149. Message From Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) in Paris1

Tohak 91/WHP 212. The meeting with the President on the plans developed based on the guidance in your Hakto 14 took place this afternoon at 3 o’clock as scheduled.2 Admiral Moorer and Mr. Rush participated. The JCS plan which was developed followed your guidance with only some minor shift in the scheduling of certain targets between categories 1 and 2 which had the purpose of concentrating on areas such as Hanoi, Haiphong rather than just specific types of targets. The entire plan would be completed in seven days, weather permitting, and then continuing action would be repetitive strikes on those targets and shifts to other possible targets. Mining would be accomplished in all the deep water ports. The plan includes new targets not previously attacked and is designed to accomplish the maximum psychological shock. B–52s are scheduled on a continuing basis, principally against targets in the Hanoi area. The docks were selected for a visual attack using guidance bombs. The President was of the view that the bombing and mining clearly had some effect in the past and this was confirmed by Admiral Moorer. The President wanted to be sure that the air fields including Gia Lam would be hit and Admiral Moorer confirmed that they could be. He said that the commercial field could be done in a way which would avoid damaging the commercial aircraft that might be there. Admiral Moorer pointed out the unfortunate truth that this is a very bad weather period ahead in which only one-third of the time [Page 541] could we expect a six hour window in a given day. So a heavy concentration of targets has been selected for all weather attack by B–52s, F–111s and A–6s. The plan would call for a minimum of 825 strike sorties for the initial attack phase. These would be drawn from four attack carriers, land based tactical air and B–52 resources.

The President emphasized he was looking for new thinking and Admiral Moorer pointed out that a significant number of the targets had never previously been attacked. I added that we also had a number of other operations for which we had plans. Admiral Moorer confirmed this. The President had in mind amphibious assaults, ways to cut the pipeline, etc. Admiral Moorer said he would continue to refine the plans and the President seemed satisfied that we could have a major attack within 48 hours of an order if it was desired and weather is acceptable. There were no decisions made and nothing has been ordered. The President indicated he just wanted to know what was possible. We have some refinements to suggest but thought it better to wait until your return to push this any further. The President took the opportunity in this meeting to get the views of Mr. Rush and Admiral Moorer on possible courses of action emerging out of the talks. Both believe that we should try to get an agreement even if it appears Thieu won’t go along. If we do not, they believe we would have serious difficulty and likely fund cut-off for both assistance and military activity by June 30. Both believe that because of what we have done for South Vietnam up to now, especially May 8, our national honor will be preserved and that the October agreement with improvements meets all of the President’s May 8 requirements.3

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 27, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris Trip Tohak 1–100, December 3–13, 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Written on December 7.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting, which began at 2:55 p.m., December 7, at Camp David, is ibid., Box 1026, Presidential/HAK MemCons, May 1971–Dec. 1972. Hakto 14 is Document 143.
  3. Moorer’s diary entry of December 7 at 2:45 p.m. contains this characterization of the meeting: “We discussed the Contingency Plan and the President seemed to be pleased with it. He also seemed to want some company. He must be lonely and wanted someone to reassure him that we were doing all right and to discuss some things that we might do. It was a very pleasant visit.” (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974)