Created: 7/17/1969

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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79 -V


national intelligence estimate


apabilities of the Vietnamese Communists Fighting in South




1 I

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Tht) following intelligence: organizations participated in) the preparation of this estimate:

The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence crgonfiationj of theof State and Defense, and the NSAi' '.


Dr. taW W. Proctor, foe lhe Deputy Sector of Cental fr^Brger^ .

Mr.ughes, tho Oirecior of Intelligence and '

Viot Adm.owronce.tfor. Oefeme Intelligence Agency

If. Gen. Marshall s: Carter, the. Director, National Security Agency' .


r> , DfJH. Rekhardt, forAssistant General AWnog--f, Atomic ihrrgy Corrf.

srisslonullivan, thebi; 1

Inyesligalion, the subject being owrticta of theii


security of"within UieUS Code. Title Tntr lawtransmission ors in. any inAiiuCr

cial totjitt**erfny on interne oi Uie TJi BSfTtprcign government to toe detrj



secT'tb ^receive, I

information; its security








A The Organization and Stiength of Commuriisl Fences in South VietnamCommunist Manpower Requirements and 7


Requirements of Communist Forces in South Vietnam

and Adjacent 12


Vietnam: Tlie Rear Supply


C. Principal Supply Problems and23





r'uC H A









ANK "Hoi





kok PER




Mlli'.ii. iniiod





i-i KO- Ii n


the problem

To estimate Vietnamese Communist capabilities to sustain military operations over the next year or so.


military capabilities of Communist forces in the fieldVietnam have declined over the past year, and theof their military effort probably fell below intendedoperations have caused heavy casualties andfor Communist forces and, overall, have impairedeffectiveness. Despite their success over the past yeartlie numerical strength of their forces and alevel of military operations, the Communists are sufferingof their position in South Vietnam.

the Communistsubstantial capabilitymilitary operations. The Viet Cong infrastructure, whichvital role in supporting the war effort, continues to functiondespite some attrition and reduced access to the populationof the Soulh.

manpower losses reached record levels inhave continued high throughhese losses arca matter of serious concern to Hanoi, in part because ofterm social and economic implications. But given tliecould continuet least, to supplythe high rates of the pastonths.

I) Ihr mvnH logistic sysiem (unctions adequately in localin South Vietnam and in the movement of arms andsome food, and other supplies from North Vietnam and Cambodia to the borders of Soulh Vietnam. We nevertheless believe that the system has begun to feel the strain of the more intensive tempo of the war. There are many difficulties in movemeni ihrough Laos due to the air interdiction campaign. Within Soulh Vietnam, there are difficulties in pre-positioning and protecting supplies for contemplated operations. On balance, however, we conclude that the overall system can continue to support military operations at the average levels of the rjastonths.1

E. We believe that Communist capabilities will support theoptions, at least

o escalate military pressures substantiallyhort period;

to reduce military operations well below average levels of the past year;

to undertake military operations at substantially the same average levels as over the past year.

Rppears unlikelyonsiderable decline in the strength or morale of Allied forces, since under presentlarge-scale attacks would be extremely costly for theand could not beaximum effort with the forces available in South Vietnam might be launchedrelude toa general cease-fire and shifting the struggle almost entirely to tlie political/psychological arena.

ould conserve Communist manpower andadopted for some months to test its political effect in the USSaigon.rolonged stand-down would risk rapid loss ofthe countryside, deterioration of Communist morale, and aof domestic pressures in the US to withdraw US forces.

he course pursued by the Communists overyear, would be relatively costly to Hanoi and would add topressures in North Vietnam which have becomeYet so long as political issues are not resolved in negotiations

* for tho vfcw* of Miifw Ccn. jammie M. PhilpftU, Attislaiil Chief al Staff,'SAI>', M'cliis comments in his Inotnoti* to

ami the fighting continues, Hanoi may feel it necessary to stay in the field with forces which will enable them lo conduct periodic offensives, some of which may lie fairly large and costly, and to maintain pressures on the GVN presence in llie countryside.

I. As indicated above, wc believe Hanoi lias tho capability to pursue this military course0 at levels approximating those of the pastonths. Whether it considers such an effort feasible or worth while depends, of course, on its judgment with respect to US and GVN resolve, subjects beyond the scope of this estimate. In any case, political action and maneuver will probably be intensified within South Vietnam and on the international scene as thecontinue efforts to undermine the GVN and isolate its leaders from the US.



In the aftermath of Tel WftS, if not before, the Vietnamese Communiststhat they could not achieve docisivc military results on the battlefield in South Vietnam against the combined strengths of CVN nnd allied forces. The alacrity with which the Communists responded lo the March IMS cutback in the bombing and the IN oner to begin talks demonstrated their own readiness toegotiating phase of the struggle.

The move to Hie conference table was followed by some adjustments in military tactics. Since the costly glfensives of Tet andhere have been virtually no large-scale assaults on major cities: rather the Communists haveto maintain military pressures hy standolT attacks on some cities and mililary installations, and by ambushes, sapper activity, and occasional frontal assaults on allied military positions. Meanwhile assassinations, kidnappings and other terrorist acts directed at pacification and other local officials have continued.

.'J. Despite the resort to "economy of force" tactics, the human and material costs to the Communists of sustaining military pressures have not beenreduced from the peal levels ofS. Casualties have been runningigh rate, necessitating conlinucd inputs of North Vietnameseto maintain force levels in the South, and logistic requirements arcIn short, the Communists have felt it necessary to sustain ahigh level ol mililary operations iu South Vietnam in support of their currentthe position of the CVN and persuading tin; L'S to pull out or to settle generally on Icniis acceptable lo Hanoi.

n the following sections of this paper, we examine Communist capabilities iu terms of manpower and logistics tu sustain tbe average level ot fighling Over

llii' [wl year, and some of thi- considerations thai might influence Iheto intensify or de escalate the level of combat.

o. We ate aware, however, that the capabilities of Communist forces in South Vietnam areimple function ol the availability of men and arms.factors diiecdy affecting the performance of Communist forces iu the field and the will and morale of the population and the regime in Noith Vietnam, are important. Communist capabilities to prolong the war arc also directly affected by the effectiveness and performance of the CVN and Allied forces. Finally, given tbe heavy dependence of the Communist eflort un the active or passive support of several million people in South Vietnam, psychological and political factors affecting their allegiance bear heavily on Communist military capabilities. To the extent possible, we will deal with some ofdditional elements in this estimate, but il is not Our purpose here to "war game" or "net" Communist capabilities against the allies.


