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SUBJECT: SNTS PROBLEMS OP VIET CQBG
RECRUITMEOT AKD MORALE
Thia estimatereliminary treatment of this subject which will be worked out nore fully in, soon to be published. Accordingly we are distributing it only to Mr. Rostov, who requested it, and fin two copies each) to the cenbers of USIB.
ABBOT SIOTH Acting Director Rational Estimates
PROBLEMS OF VIET CONG RECRUITMENT AND MORALE
To assess the nature and extent of the recruitment and morale problems confronting the Viet Cong.
Although Viet Cong (VC) difficulties in recruiting personnel,qualified cadres, and maintaining morale in South Vietnam are likely to increase, they are not likely to lead to an early collapse of the VC effort These difficulties are least evident fn the VC Main Force units and most conspicuous among guerrilla and self defense forces, but they do not yet appear to have seriously weakened overall VC guerrilla warfare capabilities. The VC infrastructure, despite some weakening, appears to remain generally strong. The operations of Communist regular forces axe becoming an increasingly Northshow and North Vietnam probably has sufficient manpowerto support the war in the South at least for the next year or so.
I. COMMUNIST FORCE STRUCTURE IN SOUTH VIETNAM1
The Communist organization In South Vietnam is made up of North Viet* namese and Viet Cong (VC) regular farces, administrative service units,self defense forces, and political cadres.
Horth Vietnamese and VC regular forces are composed of NorthArmy (NVA) units, VC Main Forces (units directly subordinate to Central Office Southr regions ornd VC
1 Figures ooserviceuerrillas, self defease forces, and political cadres, are not provided lo thlt estimate because new estimates on thece strengths axe in the process of being formulated. They will be published ia tbe forthcoming, "Capibultks of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting tn South Vietnam-"
Local Forces (units directly subordinate to provincial or district party commithese regular forces totalen;0 are in NVA units0 in VC Main and Local Force units. The VC Main and Local Forces, once composed almost entirely of southerners, have increasinglytheir replacements from the North.
3 Administrative service units are composed of military staffs and rear service tecJinical units (ordnance, signal, medical,rom COSVN to district level.
Guerrillas are largely full-time forces organized into squads and platoons which do not always stay in their immediate home areas. In addition to combat operations, their missions include terrorism, sabotage, the protection of village party committees, propaganda, and tax collection. Self defense forces are paramilitary forces which do not leave their home areas, and members generally perform their dutiesart-time basis, Their duties includethe construction of fortifications, and village and liamlet defense. Units arc only partly trained, and few members arc armed.
The political cadres arc the command and administrative personnel of the VC infrastructure, the instrument through which the VC control or seek tothe South Vietnamese people.
II. COMMUNIST RECRUITMENT AND MORALE PROBLEMS
General. Although our intelligence coverage is uneven, the burden of evidence from all sources in South Vietnam indicates increasing VCin recruiting personnel developing qualified military cadres, andmorale. The gravity of these problems varies considerably from region to region and with the type of unit. Difficulties are least evident in the reguLir forces and most conspicuous among the guerrillas and self defense forces.
These problems are not new. They liave been apparent5 when, in hopes of quick victory, the Communistsapid expansion of their forces. As the Communist forces grew, so did theirhese were compounded by Allied military pressures which increased casualties, defections, andn addition, the increased intensity of military action resulted in targe-scale emigration from VC-controlIed areas, draining off potential recruits.
Recruitment. Recruitment problems throughout the VC structure have been evidenced by unfilled recruiting quotas, reduced recruitment standards (age, physical condition, and politicalnd greater employment of women and youth. They have been particularly severe in areas of intense Allied military pressure, but have not been totally absent elsewhere.
1 NVA Major General Tran Do Midpecch at COSVN headquarter) inOur difficulties are those of growing up. If we did notliable main force, we ceiUUily would not have to worry about replacement personnel. It is precisely because our main forces are strong and big that there are difficulties."
efector it definedC who leaves his unit and comes over to theewrtci leaves his unit with intent oot to return.
military operationseavy Bon1 of refugees to Alliedhave reduced the manpower pool available to the VC. Capturedindicate that, sincehe Communists have lost controlone millionefugee groups generally contain somewhatthe normal proportion of men of military age. Recruiting "'illdifficult if the South Vietnamese Revolutionary Development (RD)further restricts VC access to the population. The Communiststhe potential seriousness ol this threat.
In order to maintain its strength, the VC Main Force has, sincerawn heavily upon the guerrillas and self defense forces for replacements. With greater losses in the past year. VC Main and Local Force units have also come to rely increasingly on North Vietnamese as replacements.esult, some VC Main Force units, particularly in the north, are probably now composed largely of North Vietnamese. Local force units have had greater difficulties in maintaining strength than the Main Farce units, but like them continue to draw on guerrilla and self defense units far replacements.
The difficulties in recruiting have affected the guerrillas and self defense units most direcdy. ave not been able to meet their recruiting quotas.
The overall availability and quality of VC political cadres at the lower levels have also declined in many areas where losses have been heavy andgenerally inferior.
Morale. The general state of VC morale cannot be judged with any degree of certainty; the factors affecting it are numerous and the information Is spotty. The defector rate, whichtatistical indicator of VC morale, is running currently at about double last year's rate. Virtually all defectors are low ranking South Vietnamese, and the rate of defection is highest among guerrilla and self defense forces. There is good evidence to indicate thatalso is recognized by the Communistserious problem, and one which seems to be increasing. These facts pointecline in VC morale;VC troops continue to fight well and there have been no mass or unit defections.
III. COMMUNIST RESPONSES AND PROSPECTS
Responses. Evidence from prisoners and capturedthat the VC have been acutely aware of their growing recruitmentproblems and are attempting to take corrective action. Theare trying to reinforce and tighten their political control apparatuscountryside by dispatching experienced, higher level cadres to lowerby using more North Vietnamese cadres in VC units, and bystreamlining. The VC have increased their propaganda and
'We estimate Die number ol people Hi South Vietnam remaining under some degree of Comma not control at thn* to four million.
other pressures on youth to enlist and are relying heavily on conscriptionbtain recruits.
Prarpectx. Allied military pressure* will continue to impair VCand morale, particularly in areas of major military operations tad where US and Free World forces arc stationedore or less permanent basis Successes achieved by the RD program will add to the VCs problems, at leastocalized basis, and it is possible that the CVN's National Reconciliibon program and its progress toward popular government will promote additional detections. Some of the Communist countcrmeasures may prove ineffective. Cadres may lie disappointed by their seeming demotionower level, and an increased number of North Vietnamese in direct contact with southerners could miraditional regional frictions.
Although the VC problems of recruitment and morale are likely tothey are not likely to lead to an early collapse. Counting heavily in favor of the VC is the continued effectiveness and good morale of their middle and upper rchrlon leaders The VC mf restructure, despite someappears to remain generally strong Fuitherrnore. it would do* be prudent to assume that the VC cannot improve leadership at lower levels
Meanwhile, the operations of Communist regular forces are becoming an increasingly North Vietnamese show. This will reduce demands on guerrilla and self rWcnse forces for replacements. North Vietnam probably ha* sufficient manpower resources to support Ihe war in the South at least for the next year or so.
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