26. Memorandum From John Holdridge and Richard Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Reconnaissance Teams to Verify North Vietnam Troop Withdrawals

CIA has proposed some lightly armed reconnaissance teams to be infiltrated into several areas in Laos to monitor NVA withdrawals from Laos and the activities on key infiltration/exfiltration routes between North and South Vietnam and Laos (Tab A).2 They would work against the most frequently used resupply routes through Laos. They would be instructed to avoid contact with enemy forces. They would be inserted by Air America helicopters (without escort) and would not be resupplied while in the operational area. They would operate, for example, in the Mu Gia Pass area and in other such key infiltration areas.

We believe this would give us the kind of information about NVA activity that we really need and without which our intelligence can only be tenuous based on COMINT and sensors. We believe the operation [Page 142]will be of relatively low risk and has a potential for considerable gain.

We recommend your approval.3

  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files, Box I–010, Vietnam, January–October 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Outside the System. Sent for action.
  2. “Vientiane Station Plans for Operations to Verify North Vietnamese Troop Withdrawals,” March 6, attached but not printed.
  3. Kissinger initialed his approval. A handwritten notation in the margin reads: “Originators advised of approval, per Louise Hoppe, 3/15/73.”