197. Memorandum From the Director, Joint Staff (Seignious) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nutter)1



  • Proposed Radio Operation (U)
(S) Reference is made to your memorandum, subject as above, dated 26 June 1972 in which you requested an appraisal of the Archie Bunker concept.2
(S) The Defense Intelligence Agency performed an independent study in response to the first two requests in your memorandum, drawing on all available intelligence on the broadcasting system of North Vietnam and on the five targets that would be struck in the Archie Bunker attack. Their conclusions (which I support) are as follows:
On the intelligence basis for and probability of actually knocking Radio Hanoi off the air: “Intelligence indicates that the five nominated targets are the primary radio broadcasting facilities used by the North Vietnamese for propaganda and informing the populace of those items the government wants released. They are supplemented by a separate, extensive wired broadcast network, connected to loudspeakers throughout the city of Hanoi. This network relays major Radio Hanoi broadcasts. If the nominated targets are successfully destroyed simultaneously, the probability of knocking Radio Hanoi off the air is very good.”
On the best estimate of Hanoi’s capability to restore broadcasting: “Radio broadcasts from possible substitute facilities probably could not be initiated immediately. Radio broadcasting probably could be restored with greatly reduced efficiency by using local low-powered transmitters, but this might take several hours.”
(S) In your third request, you asked for an appraisal of the importance of the Archie Bunker operation to the success of the overall psychological operations offensive. The Archie Bunker project presents [Page 694] an opportunity to reach a large portion of the North Vietnamese population by taking advantage of North Vietnam’s own internal communication system. Intelligence indicates that tight controls are maintained on the distribution and use of the 500,000 to 600,000 radio receivers in North Vietnam. Sets are registered, the sale of batteries is controlled, some private receivers have been modified to receive broadcasts only on government frequencies, and listening to other than government radio broadcasts is forbidden. The Archie Bunker concept calls for the destruction of Radio Hanoi’s transmitters in the minutes just preceding the major evening news broadcast which is received off the air and relayed live outside Hanoi by a few low-powered local transmitters and by hundreds of wired loudspeaker networks. As each Hanoi transmitter leaves the air, it would be replaced on its own frequency by a broadcast from the Coronet Solo aircraft. This taped broadcast would purport to be an emergency transmission from Radio Hanoi, thus gaining immediate access to Hanoi’s national audience and to the local transmitter and wired loudspeaker networks relaying Radio Hanoi. This access would continue in the Hanoi area until lower-powered replacement transmitters could go on the air, and for longer periods elsewhere, where the Coronet Solo transmissions would be more powerful than Hanoi’s low-power replacements.
(S) Until now, the US psychological warfare offensive against North Vietnam has relied primarily upon leaflets, shortwave broadcasts that require scarce and expensive receivers, and on medium wave (broadcast band) transmissions that can only be heard in North Vietnam at night by those willing to violate the prohibition against listening to foreign broadcasts. Archie Bunker would permit us to reach, for a short period, an audience that might never be available to our other broadcast programs, and would only occasionally see or read a leaflet.
(S) The government of North Vietnam has both historically and currently recognized the threat inherent in any breach in its monopoly on public information. In addition to the restrictions on radio listening mentioned above, they have prohibited citizens from reading or possessing leaflets and have organized campaigns to collect leaflets and destroy them. Radio transmitters are heavily guarded, and the transmitter buildings are protected by blast walls that will require use of guided bombs in any attack against them. The destruction of the transmitters would be a new demonstration of American power carried to the individual citizens of North Vietnam. Secondly, the project would be exploited to bring to the large listening audience, immediately after the attack and in follow-on broadcasts in competition with Hanoi transmissions of reduced effectiveness, the facts on the impact of the war, including the stalemated Northern offensive and the huge losses of the NVA in the South. A credible broadcast that tells the truth and gives the details of the President’s cease-fire proposal and of the lukewarm [Page 695] Chinese and Soviet support for Hanoi should be read by the leadership as a real threat to their control of the country.
Though Coronet Solo aircraft would probably be effective as covert transmitters for only twelve to twenty-four hours, CINCPAC suggests that in the follow-on period the aircraft could be used in many other roles, including overt Psyop broadcasting, deceptive tactical broadcasting, support of notional activities, jamming, and interference with enemy air defense control. An additional bonus benefit would be the utilization of Coronet Solo to replace the USS Blue Ridge Psyop broadcasting when the ship returns to CONUS at the end of July 1972.
(S) The broadcast portion of the Archie Bunker concept relies heavily on the 193d Tactical Electronic Warfare Group (TEWGp) whose Coronet Solo aircraft would be used for Archie Bunker broadcasts. Its base near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was affected by the recent floods. The Coronet Solo aircraft and their transmitters and receivers escaped damage, but some spare parts for electronic equipment were flooded. The damaged spares are unique to Coronet Solo equipment, but they are standard commercial items available for purchase on a quick-reaction basis. A survey team arrived in Harrisburg on 29 June 1972 to make a detailed report by 30 June on the effect of the flood on the 193d TEWGp. An analysis of the implications for the Archie Bunker project will be made as soon as the Air Staff receives the report.
George M. Seignious , II

Lieutenant General, USA
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–75–0155, 381 North Vietnam. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. In his attached June 26 memorandum requesting this appraisal, Nutter noted that “the Secretary of Defense continues to have reservations about the efficacy of proposed operation to knock out Radio Hanoi called Archie Bunker.”