NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIM.^fe
PROSPECTS FOR NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM
The following intelligence organisations participated in the preparation ol this estimate: The Central intelligence Agency and the Intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.
.Concurred in bySTATES INTELLIGENCE
on ISoncurring mere The Direcior ofand Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff for intelligence. Department of the Army; thent Chief of Naval Operationsepartment of theNaoy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, VSAF;the Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; the Assistant lo the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of the National Security Agency. The Atomic EnergyRepresentative to the USIB, and the AssistantFederal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.
table of contents
IL THE SITUATION AND OUTIXXJK IN NORTH VIETNAM .
AND PROSPECTS IN SOUTH VIETNAM
COMMUNIST THREAT TO SOUTH VIETNAM
V. OUTLOOK FOR THE STRUGGLE IN SOUTH VIETNAM .
PROSPECTS FOR NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM
To assess the situations in North and South Vietnam, to analyze the nature and scope of the Communist threat to South Vietnam, and to estimate the prospects for the next year or so.
Democratic Republic ofhas thoroughly consolidatedcontrol in North Vietnamextensive Bloc assistance, willcontinue to make rapidRegimentation and foodhave increased public unrestand resulted inof discipline among localHowever, there is noopposition. Theof the aged Ho Chi Minhpolicy differences amongleaders from erupting intostrife. When Ho is nothere will probably be apower between thethe Peiping-oriented elements of )
is some dissatisfaction inwith Diem's leadershipof the cabinet, thethe military, arising out of thesecurity situation andDiem's system of family rule.umber of political reform measures, but probably will not relinquish his highly centralized method ofcontrol. The degree ofwill probably be directly related to Uie success or failure of the Government of Vietnam (GVN) efforts againstguerrilla and subversive activity.
he army will continue toajor factor in future political developments in South Vietnam. Wc believe that the chancesilitary coup have beenby recent manifestations of US support of the Diem government and by the substantial increase In US aid to help South Vietnam meet its internal security problems. Although there has been ain indications of coup-plotting within the military in recent months,basic dissatisfactions with theleadership persist. If the fight against the Viet Cong goes poorly during the next year or the South Vietnamese Army suffers heavy casualties, the
chancesililary coup wouldincrease.
major Hanoi-directedagainst the Diemdirected toward reunification ofunder Communist control isThe Communist apparatusVietnam, the Vict Cong, nowhas morend several thousandin guerrilla warfare,political and propagandasabotage and intelligencecampaign is intended to assertauthority over increasinglyof the countryside insetting up fully "liberated areas"GVN authority is effectivelyof so weakening the Diemto precipitate its overthrow, orpresent, more than half of thein the productive and highlyregion south and southwest ofas well as several areas to theof Saigon, are under extensiveof the Communists. )
believe that the Hanoi regimethe pace and scope of itsactivity during the nextSouth Vietnam's urbanprobably be subjected toCong terrorism. Further Vietto assassinate Diem arewe believe that withlevels of US aidtrenuousGVN effort, the problem of Vict
Cong control of large areas of thecan in time be reduced.)
Even if the GVN does reduce Viet Cong strength, it will require continuedpolitical, andmaintain its authority. South Vietnam will not be able to sealits borders with North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to the infiltration of material and personnel from North )
Thus, the outlook in South Vietnam isrolonged and difflcult struggle with the Viet Cong insurgents. At the same time that the government is prosecuting the military campaign in the war against the Communists, it will have to act tointernal weaknesses and strains from causing its collapse. Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces already control most of southern Laos except for towns along the Mekong, andommunist or leftist government comes to power in Laos the GVN struggle against the Viet Cong will take on new, more perilousIf thereeriousof GVN leadershipesult of Diem's death or as the resultilitary coup any momentum GVN'sefforts had achieved will be halted or reversed, at leastime. The confusion and suspicionoup effort could provide thean opportunity to seize control of the government. )
After the partition of Vietnamhe DRV, with Bloc aid, set aboutits control in the north,adly damaged economy, and organizing society along Communist lines. At the same time, the regime took measures to achieve its ultimate objective, the unification of the countryommunistDuring this earlyovert Communist subversive and guerrillaknown as the Viet Cong, remained in the south after the regroupment offorces called for by the GenevaIt resorted only occasionally toor terrorist action, and concentrated primarily upon political activities designed In part to influence the national elections provided for by tlie Geneva Accords. The Communist leaders in Hanoi probably viewed the future with confidence,the chaos prevailing in the south with their own tight control in the north.
However, by7 it had become clear to the Communist leaders that the Diem government, with US assistance, was making considerable progress toward consolidating its position and disrupting the Viet Cong clandestine organization. Moreover, the Communists had concluded that Diem would never permit elections under conditions which wouldommunist majority.esult, the Hanoi authorities began to reorganize and revitalize the Viet Congand to shift Communist tactics in South Vietnam toward increased terrorism, subversion, and small-scale guerrilla attacks in the countryside. Byeneral Hanoi-directed Communist offensive was well under way. Since that time the Viet Cong guerrilla-terrorist apparatus has more than tripled In size tond the area, scope, and effectiveness of its activities have been greatly expanded.
