this estimate is submitted by the director of central intelligence and concurred in by the united states intelligence board.
The following intelligence organisations participated In the preparation of the estimates
The Control Intelligence Agency and ths intelligence org an liationt ai theof Slate and Detente, and ihe NSA.
The Deputy Director of Control Intelligence
The Director of hrtelllgenee ond Reteoreh. Department of State The Director. Detente li^hgence Agency The Director, National Security Agency
The Auiitant General Monoger, Atomic Energy Comrruwlon, and the AstfeJont io the Director, Federal Bureau of Inveitigotion, the tubftct being ouhJde ofnd^io-.
SOUTH VIETNAM: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
HE PRESENT SITUATION
II. GVN PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS THROUGH
Strategy and United
III. MAJOR PROBLEMS OVER THE LONGER
Nature of the Communist Threat .
Capabilities tn Deal with the Communist Threat
Changing South Vietnamese Society
"X" Factor: The Question of
SOUTH VIETNAM: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
The US military presence in South Vietnam will be reduced toy the end1 and even further by the endut it is assumed in this paperS military support effort will be maintained2 along with substantial amounts of USassistance. As the US disengages militarily, however, the non-coiiniiiiiiist forces in Soulh Vietnam will face the lest of dealingariety of challenges largely on their own. This Estimate assesses the major problems which will confront the Saigon government in the future as the US reduces its presence and which, depending on how they are met, will largely determine South Vietnam's prospects through the.
outlook in South Vietnam for the remainderood. The past three years havearked improvement in security conditions,progress iu Victiianiization. Meanwhile, communistin supporting the insurgency have mounted. Thoughstrength remains substantial, particularly in themost of the available evidence suggeststhemonths orwill continue to rely essentially on thetactics observed over the past year. Whileof larger scale military activity seem almost certain,tlie north, any such activity in South Vietnam would probablyin area and duration.
the political front, the odds in tlie presidentialppear tohieu victor)'- His re-electioncourse,andate for continuing to oppose thealong present lines. But even the election of the moreMinh would not necessarily lead to any major shift into the struggle, if only because the South Vietnamesewould compel Minh to be extremely circumspect in anythe communists. As for Hanoi, the defeat of Thieu wouldtempting opportunity to feel out South Vietnamese sentimentthe war.
2 are less clear. The approaching UScoupled with continued drawdowns of US troop strengthVietnam, make it probable that Hanoi will elect to step upactivity bye do not envisage an effort toin scale or intensity8 Tct offensive. We wouldgeneral increase in the level of communist activity with sharpa few selected areas, most likely the northern provinces andregion of South Vietnam. The aim of this strategy would betactical victories likely to impact adversely on the Southand US will to persist in thetoVietnamizatlon program and to encourage sentiment in thecomplete disengagement from the war. There arc practicalto what the communists could accomplish militarilyin South Vietnam, aud we do not believe that they wdl bereverse the military balance there.
lhe same lime, there seems little doubt that thecontinue to maintain an active military and politicalthe GVN wellhe question in their mind is howwhat level tlie campaign should be prosecuted. Much wouldHanoi's view of the remaining US presence and commitmentand on what balance Hanoi struck in its willingness toinvesting resources in the struggle. There are risks andin any course which Hanoi might contemplate: anexploit the drawdown of US forceseturn to large-scaletoourse not unlike that of the past twourely guerrilla struggleuch lower level. Inas it views developments in Laos and Cambodia, Hanoicalculate tbat it can maintain forces on South Vietnameselong as necessary to sap Saigon's will to continue the struggle.
attempting to cope with the communist military threat,forces will probably require substantial US supportyears. ARVN lacks the logistical system and technologicalskills required to maintain andodernThere arc also serious personnel problems, including aqualified leadersropensity for enlisted ranks to desert.of leadership and morale are even more severe in theand village militia, key elements in the campaign lo control
major clement in Hanoi's ability to stay the course inis the apparent durability of the communist partyThe apparatus has been hurt, severely in some areas, but refew high-level communist cadres have been eliminated asof direct GVN action against them. The communists havetoiable organization, and this is likelyhe case for the foreseeable future.
addition to the threat posed by the communists, thehave to cope with internal problems. These include meetingdemandsociety in the process of change. Aurban slum population has been created andargetagitation, while the rural populace looks increasingly toto meet its growing needs. In the economic sphere,simply will not be able to satisfy the demands of this "revolution
of rising expectations" from its own resources. The political impact of (lie changing South Vietnamese society is less easily defined. But the regime is likely to find itselfith rising nationalism, often manifested as anti-Americanism. In tlie future, there is also likely tohiftore traditional Vietoarnese pattern of aexecutive authority, although the major elements of the present constitutional system arc likely to lie retained.ystem might resultore efficient government, but the regime might also rely increasingly on its coercivehereby leading to instability and risking political disintegration.
the longerritical factor in South Vietnam'swill be the will of the Soulh Vietnameseeople and asto sustain tlie struggle against the (ximmiinists. Asproceeds, the South Vietnamese will have to cope with tlieand face the country's problems largely on their own.thus far suggest that they arc responding reasonably wellchallenge. But there is no way to determine howew years hence when the US is much further along thedisengagement.
it is impossible at this time tolear-cutSouth Vietnam's prospects through the. Thereformidable problems and no solid assurances over thistime. In our view, the problems facing tlie GVN, theSouth Vietnam about the magnitude, nature, and duration ofsupport, doubts concerning the South Vietnamese will loresiliency of the communist apparatus in South Vietnam, anddemonstrated ability and willingness to pay the priceare such that the longer term survival of the GVN ismeans yet assured.
