NIE 63-4-54 PROBABLE MILITARY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN INDOCHINA OVER THE

Created: 6/15/1954

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

Supersedes)

PROBABLE MILITARY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN INDOCHINA OVER THE NEXTuly)

Submitted by the

director of central intelligence

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

Concurred in by the

intelligence advisory committee

ononcurring were the Special Assistant,Department of State; the Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army; the Director of Navalthe Director of Intelligence, USAF; the Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff, The Director of Intelligence, AEC, and the Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their

jurisdiction.

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PROBABLE MILITARY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN INDOCHINA OVER THE NEXTuly)

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the probable military and political developments in Indochina over the nexluly).

ASSUMPTIONS

no cease-flrc agreement is reached during the period of this estimate.

French policy with respect to Indochina will not undergo awith the nextays.'

THE ESTIMATE

MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS

I. The effects of the French defeat at Dien Bicn Phu and the progress of the Genevawill continue to be significantlyIn the attitudes of all participantsthe war. The Viet Minh haveigh level of activity, particularly In the Red River Delta. The Viet Minh can be expected to exploit to tlie full extent of theirany opportunities for decisive action which might result from these operations orurther political and psychologicalin Vietnam. The French aretheir efforts in maintaining their general position in the Red River Delta. The French command is reorganizing and strengthening the defense of vital areas in the Delta, primarily to counter the Viet Minh threat to the security of tlie French Expcdi-

' ThU assumption will be reviewed In the light of French political developments In the Immediate future. An amended esUmate will be made if required.

tionary Corps, and secondarily to hold as much of the Delta as possible pending the outcome of the Geneva negotiations.

Except foregular battalions held in the general area of Dlen Bien Phu, theof Vict Minh forces from Dien Bien Phu to base areas has been virtually completed. Two Infantry divisions and the artillery division are now in base areasnorthwest of the Delta. Twoinfantry divisions have arrived in base areas southwest of tlie Delta. Into the above forces, up toattalions have been assembling In the Thai Nguyen region, ostensibly for reorganization andtraining. These forces bring the total Viet Minh troop strength within and in the proximity of the Delta tonfantry1 artilleryilitia of lower combat effectiveness.

Opposing the Viet Minh the total French Union force strength in the Delta including

recent reinforcements from Laos and North Africaattalions.obile groupsarachute battalions, plus sup-porting artillery, tanks, und armored cars. Approximatelyercent of the infantry strength is composed of Vietnamese battalions of the Vietnamese National Army. There are also0 auxiliary troops and militia of low combat effectiveness. Byuly, an additional mobile group will have arrived from North Africa and atore mobile groups will have been formed from units withdrawn from static defenses.

The Viet Minhubstantial capability for sabotage and terrorist activitiesmuch of Vietnam, particularly in such key cities as Saigon, Haiphong, Hai Duong, and Hanoi, ln Hanoi this capability has probably increasedesult of the influx of Viet Minh agents among civilian refugees entering the city. The rail and road lineHanoi and Haiphong have beenfrequently and periodically despite preventive measures of the French Union forces. Although the Viet Minh will continue to engage tn sabotage and terrorist activities, we believe that they will use their totalincluding uprisings In the cities, only in conjunction with an all-out military

Since the fall of Dlcn Hlen Phu there has been noticeable decline in the morale of French Union forces. Recently, onemilitia battalion deserted, oneregular Army Group Mobile refused orders to go Into action. Vietnamese resistance to conscription lias increased and further Vietnamese defections within the nextays may be expected. On the other hand. French and Vietnamese troops have been engaged in local actions with no Indicationeriously impaired will to fight. If there areViet Minh victories or the Vietnameseconvinced that the French arethe capiUil, Hanoi, and substantial parts of the Delta, we believe Increased and serious defections would occur among Vietnamese units. In these circumstances, however, the French Expeditionary Corps and someunits would continue to fight.

Although there is no positive indications of Vict Minh intentions with respect to the Delta, throughout the period of this estimate the Viet Minh will be capable ofajor assault against the Red River Delta. The Viet Minh may soon undertake such an assault on the Delta because of the political advantages to be gained at Geneva by such action, or because they have becomethat French Union forces have become demoralized and that Vict Minh capabilities for assault combined with those of sabotage, terrorism, and uprisings would prove decisive in the Delta, except lor limited beachheads in the Haiphong area. Tlie Viet Minh will also believe that the French will be handicapped by lack of Initiative and the necessity of tying down considerable numbers for thistype defense. The Viet Minh will weigh these considerations against the obstaclesby terrain and weather and against the fact that the French Union forces willtheir maximum strength within the perimeter during this same period and will be superior in numbers, firepower, air strength, and logistic support.

We estimate that the most likely Viet Minh course of action will be to increase theirlevel of operations during the nextays and to continue attacks on French Union strong points, especially in the Delta. It is possible that elements of the Viet Minh battle corps, redeployed from Dien Bien Phu, will be committed in the Delta during this period to Increase the weight of Viet Minh attacks. The Viet Minh objectives will be to reduce the area under French control, to demoralize the Vietnam Army and militia, and reduce the capacity of the LOC between Hanoi andto such an extent thai the French position In Hanoi becomes untenable.we consider it likely that French Union forces will suffer some reverses, they will probably be able to retain possession of their key strong points and prevent theseverance of the LOC between Hanoi and Haiphong.

If,esult of tlie foregoing course of action, the Viet Minh should develop an

portunity loajor attack, the French Union forces have tlie militaryto hold Hanoi during the period of this estimate. However, If the Viet Minh achieve military successes In the Delta and French control of the native elements in critical areas of the Tonkin Delta deteriorates, the French may withdraw toward the HaiphongMoreover, even in advance ofmilitary pressure by the Vict Minh,for the integrity of the French Expcndi-tionary Corps and for the security of the loyal population in Hanoi might induce the French to evacuate Hanoi and withdraw toward the Haiphongajor attack would probably be accompanied by uprisings,and terrorist activities which wouldcertainly multiply and aggravate the diflleulties of the French. In any event, the French could almost certainly hold Haiphong during the period of this estimate. The French position at Haiphong will beby the arrival of two cruisers now en route.

II. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

the unlikely event of aMinh invasion,and Cambodiaretain their present uncertainstability during the nextays ifcontinue to provide support.

political situation In Vietnamcontinue to deteriorate duringof this estimate. Treaties ofand association with Francebeen initialled, but the impact ofhas not been sufficient to bolstermorale or add to the strength ofVietnam Government. Even ifgovernment Is supplanted duringof this estimate, it is unlikely thattrend of disintegration couldin the absenceubstantialin the military prospect ofUnion forces. Factionalism hasextreme and the Vietnameseis virtually paralysed. Ifcentral government shouldthis fact by Itself would not causeto lose the ability lo maintain orderregions controlled by their military forces.

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