NIE 63-5-54 POST-GENEVA OUTLOOK IN INDOCHINA

Created: 8/3/1954

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national intelligence estimate

post-geneva outlook in indochina

Submitted by the

director of central intelligence

The following Intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, ihe Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

Concurred in by the

intelligence advisory committee

oncurring mere the Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army; the Director of Naval Intelligence; the Director of Intelligence, VSAF; the Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff. The. Director of Intelligence, ASC, and ihe Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside

of their jurisdiction.

post-geneva outlook in indochina

the problem

To assess the probable outlook in Ihdc*hina in the light of the agreements reached at the Geneva conference.

conclusions

signing of the agreements athas accorded internationalto Communist military and political power in Indochina and has given thatefined geographic base.

We believe that the Communists will not give up their objective of securing control of all Indochina but will, without violating the armistice to the extent of launching an armed invasion to the south or west, pursue their objective by political, psychological, and paramilitary means.

We believe the Communists willcontrol over North Vietnam with little difficulty. Present indications are that the Viet Minh willoderate political program, which together with its strong military posture, will be calculated to make that regime appeal to thefeelings of the Vietnamesegenerally. It is possible, however, that the Viet Minh may find it desirable or necessary totrongly repressive domestic program which would diminish its appeal in South Vietnam. In any event, from its new territorial base, the Viet Minh will intensify Communistthroughout Indochina.

Although it is possible that the French and Vietnamese, even with firm support from the US and other powers, may be able totrong regime in South Vietnam, we believe that the chances for this development are poor and, moreover, that the situation is more likely toto deteriorate progressively over the next year. It is even possible that, at some time during the next two years, the South Vietnam Government could be taken over by elements that would seek unification with the North even at the expense of Communist domination. If the scheduled national elections are held innd if the Viet Minh does not prejudice its political prospects, the Viet Minh will almost certainly win.

The ability of the Laotian Government to retain control in Laos will depend upon developments in South Vietnam and upon the receipt of French military and other assistance. Even with such assistance, however, Laos will be facedrowing Communist threat which might result in the overthrow of the present government through subversion or elections, and in any case would be greatly intensified if all

Vietnam were to fall under Communist control.

e believe that if adequate outside assistance is made available, theGovernment will probablyits effectiveness and theof its internal security forces and will be able to suppress Communist guerrilla activity and to counter Communistactivity. The situation in Cambodia would probably deteriorate, however,onununist government should emerge in or South Vietnam.

DISCUSSION

THE CURRENT SITUATION General

signing of the agreements atended large-scale warfare inhas affirmed the Independence ofCambodia. It has, on the otherinternational recognition tomilitary and political power Inand has given that power abase. Finally,low to the prestige ofPowers and particularly of France.

North Vietnam

Viet Minh has emerged frominternational recogniUon andenhanced power and prestige inThe Vict Minh leaders, whilethat their ultimate objectivesbeen temporarily compromised "forofre acclaimingajor victory and ensuringreunification of all Vietnamaegis. Ho Chi-Minh isas the man whoears of French rule. Therogram to absorbareas In the Tonkin Delta.

South Vietnam

South Vietnam, the agreements andof the imposed partition haveatmosphere of frustratton andwhich has been compounded byuncertainty as to French and USThe present politicalto retain the passive support ofimportant nationalise organizations and Individuals. However, .me government'sweak administrative base has been further dislocated, and it-has only uncertain assurances of continued outside military and financial support. Mutual jealousiesackingle policy conUnue to dividepoliticians. Moreover, certain pro-French elements are seeking the overthrow ofgovernment with the apparent support of French colonial Interests anxious to retain their control.

The North Vietnam population isgreater than the South Vietnamand, in any event, the loss of the Tonkin Delta has deprived South Vietnam of the most energetic and nationalist segment of the population. Although South Vietnam has the capability for agricultural self-sufficiency, the principal industrial establishments and fuel and mineral resources are located In North Vietnam.

Provided that the terms of Uieagreement are observed, the combined French-Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam now have the capability of maintainingsecurity.

