APPROVED FOR RELEASE DATE: 5
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTLVATES
SPECIAL MEMORANDUM NO. II-65
SUBJECT: Future Soviet Moves in Vietnam
1. Step by step, the USSR is getting mere deeply involved in vletnaa. Tte recent record clearly shows that Khrushchev's successors, vhile tbey have no clear-cut plan for solving the crisis, find that the price he vaa vllllng to pay ia order .to disengage from it is too high. They feel unable to bear passively the opprobrium vhicb tbe Chinese ore only too ready to heap upon then for abandoning the(Struggle in Vietnam. That struggle at its present state has two vital aspectstbeocialist country and tbe causenational liberation scveacnt against the "imperialists." Because both these aspects are bound up with the USSS'a position in the Camnuaist vorld arsi
in tbe underdeveloped areas, the post-Khrushchev leadership feels compelled to act,n the face of risks which Khrushchev bod turned away froa.
the USSR J* in an extretsely complicatedis determined to prevent tha Soviets froa rebuildingin Eanoi, or gaining any credit for supporting theMoscow alters its policies so radically as tostrategic arguments. Merely toeat at thehas had to throw overboard the US-USSR detenteKhrushchev, and now it has to put more chips in the potto stay in the game.
Relations with the
Soviets von one hand this monthRVMoscoweek of talks. Tbe Joint communiqueexpressions of gratitude for past Soviet aid,Chinese charges to the contrary. And the two parties
kept slightly ajar the door to negotiations, which Peiping is trying to slam, by endorsing the proposed conference on Cambodia. Kosygin's subsequent speech claimed agreeneDt on "forms of methods ofurther strengthening of the defensive capacity of socialist Vietnam, and settling the problems of Indochina on the basis of tbe Geneva agreements." China was clearly displeased; the DRV delegation spent several days in Peiping on its way home, but no communique marked its departure from tbe Chinese capital.
U. Moscow's political gains, however, evidently were nought at sent nilitary price. The ccmounique spoke of an "understanding on further measures designed to safeguard the security and defend the sovereignty of the DRV." It said that "appropriate measures for these purposes" had heen agreed upon. This has the ring of new military plans, and in fact these passages followed directly on the statement that the "earlier understanding" on "strengthening the defensa potential of the HIV" vas being carried out "to the envisaged extent end
fores might new military eld taJce? What themost, and vhat the USSR can better supply than China,in air defense. Anti-aircraft weapons almostbe provided In quantity, particularly for defense of thatthe DRV under continuous US attack. Radars are equallyappear on the list. The Soviets probably have agreed toDStV losses and to meet amy demandseneral Increase
ia DH? capabilities in these categories.
were evidently included, at least to the extentsite, in the February agreement, and it is likely that out
of those talks ana the April ace ting willubstantial SAM deployment, complete with Soviet technicians, in northern North Vietnam. By puttingefense of areas which the US, at least for the present, dees not mean to attack, the USSR can gaincredit at little risk and add to the deterrents on US strikes .and high-altitude reconnaissance in the north.
Fighter aircraft pose more difficult problems. It is almost certain that-China would not make its bases available for Soviet tactical air*he base structure in North Vietnam is very limited, and even if tbe Communists counted on escaping retaliation against these bases, it is hard to see how the USSR could put enough aircraft into the area to match present US strength.
For these reasons, we doubt that the Soviets willtactical air units to North Vietnam. They may turn over
some new aircraft to the DRV and provide some pilots and technicians. But we think thatove would notrelude to early engagement with US strike aircraft. Rather, it would be intended to provide the DRV with another tangible proof of Soviet support, to add to the military deterrents on attacking northern North Vietnam, and to increase US worries that, if attacks were extended-northward, matters might quickly get out of control.
9- Another decision concerns the status of Soviet personnel sent to the DRV vith these or other equipments. We have estimated that, in order to retain flexibility in the event of casualties, these personnel would appear es "volunteers" or technicians,without any official acknowledgement. The increasing Soviet involvement casts some doubt on this estimate. If Moscow wishes to Jolt the USew commitment, and is willing to accept thet .mighttatement acknowledging these personnel and warning that attacks on them vouldesponse in force.
.More Radical Departures
10. There is an argument for more radical Soviet measures than those suggested above. The Soviet leadership, new andin crisis, finds itself in perhaps the most complicated situation since the Korean War. It is attempting toistant crisis in which the leading roles are played by an independent DHV determined to conquer tbe southern half of itsostile China which lies between the USSR and tbe seat
of the fighting,S which is regularly strengthening its
commitment. Thus the risks will remain largely beyond Soviet
control and, vorse, tbey may have to be borne for an indefinite
period of tine. These factors, exerting contradictory and growing
pressures on Soviet policy, may eventually force it In either of two directions.
11. One direction leads to an early military ccnfrontation in Vietnam. The Soviets might reason that this would be preferable to the prolonged acceptance of lesser hut still substantial risks. Thus they might deploy to Vietnam military forcestype, endcale, intended to corrvinee the US that'it could continue bombing theHX>HV only at very high risk. Such Soviet forces could include the air defense units mentioned above, ground units, a variety of other technical personnel, and coastal naval vessels. Submarines might be deployed to the South China, Sea. Conceivably they could include light bcmbers or surface-to-surface missiles intended, not for their military utility, but for shock effect to reinforce the impressionarreeching Soviet cotaaitraent requiring an immediate US retreat.
12* This wouldery dangerous course of action, end the USSR might instead move in the opposite direction. In their dilemma, perhaps sharpened by some new US moves, the new Soviet leaders might cone to decide that Khrushchev was right after all, that the Soviet Union could notubstantial cormitnent in Southeast Asia without taking on unacceptable risks. Thus
they might choose gradually to disengage, covering their military non-support with vigorous diplomacy and propaganda cn behalf of Hanoi end tha Vitt Cong.
13* These alternativesone risky, tha otherre very unattractive. The Soviets will wish toiddle course between them for as long as possible, and sane sort of middle course is probably what emerged out of tbe April meeting inut if ^tha-crisis persists at present or higher levels of risk, indeciilveness, and complication, the middle way may not
FOR THE BOARD OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES: