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IV.C Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Direct Action: The Johnson Commitments, 1964-1968 

(16 Vols.) 
7. Air War in the North: 1965 - 1968 (2 Vols.) 

b. Volume II 

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IV. C. 7.(b) 

Volume II 


Sec Def Cont Nr. X-. 

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A. The Year Begins with No Change 1 

1, Escalation Proposals 1 

2 . The TET Pause -- &-lk February 3 

B. More Targets 8 

1. The Post-TET Debate 8 

2. A "Litt].e" Escalation 13 

3. The Guam Conference and More Salami Slices 15 

C. The Question Again — Escalate or Negotiate? 21 

1. T^"70 Courses - Escalate or Level Off 21 

2. The May DPM Exercise 30 

3. The May 19 DBl ^3 

h. JCS5 CIA and State Reactions 53 

5. The McNamara Bombing Options 62 

6. The June 12th DPM .66 

7. The RT 57 Decision -- No Escalation 73 

FOOTNOTES. . . : 8I 


A. Sena.tor Stennis Forces an Escalation 90 

1. The Addendum to ROLLING THUNDER 90 

2. The Stemiis Hearings 92 

3 . The Fallout 99 

B. The San Antonio Formula 101 

1. Peace Feelers 101 

2. The President's Speech and Hanoi's Reaction 101 

3.. More Targets IO3 

h. The Decibel Level Goes Up Il4 

C . New Studies II5 

1. SEACABIN 115 

2. Th*j JASON Study 122 

3. Systems Analysis Study on Economic Effects 127 

D. The Year Closes on a Note of Optimism I3I 




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A- The Crisis Begins 1^1 

1. Public Diplomacy Gropes On lJ|l 

2. The Tet Offensive ikk 

B. The "A to Z" Review lil9 

1. The Reassessment Begins ik^ 

2. The Clifford Group I5O 

3. The March k DPM I7I 

C, The President Weighs the Decision. I8O 

1. More Meetings and More Alternatives I80 

2 . The New Plampshire Primary I85 

3. ISA Attempts to Force A Decision I86 

h* The "Senior Informal Advisory Group" . I90 

" D. March 3I -- "l Shall Not Seek. . .Another Term as Your 

President I9U 

1. The Decision I9U 

2. The Speech I96 


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IXiring the first seven months of I967 ^ ronning "battle was fought 
within the Johnson Administration between the advocates of a greatly 
expanded air campaign against North Vietnam, one that might genuinely 
be called " strategic j" and the disillusioned doves who urged relaxation, 
if not complete suspension, of the bombing in the interests of greater 
effectiveness and the possibilities for peace. The "hawks" of course vrere 
primarily the military, but in war-time their pov/er and influence with an 
incumbent Administration is disproportionate. McNamara, supported cLuan- 
titatively by John McNaughton in ISA, led the attempt to de-escalate the 
bombing. Treading the uncertain middle ground at different times in the 
debate were William Bundy at State, Air Force Secretary Harold Brown and, 
m.ost importantly, the President himself. Buffetted from right and lefl: 
he determinedly tried to pursue the temperate course, escalating gradually 
in the late spring but levelling off again in the summer. To do so was 
far from easy because such a -course really pleased no one (and, it should 
be added, did not offer much prospect for a breakthrough one v.^ay or the 
other). It was an unhappy, contentious time in vjhich the decibal level 
of the debate went up markedly but the difficult decision was not taken — 
it was avoided. 

A . The Year Begins with No Change 

1. Escalation Proposals 

The year I967 began with the military comm-ands still 
grumbling about the Christmas and New Year's truces ordered from Washing- 
ton. Both had been grossly violated by multiple VC incidents, and both 
had been the occasions of irajor VC/lWA resupply efforts. The restrictions 
placed on U.S. forces were felt by the field commands to be at the expense 
of American life. UoS. military authorities would argue long and hard 
against a truce for the TST Lunar New Year holiday, but in the end they 
would loose. 

Early in I9675 CINCPAC reopened his campaign to win 
Washington approval for air strikes against a wider list of targets in 
North Vietnam. On January ik CINCPAC sent the JCS a restatement of the 
objectives for ROLLING THUNDER he had developed in I966, noting his belief 
that they remained valid for I967. l/ '^^'^^^ days later he forwarded a 
long detailed list of proposed nev7 targets fcr attack. What he proposed 
was a comprehensive destruction of North Vietnam's m.ilita,ry and industrial 
base in Route Package 6 (Hanoi-Haiphong). 2/ This called for the destruc- 
tion of 7 pov/er plants (all- except the one in the very center of Hanoi, 
and the 2 in Haiphong included in a special Haiphong pa^ckage); 10 "war 
supporting' industries" (with the Thai Nguyen iron and steel plant at the 
head of the list); 20 transportation support facilities; kh military 
complexes; 26 POL targets; and 28 targets in Haiphong and the other 
-ports (including docks, shipyards, POL, povrer plants, etc.). CINCPAC 

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optimistically contended that this voluminous target system could be 
attacked with no increase in sorties and v/ith an actual decline in air- 
crafl: lost to hostile fire. 

The proposal was evidently received in Washington with some- 
thing less than enthusiasm. The Chiefs did not send such a recommendation 
to the Secretary and there is no evidence that the matter was given serious 
high level attention at that time. On January 25 in a cable on anti- 
infiltration (i.e. the much-maligned barrier), CI1\^CPAC again raised the 
question. He was careful to note (as he had previously in a private cable 
to Wlieeler and VJestmoreland on January 3) 3/ that, " single measure 
can stop infiltration." h/ But he argued that the extraordinary measures 
the ener^ had taken to strengthen his air defenses and generate a world 
opinion against the bombing were evidence of hov; much the air strikes were 
hurting him. 

These arguments were reinforced by the January CIA analysis 
vhich also made something of a case for a heavier bombing cajapaign. It 
considered a number of alternative target systems — modern industry, shipping, 
the Red River levees, and other targets -- and two interdiction cam_x)aigns, 
one "unlimited" and the other restricted to the southern IWIT panliandle and 
I^os, and concluded that the unlimited campaign was the most promising. ^/ 

On the modern industry target list, CLA. included 20 facili- 
ties, 7 of them electric power pla.nts. Knocking out these facilities, it 
said, woTold eliminate the fruits of several hundred million dollars capital 
investment, cut off the source of one -fourth of the GNP and most foreign 
excha^nge earnings, disrupt other sectors of the economy which used their 
products, add to the burden of aid required from NVN's allies, and temporarily 
displace the urban labor force. The loss would be a serious blow to ITOl's 
hopes for economic progress and sta,tus, negating a decade of intense effort 
devoted to the construction of modern industry. This would exert additional 
pressure on the regime, but would not by itself, CIA believed, be intense 
enough to bring Hanoi to the negotiating table. Outside aid could no doubt 
make up the deficit in goods to sustain the economy and the national defense 
of the North as v^ell as to continue the v^ar in the South. 6/ 

Aerial m.ining, provided it was extended to coastal and 
inland waters as well as the harbors, and especially if accompanied by 
intensive aiTied reconnaissance against all LOCs to China, x%^ould be very 
serious. HVN would alinost certainly have to reduce some import programs, 
not sufficiently perhaps to degrade the flow of essential military sup- 
plies or prevent continued support of the war in SVN, but enough to hurt 
the economy. 7/ 

Bombing the levee system which kept the Red River under control, 
if timed correctly, could cause large crop losses and force WN to import 

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large amounts of rice. Depending on the success of interdiction effort s^ 
such imports might overload the transport system. The levees themselves 
could be repaired in a matter of weeks ^ hov/ever, and any military effects 
of bombing them v/ould be limited and short-lived. 8/ 

An "unlimited" ca^apaign against transportation and remaining 
targets J in addition to attacking industry and mining the harbors and 
waterways 5 woiild greatly increase the costs and difficulties in m^aintaining 
the flow of the most essential military and civilian goods within IIM. 
If the attack on transportation were able to cut the capacity of the rail- 
roads by 1/3 on a sustained basis and roads by l/^i-j the remaining available 
route capacity would not be sufficient to satisfy NVN's minimum daily needs: 

If an unlimited interdiction program were highly suc- 
cessful; the regime would encounter increasing difficulty 
and cost in maintaining the flow of some of their most 
essential m.ilit8.ry and economic goods. In the long teim the 
uncertainties and difficulties resulting from the cumulative 
effect of the air co.mpaigns would probably cause Ha,noi to 
•undertake a ba.sic reassessment of the proba,ble course of 
the war and the extent of the regimens commitment to it. 9/ 

By contrast;, according to the CIA analysis^ restricting the 
bombing to the Panhandle of ]WN and Laos would tend to strengthen Hanoi's 
will. The effect would be to force IWN to increase the repair labor 
' force in southern .NW and Laos by about 30 percent^ which could easily 

I be dravrn from other areas no longer being bombed. The flow of men and 

supplies wou],d continue. NVN would regard the change in the bombing pat- 
tern as a clear victory ^ evidence that international and domestic pressures 
on the U.S. were having an effect. It would be encouraged to believe that 
the U.S. was tiring of the war and being forced to retreat. lO/ 

Other considerations, however , were dominant in Washington 
at the highest levels. In mid-January another effort to communicate posi- 
tions with the DRV had been made and there was an understandable desire 
to defer escalatory decisions until it had been determined whether some 
possibility for negotiations existed, ll / Moreover 5 the TET holiday at 
the beginning of February , for which a truce had been anjiounced, made late 
January an inpropitious time to expand the bombing. Thus, on January 28, 
ROLLIKG THUroER prograra #53 authorized little more than a continuation of 
strikes within the parameters of previous authorizations. 12 / 

2. The TET Pause -- 8-1^ February 

As noted in the previous section of this paper, the Chiefs 
had recorded their opposition to any truce or military standdo-^m for the 
holida-^^s in late November. 13/ On January 2, General Westmoreland had 
"^ strongly recommended against a truce fpr TET because of the losses to 

friendly forces during the Christmas and Nev/ Year's truces just concluded. iMj 

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CINCPAC endorsed his opposition to any further truce as did the JCS on 
January h. VpJ The Chiefs pointed out that the history of U.S. experi- 
ence with such holiday suspensions of operations was that the VC/nvA 
had increasingly exploited them to resupply, prepare for attacks , redeploy 
forces and commit violations. Perhaps of most concern was the opportunity 
such standdowns provided the enemy to mount major unharassed logistical 
resupply operations. Thus, they concluded: 

Against this background of persistent exploita.tion of 
the standdown periods by the enemy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
view the forthcoming standdown for TET with grave concern. To 
grant the enemy a, respite diiring a fcur-day sta.nddown at TET 
will slov/ our campaigii, allow him time to reconstitute and 
replenish his forces, and cost us greater casualties in the 
long ruji. 16/ 

This unanimous military opposition v/as falling on deaf ears. 
The President and his a,dvisors had already committed the U.S. to a 
fou.r-day truce and such a belated change of course would have clearly 
rebounded to the public opinion benefit of the North Vietnamese (who had 
alrea.dy, on January 1, announced their intention to observe a 7"day TET 
truce). Thus^ on January 14, Ambassador Lodge was instructed to get the 
GW*s concurrence to m-aintain just the 96-hour standdown, but to tell 
them that the Allies should be prepared to extend the pause if fruitful 
contacts developed during it. I7/ Lodge replied the following day that 
the proposal was agreeable to the GVN and to the Allied Chiefs of Mission 
in Saigon. I8/ 

Acknowledging the political considerations which req.uired 
a pause, the Chiefs on January I8 proposed the announcem.ent of a set of 
conditions to the standdown: (l) that SEA DRAGON coutitersea infiltration 
operations continue up to 19*^; (2) that CINCPAC be authorized to resume 
air attacks against m_ajor land resupply efforts south of 19*^; (3) that 
operations be resumed in the DMZ area to counter any major resupply or 
infiltration; and (^) that v/arning be given that violations or VC/nvA 
efforts to gain tactical advantage in SVN during the truce, would prompt 
direct military counteractions. 19/ The reaction at State to these new 
JCS conditions wa.s vigorous. <ya January 21, Bundy'Sent Katzenbach a memo 
urging him to oppose anything that would compromise our suspension of 
operations against North Vietnam. 

, , ,1 strongly recommend against approving JCS proposals 
for broader military authority to respond to North Viet- 
Namese resupply activities in North Viet-Nam. . . .In my view, 
resupiDly activities li\ North Viet-Nam cannot be considered 
a sufficiently immediate and direct threat to our forces to 
justify the great political and psychological disadvantages 
of U.S. air a;nd naval strikes against North Viet-Namese 
territory during a truce period.- 20/ 

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No information is available on McNamara^s reaction to the proposed JCS 
truce limitations J "but on the basis of his general position on the 
bombing at that time he can be presumed to have opposed them. In any 
case, they "werj not adopted. The execute order for the suspension of 
hostilities authorized CINCPAC strikes only in the case of an immediate 
and direct threat to U.S. forces, and stipxilated that, "in the event 
reconnaissance disclosed major military resupply activity in North Vietnam 
south of 19 degrees north latitude, report immediately to the JCS." 21/ 
Decisions on how and when to respond to such resupply efforts would be made 
in Washington not Honolulu. This, then, was the issue whose merits would 
be the focus of debate at the end of the pause when furious diplomatic 
efforts to get talks started would generate pressure for an extension. 

Even before the holiday arrived pressure to extend the 
pause had begun to mount. On February 2, Leonard Marks, Director of 
USIA proposed to Rusk that the truce be extended, "in 12 or 24 hour 
periods contingent upon DRV and VC continued observance of the truce 
conditions." 22/ The latter included in his definition, "...suspension 
of all infiltration and movement toward infiltration. ..." 23/ At the 
Pentagon, at least mthin civilian circles, there was sentiment for 
extending the pause too. In the materials that John McNaughton left 
behind is a hand^^^ritten scenario for the pause v/ith his pencilled changes. 
The authorship is uncertain since the handwriting is neither McNaughton *s 
nor McNamara's (nor apparently that of any of the other key Pentagon 
advisors), but a note in the margin indicates it had been seen and approved 
by the Secretary. Therefore it is reproduced below. Underlined words 
or phrases are McNaughton 's modifications. 


1. President tell DRV before Tet, "We are stopping 
bombing at start of Tet and at the end of Tet we will not 


2. During Tet and in days thereafter ; 

a. Observe DRV/VC conduct for * signs' 

b. Try to get talks started. 

3- Meantime , avoid changes in 'noise level' in other 
areas of conduct — e.g., no lai^ge US troop deployments for 
couple vreeks, no dramatic changes in rules of engagement in 
South, etc . 

k. As for public handling : 

a. At end of 4 days of Tet m.erely extend to 7 days. 

b. A.t end of 7 day s just keep pausing, y iaking make no 

c. Later say " We are seeing what happens," 

d. Even later, say (if true) infiltration dowTi, etc. 

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5. I=f }is raust resume RT^ have 3?eas8Hs justifications ' 
and start in Route packages 1 & 2, wor king ve-tk North as 
excuses appear (and excuses will appear; . 

6. If talks start and DRV &-they demands ceasefire in 
South or cessation of US troop additions , consider exact deal 

7. Accelerate readiness of Project 728- ^nti-infiltration 

8. Avoid allowing our terms to harden just because things 
appear to be going better. 

(Vance: Hovr handle case if resupply keeps up during Pause?) 2^/ 

In a puzzling marginal note^ McNaughton recorded McNajnara's reaction to 
the scenario: "SecDef (2/3/57: 'Agreed we will do this if answer 
to note is unproductive' (?). Something like this even if productive. 
JTM." 25/ It is not clear what the Secretary may have had in mind in 
his reference to a "note." The U.S. had exchanged notes with the DRV 
through the respective embassies in Moscow in late January and he may 
have meant this contact. Another possibility is that he was thinking of 
the letter from the President to Ho that must have been in draft: at that 
time (it was to have been delivered in Moscow on February 7 hut actual 
delivery was not until the 8th). In either case^ McNamara must have 
foreseen this scenario for unilateral extension of the piause based on 
DRV actions on the ground as an alternative if they formally rejected 
our demands for reciprocity.^ 

Whatever the explanation^ the President's letter to Ho 
reiterated the demand for reciprocity: 

I am prepared to order a cessation of bombing against 
your covmtry and the stopping of further augaientation of 
U.S. forces in South Vietnam as soon as I am assured that 
infiltration into South Vietnam by land and by sea has stopped. 26/ 

The President did; hov^ever, tie his proposal to the Tet pause and voiced 
the ho-oe that an answer would be received before the end of Tet that would 
permit the suspension to continue and peace talks to begin. 

Pressures on the President to continue the pause also came 
from his domestic critics and from the international coimnunity. On the 
very day the pause began, the Pope sent a message to both sides in the 
conflict expressing his hope that the suspension of hostilities could be 
extended and open the way to peace. The President's reply was courteous 

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but firm: 

We aie prepared to- talk at any timr and place, in 
any forum, and with the object of bringing peace to 
Vietnam; however, I know you would not expect us to 
reduce military action unless the other side is willing 
to do likev/ise. 27/ 

Meanwhile the possibility that a definitive suspension of 
the bombing might produce negotiations became increasingly likely. 
Premier Kosygin had arrived in London to confer with Prime Minister 
Wilson on February 6, two days before the truce started. They immedi- 
ately began a frantic weeklong effort to bring the two sides together. 
Multiple interpretations of position were passed through the inter- 
mediaries in London, but in the end, the massive LEV resupply effort 
forced the U.S. to resume the bombing without having received a final 
indication from, the DRV as to their willingness to shov/ restraint. But 
this was not before the bombing halt had been extended from ^l- to 6 days, 
and not before the Soviets had informed the DRV of the deadline for an 

The factor which took on such importance and eventually 
forced the President's hand was the unprecedented North Vietnamese 
resupply activity during the bombing suspension. As already noted, the 
military had opposed the halt for just this reason and the 
and New Year's halts had given warning of what might be expected. By 
the time the truce had been in effect 2k hours, continuing surveillance had 
already revealed the massive North Vietnamese effort to move supplies into 
its southern panhandle. Washington sounded the alarm. On February 9 
Rusk held a press conference and v^arned about the high rate of supply 
activity. The same day Bundy called Saigon and London with details of 
the rate of logistical movement and v/ith instructions for dealing with 
the press. To London he stated: 

Ambassador Bruce. . .should bring this story to the 
attention of highest British levels urgently, pointing out 
its relevance both to the problems we face in continuing 
the Tet bombing suspension and to the wider problem involved 
in any proposal that we cease bombing in exchange for mere 
talks. In so doing, you should not repeat not suggest that 
we are not still wide open to the idea of continuing the 
Tet bombi i.g suspension through the 7"day period or at least 
until Kosygin departs London. You should emphasize, hovf- 
ever, that we are seriously concerned about these develop- 
ments and that final decision on such additional two- or 
' three-day suspension does involve serious factors in light 
of this information. 28/ 

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On February 10 DIA sent the Secretary a summary of the re supply situ- 
ation in the first US-hours of the truce. If the pattern of the first 
kQ hours contiruedj the DRV would move some 3^,000 tons of materiel 
southward, the eq,uivalent of 3^0 division-days of supply. 29 / 

Thus the pressure on the President to resume mounted. 
On February 12 when the truce ended^ the bombing was not resumed, but 
no announcement of the fact was made. The DRV were again invited to 
indicate what reciprocity the U.S. could expect. But no answer was 
forthcoming. Finally after more hours of anxious waiting by Kosygin 
and Wilson for a DRV reply, the Soviet Premier left London for home 
on February 13- The same day, the New York Times carried the latest 
Harris poll vzhich showed that 67% of the Amierican people suppoi'ted the 
bombing. Within hours, the bombing of the Forth was resumed. The Presi- 
dent, in speaking to the press, stressed the unparalleled magnitude of 
the North Vietnam-ese logistical effort during the pause as the reason he 
could no longer maintain the halt. ^O/ On February I5, Ho sent 
'the President a stiff letter rejecting U.S. demands for reciprocity and 
restating the DRV's position that the U.S. must unconditionally halt the 
bombing before any other issues could be considered. 31 / Thus, the book 
closed on another effort to bring the conflict to the negotiating table. 

B. More Targets 

1. The Pcst-TET Debate 


The failure of the Tet diplomatic initiatives once again 
brought attention back to mieasures which might put more pressure on the 
DRV. CINCPAC's January targetting proposals were reactivated for consid- 
eration in the week following the resumption of bombing. In early February, 
before the pause, CINCPAC had added to his requests for additional bombing 
targets a recLuest for authority to close North Vietnam's ports through 
aerial mining. Arguing that, "A drastic reduction of external support to 
the enemy would be a major influence in achieving our objectives...," he 
suggested that this could be accomplished by denying use of the ports. 
Three means of closing the ports v^ere considered: (l) naval blockade; 
(2) air strikes against port facilities; and (3) aerial mining of the 
approaches. The first was rejected because of the -undesirable political 
ramifications of confrontations with Soviet and third country shipping. 
But air strikea and mining were recommended as complementary ways of 
denying use of the ports. Closure of Haiphong alone, it was estimated, 
would have a dramatic effect because it handled some 95^0 of North Viet- 
namese shipping. 32 / In a related development, the JCS, on February 2, 
p-ave their endorsement to mining certain inland water^^/ays including the 
Kien Giang River and its seaward approaches. 33/ . 

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In the vreek following the Tet pause the range of possible 
escalatory actions came under full review. The President apparently 
req.uested a lis'dng of options for his consid.^ration^ because on Febru- 
ary 21 J Cyrus Vance , the Deputy Secretary of Defense, for\.rarded a package 
of proposals to Under Secretary Katzenbach at State for coimnent. Vance's 
letter stated, "The President v/ants the paper for his night reading 
tonight." sV The paper Vance transmitted gives every indication of 
having been written by McNaughton, although that cannot be verified. In 
any case, it began with the following outline "shopping list" of possible 
actions with three alternative JCS packages indicated: 

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21 Feb 67 


1. Military emotions against North Vietnam and in Laos 

A. Present program 1 


































































B. Options for increased military programs 2 

1. Destroy modern industry 3 

- Thermal power (7-plant griC.) 

- Steel and cement 

- Machine tool plant 
" Other 

X 2. Destroy dikes and levees 6 

3. Mine ports and coastal waters 7 

- Mine estuaries south of 20^ 

- Mine major ports and approaches ^ and estu- 
aries north of 20 

k. Unrestricted LOC attacks 10 

" Eliminate lO-mile Hanoi prohibited area 

- Reduce Haiphong restricted area to h miles 

- Eliminate prohibited/restricted areas except 
Chicom zone 

- Elements of 3 ports (Haiphong^ Cam Pha and Hon Gai) 

- h ports (Plaiphong, Cam Pha, Hon Gai and Hanoi Port) 

- Selected rail facilities 
" Mine inland water\iays south of 20 

- Mine inland water-ways north of 20*^ 

- 7 locks 

5. Expand naval surface operations 12 

- Fire at targets ashore and afloat south of 19*^ 

- Expand to 20^ 

- Expand north of 20*-^ to Chicom buffer zone 

6. Destroy MIG airfields lif 

- All unoccupied airfields 

- k not used for international civil transportation 

- 2 remaining airfields (Phuc Yen and Gia Lam) 

7. SHINING BRASS ground operations in Laos I5 

- Delegate State/DOD authority to CINCPAC/vientiane 

- Expand operational limits to 20 kni into Laos, 
increase helo operations, authorize larger forces, 
increase freq.uency of operation 

- Battalion-size forces; start guerrilla warfare 

8. Cause interdicting rains in or near Laos I6 

9. Miscellaneous 

- Base part of B-52 operations at U-Tapao, Thailand 

- Fire artillery from SVN against DMZ and north of DMZ 

- Fire artillery from SVN against targets in Laos 

- Amjminition dump k miles S^'^J of Haiphong 

- Air defense HQ. and Ministry of Defense HQ. in Hanoi 
II. Actions in South Vietnam 

A. Expand US forces and/or their role ^ I7 

- Continue current force build-up 

- Accelerate current build-up (deploying 3 Army bns in 6/67) 

- Deploy Marine brigade from Okinawa/Japan in 3/67 

- Devloj up to k divisions and up to 9 Q-i^ squadrons 

B. Improve pacification ' I8 



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The discussion section of the paper dealt with each of 
the eight specific option areas noting our capability in each instance 
to inflict heavy damage or complete destruction to the facilities in 
question. The important conclusion in each instance vras that elmination 
of the targets^ individually or collectively, could not sufficiently 
reduce the flow of men and materiel to the South to undercut the Communist 
forces fighting the war. The inescapable fact which forced this conclusion 
was that North Vietnam's import potential far exceeded its requirements 
and could sustain considerable contraction without impairing the war 
effort. The point was dramatically made in the following table: 

When Option k is taken together with Options 1-3 ^ the 
import and need figures appear as follows: 











Potential Now 

Potential After Attack 

By sea 

By Red River from China 
By road from China 
By rail from China 

6,500 ■ 






. TOTAL , 17,200 7^200 

Without major hardship, the need for imports is as follows (tons 
per day) : 

Normal imports 4,200 

■ If imports replace destroyed industrial production 1,400 

If imports replace rice destroyed by leveee breaks 600-2,^00 

TO'IAL 6,200-8,100 35/ 

With respect to crippling Hanoi's will to continue the war, 
the paper stated: 

Unless things were going very badly for them there 
fin the South/, it is likely that the North Vietnamese 
would decide to continue the war despite their concern over 
the increasing destruction of their country, the effect of 
this on their people, and their increasing apprehension 
that the US would invade the North. 3§/ 

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The expected reaction of the Soviet Union and China to these escalatory 
I j options varied^ but none was judged as unacceptable except in the case 

of mining the harbors. Here the Soviet Union vrould be faced with a 
difficult problem. The paper judged the likely Soviet reaction this . 

....To the USSRj the mining of the ports would be 
particu-larly challenging. Last year they moved some 
I I 530 5 000 tons of goods to North Vietnam by sea. If the 

ports remained closed ^ almost all of their deliveries -- 
military and civilian -- would be at the sufferance of 
Peiping^ with whom they are having increasing difficulties. 
They wou-ld be severely embarrassed by their inability to 
prevent or counter the US move. It is an open q,uestion 
vjhether they would be willing to take the risks involved 
in committing their own ships and aircraft to an effort 
to reopen the ports. 

In these circumstances ^ the Soviets would af least 
send a, token number of "volunteers" to North Vietnam if 
Hanoi asked for them^ and would provide Hanoi with new 
forms of military assistance -- e.g. 5 floating mines and 
probably cruise missiles (land-based or on Komar boats) ^ 
which could appear as a direct response to the US mining 
and which would endanger our ships in the area. 

The Soviets would be likely to strike back at the US 
■ in their bilateral relations, severely reducing what remains 
of normal contacts on other issues. They would focus their 
propaganda and diplomatic campaign to get US allies in 
Europe to repudiate the US action. They would probably 
also make other tension-promoting gestures, such as 
pressure in Berlin. The situation could of course become 
explosive if the mining operations resulted in serious 
damage to a Soviet ship. 37/ 

This confirmed Ambassador Thompson's judgment of a few days before. 

Mining of Haiphong Harbor would provoke a strong 
reaction here and Soviets would certainly relate it to 
their relations with China. .. .They would consider that 
we are quite willing to make North Vietnsxa entirely 
dependent uponCHIKCOMs with all which that would mply. 38/ 

•Thus, while considering a long list of possible escalations, it did not 
offer forceful arguments for any of them. The copy preserved in McNaughton's 
materials contains a final section entitled "Ways to Advance a Settlement." 
A -pencil note, hov/ever, indicates that this section vzas not sent to State 
^^^ presumably not to the President either. 

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At Stat 65 Biindy draf1:ed some comments on the OSD paper 
which generally supported its analysis. With respect to the proposals 
for mining Nortxi Vietnamese waters^ hovrever^ it made a significant 

( I . . .T^re wonld be inclined to separate the mining of 

I ports used by Soviet shipping from the mining of coastal 

waters where (we believe) most of the shipping, if not all, 
is North Vietnamese. Mining of the water^rays would have 
a more limited effect on Hanoi will and capacity, but would 
also be much less disturbing to the Soviets and much less 
likely to throw Hanoi into the arm-s of China, or to induce 
the Soviets to cooperate more ful2y with the Chinese. 39 / 

The distinction is important because the President the next day did in 
fact a.pprove the limited mining of internal waterways but deferred any 
decision on mining the ports. Beyond this, Bundy sought to reinforce 
j the undesirability of striking the sensitive dyke and levee system and 

' to emphasii?.e that the Chinese buffer zone was a more important sanctuary 

(from the point of view of likely Soviet and/or Chinese reactions) than 
the Hanoi "Haiphong perimeters, ko/ 

Several other memos of the same period appear in the files, 
but it is unlikely they had any influence on the new targets the President 
was considering. Roger Fisher had sent McNaughton another of his 
periodic notes on "future Strategy." After rehearsing the failures of 
the bombing program he suggested that "...all northern bombing be restricted 
to a narro-wer and narrower belt across the southern part of North Vietnam 
until it m-erges into air support for an on-the-ground interdiction barrier." hi / 
By thus concentrating and intensifying our interdiction efforts he hoped 
vre might finally be able to choke off the flow of men and goods to the 
South. . • 

A m^emo from, the President's special military advisor, 
General Max^-zell Taylor, on February 20 considered some of the difficulties 
of negotiations, in particular the seq.uence in which we should seek to 
arrange a ceasefire and a political settlement. He argued that it was 
'in the U.S. interest to adopt a "fight and talk" strategy, in which the 
political issues were settled first and the cease-fire arranged afte37Xiards, 
hopefully conducting the actual negotiations in secret while we continued 
to vigorously press the VC/WA in corn-bat. k2/ The President passed the 
memo on to the Secretaries of State and Defense and the Chairman of the 
JCS for their comment but since the question of negotiations was for the 
moment academic it probably had no bearing on the next bombing decisions. ^3/ 

2. A "Little" Escalation 

The President approved only a limited number of the measures 
presented to him, by and large 'those that would incur little risk of 

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counter-escalation. He authorized naval gunfire up to the 20th parallel 
against targets ashore and afloat, artillery fire across the DMZ, a 
slight expansion of operation in Laos, the mining of rivers and estu- 
aries south of 20^5 and new bombing targets for ROLLING THJNDER 5^- The 
latter included the remaining thermal power plants except Hanoi and 
Haiphong, and a reiteration of authority to strike the Thai Nguyen Steel 
Plant and the Haiphong Cement Plant (initially given in RT 53 but targets 
not struck), hk/ The President was neither ready nor willing, however, 
to consider the mining of the ports nor, for the moment, the removal of 
' ■ the Hanoi sanctuary. A decision on basing B-52s in Thailand was also 
deferred for the time being. 

I CINCPAC promptly took steps to bring the newly authorized 

targets under attack. On February 2k U.S. artillery units along the DMZ 
began shelling north of the buffer with long-range 175ii^' cannon. The 
same day the Secretary told a news conference that more targets in the 
North might be added to the strike list, thereby preparing the public for 
the modest escalation approved by the President two days before. On 
February 27 U.S. planes began the aerial mining of the rivers and coastal 
estuaries of North Vietnam below the 20th parallel. The mines were 

i eq.uipped with de-activa.tion devices to neutralize them at the end of 

three months. Weather conditions, however, continued to hamper operations 
over North Vietnam and to defer sorties from several of the authorized 
targets that req.uired visual identification weather conditions before 
strike approval co-uld be given. The Thai Ngi:iyen Iron and Steel complex, 

i for example, was not struck until March 10. The slow sq.ueeze was once 

more the order of .the day with the emphasis on progressively destroying 
North Vietnam's embryonic industrial capability. 

But the President intended that the pressure on the North 
be slowly increased to demonstra,te the firmness of our resolve. Thus 
William Bundy in Saigon in early March told Thieu on behalf of the Presi- 
dent that: 

GVN should have no doubt that President adhered to 
basic position he had stated at Manila, that pressure miust 
continue to be applied before Hanoi could be expected to 
change its attitude, while at the same time we remained 
completely alert for any indication of change in Hanoi's 
position. If was now clear from December and January events 
that Hanoi v/as negative for the time being, so that we were 
proceeding' with continued and somewhat increased pressures 
including additional m^easures a.gainst the North. 

The President perceived the strikes as necessary in the psychological 
test of v/ills between the two sides to pujiish the North", in spite of the 
near-consensus opinion of his advisers that no level of damage or destruC' 
tion that we were willing to inflict was likely to destroy Hanoi's 

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determination to continue the struggle. In a March 1st letter to 
- Senator Jackson (who had publicly called for raore bombing on February 27) 
I he pointed to ohe DRV' s violation of the two Geneva Agreements of 195^- 

and 1962 as the reason for the bombing^ its specific purposes being: 

.. .first. . .to back our fighting men and our fighting 
allies by demonstrating that the aggressor could not illegally 
bring hostile arms and men to bear against them from, the 
security of a sanctuary. 

Second... to impose on North Viet-Nam a cost for violating 
its international agreements. . ■ ^ 

Third.. -to limit or raise the cost of .bringing men and 
supplies to bear against the South. k6/ 

The formulation of objectives for the bombing was almost identical two 
weeks later v/hen he spoke to -the Tennessee Sta.te Legislature: 

— To back our fighting men by denying the enemy a 

sanctuary J 
— To exact a penalty against North Vietnam for her 

flagrant violations of the Geneva Accords of 195^1- 

and 19625 
— To limit the flovr^ or to substantially increase the 

cost of infiltration of men and materiel from North 

Vietnam, kj/ 


In both instances the President put the psychological role of the bombing 
ahead of its interdiction fujictions. There vras little evidence to sug- 
gest, however^ that Hanoi was feeling these pressures in the way in which 
Mr. Johnson intended them. 

3. The Guam, Conference and More Salami Slices 

Sometime early in March the President decided to arrange 
a high level conference to introduce his new team for Vietnam (Ambassadors 
Bunker and Komer^ General Abrams^ _et al..) to the men they were to replace 
and to provide them com-prehensive briefings on the problems they would 
face. Later it was decided to invite Thieu and Ky to the conference as 
well. The conference was scheduled for March 20-21 on Guam and the 
President led a large high-level delegation from Washington. Tv70 important 
events occurred just before the group gathered and in large degree pro- 
vided the backdrop if not the entire subject matter of their deliberations. 
First the South Vietnamese- Constituent Assembly completed its work on 

' a draft constitution on March I8 and Thieu and Ky proudly brought the 
document v/ith them to present to the President for his endorsement. 48/ 

■ Not surprisingly the great portion of the conference was given ever to 
discussions about the forthcoming electoral process envisaged in the new 
-titution through which legitimate government would once again be 

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restored to South Vietnana. The second significant development also 
occurred on the l8th when General Westmoreland sent CINCPAC a long 
cable requesting additional forces. ^9/ Hia req.uest amounted to little 
more than a restatement of the force req.uirements that had been rejected 
in November 1966 when Program #h was approved. The proposal must have 
hung over the conference and been discussed during it by the Principles 
even though no time had been available before their departure for a 
detailed analysis. 

The bombing program and the progress of the ant i- infiltration 
barrier were also items on the Guam agenda but did not occupy much time 
since other questions were more pressing. Some handwritten "press sug- 
gestions" which McNaughton prepared for McNamara reflect the prevalent 
Guam concern with the war in the South. McNaughton' s first point (origi- 
nally numbered ^k but renumbered 1 in red pen) was^, "Constant Strategy: 
A* Destroy Main Forces B. Provide Security C. Improve lot of people 
J), Press NYN (RT) E. Settle." ^oj As if to emphasize the preoccupation 
with the war in the South^ the Joint Comraunic[ue made no mention of the 
air war. But, if ROLLING THUNDER was only fourth priority in our "Constant 
Strategy/' the Guam Conference nevertheless produced approval for two 
significant new targets -- the Haiphong thermal power plants. They 
were added to the authorized targets of RT 5^ on March 22. A related 
action also announced on March 22 after discussion and Presidential 
approval at Guam was the decision to assign B-52s conducting ARC LIGHT 
strikes in North and South Vietnam to bases in Thailand as the JCS had 
long been recommending. Slowly the air war was inching its way up the 
escalatory ladder. 

During the Guam Conference one of the more unusual, unex- 
pected and inexplicable developments of the entire Vietnam war occurred. 
Hanoi, for reasons still unclear, decided to m.ake public the exchange 
of letters between President Johnson and Ho during the Tet truce. The 
North Vietnaiaese Foreign Ministry released the texts of the two letters 
to the press on March 21 while the President, his advisers and the South 
Vietnamese leadership were all closeted in Guam reviewing the progress 
of the war. Hanoi must have calc"a2.ated that it would embarrass the 
President, make the South Vietnamese suspicious of U.S. intentions, and 
enhance their own peacefuJL image. By admitting past contacts with the 
U.S. however, the DRV assumed some of the direct responsibility for the 
failure of peace efforts. Moreover, the President's letter was concili- 
atory and forthcoming whereas Ho's was cold and uncompromising. In any ' 
case the disclosure did the President no red harm with public opinion, 
a miscalculation which must have disappointed Hanoi greatly. After their 
return to Washington McNaughton sent McNamara a memo with some State 
Department observations on other aspects of the disclosure: 

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Bill Bimdy's experts read this into Ho Chi Minh's 
release of the Jolinson-Ho exchange of letters: (a) Ho 
thereby "played the world harp/' thereby "losing" in the 
Anglo-Saxon world; (b) to Ho*s Hanoi public, he "told off 
the Americans ;," showing the hard line but sjjiiultaneously 
reiterating the Burchette line (which China did not like); 
(c) in the process of q[uoting the President's letter^ Ho 
lea.ked the fact of previous exchanges ^ thereby admitting 
past contacts and preparing the public for future ones; 
and (d) Ho ignored the NLF. 5l/ 

The most immediate and obvious effect of the disclosure, however, was 
to throw cold water on any hopes for an early break in the Washington- 
Hanoi deadlock. 

Shortly after the President's return from the Pacific he 
received a memo from the Chairma-n of the JCS, General Ifeeeler, describing 
the current status of targets authorized uiader ROLLING THUNDER 5^. ^fliile 
most of the targets authorized had been struck, including the Thai Nguyen 
Iron and Stee3. plant and its associated thermal power facility, bad weather 
was preventing the kind of sustained campaign against the approved industrial 
■ targets that the JCS would have liked. 52/ The Thai Nguyen complex, for 
instance, had been scheduled for attack 51 tiraes by March 21, but only h of 
these could be carried out, the rest being cancelled because of a.dverse 
weather. Piecemeal additions to the authorized target list continued 
through the month .of April. On April 8, ROLLING THUmER program 55 was 
approved, adding the Kep airfield; the Hanoi power transformer near the 
center of tov/n; and the Haiphong cement plant, POL storage, and ammunition 
dump to the target list along with more bridges, railroad yards and vehicle 
parts elsewhere in the country. 53/ The restrictions on the Hanoi and 
Haiphong perimeters were relaxed to permit the destruction of these new 

In spite of the approval of these new "high-value" industrial 
targets that the JCS and CINCPAC had lusted after for so long, the Chairman 
in his m.onthly progress report to the President in April could report little 
.progress. Unusually bad weather conditions had forced the cancellation 
of large numbers of sorties and most of the targets had been struck 
insufficiently or not at all. 

In addition to broadening the MN target base, increased 
pressure must be attained by achieving greater effectiveness 
in destruction of targets, maintaining continuous harassment 
during periods of darkness and marginal attack weather, and 
generating surge strike capabilities during periods of visual 
attack conditions. , In view of the increased hostility of NVN 
air environment, achievement of arcixnd -the -clock strike 
") capability is imperative to effeqt maximum possible degrada- ■ 

-^ ^iQ-^ of the KVII air defense system which, in turn, will 

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increase over-all attack effectiveness. As radar "bombing/ 
pathfinder capabilities are expanded and techniq,ues per- 
fectedj the opportunity to employ additional strike 
forces effectively in sustained operations will improve 
significantly. _55/ 

These problems did not deter them from recommending the approval of three 
additional tactical fighter scLuadrons (to be based at Nam Phong^ Thai3-and) 
for the v/ar in the North. ^6/ The concept of operations under which 
these and other CINCPAC assigned aircraft were to operate was little more 
than a restatement of the goals set down the previous fall. The purpose 
was 5 "To make it as difficult and costly as possible for NVN to continue 
effective support of the VC and to cause NVN to cease direction of the 
VC insurgency." 57/ As usual, however , there vras no effort to relate 
requested forces to the achievement of the desired goals, which were to 
stand throughout the war as wishes not objectives against which one 
effectively programmed forces. 

On the same day the JOS endorsed Westy's force proposals 
CINCPAC 's planes finally broke through the cloud cover and attacked the 
two thermal pov/er generating facilities in Haiphong. The raids made 
world headlines. T\^to days later the specific go-ahead was given from 
Washington for strikes on the MIG airfields and on April 24th they too 
came lender attack. At this point, with the JGS endorsement of Westmoreland's 
troop requests, a major debate over future Vietnam policy, in all its 
aspects, began vrithin the Johnson Administration. It would continue 
through the month of May and into June, not finally being resolved until 
after McNamara*s trip to Vietnam in July and the Presidentia^l decisions 
on Program #5- But even while this m.ajor policy reviev;- vras gearing up, 
the impetus for the salami-slice escalation of our assault on North Viet- 
nam's industrial base produced yet another ROLLING THUNDER program. RT 56, 
whose principle new target was the thermal power plant located only 1 mile 
north of the center of Hanoi, became operational May 2. On May 5:) at 
McNamara's request. General V/heeler sent the President a mem.© outlining 
the rationale behind the attack on the entire North Vietnamese pcrvrer grid. 
In his words, 

As you know, the objective of our air attacks on the 
thermal electric power system in North Vietnam was not... to 
turn the lights off in major population centers, but were /slcj 
designed to deprive the enemy of a basic power source needed 
to operate certain war supporting faci2-ities and indiastries. 
You will recall that nine thermal power plants viere tied 
together, principally through the Hanoi Transfoi'mer Station, 
in an electric power grid in the industrial and population 
complex in northeastern North Vietnam. .. .These nine thermal 
power plants provided electric power needed to operate a 
cement plant, a steel plant, a chemical plant, a fertilizer 
plant, a m_achine tool plaint, an explosives plant, a textile 
plant," the ports of Haiphong and Hon Gai, major military 
installations such as airfields, .etc. The power grid 

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referred to above tied in the nine individual thermal 
electric power plants and permitted the north Vietnamese 
to switch kilov/attage as required araong the several con- 
sumers. All of the factories and facilities listed above 
contribute in one way or another and in varying degrees 
to the war effort in North Vietnam. For example ^ the 
steel plant fabricated POL tanks to supplement or replace 
fixed POL storage ^ metal pontoons for the construction 
of floating bridges ^ metal barges to augment infiltration 
capacity^ etc.; the cement plant produced some SOO^OOO 
metric tons of cement annually which has been used in the 
rehabilitation of lines of commujiication. ^8/ 

Wheeler went on to describe the "specific military benefits" derived 
from the attacks on the two Haiphong power plants ^ 

The tv/o power plants in Haiphong had a total 
of 17^000 kilowatts, some 9 per cent of the pre-strike 
national electric power capacity. Between them they 
supplied power for the cement plant , a chemical plant , 
i , Kien An airfield. Cat Bi airfield, the naval and 

repair facilities, the Haiphong shipyard repair facili- 
I ties and the electric power to operate the eq.uipment in 

the port itself. In addition, the electric power generated 
by these two plants could be diverted through the electric 
grid, mentioned above, to other metropolitan and industrial 
areas through the Hanoi transformer station. All of the 
aforementioned industrial, repair, airbase, and port facili- 
ties contribute to the North Vietnamese war effort and, in 
their totality, this support is substantial. 39/ 

Striking the newly approved Hanoi power plant would derive the following 
additional military advantages, VTheeler argued: 

The Hanoi Thermal Povrer plant has a 32,500 kilovratt 
capacity comprising 17 per cent of the pre-strike electric 
power production. Major facilities which would be affected 
by its destruction are the Hanoi Port Facility j, the Hanoi 
Supply Depot, a machine tool plant, a rubber plant, a lead 
battery plant, the Van Lien Vehicle Repair Depot, an inter- 
national telecommunications site, an international radio trans- 
mitter receiver site, the Bac Mai airfield, and the national 
military defense command center. All of these facilities 
contribute substantially to the North Vietnamese war effort. 
In addition, it should be noted a 35-kilovolt direct transmission 
line runs from the Hanoi Power Plant to Plaiphong and 
jlarn Dinh. Vie believe that, since the two Haiphong Thermial 

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Power Plants were damaged ;, the Hanoi Thermal Power Plant 
has been supplying 3,000 kilovzatts of to Haiphong 
over this direct transmission line^ this q,uantity is suffi-- 
j . cient to meet ahout 10 per cent of Haiphong's electric 

power req^uireraents. 398- / 
I I 

Exactly how reassuring this line of argiunent was to the 
President is impossible to say. In any case, the long-awaited attack 
on the Hanoi power facility was finally given the operational go-ahead 
on May 16, and on May 19 the strike took place. When it did the cries 
I I of civilian casualties were again heard long and loud from Hanoi. But 

the Hanoi pov^er pla,nt v/as the last major target of the U.S. "spring 
offensive" against North Vietnam's nascent industrial sector. The CIA 
on May 26 produced a highly favorable report on the effectiveness of 
} I the campaign against the DRV's electric power capacity. In summary it 


Air strikes through 25 May 196? against 1^ of the 20 
JCS-targeted electric povrer facilities in North Vietnam 
have put out of operation about I655OOO kilowatts (kw) of 
power generating capacity or 87 percent of the national 
total. North Vietnam is now left with less than 2^,000 k^f 
of central power generating capacity. 

Both Hanoi and Haiphong are no\<[ without a central 
power supply and must rely on diesel-generating eci.uipment 
as a power source. The reported reserve power system in 
Hanoi consisting of five underground diesel stations has 
an estimated power generating capacity of only 5^000 ta-;, or 
less than ten percent of Hanoi's normal needs. 60/ 

The last pha^ses of this attack on the North's electric power generating 
system in May I967 were being carried out against a backdrop of very high 
level deliberations in Washington on the future course of U.S. -strategy 
in the war. They both influenced and v/ere in turn influenced by the 
course of that debate, which is the subject of the next section of this 
paper. The fact that this major assault on the modern sector of the 
North Vietnamese economy while highly successful in pure target-destruction 
terms, had failed to alter Hanoi's determined pursuit of the v^ar would 
bear heavily on the consideration by the Principles of new directions for 
American policy. 

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C. The Question Again — Escalate or Negotiate? 

1. Two Courses - Escalate or Level Off 

As already discussed^ the JCS had transmitted to the 
Secretary of Defense on April 20 their endorsement of General Westmore- 
land's March troop req.uests (100^000 immediately and 200^000 eventually). 
In so doing the military had once again confronted the Johnson Adminis- 
tration with a difficult decision on whether to escalate or level-off 
the U.S. effort. VJhat they proposed was the mobilization of the Reserves, 
a m.ajor new troop commitment in the South ^ an extension of the war into 
the VC/lWA sanctuaries (Laos, Cam^bodia, and possibly North Vietnam), 
the mining of North Vietnamese ports and a solid coimiiitment in manpower 
and resources to a military victory. 6l/ The recommendation not unsur- 
prisingly touched off a searching reappriasal of the course of U.S. 
strategy in the war. 

Under Secretary opened the review on May 2^ in 
a memo to John McNaughton in which he outlined the problem and assigned 
the preparation of various policy papers to Defense, CIA, State and 
the I^ite House. As Katzenbach saw it. 

Fundamentally, there are three jobs which have to be done: 

1. Assess the cui'rent situation in Viet-Nam and the 
various political and m.ilitary actions which could be taken 
to bring this to a successful conclusion; 

2. Review the possibilities for negotiation, including 
an assessment of the ultimate U.S. position in relationship 
to the DRY and NLF; and 

3. Assess the military and political effects of intens- 
ification of the war in South Vietnam and in North Viet-Nam. 62/ 

Katsenbach's memo asked Defense to consider tv/o alternative courses of 
action: course A, the kind of escalation the militaiy proposed including 
the 200,000 new troops; and course B, the levelingroff of the U.S« troop 
commitment with an addition of no m-ore than 10,000 nevr men. Bombing 
strategies in the North to correlate with each course were also to be 
considered. Significantly, a territoria3.1y limited bombiing halt was 
suggested as a possibility for the first time. 

Consider with Course B, for example, a cessation, after 
the current targets have been struck, of North Viet- 
namese areas north of 20*^ (or, if it looked sufficiently 
important to maximi-ze an attractive settlement opportunity, 
cessation of bombing in all of North Viet-Nam. ) 63 / 


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The VTliite House was assigned a paper on the prospects and possibilities 
in the pacifico.tion program. State was to prepare a paper on U.S. 
settlement terr-is and conditions, and the CIA was to produce its usual 
estimate of the current situation. 

With respect to the air war^ the CIA had already to some 
extent anticipated the alternatives in a limited distribution memo in 
mid-April. 6V Their judgment was that Hanoi was taking a harder line 
since the publication of the Johnson-Ho letters in March and wouJ.d continue 
the am:i.ed struggle vigorously in the ne:x± phase waiting for a better 
negotiating opportunity. Three bombing programs were considered by the 
CIA. The first was an intensified program against military , industrial 
- . and LOG targets. Their estimate V7 as that whUe such a course would create 

serious problems for the DRV the minimum essential flow of supplies into 
the North and on to the South would continue. No great change in Chinese 
or Soviet policies vras ajiticipated from such a course of action. By 
adding the mining of the ports to this intensified air campaign, Hanoi's 
ability to support the war would be directly threatened. This would 
confront the Soviet Union v^ith difficult choices, although the CIA expected 
that in the end the Soviets would avoid a direct confrontation with the 
U.S. and would simply step up iheir support through China. Mining of the 
ports would put China in "...a commanding political position, since it 
would have control over the only remaining supply lines to North Viet- 
nam"." 65/ If the mining v^ere construed by Hanoi and/or Peking as the 
prelude to an invasion of the North, Chinese combat troops could be 
expected to move into North Vietnam to safeguard China's strategic 
southern frontier. As to the Hanoi leadership, the CIA analysis did 
not foresee their capitulating on their goals in the South even in the 
face of the closing of their ports. A third possibility, attacking the 
airfields, was expected to produce no major Soviet response and at most 
only the transfer of some North Vietnamese fighters to Chinese bases and 
the possible entry of Chinese planes into the air war. 

With a full-scale debate of future strategy in the offing, 
Robert Komer decided to leave behind his own views on the best course for 
U.S. policy before he went to Saigon to become head of CORDS. Questioning 
• whether stepped up bombing or more troops were likely to produce the 
desired results, Komer identified what he felt were the "Critic al Var i- 
able s VJhich Will Determine Success in Vietnam. " 66/ He outlined them, as 
follows : 

A. It is Unlikely that Hanoi wil] Negotiate . We 
can't count on a negotiated compromise. Perhaps the NLF 
would prove more flexible, but it seems increasingly 
under the thumb of Hanoi. 

B . More Bombing or Mining Would Raise th e Pain Level 
^-^ . "but Pr obably Wouldn't Force Hanoi to Cry Uncle . I'm no 

expert on this, but can't see it as decisive. Could it 

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prevent Hanoi from maintaining substantial infiltration 
if it choFe? Moreover^ some facets of jt contain danger- 
ous risks. 

C. Thus the Critical Variable is in the South ! The 
greatest opportunity for decisive gains in the next 12-18 
months lies in accelerating the erosion of the VC in 
South Vietnam, and in building a viable alternative with 
attractive power. Let's assuine that the FVA could replace 
its ].osses. I doubt that the VC could. They are now the 

•».p r- ■ -■ 1^ m .-ia,-.-!! ■■■ ■■I'll I . — J ■ --ii....^, .1 K I, a,.. ** 

"weak sisters of the enemy team. The evidence is not 
conclusive, but certainly points in this direction. 
Indeed, the WA strategy in I Corps seems designed to take 
pressure off the VC in the South. 67/ 

This was the first time that Komer, whose preoccupation was pacification, 

had seriously q,uestioned the utility of more bombing. Apparently the 
McNamara analysis v/as reaching even the more determined members of the 
White House staff. 

A different view of the bombing was presented to the 
President, however, by General Westmoreland on April 27. He had returned 
from Vietnam to argue in favor of his troop requests and for a consid- 
erable expansion of the war, as well as to appear before Congress and in 
public to strengthen support for the President's war policy. In his 
conversation with. the President on the 27th he stated, "I am frankly dis- 
mayed at even the thought of stopping the bombing prograra." 68 / General 
VJheeler in the same conversation, however, went even farther, taking the 
initiative to urge the closing of the ports as the next logical step 
against the DRV. But in addition he suggested that U.S. troops be 
authorized to extend the v/ar into the Laotian and Cambodian sanctuaries 
and that we consider the "possible invasion of North Vietnam. We may 
vdsh to take offensive action against the DRV with ground troops." 69 / 
The President remained skeptical to say the least. When Westmoreland 
spoke to Congress the following day he mentioned the bombing only in 
passing as a reprisal for VC terror and depradation in the South. 

Meanwhile, the Principle.'' continued their deliberations • 
They met on May 1 although there is no record of what transpired in 
their discussions. The only available paper for the meeting is one that 
Bill Bundy wrote for Secretary Katzenbach. Pundy's paper offered a fairly 
optimistic view of the overall prospects for the coming six months: 

Ove r-All Estimate . If we go on a*3 we are doing, if 
the political process in the South comes off well, and if 
the Chinese do not settle down, I myself would reckon 
that by the end of I967 there is at least a 50-5^ chance 
that a favorable tide vrill be running realJLy strongly in 
the South, and that Hanoi will be very discouraged. 

