148. Memorandum From the Director of the Joint Staff (Vogt) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer)1


  • White House Query
The President called over about 0820 hours, this morning, asking for an update on the situation in Laos and Cambodia. When apprised of the fact that you were absent, he asked to speak to me. I was called out of the Morning Briefing for this purpose. The President asked the status of Thieu’s decision to continue the operation. Harry Train, anticipating this query, had permitted me to read the latest message from Abrams to you on this subject. I told the President that Thieu was relaxed and confident, and desired to keep the pressure up on the enemy and had made no decision to pull the forces out prematurely. The President said he had heard reports that they might want to leave early, and I told him that there was no indication from Thieu that he would, in fact, leave before the job was done. The President indicated that it would be bad, politically, if we did leave prematurely, since certain people would charge that we had been forced out and that the mission had failed. He, then, asked me how the operation was proceeding, and I told him that we continue to find additional caches, and that the enemy was clearly suffering heavy casualties.
The President’s primary concern, and, I think, the real reason for his call, was the strike in the North. He asked why it had not gone. I told him it was strictly a matter of weather. He said can you assure me that it’s weather only, and that it is not someone “interpreting” his instructions. I had assured him it was strictly weather, and that I would be in contact with General Clay very shortly, and that I would reaffirm this, personally. The President said he wanted it made absolutely clear that this strike was to go, and that it was to go in a timely manner when weather permitted, and that there should be no restraints placed on it.2 He, then, asked if we were restricting our bombing in Southeast [Page 452] Asia in support of Lam Son because of funding limitations. I assured him that we were not, and that you had sent messages to the field authorizing the maximum sortie capability that the forces could generate, and that funding and bombing limitations were not factors.
I immediately called General Clay on the secure phone, and reaffirmed with him that weather was the sole consideration for his not having launched the strike. He assured me the forces are ready, and, in fact, anxious to go. I relayed this information to Henry Kissinger so that he could reassure the President. I have not discussed this conversation with anyone since I was, in fact, acting for you in what, I am certain, the President wanted to be a highly confidential matter between you and him. This is the only copy of this memorandum.
John W. Vogt
Lieutenant General, USAF
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret. Prepared by Vogt.
  2. Nixon’s concern that the weather was interfering with air strikes was evident on March 11, when he and Kissinger discussed the North Vietnamese casualty figure from the day before. According to a tape recording of their conversation, Kissinger explained that the B–52s were quite effective—accounting for 361 casualties on March 10—when weather permitted. After Nixon’s insistence that the strikes continue, Kissinger replied, “Well, it’s the weather, Mr. President. The passes would be ideal; they’re choked-full now. But we can’t do it until that front moves out of there because we don’t want to do a half-baked strike.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation 466–12)