SNIE 10-4-54 COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO CERTAIN US COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT T

Created: 6/15/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO CERTAIN US COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT TO 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, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

Concurred tn by the

INTELLIGENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

on ISoncurring were the Special Assistant,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 ofAEC. The Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of the

jurisdiction of the FBI.

TQtS6eRET

i im if I'T

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.'

THE ESTIMATE

PART I

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 possiblyNew 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 levelmilitary commitment in Indochina.

1

To estimate the Initial Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions to the participation of US air and naval forces with French Union forces and token Thai and Philippine forces in coordinated ground, naval, and airdesigned to destroy the Communist mili-

The uMimpUoru and eslimaUve requirements stated hereto were Furnished to the Intelligence community for the purposes of this estimate. Wc interpret the hypotneucal action aswithin the next twelve to eighteen months.

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

Chinese Communist Reaction

he Intervention of US and allied forces in Indochina probably would cause theCommunists to believe that sooner or later they would have to decide whether to

accept the dclcal of Ihe Viet Minh or toin force in order lo try to prevent such defeat. Their decision would probably rest, mainly, though not exclusively, upon their weighing ol the risks and disadvantagesfrom the Viet Minh defeat against the likelihood of involvement In major war with the US and the probable consequences ofar for Communist China. Availablegives no uimiistukcable indication of what Chinese Communist decision would-be. 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 thoughtlo prevent destruction of the Viet Minh, including when and if necessary, open vise of Chinese Communist forces in Indochina"

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 Chinese Communists might choose to exercise this capability before US intervention could be effected.

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

Deputy Director for Intelligence, The JointT, recom rue nils deletion ol Ihe laat sentence of this paragraph timl would substitute the

"However, their decision would he largelyby the Chlnen estimate of the probable extent and effect of US InitialThe Director of Intelligence, USAF, believes that tbe last sentence of this paragraph should read as follows:

"Communist China will probably not choose knowingly any course of action likely to expose It* fundamental national strengths in wara)or power However, we bebeve thatChina's strength for conducting various kinds ol warfare Is such, and the moUves and ludgment of Its trader* are such as to make Communist China's courses nf action dangerously unpredictable under ouOddr pressure of anymagnitude."

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and naval forces could not. in the absence of US ground forces, decisively alter the course of the 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 tlie allied military operations und had estimated the probable nature and extent ol US aims in the conflict.

In Ibis connection. US use of nuclear weapons in Indochina would tend to hasten the ultimate Chinese Communist decision whether or not to intervene. It wouldconvince the Chinese Communists of US determination toecisive military victory in Indochina al whatever risk and by whatever means, and of the consequentof nuclear attack on Communist China. Whether this conviction would precipitate or deter Chinese Communist Intervention would depend on the military situation In Indochina at the time, the observed military effect of the use of nuclear weapons, and the 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 Minh. The Chinese Communists wouldincrease Iheir deliveries of AA weapons and might send in Chinese AA gun crews. Moreover, the Chinese CommunLsls would probnbly deploy ground and air units near the 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 detrnd the southern border of China.

Whileosture of military readiness, the Chinese Communists wouldpolitical and propaganda activitieslo exploit anil-Western and anllcolo-nial 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

TO " i rr

of military operations, thewould almost certainly agitatecease-fire" und 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 the risks of unlimited war between the US and Communist China. The USSR would probably prefer thatar not develop out of the IndochinaNcvei thelcss. the USSR would assure Communist China of continuing military assistance. The USSR would alsotnd propaganda support to Communist China and the Viet Minh regime.

REQUIREMENT 2

To estimate Chinese Communist and Soviet reactions lo the success of the operationsin the assumptions aboveo the impending effective destruction of the Com-mnntst forces in Indochina).*

Chinese Communist Reaction

stated in Paragraphe believechances are somewlwt better thantlie Chinese Communist, in thewould Intervene militarily tothe 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/alliedtliey were seeking to counter.-*

Soviet Reaction

this assumed situation, the USSRcontinue to support theIf the Chineseopenly In 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 in the fighting andto the Sino-Sovlct Treaty0

hief of, Department of the Army, believes that the results In thisrould not be achieved by theand Insufficient forces envisaged.

-The Director of Intelligence, USAF, believes that this paragraph should read as follows:

mmunist China will probably not choofte knowingly any course of action likely to expose its fundamental national strengths in warajor power. However, we believe thatChina's strength for conducting various kind* of warfare Js such, and the motives and judgment of Usre Mich as to make Communist China's courses of actionunpredictable under outside pressure of any appreciable magnitude."

'The Deputy Director for intelligence. The Joint Staff, believes (liathould read as follows:

"Communist China would conclude from the assumed Impending destrucUon of Couuuunist forces In Indochina, by limited forces employing nuclear and conventional weapons, lhat Its open military lntervr-nUon would Invite on 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.

