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

1255. Subj: Assessment of Future RVNAF Objectives (U). Refs: A. COMUSMACV 101000Z Jun 72. B. JCS 8243/202221Z Jun 72. C. COMUSMACV 210834Z Jun 72.2

(U) Ref A reviewed the current situation in the RVN, presented a look ahead through Sep 72, and provided the rationale for modifications to the US force structure in the RVN. Ref B requested a short-term assessment of enemy capabilities and possible RVNAF actions.
(U) This message analyzes the results of allied efforts to date and the course of action discussed in Ref A in view of Washington-level considerations.
(S) The steady improvement in the friendly situation in recent weeks has been marked. The main enemy offensives appear to have been blunted. The GVN has retained its stability, and the people have not rallied to support the enemy. The enemy continues to suffer heavy losses in both manpower and material, and the impact of air and naval campaigns in NVN should further aggravate his resupply problems. The delays imposed on the enemy have provided time for the RVNAF to strengthen their defenses and prepare for counteroffensive action.
(TS) It is recognized that the destruction of the enemy’s armed forces and warmaking capacity is being accomplished in an unprecedented manner, and that his objective of exerting influence on the population of the RVN has been frustrated to a large extent. However, retention of present levels of US forces in-theater (including Tacair and B–52s, naval gunfire, amphibious lift, and airlift), as well as necessary levels of budgetary support over any extended period of time, will be extremely difficult. Thus, the prospects of a long stalemate along presently held lines would give rise to the difficulties previously experienced here and can only hasten the reduction in US support levels. This situation presents what is, in all probability, a final opportunity to regain the momentum lost after 30 Mar 72. Accordingly, the intent voiced in Ref A to move ahead and place the RVN in a superior position by Sep 72 is most timely.
(TS) It would appear that the overall goal within the next 3 months should be to reestablish GVN control over the key areas lost as a result of the enemy offensive in order to present the strongest possible negotiating position at the Paris Peace Talks and to demonstrate to the world community the military strength of the GVN. In examining the operations discussed in Ref A, as well as other appropriate territorial objectives, it appears that the highest priority RVNAF operation should be to retake Quang Tri City and the coastal lowlands south of the Cua Viet River, with the ultimate objective of seizing the territory along the coast of the DMZ. The JCS are encouraged that first steps toward this objective are being taken, as reflected in Ref C. The other practicable territorial objectives appear to be to restore GVN control to the areas of MRs 3 and 4 lying west and northwest of Saigon, to restore GVN control to Binh Dinh Province and to remove the enemy threat to Kontum City.
(TS) In view of the foregoing, it is requested that discussions be held with GVN and RVNAF Joint General Staff to underscore the urgency of regaining the territorial initiative and to ascertain the South Vietnamese appraisal of the proposed objectives. In addition, it is requested that CINCPAC provide his assessment of the capability of the RVNAF to accomplish these objectives within the timeframe under discussion, (i.e., through Sep 72) and CINCPAC’s recommended priorities.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 69, JCS Out General Service Messages, 1–30 June 1972. Top Secret; Immediate; Specat; Exclusive. Repeated to General Abrams.
  2. None printed. (Ibid.)