169. Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in Paris1

Tohak 185/WHP 255. Deliver immediately. Ref: (A) Hakto 41, (B) Hakto 43.2

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1. DOD has begun work on preparations for the possible military actions outlined in referenced messages. I will discuss the following two actions with the President and if he approves and you subsequently concur, I will immediately order their execution in accordance with the following timetable:

Time (Saigon time) Action
0800, December 14 Resume reconnaissance north of the 20th parallel.
0800, December 14 Increase tacair sorties to 250 per day and B–52 sorties to 51.

With regard to reconnaissance, some fighter escort will be necessary and use of anti-SAM missiles can be anticipated.

The level of bombing of North Vietnam below 20 degrees can be increased to 400 sorties per day with return of a fifth carrier to Yankee Station. There are presently three there with one other off South Vietnam. Ordering a carrier back from the Philippines would be a prudent step and an important signal even if you subsequently decided not to raise the sortie level above 250 or order bombing North of the 20th parallel. The 250 level includes MIG cap and certain other support aircraft. I will try to determine what actual attack sortie level will be reached but it will obviously be somewhat below 250.

2. If you agree, we could order preparation for mining now since a 48-hour warning time is desired. We could plan to execute at first light on Saturday morning Hanoi time. In conducting the mining, diversionary attacks are desirable but not required. However, the mining aircraft should be accompanied by SAM/flak suppression aircraft. If suppression aircraft are not authorized, night delivery is necessary and feasible. Best accuracy could be obtained from daylight mining and this would insure Vietnamese observation. Weather conditions theoretically should not affect the timetable for mining.

3. DOD’s two-to-three-day strike plan would be along the lines of the seven-day plan recently prepared. The plan can be executed within 48 hours of decision if weather conditions permit. They are presently poor. It includes 16 transportation, power, airfield, and Radio Hanoi targets in the Hanoi area, as well as 6 communications command and control targets in the vicinity; 13 in the Haiphong area including shipyards and docks; four other power plants north of 20 degrees; and 6 air [Page 617] defense targets. A number of these targets have not previously been struck. It also includes a buffer zone package of 7 targets, but I would exclude these if the strikes were limited to two to three days.3

Warm regards.

End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 27, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris Trip Tohak 100–192, December 3–13, 1972. Top Secret; Flash; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Guay and Lord.
  2. Hakto 41 is Document 163; Hakto 43 from Kissinger to Haig, December 13, 0831Z, is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 858, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XXII (2).
  3. Just over two hours later Kissinger, in message Hakto 45, 1929Z, responded: “1. I agree to increase Tacair and B–52 sorties as you propose immediately effective 0800, December 14 (Saigon time). 2. I think the reconnaissance north of the 20th parallel should be deferred to 0800 December 15 to permit Le Duc Tho to get out of here. 3. The mining should be ordered for Saturday [December 16].” (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 27, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris Trip Hakto and Memos to Pres., etc., December 3–13, 1972)