23. Minutes of Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Vietnam Planning

PARTICIPANTS

  • Chairman
  • Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • William Porter
  • William E. Sullivan
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Lawrence Eagleburger
  • Major Gen. Alexander M. Haig
  • JCS
  • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
  • Vice Adm. John P. Weinel
  • CIA
  • James Schlesinger
  • Jack Horgan
  • William Nelson
  • William Newton
  • NSC
  • Brig. Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • John H. Holdridge
  • Col. T.C. Pinckney
  • James T. Hackett

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

It was agreed that:

  • CIA and DOD will prepare and submit a report to Mr. Kissinger every Monday, commencing on February 26, which will provide details of NVN infiltration of men and supplies into South Vietnam or the pipeline, and details of enemy ceasefire violations. The report should be prepared in three parts. Part A should include information on the volumes [Page 133]and dates of entry of men and matériel entering South Vietnam after January 27. Part B should include the same information on men and matériel entering the pipeline after January 27. Part C should be a detailed report of enemy ceasefire violations in South Vietnam. All parts of the report should be as detailed as possible. Based on the information requested above, the report should also assess the enemy’s capabilities and intentions. Any differences between CIA and DOD on either information or interpretation should be clearly indicated.
  • —Our delegation to the International Conference on Vietnam should be prepared to make public at the Conference a comprehensive and detailed list of NVN violations of the ceasefire agreement, including infiltration violations.
  • —State will instruct Ambassadors Godley and Unger to inform the Governments of Laos and Thailand that we will continue to provide U.S. air support in Laos on request.2
  • CIA should submit a report on the various Khmer Rouge groups to include a breakdown of them, an assessment of who controls or influences them and an estimate of their intentions.3
  • —The Thai SGU’s should not be pulled out of Laos and continued attention should be given by DOD to the problem of funding them.

Mr. Kissinger: I thought we might have a review of the situation at this point. Jim (Schlesinger), do you want to go ahead?

Mr. Schlesinger read a prepared statement (copy attached).4

Mr. Kissinger: Have any of these infiltrators been put into the pipeline after January 27th?

Mr. Schlesinger: I believe so, although it’s difficult to be precise about that.

Mr. Kissinger: When that sort of thing happens, I want to know about it and we want to protest it. It’s very important that we protest any infiltrations that began subsequent to January 27, but we need accurate and detailed information to do so. Of course, we are pushing against the margins of the agreement when we let the Koreans dump their equipment in South Vietnam, so we have to be tolerant of the stuff [Page 134]the North Vietnamese had in the pipeline prior to the 27th. But I want to know what they began moving in after that date and we want to hit them regularly on these violations. Can I have a weekly report from CIA and Defense on infiltration violations? I want detailed reports once a week of everything that’s moving. With that information in hand, we can tell them we know they’re moving certain numbers of men and supplies south in violation of the agreement and that we expect them to stop doing it. The attitude of the government in this regard should be one of extreme vigilance. I want you to keep close track of what’s moving and when.

Adm. Moorer: A number of these infiltrators are specialists.

Mr. Kissinger: Specialists in what?

Mr. Schlesinger: They are specialists related to the supplies that are moving south. There is a lot of equipment moving and they are sending along technicians to operate and maintain it.

Mr. Kissinger: How much equipment are they moving south?

Mr. Schlesinger: A great deal; 500 tanks, 1,250 trucks, ordnance and artillery. This is the heaviest movement south since before the invasion last year.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you know for sure that there are 500 tanks?

Mr. Schlesinger: No, I’m not sure. (to Mr. Nelson) Is that information from sensors?

Mr. Nelson: Yes.

Adm. Moorer: The information is from sensors, although there are some gaps in the system. We have put others in, but they won’t be active until June.

Mr. Kissinger: You can drop more, can’t you?

Adm. Moorer: Sure.

Mr. Kissinger: I want a report right away, so we can protest this infiltration.

Adm. Moorer: When do you want it?

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s have it Monday (February 26). I want to report every Monday.

Mr. Schlesinger: Do you want one combined report or separate reports from CIA and Defense?

Mr. Kissinger: I want one report if you agree on the information, but I’d better have separate ones if you don’t.

Adm. Moorer: It would be better to do one report, but we’ll have to get together on the timing.

Mr. Kissinger: We raised the issue of the 175 trucks when we were in Hanoi and do you know what they said? They told us they were moving food and civilian goods south to help the refugees. Of course, [Page 135]we know they have never broken an agreement and are acting in good faith.

