NIE 10-3-54 COMMUNIST CAPABILITIES IN INDOCHINA

Created: 6/1/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

APPROVED

NATIONAL

INTELLIGENCE

COMMUNIST CAPABILITIES IN INDOCHINA

Approved44

The Intelligence Advisory committee concurred tn this estimate on The AEC and FBI abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.

The foOoioing member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated with the CentralAgency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

COMMUNIST CAPABILITIES IN INDOCHINA

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Communist capabilities to oppose an intervention of US armed forces in Indochina employing either:

a. Viet Minh military forces supported indirectly by Communist China; or

o. Chinese Communist and Vict Minh forces.

ASSUMPTIONS

The US has intervened4 with ground, sea, and air forces in

US forces are opposed by either: (a) Viet Minh forces alone, receiving indirect Chinese Communist aid; or (b) Chinese Communist and Viet Minh forces, receiving Soviet support generally along the lines of such support in Korea,

This estimate does not consider the effect on enemy capabilities of USor of enemy action not directed against Indochina.

THE ESTIMATE

CAPABILITIES OF VIET MINH FORCES SUPPORTED INDIRECTLY BY THE CHINESE COMMUNISTS

Viet Minh Ground Force Capabilities'

iet Minh forces would be capable ofguerrilla warfare throughoutand of mounting attacks orby regular forces up lo six divisions in strength in northern Indochina. If, on the other hand, tlie Viet Minh make an initial decision to avoid large-scale positionalthey would be capable of greatlyguerrilla activity.ove would greaUy Increase the attritkmal aspects of the war on allied forces.

Sw Table I.

The logistic capability of the Vict Minh would be almost completely dependent upon Chinese Communist willingness andto make supplies uvulluble. We estimate that the present lines of communicationfrom China into the Delta area ofcan carry the logistictombat troops In addition to theombat forces.it is unlikely the Viet Minh combat forces would expand beyond anver present strength.

Introduction of "volunteer" Chineseforces as guerrillas or as components of Viet Minh units could Increase Viet Minh capabilities up to the limit of logLitic support, but it is unlikely that the pretense of non-

Q P X

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could be maintained if sizeable numbers of Chinese Communist personnel were committed.

Viet Minh Air Capabilities

The Viet Minh do not now possess an air force.

In the Viet Minh-held areas there are approximately nine airfieldsoot runways presently unserviceable but which,eriodeek toays, could be developed to takehere areirflelds with runways rangingeet which, with varying degrees of Improvement, would be suitable for liaison aircraft and possibly light transport activity. Many or these airfields would be severely restricted in use during wet weather due to flooding. In addition, new airfields suitable forperations might be constructed withinays.of airfields would notimitation to the operation of nn air force of considerable size within Indochinaeek toays of high priority construction activity. The Viet Minh do not now possess the capability to operateorce. However, theCommunists have the eapability ofViet Minh pilots and support personnel and of providing them with aircraft and equipment. We have no firm evidence that this capability Is now being exerciscd-

Viet Minh Naval Capabilities

Viet Minh have the following navalriver mining, river ambush, andin ports and naval facilities. They alsoonsiderable number of native junks which could be pressed Into service to meet logistic demands or to take udvantage ofopportunities.

The Chinese Communists are capable of training Viet Minh forces in naval warfare, and providing them with river and coastal mines and mine layers.

Communist Political Warfare Capabilities

Communists would have tbeopposing US Intervention by appealsamong the Indochlneseand by denouncing US Intervention as an operation designed to perpetuateThese capabilities would vary not only in relation to the military progress of the war but also to the extent that the US action appeared to the Indochinese to guarantee their independence.

without specific politicalund large-scale successes bywould almost certainly reducepolitical capabilities to subvert andthe Indochlnese people and tofor intelligence and logisticaddition, signs of Viet Minh defeatIncreasingly encouragethe VietS armedaccompanied by political measuresIndochinese independence,political warfare capabilities wouldreduced. Viet Minh nationalistbe diminished, and there wouldbe considerable and increasingthe Viet Minh. Thesealso reduce Viet Minh capabilitiesguerrilla and terrorist activities.

Communist political warfare capabilities ln Indochina would remain substantial if US-allied arms did not quickly give evidence that they could bring the warictorious closehort time, and if the Indochinese were not convinced that their independence was assured. We believe, moreover, that even ln the event of large-scale US militaryaccompaniedenuine conviction in Indochina lhat independence was assured, the hard-core Communists of the Viet Minh, probably supported from China, wouldong time retain substantial capabilities for guerrilla activity and subversion.

CAPABILITIES OF CHINESE COMMUNIST

AND VIET MINH FORCES

Chinese Ground Force Capabilities in Indochina1

' See Table II.

f the Chinese Communists decide toKorean combat-trained forces, tliey have

|1 Ut1 II I1

availablermies1 which served in Korea and arc now in China. Nine of these unite are at present stationed in northeast China and four In east China. It is estimated that the most distant of these. In the northeast, could be redeployed to the Indochina border inoays and thp nearest could beInoays. The Chineseare capable of redeploying five of these armies to the border Inaysecision to do so has been made. If the Chinese Communists decide not to commit Korean combat-trained forces, there are two armies In southeast China, elements of which can cross the Indochina border piecemeal in four or five days or which can be committedoordinated action inoays.of five additional non-Korean trained armies could be accomplished Inoays. It is possible, also, that these capabilities might be exercised prior to US intervention.

he capacity of lines of communication within China is not the limiting factor upon the number of Chinese Communist troops which could be moved to the Indochina border and supplied within Indochina. The chief limiting factor upon the employment ofCommunist forces in Indochina Is the capacity of the lines of communication within Indochina. For combat operations, each army would requirehort tons per day of all classes of supplies while each artillery division would require approximatelyhort tons dally. On this basis, thenumber of Chinese Communist units which the present capacity of lines ofIn Indochina from the Chinato the Delta region would support, In addl-

' Chine* Communist armies would probablyn strength, tarn composed of three Infantry divisions, an artillery regiment,nirk reglmrnl ofrucks Each of these armies would be approximately equivalentS division In terms of method of employment and eRceliveness. it Is probable that two artillery divisions would also beeaeh conslsUnffegiment ofSmmm howitzer* or divisionrtiment of SOeglmrnl ofmm. and aof AAA (AW).

tlon to present Communist forces inis approximately seven armies and two artillery divisions. Thus, the total number of Communist combat forces which could be supported over present lines ofin Indochina is.

redeployment of Chineseforces to the Indochina border, It isthat, during the dry season, theythe Hanoi-Haiphong area within seven days after crossingoordinated attack witharmies two weeks after initial unitsborder, and could build upotalcoordinated action of seven armiesartillery divisions four weeks afterthe border. Large-scale operationsthe Red River Delta area would requirethe rail line to the south, and henceupon Communist rupture ofoperation of the railway fromIf the Communists couldline to support operations, thecould be supported loglstlcally toIf the rail line could not beforce which could be supported wouldto about three or four armies.the rainy season troop movementsslowed, logistic support made moreand the scope and magnitude oftactical operations considerablythe Chinese Communists enterthe rainy season, they probablysupport more than four armies anddivisions under large-scaleconditions, building to the totalarmies and two artillery divisionsnext dry season. During the dryChina would be capable oflight and medium tanks inunits in the Tonkin Delta.

Chinese Communist Air Capabilities in Indochina'

from buses In China, theCommunists have An estimatedto intervene immediately witti an air force

'See Table in

consisting ofet andiston fighters capable of operating against targets inIndochina,orce ofedium piston bombers capable of operations against targets anywhere in Indochina. In addition, the Chinese Communist Air Force haset fighterset light bombers. Current airfield capacity in south China would permit the Chinese Communistsf these jet fighters and jet light bombers immediately to augment the force operating against Indochina. Although this movement could be completed lnoours, the scale of operation of this force might be restricted initiallyhortage of supplies. Necessary logistic support could be provided if the Chinese Communiststo stockpile aviation supplies at theairfields prior to US intervention. If they did not, we believe that supplies in quantities necessary to support sustained operations could be made availableeek toays.

augmentation of thisrequire repair of existing airfieldsof new airfields within rangeHowever,eriodays, the capacity of such airfieldsso Increased that the size of thiswould depend largely onrequirements elsewhere.