I. THE present SITUATION
Over the part three years. South Vietnam has made substantial progress. Ibc rxrform-aoce of tbeltVN; has improved steadily; it has assuutcl the bulk of theighting responsibility without any appreciable decline in territorial socunty. Indeed, in this period, the Government nf South Vietnam (GVN) has extended its control, or at least its access, to most of the country's territory and almost all of its population.esult, people's confidence in the government has incieasod, particularly in lhc rural areas.
A moie stable political situation has also evolved in South Vietnam. Politicalhas broadened greatly, and all major groups have atiece of tbeif not in the executive branch, then in the legislature or atThe regime apparently values the aura of legitimacy tbat accrues from operatingonstitutional basis, and must political elements, including the key military leaders, show no disposition to cliallcHge the govi-timunt fioiitully. To most groups, tho gains lo bn derived irom working within the system appear lo outweigh the costs anil risks of effort* to overturn it. In addition, the government's administrative structure has improved, makingore vigorous andttack on tbe country's problem* Overall, there isforward inornetitum in South Vietnam today, and an air of cautious optimismmany sectors of the
s for the Vietnamese communists,tbe past yew their mlbtary/politicaliu tl* countryside has been further eroded. comidcrably in *onv areas, and their forces have continued to suffer substantial casualties despite lower levels of combatCaptured documents continue todifficulties in the communist effort to strengthen the party's conirol apparatus. Nor has Hanoi been able to itchtirve decisive results on (lie political front. Despite surges uisentiment In the US, the administration
been able to pursue Vietnanuzadoneliberate pace, thus dimming any hopes that Hanoi may have liad ol winning concessions from the US in the near term. Tlie turn of events in Cambodia and southern Laos has compounded communist problems in South Vielnam, requiring Hanoi to divert energy and manpower toward reconstituting andlogistical routes. The loss of sanctuaries and the widened area of conflict havecomplicated the communist situation in South Vietnam, Hanoi also has problems on the home front, where economicand development continue to beto the requirements of the war. Morale problems have resulted as manpower losses in the South have increasingly been brought home to the North Vietnamese
tbe war is far from over.difficulties, the communists retainmilitary capabilities throughoutAs their recent performance indemonstrates, they can still fightthey choose to do so. Meanwhile,disciplined communist parlyin South Vietnam gives themin adapting to changingas the US withdraws, existingin South Vietnamese governmentwill tend to surface, requiringin Saigon to basic problemsstability and national development.
II. GVN PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS1
A. PoliticalOctober Election
the next order of business, themust settle the question ofleadership for the nest severalprocess will comeead in tbeelection now scheduled for' The election will lest public acceptance of Thicu's stewardship and, to some degree, the strength of the system of government now pievailing in South Vietnam.
The Thieu government's image with the electorate is at best gray. Inability to bring peace, the military's large role in government, corruption, economic problems, and the CVN's extensive dependence on US support all will cost Tlueu votes. Even so, Thieu seems to lw the front runner at this time. He has. first of all, tremendous assets at bis disposal. Thieu can utilize available governmental andpersonnel and funds to propagandize for his candidacy and to get out the vote. His control of the massive governmentaland security apparatus and hissupport within the military establishment probably assurearge number of votes from these sectors. Finally, be has worked hard in recent years to broaden his appeal io the rural population; the land reform pro-gram and the improved security conditions In the countryside should serve to bolster his standing among the peasantry.
Thieu's Opposition. Thieus majorcurrently appears to be Duonginh, though he may ultimately decide not to run. Minh's appeal hasen tested at the polls, but heational figure and appears toavorable image throughout much of the couutry. And despite his ineffective performance during his three months as Chief of. Minh apparently retains some support within the military and administrative establishments. Tlie An Quang Buddhists, despite certain reservations, are also likely to throw their con-
' Elections for thn lower Home will loir plan" In August. Although Ihew eletfttnt nuty piovide dim to thr way th" political winds ate blowing in South Vietnam, they nit? moic likely tn reflect local totes and peisoualitits.
siderable influence behind his candidacy.ho ispeacenik" nor anti-Amcrican, Minh would probably pull aproportion of tbe pro-pcaCe and aiiti-US vole. More Important. Minh should also gain the hulk of the anti-administrationvote. Finally, Minh might be the recipient of whatever votes the communists couldthough there are uo indications that they believe Minh would willingly serveends.