Mr. Porter: Yes, they are forever acting in good faith. We have a report that Madame Binh may raise the issue of ceasefire violations in Paris. Should we raise these issues there also, and if so, should we do it publicly?

Mr. Kissinger: Yes, by all means, do it publicly. You will need a long sheet of charges. Let’s detail all of their ceasefire violations and infiltrations. We want publicity for these charges.

Mr. Porter: I’ll have to go back to my old style of speechmaking. I thought I was all finished with that, but I guess it’s never done. Sometimes it’s necessary.

Mr. Kissinger: Le Duc Tho did say that what we would do would be more impressive than what we would say. (to Mr. Schlesinger) You say they are moving heavy artillery south, but we have to know how much there is, when it is moving and where it is going. With those details, we can hit them on the violations. Actually, there are three violations here: they are not supposed to bring in military equipment, they are not supposed to bring it in through a third country and they are not bringing it in through approved entry points.

Adm. Moorer: Here’s an intercept we have received which says that NVA forces are to continue expanding and attacking. It adds that with the stop in air attacks they have better opportunities to launch offensive actions.

Mr. Kissinger: Where is that from?

Adm. Moorer: It’s an NVA intercept.

Mr. Kissinger: What’s going on in Cambodia?

Mr. Schlesinger: It’s as confused as ever. The insurgents hold routes 1, 2, 3 and 10, which include the main arteries between Phnom Penh and both the populous southeastern part of Cambodia and South Vietnam. In addition, they have interdicted a portion of Route 15 on the east bank of the Mekong. This is causing the Cambodians a serious problem, because it is a threat to their supply convoys coming up the Mekong from South Vietnam. We don’t anticipate any reduction of insurgent activity in Cambodia in the near future. The Cambodian Army is trying to regain the initiative but is hampered by poor field leadership and command and control deficiencies.

Mr. Kissinger: Are there any NVA forces active there?

Mr. Schlesinger: No.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Adm. Moorer) You have the air power ready to go if we need it?

Adm. Moorer: Yes, sir. We’re ready to go. We’ve even got everything coordinated with State.

[Page 136]

Mr. Porter: We coordinated it right here before the meeting.

Mr. Kissinger: The President has made clear that we have to be ready to go with a hair-trigger response in Laos and Cambodia when and if they need air support. The South Vietnamese can take care of themselves.

Adm. Moorer: We got a bleat out of the Thai about suspending the bombing in Laos.

Mr. Kissinger: My notes here say that no new troops and equipment have been detected entering the pipeline since January 16. Is that true?

Mr. Schlesinger: I don’t think so.

Mr. Kissinger: We don’t have a leg to stand on if this is true. We can’t complain much about the stuff that was in the pipeline on January 27. We have to know if they began moving stuff in after that date. If they did, it is a violation of the agreement. What I need is a report in two parts. Part A should be a list of what entered into South Vietnam after January 27 and Part B should be a report on how much went into the pipeline after that date. We also need a list of ceasefire violations. What is the ICCS doing?

Mr. Sullivan: The Poles and Hungarians are still not up to strength. The Canadians are out there doing pretty well and are encouraging the others to get to full strength.

Mr. Porter: When are they going to get to Khe Sanh?

Mr. Sullivan: Well, they don’t want their people getting shot. We have to send in the Four Power Joint Military Commission (FPJMC) before we can get the ICCS into Khe Sanh.

Adm. Moorer: They are setting up a full-fledged military airfield at Khe Sanh, with defensive missiles. We have good pictures of the whole thing.

Mr. Kissinger: Is that a violation?

Adm. Moorer: I doubt it. They’ll probably claim they had it all hidden away in caves and brought it out after the ceasefire.

Mr. Kissinger: You don’t doubt their word, do you? They are so full of good intentions. By Monday I want a complete list of the men and matériel they are infiltrating. Bill (Porter), don’t piddle around at Paris with a few minor complaints; give them the whole list.

Mr. Sullivan: The buildup at Khe Sanh would not be a violation unless we can prove they brought the stuff in after January 27.

Mr. Kissinger: What about the FPJMC?

Mr. Sullivan: They haven’t been very active. We lost a helicopter and part of a team went to investigate, but they didn’t accomplish much.

Mr. Kissinger: Don’t forget, we’ll be out of it (the FPJMC) in thirty days.

