CUTRAL IllltllOIICI AOIBCT
OVICX Or RATIONAL
SUBJECT! lt PBCePECTS TMWM (Draft for BoardVPaneleration)
Tohe situation and prospect* In South Vletoaa, withesphesls upon the sdlltery end political factor* test likely to effect the eounterlneureency effort.
COBOUSIOSS (To follow)
i - The present conflict tn Couth Vielnhmurely Vietnamese civil var with dynaatlc overtonea, acccpetlMco of antithetical Ideologies, end an activeope rat Jons In the global struggle between tte free World aMBloc. Tne conflict la swiy-faceted. Jo It,hare played and vill continue to play anolitical at niggle la vhlch military activity
la but one technique errployed. for either aide, sdlltary eucceea villecenary butufficient condition of victory.
2. onflict Involve* five principal protagoniststh* CoBEuniet "Defcecratle Republic of Tietnaa"he USSR, Ceeatu-nlat China, (thehe Government of Vietnamod the united Stateeeach of vhononelderable ftreteglc aadetafce la Ita outcome, each of vhcu la ualng the conflict to deoooitrate the viability or "corrcctneaa" of certala nd no tvo of vhoa have Identical Interest* orn South Tietnna.
3. Oo the Coutunlet side, the prWry concern of the regis* vhich nov rules Worth Vietnam (the DRV) la to secure political control over all of Vietnam, along with de facto suzerainty over at least those portion* of Laoa contiguous vith Vietnam's borders aod,phere of Influence la Carao reap vfcat tt probably con aiders the atlll ururarneredf* victory over the Trench. In pursuit of this objective, the MCV will expect and velcome assistance froa other Eecbera of the Bloc, principally the USSR and CPR. de DRV vould not he unduly preturbed about taking Militant action vhich fclght engender crises eleeutere In the vorld, but seems veil avare of Worthown vulnerability, particularly to air strikes, even eorrventlonal oc.ee. Consequently, the DRV le prctably anxious to avoid aa escalation of the vex in South Vietnam vhich vould bring Itirect confront at loo vlth US forces and entail the risk of Korth Vletnan'a receiving blove similar to those suffered by forth Korea during the Korean coofllot. furthermore, ve doubt If tbe DRV vould viah to purchase victory at the price of becoming aa outright vassal of the CFR or, Indeed, If It vould vlth to see It* territory traversed by Chinese troops easier to Invite In than to Invite out.
The cfh la In sympathy with the, hut vould like to see then resitted under Cblneee tutelage andJn pert to enhance the CPR'a prestige add in part because one of the HPR's own long-term objectives is to establish an effectively controlled satellite on China's southetc marittme border. Ihe Cl it la unoueitionably anxious to eliminate the U3 presence in Soutbs; though It la probably not displeased at the present extent of US involvement In the Vietnamese conflict,tV victory vould noverioua political defeat for the United States, fte IndochJnese peninsula le an area of vital strategic concern to tha CPU end one in vhlch lt can easilya militancy pointedly contrasting vith Soviet caution. We believe that the CTR, though not anxious for total var, vould probablyore sanguine viev of the risks of escalation vhlch militancy In South Vietnam might entail than the USSR or. In fact, the DRV.
5. The USSR la certainly eympathetlc to the IHV'b ambitions, and vould velcome the strategic and political reveree vhlch achieve' meet ofv'b goals vould inflict on the United States. To tbe USSR, hovever. South Vietnam is but one front, albeit an Important one, in the global Ccaxiunlet struggle against tbe
capitalist world and, la particular, againet tha Hatted Statee aa the leader thereof. Furthera-oro,trategie and territorial point of view, no vital interest! of the USSR itself are directly at etaXe ha Southeast Asia, lha USSR vould have little reason to he dloeatisTied vlth the pre Bent extent of US entanglement la
. South Vietnam, vlth the drain on US morale and resources astruggle there vould produce, or vlth the continual irritantstruggle vould occasion between the US and Its principal Free World alllee. So long aa the DRV suffers no major reverses ln SVHperhaps eveo so long aa the territorialof North Vietnam Itself lo not threatenedthe USSR vould probably not vtah to countenance any DRV moves vhich vould entail the risk, of eicalattng the level of the conflict in Vietnam or of
irect military confrontation betveen Itself and the Ifclted States. The range of policy alternatlvea open to the USSR, hov-ever, la narroved by the fact that It cannot risk,p reel ably lcea tealous than the Chinese la advancing the Communist cevee. Furthermore,ariety of reasons, most of Hanoi's keyincluding Bo CM Mirh and Gen. Vo Nguyen Clap) seen to be sore pro-Soviet than pro-Chinese. To keep things this vey, the USSR must provide the DRVeasure of encouragenent and support
vhlch could entail, running rlsfca of U3 reaction the USSR might othervtse prefer not to Incur*
6. The three Ccrcrunitt protagonists seem to he presently agreed on pursuing the struggle for Concur)!st control over South Vietnamvex of national liberation" directed by the WCV
'vith USSR and CFR advice end support. adical change in the local or International situation, it appears that the 1KV Intends to rely on subversion, guerilla warfare and united-front tactlca, using aa ita principal Instruments an insurgent force Id South Vietnam known as the Viet Cong (VC) and an ostensibly indigenous "National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam*n whose cause VC forces nov usually claim to be Both the VC and the NFLSV are controlled creations of Banol.
' There Is no indication that the IBV Is novorean-type invasion acrossh parallel with its regular troop* (tb* PAVN). Instead, present evidence suggests that it intend* to vage the military aspects of it* campaign entirely vith forces Inside Southh* VC or VC-dominated "National Liberation Army"using the PAVN onlyatent threat against vhlch the QVfl nust constantly deploy some of ita own forces. Hovever, the DRV vill continue to Infiltrate PAVN personnel into South Vietnam
to serve aa cadre and leaders of the VC. It also may begin (avid boy have already begun) to Infiltrate Individual pAVN ur.lta into SVH to fight aa VC troops.
