&PPROVRD FOR PFT.FASF DATE: 5
SUBJECT: Evaluation of Alternative Programs for
1. This memorandum is in responseequest from the Secretary of Defense for an assessment of alternative bombing programs. Each of the specific alternatives is evaluated separately in terms of its offocts on the flow of men and materiel to the South, on losses of US pilots and aircraft, and on the risk of increasod military or
political pressure from the USSR and Communist China.
Tohe bombing ot North Vietnam on the lines of communication in the Panhandle Area (Routo Packages I, II, and III) and to terminate bombing in the remainder of North Vietnam unless there occurred reconstruction of important fixed targets which have been destroyed by prior raids or unless new military activities appeared.
NOTE: This memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It was jointly prepared by the Directorate of Intelligence and the Office of National Estimates.
Flow of Men and Materiel
annot bo expected to reducew of men and materiel to tho South below present levels. Jt would undoubtedly increase the costs of maintaining the logistic system and would degrade its capacity somewhat Jurther. This judgment is based on the results of the Soiling Thunder program to date and on the nature of the logistic target system.
During the periodhe Jlogistics target system included in Route Packages I, II, aind III has received aboutercent of the attack sorties aiown in the Rolling Thundor program. Despite tho intensitythe attack, the North Vietnamese nowroator capacity to move men and supplies than they did when the tombing started.
We estimate, based on performance to date, that the actual movement of supplies from North Vietnam into laos and South Vietnam duringry season -will be gi-eater than it was duringry soason. The volume of supplies moved by trucks through tho Mu Gia Pass route alone will exceed that moved last season. In addition, the North Vletnamosc are moving supplies along. There is no roadwatch reporting on this
proportion of its capacity as the Hu Gia route, the volume
of supplies available for stockpiling in Laos or for movement to South Vietnam during tho current dry season could be as much0 tons or about four times greater than the amounts to South Vietnam throughry season.
5. The expected effects from tho interdiction campaign are more evident when actual traffic is compared to route capacity. Duringry season, truck
traffic on Routehrough Mu Gia Pass averagedrucks daily or aboutons ofay. At this level of traffic the route was being used to less thanercent of its capacityay. Sincery season the capacity of Routeas been increased toay. Traffic during the current and longer dry season averageday or aboutons of supplies. This level of traffic is less thanercent of the current capacity of
6. The ability of North Vietnam to maintain and improve its logistic network is Impressive. 6iles of alternative routes were built in Military Region IV*
to augment Routes IA The route capacities of almost all the major highways in Military Rogion IV have increased during the past year as shown in thoabulation:
Dry Season/Wot SeasonShort Tons Por Day
7. The routes in Laos have not been maintained as well as those in North Viotnam. The capacity ofhich leads from Mu Gia Pass, has been reduced by aboutercent as compared to tho last dry season, and the capacity of Routeas been reduced byorcent. Despito these reductions, the capacity of other roads has been maintained and In some cases Increased, and tho logistic network has been improved overall. or example, moreiles of new road were constructed in Laos, more than doubling the road network. During the first three months7 at least.y-pass roads andruck parks or refueling areas were constructed in Laos. The net result
Is that the North Vietnamese have retained the sane capacity they had last year to movo atons oiay to the end of the motorablo routes along tho border of south Vietnam.
It is difficult to predict the extent to which tho interdiction program proposed underould reduce the capacity of the road system in Route Packages I, II, and III. ase study of US bombing in North Vietnam indicates that the maximum reduction achieved in bombing roads was aboutercent. Evenore intonsivo program woro to double this rate of interdiction, the capacity romaining on the two major routes intoandwould still be at least five times greater than that required to move supplies atry season rates.
The major effect of the program outlined inould be to increase the requirements for manpowor and vehicles needed to sustain the movement of supplies. Ho estimate that an intensified interdiction program would raise the manpower requirement byersons.
This wouldpercont addition to the manpower now used to maintain logistic routes in Military Region IV and in Laos. Tho added burden could be met easily. North Vietnam has anull-timeart-time
workers engaged in repair, reconstruction, dispersal, and transport programs. An unknown but significant share of these workers could bo relocated as tho bombing program proposed inould lessen the manpowerin other areas of North Vietnam.
10. North Vietnam presently uses anrucks to handle the entire logistic effort based in Military Regionthe forces around DMZ, the forces In Northern Laos, the forces in tho Panhandle of Laos, and the forces in South Vietnam. Lessrucks are used to move supplies in Laos to the border of South Vietnam. Even if tho interdiction program were to double the rate at which vehicles are destroyed or damaged, those losses could bo replaced from the existing inventory of trucks, estimatedehicles, or by increased importsCommunist countries. During the pastonths imports of trucks totaled atehicles and estimated losses to air attack wero. Thus the truck inventory Increased byehicles during the period.
