Southet Military Assessment
MEMORANDUM FOR THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
SUBJECT: SOUTH VIETNAM: ET MILITARY ASSESSMENT*
the past year, both the Vietnamese Communists and the South Vietnamese have improved their military capabilities. Evenenerally low level of activity is expected to continue at least throughlthough the fighting may become intense in some areas. With the forces they presently have in South Vietnam, the Communists lack the capability to make significant and lasting gains against the GVN. The GVN is similarly incapable of making major gains against the Communists. .
--The situation would change rapidly, however, if North Vietnam commits its strategic reserve to South Vietnam and infiltrates sufficient manpower to bring existing units up to strength andeplacement manpower pool. In the event of aoffensive:
North Vietnamese forces would have theto regain control of Quang Tri City, perhaps capture Hue, and make sizable gains in southern MRn MRontum and Pleiku cities night fall, and in MRhe Communists would make some temporary gains north and northwest of Saigon.
--We doubt that the GVN would be able to stop theoffensive without the US providing large-scale logistical assistance. Moreover, should the Communists accomplish all of the above, the adverse psychological impact might be more significant than the actual impact on the military balance. ituation could develop in which the GVN would be unable to regain the initiative without the reintroduction of US combat air and naval support.
4 This memorandum hoe been prepared jointly by the CentralAgency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State.
ANNEX A: MANPOWER AND LOGISTIC POSITIONS OF NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM
ANNEX B: STATUS OF NORTH VIETNAMESE AND SOUTHINFANTRY DIVISIONS
the cease-fire inothCommunists and the South Vietnamese haverespective military capabilities. The Northhave increased their combat forces, improvedposition, and made extensive improvements tosystem. The South Vietnamese, for their part,strengthened their combat forces and have assumedfor most of their logistic operations. Asof the large inflow of US equipment into Southin the last weeks beforehenow have more tanks, artillery, and aircraftbefore.
regular combat forces physicallySouth Vietnam have grownnto ann Since the this force has markedly changed its orientation. withdrawn two infantry divisions as well as sixfrom northern MR 1. Inhirdwas withdrawn in January just prior to the Partially offsetting these withdrawals, Hanointiaircraft (AAA} regiments into Southowing to continuing infiltration and unitthere also are more NVA combat infantry troops innow than in The North Vietnamesereinforced their controlled areasarge numberand field and antiaircraft artillery, creating acapability. They are clearly intent both ona capability to protect those areas of Souththey now control and on maintaining an option tooffensive action.
Ih terms of acmbat infantry alone, the North Vietnamese currently havenfantry divisions deployed in South Vietnam -- two of which have only one subordinate regiment instead of the normal three ompared to ivisions of three regiments each before the cease-fire. They could, however, move additional divisions across the DMZ and back inton short notice.
C. On the South Vietnamese side, the GVN regular ground combat forces are now0 men stronger than they were inaving increasedoen. These ground combat forces are supportedore proficient air force (VNAF) and effective artillery units. Higher manning levels within South Vietnam'snfantryaccount0 ofman increase. The remaining growth results from the upgrading of Regional Forces (RF) into the regular combat structure. This was backed up by the upgrading of some Popular Forces and local self-defense forces into the RF structure. The following table compares GVN and Communist regular combat forces by Military Region and shows that the nationwide force ratio between the opposing armies is basically unchangedear agoalthough it has deteriorated (from the GVN point of view) innd MRhile improving in MR 4.
COMPARISON OF GVN AND COMMUNIST REGULAR COMBAT FORCES BY MILITARY REGION*
* Communist regular combat foroee include personnel in combat, combat support, and air defense units and local forceand platoons. In early Maroh there wereommunist infantry troops andir defense personnel compared with aboutnd0 in February GVN regular combat forces include assigned personnel in ARVtl/VUHC ground combat and combat support units and regional force battalions.
D. Barring major redeployments from North Vietnam, the current balance of forces will remain fairly stable throughout the remainder of the dry season. The relationship could be
altered quickly, however, if Hanoi decides to deploy some of its strategic reserve divisions from Northnwith those elements of theth Infantryremaining in Laos, into GVNr MR 2. In thehalf of South Vietnam, howevernlikehere is no NVA/Viet Cong reserve force in Cambodia available forintor MRnd the Communists could only shift forces among MRs to alter the balance. The GVN isimilar situation countrywide. The ARVN now has no uncommitted strategic reserve; any shifting of forces to one region can only beby reducing the force structure in another.
South Vietnamese have improved their armor,and air capabilities; on balance, they hold an edgeassets countrywide. The withdrawal of USwith the North Vietnamese buildup of armor,air defense forces, however, significantly mitigatesadvantage in firepower assets. Moreover, theenjoy an advantage in long-range artillery, have aapparatus, and have parity in tanks.
strengthening their combat position inthe Communists also have achieved significantin their logistic posture. Following the cease-fire,
Horth Vietnam'c strategic reserve consists of six divisions, totallingen.
Over the past year, the Communists have conetructed or up-graded moreiles of roads in South Vietnam and extended their POL pipelineS0 miles southward through the Laotian Panhandle and western South Vietnam.
North Vietnam's logistic and support structure in southern North Vietnam, southern Laos, northeastern Cambodia, and the western reaches of South Vietnam itselfwas further reorganized toore efficient, speedier transport of suppliesomb-free environment. At the same time, the Communistsajor road and POL pipeline construction and improvement program in Laos and South Vietnam whichyear-round deliveries to South Vietnam and greatlyaccess to portions of the coastal region2 (see map on Communist infiltration routes).
ambitious construction program did. notthe continuing heavy pace of cargo shipments to theimprovements to theogistic system in theincluding the dispatch0 infiltrators tohave given the Conmunists their strongest supplyand transportation network from North Vietnam to the Moreover, they now have sufficient ordnance stockpiled
in South Vietnam to sustain heavy combat activity for at leastonths.
South Vietnamese logistic command also hasin the post cease-fire period. Moving fromdependence on the US for support of its forces,has total responsibility for the in-countrystorage of supplies. In general, the performance oflogistic system at the present fairly low level ofhas been good. Current supply stockpiles, particularlyequipment and replacement parts, are more thancurrent consumption rates. Should major countrywide however, the South Vietnamese logistic system wouldto the limit and would probably be unable toinfusion and distribution of the large amounts ofto support the GVN'a combat forces. Even atmodest level of combat, thereroblem ofproper mix of supplies to GVN forcesimely interregional distribution of supplies is hampered
by virtual autonomy of each MR commander, and ARVN remains dependent on US civilian contractors for aircraft maintenance and port management.
intelligence does not provide adequatesurveillance. Such primary threat indicatorsof North Vietnamese troops into Southof Communist combat units from Laos or Northor logistic movements into South Vietnam, areUS intelligence assets. If early warning ofajor offensive is to be detected, itto be through continued US intelligence collection.
J. Since the cease-fire, the RVNAF has improved its leadership through personnel shifts and additional training and has become more proficient in using firepower. Serious
problems still exist, however, especially those stemming from inexperience in managing, supplying andarge force in combat. Moreover, lack of coordination betweencommands still impedes the RVNAF's fighting ability. While efforts are being made to rectify these problemssome of which already have been successfulRVNAF still needs more time to improve all aspects of its fighting forces before it could be expected toajor Communiston its own.
K. The Communists historically have been more disciplined, tenacious, and dedicated fighters than the RVNAF. They too, however, have their shortcomings. After the initial successes in2 Easter Offensive, the pressures ofustained offensive began to be reflected in less effective leadershipack of coordination. Moreover, as the toll of casualties mounted, they began toeduction in troop morale and the problems attendant with having toexperienced cadre with those who possessed inadequate formal military training. Since the cease-fire, the North Vietnamese have taken measures to overcome these shortcomings, including comprehensive training programs in both the North and the South. In last year's fighting in Quang Due and Pleiku provinces, the Communists used infantry, armor,and AAA forces effectively, suggesting that they are making progress in coordinating the actions of their forces.
Scenarios for the Remainder of the Dry Season
L. Limited Activity: The Most Likely Saenaric. to reliable agent reporting, the North Vietnamese do not plan toajor offensive in South Vietnam, at least through the remainder ofry season. These sources indicate that Communist combat activity will be confined to the defense of their territory and limited offensive operations against selected targets. Similarly, GVN tactical plans through the dry season will consistix of defense and offense. Under these circumstances, neither side is likely to achieve substantial, permanent territorial gains in the next few months.