7. The DRY appears prepared to undertake vfcatever degree of subversive activity ln South Vietnam It finds necessary to attain its objectives, subject to the limitations lnrposed, on the one hand by US/OVHnd, on the other, by the level of Bloc aid made available to Hanoi, by the Horth Vietnamese economy, and by the need to sdnlmlte the risks of escalationeedruing vhich the three Cctrcunlst protagonists are probably in general accord, though they probably differ over vfcat minimal rleks of escalation are acceptable)* The increase of US presence ln South Vietnam and recent events in Laos have probably influenced tbe DRV'i tactical plaioMng and its flexible timetable, but va doubt if they have materially affected overall Cotanunist strategy or objectives io South Vietnam.
8* On the entl-Comunlst side, the extent of US Involvement lo 3outh Vietnam and the level of US aid to the OVN have reached the point where tha struggle against the Viet Cong in South Vietnam haaoint US/CVN effort. The US and the OVN, bovever, do not have identical interests or objectives.
principal objective of tbe US effort In Southto prevent the Cocrtunlets from acquiring control over itaterritory- For the foreaeeable future, the present CVN la
the Instrument vith vhlch and through which the UO vill have to nterests, hovever, require only that thereree, non-Cobtcunlet and effective government In South Vietnam. Ihe US hae no vested stake In the political fortunea of the Ngo family.
present OVN is,ense, but an extensionpersonality of Its President, Ngo Dinh Dien. Diem le aantl-Cocrrunlat patriot. He la also the proud descendentfamily long prominent in Annamlte court- circles. He la alsosteeped In and molded by the tradition* and conceptsdaselcal Vietnamese aandorlnat*. Though his governmentoutward formodern parliamentary State, itabears strceg resemblances to the Annan it* Courtparticular, th* all-Important Office of the Presidency is patterned along th* lines of th* old Imperial In effect, if not In name, vhen Dien deposed Boo Dalof Stat*he last Vietnamese ruler of th* House
of Nguyen va* replaced by th* first of th* Rous* of Ngo Dinh. Though Diem haa unreservedly dedicated himself to and identified
himself vith the cous* of Vietnamese Independence, availablesuggests tbat he baa alao Identified the cause of Vietnamese Independence with the political fortur.ee of himself and hla family. The Viet Cong constitute by far tho gravest Jjtredlate threat to the Mea regime. Thla la not the only, but la by no meana the least, of the reasons vhy the OVN ia nov waging an unrelenting war against the VC. Hovever, the present GVN vould probably regard aaictory over th* VC achievedolicies or tactic* vbich permitted the rise of serious nc^-CotanuDletfor political primacy In South Vietnam. In that oense, for the present OVN the objective of defeating the Comnunlsts is ancillary to it* primary objective of preserving sad extending the control of the Bouse of Ngo Dinh vlthin Vietnam.
ll. Th* prospectorth Vietnamese Invasion across the
lTth parallel has menaced the Republic of Vietnam since; but tha immediate Comumist threat to South Vietnam derives from an Insurgency campaign of subversion and armedbeing vaged by the Hanoi-directed Viet Cong vlthin South Vletnaa itself.
12. Aftereneva Conference vhlch marked the end of iti successful Insurrection against the French, the Hanoi regime ostensibly vithdrev all of its military forces from South Vietnam; but left behind certain selected cadre, weapons stocks,ucleic organizational apparatus which became the Viet Cong. In addition, the DRV carefullyool of PAVN officer and enlisted personnel vith Southern origins to be infiltrated aa needed back into South Vietnam for service vith the Vict Cong.
13* The Geneva Accords stipulated that Vietnam vas to be peacefully reunified by natlcovido election* to bo held lo In th* Irrmedlate post-Geneva period* Hanoi seems to have acted on the belief (for which there was ample apparent evidence) that without further effort oo it* part th* nascent Republic of Viet-Nam vould collaps* aod tha DRV would ee*vr* internationally sanctioned control of iV>uth Vietnam at th* forthcomingObserver* in Hanoi, aa olsevhere, under*itimeted Ngo Dinhoughness, skill, and capacity for political survival. When Diem weathered the sect crista lo tha Springeposed Bao Dal aa Chief of State and auceesefully ignored th* election deadline; it became obvious that although th* atepubli* Of Vietnam vaa beset with numerous Internal problems, they alone would not oecaelco ita
collapse. To check OVN progrees end exacerbate ita internal diffi-cultlee, Hanoi activated the Viet Cong apparatus and used it toystematic, though/ llMted, carrpalgn of terrorism,harase-awnt and eubverelon. he Viet Congelatively email but nonetheleee effective military-political force spotted
' throughout South Vietnam but confining the bulk of lte operations to the Mekong Delta provinces. In abouthe DRV seem* to have decided to step up theof Its activities in South Vie trims nnd ecfcark on ao all-out "var of nationaltrategy endorsed by the Third National Congress of the Lao Dong (Cuxsunist) Party in Hanoi in Septembernd also by the all-party conference held in Moscov soon thereafter. Ihe sice of VC forces together with the scale, intensity, and extent of their
activities began to increase appreciably during the latter part9 and began taking quantum Jumps In the spring an apparently increasing casualty rate, available evidence indicates that the site of VC "hard core" forces in South Vietnam more than Quintupled between the spring0 and the fall)
Cn-the-ground direction of the VC insurgency carepaign in South Vietnam seems to be vested ln tvo bodiesthe Hambo Regional Committee aod the Interlace (often calledegional
Coral ttee each apparently Independent, equal In status, and responsible directly to Banol. The Vembo Regional Corsmltte* appears to be responsible for all VC operations In the southern provinces (or, roughly, tha fomer Cochlnchtnahile the Intertone V Coralttee apparently direct* all operations in th* -central and northern provinces ot South Vletnaa. (See Mapach regional eoraittee baa several staffs responelble forand political activities; and the organisation of the tvo regional emit tees appears to be duplicated among intermediate and lover level ccrarittces responsible for operations at tharovincial, district, and village levels. Information oo the political component of the VC apparatus la
"Rarcbo" and "intertone V" are terminological legacies from the days vhen the Viet Minh divided all of Vietnam Into three regionalis. the northernecentralrungnd Southernmach region, io turn, vaa subdivided into mmbered "tooee'aod
Recent reports suggest that Banol may be subdividingnto tvo separate rvgional commands, but thla la not yet It also appears that VC Intelligence gathering sod paramilitary operations conducted Just south of the lTth parallel demarcation line may be directed by PAVN 4th Region Headquarter* In Dong Hoi (NY7l) rather then theocoUtee.
