Created: 10/9/1964

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9 October


courses or actios

ecora wm

Tbe courees of action addressed In Section ft have boon fives to theeoawenrdty for tha purpose ofetls&ate and ax* Dot meantjr*eeot the full nnge of options opto to It abovld alao b* Doted that the paper ll confined to consideration of Ccaaaunlst reactIces aad doea Dot discuss pc.ilble reactions lo tba raat of th* world.

Z . t

Tte Sotstaunlst povera asoit directlyorthand

China, nndouBtedljr feel that present trends Id South Yietnaa ax* auch

thejr favor. Ihey anticipateolitical vacuu* J* fomliuj


Excluded froa autooatlc


con probablyneutral1st" ccalltlon jorei-Daact dcaxlnated. -Cocas^rJfl elements. Ibeyenporary etalaoat* ia leos, but In their 'lev thisecorsdnry theater la vhlch trends vill bee case aor* favorable for then aa moon aa Sooth Ti*tr>aa falls their vay; lo tbt meantime their aajor concern in Laos la to keep the corridor and th*crderlcg fortJ Vietnam arid (Mm Id Cocsunlat hands.

?- fcr these reasons, the? are villIng for th* tlae being to accept the Zaoa altuatlos about as it It. Both there aad la South Tletoaa they vlah to avoid aetloDs vhlch might risk altering th*t apparently favorable course of their campaign to vaSeralme thent of South Tiet&oa (CVp). Vhlle theys; to exploit aad encourage th* deteriorating altuatloa la Selgoa, they piubably vill avoid act lone that vould ia their view unduly Increase the chancesajor U3 response against Vorth Vletnaa (rsrv) or Ccoaunlst China. V* are almost certain that both laaol and Peiping are anxious not to become involved la th* alnd of var in vblcb th* groat vright ofS weaponry could b* brought against thea. Svan if Banol and Pelplng estimated thatould not nee nuclear vcapons against then, they could not be eur* of thl*.f the present, bov/ver, both Banol and Pelplng appear willing to persist la euppcr^ of the Viet Cong, even to the extent of rlsitng limited OS retaliation aanlnet Vorth Vletnaa, probably oo the calculation that victory is Dear la thi South and that they could through political counteraction prevent prolonged or expanded US attacks in the Forth- .

3* Jbe limited ITS retponae to thy Tonkin Oulf Incident ofy a* stancethattctioij vtre a i'icaU?iiB'. fear of an early najor butc by the U8 to bring tha var to the Forth. Od tha other hand, Betural caution plus their Idwlogieel bias rnkea the OccBunlrti highly eurplcloue of the US. acta Eaaol and Peiplng hart Indicatedconcern orer the poaaiblUty that the US vlll eventually carry the var to the lorthdanger ehich they probablyui acre likely aa thela the Sooth deteriorate!(tad both hare takes defen*ire aeaarurei to aeet thli contingency.

k. jn the face of nev OS pretrurti against the Wi, further action* ty lanol and Peiplng vould he baaedoneldereble extent on their ertlaete of'hether the US vaa actually dHeralaed to in . tte preerurea ai aeceeeery. Their eitlaatee on thli point ere probably uncertain, tut ve believe that fear of provcUci eerere warurce Vy the US would lead thea to teaperood deal of caution.

5. On the ft. tr hand. It le poaalble that at anyttae Hanoi end rcijlns vould coae to believe that the eltuatloo ln South Tletsaa had becone so fragile that aa all-outocg effort, aided by lacreeeed Infiltration of personnel, vould topple the antl-Cceaunlet OVH before the US eould take any aaJor actios again at the Forth Vc believe tlwt the Ccnaunlata are not likely to attenpt this la the laud late future becauee they are aot pet certain enough of their

capability iouicklect by tuck Beam end pro tab ly consider tba risk* of aajor US retaliation too groat. vb ether or not they naA* auch aa all Cot effort, ho*ever, tbey vill eo&tlnue to vork for tbe setobliehaaot of vhat bag beea their longstanding goala neutrallet coalition gcrernaeat dominated by ftenrunlete vblcb vould destroy tht basis of th* US position.

6". USSR la probably uneasy about the situation In Indochina for several reasons, the most importantealisation that lt might escalate to general var. If tension* Increased, V* believe that the Soviet Interest vould be to contain orrisis*


Category I: Resumption^

T> V* do not believe that th* Bortb Tletnaaes* vould initiate attack* on ^patrol destroyerslose approach to shore (at theenetration of tbemile limit)!

[led them to believe tb* destroyer* vera associated vith

ovever, Banol'* desire to keep track of these vessels couldlead to wv locldtcts.

6. If for son* reason the JXV tM go after tht US destroyer* and the US retaliated vith sir strikes,Ccsnounist reactlone vould depend ct least lo part upon the severity cd* the strikes. If tht etrlke* vera conf Ined

to forth Tlttnaa and to target* associated vita the Ccmamlet attacks, ae vere thoseugust, cc- inlet reaction vould probably be Halted toself-defense vith fighters, anti-aircraft, aad ksaII arms, (b) political aaaeurare end propaganda by Ccoounlet eleaents throughout the vorld, (c) additional Ccraminlirt Chinese logistic support to the WV, including possibly theof aor* aircraft into forth Tletnea.

If the US retaliatory strikes alt critical SRV targeta not directly associated vith the provocation, but vera proapt and of abort duration, ve believe the DRV response vould be about a* described la pr-re. 6. If, oa the other hand, US attacks on nonessoctated targets vere heavier and sustained, then ve believe the reactions of Banol andould bes described in

Va think it Boat unlikely that the Chines* Ccerruaist* vould detely bee < ived* they could ce.-cee Inadvertently Involved In an action arialogFV-US patrol engageaent' If ao, and if the US retail*'Ion vas confined to Chinese Ccosaunlet targets directly associated vith the engageaent, the Ccasaunlst allltary responss vould again probably be llalteJS to defensive action. Zt must b* noted, hovever, that an attack by th*

US against bases inhina, vbether provoked unintentionally or deliberately by the Chinese, vouldew factor In th* Southe*at Asianirect confrontation of US-Chinese forces. In such case, th*

ceaaunlete obligated to play adirect role In tha CS/JaTr conflict. Oo ths International diplomatic frontfearaajor inter -nationalvould enable the Conminirte to etlr up eubitentlal prearures against the OS.

CaVe0or> lilt Air action and/or ground < against nf titration-eeeoclated target* In the lao panhandle.

12. c esponee to US/OVR air action againsta the panhandle vculd probably be confined ton peealve and AAA defense In the area (b) political andand (c) Tlet Cong sabotage and ground raid* directed agala*tair base*. Ve do not believe that they vould launch air attache onbases, because of their very Halted capabilities and the fear ofretaliation on their ova


13. Ih* reaction to OVJ or OS/OVS ground action against the penbandla inf titration rout* vould depend largely upco tb* rjegnitude and duration of tba -action. At tbe lover and of tbeaell nit-and-/un raidalted objective vould probably evoke little aor* than an attempt to lapror* Pl/KT capabilities for early detection and aabuah of alallar future effo-ts. On the other hand, act loneonalderable dlrtence vbichEY osj of infiltration routea and bases vould probably drav additional CcasBunlet forces into the area. Ve believe It unlikely that the DRV vould initiatearge-scale aggression in lace or OVS, although sec* additions to or red^ploy-aente oforces in Laos might occur* Zt Is also possible that thevould counter by Belting auch vulnerable target* la southern Lao* aa Attopeu and Saravane.