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I ' Whether they will move to negotiate is of coiirse a slightly 

different question, but we coiild be visibly and strongly 
on the way* 

If China should go into a real convulsion^ I would 
raise these odds slightly^ and think it clearly more likely 
II that Hanoi would choose a negotiating path to the conclusion. 70, 


Much of Bundy^s sanguine optimism was based on the convulsions going on 
in China. He estimated ths.t the odds for another significant Chinese 
internal upheaval were at least 5O-5O5 S'nd that this would offset 
Hanoi's recent promise of additional aid from the Soviets. He argued 
that it should be the principle factor in the consideration of any addi- 
tional step-up in the bombing, or the m.ining of Haiphong harbor. Specif- 
ically, he gave the following objections to more bombing: 

Additional Action in the North . Of the major targets 
still not hit, I would agree to the Hanoi power station, 
but then let it go at that, subject only to occasional 
re-strikes where absolutely required. In particular, on 
the airfields, I think \re have gone far enough to hurt and 
not far enough to drive the aircraft to Chinese fields, which 
I' think could be very dangerous. 

I would strongly oppose the mining of Haiphong at any 
time in the next nine months, unless the Soviets categori- 
cally use it to send in com.bat weapons, (it may well be 
that we should warn them quietly but firmly that we are 
watching their traffic into Haiphong vexy closely, and 
particularly from this standpoint.) Mining of Haiphong, at 
any time, is bound to risk a confrontation with the Soviets 
and to throw Hanoi into greater dependence on Communist 
China. These in themselves would be very dangerous and 
adverse to the whole notion of getting Hanoi to change its 
attitude. Moreover, I think they would somehow manage to 
get the stuff in through China no matter what we did to 
Haiphong. Jlf 

In addition to these considerations ^ however, Bundy was worried about 
the international implications of more bombing: 

Int ernational Eactors . liy negative feeling on serious 
* " additional bombing of the North and mining of Haiphong is 
based essentially on the belief that these actions will 
not change Hanoi's position, or affect Hanoi's capabilities 
in vrays that counter -balance the risks and adverse reaction 
^ in China and with the Soviets alone. 

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I t 

I I 

Nonetheless 5 I cannot leave out the wider inter- 
na.tional factors^ and particularly the British and 
Japanese as bellwethers. Both the latter have accepted 
our recent bombings with much less outcry than I^ 
frankly, would have anticipated. But if we keep it 
up at this pace, or step up the pace, I doubt if the 
British front will hold. Certainly we will be in a very 
bad Donnybrook next fall in the UN. 

Whatever the wider implications of negative reactions 
on a major scale , the main point is that they would 
undoubtedly stiffen Hanoi , and this is always the gut 
question. 7^/ 

With respect to negotiations , Bundy was guarded. He did 
not expect any serious moves by the other side until after the elections 
in South Vietnam in September. Thus, he argued against any new U.S. 
initiatives and in favor of conveying an. impression of "steady firm.- 
ness'^ on our part. It was precisely this impression that had been 
lacking from our behavior since the previous winter and that we should 
now seek to restore. This v/as the main point of his overall assessment 
of the situation, as the following summary paragraph demonstrates: 

A Steady, Firm Course . Since roughly the first of ' ■ 
December, I think we h^ave given a very Jerky and impatient 
impression to Hanoi. This is related m-ore to the timing 
and -suddenness of our bombing and negotiating actions than 
to the substance of v/hat v/e have done. I think that Hanoi 
in any event believes that the I968 elections could cause 
us to change our position or even lose heart completely. 
Our actions since early Decem-ber may well have encouraged and 
greatly strengthened this belief that we wish to get the 
war over by I968 e.t all costs. Our major thrust must be 
now to persuade them that we are prepared to stick it if 
necessary. This means a steady and considered program of 
action for the. next nine months. 73/ 

An SNIE a few days later confirmed Bundy 's viev/s about 
the unlikelihood of positive Soviet efforts to bring the conflict to 
the negotiating, table. It also affirmed that the Soviets would no doubt 
continue and increase their assistance to North Vietnam and that the 
Chinese would probably not impede the flow of materiel across its 
territory. tV 


Powerful and unexpected support for William Bundy 's general 
vievrpoint came at about this time from his brother, the former Presi- 
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to the President he outlined his current views as to further escalation 
of the air war (in the initiation of which he had had a large hand in 
1965) and furtf er troop increraents for the g-'ound war in the South: 

Since the Communist turndovm of our latest offers in 
February, there has been an intensification of bomfbing in 
the Norths and press reports suggest that there will be 
further pressure for more attacks on targets heretofore 
immune. There is also obvious pressure from the military 
for further reinforcements in the South, although General West- 
moreland has been a model of discipline in his public pro- 
nouncements. One may guess, therefore, that the President 
V7ill soon be confronted with req,uests for 100,000-200,000 
more troops and for authority to close the harbor in Haiphong. 
Such recommendations are inevitable, in the fram.ework of 
strictly military analysis. It is the thesis of this paper 
that in the m.ain they should be rejected, and that as a 
m-atter of high na,tional policy there should be a publicly 
stated ceiling to the level of American participation in 
Vietnam, as long as there is no further marked escalation on 
the enemy side. 

There are two major reasons for this recommendation: 
the situation in Vietnam and the situation in the United 
States. As to Vietnam, it seems very doubtful that further 
intensifications of bombing in the North or major increases 
in U.S. troops in the South are really a good way of bringing 
the war to a satisfactory conclusion. As to the United 
States, it seems clear that uncertainty about the future 
size of the war is now having destructive effects on the 
national will- 7^ / 

Unlike the vocal critics of the Administration, Mac Bimdy was not opposed 
to the bombing per se, merely to any further extension of it since he 
felt such action would be counter-productive. Because his views carry 
such weight, his arguments agaAnst extending the bombing are reproduced 
below in full: 

On the ineffectiveness of the bombing as'a means to 
end the war, I think the evidence is plain — though I vrould 
defer to expert estimators. Ho Chi Minh and his colleagues 
sim.ply aro not going to change their policy on the basis of 
losses from the air in North Vietnam. No intelligence 
estimate that I have seen in the last two years has ever 
claimed that the bombing would have this effect. The 
President never claim^ed that it vrould. The notion that 
this was its purpose has been limited to oxie school of 
thought and has never been the official Government position, 
whatever critics may assert. 

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I am very far indeed from suggesting that it would make 
sense now to stop the bombing of the North altogether. The 
argument for that course seems to me wholly unpersuasive at 
the present. To stop the bombing today would be to give the 
Conimunists something for nothing, and in a very short time 
all the doves in this country and around the world would be 
asking for some further unilateral concessions. (Loves and 
hawks are alike in their insatiable appetites; we can't 
really keep the hawks happy by small increases in effort — 
they come right back for more.) 

The real justification for the bombing, from the start, 
has been double — its value for Southern morale at a moment 
of great danger, and its relation to Northern infiltration. 
The first reason has but the second remains 
entirely legitimate. Tactical bombing of comm.uni cations and 
of troop concentrations — and of airfields as necessary — 
seems to me sensible and practical. It is strategic bombing 
that seems both unproductive and unwise. It is true, of 
course, that all careful bombing does some damage to the 
enemy. But the net effect of this dama^ge upon the military 
capability of a primitive country is aLn.ost sure to be 
slight. (The lights have not stayed off in Haiphong, and 
even if they had, electric lights are in no sense essential 
to the Communist war effort.) And against this distinctly 
marginal impact we to weigh the fact that strategic 
bombing does tend to divide the U.S., to distract us all 
from the real struggle in the South, and to accentuate the 
unease and distemper which surround the war in Vietnam, both 
at home and abroad. It is true that careful polls show 
majority support for the bombing, but I believe this support 
rests upon an erroneous belief in its effectiveness as a 
means to end the war. Moreover, I think those against 
extension of the bombing are more passionate on balance than 
those who favor it. Finally, there is certainly a point at 
which such bombing does increase the risk of conflict with 
China or the Soviet Union, and I am sure there is no majority 
for that. In particular, I think it clear that the case 
against going after Haiphong Harbor is so strong that a 
majority would back the Government in rejecting that course. 

So I think th8,t with careful explaxiation there would be 
more approval than disapproval of an announced policy restricting 
the bombing closely to activities that support the v/ar in the 
South. General Westmoreland's speech to the Q.on^-rQSS made 
this tie-in, but attacks on power plants really do not fit the 
•picture very well. We are attacking them, I fear, mainly 
because vre have "run out" of other targets. Is it a very good 
reason? Can anyone demonstrate that such targets have been 
very rev/arding? Remembering the claims made for attacks on 
oil supplies, should we not be very skeptical of new promises? 76/ 

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In a similar fashion Bundy developed his arguments against a m-ajor 
increase in U.S. troop strength in the South and urged the President 
not to take any new diplomatic initiatives for the present. But the 
appeal of Bundy 's analysis for the President must surely have been its 
finale in which Bundy, acutely aware of the President's political 
sensitivities J cast his arguments in the context of the forthcoming 
1968 Presidential elections. Here is how he presented the case: 

There is one further argument against major escalation 
in 1967 and I968 which is worth stating separately, because 
on the surface it seems cynically political. It is that 
Hanoi is going to do everything it possibly can to keep .its 
position intact until after our I968 elections. Given their 
history, they are bound to hold out for a possible U.S. shift 
in 1969 — that's what they did against the French, and they 
got most of what they wanted when Mendes took power. Having 
held on so long this time, and having nothing much left to 
lose -- compared to the chance of victory -- they are bound to 
keep on fighting. Since only atomic bombs could really knock 
them out (an invasion of North Vietnam would not do it in 
two years, and is of course ruled out on other grounds), they 
have it in their power to *'prove" that military escalation 
does not bring peace — at least over the next two years. 
They will surely do just that. However much they may be 
hurting, they are not going to do us any favors before 
November I968. (And since this was dra.fted, they have been 
publicly advised by Walter Lippmann to wait for the Republicans -- 
as if they needed the advice s.nd as if it was his place to give 


It follows that escalation will not bring visible victory 
over Hanoi before the election. Therefore the election will 
have to be fought by the Administration on other grounds. 
i I think those other grounds are clear and important, and that 

j they will be obscured if Oiir policy is thought to be one of 

increasing -- and ineffective -- military pressure. 

If we assume that the war will still be going on in 
November I968, and that Hanoi will not give us the pleasure 
of consenting to negotiations sometime before then what we 
must plan to offer as a defense of Administration policy is 
" not victory over Hanoi, but growing success — and self- 
reliance — in the South. This we can do, with luck, and on 
this side of the parallel the Vietnamese authorities should be 
prepared to help us out (though of course the VC will do their 
damnedest against us.) Large parts of Westy's speech (if not 
quite all of it) were wholly consistent with this line of argu- 
ment. 77- 


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His siommation must have been even more gratifying for the beleaguered 
President. It was both a paean to the President's achievements in 
Vietnam and an appeal to the prejudices that had sustained his policy 
from the beginning: 

•..if we can avoid escalation-that-does-nct-seem- 
to-work, v;"e can focus attention on the great and central 
achievement of these last two years: on the defeat we 
have prevented. The fact that South Vietnam has not been 
lost and is not going to be lost is a fact of truly m.assive 
importance in the history of Asia, the Pacific, and the U.S. 
An articulate minority of "Eastern intellectuals" (like Bill 
Falbright) may not believe in what they call the domino 
theory, but most Americans (along with nearly all Asians) 
knovr better. Under this Administration the United States 
has already saved the hope of freedom for hundreds of 
millions — in this sense, the largest part of the job is 
done. This critical3-y im.portant achievement is obscured 
by seeming to act as if we have to do much more lest \re 
fail. 78/ 

Whatever his ovm reactions, the President was anxious to 
have the reactions of others to Bundy*s reasoning. He asked McNamara 
to x^^ss- the main portion of the memo to the Chiefs for their comment 
without identifying its author. Chairman Wheeler promptly replied. 
His memo to the President on May 5 rejected the Bundy analysis in a 
detailed listing of the mdlitary benefits of attacking the DRV pov/er 
grid and in a criticism of Bundy' s list of bombing objectives for 
failing to include punitive pressure as a prime motive. With respect 
to Bundy 's recommendation against interdicting Haiphong Harbor, the 
General was terse and pointed: 

As a matter of cold fact, the Haiphong port is the 
single most vulnerable and important point in the lines of 
comjTiuni cations system, of North Vietnam. During the first 
q^uarter of 1967 general cargo deliveries through Haiphong 
have set new records. In March 1^2,700 metric tons of cargo 
passed through the port; during the month of April there 
v/as a slight decline to 132,000 metric tons. 'Nevertheless, 
it is noteworthy that in April 31,900 metric tons of bulk 
foodstuffs passed through the port bringing the total of 
foodstuffr delivered in the first four months of I967 to 
100,680 metric tons as compared to 77,100 metric tons of 
food received during all of calendar I966. These tonnages 
underscore the importance of the port of Haiphong to the 
war effort of North Vietnam and support my statem^ent that 
Haiphong is the m-ost important point in the entire North 
Vietnamese lines of communications system. Unless and 
until we find some m.eans of obstructing and reducing the 
- flow of war supporting material through Haiphong, the North 

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Vietnamese will continue to be able to support their war 
effort both in North Vietnam and in Sou'.h Vietn3.m* 79/ 

But the lines were already clearly being drawn in this . 
internal struggle over escalation and for the first time all the civilians 
(both insiders and significant outsiders) were opposed to the military 
proposals in whole or part. At this early .stage, however, the outcome 
was far from clear. On the same day the Chairman criticized the Bundy 
paper, Roger Fisher, McNaughton's longtime advisor from Harvard, at the 
suggestion of Walt Rostow and Doug Cater, sent the President a proposal 
re-orienting the U.S, effort both militarily and diplomatically. The 
flavor of his ideas, all of which had already appeared in notes to 
McNaughton, can be derived from a listing of the headings under which 
they were argued without going into his detailed arguments. His analysis 
fell under the following six general rubrics: 

I I 1. Pursue an on-the-ground interdiction strategy 

(barrier) ; 

2. Concentrate air attacks in the southern portion 
of North Vietnam; 

3* Offer Hanoi some realistic "yes-able" propositions; 

k. Make the carrot more believable; 

5- Give the NLF a decidable question; 

6. Give local Viet Cong leaders a chance to opt out 
of the war. 8o/ 

The arguments to the President for applying the brakes to our involve- 
ment in this seemingly endless, wi.nless struggle were, thus, being made 
from all sides, except the military who remained adamant for escalation. 

2, The May PPM Exercise 

The available documents do not reveal V7hat happened to 
the option exercise that Katzenbach had launched on April 2k. But at 
this point in the debate over future direction for U.S. policy in South- 
east Asia, att'-jntion shifted to a draft memor-andum for the President 
written by John McNaughton for McNamara's eventual signature. (A W. Bundy 
memo on May 30 suggests the Katzenbach exercise was overtaken by Defense's 
DPM effort.) The DPM at the Pentagon is more than a statement of the 
Secretary's views, however, it is an important bureaucratic device for 
achieving consensus (or at least for getting people's opinions recorded 
._ f^^ paper). McNaughton began his DPI^'i by stating that the question before 

the house was: 

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whether to continue the program of air attacks in the 
Hanoi "Haiphong area or for an indefinite period to 
concentrate all attacks on the lines of communication in 
the lower half of North Vietnam (south cf 20O). 8l/ 

Short of attacking the ports ^ which was rejected as 
risking confrontation with the USSR^ the Memorandum said^ there were 
few important targets left. The alternative of striking minor fixed 
targets and continuing armed reconnaissance. against the transportation 
system north of 20'-' was relatively costly, risky, and unprofitable: 

We have the alternative open to us of continuing to 
conduct attacks between 20-23^ -- that is, striking minor 
- fixed targets (like battery, fertilizer, and rubber plants 
and barracks) while conducting armed reconnaissance against 
movement on roads, railroads and waterways- This course, 
however, is costly in American lives and involves serious 
dangers of escalation. The loss rate in Hanoi -Haiphong 
Route Package 6 /"the northeast q.uadrant75 for exam,ple, is 
more than six times the loss rate in the southernmost 
Route Packages 1 and 2; and actions in the Hanoi -Haiphong 
area involve serious risks of generating confrontations with 
the Soviet Union and China, both because they involve 
\ ■ destruction of MIGs on the ground and encounters with the 

KEGs in the air and because they may be construed as a US 
intention to crush the Hanoi regime. 

■ The military gain from destruction of additional mili- 
tary targets north of 20° will be slight. If we believed 
that air attacks in that area would change Hanoi's will, they 
might be vrorth the added loss of American life and the risks 
of expansion of the war. However, there is no evidence that 
this will be the case, while there is considerable evidence 
that such bombing will strengthen Hanoi's will. In this 
connection, Consial -General Rice /of Hong Kong/.. -said what 
we believe to be the case — that we cannot by bombing reach 
the critical level of pain in North Vietnam and that, "below 
that level, pain only increases the will to fight." Sir 
. Robert Thompson, who was a key officer in the British 
success in Malaya, said... that our, particularly 
in the Red River basin, "is unifying North Vietnam." 82/ 

Nor the Memorund'um continued, was bombing in northernjnost NVN essential 
for the morale of SVN and US troops. General Westmoreland fully supported 
strikes in the Hanoi/Haiphong area and had even said, as noted before, 
that he was "frankly dismayed at even the thought of stopping the bombing 
TDrogram," but his basic requirement was for continuation of bombing in 
the "extended battle zone" near the DMZ. 


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The Memorandum vrent on to recommend what Roger Fisher 
had been, suggesting, namely concentrating strikes in the lower half 
of MN, vrithout, however, turning the upper half into a completely 
forbidden sanctuary: 

! ^ We therefore recommend that all of the sorties 

allocated to the ROLLING THUNDER program be concentrated 
on the lines of comm^unications — the "funnel" through 
which men and supplies to the South must flow -- between 
17-20° reserving the option and intention to strike (in the 
20-30*-^ area) as necessary to keep the enemy's investment in 
defense and in repair crews high throughout the country. 83/ 

The proposed change in policy was not aimed at getting 
KVN to change its behavior or to negotiate, and no favorable response 
from Hanoi should be expected: 

But to optimize the chances of a. favorable Hanoi 
reaction, the scenario should be (a) to inform the Soviets 
quietly (on May I5) that within a few (5) days the policy 
would be implemented, stating no time limits and making no ■ 
promises not to return to the Red River basin to attack 
targets which later acquired military importance, and then 
(b) to make an unliuckstered shift as predicted on May 20. 
We would expect Moscow to pass the May I5 information on to 
Hanoi, perhaps (but probably not) urging Hanoi to seize the 
opportunity to de-esca-late the war by talks or otherv/ise. 
Hanoi, not having been asked a question by us 8.nd having no 
ultimatum-like time limit, might be in a better posture to 
react favorably than has been the case in the past. 8^/ 

The MemoranduEU recommended that the de-escalation be explained 
as improving the military effectiveness of the bombing, in accordance 
with the interdiction rationale: 

Publicly, when the shift had become obvious (May 21 
or 22), we shoi-ild explain (a) that as we have always said, 
the war must be won in the South, (b) that we have never said 
bombing of the North would produce a settlemeht by breaking 
Hanoi's will or by shutting off the flov7 of supplies, (c) that 
the North must pay a price for its infiltration, (d) that the 
major northern military targets have bem destroyed, and (e) 
that now v/e are concentrating on the narrow neck through 
which supplies must flow, believing that the concentrated 
effort there, as compared with a dispersed effort throughout 
North Vietnam, under present circumstances will increase the 
efficiency of our interdiction effort, and (f) that v;e may 
■ ^..^ ■ have to return to targets further north if military consid- 
erations require it. 

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This LlcITaughton DPM on TDombing was prepared as an adjunct 
to a larger DPM on the overall strategy of the v/ar and new ground force 
deployments. Together they were the focus of a frantic weekend of work 
in anticipation of a White House meeting on Monday , May 8. That meeting 
v/ould notj however, produce any positive decisions and the entire drafting 
exercise would continue until the following vreek vrhen McNamara finally 
transmitted a draft memorandum to the President. Among those In the 
capital that v/eekend to advise the President was McGeorge Bundy with whom 
McNamara conferred on Sunday. 86 / 

Walt Rostow at the l\hite House circulated a discussion 
paper on Saturday^ May 6^ entitled "U.S. Strategy in Viet Nam." Rostcw's 
paper began by revievring what the U.S. was attempting to do in the war: 
frustrate a communist takeover "by defeating their main force units; 
attacking the guerilla infrastructure; and building a. South Vietnamese 
govermnental and security structure...." 87 / The pui-pose of the 
war in the North was defined as "To hasten the decision in Hanoi to 
abandon the aggression..-/' for which we specifically sought: 

(i) to limit and harass infiltration; and 

(ii) to impose on the North sufficient military and 
civil cost to make them decide to get out of the war 
earlier rather than later. 88/ 

Sensitive to the criticisms of the bombing, Rostow tried to dispose of 
certain of their arguments: 

We have never held the view the^t bombing could stop 
infiltration- We have never held the view that bombing of 
the Hanoi -Haiphong area alone would lead them to abandon the 
effort in the South. We have never held the view that 
bombing Hanoi -Haiphong would directly cut back infiltration. 
We have held the view that the degree of military and 
civilian cost felt in the North and the diversion of 
resources to deal with our bombing could contribute 
marginally — and perhaps significantly--to the timing of 
a decision to end the war. But it was no substitute for 
making progress in the South. 89/ 

Rostow argued that while there were policy decisions to be m^ade about 
the war in the Souths particularly with resp-^ct to nevr force levels, 
there existed no real disagreem.ent with the Administration as to our 
, general strategy on the ground. T-fnere contention did exist was in the 
matter of the air war. Here there x^rere three broad strategies that could 
be pursued. Rostov; offered a lengthy analysis of the three options which 
is included here in its entirety, since to summsrrize it would sacrifice 
much of its. pungency. 

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A. Cl osing the top of the funnel 

Under this strategy we would mine the major harhors andj 
perhaps, bomb x:)ort facilities and even consider 
In addition^j v/e woul.d attack systematically the rail lines 
between Hanoi and mainland China. At the m-oment the total 
import capacity into North Viet Nam is about 17^200 tons 
per day. Even vrith expanded import req,uirement due to 
the food shortage 5 imports are, in fact, coming in at about 
5700 tons per day. It is possible with a concerted and 
determined effort that we could cut back im-port capacity 
som-ewhat below the level of requirements; but this is not 
sure. On the other hand^ it would require a difficult and 
sustained effort by North Viet Nam and its allies to pre- 
vent a reduction in total imports below requirem.ents if we 
did all these things. 

The costs would be these: 

— The Soviet Union would have to pexrmit a radical increase 
in Hanoi's dependence upon Comiaunist China^ or introduce 
minesweepers^ etc., to keep its supplies coming into Hanoi 
by sea; 

— The Chinese Communists would probably introduce -^^ 

many more engineering and anti-aircraf^b forces along the 
roads and rail lines between Hanoi and China in order to 
keep the supplies moving; 

— To maintain its prestige , in case it coi")J_d not or 
would not open up Hanoi -Haiphong in the face of m-ines, the 
Soviet Union might contemplate creating a Berlin crisis. 
With respect to a Berlin crisis, they would have to weigh 
the possible split between the U.S. and its Western European- 
allies under this pressure against damage to the a.tmosphere 
of detente in Europe which is working in favor of the French 
Communist Party and providing the Soviet Union with generally 
enlarged influence in Western E'orcpe. 

I myself do not believe that the Soviet Union would go . 
to war with us over Viet Nam unless we sought to occupy 
North Viet Nam; and^ even then, a military response from 
Moscow would not be certain. 

With respect to Communist China^ it always has the 
option of invading Laos and Thailand; but this would not 
•^Q a^ rational response to naval and air operations designed 
) .^Q strangle Hanoi. A war 'throughout Southeast Asia would 

not help Hanoi; although I do believe Communist China would 

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fight us if we invaded the northern part of North Viet Nam. 

One can alvrays take the view that^ given the tumioil 
inside Conmiunist China, an irrational act by Peiping is 
possible. And siich irrationality cannot be ruled out. 

I conc3.ude that if we try to close the top of the 
funnelj tension between ourselves and the Soviet Union 
and Coimnunist China would increase; if we were very deter- 
mined , vre could impose additional burdens on Hanoi and its 
allies; we might cut capacity below requirements; and the 
outcome is less likely to be a general v/ar than more likely. 

B. Attackin^^ what is inside the funnel 

This is wha-t we have been doing in the Hanoi -Haiphong 
area for some weeks. I. do not agree with the view that the 
attacks on Hanoi -Haiphong have no bearing on the war in the 
South. They divert massive amounts of resources, energies, and 
attention to keeping the civil and military establishm.ent 
going. They impose general econonac, political, and psycho- 
logical difficulties on the North which have been complicated 
this year by a bad harvest and food shortages. I do not 
believe that they ^'harden the will of the North." In my 
judgment, up to this point, our bombing of the North he^s been 
a painful additional cost they have thus far been willing to 
bear to pursue their efforts in the South. 

On the other hand: 

— There is no direct, immediate connection between bombing 
the Hanoi -Haiphong area and the battle in the South; 

— If we complete the attack on electric power by taking 
out the Hanoi station — which constitutes about 80^ of the 
electric power supply of the country now operating — we 
will have hit most of the targets whose destruction imposes 
serious military-civil costs on the North. 

— With respect to risk, it is unclear whether Soviet 
vrarnings about our bombing Hanoi -Haiphorg represent decisions 
already taken or decisions which might be taken if -we persist 
in banging away in that area. 

It is my judgment that the Soviet reaction will continue 
to be addressed to the problem imposed on Hanoi by us; that is, 
they might introduce Soviet pilots as they did in the Korean 
War' they might bring ground-to-ground missiles into North 
Viet Nam with the object of attacking our vessels at sea and 


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our airfields in the Danang area. 

I do not believe that the continuation of attacks at 
about the level we have been conducting them in the Hanoi - 
Haiphong area will lead to pressure on Berlin or a general 
war v/ith the Soviet Union • In fact^ carefu.lly read, what 
the Soviets have been trying to signal is: Keep away from 
our ships; we may counter- escalate to some degree; but 
we do not want a nuclear confrontation over Viet Nam. 

£• Concentration i n Route Packages 1 and 2 

Tlie advantages of concentrating virtually all oirr attacks 
in this area are three: 

-"■We would cut our loss rate in pilots and planes; 

— We would somewhat improve our harassment of infil- 
tration of South Viet Nam; 

— We would diminish the risks of counter-escalatory 
action by the Soviet Union and Communist China; as compared 
with courses A and B.. 


With this analysis of the pros and cons of the va.rious 
options, Rostow turned to recommendations. He rejected course A as 
incurring too many i-isks with too little return. Picking up McNaughton's 
recom-mendation for concentrating the air war in the North Vietnamese 
panhandle, Rostow urged that it be supplemented with an open option to 
return to the northern "furjriel^^ if developments warranted it. Here is 
how he formulated his conclusions: 

With respect to Course B I believe we have achieved 
greater results in increasing the pressur-e on Hanoi and 
raising the cost of their continuing to conduct the 
aggression in the South than some of my m.ost respected 
colleag^^aes would agree. I do not believe we should lightly 
abandon what we have accomplished; and specifically, I 
believe we should mount the m-ost economical and careful 
attack on the Hanoi power station our air tacticians can 
devise. Moreover, I believe >re should keep open the option 
of coming back to the Hanoi -Haijjhong area, dpending upon 
what we learn of their repair operations; and what Moscovr's ' 
and Peiping's reactions are; especially vrhen we understand 
better what effects we have and have not achieved thus far. 

I believe the Soviet Union may well have taken certain 
counter-steps addressed to the more effective protection of 


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the Hanoi -Haiphong area' and .may have decided — or could 
shortly decide --to introduce into North Viet Nam some 
surface-to-surface missiles. 

With respect to option C^ 1 believe we should, vrhile 
keeping open the B option , concentrate our attacks to 
the maximimi in Route Packages 1 and 2j and, in conducting i -Haiphong attacks, we should do so only when the targets 
m.ake sense. I do not expect dramatic results from increasing 
the weight of attack in Route Packages 1 and 2; but I believe 
we are wasting a good many pilots in the Hanoi -Haiphong area 
without commensurate results. The major objectives of 
maintaining the B option can be achieved at lower cost. 90/ 

Although he had endorsed a strike on the Hanoi power plant, he rejected 
any attack on the air fields in a terse, one sentence final paragraph, 
"Air field attacks are only appropriate to the kind of sustained operations 
in the Hanoi -^Haiphong area associated with option A." 

Tv^^o important members of the Administration, McNaughton 
and Rostow, had thus weighed in for confining the bombing to the panhandle 
under some formula or other. On Monda^y, May 8, presumably before the 
policy meeting, Williajn Bundy circulated a draft memo of his own which 
pulled the problem apart and assembled the pieces in a very different 
v/ay. Like the others, Bundy 's draft sta-rted from the assuiaption that 
bombing decisions would be related to other decisions on the war for 
which a consensus appeared to exist: pressing ahead with pacification; 
continued political progress in the South; and continued pressvire on the 
North. To Bundy 's way of thinking there were four broad target categories 
that could be combined into various bombing options: 

-^' " Concentration on supply routes ." This would com- 
prise attacks on supply routes in the southern "bottleneck" 
areas of North Vietnam^ from the 20th parallel south. 

^' " Re -strikes ," This would comprise attacks on targets 
already hit, including imless othervase stated sensitive targets 
north of the 20th parallel and in and around Hanoi/plaiphong, which 
were hit in the last three weeks. 

3- " Additional sensit ive targets." North of the 20th 
parallel, there are additional sensitive targets that have 
been on our recent lists, including Rolling Thunder 56. 
Som-e are of lesser importance, some are clearly "extremely 
sensitive" (category h below), but at least three — the 
Hanoi power station^ the Red River bridge, and the'Phuc Yen 
airfield -- could be said to round out the April progi^am* 
These three are the essential targets included in this 

category 3» 

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^* " E^^g^— ^y sensitive target s." This would comprise 
targets tliat are exceptionally sensitive;, in terms of 
Chinese a,nd/or Soviet reaction^ as well as domestic and 
international factors. For example , this list would include 
mining of Haiphong, ^bombing of critical port facilities in 
Haiphong/ - pencilled in/ and bom-bing of dikes and dams not 
directly related to supply route vza^ter^mys and/or involving 
heavy flooding to crops. 92/ 

I I Biindy suggested that by looking at the targetting problem in this way 

a series of options could be generated that were more sensitive to 
considerations of time-phasing. He offered five such options: 

Option A v/ould be to move up steadily to hit all the 
target categories ^ including the extremely sensitive targets. 

O ption B would be to step up the level a little fu.rther 
and stay at that higher level through consistent and fairly 
frequent re-strikes. Specifically^ this would involve hitting 
the additiona,l sensitive targets and then keeping 8.11 sensitive 
targets open to re-strike^ although with individual authoriza- 

Option C V70uld be to raise the level slightly in the 
near futtire by hitting the additional sensitive targets ^ 
but then to cut back essentially to concentration on supply 
routes. Re-strikes north of the 20th paralJ.el would be very 
limited imder this option once the additional sensitive targets 
had been hitj and would be limited to re-strikes necessary 
to eliminate targets directly important to infiltration and, 
as necessary, to keep Hanoi's air defense system in place. 

Option D vrould be not to hit the additional sensitive 
targets, and to define a fairly level prograjn that would 
concentrate heavily on the supply routes but would include 
a significant num^ber of re-strikes north of the 20th parallel. 
Since these re-strikes would still be substantially less 
bunched than in April, the net effect would be to scale dovm 
the bombing slightly from present levels, and to hold it there. 

Option E would be to cut back at on^e to concentration 
on supply routes. Re-strikes north of the 20th parallel 
• would be limited to those defined tinder Option C. 93/ 

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To crystallize more clearly in his readers' minds what 
the options implied in intensity compared with the current effort he 
employed a niimerical analogy: 

To put a rough nujuerical index on these options ^ one 
might start by saying that our general level in the past 
year has been Force h^ with occasional temporary increases 
to Force 5 (POL and the December Hanoi strikes). On such 
a rough numerical scale, olu^ April program has put us at 
Force 6 at present. Option A would raise this to 8 or 9 
and keep it there , Option F would raise it to 7 and keep it 
there 5 Option C would raise it to 7 and then drop it to 3, 
Option D would lower it to 5 and keep it there , and Option E 
V70uld lower it to 3 and keep it there. Sk/ 

Bundy's analysis of the merits of the five options began 
with the estim.ate that the likelihood of Chinese intervention in the war 
was slight except in the case of option A^ a probability he considered 
a major argtmient against it. He did not expect any of the courses of 
produce a direct Soviet intervention, but warned against the possibility 
of Soviet pressures elsewhere if option A v/ere selected. He underscored 
a report from Ambassador Thompson that the Soviets had been greatly con- 
cerned by the April bombing program and were currently closeted in delib- 
erations on general policy direction. Bombing of any major new targets 
in the immediate future wotild have an adverse effect on the Soviet leader- 
ship and was discouraged by Bundy. Option A was singled out for further 
condemnation based on the views of some China experts who argued that an 
intensive bombing program rndght be just what Mao needed to restore internal 
order in China and resolidify his control. 

With respect to the effect of the bombing on North Vietnam, 
Bundy cited the evidence tha.t strikes against the sensitive military 
targets were having only temporary and marginal positive benefits, and 
they were extremely costly in planes and pilots lost. By restricting the 
bombing to South of the 20th parallel as McNaughton had suggested, the 
military payoff might just be .greater and tbe psychological strengthening 
of North Vietnamese will and morale less. The main factor in Hanoi 
attitudes, however, was the war in the South and neither a bombing halt 
nor an intensive escalation would have a decisive impact on it one way 
or the other. In Bundy's estim.ation Hanoi had dug in for at least 
another six m.onths, and possibly until after the US elections in I968. 
In the face of chis the U.S. should try to pioject an image of steady, 
even commitment without radical shii^fcs. This approach seemed to Bundy 
best suited to m,aximizing U.S. public support as well, since none of the 
courses would really satisfy either the convinced ''doves" or the unflinching 
"hawks." The bombing had long since ceased to have much effect on South 

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Vietnamese moraJ.e, and international opinion would react strongly to 
any serious escalation. Closing out his analysis ^ Bundy argued for 
a decision soon^ possibly before the upcoming one-day truce on Buddha's 
birthday 5 May 23^ when the new program might be presented. 

On the basis of this analysis of the pros and cons, Bundy 
concluded that options A and B had been clearly eliminated. Of the three 
remaining courses he urged the adoption of D^ thus aligning himself 
generally with McNaughton and Rostow. The specific reasons he adduced for 
his recommendation were the following: 

Option D Elaborated and Argued 

The first e lem.en t in Option D is that it would not 
carry the April program to its logical conclusion by hitting 
the Hanoi power station , the Red River bridge ^ and the 
Phuc Yen airfield^ even once. 

The argument against these targets is in part based 
on reactions already'" discussed. Although we do not believe 
that they v/ould have any significant chance of bringing the 
Chinese into the war, they might have a hardening effect on 
immediate Soviet decisions, and could significantly aggi^avate 
criticism in the UK. and elsewhere. 

The argument relates above all to the precise nature 
and location 'of these targets. The Hanoi power station is 
only a half mile from the Russian and Chinese Embassies, and 
still closer to major residential areas. The Red River 
bridge is the very area of Hanoi that got us into the greatest 
outcry in Decem.ber. In both cases, the slightest mistake 
could produce really major and evident civilian casualties 
and tremendously aggravate the general reactions we have 
already assessed. 

As to the Phuc Yen airfield, we believe there is a 
significant chance that this attack would cause Hanoi to 
assume we were going to make their jet operational airfields 
progressively untenable. This could significantly and in 
itself increase the chances of their moving planes to China 
and all the interacting possibilities that then arise. We 
believe we have gone far enough to hurt 'chem and worry them. 
Is it wise to go this further step? 

The second elem.ent in this strategy is that it v^ou].d 
level off where v/e are, but with specific provision for 
periodic re-strikes against the targets we have already hit. 
This has clear pros and cons. 

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Pros . Continued re-strikes would maintain the 
concrete results already attained — the lights would 
stay out ill -Haiphong for the most part. 

Continued re-strikes would tend to keep the "'hawks" 
under control. Indeed , without them^ it would almost 
certainly be asked why we had ever hit the targets in 
the first place. This might conceivably happen without 
re-strikes, but would be at least doubtful. 

Most basically, Hanoi and Moscow would be kept at 
least a little on edge. As we have noted ea^rlier, fear 
of tiltimate expansion of the war is an elem_ent that tends 
to impel the Soviets to maximize and use their leverage 
on Hanoi tov/ard a peaceful settlement. 9^/ 

This significant convergence of opinion on bombing strategy 
in the next phase among key Presidentia.l advisers could not gone 
mmoticed in the May 8 meeting, but there being no record of what trans- 
pired, the consensus can only be inferred from the fact that the 19 May 
DPM did incorporate a bombing recommendation along these lines. Inter- 
vening before then to reinforce the views of the civilian Principles 
were several CIA intelligence memos. Together they constituted another 
repudiation of the utility of the The summary CIA view of the 
effect of the bombing on North Vietnamese thinking was that: 

Twenty-seven months of US bombing of North Vietnajn 
have had remarkably little effect on Hanoi's over-all 
strategy in prosecuting the war, on its confident view 
of long-term Communist prospects, and on its political 
tactics rega-rding negotiations. The growing pressure of 
US air operations has not shaken the North Vietnamese 
leaders' conviction that they can withstand the bombing 
and outlast the US and South Vietnam in a protra.cted wa.r 
of attrition. Nor has it caused them to waver in their 
belief that the outcome of this test of wilH- and endura.nce 
will be determined primarily by the course of the conflict 
on the ground in the South, not by the air war in the North. 

As to the state of popular morale after two years of U.S. bombing, the 
CIA concluded that: 

Morale in the DRV among the rank and file populace, 
defined in terms of discipline, confidence, and vrilling- 
ness to endure hardship, appears to have undergone only 
a small decline since the bombing of North Vietnam began. 

-, --i^ -^ -X- -x- -K- 

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With only a few exceptions ^ recent reports suggest 
a continued: willingness on the part of the populace to 
abide by Hanoi's policy on the war. Evidence of extermination 
to persist in support of the war effort continues to be as 
plentiful in these reports as in the past. The current 
popular mood might best be characterized^ in fact;, as one 
of resolute stoicism with a considerable reservoir of 
endurance still untapped. 97/ 

Even the extensive physical damage the bombing had done 
to North Vietnam could not be rega^rded as meaningfully reducing Hanoi's 
capacity to sustain the war: 

Through the end of April 196? the US air campaign 
against North Vietnam- -Rolling Thunder — had significantly ' 
eroded the capacities of North Vietnam's limited indus- 
tri8,l and military base.' These losses^ however , have not 
meaningfully degraded North Vietnam's material ability to 
continue the war in South Vietnam. 98/ 

Certain target system.s had suffered more than others ^ particularly trans- 
portation and electric power, but throughput capacity for materiel had 
not been signficantly decreased. One of the funds^mental reasons was 
the remarkable ability the North Vietnamese had dem.onstrated to recuperate 
q.uickly from the strikes: 

North Vietnam's ability to recuperate from the air 
attacks has been of a high order. The major exception 
has been the electric pov^er industry. 

^ -K- -X- -5^ -X- 

The recuperability problem is not significant for the 
other target systems. The destroyed petroleum storage 
system has been replaced by an effective system of dispersed 
storage and distribution. The damaged military targets 
systems — particularly barracks and storage depots--have 
siraply been abandoned^ and supplies and troops dispersed 
throughout the country. The inventories of transport 
and military eq^uipment have been replaced by large infusions 
of militar;y" and economic aid from the UJSR and Comraunist 
China. Damage to bridges and lines of communications is 
• freq.uently repaired within a matter of days, if' not hours, 
or the effects are cottiitered by an elaborate system of 
■ multiple bypasses or pre-positioned spans. 99/ 

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3- The May 19 DM 

By the 19th of May the opinions of McNamara and his key 
aides with respect to the bombing and Westy's troop req.uests had 
crystalized sufficiently that another Draft Presidential Memorand-um 
was written. It was entitled, "Future Actions in Vietnajra/^ and was 
a comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the war — military, political, 
and diplomatic. It opened v/ith an appraisal of the situa^tion covering both 
North and South Vietnam, the U.S, domestic scene and internationa.l opinion. 
The estim.ate of the situation in North Vietncim hevred very close to the 
opinions of the intelligence community already referred to. Here is how 
the analysis proceeded: 

C. North Vietnam 

Hanoi's attitude towards negotiations has never been 
soft nor open-minded. Any concession on their part would 
involve an enormous loss of face. Whether or not the Polish 
and Burchett-Kosygin initiatives had much substance to them, 
it is clear that Hanoi *s attitude currently is hard and rigid. 
They seem, uninterested in a political settlement and deter- 
mined to match US military expansion of the conflict- This 
change proba.bly reflects these factors: (l) increased assur- 
ances of help from the Soviets received during Phara Van Dong's 
April trip to Moscow; (2) arrangements providing for the 
unhindered passage of m^ateriel from the Soviet Union through 
China; and (3) a decision to wait for the results of the 
US elections in 1968. Hanoi appears to have concluded that 
she cannot secure her objectives at the conference table 
and has reaffirmed her strategy of seeking to erode our 
ability to rem.ain in the South. The Hanoi leadership has 
apparently decided that it has no choice but to submit to 
the increased bombing. There' continues to be no sign that 
the bombing has reduced Hanoi's will to resist or her ability 
to ship the necessary supplies south. Hanoi shows no signs 
of ending the large war and advising the VC to melt into the 
jungles. The North Vietnamese believe they are right; they 
• consider the Ey regime to be puppets; they believe the world 
is V7ith them and that the American public will not have 
staying power against them. Thus, although they may have 
factions in the regime favoring different approaches, they 
believe that, in the long run, they are stronger than we are 
for the purpose. They probably do not vj-ant to make significant 
concessions, and co-old not do so without serious loss of face. lOO/ 

When added to the continuing difficulties in bringing the 
\jd.-r in the South under control, the unchecked erosion of U.S. public sup- 
T)ort for the wa,r, and the smoldering international disq.uiet about the need 


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and purpose of such U.S. intervention;, it is not hard to understand the 
DPM^s statement that;, "This memorandum is vy-ritten at a time when there 
appears to be nc attractive course of action/' lOl/ Nevertheless^ 
'alternatives' was precisely what the DH/I had been written to suggest. 
These were introduced with a recapitulation of where we stood m.ilitarily 
and what the Chiefs were recommending. With respect to the vrar in the 
North J the DBl stated: 

Against North Vietnam ^ an expansion of the "bombing 
progrs^ii (ROLLING TPIUNDER 56) was approved mid-April. Before 
it was approved;, General VJlrieeler said^ "The bombing campaign 
is reaching the point where we will have struck all worth- 
while fixed targets except the ports. At this time we will 
have to address the req.uirement to deny the DRV the use of 
the ports." With its approval^ excluding the port areas^ 
no major military targets remain to be struck in the North. 
All that remains are minor targets^ restrikes of certain 
major targets ^ and armed reconnaissance of the lines of com- 
munication (LOCs) -- andj under ne\r principles^ mining the 
harbors 5 bombing dikes and locks ^ and inva^ding North Vietnam 
v/ith land armies. These new military moves against North 
Vietnam^ together with land movements into Laos and Cambodia^ 
are now under consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 102/ 

The broad alternative courses of action it considered were 

two ; 

COURSE A. Grant the request and intensify military 
actions o utside the South — especially a gainst the North . 
Add a minim-urn of 200^000 men -- 100,000X2-1/3 division plus 
II 5 tactical air sq,uadrons) would be deployed in FY I9685 another 

IOO5OOO (2-I/3 divisions and 8 tactical air scLuadrons) in FY 
1969^ Q'Hd possibly more later to fulfill the JCS ultimate 
requirem.ent for Vietnam and associated world-v/ide contingencies. 
Accompanying these force increases (as spelled out below) would 
be greatly intensified military actions outside South Vietnam — 
including in Laos and Cambodia but especially against the North. 

COURSE B. Limit force increases to no more than 30,000; 
avoid extending the ground conflict beyond the borders of 
South Vietnam; and concentrate the bombing on the infiltration 
routes south of 20*^. Unless the military situation worsens 
dramatically, add no more than 9 battalions of the approved 
program of 87 battalions. This course vrould result in a level 
of no more than 500,000 men (instead of the c^orrently planned 
ij.70 000) on December 31? I968. (See Attachjnent IV for details.) 
A part of this course would be a termination of bombing in 
•^Yie Red River basin miless military necessity req.uired it, 
and a concentration of all sorties in North Vietnam on the 

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infiltration routes in the neck of North Vietnam^ between 
I70 and 20°. IO3/ 

For the purposes of this paper^ it is not necessary to 
develop the entire DM arguiuentation of the pros and cons of the respec- 
tive courses of action. It will suffice to include the sections dea.ling 
with the air war elements of the tv/o options, (it shouJ_d "be notedj 
however 5 that the air and ground programs were t reacted as an integrated 
package in each option,) This then was the way the DPM developed the 
analysis of the war segment of course of action A: 

Bombing Purposes and Payoffs 

Our bombing of North Vietnam vras designed to serve 
three purposes: 

— (1) To retaliate and to lift the morale of the people 
in the South who were being attacked by agents of the North. 

— (2) To add to the pressure on Hanoi to end the war. 

— (3) To reduce the flow and/or to increase the cost 
of infiltrating men and materiel from North to South. 

We cannot ignore that a lim.itation on bombing will 
cause serious psychological problems among the men^ 
officers and comraanders, who v/ill not be able to under- 
stand why we should withhold pvmishment from the enemy. 
General Westmoreland said that he is "fi^ankly displayed 
at even the thought of stopping the bombing program." 
But this reason for attacking North Vietnam must be 
scrutinized carefully. We should not bomb for punitive 
reasons if it serves no other piurpose -- especially if 
analysis shovrs that the auctions may be counterproductive. 
It costs Americ3.n lives; it creates a backfire of 
revulsion and opposition by killing civilians; it creates 
serious risks; it may harden the enemy. , - . 

With respject to added pressure on the Norths it is 
becoming apparent that Hanoi may alreadv have "written 
off" all assets and lives that might be destroyed by 
US military actions short of .occupation of annihilation. 
They can and will hold out at least so long as a prospect 
of winning the "v;ar of attrition" in the South exists. 
And our best judgment is that a Hanoi prerequisite to 
negotiations is significant retrenchm.ent (if not complete 

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stoxipage of US military actions against theia — at the leasts 
a cessation of bombing. In this connection^ Consul -General 
Rice (Hon^ Kong 758I5 5/1/^7) said that, in his opinion, 
we cannot by bombing reach the critical level of in 
North Vietnajii and that, ^^below that level, pain only increases 
the will to fight." Sir Robert Thompson said to Mr. Vance 
on April 28 that our bombing, particularly in the Red River 
Delta, "is unifying North Vietnam." 

With respect to interdiction of men and materiel, it 
now appears that no combination of actions against the North 
short of destruction of the regime or occupation of North 
Vietnamese territory will physically reduce the flow of 
men and materiel below the relatively small amount needed by 
enemy forces to continue the war in the South. Our effort 
can and does have severe disruptive effects, which Hanoi 
can and does plan on and pre-stock against. Our efforts 
physically to cut the flov/ meaningf^olly by actions in North 
Vietnam therefore largely fail and, in failing, transmute 
attempted interdiction into pain, or pressui*e on the North 
(the factor discussed in the paragraph next above). The 
lov/est "ceiling" on infiltration can probe.bly be achieved 
by concentration on the North Vietnamese "funnel" south of 
20^-^ and on the Trail in Laos. 

But V7hat if the above analyses are wrong? Why not 
escalate the" bombing and mine the harbors (and perhaps 
occupy southern North Vietnam) — on the gamble that it 
would constrict the flow, meaningfully limiting enemy 
action in the South, and that it v/ould bend Hanoi? The 
ansv^er is that the costs and risks of the actions must be 

The primary costs of course are US lives: The air campaign 
against heavily defended areas costs us one pilot in every ^0 
sorties. In addition, an important but hard-to-measure cost 
is domestic and world opinion: There may be a limit beyond 
which many Americans and much of the \rovld will not permit 
the United States to go. The picLiire of the world's greatest 
superpower killing or seriously injuring 1000 non-combatants 
a week, while trying to pound a tiny back\'7ard nation into 
submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is 
not a pretty one. It could conceivably produce a costly 
I ■ distortion in the American national consciousness and in 

the world image of the United States -- especially if the 
damage to North Vietnam is complete enough to be "successful." 

W ^^ The most important risk, however, is the likely Soviet, 

Chinese and North Vietnamese reaction to intensified US air 
I attacks harbor -mining, and ground actions against North Vietnam. 

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Likely Coiranunist Reactions 

At the present time, no actions — except air strikes. and 
artillery fire necessary to q^uiet hostile batteries across 
the border — are- allov/ed against C3.mbodian territory. In 
Laos 5 we average 5000 attack sorties a month against the infil- 
tration routes and base areas, we fire artillery from South 
Vietnam against targets in Laos, and w^e vrill be providing 
3-ma,n leadership for each, of 20 12-man US-Vietnamese Special 
Forces teams that operate to a depth of 20 kilometers into 
Laos. Against North Vietnam, we average 8,000 or more attack 
sorties a month against all w^orthwhile fixed and LOG targets; 
we use artillery against ground targets across the DMZ; we 
fire from naval vessels at targets ashore and afloat up 
to 19*^; and we m^ine their inland water^^ays, estuaries. . .up 
to 200. . 

Intensif i ed air attacks against the sam,e types of tar gets , 
we vrould anticipate, would lead to no great change in the 
policies and rea.ctions of the Communist powers beyond the 
furnishing of some new equipment and manpovrer . "^^ China>, for 
example, has not reacted to our striking MG fields in North 
Vietnam, and we do not expect them to, although there are some 
signs of greater Chinese participation in North Vietnam^ese 
air defense. 

Mining the harbors would be much more serious. It would 
place Moscow in a particularly galling dilemm^a as to how to 
preserve the Soviet position and prestige in such a disad- 
vantageous place. The Soviets might, but probably vjould not, 
force a confrontation in Southeast Asia -- where even with 
minesweepers they would be at as great a military disadvantage 
as we vrere when they blocked the corridor to Berlin in I96I, 
but where their vital interest, unlike ours in Berlin (and in 
Cuba), is not so clearly at stake. Moscow in this case should 
be expected to send volunteers, including pilots, to North 
Vietnam; to provide some new and better weapons and equipment; 

■^ The U.S. Intelligence Board on May 5 said that Hanoi may 
press Moscow for additional equipment and that there is a 
*'"good chance tha.t under pressure the Soviets would provide 
such weapons as criiise missiles and tactical rockets" in 
addition to a limited number of volunte-^rs or crews for air- 
craft or sophisticated equipment. Moscow, with respect to 
equipment, m-ight provide better surface-to-air missiles., 
better anti-aircraft guns, the yAK-28 aircraft, anti-tank 
missiles a,nd artillery, heavier artillery and mortars, 
coastal defense missiles with 25-5O mile ranges and 2200- 
pound warheads, KOMA.R guided-missile coastal patrol boats 
with 20-mile surface-to-surface missiles, and som.e chemical 
muniti^ons. She might consider sending medium jet bomtbers 
and fighter bom.bers to pose a threat to all of South Vietnam. 

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to consider some action in Korea, Turkey, Iran, the Middle 
East or, most likely, Berlin, where the Soviets can control 
the degree of crisis better; and to sho\v across-the-board 
hostility toward the US (interrupting any on-going conver- 
sations on AMs, non-proliferation, etc.)* China could be 
expected to sei^e upon the harbor-mining as the opportunity 
to reduce Soviet political influence in Planci and to dis- 
credit the USSR if the Soviets took no- military action to 
open the ports. Peking might read the harbor-mining as 
indicating that the US was going to apply military pressure 
un.til North Vietnara capituJ-ated, and that this meant an 
eventual invasion. If so, China might decide to intervene 
in the war with combat troops and air power, to which we 
vjould eventually have to respond by bombing Chinese air- 
fields and perhaps other targets as well. Hanoi would 
tighten belts, refuse to talk, and persevere -- as it could 
without too much difficulty. North Vietnam wou-ld of course 
be fully dependent for supplies on China's will, and Soviet 
influence in Hanoi would therefore be reduced. (Ambassador 
Sullivan feels very strongly that it would be a serious mis- 
take, by our actions against the port, to tip Hanoi away 
from Moscow and toward Peking.) 

To US ground actions in North Vietnam , we vrould expect 
China to respond by entering the vrar \i±th both ground and 
air forces. The Soviet Union could be expected in these 
circumstances to take all actions listed above under the lesser 
provocations and to generate a serious confrontation with 
the United States at one or more places of her own choosing. loV 

The arguments against Course A were summed up in a final paragraph: 

Those are the likely costs and risks of COURSE A. They 
are, we believe, both unacceptable and unnecessary. Ground 
action in North Vietnam, because of its escalatory potential, 
is clearly unv/ise despite the open invitation and temptation 
posed by' enemy troops operating freely back and forth across 
the DMZ. Yet we believe that, short of threatening and per- 
haps toppling the Hanoi regime itself, pressui-e against the 
North will, if anything, harden Hanoi's unwillingness to talk 
and her settlement terms if she does. China, we believe, will 
oppose settlem.ent throughout. Vie believe that there is a 
chance that the Soviets, at the brink, will exert efforts to 
bring abovit peace 3 but vre believe also that intensified 
bombing and harbor -mining, even if coupled with political 
pressure from Moscow, \rlll neither bring Planoi to negotiate 
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With Course A rejected^ the DPM turned to consideration 
of the levelling-off proposals of Course B. The analysis of the de- 
escalated bombing program of this option proceeded in this manner: 

The bombing program that wo-old be a part of this 
strategy is^ basically, a program of concentration of 
effort on the infiltration routes near the south of 
i I North Vietnam. The major infiltration-related targets 

in the Red River basin having been destroyed, such inter- 
diction is now best served by concentration of all effort 
in the southern neck of North Vietnam. All of the sorties 
would be flown in the area betvreen 17*^ and 20^. This shift, 
despite possible increases in anti-aircraft capability in the 
area, should reduce the pilot and aircraft ■ loss rates by more 
than 50 per cent. The shift will, if anything, be of posi- 
tive military value to General TiestmiOrela.nd while taking 
some steam- out of the popular effort in the North. 

