242. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Vietnam (Martin)1
WH50727. Despite your best efforts and my own instincts, the perception in Washington of the military situation around Saigon and of Hanoi’s own intentions has reached the point where I must ask you to reduce total American presence to the level of 1,100 by COB Tuesday.2 This is the number of people whom we estimate can be evacuated in one helo lift.
I give you this instruction reluctantly and with no little concern over the risks that this action may entail.
Nevertheless, it is clear to me that unless we take this action now, other agencies will lose no time in leaking that you and we are dragging our feet. Congress will then almost certainly promptly direct an evacuation of all repeat all Americans.
I know that this decision will come as a blow to you. It is so for me. I can assure you that once we reach this level, I shall not press you again for further reductions except on the day, God forbid, if and when you are instructed completely to close down the Mission.