SPECIAL NATIONAL INTELIJCENCE ESTIMATE
possible effectsroposed us course of action on drv capability to support the insurgency in south vietnam
Coaivrrtd1 in byUNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD
I L Iff
aiiUBCT: : POSSIBLE INFECTS OP PROPOSED U3 courses 0?
r kt/ camiuxity to support the
To cntlrcatc QOi WW capabilities ta support the ioaurg/incy in the Smith uouia be"byne <scDpe ond intensity af the hoablnr, of forth Vietntw, andone it would tafce for the icrpect to bm felt in UN boutu.
Theins of tho bonbing would bo:
To lcittroy those recou-ces already in Horth Vietnam thatoofit to support of Ccemnlet forces in the South;
tfo hjXook external uanlutiince to the CRV;
3. To harass, disrupt, and Impede the movement of men ond material through the southern DKV Into loos ond South Vietnam.
Course A: The enlarged bombing prosram vould Include aerial attacks doaiijned to:
Destroy all known POL facilities in the northern CSV;
Destroy all large allitary .facilities In the northern DRV, except airfields and SAM sites;^
Interdict the land LOCs froe China and close DHV ports by various means including mining;
1*. Pat and keep electric power facilities out of action;
5. Carry out armed reconnaissance against land and water LCCs and all identified military faeilitiefl. South ofh parallel, ouch reconnaissance would be particularly lntonsive and carried out doy owl night.
Course B: The procram as above, but without closing DRV ports by raining or otherwise.
Constant survei;lance of tho airfields would be maintained and their destruction undertaken whenever interference with our planned air operations, or any offensive air actions against our military forces In SVK, might bo initiated. Any SAM installations threatening to interfere with these operations would be attacked.
bombing attacks on Hortht does not deal with tbe possible effect of these attacks co DRV will to continue tbe var.
A. Tbe ccojblned impact of destroying in-country stockpiles, restricting 1sport capabilities, and attacking tbe southward LOCs would greatly conrplicate the DRV war effort. The cumulative drain on ass te rial resources and human energy would be severe. The postulated; boob log and Interdiction campaign would harass, disrupt, and impede the movement of men and material into South Vietnam and impose great overall difficulty on the DRV, However, we believe that,etermined effort, the DRVill irove substantially greater amounts than-
2] Major General Jack B. Thoeaa, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, United State* Air Force, believes that this conclusion and tbe tone of the estimate reflect an under-eutlmation of tha overall Impact of the postulated bcoblng program and closing of the DRV ports. He believes that the cumulative interacting effect of such bombing and port closure on tbe econocy, tbe oilitary structure and tbe political andfabric of Horth ViVtrac would degrade the DRV capabilities to support the war In tbe southreater extent than this estimate indicates. By excluding consideration of the North Vietnamese will to continue theery important effect of the postulated bombing and port closing haa been eliminated.
owever, the cumulative offset of the compoicn would almost certainlyi^lt topariDion of pavb and vc malnforce units ond activities in couth vietnam. there are too many unccrtointle3 to pemit anf just where that halt would be set.
c. if tlx noin ports were not closed, supply of dhv needs from the outside would he creotly simplified, and the problem of wringwithin the dpv wcaoo bo eased.
y elements in this problem ore tho logistictbe corsunist forces inot nan and tbe capability of tbe rsvand novo supplies to those forces, while ot tho sane tinerequirononts in horth vietnam and laos. preaontlypermits assigning only rough orders of magnitude to either
the require3tmto or the capability.
for external supply of the coorainlstin south vietnam have thus for been small. petroleumand food for these forces coma almost entirely froa within supplies received from the drv5 almost0 tons, possibly less; some portion ofprobably vent into stockpiles. because of tho numbers of fftvx
troops Infiltrated during the year, increased standardisation onamily of itecpons, and tho introduction of heavier veopnno, the call on outflde supply rose greatly during the latter part of tbe year; the6 rtqulrcncTit is likely to be substantially higher than thrrtlx main rsguiretxat is forand aura, tilt Ice, the reealnder being eoitmainica'oionH equipment, qunrtermaoter goods, medical supplies, and snail amounts of other items. Only minor quantities of all theoariginate in the TSTV; most coiae fromhine.
3. Intelligenco on actual movement of supplies shows tbat existing lines of BmmmmWtcationnder the levels of aerial attack carried out prior to the tombing pause, wero not used at anywhere near their estimated capacities. Nevertheless, tho Communists have been nnhinc major offorta to Increase these capacities. We believe this is done partly in anticipation ox" increased rr-quireocnts and partly toaximum margin of excess capacity to absorb reductions which might be caused by intensified aerial attack.
