241. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- Special Assessment by General Weyand of the Vietnam Situation and Near Term Prospects
Attached at Tab A is a special assessment of the current military situation in Vietnam and near term prospects submitted by General Weyand on August 6.2 Weyand concludes that with continued U.S. support at current levels (described as “vital and decisive”), the GVN should be able to maintain the initiative and react to anticipated enemy moves in the two remaining high threat areas, MR 1 and 4. The following are the highlights of General Weyand’s assessment.
General Weyand reports that the two remaining areas of concern in South Vietnam are MR 4 and MR 1 and that decisive actions are now underway in both regions. In the Delta, the enemy’s objective appears to be the seizure of several district towns in the northern MR 4 provinces and the interdiction of strategic Route 4. A military spectacular by the enemy appears unlikely. The Corps commander, General Nghi, has reacted to enemy moves in a timely and effective fashion and ARVN territorial forces have done a creditable job. Although Nghi’s task is difficult, Weyand believes that he can do the job if supported adequately.[Page 838]
In MR 1, General Weyand reports that a military spectacular by the enemy remains a possibility but that it is “unlikely he will be able to put it all together in spite of his clear intention to reinforce.” In the Quang Tri/Thua Tien area, the ARVN offensive continues at a deliberate pace in the face of NVA reinforcements and enemy plans to counterattack either directly at Hue from the west or to cut Highway 1 between Hue and Quang Tri City.
Weyand states that the Corps commander, General Truong, has realigned his forces to place them in a better position to deal with the enemy’s expected counteroffensive. Following the defeat of the enemy attack, and despite the onset of monsoon rains, Truong is planning a counterattack to the north and west of Quang Tri. Weyand supports the feasibility of Truong’s plans and notes that ARVN should retain the initiative and achieve its objectives, providing the U.S. continues its high level of support.
Performance of enemy infantry in MR 1 has been poor. There are indications that supporting his operations is becoming increasingly difficult due both to losses from U.S. fire support and heavy rains. The primary deterrent to ARVN success in its Quang Tri operation continues to be enemy artillery. U.S. fire support has provided the primary means of coping with this threat; without it, Weyand notes, ARVN’s attack would have bogged down long ago.
Elsewhere in Vietnam, Weyand reports that the situation in MR 3 remains virtually unchanged since the commander’s last special assessment (July 10).3 Route 13 north of An Loc remains interdicted by small enemy forces. No solid contacts with enemy forces have been maintained; major enemy units are unlocated and thus a cause for concern.
In MR 2, the ARVN counteroffensive to recover the three northern districts in coastal Binh Dinh Province has met with general success. While the NVA retains the capabilities of regaining the local initiative, Weyand believes the enemy will not be able to reverse the overall trend of the ARVN’s counteroffensive.
In summary, there has been steady progress toward GVN objectives during past months. While the enemy continues to pursue his offensive within the limits of his capability, ARVN should retain the initiative with the current high level of U.S. fire support.
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 5, Chronological File, Mar–Aug 1972. Top Secret. Sent for information. Haig signed for Kissinger. Although the memorandum is on White House stationery, Kissinger was at this time in Saigon. President Nixon wrote at the top of the first page: “Haig—Be sure we use air power in Battle area to maximum extent possible until Nov. 7. Push hard on this.”↩
- Attached but not printed is the undated report “Special Assessment of Current Situation and Near Term Prospects.”↩
- In COMUSMACV message 101147Z, July 10, Weyand concluded his assessment by observing that “while spectacular events are unlikely, continued progress toward the established goals is foreseen, provided substantial US support remains available.” (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 62, General Service Messages, 15–31 July 1972)↩