203. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Sir Robert Thompson’s Report on Vietnam, June 17–July 3

Attached at Tab A is a report submitted by Sir Robert Thompson on his most recent visit to Vietnam, June 17–July 3.2 The following are the highlights of the report:


Sir Robert concludes that the North Vietnamese offensive has been militarily defeated and has caused little damage to the Vietnamization and Pacification programs. The enemy, however, will seek to continue operations as far into September as possible. Over the long term, the North Vietnamese will remain intransigent and will return to protracted warfare. The GVN should be able to contain any future enemy threats and its programs will accelerate at an unprecedented pace by the beginning of the next year.

In the course of his report, Sir Robert urges that we apply the “greatest pressure” on the GVN for the appointment of more competent and aggressive ARVN commanders. We should also continue our advisory efforts to ARVN and to CORDS. The GVN itself should concentrate on reducing costs, increasing taxes and expanding investment and production. ARVN should be restructured to increase the number of topflight national divisions while downgrading the operational strength of its remaining territorial divisions. Its capability for ground interdiction of enemy logistics and infiltration should be improved.

On the subject of enemy intentions, Sir Robert believes that the North Vietnamese will never accept a supervised cease-fire. In the short term, however, the enemy is likely to offer an in-place cease-fire in order to influence our Presidential election. The offer would also include a release of American POWs, and a demand for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by January 1, 1973 but would NOT require President Thieu’s [Page 705] resignation or a halt to aid. He strongly recommends that we “stand firm” by our May 8 proposals. An in-place cease-fire, he believes, cannot be delineated nor supervised; the enemy will not keep it and it will not settle the war or end the fighting.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 116, Vietnam Subject Files, Sir Robert Thompson (1972). Secret. Sent for information. The President wrote the following comments at the bottom and side of the page: “K—His recommendations for restructuring of ARVN are absolutely essential. We have done a lousy job—building ARVN in our image. I want Haig et al to come up with some new ideas on this point. We can’t continue doing more of the same.”
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. In message 967 from Phnom Penh, February 17, Ambassador Swank reported on Thompson’s visit to Cambodia, noting that: “Sir Robert stressed repeatedly his view that Hanoi will not accept a cease fire, will not engage in meaningful negotiations before the US presidential elections, and has every intention of pursuing the war.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 513, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. 15)