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ESTIMATED NORTH VIETNAMESE LOSSES

OPERATION IN LAOS: LAMSON 719

Vietnamese has been just about as heavy as they could possibly lay on. vicinity of the road, and the airborne division and the rangers are shown in yellow. Note where they formed a blocking position against the forces that were brought down from North Vietnam.

I should point out that the 304th, the 308th, and the 320th North Vietnamese Divisions were brought into this area before and during the Khe Sanh fighting. These three divisions normally are part of the key defense of North Vietnam. They were deployed down into this

area (indicating) and they have been rather heavily mauled.

Chairman ELLENDER. Do you want this presentation off the record!
Secretary LAIRD. No, it will be on the record.
Admiral MOORER. Anyway you would like it

.

I think it is significant to note that the North Vietnamese had not

concentrated their forces before this operation and they had not made Secretary LAIRD. This will be on the classified record, and we will

such massive attacks on defensive points since the Tet operation in release as much of it as we can, of course.

1968. As a result of their massing, they have suffered a continually Chairman ELLENDER. Admiral, you may proceed.

high loss rate. Today it is estimated that they have lost over 13,000.

General Abrams estimates they have lost the equivalent of about one-third of the maneuver battalions that they had in there. Further

estimates indicate as many as half of the enemy maneuver battalions Admiral MOORER. Mr. Chairman, as you know, sir, there are two

involved are now considered ineffective. operations taking place today associated with the overall effort to

Chairman ELLENDER. Killed! disrupt the supplies and disrupt the overall capabilities of the North

press

has con Vietnamese. Now, most of what you have seen in the

OPERATION PHASES cerned the operation in Laos, what we call Lamson 719. This operi tion, started 6 weeks ago on February 8, was designed primarily to

Admiral MOORER. The number killed runs in the same proportion

to that which I have just given. disrupt the flow of supplies through this area (indicating). This is the "key" portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

As you know, sir, the operation was divided into three phases from the very outset last fall, when they began their planning. The first phase was to maneuver into the area, the next phase was to search

and the third phase was to move back into South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese are now conducting the third phase. It was recognized at the outset that a withdrawal when in contact with the enemy, would be a difficult military operation; it was also recognized by the South Vietnamese that the fighting was going to have to be in close quarters and very severe. Still they were prepared to stand in there and accept the anticipated losses. DISRUPTION OF NORTH VIETNAM AREA OPERATIONS

CONCENTRATION OBJECTIVE The overall objective was, of course, to disrupt the supply operation in here (indicating] and to force the North Vietnamese to concentrate their troops. Generally speaking, the operation in terms of the estimates has worked out as anticipated. The reaction of the North

SOUTH VIETNAM AND NORTH VIETNAM DEPLOYMENTS During the past week, in particular, we have had the most intense fighting. These colors that I'show here, noting that this is the LaosSouth Vietnamese border, indicate generally how the South Vietnamese have positioned their forces. The dark blue are the marines, the green is the 1st Division, the armored cavalry (in orange) was in the

the

area,

INTERDICTION OF FLOW OF SUPPLIES The operation was part and parcel of an overall effort since the beginning of the dry season to interdict the flow of VC and NTA supplies coming into South Vietnam from the three passes up in the North (indicating] down into Laos, where they feed into various routes going to South Vietnam.

The operation did proceed as far west as Tchepone. The tactics of the operation required the establishment of landing zones and fire support bases on both sides of Highway 9 (indicating), which runs all

the way down from Danang to Thailand. From these landing zones and fire support bases

, the South Vietnamese were able to spread out, sweep the area, disrupt the NVA supply lines, and destroy those supplies which they were able to find

.

AND

ENFORCEMENT

OF

NORTH VIETNAM VIOLENT REACTION: TROOP AND EQUIPMENT INCREASES

At the beginning of the operation the North Vietnamese had 13,00 combat troops plus a very large number of support forces; namely, those that actually transport materials down through this area.

When the operations was initiated, the North Vietnamese reacted violently. They put in a total of 11 regiments, about 33 battalions they brought in some artillery and used tanks quite extensively for the first time. As a matter of fact, they have a total, I believe

, of about [deleted] tanks and they brought over 100 into this general area, despite the fact that it is quite hilly.

B-52 TACTICAL AIRCRAFT AND HELIGUNSHIPS ATTACK ON CONCENTRATIONS

It is quite mountainous and it is most difficult to maneuver tanks there in the accepted sense. Since February 8, then, we have seen s concentration of North Vietnamese troops in the area, and therefore the South Vietnamese have been able to use the concept of forcing the North Vietnamese to mass and then calling in air, B-52's

, tactica air, and heligunships, to work on these concentrations of North Vietnamese.

NORTH VIETNAM DIVERSION OF SUPPLIES AND AMMUNITION EXPENDITURE

I think another factor that must be borne in mind is that the North Vietnamese have been forced to divert their supply effort-which had been aimed at a throughput—to supplying the very large number of forces that they have committed in this area. So most of their logistics effort, then, was focused on stopping this operation and the expenditure of ammunition on the part of the North Vietnamese has been intense. [Deleted.]

SOUTH VIETNAM CAPTURE OF FOOD AND EQUIPMENT

Incidentally, almost 3 million pounds of food, mostly rice, has been captured or destroyed by the South Vietnamese in this general area. In addition to that, more than 4,700 rifles, and individual weapons-and well over 1,000 of what we call crew-served weapons—mortars and machine guns—have been captured. Over 200,000 gallons of NVA POL have been lost.

This pipeline which I have drawn in here has been disrupted in several places. Thus, a very large amount of the logistic capability of the North Vietnamese has been absorbed in this operation.

PRESENT SITUATION

Today the situation is as follows:

South VIETNAM CASUALTIES AND NONDISRUPTION OF TACTICAL INTEGRITY

The South Vietnamese have 11 maneuver battalions in Laos, plus some armored cavalry units and some engineer units along with them. They have been making an orderly movement to the East, although they have been in some very intense battles. For instance, the marines reported, during a 72-hour action just completed, over 1,000 enemy killed. In no case has the South Vietnamese tactical integrity beei disrupted.

It is true there have been isolated incidents with platoons or com panies where they have not fought as well as we would have hoped General Abrams, with whom I spoke on the telephone last night, is wel satisfied with the way they fought on an overall basis.

This was the first time the South Vietnamese have been on their owi without American advisers. They had to make all the decisions. They had to call for all their support. They had to arrange for their logis tics and they have done it all very well.

We feel that the overall effect of this operation is going to be ? definite plus.

CONTINUED FIGHTING: BASE AREA 611

It is not over yet. There is still some further activity in this area [indicating] in what we call base area 611, one of the key points fron which the North Vietnamese mount their effort into South Vietnam Although it is not over yet, I think it is very imporant to point ou to you, sir, how the situation has already changed overall.

started that we did not expect the South Vietnamese to win every

drawal program.

divisions I mentioned—the 304th, 308th, and 320th-have been very Secretary Laird and I have said many times when this operation

NORTH VIETNAM FIGHTING ACTIVITIES NORTH VIETNAM DIVERSION OF SUPPLIES AND AMMUNITION EXPENDITTRE

Today the North Vietnamese are fighting in five places. They are I think another factor that must be borne in mind is that the North

fighting here in Southern Laos, they are fighting here in Northern Vietnamese have been forced to divert their supply effort—which had

Laos

, they are fighting here in Cambodia west of the Mekong; they been aimed at a throughput-to supplying the very large number of

are fighting heavily against the South Vietnamese in what we call the forces that they have committed in this area. So most of their logistis

Chup Plantation area, and they are continuing to conduct guerrillaeffort, then, was focused on stopping this operation and the expendi

type warfare inside South Vietnam. ture of ammunition on the part of the North Vietnamese has been in

The point is obvious that they are spread very thin on a wide front, tense. (Deleted.]

and this will cause a degrading of their overall capability, particular

ly in the logistics field. We are confident the current operation Lamson SOUTH VIETNAM CAPTURE OF FOOD AND EQUIPMENT

719 will have a very serious impact on their capability in the future

to mount “main force operations," and, hence, we expect the overall Incidentally, almost 3 million pounds of food, mostly rice, has been

impact of the operation to facilitate Vietnamization and our withcaptured or destroyed by the South Vietnamese in this general area. In addition to that, more than 4.700 rifles, and-individual weapons—and

I think when you read accounts of this operation, it is quite easy well over 1,000 of what we call crew-served weapons—mortars and

to see how people would be quite disturbed,

because no one has shown a

TV picture of an interview with a North Vietnamese, as to how they machine guns have been captured. Over 200,000 gallons of NTA POL have been lost.

are making out. In other words, the other side of the picture doesn't

get into focus at all. This pipeline which I have drawn in here has been disrupted in

But I assure you that they are taking some very severe punishment, several places. Thus, a very large amount of the logistic capability of

if not the most severe punishment they have taken since this war the North Vietnamese has been absorbed in this operation.

started. For the first time they have chosen to concentrate at a level which we have not observed before.