The OVN. under the determinedof President Diem, has been confronted by serious economic, political, and security problems since the end of the Indochina War. Although it has made remarkable progress in some respects, it has not been able to bring the Viet Cong under control, or thus far. reverse the recent deterioration ofsecurity. This hasradual erosion of public support, frustrated many of the government's economic and social programs, onderious political problem of dissatisfied military officers and civil servants.
ommunist paramilitary and subversive efforts against Laos and South Vietnam are probably closely related. In both countries there were Indications89 that the governments were becoming bolder and more effective in their anti-Communistand lhat Communists assets wereto be cut back. The shift intactics to emphasis uponactivity became noticeable In both Laos and South Vietnam at about the same tune. The Communists probably now view Laos and South Vietnam as two partsingle broad political-military strategy. The Pathet Lao and the Viet Cong are bothof the Lao Dong, the NorthCommunist Party. Hanoi Is theagency for Bloc activity in both countries, and It probably is allowedlocal freedom In conducting theguerrilla and subversive campaign.
SITUATION AND OUTLOOK IN
North Vietnamese leaders areCommunist revolutionariesby their prolonged armedthe French. By the time theyNorth Vietnam4 they hadextensive practical experience incontrol techniques, andThey had at their commandloyal, and victorious army. They had
considerable support among the peasants and Intellectuals. Their leader, Ho Chi Minh, was widely known and respected throughout Vietnamationalist leader.
the regime lost much of itsappeal as it quickly andaboul consolidating ils control andcenters of potential dlssldence,among the Catholic and tribalThese measures, along withprivations and hardships ofresultedaning ofising unrest andamong the people. There hasslackening of vigilance andthe security forces and localthere have probably been someuprisings in the wake of lastcrop failures. However, Intwo years the regime lias acceleratedlo strengthen the parlyat lower and middle levels,instruments ofparty,and thefirmlyand responsive to Its command.public attitude is one ofpassivity, and there is no significantopposition movement.
B. Political Situation and Outlook
The DHV's leadership has beenstable; the elite group, like that ofChina, gained its status and cohesion in years of civil warfare. Ho Chi Minh'sreputation, his unique standing with the Vietnamese people and the rank and file of the Lao Dong, and his ability to moderate intraparty disputesosition above factionalism continue to make him the most important man in the DHV. Ho is Chairman of the Lao Dong und President of the DRV. It Is not certain, however, just how actively he wields his power. He isears old and there are several strong younger men in top operative posts in the party, government, and army.
During the past two years the regime has substantially reorganized its governing apparatus. It has had new elections for the National Assembly, the firstew leaders have been selected at all middle and lower echelons of the party; and thestructure has been furtherThe National Party Congress held inhe first in nine years,ew party constitution. Themachinery, still under light party conirol, is now probably better prepared to cope with its administrative problems.
During this period the party leadership has been confronted by serious domesticand political problems and by the questions of Bloc tactics and leadership at Issue in the Sino-Soviet dispute. The Party Congress resultedeorganization of the party and In some shifts in individualand power among the Lao Dong leaders. These developments almost certainly brought to the surface tensions and policy differences among the "moderate" andelements within the top partyThus far, however, these differences have been kept under control, probably as the result of Ho's abilities to moderate party disagreements and the general appreciation among the Lao Dong leaderspecial need for party unity under present
Differing tendencies within the Lao Dong leadership are represented hy Le Duan and Truong Chinh. Over the past two years or so Le Duan and his "moderate" followers have been in the ascendancy and Hoconsiders him to be the heir apparent. Le Duan holds the key position of Firstof the Lao Dong and controls anfollowing within the party. He led the southern guerrilla forces for several years prior to the establishment of the DRV, and almost certainly isajor role in planning the current Viet Cong effort to overthrow President Diem and hisin South Vietnam. Ocncral Vo Nguyen Qtap, Minister of Defense andin Chief of the Armed Forces, tends to side with the "moderate" group. Theyear-old, Moscow-trained Pham Van Dong, Is very close to Ho andence straddlcr, but he isto the policies of Le Duan.
leader of the "radical" group Is Chlncsc-trained Truong Chinh, who had served as Secretary General of the party forears until lie was relieved by Ho' Truong Cnlnh's fall from grace was probably theof his close identification with the regime's rapid and ruthless agrarian reform program which created many economic problems and cost the regime much of its earlyrapport from the peasantry. However, the Lao Dona probably still considers Truong Chinheading ideologist, and he retains considerable strength among his politburo colleagues and within the party. Heto rank third in the Lao Dong
So long as Ho Chi Minh remains active, he will probably continue to moderate uitra-party disputes and prevent serious strife. When he is gone it will be much moreto keep factional rivalries and disputes under control. At present, Le Duan isstrong enough to gain control of the party and thus of the regime. However, serious setbacks in South Vietnam orpressure from Peiping could swing party strength behind Truong Cnlnh's more radical group. In any case thesuccession would probably appear superficially orderly with innocuous, elderly Vice President Ton Due Thang succeeding to the Presidency until the real struggle for power within the party had been decided.
