129. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • General Abrams’ Report on Laos Operation

We asked General Abrams for his assessment to get a feel for how the operation was going and what difficulties there might be. General Abrams has given us a detailed reply (Tab A).2 The specific items on which we asked Abrams’ views and a summary of his reply follow.

Comparison of actual ARVN troop movements and time phasing with the original plan. Execution has been more deliberate than envisioned because:
General Lam is insuring adequate flank security for establishing fire support bases
Roads in Laos were in worse condition than expected
General Lam was assuring protection of his lines of communication against contingencies of bad weather and enemy interdiction.
Any changes in objectives. Time phasing has been extended for reasons noted above and President Thieu has directed additional effort on Routes intersecting Route 9 to destroy enemy supplies in these areas. The principal objective remains the disruption of base area 604 and cutting of the enemy line of communication. The ARVN control of Route 92 achieved this objective in part.
ARVN performance to date. General Abrams considers it very good and professional.
Intensity and effect of enemy resistance. It has been continuous and about as expected. Early contact with two enemy regiments, however, led to General Lam’s decision to bolster his flank security. Five enemy regiments are in the area and one more could reinforce in 48 hours.
Estimate of when ARVN will establish blocking position across enemy supply lines. Route 92 is already blocked; routes through and west of Tchepone will be blocked in about eight to ten days.
The enemy supply situation and effect on enemy strategy. Supply reserves south of Tchepone are limited. Occupation of Tchepone will disrupt the entire logistical structure. LOCs farther west are subject to interdiction.
Effects of enemy anti-aircraft on U.S. helo operations. Losses have been less than anticipated given the total number of sorties flown.
Effects of weather. Operations were slowed by bad weather for the first two days. Since then the weather has been good. Increasing cloudiness may have some effect on helo operations over the next few days.

General Abrams also notes:

  • —Primary objective remains to cut and disrupt the trail system. Exploitation of enemy caches is secondary.3
  • —The operation will continue as planned but at a slower pace than visualized because of the need for flank security. Our support is fully available for continued ARVN movement.
  • —The operation has gone well despite the delays caused by weather and bad road conditions. General Abrams believes that the operation will move west at the earliest possible time and is satisfied with the way it is going.

Neither Secretary Rogers nor Secretary Laird is aware that we asked General Abrams for these views. It is important that we maintain the security of this exchange particularly as concerns Secretary Laird in order to protect General Abrams.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 81, Vietnam Subject Files, Viet Operations in Laos and Cambodia, Vol. III. Top Secret; Specat; Exclusively Eyes Only. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads, “The President has seen.”
  2. Attached but not printed is a retyped copy of Abrams’ reply, message RUMUHTA 9301 to Moorer, February 14.
  3. Nixon underlined most of this sentence and highlighted it in the margin.
  4. Nixon highlighted this paragraph and wrote “OK” in the margin.