A. The Organization and Strength of Communist Forces in South Vietnam

(i. Under Hanoi'sarge, well-organized, political-admiilistratlvemotivates and manages the overall Communisl effort in South Vietnam. This apparatus has existed throughout Vietnams control clement is lhe Vietnam Workers Party (Luo Dong) and the southern wing is publicly Called the Peoples Revolutionary Partyront groups controlled by the Party include the newly formed Provisional Revolutionary Governmenthe National Liberation Frontnd the Alliance of National Democratic and Peace Forces. This Oigani/ation acts not onlyovernment in Viet Coirg-conliolled areas, but maintains an important clandestine presence elsewhere, collecting intelligence and undertaking various subversive efforts. Its primary rcsjHHisibi lilies, however, are to maintain discipline and morale, and to mobilize manpower and other resources in support of the overall effort. Because of these functions and the leading political role it would also play for the Communists should combat cease, this apparatus is the key element of the Communist presence in South Vietnam.

The current estimate o( hard-core members ofea projection based on sketchy and dated evidence. Thegeographical distribution of the infrastructure and the dedication and effectiveness of its personnel are as significant as itso-ordinated allied effort directed specifically against lhe political-administrative apparatus lias gotten tinder way wiihin lhe past year. It is difficult to assess the results of ihis effort thus far. It is clearly causing the Communists some concern but, despite some altrition and disruption, the infrastructure remains basically intact and capable of engaging in roughly Ihc same magnitude of operations as it has dining Ihe past lour years of the war.

MiUliinj Forces, Overall control of military operations iu South Vietnam is exercised by the: High Command in Hanoi. The Central Office, for South Vietnam





Vicrtriiiin Workers Parly headquarters in thea mili-Ury aliairs office which exercise* tactical conirol over those military forces located in the Miutheni half of Soulh Vietnam. Elsewhere, Communist imlitary forces are tactically controlled hy Hanoi, cither directly or through the military affairs sections of appropriate regional ]iarty headquarters. Hanoi and COSVNelleetive links with the district and small-unit levelsierarchy of regional, s'lbrcgional, and provincial commands.

military force* are organised into threw complementaryor levels; the Main Forces, including North Vietnamesecal Forces; and the Guerrilla/Militia. Main Forces are battalionunits, supported by appropriate staffs, which are Subordinate toahove the provincial level. Ixical Forces are battalion, company,organizations, also supported by appropriate staffs, which areto the provinces and districts. Guerrilla units arc platoon andwhich are subordinate to villages and hamlets.

Our latest estimate of the personnel .strength of Communist military forces ill Ihe South is listed in Tabic I.

Organizationally, lhe Communists have increased their manuever forcesumber of additional battalions, thus adding to their tactical flexibility. The intensity of combat haside fluctuation in lhe actual personnel




North Vh'tnaiiKW Army

Vkl Com! (Main iuxl Local



North Vietnamese Army

Viol Cong







strength of these units, and Overall has ledower average strength. The major change in the general positioning of enemy forces during the post year or so has occurred in til Corps,ignificant buildup has taken place.

Trends relating to the size and mix of Communist forces are extremely difficult lo discern. In general, however, it appears that Vict Cong Main Force and NVA strength has increased slightly since the end ofhe proportion of North Vietnamese troops in the regular forces has also increased somewhat during this jteriod. Viet Cong Local Forces have probably declined in numbersrowing number of NVA replacements, while guerrilla strength has declined numerically and qualitatively during the past year and one-half. Ccn-erally, all ol these trends appear to have involved only ntoderate shifts, and overall, we believe that total Communist military personnel strength as ofas shout the same as in the mouths prior to the6 Tet offensive. Since then, there may have been some decline due to continuing high losses iu combat.

Olhcr Croups. In addition lo Ihe political infrastructure aud military forces, tbe (Jommunist presence in South Vietnam includes oilier organized paramilitary insurgent groups. Self-Defense Forces, for example, const met fortifications, warn of the approach of allied foiccs. and defend hamlets and villages in Viet Cong-controlled territory. They are not well-armed, do not leave their home areas, and perform their duties oulyail-time basis. Assault Youth primarily perform rear service functions at the district and province level. They servo full-time, however, and are organized into companies and platoons. We believe that Sclf-Defeuse Forces may number betweenhile the Assault Youth total. These estimates are projected from limited data, and are included only toough order of magnitude.

B. Communist Manpower Requirements ond Availability

liiiiatCSiCi'tois, pliiOiiCiK, ;iml allowances for varintuypes of IcttCt. hutpiinuirily upon an .idiiiUhiflyam) ol those killed ia action.hc wiikspriNwl iw ol allied nrlillny <hk1 ,iir poiiYr. tbe tllixls ot which cannot. It i- likvly that our estimates of ComnmnHI lossisli>rst.itfd. In light of tin- teiHiuu* uMun ul tlusc CJliniaU'i und other ilifiicuhks, it iv nol possible toi mm lit Uisiii siivnii;various lypci nf Commmutt forces.

ur estimate of VC/NVA personnel losses in South Vietnam7 was;t increased to, and was running at about the same high level during the first half of this year. Upow. the Communists have managed to ullset these heavy losses by local recruitment in South Vietnam and by the deployment of replacement groups and organized units from North Vietnam. Iu the following paragraphs we consider Communistto continue the replacement process.