sketchy; but itvident that the structure provides for tight, centralised control of military, pArsBilitary,gathering, propaganda and subversive activities sufficient to insure that each complements the other and all are integratedeil-coordinated insurgency campaign.
15. In tha initial pest-Geneva years, the DRY'e public policy position vas that the national Assembly ln Hanoi constituted the sole rightful government for the vhole of Vietnam. The mid-orecision to step up the pace of insurgency ln South VieInm and shiftvar of national liberation" strategy, however,hange in political taetles. Conseouently, inanoi Dews media announcedoal Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam" (iFLSV) had been formed in South Vietnam. Ostensibly an indigenous, "all party* group of patriots banded together to> fight for Vietnamese Independence against "Amerfcam-Bieniet (Hy-Dlem) oppression andhe
vltb help from Hanoi and other nombera of the Bloc,bunchedtill-continuing round of diplomatic activity Intended to give the Front some prestige and standing particularly in neutralist orcircles. (Letters of congratulation vere sent from the Frontvly-itrdependent African nations,
Trout representatives began turning up at Coranunlet sponsored; international gatherings such as the Helsinki Youth Festival and, in its Boat notable coup toront delegation to Djakarta vaa officially received by the Government ofnear after the "foundation" of the HFLSV, Hanoi news media announced that the "South Vietnamese Peoples Revolutionary Party" had recently been formed, an "indigenous" Manrfst-Lenlnist party vhlch had associated itself with the HFLSV end, in fact, placed Itself "in the vanguard"ssumedof) the Front's activities. Since the founding of the HFLSV, Hanoi haa taken the public line that although it sympathises vith thejust" cause, th* conflict inurely internal affair In vhlch tha DRV ploys no role vhat soever. Hanoi's . apparent object ia creating the HFLSV (an obvious reincarnation ofold "Lien Viet" front adapted to contemporary circumstances) ha* been to developpolitical cut-out mechansim through vhlch lt can vage var In Soutb Vietnam vithout openly Implicating the IfT? itself In aggressive activity or violation of the Geneva Accords. Though VC forces nov generally claim to be fighting in the name of the HFLSV, In point of fact Front activities in any given area of South Vietnam are almost certainly controlled by the VC admlnis-trativ* unit responsible for that area, and not vice-versa.
Xt is believed tbat vithin South Vietorn there are nov betweenandegularull-tine) Virt Coog military personnel nov organlted Into identifiable unlti. These acceptedeparate companies,eparatere classified ln three categories: inter* provincial, provincial, and district (the classification being based on the cone of operation of each unit and the level of the corrnnd vblcbt). These forces are veil-trained, veil-diseiplined, veil-led, and, generally, veil-armed vith automatic
This estimated figure is based upon the most recent available KACV studiesnd stands in significant con treat to the0 Viet Cong regular force figure of. Tola estimate may veil be conservative; for MACV's figures are based on rigid criteria of positive identification and Independent verification.
* To date, VC forces are not known to have artillery oranti-aircraft weapons; though in recent weeks, VC forces
veapons, light-machine guns, baxockaa,n recollless rifles. Both officer and enlisted cadre of VC regular units are frequently experienced PAVR personnel of South Vietnawse origin infiltrated from North Vietnam. Generally speaking, lntcrprovinclal level forces are the most effective; since they constitute the elite troops vho receive the best available equipment, food and training.
have become markedly more adept in using snail arms and light automatic vespone against both fixed ving and,rotary OVN or US aircraft. Aa yet, Cotismiet aircraft have not been used in support of VC military operations in South Vietnam. The PRV does not itself have either fighters or bombers; though this is probably due less to the fact that the Geneva Accords prohibit the acquisition of suchthanloc Judgment that the course of the conflict in South Vietnam does not, at this Juncture, require theof these aircraft types into the DRV inventory. The DRV does haverimary trainers (belonging to the Areo Sports Club at Haiphong Cat Bl airfield) vhich could be utilised for reconnaissance or spotting; but there is no indication tbat they have yet been so used. Though tbe DRV has no military air transport aa such, its civil air fleet could be used in support of VC operations. If so used, the present DRV civil fleet vouldotal lift capacity ofons. In sustained operations approximatelyons of cargo could be airdropped daily orons airlanded. Troop liftvould been> DRV personnel have hadexperience (and success) in supporting the Pathet Lao in Loos and hence vould not find it difficult to fly similar missions ln support of the Viet Cong. As SVN tactical air comes to play an increasingly significant role in interdicting VC activity, the Communists may find irresistible theto inject some of their ovn air resources into the conflict.
AU VC regular unite, however, axe capable ofood account of themselves In cocbatj thend district level forcee often lack heavy weapon* andere tines adjust their tactics accordingly.
