CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Dj vM Mart, State QNR) Mr. Johnr. Richard F. Sweeney, Boards and Estimates Divltlon, NSA
NORTH VIETNAMESE INTENTION LN INDOCHINA
I. The articled draft estimate Is forwarded for review.
A representatives' meeting to discuss this draft has been scheduleduly, at CIA Headquarters,
Please telepSocve Mrs. Rwcfc,uesday,une, to give her the names of your representatives tod their clearances. Arrangements will be made for them to enter the building at the Main Entrance.
B ec: .SAaptain Luther E. Mayes, USN U.. Mackcy, USAF(AFN18)
SITiMTlOtl IN TEE VAKE OF CAMKrDIAJ
1 i *1 :
A. The Situation Prior to Allied Intervention
V. Tstpact of Devolopoeota Id 'la on
f Sanctuary uJ Easa
Aetlons to Mlololte theof Ceotodlaa
Current VTev of Its Probleoi and
C^rtuniUes lo 17
I. On M
COUBSE OF ACTIOS Hi IlKCtmiA... *5
, Urge-Scale Military
CEHTRAL INTELLIGENCE CY
filTBJECTi EMU KOBTH VIETNAMESE lVTErTIOKS Itf
Devtlojceots insince tbe ouster of SlUnouk Uveew front in the IndocMr* conflict. Thesuffered lossese confrontedediate tactical -problem*. But the sftvetlon also conUins the potent HI for
ccrounitt gain* in their Ions-tens struggle to unifyand torcdotrloantto ell Laos end CaObodle.
Ve attempt ino essess the extent of Cownlst losses In Caobcdia and tbolr iapact on tho situation lo Vietnam as veil at tbe probableheir policies to cope vith nev difficulties and toev opportunities vMch they svsy perceive. There are, hovertr, considerable difficulties Inthis era lysis at this tlae. Operation* Id Caetcdia are
and the data cn results to date is. In the nature of things, incomplete end provlalonal. Beyond that, the data on losses requires careful analysis an* perspective before Ita true significance can be established.
In discussing &xwunlst intentions, ve are forced to put ourselves in the position of the leaders lo Hanoi and atteapt to see the situation fron their"point'of viev, This always difficult exercise ia even *ore complicatedapidly moving situation Id
vhlch thereumber of unknovn elements, particularly vith respect to US and Allied courees of action, la eny event, veirect line into the inner councils of Hanoi. Vhen ve eatlcatevhat Hanoirrt Is of necessity no core than an estimate, based in varying degree on Hanoi's past and present etateaentspublic and othervlse, oo ruch covert intelligence as has coce to hand, oo the record of Hanoi's behavior in the past, and ultimately on our velghlng of the validity and eeaning of such evidences.
2. HANOI'S SITUATION" IH THE WAKK
A. Tb* Situation Prior to Allied Intervention la Canoodle
1. Following the Mitlv*UUry offensive atanoi obvtoosly felt the need to rake adJvitttenU to Its strategy In Soutb Vletnaa. Not only did Coc*unitt tanpover losses skyrocket, but captured Conawnist documents and high-level etatemente by leaders la Hanoi indicated tbat tha ctrphaiia on large-scale vllltary action led to the neglect of the Corsunlstpparatuseterioration la Coraunlstng tbe population in the Soutb.
?. Ttie solution adopted by Hanoi vas to tattle dovo forprolonged and relatively lev cost struggle, spelled out lo such key documents as COSVK. Hanoi'soili-tary approach colled for prlnary reliance on mall unit sapper, and terrorlat actions, and shelling* Instead of all-out offensives. As Coaaaunlst adliUry action vas scaled dova, thereoncoeiUot drop Id the infiltration of evinpover frca North Vletoaa. In the
political field, tho Communists >at out to repair deficiencies to strengthen tha Comeunist infrastructure. Heavy etreia vet placed on improving the mass organisation* vhlch tha Communists had created to aid their political aetivitiaa. Military proselyting end tbe "legalisation" of comma!at cadrea vera other hey aapecta of Hanoi's strategy.
3, Byanoi's new course seemed to be vorklng vith son* degree of iuceeis. CorcuMat casualties bad declined. The Infrastructure appeared to Uvi survived core or leas intact. Further, there vere indications In some areas that the Ccejirunleta had succeeded in stalling, and in some cases reversing, thed Dovesent io tha Allied pacification progran. In short, tba Cocnunlsts had rar-igcd toredible military poature, vithout employing cany of the CocittiAist tain force units vhlch resalned in nearby sanctuary areai. tt docuscnts continued to ehov concern over the pacification program aod the possibility that Vletnamlzetlori Light vorfc sufficiently vail to long delay the achievement of Harol'a objectives in the Soutb. Nonetheless, the Coatorunists appeared to believe that tbey hid successfully ridden out the peak of IB and South Vietnamese military prenures
and that as IS forces vere further drawn down, the situation vould improve In the Cccfiwii&ts' fevor,
Impact of Bsvelooients ln CaabodU on Coacunist Capabilities
li. Whatever tha actual eitcatioa prior to the turo of events In Cambodia,Allied Dove Into Cambodiaactical upset for the Communieta. They suffered large supply losses, extensive casualties, disruptions of their supply routes, dispersal of their forces and their oomcand and control apparatus, end tbe loss of immunity la sanctuaries end base areas astride the Cambodian-Victnamese border, it is necessery toood deal of caution ln judging the lasting impact of tbe Cambodian affair on the CooBunlst position in lodochina, houevar, since preliminary analysis of these losses suggests that the CoBcunists* situation la by no means critical.