S. Minh so far has stuck to platitudes about national unity under his leadership; his stand On major issues lias been vague. He blames Thieu for inflation in South Vietnam, but has not indicated how he would handle the problem. He lias identified himself moreess wiih groups espousing peace sentiments, but he has not come forth with any specific proposals for settlement of Ibe war. He seems to believe that he could out maneuver the communists and hasess bellicose stand than Thieu against their participation in the political process, but he bas ruled out lhe possibilityoalition arrangement. He has been in contact with most ma|or political elements in South Vietnam, but has made no firm tot limit inputs to any. Many people,some of his supporters, haveas to whether Minh will run and whether he could provide adequate leadership,in the period when the US isfrom South Vietnam.
ft Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky isotential candidate. Although he has notdeclared himself in the race, he isabout for political support and isvocal In his criticism of Thieu and his policies. Ky, however, docs not appear toajor power basearge popularand would appear to have litlle chance of winning the election. Thus, it is possible that his current maneuvering is designed to enhance his bargaining power and that be will not actually ran. But if he docs, Ky's candidacy willomplicating factor in the election. He would probably cut into Thieu's support among the military; since he seems to be trying toomewhat "dovish" image, Ky could also draw some support away from Mini.
The Communist Role in the Election. The communists would certainly like to see Thieu defeated or at least to discredit the election results in South Vietnam. It ishowever, that they have the capability to do very much either to influence the election's outcome or to disrupt the voting processountrywide basis. Their past performance in this area has been weak, and capturedsuggest that their shortcomings have not yet been overcome. Thus, while thewould attempt to exploit any anti-regime demonstration that occurred, it is doubtful that they could spark significant demonstrations On their Own. Beyond this. Hanoi mightpeace" Initiativethe campaign in an effort to complicate Thieu's position.
But in general Hanoi seems to assume that Thieu will be re-elected and is already denouncing the electionsraud. Even if Minh won, the communists probably would not view his victory asecisive shift in tbe political climate in Iheir favor. Communist hopes in the eventinhwould probably rest moreanthat the GVN would be more inefficient and unstable undcT his leadership thanelief that he would be conciliatory. They might feel outntentions, however, byess bellicose altitude toward the new government and perhaps hyomewhat greater interest in talking with Minh.
Election Prospects. Uncertainties as to trends in Ihe overall military situation over Ibe next few months complicate an election fore-east If, on top of Lam, the
munistsonsiderable show ofstrength over the next few months. Thieu's election prospects might be affected adversely. On the otherenerally low level of communist military action during this period could enhance lhe regimes claims to progress in the military and security fields, and increase 'lTiicu's support in the election.
Another factor in the election campaign will be the South Vietnamese perception of the US posture. Paramount in the minds of many South Vietnamese is the question of whether the election results wouldaffect tlie level ol US support. Most Soulh Vietnamese believe (hat the US favors Thieu staying in office, and this may incline many voters to opt for him in hopes ofcontinued US support. Aware ol such sentiment, Mioh has gone to some lengths toolicy of "neutrality" for the US in the election, stating that unless the USthat it favors no particular candidate, he may not even run since Thieu would be Sure to win. In any event, if the Southpublic came to believe lhat the US was truly neutral or favored someone other than Thieu, his chances of election would probably decline.
All things considered, however, Thieu appears toetter than even chance of winning the election. His control of the governmental apparatus and the financialat bis disposal are advantages difficult to overcome. This knowledge shoulddiscretion on his part and reduce the possibility of blatantly underhanded election tactics by the regime. For their part,esire to unseat Thieu, must of the non-communist opposition elements wouldbe loath to risk undermining the present sysiem by disruptive actions.
If Thieu is re-elected, it will Im- an obvious mandate for continuing along present lines. But Minli also might not departfrom existing policies. He would lace the same problems with basically the same assets as Thieu; arid, ultimately, lie would have to rely on the mililary as the maior prop of his regime. There wouldhance of erosion in governmental effectiveness under Minh as he attempted to put his slamp on the administration, mainly because this wouldcertainlyhake-up iu personnel assigned lo key programs. Minb's policiesthe communists, however, would be the key factor in his hold on power once elected. If be began to assume what the military deemed an overly accommodating posturethe communisls, they would probably warn him tooup would be possible.
revious elections under the Thieuhave appeared to be relatively honest. But lhe stakes are higher than ever before. Tlie country's future is likely to beby developments during the next foureriod in which the South Vietnamese will have to demonstrate that they can fend largely for themselves as the US progressively disengages from Indochina. Ihis couldllie regime's neivousncss about llie Minh candidacy. Kyppearance on thewould increase the uncertainly in Thieu's camp. The regime might conclude that ahonest election was too risky and be tempted to rig the voting. If they did solatant manner, it could inflame theopposition and special interest groups, and tbe regime might find itself faced withand rioting, especially in the cities. Such developments obviously would lessen the prospects for national cohesion over thewin.
B. Economic Problems
illi Ihe help of large infusions of US economic assistance, the South Vietnamese economy has responded relatively well to years of war and military mobilization. Per
capita consumption has remainedviable, and there has been no serious decline in domestic production despite the massive dislocation ot the labor force. In addition,esult of milrtary construction activities. South Vietnam nowevf loped transpoitalioii network and air and port facilities. In the past few years, the agricultural soclur has benefited fromadvances,t-volutionury land reform program has gotten underway.
Nevertheless, there are sltll serious shortcomings in ibe South Vietnamese econ-inns It is far from being self-sustaining, large-scale L'S assistance provides the Im.sufor the economy and will have lo do so fin years to come. And GVN economic policies have perforce largely been concerned with the short-term mililary and nulitiralnf the war, and have slighted the more basic aspects of economic development.
