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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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IV.A Fvnliition of the War (26 Vols.) 
U S. MAP for Diem: The Eisenhower Commitmerits, 

1954-1960 (5 Vols.) 
5. Origins of the Insurgency 

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IV, A, 5. 




1954_^- 1960 




lelJ Def Cont Mx. Xr i_=— - 

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From the perspective of the United States_, the origins of the 
insurgency in South Vietnam raise four principal questions: 

1. Was the breakdown of the peace of 1954 the fault 
of the U.S.J or of the ambiguities and loopholes of the 
Geneva Accords? 

2. Was the insurgency in essence an indigenous 
rebellion against Ngo Dinh Diem's oppressive govern- 
mentj transformed by the intervention of first the 
U.S.J and then the DRV? 

3. Or was it J rather^ instigated^ controlled^ and 
supported from its inception by Hanoi? 

h. When did the U.S. become aware of the Viet Cong 
threat to South Vietnam's internal security^ and did it 
attempt to counter it with its aid? 

The analysis which follows rests on study of three corpora of 

(a) Intelligence reports and analyses^ including the most 
carefully guarded finished intelligence^ and pertinent National Intel- 
ligence Estimates. 

(b) Unfinished governmental intelligence^ field reports^ and 
memoranda such as interrogations of prisoners and translated captured 
documents^ as well as contract studies based on similar evidence. 

(c) Open sources; including the works of former U.S. officials, 
Vietnam correspondents ^ and the like. 

The U.S. has attempted to amplify (c) by publishing White Papers in 
1961 and 1965;. in which substantial citations were made from, (b) and 
interjjretations offered consistent with (a). This study has benefited 
from further effort during I96T and early lOffi to identify in (b) 
evidence which could be publicly released. But; based on the survey 
of (a); (b); and (c) rejjorted on beloW; the U.S. can now present no 
conclusive answers to the questions advanced above. 

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Tentative answers are possible^ and form a continuum: By 195^^ 
peace in Vietnam was plainly less dependent upon the Geneva Settlement 
than upon power relationships in Southeast Asia -- principally upon the 
role the U.S. elected to play in unfolding events. In 1957 and 1958, 
a structured rebellion against the government of Ngo Dinh Diem began. 
While the North Vietnamese played an ill-defined part, most of those 
who took up arms were South Vietnamese, and the causes for which they 
fought were by no means contrived in North Vietnam. In 1959 an<i 19^0, 
Hanoi's involvement in the developing strife became evident. Not until 
i960, however^ did the U.S. perceive that Diem was in serious danger 
of being overthrown and devise a Counterinsurgency Plan. 

It can be established that there was endemic insurgency in South 
Vietnam throughout the period I954-I96O. It can also be established — 
but less surely — that the Diem regime alienated itself from one after 
another of those elements within Vietnam which might have offered it 
political support, and was grievously at fault in its rural programs. 
That these conditions engendered animosity toward the GVl^ seems almost 
certain, and they could have underwritten a major resistance movement 
even without North Vietnamese help. 

It is eq.ually clear that North Vietnamese conimunists operated some 
form of subordinate apparatus in the South in the years 195^-1960. 
Nonetheless, the Viet Minh "stay-behinds" were not directed originally 
to structure an insurgency, and there is no coherent picture of the 
extent or effectiveness of communist activities in the period 1956-1959* 
From all indications, this was a period of reorganization and recruiting 
by the communist party. No direct links have been established between 
Hanoi and perpetrators of rural violence. Statements have been found 
in captured party histories that the comraunists plotted and controlled 
the entire insurgency, but these are difficult to take at face value. 
Bernard Fall ingeniously correlated DRV complaints to the ICC of 
incidents in South Vietnam in 1957 with GVN reports of the same incidents, 
and found Hanoi suspiciously well informed. He also perceived a pattern 
in the terrorism of 1957-1959, deducing that a broad, centrally directed 
strategy was being implemented. However^ there is little other corrobora- 
tive evidence that Hanoi instigated the incidents, much less orchestrated 

Three interpretations of the available evidence are possible: 

Option A -" That the DRV intervened in the South in reaction 
to UoS. escalation, particularly that of President Kennedy in early 
1961. Those who advance this argument rest their case principally on 
open sources to establish the reprehensible character of the Diem regme, on 
examples of forceful resistance to Diem independent of Hanoi, and upon 
the formation of the National Liberation Front (NIF) alleged to have 
come into being in South Vietnam in early 196O. These also rely heavily 
upon DRV official statements of 3.960-1961 indicating that the DRV only 
then proposed to support the NIF. 

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Option B -- The DRV manipulated the entire war. This is the 
official U.S. position^ and can be supported. Nonetheless;, the case 
is not wholly compelling^ especially for the years 1955-1959- 

Option C -- The DRV seized an opportunity to enter an ongoing 
internal war in 1959 prior to^ and independent of; U.S. escalation. 
This interpretation is more tenable than the previous; stilly much of 
the evidence is circumstantial. 

The judgment offered here is that the truth lies somewhere between 
Option B and C That is^ there was some form of DRV apparatus functioning 
in the South throughout the years^ but it can only be inferred that this 
apparatus originated and controlled the insurgency which by 1959 posed 
a serious challenge to the Diem government. Moreover,, up until 1958^ 
neither the DRV domestic situation nor its international support was 
conducive to foreign adventure; by 1959^ its prospects were bright in 
both respects^ and it is possible to demonstrate its moving force- 
fully abroad thereafter. Given the paucity of evidence now^ well after 
the events J U.S. intelligence served policy makers of the day surprisingly 
well in warning of the developments described below: 

Failure of the Geneva Settlement (Tab l) 

The Geneva Settlement of 195^+ was inherently flawed as a durable 
peace for Indochina^ since it depended upon France; and since both 
the U.S. and the Republic of South Vietnam excepted themselves. The 
common ground from which the nations negotiated at the Geneva Conference 
was a mutual desire to halt the hostilities between France and the Viet 
Minh; and to prevent any widening of the war. To achieve concord; they 
had to override objections of the Saigon government; countenance the 
disassociation of the U.S. from the Settlement; and accept France as 
one executor. Even sO; Geneva might have wrought an enduring peace for 
Vietnam i£ France had remained as a major power in Indochina; if Ngo 
Dinh Diem had cooperated with the terms of the Settlement; if the U.S. 
had abstained from further influencing the outcome. No one of these 
conditions was likely; given France *s travail in Algeria; Diem*s 
implacable anti-communism; and the U.S.* determination to block further 
expansion of the DRV in Sovitheast Asia. 

Therefore; the tragedy staged: partition of Vietnam; the sole 
negotiable basis found at Geneva for military disengagement; became the 
prime casus belli . To assuage those parties to Geneva who were reluctant 
to condone the handing over of territory and people to a coromimist govern- 
ment; and to reassure the Viet Minh that their southern followers could 
be preserved en bloC; the Accords provided for regrouping forces to 
North and South Vietnam and for Vietnamese freely electing residence in 
either the North or the South; the transmigrations severely disrupted 
the polity of Vietnam; heated the controversy over reunification; and 
made it possible for North Vietnam to contemplate subversive aggression. 
The arms control provisions of the Settlement of 195^1- mollified parties ' 

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of both sides who were fearful that the armistice would he used to conceal 
construction of military bases or other preparations for aggression; but 
these provisions depended on a credible international supervision which 
never materialized. Partition and regroupment pitted North against South 
Vietnam^ and aims control failed patently and soon. Geneva traded on 
long- rim risks to achieve short-run disengagement. France withdrew 
from Vietnam^ leaving the Accords in the hands of Saigon. Lasting peace 
came between Prance and the Viet Minh^ but the deeper struggle for an 
independent^ united Vietnam remained^ its international iniplications 
more grave^ its dangers heightened. 

The Southeast Asia policy of the U.S. in the aftermath of the 
Geneva Conference was conservative^ focused on organizing collective 
defense against further inroads of communism^ not on altering status quo . 
Status guo was the two Vietnams set up at Geneva^ facing each other across 
a demilitarized zone. Hanoi_, more than other powers^ had gambled: hedged 
by the remaining Viet Minh; it waited for either Geneva's general elections 
or the voracious political forces in the South to topple the Saigon 
government. In South Vietnam^ Diem had beguji his attempt to gain control 
over his people^ constantly decried DRV subversion and handling of would-be 
migrants as violations of the Geneva Accords^ and pursued an international 
and domestic policy of anti-communism. Both Vietnams took the view that 
partition was_j as the Conference Final Declaration stated,, only temporary. 
But statements could not gainsay the practical import of the Accords. 
The separation of Vietnara at the 17th parallel facilitated military 
disengagement^ but by establishing the principle that two regimes were 
separately responsible for "civil administration" each in distinct zones; 
by providing for the regroupment of military forces to the two zones^ 
and for the movement of civilians to the zone of their choice; and by 
postponing national elections for at least two years ^ permitting the 
regimes in Hanoi and Saigon to consolidate power^ the Geneva conferees 
in fact fostered two governments under inimical political philosophies^ 
foreign policies^ and socio-economic systems. 

The Geneva powers were jmrprecise — probably deliberately indefinite 
— concerning who was to carry out the election provisions. France^ 
which was charged vrith civil administration in the "regrouping zone" of 
South Vietnam^ had granted the State of Vietnam its independence in Jujie 
195^^ six weeks before the Accords were drawn up. Throughout 195^ and 
the first half of 1955^ France further divested itself of authority in 
South Vietnam: police^ local government^ and then the Army of Vietnam were 
freed of French control^ and turned over to the Saigon government. Con- 
currently^ the U.S. began to channel aid directly to South Vietnam^ rather 
than through France. The convolution of French policy then thrust upon ' 
the U.S. a choice betv^een supporting Diem or the French presence ±n 
Indochina. The U.S. opted for Diem. By the time the deadlines for 
election consultations fell due in JuJ_y 1955; South Vietnam was sovereign 
^ ^Q-'^'^Q 9-S "Well as de jur e^ waxing strong with U.S. aid^ and France was 
no longer in a position to exert strong influence on Diem's policy or 

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As early as January 1955^ President Diem was stating publicly that 
he vas unlikely to proceed with the Geneva elections: 

"Southern Viet-Nam^ since it protested the Geneva Agree- 
ment when it was made^^ does not consider itself a party to 
that Agreement; nor bound by it. 

"In any event^ the clauses providing for the 195^ elections 
are extreraely vague- But at one point they are clear --in 
stipulating that the elections are to be free- Everything will 
now depend on how free elections are defined. The President 
said he would wait to see whether the conditions of freedom 
would exist in North Viet -Nam at the time scheduled for the 
elections. He asked what would be the good of an impartial 
comiting of votes if the voting has been preceded in North 
Viet-Nam by a campaign of ruthless propaganda and terrorism 
on the part of a police state." ^ 

As the deadline for consultations approached (20 July 1955); I^iem was 
increasingly explicit that he did not consider free elections possible 
in North Vietnam^ and had no intention of consulting with the DRV con- 
cerning them. The U.S. did not — as -is often alleged — connive with 
Diem to ignore the elections- U.S. State Department records indicate that 
Diem's refusal to be bound by the Geneva Accords and his opposition to 
pre-election consultations were at his avm initiative. Plowever^ the U.S<; 
which had expected elections to be held; and up until May 1955 had fully 
supported them^ shifted its position in the face of Diem's opposition^ 
and of the evidence then accuinulated about the oppressive nature of the 
regime in North Vietnam, "in essence/' a State Department historical 
study found; "our position would be that the whole subject of consulta- 
tions and elections in Viet-Nam should be left up to the Vietnamese them- 
selves and not dictated by external arrangements which one of the parties 
never accepted and still rejects." ^^ Secretary of State Dulles explained 
publicly that: 

"Neither the United States Governiaent nor the Governmenb 
of Viet-Nara iS; of course; a party to the Geneva airaistice 
agreements. We did not sign theiU; and the G-overnment of Viet- 
Nam did not sign them and; indeed; protested against them. 
On the other hand; the United States believeS; broadly speak- 
ing; in the unification of countries which have a historic 
unity; where the people are akin- We also believe that; if 
there are conditions of really free elections; there is no serious 
risk that the Communists would win. - . -" ■^"^■^■■ 

^ Interview with Max Lerner; transcript in OSD fileS; dated 2h Jan 55- 

Cf.; "Vietnam Demands a Time Extension;" New Yoi-k TimeS; 23 Jan 55- 

-JHf- U.S. Department of State; "The Shift in the United States Position 
Toward Vietnamese Elections Under the Geneva. Accords" (RM-T65); 
1 Sep 65. 

■x^-x- Press Conference; 28 June 55- 

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Thus^ backed by the U.S.^ Diem obdurately refused to open talks with the 
Hanoi government. He continued to maintain that the Government of South 
Vietnam had not signed the Geneva Agreements and thus was not bound by 

"Our policy is a policy for peace. But nothing will lead 
us astray of our goal^ the unity of our country^ a unity in 
freedom and not in slavery. Serving the cause of our nation^ 
more than ever we will struggle for the reunification of our 

"We do not reject the principle of free elections as 
peaceful and democratic means to achieve that unity. However^ 
if elections constitute one of the bases of true democracy^ they 
will be meaningful only on the condition that they be absolutely 

"NoWj, faced with a regime of oppression as practiced by the 
Viet Minh_5 we remain skeptical concerning the possibility of 
fulfilling the conditions of free elections in the North." ^ 

On 1 June I956, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs^ 
Walter Robertson^ stated: 

"President Diem and the Government of Free Viet- Nam 
reaffirmed on April 6 of this year and on other occasions 
their desire to seek the reunification of Viet-Nam by peace- 
fuJL means. In this goal_j we support them fully. We hope 
and pray that the partition of Viet-Nam^ imposed against the 
will of the Vietnamese people^ will speedily come to an end. 
For our part we believe in free elections^ and we support 
President Diem fully in his position that if elections are 
to be heldj there first must be conditions which preclude 
intimidation or coercion of the electorate. Unless such 
conditions exist there can be no free choice." ■^^■■ 

President Eisenhower is widely quoted to the effect that in 195^ 
as many as 80^ of the Vietnamese people would have voted for Ho Chi 
Minh_j as the popular hero of their liberation^ in an election against 
Bao Dai. In October 1955; Diem ran against Bao Dai in a referendum 
and v;"on — by a dubiously overwhelming vote^ but he plainly won 
nevertheless. It is aJmost certain that by I956 the proportion which 
might have voted for Ho -- in a free election against Diem — would have 
been much sm_aller than 80^. Diem's success in the South had been far 
greater than anyone could have foreseen^ while the North Vietnamese 
regime had been suffering from food scarcity _, and low public morale 

|i * Radio Broadcast by Premier Diera^ I6 July 1955- 

*-J^- American Friends of Vietnam _, America's Stake in Vietnam (New York: 
Carnegie Press, 1956), 15 ff • 

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stemming from, inept imitation of Chinese Communism — including a harsh 
agrarian program that reportedly led to the killing of over 50^000 
small-scale "landlords •" The North Vietnamese themselves furnished 
damning descriptions of conditions within the DRV in 1955 and I956- 
Vo Nguyen Giap^ in a public statement to his communist party colleagues,, 
admitted in autumn^ 195^^ that: 

"We made too many deviations and executed too many honest 
people. We attacked on too large a front and^ seeing enemies 
everywhere J resorted to terror^ which "became far too widespread. 
. . . Whilst carrying out our land refoim program we failed to 
respect the principles of freedom of faith and worship in many 
areas. . . in regions inhabited by minority tribes we have 
attacked tribal chiefs too strongly^ thus injuring^ instead of 
respecting^ local customs and manners. . . . When reorganizing the 
party^ we paid too much importance to the notion of social class 
instead of adhering firmly to political qualifications alone. 
Hjistead of recognizing education to be the first essential^ we 
resorted exclusively to organizational measures such as dis- 
ciplinary piHiishments^ expulsion from the party^ executions^ 
dissolution of party branches and calls. Worse stilly torture came 
to be regarded as a normal practice during party reorganization." ^ 

That circumstances in North Vietnam were serious enough to warrant 
Giap's confiteor was proved by Insurrection among Catholic peasants in 
November 1956^ within two weeks of his speech^ in which thousands more 
lives were lost. But the uprisings_, though then and since used to 
validate the U.S. -backed GVN stand^ were not foreseen in 1955 or 195^; 
the basis for the policy of both nations in rejecting the Geneva elections 
waS; rather^ convictions that Hanoi would not permit "free general elec- 
tions by secret ballot/' and that the ICC would be ampotent in supervising 
the elections in any case. 

The deadlines for the consultations in July 1955^ and the date set , 
for elections in July I956;, passed without international action. The 
DRV repeatedly tried to engage the Geneva machinery^ for\^arding messages 
to the Goverraiient of South Vietnam in J\aly 1955^ May and June 1956^ 
March 1958^ July 1959; and July I96O; proposing consultations to 
negotiate "free general elections by secret b allot ^ " and to liberalize 
North-South relations in general. Each time the GVN replied with dis- 
dain^ or with silence. The 17th parallel^ with its demilitarized zone 
on either side^ became de facto an international boundary^ and — since 
Ngo Dinh Diem's rigid refusal to traffic with the North excluded all 
economic exchanges and even an interstate postal agreement -- one of 
the most restricted boxKidaries in the world. The DRV appealed to the 
UI<; and the USSR as co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference to no avail. 
In January 195^^ on DRV urging^ Communist China requested another 

^ General Vo Nguyen Giap^ speaking to the 10th Congress of the lao 
Dong Party Central Coi-mnittee; October I956. 

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. Geneva Conference to deal with the situation. But the Geneva Co- 

! ■ Chairmen;, the USSR and the \JK^ responded only by extending the functions 

' of the International Control Coimission beyond its 195^ expiration date. 

By early 1957^ partitioned Vietnam was a generally accepted modus vivendi 
throughout the international community. For instance^ in January 1957^ 
the Soviet Union proposed the admission of both the GTO and the DRV to 
!■ the United Nations^ the USSR delegate to the Security Council declaring 

that "in Vietnam two separate States existed^ which differed from one 
another in political and economic structure. ..." Thus^ reunification 
through elections became as remote a prospect in Vietnaia as in Korea or 
Germany. If the political mechanism for reunifying Vietnam in 1956 
proved impractical^ the blame lies at least in part with the Geneva con- 
ferees themselves^ who postulated an ideal political settlement incom- 
patible with the physical and psychological dismemberment of Vietnam 
; they themselves undertook in July 195^ • 

But partition was not^ as the examples of Korea and Germany demon- 
strate^ necessarily tantamount to renewed hostilities. The difference 
was that in Korea and Germany international forces guarded the boundaries. 
In Vietnam; the withdrawal of the French Expeditionary Corps prior to 
the date set for elections in I956 left South Vietnam defenseless except 
for such forces as it could train and equip with U.S. assistance. The 
vague extending of the SEATO aegis over Vietnam did not exert the same 
stabilizing influence as did NATO's Central Army Group in Germany^ or the 
United Nations Command in Korea. Moreover^ neither East Germany nor 
North Korea enjoyed the advantage of a politico-military substructure 
within the object of its irredentism^ as the Viet Minh residue provided 
North Vietnam. The absence of deterrent force in South Vietnam invited 
forceful reunification; the southern Viet Minh regroupees in the North . 
and their comrades in the South made it possible. 

Pursuant to the "regroupment" provisions of the Geneva Accords, 
some 190,000 troops of the French Expeditionary Corps, and 900,000 
civilians moved from North Vietnam to South Vietnam; more than 100,000 
Viet Minh soldiers and civilians moved from South to North. Both nations 
thereby acquired minorities with vital interests in the outcome of the 
Geneva Settlement. In both nations, the regroupees exerted an influence 
'' over subsequent events well out of proportion to their members. 

In North Vietnam, the DRV treated the southern regroupees from 
■' the outset as strategic assets — the young afforded special schooling, 

the able assigned to separate military units. 

The southerners in the North, and their relatives in the South, formed, 
with the remnants of the Viet Minh's covert network in South Vietnam, a 
means through which the DRV might "struggle" toward rexinification regard- 
less of Diem's obduracy or U.S. aid for South Vietnam. These people kept 
open the DRV's option to launch aggression without transcending a 

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"civil war" of southerners against southerners — no doubt an important 
consideration with the United States as a potential antagonist. The 
evidence indicates that_, ^t least through 195^^ Hanoi did not -expect 
to have to resort to force; thereafter^ the regroupees occupied increasing 
prominence in DRV plans. 

For Diem*s government^ refugees from the North were iinportant for 
three reasons: firstly^ they provided the world the earliest convincing 
evidence of the undemocratic and oppressive nature of North Vietnam's 
regime. Though no doubt many migrants fled North Vietnam for vague or 
spurious reasons^ it was plain that Ho's Viet Minh were widely and 
genuinely feared^ and many refugees took flight in understandable terror. 
There were indications that the DRV forcefully obstructed the migration 
of other thousands who might also have left the North. In 1955 and 1956^ 
the refugees were the most convincing support for Diem's argument that 
free elections were impossible in the DRV. 


Secondly^ the refugees engaged the sympathies of the American 

' people as fev7 developments in Vietnam have before or since^ and solidly 

underwrote the U.S. decision for unstinting support of Diem. The 
poignancy of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes and 
fortunes to escape communist tyranny^ well journalized,, evoked an out- 
pouring of U.S. aid^ governmental and private. The U.S. Navy was com- 
mitted to succor the migrants^ lifting over 300^000 persons in "Operation- 
EXODUS" (in which Dr. Tom Dooley -- then a naval officer -- won fame). 
U.S. government-to-government aid^ amounting to $100 per refugee^ more 
than South Vietnam's annual income per capita^ enabled Diem's government 
to provide homes and food for hundreds of thousands of the destitute^ and 
American charities provided millions of dollars more for their relief. 
U.S. officials defending American aid programs could point with pride 
to the refugee episode to demonstrate the special eligibility of the 
Vietnamese for U.S. help^ including an early^ convincing demonstration 
that Diem's government could mount an effective program with U.S. aid. 

Thirdly^ the predominantly Catholic Tonkinese refugees provided 
Diem with a claque: a politically malleable^ culturally distinct group^ 
wholly distrustful of Ho Chi Minh and the DRV, dependent for subsistence 
on Diem's government, and attracted to Diem as a co-religionist. Under 
Diem's mandarinal regime, they were less important as dependable votes 
than as a source of reliable political and military cadres. Most were 
. kept unassimilated in their own communities, and became prime subjects 
for Diem's experiments with strategic population relocation. One heritage 
of Geneva is the present dominance of South Vietnam's government and army 
by northerners. The refugees catalyzed Diei^'s domestic political 
rigidity, his high-handedness v/ith the U.S., and his imyielding rejection 
of the DRV and the Geneva Accords. 

The Geneva Settlement was further penalized by the early failure of 
the "international Supervisory Commission" established by the Armistice 


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Agreement (Article 3^) and cited in the Conference Declaration 
(Article 7). While a Joint Coinmission of French and Viet Minh military- 
officers was set up to deal with the cease-fire and force regroupment^ 
the International Commission for Supervision and Control (iCC^ furnished 
by Polandj India; and Canada _, was to oversee the Accords in general, 
j j Its inability to cope with violations of the Armistice in the handling 

of would-be migrants^ vociferously proclaimed in both Saigon and Hanoi^ 
impugned its competence to overwatch the general free elections^ for 
which it was also to be responsible. 

Equally serious for the Settlement; the ICC was expected to control 
arms and guarantee against aggression. The aDrmistice agreement signed 
by the French and the Viet Minh^ and affirmed in the several declara- 
tions of the Geneva Conference,, included four main provisions for arms 
control: (l) arms^ bases^ and armed forces were to be fixed at the level 
existing in Vietnam in Ju3.y 195^^ with allowance for replacement of worn 
or damaged equipment^ and rotation of personnel; (2) further foreign 
influences were to be excluded^ either in the form of alliances^ or 
foreign military bases established in either North or South Vietnam; 
(3) neither party was to allow its zone to be used for the renewal of 
aggression; and; {h) all the foregoing were to be overseen by the ICC. 
As was the case of the regroupment provisions^ these arrangements 
operated in practice to the detriment of the political solution embodied 
in the Accords^ for the ICC; the election guardian^ was soon demonstrated 
to be impotent. 

The level of arms in Vietnam in 195^ was unascertainable. The Viet 
Minh had been surreptitiously armed; principally by the Chinese; from 
1950 onward. That Viet Minh forces were acquiring large amount of 
relatively advanced weaponry was fully evident at Dien Bien PhU; but 
neither the DRV nor its allies owned to this military assistance. After 
the 195^ armistice; French; U.S.; and Britis-h intelligence indicated 
that the flow of arms into North Vietnam from China continued on a scale 
far in excess of "replacement" needs. Similarly; while U.S. military 
materiel had been provided to the French more openly; no one — neither 
the French; the Vietnamese; the U.S.; nor certainly the ICC -- knew how 
much of this equipment was on hand and serviceable after 195^- The 
issue of arms levels was further complicated by regroupment; French 
withdrawals; and the revamping of the national army in South Vietnam. 
The ICC could determine to no one's satisfaction whether the DRV was 
within its rights to upgrade the armament of the irregulars it brought 
, out of South Vietnam. SimilarJ.y; though the DRV charged repeatedly 
that the U.S. had no right to be in South Vietnam at all; the ICC had 
to face the fact that U.S. military advisors and trainers had been present 
in Vietnam since 1950 under a pentilateral agreement with LaoS; Cambodia; 
Vietnam; and France. If France withdrew its cadres in Vietnamese units^, 
could they not be "replaced" by Americans? And if the French were with- 
drawing both men and equipment in large quantities; did not Vietnam have 
a right under the Accords to replace them, in kind with its own; American- 
equipped formations? To DRV charges and GVI^ countercharges; the ICC 

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could reply with legalistic interpretations^ but it found it virtually 
impossible to collect facts^ or exercise more than vague influence over 
U.S.^ GVN^ or DRV policy. The only major example of U.S-' ignoring the • 
ICC was the instance of the U.S. Training and Equipment Recoveiy Mission 
(TERM)^ 350 men ostensibly deployed to Vietnam in I956 to aid the 
Vietnamese in recovering equipment left by the French^ but also directed 
to act as an extension of the existing MMG by training Vietnamese in 
logistics. TERM was introduced without ICC sanction, although subse- 
quently the ICC accepted its presence. 

The question of military bases was similarly occluded. The DRV 
protested repeatedly that the U.S. was transforming South Vietnam into 
a military base for the prosecution of aggression in Southeast Asia. 
In fact, as ICC investigation subsequently established, there was no 
wholly U.S. base anyt^^here in South Vietnam. It was evident, however, 
that the South Vietnamese government had made available to the U.S. 
some portions of existing air and naval facilities — e.g., at Tan Son 
roiut, Bien Hoa, and Wia Be — for the use of MMG and TERM. ICC access 
to these facilities was restricted, and the ICC was never able to 
determine what the U.S. was shipping through them, either personnel or 
materiel. By the same token, ICC access to DRV airports, rail terminals, 
and seaports was severely liiaited, and its ability to confirm or deny 
allegations concerning the rearming of the People's Army of Vietnam 
correspondingly circumscribed. International apprehensions over arms 
levels and potential bases for aggression were heightened by statements 
anticipating South Vietnam's active participation in SEATO, or pro- 
nouncements of DRV solidarity with China and Russia. 

I^ot until 1959 and I96I did the ICC publish reports attempting to 
answer directly DRV charges that the U.S. and South Vietnam were 
flagrantly violating the arms control provisions of the Geneva Accords. 
Similarly, though in its Tenth and Eleventh Interaiu Reports (196O and 
1961) the ICC noted "the concern which the Republic of Vietnam has been 
expressing over the problem of suDversion in South Vietnam," it did not 
mention that those expressions of concern had been continuous since 
I95U, or attempt to publish a factual study of that problem until June 
1962. In both cases, the ICC was overtaken by events: by late I96O, 
international tensions were beyond any ability of the ICC to provide 
reassurances, and the U.S. was faced with the decision whether to commit 
major resources to the conflict in South Vietnam. 

The Geneva Settlement thus failed to provide lasting peace because 
it was, as U.S. National Security Council papers of 195^ and I958 aptly 
termed it, "only a truce." It failed to settle the role of the U.S. 
or of the Saigon government, or, indeed, of France in Vietnam. It 
failed because it created tvro antagonist Vietnamese nations. It failed 
because the Geneva powers were unwilling or unable to concert follow-up 
action in Vietnam to supervise effectively observance of the Accords, 

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or to dampen the mounting tension. Mutual distrust led to incremental 
violations hy both sides^ but on balance^ though neither the United 
States nor South Vietnam was fully cooperative^ and though both acted 
as they felt necessary to protect their interests;, both considered 
themselves constrained by the Accords. There is no evidence that either 
deliberately undertook to breach the peace. In contrast^ the DRV pro- 
ceeded to mobilize its total societal resources scarcely without pause 
from the day the peace was signed^ as though to substantiate the declara- 
tion of its Deputy Premier^ Pham Van Dong^ at the closing session of 
the Geneva Conference: 

"We shall achieve unity. We shall achieve it Just as 
we have won the war. No force in the worlds internal or 
external; can make us deviate from our path . - • 

Diem's rejection of elections meant that reunification could be 
achieved in the foreseeable future only by resort to force. Diem's 
policy^ and U.S. support of it^ led inevitably to a test of strength 
with the DRV to determine whether the GVN's cohesiveness^ with U.S. 
support; could offset North Vietnam's drive to satisfy its lonrequited 
nationalism and expansionism. 

Revolt Against My-Diem (Tab 2) 

By the time President Kennedy carae to office in 19^1; it was 
plain that support for the Saigon government among South Vietnam s 
peasants -- 90^b of the population -- was weak and waning. The Manifesto . 
of the National Liberation Front; published in December 1960^ truinpeted 
the existence of a revolutionary organization which could channel popular 
discontent into a political program. Increasingly Diem's government 
proved inept in dealing either through its public administration with 
the sources of popular discontent; or through its security apparatus 
with the Viet Cong. Diem's govermient and his party were by that tijne 
manifestly out of touch with the people; and into the gap between the 
government and the populace the Viet Cong had successfully driven. 
V/hen and why this gap developed is crucial to an understanding of who 
the Viet Cong were^ and to what extent they represented South as 
opposed to North Vietnamese interests. 

The U.S. Government; in its White Papers on Vietnam of 196I and 
1965-^; has blamed the insurgency on aggression by Hanoi; holding that 
the Viet Cong were always tools of the DRV. Critics of U.S. policy in 
Vietnam usually hold; to the contrary; that the war was started by South 
Vietnaraesej their count erargijments rest on two propositions: (3.) that 
the insurgency began as a rebellion against the oppressive and clutnsy 

^ U.S. Department of St-ate; "A Threat to the Peace: North Vietnam's 
Effort to Conquer South Vietnam" (publication 7308; Far Eastern 
Series 110; Deceraber I961) and "Aggression from the Nox-th: The 
Record of North Vietnam's Campaign to Conquer South Vietnam" 
(Publication 7839; ^^^^ Eastern Series I3O; February 1965)- 

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government of Ngo Dinh Diem; and (2) that only after it became clear^ 
in late 1960_, that the U.S. would commit massive resources to succor 
Diem in his internal -war^ was the DRV impelled to unleash the South 
Vietnamese Viet Minh veterans evacuated to North Vietnam after Geneva. 
French analysts have long been advancing such interpretations; 
American protagonists for them often quote,, for example^ Philippe 
Devillers^ who wrote in I962 that: 

"... in 1959^ responsible elements of the Communist 
Resistance in Indo-China came to the conclusion that they 
had to act; whether Hanoi wanted them to or no. They could no 
longer continue to stand by while their supporters were 
arrested; thrown into prison and tortured^ without attempting 
to do anything about it as an organization^ without giving 
some lead to the people in the struggle in which it was to be 
involved. Hanoi preferred diplomatic notes^ but it was to 
find that its hand had been forced." ^ 

' Devillers related how in March I96O the "Nambo Veterans of the 

j Resistance Association" issued a declaration appealing for "struggle" 

to "liberate themselves from submission to America^ eliminate all 
U.S. bases in South Vietnam^ expel American military advisors. ..." 
and to end "the colonial regime and the fascist dictatorship of the 
Ngo family." ■^■>^- Shortly thereafter^ according to Devillers^ a 
People's Liberation Array appeared in Cochinchina and: 

"From this time forward it carried on incessant guerrilla 
operations against Diem's forces. 

"it was thus by its home policy that the government of 
the South finally destroyed the confidence of the population^ 
which it had won during the early years^ and practically drove them 
into revolt and desperation. The non-Communist (and even the 
ant i- Communist) opposj.tion had long been aware of the turn events 
were taking. But at the beginning of 196O very many elements^ 
both civilian and military; in the Nationalist camp came to a 
clear realization that things were moving from bad to worse; 
and that if nothing were done to put an end to the absolute 
pov^er of Diem; then Communism would end up by gaining power 
with the aid; or at least with the consezat; of the population. 
If they did not want to alJIow the Comraujiists to make capital 
out of the revolt; then they woiild have to oppose Diem 
actively. ..." ^^-x- 

Based on a similar analysis; Arthur Schlesinger; Jr.; held that: 

•^ Philippe DevillerS; "The Struggle for the Unification of Vietnam; " 
China Quarterly ; No. 9; January-March 1962; I5-I6. 

■^■^ "Declaration of Former Resistance Fighters; " excerpts in Kahin and 
Levels ; op. cit .; Appendix 5; 38^-387. 
DevillerS; loc. cit. 


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"Diem's authoritarianism^ which increasingly involved 
manhunts^ political reeducation camps^ and the ' regroupment ' 
of population^ caused spreading discontent and then arm.ed 
resistance on the coiontryside • It is not easy to disentangle 
the events of these murky years; but few scholars believe 
that the growing resistance was at the start organized or 
directed by Hanoi* Indeed^ there is some indication that 
the Communists at first hung back • . . it was not until 
September^ 196O that the Communist Party of North Vietnam 
bestowed its formal blessing and called for the liberation 
of the south from American icaperialism." -^ 

Events in Vietnam in the years 195^ to I96O were indeed murky. 
The Diem government controlled the press tightly^ and discouraged 
realism in reports from its provincial bureaucracy. Even official 
U.S. estiiaates were handicapped by reliance upon GW sources for inputs 
from the grass roots of Vietnamese society^ the rural villages^ since 
the U.S. advisory effort was then largely confined to top levels of 
the GVN and its armed forces. But enough evidence has now accumulated 
to establish that peasant resentment against Diem was extensive and 
well founded. Moreover^ it is clear that dislike of the Diem govern- 
ment was coupled with resentment toward Americans. For many Vietnamese 
peasants^ the War of Resistance against French-Bao Dai rule never 
ended; France vms merely replaced by the U.S.^ and Bao Dai's mantle 
was transferred to Wgo Dinh Diem. The Viet Cong's opprobrious 
catchword " My-Diem " (American-Diem) thus recaptured the nationalist 
mystique of the First Indochina War; and combined the natural xenophobia " 
of the rural Vietnamese with their mo\;inting dislike of Diem. But Viet 
Cong slogans aside_j in the eyes of many Vietnamese of no particular 
political persuasion; the United States was reprehensible as a moderniz- 
ing force in a thoroughly traditional society^ as the provider of arms 
and money for a detested government; and as an alien; disruptive 
influence upon hopes they held for the Geneva Settlement. As far as 
attitudes toward Diem were concerned; the prevalence of his picture 
throughout Vietnam virtually assured his being accepted as the sponsor 
of the frequently corrupt and cruel local officials of the GVN; and the. 
perpetrator of unpopular GVN programs; especially the popu_lation reloca- 
tion schemes; and the "Communist Deni^nciation Campaign." Altogether, 
Diem promised the farmers much; delivered little; and raised not only 
their expectations; but their fears. 

It should be recognized; however; that whatever his people thought 
of hioi; Ngo Dinh Diem really did accomplish miracles; just as his 
American boosters said he did. He took power in 195^ amid political 
chaoS; and within ten months surmounted attempted coups d'etat from 
within his army and rebe2.1ions by disparate irreguJLars. He consolidated 
his regime while providing creditably for an influx of nearly one m.illion 

* The Bitter PleritagO; pp. 3^-35. 

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destitute refugees from North Vietnam; and he did all of this despite 
active French opposition and vacillating American support. Under his 
leadership South Vietnam became well established as a sovereigji state^ 
t)y 1955 recognized de jure by 36 other nations. Moreover^ by mid-1955 
Diem secured the strong backing of the U.S. He conducted a plebiscite 
in late 1955^ in which an overwhelming vote was recorded for him in 
preference to Bao Dai; during I956, he installed a government — 
representative in form^ at least — ^ drafted a new constitution^ and 
extended GVN control to regions that had been under sect or Viet Minh 
rule for a decade; and he pledged to initiate extensive reforms in 
land holding, public health, and education. With American help, he 
established a truly national, modern army, and formed rural secujrity 
forces to police the countryside. In accomplishing all the foregoing, 
he confoLinded those Vietnamese of North and South, and those French, 
who had looked for his imminent downfall. 

While it is true that his reforms entailed oppressive measures — 
e.g., his "political reeducation centers" were in fact little more than 
concentration camps for potential foes of the government — his ^regime 
compared favorably with other Asian governments of the same period in 
its respect for the person and property of citizens. There is much 
that can be offered in mitigation of Diem's authoritarianism. He^began 
as the most singularly disadvantaged head of state of his era. His 
political legacy was endemic violence and virulent anti-colon.xalism. 
He took office at a time when the government of Vietnam controlled only 
a few blocks of downtown Saigon; the rest of the capital was the feudal 
fief of the Binh Xuyen gangster fraternity. Beyond the environs of 
Saigon, South Vietnam lay divided among the Viet Minh enclaves and the 
theocratic dominions of the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao sects. AH these 
powers would have opposed any Saigon government, whatever its composi- 
tion; in fact, their existence accounts for much of the confidence the 
DRV then exhibited tovmrd the outcome of the Geneva Settlement.^ For 
Diem to have erected any central government in South Vietnam without 
reckoning resolutely with their several armed forces and clandestine 
organizations would have been impossible: they were the very stijff of 
South Vietnam's politics. 

Diem's initial political tests reinforced his propensity to 
inflexibility. The lessons of his first 10 months of rule must have 
underscored to Diem the value of swift, tough action against dissent, 
and of demanding absolute personal loyalty of top officials. Also, 
by May 1955j> Ngo Dinh Diem had demonstrated to his satisfaction that 
the U.S. was sufficiently committed to South Vietnam that he coiad afford 
on occasion tc resist American pressure, and even to ignore American 
advice. Diem knew, as surely as did the United States, that he himself 
represented the only alternative to a communist South Vietnam. 

Diem was handicapped in all his attempts to build a nation by his 
political concepts. He saw himself as a moral reformer; he talked affairs 

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of state with the extravagant expectations of a RousseaU; and he acted 
vith the zeal of a Spanish Inquisitor. Despite extensive travel and 
education in the West^ and despite his revolutionary mien^, he remained 
what he had been raised: a mandarin of j&nperial Hue;, steeped in filial 
piety^ devoted to Vietnam's past_j modern only to the extent of an 
intense^ conservative Catholicism. The political apparatus he created 
to extend his power and implanent his progra2ns reflected his background^ 
personality^ and experience: a rigidly organized^, over-centralized 
familial oligarchy. Though his brothers^ Ngo Dinh Miu and Ngo Dinh Can^ 
created extensive personal political organizations of considerable power - 
Nhu's semi-covert Can lao party borrowed heavily from communist doctrine 
and technique — and though a third brother^ Ngo Dinh ThuC;, was the 
ranking Catholic bishop^ in no sense did they or Diem ever acquire a 
broad popular base for his government- Diem's personality and his 
political methods practically assured that he would remain distant^ 
virtually isolated from the peasantry. They also seem to have pre- 
determined that Diem's political history over the long-run would be 
a chronicle of disaffection: Diem alienated one after another of the key 
groups within South Vietnam's society irntil^ by late 19^0^ his regime 
rested on the narrow and disintegrating base of its own bureaucracy 
and the northern refugees. 

Such need not have been the case. At least through 1957^ Diem and 
his government enjoyed marked success with fairly sophisticated pacifica-' 
tion programs in the countryside. In fact^ Diem at first was warmly 
welcomed in some former Viet Minh domains_j and it is probable that a 
more sensitive and adroit leader coizld have captured and held a signifi- 
cant rural following. Even the failure of the Geneva Accords to eventuate 
in general elections in I956 at first had little impact upon GVN pacifica- 
tion. The strident declamations of the DRV notwithstanding^ reunifica- 
pk tion of partitioned Vietnam was not at first a vital political issue for 

South Vietnam's peasants. By and large^ as late as I96I as Devillers 
pointed out: 

"For the people of the South reunification is not an 
essential problem^. Peace^ secujrity^ freedom^ their standard 
of living^ the agrarian question — these are far more 
important questions to them. The stronghold of the sects 

' over certain regions remains one of the factors of the 

situation^j as is also^ in a general fashion_, the distrustful 
attitude of the Southerner towards the Northerner^^ who is sus- 

' pected of a tendency to want to take charge of affairs." ■"^- 

The initial GW pacification effort combined promises of govern- 
mental level reforms with "civic action" in the harolets and villages. 
The latter was carried out by "cadre" clad in black pajaraas^ imple:i'uenting 
the Maoist "three-wit hs" doctrine (eat with^ sleep with^ work with the 
people) to initiate rudimentary improvements in public healthy education^ 


Devillers^ p. 19- 

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and local government^ and to propagandize the promises of the central 
i government. Unfortunately for Diem^ his civic action teams had to be 

drawn from the northern refugees_j and encountered Cochinchinese- 
Tonkinese tensions. More importantly^ however_, they incurred the 
enmity of the several Saigon ministries upon whose field responsibilities 
they impinged. Moreover^ they became preoccupied with Diem's anti- 
communist campaign to the detriment of their social service. By the 
end of 1956^ the civic action component of the GVN pacification program 
had been cut back severely- 

But the salesmen were less at fault than their product. Diem's 
reform package compared unfavorably even in theory with what the Viet 
Minh had done by way of rural reform. Diem undertook to: (l) resettle 
refugees and other land destitute Vietnamese on uncultivated land 
beginning in 1955; (2) expropriate all rice land holdings over 2kj 
acres and redistribute these to tenant farmers .beginning in 195^; and 
(3) regulate landlord- tenant relations beginning in 1957 to fix rents 
within the range 15-25-5^ of crop yield^ and to guarantee tenant land 
tenure for 3-5 years. Despite invidious comparison with Viet Minh 
rent-free land; had these programs been honestly and efficiently 
implemented^ they might have satisfied the land-hunger of the peasants. 
But they suffered^ as one American expert put it from "lack of 
seriouS; interested administrators and top side command." Government 
officials^ beginning with the Minister for Agrarian Reform^ had divided 
loyalties^ being themselves land holders. Moreover^ the programs often 
operated to replace paternalistic landlords with competitive bidding^ 
and thus increased^ rather than decreased^ tenant insecurity. And even 
if all Diem's goals had been honestly fulfilled — which they were not — 
only 20fo of the rice land v/ould have passed from large to small farmers. 
As it turned out; only 10^ of all tenant farmers benefited in any sense. 
By 1959^ the land reform program was virtually inoperative. As of I96O; 
h^^o of the la.nd remained concentrated in the hands of 2fo of landowners^ 
and 15^ of the landlords owned 75?^ of all the land. Those relatively 
few farmers who did benefit from the program were more often than not 
northerners; refugees; CatholicS; or Annamese — so that land reform 
added to the GM's aura of favoritism v^hich deepened peasant alienation 
in Cochinchina. Farmer-GVW tensions were further aggravated by rumors of 
corruption; and the widespread allegation that the Diem family itself 
had become enriched through the manipulation of land transfers. 

Diem's whole rural policy furnishes one example after another of 
political maladroitness. In June 195^; Diem abolished elections for 
village councils; apparently out of concern that large numbers of Viet 
Minh might v^in office. By replacing the viDlage notables with GVN 
appointed officials; Diem svrept away the traditional administrative 
autonomy of the village officials; and took upon himself and his govern- 
ment the onus for whatever, corruption and injustice subsequently 
developed at that level. Again; the GVN appointees to village office 

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were outsiders -- northerners^ Catholics^ or other "dependable" 
persons -- and their alien presence in the midst of the close-knit 
rural coiumunities encouraged revival of the conspiratorial^ underground . 
politics to which the villages had become accustomed during the resistance 
against the French. . ■ 

But conspiracy was almost a natural defense after Diem launched his 
Denunciation of Coramionists Campaign^ which included a scheme for classify- 
ing the populace into lettered political groups according to their con- 
nections with the Viet Minh. This campaign^ which featured public con- 
fessions reminiscent of the "people's courts" of China and North Vietnam^ 
invited neighbors to inform on each other, and raised further the premium 
on clandestine political activity- In I956; the GW disclosed that some 
15-20,000 communists had been detained in its "political .reeducation 
centers," while Devillers put the figure at 50,000. By GW figures in 
i960, nearly 50,000 had been detained. A British expert on Vietnam, 
P. J. Honey, who was invited by Diem to investigate the reeducation 
centers in 1959, concluded that, after interviewing a number of rural 
Vietnamese, "the consensus of the opinion expressed by these peoples 
is that . . . the majority of the detainees are neither communists nor 
pro-comm-onists." Between I956 and I96O, the GVN claimed that over 
100,000 former communist cadres rallied to the GVN, and thousands of 
other communist agents had surrendered or had been captu-red. The 
campaign also allegedly netted over 100,000 weapons and 3^000 arms 
caches. V/hatever it contributed to GVN internal security, however, the 
Communist Denunciation Campaign thoroughly terrified the Vietnamese 
peasants, and detracted significantly from the regime's popularity. 

Diem's nearly paranoid preoccupation with security influenced his 
population relocation schemes. Even the refugee relief programs had been 
executed with an eye to building a "living wall" between the lowland 
centers of population and the jungle and mountain redoubts of dissidents. 
Between April I957 and late I96I, the GVN reported that over 200,000 
persons ~ refugees and landless families from coastal Annara -- were 
resettled in 1^7 centers carved from 220,000 acres of wilderness. These 
"strategic" settlements were expensive: although they affected only 
2/0 of South Vietnam's people, they absorbed 5O/0 of U.S. aid for agri- 
culture. They also precipitated unexpected political reactions from 
the Montagnard peoples of the Highlands. In the long run, by introducing 
ethnic Vietnamese into traditionally Montagnard areas, and then by 
concentrating Montagnards into defensible communities, the GVN provided 
the tribes with a cause and focused their discontent against Dien. The 
GVN thus facilitated rather than hindered the subsequent subversion of 
the tribes by the Viet Cong. But of all Diem's relocation experiments, 
that which occasioned the most widespread and vehement anti-GVN sentiment 
was the "agroville" program begun in mid-1959. At first, the GVN tried 
to establish rural communities which segregated families with known Viet ■ 
Cong or Viet Minh conjaections from other citizens, but the public outcry 
caused this approach to be dropped. A few months later, the GVN announced 

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its intent to build 80 "prosperity and density centers" along a 
"strategic route system." By the end of 19^3^ each of these 80 agrovilles 
was to hold some 400 families^ and each would have a group of satellite 
agrovilles of 120 families each. In theory _, the agroville master plan 
was attractive: there were provisions for community defense^ schools,, 
dispensary^ market center^ public garden^ and even electricity. Despite 
these advantages^ however^ the whole program incurred the wrath of the 
peasants. They resented the corvee labor the GW resorted to for agro- 
ville construction^ and they abhorred abandoning their cherished ancestral 
homes^ tombs^ and developed gardens and fields for a strange and desolate 
community. Passive peasant resistance^ and then insurgent attacks on the 
agrovilles^ caused abandonment of the program in early I96I when it was 
less than 25^ complete. 

Yetj for all Diem's preoccupation with rural security^ he poorly 
provided for police and intelligence in the countryside. Most of the 
American aid the GOT received was used for security^ and the bulk of it 
was lavished on the Army of Vietnam. Security in the villages was 
relegated to the Self-Defense Corps (SDC) and the Civil Guard (CG) -- 
poorly trained and equipped^ miserably led. They could scarcely defend 
themselves^ much less secure the farmers. Indeed^ they proved to be 
an asset to insurgents in two ways: they served as a source of weapons; 
and their brutality^ petty thievery,, and disorderliness induced innujner- 
able villagers to join in open revolt against the GVW. The Army of 
Vietnam^ after 1956^ was withdrawn from the rural regions to undergo 
reorganization and modernization under its American advisors. Its 
interaction with the rural populace through 1959 was relatively slight. 
The SDC and CG^ placed at the disposal of the provincial administrators^ 
were often no more venal nor offensive to the peasants than the local 
officials theraselves^ but the corrupt^ arrogant and overbearing men the 
people knew as the GTO were among the greatest disadvantages Diem faced 
in his rural efforts. 

Nor was Rgo Dinh Diem successful in exercising effective leader- 
ship over the Vietnamese urban population or its intellectuals. Just as 
Diem and his brothers made the mistake of considering all former Viet 
Minh conMunists^ they erred in condemning all non-Diemist nationalists 
as tools of Bao Dai or the French. The Diem family acted to circumscribe 
all political activity and even criticism not sanctioned by the oligarcliy. 
In late 1957^ newspapers critical of the regime began to be harassed^ 
and in March 1958^ after a caustic editorial^ the GW closed down the 
■ largest newspaper in Saigon. Attempts to form opposition political 
parties for participation in the national assembly met vague threats 
H and bureaucratic impediments. In 1958^ opposition politicians risked 

|i arrest for assaying to form parties unauthorized by Nhu or Can^ and by 

1959 £^11 opposition political activity had come to a halt. In the 
spring of 1960^ however^ a group of non-commxanist nationalist leaders 
jj came together — with more courage than prudence -- to issue the 

Caravelle Manifesto^ a recital of grievances against the Diem regime. 

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Eleven of the l8 signers had been cabinet members under Diem or Bao Dai; 
k had been in other high government positions^ and others represented 
religious groups. Their manifesto lauded Diem for the progress that he 
had made in the aftermath of Geneva^ but pointed out that his repressions 
in recent years had "provoked the discouragement and resentment of the 
people." They noted that "the size of the territory has shrunk^ but the 
number of civil servants has increased and still the work doesn't get 
done"; they applauded the fact that "the French Expeditionary Corps has 
left the country and a Republican Array has been constituted^ thanks to 
American aid^ " but deplored the fact that the Diem influence "divides 
the men of one and the same imit_j sows distrust between friends of the 
same rank; and uses as a criterion for promotion fidelity to the party 
in blind submission "to its leaders"; they described^ despairingly^ 
"a rich and fertile country enjoying food surpluses" where "at the present 
time many people are out of work^ have no roof over their heads^ and no 
money." They went on to "beseech the government to urgently modify its 
policies." While the Caravelle Manifesto thoroughly frightened Diem^ 
coming; as it did; three days after Syngman Rhee vras overthrown in Korea^ 
it prompted him only to further measures to quell the loyal opposition. 
By the fall of I96O; the intellectual elite of South Vietnam was 
politically mute; labor unions were impotent; loyal opposition in the 
form of organized parties did not exist. In brief; Diem's policies 
virtually assured that political challenges to him would have to be 
extra-legal. Ultimately; these emerged from the traditional sources of 
r^ power in South Vietnam — the armed forceS; the religious sectS; and .the 

armed peasantry. 