17. The regular or "Main Force" Vict Cong units are supported
by andd lightly armed, seaa-tralned local
guerillas and eelf-defeeee forces. Tbe former normlly operate
under district committees but are often used on operations vith
regular unite as the first, or ahocic, vave of an attack. If the successful. Main Force troops follow on to finlrh tho Job. If tbe locals are locale are/repelled, Main Force units are not oorjaltted. Their
Integrity, nor ale, and reputation are thus preserved and serious
losses of valuableor trained personnel axe avoided.
The self-defense forces are charged with protecting Viet Cong
areas vhen other units are absent. Self-defense units constitute
a training and replacement pool for the local guerilla forces
vblcb, ln turn, perform the same function for the regular forces.
Virtually all VC regulars, therefore, are batUe-experieoced and
l8i The strength and composition of VC tactical units varies widely froo area to area depending on the local manpover situation, extent of govenimental control or nature of government forces
temporarily in the region, the availability of veopooa and cadre personnel, and local operating conditions. Hovever,South Vietnam, VC forces have proved themselves adept mastere of the clasale guerilla tactlca of surprise, constant movement, concentration for attack, and dispersal upon vltbdraval. Though they rely prliarlly on sroll-unlt actions, tha VC have el so shovn tleneelf able to carry out ccopany-slte attacks against army and security units and the capability to strikeIn battalion force against several widely dispersed targets. (To date, there is no hard evidence that the VC have formed or used units of larger than battalion alts.) Their tacticalseems excellent and their apparent foreknovledge of major OVH military force movementa or opeoatlooe la often employed to devastating advantage. Xa spite of severe and apparently mounting losses, the VC continue to ehov aa unabated regenerativeand continue to strike effectively in all parte of the country.
19. VC military activityfrom solitary ambush to quasl-cooventlonal operationplays an Important but carefully eon-trolled role in what laampaign of political subversion. Extensive use is mode of crraplimentary techniques
auch as propaganda, psychological warfare, and Intelligence collection. Whether the target under attack be aa Isolatedof the OVN Itself, the VC make every effort to weaken the enemy's will, penetrate hla ranks, and bora fron vlthin before attacking frca without.
At tlie present tine, the VC are concentrating their efforts on acquiring control of the South Vietnamese countryside, apparently following Mao's theory that once an lr. out gent force acouires control of the countryside, the cities vill fell of themselves. The VC have not neglected urban area; bvt available evidence euggeste that their main present Interests lie outside the cities. In the country, the VC axe prlnarily concerned vith obtaining the obedience, support and, where possible, the active loyalty of the rural piyulation rather than with salting orto hold specific plots of territory. Even In their War Zones and Bass Areas the VC seldom attempt to defend the ground ltaelf agalnat the entry of overwhelmingly superior GYM forces. Instead, they withdraw and disperse; only to reassemble and resume activity vhen the superior Government forces have departed.
In their political action campaign aeons; the Vietnamese peasantry, the VC are seeking willing supporters more than cowed
subjects. Heeded supplies, for example, are eelted If necessary) but where poeslble they are bought at fair prices. Terror and coercion are extensively employed but selectively used to pro-ado the idea that the VC forces are the protectors end avengers nf the poor peasantry as veil as the idea that svtft retribution svelte all vho betray or fall to cooperate vlth tha TC cause. The VC take full advantage of the fact that the average Vietnamese peasant's box-lions are bounded by We village, his neighbors, Ms relatives and Me ancestors. VC forces and personnel up tolevel generally operate In their native areas. Even csnxe Infiltrated froa Forth Vietnam are usually of South Vietnamese origin and, where poeslble, are assigned to at least their native provinces. atter of policy, slngl* personnel are encouragedto Barry local girls) for under rural Vletnaceeeies or obligations are so strong as those Imposed by family kinship. (Even if the husband himself is subsequentlysking in Ms namelaim on the services or support of Ms vife's relatives.) Id short, VC forces make every effort to identify themselves vlth the rural population, and vice versa.
22. The TC insurgency campaign la virtually self-sustaining. For weapons, atsauiitlon, and related. military supplies, VC forces
rely primarily on stocks captured fron OVN forcee, supplemented by tbe improvised output of clandestine "factories" In VC base area*. Por food, shelter, concealment, tectlcal Intelligence, and replacements, VC forcea rely on tbe rural pcrpuletioo of Soutb Vie. Senior leadera, cadre and various kinds of technician*
' axe Infiltrated fron North Vietnam and ruch personnel do not come south empty-handed. To date, however, the IW'i logistical support of the VC effort has been minimal and confined largely to heavier ordnance Items, ccowunlcations equipment, and other materiel not readily available by capture from small GVN units. Probably for cover reasons, moat of the limited amount ofprovided by the IFV has beesype that could have been obtained in South Vietnam, although GVN forces have captured some
. VC ordnance adapted to use Bloc ammunition and, recently, hav* captured mortar sheila with fuses of possible Soviet origin. This basically autochthonous character of the VC Insurgent fore* Is its greatest present strength and greatest potential weakness. Inetaphor, without their hospitable peasant sea, the insurgent fish could not survive. If the OVN were aver able to rupture the present reciprocal identification between the Viet Cong end the bulk of South Vietnam's peasant peculation, the VC insurgency campaign vould soon collapse.
