Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 606-610
IMMEDIATE ACTIONS IN THE PERIOD PRIOR TO DECISION (PART VIII OF THE BUNDY OUTLINE)
November 7, 1964
The US, together with the RLG and GVN, are involved in a number of operations--34A, Yankee Team, Recce, and RLAF T-28 ops--designed to warn and harass North Vietnam and to reduce enemy capabilities to utilize the Lao Panhandle for reinforcing the Viet Cong in South Vietnam and to cope with PL/VM pressures in Laos. The US also has under consideration DeSoto Patrols and Cross Border Ground Operations. The present status and outlook of these operations are described below, together with a checklist of outstanding problems relating to each of the field of operations.
In general the working group is agreed that our aim should be to maintain present signal strength and level of harassment, showing no signs of lessening of determination but also avoiding actions that would tend to prejudge the basic decision.
A. OPLAN 34A
Although not all of Oplan 34A was suspended after the first Tonkin Gulf incident, in effect little was accomplishd during the remainder of August and the month of September. Several successful maritime and airborne operations have been conducted under the October schedule. A schedule for November is under discussion and will probably be approved November 7.
1. Maritime Operations
Since the resumption of Marops under the October schedule, the following have been completed:
Recon L Day (Oct. 4) Probe to 12 miles of Vinh Sor.
Recon L + 2 (Oct. 10) Probe to 3 miles of Vinh Sor.
Loki IV L+5 Junk capture failed
32&45 E L+8 (Oct. 28/29) Bombard Vinh Son radar and Mui Dao observation post.
The following operation was refused approval:
44C L+10 Demolition by frog men supported by fire team of bridge on Route 1.
Currently approved is:
34B L + 12 (Nov. 4, on) Bombardment of barracks on Hon Matt and Tiger Island.
The following maritime operations remain on the October schedule and presumably will appear on the November schedule along with some additional similar operations:
L + 13 Capture of prisoner by team from PTF
L + 15 Junk Capture
L + 19 Bombard Cap Mui Ron and Tiger Island
L +25 Bombard Yen Phu and Sam Son radar
L +28 Blow up Bridge Route 1 and bombard Cap Mui Dao
L +30 Return any captives from L 15
L + 31 Bombard Hon Ne and Hon Me
L +36 Blow up pier at Phuc Loi and bombard Hon Ngu
L + 38 Cut Hanoi-Vinh rail line
L +41 Bombard Dong Hoi and Tiger Island
L +24 Bombard Nightingale Island
2. Airborne Operations
Five teams and one singleton agent were in place at the beginning of October. Since then one of the teams has been resupplied and reinforced. The remaining
four were scheduled to be resupplied and reinforced but weather prevented flights. These operations, plus the dropping of an additional team, will appear on the
Two of the teams carried out successful actions during October. One demolished a bridge, the other ambushed a North Vietnamese patrol. Both teams suffered casualties, the latter sufficient to cast doubt on the wisdom of the action.
3. Psychological Operations
Both black and white radio broadcasts have been made daily. Black broadcasts have averaged eight to ten hours weekly,--white broadcasts sixty hours weekly.
Letters posted through Hong Kong have averaged about from 50 to 100 weekly.
During September and October only one leaflet delivery was made by air. This was done in conjunction with a resupply mission.
The November schedule will call for a large number of leaflet and deception operations.
4. Reconnaissance Flights
An average of four flights per week have covered the bulk of Oplan 34A targets.
1. Surfacing of Marops--The question of whether to surface Marops remains unresolved. While Washington has suggested this be done, General Khanh has been reluctant to do so. It is argued that surfacing the operations would enable the US to offer some protection to them; the counter argument postulates US involvement in North Vietnam and consequent escalation.
2. Security of Operations--The postponement of an operation, whether because of unfavorable weather or failure of Washington to approve at the last moment, jeopardizes the operation. Isolation of teams presents hazards.
3. Base Security--After the Bien Hoa shelling some attention has been given to the security of the Danang base. Perimeter guard has been strengthened, but action remains to be taken for marine security, although a survey is underway.
4. Team Welfare--In-place teams Bell and Easy have been in dire need of supplies for several weeks. Weather has prevented resupply, which will be attempted again during the November moon phase.
5. NVN Counteraction--The capability of the North Vietnamese against Marops has improved somewhat, although not yet sufficiently to frustrate these operations.
B. YANKEE TEAM OPERATIONS
For several months now the pattern of Yankee Team Operations has . . . over a two-week period and about ten flights during the same time interval slated for Panhandle coverage. Additionally, we have recently been authorized a maximum of two shallow penetration flights daily to give comprehensive detailed coverage of cross border penetration. We have also recently told MACV that we have a high priority requirement for night photo recce of key motorable routes in Laos. At present about 2 night recce flights are flown along Route 7 areas within a two-week span.