The above shift of bombing strategy, now that almost 
all major targets have been struck in the Red River basin, 
I j can to military advantage be made at any time. It should 

not be done for the sole purpose of getting Planoi to nego- 
tiate, although that m.ight be a bonus effect. To maximize 
the chances of getting that bonus effect, the optimum scenario 
would probably be (l) to inform the Soviets quietly that 
within a few days the shift would take place, stating no 
time limits but m-aking no promises not to return to the 
Red River basin to attack targets which later acquire mili- 
tary importance (any deal with Hanoi is likely to be mid- 
wifed by Moscow); (2) to make the shift as predicted, without 
fanfare; and (3) to explain publicly, when the shift had 
become obvious, that the northern targets had been destroyed, 
that that had been militarily important, and that there would 
be no need to return to the northern areas unless m-ilitary 
necessity dictated it. The shift should not be huckstered. 
Moscow would almost certainly pass its information on to 
Hanoi, and might urge Hanoi to seize the opportunity to 
de-escalate the vrar by talks or othei^fise. Hanoi, not having 
been asked a question by us and having no ultimatum-like 
time limit, would be in a better posture to answer favorably 
than has been the case in the past. The mi3-itary side of 
the shift is sound, however, whether or not the diplomatic 
spill-over is successful. 106/ 

In a section' dealing with diplomatic and political con- 
siderations, the DR'I outlined the political view of the significance 
of the struggle as seen by the US and by Ha.noi. It then developed 
^ a conception of larger US interests in Asia aroimd the necessity of 
"^ containing China. This larger interest required settling the Vietnam 

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■ war into perspective as only one of three fronts that req.uired U.S. 
attention (the other two being Japan-Korea ani India-Pakistan). In 
the overall view^ the DPM argued, long-r^on trends in Asia appeared 
favorable to our interests: 

The fact is that the trends in Asia today are running 
mostly for, not against^ our interests (vn.tness Indonesia 
and the Chinese confusion); there is no reason to be pessi- 
mistic about our ability over the next decade or tv;o to 
fashion alliances and combinations (involving especially 
Japan and India) sufficient to keep China from encroaching 
too far. To the extent that ovjc original intervention and 
our existing actions in Vietnam were m.otivated by the 
perceived need to draw the line against Chinese expansion- 
ism in Asia, our objective has already been attained, and 
COURSE B will suffice to consolidate it I lOj/ 

With this perspective in mind the B'RA went on to reconsider and restate 
UoSo objectives in the Vietnam contest under the heading "Commitment 
and Hopes Distinguished": 

The time has come for us to eliminate the ambiguities 
from our minimum objectives -- our commitments — in 
Vietnam. Specifically, two principles must be articulated, 
and policies and actions brought in line with them: (l) 
' Our commitment is only to see that the people of South 
Vietnam are permitted to determine their own future. (2) This 
comn:itment ceases if the country ceases to help itself. 

It follows that no matter how much we might h ope for some 
things, our commitment is not : 

— to expel from South Vietnam regroupees, who 
are South Vietnamese (though we do not like them), 

— to ensure that a particular person or group 
remiains in power^, nor that the power runs to 
every corner of the land (though we prefer 
certain types and we hope their writ will run 
throughout South Vietnam) ^ 

— to guarantee that the self-chosen government is 
non-Communist (though we believe and strongly 
hope it will be), and 

j' — to insist that the independent South Vietnam 

• ^^-N. ■ remain sepa-rate from North Vietnam (though in the 

J short-run, \re would prefer it tha^t v/ay) . 

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(Nor do we have an obligation to pour in effort out 
of proportion to the effort contributed by the people of . ' 
South Vietnam or in the face of coups, corruption^ apathy 
or other indications of Saigon failure to cooperate effec- 
tively with us.) 

YJe are coimnitted to stopping or off setting the effect 
of North Vietnam's application of force in the South, which 
denies the people of the South the a^bility to determine 
their own future. Even here, however, the line is hard to 
draw.. Propaganda and political advice by Hanoi (or by 
Washington) is presuaiably not barred; nor is econom-ic aid 
or economic advisors. Less clear is the rule to apply to 
military advisors and war materiel supplied to the contesting 
factions . 

The importance of nailing down and understanding the 
implications of our limited objectives cannot be over- 
emphasized. It relates intimately to stra-tegy against the 
North, to troop req.uirements and missions in the South, 
to handling of the Saigon government, to settlem-ent terms, 
and to US domestic and international opinion as to the 
justification and the success of our efforts on behalf of 
Vietnam. 108/ 

This articulation of Ajnerican purposes and comimitments in 
Vietnara pointedly rejected the high blovm f ormulations ■ of U.S. objectives 
in NSAM 288 ("an independent non-comraunist South Vietnam," "defeat the 
Viet Cong," etc.), and came forcefully to grips with the old dilemma of 
the U.S. involvement dating from the Kennedy era.: only limited means 
to achieve excessive ends. Indeed, in the following section of specific 
recomm^endations, the DPM urged the President to, "Issue a NSA14 nailing 
down US policy as described herein." 10 9/ The emphasis in this scaled- 
dc^'m set of goals, clearly reflecting the frustrations of failure, was 
South Vietnamese self-determination. The DPM even went so far as to 
suggest that, " the South will be in position /s±o/ ^ albeit imperfect , 
to sta rt the business of producing a full-spectrum government in South 
Vietnam." 110 / Itoat this amounted to was a recommendation that we 
accept a compromise outcome. Let there be no mistake these were radical 
positions for a senior U.S. policy official within the Johnson Adminis- 
tration to take. They would bring the bittei; condemnation of the Chiefs 
and were scarcely designed to flatter the President on the success of his 
'efforts to date. That they represented a more realistic mating of U.S. 
strateo-ic objectives and capabilities is another matter. 

The scenario for the unfolding, of the recommendations in 
the DPM went like this: 

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■ (k) June : Concentrate the bombing of North Vietnam on 
physical iriterdiction of men and materiel. This would mean 
terminating^ except where the interdiction objective clearly 
dictates other"vrise, all bombing north of 20^ and improving 
interdiction as much as possible in the infiltration "funnel" 
south of 20° by concentration of sorties and by an all-out 
effort to improve detection devices^ denial weapons ^ and inter- 
diction tactics. 

(5) J^Jy- Avoid the explosive Congressional debate and 
US Reserve call-up implicit in the Westmoreland troop req.uest. 
Decide that^ unless the military situation worsens dramatically^ 
US deployments will be limited to Program 4-plus (vrtiich^ according 
to General Westmorelandj will not put us in danger of being 
defeated^ but will mean slow progress in the South). Associ- 
ated with this decision are decisions not to use large numbers 

of US troops in the Delta and not to use large numbers of them 
in grass-roots pacification work. 

(6) Se ptember : Move the newly elected Saigon government ■ 
well beyond its National Reconciliation program to seek a 
political settlement with the non-Communist members of the 

j^fXjp to explore a ceasefire and to reach an accommodation 

with the non-Communist South Vietnaraese who are under the VC 
banner; to accept them as members of an opposition political 
party^ and^ if necessary, to accept their individual participa- 
tion in the national governjnent -- in sum, a settlement to 
transform the members of the VC from military opponents to 
political opponents. 

(7) October: Explain the situation to the Canadians, 
Indians, British, UN and others, as well as nations now con- 
tributing forces, req.uesting them to contribute border forces 
to help make the inside-South Vietnam, accommodation possible, 
and — consistent with our desire neither to occupy nor to have 
bases in Vietnam -- offering to remove later an equivalent number 
of U.S. forces, (This initiative is worth taking despite its 
slim chance of success.) Ill/ 

Having made the case for de-escalation 8,nd compromise, the 
DPM ended on a note of candor with a clear s':atement of its disadvantages 
and problems: 

The difficulties -with this approach are neither few nor 
small: There will be those v/ho disagree with the circum- 
scription of the US commitment (indeed, at one tiiiie or another, 
one US voice or another has told the Vietnamese, third coun- 
tries the US Congress, and the public of "goals" or "objectives" 

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that go beyond the above bare -bones statement of our 
■ "commitment"); some will insist that pressure, enough 
. pressizre, on the North can pay off or that we vrill have 
yielded a blue chip without exacting a price in exchange 
for our concentrating on interdiction; m.any will a.rgue 
that denial of the larger number of troops will prolong 
the war, risk losing it and increase the casualties of 
the /uiiericans who are there; some will insist that this 
course reveals \7eakness to which Moscow will react with 
relief, contempt and reduced willingness to help, and to 
which Hanoi will react by increased demands and truculence; 
others v/ill point to the difficulty of carrying the 
Koreans, Filipinos, Australians and New Zealanders with us; 
and there will be those who point out the possibility that 
the changed US tone may cause a ^''rush for the exists" in 
Thailand, in Laos and especially inside South Vietnam, 
perhaps threatening cohesion of the government, morale of 
the army, and loss of support among the people. Not least 
will be the alleged impact on the reputation of the United 
States and of its President. Nevertheless, the difficulties 
of this strategy are fewer and smaller than the difficulties 
of any other approach. 112/ 

McNamara showed the draft to the President the same day it 
was completed, but there is no record of his reaction. II3/ It is worth 
noting, however, that May 19 was the day that U.S. planes struck the 
Hanoi pov/er plant just one-mile north of the center of Hanoi. That the 
President did not promptly endorse the McNamara recommendations as he 
had on occasions in the past is not surprising. This time he faced a 
situation v/here the Chiefs were in ardent opposition to anything other 
than a significant escalation of the war with a callup of reserves. This 
put them in direct opposition to McNamara and his aides and created a 
genuine policy dilemma for the President v^ho had to consider the necessity 
of keeping the military "on-board" in any new direction for the U.S. effort 
in Southeast Asia. 

If. JCS, CIA and State Reactions 

In the tvro v^eeks after McNamara 's DPM, the Washington paper- 
mill m.ust have broken all previous production records. The JCS in particu- 
lar literally bombarded the Secretary with memoranda, many of which had 
voluminous annexes. Their direct comments on the DPM did not come "until 
ten days after It was transmitted to the President. Before then, however, 
aware of the McNamara proposals, they fon-rarded a num-ber of studies each 
of which v/as the occasion to advance their own arguments for escalation. 

On May 20, the Chiefs sent the Secretary tvm memos, one 
ureins exoansion of operations against North Vietnam (which they req.uested 

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he pass on to the President) and the other on worldx-zide force posture. llV 
In the former they argued that the ohjectives of causing NVN to pay an 
increasing price for support of the war in the South and interdicting such 
support had only been partially achieved^ because the "increraental and 
restrained" application of air power had enabled WJl^ to "anticipate US 
actions and accomodate to the slow increase in pressure." They noted 
that IWIT had greatly increased its imports in I966 and that record ton- 
nages were continuing in 196?^ and said they were concerned about the 
possible introduction of new vreapons v/hich could improve IWN's air and 
coastal defenses and pose an offensive threat to friendly forces and 
installations in SW» They called for an immediate expansion of the 
bombing include attacks on all airfields, all port 
complexes, all land and sea lines of communication in 
the Hanoi -Haiphong area, and mining of coastal harbors 
and coastal waters. 11^ / 

The intensified bombing should be initiated during the favorable May- 
September weather season, before the onset of poor flying conditions over 
WN. The bombing should include "target systems whose destruction v:ould 
have the m.ost far-reaching effect on WN*s capability to fight," such as 
electric povrer plants, ports, airfields, additional barracks and supply 
depots, and transportation facilities. The 30-iiiile circle around Hanoi 
should be shrunk to 10 miles and the 10-mile circle around Haiphong should 
be reduced to h» -Armed reconnaissance should be authorized throughout 
NW and adjacent coastal waters except in populated areas, the China buffer 
zone^ and the Hanoi/Haiphong circles. Inland waterways should be mined 
all the way up to the China buffer zone. 116 / 

On May 2k General Wheeler provided his views on two alterna- 
tive courses of action in response to a request from Vance: (l) add 250,000 
troops in SVN and intensify the bombing against WN, and (2) hold the troop 
increase to 70,000 more and hold the bombing below 20^ unless req.uired by 
military necessity -- or, "if necessary to provide an opportunity for a 
negotiated settlement," stop it altogether. In his m.emorandum to the 
SecDef , to which a lengthy Joint Staff study of the alternatives was attached, 
General V/heeler said that a partial or complete cessation of strikes against 
WN would allow NVH to recoup its losses, expand its stockpiles, and con- 
tinue to support the v/ar from a sanctuary. This would be costly to 
friendly forces and prolong the war. It couj.d be interpreted as a Wf^ 
victory — an "aerial Dien Bien Phu." II7/ 

The Chairman recommended instead the adoption of the JCS 
•nrof^ram for the conduct of the war, which included air strikes to reduce 
exterral aid to WW, destroy its in-country resources, and disrupt m.ove- 
ment into the South. The strikes would be designed to "isolate the 

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Hanoi "Haiphong logistic base^' by interdicting the LOCs and concurrently* 
attacking the "reraaining reservoir of war-supporing resources" and the 
flow of men and materials to the South. The import of war-sustaining' 
material would "be obstructed and reduced, movement on rails , roads , and 
inland waterways would be degraded^ "air terminals" v?ou2.d be disrupted, 
storage areas and stockpiles would be destroyed, and movement South 
would be cirrtailed. The campaign would impadr IJVN^s ability to control, 
direct, and support the insurgency in the South. FVTT would be under 
increasing pressure to seek a political rather than a military solution 
to the war. 118 / 

At the end of May the Chiefs sent the Secretary their 
response to the DPM. The Chairman sent McITam^ra a memo with a line-in, 
line-out factual correction of the DTl-1 that did- not comment on policy. 
Its most significant change vj-as to raise the total troop figure in option 
A (Westy's ^-2/3 Division request) from 200,000 to 250,000. 119/ On 
the 1st of June the Secretary received the Chiefs collective views on 
the substantive policy recomjnendaticns of the DPM. As' might have been 
expected^ they were the stiffest kind of condemnation of the proposals. 
The JCS complained that the DPM passed off option A and its supporting 
arguments as the views of the milita^ry when in fact they were a distortion 
of those views 3 

Course A is an extrapolation of a number of proposals 
which were recommended separately but not in com^bination or ■ 
as interpreted in the DPM. The combination force levels, 
deploy^ients, and military actions of Course A do not accvirately 
reflect the positions or recommendations of COMUSMACV, CINCPAC^ 
or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The positions of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, which provide a better basis against which to 
compare other alternatives, are set forth in JCSM-2l8-67j 
JCSM 286-67, and JCSM-288-67. 120/ 

\-Jhile they m-ay have been annoyed at what they felt v^as a misrepresentation 
of their views on the best course of action for the U.S., the Chiefs were 
outraged by the compromising of U.S. objectives in the DPM: 

Objective^. The preferred course of action addressed 
in the DPM (Course b) is not consistent with NSAI4 288 or 
with the explicit public statements of US policy and objec- 
tives enumerated in Ps.rt I, Appendix A, and in Appendix B. 
The DPM would, in effect, limit UB obje-;tives to merely 
guaranteeing the South Vietnamese the right to determine 
their own future on the one hand and offsetting the effect 
of North Vietnam's application of force in South Vietnam 
on the other. The United States would remain comjuitted 
to these two objectives only so long as the South Vietnamese 

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continue to help themselves. It is also noted that the 
DPM contains no statement of m-ilitary objectives to 
be achieved and that current US national, military, 
and polit.'.cal objectives are far more cmprehensive and 

far-reaching. Thus : 

a. The DPM fails to appreciate the full im_plica- 
tions for the Free World of failure to achieve a success- 
ful resolution of the conflict in Southeast Asia. 

b. Modification of present US objectives, as 
called for in the DM, would undermine and no longer 
provide a complete rationale for our presence in South 
Vietnam or much of our effort over the past two years. 

c. The positions of the more than 35 nations sup- 
porting the Government of Vietnam might be rendered 
untenable by such drastic changes in US policy. 12l / 

The strategy the DPM had proposed under option B was 
completely e.nathema to their view of how the war should be conducted 
After having condemned the ground forces and strategy of the DPM as 
a recipe for a protracted and indecisive conflict, the Chiefs turned 
their guns on the recommended constriction of the air war to the DRV 
panhandle : 

Military Strategy for Air/Naval War In the North . 
The DPM stresses a policy which would concentrate air 
operations in the North Vietnamese "funnel" south of 20*^. 
The concept of a "funnel" is m.isleadlng, since in fact 
the cornBiunists are supplying their forces in South Viet- 
nam from all sides, through the demilitarized zone, Laos, 
the coast, Cambodia, and the rivers in the Delta. According 
to the DPM, limiting the bombing to south of 20*~^ might 
result in Increased negotiation opportunities with Hanoi. 
The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that such a new self- 
imposed restraint resulting from this major change in 
strategy wou.ld most likely have the opposite effect. 
The relative immunity granted to the LOCs and distribution 
system outside the Panhandle v/ould ('a) a rapid 
recovery from the damage sustained to date 3 (b) an Increase 
in movem.ent capability; (c) a reduced req.uirement for total 
supplies '.n the pipeline; (d) a concent •(•a-tion of air defenses 
into the Pa.nhandle; and (e) a release of personnel and eq.ulp- 
ment for increased efforts in infiltration of South Vietnam. 
Also, it would relieve the Hanoi leadership from experiencing 
at first hand the pressures of recent air operations vAlch 
foreign observers have reported. Any possible political 
advantages gained by confining our interdiction campaign to 
the Panhandle would be offset decisively by allowing North 

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Vietnara to continue an unobstructed importation of war 
materievl. Further , it is believed that such a drastic 
reduction in the scale of air operations against North 
Vietnara could only result in the strengthening of the 
eneniy's resolve to continue the war. No doubt the reduc- 
tion in scope of air operations would also be considered 
by many as a weakening of US determination and a North 
Vietnamese victory ixi the air vrar over northern North 
Vietnam. The combination of reduced military pressures 
against North Vietnam with stringent limitations of our 
operations in South Vietnam^ as suggested in Course B, 
appears even more questionable conceptually. It would 
most likely strengthen the enemy's ultimate hope of 
victory and lead to a redoubling of his efforts. 122/ 

Completing their rejection of the DB4's analysis^ the 
I Chiefs argued that properly explained a mobilization of the reserves and 

I i a full U.S. commitment to winning the v^ar vrould be supported by the 

American public and v;ould bolster not harm. U.S. prestige abroad. The 
( I Chiefs did not think the likelihood of a Chinese intervention in response 

to their proposed actions v/as high and they completely discounted a 
Soviet entry into the hostilities in any active role. Summing up their 
alarm at the complete turnabout in U.S. policy suggested by the DPM, the 
Chiefs stated: 

Most of the foregoing divergencies between the DPM 
and the stated policies , objectives , and concepts are 
individually important and are reason for concern. How- 
ever, v^hen viewed collectively, an alarming pattern 
emerges which suggests a m-ajor realignment of US objec- 
tives and intentions in Southeast Asia without regard 
for the long-term consequences. The Joint Chiefs of Staff 
are not aware of any decision to retract the policies and 
objectives which have been affirmed by responsible officials 
many times in recent years. Thus, the DPM lacks adeqaute 
founda.tion for further consideration. I23 / 

With the expectation that the implementation of course B would result 
in a prolongation of the war, a reinforcing of Hanoi's belief in ultim.ate 
victory, and greatly increased costs for the U.S. in lives and treasure, 
the Chiefs recjcmiended that: 

a. The DBA NOT be fon7arded to the President. 

b. The US national objective as expressed in NSAM 288 
be maintained, and the national policy and objectives for 

^"^ ■ " Vietnam as publicly stated by US officials be reaffirmed. 

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c. The military objective^ concept, and strategy for 
the conduct of the vrar in Vietnam as stated in JCSM-218-67 
be approved by the Secretary of Defense. 

They were evidently unaware that the President had already seen the DPM 
ten days before. 12V 

At about this time, the latter part of May, CIA also pro- 
duced an estimate of the conseauences of severa-1 different U.S. actions ^ 
including de-escala,ting the bombing. The actions considered were 
essentially those of the DPM: increase U.S. troop levels in SVW by 
another 200,000; intensify the bombing against military, industrial, 
and transi^ortation targets; intensify the bombing plus interdict the 
harbors; or level off rather than increase troop comjaitments; and 
reduce rather than intensify the bombing. 125/ 

The tone of this estimate was not q,uite as favorable to 
further bombing or quite as unfavorable to de-escalation as the January 
CIA analysis had been. The estimate said that WN was counting upon 
wirjiing in the South, and was willing to absorb considerable damage in 
the North so long as the prospects were good there. More intensive 
bombing was therefore not likely to be the decisive element in breaking 
Hanoi's will and was not likely to force Hanoi to change its attitude 
toward negotiations: 

Short of a major Invasion or nuclear attack, there is 
probably no level of air or naval actions against North 
Vietnam which Hanoi has determined in advance would be so 
intolerable that the war had to be stopped. 126/ 

The pressure would be greater if, in addition, NVN's ports were closed. 
If, as v/as most likely, the USSR did not accept the challenge and NVN 
was forced to rely primarily on rail transport across China, and if, 
as a consequence, the situation in NVN gradually deteriorated, it was 
"conceivable" that NVN would choose to negotiate or othervdse terminate 
the war; but even this was unlikely unless the war in the South was also 
deteriorating seriously. 127/ 

As for reducing the bombing by restricting it to southern 
NTN, it would depend upon the circumstances: 

In seme circurastances North Vietnam would attribute 
this to the pressure of international opinion and domestic 
criticism, and it would confirm the view that the US wou2.d 
not persist. This view might be dispelled if the US made 
' it clear th3-t the bombing was being redirected to raise 
the cost of m.oving men and supplies into the South; and 
even more if the US indicated it intended to increase US 
forces in the South and take other action to block or 
reduce infiltration from North Vi-etnam. 128/ 

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Williaiii Bundy. at State drafted comments on the Dflyl on 
May 30 and circulated them at State and Defense- In his rambling 
and sometimes contradictory memo^ Bundy dealt mainly with the nature 
and scope of the U.S. commitment -- as expressed in the DPT-l and as he 
saw it. He avoided any detailed analysis of the two military options 
and focused his attention on the strategic reasons for American involve- 
ment; the objectives we were after; and the terms under V7hich we couJLd 
consider closing down the operation. Plis memo began with his contention 

The g\it point can almost be summed tip in a pair of 
sentences. If we can get a reasonably solid GVN political 
structure and GWI performance at all levels^ favorable 
trends could become really marked over the next I8 months ^ 
the war will be won for practical purposes at some point 5 and 
the resulting peace will be secured. On the other ha^nd, if 
we do not get these results from the GVN and the South Viet- 
namese people, no am.oujit of US effort will achieve our basic 
objective in South Viet -Nam- -a return to the essential 
provisions of the Geneva Accords of 195^ s-nd a reasonably 
stable peace for many years based on these Accords. 

It is this view of the central importance of the South that dominates 
the remainder of Bundy 's memo. But his ovra thinking was far from clear 
about hov/ the U.S. should react to a South Vietnarriese failure for at the 
end of it he wrote: 

None of the above decides one other question clearly 
implicit in the DOD draft. What happens if "the country 
ceases to help itself." If this happens in the literal 
sense, if South Viet-Nam performs so badly that it simply 
is not going to be able to govern itself or to resist the 
slightest internal pressure, then \je would agree that we 
can do nothing to prevent this. But the real underlying 
question is to what extent w^e tolerate imperfection, even 
gross imperfection, by the South Vietnamese while they are 
still under the present grinding pressure from Hanoi and the 

This is a tough question. T^Jhat do we do if there is a 
military coup this sumjner and the elections are aborted? 
There would then be tremendous pressure at home and in 
Europe to the effect that this negated what we were fighting 
for, and that we should pull out. 

But against such pressure we must reckon that the stakes 
in Asia will After all, the military rule, even in 

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peacetime, in Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma. Are we 
to walk away from the South Vietnamese, at least as a 
I matter of principle, simply because they failed in what vras 

always conceded to be a courageous and extremely difficult 
effort to become a true dem.ocracy during a guerrilla war? I30/ 

Bundy took pointed issue with the DPM's reformulation of 
U.S. objectives. Starting with the DPM's discussion of U.S. larger 
interests in Asia, Bundy argued that: 

In Asian eyes, the struggle is a test case, and indeed 
much more black-and-white than even we ourselves see it. 
The Asian view bears little resemblance to the breast- 
j beating in Europe or at home. Asians would q.ui.te literally 

be appalled — and this includes India -- if we were to 
pull out from Viet-Nam or if we were to settle for an 
illusoiy peace that produced Hanoi control over all Viet- 
Nam in short order. 

In short, oui' effort in Viet-Nam in the past two years 
has not only prevented the catastrophe that would other- 
wise have unfolded but has laid a foundation for a progress 
that now appears truly possible and of the greatest histor- 
ical, significance. I31/ 

Having disposed of what he sav/ as a misinterpretation of 
Asian sentiment and U.S. interests there, Bundy now turned to the DH-l's 
attempt to minimize the U.S. commitment In Vietnam. He opposed the DHvI 
language because in his view it dealt too heavily with our ma.litary com- 
mitment to get MA off the South Vietnajnese back, and not enough vrith 
the eq.ually important commitment, to assure that "the political board 
in South Vietnam is not tilted to the advantage of the KLF." I32/ Bundy 's 
conception of the U.S. com-mitment was twofold: 

--To prevent any imposed political role for the IJLF 
in South Vietnamese political life, and specifically the 
coalition demanded by point 3 of Hanoi's Pour Points, or 
indeed e^nj KLP part in government or political life that 
is not safe and acceptable volunt^irily to the South Viet- 
namese Government and people. 


— To insist in our negotiating position that "regroupees," 
that is, people originally native to South Viet-Nam who went 
North in 195^ and returned from 1959 onward, should be expelled 
as a matter of principle in the settlement. Alternatively, 
3-Qch people could remiain in South Viet-Nam if, but only if, 
the South Vietnaraese Government itself was prepared to receive 
them back under a reconciliation concept, vrhich vrould pro- 
vide in essence that they* must be prepared to accept peacefuJ. 

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political activity under the Constitution (as the recon- 
ciliation appeal now does). This latter appears to be the 
position of the South Vietnamese Government, which---as 
Tran Van Do has just stated in Geneva--argues that those 
sympathetic to the Northern system of government should go 
North, while those prepared to accept the Southern system 
-j of governj:iient may stay in the South. Legally, the first 

1 1 • alternative is sound, in that Southerners who went North 

in 195^ became for all legal and practical pur-poses Northern 
citizens and demonstrated their allegiance. But if the 
South Vietnamese prefer the second alternative, it is in 
fact exactly comparable to the regroupment provisions of 
the 195^ Accords, and can legally be sustained. But in 
either case the point is that the South Vietnamese are not 
obliged to accept as citizens people whose total pattern 
of conduct shows that they would seek to overthrow the 
structure of government by force and violence. 133/ 

The remainder of Bundy's conments were addressed to 
importance of this last point. The U.S. couJ,d not consider withdrawing 
its forces until not only the North Vietnam.ese troops but also the regroup' 
ees had returned to the North. Nowhere in his comments does he specifi- 
cally touch on the merits of the two m.ilitary options, but his arg\:urients 
all seem to support the tougher of the two choices (his earlier support 
of restricting the bombing thus seem.s paradoxical). He was, it is clear, 
less concerned with imm.ediate specific decisions on a military phase of 
the war than with the long term consequences of this major readjustment 
of Ajaerican sights in Southeast Asia. 

The only other reaction on the DPM from the State Depart- 
ment was a belated mem.o from Katzenbach to Vance on Jiuie 8. Katzenbach^s 
criticisms were more focused on specific language and conclusions than 
Bimdy's. In general they did not reject the analysis of the DPM, hov7- 
ever. VJith respect to the bombing, Katzenbach observed that, "...we 
ought to consider concentrating on infiltration routes throughout North 
Viet-Nam and leaving 'strategic' targets, particularly those in urban 
areas alone." I3V This departed slightly from the Bundy-Eostow- 
McNau^rhton thesis of confining the to the panhandle infiltration 
network. As to the DPM's effort to circLmiscribe U.S. objectives in the 
war Katzenbach achieved a new low in understatement, "I agree with the 
arguJiients for limited objectives. But these are not easy to define." 135/ 
In short, if the intent of the DOD draft had been to precipitate an 
Administration -wide debate on the fundamental issues of the U.S. involve- 
■ inent, it lia-d certainly achieved its purpose. 

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5. The McNamara Bombing Options 

Long before McNaraara received these views from the Chiefs, 
CIA and State, however, he had req.uested comments from several q,uarters 
on two possible bombing programs. Perha-ps reflecting a cool Presidential 
reaction to the DPM proposals, Secretary McNamara, on May 20, asked the 
JCS, the CIA, and the two military services involved in the ROLLING 
THUNDER progra-m, the Air Force and the Navy, to study the q.uestion. He 
referred to the "controversy" surrounding the program, said that several 
alternatives had been suggested, and asked for an analysis of the two 
most promising ones: 

(l) Concentrate on LOCs in the Panhandle area. Route 
ij Packages 1, 2, and 3? and terminate bom^bing in the rest of 

North Vietnam unless there is reconstruction of important 
fixed targets destroyed by prior raids or unless new mili- 
tary actions appear; or 

'I ■ (2) Terminate bombing against fixed targets not 

directly associated with LOCs in Route Packages 6a and 
6b /the northeast q.uadrant7 and simultaneously expand armed 
recomaaissa.nce in Route Packages 6a and 6b by authorising 
strikes against all LOCs except within 8 miles of the 
centers of Hanoi and Haiphong. This would undoubtedly 
require continuous strikes against MIG aircraft on all 
airfields. I36/ 

Under alternative (2) above, the Secretary provided two alternate 
assumptions: (a) that strikes against the ports and port facilities 
were precluded, and (b) that every effort was made to deny importation 
from the sea. 137/ 

The Secretary asked each addressee to analyze the two m^ain 
alternatives plus any others they considered worth discussing. He asked, 
for each of the alternatives, the effect it would have on reducing the 
flow of men and m_aterial to SVN, on losses of pilots and aircrafl:, and 
on the risk of "increased military pressure" from the USSR or China. 
He also asked that the studies be carried out independently, and requested 
reports by 1 June. I38/ 

The CIA reply, a "Dear Bob" memo from Keljns, arrived as ■ 
requested on June 1st. In his cover memo Helms stated that the goal 
of interdicting supplies to the South was essentially beyond reach: 

In general, we do not believe that any of the programs 
presented in your m-emorandum is capable of reducing the flow 
^'"^^ Qf military and other essential goods sufficiently to 

affect the war in the South or to decrease Hanoi's deter- 
mination to persist in the war. 139/ 

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Based on the results of ROLLIJ^G TIKJNDER to date and on 
the nature of the logistic target system^ CIA said^ concentrating the 
bombing in southern IWN would undoubtedly increase the costs of main- 
taining the LOCs and degrade their capacity "somewhat further/* but 
could not be expected to reduce the flow of men and materiel below 
present levels. This was because of the excess capacity of the road 
network and IWJ^'s impressive ability to maintain and improve it. It 
cited the example of the traffic from wn^ through Mu Gia pass into 
Laos. During the I965-I966 dry season j, truck traffic on the route 
averaged 28 trucks or about 85 tons of supplies a day, a level of traffic 
which used it to less than 20 percent of its then theoretical capacity 
of ^50 tons a day, and, since the route had been improved, less than 
10 percent of its present capacity of 7^0 tons a day. The rest of the 
road network had also been expanded in spite of the bombing. Some 3^0 
miles of alternative routes were built in southern NVN during I966 and 
more than ^00 m.iles of new roads were constructed in Laos. Even if the 
bombing could reduce road capacities by 5O percent, the capacity remiaining 
would still be at least five times greater than required to move supplies 
at the current rate. In sumjnary: 

...the excess capacity on the road networks in Route 
Packages I, II, and III provides such a deep cushion that 
it is aljnost certain that no interdiction prograia can 
neutralize the logistics target system to the extent neces- 
sary to reduce the flow of men and supplies to South Vietnam ' 
below their present levels, iko / 

As to concentrating the bombing north instead of south of 
20*^5 neither the open or the closed port variants "could obstruct or 
reduce North Vietnam's import of military or war -supporting m.aterials 
sufficiently to degrade its ability to carry on the war." WN now had 
the capacity to import about 1^,000 tons of goods a day over its main 
rail, road, and inland water routes; and it currently imported about 
5,300 tons a day. An optimum, interdiction program against all m.eans 
of land and water transportation could "at most" reduce tre^nsport capacity 
to about 3y900 tons a day, or about 25 percent below present levels. 
However, if NVN eliminated all but essentia^l military and economic goods, 
'it would need only a.bout 3OOO tons a day, a volujne of traffic which could 
still be handled comfortably, l^l/ 

The CIA also went into some detail on Soviet and Chinese 
responses to bombing north versus south of 20*^. The Chinese would 
attribute any cutback to a lack of vrill in the face of rising domestic 
and international criticism, and would continue to egg NVN on. The Soviets 
would construe it in this light, also, but would be relieved that the 
U S had broken the cycle of escalation, and if the U.S. accom.panied the 
cutback with political initiatives tow^ard negotiations might even press 
Hanoi to respond. As to Hanoi, -. ' 

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"Whether or not Hanoi responded to these initi- 
atives would depend on its view of the ii^ilitary out- 
look in the South^ and on whether it believed that a 
move toward negotiation would bring success nearer. 1^2/ 

Bombing north of 20*^ without closing the ports would not 
bring on ne\j or different Chinese or Soviet, responses except for the 
attacks oji airfields. These might lead to greater Chinese involvement ^ 
especially if WN transferred air defense operations to bases in China. 
If the ports were closed^ hov/ever^ there would be a direct challenge 
to the USSR. ^^Jhile it was unlikely that the USSR (or China, for that 
matter) would undertake new military actions , it would make every effort 
to continue supplying ]WN and would attempt to put maximui^ political 
pressures on the U.S. China-' s leverage V7ith Hanoi would grow^ and 
China, would urge Hanoi to continue the war more vigorously than ever. 1^3/ 

The formal JCS response to the SecDef 's questions on 
bombing north versus south of the 20th pa^rallel, quite apart from troop 
levels, was submitted on 2 June. It was predictably cool toward 
restricting the bombing to southern IWN, a good deal warmer toward 
continuing the bombing in northern WN, and warmest by far tovrard 
proceeding from there to close the ports. ^\^ 

The JCS opposed any cutback on bom^bing north of the 20th 
parallel on grounds that it would decrease the effectiveness of inter- 
diction and make things easier for IWN. It would reduce the distance 
over which the flow of men and supplies was subject to attack. It would 
provide WN free and rapid access down to Thanh Hoa, decreasing transport 
time, rolling stock requirements, pipeline assets, and man-hours for 
moving supplies South. It v^ould release resources currently required 
north of 20*~^. It would enable WIN to accelerate the import of weapons 
and munitions, strengthen the Panhandle defenses, and increase U.S. attri- 
tion. The U.S. action would be interpreted as yielding to pressure and 
weakening resolve; KVN would be sure to claim victory and press for greater 
concessions as a price for any settlement, ik^ / 

The JCS also argued that terminating strikes against non- 
LOC targets in the north and switching to expanded 'armed reconnaissance 
there would have the disadvantage of not maintaining the level of damage 
achieved with respect to fixed installations and industry, but would have 
the advantages of adding to NVN's difficulties — from interruptions of 
the LOCs, having to resort to inferior means of tz^ansport, shifting its 
management and labor resources, and the like. However, leaving the ports 
o-pen would permit IWE to absorb the damage and adjust to the campaign. 
With the ports open, IWTI could continue to handle imports even if the 
LOG strikes were successful. With the ports closed, on the other hand, 
A sustained attack on the roads and railroads V70uld become militarily 

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profitable, and the concurrent and sustained interdiction of imports 
vovild become possible. 1^6/ 

A cryptic pencil note on copy k of this JCSM initialled 
by McNaughton indicated^ "all incorporated in my 6/3/67 draft/' and 
listed "Main issues" as ""(l) Total pressu-re (2) pilot losses (3) U.S. 
'failure'-" ihj/ It is hard to know exactly what this could mean 
since the JCS position was certainly not being adopted by the Secretary. 
Moreover 5 there is no record of a 3 J' draft. We will discuss a later 
dra,ft belovr^ but it does not endorse the JCS position. 

The Secretary of the Navy responded to Secretary McKamara's 
questions v/ith an attempt to construct models of the alternative north and 
I south of 20^ target systems and vav game attacks against them. It con- 

eluded that an interdiction effort in southern IWN concentrated on 
' specified areas where tra.ffic was alrea.dy constricted by the terrain would 

( be more effecti-ve than the current program^ "but by an uncertain incre- 

ment over an undefinable base." U.S. losses x^ould be- lower initially, 
but would rise in time because IWN could be expected to redeploy anti- 
aircraft defenses south. The ma,npower strain on WN would not be a.s 
at present, however, with the cessation of attacks on the high-value 
targets in the northern part of the country. 1^8 / 

The Navy analysis also concluded tha.t a greater inter- 
diction effort north of SO*^, without closing the ports, could not be 
carried out with available resources "in a manner producing results 
better than the present effort." The program wo-uld create greater 
demand for repair and bypass construction, but it was not clear that it 
would have a major effect on NVN's capability to import goods and ship 
them to SVN. This alternative would be the m-ost expensive in U.S. air- 
craft and aircrews and woiHd provide the least return in reducing l^JVN 
supplies to SVN. 1^9, ' 

Closing the ports in addition to stepping up the armed 
reconnaissa^nce effort in northern NVIT would have a substantial effect 
on imports at first but in time NYN could switch to other LOCs. The 
cost would be mainly in efficiency. Reducing imports below RVN's mini- 
mum requirements was probably beyond the current capability of the 
bombing campaign. 152/ 

The Air Force response to Secretary McNamara was given 
on 3 June. Cutting back the bombing to below the 20th parallel vrould 
permit NVN to increase the input of men and supplies at the top of the 
"funnel" with the same or less effort than it was now expending, and 
would resu3-t in a greater inflow into SVN. U.S. losses' might go down 
temporarily, hut I^JVI^I would shift its anti-aircraft resources southward, 
and" losses vrculd rise again. The cutback would reduce the risk of 
-'" , Chinese or Soviet involvement and might conceivably even start a process 

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of mutual de-escalation, but it was raore likely to be taken as a 
sign of U.S. weakness and encourage Hanoi to take a still stronger 
stand. 151/ 

Expanded armed reconnaissance in northern NVN, especially 
if coupled with denying or inhibiting importation through Haiphong^ 

...would have a substantial effect on IWN economy 
and logistic net and would. . .force enough additional 
diversion of resources to reduce IWN infiltration and 
support. 152/ 

However^ closure of Haiphong — which might not shut off all access from 
the sea — would carry unaccepts^ble risks of wider war^ an allout attack 
on the railroads and roads from China vras preferable , and would still 
com.plicate NTO's logistic problems. Still more preferable, on balance, 
vras maintaining the present level of operations: 

Because closure of Haiphong is probably not acceptable, 
what would otherx-zise be a rea.sonable price in term.s of air- 
craft loss for greatly reducing the inflow along the northern 
roads and railroads becomes an unreasonable loss in the 
presence of a possible increase of sea import ... .This option 
is not, without Haiphong port denia.l, an optimvan use of air- 
power. It is a war of attrition, forced by the risk of a 
vrider war or other actions by the Soviets if we do try to 
close Haiphong. In that sense, it is analogous to the 
ground war in the South. .. .153/ 

On June 9, Secretary of the Air Force Brown sent McNamara a supplemental 
memo in which he tried to make a case for interdiction bombing based on 
a statistical demonstration that it was the most important factor in 
explaining the difference between uninterdicted infiltration capability 
and actual infiltration, l^k/ 

' Thus, the responses to the SecDef 's q.uestions on bombing 
north versus south of the 20th parallel divided about evenly, with the 
■JCS and the Air Force strongly opposed to a cutback to 20^ and backing 
the more escalatory route, and the Navy and CIA concluding that inter- 
diction either north or south was a difficult if not impossible goal but 
that a cutback would cost little. 

6. The June 12th PPM 

The Defense Departm.ent having fully explored the various air 
war options, attention within the Administration again f^^used on preparing 
a memorandum to the President, this time on strategy against North Vietnam 
alone. But other events and problems were intervening to consume the 

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' time and energies of the Principles in early June. On June 5^ the 

four-day Arab-Israeli War erupted to dominate all other problems during 
that week. The intensive diplomatic activity at the \M by the U.S. 
would heavily engage the President's attention and eventually lead to 
the Summit m.eeting with Soviet Premier Kosygin in Glassboro, N.J. later 
in the month. In the actual war in Vietnam, the one -day truce on 

' Buddha's birthday. May 23rd, had produced such gross enemy violations 

that some intensification of the conflict ensued afterwards. Never- 
theless in late May, Admiral Sharp was informed of the reimposition 
of the 10-mile prohibited zone around Hanoi. His response was predictable 

We have repeatedly sought to obtain authority for a 
systematic air campaign directed against carefully selected 
targets whose destruction and constant disruption v/ould 
steadily increase the pressure on Hanoi. It seems unfor- 
tunate that just when the pressure is increasing by virtue 
of such an air campaign, and the weather is optimum over 
northern NVN, we m-ust back off. 155/ 

On June 11^ however, the Kep airfield was struck for the first time 
with ten MIGs reportedly destroyed or damaged. Prior to that, on 
June 2, an unfortunate case of bad aiming had resulted in a Soviet ship, 
the Tur kestan , being struck by cannon fire from a U.S. plane trying to 
silence a North Vietnamese AA^ battery. The Soviets lodged a vigorous 
protest with the U.S., but we initially denied the allegation only to 
acknowledge the accident later (on June 20 to be exact just three days 
before the Glassboro meeting and presutnably to improve its atmosphere). 

In Washington, in addition to the time consuming Middle 
East crisis. Administration officials were still far from consensus on 
the question of whether to add another major increment to U.S. groimd 
forces in South Vietnam and to call up the reserves to reconstitute 
depleted forces at home and elsev/here. Indeed, as we shall see, it 
appears that the troop question went unresolved longer than the air 
strategy problem. The issues must have been discussed in a general 
review of the Vietnam question at a meeting at State on June 8 in 
Katzenbach's office, but no record of the discussion was preserved. A 
two-page outline of positions entitled "Disagreements" and preserved 
in McNaughton's files does, however, give a very good idea of where 
the principle Presidential advisers stood on the major issues at that 

point : 


1. Westmoreland-McNamara on v^hether Course A would 
end the vrar sooner. 

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2. Vance-CIA on the- ability of WN to meet force 
increases in the South • 

3. Wheeler-Vance on the milite.ry effectiveness of 
i I cutting back bombing to below the 20th Parallel^, and on 

whether it would save US casualties. 

I j 4. CIA believes that the Chinese might not intervene 

if an invasion of MN did not seem to threaten the Hanoi 

1 j ■ regiiae. Vance states an invasion would cause Chinese inter- 

vention. Vance believes that the Chinese could decide to 
intervene if the ports were mined; CIA does not mention 
this possibility. 

5. CIA and the Mission disagree with Vance on v/hether 
we have achieved the cross -over point and^, more broadly ^ 
on how well the "big war" is going. One CIA analysis ^ contra- 
dicted in a latter /si^ CIA statement^ expresses the view that 
the enemy's strategic position has improved over the past year. 

6. CIA-IDIR on whether Hanoi seeks to wear us down (CIA) 
or seeks more positive victories in the South (IKR) . 

■' 7* INK believes that the bombing has had a greater 

effect than does CIA. 

8. Vance and CIA say we have struck all worthwhile 
targets in NVN except the ports. VJheeler disagree-s. 

9- CIA cites inflationary pressures and the further 
pressure that v;'ould be caused by Course A. Vance says that 
these pressures are under control and could be handled if 
Course A were adopted. 

10. Rostovr believes that a call-up of reserves wd-ild 
sho\<r Hanoi that we mean business and have more troops coming — 
Vance believes that a reserve call-up would lead to divisive 
debate which would encourage Hanoi. WoTild not the call-up 
indicate that we had manpower problems? 

11. Bundy-Vance disagreem^ents on the degree to v/hich 
we have contained China, whether our comjiitment ends if the 
SVIJamese don't help themselves^ the NLF role in political 
life, regroupees, and our and Hanoi's rights to lend sup- 
port to friendly forces in SVN after a settlement. 1^6/ 

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I Another indication of v/hat may have transpired in the 

i| June 8 meeting i.s an unsigned outline for a policy paper (probably 

done in Bundy's office) in McNaughton's files. This ambitious docu- 
ment suggests that U.S. goals in the conflict include leaving behind 

ij a stable 5 democratic government; leaving behind conditions of stable 

peace in Asia; persuading the DRV to give up its aggression; and 

) neutralizing the internal security thr-eat in the South. All this to 

be done without creating an American satellite 5 generating- anti- 
American sentiment ^ destroying the social fabric in the South or 
alienating other countries. 1^7/ Strategies considered to achieve 

I the objectives included the Westmoreland plan for 200,000 men with a 

reserve callup (10 disadvantages listed against it); limiting the 
increase to 30^000 men but without a reserve callup; "enough US forces 
to operate effectively against provincial main force units and to 
reinforce 1 Corps and the DMZ area/' with a reserve callup; and no 
change from current force levels. Options against North Vietnam 
included: (A) expanded air attacks on military , industrial and LOC 
targets including mining the harbors; (b) stopping the bombing north 
of the 20th parallel except for restrikes; (c) invasion;, and (d) the 
barrier. The section ends cryptically, "Our over-all strategy must 
consist of a combins.tion of these." 1^8/ The last paragraph of the 
outline deals -viith the intended strategy against the North: 

...the object is to cut the North off from the South 
as much as possible, and to shake Hanoi from its obdurate ■ 
position. Concentrate on shaking enemy morale in both the 
South and North by limiting Hanoi's ability to support the 
forces in South Viet-Nam. 

a. A barrier, if it will work, or 

b. Concentrate bombing on lines of communication 
throughout NVN, thus specifically concentrating on infil- 

■ tration but not running into the problem we have had and 
will have with bombing oriented tow^ards 'strategic' targets 
in the Hanoi/Haiphong area. By continuing to bom.b through- 
out NVN in this manner we would indicate neither a lessening 
of will nor undue impatience. 159/ 

The broad outlines of the eventual decision on bombing that would emerge 
from this prolonged debate are contained in this cryptic outline in 
early June- 

At Defense, McNaughton began once again to pull together 
a DE'l for McrJajiiara, this time devoted exclusively to the air war. A 
June 12 version preserved in McNaughton 's files appears to be the final 

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form it tock^ although v^hether it was shown to the President is not 
clear. McNaughton's draft rejected the more fulsome expressions of 
the U.S. objective advanced by the Chiefs and Bundy in favor of fol- 
levying a more closely defined set of goa^ls : 

The limited over-all US objective , in terms of the 
narrow US commitment and not of wider US preferences ^ is 
to take action (so long as they continue to help themselves) 
to see that the people of South Vietnam are perm-itted to 
determ.ine their o\m future. Our comm.itment is to stop (or 
generously to offset when we cannot stop) North Vietnamese 
military intervention in the South^ so that "the board will 
not be tilted" against Saigon in an internal South Vietnamese 
contest for control, . .The sub-objectives^ at which our bombing 
campaign in the North has alvrays been aimed^ are these: 

— (l) To retaliate and to lift the morale of the people 
in the South, including Americans ^ who are being attacked by 
agents of the North; 

— (2) To add to the pressure on Hanoi to end the war; 

— (3) To reduce the flow and/ or to increase the cost 
of infiltrating men and materiel from North to South. I60/ 

In light of these objectives, three alternative air war programs were 
examined in the memo. They were: 

ALTERI^TIVE A. Intensified attack on the Hanoi -Haiphong 
logis tical base . Under this Alternative, we v^-ould continue 
attacks on enemy installations and industry and would conduct 
an intensified, concurrent and sustained effort against all 
elements of land, sea ajid air lines of communication in North 
Vietnam -- especially those entering and departing the Hanoi- 
Haiphong areas. Foreign shipping would be "shouldered out" 
of Haiphong by a series of air attacks tha.t close in on the 
center of the port complex. The harbor and approaches would 
be mined, forcing for'eign shipping out into the nearby 
estuaries for offloading by lighterage. Intensive and 
system.atic armed reconnaissance v^ould be carried out against 
the roads and railroads from. China (especially the northeast 
railroad), against coastal shipping and coastal transship- 
ment locations, and against all other Itnd lines of com- 
nunications. The eight major operational airfields would be 
systematically attacked, and the deep-water ports of Cam Pha 
and Hon Gai would be struck or mined as rec[uired. ALTERI-IA- 
TIVE A could be pursued full-force between now and September 
(thereafter the onset of unfavorable weather conditions would 
seriously irapair operations). 

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ALTERMTIVE R. . EraDhasis on the infiltration routes 

r- T j~i mim u- ■! ■■■■!■ III! *"^ > .T ^- 1 r -1 B -M |— r-J.J [ uj _a ■ _ I n ■ J . ■ i ^ 

south of the 20th Parallel. Under this alternative, the 
domnant emphasis vzould be^ not on preventing material 
from, flowing into North Vietnam (and thus not on "economic 
pressui^e on the regii^ie)^ but on preventing military men and 
materiel from flowing out of the North into the South, We 
v/ould terminate bombing in the Red River basin except for 
occasional sorties (perhaps jfo) — those necessary to keep enemy 
air defenses and damage -repair crews positioned there and to 
keep important fixed targets knocked out. The same total number 
of sorties envisioned under ALTERNATIVE A-"together with naval 
gunfire at targets ashore and afloat and mining of inland 
waterways^ estuaries, and coastal waters — would be concen- 
trated in the neck of North Vietnam^ between 17^ and 20*^^ 
through which all land infiltration must pass and in which 
the "extended battle zone" north of the DMZ lies. The 
effort would be intensive and sustained^ designed especially 
to saturate choke points and to complement similar new 
intensive interdiction efforts in adjacent areas in Laos 
and near the 17th Parallel inside South Vietnain. 

ALTERNATIVE C. Extension of the current program. This 
alterna.tive would be essentially a refinement of the cur- 
rently approved program and therefore a com-promise between 
ALTERNATIVE A and ALTERNATIVE b. Under it^ while avoiding 
attacks within the 10-mile prohibited zone around Hanoi and 
strikes at or mining of the ports ^ v/e would conduct a. heavy 
effort against all other land, sea, and air lines of communica- 
tion. Important fixed targets would be kept knocked out; 
intensive, sustained and systematic arm.ed reconnaissance would 
be carried out against the roads and railroads and coastal 
shipping throughout the country; and the eight major airfields 
would be systematically attacked. The total num^ber of sorties 
. would be the same as under the other two alternatives. l6l/ 

The positions of the various members of the Defense establishment with 
respect to the three alternatives were: 

Mr. Vance and I recommend ALTERNATIVE B. 

The J6int C hiefs of Staff recoirjnend ALTERI^IATIVE A. 

The Secre tary of the Navy recommends ALTERNA.TIVE B. 


^^^ Secre tary of the Air Force recomm.ends ALTERIMATIVE C 
modified to add^some targets (especially LOG targets) to the 
present list and to eliminate others. 

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' The Dir ector of the CIA does not make a reconmiendation. 
The CIA judgment is that none of the altarnatives is capable 
of decreasing Hanoi's determination to persist in the war 
or of reducing the flow of goods sufficiently to affect the 
war in the South. 162/ 

The arguments for and against the three alternatives were 
developed at considerable length in the memo. The svmimary gave the fol- 
lowing rationale for the McNamara-Vance position: 

In the memorandum^ I4r. Vance and I: 

"-Oppose the JCS program (ALTERTIATIVE- A) on grounds 
that it would neither substantially reduce the flow of men 
and supplies to the South nor pressure Hanoi toward settle- 
ment, that it woul-d be costly in American lives and in 
domestic and world opinion^ and that it would run serious 
risks of enlarging the war into ens v/ith the Soviet Union 
and China, leaving u.s a few months from now more frustrated 
and vath altnost no choice but even further escalation. 

— Oppose mere refinem.ent of the present program 
(ALTEKMTIVE c) on grounds that it would involve most of 
the costs and some of the risks of ALTERNATIVE A with less 
chance that ALTERI^IATIVE A of either interdicting supplies 
cr moving Hanoi toward settlement. 

— Recommend concentration of the bulk of our efforts 
en infiltration routes south of 20"^ (ALTERMTIVE B) because 

!' this course would interdict supplies as effectively as the 

other alterne.tives, V7culd cost the least in pilots' lives, 

I • and would be consistent with effort to move tovrard negoti- 

ations. 163 / 

These views were stated in somewhat expanded form in in the concluding 
paragraphs of tlie DM: 

I am convinced that, within the Imits to which we can 
. ■ go v;ith prudence, "strategic" bombing of North Vietnam will 

at best be xmproductive, I am convinced that mining the 
ports wo-uld not only be improductive bu''; very costly in- 
domestic and vrorld support and very dangerous -- running 
* high risks of enlarging the war as the program is carried 
out, frustrated and with no choice but to escalate further. 
At the same time, I am doubtful that bombing the infil- 
tration routes north or south of 20° will put a meaningful 

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ceiling on men or materiel entering South Vietnam. Never- 
theless, I recommend ALTKRMTIVE B (whicli emphasizes 
bombing the area between 17*^ and 20*^) because (l) it holds 
highest promise of serving a military purpose, (2) it 
will cost the least in pilots' lives, and (3) it is con- 
sistent with efforts to move tovrard negotiations. 

Implicit in the recommendation is a conviction that 
nothing short of toppling the Hanoi regime will pressure 
l^orth Vietnam to settle so long as they believe they have 
a chance to sin the "war of attrition" in the South, a 
judgment that actions sufficient to topple the Hanoi 
regime vrill put us into war with the Soviet Union and 
China, and a belief that a shift to ALTEroi/lTIVE B can be 
timed and handled in such a way as to gain politically 
while not endangering the morale of our fighting men, 16^/ 

There is no evidence as to whether the President savr this 
memo or not. If he did, any decision on bombing was probably deferred 
to be made in conjunction with the decision on ground forces. More- 
over, the middle of June wa.s heavily taken up with the question of 
whether or not to meet Kosygin, and once that was decided vzith pre- 
paring for the confrontation. Therefore,* no decision on bombing was 
forthcoming during June. What is significant is the coalescence of 
civilian opinion against the JCS recommended escalation. 