Losses. Throughune, US aod Soutbcapturedons of CCAcunltt supplies Infollows:
Vcftpons and Equipment (Clais II
TOTAL hese lossesubstaotlel reduction of the stocks available in the Cambodian base areas. tr full Impact of the losses cannot to measured precisely, hovever, because ve do not knew the amount of supplies originally there. Hor do ve have eny firm estimates of the enount of supplies stockpiled In southern Laos and South Vietnam. These atockpllei are undoubtedly large, and current Communist military operation* indicate tbat supply loases to date have mot resulted In any Immediateof Coewuniat capabilities.
significance of Communist losses can beat be putby comparing them vith losses in South Vietnam during
* These er* preliminary figures based on analysis or dat'i currently available' in Washington. The estimate for ammunition, villbe revised substantially vhen tore complete return! are received from th* field.
and tbe leases the Communist* sustained last year In northern Laos during Vang lao's operations on tbe plain or Jarsope rat loo "About Face"and lo the XI* eg fchouurg area:
Cambodia South Vietnam Northern
The losses In South Vietnam, for example, had disruptive effects on specific planned operations but put no significant long-term restraint on Ccomunist capabilities. In north em Laos, tbe Communistsuch greater share of their estimated ammunition stockpiles, but their operations vera disrupted forev mom tba.
7. Communist food losses, to inly rice, are tbe least significant. Although they are to the equivalent toonths of external rcsupply requirements for CcMSunist forces lo southern Southhey can he replaced fron the excellent South
term covera southern II Oorps and. in III and IV Corps, tbe areas normally supplied by tba logistic; spporetu* deployed lnUo baso areas.
Vietnamese harvest or fron tho buoper January Cambodian crop. Communist forces in Cambodia nov hfcve greater access to riceareas, and the overall availability of rice is nov greater than et the stort of the operations, thus, the Communists could provide rice for even greater numbers of troopa lo Cambodia. The cootlQuatloa of AHVN ground end air operations lo Casbodla vill make it nore difficult, hovever, to rove rice vithin froa Caabodia, Som Cosmunist units in South Vietoao's rice deficit areas vill suffer temporary and localised shortages,
8. Cowounist veapoas losses In Cambodia have been insufficient to degrade seriously their combat capabilities. Those captured to datemJI share of their stocks and Is equivalent to only one month's external resupply requirement in southern Southubstantial portion of CowtiUAist veapoos losses,cay be made up by Cambodian arms captured by than any case, onlyercent of the identified small eras captured are relatively nev, and of the types currently being used by Cotopunist forces. (The remainder ere older Cceurunist and Free World types.) Furthermore, If Hanoi regarda these veapons losses as serious, it can be expected that infiltrators vill begintheir com arms in the future. 3ost infiltrators
did not carry oros during their -movement froa North Vietnam to Southhut vere given veapoos after arriving io tha base areas along the Cambodian -South Vietnamese border.
losses, bovever, vlll be mors serious. of small arms ammunition, calculated'9 forcecombat rates, are equivalent toonths requlremeotejlarge rocket and mortar rounds are equivalent Even before the Allied move into Cambodia,unitseriodic shortages of arc-unit Ion duesupply movwent difficulties. The capture ofof armunitloa and the forced Alapersal of onceatockplles vlll compound these continuing resupplyinside South Vietnam, particularlynd XV Corps. capture of relatively soall Cambodian ammunitionmot alleviate CorsMnist aajor resupply problems ioalthough they amy prove useful ln supportingin Cambodia.
Ccmuaists have also lost access to Sinai:again osr-.ed Kccpong Sam)ource of seabornetheir forces, particularly for those in southern South Vietnam,
The SihanoulMlle route had servedseful end convcoiiot channel of supply for tha Communists, although ve hava roverable to detemlne Ita preelia Importance la tba overall lupply picture. Io any ease, loss of access to glhaoouhvllle la sot critical; the last known arms delivery to the part vai cad* io Even under Sihanouk, tbe routs had been unreliable, and ton Nol severed it upon taking power. ;Th* Communists vill nov be forced to fall back almost exclusively on tte Laotian corridor for the movement of supplies. The network through laosapacity greatly In excess of traffic requirements and during the past dry ifaionigher level of traffic than In any previous year, and despite mounting difficulties la maintaining some flow of traffic during the.current rainy season. The Communlsta ray also succeed in caking occasional sea shipments across Cambodian beaches, but tbese are net likely toajor source of supply because ef the blockade of ttei South Vietnamese coasts.
u- fjanpover Losses. The figures being reported for Communist manpower lossesesult of operation* In Cembodla0 killedaptured or detained are highly suspect.