YT supplies cap for certain T-28 corridor strikes. Cap aircraft are not authorized to participate in strike or to provide suppressive fire.
Pending questions include: (a) whether YT strikes should be made in support of RLAF T-28 corridor operations; (b) whether YT recce should be made of areas north of 20° parallel; (c) YT suppressive attacks against Route 7, especially Ban Ken Bridge; and (d) YT activity in event of large-scale ground offensive by PL (this issue has not arisen but undoubtedly would, should the PL undertake an offensive beyond the capabilities of Lao and sheep-dipped Thai to handle).
C. T-28 OPERATIONS
There are now 27 T-28 (including three RT-28) aircraft in Laos, of which 22 are in operation. CINCPAC has taken action, in response to Ambassador Unger's request to build this inventory back up to 40 aircraft for which a pilot capability, including Thai, is present in Laos.
The T-28's are conducting the following operations:
1. General harassing activities against Pathet Lao military installations and movements, primarily in Xieng Khouang and Sam Neua Provinces. This also includes efforts to interdict Route 7.
2. Tactical support missions for Operation Anniversary Victory No. 2 (Saleumsay), the FAR/Meo clearing operation up Route 4 and north of Tha Thom.
3. Tactical support for Operation Victorious Arrow (Sone Sai), a FAR clearing operation in southern Laos.
4. Strikes on targets of opportunity, including in support of FAR defensive actions such as at Ban Khen northwest of Thakhek.
5. Corridor interdiction program. The 13 original targets under this program have been hit and plans are now underway to hit four additional targets (including in the Tchepone area), plus restriking some of the original 13 targets. Ambassador Unger has submitted for approval under this program 6 additional targets.
6. The Ambassador has been authorized to discuss with the RLAF RT-28 reconnaissance in northwest Laos along the area just north of and to the east and west of the line from Vieng Phou Kha-Muong Sal.
In recent weeks, the T-28's have been dropping a large number of surrender leaflets on many of their missions. These have already led, in some cases, to PL defections.
US participation in SAR operations for downed T-28's is authorized. We are faced by the following problems in connection with the T-28's:
1. Authority for Yankee Team aircraft to engage in suppressive strikes in the corridor area, in support of the T-28 strike program there, has not been given as yet.
2. Also withheld is authorization for YT suppressive fire attack on Ban Ken Bridge on Route 7.
3. We are investigating reports of greatly increased truck movement along Route 7 as well as enemy build-up of tanks and other equipment just across the border in NVN. Counteraction may be required involving attack on Ban Ken.
4. Thai involvement. Hanoi claims to have shot down a T-28 over DRY territory on August 18 and to have captured the Thai pilot flying the plane. Although the information the North Vietnamese have used in connection with this case seems to be accurate, it is not clear the pilot is alive and can be presented to the ICC. The possibility cannot be excluded, however, nor that other Thai pilots might be captured by the PL.
5. The DRV claims T-28's have violated North Vietnamese airspace and bombed/strafed NVN villages on August 1 and 2, and on October 16 and 17 and again on October 28. The charges are probably accurate with respect to the first two dates (along Route 7) and the last one (Mu Gia Pass area). The October 16 and 17 strikes were actually in disputed territory which was recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreement as being in Laos.
6. The Pathet Lao has called to the attention of the ICC T-28 strikes in the corridor area and called for the ICC to stop them and inform the CoChairmen. The ICC has already agreed to investigate another PL charge concerning alleged US/SVN activities in the corridor area in violation of the Geneva Agreements.
D. DeSOTO PATROLS
Further DeSoto Patrols have been held in abeyance pending top-level decision.
Ambassador Taylor (Saigon's 1378) sees no advantage in resuming DeSoto Patrols
except for essential intelligence purposes. He believes we should tie our actions
to Hanoi's support of Viet Cong, not to the defense of purely US interests.
E. CROSS BORDER GROUND OPERATIONS
Earlier in the year several eight-man reconnaissance teams were parachuted into Laos as part of Operation Leaping Lena. All of these teams were located by the enemy and only four survivors returned to RVN. As a result of Leaping Lena Cross Border Ground Operations have been carefully reviewed and COMUSMACV has stated that he believes no effective Cross Border Ground Operations can be implemented prior to January 1, 1965 at the earliest.
F. COVERT OPERATIONS IN LAOS
Consideration is being given to improving Hardnose (including greater Thai involvement) and getting Hardnose to operate more effectively in the corridor infiltration areas.
No change in status of Kha.
G. OTHER SENSITIVE INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS
These include "Queen Bee," "Box Top," "Lucky Dragon" and "Blue Springs."
FE: MGreen :ej
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