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The Vietnam Air War


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USA Material

USAF Repatriation of PoWs from North Vietnam

USA Wasp Flygirls

The 1960's saw the tragedy of Vietnam unfold, with the US unleashing its full arsenal of air weapons and the North Vietnamese responding with advanced jets from the USSR, frequently flown by Russians, along with a formidabled array of surface to air defence missiles.

This is a call to action to get aircrew stories from this titanic struggle into the history books. We know something of the US experience but there is much left to tell, and we know almost nothing about the North Vietnamese, Russian and Chinese experience. And the Australian involvement is largely unknown.

If you have anything to contribute please contact us and we'll work with you to get your data, histories, stories, letters and photos into the people's history. Just email us via our Helpdesk.

Following are links to sites that have valuable and interesting information on the Vietnam conflict. We have an effort underway to contact these sites to see if they have personal histories they can contribute to Aircrew Remembered. If you know of other sites we could contact, please let us know

U.S. Air Force Units in the Vietnam War

Vietnam War: Air Force Top Secret Blue Book Studies 1962 to 1980

Top Secret "Blue Book" studies produced by the Air Force Historical Studies Office.

The "Blue Book" studies examined a wide range of United States Air Force plans, policies, and operations in Southeast Asia. The historians at the Air Force Historical Studies Office created current history reviews of essential Vietnam War subjects. Some of these studies were not declassified until August 2008.

The thirty-six studies in this collection include:

USAF Plans and Operations: The Air Campaign against North Vietnam, 1966

Produced in 1968 as a Top Secret (not declassified and released to the public until 2008) current history, this study reviews the political background and top level discussions leading to the renewed bombing campaign in early 1966, the restrictions that were still imposed on air operations as of 1968, and the positions taken on them by the military chiefs. It discusses the various studies and events which led to President Johnson's decision to strike at North Vietnam's oil storage facilities and the results of those mid-year attacks. It also examines the increasing effectiveness of enemy air defenses and the continuing assessments of the air campaign under way at year's end.

The report covers:

Barrel Roll - Initiated in December 1964, Barrel Roll missions were flown against troops, equipment and supplies provided by North Vietnam in support of the Communist lead Pathet Lao.

Combat Beaver - An air concept developed by the Air Staff in conjunction with the other services during September-November 1966. It was designed to support a proposed electronic and ground barrier system between North and South Vietnam.

Flaming Dart - The initial Navy and Air Force retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam on 7-8 and 11 February 1965.

Gate Guard - An air program designed to slow North Vietnamese infiltration toward the demilitarized zone. It began on 1 May 1966 in the northern part of Laos and then shifted into route package area I in North


Rolling Thunder - The major air campaign begun on 2 March 1965 which inaugurated regularly scheduled air strikes against North Vietnam.

Steel Tiger - Initiated in April 1965, Steel Tiger strikes were made against infiltration routes south of the 17th parallel in Laos.

Tally-Ho - An air interdiction program started on 20 June 1966 in the southern part of North Vietnam, aimed at slowing the infiltration of

North Vietnamese troops, equipment, and supplies through the demilitarized zone into South Vietnam.

Tiger Hound - Begun in December 1965, these strikes were aimed at infiltration targets in southern Laos. They featured for the first time in Laos the use of forward air controllers and airborne command and control for certain strikes.

Wild Weasel - USAF aircraft, largely F-100F's and F-105F's, specially equipped with electronic and other devices to neutralize or destroy Soviet-provided SA-2 sites in North Vietnam.

The appendixes includes a chronology of the growth of North Vietnamese Air Defenses and tables covering U.S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in Southeast Asia, B-52 Sorties in Southeast Asia, U.S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in North Vietnam, U.S. Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia, USAF Combat Attrition in North Vietnam, U.S. Aircraft Losses to SA-2's, SA-2 Sites in North Vietnam, Light and Medium Antiaircraft Artillery Guns in North Vietnam, U.S. Aircraft Losses in Aerial Combat, and North Vietnamese Aircraft Losses in Aerial Combat.

USAF Counterinsurgency Doctrines and Capabilities 1961-1962

When the Kennedy administration took office in January 1961 the United States faced major crises in Cuba, the Congo, Laos, and Vietnam. This study produced in 1964 concerns a subject that at the time had newly became of great importance to the Air Force and the national security system of the United States. The study USAF Counterinsurgency Doctrines and Capabilities traces the upsurge of insurgency movements in many areas of the world and narrates the actions taken by the United States during 1961 to 1962. It covers the development of doctrines and capabilities to counter such movements, with special attention to Air Force action.

The report covers the meager counterinsurgency capability of the United States in the early 1960's; the impact of President Kennedy's interest in the subject; the development of an Air Force counterinsurgency doctrine; the roles and missions' controversy between the Air Force and the Army; the relationship with the U.S. Strike Command; the acquisition of suitable aircraft; and the buildup of specially trained Air Force counterinsurgency units.

USAF Plans and Policies in South Vietnam, 1961-1963.

This study outlines the role of the USAF in aiding the South Vietnamese effort to defeat the communist-led Viet Cong. The author begins by discussing general U.S. policy leading to increased military and economic assistance to South Vietnam. He then describes the principal USAF deployments and augmentations, Air Force efforts to obtain a larger military planning role, some facets of plans and operations, the Air Force-Army divergence over the use and control of air-power in combat

training and in testing, defoliation activities, and USAF support for the Vietnamese Air Force. The study ends with an account of events leading to the overthrow of the Diem government in Saigon late in 1963.

Special Air Warfare Doctrines and Capabilities, 1963

This study recounts the continuing Air Force-Army struggle over special warfare roles and missions; the OSD acceptance of an Air Force proposal to increase its special air warfare force; the Army's efforts to add organic aviation to its Special Forces; the relationship of STRICOM

to the special warfare forces of the services; the buildup of special air warfare units in the unified commands; the growing importance of civic action and mobile training teams in underdeveloped nations; and progress in securing more modern aircraft.

USAF Plans and Policies in South Vietnam and Laos 1964

This study emphasizes USAF's plans and policies with respect to South Vietnam and Laos in 1964. In the first four chapters the author describes the progressive military and political decline of the Saigon regime, after two government coups, and the efforts by U.S. authorities to cope with this problem. He notes especially the view of the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, who frequently stated that only air strikes on North Vietnam could end the insurgencies in South Vietnam and in Laos and bring stability to the Vietnamese government. This contrasted with administration efforts to devise an effective pacification program and, pending emergence of a stable government, its decision to adopt a "low risk" policy to avoid military escalation.

In the remaining chapters of the study, the author discusses briefly the major USAF augmentations, the expansion of the Vietnamese Air Force, the problem of service representation in Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, and the rules of engagement as they affected particularly air combat training. The study concludes with a brief review of the beginning of USAF special air warfare training for the Royal Laotian Air Force and the inauguration of limited USAF and Navy air operations over Laos to contain Communist expansion in that country.

USAF Plans and Operations in Southeast Asia, 1965

This study highlights USAF plans, policies, and operations in Southeast Asia during 1965, especially as they were significantly changed by President Johnson's key decisions to bomb North Vietnam and transform the U.S. advisory role in South Vietnam to one of active military support. The author focuses on USAF participation in the development of policy for prosecuting the war, the build-up of U.S. military strength in the theater, and the gradually intensified air operations against enemy forces in South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and Laos.

USAF Deployment Planning for Southeast Asia, 1966

This 1967 study discusses Air Force position on the strategy for the war. The report describes the Johnson Administration's deployment planning into 1968 for Southeast Asia and other Pacific Command areas. It focuses especially on the impact of the planning on the Air Force's resources and world-wide defense posture.

The Search for Military Alternatives 1967

This study focuses on the Chief of Staff and Air Staff roles, and highlights the plans and policies of higher authorities, the White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the recommendations of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Topics covered include plans for the military buildup in Southeast Asia, political considerations associated with new force deployments, and the continuing debate on war strategy and the conduct of the air campaign in the North.

USAF Plans and Policies: Logistics and Base Construction in Southeast Asia, 1967

This study completed in 1968 examines the overall logistic problems facing the Air Force in 1967 as it undertook to prepare for a war of seemingly indeterminate length. The author reviews the steps taken to improve the Air Force's munitions situation, Southeast Asia base construction, and high-level planning for construction of an anti-infiltration system across South Vietnam and Laos, which would require special USAF support facilities, equipment, and personnel.

USAF Manpower in Limited War, 1964-1967

This study examines the Air Force’s effort to augment its manpower resources to meet the rapidly expanding requirements of the Vietnam War. Prior to the summer of 1965, when Southeast Asia operations sharply increased, the USAF manpower pool had been contracting as a result of previous decisions and actions. Thereafter, the trend was reversed and the Air Force undertook measures to enlarge its base as quickly as possible.

USAF Plans and Policies: R&D for Southeast Asia, 1968

This study reviews several critical investigations of Air Force research and development procedures and programs, examines the functioning of the

Southeast Asia Operational Requirement system, and discusses USAF efforts to modify or develop new systems and equipment to counter the enemy's growing air defenses in North Vietnam. It reviews steps taken by the Air Force to improve bombing accuracies and briefly discusses the major systems which were developed and deployed to the theater under Project Shed Light.

The Administration Emphasizes Air Power, 1969

This 1971 Top Secret (declassified in 2008) study covers the policy changes introduced by the Nixon administration during 1969 in regard to the Vietnam War, particularly as they affected the role of air power. Repeatedly expressing determination to end the war as early as possible on the basis of self-determination of the South Vietnamese people, President Nixon decided, after negotiations with the Communists in Paris proved fruitless, to unilaterally withdraw U.S. forces while simultaneously strengthening Saigon's forces to take up the slack.

The first reduction in U. S. military strength in South Vietnam took place during the summer of 1969 when 25,000 troops were withdrawn. However, a particular phenomenon of the year was that air power was not materially reduced. The main theme of this history is that, in his effort to "wind down" the war via Vietnamization while maintaining pressure on North Vietnam to negotiate, the President made new and greater use of the Air Force.

The Role of Air Power Grows, 1970

This 1972 top secret (declassified in 2008) report reviews plans and policies effecting the air war in Southeast Asia, as they were discussed, reviewed, and ordered implemented in 1970 by the White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Air Force

In this study, the author discusses the Air Force's role in supporting President Nixon's decisions to withdraw American ground troops from the theater and rely primarily on air power to provide continuing U.S. support to the South Vietnamese in their fight against Hanoi's military units. The author examines the Washington-level decisions of early 1970 to reduce U.S. air operations while taking additional steps to strengthen Saigon's armed forces. The author also reviews the debates among Washington-level agencies on the effectiveness of the various air campaigns, and she devotes a chapter to USAF efforts to improve and modernize the Vietnamese Air Force.

Shield for Vietnamization and Withdrawal, 1971

This 1976 Top Secret (declassified in 2008) monograph covers United States Air Force plans, policies, and operations in Southeast Asia, focusing on the role of the Air Force in support of American Decisions to withdraw U.S. combat troops and to turn the conduct of the war over to the South Vietnamese. Massive USAF efforts were devoted to attacking and destroying enemy stockpiles and troop concentrations in Cambodia and Laos, to supporting South Vietnamese ground attacks in the Laotian panhandle, to attempting to Vietnamize the interdiction function, and, finally, to countering the enemy air buildup in late 1971. Complicating these endeavors was the requirement to withdraw certain American air units as part of the overall drawdown from Southeast Asia. In describing these actions, the author reviews key national policies and other developments that affected operations. These provide a background for understanding the dramatic events of 1971 in which the USAF was so much involved. It is an exciting and significant aspect of Air Force history.

Tactics and Techniques of Close Air Support Operations 1961 - 1973

This study traces the chief developments in close air support tactics and techniques from 1961 to 1973. Produced by Lt. Col. Ralph Rowley in 1976, this study was classified secret until 2007. In this study, Rowley examines such operations from the viewpoint of the pilots and crews of the attack aircraft. These included T-28's, A-1E's, A-26's, A-7's, F-100's, B-26's and B-57's. The role of Air Force gunships including the AC-47, AC-119, and the AC-130, and the armed FAC. In addition, the author describes the key role played by the Tactical Air Control System, which the Air Force established in Vietnam in the early 1960's.

End of US Involvement, 1973-1975

This 1980 monograph covers the United States Air Force involvement from 1973 up to the defeat of South Vietnam at the end of April 1975. Actual USAF operational involvement spanned only the first seven and a half months of 1973 and the final days of evacuation in 1975. However, the plans for retaliatory air attack against North Vietnam remained in effect throughout. According to Major General John W. Houston, who at the time was chief of the Office of Air Force History, after 1973, "South

Vietnamese continued to hope that U.S. air power would come to their rescue as it had before."

In the introduction E.H. Hartsook wrote, "It might appear that once the cease-fire agreement was signed in January 1973 and all U.S. forces withdrawn, there would be no further history to write about the Air Force in Southeast Asia. This was not the case, however. Although U.S. ground forces had withdrawn from Vietnam in accordance with domestic political and economic pressures, the administration still exerted strong efforts to increase South Vietnam's chances of survival against the North. The underpinning for these efforts included plans for an important continuing role for airpower based in Thailand.

"A prime objective in trying to increase South Vietnam's chances of survival was to guarantee the cease-fire against encroachments by Hanoi. In this, the administration made use of several tactics. First of all, by keeping the B-52s in Thailand, it aimed to scare North Vietnam into abiding by the peace agreement for fear of a Linebacker II-type retaliation, thus buying time for South Vietnam to strengthen its position. It tried to get Russia and China to stop sending military aid to Hanoi, within the framework of its larger diplomatic agreements with them. It sought cease-fires in Laos and Cambodia that would effectively keep North Vietnam from using these countries to supply its forces in South Vietnam. In this, it backed up its diplomatic efforts with its continued bombing and other U.S. military support to the governments in Laos and Cambodia that were contending with aggressive pro-communist factions. Making use of every tactic in trying to assure South Vietnam's viability, the administration also offered reconstruction aid to Hanoi, provided it honored the peace terms."

Air Power Helps Stop the Invasion and End the War 1972

This monograph produced in 1978 covers the Air Force's participation in the last full year of US involvement in the Vietnam War when, after the great majority of US forces had been withdrawn, Hanoi launched its Easter offensive. This study relates how air, as almost the sole remaining US weapon, played a complex and varied role. This consisted not only of its key part in the military operations which turned back the North's offensive, but also of its influence on the negotiating process and its exercise of a "persuasion" role for US diplomacy.

The RF-101 Voodoo in Southeast Asia, 1961-1970

This study is a narrative of the use of the RF-101 Voodoo reconnaissance plane during the Vietnam War. The RF-101 Voodoo was conceived in the final months of World War II as the XF-88, the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo came into being 12 years later as a supersonic, single-place, twin-engine tactical fighter. Its reconnaissance version, the RF-101A, first joined Tactical Air Command reconnaissance squadrons at Shaw Air Force Base in March 1957, and two years later PACAF's two reconnaissance squadrons converted to the stronger RF-101C Voodoo.

The RF-101C carried a nose oblique camera and a three-camera fan array ahead of the cockpit, a viewfinder that allowed the pilot to see the ground below and ahead of his aircraft, and a split-vertical arrangement of two large-format cameras behind the cockpit. Subsequent modifications installed faster cameras for low altitude missions and improved controls, but also introduced the unpopular small-format cameras. With two 15,000-pound thrust jet engines with afterburners, it had a speed of 875 knots, and its 3,150 gallons of JP-4 fuel gave it a combat radius of more than 800 miles. Light on the controls and highly maneuverable, it was a pilot's airplane.

When the United States decided to bomb targets in North Vietnam, RF-101C pilots took the first pre-strike and post-strike photographs and led the Air Force and Vietnamese strike aircraft to the targets. The Voodoo pilots photographed objectives all the way to the China border braving antiaircraft fire, missiles, and MIG interceptors, and suffering losses.

B-57G - Tropic Moon III, 1967-1972

This 1978 study covers the development, testing, use in combat, modifying, and the retirement of the B-57G. Conceived in 1967 as project Tropic Moon III, the B-57G was the first jet bomber specifically configured for self-contained night attack sorties in Southeast Asia.

Development and Employment of Fixed Wing Gunships, 1962-1971

For this 1974 study the author interviewed many key participants involved in the development and employment of gunships. The report includes extensive data relating to this unique weapon system. Among the primary sources he consulted were official letters, messages, memoranda, reports, and minutes of meetings. He also consulted a number of historical studies dealing with gunships.

Forward Air Control Operations in Southeast Asia 1965-1970

This study is the second of a two-part history of Air Force FAC operations in Southeast Asia. The author discusses the evolution of the FAC force, its training, and typical aircraft flown in combat, primarily the O-1, O-2A, and OV-10. He also describes the use of other aircraft in FAC roles, such as helicopters, AC-47 gunships, A-26K attack aircraft, AC-130's, C-123's, the AC-119G, and the F-4 jet. The study also reviews steps taken by the Air Force to improve and refine tactics and techniques, including visual reconnaissance, marking targets, bomb damage assessment, etc. Among the combat roles forward air controllers performed were flying armed FAC aircraft, supporting long-range ground reconnaissance teams and the Special Forces, and maintaining a round the clock "rocket watch" in the Saigon area to deter Communist mortar and rocket attacks on allied bases.

The Air Force and Contract Management, 1961-1965

This report deals with the impact of a study project initiated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to improve the management of Department of Defense contracts. It briefly describes the Air Force's contract management organization and general approach to performing the function, the recommendations emerging from the study, and the decision by OSD to centralize contract management within a new Defense agency.

Evolution of Command and Control Doctrine for Close Air Support

This study completed in 1973 was prepared in response to an Air Staff request for a history of command and control procedures used in close air support (CAS).

Forward Air Controls Operations in Southeast Asia 1961-1965

This study describes the many problems which faced the first air controllers after their arrival in South Vietnam in early 1962. It discusses their efforts to overcome the language barrier and help train Vietnamese Air Force personnel, their role in establishing a centralized air control system, and the tactics and techniques they developed during the years 1961-1965.

The Air Force in Southeast Asia Logistic Plans and Policies 1968-1969

This study covers logistics support of the air war in Southeast Asia. It points out some of the problems dealt with and plans formulated by the air logistic staff in the period January 1968 through December 1969.

Other studies include:

The Air Force in Southeast Asia Logistic Plans and Policies 1968-1969

Electronic Countermeasures in the Air War against North Vietnam

Tactics and Techniques of Night Operations 1961-1970

USAF Plans and Policies: R&D for Southeast Asia, 1965-1967

Airpower Deployments in Support of National Policy, 1958-1963

The Air Force Command and Control System, 1950-1966

Logistic Plans and Policies in Southeast Asia, 1965

Logistic Plans and Policies in Southeast Asia, 1966

USAF Logistic Preparations for Limited War, 1958-1961

USAF Plans and Policies Logistics and Base Construction in Southeast Asia, 1967

Manpower Trends, 1960-1963

Strengthening of Air Force In-House Laboratories, 1961-1962

Strengthening USAF General Purpose Forces, 1961-1964


by Jacob Van Staaveren USAF Historical Diyision Liaison Office January 1968


USAF Plans and Operations: The Air Campaign Against North Vietnam, 1966, is the seventh of a series of historical studies on

the war in Southeast Asia prepared by the USAF Historical Division Liaison Office. The previous monographs covered plans, policies, and operations in the theater beginning in 1961.

The current history reviews the political background and top level discussions leading to the renewed bombing campaign in early 1966, the restrictions still imposed on air operations, and the positions taken on them by the military chiefs. It discusses the various studies and events which led to the President's decision to strike at North Vietnam's oil storage facilities and the results of those mid-year attacks. It also examines the increasing effectiveness of enemy- air defenses and the continuing assessments of the air campaign under way at year's end.


Chief USAF Historical Division Liaison Office


Listed below are the code names programs, and aircraft cited in this study.

Barrel Roll

Initiated in December 1964, Barrel Roll mission were flown against troops, equipmen and supplies provided by North Vietnam in suppor of the Communist-led Pathet Lao.

Combat Beaver

An air concept developed by the Air Staff in conjunction with the other services during September-November 1966. It was designed to support a proposed electronic and ground barrier system between North and South Vietnam.

Flaming Dart

The initial Navy and Air Force retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam on 7-8 and 11 February 1965.

Gate Guard

An air program designed to slow North Vietnamese infiltration toward the demilitarized zone. It began on I May 1966 in the northern part of Laos and then shifted into route package area I in North Vietnam.

Iron Hand

Operations begun in August 1965 to locate and destroy Soviet-provided SA-2 missile sites in North Vietnam.

Rolling Thunder

The major air campaign begun on 2 March 1965 which inaugurated regularly scheduled air strikes against North Vietnam.

Steel Tiger

Initiated in April 1965, Stee1 Tiger strikes were made against infiltration routes south of the 11th parallel in Laos.


An air interdiction program started on 20 June 1966 in the southern part of North Vietnam, aimed at slowing the infiltration of North Vietnamese troops, equipment, and supplies through the demilitarized zone into South Vietnam.

Tiger Hound

Begun in December 1965, these strikes were aimed at infiltration targets in southern Laos. They featured for the first time in Laos the use of forward air controllers and airborne comrnand and control for certain strikes.

Wild Weasel

USAF aircraft, largely F-100Frs and F-105Frs, specially equipped with electronic and other devices to neutralize or destroy Soviet-provided SA-2 sites in North Vietnam.


Air Operations in May: Beginning of Gate Guard


Background to Rolling Thunder 1

The Air Force and JCS Urge Early Renewed Bombing 4

Secretary McNamara's Views 7

The Bombing Resumes and Further Air Planning g


Air Operations and Analyses  14

The Beginning of Rolling Thunder Program 50

The Rolling Thunder Study of 6 April. 22

Air Operations in May 25

Highlights of June Operations .27


Background of the POL Air Strikes. . 29

The Strikes of 29 June . 3 I

The Mid-1966 Assessment . 33

The Beginning of Rolling Thunder Program 5l . . . 35

The Tally-Ho Air Campaign . . . 38


. Operational Studies . 43

The Effectiveness of Air Power . . 45

Studies on Aircraft Attrition " 49

The Hise Report. . . Sz

Secretary McNamarats Proposal to Reduce Aircraft Attrition . b6


Approval of Rolling Thunder Program 52 . bg

The Furor over Air Strikes on Hanoi . 60

Other Air Operations in Novernber and December. . . " . 62

Assessment of Enemy Air Defenses . . . " 63

Assessments of the Air War Against North Vietnam " 6?

NOTES . .72


Appendix I - U.S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in Southeast Asia " 82

Appendix 2 - B-52 Sorties in Southeast Asia , 82

Appendix 3 - U.S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in North Vietnam . 83

Appendix 4 - U. S. Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia " 84

Appendix 5 - USAF Combat Attrition in North Vietnam . 85

Appendix 6 - U. S. Aircraft Losses to SA-2's . 85

Appendix ? - SA-2 Sites in North Vietnam . 86

Appendix 8 - Light and Medium Antiaircraft Artillery Guns

in North Vietnam. . 86

Appendix I - U"S. Aircraft Losses in Aerial Combat . 87

Appendix 10 - North Vietnamese Aircraft Losses ln Aerial Combat . . 87



Route Package Areas, North Vietnam


Chronology of the Growth of North Vietnamrs Air Defenses . "


From its inception, the out-of-country air campaign in Southeast Asia, that is, against targets in North Vietnam and Laos, was limited in scope and objective. The first air strikes against North Vietnam were conducted on 5 August 1964 by Navy aircraft in retaliation for Communist attacks on U. S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The next ones occurred on 7-8 and 11 February 1965 when USAF and Navy aircraft flew "Flaming Dart I and II missions in retaliation for Viet Cong assaults on U. S. military bases in South Vietnam. These were followed by an air program against selected North Vietnamese targets in order to exert, slowly and progressively, more military pressure on the Hanoi regime. Designated "Rolling Thunder, " it began on 2 March 1965. As explained by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, the air attacks had.three main purposes: raise South Vietnamese morale, reduce the infiltration of men and supplies to South Vietnam and increase its cost, and force the Communists at some point to the negotiating table.

Background to Rolling Thunder

The Rolling Thunder program was basically a USAF-Navy air effort but included occasional token sorties by the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). Adm. U. S. Grant Sharp, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), Honolulu, exercised operational control through the commanders of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), the Seventh Fleet, and the Military Assistance, Command, Vietnam (MACV). Coordination control was assigned to the PACAF commander with the tacit understanding that it would be further delegated to Maj. Gen. JosephH. Moore, Jr.,

* For highlights of the air war against North Vietnam and Laos prior to 1966, see Jacob Van Staaveren, USAF Plans and Policies in South Vietnam and Laos, (AFCHO, 1964), and USAF Plan

commander of the 2d Air Division (predecessor of the Seventh Air Force) in South Vietnam. Both the Air Staff and the PACAF commander considered this arrangrnent inefficient, believing that air assets in Southeast Asia, with few exceptions, should be under the control of a single Air Force commander. With the air program carefully circumscribed, the North Vietnamese initially enjoyed extensive sanctuaries. These included the Hanoi-Haiphong area and the northeastern and northwestern portions of the country closest to China. Targets were selected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) after considering the recommendations of Admiral Sharp and the MACV commander, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the decisions being based on intelligence from the war theater and in Washington. The Secretary of Defense reviewed the recommendations and then submitted them to the President for final approval. Special targeting committees performed this vital task.

Rolling Thunder at first was characterized by individually approved air strikes but, as the campaign progressed, the high authorities approved one- and two-week target packages in advance and also gradually expanded the bombing area. In August 1965 they narrowed North Vietnam's sanctuaries to a 30-nautical mile radius of Hanoi, a 10-nautical mile radius of Haiphong, a 21-nautieal mile "buffer" near the Chinese border extending from the coast to longitude I06c E. and a 30-nautical mile buffer from longitude 106" E. westward to the Laos border. By early September armed reconnaissance sorties had reached a rate of about 600 per week and did not rise above this figure during the remainder of the year. There was a reduction in the number of fixed targets that could be hit and ,to extension of the bombing area. Poor weather contributed to the static sortie rate after September.


SePtember was not reduced.



22 Apr 66




,f -.... .Ar".,. l,{t'''^'' *

^j i.l.' {uo c^l

\--",.*. ]

fIt--., '1-r-\,

,l----t .z'r lt\\ l\





Defined os thot Areo Extending North frm th€ DMZ to o line cmmencing on the cos ot f 7-52N, 106'27E, olmg ond ircluding rqrte |08 to its junction of routes |95 ond 15, due wesi to the Lootion Sorder.


Thot oreo extending North.from the Nqthern boundory of RP-l to o line beginning ot th Lootion border 3 NM Northwest of route 8, thencle 3 NM Nqth ond West of rante 8, Eostword to luncticr with route | | 3, thence 3 NM Norfh of route I l3 Eortword to th€



Thot oreo extending North hm the Northern bondory of BP-2 to o line conmencing ot the Lsotion border 3 NM South of Rote | 18, thence 3 NM Soth of Route.l 18 Eostword to lunction with Rote 15, ihence 3 NM West of Rote 15 Southword to luncticr wifh Rote 701 , ihence 3 NM South of Route 701 Eostword to the coost.


Thot ors extending North frorn the Nsthern bondory of RP-3 to loiitude 20-31 N.


Thot oreo Nqth of lotitude 20-31N ond West of longitude 105-20E extending westerly olmg the Lootion border to the CHICOM bcder, nctherly ond eosterly olong the CHICOM border tq 105-20E.

t RP-6 

Thot oreo North of lotitude 20-31 N ond Eost of longitude 105-20E extending northeosterly to the CHICOM border. This ro.ute pockogo is further divided by o line cmmencing ot 20-31 N/|05-20E ond lunning northeosterly to Honoi thence olmg'lfid ioiflllre porolleling Route lA to the CHICOM bqder. The oreo to the West of this line is designofed


Ihe oreo io the Eost of this line is designoted RP-68.



Source: USAF fu1gt Summary, 22 Apr 66



In Novernber I965 there was an important change in bombing procedure whenAdmiral Sharp, at the Navy's request, divided North Vietnam into six principal 'route packages. " Each included lines of communication (LOC's) and other targets suitable for armed reconnaissance strikes and were to be assigned to the Air Force or Navy for a two-week period, the duration of specific Rolling Thunder programs at that time. (Service air strikes against fixed JCS-numbered targets were excepted and took precedence over armed reconnaissance operations. ) Starting I0 December, the Air Force began armed reconnaissance flights in route packages II, rv, and v, and the Navy in route packages I and III.

General Moore, commander of the 2d Air Division, was dissatisfied with this split system of air responsibility. He felt it continued to forfeit the advantages of centralized air control under which the complementing capabilities of Air Force and Navy aircraft could be better coordinated.4

(u) on 24 December rg6b the Ameri.cans began a two-day christmas bombing pause in the air campaign against the North which eventually grew into a 37-day moratorium as the U. S. government made a major effort to find a basis for negotiating an end to the war. The limited bombing of targets in Laos and the air and ground war in South Vietnam continued, however. D

The Air Force and JCS Urge Early Renewed Bornbing

l|#) Both the Air staff and the usAF chief of Staff, Gen. John p. Mcconnell, were deeply troubled by the bombing moratorium. Testifying before Senate committees early in January 1g66, General McConnell observed that it enabled Hanoi to move men, supplies, and equipment around the clock and to restore its lines of communication. A delay in resuming attacks could prove costly in lives. Concerned about the relative ineffectiveness of the 1965 bombing effort, he favored removing political restraints on the use of air power to allow heavier strikes before a major U. S. and allied force buildup, then under consideration by the administration, was approved. He thought that the military effort against North Vietnarn should have a priority equal to that given by the administration to the war in the South.

Other service chiefs supported General McConnellrs recommendations to resume and intensify the bombing of the North. On 8 January 1966 they informed Secretary McNamara that the bombing pause was greatly weakening the U. S. negotiating "leverage" and proving advantageous to Hanoi, permitting it Jo reconstitute its forces and continue infiltration through Laos into South Vietnam. They recommended renewed bombing 48 hours'5?fbi*'a

Soviet delegation, then in Hanoi, returned to Moscow. Concerned about a possible Communist misinterpretation of U. S. resolve, the Joint Chiefs wanted to insure that any peace negotiations were pursued from a position of strength.

{-rC!+ After a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysis confirmed that the 1965 bombings had failed to halt the resupply of Communist forces, the JCS prepared another recommendation for Secretary McNamara. On 18 January it urged, again in accordance with General McConnell's view, that the bombing moratorium end with a "sharp'b16'itrr'b'frcllowed by expanded air operations throughout the North. It suggested reducing the 'sanctuary' areas to a lO-nautical-mile radius of Hanoi and Phuc Yen airfield, a 4-nautical mile radius of Haiphong, and a 20-nautical-mile "buffer" zone in the northeast and northwest areas near the Chinese border. The JCS also called for closing the major seaports (by mining) and removing other political restraints against striking i.mportant targets.

(If|{!-lt On 25 January, in answer to a query from Secretary McNamara, the JCS proposed three alternate ways to resume the bombing. One would use all Thai-based USAF aircraft and planes from three Navy carriers, flying 450 sorties per day f.or 72 hours, hitting all land and water targets (vehicles, ferries, pontoon bridges, etc. ) outside of the sanctuary areas. The second would use the same aircraft flying armed reconnaissance against all LOC and petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) targets for 24 to 72 hours with follow-on attacks in accordance with the first alternative. The third called for 600 armed reconnaissance sorties per week in southern North Vietnam with the ternpo being increased until the target program recommended on 18 January reached.

(+ATt€ In addition to their proposals to renew the bombing, the Joint Chiefs examined ways to improve air activity. They sent Admiral Sharp guidance on making more effective air strikes against watercraft on inland waterways in the North. Until the bombing halt, more watercraft had been observed as air attacks on the road and rail network had forced the North Vietnamese to rely increasingly on water transportation. The Joint Chiefs concluded that better air-delivered mines should be developed and asked the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to give special attention to this matter. 10

({t+GF3) The JCS also examined the problem of closing down the 124-mile rail link between Hanoi and Lao Cai. This and the Hanoi Dong Dang line were the two principal rail arteries to the Chinese border. Secretary McNamara had expressed surprise that the Hanoi-Lao Cai segment was still in service despite repeated air strikes by USAF aircraft before the bombing pause. On 22 January, the JCS chairman, Gen. Earle G. Wheeler responded that there were two reasons why it remained open: frequent aborts because of weather during December 1965 -- amounting to 37 percent of the planned sorties that month -- and the arrival of Chinese railway engineering personnel that substantially augmented the North Vietnamese repair capability. To keep the line closed, said General Wheeler, would require the destruction of three bridges, at least 100 armed reconnaissance sorties per week, and the use of reliable, Iong-delay bomb fuzes and seismic fuze antirailroad mines, both still under development.

Secretary McNamarar s Views

(U) The administration moved cautiously toward a decision on whether to renew the bombing of the North. On 19 January Secretary McNamara informed the Joint Chiefs that their views on this matter were under constant study by the State Department. On the 26th, in a summation of the 1965 Rolling Thunder program, the Defense Secretary told a House subcommittee "It was clearly recognized that this pressure, by itself, would not ever be sufficient to cause North Vietnam to move toward negotiation unless it were accompanied by military action in South Vietnam that proved to the North that they could not win there. These were our objectives then; they are our objectives now. A corollary of these objectives is the avoidance of unnecessary military risk. We, therefore, have directed the bombing against the military targets, primarily routes of infiltration. +

We have not bombed Hanoi, we have not bombed Haiphong. We have not bombed certain petroleum supplies which are important. We have not mined the Haiphong port. We have gradually evolved from last February to mid-December, a target system that included all of North Vietnam except certain specified locations. The targets were very carefully chosen and the rate at which the bombing program grew was very carefully controlled, all for the purpose of trying to achieve our limited objective without widening the conflict.

(U) It was also Secretary McNarnarats "strong personal opinion" that the war in South Vietnam could not be won solely by bombing the North and that the northern air campaign should be essentially a "supplement" to military action in the South. 13

(al6|r{prfFAlthough the air warwas carefully limited, the Defense Secretary informed the President that it had already achieved the objective of raising the cost of infiltration. Air attacks had reduced the amount of enemy supplies reaching the South, carried mostly by trucks over greatly improved routes, from about 400 to 200 tons per day. Moreover, they had diverted 50,000 to 100,000 personnel to air defense and repair work, hampered the mobility of the populace, forced decentralization of government activities thus creating more inefficiency and political risk, and reduced North Vietnamrs activities in Laos.

(.lfl.q!r+' For 1966, Secretary McNamara thought that the bombing "at a minimum" should include 4,000 attack sorties per month consisting of day and night armed reconnaissance against rail and road targets and POL storage sites except in cities and the buffer zone near the Chinese border. He proposed more intense bombing of targets in Laos, along the Bassac and Mekong rivers running into South Vietnam from Cambodia, and better surveillance of the sea approaches. In the South there should be more harassment of enemy LOC's and destruction of his bases.

({-€4IFtt Recognizing that estimates of enemy needs and capabilities and the results of air action "could be wrong by a factor of two either way,  the Secretary advised the President that unless studies under way indicated otherwise, heavier bombing probably would not put a tigirt ceiling on the enemy's activities in South Vietnam. However, he thought it would reduce the flow of Communist supplies and limit the enemy's flexibility to undertake frequent offensive action or to defend himself adequately against U. S. , allied, nse and repair crews varied widely during 1966. See pp 34, 47, and 69.


and South Vietnarnese troops. Mr. McNamara suggested two possible byproducts of the bombing effort: it should help to precondition Hanoi toward negotiation and an acceptable end to the war and it would maintain the morale of the South Vietnamese armed forces. The defense chief also outlined for the President the 1966 military objectives for South Vietnam.

The Bombing Resumes and Further Air Planning

(U) Having received no aceeptable response from Hanoi to his peace overtures, President Johnson on 31 January ordered resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam. It began the same day. "Our air strikes. from the beginning, t' the President announced, "have been aimed at military targets and controlled with great care. Those who direct and supply the aggression haveno claim to immunity from military reply. " other officials told newsmen that the United States would continue to limit bombing of the North but intensify other aspects of the war, includingmore use of B-52 bombers and ground 'rtillery in South Vietnam. I5

{neff) As antieipated, the bombing moratorium had in fact benefited the North Vietnamese. USAF reconnaissance revealed that supplies had moved by truck and rail 24 hours per day and that repairs and new "orrli.r.r"rri on the road and rail net likewise had proceeded on a ttround-the-clockt'basis. General McConne1l believed that the moratorium had permitted the North to between President Johnson, and South vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen cao Ky at Honolulu from 6 to 8 February. They agreed to try to: 

(i) raise the casualty rate of Viet Cong- North Vietnamese forces to a level equal to their capability to put new men in the field; 

(2) increase the areas denied to the Comrnunists from 10 to 20 percent to 40to 50 percent; 

(3) increase the population in secure areas from 50 to 60 percent; 

(4) pacify four high-priority areas containing the following population:

Da Nang, 387,000; Qui Nhon, 650,000; Hoa Hao, 800,000, and Saigon, 3, 500,00O; 

(5) increase from 30 to 50 percent the roads and rail lines open for use; and 

(6) insure the defense of all military bases, political and population centers, and food-producing areas under the control of the Saigon government. IO strengthen its antiaircraft defenses, including expansion of its SA-2 system from about 50 to 60 sites. Admiral Sharp reported the enemy had deployed about 40 more air defense positions in the northwest rail line area and 26 l6 more guns to protect routes south of Vinh.

(*€{ft? When the aerial attacks resumed as Rolling Thunder program 48, allied air strength in South Vietnam and Thailand consisted of about 689 U. S. and I25 Vietnamese Air Force tactical combat aircraft. tor" would aruive in subsequent months. The limitations placed on the renewed bombing effort disappointed the Joint Chiefs, especially since none of their recomrnendations had been accepted, In fact, the program was more restrictive than before the bombing pause. Armed reconnaissance during February was limited to 300 sorties per day and almost solely to the four route package areas south of Hanoi. Only one JCS target, Dien Bien Phu airfield, was hit several times, Poor weather forced the cancellation of many strikes and others were diverted to targets in Laos. A Pacific Command (PACOM) assessment indicated that the renewed air effort was producing few important results as compared to those attained during 1965 against trucks, railroad rolling stock, and watercraft.

tE5#) Meanwhile, the bombing policy remained under intensive review. At the request of Secretary McNamara, General Wheeler on I February asked the service chiefs to establish a joint study group which would exarnine again the Rolling Thunder program and produce data that could serve as a basis for future JCS recommendations. They quickly organized the group under the Ieadership of Brig. Gen. Jammie M. Philpott, Director of Intelligence,

x The number of U. S. tactical combat aircraft by service were: Air Force, 355; Navy (three carri.ers), 209; and Marine Corps, 125. In addition the Air Force had 30 B-52rs in Guam. (North Vietnam possessed about ?5 MIG's. )


Strategic Air Command (SAC). Its report was not issued until April. 18

(ff#fi On 8 February, following a three-week conference of service officials in Honolulu to plan U. S. and allied air and ground deploy.rnents through fiscal year 1968, AdrniraL Sharp and his staff bri.efed Secretary McNamara on the results of their deliberations. They proposed a program of stepped up air attacks in the North and in Laos with the immediate goal of destroying Communist resources contributing to the aggression, and of harassing, disrupting, and impeding the movement of men and materiel.

Admiral Sharp advocated 7, 100 combat sorties per month for the North and 3, 000 per month for the Solrth.

Secretary McNamara did not immediately respond to these sor.tie proposals. However, he approved, with certain modifications, CINCPAC's recomrnended schedule for additional air and ground forces. These deployments promised to strain severely the resources of the services, especially those of the Air Force and the Army. Coneerned abqrt,theinimpact on the Air Forcers ttroles and missions,rl 1e1"" structure, overall posture, and research and development needs, Lt. Gen. H. T. Wheless, Assistant Vice Chief of Staff on 18 February directed Headquarters USAFTs Operations Analysis Office to undertake. a trvigorous" analysis and asked all Air Staff offices to support the effort. Its major purpose was to develop a more comprehensive data base on the use of air power in Southeast Asia.

