185. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the Deputy Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Vogt)1

Secure TELECON/OUT—To General Vogt

CJCS:—I just got authority to hit the dam and I just wanted to give you a little background on it so you will know what to do.2 The way I wrote the message was, I called it the Lang Chi HPP and Adjacent Substation, because you had said you were interested in the Substation.

Vogt:—We can hit both.

CJCS:—Hit one at a time. Here is what happened, I will read you the message the way I wrote it and then the way it is coming out. I said, the following target is validated. Then I named the Plant and Substation and I said concentrate strike efforts on transformers adjacent to generator building additionally you are requested to take special precaution to minimize damage to the dam. Authority expires on 1 July, is what I put in there.

Laird got ahold of the thing and I want to read you the way it is coming out. It will be all right, I think you can live with it. The strike effort about generator house right behind transformers about 8 or 10 feet, doesn’t make any difference, hope you can hit both of them. Strike effort will be limited to transformers and substation (I know that you can not be that precise, don’t worry about that, concentrate on generators and transformers, one bomb in generator house would be great) it says additionally you are limited to the use of laser weapons (that is like telling you how to suck eggs) take special precaution to damage to the dam and spillways. This time he changed the authority to 16 June a week, in other words. This thing is exactly the way you are going to get it, it names the HPP and adjacent substation but that is the way it is coming out to you. I think you can live with that all right.

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Vogt:—We will probably go day after tomorrow my time. Work highway bridges tomorrow, work probably with Wings and very carefully go over this. The longrange weather forecast is good for tomorrow and the next day.

CJCS:—I was going to say, be sure you don’t let the 8 days slip by because this thing took me a week to get and I have been drawing pictures of dams and spilling water talking about Noah and the Mount on the floods raining in circles. I think I would not put it off too long.

Vogt:—In all probability we will go day after tomorrow.

CJCS:—When you go in there first time, really cream it.

Vogt:—What I will do is have 3 flights and let the first go in, if they do it I will wave off the others and have them come on back, but if not, we will let the second and third go up there and be sure of it.

CJCS:—Instead of waving the other one off, put him on Substation instead of let’s not waste anything, knock out the Substation since you are up there. You will get the message in an hour.

Vogt:—Read you loud and clear, ready to go. We will take the whole works out.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Secret. Moorer was in Washington; Vogt was in Saigon.
  2. Nixon, Kissinger, and Laird were concerned that the power plant’s proximity to the dam might result in breaching the dam and causing injury or death to those living in the path of the water that would be released. On June 3 at 10 a.m., Nixon and Kissinger discussed Moorer’s request. Kissinger told Nixon: “Unfortunately, it’s close to a big dam and if that dam bursts it’s really going to be something. They claim they can avoid it.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 14, Chronological File)
  3. The Air Force hit the site two days later, using laser guided bombs, and effectively took offline over 50 percent of North Vietnam’s electricity-generating capacity. See Thompson, To Hanoi and Back, p. 251.