Sunday, April 30, 1972

Wanted to Give Talks a Chance

Nixon Refused to Hit DMZ Buildup

WASHINGTON (AP) --For weeks before the North Vietnamese launched their invasion, the White House rejected repeated requests from U.S. military leaders for permission to bomb an enemy buildup just above the demilitarized zone.

Nixon administration officials explained the bombing recommendations were turned down because the White House wanted to make sure negotiations still had chance.

These officials also acknowledged that the invasion might have been delayed if U.S. plans had been allowed to strike during March at what they described as an enormous number of surface-to-air missiles, large amounts of supplies and significant concentrations of enemy troops near the DMZ.

The officials gave this account of White House thinking and decisions when asked what President Nixon meant Wednesday night in saying "We deliberately refrained from responding militarily" to indications that the North Vietnamese were building for a major attack.

Pentagon sources said the Joint Chiefs of Staff began pressing for bombing counter-measures last fall when U.S. reconnaissance planes noticed the North Vietnamese were bringing artillery close to the DMZ and pushing construction of roads southward through the zone.

When the invasion finally was launched in late March, North Vietnamese tanks and artillery rolled over four such roads into South Vietnam.

A stream of bombing recommendations also came in during the pre-invasion months from Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, U.S. commander in Vietnam, and from Adm. John S. McCain Jr., U.S. commander in the Pacific area, the sources said.

Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird was said to have forwarded some of these bombing recommendations to the White House with his endorsement, while he rejected others.

"Nixon Refused to Hit DMZ Buildup", by WASHINGTON (UPI), published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Sunday, April 30, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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