Through I96O; the only serious threats to Diem from inside the GVN 
were attempted military coups d'etat. In his first 10 months in office; 
Diem had identified loyalty in his top army commanders as a sine qua non 
for his survival. Thereafter he took a personal interest in the position- 
ing and promoting of officers; and even in matters of military strategy 
and tactics. Many of Vietnam's soldiers found Diem's attentions a means 
to political power; wealth; and social prominence. Many others^ however; 
resented those who rose by favoritism; and objected to Diem's inter- 
ference in military matters. In November I96O; a serious coup attempt 
was supported by three elite paratroop battalions in Saigon; but other- 
wise failed to attract support. In the wake of the coup; mass arrests 
took place in which the Caravelle Group; among otherS; were jailed. 
In February 1962; two Vietnamese air force planes bombed the presidential 
palace in an ujisuccessful assassination attempt on Diem and the Khus. 
" Again; there was little apparent willingness among military officers 
for concerted action against Diem. But the abortive attempts of 196O 
and 1962 had the effect of drajuatizing the choices open to those military 
officers who recognized the insolvency of Diem's political and military 

Diem's handling of his military impinged in two ways on his rural 
policy. Diera involved himself with the equipping of his military forces^ 

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i showing a distinct proclivity toward heavy military forces of the 

T conventional type. He wanted the Civil Guard equipped very much like 

his regular army — possibly with a view to assuring himself ^ check 
on army power. There were a few soldiers^ like General Duong Van Minh^ 
who sharply disagreed with the President on this point. Nonetheless^ 
Diem persisted. His increasing concern for the loyalty of key officials^ 
moreover_, led him to draw upon the military officer corps for civil 
^ ' administrators. From I956 on his police apparatus was under military 

officers^, and year by year^ more of the provincial governments were 
also placed under military men. By 1958^ about I/3 of the province 
chiefs were military officers; by 1960^ that fraction had increased to 
nearly 2/3; by 1962^ 7/8 of all provinces were headed by soldiers. 

Diem's bete noire was communism^ and he appealed to threats from 
communists to justify his concentration on internal security. In 
August 1956j, GTO Ordinance ^7 defined being a communist^ or working for 
them^ as a capital crme. In May 1959^ by GVN Law 10 /59^ the enforce- 
ment of Ordinance ^7 was charged to special military tribunals from 
whose decisions there was no appeal. But "communist" was a term not 
used by members of the Marxist-Leninist Party headed by Ho Chi Minh^ 
or its southern arras. Beginning in 1956^ the Saigon press began to 
refer to "Viet Cong/' a fairly precise and not necessarily disparaging 
rendition of "Vietnamese Communist." There is little doubt that Diem 
and his government applied the term Viet Cong somewhat loosely within 
South Vietnam to mean all persons or groups who resorted to clandestine 
political activity or armed opposition against his government; and the 
GVN meant by the term North as. well as South Vietnamese communists^ 
who they pres-umed acted in concert. At the close of the Franco- Viet 
Minh War in 195^^ some 60^000 men were serving in organized Viet Minh 
units in South Vietnam. For the regroupments to North Vietnam^ these 
units were augmented with large numbers of young recruits; a reported 
90;000 armed men were taken to North Vietnam in the regroupment^ while 
the U.S. and the GVl^ estimated that from 5-10^000 trained men were left 
behind as "cadre." If French estimates are correct that in 195^ the 
Viet Minh controlled over 60-90^ of rural South Vietnam outside the 
sect domains_5 these 5-10^000 stay-behinds must have represented on3.y a 
fraction of the Viet Minh residue^ to which GVN figures on recanting and 
detained communists in the years through 196O attest. 

From studies of defectors^ prisoners of war^ and captured documents^ 
it is now possible to assess armed resistance against Diem much better 
than the facts available at the time permitted. Three distinct periods 
are discernible- From 195^1- through 1957^ there was a substantial amount 
of random dissidence in the countryside^ which Diem succeeded in quelling 
In early 1957^ Vietnam seemed to be enjoying the first peace it had known 
in over a decade. Beginning,; hovT-ever^ in mid-1957 snd intensifying 
through mid-1959^ incidents of violence attributed to Viet Cong began 
to occur in the countryside. While much of this violence appeared to 
have a political motive^ and while there is some evidence to indicate 

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that it was part of a concerted strategy of guerrilla base development - 
in accordance with sound Mao-Giap doctrine^ the GVN did not construe 
it as a campaign^ considering the disorders too diffuse to warrant 
committing major GOT resources. In early 1959^ however^ Diem perceived 
that he was under serious attack and reacted strongly. Population 
relocation was revivified. The Army of Vietnam was committed against 
the dissidents^ and the Communist Denunciation Campaign was reinvigorated. 
By antuxnn 1959^ however,, the VC were in a position to field units of 
battalion size against regular army formations. By 19^0^ VC could 
operate in sufficient strength to seize provincial capitals for periods 
ranging up to 2h hours^ overrun ARVW posts^ and cut off entire districts 
from communication with the GVN- controlled towns. Diem's counter- 
measures increasingly met with peasant obstructionism and outright 
hostility. A U.S. Embassy estimate of the situation in January I96O 
noted that: 

"While the GVN has made an effort to meet the economic 
and social needs of the rural popiilations . . . these projects 
appear to have enjoyed only a measure of success in creating 
support for the government and^ in fact^ in many instances 
have resulted in resentment . . . the situation may be summed up 
in the fact that the government has tended to treat the popiilation 
with suspicion or to coerce it and has been rewarded with an 
attitude of apathy or resentment." 

In December 1960^ the National Liberation Front of SVN (NLF) was 
formally organized. From its inception it was designed to encompass 
all anti-GVT^ activists^ including communists^ and it formulated and 
articiilated objectives for all those opposed to "jy^y-Diem." The KLF 
placed heavy emphasis on the withdrawal of American advisors and influence^ 
on land reform and liberalization of the GVW^ on coalition governraent 
and the neutra3_ization of Vietnam; but through 1963^ the NLF soft- 
pedalled references to reunification of Vietnam. The WLF leadership 
was a shadov/y crew of relatively obscure South Vietnamese. Despite 
their apparent lack of experience and competence^ however^ the MJF 
rapidly took on organizational reality from its central committee^ 
down through a web of subordinate and associated groups^ to villages 
all over South Vietnam. Within a few months of its founding^ its 
membership doubled^ doubled again by fall 1961^ and then redoubled by 
early I962, At that time an estimated 300^000 were on its rolls. 
Numerous administrative and functional "liberation associations" 
sprang into being; and each ra.ember of the NIF normally belong simul- 
taneously to several such organizations. 

The key operational components of the NLF were^ however^ the 
Liberation Army and the People's Revolutionary Party. The former had 
a lien on the services of every NLF member_, man_j woman^ or child^ 
although functionally its missions were usually carried out by formalJ.y 
organized military units. The People's Revolutionary Party was 

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explicitly the "Marxist-Leninist Party of South Vietnam" and claimed 
to be the "vanguard of the NLF^ the paramount member," It denied 
official links with the communist party of North Vietnam beyond 
"fraternal ties of communism." Although the PRP did not come into 
existence imtil 1962^ it is evident that communists played a paramount 
role in forming the KLP, and in its rapid initial grovrth. The official 
U-S- view has been that the PRP is merely the southern arm of the 
DEV's communist party^ and a principal instrument through which Hanoi 
instigated and controlled the revolt against "My- Diem." The organiza- 
tional genius evident in the KLF^ as well as the testimony of Vietnamese 
communists in interrogations and captured documents supports this 

But significant doubt remains. Viet Minh stay-behinds testified 
in 1955 and I956 that their mission was political agitation for the 
holding of the general elections promised at Geneva. Captured documents 
and prisoner interrogations indicate that in 1957 and 1958, although there 
was some "wildcat" activity by local communists, party efforts appeared . 
to be devoted to the careful construction of an underground apparatus 
which; though it used assassinations and kidnapping, circumspectly 
avoided military operations. All evidence points to fall of 1959 QS 
the period in which the Viet Cong made their transition from a 
clandestine political movement to a more overt military operation. 
Moreover, throughout the years 195^-1960, a "front" seems to have been 
active in Vietnara. For example, the periodic report submitted by 
USMAAG, Vietnam, on I5 July 195T — a time of ostensible internal peace 
— noted that: 

- "The Viet Cong guerrillas and propagandists, however, are 
still waging a grim battle for survival. In addition to an 
accelerated propaganda campaign, the Communists have been 
fonning 'front' organizations to influence portions of anti- 
governjuent m.inorities. Some of these organizations are 
militant, some are political. An example of the former is the 
'Vietnamese Peoples' Liberation Movement Forces, ' a military 
unit composed of ex-Cao Dai, ex-Hoa Hao, ex-Binh Xuyen, escaped 
political prisoners, and Viet Cong cadres. An example of the 
latter is the 'Vietnam- Cambodian Buddhist Association, ' one of 
several organizations seeking to spread the theory of "Peace 
and Co-existence.'" 

Whether early references to the "front" were to the organizations which 
subsequently matured as the NLF cannot be determined. Indeed, to shed 
further light on the truth or falsehood of the proposition that the 
DEV did not intervene in South Vietnam until after the NLF came into 
existence, it is necessary to turn to the events in North Vietnam during 
the years 195^^-1960. 

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Hanoi and the Insurgency in South Vietnam (Tab 3) 

The primary question concerning Hanoi's role in the origins of 
I the insurgency is not so much whether it played a role or not --■ the 

I evidence of direct North Vietnamese participation in subversion against 

' the Government of South Vietnam is now extensive — but when Hanoi intervened 

I. in a systematic way. Most attacks on U.S. policy have been based on the 

J proposition that the DRV move on the South came with manifest reluctance^ 

and after massive U.S. intervention in I961. For example_, George 
McTurnin Kahin and John W. Lewis^ in their book The United States in 
Viet nam J state that: 

"Contrary to United States policy assumptions^ all available 
evidence shows that the revival of the civil war in the South 
in 1958 was undertaken by Southerners at their own — not 
Hanoi's — initiative. . . . Insurgency activity against the 
Saigon government began in the South under Southern leadership 
not as a consequence of any dictate from Hanoi^ but contrary 
to Hanoi's injunctions." -x- 

As discussed above^ so much of this argument as rests on the existence 
in South Vietnam of genuine rebellion is probably valid. The South 
Vietnamese had both the meanS; the Viet Minh residue_j and motive to 
take up arms against Ngo Dinh Diem. Moreover^, there were indications 
^ ^ that some DRV leaders did attempt to hold back southern rebels on the 

grounds that "conditions" were not ripe for an uprising. Further^, there 
was apparently division within the Lao Dong Party hierarchy over the 
question of strategy and tactics in South Vietnam. However^ the evidence 
indicates that the principal strategic debate over this issue took place 
between I956 and 1958; all information now available (spring,, 19^) 
points to a decision taken by the DRV leaders not later than springy 
1959^ actively to seek the overthrow of Diem. Thereafter^ the DRV 
pressed toward that goal by military force and by subversive aggression^ 
both in laos and in South Vietnam. 

But few Administration critics have had. access to the classified 
information upon which the foregoing judgments are based. Such intel- 
ligence as the U.S. has been able to make available to the public bearing 
on the period 195^f-"1960 has been sketchy and not very convincing: a few 
captured documents^ and a few prisoner interrogations. Indeed^ up until 
1961 the Administration itself publicly held that Ngo Dinh Diem was 
firmly in control in South Vietnam^ and that the United States aid programs 
were succeeding in meeting such threat to GVT^ security as existed both 
within South Vietnam and from the North. Too^ the vigorous publicizing 
of "wars of national liberation" by N. S. Khrushchev and the "discovery" 
of counterinsurgency by the Kennedy Administration in early I96I tended 
to reinforce the overall public impression that North Vietnam's aggression 
was news in that year. Khrushchev's speech of 6 January 1961^ made^ 
according to Kennedy biographer Arthur Schlesinger_, Jr.^ "a conspicuous 

* The United States in Vietnam^ pp. 119-120. 

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impression on the new President^ who took it as an authoritative 
exposition of Soviet intentions^ discussed it with his staff and read 
excerpts from it aloud to the National Security Council." Thereafter^, 
Administration leaders^ by their frequently identifying that Khrushchev 
declamation as a milestone in the development of communist world 
strategy^ lent credence to the supposition that the Soviet Union had 
approved aggression by its satellite in North Vietnam only in December 
i960 ~ the month the NLF was formed. 

American Kremlinologists had been preoccupied^j since Khrushchev's 
"de-Stalinzation" speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party 
of the Soviet Union in February 1956^ with the possibilities of a 
genuine detente with the USSR. They were also bemused by the prospect 
of a deep strategic division with the "Communist Bloc" between the 
Soviets and the Chinese. Yet_, despite evidences of disunity in the Bloc 
~ in Yugoslavia^ Albania^ Hungary^ Poland^ and East Germany -- virtually 
all experts regarded North Vietnamese national strategy^ to the extent 
that they considered it at all^ as a simple derivative of that of either 
the USSR or the CPR. P. J. Honey^ the British authority on North 
Vietnam^ tends to the view that Hanoi remained subservient to the 
dictates of Moscow from I956 through 196l^ albeit carefully paying lip 
service to continue solidarity with Peking. More recently^ a differing 
interpretation has been offered^ which holds that the Hanoi leaders were 
in those years motivated primarily by their concern for internal develop- 
ment^ and that they^ therefore^ turned to the Soviet Union as the only 
nation willing and able to furnish the wherewithal for rapid economic 
advancement. Both interpretations assume that thrci;igh I96O the DRV 
followed the Soviet line^ accepted "peaceful coexistence^ " concentrated 
on internal development^ and took action in South Vietnam only after 
Moscow gave the go-ahead in late i960. 

But it is also possible that the colloquy over strategy among the 
commmiist nations in the late 1950's followed a pattern aJjnost exactly 
the reverse of that usually depicted: that North Vietnam persuaded the 
Soviets and the Chinese to accept its strategic view^ and to support 
simultaneous drives for economic advancement and forceful reunification. 
Ho Chi Minh was an old Stalinist ^ trained in Russia in the early '20 's^ 
Comintern colleague of Borodin in Canton^ and for three decades leading 
exponent of the Marxist-Leninist canon on anti-colonial war. Presimiably^ 
Ho spoke with authority within the upper echelons of the communist party 
of the Soviet Union. V/hat he said to them privately was_, no doubt,, quite 
similar to what he proclaimed publicly from 195^ onward: the circum- 
stances of North Vietnam were not comparable to those of the Soviet 
Union^ or even those of the CPR; and North Vietnam's policy had to reflect 
the differences. 

Khrushchev's de-Stalinization bombshell burst in February 195^ at a 
drainatically bad time for the DRV. It overrode the Chinese call for 
reconvening of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam^ and it interfered with 
the concerting of communist policy on what to do about Ngo Dinh Diem's 
refusal to proceed toward the general elections scheduled for July I956. 

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Although the Soviets issued in March I956 a demand for GVN observance 
of the Accords_, its diplomacy not only failed to "bring about axiy action 
on behalf of the DRV^ but elicited^ in April 1956, a sharp British note 
condeinning Hanoi for grave violations of the Accords. Hanoi received ' 
the British note about the time that Khrushchev proclaimed that the Soviet 
was committed to a policy of "peaceful coexistence." At the Ninth 
Plenujn of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party^ held in Hanoi 
that months Ho Chi Minh lauded "de-Stalinization/' but unequivocally 
rejected "peaceful coexistence" as irrelevant to the DRV. In November 
1957^ after more than a year of upheavals and evident internal political 
distress in Worth Vietnam^ Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan journeyed to Moscow 
for the Coirference of Communist and Workers' Parties of Socialist 
Coimtries. That conference issued a declaration admitting the possibility 
of "non-peacefiol transition to socialism" remarkably similar in thrust 
to Ho's 1956 speech. Further^ Khrushchev's famous January I96I speech 
was simply a precis of the Declaration of the November I96O Conference 
of Communist and Workers' Parties of Socialist Countries. That I96O 
Declaration^ which formed the basis for Khrushchev's pronouncements on 
wars of national liberation in tixrn explicitly reaffirmed the I957 
Declaration. The parallelism of the texts is remarkable: 

HO cm MIMI: 

APRIL 2U, 1956 

"...We have gi-asped tha great significance 
of the Tv.'er.tieth Congress of the Coanunist 
Party of the Soviet Union. This Congress has: 

Aiialyzod the new situation prevailing in 
the world, and pointed out the new conditions 
favorable to the preservation of peace and 
the advance twoard socialism by the Revolution- 
ary Parties of the working class and the 
Inhering people; 

Clearly shown the Soviet Union's victori- 
ous roadj giving us still greater enthusiasm 
and making us believe still more strongly in 
the invincible forces of the Soviet Union, 
the bastion of revolution and of world peace; 

Pointed out the tasks of the Ccmmunist 
Party in the ideological and organizational 
fields. The Congress particularly emphasized 
the application of Marxist -Leninist principles 
to collective leadership and opposed the cult 
of the individual. 

While recognizing that war may be averted, 
we must be vigilant to detect the warmongers ' 
schemes; for as long as iriperia-lism exists, 
the danger of war still exists. 

While recognizing that in certain countries 
the road to :;ocialisn may be- a peaceful one, 
we should be aware of this fact: In countries 
where the machinery of state, the armed 
forces, and the police of the bourgeois 
class are still strong, the proletarian class 
still has to prepare for enned struggle. 

Wliile recognizing the possibility of 
reunifying Viet-J.'sm by peaceful means, we 
should always remember that our people's 
principal enemies ere the teierican imperial- 
ists and their agents who still occupy half 
our country and ere preparing for war; there- 
fore, we should firmly hold aloft the bemier 
of peace and enhance our vigilance..." 



MOSCOW, 1957 

"The coniiiii.inist and workers parties are 
faced with great historic tasks... In present 
day conditions in a number of capitalist 
countries, the working class has the possi- 
bility. . .to unite the majority of the people, 
when state power without civil war can ensure 
the transfer of basic means of production to 
the hands of the people... 

In conditions in which the exploiting 
classes resort to violence against the people, 
it is necessary to bear in mind another possi- 
bility—nonpeaceful -cransition to socialism- 
Leninism teaches and history confirms tViat 
the ruling classes never relinquish power 
voluntarily. In these conditions the severity 
and foiTJis of class struggle will depend not 
so much on the proletariat ss on the resist- 
ance of the reactionary circles to the will 
of the cverwhelming majority of the people, 
on the use of force by these circles at one 
or another stage of the struggle for socialism. 


MoriajW, i960 

"...The Communist Parties reuffinn the 
propositions of th<:; 1957 Declaration cot, corn- 
ing the question of the foixis of trunjitlon 
of various coujitries from capitulisra to 

The Declaration states that the working 
class and its vanguard-the Marxist-Leninist 
party-Eiitk to achieve socialist revolution 
by peaceful" means. Realization cf tl;is 
possibility would accord with the interests 
of the working class and all tlie people and 
with the national interests of the country... 

...In conditions when the exploiting 
classes resort to the use of force against 
the people, it is necessary to boar in mind 
another posslbility-that of nonpeaceful 
transition to socialism. Leninism tea^jhes 
and historical experience confinat-, that the 
ruling classes do not relinquish power 
voluntarily. In thtst; ccjiditions the degree 
of bitterness and the forms of the class 
struggle will depend not so much on the 
proletariat as on the extent of the resistei.c«.' 
of the reactionary circles to the will of the 
over-'helraing majority of the people, on the 
use of force by these circl'--s at one or 
another stage of the struggile for socialism. 

In each coujitiy the actual possibility 
of one or another means of transition to 
socialism is determined by the specific 
historical conditions..." 

I I 


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Other evidence supports the foregoing hypothesis. The DRV was^ 
in 1960^ an orthodoxically constituted communist state. Both the 
government and the society were dominated by the Lao Dong (Conmunist) 
Party; and power within the party concentrated in a small elite -- 
Ho Chi Minh and his lieutenants from the old-time Indochinese Communist 
Party. This group of leaders were unique in the communist world for 
their homogeneity and for their harmony -- there has been little evidence 
of the kind of turbulence which has splintered the leadership of most 
communist parties. While experts have detected disputes within the Lao 
Dong hierarchy -- 1957 appears to be a critical year in that regard — 
the facts are that there has been no blood-purge of the Lao Dong 
leadership^ and except for changes occasioned by apparently natural 
deaths^ the leadership in I96O was virtually identical to what it had 
been in 195^- or 19^6. This remarkably dedicated and purposeful group 
of men apparently agreed among themselves as to what the national 
interests of the DRV required,, what goals shoiold be set for the nation^ 
and what strategy they should pursue in attaining them. 

These leaders have been explicit in setting forth DRV national goals 
in their public statements and official doci^ients. For example^ Ho Chi 
Minh and his colleagues placed a premium on "land reform" -- by which 
they meant a communization of rural society along Maoist lines. Moreover^ 
they clearly considered a disciplined society essential for victory in 
war and success in peace. It was also evident that they were committed 
to bring about an independent^ reunified Vietnam capable of exerting 
significant influence throughout Southeast Asia^ and particularly 
over the neighboring states of .teos and Cambodia. What is not known 
with certainty is how they determined the relative priority among these 

In the immediate aftermath of Geneva^ the DRV deferred to the 
Geneva Accords for the achievement of reunif ication^ and turned inward^ 
concentrating its energies on land reform and rehabilitation of the war- 
torn economy. By the summer of 1956^ this strategy was bankrupt: the 
Geneva Settlement manifestly would not eventuate in reunification^ and . 
the land reform campaign foundered from such serious abuses by Lao Dong 
cadre that popular disaffection imperiled DRV Internal security- In 
August 1956; the lao Dong leadership was compelled to "rectify" its 
programs^ to postpone land reform^ and to purge low echelon cadre to 
mollify popular resentment. Even these measures^ however_, proved 
insufficient to forestall Insurrection; in November 195^^ the peasant 
rebellions broke out^ followed by urban unrest. Nonetheless^, the DRV 
leadership survived these internal crises intact^ and by 1958 appears' 
to have solved most of the problems of economic efficiency and political 
organization which occasioned the 1956-1957 outbursts. 

But domestic difficulty was not the only crisis to confront the lao 
Dong leaders in early 1957- In January^ when the Soviet Union proposed 

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to the United Nations the admitting of North and South Vietnam as 
separate states^ it signalled that the USSR might be prepared in the 
interests of "peaoefiol coexistence^ " to make a great power deal which 
would have lent permanency to the partition of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh^ 
in evident surprise^ violently dissented, mien in February 1957 
Khrushchev went further in affirming his intention to "coexist" with the 
United States^ the DRV quickly moved to realign its own and Soviet 
policies. In May 1957^ the Soviet head of state^ Voroshilov, visited 
Hanoi^ and in JuJ.y and August 1957^ Ho Chi Minh traveled extensively 
in Eastern Europe^ spending several days in Moscow. The Voroshilov 
visit was given top billing by the Hanoi Press and Ho^ upon his return 
from Moscow^ indicated that important decisions had been reached. 
Thereafter^ Hanoi and Moscow marched more in step. 

In the meantime^ the needs and desires of communist rebels in 
South Vietnam had been communicated directly to Hanoi in the person of 
Le Duan^ who is known to have been in South Vietnam in 1955 a^^ 195^^ 
and to have returned to Hanoi sometirae before the fall of 1957 • In 
September of that year^ upon Ho's return from Europe^ Le Duan surfaced 
as one of the members of the Lao Dong Politburo; it is possible that he 
was already at that time de facto the First Secretary of the Lao Dong 
Party; to which position he was formally promoted in September I96O. 
in 1955 and 1956^ Le Duan^ from the testimony of prisoners and captured 
documents,; had been expressing conviction that Diem would stamp out the 
communist movement in South Vietnam unless the DRV were to reinforce 
the party there. Presumably^ he carried these views into the inner 
councils of the DRV. In November 1957^ Le Duan and Ho traveled to 
Moscow to attend the Conference of Communist and Workers' Parties of 
Socialist Countries. The Declaration of that conference^ quoted 
above^, has since been cited repeatedly by both North and South Viet- 
namese communists^ as one of the strategic turning points in their 
modern history. Le Duan^ upon his return to Hanoi from Moscow^ issued 
a statement to the effect that the DRV*s v.^ay was now clear. Taking 
Le Duan literally^ it could be construed that the DRV deemed the Moscow 
Declaration of I957 the "go ahead" signal from Moscow and Peking for 
forcefial pursuit of its objectives. 

There is some sparse evidence that the DRV actually did begin moving 
in 1958 to set up a mechanism for supporting the insurgency in South 
Vietnam. But even had the decision been taken^ as suggested above_j 3-n 
late 1957^ it is unlikely that there would have been much manifestation 
of it in 1958. The Lao Dong leadership had for years stressed the lessons 
that they had learned from experience on the essentiality of carefully 
preparing a party infrastructure and building guerrilla bases before 
proceeding with an insurgency. Viet Minh doctrine would have dictated 
priority concern to refurbishing the communist party apparatus in 
South Vietnam^ and it is possible that such a process was set in 
motion during I958. Orders were captured from Hanoi which directed 
guerrilla bases be prepared in South Vietnam in early 1959* 

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There is^ however^ other evidence that questioning among the DRV 
hierarchy concerning strategy and tactics for South Vietnam continued 
throughout I958 and into 1959- Captured reports from party headquarters 
in South Vietnam betrayed doubt and indecisions among party leaders 
there and reflected the absence of clear guidance from Hanoi, Moreover^ 
in 1958^ and in 1959^ the DRV did concentrate much of its resources on 
agricultural and industrial improvement; extensive loans were obtained 
from the Soviet Union and from the Chinese Peoples Republic_, and 
ambitious uplift programs were launched in both sectors- It is possible,, 
therefore,, to accept the view that through I958 the DRV still accorded 
priority to butter over guns^ as part of its base development strategy. 

In the larger sense^ domestic progress,, "consolidation of the Norths" 
was fundamental to that strategy. As General Vo Nguyen Giap put it in 
the Lao Dong Party journal Hoc Tap of January I96O: 

"The Worth has become a large rear echelon of our army • • . 
The Worth is the revolutionary base for the whole country." 

Up until 1959^ the economy of North Vietnam was scarcely providiig subsistence 
for its people; let alone support for foreign military undertakings; by 
that year^ substantial progress in both agriculture and industry was 
evident ; 

North Vietnam 

Food Grain per Capita 


1956 1957 1958 





310 283 315 
119 109 121 



Due mainly^ hovi^ever^ to industrial growth^ the Gross National Product 
reached a growth rate of Gjo per annum in 1958^ and sustained that rate 
thereafter. Both 1958 and 1959 ^ere extraordinarily good years in both 
industry and agricuJ.ture. A long-range development plan launched in I958 
achieved an annual industrial expansion of 21^ per year through I96O; 
chiefly in heavy industry. Foreign aid — both Chinese and Soviet -- 
was readily obtained^ the USSR supplanting the CPR as prime donor. 
Foreign trade stepped up markedly. Compared with 1955^ the DRV's foreign 
commerce doubled by 1959^ Q^*^ nearly tripled by I96O. 

. I By 1959^ i't seems likely that the DRV had elected to pursue a 

"guns and butter" strategy^ and obtained requisite Soviet and Chinese 
aid. While pressing forward with its economic improvement programs — 
which were showing definite progress — the DRV prepared with word and 
deed for large-scale intervention in South Vietnam. In May 1959^ st the 
Fifteenth Plenujn of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party,, a 

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Resolution was adopted identifying the United States as the main 
obstacle to the realization of the hopes of the Vietnamese people^ and 
as an enemy of peace. The Resolution of the Fifteenth Plenum called 
for a strong North Vietnam as a base for helping the South Vietnamese to 
overthrow Diem and eject the United States. A Communist Party history 
captured in South Vietnam in 1966^ and the testimony of high-ranking 
captives^ indicate that South Vietnamese commimists still regard the 
resolution of the Fifteenth Plenum as the point of departure for DRV 

Within a month of the Fifteenth Plenum^ the DRV began to commit its 
armed forces in Laos^ and steadily escalated its aid to the Pathet Lao. 
By the tline the National Liberation Front issued its manifesto in 
December 1960^ the conflict in Laos had matured to the point that Pathet 
Lao-WVA troops controlled most of NE Laos and the Laotian panhandle; 
moreover^ by that tinie^ the Soviet Union had entered the fray^ and was 
participating in airlift operations from North Vietnam direct to 
Pathet Lao-NVA units in Laos. Also, by the fall of 1959^ "t^e insurgency 
in South Vietnam took a definite upsurge. Viet Cong units for the first 
time offered a direct challenge to the Army of Vietnara. Large VC 
formations seized and held district and province capitals for short 
periods of time, and assassinations and kidnappings proliferated markedly 
The Preamble of the Constitution of the DRV, promulgated on 1 January 
i960, was distinctly bellicose, condemning the United States, and 
establishing the reunification of Vietnam as a DRV national objective. 
During I959 and I96O, the relatively undeveloped intelligence apparatus 
of the U.S. and the GVN confirmed that over i|,000 infiltrators were 
sent from North Vietnam southward -- most of them military or political 
cadre, trained to raise and lead insurgent forces- 

In September I96O, the Lao Dong Party convened its Third National 
Congress. There Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan, Giap, and others presented 
speeches further committing the DRV to support of the insurgency in the 
South, demanding the U.S. stop its aid to Diem, and calling for the 
formation of a unified front to lead the struggle against "My-Diem." 
The Resolution of the Third Congress, reflecting these statements, is 
another of those historic benchraarks referred to in captured party 
documents and prisoner interrogations. 

In November I96O, the Moscow Conference of Communist and Workers' 
Parties of Socialist Countries once again declared its support of the 
sort of "just" war the DRV intended to prosecute. The United States 
was identified as the principal colonial power, and the right and 
obligation of communist parties to lead struggles against colonial 
powers was detailed. By the time Khrushchev cited that Declaration in 
his "wars of national liberation" speech, the "liberation war" for South 
Vietnara was nearly a year and a half old. 

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The evidence supports the conclusion^ therefore^ that whether 
or not the rebellion against Diem in South Vietnam proceeded independently 
of^ or even contrary to directions from Hanoi through 1958; Hanoi moved 
thereafter to capture the revolution. There is little doubt that Hanoi 
exerted some influence over certain insurgents in the South throughout 
the years following Geneva^ and there is evidence which points to its 
preparing for active support of large-scale insurgency as early as 1958. 
Whatever differences in strategy may have existed among Moscow^ Peking^ 
and Hanoi^ it appears that at each critical juncture Hanoi obtained 
concurrence in Moscow with an aggressive course of action. Accordingly^ 
it was not "peaceful coexistence/* or concern over leadership of the 
"socialist ceo-ap" which governed Hanoi's policy. What appeared to matter 
to Hanoi was its abiding national interests: domestic consolidation in 
independence, reunification, and Vietnamese hegemony in Southeast Asia. 
Both Soviet and Chinese policy seems to have bent to these ends rather 
than the contrary. If Hanoi applied brakes to eager insurgents in South 
Vietnam, it did so not from lack of purpose or because of Soviet 
restraints, but from concern over launching one more premature uprising 
in the South. Ngo Dinh Diem was entirely correct when he stated that 
his was a nation at war in early 1959; South Vietnam was at war with 
both the Viet Cong insurgents and with the DRV, in that the latter then 
iHidertook to provide strategic direction and leadership cadres to build 
systematically a base system in Laos and South Vietnam for subsequent, 
large-scale guerrilla warfare. Persuasive evidence exists that by I96O 
DRV support of the insurgency in South Vietnam included materiel as 
well as personnel. In any event, by late 1959^ it seems clear that 
Hanoi considered the time ripe to take the military offensive in South 
Vietnam, and that by I96O circumstances were propitious for more overt 
political action, A recently captured high-ranking member of the 
National Liberation Front has conf irraed that in mid-1960 he and other 
Lao Dong Party leaders in South Vietnam were instructed by Hanoi to begin 
organizing the National Liberation Front, which was formally founded 
upon the issuance of its Manifesto on 20 December I96O. ^ The rapid 
growth of the NLF thereafter — it quadrupled its strength in about one 
year ~ is a further indication that the Hanoi-directed comm-unist party 
apparatus had been engaged to the fullest in the initial organization 
and subsequent development of the NLF. 

U.S. Perceptions of the Insurgency, 195^-1960 (Tab k) 

Much of what the U.S. knows now about the origins of the insurgency 
in South Vietnam rests on infoniiation it has acquired since 19^3^ 
approximately the span of time that an extensive and effective American* 
intelligence apparatus had been functioning in Vietnam. Before then, 
our intelligence was drawn from a significantly more narrow and less 
reliable range of sources, chiefly Vietnaraese, and could not have 

* The Washington Post, April I3, I968, a8. 

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supported analysis in depth of insurgent organization and intentions. 
The U.S. was particularly deprived of dependable information concerning 
events in South Vietnam's countryside in the years 195^ through 1959- 
Nonetheless^ U.S. intelligence estimates through I96O correctly and 
consistently estinated that the threat to GYN internal security was 
greater than the danger from overt invasion. The intelligence estimates 
provided to policy makers in Washington pegged the Viet Cong military 
offensive as beginning in late 1959^ with preparations noted as early 
as 1957^ and a definite campaign perceived as of early 1959- Throughout 
the yearsj they were critical of Diem^ consistently expressing skepticism 
that he could deal successfully with his internal political problems. 
These same estimates miscalculated the numerical and political strength 
of the Viet Cong_, misjudged the extent of rural disaffection^ and over- 
rated the military capabilities of the GVN. But as strategic intelligence 
they were remarkably sound. 

Indeed, given the generally bleak appraisals of Diem's prospects, 
they who made U.S. policy could only have done so by assuming a signifi- 
cant measure of risk. For example, on 3 August 195^^ ^^ ^^ took the 
position that: 

"Although it is possible that the French and Vietnamese, 
even with firm support from the U.S. and other powers, may 
be able to establish a strong regime in South Vietnam, we 
believe that the chances for this development are poor and, 
moreover, that the situation is more likely to continue to 
deteriorate progressively over the next year ..." 

This estimate notwithstanding, the U.S. moved promptly to convene the 
Manila Conference, bring SEATO into being with its protocol aegis over 
Vietnam, and eliminate France as the recipient of U.S. aid for Vietnam.. 
Again on 26 April 1955^ an NIE charged that: 

"Even if the present empasse _/with the sects/ were 
resolved, we believe that it would be extremely difficult, 
at best, for a Vietnamese government, regardless of its com- 
position, to make progress towards developing a strong, 
stable, anti-Communist government capable of resolving 
the basic social, economic, and political problems of 
Vietnam, the special problems arising from the Geneva 
Agreement and capable of meeting the long-range challenge 
of the CommuJiists ..." 

Within a matter of weeks, however, the U.S. firmly and finally com- 
mitted itself to unstinting support of Ngo Dinh Diem, accepted his 
refusal to comply with the political settlement of Geneva, and acceded 
to withdrawal of French military power and political influence from 
South Vietnam. Even at the zenith of Diem's success, an NIE of July I956 

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noted adverse political trends stemming from Diem's "authoritarian 
role" and predicted that_j while no short-term opposition was in 

"Ove3: a longer period^ the accumulation of grievances among 
various groups and individuals may lead to development of a 
national opposition movement . , 


There was no NIE published between I956 and 1959 on South Vietnam: 
an NIE of May 1959 took the position that Diem had a serious military 
problem on his hands: 

"The /gYnJ internal security forces will not be able to 
eradicate DRV supported guerrilla or subversive activity in 
the foreseeable future. Army units will probably have to be 
diverted to special internal secujrity assignments ..." 

The same NIE noted a waning of popular enthusiasm for Diem^j the existence 
of some disillusionment^ "particiilarly among the educated elite/^ some 
"dissatisfaction among military officers/* but detected little "identifi- 
able public unrest": 

"The growth of dissatisfaction is inhibited by South 
Vietnam's continuing high standard of living relative to that 
of its neighbors^ the paternalistic attitude of Diem's 
government towards the people,, and the lack of any feasible 
alternative to the present regime." 

The 1959 NIE again expressed serious reservations about Diem's 
leadership and flatly stated that: 

"The prospects for continued political stability in 
South Vietnam hang heavily upon President Diem and his 
ability to maintain firm control of the army and police. 
The regime's efforts to assure internal security and its 
belief that an authoritarian government is necessary to 
handle the country's problems will result in a continued 
repression of potential opposition elements. This policy 
of repression will inhibit the grovrth of popularity of the 
regime and v/e believe that dissatisfaction will grow_, 
particiilarly among those who are politically conscious ... ." 

Despite these reservations^ U.S. policy remained staunchly and fairly 
uncritically "behind Diem through 1959- 

The National Intelligence Estimates reservations re Diem do not 
appear to have restrained the National Security Council in its two 
major reviews of U.S. policy between 195^ and 1960, In 1956^ the NSC 
(in policy directive NSC 5^12) directed that U.S. agencies would: 

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"Assist Free Vietnam to develop a strong^ stable^ 
and constitutional government to enable Free Vietnam to 
assert an increasingly attractive contrast to conditions in 
the present Communist zone . . . /and/ work toward the 
weakening of the Communists in North and South Vietnam 
in order to bring about the eventual peaceful reunifica- 
tion of a free and independent Vietnam iHider anti- 
Communist leadership . " 

In 1958 (in NSC 5809) this policy, with its "roll-back" overtones, was 
reiterated, although revisions were proposed indicating an awareness of the 
necessity to adapt the army of Vietnam for anti-guerrilla warfare. 
Operatiojis Coordinating Board Progress Reports on the implementation 
of the policies laid out in NSC 5612 and 5809 revealed awareness that 
Vietnam was under internal attack, and that "in spite of substantial 
U.S. assistance, economic development, though progressing, is below 
that which is politically desirable." 

While classified policy papers through 1959 thus dealt with risks, 
public statements of U.S. officials did not refer to the jeopardy. To 
the contrary, the picture presented the public and Congress by Ambassador 
Durbrow, General Williams, and other Administration spokesmen was of 
continuing progress, virtually miracul.ous improvement, year- in and 
year-out. Diem was depicted as a strong and capable leader, firmly 
in command of his own house, leading his people into modern nationhood 
at a remarkable pace. As late as the summer of 1959^ Ambassador Durbrow 
and General Williams assured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
that Vietnam's internal security was in no serious danger, and that 
Vietnam was in a better position to cope with invasion from the North 
than it had ever been. In the fall of 1959^ in fact. General Williams 
expressed the opinion that by I96I GVN defense budgets could be reduced, 
and in the spring of I96O, he wrote to Senator Mansfield that American 
military advisors could begin a phased withdrawal from MAAG, Vietnam' 
the following year. 

Whatever adverse judgment may be deserved by such statements or by 
the quality of U.S. assistance to Vietnam on behalf of its internal 
security, the American aid program cannot be faulted for failing to 
provide Diem funds in plenty. The U.S. aid program -- economic and 
military — for South Vietnam was among the largest in the world. 
From FY 19^6 through FY" I96I, Vietnam was the third ranking non-NATO 
recipient of aid, and the seventh worldwide. In FY I96I, the last 
program of president Eisenhower's Administration, South Vietnam was 
the fifth ranking recipient overall. MAAG, Vietnam, was the only 
military aid mission anyv/here in the world commanded by a lieutenant 
general, and the economic aid mission there was by I958 the largest 
anywhere . 

Security was the focus of U.S. aid; although military grants 
comprised only 25^ of the total program in the years 1955 through I96I, 

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more than 75^ of the economic aid the U.S. provided in the same period 
went into the GVN military budget; thus at least $8 out of every $10 
of aid provided Vietnam went directly toward security. In addition^ 
other amounts of nominally economic aid (e.g.^ that for public -administra- . 
tion) went toward secu-rity forces^ and aid for agriculture and trans- 
portation principally fimded projects with strategic purposes and with an 
explicit military rationale. For example ^ a 20-mile stretch of highway 
from Saigon to Bien Hoa^ built at General Williams' instance for 
specifically military piirposes^ received more U.S. economic aid than 
all funds provided for labor^ community development^ social welfare, 
healthy and education in the years 195^-1961. 

In March I96O; Washington became aware that despite this impressive 
outpouring of treasure^ material, and advice, the Viet Cong were making 
significant headway against Diem, and that U.S. aid programs ought to be 
reconfigured. In March, the JCS initiated action to devise a Counter- 
insurgency Plan (CIP), intended to coordinate the several U.S. agencies 
providing assistance to the GVTT, and rationalize the GVN's own rural 
programs. The CIP was worked out among the several U.S. agencies in 
Washington and Saigon during the summer and fall of I96O. 

The heightened awareness of problems in Vietnam did not, however, 
precipitate changes in NSC policy statements on Vietnam. Objectives 
set forth in NSC 6012 (25 July I960) were virtually identical to those 
of NSC 5809. 

Planning proceeded against a background of developing divergence 
of view between the Departments, of State and Defense. As Ambassador 
Durbrow and his colleagues of State saw the problem on the one hand, 
Diem's security problems stemmed from his political insolvency. They 
argued that the main line of U.S. action should take the form of pressures 
on Diem to reform his government and his party, liberalizing his handling 
of political dissenters and the rural populace. Department of Defense 
officials, on the other hand, usually deprecated the significance of 
non-communist political dissent in South Vietnam, and regarded Diem's 
difficulties as proceeding from military inadequacy. In this view, 
what was needed was a more efficient internal defense, and; therefore, 
the Pentagon tended to oppose U.S. leverage on Diem because it might 
jeopardize his confidence in the U.S., and his cooperation in Improving his 
military posture. Communist machination, as Defense saw it, had created 
the crisis; the U.S. response shoiild be "unswerving support" for Diem. 

While the CIP was being developed. Department of Defense moved to 
adapt the U.S. military assistance program to the exigencies of the 
situation. On 30 March i960 the JCS took the position that the Army 
of Vietnam should develop an ant i -guerrilla capability within the regular 
force structure, thus reversing an antithetical position taken by General 

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Williams. During 1959 Diem had attempted to form a number of special 
"commando" units from his regular forces ^ and the MMG had opposed him 
on the grounds that these would deplete his conventional strength. In 
May, MMG was authorized to place advisers dovm to battalion level. In 
June, i960, additional U.S. Army special forces arrived in Vietnam, and 
during the sujmner a nimber of Ranger battalions, with the express mission 
of counter-guerrilla operations, were activated. In September, General 
Williams was replaced by General McGarr who, consistent with the directives 
of the JCS, promptly began to press the tra5-ning of RVMF to produce the 
"anti-guerrilla guerrilla." General McGarr 's desire for an RVMF capable 
of meeting and defeating the Viet Cong at their own game was evident in 
the CIP when it was forwarded to Washington, in January, I96I5 just before 
John F. Kennedy took office. 

The CIP had been well coordinated within the U.S. mission in Vietnaja, 
but only partially v/ith the Vietnamese. The plan, as forwarded, incor- 
porated one major point of difference between the Embassy and MMG. General 
McGarr desired to increase the RVMF force level by some 20,000 troops, 
while Ambassador Durbrow maintained reservations concerning the necessity 
or the wisdom of additional forces. The Ambassador's position rested on- 
the premise that Diem wanted the force level increase, and that the United 
States shou3.d not provide funds for that purpose ujitil Diem was patently 
prepared to take those unpalatable political measures the Ambassador had 
proposed aimed at liberalizing the GVN.. The Ambassador held out little 
hope that either the political or even m.ilitary portions of the CIP could 
be successfully accomplished without some such leverage: "Consideration 
should, therefore, be given to what actions we are prepared to take to 
encoujrage, or if necessary to force, acceptance of all essential elements 
of the plan." In the staff reviews of the CIP in Washington, the divergence 
between State and Defense noted above came once more to the fore. Those 
(chiefly within DOD) who considered the VC threat as most important, and 
who therefore regarded military measures against this threat as most urgent, 
advocated approval and any other measures which would induce Diem's accep- 
tance of the CIP, and his cooperation with MMG. They were impatient with 
Ambassador Durbrow' s proposed "pressure tactics" since they saw in them 
the possibility of GVN dela.y on vital military matters, and the prospect 
of little profit other than minor concessions from Diem in political 8,reas 
they deemed peripheral or trivial in countering the VC. Tipping the scales 
toward what might be called the Diem/MMG/DOD priorities was the coincident 
and increasing need to "reassure" Diem of U,S. support for the GVN and for 
him personally. The fall of President Syngman Rhee of Korea in April, 
the abortive November I96O coup d'eta.t in Saigon, Ambassador Durbrow' s 
persistent overtures for reform, and above a]l, uncerta.inties over U.S. 
support for the Royal Laotian Government. This requirement to reassure 
Diem was plainly at cross pm^poses with the use of pressure tactics. 

Ten days after President Kennedy came to office, he authorized a 
$^1 million increase in aid for Vietnam to underwrite the RVNAF force 

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level increase and improvements in the Civil Guard --a complete buy 
of the CIP. In March^ Ambassador Dorbrow was replaced by Frederick E. 
Nolting. Ambassador Durbrow's closing interview vrith Diem in mid-March 
was not reassuring. "While Diem stated that he was prepared to carry out 
the military aspects of the CIP, he dodged Durbrow's questions on the 
political action prescribed. It was on this disq.uieting note that the 
Kennedy Administration began its efforts to counter the insurgency in 
South Vietnam. 


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m > 



^ % 


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IV. A. 5» 
Tab 1. 



TABLE: Major Provisions of the 195^ Geneva Accords 


■ • « 


A. Introduction: The Flawed Peace 

B- The Partition of Vietnam 

!• Provisions for Unifying Vietnam 

2. France Withdraws^ 195^-1956 

3. Diem Refuses Constxltation^ 1955 

4. Divided Vietnam: Status Quo Accepted 

5* The Discontented 

C. Refugees : Disruption of Vietnara's Society 

1. Provisions for Regroupment 






2. Exodus to South Vietnam 

3. Causes of the Exoduj 

h. Exodus: Test of Geneva 

5. HJiipact of the Exodus: North 

6. Impact of the Exodus: South 

7. Southerners Regrouped Norbh 

8. Viet Minh Motivation; 

D. Arming of the North and the South 

1, Provisions for Arms Control 








2. PAVN Modernizes 

3. The French Arms 



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4. RWAF Revitalized 23 

5. U.S. Aid: SEATO .'. 25 

6- U.S. Aid: MAP 26 

7. Irflplications: U^S. Role. 28 

8. Hitiplications: DRV Protests 29 

9. Hiaplicationsj ICC Impotence 29 

E. The Situation in 19 56 30 

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( \ 

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IV. A. 5- 
Tab 1. 


I ' A, Introduction: The Flawed Peace 

The Geneva Conference of 195^ brought only transitory peace to 
Indochina. Nonetheless, except for the United States, the major powers 
were, at the time of the Conference, satisfied that with their handiwork: 
the truce averted a further U.S. military involvement on the Asian main- 
land, and dampened a heightening crisis between East and West which might 
readily have led to conflict outside Southeast Asia. So long as these 
conditions obtained, neither France, the U.K., the U.S.S.R. nor Communist 
China were seriously disposed to distiirb the modus vivend i in Vietnam. 
U.S. leaders publicly put the best face possible on the Geneva Settlement -- 
about all that might possibly have been obtained from a seriously disad- 
vantaged negotiating position, and no serious impairment to freedom of 
United States action." But the U.S., within its inner councils iKmaediately^^ 
after Geneva, viewed the Settlement's provisions for Vietnam as "disaster," 
and determined to prevent, if it could, the further extension of communist 
government over the Vietnamese people and territory, l/ U.S. policy adopted 
in 195^^ to this end did not constitute an irrevocable nor "open-ended" 
commitment to the government of Ngo Dinh Diem. But it did entail a pro- ■ 
.gressively deepening U.S. involvement in the snarl of violence and intrigue 
within Vietnam, and therefore a direct role in the ultimate breakdown of 
the Geneva Settlement. 

The Settlement of Geneva, though it provided respite from years 
of political violence, bitterly disappointed Vietnamese of North and South 
alike who had looked toward a unified and independent Vietnam. For the 
Viet Minh, the Settlement was a series of disappointing compromises to 
which they had agreed at the urging of the Soviet Union and China, compro- 
mises beyond v/hat hard won military adva.ntage over the French had led them 
to expect. 2/ For the State of Vietnam in the South, granted independence 
by France while the Geneva Conference was in progress, the Settlem.ent was 
an arrangement to which it had not been party, and to which it could not 
subscribe. 3/ The truce of 195^, in fact, embodied three serious defi- 
ciencies as a basis for stable peace among the Vietnamese: 

— It relied upon France as its executor. 

-- It ignored the opposition of the State of Vietnam. 

— It countenanced the disassociation of the United States. 

These weaknesses turned partitioned Vietnam into tv70 hostile states, and 
given the absence of a stabilizing international force and the impotence 
of the ICC, brought about an environment in vzhich W3.r v/as likely, if not 
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between North and South at the 17th parallel was transformed Into one 
of the more forbidding frontiers of the world. A mass displacement 
of nearly 5^ of the popiilation disrupted the polity and heightened 
tensions in both North and South. And both the Democratic Government 
of Vietnam (DRV) in the North, and the Government of Vietnam (GVN) in 
the South armed, with foreign aid, for what each perceived as a coming 
I struggle over reunification. Some of the main roots of the present 

conflict run to these failures of Geneva. 

I B. The Partition of Vietnam 

1. Provisions for Unifying Vietnam 

The sole formal instrument of the Geneva Conference was the 
document signed by the military commanders of the two hostile forces 
termed "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Viet - Nam, " dealing 
largely with the disengagement and regroupment of military forces, kj 
Article ik of the Agreement contained one brief -- but fateful allusion ■ 
to a future political solution: 5./ 

"Article ika. Pending the general elections which will 
bring about the uii.ification of Vietnam, the conduct of civil 
administration in each regrouping zone shall be in the hands 
j of the party whose forces are to be regrouped there in virtue 

•H^ of the present agreement 

• • • * 

A more general expression of the intent of the conferees was the un- 
signed "Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference," by which the 
Conference "takes note" of the aforementioned Agreement and several 
declarations by represented nations and: 6/ 

"...recognizes that the essential purpose of the agree- 
ment relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions 
with a view to ending hostilities and that the military 
demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way 
be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial 
boundary. . .declares that, so far as Vietnam is concerned, 
the settlement of political problems, effected on the basis 
of respect for the principles of independence, unity, and 
territorial integrity, shall peiTait the Vietnamese people 
to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic 
institutions established as a result of free general elec- 
tions by secret ballot. In order to insure that sufficient 
progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that 
all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of 
the national will, general elections shall be held in July, 
1956, under the supervision of an international commission 
composed of representatives of the member States of the 
International Supervisory Commission, referred to in the 
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will be held on this subject between the competent repre- 
sentative authorities of the two zones from 20 July 1955 
■ onwards, ..." 