Category IVIysteaatlc pattern of gradually Intensifying DS/GVJ

attacks against targets fa the DRY Itself, Including those associated vith infiltration routes and military andtargeta. These attacks on th* DRV vould not Include the use of nuclear vaapons or US ground forces la organ!tod OS combat units> This program vould be eoablned vith directly com ml -cated asrurancea that OS objectlvca vere conftoed to eloutside Ccorinlit support and guidance of the Viet Cong end Pathet Lao Insurrections.

1|. Shis category corresponda closely to the lattev atages of thtorbich formed tbe basis for, "Probabloof Certain US Action* vith Respect to Viet ran and Lao.- dated fi5 Since the publicutloa of that BMZ the OVB position In South Vietnam haa

deteriorated, tb* Tonkin Oulf incidents hart occurr^C, end

furnlihed Horth Vletoaaionel. Xa addition, Alrltlou vithla the CoKunlrt caorp have increased.

X5. Vltb tba initial phesi af OS attack! oa target! vithlaera Dot directly connected vltb retaliation, Hanoi and Peiplng vould probably conclude tbat the OS had erabarkedystematics of attack* on tkTf allItary-related target!. At thli pclot v* believe they vould probably attearpt to dissuade the OSixtnrev*s. Including sect epyarent concession* to OS viahefl, effort* to aobUlte International opinion against the OS, and actions designed to anderlln* Ccsxainlrt determination. Hanoi vould probably direct tha Viet Cong to launch no dramatic nev attack! and Bight direct than to reduce temporarily tha tecpo and site of their attack!. To aoblllee Internationalure agalnat the OS, Ccnxainiet and leftist propaganda facilities vould attack OS "var aadness" tnd stress the danger that OS actlota night bring on World Var HI. Hanoi vould probably aak* an all out propagrnda and dlploaatla drive for negotiations and, to this and, there night be private hints of some willingness to accomodate OS/OVH viev*. Hanoi and Peiplng vould Increase their threats of counteraction* and both vould probably undertake force deployaenti designed to add to the credibilitythese threats, though ve doubt that tha DF7 vould attest any overt inraalon of Laos or South Tletnaa. Hanoi vould certainly appeal for Chlaeie Coarronlst defensive assistance, (radars,artillery, additional corabat aircraft, patrol craft, and technical

vhlch Pelplng vould probably supply, vi ao-obt that Kancl voold requestConn mi(round troopa at tail Juncture. Hover er, Hanoi vould exploit are of Chinaaeand, to thla and, might publicise trrlvnls of oeee advisor*. Banol vould also appeal to the Soviet*, B vould aak* paganda and political effort* on behalf of the DRV, and perbape consent to nieb aome military eoulpacat, but vould almost certainly take step* toanol and helping vere kept cvare of the llmlta of Bovlet suppest.

16. If, despite Coessuniat efforts, the US attacks cootlnced, Banol'a leader* ild hare to ask thaaaelvc* vbether lt va* not better to suspend tbelr support Viet Cong irilltery action rather than suffer th* destruction of their nejfacilities and th* Industrial sector of their economy. In the belief it the tide haa set almost irreversibly in their favor in South Vietnam, they gbt calculate that the Viet Cong could stop It* military attack* fortime lng and renev th* Insurrection rjcceesfullyater date, tbelr Judgment, this mutter might be reinforced by th* Chines* Corxsunist concern over coning Involvedonflict vith US air end naval pover. tne DRV algbt con-dereasonable price to pay in order to reduce the likelihood of ds*SlAg OS attacks on the DRV. Jbey vould then pressegotiated cease-

Ire in the South and try to prooote an International conferenc* to pursueends. Ecvrrer, they vould not be prepared to make ary meaningfulsslona snob as agreeing to effective International inspection of inflitretloo


XT* Co the ptW band,art cf villi vitaha Corrainiete might eralarkold courae, feeling that th* oris* to he voa by ell-out attach* OB mouth Vietnam outvelghed any daaage to befroa continued OS attach* ca the aw. They might feel that acy basaf It* to be gained by buying time vould bethan off*etonine vban victory appeared near, byf face vith th* TC, and by the eoosecruent bolstering ofale. Sanol vould have to Bind that conccielon* under ruth circumstance* Bight only invite th* OS to re rune strikes upon any reneval of Tiet Ceng nilitary activity. Xa thi* case the KtV vould carry on th* fight and proceed to send it* cam armed force*arge scale to Lao* and South Tletnaa. Hanoi Bight aerate that tha OS vould be unvilllng toajor gjwnd var, or that If it vaa, it could ultimately be defeated by the aethod* vhich vcre successful against the Trench.

