COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO CERTAIN U.S. COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT TO INDOCHINA

Created: 6/15/1954

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UNE4

SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE SNIE

REACTIONS TO CERTAIN US COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT TO INDOCHINA

Submitted by the

DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL LNTELLIGRNCE The following Intelligence organization} participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments af State, the Army, the Navy, the Air force, and The Joint Staff. Concurred in by the INTELLIGENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE on ISoncurring were the Special Assistant. In. telttgence. Department of State; the Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army; the Director of Navalthe Director of Intelligence, USAF; the Deputyfor Intelligence. The Joint Staff; the Director ofA EC, The Assistant to the Director. Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of the

jurisdiction of the FBI.

ACTH iO-2

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DISSEMINATION NOTICE

his esUmate was disseminated by the Central Intelligence Agency. This copy is for the information and use of the recipient Indicated on the front cover and ofunder his Jurisdictioneed to know basis. Additional essential dissemination may be authorized by the following officials within their respective departments:

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Slate

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SPEC1AI. LIMITED DISTRIBUTION

LIMITED DISTRIBUTION

COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO CERTAIN US COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT TO INDOCHINA

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to the courses of action and consequent situations indicated below.1

THE ESTIMATE

SSUMPTIONS

A The treaties of independence between Prance and the Associated States will have been signed.

regional security grouping including at least the Associated States,the Philippines, Australia, France, and the United States, and possiblyNew Zealand and thc United Kingdom, will have been formed.

Associated States will have publicly requested the direct militaryof members of the regional grouping in the war in Indochina.

French will have undertaken to continue at least the present levelmilitary commitment in

1

To estimate the initial Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to Vie participation of US air and naval forces with French Union forces and token Thai and Philippine forces tn coordinated ground, naval, and air opera' tions designed to destroy the Communlit mUi-

assumptions and estimaUve require menuherein ecre furnished to the IntelUfence community (or the purposes of this esUmate We Interpret the hypothetical acUon aswithin Uie next twelve to eighteen months

tary forces in Indochina. Air operations would be iimifed to targets in Indochina. Nuclear weapons would be employed if thetr use were deemed militarily advantageous but nuclear attacks on the Indochlnesearget system would be avoided.

Chinese Communist Reaction

he Intervention of US and silled forces In Indochina probably would cause thcCommunists to believe that sooner or later they would have to decide whether to

accept the defeat of the Viet Minh or toIn force In order to try to prevent such defeat Their decision would probably rest mainly, though not exclusively, upon their weighing of the risks and disadvantagesfrom the Viet Minh defeat against the likelihood of Involvement ln major war with the US and the probable consequences ofar for Communist China Availablegives no unmistakeable indication of what the Chinese Communist decision wouldbe. On balance, however, we believe that the chances are somewhat better than even that the Chinese Communist would decide to take whatever military action they thoughtto prevent destruction of the Viet Minh, Including when and if necessary, open use of Chinese Communist forces ln Indochina.11

The nature of the assumed US action Is such that ample warning would almostbe given In advance of actualThe Chinese Communists have the capability now to intervene quickly and in such force as to drive French Union forces out of the Delta The Chineseight choose to exercise this capability before US intervention could be effected,

We believe it somewhat more likely,ver, that even if the Chinese Communists had determined not to accept the defeat of the Viet Mlnh they would not Interveneimmediately following the assumed US They might estimate that US air

'The Deputy Director for Intelligence. The Joint Stan, recommends deleUon of toe last sentence of this paragraph and would substitute the;

"However, their decision would be largelyby thc Chinese esUmate of the probable extent and effect of US InJUalThe Director ot IntelUgence. USAF. believes that the last sentence of this paragraph should read aa follows:

"Communist China will probably not choose knowingly any course of acUon likely lo expose Its fundamental national strengths In warajor power. However, we believe thatChina's strength for conducUng various kinds of warfare is swch.and tbe moUvea and Judgment ot its leaders are such as to make Communist China's courses of acUon dangerously unpredictable under outside pressure of anymagnitude."

and naval forces could not, in the absence of US ground forces, decisively alter tbef tbe war. They might therefore consider their Intervention unnecessary at this point and might postpone final decision as to their course of action until they had observed the Initial scale and success of the allied military operations and had estimated the probable nature and extent of US alms In the conflict.

this connection, US use otin Indochina would tend toultimate Chinese Communist decisionor not to Intervene. It wouldconvince the Chinese Communists oftoecisivein Indochina at whatever risk andmeans, and of the consequentof nuclear attack on Communistthis conviction would precipitateChinese Communist interventionon the military situation in Indochina

at the time, the observed military effect of the use of nuclear weapons, and thc observed political and psychological effect of such use, particularly its effect on the coherence of the regional security grouping and the Atlantic alliance.

In any case, the Chinese Communists would almost certainly greatly increase their logistic support, delivery of arms andand technical assistance to the Viet Mlnh. The Chinese Communists wouldincrease their deliveries of AA weapons and might send In Chinese AA gun crews. Moreover, the Chinese Communists would probably deploy ground and air units near thc Indochina border In order: (a) to warn the US and its allies, and (b> to have forces ready either to intervene on behalf of the Viet Minh or to defend the southern border of China.