M. Under this scenario, the outlook for MRherelines have stabilized, isontinued absence of heavy combat activity. In MRombat activity may intensify
in the central highlands as both sides contest territory along strategic lines of communication (LOCs). Neitherecisive edge, since ARVN's numerical superiority in the highlands is partly offset by NVA firepower assets. In MR 3, there probably will be some high points of activity, largely confined to sapper attacks, attacks-by-fire and IOC interdiction efforts. To the south in MRommunist combat activity will be handicapped by understrength unitseak logistic system.
N. eneral Offensive Scenario. What would be theif large-scale hostilities broke out again in southin the next several months? Both the GVN and the North Vietnamese would find it difficult to launch andajor offensive in the immediate future. Should the Communists decide to do so, however, they would have the capability by the end of4 if they committed new divisions from outside South Vietnam and substantially increased the current rate of infiltration. Since they would be the aggressors and could achieve local manpower or.firepower superiority in chosen areas, the unfavorable (to the Communists) nationwide ratio of forces would not necessarilyritical factor in their decision. (In none of their earlier offensiveshaveavorable nationwide ratio of forces.)
0. Under this scenario, the North Vietnamese wouldountrywide offensive some time after increasing infiltration and redeploying several infantry divisions fron the strategic reserve to GVN MRhere the weather will remain good from now through August. If this worst likely scenario developedand US support wore not providedthe North Vietnamese forces in northernould regain control of Quang Tri City, and gain additional territory in the southern part of the region, probablyrovincial capital- The key to theofests with the GVN's ability to resupply critical areas if major land LOCs are interdicted. If the GVN were not able to overcome resupply problemsonsidering its limited assetshen Hue also could fall to the Comnunists. From the Communist point of view, the destruction of the elite units defending Hue would be as important as the capture of the city itself. The Marines and Airborne are the GVN's strategic and if they were rendered combat ineffective, it would undermine the GVN's overall defensive ability.
P. In MRne or both provincial capitals of Pleiku and Kontum could conceivably fall into Communist hands, although the fighting would be fairly even. North and northwest of Saigon in MRhe Communists would temporarily gainterritory, including several district capitals. GVN forces, on the other hand, probably would not yield anyground in coastalr in MR 4.
Q. In sum, if the Communistseneralwe believe that they would make some permanentgains. The GVN would probably be unable to stop the Communist offensive without the US providing large-scale logistical assistance. Given the near parity in the two sides' physical capabilities, the outcome of any majoroffensive would be highly influenced by intangibles virtually impossible to predict. For example, theand effectivenessor lack thereofof individual ARVN unit leaders under stress in the initial days of combat couldajor impact on the outcome of the battle. the adverse psychological impact of Communist successes in the initial stages of an offensive might be more significant than the actual impact on the military balance. Thus, acould develop in which the GVN would be unable tothe initiative without the reintroduction of US combat air and naval support.
1. This memorandum assesses the relative capabilities of the two sides in South Vietnam by GVN Military Region as of The primary focus is on the remainder of this dry seasonthrough etailed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the North and Southmanpower, logistic, and firepower positions is at Annex A,iscussion of the status of North and South Vietnamese divisions is at Annex B.
Since the cease-fire there hasow level of combat activity in MRs both sides engaged in restructuring their forces. Consistent with the tactical situation, therecently reduced their ground combat capability bya third infantry division; two left earlierne just prior to the cease-fire. They now have five infantryone operating with only one regimentcompared to eight divisions just prior to the cease-fire. (See Militaryap.) The North Vietnamese, however, have augmented their air defenses by deploying antiaircraft artillery regiments into the region. esult of these changes. Communist forces inow0 troops, of0 are air defense personnel.
At the same time, the combat strength of the South Vietnamese regular ground forces has increased significantly in MR 1. This has resulted from upgrading territorial forces into the regular combat force structure and increasing thelevels of existing units. Thus, South Vietnamese regular combat forces inurrently totalroops, an increase of0 over the past year.
The largest share of both combat force structures is concentrated in Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces. Thehave00 infantry
troopsor aboutercent of their totalegular combat forces located in the two provinces. Two NVA infantrythth) supported byirndependent infantry,rtillery regiments are deployed north and west of Quang Tri City. One NVA infantry division B), supportedrmor,nfantry regiments, is deployed west and south of Hue. Arrayed against the Communists0 GVN0 infantry troopswhich are deployed near Quang Tri and Hue cities. Three GVN divisionsthe Marine, Airborne, and 1stsupportedanger group, an armor brigade, andegional Force battalionsefense line protecting major GVN lines of communication and population centers.
southern MSouth Vietnamese regular combatabout double the number of Communist forces. 0 men in two infantry divisionsthe 2nd
and 3rdthree ranger groups, andegional Force battalions, compared to the0 men in two NVA infantryth and 2ndsupported by elements of infantry, armor,apper, and air defense units. th Division is deployed in Quang Nam/Quang Tin provinces and is targeted against the coastal lowlands, whereas the 2nd Division's only regiment is operating in Quang Ngai.
Communist and South Vietnamese combat forcesrested and are at or near full strength, owing to thelull in combat activity. Both sides could launchattacks against selected targets. Despite anand air defense complement, the Northforce as presently deployed is not now large enoughmajor population centers in MR 1. ARVN forces arc indefensive posture with their forces committed toof major cities and LOCs. Thus, despite theirfor larger-scale actions, both sides now appear toto initiate only light combat activity inorof the dry season.
Communists in MRnder the auspices of MRcontinued to improve and expand an already strong Several roads feed into the region through the DMZ,them now passable year round. onnects the roadnet
with Laos and links the extensive logistic facilities established at Khe Sanh, Cam Lo, and Dong Ha. To supplement the overland system, the Communists have alsoarge land-water transshipment facility on the Cua Viet River just outside of Dong Ha. The logistic complex, now in operation for nearly one year, primarily handles cargo transshipped from anchorages in the North Vietnamese Panhandle.
western highlands supplyetwork offrom north of the DMZ to Loc Ninh in MRiles
to the south, was opened for limited traffic in late This corridor is part of the moreiles of new or improved roads constructed in South Vietnam during the past year, the majority of it in MR 1. Supplies will be shipped down the highway directly from Quang Tri Province and either stored along the route or sent farther south.
newly constructed or considerably improvedincludend Gorman's Road leading frominhau valley to units of theBwest of Hue,4 running to the Que Sonth Division, and Communist-designated) extending from Kham Due on the western supplythrough Quang Tin and Quang Ngai provinces. As
a result of new Communist construction sincehis last route now extends moreiles and is motorable into Binh Dinh Province in coastal MR 2.
addition to the roadnet, the Communists havelarge truck parks and numerous service andincludingtructures in northern MRcapable of holding several hundred thousand tons.
They have extended their DMZ POL pipeline aboutiles southward from Cam Lo through Ba Long intohau valley, andextensive POL storage and distribution facilities in these areas. These facilities, together with the pipeline, are supported by an inventory ofrucks in South Vietnam's MRhich is several times the number available to thein early
activity along the western corridor hasbeen light inn the past few months, probably
esult of the monsoon rains which sweep the area from September through February. Similarly, seasonally wet weather has restricted transport activity along lateral roads feeding the interior of the region. Despite this relatively low level of new supply deliveries into the region, most of the large amounts of ordnance delivered last spring and summer probably are still on hand, as Communist expenditure rates have been low. Thus, Communist forces probably have sufficient stocks on hand toustained offensive for at leastonths.
the GVN's side, logistics are not mucho ARVN forces so long as they maintain control of areas and well-traveled arteries in the coastalalong parts of this network, however, is likely to
be impaired by concentrated Communist interdiction efforts. During an offensive.inking Quang Tri City, Hue, and Danang wouldrime target. Should the ARVN lose the free use of this route, it would be forced to depend uponby air and sea. If this occurred, ARVN's capability to meet fully its resupply requirements in northernould be doubtful because of the GVN's limited air- and sealift capability. As ARVN stockpiles wereupply shortfallparticular of POL and ammunitioncould occur and might reach serious proportionsonth or so, especially if thereigh level of fighting elsewhere in the country.
the North Vietnameseajor offensive,probably deploy at least three infantry divisionsstrategic reserve and infiltrate sufficient personnellosses. Two divisions might be sent to Quang TriThien provinceshird to southern MR 1. could move into place near key GVN strongholdsease because North Vietnamese air defenseprevent VNAF from interdicting Communist Moreover, the commitment of North Vietnamese airduring the offensive probably would temporarilyGVN combat units and give the Communists the necessarymomentum to move deep into GVN controlled territory.*
* See Joint DiA-lNR-CIA Memorandum, "The Consequences of the Use of North Vietnamese Airpower in South Vietnam's Military RegionarchtECRRT SPOKE.
