NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
Communist Objectives, Capabilities, am Intentions in Southeast Asia
Subtitled by Iho
DIJtcCTOR OF CENTRAl intelligence
Concurred In by lhe UNIIED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD As indkoled overleaf2
flio following: intelligence organization* poflitipolod in (he preparation of this eslimofe,
lheTke intetfigoiKe orgoniiwiom ol Swie. Oefcnte. th, Aimj, thoho Ah force. TheS*off. ond NJA.
Director ot Intelligentc ond Research, Oopartmenl ol Stale Director.ediae nee Agency
AisiWcml Chief of Start IcDepocimefit ol the Ar-.
Chief ol Na-oll me Nor,
l Staff, Infelloence, USAF
Dirwtor lor Intelligence, Joint Stall
Director ol Ihe Nalional Security Agency .
The Alomtc lne*ayW USIB. and Ihe
iaVa!thaeing ootsdo of I
i- tisc through
COMMUNIST OBJECTIVES, CAPABILITIES, ANDIN SOUTHEAST ASIA
To estimate Communist objectives, military andcapabilities, and short-term intentions in continental Southeast Asia.'
The long-range Communist Bloc objectives inAsia are to eUminate US influence and presence and to establish Communist regimes throughout thc area. Although the Cornmunist powers have some differences of view as to tactics and priorities and the risks to be run in pursuing their objectives, they have thus farasic unity of ultimate objectivesigh degree of policy coordination with respect to Southeast Asia. If the current differences between Moscow and Peiping continue toajor split on Southeast Asia policy could ensue. In this event, Peiping and Hanoi, which have specialin Southeast Asia, might resort to more militant tactics. )
Communist China, with the largest land army in the world, has the capability to overrun Southeast Asia and defeat the combined indigenous armed forces of the area. The North Vietnamese forces are superior to those of any other mainland Southeast Asia stale. We do not believe,
'The folio wine csUmaies also bear upon Uie problem:.ommunist CapabiliUes and Intention* in Uie ParatedNIELikelihood of Mafer Communist Military Intervention in Mainland Southeastated
however, that the Communist powers intend to attempt to achieve their objectives in Southeast Asia by large-scale military aggression. We believe that they intend toto pursue these objectives primarily throughpoUtical action, and support of "national liberation" struggles, so as to minimize the risks of Western,US, military intervention. Over the past several years there haslear pattern of increasing Communist military, paramilitary, and political capabilities for pursuing Communist objectives in Southeast Asia. The development of these capabilities is particularly advanced in Laos and South Vietnam.
We do not believe that Communist efforts in Southeast Asiaredetermined timetable or priority listing. Laos and South Vietnam are now their priority targets. We continue to believe that the Communists do not intend to initiate an all-out military effort to seize Laos, if,ilitary showdown between the Laotian Government forces and the Communists does develop, we believe that theside would win out, bringing additional forces from North Vietnam if necessary. Nevertheless, thc Communists are unlikely to pursue actions involving substantial risk of direct US military involvement so long as they continue to believe that theyood chance of achieving theirin Laos by legal, political means.
In South Vietnam, we believe that there will be no significant change over the short run in the current pattern of Viet Cong activity, although the scope and tempo of the Communist military and poUtical campaigns wiU probably be increased. The Viet Cong will probably again resort to large-scale attacks, seeking to dramatize the weakness of the Diem forces and to reduce both civilian and military morale, in an effort to bring about Diem's downfall under circumstances which could be exploited to Communist
In Thailand, the initial effort of Communist China and North Vietnam will probably be to increase their subversive potential, particularly in the northeastern frontier area,
Concurrently, the Sovieis will continue lo employ aof political pressures, military threats, and economic inducements to persuade the Thai Government to seekwith the Bloc andore neutral policy. The Communists almost certainly believe that by sapping the independence of Laos they will be advancing theirin Thailand as well The neutralist positions ofand Burma are acceptable to the Communists for the time being. Communist activity in both countries will, therefore, probably be kept at low key. )
The Communist Bloc long-rangein Southeast Asia are to remove all vestiges ot US Influence and presence and to establish Communist regimes throughout the area. As an Intermediate step, theare seeking to move Laostrongly Communist Influenced, it nominallyposition. In South Vietnam, the struggle is probably so sharply drawn that theLook (orrief neutralist stage, if any, in the progression toward communism. In Thailand, the Communist effort has not yet reached major proportions, and emphasis ls upon pressures at the government level.to move Thailand away from its ties with the Westeutralist position. However, there are differences of view among thepowers ImmediatelyUSSR. Communist China, and Northto tactics and priorities and the risks to be run ln seeking their long-range objectives tn thc area. There arc alsobetween Moscow and Peiping overfundamental matters of Ideology and policy.*
The national Interests of the USSR,China, and North Vietnam tnAsia diiter. The Soviets are not linked with thc area In terms of geography, history, or economics, and they feel no threat to their national security emanating from the area. Moscow's interests in Southeast Asia appear to be mainly political and strategic, and its tactics tend to beaJess militant than desired by Pclplng and Hanoi. Thus, the Soviets, while supporting "wars of national liberation,"
! For an analysis or Uie differences between the USSR and Communist China seeevelopments ln the USSR andated
as ln Laos, are more cautious than theand more concerned with thc risk of local wars in the Far East spreading into general war.
