157. Message From the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Abrams) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (McCain)1

27954. Subject: B–52 Usage in the Hanoi/Haiphong Area (TS). Reference: CINCSAC 162238Z May 72 (TS/Specat).2

  • 1. (TS) Reference proposes use of B–52’s in the Hanoi/Haiphong area as a bad weather alternative to Tacair and suggests alternatives for providing B–52 support for MACV.
  • 2. (TS) I can think of no diversion of assets from the battle for South Vietnam that would be as damaging to the outcome of this war at this time than the premature redirection of the Arc Light effort. Night and day in all kinds of weather since 30 March the B–52’s have pounded directly and relentlessly at the enemy forces attempting to overrun this country. The fact that RVN is still in this war at all is due to the B–52’s [Page 581] and Tacair. I am convinced that we have hurt the enemy badly but we have to go on punishing him at the points where the war is to be won or lost until this thing is decided. I believe that we are approaching a condition in which the B–52 effort and additional Tacair should and will be shifted away from the close-in life or death targets to the enemy logistics system in country, in the border area of Laos and in RP 1. The An Loc situation in the past few days has improved to the extent that we are beginning to reduce the B–52 effort there. We still must get the close-in enemy off our backs in the Kontum and Hue areas. We are watching what appears to be an eastward shift of the enemy logistics system into the western DMZ–Khe Sanh–Ashau area. We are now completing our targeting against this system and will shift the effort to it as quickly as the Kontum and Hue situations permit. We are hurting the enemy in the KontumHue areas with the B–52’s and Tacair and it is now a matter of timing as to when we can hurt him most by shifting to the close-in logistics that he will need to resupply and re-equip his units for the final KontumHue efforts. I am watching this carefully. We have developed appropriate B–52 targets in the area north of the DMZ that will have an immediate effect on his efforts in SVN and Tacair is working this area every day now. I do not question that B–52 strikes against the Hanoi/Haiphong area will hurt the enemy but they are of little significance if, in the meantime, we lost the battle for South Vietnam. As you know, the efforts of 3 CVA’s plus Tacair from 7th Air Force are already being applied to targets in the northern portions of NVN. I am opposed to the diversion of B–52’s to that area at this time.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 62, COMUSMACV General Service Messages, May 16–31, 1972. Top Secret; Immediate; Specat; Exclusive. Repeated to Moorer; Commander, Strategic Air Command, General John C. Meyer; and Commander, 8th Air Force, Lieutenant General Gerald W. Johnson.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)