142. Message From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (McCain)1

8619. Subj: NVN Interdiction Plan (U). Refs: A. JCS 7421/090247Z May 72.2 B. CINCPAC 080408Z Apr 67.3 C. COMUSMACV 090155Z May 72.4

This is an execute message.
You are authorized to continue the coordinated campaign initiated on 10 May 72 to interdict/destroy NVN transportation system (Ref A applies). Guidance follows:
Conduct a continuing Tacair and NGFS interdiction effort, augmented by B–52 sorties as required, to destroy and disrupt enemy POL and transportation resources and LOC in NVN; e.g., POL storage and pumping stations, rails and roads, bridges, railroad yards, heavy repair equipment, railroad rolling stock and trucks. Utilization of resources to neutralize defense is also authorized. In addition to attacks against fixed installations, armed reconnaissance is authorized against choke points and other time-sensitive transportation/interdiction targets that develop outside restricted areas.
Air and NGFS operations are authorized as applicable in NVN except within the Chinese buffer zone.5 Minimize civilian casualties and avoid damage to foreign shipping.
The areas of primary responsibility for operations in NVN requested in paragraph three of Reference (C) and which are assigned in paragraph C.F., of Reference (B) will apply.
Maintain a continuing strike/support effort consistent with a determined and early accomplishment of the objectives referenced in sub-paragraph 2A. It appears that arrival of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing and the use of three carriers for NVN targets will permit a substantial sortie level to be sustained without reducing the current level of support for the land battle in RVN. When a tactical emergency requires, COMUSMACV is authorized to divert sorties from this effort.
Initial efforts should give first priority to POL storage facilities as well as rail LOC in area between Chinese buffer zone and Hanoi; Hanoi and Haiphong areas and LOC leading out of Hanoi/Haiphong complex to south. Also, strike remaining lucrative POL and LOC targets in route packages one, two, three and four.
Plan to take maximum advantage of EO/Walleye capability against appropriate transportation targets as well as command and control facilities, and air defenses. You are authorized to seed LOC and key choke points with MK–36/40 weapons.

The following fixed targets are validated for strike by Tacair/NGFS as applicable.

[Omitted here is a list of 53 named targets.]

Authorization includes only those areas that can be targeted with aiming point not closer than 800 feet to non NVN shipping for Tacair; not closer than 250 feet from non NVN shipping for EO/LGB weapons.

Include AAA, SAM defenses and supporting command and control system in your targeting plan as required.
B–52 strikes require approval of target by SecDef 24 hours in advance of proposed TOT except in route package 1.
Fixed transportation/interdiction targets may be added to the validated Tacair/NGFS list at your discretion. Advise JCS of this action. However, targets within a 10 nautical mile radius of Hanoi or Haiphong; or in Chinese Communist buffer zone must be validated by JCS prior to inclusion in this list for any strikes in this area; para 2G above applies.
Reporting instructions.
Routine planning and operational messages pertaining to activities covered herein will normally be classified Secret/Limdis. However the appropriate classification will be determined by the originator based upon contents of the message. Messages pertaining to highly sensitive operations and execute directives will be classified Top Secret/Limdis. Take all precautions to maintain maximum security of these operations.
Operational reports will be as prescribed in CINCPAC Inst 0480.1 and will include OPREP 1 through 5. Report preliminary results [Page 527] of strikes by OPREP 3 Pinnacle with Flash precedence. Follow up with normal OPREP 4 giving information in more detail.
The unclassified nickname Linebacker repeat Linebacker will be used as a flag word in all communications pertaining to all air operations against NVN in lieu of the old flag word Rolling Thunder.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 68, JCS Out General Service Messages, 1–15 May 1972. Top Secret; Flash; Specat; Exclusive. Information copies were sent to Commander, MACV, Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command; Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet; Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces; Commander, 7th Air Force; Commander, 8th Air Force; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces; Commander, Seventh Fleet; and Commander, Carrier Task Force 77.
  2. The May 9 cable was the execute message from Moorer to McCain to initiate the air component of the interdiction campaign against North Vietnam. Attached but not printed.
  3. Not found.
  4. The May 9 cable contains General Abrams’s message of support for the campaign against North Vietnam and his recommendations that the 7th Air Force be immediately tasked to attack critical railways and bridges in the North. Attached but not printed.
  5. American aircraft on missions over North Vietnam could not fly closer than 25 miles to China.