71. Message From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (McCain) and Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Abrams)1

3492. Deliver upon receipt. Ref: A. MACV080750Z Apr 72.2

You will shortly receive a directive to conduct: (A) B52 bombing attack on North Vietnam south of 19 degrees north and (B) provide Arc Light support to the Barrel Roll area with particular emphasis on the Long Tieng battle. It must be realized that both of these actions have very heavy political as well as military objectives.
With respect to item 1.(A) above, the President was extremely out of patience with me this morning. He said that he had indicated his desire that the B52s attack NVN on 6 April and, so far, nothing has happened. He said here is a case where the military commanders have been given authorities and been given the resources over and above those requested and that, so far, nothing other than routine operations have occurred. He fully appreciates the military rationale contained in reference (A), but he wants to give the North Vietnamese as well as the [Page 232] Soviets a clear message that he intends to use whatever force is necessary in light of this flagrant invasion. He does not want to hear any more rationale—he wants action.
With respect to item 1. (B) above, as you might imagine, the State Dept is heavily involved in this one. Through State channels considerable concern has been expressed by the Thais with respect to the extent of the air support provided the last few days. The Thais consider that the provision of air support was a quid pro quo for providing Thai irregulars for the battle in Laos. They are now suggesting that if they cannot receive adequate air support then it will be necessary to withdraw the Thai forces from Long Tieng. Consequently, the President desires that some B52 and Tacair support be provided as indicated in separate message. He believes that the additional resources provided makes this feasible.
You should be aware of other actions that the President has directed in order to further build up our capability. They include expansion of the air and gunfire support ship operation from 18 degrees to 19 degrees, as well as approval to assume all MiGs in the air and on the ground south of 20 degrees north to be hostile and subject to attack by air and ship missiles at any time. Further, Saratoga has been ordered from the LANTFLT and should arrive in Tonkin Gulf in about 30 days. Last night we ordered SAC to deploy all available B52 D configured acft to Guam. This should provide about 28 acft in excess of those available a short time ago. We also are giving consideration to additional B52Gs recognizing that their maximum load is 27 vice the 66 bombs carried by the B52D acft. So far I have been unsuccessful in acquiring authority to operate the B52D aircraft from Kadena. Other actions to provide additional resources and authorities are under consideration and I will keep you fully informed. I cannot impress upon you too strongly how intensely involved the President is in this operation, how determined he is that the enemy does not succeed in their objectives, and how forthcoming he is when presented with requests for authorities and additional resources—however, he does expect immediate action and forceful response.
Warm regards.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 68, JCS Out General Service Messages, 1–15 April 1972. Top Secret; Flash; Specat; Exclusive. A handwritten note reads: “No Dist.”
  2. A copy of MACV message 80750Z, April 8, from Abrams to McCain and Moorer, is attached to Moorer’s Diary, April 8. In this message Abrams gave his assessment that the use of B–52 Arc Light strikes in Operation Freedom Train would not significantly affect the enemy offensive and was inadvisable. (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman)