31. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Moorer) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

1355—Secure Telecom/Out—MG Haig—Fri 10/20/72—1355

CJCS—I know you are busiest man in town and I don’t want to take too much of your time but sometime I’d like to talk to you more about this. I don’t know what got into Weyand when he caused all that flail yesterday. He has got almost 100 sorties under what was planned for him and has never asked for any more and has never said anything about it and was told by Gayler the day before yesterday he could have every sortie in SEA any time he needed it. I don’t know what the problem is.2

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Haig—I have a feeling he has been led down the trail by our friend. I have been having real problems with HAK here. I talked to Murphy on Friday about it and on Sunday he blew up when he read the sortie levels because I called Dan then again and Dan called back and said he had more than he needed.

CJCS—He does you see he has never gone up to 200. I will even let you read a telephone conversation I had with him yesterday and I talked to him for 30 minutes and I told him to talk to HAK and tell him that we were all set and that he had what he needed.3 Then the same thing about Laos. I have been watching that every day and they had 83 sorties up there and I have given almost without exception everything Godley has asked for.

Haig—Laos thing came from Sullivan.

CJCS—Of course, I have been shadowboxing with him on Laos since 1964. But I have got a list right in front of me and yesterday for instance he had 32 strike, 35 support and 12 Arc Light plus 4 gunships and 83 planes in the air. Day before 99—day before 89—day before 63—day before 74—day before 97. They have been getting all they can use up there.

Haig—I think there is a little syndrome underway. I know in this case HAK is uptight as a drum and about what he is doing.

CJCS—Please let me tell you what happened. When I saw him at McCain’s change of command ceremony he was giving me hell that we weren’t doing enough up north and I call …

Haig—That’s right.

CJCS—I called Gayler and the Component Commanders and told them exactly what we wanted and laid out formally and that he should go out to Saigon immediately. Gayler should talk with Weyand and not to put out anything until everybody was on board—Weyand, Meyer—everybody involved when he was about to put out his message I said we will work in short increments and put out a goals objective and until you finish that period which he chose as 12 days and then we can see what we have accomplished or not and change every 12 days and leave the caveat in there that anytime Weyand needs any sorties he has total priority over everything and he got exactly what he had requested and repeated to Weyand day before he got there.4

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Haig—He really sent in, sent in, something yesterday but I feel exactly like a fool because I have been taking the brunt of this for about a week now and I told him to tell him.

CJCS—This jumps the track. I have been watching this every day very carefully to see whether Weyand came close to even making a factor which he didn’t use 100 sorties short of what he expected him to fly. The Air Force is only about flying less than their planned sortie level and, of course, up there up North about a carrier and a half of sorties immobile because of the reduction to 150 more sorties than he ever used in that type of activity beginning on right now mining abus[?] not like the major part of Quang Tri operation, fire whole bunch of sorties on isolated targets. As soon as I get back I want to talk to HAK one minute he is pressing and the other going in one direction then the next thing …

Haig—No doubt that he changed that.

CJCS—I have been following this mission daily. So I just don’t know what gotten into Weyand.

Haig—I don’t either. I am not sure he was the sole culprit there in fact I am sure he wasn’t.

CJCS—I didn’t want to bother you about it but to reassure you not the time to disturb the President over something that is not a problem.

Haig—I haven’t taken it to the President at all and he is not aware of it but he is aware that he ordered it … The President is not aware of this I didn’t take it to him at all but I did call Murphy right away and he has no knowledge of it other than fact that he wants and I told Dan on Monday I wanted maximum effort in this pre-Ceasefire situation. Where we attrite as much as we can on battlefield.

CJCS—We understand that. All Weyand got to do is frag them we could pull the carriers down there and do that much more if he wanted to.

Haig—I don’t know if this thing going to cork this morning emergency resupply.5

CJCS—We are going ahead on that now it’s quite a job.

Haig—Totally premature.

CJCS—Anyway I’ll talk to you about this when you got different problems. Really no problem when you come down to it because there is plenty out there for him.

Haig—I have a feeling he was sandbagged by a fellow, no matter what you tell him he doesn’t believe it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974. Secret.
  2. In a diary entry the previous day, Moorer reflected on a telephone conversation he had had with Weyand about sortie availability: “I don’t think he is exactly sure of what he does need and I don’t think that he could use all of the sorties that we could provide if we gave them to him. Weyand apparently spilled his problems to Kissinger at a cocktail party which is worst thing that he could have done. He should have talked to me if he had a problem. Now he has the whole White House in an uproar.” Kissinger was in Saigon to meet with Thieu. (Diary entry, October 19, 12:06 p.m.; ibid.) On October 20 Weyand sent Moorer a message summarizing his view on the question of how many sorties were required to support South Vietnamese operations, concluding: “On our side, therefore, we continue to require fairly massive tactical air support with a surge capability to respond to crisis point situations.” The daily number he thought necessary was 366. (Message 54191 from Weyand to Moorer and Gayler; ibid., Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 64, COMUSMACV Messages, 16–31 Oct 72)
  3. The transcript of a telephone conversation between Moorer and Haig is attached to Moorer’s diary for October 19; ibid., Records of the Chairman, Moorer Diary, July 1970–July 1974.
  4. The idea was that the senior commanders at CINCPAC and MACV would agree to a bombing program against the North that could be flexibly implemented in 12-day increments.
  5. A reference to the American program—called Enhance Plus—to militarily resupply South Vietnam. See footnote 2, Document 29.