LIKELIHOOD OF MAJOR COMMUNIST MILITARY INTERVENTION IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA

Created: 6/27/1961

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

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LIKELIHOOD OF MAJOR COMMUNIST MILITARY INTERVENTION INAND SOU TEE AST ASIA

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Th4 feKTotrtno ^UUigtnee argtr.lutteni paHktpcUi fa tht preparation ot this ultmaf: Th$ Central InUUignea Agency and tha InleZlgenci oraanlsatlms of the Departments ef tttUe, the Army, the Navy, the Air Fore; and The Joint Staff.

Con red in by the

nOTED statesOARD

onuneoncurring acre The Director ofana Re:eareh. Department of State; the AuUionl Chief ef Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Amy; theChief ol Naval OperaU',ns ttnteUlgencei, Department ol the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Stall. Intelligence, VSAF; the Director /or tntcUljenct, Joint Staff; tha Assistant to the Meeretoiy ot Delente, Special Operations; and tAaot the National Security Agency. The Atomic tnergy Commission Sepr denial us to the USIB. and tha Assistant Director, federal Bute* of Invtsttaetion. abstained, the aabitd being otttlda ot thalr IvtsdtcUom,

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LIKELIHOOD Or MAJOR COMMUNIST MILITARY INTERVENTION IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA

. THE PR02LEM

To estimate Chinese Cocununtst and iJcrth Vietnamese' intentions regarding major military intervention in' Southeast Asia over the next few* months; and to estimate Communist reactions to the introduction cf US military forces into Laos to hold the key Mekong River towns,1

THE ESTIMATE

Communist China and Loos

Communist Interests aren Laos than are those of tlie

_USSR, and the Chinese hove appeared to take on even more obdurate line on Lacs, at Geneva and olacwhnre, than has tho USSR. However, the desire of the Chinese for an assertive Bloc policy Is probably largely satisfied by theand successful cornmunist course In Laos. We see no evidence that Communist unity and effectiveness regarding Laos arcby differences between Moscow and Peiping. While the USSR has apparently played the major role in formulating tliis policy, It has probably accommodated the views of Peiping and Hanoi; the three powers apparently agree that Hand should act as the principal implementing agent within Laos.

China's role in the Laostaken various forms. Ammunitionorigin has been captured In LaosLao/Kong Le fores. Peiping, despite

iiiiurifd US coum of action herewn provided for tho purpose) offl&ta ana Is not Intended to represent the full rang* o: posslblUUea.

Its virtually exhausted foreign racchangemade nearlyillion available to the rebels in January. Foreign Minister Chen Yi formally pledged aid to Souranna Phouma in February, and In April Souranna comrrrued thanks to iht Chlnase for "their generous and selfless assistance" and indicatedhinese offer tooad in Lao* for his government The Chineseew military observers and ad risers to the Communist forces In Laos. According to recent French evacuees from the Plaine des Jarres, the Chinese Communists haveonsular post there.

he several Chines- "mterrentlon"concerning Laos in' recent months1 have almost certainly been designed not only to deter US intervention but toajor Chinese military role ifa course Is later decided upon. However, on tha basis of avail-

threats have been svjnermlly ambiguous and haie item iuoed at times when the situs lion In Laos was such that there appeared little tUcell-hoodot their having to be carried out. Additionally. Peiping Is tolcr.iUnc situations which It earlier said It wc-ild, the remalrdra Chinese HaUooalist Irregulars in Burma-Laos

evidence, there Is no indicationen-era! southward deployment of Chineseforces within China. We arc aware of no augmentation of regularly-stationed Cnmese ground forces in the southernmost provinces or cf the concentration of forces along theimilarly, an? are aware of noCommunist Air Force bomber unitsstationed within effective combat range of Laos, though redeployment to closer bases could of course quickly take place. North Vietnamese air capabilities; are extremely limited; North Vietnam has noew Soviet transport andaircraft may have been transferred to if. Certain North Vietnamese airfields are*jelng improved, however, and Bloc |et c ircraft could quickly be deployed the

unlit China ond Southeoir Asia

ajornrnuDist militaryln Southeast Asia ln the near future Is extremely unlikely. The Chinese leaden alnost certainly estimate that such action would result In militaryith theaojor scale. Apart from their awn reluctance to run this risk, thowould almost certainly bring strong pressure on them to preventourse, partly because of the risks and partly because of theeffects for Bloc policy elsewhere.