Over the short term, the major problem continues to be the threat of inflation.1tin- regime's recant economic reforms contributedubstantial slowdown in the pace of Inflation, itersistent and serious problem. At Its heart is the massive spending by tlie Vietnamese and US Governments for war-related purposes.t-suit, elfectivc demand has tended to exceed tbe available supply of goods and services. Onlyrrsgram of massise lm|*nts.amed almost totally by tbe US. has the GVN been able lo keep inflation from skyrocketing *
' The Irnrresr In pifors ranged trom ;X> pnicont te .V5 percent ciivli ytor Irani lOBfiKI and amounted toercent in lfl'O. Sincenwrser. thrir hiis Imn almost no tnorl" in busk prion.
' Front tmllwiSrnpncti of foods rose lo ass amass*ntducaIKS OB thekirr becaute of rcoveadlhr minus's tee msjor export
rubhei.poiti amounted to only 4ofata furre no) available.
The availability of imported consumer goods has improved the GVN's image it home, but at the same time it has conditioned the popu la boo lo expect relative abundance in the midst ol war. Tti short, consumer demand has become rathe* sophisticated, svhile the GVN's economic bast! and practices, despite somehave not.
The US troop withdrawal program will tend to complicate the effort lo find solutions to the GVN's ecossofrnc problems Large nnm ben of South Vietnamese workers arc being released by US forces and their contractors. Providing additional jobs in the civilianwould require Increases in production and imports, svhich tu turn svoukl require increased foreign aid. Meanwhile, tbe reduction in US military cxp. mil tores is reducing the GVN's supply of dollars, and hence its own resources for purchasing imports and stimulatinggrowth.
Short-Term Economic Prvsju'ctit. Income distribution will continue to be mi important issue in South Vietnam. In recent years, farmers haveignificant increase in real Income, but llie political will to tax the farmer directly does not seem lo exist Within the urban areas, workers in the private sector have done reasonably well despite some erosion of real income On tho other hand, the civiland militury are much worse off thanyears agoecent wage increase, and their unhappiness could creatr problems for the government io addition to making any systematic attack oo corruption vastly more difficult. Despite this, the GVN rsrobably will not attempt to redistribute incomethrough another government pay hike or by other means in this election year.
Grievances growing out of theof income may causen the months ahead, but are not likely loritical threat lo the CVNs viabilityhe worst of the
gimc's olhct economic problems will continuee alleviated by largo-scale US assistance. Labor dislocations caused by US withdrawals will create some localized problems, but these are not likely to be critical.
C. Militaryond United States' Withdrawals
Communist Military Action in the Near Term. The communists retain significantcapabilities in various parts of Southparticularly in the northerly provinces. Hut in southern South Vietnam, Iheseare severely limited relative to theesult of the loss of the .Sihanonkville supply route, disniption and attrition of the communist support structure in Soulh Vietnam itself, continued airand allied cross-border operations in Cambodia and Laos. The communists recog* nize their weaknesses in South Vietnam and over the past year have been trying to repair Ihe situation. Heavy emphasis has been given to beefing up Ihe uifrastructure, increasing tlie number of "legal" communist cadres who can operate in GVN-controlled areas, andthe South Vietnamese military and security foites. Iu tbe meantime, diehave relied largely on small unit actions, terror tactics, and sabotage in an eflort to conserve forces in anticipation of astruggle.
Most of the available evidence suggests that, for the nexl sU months or so. thewill continue wiih these same basic tactics to husband manpower and resources and to rebuild ilieir position iu theNevertheless, occasional spurts ofmilitary activity will occur and there may be some militaiy pyrotechnics prior to the South Vietnamese presidential election. But Ihe present pattern of communist action in most of the country, the state of readiness of their forces in South Vietnam, thoimposed by their logistic supportand the evidence drawn from captured documents, clandestine reports, anilof communist prisoners and 'allien all suggest that any lieijchtened military activity in Soulh Vietnam overit several months will be lirnrted in arm and duration.
f UiSouthforces are being spread moreeach succeeding US witlidiawal,the weaknesses ol communistwill proliahly be some deteriorationsecurityho combatof ARVN may also sufferUS artillery and helicopter support isBut for tlie next sevei.il months atcritical problems are likely lo develop.the psychological impact of thebas been limited; most Southhave by now adjusted mentally lothat the US will continue to scalemilitary involvement In Vietnam.demonstrated ARYNraise doubts in South Vietnamability lo fill lhe fiap over theas the US ditcngagr* fromdoubt* arc unlikely lo result indeterioration in llie morale ofthe general public
III. MAJOR PROBIEMS OVER IHE LONGER TERM
A. The Nature of the Communist Threat
anoi's approachwar2 will lie conditioned bybaste elements In lhe situation suchUSmprovementspacification situation and In Ihcof South Vietnam's roihtarycotnrrmiuit determination to gainSouth Vietnam. Certain recentparticularly allied operations inCambodia, will also have somethe one hand, tbe communists suffered
heavy casualties in these operations, lost and expended significant quantities of supplies, and had tlielr supply lines disrupted; and this is likely lo impose restrictions on the scale of military action possible during the early slages of2 dry season. Beyond this, allied action or the thicat of action in Laos and Cambodia willontinuing burden on Hanoi to protect and maintain tlie Laos supply routu.