{:#ff Because of the decision to deploy more forces and the likelihood of stepped up air and ground operations, General McConnell decided a number of organizational changes were necessary. He directed the Air Staff to replace the 2nd Air Division with a numbered Air Force, upgrade the commander of the Thirteenth Air Force in the Philippines to three-star rank,


and formalize USAF-Army airlift arrangements in the theater. '' :'r' -q1ffi4|' 

With the air campaign continuing at a low tempo, the JCS, with Air Staff support, reaffirmed its prior recommendation to Secretary McNamara for accelerated air operations against the North and to all targets stilL under administration wraps. If this could not be approved, the JCS urged extending operations at least to the previously authorized areas. The Joint Chiefs warned that if more remunerative targets could not be hit to compensate for the handicaps imposed by operational restraints, more air sorties should be flown elsewhere. They also raised their estimated sortie requirement for the northern campaign from 7, 100 to 7,400 per month,..citing Admiral Sharp's newly acquired intelligence which confirmed additional enemy deployments of SA-2 missiles and possible Chinese antiaircraft artillery units22 in the northeast region.(egr€ltl Secretary McNamara i.nforrned the JCS that the political atmosphere was not favorable for implementing these recommendations, Some Air Staff members attributed the administration's cautiousness to the Senate Foreign Relations Cornrnittee hearings on the riqar, v/hich began 4 February under the chairmanship of Senator J. William Fulbright. In addition, the Defense Secretary was known to believe that there were limitations to what air power could do in the type of war being waged in Southeast Asia. Mr. McNamara thought that even the obliteration of North Vietnam would not corrpletely end that countryts support of enemy operations in the South since most of the arms and arnmunition came from other Communist nations. He firmly believed that the war would have to be won on the ground in South Vietnam, (U) Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown echoed this administration position position, asserting publicly on 25 February that tfie'destmction of the Northrs industrial capacity would neither prevent the resupply of equipment and troops in the South nor end hostilities. He also said:24 . should it appear that we were trying to destroy North Vietnam, the prospect of escalation by the other side would increase, and with it would increase the possibility of heavier U. S. casualties and an even harder and longer war . our objective is not to destroy North Vietnam. It is to stop aggression against South Vietnam at the lowest feasible cost in lives and property. We should take the course that is most likely to bring a satisfactory outcome . " at a comparately low risk and low cost to ourselves. Our course is to apply increasing pressure in South Vietnam both by ground and supporting air attacks; to make it clear to the North Vietnamese and Cong forces , . that life is going tq get more difficult for them that war is expensive and dangerous. (U) Thus, for the time being, the JCS-recommended program for an accelerated air eampaign against North Vietnam had no chanee of receiving administration approval



{ffff) On 1 March the JCS generally enCorsed Admiral Sharprs "Case I" air, ground,. and naval deployment program leading to steppedup operations against the Communists in North and South Vietnam and Laos. It also recornmended again that the war be fought in accordance with the Concept for Vietnam paper which it had approved on 27 August 1965 and later amenCed. This paper called for air strikes against the Northrs warsupporting industries in the Hanoi-Haiphong area, aerial mining of the ports, additional interdiction of inland and coastal waterways, and special air and ground operations in Laos -- all recommended many times in various ways. But administration authorities continued to favor a more modest air effort against the Hanoi regime. . t' ! 

Air Operations and Analyses

The new Rolling Thunder program -- number 49 -- was ushered in on 1 March. It was still limited to armed reconnaissance of the North but the admi.nistration had broadened the authorized attack area to include coastal regions and had eased restrictions to permit the use of air power up to the level existing when bombing ceased on 24 December 1965. The Air Force and Navy were allocated a total of 5, 100 armed reconnaissance sorties (and 3, 000 for Laos), with the number to be flown by each contingent on weather and other operational factors. Poor weather, however, limited their sorties to 4,491 during the month. The Air Force concentrated its efforts against targets in route packages I, III, and VIA, the Navy in route x Case I called for deployment of a total of 413,557 U.S. personnel in South Vietnam by the end of calendar year 1966. 15 packages II and IV and against coastal targets in route package I through IV. The VNAF flew token sorties in route package I under the protection of U. S. Marine Corps electronic and escort aircraft. On 10 March the JCS again pressed for its proposed accelerated air program vfith-eanly attacks on POL sites, the main rail system running from, and the mining of deep water ports. Again the recommendation was not acted 2 upon. (il5r€?f) Meanwhile, the North's air defense system began to pose a greater threat to USAF and Navy operations. On 3 March photo reconnaissance aircraft discovered about 25 MIG-21 fuselage crates at Phuc Yen airfield near Hanoi. USAF " Big Eye" EC-121D aircraft also detected airborne MIGts about 55 times during March, although there were no engagernents. Admiral Sharp directed the PACAF and Seventh Fleet. commanders to prepare for counter-air operations and the SAC commander to submit a plan for a B-52 strike, if necessary, against Phuc Yen and Kep airfields. He asked for additional electronically equipped USAF EB-66 aircraft to reduce the effectiveness of the SA-2 missiles and the antiaircraft guns. t'Jamming" was thought to have already reduced the use- 3 fulness of enemy air defenses, t "'"'', ({FHTFT) Aircraft losses to enemy ground fire continued to cause rnuch concern. A Joint Staff study of the problern during March showed that 199 American aircraft had been lost over North Vietnam since the bombings began on 7 February 1965, sixteen of them by SA-2 missiles. mrnended striking the North's airfields on 10 Augrst 1964 and the JCS sent its first recommendation to do so on 14 November 1964. By 1 March 1966 the JCS had made a total of Il such recommendations but the administration had approved strikes on on1.y three small airfields at Vinh, Dong Hoi, and Dien Bien Phu in May 1965, June 1965, and February 196f. respectively. l6 The aircraft loss rate was six times higher in the northeast, the most heavil defended area,than in the rest of North Vietnam.Headquarters USAF estimated *4 the Northrs antiaircraft strength at 2,525 guns.  

To improve its analysis of aircraft losses and other operational

data, the Air Staff on 26 March established an ad hoc study group in the

Directorate of Operations. In the same month the Chief of Operations Analysis,

in response to General Whelesst directive of l7 February, completed an

initial study on the effectiveness of air interdiction in Southeaet,Asia;. It

summarized the enemy's supply requirements, his capability to transport

supplies by land or sea, and the extent air strikes had hampered such activities.

One conclusion was that air attacks had not yet decreased the movement

of men and supplies from the North through Laos to South Vietnam.

They had, however, infLicted about $15 to 916 million direct and g8 million

indirect damage on the Northrs economy and forced Hanoi to recruit 30,000

more personnel, in addition to local forces, to perform repair work. An

analysis of one route from Vinh to Muang Phine suggested that air attacks

had caused the Communists to increase their truck inventorv by one-third

and their transport time by two-thirds. 5

{:ff) Another Operations Analysis interdiction study listed enemy

targets destroyed or damaged in North Vietnam and Laos thrtugh March

1966 as follows:

* Estimates of North Vietnamrs antiaircraft gun inventory varied considerably

during 1966. See Admiral Sharp's estimate of July,p 34,the Seventh

Air Forcers estimate for January and December 1966, p 64, and a final

estimate, app 8.




LOC Network *

Counter-Air *

++ All Other


North Vietnam

Dam TotaI

2,500 4,3O7

4,381 4,927

1 89 323

4,196 7,877

11, 266 17,164


Des Dam Total

ft:"-' 't

515 485 1,000

398 4,886 5,284

L45 67 I 45

2,783 1,259 3,99?

3,841 6,697 LO,426


l, 537





€rfls Concerning the Communist effort to fill craters and repair roads

damaged by air attacks, there were indications that only one man-day of direct

productive effort per attack sortie was needed to perform this task. "At

this rate, " the Operations Analysis study observed, rra few hundred sorties

t. ,. ,

per day would only make enough work for a few hundred men.rl

(fr€FS) As for Communist supplies, the study estimated that in 1965

they averaged 5I tons per day across the North Vietnamese-Laos border and

L6 tons per day acnoss the Laos-South Vietnamese border. For 1966 (through

March), the figures were ?0 and 35 tons respectively. The Laos panhandle

infiltration routes in themselves appeared to be capable, despite air attacks,

of supporting the current low-level cornbat by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese

forces. To support a higher combat level, for example, one day in seven, the

Communi.sts would have to use other supply channels or dip into South Vietnamese

stockpiles, either of which would complicate their distribution problems.

x Included bridges, road cuts, rail cuts, ferry ships.

-l-.:*. * i4

+ Included aircraft, runways, antiaircraft sites, SA-2 sites, and radar


++ Included buildings, POL tanks, power plants, locks and dams.




tffrapll Concurrently, there was planning for the next Rolling

Thunder program. In meetings with General Wheeler on 21 and 23 March,

Secretary McNamara set forth certain guidelines for stepping up air strikes

in the northeast and hitting additional JCS targets. The Joint Chiefs quickly

responded by proposing Rolling Thunder program 50. It called for launching

900 attack sorties against major lines of comrnunication and striking nine

POL storage areas, six bridges, one iron and steel plant, one early warning

and ground control intercept (EW/cCI) site, and one cement pi"t, inJ r*ra."

in Haiphong. Admiral Sharp planned to conduct this program within an allocation

of 8, 100 sorties (5, 100 for North Vietnam, 3, 000 for Laos), 7

(5r€;f) Administration approved this program, which began

on 1 April. For the first time in 1966 armed reconnaissance was authorized

over the far northeast and four new JCS targets (a11 rail anO fri.glway'iridges)

were cleared for interdiction. However, some time before program 50 ended

on 9 July, permission to strike the other JCS-recommended targets was withdrawn.

Dissatisfied the restri.ctions, General McConneLl and the Marine

Corps chief jointly advised the JCS that "sound military judgment" dictated

that all the targets be hit immediately. Higher administration officials withheld

consent, however, principally because of the unstable South Vietnamese

political situation vrhich developed after the ruling juntats ouster on 10 March

of Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chanh Thi, the I Corps .o*rrr"rrd"r.8

FS) Poor weather in April again limited the number of attack sorties

flown against the North and delayed until 5 May the completion of strikes

against the four authorized JCS targets. Other air operations included armed

reconnaissance against roads, rail lines, watercraft and similar LOC

.$.,i'i:l l. :;il

. ;i t:il i:{i.{.: n rrd{1:i1,r..." 11.11


l I0P{F8ftEfr

tar:gets. April also saw severaL important developments: establishment of

the Seventh Air Force, the first B-52 strike in North Vietnatn', a rnanked

step-up i.n Hanoits air defense effort that resulted in a U. S. downing of the

first MIG-21, a change in the command and contiol of route package I, and

the beginning of a study on increasing air pressure to offset civil disturbances

in South Vietnam.9

(Wl The establishment of the Seventh Air Force, effective B April,

followed General McConnellrs successful efforts to raise the stature of the

major USAF operational command in the theater. General fVfSbl'e cffrtinued

to serve as its chief with no change in his relationship with other commanders.

Also, in accordance with General McConnellts wishes, the commander of the

Thirteenth Air Force in the Philippines was raised to three-star rank on


1 July.

(If+D SAC made the first B-52 strike against the North on 12 April

when 30 bombers dropped 7,000 tons of 750- and 1,000-pound bombs on a

road segment of Mugia Fass near the Laotian border. It was believed to be

the single greatest air attack on a target since WmldWar II. Initial reports

indicated that "route 15" had been "definitely closed" by a lar{dslide"ts had

been hoped; however, 26 ll2 hours later reconnaissance photos showed all

the craters filled i.n and the road appeared serviceable, attesting to the quick

repair capability of the North Vietnamese. A second strike by 15 B-52's on

26 April on a road segment six kilorneters north of Mugia blocked the road

for only 18 hours. The apparent inability of the B-52rs to close down the

road -- expressed by the Secretary of State and other officials -- and a

Seventh Air Force report of an SA-2 site near Mugia, prompted Admiral

Sharp on 30 April to recommend'to the JCS no further attacks on the pass.


20 rffi

In fact, the bombers were not again used near North Vietnam until 30 J,rty.

* 1l

(S#fowards the end of April Hanoi stepped up its air defense

activity, dispatching 29 to 3l MIG's against USAF and Navy aircraft. In

nine separate engagements in five days, six MIG's were destrijyed, all by

USAF F-4C's which suffered no losses. The first MIG-21 was downed on

26 April by two F-4C's. Antiaircraft fire continued to account for most

American aircraft combat losses with 31 dovrned (14 USAF, l?,Navy),.while

12 two -- an F-102 and a Navy A-lH -- were struck by SA-2 missiles.

(I5d[ff) Meanwhile, a change in command and eontrol of air operations

in route package I followed a meeting on 28 March between Admiral Sharp

and the JCS. The PACOM commander recommended that General Westmorelandrs

request for partial operational eontrol of this area be approved

and that the sector be accorded the same priority as for South Vietnam and

Laotian "Tiger Houndrt air operations. General Westmorelapd urgently

desired more air power to hit enemy approaches to the battlefield area near

the Demllitarized Zone (DMZ) for which he was responsible. Admiral Sharp

thought that 3, 500 sorties a month was warranted alone for route p".k.g. I.18

(CrFe) USAF eommanders and the Air Staff objected to the proposed

change, feeling that MACVTs command authority should be limited to South

Vietnam. They believed that the PACAF commander should remain the sole

coordinating authority for the Rolling Thunder program. Nevertheless,

Secretary McNamara approved the change on14 April and the JCS endorsed

it on the 20th. To allay any doubts where he thought the war's emphasis

should be, the defense chief said that air operations north of route package

I could be carri.ed out only if they did not penalize air operations in the

* See p 40.



"extended battlefield, " that is, in South Vietnam, the Tiger Hound area of

Laos, and route package area I. Under this change Admiral Sharp still retained

partial operational control of route package I. General Westmoreland's

authority was limited to armed photo reconnaissance and intelligence analysis

of Rolling Thunder and "Iron Hand" operations. Simultaneously, the Air

Force-lrlayy rotational bombing procedure in other route packages, in

effect since late 1966, also ended.

* 14

GfS4e) The civil disturbances and reduced U. S. and allied military

activity in both South and North Vietnam that followed General Thi's disf

Inissal prompted the Joint Staf f on 14 ApriL to recommend a step-up in the

attacks in accordance with the JCS proposals of 18 Januar! .* It


thought this might help arrest the deteriorating situation. A special Joint

Staff study of the problem also examined the possibility that a government

coming to power in Saigon might wish to end the war and ask U. S. and allied

15 forces to leave.

(5A€Fl) The Air Staff generally supported the Joint Staff's recommendation

for an intensified air offensive against the North and withdrawal

of U. S. forces if a local fait accompli left the United State*,and, itsnallies

no choice. But the Army's Chief of Staff doubted that heavier air strikes

could resolve the political situation in South Vietnam. that

Admiral Sharp already possessed authority to execute some of the recommended

strikes, he opposed sending the Joint Staff's study to Secretary

McNamara on the grounds that if U.S. strategy \,eas to be reevaluated it

should be by separate action. General McConnell suggested, and the JCS

agreed, to consider alternate ways of withdrawing part or all of the U. S.

x See p4.

+ See p 18.


. itO?fioifl.*

22 .m

forces from South Vietnam should this be necessary. Reviews were begun

but in subsequent weeks, after political stability was gradually restored,

the need to consider withdrawal action lessened and no final decisions were



The Rolling Thunder Study of 6 April

(U) April also witnessed the completion of the special joint report on

the Rolling Thunder program requested by Secretary McNamara in February.


Prepared under the direction of General Philpott, it rvas baBed on all data

available in Washi.ngton plus information collected by staff members who

visited PACOM, MACV, the 2d Air Division, and the Seventh Fleet.

(ryref*f Completed on 6 April, the Philpott report reviewed the results

of one year of Rolling Thunder operations (2 March 1965-2 March f966).

Duringthis period U.S. and VNAF aircraft had flown about 45,000 combat

and 20, 000 combat support, damaging or destroying 6,100 "fixed"

targets (bridges, ferry facilities, military barraeks, supply depots, ete. ),

and 3, 400 trmobile" targets (trucks, railroad rolling stock, and water"craft).

American combat losses totaled about 185 aircraft.

(rur5pq The report touched briefly on Laos where the air effort consisted

primarily of armed reconnaissance in two principal areas designated

as "Barrel Roll'r and t'Steel Tiser. " It noted that the effectiveness of USAF

strikes in Laos was limitea l.]*u"" of small fixed targets, high jungle

growth, and mountainous terrain that hampered target location and identification.

AIso, important targets were normally transitory and had to be

confirrned carefully before they could be attacked. The operations in North

Vietnam and Laos, said the report:

* see pp 10-11.


. have achieved a degree of success within the p/tirarneters

of imposed restrictions. However, the restricted scope of

operations, the restraints and piecemealing effort, have degraded

program effectiveness to a level well below the optimum'

Because of tNs, the enemy has reeeived war-supporting

rnateriel frorn external sources, through routes of ingress,

which for the most part have been immune from attack, and

has dispersed and stored this rnateriel in politically assured

sanctuaries. . . 'Although air operations caused significant

disruption prior to the standdown, there has been an increase

in the North Vietnamese logistic infiltration program, indicating

a much greater requirement for supplies in South Vietnam.

JJJ5rJrpal Of a total of 236 "JCS numbered" targets in North Vi'etnam,

I34 had been struck, i.ncluding 42 bridges. Among the 102 untoughed targets,

90 were in the northeast area and, of these, 70 were |n the sanctuary

zones of Hanoi, Haiphong, and the "buffert' territory near China. Elsel'

. ;:, .rrl

where il the North 86 percent of the JCS targets had been hlt. The report

further asserted:

The less than optimum air campaign, and the uninterrupted

receipt of supplies from Russi.a,, satellite countries, and

certain elements of the free world have undoubtedly contributed

to Hanoi's belief in ultimate victory. Therefore . . the Study

Group considers it essentiat that the air campaign be redirected

against specific target systems, eritical to the capability and

important to the will of North Vietnam to continue aggression

and support insurgency.

(Isrfrf ) It consequently proposed a three-phase strategy. In Phase I,

over a period of four to six weeks, the United States would dxpirna the armed

reconnaisSance effort over the North except for the sanctuary areas and

again attack previously struck JCS-numbered targets in the northeast. Air

units also would strike 11 more JCS-numbered bridges, and the Thai NgUyen

railroad yards and shopS; perform armed reconnaissance over Kep airfi.eld;

strike 30 more JCS*numbered targets, 14 headquarters/barracks, four ammunition

and two supply depots, f ive POL storage areas, one airfield, two

naval bases, and one radar site.


t#eFt? In Phase II, a period of somewhat less duration than Phase I,

American aircraft would attack 12 military and war-supporting targets within

the reduced sanctuary areas, consisting of two bridges, three POL storage

areas, two railroad shops and yards, three supply and storage depots, one

machine tool plant, and one airfield. During Phase III all remaining JCSnumbered

targets (now totaling 43)wou1d be attacked, including six bridges,

seven ports and naval bases, six industrial p1-ants, seven locks, 10 thermal/

hydroelectric plants, the headquarters of the North Vietnamese rninistries

of national and air defense, and specified railroad, supply, radio, and

transformer stations.

(fll#) Concurrent with this program, the study group proposed

three attack options that could be executed at any time: Option A, strike

the Haiphong POL center; Option B, mine the channel approaches to Haiphong,

Hon Gai, and Cam Pha; and Option C, strike four jet airfields --

at Phuc Yen, Hanoi, and Haiphong.

Finally, it proposed that Admiral Sharp should deterrnine when to hit

the targets in each of the three phases, the weight of the air attacks, and

the tactics to be employ.d.


^, .-

(CtEltt) General Wheeler, who was briefed on the report on 9 April,

called it a ttfine professional approach, t' a ttgood job, rr and endorsed it,

The rnanner in which it should be sent to Secretary McNamara created

difficulties, however. General McConnell suggested that the Joint Staff

prepare ttpositivett recommendations for the implementation of the reportts

air program, stating that if this vrere not done, it would not receive the

attention it deserved. But strong ser.vice support was lacking for that

approach. An agreement eventually was reached to send the report to


secretary McNamara with the Joint chiefs "noting" it. They advised him

it was fu1ly responsive to his request, was in consonance with the JCS

recommendations of 18 January 1966, and would be useful in considering

future I8 recommendations of the Rolling Thunder program.

Air Operatiolq in May: BegiffiilLg oL "cate d;;rdi, *

(U) The Rolling Thunder study had no immediate impact on air operations.

In fact, Secretary Brown on 22 May publicly affirmed the administrationrs

decision not to expand significantly attacks on new targets. He said

such action would not cut off infiltration but would raise the danger of a

'wlqer *19 war.

F++ Thus the authorized level of 5, 100 sorties for North Vietnam

rernained unchanged in May and only a few important attacks on fixed targets

were approved. The principal operation was against seven targets

within the Yen Bai logistic center which were struck by T0 uJ;F "oiti"" .

Monsoon weather again plagued the air campaign, causing the cancellation

of.2,972 USAF-Navy sorties or about 32 percent of those scheduled. usAF

20 sortie cancellations amounted to 40 percent.

€6rG!t) Heavier North Vietnamese infiltrati.on toward the DMZ as

indicated by more truck sightings led to a change in tactics. Beginning

on I May, a special air effort called "Gate Guard" was initiated in the

northern part of the steel Tiger area in Laos and then shifted into route

package I when the monsoons hit the Laotian region, utilizing many of the

I'integrated interdiction'r tactics developed in Laos earlier in the year,

Gate Guard involved stepped-up air strikes on a series of routes or "belts "

x Not stated by Secretary Brown was the fact that civil disturbances in South

Vietnam triggered by the dismissal of General Thi on 10 March still prompted

the administration not to risk escalation of the war at this time. See p18.