II. DtPAiTT OT COURSE A
Ii. Destruction of In-Country Resources. Successful implementation of the cwapalgn against in-country resources, especially the destruction of moot of the electric pouor facilities, would practically paralyze tlie small modern industrial sector of the DHV's economy. However, this vould
not critically weaken the traditional aubsistence econccry upon which tho majority of the population depends, /aid, because so little of what is sent south ir. produced in the DHV, an Industrial shutdown would not veryducc the regime's capability to support the insur^-ency, thou,'* it would complicate maintenance and repair of transport snd other oguipnuril.
instruction of the nino tiojor remaining POL storage facilities would deprive the regie* ofors of bulk storace capacity and whatever POL in now storod there. Tills would leave probably lossonth's noraal consumption0 tons) lr. distribution facilities and dIspersod storagedrums ond small buried tanks. of tho major military facilities In tho DHV would mmb tho loco. of some stockpiled munitions, although most such storage Is now veil dispersed and concealed. In goneral, the rcgloe would respond to the loss of stored reserves by tightening the priority system, and resorting to substitutes where possible, nevertheless, the loss of tlieoe reserves, especially POL, vould force the DRY to almost complete dependence on current imports to sustain its operations.
Cutting the ICCa for Outsldo Guppllos. 5 the DRV receivedilllon tens of Iraxn-ts, two-thirds by sea and nearly coo-third by rail, the spall remainder coming hy rood, trail, and river. Closing the main seaports to norml shipping, -whether by bombing, mining, or both, wouldoduction In Imports and diversion to railroad, highway,
smcdi-craft, and coastal shippinc. An Industrial shutdown In the DRV vould remove come strain from, toe rail system, as about half ofonsailoal for the ThaiMast furnaces, and other raw materials accounted far further tonnage. ons of military equipment arc estimated to have arrived by railostly for ICT rir defense.
7- Tho effectiveness of the interdiction cnnpalcn vould not be the saje for all aeenc of transport. L'hile ocean shipping would be stopped frot. ucinc the ports, some supplies could be offloaded by lighters and other small craft. The use of ibttllov-dxtft coastal shipping could profeafcily be increased over present levels oven if harassedairly high Intensity of amal reconnaissance. Roil transport couth of the Chinese border could bo reduced drastically, butwrienco ofor II and Ksi-cu indicates0 percent shutdown ie inost unlikely. Rood transport, uhlch now play;eeort in the import trade, could lo expanded.
0. The effect of tho postulated UO course of action would bo to reduce substantially the level of imports intc the DRV. ubotantial portion of current imports are for supporting the modern sector of the economy and othor uses not criticsl to the survival of the regime or the support of eoocntiol military basis. Ue believe thst sufficient supplies for these vital purpoeee could be brought in. This vould include the small quantities necessary for transshipment to South Vietnam. Importation
of POLey problem, but -jould be curnountoblo In cshort tL-x,ew vco!:s, since- cuantltiea lr-voL-ed Toulf not be larrc, oven If Increased oouowhatvloun lave 1c. Ssviat POL could be unloedoi frcu 'jnnlzers ot Chon-chiens in South Chine, iioved thencell the ^IfY jorfier ond from than to the Hanoi crca by trucl;. It could also move from the USSR by rail directly across China, or dovn the cacst froa Chan-chlang in sbellow-draft shipping.
Restricting tho IPCs ir.ietnam South of thever these routesoth oea endauBt novo: (a) the rolotivcly smll amounts of neterlei thot are forvorded to South Vietnam; and (b) tho eonalrterab'i' larger amounts required for the Horthon IVhot port of tho IHV south ofh parallel). The crucial probTor. would olaoat certainly be POL; ot the end ofthe forces In Military Region IV were cor.cut.ilng POL at the rute ofhortonth. This supported three solo activities: (a) turlntonance of LOCa and local transport within the Military Region itself; (b) operation of the Regionraining and staging ima; and (c) actual movement af men ond supplies into Lfloo ond on to South Vietnam, elieve that despite airoablnationucks, shollcv-draft coo* toi ohlpnlng, and other meana of transport, moving at night and hiding by day, could bring into theoneonth plua other essential aupplles.
BftJOt Is Scrth Vlatiam
10. he combined impset of destroying in-country stoeHpiles, roatrletlnc import capabilities, rnd ottechlng tho oouthvard LOCo Mould greatly com??lento tho EHV vor effort. Life In Korth Vietnam vould hotringent wartime foot Inc. nd af.lnteaance of olr defease, PftVB, and coastal defense installations,f Csosunistr. loos, and maintenance of internal LOCs would bo given the Richest priorities. Ml these activities vouldpenfiituro of time ond effort, and the cumulative drain on notorial resources, human energy, ond ncralo vould bo severe. But so long as the regt-ae vas determlnon' to continue. Communist China ond the USSR vould almost certainly feel compelled tohe necessary coterie! support available. Wo believehat China, at least, would if necessary send in additional personnel to aid in maintenance of LOCs and equipment and in the movement of suppliss within Korth Vietnam. The experience of previous voro, oa well as ours of tho situation In Vietnam Itself, leads us to believe that the "JRV vould bo able to move essential supplies to the placos neededrolonged period of time.