n the other hand, having weathered the recent ARVN cross-border open Horn in ku'li-ni Laos. Hanoi probably fedsmure confident that itwait out tbeof I'S force* and stay the course in Indochina Hanoi's view is probably tempered by the realization that communist forces suffered very heavy casualties in Lamnd benefited from terrain which favored the defense, nv well as from superior numbers in place on the ground. Thedid not provide any solutions to the many problems tlie communists: face In SouthBut from Hanoi's point of view, its forceshreat to ils vital supply lines, andritical setback toupply effort. Hanoi probablylhat AHVN, on it* own. would have great difficulty in mounting further cross-border operation* of this magnitude oner theargely out of the picture.
rven this outlook. Hanoi might opt2ontinuation of Ms basically low-profile military approach in South Vietnam. In the meantime, the communist* wouldtheir cflotts lo prepare the logistical and organizational base neoevsary forong drawn-out struggleeturn to large-unit action once US forces were no longer an important factor in tlie war.
ut there arc other considerations which could lead Hanoi totep-up inactivityot example. Iffortunesharp turn for the worse Iu the months ahead, Hanoi might hope to reverse lhe trend by increasing Its attacks agatuvl AHVN and other government security forces duringry seasonNu.ecision on Hanoi'* part could also come Later2 if Hanoi at that time were coiivtuced that the US was determined to maintain an effective residual presence in South Vietnam far an extended period
f the course ol the war, Hanoi's leaders might seehow of military rnuitclo prior to tbe US election, intended lo demons! rale that Vietnam ization was not working and to fan antiwar sentiment in the US. In their view, the effort could help generate Increasedpressure on the US Administration to disengage completely from the war or. failing this, it might affect the election outcome itself.i might also calculate that the back-ladi in Soulh Vietnam from negative USto adverse battlefield development would work lo communist advantage byUS-South Vietnamese differences.
On balance, we believe that Hanoi will find the arguments for some step-up in its nuhtary activity in Sooth Vietnam persuasive. But this would be likely to differ from Hanoi's present strategy more in degree than in kind Thus, we would not envisage an effort by Hanoi to duplicate In scale or intensity8 Tet offensive. Instead, wceneral increase in tbe level of communist activity with sharp focusew selected areas, most likely the northern provitnes and highland union of South Vietnam The thrust of Uns strategy would be to attempt, with greater delrrmUiation than in recent years, to score tactical victories aimed at imp*cone. ad-vtTwly on the South Vietnamese and US will lo persist in the struggle.
Whether or not the communists initiate such ini leased activity, we do not bellow that diey will lie able to reverse the mililary
balance bi South VU tnamontinuing communist difficulties will impose limits on how much they tan accomplish, andallied pressures during lhe remainder1 and pre-emptive operation* iniy season couldor extensive militaryBut tlie communists are unlikely to be frustraHxl at every turn; there are too many viilnerabihtiei in the South VktnameseFor example, lliec holocicjl unpad in South Vtetnam of increased com muniit rnihtary activity could be ccraiderable. particularly if itwere thought by tbe South Vietnamese- to beaof US resolve'. And evena purely rnihtaryodds seem to favor tlie South Victnainese being able lo contain the communist efforthe GVN will still be facedommimlst military andorganization retaining significant strength and potential.
t this point iu time, there seems little doubt that the communists will continue to mainluin an active challenge to the GVN wellespite continued concern over the Sino-Soviet dispute, Hanoi probably assumes that it will continue tomilitary and economic assistance trom both Moscow and Peking as long asFor its part. Hanoi hu committedmanpower and material resources and has suffered staggering losses In attempting to gain control oi South Vietnam. And while thereti shifts in strategy. Hanoi's will to persist has shown little' indication ofTbe war has beeu going on for over ahasay of life for the communistsurl of their ethos. Any leader in Hanoi who advocated giving up the struggle would risk losing hit position. Indeed, the present communist leadership might find it difficult to contemplate any course other tlian continuation of the struggle even if it meant throwing away additional resourcesasically fruitless effort. The question in Iheir minds is not whether lo continue the struggle, but how and at what level itursued.
The "how" and "at what level" may be as difficult for Hanoi to decide as it is for usstimate at this stage. Much would depend on how Hanoi viewed the remaining USaud commitment to Saigon, on the strength and morale of ARVN at that time, and on what balance Hanoi struck in itsto continue investing resources in tlie struggle. There arc risks and practicalin any course which Hanoi might contemplate.
Assuming that ARVN and tbe territorial forces maintain or improve their capabilities over the next year or so, any communist effort in the period2 lo return lo large-scale mililary action in South Vietnam would involve heavy manpower commitments and oilier strenuous demandsorthpopulation already weary from the cumulative effect* of the war. It would also require,recondition, the maintenance of secure logistic routes to the South and tlie rebuilding of an infrastructure in Southcapable of supporting the operations of main force units in tbe countryside. And, ofarge-scale military effort might fall and put at risk the ability of Hanoi to rebuild its forces once again.
