249. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

TELECON/IN—Dr. Kissinger

CJCS: Hello Henry.

HAK: I wanted to talk to you about these bombing strikes. The important thing is that we do not want anybody playing games.

CJCS: I talked to you about this before and there is nothing like that going on.2

HAK: Look at the figures—70% of the strikes have been canceled.

CJCS: Not canceled—diverted.

HAK: What about the Queson operation3—I am sure that everyone is worried that we don’t have a major setback.

CJCS: I worked on that last weekend and we sent another Regiment down there.

HAK: The President asked me to call you on these two points before he departed for Chicago this morning.

CJCS: We are going to hold a meeting at CINCPAC Headquarters on this bombing operation tomorrow.

HAK: Don’t step it up—(Dr. Kissinger was talking about the bombing strikes at this point (not the meetings)).

CJCS: I believe that our responsibility now is to give better reports than have previously been given. The reporting procedures have been poor. I don’t believe that you realize that in addition to daylight strikes, we have been delivering night strikes also. For instance, 52 strikes were delivered on pre-planned targets—they are flying the strikes around the clock.

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HAK: When you say reporting—you don’t mean the press.

CJCS: No, I don’t mean the press. Reporting has been done improperly—when the aircraft were diverted. In addition to that they have been working well in there. 52 strikes in the Northern area. I am going to get a better display—General Vogt explained this to you.

HAK: There are so many commanders in this.

CJCS: No that is not true.

HAK: Cut back 20%.

CJCS: I haven’t seen that paper,4 but I have talked about it with Haig.

HAK: I am not going to accept this.

CJCS: I hope you don’t—I have discussed this with you previously and I will keep you informed. I don’t hold a copy of that paper.

HAK: The President asked me to call you on these two problems.

CJCS: No orders would go out there without coming through me.

HAK: Ammunition control.

CJCS: I talked to Al about that and I am waiting for answer from OSD. The ball is in their court—if it bounces back in the wrong direction I will let you know.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974.
  2. Moorer was referring to their conversation of August 12 at 10:05 a.m.; see Document 235.
  3. In August the 711th PAVN (North Vietnamese) Division launched an offensive in the Que Son Valley south of Danang and overran a South Vietnamese regiment—the 5th Regiment, 2d ARVN Division. The South Vietnamese then sent another regiment of the division, the 4th, to reinforce and mount a counteroffensive. (Lam Quam Thi, The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon, pp. 283–285)
  4. On August 19, Haig forwarded to Kissinger a memorandum from Laird that provided the White House with data on the air war over North and South Vietnam between May and August 12. At the top of Haig’s memorandum, Kissinger wrote, “Depressing.” According to the data provided by Laird, the Air Force and Navy in that time had scheduled 22,398 sorties over the North and had actually flown 19,429. Focusing on the number of primary targets struck in the North in the same period, as opposed simply to sorties flown, showed that 488, or 53 percent of the total, were not struck as planned, and, further, that 386, or 79 percent, of the targets not struck were weather-related diversions or cancellations. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 96, Vietnam Subject Files, Air Activity in Southeast Asia, Vol. III, January–August 1972)