206. Memorandum From Richard T. Kennedy and John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Plan to Knock Out Radio Hanoi and Preempt Its Frequencies (Operation Archie Bunker)
You will recall that we drafted a memorandum from you to the President on this operation recommending its approval, but that before sending it forward you asked Mr. Rush (at the June 30 WSAG meeting) to develop possible alternatives to the use of aircraft and personnel from the Air National Guard.2 He agreed to do so.
From contacts in Defense we learned that a memorandum covering the possible alternatives was in fact drafted in ISA and sent forward by Mr. Nutter to Secretary Laird.3 The Secretary, however, did not choose to forward this memorandum to you but instead has sent you a separate memorandum (Tab A) stating that after reviewing the matter he has decided not to proceed “due to the marginal nature of the operation and the likely repercussions.”4
Secretary Laird’s objections are both military and political. Militarily, he feels we have no assurance that Radio Hanoi’s facilities could be totally knocked out, of if they were, could be kept out long enough for the operation to be effective. Politically, he considers that we would [Page 710] be subjected to both international and domestic criticism for disrupting the nonmilitary communications handled by Radio Hanoi, and believes that this would be a particular problem domestically if National Guard aircraft and personnel were used. He doubts that it would be practicable to carry out the mission using active duty personnel due to degraded effectiveness and operational delay caused by the need to give special training.
On the military side, Secretary Laird’s position conflicts with that taken by the Joint Chiefs, who maintain that Radio Hanoi’s facilities have been fully identified and can indeed be taken out. We of course have no way of judging the accuracy of Secretary Laird’s assessment of international and domestic reaction, although some criticism certainly would ensue. The Air National Guard aspect is an important one, but while it might require some time to train active duty personnel, it is not immediately apparent why such personnel would necessarily degrade the effectiveness of the mission.
Accordingly, before taking further action on Operation Archie Bunker one way or the other, you may wish to ask for more discussion of it at next Thursday’s WSAG meeting on Vietnam. Both Ambassador Johnson and Ambassador Sullivan have come out strongly for it.
That you raise Operation Archie Bunker at the July 20 WSAG meeting.5
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 160, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, June–July 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Sent through Haig. At the top of the page, Kissinger initialed the memorandum and wrote: “Agree.”↩
- According to the minutes of the June 30 WSAG meeting, the only reference to the Radio Hanoi operation was made by Armistead I. Selden, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, who, in response to a question by U. Alexis Johnson about Operation Archie Bunker, said: “A memo on that is being prepared for the President.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 80, National Security Council, Committees and Panels, Washington Special Actions Group, June 1972) The operation was discussed in detail in the June 20 and June 22 WSAG meetings. Minutes of both are ibid. For the June 22 meeting, see Document 191. See also Document 197.↩
- Nutter’s undated memorandum to Laird is in the Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–77–0094, Viet (North) 370.64 1972. After discussing the pros and cons of the project he wrote: “I recommend you concur in the Archie Bunker concept which will require Presidential approval.” Nutter also drafted a memorandum for Laird to send to Kissinger if he (Laird) rejected the proposal. (Ibid.)↩
- Tab A, dated July 15, is attached but not printed.↩
- Kissinger did not initial either the approve or disapprove option, but Haig wrote at the bottom of the page: “done—Drop plan as written.”↩