To do too little also involves serious risk. There is no way to be sure what the impactong, tlrasvn-out, low-level struggle would be on communist cadres and lower level elements in South Vietnam. Many of them might in time abandon the effort,the communists unable toredible challenge to local security in South Vietnam. In North Vietnam, the communists might alsoecline in popularlo the struggle.ense, the war is
.in "old man's" war. and whether the younger generation in the North shares the samededication tu tlie reuiuficaoon ot Vietnam as their elder* cannot be determined.
Tbe cornmunuts ma) conclude that their circurosJAnce* at home and in the Southhem little choice bul toiddle course, one not unlike that ol thi! pasl two years, "litis would mean tint the GVN would be lacedontinuing threat from some main force units, particularly innd II.eneralized local security threat posed by highly self-sufficient guerrillas,nd terrorist; throughout thr country. And lhe pobticaL psychological, and uibveruvc struggle would go on at a| loth, of society.
Hanoi can alto hope dial developments in Laos and Cambodia will furtherobjectives in South Vietnam in the years ahead. Tlie communist position in bothparticularly Laos, is stronger than in Soulh Vietnam. In Laos, Hanoi probably calculates that Van* I'no's Men guerrillas arc fading as on effective fighting force, this, coupled witb the possibility lhat the US air rale in Laos may be reduced, could lead Hanoi to foresee the end of any effective indigenous resistance In loos to communist aims. In Camtiodia. on the basis ofthe communists probably foresee little threat to their established positions from Phnom Penh's fighting forces. Thus, Hanoi probably believes that its prospects over the longer term of being able to bold the key logistical routes extending through the Laotian Panhandle and northeastern Cambodia into South Vietnam are good And it maythatoderate level of activity in South Vietnam coupled wiih the permanent threat posed by communiU control of the border areas would In time sap the South Vietnamese will to continue tbe struggle.inimum, Hanoi would espoot tlus situation to impose heavy additional burden* on South Vietnamese forces, both in protecting the Mfinlislone. horder iml in (tnnr, the work of indigenous ant icon irnurnst forces In southern Laos and Cambodia, all the whileot departing US forces in South Vietnam.
b. gvn Capabilities to Deal with the Communist Threat
ilitary and Security Foters. As the US sr.iln ilmvii tts involvement in thi war. flu-South Vietnamese military forces will beto assume increasing rrsporinbibtles iu tbe struggle against the communists. Given in political requirement to provide security to tlie population throughout large portion* of the cnnnliyside, tlie CVN will be lotted toa large military establishment to check communist activity. Progress has been made in preparing the South Vietnamese forces for Ihe lime when tbey are more or less on their own, bul it will be years before the South Victnarm-sc can be serf-sufficient in die mili-tary field
or example, although theignificant capability for in uoutrlry air suppoit, plans are only in the embryonic stage to provide them with ato mount air interdiction efforts against the communiit logistical network in tout hern Laos Further, ARVN has come to rely on helicop*rr support, and current plans callajor reduction in the number ofto remain in South Vietnam as US forces depart. Despite substantialthe GVN's logistical system Is nut yet capable of meeting the large militaryneeds without relying heavily on USSimilarly, rt will be many years before lhe Southmilitary acquires tlie requisite technological and managerial skills to handle tbeofandodem fighting force.
The availability of technical andassistance will be especially vital to the maintenance of ARVN's fighting effectiveness. ARVN has become increasingly dependent tin the availability of such complex equipment OS helicopters, advanced communications and lire-control equipment, and electronicand sensors. The use of such equipment has given the South Vietnamese considerable advantages in combating the communists. But without substantial US assistance inmuch of the modem equipment would prolwbly deteriorate over time. ARVN might find it difficult to change its tactics and to fight without all of its technically sophisticated paraphernalia. The South Vietnamese will look to the US to continue toto assist intypes of equipmentavailable.
The persistence of certain basicwithin the South Vietnamese military establishment is likely to impede military progress over the longer run. Despitethere is little prospect tbat the military leaderslilp will lose its elitist cast; high-level promotions are likely to continue to be based more on social class and personal loyalties than on military competence, Life for tbesoldier will continue to be hard, and separation from families will be frequentpay and allowances at all ranks, already very low, probably will not keep up with the pace of inflation. Under these conditions,desertions are likely to continueairly high rate-
Problems of leadership, morale andsupport are even more severe in thesecurity forces (Regional Forces and Popularand in the People's Self Defense Force (PSDF) lhan in themilitary branches. This is so even though these forces are now performing well in many parts of South Vietnam and deserve much of the credit for the improvement in localAs the US withdraws. ARVN will have to assume the full burden of the main force war. lea vim; localen more fully in the hands of the territorial forces and the PSDF- The critical importance of these forces appeals to be ut>dcntood at the highest levels of government, and they are receiving better training and cquipnicntonsidrrable part of Ore pressure to improve the local units has come from the US. Onlyontinued push from the highest national levels will tbe ten itonal security forces be assured theand support needed to assume increased responsibilities. Without this support, theosition In the countiysido wouldsuffer gradual deterioration.
Corruption could also continue tothe military effectiveness of the CVN in tbe future. Many, possibly most, of the upper echelons of the military establishmentin some form of corruption: in some cases, the abuses are flagrant and com mooSuch excesses tend to lower morale within the ranks and may contribute to the poorly paid, lower level soldier's lack ofand tendency to desert. Tlieof USas corroibutcd to tlie growth of corruption and to the Improperof military goods and supplies. As the US scales dosvTi its effort, such diversions could leave some units short nf needed supplies and vulnerable to communis! attack.