26 . +0P'$teflfi[r

running east to west. Many special USAF aircraft were used: C-i30 airborne

command and control centers, C-130 flare aircraft, EB-66rs for ECM, and

RF-lOlrs. Attack aircraft interdicted selected points in da;rtime and destroyed


"fleeting targets" at night.

tt5's-€44ll During the month there were few MIG sightings and only one

was destroyed. Heavy antiaircraft fire accounted for most of the 20 U. S.

aircraft (13 USAF, six Navy, one Marine) that were downed. USAF losses

included seven F-105's in the northeast. The enerny's ground fire, General

McConnell informed a Senate subcommittee during the month, was "the only

thing we are not able to cope with . . " whereas the SA-2's -- which were

deployed at about 103 sites ---had destroyed only five USAF lnd two !{avy

aircraft. The SA-2rs were countered by decoys, jamming techniques, and

evasive aircraft tr"ti"". * 22

(fl€€F3) During May the Air Staff began a study effort to establish

requirements for a suitable, night, all-weather aircraft interdiction system

using the latest munitions, sensors, and guidance equipment to provide an

"aerial blockade" against infiltrating men and supplies. This followed an

expression of frustration by high State Department and WhitE.House_gfficials

in late April about the inability of air power to halt these movements into

the South. As part of this study, the Air Staff solicited the views of PACAF,

SAC, and other commands, advising them of the need for a solution wi.thin

existing bombing restraints. Recommendations to t'strike the sor.u'ce" of

Communist supplies, they were informed, were politically unacceptable and

likely to remain

"o, "

x Air Force confidence in the value of anti-SA-2 operations was challenged

in a Seventh Fleet study, dated 1.2 July 1966 and based on SA-2 USAF and

Navy firing reports. It asserted that the value of ECM and ,other jamming

techniques was uncertain as aircraft with deception devices normally sought

to evade the missiles when fired upon. For General Harrist view, see pp 53-54.


(3*Cf#In a joint reply on 24 N'{ay, the commanders-in-chief of PACAF

and SAC, Generals Hunter Hamis, Jr. and John D. Ryan, pointed to improved

results from air operations in route package I and in parts of Laos. They said

that interdiction could become even more effective by greater use of airdelivered

mines (against ferries), "deniall' munitions with deil.ayed.f.uaes insuring

"longevity" up to 30 days, around-t'he-ctock air strikes on selected

routes south of Vinh, special strikes against Mugia Pass, and improved airground

activity in Laos, They also proposed the use of low-volatile chemicalbiological

agents to contaminate terrain and surface bursts gf nucle,nq weapons.

The latter would trdramatically" create t'barrierstr in areas difficult to bypass.

To implement these measures, General Harris again stressed the

need for centralized control of air resources, asserting it should be a I'high

priority'r Air Force objective. But most of these suggestions could not or

would not be implemented in the immediate flrt.r.". 24

Highlights of June Operations

€3+€t June witnessed another step-up in air activity over North

Vietnam, the major highlight being USAF-Navy strikes, beginning 2l June,

against previously exempt POL storage sites and culminating in major POL

strikes in Hanoi and Haiphong on the 29th. (See details in Chapter III. )

tE0{F0) Other targets continued to be hit, such as the Hanoi-Lao

Cai and Hanoi-Dong Dang rail lines, but most USAF sorties concentrated

on route package I targets which absorbed about 93 percent of the total flown

in the North that month. These strikes reflected the importance General

Westmoreland placed on curbing the flow of enemy troops and supplies

toward and into the DMZ, Gate Guard targets were hit hard and, after the

introduction of USAF MSQ-77 "Skyspot" radars for greater bombing


x accuracy, the infiLtration ttgatestt were ttguardedtt virtually'around the

clock. About 97 percent of the Navy effort was concentrated along the

coast in route packages II, UI, and IV. The VNAF flew 266 sorties in route


package I, its highest total against the North in 12 months.

(IS*l*t The Gate Guard campaign seemed to confirm the vaLue of

night air attacks. By 7 JuIy the nightime missions had achieved better

results than those in da5rtime, 164 trucks being destroyed and 265 damaged


compared with the da5rtirne toll of 154 destroyed and 126 damaged.

(flS# Despite these successes, Gate Guard operations faced

certain handicaps. During dayiight hours USAF 0-I forward air control

(FAC) aircraft -- used to support U.S. strikes -- were highly vulnerable

to the heavy ground fire and, when forced to f1y higher, became less

effective. AIso, interdiction points, often on flat terrain, were easy to

repair or by-pass. And the North Vietnarnese could store and service

their trucks in numerous small villages, secure in the knowledge that U. S.

aircraft would not attack civilian areas. Events finally overtook the Gate

Guard effort. Corrtinued infiltration through the DMZ pro*pi"a ge"O]

quarters MACV to develop a t'Ta1ly-Ho" air program -- a more ambitious

effort to block, if possible, a large-sca1e invasion by North Vietnamese

troops through the DMZ into South Vietnam's northernmost provinc.r."

* The initial MSQ-?7 radar was plaeed at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam on

I April 1966, and the second one at Pleiku in May. With the installation

of the third and fourth radars at Nakhon Phanorn, Thailand and Dong Ha,

South Vietnam on 3 and 12 June, respectively, the system could be used

for air strikes in route package I. A fifth radar was placed at Dalat, South

Vietnam on 26 September. The MSQ-,77 was an MSQ-35 bomb-scoring

radar converted into a bomb-directing radar with a range of 200 nautical



ttl. THE PoL sTRIKES AND RoLLING THUNppn pnocnAnn rt

€-e".drds indicated, the highlight of the aipwar -- and of the Rolling

Thunder program since its inception -- were the POL strikes in June 1966.

General McConnell and the other service chiefs had long urged the destruction

of North Vietnam's major POL sites but the administration did not seri.ously

consider attacking them until March.

Background of the POL Air Strikes

{ssraFri Some months before, in December 1965, a cIA study had concluded

that the destruction of the North's POL facilities would substantially

increase Hanoi's logistic problems by requiring alternate import and distributing

channels and the use of more rail cars, drums, and other storage

& ..,a,

items. CIA analysts recognized that the North Vietnamese probalrly anti -

cipated such attacks and that the POL facilities near Haiphong, a major port

city, politically were sensitive targets. Assessing the consequences of a

POL air campaign, they further concluded it would (1) not change Hanoirs

policy either toward negotiation or tourard sharply entering the war; (2)

probably result in more Soviet pressure on theregime to negotiate;(3) force

Hanoi to agk for and receive more supply and transport aid from China and

air defense aid from the Soviet Union; (4) aggravate Soviet-Chinese relations,

and (5) cause further deterioration of U. S. -Soviet relations, especially if a

Soviet ship were hi.t. Soviet counteraction was thought possible and might


take the form of attacks on U.S. ferrett aircraft or interference with U.S.

access to West Berlin. Chinese Commrnist intervention in the v/ar, while

possible, was considered unlikely.


(Irer#l| In March another CIA study predicted that the destruction of

POL sites (and a cement plant in Haiphong) would severely strain the Northrs

transportation system. It was one of the most influential doctrtn€nts to bear

on the subject. On 23 March Secretary McNamara informed General Wheeler

that a new RoIIing'Ihunder program directed against POL storage and distribution

targets might be favorably received. On 25 Apil, Deputy Secretary

of Defense Cyrus R. Vance assured the JCS that its 1965 POL studies were now

receiving full consideration. On 6 May, a White House aide, Walt W. Rostow,

reealling the impact of oil strikes on Germany in World War II, suggested to

the Secretaries of State and Defense that systematic and sustained bombing

of POL targets might have more prompt and decisive results on Hanoits


transportation system than conventional intelligence indicated,

(flFEflt On 31 May -- although a final decisionto hit the major facilities

had not been made -- Admiral Sharp was authorized to attack certain POLassociated

targets in the northeast aLong with five small route targets. On

6 June General Westmoreland advised CINCPAC that an improving political

situation in South Vietnam (since civil disturbances began on 10 March) was

causing Hanoi much disappointment and dismay. Noting this circumstance

and the heavy toll inflicted by the air campaign over North Vietnam and Laos,

he recommended that these psychological and military gains be rrparl,ayed into

dividends" by hitting the POL storage sites. To do so later, he warned, would


be less effective because of dispersal work already under way.

(!trFCFlt Support continued to build up. Admiral Sharp quickly endorsed

General Westmorelandrs views and, on 8 June, the U. S. Ambassador

I Mr. Rostow observed that in 1965 U.S. estimates showed that 60 percent

of the Northts POL was for military purposes and 40 percent for civilian needs.

The current ratio was now placed at 80 and 20 percent, respectively.


to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge suggested that intensified bombing

was the most effective way to get Hanoi to the negotiating table. General

McConnell, who had long supported such action, told a Senate subcommittee

that hitting POL targets woul.d have a "substantial" effect on the amount of

supplies the Communists corrld send to their forces in South Vietnarn. An Air

Staff intelligence report asserted that hitting the sites would harre€t

prof ound " impact on Hanoits infiltration activities and expressed confidence

it could be done vrithout causing severe civilian casualties.4

The Strikes of 29 June

The administration now moved'toward its decision. In a preliminary

action, the JCS on 16 June authorized Admir'al Sharp to hit aII of the

POL dispersal sites listed in the curuent Rolling Thunder program except

those within a 30-nautical-mile radius of Hanoi, a l0-nautical-mile radius

of Haiphong, and 25 nautical miles from the Chinese border east of longitude

105o 2ct E. and 30 nautical miles west of longitude tos* zo' n. on 21 June

USAF jets struck and oil depot sites ranging from 28 to 40 miles

from Hanoi. Several other sites, previously exempt from attack, were hit

in ensuing days outside the Hanoi-Haiphong "."*.


tffi3) In addition, extraordinary steps were taken to prepare for

the attacks on POL targets in the two main cities of North Vietnam. On 23

June, after Seeretary McNarnara and General Wheeler had informed President

Johnson of their precautionary rneasuru"o ,o avoid attacks on ci.vilian areas

ffiwrx usfiT pliots most experienced with operations

in the target areas,weather conditions permitting visual target identification,

avoiding to the extent possible populated areas,minimum pilot distraction to

improve delivery accuracy, use of munitions assuring highest precision consistent

with mission objeetives, attacks on air defenses only in sparsely

populated areas, special security precarrtions concerning the proposed operations,

and person\l attention by commanders to the operations.




and foreign merchant ships, the JCS authorized Admiral Sharp to strike early

on the 24th seven POL storage facitities and a radar site at Kep, northeast

of Hanoi. Although special security precautions surrounded the planning, the

news media soon reported the essential details of the operation. This forced


the administration to postpone it and deny any decision had been made.

(if:€Fat The strike was rescheduled and took place on 29 June. A USAF force

of 24 F-I05's, 8 F-105 "Iron Handts", 4 EB-66's plus 24 F-4Crs and 2 F-104rs

for MIG """p" and escort hit a 32-tank farm about three-and-a-half miles from

Hanoi. Approximately 95 percent of the target area, comprising about 20

percent of the Northts oil storage facilities, was damaged or destroyed'

l" .,.

simultaneously, Navy A-4 and A-6 aircraft hit a large POL storage area two

miles northwest of Haiphong. This facility, containing an estimated 40 percent

of the Northts fuel storage capacity and 95 percent of its unloading equipment,

was about B0 percent destroyed. One USAF F-I05 was lost to ground

fire. Four MIG-l?'s challenged the raiders and one was probably shot down

by an Iron Hand F-105. No sA-2 missiles rvere observed. Maj' Gen. Gilbert

L. Myers, deputy comrnander of the Seventh Air Force termed the raids t'the

most signifieant, the most important strike of the war' " Secretary McNamara

subsequently called the USAF-Navy strike "a superb professional job, "

although he was highly incensed over the security leaks that preledea tfie

I attacks.

(u) In a press conference the next day, the defense chief said the strikes

were made ltto counter a mounting reli.ance by North Vietnam on the use of

trucks and powered junks to facilitate the infiltration of men and equipment

from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. " He explained that truck movements

in the first five months of 1966 had doubled, and that daily supply tonnage and


troop infiItration over the "Ho Chi Minh trail" were up 150 percent and I20

percent, respectively, over 1965. Further, the enemy had built new roads

and its truck inventory by December 1966 was expected to be double that of

January 1965. This would require a 50- to 70-percent increase in oil imports

over 1965. The Secretary also justified the timing of the strikes, asserting

that the "perishablet' nature of POL targets made it more desirable to attaek

them now than earlier in the ,""t.


(alfl{prf' President Johnson said that the air strikes ontbitritarytargets

in North Vietnam I'will continue to impose a growing burden and a high price

on those who wage war against the freedom of others. " He directed that in

the forthcoming weeks first priority be given to "strangling" the remainder

of Hanoits POL system except for that portion in areas still exempt from air

attack. He also wanted more bombing of the two main rail lines running

between Hanoi and China.9

The Mid-1966 Assessment

(flfi€dJ Shortly after the 29 June POL strikes, another maior conference

took place in Honolulu to review the war and plan additional U. S.

and allied air, ground, and naval deployments. A mid-year assessment of

the war, contained in a letter from Admiral Sharp to the JCS and the Office

tr* ,.": .:.- . .u1.;a

of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), was expanded in briefings for Mr. MeNamara

in Honolulu on 8 July. The PACOM commander said that he considered the

air program for North Vietnam still inadequate, observing that previous recommendations

to hit major ports of entry, logistic targets leading from China,

and certain POL sites (in addition to those struck on 29 June) had not been

approved. He thought it impossible to prevent the enemy from moving supplies

from North to South and thus to "isolate the battlefield"; rather, the "highest


Truck Parks

Military Storage Facilities


Military Installations

Transshipment Points


1 Jan 66 1 Jul 66

55 126

31 6 696

38 180

680 939

-td5?3 - 65 2:b63

task" was route interdiction and strikirg new targets as they were uncovered.

Recent intelligence showed that the air campaign was hurting Hanoi. Its

repair and reconstruction force now totaled about 500,000 and the morale

of the government and troops was declining. To raise the cost of infiltration,

he proposed striking as soon as possible 33 important exempted targets and

rnore of the enemyrs supplies, road and rail repair centers, and military


training areas.

(Hp-+l Admiral Sharp pointed to Hanoirs greater effor"t to hide and

disperse its logistic supplies because of the air attacks. As a result there

was greater U.S. effort inthe first six months of the year to uncover more

of the following types of targets:


New Targets





DD -6fr-

The table showed an increase of g0 percent in significant targets since

I January 1966 with the major portion consisting of truck parks, military

storage facilities, and transshipment points.

tflCO) During the first half of the yeaqAdmiral Sharp continued,

Rolling Thunder strikes had destroyed or damaged 1,076 trueks, 900 pieces

of rolling stock, and 3,304 watercraft. A total of 2,771 trucks were destroyed

or damaged in Laos. Discussing the Northts air defense system, he

said that Hanoi's antiaircraft gun inventory had increased from about 859 in

February 1965 (when the bombings began) to more than 4, 200T an average

increase of about 205 guns per month. The North also possessed 20 to 25


active SA-2 battalions, good early warning, ground control interception


equipmentrand a respectable MIG force.

{g*U In reply, Secretary McNamara reported that President Johnson

had accorded first priority to 'rstrangulation" of the Northts POL system' Thus,

it was essential to determine Hanoits land and sea distribution system, categorize

the targets, and then render them ineffective. The Secretary also

pointed out the need for increased interdiction of railroad lineqIpar:tiqlrlarly

bridges i.n the northeast and northwest leading to China. Expressing concern

over U. S. aircraft attrition, he said OSD was working with the services on ways


to reduce it.

The Beginning Rolling Thunder Program 5I

spsal The stra.ngulation campaign was incorporated into a new

Rolling Thunder program -- number 51. It was authorizedbythe JCS on 6

July and went into effect on the 9th. Armed reconnaissance could now encompass

all of North Vietnam except for the established sanctuary areas

(i. e., a 30-nautical-mile radius of Hanoi, a I0-nautical-mile radius of Haiphong,

and 25 to 30-nautical-mile buffer area adjacent to China). Admiral

Sharp assigned PACAF specific responsibility for halting all rail traffic in

the northeast and northwest sectors. In addition, the JCS on 9 July authorized

an increase in attack sorties for North Vietnam and Laos from 8, I00 to 10, 100


per month.

(51t6;r|pBecause of the high priority assigned to the strangulation effort --

and in response also to Secretary McNamarats direction -- the Air Staff on 16

July established anOperationgombat Strangler task force headed by Maj' Gen'

Woodrow P. Swancutt, Director of Operations, Headquarters USAF. Its immediate

objective was to evaluate POL strangulation and LOC interdiction plans


prepared by the seventh Air Force and pACAF. sirnultaneously, the Air

Staff established an Operations Review Group within the Directorate of Operations

under col. LeRoy J. Manor, an enlarged and reorganize&,suceesfor to


the ad hoc study group formed on 26 March 1965. It examined the effeetiveness

of combat and combat support operations in southeast A.sia as well as

the activities of USAF worldwide operational fo.""".14

(gf#fi Under Rolting Thunder program 51, USAF aircraft intially

concentrated on route packages I, V, and.VIA and the Navy on the others.

Then on 20 July, at the direction of General westmoreland, the Air Force

inaugurated a "Tally-Hot' air campaign in route package I in a renewed effort,

somewhat similar to Gate Guard, to curb Comrnunist infiltration into and

through the DMZ. AIso, on 6 August at General westmoreland's'request and

by the decision of Admiral Sharp, the "Dixie station" aircraft carrier used

for air operations in south vietnam was moved to ttyankee Station, tt thereby

providing three rather than two carriers for the stepped up air activities

against the North. Another important change was an agreement between the

Seventh Air Force and Seventh Fleet commanders whereby the former would

provide about 1, 5c0 sorties per month in the normally Navy-dominated route

packages II, III, and IV. The Air Staff and General Harris considered the

arrangement better than the relatively rigid deli.neation of service air responsibility

for the North that had existed previously. Although the agreement

took effect on 4 September , restrictions on air operations



prevented its full .""lir*tiorrl+ 15

x See p 16.

+ By September USAF aircraft generally were covering 46,265 square miles or

77 percent of the land area of North Vietnam. 'Ihe Navy, by comparison, was

coverlng 13,891 square miles or about 2g percent of the land area.

++ The restrictions were eased in December 1966.


(flfrCf*ffhe immediate priority, of course, was given to POL sites.

The campaign increased in momentum until the week of 13-19 August when

140 attack sorties were flown against POL targets. Thereafter the sortie

rate dropped. By the end of August an estimated 68 percent of known POL

storage capacity in route paekages I, V, and VI had been destroyed. On

19 September the remaining POL capaeity in the North was plbced at.,pbout

69,650 metric tons, of which 18,526 metric tons urere not yet authorized

16 for destruction.

(fl€rGF€) By the end of September it was apparent that the POL strikes

were becoming less productive. There had been no let-up in Soviet deliveries

of POL supplies and the North Vietnamese continued their dispersal

efforts. Supported by Combat Strangler analyses, PACAF considered the

benefits derived frorn attacking the scattered sites no longer worth the cost

in aircraft lost. In a report to Secretary Brown on 14 October, PACAF stated

that the POL campaign had reached the point of diminishing returns and that

the Soviet Union and China could adequately supply the North wifh PQL products.

Also, U. S. air power could best force changes in POL handling and

distribution by striking targets listed in Rolling Thunder program 52 proposed

by the JCS on 22 August.


tnr" would constitute, PACAF fel.t, the best kind

of ttstrategic persuasiont' before Hanoi could devise counterm."",r".",l7

{f{|pr$ The railroad strangulation effort, particularly against the Hanoi-

Lao Cai and the Hanoi-Dong Dang lines running to China and located in route

packages V and VI A, was not especially productive because of bad weather

and the ability of the North Vietnarnese to .repair the lines quickly. In fact,

rt This program called for 872 sorties over 19 new targets.


$':||Frn .t


PACAF beli.eved it was virtually impossible to maintain an effective.4ir

program against them. Weather problems in the two route packages forced

the cancellation or diversion of about ?0 and 81 percent of the attack sorties

scheduled for July and August, respectively. The weather improved in


September but turned poor again in October.

(f:{l!l*) Enemy antiaircraft defense, including additional SA-2rs also

added to the difficulty in interdicting the two main rail lines. As American

aircraft losses rose, Admiral Sharp on 20 September ordered a reduction of

about one-third of the air strikes in route package VIA until rneasures could

be devised to reduce the tol]. For example, on 7 AugUst anti.aircraft guns

knocked down seven U.S. aircraft (six USAF, one Navy ), tfre highest oneday

total since 13 August 1965 when six were shot down. American combat

losses in the North during the third quarter of the year were: 4l in July, 37 in

August, and 26 in September. Eighty of these were USAF aircraft. In


October combat losses declined to 23, only nine of them USAF.

(eApr+1 MIG pilots also became increasingly aggressive. Fifteen

"incidents" i.n July resulted in two MIG-21's and one MIG-17 being shot down

against the loss of one USAF F-105 and one Navy F-8. During an engagement

on ? July, two MIG-2]rs for the firsttime inthe war fired air-to-air

missiles against two F-105's but failed to score. Another milestone in the

air war oecurred on 21 September when the biggest air-to-air'battle .,

to date was fought over the North. In seven separate encounters USAF

pilots downed two MIG-I?'s, probably a third, and damaged a MIG-21 without


suffering any losses.