The DRV approved the Final Declaration^ and^ having failed 
in its attempts to bring about immediate elections on unif ication,, no 
doubt did so reluctantly, t/ There has been some authoritative specu- 
lation that the Viet Minh accepted this aspect of the Settlement with 
deep cynicism; Pham Van Dong^ the DRV delegate at Geneva is supposed to 
have expressed conviction that the elections would never be held. 8/ 
But it seems more likely that the communist powers fully expected the 
nascent GVN^ already badly shaken from internal stresses^ to collapse^ 
and imification to follow with elections or not. In any event _, the 
public stance of the DRV stressed their expectations that the election 
would be held. Ho Chi Minh stated unequivocally on 22 July 195^ that: 
"North; Central and South Vietnam are territories of ours. Our country 
will surely be unified^ our entire people will surely be liberated." 9/ 

The Saigon Government was no less assertive in calling 
for unification of Vietnam. In a note to the French of Tf July 195^ .j 
the GVN delegate at Geneva protested having been left imtil then "in 
complete ignorance" of French intentions regarding the division of the 
country^ which he felt faiMed to "take any account of the unanirfious will 
for national unity of the Vietnamese people"; he proposed^ futilely^ 
United Nations trusteeship of all Vietnam in preference to a nation 
"dismembered and condemned to slavery." 10/ At the final session of 
the Conference^ when called upon to join in the Final Declaration^, the 
GVN delegate announced that his government "reserves its full freedom 
of action in order to safeguard the sacred right of the Vietnamese people 
to its territorial unity^ national independence and freedom." ll / Thus 
the Geneva truce confronted from the outset the anomaly of two sovereign 
Vietnamese states_j each calling for unification^ but only one^ the DRV^ 
comijiitted to achieving it via the terms of the Settlement. 

2. France Withdraws^ 195^1-1956 

France^ as the third party in Vietnam^ then became pivotal 
to any political settlement; its executor for the West. But France had 
agreed to full independence for the GVN on June hy 195^^ nearly six 
weeks before the end of the Geneva Conference. 12/ By the teiius of 
that June agreement; the GVN assumed responsibility for international 
contracts previously made on its behalf by France; but; there having 
been no reference to subsequent contracts; it was technically free of 
the Geneva Agreements, It has been argued to the contrary that the GVN 
was bound by Geneva because it possessed at the time few of the attri- 
butes of full sovereignty; and especially because it was dependent on 
France for defense. 13/ But such debates turn on tenuous points of 
international law regarding the prerogatives of newly independent or 
partitioned states, ik / It is fact that in the years 195"^ "to 195^; 
first the Communist Chinese and then the Soviets actoowledged the sepa- 
rate and sovereign identity of the GVN; and that the United States and 


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Great Britain did likewise. 1^/ It is also fact that France speedily 

divested itself of responsibilities for "civil administration" in South 
Vietnam. In February _, 1956_, the GVN requested France to withdraw its 
military forces_, and on April 26_, 195^^ the French military command in 
Vietnam^ the signatoiy of the Geneva Agreement^ was dissolved. France^ 
torn by domestic political turbulence in which past disappointments and 
continued frustrations in Vietnam figured prominently^ and tested anew 
in Algeria _, abandoned its position in Southeast Asia. l6/ No doubt^ 
an increasingly acerbic relation between its representatives and those 

1 of the United States in South Vietnam hastened its departure^ where 

American policy clashed with French over the arming and training of a 
national army for the GVN^ over French military assistance for the 
religious sects,, over French economic policy on repatriating investments^ 
and over general French opposition to Diem. YjJ But more fundamentally^ 

' France felt itself shouldered aside in South Vietnam by the United States 


(1) Policy toward the DRV . The French averred initially 
that Ho was a potential Tito^ and that they could through an accommo- 
dation with him preserve their economic and cultural interests in Vietnam — 
in their view^ a "co-existence experiment" of world wide significance in 
the Cold War. 18 / As of December^ 195^^ they were determined to carry 
out the Geneva elections. Eventually^ however^ they were obliged to 

^^^ choose between the UcS. and the DRV^ so firmly did the U.S. foreclose 

any adjustment to the DRV's objectives. I9/ 

(2) Policy toward Diem . France opposed Diem not solely 
because he was a vocally Francophobe Annamite^, but because he threatened 
directly their position in Vietnam. His nationalism^ his strictures 
against "f eudalists_, " his notions of moral regeneration all conjoined 
in an enmity against the French nearly as heated as that he harbored 
against the communists — but to greater effect^ for it was far easier 
for him to muster his countrymen's opinion against the French than against 
the Viet Minh. By the spring of 19!? I? j "the Diem-F!."ance controversy acquired 
military dmensions when French supported sect forces took up arms against 
the GVN. At that time^ while the U.S. construed its policy as aiding 
"Free Vietnam^ " the French saw Diem as playing Kerensky's role in Vietnam^ 
with the People's Revolutionary Committee as the Bolsheviks _, and Ho_, the 
Viet Minh Lenin^ waiting off stage. 20/ 

(3) Military Policy . By the end of 195^^ the French were 
persuaded that SEATO could never offer security for their citizens and 
other interests in Vietnam^ and had despaired of receiving U.So military 
aid for a French Expeditionary Corps of sufficient size to meet the 
threat. 2l/ U.S. insistence that it should train RVNAF increased their 
insecurity. V/ithin the combined U.S. -French headquarters in Saigon there- 
after^ officers of both nations worked side by side laxxnching counter- 
vailing intrigues among the Vietnamese^ and among each other. 22 / The 
relationship became intolerable witn French involvement in support of 
sect forces m open rebellion against U.S. assisted GVN forces. 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number; NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


In March of 19^6^ as France prepared to accede to tiie GYN request for' 
T%athdrawal of its remaining military forces^ Foreign Minister Plneau^ 
In a Paris speecJi^ took the U.K. and the U.S. to task for disrupting 
Western unity. 23_/ While Pmeau selected U.S. support of French- hating 
Diem for particular rancor _, he did so in tne context of decrying France's 
isolation In dealing with nationalist rebels In North Africa -- and thus 
generally Indicted two powers who had threatened the French empire since 
the U.K. intervened In Syria In 19^1^ and President Roosevelt assured the 
Siiltan of Morocco that his sympathies lay witn the colonial peoples strug- 
gling for independence. 24/ 

Ultimately^ France nad to place preservation of its European 
position ahead of empire^ and^ hence^ cooperation with the U.S. before 
opposition in Indochina. France's vacating Vietnam in 19i?6 eased U.S. 
problems there over the short run^ and smoothed Diem's path. But the 
DRV's hope for a national plebescite v^ere thereby dashed. On January 1^ 
1955; as the waning of France's power in Vietnam became apparent _, Pham 
Van Dong_, DRV Premier^ declared that as far as Hanoi was concerned: "... 
it was with you_j the French_, that v^e signed the Geneva Agreements^ and it 
is up to you to see that they are respected." Some thirteen months later 
the Foreign Minister of France stated that: 25/ 

"We are not entirely masters of the situation. The 
Geneva Accords on the one hand and the pressure of our allies 
on the other creates a very complex juridical situatioii. . . . 
The position in principle is clear: France is the guarantor 
of the Geneva Accords. . .But we do not have the means alone 
of making them respected." 

But the GVN remained adamantly opposed to elections_j and neither the 
U.S. nor any other vfestern power was disposed to support France's ful- 
fillment of its responsibility to the DRV. 

3- Diem Refuses Consultation^ 1955 

Communist expectations that the Diem government would fall 
victim to the voracious political forces of South Vietnam were unfulfilled. 
Diem narrowly escaped such a fate; but with American support --- albeit 
wavering^ and accompanied by advice he often ignored — Diem within a 
year of the Geneva Conference succeeded in defeating the most pov^erful of 
his antagonists^ the armed sects^ and in removing from power Francophile 
elements v^ithin his government; including his disloyal military chiefs. 
Ke spoke from comparatively firm political ground when; on July I6; 1955; 
before the date set for consulting with the DRV on the plebescite; he 
announced in a radio broadcast that: 26 / 

"We did not sign the Geneva Agreements, 

"VJe are not bound in any way by these Agreements^ signed 
against the will of the Vietnamese people... .We shall not miss 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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, any opportunity which would permit the unification of our 

homeland in freedom^ but it is out of the question for us 
, , to consider any proposal from the Viet Minh if proof is not 

given that they put the superior interests of the national 
community above those of communism," 

More over J Diem spoke with some assurance of American backing^ 
j i for the U.S. had never pressed for the elections envisaged by the Settle- 

ment. At the final session of Geneva^ rather than joining with the 
Conference delegates in the Final Declaration^ the UcS. "observer/* 
Under Secretary of State V/alter Bedell Smithy had linked U.S. policy 
vis-a-vis Vietnam to that for Korea^ Taiwan and Germany in these terms: 27/ 

"In the case of nations now divided against their will^ 
we shall continue to seek to achieve unity through free elec- 
tions supervised by the United Nations to insure that they 
are conducted fairly." 

Although the U.S. opposed elections in 195^ because Ho Chi 
Minh would have then won them handily, 28/ the records of the National 
Security Council and the Operations Coordinating Board of the summer of 
1954 establishes that this government then nonetheless expected elections 
eventually to be held in Vietnam. 29/ But, two major misapprehensions 
were evident: (l) the U.S. planned through "political action" to ameli- 
orate conditions in Southeast Asia to the point that elections would not 
jeopardize its objective of survival for a "free" Vietnam; and (2) the 
U.S. estimated that France would usefully remain in Vietnam. By the 
spring of I955, although U.S. diplomacy had brought the Southeast Asia 
Treaty Organization into being, and although Diem had with U.S. aid 
weathered a number of severe political storms, the U.So was less sanguine 
that its "political action" would suffice, and that further French pres- 
ence would be helpful. Accordingly, it began to look closely at the 
conditions imder which elections might be held, and urged that Vietnamese 
do the same. One definition of terms acceptable to the U.S. was set 
forth in a State Department memorandum of 5 May 1955^ approved by Secre- 
tary Dulles; 30/ 

"The U.S. believes that the conditions for free elections 
should be those which Sir Anthony Eden put forward and the 
three V/estern Powers supported at Berlin in connection with 
German reunification. The United States believes that the 
Free Vietnamese should insist that elections be held under 
conditions of genuine freedom; that safeguards be agreed to 
assure this freedom before, after, and during elections and 
that there be adequate guarantees for, among other things, 
freedom of movement, freedom of presentation of candidates, 
immnlty of candidates, freedom from arbitrary arrest or 
victimization, freedom of association or political meetings, 
freedom of expression for all, freedom of the press, radio, 
and free circulation of newspapers, secrecy of the vote, and 
security of polling stations and ballot boxes." 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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I I 

Although the U.S. communicated to Diem its conviction that proposing such 
conditions to the DRV during pre-plebescite consultations would lead 
promptly to a flat rejection^ to Diem's marked advantage in world opin- 
ion^ Diem found it preferable to refuse outright to talk to the Norths 
and the U.S. indorsed his policy. 3l/ 

4. Divided Vietnam: Status Quo Accepted 

The deadline for the consultations in July 1955^ sind the 
date set for elections in July 1956_, passed without further international 
action to implement those provisions of the Geneva Settlement. The DRV 
commujaicated directly with the GVN in July^ 1955^ snd again in May and 
June of 1956^ proposing not only consultative conference to negotiate 
"free general elections by secret ballot/' but to liberalize North-South 
relations in general. 32/ Each time the GVN replied with disdain^ or 
with silence. The 17th parallel^ with its demilitarized zone on either 
side^ became de facto an international boundary,, and — since Ngo Dinh 
Diem's rigid refusal to traffic with the North excluded all economic ex- 
changes and even an interstate postal agreement — one of the most restricted 
boundaries in the world. The DRV appealed to the U.K. and the U.S.S.R. as 
co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference to no avail. 33/ In January^ 195^^ 
Communist China requested another Geneva Conference to deal v/ith the situ- 
ation^ but the U.S.S.R. and the U.K. responded only by extending the 
functions of the International Control Commission beyond its I956 expir- 
ation date. 3I1/ ^ early I957 the partition of Vietnam was generally 
accepted throughout the international community. In January^ 1957^ the 
Soviet Union proposed the admission of both the GVN and the DRV to the 
United Nations^ the U.S.SoR. delegate declaring that "in Vietnam two 
separate States existed^ which differed from one another in political 
and economic structure...." 35/ 

Professor Hans Morganthau^ writing at the time^ and following 
a visit to South Vietnam^ described the political progress of the GVN as 
a "miracle^" but stated that conditions for free elections obtained in 
neither the North nor the South. 36 / He concluded that: 

"Actually^ the provision for free elections which would 
solve ultimately the pnroblem of Vietnam was a device to hide 
the incompatibility of the Communist and Western positions^ 
neither of v^hich can admit the domination of all of Vietnam 
by the other side. It was a device to disguise the fact that 
the line of military demarcation was bound to be a line of 
political division as well...." 

5- The Discontented 

However^ there were three governments^ at leasts for which 
^"^^ status quo of a Vietnam divided betv/een communist and non-communist 
governments was unacceptable. The GVW^ while remaining cool to the Yi^ , 
pursued an active propaganda campaign prophesying the overturning of 
communism in the Norths and proclaiitiing its resolve ultimately to reunify 
the nation in freedom. The United States supported the GVN^ having 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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established as national policy in 1956; reaffirmed again in I958, these 
guidelines: 3T/ 

"Assist Free Viet Nam to develop a strong^ stable and 
constitutional government to enable Free Viet Nam to assert 
an increasingly attractive contrast to conditions in the 
present Communist zone.,.. Work toward the weakening of the 
Communists in North and South Viet Nam in order to bring 
about the eventual peaceful reunification of a free and 
independent Viet Nam under anti-Communist leadership.... 
Support the position of the Government of Free Viet Nam 
that all Viet Nam elections may take place only after it 
is satisfied that genuine3.y free elections can be held 

throughout both zones of Viet Nam Treat the Viet Minh 

as not constituting a legitim.ate government,, and discourage 
other non-Communist states from developing or maintaining 
relations with the Viet Minh regime " 

• • 

And the Democratic Republic of Vietnam became increasingly vocal in its 
calls for "struggle" to end partition. In April; I956; as the plebes- 
cite deadline neared^ Ho Chi Minh declared ominously that: 38/ 

"V/hile recognizing that in certain countries the road 
I ! to socialism may be a peaceful one^ we should be aware of 

--^ this fact: In countries where the machinery of state^ the 

j ■ armed forces_j and the police of the bourgeois class are 

still strong; the proletarian class still has to prepare 
for armed struggle. 

: "While recognizing the possibility of reunifying Viet- 

j nam by peaceful means^ we should always remember that our 

, people's principal enemies are the American imperialists and 

their agents who still occupy half our country and are pre- 
paring for war. ..." 


In 1956; however; Ho Chi Minh and the DRV faced mounting internal diffi- 

; cultieS; and were not yet in a position to translate the partition of 

; ■ Vietnam into casus belli . 

C. Refugees: Disruption of Vietnam's Society 

1 • Provisions for Regr oupment 

Article ik of the "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities 

in Vietnam;" which provided for separate political administrations north 
and south of the ITth parallel^ also stated that: 39 / 

"l4(d) From the date of entry into force of the 
present agreement until the movement of troops is completed^ 
any civilians residing in a district controlled by one 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


I t 

party who wish to go and live in the zone assigned to the 
other party shall be permitted and helped to do so by the 
authorities in that district." 

It is probable that none of the conferees foresaw the ramifications of 
that one sentence, for it put in motion one million Vietnamese refugees , 
most of them destitute , who became at first heavy burdens on the DRV and 
the GVW, and ultimately political and military assets for both regimes. 
For the United States, the plight of these peoples lent hiunanitarian 
dimensions to its policy toward Vietnam, and new perspectives to its 
economic and military assistance. 

2. Exodus to South Vietnam 

In accordance with Article 1 of the Agreement on Cessation 
of Hostilities, 190,000 troops of the French Expeditionary Corps were moved 
from North Vietnam to the South. In addition, some 900,000 civilians exer- 
cised their option under Article 1^4 (d) of the Armistice. While no wholly 
reliable statistics exist, there is agreement among several authorities 
that the figures presented by the International Commission for Supervision 
and Control in Vietnam (iCC), citing chiefly the Saigon Government as its ■ 
source, are generally correct: ko/ 

Figures of Movement of Population 
in Vietnam Under Article lh (d) 

North Zone to South Zone Period Ending 


Total arrivals 
(Figs, given by the 
State of Vietnam) 


By air 
By sea 

Across provisional 
demarcation line 
By other means 




Estimate of arrivals 
not registered (Figs, 
given by the State of 
Vietnam in April) 

Total 818,127 


(iii) Figs, given by PAVN 


Up to 20.7.55 


70 , 000 


The uncertainty of statistics concerning total numbers of 
refugees stems not only from DRV reluctance to report departures, but 
also the turbulent conditions which then obtained throughout Vietnam, 
where the French v^ere in the process of turning over public administration 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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to Vietnamese^ and where Saigon *s communications with refugee relief 
operations in the field were at best tenuous. U.S. Department of State " 
analysis in 1957 estimated the fol3-Owing composition and disposition of 
the refugees: 

Civilian Eegroupees from the Norths 195^-1955 ^/ 

Category Number (Approximate) 

1. Registered xfith GVN for refugee 6']-0_,000 Vietnamese 
benefits 15^000 Nungs 

5^000 Chinese 

2. I^ench citizens resettled or 

repatriated by France 40_jOOO 

3. Chinese absorbed into Chinese 

coirauunity in South k^^OOO 

Total 7^5^000 

(Remainder^ 200^000 Vietnamese 
absorbed without aid^ e.g. ^ 
dependents of military _, civil 
servants. ) 

The GVN director of refugee programs reported that the refugees were 
composed^ by trade^ as follows: h2 / . 

Farmers "jGjo 

Fishermen 10^ 

Artisans^ small business- 
men^ student s_, govern- 
ment employees_j 
professionals 1^^ 

But it was religious orientation which ultimately assujued the greatest 
importance in South Vietnam's political life: an estimated 655^ of North 
Vietnam's Catholics moved to the Souths more than 600^,000 in all; these_j 
with 2_,000 northern Protestants^ were settled in their own communities. ^!3/ 

3. Causes of the Exodus 

The flight from North Vietnam reflected apprehension over 
the coming to power of the Viet Minh. Institutionally^ the Viet Minh 
were further advanced in North Vietnam than the Souths and had in areas 
of the North iinder their control already conducted several experiments 
in social revolution. 




Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



In I95I:, with the legalization of the Coimiunist Party^ an 
"economic leveling" program was launched^ consisting of pxmitive taxes 
levied on the wealthy, kh/ In 1953^ there was a short but sharp terror 
campaign^ followed by a"^Land Rent Reduction/^ which formed poor peasants 
into "land reform battalions" to administer "people's justice" to land- 
lords and their families. These were only prelaJuinarieSj however^ to 
the dry's "Land Reform Campaign" of 195^1- to 1956^ which more systematically 
and terroristically struck at traditional wealth distribution. All of 
these undertakings were associated with the Viet Minh^ and though mitigated 
by the victory over the French and the benign image of "Uncle Ho^ " they 
aroused rural resentment and fears. 

But the flood of refugees also sprang from other sources. 
There were a few French^ and 200^000 Vietnamese who had been French civil 
servants_, or dependents of French soldiers_, or retainers — these had 
every reason to anticipate hostility. There were the Nung tribal people^ 
who had been allied with the French during the war^ and would probably 
have clashed with the North Vietnamese government whatever its policies. 
The Chinese shadow over the Viet Minh deepened Nung fears^ and strengthened 
tendencies within the Chinese community of Hanoi to split along Nationalist/ 
Coram-unlst lines after the fashion of overseas Chinese throughout the Far 
East; many Chinese fled. Rich or landed Vietnamese could^ with reason^ 
be apprehensive over DRV policies toward the wealthy^ and be drawn to the 
presumably more open South. A former ICC member has noted that there was 
a labor market in the South^ and rumors of an impending corvee labor pro- 
grara in the labor surplus North -- both incentives to migrate- Viet Minh 
propaganda painted grim pictures of life in South Vietziam^ and savagely 
attacked the French and Americans who were aiding refugees. In turn_, 
French and American propaganda promoted recourse to migration to escape 
the terrors and injustice of communism. Voice of America was active in 
rebutting the Viet Minh radio^, and battery radios v^ere reportedly dis- 
.tributed to extend the audience for Western prograrAS. Colonel lansdale 
described a U.S. instigated black propaganda campaign of pamphlets and 
announcements,, ostensibly Viet Minh in origin^ airaed at discrediting the 
DRV^ depreciating its currency^ and adding to popular fears of its new 
powers. One outcome was rampant rumor. For example^ the ICC source 
cited above reported that some refugees believed that the U.S. would 
use atomic bOQibs on the Viet Minh. Dr. Tora Dooley found refugees with 
a Viet Minh pamphlet shov,^ing a Hanoi map with three concentric circles 
of nuclear destruction — conceivably^ an example of Colonel Lansdale's 
handiwork, k^/ 

Again, hovrever the salient political aspect of the migration 
was that most of the refugees — two out of three -- were Catholics.' 
Many northern Catholics, with a long history of persecution at the hands 
of non-Catholic Tonkinese^ would probably have left with their French pro- 
tectors whatever the character of the successor. But Catholic opposition 
to the Viet Minh during the war invited retribution, and Ngo Dinh Diem's 
ascendancy in Saigon was no doubt attractive to his northern co-religionists 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number; NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 




Moreover^ almost as soon as the truce became effective,, the Catholic 
bishops entered into a test of power with the Viet Minh^ using their 
"self-defense forces" to balk DRV occupation. The response was pre- 
dictably ruthless: Catholic villages were attacked by PAVN troops^ 
and in two instances^ inhabitants reportedly were massacred; churches 
were burned^ Church property confiscated^ priests tortured or jailed^ and 
heavy taxes levied on Church lands and buildings. Among the consequences 
of that violence was a Catholic propaganda campaign against the Viet 
Minh -- e.g. y the-Virgin-had-gone- South theme — and mass migrations of 
whole parishes. k6/ 

h. Exodus: Test of Geneva 

The movem_ent of refugees from North Vietnam quickly became 
a central point of international controversy. Both parties to the 
Geneva Agreement accused the other of violations in impeding the free 
egress of would-be migrants^ and both sides were undoubtedly at least 
partially justified in their charges. Aside from the propaganda campaign^ 
Prance -- with substantial American aid — helped refugees with food_, 
medicine^ and transportation- American and French ships moved whole 
villages southward^ and American and French charities provided for their 
well-being during the journey and after their arrival in their new home- 
land. The U.S. Government^ besides assigning a Task Force of the Seventh 
Fleet to refugee assistance^ firrnished the Saigon Government with $56^000^000 
in 1955^ and $37^000,000 in I956 for refugee relief and resettlement con- 
sidering the outflow from North Vietnam "a convincing tribute to the Free 
World and an indictment of the Communists." At the same time, both the 
GVN and the U.S. actively discouraged migration from the South -- the G^/N 
mainly by administrative obfuscation, the U.S. primarily through another 
propaganda campaign, targeted against Viet Minh in South Vietnam, hjj 

DRV behavior toward refugees during the year in which "regroup- 
ment" v/as authorized has served then and since as an indictment of its 
character, and proof that it could not be expected to permit free elections. 
Leo Cherne of Look, and Dr. Tom Dooley dramatized the misery and fearfulness 
of the refugees for American audiences. hQ/ Ngo Dinh Diem utilized 
refugees systematically to mobilize opinion in South Vietnam against Geneva, 
the ICC, and the DRV as well, hs/ Since the issue has become central to 
the American policy debate on Vietnam, Frank N. Trager, for example, has 
stated that, after the DRV perceived that the nuiTibers moving south by far 
exceeded those coming north, the DRV was impelled to: 50/ 

"...impose restrictions and brutal punishments on those 
who sought to go South. Summary arrests, denial of permits, 
intimidation by 'show trials' of those who served as leaders of 
the exodus, and executions served to inhibit the exercise of the 
option. Residual petitions affecting 95,000 persons in the North 
were presented to the International Control Commission. Nothing 
ever came of these. An -unknown number were thus never allowed to 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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leave the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The refugee problem 
was one of the most far reaching issues at the time.... 

This condemnation of the DRV was fairly veil substantiated by U.S. intel- 
ligence. A U.S. Intelligence Advisory Committee report of I955 quotes • 
"usually reliable French intelligence reports" that after October 1954 
three DRV regular infantry divisions^ with local forces_, were positioned 
to block refugee movement. These^ with "voluminous reports from Catholic 
and other sources" indicated that the DRV^ with armed forces^, by barring 
refugees from local transport_j and through economic penalties^ was pur- 
suing a deliberate policy to prevent departures. Article l4(d) of the 
Geneva Agreement obliged the DRV to assist the movement of would-be 
refugees^ but GVW officials reported receiving only 15^000 refugees 
bearing official Viet Minh exit permits^ including 8^300 who obtained 
their papers under direct ICG supervision. U.S. and French naval offi- 
cers have attested that thousands of northerners literally escaped to 
their waiting ships. 51/ 

Again; no entirely dependable record exists. The ICC was 
impeded in its observations and reporting by "narrow and complicated 
administrative procedures in the areas in the control of the PAVN. . . . " 5^/ 
Of 119 investigations conducted by ICC mobile teams during the period_, 
34 dealt with violations of Article l4(d) alleged by first parties. 
Beyond these; however^ DRV authorities submitted to the ICC 320^000 peti- 
tions fromx friends and, relations of regroupees alleging that the French 
had forced evacuation^ and "thousands" of petitions were received from 
French sources claiming that the DRV was obstructing those vrho wished to 
move South. _53/ After a survey oif 25^000 refugees in the South; ■ the ICC 
teams reported that "there was no foundation for the allegation that 
thousands were victims of a systematic propaganda and many of them wished 
to go back to the PAVN zone and none of the persons contacted by the 
teams complained of forced evacuation or expressed a desire to return...." 5^/ 
Investigations in the North; however; did disclose that observance of 
Article l4(d) by the DRV was not uniformly satisfactory. The ICC majority 
report notes that: 55/ 

"(ii) religiouS; social and local influences were used by 

both sides either to persuade persons to change their 
zone of residence or to dissuade them from exercising 
the freedom of choice regarding the zone in which they 
wanted to live. . , 

"(iii) the demand for permits and facilities under Article lU(d) 
was the largest in the areas under the control of the 
PAVN and it was generally met except in the areas of Nghe 
An and Ea Tinh " 

The named areas were predominantly CatholiC; and in the vil- 
lage of Luu My; in the province of Nghe An.; the ICC team did report on a 
clash between the civil populace and troops of the DRV in which at least 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


12 villagers vere killed; in another locality^ Ba Lang^ other incidents 
of violence were reported which led to 200 arrests. 56/ It was the 
view of the Indian and Polish members of the ICC^ however, that despite 
these incidents "by the l8th of May (1955) the bulk of the persons who ^^ ^ 
wanted to change the zone of their residence had succeeded in doing so." 
The Canadian member dissented and submitted a minority report detailing 
other examples of forceful obstruction of refugees by DRV authorities or 
crowds, and concluded these were "deliberately planned." Moreover, the 
Canadians were convinced that the DRV had so effectively restricted ICC 
inspections that: "it's still not possible to say whether all persons 
wishing to move from one zone to the other have been able to do so." 57/ 
Estimates of the numbers of persons prevented from migrating from North 
Vietnam range from Asian scholar Ellen Hammer's "several fold" those who 
left, and Diem's estimate of twice the number who reached the South, to 
Robert Shaplen's "no more than ^00,000," and B.S.N. Murti of the ICC, who 
thinks a number approaching 2,000 likely. 58/ 

5- Impact of the Exodus: North 

Whatever the DRV's intentions concerning the exodus, the 
numbers of refugees who were permitted to depart speaks for itself: if 
the estimate of 900,000 is correct, the DRV witnessed the flight of 1 out 
of every I3 of its citizens at a time when, ostensibly, votes and labor 
were important to its future. It should be noted that the DRV ^capitalized 
upon the abandoned land and other property of the refugees in its initial 
wealth redistribution schemes, and thus had motive to encourage, rather 
than impede, departures. 59/ The timing of the uproar with the ICC over 
violations of Article l^(d7 suggests an answer: the incidents observed 
by the ICC in the North, as well as manifestations in the South of dis- 
content with Saigon's observance of the agreement, multiplied after 
October, 195^., and peaked toward May, 1955, indicating that the DRV pur- 
sued a progressively more ruthless policy on departures. 60/ In seeking 
to attenuate the outflow, the DRV undoubtedly resorted to stringent 
measures, at least in certain localities. Whether these measures ap- 
proached the depravities depicted by Trager and others cannot be adjudi- 
cated with present evidence, but it is clear that refugees provided an 
early and severe test of the DRV's capability for humane and democratic 
action consistent with the Geneva Settlement -- and in the eyes of many 
observers in South Vietnam and the West, the DRV failed abjectly, seri- 
ously damaging its position vis-a-vis the plebescite. 61/ Within North 
Vietnam, the refugee experience developed deep divisions between the DRV 
and rural Catholics v/hich were to persist more than a year after the 
Geneva movement arrangement expired. 

6. Impact of the Exodus: South 

For the GVN, the influx of 900,000 people presented prob- 
lems of paralyzing proportions. Within a few months of Ngo Dinh Diem's 
taking office, Saigon was ringed with shabby encai'apments whose inhabi- 
tants were wholly dependent on the already overburdened government. Had 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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it not been for U.S. aid^ many of the refugees might never have reached 
the South; and without U.S. aid there^ many might have perished. The 
UoS. l^avy moved 310,8^8 persons in its "Operation Exodus." The $93 million 
the GVN received from the U.S. comprised 97^ of the funds it dispensed 
for these purposes^ nearly $100 per refugee in a country with a lower 
national income per capita. 62/ This official aid^ plus substantial 
assistance from Anerican charities^ combined with a remarkably energetic 
and imaginative Vietnamese administration^ succeeded by 1957 in providing 
decent habitation and livelihood for all but a few of the refugees -- a 
genuinely laudable accomplishment;, which must stand with the defeat of the 
sects among Diem's crowning achievements. 63/ 

Because of the GVN's undertakings for the refugees^ the 
Geneva "regroupment" turned out^ at least initially^ very much to its 
advantage: it gained nearly 1 million loyal citizens adamantly opposed 
to reunification were it to mean their return to DRV rule^ whose recounted 
experiences with the Viet Minh buttressed the moral fiber of the South. 
Here were v^-hole communities largely dependent on the GVN^ untouched by 
the armed religious sects^ and hostile to the Viet Minh^ from which Diem . 
could recruit reliable political and military cadres. Here were masses 
disposed to follow Diem uncritically^ easily manipulated for political 
purposes by Diem or his family. Here^ for aid-dispensing i\mericansj were 
Vietnamese whose needs were basic^ and who proved capable of absorbing 
simple^ quick- return^ highly visible forms of assistance. 

The GVN began to politicise the refugee communities almost 
immediately. For example^ in July^ 1955; >^hen the DRV appealed to Diem 
to commence consultation towards the plebescite^ an apparently well- 
directed mob of refugees attacked the hotel quarters of the ICC W_/ 
Some 20^000 of the refugees were moved together to a sparsely settled 
tract in the Mekong Delta of 100^000 acres^ which was cleared^ plowed 
and irrigated with substantial American technical assistance and 100 
tractors; this^ the Cai San project^ became a showcase of American aid 
for visitors. 65/ In a much smaller,, yet perhaps more significant 
instance^ the GVN formed small^ black-pajamaed "civic action" cadres for 
the purpose of building communications between Saigon and the villages; 
although the original idea had been to use Saigon bureaucrats^ these 
failed to volunteer ^ and the bulk of the teams were eventually manned by 
northern refugees. 66/ later^ refugee communities were transplanted to 
the frontiers to enhance both the local economy and security there, of / 
The GVN vras not ungrateful^ and eventually the preferred positions in the 
Army and the bureaucracy began to be filled with refugee Catholics and 
other northerners. 

In the long run^ however^ Diem squandered the advantage the 
Geneva regroupment brought him. His policies kept the refugees an unas- 
similated;, special interest group^, vrhich produced further distortions in 
an already stressed polity. They in turn projected in rural areas an 
unfavorab].e image of the GW^ which probably figured in its eventual 
rejection by most Cochinchinese and non-Catholic Annamites: a governi'/ient ; 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 



vhose protection and largess were extended preferentially to Catholics 
and northerners. @/ 

7« Southerners Regrouped North 

Whether or not at the time of Geneva the DRV leaders 
genuinely expected the plebescite of 1956^ the Viet Minh of Annaiu 
and Cochinchina were apparently instructed through their Commimist 
Party cadre that elections would be held. Thousands of Vietnamese 
left the South under the regroupment provisions of the Settlement - 
Upon cadre assurances of return^ they staked family tieS; ancestral 
lands^ and fortunes. 

Unfortunately;, we Imow little still about the Southern 
regroupees in the Norths and less about the Viet Minh who stayed behind 
when their comrades departed. The reports of the International Com- 
mission for Supervision and Control in Vietnam record the movement of 
only ^^269 civilians from the South to north of the IJth parallel. 69/ 
After April 1955^ as reported by the ICC^ refugees applied to the 
Saigon authorities^ in such numbers that the GVN proved unable to meet 
demands for permits or transportation. Demonstrations occurred_j and 
special arrangements by the ICC and the Prench were necessitated. None- 
theless^ the total nuraber thus formally involved in ICC reported moves 
was less than 5^000. Jo/ The very sizable migration in 195^ of Viet 
Minh from the Prench controlled zone aboard Polish and Soviet ships to 
the North has not been reported authoritatively. An estimated 90^000 
armed Viet Minh departed. An Indian member of the ICC published in 
I96U the following figures^ v^hich correspond with the totals furnished 
by the French and the Poles^, and which appear on present evidence to 
be as reliable as any: 71/ 

Assembly Area 

Quang Nai-Binh Dinh 
Ham Tan-Xuyen Moc 
Plaine des Jones 
Cau Mau 


Viet Minh Departures for DRV 



16, 000 
2.0, 000 
30^ 000 




Admin Cadres, 
POW, and 
families i43j>000 

Total: 130,000 



2kh vehicles 

1 tank 

28 artillery pieces 

338^ tons supplies 

Among the total, there were a significant number of Montagnards — 
Bernard Pall states 10,000 -- and children. A Viet Cong lieutenant 
colonel, captured in I961, then one of the senior officers of the Viet 
Cong intelligence services, has confirrr].ed that Highlanders and 10,000 
children were among the regroupees, and that DRV was taking pains to 
educate both groups well. 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


Concerning numbers of Viet Minh left behind^ figures are 
even more vague. U.S. intelligence as of 1936 accepted 8^000 as its 
best estimate^ of which 5_,000 were axmed and organized in skeletal 
military units; there were reports of strengths up to 10^000. J2/ A 
more recent UoS. intelligence appraisal states that: 73/ 

"While the nxmiber of hard-core Commiinists remaining in 
South Vietnam after l^^k cannot be confirmed^ French and 
South Vietnamese estimates^ based on observations of friendly 
military commanders in the field^ placed the figure at 5^000 
'armed Viet Minh.' However^ this is clearly a conservative 
estimate since it does not include political agents or 'soft 
core' members or supporters...." 

In summary^ best current estimates indicate: 
Disposition of Viet Minh in South 193^"^^. 

Moved North 

By Polish and 
Soviet Ships 

90^000 Armed Viet Minh 
40,000 Dependents 

By other transport 

130,000 Including: 10,000 Highlanders 

10,000 Children 


13^^269 TOTAL 

Left Behind 

5,000 Armed Viet Minh 
3:, 000 Political Cadre 
Unknovm dependents of Viet Minh 

8. Viet Minh Motivations 

Interviews with captured or defected regroupees, and 
captured Viet Cong documents, establish that the DRV leadership told 
the Viet Minh in 195^ that the general elections and unification 
mentioned in Article l4 of the Geneva Agreement would occur in July 
1956, as asserted in the Pinal Declaration of the Conference. 7^/ 
Accordingly, unlike the refugees fleeing south, who evidently accepted 
permanent separation from their birthplace, most of the Viet Minh who 
were regrouped to the North expected to be separated from their homes 
and families only two years." There were a variety of motives or 
emotions involved^ but whatever response the cadre evoked in their 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


foUovers^ it was clearly understood by all rank and file that the 
regroupment instructions were an order_, and most responded as did one 
P0¥: "I did my duty as a soldier." Some v/ere told to go; seme to 
marry _, then go; some to stay. After the initial regroupment in 195^^ 
no further large-scale movement northv^ard was encouraged by the DRV- 
The outburst of enthusiasm for regroupment which resulted in demon- 
strations in Saigon in April 1955^ and DRV support for same^ can be 
attributed to growing conviction that Diem might succeed in his drive 
for political control,, and that he or the U.S. would not permit general 
elections^ or to a tactical cover for the DRV's own difficulties with, 
clamoring would-be refugees. 75/ 

As of March 1967^ a report was available on 23 Viet Minh who 
stayed behind in 195^- These men had been systematically interviewed^ 
and while they comprise a slender sample^ their replies give no evi- 
dence that violence or sabotage vrere included in the initial orders of 
any; rather,, they received organizational and propaganda missions: 76/ 

, "POW: We were given training about the Geneva treaty. 
We were instructed to work normally with the peasants^ to 
earn a living and to explain to them the clauses of the 
-treaty. We pointed out that general elections would be 
held in 1956," 

Another distributed leaflets^ hung posters and organized meetings to 
promote the plebescite. One had orders "to v/ork as a core cadre 
exhorting the population to demand negotiations with North Vietnam for 
a general election." Still another distributed petitions demanding 
elect ionsj trade relations v/ith DRV^ and peace. 

However^ this "political action" never promised much^ since 
the GVN never seemed disposed to^^ard holding the elections. V/hen in 
July 1955; %o Dinh Diem dismissed with finality any prospect for 
consultations^ the lines began to be drawn between the "stay-behind" 
cadre and the Saigon government. 77 / After 195^^ "the last illusions 
were dispelled^ and the Viet Minh apparatus went wholly underground. 78/ 

D. Arming of the North and the South 

1. Provisions for Arms Control 

The Geneva Conference intended to fix a ceiling on foreign 
military personnel^ bases and arm-S in Vietnam corresponding to the 
levels of July 3 954. Within m^onths of the Conference^ the DRV and the 
GVN were each led to believe that the other was contravening those 
arms control provisions of the Settlement. The DRV could claini; with 
justification^ that the United States was introducing new arms and 
personnel; assuming an amplified military role in Vietnam^ and acquiring 
bases. The GV1\[ could accuse the DRV^ again v/ith justification; of building 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


I i 




a massive army^ and modernizing it vith Commiinict bloc aid. 79 / The 
ICC^ discredited in its attempts to cope vith observance of Article 
iJi(d) of the "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities..." regarding 
refugees^ was further devalued as a stabilizing influence when forced 
to admit that it was impotent in inspecting compliance with Articles 
l6^ 17^ l8^ and 19: 8o/ 

"Article l6. . .the introduction into Viet -Nam of any 
troop reinforcements and additional military personnel 
is prohibited. . . . 

"Article 17...the introduction into Viet-Nam of any 
reinforcement in the form of all types of arms_, munitions^ 
and other war material,, such as combat aircraft^ naval 
crafty pieces of ordnance^ jet engines and armoured 
vehicles^ is prohibited.... 

"Article l8...the establishment of new military bases 
is prohibited throughout Viet-Nam territory. 

"Article military base under the control of a 
foreign State may be established in the regrouping zone of 
• either party; the two parties shall ensure that the zones 
assigned to them do not adhere to any military alliance 
and are not used for the resumption of hostilities or to 
further an aggressive policy." 

In June^ 1958^ the ICC issued the following statement 
concerning its inability to enforce the provisions of Articles I6 
and 17: 81/ 

"The persistence of the Parties in not accepting the 
Commission's interpretation of the provisions of the Agree- 
ments and their failure to implement the recommendations 
made to them by the Commission have rendered it difficult 
for the Commission to supervise the implementation of the 
Articles concerned. The Commission will;, as hitherto^ con- 
tinue to discharge its duties under the Geneva Agreements^ 
but would like to emphasize that the lack of cooperation from 
the Parties seriously affects the effectiveness of its super- 
vision and control. The Commission can^ therefore^ discharge 
its responsibilities only to the extent permitted by the 
Parties^ and not as decided by the Commission in accordance 
with the Geneva Agreements. The Coimnission hopes that in 
the future a larger measure of cooperation will be forth- 
coming from the Parties and the difficulties which have 
persisted so far v^ill cease to hinder its activities." 


The test of the Geneva Agreement also allowed for the rotation of 
personnel; and the replacement of "destroyed^ damaged^ worn out or 
used up" material; annS; and munitions^ provided that advance notice 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


of movements be furnished the ICC^ and specified points of entry and 
departure be employed. Neither the DRV nor the GVN cooperated with 
the ICC in all respects. The U.S.^ though it took steps to maintain 
the appearances of compliance through 1960^ especially on personnel 
ceilingS;, and although it considered itself hampered by the Settlement^ 
was able to provide in that time over $50^000,000 per annum worth of 
military assistance to the GVl^J. 82/ The failure of the Geneva Settle- 
ment to control the arming of Vietnam, with its concomitant heightened 
fears and potential for violence, no less than in the case of the 
plebescite and the refugees, was directly antecedent to the insurgency 
in South Vietnam. 

2. PAVTT Modernizes 

At the close of hostilities, the Viet Minh probably had 
some 300,000 to i|-00,000 men under arms — about 130,000 regulars -- 
of which all but about 70,000 were concentrated in North Vietnam and 
Laos. (See Map, ff.) 83/ The French had fielded ^20,000 troops, 
including about 200,000 Vietnamese. Both sides received extensive aid 
from non-combatants, the French chiefly from the U.S., and the DRV 
chiefly from China. One recent estimate puts relative volumes of aid 
as follows: 84/ 




U.Sc Aid 

7,200 tons/month 
10,000 tons/month 


Chinese Aid 

10 to 20 tons/month 

500 to 600 tons/month 

4,000 tons/month (as of Dien 
Bien Phu) 

The differences between the two aid programs were, of course, signifi- 
cant beyond tonnages. The Chinese aid wa^ largely infantry arms and 
ammunition, while U.S. shipments ranged across the whole costly and 
complicated inventory of the U.S. arrned forces. More importantly, in 
contrast with the highly visible U.S. participation, Chinese aid was 
clandestine; neither the donor nor the recipient has owned to the aid 
program to this date, and in maintaining the flow without, attribution 
the DRV developed procedures which stood it in good stead after Geneva. 

The DRV, from all U.S. intelligence has been able to dis- 
cern, commenced the reorganization and refitting of i.ts Peoples' Army 
of Vietnam (pAVN) concurrently with occupation of Tonkin behind the 
withdrav/ing French. U.S. evidence indicated that shipments of military 
materiel from China and the Soviet significantly exceeded in kind and 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


- — ■ 

Source : V . J . Cr oi sa b , trans . , A^Trcmslation fr o:n the Fi -ench; 

Lessons of th e VJar in "Indochina ( Santa Konica: RAIID Corp.> 






o o 






/ \ 






(Ttiou sands) 

Popular (guerrilla) . . 100 

Regional TO 

Regular ••••^^ 


In North Vietnam :80^ 


Infantry boiialion (regular) 
O Regional boifalion 



AriiUor/ or anHoircraft or engineer batlalion 

Viet Minh deployment 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


amount that required for replacement^ and that^ rather^ the DRV 
steadily modernized and expanded its forces during the decade after 
Geneva. 8^ / In the first six months after the truce alone^ U.S. 
intelligence reported that PAVN introduced from China^ concealing 
the movements from the ICC, more than I5O pieces of field and anti- 
aircraft artillery, 5OO mortars, 9,000 automatic weapons, 5OO 
recoilless rifles, ^00 military vehicles, and substantial amounts 
of ammunition. 86/ Thereafter, the U.S. was convinced that regular 
infusions of modem equipment from the CPR and the Soviet Union 
supported extensive reorganization and growth of DRY armed forces. 

Trends in DRV Armed Strength 87/ 
(in thousands) [ 

Provincial Armed Public Armed 
PAVN N avy AF Forces Security Force Militia Total 

195^ iH N.A. N.A. 77. ■ N'A. ^-^- ^^^ 

1955 173 N.A. N.A. ■ 72 N.A. 75 320 

1959 270 1.60.3 35.5 15 100 i^22 

1963 2i^0 2.5 0.5 -- .15 200 ^58 

According to U.S. estimates, the period 195^-195^ was 
devoted to regrouping and reorganizing. .New divisions were formed, 
incorporating Viet Minh from South Vietnam regrouped to the North per 
the Geneva Agreements. Overage and unfit personnel were weeded out, 
and intensive political indoctrination begun. Divisions were deployed 
into the countryside, with the new southern formations concentrated in 
areas of civil unrest. 88/ In 1957 and I958 mprovements in organiza- 
tion and control 'were inaugurated, PAVN taking on the structure and 
trappings of a Bloc-style professional array, with regularized pay scales, 
insignia, rank, and the like. During I958 and 1959^ "^o meet goals for 
manning collective farms, some divisions were reduced in personnel and 
converted to brigades. Conscription was introduced, the Armed Public 
Secuxity Forces -- frontier and internal security troops -- formed, and 
the air and naval forces elevated in status. In I96O and I96I additional 
divisions were reduced to brigades, but since diversions to agriculture 
diminished, this was presumably to provide smaller, more manageable 
formations for the infiltration then underway into Laos, and in prospect 
for South Vietnam. In sum, with Bloc aid, the DRV more than doubled its 
effective infantry divisions from 6 in 195^ to l^t- by 1962, U.S. intel- 
ligence credited the PAVN in 195^4- with the capability, by concentrating 
all its resources on a single objective, of mounting an attack of limited 
duration using three divisions supported by direct artillery fire. By 
1961, the U.S. rated the North Vietnam Army (IWA) as capable of a five 
division offensive backed by substantially greater logistic and combat 
support, including indirect artillery fires. 89/ The U.S. did not know 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number; NND 63316. By: NWD Date; 201 1 



with certainty rauch further concerning the quality or quantity of 
Bloc aid during this period. Reports of the presence in North Vietnam 
of Soviet-design small arms^ artillery _, tanks^ and trucks were received 
regularly by U.S. intelligence^ but the proportion of these which were 
supplied by the Chinese could not be established. U.S. estimates held . ■ 
that Soviet aid predominated up until about 19^0^ and that thereafter 
Hanoi looked increasingly to Peking for supply of such items^ as well 
as for ammunition of all types. 90/ By 1964 _, except for some remaining 
stocks of French weapons^, all MA mortars and recoilless rifles were 
reported to be of Chinese manufacture. Similarly^ small arms such as 
SKS 7-62 mm rifles and K-53 and K-^k 7.62 mm machine guns^ though of 
Russian design^ were thought to have been supplied by China. For heavier^ 
more complex items (e.g._, armored vehicles^ heavy artillery^ antiaircraft 
systems^ aircraft^ and the like)^ the DRV remained dependent on the 

3- The French. Arms 

In South Vietnam,; the most significant military develop- 
ment in the immediate aftermath of Geneva was the withdrawal of the 
200^000 men of the French Expeditionary Corps by 1956^ apparently 
removing with them an estimated $200 million worth of undetermined 
kinds of military equipment from $1^308 million in I/QDAP materiel fur- 
nished them by the United States dirring the period 1950-195^. How 
precisely this dravr-down affected the ceilings envisaged by Articles 
l6 and 17 of the Agreement was^ of course^ never established. 9l/ The 
attention of the DRV and the ICC thereafter was fixed on the Republic of 
Vietnam's Armed Forces (RVNAF)^ and upon the United States military 
assistance program for RVMF. 

4. RVNAF Revitalized 

The French brought the Vietnamese Army into being in 19^8^ 
its strength in 19^9 being reported as 25^000^ led by French officers 
and noncommissioned officers. 02/ That strength rose eight-fold during 
the war^ to 50^000 in 1950; 657^00 in 1951; 150^000 in 1953; and 200,000 
in 195^; including I5OO navy and 3500 air- force personnel. Dien Bien Phu 
and its aftermath resulted in widespread desertions, especially from 
Vietnamese units being moved from north to south during the regroupment. 93/ 
Thereafter, under urging from the U.S., French officers and noncommissioned 
leaders were withdrawn, and a combined UoS. -French training mission was 
established to develop the national army. New force structures for mili- 
tary and paramilitary forces evolved, with particular emphasis upon head- 
quarters, staffs, and logistic units. Strengths for the Republic of 
Vietnam Armed Forces (RV1\[AF), for the same years given above for DRV 
armed forces, were as follows: 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


Trends in GTN Armed Strength 9^/ 
(in thousands) 

Army Navy Mar Corps AF 


1955 170 2.2 


136 h.3 

1963 192 6.7 








Provincial Coastal 

Forces Forces Militia Total 


• • • 


• • 

• • 


• • 




9h 384 

A sampling of arms is represented below: 
U.S. Army I'/LAP Ordnance in Vietnam 95/ 


ted Items) 







FI 50-54 

1 Jan 58 

30 Nov 63 

FY" 55-6^- 

Carbine^ 30 cal 





Rifle^ 30 cal 

111, 667 


122, 166 


1 Rifle ^ BAR 






77, 342 



61, 961 

MGj ' 30 cal 





■ RE; 57 nim 






;iow^ 105 mm 


170 ■ 



EoWy 155 mm 





Mort_; 60 mm 





Mort^ 81 ram 





Mort, 4.2 in 






Tank, light 





■ Armored Car 







Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

. I' 



5. U.S. Aid: SEATQ 

The role of the United States in the training and equipping 
of these 'forces mirrored the misapprehensions of other aspects of* U.S. 
policy. In 19^4 Secretary of State Diilles had dra\m two principal les- 
sons from the First Indochina War: (l) that it vras impossible to support 
a belligerent in such a war unless he embodied the nationalistic aspira- 
tions of the people, and (2) collective action on behalf of that belli- 
gerent could not be drawn together amid the war. 96/ The first took 
the policy form of U.S. insistence upon a truly national army for South 
Vietnam; i.e. , an army entirely free of French command. The second 
materialized as the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. On 8 September 
1954, the U.S., U.K. and France joined with Australia, New Zealand^ 
Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand and agreed that: 9T/ 

Article IV 

I "1. "Each Party recognizes that aggression by means of 

armed attack in the treaty area against any of the parties 
or against any State or territory which the Parties by unani- 
mous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its 
own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event ac"G 
to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional 

I processes. ... 

