RCVEE FCR RELEASE t:5
national intelligence estimate number
likelihood of major communist military intervention insoutheast asia
Submitted by the /'.
-DIRECTOR Ol' CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE heintelligence organizations participated tn the preparation of'this estimate: The Central intelligence Agency and'the intelligence organizations of the Departmentstale, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.
Concurred in by lhe UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD onuneConcurring were The Director ofand Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army; theChief of naval Operationsepartment of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, VSAF; the Director for Intelligence. Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and theof the National Security Agency. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USUI, and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation,he subject being outside of their
LIKELIHOOD OF MAJOR COMMUNIST MILITARY INTERVENTION IN MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA
To estimate Chinese Communist and North Vietnamese intentions regarding major military intervention in Southeast Asia over the next few months; and to estimate Communist reactions to the introduction of US military forces into Laos to hold the key Mekong River towns.1
Communist China and loos
Chinese Communist interests arc moreinvolved in Laos than are those of the USSR, and the Chinese hove appeared to take an even more obdurate line on Laos, at Geneva and elsewhere, than lias the USSR. However, the desire of the Chinese for im assertive Bloc policy is probably largely satisfied by theand successful Communist course in Laos. We see no evidence lhat Communist unity and effectiveness regarding Laos areby differences between Moscow and Peiping. While Uie USSR has apparently played Uie major role in formulating this policy, it has probably accommodated the views of Peiping and Hanoi; the three powers apparenUy agree that Hanoi should act as the principal Implementing agent within Laos.
Communist Chinos role In the Laos war has taken various forms. Ammunition of Chinese origin has been captured In Laos from Pathet Lao/Kong Lc forces. Peiping. despite
' The assumed vq course of action herewas provided for the purposes uf thisand la not Intended lo represent the lull range of possibilities.
its virtually exhausted foreign exchangemade nearly S9 million available to the rebels in January. Foreign Minister Chen Yi formally pledged aid to Souvanna Phouma in February, and In April Souvanna expressed thanks to Uie Chinese for "their generous and selfless assistance" and Indicatedhinese offer tooad in Laos for his government. The Chineseew military observers and advisers to the Communist forces In Laos. According lo recent French evacuees from the Plaine des Jarres. the Chinese Communists haveonsular post there.
he several Chinese "intervention"concerning Laos In recentave almost certainly beer, designed not only to deter US Intervention but toajor Chinese military role Ifourse is later decided upon. However, on the basis of avail-
- These threats have been generally amburuous and have been Issued at timet when thr situation In Laos was such that there appeared littleof Uielr having to be carried out. Additionally. PeipingtoJcrmUng situations which It earlier said it would. the remaining Chinese Nationalist irregulars in Burma-Lao*
able evidence, there Is no Indication of asouthward deployment of Chineseforces within China. We are aware of no augmentation of regularly-stationed Chinese ground forces in the southernmost provinces or ot the concentration of forces along theimilarly, wc 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 it. Certain North Vietnamese airfields arebeing improved, however, and Bloc jet combat aircraft could quickly be deployed there.
b. Communist China and Southeast Asia
A major Chinese Communist militaryin Southeast Asia in the near future is extremely unlikely. The Chinese leaders almost certainly estimate that such action would result in military involvement with the USajor scale. Ajwrt from their own reluctance lo run this risk, the USSR would almost certainly bring strong pressure on them to preventourse, partly because of the risks and partly because of theeffects for Bloc policy elsewhere.
An overt invasion would be out or character with the present trend of Communist China's policies towards Southeast Asia. Despitetough talk, Peiping has gone to great lengths to project the image of its "reasonableness" there, and to this end hasairly soft course in the past year or so especially towards Burma, Cambodia, and Indonesia. It is probable that Chinese leaders would consider that overt aggression in Southeast Asia would shatter this effort,
Tl should be noted, however, that the Chinese Communists probablythe capability toround force of one or two divisions along the border wlUi fans-North Vietnam without immediate US detection. Our ability to detect air forceis somewhat better.
greatly lessen Asian and African support for Peiping's world status aims, disrupt Internal revolutionary movements and Sinn-SovietIn the Southeast Asian countries, and perhaps drive India fully into the Western camp.
believe that Communist China'scrisis and food shortages areat this time to discourage, than toa major military adventure inAsia. In view of the conflict andwhich might well accompany aI'elpmg's leaders would have nothat they could easily obtain andrice surpluses of Burma.outh Vietnam to China. Inthese surpluses are now modest,as compared to China's vast foodtl would take some time for Peipinggreatly increased food productioncountries.
C. North Vietnam and Southeail Asia
Vietnam has committedspecialists, and certain militarythe waros. At the same time itcarrying out certain transport andconstruction programs within Northsuch as transloadlng andand airfield, road, and railwhirh have resulted in markedin logistical support facilities.also been marked improvement inof these facilities in key border areasVleUiam-China.esult,coming year there willizableNorth Vietnamese defensive capabilitiesNorth Vietnam's already considerablelo bring its force to bear hiHowever, the Initiation ofostilities inthough possibly accelerated byappears to be part of adevelopment of logistic,offensive capabilities. We see noindicate an imminent shift fromparamilitary activity to majorin Laos or South Vietnam.circumstances, and especially In view
ol the progress o( present North Vietnamese tactics in these countries, we considerhift unlikely.
Communist* ond Geneva
The Communists almost certainly believe that they areommanding position at Geneva. Their military strength in Laos grows daily and the likelihood of US military intervention seems to them less and less. Thus, they believe that they can insistettlement at Geneva which will pave the wayakeover of Laos by political means. At the same time, they have been strengthening the position of the Communist andforces with more arms, aid, andof control. They probablylhat if the conference collapses, the West will still be reluctant to intervene militarily to prevent an extension of Communist control in Laos. They might estimate that in any case they could forestall Western militaryby moving rapidly to seize most of the remaining areas of Laos.
The Communists almost certainly would finallyettlement involving aPhouma government with Communist representation, believing 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 seizing power.
Reactions to US MilitaryLaos
in the absenceirm Genevaagreement on the future of Laos,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 propagandain the UN and worldwide, to brand lite US anand to attempt through these means to force US withdrawal.North Vietnamese forces would beinto inns, probably unacknowledged, to stiffen Communist forces there.military ojierntlons wouldbe intensified throughout the countryside in an effort to restrict RLG-US control to the Mekong towns. US supply andlines would be harassed, andagents would probably undertake terrorist and sabotage activities within the Mekong towns. Depending on the size and apparent intent of tbe US Intervention, it is possible that North Vietnamese forces would be overtly introduced into Communist-controlled areas of Laos, but we believe these forces would not attempt to drive the US troops from the Mekong towns or otherwise seek directwith US forces.
f US actions and statements led theto believe that the US forces were threatening CommunLst-controlled areas, and particularly if the US forces actuallysuch action, direct engagement with overt North Vietnamese forces wouldresult. It Is also possible that theCommunists would introduce forces into Laos, churning that the US actionhreat to China. They would almostdo so if the US action appeared tohreat to the Communist stake in Laos which the North Vietnamese forces could not counter.Original document.