ANTICIPATED SOUTH VIETNAM TACTICS Today the situation is as follows:

We have laid on very heavy air attacks—B-52's, tactical air, and the heligunship variety. Whenever a target shows itself in this general area, it gets hit. I think what will happen is that the South Vietnamese will continue to consolidate their position in here (indicating], on both

As you know, we are using Khesanh, which is right here [indicating] as the prime logistics base to support these operations. We have blocking positions up in here to stop any move from the north west. I think

Chairman ELLENDER. Those are mostly Americans, aren't they? Admiral Moorer. The green shows the South Vietnamese and the I think there is another point that should be made here. That is that we have some evidence that the North Vietnamese were preparing a large-scale move into Military Region I, and now it is doubtful that they will be able to conduct such operations on a large scale

, as a result of what has happened here. Also, I think it is significant that their very key units, those three severely damaged. The fighting is not over. There is going to be more fighting. But the South Vietnamese are staying in there.

OPERATION EVALUATION

PRESENT SITUATION

sides of the border.

there is another

SOUTH VIETNAM CASUALTIES AND NONDISRUPTION OF TACTICAL INTEGRITY

The South Vietnamese have 11 maneuver battalions in Laos, plus some armored cavalry units and some engineer units along with them. They have been making an orderly movement to the East

, although they have been in some very intense battles. For instance, the marines reported, during a 72-hour action just completed, over 1,000 enemy killed. In no case has the South Vietnamese tactical integrity been disrupted.

It is true there have been isolated incidents with platoons or com: panies where they have not fought as well as we would have hoped General Abrams, with whom I spoke on the telephone last night, is well satisfied with the way they fought on an overall basis

. This was the first time the South Vietnamese have been on their own without American advisers. They had to make all the decisions

. Ther! had to call for all their support. They had to arrange for their logistics and they have done it all very well

. We feel that the overall effect of this operation is going to be a definite plus.

CONTINUED FIGHTING: BASE AREA 611

blue are Americans.

It is not over yet. There is still some further activity in this area [indicating) in what we call base area 611, one of the key points from which the North Vietnamese mount their effort into South Vietnam. Although it is not over yet, I think it is very imporant to point out to you, sir, how the situation has already changed overall

.

battle. This is especially true in view of the fact that this is their first time. One just doesn't win every battle anyway. But I think you must measure the operation in terms of its overall impact on the situation in Southeast Asia, not by the result of some isolated tactical event which might attract your attention at the moment.

Looking at it in that context, we feel it is going to have a significant beneficial impact, although it will take some time to really analyze what has happened, just as the Cambodia operation last May and June. Yet there is no question about the fact that the North Vietnamese have been hurt heavily. At the same time you can't expect the South Vietnamese to get into a fight of this tempo and not have some major losses and some difficulties themselves.

SOUTH VIETNAM TROOPS AND LOSSES : B-52 AND TACTICAL AIR STRIKES

Chairman ELLENDER. How many were engaged on both sides in the area?

Admiral MOORER. The South Vietnamese actually put into the area about 17,000, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ELLENDER. How many North Vietnamese were engaged?

Admiral MOORER. The North Vietnamese put in about 30,000 and they lost over a third. That is the estimate. I should go on to say that there have been some 375, what we call B-52 boxes; that is, areas where the B-52's have conducted strikes. And we have only had troops in about 67 or 70 of them. In other words, we haven't been able to, on the ground, assess the result of these strikes.

You have somewhere between 250 and 300 B-52 strikes that have been put down in this general area where we know they have been damaged; but we don't know how much because we haven't been in there. The same thing goes for some of the tactical air. I should point out also that as a result of the interdiction that we have been conducting on this entire area since October 1, it is estimated that the North Vietnamese have lost about 8,000 trucks. Some of these trucks about half of them, are empty, going north, and half of them are going south.

SOUTH VIETNAM TROOPS AND LOSSES

Chairman ELLENDER. What were the losses on the South Vietnamese side?

Admiral MOORER. I was about to tell you about that, sir. They hac 17,000 troops in there, about 30 maneuver battalions.

So far they are reporting somewhere between [deleted] losses. In fact, they just went over the [deleted] mark a couple of days ago. I am sure that there will be more losses. There will be people die who were wounded and things of that kind. But our figures on the South Viet namese are that, just a little over [deleted] they reported so far.

FIRE SUPPORT BASE 30 BATTALION SERVICE: LOSSES AND DAMAGE INFLICTION

If you will recall, some time ago there was quite a bit written is the press about fire support base 30. The battalion at that base did suf fer heavy casualties, but at the same time it inflicted over 600 casualtie on the enemy. We have photographs of the losses taken by aircraft

telligence sources, the North Vietnamese have lost around 600,000.