A final critical factor in considering the GVN's military and security forces is that of will. There are no precise guidelines with which to measure the will of Ihe South Vfet-narnese fighting man. Totent tlial they have positive motivation, the RF, PF, and PSDF probably arr fighting moreesire to protect family and village than from any commitment to the Saigon government or aversion to communism Within the ARVN. many senior officers and isoncoms appear ideologically op[>nsed to the communists.
Moreover, while most soldiers would like to see the war come to an end, they would certainly prefer that South Vietnam remain non-communist. In general, however, theof AIIVN to the struggle rests more On the force of discipline and Iseing caught up In the system than any other factor.
The Allack on Ihe CommunistThe GVN's ability to eliminate theparty structure is questionable. The communist apparatus has been hurt, severely in some areas, but must ot tlie damage stems Irom the expanded GVN military presencethe countryside and from attrition resulting from the fighting. GVN programs against the communist apparatus have had limitedrelatively fesv high-level communist cadres have been eliminatedesult of direct GVN action. Moreover, much of the impetus in the GVN's effort has come from US involvement in the programs. As the US reduces ils role in these programs, the GVN is unlikely to take up all the slack, and the effort against tbe communist apparatus would be likely to decline in effectiveness.
The South Vietnamese police forces are ill-equipped to take On the task of rooting Out the communist apparatus; their operatingare inclined to be erratic, and their motivation appears low. The communists have penetrated the regime's security and police forces, and thereidespread reluctance among the people to turn in communist cadres to the authorities. Many, perhaps most. South Vietnamese have connections- often family ties, with someone in the communistFurthermore, the GVN's detention and judicial systems arc lax; when apprehended, communists often go free because of slipshod procedures or the venality of GVN officials.onsequence, lhe communists have been able toiable organization despite the GVN's couiilereffoils, and this is likely to continue to Ise the case for the foreseeable future.
C. Political Trends
TheIitical cohesion will be subject to increased stress over the next few yean as the US presence with its stabilizing influence declines. Frictions between tbeand Ihe legislative branches are likely to sharpen. Though political groups will expect to participate increasingly in the politics of the nation, there is litdc prospect for the development of truly nationally-based political parties. It is more likely that the political groupings will continue lo reflect various parochial and regional interests. The politics of South Vietnam are likely to remain basically divisive in nature much as in the past. Though these conditions may complicateohesive political system, they need not necessarily lead to political instability.
In the future, there is likely tourther shiftoreentralized executivewhich nonetheless permits adegiee of popular participation and responsibility at the village level. The major elements of the present, foreign-inspiredsystem, however, are likely to be retained. Continued dependence on US aid and support will provide one incentive tothem. Additionally, the constitution tends to bestow an aura of legitimacy on svhocver holds the presidency. At the same time, many groups of South Vietnamese have come lo view the system as somethingarrier againsl extreme abuses of executive power.
The stronger central control envisaged for South Vietnam might well result in more efficient government! if so. il would probably be acceptable to the majority of the South Vietnamese even if drmocratic niceties were honored more in form lhan iu substance. But the danger in strong central control, especially if popular political participation were severely restricted, is that it could lead to extremes in coercion, increasing grievances against the
system and leading organized groups to take their complaints into the streets. The organiza-lion and skills necessary to make authoritarian controls effective have noi existed in South Vietnam, und in the event of mounting popular opposition, the riskreakdown in public order would be high.
In any case, as ibe US phases down in Southif the communist military threatpolitical role of the military is likely to become more open and active. Thoughonolith, it seems apparent that the military will remain the ultimate arbiter of power in Soulhnot only is it lhe only truly nationally organized group, but it contains most of the country's cOmpelent administrators. Moreover, as any GVN president willhewill be more secure with heavyparticipation than with the generalsto the position of disgruntled observers Or plotters. The withdrawal of US forces,will remove some of the inhibitions to extra-legal action by Ihe mililary. If theconfronting the GVN becamecritical or if the generals feared that political leaders were about to make asoft settlement with the communists, they would be likely tooup. Be. fore makingove, however, theleadership would probably attempt to correct such tendencies by exerting Influence within the system.
Over the longer term, the GVN will have to face the problems of both developing and coping with nationalism. Nationalism isew emotion for Ihe Vietnamese; in past centuries,onprovided strong cemeut for the nation in its struggle against foreignIt was the ability of Ho Clu Minh to liarness this force that provided the ma|or impetus for the communist movement in the struggle for independence against the French.
But the GVN has not and probably cannot, over lhe next few years at least,ense of South Vietnamese nationalism that could be used effectively in tbe struggle with the Noilll.
he traditional sense of Vietnamese nationalism with its xenophobic overtones, however, is alive and growing in the GVN. This is likely to pose problems for US-GVN relations. For the last decade the Southhave been forced to rely on the US for survival. Many South Vietnamese have found this dependence humiliating, and there is little doubteservoir uf anli-American sentiment exists in South Vietnam. Decent demonstrations, sparked byandSouth Vietnamese by US military personnel, have illustrated theof the issue.
n the futuie. many issues will be given an anti-American twist by oppositionists anxious to lag the leadership as puppets of die US- Sensitive to such charges, the GVN will try to demonstrate its independence ofIndeed, Ihe government in many cases will find it convenient to shunt the blame for its own shortcomings onto the US, further feedingmerican sentiment in the South. In short, the US is likely lo be placed more frequently in the role of the villain and charged wiih being insensitive to the needs and interests of South Vietnam.
D. The Changing South Vietnamese Society
ver the longer term, the government In Saigon will be called upon to contend with other new tensions and anxieties which have developed in South Vlelnamese society. Since the fall of the Diem regime. South Vietnam bas beenevolutionaryvirtuallyand largely without guidance or objectives. Years of gradual adjustment to the stresses of war have led to vast alterations
In social organization: the displacement of large populations, (he disruption and often the destruction of traditional village life, the breakdown and partial replacement of Ihe traditional class system, and the chaotic growth of urban centers
Striking changes in Vietnamese society are taking place in the countryside. In much of tho country, Viet Cong and GVN-sponsored land reforms have tended to undermine the power of traditional provincialadio, television, the Honda, and otherofare artrringsmall farmer's way of life; the adoption ofodest amount of modern farming technology is changing hh role and expectations. He sees his prosperity linked to free access to CVN-controlled markets Moreover, after years of CVN neglect, sometimes benign but often not. the Thieu government has begun to woo the sillagcr. In addition to land reform, local leadership and village autonomy are being emphasized, and there have been promises of large investments in agricultural development.
The political implications of thesecannot be defined with confidence. Tbe rural Vietnamese are not only exceedingly weary of win and political turmoil, but also considerably mine sophisticated about national developments. Thus, although the villagerGVN corruption and abuses of power, there is reason to believe that be fa abo more resistant to communist blandishments. If the CVN is moderatelyeeting rural demands for more effective administrative and economic services, and demonstrates greater overall concern with their personal well-being, it may in time alleviate many of tlie adversities which the farmers have suffered over the past decade and prevent tbe countryside fromas theor yet another cycle of guerrilla activity.
While roughlyercent of Southpopulation still lives in the countryside.
there has been an imurccedcnled influx into the country's towns and cities. Originally caused by rural itisecunty. the migration was iiL-ielcialedelief that economicweje greater In the cities, 'though any improvements in security and economic conditions in theCVNwill draw some back to their home areas, problem* of rapid urban growth will not dissipate. Those who remain in the towns will still Ik: crowded into slums, detached fioin their traditional communal ties, and exposed to various forms of agitation.willroblem, particularly as US labor needs ibmuush. Over time, cityfrustrated middle class elements andbecomemore receptive to radical tip|>eals if the government is unable to meet their demands.
SO These changes in cat) and country will strain the government's resatisely limited funds and expertise. Tlie GVN's effoils to meet its "revolution of rising expectations" will also be impededumbersomeapparatus and widespread corruption. Even with the best of intentions, tbe GVN simply will not be able with its own internal resources to generate the Jobs and capital needed to satisfy the level of economic demand (goods, services, and technology) already reached. While the Vietnamese arc basically ambitious and hard svorking, industrialization can come only slowly. And It will be some time before tbey can exjxsrt large quantities ol agricultiiralarticular, the rubber industry, will take years to recover Its former vigor. Moreover, prospects arc not good for substantial foreign invcstroeoC or large-scale economic assistance so long as tbe conflict wiih the communists remains unrcsolvod.*
' Unanew European countries have shown sonse interest in aiding or inverting in South Vietnam, hut to nothing like tlie extent thai will he required.
AH of Ihe political, military, andfactors discussed above will be im-poitant in terms of South Vietnam's future prospects. Nonetheless, an examination of these elements does not provide any certain answer to the key issue: the will of lhe South Vietnameseeople andation to sustain the struggle against the communists. There are times when "will" canair degree of confidence. By tbe springor example, it was clear that the South Vietnamese had lost the will toonly the large-scale intervention of US combat troops saved Soulh Vietnamommunist takeover. Atn the other hand, it became clear thatwell as some significant portion of thehadufficient sense ofto offer vigorous resistance to theoHensive. Since that time, this sense of commitment seems lo have developed further.
The problem remains, however, ofthe extent to which the growth in commitment in South Vietnam derives from and is dependeutontinued US presence. For the past five or six years, the Americans have always been present or readily available witb their mnnpowci. materiel, and money to assist with military and economic problems. As VictnamizAtlun proceeds, this will no longer be as true. Vietnamlzation is already bringing home to the Soulh Vietnamese leaders thai the. time It fast approaching when they will have to cojm* wiih tlie communists and face the country's problems largely on their own. Development* thus far suggest that they are responding reasonably well to the challenge But there Is no way to determine how tenacious they willew years hence when the US is much further along the road to disengagement.
hus,mpossible al (hi* lime tolear-cut estimate about Southprospect* through the. 'Ihere are many formidable problem* and no solid assurances over this period of time. In our view, the problems facing the CVN, thein South Vietnam about thenature, and duration of future USdoubts concerning the Soulh Vietnamese will to persist, the resiliency ol lhe communist apparatus in South Vietnam, und Norlhdemonstrated ability and willingness to pay the price ol perseverance are such that the longer term survival of the CVN i* by no means yet assured.
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