162. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Abramowitz) to Secretary of Defense Schlesinger 1

SUBJECT

  • Signals to Hanoi (U)

(TS) The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has provided you with several options for signaling to Hanoi our continued support for South Vietnam.2

(TS) I believe that each option should be carefully evaluated as to how it would likely be received by Congress and by the American public.3

[Page 603]

(TS) Unfavorable public or Congressional reaction to our efforts could be counterproductive since it might become apparent that we could not follow through with any action to back our “signals.” Further, adverse Congressional reaction could jeopardize passage of any Vietnam or Cambodia supplementals. We need a close look.

(TS) Providing Vietnam with the MK–36 destructor could be a particular problem in view of the prohibition of Article 7 of the Paris Agreement against new weaponry. If the MK–36 were used it would have to be deployed secretly, thus obscuring any signal. Moreover the sensitivity of this type of weaponry would probably require prior consultation with Congress. On balance, we do not believe any advantages in using the MK–36 would outweigh the risks.

(TS) There are additional factors which should be considered in evaluating several of the specific deployments proposed by JCS.

(TS) Carrier Deployment. Deploying the Midway to the Gulf of Tonkin could create problems for us with the Japanese on homeporting and transit rights. As you know, the Midway has already created controversy in Tokyo on the nuclear issue. Deploying to Vietnam a vessel which is already sensitive in Japanese politics could generate new problems for us in Tokyo, particularly now with the Diet again in session and our own uncertainties about the cooperativeness of the Miki Government in this regard. ISA believes that there are overriding political advantages in deploying the Coral Sea, even though it would mean leaving Subic with some maintenance incomplete.4

(TS) F–4’s. Deploying F–4’s to Clark from Japan could also generate problems for us in Japan similar to those cited for the Midway. While we could probably get around these problems, in our view it would be more prudent to move F–4 aircraft from one of our squadrons in Korea or CONUS prior to moving a Kadena unit to Clark AB. We would not object to deployment of one element of F–4C Wild Weasel aircraft from Kadena (to correspond to increases in B–52 rotation), since this would not represent a squadron-size deployment.

(TS) B–52’s. The deployment of 6 additional B–52s to Thailand is a move which could provide a signal of our support. However, we should insure that the proper consultations between AmEmbassy and RTG officials are held, and that Thai approval has been received before execution of this action.5

Morton I. Abramowitz
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0058, 300–399, Viet, 1975. Top Secret. A stamp at the bottom of the page reads: “Sec Def has seen, 17 Jan 1975.”
  2. Memorandum, CM–220–75, “Signal of U.S. Intent to Support South Vietnam,” January 13, not attached. A copy is ibid., FRC 330–78–0059, Viet 381, 1975.
  3. This and the following paragraph are highlighted in the margin.
  4. This paragraph is highlighted in the margin and a handwritten notation reads: “Basically consistent with JCS and your views. W.” In all likelihood, “W” is Major General John R. Wickham, military assistant to Schlesinger.
  5. This paragraph is highlighted in the margin.