7. The RT ^7 Decision -- No Escalation 

There is some evidence that i.n spite of the burden of 
other problems, some attention was also being devoted to the possibility 
of negotiations and U.S. positions in the event they should occur. 165/ 
Bundy had had an extensive interview with the recently defected Charge of 
the Hungarian Embassy in Washington who had confirmed that at no time 
during any of the past peace efforts with the DRV had there been any 
North Vietnamese softening of its position. 166/ This view of the cur- 
rent situation was challenged, however, by INE in a report at mid-m-onth. 
They noted that, "Several recent indicators suggest that Hanoi may 
again be actively reviewing the issue of negotiations. Some of the 
indicators show possible flexibility; others show continuing hardness." I67/ 
In retrospect these were hardly more than straws in the wind. In early 
July they woiiJ.d become more immediate, however, with a Canadian proposal 
for redemilitarization of the LMZ and a bombing halt (see below). The 
June review of the situation no doubt was done with a view to determining 
v^bat possibilities might exist if the President met with Kosygin as he 
eventually did. 

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On Jixae 17? Arabassador Bunlier added his voice to the 
chorus already doubting the effectiveness of bhe bombing in interdicting 
the flov/ of North Vietnamese support for the war. In his first major 
pronouncement on the subject he told Rusk in an *''eyes only" cable: 

Aerial bombardment has been helpful in greatly increas- 
ing the difficulties of infiltration by the WN forces and 
in keeping them supplied. It has also destroyed or damaged 
a large am.ount of the NVN infrastructiire. Aerial bombard- 
ment , however 5 though extremely important ^ has neither 
interdicted infiltration nor broken the will of the KW and 
it is doubtful that it can accomplish either. 168/ 

Continuing his analysis , he stated: 

It seems therefore that the crux of the 
military problem is to choke off WN infiltration. 


■X- * -H- * -Jf 

VJhen the infiltra,tion is choked off^ it should be 
possible to suspend bombings at least for a period and 
thereby determine whether there is substance to the 
statement in many q.uarters that Hanoi would then come 
to negotiations. If the bombings vrere stopped it would 
at least call their bluff. I 69 / 

In the remainder of this cable he advanced the arguments for an anti- 
infiltration barrier even in view of the political problems it would 
create. Disillusioned^ like so m.any others, with the bombing, he pinned 
his hopes on this untried military alternative to "choke off the infil- 

A few days later, CINCPAC, undoubtedly aware of the air 
war debate in Washington and the direction in which it was tending, sent 
a long cable to the Chiefs evaluating the results of recent months in 
the ROLLING THUNDER program, results which argued for intensification of 
the bombing he felt. Reviewing the history of the bombing since Febru- 
ary he noted the curtailment of sorties during the early spring because 
of bad weather but stated that, "Starting in late April and over a period 
of five weeks, the air campaign in the NE q.uadrant increased the level of 
damap-e in that area and the conseq.uent stress on the Hanoi governjnent 
more'^than during the entire previous ROLLING THUMER program." I7Q/ In 
an apparent attempt to head off the arguments for limiting the bombing to 
below the 20th parallel, Admiral Sharp pointed out that the significant 
achievements in the NE quadrant in the previous two months had not been 
at the expense of sorties in the panhandle and, perhaps more importantly. 

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had experienced a declining aircraft loss rate compared vrith the 
previous year. The numbers of trucks, railroad cars, boats, etc,, 
destroyed were offered as evidence of the effectiveness of bombing . ■ 
in interdicting the flov.^ of supplies • No mention is made of the 
undiminished rate of that flow. The mining of the rivers south of 
20^ is also judged a success, although no evidence is offered to sup- 
port the statement. After flilmAna^ting about the reimposition of the 
10-mile restriction around Hanoi, CINCPAC notes the significant 
achievements of the last months -- 9.11 in term.s of increased DRV defen- 
sive activity (ffiG, SPM^ AAA, etc.)- I^ ^ peroration worthy of Bil3.y 
Mitchell, CINCPAC SLnrimed up the achievements of the recent past and made 
the case for intensification: 

...we believe that our targeting systems concept, our 
stepped up combat air effort over the Northeast and the 
continued ■ high sortie rate applied aga^inst enemy infiltra- 
tion is paying off. With the exception of RT 55 and RT 56, 
air power for the first -time. bega.n to realize the sort of 
effectiveness of which it is capable. This effectiveness 
can be maximized if we ca,n be authorized to strike the many 
important targets rem.aining. 

We are at an important point in this conflict, We 
have achieved a position, albeit late in the gam^e, from 
which a precisely executed and incisive air campaign 
against all the target systems will aggregate significant 
interrelated effects aga.inst the combined military, politi- 
ca.l, economic, and psychological posture of North Vietnam. 
In our judgment the enemy is now hurting and the operations 
to v^^hich we attribute this impact should be continued V7ith 
vadest latitude in pla^nnizig and execution in the months of 
remiaining good v/eather, IJl/ 

CINCPAC *s arguraents, however ^ were largely falling on deaf 
ears. The debate had resolved itself as between options B and C, On 
July 3, the energetic Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown, sent 
McNam_ara another long detailed memo supporting his preference for 
alterne^tive C, Convinced that the bom_bing did have some utility in 
northern North Vietnam, Brown had sent supplementary memos to his 3 June 
basic reply on 9 and I6 June. His July memo compaj^ed the objectives of 
the tv/o alternatives e.n<l noted that the only difference was that alter- 
native C would somevrhat impede the im.port of supplies into North Vietnam 
and would allot 2(yfo of the available sorties north of 20^ compared with 
'3^ under alternative B, 172/ The principle arguments for maintaing the 
northern attack were: (T) the fact tha.t a substantial erosion of inter- 
diction effectiveness would occur if it was curtailed; (2) the political 
irreversibility of de-escalation (and the current -lack of diplomatic 

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/ A 

reason for such an initiative) ^ and (3) the declining loss rateg of 
aircraft and pilots in Route Packages h-6. The appeal of Brown's 
analysis, however, for McNamara must have clearly been its reliance on 
statistical data — hard facts.. This is novr Brown argued that ending 
the northern sorties would reduce interdiction effectiveness: 

...the increase in weight of effort south of 20*-^ from 
transferring I5OO sorties out of the area north of 20^^ is 
only about 21*^ (or about 13/3 increase of the total effort 
south of 20*^ and in Laos). Even if there is no lav; of 
diminishing returns south of 20°, for that overall increase 
to com.pensate the decrease in effect north of 20*-^ would 
require that the former be presently five times as effective 
as the latter. I believe there would be diminishing returns 
south of 20^3 because there are no targets south of 20'-' 
which are now not struck for lack of availability of sorties. 
North of 20 the question is a different one. The damage 
to LOCs can be increased by increasing the weight' of effort 
(and this has been done in the past few months). Vfliat we 
have not been able to measure well is the incremental effort 
this. forces on the North Vietnamese, or the extent to v;hich 
they could and would use it to increase infiltration if 
they did not have to expend it on keeping supplies flowing 
to the 20° line. 

It can be argued that because the flow into SVN is a 
larger fraction of what passes through Route Packages I--III 
th8.n it is of what passes through Route Packages IV-VI, an 
amount of materiel destroyed in the former area has more 
effect than the sam.e amount destroyed in the latter. This 
is true, but to argue that sorties in the northern region 
are therefore less important overlooks the fact that this 
very gradient is established largely by the attrition 
throughout the LOG. In analogous transport or diffusion 
problems of this sort in the physical world (e.g., the 
diffusion of heat) it is demonstrable that interferences 
close to the source have a greater effect, not a lesser 
effect, than the same interferences close to the output. 
If the attacks on the LOCs north of 20° stopped, the flow 
of goods past 20° could easily be raised by far more than 
20^ and the 20^ increase of attack south of 20o would 
novrhere near compensate for this . 

One interesting observation a^bout the NE LOG is that 
the enemy has expended a significant percentage of his 
total, imports in executing military defensive operations 
for the NVN heartland. From 1 Januajry I967 through I9 June 
1967 he has launched 1062 SAJd missiles in Route Package VI. 
A record total of 55^ surface-to-air missiles were fired at 

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US aircraft during the period 1 May through 31 May. This one 
month expenditure equates to 2600 metric tons in missile hard- 
ware (consuinables used in delivering missiles to launch pad 
not considered). MIG jet fuel consumption for a one-month 
period is estimated to be approximately 7^500 metric tons 
(resources expended to accomplish delivery not included). 
AAA munitions -firing eq.uates to approxim-ately 18,000 metric 
tons per month. Based on the CIA estimate of 5300 metric 
tons per day import rate, it is notable that the enemy is 
willing to use up to 15^ of his total imports (by weight) 
in air defense. Most of this is used in defense of 
the industrial/economic structure in Route Packages V and VI. 
Even though 83^ of all US attack sorties are flov/n in Route 
Packages I-IV, the enemy has not expended an eq.uivalent 
amount of air defense consumables to protect this area. It 
can be assumed he would, which should add to the probability 
of increased losses to Akk/SA-2 south of 20*^, if we greatly 
reduce attacks north of 20^. 173/ 

Brcrt-7n's political point W8.s familmr but had not been stated 
q_uite so precisely in this particular debate. Bombing was regarded by 
Brown as an indivisible blue chip to be exchanged in toto for some 
reciprocity by the North Vietnamese, a condition that did not seem likely 
in the present circumstances. Once stopped, the bombing would be extremely 
difficult to resume even if the DRV stepped up its infiltration and its 
half of the war generally. Moreover, the timing for such a halt was bad 
with the South Vietnam^ese elections only tvro months away. 

With respect to the loss rates in the various parts of the 
country, Bro^im noted that losses in Route Packages IVA & B had declined 
draanatically over the preceding year, even though the PRV was expending 
far more resources to combat the sorties. If bombing were suspended 
north of 20*^ we cou3_d expect the DRV to redeploy much of its anti-aircraft 
resources into the panhandle thereby raising the currently low loss rates 
there. Since bombing effectiveness in the northern area was marginally 
more productive, the return pure aircraft: loss overall would decline by 
such a geographical limitation of the air war. I7V 

It is not clear what ijnpact this line of analysis had on 
McNamara, but since he had previously gone on record in favor of alter- 
native B, and no other nevr evidence or argumentation appears before the 
final decision in mid-July to adopt alternative C, it seems very likely 
that Brown's thinking swayed his oral recommendations to the President. 
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of a Canadian proposal to exchange a bombing halt for a redemilitarization 
of the DMZ. The Chiefs adamantly opposed the idea as a totally ineq.uitable 
trade-off. We would sacrifice a valuable negotiating blue chip vrithout 
commensurate gain (such as a cessation of DRV infiltration). 175/ With 
no other promising prospects for a diplomatic break -through ^ there was 
little reason on that score to suspend even a p3.rt of the at that 

The only other event that might have influenced the Secre- 
tary's thinking was his trip to Vietnam JuJ-y 7-12, With a decision on 
the additional ground forces to be sent to Vietnam narrowing down, the 
President sent McNamara to Saigon to review the matter with General 
Westmoreland and reach agreem.ent on a figui-e well below the 200,000 
Westy had requested in March. As it turned out, the total new troops 
in Program #5 were about 25,000. In the briefings the Secretary received 
in Saigon, the Ambassador spoke briefly about the need for an effective 
interdiction system which he hoped we would find in the barrier. He 
reitei^ated most of the points he had m.ade to Rusk by wire in June. 176/ 
CINCPAC^s briefing on the air war began with the now standard self- 
justifications based on denied req.uests for escalation. The body of 
his presentation did contain som^e interesting new information, however. 
For instance, Admiral Sharp confirmed that the increased effort in the WE 
quadrant had not been at the expense of sorties elsewhere in North Vietnam 
or Laos. The decline in U.S. losses in the Red River valley was attribut- 
able in part to the declining effectiveness of North Vietnam's MIG, SA-23 
and AAA defenses. This in turn was explained by better U.S. tactics, and, 
most importantly, new weapons and equipment like the WALLEYE guided bomb, 
the CBU-2U cluster bomb, the MK-36 Destructor and a much improved ECM 
capability. The rest of his presentation was given over to complaints 
about the unauthorized targets still on the JCS list and to the familiar 
muddled argum.ents for not stopping the northern bombing because it was 
pressuring Ho to behave as we wanted and because in some mysterious 
fashion it was interdicting infiltration, actual statistics in the South 
to the contrary notv/ithstanding. 177/ 

After 7th Air Force commander. General Momyer, had given 
a glov;ing detailed account of the success of the new tactics and weapons 
(a i4-fold increase in effectiveness against the NE. RR in the previous 
year) 5 and the 7th Fleet had described its air operations, CINCPAC summed 
up his arguments against any further limitations on the bombing. His 
closing point, on which he based recomiaendations, was that both sides 
were fighting both offensive and defensive wars. The DRV had the offensive 
initiative in the South but we were on the defensive. However, 

The opposite holds for the air war in the north. Here 
we hold the initiative. We are conducting a strategic 
offensive, forcing the enemy into a defensive posture. He 
is forced to react at places and times of our choosing. If 

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we eliminate the only offensive element of oiir strategy^ 
I do not pee how we can expect to win. My recommendations 
are listed below. You will recognize that they are essen- 
tially the samie actions proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 


1. Close the Haiphong Harbor to deep water shipping 
by bom_bing and/or mining. 

2. Destroy six basic target systems (electricity, 
maritime ports , airfields , transportation, military comxplexes, 
war supporing industry). 

3. Conduct integrated attacks against entire target 
base, including interdiction in WN and laos. 


1. Delete Hanoi 10 NI^I prohibited area. 

2. Reduce Hanoi restricted areasto 10 NM. 

3. Reduce Haiphong restricted area to h M. 

k. Move the northern boundary of the special coastal 
armed recce area to include Haiphong area. 

5. Authorize armed recce throughout NVN and coastal 
waters, (except populated areas, buffer zone, restricted 
areas )o 

6. .Mine inland waterways to Chicom buffer zone as 
MK-36 destructors become available. 

7. Extend Sea Dragon to Chicom buffer zone as forces 
become available. 

8. Implement now to exploit good weather. I78/ ' 

McNanxara's time in Vietnam, however, was mostly preoccupied 
with settling on the exact figure for troop increases. VJhen he returned 
to Washington, he promptly met with the President and with his approval 
authorized the Program #5 deployments. He presi:miably also discussed with 
the President a decision on the next phase of the air campaign. There is 
i. Q evidence of what he might have recomjiiended at that stage. The decision 

!' Q^g -^Viat would have been made at the Wiite House, so in any case the 

esDOnsibility for- it could be only partially his. Examination of the 
available docutnents does not reveal just hov^ or when the decision on the 

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Secretary of Defense proposal was made^ but it is clear what the 
decision was. It was to adopt alternative C -- i*e. ^ push onward with 
the bombing program essentially as it had been^ continuing the bit- 
by-bit expansion of armed reconnaissance and striking a few new fixed 
targets in each ROLLING THQLIDER series, but still holding back from 
closing the ports and such sensitive ta,rgets as the MEG airfields. 

The next ROLLING THUroER series, No. 57, was authorized 
on 20 July. Sixteen fixed targets were selected, including one air- 
field, one rail yard, two bridges, and 12 barracks s.nd supply areas, all 
within the Hanoi and Haiphong circles but not within the forbidden 10- 
mile inner circle around the center of Hanoi against which Admiral Sharp 
had sailed. Arm^ed reconnaissance vms expa-nded along 23 road, rail, and 
waterwa.y segments between the 30-mile and the 10-mile circles aroujad 
Hanoi. 179/ 

For the moment at least neither the hawks nor the doves 
had \ron their case. The President had decided m^erely to extend ROLLING 
THUNDER within the general outlines already established. In effect, the 
RT 57 was a decision to postpone the issue, insuring that the partisans 
would continue their fight. As for the President, he would not move 
decisively until the next year when outside events were heavily forcing 
his hand and a new Secretary of Defense had entered the debate. 


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1. CINCPAC msgs. to JCS l42lij-0Z January I967 (TS). 

2. CINCPAC msg. to JCS 182210Z January I967 (TS-LIMDIS). 

3. CINCPAC rasg. to JCS and COLIUSMACV, Exclusive for General Wheeler 
and General Westmoreland from Admiral Sharp, O3O52OZ January I967 

k. CINCPAC msg. to JCS 252126Z January I967 (TS-LIMDIS). 
.5. CIA SC #0kkk2/e7, op^ cit. 

6. Ibid. 


7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Ibid. 

11. See Task Force paper IV. C. 3 for a detailed study of this particiilar 
effort . 

12. Robert S. McNamara letter to the Honorable Richard B. Russell, United 
States Senate, 30 January I967 with attached chronology of ROLLING 

13. JCSM-727-66, 22 November 1966, op^ cit. 

Ik. COxMUSMCV msg. to CINCPAC 00163^ O21I13O January I967. 

15. CINCPAC msg. to JCS 040403Z January I967 and JCSM-6"67:» h January I967 

16. JCSM-6-675 ibid . . 

17. State msg. to AmEmbassy, Saigon II886I5 1^ Janua2:y I966. 

18. Embassy Saigon I5822, I7 January I967. 


19. JCSM-25-67, 18 January I967 (TS). 


20 Willis-^ Bundy Mem-orandum to Under Secretary Katzenbach, no date 

("drafted 21 Jan 67" pencilled in)(TS) with Katzenbach's initialed 
r.^^^r^y^n^rP>^\ at the bottom. 

approval at the bottom. 

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21. JCS msg. to CINCPAC, and CINCSAC hjOQ, JCS send, 27 January I967 (TS). 

22. Ibid. 

23. Leonard H. Marks ^ Director USIAj Memorand\:an for Dean Rusk, Subject: 
Regaining Initiative on Tet Truce, 2 February I967 (S). 


2k. "SCEMRIO" imsigned, undated, handva'itten paper in MG]\^aughton Book 
III, Tab RR. • 

25. Ibid. ' ' 

26. "Vietnam, Search for Peace," Department of State, 1967* 

27. VJhite House Press Release, February 8, 1967* 

28. State msg. 13^^09, Saigon for Ambassador, London for Ambassador 
and Cooper, February 9^ 1967^ 7:27 p.m. (TS-NODIS). 

29. DIA Intelligence Supplement, "North Vietnamese Resupp2-y Activity 
during Tet Stand-Down," 10 February I967 (S). 

30. New York Times , February 15, 1967- 
^1. "Vietnam, Search for Peace," op. cit. 

32. CINCPAC msg. to JCS 012005Z February I967 (TS-LIIVIDIS) 

33. JCSM-59-675 2 February I967 (TS). 

3^. Cyrus Vance, Deputy Secretary of Defense, letter to Nicholas deB. 
Katzenbach, Under Secretary of State, 21 February I967 (TS)j with 
a paper on escalation options attached. 


35. Ibid^ , p. 10. ■ . 

36. Ibid ., p. 11. 
37- I'bid - p pp. 7-8- 

38. Etnbassy Moscow msg. 3568, I9 February I967 (TS-NODIS). 

39. "Comment on DoD Analysis - Courses of Action," VJ.P. Bundy, 2/2_l/67 (To) 


kO. Ibid. 

ij-l. Roger Fisher, "Future Strategy Against North Vietnam," February 21, 
1967 in McNaughton Book III, Tab QQ. 

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k2. Max^'/ell D. Taylor Memorandiom for the President, Su^bject: "Possible 
Forms of Negotiation with Hanoi," 20 Felruary I967 (TS). 

43. W. W. Rostow Memorandum for Secretary of State; Secretary of Defense;, Joint Chiefs of Staff, February 21, I967 (TS). 

ij-4. Targets listed in CM-219^-673 Memorandum for the President from 
*" ' Earle G. Wheeler, Chairraan, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 22 March I967 (TS). 

1^5. Embassy Saigon msg. 20060, 10 March I967 (S-EXDIS). 

. ii6. Lyndon B. Johnson letter to Senator Henry M. Jackson, March 1, I967, 
Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Public Information 
Series, released March 2, 1967* 

ii7. "Remarks of the President at a Joint Session of the Tennessee State 

Legislature, March I5, 1967^" White House Press release, March I5, I967. 

k8. Embassy Saigon m-Sg, 20668, I8 March I967 (C-LIMDIS). 
1^9. COMJSMCV msg. to CINCPAC O9IOI, I8 March I967 (TS). 

50. "My *press suggestions' for SecDef in Guam, 3/21/67," in McNaughton 
Book III, Tab GG. 

51. John T. McNaughton, ASD/iSA, Memorandum for the Secretary of 
Defense, "T\^o Items on Vietnam," 27 March I967 (c). 

52. CM-219^-675 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle 

G. V/heeler, Memorandum for the President, Subject: "ROLLING THUNDER 
5I1 Status Report," 23 March I967 (TS). 

53. CINCPAC msg. to CINCPACFLT OSOUOBz April I967 (TS). 

^h. CM-22J49-67, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. 
Wheeler, Memorandum for the President, 19 April I967 (TS). 

55. JCSM-218-67, 20 April 1967, Appendix B, "Rati6nale for Additional 
Forces," p. 11 (TS-Sensitive) . 

56. Ibid . 

57. Ibid., Appendix A, "Concept of Operations for Southeast Asia with 
Respect to Vietnam," p. 1. 

58. CM-2318-67, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. 
vnieeler, Memorandum to the President, Subject: "The Target System 
in North Vietnam," 5 May I967 (TS). 

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59. Ibid. ' 
59a. Ibid . 

60. CIA Intelligence Memorandum No. 0651/6?? "The Status of North 
Vietnam's Electric Power Industry as of 25 May I967/' 26 May I967 (S) 

61. For a complete treatment of the issues and debate on the Program #5 
ground force deployments see Task Force paper IV.C.65 "U.S. Ground 
Strategy and Force Deployments: I965-I967" (TS-Sensitive) . 

62. Nicholas deB. Katzenbach^ Acting Secretary^ MemorandTjm. to Honorable 
John McNaughton, Re: Vietnam, April 2k, I967 (TS-EYES ONLY). 

63. Ibid. 

6U. Sherman Kent, Director National Estimates, Memorandum for the 

Honorable Robert S. McIMamara, I3 April I967 with CIA, Office of 
National Estimates, Memorandum TS 186015, Subject: "Communist 
Policy and the Next Phase in Vietnam," 12 April I967 (TS) attached. 

65- Ibid., p. 18. 

66 • R. W. Kcmer Memorandum, Subject: "Thoughts on Future Strategy in 
I I Vietnam," 24 April I967 (S-EYES ONLY). 

67. Ibid. 

68. "Notes on Discussions with the President," 27 April I967 (TS), no 
indica.tion of who took the notes. 


69. Ibid . 

70. Memora^ndum to the Under Secreta,ry, Subject: "Thoughts on Strategy 
in Vietnam," May 1, I967 (TS)^ the paper is not signed or is 
authorship otherwise indicated except by the following final note: 
"I am sending you copies of this, and retaining one in a totally 
private file. This memorandum has been seen and discussed with 
no one except the typist. Copies 1 through 6 - The Under Secretary, 
Copy 7 - Bundy file." 

71. Ibid. 

72. Ibid . 

73. Ibid^ 

7i| SNEE-11-11"67^ "Soviet Atjsitudes. and Intentions Toward the Vietnam 
^ ' War," h May 1967 (S). 

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75. McGeorge Bundy letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson^ no date 
("rec'd 5-^"67? 12n" in pencil) v/ith attached "Memorandiim on 
Vietnam Policy." . ■ 

76- Ibidy 

77. I^^. 

78. Ibid, 

79- CM-2318-67, 5 May 1967, op. crt. 

80. Roger Fisher letter to President Johjison, May 5^ 1967» 

81. Draft Memorandum for the President, 5 May 1967, "Proposed Bombing 
Program Against North Vietnam," (TS). 

82. Ibid . 

83. Ibid. 

84. Ibid. 

85. Ibid. 

86. Referred to in McGeorge Bundy Memorandum to Secretary McNamara, 
■ May 11, 1967- 

87. ¥. VJ. Rostow Memora-ndum for Secretaries Rusk, Vance, Katzenbach, 
McNaughton and Bundy, and CIA Director Heljns, Subject: "U.S. Strategy 
in Viet Nam," May 6, I967 (TS-EYES ONLY ADDRESSEE). 

88. Ibid. 

89. Ibid. 

90. Ibid. 

91. Ibid. 

Cry II 

92. VJPBundy Memorandum, "Bombing Strategy Options for the Rest of 1967? 
(revised draftTT May 8, 1967 (TS) . 

■93. Ibid . 

I i 9^- I^^4 ' 

^ 95. Ibid. 

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96- CIA5 "The Effect of the Bombing on North Vietnamese Thinking," . 
May 1967 (S). 

97. CIA Intelligence Memorandum No. 06k2/67} "The Current State of 
Morale in North Vietnejn," 12 May I967 (S). 

98. CIA Intelligence Memorandum No. 06^3/675 "Bomb Damage Inflicted 
on North Vietnam Through April I967/' 12 May I967 (s). 

99. Ibid. 

100. Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: "Fu-ture Actions in 
Vietnam," 19 May 1967"(^i^st rough draft; data and estimates have 
not been checked.)" (tS-SSNSITIVE) . 

101. Ibid . 

102. Ibid. 

103. ■ Ibid. ' ■ 

104. Ibid. 

105. Ibid. 

106. Ibid . 

107. Ibid . 

108. Ibid. 

109. Ibid. 

110. Ibid., emphasis in original. 

111. Ibid. 

112. Ibid . ■ , 

113. Robert S. McNamara Memorandum for the President, 20 May 1967? com- 
menting on Sen. Brooke's proposals for negotiations between the 
GVN and the VC and for a reconciliation program. McNami.ara notes 
that, "Brook's proposals are almost identical to those which I 
suggested in the Draft Memorandum submitted to you yesterday." (TS) 

llif. JCSM 286-67, 20 May I967; JCSM 288-67, 20 May I967 (TS-SEN3ITIVE) . 

115. Robert S. McNamara Memorandum for' the President, 20 May I967 trans- 
* mitting JCSM-286-67 (TS). 

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116. Ibid. • ■ 

117. CM-2377-675 Memoranduia for the SecDef^ "Alternative Courses 
of Action," 2k May I967. 

118- Ibid. 

119. CM-2381-67, 29 May 1967 (TS-SENSITIVE). 

120. JCSM-307-67, 1 June I967 ( TS-SENSITIVE ). 

121. Ibid. 

122. Ibid. 

123. Ibid. 


12l|. Ibid . 

125. CIA SC Wo. O6J16/67, 23 May I967, "Reactions to Various US 
Courses of Action." 

126. Ibid. 

127. Ibid. 

128. Ibid . , ■ . 

129. W. P- Bundy Memorandim, "Comments on DOD First Draft of I9 May/* 
May 30, 1967 (TS)5 forwarded to Katzenbach, W. Rostow, Vance, 
Helms, and McNaughton on June 2, I967. 

130. Ibid. 

131. Ibid- 

132. Ibid . 

133. Ibid. 

I3U. Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Memorandum fo? Cyrus R. Vance, Subject: 
"Preliminar;j» Comments on the DOD Draft of May I9, June 8, I967 
(S-EYES only). 

135. Ibid. 

136. Memorandum for the CJCS, DCI, SecNav, and SecAF, 20 May I967. 

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137. Ibid . 

138. Ibid, 

139. Letter from Richard Heli^is, Director of CIA to SecDef^ 1 June 1967^ 
■forwarding Memorandum^ "Evaluation of Alternative Programs for 
Bom^bing North Vietnam," TS-I96752/67 (TS). 

llfO. Ibid. ' ■ 







Ikk. JCSM 312-67^ Memorandum for the SecDef, 2 June I967 (tS). 

Ik^. Ibid. 

11^6. Ibid. 

Iil7. Ibid. 

ikQ. Memorandum for the SecDef from the SecNav, "Alternative Bombing 
Programs in North Vietnam" 2 June I967 (TS) 

li|9. Ibid. 

150. Ibid. 

151. Memorandum for the SecDef, Possible Courses of Action in Southeast 
Asia," 3 June I967 (TS). 

152. Ibid. 

153. Ibid . ■ ■ 

154. Harold Brown, Secretary of the Air Force, Memorandujn for the 
Secretary of Defense, Jime 9, I967 (TS) . 

' -155. CINCPAC rrsg. to JCS 29O5O6Z May I967 (TS). 

156. Unsigned outline, dated "6/8/67" in pencil and preserved in 
McNaughton Book XIII, Tab B (S-EYES ONLY). 

157. Untitled, unsigned outline in McNaughton Book XIII, Tab B dated 
6/8/67 in pen (TS-EYES OIOLY, "This paper to be read by McNaughton 


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158. Ibid. 

3.59. Ibid. . " 

160. BTQ.ft Memorandum for the President, Subject: "Alternative 
Military Actions against North Vietnam/' 6/12/6? (TS-SENSITIVS) . 

161. Ibid, 

162. Ibid. 

163. Ibid. . ■ 
16k. Ibid. 

165. See W.P.Bundy note for Vance, et. al. , 12 June I967 (S-EYES OI\rLY) . 

166. W. P* Bundy Memorandum for the Secretary (of State), Subject: 
"First Full Interview with Radvanyi," June 1, I967 (TS-SENSITIVE) . 

167. State Department IM Memorandum to the Secretary, Subject: "Prospects 
for Vietnam Negotiations in Next Three Months," June 15, I967 (TS-NODIS) 

168. Embassy Saigon 28293 :► Eyes Only for the Secretary from Bujiker, 
17 June 1967 (TS-NODIS). 

169. Ibid . 

170. CINCPAC msg. to JCS SlO^i-SOZ June I967 (TS-LIIvIDIS) . 

171. Ibid . 

172. Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown, Memorandum for the 
Secretary of Defense, July 3, 1967 (TS) . 

173. Ibid. 

174. Ibid . 

175. JCSM-382-r67, 5 July I967 (TS). 

176. "Briefings Given the Secretary of Defense, Saigon, South Vietnam, 
July 7 and 8,. 1967," abridged version prepared by OASD/sa, 

July 22, 1967 (TS), pp. 2-5, 12-16. 

. Ibid., pp. 129-13^. 

178. Ibid., p. 2I46. . ■ 

179. JCS Fact Sheet, "ROLLING THUNDER 57/' 10 August 1967- 

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After the decision on ROLLING THUTOER 57> the debate on the air 
war against North Vietnam, particularly the public debate, entered a 
last long phase of increasing acrimony on both sides. As he had been 
throughout the v/ar, President Johnson was once again caught in the 
crossfire of his critics of the right and the left;- The open-season 
on Presidential war policy began in August with the high intensity 
Senate Preparedness Subcommittee hearings where Senator Stennis and 
his colleagues fired the first shots. In September, the embattled 
President tried again for peace, capping his secret efforts with a 
new public offer to Hanoi in a speech in San Antonio. The attempt 
was unavailing and, under pressure from the military and the havzkish 
elements of public and Congressional opinion, the President authorized 
a selected intensification of the air war. The doves v/ere not long 
in responding. In October they staged a m^assive demonstration and 
march on the Pentagon to oppose the war, there confronting specially 
alerted troops in battle gear, A month later, Senator McCarthy announced 
himself as a peace candidate for the Presidency to oppose Lyndon Johnson 
within his cv7n painty. By Christmas, however, the issue had subsided a 
bit. Ambassador Bunker and General Westmoreland had both returned home 
and spoken in public to defend the Administration's conduct of the war, 
and reports from the field showed a cautious optimism. The stage was 
thus set for the dra.matic Viet Cong Tet offensive in January of the 
new year, an assault that would have a traumatic impact on official 
Washington and set in motion a re-evaluation of the v7hole American policy 

A. Senator Stennis Forces an Escalation 

1. The Addendum to ROLLING TPrjKDER . 

Sometime after his return from Vietnam in late July, 
Secretary McNam.ara was informed by Senator Stennis that the Prepared- 
ness Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee intended to 
conduct extensive hearings in August into the conduct of the air war 
against North Vietnam. In addition to their intention to call the 
Secretary, they also indicated that they would hear from, all the top 
military leaders involved in the ROLLING THUNDER program including 
USCINCPAC, Adm.iral Sharp. The subcommittee ha^d unq,uestionably set 
out to defeat Mr. McNamara. Its members. Senators Stennis, Symington, 
Jackson, Cannon, Byrd, Smith, Thurmond, and yiller, were known for 
"their hard-line views and military sympathies. They were defenders 
of "airpower" and had often aligned themselves with the "professional 
military experts" against what they considered "unskilled civilian 
am-ateurs." They viewed the restraints on bombing as irrational, the 
shackling of a m.ajor instrument which could help v^dn victory. With 

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Vietnam blown up into a major war, with more than half a million U.S. 
troops and a cost of more than $2 billion a month, and with no clear 
end in sight, their patience with a restrained bombing program vms 
beginning to wear thin. But m-ore was involved than a disagreement 
over the conduct of the war. Some passionately held convictions had 
been belittled, and some members of the subcoifimittee vrere on the 
varp3/ch. As the subcommittee subsequently wrote in the introduction 
to its report, explaining the reasons for the inquiry: 

Earlier this year many statements appeared in the 
press vrhich were calculated to belittle the effectiveness 
of the air campaign over North Vietnam. Many of these 
statements alleged, or at least implied, that all military 
targets of significance had been destroyed, that the air 
campaign had been conducted as effectively as possible, 
and that continuation of the air campaign was pointless 
and useless — possibly even prolonging the war itself- 
At the time reports were being circulated that serious 
consideration was being given in high places to a cessa- 
tion of the air campaign over North Vietnam., or a sub- 
stantial curtailment of it. Many of these reports were 
attributed to unnamed high Governjnent officials. 

In view of the im.portance of the air campaign, on 
June 28, 1967? the subcominittee announced it would conduct 
an extensive inquiry into the conduct and effectiveness of 
the campaign over North Vietnam, l/ • 

In July the President had decided against both an escala- 
tory and a de-escalatory option in favor of continuing the prevailing 
level and intensity of bombing. However, the prospect of ha.ving his 
bombing policy submitted to the harsh scrutiny of the Stennis committee, 
taking testimony from such uniiappy military men as Admiral Sharp, must 
have forced a recalculation on the President, It is surely no coinci- 
dence that on August 9? the very day the Stennis hearings opened, an 
addendum to ROLLING THUNDER 57 was issued authorizing an additional 
sixteen fixed ta.rgets and an expansion of armed reconnaissance, Signifi' 
cantly, six of the targets were vrithin the sacred lO-mdle Hanoi inner 
circle. They included the thermial power plant, 3 rail yards, and 2 
bridges. Nine targets were located on the northeast rail line in the 
China buffer zone, the closest one 8 miles from the border, and con- 
sisted of k bridges and 5 rail yards/sidings j the tenth was a naval, 
base, also vathin the China buffer zone. Armed reconnaissance was 
'authorized along 8 road, rail, and water\*7ay segments between the lO-mile 
and a ^-mile circle around Haiphong, and attacks were perm-itted against 
railroad rolling stock within the China buffer zone up to within 8 miles 
of the border, 2/ But the power of Congress was 'not to be denied. 
VJhere the mdlitary alone had tried uiasuccessfully for so long to erode 
the Hanoi/Haiphong sanctuaries, the pressure implicit in the impending 
hearings, where military men would be asked to speak their minds to a 

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friendly audience ^ was enough to succeed -- at least for the moment - 

Attacks against the nev/ly authorized targets began 
promptly 8,nd continued through the two-v^eek period of the Stennis 
hearings. On August 11 the Paul Doumer Rail and Highway Bridge, the 
principle river crossing in the direction of Haiphong located very 
nea.r the center of Hanoi ^ was struck for the first time and two of 
its spans vrere dropped. Other important Hanoi targets were also struck 
on the nth and 12th. The intensity of the strikes continued to moiint, 
and on August 20, 209 sorties v/ere launched, the highest number to date 
in the war. During that day and the succeeding tv^o, heavy attacks con- 
tinued against the Hanoi targets and within the China buffer zone. On 
the 21st in connection with these attacks a long feared danger of the 
northern air war became reality. Two U.S. planes strayed over the Chinese 
border and were shot dovm by Chinese MlGs. On August 19? at McNamara's 
direction, the JCS instructed CINCPAC to suspend operations within the 
ten-mile Hanoi perimeter from August 2^4- to September k, 3/ The Stennis 
hearings were ending and a particularly delicate set of contacts with 
North Vietnam were under way in Paris (see below). The suspension was 
designed both to avoid provocation and to manifest restraint. 

2. The Stennis Hearings 

Meanwhile' in Washington, the Stennis hearings opened on 
August 9 with Admiral U, S. Grant Sharp, USCINGPAC, as the first witness. 
In the following two weeks the subcommittee heard testimony from the entire 
senior echelon of U.S. military leaders involved in the air war, including 
the Joint Chiefs, CINCPAC, CINCPACFLT, CINCPACAF, and the coimnander and 
fonner deputy comjnander of the 7th Air Force in Saigon. The final witness 
on August 25 was Secretary McNamara who found himself pitted against the 
military men who had preceded him by the hostile members of the subcom- 
mittee as he sought to deflate the claim.s for U.S. air povzer. The 
hearings, released by the subcommittee only days after the testimony 
was completed, and given extensive treatment by the m.edia, exposed to 
public view the serious divergence of views between McNamara and the 
country's professional military leaders. The- subcommittee's svimmary 
report, which sided with the military and sharply criticized McNamara's 
reasoning, forced the Adrainistration into an awkwa.rd position, h/ Ulti- 
mately, the President felt compel.led to overrule McNamara's logic in his 
•own version of -the matter. Once a.geA.n the President was caught unhappily 
in the middle satisfying neither his critics of the right nor the left. 

The subcommittee heard first from the military leaders 
involved in the air war. It vras told that the air war -in the North 
was an important and indispensable part of the U.S. strategy for fighting 
the wa-r in the South. It was told that the bombing had inflicted exten- 
sive destruction and disruption on NTN, holding down the infiltration of 
men and supplies, restricting the level of forces that could be sustained 
in the South and reducing the ability of those forces to m^ount major 


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sustained combat operations, thus resulting in fever U.S. casualties. 
It vras told that without the "borobing, MIT could have doubled its forces ■ 
in the South, requiring as many as 800,000 additional U.S. troops at a 
cost of |75 billion more just to hold our o\^m. It was told that without 
the bombing WN could have freed 5^0,000 people who were at vrork main- 
taining and repairing the LOCs in the North for additional support of 
the insurgency in the South. It was told that a cessation of the bombing 
now V70uld be "a disaster," resulting in increased U.S. losses and an 
indefinite extension of the V7ar. 

The subcoirLrnittee was also told that the bombing had been 
much less effective than it might have been — and could still be — 
if civilian leaders heeded military advice and lifted the overly restric- 
tive controls which had been imposed on the campaign. The slow tempo of 
the bombing; its concentration for so long well south of the vital Hanoi/ 
Haiphong areas, leaving the important targets untouched; the existence of 
sanctuaries; the failure to close or neutralize the port of Haiphong— 
these and other lim.itations prevented the bombing from achieving gree^ter 
results. . The "doctrine of gradualism" and the long delays in approving 
targets of rea.1 significe^nce, moreover, gave WN time to build up foi^nid- 
able air defenses, contributing to U.S. aircraft and pilot losses, and 
enabled WW to prepare for the anticipated destruction of its facilities 
(such as POL) by building up reserve stocks and dispersing them. 

IVhen Secretary McNamara appeared before the subcommittee 
on August 25, he took issue with most of these views. He defended the 
bombing campaign as one which was carefulJ^y tailored to our limited 
purposes in Southeast Asia and which was therefore aimed at selected 
targets of strictly military significance, primarily the routes of 
infiltra-ticn. As he restated the objectives which the bombing was intended 
to serve: 

Our primary objective was to reduce the flow and/or to 
increase the cost of the continued infiltration of men and 
supplies from North to South Vietnam. 

It v;as also anticipated that these air operations would 
raise the morale of the South Vietnamese people who, 8.t the 
time the bombing started, were imder severe military pressure. 

Finally, we hoped to make clear to the North Vietnamese 
leadership that so long as they continued their aggression 
against the South they would have to pay a price in the North. 

The bombing of North Vietnam has always been considered 
a supplemLent to and not a substitute for an effective counter- 
insurgency land and air caiapaign in South Vietnam. 

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( \ 


These "vrere our objectives when our bombing program 
was initialed in February I965- They remain our objectives 
today. _5/ 

Weighed against these objectives , the bombing campaign 
had been successful: 

It was initiated at a time when the South Vietnamese 
v/ere in fear of a military defeat. There can be no question 
that the bombing raised and sustained the morale of the 
South Vietnam,ese at that time. It should be equs^lly clear 
to the North Vietnamese that they have paid and will 
continue to pay a high price for their continued aggression. 
We also made the infiltr&.tion of m_en and supplies from 
North Vietnam to South Vietnam increasingly difficult and 
costly. 6/ 

With respect to infiltration^ the Secretary said, mili- 
tary leaders had never anticipated that complete interdiction was 
possible. He cited the nature of combat in SVN, without "established 
battle lines" and continuous large-sca.le fighting, v/hich did not 
require a steady stream, of logistical support and which reduced the 
amount needed. Intelligence estimated that VC/jMVA forces in SVN 
required only I5 tons a day brought in from, outside, "but even if the 
quantity vrere five tim^es that amount it couJLd be transported by only 
a fev/ trucks." By comparison with that amount- the capacity of the 
transportation network was very large: 

North Vietnam's ability to continue its aggression 
against the South thus depends upon im.ports of war -supporting 
material and their transhipment to the South. Unfortunately 
for the chances of effective interdiction, this simple 
agricultural economy has a highly diversified transportation 
system consisting of rails and roads and water\'/ays. The 
North Vietnamese use barges and sampans, trucks and foot 
power, and even bicycles capable of carrying 500-pou-nd 
loads to move goods over this network. The capacity of 
this system is very large — the vol-ume of traffic it is 
now required to carry, in relation to its c3.pacity, is very 
small. .. .Under these highly unfavorable circumstances, I 
think tha^ our military forces have done a superb job in 
making continued infiltration more difficult and expensive. 7/ 

The Secretary defended the targeting decisions which had 
been made in carrying out the program, and the "target -by-target analysis" 
which balanced the militaiy importance of the target against the cost 
in U.S. lives and the risks of expanding the vrar. He argued that the 
target selection had not inhibited the use of aii-'pov/er against targets 
of military significance. The target 'list in cuj?rent use by the JCS 

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contained 427 targets, of v/hicli only 359 ^ad been recornjnended by the- 
Chiefs. Of the latter , strikes had been authorized against 302, or 
85 percent. Of the 57 recommended by the JCS but not yet authorized, 
7 were recognized .by the JCS theraselves as of little value to WN's 
war effort, 9 were petroleum facilities holding less than 6 percent ^ 
of WJ>V s remaining storage capacity, 25 were lesser targets in popu- 
lated, heavily defended areas, k were more signf leant ta^rgets in such 
areas, 3 were ports, h vrere airfields, and 5 were in the China buffer 
zone. Some of these targets did not warrant the loss of American lives; 
others did not justify the risk of direct confrontation with the 
Chinese or the Soviets; .still others would be considered for authoriza- 
tion as they were found to be of military importa^nce as compared with 
the potential costs and risks. 8/ 

The Secretary argued that those who criticized the limited 
nature of the bombing Ccampaign actually sought to reorient it tov^ard 
different — and unrealizable objective 

. o • 

Those vrho criticize our present bombing policy do 
so, in my opinion, because they believe that air a^ttack 
.against the North can be utilized to achieve quite 
different objectives. These critics appear to argue 
that our airpower can win the war in the South either 
by breaking the will of the North or by cutting off 
the war-supporting supplies needed in the south. In 
essence, this approach woiil.d seek to use the air 
attack against the North not as a supplement to, but 
as a substitute for the arduous ground war that we and 
our allies are waging in the South. 9/ 

First, as to breaking the will of the North, neither the 
nature of M^N's economy nor the psychology of its people or its leaders 
suggested that this could be accomplished by a more intensive bombing 
campaign. For one thing, it was difficult to apply pressure against 
the regime through bom-blng the economy: 

...the economy of North Vietnam is agrarian and 
simple. Its people are accustomed to few of the modern 
corn-forts and conveniences that most of us in the Western 
VIorld take for granted. They are not dependent on the 
continued fmictioning of great cities ff-r their welfare. 
' • They can be fed at something apprca,ching the standard to 

* which they are accustomed without reliance on truck or 

rail transportation or on food processing facilities. Our 
air attack has rendered inoperative about 85 percent of 
the coimtry's electric generating capacity, but it is 
^ important to note that the Pepco plant In Alexandria, 

-,-■ Y8,, generates five times the power produced by all of 

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North Vietnam's power plants before the "bombing. It 
appears that sufficient electricity for -'/ar-related 
activities and for essential services can be provided 
by the some 2^000 diesel-driven generating sets which 
are in operation. 3-0/ 

Second^ the people were inured to hardship and by all the evidence 
supported the goveriiment : 

...the people of North Vietnam are accustomed to 
discipline and are no strangers to deprivation and 
dearth. Available information indicates that^ despite 
some v/ar weariness ^ they remain v/illing to endure hard- 
ship and they continue to respond to the political 
direction of the Hanoi regime. There is little reason 
to believe that any level of conventional air or naval 
action short of sustained 8.nd systematic bombing of 
the population centers will deprive the North Vietnamese 
of their willingness to continue to support their 
government's efforts, ll/ 

Third^ NVN^s leaders v^ere hard to cracky at least so long as their cause 
in the South was hopefiil: 

There is nothing in the pa,st reaction of the North 
Vietnamese leaders that v^ould provide any confidence that 
they can be bombed to the negotiating table. Their regard 
for the comfort and even the lives of the people they 
control does not seem to be sufficiently high to lead them 
to bargain for settlement in order to stop a heightened 
level of attack. 

The course of the conflict on the ground in the south^ 
rather than the scale of air attack in the north appears 
to be the determining factor in North Vietnsjn's willingness 
to continue. 12/ 

The second alternative aim might be to stop the flow of 
supplies to the South^ either through an expanded campaign against the 
supply routes wn".thin NVN or by closing sea and land importation routes 
to NVNj or both. But it was doubtful v/hethei' heavier bombing of the 
LOCs could choke off the req.uired flow: 

...the capacity of the lines of communication and of 
the outside sources of supply so far exceeds the minimal 
flow necessary to support the present level of North 

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Vietnamese military effort in South Vietnam that the 
enemy operations in the south cannot ^ on the basis of 
any reports I have seen^ be stopped by air bomJbardment — 
short J that is^ of the virtual annihilation of North 
Vietnam and its people. 13/ 

Nor covild the ports and mining the harbors stop the infiltration 
jl of supplies "into SVI^. The total tonnage req.uired in SVN (15 tons a 

day) could be quintupled and would still be dwarfed by NVN's actual 
imports of about 58OO tons a day and its even greater import capacity 
of about 1^,000 tons a day. Even if Ha.iphong and the other ports were 
closed -- "and on the unrealistic assiomption that closing the ports would 
eliminate seaborne imports" -- WN could still import over 8^00 tons a 
day by rail^ road, and wa,terv7ay. Even if the latter am^ount could be 
further cut by 5O percent through air attacks^ IWN could still maintain 
70 percent of its current imports^ only a fraction of which -- 55O tons per 
day -- need be taken up with military equipment. In fact, however, 
eliminating Haiphong and the other ports w^ould not eliminate seaborne 
imports. The POL experience had shown that NVN could revert to lightering 
and over-the "beach operations for unloading ocean freighters, and it 
could also make greater use of the LOCs from China, and still manage 
quite well. 

Accordingly, the Secretary urged that the lijaited objec- 
tives and the restrained nature of the bombing carapaign be maintained as 


A selective, carefully targeted bombing campaign, such 
as vre are presently conducting, can be directed toward 
reasonable and realizable goals. This discrimina.ting use 
of air power can and does render the infiltration of men and 
supplies more difficult and more costly. At the same time, 
it demonstrates to both South and North Vietnam our resolve 
to see that aggression does not succeed. A less discriminating 
bombing campaign against North Vietnam would, in my opinion, 
do no more. We have no reason to believe that it would break 
the will of the North Vietnamese people or sway the purpose 
of their leaders. If it does not lead to such a change of 
mind, bombing the North at any level of intensity would not 
I' meet our objective. We would still have to prove by ground 

operations in the South that Hanoi's aggression couJLd not 
s■^cceed. Nor would a decision to close /the portsj, by 
whatever means, prevent the movement in and through North 
Vietnam of the essentials to continue their present level 
of military activity in South Vietnam. 

'^^ On the other side of the equation, our report to a less ■ 

selective ce^mpaign of air 'attack against the North v^ould 

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involve risks which at present I regard as too high to 
accept for this dubious prospect of successfiil resuJ-ts. lU/ 

The Secretary spent the day on the witness standi answering 
q^uestions, rebutting charges^ and debating the issues. His use of facts 
and figures and reasoned arguments v;as one of his masterful performances , 
but in the end he was not persuasive. The subcommittee issued a report 
on 31 August which castigated the Administration's conduct of the bombing 
campaign, deferred to the authority of the professional m.ilitary judgments 
it had heardjj accepted virtually all the military criticism^s of the program, 
and advocated a switch-over to escalating "pressi-ire" concepts. 

The Secretary had emphasised the inability of the bombing 
to accomplish much more, given the nature of U.S. objectives a.nd of the 
difficult challenged presented by the overall military situation. The 
subcoiimiittee disagreed: 

That the air campaign has not achieved its objectives 
to a greater extent cannot be attributed to inability or 
impotence of airpower. It attests, rather, to the frag- 
mentation of our air might by overly restrictive controls, 
limi tactions, s.nd the doctrine of 'gra.dualism' pla.ced on 
our aviation forces which prevented them from waging the 
air campaign in the m.anner and according to the timetable 
which v/as best calculated to achieve maximum results. I5/ 

The Secretary had said there was no evidence of any kind to indicate 
that an accelerated campaign vrould have reduced casualties in the South; 
the subcommittee reported that the overt^/helming weight of the testimony 
by military experts was to the contrary. The Secretary had minimized 
the im-portance of the 57 recomm.ended targets which had not yet been 
approved, and im.plied that fevr if any important mdlite^ry targets remained 
unstruck; CII^IGPAC and the Chiefs said the 57 included many "lucrative" 
targets. The Secretary had discounted the val\ie of closing Haiphong; 
all of the military witnesses said that this was feasible and necessar;^'- 
and would have a substa^ntial impact on the war in the South. In all 
of these matters the subcoirmiittee did not believe that the Secretary's 
position v^as valid and felt that the military viev/'was sounder and should 

In 01 .r hearings we found a sharp difference of opinion 
between the civilian authority and the top-level military 
witnesses who appeared before the subcommittee over how 
and vrhen our airpcv/er ' should be employed against North Viet- 
nam. In that difference we believe we also found the roots 
of the persistent deterioi-ation of public confidence in 
oiir airpower, because the plain facts as they unfolded in 
the testimony demonstrated clearly that civilian authority 
consistently overruled the unanitfious recommenda.tions of 

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of military commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for 
a systematise; timely^ and hard-hitting irtegrated air 
campaign against the vital North Vietnam targets. Instead^ 
and for policy reasons ^ we have employed military aviation 
in a carefully controlled^ restricted, and graduated build- 
up of bombing pressure which discounted the professional 
Judgment of our best military experts and substituted 
civilian judgment in the details of target selection and 
the timing of strikes. ¥e shackled the true potential 
of airpower and permitted the buildup of what has become 
the world's most foiiaidable antiaircraft defenses.... 

It is not our intention to point a finger or to second 
guess those who determined this policy. But, the cold fact 
is that this policy has not done the job and it has been 
contrary to the best military judgment. V/hat is needed 
now is the hard decision to do whatever is necessary, 
take the risks that have to be taken, and apply the force 
that is req.uired to see the job through.... 

As between these diametrically opposed views fof the 
SecDef and the military experts/ and in vievf of the unsatis- 
factory progress of the vrar, logic and prudence requires 
that the decision be with the unanimous weight of professional 
military judgraent. . . • 

It is high time, we believe, to allow the military 
voice to be heard in connection with the tactical details 
of military operations. 16/ 

3. The Fallout ' 

This bombing controversy simmered on for the next few 
months and when a major secret peace attempt associated with the 
San Antonio forraula failed, the President authorized most of the 57 
unstruck targets the JCS had recommended and which the Stennis report 
had criticized the Administration for failing to hit. In addition, 
the Chairman of the JCS v/as thereafter asked to attend the Tuesday 
policy luncheon at the \*/hite House as a regular participant. stennis hearings also created considerable confusion 
and controvery within the Pentagon over the target classification and 
recommendation system. The Senators had been at pains to try to estab- 
lish whether targets recoram.ended by the military were b.eing authorized 
and struck or conversely to what extent the military was being ignored. 


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In trying to respond to the question McNamara discovered a great deal 
of fluidity in the niHiiber of targets on JCS lists over time, and in 
the priority or status assigned to thera. He therefore set out to 
reconcile the discrepancies. The effort unearthed a highly complex 
system of classification that began with the milita.ry commands in the 
Pacific and extended through the Joint Staff to his own office. Part 
of the problem le.y v.'ith the changing dajnage assessments and another 
part with differing categories at different echelons. To untangle 
the process 5 reconcile past discrepancies and establish a coimTion basis 
for classification and recommendation, McNamara, Warnke, the ISA staff 
and the Joint Staff spent long hours in September and October in highly 
detailed target by target analysis and evaluation. After much wrangling 
they did achieve agreement on a procedure and set of rules that made it 
possible for everyone to work with the same data and understanding of 
the target system.. The procedure they set up and the one that operated 
through the fall and winter until the March 31 partial suspension V7as 
described in a memo from Warnke to incoming Secretary Clark Clifford on 
ferch 5, 1968: 

T^'/ice a month the Joint Staff has been revising the 
Rolling Thunder Target List for the bombing of North Vietnam. 
The revisions are for;-rarded to my office and reconciled 
with the prior list. Tiiis reconciliation s'ummary is then 
forwarded to your office . . ♦ . 

