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COMMANDO CLUB: Ground-directed missions from Lima Site 85 in northeastern Laos 

The Castle Memo as described in "One Day Too Long", Chapter 16, "Hanoi"

Lima Site 85 (CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence Report)

"One Day Too Long: Top Secret Site 85 and the Bombing of North Vietnam", Timothy N. Castle, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-10316-6

 

Project HEAVY GREEN, COMMANDO CLUB, and Lima Site 85; or: How to hang the troops out to dry, then use your rank, "national security", duplicitous involvement with communist Vietnam, and wrapping yourself in the flag to cover your ass while screwing the survivors and their families, and the families of those who never returned.

The TSQ-81 site was put in at Phou Pha Thi near the existing Lima Site 85, ostensibly to conduct all-weather bombing against high value targets in North Vietnam. However, having strike aircraft fly straight and level while squawking IFF for extended periods of time in the extremely high threat area around Hanoi proved to be one of the dumber ideas that USAF leadership came up with (see documentation of exchanges between Colonel John C. Giraudo and General Momyer, pp 53-54, "One Day Too Long"). Argument can - and has - been made that the quality of the targets justified the risk, but as we see...

...in its short existence, the site made relatively few strikes in North Vietnam. As the North Vietnamese became aware of the presence of the site - and it didn't take them long - they moved upwards of five battalions of regulars, plus local Lao communist troops, against the site. It then developed that the site essentially became bait, with most of the strikes run by the site being delivered in Laos against the hostiles moving into position to take out Lima Site 85.

Dr. Castle's book, based on extensive interviews with participants, review of documentation from both sides, and actual visits to the site, is an excellent work, a first rate academic study, absolutely necessary to understanding anything at all about what went on in this sordid affair.

"...From the beginning of the Heavy Green program until the present, there is an unseemly pattern of U.S. government duplicity. It is understating the obvious to say this is a case where the American public has not been well served by its government. The ultimate betrayal, of course, is the long-term and continuing breach of trust between the government and the families of Americans who proudly left home intent on helping to end a terrible war from a faraway Lao mountaintop. Perhaps an understanding of this ugly chapter of U.S. history will encourage greater accountability and responsibility from those who are involved in sending our most precious resource into harm's way."

             -Timothy N. Castle, PhD; "One Day Too Long", Chapter 17, "Conclusions"

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