"2. If, in the opinion of any of the Parties, the inviola- 
bility or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or 
political independence of any Party in the treaty area or of 
any other State or territory to which the provisions of para- 
graph 1 of this Article from time to time apply is threatened 
in any way other than armed attack or is affected or threatened 
by any fact or situation \rh±ch might endanger the peace of the 
area, the Parties shall consult iiiimediately in order to agree 
on the measures which should be taken for the conimon defense. 

"3. It is understood that no action on the territory of 
any State designated by unanimous agreement under paragraph 1 
of this Article or on any territory so designated shall be 
taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the 
government concerned. ..." 

By a Protocol to the SEATO Treaty, executed the same day, the Parties: 

"...unanimously designate for the purpose of Article IV 
of the Treaty the States of Cambodia and Laos and the free 
territory under the jurisdiction of the State of Vietnam " 

Shortly after SEATO was formed, the U.S. and France agreed on direct U.S. 
aid for the Diem government; a joint communique issued 29 September 
reflected the U.So belief that the French would remain a military power 
in South Vietnam: 98/ 




Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


"...In order to contribute to the security of the area 
pending the further development of national forces for this 
purpose^ the representatives of France indicated that France 
is prepared to retain forces of its Expeditionary Corps^ in 
agreement with the government concerned^ v^ithin the limits 
permitted under the Geneva Agreements^ and to an extent to 
be determined. o . .The channel for French and United States 
economic aid^ budgetary support^ and other assistance to 
each of the Associated States will be direct to that state.. 


On 23 October 195^^ President Eisenhower^ in a letter to Diem^ offered 
"to assist the Government of Vietnam in developing and maintaining a 
strong^ viable state^ capable of resisting attempted subversion or 
aggression through military means." 99/ Direct U.S. military assistance 
to Diem began in early 1955 . As mentioned above^ by springy 1956^ the 
French military command had been dissolved^ and the Expeditionary Corps 
withdrawn^ so that the U.S. thereafter alone bore the principal burdens 
of assisting the GVW to build its defenses. 

6. U.S. Aid: MAP " 

U.S. policy on how RVMF should develop vacillated accord- 
ingly. Initially^ we considered that the French forces and the SEATO 
mantle would suffice for the purposes of shielding the GVN from external 
aggression^ and that as Lt. General John W. ("Iron Mike") 0' Daniel; 
Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group^ put it in February^ 
1955: 100/ 

"The (Vietnajiiese) Army will be above all; according to 
American ideas on the subject; a police force capable of 
spotting Communist guerrillas and Communist efforts at infil- 

The withdrawal of the French Expeditionary CorpS; however; cast RVNAF 
in a new role; and demanded they be prepared for conventional combat; 
capable of staving off an attack from the North until U.So and SEATO 
aid co-old be landed. 10 1/ In June; 1956;^ in the wake of the French 
withdrawal; General 0' Daniel reported to the American Friends of Vietnam 
that: 102/ ^ - 

"The Vietnamese Army is novr organized into regiments and 
divisions. In case of an armed attack by the Vietminh from 
the North; it is capable of effecting enough delay to allow 
for additional forces to be employed in time to save the 
country. ..." 

To this threat MAAG turned its attention from 1955 to I96O; v;ith such 
success that General 'Daniel's successor; Lt. General Samuel T. ("Hanging 
Sam") Williams could justifiably assert (on the occasion of his retirement 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


in August, i960) that: IO3/ 

"in 195^ the Coimnunist army of North Vietnam could have ^ 
crossed the seventeenth parallel and walked into Saigon 
standing up. Today if they tried it, they would have one . ■ 
nasty fight on their hands." 

The Army of Vietnam (ARVN) assumed American foims, with divisions, 
corps headquarters, and general staffs — an "upgrading" which appealed 
to the Vietnamese military, denied such pretensions under the French. 
Although the ^'iAAG continued to recognize a requirement for assisting 
ARVN capabilities against guerrillas and infiltrators, the primary 
efforts of American and Vietnamese soldiers alike were directed toward 
improving conventional defense capability through I96O, and ARVN became 
mechanized, ponderous, road bound, and preoccupied with its supply and 
staffing functions. 10^/ ' Indeed, MAAG viewed ARVN "pacification" duties 
as an obstruction to progress. The internal security of the nation 
devolved upon two paramilitary forces: the Self- Defense Corps, and the 
Civil Guard; U.S. aid for both of which comprised an unhappy chapter in 
the U.S.-GVN relationship. The Self-Defense Corps (SDC) was created in 
April, 1956, as a village militia, and received U.S. assistance from the 
MAAG in the form of funds and shoulder arms. Training of the SDC was 
left to ARVN. The Civil Guard (CG) was established in April 1955, as a 
paramilitary force x/hich was to operate under the province chiefs. 
American aid to the CG was provided through a group from Michigan State 
University under contract to both the U.S. and the GYN- Its organisation, 
equipment, and utilization became a point of controversy almost at once: 
the Public Administration Division of the Michigan State group conceived 
of the CG as a rural constabuJIary, recruited locally, trained and equipped 
for police operations; Diem preferred a more military organization, 
heavier in equipment, and organized for sustained combat. In terms of 
later U.S. concepts of "counterinsurgency, " the early judgment of the 
MSU group was probably correct: a rural constabulary close to the people 
might have helped Diem meet the early challenges of the insurgency, 
especially in the field of intelligence. However, with MAAG support, 
Diem's ideas prevailed, and the CG became a force competitive to ARVN. 
In actuality both the SDC and the CG were quite ineffective in providing 
internal security. Their arms, equipm^ent and training were rudimentary. 
ARVN used its training responsibilities for them as a dumping groujid for 
inept officers. Through them, however, U-S. small arms were channeled 
into the countryside, there to augment the arsenals of dissidents. And ■ 
the behavior of these ill-prepared levies probably did little to enhance 
GVN rapport with the farmers. IO5/ 

From the outset, the American aid program for South Vietnam 
was overwhelmingly military. There was doubtless, always a limit to how 
much economic and other non-military aid the GVN needed, wanted, or 
could efficiently absorb, but primary emphasis in UoS. aid programs from 
the outset vms placed upon secui'ity -- with Diem's agreement, as his 
1956 letter (supra.) indicates. In the first few years, about 70^ of 
all U.S. aid was for the security establisbxaent . 10 6/ About 8ofo of 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


non-military economic aid was furnished in the form of "commodity 
imports/' an arrangement in which the U.S. purchased imports for 
Vietnamese who paid for them in Vietnamese currency into a "counter- 
part fund." The counterpart fionds^ in turn^ vrere made available for 
support of the CPm budget ~ in I956, 51^ of all GVN expenditures 
were for defense. 

7» Jmplicat ions : U.S. Role 

Much criticism leveled at U.S. assistance for the GVN 
has cited its military character as evidence that the U.S. deliberately 
tondermined or ignored the Geneva Settlement. SEATO has been similarly 
suspect^ its forraation having drav-Ti an immediate DRV protest to the 
ICC in September 195^^ that the treaty violated Article I9 of the 
"Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities..." forbidding alliances. 107 / 
However; U.S. official records reveal that the nature and direction of 
U.S. aid programs _j with their emphasis on security^ were dictated by 
no conscious effort to contravene the Settlement^ but by the desires of 
the GVNy and by a mutual adjustment to the circi:mistances of French with- 
drawal. In late I95U, J. Lawton Collins, the U.S. Special Representative 
in Vietnam, recommended an ARVN of 77,000 and reported the French willing 
to have MAAG expand slowly beyond the Settlement-fixed mid-195^ level of 
3^2. 108/ The JCS initially (September, 195^) viewed the Settlement as ■ 
too restrictive, and enjoined against MAAG's accepting the mission of 
training RVMF. However, Defense eventually took the view that while 
State Department would have to rule on a possible increase in MAAG 
strength, its 3^2 personnel were probably "capable of furnishing training 
assistance to develop Army and Navy internal security forces...- The 
build-up of DRV forces was perceived, and the JCS view was that this 
threat entailed retention of at least four divisions of French forces in 
the South until they could be replaced by combat effective RVMF divisions. I09/ 
There followed a period of about six months, December 195^ to May 1955:^ in 
which the U.So goverro-aent debated within its councils whether or not to 
throw its entire support behind Ngo Dinh Diem, or to seek alternatives. 
However, while this debate was in progress, the U.S. followed through in 
adopting direct aid to GVN, and in -ex-tending its advisory effort V7ith ARW 
to replace i'^ench advisors -- steps explained as authorized by the Geneva 
Agreement in terms of rotation of personnel, and of ijnplementing a I95O 
pentalateral agreement for military aid among the U.S., France, Laos, 
Cambodia, and Vietnam. IIO / Ultimately, Ngo Dinh' Diem' s success in breaking 
the power of the sects, as well as the inability of Americans to identify 
other leaders for the GVN, won him unequivocal American political support 
and agreement to support an RVIIAF of about 150,000. Thus buttressed. Diem 
refused to open consultations on the plebescite in July 1955; Q^d in. 
October held an election of his own in which Bao Dai was deposed, and 
himself installed as head of state of the GVN. Diem then felt confident 
in requesting the French to remove their forces from Vietnam. The French 
withdrawal came certainly before ARVN was ready to replace the Expeditionary 
Corps divisions, and created urgency for M/\AG to help develop niinijnal con- 
ventional defense capabilities. 


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8. Implications: DRV and GW Protests 


By the summer of 1955, the unfolding of U.S.-GVN policy pror^pted 
the DRV to appeal directly to the Co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference. 
In a letter of August 1?, 1955. H^am Van Dong, DRV Prime Minister, insisted 
that "the political question in Vietnam should be settled according to the 
Geneva Agreements," and requested the U.S.S.R. and the U.K. to 'take all 
necessary measures in order to guarantee observance.... m / This^re- 
quest was indorsed by the Chinese on October 31? 1955? and referred in 
November by the Co-chairmen to other members of the Geneva Conference for 
comment. The DRV promptly called for reconvening the Geneva Conference; 
the CPR quickly supported the demand. On February l8, 195^, the U.S.S.R. 
concurred, and proposed to the U.K. the si:iminoning of a new Conference. 
The DRV call was based principally upon accusations that the GVN was frus- 
trating execution of the political provisions of the Settlement, but a^ 
U.S.S.R. note to the U.K. added the charge that in South Vietnairi, foreign 
military bases are being set up and attempts are being made to include 
South Vietnam in a military bloc." The U.K. responses were cool ^ to the 
idea that a reconvened Geneva Conference "would necessarily provide the 
quickest or most satisfactory means of reaching agreement," and on April 9, 
1956, the U.K. made public'a note to the U.S.S.R. rejecting its accusations 
concerning military bases and blocs, and countercharging "massive military 
expansion in the North," noting that while French troops had been withdrawn . 
from the South, the army -in North Vietnam had been increased from 7 to 20 
(sic) divisions since 195U. 112/ The U.K. further took the position that 
the GVN was not boimd by the Geneva Agreements. The outcome vras a letter 
from the Co-chairmen to the DRV and the GVN enjoining cooperation ^ to keep 
the peace, and asking notification when the recipients felt the time pro- 
pitious for consultations preliminary to plebescite. 

' In July, 1959, the government of South Vietnam published a 
White Paper, summarizing the "violations of the Geneva Agreements^ by the 
Viet Minh cominunists." II3 / In it the "authorities ^^of the North were 
charged with a "policy of aggression and subversion," in that contrary 
to their 195^ pledges, they obstructed the movements of refugees, conducted 
widespread destruction and sabotage in South Vietnam, introduced large ^ 
quantitites of arms and ammunition into North Vietnam, and with communist 
cadres in South Vietnam pursued a -scheme to overthrow the Republic of Viet- 
nam. The GVN claimed that between September, 195^b and June, 1959? a^total 
of 3,561 caches of arms and ammunition had* been discovered in South Viet- 
nam, of which 303 had been reported to the ICC. Although the 303^ most 
important" caches so reported contained only 679 rifles, 1^2 machine guns, 
182 mortars, 49 pistols, and assorted mines, grenades and other ^ munitions, 
the govermnent of South Vietnam construed these to convey "the ^ intention 
of further attacks against the national government. .. in violation of the 

Agreements " It noted that the United Kingdom had cited in I956 an 

increase in the DRV armed forces from 7 to 20 divisions and evoked the 
1958 denunciation of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs for the DRV*s 
increasing its military strength from a 195^^ total of 200,000 to 550,000. 
The \lh±te Ps-per castigated Hanoi for "introducing 600 to 7OO Chinese instruc- 
tors" and noted that "the number of Russian and Chinese advisors amounts 
to several thousand in all echelons of the Army." Noting that the Geneva 
Accords had proscribed using one zone for conducting of aggression against 


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the other, the GW condemned what were termed "national movements, such 
as 'Patriotic Front/ 'United Front/ or 'Fatherland Front/ /which/ were 
in reality of communist inspiration. . .simply and solely directing communist 
propaganda and subversive agencies in the zone controlled by the national 
government." It claimed that responsive to orders from Hanoi, these organi- 
zations were conducting a systematic campaign of terror and subversion. 
During the tv/o and one half years from 1957 through July, 1959? 17^ assassi- 
nations involving 10 servicemen, 20 civil guards, 65 village officials and 
59 civilians were reported by the GVN to the ICC. The White Paper concluded 
on the note that: 

"Contrary to their official declarations, the Viet-Minh 
. Communists have turned their back upon the interests of the Viet- 
namese people. 

"Is it a question of the reunification of the country? 
They have conceived of it as a simple subordination to Red Im- 
perialism. In North Vietnam, democratic liberties are scoffed 
at, sacred human rights trampled under foot. How could the 
Vietnamese people express their rea.l will under this reign of 
terror where liberty is nothing but a word? 

"Desirous to realize the reunification of the country through 
freedom and in freedom, the Government of the Republic of Viet- 
nam has repeatedly, but in vain, summoned the Communists to 
re-establish and respect the fundamental liberties to which 

human beings are entitled. This appeal was made in order to 
create a favorable atmosphere for really free general election 


"Not only are the Viet-Minh Communists enemies of democracy 
and freedom, but they continue to mobilize their forces to sabo- 
tage peace in this part of the world. 

"The unceasing reinforcement of the Communist armed forces, 
the importation, in great numbers, of arms and munitions into 
North Vietnam, secret arm and ammunition dumps left in the terri- 
tory of the Republic of Viet-Nam, subversive manoeuvres carried 
out by Communist cadres constitute tangible and irrefutable evi- 
dence of their deliberately aggressive intentions." 

9' Implications: ICC Impotence 

In the meantime, the ICC tried to engage the Geneva Conference 
machinery to provide a substitute for France in Vietnam, with no better suc- 
cess than the DRV. Acting on an ICC report, the U.K. made representations 
to the GVN in December, 1955, on behalf of the ICC, but received no reply 
until April, 1956, in which the GVN promised to cooperate with the ICC, 
but again declined to accept responsibility for the Geneva Settlement. In 
May, 1956, the Co-chairmen asked the ICC to remain functioning beyond its 
contemplated termination in July, I956, despite the informality of its re- 
lations with the GVN, The ICC agreed, on May 27, 1956, to "continue deal- 
ing with the parties concerned on the basis of 'status quo.'" 11^1-/ "Status 
quo" by that time involved the ICC directly with the U.S. aid program. For 
example, in April, 1956, the GVN notified the ICC through the French that it 
had accepted a U.S. proposed to augment the U.S. MAAG in May 1956, with a 
350-member group to be called the Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission (TERl-l), 
tasked to assist in the evacuation of U.S. military equipment and supplies left 


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behind upon the French withdrawal. Despite an ICC request to delay 
deployment while the matter was under advisement^ TEM personnel 
arrived on schedule^ and without ICC sanction. In 1957 the ICC pro- 
tested the circumstances of TEfM's introduction^ but was content v^ith 
requesting a periodic report of its activities, II5/ The same 1957 
report delivered an ICC opinion that SEATO was not a U.S.-GW alliance 
prescribed by the Geneva Settlement^ and a I958 report put the ICC on 
record (the Polish member dissenting) that the GVN might be given "credit" 
for the war material withdrawn by the French prior to 30 June 1956 in 
accepting like equipm_ent from the U.S. 11 6 / A 1959 report ruled that 
Bien Hoa was not a new military base^ and authorized TEM to remain until 
31 December I96O. In I96O the ICC acceded to an increase in the MAAG 
from 3^2 to 685 personnel. 11T/ 

Nonetheless^ it is clear on the record that U.S. and GVN 
cooperation with the ICC was little more than pro forma . Convinced that 
the ICC was inpotent in inhibiting the behavior or restricting the 
arming of the DEV^ both the^U.S. and the GVN pursued their goals without 
serious regard for the fixed levels of arms envisaged at Geneva^ or for 
attempts by the ICC to regulate arms. Both governments appreciated that 
the inability of the other Geneva Conference powers to concert action^ 
well demonstrated in the spring of I956, constituted international con- 
donement of status quo in Vietnam^ and v;hile both apparently preferred 
to avoid controversy with the ICC; neither was disposed to consider the 
ICC or the Settlement it guarded as other than a secondaiy consideration ■ 
to GVN security. 

E. The Situation in I956 

On June 1, I956; a prestigious group of citizens assembled in 
Washington as the "American Friends of Vietnam." They heard Senator 
John F. Kennedy characterize Vietnam as: II8/ 

"(l)...the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast 
Asia^ the keystone in the arch^ the finger in the dike... The 
fundamental tenets of this nation's foreign policy; in short; 
depend in considerable measure upon a strong and free Viet- 
namese nation- 

"(2). . .Vietnam represents a proving ground of democracy in 
Asia... the alternative to Comm-onist dictatorship. If this 
democratic experiiaent fails^ if some one million refugees have 
fled the totalitarianism of the North only to find neither 
freedom nor security in the South; then weakness; not strength; 
will characterize the meaning of democracy in the minds of 
still more Asians, . . . 

"(3). . .Vietnam represents a test of American responsibility 
and determination in Asia. If we are not the parents of little 


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Vietnam_j then siirely ve are the godparents .•. If it falls victim 
to any of the perils that threaten its existence. • .our prestige 
in Asia will sink to a new low. 

"(^)...The key position of Vietnam in. Southeast Asia... 
makes inevitable the involvement of this nation's security 
in any new outbreak of trouble." 

Senator Kennedy was followed by Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary 
of State for Ear Eastern Affairs, who declared that the U.S. sought: 119 / 

"To support a friendly non- Communist government in 
Vietnam and to help it diminish and eventually eradicate 
Communist subversion and influence. 

"To help the government of Vietnam establish the forces 
necessary for internal security. 

"To encourage support for Free Vietnam by the non- 
Commimist world. 

"To aid in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of a 
country and people ravaged by eight ruinous years of civil 
and international v/ar. 

"Our efforts are directed first of all toward helping 
sustain the internal security forces consisting of a 
regular army of about 150,000 men, and mobile civil guard 
of some ^1-5,000 and local defense units which are being 
formed to give protection against subversion on the village 
level. ..." 

Dr. Tom Dooley described emotionally the plight of the refugees from 
North Vietnam, and sketched in graphic terms Viet Minh terrorism. 
Professor Hans Morganthau extolled the Geneva Settlement and status 
quo in Vietnam as a logical balancing of the interests of the powers 
concerned, and General 'Daniel described how the Vietnamese had been 
given the opportunity to select the type of military organization they 
like best, and had "follovred the U.S. pattern." 120 / 

But from Saigon, Ngo Dinh Diem addressed a sober, reflective 
letter to the American Friends of Vietnam on the note that Ve have 
arrived at a critical point in our national life." He concluded with 
the assertion that: "it is indispensable that our army have the where- 
withal to become increasingly capable of preserving the peace which we 
seek. .. .Economic aid can be only effective once security is restored.... 121/ 

From Hanoi to the peoples of Southeast Asia, a commentary on the 
1 June conference in VJashington was broadcast in Vietnamese headlines: 



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"The American Colonialists Are the Most Dangerous Enemy of the People." 122 / 
The commentary castigated the Ajnerican Friends of Vietnam for supporting 
Diem in "his sabotage of the Geneva Accords and opposition to the clauses 
relative to free general elections to unify the country. It is obvious 
that this association is an organization formed by the American imperi-' 
alists to more cynically and bluntly intervene in the South...." and 
called for solidarity against the American intrusion. 

However^ July 20^ 1956_, the date the Geneva Conference had indi- 
cated for the plebescite on reunif ication,, passed without incident. 
Years later^ when controversy over the failure of the Geneva Settlement 
raged anew^ the U.S^ would point to the subseq.uent behavior of the DRV 
to demonstrate that its judgment was quite correct in arming the GVI^^ 
aiding the refugees,, and insisting with Diem that conditions permitting 
free elections did not exist in North Vietnam. 123/ But in that summer 
of 1956^ most such arguments appeared to be settled to the satisfaction 
of all parties except Ho Chi Minh. 



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1. Public Statement of President Eisenhower of 21 July 195^ (White House 
Press Release that date; of Under Secretary Smith in Pichard P. 
St ebb in s^ , The United States in World Affairs, 195h , (New York: 
Harper & Bros., I956), 255. 

The Administration was severely criticized in public. Senator Lyndon 
B. Johnson, for example, while the conference was in session on the 
eve of Dien Bien Phu's fall, asserted that: "American foreign policy 
has never in all its history suffered such a stunning reversal. . .We 
stand in clear danger of being left naked and alone in a hostile 
world." New York Times , May 7, 195^. Anthony Eden, Toward Peace in 
Indochina , (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, I966), ix-13- The Administra- 
tion analysis of public record is in Secretary Dulles, Department of 
State Press Release No, ^00, July 23, I95U. For "inner councils" see 
OCB, "Progress Report on United States Objectives and Courses of 
Action with Respect to Southeast Asia," NSC 5^05, August 6, 195^0 TS; 
and, NSC, "Review of U.S. Policy in the Far East" (NSC 5^29, August k, 
195^) TS. 

2* U.S. Department of State telegrams, 

DULTE 187 from Geneva, I6 June 195^ (TS) 

SECTO 553 from Geneva, 2 July 195^ (TS) 

Dillon 32 from Paris, 2 July 195^ (TS) 

SECTO 632 from Geneva, 17 July 195^ (TS) . 

SECTO 638 from Geneva^ I8 July I95I4 (TS) ■ 

SECTO 6^5 from Geneva, I8 July 19^k (TS) 

Jean Lacouture and Philippe Devillers, La Fin d^Une Guerre: Indochina 
195^ (Paris: Editions du Seuil, I960), 234^236, 238^239, 265^ 

3. Statement of Tran Van Do in George McTurnan Kahin and John W. Lewis, 
ed., The United States in Vietnam (New York: Delta, I966), 37^- 
U.S. Department of State, telegrams. No. 2757 from Paris, April 29, 
195^; SECTO 654 and 655 from Geneva, I8 July 195^; and SECTO 673 from 
Geneva, I9 July 195^ • "Ngo Dizih Diem on Elections in Vietnam," 
(July 16, 1955) in Marvin E. Gettleman, ed,, Vietnam (New York: • 
Fawcett, I965), 193-19^. 

4. "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam, July 20, 195^^" 
in U.S. Congress, Senate, Background In for mation Relating to Southeast 
Asia and Vietnam , Committee on Foreign Relations, 90^^ Congress, 1st 
Session, Committee Print, 3^ Revised Edition (Washington: GPO, July, 
1967), 50-62. 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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5- Ibid ,, 53. 

6» "Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference/^ Ibid . j 8l. 

7. Department of State telegrams SECTO 632 and 6^5 of IT and I8 July,' 
195^^ respectively. 

8. p. J. Honey quotes pham's remarks to this effect to a Vietnamese 
friend of Honey's, in Communism in North Vietnam (Cambridge, MIT 
press, 1963), 6. Also, U.S. Department of State, "Viet Minh Reac- 
tions to ladochina Settlement," (intelligence Brief, 5 August 195^)^ 
C, in U.S. Interagency Intelligence Committee, "The North Vietnamese 
Role in the Origin, Direction and Support of the War in South Vietnam" 
(DIAAP-4, May, I967) S, Draft, Supporting Documents, Vol. 1, No. 15; 

, and Robert Shaplen, The Lost Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, I965), 
137-138. N. B., Ellen Hammer quotes Pham Van Dong to exactly the 
opposite: "Make no mistake, those elections will be held." Ellen T. 
Hammer, Th e Struggle for Indochina (Stanford: Stanford University, 
Press, 1966), 3k^. 

9. Bernard B. Fall, ed.. Ho Chi Minh On Revolution (New York: Praeger, 
1967), 272. 

10. Donald lancaster, "Power Politics at the Geneva Conference 195^j " in 
Gettleman, ed., Viet Nam , op. clt ., 13^; Department of State telegram 
SECTO 633 from Geneva, July 17, 19^h, S. 

11. U.S. Department of State, "Verbatim Minutes of Geneva Conference," 
21 July 195!;, VerbMin/8, 3^7-3^8. 

12. The French National Assembly ratified on h June 195^ two treaties, one 
providing for independence for Vietnam, the other for Vietnam's associ- 
ation as an equal with France in the French Union. The latter per- 
mitted Vietnam to determine subsequently the extent of association. 
The former recognized Vietnam "as a fully independent and sovereign 
State invested with all the competence recognized by international law." 
Vietnam agreed to assume France's part -"in all the rights and obliga- 
tions resulting from international treaties or conventions contracted 
by France on behalf or on account of the State of Vietnam or of any 
other treaties or conventions concluded by France on behalf of French 
Indochina insofar as those acts concern Vietnam." U.S. Department of 
State, Verbatim Minutes of the Geneva Conference, VerbMin/j (May 12, 
195^); 99-101. Department of State telegram, Dulles to Paris, ^398, 
June h, 1955, (TS). 

13. E.g. , George T. McT. Kahin, "Excerpts from National Teach- In on 
Viet Nam policy," in Marcus G. Raskin and Bernard B. Fall, ed.. 
The Viet Nam Reader (New York: Vintage, I965), 291j also, Kahin and 
Lewis, The United States in Vietnam, op. cit ., 56-57* 


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I 1^- CF. U.S. Department of Defense Memorandum for Mr. Haydn Williams^ 

from the Office of the General Counsel^ "The Geneva Accords of 195^ 
and the Introduction of U.S. Combat and Logistic Forces into 
Vietnam" (26 October I961) TS, which holds that: "Vietnam^ although 
not a signatory to the cease-fire Agreement in question is^ on the 
other hand^ bound by its ter^ns"; and^ U.S. Department of State,, 
"Legal Basis for U.S. Military Aid to South Vietnam/' Vietnam Infor- 
mation Notes No. 10 (August 1967)^ vj^hich holds differently. Also^ 
. John Norton Moore^ "The lawfulness of Military Assistance to the 
Republic of Vietnam^" American Journal of International Law ^ Vol. 6l^ 
No. 1 (January, 1967)^ 2-4; and Honey, op. cit ,, 40-^ 

15. U.S. Department of State, telegram, Dillon 5035 from Paris, June 2^, 
195^^:, TS; B.S.N. Murti, Vietnam Divided (New York: Asia Publishing 
House, 196^):, 176-177; Moore, op. cit., 3 (n.7)- 

16. Philippe Devillers, "The Struggle for Unification of Vietnam," in 
Gettleman, ed,, Vietnam , op. cit ., 217-218; and Bernard B. Eall, 
"How the French Got Out of Vietnam," in The Viet-Nam Reader , op. cit ., 

17.. Dennis Warner, The Last Confucian (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 19^^)^ 
9^-95; U-So Department of State, telegrams as follows: 

Paris i^8l, 5 August 195^ 
. State to Paris for Dulles, TEDUL l4, 22 October 195^ 

Manila SECTO 50, 1 March. I955 

Saigon h66l, I9 April I955 

Paris U396, 9 April 1955 

Paris 4576, 21 April 1955 
^ Paris 11780, 2k April 1955 

Also, CIA, National Intelligence Estimate, "Possible Developments in 
South Vietnam" (NIE 63I-2-55, 26 April 1955)j, TS; Memorandum for the 
Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) from his Deputy, "Programs for 
the Implementation of U.S. Policy Toward South Vietnam," (13 April 
1955)^ IS; JCS Memorandum for Secretary of Defense, "Indochina (Viet- 
nam)" (9 May 1955); IS; Staff Study, Osb/lSA, 13 April 1955. "Programs 
for the Jiiiplementation of U.S. Policy Toward South Vietnam," TS. 

18. CIA, Current Intelligence Week ly Review , I6 December 195^^ 9-11- 

19. Ibid ., and issues for 11 October 195^, 11 November 195^.? 20 January 
1955, and 5 May 1955- Also, CIA National Intelligence Estimate, 
"Probable Developments in North Vietnam to July 195^" (NIE 63.1-55j. 
19 July 1955); S, 9-10. 

- 20. CIA, Current Intelligence Week-ly Review , 5 May 1955; Fart I. 

21. Ibid., 16 December 195^. ' . " 


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22. Report of the Saigon Military Mission^ 195^-1955 (Lansdale Report)^ S. 

23, Reported in the Nev York Times (March 5^ 195^)^ and Economist 
(March IT, 1956). 

2^. See Report in. Manchester Guardian , March 5; 195D' 

25. Hammer, op. cit, , 3^2-3^-^^ 3^6; P. J. Honey, ed.. North Vietnam Today 
(New York: Praeger, 19^2 ), 30-32; Kahin and Lewis, op> cit ., 85-86> 

26. Quoted in Gettleman, ed., Vietnam , op. eit ., 193-19^^- U.S. Congress, 
Committee Print. 

27. Background Information... , op. cit ., 83. 

28. U.S. Dept. of State, telegram. Secretary Dulles to Paris No. 77^ 
7 Jvly I95U (S). Also, President Eisenhower quoted in B. Fall, 
"How the French Got Out of Vietnam," op. cit ., 89; U.S. Dept. of 
State, Memorandum dated 5 May 1955, "U.S. Views on All Vietnam 
Elections," (s), in Dept of State Research Memorandum, "The Shift 
in the United States Position Towards Vietnamese Elections Under 

■ the Geneva Accords," (RM-765; 1 Sept I965), (S); Dept. of State 
Memorandum of Conversation between Senator Mike Mansfield and 
Assistant Secretary of State Walter B. Robertson, 7 Dec 195^, (TS). 

29. OCB, "Progress Report...," NSC 5^05, op. cit ., and "Review of UcSc 
Policy in the Far East," NSC '5^29, op. cit . Also, CIA, National 
Intelligence Estimate, "Post-Geneva Outlook in Indochina," (NIE 
63-5-5^^, 3 August 195^0 (S), 1, 4, 6. 

30. Dept of State, "U.S. Views on All Vietnam Elections," op. ci t. 

31. Ibid., Dept. of State M-765, "The Shift in UoS. Position...," op- cit . 

32. There were DRV comraunications with the GVN on this subject July, 1955; 
May and June, I956; July, 1957; March, I958; July, 1959; and July, 
i960. Phillipe Devillers, in Honey, ed.. North Vietnam Today , op. 
cit ., 30-33. CIA, NSC Briefing for 12 July 1955; CIA, Current Intel - 
ligence \Ieeiaj Review (7 July 1955); B.S.N. Mui'ti, Vietnam Divided , 
op. cit ., I8l-l8^r; 

33. Devillers, in Honey, ed.. North Vietnam Today , loc. cit.; Murti, op. 
cit ,, 176; CIA, NIE 63".2-5T (1^ May 195T). op. cit. ,"57 

34 . Documents Relating to British Involvement in the Indochina Conflict , 
195^- .'^-1965 , Misc. No. 25 (London; HMSO, 19^5)^ 124--125. 

35. CIA, Memorandum for the Record, 8 February 1957; Murti, op. cit., 

- 176-177; John Norton Moore, op. cit ., 3; n.7- United Nations 5General - 
Assembly, Official Records , Eleventh Session, Special Political Cormnittee 
(18th Meeting, 2k January 1957, a/spc/sr.18) ,79-80. 


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36. American Friends of Vietnam^ America's Stake in Vietnam (New York; 
Carnegie Press_, 1956)^ 6^. 

37. NSC 5612/1 (September, 1956)3 NSC 5809 (2 April 1958)- The First 
Indochina War culminated in Viet Minh military victory and the 
Geneva Conference of 195^, "but during it a Vietnamese government 
under. Bao Dai, like Ho Chi Minh's DRV claiming dominion over all 
the Vietnamese, but Nationalist^ anti-Communist, and French- 
supported, came into being. From 19^9 on, this nascent state 
provided the political alternative to the DRV; it vas Bao Dai's 
regime which inherited South Viet Nam, and a count erclam to a 

•unified nation, after the 195^ Geneva settlement. (Fall, The Two 
Viet Nams , op. cit ., 210-223). 

The United States recognized Bao Dai's regime, the CN^y on j 

February 7, I95O. We had no relations with tne DRV, although for 
six months after the departure of the French from the DRV in 1955^ 

we maintained a vice-consulate in Hanoi, withdrawing it after I 

persistent DRV isolation and harassment. Since, the United States \ 

has maintained fioll relations with GVN, but not even a postal . \ 

exchange with the DRV. ( ibid .) I9I, 19^). However, although no ; 

formal U.S. recognition has been extended, we have acknowledged DRV \ 

sovereignty, at first implicitly, and then, after 1962, explicitly. 
At the Geneva Conference in 195^, the U.S. "oDserver" related U.S. 
policy toward the DRV to that we have pursued re North Korea and 
East Germany. U.S. recognition of, consistent relations with, and 
increasingly strong support of the GW after Geneva, vrere not accom- 
panied by public policy statements more directly aimed at changing 
the status quo in North Viet Nam than that 195^ position. However, 
national policy papers of the period included the more ambitious 
objectives quoted. 

38. Ho on Revolution, op. cit ., 298-299; also Central Intelligence Agency, 
Current Intelligence Weekly Review (lO May 1956). Ho 's statement 
may also have been an answer to Kruschev's 11 April 1956 speech on 
"peaceful competition"; Cf. U.S. Dept. of State, Soviet World Outlook 
(Publication 6836, July 1959), 98. 

39. "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam," in U.S. 
Congress, Background Information... , op. cit. , 5^« 

i|-0. The table is from Fourth Interim Report of the Intern ational Com- 
mission fo r Supervision a n d Control in Vietnam (April 11, 1955 to 
August 10, 1955)- ( London : HMSO, 1955X 30, App. IV. Cf. B.S.N. 
Murti, op. cit., 88-9I. The U.S. Dept of State's "V/liite Paper" of 
1965 entitled Aggression from the North mentioned "more than 900,000 
refugees" who fled from North Viet Nam. a/ Bernard Fall has used 
the figure 860,000 in his books and essays; b/ Fall also has 
reported that the French transported 610,000 refugees South, c/ The 


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U.S. Navy alone moved 310^8^f-8 refugees in "Operation Exodus _, " d/ 
and although U.S. National Intelligence Estimates in 1955 mention 
650^000 refugees from the North^ e/ a U.S. Department of State 
review of the issue in 1957 put the total at "nearly 900,000;" 
the current (196^) National Intelligence Survey refers to "nearly 
a million." f/ No better estimate is likely to be taken,, given the 
paucity of reliable records. 

a/ U.S. Dept. of State, "Aggression from the North," Bullet in , 

March 22, I965, 4o4-425 (esp Part V), reproduced in U.S. Congress^ 
Background Information... , op. cit ., 195- 

b/ Bernard B. Fall, The Two Viet Nams (New York: Praeger, Revised 
Edition, 196^), 153"15if, 358; Fall, Viet Nam Witness (New York: 
Praeger, I966), 76. 

c/ Fall, The T^vo Viet Nams , op. cit ., 15^; Fall, "How iiie French. . .," op. cit ., 88 

d/ U.S. Dept. of State, "infonTiation on Refugees in Vietnam," 
Interoffice Memorandum, 10 September 1957; Sp/fT-16; Report 
of CINCPACFLT in Richard W. Lindholjii, ed., Vietn a m, The First 
Five Years (Michigan State University Press, 1959); 63-76- 
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, History of Naval 
Operations, Vietnam (Naval History Division, June, 196^}; 87-98. 

ej U.S. Intelligence Board, NJE 63. 1-^5, "Probable Developments in 
North Vietnam Through July I956" (19 July 1955) SECRET; NIE 
63 •1-3-55 "Probable Developments in Vietnam to July 195^" 
(11 October 1955) SECRET. 

f/ U.S. State Department "infoi^mation on Refugees.-.," op. cit.; 
CIA, National Intelligence Survey, North Vietnam (NIS 43C, 
General Survey, July 19&i-}; iv. 

41. U.S. Dept. of State, "information on Refugees in Vietnam," op. cit . 

42. Chester A. Bain, Vietnam, The Roots of Conflict (New York: Prentice 
Hall, 1967); 120-121; cf . Bui Van Luong and Bernard Fall in 
Richard W. Lindholjn, ed., Viet Nam, The First Five Years , op. cit ., 
^1^-62; GVN, Directorate General of Information, Operation Exodus 
(Saigon: I959 ?), 20. 

43. U.S. Dept. of Army, Pamphlet 3gO-40, U.S. Aimy Area Handbook for 
Vietnam (Washington: GPO, 1962), 132-133; Bernard Fall, Tne Two 
Viet Nams , op. cit . , 15^ • 

44. lloan^ Van Chi, From Colonialism to Co mmunism (New York: Praeger, 
1964), 166-1^, 209-229. Hoang is a Vietnamese scholar and former 
Viet Minh cadre; Bernard B. Fall, The Viet-Minh Regime (New York: 
Institute of Pacific Relations, 19^)5), II8-I35; Bernard B. Fall, 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



Le Viet Minn (Paris: A. Colin, I960), IOI-IO5 {Mm Translation, 
Incl to L- 13^1- 39 of I9 Jvly I967); and George A. Carver, Jr., 
"The Faceless Viet Cong," Foreign Affairs (Vol H, No. 3, April, 
1966), 352-358. Tne proponent of these undertakings v?as Ho*s 
Sino-phile lieutenant Tryong Chinh; see Central Intelligence Agency, 
Biographic Handbook, Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, South Vietnam , 
(CIA/CR BH 6.6j, item on Truong dated I5 March I965; also Bernard B. 
Fall, ed.. Primer for Revolt (New York: Praeger, 1963):* XIX- XX; 
P. J. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 
1963), 11-1^, 32-35^ 45-46; and William Kaye, "A Bowl of Rice 
Divided, The Economy of North Vietnam," in P- J. Honey, ed.. North 
Vietnam Today (New York: Praeger, I962), IOT-IO8. For Ho's state- 
ment on Land Reform in late 1952, see Bernard B. Fall, ed.. Ho Chi 
Minh's Revolution , op. cit ., 258-269. 

45. The ICC source is Murti, op. cit ., 70-92. Thomas A. Dooley, Deliver 
Us From Evil , in Dr. Tom Dooley ^s Three Great Books (New York: Farrar, 
Straus Sc Cudahy, 19bO), 63-70, describes tne propaganda struggle. 
Also, Bernard Fall, Tne Tv^o Viet Nams , loc. cit ., Kahin and Lewis, 

0£. cit., 72"-75; Jean Lacouture, Vietnam: Between Two Truces (New 
York: Random House, I966), 102-10^^; Tne Lansdale role is described 
in the Report of the Saigon, Military Mission," ^. cit . 

46. Ibld .j Bain, op. cit .; CIA, NIS 43C, op. cit., 40.. 

47. CINCPACPLT, "Role of the United States Navy," in Richard ¥. LindhoLn, 
ed., Viet-Nam, The First Five Years (East Lansing, Mich: Michigan 
State University Press, 1959), 63-76. Part Two of ibid ., 45-104 
addresses "The Refugee Problem" in general, including the role of 
foreign aid, the GVN, and charitable organizations. Also, CIA, 
National Intelligence Survey, South Vietnam (NIS 43D, General Survey, 

■ April 1965), 21; U.s/ Dept of State "Information on Refugees in 
Vietnam," op. cit .; "United States Policy With Respect to Vietnam: 
Address by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, 
Washington, June 1, I956, " in U.S. Congress, Background Information... 
op. cit ., 92-95. The latter address by Walter S. Robinson was to the 
American Friends of Vietnam, and is included in America's Stake in 
Vietnam, op. cit ., 15-19; in ibid., are speeches by Dr. Dooley and 
Msgr Joseph J. Harnett on refugees, 36-^9 • Cf., Hammer, op. cit ., , 

48. E.g., Dooley, Deliver Us From Evil , op. cit .; Leo Cherne in Ajnerica's 
Stake in Vietnam , op. cit ., 22-27. Robert Sheer of Ramparts magazine 
presents an unsympathetic critique of Dooley, Cherne, et al, in "The 
Genesis of United States Support for Ngo Dinh Diem," reprinted in 
Gettleman, ed., Viet Nam , op. cit ., 235"253. 


49.- E.go , a mob of refugees' attacked the billets of the ICC in Saigon in 
Jiay, 1955, just before the consultations came due, in an apparently 
manipulated protest. These and other uses of refugees by the (jm 
are elaborated in below. 



1 I 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 



50. Frank N. Trager^ ¥hy Viet Nam ? (New York: Fraeger;, 1966)^ 97. 

51. U.S. Intelligence Advisory Committee^ Viet Minh Violations of the 
Geneva Agreements Through 3I December 19'^h ■ {JAC-D-93/^y 31 January 
1965)^ 5-8; Also, Anita L. Nutt, Troika on Trial (MS Study for OSD/ 
ISA; AEPA Contract SD-220, 1967)^ 4lQ-^?-19; CIA, Current Intelligence 
Weekly Review (12 August 195^), 8; CIA, NSC Briefing, 25 January 1955- 
the latter cites a Canadian priest as source for reports of serious 
fighting in Vinh, Nghe An and Ba I^ng,- Thanh Hoa Province. 

52. ICC, Fourth Interim Report... , op. cit ., 12. 

53. Ibid. , 11, 21, The Canadians reported 11,^22 first party petitions 
in the North, and not more than 1,000 in the South upon which no 
action had been taken as of I8 May 1955. 

5^. Ibid,, 12. 

55. Ibid , . ' 

56. Murti, op. cit ., 76-79; CIA, NSC Briefing, 25 Jan 55- 

57- ICC, Fourth Interim Report , op. cit. , 12-13, 23-24. The Canadian 
report includes the following: 

"The reports of the teams disclosed further that incidents of 
obstruction and hinderance made it difficult for them to complete 
their tasks effectively. A common experience was to encounter 
organized groups of persons presenting petitions about forced evacu- 
ation and demonstrating in a noisy and disorderly manner, with the 
effect that not only v/as the limited time available to the team for 
its investigation squandered, but also would-be evacuees were intimi- 
dated..,. In at least a dozen instances, intending evacuees were physi- 
cally molested by such hostile crowds and som.etimes forcibly dragged 
away before they had an opportunity of meeting the team. Team 56 on 
its visit to Ha Tinh on five occasions sav/ individuals physically 
molested and dragged by force from the presence of the team.... In our 
view this phenomenon was not a mere social manifestation but an 
organized plan. While it has been impossible for the Commission to 
prove that these measures were organized as a matter of policy by the 
. authority in control of the North, owing to the frequency and the 
common features of this form of obstruction in all provinces investi- 
gated there would seem to be little doubt that these obstructions and 
hinderances had been deliberately planned-.. it is still not possible 
to say whether all persons wishing to move from one zone to the other 

have been able to do so. 


. a 

58. EanmeTy op. cit ., 3^1-5; Robert Shaplen, The Lost Revolution (New 
York: Harper 8c Row, I965), 11^1-115; Murti, op. cit., 91-92. 

r - 

^1 TOP SECRET - SEWsrrr/E 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


/ ^ 

59- Fall; The Two Viet Nams ^ 154; Ellen HarQinerj Vietnam Yesterday and 
Today ^ l^g-l^Q. 

60. Eirst and Second Interim Reports of the International Coimnlssion for 
Supervision and Control in Vietnam ; Third Interim Report ^ and Eourth 
Interim Report ^ (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office,, May^ June 
and December 1955^ respectively)^ passim. Gf . Murti^ op. cit -^ 86-9O; 
and lAC; Viet Minh Violations , op. cit . 

61. p. J, Honey,, ed.^ North Vietnam Today ;, op. cit ., 8-9; Fall,, Le Viet 
Minh, op. cit .; Hoang, op. ci t., I66. Bernard B. Fall, Viet-Nam 
Witness (New York: Praeger, 1936), 96-98. 

62. U.S. Dept. of State, "information on Refugees in Vietnam," op. cit . 

63. Robert Scigliano, gouth Vietnam: Nation Under Stress (Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1964), 102-103; Senator John F. Kennedy, "America's Stake 

in Vietnam, " in America's Stake in Vietnam , op. cit ., 11-12; United 
States Operations Mission to Vietnam, Activity Report (June 30^ 195^ 
through June 30, 1956) ( Saigon: I956); NIS ^3D^ op- cit ., 35; Devillers^ 
"Ngo Dinh Diem...," op. cit ., 2ll|-, 

6^. Anita Lauve, The Origins and Operations of the International Control 
Commission in Laos and Vietnam (U) (Santa Monica! Rand Corporation, 
RM-2967-ARPA, April, 1962) (S), 198-203; Anita I^uve Nutt, Troika 
on Trial , op. cit ., 690-691; the incident is referred to in the ICC's 
Fourth inter jjoi Report , op. cit ., 24-25- CIA, Current Intelligence 
Weeigy Review , 21 July 1955 . 

65. USffi, Activity Report 195^-1956, op. cit.; Lindholm, ed., Viet -Nam , 
op. cit ., 90, 100, 184, 195, S^T,"1^ 

66. V/illiam A. Nighswonger, Rural Pacification in Vietnam (New York: 
Praeger, I966), 3^-37; Scigliano, op. cit., 53-55. 1^9; Shaplen, 
The Lost Revoluti on, op. cit ., I36-I3T; Report of the Saigon Military 
Mission, FY 1955 .TLansdale Report of 1955).> OV- cit ., 24-2^. ■ 


67- Lindholm, ed., Viet -Nam , op. cit ., 52-53; Scigliano, op. cit. , I8I-I83. 

In part, this explains the political pov/er of the Buddhists acquired 
in 1963 -" an amorphous religion, so essentially apolitical and un- 
wieldy that it was among the few Vietnamese institutions ignored by 
the communists, became the focus of Viet nationalism and a prime 
contributor to Diem's undoing. Cf., Roger Kilsman, To Move a Nation 
(New York: Doubleday, I967), 463*^72. Bernard Fall's essay on the 
"Sears of Division" quotes a Vietnamese saying that success in life 
hinged on "3 D's: -- Diem (family connections); Dao (religion); and 
Dia-phuong (province of origin). Fall, Viet -Nam Witness (New York: 
Praeger, I966), 206-210. 



Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



69. ICC, Fourth Interim Report , op. clt ., 30 • 

TO. CIA, "Probable Developments in North and South Vietnam Through Mld- 
1957," (KIE 63-56, 17 July 1956), 10. A thesis advanced by Bernard 
Fall that the Viet Minh deliberately sent the families of the stay- 
behinds north, so that the hard-core regulars who remained in the 
south could engage in "mobile warfare, without having to worry about 
reprisals against their relatives," has not been substantiated in 
recent interviews with Viet Cong. Fall, The Two Viet-Nams , op- cit ., 

71. B.S.N. Murti, Vietnam Divided , op. cit ., 22k; U.S. Dept. of State, 

"Southern Regroupees and Northerners in the Commmist Military Force. . 
in South Vietnam," (Research Memorandum RFE-49, November 9, 1966), 
SECRET', ill. Fall once accepted a figure of 120,000, but later tended 
to a ceiling of 100,000. Cf., Fall in Lindholm, ed . , Viet-Kam, 
op. cit ., 57; and Fall, Vietnam Witness , op. cit ., 216^ The 130,000 
total approximates the figures published by the Research Staff of the 
Council on Foreign Relations in I956; 150,000 Viet Minh troops and 
their families, a/ Wilfred G. Burchett, the Australian communist, 
has referred to "the withdrawal of the l40,000 Viet Minh and the^ ^ 
cadres to the north." b/ The statistic usually used in U.S. official 
publications — for example in the I965 White Paper — is 90,000 Viet 
Minh troops moved north, and this is commonly regarded as an invaluable 
reservoir for the DRV's subsequent infiltration of South Vietnam, c/^^ 
But the dimension of this resource extended beyond 90,000 warriors. 
There were Montagnards who proved particularly useful in ^building ^ and 
protecting the infiltration routes do™ through the Laotian and Viet- 
namese Highlands. There, were also children, an obvious long-range 
asset, d/ The DRV set up a special school for southern Montagnards, 
and some ik elementary and higher schools were reserved for other 
southern children, e/ Moreover, there is evidence that the Viet Mmh 
systematically broadened its family ties in the South through hundreds 
of hasty, directed marriages for departing "warriors" and by recruiting 
very young men and boys just before departure, f/ 

a/ R. P. Stebbins and the Research Staff of the Council on Foreign 
Relations, The United States in World A ffairs^g^ (New York: 
Harper and Bros., I956), 285, quoted IrTKahin and Lewis, United 
States in Vietnam , op . c it . , 75- 

b/ Wilfred G. Bruchett, Vietn am, Inside Stor y of the Gue rrilla War 
(New York: International~Publishers, 19^5); 128- 

c/ U.S. Dept. of State, Aggression from the Nor th (Washington: GPO, 
1965) (Dept. of State Publication 7^39^ February, 1965)^ H- 
Intelligence estimates of the 195^-1956 period used the figure 
95,000; e.g., NIE 63-56, op. cit., 6. 



■». *J 

Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


i I 

d/ The Rand Corporation is sponsoring an extensive study of the 

DRV role in the southern insurgency^, based on captured documents 
and interviews with prisoners and defectors; three reports pub- 
lished to date are germane: J. J- Zasloff^, "The Role of North 
Vietnam in the Southern Insurgency," RM-^lUO-PR ( Santa Monica: 
RAM) Corporation, August, I966); Zasloff, "Political Motivation 
of the Viet Cong: the Viet Minh Regroupees, " RM-^703-ISA/aRPA 
(Santa Monica: mm) Corporation, August, I966); Zasloff, 
"Origins of the Insurgency in South Vietnam, 195^-1960: The 
Role of the Southern Viet Minh Cadres," RM-5613-ISA/aKPA (Santa 
Monica: RAND Corj^oration, March, 1967)- Eor data on children 
and Montagnards, see RM-UlUo, 33-3^; and RM-^T03^ 1^ 25, 29-3O; 
also Fall, The T\v'0 Viet-Nam s, op. cit ., 358. 

e/ Report 20^/6^ of the GVN National Interrogation Center, Saigon^ 
cited in M-4703, op> cit ., 30-31j Cf., Uilfred G. Burchett, 
The Furtive War (New York: International Publishers, 19^3)^ 1^6-1^7- 

f/ Dennis Warner, The Last Confucian , op. cit ., li^2-l43J. reported 

500 marriages in Quang Ngai Province alone -- and 20,000 families 
there v/ith close relatives in the North; Wesley Fishel, "Vietnam's- 
War of Attrition," The New Leader (December Ty 1959):» 17 identified 
300 marriages with departing Viet Minh in Binh Dinh Province: 
both cited in RM-4l40, op. cit. , 33- Concerning the recruitment 
of youth, see M-^703, op> cit. , 26; and the Report of the Saigon 
Military Mission, FY 1955 ^ (Lansdale Report of 1955); 3^- 

72. NIE 63-56, op. cit ., 10. 

73. U.S. Interagency Intelligence Committee, Draft Memorandum, "The 
North Vietnamese Role in the Origin, Direction, and Support of the 
War in South Vietnam," (DIAAP-^, May, I967), op. cit. , I6-I7. 

