166. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • General Abrams’Assessment

Attached at Tab A is a comprehensive report from General Abrams on the situation in South Vietnam.2 You are already familiar with much of the information and the summary section was incorporated in the report received earlier today from Ambassador Bunker.3 However, the following new points are of particular interest:

Military Region 1

  • ARVN command and control of forces in MR–1 has improved significantly with the arrival of Lt. General Truong.
  • —A viable replacement system has been established and the personnel strength of the 1st ARVN Division is higher now than it has been at any time during this campaign.
  • —Twenty crews have been trained on TOW anti-tank weapons and 6 anti-tank helicopters were moved to the Hue area on May 18.

Military Region 2

  • —As in MR–1, new leadership has improved the situation in MR–2.
  • —The newly assigned TOW systems and TacAir have been effective against recent tank attacks and have built ARVN confidence in their ability to cope with enemy armor.
  • —The situation around Kontum remains serious but the enemy is taking a heavy beating from the massive air power being devoted to the area.
  • —The South Vietnamese have decided to fight the main battle of the central highlands in Kontum. Pleiku is only lightly held.
  • —Because of damage inflicted by air strikes, improvement in leadership and correction of command and control deficiencies there is a reasonable chance that Kontum can be held.
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Military Region 3

  • —The enemy has suffered severe damage and is believed to have pulled most of his surviving forces away from An Loc and is keeping pressure there through fire power alone.
  • —The crisis appears to be past in the province and air support around An Loc is being reduced and shifted to more critical areas.4

Military Region 4

  • —The action in MR–4 continues to be on a small scale with widely scattered ground attacks.
  • —The main concern at the moment is the movement of elements of the 1st NVA Division out of Cambodia into MR–4.
  • —Pacification has been set back in parts of MR–4 but there are presently no major crises.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 130, Vietnam Subject Files, HAK/Pres Memos (NVA) Situation in Vietnam (May 72). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Not attached. The report is in message 30984 from Abrams to McCain, May 19. (Ibid., RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 62, COMUSMACV General Service Messages, May 16–31, 1972)
  3. See Document 165.
  4. The President commented in the margin: “ Haig —continue to hit them when they break off.”