Laos

relatively stable Internal situationwhich tn the past has dependedsupport, remains essentiallyThe Laotian Army Is poorlytrained and, without the supportforces and advisers, does not haveto maintain internal"Pathet Lao" Communiststo have de facto control of two northern

provinces adjoining theareas of Northern VIotnam.the Geneva agreements give members of the "Pathet Lao" movement freedom of political action throughout Laos.

Cambodia

internal Cambodian situation,for sharp political rivalries amongCambodians, Is at present relativelydi&sldencc appears toand the principal dissident leader.Thanh, no longer poses any realthe government. The King retainspopular support for having obtaineddegree of effective IndependenceFrench and for having safeguardedintegrity at Oeneva. Althoughare permitted freedom ofaction In Cambodia, they have onlyappeal. The Cambodian forces,somewhat weakened by theof French forces, have thedealing with current Communistaction.

HJTLOOK IN INDOCHINA

General Considerations

The Oeneva agreements, although precise and detailed concerning the time and place of troop redeployments and related matters, are imprecise about matters pertaining to future military aid and training. Moreover, the agreements are vague with respect to political matters. Details on theof national elections are left for the interested parties to determine. Except for such influence as may be exerted by theof supervisory teams from India, Canada, and Poland, there Is no provision for forcing the parties concerned to Implement or adhere to the agreements.

The course of future developments will be determined less by the Oeneva agreements than by the relative capabilities and actions of Uie Communist and non-Communistin Indochina, and of interested outside powers.

Communist policy. Communistto reach agreement for an armistice in

Indochina,ime when prolongation of the conflict could haveteadilysituation in Indochina, was probably derived in substantial part from theestimate that: (a) an effort tootal military victory In Indochina mightUS military Intervention, and (b) the objective of gaining political control over all Indochina could be achievedesult of the armistice agreement. The Communists also apparently believed that an attitude ofand the acceptance of anIn Indochina would contribute to the realization of their objective to undermine western efforts to develop an effectivecoalition. They probably consider, therefore,eliberate resumption of large-scale military operations from their zone In the north would negate the political and psychological advantages the Communists have gained byettlement and could Involve grave risk of expanded war.

In the light of these considerations, we believe that the broad outlines of Communist policy in Indochina will be to: (a) refrain from deliberately taking major military action to break the armistice agreement whileto gain every advantage In theof the agreements; (b> consolidate the Communist political, military, and economic position in North Vietnam; (c> conductpolitical warfare againstIndochlnese governments and people; (d) work for the ultimate removal of all West-era influence, particularly French and DS, from Indochina; and (e> emphasize andissues in Indochina which will create and Intensify divisions amongcountries. In sum, we believe that the Communists will not give up their objective of securing control of all Indochina but will, without violating the armistice to the extent of launching an armed Invasion to the south or west, pursue their objective by political, psychological, and paramilitary means.

French policy. It is Impossible at this time to predict even the broad outlines of French policy In Indochina. The following appear to be the main alternatives:

of complete politicalto the Indochina states, accompaniedattempt to organize strong politicalin those states. Wc believe thatmight be persuaded to adoptby strong US-UK pressure,economic and militaryuarantee of the defense ofareas of Indochina against furthermilitary attack.

of French Union tiesnon-Communist Indochlnese states,French political controls anddomination We believe thatmay proceed along these lines ifestimateonciliatory policy Inthe non-Communist leadership willlittle difficulty;he US andnot exert pressurerant ofto the Indochlnese states.

form of agreement with theproviding for expediting electionsa unification of Vietnam.might be inclined to follow this lineViet Minh held out promises of theof French economic and culturaland of the continuance of someassociation of tlie unified VietnameseFrance.

of all French military,and economic support fromWe believe that this wouldIn the eventopeless deteriorationmilitary, and economic conditionsarea.

nterriational policies. The politicalof the Indochlnese states Is endangered not only by the threat of external Communist attack and internal Communist subversion, but also by their own inherent Inexperience, immaturity, and weakness. We believe that without outside support tlie Indochlnese states cannot become strong enough toCommunist pressures. The course of developments In Indochina will be largelyby the attitudes and policies of other powers. In general, we believe that In the absence of firm support from the US, the non-

Communist states of Indochina cannot long remain non-Communist. If they are given opportunity, guidance, and material help in building national states, they may be able to attain viability. We believe that the energy and resourcefulness necessary for thiswill not arise spontaneously among the non-Communist Indochlnese but will have to be sponsored and nurtured from without.