Recruitment in South Vietnam. There is no reliable demographic estimate of the manpower pool in South Vietnam. Seemingly slight variations in assuinp-

(ions regarding lln: age-sex ratio oi tlie population or the percentage of physically (it males can result in diffciences of many hundreds of thousands of available men. Moreover, the manpower actually available to the Viet Cong varies con-sideiahly as the Communist presence expands or contracts in various areas of the country. Nevertheless, it is clear that the manpower supply available lo the Vict Cong is growing smaller. Il is being reduced by continuing casualties on both sides, by the recently intensified CVN mobilization effort and by the ton-linuing shift of population from rural to urban areas; tlie latter is especially damaging to Communist recruiting. Our estimates ol Communist recruiting in South Vietnam remain tenuous. During the past year and one-half, themonthly recruitment rate has rangedew thousand during certain periods0 for several months followingel offensive. Estimates of total recruitmentanged0.

n any event, the growing maupOwer squeeze has affected the quality of the recruits to some extent. Men of prime military age are becoming more scaito, and theie is evidencerowing numlier of recent recruits inear age bracket within Viet Cong ranks. The high, rapid turnover hasa shorter training period for recruits, which also detracts from performance. Mosl important, the growing recruitment problem in the South has forced the Communists for some time to rely primarily on troops from North Vietnam to maintain the strength of their forces.

urij>oicer Auiilabie in North Vietnam. Heavy troop requirements for the South coupled with increases in the North Vietnamese Armed Forces have been cutting into North Vietnam's pool of able-bodied young men.hrough the first halforth Vietnam increased ils Original armed forces ofyen and infiltrated to the South anen. These figures suggest that close to One million men were mobilized by the armed forces during this period.

recise manpower balance is impossible to construct because of the lack of reliable demographic data On North Vietnam and uncertainty about the uumlter ol males physically fit. Nonetheless, we estimate that closeot ih Vietnamese males reachach year, thatf these would be physically fit for military service, and lhat the tolal number of physically fit males remaining inls5 age group is something less tlian one million.

lie men iu this pool arc variously employed in the agriculture, industry, and sttviecs sectors of the economy, or are students. No very precise calculation of the numbers of men that could be drawn from those civilian activities for military service is possible. So long as foreign aid is available to replace losses in material production, military exemptions could be limited primarily to those with special skills in administrative, distributional, transport, and war support activities. Inew men may be: excluded from military service for political reasons, including some Catholics,nd ethnic minorities.

top cesntl


There are olhcr indications that North Vietnam is nol yet at the bottom of its manpower barrel. During the bombing program. North Vietnam was able loonsiderable civilian labor force to repair bomb damage and. with tlie help of Chinese troops, to expand its transportation network. With theof the bombing and the improvements in the transportation system, the total demands on (he civilian Itibor force have slackened considerably. Moreover, analysis of Noith Vietnamese prisoners indicates that North Vietnam has not yet taken significant numbers of draftees Irom outside the primary draft uge group of

However, the mere existence ol manpoweriven age group is not the sole dctcnuiium! of Hanoi's willingness or ability to supply troops to Southontinuing drawdown of manpower reserves over the long-term imposes social and economic strains on any society that cannot Ire ignored. Such social and economic strains couldore relevant ceiling on tbe number of men Hanoi could send south than the absolute numbers involved.

North Vietnamese Armed Vorccs. The North Vietnamese Armed Forces continued to expando and are estimated tos of






Armed Public Security0




South Vietnam*


"Jn addition to those troops deployed in South Vietnam, thi* fwiro in-cludr* two divisions and other forces in adiaceut anus ofdmhodia. and Noith Vietnam, and an0 NVA tillers in Vict Cong Main and Local Force units.

Mo-country North Wtuam'-se force* include the lulluwin# majornfantryrtilleryuti-aircraft artilleryraiuinanfantryndependent infantrymiorcdhese romlwt elements total someen. 'fhere in training, iiir dcfcirtc, enianeir,ii and othei suppmt units includint; pcivnime)to theommand.

Military Training in tlir North.5emands on North Vietnam's training capability grow as increasing numbers ol men wore recruited, trained, arid infiltrated to South Vietnam. From prisoners and other evidence, we know that Hanoi's regular training establishment now wrrsisls of threedivisions plus one training group, with an estimated capacity tootalecruits iu one three-month training cycle,ecruits per year, beyond this, we also know that subordinate units of regular line divisions and independent regiments in North Vietnam arc used toraining mission.estimate that the eight infantry and one artillery divisions could trainecruits per year using one regiment per division,sing two. Similarly, the eight independent regiments could turn out an additionalecruits per year using one battalion per regiment for training0 using two. On this basis, we estimate lhat the North Vietnamese have lhe capabilily tootal of about lbO.OOOen annually and the upper limit of ihis range could be raised by shortening the training cycle.

he infiltration of unprecedented numbers of hoops from the North indicates that record numbers of North Vietnamese were Irained during lhatample of NVA prisoners captured in South Vietnam indicates that about four-fifths of those who were drafted7 and earlier vcars had received at least three Or four months of basic training, while three-fourths of those In-ducted8 had less than three months. Thus it appearseducedcycle and somewhat less tlian two-thirds of the line units were used to train the record number of (roups trainedhe North Vietnamese haveattempted to compensate for the shortened training cycle to some extent by expanding pre-induction militia trainingyear olds.

e believe that lhe level of training carried outSear maximum eflort, and that il could probably not be sustained without aeffect on both the caliber of training cadre and the quality of Ihc training received hy the infiltrees. This effort, for example, apparently spread thin the available high-caliber training personnel, and tliis, togetherhortercycle, prolxtbly contributed to tlie observed decline in Communist combat performance in lhe Soulh in recent months.

nfiltration.9 the North Vietnamese have dispatched well overillion men to South Vietnam and adjacent areas. Wc estimate thatnd possibly as many" arrivedS. Based on inputs into

"Vice Atlin. Wmoo L.cting Director, Defense Intelligence Agency; MajorA. MeCfuistiau, Assistant Chief uf Staffielli fiance, Department ol the Army:llarllinucr, II, Amiitant Chief ofiratioraepart-

ment of thr Navy; and Major Gen. Jtimtiiie M. I'hilpolt, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USA I', believe that the best single estimate ol infiltration into South Vietnam during IMS. If anything, tins luOue may be high, lupeiienee has shuwn as ikw Information is obtained, llie total figure for I'HiN hiu dri-icasrd. It is, iherefnre, considered iiiilitilv that the (animate will go.

tho system throughrobably arrived during the first half of this year.

picture for additional arrivals in South Vietnam for thethe year is now in doubt. Analysis of available intelligence indicatesthe end of March there hasharp reduction iu tbe numbers ofput into (be infiltration system in North Vietnam.groups entering the pipeline in May, and in |uly|


movements ol0 personnel plus live groups ol undetermined size over the next few months. We cannot determine the departure dates from North Vietnam lor these personnel.

