent for information. A stamped note on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Attached was an undated and retyped captured document entitled, “Success of Spring Offensive.”
  3. Nixon highlighted this paragraph and wrote the following note: “H.K. note—we may have to hit Breakfast on a regular basis.”