Outlook in Vietnam

Outlook In North Vietnam. Communist activities In North Vietnam will beupon consolidation of Communistwith their efforts in this respect probably appearing moderate at the outset. The Viet Minh will probably emphasize social andreforms and the participation of all political, economic, and religious groups in state activity. At the same time. Viet Minh cadres will establish themselves throughout the Delta, will begin the process ofall effective opposition groups, willthe usual Communist program of popular indoctrination, and will prepare for thescheduled ine believe the Communists will be able to achieve theof North Vietnam with little

We believe that the Viet Minh willto develop their armed forces. Although the armistice provisions forbid the Viet Minh from increasing their supply of arms, wethey win covertly strengthen andexpand their armed forces with Chinese Communist aid. Viet Minh forces will almost certainly continue to receive training in China.

Thus established firmly in North Vietnam, the Viet Minh regime will probably retain and may increase its symbolic attraction as the base of Vietnamese national independence. Its methods of consolidating control willcontinue for some time to be moderate, and. Its Internal program together with its military power, will be calculated to make the regime attractive to the remaining peoples of Indochina, It is possible, however, that the Viet Minh may find it desirable or necessary

totrongly repressive domesticwhich would prejudice its psychological appeal and political prospects. barring such repressive viet minh policies, the unification issue will continue to be exploited toadvantage throughout vietnam. meanwhile, the viet minh regime willto strengthen the communistapparatus in south vietnam, laos, and cambodia, aware that significantgains in any one of these countries will strengthen the communist movement in the others. it will seek to develop strong overt communist political groups where possible and will generally use all available meansthe eventual unification of the country under communist control.

Outlook in South Vietnam. we believe that the viet minh will seek to retain sizeable military and political assets in south vietnam. although the agreements provide for theto the north of all vict minh forces, many of the regular and irregular viet minh soldiers now in the south are natives of the area, and large numbers of them will probably cache their arms and remain in southin addition, viet minh administrative cadres have been in firm control of several large areas tn central and south vietnam for several years. these cadres will probablyin place. french and vietnamese efforts to deal with "stay-behind" military andunits and personnel will behampered by armistice provisionsthe security of pre-armistice dissidents from reprisals.

the severe problem of establishing and maintaining security in south vietnam will probably be increased by certain provisions of the oeneva agreements which prohibit the import of arms and military equipment,as replacements, and the introduction of additional foreign military personnel, the establishment of new military bases, andalliances. these provisions limitietnamese national army to such numbers as may be equipped by stocks evacuated from tonkin, plus stocks now held in saigon. however, in the last analysis,

vietnamese security will be determined by the degree of french protection and assistance in the developmentational army, thewith which the vietnamese themselves attack the problem, and by the will of the non-communist powers to provide south vietnam with effective guarantees.

in addition to the activities of stay-behind military and administrative groups, the viet minh willajor effort to discredit any south vietnam administration, and to exacerbate french-vietnamese relations, and appeal to the feeling for national unification which will almost certainly continue strong among the south vietnamese population. the commurust goal will be to cause the collapse of any non-communist efforts to stabilize the situation in south vietnam, and thus to leave north vietnam the only visible foundation on which to re-establish vietnamese unity, french and anti-communist vietnamese efforts to counter the viet minh unity appeal and communist subversive activities will be complicated at the outset by the strongof vietnamese nationalists over the partitioning of vietnam and the abandoning of tonkin to communist control. it may be difficult to convince many vietnamese troops, political leaders, and administrative personnel in tonkin to go south, let alone to assistin the development of an effectivein south vietnam.

developments in south vietnam will also depend in large part on french courses of action. prospects for stability in southwould be considerably enhanced if the french acted swiftly to insure vietnam full independence and to encouragef this were done, anti-french nationalist activity might be lessoned. with french military and economic assistancebacked by us aidthe vietnamese couldto develop gradually an effective security force, local government organization,ong-range program for economic and social reform. nevertheless, it will be very difficult for the french to furnish the degree ofwhich will be required without at the same time reviving anti-french feeling to the point of endangering the whole effort.