Whileosture of military readiness, the Chinese Communists wouldpolitical and propaganda activitiesto exploit anti-Western and anticolo-nlal feelings of the indigenous population of Indochina and the war-fears of neutralist Asian nations and of certain US allies. They would also seek to label the US as an In the meantime and throughout the

period of military operations, thewould almost certainly agitatecease-fire" and politicalwhich would preserve the Communist position and prospects.

Soviet Reaction

n the assumed situation, the USSRwould estimate that the US action, though limited to air and naval forces, would considerably Increase tho risks of unlimited war between the US and Communist China. Thc USSR would probably prefer thatar not develop out of the IndochinaNevertheless, thc USSR would assure Communist China of continuing military^ assistance. The USSR would also givediplomatic and propaganda support to Communist China and the Viet Minh regime.

REQUIREMENT 2

stimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to the success of the operationsin the assumptions aboveo the impending effective destruction of theforces in Indochina).'

Chinese Communist Reaction

stated In Paragraphe believechances are somewhat better thanthe Chinese Communist, ln thewould intervene militarily tothc destruction of the Viet Minh.decided to do so, we believe thattiming and nature of their actionon various factors, but principallyscope and character of the US/alliedthey were seeking to

Soviet Reaction

this assumed situation, the USSRcontinue to support theIf the Chineseopenly Ln support of the VietUSSR would rapidly Increaseto Communist China. Theand propaganda campaignsUS would continue full-scale, andmight ask the UN to condemn thean aggressor. Thinly veiled threats ofinvolvement ln tho fighting andlo the Slno-Sovlet Treaty0

Assistant Chief ot. Department of ihe Army, believe* that the rcaulU In thiscould not be achieved by theand Insufficient forces envisaged

'The Director of Inielligence, USAF. believe* that this paragraph should read as follows:

"Communist China wUl probably not choose knowingly any coarse ol acUon likely to expose its fundamental naUonal strengths in warajor power. However, we believe thatChina's strength for conducting various kinds of warfare is such, and the motives and Judgment of Its leaders are such as to make Communist China's courses of acUon danger-

ously unpredictable under outside pressure of any appreciable magnitude."

Deputy Director for Intelligence. The Joint Staff, believes Uiathould read as

follows.

"Communist China would conclude from the assumed Impending destruction of Communist forces In Indochina, by Umned forces employing nuclear and conventional weapons, Lhat Its open military InUrvenUon would invite an extension of similar action to Communist China, and would, therefore, probably not Intervene

PART II

ASSUMPTIONS

treaties of independence between France and the Associated Statesbeen signed.

regional security grouping including at least the Associated States,the Philippines, Australia, France, and the United States, and possiblyalso New Zealand and the United Kingdom, will have been formed.

Associated States will have publicly requested the direct militaryof members of the regional grouping in the war in Indochina.

French will have undertaken to continue at least the present level ofcommitment in Indochina.

Chinese Communists will have openly intervened with military forcesin order to counter US direct participation as denned in Requirement 1.

3

To estimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to an extension of allied offensive air operations to include military targets in Communist China directly supportingmilitary operations in Indochina or directly threatening the security of Alliedheuclear weapons would be employed in these operations if it were deemed militarily advantageous to do so, but nuclear attacks on the Chinesearget system would be avoided.

Chinese Communis! Reaction

e consider It probable that beforein Indochina the Chinese Commanists would have accepted the likelihood of US air attacks against military targets inonsequently, they would not feel compelled to withdraw iheir forces from Indochina solelyesult of the initiation of the airassumed above. At the same time, we

' In ihla requirement we Interpret targetssupporting" Communist military opcraUons to be generally soulh ol the YangUe River and to consist primarily ot transport lines, troop con-centraUorw. and air fields In the area.

believe Uiat the Chinese Communists, in order to prevent further destruction to this area of China and particularly to avoid the spread of unlimited US attacks to Uie whole of China, would intensify efforts to induce the USnter negotiationsettlement which would preserve thc Communist position and prospects In Indochina

the Chinese Communists,full extent of their capabilities,Uie war on the ground inatiack allied air bases, aircraftother installations directlyoperations in Uie area. Theyprobably try to keep the warin Indochina and. as awould confine their attacks tosupporting bases and Installations.

use of nuclear weapons undergiven above would greaUyChinese Communist concern aboutbut probably wowW not by itselfthem to adopt new courses ofat this time. However, theynuclear retaliation. Theyexploit to the fullest resultantopportunities and In particular would

charge that the US was using weapons of mass destruction on the civilian population.*

IS. The Chinese Communists would attempt by all means possible to convince other Asian nations that the US had undertaken tothe Chinese Communist regime In order to thwart Its efforts on behalf of anindependence movement. If thehad not previously done so. they would probably appeal to thc UN to brand US actionhreat to the peace.