The offensive scenario might unfold as follows! five NVA infantry divisions supported by air defense, heavyarmor, and air would attack Hue from the north and west with the mission of destroying the GVN's three best combat unitsarine, Airborne, and ARVN 1st Divisions. To the south, two divisions supported by artillery, armor, and some air support would move into the populated lowlands of Quang Tin Province and isolate Danang. Connunist troops, including local forces, would attempt to tie down the ARVN 2nd Division near Quang Ngai City.
If the above happens, the GVN plans to fight aaction from Quang Tri City and withdraw the Marine, Airborne, and ARVN 1st Divisions from forward outposts to preplannedsectors around Hue. Successful implementation of
this plan requires the divisions to minimize their combat casualties and for ARVN artillery units and VNAF to provide adequate firepower protection for withdrawal. As attacking North Vietnamese units become more exposed to GVN firepower in the lowlands, their advance could be slowed somewhat. However, without US air assets and logistical assistancewhich were availablehe GVN would be hard pressed to defend Hue. Indeed, the GVN's internal distributioncoupled with possible shortages of key military supplies such as POL and small arms ammunition, could seriously limit ARVN'e ability to meet the Communist offensive throughout MR 1.
In the southern provinces, the ARVN 3rd Division, which is currently defending the coastal lowlands, is likely to withdraw to Danang. In such an event, Tam Ky City would probably fall. The ARVN 2nd Division would defend Quang Ngai City and attempt to send reinforcements to Danang. Unless the Communist forces in Quang Ngai are reinforced, ARVN probably would bo able to prevent them from making any significant territorial gains there.
On balance, the success or failureommunist offensive inould be determined in large part by the NVA's ability to prevent ARVN from resupplying its major combat forces, particularly in Thua Thien Province. This couldouch-and-go situation since ARVN is basically dependent on land LOCs for its supplies; its air and naval assets probably could not take up the slack if the major road arteries were If this occurrednd the US did not provide tho nocessary support to keep ARVN functioning effectivelythe Communists would not only capture Quang Tri City, but alsoHuerovincial capital in southern MR 1.
.Military Regionanpower Capabilities
In contrast to MRhe tactical situation inor some time has been marked by periods of intense combat activitymainlyesult of GVN attacks to prevent the Communists from securing areas along strategicnd main force unit deployments have been common occurrences. Last summer, for example, the GVN began multi-regimental operations into Communist areas of Kontum and Pleiku provinces. These operations have been only marginally successful and have resulted in heavy casualties for both sides.
The Communists, on the other hand, opened another military front in Quang Due Province and have reinforced the western highlands. From September to December, the North Vietnamese deployeden from GVNn threeBth Independent, andth of the 5th Divisionand smaller sapper and armor units.th Regiment withen, however, returned ton late February. The Communists reinforced the Kontum/ Pleiku area in January by deploying thend AAAand the 9th Regiment of theth Infantry Division
from southern Laos, and by infiltrating an armor group to thehighlands. The GVN reacted in September by deploying thed Division from Binh Dinh to Kontum Province; thed Divisionanger group moved to Quang Duein November.
the increased deployment of Communist andto MRegular combat strength of both sides hasthe beginning of the dry season. Communist combatincreased00 in threeh, and 3rdsixinfantry, one artillery, and three AAA regimentselements of sapper and armor units. South Vietnamesenowin twodd, seven ranger groups, oneegional Force battalions.
The current disposition of GVN and Communist combat forces focuses on Kontum/Pleiku, Quang Due, and Binh Dinh provinces (see Militaryap).
In the Kontum/Pleiku area the GVNumerical edge in combat forces,00 Communist troops. Theh Division, an artillery, an independent infantry, and two AAA regiments supported by armor forces are targeting Kontum City which is defendedegiment of thed Division and two ranger groups- Thoth Division and one independent infantry regiment supported by armor forces oppose three regiments of thed Division, two ranger groups, and an armor brigade near Pleiku City.
In Quang Due and Darlac provinces, there are0 GVN combat troops of thedanger group, and three Regional Force battalions. This compares to theombat troops in one AAA and three infantry regiments supported by armor and sapper elements. Communist forces are deployed near the Cambodian border with the mission of protecting the North Vietnamese road network linking the central highlands with northern MR 3. The Communists have forced the GVN to reduce its force structure in the provinces of Kontum and Pleiku, but they have also reduced their own threat to Saigon by withdrawing two regiments from
MR 3. The opposing forces in Quang Due and Darlac provinces are basicallyefensive posture although the GVN isto interdict Communist Routen western Darlac Province.
h Dinh Province, the balance of Communist and GVN combat forces is about even. The NVA 3rd Infancrysupported by ac^ci, heavy artillery and other infantry forces, numbersen compared to thean force of two ranger groups andegional Force battalions. The 3rd Divisionwith two of its three regiments under-strengthis now capable only of conducting limited attacks against GVN outposts and temporarily interdicting GVN supply lines .
The ARVN manpower edge ins at least partly offset by the Communists' use of their firepower assets.
The three North Vietnamese AAA regiments, plus armormm
mm field guns, now deployed in the central highlands constitute the largest firepower commitment of the war to this area. The presence of North Vietnamese AAA units is forcing some VNAF LOC interdiction missions to fly as high0 feet, restricting their effectiveness. Moreover,mmmm field guns have been effective in slowing the advance of GVN combat units into Communist areas west of Kontum City.
balance, although combat activity in themay intensify, neither sideecisivein the area. Communist military activity probablyefforts to occupy additional territory near Kontumdefending strategic Communist Routendsupply lines in Kontum and Pleiku provinces. ARVNto launch forays into NVA held areas, butnot have much success.
a logistic perspective, the Communists in MRstrongest in the highland provinces bordering Laosand in coastal Binh Dinh Province. Recent roadleading into both areas and through much of thehas considerably improved their access to mainCOMINT and photography have revealed large supplyand heavy vehicle trafficthe first since last springKontum Province. These goods can be moved quickly down
the dual lane road extending through western Pleiku and Darlac into Quang Due Province.
in MR 1althoughessernave augmented their rear servicesinventory of transport vehicles along the dual laneand have expanded storage and other facilities inand Pleiku provinces. As the dry season supplythe Communists will replace stocks expendedfighting, enhancing their ability to launch andtactical activity in all four highlands provinces in MRaddition, because main force units in the highlandsclose to the new dual lane or other roads,distribution and tactical troop deployments can bemuch more easily and quickly than previously.
forces in Binh Dinh Provincea substantial part of their supply stockpiles damaged
by severe storms which hit the northern coast of South Vietnam last fall. No serious shortages have been reported, however, probably because no significant fighting has occurred. In any case. Communisthrough southernow provides the Communists' first motorable link between Binh Dinhand the primary infiltration corridors from North With the use of this route during the dry season, they couldogistic capability for sustained offensiveby the NVA 3rd Division,
willerious problem for ARVNtheighlands if the Communists sharply escalateand attempt to capture the province capitals. ARVN now has approximately three weeks of stocksin the highland provinces, it relies heavily upon only
two major arteries to resupply these areas. Theseouteeeding Pleiku City from the coast, andontum and Pleiku citiesare vulnerable to Communist interdiction. Cutting these routes would make resupply of the cities entirely dependent on airlifts, which in turn areto Communist AAA fire.
Hanoi were toajor offensive in0 infiltratorsof which0 havedispatchedwould be needed to augmentunits and to create an initial manpower reserve. infiltration, however, would be required toas the fighting continued- Furthermore, theprobably would shift the two remainingofth Division now in southern Laos tohighlands- Once accomplished, the Communiststo isolate Kontum and Pleiku cities hth Divisions supported
by armor, heavy artillery, and antiaircraft forces wouldKontum City, whileth Division would attempt to tie down GVN forces near Pleiku City.
GVN plans to respondajor Communistby deploying thed Division now in Quang Due
and Darlac provinces and possibly another ranger group from Binh Dinh Provinceto Pleiku City* These forces combined with thed Division and four ranger groups supported by VNAF would have to keep Routesndpen to ensure resupplyif Kontum and Pleiku cities are to be successfully defended. If the North Vietnamese, however, deploy their antiaircraft and heavy artillery weapons near GVN installations and LOCs and success* fully interdict Routesne or both of the province capitals might well fall.