On the basis of the eviclence we have at this early date, however, we believeavorable development of the situation In South Vietnam Is unlikely. Unless Mendes-France is able to overcome the force of French traditional Interests and emotions which have in the past governed the Implementation of policy in Indochina, we do not believe there will be the dramatic transformation in French policy necessary to win the active loyalty and support of the local populationouth Vietnam Government. At the present time, it appears more likely that the situation will deteriorate in South Vietnam and that the withdrawal from Tonkin will involvedistrust, and possibly violence. There will be delays in the development of effective administration In the south; the French military will probably be forced toa large measure of control for reasons ofnd efforts by French colonial interests touppet Cochin-China state will persist. It Is even possible that at some point during the next two years the South Vietnam Government could be taken over by elements that would seek unification with the Viet Minh In the North even at the expense of Communist domination. Eventable government could be established, wc estimate that the national electionsfor6 would almost certainly give the Viet Minh control of South Vietnam.

In the interim, Viet Minh propaganda will find ample opportunities to Influenceattitudes.ear, Viet Minh stay-behind units will probably be activeand possibly involved in open guerrilla fighting. In these circumstances, the French will probably be able to maintain theirIn South Vietnam throughut their Influence will probably becomerestricted to major cities and the perimeters of military installations and bases. The French might be willing to resolve this situation by an arrangement with thewhich seemed tohance of saving some remnant of the French economic and cultural position in Vietnam. Such an arrangement might Include an agreement to hold early elections, even with the virtualof Viet Minh victory. Only If such an arrangement proved impossible, and thedeteriorated to the point ofwould the French withdraw completely from the country.

Outlook in Loos

Providing the French maintainroops in Laos which the Geneva agreements permit them, and continue lo develop the Laotian forces, the Royal Laotian Government should be able to Improve Its sccurily forces and, excluding the two northern provinces, to deal with Isolated, small-scale Communist guerrilla actions. Also, providing thecontinue to receive French and USand financial assistance, they probably will be able to maintain an adequateadministration. There is nothing in the Oencva agreements to prevent Laos fromemberefense arrangement so long as no foreign troops other lhanFrench personnel are based in Laos.

However, if the French for any reasonnot to maintain their troops nor tomilitary training in Laos, It will befor the non-Communist powers to provide effective aid to the Laotians without breaching lhe Geneva agreement. At the same lime, Laos will be facedrowing Communist threat, and the freedom ofaction permitted members of the Pathet Lao movement, strengthened by support from the Vict Minh, may result in the overthrow of the present government throughor elections. Finally, further successes for the Vict Minh in Vietnam will have an immediate adverse effect on the situation in Laos.

Outlook in Cambodia

We believe that the Communists, inorganized units from Cambodia, will leave behind organizers, guerrilla leaders, and weapons. Initially, the Communists will probably minimize guerrilla action in order lo concentrate on building their politicalin Cambodia.

Providing the withdrawal of thois substantially in accord with the

ment, the development of stability induring the next year or so will depend largely on two interrelated factors: (a) the ability of the Cambodians to develop effective government and internal security forces; and (b) the ability of the Cambodians to obtain external technical and financial assistance. There Is no prohibition in the Genevaagainst Cambodia's obtaining outside assistance to develop its defense forces or onefensive alliance, providing theIs In consonance with the UN Charter and that no foreign troops are based In Cambodia in the absencehreat to CambodianIf adequate outside assistance is made available, the Cambodians will probably Increase the effectiveness both of theirand their internal security forces, and will be able to suppress Communistactivity and to counter Communistactivity. The efforts of the Cambodians to strengthen their position would probably be more energetic if their independence were guaranteed by some regional defenseThe situation in Cambodia wouldgravely, however,ommunist government should emerge in Laos or South Vietnam.

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