Jf oU.tr lossesiedabled froonlij In action, and deserterssr* considered, total Cuvunlstroa all causes vould te Id excess Many of tba elledgedveraesult of air and artillery attacks. Thus, abody count Is difficultray result In civilian and non-coabataDt parsoonel being Included lo the leas figure. lteable proportion of the reported casualties vera Inflicted and reported by Goutb Vietnamese forceshance for Independent VSranking ARVH officers have admitted that these figures are grossly exaggerated and Include large numbers of clvilisa casualties. Whatever the actual level of losses, and they still ray be substantial, the scheduled arrival of knovn Itflltiatlng groups should keep these forces essentially up to strength.
1?. Loss of Sanctuary and Ease Areas. Perhaps more damaging to the Corkaunittt than th* supplies lost In the mum sweeps ll the loss of sanctuary In Caabodia. Throughout tba var, theiv'ave enjoyed relative Icrunlty In their Cambodian sanctuaries; their troops could escape tha heat of battle In South Vietnam elnply by retreating across the border. Through th* use
of Cambodian sanctuary, tbo Communists vere able to limit their casualties, andarge extent, to pica the time and place for twch of their military activity in nearby areas of South Vietnam. Siellarlly, Cambodian sanctuary gava the Ccarjunists the luxury of being able to train and refit units vithout fear of having such activities disrupted. Nov Allied air or ground attacks vill force the Coccu.iist3 to devote more tic* end personnel to defensive measures.
13. tb* Allied move bee also had other adverse consequences for the Ccraunists. Kany of the IOC's in eastern Cambodia have been disrupted, even if ooly teaporarily. Most of the major Comnunist base areas have been overrun, and, vith immunity no longer provided by tha Cambodian border, the Ceramists vlll be forced to resort to vider dispersal of their supply caches. This vlll lead to some operational difficulties, particularly since the Ci--awdsts normally prefer to preposition supplies beforemilitary action. Thus, it is likely that operations against frontier outposts in. southern II Corps and northern III Corps vlll be more difficult to mount and sustain than in the past.
1*. Coward and Control Prcfe'.cn*. Tha Impact of tba Allied t-nto Cambodia on the Cotvunist command end control apparatus appeara to have been BlnlDal. The principal elements of COSYS escaped essentially Intact, although soee of than were forced to move, thereby temporarily reducing contact! vith subordinate But the key characteristic of the Communist cowend and control eyetera is flexibility. Forear, tba Coeeunlsti have been increasing the amount of discretionary tactical latitude permitted to individual commanders. In any event, despite some temporary disruption during tbe early ueeka of tte Ciabodlan caspalgn, the Cccmnist command and control syitea vis Quickly restored to almost normal efficiency, and oo lestlrg darage seems to have been Inflicted oo tbe apparatus.
C. Cccmunltt Actions to klnirdee the Irradiate Impact of Cwbodian Developments
1$. The Communlats have generally avoided major confrontation! In Canoodle vith the better-equipped US end South Vietnamese units. In general, they have maneuvered to escape encirclement in the borderving out of their Uses vhen psceitary. More than half of the Comnunist eor.bat forces In Cerbodle, hovever, appear
toremained vithin PIlles of tha herder, testifying not only to the importance the Communists attach to the area, hut also Indicating the existence of substantial quantities of supplies still lo the arei, the need for ictcntloo of then, and perhaps the COMiunlsts' confidence io their ability to defend these caches.
Besides holding on to sob* bases, the Communists have moved quickly to increase their logistic flexibility in Cambodia. In northern Caabodla, Communist units pushed vestvard, gaining control of innumerable roads, trails, and vatervays. In the key oorthesstern quadrant, Coaminlst forces era veil on their vsy to gaining controlepth ofiles, all the vay to the Kekong. These coves give the Cert unlets relatively uncontested control of the Seer routes. Th* capture of key points lo* vas also related in part at least to Hanoi's desire to strengthen and diversify its logistical system. Finally, Communist forces have pushed far into rice producing areas of Cambodia
Hanoi has also embarkedariety of other efforts to keep opao th* vital supply corridor frco Horth Vietnam. In early Hay, the Cwviunlsts apparently decided to maintain th* logistics flow through lac* during this rainy season. This decision
- ll. -
clearly related to developments In Cvbodla. ransportation Group has not rctiur:.ed to Horth Vietnam, and logistics flows are continuinglgnlficant level. Gasoline ehortages cay, at least temporarily, affect the movement ofit appears that gasoline reserves vere allowed to dvlidlo, probably because Hanoi Initially planed to withdraw Its rajor transportation units during the rainy season.Use of th* corridor vill also be complicated by th* res con rains vhich often take the roads impassable, but substantial quantities of supplies vlll probably continue to gat through. Increased reliance on the Laotian corridor vlll render the system more vulnerable to atr
Interdiction, but past exjxrlence indicates that bobbing alone le not sufficient to impair critically the movement of Communist aupplies to South Vietnam.
18. Th* urgency of supply problems is pfobably greatest ln th* southern reaches of Carvodiadjacent South Vietnam may reflect even greater urgency to remedy supply problems. Thes*are far removed frco the exit points of the Laotian corridor and probably relied hca/ily on supplies vhich transited Sihanoukville. Although there has been no appreciable decline in Communist military activity in these areas of South Vietnam, thero
ero Indications that atunitsregion
nov undtr even pore rigid orders to conservethe Communists msy he so herd pressed that they ereattempting to supply forces In the far south by sea. been three recent attempts to utilise ocean-goingInfiltrate euppliea into the region,* Such efforts arebe Infrequent aod limited, but lt should be rioted tbat onlyseaborne shipmentons (the normal trawlersatisfy Ccccjunlst external supply requirements In thefor about tvo
19. Hanoi can replace personnel lossesif it desiressimply by Increasing the numbers of Infiltrators from forth Vietnam. The average time required tocplacenent group froa the border of forth Vietman to the Fiahhoc* area Id Cubodia haa beenays. There are already some tentative Indications that infiltration ray be picking up, though it is not possible to link such an increase directly vith developments in Cambodia.
* Ve are unable to determine Whether eny seaborne infiltration attempts have escaped detection, though ve are reasonablythat auch occurrences are rare at beat. Sinceight seaborn* infiltration attenpts have been detectedll of them apparently vere aborted.
In any event,rolonged reduction of manpower reserve* vould cause some strains over tire, North Vietnam hss ampleavailable.* esult, Coaounlst manpower losces caused by tb* Allied actions lo Cambodia are not likely toajor problem.
D.urrent View of Its Problems aadn Cambodia
20. Tb* CocAunlats ar* avare of the iiroedlete and potential danger* in tb* Cambodian situation aod the problass caused by the Allied venture into Cambodia. Decent CosmuAist statements,those made atth Aiseably meeting in early Jun* in Hanoi, have been candid ln pointing out the.mew difficulties and tbe Increased demands that North Vietnam vill have to meet Ina stepped up Indochina-vide struggle. Although SlhaoouX vas erratic, his policies allowed tha Communists to operateeasonably acceptabla condition as far as th* var lo 6outh
hysicallyyear old malts enter tho manpower pool annually. Infiltration has not beep running at high rates in recent years;roops vere Infiltrated, vhil*9 the total vas,0 arrivals through September are expected to ba less
Vietnamcerr<ed. That tb* Cwroni iti vere sooevhat loathe to give up imi status quovidenced id their early, but unfruitful, effort* to etteapt to strike i ort of deal vith the nev regime la Phnoo Penh.
Bl. In addition to ltl tactical impact, tht Cambodian action openedev front in the Indochina conflict vfatre th* Comvunlitat to deployarticularly manpovirtonot only vith US and 6outhorcta but alio then* of tbe Lon Nol regime, tha Thais, and perhaps other Asi'-a The move into Cambodia, accompanied as It vasrief spurt id the us air effort against North Vietnam Ititlf, appeara to have raised fears id Hanoi regarding tbe evteot to vhlch th*ight be villing to enlarge th* var. Communist aetloos lo southern Laos indicate that Hanoi is particularly concerned over possible grewnd incursion* Into tbe Important Laotian corridor area,
22. Hanoi also probably calculates that tbe US la nov core or leia committed to the preservation of an aotl*Cormninist regime in Phnora Penhf riot directly id the first instance, then through tbe use of surrogate South Vietnamai* and possibly Thai forces. Although there are oo Indication* that Hanoi is panicky,
the prospect of continued Allied involvement Id Cambodiarobably viewed vith some uncertainty ana apprehension by th* Coomunista,
t the same tine, hovever, Hanoi's statements and actions suggest tbst-the ComraunlttJ see significant potential opportunities in the nev Cambodian situation. Eeaoi appears to believe that th*ov runs the risk of becoming .bogged, .dovn and overextended in Indochina.esult, the Coreunists seem to believe that theyetter chance than before to frustrate IB policy lo thtd this context, most statements and indication* emematingnoi suggest that the Comaunists actually believe their propaganda that the US move io Caibciia vss made out of veaxness and defensiveness, and not out of strength.
SO. Hanoi's judgment fits neatly vith its belief that its forces are better able to carry on tn Indochina-vide var for an indefinite period than are the Allies, Moreover, though Hanoi cannot be sure of the scope and nature of future Allied actions, its fears of any massive IE escalation have almost certainly been allayed by the extent of US domestic and Congressional opposition to further lovolveaent Iny the limitations that the
US has placed on Its actions. Thus, vhile Hanoi atlU harbors some feara that the US villagain bocoma directly Involved oo the ground In Caifcodia or even io Laos, the Communist leaders cay non calculate that such Involvement vould be limited and that it vould Increase domestic opposition in the US even further.
Hanoi may feel that it has ao opportunity toSouth Vietnamese and possibly Thai forces ln Cambodiarisk or cost to the Communists themselves. Fromthis not only could divert South Vietnam'sfrom tbe priority struggle io South Vietnam, but alsoto rrictlons between the US ODd South Vietnam andthe necessity and means of maintaining Loo Hoi io power.
And Hanoi's assessment of the ability of either the South Vietnamese or Thai forces alone to exploit Communist vulnerabilities effectively Is conditioned by the relatively lackluster perfor&aoce of both countries' forces io tha past.
Comnunists ray also detect temptingin Cambodia. The Connunists moved rapidly tooverthrow of Sihanouk as an American macbioatioo to setfor th* "invasion" of Cambodia. And the Allied move into
Canted!a, while temporarily propping up Lon Hoi, has served to make Mat ln Cambodianlient of outside powers, thereby reducing somewhat the taint attached to Sihanouk for the same reason. Further, withoutouk gives the Communistsuseful tool through which tohmar resistance movement.
27. Hanoi undoubtedly calculates that th* fall of the loo Hoi regime, by whatever means, voulderious blow to South Vietnamese, Thai, and US morale. Indeed, Hanoi may well calculate that if it should acquir* control of rost of Cambodia and bogging Allied force* down in tha process, the ultlaat* result night be to force the us to move more surely and rapidly towardfrom Indochina. Thus, Hanoi may see Cambodlao developmentsossible opportunity to upset the US policy of Vletnaaisatloo and th* Nixon Doctrine as well by leaving the US with tbe choices of an unending,idenlng war or of making essentialat Peris.
28. It is too early toefinitive Judgment concerning the lasting impact of Cambodian developments on Communist fortunes.
Koch depend* on vhet ther.iBts, th* US, *nd, the South Vietnam*it do lo Csnhodl* and, core important, la South YWtoaa -still th* major theater of th* varIn tha months ahead.
tb* Communists have been hurt by tbeId Cambodia lo many vays. It Is not yet clesr vhetbersweh this cay have inhibited their sctusl plat* orvsglog var in South Vietnam. Allied successes io Cambodia
may placed further limitsha seal* of actions open to th* Cocaninists in southern South Vietnu, at least for some Booths. Of course, if th* South Vietnamese ground forces and US air strikes inflict more'significant losseshe Communists' in Cambodia, the Communists may b* faced vith greater problems than art nov evident.
date, hov ever, va have aeen no major adjustmentstactics or strategy lo South Vietnam vhich can beto the Allied move Into Ca.-sbodie. In terms ofaction, there does not appear to be much of alond IV Corps areas, presumably vhere the impact
of Allied operations vould be felt most directly, ther* has been no appreciable decline ln Communist military activity. Sinca the
Allied operations vere Hunched, tbe Cteeuaitta have gone through tvo *hlghpolnte" of activity. Neither of thea vet veryut none of tbe earlier spurts io Corvaunist activity since9 vas particularly Impressive either.
vould require continuing disruption of Corjjunist iocs and bate areas. US air action vill help in this regard, but air alone can not do tbe jobround action'< non for effestlv* blocking action. In South Vletoas, the Corwunltts cay be core vulnerable to South Vietnamese counteraction lo some areas, but In time such vulnerabilities vill fade as tne Comfiunlsts have time to take countermeasurea.
31. Although tha Communists' problems la tht vaie ofcay be potentially serious, the questionthey vill be successfully exploited. In Cambodia, this
33. Ve are not optimistic regarding the vill or ability of
VSouth Viatnanesa to move rapidly to exploit potential Communist
vcakoesses. South Vietnamese forces have performed reasonably veil In Cambodia, albeit against an enemy vho ususally has not
and fought. Although encouraging in terms of improving ARVN's
1and oorele. South Vietnamese successes In Caabodia also
raise the spectre that the South Vietnamese may coocentrete on easy
victories In Car.bodia and be districted frcn the Dore difficult, but considerably core important, effort needed in South Vietnam Itself. Io thiscdta could turn out toill-of-the-vlsp for tha South Vietnamese.
33. But even if the South Vietnamese keep their sights focused on the situation at hose, there ara fev indications that they or* really willing to exert the pressure that would be required. Their post record offer* littla grounds for high hopes, and the continuing withdrawal of US forces Is nore likely to reduce the pressure en the Ccrcunists than it is to galvanise the South Vietnamese forcesore effective fighting force any time in the near future.
3*. Tbe Cofirunists, on th* other hand, do seem to be moving with vigor to exploit th* opportunities in the Cambodian situationto repair the damages inflicted upon thea by tha Allied mow into Cambodia, And they appear to b* willing toeavier price in the war in attempting to ceet thes* *nds. Kow successful th* Corwunlsts will be is another ratter}ense, most of thefacing the Communists are tactical, but immediate, vhtreas most of the opportunities ar* strategic, but somewhat core long range. Wo cannotin* balance between these related but different factors in the situation. Buto believe that the tacticalfacing the Corxmnlsts are unlikely to be critical, while the strategic opportunities presented to then eould seriously undermine .the Allied position and policies lo Indochina.
II. HANOI'S J'POCABLE COURSE OF ACTIOU IN TNDCCHTNA A. General
35. Hanoi's Ustc options in Indochina haveroad terns, there are three raio courses, of action available to Hanoi: seriousustained large-scale nilitary action in oo* or norend continuation of prolonged varfar*. Th* Hoes of separation between th* two military options ar* oot absolute, particularly when viewed oo an Indochina-vide basis, and th* Coaaunlete could shift fron oo* option to another or undertake different options in different countries. Moreover, scrlou* negotlatlone could still be carried on in parallel vith either of the rJUtery courses.