Sino-Soviet Relations. North Vietnam occupies an intermediate position in the Sino-Soviet dispute. The Vietnameseistoric dislike and distrust of the Chinese to whom they paid tribute for manyand they deeply fear ChineseOn the other hand, the state of their culture and society and the nature of their politicnl and economic problems arc closely akin to those of Communist China, and the DRV's revised constitution, land reform, tax-
'At this time Ho assumed the title of Secretary-General in addlUon to his post as Chairman of the party.0 the post of Secretary General was abolished, making Le Duan as First Secretory rank directly behind the Chairman.
atlon, and agricultural programs arc clearly based on Chinese experience. In addition, the proximity of China makes Pelping'sand military influence strongly felt.
himself is Moscow-trained and hecertainly appreciates that only awith Moscow can preventfrom becoming completelyPeiping. He has kept the DRV andDongenerally neutral positionSino-Soviet dispute and Is creditedobservers with havingeythe0 Moscow Conferencethe Soviets and Chineseto produce the compromiseTho North VietnameseHo, will probably continuea middle position Inwhile pressing for militantof "wars of nationalas Hanoi is waging In South Vietnam.
C. Economic Situation"
North Vietnam'sis one of the most backwnrd of allcountries. Agriculture isoccupation, and aboutercent oflives in rural areas Northhas considerable developmentsince It possesses rich mineral,and fishery resources1 Moreover,nearly all of the good arablenow under production, per acre yieldsand can be greatly raised.
Communist Bloc has Investedeconomic aid to North Vietnam, firstIts war-torn economy and thenIts economy develop. Total Blocaid committed so far amounts to
0 million, of whichad been utilized by the endith this assistance and its ownof resources and eflort. North Vietnam has made rapid economic progress, raising its gross national product (GNP)nnually5orth Victnnm'K gross domestic investmentroportion of total resources roseercent5 toercenthat the economic base Is being strengthened for continued rapid growth.
Agriculture. The DRV has been having serious difficulties in agricultureesult of adverse weather, mismanagement, and rapid, forced collectivization. The regime claims that the value of agricultural output increasedrcent60 drought, and that Northhaset exporter of food. Most of the increase in agriculturalhowever, was in livestock, particularly draft animals. Rice production Increasedlower rate than the population, andof subsidiary foods actually declined.6 per capita consumption of food has generally been below prewar levels, and0 the per capita production of food was less thanhe fact lhat the DRVet exporter of food0 was madenly by the regime's firm control of distribution and consumption. The people generally areubsistence diet and in some areas shortages are critical. Inevitably this has created widespreadwith the regime.
The prospects for alleviating thesearc only fair. Assuming average weather, the DRV might be able to Increase food production atercent annunlly for some years to come. At this rate, food output5 would reach about two-thirds ofillion ton goal for that year and barely remain ahead ofercent rate of population increase. The acceleration of rural collectivization, which took place in the latter halfay generate sufficient additional peasant resistance to place even this achievement in doubt.
Industry. Because of the DRV'seconomy, the Three-Yearevoted nearlyercent of total industrial investment to lightLight manufacturing accounted for two-thirds and mining and heavyfor one-third of all industrial output by valuever the next five years light industry will continue to grow rapidly although proportionally greater stress will be laid on heavy industry and mining.
Mining accounts forercent by value of DRV industrial output and nearlyof its industrial exports. Despite aincrease In output0 was barely up toighillion tons. Over the next five years coal production willto rise, but there will almost certainly be more diversification as other Northmineral resources arc exploited.China will probably become ancustomer for the rich supplies of phosphate rock.
The current Five-Year Plan shiftsto heavy Industry, particularly electric power, machine building, steel, andThe machine industry will be oriented toward support of agriculture and theindustry will emphasize fertilizerThe plan calls for the productionons of piggoing Intohe regime's failure to meet original Three-Year Plan goals for several important items (Including coal, cement, electric power, and cotton cloth) suggests lhat the present Fivc-Ycar Plan goals should be appraised with caution.
Transportatum. In spite of thegiven4 to the rehabilitation of transportation, the rail net is not quite back to its prewar size In terms of mileage; however, overall tonnage has increased. Emphasis is also being placed on restoration
of the road net to its prewar status,of water transport has lagged. There has been considerable development of strategic roads toward the border of Laos andh Parallel. Long-discussed plans to widen the DRV's rail network from meter gauge tonch standard gauge that is used on Communist China main lines may be carried outhe Honol-Dong Dang and theay railway lines are operated as virtually integral parts of the Chinese Communist railwayarge part of the freight moving on these lines is Chinese Communist freight in transit across North Vietnam between Nan-nine, and Kunming.
III. SITUATION AND PROSPECTS IN SOUTH VIETNAM
Situation and Problems. Despite its many remarkable achievements. Southnational leadership never hasmuch active public support. During the past yearalf. President Diem and his government have been more seriously criticized and challenged, particularly by members of the bureaucracy and theestablishment, than at any time since he consolidated his authority. The criticism and dissatisfaction stemfrom serious concern with thesecurity situation and from Diem's system of family rule. Despite hispersonal prestige and reputation forand courage. Diem remains an aloof and uninspiring figure to the Vietnamese. Communist propaganda intensifies public dissatisfaction with the Diem government, particularly among the peasants and urban laboring groups.