11. In summary, the excess capacity on the road networks In Route Packngea I, II, and III provideseep cushion that it is almost certain that no interdiction program can neutralize the logistics target system to the extent necessary to reduce the flow of men and supplies to South Vietnam bolow their present levels.
Losses of US Pilots and Aircraft
The concentration of bombing in Route Packages I, II, and III, as outlined in Alternative I, would, in the short term, be less costly in terms of losses of US pilots and aircraft. This is apparent in the statistics for combat losses of aircraft during the first four months otal ofS aircraft were lost during this period. Onlyircraft, orercent of the total, were lost ia combat over Route Packages I, II, and III, although aboutercent of all attack sorties were flown over this area.
When it becomes apparent to the North Vietnamese that tho bombing is being concentrated in Route Packages I, II, and III andirtual sanctuary exists in most other parts of the country, they can bo expected to increaso their air defenses and to move more SAHs into the region.
A greater defense would increase US aircraft losses although this area probably would never be as heavily defended as Routo Packages Via and VIb.
Soviet and Chinese Responses '
I would substantially reduce theincreased military or political pressures on the USChina and the Soviet Union. The Chinese would attributo
a change in US policy primarilyack of will inface of rising domestic and international criticism andeneral frustration in the US over its inability to Airing the waruccessful conclusion. The Chinese, ^therefore, would almost certainly advise Hanoi that, having wcored an important gain, tho North Vietnamese had even jgroater incentive to persist in their current strategy of -mirotracted war.
the same time, neither Hanoi nor Pekingcertain that the US would maintain restrictions on There wouldontinuing expectation thatwould resume attacks north ofh parallel asreconstruction of important Installations made There would also be some suspicion,Peking, that tho US had taken the move to prepare the
groundworkiplomatic offort to persuade Hanoi to
would bo roliovod that the US had broken
Tthe cycle of escalation. Tho Soviets, too. would be inclined
to construe the US moveoncession to pressures at homo
atnd abroad. They would .probably also recognize, however,
-that the US might have valid military reasons for concentrating
bombing on the logistics funnel. And the Soviets might conclude that the chances that the US would persist ong ground war in South Vietnam had actuallythe criticism of the bombing program
17. These attitudes of both the USSR and China are in the context of an adjustment of bombing policy, without reference to any other US moves. If, for example, tho US also increased its troop strength, this might dispel some of the misapprehension over US resolve. Or, if the US undertook some political Initiatives to exploit the new bombing policy, this might Influence the Communist response. Whether or not Hanoi responded to these initiatives would depend on its view of the military outlook in tho South, and on whether it believedove toward negotiation would bring success nearer. China, of course, would continue to oppose any movement in this direction. But if Hanoi did decide to explore the possibilities for an end to the bombing followed by negotiations, then the USSR would almost certainly become more active in assisting the developmentegotiating
Alternative II: To terminate the bombing of fixed targets not directly associated with LOC's in Routo Packages Via and VIb and simultaneously expand tho armed reconnaissance operations in those sectors by authorizing strikes on all LOC's, excepting only those in ancircle around the centor of Hanoi and an oight-mile circle around the center of Haiphong. This program would include continuous strikes against MIG aircraft on all airfields. Further, the program would involve two variants:
prohibit strikesand port facilities.
include every effortimportation from sea.
Tho Flow of Men and Matoriol
18. Neither of the variants proposed under Alternative II could obstruct or reduce North Vietnam's import of military or war-supporting materials sufficiently to degrade its ability to carry on the war. This is truo even if the variants wero
assumed to include attacks on linos of communications in the Northwest.
II apparently diminisheseffort against the logistics target system
in Route Packages I, II, and III. If this is so, it would be counter-productive in terms of reducing the capacity and increasing the difficulty of moving men and materiel to tho South. Taken literally, this Alternative has two other deficiencies. First, it omits attacks against theao Cai rail line, and the parallel road systoms in tho Northwest (Route Socond, it would preclude rcstrikes against military and industrial fixed targets other than airfields.
Vietnam now has tho capacity to movetons ofay on its major rail, soa roadwater import routes. It has been estimatedan optimum program against all means of land andcould at most reduce North Vietnam'sto Import0ay atons. Interdiction to this extent wouldpresent level of goods imported byorth Vietnam presently imports an average ofof goods daily. If imports were kept to manageable
levels by eliminating all but essential military and economic goods, daily imports would averageay. This amount of traffic could be handled evon if the daily capacity of North Vietnam's transport system were reducedons.
at this level would not be sufficientoperations of modern industrial plants or toof those which have received extensive bombeconomy would be reduced to its essentialbut.those modern sectors such ascommunications, and other elements essential
to support the military establishment in North Vietnam and in the South could be sustained.