[Page 137]

Mr. Sullivan: But it will be replaced by the Two Party Military Commission and it’s shaping up pretty well. The South Vietnamese have put a fellow named “Phu” in charge of their element. He’s very energetic.

Mr. Kissinger: Who’s causing the most violations of the agreement, the South Vietnamese?

Adm. Moorer: Yes, the South Vietnamese. They’re trying to open the roads and clear out enemy pockets.

Mr. Schlesinger: There’s no question about it, the South Vietnamese have been creating more violations, but they’re beginning to taper off.

Mr. Sullivan: They’ve been down a lot in the last few days.

Mr. Kissinger: Can someone make an analysis of these supply movements? I want to know what the North Vietnamese are up to. Are they getting ready for a major offensive?

Adm. Moorer: No, not that. It appears to be mainly a resupply effort.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we have an assessment of their intentions?

Mr. Horgan: Yes, we’ll do that.

Mr. Kissinger: We’ve discussed troop withdrawals.

Adm. Moorer: Yes. We have 600 coming out today. They’re all ready to leave and we may as well bring them out. They’re just standing around waiting to go.

Mr. Kissinger: Regarding the Thai SGU’s, I don’t want you to pull them out of Laos.

Mr. Sullivan: If they don’t get air support, they’ll go out themselves.

Mr. Kissinger: They’re getting it, aren’t they?

Adm. Moorer: If (Ambassador) Godley asks for it, they’ll get it.

Mr. Sullivan: You mean if Souvanna asks for it.

Adm. Moorer: I mean if Godley asks for it. He understands that and so does (General) Johnny Vogt.

Mr. Kissinger: We’d better tell them again to make sure they understand it. The President made it very clear this morning when he said he wanted us to be ready for violations in Laos with a hair-trigger response.5 (to Mr. Sullivan) You’d better get out a message and tell them again.

Adm. Moorer: We sent out a message on this. General Vogt knows what we want.

[Page 138]

Mr. Kissinger: I know, but I want Thanom (Kittikachon) to know that the Thai SGU’s are not to be pulled out.

Mr. Sullivan: No, they won’t be pulled out, providing we can get the funds for them.

Mr. Kissinger: What’s the situation?

Mr. Eagleburger: After July 1 (1973) we’re in trouble.

Mr. Clements: Once we get Senator Stennis back we’ll be O.K. That committee (Senate Armed Services) is really drifting, but Stennis will get it straightened out.

Mr. Kissinger: I just want you to know that we don’t want an excuse to withdraw the Thai SGU’s from Thailand. You should continue your efforts to get the funds.

Mr. Eagleburger: That’s understood.

Mr. Porter: We want to keep all of those units in place. We may change the personnel, but there should be no withdrawal of units.

Mr. Kissinger: I have no ideas regarding Cambodia. If any of you have any ideas, please share them with us.

Mr. Schlesinger: What kind of ideas do you have in mind?

Mr. Kissinger: Any thoughts or suggestions of any kind. We should have a breakdown of the various Khmer Rouge groups. I understand there is a Moscow-oriented group there. Can we have a breakdown of the Khmer Rouge groups and an assessment of who controls or influences them, with an estimate of their intentions?

Mr. Clements: Would that include an assessment of the impact of the settlement in Laos on the situation in Cambodia?

Mr. Kissinger: Yes.

Mr. Clements: How does the Laos settlement look?

Mr. Kissinger: As the President said this morning, if the North Vietnamese get out it’s a good settlement, if they don’t it’s not.

Mr. Clements: Do you think they will get out?

Mr. Kissinger: They’re obliged to by the terms of the agreement, and as we all know, they’ve never broken an agreement. What about those contingency plans for Vietnam?

Mr. Clements: We’ll have them for you soon.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–117, WSAG Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Kissinger instructed Godley in backchannel message 957, February 22. Godley relayed to Kissinger the Lao request for U.S. air strikes in backchannel message 725, February 22. (Both ibid., Box 411, Backchannel Messages, Southeast Asia, 1973)
  3. Holdridge sent the requested report, “Factions Among the Khmer Insurgents,” March 1, to Kissinger under a covering memorandum, March 5. The CIA prepared a second paper, “Cambodia,” February 27, on measures that might improve the Cambodian situation. (Both ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–90, Folder 10)
  4. Schlesinger’s briefing, “The Situation in Indochina,” February 23, attached but not printed.
  5. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon held a breakfast meeting with Kissinger, Rogers, Sullivan, and Porter to discuss the International Conference. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files)