130. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

Secure TELECON/OUT—to MG Haig

CJCS:—I tried to get a hold of Henry and need to clear up a couple of points. Point one is at the meeting this afternoon,2 who is going to be there and how much do they know. I do not want to spill the beans.

Haig:—When the time is set just the principals will be there, Johnson, Helms, and so on.

CJCS:—Point Two is assure them wouldn’t know that we have gone that far.

Haig:—Not a chance of it real convulsion over here yesterday.

CJCS:—That is fine, the real important thing and as I told you I have had the Chiefs together all enthusiastic about doing it. They think we should do it.

Haig:—For your information we went out back channel to Bunker and asked that he talk to Abrams and both are elated at it.3 Abrams said he did not need more assets constant requirement between 200 and 300 a day to keep this thing effective and if he needs more assets ask for them. He said he did not think he needed any.

CJCS:—Work up interdiction plan use something like between 300–400 a day. HAK wanted between that and 3 up there anyway. Additional 4 squadrons and Saratoga. Abrams is not going to lose anything compared to what he has had and I told HAK I am sure Mel will approve it. Last night I was talking to McCain about great question could send 3 cruisers up there at once, Newport News 4 just arriving and [Page 483] to shelling while other thing going on. Main thing I am going to get Laird going on to do that. Two 6 inch cruisers and one 8 inch cruiser and the 8 inch can reach 3 of the SAM sites. Another thing, I told HAK actually turned out we had quite a discussion last night back and forth about the duration of the sterilization of the mines and 116 days is what it is instead of 180. In message we should not change it. If you open up mines would not have water tight integrity but it will be 4 months instead of 6.

Haig:—I think that is better.

CJCS:—All kinds of flexibility you can replenish. I have instructed them to be sure put some of the mines in at 69 reason for that following up there until sometime 7–8 ten Red River Valley temperature of the weather regardless of what the weather it. President would not be worried yesterday about whatever he wants to say. I understand in his talk will be firm if we have any gap as soon as fog burns off if we days at this moment now conducting.

Haig:—Refers to going on now.

CJCS:—That is right, the point if we don’t do it exactly like we want to then and there going on if it needs correcting, I am not suggesting it will need correcting. Establish point 72 hours there to finish off during the day finish off just about starting at 0900. On this command thing I got my people working on it.5 The whole problem as you well know, has been the fact Abrams is getting double instructions only problem in terms of command main problems in personality we ought to be able to get some people there to support senior Air Force and Navy officers to put work with whoever is going to take Abrams’ place and work out that way. Hope it will not disrupt the system interdiction plan mining, blockade plan. That fellow simply will not be able to do that particularly cut in communications down tight expand out if get into other things does not have time anyway. I am just trying to figure out what to say to the President and, at the same time, not to go into convulsions. I do not think we can afford convulsions there.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret.
  2. Moorer was referring to the upcoming WSAG meeting. Although no record of the meeting has been found, Kissinger’s Record of Schedule indicates that it began at 6:08 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) According to talking points prepared for Kissinger by Haig, May 7, the purpose of the meeting was to review contingency planning for possible actions against North Vietnam. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–087, Washington Special Actions Group Meetings, WSAG Meeting Vietnam 5/7/72)
  3. Backchannel message 88 from Bunker to Kissinger, May 7. (Ibid., Box 414, Backchannel, Backchannel Messages, From Amb. Bunker—Saigon, 1972)
  4. U.S. Navy heavy cruiser that operated off the coast of Vietnam from May through November 1972.
  5. Reference is to the President’s brief attempt in early May to reform the command system that controlled the air war over North Vietnam. For a discussion of the issue, see Thompson, To Hanoi and Back, p. 221, and Kissinger, White House Years, p. 1112.