Th* talke in rarla are dead for the tins being. In the afternath of tb* upset in Cenbodla, Hanoin no stood to negotiate about anything. Hanoi, of course, desires to hasten US withdrawal from Jndochloa, and negotiations vould offer one possible route to thla end. Indeed, Ccsnuoiet stateseits9 and0ontinuing interest in the diplccatie track. But Eanol nov believes that nothing is to be gained through negotiations until the U3 is ready to offer major concessions to the Communists.
57. But ths Communist leaders almost certainly remain highly suspicious Of US intentions In the negotiating arena; Indeed, Hanoi appeere to hold th* view that tbe US baa no real intereat In any negotiated settlement vhlch does not lo practice aoounte facto admission of Comstunlst defeat. Sooe of this, of course, stems from Hanoi's view of ita previous negotiating experience; itirm belief tbat It vaa euchred out of vhat It had agreed ont Geneva. More important, Hanoi seems to believe that the US has no intention of dealing vith vhat the Communists consider the fundamental issue of the varpover in South Vietnam. The Coaounists bellove that the US remains cccnittel to the preservation of en antl-Cotnmunlat, pro-US regime in Saigon, preferably that of Thieu, and that US eteteffente about self-deterraination are rhetoric tasking an unwillingness torealistic" political settlement of the var.
33. At some point, Kaooi mightay to get around tbe US position through negotiationsn Indochina-vide basis. Fron thle perspective, Hanoi night consider that it had assets at itsihanouk's prestige in Cambodia and Coraunlet control of most of loos and Cambodia, to ccunterbalanco
the relatively unfavorable CecounUt position oo the grow* la South Vietnam. Hanoi Bight calculate that tbe US vould beut to loallt oa maintaining the Thleu regime la Saigon In the context of any International conference to "settle" the var In Indochina.
39* Despite Hanoi's evident disbeller lo the value of
negotiations at this time. It might at erce point entertain tbe
Idea of returning to the negotiating route. But even then Banol
vould be unlikely to accept any errangexent that did not result
easonably rapid aod complete vlthdravnl of US forcaa from
Indochina, offer etroog aecurlty for Coonunitt rollovers, and shov
promise of giviag theolid:share of political pover
in South Vletnaa. Moreover, Hnooi is not likely to negotiate from
a position of extreme vtakness. Even if backed to tbe vail at
some future date, Hanoi vould be far more likely to scale dovn
its efforts in hope of preserving assets for an eventual renewal
of the struggle than lt vould be tohrough negotiations.
*0. Large-scale Military Action. Develorcents In Cambodia have almost certainly reinforcedeluctance to opt for sustained large-ecolo military offensives in South Vlotoaa,
though theli attitudes oj coaparable moves In Laos sad Cambodia may bs mora ambivalent. In South Vletnaa, for several tooths more at least, Hanoi sight be hard pressed to launch and sustain such action, except perhaps In the northern part of thefflUAlst Infiltration Into South Vlatnaa haa been lov forear, and some CoaEranlst unite have been broken dovn Into smaUer operating elements, furthermore, at least half of the Cocaainiat troops In Cambodia, which In tb* past haveotential reserve for concerted action In South Vietnam, ax* operating in nmftll groupe lo the Cambodian interior and vould not be available for laxge<scale action In South Vietnam In th* near tern. Finally, vhll* there are signs that nor* North Vietnamese manpower la being put Into the var, ve see no evidence yet for tbe Mod of manpwer push that vould be necessary to support andassive ailitary effort In South Vietnam.
%l. All the evldenc* available above that Hanoienewal of large-scale offensives as running counter to other major Cornunist objectives in South Vietnam, hot only vould large.scale action be costly In terms of men and supplies, but Hanoi aight fear thet such action vould lead the U3 to delay troop departures or even to eacalate tho var In some Vay. In tloe, of
course, ss sore US forces withdraw, the restraints sight weigh less heavily lo Hanoi; tha Ccmnunlsts night reassess the sltuatloo and he tempted to strike bard oa the pattern8 in the hope of quick and conclusive results. Asowever, the costs of failure vould be high, and ve believe that the possibility of Hanoi's makiog thla decision viU remain low, at least for the next year or so.
fare. Believing that tine ists side, Hanoi has been playing for tine everywhere in Indochina snd adhering basicallyrolonged varfere strategy. Ve believe that it vlll continue to do so. The strategy of prolonged warfare does not mean that significant pulltary action will not occur. Phase* of intensified Military activity are likely lo South Vletoan fron tine to time, aad there nay be dramatic moves to seize particular objectives in Cambodia and Laos, Voile generally reaffirming the deliberate approach to the struggle whichHanoi's strategy for atear, recent statements from Hanoi, notably those fron the 6th Katlocal Assembly session, also suggest that Hanoi may be planning some increase in its nilitary actions and is willing to use more north Vietnamese troops than previously anticipated.
he full range of Hanoi's Intentions la Cambodia art mora difficult to Judge than In the other too etates of Indochina. In large part, thieue to tbe relatively unsettled situation,here are fev beochcarks for Comunlst or Allied actions in Caabodia. Beyond the recestity for sheer survival in tte face of Allied assaults oo tbelr base areas, Courunist maneuvers in Cambodia clearly Indicate that one basic priority, certainly the oiniarun Cce-aunlst objective, le the maintenance of channels of supply and Infiltration Into South Vietnam. Tha bulk of Cccsaunlst forces have not moved great distances from the border! they are protecting existing supply routes. And Ce#nunlst forces In northeastern Caabodia and southern Lnos have coved rapidly to expand the logistics system In these areas.
