NORTH VIETNAMESE CIVILIAN REACTION TO U.S. AIR STRIKES

Created: 3/8/1967

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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TEXT OF CIAUBJECT: North Vietnamese Civilian Reaction. Air Strikes

some villager! in the coastal areas of North Vietnamese province* betweenhh parallels were askedmost of the fishermen linked the bombing of North Vietnam to the active pursuit of tho war In the South by the Hanoi regime. The crewishing boat from the Chiang Xuong district believe that if the North Vietnamese Government stopped infiltrating troops and supplies into South Vietnam, the American bombing of North Vietnam would cease. None of the fishermen demonstrated any spirit for the war and none volunteered the opinion that the reunification of the two Vietnam*ause worth fighting for. Their principal interest in tho war is having the bombing stop.

Local Lao Dong Party Cadre tell the villagers that the bombing it in revenge for the terrible losses the United States mad its "puppet"

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South Vietnamese Army are sustaining in the South. The villagers give progressively less credence to this claim as the war drags on, more mon are drafted and never heard of again, and rationing becomes more acute. Although village officials report that many of the attacking aircraft are being shot down, the villagers do not believo this because they havo witnessed little, if any, effective defense measures, and the air raids continue. One of the fsw who witnessed the downing of an American aircraft related how the aircraft flying protective covereavy toll of militia and army troops who were attempting to capture airmen from the plane which had been shot down.

The North Vietnamese regime's inability to end the air attacks by counteractions has caused some villagers to seriously doubt the Government's oft-repeated boast of "the inevitability ofany judge tha decision to continue fighting in the Southack of official concern for the dangers and hardships the bombing is causing the people in the coastal villages.

Although many of those questioned described the bombing ashen pressed most admitted that principal targets for attacking aircraft appeared to bo security posts, bridges, radar installations, and coastal and inland waterways traffic. (Comment: Off-target bombs and flimsy construction of nearby structures seem to cause the majority of civilian casualties.)

The villagers, especially in areas that have been bombed repeatedly, are terrified by the raids. The populace, therefore, holds daytime activityinimum, and many of the Government-operatod economic and administrative units, including the fishing cooperatives, have been either damaged, abandoned, or evacuated to areas that have not been bombed.

Because of air attacks on fishing boats, Government confiscation of boats for use in coastal and inland waterways cargo shipping, and breakdowns because of tho lack of spare parts, fish production has been reduced in many areasoint where the fishermen cannot turn in enough fish to the cooperatives in exchange for sufficient rice to support their families. The fishermen admitted that in such cases they often resort toortion of their catch for sale on the black market. The hours they spend fishing are dependent on considerations of safety from air attacks rather than on when the fish are likely to bite. The size of the crews on those boats remaining operative have accordingly increased.

In spite of monetary incentives offered by the Gove runo professional fishermen to serve as coastal shipping laborers, the fishermen avoid this service whenever possible because of the dangers involved from air strikes.

People in the coastal villages are resentful of the time they areto spend, with no compensation, in repairing bomb damage and digging coastal defensive trenches and air raid shelters.

The fishermen frequently mentioned that Regular Army units in their villages were withdrawn after the village was bombed and that militia units are now providing internal security and manning anti-aircraft artillery sites, la at least one village the militia disregards orders instructing it to fire at all enemy aircraft because it assumes the ground fira will drawattack.

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