The Tally-Ho_Campaign

(!FFt In terms of total sorties flown, the largest portion of the

USAF effort, as in previous months, was concentrated in route package I

' T0P€E0fl[:h


which included the DMZ, the area of the greatest enemy threat. Intelligence

believed that about 5,000 North Vietnamese had infiltrated through the zone

in June. PACAF speculated that these enemy movements rnay have been due

to the recent success of Tiger Hound air operations in Laos which, together

with monsoon weather, had virtually blocked certain logistic routes in that




reported that the North's 324 "8" Division of 8,000 to I0, 000 men, had

crossed over into the I Corps area of South Vietnam, General Westmoreland

asked Lt. Gen. William W. Momyer, who succeeded General Moore as

Seventh Air Force commander on I July, to prepare an air prggrl1n similar

to Tiger Hound in Laos for the most southern part of route package I including

the zone. Already under way just south of the DMZ was a combined U. S.

Marine and South Vietnamese Army and Marine air and ground effort call"ed

Operation Hastings. General Mornyer quickly outlined a "TalIy-Hot' air

campaign against enemy targets in an area about 30 miles inside North

Vietnam from the Dai Giang river below Dong Hoi through the Q$IZ torits

southern border. ?he first Tally-Ho air strike was made on 20 July by

USAF and Marine aircraft, the latter beginning regular operations in the

North for the first time.



Gate Guard, C-I30 airborne control was

employed and, for the first time, USAF O-I FAC's flew into North Vietnam

to help find targets.


Laos was scaled down.

To sustain Tally-Ho, Tiger Hound activity in

{flfr{Gq) Although Tally-Ho included t!r.e DMrZ, military operations

* Previously Marine Corps activities in the North consisted of eight sorties

in April and two sorties in June.



within the zone were not conducted immediately. The political problems

associated with such action had been under study for some time. On 20 July,

the day Tally-Ho began, the JCS finally authorized Admiral Sharp to launch

air or artillery strikes in the southern half of the zone. This followed protracted

State and Defense Department negotiations which resulted in Statets

approval if the allies had concrete evidence that the North was using the zone

for infiltrating men and materiel, if there existed an adequate'iecord'Of the


Saigon government's protest to the International Control Commission (ICC)

concerning Hanoirs violation of the zone, and if an appropriate public affairs


program was begun prior to military action in the zone'

(flrrgrr) After these conditions were fulfilled, the JCS on 28 July specifically

authorized B-52 strikes in the southern portion of the DMZ in support

of U. S. -South Vietnamese "self-defenserr operations. In their first attack

there, on 30 July, 15 B-52's dropped bombs on ammunition dumps, gun positions,

and weapon staging targets. In B-52's returned there several



(Hl On 22 August General McConnell informed Secretaries Vance and

McNarnara of a rising trend in USAF out-of-country night operations, especially

in North Vietnam, and of his expectation that the trend would continue in the

Tally-Ho campaign. But shortly thereafter the hazards of antiaircraft

fire and inadequate aircraft control forced a reduction in the use of USAF 0-l

FAC's and, consequently, of othdr cornbat aircraft. In fact, the night

attack effort, despite General McConnellts hopes, did not'show a signif-

25 $ .ail icant rise again until December.

* TrrE Iee;@I76E r"o- rndia, Canada, and Poland,

was established in July 1954 as a result ofthe Geneva conference that ended

the French-Indochina war. Its primary function was to supervise the 1954

Geneva agreements.


(flF{|Fet-In September the advent of better weather and better results

with the use of MSQ-?? radar permitted intensification of the TaIly-Ho operations.

Many secondary explosions often followed USAF-Marine corps air

strikes. The first B-52 strike in the northern portion of the DMZ was made

on 16 September and others soon followed until 26 September whtn theyrwere

halted in the zone east of route package I to permit ICC inspection of North

Vietnamese troop infiltration. As the Communists continued to use this area,

administration authorities on 13 October rescinded the prohibition against air

and artillery strikes. on the l4thB-52 strikes were stopped in the zone, this

26 time because of the danger from suspected SA-2 sites.

(f,lrGlt{t Tally-Ho continued through October and into November. As

in the Gate Guard operations, Tally-Ho FAC pilots often were forced up to

1,500 feet by ground fire, thus reducing the value of yisual reconnaissance.

They also experienced severe turbutence over mountainous terrain and poor


weather added to their difficulties.

tltlp$) The TalIy-Ho program remained under constant review. Initial

evidence appeared to show that its operations destroyed many enemy struetures,

supplies, antiaircraft positions, and vehicles, and that it harnpe5eS.bu!did not

stop infiltration on foot through the DMZ. On I0 October, during a briefing for

secretary McNamara and other top officials who were visiting saigon, Brig.

Gen. Carlos M. Talbott of the Seventh Air Force indieated that Tally-Ho and

other air activities possibly had caused the enemy to reach the limit of his

supply capability. PACAF officials thought that rally-Ho and u. s. -south

vietnamese "spoiling" attacks in and below the DMZ had thwarted a major

offensive planned by the North vietnamese into the r corps. on the l3th, the

JCS, in answer to a white House request for an assessment of the enemy

threat in the zone, likewise reported that spoiling attacks and tactical and



B-52 air strikes in and near the demilitarized area had defeated the Nofth

Vietnamese and prevented them from seizing the initiative. But the service

chiefs warned that the enemy still retained considerable offensive capability


and that U. S. reinforcements should be sent to that region.

Ilowever, these were general observations. The USAF Vice

Chief of Staff, Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, when pressed by Secretary Brown

on the effect of the air effort on North Viethamese movement through the

DM.Z, was less certai n about the results of TaIly-Ho operations. He replied:

ttl do not know what the effect is and nobody else seems to know, t' adding that

there was much ttspeculation and excuses why itts hard to determine. " He

said that there were several actions under way to improve 6slalgatherittg in

the DMZ area. These included establishing a tactical air support analysis

team (TASAT) composed of 20 Air Force and Army personnel to insure systematic

data-reporting, forming a similar USAF-Army team to assess B-52

strikes, inviting the Army and Navy to join the Air Force @mbat Strangler

task force in assessing the results of the air eampaign, and orghnizing"bn

air weapon survey bo""d.29

$fF) The need for more reliabLe information on Tally-Ho activities

near the DMZ was also reflected in the observation of a USAF intelligence

officer in South Vietnam who was assoclated with the air campaign. ttWe

donrt know how effective we *"".lthe commented, ttfor we dontt know

what we stopped or the amount of flow. " He thought the program could

be made more productive by defoliating the terrain and by improving intelligence,

targeting, and comrnunication procedures. Subsequently, a

list of targets believed to have been damaged or destro5red by the Tally-Ho


program was compiled.

* See p 62.



(HG The beginning of Rolling Thunder program bl also witnessed

the start of a greater Air Staff effort to analyze the effectiveness of USAF

operations in Southeast Asia, particularly in North Vietnam. With the assignment

of more personnel in JuIy to the Operations Review Group under Colonel

Manor and Operation Combat Strangler under General Swaneutt, the Air Force

improved its ability to collect and evaluate operational data.and.terrespond

to requests from higher authorities for information on different aspects of

the air war.

Operational Studies

(5# One of the early important products of the Swancutt task force

was its analysis of the Seventh Air Force pel. and Loc air campaign against

North Vietnam. Completed on 30 August, it pointed to the inflexibility of air

operations in the North. This situation was attributed to seven main factors:

air restrictions that reduced aircraft maneuver, the prohibition against

striking certain target areas, the I'route package" system that divided into

relatively independent regions the USAF and Navy target areas of responsibility,

a targeting system that had the effect of concentrating air power and

thus t'telegraphingtt u. s. intentions to the enemy, bad weather and antiaircraft

defenses that left little choice in taetics, the existence of few profitable

targets, and fragmented command and control of air activlt{ps.

lffil Based upon its analysis, the task force recommended two

primary changes: a broadened target base to allow an increase in the tempo

of air operations and a single centralized command and control system for

air. It also began assembling a complete statistical record of aircraft

losses, ordnance expended, results of air strikes, and tactics employed

r {fffifr


(because of the inordinately high aircraft losses in route packages v and vIA),

and analyzing Seventh Air Force and PACAF plans weekly. The group also

proposed that the Air Force seek permission for its aircrlft to hii targets in

the Navy-dominated route packages rr, IIr, and IV when weather forced diversionary

strikes, and it recommended more night air operations. Agreements

subsequently were reached to allow USAF units to make diversionary air

strikes in the Navy areas, the new policy becoming effective on 4 September.

(fr41 Also in August the Air Staff examined the value of air attacks

on North Vietnarnese watercraft. This was in reslrcnse to a query from

Secretary Brown who observed that Admiral Sharp, in his briefing of 8 July

in Honolulu, had indicated that 2,358 watercraft had been attacked by air to

2 that tirne. General Holloway advised on 22 August that in Admirii Sharp's

view, air strikes on largely coastal watercraft through mid-1966 had not

always been worth the effort, although they did have a harassing effect on the

North Vietnamese. Since July, because of the stepped up air operations on

land transportation routes, a larger volume of barge traffic had appeared on

inland waterways. In the Thanh Hoa and Vinh areas, watercraft construction

was exceeding civilian needs. Some watercraft carried POL drums, tanks,

and ammunition, and there were more attempts to camouflage them. Thus,

said General Holloway, Admiral Sharp now believed that they were worthwhile

e air targets. "

(#l On 13 September, again at the request of Secretary Brown, the

Air Staff undertook a detailed study of the types of target syJiir*Jih North

Vietnam. The approach included an exarnination of the cost and the length of

time needed to destroy a part or all of each target, and the effect its loss


would have on Hanoirs abi.lity to eontinue hostilities. The primary target

systems being studied were electric power, maritime ports, airfields,

navigation locks and dams, industrial facilities, command and control sites,

extractive industries, military installations, and LOCts. The project lad



not been completed by the end of the year.

The Effectiveness of Air Power

The Air Staff also assembled data to reply to numerous

questions raised by Secretary McNamara on the effectiveness of air power.

On 2 September, during a meeting with Air Force, Navy, and other officials,

the defense chief asked the Air Force to examine the combat use of F-4C

and F-105 aircraft. He wished to determine whether F-4C rs should fLy

O -. rl

rnost of the sorties against North Vietnam, especially against "fleeting"

night targets, and whether F-1"05's should be employed in South rather

than North Vietnam. He also asked for a comparative study of the performance

of propeller and jet aircraft in night operations over route packages

I and II. From the Navy, Secretary McNamara wanted recommendations


on how to increase the number of night sorties over North Vietnam.

ffr3) On the basis of data collected by the Air Staff, Secretary

Brown advised the defense chief on 28 September that while the F-4C and

F-I05 aircraft were both suited for da;rtime attack missions, the F-4C was

more effective at night, principally because it carried twon pilots. This

permitted better target-finding, better radar-controlled formations (by the

rear pilot), and more protection for pilots against 'rspatial disorientation/

verti.go. " Although a switch in the use of the F-105 from North to South

Vietnam would reduee its losses, other reasons militated against such a

change. It would affect the logistical base of the two aircraft, probably not

46 .ffi

reduce aircraft attrition in route package areas V and VI (where enemy

defenses urere heaviest), and create an aircrew replacement problem. He

supported the assigned missions of the two aircraft and the practice of

'rattriting'r the F-105ts first in order to conserve the F-4Cts.

(SAFD Secretary Brown reported that comparisons between propeller

and jet aircraft in night operations were inconclusive because of

vast differences in their use. In North vietnam the Air Force used its

.. ::4

A-lrs in less defended areas while the Navy did not employ its A-Irs until

an area was first tested by A-4rs. In Laos Air Force A-l losses were

higher because of lower attack speed or more ordnance-delaying passes

6 against targets.

(5#a) The study requested by Secretary McNamara on stepping up

night operations over North Vietnarn was submitted by Navy Secretary

Paul M. Nitze. He said more night sorties would cause a drop of about

15 percent in Navy attack efforts, reduce effectiveness by about 50 percent

compared with daSrtime strikes, result in more civilian casualties,

and double operational aircraft losses -- althoush combat losses would

remain about the same. In view of these findings, and because he believed

it was necessary to maintain pressure on the North ""roorrl tne eioct<, t,

Secretary Nitze recommended no change in the cument ttmixtt of day and

7 night sorties. '

(IEGA) Seeretary McNamara also expressed dissatisfaction with the

level of air analysis performed by the services, pointing to the differences

between the estimates made in several studies on the effects that the polstrikes

would have on North Vietnamese infiltration and those that actually

occurred. He asked the Navy Secretary especially to review past CIA,

DIA, and other reports on this matter as well as anaryze the generar subjec+



of aircraft losses. He enjoined the Air Force to make ,rro"" frsophistfbatedtr

analyses of the conflict, asserting that this was one of the ttmost importanttt

things that it could do.8

(iES#f On 3 November Secretary Nitze sent Mr. McNamara an

initial report on the Navyrs most recent air studies. The findings -- and

admissions -- were unusual. He said the report showed that (l) there was

insufficient intelligence data to produce a viable assessment of past or projected

air campaigns; (2) North Vietnamrs logistic requirements for forces

in the south, compared with its capabilities, were srnal1, thus permitting

Hanoi to adjust the level of confLict to its available supplies; and (s) North

vietnamts estimated economic loss of gl25 million versus $3b0 million of

Soviet and chinese aid taken alone, was a ttpoor trade-offt when compared

with the cost of achieving the end product. The first two factors, the Navy

secretary observed, emphasized the magnitude of the task of disrupting

North Vietnarnese infiltration.

(ifl{f,) Admittedly, he continued, air attacks had produced sqne

results such as requiring North vietnam to provide for an air defense system

and to maintain a 300,000-man road and bridge repair force that reduced

resources availabre for infiltration into south vietnam. And prisoner

of war and defector reports testified to some success or tG"air ahd

ground campaign in the South. Nevertheless, because of the inadequacy

of available data, analysts were unable to develop a logical case for or

against the cument air carnpaign at either a higher or lower level. ttThis

is not a criticism of the anal5rtical effort, tt said Mr. Nitze, trrather, it is

a reflection of the degree to which decisions in this area must be dependent

on judgments in the absence of hard intelligence. rl



48 ffi

(ffiFThe Nitze report included a review of studies -- including the

March 1966 cIA study which preceded and led to the u. S. decision to attack

North Vietnamrs POL system. The overall purpose of the air strikes had been

to strain Hanoi's transportation system. Interviews with cIA analysts.disclosed

that many of their assurnptions were based on certain estimates of the

logistic capacity of the Hanoi-Dong Dang rail line, the amount of seaborne

imports, the impact of hitting a cement plant in Haiphong, and other data. In

retrospect, other factors also bore -- or could bear -- on the effectiveness

of air operations against the enemyrs logistic capability and resources, such

as the existence of a road system parallel to the Hanoi-Dong Dang rail line,

the construction by the chi.nese of a new internal transport link to Lao cai,

the transport capacity of the Red River from Lao cai to Hanoi, and the capability

of the North vietnamese to continue, although less efficiently, to produce

cernent in small, dispersed furnaces if the plant in Haiphong were destroyed.

There were indications that the analystst use of 1965 average import

statistics to project future North vietnamese requirements resul"ted inan

overstatement of Hanoirs needs. These -- and other examples -- showed the

inadequacy of the information base for evaluating the effectiveness of air

strike prograrns planned for North Vietnam.

1fr4 To obtain better analyses for predicting the results of air strikes,

the Nitze report indicated that the Chief of Naval Operations was establishing

a special branch in the Navyrs System Analysis Division to perform this vital


task. "

ty in the North, the Air

staf,f seriously questioned the ability of the North vietnamese to produce

cement if it was destroyed.



Efrfil) Secretary Brown, in a reply to Mr. McNamara on I0 November,

summarized current efforts to improve USAF analysis of the effectiveness of

air interdiction. He cited the establishment in July of the Operation Combat

Strangler task force and expansion of its functions to include developrnent of

a computer model to simulate air campaigns against North Vietnamese targets.

The Air Force also was analyzing daily the air operations over North Vietnam,

reviewing and evaluating major target systems including the anticipated effect

of air attacks on the Northrs economy and on infiltration into the South, and

studying the length of time required to destroy a given percentage of target

systems and the cost of striking them in terms of sorties, munitions, and aircraft.

This effort had been assigned top priority anC the necessary resourees.

In addition to briefing the Air Staff, the task force made the various analyses

available to the Joint Staff and OSD and posted pertinent data in a


situation room.

{€{F) The Secretary of the Air Force also advised that the USAF study

of major target systems in North Vietnam uras 50 percent complete and would

be finished early in 196?, after which a second analysis would "interface" all

target systerns to determine the cumulative effect of the destruction of several

complirnentary target systems. In addition, a special analysis of night operations

was under way.

Studies on Aircraft Attrition

(nA Another problem area that received increased attenti6n'' aft€r

mid-I966 was aircraft attrition. Follolsing a USAF briefing on this subject

on 6 June, Secretary McNarnara asked the Air Force for a detailed analysis



lH On 19 JuIy Secretary Brown submitted coordinated USAF-Navy

reply. Over North Vietnam, he said, the majority of aircraft losses (74




percent) were due to automatic weapon and light antiaircraft Sung, 1td ryst

aircraft (77.1 percent) were hit below 4,000 feet. The losses were distributed

fairly evenly over the route packages, with no meaningful differences in the

loss rates by routes. He said an apparent USAF ai rcraft loss rate amounting

to "three timestt that of the Navyts was due principally to the lack of a clear

definition of strike sorties, the limitations of the joint reporting system, and

frequent diversion of sorties. Overall Air Force and Navy aircraft losses

were quite similar, amounting to 3.96 and 4. 32 aircraft per 1,00O sorties,

respectively. He reported there was no data on the frequency of aircraft

exposure to antiaircraft weapons at different altitudes, the proportion of losses

sustained on each segment of an attack area, and the extent of increasing aircraft

exposure to ground fire induced by avoiding SA-2 missiles.

ffi An analysis of operational data for the period I October 1965

through 31 May 1966 by cause of !.oss, including "take-off" for combat missions,

the Air Force Secretary continued, showed that by far most of thg,.operationalosses

were due to aircraft system failures. The ratio of systern failures to

total operational losses in this period were by service: Air Force, 23 of

44; Navy, I0 of 29; and Marine Corps, three of nine. Of the 36 system failures,

22 involved aircraft engines, five were due to flight control problems, and

the remainder were random system failures which occurred only once or

twice. In addition, the Navy lost nine ai rcraft in carrier landings.

(#4) Compared with normal peacetime attrition, Secretaly Brown

added, actual operational losses in Southeast Asia for fiscal year 1966 were

below predicted figures for USAF F-100rs, F-104's, F-4C's and F-5rs. Only

F-105 losses were higher than expected and several efforts were under way,

including a study by the Air Force Systems Command, to modify the aircraft


in order to reduce combat losses. In addition to air crews, hydraulic-pneumatic

systems (such as fuel and flight control) and aircraft engines were

most vulnerable to enemy fi"". 12

(w1? At the request of Deputy Secretary vance, the Air Force also

made a special study of aircraft losses during night missions over North

vietnam and Laos. Reports submitted by secretary Brown .rrdsgl.r.-?l

Mcconne.I on 24 and 2b August showed that for the period I January - 3r July

1966, the aircraft ross rate per 1,000 sorties for night armed reconnaissance

sorties averaged 0.84 compared to 4.27 for day armed reconnaissance.

Night sorties r'ere considerabry ress hazardous, primarily because North

Vietnamrs air defense weapons were largely optically af"cteO.fSi!.-


lLFf) Aircraft losses remained of concern to the Air Staff

since they threatened the Air Forcers planned buildup to g6 tactical fighter

squadrons by June rg6g. on 2g August General Ho110way, the vice chief

of staff, sent a report to Generar wheerer on the effect of the rosses on the

Air Force's capabilities. It showed that at current aircraft loss rates the

Air Force would be short five tactical fighter squadrons at the mid-point of

fiscal year 1968 and three squadrons short at the end of the fiscar. year. The

approved squadron goal might not be reached until after the third quarter of

fiscal year 1969. The report arso indicated that an osD-preparefl.aircr.Sft

rrattrition modelt' needed adjustment to reflect more clearly sorties programmed

for North vietnam. It was on the basis of this model that osD on rg November

1965 had approved additional production of l4r F-4rs to offset attrition.

General Holloway said that the Air staff wourd continue its anarysis of this

problem, T4

(U) Aircraft attrition was, of course,

tration officials and congressional critics.

being followed closely by adminis-

In recognition of the problem


52 tffi

Secretary McNamara on 22 September announced plans to procure in fiscal

year 19681280 additional largely combat-type aircraft costing $700 rnillion.

Although the largest number were earmarked for the Navy, the Air Force

would receive a substantial portion of the total. 15 * -.':q ,.. *

The Hise Report

(fo-$iVteanwhile, on 26 September, a Joint Staff study group completed

a more detailed examination of aircraft attrition. Its findings were

contained in the "Hise Reportrt, narned after the groupts director, Marine

CoI. Henry W. Hise, whom General Wheeler had designated on 28 July to

perform this task.

ffi1p The Hise group studied all factors affecting aircraft losses

| .,.,. ' ,..*'

using data from joint operational reports, the DIA, and interviews with

Air Force , Navy, and Marine cornrnanders and airmen at Headquarters

PACOM and in Southeast Asia. It covered a!.1 aircraft losses, whatever

the cause, from January 1962 through August 1966. Totalling 814, the aircraft

were lost in the following areas: North Vietnam, 363; Laos, 74; and

South Vietnam, 377. The report analyzed the rnain factors affecting aircraft

losses: time, enerny defenses, tactics, targeting, weather, sortie

requirements, ordnance, aircrews, and stereotSped air operations.