Communist China and North Vietnam, on the other hand, have special interests In Southeast Asia derived from their geographic position, historical associations, and economic needs. Peiping considers continentalAsia to be part of lis sphere of Influence. Hanoi regards Laos and South Vietnam as within its special purview. Both have been involved in ambitious economic development plans and would stand to gain economically from domination of Southeast Asia. Inthey are, at present, more mill tan tly revolutionary than the Soviets and lessto risk local war ln order to achieve the early establishment of Communist regimes in the area.
Despite these differing interests and viewpoints, the Communist powers appear to haveasic unity ofigh degree of policywith respect lo Southeast Asia. Laosthe only apparent exception to thisbut as yet the Communist powers do not appear to be seriously at cross purposes. If, however, the differences between Moscow and Peiping continue toajor split on Southeast Asia policy could ensue. In this case, Peiping and Hanoi might resort to more militant tactics.
II. COMMUNIST CAPABILITIES
country ln continentalis vulnerable in some degree tosubversion, political and economicand military aggression. Theof thc area all feci threatened and Most have tended to overemphasize
the threat of military aggression byChina and/or Communist North Vietnam and to underemphaslze the threat fromsubversion and Communist "national liberation" tactics. Whether neutralist or pro-Western in orientation, the governments of Southeast Asia gear their policies to their assessment of the balance of force between the Communist and non-Communlst powers in the Par East and of the willingness of thc West to Intervene militarily.
ommunist China, with the largest land army in the world, has the capability to overrun mainland Southeast Asia and defeat the combined indigenous armed forces of the area. The armed forces of Communist North Vietnam are superior to those of any other mainland Southeast Asia state. We do not believe, however, that the Communist powers Intend to attempt to achieve their objectives in Southeast Asia by large-scale military We believe that they Intend toto pursue these objectives primarily through subversion, political action, andof "national liberation" struggles, so as to minimize the risks of Western, particularly US. mllitury intervention. Over tho pastyears there haslear pattern of Increasing Communist military, paramilitary, and political capabilities for pursuingobjectives in Southeast Asia. Theof these capabilities is particularly advanced in Laos and South Vietnam.1
III. COMMUNIST SHORT-TERM INTENTIONS
c do not believe that the Communists haveirm timetable for achieving their objectives in Southeast Asia, or that their efforts followfra precise priority listing. It is clear that Laos and South Vietnam are now receiving priority attention. We believe that thc neutralist positions of Cambodia and
'For details concerning Communist activity and strength in Laos and Soulh Vietnam see Annex and maps.
Burma are acceptable to the Communists for the time being, and that Thailand ts likely to become an Increasingly active arena for Communist political pressures, infiltration, and subversion.
he minimum short-term Communist objectives in Laos had probably been satisfied. In general, at the time of the cease-fire inommunist-held territory tn Laosthe overland movement of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam by wayof the secure, if difficult, maze of connectingtrails in Laos. Moreover, the Lao Army was disorganized, disheartened, andMovement by Communist personnel Into and across Laos was virtuallyeven where nominal governmentremained Ln effect. Hence it wasfor the Communists to risk theof armed intervention by the US, by seeking to achieve the complete domination of Laos by military means. At the same time, developments of the past few months have probably caused the Communists toownward their estimate of the chances of US military intervention in Laos.
he delays In negotiations fora coalition government In Laos, thebuildup of the Laotian armed forces during the cease-fire, and the pattern of limited Lao Army offensive action,sincerobably caused considerable annoyance and someto the Communist Pathet Lao and to the North Vietnamese leaders who control and direct the Communist effort in Laos. These considerations probably account for Uie limited Communist counterattacks of recent
also, "RelaUve Militaryof Opposing Forces Inatednd. "HelaUvrj Militaryof Opposing Forces Inated
weeks. We do not believe lhat the pattern oi military activity Urns far Indicatesfor an offensive designed to take the major Mekong cities by assault.
We continue to beUevc that thepowers do not wish to become deeply involved militarily In Laos, and that to the extent possible they prefer to keep theirinvolvement clandestine. Thus, so long as theyeasonable chance toolitical settlement which would not Inpreclude continued use of southern Laosase for operaUons against Souththe Communists are unlikely toourse of action which would Involverisk of direct US military involvement. Moreover, the Communist side probablytbat their chances of winning control of Laos by legal, political means are good.