Within the frameworkemocratic constitution, Diemmall circle ofand confidants exercise supremepower. Most members of thebranch arc personal agents of Diem, fearful of assuming responsibility or ofinitiative. The legislative powers of the National Assembly are strictlyThe press and radio are largelyby the government, and opposition groups and critics of the government have little opportunity to make their views widely known. This highly centralized regime has provided resolute and stable leadership, but it has alienated many politically conscious South Vietnamese and inhibited tbe growth of strong governmental and politicalwhich could provide stability andif Diem were to leave the scene.
A number of officials including ViceNguyen Ngoc Tho. and some Important members of the cabinet, the bureaucracy, and the military have questioned seriously Diem's ability to lead the government and rally the people against the Communists during what they regard as the most critical period since the end of the Indochina War. These officials also criticize Diem's failure to delegateand his reliance largely onof his family, particularly his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. for advice in the conduct of government affairs. Moreover, the fact that tlie Canemicovert political apparatus, has been used by Diem and his brothers, Nhu and Ngo Dlnh Can. not only to Insure theof policy but also to police the attitudes and loyalty of the governmentalhas created considerable antagonism within the military hierarchy and the civil service.
Tlie Diem regime waseprieve by the national elections ofn which Diem and Vice President Tho received nearlyercent of the total vote. Voter turnout was high, despite Communist efforts tothe voters. However, the electionbe considered an accurateof rapport for Diem or his regime. Diem and Tho enjoyed overwhelming advantages in the campaign, there almost certainly was some meddling with the returns, and thecandidates were political noncnuties.
Since the April elections. Diem hasan intent to rectify some of the causes of dissatisfaction. He has reorganized his
cabinet in an eflort to improve effectiveness and coordination. He has instructed histo sixmd more time in the countryside, seeing that programs are followed through and seeking to win over the population. He hasonsoUdation of his intelligence services and hasumber of movesio provide the military greaterof action. He has experimented withcontrol of the press and opposition groups. However, most of these moves have been initiated only because of urging from the US. Diem almost certainly lias not changed his view that his kind ofauthoritarianism is best for South]>artlcularly while the country is at war.
Diem has little respect for his domestic political opponents, whom he tends lo view as dupes, Communists, or agents of the French. The opposition is, in fact,isparate assortment of disgruntled intellectuals,and unsuccessful politicians, who have for one reason or another fallen out with the government. None of them has afollowing of consequence, and few have any constructive ideas to offer. Although theyource of annoyance to Diem and atisruptive factor in Saigon, they are not hyignificant present threat to the government.
The continued existence of restiveness and dissatisfaction among military officers and other government officials is much moreDiem has long recognized that the greatest threat to hisfrom the VictIn the possibilityilitary coup. The abortive coup eflort by paratroop units in. which came very near succeeding, increased Diem's suspicions of the military. As yet no new coup group appears to have taken shape.
Poilttcal Prospects. The army willtoajor factor in future political developments in South Vietnam. We believe that the chancesilitary coup have been reduced by recent manifestations of USof the DIcm government and by theincrease in US aid to help South Vietnam meet its internal securitylthough there hasecrease hiof coup-plotting within the military in recent months, certain basic dissatisfactions with the national leadership persist. If the fight against the Viet Cong goes poorly during tho next year or the South Vietnamese Army suffers heavy casualties, the chancesilitary coup would substantially increase.
There ishance that Diem mayassassinated or leave thi KttM as tlieof accidental or natural causes.evelopment would provide an opportunity and strong motivationroup ofofficers to seize control. On the other hand, the Viet Cong would be very likely to increase greatly their efforts to take over in such an emergency situation and this might cause the military to close ranks in support of constitutional processes, at least through tbe transition period. In such event. Vice President Tho would succeed to theand Nguyen Dinh Thuan. theof State for the Presidency and Assistant Secretary of State for National Defense, would probably continue toeyrole. However, the Ngo family,led by Nhu and Can, would probablyto retain real political powerontest for power might ensue.
In more general terms, the chief problem confronting the GVN Is how to resolve the conflicting needs of highly centralizedcontrol for effective antiguerrllla measures on the one hand and of liberalized, more democratic political attitudes for greater public support of the government on the other. It is unlikely that Diem willreal political reforms in an effort to meet the complaints ofn-Communistgroups hi Saigon, the peasants, and the military and civilian officials. In any case, Diem probably could not make enough politi-
. "OuUook In Mainland Southeastatedarch lflfll,tated that in view of "Diem's precarious political situation and the strength of Communist guerrilla and subversive pressures, wc believe that the oddsecond coup attempt sometime in the next year or so."
changes to satisfy the demands (or reform by the opposition groups among the urbanThe degree of dissatisfaction among the peasants and the military and civilian officials is related directly to theor failure of GVN efforts against Viet Cong guerrilla and subversive activity.In the internal security situation would do more, at least in the short run,reducing discontent among the peasants, the military, and the civil servants thanreforms at the national level.