33. On thetrengthened NVA 3rd Division would move into the lowlands of northern Binh Dinh Province and capture one or two district capitals as happenedn the southern coastal provinces, the Communists would be limited to harassing attacks and LOC interdiction activity.
oth sides have been resting andcombat forces and consolidating their respectivepositions* Communist regular combat forces are nowthe populated areas north of Saigon thanhentheir attacks from the border areas of Cambodia. proximityreater threat to GVN LOCs andsurrounding Saigon. In terms of numbers, however*threat to this area has been reduced since October
yroops with the deployment of infantry, sappers, artillery, and armor to Quang Due Province.
there are0 Communistforces in MR0 more than at the time of
the cease-fire* Major units include an artillery, an antiaircraft, and three infantry divisions plus nine infantry, sapper, and armor regiments (see Militaryap). The infiltration of armor and antiaircraft and field artillery into the provinces north of Saigon last year provides the Communists with more firepower in the region than ever before* Inn AAA division was formed in Binh Long Province. This new unit, coupled with the continued availability of theissile, increases the threat to South Vietnamese air operations in this area of MRlthough the overall threat is less than in northernnd the western
the Communists inreroops in three infantry divisions, one four ranger groups, and supporting artilleryForces units. The government force increased bymen in the past year, and now isimesthe Communists. Moreover, it possesses an enhanced armorcapability. The GVN forces, however, are spreadthe region in defense of government-held territory. posture permits the Communists to concentratefor selected thrusts against key targets.
vailable evidence suggests that the Communists inill be content this dry season with locally intense but generally limited military activity. The fighting probably will include ground and artillery attacks against GVN military facilities such as POL and ammunition depots as well as against LGCs. The Communists are likely to concentrate thsir activity in the provinces north and west of the capital.
Tay Ninh Province, the Communists have the NVADivision* along with one regiment each ofand antiaircraft. Theh Infantry Divisionfor defending the provincesTay Ninh and Haumaintaining secure LOCs to Saigon. Moving east, the NVA
7th and 9th Infantry Divisions, supportedotal of six regiments of antiaircraft, armor, artillery, sapper, andinfantry, are targeted against Binh Duong and Binh Long provinces. The ARVN 5th Infantry Division, two regiments ofh Division, and two ranger groups are the principal GVN forces in these provinces. Another threat area lies east and southeast of Saigon where Communist infantry, artillery, and sapper units have required the positioningegiment of theh Infantry Division and two ranger groups.
The Communists inave not expended the large quantities of ordnance amassed by the end of last dry season and remaintrong supply position, capable of supporting heavy fighting. Although large-scale shipments to this region from Laos and North Vietnam have not yet been detected, the supplies may currently be moving south from Kontum Province along Communist ew motorable road in extremeCambodia has just been completed, connecting theexisting route structure in southern Cambodia with the dual-lane corridor in western MR 2. The road, although sufficient for current Communist needs, would be complemented by aditional routes prior to any Communist offensive.
Insidehe Communists have considerably improved their resupply system over the past year. Storage, communications, and other logistics facilities have been constructed,umber of roads have been either built or upgraded. The key roads include one leading from Loc Ninh, two crossing the Tay Ninh-Binh Long provincial border, and another extendingfrom southern Binh Long Province to Binh Duong Province, only aboutiles north of Saigon. These roads will allow the Communists to move their armor and artillery effectively, ease troop and resupply movements, and lessen constraints on mobility posed by the wet season should fighting continue beyond May.
* Tenuous evidence indicates that at least one regiment of the 5th Division is redeploying from northwestern Tay Ninh Province to Dinh Tuong Province in northern tfffhere the division operated fromo
COSVN Rear Service Groups (RSGs) operatecorridors in northern MR 3. Moat of theseactivated innd since thehey have extended their areas of operation from rearCambodia deeper into MR 3. They are now much closer toforces in the region, which together with an improvednetwork add considerably to the Communists' capabilityfurther fighting.
the most part, GVN forces innjoy the useextensive transportation infrastructure built initially
for commercial purposes. Logistics will pose no problem in and around the urban areas the government now firmly controls. ARVN's resupply links with outlying towns and outposts in Phuoc Long, Binh Long, and Tay Ninh provinces, however, are tenuous, and vary likely many would prove impossible to defend should the Communists initiate heavy offensive activity.
If the Communists should decide toajor offensive in MRhey would need to infiltrate0 combat troops in order to increase combat unit strengths and establish an initial manpower pool. This could be accomplished in April, if current infiltration levels to COSVN are maintained. So far this dry season0 infiltrators have already been dispatched to the southern half of South Vietnam.
During the initial stages of an offensive the Communists probably would make significant tactical gains because their units are in forward positions close to GVN population centers and installations. The present deployments reduce Communist command and control problems while affording the South Vietnamese less reaction time than Communist combat units probably would exert heavy pressure against the province capital of Tay Ninh City to tie down ARVN troops and prevent their use as reinforcements against the main offensive thrust south by the
NVA 7th and 9th Divisions from Binh Duong Province along the northern approaches to Saigon.
the Communists penetrate the densely populatedareas of Tay Ninh, Binh Duong and Bien Hoa provinces.
they would meet increasingly strong resistance from ARVN regular and regional forces. The GVN would have to shift forces within the region and redeploy the ARVN 9th Division from MR 4. Although the GVN could prevent the capture of Saigon, it would be forced temporarily to give up additional territory to the Communists north of the capital. The South Vietnamese, however, could be expected to further reinforce the area in order to recapture populated areas which they consider politically vital, even at the expense of losing territory elsewhere in the country.
4he balance of forces ineighs heavily in favor of the GVN. For the remainder of the dry season, the Communists1 capability for offensive activity there is quite limited* Major Communist combat forces0 men in two artillery andnfantry regiments and numerous local force units (see Militaryap). Communist units inre sorely understrength when compared2 levels, and more0 replacement personnel are needed to rebuild existing forces. Furthermore, there has been no significant improvement in the Communist firepower position2 levels. Some of the tanks and long-range artillery that deployed to the COSVNear ago could conceivably move into northern MRut their effectiveness would be extremely limited by the open terrain and numerous canals which crisscross the delta.
comparison/ the GVN has0 men indivisions and one armor brigade,arge number of regional forceARVN has continued to perform well in the deltanot only contained but reduced the Communist threatthree-division forcethe 7th, 9thtthe delta is currently in relatively good shape, andshortages nor the quality of units appears to poserestraint on ARVN capabilities. In addition,are supported by an air force that has providedair support in this area.
the northern delta, the Communists haveartillery and five infantry regiments in Dinh Tuong,and Kien Tuong provinces. These forces are opposedARVN 7th Infantry Divisionegiment of the ARVNDivision, supported by regional forces, whichin preventing the Communists from infiltratingpopulated areas. Another large concentration offorces is in Chuong Thien Province, where an artillery,
a sapper and five infantry regiments confront thet Infantry Divisionegiment of the ARVN 9th Division.
4ntilhird threat area existed in Kien Giang and Chau Doc provinces along the Cambodian border, where the
understrength North Vietnamese 1st Infantry Division operates. Two of the division's regiments have apparently been dissolved and their personnel assigned to reinforce the one remaining regiment of the unit. This has reduced the Communist threat to GVN forces in the area, consisting of one regiment of the ARVN 9th Division and regional forces.
Communists, however, still are capable ofregimental-sized attacks in several areas,Dinh Tuong and Chuong Thien provinces. They coulddistrict towns and outposts as well asGVN linos of communication, but would not achieve
any major permanent gains.
the Communists also areuchinhan in the northern three regions. secure rear base areas have been establishedborder in southorn Cambodia, few shipments have beentho delta over the past several months. Moreover,
the Communists' supply lines into the region are neither motorized nor secure from ARVN interdiction efforts during periods of increased hostilities, such traditional means of transportation as sampans and porters are still relied upon heavily. Large fishing vessels reportedly have been used to deliver arms and ammunition to Connunist-controlled coastal areas over the past year, but only in small quantities.
The Communists inre strongest logistically near the Cambodian border, in Basen western Dinh Tuong Province, and ininh Forest on the western coast. Sufficient stocks are on hand in these traditional strongholds toontinuation of the level of fighting which hasover the past several months and poriodic highpoints, but not much more.
The ARVN inas the advantage of better supply lines. Heavy sustained combat, requiring large amounts of supplies for both sides, is less common than in the other MRs. The protracted warfare style initigates the positive effect ARVN's logistics advantage may have on the overall balance of forces.
large-scale military activity is initiated inMRsparticularly MR 3the Communists would attempt
- 16 -
to tie down the three ARVN divisions in MRrobably The transfer of the ARVN 9th Division from the deltaas provided for in contingency planningwould permit the Communists to make some territorial gains in the rural areas. There is little reason to suspect, however, that they would achieve any greater success than they did in2 offensive, when they were unable to capture any major population centers.
MANPOWER AND LOGISTIC POSITIONS OF NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM
North Vietnamese Armed Forces (NVNAF) totalmen ofre located out-of-country inLaos and Cambodia. Hanoi's forces have continueddespite the heavy losses suffered iny an0 since the cease-fire. of the increase occurred in the growth of theand rear services structures and the remainder wasout existing Communist units. There also hasand quantitative improvements in the South increased deployment of longer-range offensive andweapons as well as better military equipment, leading
ramatic increase in North Vietnamese firepower.
personnel increase in the NVNAF and theof most of the losses sufferedere drawn frombase of more thanontaining apool of anillion physically fitthe ages3 9, Within the aggregate manpowerare an0 men in the prime age group Hanoi probably coulder yeardrain on the aggregate reserve; thus, it has the ability
to increase its armed forces further whileegular flow of infiltration to South Vietnam.
Vietnamese induction since the cease-firetwo distinct trends. In the first six monthsthe signing of the agreement induction wasas the Communists skipped their annual spring recruiting
* There ie some recently available evidence which suggests that the Horth Vietnamese population may total aboutillion. If so, all of the manpower figures in this paragraph would be higher.
drive. In August, however, the North Vietnameseubstantial recruiting effort, traditional for the August-September period. The second intensified recruiting effort of the post cease-fire period started in January.
induction effort this dry season is probablytoufficient pool of trained manpowerplannod infiltration while strengthening unitsredeployed to North Vietnam. New inductees arefor infiltration in four to five months; thus,recently would be unlikely to move southspring.
September 1,anoi has sent someto the southern war zones,0 fewerthe comparable period in About two thirds of the total, or more thanhave traveled to Communist combat units in Southwhile the remainderostly rear services personnelbeen sent to southern Laos and contiguous bordershown in the table below, total troop infiltration toregions in South Vietnam thus far in thecycle is substantially less than last year,to southern Laos and adjacent areas is moreas great.
Starts of Troops from North Vietnam, by Destinationarch 26
Region (MR! Tri-Thlen
The dispatcharge number of infiltrators to the9 area early in the dry season reflects North Vietnamese emphasis on logistic activities and further refinements to the transport system. Hanoi did not begin significant combat troop infiltration to South Vietnam until raid-Decembermoreonth later than usual. This shift in the timing of the departures from North Vietnam may reflect both the sharply reduced travel time for infiltrators en route to Southand an apparent lack of urgency in completing theof understrength combat units.
During the remainder of the regular infiltration cycle. North Vietnam probably will continue to send troops
toront and COSVN areas, where units are still
nd ob,uuu troops would be sent to these areas. If true, this would be more than sufficient to rebuildunits andeserve manpower pool by late spring.
Infiltration, however, probably will not be confined to the southern half cf South Vietnam. The recent resumption of infiltration to VCuggests that Hanoi is beginning to dispatch troops to northern South Vietnam whore the dry season is now beginning.
Since the cease-firo, the Communists haveubstantial number of personnel from the south to North 0 exfiltrators were detected moving through the Vinh area in North Vietnam, and thus farhe rate of northward moving personnel has been Most of this year's exfiltrators have been sick and wounded, although others, such as escort cadre who previously accompanied infiltrators south and personnel being sent to North Vietnam for training, also have been observed. The large proportion of sick and wounded probably results from the improved road system and the Communists' lowering of the medical criteria necessaryoldier to return home,igher nuiriber of marginally sick and wounded to return to North Vietnam.
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) hasstrength of over one million men andlike the
NVNAFits regular combat forces have continued to grow despite battlefield losses. The assigned strength of regular combat forces has risen, comparednesulting primarilyhange in the strength of ARVN/VNMC combat unitsn the last quarter Although now operating without US air and adviser support, RVNAF capability has been enhanced by theof large numbers of aircraft, tanks, and artillery pieces.
11. On the population side, the manpower base for Southillionis roughly comparable to that of North Vietnam. South Vietnam has an estimated manpower pool ofillion inge group, and we believe that anoung men reach ageach year. This is more than sufficient to meet the GVN's annual induction needs.
Combat Unit Deployments
Since the start of the current dry season, the North Vietnamese have reinforced their combat forces in South Vietnam withroops in eight regimentsfive AAA, anan artillery,apper regiment. Only three of the unitsthe artillery and two AAA regimentsdeployed directly into South Vietnam from the north; the remainderinto the country from southern Laos and Cambodia. The five AAA regiments and the infantry regiment deployed into the western part of South Vietnam as partontinuing effort to enhance North Vietnamese defensive positions against South Vietnamese air and ground operations along the Communists' logistic corridor. These AAA regiments increased total post cease-fire air defense deployments toAA regiments, totaling0 men.
These augmentations, however, were offset by thefrom northern South Vietnam since3 ofB Infantry Division, an independent infantry, and three AAA These withdrawals total0 troops. Earlier
3 two other infantryththalso redeployed to North Vietnam.
Vietnamese unit deployments in recentbeen aimed at reinforcing the central highlands of MR 2.
During August and September, thed Division with0 troops deployed from Binh Dinh to Kontum and Pleiku provinces in order to supportd Divisioninto Conciunist territory west of Kontum and Pleiku cities. In November and December, thed Division with0 man deployed to Quang Due Province to counter the growing Comnunist threat, ineorganization of the Ranger Command was corpleted in January and six ranger battalions inere deployed tond 1.
* ARVN oontxng-emu plans, foe example, oall for the redeployment of the 9th 'divisionn the eventajor offeneive in Hh S.
Within North Vietnam thereotalnd training divisions, the same number that was there prior to2 offensive. Pour ofth,thin the past have alwaysome defense and training role. Tho remaining six divisions, with00 troops, comprise Hanoi's strategic reserves which can readily deploy out of country (sec Strategic Reserve map). or ox-ample, Hanoi committed seven strategic reserve divisions to South Vietnam, four of which are still there. This sizable drawdown in its reserves led to the creation of one newdivision,B innd the regeneration of an oldstin the spring
Hanoi alsoajor new tacticalin Thanhrovince The new headquarters has three identified subordinate infantryth,th,B, all withdrew from South Vietnam last yearplus artillery, armor, and engineer elements. The now headquarters consolidates and improves the command and control over Hanoi's strategic reserve forces in North It would also facilitate multi-divisional redeployment to South Vietnam if Hanoi decided to resume major military action. edeployment to northernould be accomplished with little advance warning.
The South Vietnamese strategic reserves consist of tho Airborne and Marine Divisions, plus three ranger groups, totalling0 troops. Theseowever, are all committedthe airborne and marines tond the rangers tond 3. In an offensive, the South Vietnamese would be forced to redeploy their reserves or other forces* to the critical areas.
NVA and ARVN Command anO Control
Besides rebuilding their combat forces numerically, the Communists and South Vietnamese each have continued to improve their command and control structures to meet the changing prioritiesease-fire environment. Above the division level, there are few close similarities between the North and South Vietnamese armies. In both cases, however, formal lines of control runigh command directly to the MRs. The South Vietnamese MR commander normally exercises tactical control over all ground forces within his region. The Communist MR commander has the same authority, but in some cases there are separate front headquarters within the Communist MR which are directly subordinate to the high In this case, the front headquarters supersedes the MR commander's tactical authorityiven area within the MR.
At the division level and below, however, North and South Vietnamese command and control organizations are similar. ivision, they both have support battalions attached to the division headquarters and three infantrywith three maneuver battalions each, in addition,to Table of Organization both have an artilleryor equivalent as an organic part of the division. While the South Vietnamese division has an organic armored cavalry squadron, the Communist divisions do not. In the past. North Vietnamese armor has been attached only temporarily topecific mission.
20. he North Vietnamese apparently continued to receive Soviet and Chinese military imports, possibly in
and armor have been shipped into North Vietnam during the past
21. In addition to the above items, the North Vietnamese have also received some additionalquipment from the Soviet Union since the cease-fire.* With the exception of theissile system, however. North Vietnam is not known to have added any major weapons systems to its arsenal since the_cease-fi re.
|But some imports are clearly continuing to be received oy Hanoi, and these should.be sufficient to replenish, at least partially, the drawdown in stockpiles from supplies sent by North Vietnam to its forces in the South.
Communist Construction Activities
The Communist-controlled areas of South Vietnam have changed radically owing to post cease-fire construction activity. They are linked to North Vietnamreatly improved logistic system. The "liberated" areas are no longer just remote bases hidden under jungle canopy and served by foot and bicycle paths-In many cases, they haveeries cf strongholds unitedet of new motorable roads, and some of them are supported by new petroleum pipelines and coastal transshipment points. There is at least one SAM-defended airfield.
