130. Memorandum From the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (de Poix) to Secretary of Defense Schlesinger 1

TS–Sen–0121/DI–6

SUBJECT

  • North Vietnamese Troop Presence in Laos
1.
(S–Sen) The 1973 ceasefire agreements in Laos specified that foreign powers would remove their troops from Laos within 60 days after formation of a coalition government. As you know, that government was formed on 5 April.2 Since then, Hanoi has withdrawn only one regiment. The allotted 60-day period is about to expire and North Vietnam still has 40,000–50,000 troops in Laos.
2.
(S–Sen) Hanoi has shown no intention of complying with the troop withdrawal provision. They have disguised certain of their troop units as Communist Pathet Lao; others have been rotated from front line positions to rear areas to reduce their visibility. Hanoi continues to make full use of Laos as a logistic corridor to South Vietnam and has embarked on agricultural, reconstruction, and resettlement programs, all of which reflect an intention to remain in Laos.
3.
(TS–Sen) I believe we should undertake some action that would convey to Hanoi US knowledge of their failure to comply with the ceasefire agreements and indicate our unwillingness to proceed with a unilateral withdrawal. Possible actions might include:
  • a. Delay reducing the manning level of the US Defense Attaché Office in Vientiane to the agreed upon 30-man military ceiling.
  • b. Delay further reductions, or even institute temporary increases, in US airborne reconnaissance activity over Laos.
4.
(S–Sen) North Vietnam appears determined to maintain a military presence in Laos for some time to come. I doubt that the above actions could, by themselves, force Hanoi’s full compliance with the Laos ceasefire agreements. They would however, without risk to US long term plans for force reductions in Southeast Asia, signal our insistence that the ceasefire agreements be executed in good faith. Moreover, these actions would strengthen our intelligence effort at a time when—as a result of the continued presence of North Vietnamese troops coupled with continued decrements to friendly forces—the military balance of power is swinging progressively more toward the communists in Laos. Under such circumstances, a strong, alert intelligence effort is particularly important.
V P de Poix

Admiral, USN
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0010, Laos 320.2, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive. A notation at the bottom of the first page reads: “Sec Def has seen, 6 Jun 74.”
  2. The Provisional Government of National Union was promulgated by royal decree on April 5. Souvanna Phouma was selected as the Prime Minister and President of the Council of Ministers, and Prince Souphanouvong headed the National Political Consultative Council.