(ffi1 The reportrs major conclusion was that North Vietnam had

been given an opportunity to build up a formidable air defense system and

noted, in support, General Momyerrs recent observation: ttfn the past three

months the enemy has moved to a new plateau of /air defense] capability.

He now has a fully integrated air defense system controlled from a central

t had been done by a study group

headed by USAF Brig Gen. R. G. Owen at the request of General Wheeler on

25 April. The Hise study group consisted of four representatives -- one from

each of the services, including USAF Col. C. L. Daniel -- and one

from the DIA.

*:.i.::,i . " :;.i..,!'i :N;1":' j. ri$i:!tt;i...61 .'."...*



point in Hanoi. " Both the antiaircraft guns and S,A-2 missiles, according to

the Hise Report, had had a "crippling effecttron air operations. The vast

majority of aircraft Iosses were attributed to ground fire, with 85 percent of

all rrhitsrt being scored when the aircraft were below 4, 500 feet. If Hanoi

were permitted to continue its buildup of air defense weapons, the United

States eventually would face a choice of supporting an adequate air campaign

to destroy them, accepting high aircraft losses, or terminating pi-r opqrations

over the North.

(ilg#t The report also pointed to a nurnber of other problems. It

said that between l July and 15 September 1.966 USAFTs 354th TFS had experienced

an inordinately high aircraft loss rate. Additionally, some pilots

in the theater were overworked, several squadrons had fewer than authorized

pilots, F-105 pilots had "low survivability" in route packages V and VIA,

stereot;ryed operations contributed to air losses, and a larger stock of ordnance

was needed to provide for a more intense antifLak n"og""*.


(€4lF) General Harris on 20 October forwarded the PACAF-seqgnth

Air Force assessment of the Hise Report to General McConnell. He generally

agreed with the reportts conclusions about the buildup of the Northrs antiaircraft

defenses and the need to broaden the target base. But he thought

the report added little to a fundamental discussion of aircraft losses since it

cited largely a number of well known facts. General Harris modified or took

exception to a number of points rai.sed. Concerning the effect of SA-2 missiles

(which forced pilots down to within range of antiaircraft guns), he sald that

Air Force "Wild Weaselrr and rrlron Hand'.' fo""""o equipped with electronie

* Wild Weasel aircraft, largely F-100F's and F-l05Frs, were specially

equipped for anti-SA-2 operations. Iron Hand was the operational code

name for attacks on SA-2 sites.


countermeasures (ECM) equipment were rnitigating the effect of the SA-2's

ontactics , although a major development effort was.still needed inttris area.

In bad weather it was the lack of an all-weather bombing systern that limited

operations rather than SA-2's. The Soviet-made missiles merely complicated

bombings, making it difficult for aircraft to fly higher lest they become vult7

nerable to a missile hit.

H With respect to high losses incurred by the 354th TFS, General

Harris attributed this primarily to aggressive leadership, accidents, and

misfortunes in only one squadron -- something that often happ€iied frr'peace

as well as in war without identifiable causes. Nor did he consider overwork or

fatigue of pilots a factor in aircraft losses. F-105 pilots at Takhli and Korat

Air Bases in Thailand, for example, in JuIy flew an'average of 56. 7 and 43. 9

hours respectively. In August they flew 48.2 and 36. 5 hours respectively.

Although aircraft often flew twice in one day, piLots seldom did exceptduring "peak

loadstt and this was an infrequent requirement.

gel+) General Harris also took issue with a statistical inierprdiation

showing that F-105 pilots flying 100 rnissions over route packages V and VIA

would suffer excessive losses. Although the figures (based on July and

August data) were approximately correct, they represented the greatest

attrition rate in a period of maximurn losses in the highest risk area in

Southeast Asia. Seventh Air Force records showed that only 25 percent of

pilot missions were in high risk areas. Thus, in a l00-mission tour, an

F-105 pilot would not lose his aircraft over enerny or frieridly territory as

often as alleged. He further observed that the F-4C loss rate was about onefourth

that of the F-105 rate. He conceded that some squadrons at Takhli and

Fleetrs viewof the effectiveness

of anti-SA-2 operations. See p 26.



Korat Air Bases had been below auihori.zed pilot strength during the

June-September period.

tFf; The PACAF commander also agreed that, to some extent,

there was a tendency to use standard or "stereot;pedt' tactics because of

the need for efficient air scheduling and to meet JCS objectives. But it

was North Vietnamts effective early warning and ground control interception

system rather than stereotyped tactics that aided the enemy and provided

hirn with nearly total information on U. S. air operations. The advantages

of existing air scheduling, he thought, far exceeded the disadvantag.". 18

ILfffl The Air Staff and General McConnell considered the data in

the Hise Report as accurate and generally accepted the findings. On I0

October the JCS informed Seeretary McNamara that, to the extent possible,

Admiral Sharp and the services had taken several steps to amellorats*he

aircraft loss rate. But certain other measures would require administration

approval, particularly increased production of specific t;pes of munitions

for more effective suppression of enemy air defenses. There included 2. 75

rockets with M-151 heads, Shrikes, CBU-24ts, and 2,000- and 3,000-pound

bombs. The Joint Chiefs reaffirmed their recommendation of 22 August that

Rolling Thunder program 52 be adopted to broaden the target base over North

Vietnam and make possible increased destruction of enemy air defense


(I*l) The Hise Report findings prompted Dr. Brown and Deputy

Secretary of Defense Vance to seek clari.fication of certain aspects of aircraft

attrition. Detailed replies subsequently were incorporated into a JCS paper

in wtrich the service chiefs also cited two rnajor policy handicaps of the air

war that contributed to aircraft losses. These were the administrationrs

restrictive targeting policies and its observance of the sanctuary areas around



Hanoi, Haiphong, and in the buffer zone adjacent to China. They endorsed the

Hise Report finding that North Vietnamrs air defense system eventually could

make air attacks unprofitable and reaffirmed the need for morC,ECM aquipment

and suitable ordnance. They disagreed with the reportrs belief that

pilot fatigue contributed to losses, but conceded some pilots had been overworked

because occasionally there were insufficient numbers of them. They

pointed to Admiral Sharprs recent directive (of 2 October) stating that sorties

allocated for North Vietnam and Laos were not mandatory figures to be

achieved but were issued to indicate the weight of air effort that should go

into certain areas. Air units were not to be pressed beyond a neasengble


McNarnarars Proposal to Reduce Aircraft Attrition

(EFQ Meanwhile, based on a study by his Southeast Asia Prograrn

Division of 1965 aircraft loss rates, Secretary McNamara on 17 September

sent the JCS a plan to reduce aircraft losses, particularly the Navy's. It

took into consideration the Air Forcets force structure which the division

believed could absorb aircraft losses more easily. To reduce Navy losses,

the Defense Seeretary suggested shifting about 1,000 sorties per

month from North Vietnam and Laos to South Vietnam with the Air Force

increasing its sortie activities in those two cqrntries. He thought this

rnight reduce Navy losses by about 59 aircraft during the nexh,nine mogths.

In absolute numbers, USAF losses had been less and Navy losses more than

planned, in part because some "higher lossrr targets initially planned for the

Air Force had been assigned to the Navy. Loss rates varied widely by target.

OveraII, Mr. McNamara saw no significant difference in the air performance

of the two services, asserting that "I think they're both doing a magnificent



job and I see no difference as measured by loss rates in their effectiveness

rn comDat.., ,"2I

(ffi Generals McConnell and Harris strongly opposedbny chdnge

in sortie assignments. so did the JCS which on 6 october replied by noting

that differences between projected and actual aircraft losses in December

1965 had stemmed primarily from the high level of air effort in route packages

V and VIA and the significant increase in enemy air defenses. The Joint Chiefs

also observed that OSD had underestirnated both total combat sorties to be

flown over North vietnam and Navyrs noncombat aircraft losses. A shift in

sorties to reduce losses would pose considerable operational difficulties

for the Air Force by requiring more fLying time and air refueling missions

in order to reaeh the northernmost targets. The Navy too woult haveto

22 make important operational adjustments.

(G;ltF) Affirming that every effort was being made to reduce aircraft

and aircrew losses, the JCS again recommended Rolling Thunder program

52 as the best solution. It also noted that,


current projections, even

with the recently announced (22 Septemb""ipro"orement increase, new production

would not equal aircraft 1o"""".23

(IfXlfl In view of this reply, Secretary McNamara abandoned plans

to switch Air Force and Navy operational areas.

xSeep 52.



(El#) While the Air Force concentrated on Tally-Ho strikes,Jhe

administration in late 1966 took another look at JCS proposals to increase

the air pressure on North Vietnam. During a co.nferenee in October in

Honolulu to review additional U.S. force deployments, Admiral Sharp proposed

a revised strike program averaging 11,100 sorties per month against

the North for 18 months beginning in January 196?. On 4 November the JCS

endorsed both the deployment and sortie proposals and again advocated

mining the sea approaches to North Vietnamrs principal ports, as well as

several other actions.


(t5#) On 8 November General Wheeler urged Secretary McNamara

to approve the Rolling Thunder program 52 sent to him initially on 22

August. Except for some fixed targets, the prograrn would prdtribit armed

reconnaissance within a lO-nautical-mile radius of Hanoi and Phuc Yen

airfield and the Haiphong sanctuary would be limited to a radius of four

nautical miles. The JCS chairrnan singled out a number of other major

targets remaining in the North, cornmenting briefly on each. He proposed

striking three SA-2 supply sites, observing that since 1 July 1955"a1. lelst

949 SA-2's had been launched against U. S. aircraft, destroying 32. He

suggested attacks on certain POL storage facilities, estimating that 24,80O

metric tons remained of an initial 132,000 metric tons of fixed POL storage

capacity. Dispersed sites, he said, held about 42,500 metric tons. Other

targets on his list included the Thai NgUyen steel plant, the Haiphong cement

pLant, two Haiphong power plants, four waterway locks (related to water


transportation), and the port areas of Cam Pha and Haiphong.


tlllir€FJf On 10 November Secretary Brown informed Secretary

McNamara that he endorsed the proposed Rolling Thunder 52 program.

It would include 472 strike sorties against selective targets (canal vrater

Iocks, POL storage areas, manufacturing and electric powEr plantSf and

SA-2 support facilities) in route package areas V, VIA, and VIB. On the

basis of I April - 30 September 1966 attrition rates, there would be a loss

cf eight aircraft. He thought the air strikes would reduce and discourage

shipping operations, reduce POL storage, increase replenishment, repair,

and construction problems, and make more diffiorlt the resupply of Communist

forces in the South.


Approval of Rolling Thunder Program 52

tEF{it) The administration on 12 November approved a modified

Rolling Thunder program 52. It contained 13 previously unauthorized JCS

targets: a bridge, a railroad yard, a cement plant and two p*ower plants in

- :f

Haiphong, two POL facilities, two SA-2 supply sites, and seLected elements

of the Thai Nguyen steel p1ant. Ten vehicle depots also were earmarked

for attaek. To assure success of the overall program, the JCS raised the

authorized attack sortie level to 13, 200 per month for November. In

separate but related planning aetion, Secretary McNamara limited the JCSrecommended

air and ground deployment prog?am through June 1968 on

the grounds that an excessively large buildup could jeopardize some recently


achieved economic stability in South Vietnam.

{a#ipespite the new attack sortie authorization, the northeast monsoons

restricted program "52" operations for the remainder of 1966. Actual

sorties flown in November totaled 7,252 (3,68I USAF) and in December,

6,732 (USAF 4,1291. These figures compared with the yearrs high of IZ,IS4




U. S. attack sorties flown against the North in September. !A sudden,administration

decision in November to defer striking six of the approved JCS targets

also affected the sortie rate.5

fEs-aClF|l Among the authorized targets were the Hai Gai POL storage

site, hit on 22 November by USAF F-4C's, and the Dap Cai railroad bridge,

a holdover from program "51tt. Navy aircraft struck the Haiphong SA-2

supply complex and the Cam Thon POL storage area. On 2 December USAF

aircraft hit the Hoa Gai site for a second tirne while Navy aircraft conducted

a first strike against the Van Vien vehicle depot. ffru f*tt."*as subsequently

hit six times through 14 December. USAF aircraft also hit Yen Vien railroad

year for the first time twice on 4 December and conducted restrikes on 13

and 14 December. Both the vehicle depot and the railroad yard were heavily



The Furor Over Air Strikes "On Hanoi"

ffi?41 The USAF and Navy strikes of 13 and 14 December against

the Van Vien vehicle depot and the Yen Vien railroad yard had international

repercussions. The depot was about five nautical miles south of Hanoi and

the yard, a major junction of three rail lines with two of them connecting

with China, about six nautical miles northeast of Hanoi. Both the North

Vietnamese and Russians immediately charged that aircraft had struck residential

areas of Hanoi, killing or wounding 100 civilians. Allegedly, several

foreign ernbassies were also hit, including Communist Chinats. Headquarters

MACV quickly asserted that only military targets were struck. The State


Department conceded that the attacking aircraft might have accidentally hit

residential areas but strongly suggested that Hanoi's antiaircraft fire and

SA-2 missiles (of which more than I00 were fired during the two days, a


record high) may have caused the civili"rr' d"*"g".7

tEeCnS Debriefings of the crews of seven USAF fligljs participating

' '' jrl

in the 13 and 14 Decembe r strikes on the railroad yard indicated that two

fLights experienced problems. The crews of one had difficulty acquiring

the target and were uncertain of the exact release coordinates because of

clouds and a MIG attack. Although they thought the ordnance was released

in the immediate target area, they conceded it might have fallen slightly

southwest of a bridge located south of the railroad yard. Poor weather

also pre'rented the crews of a second fiight from seeing the railroad yard

and bomb impact was not observed, although they thought the ordnance

struck rolling stock.


(tr-fA The Communist allegations -- and the growing critieism by

certain groups in the United States and abroad about the warts escalation --

prompted the administration on 16 December to suspend further attacks on

the Yen Vien railroad yard. On the 23d Admiral Sharp advised all subordinate

commands that until further notice no air attacks were autho rized

within 10 nautical miles of the center of Hanoi. Attacks on other fixed targets

were also halted for the time being. On 26 December *New Yor{<

Times correspondent, Harrison E. Salisbury, who arrived in Hanoi on the

23d reported on alleged eyewitness accounts of the 13 and 14 December air

strikes that resulted in civilian casualties and damage. The Defense Department

on the same day acknowledged that some civilian areas may have

been struck accidentally but reemphasized its policy to bomb only military

targets in the North and to take all possible care to avoid civilian casualties.

I It was impossible, it said, to avoid some damage to civilian areas.


Other Air Operations in Novernber and Decernber

A ._ .rr,t (H+ Other air action in the last two months of 1966 included restrikes

along the Hanoi-Lai Cai railroad line in route package V and continuation

of the TaIly-Ho air campaign in route package I. In fact, about

43 percent of the total U. S. air effort in the North -- and 64 percent of the

USAF effort -- was directed against targets in route package I. An Air

Force compilation of the results of the Tally-Ho air campaign from 20 July

through November showed the following:




Antiaircraft and air warning


Roads cut, cratered, or



Secondary explosions



1, 208












Nevertheless there was still considerable uncertainty as to the overall


effect of this air program on North Vietnamrs ability to resupply the South.

(frafff A lirnited number of USAF road cutting and other air strikes

were also made in route packages II, ilI, and IV, There were no B-52

strikes in the North in November but in December 78 sorties were flown

in the DMZ and 35 sorties slightly above the zone. From 12 April lg66 when

the first strike was conducted against North Vietnam through the end of the

yearrB-52ts flew 280 sorties including 104 sorties i,n"DMZ North. " The

major B-52 effort was directed against targets in South Vietnam. Year-end

operations were also highlighted by 48-hour Christmas and New Year "truces".

Although bombing ceased over the North during each truce period, USAF


reconnaissance flights continued. USAF attack sorties for the year totaled

44, 500 - - slightly more than 54 percent of the 8I, 948 attack sorties flown

in the North by all U. S. and VNAF "i""r.ft.


JfiS+ff Meanwhile, the JCS in November asked Admiral Sharp to

comment on the 'rCombat Beaver'r proposal that the Air Staff had developed

in conjunction with the other services to support Secretary McNamarats

proposed electronic and ground barrier between North and South Vietnam.

Using Steel Tiger, Gate Guard, and Tally-Ho experience, Combat Beaver

called for day and night air strikes on key logistic centers. This, it was

hoped, would create new concentrations of backed-up enerny materiel and

equipment suitable for air strikes. It would complement any ground barrier


system and could begin immediately.

{fl:#) Admiral Sharpts eomments were critical. He said that with

certain exceptions Combat Beaver was similar to the current air program.

He thought that it overstressed the importance of air strikes in route packages

U, UI, and IV and would result in high aircraft losses. It would not, in his

view, increase overall air effectiveness but, instead, disrupt the existing

well-balanced air effort. Taking into account CINCPAC's comments and

those of other agencies, the Air Staff reworked the proposal and, at the end

of Deeember, produced a new one, designating it the integrated strike and


interdiction plan ( ISIP).

Assessment of Enemy Air Defenses

%SAt By the end of 1966 the overwhelming number of U. S. combat

aircraft losses in the North was still caused bv conventional antiaircraft

fire. The Seventh Air Force estimateO tf,u


antiaircraft strength


JUI 64

Aug 64

Mar 65

Apr 65

Jun 65

Jul 65

Aug 65

Dec 65

Mar 66

JUI 66

Aug 66

Dec 66




Air defense system based on obsolescent equipment. Antiaircraft

guns, 50; SA-2's, 0; air defense radars, 24;.fighteq

aircraft, 0.

Introduction of MIG-15's.

Introduction of improved air defense radars such as ground

control intercept.

First use of MIG fighter aircraft. Detection of first SA-2

site under construction.

Increase in air defense radars to 41.

First SA-2 fired at U.S. aircraft. Introduction of 100mm

antiaircraft guns.

Significant increase in low-altitude air defense radar eoverage. Increase

in antiaircraft strength to about 3,000 guns.

Introduction of MIG-2I's. Beginning of emissior, "olt"ol'of


air defense radar.

Irrtroduction of system for identification, friend or foe.

First MIG use of air-to-air missiles.

Completion of a sophisticated air defense system. Antiaircraft

guns, 4,400; SA-2's, 20 to 25 firihg battalions; air

defense radars, 271; fighter aircraft, 65.

Air defense system includes: light and medium antiaircraft

guns, 6,398; SA-2 sites, L5l; SA-2 firing battalions, 2b;

MIG-I5rs and -I?rs, 32; MIG-2I's, 15; use of air-to-air missiles.

SOURCE: Briefing Rprt on Factors Aff-ting A/C Losses in SEA, 26

Sep 66, prepared by Col. H.W. Hise, JCS (TS); USAF Mgt

Summary (S), 6 Jan 67; p 70; Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq

USAF; N. Y. Tirnes, Jul 66.



had grown from 5,000 to 7,40O guns during the year.


Nevertheless, U. S.

aircraft losses were decreasing with l? downed in November and 20 in

December. The Air Force lost 24 -- L2 Ln each of the two *orith".14 .*

€I9€ldFrhe MIG threat increased in December, apparently in response

to the latest U. S. attacks on important targets. During 3b encounters and

16 engagernents two F-105!s were lost as against one MIG. one of the losses,

on 14 December, was the first one attributed to a MIG-21 air-to-air missile.

Other air-to-air rnissiles were fired on at least five occasions during the

month, but u. s. air superiority was easily maintained. Between 3 April

1965, when the MIG's first entered the war, and 3l December 1966 there were

a total of 179 encounters and 93 engagements. The aerial battles cost the

enemy 28 MIGrs as against 9 u.s. aireraft, a ratio of t to 2.g. of the nine

losses, seven were usAF and two were Navy. In additionrthere were two

"probabLeil USAF losses to MIGrs. In December, the enemyrs combat aircraft

inventory, recently augmented by soviet deliveries, was believed to

consist of 32 MIG-I5's and -1Trs, lb MIG-21's, and six Il-2gfs, all at phuc

Yen airfield. 15 l; ..;.'.f

JIS+O SA-2ts continued to take a small but steady toll. They

claimed one usAF aircraft in November and three in December. Because

the missiles precluded the use of optimum air tactics, Admiral Sharp on

22 November proposed to the JCs a major effort to solve the sA-2 problem.

He placed the current SA-2 strength at 28 to 32 firingbattalions+ and warned

that the number would increase unless air restrictions were eaSbd.','Air€ady

a shortage of special munitions and properly equipped aircraft prevented a

* Seepo+anaaffi

+ The year-end estimate was 25 battalions. See p 64.



large-scale attack on these mobile, well-camouflaged units. Only a

"blitzkrieg" typ" of attack could prevent their *orr"*.rrt. 16

(re| For the short term, Admiral Sharp recommended the use

of all available aircraft to detect SA-2 sites, revision of the cument ta4-

geting system to include SA-2 assernbly and storage areas regardless of

location, a priority intelligence effort to locate key SA-2 control facilities,

and attacks on high priority targets in the North in random fashion to avoid

establishing a predictable pattern of attack. He also urged steps to increase

Shrike production, assure positive control and tracking of all U. S. aircraft

through the USAF "Big Eye" EC-121 program, improve distribution of SA-2

data, exploit rnore fully color photography in penetrating camouflage, and

equip all aircraft with ECM, chaff, homing radars, and warning receivers.