Jl. Specifically, while tho bombing ond Interdictionassumed ia this paper would harass, disrupt, and Impede the noveoent of men and material Into South Viet nee and imposo great overall difficulties on the DHV,believe that,otonalnod effort, the DHV could movegreater amounts than it did
Ir;ryct Or. rhc Mar In ?hc South.
in the first Smof tho intensifiedthe supply operationj.iost eortainly sufferaisruirtlono. The deliveries -joule1 probably he irregular ami"be can-idcrablo uncertainty as to vhethor key materielparticular military unite would arrive os scheduled. Considering
ihcVJJ penchant for lone and detailed planning ofcrationa, ihc irregularity of deliveries and doubt as to the reliability of rosupply night "end to the postponement or cancelation of some large-unit offensive operations. However, tactics could be adjusted to meet the problem of irregular supply.
these tactical consequences, the ccailntive effect ofaerial campaign would almost certainly set soce Unit toofnd VC noinforoo units ond activities ir. Souththe post your, the requirements of theoe forces have alreodyconsiderably. V'o believe that the Communists Intendpondone provide then with heavier weapons. If so, logisticwould rise, not in proportion to the numbers of additionalbut much faster, for several reasons. For one thins,forces almost certainly require groater amountsrc divers Ifled
::irt(i3 of external supply than do VC forces. Theeavieri) lies already begunight antiaircraft artillery aoyvine: in. The latter is inci-enslngly needed to counter tho effectvWiF close cir support. These weapons create heavier logistic deraands.
j-!. Durtig the last year, the Conmini3ts have lost stockpiles cf food, weapons, and other stores ir. South Vietnam to ground action and bombing. Moreover, to tho ejrtent the Communist forces try to intensify hostilities in the South or are couponed to meet expanded tjs/gVo' offensive operations, thoy will use up suppliesigher rote. This effect would bo particularly noticeable In the category of ammunition. In ihe categories of food and weapons, we do not know enough sbout the amounts and distribution of stockpiles to estimate what reserves the Communist forces still have, but they con probably continue to obtain their essential POL and food, from sources within South Vietnam.
15. hese factors taken together indicate that an attempt by the Coni'iunlsts to increase their strength In South Vietnam might raise supply requirementsevel beyond the practical ceiling imposed on their logistic capabilities by the bombing campaign. In short, whereas the proposed US course of action would probably not force reduction of present levels of support, it would probably place an effective celling on
Cronuis' capabilities toeir military effort la the South. ttast the level of peinfo-ci=ent previously prov'o=tec
bouten per'-v. ncvjasBry supplieswould still be pos-lble despite the postulatedrogram. e, however, too many urcertainties to permit estimating at ;ust whatho limit or expansion vould te. Among these uncert?ir.tios ore the axteit to which the Communistsinfiltrate men and materiel into the South by ooa, through Cambodia, or by alternate LOCs.
16. Ao for the time at which the impact of those effects wouli be felt in South Vietnam, wo cannot on tbe basis of tho above considorations estimate that wc could detoct aay Impact In the senseonsistent and appreciable diminution of previous general levels of activity.
Tj Refercr.eeProbable ^camiuilst ReactionsS Course ofnnex A, paragraphhich reads as foil owe: "There are on estimatednfantry rcgimenta In the north Vietnamese army, of whichould probably be reserved for hone defense. Of the remainder, about half could be used to trai'i new units and roplnceracntc fortoiotn'o. orce of thie site available to furnish las tract ior. and tralmi:if, aboutew BUI regiments or regimental equivalents ofac each could bo trained and infil trotted1 into South Vietnam This would amount to an overageattnliouonth.
- J2 -
III.OURSEHERCORAK, DJT WIEJDUT CLOSINGJJCTWtESE PORTS
17. During tie post year about two-thirds of total imports into north Vietnam, cane by sea. If tho main ports were not closed, these or larger amounts could continue to arrire, though foreign shipping would almost certainly be aoroevhat inhibited by doubts as to whether the US would continue to leave the ports unmolested. The probieci of improvising land transport from the China border to the Hanoi area would scarcely arise at all if nor-esaary supplies could come by sea into flaiphons. Additional trucks vould then be available for use in other parts of the ECf/. The difficulties of importing POL would be greatly alleviated, even though "sulk storage facilities were destroyed. The problems of distribution within Horth Vietnam and of forwarding supplies to South Vietnam uould be cased, but they vould remain substantial. Insupply of DRY requirements free -utsid* sources would be easier and more effective, and awc'i of the impact of zhm previously considered course of action would .llrlnlahed.