Senator Young. No; altogether, the North Vietnamese have lost

to be careful. Yet I would estimate that the number is fairly accurate. higher than that. Of course, when dealing in figures like that, you have but that is their own acknowledgement. I think the evidence indicates

Secretary LAIRD. They have acknowledged about 500,000 themselves, that it is somewhat higher than their acknowledged casualty rate. Chairman ELLENDER. Does that include prisoners also?

Secretary LAIRD. No; that is killed in action.

13

battle. This is especially true in view of the fact that this is their first time. One just doesn't win every battle anyway. But I think you must measure the operation in terms of its overall impact on the situation in Southeast Asia, not by the result of some isolated tactical event which might attract your attention at the moment.

Looking at it in that context, we feel it is going to have a significant beneficial impact, although it will take some time to really analyze what has happened, just as the Cambodia operation last May and June. Yet there is no question about the fact that the North Vietnamese have been hurt heavily. At the same time you can't expect the South Vietnamese to get into a fight of this tempo and not have some major losses and some difficulties themselves.

The battalion at base 30 was lifted out, refitted, resupplied with personnel and material, but it went back in again and continued to fight. I think that is an example of the fact that the South Vietnamese do have the incentive and the morale necessary for them to conduct fighting of this scope even though there have been isolated cases where, as I said, the performance hasn't been as good as it may have been.

SOUTH VIETNAM TROOPS AND Losses: B-52 AND TACTICAL AIR STRIKES

FOURTH BATTALION, 1st DIVISION, SERVICE: Losses, CAPTURES, AND DAMAGE

INFLICTION Down in this very hot area right here [indicating], one battalion, the 4th Battalion of the 1st Division, was continuously engaged for about 3 days. They were the battalion farthest deployed to the west. This battalion suffered heavy casualties,

but they reported 1,200 North Vietnamese killed.

As some indication of the activity, they captured several hundred rifles

. That is one indicator of the validity of enemy killed in action, that is, the number of the enemy's personal weapons that they manage There is still heavy fighting going on, and it will continue, I think, for a few more days, at least, in this particular area and perhaps even longer in other areas. On balance, we feel it has been a beneficial operation and this will be clearly shown in the months ahead. Chairman ELLENDER. Senator Young.

to retrieve.

Chairman ELLENDER. How many were engaged on both sides in the area?

Admiral MOORER. The South Vietnamese actually put into the area about 17,000, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ELLENDER. How many North Vietnamese were engaged

Admiral MOORER. The North Vietnamese put in about 30,000 and they lost over a third. That is the estimate. I should go on to say that there have been some 375, what we call B-52 boxes; that is

, areas where the B-52's have conducted strikes. And we have only had troops in about 67 or 70 of them. In other words, we haven't been able to on the ground, assess the result of these strikes.

You have somewhere between 250 and 300 B-52 strikes that have been put down in this general area where we know they have been damaged; but we don't know how much because we haven't been in there. The same thing goes for some of the tactical air. I should point out also that as a result of the interdiction that we have been conducting on this entire area since October 1, it is estimated that the North Vietnamese have lost about 8.000 trucks. Some of these trucks about half of them, are empty, going north, and half of them are going south.

SOUTH VIETNAM TROOPS AND LOSSES

LAST NORTH VIETNAM MAJOR OFFENSIVE AGAINST SOUTH VEITNAM: TET

OFFENSIVE

Senator Young. I recall during the Tet offensive the press had me pretty well convinced that we were taking a bad beating. But since then the North Vietnamese haven't launched a major offensive on the South Vietnamese. Is that true?

Admiral Moorer. That is correct, Senator. The North Vietnamese never publish their losses. As a matter of fact, this is one of the peculiar aspects of this war. (Deleted.]

TOTAL NORTH VIETNAM CASUALTIES

Senator Young. According to the informatiton I get from some in-
That would be equivalent to about 6 million in losses to us. Is that
estimate somewhere near correct?
Admiral Moorer. Since they have been fighting!

around 600,000.

Admiral MOORER. Yes, sir; I have read numbers that are even

Chairman ELLENDER. What were the losses on the South Vietnamese side?

Admiral MOORER. I was about to tell you about that, sir. They had 17,000 troops in there, about 30 maneuver battalions.

So far they are reporting somewhere between [deleted] losses. In fact, they just went over the [deleted] mark a couple of days ago.

I am sure that there will be more losses. There will be people die who were wounded and things of that kind. But our figures on the South Vietnamese are that, just a little over [deleted] they reported so far.

FIRE SUPPORT BASE 30 BATTALION SERVICE: LOSSES AND DAMAGE INFLICTION

If you will recall, some time ago there was quite a bit written in the press about fire support base 30. The battalion at that

base did suffer heavy casualties, but at the same time it inflicted over 600 casualties on the enemy. We have photographs of the losses taken by aircraft.

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