Economic Situation. The economy of South Vietnam was severely weakened by the years of recurrent warfarend its subsequent separation from the north. Sources of supply and markets were disrupted. In the countryside, vital water control works were damaged or neglected and large areas of rice land were abandoned as peasants moved to urban areas In search of security. Theofillion refugees from North Vietnam45 further burdened the economy.
Backed by substantial US support, the GVN has been able to achieve appreciableprogress. Besides buildingodern military force and relocating theSouth Vietnam has repaired andits badly damaged transportationinitiated an extensive land reformrestored its agricultural production, and established the foundation for Industrial growth.
he GVN was beginning to move ahead on cxitanding economic development. However, the sudden, marked rise in guerrilla warfare widely affected GVN economic plans and. sincehere has been aslackening in the momentum ofprogress. Communist Interference with the flow of rice from the countryside to the urban centers hasecrease In the amount available for export and contributedise in price. Saigon merchants haveIncreasing difficulty In delivering their merchandise to the villages. Domestic commerce In general has declined In partof the uncertainties of the politicalCommunist sabotage of roads and bridges and control of certain areas have set back government reconstruction and agrarian reform programs. Although there has been an Increase in the production of rubber, the leading source of foreign exchange, rubber plantations are under constant harassment by Communist terrorists.
Despite South Vietnam's economicthe country continues to be highlyupon the US.5S economic aid to the GVN came to4 billion; most of this has been for defense support. Exports from the GVN (chiefly rubber and rice) pay for onlyuarter of the consumer and other goods that are Imported. The remainder of thearc largely financed by the USImport program under which plasters are made available to the GVN through the local sale of imported goods initiallywith US aid dollars. France has been South Vietnam's principal buyer andThe US is second In both buying from and selling to South Vietnam. Japan isIncreasingly importantupplier.
Economic Prospects. ContinuedIn the GVN's economic position over the next few years will depend largely on the course of the war againsl the Viet CongMoreover, if the OVN Is tolarger military and security forces, its dependence on US aid will increase. Thesituation also will continue to affect adversely the willingness of the GVN tofiscal reforms, urged by the US, aimed at increasing tax revenues.
Agrarian reform and land distribution programs, together with highway and canal reconstruction, will continue to suffer as long as the OVN control of much of theparticularly in the Mekong delta area, remains as tenuous as it is at present. The effect of prolonged, unrelieved Insecurity In the countryside wouldeclineurther decline in domestic commerce,owering of businessin South Vietnam. The cumulative
effect of all these developments could beparticularly if the GVN were tolarge-scale deficit financing of its budget.
Vietnam's substantial tradebe decreased tn the short run onlyrises in the availability of rubberfor export. Over the longer run,Vietnam will have to relydeveloping new export possibilitiesdiversification and onproduction of many light consumerarc imported at present. In anyVietnam will continue for thefuture to require extensive US aidits large balance of payments deficit.
IV. THE COMMUNIST THREAT TO SOUTH VIETNAM
Communist threat to Southof three interrelated elements:military threat posed by theArmy; an expanding programwarfare and terrorismVietnam; and an intenseeffort designed toSouth Vietnamese public and thesecurity forces, and to discredit
A. The Military Threat4
Tlie North Vietnamese Army is almost twice the size of the South Vietnamese Army. The threat posed by the large northern forces has put constant psychological pressure on the GVN. South Vietnam has been obliged U>substantial pari of its forces alongh Parallel and more recently the Laotian border, despite the need to combat the growing Communist guerrilla strength in the south.
However, the immediate threat to South Vietnam is not from an overt invasion.the current North Vietnam campaign to bring South Vietnam under Communist control is basedombination of
' The Military Annex provides addiUonalrcspoeUng the North Vietnamese and Soulh Vietnamese armed forces.
guerrilla warfare and subversive activitynational liberation" character in both South Vietnam and adjacent Laos. It is probably the Communist view that such tactics greatly reduce the risk to North Vietnam of US military intervention and, at the same time, provide good prospects of success at relatively little cost.
B. The Guerrilla Threat
Communist assets for guerrilla andaction against South Vietnam are formidable. In spite of substantial losses, the Viet Cong have increased their hard-core strength from an est! man0 to more0 byhis increase was accomplished by localand by infiltration by land and sea from North Vietnam. We estimate that about half of thelcd Viet Cong weapons are brought in by sea. The guerrillas areby several thousand supporters who ostensibly arc innocent citizens but who Join the organized insurgent bands to assist insabotage, propaganda, andoperations. By relying on tactics of surprise, concentration for attack andupon withdrawal, the guerrillas achieve maximum effectiveness. They appear to have good Intelligence on the plans andof government forces sent on anti-guerrilla missions. Viet Cong morale isgood and there are few defections from their ranks to GVN forces.
Viet Cong guerrilla and terrorist activity is intended to assert Communist authority over Increasingly large parts of thein anticipation of setting up fullyareas" In which GVN authority is effectively denied, or of so weakening the Diem government as to precipitate itsor both. At present, more than half of the rural area in the productive and highly populated region south and southwest of Saigon, as well as several areas to theof Saigon, are under extensive control of the Communists. In these areas theauthority is effective only by day and when backed up by military The Communists levy and collect
taxes, direct the harvesting, central theof rice and other farm products, conduct indoctrination programs, andrecruits Recently, tlie Viet Cong have begun to set up overt party organizations and provisional local government units in South Vietnam similar to those established during the Indochina War.
