198. Summary of Conclusions of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1


  • Vietnam


  • Chairman
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • William Sullivan
  • Seymour Weiss
  • Defense
  • Kenneth Rush
  • Armistead Selden
  • Maj. Gen. David Ott
  • JCS
  • Gen. John D. Ryan
  • CIA
  • Lt. Gen. Vernon Walters
  • William Christison
  • William Newton (CIA briefing only)
  • NSC Staff
  • Richard T. Kennedy
  • John H. Holdridge
  • Mark Wandler


It was agreed that:

  • CIA should provide an operational definition of the “bare minimum” economy in North Vietnam so that we can understand how long the enemy can sustain his efforts and what adjustments he will have to make. The paper should explain where the enemy is now and what cuts will have to be made to go down to 2,700 tons a day.
  • CIA should also prepare two sets of maps—one for possible use during negotiations with the North Vietnamese and one for our use—showing the population control in South Vietnam in the event of a cease-fire.
  • —Defense should develop a plan for using US forces to free our POWs in North Vietnam.
  • —We should obtain from Defense the rationale it used in estimating that the Soviets could airlift 1,540 tons a day into North Vietnam. We should analyze the alternative routes and supply points that could be used in the airlift—and develop a plan for countering it.
  • —We should analyze the threat to our operation in the event the North Vietnamese aircraft inventory is increased, particularly if the new aircraft are deployed to Chinese airfields.

[Page 697]

[Omitted here are the minutes of the meeting, including Walters’s briefing of the situation, further discussion of the CIA paper discussed at the previous WSAG meeting (see Document 195), and discussion of Department of State/Department of Defense/CIA contingency papers. These papers put forward the following contingencies: a possible North Vietnamese offer to swap U.S.POWs for U.S. withdrawal; a North Vietnamese offer of accommodation with Cambodia; the use of U.S. POWs as hostages; Chinese permission for North Vietnamese aircraft to use its airfields as safehavens; the possibility of a large-scale airlift by the Soviet Union and/or China to resupply North Vietnam; and the introduction of new weapons, especially surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, into North Vietnam. The WSAG agreed that none of the contingencies was likely.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 80, National Security Council, Committees and Panels, Washington Special Actions Group, June 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.