18. ituation Involving so cany let els of poeMble escalation ve cennotonfident Judgment a* to vhich coure* the Wf leader* vould choose. On balance, ve incline to the viev that they vould choose the con. ervutive coure* outlined In pare,argely on th* ground* that they vjuld consider that they vere not giving up such acreittle time in return for avoiding great physical damage to their country and escaping the risk of uncontrollable further

Un.. Rier* la *ul I'A-rtid danger, bcvever, that th* ttf7 Might chooseaggressive courseIn

1?. XT the DRV should choose thehe euestioa of Ccaamuilat Chins a* intervention vould *jia*. At thl*elplng vould probablyhreat* of Intervention stronger end nor* apecifle. If it had not already done so, lt vould alaost certainly deploy largeo area* near Vietnam and Laos. Pelplng nightnits of Its air force to defensive action over Berth Vletnaa at thla point, tort in viev of thef CS air and naval superiority ve doubt that Pelplng vould do ao. Eevrver, Zaaol and Pelplng vould probably introduce Halted number* of Chinese Coszunlst ground forces a*oth to prepare for further escalat'.jn and to make clear Pelplng'e ecaatitaent to asilrt th* Sorth Vl*tnaae*t. Itlso possible, though anlikely, that unacknowledgedcsrnunlat unit* vould take deep incursion* into Lao* and perhaps even into Thailand and Burn*.

SO. Ve believe that Corrninlrt China vould be very reluctant to bee one directly Involved In the fighting in latocMnathl* be taken by theause for major installation against the Chinese mainland. In our viev, tarn Chlnrsd'CocvraristB srould not be disposed to engage openly vith OSnles* they felt it vaa nacetaary in order to prevent destruction of the Communist regime

B She LirecTor of Intelligence andertaeni ofelieves that the DHY* vould find th* argument* in paragraphor* pereuulv* and would choose that course, considering that at thl* Juncture it had optlaua provocation aa veil aa international acceptance for overt retaliation ia South Vletnaa.

in lorth Tletnan. Ve therefore believe ther* vould sot be blgb riii cf lis lirtroduction ot large-seal* Chinese sd-caldtI fares eoBbet anils unless anjor ts/avi ground units bad nvrred to occupy areas of the TJPV or Ccaenislst-nald territory in northern teos, or possibly, the Chinese had eosmltted their elr nnd had subie-enjently suffered attack* on CCA7 bases in China. Hrrvrtheless, therelverschanee that Peiplng night so Inter?ene either for reasons that seen irrational to as or because it miscalculated the objectives of OT noves in the area. Ocav.China's capability forround ear in adjacent areas ef southeast Asiaornidable.

As the escalation progressed, Vi* USSR vould be Increasinglybring an and to the crisis. It vould probably nake plain to Hanoi andthey could look for so fubstantlal soviet support. The Soviets vcoldaugaent international pressures on the OT to bring it to tha conferencethis end they nigbt offer bints of Intervention, but ve believe thatrefrain froa nilitary actions ln the area and vould not telerisis vith the US

SS. Iven If OT actions along the lines described abor* in Category XT clearly succeeded in halting outside support for the 7let Cong affort, thaaceoarpllshnent vould notolution to the larger problem of South Tleteaa, but rather the buying of tine ln vhich to continue OT efforts to establishiable regime la the South and to deal vith Indigenous Tiet Cong Insurgency.

Original document.

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