Created: 12/3/1965

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Dear Mac:

He re vith an estimative neaoraodua prepared for oc by tbe Board of National Estimates oa tha subject of Coenunlst reactions to US attacks on POL Installations in Borth Vletoan. Bob KcHaaara has foundhoughtful and useful document, sod suggests thot you may find it worth while too.

V.ABORN Director

Honorable MeOeorge Bundy

Special Assistant to the President for Rational Security Affairs



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SUBJECT: ReactionsS Course of Actios io Vietnam

tje PROBLEM: To estloats reectlcos, principally tbOH cf tie Cctmounista,tepped-up US effort la tho Vietnamese var. The measures vould include further troop commitments which vould double or triple present US strength, bombing of DRV military and Industrial targets hitherto spared, and the mining of DRV harbors.

1. Present Communist policy is to continue to prosecute tbe var vigorously in the South. Tbe CanBuniata recognise tbat the US relaforcementi5etermination to avoid defeat. Tbey expect more US troops and probably anticipate that targets la the Eanol-Haiphong area vill come under air attack. Hevartbelees, they remain unwilling to dsmp dovn the conflict or to move toward negotiation. Theyong vor, but tbey continue to believe that tlma is their ally and that their own staying power is superior.

2. UBT Reaction* to Air Strlfrea. We do not balievo thot tho postulated airnvould alter three Communist calculation*. The DRV vould not decide to cult; PAYS nfiltration soutfcverd vould continue. Damage from the strike* would moke It considerablydifficult to support tbe vnr in the South, but these difficulties vould neither be immediate nor insurmountable.

3- Chinese Reaction*. China vould encourage Borth Vietnam to Persevere end vould make strenuous efforts to help overcome the effect of tbey saodlng mere engineering and support units to Horth Vietnam. The Chinese vould probably provide AAA units but probably not air cover over the DBV.frcm Chinese bases. Almost certainly they vould not permit the USSR to operate combat aircraft from Chinese bases,

Reactions to Mining. Peiping and Hanoi vould try toaximum amount of supplies moving lo shollov-draft coastal shipping. Tbe mining vould also causa thorn to make intensive afforts to keep opan tha rail lines from ChiDa.

5- Soviet Reactions. The postulated attack* vould probably not only destroy much of the military equipment auppllod by the

USSR but vould greatly Increaae Sorlet rerupply problems. We believe that Soviet ehipa vould avoid mined areaa. Hence, almost

of neceasity, the volume cf Soviet military and economic aid would decline. Thla wouldajor frustration cf Moscow's Vietnam policy; it would probably reduce Soviet influence In Hanoi, and it would certainly Increase tbe deterioration in Soviet-US relations.

6. Free World Reactions. Mining vould be offensive to moat non-Communist nations, particularly to maritime states such as tbe UK and Norway. Tbe action vould be widely criticised, but Free World shipping would avoid mined areas. Tbe combinations of vider air strike* and mining would greatly increase publicof opposition to the US, generate condemnatory efforts in the UN, and make it more difficult to retain foreign governaent support for the US effort In Vietnam. Wideopread apprehensionider war was becoming inevitable vould markedly Increase pressures on the US to negotiate.

7- BeactlcBB to More US Troops. Tbe ERV almost certainly ia preparing additional PAVN units for dlapatch to the South. We see little ebaaca thot, upon learning of DS intentions to augoent its forces, Hanoi would decide to damp down the var.

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rather then conclude in advance thot the tide of battle vould turn percacactly against tbea, the ccommlats vould choose to boost their ovo ecmmltaeot end to testapabilities and viu to persevere ethigher level of conflict end casualties. thus tbe drv reaction vould probablyarger program of paw

longer-term reactlooa. if the u3 vera viulng to ccecalt enough forcesand ve cannot say bow mich vould be t could ultimately prevent the drv/vc from sustainingignificant level. when this point vas reached, vhll* they could perhaps aiaply revert tolow level of smell-unit actions, they might believe it necessary toore fundamental choice between resorting to political tactics or enlarging the var. ve believe that it vouldrolonged period of military discouragement to coovinca tho lev and tbe vc, persuaded bb they are of their inherent advantages, that they bad reachedass.

9- if this point vera reached, chinese influenc* vould weigh heavily in the dsvs decision. chinese military intervention would be needed to enlarge the var la an effective way. ifera not forthcoming, the drv vould perf ore* have to resort

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primarily to political tactics, parhapc cootlnulog herescaents aad sabotageow level. If tbe CblDCia wereo Intervene and enlarge the var, however,7 regime would fear tbe ultimate loss of lta independence whatever tbe final outcome. Dot China night at thla point regard lta stakes as so high tbat it vould overbear any reluctance in Hanoi to Its intervention. Tho USSR for its part would argue against this course and probably vara Hanoi to expect no Solvet assistance.

10. Prudence would aeea to dictate that Hanoi and Peiping should choose at this stage to reduce the effort in tbe South, perhaps negotiate, and salvage their resources for another day. Ve thinkthe chancesittle better then avan that thla la what tbey would do. But their ideological and actional comitnent, and tbe high political stakes larolved, persuade us tbat there la an almost equal chance that they vould do tbe opposite, tbat Is, enlarge the var and bring In largo numbers of Chinese forces. They have cade certain preparations which could point in this direction. This latter course would Imply that China disbelieved in US viHingneas to use nuelsar waapona, discounted

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