In any event, and even if replacement inputs pick up substantially in comiiig weeks, it appears that there willulxstanlial reduction in the numbers of replacements arriving in South Vietnam during the next few months. This reduction might nototiceable impact on Communist capabilities until later iu the summer since die troops which have already arrived in South Vietnam, those projected to arrive by July, and those recruited ill SouUi Vietnam, should largely offset Communist losses during the first half of the year.

The rate of infiltration hasen erratic, with no clear pattern apparent, and the totals varying considerably from month to mondl. Wlulc weather and other seasonal factors have occasionally disrupted infiltration, they have never been important in limiting it, or even controlling it in the sense of establishing any seasonal patterns. There are considerable logistic problems in feeding and caring for llie troops enrOutc, but on the; basis of actual numbers of troops infiltrated we can only conclude that the Communists liavc steadilythis capability. There is some attrition among troops during infiltration because of sickness, desertions, and hostile actions.verall loss rate for infiltrators from all causes is estimated at0ercent.

North Vietnam prokahly luis the capability to sustain even the relatively3 level of infiltration at least through the cudhere is, as explained earlier, sulGcenl manpower available in North Vietnam. Provision of adequate training forarge number of recruits overrolonged period would be somethingtrain, but it probably could be managed, 'llie present logistical facilities along the infiltration pipeline are probably sufficient to support such levels of infiltration.

Availability of Forcesajor Reinforcement Effort. If North Vietnam decided loaximum effort rapidly to reinforce Communist troops in South Vietnam, it could conceivably deploy eight to nine divisionlhe bulk of ils combat forces in Laos and Norththe DMZ area withinays. There are.iurmVr of considerations militating against such an effort. By removing (roups which play an important role in recruit

anoi would impair iis capabilities toontinuing Howemoval would also weaken N'ortli Vietnam's internal security and liomerobably to an extent not acceptable to Hanoi. In thisHanoi might fear thatajor rcinforecrnenlnM precipitate renewed Utmhiiig of the North. Hanoi could remove it* force* from Laos for deployment in South Vietnam, but thii would weaken severely tin- militaryof the I'.itO. Given thesend depending on Hanoi's view of (he risks und opportunities, it might be willing at someiit to attract an additional thiee or lour divisions {someen) from its existing forces in North Vietnam and Laos for reinforcement of the South,


o supply their forces in (he South at the relatively high level of combat which hastheave had to create an extensive andlogistical network within South Vietnam, supported Irom North Vietnam, Laos, and Cun1>odia. In addition, lliey have liad to depend increasingly upon inilitary and other supplies received from the USSR, Cliina, and olhcrcountries.

A. Logistical Requirements of Communist Forces in South Vietnam and Adjacent Areas

n their own planning the Communists almost certainly establish jupon the antiti|vatcd levels of combat and upon forecasts

of losses to allied action. Wc have insufficient information regarding detailed Cominnnist military plamiing or their expectations of losses to estimate these requirements, but the normal tendency would be for the planners in llie field to cover all contingencies. Moreover, the pattern of actual supply movements in support of tbe Communist effort in South Vietnam fluctuates considerably. The seasonal weather pattern, changing levels of combat, the requirement tosome contingency stockpiles, and the vulnerabilities of the two majorlogistkul systems all contribute tu these fluctuations in traffic. As the external requirement for arms and ammunition has growno lias the need furus. leaving asldr llir question of consumption and losses in Laos or elsewhere in the external system, the total tonnages actually moved for use in South Vietnam almost ceiluinly are somewhat greater lhan would be indicated by the average daily requirements shown in Table HI,

t this point, however. We are concerned with estimating the actual quantities of supplies iiecdcd to sustain military operations at tlie average levels of the (tail year or so. For purposes of making this estimate we define these requirement* as tlie total of supplies actually cxiiisuined or expended plus losses dueptuic or destruction bv alliedspite tlie uncertainties involved in estimating tlioc tonnages, there is no doubt that the Communist logistical burden has Increased considerably. Our estimate of their daily consumption

rcmiircinciits in South Vietnam is nowons per day* aboutercent more lhan estimated requirements inboutons of this dailycomes from Outside Southincrease ofercent. These increases in requirements over7 are due to the higher rate of combat,arger Communist force Structure In South Vietnam, and to tlie equipping of nearly all Communist forces with newer and heavier weapons.

mes. The quantities of Communist Supplies captured or destroyed by allied ground action have also increased sinceor the past six montlis or so, these losses have heen averagingons per day, including an estimatedons of arms and ammunition received from external sources. Communist supply losses from allied air operations in South Vietnam arc much more difficult to estimate, but they clearly constitute another significant burden on the Communist logistical system which further increases the volume of needed supplies from out-of-country sources. Among the supply categories, the loss of ammunition is (he inosi serious problem for the Communists; Overall ammunition losses may total more lhan three times the current daily Communist consumptionConsidering both losses and consumption requirements then, it appears thit over the past two years total supplies needed for NVA and Vict Cong regular and administrative support forces in South Vietnam liave increased by overercent, while the proportion which must he procured from external sources has almosi doubled.

Tnhte lit.


Shout Tons Yen Day




(Food) .

and IV (Weapons



(Auiimiuiliun) ..

table dorw not include the requirrmenb lor those forces deployed in andabove the DM7-

I'nr all ol lOlSK. the (umuiiipUui ofas alxnitons per day of which alxnitom came fiiiiu external smim-i. Thr lower requirement in the table reflects the decline in an mm nil ion expend it ares that occurred in the last half8 compared to ihc higher expenditures of the Tet. May, and Aucusl ISWS uflensivoi.

' One third uf ibe weight(lie eitruial requirenventadagliiuwo-third* of the weight is actual ammunition.

Tot* riirffrjr



o s






, Dil 7.




AC: v_ OOT




tuv ll




wo fry

ei c



Hit lU'.il



Logistical System

logistical system consistsell organized structure withinwhich hits both procurement und distribution (unctions,arrangements in Cambodia, and supply lines from NoithIhrough the DMZ and Laos into South Vietnam.

forces in the field do not operatelogistics tail";on propositi on cd slocks of food, ammunition, nud other necessarythe entire object of the system is to get supplies to the right placesareas, iu the iiocessaiy quantities, and in advance of plannedthe lime-consuming process of moving supplies, it is obvious thatmust be estimated and submitted well in advance, probably ingeared to the seasonal campaigns in South VietnamIt is also obvious tliat if the prepositioned stocks areor otherwise denied, the Communists have to reduce the intensityor shorten, postpone or cancel them.