In order to consolidate territorial gains, the North Vietnamese moved swiftly after the3 cease-fire to upgrade their transport system in southern Laos and "liberated" areas of South Vietnam. ystem of interconnecting roads tying the scattered enclaves together to permit rapid developmentuildup of heavy weapon defenses was the most important
development. By earlyhe first phase of this access roadnet was completed. Communist vehicles can now move with relative impunity from depots in North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to front lines in MRs, and 3. The keystone of this developing road system is the ongoingof two separate parallel north-south truck routes, one leading along the western GVN border (Communistnd another extending through southern Laos.*
The two separate north-south road systems, located on either aide of the Annamite Mountains bordering Laos and South Vietnam, apparently were built to mitigate the effects of the varying monsoon rainy seasons, and to permit morevehicle access between major Communist base areas and North Vietnam. During the summer monsoon season in Laos, for example, vehicles could shift to the route throughSouth Vietnam, and then during the fall and early winter months transfer back to the Laos system.
The onset ofry seasoneasonal and expected shift in Coirmunist construction activity. An accelerated tempo developed on the new dual lane system
in southern Laos, and work slackened on LOCs and facilities in northern and central portions of South Vietnam where wet weather prevailed.
from US air attack, the North Vietnamesetheir construction efforts on building acorridor through the Laos Panhandle while
Iwitn the exception ofr, wmcn
leads intfl me une Sanh military complex, most of the former major roads leading through southern Laos to the Southborder have been abandoned.
North Vietnamese resumed heavy truck trafficLaos during late November accompaniedurgeactivity on the dual-lane road. This roadinto the western highlands and joins Communist Route 14
Construction methods to build these two roads are much different than those used during the bombing period. The alignmente are mostly dual lane to permit two way traffic and passing. Segments are straight, gradee are less step, the roadbeds are well drained, andumber of areas roads have been graveled or oil covered. Consequently the roads recover quiokly from the effects of monsoon rains.
in Kontum Province. The Laotian pipeline system has also been rapidly extended along the path of the new roadbed; byt had reached the tri-border area.
were two major developments associatedRouteystem extending along the western GVNnew major road in southwestern North Vietnam isiles from Mu Gia Pass southward throughuncture with Communist Routeear theCommunist road gangs probably haveoute
ypass road around an ARVN strongpoint at Due Lap in Quang Due Province. This bypass leaves the dual-lane system ten miles north of Due Lap and extends southwest for someiles through the corner of Mondolkiri Province, Cambodia, before joining Cambodian Completion of this bypass road closes the last link needed tolle through-truck route from the North Vietnam border through Laos and the GVN western highlands to the COSVN area.
ry Season Supply Effort
ry season supply effortin full swing. As in the past, itajor effortmore than adequate to replace the supplies consumed byforces. Since early November, for example.in the Vinh area have handled at0 tonstypes or ordnance. In addition,0 tonsper month, mostly foodstuffs, have been shippedHa in northern Quang Tri Province. as been
one of the main entry corridors for supplies entering Laos; since the beginning of the year logistics units operating along this corridor in Quang Tri Province have shipped or stored possibly as much0 tons of cargo.
from this area into Laos havaheavy traffic along the Communists' dual-lane road. almost, daily aerial reconnaissance of thesupply corridor in Laos has shown an averagehundred trucks moving south. Unlike pastVietnam has been able to ship supplies the lengthLaos Panhandle without having to shuttle suppliesthe threat of aerial interdiction.
During theb period/ on"B-
logistics unit in Laos reported handlingons of caroo.ons of ordnance. In early February,
plans to move0 tons of cargo from
suucnern Laos into therea. This cargo, apart of which is probably ordnance, is destined primarily forront and COSVN areas of South Vietnam.
support the heavier supply shipments inhas redeployed major rear services elements from As early asanoi transferredregimentsommo-1iaison regimentVietnam into Laos to prepare for the dry seasonJanuary, elements of three additional transportationwhich had been in South Vietnam were identifiedthe main supply corridor in the Laos Panhandle. two majornd Hqs.have relocated to supportlogistics push. The Hqs.eployed outSouth Vietnam into southern Laososition about
iles southwest of Ban Bac along the dual-lane corridor, similarly, Hqs.oved someiles northwardocation near theront in Kontum Province.
services units probably will continue tothrough southern Laos into South Vietnam fortoront and COSVN areas via Communist Routeaddition, the North Vietnamese can be expected tosupply shipments into northern South Vietnam onroutes, once the dry season takes hold in that area. the Communists' resupply efforts will have placedin an even stronger supply situation.
the cease-fire, the RVNAF logistics systemsignificant progressmoving from completethe US military toward self-reliance in theand stockpiling of supplies. Afor handling overall supply requisitioning iscompletion and will further improve the receiptof military equipment. arge number oftechnicians have been trained to replace the US
military personnel who departed shortly after the cease-fire. South Vietnamese Airforce (VNAF) airlift operations, which play an essential role in South Vietnam's supply distribution system, are currently providing sufficient supplies to aboutRVN outposts that are inaccessible by land LOCs. The RVNAF still remains dependent upon us contract personnel for aircraft maintenance and the operation of port facilities.
supplies are available to Southcontinue meeting RVNAF's logistic requirements atrates. Because of US budget constraintspast year, however, ammunition and other militarynot been replaced on the one-for-one basis permitted
by the cease-fire agreement. esult, stocks are being drawn down from their3 level. Supplies of ground ammunitioncurrently atercent of the quantityat the time of the cease-fireare equivalentonths' supply at current expenditure rates, butonths' supply at rates expended during2 Air munitions stocks are more plentiful, equal toonths' supply at current expenditure ratesonths' supply2 offensive levels. Current gross POL inventory is aboutays of supply at the consumption rate0 barrels daily, the amount required to combat an NVA offensive. The POL, however, is providedontract basis, which would allow sufficient POL during an offensive, but which must be paid by US funding.
RVNAF stockpiles of weapons and other military equipment are adequate for its force structure, and the RVNAF currently has more and better aircraft, armor, and artillery toorth Vietnamese offensive than it didufficient amounts of materiel, however, would not be on hand to replace heavy combat losses unless US stocks were made available. Stocks of in-country repair parts are adequate in most cases for six months' supply at present consumption rates.
Although the RVNAF logistics system is capable of coping with the present level of tacticalorth Vietnamese countrywide offensive would present major problems. It is doubtful that the system could handle the infusion and distribution of large quantities of ammunition and equipment necessary to replace expenditures and combat losses. Supply shortages, particularly in POL and ammunition, would soon occur.
RVNAF depends largely on trucks and other vehicles to transport troops and supplies, and its transportation units have performed well in tho past year. The country has an extensive roadnet, but many koy routes are vulnerable to Communist interdiction.
In an offensive, VNAF's air supply capabilities would be deficient. At the current low operational rate of cargo aircraft, vnaf could not carry out an airlift comparable to2 effort without US support. Moreover, only about half of theircraft are normallyat any one time. VNAF, in fact, will be pressed if required to take on many more than ther so areasneeding continual air resupply.
An offensive would also surface shortcomings in the RVNAF sealift capability. The South Vietnamese Navy (VNN) now possesses only six landing ship tanks (LSTs) and other vessels which are inadequate to perform such multiple tasks as relocating major ARVN units and evacuating large numbers of refugees along the coastline of northern South Vietnam. Efforts are underway, however, to increase the VNN's inventory of LSTs.
Other problems may arise from ARVN's failure to develop an effective system of cooperation among theregions in the reallocation of scarce supplies. This failure prevents the rapid transport of critically needed supplies from one MR to another, even when the distance is very short. Finally, it is also uncertain if US civilians now supporting RVNAF in several key areas would remain if heavy fighting developed.
The South Vietnamese still hold an edge inassets over the Communistsountrywide basis. The withdrawal of US airpower coupled with the Northbuildup of armor, artillery, and air defense forces, however, hasajor shift in the firepower balance toward the Communists.
Hanoi's substantial commitment of tanks andin South Vietnam last year raised inventories to the
highest level ever. mm field gun gives the Communists the advantage in long-range artillery in northernnd in some of the other areas where these weapons are Moreover, the sizable buildup of North Vietnamese air defense units, coupled with the general availability of theissile, have served at least partially tofor the GVN's dominance in the air.
The Communists and South Vietnamese are estimated to have roughly the same number of. The Communists have the edge innd the central highlands. Poor armor tactics on the part of the NVA, coupled with the effective use by the South Vietnamese of numerous antitank weapons, however, could offset this advantage, as occurred.
The South Vietnamese artillery units, among RVNAF's best combat forces,arge numerical edge in artillery withmmmm artillery howitzers plusmm field guns. Use of howitzers gives RVNAF effective close ground support, although during an NVA offensive RVNAF could be handicapped by resupply constraints. The North Vietnamese are estimated to havemmmm artillery pieces with fewer supply constraints. Because they have fewer howitzers than the GVN, the Communists must rely more on mortars and rockets for their ground support.
