ATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE.
- COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO POSSIBLE US COURSES
; SubmittedOF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE'"'
by the -:
, * STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD
"' DIRECTOR OFfollowing intelligence 'organizations participated inpreparation of. this estimate; The Central Intelligence-and lhe hileliigence organizations-:ofC and. . *
y tne - si" UNITED "STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD
utere ihe Director partinent of State: thehe Alotnic finer,"
Representative lo thi USIR; and the Director of the National Security' Agency. The Assistant to theedcfalof. Investigation. Mowed the vabject beingjuttide
of his jurisdiction
CLASSIFICATION Of TITLE IS OFFiriAI. USE QWY: ' HEN USED SEPAkAi liLY ' i
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: SBTE COMMUNIST REACTIONS TO POSSIBLE US COURSES
OF ACTION AGAINST NORTH VIETNAM
To estimate CommuniBt reactionsS coarse of sustained air attacks on North Vietnam-
This estimate lo intended to supplement, not to supercede,n the same subject, dated For example, tbe probable involvement of Communist air forces is discussed in that paper, and not in this.
1. The U3 air attacks on North Vietnam have odded another ingredient to on already intricate and complex aituation. Hence Communist reactions to these attacks will not be the product of the attacks alone, but will be
rm*ied from au*Omatic
governed by numerous factors: the state of relations omonc the USSR, Coenunist China, and the DRV; the attitudes and conduct of various free world powers especially France; developments in the UN; the course of events In South Vietnam; the manner and reee with which their attacks develop and the policy of the US itself, not only as this policy may be enunciated by the administration, but also as the Communista may read the
influence upon it of newspaper and Congressional declarations and other expressions of diverse views. We cannot estimate with confidence or precision how these factors will interact in weeks to come.
Reactions to the Bonbinpa of Early February orew More of tS'Saae Typo, South of the ISth Parallel
To ostabllsb Communist power in South Vietnam end to unify tho country under the Hanoi regime is the primary national objective of the DRV leaders. Prom the bcginnlnc of the Insurrection In the South, however, they have conaiatcntly admonished their followers to be preparedtruggle. Only In the post few months have they >ccaslonally talked in terms of victory being near. This feeling may have been dampened somewhat by the past week's tougher US action.
There ore probably some anions the DHV lcodcrohlp who wouldautious course. They would arae: that collapse ofesistance is inevitable in time despite any amount of foreign aupport, end that it would beisk destruction of the TfiV's laboriously acquired modern
ccon cole sector aerely to accelerate the pace of victory. However, in the present moment of high enotion In Jtonol they probably hesitate to voice such thoughts.
k. To the militant majority, the recent US oir attacks probably appear to be the actionsoo endeavoring to ward off defeat. Those leaders probably reason that if tbe DRVAc stand firm or even increase their pressures in the South, they vill have to rideev more surli US attacks, but that the US/GVH disposition to continue the struggle vill decline. To these leaders, any display of apparent weakness in the face of the bombing vould signal to the US that it had hit upon the vay to get what it wants in the area.
5. We accordingly believe that the DRV/VC reactionew moro air attacks like those of early February would probably be to continue their pressures in the South more or less on the scale of recentlways with an eye upon factors like those mentioned in paragraph 1. At the -cue:-, 3 cannot sure vhether US aetiontj prfflmflsustained course of air attacktit-for-tat" proeran of United reprisals to specific provocations. It la possible that they vould,eek or two, refrain from direct attacks on US installations, but ve cannot estimate that such restraint la probable.
V'hc Chinese Corinamiata will oljnoat certainly encourage the DRV In tho more militant course. Yo do not believe that they will Intervene in Vietnam vith substantial military force during this stace. Ve sec no evidence at present of preparations to do so, althoush we cannot have full confidence in our ability to detect such preparations.
Reactionseclared and 3uatalncdjJS_ Pro-yog of Bcttblnr; In the North
7- Over the past decade tho UKV hoo Invested much time, effort, end capital in the development of Industry, transportation, ond relatively modern military facilities. Thoy will not lightly sacrifice theoe hard-won Cains. hreat by the UO to mount sustained attacks on these eacots would proLably be (rreeted in Hanoi with mixed leellnps of trepidation end skcpticisn. At the start, the Ceramists would not be convinced thot the US Intended really to follow throurh with this progran. They vould slnoat certainlyange of pressures in on endeavor to sake the U3 desist. They would iraintain strenuous diplomatic and propaganda efforts to organize international influence against the US policy. They would probably threaten dire consequences to US intereato in the area. Chinese Communist thrcato would bo more insistent, and Chinese Comirunlot forces would probably be deployed In more threatening posturee. Viet CcOu" uttwels would probably continue, though not necessarilyteady pace.
8. If despite these proseures, the US vigorously continued in its attacks end derated aoce important economic or Military cesets, the iJW
leaders vould have toecision. They almost certainly believe that, while the US could destroy nruch in their country by air attacks, these alone would not cause their regime to collapse or prevent them fromto support the insurgency in the South. And they may believe that their international political position would improve if they became the object of sustained air attack from the US. Accordingly, they might decide to intensify the struggle, accepting the destructive consequences in tho north in the expectation of early victory in the South.