3S. The nature of lhe system alsoremium on maintaining major supply stocks reasonably close io the combat zone. The Communists haveto do this by establishing numerous base areas in relatively secure districts in South Vietnam, in the sanctuary offered by the Cambodian border region, andos convenient to the exit routes into South Vietnam. These base areas serve oilier functions; they contain hospitals, troop training facilities) rest areas for combat forces, way stations for infiltrating troops, and secure camps for high-echelon command and administrative authorities.

indicatedarge proportion of the total Communistis met from sources within South Vietnam. Much of tlie food,and POL used in South Vietnam is purchased, confiscated, or producedCommunist apparatus in the South. But important quantities of riceCambodia and nearly all arms and ammunition come from sourceslo South Vietnam.

Vietnam: The Rear Supply Base

economic conditions do not greatly affect North Vietnam'sto supporl the war in the South. The principal material contributionsNorth Vietnamese to the war have been manpower and the maintenancetransjiort system capable of moving men and imported war materiel to/.ones. The lost domestic output of North Vietnam's ratherhas been compensated for by increasing importside varietygoods, particularly food. In addition to heavy imports ofVietnam receives from the Soviet Union, Communist China, andope virtually all of its requirements for petroleum, machinery, andmaterials. The bulk of the military equipment used by theliolli North and South Vietnam Ls, of course, also imported from theThe value of milititrv aid from other Communist countries is estimated

at0 millionown (torn0 millionin: decline in military importsS probably reflects reduced needs for air defenseparticularly aininunilion and Siufaee-to-air missiles, since tbe US lximbing cutbacks ofarch ando long as external sources coutuiue to supply North Vietnam's basic domestic requirements and the resourceslo maintain the flow of war materiel to the South, the deteriorated economy will probably havelect on the regime's capability to wage war.

Shtee the liombing halt. North Vietnam has restored the essential parts ol its transportation system to normal use, and has stepped up the expansion and improvement of selected facilities. The important rail lines have been fully repaired and construction has begun on some new rail segments. Additional berthing facilities and other improvements are being made in the port ofTheCs miming south from Hanoi/Haiphong to the DMZ and the Laos lnirdcr were quickly restored after the bombing halt, and the three mail) roads to Laos through the Nape, Mil Oia, and Ran Karai passers have beenIn addition, the North Vietnamese have beenew supply corridor consisting of threeLaos along the western edge of the DMZ, which when completed, willhorter and much less exposed means of moving supplies into Laos.

These developments now provide Hanoi with the capability to moverapidly toward Laos and the DMZ. Indeed, since the bombing halt, the Communists liaveajor supply movement into the southern pan-liaiidle of North Vietnam using available rail lines, truck routes, waterways and coastal shipping. This hasubstantial military supply buildup in the southern panhandle of North Vietnam some of which is visible in open storage. While wc have not attempted to quantify this buildup or the overall stockpile level iu North Vietnam with any jirecisiun. we are confident tliat the stocks available are more than adequate to support the war in South Vietnam without further imports into North Vietnam for several months.

D. The Loos Panhandlo

Communist Forces Invottxtl in Lttgatic Movements Through Laos, lhefor the establishment, operation, maintenance and protection ofinfiltration and supply routes in Laos rests with thethCroup, headquartered near Tchepone. It is organizedumber of "Binhmilitary wayarc assigned specific areas of responsibility and are located along major LOCs extending at least as far smith as the Cambodian frontier. They have organic ground security and air defense forces, and the larger stations have engineer forces, civilian laliorcrs, and Assault Youth available to effect road repairs and construction.

We estimate that the strength of theth Transportation Croup, including transportation, engineer, AAA, cOiuuiO-liaisOn and infantry elements, isormally some of these forces return to North Vietnam

' This figure0 wlio may lie deployed to South Vktiumi nl any given time awl dien Ii't in the Oidci ot battli- for Soulh Vietnam.

fromotian Panhandle during (he rainy .season;ovement isunderway.

oail Construction- Since the North Vietnamese started to build roadsarge scale in the Laos Panhandlehey haveonstruction schedule influenced primarily by weather. In (he dry season (November to Juno) they construct new roads and improve existing ones; in the rainy season when the roads deteriorate, new construction stops and work is concentrated onof the existing roadnet. Because of the intensified bombing during the past dry season, the Communists had to devote greater efforts to the repair of existing roads and to the construction of new bypasses. These new bypasses, together with other new rood construction, addediles to the road network iu the Laotian Panhandle. Most of this year's work has been devoted to the three new cross-border roads from North Vietnam near thend to bypasses around heavily-bombed cliokepoiiits.4



In existence, pi'ux loKS




SeptemberI UGH

n addition lo their road construction and improvement activities, the Communists haveetroleum pipeline and undertaken waterway improvements including dredging. The petroleumnoted in Julyextends from the Viuh area in North Vietnam through the Mu Cia pass soulhwardiles intoIhe pipeline is undoubtedly intended to lighten the truck traffic on the LOC net, to free truck resources for other cargo, and to aid in better distribution of fuel to the upper panhandle region. The pipeline does not extend the length of Ihe North Vietnam-Laos logistic coiridor, however, and trucking operations must still be maintained from the pipeline terminus southward. Finally, in attempting to divert aerial attacks from primary targets, the Communists have increased their use of deception techniques such as building dummy roads and water crossings, lures, extensive camouflage and trcllising.

* See iv ii implead mop of Laos Panhandle.

'Thisour inches in diameter and baraily capacity ofetrichelenmnd for petroleum in Laos is in lh" region between llie Mil Cia Pass and Tclh'|)uilv, and along. If the pipeline is (blendedl! present terminal to meet tliit demand, it would release additional trucks- for othcrr duties.


hus, ihe Communists now have inore complex year-roundsystemigher capacity than ever before, even though truck


traffic falls off sharply during lhr. rainy season. 'Ihe many new bypasses around interdiction jhmiiis and oilier troublespols will assist in diversifying traffic patterns to countci air interdiction efforts. The new cross-border roads just north of the DMZ will offer more options for introducing supplies into lhe Laotian Panhandle and couldain route for truck traffic during the forthcoming monsoon season because they have less mileage vulnerable to lite weather and air attack than the routes tlirough more northerly passes.


he variance in the in formation reported from the sources available makes it difficult to make accurate determinations on the quantity of supplies moved into Laos over the dry season. j

There are olhcr complicating factors. Tho averageappeals Ii iiiii1 iiKieased from thrct lo almost four tons liul we arewhen this change took place. On balance, we lielieve thai (lie volumeactually moved into Laos from North Vietnam from9 was at least as much as during the same period in tlieyai and

extrapolating, whicnower est Unite Irian oiikt

source's we <akulate thatorn per day of supplies moved into the i. Panliandle during tlie period as comparedons per day during Ihe same period last year. This does not include any figure for POL tonnages moving through lhe pipeline.

u from Air Attack. The air interdiction effort in Laos has been very costly lo the Communists. Over the past six months trucks and supplies have bun destroyedigh rate. More manpower has licen necessary to construct new roads, lo repair damaged roads ami trucks, and to man anil aircraft posi-

SAK study hwlkiUM that this total mayons per day.


tinus. II is difficult tu estimate the- amount of gexxls lost in Laos by bombing because of the inherent possibility of errorlot reports of trucks destroyed and damaged, and assessments of the amounts lost in secondary explosions, which are the main sources of these estimates. Nevertheless, given these caveats and potential for error, we estimate that duringry season, enemy suppliers lostesult of (rucks effectively destroyed by bombing probably totaled aboul lo percent of the tonnages of supplies entering Laos from North Vietnam during the period; secondary explosions and fires resulted in additional losses-

Available fay South Vietnam. We estimate that Communistrequirements for their forces inos Panhandle togetherthere totalons per day. Usingons per dayos, thisotal erf abouterns perstockpiling or movemesnt lo South Vietnam, It is estimated thaiin South Vietnam require onlyay of supplies fromvia the Laotianf pilot

are usedasis for estimating tht* flow, the net amount

available for onward movement to Communist forces in South Vietnam or ste>ck-piling in Laos would be even greater. In sum, all the available evidence indicates that over the past year the Communists have moved mote than enough supplies through Laos to the South Vietnamese border to cover our estimate of their requirements in South Vietnam tlmt are satisfied from the North.1*

e. Cambodia

has long been an important source of supplies for the VietCommunists obtain some of their medical supplies, chemicals useful inof explosives, and communications equipment there, hut mostnon-military shipments consist of Cambodian rice. We believe thatsupply as much asercent of the daily food requirement offorces in South Vietnam. Cambodian rice is particularly important to

" The istiiiutr at total external icquiieiilcnts of Communist forces In Southons per dayTable HI,. Honghly, it is estimated that someons of thesecpii renin.Is come directly acrossZ,ons (mainly food) fiom Ciriihodinii souitxs, and the reinaimtiKons via Laos.

" Major Ccn. Jaimnie M. Miilpott, Assistant Chief of Stafl. Intelligence.issents front tlx- (inures tjiiotral in. and lhe judgment at the end of, this paragraph. While it is useful to UlMilntc Ihe enemy's estimated consumption and losses in order loetter understanding eif hit logistic system, a* was doneable III. page H. bis actual re'piiicmcnts, of necessity, must lie related .lirectly lo his intentions and bis espaIill Mrs. t'SAF analysis indicates that during lb" November0 peiiod. alter internal consumption and losses from bonibinit,ogistic tonnage available for onward movement to South Vietnam was apPicKiilkiVlyons per elay. Thi* amounteduction tJ aboutons per day fiont stockpiles tllat edited In Laoshe foregoing, when viewed in conjunction wiih his supply losses wiihin Soulh Vietnam Indicates that lhe enemy iu*elKi shortfall lhat sluvdd resulteduced level of cmiiiv activities during Ihe last half

Cornrnunift Iroops in Ihc ncv-drfk-tt highlands of II Corps and northern III Corps. wIktc it probably constitute* their main foodMost of thehipped diirrth/ across tltc Cambodian honU-r; some of it is moved up the Se Kong River to Communist forces locatedm or tn adjacent ports of Vietnam, 'lln*trnment controls tlir tnidc in foodstuffs for profit and in order to maintain *omc political levi-iugr. It.-ccnit evidence, for example, indicate* that tho Camlmdiims temporarily suspended major shipments to the Qmimunists while working Out new arrangements governing the use of Cambodian territoiyimmunist forces.

e have also been ennvineed fur some time, that some of tlie armsarriving in Sihauoukvlllc from Communist China are divertedCommunists iu the III and IV Corps regions ol South

]haveeasonably detailed and consistent picture ot an orgini-

y.iliori sQlhin tlx- Camlmdian Atwhich controls tltcse arms shiprncnts

to the Commiuusts. as well sa dcli%rrim of lood and other supplies.types of contracts exist between Camlxxlian

authorities and tlie Viet Cong. Tlie first involves the shipment of nun military goods to the Communists; the other concluded between FARK and VC/NVA representatives, governs the shipment of arms and munitions.

r have been less successful ill obtaining reliable and consistent evidence on the actual tonnages involved in these arms shipments. Wc lack firm and reliable information on the acliiul tonnages of arms and ammunition off-loaded at Sihanoukvllle, and there is considerable doubt over whatprescrits Ihe legitimate military requirements ofCambodian armed forces.

onctlidess, recent evidence strengthens live case forore than minor diversions from Camliodian stocks. 1

We still cannot quantify the flow, but recent eviileuoc suggests that tlie tnninges1 involved over tlie past year or so havean important, and atubstantial proportion of Communist re-qniremcnls in III and IV Corps.

erhaps the major limitation on Communist use of the Cambodian route for movement of arms andwell as reliance on Camliodiant* the dqieitdeocc on Cambodian cooperation The entire system is vulnerable

to miiUU'i) termination.

almost cer-

/Over llie past lew months there lutve been numerous instances ulinitiated military clashes with Vietnamese Communist forces on Cam-hodiau teniUiiy. The recent embargo appeared to involve arms and ammu-

nition as well as food

tainly was designed to lorce tlie Communists lo reduce the presence of their troops on Cambodian soil and stop the supportrc alleged to give local dissidents. Bid whatever the reason for this recent Cambodian move it serves to illustrate the limits on the reliability of the Camliodian portion of thelogistical system.

As for the logistical route leading southward from the Laos Panhandle, we have difficulty estimating the extent of its use over the past year or so. Southbound traffic levels in the vicinity of the tri-border region78 suggest that Communist requirements for southern II and all of III Corps could have been met via the Lao Panhandle logistical route. But the direct evidence available on the actual movement of arms and ammunition moved southward from the tri-border area towards III Corps is extremely limited. Nevertheless, therermg-established and extensive trail network there which is continuously being improved, and Communist forces arc present along its entire length.personnel are infiltrated via thisor these reasons, and in view of the small tonnages involved, we believe this trail system is more tlian adequate to handle all the estimated arms and ammunition requirements of Communist forces in southern II Corps and all ol III and IV Corps.

In sum, we liclieve that Communist forces in III Corps now obtain arms from both the Laotian route and the Sihanoukville route. The evidence remains insufficient to prove tliat one or theroute presently carries the bulk of the required arms and ammnuition to IV, III and southern II Corps, although there is little doubl that lhe importance of the Cambodian route has grownover the past two years or so. Wliatever the past or present pattern of movement, however, we believe lhat Hanoi considers the Laotian route as its most important channel since it is firmly under Communist control, lias the necessary capacity, and is not subject Io Ihc politicalbelieve the Communists will continue to defend and improve the Laotian route.

F. Seaborne Infiltration

believer that the Communists no longer rely to any importantsea infiltrationeans of obtaining anus from abroad. The lastat sea infiltrationteel-hulled trawler was inlunlikely that such large craft can evade US patrols and we doublto do so arc now being made. However, it is possible lhat small craft

do bring in some supplies from Norlli Vietnam and Cambodia. Tlie principal Communist use of the sea routes is for lhe local movement of supplies along the eoast in small wooden craft within South Vietnam.

G. Principal Supply Problems ond Prospocts

It is evident that the Communist logistic system, through internalin South Vietnam, overlaud shipments from Noith Vietnam, and deals with the Cambodian Government, has functioned adequately over the past two years lo make supplies available Sufficient toempo of combat much higher lhan lhat prior tohe system is well developed and continues to deliver more than the minimum supplies we estimate are necessaryustain Communist forces in combat at the average levels of the past year.

We nevertheless believe that tlie system lias begun to feci the strain of the more intensive tempo of the war. llie portion witliinis encountering many difficulties and strains because of air interdiction. Difficulties in positioning and securing supplies within the actual combat zones in South Vietnam, particularly those, lar removed from Communist bases, have grown appreciably. Denial of cached supplies,esult of allied ground operations and allied artillery and air power, frequently upset plans for particular military operations and perhaps in some instances caused the Communist to alter specific campaign objectives and tactics. These difficulties are among tlie several factors which limited the overall level and intensity of Communist military pressures8 to levels which wc believe were below those intended Logistic problems have also had some influence upon Communist strategy thus farhe present reduced intensity of combat, however, is not one that imposes severe strains on the Communist logistics system. Thus, so long as Hanoi continues to receive the necessary external supplies, the Communists should be able to provide their forces with the necessary support to coiilinue the war at the average levels of the pastonths.


ew Weapons. In certain respects Communist forces in South Vietnam have managed to improve their capabilities. They have rc-equipped their forces,ortion of tlie guerrillas, wiih new Chinese Communist and Soviet weapons, includingutomatic rifles, and various caliber mortars, rockets, and reeoilless rifles. This has improved the assault capabilities of Communist infanliy and enhanced Iheir street fighling and sapper capabilities as well. Tbe new weapons have also increased the Communists' defensive capabilities and, in general, the confidence of their lower level troops. Perhajis most important, these developments have enhanced their capability for standoff attacks. Finally, while the equipping of Communist forces with heavier weapons lias increased tonnage requirements from external sources, the standardisation of weapons simplifies their logistics.

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InieUigena: Capaltilklek. Communist military ciqiatnliacs in South Vietnam arc cunsidcrahly enhanced by good tactical und strategic intelligence inforrrva turn, llie quality and timelines* ol their intelligence is due partly to the nature nf lite war; there is no front Hoc ami t'urnmomtt sympathbris existiith Vietnamese society. In addition, however, thr Communistsighly tleveloped awl professional intelligence effort [

M. Tim NVA Presence. The impact of the Increased proportion of North Vietnamese troops and units in South Victwim in recent years is more difficult to umm. This trend may have caused some resentment in Viet Cong units, though lUrr is no evidence that friction has reached serious proportions. Moreover, tlir North Vulnarnese are far less familiar with the terrain. But they are better trained and equipped, and more tightly disciplined than southern recruits of recentn balance, the inrrrased NVA presence has probably enhanced Communist capabilities.

Aforair It Is evident from captured documents, ralliers, and prisoners morale problems among Communist forenBOUM) VtotnMJi Ml Hi irilfcHft The main reasons appear to be the diminishing expectation of clear-cut victory, and the unwillingness to face increasing physical hardships and allied firepower, especially with the Paris talks raising hopes of an early peace. The impact ofenus is reflected to some extent in the large number nf Communists who have rallied under the Chieu Hoi program over Ihe past year and the evidence of increased desertions. Moreover, raptured dortiments and other evidence indicate that Communis! leaders are increasinglybout troop morale.

Any cwkIusioiis ashe impact of these morale problems on Communist mllltury capabilities roust be tempered by the knowledge that similar evidence of serious inorale problems has been available throughout the war. even In7 put prior to the Tet offensive. Moreover, there have been no large-unit defertiorn. Nor arc there many medium- or high-level polilkal or military cadre among the ralllrn. ll is also evident that Communist forces still show considerable aggresand initiative on lite battlefield.

Communist capabilities are also being aelvrrwly affected by signs of in-creased alienation of the population under Communist control and in contested areas. Disillusionment with Ihe Communist cans.', increased CommunUt demands, andie! put ion of an early end to the fighting apiK-ar lo be the main causative iuelois. lhe situation has contributed tci increasing migration lo areas under CVN control, andputar rehielance In co-operate witht nil ment and tax cnllcctinn efforts. However, these trends have existed few seime timr and iheir effects have developedlow, cumulative manner rather than sliarply ami suddenly.


l I'll

OS. Allied Operations. Allied military activities have imposed majorOi> Communist military operations. The heavy casualties suffered by tbe Communists iu8 Tet and May offensives, when they sent large units against urban centers, undoubtedly contributed to the decision to switch to the more conservative, economy-of-foree tactics which have since characterized their offensive operations. Even so, many of these more recent attacks have Wen blunted by increasingly effective Allied spoiling operations. Allied military action has resulted iu Ihc capture and destruction of large quantities of Communist supplies and, along with the GVN's pacification program, has constricted Communist controlled territory and hampered their ability to recruit personnel; it has also limited Communist access to local funds and supplies. In short. Allied forces have not only denied the Communist forces in the field auy military progress but have also reduced their overall mililary capabilities during the past yearalf.

Political/Psychological Faclm's in the North. The cohesion and delermina-tiou of the leadership in Hanoi are among the most important intangiblesCommunist capabilities, 'lhc leadership probably has been strained byopposition to committing more and more of North Vietnam's resources to the war witltout tbe clear prospect of early success in llie struggle. Debate over the proper extent of involvement by the North has gone on since3 when Hanoi first decided to send regular North Vietnamese troops to the South. We have recently learned, for example, that this debate reached suchin the months prior toS Tet offensiveumber of middle-level officials were arrested.

Late last summer, the regime appeared to have reached some newabout lhe overall effects of its previous policies, These were reflectedong reportparty theoretician Truong Chinh which criticized implicitly the inadequacy of political preparations for8 Tet offensive and expressed deep dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the North. Nut only had the results of Hanoi's efforts in lhe South failed to match earlier expectations, but the war had adversely afleeted the all-important "socialist-base" in North Vietnam. Marxist orthodoxy was being eroded, and the country remained dependent on massive doses of foreign aid. Chinh's report left no doubt that Ihe regime was bent on correcting lltese internal problems and lhat it was reluetaut to lo make them worse by launching more large-scale offensives in the South, until adecpiate political and Other preparations had been made.

Since last autumn, the leadership has beenajor effort to tidy affairs in North Vietnam and to counter increasing war-weariness. Its appeals to youth, party cadre, and the military, in particular, reflect growingwiih the long-term corrosive effects of the war on these key elements ofiri 'IT.ry also suggest th:i! the le^ma; findsiIt to ohlain full support for its policies and the sacrifices they entail.

It is possible that all factions iu Hanoi now agree that the US will to continue the struggle is declining rapidly, citing the start of US troOp rcduCtion?

Tor scent:

as the most recent evidence of this. But Ihevailable suggests that llauni remains quite uncertain regarding US intentions, the implications of Vietnamiration, and lhe probable duration of the military conflict. We believe that recent developments have not removed the grounds for debate in Hanoi; indeedlieies of the new US Administration may have served to sharpen ami enlarge the area of debate.

hese political and psychological considerations restrict Hanoi's ability to exercise the capabilities described iu this paper. Their influence should nol be-lo not believe that they will necessarily force Hanoi to make early concessions in order to bring the war lo an end. We certainly see no evidence, fur example, which suggests that problems of security, morale, or indecision will cause any early collapse of the Communist war effort. The Viet-namese Communists have proved quite skillful in coping with such problems in the past and they have devised their current military and diplomatic tacticsake account ol these weaknesses.


e believe il is fair to say that Communist military effectiveness on the battlefield liasualitalive decline over the past year. In any prolonged conflict at the current level of CVN/Allied commitment, this decliuc would almost certainly continue and perliaps at an accelerating pace. While Hanoi is almost certainly concerned about these trends and its heavy casualties, itirm and disciplined control over its people and armed forces, and there is little evidence that the infrastruclure in South Vietnam is weakening in ils dedication and effort, despite long years of struggle.

s indicated alxive, the Communists appear to have sufficient manpower to absorb casualties and to maintain military pressures at9 levels for at least another year or so. 'lhe logistic system is also adequate to sustain such efforts, although ils maintenance in Laos will involve considerable difficulties so long as air interdiction continues and, willun South Vietnam, logistic problems will euntiiiue to influence the overall level and intensity of Comiuunisl militaryons.

Wilhin lhe present level of effort, there are many variations iu tactics Open to the Communists; they can concenirate their efforts on US forces and bases, on the ARVN, on the jweification organizations, on urban areas. Or on some mix ol all these. They can altempt relatively low-level but sustained pressure, or ihey can mount relatively large-scale attacks interspersed with prolonged periods of regroupmenl to base areas for rest and refit.

The Communists could also optubstantial escalation ofhort period. Some might argue, for example, thai later this year, or earlyonditions in South Vietnam and the US will be ripeajor military effort similar toul given allied military power and the current state of readiness, such attacks would be extremely cosily and thev

could nol bo sustained. Particularly in view of past eouccrn in Hanoi over tbe indecisive results of heavy investments of northern resources, and ils desire toapability for protracted war, we doubt lhat Hanoi would gambleesperation campaign to bring decisive results. Hanoi might be more tempted lo increase military pressures some time in the future, however, if it concludedesult ol phased US iroop reductions that morale in Saigon and the ARVN was declining and that higher US casualties would accelerate the reduction of US forces. Finally, it mightaximum effort with the forces available in South Vietnam,relude toeneral Cease-fire, and shifting lhe struggle almost entirely lo the political/psychological arena.

VS. Hanoi could, of course, decide to icduce mililary pressures to alower level. If they do this, lhe North Vietnamese would he likelyto increase efforts io Paris to extract allied concessions, both in termsolitical settlement and in terms of curbs on allied mililary activity.

rolonged reduction of military pressure, however, would raise several problems for the Communists iu the absence of political progress or an obvious reduction in Allied military pressures. II would probablyecline in (be US casually rate, and the Communists might consider that this would case US domestic pressures for an end Io the lighting. Furthermore, the Communists might feel thaieduction iu their military ellort would appearacit admission of military weakness, shaking the confidence of their troops and political apparatus in lhe South, and reinforcing that of the GVN. Finally, the Communists might be concerned lhatourse would permit alliedand programs to erode their political and military base.

ven al their present lorce levels and with their present mililary effort, lhe Cominunisls arc suffering in the South an erosion of their organization and of their conirol over the population. Nevertheless, if they see lhe war continuing wellt seems likely that Communist strategy will call for them to stay in the field wiih forces which will enable ihcm to conduct periodic offensives, some of which may be fairly large-scale and costly, and to maintain pressure on the GVN presence in the countryside. In any case, political action and maneuver will probably he intensified within South Vietnam and on Ihe international scene as tbe Communists continue efforts to uudennine the CVN and isolate its leaders from the US.

Original document.

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