74. Diary Entry by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer)1

TELECON/IN—From Gen Vogt (Secure)

John said the weather was improving considerably and should be good up through MR1 and workable up to Dong Hoi. I told John I had been getting caustic questions about the air strikes in the north and for him to really lay it in there. Vogt said the B–52 operation took a lot of their capability. I told him about the flap last night concerning the Compass Link2 pictures on the B–52’s. Vogt said they did not miss completely, they cut the rail lines in the rail yard in three places. They did not hit too well on the POL but the accuracy would be bad if we were in close to the city. I said the President has been twisting our arm on the B–52 strike. He issued the the orders that we add on logistic targets. HAK thinks the Air Force only wants to bomb the other side’s Air Force. Abrams wants to bomb the other side’s Army.

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I told him that I got the word last night that they may want a very heavy effort later this weekend well up north. I told him to have his people to do a little studying on the targets in the Hanoi and Haiphong area. If the weather breaks we may get all the way up there. I want the Buffalo Hunter3 pictures of those truck parks. Be sure you know that the President is personally involved in this. We need some good weather.

Vogt said Abrams thinks there is a critical situation incountry. He is reluctant to even release carriers to any operations north of the DMZ unless they are immediately associated with the battle front. Abe does not like us to divert much air to the targets in the north.4 Every time Abe calls a Corps Commander they tell him they are hanging on because of the tacair, send more. The IV Corps Commander had to give up the 21st Division which was sent to save the situation north of Saigon and he almost had a fit, so I got him some tacair immediately. Abrams is not sympathetic to the strikes in the north unless he can go to real pay dirt.

The President does not think Abe understands the real problem. Abe is absolutely right from a purely military point of view but we are playing a political problem with the Russians. We spent a long time getting the message to Ho Chi Minh and now we want to get it to the Russians. We are increasing surveillance on Soviet ships; we are going to have submarines surface beside them. Vogt had not seen it.

HAK called last night and was concerned if we had authority north of 18 that we would spend most of our time up there. He wants to make sure there is effort to and north of the DMZ and keep that cleaned out. I am having trouble with him because he thinks all we go after is SAM sites and airfields. He wants to hit only logistics. Abrams wanted Vogt to observe the 325th division carefully, watch for armor on Highway 1 because it could be serious if they came through. I told John to go ahead after the division if you found them. You could run up and down Highway 1 and if you could not get the division you could get [Page 239] some supplies. John said he talked to Cooper5 and got him to tentatively agree to have two carriers released from in-country operations to hit in the north. Abe was not happy about that and wanted all the carriers committed to the in-country operation. This was a personal to McCain so he recommended we be careful how we use it.

I told John the President said that Abrams did not request any additional 52’s, he did not request the extra carriers, and he did not request the additional tacair, they were sent from Washington. So he argues that he has been given all this extra capability, says that he has got to use all of it on the land battle. What would he have done if it were not sent out there. As you know, not one request came in from Abrams for additional forces.

John thought Cooper was trying to do the right thing. However, he knew that Abrams was dead against it and as a Component Commander of Abe’s, John is going to have trouble initiating anything in the north while Abe thinks the situation is serious in-country.

I said Abe’s reports the last few days are optimistic. Vogt said he has made some trips and has reflected Corps Commander’s thoughts. They all cry they need all the air they can get.

I said they are going to send Haig down to talk to Abrams and I told John to play it cool and not get cross-threaded with Abe until he gets his feet on the ground. He will have to use considerable diplomacy.

I said do not forget the Moscow visit is big in their minds. This trip is moving a lot of actions.

John asked if I was getting access to Ryan’s6 messages. He has been sending special SITREP’s the last two days. I told him I had not had time to turn around, I had been testifying for hours on end, one meeting started 15 minutes after the other one ended over there at the capitol.

I filled him in on the general situation in Southeast Asia. I told him Congress is more behind us on this one than ever before.

[Omitted here is additional discussion of the offensive.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret.
  2. Photographic facsimile transmission program.
  3. A program in which USAF unmanned aircraft carried out photographic reconnaissance missions over (mostly) North Vietnam and Laos.
  4. In message 38158 from Saigon, April 8, Abrams stated: “The battlefield is SVN and the immediate approaches thereto. The battles which will determine the outcome of the current campaign will be fought and decided during the next several weeks with friendly forces immediately available and enemy forces that are already deployed into the three threat areas of the DMZ, the B–3 Front and COSVN. The full weight of the B–52 effort should be applied against the enemy forces and their logistics that are already deployed out of NVN and are in position in SVN and the immediate approaches thereto.” (Attached to Moorer Diary, April 8; National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman)
  5. Admiral Damon W. Cooper, Commander, Task Force 77, was in charge of carrier-based aircraft carrying out missions in South Vietnam and North Vietnam.
  6. Air Force Chief of Staff General John D. Ryan.