198. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1
- Situation in Long Tieng in Northern Laos
CIA has informed us that the CIA Station Chief in Vientiane believes the situation in the Long Tieng area of Northern Laos, while still serious, is not critical at this time. One North Vietnamese regiment has been badly mauled and is pulling away from Long Tieng, and the remaining units of the 312th and 316th NVA divisions in the general vicinity are under strength. Enemy capabilities have thus been affected.
On the other hand, the situation among the Long Tieng defenders has improved. The energy and enthusiasm displayed by General Dhep, the Thai Commander, have raised morale considerably among the Thai irregulars. Morale is better today than at the beginning of April. This in turn has had a favorable effect on the morale of General Vang Pao and his Meo troops. The Meo performance is now the best in several months.
While it is still possible that the enemy may try to launch one more major attack on Long Tieng before the rainy season begins about mid-May, the strength of the defenders is greater than that of the 4500 enemy troops deployed in the immediate Long Tieng area. If an attack comes, it might be on the birthday of Ho Chi Minh, which is May 19. Even without an attack, the enemy will probably try to maintain positions in and around the Plain of Jars through the rainy season to provide a head start for the next dry season offensive. Nevertheless, Generals Dhep and Vang Pao believe that the Long Tieng situation has been stabilized for the moment and they are beginning to think in terms of offensive action of their own beginning in June.
Comment: Hopefully the CIA assessment is correct. The situation at Long Tieng today is very reminiscent of what it was this time last year, when the North Vietnamese as well as the Long Tieng defenders [Page 607] were showing signs of wear and tear. The North Vietnamese, though, are at the end of a much more difficult logistics system. If Long Tieng does succeed in holding out, the crucial factor will clearly be the Thai troops, both regular and irregular, who have been sent in during the past year.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 549, Country Files, Far East, Laos Vol. VII, Part 2. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Holdridge sent it to Haig under a May 5 covering memorandum, recommending that he sign it. He noted that it was a summary of the latest ERAWAN report. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads, “The President has seen.”↩