U. The French will have undertaken to continue at least the present level of their military commitment in Indochina.

E. The Chinese Communists will have openly intervened with military forces in Indochina in order to counter US direct participation as defined 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 Allied forces tn theuclear 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 Communist Reaction

e consider it probable that beforeIn Indochina the Chinese Communists would have accepted the likelihood of US air attacks against military targets in China. Consequently, they would not feel compelled to withdraw their forces from Indochina solelyesult of the initiation of the airassumed above. At the same time, we

In this requirement wc Interpret targetssupporting" Communist military operations to be generally south of the Yangtze River and to consist primarily or transport lines, troopand air Acids In the area.

believe that 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 the whole or China, would intensify elTorls to induce the US to enter negotiationsettlement which would preserve the Communist position and prospects in Indochina.

Meanwhile the Chinese Communists, to the full extent of their capabilities, would prosecute the war on the ground in Indochina and attack allied air bases, aircraft carriers, and other installations directly supporting allied operations in the area. They would, however, probably try to keep the warin Indochina and,onsequence, probably would confine their attacks lo such directly supporting bases and Installations.

The use of nuclear weapons under tlie restrictions given above would greatlyChinese Communist concern about US intentions bul probably would not by itself cause them to adopt new courses of military action at this time. However, they would threaten nuclear retaliation. They would also exploil to the fullest resultantopportunities and in particular would

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tliat the US was using weapons ol mass destruction on the civilian population.*

IS. The Chinese Communists would attempt liy all means possible to convince other Asian nations that the US had undertaken tothe Chinese Communist regime in order to thwart ils efforts on behalf of anindependence movement. If thehad not previously done so,ould probably appeal lo the UN to brand US actionhreat to the peace.

Soviet Reaction

in this assumed situation, the USSR would greatly increase its military assistance to Communist China, especially supplying modern aircraft and small naval vessels,including submarines, with Sovietto train and advise the Chinese and probably lo participate In air defenseThe USSR would probably not openly commit combat units of the Soviet armed forces and probably would not release nuclear weapons for Chinese Communist use.

The Kremlin would also continue itsand propaganda campaigns against the

"The Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff, believes this paragraph should read:

weapon attacks on Communist China would undoubtedly resultuch greaterCommunist reaction than nuclear attacks on the Indochlnese battleground, in addition, such attacks would probably indicate to the ChineseS willingness to exploit It.'in nuclear weapons and deliveryto force them out of fndochina. Since the nuclear attack contemplated in this requirement Isimited nature, the Chinese Communist rulers would rcUdn control of the government and country and, with the initial attacks, they would probably make urgent appeals to tho USSR for nuclear weapons and additional military assistance. They might also increase the tempo of their military operations and wouldendeavor to Induct* the United States to enter negotiations 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 SovietIt Is believed, however, tliat the Chinese Communists would be willing to withdraw from Indochina rather than be subjected to further destruction of their homeland."

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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 weapons against civilian populations. At the same time, 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 tlie 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 might eventually indicate in some way their willingness to withdraw from Indochina in order toease-fire* If 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.

Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Starr, and the Director of Intelligence. USAF, suggest that the words "might eventually" in this sentence should be replaced with "would probably/'

Soviet Reaction

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 negotiate for aof hostilities on the bants of withdrawing fromf the Chinesecould notease-fire agreement, the USSR would provide Communist China with military assistance in every way short of openly 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 Fart this stage of the conflict, the USSR might provide Communist China with nuclear weapons and thepersonnel required for their

Tlie USSR would continue its diplomatic and jiiopaganda campaigns against the US, insisting Uiat the Soviet aim was purely the defense of China against outright aggression Tlie 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 Kurope and on the continental US. bul. 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 anil Soviet reactions to the success of theo the impending effectiveof the Chinese Communist capability ta conduvt military operations outside theof Communist China)."

Chinese Communist Reaction

the USSR was willing to makecommitment of Soviet forcesthe success ot 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 termsettlementthe integrity of China underCommunisto long ascontinued, however, the USSRIts aid lo China.

AsnlHtant Chief of Staff, Q-epartment 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 willinglyr in the jurmxier of any Communtst-hrId territory in Indochina or elsewhere.

The Deputy Director for Intelligence. The Joint Staff, and Director ol Intelligence. UBAP.lhal Ihls sentence should read:

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

Tlie Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army. subsUtulc for the last sentence'

"It la also believed that the USSR would give serious consideration to maubstantially greater military contnbuUon including nuclear weapon* and the technical personnel required for Uirlr um-."

'Tlie AitiUstant Chief ol. Department of the Army, believes that the results assumed in this requirement could not be achievrd by the unbalanced and iruur&clint force envisaged.

' The Assistant Chief of. Department of the Army, would add "and retained afoothold in Indochina."

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