^k. "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Viet Nam, July 20, 

195^," and "Final Declaration of Geneva Conference, July 21, 195^1-/' 
in U.S. Congress, Senate, Background Ihforraation Relating to South- 
east Asia and Vietnam , Committee on Foreign Relations (Washington: 
"GPO, March, 1966)7~39; 66. . ■ ' 

A senior captain in the Viet Cong intelligence service wrote a 
record of his experiences in a document entitled Regroup ment Diary ; 
according to this document, his political officer lectured the unit 
as follows: a/ 

"(1) Have confidence in the leadership of the General Committee. 
In two years, the country will be re-unified, because that 
v^as the decision of an international body, which gives us 
reason to trust it. This does not mean that we should be 
too trustful, but we must continue to struggle. 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



"(2) The Party vlll never abandon the people of the South who 
will stay to fight; when the time comes,, they will be led. 

"(3) Those who go north should feel happy in their duties. 
Those who remain behind should cariy out the glorious 
missions entrusted to them by the Party ;, standing side by . 
side with the people in every situation of struggle." 

The political officers also stressed the dangers to which the stay- 
behinds would be subjected. A Viet Cong cadre whose party history 
extended back to 1930 stated that: b/ 

■ "Those who did regroup did it voluntarily^ after realizing 
that it was the thing to do. They did it to protect them- 
selves from being arrested by the authorities in the South. 
They were afraid of being charged with having participated 
in the Resistance before. All cadres were afraid of future 
persecution by the South Vietnamese authorities; they all wanted 
to regroup. . . .They vere afraid. ..." 

Stilly the Regroupment Diary records that one cadre bet his comrades 
"three to ten^ the count xy won't be reunified in two years/* and 
that many cadres were worried about leaving family and friends be- 
hind, c/ Asked J "Were you a volunteer for regroupment?": the 
following responses were typical: d/ 

(a Defector) At the time it was said that we were volunteers. 
In reality^ they took measures to make sure that everyone left. 
At the time of regroupment, we had to go. If I had remained, 
I would have been arrested. I believed that I would remain in 
the North two years . 

(Another Defector) I was a political officer. I went to the 
North just like all the other combatants in my unit. I believed, 
at the time, that regroupment was only temporary, because from 
the study sessions on the Geneva Agreement we drew the conclu- 
sion that we could return to the South after the general elections. 

(a pa) /our political officer/ explained that: we were granted 
Vietnam north of the 17th parallel now, but in 195^ there would be 
a general election and we would regain the South and be reunited 

■ with our families. Because of interest and curiosity and the 
opportunity to travel, everyone was happy. They thought they 
would be there in the North only two years and then would be. able 
to return to their homes. 

a/ M-4703, op. cit., 27, 35. 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 

f ^ 


b/ Ibid ., 34. 

c/ Ibid., 35. 

■d/ Ibid ., 36. 

75- Fourth Interim Report , op. cit ., 12, 21; Murti, op. cit ., 87-88. 

76. M-5163, op. clt ., 6-7. 

77. Ngo Dinh Diem on Elections in Vietnam (juHy I6, 1955) in Marvin E. 
Gettleman, ed., Vietnam (Nev York: Fav^cett, I965), 193-19^. For the 
U.S. view, see for example, the March 8, 1955, Secretary Dulles, 
public statement on the consultations scheduled to take place be- 
tween DRV and GVW preliminary to the general elections; inter alia , 
he opined that it would "be hard to create in the North conditions " 
which allow genuine freedom of choice." U.S. Dept. of State, 
"Chronology on Vietnam," (historical Studies Division, Research 
Project No. 71^7, Nov I965), 12. 

78. RM-4703, op. cit ., 8; UoS. Interagency intelligence Committee, "The 
North Vietnamese Role in the Origin, Direction^ and Support of the 
War in South Vietnam," op. cit., I7-I8. 

79- Anita Lauve Nutt, Troika on Trial , op. cit ., 296-360; ICC Interim 
Report (S). 

80. "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Viet-Nam, Jiily 20, 195^!-," 
in U.S. Congress, Background Information..., Q -p. cit. , 55-57- 

81. ICC^ Eighth Interim Report ( Saigon, 5 June I958), I3. 

82. U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Overseas Loans and 
G^QHts (Office of Program Coordination, March 17, 1967)^ 57- The 
total through ISG-V was over $1 billion; NIS ^-3D., op. cit ., 70. 

83. V- J. Croizat, trans., A Translation from the French: L e ssons of 
the War in Indochina (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, RM-527I-PR, 
May, 1967), 204- 2057 

o4. J. J. Zasloff, The Role of the Sanctuary in Insurgency: Communist 
China's Support o f the Vietminh, 194 6-1954 (Sante Monica : RAITO 
Corporation, Ry[-T5ld-PR, May, I967), 57. 

85. NIS 43c, op. cit ., 38; CIA, "North Vietnamese Violations of the ' 

Geneva Agreements on Vietnam," (Current Intelligence Memo, SC No. 

86, IAC-D-93/2, Viet Minh Violations. . .Through 31 December 195^ , op. cit. , 
10-11; also CIA; Current Intelligence Weekly Review, 7 October 195^, 6. 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 




8T. NIS 43c, op. cit., 59. 

j 88. Ibid.^ 56-59; Zasloff, Political Motivation. . .The Vietminh Hegroup- 

ees , RM-4703-ISA/aEPA, op. cit ., kk-^2. 

89. CIA, "Prospects for North and South Vietnam" (NIE 1^.3/53-61, I5 August 
1961), 15; CIA, "The Outlook for North Vietnam," (SNIE l4.3-6^, 
kr March 196^0^ 8-9- . . ■ 

90. Ibid ., 10. 

91. U.S. Congress, Senate, Situation in Vietnam , Hearings before the Sub- 
eoriimittee on State Department Organization and Public Affairs of the 
Committee on Foreign Relations, 86th Congress, 1st Session, July 30 
and 31:, 1959 (Washington: GPO, 1959):. I56-I58; Irving Heymont, 
Ronald B. Enery, John G. Phillips, Cost Analysis of Counterinsurgency 
I^nd-Combat Operations: Vietnam , 1957-196^ (U) (McLean, Va.: Research 
Analysis Corp., RAC-TP-232, June, I967), 10; Senator Mansfield, Senate 
Cor/imittee on Foreign Relations, "Report on Indochina," 83d Congress, 
2nd Session, I5 October 195^ (Washington: GPO, 195^0- On January l4, 
1955j» the French signed an agreement with the DRV supplementing the 
Geneva Agreement calling for detailed advance notice to the ICC and 
defining replacement arms as identical, or of similar "combat strength"- 
but again did not establish the basic credit ceiling against which the 

< "^ GVN could draw replacements. Anita I^uve Nutt, Troika on Trial , op. 

clt ., 329-3^2; m-2967, op. cit ., 105-106. For aid data, see MS, 
Office Chief of Military History, "U.S. Policy Toward Vietnam Since 
19^5/' (May, 1962), 31, k-S-^O. The estmate of French removal of 
MDAP materiel 195^-1956 is based on the report of Asst SecDef Reuben 
Robertson, Jr., on trip to Vietnam in May, 1956; ibid., ^9-50, n. 3^- 
U.S. Military Assistance Group, Vietnam, -"Country Statement on MDAP, 
Non-NATO Countries," 20 July I956, p. 10, reports that contrary to a 
US-French agreement, shipments to North Africa and France 1955-1956 
apparently included higher quality MDAP equipment than vras being 
turned over to ARVIT; the same report also states that details of 
ARVN- French transaction with ICECAP miateriel were "unknown." 

92. NIS h3D, op. cit, , 67. 

93. Warner, The tost Confucian , op. cit ., 128-219 . Scigliano, South 
Vietnam , op. cit. , I62-I63. 

Sk. NIS ^3D, op. cit., 69, 

95. Heymont, et al .. Cost Analysis 1957-196^ ^ op. cit ., Vol. II, 77-8^ • 

96. U.S. Dept. of State Press Release No. 400, July 23, 195^- 

97. "Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty and Protocol Thereto...," 
in U.S» Congress, Background Iiif ormation. . . , op. cit* , 84-88. . 


Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 


98. "Direct Aid to the Associated States.../' in ibid ., 88-89. 

99. "Aid to the State of Vietnam...," in ibid., 89-90- 

100. Quoted in Nighswonger, op. cit. , ^2, from New York Times for 
February 13^ 1955;» p. 1- General Collins, the President's emis- 
sary to the GVN, was reported at the same time to be pressing for 
a "more reliable armed force chiefly designed to maintain internal 
security," with protection from external aggression supplied by 
SEATO. Ibid. , q.uoting Baltimore Sun for 1 February 1955^ p.. 1. 

101. NSC 5612/1, "U.S. Policy in Mainland Southeast Asia," (September 5, 
1956), 11, provides that the UoS. vj^ill: "assist Free Viet Nam to 
build up indigenous armed forces, including independent logistical 
and administrative services, which v/ill be capable of assuring 
internal security and of providing limited initial resistance to 
attack by the Viet Minh." "United initial resistance" \ras defined 
by JCS memo for SecDef, dated 21 December 195^; subject as above, 
as follows: "resistance to Communist aggression by defending or 

by delaying in such manner as to preserve and maintain the integrity 
of the government and its ajrmed forces for the period of time 
required to invoke the UN Charter and/or the Southeast Asia Collec- 
tive Defense Treaty or the period of time required for the U.S. 
Government to determine that considerations of national security 
require unilateral assistance and to commit U.So or collective 
security forces to support or reinforce indigenous forces in defense 
of the country attacked." 

102. "Vietnam's Defense Capacity," in The American Stake in Vietnam , op. 
cit . , 86. 

103. Scigliano, op. cit ., 163; Judson J. Conner, "Teeth for the Free 
V/orld Dragon," Army Information Digest (November, I960), ^^3* 

lOl^. U.S., Joint Chiefs of Staff, telegram JCS 97^802 of 30 March I96O 
to CINCPAC noted increasingly deteriorating internal security in . 
Vietnam and informed that: 

"The JCS agree that anti-guerrilla capability should be developed 
within organization of the regular armed forces by changing emphasis 
in training selected elements ARW and other forces from conven- 
tional to anti-guerrilla warfare." This cable among many of that 
period refccused the MAAG Mission on internal security, and this 
became the central theme of the military portions of the "Counter- 
insurgency Plan for South Viet-Nam" of January, I96I. U.S. Embassy, 
Saigon, Despatch No. 276, of January 4, I96I. The MAAG "Country 
Statements" for the period I956-I96O record a concentration on 
developing the staff and logistic superstructure of ARWI, and on 


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r I 

< ■ 

U.S. Army-type training programs; throughout_, it is clear that the 
MMG looked increasingly to the Self Defense Corps,, the Civil Guard^ 
and the National Police to meet the "Viet Minh" internal tlireat in 
order to free ARTOI for conventional combat training. See especially 
U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group;, Vietnam,, "Country Statement ' 
on MDAP^ non-MTO Countries/' paragraphs 1^ 5^ G, and Section C, of 
the reports 15 January 1956^ 20 July I956; 21 January 1957^ 15 July 
1957; alsOj same headquarters^ "Narrative Study/' dated 2.k August 
1958^ and "Narrative Statement;, " dated 25 November I958 with changes 
dated 10 May I959, 9 1959;, and 8 November I959. Cf .^ Shaplen^, 
op. cit .^ 117-119^ 137; Warner^ op. cit .^ 129-I36; Scigliano^ op. cit. ^ 
162-167; Nighswonger, op . c it . _, ^3-^8^ David Halberstam^ The Making 
of a Quagmire (New York: Random House^ 1965)^ 6O-66. . 

105. David Hotham^ "South Vietnam - Shaky Bastion^" New Republic ^ ■ 
November 25, 1957, 15; Scigliano, op. cit ., II8-II9. 

106. Ibid. J 111-115. The author concluded that the Saigon-^Bien Hoa 
Highway had been undertaken for military reasons_, and that "this 
20-mile stretch of highway cost more money than the United States 
provided for all labor _, community development^ social welfare^ 
housing^ healthy and education projects in Vietnam combined during 
the entire period 195^-1961." 

107. ICC; Second Interim Report ... ^ op. cit .^ 55. 

108. U.S. Secretary of State Dulles^ Memorandum for the President^ 
17 November 195^^ subject: "General Collins' Recommendations 
Regarding Military Eorce Levels in Vietnam." 

109. JCS; Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense^ 22 September 195^^ sub- 
ject: "Retention and Development of Forces in Indochina/' sets an 
objective of a minimum French force of four divisions until four RVNAF 
divisions v,^ere available to replace them; it also stresses that the 
Geneva Agreement constituted in Vietnam, "a major obstacle to the 
introduction of adequate U.S. MAAG personnel and of additional arms 
and equipment." In a JCS Memo of I9 October 195^^ subject: "Develop- 
ment and Training of Indigenous Forces in Indochina," the Chief s, 
noting the Geneva limit on personnel_, recommended against MAAG's RVNAF 
unless "political considerations are overriding." In a Memo of 

17 November 195^- ;» subject: "Indochina/' the JCS addressed the prob- 
lem of a 77,000 man RVl^IAF, and found it adequate for internal security 
only; noting the Viet Minh streng"th, they stated that a force of that 
size could not provide for external security if SYench forces were with- 
dravm, but agreed that the MAAG could train RWAF at that level while 
complying with Geneva ceilings on personnel. Other examples of the 
continuing U^S. concern for observing the Geneva Agreements on the one 
hand, and on the other hand proceeding with the task of providing for 
Vietnam's security within its restrictions are provided in the MAAG, 
Country Statements, op. cit ., and in U.S. Dept of State telegram 2601 
from Paris, of I9 December 195^4, in which Secretary Dulles accepted 



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the principle that U.S. should not contravene the settlement. Dept 
of State telegram S^^Ul from Saigon of 17 February 1955 discloses 
Ambassador Collins' concern for observing the agreements even when 
observance precluded U.S. assistance for refugees. 

110. Anita Lauve Nutt, Troika on Trial , op. cit ., 315-328. Though ques- 
tionable on some judgments -- e.g. , attributing to the "civilian 
branch of the U.S. Government" a view that was in opposition to that 
of "military authorities" and against U.S. assinrption of RVMF train- 
ing, Mrs. Nutt is essentially correct in her assertion that the U.S. 
abided by the Geneva ceilings for six years. The principal departure 
from the 3^2 strength accommodated TERM, a 350-man Temporary Equip- 
ment Recovery Mission which from May I956 to December I96O worked to 
recover, control and out ship MDAP supplies -- albeit upgrading the 
RVMF logistic capability significantly in the process. The first 
substantial increase in MAAG followed a February, I96O, GVN request, 
which raised the ceiling from 3^2 to 685 -- still below the figure . 
of 888, the combined 195^ strength of French cadres with RVMF and 

111. H.M.G., Documents Relating to British Involvement in the Indochina 
Conflict, 195^-1965 (London: hTm.S.O., December, 1965 )T 110-125 - 

112. Ibid. 


113. Government of the Republic of Vietnam, Violations of the Geneva Agree 
ments by the Viet-Minh Communists (Saigon, July 1959) • 

114. ICC, Sixth Interim Report . ■ - , op. cit ., 31'32. 

115. ICC, Seventh Interim Report. . . , op. cit ., 16-17- 

116. ICC, Eighth Interim Report. . . , op. cit ., 11-13; Lauve, RM-2967-ARPA5 
op. cit . , 208. 

117. ICC, Eleventh Interim Report... , op. cit ., 17- 

118.- American Friends of Vietnam, America's Stake in Vietnam , op ■ cit . , 




119, Ibid., 15-19- 

120. Ibid. 5 passim . 
121.. Ibid ., 101-102. 

122. Ibid., 106-107. 

123. E.g., U.S. Dept of State, "Legal Basis for U.S. Military Aid to 
South Vietnam," (Viet-Nam Information Notes, Ro. 10, August I967). 



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IV. A- 5. 

Tab 2. 




A. Diem's Political Legacy: Violence and Anti-Colonialism 1 

1. The Binh Xuyen * 5 

2. The Cao Dai 6 

3 . The Hoa Plao .' ' 8 

k . The Viet Minh - . .■ . . » . . 9 

5' Ant i- colonialism. 9 


B. Npco Dinh Diem: Basis of Pover 


f ) 

1. Political Origins 


2 . Early U.S. -Diem Relations 11 

3. Political Concepts: Family Centralism and Personalism. . . . 13 

4. Political Parties c <> 1? 

C. Conflict vlth the Armed Sects. 

1. Defeats of the Binh Xuyen 


2. Victory over the Sects 

• 19 

3 . The Triumph Reaj)praised , 20 

D. Rural Pacification. 21 

1. Strategy 


2 • Reoccupying Viet Minh Territory 22 


3. Civic Action < " 22 

4. land Reformc , o . . . . . « 2^!- 

5 . Village Goyernjiient . . o . . . 27 

6. The Anti-Coiiimunist Campaign 27 


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7. Population Relocation ' 29 

8 . Rural Security Forces 31 

E« Urban Political Alienation 31 

1. "Feudalists" 32 

2. Dr. Dan 


3 . The Caravelle Group^ I96O ' • 33 

k . Religious Dissenters ^1 

F. Tensions With the Anned Forces » ^2 

1. Clashes with Francophiles^ 195^^-1955 c . ^2 

2. Militarizing Pablic Administration • ^3 

3. Dissatisfaction in the Officer Coi-^ps ^^ 

i^ . The Early Coup Attempts^ I96O and I962 ^^ 

G. The Viet Cong ■ ° ^5 

1. Diem and Coinmimists ^5 

2 . The Viet Minh Residue ^9 

3. Rural Violence and GVN Counters^ 1957-19^0 5^ 

h. The Founding of the National Liberation Front 63 

a. Organisation and Objectives ^3 

b . Leadership . » • • ^9 

c . Development c <. • 70 

FOOTLTOTES = ...». 72 




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r ^ 

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IV- A. 5- 
Tab 2. 


A. Diem^s Political Legacy: Violence and Anti-Colonialism 

World War II and the First Indochina War left the society of 
South Vietnam severely torn. The Japanese, during the years of their 
presence from 19^0-19^5, had encouraged armed factionalism to weaken 
the French administration and strengthen their own position. 1/ The 
war between the Viet Minh and the French — which began in South Vietnam 
in September, 19^5 ~ wrought further disunity.. Paradoxically, the 
South suffered political damage compared to the Worth from having been 
the secondary theater of both wars. The Japanese had sought during 
World War II to control it without sizable occupation forces. Similarly, 
in the First Indochina War, the French had practiced economy of force 
in the South so that they could concentrate in Tonkin. For conventional 
forces, both the Japanese and the French substituted irregular warfare 
and a system of bribes, subversion, arms, military advice, and officially 
condoned concessions in corruption. From 19^5*195^^ "the fighting in 
South Vietnam was more sporadic and diffuse than in the North, but in 
a societal sense, ultimately more destructive. While in Tonkin the 
Viet Minh flowed in through and behind the French and continued to build 
a nation and unify the people with surprising efficiency, in the South 
they were unable to do so. Not only were the Viet Minh centers of power 
in the North and the China base area too remote to support effectively 
the southern insurgency, but also the French had imitated the Japanese 
in arming and supplying certain South Vietnamese factions, fomenting 
civil war against the southern ari'a of the Viet Minh. The results 
approached anarchy: a virtual breakdown in public administration by 
Franco-Vietnamese central governments and deep cleavages within the Viet- 
namese body politic. By the summer of 195^, conspiracy had become the 
primary form of political communication in South Vietnam, and violence 
the primary mode of political change. 

Politically, as well as geographically. South Vietnam consisted 
of three distinctive regions: the narrow, coastal plan of Annam, thickly 
settled by Vietnamese, where was located Hue, the ancient Viet capital 
and cultural center; the Highlands, sparsely populated by Montagnard 
tribesmen, in which was situated the summer capital of Dalat; and Cochin- 
china, the fertile, densely peopled river-delta area in which Saigon 
stood (see maps, ff.). Cochinchina had experienced a political develop- 
ment markedly different from that of Annam. The last area of modern 


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/. !■ 



T M A I L A N D 






Language of ethnic groups is shown 

within parentheses 


Dong Hoi-j 


VIETNAMESE (Annamese) 

Tribal groups (Mon-Khmer) 

Tribal groups (Malayo-Polynesian) 

Cham (Malayo-Polynesian) 


JARAI Tribal name 

NOTE^Chinese and other foreigners are concentrated 
principally in larger cities 


h v < '■. \ ■-■■' — , H 1 ' 

25 50 75 100 Kilometers 


* Da Nsng 

Quang Ngai 


Qui Nhon 

Siem Reap 




o SiHanoukville o'^^"^P°^ 

' r~ ""^ ' T<5Ha Tien 

Duong Dong^ 



, CVietnacu} 


Tuy Hoa 

Tliom o 






L ■ 





Con Son i 




54690 8-66 


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I I 


f ) 

54036 7-66 

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Vietnam to be occupied by the Viet people in their expansion south- 
ward (8th Century _, A.D.)^ and the first area to fall to French rule 
(inid-19th Century) _, Cochinchina had been administered by the French 
directly as a colony^ while Annam remained under the Bnperor as a 
French protectorate. 







Viet Expansion French Empire 


Dates of Conquest 

While the mandarinal rule of the Annamese court was more a matter of 
form than substance^ Annam's public administration preserved a degree of 
unity among the Vietnamese despite the impress of French culture • In 
South Vietnam^ the French seemed to be a wholly divisive influence. 
Though Cochinchina was the site of som.e of the achievements of which 
French colonialists were most proud — the chief seat of the rubber 
industry _, and focus of major feats of engineering with canals and rail- 
roads — the Cochinchinese seem to recall less the triumphs of French 
civilization than its burdens: the French rubber plantations^ abrasive 
with their labor _, high-handed with local peoples; the oppressive taxes^ 
and the French controlled monopolies on salt,, alcohol and opium; recur- 
rent famine in the midst of one of the earth's richest farming regions; ' 
socially restrictive schooling; modernizing challenges to familial piety, 
village centralism, and other cherished fundaments of Viet culture. 3/ 
While Annam — and Tonkin to the north -~ developed indigenous political 
movements opposing French rule, these ^exe. mainly foreign-based, foreign- 
oriented parties, such as the Nationalist Party (VNQDD), a Vietnamese 

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^ copy of the Kuomintang^ or the Indochinese Coininunist Party (iCP) of 

the Comintern, headed by Russian-trained Ho Chi Minh. In Cochinchina, 
however;, there emerged a number of nationalist movements peculiar to 
that region, or principally based on that region. Saigon, for example, 
developed a range of leftist raovements competitive with the ICP, 
including two Trotskyite parties, as well as a nuraber of TOQDD splinter 
movements, and a politically active gangster fraternity, the Binh Xuyen. 
t But the important differences were in the countryside, where millions 

i of Vietnamese joined wholly Cochinchinese religious sects which propagated 

r xenophobic nationalism, established theocracies, and fielded armed forces. 

French and Japanese policy had deliberately fostered conflict among these 
several factions to the extent that Cochinchina was, in 195^j» literally 
fractioned among the religious sects, the Binh Xuyen, and the Viet Minh. 
While by I95U the Viet Minh dominated Annam and the HiglxLands, control 
of Cochinchina eluded them, for all their ruthless efficiency. 

1. The Binh Xuyen 

Saigon itself in 195^ was under the rule of the Binh Xuyen, 
a secret society of brigands evolved from the Black Flag pirates which 
had for generations preyed on the city's commerce. 4/ The Binh Xuyen 
ethos included a fierce - albeit ecletic - nationalism. They collab- 
orated with the Japanese during V/orld War II, and in September, 19^5; 
led the savage attack against the French in Saigon which marked the start 
of the Franco-Viet Minh War. The Binh Xuyen leader, Le Van (Bay) Vien, 
subsequently contracted an alliance with the Viet Minh, allied his I3OO 
soldiers with their guerrillas, and served for a time as the Viet Minh 
deputy commander for Cochinchina and one of its chief sources of funds. 
Bay Vien's refusal to assassinate certain Viet Minh- condemned Vietnamese 
intellectuals reputedly stirred Viet Minh misgivings, and called the 
Binh Xuyen favorably to the attention of the National United Front, an 
anti-comraunist, Viet nationalist group then operating out of Shanghai. 
In 19^7^ Bay Vien was persuaded to cooperate with the National United 
Front. Informed, the Viet Minh invited him to the Plain of Reeds in an 
attempt to capture him. Bay Vien escaped, and thereupon threw in his 
lot with the French and the State of Vietnam, accepting a commission as 
the first colonel of the Vietnamese National Army. 5/ Bay Vien after- 
wards paid Bao Dai v?hat Colonel lansdale termed "a staggering sum" for 
control of gambling and prostitution in Cholon, and of the Saigon-Cholon 
police. The French accepted the arrangement because Bay Vien offset the 
Viet Minh threat to Saigon. By 1954, Bay Vien was operating "Grande 
Monde," a gambling slum in Cholon; "Cloche d'Or, " Saigon's preeminent 
gambling establishment; the "Noveautes Catinat, " Saigon's best depart- 
ment store; a hundred smaller shops; a fleet of river boats; and a 
brothel, spectacular even by Asian standards, known as the Hall of 
Mirrors. Besides a feudal fief south of Saigon, he owned an opium 
factory and distribution system, and held substantial interests in fish, 
charcoal, hotels, and rubber plantations. Besides the police apparatus 
and other followers numbering 5OOO to 8OOO, he had some 25OO soldiers 


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at his disposal. He ruled Saigon absolutely; not even Viet Minh ter- 
rorists V7ere able to operate there. Moreover^ he exercised significant 
influence over the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao leaders. 

The ) 

of \ 

Vietnam "L^ 

LAM t 



The Binh Xuyen 

2. The Cao Dai 

The Cao Dai were a religious sect founded by a colonial 
bureaucrat named Ngo Van Chieu^ who with one Pham Cong Tac conducted 
a series of spiritualist seances from which emerged a new religious 
faith_, and in the early 1920 's^ a "church" with clerical organization 
similar to Roman Catholicism. 6/ The doctrine of the Cao Dai was 
syncretic^ melding veneration of Christy Buddha^, Confucius^, and lao Tze 
with. a cui-'ious occultism which deified such diverse figures as Joan of 
Arc^ Victor Kugo^ and Sun Yat Sen. With the dissolution of the authority 
of the central government during the 19^0 's and early 1950 *s^ the Cao Dai 
acquired increasing political and military autonomy. The sect's 1;500_,000 
to 2^000^000 faithful ccanprised a loose theocracy centered in Tay lUnh^ 
the border province northwest of Saigon. The Cao Dai^ too^ cooperated 
first with the Japanese^ and then with the Viet Minh; and the Cao Dai 
leadership also found the latter uncomfortable allies. In 19^^?^ the 
Cao Dai realigned with the French^ agreeing to secure with their forces 

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specified rural areas against the Viet Minh in return for military- 
assistance. Although plagued throughout its history by minor heresy 
and factional disputes,, the Cao Dai became the largest political move- 
ment in Cochinchina; the Cao Dai shared with the Hoa Hao the distinction 
of being the only important political forces to originate in the Viet- 
namese peasantry. Wtieu Diem came, to power in 195^; Pham Cong Tac^ the 
Cao Dai Pope^ had declared for Bao Dai^ controlled some 15^000 to 20^000 
armed followers^ and ruled the region northwest of Saigon. 

The ) 

of \ 

Vietnam "^ 


(April-Jing 1555] 




The Cao Dai 

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3. The Hoa Hao 

Southwest of Saigon there existed the Hoa Hao^ a newer 
sect^ similarly endowed with politico-military autonomy, which repeat- . 
edly clashed with the Cao Dai and. the Binh Xuyen. ?/ In 1939;* a 
mystic faith healer named Huynh Phu So, from a village named Hoa Hao, 
launched a reformed Hinayana Buddhist movement which swiftly acquired 
a wide following. (Among the Vietnamese whom Huynh Phu So favorably 
Impressed was Ngo Dinh Diem.) Huynh Phu So enjoyed Japanese protection, 
and with their aid, in l^kk the Hoa Plao foraied armed bands, among the 
leaders of which there was one Tran Van Soai. A Viet Minh attempt to 
gain the assistance of the Hoa Hao failed, and the Viet Minh on 8 September 
19^5 massacred hundreds of Hoa Hao faithful in the town of Can Tho. Tran 
Van Soai replied in kind, and in the ensuing weeks Can Tho became the 
center of extensive slaughter. French intervention stopped the violence, 
but turned the Hoa Hao against the Prench. In April, 19^7;. the Viet 
Minh executed Huynh Phu So, which caused Tran Van Soai to rally with 
2,000 armed men to the French. He was accepted into the French Expedi- 
tionary Corps with the rank of general, and assigned the mission of 
pacifying his omi region. The French from that time forward, "until 
1955^ paid the salaries of the Hoa Hao- soldiers. At the time Diem came 
to office in 195^^ the sect had some 1,500,000 believers, controlled most 
of the Mekong Delta region, and had 10,000 to 15,000 men under arms. 

■s>- - ■■■ ~-^ 


5 10 15 20 25 

[Lain T!l2P.^. ligL-yenl srcniy \ ' / 

^^ Ba Cut 

(Le Quans Viiihl [roup 

Iran Vr,n Soai 


Alio lEOlGRl^SliEin 1:1 19115 

The I-Ioa Hao 


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■ . k. The Viet Minh 

In 195U^ the Viet Minh controlled some 60 to 90 percent 
of South Vietnam's villages (by French estimates) and 30 to kO percent . 
of its territory (by U.S. estimates). 8/ The bulk of organized Viet 
Minh forces were located in Annam and the Highlands^ proximate to 
Tonkin^ and in regions free of competition from the arxned sect.s. In 
Cochinchina, they were militarily strongest in areas along the Cambodian 
border and in the Camau peninsula of the extreme south remote from the 
principal concentrations of people. 9/ Nonetheless^ their political 
organization was pervasive^ and in some localities_, e.g.; Quang Ngai 
province in Annam, the Viet Minh were the only effective government. 
A hierarchy of Viet Minh committees paralleled the formal governi-nent 
from the village Administrative and Resistance Committee (ARC) through 
district, province, and what the Viet Minh termed "interzone" or 
"region." No reliable estimates exist of the numbers of cadres involved 
in this apparatus, but Viet Minh military forces of all types south of 
the 17th parallel probably numbered around 100,000. lO/ When orders 
were issued for the Geneva regroupment, the "provisional assembly areas" 
designated coincided with the areas in which Viet Minh strength had been 
greatest. During the time allowed for- collecting forces for the move 
north, the Viet Minh evidently undertook to bank the fires of revolution 
by culling out of their units trained and, reliable cadres for "demobiliza- 
tion," "recruiting" youth — forcibly in many instances — to take their 
place, and caching weapons, ll/ Particularly in Annam and the Highlands, 
then, the Viet Minh posed a significant challenge to Ngo Dinh Diem. His 
test of strength with the Viet Minh, however, was to be deferred by the 
Geneva Settlement and DRV policy for some years. 

5- Anti-colonialism 

The political prospects of Ngo Dinh Diem when he accepted 
the premiership from Bao Dai were dimmed not only by Viet Minh residue, 
and by the existence of the armed sects, but by the taint of colonialism. 
As far as most Cochinchinese peasants were concerned. Diem was linked to . 
Bao Dai, and to the corrupt, French dominated governraent he headed. 
Studies of peasant attitudes conducted in recent years have demonstrated 
that for many, the struggle which began in 19'i-5 against colonialism con- 
tinued uninterrupted throughout Diem*s regime: in 195^^ "the foes of 
nationalists were transfonned from France and Bao Dai, to Diem and the 
U.S. -- My-Diera, Am.erican-Diem, became the universal term of Viet Cong 
opprobrium -- but the issues at stake never changed. 12/ There was, 
moreover, some substance to the belief that Diem represented no change, 
in that, although Ngo Dinh Diem took office before the Geneva Settlement 
as prime minister with "full powers civil and military," he did not 
acquire actual administrative autonomy until September, 195^; proclaim 
independence until January,' 1955; or take command of his army until 
February, 1955- 13/ There was perforce a significant carry-over of 

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' A 

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civil servants from the pre-Diem days. The national flag and the 
national anthem remained unchanged., ik / Moreover^ the laws remained 
substantially as they had been: the land-holdings^ against which was 
directed much peasant discontent ^ were based on pre-Diem law; and old 
legal proscriptions against nationalist political activities remained 
on the books during Diem's tenure of office. The onus of colonialism 
was among the heavy burdens which Ngo Dinh Diem had to shoulder from 
the outset. 

B. Ngo Dinh Diem: Basis of Power 

1. Political Origins 

Why amid the military disasters of spring 195^^ Bao Dai^ 
head of the State of Vietnam^ chose Ngo Dinh Diem from among other 
Vietnajiiese nationalists to form a governm„ent^ has long been debated. 
Diem was an Annamese Catholic who in his youth had some experience in 
public adjainistration^ first as governor of Phan Thiet province, and 
then Minister of Interior at Bao Dai's Imperial Court in Hue. 15/ In 
1933 Diem discovered, after a year in the latter office, that reforms 
he had been promised were being blocked by high French and Annamite 
officials. He promptly resigned his office and went into political 
retirement -- an act which earned hixa modest fame for integrity. Through 
the years of war and distress in his homeland thereafter, Diem had hewed 
to attentisme , and by refusing public office, had avoided the political ^ 
discoloration which besmirched more involved Viet nationalists. Bao Dai 
had sought him for his premier in 19^5, Ho Chi Minh for the DRV govern- 
ment in 19^6, the French for their "solutions" in 19^7 and 19^9^— all. 
unsuccessfully. Hence, Diem's reputation for incorruptible nationalism, 
to the extent that he enjoyed one in 195^, was based on an event 20 years 
old and a long period of political aloofness. He did come from a prom- 
inent family; a brother, Ngo Dinh Thuc was a leading Catholic clergyman 
with country^7ide connections, and the family proper retained some con- 
siderable influence in Annam. But his personal handicaps v^ere consider- 
able: bachelor, ascetic, shy, inexperienced, he seemed ill-fit for the 
seething intrigues of Saigon. 

One school of conjecture holds that the French pressed him 
upon Bao Dai in the belief that under him the newly independent State of 
Vietnam would founder; l6/ another that Bao Dai advanced him to power 
convinced that his inevitable failure would eliminate him as a political 
competitor. 17/ There are those who believe that Diem was foisted upon 
the Vietnamese and the French by a cabal of prominent American Catholics 
and a CIA agent. l8/ It can be said that Diem was relatively well 
acquainted among leading Americans, and that Bao Dai might correctly 
have regarded Diem's contacts in the United States as a possible source 
of support for Vietnam. I9/ Whatever the reasons for his selection, 
however, at the tiroe he took office there were few who regarded Diem 
as promising, and fewer still openly willing to back him. Iradeed, from 
the time he took office on 7 July 195^^ iKitil the following May, he stood 

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virtually alone. Unaided by Bao Dai^ opposed by the French^ and 
preferred by Americans mainly advice^ criticism^ and promises — but 
scant material assistance — Ngo Dinh Diem in ten months surmounted 
the partition of his nation by the Geneva powers^ two threatened military 
coups by his Army Chiefs of Staffs frenetic clashes with the Binh Xuyen 
armed sects, the withdrawal of the Viet Minh, and the influx of 900,000 
refugees from North Vietnam. 

2. Early U.S. -Diem Relations 

Diem's durability was one of those surprises in Vietnam 
which prompted Americans thereafter to refer to the "miracle in Vietnam." 
On 7 December 195^, Senator Mansfield judged that U.S. "prospects for 
helping Diem strengthen and uphold South Vietnam look very dim." 20/ 
U.S. Arabassador Heath reported from Saigon on 17 December 195^- a dim view 
of Diem's chances since "there is every evidence that the French do not 
want Diem to succeed." 2l/ In a January, 1955^ report to the National 
Security Council, General J. Lavrton Collins agreed with both analyses. 22/ 
On 7 April 1955, Collins cabled from Saigon that: " is my considered 
judgment that the man lacks the personal qualities of leadership and the 
executive ability successfully to head- a governinent that must com^pete 
with the unity of purpose and efficiency of the Viet Minh under Ko Chi 
Minh." 23/ On I9 April, Collins again cabled: "I see no alternative to 
the early replacement of Diem." 2^/ 


On 26 April 1955, U.S. National Intelligence Estmate 
63.1-2-55, "PossiDle Developments in South Vietnam," took the view that: 

"a political mpasse exists in Saigon where the legally 
constituted government of Premier Diem is being challenged by 
a venal special interest group, the Binh Xuyen, vrhich controls 
the National Security Police, and is temporarily allied with 
some elements of the religious sects.... 

"Even if the present impasse were resolved, we believe that 
it would be extremely difficult, at best, for a Vietnamese 
government, regardless of its composition, to make progress ■ 
toward developing a strong, stable anti-Communist government 
capable of resolving the basic social, economic, and political 
problems of Vietnam, the special problems arising from the 
Geneva agreement, and capable of meeting the long-range challenge 
of the Communists. 


But opinion in Washington s^^mg sharply when, in late April, Diem ■ 
managed to survive a severe test of arms with his army and the sects. 
Senators Mansfield and Knowland issued strong statements of support 
for him, and on May 2 Senator Hubert Humphrey told the Senate that: 

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"premier Diem is the best hope that we have in South 
Vietnam, He is the leader of his people. He deserves and 
must have the wholehearted support of the American Government 
and our foreign policy. This is no time for uncertainty or 
half-hearted measures. . ^. He is the only man on the political 
horizon of Vietnam who can rally a substantial degree of sup- 
port of his people. -.If we have any comments about the 
leadership in Vietnam let it be directed against Bao Dai.... 
If the Government of South Vietnam has not room for both 
these men^ it is Bao Dai who must go...." £5/ 

On 9 May 1955; the Joint Chiefs of Staff judged that "the government 
of Prixae Minister Ngo Dinh Diem shows the greatest promise of achieving 
the internal stability essential for the future security- of Vietnam." 26/ 
Five months later^ on 11 October^ 1955^ the National Intelligence Estimate 
was revised. In NIE 63.1-3-55^ "Probable Developments in Vietnam to July 
1956/' the U.S. Intelligence Advisory Committee found it possible to be 
more sanguine concerning Diem*s prospects: 

"...Diem has made considerable progress toward estab- 
lishing the first fvilly independent Vietnam^ese government.... 
He faced a basically unstable and deteriorating situation.... 
The raost significant articulate political sentiments of the 
bulk of the population \ras an antipathy for the French combined 
with a personal regard for Ho Chi Minh as the symbol of Viet- 
namese nationalism.. 

• # 

"Diem_ was forced to move slo\-rly. Although possessing con- 
siderable national prestige as a patriot^ he was inexperienced 
in administration and was confronted at the outset by the 
intrigues of Bao Dai and other self-interested individuals and 
groupS; who in many cases benefited from French support.... 

"Diem concentrated on eliminating or neutralizing the most 
important groups and individuals challenging the authority of 
his government .... By bribery _, persuasion^ and finally force^ 
Diem virtually eliminated the Binh Xuyen and the most important 
elements of the Hoa Hao sects as threats to his authority. At 
the same time^ he maneuvered the Cao Dai — ^the strongest of the 
sects — into an uneasy alliance. As a result of these successful 
actions^ Diem gained prestige and increased popularity as a sym- 
bol of Diem's efforts to establish a viable ant i- communist 
government are still in doubt.... 

"Provided the Communists do not exercise their capabilities 
to attack across the 17th Parallel or to initiate large-scale 
guerrilla warfare in South Vietnam^ Diem will probably make 
further progress in developing a more effective government. Plis 
position will probably be strengthened as a resiolt of increased 

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pop-alar support,, the continued loyalty of the VM^ and a 
deterioration in the strength and cohesiveness of his non- 
Communist opposition. The national government will probably 
increase the nuiuber of rural communities under its control^ 
particularly in areas now held by the sects...." 

It is likely that Diem's stormy first 10 months in office^ 
June^ 195^ to May^ 1955^ strongly conditioned his behavior in later 
years. He must have been impressed almost at once with the political 
importance of the army^ and the essentiality of personally loyal ranking 
officers. He chose openly to oppose the armed sects against the advice 
of both his American and French advisers^ and his success no doubt 
instilled confidence in his own judgments. The same events probably 
gave him reason thereafter to value head-on confrontat3.on with a foe 
over conciliation or compronise. And in his adamant stand against con- 
sultations with the DRV on plebescite^ again contrary to initial American 
advice; he no doubt learned that on major issues the U.S. stake in his 
future was sufficiently high that he coul_d lead^ and American policy 
would follow. 27/ In any events he moved with new assurance from mid- 
1955 forward. In many respects his first 3OO days were his finest hours^ 
when he was moving alone^ rapidly^ and with determination against great 
odds. ^ • 


f \ 3* Political Concepts: Family Centralism and Fersonalism 

But Diem^s early victories were essentially negative^ in 
eliminating or bypassing obstacles. It remained for him to provide 
programs for finding homes and occupations for the refugees^ for solving 
the politically crucial problems of rural land distribution and taxation^ 
for installing capable and incorrupt public administrators^ for stimu- 
lating the economy _j for improving the education system -- in shorty for 
coping with the whole broad range of problems of governing a developing 
nation^ each rendered especially acute by South Vietnam's war trauma^ 
internal dissention_, and partition from North Vietnam. To cite but a 
few: 600^000 refugees v/ere dependent on his government for subsistence; 
85^000 people were jobless as a result of the French troop withdrawal; 
inter-provincial communications were impaired — 7OO miles of main road 
. were war-damaged^ one third of the railway trackage lay destroyed^ Si 
concrete bridges on 86O miles of track lay blown. 28/ ]ji devising 
programs to meet these challenges^ Diem worked from two primal concepts: 
family centralism^ and "personalism" as a state philosophy. 

Diem was raised in a Mandarinal family^ born to a tradition 
of high position in the social hierarchy and governmental bureaucracy. 
It was also a Catholic family^ and Diem received a heritage of obdurate 
devotion to Christianity under intense persecution -- within a century 
of his birth one hundred relatiA''es had been burned to death by Buddhists 
in central Annam. His rearing developed his reverence for the past^ a 
capacity for hard vrork^ and a deep seated piety. Two French authorities 

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believed that his outlook on life was "born of a profound^ of an immense 
nostalgia for the Vietnamese past, of a desperate filial respect for the 
society of ancient Annam." 29/ There -was some thought of his becoming 
a priest, but he elected public administration; his elder brother Thuc, 
the cleric, is said to have speculated that Diem found hdinself too inflexi- 
ble, too >7illful, too severe for the priesthood. 30/ But above all 
else, Diem's early years impressed upon him the importance of family in 
performing the duties of station: the family was the first meaas of 
extending personal power, the essential mode of political expression. 
It is possible that Diem resorted to nepotism simply because he lacked 
a personal political apparatus which would have permitted him to operate 
otherwise, but nepotism became the style of his rule, and it was q.uite 
consistent with his upbringing. 

"Society," said Diem, "functions through personal relations among 
men at the top." 31/ One brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, received the title of 
Advisor to the President, and controlled the semi-covert Personalist 
Labor Revolutionary Party. His wife, Madame Nhu, became the President's 
official hostess, a deputy in the National Assembly, and the founder- 
chairman of the Woman's Solidarity Movement. Her father became one of 
Diem's ambassadors, and his wife the GVH observer at the IM. A second 
brother of Diem, Hgo Dinh Can, became the virtual overlord of Annam, 
holding no official position, but ruling the region in all respects. 
A third brother, Ngo Dinh Thuc, the Archbishop of Hue and Primate of 
Vietnam, also held no office, but functioned as Presidential advisor, 
and levered Catholic opinion on behalf of Diem. A fourth brother, Ngo 
Dinh Luyen, became an Ambassador.- Three family m.embers-Tran Van Chuong, 
Tran Van Do, and Tran Van Bac—served in Diem's first cabinet, and two 
other in-laws, Ngu.yen Huu Chau and Tran Trung Dung, held the key port- 
folios of Secretary of State at the Presidency and Assistant Secretary 
of State for National Defense. One of the reasons General Collins 
opposed Diem may be a letter he received in April, 1955? from a group 
of nationalists headed by former Premier Nguyen Phan Long, urging the 
United States to withdraw its support of Diem on the grounds that his ' 
brothers were effectively isolating Diem politically. 32/ The obser- 
vation proved to be correct: Ngo Dinh Nhu and Ngo Dinh Can increasingly 
gathered power into their o-^vn hands, and non-family politicians found 

■themselves quietly shunted aside. Gradually, a concentration of power 
also occurred within the family circle, again toward Nhu, Mme Nhu and 

" Can, and at the expense of the more remotely related. The President s 
family thus became an entirely extra-legal elite which in class and 
geographic origin, as well as religion, was distinct from the South 
Vietnamese as a whole o 

The Diem family circle was promptly targeted by gossipers. In 
Saigon, rumors were the political medimi, and stories were soon rampant 
that members of the family were looting the government. 33 / By 1957? 
the whispering campaign against the Nhus mounted to such proportions 
that they issued a public statement denying that they had ever removed 

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money from the country^ engaged in financial or commerical speculation, 
or accepted "bribes. But the impression remained, fed by numerous credible 
reports of official graft at lower levels, that whether or not the Diem 
family took for personal gain, they took. 

Another disadvantage proceeded from the Diem's familial concentra- 
tion of power: bureaucratic overcentralization; Diem himself seems to 
have been peculiarly at fault in this instance, reserving for himself 
the power of decision in minute matters, and refusing to delegate authority 
to subordinates who might have relieved him of a crushing administrative 
burden. sV In part, this may have been simply inexperience in handling 
a large enterprise, but there seems to have been deeper, philosophical 
reasons -- a passion for perfection, a distrust of other men, a conviction 
that all subordinates req.uired his paternalistic guidance. The result 
was an impairment of an administrative system already crippled by the 
absence of French civil servants. Subordinate officials, incapable of 
making decisions, fearful of making them, or forbidden to make them, passed 
upward even minute matters on paper to the brothers Rgo, glutting the 
coinmuni cat ions of government, and imposing long delays on all, even im- 
portant actions. 

Personalism, as Diem called his personal political philosophy, was 
a melange of Asian and European notions which resembled the French Catholic 
personnalisme of Emmanuel Mounier, or the Encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII 
and Pius XI. 3^/ More accurately, it vms a blend of Christianity, Marxism, 
and Confucianism which stressed the development of each individual's moral 
character as the basis for community progress toward democracy. Diem saw 
himself as a reformer, even a revolutionary, in the moral realjii. His 
central social message was that each citizen achieved moral fulfillment or 
harmony only if he applied himself energetically to his civic duties, 
avoiding on the one hand the selfishness of capitolism, and on the other, the 
selflessness of Marxist collectivism, "The basis for democracy can only be a 

spiritual one," 36/ said Diem in his Message to the Rational Assembly 
on the Constitution of I9565 and in New Delhi in 1957^ he took Asians to 
task for losing sight of the spiritual essence of their political tradi- 
tions : 37/ 

"...Does not our spirituality of which we are so proud, 
simply conceal a narrow conservatism and a form of escapism 
from concrete responsibility? .. .Has not Buddhist compassion 
become a pretext for not practicing justice. . -And is not 
tolerance, which so many can mistake for freedom, the result 
of paternalistic indulgence?" 

And the same year, in Korea, he spoke of his hopes for restoring the spiritual 
strength of Vietnam after "the tremendous material and political difficulties 
which assailed Vietnam after Geneva had plunged even the best of her sons 
into a state of apprehension colored with despair..." 38/ 

"We pursue two aims. 

"First we want to rearm the Vietnamese citizen morally and 
to make him impervious to all tyranny, whatever its origin. 

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"Second^ we want to reinforce the spiritual cohesion of 
the Vietnamese people^ cohesion which accounts for capacity to 
enjoy a largely decentralized system without falling into anarchy. 
Yet this cohesion has been largely shaken hy the impact of the 
west. - 

"Yet man does not live only by the idea of liberty. He 
must be given a minimuoi of material support which will guarantee 
that liberty. . -" 

' ' A GVF approved biography of Diem explained that he recognized in commiinism 

the antithesis of true freedom, precisely because communism denied the 
existence of God and the immortality of the soul. Personalism was the 
answer therefore to communism^ since: 39/ 

"Personalism is a system based on the divine, therefore 
spiritual law, which, , .extols man's transcendent value... 
The practice of Personalism is symbolic of good citizenship 
with a highly developed civic spirit..." 

Late in Diem's reign, when his combat with the communists had been fully 
joined, these vague precepts were elaborated by his brother, Nhu, but hardly 
clarified: koj 

"The personalist conception holds that freedom in an under- 
developed society is not something that is simply given or 
bestowed. It can only be achieved through militancy and vigi- 
lance, by doing away with all pretensions and pretexts for not 
realistically applying ourselves to our gos^ls . In a situation 
of underdevelopment, and during a bleeding war of internal 
division, it may be argued that there is reason enough not to 
seek to develop democracy, but our personalist approach is pre- 
cisely militant in denying this. Pliunan rights and human dignity 
are not static phenomenons. They are only possibilities which 
" men must actively seek and deserve, not just beg for. In this 

sense, of believing in the process of constantly perfecting of 
oneself in moral as well as practical ways our personalist 
approach is similar to Confucianism. Personalism stresses hard 
work, and it is the vforking class, the peasants, vrho are better 
able to "understand the concept than the intellectuals. We must 
use Personalist methods to realize democracy at the level where 
people are fighting and working, and in our new scale of values 
it is those who participate physically and selflessly in the fight 
against communism who are most privileged, then those who coujt- 
ageously serve the villages without profit, and finally those 
who engage diligently in pi*odvictive labor for their own as well ' 
as for their villages' benefit..." 