Every Tuesday and Friday the Joint Staff has been 
sending me a current list of the authorized targets on the 
target list which have not been struck or restruck since 
returning to a recommended status. After our review ;, this 
list also is sent to your office.... 

In the normal course of events, new recommendations by 
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for targets lying 
within the 10 and k m.ile prohibited circles around Hanoi and 
Haiphong, respectively, or in the Chinese Buffer Zone have 
been submitted both to the Secretary of Defense's office 
and to my office in ISA. ISA would then ensure that the 
State Department had sufficient information to make its 
recommendation on the new proposal. ISA also submitted 
its e\''aluation of the proposal to yo^u* office. On occasions 
the Chaiimian would hand-carry the new bombing proposals 
directly to the Secretary of Defense for his approval. 
Under those circumstances, the Secretary, if he were not 
thoroughly familiar with the substance of the proposal, 
wouJLd call ISA for an* evaluation. State Department and 
"White House approval also were req,uired before the Chairman* s 
office could authorize the new strikes. 17/ 

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The Stenriis report also raised a furor by exposing 
the policy rift within the Administration. In an attempt to dampen 
its effect the I'resident called an unschedulel nev^s conference on 
September 1 to deny differences among his advisors and to generally 
overrule his Secretary of Defense on the bombing. More stinging for 
McNarnara, however^ than this oral repudiation must have been the sub- 
sequent escalatory decisions against his advice. On September 10^ 
for instance, North Vietnam^ s third port at Cam Pha, a target he had 
specifically counseled against in his testimony was struck for the 
first tim.e. Mc]Mamara*s year-end resignation seems in retrospect the 
only logical course for someone v/ho found himself so far out of line 
with the direction of Administration policy. 

B. The San Antonio Formula 

1. Peace Feelers 

In the m-idst of all this pressure on the President to 
raise the ante in the bombing, a countervailing opportimity for contact 
with the DRV on terms for peace developed in Paris. In mid-August a 
channel to the North Vietnamese through U.S. and French academics 
apparently opened up in Paris. Eager as always to test whether Hanoi 
had softened its position, the U.S. picked up the opportunity. As 
already noted, on 19 August a cessation of the attacks in the 10-mile 
Hanoi perim.eter was ordered for a ten day period beginiring on August 2k. 
Sometime thereafter, what was regarded e.s a conciliatory proposal, 
embodying the langu^age of the subsequent San Antonio speech, was apparently 
transmitted to the North Vietnamese. The unfortunate coincidence of 
heavy bombing attacks on Hanoi on August 21-23, just prior to the trans- 
mission of the message, coupled with the fact that the Hanoi suspension 
was to be of limited duration must have left the DRV leadership with the 
strong impression they were being squeezed by Johnsonian pressure tactics 
and presented with an ultimatum. Apparently, no reply from Hanoi had 
arrived by the 1st of September because the Hanoi suspension was extended 
for 72-hours, and then on 7 September the suspension was impatiently 
extended again pending a reply from North Vietnam. When the reply finally 
C8jne, it v/as an emphatic rejection of the U.S. proposal. The U.S. sought 
to clarify its position and elicit some positive reaction from the Hanoi 
leadership but to no avail. The contacts in Paris apparently continued 
throughout Septem.ber since the bombing restraint around Hanoi was not 
relaxed, but Hanoi maintained its charge that the circumstances in which 
the message was communicated placed it in the context of an ultimatum. 18/ 

2. The President's Speech and Hanoi's Reaction 

With Hanoi complaining that the raids deflected from Hanoi 
were merely being reta.rgeted against Haiphong, Cam Pha and other parts 
of the North and that the U.So was escalating not de-escalating the air 
v/ar the President decided to make a dramatic public attempt to overcome 

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the comniLirLi cations barrier between the two capitals. In San Antonio, 
on September 29, the President delivered a long impassioned plea for 
reason in Hanoi. The central function of the speech was to repeat 
publicly the language of the negotiations proposal that had been trans- 
mitted in August. The President led up to it in melodramatic fashjon: 

"'"Why not negotiate now? ^ so many ask me. The answer 
is that we and our South Vietnamese allies are wholly pre- 
pared to negotiate tonight. 

"I ara ready to talk with Ho Chi Minh, and other chiefs 
of state concerned, tomorrow. 

"I ara ready to have Secretary Rusk m_eet with their 
Foreign Minister tomorrow. 

"I am ready to send a trusted represente^tive of America 
to any spot on this earth to ta^lk in public or private with 
a spokesm-an of Hanoi," Ig/ 

Then he stated the U.S. teixas for a bombing halt in their mildest form 
to date: 

As we have told Ha^noi tajne and tjjne and time again, 
the heart of the m^atter is this: The United States is 
willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North 
Vietnam when this \fill lead promptly to productive dis- 
cussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions 
proceed. North Vietnajn vmuld not advantage of this 
bombing cessation or limitation. 20/ 

■ After the speech, the contacts in Paris presuitiably con- 
tinued in an effort to illicit a positive response from Hanoi, but, in 
spite of the continued restraint around Hanoi, none was apparently 
forthcoming. The North Vietnamese objections to the propos3.1 had shifted 
it seems from the circumstances of its delivery to the substance of the 
proposal itself. Instead of their earlier complaints about pressures 
and ultim.ata, they now resisted the "conditions" of the San Antonio for- 
mula -" i.e. the U.S. desire for advance assurance, that "no advantage" 
v/ould be taken if the bombing were halted. Continued U.S. probing for 
a response apparently reinforced the im.pression of "conditions." In 
any case, on October 3^ the San Antonio foiTnulation v/as em^phatically 
■rejected in the North Vietnamese party newspaper, Kham Dan, as a "faked 
desire for peace" and "sheer deception." This was apparently confirmed 
throup-h the Paris channel in mid-October. In his press conference on 
October 12, Secretary Rusk as much as said so v/hen, after q.uoting the 
President's offer, he stated: 


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A rejection, or a refusal even to discuss such a for- 
mula for peace 5 requires that we face seme sober conclusions. 
It would mean that Hanoi has not abandoned its effort to 
seize South Vietnam by force. It would give reality and 
credibility to captured documents which describe a 'fight 
and negotiate' strategy by Vietcong and the North Vietnamese 
forces. It would reflect a view in Hanoi that they can 
gamble upon the character of the American people and of 
our allies in the Pacific. 22/ 

rina.l confirmation that the attempt to find a common ground on which to 
begin negotiations had failed cam^e in an article by the Cormnunist 
Journalist Wilfred Burchette on October 20, Reporting from Hanoi the 
views of Pham Van Dong, Burchette stated that, "There is no possibility 
of any talks or even contacts between Hanoi and the U.S. governj^ient 
unless the bombardment and other acts of war against North Vietnajn are 
definitively halted." 23/ But the American Administration had aljready 
taken a series of escalatory decisions under pressure from the military 
and the Stennis committee. 

3. More Targets 

Tlie September-long restriction against striking targets 
within the ten mile Hanoi perimeter was imposed on the m.ilitary coioraand 
with no explanation of its purpose since apparently every effort was 
being made to maintain the security of the contacts in Pa.ris. Thus, not 
surprisingly, CINCPAC complained about the Ijjnitation and regularly 
sought to have it lifted throughout the month. On Septem.ber 11, General 
McConnell forwarded a req.uest to the Secretary for a restrike of the 
Hanoi therm^al power plant. 2^ On September 21, CINCPAC again reiterated 
his urgent request that the Hanoi ban be lifted. 25/ The day before he 
had also requested authority to strike the Phuc Yen air field. 26/ In 
sending his endorsem.ent of these requests to McNamara, the acting ChairBian, 
General Johnson, noted that there were fifteen lucrative targets within 
the prohibited Hanoi area including critical rail and highway bridges and 
the Hanoi power plant, the latter reportedly back to ^0% of capability. 27 / 
McNamara replied tersely and sim.ply, in his o-^m hand, "The Hanoi restric- 
' tion remains in effect so this strike has not been approved." 28/ The 
requested authorization to hit Phuc Yen air field was not a strike within 
the Hanoi ten mile zone but was militarily important because Phuc Yen 
was the largest remaining unstruck MG field and a center of mruch of 
North Vietnam's air defense control. On September 26, it was approved 
'for strike, but before one could be launched the authorization was res- 
cinded on September 29, no doubt because of concern about upsetting the 
delicate Paris contacts. 29/ 

To these continuing pressiires on the President from the JC3 
to remove the Hanoi restrictions were added at the end of September an 


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additional req.iiest from General Westmoreland bearing on the effort 
against North Vietnam. The enemy buildup in the DMZ area had become 
serious and to counter it an increasing number of B-52 strikes were 
being employed. Eventually this confrontation at the DMZ V70uld involve 
the heavy artillery exchanges of the fall of I967 and culminate in 
the protracted seige of Khe Sanh. For the moment, however, Westmoreland 
was seeking as a part of his LMZ reinforcem_ent an augraentation in the 
monthly B-52 sortie authorization. His reqLuest was outlined by the Chiefs 
in a memo to Mr. Kitze on September 28. They indicated a capability to 
raise the sorties to 9OO per m.onth immediately and were studying the 
problem of raising them to 1200 as req,uested by Westy. The use of 
2,000 lb. bombs was feasible and the Chiefs recommended it depending on 
their availability. 3^/ McNamara. gave his OK to the increa,se in a, memo 
to the President on October k^ but indicated that the increase to 1200 
per month could not be achieved before January or February I968. 31/ 

Undaunted by repeated rebuffs, the Chiefs, under the 
temporary leadership of Army Chief of Staff, General Harold K. Johnson 
I I (General l-fheeler ha.d been stricken by a mild heart attack in early 

September a.nd was away from his desk for a little over a m.onth), con- 
tinued to press for lifting the lianoi restrictions and for permission 
to attack Phuc Yen. On October k they gave McNamara a package of papers 
on the current target list complete with draft execute messages lifting 
the Hanoi ban and authorizing Phuc Yen, both of v;-hich they recomraended. 32/ 
T^io days later a specific reauest to hit the Hanoi power plant vms for- 
warded, noting the DIA estiniate that the power plant was back to ^3% of its 
original capacity. 33/ On October 7, CINCPAC sent the JCS a monthly sum- 
mary of the ROLLING THUOTER progr8j:ii in September and used the opportunity 
once again to complain about the detrimental effects of maintaining the 
Hanoi restriction. Adverse weather because of the northeast Monsoon had 
severely cLirtailed the number of sorties flown to 8,5^^-0 compared v/ith 
11,63^ in August- This had permitted a considerable amount of damage- 
recovery in North Vietnam. The maintenance of the Hanoi sanctuary only 
compounded the problem for the U.S. "This combination of circumstances 
provides the enemy the opportunity to repair rail lines, reconstruct 
downed bridges, and accommodate to much of the initial efforts to main- 
■tain pressure against the vital LOC network." 3V 1^ Admiral Sharp's 
view, countering these recovery effort" was of the first priority. 

The follov/ing day he sent the Chiefs another message specifi- 
cally req.uestirg that the rescinded approval for strikes against Phuc Yen 
airfield be reinstated. Increased MIG activity against our jets over North 
Vietnam was cited as requiring the destruction of this last remaining major 
airfield. The crux of his argument, hovrever, was the necessity of. such 
a strike to the maintenance of pilot morale — a rationale entirely exerapt 
from statistical analysis in OSD. He stated the case as follov;-s: 

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The morale of our air crews understandably rose vrhen 
briefed to strike Phuc Yen airfield and its MLG's -- A 
target which has continually jeopardisec' their well-being. 
The unexplained revocation of that authority coupled with 
the increasing numbers and aggressiveness of MIG-21 attacks 
cannot help but impact adversely on air crew morale. Air 
crews flying combat missions through the intense ]WI\F defenses , 
air to air and ground to air^ have dem,onstrated repeatedly 
their courage and detennination to press home their attack 
against vital targets. Every effort should be made to reduce 
the hazard to them, particularly from a threat in vzhich the 
enemy is afforded a sanctuary and can attack a,t his own choosing. 35/ 

With the failure of the peace initiative in Paris, these 
escalatory pressures could no longer be resisted. As it became evident 
that peace talks were not in the offing, the President approved six new 
targets on October 6 (including 5 i^ or near Haiphong). Secretary Rusk 
in his October 12 nev^s conference strongly questioned the seriousness 
of North Vietnamese intent for peace and finally on October 20 the Paris 
contacts were closed in failure. The Tuesday lunch on October 24 v;-ould 
thus have to m.ake important new bombing decisions. The day before, 
Warnke outlined current JCS recommendations for Secretary McNam^ara, includ- 
"N^ ing Phuc Yen. 36/ The T'Jhite House meeting the following day duly 

approved Phuc Yen along with a re strike of the Hanoi power transformer 
and the temporary lifting of the lianoi restrictions. 37/ ^^ October 25^ 
the MGs at Phuc Yen were attacked for the first tme and Hanoi was 
struck again after the long suspension. 

The Tuesday luncheon at which the Phuc Yen decision was 
made was a regular decision-making forum for the air war and one that 
came to public attention as a result of the Stennis hearings. Indica- 
tive of the public interest in these gatherings is the following impres- 
sionistic account by CBS newsman Dan Rather of how they were conducted: 

First Line Report, 6:55 S'-Tn- 
mOV Radio, October 1?^ 196? 

Dan Rather : This is Target Tuesday. Today President 
Johnson decides whether North Vietnam will continue to be 
bombed. If it is, how much and v;here. These decisions are 
made at which Vlashington insiders call, for short, the Tues- 
day lunch. This is the way it goes. 

At about 1:00 in the afternoon Defense Secretary McNamara^ 
Secretary of State Rusk, and Presidential Assistant I\^alter 
Rostow gather in the P/hite House second floor sitting room. 
They compare notes briefly over Scotch or Fresca. President 




TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

^' Jolinson walks in with Press Secretai^^ George Christian. 

McNamara^ Rusk, Rostow; Christian, and the President — 
they are the Tuesday lunch regulars. The principal cast 
• * for Target Tuesday. 

Sometimes others join. Chaiiman of the Military Joint 
Chiefs, General Earle Vtoeeler, for example. He's been coming 
more often recently, ever since the Senate Subcommittee on 
Preparedness Com_mittee griped about no military man being 
present many times when final bombing decisions were m.ade. 
Centrffvl Intelligence Director Richard Helms seldom comes. 
Vice President Humphrey almost never. 

Decision making at the top is an intimate a,ffair. 
Mr. Johnson prefers it that way. He knows men talk m.ore 
freely in a small group. 

After a bit of chatter over drinks in the sitting room, 
the President signals the move to the dining room. It is 
semi-oval, with a huge chandelier, a mural around "the vrall- 
brightly colored scenes of Corm^allis surrendering his sword 
at Yorktown. The President sits at the head, of course. Sits 
in a high back stiletto svzivel chair. Rusk is at his right, 
McNamiara on his left, Rostow is at the other end. Christian and 
-"^^ the extras, if any, in between. Lunch begins, so does the 

serious conversation. There is an occasional pause, pujictu- 
ated by the whirl of Mr. Johnson \s battery-powered pepper 
grinder. He likes pepper and he likes the gadget. 

Around the table the President's attention goes, sampling 
recommendations, arguments, thoughts. It is now the time for 
a bombing pause. How about Just a bombing reduction? Laos, 
Haiphong, Hanoi, ever^^hing around population centers, confined 
bombing to that tiny part of North Vietnam bordering the 
Demilitarized Zone. McNamara long has favored this. He 
thinks it worth a try. Rusk has been going for some indica- 
tion--the slightest hint will do--that a bombing pause or 
reduction will lead to meaning.ful negotiations. Rostow, 
least known of the Tuesday liinch regulars, also is a hard- 
liner. He more than Rusk is a pour-it-on man. Christian 
doesn't say much. He is there to give an opinion when asked 
about press and public reaction. The military representative, 
when there is one, usually speaks more than Christian, but 
less than McNamiara, Rusk, and Rostow. 

' • McNamara is the m^an with the target list. He gives his 
recommendations. If bomb we must, these are the targets he 
suggests. His recommendations are based on, but by no means 
completely agree with those of the military Joint Chiefs. 




Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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Their recoimnendationsj in turn, are based on those of 
field commanders. Field commanders are under instruc- 
tions not to recomjnend certain targets in certain areas — 
Haiphong docks , the air defense command center in Hanoi , 
and so forth. There is much controversy and some bitterness 
about these off -limit targets. There have been fever and 
fewer of them since July. Some new ones went off the list 
just last week. 

The luncheon meeting continues over coffee iintil S^OO, 
3:30, even ^:00. \{hen it is over, the President goes 
for a nap. The bom-bing decisions have been made for another 

In thinking about Target Tuesday and the VJhite House 
luncheon where so many decisions are on the menu, you may 
want to consider the words of 19th Century v/riter F. W. Borum: 
"We make our decisions, and then our decisions turn around 
and make us . " 

Even before the Phuc Yen decision was taken,' the Chiefs had 
sent McNamara for transmittal to the President a major memo outlining 
their overall recommendations for the air war as requested by the Presi- 
dent on September 12. The President had asked to see a set of proposals 
for putting more pressure on Hanoi. On October I7 that was exactly what 
he got and the list was not shox-^t. The Chiefs outlined their imderstanding 
of the objectives of the war, the constraints vrithin which the national 
authorities wished it to be fought, the artificial limitations that 
were impeding the achievement of our objectives and a recomm.ended list 
of ten new measures against North Vietnam. Since the memo stands as 
one of the last major military argum,ents for the long-sought v/ider war 
against North Vietna.m before the tra-uma of Tet I968 and the subsequent 
U.S. de-escalation, and because of its crisp, terse articulation of the 
JCS point of view, it is included here in its entirety. 

TOP SECPuET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

•■•■ - _f 


— - .-'w j-i _tf^'j_ii 



^^geccT^f GHZ 


5 \ Vc t.,t:_^^V^ri H 



vvASHii-^croN, r>. c. 20301 


17 October 1967 

r -*■. '-v 


-~ - '- ■ ' ' 

(, , r •>••• •• 

Subject: Increased Pressures on North Vietnani (U) 

1, (U) Reference is made to: 

a. NS7UM 2 88, dated 17 March 1964, subject: 
of South Vietnam Progreim (U)." 

" Implementation 

b. JCSM-982-6 4, dated 2 3 November 19 64, subject: '^ Courses 
of Action in Southeast Asia (U)," 

\' ' . 

c. JCSM-811--65, dated 10 November 1965, subject: "Future 
Operations and Force Dep].oyments v/ith Respect to the War 

in Vietnam (U) /' . 

2, (U) The purpose of this memorandum is to identify those 
military actions consistent v/ith present policy guidelines which 
v/ould serve to increase pressures on North Vietnam (NVN) , thereby 
acceleratin.g the rate of progress tov/ard achievement of the US 
objective in South Vietnam. 

3. (TS) The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that NVN is paying 
heavily for its .aggression and has lost the initiative in the 
South. They further consider that many f actors-^-though not 
uniform nor necessarily con trolling- -in die ate a military trend 
favorable to Free World Forces in Vietnam. South Vietnam, in 
the face of great difficulty,, is m.aking slow progress on all 

f rent itary, political, and econom.ic, Hovrever , pace of 
progress indicates that , if acceleration is to be achieved , an 
aooropriate increase in military pressure is required. 

1 V-. 








-pi^ei series 


' 108 

GROUP - 1 

r. L- n 





n. A j: 

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I I 


VL-'- -■*. -^"i f'-i C* f "• ':^-' T~ ' 

a*-L- ^ ''■'^=: S i! *-■■'' 


' _. 4 . (S) Military operations ii^i Southeast Asia have been con- 
ducted v;ithin a framev/orJ; of policy guidelines established to 
achieve US objectives without expanding the conflict. Principal 
amonc) these policy guidelines are: 

a. We seek to avoid v/idening the vmr into a conflict v/ith 
CoTLiaunist China or the USSR, 

b. We have no present intention of invading N\^. 

I J . c. V7e do not seek the overthrov/ of the Government of NVN. 

d. V7e are guided by the princii^les set forth in the Geneva 
Accords of 195 4 and 1962. 

5* (TS) Although sorae progress is being made V7ithin this 
framev/ork, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that the rate of 
progress has been and continues to be slov/, largely because US 
military pov/er has been restrained in a manner v/hich has reduced 
signif i.cantly its impact anc3 effectiveness. Limitations have 
been imposed on military operations in four v/ays : 

a. The attacks on the enemy m.ilitary targets have been 

on such a prolonged, graduated basis that the enemy has adjusted 
psychologically/ economically, and militarily; e.g . , inured 
themselves to the difficulties and hardships accompanying the 
war, dispersed their logistic support system, and developed 
alternate transport routes and a significant air defense 
system. ■ . 

b. Areas of sanctuary, contciining important military 
targets, have been afforded the enemy. 

c. Covert operations in Cambodia and Laos have been 

d. Major importation of supplies into NVI<I by sea has been 

6. (TS) The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that US objectives 
in Southeast Asia can be achieved v/ithin the policy f rairiev/ork 
c^^^t forth in paragraph 4 , above , providing the level of assistance 
the enem.y receives from his comiaunist allies is not significantly 
increased and there is no diminution of US efforts. Hov/ever, 
Dro^"^ess v/ill continue to be slow so long as present limitations 
on militarv operat ions continue in effect. Further , e.t our 
nres-^nt oace ," termination of NVi^''s military effort is not expected 


I ! i - ^ ^ ' - * > 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 




. l>- Ti * ■■■'■ ■ -^ ■ ■' '■■ 

\ u- V;- ■^- - ; J ii- :• 

to occur in the near future. Set forth in the Appendix are 
those actions v/liich can be taken in the near future v;ithin the 
present frajaev/ork of policy guidelines to increase pressures 
on NVN and accelerate progress toward, the achievement of US 
objectives. They require a relaxation or removal of certain 
limitations on operations . The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize 
that expansion of US efforts entails some additional risk. They 
believe that cis a result of this expansion the likelihood of 
overt ' introduction of Soviet Bloc/CPR combat forces into the 
V7ar v/ould be remote. Failure to take additional action to 
sliorten the Southeast Asia conflict also entails risks as new 
and m.ore efficient v;eapons are provided to NVN by the Soviet 
Union and as USSR/CPR support of the eneiay increases. 

7. (U) The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that they be 
authori^ied to direct the actions in the 7\ppendix. 

8 . (S) Tliis memorandum, is intended to respond to the cruestions 
raised by the President at the White House luncheon on 12 September 
1967; therefore, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recjuest that this 
memorandum be submitted to the President. . 

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff 




Joint Chiefs of Staff 







Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

:•:•? €?cT-arr - SE:;£iTi\'Er 


1. ?e;;ove re£trictic!:s on eir ca.'spEig:: af.einEt 

2. y.tvt^ ir/l', deer vater ■Dorts. 

3' Min^; Inland veterveys and estueries In IViiU 
north of ?0° H. 

It. Sxt«!:3 rfivfil sji-fere operstlons (SEA ZHAGO!!)- 

5- Use VS SA:-t5 tTAiOS) rrom snips sreins^ 
ccDtfet elrjraf":. 

c lncTL3Z^ eir In'trd-t'.'tica ir. Laos end eicng 
RV7.' bor:i€rs. 

T- 21ir:inate restrictions or. 3- 52s 
vitr- reg^ra to Laos. 

i^p->:.J cj-rs'-io.-js 'in I<ao3 (PHAIHIi 7IHS). 

r. S'T?.-'. c^srAt^cn^ Ir. >2bOGla. 

-I T-. 


. — '^ 


EuiM^ity OF ACTiOKS wm-iiii PREEsrrr cuiezl:i:ss w:-:ich ecu 

EPKCmC ACTIONS*» Kejphong and Honol F^o^-ibited erofcs. 
E^duce Kftr.oi end H&iphov.c. restricted axeae to 

the city proper. 
Reduce CPK Buffer Zone to 20 niles. 
Conduct unroEtrictsd attacks £;£ainst IOC, rail 

lines, rQt:d& up to five lailes fro.-n C?It border- 
Authorise CX^.'CFAC strikL- and restrihe prerogative 

for Ell t&ro^ts outside of redefined reetricted 

areas . JCS tc authcrise striJree sgalnst tercets in 

the rcdefiried restrlciea treas on a c&se-by-car.e 

basis (to include Ksi-iphor-g port). 

Establish, ropionisi: at required, nine fields In e.:\d herocrs et Heiphoig, Hon Gai end 
Cfi3 F.-^e. Pjc-llFh v&j-nin? notice to csriners. 
Anjur.t/extenc silne fields as necessary to 
-prevent bypassing. 

Mine mouthiS of nevi£:able ITV/t rivers. Mine navigs-bie 
Inlfif.d u-a^tervays tHrou^r-out I^v:.' to vithin 5 1Z: cf 
Cr'R border Leu-.r-ority currently llaiited to tr.ose 
south of 20 n). 

Conduct offensive navel surface force operations ITtTt intlitery/lo^iptie vbtercr'»ft ar.l 
ec&lns* s-jlteble targets in wr.-i asncr^ north of 
£0° N latitude to the redefined buffer zone 

. (SZA EKAG-DH operations now Itnlted to sout.h cf 2C° !;), 

Use sea-baied Ef-K Eissiles against 1^,?: aircraft cctk 
over vjtter end in airspace over lull. 

Selective bonbir.g of Lautian vaterva/s traffic (SYKCriG), 
Fstsblish special saturaticr. bcn:bln£ ir-terd'-ction air- 

etrike zones In Lees, e.£., nertiivest of Ti<Z, :;ape 

and Mu Gie Passes. 

Overflij^nt of Lees, by day and nlgnt, by* 5-5^3 ''r. route 

to or froa. targets in Vietoaa or Lacs. 
Deyligiit bccrbins attacks on Lacs. 
Eliiru:a-e r-?';-:irer.ent for cover strikes in SVi; wcea 

bcEbirg --.arrets In I^cs. 

Ir.cresre autrorized size of exploitation force. 

Ern-dr-l current ZAXilZt, 3CC^~ reccn.tilssiaca prograr 
by li^iter.dir.j t.-i ar=i of operations for t:t- fill 
lene'tn of the S\':;/C5--.-:odia border; authorize jse 
Cf r.ellco^ters,- r^ciove llr^itatlcr.s. on nur.cer cf 
a5scl:ns- ■ 

Ait-orise rv-::n"l 30C:3 forces to ccr.duct limited 
sa'bc'*:«i.:e'dectr-_c':lo'. activity; £'j:r,oriEft calllr.; In 
tS'-'tU"?! ^irstrikts or. enexy tar^-ets near ^-.i= torder. 

Undertax-2 i-^ticns to Incrr^s* t:.e r.rjdibiliny of a 
c'lrr^nc r.ctici:el r?cl3Cir.ce ;2o-, ert-;r.t in NTi. 

Ircr-ease intell"r-=ince :oIlection ard covert p^.yslcal 
dr^'^riictlon alsslcns. 


r_".7.Ii2' Hi Al'Irl' Pri££^Jr'£ Ci." 7i3 E"»1.W 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

r-rocter destruction of ir\T. vsr-cupportlng 

!ncrcfesed dtrtruction cf air defences 

i'.cludfti^ airfields- 
fpduce lOf^is-.ic support of KVT.'/VC 
y^vre efficient use of tvailable forces. 
Fcvor«ible iripcct on reductns friendly 

casualties, particulerly In critical ^ 

I Corps/n3 area. 
ler-'-Jits tic-ely rcect-lcn egcinst targets ■ 

cf opportunity. 

Feduct inpcrt of vtr-s^pportlnj r?itc-rials. 

Interdict inte-r^l vttervey I/:rs. 

Dertrcy -■s.ter'o^r.-e logistic craft end block channels. 

Pccuire c— ^" '""^^ sve^ping tff-'jr* , 

Reduce PJL and other carjc di£trib;jtloti. 

Interdict coastal voter trsiffic- 

Ecdjce UPC- cf ,ard l-ZV.Zr by :£r=£sin»j gunfire 

Increa^-T df-rtrjrtion cf cr.e-.iy forces. . 
In.tlttt eneay j-ir operttions. 

Increased icttrdictlc-r- 
supplies to rVA./VC. 

.*■«• rr-r 

Ca and reduction of 

Greater tperat_oral efficiency and quicker rea-:tlra 
ttite for ^-^?s- 

I'.nrupt sanrtutries. 

r-.-re%--<;d effl i^ cf :::t»:rdicticn. 

?ciuce s«r-?i'tj ^ :rvA,vc. 

.. r-'i- 

\—» ■ '»• - 

^*:.l-.* Eupclie- to ?r/>, ._. 
tr^rc.-i intelligence. 

-.:::cur?;e u;;a of Catbcdie v^ 3p::-Viiry f:;r t;a/7C 

*crce* . 
>rr.-;i* s-lf-i-.fer.s» 3f 'J5 fcrc-s. 

■-■it. In crjurtr. . 

■ -i ^;v»i-- r»s.:_rt*i tt internal s?c'_rity. 


Charge's of escalaticn. 

Tncresced use of CfE tlrfields for storfi.cs or 

trtiinir.g, but not for ccrbat rolssicns. 

Tncroossd CPH A.V. and. Knglneer support In 

Soviet Unicr, ct&y cancel existlcg nrjctia^icns 
vitn tne US and initiate prop»'.if-nda carpalgn. 
Possib-e Soviet acvlons tc- incr<.ase tensions 
in other ppxts of the- vorld but ir--..'5cr con- 
frontations vo\\ld. be unlikely. C?rt vould 
strengthen defeiisive posture and r^ey*Bse 
military aid tc LV-N'; unlikely- to Initiate 
offensive air or surface actions. 

Ko sperfflc dlltf-.ry reaction fret: cosn-'nlsts- 
Seme Iticreased propas^nds against tJS action- 

Possible naval and air reaction b^ rr/JJ in 

rorthem vp.tcre. 
CPR or Ecviets sient provide additional ^.^1 


NV!? air and surface ettpck possible - 
USSR or C??. tigtit provide hVK vltn coast 
defence siissiles. 

No Isriedfate rer=.ction other than propa^andj 
Eo lyios resctloc. 


Po-rslble political rtactinrs. 

Souva'.na vculd probably net cbject if he could 
deny ths actiuns and avoid publicity. 

Fcssisle increased *.~'A force& and eotiviti-2S 
In Lfcs. 

Cr-bcd;a vcill pretest ej.'* cf rp-^r:-tion3 
zc C&t.>od.r-n s-^ll s.-d r-igl't seek to defend 
its territory. 

Ad'ersc pclltlcal rta::tIoc- 

Tv"!! vcul: a.-cus* t-.a Tvi-td 2ta-cS of £.tt*=7t*,r 
tc crLift Vcct ;u>^a-l of 3cverrj::ect of irr^. 

Art^r dtx 

■ y "' 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

TOP SECRET' " Sensitive 

Ten da,ys after this joint memo from the Chiefs ^ General 
Wheeler sent the Secretary a proposal of his own for the expansion of 
the air war under a new ROLLING THUNDER program, nuinber 58. 38/ Its 
most important proposal was the reduction of Hanoi -Haiphong restricted 
circles dovm to 3 and I.5 n.m. respectively. With other specific 
targets requested for authorization (of which the m.ost important was 
Gia Lam airfield), this new proposal would have opened up an addi- 
tional 15 valid targets for attack on the authority of the field com- 
mander- On the basis of an ISA recommendation, the reduction of the 
restricted zones around the two cities was rejected on November 9j "but 
some of the additional individual targets were added to the authorized 
list. Consistent with these little escalatory m^easures was McNamara's 
decision on November 6 to authorize the deployment to Southeast Asia of 
a squadron of the first six F-lllA aircrafl^ to enter the Air Eorce active 
inventory, hof Like so m.any other decisions v/ith respect to this ill- 
fated aircraft, this one would come to an unhappy end too. One of the 
specific objectives of the Chairman's proposal for constricting the pro- 
hibited areas had been to attempt the isolation of Haiphong on the ground, 
thereby effectively cutting off seaborne imports from their destinations 
in the rest of North Vietnam and to the war in the South. An independent 
CIA analysis of the air war at about this same time, however, had stated: 

Even a more intense interdiction campaign in the North 
would fail to reduce the flov? of supplies sufficiently to 
restrict military operations. Prospects are dim that an air 
interdiction campaign against LOC's leading out of Haiphong 
alone could cut off the flow of seaborne imports and isolate 
Haiphong. kl/ 

In late November the Chiefs sent the Secreta.ry still another 
and far more detailed memo describing their plans for the conduct of all 
aspects of the war for the ensuing four months. In it they spelled out 
requests for expanding the air war against 2k nevr tai^gets. They desired 
authorization once again to mine the harbors of Haiphong, Hon Gai, and 
Cam Pha noting that bad weather in the coming months would force curtail- 
ment of much normal strike activity in the Red River delta. The harbor 
mining was offered as the most effective m^eans of shutting off supplies 
to the North. The CIA analysis previously referred to had, hov/ever, also 
rejected such mining proposals as ujili^eely to succeed in their objective 
of cutting off imports to support the vrar, although they would raise the 
costs to the DRV. 

Political considerations aside, the combined interdic- 
tion of land and water routes, including the mining of the 
water approaches to the major ports and the bombing of ports 
and transshipment facilities, would be the most effective 

112 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

type of interdiction campaign. This program would increase 
the hardships imposed on North Vietnam tnd raise farther 
the costs of the support of the war in the South. It would ^ 
however^ not be able to cut off the flow of essential sup- 
plies and^ by itself, would not be the determ.ining factor 
in shaping Hanoi's outlook tov/ard the war. 42/ t 

In addition to mining the harbors , the Chiefs requested \ 

that the comprehensive prohibition of attacks in the Hanoi/Haiphong 

areas be removed with the expected in civilian casualties to I 

be accepted as m-ilitarily justified and necessary.. They suggested as an i 

alternative a 3 n.m.. "restricted" area for the ve3ry center of Hanoi and ! 

a sirailar zone of I.5 n.m. for Haiphong. They also requested the expansion 
of SEADRAGON naval activity north of 21.30° all the v/ay to the Chinese \ 

border^ and authorization of all the rem^aining targets on the JCS SOLLIWG- 
THUNDER list. ^3 / In. spite of all these requests for expansion of the 
war (as well as several others for expanding the ground war in South Viet- 
nam and operations in La^os 8.nd Cambodia), the Chiefs avoided the kind 
of vaunted claims for success from such new steps that had characterized 
past recommendations. This tim.e they cautiously noted, "...there are no 
new programs which can be undertaken under current policy guidelines 
which would result in a rapid or significantly more visible increase in 
the rate of progress in the near term." kk/ 

The Chiefs 24-target proposal was considered at the Tuesday 
lunch on December 5^ hut no action v;as taken. A m.emo from Warnke to 
McNamara gives a clue as to why, "I have been informed that Secretary 
Rusk will not be prepared to consider the individual merits of the 2k 
unauthorized targets proposed and discussed in the JCS Four Months Plan." k^f 
On December I6, McNamara and Rusk did reach agreement on ten new targets 
from the 2^ target list including seven within the 10-mile Planoi radius 
and two within the ^i--mile Plaiphong perimieter. k6/ Disapproved were five 
Haiphong port targets and the mining proposal. 

None of the increased war activity over North Vietna^m 
which these decisions authorized, however, would be able to prevent the 
enemy's massive offensive the following January- The fact that the 
President had acceded to the wishes of the militar;$^ and the political 
pressures from Congress on this vital issue at this point when all the 
evidence available to McNajnara suggested the continuing ineffectiveness 
of the bombing must have been an important if not detennining factor in 
the Secretary's decision in November to retire. For the moment, however, 
the escalation continued. 

As always, the President moved cautiously in allowing some 
military expansion of the air war in the fall of 1967- By the end of 
October 6 of the 7 MTG-capable airfields which Secretary McNamara had 


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113 -" 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

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taken a strong stand against in the Stennis hearings had been hit, 
and only 5 of the August list of 57 recommended targets (which had 
meanwhile grovm to 70 as new recoimnendaticns were made) remained 
unstruck. Thus, except for the port of Haiphong and a few others, 
•virtually all of the economic and military targets in NVN that could 
be considered even remotely significant had been hit. Except for 
simply keeping it up, almost everything bombing could do to pressure 
NVN had been done. 

In early December Defense spokesmen announced that the 
U.S. bombing in North and South Vietnam together had just topped the 
total of 1,5^^,^63 tons dropped by U.S. forces in the entire European 
Theater during World War II. Of the 1,630,500 tons dropped, some 
86^,000 tons were dropped on NVN, already more than the 635^000 tons 
dropped during the Korean War or the 5^3? 000 tons dropped in the Pacific 
Theater during World War II. U7 / 

k. The Decibel Level Goes Up 

The purely military problems of the war aside, the Presi- 
dent was also experiencing great difficulty in maintaining public sup- 
port for this conduct of the war in the fall of 1967* 

With the apparent failure of the San Antonio formula to 
start negotiations, the acrimony and shrillness of the public debate over 
the v/ar reached new levels. The "hawks" had had their day during the 
Stennis hearings and the slow squeeze escalation that follovjed the failure 
of the Paris contacts. Among the "doves" the new escalation was greeted 
by nev; and more forceful outcries from the critics of the v/ar. On October 
12, the very day that Rusk was castigating the North Vietnamese in his 
press conference for their stubbornness, thirty dovish Congressmen sent 
the President an open letter complaining about the inconsistency of the 
recent bombing targets a.nd Secretary McNamara's testimony during the 
Stennis hearings: 

The bombing of targets close to the Chinese border, and 
of the port cities of Cam Pha and Haiphong conflicts with 
the carefully reasoned and factual analysis presented prior 
to those steps by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara on 
August 25, 1967- We refer particularly to the Secretary's 
contention that *our resort to a less selective campaign 
of air atiack against the North would irvolve risks which 
at present I regard as too high to accept for this dubious 
prospect of successfLil risks.* ^8 / 

On the basis of McNamara *s recoimriendatlons, the Congressmen urged the 
President to stop the bombing and start negotiations. 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

While this public identification of the inconsistency of 
the positions taken "by various members of the Administration was 
embarrassing; a more serious problem v/as the massive anti-war demonstra- 
tion organized in Washington on October 21. The leaders of the "New 
Left" assem.bled some 50,000 anti-war protestors in the Capitol on this 
October Saturday and staged a massive march on the Pentagon. While the 
"politics of confrontation" may be distasteful to the majority of 
Americans, the sight of thousands of peaceful demonstrators being con- 
fronted by troops in battle gear canjiot have been reassuring to the 
country as a whole nor to the President in particular. And as if to 
add insult to injury, an impudent and dovish Senator McCarthy announced 
in November that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination 
for President. He stated his intention of running in all the primaries 
and of taking the Vietnam war to the American people in a direct challenge 
to an incumbent President and the leader of his own party. 

To counter these assaults on his war policy from the left, 
the President dram.atically called home Ambassador Bunker and General 
Westmoreland (the latter to discuss troop levels and requests as well) 
in November and sent them out to publicly defend the conduct of the v/ar 
8.nd the progress that had been achieved. Bimker spoke to the Overseas 
Press Club in New York on November 1? and stressed the progress that the 
South Vietnamese were m.aking in their efforts to achieve dem-ocratic self- 
government and to assume a larger burden of the war. General Westmoreland 
addressed the National Press Club in VJashington on November 21 and out- 
lined his own four-phase plan for the defeat of the Viet Cong and their 
North Vietnamese sponsors. He too dwelled on the progress achieved to 
date and the increasing effectiveness of the South Vietnam.ese forces. 
Neither discussed the air war in the North in any serious way, hov/ever, and 
that was the issue that was clearly troubling the American public the most. 

C. New Studies 


In the early winter of I967-68 several ne\j studies of the 
bombing were completed within the Government and by contract researchers 
all of v/hich had some bearing on the deliberations of February and March 
1968 when the next m-ajor reassessment took place. The first of these 
was entitled SEACABIN, short for "Study of the Political-Military Implica- 
tions in Southeast Asia of the Cessation of Aerial Bombardment and the 
Initiation of Negotiations." It was a study done by the Joint Staff and 
ISA to specifically address the q.uestion of what could be expected from 

cessation of the bombing and the beginning of negotiations, a possibility 
that seemed imminent at the time of the President's San Antonio speech 
'n September. As it turned out, the timie was not ripe. The study, hov;-- 
v-^r was an important effort by the Defense Department to anticipate 
such a contingency. 

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Summarizing its findings and conclusions , the SEACABIN 
report began with a general assessment of the role of the bombing 
in the war: _ . 

Role of Bombardm^ent > There are major difficulties 
and uncertainties in a precise assessment of the bombing 
program on ]MVN» These include inadeq.uate data on logistic 
flow patterns, limited information on imports into NVN, 
season effects of weather , and the limitations of recon- 
naissance. But it is clear that the air and naval campaigns 
against NVN are making it difficult and costly for the 
DRV to continue effective support of the VC. 0\ir opera- 
- tions have inflicted heavy damage on equipment and facilities , 
inhibited resupply, compounded distribution problems, and 
limited the DRV*s capability to undertake sustained large- 
scale military operations in SVN. The economic situation 
in NVN is becoming increasingly difficult for the enemy. 
Hov/ever, as a result of extensive diversion of manpower and 
receipt of large-scale military and economic assistance from 
communist countries, the DRV has retained the capability 
to support military operations in SVN at current levels. A 
cessation of the bombing program, would make it possible for 
the DRV to regenerate its military and economic posture and 
substantially increase the flow of personnel and supplies 
from' NVN to SVN. ^9/ 

Im-olications of a. bombing halt were dealt with in terms of advantages 
to^the DRV and risks to the U.S. In the former category, the SEACABIN 
Study Group concluded as follows : 


6. For DRV: Potential Gains 

a- Potential DRV Responses . Following a cessa- 
tion of bombardment in return for its acceptance of the 
President's offer, the DRV could choose among one of 
three potential alternative courses of action: (l) to 
pursue an immediate-pay-off, short-term strategy of advan- 
tage; (2) to enter discussions with no intention of set- 
tling, while pursuing either its present strategy, or a 
revised political/military strategy of gaining a long-term 
advantage in SVN; and (3) to negotiate m^eaningfully within 
the United States. Under all courses, the immediate action 
of the DRV would be to reconstitute its LOG, stockpile 
near its borders, and begin general reapirs of its war 

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b. DRV Reaction Time and US Detection of 

(1) Under conditions of bombing, WN 
units and infiltration groups have taken from only a few 
days up to eight months to infiltrate to a CTZ. US 
detection and identification may take up to six months , 
or longer, and confirmation even longer. Following 
cessation, infiltration rates v/culd be brought closer 

to minimum time. 

(2) Given its present capability to 
expand its training base by almost 100'^/,, the DRV could 
achieve a significant incres-se in present pipeline level 
of infiltration in about 3 months following decision to 
expand its training base. 

(3) The DRV could regenerate major 
segments of its economic infrastructure in 6 months, 
its LOC in NVN in 3O-6O days, its logistic system in 

12 months- Port congestion would be alleviated. Materiel 
transit time would be significantly reduced.' 

c. Capabi lities Over Time 
10-1^ days : 


— reinforce IWA forces at DMZ with 
up to 5 division eq.uivalents. Allied/enemy battalion 
ratios in I CTZ could shift from l-7/l to O.9/1 artillery bombardment from 
beyond DMZ, and reinforce AAA and SAM units. 

3Q-6Q_ days; 

— Restore to operational use major 
ports and LOG within NVN, to include RR^ highway, and 
combination RR/highway bridges; airfields; and over half 
of the vehicle repair facilities. 

--Accomplish a restructuring (depots, 
shelters, alternate routes) of the logistic system within 
NVN to increase the flexibility of the LOC in Laos. 

2-6_mon th_s; 

--Achieve undetected a new position of 
military advantage in SVN^ through increased infiltration, 
with at least two divisions in place in SVN, and three 
others in transit. 


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— Transfer to military service , f 

from NVN JiOC maintenance and construction, managerial 
and supervisory personnel to alleviate the apparent 
shortage of leaders. 

d. DRV Constraints . These considerations 
probably would continue to constrain DRV^s choices among 
options at cessation: 

(1) Strategy of protracted war- The 
DRV would probably continue to put at risk in SVN only 
those minimum forces it considers necessary to prosecute 
its strategy of protracted war. 

(2) Fear of US invasion. 

(3) Desire to preserve appearance of 
VC primacy in SVW. 

(h) Limitations on ability to trans- 
fer trained personnel and leadership to SVN because of 
possibility of US resumption of attacks on NVN. 

(5) DRV may be miscalculating the 
progress of the war in SVN. ^O / 

Obviously these potential advantages to the DRV involved reciprocal risk 
for the U.S. in cujrtailing the bombing. As the SEA.CABIN group saw them 

they were the following: 

7. For US: Potential Risk 

a. To Operations in SVN. The most far- 
reaching risk is an increase in enemy combat strength that 
may well go undetected by the US/rVN/f,'MA.F. Additionally, 
the US position could be disa.dvantaged by: 

(1) Movements of heavy artillery and AAA. 

(2) Loss of US supporting fire at DMZ. 


(3) Increased threat from DMZ and border 

{k) Impairraent of pacification program. 
(5) Lowering of m.orale of US/rVn/fI#!AF. 

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(6) Resulting pressujres to cease bombing ■ 
in Laos. 

(7) Vulnerability of barrier system, 

b. Possible Offset ; Present bombardment 
forces could be reallocated to SVN and- Laos missions. 

c. Critical Times to Offset Risks. US should 

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enter cessation resolved to limit the time for DRV response 
generally as follows : 

— Discussions should begin within 3O-6O 
days of cessation. 

— Discussions should be productive within 
' four months of cessation; i.e.;, actions are being taken or 

j are agreed to be taken to reduce the threats posed by the 

. ' ]WN to the achievement of US/gVN military objectives in SVN. 51/ 

The international reaction to a bombing halt was expected 
to be entirely positive^ hence not a problem for analysis. The study 
postulated that the DRV would seek to prolong the bombing halt but try 
to maintain a level of military activity below the provocative that 
would maintain its strengths in the war v^hile trying to erode the U.S. 
position through protracted negotie.tions. In approaching a bombing halt, 
the U.S. could escalate before it, de-escalate before it, or maintain the 
current intensity of combat. The latter course was recommended as the 
best method of demonstrating continued U.S. resolution in anticipation 
of a dramatic act of restraint. With respect to the negotiations them- 
selves, the SEACABIN Group cautioned against the U.S. being trapped in 
the kind of protracted negotiations we experienced in Korea while the 
enemy took military advantage of the bombing suspension. To guard against 
this, unilateral verification wa.s essential through continued aerial 
surveillance. To round out their recommendations, the SEACABIN Group 
looked at the reasons and methods of resuming bombing if required. 


18. Resumption - VJhen . The conditions under which 
the bomba:.'dment of iWN should be resume! cannot be deter- 
mined in advance with assu-rance. However, the US/rVN should 

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II probably resiime bombardment whenever one or more of the 

follov/ing situations are perceived: 

a. The security of US/ry^/fVJMA'F in 
northern I CTZ is threatened by enemy reinforcements. 

b. No discussions are in prospect 30"60 
days after cessation. 

c. Discussions or negotiations are not pro- 
ductive of militarily significant DRV/nLF concessions 
v/ithin four months. 


d. The DRV has infiltrated significant 
nev7 forces into QVl^ -- the raising of the NVA force level 
in SW by a division equivalent or m.ore (over 10^) is 
judged to be sufficient provocation. 

e. An enemy attack of battalion size or 
larger is initiated vrhile a cease-fire is in effect. 

■^^' Resumption - How . Actual resumption of 
bombardment of NVN should be preceded by a program of 
actions v/hich: 

a. Demonstrate (to those who are able to make 
an objective judginent) that the DRV is taking advantage of 
the cessation in a v/ay which is exposing US/rVN/fI-JMAF and 
the people of SVN to substantially increased dangers. 

b. To the maximum practicable extent, 
demonstrate or encourage the conclusion that the DRV 
is 5 in fact 5 the aggressor in- SVN. 

c. Aftier the maximum political advantage 
has been derived from the above actions and in the 
absence of an acceptable response from NVN, resume aerial 
and naval bombardment of l^WN without restrictions on any 
militarily significant targets. Attacks should be 
planned to achieve maxim-um impact and with due regard 
to uhe advantages of surprise. 52/ 

The ISA/joint Staff analysis closed with an appraisal of 
the overall value of a bombing halt in the context of negotiations with 
the DRV. Summing up, they said/ 

21. On balance 5 that DRV response to the US offer 

^^^j;^]^ carries' with it the greatest risk to the United 


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States militarily is an ambiguous response in which the 
DRV would appear to engage in productive talks in order 
to gain time to concurrently regenerate support facilities 
in NVTJ and gradually build up personnel strength and support 
bases in Laos, Cambodia and BVN^ without overt and visible 
provocation. Once discussions were initiated and extended 
for 2-6 m-onths, the DRV would expect world pressure to exer- 
cise a heavy restraint on resumption of bombardment -- in fact, 
to prevent it in the absence of a demonstrable provocation 
of considera-ble conseq.uence. 

22. US intelligence evaluations of the impact of 
bombardment on WTE are sufficiently uncertain as to cast 
doubt on any judgment that aerial and naval bombardment 
is or is not establishing som.e upper limit on the DRV's 
ability to support the war in SVTT. The effect on wm itself 
is eq.ually uncertain. If IWN is being seriously hurt by 
bom^bardment, the price for cessation should be high. How- 
ever, if IWM can continue indefinitely to accommodate to 
bombardment, negotiation leverage from cessation -- or a 
credible threat of resumption — is likely to be substantially 
less. A penalty to the United States of underevaluating the 
impact of bom.bardment of MN would be an unnecessarily vzeak 
negotiating stance. ^3 / 

In their final paragraphs, the Study Group turned to the question of DRV 
good faith. The President's statement that bombing could halt and 
negotiations begin if we had assurances that the DRV would "not take 
advantage" of our restraint obliged us to look at vjhich we would regard 
as a violation of that principle. 

27. It has not been possible to detect and measure 
increased infiltration into SVTT until ^-6 months have 
elapsed. If discussions following a cessation of bombard- 
ment are prctraci^ed, the enemy could take advantage of the 
opportunity for increased infiltration with confidence that 
detection would be so slow and uncertain that insufficient 
provocation could be demonstrated to justify term.ination of 
talks or resumption of bombardment. The following are mini- 
mum acceptable actions which operationally define "not take 

a. Stop artillery fire from and over the DMZ 
' into SVN" prior to or imjnediately wpon cessation. 

b. Agree that for the DRV to increase over the 
current level the flow of personnel and materiel south of 

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19*^ N latitude v/ould be to take advantage of cessation 
and that it will refrain from doing so. 

c. Accept "open skies"over ]WTT upon cessation. 

d. Withdraw from the DMZ v/ithin a specified time^ 
say two weeks ^ after cessation. 

28. Cessation of bombing of WN for any protracted 
period while continuing the war in SVN would be difficult 
to reconcile vzith any increase in US casualties. 

29. If the DRV/NLF.act in good faith, formal negoti- 
ations toward a cessation of hostilities should begin within 
two months after a cessation of bombardment. Preliminary 
discussions lasting any longer than two months will require 
a resumption of bombardment or the 3.ppli cation of other 
pressures as appropriate, ^kj 

As a document, the SEACABIN study was important because 
it represented a first major effort to pull together a positive DOD 
position on the question of a halt. The analysis and recom- 
— mendations v/ere compromises to be sure, but they were formulations that 

gave the Administration room for maneuver in approaching the problem of 
negotiations. Probably most importantly they established a basis of 
cooperation and collaboration between the Joint Staff and ISA on this 
issue that would be useful during the crisis of the following March when 
a new direction was being sought for the whole U.S. effort in Vietnam. 

In mid-December, the Chiefs themselves sent the Secretary 
a memo noting that the SMCABIN study was the product of staff work and 
did not necessarily reflect the views of the JCS. The Chiefs stressed 
again their belief in the effectiveness of the bombing in punishing 
North Vietnamese aggression, and recorded their opposition to a halt in 
the bombing as a means of starting negotiations. North Vietnamese 
performance on the battlefield and diplom.atically clearly indicated 
their unwillingness to enter negotiations except as a means of handi- 
capping American pov/er. Such a bombing halt would also endanger the 
lives of UaS. troops. Thus, while the study had been a useful exercise, 
the Secretary was advised against any endorsement of a cessation of 

* .bombing. 55/ . 

2. The JASON Study 


While DOD v^as internally examining bombing suspension 
( scenarios, IDA^s JASON division had called together many of the people 

ho had participated in the I966 Summer Study for another look at the 
ffectiveness of the bombing and at various alternatives that might get 

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better results. Their report was submitted in mid-December 196? s^nd 
was probably the most categorical rejection of bombing as a tool of our 
policy in Asia to be made before or since by an official or 
semi-official group. Tlie study was done for McNamara and closely held 
after completion. It was completed after his decision to leave the 
Pentagon^ but it was a powerful confirmation of the positions on the 
bombing that he had taken in the internal councils of the government 
over the preceding year. 

The study evaluated the bombing in term.s of its achievement 
of the objectives that Secretary McNamara had defined for it: 

Secretary McNamara on August 25, I967 restated the 
objectives of the bombing campaign in North Vietnam. These 
objectives are: 

1. To reduce the flov; and/or to increase the cost of 
the continued infiltration of men and supplies from North 
to South Vietnam. 

'2. To raise the morale of the South Vietnamese people 
who 5 at the time the bombing started, were under severe 
military pressure. 

^" 3- To make clear to the North Vietnamese political 

leadership that so long as they continued their aggression 
against the South , they would have to pay a price in the 
North. 56/ 

Taking up the first of these stated objectives, the JASON 
study reached an em-phatically negative conclusion about the results from 

As of October 196?? the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam 
has h ad no measurable effect on Hanoi's ability to mount 
an d^^pport military operations in the South . North Vietnam 
supP^^ts operations in the South mainly by functioning as 
a logistic funnel and providing a source of manpower, from 

I an economy in which manpower has been widely under-utilized. 

Most of the essential military supplies that the VC/l^JVA forces 
in the South require from external sources are provided 

I . w the USSR, Eastern Europe, and Communist China. Further- 

more the voliime of such supplies is so lovz that only a 
smaJl fraction of the ca^pacity of North Vietnam's flexible 
transportation netvzork is required to m.aintain that flow. 