There are several factors which at least partly offset the RVNAF's numerical artillery advantage. Forthe Communists have more long-range artillery than the GVN; andmmmm field guns are superior tonm with respect to accuracy, rate of fire, and maintenance requirements. in addition, many cf the North Vietnamese AAA forces, particularly in northern MRre also trained to use their gunsround support role. South Vietnamese combat units are located in fixed positions on key terrain features which would give Communistthe opportunity to concentrate their long-range field guns on these positions. oncentration of firepower might permit the North Vietnamese to achieve significant tactical and territorial gains initially.
The VNAF is capable of significantly augmenting GVN ground firepower in many areas of the country. VNAFttack aircraftet and 49
propeller aircraftwhich can be used for tactical support. These planes are capable of flying about two-thirds of the monthly number of close air support sorties flown by the US and South Vietnamese during2 offensive.
To counter this advantage in the air, the North Vietnamese have built up within South Vietnam their most formidable air defense structure of the war. This structure currently consists ofegimentsAA and one SAM)0 men. There areegiments in MR 1, at lease three in western MRnd two in northern MR 3. The AAA weapons of these regiments range upmm in caliber. This forceerious threat to VNAF which has been reluctant to operate near concentrated North Vietnamese air defense positions.
North Vietnam also has the ability to conduct air operations ino achieve air superiority there. Currently, Hanoiet fighters capable of such operations, although only about one-fifth of these could be committedustained basis. These planes could be staged from any of the fivecurrently capable of handling jet aircraft in the North Vietnamese Panhandle.* (see strategic Reserve map.) Aircraft flown from the southernmost airfield at Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam, however, would greatly reduce the South Vietnamese warning and reaction times and give the North Vietnamese aircraft maximum time over target.
In the event Hanoi did commit its aircraft to the South, the North Vietnamese air force would be particularly strong in air-to-air combat. They have experienced pilots, along with high quality radar and air controllers. In terms of providing close air support, however, the North Vietnamese pilots are inexperienced, and probably would encounter problemsattack operations with ground units.
52. In contrast, the South Vietnamese pilots are highly qualified in close air support operations but have no air-to-air combat experience. VNAF has had no combat experience in ground control intercept operations, and its skill at actual
* The airfield at Khe Sanh in western Quang Tri Provincet South Vietnam, could be made available ae an emergency recovery base, but it is not now capable of sustaining jet aircraft ope rations.
intercept operations is probably marginal. VNAF also would have difficultyround attack role in northern MRiven the proliferation of AAA weapons andissiles there. Except for theunship, VNAF aircraft are not equipped with radar homing and warning equipment and have no jamming capability against electronically-controlled AAA guns andissiles.
53. VNAF air-to-air capabilities, however, will be improved somewhat this spring. The first shipments of the higheret aircraft began arriving in March as replacements for; thequadron will be activated in May. aster, more maneuverable aircraft than, with improved electronics equipment and greater range or bomb load capacity. VNAF's mainhowever, will continue to be the lack of trained, zombat-expcrienced pilots, plus the lack of sufficient ground support equipment.
STATUS OF NORTH VIETNAMESE AND SOUTH VIETNAMESE INFANTRY DIVISIONS
The North Vietnamese
ighting force, the Communists are generally tough, disciplined, tenacious fighters. For the most part, the cadre are politically reliable and dedicated to the Communist cause. within Communist units has generally been good, although the cumulative attrition caused by the war haseavy toll of experienced military cadre. The Communists also have enjoyed the advantage of usually being able to choose the time and place to launch military action. This has allowed them to position forward suppliesattlefront and to make detailed plans of attack.
The Communists, however, also have their shortcomings. For example, although they made initial gains in the heavy fighting in South Vietnamhey failed to exploit these gains and therefore lost their offensive momentum. The Communists frequently failed to coordinate effectively armor, artillery, infantry, and air defense forces. In addition, the North Vietnamese had alack of experience in using various forces in combined actions, and the attacking Communist units suffered severe Iossbs from L'S bombing and the heavy combat.
As the offensive continued and losses soared, other deficiencies began to surface within the Communist military Troop discipline weakened, and there were instances of low morale. The loss of experienced leadership often forced the Communists to promote troops with practically no formal military training up through the ranks to leadership positions. While these troops possessed combat experience, it resulted in cadre not knowing how to react to rapidly changing battlefield situations. Moreover, the quality of troop replacements arriving from North Vietnam was seriously degraded due to the shortened basic training cycle and immediate integration into combat units.
Vietnamese propaganda since the cease-fireCommunists are aware of these shortcomings. Trainingthe North and South have been expanded, and they nowa greater extent on preparing troops and cadre to fightwar with mixed forces. In last year's fightingDue and Pleiku provinces, for example, the Communistsarmor, artillery, and AAA forces effectively. Communists haveear to rest and refit. Thus,have not overcome all their shortcomings, it is likelyCommunists have made progress in improving theirstatus.
The South Vietnamese
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF)the largest, roost well-equipped force in In the year since the cease-fire and withdrawal ofthe RVNAF has proven capable of defending Indeed, in the fighting over the past year, thehave generally been able to prevail over thethe GVN now controls slightly more people and territory than
it did at the time of the Paris agreement.
RVNAF, however, continues to face problems. arge degree from Inexperience inarge force structure. Other difficultieslow troop morale problems, corruption, and lack ofcooperation Efforts are currently under way withinof the RVNAF to cope with these problems. logistic operations are being improved through commandincreased training. Logistics and maintenance, however,toroblem in RVNAF with the continued requirement
of US civilian technical support. Efforts are also underway to improve RVNAF troop morale, but these are hindered by inflation and extended deployment of units in areas distant from homes and families.
such problems, ARVN commanders have shownadaptable in operating against Communist forcessing their available firepower assets. small part of this has included learning to operate withoutsupport. Additionally, ARVN infantry divisions havetraining over the last year, mostly by rotatingbattalions through division or national trainingeven more ambitious program is scheduled this calendar year.
VNAF intelligence services provide good information on in-country Communist activities, although certain problems continue to restrict their capability.
The VNAF has assigned sixnd fourophoto intelligence. The camera systems on theowever, have only limited utility and theannot operateAA environment.
Most RVNAF intelligence resources are expended on in-country collection. For early warning of Communist preparations toajor offensive, such as troop and logistic build-up or unit redeployments, the RVNAF is heavily dependent on US intelligence collection.
North Vietnamese Infantry Divisions
In North Vietnam
division currently is garrisoned inth is considered one of North Vietnam'sdivisions, andt spearheaded theSouth Vietnam's northern MRfter sufferingthe division returned to North Vietnam in Januaryprior to the cease-fire. Since then, it has beenextensive training and is now at full strength.
ivision and its three regimentsgarrisoned in Vinh Phu Province northwest of Hanoi. was formed in Thanh Hoa Province inhere untilhen it moved to the The division originally had four regiments, two of which
were deployed toh to north Laos in2 andnd to south Laos in h Regiment, however, was resubordinated inoth Division and returned to North Vietnam with the division innd withdrew from Laos in late Neitherhnd Regiment is known to have participated in any significant combat operations while in Laos. B is currently operating at full strength.
division is located in its traditionalof North Vietnam's Thanh Hoa Province and has beenand training since th operated9 tohen it returned to Northa brief period of rest, it infiltrated SouthTri Province innd suffered heavy casualtiesfighting southwest of Quang Tri City. The divisionto North Vietnam in the spring3 and is now at
h Division has been fighting in During its tenure there, the divisionfunctioned essentially as an administrativedid not serveajor tactical authority for itsinfantry regiments. InB Division was sent to reinforce battle-wearyunits in the Plaine des Jarres area and wastoth Division in In Decemberdivision headquarters and two of its three regimentsto Nghe An Province in North Vietnam where they arelocated. The third regiment of the division continues tonorthern Laos.
division currently is located in Thanh HoaNorth Vietnam. It deployed to northernn the springand was responsible along with theth Division defense of Quang Tri city. After the GVN recaptured thedivision pulled back to the DMZ area where it continueduntil its withdrawal to North Vietnam in the unit is believed to have been refitting and training.
t Division was reactivated with twoNorth Vietnam in the spring3 and is garrisonedQuang Binh Province. The division hadfrom the DMZ area to North Vietnam's Nghe Anthe, but appears to have been dissolved Inthird infantryQuang Tri Province of south Vietnam. The currentthe division is unclear, but its location would permitdeployment to northernith almost no advance warning.
In Laosth Division
division was established in2 inlargely from existing North Vietnamese units. Prior tothe division was tasked with securing Communistand protecting North Vietnamese infiltration routesPanhandle. During the year following the cease-fire,remained generally in-place andow-profilerefitting mode. Inowever, theseasoned regimenthe 9threlocated to theof South Vietnam to provide additional security for
the Communists' new western supply corridor. Since then, there have been indications that other elements of the division also may relocate to South Vietnam.