But Comnunlet objectives in Csnbodla clearly Involve more than simply retaining logistical flexibility. Hanoi hao apparently set Its sights on the elimination of Loo Nol and is vorking assldlously toicer resistance movement. Tha pattern of Comunltt attacks sceas designed to cripple andtbe Inadequate rdlltary force at the disposal of the governmentj
to create serious insecurity ln the countryside; to isolate tbe populsea from the central government; end to week tba notional ecoocay, Haaol seeas bent on caking it clear to all that the Loo Hoi regime is week and ineffective. Incapable of defeodlog even ita major towns, and utterly dependent oo Allied support. Through such tactics, Hanoi would hope to discredit the Cambodian Oovernaeot internationally end to encourage opposition lo Cambodia itseir. In time, the regime right fall of its own weight, opening the wiyolitical deal advantageous to the CorauMst cause io Indochina.
CcexBuniat action in Cambodia thus far, however, io also generally consistent with an Intention to move quickly to bring down the Loo Hoi regime by attempting to seise and hold Phnom Penh itself, and Hanoi any be embarked onourse lo its current operations near the capital. In the first lostaoco, tbe Ccrnuniats ray be concerned that excessive deley io casting Ton Hoi vill allow time for substantial numbers of South Vietnamese Thai, or South Korean troops (vith US air support) to be varshalled agnioet thea lo Cambodia, or even lo permit the growing Khmer army Itself to become more effective flghtera through betterand training. Moreover, the Coomainiets night believe that
Sihanouk or son* other pro-CocoiMit successor to loo Sol could generate an Important degree of 1ntcruational eupport forthe "neutrality" of Cambodia under cooditiooetheir continued uae of Cambodiea toll. In amy event, the seizure of Phnom Penh might he viewed Id Hanoiolitical/ psychological victory of major proportions, on* which would further weaken support lo the US for tbe wnr Id Indochina.
k6. At thla etage, Hanoi ia probably keeping its options open while it weighs the potentialnst the possible costs of military move to take Fhooa Penh. Hanoi could not be sure that ao assault onoh would be successful; it would expect, Id light of recent Allied action at Koopong Thorn end elsewhere in the Cambodian interior, that ARVU unitsS air support would be available. At best, therefore, the military costaajor direct assault oo Phnom Penh would probably be high, and Corewnlst prestige vould sufferajor assault failed. Sihaao-ik'i return also mijht not be an unalloyed good ln Hanoi's cyesj certainly th* Communists would prefer toiable political apparatus ln Cenbodia before the popular end erratic Slrenouk returned to the aceoe.
Hor vould en all-out assault oa the capital be coasteteat vith tbeoctrine or "liberationt vould be clear toall that the cove vas outright Bwtb Vietnamese aggression. More important, there vould be the likelihood that South Vietnamese (and perhaps Thai) forces vould continue to be active in the country thereby placing North Vietnamese unitstatic defensive position agsiast mobile and better-equipped forces. The capture, of Phooa Penh vould not automatically coofor immunity froo further Allied attacks; Indeed,noi'a viev. Alliedontinuing naval blockademight be all the core certainorasuniet-rur. Caabodia, internatiocal reactions no Withstanding.
48. Cn balance, ve doubt that Banol sees an early effort to eliminate tha Zoo Vol regie*irect military assault oa Fhnon Penh ae vorth the probable military aod political costs. It is not unlikely, hovever, that the Cosnunirts vill try to shake the already feeble foundations of the ton Nol regime by swill-scale attacks oa the city and by terrorist tactics vithln It. In any event, even If Lon Nol holds on In Phnco Penh, the situation in Cambodia could cone to resenble that inoniunlot control of ouch, if not most, of the countrysideentral government unable to exercise authority effectively.
Hanoi las long vitvtd Laosecondary theater in the Indochina struggle, Th* Com&iniets control vhat they need in Laos tha northerly areas guarding Horth Vietnam's borders, and th* southern corridor to South Vietnam. Thla la still basically th* case ia our Judgment; indeed, recent development* in Cambodia have caused th* Cocxaudsts to place even greater emphasis on retaining and consolidating their position in southern Laos. Further expansion of Comunist holdings la southero Laos appeara likely In th* months ahead, perhaps Including sporadic attacks oah* last major government-controlled town la the regie*.
