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


  • Secretary Laird’s Daily Report on Southeast Asia Situation

Attached is the first of Secretary Laird’s daily reports on the situation in Southeast Asia which have been instituted to keep you abreast of actions related to stepped-up enemy activity.2 The report confirms the following:

[Page 85]

—Delineations of numbers, types and general location of air sorties which were conducted on February 6. The report indicates a total of 292 air sorties were executed; 210 tac air, 33 B–52, 20 gunship and 29 non-attack sorties.

Secretary Laird reports the following actions with respect to operating authorities which you have approved:

  • (1) Sensors have been placed by air north of the PMDL to pick up enemy movements.
  • (2) Authority has been granted to use fixed and rotary wing aircraft, logistic troop lift and medevac for ARVN operations against suspected enemy base areas along the border with Laos and Cambodia.
  • (3) Authority has been granted to employ anti-radar missiles against GCI sites in North Vietnam when MIG’s are airborne and indicate hostile intent.
  • (4) Authority has been granted for tactical air strikes in the northern part of the DMZ whenever General Abrams determines the enemy is using the area in preparation for an attack southward. Long-range artillery and rocket sites north of the DMZ and in range of friendly forces may also be attacked within this authority.
  • (5) Sortie restrictions have been lifted for all air activity.
  • (6) Once the campaign begins, General Abrams has been authorized to engage MIG aircraft airborne from the three North Vietnamese airfields south of 18°.
  • (7) General Abrams’ air assets have been augmented by an F–4 squadron from Clark Air Force Base with 12 aircraft going to Thailand and six to Danang.
  • (8) B–52 sortie rates have been raised to 1200 a month, and an additional directive has been issued which would deploy more B–52’s to raise his capability to 1500 sorties per month.
  • (9) A fourth carrier has been ordered to proceed to Southeast Asia. (The fact of this movement will soon become public.)
  • (10) General Abrams will conduct a sustained all-out, forty-eight hour air effort against enemy targets in the B–3 Front commencing at 6:00 p.m. Washington time on February 9. All air assets in the theater will be concentrated on this effort with the exception of minimum essential support missions around Long Tieng and absolutely essential diversions for other unforeseen critical developments. The third aircraft carrier has been moved to Yankee Station to support this all-out effort which will commence Wednesday evening our time, weather permitting.
  • (11) Thai manpower ceilings have been temporarily removed and the Military Aircraft Command has been alerted to augment General Abrams’ airlift capability should the requirement develop.

[Page 86]

General Abrams reports that all South Vietnamese and American units are on a high state of alert and that II Corps elements are in the best posture possible to meet the expected enemy attack. At my suggestion, Secretary Laird is briefing Secretary Rogers daily on the situation so that he is fully abreast of the authorities which have been given and the situation as it evolves. These briefings will be limited to the Secretary and selected principal assistants to insure that only essential personnel in the Department are cut in on the situation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1330, Unfiled Material [2 of 8]. Top Secret; Sensitive. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. The President wrote the following comment on the memorandum: “K—Is there anything Abrams has asked for I have not approved?”
  2. Attached is Laird’s February 7 report. A notation on the report indicates the President saw it. In a meeting with his senior staff the previous day, Moorer discussed the form he wanted the daily report to take and the purpose he hoped it would serve: “I want us to expand the information in it and not send just what Abe [General Abrams] sends to us, fill in the historical facts and show the cumulative results to keep the President from panicking.” (Moorer Diary, February 7; ibid., RG 218, Records of the Chairman)