However, If the Laotian Governmentthe scale of Its military activity, the Communists will respond with counteraction,eneral military showdown between the two sides could ensue.howdown might also develop from continued Communist military pressures designed to force the government to return toIn caseest of military strength, we believe that thc Communist side would win out, bringing additional forces from North Vietnam, If necessary.
B. South Vietnam *
primary Communist objectiveVietnam Is its reunification withunder Communist domination. The
Sec also NIB3 SI. "Prospects for North and Southated IS, "Probable Communist Keaeuons to Certain SEATO Undertakings In SouthatedNIEUloc Support o! thtKrJort Against the Ooicrnmeni olctober 1MI; and SNIEProbable Common lit Reactions to Certain US Actions In South1
tactics being usedombination ofand guerrilla warfare which have been developedigh degree of proficiency by the Vietnamese Communistsongof Ume. Thc Communists operating in Soulh Vietnam (the Viet Cong) are directly controlled and provided with political and strategic guidance by the Communist Party of North Vietnam (the Laobe North Vietnamese regular army providesguidance, and some cadres, technicians, and logistical support.
The major strengths of the Viet Cong include their superior Intelligence service, the extent of their control of the countryside and the peasantry, their thorough knowledge of the local terrain, and their mobility and their ability to achieve surprise, ail of which are characteristicell organized guerrilla force. The Viet Cong are not capable ofthe South Vietnamese armed forces In convenUonal type warfare. On the other band, the government forces are able totheir effortsiven area only by exposing other areas to Viet Cong attack..
The Viet Cong's progression fromto conventional warfare tactics, if itwill probably vary ln different areas and will dependumber of factors. Including their success achieved in lowering the South Vietnamese Army's morale, the consolidation of their control in the countryside, and their introduction of new weapons and materiel. In the meantime, they will probably continue their current campaign of concentrating upon the government's paramilitary forces andregular army units only when they have sufficient numerical superiority todecisive defeats. Isolated outposts, patrols, and vehicle convoys will be themilitary targets,oncurrentpolitical and economic efiort in the rural areas to reduce governmental authority and further disrupt the Vietnamese economy.
Further attacks can be expected against the capitals of provinces, particularly those in areas under considerable Communist control.
North Vietnamese leaders mayto achieve the reunification oi"South Vietnam through the mediumcountrywide elections stipulated InGeneva Accords. North Vietnamremove President Diem and eliminateIn South Vietnam throughpolitical pressures. There Is athat Hanoi may attempt toa "rival government" In Southby Radio Hanoi on theexternal activities of Its "Nationalthe Liberation of Southsthe Front's recent initiation of Itsoperations, suggest thatbe preparing forove.
the short run, however, wethere will be no significant change Inpattern of Viet Cong activity Inalthough the scope and tempo ofand political campaigns willincreased. Thc Viet Cong willresort to large-scale attacks,dramatize the weakness of the Diemto reduce both civilian andIn an effort to bring aboutunder circumstances which couldto Communist advantage.
C. Thailand *
has never beenthc Thai people. However, neutralismhistorical roots in Thailand andimmediate appeal to the ThaiThe USSR has been pressing theto disengage from SEATO,relations with the Soviet Union,toward neutrality. At thc same time, (<
'See also SNIE MJSI. Thallandi Sccufilrand Prospects" datedecember IMI.
the Thai leaders feel increasingly exposed to attack and infiltration from Communist China and North Vietnamesult of developmentsos.
the northeast Thai provinces,have been economicallypeople arc ethnically close to thearea alsopecial vulnerabilitypenetrationesult ofof moref the Indochina War, most ofadmit their allegiance lo Ho ChiVietnamese and Lao Communistsmaintaining liaison with cadreamong this Vietnamese refugeeand providing them with smallguerrilla warfare training.poorly-defended border with LaosCommunist infiltration.
Communists arc unlikely toovert attack against Thailand in thefuture. The Asian Communistbelieve that their base ofin Thailand mustajornational liberation movement couldAt present, no widespreadCommunist movement exists inand the small, illegal Thai andparties are relativelyChinese and Norththerefore, probably will beto increase the subversive potentialparticularly In thearea. Concurrently, the USSRtoombination ofmilitary threats, and economicto persuade the Thaiseek accommodation with the Hloca more neutral policy. Thealmost certainly believe that byindependence of Laos they will betheir interests in Thailand as well.