Communist Chinese Naval Capabilities"

Chinese Communists are believedthe following naval units in southIn the Canton area: one frigate,six-eight motor torpedo boats,gunboats or mine sweepers,ships and craft, and six-eightaddition, there arc numerous riverpatrol craft, and an estimatedjunks in the area south of Canton.

Table IV.

The Chinese Communists could undertake river and coastal mining, limited minesweep-lng, and the transport of supplies by sampans and junks.hort-haul amphibious lift, utilizing several thousand junks andnow in the South China Sea coastal area, could be provided on relatively short notice.

Indications have been received recently of the presence of two or more submarines in the Gulf of Tonkin. Submarine patrols wouldonsiderable threat to naval forces operating in this area. It is possible that the USSR would provide the Chinese Communistsimited number of submarines to be operated by Soviet crews or under theof Soviet advisers.

While the Chinese naval air force ls still in its formative phase, itimitedof supporting surface combat operations by mine laying and by attacks on merchant shipping and naval vessels.

Communist Political Warfare Capabilities

political warfarethe case of Chinese intervention wouldrelation to the course of the war. Ifsuffered defeats, there wouldViet Minh defections and aweakening of the Viet Minhif the Indochinese wereforeign rule was at an end.appearance in Indochina of largeChinese would probably revive theIndochinese enmity for thesuccesses,rolongedwhich neither side appeared to haveof victor)', would enhancewarfare capabilities. However,the Communist forces in Indochinacompletely, the Communiststootential forguerrilla warfare, particularly so longstrong Communist regime existed in China.

VIET MINH TROOP STRENGTHS AND DISPOSITIONS

Regular and Regional Forces People's Armed Militia

Dispositions

North Vietnam

Northern Laos Central Laos Central Vietnam

South Vietnam

South Laos and Cambodia

Regionaluiiitia

Bns

R- ['

egional Bns

egularegional0 MlliUa

Bns

0 MlltUa

4 Regular Bns

Regionalilitia

TABLE II

TROOPS STRENGTHS AND DISPOSITIONS OF CIIINF.SF COMMUNISTS GROUND FOROKS

Total

Korea

Northeast China North China Northwest China Fast China

Central China/South China Southwest China Unlocated

rmiesivisions which ore by350 Arty.)

1

3 Sep.rmiesSep.

1 Army. Spee. UnlU.n

do not includeublic Security troops which are full-time, lightly-equipped troops disposed throughout China for the purpose of maintaining internal and border security.

* in the four southern provinces or Yunnan, Kweichow, Kwangsi, and Kwangtung firmly acceptedCommunist military strengthrmiesrtillery divisions. It Is possible that there are anrmieseparate infantry divisions In the area. There arermies confirmedivision and an army headquarters which are In Kwangtung) locatediles of the Indochina border, in addition, the 4th Artillery Division Is located at Kunming. The only other troops believed to be In either Yunnan or Kwangsi Provinces withinile border zoneublic Security divisionsndependent Public Security regiments. Two armies currently listed asalso could be in the area, but the status of these armies cannot be determined and they very possibly do not now exist.

TABLE IV

CHINESE COMMUNIST NAVAL FORCES

Naval Vessel*'

1 Light Cruiserrigate/Gunboats

4 Motor Gunboats

3 Oldotor Torpedo Boatsiver Gunboat*

or more) Amphibious vessels of all kindsor morei Auxiliaries

Naval Air

Total Plane Strength'

iston Fighterset Light Bombersiston Light Bombers

A^ul

Naval Personnel Strength

"The light cruiser Is believed lo beIn addition to the vessels listed, the CCN hasrmed motor Junks andpatrol craft. It Is known thathinese personnel have undergone submarine training and one vx-Sovlet submarine, possibly ot the "medium-range" typo, is in Chinese hands in Tslngtoo.

'SecTable III.

Original document.

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