NIE 63-3-54/PROBABLE MILITARY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN INDOCHINA OVER THE

Created: 5/21/1954

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ASSISTANT DIRECTOR,ORE

national intelligence estimate

probable military and political developments in indochina over the nextays

DATE: 5

(Supersedes) Approved4 Published4

The Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on The ABC and FBI abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.

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

central intelligence agency

PROBABLE MILITARY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN INDOCHINA OVER THE NEXTAYS

THE PROBLEM

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

ASSUMPTIONS

That no cease-flrc agreement is reached at the Geneva Conference during the period or this estimate.

That French policy with respect to Indochina will notadical change for the worse within the nextays.

THE ESTIMATE

MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS

he fall of Dien Blen Phu has nota collapse of the French and Vietnamese military position in Indochina, but it hasignificant impact upon the attitudes toward the war of all participants From the Viet Minh viewpoint, the full of Dlen Bien Phu haslimate of victory which offersfor further advances. We believe that the Viet Minh will raise their present level of operations, seeking lo reduce further the French and Vietnamese will to continue the war. to Improve the Communist basis forut Geneva, to prevent majorof French Union forces, to prepare for major campaigns, and lo exploit anyfor early victory. From the French Union viewpoint, the defeat at Dien Blen Phu has underscored the fact that the war cannot be won by French efforts, alone. Accordingly, the main French effort appears at present to be directed toward maintaining and In any caseollapse of the French Union military positionease-fire Isat Geneva or the conflict is

Mililary Developments Within Ihe Next

Two Weoks

ithout redeployment of major units, the Viet Minh will have during the next two weeks the capability to Increase the present level of their military operations throughoutIn the Delta, the Viet Minh over the next two weeks will probably continue to mount attacks against French strong points and to cut temporarily the lines ofbetween Hanoi and Haiphong. In addition, they will probably continue totheir capabilities for sabotage andactivities in Hanoi and Haiphong.while the scale of these activities will increase, they will probably not exercise these capabilities for sabotage and terrorism to the full during the next two weeks except in the event of large-scale military opprullons in this area. Outside the Delta, the Viet Minh will probably launch attacks in central Vietnam, conduct raiding operations in Laos, andguerrilla operations in Cambodia.

:i. We consider that, despite the defeat at Dlen Bien Phu, the French Union forces still

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the will to defend key points. Jn the Delta, the French almost certainly will possess for at least the next two weeks the capability to hold major positions. They haveone mobile group from Laos to lhe Delta, and Ihey apparently intend to regroup forces already within the Delta even though this may require tbe abandonment of some outlying Delta strong points. Outside the Delia region, the French will probably have the capabilily lo hold most positions during the next two weeks although they maycertain positions in order to concentrate their troops in criUeal areas elsewhere.

Mililary Developments Within tho Nextays

If major units now at Dien Bicn Phu are redeployed as rapidly as possible, the Viet Minh can within the nextaysapability foreavy assault against French positions In the Delta.are now being made for moving the bulk of the Viet Minh units from Dien Bicn Phu toward their bases in the Delta area, and there are indications that redeployment, has begun. Wc believe that approximately one division will remain Initially in the vicinity of Dlcn Hlen Phu. The major portion of the forces at Dien Bien Phu with their heavy equipment could not assemble in the Delta area5 June, although it is believed that Iheir lighUy-cqulpped units couldthe movement byay. However, the gradual Increase In intensity of rains during the month of June, combined with French aerial attacks onay slow down the movement.

In addition to the force al Dlcn Blrn Phu. the concentration ofattalions at Thaioint approximatelyiles north of Hanoi, may be used lo augment the Viet Minh capability for major ullacks against the Delia. These units,f which are regional battalions, appear lo be undergoingtraining.nlikely that these troops will be Independently committed In major attacks on Delta strong points during the nextays. However, they might be

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used to attack French static defense units or1ajor attacking force made up of units now at Dien Bien Phu.

II. If military considerations alone dlctute, we estimate lhat Ihc Viet Minh will not launch an all-out assault against the Delta during the nextays. The major factors mllitaUng against such an assault are: the requirement for reorganization and recuperation of Uie main striking force from Dien Bien Phu. the limited period of time to prepare for major assaults against fortified positions, theof delay in movement of artillery units into position, the onset of the rainy season with resultant supply difficulties, und the flooding of areas within the Dellu whichroutes for troop movements and areas of maneuver. The most important deterrent, however, is the French strength In manpower, firepower, and airpowcr. However, the Viet Minh might undertake an assault on the Delta because of political requirements in relation to Geneva, or on the basis of their estimate that French Union forces had becomeand that Viet Minh capabilities for assault combined with sabotage, terrorism, and insurrection might prove decisive In the Delta.erious deterioration of the will lo light of Uie French Union forcesesult of political developments In Indochina or elsewhere, we believe that the French would be able to counter or blunt such an assault within the nextays.

On the other hand, we anticipate that, short of mounting an all-out assault on the Delta, tho Viet Minh during the nextays will increase their present level of operations and will attack French strong points in the Delta and elsewhere. Although we consider it likely lhat the French will suffer somefrom attacks on this scale, we believe that they will be able lo retain possession of most of their key strong points throughout Indochina, and will be able to keep open the lines ot communications between Hanoi and Haiphong except for frequent but temporary interruptions.

It is possible lhat defections by Vietnamese units will occur during the nextays and will thus reduce the capabilities of French

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forces. Some Vietnamese from militia units are believed to have defected recently to the Viet Minh with their arms. On the other hand, since the fall of Dien Bien Phu, French and Vietnamese units have beenwith no Indication of Impaired morale or will to light. We estimate that, unless the Vietnamese become convinced that the French intend to sell out in Indochina or unless the Vict Minh achieve substantial militarythe fighting capabilities of the French Union forces during the nextays will not deteriorate so severely as to preclude their employment as mi effective military force. There is always the possibility, however, that some spectacular Vict Minh successes In the Delta would convince the native population and Vietnamese troops there that victory in the Delta was Imminent, In which case an extremely rapid deterioration of the situation In north Vietnam would ensue.

Political Developments

arring the unlikely eventarge-scale Vict Minh invasion oroup d'etat. Laos and Cambodia will probably retain theiruncertain political stability during the nextays. The Laotian Government will almost certainly remain in power if the

French continue to provide It with support. The Cambodian Government will probablycontrol and will continue Its efforts to solicit direct US aid.

olitical stability in Vietnam willcontinue to deteriorate during this period. In the absence of both Bao Dai and Buu Loc. factionalism has become extreme, and the Vietnamese central government Is virtually paralyzed. It is possible that the Vietnam central government will disintegrate during the nextays. It is also possibleoup may be ut templed by General Hinh, who has obvious dictatorial ambitions. If the Vietnam central government should disintegrate, the French could almostmaintain civil control temporarily in the regions they occupy by working throughregional governors and localarge part of the Vietnamese troops in the French Union forces probably would continue at least temporarily to be responsive to the French High Command. Thus disintegration of the Vietnam central government, while it would complicate negotiations at Geneva, would almost certainly not cause ancollapse of French control in Indochina unless It were accompanied or precededollapse of the French military position.

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