1 1 2^ the face of Rolling Thunder strikes on NVN, the 

bombing of infiltration routes in Laos, the U.S. naval 
onerations along the Vietnamese coast, and the tactical 


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bombing of South Vietnani^ North Vietnam infiltrated over 
86 5 000 men in I966. At the s.arae tirae, it has also built 
up the strength of its armed forces at homie^ and acquired 
sufficient confidence in its supply and logistic organization 
to equip VC/WA forces in South Vietnam with -a modern family 
of imported 7 •62mm weapons which require externally supplied 
ammunition. Moreover, NVN has the potential to continue 
building the size of its armed forces , to increase the 
year3-y total of infiltration of individual soldiers and 
.combat units, and to equip and supply even larger forces 
in South Vietnam for substantially higher rates of com- 
bat than those which currently prevail. 

Since the beginning of the Rolling Thunder air strikes 
on NVN5 the flow of mien and m^ateriel from WN to SVTT has 
great3.y increased, and present evidence provides no basis 
for concluding that the damage inflicted on North Vietnam 
by the bombing program has had any significant effect on 
this flovr. In short, the flow of men and rtiateriel from 
North Vietnam to the South appears to reflect Hanoi *s 
intentions rather than capabilitie s even in the face of 
the bombing. 

NVN's ability to increase the rate of infiltration of 
men and materiel into SVN is not currently limited by its 
supply of military manpower, by its LOG ca/pabilities, by the 
availability of transport carriers, or by its access to 
materiels and supplies. The VC/nVA effectively limited 
by constraints of the situation in the South -- including the 
capacity of the VC infrastructure and distribution system to 
support additional materiel and troops -- but even given these 
constraints could support a larger force in the South. The 
inference which we have dravm from these findings is that 
NVN determines and achieves the approximate force levels that 
they believe are needed to sustain a war of attrition for an 
ext.ended period of time. 

Despite hea'^/y attacks on NVN's logistic system, m.anu- 
facturing capabilities, and supply stores, its ability to 
sustain the war in the South has increased rather than 
decreased during the Rolling Thunder stiikes. It has 
becom.e increasingly less vulnerable to aerial interdiction 
aimed at reducing the flow of m.en and materiel from the 
North to the South because it hasm^.de its transportation 
svstem m.ore redundant, reduced the size and increased the 
nuinber of depots and eliminated choke points. 

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The bombing of North Vietnam has inflicted heavy cost^ 
not so much to North Vietnam's militai^y capability or its 
infiltration system a.s to the North Vietnam.ese economy as 
a whole. Measurable physical damage now exceeds $370 million 
and the regime has had to divert 3*^0,000 to 600^000 people 
(many on a pa,rt-time basis) from agricultural and other 
tasks to counter the bombing and cope vzith its effects. 
The former cost has been more than met by aid from other 
ComJiiunist countries. The latter cost may not be real, 
since the extra m^anpower needs have largely been met from 
v/hat V7as a considerable amount of slack in NVN's under- 
employed agricultural labor force. Manpower resources 
are apparently still adequate to operate the agricultural 
economy at a tolerable level and to continue simultaneously 
to support the war in SW and maintain forces for the 
defense of the North at current or increased levels. 

Virtually all of the military and economdc targets in 
North Vietnam that can be considered even rem.otely signifi- 
cant have been struck, except for a few targets in Hanoi 
and Haiphong. Almost all modern industrial output has been 
halted and the regime has gone over to decentralized, dis- 
persed, and/or protected miodes of producing and handling 
essential goods, protecting the people, and supporting the 
war in the South. NVN has shov/n that it can find alterna- 
tives to conventional bridges and they continue to operate 
trains in the face of air strikes. 

NVN has transmitted many of the material costs imposed 
by the back to its allies. Since the bombing began, 
NVN*s allies have provided almost $600 million in economic 
aid and another $1 billion in military aid -- more than 
four times what NVM has lost in bombing dam.age. If economic 
criteria were the only consideration, NVN V70uld show a sub- 
stantial net gain from the bombing, primarily in military 
equipment . 

Because of this aid, and the effectiveness of its counter- 
measures, NWl's economy continues to function. WN's adjust- 
ments to the physical damage, disruption, and other difficuJL- 
ties brought on by the bombing have been sufficiently effective 
to maintain living standards, meet tranoportation require- 
ments, and improve its military capabilities. NTN is nov/ a 
stronger military power than before the bombing and its 
remaining economy is more able to v/ithstand bombing. The 
USSR cou-ld furnish ]}IVN with much more sophisticated weapon 
-system.s; these could fujrther increase the military strength 
of IMVN and lead to larger U.S. losses, 57/ 


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These conclusions were supported copiously in a separate 
volume of the study devoted specifically to tuch analysis. The second 
objective of the bombing^ to raise South Vietnamese morale, had been 
substantially achieved. There had been an appreciable improvement in 
South Vietnamese morale immediately after the bombing began and sub- 
seq.uent buoyancy always accompanied major nev7 escalations of the air 
v/ar- But the effect was alv;ays transient , fading as a particular pat- 
tern of attack became a part of the routine of the war. There was no 
indication that bombing could ever constitute a permanent support for 
South Vietnamese morale if the situation in the South itself was adverse. 

The third function of the bombing, as described by McNamara, 
was psychological -- to v/in the test of wills with Hanoi by showing U.S. 
determination and intimidating DRV leaders about the future. The failure 
of the bombing in this area, according to the JASON study, had been as 
signal as in pui'ely military terms. 

The bombing campaign against NVN" has not discernably 
weakened the determination of the North Vietnamese leaders 
to continue to direct and support the insu rgency in the 
. South . Shortages of food and clothing, travel restrictions, 
separations of families, lack of adequate medica.l and educa- 
tional facilities, and heavy work loads have tended to 
affect adversely civilian m-orale. However, there are few 
if any reliable reports on a breakdown of the commitment of 
the people to support the war. Unlike the situation in the 
South, there are no reports of marked increases of absenteeism, 
draft dodging, market operations or prostitution. 
There is no evidence that possible war weariness among the 

I people has shaken the leadership's belief that they can 

continue to endure the bombing and outla^st the U.S. and 

J . SVN in a protracted war of attrition. 

Long term plans for the economic development have not 
been abandoned but only set aside for the duration of the 
war. The regime continues to send thousands of young men 
and women abroad for higher education and technical training; 
we consider this evidence of the regime's confidence of the 
eventual outcome of the war. 

The expectation that bombing would erode the deter- 
mination of Hanoi and its people clearly overestimated the 
persuasive and disruptive effects of the bombing and, corres- 
pondingly, underestimated the tenacity and recuperative 
capabilities of the North Vietnamese. That the bombing 
has not achieved anticipated goals reflects a general failure 
' ^ to appreciate the fact, well-documented in the historical 



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and social scientific literature^ that a direct^ frontal 
attack on a society tends to strengthen the social fabric 
of the nation 5 to increase popular support of the existing 
government 5 to improve the determination of both the 
leadership and the populace to fight back^, to induce a 
variety of protective measures that reduce the society's 
vulnerability to future attack and to develop an increased 
capacity for q.uick repairs and restoration of essential 
functions. The great variety of physical and social 
count ermeasures that North Vietnam has taken in response 
to the bombing is now well documented but the potential 
effectiveness of these counterrneasures has not been ade- 
quately considered in previous planning or -assessment 

The JASON study took a detailed look at alternative means 
of applying our air pov:er in -an effort to determine if some other combina- 
tion of targets and tactics would achieve better results. Nine different 
strategies were examined including mining the ports, attacking the dikes 
and various combinations of attack emphasis on the LOG systems. This was 
the emphatic conclusion: " Vie are unable to devi se a bombing ca mpaign in 
the North to redu ce the flo w of infiltrating personnel into SV_N." ^9/ 
AlT'T^hat couJd really be said was that some more optimum em^ployment of 
U.S. air resources could be devised in terms of target damage and LOG 
disruption. None could reduce the flow even close to the essential mini- 
mum for sustaining the v/ar in the South. 

After having requested that some portions of the study be 
reworked to eliminate errors of logic, Mr. Warnke forwarded the final 
version to Secretary McNamara on January 3? 1968 with the information 
copies to Secretary Rusk, the Joint Chiefs and CINCPAC, In his memo he 
noted the siinilarity of the conclusions on bombing effectiveness to those 
reached not long before in the study by the CIA (see above). Specifically, 
Mr. Warnke noted that, "Together with SEA CABIN, the study supports the 
proposition that a bombing pause -- even fcr a significant period of time -- 
V70uld not add appreciably to the strength of our adversary in South Vietnam." 
Thus V7as laid the anal^/tical groundwork for the President's decision to 
partially curtail the bombing in March. 6l/ 

3 • Systems Analysis Study on Economic Effects 

An unrelated but complementary study of the economic effects 
of the bombing on North Vietnajn v/as completed by Systems Analysis right 
after the New Year and sent' to the Secretary. It too came down hard on 
the unproductiveness of the air war, even to the point of suggesting that 
it mip;ht be counter-productive in pure economic terms. Enthoven's cover 
* memo to McNarriara stated, 

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/■ N 

..•the bombing has not been very successful in 
imposing economic losses on the North. Losses in domestic 
production have been more than replaced by im.ports and the 
availability of manpower^ particularly because of the 
natural growth in the labor force , has been adeq.uate to 
meet wartim^e needs. It is likely that North Vietnam 
will continue to be able to m.eet extra m.anpower and- 
economic req,uirements caused by the bombing short of 
attacks on population centers or the cities. 62/ 

The paper itself examined two aspects of the problem: 
the impact of the bom-bing on GNP and on labor supply/utilization. The 
most telling part of the analysis was the demonstration that imports 
had more than offset the cost of the war to the North in sim-ple GNP 
terms as the following passage shows: 

II. Effects on North Vietnam^ s Gross National Pr oduct 

Prior to 1965? the growth rate of the North Viet- 

naraese economy averaged 6^ per year. It is estimated that 
this rate continued (and even increased slightly) during 
1965 and 19665 the first two years of the bombing (Table l). 
In 1967? however 5 domestically-produced GNP declined 
sharply to only $1,688 million -- a level roughly compar- 
able to the prev/ar years of I963 and 196^. The cumulative 
loss in GNP caused by the bombing in the last three years 
is estim.ated to be $29^ million (Table 2), 

To offset these losses. North Vietnam has had an 
increased flow of foreign economic aid- Prior to the 
bombing^ economic aid to North Vietnam averaged $95 million 
annually. Since the bombing began, the flow of economic 
aid has increased to $3^0 million per year (Table l). The 
cumulative increase in economic aid in the 1965-I967 period 
over the 1953"196^ average has been an estimated $^9^ million. 

Thus 5 over the entire period of the bombing, the 
value of economic resources gained through foreign aid has 
been greater than that lost because of the bombing (Table 3)- 
The cuiaulative foreign aid increase has been ^k^O million; 
losses ha\'e totaled $29^1 million. 

In addition to the loss of crurrent production. 
North Vietnam has lost an estimated $164 million in capital 
assets destroyed by the bombing. These capital assets 
include much of North Vietnam's industrial base - its 
manufacturing plants, power plants , and bridges. 

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It is not certain that Russia and China will 
replace North Vietnam's destroyed capital assets through 
aid programs 3 thus absorbing part of the bombing cost 
themselves. However, they could do so in a short period 
of time at relatively small cost; if economic aid remained 
■ at its wartime yearly rate of $3^0 million and half were 
used to replace capital stock, North VietnamVs losses 
could be replaced in a year. If the capital stock is 
replaced, the economic cost to North Vietnam of the 
bombing will be the cumulative loss of output from the 
time the bom^bing began until the capital stock is fully 
replaced. Even this probably overstates the cost, hov?- 
ever. Even if the pre-bombing capital stock were only ■■ : 
replaced, it would be more modern and productive than it 
otherwise would have been. 

While the aggregate supply of goods in North 
Vietnam- ha.s remained constant, stand3.rds of living m.ay 
have declined. The composition of North Vietnam's total 
supply has shifted away from final consumer goods toward 
interriiediate products related to the war effort, i.e., 
construction and transportation. 

Food supplies, vital to the health and effi- 
ciency of North Vietna^m^have been maintained with only 
a slight decline. As shown in Table k^ the estimated 
North Vietnamese daily intake of calories has fallen 
from 1,910 in I963 to 1,880 in I967. Even considering 
that imported wheat and potatoes are not traditional 
- table fare in North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese are 
not badly off by past North Vietnamese standards or 
the standards of other Asian countries. 

The .output of industrial and handicraft output 
declined 35fa in I967 (Table l) . Economic aid has 
probably not replaced all of this decline. With lower 
war priority, the supply of non-food consumer goods 
such as textiles and durables has probably declined more 
than the food supply. 

^ Despite lower standards of living, the ability 

of North Vietnamese government to sustaj'n its population 
at a level high enough to prevent mass dissatisfaction is 
evident.. 63/ 

The analysis of the manpower q.uestion in the Systems 
■ Arialysis paper revealed that there vras as yet no real squeeze for 
the North Vietnamese becaaise of population growth. In a word, the 

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bombing v/as unable to beat the birth re^te. This is how Systems* 
Analysis assessed the problem: 

III. Effects on Total North Vietnamese Manpov/er 

In addition to the economic effect s^ the air 
v/ar has drawn North Vietnamese labor into bomb damage 
repair, re^Dlacement of combat casualties, construction, 
transportation, and air defense. Over the last three 
years, these needs have absorbed almost 750^000 able- 
bodied North Vietnamese (Table 5)* 

But, again there are offsetting factors. First, 
over 90^ of the increase in manpov7er has been provided 
by population growth (Table 5)* Since the start of the 
bombing, 720,000 able-bodied people have been added to the 
North Vietnamese labor force. 

Second, the bombing has increased not only the 
demand for labor but also the supply. The destruction of 
much of North Vietnam's modern industry has released an 
estimated 33,000 v/orkers from their jobs. Similarly, the 
evacuation of the cities has made an estimated ^8,000 
women available for work on roads and bridges in the 
countryside. Both of these groups of people were avail- 
able for v7ork on v/ar-related activity with little or no 
extra sacrifice of production; if they weren't repairing 
bomb damage, they wouldn't be doing anything productive. 

Third, North Vietnam has been supplied with man- 
power as a form of foreign aid. An estim.ated i-i-0,000 Chinese 
are thought to be employed in maintaining North Vietnam's 
road and rail netv/ork. 

Finally, additional workers could be obtained 
in North Vietnam from low productivity employment. In 
less developed countries, agricu-lture typically employs 
more people than are really needed to v^ork the land, even 
with relatively primitive production methods. Also, further 
mobilisation may be possible through greater use of women 
in the labor force. The available statistics are not precise 
enough to identify the magnitude of this potential labor 
pool, but the estimates given in Table 6 show that even after 
two years of war the total North Vietnamese labor force is 
only ^h'-fo of its population - scarcely higher than it was in 


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In s'uin, the total' incremental need for war-related man- 
povjer of roughly 750^000 people a^ppears to have been off- 
set (Table 5) v/ith no particular strain on the population. 
Futui^e manpower needs may outstrip North Vietnamese popula- 
tion growth^ but the North Vietnamese governraent can import 
more manpower (though there miay be limits to hov; miany Chines 
they want to bring into the country) ^ use wom.en and/or 
underemployed workers, and draw v/orkers from productive 
employment, replacing their output with imports. Given these 
options, it appears that the North Vietnamese government is 
not likely to be hampered by aggregate manpower shortages. 6k 

D. The Year Closes on a Note of Optimism 

The negative analyses of the air v/ar, however, did not reflect 
the official view of the Administration, and certainly not the view of 
the military at any level in the command structure at year's end. The 
latter had, for instance, again vigorously opposed any holiday truce 
arrangeraents, and especially the suspension of the air war against North 
Vietnam's logistical system. 6^/ On this they had been dxily overruled, 
'' the holiday pauses having become the standard SOP to domestic and inter- 

national war protesters. The I967 pauses produced, as expected, no major 
breakthrough towards peace betv;een the belligerents through any of their 
illusive diplomatic points of contact. 

I Averell had stopped in Bucharest in" late November to 

test whether the Romanians had any new inform^ation from ?Ianoi. Despite 
their intensive effort and even stronger desire to bring the two sides 
together (primarily through a bombing halt), the Romanians apparently 
could only reformulate the previously held positions of the Hanoi leader- 
ship without any substantive change. Harriman, therefore, patiently 
explained again the full meaning and intent of the President's San Antonio 
offer and urged its communication to Hanoi. 

VJliat was absent of coiu^se for both sides was any fundamental 
reassessm.ent that could move either or both to modify their positions 
on negotiations. The DRV was at the tim-e in the m.idst of the massive 
preparations for the Tet offensive in Januaiy while the U.S. remained 
bouyed by the fa^vorable reports from the field on seeming military progress 
in the last months of I967. The missing ingredient for peace moves at thao 
time was motivation on both sides. Each had reason to wait. 'I'Jhen, just 
'before Christmas. Pope Paul called on the U.S. to halt the and 
the DRV to dem.onstrate restraint as a step towards peace he received a 
•nersonal visit from President Johnson the follov/ing day (on return from a 
p-^esidential trip to Australia). The President courteously but firmly 
■ -faired the U.S. policy to the Pope, "mutual restraint" was necessary 
before peace talks could begin- 

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Contributing to the firmness of the U.S. position vzere the 
optimistic reports from the field on military progress in the v/ar. 
Both statistically and qualitatively, improvement was noted throughout 
the last quarter of the year and a mood of cautious hope pervaded the 
dispatches. Typical of these was Admiral Sharp's year end wrap-up 
cable. Having primary comjnand responsibility for the air war, CINCPAC 

i I . devoted a major portion of his message to the ROLLING THUNDER program 

in 1967, presenting as he did not only his view of accomplishments in 

1 . the calendar year but also a rebuttal to critics of the concept and 

conduct of the air war. 

Admiral Sharp outlined three objectives which the air campaign 
was seeking to achieve: disruption of the flow of external assistance 
into North Vietnam, curtailment of the flow of supplies from North Vietnam 
into Laos and South Vietnam, and destruction "in depth" of North Vietnamese 
resources that contributed to the support of the war. 66/ Acknon'/ledging 
that the flow of fraternal communist a-id into the North had grown every 
year of the war, CINCPAC noted the stepped up effort in I967 to neutralize 
this assistance by logistically isolating its primary port of entry — 
Haiphong. The net results, he felt, had been encouraging: 

The overall effect, of our effort to reduce external 
1 , assistance has resulted not only in destruction and damage 

to the transportation systems and goods being transported 
thereon but has created additional m.anagement, distribution 
and manpower problems. In addition, the attacks have 
created a bottleneck at Haiphong where inability effectively 
to move goods inland from the port has resulted in congestion 
on the docks and a slowdovzn in offloading ships as they 
arrive. By October, road and rail interdictions had reduced 
the transportation clearance capacity at Haiphong to about 
2700 short tons per day. An average of 4U00 short tons 
per day ha.d arrived in Haiphong during the year. 67 / 

The assault against the continuing traffic of men and materiel 
through North Vietnam toward Laos a>nd South Vietnain, hov/ever, had pro- 
duced only marginal results. Success here was measured in the totals 
of destroyed transport, not the constriction of the flow of personnel 
and goods. 

(Although men and material needed for the level of 
combat nov? prevailing in South Vietnara continue to flow ' 
despite our attacks on LOCs, v;e have m-ade it very costly 
i to the enemy in terms of m.aterial, manpower, managem.ent, 

and distribution. From 1 January through I5 December 
1967 122,960 attack sorties were flown in Rolling Thunder 

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route packages I through V and in Laos^ SKA. Dragon offen- 
sive operations involved 1;)38^ ship-days on station and 
contributed materia3.1y in reducing enemy seaborne infil- 
tration in southern DTTO and in the vicinity of the DMZ. 
Attacks against the WN transport systera during the past 
12 months resulted in destruction of carriers cargo 
carried^ and personnel casualties. Air attacks throughout 
North Vietnam and Laos destroyed or camaged 5^261 motor 
vehicles J 2,^75 railroad rolling stock, and 11,^25 water- 
craft from 1 January through 20 December 196?- SEA DRAGON 
accounted for another 1,473 WBLC destroyed or damaged from 
1 January - 3^ November. There vrere destroyed rail-lines, 
bridges, ferries, railroad yards and shops, storage areas, ■ 
and truck parks. Some 3^685 land targets were struck by 
Sea Dragon forces, including the destruction or damage of 
303 coastal defense and radar sites. Through external 
assistance, the enemy has been able to replace or rehabili- 
tate many of the items damage or destroyed, and transport 
inventories are roughly at the same level they were at 
the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, construction 
problems have caused interruptions in the flow of m.en and 
supplies, caused a great loss of work-hours, and restricted 
movement particularly during daylight hours. 68 / 

The admission that tra.nsport inventories were the same at 
year's end as v/hen it began must have been a painful one indeed for 
CINCPAC in view of the enormous cost of the air campaign against the 
transport system in money, aircraft, and lives. As a consolation for 
this signal fairore, CINCPAC pointed to the extensive diversion of 
civilian manpower to war related activities as a result of the bombing. 

A primary effect of our efforts to impede movemezit of 
the enemy has been to force Hanoi to engage from 500,000 to 
600,000 civilians in full-time and part-time war-related 
activities, in particular for air defense and repair of the 
LOCs. This diversion of manpower from other pursuits, 
particularly from the agricultural sector, has caused a 
drawdown on manpower.. The estimiated lov^'er food production 
yields, coupled with an increase in food imports in I967 
(some six times that of I966) , indicate that agriculture 
is having' great difficulty in adjusting to this hanged 
composition of the vzork force. The cost and difficulties 
of the war to Hanoi have sharply increased, and only 
throuj3-h the willingness of other commiunist countries to 
provide maximum replacement of goods and material. has NVN 
manaf^ed to sustain its war effort. 69/ 

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To these manpcv/er "diversions CINCPAC added the cost to North 
Vietnam in I967 of the destruction of vital resources — the third of ■ 

his air war objectives: 

C. Destroying vital resources: 

Air attacks were authorized and executed by target 
systems for the first time in I967? although the attacks 
were limited to specific targets within each system. A 
total of 937^0 sorties was flown against targets on the 
ROLLING TliQNDER target list from 1 January - I5 December 
1967- The campaign against the power system, resulted in 
reduction of power generating capability to approximately 
3.5 percent of original capacity. Successful strikes against 
the Thai Nguyen iron and steel plant and the Ha.iphong cement 
plant resulted in practically total destruction of these 
tv/o installations. NYN" adjustmients to these losses have 
had to be made by relying on additional imports from China, 
the USSR or the Eastern European countries. The req.uire- 
ment for additional imports reduces available shipping space 
for V7ar supporting supplies and adds to the congestion at 
the ports. Interruptions in rav/ material supplies and the 
req.uirement to turn to less efficient means of power and dis- 
tribution has degraded overall production. 

Economic losses to North Vietnara amounted to more 
than $130 million dollars in 1967^ representing over one-half 
of the total economic losses since the war began. 70/ 

This defense of the im.portance and contribution of the air 
campaign to the overall effort in Vietnam was seconded by General V^est- 
m-oreland later in January when he sent his year-end summary of progress 
to Washington. In discussing the efforts of his men on the ground in the 
South he described the bombing of the North as "indispensable" in cutting 
the flow of support and maintaining the morale of his forces. 71/ It 
is worth noting that C0MirSM\CV's optimistic assessment was dispatched 
just h days before the enemy launched his devastating Tet offensive, 
proving thereby a formida.ble capability to marshall m-en and materiel for 
m.assive attacks at times and places of his choosing, the bombing notwith- 

Less than a week later, Secretary McNam.ara appeared before 
'Congress for the presentation of his last annual "posture" statement. 
These regiilar January testim.onies had become an important forxm in vzhich 
the Secretary reviewed the events of the preceding year, presented the 
budset for the coming year and outlined the program.s for the Defense 
"\ establishment for the next five years. In all cases he had begun v/ith 
J broad brush review of the international situation and in recent years 

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devoted a major portion of the review to the Vietnam problem. In his 
valedictory on February 1, I968 (just after the beginning of Tet) he 
offered a far Biore sober appraisal of the effectiveness of the bombing 
than the military commanders in the field. In it he drew on much of 
the analysis provided to him the previous fall by the JASON and SKA.CABIN 
studies and his own systems analysts. His estimate of the bombing is 
perhaps the closest to being realistic ever given by the Administration 
and was a wise and tempered judgment to offer in the face of the enemy's 
impressive Tet attacks. 

The air campa^ign against North Vietnam, has included 
attacks on industrial facilities, fixed military targets, 
and the transportation system. 

Attacks against major industrial facilities through 
1967 have destroyed or put out of operation a large portion 
of the rather limited modern industrial base. About 70 per- 
cent of the North's electric generating capacity is currently 
out of operation, and the bulk of its fixed petroleum stor- 
age capacity has been destroyed. However, (imported diesel 
generators are probably producing sufficient electricity 
for essential services and, by dispersing their petroleum 
supplies, the North Vietnamese have been able to meet 
their minimum petrolevim needs. Most, if not all, of the 
industrial output lost has been replaced by imports from 
the Soviet Union and China. 

Military and economic assistance from other Commvmlst 
countries, chiefly the Soviet Union, has been steadily 
increasing. In I965, North-Vietnam received in aid a total 
of $^20 million ($270 million military and $150 million 
economic); in I966, $730 million ($^55 million military and 
$275 million economic); and preliminary estimates indicate 
that total aid for I967 niay have reached $1 billion ($660 
million military and $3^0 million economic). Soviet mili- 
tary aid since I965 has been concentrated on air defense 
materiel — SA^4's, AAA guns and ammo, radars, and fighter 

Soviet economic assistance has included trucks, rail- 
road eq.uipment, barges, m.achinery, petroleum, fertilizer, 
and food. China has provided help in tl e construction of 
light industry, maintenance of the transportation system 
and improvements in the communications and irrigation sys- 
tems, plus some 30^000 to 50,000 support troops for use 
in North Vietnain for repair and AAA defense. 

^ ■ Damage inflicted by our air attacks on fixed military 

^^^ ■• targets has led to the abandonment of barracks and supply 


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and ammunition depots and has caused a dispersal of supplies 
and equipment. Hovrever, North Vietnam's air defense system 
continues to function effectively despite increased attacks 
on airfields, SAM sites , and AAA positions. The supply of 
SAM missiles and antiaircra^ft ammunition appears adequate, 
notwithstanding our heavy attacks, and we see no indication 
of any permanent drop in their expenditure rates. 

Our intensified aii^ campaign against the transportation 
system seriously disrupted normal opera.tions and has increased 
the cost and difficulties of maintaining traffic flows. 
Losses of transportation equipment have increased, but inven- 
tories have been maintained by imports from Communist comitries 
The heavy damage inflicted on key railroad and highway bridges 
in the Hanoi-Haiphong areas during I967 has been largely off- 
set by the construction of numerous bypasses and the more 
extensive use of inland water^fays. 

V/laile our overall loss rate over North Vietnam has been 
decreasing steadily, from 3-^ aircraft per 1,000 sorties 
in 1965 to 2.1 in I966 and to I.9 in 196?? losses over the ' 
Hanoi -Haiphong area-s have been relatively high. 

The systematic air campaign against fixed economic and 
military target systems leaves fev7 strategically important 
targets unstruck. Other than manpower. North Vietnam pro- 
vides few direct resources to the war effort, which is sus- 
tained primarily by the large imports from the Commimist 
countries. The agrarian nature of the economy precludes 
an economic collapse as a result of the bombing. Moreover 
while we can make it more costly in time and manpov;er, it 
is difficult to conceive of any interdiction campaign that 
would pinch off the flovr of military supplies to the south 
as long as combat requirements remain at anything like the 
current low levels . 72, 

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1. U.S. Congress^ Senate Conmiittee on Armed Services , "Air War Against 
North Vietnam," Summary Report and Hearings , August I967. 

2. JCS Fact Sheet, "ROLLING THUITOER 57/' 10 August I967. 

3. Referred to in CM-266O-675 Gen. H. K. Johnson (Acting CJCS) Memorandum 
for the Secretary of Defense, 22 September 1967 (TS). 

I \ h. Ibid. 

5. Ibid. 

6. Ibid. 
I I 7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid . 

10. Ibid . 

11. Ibid . 

12. Ibid. 

13. Ibid. 
Ik. Ibid. 

15. Ibid . 

16. Ibid . 

17. ASD(ISA) Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 5 March I968, Subject 
Rolling Thunder Target List and Procedures. 

18. See David Kraslow and Stuart H. Loory, The Secret Search for Peace 
in Vietnam ; (Random House, N.Y., 1968) , pp. 2l5-227 . 

19. Bac kground Information Relating to Southeast Asia and Vietnam. , op. 

cit., pp. 235-23^: 

- • 

20. Ibid., emphasis added. 

'''^ 21 David Kraslov/ and Stuart H, Loory, Th e Secret Search for Peace in 
^-^' * Vietnam, (Random House Inc'. N.Y.,' I968), p.' 227. " 

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22. Background Information. .. j op, cit., p. 239* 


23. New York Times ^ October 20^ 1967- 

2if, . Handvrritten memo to "Secretary McNamara;, Recommend your approval 
of attached m^essage authorizing restrike against JCS target #8l. 
McConnell"^ 11 September I9675 with attached briefing papers. 

25. CINCPAC m-sg. 2IOO28Z September I967 (TS) . "^ 

26. CINCPAC msg, 202352Z September I967 (TS) . 


27. CM-266O-67, 22 September I967 (TS). 

28. Handwritten memo from "R McN^' to General McConnell^ 22 September 1967- 

29. JCSmjiisg. to CIKCPAC 7307 5 262109Z Septem.ber I967 and Telecon 293/67? 
2905O5Z Septem-ber I967 NOTAL (TS). 

30. CM 2668-67? 28 September I967 (TS). 

31. Robert S. McNamara Mem.orandum for the President; October ky I967 (TS). 

32. CM-2676-675 h October I967 (TS). 

33. CM-2679-675 6 October I967 (TS). 

3if. CINCPAC msg. O72O55Z October I967 (TS). 

35. CINCPAC msg. to JCS O8O726Z October I967 (TS-LB'IDIS) . 

36. ASd/iSA Paul C. VJarnke Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 
Sub j ect : " NVN Bombing (Com.ments on Valid Targets on 10/l2 List 
Not Yet Recoinm-ended) ," 23 "October I967 (TS-SENSITIVE) . " " 

37. JCS msg. to CINCPAC SSlk, 232212Z October I967 (TS-LIMDIS). 

38. CM-27O7-68, 27 October I968, Subject: "ROLLING THUmER 58" (TS). 

39. ASD/iSA Paul C. Warnke Memorandum for tie Secretary of Defense, 
Subject: "New mm Bombing Proposal - ROLLING THUNDER 58," 31 October 

1967 (ts-sensitive). 

kO Robert S. McNamara Memorandum for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, Novem.ber 6, I967 (TS). 

Ill Quote from an. unnamed CIA analysis in a Memorandum for Mr. V7arnke 
by Charles W. Havens, Special Assistant to the ASd/iSA, without 
date but filed with miaterials for early November I967 (TS). 

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k2. Ibid. 

k3. JCS14-663-675 "Policies for the Conduct of Operations in Southeast 
Asia over the Next Four Months/' 27 November 196? (TS- SENSITIVE), 
with Appendix and Annexes. 

kh. Ibid, 

U5. ASd/iSA Paul C. Warnke Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 

Subject: "NW Bombing Proposal," 5 December I967 (TS-SENSITIVE). 

kS. "Summary SecState and SecDef Position on 2^ New Target Recommenda- 
tions," 16 December I967 (TS-SENSITIVE). 

I1.7. Washi n gton Post , 3 December 19^7 • 

48. Letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 3O Congressm-en, 12 October 

49 - Study of the Political -Military Implications in Southeast Asia of 
the Cessation of Aerial Bombardment and the Initiation of Negoti- 
ations (SEACABIN), SEACABIN Study Group, OJCS 22 Novem.ber I967 
(TS-SENSITIVE), pp. 4-5. 

50. Ibid. , pp. 4-6. 

51- I'bid., pp. 7-8. 

52. Ibid ., pp. 13-1^. 

53. Ibid., p. 15. 

54. Ibid ., p. 17. ■ 

55. JCSM 698-67^ 16 December I967 (TS). 

^6. IDA, JASON Division, "The of North Vietnam," Vol. I, 
"Summary," IDA Log No. TS/hQ 67-127^ Dec. l6y I967 (TS), p. 1. 

57. Ibid., pp. 3-73 emphasis in original. 

58- Ibid ., pp. 7-8, emphasis in original. 

59. Ibid., p. 10, emphasis in original. 

60. ASd/ISA Paul C. Warnke Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 
% Subject: "Study of Alternative Bombing Strategies," 3 January 


61. IM£^- 

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62, Alain Ent>.oven Memorandtun for the Secretary of Defense^ Subject: 
"The Economic Effects of Bombing North Vietnajn/^ January 2^ 1968^ 
(TS), with enclosure. 

63. OASD(SA) Economics & Mobility Forces paper, "The Bombing - Its 
Economic Costs and Benefits to North Vietnam/' Jan. 2, I9685 (TS) 
attached to Alain Enthoven Memorandum, op. cit ■ 

6^. Ibid. 

65. JCSM-567-67, 23 October I967 (ts). 

66. CINCPAC msg. to JCS OIOI56Z January I968 (TS-LII-ffllS) . 

67- Ibid- 

68- Ibid. 

69. Ibid . 

70. Ibid . 

71. COI'IUSMACV msg. to CINCPAC O289I, 260755Z January I968 (s). 

72. Background Information..., op. cit . , pp. 268-269- 

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Tlie Johnson Administration began I968 iu a mood of cautious hope 
about the course of the war. Within a month those hopes had been 
corapletely dashed. In late January and early February 5 the Viet Cong 
and their North Vietnamese supporters launched the massive Tet assault 
on the cities and tovzns of South Vietnam and put the Johnson Administration 
and the Aiaerican public through a profound political catharsis on the 
wisdom and purpose of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and the soundness 
of oui' policies for the conduct of the war. The crisis engendered the 
most soul-searching debate within the Administration about v/hat course to 
take next in the whole history of the war. In the emotion laden atmos- 
phere of those dark days, there were cries for large-scale escala^tion on 
the one side and for significant retrenclment on the other. In the end 
an equally difficult decision — to stabilize the effort in the South 
and de-escalate in the North -- was made. One of the inescapable con- 
' elusions of the Tet experience that helped to shajDe that decision was 

that as an interdiction measure against the infiltration of men and 
supplies 5 the bombing had been a near total failure. Moreover, it had 
not succeeded in breaking Hanoi's will to continue the fight. The only 
other major justification for continuing the bombing was its punitive 
value 5 and that began to pale in comparison v/ith the potential (newly 
perceived by many) of its suspension for producing negotiations with the 
X)j{V5 or failing that a large propaganda v/indfall for the U.S. negotiating 
position. The President's dramatic decision at the end of March capped a 
long month of debate. Adding force to the President's announcement of 
the partia.l halt was his own personal decision not to seek re- 

A- The Crisis Begins 

1. Riblic Diplomacy Gropes On 

Following Ambassador Harriman^s visit to Bucharest in 
November I967 the next move in the dialogue of the deaf betv^een Hanoi 
and Washington was a slightly new formulation of the North Vietnamese 
position by Foreign Minister Trinh on December 29. Speaking at a 
reception at the Mongolian Embassy he stated: 

After the United States has ended the bombing and all 
other acts of war 3 _^orth Vietna^i/ will hold talks with 
the Unitec States on questions concerned. 

I *Bv shifting his tense from the "could" of his 28 January I967 statement 

to "will" Trinh had moved his position just slightly closer to that of 
the U S. This statement was, no doubt, a part of a secret diplomatic 
Valo^e possibly the Rijmanians, that must have continued into 
+h new year. The State Department readily acknowledged that Trinh' s 

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statement was a "new formulation/' but quickly pointed out that it 
had been prefaced by a reaffirmation of the four points and did not 
deal with the specifics of when^ where and hew negotiations would 
take place. 2/ 


Rusk's efforts to downplay the significance of the Trinh 
statement notwithstanding, it can be assumed that some U.S. response 
was sent to Hanoi. Reinforcing this impression is the fact that on 
January 3 bombing was again completely prohibited within 5 n.m. of both 
Hanoi and Haiphong for an indefinite period. _3/ (Some confusion may 
arise as to the various constraints that were placed on the bombing near 
the two major cities at different times and for different radii. "Pro- 
hibited" meant that no strikes had been or would be authorized; "restricted" 
meant that the area was generally off limits but that individual targets ^ 
on a case by case basis, might be approved by "highest authority" for a 
single attack. The 30 n.m. restricted zone around Hanoi and its 10 n.m.. 
counterpart around Haiphong had existed since the beginning of the bombing 
in 1965. The prohibited zones were established in December I966. In 
1967 they had been 10 n.m. for Hanoi and k n.m. for Haiphong.) 
on January I6 v/hen the VJhite House Luncheon group they authorized 
only two targets that McNamara and Rusk had not already agreed to in 
December and they specifically reaffirmed the prohibition around the two 
cities, it/ ' ■ 

The following day, the President, in his annual State of 
the Union address, softened somewhat the U.S. position in what may have 
been intended as a m^essage to Hanoi. He caviled for "serious" negotiations 
rather than the "productive" talks he had asked for in the San Antonio 
speech. Unfortunately, he also stated that the North Vietnam^ese "must 
not take advantage of our restraint as they have in the past." _5/ News- 
men mistakenly took this for a hardening of the U.S. position by the 
President, an error Dean Rusk tried to dispel the following day. But, as 
on m-any occasions in the past, if this was intended as a signal to Hanoi 
it must have been a confusing one. Once again the problem of multiple 
audiences scrambled the communication. Not surprisingly then, on January 21, 
Nham Dan, the official North Vietnamese newspaper condemned the San Antonio 
form.ula as the "habitual trick" of the President who was attempting to 
impose "very insolent conditions" on Hanoi. The U.S. had no right to 
ask reciprocity for a cessation of the bombing since it was the aggressor. 6/ 

His intent having been misconstrued, the President used the 
next most convenient opportunity to convey his message — the confinnation 
hearings of the Senate Armed Services Commdttee on the appointm.ent of his 
close friend and advisor, Clark Clifford, to be Secretary of Defense. In 
th^ course of his testimony, Clifford replied- to questions by Senator 
^trom Thurmond about the timdng and conditions the Administration intended 
for a bombing halt. Here is the essential portion of that testimony: 

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SECTOR THURMOND: This morning you testified about 

the large q,uantities of goods that were brought in during 
the cessation of bombing, and in view of your experience 
and jovx knowledge, and the statements you made this 
morning, I presume that you would not favor cessation 
of bombing where American lives would be jeopardized? 

MR. CLIFFORD: I would not favor the cessation of 
bombing under present circumst8.nces. I would express 
the fervent hope that we could stop the bombing if we 
had some kind of reciprocal v7ord from North Vietnam that 
they wanted to sit down a^nd, in good faith, negotiate. 

I wouJ-d say only that as I go into this task, the 
deepest desire that I have is to bring hostilities in 
Vietnam to a conclusion under those circumstances that 
permit us to have a dignified and honorable result that 
in turn will obtain for the South Vietnamese that goal 
which we have m.ade such sacrifices to attain. 

SENATOR THURMOI\[D: \<[hen you spoke of negotiating, 
in which case you vrould be willing to have a cessation 
of bombing, I presume you would contemplate that they 
would stop their military activities, too, in return 
for a cessation of bombing. 

MR. CLIFFORD: No, that is not what I said. 

I do not expect them to stop their military activi- 
ties. I would expect to follow the language of the 
President when he said that if they would agree to 
start negotiations promptly and not take advantage of the 
pause in the bombing. 

SEMTOR THURMOND: Wliat do you mean by taking 
advantage if they continue their military activities? 

MR. CLIFFORD: Their mdlitar^^ activity will continue 
in South Vietnam, I assume, until there is a cease fire 
agreed upon. I assume that they will continue to trans- 
port the normal amount of goods, munitions, and men, 
to South Vietnam. I assume that we will continue to 
maintain out forces and support our forces during that 
I ■ period. So v/hat I ami suggesting, in the language of 

the "President is, that he would insist that they not 
take advantage of the suspension of the bombing, j/ 

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Several days later , the Clifford testimony was confirmed by the State 
Department as the position of the U.S. Government. This, then, was 
the final public position taken by the Administration prior to the 
launching of the Tet offensive by the enemy on January 30. VJhile it 
amounted to a further softening, it was still considerably short of 
the unconditional cessation the North Vietnamese were dem^anding. In 
the aftermath of the Tet attack, both sides V70uld scale down their 
demands in the interests of opening a direct dialogue. 

2. The Tet Offensive 

As planned, the Allies began a 36-hour truce in honor of 
the Tet holidays on January 29. The order was shortly cancelled, how- 
ever, because of fierce enemy attacks in the northern provinces. Then, 
suddenly on January 31 5 the Viet Cong and WA forces launched massive 
assaults on virtually every major city and provincial capital, and most 
of the military installations in South Vietnam. In Saigon, attackers 
penetrated the new Ajiierican Erabassy and the Palace grounds before they 
were driven back. VJhole sections of the city were under Viet Cong 
control temporarily. In Hue an attacking force captured virtually the 
entire city including the venerable Citadel, seat of the ancient capital 
of Vietnam and cultural center of the coiuitry. Everywhere the fighting 
was intense and the casualties, civilian as well as military, were 
staggering. Coming on the heels of optimistic reports from the field 
coimnands, this offensive caught official Washington off guard and stunned 
both the Administration and the American public. The Viet Cong blatantly 
announced their aim as the overthrcvz of the Saigon regimie. But the 
""I, Allied forces fought well and the main thrust of the attacks on Saigon, 

Danang, and elsewhere were blunted with the enem.y suffering enorm.ous 
casualties. Only in Hue did the coirmujiists succeed in capturing the 
city tem-porarily. There the fighting continued as the most costly of 
the war for nearly a month before the Viet Cong were finally rooted out 
of their strongholds. 

The lesson of the Tet offensive concerning the bombing 
should have been unrndstakably clear for its proponents and critics alike. 
Bombing to interdict the flow of men and supplies to the South had been 
a signal failure. The resources necessary to initiate an offensive of 
Tet proportions and sustain the casualties and munitions expenditures 
■ ' it entailed had all flowed south in spite of the heavy bombing in North 

Vietnam, laos end South Vietnam. It was now clear that bom-bing alone 
could not prevent the communists from amassing the materiel, and infil- 
trating the manpov/er necessary to conduct massive operations if they 
'chose. Moreover, Tet dem-onstrated that the will to undergo the required 
sacrifices and hardships was more than ample. 

The initial military reaction in Washington appears to 
ha e been addressed to the air war. On February 3, the Chiefs sent the 

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Secretary a memo renewing their earlier proposal for reducing the 
restricted zone ardond Hanoi and Haiphong to 3 and 1.5 n.m. respec- 
tively, with fJeld authority granted to make strikes as required out- 
side. The memo opened with a reference to the Tet offensive: "Through 
his buildup at Khe Sanh and actions throughout South Vietnam during 
the past week^ the enemy has shov/n a major capability for waging war 
in the South." 8/ In view of the evident ineffectiveness of the bombing 
in preventing the offensive , the succeeding sentence in the memo^ pro- 
viding the justification for the req^uest^ can only appear as a non seguitiir : 
"The air campaign against WN should be conducted to achieve maximum effect 
in reducing this enem-y capability." _9/ 

The arguments against such authorization were formulated by 
ISA. Mr. Warnke observed that: 

In addition to the lines of communication that would be 
opened for attack by shrinking the control areas around Hanoi 
and Haiphong only a couple of fixed targets not previously 
authorized would be released for strike. These targets do 
not appear to have large civilia.n casualties or other politi- 
cal liabilities associated with them. A description of 
these targets is attached. (Tab b) The major effects thus 
would be (l) to open to armed recce attack the primary and 
secondary LOCs between the present "regular" 10 and h mile 
circles and the proposed 3 Q-^d l-l/2 mile circles, and, if 
the Joint Staff interpretation is accepted, (2) to release 
for strike the previously authorized targets within the 
"special" 5 mile circ3,es. lO/ 

Other considerations also argued in favor of deferring action on this 
proposal for the moment: 

I recommend that, if this proposal is accepted, the 
new circles be treated as containing areas where no strikes 
are to be made without new individual authorization. In 
any event, I believe the present restrictions should be 
continued pending the return of the 3 American PWs who have 
been designated by Hanoi for release. Our information is 
that these men v^ill be picked up by 2 American pacifists 
who are leaving from. Vientiane, Laos, for Hanoi on the 
next available flight. The next scheduled ICC flight to 
- Hanoi is on 9 February, ll/ 

The issue was probably raised at the l^Jhite House Luncheon on February 6, 
bu-^ the JCS proposal was not approved. Strikes against targets in 
Hai-ohon^ apparently were authorized, however, since the first such raids 
'n over a month took place on February 10. These, however, were only 
the most immediate reactions to the trauma of Tet I968.- To be sure, as 

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time went on, the a5.r war would be shoved aside somewhat by considera- 
tions of force augmentation in the south -- the principle concern after 
the massive Viet Cong attack. Bombing as an issue would more and more 
be considered in relation to the possibility of negotiations and the 
improvement of the U.S. diplomatic position. The failure of the bombing 
to interdict infiltration and break Hanoi's will meant that it could be 
militarily justified for the future only as a punitive measure. Never- 
theless, many in the Pentagon would continue to advocate its expansion. 
As events moved forv/ard this punitive value v/ould gradually seem less and 
less important to the President compared with the potential of a bombing 
suspension (even partial) for producing serious peace negotiations and/or 
appeasing public opinion. For the moment, however, the Tet assault appeared 
only as a m.assive repudiation of U.S. peace overtures, hardly something 
to vrarrant a reduction in our side of the conflict. , ■ 

On Sunday, February U, Secretaries Rusk and McNamara 
appeared jointly on a special one-hour program of "Meet the Press" to 
answer questions pri.marily about the Tet offensive, Vfhen asked about 
the meaning of these new attacks for the diplomatic effort and the role 
of the bombing, Rusk replied as follows: 

MRc SPIVAK. Secretary Rusk, may I ask you a question? 


MR, SPIVAK. The President the other day asked this 
question, he said, what would the North Vietnamese be doing 
if we stopped the bombing and let them alone? Now there is 
some confusion about what we want them to do. What is it 
we want them to do today if we stop the bombing? 

SECRETARY RUSK. Well, many, many months ago the Presi- 
dent said almost anything as a step toward peace. Now I 
think it is important to understa.nd the political signifi- 
cance of the events of the last 3 or U days in South Viet- 
nam. President Johnson said some weeks ago that we are 
exploring the difference between the statement of their 
Foreign Minister about entering into discussions and his 
own San Antonio formula. 

Now 're have been in the process of exploring the 
problems that arise vzhen you put those two statements 
side by side. Hanoi knows that. They know that these 
explorations are going on because they were a party to 
them. Secondly, we have exercised some restraint in 
our bombing in North Vietnam during this period of explor- 
ation, particularly in the imjn.ediate vicinity of Hanoi 
and Plaiphong. Again, Hanoi knows this. They also knew 
that the Tet cease-fire period was coming up. 

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MR. SPIVAK. Have we stopped the bombing there? 

SECRETARY RUSK. No, we have not had a pause in 
the traditionally accepted sense but we have limited 
the bombing at certain points in order to make it some- 
what easier to carry forv/ard these explorations so that 
particularly difficult incidents vzould not interrupt 
them. ¥e have not gone into a pause as that word is 
generally understood. 

But they've also known that the Tet cease-fire v.'-as ' 
coming up. And they've knovm from earlier years that 
we've been interested in converting something like a Tet 
cease-fire into a more productive dialogue, into some 
opportunity to move toward peace. 

1 Now in the face of all these elements they partici- 

I . pated in laying on this, major offensive. Now I think it 

would be foolish not to draw a political conclusion from 

I this that they are not seriously interested at the present 

time in- talking about peaceful settlem.ent- Or in explor- 
ing the problems connected with the San Antonio form.ula. 
I remind those who don't recall that formula that it was 

f that we would stop the bombing V7hen it would lead promptly 

" to productive discussions. And we assiimed that they 

would not take advantage of this cessation of bom^bing 

■ while such discussions were going on, 

Now it's hard to imagine a more reasonable proposal 
by any nation involved in an armed conflict than that. And 
I think we have to assume that these recent offensives in 
the south are an answer, are an answer, in addition to 
their public denunciation of the San Antonio formula. 

MR. ABEL. Are you saying, Mr. Secretary, that we 
interpret this offensive as their rejection of the diplomatic 
overtures that have been made? 

SECRETARY RUSK. Well, they have rejected the San 
'I ' Antonio formula publicly, simply on the political level. 

And I think it would be foolish for us not to take into 
II account what they're doing on the ground when we try to 

analyze what their political position is. You remember 
the old saying that what you do speaks so loud I can't 
hear what you say. Now we can't be indifferent to these 
actions on the ground and think that these have no con- 
seauences from a political point of view. So they know 
where we live. Everything that we've said, our lU points, 

■ 28 proposals to which we've said yes and to which they've 

* * 

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said no^ the San Antonio formula, all these things remain 

there on the table for anyone who is interested in moving 

'tov7ard pe;.)-Ge. They're all there. But ':hey know where 

we live and we'd be glad to hear from them sometime at their 

convenience when they decide that they want to move toward 


MR. ABEL- I'm assuming, sir, that the San Antonio 
formula stands as our longer term position here. 

SECRETARY RUSK. That is correct. 12/ 

These views of the Secretary of State were reinforced on 
February 8 when the North Vietnamese, obviously in the flush of their 
psychological victory, again broadcast a repudiation of the San Antonio 
formula. Meanwhile, they had been engaged in secret contacts with the 
U.S. through the Italian Foreign Office in Rome. On February lU, the 
Italians disclosed that two representatives from Hanoi had visited Rome 
on February k to meet Foreign Minister Fanfani "for talks about the 
Vietnam conflict and about possible hypotheses of a start of negotiations 
to settle it." I3/ Washington was fully informed, yet Rusk annoujiced 
on the same day that all U.S. attempts to launch peace talks "have resulted 
in rejection" by Hanoi and that there was no indication she would restrain 
herself in exchange for a bombing halt. To this the President, at an 
unscheduled news conference two days later, added that Hanoi was no more 
ready to negotiate at that time than it had been three years previously, ih/ 
These reciprocating recriminations in the two capitals were the logical 
outcome of such dramatic events as the Tet offensive. They v/ould, however, 
soon give way to cooler evaluations of the situation, presumably on both 

The primary focus of the U.S. reaction to the Tet offensive 
was not diplomatic, however. It w^as another reexamination of force 
req.uirements for avoiding defeat or disaster in the South. On February 9? 
McNamara asked the Chiefs to provide him with their views on what forces 
General Westmoreland would req.uire for emergency augmentation and where 
they should come from. The Chiefs replied on February 12 to the startling 
effect that while the needs in South Vietnam were pressing, indeed per- 
haps urgent, any farther reduction in the strategic reserve in the U.S. 
would seriously compromise the U.S. force posture worldwide and could not 
be afforded. They reluctantly recommended deferring the req.uests of 
General Westmo.;eland for an emergency augmentation. 15/ Rather, they 
■nrOTDOsed a callup of reserves to meet both the req.uirements of Vietnam 
augmentation in the intermediate future and to bring drawn-down forces in 
the strategic reserve up to strength. The tactic the Chiefs were using 

clear; by refusing to scrape the bottom of the barrel any flirther 
for Vietnam they hoped to force the President to "bite the bullet" on 
the callup of the reserves -- a step they had long thought essential, 

. -f-^^cj^t they were" determined w^ould not now be avoided. Their views not- 
^nhstanding, the Secretary the next day ordered an em^ergency force of 

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10^500 to Vietnam immediately to reconstitute COI^I[JSIvIA.CV's strategic 
reserve and put out the fire, 16 / 

With the decision to dis patchy among others, the remainder 
of the 82d Airborne Division as emergency augmentation and its public 
announcement;, the policy process slowed dovzn appreciably for the fol- 
lowing ten days. The troops were loaded aboard the aircraft for the 
flight to Vietnam on February ±k and the President flew to Ft- Bragg to 
personally say farewell to them. The experience proved for him to be 
one of the most profoundly moving and troubling of the entire Vietnam 
war. The men, many of whom had only recently returned from Vietnam, were 
grim. They were not young men going off to adventure but seasoned veterans 
returning to an ugly conflict from which they knew some would not return. 
The film clips of the President shaking hands with the solemn but deter- 
mined paratroopers on the ramps of their aircraft revealed a deeply 
troubled leader. He was confronting the men he was asking to make the 
sacrifice and they displayed no enthusiasm. It may well be that the 
dramatic decisions of the succeeding month and a half that reversed the 
direction of American policy in the vzar had their genesis in those troubled 

B. The "A to Z'' Review 

1. The Reassessment Begins 

For roughly ten days, things were ci.ulet in Washington. In 
Vietnam^ the battle for the recapture of the Citadel in Hue raged on until 
the 24th of February before the last North Vietnamese defenders were over- 
run. As conditions in South Vietnam sorted themselves out and some semblance 
of normality returned to the command organizations ^ MCV began a compre- 
hensive reassessment of his requirements. Aware that this reviev/ v:as going 
on and that it would result in requests for further troop augmentation, 
the President sent General VJheeler, the Chairman of the JCS to Saigon on 
February 23 to consult with General Westmoreland and report back on the 
new situation and its implication for further forces. Iftieeler returned 
from Vietnam on the 25th and filed his report on the 27th. The substance 
of his and General Westmoreland's recomjuendations had preceded him to 
Washington, however ; and greatly troubled the President. The military 
were requesting a major reinforcement of more than 3 divisions and sup- 
■norting forces totalling in excess of 200,000 men, and v^ere asking for 
a callup of some 280,000 reservists to fill tnese requirements and flesh 
out the strategic reserve and training base at home. 1?/ The issue was 
thus squarely joined. To accept the military recommendations would entail 
not only a full-scale callup of reserves, but also putting the country 
economically on a semi-war footing, all at a time of great domestic dissent^ 
c\' qa-^isfaction^ and disillusionment about both the purposes and the conduct 
-p the war. The President v;as understandably reluctant to take such action, 
the more so in an election year. \ ^ 

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The assessments of North Vietnamese intention, moreover, 
were not reassuring. The CIA, evaluating a captured document, circu- 
lated a report on the same day as General Wheeler's report that stated: 

Hanoi's confident assessment of the strength of its 
position clearly is central to its strategic thinking. 
Just as it provided the rationale for the Communists' 
'v/inter-spring campaign, ' it probably will also govern 
the North Vietnamese response to the present tactical 
situation. If Hanoi believes it is operating from a 
position of strengrth, as this analysis suggests, it can 
be expected to press its military offensive--even 3.t 
the cost of serious setbacks. Given their view of the 
strategic balance, it seems doubtful that the Communists 
would be inclined to settle for limited military gains 
intended m.erely to improve their bargaining position in 
negotiations. 18/ 

The alternatives for the President, therefore, did not seem very attractive. 
With such a major decision to make he asked his incoming Secretary of 
Defense, Clark Clifford, to convene a senior group of advisors from 
State, Defense, CIA, and the Vfhite Plouse and to conduct a complete review 
of our involvement, re-evaluating both the range of aims and the spectrinn 

f . - of means to achieve them. The review was soon tagged the "A to Z Policy 

Review" or the "Clifford Group Review." 19/ 

■ 2. The Clifford Group 

The first meeting of the Clifford Group was convened in 
the Secretary's office at the Pentagon on V-Jednesday, February 23. Present 
were McNamara, General Taylor, Nitze, Fowler, Katzenbach, Walt Rostow, 
Helms, Warnke, and Phil Habib from Bundy's office. 20/ In the meeting, 
Cliffo^^d outlined the task as he had received it from the President and 
' a general discussion ensued from which assignments were made on the prepara- 

tion of studies and papers. The focus of the entire effort was the 
deployment requests from MACV. The general subjects assigned were recap- 
itulated the following day by Bundy: 



Sub j e ct s to be Considered 

1. What alternative courses of action are available to the US? 
Assignment: Defense - General Taylor - State - (Secretary) 

2. \-Jhat alternative courses are open to the enemy? 
Assignment: Defense and CIA • 

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3. Analysis of implications of Westmoreland's req.uest for 
additional troops. 

