176. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the Deputy Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Vogt)1

1105—Secure Telecon/Incoming—Gen Vogt, USAF

CJCS—You’re staying up mighty late.

Vogt—We had a little party. One of our boys went back to the States.

CJCS—I’m calling you instead of Freddie2 (and you can go over and talk to him about our conversation after I finish).

Vogt—Actually, he’s up in Dar Lac this evening.

CJCS—I don’t want you to transmit any messages or anything just tell him this face-to-face because I just wanted you to know that HAK came back last night and they still haven’t been able to overcome the impasse so to speak and so we are working busily on some contingency plans that I think you ought to know about—just so you can think about them. It is not necessary for me to tell you to hold them closely and Meyer’s here talking to him too. I haven’t talked to Gayler yet but I’ll get him as soon as he wakes up. In any event, there are three parts as to what they are talking about:3

One, is the kind of massive three-day strike up North which would envision using as many B52s as possible which would be the way Meyer and I are thinking ought to be done that you could stand down the preceding day so you could get maximum number up there the first time you go up. He thinks he could do over 100, then you have two more days. We have selected targets (our instructions were to try to get the maximum psychological impact is the way they expressed it) and we got things like the Hanoi Radio, Hanoi TPP and the big Kim Nol Yard up there—that railroad marshalling yard and some targets in Haiphong. Most of these are grouped around Hanoi and Haiphong along with this psychological B52s targets they are all-weather targets which [Page 681] are going to be hit with B52s or A6s or F111s and the tacair visible targets by the remainder that require visibility.

Vogt—We can hit any tacair target right now regardless of the weather because we have the coordinates all worked out up there.

CJCS—And we would give you 48 hours notice and would put on a maximum effort even to the point of taking the carrier out of Subic and sending it down there, etc. That is one thing that is on the front burner but the decision hasn’t been made yet and I just wanted you to think about the support and chaff problems and things of that kind.

Vogt—How about the Hanoi Railroad Station right there down town and the marshalling yard which is loaded with railroad cars and full of supplies?

CJCS—We can try to get that because it is on the list and I am trying to get it approved. I don’t have approval yet but we got all those things right around town now. Then up North of town you have that big Transformer Station and Bac Yen Complex which I got a picture from today and it (looking at it this morning) is loaded with everything I can think of and it is only 20 miles North of Hanoi and we have got some of those picked out because some targets in Haiphong too because sometimes the weather is suitable in Haiphong and not suitable in Hanoi and vice versa. So I am going to put in the plan of sequence of the strikes would be left up to the Commanders and you might want to go to some of the targets twice depending on what the recce showed as to the damage. I will try to leave as much flexibility as possible when we write up the implementer.

Second, the other thing that they are talking about and which might occur first, really, is the replacement of the mines in Haiphong Harbor and I’ll call you on the telephone and tell you about that if that decision is made and there we would try to do as much by surprise as possible because you may have seen that message which came in today that one of the Russian ships apparently is getting ready to leave and we want it, one of the options or things across the way they are thinking about revitalizing that Minefield.

Thirdly, the other thing is photographic reconnaissance (manned) and I am writing that up in such a way that you would continue the recce in high threat areas like Hanoi, etc., by Buffalo Hunter but we would conduct recce (I am interested especially up along the coast from Cam Pha South because of the Komars for one thing) and you could go into other target areas other than Hanoi and Haiphong area over on … in the Laos side if you wanted to do that. In any event, essentially there are three different types of reaction:

  • —The three day air operation, as I explained to you, a major effort which has a psychological impact;
  • —Revitalizing the Haiphong Harbor Minefield;
  • —Resumption of the photographic recce (manned) in the less hot areas so that is the three things you might be hearing about.

Vogt—We got plans ready and ready to go up there on 12 hours notice.

CJCS—We’ll give you more than that at least try. We told them 48 hours is necessary. One of the main reasons I wanted you to know about this is that would give priority over anything else we’ve got going on down there—unless there is a crisis. I just wanted you to think about all the support packages, etc.

Vogt—It is a good time since the combat activity in-country is generally low and we can spare the air. We can do it.

CJCS—As I say, I just wanted to give you maximum time to think about it but I want you to hold this very, very close.

Vogt—We’ll be ready and we’ll work out the problem. Other than the support from SAC if you decide to send us ahead of time we’re ready to go. I got some plans for the Power Station right in town and Railroad Station right down town and, from a psychological point of view, it would have the maximum impact because it is loaded with railroad trains at the present time—lots of supplies and it is a good, legitimate target right down town.

CJCS—We’ll work on that, okay, John, thank you and you pass this along to Freddie—but keep it real quiet.

Vogt—Will do, so long.

CJCS—Thank you.

Vogt—Thank you.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Top Secret. Moorer was in Washington; Vogt was in Saigon.
  2. General Weyand.
  3. Later in the day the White House sent three Presidential orders for military action to the Defense Department—one for each of the three parts Moorer mentioned to Vogt. Laird in turn directed CINCPAC to implement the orders. A copy of Laird’s memorandum to that effect is attached to a December 14 memorandum from Howe to Haig. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 162, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, Dec 1972)