Vietnam: Fallout from Son Tay
appears to haveown-to-earth "war iidtud* toward theaid and US airortnightigh-level and knowledgeable North Vietnamese officialsaid last week that Hanoi did not con. sider Son Tay an escalation and will not make US airajor issue. He explained that the Communists realistically expect the US toaerial reconnaissance over the North and to retaliate when these flights are challenged. The threat ol reprisals, however, would not deter the North Vietnamese from trying to shoot dowr. the planes, but. the official went on, Hanoi was notind to allow such matters to seriously jeopardise Ihe Paris talks.
This altitude has bw reflected in the way :he Communists have played the affair: their propaganda hasoisy, bul it has not gone beyond the position Hanoi has taken onsince the bombingo years ago-that reconnaissar.eeiolation of Northsovereignty and that the Communists will make every effort to stepAir strikes, however, are termed in propagandaiolation o' the US agreement to stop the bombing. In more lhan two years Hanoi never has raisedither stall or break off the talks.
Despite its apparent relaxed attitude about some aspects of the air and commando raids, Har.oi is plainly embarrassed and wary that they were brought off wiih such ease and it is trying hard to plug the holes in North Vietnam's intsrnallood or domestic broadcasts hasnew measures, under close party control and high level military supervision, designed to ensure faster and more effective reactions from both militia and regular armyheThere has been mentionhour watches, better coordination, harder training, and many more outposts, sentinels, and bunkers.
Aside from shoring up the North's defenses Hanoi probably is seeking to fire the collects-energies of Ihe North Vietnamese populace to th> level prevalent earlier in the war, but which he-flagged since the US bombing haltanc may also harbor some hop* that bympressive picture of fortress North Vietnam, tn; allies may be dissuaded from mounting new com mando assaults.
With so much attention riveted on POW> Hanoi also has taken some steps to dress up >t< image on the prisoner question. The Foreigr Ministry last week broke with past practice anc providedestern diplomat informalionirst had been requeued more thanonths ago on the whereabouts of missing AmericanRadio Hanoi also has started to broadcas' brief taped holiday messages from US captives it in pastairly prominent Western journa'-ist. moreover, has been invited into Northand he almost certainly will be permitted Ic film American POWs. The overridingfor Hanoi are its image and its belief tha: eventually 'I will be ab'e to squeeic someconeil* S'Ons frometurnene') prisoner release. Althoughoughertoward captives nor any wholesale rjiease*ikety. some additional gestures such as providin; more information on missing American airmen, may be made to lend we>ghi to Hanoi's piofas-sions of leniency.
Jroopi. S'-ppUa Met ifl High Car
Hanoi is continuing to send substantialof troops, both replacements and complete units, down the infiltration trail this dry season.0 North Vietnamese soldiers set off in November, the highest monthly tota'ver half are earmarked fO' COSVN. probably for duty in Cambodia:re
headed 'or northern South Vietnam; and.egiment of North Vietnamese regulars, arc most likely bound tor southerninimum of-four other regular regiments have also started south smce Septer-.aer. One clearly is gomg to COSVN, two are now in southern Laosourth is just above the OMZ. Moreover, two division headquarters are moving soulh through North Vietnam and one is neanng the Lao and Soulh Vietnamese borders.
Although threats now have developed against the northern provinces and lower Militaryf Soulh Vietnam, and lhe central and southern sector of the Lao panhandle, tht pattern of over-a'I Communist dry season deployments instill is unfolding. It seems dear that many of these units are sliil on the move while others have been assigned to protect the vital Communist supply arteries running (he 'ength ol Laos.
Communist truck movements in thehave again increased after severalreduced activity causedintensifiedorganisationsof the Cambodia. Soulh Vietnam,borders are handling Iruck andVarrous sou'Ctsecentm truck traffic on two mam Normpasses mto Laosof the Oemiiitariied Zone. It will behowever, be'ore the substantialsupples now moving will reach lhearea.
Tht 'Cvel o'during :he 'atttr part o- November was apparently higner than matear ego. This trendkely to continue. During this dry season the Communists will havt lo send more supplies jus: to maintain the force structure and levtl of fighiing of recentaos and South Vietnam. Increased materiel will be needed to offset losses caused by allied incursions last spring, the rainy season depletion o' stocks, the loss o' the Sihanoukville supply route, and the new need to supply increased tact*ca> and rear service forces in Laos and Cambodia
At lion Picks Up in /He SouiM
In South Vietnam. Communis; militaryy picked up this week, but still featured the smell actions that the enemy has been empnasn-mg forearalf. The enemy shelled several provmci capitals and numerous smaller towns and military bases throughout lhe country. Casualties and damages were generally light.
The sporadic timing of the attacks reflects the current Communist practice of letting local field commanders set their own timetable for action. This permits the enemy to take advantage o' 'ocal conditions and strike whenlo previous so-calledhat were generally well coordinated and often captured headlines abroad.
Individually Ihese attacks seldom inflict heavy casualties or damage, but they aresubstantial. For:he Communists have succeededverrunningutposts in the Mekongo far this year. Aiihough scattered successes on this scale have not roiled back pacification gains, they do helpignificant amount o'u'al areas where Ihe government is trying to consolidate its control.
Despite Communist emphasis on guerrilla tactics and olher economy-of-lorci methods to keep their losses down. South Vietnamese forces have triggered dashes that were costly to the enemy, especially in the Mekong Delta. Late last week, for example, heavy ground battlesin three delta provinces as the result of aggressive ARVN operations. Slepped-up US and
Page 5 WEEKLY RE .
South Vtc'.oarnesen tne coas!alof the northernmost province* comprisinglso flushed out cancelations of enemy forcet and accounted for over -ICOlulled there each week.
Some South Vietnamese commanders are re-organizing their forces to improve tiSeirin the many localized actions, for example. Major General Dzu, who assumed command of
as; August, has directed his two division* to operate in small units rather than in the often cumbersome muitibattdiion operations o' the past. He has given his territorial security forces-Regional Forces and Popularew system of goals and quotas to encourage more aggressiveness againsi the enemy.laims that the ratio o' enemy*to-fritnd'y casualties hai. men markedly sincec.Original document.