Some America.n observers foiind these ideas with their emphasis on "de- 
mocracy" reassuring. Others, including General Edward Lansdale, urged 
on Diem a broader ideological stratagem of forming a "front" embracing 
' the concepts of the more traditional Viet nationalist parties. Ul/ But 

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"personalism," like Diem's Spanish-style Catholicism^ harbored little 
tolerance; merely different political theories were interpreted as competi- 
tivej and even dangerous. Personalism thus limited Diem's political hori- 
zons, and almost certainly impaired his government's ability to communicate 
with the peasantry. "Personalism" became the official philosophy of the 
state, and though government employees were required to attend weekly 
sessions on its tenets, it never succeeded in becoming much more than the 
cant of Diem's administration, and the credo of the two political parties 
organized and directly controlled by his family. 

k. Political Parties 

The latter were peculiarly Diemist: paternally authoritarian, 
organized as an extension of family power. The pivotal organization was 
the Personalist Labor Revolutionary Party ( Can Lao fflian Vi Cach Mang Dang ), 
an apparatus devised and controlled by Ngo Dinh rflau, semi-covert, self- 
effacing, but with members stationed at all the levers of power within 
Saigon, and a web of informants everywhere in the country. 42/ Fgu en- 
visaged the Can Lao as the vanguard of Diem's undertakings, and it became 
in fact the backbone of the regime. Drawing intelligence from agents at 
all echelons of government in the village, in factories, schools, military 
units, the Can Lao sought to detect the corrupt or disloyal citizen, and 
was empowered to bring him to arrest and trial. The Can Lao, unfortunately 
for Diem's political flexibility, concentrated on disloyalty. Ngo Dinh 
Miu, who admitted that the Can Lao closely resembled the communists in 
organization and technique, used it to stifle all political sentiment com- 
petitive or opposed to Ngo Dinh Diem. 

The other Diemist party was an open, "mass party," the National 
Revolutionary Movement ( Phong Trao Cach Mang Quoc Gia ). ^3 / Diem hms elf 
was the honorary leader of the Party, and it was the official vehicle for 
his political movement. The Party claimed to have grown from 10,000 members 
in 1955 to 1,500,000 in I959. kh/ In that time it acquired a majority 
in the National Assembly, and amassed strong voting records for Diem and 
NRM candidates in elections at all levels. The Party claims to have ori- 
ginated in "clandestine struggle for the revolution of national independence 
and human emancipation" at the time Diem resigned from Bao Dai's govern- 
ment in 19333 t)ut properly it came into being in October, 195^- The NRM 
was closely associated with the National Revolutionary Civil Servants League 
( Lien Doan Cong C huc Mang Quoc Gia), and since membership in the latter 
was a concomitant of government employment , the civil service becajiie the 
core of the NRM. The relationship also established a NRM-League hierarchy 
parallel to, and in most insta^nces identical with, the government hierarchy 
down to the village level. Obviously, too, the arrangement equated a party 
membership vrith distinct advantages in dealing with the government. NRM 
strength figures were probably exaggerated, and its active members -- those 
who attended party functions and political indoctrination sessions -- were 
those in the League; the NRM was, in effect, a party of government employees 
or dependents. 

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Diem did not involve hijnself directly in the managing of either the 
Can Lao or the KRM. The former, as mentioned , was always the creature 
of Khu. Hhu also controlled the southern branches of the KEM, but in Annam 
and portions of the Central Highlands the KRM was the tightly held instru- 
ment of Ngo Dinh Can. Can brooked no opposition whatsoever; Miu, more 
confident in the regions where the Can Lao v;as most efficient , occasionally 
permitted some political activity by minority groups , such as the Cao Dai 
and Hoa Hao sects, and the Socialists. But that activity was tolerated 
only so long as it was pro-Diem and supporting, rather than opposing, GVN 
poll cy . 

These were the ideas and the political apparatus by which Ngo Dinh 
Diem sought to weld together a nation in the aftermath of Geneva. Their 
narrowziess, their inappropriateness for most Cochinchinese and Annamites, 
virtually assured that the history of his regime, after its initial successes, 
would become an almost unbroken record of alienation of one portion after 
another of the Vietnamese body politic. This process of alienation accentu- 
ated the failures of the Geneva Settlem„ent, and ultimately led to Wgo Dinh 
Diem's assassination. 

C. Conflict with the Armed Sects 

1. Defeat of the Binh Xuyen 

At the time he took office. Diem controlled scarcely a few 
blocks of Saigon, the capital remaining firmly in the control of Bay Vien 
and the Binh Xuyen. Beginning in September, 195^, Diem tried to divide 
and conquer the sects, ^g/ Eour leaders from each of the religious sects 
were brought into his cabinet in an effort to isolate the Binh Xuyen, and 
with U.S. assistance he sought to integrate the sect forces into the national 
army. He enjoyed some initial success in rallying Cao Dai forces, and con- 
fident from assurances of direct American aid, he shut down, in January, 
1955? "the Binh Xuyen concessions in Saigon and Cholon. In the ensuing con- 
frontation, the Binh Xuyen swiong the Cao Dai and the Hoa Plao into a United 
Front of Nationalist Forces, and, although French aid for their forces had 
formally been withdrawn, continued to draw on French funds and advice. 
On March 29, 1955? fighting broke in Saigon in which sections of the city 
were burned. Although a truce was struck, the affair polarized relations 
between Diem and the sects; between Diem and General Collins, whose advice 
to conciliate he elected not to follow; and between the Americans and the 
French, over the viability of Diem. Washington apparently decided at that 
jxoncture to temporize with the sects, and to find an alternative to Diem. k6/ 
Before the instructions could be sent to Saigon, however, fighting was re- 
newed. Even as the battle was joined, Bao Dai telegraphed orders to Diem 
to travel to France. Diem disobeyed, and, convinced of his moral grounds 
in attacking the Binh Xuyen, committed his forces to combe^t. His brother, 
Nhu, coopted a "Revolutionary Committee" to confer emergency authority on 
Diem. They were inmiediately successful, and by raid-May, 1955? the Binh 
Xuyen had been driven into the Rung Sat svramp east of Saigon, and Bao Dai's 
power in Saigon was broken. Bay Vien escaped to Paris. 

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2. Victory over the Sects 

Diem's forces then ranged out after the other armed factions, 
Tran Van Soai of the Hoa Hao surrendered^ and was given asylum. Another 
Hoa Hao leader , Ba Cut — who had cut off a finger to remind himself to . 
fight the Frenchj and had sworn not to cut his hair until Vietnam was 
reunited -- was captured while negotiating surrender in return for a com- 
mission as lieutenant general in the ARVW. kj/ Other leaders were bribed^ 
and the remainder fled or rallied to the GVN. By the end of 1955? Biem 
appeared to have dealt finally with the challenge of the sects. 

It was this apparent success which enabled Diem to survive 
successfully pressures from an even more powerful set of opponents: those 
among his Western allies who were determined to replace him. The dimen- 
sions of his victory in Vietnam were just becoming evident when in May, 
1955 J the North Atlantic Treaty Organization convened. There promptly 
developed a sharp division of view between the French and the Americans. ^8/ 
Bao Dai made known his opposition to Diem, and the French threatened to 
pull out of Vietnam unless Diem were removed- From Paris , Secretary Dulles 
reported that the French held that: k9/ 

"-..Time something to be done to avoid civil war. France 
warned that armed conflict -- first civil war, then guerrilla 
warfare, then terrorism -- would result if we failed to take ac- 
tion, . .New Revolutionary Comraittee. . .is strongly under Viet Minh 
I influence. . .There is violent campaign against French and French 
Expeditionary Corps. Viet Minh agents make good use of it and 
certain Americans do not seem sufficiently aware of this. French 
Govt does not wish to have its army act as platform for Viet Minh 
propaganda. Army will not be maintained in Vietnam at any cost. . . 
Continuing with Diem would have three disastrous results: 

(l)...Viet Minh victory 

(2)... focus hostility of everyone on the French, and 

(3)... begin a Franco-U.S. breach..." 

The French then proposed to the U.S. that the French Expeditionary Corps 
be withdrawn, and asked if the U.S. V7ere willing to guarantee French 
civilians, and the refugees. From Washington, the following instructions 
to Dulles were returned promptly: ^O/ 

"President's only comjnent on Vietnam section of (your tele- 
gram) was to reiterate position that U.S. could not afford to 
have forces committed in such undesirable areas as Vietnam. 
This, of covrse, is JCS view in past. Arn asking Defense and 
JCS views ..." 

Asked, the JCS took the position that the q.uestion was fundamentally beyond 
their purviev/, that neither the ARVN nor the French Expeditionary Corps seemed 
capable of preserving the integrity of South Vietnam against determined 
Viet Minh onslaught, and tha^t being debarred from fux*nishing military forces 
by the Geneva Agreement;, the U.S. was in no position to protect French 

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nationals. They suggested that Secretary Dulles be advised that: 51/ 

"a. The government of Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem shows the 
greatest promise of achieving the internal stability 
essential for the future security of Vietnara. _ - 

"b. The U.S. could not guarantee the security of the French 

nationals should the French Expeditionary Corps be withdrawn. 

"c. Possible United States actions under the Southeast Asia 

Collective Defense Treaty could ultimately afford security 
to Vietnam equal to that provided by the continued presence 
of the French Expeditionary Corps." 

In Paris^ Secretary Dulles managed to mollify the French. A 
key development was a message from Malcolm MacDonald,, the British representa- 
tive in Southeast Asia^ urging against Diem's replacement at that time. 
MacDonald; who was among Diem's severest critics -- he once remarked of ^ . 
Diem that "He's the worst prim.e minister I have ever seen" -- aligned the 
British with Dulles^ and eventually the French acquiesced in further sup- 
port of Diem. 52/ 

The defeat of the sects also opened a domestic political oppor- 
tunity for Dieni. The Popular Revolutionary Committee his brother Khu had 
formed during the height of the sect crisis was a "front" of broad political 
complexion--the membership included prominent nationalists and_, as the French 
had pointed out^ two former Viet Minh leaders; it therefore had some sub- 
stance as what Miu termed the "democratic revolutionary forces of the nation." 53/ 
The Revolutionary Committee urged the dissolution of the Bao Dai government^ and 
the organizing of general elections for a National Assembly, ffiiu acted under 
its mandate^ setting up a popular referendum in which^ on October 23^ 1955j> an 
overwhelming vote for Diem in preference to Bao Dai was recorded. The Revo- 
lutionary Committee dissolved itself on 31 October^ apparently under some 
pressure from Diem and his brother. 

3' The Triimiph Reappraised 

But it is important to note that Diem*s military victory over the 
sectS; while impressive^ was by no means complete^ and was certainly not as 
decisive as some Americans were led to believe. For example^ an NSC report 
of 1958 mentioned that the Vietnamese Armed Forces were still operating against 
the sects^ and had "succeeded in practically eliminating the Binh Xuyen and 
Cao Dai forces...." 5^ / The Deputy Chiefs MAAG; Vietnam^ stated in Aprils 
1959^ that: "The Binh Xuyen group was completely eliminated as a menace. 
The Cao Dai group was pacified or reoriented- .. .The Hoa Hao had been 
reduced to a handful of the diehards . . . . " 55 / These estimates notwith- 
standing; Binh Xuyen remnants fought off an AWN force north of Bien Hoa^ 
in 1956; and marauded along the Saigon River north of Saigon in Binh Duong 
province throughout 195T and 1958* Ih 1958^ an insurgent force^ among 
whom Binh Xuyen were identified^ sacked the Michelin rubber plantation 

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near Dau Tieng^, and in March, 1959? ARVJNF had a number of encounters with 
Binh Xuyen elements in the Binh Duong-Bien Hoa area. $6/ There is evi- 
dence, though scanty, which indicates that the Binh Xuyen survivors joined 
with "communist" groups for their depredations; for example, in the 1958 
Michelin attack the combined ^ngster-communist strength was reported to be 
300-UOO. ARVTT General Nguyen Chanh Thi, who fought these particular forces, 
has told of capturing a Binh Xuyen soldier who died under torture without 
admitting more than that his band had been communicating with communist 
forces from Tay Mnh province- The general also described capturing in 
March, 1959? in the sajne operations, flags identical to that raised in 
late i960 by the "National Liberation Front 1" VjJ 

In 19565 the Cao Dai Pope, Pham Cong Tac, crossed the frontier of 
Tay Ninh into Cambodia with a nxomber of his followers, thence to remain 
in opposition to Diem. ^8/ Bay Dom, who had been the deputy of the cap- 
tured Hoa Hao leader, Ba Cut, also took his forces to the Cambodian bor- ■ 
der. In 1956, Diem sent Ba Cut, his hair still uncut, to the guillotine. 
Bay Dom and another Hoa Hao leader, Muoi Tri, then took an oath to avenge 
Ba Cut, and opened guerrilla warfare against Diem. Some four Hoa Hao bat- 
talions are reported to have conducted operations against the GVN continu- 
ously through 1962. Muoi Tri in later years openly embraced the Viet Cong 

■ In brief, while Diem's victory over the sects was impressive, it was 
not wholly conclusive, and the very obduracy and determination which won 
him early tactical success seemed to impede his inducing the remaining 
sect dissidents to perform a constructive role in the nation. Rather, 
his policy invited a Viet Cong-sect alliance against him. That some of the 
more startling early defeats of Dlem's ARVN forces by Viet Cong in 1959 and 
i960 occurred in the regions north of Saigon, where lurked Cao Dai and 
^ Binh Xuyen remnants, is more than coincidental. 

D. Rural Pac ification 

1. Strategy 

Americans tended to look at Diem's skein of military and 
political successes in 1955 with satisfaction^ and to regard thereafter 
Vietnam's internal security with growing complacency- But Ngo Dinh Diem 
did not. To the contrary^ Diem seemed, if anything; over-conscious of 
the fact that his test with the Viet Minh lay ahead^, and that they posed 
a threat more dangerous than the sects could ever have been, not only 
because they were politically more pervasive, and not only because they 
had taught a generation of Vietnamese peasants the techniq.ues of armed 
w conspiracy, but also because their tenets offered competing solutions 

to the most pressing problem_s of the Vietnam,ese people: land and livelihood. 
Diem's counter is difficult to fault as a broad concept: ARVN forces would 
reclaim for the GVN regions formerly held by the Viet Minh; political indoc- 
trination teams moving with the troops would carry the message of Diem's 
revolution to the people; and then a broad follow-up program of Civic Action- 
political and social development, land reform, and agricultural improvement 

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would be inaugurated to meet fully the aspirations of the people. That 
these plans miscarried was due in part to the resistance of the fanners 
they were intended to benefit^, reacting sometimes under Viet Cong leader- 
shipj sometimes simply out of peasant conservatism. But a principal portion 
of the blame for failure must be attributed to Diem's inept^ overbearing^ 
or corrupt officials^ to Diem's own unremitting ant i- communist zeal^ and 
to the failure of both he and his American advisers to appreciate the 
magnitude of the tasks they set for themselves^ or the time required to 
enact meaningful reform. 

2. Eeoccupying Viet Minh Territory 

The first steps were faltering. In early 1955^ ARVN units 
were sent to establish the GVN in the Camau Peninsula in the southernmost 
part of the country. Poorly led^ ill-trained^ and heavy-handed^ the troops 
behaved towards the people very much as the Viet Minh had led the farmers 
to expect. Accompanying GVN propaganda teams were more effective^ assailing 
communism^ colonialism^, and fuedalism- -meaning the rule of Francophile 
Vietnamese,, such as Bao Dai's--and distributing pictures of Diem to replace 
the omnipresent tattered portraits of PIo. 59./ A subsequent operation in 
Quang Nai and Binh Dinh^ Operation Giai Phong , reportedly went off more 
smoothly. Under ARVI^ Colonel Le Van Kim^, the troops behaved well toward 
the people, and the propagandists exploited Viet Minh errors to the extent 
that, as the last Viet Minh soldiers marched down toward their ships^ the 
populace jeered them. American advisers were active^ and Diem himself 
visited this operation a week after the last Viet Minh had left^ receiving 
what the Americans present considered a spontaneous welcome by the peasants. 6o / 
Nonetheless, the Cau Mau experience became more typical of the ARVN than the 
Binh Dinh affair. Foreign observers frequently expressed opinion of the 
ARVN in terms similar to the 1957 view of correspondent David Hotham^ who 
wrote that "far from giving security^ there is every reason to suppose that 
the army, buttressed by the Civil Guard... is regarded by the Southern 
peasant as a symbol of insecurity and repression." 6l/ 

3- Civic Action 

Nor were the follow-up Civic Action teams significantly more 
effective. These were patterned after the GAM's (Groupes Administratifs . _ 
Mobiles) with which the French had experimented^ modified to incorporate 
U.S. -Filipino experience. In theory^ they were to have been drawn from 
the urban elite^ to 2ielp the government establish communications with the 
rural folk. Acting on the doctrine of "Three Withs: eat, sleep^ and 
work with the people" -- some ikOO to l800 "cadre" undertook: census and 
surveys of the physical needs of villages; building schools, maternity 
hospitals, information halls; repairing and enlarging local roads; digging 
wells and irrigation canals; teaching personal and public hygiene; distri- 
buting medicines; teaching children by day^ and anti-illiteracy classes ^by- 
night; forming village militia; conducting political meetings; and publicizing 
agrarian reform legislation. 

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Colonel Lansdale described their origins and operations as 
follows: &/ 

"One of the most promising ideas of this period came from 
Kieu Cong Ciong,, who was sponsored by Defense Minister Minh. 
Cung's idea was to place civil service personnel out among the 
people^, in simple dress_j where they would help initially by 
working alongside the people^ getting their hands dirty when 
necessary. The Vietnamese functionaries were aghast,^ since they 
cherished their desk work in Saigon and their dignified white- 
collar authority,, and they fought hard within the government 
machine to kill the idea. It took some months^ with the personal 
intervention and insistence of President Diem^ to get a pilot 
Civic Action program initiated. It was given administrative 
support by the Ministry of Defense^ at firsts simply because no 
other Ministry would help^ although it was established as an 
entity of the Presidency and its policy decisions were made in 
Cabinet meetings. 

"With 80/o of the civil service personnel stationed in the 
national capital^ provincial administrators were so under- staffed 
that few of them could function with even minijnum effectiveness. 
A French colonial administrative system^ super- imposed upon the 
odd Vietnamese imperial system was still the model for govern- 
ment administration. It left many gaps and led to unusually 
complex bureaucratic practices. There was no uniform legal code^ 
no uniform procedixres for the most basic functions of government. 
The Communists continued their political dominance of many villages^ 

"Cung established a training center in Saigon and asked for 
civil service volunteers^ for field duty. With none forthcoming^ 
he then selected a small group of young university-trained men from 
among the 800^000 refugees from Communist North Vietnam^ after 
security screening. Cung was working on a shoe-stringy so his 
training had added realism in the form of rough living q_uarters^ 
outdoor classes^ and students learning to work with their hands 
by constructing school facilities. All students had to dress in 
the "calico noir" of farmers and laborers^ which became their 
"uniform" later in the villages. (Provincial authorities originally 
refused to recognize Civic Action personnel as government officials^ 
due to the plebian dress; Cung^ dressed in the same manner^ and as 
a high functionary close to the President^ made a rapid tour of the 
prqvinces and gained grudging acceptance of this new style of 
government employee.) _ . 

"Originally^ four-man teams were formed; during training^ the 
members of each team were closely observed; to judge compatibility. 

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with the weak and unwilling being weeded out. After graduation,? 
each team was assigned to a district of a province^ with responsi- 
bility for a number or villages • When the team finished its work 
in the first village^ it would move to a second village^ revisiting 
the first village periodically to check on local progress. This 
would continue imtil all villages in a district were covered^ at 
which time the civic action team directly under the government in the 
provincial capital would take over district work^ now organized and 
ready for administration. 

"When a team entered a village^j they would call a village meeting^ 
explain their presence and plans. The following morning^ they would 
set to work to build three community buildings with local materials; 
if they had been successful in winning over the population^ the 
villagers pitched in and helped. One building was a village hall_j 
for meetings of village officials. Another was a primary school. 
The third was a combination information hall (news,, information about 
the government^ etc.) and dispensary (using the village medical kits 
developed by ICA) . Following up was the building of roads or paths 
to link the village with provincial roads^ if in a remote area_j build 
pit latrines^ undertake malaria control^ put in drainage^ and under- 
take similar cominujiity projects. Villagers were trained to take over 
these tasks^ including primary education and first aid. 

"The work of Civic Action teams^ at the same grass-roots level 
as that of Coinmunist workers^ proved effective. They became the 
'targets of Communist agents^ with political attacks (such as stirring 
up local Cochin-Chinese against Tonkinese Civic Action personnel) 
and then murders. Even while the field work was in its early develop- 
ment stage_j President Diem ordered the teams to start working directly 
with Army commands in pacification campaigns; as the civil government 
"troops" in what were essentially combat zones. As Civic Action proved 
itself; it was extended to all provinces south of the 17th Parallel." 

Had the cadres been able to confine themselves to these 
missions; and had the several Saigon ministries; whose field responsibil- 
ities they had ass-umed; been content to have them continue to represent 
them; matters might have developed differently. As it happened; the 
cadres became preoccupied with Diem's Anti-Communist campaign; and their 
operations came under bureaucratic attack from .Saigon agencies unwilling 
to allow the Civic Action teams to carry their programs to the people. 
Both influences converted the cadre into exclusively propagandistic and 
political instruments; and drew them away from economic or social activi- 
ties; in late 1956; Civic Action was cut back severely. In 1957^ Kieu 
Cong Cung died; and Nhu absorbed the remnants into his organization. 

h, land Eef orm 

But the salesmen were less at faiolt than the product. Diem 
had to promise much and deliver well to best the Viet Minh in rural reform^ 

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^ ^ but his promises were moderate^ his delivery on them both slow and 

incomplete. The anarchy prevalent in the countryside during the First 
Indochina ¥ar had benefited the peasant by driving -off the French and 
Vietnamese large landlords. When the Viet Minh "liberated" an area^ 
they distributed these lands free to the farmers ;, and generally won 
their allegiance thereby. Columnist Joseph Alsop visited one such Viet 
Minh controlled region in December^ 195^^ just before they withdrew 
their military forces^ and reported that: 63 / 

"It was difficult for me, as it is for any Westerner, to 
conceive of a Communist government's genuinely 'serving the 
people,' I could hardly imagine a Commimist government that 
was also a popular government and almost a democratic govern- 
ment. But this was just the sort of government the palm- hut 
state actually was while the struggle with the French continued. 
The Viet Minh could not possibly have carried on the resistance 
"for one year, let alone nine years, without the people's strong, 
untied support , " 

One of Diem's primary failures lay in his inability similarly 
to capture loyalties among his 90 percent agricuJ^tiiral people. The core 
of rural discontent was the large land holdings: in 195^ one quarter of 
one percent of the population owned forty percent of the rice growing 
land, 6^/ The Diem program to ameliorate this situation for the land- 
hungry peasants took the form of: (l) resettlement of refugees and others 
on uncultivated land, begun in I955; (2) expropriation of all rice land 
holdings above 2^7 acres, and redistribution of these to tenant farmers, 
a program announced in 1956, but, delayed in starting until 1958i snd (3) 
regulation of landlord-tenant relations, effected in 1957^ which fixed 
rents within the range I5-25 percent of crop yield, and guaranteed tenant 
tenure for 3 to 5 years. 65/ Both the resettlement and redistribution 
programs guaranteed payments to former owners of the appropriated land; 
although the land was reasonably priced, and payraent allowed over an extended 
period, the farmers faced payments, and these immediately aroused opposition. 
Settlers moved into a wilderness, required to clear and irrigate theretofore 
unused land, could not see why they should pay for their holdings. Tenant 
farmers were also disaffected, for though rents of hO percent of crop had 
been common before the way, many farmers, after eight or so rent-free years, 
could see no justice in resuming payments to a long absent owner, particu- 
larly since the Viet Minh had assured them the land vras theirs by right. 
Nor were many mollified by redistributed land. Land redistribution suffered 
according to one American expert, from a "lack of serious, interested admin- 
istrators and topside command. Government officials, beginning with the 
Minister for Agrarian Refon-fi, had divided loyalties, being themselves 
landholders." But even if the goals of the program had been honestly ful- 
filled -- which they were not -- only 20/o of rice land would have passed 
from large to small farmers. Ultimately only lO/o of all tenant farmers 
benefited. A bolder program, with a maximum holding of 124 acres, could 
have put 33 percent of rice land up for transfer. As it happened, however, 
the redistribution program was not only of limited scope, but slow; by I958 

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or 1959:, it was virtually inoperative. Bernard Fall has reported that 
despite Diem's land reforms^ h% of the land remained concentrated in 
the hands of 2/o of landowners^ and 75/a in the hands of 15^. §S/ Moreover,, 
since the Immediate beneficiaries were more often than not Northerners^ 
refugees^ and Catholics^ the programs acquired an aura of GVN favoritism^, 
and deepened peasant alienation. In time there ^re also rumors of corrup- 
tion^ with widespread allegations that the Diem family had enriched itself 

through the manipulation of the land transfers. 


As an example of Diem^s rural programs in action at the 
village level which serves to demonstrate how they fell wide of the mark 
of meeting rural expectations^ that of the village communal land is 
instructive- 67/ After the long period of disrupted public administration 
during the Franco- Viet Minh War^ land records were chaotic. Under Diem, 
the G7N seized outright nearly half a million acres of land whose title 
was unclear. Some of this land was rented^, the GVN acting as the landlord; 
some was fanned by ARVW units; and some was converted into communal land 
and the title passed to village councils. The village councils were then 
supposed to hold an annual auction of communal land; in which farmers wishing 
to use certain plots submitted sealed bids. Although this seemed to the 
casual western observer an equitable system^ in actuality it was quite 
vicious. The bidding farmers were usually seeking to rent land they had 
been farming free for years. Whether this were the case or not^ however^ 
rice growing is a labor intensive process which requires of the farmer a 
substantial capital investment year by year to build up dikes and ditches. 
To assure himself that he would not lost this investment ^ a man farming a 
plot declared communal land felt compelled to raise his bid each succeeding 
year to avoid loss of that capital/ and to preclude losing his hard work. 
The consequent competition^ however modern^ shook the roots of traditional 
Asian farming communities^ for the arrangem^ent had the major disadvantage 
of creating uncertainty over land from year to year -- the antithesis of 
security for the rice-growing peasant. To cap these disadvantages,, village 
councils were often less than honesty and tended to be considerably less 
willing than a paternal landlord to tide the farmer over after a bad crop 
year; if his subsequent bid were low^ he lost his land. 

There is another chapter in the history of GVN-farmer relation- 
ships which illustrates similar clumsiness. In 195^^ as the GVN launched 
its land reform program, Ngo Dinh Nhu enlisted the aid of the Confederation 
of Vietnamese labor^ which had been organizing tenant farmers in prom.oting 
the government's policies through its rural representatives. _^/ The GVN 
then proceeded to form, its ovm, NEM-connected, Farmers' Associations. The 
latter, interconnected with province officials and with landowners, actively 
opposed the union organizers, with the result that many of the latter were 
jailed. Within a year or two, the union was destroyed for all practical 
purposes. Few of the NM FariTiers * Associations ever did function on behalf 
of the farmers; of 288 associations reported in-being by the GVN, a USOM 
study in I96I could find only 35 which represented peasant interests in 
any active sense. 

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5. Village Government 

A further example of Diem's maladroitness was his abolishing 
elections for village councils^ a step he took in J^me^ 195^^ apparently- 
cut of concern that large numbers of former Viet Minh might win office at 
the village level. ^/ The Vietnamese village had traditionally^ even 
under the French,, enjoyed administrative autonomy^ and the village council 
was a coterie of prominent residents who were the government in most simple 
civic matters^ adjudicating disputes^ collecting taxes^ and managing public 
funds. Under the national regulation of I956, members of council and the 
village chief became appointive officials;, and their offices subject to 
scrutiny by the Diemist apparatus. The results were again a thrusting 
forward of Northern Catholics^ city dwellers^ or other non-local trustees 
of the GVDI; to assume control at the key political level of South Vietnam^ 
to handle fiscal matters^, and to manage the communal lands. For the same 
reasons that the villagers had mistrusted the Civic Action cadre, they 
found the GVN officials strange, and not a little incomprehensible. Also, 
since these officials were the creatures of the province chiefs, corruption 
at the province level -- then, as in recent years, not uncommon -- was 
transmitted directly to the village. Dang Due Khoi, a young nationalist 
who rose to become Diem's press officer, and then turned against him, 
regarded Diem's decision to abolish the village councils his vital error: 

"Even if the Viet Minh had won some elections, the danger 
of doing away with the traditional system of village election 
was even greater. This was something that was part of the Viet- 
namese way of life, and the. concept should have been retained 
without interfering with Diem's legitimate desire ~ indeed, his 
need -- for a strong central government. The security problem 
existed, but it wouldn't have made much difference if the Viet 
Minh had elected some village chiefs -- they soon established 
their own undergromid governments anyway. Diem's mistake was in 
paralyzing himself. He should have adopted a more intelligent 
and persuasive policy and concentrated at the outset on obtaining the 
support of the people. In that way, he could have properly challenged 
the Viet Minh." JO/ 

Thus, Ngo Dinh began, in I956, to place the "security problem" ahead of 
rural revolution. 

6. The Anti"Comm„unist Campaign 

Indeed, vocal ant i- communism became more central to Diem*s 
rural programs than land reform. Like the Can Lao Party, the GVI^ borrowed 
heavily from communist technique in combating the Viet Minh and their 
residual influence — urged on, in some instances at least, by their 
American advisers. In the svirnmer of 1955, the government launched an 
Anti-Communist Denunciation Campaign, which included a scheme for classi- 
fying the populace into lettered political groups according to attitude 
toward the Viet Minh, and village ceremonies similar to corainimist 


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self-criticism sessions. Viet Minh cadres and sympathizers would appear 
before the audience to swear their disavowal of coinmunism. The peni- 
tents would tell tales of Viet Minh atrocities^ and rip or trample a 
suitable Viet Minh symbol. In February^ 195^^ tens of .thousands of 
Saigon citizens assembled to witness the "conversion" of 2^000 former 
Viet Minh cadres. Tran Chanh Tanh^ head of the GVN Department of Informa- 
tion and Youth_j announced in May_j 1956^ that the campaign had "entirely 
destroyed the predominant communist influence of the previous nine years." 7l/ 
According to his figures,, ^k^Ohl former communist cadres had rallied to the 
GVN^ 5^613 other cadres had surrendered to government forces^ 119^95^'- 
veapons had been captured,, 75 tons of documents ^ and TOT underground arms 
caches had been discovered. One Saigon newspaper boldly referred to Tanh's 
proceedings as a "puppet show" -- for which it was closed down. What 
relationship GVN statistics bore to reality is not known. T^ / 

However^ for many peasants the Ant i- Communist Campaign was 
considerably more than theatrics. Diem^ in a Presidential Ordinance of Janu- 
ary 11^ 1956^ expanded upon an existing system of political re-education 
centers for communists and active communist supporters. TS/ The 195^ 
order authorized the arrest and detention of anyone deemed dangerous to 
the safety of the state^ and thfeir incarceration in one of several concen- 
tration camps. The Secretary of State for Information disclosed in 1956 
that 15; 000 to 20^000 communists had been in these centers since 195^^ a 
figure probably low at the time^ and undoubtedly raised thereafter. jk_/ 
On May 6^ 1959^ the GW promulgated Law 10/59^ which stiffened penalties 
for communist aff illations^ and permitted trial of accused by special 
military tribunals. That year Anti-Communist Denunciation was also stepped 
up. In 1960^ a GVN Ministry of Information release stated that ^8^250 
persons had been jailed between 195^ and 196O; but a French observer 
estimates the numbers in jail at the end of 1956 alone at 50^000. T5 / 
p. J. Honey^ who was invited by Diem to investigate certain of the re- 
education centers in 1959^ reported that on the basis of his talks 
with former inmates^ "the consensus of the opinions expressed by these 
people is that... the majority of the detainees are neither communists 
nor pro-comraunists. " jG/ ' 

The Ant i- Communist Campaigns targetted city-dwellers ^ but it 
was in the rural areas^ where the Viet Minh had been most strong, that it 
was applied most energetically. For example, in 1959 the Information Chief 
of An Xuyen Province (Cau Mau region) reported that a five week Anti- 
Coirimunist Campaign by the National Revolutionary Movement had resulted in 
the surrender of 8,125 communist agents, and the denunciation of 9^8o6 
other agents and 29,9T8 sympathizers. TT / To furnish the oi^ganization 
and spark enthusiasm for such undertakings, Ngo Dinh Miu organized in 
1958 the Republican Youth, which with Madame Nhu's Solidarity Movement, 
became a vehicle for rural paramilitary training, political, and intelli- 
gence activities. T8/ Nhu saw the Republican Youth as a means for bringing 
"controlled liberty^ to the countryside, and it seems certainly to have 
assisted in extending his control. 


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The GVN also tried to reorganize rural society from the 
family level up on the communist cellular model. Each family was 
grouped with two to six others into a Mutual Aid Family Group (lien gia )^ 
and a like nimiber of lien gia comprised a Khom. 79 / There was an 
appointed chief for both^ serving as a chain of command for the community^ 
empowered to settle petty disputes_, and obligated to pass orders and 
information down from the authorities. Each lien gia was held respon- 
sible for the political behavior of its members^ and was expected to 
report suspicious behavior (the presence of strangers^ unusual departures^ 
and like events). Each house was required to display on a board outside a 
listing of the number and sex of its inhabitants. These population 
control measures were combined with improved systems of provincial police 
identification cards and fingerprinting. The central government thus 
became visible--and resented — at the village level as it had never been 
before in Vietnam. 

7* Population Relocation 

Security and control of the populace also figured in GVN 
resettlement plans. Even the refugee relief programs had been executed 
with an eye to national security. Diem visualized a "living wall" of 
settlers between the lowland populace and the jungle and mountain redoubts 
of dissidents. 8o/ From flying trips^ or from military maps^ he personally 
selected the sites for resettlement projects (Khu Dinh Dien ) — often in 
locales deprived of adequate water or fertile soil — to which were moved 
pioneering communities of Northern refugees^ or settlers from the over- 
crowded Annam coast. Between April 1957 and late 196l^ one GVN report 
showed 210 _j 000 persons resettled in 1^7 centers carved from 220^000 acres 
of wilderness. Some of the resentments over payments for resettled virgin 
land were mentioned above. More importantly^ however^ these "strategic" 
programs drew a disproportionate share of foreign aid for agriculture; by 
U.S. estimates; the 2^ of total population affected by resettlement received 
50fo of total aid. 

The resettlements precipitated unexpected political reactions 
from the Montagnard peoples of the Central Vietnam Highlands- The tribes 
were traditionally hostile to the Vietnamese^ and proved to be easily 
mobilized against the GVN. In 1959 the GVN began to regroup and consoli- 
date the tribes into defensible communities to decrease their vulnerability, 
to anti-government agents^ and to ease the applying of cultural uplift 
programs- By late I96I these relocations were being executed on a large 
scale. In Kontum Province_j for instance^ 35^000 tribesmen were regrouped 
in autumn I96I; about 50 percent of its total Montagnard population. 81 / 
Some of the hill people refused to remain in their new communities^ but the 
majority stayed. In the long run_j the relocations probably had the effect 
of focusing Montagnard discontent against the GYE^ and facilitating,, rather 
than hindering; the subversion of the tribes. When, in 1964; tribes 
around Ban Me Thuot rebelled openly against the GVIM; they ral^.icd around 
FULRO; a Montagnard autonomy movement with Viet Cong ties. In the recita- 
tion of wrongs and demands that FULRO presented to the GVN; it asserted 

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that "solutions must be found for the resettlement villages which have 
infringed upon land of the highland people,, and for the highland villages 
which are surrounded by military camps and consequently do not have 
enough land to make a living." 82/ 

But the relocations which catalized the most widespread and 
dangerous anti-GVIT sentiment were those attempted among the South Vietnamese 
farmers beginning in 1959. in February^ 1959^ a pilot program of political 
bifurcation was quietly launched in the areas southwest of Saigon which had 
been controlled by the Viet Minh. 83/ Its objective was to resettle 
peasants out of areas where GVI^ police or military forces could not operate 
routinely^ into new^ policed comtn\jn.ities of two distinct political colora- 
tions. Into one type of these "rural agglomerations/' called qui khU j were 
grouped families with relatives among the Viet Minh or Viet Cong^ or sus- 
pected of harboring pro- Viet Cong sentim.ents. Into another type^ called 
qui ap ^ were grouped GVT^-oriented families. Security was the primary 
reason for selecting the sites of these comraunities^ which meant that in 
many instances the peasants were forced to move some distance from their 
land. The French had attempted^ on a small scale , such peasant relocations 
in 1953 in Tonkin; Diem encountered in 1959^, as had they, stiff resistance 
from the farmers over separation from their livelihood and ancestral landhold 
But Diem's plan also aroused apprehensions during qui khu designates over 
the Anti-Coiamunist Campaign. With a rare sensitivity to rural protest^ the 
GVW suspended the program in March; 1959^ after only a month. 

In July, 19'^9^ however. Diem announced that the GVN' was 
undertaking to Improve rural standards of living throiogh establishing 
some 80 "prosperity and density centers" ( khu tru mat ). 8^ / These 
"agrovilles" were to be located along a "strategic route system" -- key 
roadS; protected by the new towns. Some 80 agrovilles were to be built 
by the end of I963, each designed for UOO families (2,000 to 3;.000 people), 
and each with a surrounding cluster of smaller agrovilles, ap tru mat , for 
120 families. The G7N master plan provided for each community defense, 
schools, dispensary, market center, public garden -- even electricity- The 
new communities seemed to offer the farmers many advantages, and the GVN 
expected warm support. But the peasants objected to the agrovilles even 
more sharply than they had the earlier experiment. The agrovilles were 
supposed to be constructed by peasants themselves; Corvee labor was resorted 
to, and thousands of Republican Youth were imported to help. For example, 
at one site -- Vi Thanh near Can Tho -- 20,000 peasants were assembled from 
four districts, many more than the number who could expect to profit 
directly from the undertaking. 85/ Moreover, even most of those who were 
selected to move into agrovilles they had helped build, did so unwillingly, 
for it often meant abandoning a cherished ancestral home, tombs, and 
developed gardens and fields for a strange and desolate place. The 
settler was expected to tear down his old house to obtain materials for 
the new, and received GVW aid to the extent of a grant of $5-50, and 
an agricuJ-tural loan to assist him in paying for his allotted I.5 acres 
of land near the agroville. Peasant resistance, and then insurgent 
attacks on the agrovilles, caused abandonment of the program in early 
1961, with only 22 out of 80 communities completed. 86/ 

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The agroville program was eventually superseded by the GVN 
strategic hamlet program;, formally launched by President Diem in February, 
1962, which avoided the mistake of trying to erect whole new communities 
from the groiind up. 87/ Rather, the plan aiined at fortifying existing 
villages, but did include provisions for destroying indefensible hamlets, 
and relocation of the inhabitants into more secure communities. The 
strategic hamlet, ap chien luoc , also eschewed elaborate social or economic 
development schemes, concentrating on civil defense through crude fort if i- • 
cations and organizing the populace to improve its military capability and 
political cohesiveness. In some exposed sites, "combat hamlets" were 
established, with a wholly militarized population. High goals were estab- 
lished, the GVN announcing that by I963 some 11,000 of the country's l6,000- 
17,000 hamlets would be fortified. In this instance, as before, the GVN 
encountered opposition from the peasants, and as before, the insurgents 
attacked it vigorously. Despite its relative sophistication, the strategic 
hamlet program, like its predecessors, drove a wedge not between the insurgents 
and the farmers but between the farmers and the GVN, and eventuated in less 
rather than more security in the countryside. 

8 . Rural Security Forces 

SecujTity v/as the foremost consideration of the GVN's rural 
programs, and American aid was lavished on the GVN security apparatus 
in general. It is surprising, therefore, that the GVN tolerated so ineffec- 
tive a security apparatus at the village level. The Self-Defense Corps 
(SDC) and the Civil Guard (cg), charged with rural security, were poorly 
trained and equipped, miserably led, and incapable of coping with insurgents; 
they could scarcely defend themselves, much less the peasantry. Indeed, 
they proved to be an asset to insurgents in two respects: they served as 
a source of weapons; and their brutality, petty thievery, and disorderliness 
induced innumerable villagers to join in open revolt against the GVN. 08 / 
Nor was the ARVN much better, although its conduct improved over the years; 
in any event, the ARVN seldom was afield, and its interaction with the rural 
populace through I959 was relatively slight. It should be noted that the 
SDC and the CG, the security forces at the disposal of the provincial admin- 
istration, were often no more venal nor offensive to the peasants than the 
local officials themselves. Corrupt, arrogant, and overbearing, the men 
the people knew as the GVN were among the greatest disadvantages of the GVN 
in its rural efforts. 

E. Urban Polit i cal Alien ation. 

The rigidity of GVN rural political policy was mirrored in the 
cities: the regitne became preoccupied with security to the exclusion of 
other concerns, with the result that step by step it narrowed its active 
or potential ■ supporters, aroused increasing fears among its critics, and 
drove them toward extremism. In a step similar to that he took on village 
council elections, Diem abolished elections for municipal councils in 1956. 89/ 
The Ant i- Communist Den'onciation Campaign had its urban counterpart, but com- 
munist strength in the French-occupied cities had been less than in the 
countryside, and threats or imagined challenges to Diem's government were 
seen as coming from other elements as well. The cities, of course, had 

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sustained Vietnam's intellectual life^ and had been the epi-centers of 
such political life as the French had permitted the Vietnamese to pursue. 
Opposition to Diem formed around the old nationalist movements^ including 
the pro-Bao Dai groups Diem labeled "feudalists^ " around intellectual and 
individual professional politicians^ and eventually around military leaders. 
Diem's policies successively alienated each. 

1- "Feudalists" 

The Civic Action teams which Diem projected into the former 
Viet Minh areas in I955 trumpeted against "Communism^ Colonialism,, and 
Feudalism/' the last inveighing against Bao Dai^ v/ho waS; at the time^ 
still Head of state. 90/ "Feudalist" was one epithet applied sweepingly 
to the religious sectS;, and to all those whose position or fortune depended 
upon Bao Dai^ from the Binh Xuyen who had purchased its control over Saigon- 
Cholon from the Bnperor^ to civil servants and army officers loyal to Bao Dai. 
The label was virtually as damning as "Communist" in incurring the ungentle 
attentions of Win or Can. In the early years "feudalists" and "communists" 
were often tarred by the same brush. For example^ the Ant i- Communist 
Denunciation Campaign got undervray in Quang Tri Province in 1955;» under 
Ngo Dinh Can. But Can was also in pursuit of the anti-communist Dai Viet 
(Great Vietnam) Party there^ which had armed units and^ for a tme^ an 
anti-government radio station. As with the communists^ many Dai Viet were 
killed^ imprisoned^ or driven into exile- 91 / Diem's defeat of Bao Dai 
at the polls in October^ 1955;* strengthened"his hand against pro-Bao Dai 
groups. With the withdrawal of the French the following springy it became 
Imprudent for any politician or group who wished to avoid Can 3Lao and MM 
scrutiny to maintain ties with "feudalists" in hiding in Vietnam^ or 
operating from abroad. Despite the fact that opposition Vietnamese 
nationalist parties had been strongly influenced in their organization and 
methods by the Kuomintang^ they had never developed sufficient internal 
discipline^ cohesion or following to admit of challenging Diem after 1956. 
Such opposition political forces as developed centered around individuals. 
(Only two non-Diem^ non-communist political parties survived the Diem era: 
the Nationalist Party of Greater Vietnam (Dai Viet Qhoc Dan Dang ^ the Dai 
Viet) and the Vietnamese Nationalist Party~( Vi6 t Nam Quoc Dan Dang ^ the 

vnqdd) ) , 92/ 

2. Dr. Dan . 

j I Until November_, 1960^ Diem's most praninent political opponent 

was Doctor Phan Quang Dan. Dr. Dan was a northern physician who .had been 
caught up in nationalist politics in 19^1-5^ and lived in exile after 19^7. 
He returned to Vietnam in September^ 1955; "to head up a coalition of opposi- 
tion to the GVN arrangeraents for the March; 195^; elections for the National 
Assembly. 93 / He was arrested on the eve of those elections^ accused of 
communist and colonialist activities^, and though released_, deprived of his 
position at the University of Saigon Medical School. His subsequent political 
career underscores the astringent nature of Diem's democracy. In May_, 1957 
I Dr. Dan formed another opposition coalition^ the Democratic Bloc^ which 

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acquired a newspaper called Thoi Luan . Thoi Luan became the best-selling 
newspaper in South Vietnam (all papers were published in Saigon,^ except 
Can's government paper in Hue )^ with a circiiLation of about 80^000 copies- 
After a series of statements critical of the GVN^ Thoi Luan was sacked 
by a mob in September^ 1957- Unheeding of that warning^ the paper continued 
an opposition editorial policy until March^ 1958^ when the GVN closed the 
paper^ and gave the editor a stiff fine and a suspended prison sentence 
for an article including the following passage: ^1 

"What about your democratic election? 

"During the city-council and village council elections 
under the "medieval and colonialist' Nguyen Van Tam Adminis- 
tration /under Bao-Dai^ in 19537:* constituents were threatened 
and compelled to vote; but they were still better than your 
elections^ because nobody brought soldiers into Saigon by the 
truckload ''to help with the voting. ' 

"What about your presidential regime? 


"You are proud for having created for Viet-Nam a regime that 
you think is similar to that of the United States. If those regimes 
are similar^ then they are as related as a skyscraper is to a tin- 
roofed shack_, in that they both are houses to live in. 

"In the U.S.A. ^ Congress is a true parliament and Congressmen 
are legislators^, i.e._, free, and disinterested men who are not 
afraid of the government^ and who know their duties and dare to 
. _ carry them' out. Here the deputies are political functionaries 

who make laws like an announcer in a radio station^ by reading out 
loud texts that have been prepared /for them/ beforehand " 95/ 

A month later^ the Democratic Bloc collapsed. Dr. Dan attempted to obtain 
GVN recognition for another party _, the Free Deraocratic Party _, and permission 
to publish another paper. No GVN action was ever taken on either applica- 
tion_5 but a number of Dr. Dan's followers in the new party v/ere arrested. 
When in March^ 1959^ the newspaper Tin Bac published an article by Dr. Dan^ 
it was closed down. In June_j 1959^ the newspaper Nguoi Viet Tu Do was , 
similarly indiscreet^ and met the same fate. In August^ 1959; D^- Dan 
ran for a seat in the National Assembly^ was elected by a six-to-one 
margin over Diem's candidate running against him^ but was disqualified 
by coiort action before he could take his seat. Dr. Dan's career of opposi- 
tion to Diem ended in November_j 1960^ when he became the political adviser 
to the group who attempted a coup d^etat. Dan was arrested and jailed^ 
and remained there until the end of the Diem regime three years later. 

3. The Caravelle Group^ I96Q 

But Dr. Dan was an exceptionally bold antagonist of Diem. 
No other politician dared vrhat he did. Even he^ however ^ was unable to 
bring any uinity to the opposition. Such other leaders as there v/ere 

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distrusted Dan^ or feared the GW. There was^ however^ one occasion in 
the spring of I96O when opposition to Diem did coalesce. There was 
change in the international political winds that year -- a students' 
revolt in Korea_j an army revolt in Turkey^ demonstrations in Japan which 
resulted in cancellation of President Eisenhower's planned visit. Diem ■ 
remembered I96O well^ as a "treasure chest for the communists." 95./ 

"The United States press and the world press started saying 
that democracy was needed in the under-developed countries. 
This came just in time for the commimists. Some of the United 
States press even incited people to rebellion. 

"That year was the worst we have ever had... We had problems 
on all fronts. On the one hand we had to fight the communists. 
On the other_, we had to deal with the foreign press campaign 
to incite rebellion vis-a-vis Korea. These were sore anxieties_, 
for some unbalanced people here thought it was time to act. 
Teachers in the private secondary schools began to incite the 
students to follow the. example of the Korean students. And 
then there were our amateur politicians who were outdated and 
thought only of taking revenge . . . . " 

The last reference was to the Caravelle Group^ who issued at the Caravelle 
Hotel in late Aprils 1960^ a "manifesto" of grievances against the GYN. 
The eighteen signers were all old-time politicians^ leaders of the Cao 
Dai and Hoa Hao sects^j the Dai Viet and the WQDD parties,, and dissenting 
Catholic groups. Eleven had been Cabinet ministers; four had been in 
other high government positions. They organized themselves as the Bloc 
for Liberty and Progress^ with a. platform of constitutional revision 
toward -greater power for the National Assembly against the Presidency. 
Dr. Dan could not be induced to join the Caravelle Group; but in the 
Diem cleanup after the November^ I960 coup attempt; the GVN arrested most 
of the eighteen^ and their Bloc disintegrated. The Caravelle Manifesto 
is reproduced below: 9§/ 


The President of the Republic of Viet -Nam 

Mr. President: 


We the undersigned; representing a group of eminent citi- 
zens and personalities^ intellectuals of all tendencies^ and 
men of good will; recognize in the face of the gravity of the 
present political situation that we can no longer remain 
indifferent to the realities of life in our country. 

Therefore; we officially address to you today an appeal with 
the aim of exposing to you the whole truth in the hope that the 
governraent v/ill accord it all the attention necessary so as to 
urgently modify its policies; so as to remedy the present situ- 
ation and lead the people out of danger. 

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Let us look tox^^ard the past, at the time when you were 
abroad^ For eight or nine years, the Vietnamese people suf-» 
fered many trials due to the war: They passed from French 
domination to Japanese occupation, from revolution to resis- 
tance, from the nationalist imposture behind which hid 
communism to a pseudo- independence covering up for colonial- 
ism; from terror to terror, from sacrifice to sacrifice -- 
in short, from promise to promise, until finally hope ended 
in bitter disillusiono 

Thus, when you x^ere on the point of returning to the 
country, the people as a whole entertained the hope that it 
would find again under your guidance the peace that is neces- 
sary to give meaning to existence, to reconstruct the de- 
stroyed homes, put to the plow again the abandoned lands. 
The people hoped no longer to be compelled to pay homage to 
one regime in the morning and to another at night, not to 
be the prey of the cruelties and oppression of one faction; 
no longer to be treated as coolies; no longer to be at the 
mercy of the monopolies; no longer, to have to endure the 
depredations of corrupt and despotic civil servants. In 
one V7ord, the people hoped to live in security at last, 
under a regime which would give them a little bit of justice 
and liberty. The whole people thought that you would be the 
man of the situation and that you would implement its hopes. 

That is the way it was when you returned. The Geneva 
Accords of 1954 put an end to combat and to the devastations 
of waro The French Expeditionary Corps was progressively 
withdrax\m, and total independence of South Viet Nam had 
become a reality. Furthermore, the country had benefited 
from moral encouragement and a substantial increase of 
foreign aid from the free world. With so many favourable 
political factors, in addition to the blessed geographic 
conditions of a fertile and rich soil yielding agricultural, 
forestry, and fishing surpluses, South Viet Nam should have 
been able to begin a definitive victory in the historical 
competition X"7ith the North, so as to carry out the V7ill of 
the people and to lead the country on the way to hope, 
liberty, and happiness. Today, six years later, having 
benefited from so many undeniable advantages, what has the 
government been able to do? Where has it led South Viet Nam? 
What parts of the popular aspirations have been implemented? 

Let us try to draw an objective balance of the situation, 
without flattery or false accusations, strictly following a 
constructive line which you yourself have so often indicated, 
in the hope that the government shall modify its policies so 
as to extricate itself from a situation that is extremely 
dangerous to the very existence of the nation^ 


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i; Policies 

I ^^^i*^ta»«^^ ■ I m ■ V I r 

1 In spite of the fact that the bastard regime created and 

; protected by colonialism has been overthrox^n and that many of 

the feudal organizations of factions and parties which oppress 
I • the population were destroyed, the people do not know a better 

i/ life or more freedom under the republican regime which you 

i] have created. A constitution has been established in form 

only; a National Assembly exists whose deliberations always 
fall into line with the government; antidemocratic elections 
-" all those are methods and "comedies" copied from the 
dictatorial Communist regimes, which obviously cannot serve 
as terms of comparison with North Viet Nam^ 

Continuous arrests fill the jails and prisons to the 
rafters, as at this precise moment; public opinion and the 
press are reduced to silencco The same applies to the popular 
will as translated in certain open elections, in which it is 
insulted and trampled (as was the case, for example, during 
the recent elections for the Second Legislature) « All these 
have provoked the discouragement and resentment of the people,^ 

Political parties and religious sects have been eliminated. 
"Groups" or "movements" have replaced them. But this substi- 
tution has only brought about new oppressions against the 
population without protecting it for that matter against Com- 
munist enterprises^ Here is one example: the fiefs of reli- 
gious sects, which hitherto were deadly for the Communists, 
now not only provide no security whatever but have become 
favored highways for Viet Minh guerrillas, as is, by the way, 
the case of the rest of the countryo 

This is proof that the religious sects, though futile, 
nevertheless constitute effective anti-Communist elements. 
Their elimination has opened the way to the Viet Cong and 
unintentionally has prepared the way for the enemy, whereas 
a more realistic and more flexible policy could have amal- 
gamated them all with a vaev to reinforcing the anti-Comraunist 

Today the people want freedom^ You should, Mr. President, 
liberalize the regime, promote democracy, guarantee minimum 
civil rights, recognize the opposition so as to permit the 
citizens to e^qpress themselves without fear, thus removing 
grievances and resentments, opposition to which now consti- 
tutes for the people their sole reason for existence. When 

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this occurs, the people of South Viet Nam, in comparing their 
position with that of the North, will appreciate the value of 
true liberty and of authentic democracyo It is only at that 
time that the people will make all the necessary efforts and 
sacrifices to defend that liberty and democracy^ 


The size of the territory has shrunk, but the number of civil 
servants has increased, and still the work doesn't get done. 
This is because the government, like the Communists, lets the 
political parties control the population, separate the elite 
from the lower echelons, and sow distrust between those indivi- 
duals who are "affiliated with the movement" and those who are 
"outside the group." Effective power, no longer in the hands 
of those who are usually responsible, is concentrated in fact 
in the hands of an irresponsible member of the "family," from 
whom emanates all orders; this slows down the administrative 
machinery, paralyzes all initiative, discourages good will.. At 
the same time, not a month goes by without the press being full 
of stories about graft impossible to hide; this becomes an end- 
less parade of illegal transactions involving millions of piastres 

The administrative machinery, already slowed doxm, is about 
to become completely paralyzedo It is in urgent need of reor- 
ganization. Competent people should be put back in the proper 
jobs; discipline must be re-established from the top to the 
bottom of the hierarchy; authority must go hand in hand with 
responsibility; efficiency, initiative, honesty, and the economy 
should be the criteria for promotion; professional qualifications 
should be respected. Favoritism based on family or party con- 
nections should be banished; the selling of influence, corruption 
and abuse of power must be punished. 

Thus, everything still can be saved, human dignity can be re- 
established; faith in an honest and just government can be re- 


The French Expeditionary Corps has left the country, and a 
republican army has been constituted, thanks to American aid, 
which has equipped it v/ith modern materiel „ Nevertheless, even 
in a group of the proud elite of the youth such as the Viet- 
namese Amiy -- where the sense of honor should be cultivated, 
whose blood and arms should be devoted to the defense of the 

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country, where there should be no place for clannishness and 
factions -- the spirit of the "national revolutionary move- 
ment" or of the "personalist body" divides the men of one and 
the same unit, sows distrust between friends of the same rank, 
and uses as a criterion for promotion fidelity toward the 
party in blind submission to its leaders. This creates ex- 
tremely dangerous situations, such as the recent incident of 

The purpose of the army, pillar of the defense of the 
country, is to stop foreign invasions and to eliminate rebel 
movementSo It is at the service of the country only and 
should not lend itself to the exploitation of any faction or 
party. Its total reorganization is necessaryo Clannishness 
and party obedience should be eliminated; its moral base 
strengthened; a noble tradition of national pride created; 
and fighting spirit, professional conscience, and bravery 
should become criteria for promotion. The troops should be 
encouraged to respect their officers, and the officers should 
be encouraged to love their men. Distrust, jealousy, rancor 
among colleagues of the same rank should be eliminated. 

Then in case of danger, the nation will have at its dis- 
posal a valiant army animated by a single spirit and a single 
aspiration: to defend the most precious possession -- our 
country, Viet Nam. 

Economic and Social Affairs 

~- • -1 1 1 ■iTn.TBir_ ^^__L---in- a , ■ ■ ii i, . ■■ jub-. — ^ ■ 

A rich and fertile country enjoying food surpluses; a 
budget which does not have to face military expenditures,-- 
important war reparations; substantial profits from Treasury 
bonds; a colossal foreign-aid program; a developing market 
capable of receiving foreign capital investments -- those 
are the many favorable conditions which could make Viet Nam 
a productive and prosperous nation. However, at the present 
time many people are out of work, have no roof over their 
heads, and no money. Rice is abundant but does not sell; 
shop windows are well-stocked but the goods do not move. 
Sources o^ revenue are in the hands of speculators -- who 
use the /_governmen_t/ party and group to mask monopolies 

ii This refers to the penetration of the compoimci of the 3'^^'- AK^/InI Regriient 
in J^.nuary, I96O, when coTMinnist forces killed 23 soldiers and captured 
.hundreds of weapons . 

The military expenditures of the Vietnamese budget are paid out of 
U.S. economic and military aid. 

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operating for certain private interests,, At the same time, 
thousands of persons are mobilized for exhausting work, com- 
pelled to leave their own jobs, homes and families, to par- 
ticipate in the construction of magnificent but useless 
"agrovilles" which weary them and provoke their disaffection, 
thus aggravating popular resentment and creating an ideal 
terrain for enemy propaganda. 

The economy is the very foundation of society, and public 
opinion ensures the survival of the regime. The government 
must destroy all the obstacles standing in the way of econ- 
omic development; must abolish all forms of monopoly and 
speculation; must create a favorable environment for invest- 
ments coming from foreign friends as well as from our own 
citizens; must encourage commercial enterprises, develop 
industry, and create jobs to reduce unemploymento At the 
same time, it should put an end to all fo-rms of human exploi- 
tation in the work camps of the agrovilles. 

Then only the economy will flourish again; the citizen 
will find again a peaceful' life and will enjoy his condition; 
society V7ill be reconstructed in an atmosphere of freedom and 

Mr. President, this is perhaps the first time that you 
have heard such severe and disagreeable criticism -- so 
contrary to your own desires. Nevertheless, sir, these words 
are strictly the truth, a truth that is bitter and hard, that 
you have never been able to "knox^f because, whether this is in- 
tended or not, a void has been created around you, and by the 
very fact of your high position, no one permits you to per- 
ceive the critical point at which truth shall burst forth in 
irresistible vjaves of hatred on the part of a people subjected 
for a long time to terrible suffering and a people who shall 
rise to break the bonds which hold it do\mo It shall sweep 
away the ignominy and all the injustices which surround and 
oppress it. 

As we do not wish, in all sincerity, that our Fatherland 
should have to live through these perilous days, we -- without 
taking into consideration the consequences which our attitude 
may bring upon us -- are ringing today the alarm bell in view 
of the imminent danger which threatens the government. 

Until now, we have kept silent and preferred to let the 
Executive act as it wished. But now time is of the essence; 

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we feel that it is our duty -- and in the case of a nation in 
turmoil even the most humble people have their share of respon- 

ij sibility -- to speak the truth, to awaken public opinion, to 

alert the people, and to unify the opposition so as to point 
the wayo "We beseech the government to urgently modify its 

'I policies so as to remedy the situation, to defend the republi- 

can regime, and to safeguard the existence of the nation « We 
hold firm hope that the Vietnamese people shall know a brilli- 
ant future in wliich it will enjoy peace and prosperity in free- 
dom and progress. 

Yours respectfully, 

1. TRAN Vm VAN, Diploma of Higher Commercial Studies, former 
Minister of Economy and Planning 

2. PHAN KHAC SUU, Agricultural Engineer, former Minister of 
Agriculture, former Minister of Labor 

3o TRAN VAN HUONG, Professor of Secondary Education, former 
Prefect of Saigon-Cholon 

^' ^* NGUYEN LUU VIEN, M.D., former Professor at the Medical 

School, former High Commissioner of Refugees 

5. HUYNH-KIM HUU, M.D., former Minister of Public Health 

6. PHAN HUY QUAT, M.Do, former Minister of National Education, 
former Minister of Defense 

7o TRAN VAN LY, former Governor of Central Viet-Nam 


9o TRAN VAN DO, M.D., former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chair 
man of Vietnamese Delegation to the 1954 Geneva Conference 

10. LE NGOC CHAN, Attorney at Law, former Secretary of State for 
National Defense 

11 » LE QUANG LUAT, Attorney at Law, former Government Delegate 
for North Viet-Nam, former Minister of Information and 

12. LUONG TRONG TUONG, Public Works Engineer, former Secretary 
of State for National Economy 


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13- NGUYEN TANG NGUYEN^ M.D.^ former Minister of Labor and 

14. PHAM HUU CHUONG;, M.D.^ former Minister of Public Health 
and Social Action 

15. TRAN VAN TUYEN;, Attorney at Law^ former Secretary of State 
for Infonnation and Propaganda 

16. TA CffJONG PHJNG^ former Provincial Governor for Binh-Dinh 

IT* THAN IE CHAT^ laureate of the Triennial Mandarin Competi- 
tion of 1903 

18. HO VAN VUI; Reverend^ former Parish Priest of Saigon^ at 
present Parish Priest of Tha-Ia^ Province of Tay-Ninh 

The November^ 1960^ coup marked the end of opposition by 
professional politicians against Diem. In fact^ all the Caravelle group 
were arrested and jailed. Such political activity among them as occurred 
in 1962 and I963 was perforce subdued to the point that it captured atten- 
tion neither from opponents of Diem^ nor Diem himself. But I96O was 
altogether too late for effective "loyal opposition" to form. By that 
time the GVN's ability to control the press,, to manage demonst rat ions ; 
to limit travel^ and to imprison (and worse) at will,, had virtually 
paralyzed the intellectual elite of Vietnam. Nor were labor unions 
politically active^ despite their power potential. As early as I956 
the GVN had become alarmed over Communist influence in rubber workers' 
unions in Binh Duong Province^ and had arrested lonion leaders. Farmers^ 
unions were crippled by arrests of union cadre^ and the Can too proved 
itself quite capable of engineering elections within the unions as effec- 
tively as it rigged those for the National Assembly. 97/ The threat to Diem^ 
when it came^ arose from more traditional sources of power -- the religious 
sects and the armed forces. 

h. Religious Dissenters 


Diem's clash with the armed sects in 195^ a^^ 1955 had the 
unfortunate political conseq^uence of casting his regime in religious over- 
tones which deepened as the Ngo Dinh Catholicism became more widely known. 
Together with Diem's obvious U.S. backing^ these had the effect of accentu- 
ating his Occidental^ and especially American; identity. The British 
Catholic writer and commentator on Vietnam^ Graham Greene^ observed in 1955 
that : 

"it is Catholicism which has helped to ruin the government 
of Mr. Diem^ for his genuine piety has been exploited by his 
American advisers until the Church is in danger of sharing the 
unpopularity of the United States. An unfortunate visit by 

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Cardinal Spellj^ian. . .has been followed by those of Cardinal 
Gillroy and the Archbiship of Canberra. Great sums are spent 
on organized demonstrations for visitors^ and an impression is 
given that the Catholic Church is occidental and an ally of the 
United States is the cold war.... 

"In the whole of Vietnam the proportion of Catholics to the 
population is roughly the same as in England--one in ten^ a ratio 
ins-ufficient to justify a Catholic government. Mr. Diem's 
ministers are not all Catholic^ but Mr, Diem^ justifiably suspi- 
cious of many of his supporters^ has confined the actual government 
to himself and members of his family. He undertakes personally 
the granting of exit and entry visas.... The souths instead of 
confronting the totalitarian north with evidences of freedom^ had 
slipped into an inefficient dictatorship: newspapers suppressed^ 
strict censorship^ men exiled by administrative order and not by 
judgment of the courts. It is unfortunate that a government of 
this kind should be identified with one faith. Mr. Diem may well 
leave his tolerant country a legacy of anti-Catholicism...." 98 / 

I'Jhile Vietnam has an ample record of religious intolerance — especially 
intolerance for Catholics--calling into question Mr. Greeners contrary 
characterization^ his prediction of Diem's impact proved correct.. Open 
opposition to his government by civilians finally manifested itself on ■ 
the issue of "religious freedom" in Hue .and Siagon in 1963:, coalescing 
around militant Buddhists and students--two groups that were_, thereto- 
fore^ for all practical purposes politically mute. S^ l There is no 
doubt^ however^, that Diem's Catholicism from 195^ on acted to his dis- 
advantage among the non-Catholic masses^ and enhanced the My-Diem image of 
his government's being an instrument of alien power and purpose. 

P. Tensions With the Armed Forces . 


The soldiers of Vietnam presented Diem with his firsts and his last 
political chsllenges. Fart of the Army's political involvement stemmed from 
patent military inefficiency in Diem's tight control^, for which RVNAF 
leaders correctly held Diem responsible. Part also correctly can be attri- 
buted to vaulting ambition and venality among certain of Diem's officers. 
And since the United States paid_j schooled,, and advised the RVNAE^ it 
would also be correct to consider the U.S. involved^ if not responsible. 
The record of Diem's relations with RVMF; like his relations with other 
parts of Vietnamese society^, is a history of increasing tensions^ and of 
lowering mutual understanding and support. 

1. Clashes with Francophiles^ 193^-19^5 

Diem's first interactions with his army were inauspicious. 
From September to November; 195^^ Araiy Chief of Staff General Nguyen Van 
Hinh--a French citizen vrho held a commission in the French Air Force — 

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seemed on the verge of overthraviing Diem. Diem ordered Hinh out of the 
country; Hinh defied hiin. An apparent coup d'etat in late October was 
blocked by adroit maneuvering by Colonel Lansdale^ and by assurance 
from General Collins to Einh that Aiaerican support would be promptly 
withdrawn from Vietnam were his plot to succeed. As Hinh recalled it: 

"I had only to lift my telephone and the coup d ' etat woiild 
i - have been over. .. .Nothing could have opposed the aiTi]y. But the 

Americans let me know that if that happened^ dollar help would 
be cut off. That would not matter to the military. If necessar^-'-^ 
we soldiers could go barefoot and eat rice but the country cannot 
II survive without Ajnerican help.'^ lOo / ; 


Dian removed Hinh on 29 November 195^. The Acting Chief of Staffs General 
'' Nguyen Van Vy^ Diem found "insufficiently submissive/* and replaced him on 

12 December 195^ with General Le Van Ty^, kicking Vy upstairs to be Inspector 
General. lOl / In April 1955^ during the turmoil of the sect rebellion^ 
1 1 Bao Dai attempted to appoint Vy as Chief of Staff with fvll military powers^ 

and to recall Diem to France. .As Diem committed his ann^^ to battle with 
the sects^ Vy announced that^ in the name of Bao Dai; and with the backing 
. - ■ of all but ten percent of the Arm^^ he had assumed control of the govern- 
ment. However; General Ty^ Diem's Chief of Staff; remained loyal; rallied 
■ key local coimaanders around Diem; and Vy fled. Within weeks both Generals 
Hinh and Vy were afield against Diem in the Mekong Delta; maneuvering a 
disparate army of Hoa EaO; French "deserterS; " and others -- Diem's forces 
again beat them; and both then went into exile. 102/ 

2 . Milita r izing Public Administrati on ... 

What Diem remembered from these experiences was that personal 
loyalty was the prime rec[uisite for high cozmnand. As a result; he took 
an intense and direct interest in the appointments of military officers; 
and — as in other endeavors -- found it easier to place his trust in 
Northerners and Catholics. Before long; the upper echelons of the officer 
corxjs were preponderantly from these group'S; and closely netted to the 
Diem family web of preferraent. As GVN demands for loyal civil servants 
willing to forego the advantages of Saigon multiplied; Diem was impelled 
to shift trusted m-ilitary officers into his civil administration. The 
head of the General Directorate of Police and Security was a military 
officer from I956 for^-jardj his subordinates in the police apparatus included 
a growing number of military officers--for examp3.e; all the Saigon district 
police chiefs appointed in the year I96O were soldiers. I03/ The govern- 
ment in the provinces reflected sirailar moves tov;ard militarization: lOn/ 

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Trends Toward Military Officers as Province Chiefs 

No> Provinces No. Military Chiefs ^ Military Chiefs 

1958 36 '13 36 

i960 36 21 58 ■ . 

1962 kl 36 88 ; ^ 

There was a coextensive militarization of public administration at district 
and lower levels. 

3. Dissatisfaction in the Officer Corps 

But if Vietnam's soldiers found the Diem family a way to 
political power^ wealthy and social prominence^ they had ample reason to . 
be dissatisfied with Diem's intervention in their professional concerns. 
The propensity of Ngo Dinh Diem to control his militaiy with a tight rein 
extended to deciding when and where operations would be conducted^ with 
what forces^ and often how they would be used. Moreover^ he involved 
himself with the arming and equipping of the forces^ showing a distinct 
proclivity to heavy military forces of tihe conventional type^ even for the 
Civil Guard, which reinforced American military leanings in the same 
direction. 10^ / There were a few soldier s, like General Duong Van Minh, 
who sharply disagreed with the President on both points. And there was 
a growing number of young officers v7ho resented the Catholic-Northern 
dominant clique within the military, who were dissatisfied with Diem^s 
familial interference in military matters, and who were willing to enter- 
tain notions that the GVN had to be substantially modified. Nonetheless, 
until 1963, there was little apparent willingness to concert action 
against Diem. 

h. The Early Coup Attempts, I96O and 1962 

On November 11, I96O, tliree paratroop battalions stationed 
in Saigon -- considered by Diem among his most faithful — cooperated in 
an attempted coup d'etat . The leadership consisted of a small group of 
civilians and military officers: Hoang Co Thuy, a Saigon Lawyer; Lt Colonel 
Nguyen Trieu Hong, Thuy's nephew; Lt Colonel Vuong Van Dong, Hong's brother 
in law; and Colonel Nguyen Chanh Thi, the commander of the paratroops, who 
was apparently brought into the cabal at the last moment. The coup failed 
to arouse significant general pro-coup sentiment, either among the armed 
forces, or among the populace. Troops marched on Saigon, and rebels sur- 
rendered. 106 / In February, I962, two Vietnamese air force planes 
bombed the Presidential palace in an unsuccessful attempt on President 
Diem and the Nhus -- properly, an assassination attempt rather than a 
. coup d ' etat . IO7 / 

But the abortive events of I96O and I962 had the effect of 
dramatizing the choices open to those who -recognized the insolvency of 
Diem's political and military policies. When Diem was overthrown in 
November, I963, he was attacked by an apparatus that had been months in 
planning, originating in a plot by three generals, Duong Van Minh, Tran 

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Van Don_j and Le Van Kim. 108 / Unlike the earlier incident_, the 19^3 coup 
was actively supported by virtually all the generals of RVMF^ and was 
openly condoned "by large sectors of the populace. 

G. The Viet Cong 

1» Diem and Communists 

Ngo Dinh Diem presided over a state which^ for all the lip 
service it paid to individual freedom and American style government,, 
remained a one party;, highly centralized familial oligarchy in which 
neither operating democracy^ nor the prereq_uisites for such existed. On 
11 January^ 1956^ in GVN Ordinance Number 6^ President Diem decreed broad 
governmental measures providing for "the defense of the state and public 
order_j " including authority to detain "individuals considered a danger to 
the state" or to "national defense and common security" at re-education 
centers." IO9 / One month after the date of the scheduled Geneva plebescite^ 
on 21 August 1956^ the Government of Vietnam proclaimed Ordinance Number hj^ 
which defined as a breach of law punishable by death any deed performed in 
or for any organization designated as "Communist." IIO / Moreover^ the GVN 
was forced to use violence to establish itself in its own rural areas. In 
July^ 1956^ the month the Geneva elections were scheduled to have been held_, 
the U.S. Army attache in Saigon noted in his monthly report that: 

"Orders have reportedly been issued to all Viet Minh cadres 
in Free Viet Nam to increase their efforts to reorganize and 
revitalize the military units in their zones of responsibility. 
These cadres have^ however^ encountered considerable difficulty 
in motivating their adherents to work for the Communist cause. 
The military and political cadres are making little progress due 
to the Communist Denunciation Campaigns promoted by the Govern- 
ment of the Republic of Viet Nam " 111 / 

The same report submitted an ARVN estimate of ^^300 armed Viet Minh in 
all of Free Viet Nam^ and recorded small ARVN skirmishes with Viet Minh 
south of Saigon^ clashes with 10 Hoa Hao battalions^ 8 Cao Dai battalions 
north and west of Saigon^ and incidents of banditry north of Bien Hoa by 
Binh Xuyen. But^ in a relatively short time^ the fighting subsided^, the 
Vietnamese Army was x-/ithdrawn from the countryside for retraining^ .reorg- 
anization;, and modernization under the US MAAG^ and South Vietnam ostensibly 
settled into the first peace it had known in a decade. Peace rested,, however^ or 
strong central government. In an article published in the January^ 1957^ 
Foreign Affairs , an Am-erican analyst stated that: 

"South Viet Nam is today a quasi-police state characterized 
by arbitrary arrests and imprisonment^ strict censorship of the 
press and the absence of an effective political opposition.... 
All the techniques of political and psychological warfare^ as \rell 
as pacification campaigns involving extensive m_ilitary operations 
have been brought to bear against the underground." 112 / 

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■ Police states_j efficiently organized and operated^ have 
historically demonstrated much greater ability at countering insurgency 
than other sorts of governments. South Vietnam in fact succeeded in 
1955 and 1956 in quelling rural dissidence through a comprehensive polit- 
ical and military assault on sect forces and other anti-government armed 
bands using its army^ the civic action cadre^ the Comm-unist Denunciation 
campaign^ and a broad range of promised reforms. Moreover^ at its worsts 
the Government of South Vietnam compared favorably with other Asian regimes 
with respect to its degree of repressiveness. Nor did it face endemic 
violence markedly different from that then prevalent in Burma_, Indonesia^j 
South Korea. And its early "counterlnsurgency" operations were as sophis- 
ticated as any being attempted elsewhere in Asia. In 1957^ the Government 
of Viet Nam claimed that its pacification programs had succeeded: 

"We believe that with clear_, even elementary ideas based 
upon facts... we can imbue. . .first the youth and ultimately 
the entire population with the spirit and essential objectives 
of... civic humanism. We believe that this above all is the most 
effective antidote to Communism (which is but an accident of 
history) .... 

"...We can see that the Viet-Minh authorities have dis- 
integrated and been rendered powerless." II3 / 

p. J. Honey; the British expert on Vietnam^ agreed; his evaluation as of 
early I958 was as follows: 

"...The country has enjoyed three years of relative peace 
and caljn in which it has been able to carry on the very necessary 
work of national reconstruction. The most destructive feature 
in the national life of Vietnam throughout recent years has been 
the lack of security in the countryside^ which obliged farmers 
and peasants to abandon the ricefields and to flee to the large 
cities for safety. Today it is possible to travel all over South 
Vietnam without any risk. The army and security forces have 
mopped up most of the armed bands of political opponents of the 
Government; of Communists and of common bandits. One still hears 
of an isolated raid; but the old insecurity is fast vanishing...." 114 / 

After a 1959 trip; however^ Honey detected dangerous unease in the 

"For the overwhelming majority of the Vietnamese^ heirs to 
experience of a century of French colonial rule^ the Government 
is a remote body which passes lav7S; collects taxeS; demands 
labour corveeS; takes away able-bodied men for military service^ 
and generally enriches itself at the expense of the poor peasant. 
'Government' is associated In the minds of the villagers with 
exactions; punishments; unpaid labour; and other unpleasant matters. 
These people are members of families 'and members of villages; and 
their loyalties to both are strong. But these loyalties do not 
extend beyond the village; nor has any past experience taught the 

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peasants why they should. The idea that the peasants should 
assume any responsibility for the ^^xtra-village/ government 
themselves would be so alien to their thinking as to be comic. 
Educated Vietnamese are well aware of this_; as many of their 
actions show. ... 

"Such political parties as existed in Vietnam before the 
advent of independence were all clandestine,, so that any political 
experience acquired from these by the Vietnamese peasants will have 
been of secret plotting for the overthrow of the Government. Since 
independence^ they will probably have been subjected to attempted 
Communist indoctrination by the Viet Cong; but this too will have 
had an ant i- Government slant. Since 195^^ "the peasants have been 
fed on a diet of puerile^ and frequently offensive slogans by the 
Ministry of Information. These serve^ if indeed they serve any 
purpose at all^ to make the peasant distrust the Government of 
Ngo Dinh Diem. The peasant s_, for all their naivete^ are far from 
foolish and they are not deceived by slogans alleging to be true 
things which they know^ from their own personal experience^ to be 
untrue. Any political experience among the peasantry^ then^ is 
more likely to prove a liability than an asset to any Government." 115/ 

Diem knew that his main political dissent was centered not among his 
fellow mandarins^ in his press^ or among his military officers^ but in 
the peasantry. And the prime challenge was^ as Diem saw it^ communism^ 
precisely because it could and did afford the peasants political experi- 

Communism was^from the outset of Diem^s rule^ his bete noire. In 
1955^ after the victory over the sects^ and just before General John W. 
0' Daniel ended his tour as Chiefs MAAG Vietnam^ Diem talked to the General 
about Vietnam's future: 

"He spoke about the decentralization of government that 
he had been advised to undertake^ but felt that the time was 
not yet right. He felt that; since his country was involved 
in a war; warlike control was in order. Pie remarked that the 
Vietminh propaganda line never mentioned Communism; but only 
land reform. . . .Diem wants land reform too. ..." II6 / 

In his message to the American Friends of Vietnam in June; 195^; Diem 
acknowledged progress; but warned that: 


"We have arrived at a critical point.... We must now give 
meaning to our hard sought liberty. .. .To attain that goal we 
need technicians and machines. Our armed forces which are 
considerably reduced must however undertake an immense task 
from the military as well as the cultural and social point of 
view. It is indispensable that our army have the wherewithal 
to become increasingly capable of preserving the peace v^hich 
we seek. There are an infinite number of tasks in all fields 
to complete before the yearns end. Economic aid can be only 
effective once security has been restored...." 11? / 

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Diem's preoccupation with security paradoxically interfered with his 
aloility to compete with the coinmunists in the countryside. In effect^ 
he decided on a strategy of postponing the politicizing of the peasants 
until he had expunged his arch-foes, Diem's official biography under- 
scores this point: 

"The main concern of President Ngo Dinh Diem is therefore ^ 
to destroy the sources of demoralization,, however powerful^ 
before getting down to the problem of endowing Vietnam with 
a democratic apparatus in the Western sense of the word." 118 / 

Madame Nhu^ his sister-in-law^ was vehement that any political liberalization 
would have operated to Viet Cong advantage: "If we open the window,, not 
only sunlight^ but many bad things will fly in^ also." II9 / To hold a 
contrary view does not necessarily argue that democratization was the only 
way Diem could have met his political opposition in the villages; it does 
seem^ however^ that in failing to meet aspirations there by some departure 
from the inefficiently repressive course he adopted,, Diem erred- In con- 
cluding that he did not have to reckon with peasant attitudes^ Diem 
evidently operated from two related misapprehensions: that somehow the 
peasants would remain politically neutral while he eliminated the com- 
munists^ and that the Viet Cong were essentially a destructive force. 120 / It 
was not that Diem could not vocalize a sound estimate of the communist 
political threat; his own description of communist operations to an 
Australian journalist was quite accurate: 

"In China^ during the Indo-China war and now here^ the 
Communists have always sheltered in open base areas of diffi- " - 
cult access^ in areas where there are no roads. They have 
made their headquarters in the jungle. Cautiously j, sometimes 
only one man at a time^ they move into a village and establish 
a contact; then a cell imtil the village is theirs to command. 
Having got one village^ they move to a second village and from 
a second to third; until eventually they need not live in any 
of these villages^ but merely visit them periodically. When this 
stage is reached; they are in a position to build training camps 
and even start crude factories and produce home-made gunS; 
grenadeS; mineS; and booby traps. 

"This is all part of the first phase. The second phase is 
to expand control and link up with Communist groups in other bases. 
To begin with; they start acts of violence through their under- 
ground 'organizations . They kill village chief S; headmen; and 
others working for the government and; by so doing; terrorize 
the population; not necessarily by acts of violence against the 
people but by demonstrating that there is no security for them 
in accepting leadership from those acknowledging the leadership of 
the government. Even with much smaller numbers of troops than 
the constituted authority; it is not 'difficult now for the Com- 
munists to seize the initiative. A government has responsibility 
for maintaining supply to the civil population, of keeping roadS; 

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railways^ rivers^ and canals open for traffic^ of ensuring that 
rural crops reach the markets and that in turn commodity goods 
are distributed throughout the country. The Commujaists have 
no such responsibility. They have no roads and bridges to guards 
and no goods to distribute." 12l / 

Diem failed to perceive that the "first phase" was crucial^ or that the 
VC were^ from the very outset^ constructing while they destroyed^ building 
a state within South Vietnam with more effective local government than 
his own. 

Like many another issue in Vietnam, the problem was in part 
semantics. "Communists" during this period fomally recanted for the GVN 
by the thousands; thousands more "communists" were incarcerated by 
the GVN for "political reeducation." But Ordinance kj of 195^ notwith- 
standing^ "communist" is a term which has not been used since the 19^40*3 
by Vietnamese serving the Marxist-Lenist Party headed by Ho Chi Minh of 
the DRV. These referred to themselves as members of the Vietnam Workers 
Party (Dang lao Dong), as members of one Front or another, or as resistance 
fighters, or fighters for national liberation. Nor was "Viet Minh" a useful 
name, since Viet Minh, a nationalist front, included numerous non- communist, 
or at least non-party members. In 1956, the Saigon press began to dis- 
tinguish between the Viet Minh and communists by referring to the latter 
as "Viet Cong," a fairly precise, and not necessarily disparaging, rendition 
of %'iet Nam Cong-San," which means "Vietnamese Comm.unist." 122/ The National 
Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF) much later condemned the term as 
"contemptuous, " and pointed out that the GVN had applied it indiscriminately 
to all persons or groups "who are lukewarm toward the pro-U.S. policy even 
on details." 123/ There can be no doubt that Diem and his government 
applied the term somewhat loosely within South Vietnam, and meant by it 
North as well as South Vietnamese commionists, whom they presumed acted in 
concert. 12^/ 

2. The Viet Minh Resid.ue 

At the close of the Franco- Viet Minh War, some 60,000 men were 
serving in organized Viet Minh units in South Viet Nam. For the regroup- 
ments to North Vietnam, these units were augmented with large numbers of 
untrained young men -- who were later known among the regroupees in North 
Vietnam as "soldiers of Geneva." A reported 90,000 soldiers were taken to 
North Vietnam in the evacuated units, while the U.S. and the GVN estimated 
that 5,000 to 10,000 trained men were left behind as "cadre." If French 
estimates are correct that in 195^ the Viet Minh controlled over 60 to 90 
percent of South Vietnam's villages outside the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao regions, 
those 5000 to 10,000 cadre must have represented only a sma]JL fraction of 
the remaining Viet Minh apparatus-- cadre, local workers, sympathizers--in the 
countryside. GVN figures themselves attest to this. In 1955 and I956 alone, 
the GVN claimed 100,000 communist "cadre" rallied or surrendered, and up 
to 20,000 "communists and communist sympathizers" were detained for reeduca- 
tion. However, from all. accounts-- including test mony of the communist 
prey--the combination of the evacuation and the GVN Anti-Communist Denunci- 
ation Campaign was devastating. The Viet Minh wartime apparatus was depleted 
and fragmented, as the GVN claimed. 

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IJeither Diem's GVN nor the U.S. knew a great deal about 
the Viet Minh in the period 195^-1960. By 19^7; however,, new informa- 
tion had begun to accumulate from interrogations of prisoners and 
defectors^ and captured documents. For example^ in March^ ^9^7? a 
study was published of 23 Viet Minh who stayed behind during the regroup- ■ 
ment of 195^-1955 . 126 / All the men of the sample told consistent 
stories^ and although an admittedly narrow basis for generalization^ the 
stories ring true. Upon departure^ the Viet Minh leaders assigned some 
of these stay-behinds active roles; others were simply told to return to 
their homes as inactives^ and wait for further instructions. It is quite 
clear that even the activists were not instructed to organize units for 
guerrilla war^ but rather to agitate politically for the promised Geneva 
elections^ and the normalization of relations with the North. They drew 
much reassurance from the presence of the ICC; and up ixntil mid-1956; most 
held on to the belief that the elections would take place. They were dis- 
appointed in two respects: not only were the promised elections not held^ 
but the amnesty which had been assured by the Geneva Settlem.ent was denied 
them; and they were hounded by the Anti-Communist campaign. After 195^; for 
the most part^ they went "underground." They were uniformly outraged at 
Diem's practices; particularly the recurrent GVN attem.pts to grade the 
populace into lettered categories according to previous associations with 
the Viet Minh. Most of them spoke of terror; brutality and torture by GVN 
rural officials in carrying out the Communist DenuJiciation campaigns^ and 
of the arrest and slaying of thousands of old comrades from the "resistance." 
Their venom was expended on these local officials; rather than on Diem; or 
the central government; although they were prepared to hold Diem ultimately 
responsible. A veteran who had been a Party member since I936 characterized 
the years 3.955-I959 as the most difficult years of the entire revolution. 

What these cadre did in those years is revealing. Only four 
of the 23 were engaged in military tasks. Most spent their time in prepara- 
tion for a future uprising; in careful recruitment in the villages -- con- 
centrating on the very families with Viet Minh ties who were receiving 
priority in the GVN's attentions — and in constructing base areas in the 
mountains or jungles. The Viet Minh activists sought out the inactiveS; 
brought them back into the organization; and together they formed the 
framework of an expanding and increasingly intricate network of intelligence 
and propaganda. Few spoke of carrying weapons; or using violence before 
1959^ although many boasted of feats of arms in later years. They felt 
that they lacked the right conditions to strike militarily before 1959i 
their mission was preparation. In several instances; the Viet Cong used 
terror to recruit former Viet Minh for the new movement; threatening them 
with "treason" and elimination; caught betv^een the GVN and the VC; many 
old Resistance members joined the "New Resistance." But most spoke of making 
person-to-person persuasion to bring in new members for the movem,ent; 
relying mainly on two appeals: nationalism and social justice. They 
stressed that the Americans had merely substituted a neW; more pernicious 
form of tyranny for that of the French^ and that the My-Diem combine was 
the antithesis of hujnane and honest government. One respondent summed up 
this activity in these terms: 

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"From 1957 to I96O the cadres who had remained in the 
South had aJjnost all been arrested. Only one or two cadres 
were left in every three to five villages. What was amazing 
was how these one or two cadres started the movement so well. 

"The explanation is not that these cadres were exceptionally 
gifted but the people they talked to were ready for rebellion. 
The people were like a mound of straw_, ready to be ignited.... 

"If at that time the government in the South had been a 
good one; if it had not been dictatorial, if the agrarian reforms 
had worked; if it had established control at the village level; 
then launching the movement would have been difficult. 

These interviews underscored three points on which the GVN 
was apparently in error. First; with respect to the stay-behinds themselves, 
by no means were all dedicated communists in the doctrinaire sense. Many 
reported that they resented and feared the communists in the Viet Minh, and 
apparently might have been willing to serve the GVN faithfully had it not 
hounded them out of the society. There were several among the group; for 
example; who had entered Saigori; and there found a degree of freedom which 
kept them off the Viet Cong roles for years. Second; with regard to the 
peasants in general; the Viet Minh were widely admired throughout the 
South as national heroeS; and the GVN therefore committed a tactical error 
of the first magnitude in damning all Viet Minh without qualification as 
communists. Third; the GVN created by its rural policy a climate of moral 
indignation which energized the peasants politically; turned them against 
the government; sustained the Viet Cong; and permitted "communists" to 
outlast severe GVN repressions and even to recruit during it. 

The foregoing precis of the I96T study presents views which _ 
are paralleled in a captured Viet Cong history; written aroiond 19^3; which 
describes the years after 195^ as follows: 



"During the past nine years, londer the enlightened leadership 
of the Party Central Committee; the people and the Party of South 
Vietnam have experienced many phases along the difficult and com- 
plicated path of struggle but they have also gained many victories 
and experiences while pushing the South Vietnam liberation revolution 
and creating the conditions for peaceful reunification of the 
country. ... 

"After the armistice; the South Vietnam people reverted to polit- 
■ ical struggle through peaceful means by demanding personal rightS; 
freedom and negotiations concerning general elections in accordance 
with the stipulations of the Geneva -Agreement so that the country 
could be peacefully reunified. The Party apparatus in South Vietnam 
also became covert. The organization and methods of operation of the 

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party were changed in order to guarantee the leadership and 
forces of the Party under the new struggle conditions - 

"From the end of 1954 until I956 several important changes 
occurred in the South Vietnam situation. Imperialist America 
ousted and replaced imperialist France^ turning South Vietnam 
into a colony (a new type of colony) based on U.S. military 
power. The Ngo Dinh Diem government was clearly shown to be a 
government composed of bureaucratic, dictatorial and family- 
controlled feudalists and capitalists who committed crimes for 
the American imperialists and massacred the people, massacred 
revolutionaries and massacred the oppositionists. Both the 
Americans and Diem made every effort to oppose the implementation 
of the Geneva Agreement and m.ade every effort to subvert the 
peaceful reunification of our fatherland 

^"Immediately after the re- establishment of peace, the responsi- 
bility of South Vietnam was to use the political struggle to 
demand the implementation of the Geneva Agreement. The struggle 
responsibilities and procedures were appropriate for the situation 
at that time and corresponded with the desires of the great majority 
of the masses who wished for peace after nearly 10 years of diffi- 
cult resistance. 

At that time, although the Americans-Diemists used cruel force 
to oppose the people and the revolution, and the masses struggled 
decisively against this repression in many places and at many times, 
the contradictions had not yet developed to a high degree and the 
hatred had not yet developed to a point where the use of armed 
struggle could become an essential and popular struggle tactic. 
In South Vietnam since 1955, thanks to the armed movement of the 
sects, we were able to avoid the construction of an armed propa- 
ganda force, since we only had a few former bases which were needed 
in the political struggle and for the creation of a reserve force. 

From 1957 to I958, the situation gradually changed. The enemy 
persistently sabotaged the implementation of the Geneva Agreement, 
actively consolidated and strengthened the arm^r^ security service, 
and administrative apparatus from the central to the hamlet level, 
crudely assassinated the people, and truly and efficiently destroyed 
our Party. By relying on force, the Americsji-Diemist regime was 
temporarily able to stabilize the situation and increase the prestige 
of the counterrevolutionaries. At this time, the political struggle 
movement of the masses, although not defeated, was encountering 
increasing difficulty and increasing weakness; the Party bases, 
although not completely destroyed, were significantly weakened, and 
In some areas, quite seriously; the prestige of the masses and of 
the revolution suffered. But ±n reality, the years during which 
the enemy increased his terrorism were also the years in which the 
enemy suffered major political losses and the social contradictions 
which existed became increasingly evident; the resentment of the 



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masses became more deep seeded and many individuals who formerly 
supported the enemy now opposed them. The masses^ that is to say^ 
the peasants^ now realized that it was impossible to live "under such 
conditions and that it was necessary to rise up in drastic struggle. 
Faced with the fact that the enemy was using guns^ assassinations 
and imprisonment to oppose the people in their political struggle^ 
many voices among the masses appealed to the Party to establish a 
program of armed resistance against the enemy. Within the Party^ on 
the one hand^ the members were saturated with the responsibility to 
lead the revolution to a successful overthrow of the enemy^ but on 
the other hand^ the majority of the party members and cadres felt 
that it was necessary to immediately launch an armed struggle in order 
to preserve the movement and protect the forces. In several areas 
the party members on their own initiative had organized armed strug- 
gle against the enemy. 

"Since the end of 1958, particularly after the Phu Loi Massacre, 
the situation truly ripened for an armed movement against the enemy. 
.But the leadership of the Nam Bo Regional Committee ' at that time 
still hesitated for many reasons^ but the principal reason was the 
fear of violating the party line.... 

"Up to 1959, in South Vietnam, the Americans-Diemists had fully 
constructed a large army, equipped with modern weapons, along with a 
large and well armed administrative, police and security apparatus. 
During the years in which the masses were only using political struggle, 
the Americans-Diemists used the military, security and administrative 
apparatus to launch various, campaigns to terrorize, mop up and oppress 
the movement, no different from during the period of warfare. Because 
they v/ere determined to crush the revolution and control the people 
at every moment, they could not avoid using every type of repression. 

"In opposing such an enemy, simple political struggle was not possi- 
ble. It was necessary to use additional armed struggle, but not merely 
low level armed struggle, such as only armed propaganda, which was used 
to support the political struggle. The enemy would not allow us any 
' peace, and in the face of the enemy operations and destructive pursuit, 
the armed propaganda teams, even if they wished to avoid losses, would 
never be able to engage the enemy in warfare and would never be able to 
become an actual revolutionary army. This is an essential fact of the 
movement and the actual movement in South Vietnam illustrates this fact. 
Therefore, at the end of 1959, when we launched an additional armed 
struggle in coordination with the political struggle against the enemy, 
,, . it inimediately took the form in South Vietnam of revolutionary warfare, 

a long range revolutionary warfare- Therefore, according to some 
opinions at the beginning of 1959, ^e only used heavy armed propaganda 
and later developed "regional guerrillas...." 

■^ The alleged food-poisoning of "six thousand former resistance fighters and 
fighters for peace and national reunification" at the political re- 
education center at Phu Loi, 33 Ian., north of Saigon, December 1, 195^; Cf ., 
New Facts Phu Loi Mass Murder in South Vietnam (1959: Hanoi, Foreign 
Languages Publishing House). 

■x-^ The re/^ional headquarters for Cochinchina. 

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That this version of events from 195^ through 1959 is the orthodox 
Viet Cong account is further indicated by the report of interrogation of 
one of the four members of the Civilian Proselyting Section of the Viet 
Cong Saigon/Gia Dinh Special Zone Committee^ captured in November^ 1964; 
the prisoner stated that: 

"The period from the Armistice of 195^ until I958 was the 
darkest tiine for the VC in South Vietnam. The political agitation 
policy proposed by the Communist Party could not be carried out 
due to the arrest of a number of party members by RVN authorities. 
The people's agitation movement was minimized. However^ the 
organizational system of the party from the highest to the lowest 
echelons survived,, and since the party remained close to the 
people^ its activities were not completely suppressed. In 1959 
the party combined its political agitation with its military 
operations^ and by the end of I959 the combined operations were 
progressing smoothly." 128 / 

Viet Cong "political agitation" was a cunning blend of the Viet 
Minh nationalist charisma, exploitation of GVN shortcomings, xenophobia, 
and terror. Drawing on the years of Viet Minh experience in subversive 
government and profiting frcm Viet Minh errors, the Viet Cong appealed to^. 
the peasants not as Marxist revolutionaries proposing a drastic social 
upheaval, but quite to the contrary, as a conservative, nationalist force 
wholly compatible with the village-centered traditionalism of most farmers, 
and as their recourse against "My-Diem" modernization. One American 
authority summed the Viet Minh experience evident in Viet Cong operations 
as ten political precepts: 

"1. Don't try for too much; don't smash the existing social 
system, use it; don't destroy opposition organizations, take them 

"2. Use the amorphous united front to attack opposition political 
forces too large or too powerful for you to take over; then fragment 
their leadership, using terror if necessary, and drown their followers 
in the front organization. 

"3. At all times appear outwardly reasonable about the matter 
of sharing power with rival organizations although secretly working 
by every means to eliminate them. Don't posture in public. 

"h. Divide your organization rigidly into overt and covert 
sections and minimize traffic between the two. The overt group's 
chief task is to generate broad jjublic support; the covert group 
seeks to accumulate and manipulate political power. 

"5, Use communism as dogma, stressing those aspects that are 
well regarded by the people; don't hesitate to interpret Marxism- 
Leninism in any way that proves beneficial. Soft-pedal the class- 
struggle idea except among cadres. 


"6. Don't antagonize anyone if it can be helped; this forestalls 
the formation of rival blocs. 

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"7. Bearing in mind that in Vietnam altruism is conspicuous 
by its absence^ blend the proper mixture of the materialistic 
appeals of communism and the endemic feelings of nationalism. 
Win small but vital gains through commm^ism, large ones through 
nationalism. Plan to win in the end not as Communists but as 

"8. Use the countryside as the base and carry the struggle 
to the cities later; in rural areas political opportunities are 
greater and risks smaller. Avoid the lure of the teahouse. 

"9. But forge a city alliance. Mobilization of the f aimer 
must create a strong farmer-worker bond. 

"10. Work from the small to the large, from the specific to 
the general; work from small safe areas to large liberated areas 
and then expand the liberated areas; begin with small struggle 
movements and work toward a General Uprising during which state 
power will be seized. " I29 / 

The same expert termed General Uprising "a social m;^rbh in the Sorelian sense^ 
perhaps traceable back to the Coiimiunist myi:h of the general strike^" and 
cited Viet Cong documents which describe how the 25OO villages of Vietnam 
will be led toward a spontaneous final and determinant act of revolution: 

"The Revolution,, directed toward the goal of the General 
Uprising, has these five characteristics: ...It takes place in 
a very favorable worldwide setting. ... It is against the neo- 
colonialism of the U.S. A The government of Vietnam is unpop- 
ular and growing weaker. .0 .The people have revolutionary conscious- 
ness and are willing to struggle. ... It is led by the Party, which 
has great experience." I30 / 

Ho and Giap thus coated Marx and Mao with French revolutionary romantic ism - 
Diem, the moral reformer, also drew heavily upon the same traditions for 
"personalism. " One of the tragedies of modern Vietnam is that the political 
awakening of its peasants was to these, the most virulent, and vicious 
social theories of the era. 

But doctrine was not the sole heritage the Viet Cong received 
from the Viet Minh. Perhaps more important was the "Resistance" organiza- 
tion: the hierarchy extending upward from hamlet and village through 
I ■ provincial to.iegional authorities capable of coordinating action on a 

broad scale. The Viet Minh complied with military regroupments under the 
Geneva Accords but were not obligated to withdraw the "political" apparatus; 
in fact, the Settlement provided guarantees for it in its provisions against 
reprisals (Armistice, Article l4c, and Conference Final Declaration, 
Article 9)^ snd for liberation of political prisoners (Armistice, Article 2l). 
Knowledge of the techniques of clandestine politics, ajjpreciation for the 
essentiality of tight discipline, and trained personnel constituting a 
widespread, basic organizational framework were all advantages the Viet 
Ming conferred on the Viet Cong, Needless to say, Ngo Dinh Diem received no 
comparable legacy from his nationalist predecessors or the French - 
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3, Rural Violence and GVN Counters, 19^7-1960 . 

By early 1958^ Saigon was beginning to sense that pacifica- 
tion had eluded the GVN even as it had the French. In December^ 1957^ 
the ill-fated newspaper, Thoi Luan , pointed out that terrorism was on 
the rise^ and that: 

"Today the menace is heavier than ever, with the terrorists . 
no longer limiting themselves to the notables in charge of 
security. Everything suits them;, village chiefs, chairmen of 
liaison committees, simple guards, even former notables.... 
In certain areas, the village chiefs spend their nights ^^in the _ 
security posts, while the inhabitants organize watches." 131 / 

" The most urgent need for the population today is 

security--a question to which we have repeatedly drawn the 
attention of the authorities. 

"Spectacular assassinations have taken place in the 
provinces of An Giang and Phong-Dinh /in the Mekong Delta/. 
In the village of Than-My-Tay, armed men appeared in the dead 
of night, awakened the inhabitants, read a death sentence, and 
beheaded four young men whose heads they nailed to the nearest 
bridge. ... 

"The security question in the provinces must be given top 
priority: the regime will be able to consolidate itself only 
if it succeeds in finding a solution to this problem." 13^ / 

Besides the incidents cited, there had been a mass murder 
of IT in Chau-Doc in July, 1957; in September the District Chief at My Tho 
with his whole family was gunned down in daylight on a main highway; on 
10 October a bomb thrown into a Cholon cafe injured 13 persons, and on 
22 October, in three bombings in Saigon, 13 i\mericans were wounded. 133 / 

Also in October a clandestine radio in Vietnam purporting to 
speak for the "National Salvation Movement" was backing armed insurgents 
against Diera. I3U/ In Washington, U.S. intelligence indicated that the 
"Viet Minh underground" had been directed to conduct additional attacks 
on U.S. personnel "whenever conditions are favorable." 135/ U.S. 
intelligence also noted a total of 30 armed "terrorist incidents initiated 
by Communist guerrillas" in the last quarter of 1957^ as well as a "large 
niimber" of incidents carried out by "Communist-lead /sic/ Hoa Hao and 
Cao Dai dissident elements," and reported "at least" 75 civilians or 
civil officials assassinated or kidnapped in the same period. 13§/ 

Robert Shaplen wrote that: 

"5y 1958, the Vietminh had fully resumed its 
campaign of terror in the countryside, ^kidnapping government 
officials and threatening villagers who in any way co-operated 
with the government Military incidents in the coimtryside 

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were rising^ and in an average month the local and regional units 
were becoming involved in a score of engagements. Usually _, these 
were hit-and-run Communist attacks on Self-Defense Corps or Civil 
Guard headquarters^ the purpose of which was both to seize weapons 
and to heighten the atmosphere of terror." 137 / 

Guns should have been plentiful in the countryside of Vietnam. The 
Japanese^ the French and even the GTO armed the sect forces. And both - 
the sects and the Viet Minh had operated small arms factories -- for 
instance^ General Lansdale visited a Cao Dai weapons factory at Wui Ba Den 
in Tay Ninh in 1955- The Viet Minh cached arms as they withdrew from their 
"liberated areas" in I95I+ and 1955- ARVN veterans and deserters from the 
force reductions of I95J+ and I955 carried weapons into the hinterland. The 
VC attacked for weapons to make up for losses to the GVTJ^ and to equip ujiits 
with similar types to simplify logistics. 