Series of papers on the following. 

Military implications - JCS 

Political implications - Stat 


(Political implications in their "broadest domestic 
and international sense to include internal 
Vietnamese problem). 

Budgetary results - Defense 

Economic implications - Treasury 

Congressional im.plications - Defense 

Implications for public opinion - domestic and 
■ international - State. 

k. Negotiation Alternatives 

Assignment: State 2l/ 

The papers were to be considered at a meeting to be held at Defense on 
Saturday, March 2 at 10:00 A.M. In fact, the meeting was later deferred 
until Sunday afternoon and the whole effort of the Task Force shifted to 
the drafting of a single Memorandum for the President with a recommended 
course of action and supporting papers. The work became so intensive that 
it was carried out in teams within ISA, one operating as a drafting com- 
mittee and another (Mr. Warnke - ASD/iSA, Dr. Enthoven - ASD/SA, Dr. 
Halperin - DASD/iSA/pP, 14r. Steadman - DASD/eA & PP) as a kind of policy 
review board. Of the work done outside the Pentagon only the paper on 
negotiations prepared by Bundy at State and General Taylor's paper went 
to the White House. The other materials contributed by the CIA and State 
were fed into the deliberative process going on at -the Pentagon but did not 
fieure directly in the final memo. It would be misleading, however, not 
to note that the drafting group working v/ithin ISA included staff members 
from both the State Department and the VJhite House, so that the fina]. memo 
did represent an interagency effort. Nevertheless, the dominant voice in 
the consideration of alternatives as the working group progressed through 
three different drafts before the Sunday meeting was that of OSD. To pro- 
'de some sense of the ideas being debated with respect to the air war 
d negotiations 5 relevant sections of a number of papers written during 

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< r 


those frantic days of late February-early March are included below, 
even though mos"^^ of them never reached the President. 

The CIA, responding to the requirements of the Clifford 
Group for an assessment of the current communist position and the 
alternatives open to them, sent several memos to the drafting committee 
before the Sunday meeting. On February 29, they argued that the VC/nvA 
could be expected to continue the harassment of the urban areas for the 
next several months in the hope of exacting a sufficient price from the 
U.S. and the GVN to force us to settle the war on their term^s. But, no 
serious negotiation initiative was anticipated until the conclusion of 
the military phase: 

^* PQ-'^^^tical O ptions . Until the military cam-paign has 
run its course and the results are fairly clear, it is un- 
likely that Hanoi will be seriously disposed to consider 
negotiations with the U.S. A negotiating ploy is possible, 
however, at almost any point in the present military campaign. 
It would be intentionally designed to be difficult for the 
US to reject. The purpose, however, would not be a serious 
intent to settle the war, but rather to cause nev7 anxieties 
in Saigon, which raight cause a crisis and lead to the collapse 
of the ThieU"Ky government. 

5. As of now Hanoi probably foresees two alternative 
sets of circumstances in vzhich a serious move to negotiate 
a settlement might be entertained: 

a. Obviously, if the malitary campaign is pro- 
ducing significant successes and the GVN is in serious 
disarray at some point Hanoi would proba,bly give the 

US the opportunity to end the war. This might take the 
form of offering a general cease-fire followed by nego- 
tiations on terms which would amount to registering a 
complete Cora^nunist political success. 

b. If, on the other hand, the military campaign 
does not go well and the results are inconclusive, then 
Hanoi V70uld probably change its military strategy to con- 
tinue the struggle on a reduced level. 22/ 


To this assessm-ent was added a somewhat more detailed 
estimate the following day addressed to several specific questions. 
Expanding on their memo of the previous day in response, to a question 
bout whether the North Vietnajiiese had abandoned the "protracted conflict" 
concept, the Agency concluded: 

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■ In our view the intensity of the Tet offensive and 

the exertions being made to sustain pressures confirms 
that Hanoi is now engaged in a major effort to achieve 
early and decisive results. Yet the Communists probably 
have no rigid timetable. They apparently have high hopes 
of achieving their objectives this year, but they will 
preserve- considerable tactical flexibility. 23/ 

Again in m.ore detail, they responded to a question about negotiations, a 
bombing suspension and terms of settlement: 

What is the Communist attitude tovrard negotiations: 
in particular how v/ould Ha,noi deal with an. unconditional 
cessation of US bombing of IWIM and what v^culd be its 
terms for a settlement? 

8. The Communists, probably still expect the-'war to 
end eventually in some form of negotiations. Since they 
hope the present military effort vrill be decisive in 
destroying the GVjM and ARW, they are not likely to give 
any serious consideration to negotiations until this 
campaign has progressed far enough for its results to 

be fairly clear. 

9. If? however, the US ceased the bomhing of North 

■ Vietnam in the near future, Hanoi would probably respond 
more or less as indicated in its most recent statements. 
It would begin talks fairly soon, would accept a fairly 
wide ranging exploration of issues, but would not moderate 
its teims for a final settlement or stop fighting in the 
South . 

10. In any talks, Communist terms vmuld involve the 
establishment of a new "coalition" governraent, v/hich 

■ would in fact if not in appearance be under the domination 
of the Communists. Secondly, they v/ould insist on a guaran- 
teed withdrawal of US forces within some precisely defined 
period. Their attitude toward other issues would be dic- 
tated by the degree of progress in achieving these two 
primary objectives, and the military-political situation 
then obtaining in South Vietnam. 

11. Cessation of bombing and opening of negotiations 
without significant Communist concessions would be deeply 
disturbing to the Saigon government. There v;ould be a 
real risk that the Thieu-Ky regime would collapse, and 
this V70uld in fact be part of Hanoi *s calculation in accept- 
ing negotiations. 2hj 

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On March 2, the CIA made one additional input' to the 
deliberations 5 this tirae on the question of Soviet and Chinese aid 
to North Vietna'n. The intelligence offered vas based on the report . ■ 
of a high-level defector and concluded ^.-.ath a disturbing estimate of 
hovr the Soviets would react to the closing of Haiphong harbor. In 
summary this is what the CIA expected in the way of international com- 
munist aid to Hanoi: 

International Communist Aid to North Vietnam 


The USSR continues to provide the overv;helming share 
of the increasing amounts of military aid being provided 
to North Vietnam and is willing to sustain this commitment 
at present or even higher levels, A recent high-level 
defector indicates that aid deliveries will increase even 
farther in I968. Pie also makes it clear that there is 
no quantitative limit to the types of the assistance that 
the USSR would provide with the possible exception of 
offensive weapons that would result in a confrontation 
with the U.S. He also reports that the USSR cannot afford 
to provide aid if it wishes to maintain its position in 
the socialist camp. 

This source does not believe that the recent increase 
in aid deliveries reflects an awareness on the part of 
European Communist power that the Tet offensive was inmiinent. 

The defector confirms intelligence estmates that the 
USSR has not been able to use its aid programs as a means 
of influencing North Vietnam's conduct of the war. In 
his opinion the Chinese are a more influential power. 

Finally^ the defector reports that the USSR will use 
force to maintain access to the port of Haiphong. The 
evidence offered to support this statement conflicts 
sharply vrith the present judgment of the intelligence com- 
munity and is undergoing extremely close scrutiny. 2$/ 

Bundy's office at State furnished a copious set of papers 
dealing with mc.ny aspects of the situation t^iat are covered in greater 
detail in Task Force Paper IV«C.6. For our purposes I will consider 
i 'only some of the judgments offered about Soviet, Chinese and other 

' " . reactions to various coLurses of action against North Vietnam. The basic 
j I alternatives which were the basis of the appraisals of likely foreign 

' reaction were drafted by Bundy and approved by Katzenbach as follows: 

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Option A 

This would basically consist of accepting the "^/Hieeler- 
Westmor eland reccirimendation aimed at sending roughly 100,000 
men by 1 May, .and another 100^000 men by the end of I968. 

This course of action is assumed to mean no basic change 
in strategy v;ith respect to areas and places V7e attempt to 
hold. At the sajrae time, the option could include som.e shift 
in the distribution of our increased forces, in the direction 
of city and countryside security and to some extent away 
from "search and destroy" operations away from populated 

The option basically would involve full presentation 
to the Congress of the total Wheeler/Westmoreland package, 
with all its implications for the reserves, tax increases, 
and related actions . 

At the same time, there are sub-options with respect 
to the negotiating posture we adopt if we present such a 
total package. These sub-options appear to be as follows: 

Option A-1: Standing pat on the San Antonio 
formula and on our basic position of what would be accept- 
able in a negotiated settlement. 

O'ptio n A"2: Accompanying our presenting the 
announcement with a new "peace offensive" m^odifying the 
San Antonio formula or our position on a negotiated 
settlement, or both. 

Opt i on A-3 ' Making no present change in ovx 
negotiating posture, but making a strong noise that our 
objective is to create a situation from which we can 
in fact move into negotiations within the next 4-8 
months if the situation can be righted. 

Option B 

The essence of this option would be a chan ge in our 
milit ary strategy , involving a reduction in the areas and 
places v/e sought to control. It might involve v/ithdrawal 
from the v/e stern areas of I Corps and from the highland 
areas for example. The objective would be to concen- 
trate our forces, at whatever level, fa.r more heavily on 
the protection of populated areas. Again, there are 
sub-options, roughly as follows: . 

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Op tion B-1 : Such a change in strategy;, with 
no increase or minimal increase in forces. 

Option B"2 ; Such a change in strateg^^'" accom- 
panied by a substantial increase in forces^ although 
possibly less than the totals indicated, in the VJheeler- 
Westmoreland proposals. 

Option C : 

This might be called the " air power " or " greater 
emphasis on the North" option. It would appear to fit 
most readily with an Option B course of action in the 
South ^ but would mean that -vie would extend, our bombing 
and other m„ilitary actions against the North to try to 
strangle the war there and put greater pressure on 
Hanoi in this area. 26/ 

Three other options were also offered but carried no specific proposals 
for the air war or the negotiations track. 

These ■ generalized options took on more specific form when 
Bundy examined possible Soviet and Chinese reactions. Among the possible 
U.S. actions against North Vietnam, he evaluated mining the harbors , 
all-out bombing of the North, and invasion. These vmre the Soviet 
responses he anticipated: 

3- Mining or Blockade of DRV Port s. This is a pros- 
pect the Soviets have dreaded. Mining, in particular, is 
a tough problem for them because it v;ould not readily per- 
mit them to play on our own worries about escalation. 
They could attempt to sweep the mines which we would then 
presumably resow. They could somehow help the DRV in 
attacking US aircraft and ships engaged in the mining 
operation, even if this was occurring outside territorial 
waters, but such operations, apart from risking fire- 
fights with the US, do not seem very promising. Blockade, 
on the other hand, confronts the Soviets with the choice 
of trying to run it. They might decide to try it in the 
hope that we would stand aside. They would alm-ost cer- 
tainly authorize their ship captains to resist US inspec- 
tion, capture or orders to turn around. VJhat happens next 
again gets us into the essentially unknowable. In any 
« case however, it is unlikely tha,t the Soviets would attempt 
naval or DRV-based air escorts for their ships. Naval 
escort would of course req.uire the dispatch of vessels from 
Soviet home ports. On balance, but not very -confidently, 
T would conclude that in the end the Soviets V70uld turn 
their ships around, a highly repulsive possibility for 

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Moscow. Presumably, in such an event, they would seek to 
increase shipments via China, if China lets them. (Purely 
in terms of the military impact on the DRV, it should be 
understood that the' bulk of Soviet military hardv^are goes 
to the DRV by rail and a would therefore not in 
and of itself impede the flow of Soviet arms). 


t Ij-. All-out US Bombing of the DRV . This one poses 

tougher problems for the Soviets and hence for any assess- 

1 ment of v/hat they would do. Moscow has in the past shown 

, some sensitivity to the conseq.uences of such a US course. 

' If the US program resulted in substantial damage to the 

DRV air defense system (SAMs, MIGs, AAA., radars, etc.) the 
Soviets v/ill seek to replenish it as rapidly as possible 
via China and, assujaing the Chinese will let them, i.e. 
permit trains to pass and planes to overfly and land en route. 
Soviet personnel can be. expected to participate in the DRV 
air defense in an advisory capacity and in ground operations 
and the Soviets vzill presumably keep quiet about any casual- 
ties they might suffer in the process. It is likely, however, 
that this kind of Soviet involvement would increase up to 
and including, in the extreme, the overt dispatch, upon 
- ^ DRV req.uest, of volunteers. (Moscow has long said it would 

do so and it is difficult to see how it could avoid delivering 
on its promise.) Such volunteers might actually fly DRV 
■ aircraft if enough DRV pilots had m.eanwhile been lost. 
Needless to say, once this stage is reached assessments 
become less confident, if only because the US Administration 
itself will have to consider just how far it wants to go in 
engaging the Soviets in an air battle in Vietnam.- The 
Soviets for their part are not well situated to conduct a 
major air defense battle in Vietnam and there is the further 
question v/hether the Chinese would be prepared to grant 
them bases for staging equipment and personnel or for 
sanctua.ry. (On past form this seems unlikely, but this 
might change if the US air offensive produced decisive 
effects on the DRV^s capacity to continue the v/ar, in itself 
a dubious result.) 

5. Invasion of the Southern DRV . In this case, the 
Soviets would continue and, if needed, rtep up their hard- 
v/are assistance to the DRV. If the fighting remained con- 
fined to the Southern part of the DRV and did not threaten ■ 
the viability of the DRV regime, there would probably not 
"be additional Soviet action, though conceivably some Soviet 
T)ersonnel might show up. in advisory capacities, especially 

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if nev7 and sophisticated Soviet eq^uipment were being 
supplied. If the invasion became a general assault on 
the DRV, an overt DRV call for volunteers might ensue 
and be acted on. At this point of course the Chinese 
would enter into the picture too and we are in a complex 
nev/ contingency. In general^ it is hard to visualize 
large numbers of Chinese and Soviet forces (transported 
through China) fighting side by side against us in Viet- 
nam and I would assume that what \ie would have would be 
largely a US landvzar against the DRV-China. 

6. Matters would become even stickier if the US 
offensive led to repeated damage to Soviet- ships in DRV 
ports. (There are roughly eleven Soviet ships in these 
j ports on any one day). The Soviets might arm their 

j vessels and authorize them to fire at US planes. Once 

again, when this point has been reached v/e are in a 
new contingency^ although the basic fact holds that 
I the Soviets are not well situated, geographically 

and logistically, for effective military counter-action 
in the DRV itself. 27/ 

China's expected reactions to these three possible courses 
of action were q.uite different in viev/ of the lov/er level of its economic 
and military support, the existence of ample land LOCs to China, etc. 
Here is how Bundy foresaw Chinese responses: 

I 3* Mining and/or Blockading of Haiphong 

China would probably not regard the loss of Haiphong 
port facilities as critically dangerous to the war effort 
since it could continue to supply North Vietnam- by rail 
and. road and by small ships and lighters. In addition, 
Peking might seek to replace Haiphong as a deep sea 
port, by expanding operations (Chanchiang, Ft. Bayard), " 
which is already serving as an unloading point for 
goods destined for shipment by rail to Forth Vietnam, 
China would be all means make sure that the flow of 
both Soviet and Chinese m,aterial for North Vietnam-- 
' by land and by sea--continued uninterrupted and might 
welcome the additional influence it would gain as the 
remaining main link in North Vietnam's life line. It 
also v/ould probably put at North Vietnam*s disposal as 
many shallow draft vessels as it could possibly spare, 
and assist Hanoi in developing alternate maritime off- 
loading facilities and inland watert-jay routes. At the 
1 ^-^ same tim.e, the Chinese would probably be ready to 

assist in improving North Vietnamese coastal defenses, 
and might provide additional patrol boats, possibly 
including guided missile vessels. 

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1+. All-Out Conventiona.l Borabing of North Vietnam, 
Inducing Hanoi and Haiphong 

China would probably be prepared to provide as 
much logistical support and labor as the North Vietnamese 
might need to keep society functioning in North Viet- . 
nam and to help Hanoi maintain the war effort in the 
South. Peking would probably be ready to increase its 
anti-aircraft artillery contingent in the South, (possibly 
sending SAM batteries), and v/culd probably supply the 
North Vietnamese air force with ]y[IG-19*s from its own 
inventory. Chinese airspace and airfields would be 
made available, as and when necessary, as a refi^ge for. 
North Vietnamese aircraft. There is a strong possibility 
that Chinese pilots in MIG^s with North Vietnamese 
markings would engage US bombers over North Vietnam. 
However, we would anticipate overt Chinese intervention 
only if the scope of the bombing seemed intended to 
destroy North Vietnam as a viable Cominunist state. 

5. US Invasion of North Vietnam 

Chinese reaction would depend on the sca.le of US 
moves, on North Vietnamese intentions and on Peking's 
view of US objectives. If it became evident that we 
were not aiming for a rapid takeover of North Vietnam 
but intended chiefly to hold some territory in southern 
areas to inhibit Hanoi's actions in South Vietnam and to 
force it to quit fighting, we would expect China to 
attempt to deter us from further northward movement and 
to play on our fears of a Sino-US conflict, but not to 
intervene massively in the war. Thus, if req.uested by 
Hanoi, Peking would probably be willing to station infantry- 
north of Hanoi to attach some ground forces to North Viet- 
namese units further south, and to contribute to any 
"volunteer" contingent that North Vietnam might organize. 
At home, China, would probably complement these deterrents 
by various moves ostensibly putting the country on a 
war footing. 

If the North Vietnam.ese, under threat of a full- 
scale invasion, decided to agree to a negotiated settle- 
ment, the Chinese would probably go along. On the other 
hand if the Chinese believed that the US was intent on 
destroying the North Vietnamese regime (either because 
Hanoi insisted on holding out to the end, or because Peking 
chronically expects the worst from the US) , they would 
•probably fear for their own security and intervene on a 
massive scale. 28/ 

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Probably more influential than these State Department 
Views on interi ational communist reactions was a cable from Ambassador 
Thompson in Moscovz offering his personal assessment of the Soviet mood 
and what we might expect from various US decisions. The cable was 
addressed to Under Secretary Katzenbach^ but there is little doubt it 
made its v/ay to the VJhite House in view of Thompson's prestige and the 
importance of his post. For these reasons it is included here in its 


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DE RUEHCR 2933FD 06ll525 


p OII515Z MAR 68 








REF: ST.ATE 122^+^3 









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-2- MOSCOW 2983, FiARGH 1, I968 







INCRE.ASE. , . • . 


■ ■' 


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-3- MOSCOW 2983, MARCH 1, I968 






MS T< 







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General Maxwell Taylor, like Bundy, sought to place the 
alternatives available to the U.S. into some sort of frajnework and to 
package the specific actions and responses to the situation the U.S. 
might take so as to create several viable options for consideration 
by the group. The memo he drafted on alternatives was more important 
finally than the one done by Bundy since Taylor sent a copy of it 
directly to the President in his capacity as Special Military Advisor, 
as well as giving it to the Clifford Group. With his background as a 
military man, past Chairman of the JCS, and former Ambassador to Saigon 
Taylor ^s viev/s carry special weight in any deliberation. His memiO was 
sent to the \feite House even before the DPM the Clifford Group was 
working on and is therefore included in part here. Taylor wisely 
began by reconsidering the objectives of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam^ 
both past and potential. They were, as he saw it, four: 

Alternative Objectives of U.S, Policy in South Viet-Nam 

2, The overall policy alternatives open to the U.S. 
have always been and continue to be four in number. The 
first is the continued pursuit of our present objective 
which has been defined in slightly different, terms but always 
in essentially the same sense by our political leaders. For 
the purpose of this paper, I am taking the statement of 
President Johnson in his speech at Johns Hopkins University 
in April, I965: '^Our objective is the independence of 
South Viet-Nam and its freedom from attack. We want nothing 
for ourselves, only that the people of South Viet-Nam be 
allowed to guide their own country in their own way." 

3- We have sometimes confused the situation by sug- 
gesting that this is not really ovx objective, that we 
have other things in mind such as the defeat of the "War 
of Liberation" technique, the containraent of Red China, 
and a further application of the Truman Doctrine to the 
resistance of aggression. Hov^ever, it is entirely possible 
to have one or more of these collateral objectives at the 
same time since they will be side effects of the attainment 
of the basic objective cited above. 

if. Of the other three possible objectives, one is 
above and-tv/o are below the norm established by the present 
one. We can increase our present objective to total 
military victory, unconditional surrender, and the destruc- 
tion of the Comjnunist Government in North Viet-Nam. 
Alternatively, we can lower our objective to a compromise 
resulting in something less than an independent Viet-Nam 
free from attack or we can drop back further and content 
ourselves v/ith punishing the aggressor to the point that 
v/e can withdraw, feeling -that the "VJar of Liberation" 
techniq.ue has at least been somewhat discredited as a 
■ cheap m.ethod of Communist expansion. 

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5. We should consider changing the objective 
which V7e have been pursuing consistently since 195^ 
only, for the most cogent reasons. There is clearly 
nothing to recciamend trying to do more than vhat v/e are 
now doing at such great cost. To undertake to do less 
is to accept needlessly a serious defeat for which we 
v/ould pay dearly in terms of our world-vzide position of 
leadership, of the political stability of Southeast Asia^ 
and of the credibility of our pledges to friends and 

6. In snimnary, our alternatives are to stay with 
our present objective (stick it out), to raise our 
objective (all out), to scale dov/n our objective (pull 
back)^ or to abandon our objective (pull out). Since 
there is no serious consideration being given at the 
moment to adding to or subtracting from the present 
objective, the discussion in this paper is limited to 
considerations of alternative strategies and programs 
to attain the present objective. 29/ 

)■ ^ With this review of the possible objectives and his own 

statemient of preference, Taylor turned to the possible responses to 
General Westmoreland's troop req.uest and the ramifications of each. 
Here he devoted himself more to trying to develop the multiplicity 
of considerations that needed to be weighed in each instance than to 
passionate advocacy of one or another course. At the ^nd of his 
memo he considered the political implications of various options 
with special attention to the problem of negotiations with Hanoi -- 
a subject with which he had long been preoccupied. He concluded 
by packaging the various military, political and diplomatic courses of 
action into three alternative programs. Here is how he reasoned: 

b. As the purpose of our military operations is 

to bring security to South Viet-Nam behind which the GVH 
can restore order and normalcy of life and, at the same 
time, to convince Hanoi of the impossibility of realizing 
its goal of a Communist -controlled govermnent imposed 
upon South Viet-Nam, we have to consider the political 
effect of our military actions both on Saigon and on 
Hanoi. With regard to Saigon, a refusa3. to reinforce 
at this time will bring discouragem^ent and renewed sus- 
picion of U.S. intentions; in Hanoi, an opposite effect. 
On the other hand, a large reinforcement may lessen the 
sense of urgency animating the Vietnamese Government and 
result in a decrease of effort; in Hanoi, it. may cause them 
to undertake further escalation. 


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c. Our decision on reinforcement inevitably will raise 
the C].uestion of how to relate this action to possible nego- 
tiations. Anything we say or do with regard to negotiations 
causes the sharpest scrutiny of our motives on the part of 
our Vietnamese allies and we should be very careful at this 
time that we do not give them added grounds for suspicion. 
If it appears desirable for us to make a new negotiation 
overture in connection with reinforcement, it will need 
careful preliminary discussion with the GVN authorities. 

d. The following political actions are worth considering 
in connection with our decision on reinforcem^ent : 

(1) A renewed offer of negotiation, possibly 
with a privevte communication that v/e would suspend the 
bombing for a fixed period v/ithout making the time limita- 
tion public if we were assured that productive negotiations 
would start before the end of the period. 

(2) A public announcement that we would adjust 
the bombing of the North to the level of intensity of enemy 
ground action in the South. 

(3) As a prelude to sharply increased bombing 
levels, possibly to include the closing of Haiphong, a 
statement of our intentions made necessary by the enemy 
offensive against the cities and across the frontiers. 

(k) Announcem.ent of the withdrawal of the San 
Antonio formula in view of the heightened level of aggression 
conducted by North Viet-Nam. 

(5) Keep silent. 

The foregoing is merely a tabulation of possible polit- 
ical actions to consider in chossing the military alterna- 
tive- In the end, military and political actions should 
be blended together into an integrated package. 

e. The choice among these political alternatives 
will depend largely on our decision with regard to reinforce- 

I ■ ments for General Westmoreland. Howevei , the present mili- 

tary situation in South Viet-Nam argues strongly against a 
new negotiation effort (d. (l)) and any thought of reducing 
the bombing of the North. If we decide to meet General . 
Westmoreland's request, we could imderline the significance 
of our action by d. (3)« 1^ s-ny case, V7e would appear vzell- 
\ advised to withdraw from the San Antonio formula (d, (U) ). 

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13, From the foregoing considerations, there appear 
to be at least three program packages worth serious con- 
sideration. They follow: 

Package A 

a. No increase of General Westraoreland' s forces 
in South Viet -Nam. 

b- New strategic guidance. 

c. Build-up of Strategic Reserve. 

d. No negotiation initiative. 

e. Withdrawal of San Antonio formula. 

f . Pressure on GYN to do better. 

Package B 

a. Partial acceptance of General Westmoreland's 

b. New strategic guidance. 

c. Build-up of Strategic Reserve. 
_d. No negotiation initiative. 

_e. Withdrawal of Sa.n Antonio formula, 
f. Pressure on GVN to do better. 

Package C 

a. Approval of General Westmoreland's full 
req.uest . 

b. New strategic guidance. 

c. Build-up of Strategic Reserve. 

d. No negotiation initiative. 

e. Withdrawal of San Antonio formula and announce 
ment of intention to close Haiphong. 

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f. Pressuz^e on GTO to do better. 

g. Major effort to rally the homefront. 
i| ■ M. D. T, 30/ 

While these papers were all being written outside the 
Pentagon; the Clifford working roup under the direction of Assistant 
Secretary Warnke had v.^orked feverishly on several succeeding drafts of 
' ' a Mernorandum for the President including various combinations of tabs 

and supporting material. The intent of the group was to produce a memo 
that made a specific recommendation on a course of action rather than 
presenting a nuraber of alternatives with their pros and cons. The process 
required the reconciling of widely divergent views or the exclusion of 
those that were incompatible with the thrust of the recommendation. With 
respect to the war in the South the memo in its late-stage form on March 3 
proposed a sweeping change in U.S, ground strategy based on a decision not 
to substantially increase U.S. forces as General Westmoreland and the 
Chiefs desired. In essence, the draft memo recommended the adoption of 
a strategy of population protection along a "demographic frontier" in 
South Vietnam and the abandonment of General Westmoreland's hitherto 
sacrosanct large unit "search and destroy" operations. The portion of 
■ the paper devoted to the air war recommended no escalation above current 
( t levels. It specifically turned back proposals for reducing the Hanoi- 

j Haaphong restricted perim^eterSj closing Haiphong harbor, and bombing 

population centers as all likely to be unproductive or worse. The section 
in question argued as follows: 



The bombing of North Vietnami v/as undertaken to limit 
and/or make more difficult the infiltration of men and 
supplies in the South, to show them they would have to 
pay a price for their continued aggression and to raise 
the morale in South Vietnam, The last two purposes 
obviously have been achieved. 

It has become abundantly clear that no level of 
bombing can prevent the North Vietnamese from supplying 
the necessary forces and materiel necessary to maintain 
their mil:5tary operations in the South. The recent Tet 
offensive has shown that the bombing cannot even prevent 
a significant increase in these military operations, at 
' least on an intermittent basis. 

The shrinking of the circles around Hanoi and 
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in supplying the NVA/vC forces. It will not destroy their- 
capability to support their present level of military 
activity. Greater concentration on the infiltration routes 
in Laos and in the area immediately North of the DMZ might 
prove effective from the standpoint of interdiction. 

Strikes within 10 miles of the center of Hanoi and 
within four miles of the center of Haiphong have req.uired 
initial approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secre- 
taries of State and Defense, and, finally, the President, 
This req.uirement has enabled the highest level of govern- 
ment to maintain some control over the attacks against 
targets located in the populous and most politically 
sensitive areas of North Vietnam. Other than the Haiphong 
Port, no single target within these areas has any appreci- 
able significance for North Vietnam's ability to supply 
men and material to the South. If these areas of control 
were reduced to circles 'having a radii of 3 miles from the 
center of Hanoi and I-I/2 miles of the center of Haiphong, 
some minor fixed targets not previously authorized would be 
released for strike. More significant is the fact that the 
lines of communication lying v;ithin the area previously 
req.uiring Washington approval would be open for attack by 
shrinking the control areas around Ha^noi and Haiphong. The 
question would simply be whether it is worth the increase in 
airplane and pilot losses to attack these lines of communica- 
tion in the most heavily defended part of North Vietnam 
where our airplane loss ratio is highest. 

The remaining issue on interdiction of supplies has to 
do v/ith the closing of the Port of Haiphong. Although this 
is the route by x^/hich some 80'^^ of North Vietnamese imports 
come into the country, it is not the point of entry for most 
of the military supplies and ammunition. These materials 
predominantly enter via the rail routes from China. 

Moreover, if the Port of Haiphong were to be closed 
effectively, the supplies that now enter Haiphong could, 
albeit with considerable difficulty, arrive either over 
the land routes or by lighterage, which has been so suc- 
cessful in the continued POL supply. Under these circum- 
stances, the closing of Haiphong Port would not prevent 
the continued supply of sufficient materials to maintain 
North Vietnamese military operations in the South. 

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Accordingly, the only purpose of intensification of the 
bombing campaign in the North and the addition of further 
targets would be to endeavor to break the will of the North 
Vietnamese leaders. CIA forecasts indicate little if any 
chance that this would result even from a protracted bombing 
campaign directed at population centers. 

A change in our bombing policy to include deliberate 
' strikes on population centers and attacks on the agricultural 
population through the destruction of dikes would further 
alienate domestic and foreign sentiment and might well lose 
us the support of those European countries which now support 
our effort in Vietnam. It could cost us Australian and 
New Zealand participation in the fighting. 

Although the North Vietnamese do not mark the camps 
where American prisoners are kept or reveal their locations, 
we know from intelligence sources that most of these facili- 
ties are located in or near Hanoi. Our intelligence also 
indicates that many more than the approximately 200 pilots 
officially classified by us as prisoners of war may, in 
fact, be held by North Vietnam in these cam,ps. On the 
basis of the debriefing of the three pilots recently 
released by Hanoi, we were able to identify over hO addi- 
tional American prisoners despite the fact that they 
were kept in relative isolation. Heavy and indiscriminate 
attacks in the Hanoi area would jeopardize the lives of 
these prisoners and alarm their wives and parents into 
vocal opposition. Reprisals could be taken against them 
and the idea of war crimes trials would find considerable 
acceptance in countries outside the Communist bloc. 

Finally, the steady and accelerating bombing of the 
North has not brought North Vietnam closer to any real 
move toward peace. Apprehensions. about bombing attacks 
that would destroy Hanoi and Haiphong may at some time 
help move them toward productive negotiations. Actual 
destruction of these areas would eliminate a threat 
that could influence them to seek a political'' settlement 
on terms acceptable to us. 3l/ 

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The Clifford Group principals convened on the afternoon 
of Sunday, March 3? to consider this draft mero. Mr, Warnke read the. 
memo, completed only shortly "before the meeting^ to the assembled 
group. The ensuing discussion apparently produced a consensus that 
abandoning the initiative completely as the draft m.emo seemed to imply 
could leave allied forces and the South Vietnajnese cities themselves 
more, not less, vulnerable. With respect to the bombing, opinion was 
sharply divided. General Wheeler advocated the reduction of the 
restricted zones around Hanoi and Haiphong and an expansion of naval 
activity against Horth Vietnam, The Chiefs had apparently abandoned 
for the moment efforts to secure authority for mining the approaches 
to the ports, although this alternative v/as considered in the State 
drafts. ISA on the other hand sharply opposed any expansion of the 
air war but particularly in Route Packages 6A and 6b which a recent 
Systems Analysis study had shown to be especially unproductive as an 
anti-infiltration measure. 32/ As for negotiations, all were agreed 
that not much could be expected in the near future from- Hanoi and that 
there was no reason to modify the current U.S. position. The conclusion 
^ of the long meeting was to request Warnke 's working group to write an 

I - entirely nev/ draft memo for the President that: (a) dealt only with 

the troop num.bers issue, recommending only a modest increase; (b) called 
.^. for more emphasis on the RWAF contribution to the war effort; (c) called 

for a study of possible nevz strategic guidance; (d) recorrimended against 
any new initiative on negotiations; and (e) acknov/ledged the split in 
opinion about bombing policy by including papers from both sides. Thus, 
after five days of exhausting work, the working group started over again 
and produced a completely fresh draft for the follovdng day. 

3. The March k DBA 

The new DPt^ was completed on Monday and circulated for 
comment but later transmitted to the Pi^esident without change. by 
Secretary Clifford. In its final form this DPM represented the recom- 
mendations of the Clifford Group. The main proposals of the memo 
were those mentioned above. The specific language of the cover memo 
with respect to bcmibing and negotiations was the following: 

- « 

5. No nevr peace initiative on Vietnam. Re -statement 
of our terms for peace and certain lim.ited diplomatic actions 
to draroatize Laos and to focus attention on the total threat 
to Southeast Asia. Details in Tab E. 

6. A general decision on bombing policy, not excluding 
future change, but adeq.uate to form a basis for discussion 
with the Congress on this key aspect. Here your advisers 
are divided: . . 

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a. General Wieeler and others would advocate a . 
substantial extension of targets and authority in and 
near Hanoi and Haiphong, mining of Haiphong, and naval 
gunfire up to a Chinese Buffer Zone; 

b. Others would advocate a seasonal step-up 
through the spring, but without these added elements. 3^3/ 

The two detailed tabs to the memo of special interest to 
this study v/ere "e" and "F" dealing with negotiations and bombing respeC' 
tively. The negotiations paper was written by Bundy and V7as a lengthy 
argument for nothing we had not already done. Its central message 
was contained in a few paragraphs near the middle of the paper: 

As to our conditions for stopping the bombing and 
entering into ts-lks, v/e continue to believe that the San 
Antonio formula is "rock bottom." The South Vietnamese 
are in fact talking about much stiff er conditions, such 
as stopping the infiltration entirely. Any move by us 
to modify the San Antonio formula downward would be extremely 
disturbing in South Vietnam, and would have no significant 
offsetting gains in US public opinion or in key third 
countries. On the contrary, we should continue to take the 
line that the San Antonio formula laid out conditions under 
which there was a reasonable prospect that talks would get 
somewhere and be conducted in good faith. Hanoi's m.ajor 
offensive has injected a new factor, in vzhich v^e are bound 
to conclude that there is no such prospect for the present. 

Moreover, we should at the appropriate tim^e -- 
probably not in a major statement, but rather in response 
to a question -- make the point that "nonrtal" infiltration 
of men and equipment from the North cannot mean the much 
increased levels that have prevailed since October. We 
do not need to define exactly what we would mean by 
"normal" but we should make clear that we do not mean the 
levels since San Antonio was set out. 

Apart from this point on our public posture, V7e should 
be prepared -- in the unlikely event that Hanoi m.akes an 
affirmative noise on the "no advantage" assumption -- go 
go back at them through some channel anl make this same 
point quite explicit. 

In short, our public posture a-nd our private actions 
should be designed to: 


a. Maintain San Antonio and our general public 
willingness for negotiations. 


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b. Add this new and justified interpretation 
of San Antonio so that in fact we V70uld not be put on 
the spot Lver the next 2-^ months. 

c. Keep sufficient flexibility so that, if the 
situation should improve, we could move during the summer 
if we then judged it wise. 

This position represented the widely held belief at the time that the 
question of negotiations, in spite of continuing contacts through third 
parties^ was no less moribund than it had been at any time in the 
previous year. The San Antonio formula was regarded as eminently 
reasonable and DRV failure to respond to it v/as interpreted as evidence 
of their general disinterest in negotiations at. the time. In that 
context, and in the wake of the ferocious attacks in South Vietnam, new 
initiatives could only be construed by Hanoi as evidence of allied 
weakness. Hence, no new offers were recommiended. 

As already noted, the Clifford Group was split on the 
issue of bombing policy, therefore, two papers on the subject vzere 
included. The first had been written by the Joint Staff and was sub- 
mitted by General V/heeler. It advocated reduction of the Hanoi/Haiphong 
y perimeters, the extension of naval operations and authority to use 

' ' . ,- sea-based surface-to-air missiles against North Vietnamese MIGs. The 

cover memo for this tab noted that: "in addition General Vfceeler vjould 
favor action to close the Port of Haiphong through mining or otherwise. 
Since this matter has been repeatedly presented to the President, 
General VJlieeler has not added a specific paper on this, proposal." ^5/ 
The General had apparently gotten the word that closing the ports just 
wasn't an action the President was going to consider, even in this 
"comprehensive" review. The JCS bombing paper began with a discussion 
of the history of the air war and offered some explanations for its 
seeming failure to date: 

1. The air campaign against North Vietnam is nov; 
entering the fourth year of operations. Only d^oring the 
latter part of the past favorable weather season of April 
through October 1967, hov/ever, has a significant weight 
of effort been applied against the major target systems, 
iraring this period, even though hampered by continuous and 
temporarily imposed constraints, the air campaign made a 
marked imoact on the capability of North Vietnam to prose- 
cute the war. Unfortunately, this im^pact was rapidly 
overcome. The constraints on operations and the change 
in the monsoon weather provided North Vietnam with numerous 
opportunities to recuperate from, the effects of the air 
strikes. Facilities were rebuilt and reconstituted and 
dispersal of the massive material aid from comimunist 
-countries continued. 

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2. There is a distinct difference betv/een the North 
Vietnam that existed in early I965 and the North Vietnam 
of today. The difference is a direct result of the material 
aid received from external sources and the ability to 
accommodate to limited and sporadic air strikes. The Hanoi 
regime throughout the air campaign has not shown a change 

" " in national will^ but outwardly displa.ys a determination to 

continue the war. The viability of the North Vietnam mili- 
tary posture results from the availability of adeq.uate 
assets received from communist countries which permits 

I defense of the homeland and support of insurgency in the 

South. 36/ 


To make the air campaign effective in its objectives in the months ahea^d, 
i the Chiefs recommiended modification of the existing regulations. The 

" ■ campaign they had in mind and the changes in present policy required for 
! it were as follows : 


if. A coordinated and sustained air campaign could 
hamper severely the North Vietnam war effort and the 
continued support of aggression throughout Southeast 
Asia. An integrated interdiction campaign should be 
undertaken against the road, rail and waterway lines 
of communication with the objective of isolating the 
logistics base of Hanoi and Hsdphong from each other and 
from the rest of North Vietnam. To achieve this objective, 
the following tasks must be performed employing a properly 
balanced weight of effort: 

a. Destroy war supporting facilities as well as 
those producing items vital to the economy, 

b. Attack enemy defenses in order to protect 
our strike forces, destroy enemy gun crews and weapons, 
and force the expenditure of munitions. 

c. Conduct air attacks throughout as large an 
area and as continuously as possible in order to destroy 
lines of communication targets and associated- facilities, 
dispersed material and supplies and to exert maxim.ijim 
suppression of normal activities because of the threat. 


d. Attack and destroy railroa.d rolling stock, 
vehicles and waterborne logistics craft throughout as 

large an area as possible, permitting minimum sanctuaries. 


5, Targeting criteria for the effective accomplish- 
ment of a systematic air campaign would continue to 
■nreclude the attack of population as a target, but accept 

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greater risks of civilian casualties in order to achieve 
the stated objective. The initial changes in operating 
authorities necessary to the initiation of an effective 
air campaign are: 

a. Delete the 30/lOm Hanoi Restricted/Prohibited 
Area and establish a. 3M4 Hanoi Control Area (Map, TAB ). 

b. Delete the 10/UM4 Haiphong Restricted/pro- 
hibited Area and establish a 1,5NM Haiphong Control Area 
(Map, TAB ). 

c- Delete the Special Northeast Coastal Armed 
Reconnaissance Area. 37 / 

As explanations of how the removal of these restrictions 
would achieve the desired results, the Chiefs gave the following arguments 

6. The present Restricted Areas around Hanoi and 
Haiphong have existed since 1965- The Prohibited Areas 
vzere created in December 3,966. Nuinerous strikes, however , 
have been permitted in these areas over the past two 
and one-half years, e.g., dispersed POL, SAM and AAA sites, 
SAM support facilities, armed reconnaissance of selected 
LOC and attacks of LOC associated targets, and attack of 
approved fixed targets. The major political req.uirements 
for having established control areas in the vicinity of 
Hanoi and Haiphong are to provide a measure of control of 
the intensity of effort applied in consonance with the 
national policy of graduated pressures and to assist in 
keeping civilian casualties to a minimum consistent with 
the importance of the target. These req^uirements can still 
be satisfied in the control areas are reduced to 3KM and 
I.5KM around Hanoi and Haiphong, respectively. These new 
control areas will contain the population centers, but 
permit operational commanders the necessary flexibility 
to attack secondary, as well as primary, lines of com- 
munication to preclude NVN from accomjnodating to the 
interdiction of major routes. A reduction of " the control 
areas would expose approximately lUO additional miles of 
prim.ary road, rail and v/atervzay lines of communication to 
armed rec:)nnaissance, as well as hundreds of miles of 
secondary lines of communication, dependent upon WH reactions 
and usage. Additional military targets would automatically 
become authorized for air strikes under an:iied reconnaissance 
0T3erating authorities. This would broaden *the target base, 
spread the defenses, and thus add to the ciomulative effects 
of the interdiction program as well as reducing risk of 

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aircraft loss. At the present time^ the' air defense 
threat throughout all of the northeast area of NVN is 
fonnidablL;. It Is not envisioned that aircraft will 
conduct classifical low level armed reconnaissance up 
and down the nev/ly exposed lines of communication until 
the air defense threat is fairly well neutralised. 
Attacks of LOG or LOG associated targets and moving 
targets in these areas will continue to be conducted 
for the time being using dive bombing, or "fixed target" . 
tactics as is currently employed throughout the heavily 
defended northeast. Consequently, the risk to aircraft 
and crews will not be increased. In fact these new 
operating areas should assist in decreasing the risks. 
New targets within the control areas will continue to 
be approved in Washington. 

7* There lave been repeated and reliable intelligence 
reports that indicate civilians not engaged in essential 
war supporting activities have been evacuated from the 
cities of Hanoi and Haiphong. Photographic intelligence, 
particularly of Haiphong, clearly shows that materials of 
war are stockpiled in all open storage areas and along 
^"^^ • the streets throughout almost one-half of the city. 

Rather than an area for urban living, the city has become 
an armed camp and a large logistics storage base. Con- 
seq.uently, air strikes in and around these cities endanger 
personnel primarily engaged directly or indirectly in 
support of the war effort. 

8. The special coastal armed reconnaissance area 
in the Northeast has limited attacks on NVN craft to those 
within 3 M of the NVN coast or coastal islands. This 
constraint has provided another sanctuary to assist NVN 
in accommodating to the Interdiction effort. To preclude 
endangering foreign shipping the requirement is imposed 
- . on strike forces to ensure positive identification prior 
to attack. Identification can be accomplished beyond 
an arbitrary 3 ^ line as well as within it, and deny 
the enemy a privileged area. 38 / 

To complement the expanded strike program lift-ing these restrictions 
envisao-ed, the Chiefs asked for the expansioi of the SEA DRAGON naval 
ii activities against coastal water traffic from 20^ to the Chinese border, 

" " the'^'eby opening up the possibility of attacks against some of the 

ll traffic moving supplies in and near the ports. Furthermore they desired 

'' . ermisslon to use sea-based SAMs, particularly the 100-mlle range TALOS, 

r ainst I-lIGs north of 20*^. In concluding their discussion of the need 

^ these new authorizations, the Chiefs were careful to hedge about 

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what results might be expected immediately. It was pointed out that 
adverse weather would continue to inhibit operations for several months 
and partially cffset the new measures, 

13- Authorization to conduct a campaign against North 
Vietnam, employing air and naval forces under the proposed 
operating authorities should have a significant impact on 
the ability of N7N to continue to prosecute insurgency. 
It is not anticipated that this impact will be immediately 
apparent* Unfavorable weather;, while partially offset by 
the expanded use of naval forces ^ will preclude air strike 
forces from applying the desired pressures at the most 
advantageous time and place. The cumulative effects of 
the air strikes and naval bombardment will gradually 
increase to significant proportions as erosion of the 
distribution system progresses. In addition to the mater- 
ial effects against NVN's capability to wage war, approval 
of the proposed operating authorities and execution of the 
campaign, envisioned will signal to NVN and the remainder 
of the v/orld the continued US resolve and determination to 
achieve oui^ objectives in Southeast Asia. 39/ 

The ISA m.emo on bombing policy, drafted in Warnke's own 
office, tersely and emphatically rejected all of these JCS recominendations 
for expanding the air war, including mining the harbor approaches. The 
case against further extension of the bombing v/as m^ade as follows: 

The Cam.paign Against North Vietnam: A Different View 


Bom-bing Policy 

It is clear from the TET offensive that the air attack 
on the North and the interdiction campaign in Laos have not 
been successf^al in putting a low enough ceiling on infiltra- 
tion of men and materials from the North to the South to 
prevent such a level of enemy action. VJe do not see the 
possibility of a cam.paign which could do more than make 
the enemy task more difficult. Bombing in Route Packages 6k 
and 6b is therefore primarily a political tool. 

The J.C.S. recommend a substantial reduction in previous 
political control over the attacks in the Haiphong and 
Hanoi areas. Except for General IVheeler, we do not recom- 
■ mend such a reduction. 

It is not until May that more than fqur good* bombing 
days per month can be anticipated. The q.uestion arises as 


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to how best to use those opportunities. We "believe the 
political value of the attacks should be optimized. We ■ 
believe tie political value of the attacks should be 
optimized. The effective destruction of clearly important 
military and economic targets without excessive popu- 
lation damage would seem indicated. Excessive losses in 
relation to results vrould have an adverse political effect. 
The air fields (perhaps including Gia Lam) would meet 
the criteria. The Hanoi power plant would probably meet 
the criteria. There are few other targets of sufficient 
importance 5 not already authorized^ to do so. 

In particular, this view opposes the proposal to 
define only 3-mile and l-l/2-mile "closed areas" around 
Ha.noi and Haiphong respectively. Individual targets 
within Hanoi and Haiphong and between the 10- and 3-mile 
circles for Hanoi and the h and 1-1/2 mile-circles for 
Haiphong, should be considered on a case-by-case basis 
in accordance with the above criteria. However, blanket 
authority for operations up to the 3-^-^^^ ^-nd l-l/2-mile 
circles, respectively, appears to take in only small 
targets hving no appreciable military significance; on 
the other hand^ experience has indicated that systematic 
operations particularly against road and rail routes 
simply and slightly to the repair burdens, v^hile at the 
same time involving substantial civilian casualties in 
the m.any suburban civilian areas located along these routes. 

In addition, a picture of systematic and daily bombing 
this close to Hanoi and Haiphong seems to us to run sig- 
nificant risks of major adverse reactions in key third 
nations. There is certainly some kind of "flash point" 
in the ability of the British Government to maintain its 
support for our position, and we believe this "flash 
point" might well be crossed by the proposed operations, 
in contrast to operations against specified targets of 
the type that have been carried out in the Hanoi and 
Haiphong areas in the past. 

Mining of Haiphong . . ' 

Vfe believe it to be agreed that substantial araounts 
of military-related supplies move through the Port of 
Haiphong at present. Nevertheless, it is also agreed 
that this flow of supplies could be made up through far 
greater use of the road and rail lines running through 
China, and through lightering and other emergency techniq_ues 

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at H3.iphong and other ports. In other words, even from a 
military standpoint the effect of closing the Port of 
Haiphong would be to impose an impediment only for a period 
of time, and to add to difficulties which Hanoi has shown 
in the past it can overcome. Politically, moreover, closing 
the Port of Haiphong continues to raise a serious q_uestion 
of Soviet reaction. Ambassador Thompson, Governor Harriman, 
and others believe that the Soviets would be compelled to 
react in some manner -- at a minimum through the use of 
minesweepers and possibly through protective naval action 
of some sort. Again, we continue to believe that there 
is some kind of "flash point" both in terms of these likely 
actions and their implications for our relation with the 
Soviets in other matters, and for such more remote — but 
not inconceivable -- possibilities as Soviet compensating 
pressure elsewhere, for example against Berlin. Even a 
small risk of a significant confrontation with the Soviets 
must be given major weight against the limited military 
gains anticipated from this action. 

Finally, by throvang the budden of supply onto the 
rail and road lines through China, the mining of Haiphong 
would tend to increase Chinese leverage in Hanoi and would 
force the Soviets and the Chinese to work out cooperative 
arrangements for their nev; and enlarged transit. We do 
not believe this would truly drive the Soviets and Chinese 
together, but it vzould force them to take a wider range of 
comjnon positions that would certainly not be favorable to 
our basic interests. 

Expanded Naval Operations (SEA DMC0H)_ 

These operations, expanded north along the coast to 
Haiphong and to other port areas, would include provision 
for avoiding ocean-going ships, while hitting coast-wise 
shipping assumed to be North Vietnamese. 

We believe this distinction will not be easy to apply 
without error, and that therefore the course of action 
involves substantial risks of serious complications with 
Chinese a^d other shipping. In view of the extensive 
measures already authorized further south, we doubt if 
the gains to be achieved would warrant these risks. 

.qnrface-to-A ir Missiles 

As in the past, we believe this action would involve 
^ substantial risk of triggering some new form of North 

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Vietnamese military action against the ships involved. 
Moreover 5 r.nother factor is whether we can be fully 
certain of target identification. The balance on this 
one is extremely close ^ but we continue to question 
whether expected gains would counter-balance the risks, koj 

It is interesting that the entire discussion of bombing on 
both sides in the DRVI is devoted to various kinds of escalation. The pro- 
posal that was eventually to be adopted, namely cutting back the bombing 
to the- panhandle only, was not even mentioned, nor does it appear in any 
of the other drafts or papers rela^ted to the Clifford Group *s v7ork. The 
fact may be misleading, however, since it apparently was one of the 
principle ideas being discussed and considered in the forums at various 
levels. It is hard to second-guess the motivation of a Secretary of 
Defense, but, since it is widely believed that Clifford personally advocated 
this idea to the President, he may well have decided that fully countering 
the JCS recommendations for escalation was sufficient for the formal DPM. 
To have raised the idea of constricting the bombing below the 19th or 20th 
parallel in the memo to the President v^ould have generalized the knowledge 
of such a siiggestion and invited its sharp, full and criticism by 
the JCS and other opponents of a bombing halt. \^atever Clifford's reasons, 
the memo did not contain the proposal that was to be the main focus of the 
continuing debates in March and would eventually be endorsed by the President 

C- The President Weighs the Decision 

1. More Meetings and More Alternatives 

The idea of a partial bombing halt was not new within the 
Administration. It had been discussed in some form or other as a possible 
alternative at various times for more than a year, (in the DM of May 20, 
1967, McNamara had proposed the idea to the President.) It was 
brought up anew early in the Clifford Group deliberations and, v/hile not 
adopted in the final report, became the main alternative under considera- 
tion in the continuing meetings of the various groups that had been fonned 
for the Clifford exercise. As indicated previously. Secretary Clifford 
reportedly suggested personally to the President the idea of cutting back 
the bombing to the North Vietnamese panhandle. The first appearance of 
the idea in the documents in March is in a note from Clifford to VJheeler 
on the 5th transmitting for the latter 's exclusive "information" a pro- 
posed "statement" drafted by Secretary Rusk. The statement, which was 
p-iven only the status of a "suggestion" and therefore needed to be closely 
held announced the suspension of the bombing of North Vietnam except in 
the "area associated with the battle zone." It was presumably intended 
for Presidential delivery. Attached to the draft statement, which shows 
■Rusk him.self as the draftee, was a list of explanatory reasons and condi- 
tions for its adoption. Rusk noted that bad weather in northern North 

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Vietnam in the next few months would severely hamper operations around 
Hanoi and Haiphong in any event and the proposal did not, therefore, 
constitute a serious degradation of our military position. It was to 
be understood that in the event of any major enemy initiative in the south, 
either against Khe Sanh or the cities, the bombing would be resumed. 
Further 5 Rusk did not v/ant a m.ajor diplomatic effort mounted to start peace 
talks. He preferred to let the action speak for itself and await Hanoi's 
reaction. Finally, he noted that the area still open to bombing v;ould include 
I everything up to and including Vinh (just belov7 19 ) and there would be no 

limite-tions on attacks in that zone. kl / Clifford's views of the proposal 
and its explanation do not appea^r in his note. It can be inferred, hov/ever, 
that he endorsed the idea. In any case, by the middle of March the question 
of a partial bombing halt became the dominant air war alternative under 
consideration in meetings at State and Defense. It is possible that the 
President had already indicated to Clifford and Rusk enough approval of the 
idea to have focused the further deliberative efforts of his key advisors 
on it. 