n overt Invasion would be out of character with the present trend of Communist China's poUJes towtrds Southeast Asia. Despite or* easlcnal tough talk, Peiplng has gone tr> great lengths to project tbe image of "reasonableness" there, and to this end hasairly soft coarse in the past year or so especially towards Burma, Pambndh, and Indonesia. It ts probable that Chinese leaders would consider thatresslon In Southeast Asia would shatter ibis effort.

greatly lessen Asian and African support for Pelplng's world statu sums, disrupt internal revolution^.morcinenU and Sino-Sovietin the Southeast Asian countries, and perhaps drive India fully Into too Wesiern camp.

believe that Coram unitcrisis and food shc.tages areat this time to discouu %ge, than toa major military adventure InAsia. In view of the can flict andwhich might well accompanyeaders would nave nothat they could easily obtain andrice surpluses of Burma. Thailand.and South Vietnam lo China. Inthese surpluses are uow mod est,aso China's vast foodit would take some time for Feiplnggreatly increased food productioncojintrlra.

C North Vtemam orJ Sovthaost Ajlo

Vl'tnam has committedspecialists, and certain militarythe war in Laos. At tor same time ItcaiT/irig out certain transport andconstruction program's within Northsuch as tranaloadingand airfield, road, and- resulted in markedin logistical support faculties also been marked ImprCfiwm-tnt baof these facilitiesorder areasVietnam-Chinaesult,corning year thare willisabUNorth Vietnamese defensiva cs.^ab ill tiesNorthlready considerableto bring its fores to bear inHowerer. the initiation of this builduptht1 rsosUhties inthough possibly stfcasertsed byappears to be part of adevelopment of soglstlc,offensivees. We ice noIndicate an Imminent shift fromparamilitary activity to aujorin Laos oru-jm.cu^umstancca, and aspac tally in view

of the progresspresent North Vietnamese .actics in these countries, we considerhlit unlikely.

hand Geneva

he Communists almost certainly believe that they areommanding pocitlon at Geneva. Their military strength in Lacs grows daily and the likelihood of US military Intervention Hff.il to them less ondhus, they believe that they can insistettlement at Geneva which will pave the wayakeover of Lacs by political means. At the same time, thty have beenthe position of the Communist and pro-Corn munist force" with more arms, aid, andcf control. They probablythat If the conference collapses, the Westill be reluctant to Intervene mllitarily to prevent an extension of Communist control In Laos. They might estimate that Ln any case they could forestall Western militaryby moving raplciy to seize most or the remaining areas of Lao3.

ha Conunurdsts almost certainly would finallyettlementou-vanna Fhouma government with communist representation, bellevirg that such awould serve to advance the Communist cause in Laos. This government mightappear balanced andut the Communists would almost certainly utilize their familiar tactics in an effort to exert Indirect control without actually seeing power.

& Bloc Readiom to US Military Intervention In Idoi

f, in the absenceirm Geneva Oo-ferenc* agreement on the future of Laos, US forces were Introduced into Laos to keep the key Mekong River towns from falling tomilitary-subversive encroachment, the Bloc reaction would be strong. There would be an Intense political and propaganda csuzw paign. ln the UN and worldwide, to brand the US an "aggressor" and to attempt through these means to force US withdrawalNorth Vietnamese forces would beinto Laos, probably unacknowledged, tc stiffen Communist forces there. military operations wouldbe Intensified throughout the countryside In an effort to restrict. US control to the Mekong towns. supply andlines would te harassed, andagents would probably undertake terrorist and sabotageithin the Mekong towns. Depending on the size and apparent intent of th! US Intervention, It is possible that North Vietnamese forces would be overtly introduced into Communist-controlied areas ol Lacs, but we believe these forces *vculd not attempt to drive the US troops from the Mekong towns or otherwise seek directwith US forces,

II. If U8 actions and stotenienta led theto believe that the US forces were threatening Communist-controlled areas, and particularly If thi US forces actuallysuch action, direct engagement with overt No.th Vietnameseouldresult. It is also possible that tbaCommunists would Introduce forces Into Laos, cli'mlng that tha US actionhreat to China. They would almostdo so if tha US action appeared tohreat to the Communist stake In Laos which the Northorces could not counter.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

w AujUMl

MEMORANDUM TO HOLDERS O?fll 'UKElATlDnn

Tois estimate fcsexultive and should be girea onlr limited dtortbu-

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