Losses of US Pilots and Aircraft
II, particularly in the variantattacks on port facilities and other targets in thewould be the most costly in terms of losses of USaircraft. otal ofircraft orercent of thelost in combat during attacks against targets locatedPackage VI during The extensionRolling Thunder program to attacks in thehas resulted in an extremely high loss rate. During
he US air forces operating over all of North Vietnamoss rate3 percent. During the periodhe forces attacking targets in tho immediate Hanoi-Haiphong areaoss ratoercent.
23. In addition, the concentration of attack on tho Hanoi-Haiphong area will resultharp docline in the recovery of downed pilots because of the heavy defenses and greater population in the area. Although statistics on recovery of downed pilots by Houte Package nroa are not available, the recovery rate has declined markedly as the air campaign extended into the Hanoi-Kaiphong area. 6 the recovery rate wasercent. During tho first four months7 tho recovery rato declined toercent.
Soviet and Chinese Responses
24. Tho first variant of Alternative II would not necessarily be perceived by tho Communistshange in US bombing policy. While it would become apparent that the US was avoiding certain fixed targets and tho Hanoi and Haiphong" vicinities, Hanoi, Poking, and Moscow would probably read the attacks on all the airfields as an intensification of the air war.
it is unlikely, however, that this variant would cause any radically new or different political or military responses from the ussr or communist china. their main efforts, as before, would bo to provide the necessary support to hanoi tolow of suppliestrong air defense. the chinese would probably reinforce their anti-aircraft and logistical forces along the rail line from hanoi to dong dang. during this bombing campaign it is also possible that the ussr would provide moro effective weapons for the defense of north vietnam.
tho principal dangerreater chinese military involvement would probably arise from the bombing of all the airfields. the north vietnamese would try to continuo air defense operations for as long as posslblo. but the time sight come when the conditions of the fields made operations too difficult or virtually ineffective. at this point, tho north vietnamese might want to transfer operations to bases in china,
think the chinese would be highly reluctanttho risks to their own territory from suchif the north vietnamoso did insist on operating outbases, tho chinese probably could not affordthem. thus, therehance that the chinese would
allow some limited operations by the North Vietnamese from bases in China, but under tho tightest Chinese control so as to minimize tho risks of US retaliation.
28. Regardloss of whether the North Vietnameseanctuary of some kind in China, there wouldontinuing danger of air incidents near the Chinese border or over Chinese territory. On several occasions in recent weeks tho Chinose havo responded more vigorously to US air intrusion and to US striko aircraft flying over North Vietnam near the. border. This seems likely to continue, as the nature of US air operationshance of extending over Chinese territory. As for the USSR, wo would not exclude the surfacing at some point of some Soviet military personnelvolunteer"
rolo. In any case, increased Soviet and Chinese support would probably havo the effect of reinforcing Hanoi's determination to porsevere in its policies despite greater pressures on supply lines to China.
29. Variant b. The most important additional effect of this variant would be the direct challenge it posed to the USSR. The Soviets might consider countering the interdiction by military actions in the area, or bringing prossuros on the US or its allies in other areas (say Berlin). But those two courses seem too hazardous or unpromising. It is much more
likely that the main Soviet rosponse would be to continue supplying Hanoi, transportation arrangements with China permitting, and to put maximum political pressures on the US. Moscow would try to mobilize world opinion on the issue of blocking free passage of all shipping, and, depending on Hanoi's attitude would consider taking the matter to the UN. In addition, it would be likely to tako other diplomatic actions which would demonstrate the damage to US-Soviet relations across the board.
Nevertheless, as tho crisis intensified, thereood chance the USSR wouldtronger effortolitical solution, urging the course of negotiations moro vigorously than thoy havo heretofore. But thoy probably would still not bo willing to make Hanoi's acceptance of talks an explicit condition of continued material support.
The interdiction of North Vietnamese ports would not in itself compel tho Chinese to undertake new military actions. It is highly unlikely that the Chinese would enter the war at this point. It is likely, however, that the Chinese commitment to support Vietnam would be strengthened. If requested, the Chinese might Introduce some combat troops in North Vietnam. The net.result of this program would bo to
place Chinaore influential position in Hanoi, since the remaining lines of supply wouldunder Peking's control. The main thrust of China's growing leverage and influence would be directed toward persuading Hanoi to continue the fight.Original document.