On March 8, Bundy sent a TS-NODIS memo to CIA Director Helms 
requesting a CIA evaluation of four different bombing options and troop 
deployment packages, none of v/hich, however, included even a partial bombing 
halt. Indicating that he had consulted with Secretary Rusk and Walt Rostow 
before making his request, he noted the CIA papers already discussed in this 
study but expressed a need for one overall smnmary paper. The options he 
wanted evaluated were: 

A. An early announcement of reinforcements on the order 
of 25,000 men, coupled with reserve calls and other measures 
adequate to make another 753 000 men available for deployment 
by the end of the year if required and later decided. The 
bombing would be stepped up as the weather im,proved, and would 
include some new targets, but would not include the mining of 
Haiphong or major urban attacks in Hanoi and Haiphong. 

B- A similar announcement of inmaediate reinforcement 
action, coupled with greater actions than in A to raise our 
total force strength, making possible additional reinforce- 
ments of roughly 175^000 men before the end of I968. Bombing 
program as in A- 

0. Option A plus mining of Haiphong and/or significantly 

intensified bombing of urban targets in Hanoi and Haiphong areas. 

D. Option B plus an intensified bombing program and/or 
mining of Haiphong. k2/ 

Tn addition to an assessment of likely DRV reactions, he wanted to know 
— hat could be expected from the* Chinese and the Soviets under each option, 

also noted that, "At this stage, none of us knows what the timing of 

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the decision-making will "be. I think this again argued for a CIA-only 
paper at the outset, to be completed perhaps by next Wednesday night 
/March 137-"ii3/ 

A more complicated draft memo to CIA asking for a reviev; 
of various bombing alternatives was prepared at about the same time in 
ISA, but apparently not sent. It contained twelve highly specific different 
bombing alternatives, including three different bombing reduction or halt 
options: (l) a concentration of bombing in Route Packages 1, 2 and 3 with 
only 5^ in the extreme north; (2) a complete halt over North Vietnam; and 
(3) a complete halt over both North Vietnam and Laos, kkf No particular 
attention was focused on a partial halt, again indicating that knowledge 
of the proposal was being restricted to the itomediate circle of Presidential 
advisors. Presumably the CIA did prepare a memo in response to Bundy's 
req.uest, but it does not appear in the available material. 

Meanwhile, a separate set of escalatory options had been pro- 
posed to Mr. Nitze by Air Force Secretary Brown on March k in response to 
the latter 's February 28 request, k^/ Brown's view vzas that apart from 
the various ground strategy alternatives, there were also a number of ways 
the air war, both north and south, could be expanded to meet the changed 
situation after The three alternatives he suggested were: 

1. First, actions against North Vietnam could be intensi- 
fied by bombing of remaining important targets, and/or neutraliza- 
tion of the port of Haiphong by bombing and mining. 

2.. Second, air actions could be intensified in the 
adjoining panhandle areas of liaos/NVN. 

3. Third, a change to the basic strategy in. SVN is 
examined, in which increased air actions in SVN are sub- 
stituted for increased ground forces, hG/ 

Brown appraised the relative advantages of the various proposed campaigns 
in this way: • . 

Intensification of air actions against NVN would be aimed 
at forcing the enemy to the conference table or choking off 
imports to NVN to an extent which would make their level of ' 
effort in SVN insupportable. The second and third campaigns, 
individually or together, are more limited in aim. It 
appears likely that, given adequate sortie capability, the 
greatest adverse effect on the enemy would result from a 
plan which simiUltaneously employed all three campaigns. V7/ 

Under program #1, Brown envisaged the elimination of virtually all the 
constraints under which the bombing then operated and an aggressive attack 

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on North Vietnamese resources, import capability and population centers 
along the lines of proposals from CINCPAC: 

The present restrictions on "bombing NVN would be lifted 
so as to permit bombing of military targets without the present 
scrupulous concern for collateral civilian damage and casu- 
' alties. The following targets systems would be emphasized: 

1. Military control points ^ military headquarters^ 
' storage facilities, government control centers, and such 

; population centers as are known to harbor dispersed materiel 

! and vehicles, 


2. The Ports of Haiphong, Hon Gai and Cam Pha, by 

a combination of mining and bombing. This would be designed 
to force over-the-beach delivery of seaborne imports which 
would require shipping to remain off the coast in unsheltered 
waters, thereby restricting operations to periods of relative 
calm seas. 

3- Over-the-beach deliveries by bombing and possibly 


h. Intensified bombing attacks on the northeast 
and northv/est rail lines and other road LOCs contiguous to the ' 

NVN-Chicom border, k8/ 

The objective to be achieved by this expanded campaign was described in 
the succeeding paragraph: 

The aims of this alternative campaign would be to erode 
the V7ill of the population by exposing a wider area of IWN to 
casualties and destruction; to reduce maritime imports by 
closing the major ports, and by attacking the resulting over-the- 
beach deliveries; to bring about a saturation of remaining im.port 
arteries, thereby creating greater target densities; and to 
disrupt the movement of supplies into SVN by attacking mili- 
tary control points and storage facilities wherever located. 
The hopeful assumption is that North Vietnain would then be 
forced to decide on a priority of imports --war -making goods 
vs. life-supporting goods --and that it would choose the 
latter. in turn would attenuate its ability to supply 
forces in SVN and would thus slov/ down the tempo of the 
fighting there. In time, these cumulative pressures would 
be expected to bring I^IVN to negotiation of a compromise 
settlement, or to abandonment of the fight in SVN. k^f 

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The Soviet and Chinese reactions to these measures v/ere expected to be 
confined to increased aidj some "volunteers" and an overall worsening 
of relations with the U.S, All these vrere regarded as manageable if not 
desirable. But in evaluating the likely results of such a bombing 
program. Brown was forced to admit that: 

Barring that effect, I would Judge that Campaign //l 
can, in military terms, limit SVN actions by WN near 
their pre-Tet level, and below the level of February I968. 
This campaign cannot be demonstrated quantitatively to be 
likely to reduce IWN capability in SVN substantially below the 
1967 level, but in view of possible disruption of North Viet- 
namese distribution capability around Hanoi and Haiphong, such 
an effect could take place. The campaign would take place 
beginning in March, and should conceivably have its maximium 
effect by October. During the follov^ing season of poor 
weather, the North Vietnamese transportation system v^ould begin 
to be reconstituted. 

The other possible impact is on the North Vietnam^ese will 
to continue the war. Clearly their society would be under 
even greater stress than it is now. But so long as they have 
the promise of continued Soviet and Chinese material support, 
and substantial prospect of stalemate or better in SVN, the 
North Vietnamese government is likely to be willing to undergo 
these hardships. Its control over the populace will remain 
good enough so that the latter v/ill have no choice but to do 
so. 50/ 

The other two programs were regarded as having even less 
potential for inhibiting comjnunist activity in the south. Program #2 
involved simply a greatly intensified program of strikes in the panhandle 
areas of North Vietnam and Laos, while Program #3 proposed the substantial 
relocation of South Vietnamese population into secure zones and the desig- 
nation of the remaining cleared areas as "free strike" regions for intensi- 
fied air attack. Brown's three alternatives apparently did not get wide 
attention, however, and were never considered as major proposals within 
the inner circle of Presidential advisors. Nevertheless, the fact that 
they were svipported by over fifty pages of detailed analysis done by the 
Air Staff is a reflection of the importance everyone attached to the reassess 
ment going on vnthin the Administration. 

^' Of the other major advisors, Katzenbach had participated 
to a limited degree in the Clifford Group work and reportedly was opposed 
to the subsequent proposal for a partial suspension because he felt that 
bombing halt was a trump card that conoid be used only once and should 
not be wasted when the prospects for a positive North Vietnamese response 
on negotiations seemed so poor.. He reportedly hoped to convince the 

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President to call a complete halt to the air war later in the spring ' 
when prospects for peace looked better and when the threat to Khe 
Sanh had heen eliminated. _5l/ Walt Rostow, the President's personal 
advisor on national security matters, apparently resisted all sug- 
gestions for a restriction of the "bombing, preferring to keep the 
pressure on the North Vietnajnese for a response to the San Antonio 
formula. These various opinions represented the principal advice 
the President was receiving from his staff within the Administration. 
Other advice from outside, both invited and uninvited, also played a 
part in the final decision. 

2. The Kex-f Hampsh ire Primary 

In the days immediately following the early March delibera- 
tions, the President, toiling over the most difficult decision of his 
career, was faced with another problem of great magnitude -- how to 
handle the public reaction to Tet and the dvrindling public support for 
his war policies. From this point of view probably the most difficult 
week of the Johnson Presidency began on March 10 when the New York 
Times broke the story of General VJestmoreland's 206,000 man troop request 
in banner headlines. S2 / The story was a collaborative effort by 
four reporters of national reputation and had the kind of detail to give 
it the ring of authenticity to the reading public. In fact, it was very 
close to the truth in its account of the proposal from MAGV and the 
debate going on within the Administration. The story was promptly 
picked up by other newspapers and by day's end had reached from one end 
of the country to the other. The President was reportedly furious at 
this leak which amounted to a flagrant and dangerous compromise of 
security. Later in the month an investigation v;-as conducted to cut down 
on the possibility of such leaks in the future. 

The follovring day, March 11, Secretary Rusk went before 
Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Comjaittee for the first time in 
tv70 years for nationally televised hearings on U.S. war policy. In 
sessions that lasted late that Monday and continiied on Tuesday, the 
Secretary was subjected to sharp questioning by virtually every member. 
While he confirmed the fact of an "A to Z" policy review within the 
Administration, he found himself repeatedly forced to ansv^er questions 
obliquely or not at all to avoid compromising the President. These 
trying two days of testimony by Secretary RuLk was completed only hours 
before the results from the New Hampshire primary began to come in. 
*ro the shock and consternation of official Washington, the President 
had defeated his upstart challenger, Eugene McCarthy, who had based 
his campaign on a halt in the bombing and an end to the vrar, by only 
the slenderest of margins. (in fact, when the write-in vote vras finally 
tabulated later that week, McCarthy had actually obtained a slight 
plurality over the President in the popular vote.) The reaction across 


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the country was electric. It was clear that Lyndon Johnson, the master 
politician, had been successfully challenged, not by an attractive and 
appealing alternative vote-getter, but by a candidate who had been able 
to mobilize and focus all the discontent and disillusionment about the 
war. National politics in the election year I968 would not be the same 

Critics of the President's policies in Vietnajtn in both parties were 
buoyed by the New Hampshire results. But for Senator Robert Kennedy 
they posed a particularly acute dilemma. VJith the President's vulner- 
ability on Vietnam now demonstrated, should Kennedy, his premier political 
opponent on this and other issues, now throvr his hat in the ring? After 
four days of huddling with his advisers, and first informing both the 
President and Senator McCarthy, Kennedy announced his candidacy on March I6 
For President Johnson, the threat vms now real. McCarthy, even in the 
flush of a New Hampshire victory, could not reasonably expect to unseat 
the incumbent President. But Kennedy was another matter. The President 
now faced the prospect of a long and divisive battle for renomination 
within his own party against a very strong contender, x^rith the albatross 
of an unpopular vmr hanging around his neck. 

For the moment at least, the President appeared determined. 
On March 17, he spoke to the National Farmers* Union and said that the 
trials of American responsibility in Vietnam would demand a period of 
domestic "austerity" and a "total national effort." ^3/ Further leaks, 
however, were undercuting his efforts to picture the Administration as 
firm and resolute about doing whatever was necessary. On March 17, the 
' New York Times had again run a story on the debate within the Administra- 

tion, This time the story stated that the 206,000 figure would not be 
approved but that som.ething between 35?000 and 50,000 more troops would 
be sent to Vietnam, necessitating some selective call-up of reserves. 5^ 
A^^ain the reporters v/ere disturbingly accurate in their coverage. Criti- 
cism of the President continued to mount. Spurred by the New Hampshire 
indications of massive public disaffection with the President's policy, 
139 members of the House of Representatives co-authored a resolution 
calling for a complete reappraisal of U.S. Vietnam policy including a 
Congressional review. 

3. I SA Attempts to Force a Decision 

The President's reluctance to make a decision about Vietnam 
'and the dramatic external political developm.ents in the U.S. kept the 
members of the Administration busy in a continuing round of new draft 
proposals and further meetings on various aspects of the proposals the 
President was considering. VJithin ISA at the Pentagon, attention focused 
on ways to get some m.ovement on the negotiations in the absence of any 


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decisions on fcrces or bombing. On March 11, Policy Planning produced 
a lengthy draft memo to Clifford outlining the history of Hanoi ^s 
positions on "talks" , "negotiations" , "settlement", and "no advantage" 
provision of the San Antonio formula. Its conclusion was that Hanoi 
had indicated "acceptance of the operative portion of the San Antonio 
formula," if we really vrished to acknowledge it. _55/ Policy Planning 
suggested testing this by asking them, to repeat recent private assurances 
about not attacking Khe Sanh, the cities, across the DMZ, etc. In an 
effort to move the Administration to a more forthcoming interpretation 
of the San Antonio formula, this memo proposed discussions with G\1[ to 
define what constituted North Vietnamese acceptance. 

The mem.o vrhich Warnke signed the next day went to both 
Clifford and Hitze and began with the statement: "1 believe that we 
should begin to take steps now which will make possible the opening of 
negotiations with Hanoi within the next few months, 1 believe that 
such negotiations are much much in our interest.,.." _56/ His arguments 
were: With respect to the San Antonio formula, he pointed to a num_ber 
of Hanoi statements accepting the "prompt and productive" U.S. stipula- 
tion for the negotiations, and offered his opinion that Hanoi had also 
hinted understanding and acquiescence in the "no advantage" provision. 
Warnke argued that further U.S. probing for assurances about "no advantage" 
would only reinforce Hanoi *s impression that this was really a condition. 
If this occurred, he argued, Hanoi "may continue to denounce the San 
Antonio formula in public. This will make it difficult for us to halt 
the bom bing if we decide that it is in otir interest to do soT " Y( I On 
the basis of these conclusions, Warnke recommended discussions vrith the 
GVH to explain our view of the desirability of negotiations, and urged 
the completion of an inter-agency study preparing a U.S. position for 
the negotiations. He summed up his recommendation as follows: 

After holding discussions with the GVH and com.pleting 
the interagency study, we should halt the bombing and enter 
into negotiations, making "no advantage" and mutual de- 
escalation the first and immediate order of business at 
the negotiations. 

If you approve this course of action, we will work 
with Stat^ on a detailed scenario for you to discuss with 
Mr. Rusk and the President. 58. 

Attached to Warnke *s memo were separate supporting tabs outlining 
Hanoi *s public and private responses to the San Antonio formula and 
arguing that Hanoi *s conception of an acceptable negotiated settlement, 
revealed in its statements, embodied a good deal of flexibility. 

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On the sajne day, Warnke signed a memo to the Director of 
CIA requesting a study of seven alternative bombing campaigns for the 
future. For unknown reasons, the memo was apparently never sent. 59/ 
i I • The options for examination in this memo were all taken from the 

earlier draft memo v;ith twelve options. Options 1-3 were all reduction 
or half options, but the wording of them suggests again that ISA was not 
aware of the high level attention being focused on a complete bombing 
halt north of 20"^. 

Neither Clifford 's nor Nitze ' s reaction to Warnke *s memo 
is available in the files, but two days later the Policy Planning Staff 
drafted a memorandum to the President for Clifford's signature which 
recommended a leveling off of our effort in the war -- i.e., no new 
troops and a reconcentration of the bombing to the panhandle area. 
The memo went through several drafts and is probably typical of efforts 
going on simultaneously in other agencies. In its final form it urged 
the retargetting of air strikes from the top of the funnel in North 
VietnaJii to the panhandle with only enough sorties northward to prevent 
the DRV from relocating air defenses to the south. 6o/ A more detailed 
discussion of the bombing alternatives was appended to the memo and 
x'*^ included consideration of four alternative programs. The first two 
_^ were (l) a continuation of the current bombing program; and (2) an 

increase in the bombing including the reduction of the restricted zones 
and the mining of Haiphong. These two were analyzed jointly as follows: 

The bombing of North Vietnam was undertaken to limit and/or 
make more difficult the infiltration of men and supplies in the 
. " South, to show Hanoi that it would have a price for its continued 
aggression, and to raise m.orale in South Vietnara. The last two 
purposes obviously have been achieved. 

It has become abundantly clear that no level of bombing can 
prevent the North Vietnamese from supplying the forces and 
materiel necessary to maintain their military operations in 
the South at current levels. The recent Tet offensive has 
. shown that the bombing cannot even prevent a significant increase 
in these military operations, at least on an intermittent basis. 
Moreover, the air war has not been very successful when measured 
by its impact on North Vietnam/ s economy. In spite of the large 
diversion of men and materiels necessitrted by the bombing, 
communist foreign aid and domestic reallocation of manpower have 
sharply reduced the destruction effect of our air strikes." 6l/ 

The other two alternatives considered were a partial and a complete 
cessation of the bombing. Here is how ISA presented them: 

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3. A revision of the bombing effort in North Vietnam so 
that a maximum effort is exerted against the LOC's in Route 
Packages 1, 2, and 3 with bombing north of the 20th parallel 
limited to a level designed to cover only the most significant 
military targets and prevent the redistribution southward of 
air defenses^ e.g. 5^ of the attack sorties. 

This reprogramraing of our bombing efforts would devote 
primary emphasis on the infiltration routes south of the 
20th parallel in the panhandle area of North Vietnam just to 
the north of the DMZi, It includes all of the areas now within 
Route Packages 1, 2 and 3» This program recognizes that our 
bombing emphasis should be designed to prevent military men 
and materiel from moving out of North Vietnam and into the 
South, rather than attempting to prevent materiel from 
entering North Vietnam.- Occasional attack sorties north 
of this area would be employed to keep enemy air defenses 
and damage repair crews from relocating and to permit attack 
aginst the most important fixed targets. The effort against 
this part of North Vietnam through which all land infiltration 
passes would be intensive and sustained. Yet it provides 
Hanoi with a clear message that for political reasons vre are 
■willing to adjust our military tactics to accomxaodate a construc- 
tive move toward peace. A distinct benefit of this decision 
would be the lower plane loss rates which are realized in the 
southern areas of North Vietnam. (in 196,7 the joint loss rate 
per thousand sorties in Route Packages 1, 2 and 3 was 1.36, 
while it was 5-73 in the more heavily defended Route Package 6 
in which Hanoi and Haiphong are located.) 

h. A complete cessation of all bombing in North Vietnam. 

It would be politically untenable to initiate a complete 
cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam at a time when our 
forces in the northern provinces of South Vietnam are seriously 
threatened by large forces of North Vietnamese regulars, unless 
we were confident that these attacks would cease. Nevertheless, 
we must recognize that our intelligence analysts have advised 
that in spite of our significant bombing effort over the last 
2-I/2 years, Hanoi retains the capabiliiy and the will to support 
the present or an increased level of hostilities in South Vietnam 
On the other hand, they inform us that: 

"If, however, the U.S. ceased the bombing of North 
Vietnam in the near future, H^anoi would probably respond 

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more or less as indicated in its most recent statements. 
It would begin talks fairly soon^ would accept a fairly 
wide ranging exploration of issues^ but would not moderate 
its terms for a final settlement or stop fighting in the 
South." • 

As discussed elsewhere in this mem-orandum^ a cessation of the 
bombing by us in North Vietnam is the required first step if a 
political solution to the conflict is to be found. We may want 
to seek some assurance from Hanoi that it would not attack from 
across the DMZ if we halt the bombing. Alternatively, we could 
stop all bombing except that directly related to ground opera- 
tions and indicate that our attacks are in the nature of 
returning fire and will be halted when the enemy halts its 
attacks in the area, 62/ 

These views of Clifford's staff never went to the White House, but 
are indicative of the direction and tone of the debates in the policy 
meetings within the Administration. Another aspect of the policy environ- 
ment in March I968 was ISA's isolation in arguing that Hanoi was moving 
toward acceptance of the San Antonio formula and a negotiated settlement. 
As we shall see, when the decision to halt the bombing north of 20^ was 
finally made, it was not in the expectation that North Vietnam would 
come to the negotiating table. 

U. The "Senior Informal Advisory Group" 

■ III I » ■■ I ■ » ^ ^1- I I -m—^m— ^tm i i i ■ ■ i i ■ i i i - 

At this juncture in mid-March, with the President vacillating 
as to a course of action, probably the most important influence on his 
thinking and ultimate decision was exercised by a small group of prominent 
men outside the Government, known in official Washington as the "Senior 
Informal Advisory Group." All had at one time or another over the last 
twenty years served as Presidential advisers. They gathered in Washington 
at the req.uest of the President on March I8 to be briefed on the latest 
developments in the war and to offer I^Ir. Johnson the benefit of their 
experience in making a tough decision. Stuart Loor^r of the Los Angeles 
Times in an article in May reported what has been generally considered 
to be a reliable account of what took place during and after their visit 
to Washington and what advice they gave the President. The story as 
Loory reported 'it is included here in its entirety. 

Hawks' Shift Precipitated Bombing Halt 

Eight prominent hawks and a dove -- all from outside the 
government -- gathered in the White House for a night and day 
last March to judge the progress of the Vietnam war for 
President Johnson. . , . 

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Their deli"berations produced this verdict for the chief 

Continued escalation of the var -- intensified bombing 
of North Vietnajn and increased /\inerican troop strength in 
the South -- would do no good. Forget about seeking a 
battlefield solution to the problem and instead intensify 
efforts to seek a political solution at the negotiating 

The manner in which Mr. Johnson sought the advice of the 
nine men before arriving at the conclusion to de-escalate the 
war announced in his now famous March 31 speech^ has been 
pieced together from conversations with reliable sources who 

asked to remain anonymous. 

The nine men^ Republicans and Democrats with extensive 
experience in formulating foreign policy, were among those 
frequently consulted by Mr. Johnson from time to time during - 
the war. At each consultation prior to March they had been 
overwhelmingly in favor of prosecuting the war vigorously 
with more men and material, with intensified bombing of 
North Vietnam, with increased efforts to create a viable 
government in the South. 

As recently as last December they had expressed this 
view to the President. The only dissenter among them -- 
one who had been a dissenter from the beginning -- v/as foi^mer 
Undersecretary of State George Ball. 

March l8th Meeting 

The men who have come to be known to a small circle in 
the government as the President's "senior informal advisory 
group" convened in the White House early on the evening of 
March l8th. 

Present in addition to Ball were: Arthur Dean, a 
Republican New York lawyer who was a Korean War negotiator . 
during the Eisenhower administration; Dean Acheson, former 
President Truman's Secretary of State; Gen. Matthew B. 
Ridgeway, the retired comimander of United Nations troops in 
Korea; Gen. Max\^^ell Taylor, former Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff; Cyrus Vance, former Deputy Defense Secretary 
and a key troubleshooter for the Johnson Administration; 
McGeorge Bundy, Ford Foundation President who had been special 
assistant for National security affairs to Mir. Johnson and 
former President Kennedy; former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas 
Dillon and Gen. Omar Bradley, a leading supporter of the 
President's war policies. 

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First the group met over dinner witu Secretary of State 
Dean Rusk; Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford; Ambassador 
W. Averell Harriman; Walt W. Rostow, the President's special 
assistant for National security affairs; Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Richard Plelms^ Director 
of the Central Intelligence Agency; Paul Nitze, Deputy Defense 
Secretary; Nicholas Katzenbach, Under Secretary of State; and 
William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian 
and Pacific Affairs. 

The outsiders questioned the government officials carefully 
on the war, the pacification program and the condition of the 
South Vietnamese government after the Tet offensive. They 
included in their deliberations the effect of the war on the 
United States, 

Three Briefings 

Lliaill ■■!■ ■!■ ■ !■ I ■ FT [ 

After dinner the government officials left and the group 
received three briefings, 

Philip C. Habib, a "deputy to William Bundy and now a 
member of the American negotiating team in Paris, delivered 
an unusually frank briefing on the conditions in Vietnam after 
the Tet offensive. He covered such matters as corruption in 
South Vietnam and the growing refugee problem. 

Habib, according to reliable sources, told the group that 
the Saigon government was generally weaker than had been 
realised as a result of the Tet offensive. He related the 
situation, some said, with greater frankness than the group 
had previously heard. 

In addition to Habib, Maj . Gen. William E. DePuy, special 
assistant to the Joint Chiefs for counterinsurgency and special 
activities, briefed the group on the military situation, and 
George Carver, a CIA analyst, gave his agency's estimates of 
conditions in the war zone. 

■ The briefings by DePuy and Carver reflected what many 
understood as a dispute over enemy strength between the 
Defense Departmient and the CIA which has been previously 
reported. Discrepancies in the figures resulted from the 
fact that DePuy 's estimates of enemy strength covered only 
identifiable military units, while Carver's included all known 
military, paramilitary and parttime enemy strength available. 

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Striking Turnabout 

The morning of March 19, the advisory group assembled in 
the White House to discuss what they had heard the previous 
evening and arrived at their verdict. It "was a striking 
turnabout in attitude for all but Ball. 

After their meeting, the group met the President for 
lunch. It was a social affair. No business was transacted. 
The meal finished, the advisers delivered their verdict to 
the President. 

He was reportedly greatly surprised at their conclusions. 
When he asked them where they had obtained the facts on which 
the conclusions were based, the group told him of the briefings 
by Habib, DePuy and Carver. 

Mr. Johnson knew that the three men had also briefed his 
governmental advisers, but he had not received the same 
picture of the war as Rostow presented the reports to him. 

As a result of the discrepancy, the President ordered 
his own direct briefings. At least Habib and DePuy -- and 
almost certainly Carver -- had evening sessions with the 

Habib was reportedly as frank with the President as he 
had been with the advisory group. The President asked tough 
questions. "Habib stuck to his guns," one source reported. 

On top of all this, Clifford, since he had become Defense 
Secretary, came to the same conclusions Robert S. McNamara 
had reached -- that the bombing of North Vietnam was not 
achieving its objectives. 

The impact of this group's recommendation coupled with the new 
briefings the President received about conditions and prospects in the 
war zone were major factors in cementing the decision not to expand 
the war but to attempt a de-escalation. The Joint Chiefs for their 
part were still seeking authorization to strike targets with the Hanoi 
and Haiphong restricted areas and further escalation of the bombing. 
On March 19, a T'uesday, they proposed hitting one target in Hanoi and 
one in Haiphong that had previously been rejected by both Rusk and 
McNamara plus the Hanoi docks near large population concentrations. 63/ 
These were probably considered at the noon luncheon at the White House, 
but they were apparently not approved as no attacks occurred. The 
military leaders, even at this late hour when the disposition of the 
administration against any further escalation seemed clear, still pressed 
for new targets and new authority. 

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D. March 31 -- "l Shall Not Seek, , .Another Term as Your President * 

1. The Decision , 

No exact date on which the President made the decision to 
curtail the bombing can be identified with certainty. It is reasonably- 
clear that the decisions on the ground war were made on or before March 22. 
On that date, the President announced that General William Westmoreland 
woiild be replaced as COIvfJSMCV during the coming siommer. He was to return 
to Washington to become Chief of Staff of the Army. The decision was clearly 
related to the force deployment decisions explicitly taken and the new strategy 
they implied. Three days after this announcement , that had been greeted in 
the press as a harbinger, General Creighton Abrams, Deputy C0MUSI4ACV, arrived 
in Vlashington without prior announcement for conferences with the President. 
Speculation was rife that he was to be named Westmoreland's successor. On 
the 26th he and the President huddled and Mr. Johnson probably informed him 
of his intentions, both with respect to force augmentations and the bombing 
restraint, and his intention to designate Abrams the new COMUSMCV. In the 
days that followed, the speech drafters took over, writing and rewriting the 
President's momentous address. Finally, it v/as decided that the announcement 
speech would be made on nation-wide television from the White House on the 
evening of March 31. 

The night before the speech a cable under Katzenbach's signature, 
drafted by VJilliam Bundy, vient out to US Embassies in Australia, Nev7 Zealand, 
Thailand, Laos, the- Philippines and South Korea slugged "Literally Eyes Only 
for Ambassador or Charge." It instructed the addressees that they vzere to see 
their heads of governm^ent and inform them that: 

Attex full consultation with GVN and with complete concur- 
rence of Thieu and Ky, President plans policy announcement 
Sunday night that would have following major elements: 

a. Major stress on importance of GVN and ARVN 
increased effectiveness, with our eq.uipment and other support 
as first priority in our own actions. 

b. 13? 500 support forces to be called up at once 
I in order to round out the 10,500 combat units sent in February. 


c. Replenishment of strategic reserve by calling up 
if8 500 additional reserves, stating that these would be designed 
for strategic reserve. 


d. Related tax increases and budget cuts already 
largely needed for non-Vietnam reasons. 

..In addition, after similar •constU.tation and concurrence, 
President proposes to announce that bombing will be restricted 

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to targets most directly engaged in the battlefield area and 
that this meant that there would be no bombing north of 20th 
parallel, ijanouncement v/ould leave open "now Hanoi might 
respond, and would be open-ended as to time. Hovzever, it v/ould 
indicate that Hanoi's response could be helpful in determining 
whether we v^ere justified in assumption that Hanoi would not 
take advantage if we stopping bom^bing altogether. Thus, it 
would to this extent foreshadow possibility of full bombing 
stoppage at a later point. 

The significance of the decision they V7ere to comm-unicate 
to their respective heads of government could hardly have been lost on the 
Ambassadors. Nevertheless, the cable dramatized the importance of pre- 
venting premature leaks by stating that the Ainbassadors were to tell the 
heads of Governraent to whom they were accreditted that they were ^'under 
strictest injunction to hold it in total confidence and not to tell any one 
repeat anyone until after announcement is made. This is vital. Similarly 
you should tell no member of your staff whatever." 6^/ It is im_portant to 
note that the cable defines the delim.ited area for the bombing halt as north 
of 20"^. This apparently was the intent of the President and his advisors 
all along, but sometimie before the speech was delivered any specific reference 
to the geographic point of limitation was eliminated, for undetermined reasons, 
if it ever had been inclaided. 

The March 30 cable offered the Ambassadors some additional 
explanatory rationale for the nev/ course that they were to use at their dis- 
cretion in conversations with their heads of government. These are iiuportant 
because they represent the only available recorded statement by the Adminis- 
tration of its understanding of the purposes and expectations behind the new 
direction in "Vietnam. policy. It is also significant that the points con- 
cerning the bombing halt are extremely close to those in Secretary Rusk's 
draft points of March 5- Here, then, is hovz the Administration understood 
the new policy, and wished to have understood by our allies: 

a. You should call attention to force increases that 
would be announced at the same time and would make clear our 
continued resolve. Also our top priority to re-equipping AWN 
forces. • ■ 

b. You should make clear that Hanoi is most likely to 
denounce the project and thus free our hand after a short 
period.. Nonetheless, we might wish to cojitinue the limitation 
even after a formal denunciation, in order to reinforce its 
sincerity and put the monkey firmly on Hanoi's back for what- 
ever follows. Of course, any m.ajor military change, coiild compel 
full-scale resiomption at any time. 

c. With or without denunciation, Hanoi might v/ell feel 
limited in conducting any major offensives at least in the 



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northern areas. If they did so, this could ease the pressure 
where it is most potentially serious. If they did not, then 
this vjo^old give us a clear field for whatever actions were 
then required. . '. 

d. In view of weather limitations, bombing north of 
the 2Qth parallel will in any event be limited at least for the 
next four vzeeks or so -- which we tentatively envisage as a 
maxim-ura testing period in any event. Hence, we are not giving 
up anything really serious in this time frame. Moreover, air 
power now used north of 20th can probably be used in Laos (where 
no policy change planned) and in SM. 

e. Insofar as our announcement foreshadows any possi- 
bility of a complete bombing stoppage, in the event Hanoi 
really exercises reciprocal restraints, we regard this as 
unlikely. But in any case, the period of demonstrated restraint 
would probably have to continue for a period of several w^eeks, 
and we would have time to appraise the situation and to consult 
carefully with them before we undertook any such action. 66 / 

It is important to note that the Administration did not 
expect the bombing restraint to produce a positive Hanoi reply. This view 
apparently was never seriously disputed at any time during the long month 
of deliberations within the Government, except by ISA. The fact that the 
Pi^esident was willing to go beyond the San Antonio formula and curtail the 
air raids at a time when few responsible advisors were suggesting that such 
action would produce peace talks is strong evidence of the m-ajor shift in 
thinking that took place in Washington about the war and the bombing after 
Tet 1968. The fact of anticipated bad weather over much of northern North 
Vietnam in the succeeding months is important in understanding the timing 
of the halt, although it can plausibly be argued that many advisors would 
have found another convenient rationale if weather had been favorable. 

Finally, the message concluded- v/ith an invitation for the 
respective governments to respond positively to the announcement and with 
an apology for the tardiness with which they were being informed of this 
momentous action. "Vital Congressional timing factors" was the rather 
lame excuse offered, along with the need for "full and frank" consultation 
with the GVI^ before the decision (contradicting the impression the GVN put 
out after the announcement). The stage was thus finally set for the drama 
of the Pi^esident's speech. 

2. The Speech 

At 9:00 iD.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday March 3I 
Xyndon Johnson stepped before the TV cameras in the Oval Room of the 
"^ White House and began, in grave^and measured tones, one of the most 


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I * 


important speeches of his life. His first words struck the theme of what 
was to come : 

Good Evening^ my fe3-low Americans. 

Tonight I want to speak to you of peace in Vietnam 
and Southeast Asia. 67/ 

Underscoring the peaceful motivations of past and present U.S. policy 
in the area, he reviewed the recent history of U.S. attempts to "bring 
peace to Vietnam: 

For years, representatives of our goverratient and others 
have travelled the world -- seeking to find a basis for 
peace talks. 

Since last September^ they have carried the offer that 
I made public at San Antonio. 

That offer was this: 

That the United States would stop its bombardment of 
North Vietnam v/hen that v/ould lead promptly to productive 
discussions -- and that vie would assume that North Vietnam 
would' not take military advantage of our restraint. 

Hanoi denounced this offer, both privately and pub- 
licly. Even while the search for peace was going on, 
. North Vietnam rushed their preparations for a savage 
assault on the people, the government, and the allies of 
South Vietnam. 

The President noted that the Viet Cong had apparently 
decided to make I968 the year of decision in Vietnam and their Tet offensive 
had been the unsuccessful attempt to win a breakthrough victory. Although 
they had failed, the President acknowledged their capability to renew the 
attacks if they wished. He forcefully asserted, however, that the allies 
would again have the power to repel their assault if they did decide to 
attack. Continuing, he led' up to his announcement of the bombing halt in 
this way: 

If they do mount another round of heavy attacks, they 
will not succeed in destroying the fighting povzer of South 
Vietnam and its allies. 

But tragically, this is also clear: many men'-- on 
both sides of the struggle — will be lost. A nation that 
has already suffered 20, yea^rs of warfare will suffer once 
a^ain. Armies on both sides will_ take new casualties. And 
the war will go on. ' ' . ■ 

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There is no need for this to be so. 

There is no need to delay the talks that could bring an 
end to the long and this bloody war. 

Tonight, I renev7 the offer I made last August --to 
stop the bombardment of Forth Vietnam, We ask that talks 
begin promptly, that they be serious talks on the substance 
of peace. We assume that during those talks Hanoi will not 
take advantage of our restraint. 

We are prepared to move immediately toward peace through 

So, tonight, in the hope that this action v/ill lead to 
early talks, I am taking the first step to de-escalate the 
conflict. We are reducing -- substantially reducing -- the 
present level of hostilities. 


And we are doing so unilaterally, and at once. 

Tonight, I have ordered our aircraft and our naval 
.- vessels to m.ake no attacks on North Vietnam, except in the 
area north of the DeMilitarized Zone where the continuing 
enemy build-up directly threatens allied forward positions 
and where the movements of their troops and supplies are 
clearly related to that threat. 

The President then defined, albeit vaguely, the area within which the 
bombing would be restricted and suggested that all bombing could halt if 
the other side would reciprocate by scaling down hostilities. 

The area in which we are stopping our attacks includes 
almost 90 percent of North Vietnajn*s population, and most of 
its territory. Thus there v/ill be no attacks around the 
principal populated areas, or in the food-producing areas 
of North Vietnam. 

Even this very limited bom-bing of the North could come 
to an early end --if our restraint is matched by restraint 
in Hanoi. But I cannot in good conscience stop all bombing 
so long as to do so v/ould immediately and directly endanger 
the lives of our m.en and our allies. >/hether a complete 
bombing halt becomes possible in the future will be determined 
by events. 

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In the hope that the unilateral U.S. initiative would 
permit the contending forces to move closer to a political settlement," 
the President celled on the UK and the Soviet Union to do what they could 
to get negotiations started. Repeating his offer to meet at any time 
and place he designated his representative should talks actually occur: 

I am designating one of our most distinguished Ameri- 
cans, Ambassador Averell Harriman, as my personal repre- 
sentative for such talks. In addition, I have asked 
Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, who returned from Moscow 
for consultation, to be available to join Ambassador Harriman 
at Geneva or any other suitable place — just as soon as 
Hanoi agrees to a conference. 

I call upon President Ho Chi Minh to respond positively, ■ 
and favorably, to this new step towa.rd peace. 

But if peace does not come now through negotiations, 
it will come when Hanoi understands that our comjnon resolve 
is unshakable, and our common strength is invincible. 

Turning his attention to other matters, the President outlined 
the limited steps that the U.S. would take to strengthen its forces in South 
Vietnam and the measures he vzould push to improve the South Vietnamese Army. 
He then discussed the costs of the new efforts, the domestic frugality they 
would require, and the balance of payments efforts necessary to their imple- 
mentation. Next he outlined his own views of the unlikelihood of peace, in 
an attempt to head off any false hope that the bombin-g cessation might 

Now let me give you my estimate of the chances for 

-- the peace that will one day stop the bloodshed .in 
South Vietnam, ' . , 

-- that all the Vietnamese people will be permitted 
to rebuild and develop their land, 

"- that will permit us to turn more fully to our own 
tasks here at home. 

I cannot promise that the initiative that I have 
announced tonight v/ill be completely successful in achieving 
peace any more than the 30 others that we have undertaken 
and agreed to in recent years. 

But it' is our fervent hope that North Vietnajn, after 
vears of fighting that has lelN: the issue unresolved, will 



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now cease its efforts to achieve a military victory and will 
join with us in moving toward the peace table. 

And there may come a time when South Vietnam --on both 
sides -- are able to vrork out a way to settle their own 
differences by free political choice rather than by war. 

• . As Hanoi considers its course, it should be in no 

doubt of our intentions. It must not miscalculate the pres- 
sures within our democracy in this election year. 

We have no intention of widening this vzar. 

But the United States will never accept a fake solution 
to this long and arduous struggle and call it peace. 

No one can foretell the precise terms of an eventual 

Our objective in South Vietnam has never been the 
annihilation of the enemy. It has been to bring about a 
recognition in Hanoi that its objective -- taking over the 
^- ■• South by force — could not be achieved. 

We think that peace can be based on the Geneva Accords 
of 195^ -- under political conditions that permit the South 
Vietnamese -- all the South Vietnamese -- to chart their 
course free of any outside domination or interference, from 
us or from anyone else. 

I f So tonight I reaffirm the pledge that we made at 

Manila -- that we are prepared to withdraw our forces from 
South Vietnam as the other side withdraws its forces to the 
North, stops the infiltration, and the level of violence 
thus subsides. 

Our goal of peace and self-determination in Vietnam 
is' directly related to the f^iture of all of Southeast Asia -- 
where much has happened to inspire confidence during the past 
10 years. We have done all that we knew now to do to contribute 
" and to help build that confidence. 

The President praised the progressive developments in much 
of Asia in recent years and offered the prospect of similar progress in 
Southeast Asia if North Vietnam would settle the war. He repeated the 
Johns Hopkins offer of assistance to North Vietnam to rebuild its economy. 
In his peroration he spoke with deep conviction and much feeling about 
the purposes and reasons for the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia's 

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destiny whicli he had authorized. It represents perhaps our best* insight 
into the President's understanding and motivation in the war, as well 
as his hopes and dreams: 

One day, my fellow citizens ^ there v/ill be peace in 
Southeast Asia. 

It will come because the people of Southeast Asia 
want it -- those whose armies are at war tonight , and those 
\jhOy though threatened, have thus far been spared. 

Peace will come because Asia.ns were willing to work 
for it -- and to sacrifice for it -- and to die by the 
thousands for it. 

But let it never be forgotten: peace will come also 
because America sent her. sons to help secure it. 

It has not been easy — far from it. During the past 
four and a half years , it has been my fate and my responsi- 
bility to be commander-in-chief. I have lived -- daily and 
nightly — with the cost of this war. I know the pain that 
it has inflicted. I knov; perhaps better than anyone the 
misgivings that it has aroused. 

. Throughout this entire, long period^ I have been sus- 
tained by a single principle: 

-- that what we are doing nov^, in Vietnam^ is vital 
not only to the security of Southeast Asia, but it is 
vital to the security of every Am.erican. 

Surely vre have treaties which we must respect. 
Surely we have commitments that we are going to keep. 
Resolutions of the Congress testify to the need to resist 
aggression in the world and in Southeast Asia. 

But the heart of our involvement in South Vietnam — 
" under three Presidents, three separate Administrations -- 
has always been America's own seciu-ity. 

And the larger purpose of our involvement has always 
been to help the nations of Southeast Asia become inde- 
pendent and stand alone, self-sustaining as members of a 
great world community. 

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— At peace with themselves ^ and at peace v/ith all 

With such an Asia^ our coimtry -- and the v/orld -- will 
be far raore secure than it is tonight. 

I believe that a peaceful Asia is far nearer to 
reality^ because of what America has dons in Vietnam. 
I believe that the men who endtire the dangers of battle -- 
fighting there for us tonight -- are helping the entire world 
avoid far greater conflicts, far wider wars, far more destruc- 
tion, than this one. 

The peace- that will bring them home some day will come. 
Tonight I have offered the first in what 1 hope will be a 
series of mutual moves toward peace. 

I pray that it will not be rejected by the leaders of 
North Vietna.m. I pray that they will accept it as a means 
by which the sacrifices of their own people may be ended. 
And I ask your help and your support, my fellow citizens, 
for this effort to reach across the battlefield toward an 
early peace. 

Listing the achievements of his administration and warning 
against the perils of division in America, the President ended his speech 
with his emotional announcement that he would not run for re-election. 

Through all time to come, I think America will be a 
stronger nation, a more just society, and a land of greater 
opportunity and fulfil^jnent because of what we have all done 
together in these years of unparalleled achievement. 

Our revrard will come in the life of freedom, peace, 
and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead. 

What V7e won when all of our people united just must 
not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and 
politics among any of our people. 

Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should 
not permit the Presidency to becom.e involved" in the partisan 
divisions that are developing in this political year. 

With America's sons in the fields far away, with 
AiTierica's future under challenge right here at home, with 
our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance 
every day. I do not believe that I should devote an hour 
or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to 

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any duties other than the awesome duties of this office — 
the Presidency of your country. 


Accordingly 5 I shall not seek, and I will not accept ^ 
the noraination of my Party for another term as your President. 

But let men everywhere knov^, however^ that a strong^ 
a confident 3 and a vigilant America stands ready tonight to 
seek an honorable peace -- and stand ready tonight to defend 
an honored cause -- whatever the price ^ whatever the burden^ 
whatever the sacrifices that duty may rec[uire. 

Thank you for listening. 

Good night and God bless all of you. 

The speech had an electric effect on the U.S. and the whole 
world. It completely upset the American political situation, spurred 
world-wide hopes that peace might be imminent and roused fear and concern 
in South Vietnam about the depth and reliability of the American commitment. 
As already noted, no one in the Administration had seriously expected a 
positive reaction from Hanoi, and v/hen the North Vietnamese indicated three 

i I ^--v, days later that they would open direct contacts with the U.S. looking toward 

discussions and eventual negotiation of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, 
the whole complexion and context of the war was changed. To be sure, there 

1 I v^as the unfortunate a,nd embarrassing wrangle about exactly where the northern 

limit of the U.S. bombing would be fixed, with CIRCPAC having sent extremely 
heavy sorties to the very limits of the 20th parallel on the day after the ■ 
announcement only to be subsequently ordered to restrict his attacks below 
19^ on April 3* And there was the exasperatingly long public struggle 
between the U.S. and the DRV about where their representatives would mieet 
and what title the contacts would be given, not finally resolved until May. 
But it was unjuistakably clear throughout all this tim^e that a major corner 
in the war and in American policy had been turned and that there was no 
going back. The President's decision v/as enormously well received at home 
and greeted with enthusiasm abroad where it appeared at long last there was 
a possibility of removing this annoyingly persistent little war in Asia as 
a roadblock to progress on other matters of world-wide importance involving 
East and West. 

The President's speech at the end of March was, of course, 
not the end of the much less the war, and a further history cf the 
role of the limited air strikes could and should be undertaken. But the 
decision to cut back the bombing, the decision that turned American policy 
toward a peaceful settlement of the war, is a logical and fitting place to 
terminate this particular inquiry into the policy process that surrounded the 
ai"^ war. Henceforth, the decisions about the bombing v;ould be made prim-arily 
in" the Pacific by the field commanders since no vitally sensitive targets 

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requiring continuing Washington level political review were within the 
reduced attack zone. A very significant chapter in the history of U.S. 
involvement in the Vietnam war had corne to a close. 

As those who struggled with the policy decisions about the 
bombing came to learn, any dispassionate and objective appraisal of it is 
almost impossible. As McGeorge Bundy noted in September 196? after the 
Stennis hearings, both its proponents and its opponents have been guilty 
of excesses in their advocacy and criticism.. As Bundy put it, ^^My own 
summary belief is that both the advocates and the opponents of the bombing 
continue to exaggerate its importance." 68/ To be sure, the bombing 
had not been conducted to its fullest potential, but on the other hand it 
had been much heavier and had gone on m.uch longer than many if not most of 
its advocates had expected at the outset. V/hether more might have been 
accomplished by different bombing policy decisions, at the start or along 
the way -- in particular the fast full squeeze favored by the JCS -- V70uld 
necessarily remain an open question. Wiat can be said in the end is that 
its partial suspension in part did produce what m.ost had least expected -- 
a breakthrough in the deadlock over negotiations. And that in the longer 
view of history may turn out to be its most significant contribution. 

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1. Broadcast on radio Hanoi^ 1 Jan. 1968^ emphasis added. 

2. Kraslow and Loory_j op. cit, p. 229. 

3. JCS msg. to CINCPAC 6^02, O32158Z Jan. I968 & 67OO, 062l48Z Jan. I968. 

1|.. ASD/ISA Paul C. Warnke^ Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense ; 
Subject: "New MW Bombing Proposal/' 16 Jan. I968. (TS-SEMS). " 

5. New York Times ^ Jan, l8^ I968. 

6. Background Information «.._, op o cit . p. ^6, 

7. Testimony of Secretary of Defense (Designate) Clark M. Clifford^ 
before the Senate Committee on Armed Services_, Jan. 25^ I968. 
Excerpt from published hearings _^ pp. 20-21. 

8. JCSM-T8-68, 3 Feb. 1968 (TS). 

9. Ibid . 

10. ASD/ISA Paul C. Warnke^ Mem,orand-um for the Secretary of Defense ^ 
Subject: "Air Campaign Against Worth Vietnam (JCS/I 78-68)/' 
1-35128/68 (T3), 5 Feb. 1968. 

11. Ibid. • ■ 

12. Backpyound Information . . . j op. cit . pp. 283-4 « 

13. Kraslow and Loory^ op. cit .^ p. 232. 

ll{.. Background Information . . .^ op. cit .^ pp. 57-58. 

15. JCa4 91-68, 12 Feb. 1968 (TS). 

16. JCS msg. 9926, 130218Z Feb. 1968 (TS). 

17 ''Report of Chainmn; JCS on Vietnam Situation and MACV Force Requirements," 
27 Feb. 1968 (TS). 

18 CIA Memorandum, Subject: "Hanoi's Appraisal of its Strategic Position 
Prior to the Current Offensive," unnumbered, 27 Feb. I968 (s), 
emnhasis added. 


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19. The principle issue addressed in this re -evaluation was the- level 
of forces to be sent to Vietnam to meet MA.CV requirements for 
augmentation resulting from TET. As such^ the "bulk of the papers 
drafted and considered in the Clifford Group dealt only tangentially 
vith the air war. Since the problem of force deployments is treated 
in Task Force paper IV. C. 6^ no attempt will be made here to fiurnish 

.the details of those papers. Only the sections dealing directly 
with the air war will be treated. The broad outline of the policy 
process^ however _, will be sketched to place the arguments about 
bombing policy into perspective. 

20. Handwritten notes by Morton Halperin from conversation with 
Paul Warnke. (TS-EYES ONLY), no date. 

21. Item in a package of materials sent to General Taylor and Mr. Warnke 
by William P. Bundy on Feb. 29, I968 (TS-WODIS). 

22. CIA Memorandum (unnumbered), Subject: "Communist Alternatives in 
Vietnam/' 29 Feb. 1968 (S). 

23. CIA Memorandujn (unnumbered), Subject: "Questions Concerning the 
Situation in Vietnam," 1 March I968 (S). 

2i^. Ibido 

25. CIA Intelligence Memorandum, Subject: "International Communist 
Aid to North Vietnam," 2 March I968 (S). 

26. William P. Bundy Memorandum for Ifc. Warnke, General Taylor, 
Feb. 29^ 1968 with attached memo, subject: "Alternative Covirses 
of Action," W.P. Bundy draft, Feb. 29, I968 (TS-NODIS) . 

27- Ibid., attachment, "Probably Soviet Responses to Various U.S. 
Actions in Indochina — Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia." (TS). 

280 Ibid ., attachment, "Probably Chinese Responses to Certain U.S. 

Courses of Action in Indochina — Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia." (TS) 

29. Memorandum signed "M.D.T.," Subject: " Viet -Nam Alternatives, " 
undated but known to have been written sometime "Between Feb. 28 
and March 3 "wi'th a copy sent to the President. 

30. Ibid. 

31. Draft Memorandum for the President, Subject: "An Alternative to 
the MACV Request," March 3^ 19^8 (TS-NODIS). 


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32. OASD/SA/Southeast Asia Programs^ Memoranduju for the Secretary of - 
Defense, 23 Feb. I968 (S). 

33. Draft Memorandum for the President, k March I968 (TS-NODIS) . 

3I1, Ibid * J Tab. E, "Negotiating Postirre Options, and Possible 
Diplomatic Actions," (TS)o 

35 • Ibid,, Tab F, "Military Action Against Horth Vietnam," (TS-SENS) 

36. Ihido, Tab F-1, "The Campaign Against Worth Vietnam," (TS-SEWS) 

37. Ibid , 

38. Ibid. 

39. Ibid. 
1^0. Ibid. 

lj-1. Clark Clifford Memorandiim for General Wheeler, 5 March I968 with 

attached "Draft Statement" and "Points" by Dean Rusk, 5 March I968 

If2. William P. Bundy Letter to the Honorable Richard Helms, Director of 
Central Intelligence, March 8, 1968 (TS-WODIS). 

If3. Ibid. 

l].li-. Unsigned, undated Memoranduna for the Director, CIA, in ISA files 
(TS), presumably not sent. 

I1-5. Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown, Memorandum for the Deputy 
Secretary of Defense, Subject: "SEA Alternative Strategies," 
h March I968 (S). 

kS. lb id o 
2^7. Ibid. 
1^8. Ibid. 

^9- l"^!^' 

50. Ibid . 

51. Kraslow and Loory, op_>__cit., po 233 • 


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52. New York TiiaeS y March 10, I968. 

53. New York Tmes , March I8, I9680 

54. New York Times , March 17^ 19^8 

55. Unsigned Memorandimi for the Secretary of Defense, Subject: 
"Hanoi's Position on Settling the Conflict in Vietnam," 
March 11, I968 (TS-SENS); the memo has "Dr. H" in the corner 
and was prepared by Halperin's Policy Planning Staff. 

56. ASD/ISA Paul C. Warnke Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 
via the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Stibject: "Vietnam Ne got iat 3.0ns," 
March 1^, I968 (TS-SENS). 

57 o Ibid.. J emphasis added. 

58. Ibid. 

59, ASD/ISA Paiil Co Warnke Memorandum for the Director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency, Subject: "North Vietnam Bombing Questions," 
ill- March I968 (s); with the pencil notation, "not sent" at the top. 

/ > 5o. Draft Memorandu, Subject: "Vietnam Policy for the Next Six Months," 

1st Draft/Dro Halperin/l6 Iferch 68 (TS-SENS). 

6l- Ibid . 
62o Ibid . 

63. ASD/ISA Pa-ul C. Warnke Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 
Subject:. "New Bombing Targets," I9 Mar. I968 (TS-SENS) . 

61fo Department of State Msg. 139^31^ 30 Mar, 1968 (TS-NODIS-LITERALLY 

65. Ibid , 

66. Ibid. 

6?. "^naite House Press Release, Mar. 3I, I968, "Remarks of the President 
to the Nation." 


H 680 The Washi n^on Post , Sept. 11, I967. 

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