In South Vietnam
NVA First Division
division has operated along the Cambodianthe provinces of Chau Doc and Kien Giang ofinceoffensive. Its primary mission is to secureleading into the delta from Cambodia. of its three regiments apparently were dissolved, thusthreat to the GVN in the area. The remaining regimentoperate in Kien Giang Province.
NVA Second Division
operating area of the division has been Quangofince The division last summer
egiment toth Division in Quang Tin Province and another regiment to the NVA 3rd Division in MBhe 2nd Division has now been reduced to one reinforced regiment operating southwest of Quang Ngai City.
NVA Third Division
Dinh Province ofas been theoperating area. Because of heavy2egiment of the divisioninnd replacedegiment from theDivision in MR 1. The division is now resting andthree understrength regiments in northwest Binh Dinhis reportedly having serious morale problems.
NVA Fifth Division
division which has historically operated in MRto Dinh Tuong Province ofhere it operatedto3 before returning to Tay Ninh Province3. Since that time it has been resting and refitting,the same time, attempting to secure Communist territoryTay Ninh Province. The divisionhreat toCity and GVN-controlled areas near indications that at least one regiment of the division mayto Dinh Tuong Province,
NVA Seventh Division
7th Division has been resting andince the cease-fire. The mission of theto protect Communist-controlled territory nearuong Province and to attack targets in GVN areas. cease-fire, heavy artillery weapons and tanks havethe division's operating area from North Vietnam,units with greater firepower support thanajor threat to GVN forces andof Saigon.
NVA Ninth Division
division currently operates in western Binhinnd has not seen major combat activity fora year. It was refitted3 andajor
threat to the northern approaches to Saigon. The division's combat capability also has been enhanced by the deployment of additional armor and heavy artillery to its area of operations
NVA Tenth Division
10th Division was organized inrovince ofrom independent combatunder theront. The division hascountered GVN thrusts into Communist territory northCity since August and September. The division isconsiderably understrength, but it has beento upgrade the quality of its personnel.
divisionong history of combat inand is currently deployed in western Quang TriMR 1. It has not seen combat since mission is to maintain control ofnorth of the Thach Han River, including the Kheand North Vietnamese logistics facilities along Combat units of the division have conducted extensivefor the past year and are now probably at full strength.
h Division is located in westernnd is successfully defending Communist areas against The division's regiments are currentlythe cease-fire, the division has conducted extensiveimprove its command and control and upgrade leadership.
ivision is one of the mostin the North Vietnamese Army. Since thethe division has been resting and refitting inThien Province and is now estimated to be at fullit has been conducting an extensiveGVN military installations in the coastal lowlands of The division now controls two artillery andregiments in Thua Thien Province west of Hue. Its
mission in recent months has been to secure Communist areas in the western part of the province and open infiltration routes into the coastal lowlands.
h Division is located in northeasternProvince of MR 1. The division's mission is tofor Dong Ha City and the Cua Viet logisticsalso maintains an active reconnaissance of GVNnear Quang Tri City. It has not experienced combat
for moreear and is at full strength. th Division successfully defended the Cua Viet and Thach Han river lines against heavy attacks by the South Viotnamese Airborne and Marine Divisions in
divisionnear full strengthoperates inProvince ofith the mission of protectingfacilities and infiltration routes southwestnits of the. division were suffering frommorale, and leadership problems. Consequently,
one regiment was deactivatedegiment of the NVA 2nd Division was resubordinated to the division in The division has been resting, refitting, and conducting extensive training for moreear.
South Vietnamese Infantry Divisions ARVN First Division
division is primarily responsible forterritory west of Hue and is one of the best Two of its four infantry regiments havemanpower losses in recent months because of malaria andactivity. The current shortage of experiencedthe division is being corrected by the implementationand company-level refresher training programs.
ARVN Second Division
current mission of the division is toin GVN-controlled areas of Quang Tin and Quang Ngai
provinces and to deny the Communists access to Quang Ngai City. Territorial forces and ranger units have been upgraded towith the division's infantry regiments, improving the defense of the populated lowlands. Since the cease-fire, the division has eliminated some pockets of Communist resistance in thewhile concurrently rotating its infantry battalions for refresher training.
ARVN Third Division
division has largely recovered from its Aorilin Quang Tri Province of MR 1. In the fallrecaptured extensive territory in theof Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces. Thetask is to provide security for major populationDanang and to protect principal ARVN installations and For moreear, combat activity has beenlow, contributing to high moraleignificantin the strength of the division's combat units.
ARVN Fifth Division
division is one of the government's poorest units.
It has sustained heavy combat losses in attempting to reopen Routesnd IA in Binh Duong Province ofast summer and serious morale problems continue. Currently, the 5th Division commander is attempting to reorganize understrength units and improve theombat effectiveness. The division isefensive posture, deployed in base camps astride Routesnd IA. In late March/early April, the division is scheduled to be withdrawn for training, and the responsibility for its area of operations is to be assumed by theh Division.
ARVN Seventh Division
Tho 7th Division is deployed in Dinh Tuong Province ofith the mission of protecting GVN installations andareas alongetween My Tho and Sa Dec cities. In recent months, the division has successfully executed several combat operations near traditional Communist infiltration routes and base areas in Dinh Tuong and Kien Tuong provinces. The division is well led, highly mobile, and is the most effective combat unit in MR 4.
AHVII Ninth Division
9th Division is primarily responsible forinfiltration routes from Cambodia through theof Chau Doc, Kien Giang, Chuong Thien and Dinhdivision is now slightly understrength because ofpersonnel replacement problems. The Joint General Staffdesignated the division as part of the General Reserve, andmove tof the Communistseneral offensive.
18th Division has developed into the best MR It has primary responsibility for defendingand GVN lines of communication north of Saigon. has been scheduled to replace the ARVN 5thBinh Duong Province with the mission of openingong Province. Morale is high in the division andare known toood rapport with the localthe division is overstrength and recently was ordered
to discontinue recruiting. There has been an increase in security because of its aggressive combat operations in conjunction with territorial forces. The division possesses good leadership and conducts regular rotational training of all combat units.
division is deployed in the southern delta withof protecting populated areas. Although itshas been reinforced by territorial forces, the divisionto be the weakest of the three GVN divisions in MR 4. not made significant progress in opening new territoryor closing Communist supply and infiltrationdivision continues to be characterized by poor leadershiplevels of command.
36. The traditional area of operation for the division is in Binh Dinh Province where it was routed by the NVA 3rd Division in the opening phase of2 offensive. The division recovered, however, and by the start of the cease-fire had recaptured most of its lost territory. The division is now deployed in Kontum and Pleiku provinces where it has primary responsibility for defending the provincial capitals. For the past few months, the division, reinforced by rangers and territorial forces, has been
unsuccessful in its operations into Communist baso areas inprovinces. The operations have been costly in termslosses: two regiments are now considered only
division is now operating in Quang Dueprovinces ofnd has the mission ofagainst Communist base areas along theVietnam border. The former operating area of theKontum and Pleiku provinces where it successfullyNghia in the fall Because of combat sinceit is judged to be marginally effective.
division is currently at full strength andmission of defending Tay Ninh City and protecting Routes1 to Saigon. h Division is augmented byand this combined force proved to be2 offensive. The division is nowtraining.
Airborne Division is one of the GVN's most Although the division has been deployed in, it continues to be part of the JGS Generalthe cease-fire, airborne units havetaticposture in Thua Thien Province. The division has somebecause of economic hardships faced by families ofpersonnel living in the distant Saigon-Bion Hoa area. has been alleviated somewhat by rotatingto Saigon. Individual and unit refresheregular basis and unit manning levels are at
Marine Division has distinguished itself asmotivated, well-disciplined, and aggressively-led Although still part of the JGS General Reserve, the
division represent Province of MRterritorial forces lowlands of Quang defensive mission, morale because of of units to Saigon populated areas* authorized levels
the GVN's main line of defense in Quang Tri Combat units of the division, supportedre defending Quang Tri City and the coastal Tri and Thua Thien provinces. Despite its the division has maintained excellent troop refresher training programs, frequentnd effective civic action programs within Current manning levels have surpassed and recuriting has been temporarily suspended.
41. wo-phase plan for the reorganization of ranger units was completed in January. The Ranger Command now hasanger groups. Three groups, however, have been designated part of the JGS General Reserve. The Rangers presently augment GVN forces in the MRs. The combat performance of many ranger units has been less than satisfactory becauseack of equipment, poor training, and poor discipline. To alleviate theseoncerted effort is underway to improve individual and unit training.