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


  • Meetings with President Thieu

Ambassador Bunker has conveyed your message of support to President Thieu2 who expressed appreciation and great pleasure in receiving it. President Thieu was obviously encouraged and “tremendously [Page 403] pleased” by this reaffirmation of your strong support. His mood is decidedly positive.

During the course of the conversation,3 President Thieu stated that the troops were willing and able to fight; there had been serious defects in leadership, organization and planning. He outlined changes which are being made to improve the military leadership:

  • —General Lam, the Commander of MR–1, will be relieved by General Truong, the highly-regarded Commander of MR–4.
  • —The Commander of the 21st ARVN Division, which had been sent to reenforce MR–3, will take over command of MR–4.
  • —The Deputy Commander of the Airborne Division will take command of the 21st Division.
  • —It has been agreed that General Dzu, the MR–2 Commander, should be replaced but his successor has not yet been determined.
  • —The Commander of MR–3, General Minh, has been told he must act decisively and kill the enemy.

Based on his meeting with his military commanders, President Thieu plans the following steps:

  • —As soon as the situation in the An Loc area is cleared up, the Airborne Division will be reassembled and prepared to move to MR–1. Two Airborne battalions are being moved from Pleiku to Saigon immediately. The airborne together with the Marines may be able to organize some defensive moves in the Hue area.
  • —Either the 9th or the 21st ARVN Division will be used in MR–3, MR–4, or Cambodia as a mobile reserve force.

In discussing reports from U.S. observers of a defeatest attitude in Hue and surrounding villages, Ambassador Bunker made several suggestions for demonstrating the backing of the national leadership for those fighting in Hue. President Thieu agreed with the assessment of the situation and proposed to accompany the new MR–1 commander to Da Nang and Hue tomorrow.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 56, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Situation Reports, Feb.–July 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. Message 83 from Bunker to Haig, May 3, is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 107, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam Negotiations, Paris Negotiations, January 25, 1972–January 1973.
  3. Bunker reported on the conversation in message 6374 from Saigon, May 3. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 241, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Cables, January 1970–December 1974) Abrams’s report of the same meeting, also dated May 3, is ibid., Box TS 56, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Situation Reports, Feb.–July 1972. A notation on Abrams’s report indicates the President saw it.