Telegram from Secretary of State Rusk Approving Limited Air and Ground Operations in Laos, 9 August 1964

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 524

AUG 9 '64

ACTION: Amembassy Saigon 622
Amembassy Vientiane 229
Amembassy Bangkok 357

Joint State/Defense Message

Refs: Vientiane 296 and 305 to Bangkok
Saigon 67 to Vientiane, repeated Dept 778

Meeting today approved in principle early initiation air and limited ground operations in Laos corridor as soon as politically and militarily feasible. Therefore believe meeting this week as proposed by Saigon would be useful way to clarify scope and timing possible operations. Following questions appear crucial:

1. Air operations.

a. Best targeting division as between GVN and RLAF, and what targets would be recommended for US suppressive strikes.
b. Latest reading political acceptability GVN strikes and US suppressive strikes and whether we should inform Souvanna before undertaking, or go ahead without informing him. Related question is whether to publicize.

2. Ground operations.

a. Review of latest plans and possible timing of action especially for limited bridgehead along lines indicated Saigon 485.
b. Requirement for US advisors and support. These not covered by today's decisions and might require another review when plans develop.
c. Same political questions as to Souvanna and publicity.

3. In light of answers to above what should be GVN, RLG, and US public stance re operations?

Believe that it would be desirable for Bangkok be represented at meeting, in view possible Thai involvement in some operations.

Ambassador Taylor concurs.



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