. Soviet Reaction

this assumed situation, thegreatly increase Its militaryCommunist China, especiallyaircraft and small naval vessels,Including submarines, with Sovietto train and advise the Chineseto participate in air defenseThe USSR would probably notcombat units of the Sovietand probably would not releasefor Chinese Communist use.

Kremlin would also continue Itsand propaganda campaigns against the

'The Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Stiff, believes this paragraph should read:

"Nuclear weapon attacks on Communist China would undoubtedly resultuch greaterCommunist reaction than nuclear attacks oo the Indochlnese battleground. In addition, auch attacks would probably Indicate to the ChineseS willingness to exploit ItsIn nuclear weapons and deliveryto force litem out ot Indochina. Since the nuclear attack contemplated in this requirement laimited nature, the Chinese Communist rulers would retain control of the government and country and. with the InlUal attacks, they would probably make urgent appeals to the USSR for nuclear weapons and additional military assistance. They might also Increase the tempo of their military operaUons and wouldendeavor to Induce the United Stales to enter negotlaUons in the hope of forestalling furtherhinese Communist decision to withdraw or not would be dependent primarily upon continued or Increased US nuclear attacks and other US action as well as upon Soviet It Is believed, however, that the Chinese Communists would be willing lo withdrawIndochina rather than be subjected lo further destrucUon of their homeland."

US, undertaking In the UN to brand the US as an aggressor If this had not previously been attempted. The USSR would support Chinese charges concerning the use of nuclear wcapons against civilian populations. At the same tune, the USSR would probably advise the Chinese Communists to negotiateessation of hostilities on the basis of the status quo at the time and would try toosition as peacemaker.

REQUIREMENT 4

To estimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to the following additional allied courses of action, undertaken subsequently to those above:

of allied offensive airto additional selected military targetsChina, including the use ofunder the same conditions as above.

blockade of the China coast.

or neutralization of Hainan.

Nationalist operationsChinese mainland.

Chinese Communist Reaction

onsequence of this alliedof the war. the Chinese Communists would probably conclude that the US was prepared to wage unlimited war against them. They would continue to defend themselves to the limit of their capabilities and wouldmake vigorous efforts to secure the full participation of the USSR At the same time, they would Intensify their efforts to end the war by negotiations, and mightndicate in some way their willingness to withdraw from Indochina In order toease-fireIf unable toease fire agreement, the Chinese Communists would accept the fact of unlimited war with the US and would wage such war to the fullof their remaining capabilities.

"The Deputy Director for intellieence. The Joint Staff, and the Director or Intelligence. USAP. suggest that the words -might eventually" In this sentence should be replaced with "would probably."

Soviel Reaction

W. In this assumed situation, the USSR would continue to provide military assistance to Communist China as Indicated above, but would probably refuse Chinese Communist demand for full Soviet participation In the war. The Kremlin would strongly urge the Chinese Communists to negotiateion of hostilities on the basis of withdrawing from Indochina.'* If the Chinesecould notease-fire agreement, the USSR would provide Communist China with military assistance in every way short ofpenly committing combat units of the Soviet armed forces in operations against US and allied forces outside Communist-heldThe USSR would provide militaryand equipment for Chineseattacks on US bases or US forcesin the Far East At this stage of the conflict, the USSR might providehina with nuclear weapons and thepersonnel required for their

he USSR would continue its diplomatic and propaganda campaigns against the US, insisting that the Soviet aim was purely the defense of China against outright aggression. The USSR would also begin at least partial mobilization of its own military forcesar basis. It would issue thinly veiled threats of general war, suggesting attacks on

Western Europe and on the continental US, but would probably confine its operations to the defense of China so long as the US did not attack Soviet territory.

REQUIREMENT 5

To estimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to the success of theo the impending effectiveof the Chinese Communist capability to conduct military operations outside theof Communist China).'*

Chinese Communist Reaction

the USSR was willing to makecommitment of Soviet forcesthe success of the assumed USoperations, we believe that theChinese, under the assumedwould accept any US terms for awhich preserved the Integrityunder the Chinese Communist regime.

Soviet Reaction

this assumed situation, we believewould urge the Chinese Communistsany US termsettlementthc integrity of China under theCommunisto long ascontinued, however, the USSRits aid to China.

Assistant chief of. Department of the Army, recommends the deletion of "on the basis of withdrawing from Indochina,"that at this state of the conflict the Kremlin would not willingly acquiesce in the surrender of any Communist-held territory in Indochina or elsewhere.

" The Deputy Director for Intelligence. The Joint staff, and Director of InteUigence, USAF,that this sentence should read:

"We do not believe that the USSR wouldnuclear weapons for Chinese Communist use."

-The Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army, substitute for the last sentence:

"It Is also believed that Uie USSR wouM give serious conslderaUon toubatanUaUy greater military contribuUon including nuclear weapons and the technical personnel required for their use."

"The Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army, believes thaf the results assumed In this requirement could not be achieved by the unbalaneed and Insufficient force envisaged.

"The Assistant Chief of. Department of thc Army, would add "and retained afoothold In Indochina."

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