PROBABLE REACTIONS TO VARIOUS COURSES OF ACTION WITH RESPECT TO NORTH VIETNAM

Created: 1/2/1964

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AOENCT OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES

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REVISED MStRANTUN TOR THE DIRECTOR

SUBJECT: Probable Reactions to Various Courses of Action with Respect to North Vietnam

The attached revised edition of our Mono of3 contains no changes of Judgment; but, in response to several queries, seeks to elaborate on certain of these earlier judgments: seend Ll. Please destroy or return your copies of earlier Memo.

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES

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REVISED MEMDRANDUM FOR THE DIRECTOR

SUBJECT: Probable Reactions to Various Courses of Action vlth Respect to North Vietnam

REFERENCE: iLTJHBBi Op-Plan No. y-

ofecember

1. In response to General Kxulak's request, vetbe probable Connanict and international reactions to

specific operations given us from among those of the referenced Op-Plan. With one exception, the given operations ore small unit (South Vietnamese) airborne or maritime sabotage efforts against specific targets (bridges, railways, dumps,n various areas of North Vietnam. The one exceptionhree company (plus) raidmall island just north ofh parallel EfrZ. All ofperations are part of general Krulak'e Phaseo be mounted within about four months'time from the Op-Plan'b activation.

This memorandum has been prepared with the assistanceI and DD/P.

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2. In sun, we believe that:

a. Communist reactions to most of these operations would be slight.

Ihe

b.

reactions would be felt primarily in South Vietnam and Laos But would not be so extreme as to change the character of hostilities in those countries.

operations under review would not be likelyto appreciably Increased Chinese Communist Involvement ln Keitber would these operations I

lead

the US badignificant change in its policies.

| operations under review, taken by themselves, even if al] were successful, would not "convince the ERVthat their continued direction and support of insurgent activities

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in the RVH (South Vietnam) and Laos should cease"his, according to the reference Op-Plan, being their stated goal.

It ie possible, hovover, that the North Vietnamese Goverr-tent might see these operationsl

crease in the vigor of US policy, potentially dangerous to then. If so, they would probably vish to halt tbe now developments at an early date, ond would therefore try to arouse international pressureonference to settle the problem of Vietnamlt expandedore general conflict in the Far Hunt.

1'. In general, such operations dohere

sldered would probably be viewed with disfavor by most of cur major allies. Taipei and Bangkok, of course, would probably support tbe US strongly. British officials in South Victrac would probably see these operations' merit and consider then worth trying, but London's reactionpextit-Mlarly to any international political complaints engenderedould beby the IK'a position as co-chalnan of the Geneva Conference and hence (vith the USSR) principal guarantor of the terms ofU Geneva Accords, which such operations

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would violate. France would almost certainly be opposed to any US/RVN attempt to carry the war to the North, and would probably cause the US the most difficulty. Canada would probably find it difficult to support the US in any North Vietnamese complaints formally submitted to the ICC* If such operations helpedommunist call for an International conference, this call would probably find much support elsewhere in the Free World.

g. The principal determinant of DRV prosecution of the war will cot be damage suffered from such small-scale operations, but the course of the war ln the South and the degree of risk Hanoi believes will be involved In its prosecution.

probably provoke the least response.

3. We assess the various operations below, under their designated Op-Plaa categories of I, II, or HI. We note, however, that these categories of increased expected damage to the DRV do not necessarily correspond to what we believe to be increased reactions. Wo believe, in general, that:

provoke little If any overt response at first, but if successfully continued would probably provoke the Chinese to more threatening outcries, increased offers of support to the DRV, and attempts to Increase the Chinese presence in North Vietnam and northernmost Laoo.