23- The jtaloodta. There la considerable
evldfocc thai senioradre and technicians are being
infiltrated Into South Vietnam fron North Vietnamairly
regular basis via established route* traversing Laos and, to a
* See Hap Number 2.
leaser extent, Cambodia. There la aome evidence that area*ambodia mar the South Vietnamese border have been used by tbe VC aa safe havens or training areas; and there are grounde for euepectlng that the Kambo Regional Committee may at one time have been physically located In Cambodia. Tbe present Importance to tha VC of Cambodia end tte so-called "Laotianowever, is easily exaggerated. The total nueher of cadre and other personnel Infiltrated overland to date ha* been relatively small, and though some recnt group* of infiltrators may have totaleda* many0 people, tbe Infiltrator*l vet have generally been sent South aa Individuals rather than centers of organized units movingody. Conacqueatly, of the VC personnel in South Vietnam today vho came by the overland route, there are very few vho could not have been sent South by sea. To this extent, the fact that those portions of Southern Laos here
Involved rvov happen to ha under the effective control of Coocu-ilat force*onvenience for the DRY, hut little core. Even If they were under control of neutrallet or FAR forceo or, for that ratter, even If they were opet, to auch Inspection aa the ICC la ever likely to exercise, the DOT would have little difficulty In - continuing to use the Corridor to the extnet that lt la presently doing so and the TC would not necessarily he seriously hurt if DRV use of the Corridor were curtailed. Eovevcr, should the VC step up the scale of Its military activity to the point where it is regularly attacking in regimental or larger formatioue,oncomitant need for additional suppllss and, especially, heavy weapons support, or should the war in South Vletnaa reach the point where the IF? considers lt desirable to Infiltrate organised units into South Vietnam, then the Corridor could become extremely important and control of lt would probably be considered essential by the DRV. Ccrcunist forces, therefore, would probably react atrongly to any attempt to diminish their present control over the Corridor area, but more because of its poaalble future utility than its present Importance to the VC campaign.
2U. The Intensive VC drive to acquire control of the South Vietnamese countryside hasonsldersble treasure of success.
Recent KACV atatlatiee Indicate that (ae) only about half of Soutb Vietnam'* rural population Uvea In vhat may be eald to be CVN-controlled Tillages. Host of theae villages arc located In the environs of major towns, provincialnd lo the more heavily populated area* along main llnea of con-Eunlcatloo. Though controlled by the CVN they are not likely to be lacking lo VC sympathiser*. The VC themselves control aboutercent of Southdd villages. These villages contain only about nine percent of the rural population, but lo aggregate areas theyignificant portion of the country-aide.* Theercent of South Vietnam's villages, containing shout M) percent of the rural population, are not effectively controlled by either the OVN or the VC. Someproportion or thelv inhabitants must be sympathetic to the Viet Cong. Then are signs that recent OVN counterinsurgeney efforts' have reduced the rate at vhlch the VC vere acquiringover additional elements of the rural population, but there Is no evidence that the OVf has yet succeeded In eradicating VC control fron areas in vhlch it haa coc* become establlahed.
Gee Map Number 2.
25- "he pace of VCn ti* strictly military ephera also seems to have, aloved. There la evidence to suggest that the VC, follovlng Clap's doctrine, had hoped by nov to be able to move frcn guerrilla vox fare to mobile varfore Involving the uae of large, quant-conventional forces. Til8 haa not occurred. In fact, between old-July andh there were no VC battalion-site attacks In South Vietnamthough two such attacks did occur vltbIn ten days of each other ln late October and early Kovecber. Claimed VC losses ln military operations have been severe and, apparently, increasing. VC eesualty estimates, bovever, are largely based on OVN Intelligence reports vblcb must be treated vith extreme caution In light of the proclivity of OVN unit comanders for inflating VC loss figures and, especially, for counting every dead, Don-uniformed Vietnameseattle areaia Viet Cong, recent information suggests that in some areas the VC may be suffering shortages of medicine, food and, possibly, aprrunltlon. Bovevcr,there has been oo significant ln ere ace la VC desertion or defection figure e, vhich remain negligible, no herd evidence of lessening morale, and no evidence of any diminished ability on the part of the VC to strikethroughout South Vietnam at times and places of their oun choosing.
26. Probable Viet Cong Intentleoa. We believe that over tb* next fewtbe Viet Cong vill continue to maintain cooitant harassing pressure on GVN forcee occaalonnlly utilising company or batalllon-sitespecially against target* ofbut relying primarily oo widespread small-unit act ices against targets selected fcr maximum political andajor aim of thl* VC activity will be to demonstrate to the Vietnamese people (particularly those In ruralhe GVn security forces, the world at largeand. Indeed, to their own troop*that VC forces have not been seriously hurt by the recent upsurge of GVN military aggressiveness or the newnow being employed by the GVN security forces In conjunct ten with OS advice and assistance. On th*C attention will be devoted to increaslrg their pel Heal hold Over the rural population. Special emphasis will be devoted to countering the effects of OVN military sweeps through VC dominated sreas by publicly reasserting VC control a* soon as superior OVN forces have depa"ted, aa, indeed, the VC have Just done In the scuthenxaost portion of the Camau peninsula. The VC will probably try to improve their uvtan apparatus and nay attempt to step up the scale of terrorist activity In th* major populationarticularly Salgon/Choloo- In abort, though there may b*
heightened activity In some localized arena, the overall VC effort In the Dear-tern future vlllbly amount to the continued wagingeliberately dull and wearing war of constant attrition designed to denorallts the South Vietnamese public and the GVfl's security forces, to weaken GVN authority ln the countryside with the intent of supplanting it wherever possible, acd to discredit the effectiveness of the West regime. Tt* VC will, of course, stand poleed to capitalise on any unforeseen ojiportunlty suchon-CooQunlat coup attempt'semporary hiatus of authority which the VC could turn to their advantage.
27. Though we believe the VC are probably not contemplating any major military moves In the near-term future, certain indl-catlone tend toontrary thesis. There is some evidence that in the highland area of Central Vietnam, tbe VC areommand and support structure, with consenourate communications facilities, capable of directing coordinated activity by unite of at least regimental site. If this is true, the VC may bea major move ln the highlands. The moat likely such move vould be an effort to extend the range of VC control In the Do Xa area (the northernmost of ths VC Warossibly by
See Map Number 2.
driving tovard the Laotian border In an attempt toelt of TC authority terminatingontrolled tone contiguous to the frontier through vbich organized unlta and heavy eouipment could be funnelled Into South Vie tram and by vhlch the landvard flank of South Vietnam's northern border vould be turned andietnam itself virtually cut in tvo. If the VC vere to initiate such an operation, it vould probably be launchederie* of sharp company or battel ioo-aize attacka lo the delta area designed to drav enough of the GVN aecurlty forces dovn tovard the
. southern svamps to that the TC's real trap could be sprung in the northern mountains. Thla vould, inhe same strategy as that employed by the Viet Minh to vin their var against the Frecch: ar in vhlch the bulk of the fighting vaa done In the
. delta, but the crucial, decisive battlesCeo Sang, Lang Son and, especially, Dien blen Phuvere von In the mountains.
29. Over the next fev months, Ranol and other members of tha Bloc vill doubtless continue their diplomatic propaganda support of the national Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. The KFLSV, in turn, vill probably Issue manifestos, send mora delegations to neutralist capitals, and engage In vhat activity lt can to build Its International image. Bovever, ve doubt If the TC itself plans to maho any near-term use of the KFLSV,
though VC force* will probably continue to claim to be fighting on the Front's behalf. Hanoi will probably give continued, but low-key, play to the propaganda theme of the deelrabllltyneutral" South Vietnam and may sendew trial balloons to test prevailing sentiment* concerning an international conference to settle the "South Vietnamese problem." However, though there may be some difference of opinion between theand the CPU on this point, ve doubt if the Ccnounlst Party leadership in Hanoior their senior subordinates actually directing the VC Insurgency effort on the groundreallyonference on Vietnam at tha present time. The Laotian parallel here can be dangerously misleading; for in Communlat (or, at least, DRV) eyes, the situation ln Vietnam vould not nov be "ripe" as vaa the situation in Taos in the sucrner. We doubt in fact if Hanoi will of its own volition seriously press for anconference on, or neutralist solution lo. South Vietnam until such time aa the NHSV has eome reasonably secure real estate over vhich its flag can safely fly. Bdi condition, in turn, will not be met until the TC forces in South Vietnam are able to provide theneceeeary territoryoring some significant
military success along the lines outlined above.
(teat to be continued)
ba attached to teatovfnber draft.
THE CVN HMKM A* IWkground
30. ID significant measure, the present gravity of the Coceutltt threat to South Vietnam it attributable to pactrrore, not all of vhich have yet been rectified. Since Its Inception, the OVH haa been under stand ably fearfulorth Vietnamese Invasion. To tseet thli implicit external threat. It Initiallyefeneeuite3 to cope vlth Internal Insurrection. The OVH leadership persisted ln regarding the threat developing vithin South Vietnamenace largely created snd supported by external forces vlth little appeal among the South Vietnamese population. It adamantly vieved the growing problem as aa essentially military one whose solution required paramount cmrhaels on purely military measures. Even in the strictly military sphere, tha effectiveness of the CVH's reeponse to this threat vas cUminlehed by its leadership's reluctance to abandon static defense concepts and permit mora offensive actions, for which it had ample forces, and, especially, by its excessive employment of various policies and control devices designed to protect th* interests of the Kgo Dinhoal which took evident precedence over that of defeating the Ccoounlsta. Tn
contrast to the rapid acceleration of the Coraminlet Insurgent and subversive trtort, the GVH's response vas gradual, relatively uncoordinated and, until this year, reflected little sense of urgency. Hot until1omprehensive eounterlnsurgency plan dravn up, vith the help of U3 officials, and several mora , months elapsed before much Implementing action vue taken. Hot until2 did Vie OVN begin to act as If Its top leadership had acknowledged that the crisis situation In South Vietnam vas primarily an Internal and political problem vhlch could not be solved unlesa military action vere coordinated vith political measures capable of eliminating Communist appeal, support andamong the peasants. Though senior GVN officials. Including Ngo dinh Kbu, have begirn paying lip service to the thesisovernment must serve es veil as be served, the OVN seems loathe .to face the implications of the fact that popular support Is not something that can be expected or demandedatter of divine right but, instead, Is scoething that must bs actively sought and earned.
31* Recent months havearked Increase in the site of OVN military forces and considerable Improvement in their
effectiveness) both attributable, lo large measure, to various *
form* of DS assistance. The tide of VC victories which. mounted stoedlly01 seems to have been checked. OVH
forces ore undertaking an ever-increasing number of offensive
operations. They are capable of en taring/are a of Bouth Vietnam and clearing It, at least ttioporarily, of VC forces) though not Capable of keeping many areas free of VC crimination. The latter, however,olitical moreurely military task.
32. US materiel support, coupled with the training programs and tactical advice provided by US military personnel in South Vietnam (vho nov numberave considerably enhanced the counter-guerrilla capability of OVH military and security forces. Armed with weapons and equipment suited toney missions, these forces are nov ambushing and patrolling more
The GVN military establishment consists of three separate but related organiratlonst (l) the regular forces (WRAP)resent strengthncluding the Amy 1 nd Airhe Civil Guard (CO)trengthhe Self Defense Corps (SDC)trength* There internal security troops organisedrovincial basis. Th* SDCilitia or "nomaesponsible for local security in the vill ages, hsxlets and rural areas.
than ever before, are engaging the TC Increasingly In ctions, and are following through their attack* In order to keep the TC froang. The Improved tactical mobility made possible by an increasing utilization of air power, principallyelicopter support, is being used to advantage! aa, indeed, - are all forms of air support.
33. Although their counter-guerrtlla tactics have Improved, OVN military forces continue to rely sore on large operations or clearing sweeps than on small-unit actions, make excessive use of CO and SDC units In independent offensive missions, aad, during large operationa, deploy combat units, particularly artillery and air, according to conventional tactical methods as If the enemyonventional military force. esult, CG and 8DC units are incurring disproportionately heavy casualties, furthermore, TC forces generally have advance knowledge of major CVN operations, particularly ones preceded by artillery or air becbardaent, and are frequently able to disperse In time to avoid an unwonted engagement with superior forces. Though OVN sweeps are sometimes quite successful in capturing VC stores or shredding TC regular units, the results of many such operations are marginal when ccupared with the OVN effort expended. there Is little evidence that even successful sweeps have
any appreciable effect on VC domination of tbe areas traversed by CVN forces.
3b. Tho political effectiveness of GVN military operations is often diminished by poor relationships betveen the GVN and the local peasantry. Efforts to convince OVN leaders of this have gone unheeded for years, though some individual commanders recognize the problem and are trying to correct it. By deliberate policy, OVN troops are usually not native to their areas ofVC forces, also by design, generally are. Consequently, even when there Is no question of outrleht brutality or punitive action against persons unjustly considered collaborators, the ordinary peasant le going to look upon GVN troops as outsiders speaking in alien accents, vhore as the local VC forces usually speak his dialect end frequently include his relatives or neighbors.
35. ajor weakness in the CVN military effort, oneresponsible for Ineffective sweeps or politicallypunishment of innocent persons, is the lack of reliable, timely Intelligence on the VC. Better communications, particularly the installation of radios in most villages, have
Ir;atters somewhat and facilitated quick, response to elghted VC concentrntIons or actual attacksj but.OVN nilitary planning at all levels continues to be hampered by Inadequate Intelligence support. hortage of trained personnel isresponsible for this problem, as is the lack of orderly collection, evaluation, and dissemination techniques. It* principal causes, however, lie ln the overlapping reeponelbllltles and jiu-la-Uctlonal rivalries of theultifariousagencies, coupled with tf^ofact that each of these agencies devotes considerable effort, not to the VC, but to squelching
non-Communist opponents of the Diem regime and protecting various leadcre frcn their bureaucratic rivals. In response to US pressure,VN/hasentral Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to
improved some of the defects in its antl-YC intelligence effort.
. Recent evidence suggests, however, that the CIO has been quietly
emasculated and is unlikely to become anythingacade kept
up to plcaae the Ace rl cans.
36. In political terms, the OVN's most importaat military task Is that of providing constant and adequate protection from VC Incursiocs at the village and hamlet level. The provision of such security, together with stati: defense of transportation routes and civil installations, is the primary responsibility of
the CO and SEC; but in the peat these organizations have heen unshle to dischargeunctions with eny measure of success. To rectify this situation, virtually allnits have now heen retrained and provided with modern arms and equipment under an intensive, US-aided prograa begun inI. imilar program for the SEC is also well under way. In addition, th* OVN, again with US assistance, haa sponsored or aided avariety of paramilitary organizations referred toas Citizens Irregular Defense Croups0 of wbcta have now been trained and armed. The CIEO program la an Important development alnce itehicle whereby at least some Vietnamese private cltlzena can Identify themselves directly with the CVN counterineurgency effort andand in their own defense. In spite of the encouraging suecess of these 'various programs, hovever, large numbers of RVNAP personnel rrxaln tied to local security and static defense missions. The OVN will not haveeally significant improvement in Its military positionis the VC until the CO and SEC, supplemented by armed private citizens, con maintain local security with only modest and occasional assistance from the regular troopa.
37- The effectiveness of all categories of OVH counter-Insurgency forces, as veil as their relative degree of susceptibility to VC aubverslon or psychological varfare blandishments. Is and vUl continue to he significantly influenced hy these forces1 moral* end general attitude tovard the struggle in vhich they are engaged. There ar* indications that the heightened level or US presence and support, the scoevhat greater role nov being played by OVH nilitary professionals ln formulating and directing nilitarynd the record of recent successes against the VC have improved morale among cesbere of the middle and uuuper echelons of the GVN military establishment. Other reports suggest, however,umber of officers, at all levels, are disoouraged hy the overall progress of the var and have little faith In the Diem regime's ability to lead the country to victory. Morale of the lover rank* la tore difficult to determine; the desertion rate of OVH forces is extremely high end not decreasinghough it Is highest among recruits, recalled reservists, and SDC units, which do the least glamorous fighting and suffer the heaviest casualties. During the firststrathsersconel vere reported dropped fron OVH military force rosters as deserters or un re turned AVAXS. (VC desertions during this same period
38. There le considerable evidence that both Diem end hie brother Kgo Dlnh Nhu have little felth In the professional compot-ence of the enntor members of the GVN military esteblirhnent and, for underetandable reatone, entertain graveabout the loyalty of the officer corpe. eeult, they try toetailed control of OVN military activity vhich frequently exceed* their administrative ability, to tbe detriment of OVN military otferations. Also, the Duncrou* dcvlcca esrployed to aonltor the political loyalty of the military forces and eliminate any political risk to the regime posed by poeslble dissidents therein do little to enhance the effectiveness uf the GVN military establishment as anfor fighting the VC.
3?. Packground. Tor several crucial years, the CVN'*response to the growing CoBnunlst threat va* ineffective and uncoordinated, largelyesult of the CVN'* reluctance to acknowledge that the threat vaa basically political and bad to be met by political action in which military operationsital but essentially subordinate rols. However, in response toUS pressure, the GVN finallyasic strategic plan
vhlch takes cognltacce of the political nature of the struggle andremcvork for tl* coordinated implementation of the cvn'h various countcrlnsurgency programs. The tvo keyof this plan are the strategic hamlet prograa and the conceptarge-scale hut veil-Integrated military/political operation designed to isolate the TC and regain control of the countrysideystematic, srea-hy-area basis.