Further, the State and Defense Departments should release statements to

discourage the Soviets from deploying additional SA-2 systems by pointing

to the danger of escalation, and the "intelligence community" should constantly

review and distribute all relevant SA-2 information.

{ffQf} For the long term, Admiral Sharp said there was a need to

e>rpedite procurement of an antiradiation missile, develop betterl,,warneed$

using the implosion principle, ernploy beacons to aid in finding SA-2 emitters,

provide VHF/UHF homing capabilities for Wi.ld Weasel aircraft, and improve

data exchange between the Rome Air Development Center and Southeast

Asia operational activities.


{9fftfl The Air Staff generally agreed with Admiral Sharprs recommendations.

The JCS also concurred and directed General McConnell to procure

and deploy adequate numbers of anti-SA-2 devices and equipment. The

Joint Chiefs were still undecided at the end of the year whether to recommend



to Secretary McNamara an all-out campaign against the SA-2's in the iml8

mediate future.

Assessments of the Air War Against North Viltnam

rjilsrhD As 1966 ended, General McConnell and the Air Staff remained

convinced that greater use of air power, especially in North Vietnam, was

the only alternative to a long, costly war of attrition. They also thought

it would make unnecessary the massive buildup of U. S. and allied ground

forces still under way. Although the combined air and ground effort in Southeast

Asia had prevented a Communist takeover of South Vietnam, one Air

Staff assessment found no significant trend toward the attainment of other


U. S. objectives in that country.

4W Within the JCS General McConnell continued to support recommendations

to reduce operational restrictions and expand target coverage

in the North. The level of air effort was less than he desired, but he believed

air power had shown how it could be tailored to the geography of a country

and, by the selection of weapons and mode of air attack, be responsive to

political and psychoLogical considerations. In some instances, it was clear,

the Vietnam experience ran counter to conventional ai.r power concepts. As

he had observed in May, t'tactical bombingtr in South Vietnam was being conducted

in part by "stralegic" B-52 bombers pnd "strategictt bombing of the

North was being conducted largely by rrtactical bombers". 20

(U) Any evaluation of the effect of air power, especially in the North,

ti"r. .*a

had to consider political factors which limited military activity. To deal

with this circumstance, General McConnell offered the following dictum:

"Since air power, like our other military forces, serves a political objective,

it is also subject to political restraints. Therefore, we must qualify any



assessments of air powerts effectiveness on the basis of limitations that

govern its applicatiorr. " 21

Ff!* General Ha*is, the PACAF commander, singled out three

principal factors hampering the air campaign against North Vietnam: poLitical


restraints and geographical sanctuaries that precluded striking more lucrative

targets, poor weather for prolonged periods of time, and Hanoirs ability

to repair and reconstruct damaged target areas. With respect to the last,

PACAF officials acknowledged the North Vietnamese had t'exceptionaltr recuperative

capabilities to counter air attacks on trucks, rolling stock, and

the lines of communications. They had built road and rail by-passes and

bridges in minimum time, dispersed POL by using pack animals, human

porters and watercraft, and developed an effective air defense system. Infil.

tration through the DMZ, Laos, and Cambodia was pt"""A'"t Z, OOilto

9,000 men per month,


and the enemy logistic systern was supporting an

estimated 128,000 combat and combat support personnel with out-of-country

resources. General Harris thought that an important t'lesson learnedtt was

that the gradual, drawn-out air campaign had created very little psychological

impact on Hanoits leaders and the populace. He also continued to believe

(as did the Air Staff and other Air Force comrnanders in Southeast Asia)

that control of air operations in the North -- as well as in Laos and South

Vi.etnarn -- was too fragmented and should be centralized under a single air



(f,5r€7r8) Admiral Sharp's view of the air carnpaign against the North

in 1966 was that little had been accomplished in external assistance

to the enemy. Except for the June strikes on POL targets in Haiphong

* MACV and DIA eventually estimated that about 81,000 North Vietnamese

entered South Vietnam in 1966. The infiltration rate was high in the first

half and dropped sharply in the second half of the year.

. i$ffifffif,

(which handled 85 percent of the North's imports during the year), the port

was almost undisturbed. Of the nearly 82,000 attack sorties flown during

the year, less than one percent were against JCS-proposed targets. In the

critical northeast area (route packages VIA and VIB), of 104 targets only 19

were hit in 1965 and 20 in 1966; the remaining 99 percent of attack sorties

were armed reconnaissance and ftowl to harass, disrupt, and irnpede the

movement of men and supplies on thousands of rniles of roads, trails, and

inland and coastal waterways. IIe noted that despite severe losses of vehicles,

rotling stock, watercraft, supplies and men from air attack, the North

Vietnarnese were ingenious in hiding and dispersing their supplies and

showed "remarkable" recuperative ability. He concluded that the overall

amount of supplies and men rnoving through ttre DMZ, Laos, and Cambodia

into South Vietnarn probably was greater in 1966 than in 1965.23

(U) Secretary Brown took a somewhat different view of the air campaign

believing it had inflicted "serious" logistic losses on the North. From

2 March 1965 (when the Rolling Thunder program began) through Septernber

1966, air strikes had destroyed or damaged more than 7,000 trucks, 3,000

rail,way cars, 5,000 bridges, 15, 000 barges and boats, two-thirds of the

POL storage capacity, and many ammunition sites and other facilities. He

cited prisoner of war reports indicating that troops in the South received no

rnore than 50 percent of daily supply requirements.* In add$iotv,'.thgair

war had diverted 200,000 to 300,000 personnel to road, rail, and bridge repair

work, and combat troops for air defense. * t, December, military action in

both North and South Vietnarn had reduced battalion size attacks from seven

x Seep L

+ on I March 196?, Secretary McNamara estimated that Hanoi was using

I25,000 men for its air defenses and "tens of thousands" of others for

coastal defense.



to two per month and, in the past eight months, raised enemy casualties

from 3,600 to 5, 200 per month.

(u) Although infittration frorn the North continued, secretary Brown

said: "I do not believe that an air blockade of land and sea routes will ever

be completely effective any more than a sea bLoekade can prevent all commerce

from entering or leaving a country. " He thought the air attacks were

becoming more effective due to improvements in intelligence, tactics, equipment,

and techniques.

(u) The Air Force secretary defended the administrationrs policy of

exempting certain targets from air attack if they supported only the North's

civilian economy, were close to urban areas and would cause civilian suffering

if hit, and would not significantly affect in the short term the enemyrs

ability to continue fighting. He 1isted five criteria for judging whether to

strike a target: its effect on infiltration from North to south, the extent of

air defenses and possible u.s. aircraft losses, the degree of 'rpenalty" inflicted

on North Vietnam, the possibility of civilian casualties, and the danger

of soviet or chinese intervention resulting in a larger war. He thought

that a "Korean-type" victory -- with the aggressor pushed back and shown

that aggression did not pay -- would meet u. s. objectives and make the war

in Vietnam a ttsuccess .t, 24

(tlnpq Secretary McNamarars views on the controlled use of air power

against the North were well known. rn a ttdeployment issuett paper sent to

the JCS on 6 october in conjunction with deproyment planning, he said that

intelligence reports and aerial reco.nnaissance clearly showed how the air

program against the North effectively harassed and delayed truck movements

and rnateriel into the South but had no effect on troop infiltration moving along


trails. He thought that the cost to the enemy to repLace trucks and cargo as

a result of stepped up air strikes would be negligible compared with the cost

of greatly increased U.S. aircraft losses. In a summation of his views on

the war before House Subcommittees in Februarv 1967 te further stated:

For those who thought that air attacks on North Vietnam

would end the aggression in South Vietnam, the results from

this phase of the operations have been disappointing. But

for those who understood the political and economic structure

of North Vietnam, the results have been satisfactory. Most

of the war materiel sent from North Vietnam to South Vietnam

is provided by other Communist countries and no amount of

destruction of the industrial capacity . can, by itself,

eliminate this flow

When the bombing campaign began he added, "we did not believe that air

attacks on North Vietnam, by themselves, would bring its leaders to the

conference table or break the morale of its people -- and they have not

done so. "

(U) The Defense Secretary also observed that although air strikes had

destroyed two-tNrds of their POL storage capacity, the North Vietnamese had

continued to bring it in t'over the beachrt and disperse it. POL shortages

did not appear to have greatly impeded the Northts war effort. He reiterated

the U. S. policy that 'rthe bombing of the North is intended as a supplement to

and not a substitute for the military operations in the South. " 25


72 Notes to Pages I r 7



Chapter I

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1965, vol II, pp 326 and 328; Project CHECO SEA

Rprt (TS), 15 Dec 66, subj: Comd and Control, 1965, pp 1-7; memo (TS),

Lt Col B. F. Echols, Exec, Dir/Plans to AFCHO, 27 Nov 6?, subj: Review

of Draft Hist Study, "The Air Campaign Against NVN. "

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1965, vol II, pp 326 and 328; Testimony of Gen J. p.

McConnell, CSAF on 9 May 66 before Senate Preparedness Investigating

Subcmte of Cmte on Armed Services, 89th Cong, 2d Sess (U) g-10 May 66,

USAF Tactical Air Ops and Readiness, pp 25-26.

Rpft (TS), An EvaI of the Effects of the Air Campaign Against NVN and

Laos, prepared by Jt Staff, Nov 66, in Dir/P1ans; Talking paper for the

JCS for the State-JCS Mtg on 1 Apr 66 (TS), Undated, subj: Discussions

with Mr. Bundy on Far Eastern Matters, in Dir/plans; Hist (TS),

CINCPAC, 1965, vol II, pp 339-41; memo (TS), Col D. G. Gravenstine,

Chief Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops to AFCHO, 22 Nov 6?, subj: Draft of

AFCHO Hist Study.

Memo (TS), CoI J. C. Berger, Asst Dir for Jt Matters, Dir/Ops to CSAF,

10 Aug 66; Background Paper on Division of R/T Area (TS), Mar 66, both

in Dir/Plans; Excerpts from Gen Moorets Presentation to the JCS (TS),

13 JuI 66, in OSAF; Project CHECO SEA Rprts (TS), 15 Dec 66, subj: Comd

and Control, 1965, pp 1-9; and I Mar 6?, subj: Control of Air Strikes in

SEA, pp 95-97; memo (TS), Echols to AFCHO, 27 Nov 6?.

Van Staaveren (TS), 1965, pp 7L-74; N.y. Times, l Feb 66.





6. Memo (TS), CoI J.H. Germeraad, Asst Dep Dir of Plans for War plans,

Dir/Plans to CSAF, 10 Jan 66, subj: Strat for SEA; Background paper on

Pertinent Testimony by SECDEF and JCS given on 20 Jan 66 (TS), 20 Jan

66, both in Dir/Plans.

JCSM-16-66 (TS), 8 Jan 66.

Memo (TS), Lt Gen J.T. Carroll,, Dir DIA to SECDEF, 2L Jan 66, subj:

An Appraisal of the Bombing of NVN, in Dir/ptans; JCSM-41-66 (TS),

18 Jan 66.

JCSM-56-66 (rS), 25 Jan 66.

JCS 2343/751 (TS), 13 Jan 66; SM-82-66 (TS), 22 Jan 66.

Memo (TS), SECDEF to Chmn JCS, S Jan 66, no subj: in Dir/ptans; CM-

1135-66 (TS), 22 Jan 66.





(This Page is Unclassified)


Notes to Pages 7 - 14 UI{CLASSIFIED

Testimony of Secy McNamara on 26 Jan 66 before House Subcmte on

Appns, 89th Cong, 2d Sess (U), Supplemental Def Appns for 1966, p 3I.

Ibid., p 32; background briefing by U.S. officials (U), 31 Jan 66, in


Memo (TS), SECDEF to Pres, 24 Jan 66, subj: The Mil Outlook in SVN,

i.n Diri Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, p 605.

trfash Post, I Feb 66; N.Y. Tirnes, 1 Feb 66.


Intvw (U), McConnell with Hearst Panel, 2I Mar 66, in SAFOI; Hist (TS),

CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, p 49I; Rprt (TS), Dir/Ops, 20 Apr 66, subj:

SEA Counter-Air Alternatives, p A -28, Ln AFCHO.

Memo (TS), Col D. G. Cooper, Ofc Dep Dir of Plans for War Plans, Dir/

Plans to CSAF, 12 Feb 66, subj: The Emplo;rment of Air Power in the War

i.n NVN; Briefing of JCS R/t Stuay Gp Rprt (TS), 6 Apr 66, subj: Air Ops

Against NVN, App A; Rprt (TS), An EvaI of Effect of the Air Campaign

Against NVN and Laos, all in Dir/Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II,

pp 493-44; Jacob Van Staaveren, USAF Deployment Planning for SEA

(AFCHO, 1966) (TS), pp 1-2 and 26 (hereinafter cited as Van Staaveren,


CM-I14?-66 (TS), I Feb 66.

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp 510-11; Van Staaveren (TS), 1966,

ch II.

Merno (U), Lt Gen H. T. Wheless, Asst Vice CSAF to Deps, Dirs, Chiefs

of Cornparable Ofces, l? Feb 66, subj: Analysis of Air Power, in Dir/

Plans; Van Staaveren, 1966, pp 10-15.

Merno (S), Lt Gen R. R. Compton, DCS/P&O to DCS/P&R, 21 Feb 66, subj:

Organization in SEA, in Dir/Plans.

Memo (TS), Maj Gen S. J. McKee, Asst DCS/Plans and Ops for JCS to

CSAF, 18 Feb 66, subj: Air Ops Against NVN; JCSM-113-66 (TS), 19 Feb

66, both in Dir/Plans.

Testimony of Secy McNamara on 25.Jan 66 before House Subcmte on

Appns, 89th Cong, 2d Sess (U), Supplernentary Def Appns for L966, pp 33

and 39; memo (TS), Cooper to ment

of Air Power in the War in VltI; memo (TS), McKee to SECDEI', 24 Mar

66, subj: Air Ops against NVN, both in Dir/Plans; N.Y. Tirnes, 5 Feb 66.


Chapter II

I. Jacob Van Staaveren, USAF Plans and Operations in Southeast Asia

(AFcHo, 1e65) (TS), p so s-)lflan

Staaveren, 1966, pp 4 and 19.





















UNCLASSIFIED Notes to Pages 15 - 20

Rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Mar 66, pp 2-3, prepared by Dir/Tac Eval,

Hqs PACAF ( hereinafter cited as PACAF rprt); JCS R/T Study Gp Rprt

(TS), 6 Apr 67, App A; ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 18 Sep, subj: An

Eval of CY 66-67 Force Rqmts; rprt (TS), Eval of Effects of the Air

Campaign Agai.nst NVN and Laos, Nov 66, all in Dir/ptans; JCSM-I53-

66 (TS), 10 Mar 66.

Memo (TS), McKee to Gen. W. H. Blanchard, Vice CSAF, 23 Mar 66,

subj: Air Ops Against AfLds in NVN, in Dir/Ops; Hist (TS) MACV, 1966,

p 431; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, Vol II, p 494.

Memo (TS), McKee to CSAF, 25 Mar 66, subj: Acft Losses Over NVN,

w/atch Talking Paper, in Dir/plans; intvw (U), McConnelt with Hearst

Panel, 21 Mar 66 in SAFOI; rprt (TS),Dir/plans,20 Apr 66, p A-34;

N.Y. Journal American, 2O Mar 66.

Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, p 10; Hq USAF Ops Analysis Initial progress

Rprt (S), Mar 66, subj: Analysis of Effectiveness of Ipterdiction

in SEA, in AFCHO.

Hq USAF Ops Analysis Second Progress Rprt (S), May 66, subj: Analysis

of Effectiveness of Air Interdiction in SEA, ch Vrin AFCHO.

Summary of Action by JCS (TS), 2b Mar 66, subj: Air Ops Against NVN,

in Dir/Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vo1 II, p 497.

CSAFM-W-66 (TS), 20 Jan 66; CSAFM-P-23-66 and CMCM-33-66 (TS),

18 Apr 66; Talking Paper onAir Interdiction NVN/Laos (TS), 6 JuI 66;

rprt (TS), An Eval of the Effects of the Air Campaign Against NVN and

Laos, Nov 66, all in Dir/P1ans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II,

p 497; Hist (TS), MACV 1966, p 43I.

CSAFM-W-66 (TS), 20 Jun 66; rprt (TS), An Eval of the Effects of the

Air Campaign Against NVN and Laos, Nov 66, PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air

Ops, Apr 66, pp 3-8, all in Dir/plans.

DAF Order No 559N (U), 26 Mar 66, in AFCHO; Hist (TS), CINCPAC,

1966, vo1 II, p 468; tel to Ofc of Asst for Gen Officer Matters, DCS/P

(U), 15 Aug 6?.

PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Apr 66, p 388, in Dir/Ops; Seventh AF

Chronology, I Jul 65-30 Jun 66 (S), p 48; HqUSAF Ops Analysis Second

Progress Rprt (S), May 66, pp 39-44, both in AFCHO; project CHECO

SEA Rprts (TS), 15 JuI 67, subj: R/T, Jul 6b-Dec 66, p b0, and 21 JuI

67, subj: Expansion of USAF Ops in SEA, f966, pp 100-03; Hist (TS),

CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, p 575.

Seventh AF Chronology, I JuI 65-30 Jun 66, p bI; pACAF rprt (S), SEA

Air Ops, Apr 66, pp 3-8.






Notes to Pages 20 - 28



Background Paper on the Division of the R/T Area (TS), Mar 66; Talking

Paper on the Division of the R/T Area (TS), Mar 66, both in Dir/Plans;

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp 494-95.

Memo (TS), McKee to CSAF, 16 Apr 66, subj: Priority of Air Effort in

SEA; memo (TS), SECDEF to Chmn JCS, 14 Apr 66, no subj: ltr (TS),

CINCPAC to JCS, 18 Sep 66, subj: Eval of CY 66-67 Force Rqmts w/atch

MACV Rprt (TS), 5 Sep 66; CM-1354-66 (TS), 20 Apr 66; Background

Paper on R/T Areas (TS), Mar 66, all in Dir/Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC,

1966, vol II, pp 494-97; merno (TS), Gravenstine to AFCHO, 22 Nov 67.

JCS 2343/805-1 (TS), 14 Apr 66.

CSAFM-P-30-66 (TS), 20 Apr 66; memo (TS), Maj Gen L. D. Clay, Dep

Dir of Plans to CSAF, 26 JuI 66, subj: U.S. Strat for SEA and S.W.

Pacific; JCS 2343/805-1 (TS), 14 Apr 66; JCS 23431805-5, 22 Jlu'L 66, a1l

in Dir/Plans.

JCS R/T Study Gp Rprt (TS), 6 Apr 66, subj: Air opsAgainst NVN; memo

(TS), McKee to CSAF, 13 Apr 66, subj: R/T Stuay Gp Rprt, Air Ops

Against NVN; memo (TS), Gravenstine to AFCHO, 22 Nov 66.

CSAFM-P-22-66 (TS), 13 Apr 66; memo (TS), McKee to CSAF, 13 Apr 66;

JCSM-238-66 (TS), 14 Apr 66, all in Dir/Plans.

Transcript (U), Secy Brownrs remarks on "Meet the Press, " 22 May 66,


Memo (S), Berger to CSAF, 15 Sep 66, subj: ?th AF Ops in RP II, Itr,

and IV; PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, May 66, pp l-8, both in Dir/Plans.

PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, May 66, pp L-8; Seventh AF Chronology,

I Jul 65 to 30 Jun 66, p 52; ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 18 Sep 66; Project

CHECO SEA Rprts (TS), I Sep 66, subj: Night Interdiction in SEA, pp 33-

37, and 25 May 67, subj: Interdiction in SEA (1965-1966), pp 39-69.

Testimony of McConnell on 9 May 66 before Senate Preparedness Investigating

Subcmte (TS), pp 16-17 (AFCHO's classified copy); PACAF rprt

(S), SEA Air Ops, May 66, pp l-8 and 22; CINCPACFLT Analysis Staff

Study 9-66 (TS), 12 Jul 66, subj: Cornbat Effectiveness of the SA-2 through

Mid-I966, both in Dir/Plans.

Memo (S), Maj Gen R. N. Smith, Dir of Plans to DCS/P&O, 3 May 66, subj:

Capabilities for Aerial Blockade; msg 87716 (TS), CSAF to SAC, PACAF,

TAC, USAFE, 6 May 66, both in Dir/Plans.

Msg 95413 (TS), CINCPACAF to CSAF, 24 May 66, in Dir/Plans.

Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, p 126; PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops,

Jun 66, pp 6-9; Seventh AF Chronology, 1 Jul 65-30 Jun 66, (S), p 52;

ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 18 Sep 66; Project CHECO SEA Rprt (S),

9 Aug 6?, subj: Combat Skyspot, pp 6 and 19; Project CHECO SEA Rprt

(TS), I Sep 66, subj: Night Interdiction in SEA, pp 33-37.
















UITICLASSIFIED Notes to Pages 28 - 35

26. PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Jun 66, pp 6-9; project CHECO SEA

Rprt (TS), I Sep 66, subj: Night Interdiction in SEA, pp 33-3?.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 25 May 6?, subj: Interdiction in SEA,

1965-1966, pp 60-6I.

Chapter III

Memo (TS), R. Hekns, Acting Dir CIA to Dep SECDEF, 27 Dec 6b, subj:

Probable Reaction to u. s. Bombing of pol, Targets in NVN, in Dir/




2 Memo (TS), McKee to SECDEF, 24 Mar 66, subj: Air Ops Against NVN;

memo (S), C. R. Vance, Dep SECDEF to Chmn JCS, 2b apr OO, sarne subj;

memo (TS), W.W. Rostow, Spec Asst to pres to Secys State and Def, 6 Miy

66, no subj, all in Dir/plans; study (TS), 2z oct 66, subj: Effectiveness

of Ai.r Strikes Against NVN, prepared by Sys Analysis Div, Dept of Navy,

in OSAF.

Memo (TS), Smith to CSAF, 16 Jun 66, subj: NVN Strike prog, in Dir/

Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, p 498.

Ibid. ; Testimony of Mcconnell on g May 66 before Senate preparedness

Investigating Subcmte of the Crnte on Arrned Services (Ul, p 27.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), t5 Jut 6?, subj: R/T, Jul 65-Dec 66, p 59;

N. Y. News, 24 Jun 66; Wash post, 30 Jun 66, N. y. Tirnes, I Jul 66.

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp 499-b00; Hist (TS), MACV i966,

p 431; fg!-p""l, 26 Jun 66; Balt Sun, 2? Jun 66.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), Ib Jul 62, subj: R/T, Jut 65-Dec 66, p 64;

Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp 499-500; Van Staaveren, 1966,

p 42; N. Y. Tirnes, I JuI 66.






8. Wash Post, 30 Jun 66.

q N. Y. Times, I Jul 66; Van Staaveren, 1966, p 42.

10. Ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 4 Aug 66, subj: CINCPAC Briefing for

SECDEF, 8 JUI 66; memo (TS), A. Enthoven, Asst SECDEF for Sys

Analysis to Secys of MiI Depts et al, 12 Jul 66, subj: crNCpAC July g,

1966 Briefing, both in Dir/plaridlffist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol Ir, pp


Ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 4 Aug 66; memo (TS), Enthoven to Secys

of MiI Depts et al, 12 Jul 66.

Van Staaveren, 1966, pp 42-53.




Notes to Pages 35 - 40 UNCLASSIFIED

PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Jul 66, pp 4-?; Rpt (TS), An Eval of the

Effect of the Air Campaign Against NVN and Laos, Nov 66; 1tr (TS),

CINCPAC to JCS, 4 Aug 66.

Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, pp 13 and 20-22.

Memo (TS), Berger to CSAF, 15 Sep 66; Excerpts from Gen Moorers

Presentation to the JCS (TS), 13 Jul 66; pACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops,

JuI 66, pp 4-7; memo (TS), Gravenstine to AFCHO, 22 Nov 6?.

Talking Paper for JCS for Their Mtg with Adm Sharp at the JCS Mtg of

23 Sep 66 (TS), 22 Sep 66, in Dir/ptans; PACAF rprt (S), SEA AirOps,

Aug 66, pp 1-2; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp b00-02.

Memo (TS), M/cen J. E. Thomas, Asst CS/I to SAF, 14 Oct 66, subj:

PACAF Rprt on the NVN POL Situation, in Dir/plans.

PACAF Rprts (S), SEA Air Ops, JuI 66, pp 4-b, Aug 66, pp 1-3; Sep 66,

pp 4 and 8; and Oct 66, pp 10-ll, all in Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops.

Talking Paper for JCS for Their Mtg with Adm Sharp . . . on 23 Sep 66

(TS), 22 Sep 66; PACAF rprts (S), SEA Air Ops, JuI 66, pp 4-5 and 20;

Aug 66, p 22; Sep 66, p 23; and Oct 66, p 23.











PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops,

Jul 66 and 9 Aug 66; Wash Star,

Jul 66, pp 4-5 and 20; N. Y. Times, 8

8 Aug 66; Balt Sun, 2fE!-6El-



Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), I Sep 66, subj: Ni.ght Interdiction in

SEA, pp 37-38; ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 18 Sep 66; Hist (TS), MACV,

1966, p 434; NJ. Times, 3I Jul 66.

Project CHECO SEA Rpts (TS), 9 Sep 66, subj: Night Interdiction in

SEA, pp 37-38; 2l Nov 66, subj: Operation TaIly-Ho, pp vi and l-12;

15 Feb 67, subj: Air Ops in the DMZ Area, pp 3b-42; and 15 May 6?,

subj: Air Interdiction in SEA, pp 6I and 64; briefing (TS), by Brig

Gen C. M. Talbott, Dep Dir Tac Air Control Center, ?th AF for SECDEF

et al (Saigon), 10 Oct 66, Doc No 13 in Project CHECO SEA Rprt, Ib

Feb 67 pt II; PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, JuI 66, pp ?-8; Wash Star,

1 Aug 66.

Memo (TS), Rear Adm F. J. Bloui, Dir Fast East Region, OSD to Dir

of Jt Staff, 1 Jun 66, subj: Air Ops in ttre DMZ; msg (TS), JCS to

CINCPAC, 20 Jun 66, both in Dir/plans; Hlst (TS), MACV, 1966, pp


PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Aug 66, p 6; JCSM-603-66 (TS), t? Sep 66;

N.Y. Times, 3l JuI 66.

Memo (S), McConnell to Dep SECDEF, 25 Aug 66, no subj, in Dir/plans;

Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul 66, p 255; project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 2l Nov

66, subj: Operation Tally-Ho, pplT-2b.



?8 U]{CLASSIFI[D Notes to pages 4r - 4s

26. PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Oct 66, p 2; Project CHECO SEA Rprt

(TS), 15 Feb 6?, subj: Air Ops in tlrre DMZ area, pp 22, 26-28, 37, and


27. Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 25 May 67, subj: Air Interdiction in SEA,

1965-1966, pp 64-65.

28. Memo for record (S), by Lt CoI L. F. Duggan, Exec Asst Ofc, Dir Jt

Staff, 13 Oct 66, no subj; memo (TS), undated, subj: JCS Assessment

of the Threat, both in Dir/Plans; Briefing (TS), by Brig Gen Talbott,

l0 Oct 66; Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 15 Feb 67, subj: Air Ops

in the DMZ area, 1966, pp 24-25 and 51; PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops,

pp l-7 and I7.

29. Memo (TS), Holloway to SAF, 19 Oct 66, subj: Results of Air Effort

Upon Movement Through NVN/SVN DMZ During Aug 66, in Dir/Plans.

30. Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 25 May 6?, subj: Air Interdiction in SEA,

1965-1966, p 68; Doc 96 in Project CHECO SEA Rprt, 15 Feb 67,

pt II.

Chapter IV

t. Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, pp 20-23.

2. Memo (S), CoI F.W. Vetter, MiIAsst to SAF to Vice CSAF, 3 Aug 66,

subj: Significance of Watercraft Destroyed in NVN, in Dir/Plans.

3. Ibid.

4. Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, pp 23-24; memo (TS), Gravenstine to

AFCHO, 22 Nov 66.

5. Memo (TS), SECDEF to SAF, SN, 2 Sep 66, subj: Night Ops in SEA, in


6. Ibid.

7. Memo (S), SN to SECDEF, 28 Sep 66, subj: Study Results: Night Ops in


8. Memo (S), SAF to SECDEF, I0 Nov 66, no subj; study (TS), 2? Oct 66,

subj: Effectiveness of Air Strikes Against NVN.

9. Memo (TS), SN to SECDEF, 3 Nov 66, subj: Study of Effectiveness of

Air Strikes Against NVN w/atch study (TS), 27 Oct 67, subj: Effectiveness

of Air Strikes, both in OSAF; memo (TS), Gravenstine to AFCHO,

22 Nov 67.

10. Memo (TS), SAF to SECDEF, I0 Nov 66.


Notes to Pages 49 - 58 UNCLASSIFIED

Merno (S), SAF to SECDEF, 19 JuI 66, subj: A/C Attrition in SEA, in



Memo (S), SAF to SECDEF, 24 66, subj: Questions Resulting from

Briefing on Night Ops in SEA; merno (TS), McConnell to Dep SECDEF,

25 Aug 66, subj: JCS 2343/894-1, 25 Aug 66, both in OSAF.

Memo (S), Clay to CSAF, 25 Aug 66, subj: SEA Tac Ftr Attrition and

A/C Proc Prog; merno (S), Holloway to Chmn JCS, 29 Aug 66, subj:

SEA Tac Ftr Attrition and A/C Procur, both in Dir/Plans.

N. Y. Times, 23 Sep 66.


Briefing Rprt of Factors Affecting A/C Losses in SEA (S), 26 Sep 66,

prepared by Col. H.W. Hise, Chrnn, JCS A/C Losses Study Gp; ICS

A/C Losses Study Gp Rprt (TS), Nov 66, subj: Factors Affecting Combat

Air Ops and A/C Losses in SEA, both in Dir/Plans.

Msg 20135 (S), CINCPACAF to CSAF, 20 Oct 66, in OSAF; CINCPACFLT

Analysis Staff Study 9-66 (TS), 12 Jul 66, subj: Combat Effectiveness of

the SA-2 Through Mid-1966; Briefing Rprt of Factors Affecting A/C

Losses in SEA (S), 26 Sep 66, both in Dir/Plans; Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-

Dec 66, pp 272-74.

Msg 20135 (S), CINCPACAF to CS,AF, 20 Oct 66; Briefing Rprt of Factors

Affecting A/C Losses in SEA (S), 26 Sep 66.

Memos (S), Clay to CSAF, 23 and 2? Sep and 3 Oct 66, same subjs:

Factors Affecting A/C Losses in SEA, in Dir/Plans; JCSM-651-66, 10

Oct 66.

Memo (Vl, 22 Oct 66, subj: Secy Brownrs Questions Concerning the Hise

Rprt, in OSAF; Talking Paper for Chmn JCS on an Analysis of Air Ops

in NVN to be discussed with SECDEF on 12 Nov 66 (TS), I1 Nov 66, subj:

Analysis of Air Ops in NVN, both in Dir/Plans; JCS 2343/956-f (TS),

15 Nov 66.

Memo (S), SECDEF to Chmn JCS, 17 Sep 66, subj: SEA Utitization of A/C,

in OSAF; transcript (U), SECDEF News Briefing, 22 Sep 66, in SAFOL

Memo (TS), Chief, PAC Div, Jt Staff to J-3, 17 Sep 66, . subj: Utilization

of A/C in SEA; in OSAF; JCSM-646-66 (TS), 6 Oct 66.

23. JCSM-645-66 (TS), 6 Oct 66; JCSM-646-66, 6 Oct 66.

Chapter V

l. Van Staaveren, 1966, ch V.













80 U}ICLASSIFITD Notes to Pages 58 - 66

CM-1906-66 (TS), 8 Nov 66; memo (TS), cravenstine to AFCHO, 22 Nov 6?.

Memo (TS), SAF to SECDEF, 10 Nov 66, no subj, w/atch Interirn Reply on

Air staff Action Items Resul.ting from SECDEF Trip to sEA, 10-14 oct 66,

in OSAF.

PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Nov 66, pp I-4; rprt (TS), An Eval of the

Effects of the Air Campaign on NVN and Laos, Nov 66, both in Dir/plans;

Van Staaveren, 1966, pp 63-66.

PACAF rprts (S), SEA Air Ops, Nov 66, pp t-9; Dec 66, pp l-8, both

in Dir/Plans.












Ibid.; Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS),

pp 98-99; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966,

18 Dec 66; N.Y. Tirnes, 16 Dec 66.

BaIt Sun, 14 Dec 66; N.Y. Times, lb Dec 66; 8""!:g$ 15 and i6 Dec 66.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), tb Jul 67, subj: R/T, .lut 65-Dec 66,

pp 99-I00.

Ibid.; N.Y. Times, 27 Dec 66.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 2b May 6?, subj: Air Interdiction in SEA,

1965-1966, p 68; PACAF rprt (S), SEA Air Ops, Nov 66, pp l-9; Dec 66,

pp l-8.

Ibid.; app I and Z; \tfJi*qg, 26, 27 Dec 66, and 3 Jan 6?.

CASFM-D-25-66 (TS), 23 Nov 66; memo (TS), Brig Gen E.A. McDonald,

Dep Dir of Plans for War Plans to Dir/plans, 16 Dec 66, subj: Combat

Beaver, both in Dir/Plans; Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-Dec 66, pp 2-3 and


Memo (TS), McDonald to Dir/plans, 23 Nov 66; Hist (S), Dir/Ops, Jul-

Dec 66, pp 2-3; Project CI{ECO SEA Rprt (TS), lb Jul 6?, subj: R/T,

JuI 65-Dec 66, pp 94-95.

Project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS), 2l JuI 6?, subj: Expansion of USAF Ops

in SEA, 1966, p I11; PACAF rprts (S), SEA Air Ops, Nov 66, p 22; and

Dec 66, p 25.

PACAF Chronology, Jul 65-Jun 66 (S), in AFCHO; PACAF rprts (S), SEA Air Ops, Nov 66, pp 1-9; Dec 66, pp l-8; project CHECO SEA Rprt (TS),

15 Jul 67, subj: R/T, .lut 6b-Dec 66, p lL8; USAF Mgt Surnmary (S), 6 Jan

67, p 70; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp b22-28; app t0 and D.

Ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 22 Nov 66, subj: SA-Threat Conf Rpt, in

Dir/Plans; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1g66, vol II, pp 516-19.

15 Jul 67, subj: R/t, .lut 65-Dec 66,

vol II, pp 504-05 and 512; BaIt Sun






Notes to Pages 66 - ?1 '-$[$fE[r

17. Ltr (TS), CINCPAC to JCS, 22 Nov 66; JCS 23431977 (TS), 16 Dec 66.

Memo (TS), Cof E. T. Burnett, Dep Chief, Tac Div, Dir/Ops to Asst

Dir of Plans for Jt and NSC Matters, 28 Nov 66, subj: Major Recommendations

of the SA-2 Conf, in Dir/Plans; JCS 23431977 (TS), 16 Dec

66; Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, p 519.

Van Staaveren, 1966, pp 7l-74.

Address (U), Gen McConnelL before Jt Activities Briefing, Hq USAF,

23 Nov 66, in SAFOI; Testimony of McConne1l on 9 May 66 before

Senate Investigating Preparedness Subcmte (U), p 29i Yan Staaveren,

1966, pp 7l-74.

Address (U), Gen McConnell before the Houston, Texas Forum, 29 Nov

66, in SAFOI.

Project CHECO SEA Rprts (TS), t Mar 67, subj: Control of Air Strikes

in SEA, pp 8I-99; and 23 Oct 67, subj: The War in VN, pp 44-45; memo

(TS), SAF to SECDEF, 3 Jun 67, subj: Possible Course of Action in

SEA; memo (TS), SAF to SECDEF, 9 Jun 67, no subj, both in Dir/Plans;

memo (TS), Echols to AFCHO, 27 Nov 67.

23. Hist (TS), CINCPAC, 1966, vol II, pp 510-12 and 606-07.

Address (U), Secy Brown before Aviation/Space Writers Assoc Mtg,

Wash D. C., 8 Dec 66, in SAFOI; Balt Sun, 9 Dec 66; rprt (U), Selected

Statements on VN by DOD and OIGIEIETn Officials, I Jan-30 Jun 6?,

p 33, in SAFOI.

Testimony of Secy McNamara on 20 Feb 67 before House Subcmtes of

the Cmte onAppns, 90th Cong, lst Sess, Supplemental Def Appns for 19-67.

p 21; Van Staaveren, 1966 pp 48-50.













U. S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in Southeast Asia



North Vietnam 44, b00 32, 9b5 8,694 ?99 8 I, 948 Laos 32, 11 b 9,044 B, 60 I O 44,760

South Vietnam ?0, 36? 21,729 S?, 61 0 32, 033 I 6 1,. ?89

TOTAL t46,982 63,729 44,905 32,832 299,447

SOURCE: Annual Supplement to Summary Air Ops, SEA, Cy 1966, prepared

by Dir/Tac Eval, Hqs PACAF, 23 Jan 6Z; Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops,



B-52 Sorties in Southeast Asia



North Vietnam 176 South Vietnam 4,LL2 Laos 647 4,93b

DMZ North 104 DMZ South l? 8 282

TOTAL 280 4,290 647 5,2t7

SOURCE: Strat Ops Div, J-3, JCS; Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF

, €E€RI*;



U. S. and VNAF Attack Sorties in North Vietnam



(by Month)


Jan *















2, 559




6, 170








1, 265



2, 568

3, 078


4, 683+


3, L47


2, 090





0 137

o 2,8L2

0 4,478

L44 5,447

103 4,465

266 ?,788

243 r0,199

2l ll, 832

6 I2,t60

4 8,642

8 7,260

4 6, 736

799 8 l, 956










* Bombing of North Vietnam resumed on 3l January 1966. + Reflects an increase from two to three aircraft camiers at ttyankee

Station" beginning in August 1g66.

SOURCE: Annual Supplement to Summary of Air Ops SEA, Cy 1966.

Prepared by Dir/Tac Eval, Hqs PACAF, 28 Jan 6?; Ops

Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.



U.S. Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia

Hostile Causes

196 5

North Vietnam Laos South Vietnam Total

































22 70 262










Operational Causes

1965 1966 Total










10t 130 23L

* Excludes helicopters. Includes losses due to enemy mortar attacks.

+ USN and USMC figures subject to variatj.ons contingent on bookkeeping


SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.



USAF Combat Attrition in North Vietnam


Sorties Losses


Type of Sorties +











Rate per

1,000 Sorties


5, 675


4, gg3
























r 6, 587

78, O20

Confirmed Probable

Losses Losses


Percent Effective

Confi.rrd Total

5.6 6.1

1.9 2.9


* Bombing of North Vietnam began on 7 February 196b. * Excludes E-52 strikes.

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.


U.S. Aircraft Losses to SA-2ts


1965 x














t8 t2 2.4 3.4

* The first SA-2 firings were sighted in JuIy 1965.

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.



SA-2 Sites in North Vietnam

J"go Sep Dec


115 t44 15 I

@e was detected in April t96b.

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.


19 66









Light and Medium Antiaircraft Artillery Guns in North Vietnam

Jan Feb * Jun Sep Dec




3, 092


l, 418


1, 643

4, I23




6, 398

* Bombing of North Vietnam began on 7 February 1g65.

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.



U. S. Aircraft Losses in Aerial Combat







I 5'

USMC Total



* Consisted of 2 F-105rs.

+ ConsisteC of 3 F-105's, t F-4C, I RC-4? and two 'rprobables", I F-4C

and I A-1.

++ Consisted of 3 F8ts and 1 KA3. No "probables. "

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Di.r/Ops, Hq USAF.


North Vietnamese Aircraft Losses in Aerial Combat

Destroyed by:









* No "probables" listed,

SOURCE: Ops Review Gp, Dir/Ops, Hq USAF.

MIG-I5's MIG-I7|s MIG-2I's Total'*













196 5



















Below is a list of AFCHO historical monographs dealing various

aspects of the conflict in Southeast Asia which may be obtained on loan or

for permanent retention. Copies may be obtained by calling Oxford 6-6565

or by forwarding a written request.

USAF Counterinsurgency Doctrines and Capabilities, 196I-1962.

USAF Special Air Warfare Doctrines anl-Capabilities. 1963. (S-Noforn)

USAF Plans and Policies in South Vietnam, 196l-1963. (TS-Noforn)

USAF Plans and Policies in South Vietnam and Laos, 1964.

USAF Plans and Operations in Southe?st Asiq. 1965. (TS-Noforn)

USAF Logistic Plans and Policieq in Southeast Asia. 1965.


USAF Logistic Plans and Policies in Soqtheast Asia. 1965. (TS-Noforn)

USAF Deployment Planning For Southeast Asia, 1966. (TS-Noforn)

In addition to the above monographs, there are a large number of

historical studies dealing with Vietnam operations prepared by Project

CHECO and by the various partici.pating and supporting commands, including

organizational histories down to the wing and squadron level.

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