9. It seems to us somewhat more likely however that they would decide to make some effort toespite from US air attack, especially if the US had indicated thatespite wouldharp reduction of Viet Conge do not know how far they would go in concessions,
The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State, believes this course of action less likely than that described in paragraph 8. He considers that Hanoi would feel that any benefits to be gained byespite would be more than offsetoss of momentumime when victory appeared near,oss of face with the VC, and by the consequent bolstering of US/CVN morale. Hanoi vould have in mind that concessions under such circumotenceo might only invito tho US to resume strikes upon any renewal of Viet Cone military activity.
Moreover, the assumed vigorous US attacks on major tercets could easily coincide with the probable use over the DRV of Chinese air defense from Chinese bases. If oo, US responses would either have been to acknowledge the privileged sanctuary of Chinese bases or to strike tbe bases in hot pursuit, thus inviting further Chinese military responses. Hanoi's persistence would be reinforced either way.
whether the US would accept what eight be offered, or what the international situation night be atime. We think it extremely unlikely, however, that Hanoi would concede so far to US demands that It vould entail abandoning its support of the insurgency in the South or giving up its Intention of unifying Vietnam under Communist control.
Chinese Communists would almost certainly be willing toDRV in even the more militant course of action outlined In paragraphhave set forth In SHIE, with Stateof dissent) the use the Chinese vould be likely to make offorces.
Possible, but Unlikely Reactions
of temporarily easing off or Intensifying presentpressure, the Communist leaders might actually engage in actionschange the scale and nature of the war. These vould be muchand aggressive courses and, although they seem to us unlikelylight of logic and prudence, they are possibilities which cannot
a. They mightargo-scale DRV Invasion of South Vietnam and/or Laos. Ve think it unlikely that they vould do this in response to bombings of liorth Vietnam. They vould feel that at beat this drastic policy
would only accelerate victories in Laos and Vietnam which they are confident they will win before very long through less costly tactics. Such an invasion would virtuallyreater Involvement of the Chinese in Vietnam, which la in itself distasteful to the Sorth Vietnamese. The Communists vould recognise that to launch such an invasion vould be to invite further major destruction upon the DRV and perhaps upon China.*
fa. We think it unlikely that the Chinese or DRV would respond to US air raids by air attacks on US aircraft carriers or South Vietnamese To do so vould invite counterattacks on tbe vulnerable Communist bases and start the escalation of an airorm of hostilities most disadvantageous to the Horth Vietnamese and the Chinese. neak attack on a
* The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State,
believes that paragraph Ua la applicable only in the Initial stages of botblngs in Horth Vietnam, veU below the Hanoi-Haiphong target complex. Once US attacks destroy major industrial and military targets in this complex, however, Hanoi vlU have substantially lost Its hostage and suffered the maximum damage It could anticipate from the air. In this case the DRV, having suffered the destruction of its major military faculties and the Industrial sector of its economy, would probably carry on the fight and proceed to send its own armed forcesarge acale to Laos and South Vietnam. Hanoi might assume that the US would be unwilUng toajor ground war, or that If it vaa, it could ultimately be defeated by the methods which were successful againat the French.
Furthermore, if tbe DRV should persist In this fashion, Peiping would probably introduce limited numbers of Chinese Communist ground forces into the DRV asoth to prepare for further escalation and to make clear Peiping's commitment to assist the North Vietnamese.
carrier by an unidentifiable Chinese submarineore difficult possibility to weigh, but we are inclined to think the chance Is slim; tbe risks would be fairly high and Chinese confidence in the ability of their inexperienced submarine force to pull it off is probably low.
e. We also think It unlikely that tbe Chinese Communists would start another major crisis elsewhere on the periphery of China. Faced with the possibilityull scale war in Southeast Asia, Peiping would want to have the greatest possible strength focused there. Chinese propaganda has indeed, said that America's "meager force" in Asia is spread thinlylong arc from South Korea tond that if the conflict were expanded, the "time, place, and scale of the war would be beyond US control." however, we think this is no moreeneral warning of the dangers of expanding the war. Peiping is likely, bowevor, to continue talking of warast front" and perhaps even to stir up alarms elsewhere to keep US power dispersed and deter the US in Southeast Asia.Chinese Communists night, for example. Increase the apparent military threat In Korea, bombard the offshore islands in order to raise tensions In the Taiwan area, or perhaps make threatening moves on the borders of India.
the soviet ingredient*
assuming the fairly limited soviet involvement which we have estimated, soviet policy is not likely toetermining impact on drv and chinese policy. the fact that the soviets have become involved at all, however, almost certainly has some effect on drv and chinese calculations. how the soviet involvement affects drv reactions will depend upon the extent of whatever soviet commitment has been given. if the soviets have urged caution, the drv might be somewhat more restrained and flexible in its responses to os pressure than we have estimated above. however, we believe it more likely that soviet promises of aid for drv defenses, along with the very fact of soviet re involvement will make the drv leadersmore confident and aggressive. they may hope to benefit in their confrontation with the usine-soviet competition in backing them.
the probable effect on the chinese of the increased soviet presence is certain to be complex and ambivalent. on the one hand, the chinese are almost certainly upset at an apparent soviet move tohare of credit for any communist gains in vietnam and to try to displace some of peiping's influence over the drv. on the other hand, they welcome whatever additional deterrent can be laid upon the us by soviet involvement in the situation. more important, they see an opportunity to force the ussr either to endorse the chinese line on policy toward the us or toerpose itself as faint-hearted
* possible soviet reactions ere discussed in snie in the
two following paragraphs we consider only the impact of soviet policies on drv and chinese communist reactions.Original document.