SPECIFIC RESPONSES BY CATEGORIES

ARASSING OPERATIONS

'*. General Gescription. Thla category includes small, unspectacular demolition operations and ecall-scale intelligence collection actions, including tactical reconnaissance probes by snail military units, temporary interdiction of lines ofand general low level harassment. These operations may be launched and effected by land, sea, and/or air.

susitive'

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6. In essence, operations of this category have been taking place since Additional such operations will probably evoke reactions similar to those prompted by pastropaganda complaints and spy trials, but little more. We chare the view expressed in the Op-plan'shat Hanoi might

beginortcl protect to the ICC. With thee thick it unlikely thatnlat nations or the UN would become concerned with operations in this category, end Cooednist China's reaction would probably remain confined to denunciations of the US

and its "puppets.

7- We believe, however, that operations launched from Laos against targets well north ofh parallel and/or operations

involving the exflltrE.tlon of teams through Laotian territory

| are not of the same order as the others ln this category. Some such activity Is already going on, of course, and if the level and success of present activity ere not oarkedly increased, Hanoi's reaction is not likely to change in any major respect. On the other hand, should Laos-based or laos-exfiltrating teams begin achieving seme substantial success, the Cccaunlsts would probably attempt strong local reaction and would try to seizer, at least, to destroythe bases from which such operations wore being mounted, using whatever force ires necessary- Should this force require additional introduction of North Vietnamese units into Iaob, such units would probably be introduced. The chanceseneral Comxunist offensive in Laos would increase, but this is probably not the course the North

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Vietnamese would initially follow. Chargesnew US intervention would almost certainly be made, especially if the US made extensive uce of helicopters or STOL aircraft for infiltration or resupply. Such charges would probably create additional difficulties for Souvanna Phouma and might prompt certain of our European allies, especially the French, to assert that US actions were jeopardizing the IAOS settlements.

CATEGORY IIA'iTKiTlOHAL OPERATIONS

0- General description. These include acall-scale resistance operations, airborne aad seaborne raids by small forces on important military and civil installations, and demolition of important facilities.

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In accord withf tbe Op-Plsn, we believe successfulperations will evoke DnV propaganda and complaints to the ICC; but we do not agree with its Judgment that the DRV would bo likely to respond by requesting any appreciable Increase in Chinese material assistance. Kanoi probably would increase the intensity of Communist activity in Laos, though probably not to the point or launching an all-out offensive. Ve would not anticipate any major new pressures in the south, since we believe Hanoi and the Viet Cong are already doing all they ere capable of doing there without changing tbe nature of tbe war. However, the Communists might undertake some specific retaliatory measures: ore intensive attacks upon South Vietnam's rail system, increased terrorism aimed particularly at Americans, etc.

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U. We do not believe, however, that all of tbe operations in thlo category wouldailor degreeB of Cottmunlct reaction.

againat the | iHilHk^BSBBVBBBl

| railwaysIf repeated and successfulre oich core likely toharp Cocamnlst reaction than operations against abjectlves io the southern portion of North Vietnam.

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CATEGORYUNITIVE OPERATIONS

Yd. General description. These are sealcovert resistance/ sabotage actions designed to damage and/or destroy facilities or inctallatiorji critical to the economy, industrial dcvolcpmenl, and internal security of the DRV, These actions include raids by company or battalion size military or paramilitary forces, airborne or seaborne, sabotage by small teams of important targets, and the active organization, recruitment and employment of resistanqewithin North Vietnam. Such actions are to be as covert as possible. Vat the duration of such operations and size of the forces required fer their execution may result in theirasically overt attacks on the Hanoi regime.

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For some time tha Viet Cong have been building their strength in the Rung Sat area along the Saigon River (Saigon's outlet to the sea). etaliatory gesture, Hanoi might order the VC to harass shipping coming into Saigon. However, this io something the VC are likely to do anyway, if they acquire the ability.

15. uccessful |attack

would probablyarrage of Hanoi, and Jeiping, propaganda. Hanoi might try toetaliatory Viet Cong lo tbe south I

The RVU operation might produce some neutralist grumbling and nervousness, but so long as tho attacks were launched by RVH forces on the ground at the tine of the attack (regardless of how they arrived la the targete doubt if there would be any Free World reaction likely to cause the US serious difficulty.

THE BOARD OF NATIONAL ESTE'ATES:

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KFNT Cfcnirsan

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