The objectives of thc USSR andChins ln Burma appear to be directed toward achieving gradual control over that country under the guise of friendlyCommunist China has madeprogress during the last year lntlie good will created by the Smo-Burrnese border settlement and generally haa Increased its Influence among key Burmese political and military leaders. Burmese military leadersccepted Chineseoffers of troop assistance ln operations against the anti-Communist Chinesebased in Burma, and additional Chinese military assistance may be utilized against other dissident groups along the Sino-Burmese border.
In view of the foregoing successes, the Chinese Communists probably see littleforakeover of Burma by force or even byro-Communist revolutionary movement among Indigenous Communist political and insurgent groups.
tactics in Cambodiahave de-emphasized any appearanceor Intimidation. Cambodia's Chinese
and Vietnamese minorities, each numbering, are targets for Communistand North Vietnamese subversive efforts andotential Insurgent factor. The expanding student and teacher groups ln Cambodia have shown considerableto Communist propaganda and appear to be special Communist targets.
owever, the Communists will probably continue to display friendship and generosity toward Cambodia, and especially toward Prince Sihanouk, to demonstrate theof "peaceful coexistence" and continue to take advantage of Cambodia's friendlyto increase their Influence in Cambodia by peaceful means. Communist Chinato lead the Communist Bloc countries in overtures to Cambodia; the Soviet Union haselatively minor role.Communist front party, known as the Pracheachon Group, wields little overtIt numbersctive members and possibly as many0 sympathizers. It is tolerated by Prince Sihanouk, probablyesture of neutrality, but its activities are stringently curtailed. There has beenbetween thc Communist embassies in Cambodia and the Pracheachon, but noof Communist control.
The ccanbat effectiveness of the Pathet Lao and other anti government forces lslower than that of the Northunits. The combat capability of the North Vietnam troops is high. Many of them are regulars and combat-proven veterans who participated in the decisive defeat of the French forces in the Indochina War. Tho use of North Vietnamese cadres and technicians, and more recenUy units. In critical tactical situations has been an important factor in the success of Communist military operations in Laos.
Anti government military forces in Laos are now estimated to totalofongham0 Pathet Lao,orth Vietnamese regular armed forces (the latterinimum ofnderstrengthbattalions and support troops ofartillery, antiaircraft artillery, and armor).
Allhough outnumbered by the Lao armed forces, the anti government forces now in Laosuperiority in artillery and armor. They are generally capable of maintaining their main forward positions and oflocal operations to counter aggressive actions by the^govemmenl forces. Without further external reinforcements, they could, by concentrating their forces, seize and hold certain key positions now held by government troops If reinforced by additional combat units from North Vietnam, they could quickly overrun the remainder of Laos.
B. South Vielnam
Thc territory currenUy controlled by the Viet Cong gives them access to at leastercent ofillion militarily fit males between the ages ofhere are now estimated to be on full-time antioperations at0 Viet Cong organized intoeparate companies,eparate platoons, ofstrengths. Supporting these forces are anart-time, partially armed, trained local militia who serve as village self-defense forces. Some of these arc as well armed and trained as the full-time forces. In addition to providing replacements for the full-time regular units, the militiaother support functions, such asIntelligence, providing guides forunits, and supply services.
The Viet Cong receive coordinated di-recUons from high level political and military headquarters in North Vietnam and operate from political bases in South Vietnam under their control. They have divided Southinto two operational regions. Eachis further divided into Interprovincial commands, provincial commands, districts, and villages. Each command has troop units available to it, generally on the basis ofin the region and Interprovincialand companies in thc provinces.
The Viet Cong are equipped with an assortment of US, French, andweapons. Generally, lhe "regular" urijts are armed with US weapons up to and including medium mortars. The principal source of these weapons in the past has been the South Vietnamese military and paramili-
units, but reports indicate thatweapons are being infiltrated to the Viet Cong from North Vietnam. Northundoubtedlyonsiderable stockpile of US weapons captured from the French during the Indochina War and, more recently, from the government forces ln Laos.
everal divisions of the NorthArmy (PAVN) located ln theportion of North Vietnam have been linked with the support and training of Viet Cong personnel These divisions arefrom former. South Vietnamese who fought against the French and withdrew to North Vietnam.ombat-experienced personneleady pool of trained PAVN soldiers, and they generally provide the commanders, cadres, technicians, and specialists for the Viet Cong forces. If needed, personnel from
these divisions could be made available for guerrilla operations In South Vietnam.
The number of PAVN personnel with the Viet Cong In South Vietnam Is believed to be at. These officers and NCO's serve as cadres for the various Viet Congand companies. In addition, they probably also act as Instructors or technicians to operate communications systems and the more complex equipment ln the Viet Cong arsenal.
The Viet Cong utilise both land and sea routes to infiltrate cadres and limitedInto South Vietnam. The sea routo is used primarily to transport couriers andequipment while the longer and more difficult overland route ls used for personnel and other supplies.
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