Viet Cong control in the countryside is based primarily upon organized coercion and terrorism. The number of Communist cadres and converts is probably small in mostbut in the absence of OVN forcesto protect the village against reprisals, those inclined to support the government and turn againsl the Communists are effectively contained. The high rate of assassinations of local officials and retaliatory murders is areminder of the penalty of noncoopera-tion with the local Viet Cong authorities.1
The GVN is in the early stages ofan all-out effort basedS-sponsored counterinsurgency plan to neutralize and if possible defeat the Viet Cong threat.actionilitary nature dominates the plan, it also envisages coordinated actions in Uie political, economic, and psychological fields. Some aspects of the plan have already been Initiated,ew emphasis upon antiguerrilla warfare in army training and tacticseorganization of thestructure to provide centralizedfor the entire military effort. Moves have also been taken to reorganize Uieapparatus and reduce rivalries and duplication of effort among the variousservices.
Al present. Uie South Vietnamese Army numbers slightlyen. of whom more than half have been continuouslyIn security operations. This Is to be increaseden under the counter-Insurgency plan. Aiding the army in the antiguerrilla campaign are the locally re-
' According to official GVN sources,ommunist terrorists assassinated atocal government officials and other civilians and Kidnapped at least. while Communist KucrrlllHs killed atilitary and security personnel trom May to December of that year.
exulted and controlled security forces: (a) the Civil Guard, an armed rural militia of0 whose poor levels of training and equipment may improve under recentlyarmy programs; and (b)man Self-Derenscillage constabulary with little training and few arms and heavily penetrated by Uie Viet Cong. These two security forces have suffered most of Uie South Vietnamese casualties during the past year. Scattered about through thewith poor communications andthey often fall prey to Viet Congand raids for arms and ammunition.
military capabilities and otherfor fighting the Communists arcThe mililary leadership isbest in Southeast Asia and the ranktroops have the spirit and willingnessThe civilian bureaucratic leadershipstrongly anti-Communist, but Itsis impeded by Inadequateauthority. There are no serious trendsneutralism oroliticalwith Hanoi. Finally, Uiepeasants, however politicallydiscontented with the government,no means ready to surrenderthe Viet Cong,reater effort byto protect them from
C. Political and Psychological Warfare
Int its Third National Congress, the Lao Dong announced that its "Immediate task" was to overthrow President Dlcm ond form agovernment In the south with which Hanoi could cooperate. To serve these ends, Hanoi hasNational Liberationith Us own news agency and mobile, clandestine radio transmitters. As part of Uie campaign to overthrow the Diem government, the Viet Cong has stepped up Its political andwarfare seeking to capitalize upon South Vietnam's problems.
The combination of the Communistand psychological assault and Uienon-Communist dissatisfaction with Diem and his government is asause
for concern as the Viet Cong paramilitary effort. Tlie Communists have tried toUwmselves with Uie non-Communistand to discredit Ngo family rule. To this end. they are seeking to intensify the real and Imagined grievances of the peasants, the intellectuals, and military and civilianTheir National Liberation Front Is probably Intended toallying point for the restless and disenchantedelements. From the Communist point of view it could serve as the core eitherovernment set upliberatedrovernment to replace the GVN In the confusion which would attenduccessful non-Communist coup.
V. outlook for the STRUGGLE in SOUTH vietnam
The Hanoi regime is probably seeking to bring its campaign of subversion, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare against South Vietnam to an early and successful conclusion,it is probably not operating on any rigid, preconceived timetable. We believe that it will almost certainly increase the pace and scope of its paramilitary activity during the next few months. North Vietnam's awareness of US intentions to increase Its aid and assistance to South Vietnam willintensified Viet Cong efforts to makegains before US assistance canignificant impact on the GVN's counter-insurgency capability. This increased Viet Cong paramilitary activity will beby increased political andwarfare efforts designed toDiem personally nnd toopular front opposition. These efforts arc likely to be coordinated with international political efforts by the larger Bloc powers.
South Vietnam's urban centers,Saigon, will probably be increasingly subjected to Viet Cong acts of terrorismto demoralize the public, disrupt the government, and Increase the possibilityon-Communist coup effort. The Viet Cong will probably make further attempts toDiem. Americans will probablyto be singled out us special targets for terrorist activity. However, expanding its areas of control in Uie countryside willremain Uie most important element of the Viet Cong paramilitary effort.
We believe that with conUnued high levels of US aidtrenuous GVN effort, Uie problem of Viet Cong control of large areas of the countryside can in time be reduced.at leastoonths of effort will probably be required before muchbegins to appear. Even if the GVN docs reduce Viet Cong strength, it will requiremaximumpolitical, andmaintain Its authority, and potentially troublesome pockets of Viet Cong resistance will probably remain for many years. South Vietnam will not be able to completely seal ils borders with NorthLaos, and Cambodia to the infiltration of material and personnel from North Vietnam.