afJ. The Strategic Ramlet Progroai boa become the major vehicle of tbe GVR counterlnsurgency effort. In essence, it involves regrouping the rural population into fortified and defemdable settlements and vlthin these settlements initiating political, social and economic programs designed to veed out TC syapathlters or agents, provide effective local goveniocnt, improve the general popular image of the GVR and Increase the peasantry'svith the GVR'* fight against the VC. As of, according to GVR figures, moretrategic hamlets had
* See Hap lfunber 2.
been completed andluee vere under construction. The program has many meritorious features and there la considerable
. no*both the VC and Hanoi viev thet* hamleta a* potential threat* of considerable magnitude. Tha hamlet* constructed to date, hovever, vary vldely In the effectiveness of their externaland the teal vith vhlch enlightened political action programs ate being jursucd vlthin their confines. Excessivelevies on their inhabitants or use of forced labor In their construction nay have made some hamlets politically Though the program appeara to have been fairlyin some areas, lt is still too early for an overall evaluation. Some of its sound features, hovever, ero being negated In an attempt to implement lt too rapidly. Certain OVN lcadcre,President Diem and Ego Wnh Khu, tend to place an exaggerated Importance on the program, viewing ituick panacea to the Communist insurgency problem rather than one more reasur* for cutting off the TC from the peasantry. esult, the strategic hamlet program has not been effectively Integrated vith the basic military-political effort to eliminate VC control gradually but aystematlcally.
al. Major Pacification Operations. Tb date, the OVN haa initiated four Integrated pacification operations of the type provided for in its overall strategic plan and has made preparations
toifth In tho near future. The results of thisapproach are encouraging hut Its United application to relatively fev provinces has not yet appreciably altered the balance between the government and the VC in the countryside. Moreover, there ore signs that the CVN is having second thoughts about the feasibility of such operationsajor element of its countcrlnsurgency effort and Is contemplating putting renewed reliance on more strictly military operations. Ve believe tbathift in program, If adopted, would prove disasterous for the OVN.
The success of some specific counterineurgency projects has done little to Improve the GVN'e provincial administration, whichasic political weakness and prime cause of the .rural population's lack of ldentlfleetioa with the CVN cause. With some notable exceptions, the calibre of provincial officials ia poor, promotion end preferment le based on loyalty to the regime rather than efficiency or demonstrated competence in promoting the welfare of those over whom authority is exercised. Various
See Map Number 2.
foma of minor corruption axe rt fe and seldom disciplined by higher govenimental echelons. The actual implementation of GVN programs Intended to improve the lot of the poorer peasantry la often Inept or politically counter-productive. Tho land reform program, announced aa completed,has In fact been quietly acuttled. Significant davnraitlcriof VC political appeal in rural areas is unlikely to occur until GVN provincial administration isreformed ano the calibre of individual adt-lnistrators markedly Improved.
'O- Xn pursuing its various counterinsuxgency programs, the OYN has paid relatively little ettention to urban areas. It has made no concessions at all to the aspirations or sensibilities of those non-Conmunlst Vietnamese vithern-oriented educations vho chafe at Its limitations of free expression and curtailment of civil liberties. In consequence, the OVN continues to deny Itself the services of many vhoae administrative or technical qualifications it urgently needs.
Mt. On balance, the OVN'a political response to the VC threat haa been much less affective than its military response. Certain programs have had encouraging results and there are acne indications that rupport for Diem and his gowroont In tha
countryside may be groving, particularly ln area* vbere security baa it; roved and the government's military power It lnereaalng. However, social and economic advance! are not keeping pace vlth nilitary aueceeeea and positive Identification of tbe peasantry vlth the government leong way off. Though avare of Its
to improve Its political standing ancng Its own people, tbe OVH seen* loathe to change any of the politicaloperandi^for Its unflattering Image and lack of political support.
XV, ECOhVKIC FACTORS
Though the VC Insurgency campaign and the Insecurity it generates have disrupted many aspects of SVH's economicthere ara as yet no signs of serious inflationary pressures.
have been relatively stable and the money supply nearly constant forear. Adequate supplies of foodstuffs ara kept circulating to urban areas; exports of rubber eootlnue to constitute the OVH'* chief source of foreign exchange. Sincehe OVH haa concentrated on preserving the status quo and done little to stimulate economic development; but the recent enactment of its Second Five-Yeor Plan mayenewed attempt at eflorxnlc growth. This surface economic calm, however.
baa Ita illusory aspects; for tba TC have disruptive capabilities they have sever used. Rubber continues to be produced Inquantities partly because the taxation of plantations provide the TCucrative source of revenue. Ccrmerelal road and vater transport continues to function relatively unmolested for analogous reasons. Were the TC to exercise their strangulation potential in conjunction vlth an all-out offensive, economic conditions ln SYR vould be markedly altered, at least temporarily, ln very short order.
act. In the near-term future, the Cosnunlsts vill probably continue to conduct the Insurgency campaign in SVN as aninternal "var of national liberation." Though TC forces may mount an offensive or step up the pace of their operations, it Is unlikely that tbe Communists vlll alter the character of the struggleanner that vould entail the riskirect eontrontatlon betveen US and Sloe military forces, Including DRV forces acknovledgcd as such.
*T. If the US presence and assistance programs are aalntained at present levels, OVN military forces vill be shle to contain the
TC nilitary threat and nay he able to count offensives vhich vill reduce ite iwwdiate gravity.
If it adheres to ite present strategic counterinsurgency plan and continues to Implement certain promising programs, tha OVN nay he able to prevent the TC froo increasing their present level of domination over South Vietnam's rural popclatlon and establish firmer GYU control over presently contented rural areas.
The present GVN le cot likely to take the political steps necessary to reduce tbe TC threatoint where tha XJS could significantly diminish its present involvement in the South Vietnamese struggle.
Met. Janice ft, . [tews WorlO0 |1 tf* Washington, DC
Dear lip, lionovcri
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raforenc* to your J Pacwnoar tar wnnrei- yon
t* in South hat In an
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ar. ll mv
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