50. Hanoi, hovever, doss oot seem to be embarked on en effort to overrun oil of Laos anytime io tha near future. Indeed, Hanoi appeara to have no eet timetable for establishing itsover Laos; tbe Communists seen villlog to defer this sin until they achieve their priority objective lo South Vietnam. Io northern Laos, vher* th* Co&mualet* ar* generally roadbouod, the rainy veather vould inpede any major effort to strikein the near torn. In addition, the toll caused by US
In th* past dry season has left CtcrounlBt forces in need
a respitt to build up supplies for future action. But tb* Coneunists hav. dug Jo around tbeguerrilla bates of Vang Peoseen determined to resist any effort by Ms forces to boy*
onto the Plain of Jar* as be did lait year.
51. In the dry season, Hanoi vill probably renew itspush Vang Pao out of hi* bases at Long Tieng end Sxa Thong.
At the same tiae, JUnoi say ttep up its efforts toFhouca Into acceding to an increased political rolefor th* Coraainlst Pathet lno. Even if the eventually successful In routing the Neo guerrillas the
only really effective fighting force blocking CocnunistVientianeve doubt that Hanoi vould push ahead to the
capital, unless lb* overall situation In Indochina baain th* Inter la. They vould anticipate heavy losses boohing and perhapa greater Thai Dilltary lovolveaent la Laos.
Hanoi could not ha sure that the Allies vould not counter
actionove Into the vital Laotian corridor
:that has already grown in the vake of Allied actions In
Vietnam vlll remain Hanoi's topIn Indochina, end the Ccsmsunleta appear determined
toredible Military presence there. Consistent vith their general strategy, the Cecmuniats areow posture, prolonged warfare approach to the var, conserving assets In the expectation of exploiting political and nilitary vulnersbllitles vhen the US presence la further reduced, Developavota In Cambodia have conplicated the ComcuAlele eituatioo in much of South Vletraa, but ve believe that the revlev of their situation undertaken ln this paper support's the judgment that lbs damage haseea critical so fax*
effects of the Allied actions in Cambodia will
be felt stost by Corxsunist forces in III and IV Corps and perhaps in southern II Corps.esult, Communist operationa ln these areas may be somewhat reduced In the months ahead, although the Coraauniatc are likely to be able to mount loy cost, selectivech aa those that have characterized their aotlons ln recentttack* by fire, sapper and small unit actions, and terrorist tactics. In cost of II Corpsorps, hovever,
th* Conmuaiats are alreody demonstrating thatetainDlUtary ousel* at their disposal, and loflltratloa of freah manpower and rev unitsorps nay already be underway. Action
es * j
In these areas Is likely to Increase sharply In tba monthsothcaas to daaonstrate Coanunlst military power andattempt to force the South Vietnamese to divert troops from elsewhere (the Helta region or Cambodia) to neat the threat.
Tbe Coorunist strategy also eeess to call for Increased efforts to dlerypt the pacificationarget tbe Co&cunlsts nave been hitting with success In recent ronths. Thle does not require large forces or sustained combat. Hanoi lt also likely to Increaa* its efforts to strengthen the Ccrnunlet political Infrastructure and to infiltrate and undermine the South Vietnamese apparatus. This hasriority goal of the Cceainiats forear, and they view the effort as basie to th* strategy of prolonged warfare. Finally, theareup of political opposition to the Thieu regime vill add lncreaaed impetus. efforts to foment and exploit antlreglm* activities In Saigon,
55- In looking ahead, theeaders lo Hanoi vill also poy considerable attention to the pace end effect of US troop vithdravals. They clearly believe that the US is caught in en, untenable position in South Vietnam, namely the vlsh to disengage its forces vithout at the ease time causing the country to colla; in tbe face of Cocn-inist pressure. In their view, as US forces depart the scene, tha balance of povir vill Ineluctably shift lo favor of the Connuniets. Nonetheless, they are obviouslyabout the possibility that Vietnasi ration night vorlt veil enough to give the US ereater flexibility in its policies in Indochina, Hanoi's initial feara that the US nove into Canbodia might haveeversal of the US policy oo withdrawal appear to have subsided. The strong opposition In the US to American involvement in Cambodia and high level statements out of Washington that troop vitbdxav&ls night actually be carried out fasteresult of Cambodian development* has probably led Hanoi to conclude that tha Nixon Administratioo vill at least attempt to meet its presently announced schedule to vithdrev. y
56. That there vlll be difficulties ands to be an accepted fact of life In Hanoi'strategy In South Vietnam. The key point, bovever, it that Hanoi believes time ists side and that if it caa continue th* struggle and be prepared to exploit amy opportunity that might arise, tha Communist* viU prevail ultimately. Of courfle,,the Cc-raauniste vill be constantly reviewing tbelr position; and though possibleanyasic decision to shift military, strategics, particularlyenewal ef sustained large.acale combat, vould most likely come after Hanoi's annual review of its strategy text spring. 'But for the months ahead, Haool is more likely to adhere generallytrategy of prolonged varfar* until it canetter appreciation of the problems and opportunities presented by developments in Cambodia, including the lesting impact of tbe recent Allied ground action io Cambodia on Communist capabilitiea and the scope of future Allied actions.Original document.