Communist advances In Laos" have had the double advantage, from the Communist point of view, of increasing the ability of the DHV to step up its guerrilla pressures on the GVN and of eroding GVN confidence in US determination to resist Communistin Southeast Asia. Mountain tralU In southern Laos have been used freely by the Communists for years for movement of men and supplies between North and South Vietnam. Now. however, with Falhet Lao and North Vietnamese forces in control of most of southern Laos except for towns along theforces and supplies may be moved along the road nets, which Uie Communistsare improving. Moreover, the erosion of the Royal Lao Government's control over southern Laos Increases greatly the problems of defending South Vietnam and Intensifies psychological pressures upon South Vietnam's leaders, who have long feared the exposure of the left flank of Uieir forces deployed to defendh Parallel. Tlie GVN hasby sending small special force units into southern Laos for reconnaissance purposes
' Communist forces In Laos now total0 men,ons of suppliesf these troops are In southern Laos, south of Route 9.
and by proceeding to establish additional armp outposts on the South Vietnam side of the frontier.
Thus, the outlook in South Vietnam Lsrolonged and difficult struggle with the Viet Cong insurgents. At the same time that the government Is prosecuting the military campaign in the war against the Communists, it will have to act to prevent internaland strains from causing its collapse. If Laos becomes dominated by theoreftist regime, the GVN struggle against the Vict Cong will take on new, more perilous dimensions. If thereeriousor GVN leadershipesult of Diem's death or as the resultilitary coup, any momentum the GVN'sefforts had achieved will be halted or reversed, at leastime. Theand suspicionoup effort could provide the Communists anto seize control of the government.
US-aVN Relations. The course of US-GVN relations will be an important element in the struggle against the Viet Cong and in sustaining South Vietnamese morale.Increases in USointly agreed plan to combat Vict Cong insurgency, and manifestations to Diem of US sympathy andas the Viceasisontinuing close relationship between the twoHowever, the struggle ahead willong and difficult one involving manyand difficulties for both South Vietnam and the US, and it is likely manyconcerning the implementation of the counterinsurgency plan will arise.
The fuel that the US is tho GVN's only source of significant support and assistance is the controlling factor in the GVN'sand attitudes toward the US Diem will almost certainly continue to press foraid, further expansion of the armed forces,lear priority of military over political and economic efforts to undercut the Viet Cong. Diem will be adamant in his views as to how tlie GVN campaign against the Viet Cong should be waged. He will tend to regard US differences with his views or criticism of his Inner circle as indications of weakening US confidence in him.
Diem probably still has some lingeringof the extent of US confidence in and support of his leadership, resulting from the paratrooper coup effort of0 and urgent US representations made during that yeur for liberal political reforms. In the event of another coup effort against Diem'she would probably expect quick and strong manifestations of US support and would feel that he did not have US confidence i' such manifestations were not forthcoming.
There Is considerable anxiety within the GVN concerning the general US posture with respect to communism in the Far East. Diem probably regards US policy toward Laos as an indicator of US resolution in standing against Communist advances in Asia, and US policy during the past year has almost certainly raised doubts in his mind. Other indicators probably would be Diem's interpretation of US policy toward Nationalist China andthe issue of Chinese Communistin the UN. Diem has no alternative to US support and assistance. Nevertheless, If he concludes that the US is weakening Its anti-Communist posture in the Far East, he will almost certainly make strong protests to the US and become increasingly assertive and stubborn in his relations with the US.
International Attttudet. In providing theaximum of encouragement andsupport in Its struggle against the Communists, the US will inevitably become identified with the GVN's success or failure. The US will be under heavy pressure from other members of the non-Communist world, many of whom view the Vietnam struggle In differing terms. For example, thecountries, such as Thailand. Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, andChina, have all to some extent viewed developments In Laosauge of USand ability to help an anti-Communist Asian government standommunist "national liberation" campaign. They will almost certainly look upon the struggle for Vietnamritical test of such USand ability. All of them, including the
neutrals, would probably sutler demoralization and loss of confidence in their prospects for mainlalnlng their independence if thewere to gain control of SouthThis loss of confidence might evento India.
mong the Western allies, the UK and France are especially concerned by theproblem. Both governments have had serious reservations over aspects of US policy throughout the crisisos and almosttend to view the developing situation in Vietnam In terms of another potential Laos. The French with their memories of the Indo-cldna War and the British with theirin Malaya tend to be pessimisticOVN prospects for coping with the Viet Cong threat. Both France and the UK are probably fearful that the US may become embroiledrisis hi Vietnamime when in their view full Western strength and attention should be directed toward problems in Western Kurope, and they will probably seek to Influence the US to avoidituation.
STRENGTHS AND CAPABILITIES OF THE DRV AND GVN ARMED FORCES
strengths and capabilities of the drv and gvn armed forces
Democratic Republic of Vietnam
he North Vietnamese armed forces consist ofian People's Army of Vietnamrmedmall coastal naval force, and an incipient air force. The PAVNell-trained infantry army, adapted to the terrain and climate ofand experienced in rice paddy,and jungle warfare. With help from Communist China, the PAVN has increased considerably Its capabilities since theWar.y concentrating itsresourcesingle objective, the PAVN could mount an attack of limited duration using three divisions supported by directfire. Today it is capable of deploying for an attack at least five of itsivisions and of providing substantially greater logistic and combat support, including indirectfire. The PAVN has excellent mobility on foot and extensive experience with techniques of logistic support by primitive means. The trend in the training and organization of the PAVN is toward the development of aforce, in contrast with its essentially guerrilla character in thes.
he available evidence indicates that the morale of the armed forces is good and that their loyalty to the regime Is not open to serious question. The living standard of the average soldier is generally higher than his civilian counterpart. The PAVN considersa victorious army which has won its laurels byodern, European power in battle. Itimple, popularunify Vietnamommunist regime; and in this aim. it is ledational hero, Ocncral Vo Nguyen Giap. Potential sources of division and disloyalty within the armed forces, such as the presence of both pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese factions, do not appear to have developed. There have been relatively few desertions or defections from the North Vietnamese armed forces. Thepresent economic problems,the shortages of food, could in time significantly effect the morale and loyalty of the North Vietnamese armed forces; however, as yet there have been no indications of such an effect.
The PAVN is almost completely dependent upon foreign sources for the supply ofand material and for technical andtraining. It is short onfacilities, armored vehicles, and airMost military aid has come from Communist China. In the event of overtoperations against South Vietnam, the PAVN's most urgent need tor assistance would be in the fields of transportation andThe provision of additional air transport capability by the USSR orChina would lessen the PAVN's logistics problem.
In recent years North Vietnam hasimited air capability with considerablepotential. The North Vietnamesehas maintained and renovated former French airfields and has acquired several new types of small transports. North Vietnamese personnel have probably taken part in the Soviet airlift, even to the extent of piloting USSR-supplied aircraft. Inewropeller fighters have been observed in North Vietnam and may have been turned over to the DRV. These developments,with the organization of an air force headquarters In the Defense Ministry, suggest that the regime isactical air arm. Regardless of how rapidly Northdevelops an air force, however, its air facilities have already become, asby the Soviet airlift from Hanoi intoseful adjunct to Communist air power in the Far East.
b. Government of Vietnam
present, the GVN's Armyit Is in process of bemgan navy, equippedboats and minesweepers, provides the
GVN some capability for river ond coastal patrol and detection. Tlie air force of5 pilots)ropeller-driven aircraft of whichre assigned to tactical unils. Most of the aircraftnd liaisontypes. The air force fighter squadron flying AD-6's has performed well In support of groundand the transport group is combat ready and has demonstrated its ability in supply and paratroop missions.
The South Vietnamese armed forces are fully dc[>endenl upon US military assistance. The US Military Assistance Advisory Group, which numberedfficers and men Inrovides advisors to the armed forces in addition to furnishing logistical and training support. US advisors have recently begun to accompany units in the field. US military aid in Fiscal2 is projected at1 million for MAPillion for supporting assistance. Substantialfunds for supporting assistance areconsidered to implement the new counter-insurgency plan.
The major strength of the SouthArmy lies In its extensive combatIn counter guerrilla warfare. It has been very largely trained under fire.officers with combat records are moving into command at more senior levels. The troops generallyood knowledge of the terrain in which they fight and have developed, through training and experience, the ability to move and fight under difficult conditions. Leadership at the lower levels is adequate, and It Is improving as the result of intensive leadership training.
The morale of the South Vietnamese armed forces sagged In0 when the new Viet Cong offensive was resulting in humiliating defeats and frustrating, ineffectualSince then, the army has rallied and, in0 andegan to score successes in the field against the guerrillas. The activation of additional ranger companies and broadened ranger training will increase the army's countergucrriha capabilities. Moreover, in recent operations against the Viet Cong, the armed forces have demonstrated improved ability to launch and carry out coordinated operations, usingarms.
Weaknesses and deficiencies of the South Vietnamese Army include: lack of technical competence among the troops; inadequate communications and transportation; andlogistics. The army Jacks effective intelligence, and there are not enoughofficers above the battalion levels. No effective system of rotating combat troops has yet been established, with the result that some units have been committed to undulyperiods or anti-Viet Cong operations without relief. The Communists are almost certainly seeking to penetrate and subvert the South Vietnamese armed forces. There Is very little evidence that they have made any significant headway.
Even if presently projected programs to expand the GVN armed forces and to increase its anti-insurgency capabilities were fullySoulh Vietnam would still be incapable of resisting full-scale overt attack by the North Vietnamese Army without substantial outside assistance. At the most, the armed forces of South Vietnam, by themselves, would be able toriinor PAVN penetration across the national boundaries. In the eventull-scale PAVN invasion acrosshor through Laos, the South Vietnamese armed forces could probably conduct effective delaying actions for one to two weeks before taking up close defensive positions around the Touranc base area. With US air and naval support, this area probably could be held forays. In the event of overt Invasion, the Viet Cong insurgent guerrillas would launch attacks on the armed forces and their facilities throughout South Vietnam. With the South Vietnamese forces thus under attack from the two sides, the Viet Congcould gain control of the plateau region and large parts of the delta area, causing considerable South Vietnamese troops to be tied down in the defense of Saigon.Original document.