In January^ 1958;, a "large band" of "communist" guerrillas attacked 
a plantation north of Saigon;, and in February^ an ARVN truck was ambushed 
on the outskirts of the capital. I38 / In March^ the Saigon newspaper 
Dan - Cung complained that: "our people are fleeing the villages and returning 

to the cities for fear of communist guerrillas and feudalistic officials " 

139 / Bernard Fall published an article in July;, 1958, in which he mapped 
the pattern of assassinations and other incidents from April 1957 to April 
1958, and announced the onset of a new war: 

mrtx. m.iniin- .Ttt'i-^-CTry : 

r.i^jk.^ T -K i 'tgitfiagiErssrrcaraa^ga .Xi T j r jz r AJtTJii.;— it F>: : jsc !7a.Eixr jr:E^iSSii?c:3: 


April, 1957-April, 1958 



• 9 

- f*g)Trang 

Chau-Doc t=^-i*V.3» 





•# 73 My-Tho 

• Assassinalions 

o Raids or Ambushes 

A Cells or Units 

g.-v y-J T raa 




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Fall's thesis was challenged by a senior U.S. adviser to the GYEy who 
argued that the increasing casualty figirres represented not a structured 
attempt to overthrow the GVN^ but were simply a product of police 
reporting in the hinterlands, iko/ There can be no doubt that the latter 
view was partially correct: neither the U.S. nor the GVN knew what was 
"normal" in the rural areas, and police reporting, with U.S. aid, had been 
improved. But the deadly figures continued to mount. George A. Carver 
of the CIA, in his I966 Foreign Affairs article, agreed with Fall: 

"a pattern of politically motivated terror began to emerge, 
directed against the representatives of the Saigon government and 
concentrated on the very bad and the very good. The former v;ere 
liquidated to win favor with the peasantry; the latter because 
their effectiveness was a bar to the achievement of Communist 
objectives. The terror was directed not only against officials 
but against all whose operations were essential to the functioning 
of organized political society, school teachers, health workers, 
agricultural officials, etc- The scale and scope of this terrorist 
and Insurrectionary activity mounted slowly and steadily. By the 
end of 1938 the participants in this incipient insurgency, whom Saigon 
quite accurately termed the "Viet Cong, " constituted a serious threat 
. to South Viet Nam's political stability." l^l / 

Like most other statistics concerning Vietnam, figures on the extent 
of the terrorism varied widely. The GVN reported to the ICC that in 1957^ 
1958, and ^ae first half of 1959, Viet Cong murdered 65 village officials, 
51 civilians, 28 Civil Guardsmen, and 10 soldiers. 1^2/ . GVN official 
reports provided the U.S. Embassy in Saigon recorded a significantly greater 
toll of civilians: 

By Quarter, From GVN Reports to U.S. Embassy 1^3/ 

1958 1959 i960 

123 4 Total 12 3 h Total First 5 Months 
Murders 72 5I 2E k'^ 52 3^: hZ 97 

Total 193 233 780 

Abductions 73 32 66 65 41^ 53 67 179 

Total 236 3^3 282 

Journalists and scholars, studying open sources, put the figures even 
higher. Douglas Pike reported 1700 assassinations and 2000 abductions in 
the years 1957"1960. ikk/ Bernard Fall estimated murders of low- level 
GVN officials as follows: 

May 1937 May 19^8 May 19g9 Ma y I96O May I96I 

700 1200 2500 4000 

Fall reported that the GVN lost a:hno5t 20fa of its village chiefs in I957 

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and 1958^ snd that by the end of 1959^, they were becoming casualties 
at the rate of more than 2^ per month. Through 1963^ Fall calculated_, 
13^000 petty officials were eliminated by the VC 1^/ The New York 
Times estimated that 3^000 local government officials were killed or 
captured during I96O l46 /^ and TIME magazine reported in the fall of 
i960 that the GVN was losing 25O to 3OO per month to a "new Communist 
offensive-" The U.S. "White Paper"of I961 cited losses of l400 local 
officials and civilians during I96O. 1^8 / But if there was disparity 
among numierical estimates_j most reports_, public or private,, concluded 
that the violence was real; anti-government_, rising in intensity_j and 
increasingly organized. 

In mid-1958 Bernard Fall correlated the locus of rural violence 
reported in South Vietnam with complaints lodged with the ICC in Hanoi 
by the DRV on behalf of "Former Resistance members,," alleging GVN 
violations of the "no reprisals" provisions of the Geneva Accords (Armistice; 
Article l4c). The detail in these complaints indicated an intelligence 
apparatus in South Vietnam . 


July 1054-July 1957 

under Art. 14c of 
the Geneva Ceasc-Fire 


Demilitarized Zone 



April 1957-Apra 1958 





o Alleged Violations 

*£^^Q-:>^^==^Cape St. Jacques 


.^,^v '<. ^. • 


t^" SAIGO 




Raids or Ambush '^3 
Cells or Units 


"The conclusion is inescapable^ he vrrote^ that there must be some 
coordination between the rebels and the North Vietnamese Government." ih^/ 
About that same time^ U.S. intelligence reported that Viet Cong-bandit 
operations north of Saigon seemed to be part of a calculated campaign of 
economic sabotage. , I50/ Also^ reports began to come in of a new "Pront" 
operating 3.n the countryside. Anthropologist Gerald ffickey wrote of 


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the village near IVIy Tho which he studied very intensively that around 

"...For the first time /the village/ experienced the 
activities of a relatively new political movement- - Mat Tran Dan 
Toe Giai Phong Mien Nam Viet Nam (National Front for the Liberation 
of Vietnam) referred to by the South Vietnamese government as the 
Viet Cong or Vietnamese Communists. . .and invariably called the 
Viet Minh by the villagers. In the vicinity of /the village/ the 
initial efforts of the Viet Cong were largely confined to anti- 
government propaganda." 15l/ 

One VC pamphlet of late I958 from the Mekong Delta reads as follows: 

"Support the Just struggle of the people to overthrow 
the government of the Americans and Diem /My-Diem/_j to establish 
a democratic regijne in the South; and to work for general elec- 
tions which will -unify the country by peaceful means ." 1^2 / 

But^ if "struggle" sounds innocuous enough in English^ the 
word fails to carry the intensity of the Vietnamese equivalent,, dau tranh . 
A VC rallier put it this way: 

"Dau tranh is all Important to a revolutionist. It marks 
his thinking^ his attitudes^ his behavior. His life^ his revo- 
lutionary work; his whole world is dau tranh . The essence of his 
existence is dau tranh." 1^3 / ■ .... 

And; the term "just struggle of the people" sheathed the terror integral 
to Viet Cong operations. In Pike's estimate: 

"Insurgency efforts in the 1958-I96O period involved 
violence such as assassinations but few actual armed attacks. 
This was so partly because the cadres had little military 
capability but chiefly because doctrine counseled against 
violence .... 

"For the true believers operating throughout the South 
this was a time of surreptitious meetings^ cautious political 
feelerS; the tentative assembling of a leadership group; and 
the sounding out of potential cadres whose names v;"ent into a 
file for future reference. It meant working mainly with non- 
Communists and; in many caseS; keeping one's Communist identity 
a secret . . . . " 15^/ 

Diem's own party newspaper; the NM's Cach Mang Quoc Gia ; published an 
article in February^ 1959 which reported that "the situation in the 
rural areas is rotten;" and described communist cells established in 
the villages collecting taxes and conducting^ "espionage; " supporting 
local guerrilla forces responsive to a hierarchy of provincial and 
regional committees. 155/ 

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From mid-1959 onward^ there was a definite upsiirge in 
Viet Cong activity^ marked not only by the increase in terrorism 
noted in the statistics presented above^ but also by the fielding of 
large military units vhich sought^ rather than avoided^ engagement 
vith units of Diem's regular army. On 26 September 1959 two companies 
of the ARVN 23d Division were ambushed by a well- organized force of 
several hundred identified as the "2d Liberation Battalion"; the ARVN 
units lost 12 killed^ ik wounded; and most of their weapons. I56/ 

On 25 January I96O the same Viet Cong battalion launched 
an attack coordinated with four gu.errilla companies — a total force 
of 300 to 500 men -- which penetrated the compound of the 32d Regiment; 
21st ARVN Division at Tay Ninh; killed -23 ARVN soldiers^ and netted a 
large haul of an'as and amraunition. 15T / On 29 January I96O an insurgent 
band seized the to-^^m of Dong Xoai; some sixty miles north of Saigon^ held 
the place for several hourS; and robbed a French citizen of 200^000 
piasters. I58 / In the same month; large VC forces opened operations in 
the Camau peninsula and the Mekong Delta. In Kien Eoa province VC units 
numbering hundreds effectively isolated the province capital from six of 
its eight districts. I59/ Bernard Fall; in his continuing study of Viet 
Cong operations; detected a new strategy operating: a shift during 1959 Q^d 
early I96O from base development in the Delta to isolation of Saigon. I60/ 



April U5T-ApriI IJW 


O /; -f 

* fU.ii^ or A/nl>u»>.« 

* C*l!s or Unit. 

April 1959 - Hty IS'^O 

-' o 




\ ?^^ 

0^ :' 



f» Incident InTolTing 

O Incident Intolving 

ttainlj sabotEige 

[Shaded are^Lfl indicate .dalibenxte 1951-59 shift 
froD aecuriDg & lolid rab«l boiSe in Iho He'-iMg 
dalta to cutting off Saigon frosi hinterland, J 



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Whether or not the incidents plotted by Fall constituted a strategy as 
he thought^ they vere patently more coherent. A U.S. intelligence 
assessment submitted 7 March I96O described VC plans^ confirmed from 
a variety of U.S. and GVN sources^ to launch large scale guerrilla 
warfare that year "under the flag of the People's Liberation Movement/' 
which v/as identified as "red^ with a blue star." I61 / The VG were 
reportedly moving into position to exercise one or more of three strat- 
egic options by the end of I96O: (l) incite an AR7N revolt; (2) set 
up a popular front governjnent in the lower Delta; (3) force the GVN 
into such repressive countermeasures that popular uprisings will follow. 

An ARVT\[ coup d'etat did ensue^ although it was neither 
VC incited nor successful; nor was there any general revolt in the 
ranks. No popular front government was set up. But the GVN was prompted 
to a succession of re]Dressive countermeasures which may have aided the 
Viet Cong much as they had expected. Prodded by the rural violence^ 
Diem began his "cotmterinsurgency" in early 1959 with the reintensifica- 
tion of population classification and relocation program_s. On 6 May 1959^ 
the GVN promulgated Law 10/59^ which set up three military tribunals 
which could^ without appeal^ adjudge death for crimes under Ordinance ^7 
of 1956 — the ant i- communist law. In actuality^ these tribunals were 
used sparingly^ usually for show-case trials of terrorists. I63 / But 
the existence of l£iw IO/59 furnished grist forVC propaganda m-ills for 
years . 

On 7 Julyj 1959^ the GVIT laLmched its "prosperity and 
density centers" -- the "agroville" program and Ngo Dinh PJhu and his 
wife plunged into organizing rural youth^ women _, and farmers* organiza- 
tions. However^ just as the VC Tet offensive of 1968 attenuated 
"Revolutionary Development;, " the VC upsurge of late 1959 ^'^^ early I96O 
disrupted the new GVN organizational efforts^ and reinforced Diem's 
conviction that security was the paramoujit consideration. The U.S. 
assessment of March I96O cited widesjjread abuse of police powers by 
local officials for extortion and vendetta^ and pointed out that arbi- 
trary and corrupt local officials compromised GVN efforts to root out 
the VC "undercover cadres." Moreover: 

"....While the GYH has made an effort to meet the 
economic and social needs of the rural populations through 
couFnunity development;, the construction of schools^ hospi- 
tals^ roads ^ etc.^ these projects apx:jear to have enjoyed 
only a measure of success in creating support for the 
government and_, in fact^ in many instances have resulted in 
resentment. Basically, the problem appears to be that such 


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projects have been imposed on the people without adequate 
psychological preparation in terms of the benefits to be 
gained. Since most of these projects call for sacrifice 
on the part of the population (in the form of allegedly 
"volunteer" labor in the case of construction^ time away 
from jobs or school labor in the case of rural youth 
groups^ leaving homes and lands in the case of regrouping 
isolated peasants )j they are bound to be opposed unless 
they represent a partnership effort for mutual benefit on 
the part of the population and the government.... 

"The situation may be summed up in the fact that the 
government has tended to treat the population with sus- 
picion or to coerce it and has been rewarded with an 
attitude of apathy or resentment." l6^ / 

^. The Founding of the National Liberation Front 

Despite their expanding military effort^ the Viet Cong 
remained a forinless^ "faceless" foe until late in 1960^ when the 
National Liberation Front was announced as the superstructure of 
the insurgent apparatus _, and the political voice of the rebellion. 
Thereafter^ the Viet Cong sought publicity,, and thereby acquired 
identity as a South Vietnam- wide organization of three major com- 
ponents: the NLF itself J the Liberation Army of South Vietnam^ and 
the People's Revolutionary Party. 

a. Organization and Objectives 

The precise dates of the forming of the NLF con- 
stitutes one of the puzzles of the war. As mentioned above^ in the 
years 195U to I96O; peasants^ captured documents and prisoners 
referred frequently to "the Fronts " meaning the insurgent movement^ 
and "Front" flags had been captured as early as 1959 » These were 
probably references to Viet Minh carry-over organizations^ such as 
they were^ rather than a specific leadershii) group or structure^ 
with a set of defined objectives. Ngxiyen Huu Tho^ the first Chair- 
man of the ]^]LF; stated in a 196^ interview over Radio Hanoi that: 

"Although fo:tTnally established in December 1960^ 
the Front had existed as a means of action without 
by-laws 01* prograra since 195^^ when we fo-unded the 
Saigon-Cholon Peace Committee. .. .Many of the members of 
the /nLf7 Central Committee were also members of the 
Peace Corrimittee. ..." I65/ 

Huynh Tan Phat^ Tho's Vice Chainnan in the NLF^ was reported in late 
1955 serving on the "Executive Committee of the Fatherland Front" 
( Mat Tran To Quoc )^ controlling joint Viet Minh-Hoa Hao operations 
against the GVN in the Plain of Reeds. (CIA Memo I603/66; 1-27). 

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The MMG "Narrative Statement" for January I958 reported that "the 

Communists have been joining 'front ^ -organizations to influence portions 

of anti-government minorities. ■ . ./Examples are/ the 'Vietnamese Peoples' 

Liberation Movement Forces' /ind/7.._, the 'Vietnam-Cambodian Buddhist 
Association' . — — 

A number of authorities^ m.ainly French^ have lent 
credence to an assertion that the NLF was fonned by a group of Viet 
Minh veterans in March^ 1960^ somewhere in Cochinchina; but the IMLF^ 
as such^ received no international publicity until after December 20^ 
i960. 166 / On January 29^ 1961^ Hanoi Radio broadcast in English 
to Europe and Asia its first announcement concerning the l^ILF: 

"A 'National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam' 
was recently foiined in South Vietnam by various forces 
opposing the fascist Ngo Dinh Diem regime. This was revealed 
by Reuters in Saigon and by different papers published in... 
Phnom Penh^ capital of Cambodia. This Front was created 
after a period of preparation and after a conference of repre- 
sentatives of various forces opposing the fascist regime in 
South Vietnam. According to these forces^ the 'National 
Front for the Liberation of South Vietnara' on December 20^ 
I96O; issued a political program and a manifesto. . ./the 
manifesto/ reads: 'For a period of nearly a hundred years^ 
the Vietnamese people repeatedly rose up to fight against 
foreign aggression for national independence and freedom.... 
When the French colonialists invaded our country for the 
second time; our compatriots — determined not to return to 
the former slavery — made tremendous sacrifices to defend 
national sovereignty and independence. The solidarity and 
heroic struggle of our compatriots during. nine years led the 
resistance war to victory. The 195^ Geneva Agreements re- 
installed peace in our coujitry and recognized the sovereignty^ 
inde^jendence; unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam. 
Under these circujustances^ our compatriots in South Vietnam 
would have been able to live in peace^ earn their livelihood 
in security and build a life of plenty and happiness. How- 
ever; American imperialists who had in the past helped the 
French colonialists massacre our people have now rej^laced 
the French in subjugating the southern part of our co^xntry 
through a disguised colonial regime. .. .The National Front 
for the Liberation of South Vietnam calls on the entire people 
to unite and heroically rise up and struggle with the following 
program of action; 


'Jan. 31. 1961 

"I--T0 overthrow the disguised colonial regime of the Imperi- 
alists and the dictatorial administration^ and to form a national 
and democratic coalition administration. 


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2- -To carry out a broad and progressive democracy^ promiil- 
gate the freedom of expression,, of the press^ of belief^ 
reunion _, association and of moyement and other democratic 
freedoms; to carry out general amnesty of political detainees^ 
dissolve the concentration camps dubbed 'prosperity zones' and 
'resettlement centers^ ' abolish the fascist law 10-59 ^^^ other 
antidemocratic lavs. 

'3 — Abolish the economic monopoly of the United States and 
its henchmen^ protect homemade products,, encourage the home 
industry^ expand agriculture^ and build an independent and 
sovereign economy; to provide jobs to unemployed people^ increase 
.wages for workers^ arm-yjien^ and office employees; to' abolish 
arbitrary fines and apply an equitable and rational tax system; 
to help forced evacuees from North Vietnam who now desire to rejoin 
their native places; and to provide jobs to those who want to 

"4 — To carry out land rent reduction^ guarantee the peasants^ 
right to till their present plots of land^ and redistribute com- 
munal land in preparation for land reform. 

5 — To elnininate the U.S. -style culture of enslavement and 
depravation; to build a national and progressive culture and 
education^ eliminate illiteracy^ open more schools^ and carry 
out reform in the educational and examination system. 

"6--T0 abolish the system of Merican military advisers^ elini- 
inate foreign military bases in Vietnam^ and to build a national 
army defending the fatherland and the people. 

"T-"To realize equality between men and women^ and among 
different nationalities^ end realize the right to autonomy 
of the national minorities in the country; to protect the legit- 
imate interests of foreign residents in Vietnam; to protect and 
take care of the interests of overseas Vietnamese. 

"8--T0 carry out a foreign -policy of peace and neutrality; 
to establish diplomatic relations with all the countries which 
respect the independence and sovereignty of Vietnam. 

9 — To reestablish noiTiial relations between the two zones 
of Vietnaia for the attainiaent of peaceful reunification of the 

IO--T0 oppose aggressive wars^ actively defend world peace." 

'The manifesto concludes by calling on various strata of the 
people to close their ranks and to carry out the above program. 
The appeal was addressed to the workers^ peasants^ and other 


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working people^ to the intellectuals^ the industrialists^, and 
trades_, national minorities^, religious conmiinities^, deinocratiG 
personalities^ patriotic armynien^ and young men and women in 
South Vietnam. 

'Addressing the Vietnamese living abroad^ the manifesto 
called on them "to turn their thoughts to the beloved motherland 
and actively contribute to the sacred str'oggle for national 
emancipation." * " 

It is clear that the MjF vras not intended as an exclu- 
sively communist enterprise. Rather it was designed to encompass anti- 
GYl^ activists^ and to e>rploit the bi-polar nature of politics within 
South Vietnam. In the period 195^-1960;, prior to the NLF's "creation/' 
the objectives of insurgents in the Souths other than overthrow of My- 
Diem^ were vague. Coiianunists in the South no doubt shared the overall 
objectives of the DRV^ and were aiming at unification of all Vietnam 
under the Hanoi governraent. Some rebel nationalists were no doubt aware 
of the conoiunists' ambitions^ but would have regarded such an outcome 
as acceptable^ if not desirable. Others,, disillusioned by the actions 
of the Diem regime after 1956^ simply looked toward the establishment of 
a genuine democratic governraent in the South. Some peasants may have 
been fighting to rid themselves of government^ or to oppose modernization^ 
looking only to village autonomy. The sects ^ if not struggling for a 
democratic regime^ were fighting for their independence, as were some of 
the tribal groups who chose to join the NLF. The National Liberation 
Eront formulated and publicly articulated objectives for all these. 

Subsequent editions of the NLE Kanifesto differed in 
tv/o substantive respects. George Carver reported that: 

"On February 11_, 1961, Hanoi devoted a second broadcast 
to the N.L.F.'s manifesto and program, blandly changing the 
language of both to tone down the more blatant Communist 
terminology'- of the initial version. However, even the milder 
second version (which became the 'official' text) borrowed 
ex"tensively from Le Duan's September speech /at the Third 
National Congress of the Lao Dong Party in Hanoi/ and left 
little doubt about the Front's true sponsors or objectives." 167/ 

The "tone dovm" of couimunism was fairly subtle, if Hanoi so intended 
its revision, since the alterations consisted mainly in additions to the 
Ten Points of phraseology dravm from the preamble of the Manifesto; 
references to "agrarian reform," in those tem^s, were, hovrever, cut. There 
was a marked increase in condemnatory citations of "My-Diera, " so that^ in 
eight of ten points in the action program^ expelling the U.S. was clearly 
identified as the way the desired goal would be reached. I68 / 

Pike refers to an "organizing congress" of the NLF held 
in December, 196O, of 60 participants, at vrhich plans were announced for 

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convening the first regular MJF congress within a year. Several post- 
ponements obtruded^ and the meeting did not take place until February- 
March 1962. Nonetheless^ a Central Committee continued in the interim 
to further define MF purposes; the subsequent statements differed from 
the i960 Manifesto mainly on points of em^phasis. For example^ "reunification 
of the country" (Point 9 of the Manifesto) was down-played from I96O through 
1963. On the first anniversary of the NLF Manifesto^ 20 December 1961^ 
its leaders issued a supplementary series of interim or "immediate action" 
demands • These called for: 

1. Withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel and weapons^ 
from South Vietnam and abolition of the Staley Plan. 

2. An end to hostilities. 

3. Establishment of political freedoms. 

k. Release of political prisoners. , 

5. Dissolution of the National Assembly and election of 
a new asserably and president. 

6. Ending the resettlement program. 

7. Solution of Vietnam's economic problems. 

8. Establishment of a foreign policy of non-alignment. 

Although "immediate action" was probably intended to open the way toward 
formation of a coalition government and thence to ties with Hanoi^ there 
was no mention of reunification; nonetheless^ Hanoi in December^ 19^1; 
listed N^LF objectives as "peace^ independence;, democracy, a comfortable 
life^ and the peaceful unification of the Fatherland." One likely reason - 
for the NLF's aiiission of reunification from "immediate action" was its 
desire to broaden its base on anti-Diem^ anti-U.S. grounds --without 
alienating anti-Communists who might otherwise support the movement. 
Again, V7hen the first regular KLF congress met from February 16 to March 3^ 
1962, the earlier basic .objectives of the Front v/ere endorsed, excepting 
reunfication. The Radio Hanoi broadcast on the congress added "advancing 
to peaceful imification of the Fatherland" to a list from which this 
objective was conspicuously absent in the NLF releases. On July 20, I962, 
the anniversary of the Geneva Accords, the KLF issued a declaration that: 

"The Central Cormaittee of the National Liberation Front 
of South Vietnam believes that in the spirit of Vietnamese 
dealing vrith Vietnamese soJ^ving their own internal affairs^ 
with the deterraination to put the Fatherland's interest above 
■ all else, the forces that oppose U.S. imperialism in South 
Vietnam will, through mutual concessions, be able to reach a 
common agreement for united action to serve the people." 170/ 

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The same statement contained a new "four point manifesto": 

"1. The UoS. government miust end its armed aggression 
against South Vietnam_, abolish its military conimand_, withdraw 
all its troops and personnel^ as well as the troops and personnel 
of U.S. satellites and allies^ and withdraw all weapons and 

other war ec[uipment from South Vietnam. 

"2. Concerned parties in South Vietnam must stop the war_; ■ 
re-establish peace^ and establish conditions throughout South 
Vietnam to enable the South Vietnamese to solve their own 
internal affairs. The South Vietnam authority /That is^ govern- 
ment7 must end its terror operations. 

"3- There must be established a national coalition govern- 
ment_, to include representatives of all political parties_, cliques^ 
groups^ all political tendencies,, social strata^ members of all 
religions. This government must guarantee peace. It must organize 
free general elections in South Vietnam to choose a democratic 
National Assembly that will carry out the urgently needed policies. 
It must promulgate democratic liberties to all political parties_, 
groups_j religions; it must release all political prisoners^ abolish 
all internjnent camps and all other forms of concentration /camps_/j 
and stop the forced draft of soldiers and the military training 
of youth^ women^ public servants^ and enterprise^ economic inde- 
pendence. It must abolish monopolies and improve the living 
conditions of all people. 

"^. South Vietnam must carry out a foreign policy of peace 
and neutrality. It must establish friendly relations with all 
nations^^ especially with her neighbors. It must not enter any 
military bloc or agree to let any country establish military 
bases on her soil. It must accept aid from all countries fj.'fj 
free of political conditions, k necessary international agree- 
ment must be signed in which the big powers of all blocs pledge 
to respect the sovereignty^ independence^ territorial integrity^ . 
and neutrality of South Vietnam. South Vietnam,, together with 
Cambodia and Laos^ will form a neutral area^ all three countries 
retaining full sovereignty." I71/ • 


As the anticipated fall of the Diem government drev^ near in 19^3^ KLF 
statements of goals increasingly stressed the anti-American^ probably 
to shift the focus of NLF attack away from a disappearing objective — 
the defeat of Diem, and possibly because the NLF could not manipulate 
or adapt to the Buddhist struggle movement. Demands issued by the NLF 
five days following Diem's fall in November, 1963^ were probably intended 
to take credit for changes in GVN policy then underway, since, except 
for halting conscription, the Duong Van Minh government was undertaking 
e^exj reform the NLE called for. However, the first extensive official 
statement of the NTjF Central Committee following Diem's doxrafall, issued 


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NovemlDer 17^ 1963^ ^^^ reassert the reunification objective: 

"Concerning the reunification of Vietnara_, as vras expounded 
many times by the South Vietnam. National Liberation Eront_, the 
Vietnam Fatherland Front and the DRV governjiientj it will be 
realized step by step on a voluntary basis^ with consideration 
given to the characteristics of each zone^ with equality^ and 
without annexation of one zone by the other." 17^/ 

Concerning coalition governnient there was less vacillation 
in KLF emphasis^ although there v/as some detectable variation in the v/el- 
come extended from time to time to anti-communist political movements. 
Similarly^ the objective of "neutralization" was constant. Cambodia was 
held up as a model_j and there was som.e implication in early DJLF statements 
that it would accept international supervision of "neutralization-" 
Beginning in I963 MjF statements were couched to convey the notion that 
"reunification" and "neutralization" were distinct one from the other^ 
apparently out of deference to DRV reaction against proposals to neutralize 
North Vietnam. I73/ 

b. Leadershi'o 

The MF founders were shadowy figures most of whom, had 
earned modest repute on the m.urky fringes of Vietnamese politics. They 
seem to have been chosen with an eye to avoiding loiown Communists;, and 
to obtaining wide representation fran South Vietnam's complicated society. 
Although the NLF Central Committee reserved places for 52 members^ only 
31 names were publicized as founding members^ indicating either a large 
covert membership_, or^ more likely _, simple inability to find eligible 
persons to fill the posts. 17^/ A U.s". study of 73 NLF leaders in I965 
indicated that almost all vxere born in South Vietnam.^ and ahaost all w^ere 
highly educated. I75/ Most had histories of anti-French political activity^ 
or identification with religious movements^ and it appears that if many 
were not themselves crypto-communists^ they had laiown and worked with com- 
munists for years. The prime example of the group is Nguyen Huu Tho^ 
who was the first formally elected chairman of the Presidium of the Central 
Committee of the NLF. Tho was a Cochinchinese lawyer^ once a socialist^ 
v^ho spent some months with the Viet Minh in the Mekong Delta in 19^^7* He 
thereafter led anti-French and anti-US dem.onstrations_, defended a number 
of Vietnamese before Saigon courts for crimes related to the "Resistance^ " 
and served some tiae in French jails. He also edited a clandestine Viet 
Minh newspaper ained at Saigon intellectuals. In Au^ust^ 195^'-^ ^^ became 
vice chairman of the leftist Saigon Peace Committee,, or Movement for the 
Defense of Peace (MDP)o In November^ 195^^-^ according to CIA information^ 
Tho and others in the MP were arrested^ and Tho spent the next seven years 
in Diem's detention centers. Mysteriously released in December^ -*L96l^ the 
CIA reported him elected to NLF office at the congress of March^ I962. I76/ 
Douglas Pike's information has Tho active in Saigon politics through 195S7 
at w^hich time he was jailed. His NLF biography states that "he was liber- 
ated by a daring guerrilla raid on the jail in I96I; " but Pike^ unable to 
find any record of such a raid^ concludes that Tho was provisional chair- 
man of the ITLFy and was elected Central Committee Chairman at the organizing 
meeting in December I96O. 177 / 

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• • 


c . Development 

The KLE rapidly took on organisational reality- from the 
Central Coimnittee down through a web of subordinate and associated groups 
to villages all over Vietnam, Pike estimates that within a few months of 
its founding in December^ 1960^ its membership doubled^ doubled again by 
autumn^ I96I; and then redoubled by early 1962_, at which time 300^000 
Vietnamese were on its roles. I78/ These were members of the "liberation 
associations/^ NLF per se_, of which there were administrative associations 
(e.g._, provincial headquarters) and functional associations (e.g.^ Youth 
Liberation Association); or_j they belonged to one of several political 
parties^ including the comm-unist party^ affiliated with the KliF; or^ they 
served in the Liberation Army. Noiraally^ each man^ woman and child belonged 
to many organizations simultaneously. A Erench analysis of Viet Minh 
organization aptly described the MF: 

"The individual is enchained in several networks of inde- 
pendent hierarchies. . .a territorial hierarchy. . -running from 
the family and the block to the interprovincial government^ and 
associations that incorporate m_ale and female youth groups,, groups 
of mothers^ of farmers^ factoi-y^ and plantation workers' syndicates 
they could just as well include clubs of flute players or bicycle 
racers; the essential thing is that no one escapes from this enroll 
ment and that the territorial hierarchy is crossed by another one^ 
which supervises the first and is in turn supervised by it^ both 
being overseen by police or ganizations and the /CornaLUjaist/ Party. . 

The key operational com.iuonents of the NLF were the 
Liberation Army and the People's Revolutionary Party^ as the communists 
within the KLE termed themselves. The forjner had a lien on the services 
of every NLE member^ man^ woman or child^ although f^onctionally its missions 
were usually carried out by formally organized and trained paramilitary or 
full-time units. All "Viet Cong" units were^ from 196I on; regarded as 
par^t of the Liberation Army. 

There can be little doubt that comraunists played a major 
role in organizing the NLF. Although Diem's Communist Denunciation 
campaign had foreclosed "Eront" activity^ the coiiununists of South Vietnam 
possessed the leadership^ tight subordination and conspiratorial doctrine 
necessary for them, to survive; moreover^ they were^ as Milton Sacks 
characterized them; "the most persevering; most cohesive; best-disciplined; i 
and most experienced political group in Vietnam. " 180 / The People ^s Revolutionary 
Party was not formed until January; I962; it t-ras explicitly the "Mar.xist- 
Lsninist Party of South Vietnam;" and it purported to be the "vanguard of 
the JMLF; the paramount member." 1SJ_/ In 1962; it had some 35^000 me::iibers. iBs / 
The Lao Dong Party had continued low level overt activity; as well as covert 
operations; in South Vietnam throughout the years 1955 to"1962. Eor example; 
leaflets were distributed over the lao Dong impriniatur. 153/ But the PPvP 
denied official links with the La.o Dong Party of the DRV beyond "fraternal 
ties of conETiunism." l8^/ The denial implies the q^uestion: what role 

. e 


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did the DEV and the Lao Dong Party play in the years of patient work 
necessary to bring the NLF to flower in so short a tirae a^fcer I96O? 
What role did they play in the insurgency overall? 

The official U.S. view has been that the PRP is merely 
the southern arm. of the Lao Dong Party, and one instrument by which Hanoi 
instigated and controlled the revolt against "]^/[y-Diem. " IB5/ Douglas 
Pike's analysis led him to concur _, with reservations: 

"The Viet Minh elements in South Vietnam during the struggle 
against the Fx'ench had of course included many non-Communist 

elements After 195^^ many Viet Minh entered the ranks of the . 

nev7 Diem government^ and even a decade later many of the top 
military and civilian governmental figures in Saigon were former 
Viet Minh. Nevertheless the Viet Minh elements^ made up chiefly 
but not entirely of Communists, continued to offer resistance to 
the Diem government .... In tei-nis of overt activity such as armed 
incidents of the distribution of propaganda leaflets the period 
was quiet and the Communists within the reriinant Viet Minh organiza- 
tion relatively inactive. In addition, much of the activity that 
did take place apparently was the work of impatient cadres operating 
in the South independently of tfenoi's orders.... 

"Such action on their part and the religious sects is under- 
standable, and the emergence of a clandestine militant opposition 

group could be expected such an effort would be in complete 

harmony with Vietnamese social tradition and individual psychology. 
But there is a vast difference between a collection of clandestine 
opposition political groups and the organizational weapon that 
emerged, a difference in kind and not just degree. The National 
Liberation Front was not simply another indigenous covert group, 
or even a coalition of such groups. It was an organizational 
steamroller, nationally conceived and nationally organized, 
endowed with ample cadres and funds, crashing out of the jungle 
to flatten the GVN. It was not an ordinary secret society of the 
kind that had dotted the Vietnamese political landscape for decades. 
It projected a social construction program of such scope and amibition 
that of necessity it must have been created in Hanoi and Imported. 
A revolutionary organization must build; it begins with persons 
sui'fering genuine grievances, who are slowly organized and whose 
militancy gradually increases until a critical mass is reached and 
the revolution explodes. Exactly the reverse was the case with 
the MjF. It sprang full-blown into existence and then was fleshed 
out. The grievances were developed or manufactured almost as a 
necessary afterthought. The creation of the NLF was an accomplish- 
ment of such skill, precision, and refinement that when one thinks 
of who the master planner must have been, only one name comes to 
mind: Vietnam^ s organizational genius. Ho Chi Minh." 186 / 

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Tab 2 


1. Hammer, op. cit ., 26-35; Shaplen, op, cit . ., 128-132. Also, U.S. 
Department of State, Political Alignments of Vietnamese Nationalists 
(Office of Intelligence Research, Report No. 3708, October 1, 19^9) ^ 

passim . 

2. Chester A. Bain, Vietnam, The Roots of Conflict (Englewood Cliffs, 
N, J.: Prentice-Hall, I967), 69. 


3. Ibid ., 93-95- Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled (New York: 
Praeger, 1967? 2 vols.), I, 172-17^. 

k. Ibid ., I8-2I+, 89; Hajrmier, op. cit ., II8, 229, 28^4-287, 3^7-^8, 360-62; 
Shaplen, II6-II9. U.S. Department of the Army, _Minority Groups in the 
Republic of Vietnam (DA Pamphlet 55O-IO5, 1966),~"808-82i|— N.B. , maps 
in text of sect areas are drawn from this source. 

5. Warner, op. cit ., 95-96; Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , I55-I58; Bain, op.cit ., 
118; Report of the Saigon Military Mission, op. cit ., 28. 

6. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , 1^2-ll|8; DA Pamphlet 55O-IO5, op. cit ., 826- 
860; NTS I^3D, 32. 

7- Ibid ; DA Pamphlet 55O-IO5, op. cit ., 1020-10l|-8. 

8. U.S. Department of State, The Commimist Subversive Threat in Vietnam , 
Cambodia, and Laos (Office of Intelligence Research, 29 December 1955) 5 

9. See map. Tab 1, p. 21. 

10. Ibid . ; U.S. Dept. State, The Comiiuinist Subversive Threat in Vietnam , 
op. cit ., 10. 

11. Ibid , 10-15; A. L. Nutt, Troika on Trial , op. cit ., 25O-253. 

12. Douglas Pike Viet Cong (Cambridge: MIT, I966), 2-30; Rand Corporation 
Memoranda dealing with Viet Cong motivation and morale (Santa Monica 
dates shown): W. S. Davison and J, J, Zasloff, A Profile of Viet Cong 
Cadres, RM-U983"ISa/ARPA, June, I966; Zasloff, RM-U7O3-ISA/ARPA, op.cit ; 
L, Goure, A, J. Russo, and D. Scott, Some Findings of the Viet Cong 
Motivation and Morale Study , RM-4911-ISA/ARPA. 

13. This lack of dc facto independence has figured in recent controversy 
p over Dlem^s responsibility to the Geneva Agreement signed by France, 

e.g., Kahin and Lewis, op . cit . , 56-57- 

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ik. Scigliano^ op. cit . , 62-68. Kahin and Lewis , op. cit .^ 93, 9^. 

15. The suinmary account of Diem's life draws principally on Fall, The 
Two Viet-Najns , op. cit ., 23^^ ff . ; Warner, op. cit ., 84 ff . ; Shaplen, 
The Lost Revolution , 100 ff . ; Scigliano, op, cit ., 13 ff. 

16. E.g . Shaplen, op. cit ■ , 101; or Wesley R. Fishel, "Vietnam's Democratic 
One-Man Rule," in Gettlemen, ed., op. cit ., 197-198. 

17. Shaplen, loc. cit , ; Scigliano, op. cit ., 17* 

18. E^. Robert Sheer, op. cit ., 240-241. 

19. Diem's acq.uaintances in the U.S. included Supreme Court Justice 
William 0. Douglas, Senator John F. Kennedy, and Senator Mike Mansfield, 
as well as Cardinal Spellman. 

20. U.S. Dept. of State, Memorandum of Conversation among Senator Mansfield, 
Assistant Secretary W, S. Robertson, et al, 7 December 1954. 

21. U.S. Dept. of State, Memorandum from Ambassador Heath to Asst. Secy. 
Robertson, I7 December 1954. 

22. General J. Lawton Collins, Memorandum to the Secretary of State, dated 
20 January 1955, "Report on Vietnam for the National Security Council," 

23. U.S. Dept of State, telegram, Saigon 4399^ April 7, 1955- 
24- U.S. Dept of State, telegram, Saigon 4663, April I9, 1955- 

25. U.S. Dept of State, Memo for Asst. SecState Robertson, 30 April 1955^ 
"Report on Collins Visit and Viet-Nam Situation," which foresaw trouble 
on the Hill if Diem were forced out. 

U.S. Congress, Congressional Record , Vol. 101 (Washington: GPO, 
May 2, 1955), 5290. 

26. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, 
dated 9 May 1955? subject: "Indochina (Vietnam)." 

27. U.S. Dept of State, telegram, SECTO 50 from Manila, 1 March 1955? 
reports that Secretary Dulles "told Diem that U.S. Government -- 
President and himself -- had great stake in him and in Vietnam. . . 
if there is failure here, U.S. prestige would be gravely affected"; 
also Resch. Memo 765;> op. cit , 

28. Scigliano, op. cit ., IOI-IO5. 

29. Jean Lacouture and Philippe Devillers, La Fin d'Une Guerre (Paris: 
■ Editions du Seuil, I96O), 306. 

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30. Shaplen^ IO6. Diem considered himself a Catholic of the Spanish 

vice French tradition: fiercely militant, rather than intellectual 
and tolerant in the Gallic mode. Fall, Two Viet-Nams , 236-238. Cf . , 
¥arner5 op. cit ., 90- 

31- Ibid ., 237. 

32. Scigliano, op. cit ., 58. U.S. Dept of State, Memorandum for the 
Secretary of State, dated 23 April 1955, "Report on Vietnamese Political 
Situation," and Memorandum for Assistant Secretary of State Robertson, 
30 April 1955^ "Report on Collins Visit and Viet-Ram Situation." 

33. Scigliano, op. cit ., 6O; David Halberstam, The Making of a Quagmire 
(New York: Random House, I96J4), 55; Fall, Two Viet-Nams , 252-253. 

3h. Scigliano, op. cit ., 56-57. 

35. Ibid ., 58, 75-76, UO-lll; Warner, op. cit ., 32, 307-308; Fall, Two 
Viet-Nams , 2^6-252. 

36. Anthony Trawick Bouscaren, The Last of the Mandarins: Diem of Vietnam. 
(Pittsburgh: Duquesne U. Press, I965), I68. 

37. Ibid ., 168, 169. 

38. Ibid., 79-82. 

39. Ibid ., 165-171. 

kO. Shaplen, op. cit ., I3I. 

kl. Report of the Saigon Military Mission (S^'IM), op. cit . 

42. Warner, op. cit ., II6-II7, 2llf., 22^; Fall, TVo Viet-Nam-s , 25O; Scigliano, 
op. cit ., 75-80; Shaplen, op. cit ., I28-I32. 

k3- Scigliano, loc. cit . 

I I kk. Ibid., 77. 

^5- Report of the Saigon Military Mission, op. cit .; Scigliano, op. cit ., 

k6. U.S. Dept of State, telegrams: to Saigon ^756 of 27 April 1955; to 

Saigon ^757 of 27 April 1955; to Saigon of 28 April 1955 (draft); 

to Saigon 56OO of 1 May 1955. 


) I Memorandum from K, T. Young, Jr., to Asst Secy Robertson, 30 April 1955? 

"Report on Collins Visit and Viet-Nam Situation"; Shaplen, o-p. cit . , 
122-125; Report of the SMM, op. cit . 

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cit . , 

Warner, op. clt . , IO5-IO6. 

U.S. Dept of State, telegrams: from Paris 476? of 2 May 1955; from 
Saigon 507^ of 5 May 1955; also, Shaplen, op. cit ., I2I-I253 Bain, op. 

Ibid., SECTO 8 of May 8, 1955 . 

Ibid ., TEDUL 2 of May 8, I955. 

Ibid ., TEDUL 9 of May 9, 1955 . 

Shaplen, op. cit ., 127; Warner, op. cit ., 101. 

Ibid ., 103. 

NSC 5809, 2 April I958, and Progress Report of 28 May I958. 

U.S. Congress, Senate, Situation in Vietnam , Committee on Foreign Rela- 
tions, Subcoimnittee on State Department Organization and Public Affairs 
(86th Congress, First Session, July 3O-3I, 1959), 171. 

Kahin and Lewis, op. cit ., IIO-II5; Tillman Durdin, "Red Activities Up 
in Vietnam," New York Times (April 13, 1959), 5; U.S. Senate, Background 
Information. . . , op. cit ., 5; CIA, NSC Briefing for I6 August I958; U.S. 
Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam, "Country Statement," narra- 
tives for 21 January 1957, 15 July 1957, 22 January 1958; CIA, Current 
Intelligence Weekly Review, ,15 and I6 August I958; U.S. Dept of State, 
Saigon 268 of I3 August 1958, and Saigon 278 of l4 August I958; CIA, 
Saigon CS-3366824 of Ik August I958. 

Kahin and Lewis, op. cit. . Ill, 

Ibid., Warner, op- cit ., 10i+-105j DA Pamphlet 550-105, 819, 8^3, IO36; 
Scigliano, op. cit., 89; Shaplen, op, cit ., U.S. Dept of State "The 
Communist Subversive Threat to the Treaty Area" (Office of Intelligence 
Research, October 2^, 1956), Annex, "Vietnam, Cam„bodia, and Laos," 15, 

Report of the Saigon Military Mission, op. cit,, 22-26; Shaplen, op. cit ., 
135-137- ~'~ 

Ibid ; Report of the SMM, op. cit ., ^3-4^1-; CIA, NSC Briefing for 12 May 
1955 on "South Vietnam." 

David Hotham, "South Vietnam- -Shaky Bastion," New Republic (November 25^ 
1957). 15. . ■ 

Memorandum for the Record by Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, Deputy 
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations, dated 
15 July 1958, subject: "Pacification in Vietnam"; also, Report of 
the SMM, . op . c it . , 24-25; Scigliano, op. cit ., William A. Nighswonger, 
Rural Pacification in Vietnain (New York: Pracger, I966), 35-37- 


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63- Kahin and Lewis_y op. cit *^ 102. 

0\ . Scigliano,, op. cit . y 121; Shaplen^ op . c it . ; 1^3 • 

65. Ibid ., 10^-105, 121-12hi GW, T Years of the Ngo Dinh Diem Adjninis- ■ 
t rat ion (Saigon: October 26, I96I), 319-360. 

GG, Fall; The Two Viet-Nams , op. cit .; 308; Shaplen, op. cit.; 1^5- 

67- Ibid .; SciglianO; loc. cit .; Pike; op. cit . 62-63- 

GQ. Scigliano; op. cit .; I77-I78; Nighswonger; op . c it . ; 40. 

GS. Bain; op. cit .; 122; SciglianO; op. cit.; 91"98; Shaplen; op. cit .; 

70. Ibid . 

71- Scigliano; op. cit.; 6^-77; l60-l62; 167-172. 

72. Ibid .; 168. 

73. Ibid.; 170-171. 
7^. Ibid. 

75. Kahan and LewiS; op. cit .; 99-102. 

76. Ibid .; P.J. Honey-; "The Problem of Democracy in Vietnam;" The World 
Today (No. I6; February, I960); 73. 

77- SciglianO; op . c it . ; I69. 

78. Ibid .; 173 -174 ; Nighswonger; op. cit .; ko. 

79. Ibid .; 45; SciglianO; op. cit. , I69-I72. 

80. Ibid .; 11^^; Nighswonger; h'^-kG; John D. Montgomery; The Politics of 
Foreign Aid (New York: Praeger; I966); 72-83. 

81. Pike; op. cit. ; 13-l4; SciglianO; I8I-I82. 

82. Kahan and LewiS; op . c it . ; IO7. 

83 • Nighswonger; op. cit . ; 46; SciglianO; op . c it . ; I78-I83 • 

Qk. Ibid . 

85. Ibid .; 179. 

86. Ibid.; I8O; Nighswonger; op. cit.; 46. 


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87. Ibid ., 46ff; Scigliano, I8O-I83. 

88. Ibid ., 163-164; Zasloff, EM-5163-ISaARPA, op. cit ., 27; Mghswonger, 
op. cit. , 43-^1^5. 

89- Scigliano^ op. clt .j 33; Shaplen^ qp. cit *^ 133-13^- 

90 . Sc iglianOj op. cit - ^ I67 . 

91. Fall, Two Vlet-Nams , op. cit ., 252-253; Scigliano, op. cit ., 81, iB?; 
Kahin and Lewis, IO9-IIO, II3. 

92. ms h3D, op. cit ., i^-0; Kahin and Lewis, op. cit., IO9-IIO; Shaplen, 

93 • Ibid . , Scigliano, op. cit. , 82-85; Warner, op . cit . , 107-12^ . 

94. Ibid ., p. J. Honey, "Progress in the Republic of Vietnam," World Today 
( Vol . 15, No, 2, February 1959), 73-T^- The passage from Thoi Luan is 
quoted in Fall, Two Viet-Nams, op. cit ., 270-271. 

95. Warner, op. cit ., 110-111. 

'^6. Text is from Fall, Two Viet-Nams , ^32-^138. 

97, Scigliano, op. cit ., I77-I78. 

98- Quoted in Hammer, The Struggle for Indochina , op . c it . , 350-351' 

^9. NIS ^3D, op. cit ., 39-^0; CIA, Intelligence Memorandum, "Politically 
Significant Groups in South Vietnam" (No. O8II/66, ^i- May I966), and 
"The Vulnerability of Non- Communist Groups in South Vietnam to Viet 
Cong Political Subversion" (No. 0829/66, 27 May I966) . 

100. Scigliano, op. cit ., 207- 

101. Ibid ., 203, 207; Report of the SMM , op. cit ., 9-I6. 

102. Ibid., 39-^0, H-45; Shaplen, 125-I26; Warner, 102-106. U.S. Dept, of 
State, Telegram Paris to State ^7^3, 30 April 1955; and Paris to State 
h^k6, 30 April 1955. 

103- Scigliano, op. cit ., 165-I66. 

10^. Ibid . 

105. Ibid ., 162-165; Montgomery, op. cit ., 62-70.'" ■.- 

106. Scigliano, op. cit. I87-I88, Shaplen, op. cit., 3^1-1^2. 

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( ) 

I I 

107. Scigliano^ op. cit ., I87-I88. 

108. Scigliano, op. cit .^ 217-225; Shaplen^ op. cit ., 188-212. 

109. John Osborne; "The Tough Miracle Man of Vietnam/' Life ^ May I3, 1957; 
Kahin and Lewis^ op. cit .j 99-101; Fall^ Viet-Nam Witness ^ op . c it . ^ 


110. Kahin and Lewis^ op. cit .^ 101-102. 

111. Report of L. B. Woodbury _j Jr._, Col^ GS^ US Army Attache _, Saigon^ 
for July^ 1956. 

112. William Henderson^ "South Viet Nam Finds Itself ^ " Foreign Affairs 
(Vol. 35, No. 2, January^ 1957)^ 285, 288; quoted in Kahin and 
Lewis _, op. cit ., 100. 

113. Quoted in Fall; Two Viet-Nams ^ op. cit .; 324. 

114. P. J. Honey; "Progress in the Republic of Vietnam^ World Today (Vol. 15; 
No. 2; Feb.; 1959); 75. 

115- P- J. Honey; "The Problem of Democracy in Vietnam;" op. cit .; 72-73- 

116. Lt. Gen. John W. 0' Daniel; USA (Ret); America's Stake in Vietnam ; 

op ■ C it . ; 6, 

117. Diem; Ibid. ; 101-102. 

118. Quoted in Warner; op. cit .; 91-93- 

119. Ibid .; 92. 

120. This same misapprehension appears in U.S. "counter insurgency" 
literature; e.g. W. W. Kostow: "Moreover; the guerrilla force 

has this advantage: its task is merely to destroy; while the govern- 
ment must build and protect what it is building." W. W. RostoW; 
"Guerrilla Warfare in the Under-developed Areas ; " Speech at the 
U.S.A. Special Warfare School; June; I96I; in Raskin and Fall; eds.; 
op . c it ■ ; 113. 

121. Diem; quoted in Ibid .; 127-I28. 

122. Hoang Van Chi; op. cit. ; 59, 

123. Pike; op. cit.; facing 1. 

i- •■ 

124. Kahin and LewlS; op. cit .; 121; quoting a GVN pamphlet and Ellen J. 
Eomxaer. Cf* references to Viet Cong forces in North Vietnam in US 
MAAG Vietnam; "Narrative Study (u);" August I958 and other dates. 


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125. Zasloff, M-4140-PE;, op. clt .^ 31; and RM-5163"ISA/aRPA, op. clt ., 
passim ; Estimates of Viet Minh strength are based on French data 
■in Croizat^ trans.; RM-527I-PR; op . c it ■ 

126. Zasloff; EM-5163-ISA/ARPA, op> cit .; passim. 

127. The document is known in intelligence circles as "the CRMP 
Document; " having been captured by elements of the US 1st Infantry- 
Division in the Iron Triangle area of Binh Duong Province on Operation 
CRIOyiP; 6-1^ January I966. Its accuracy and authenticity have been 
verified by US authorities. 

128. USMACV; Report of Interrogation of Nguyen Van Tron^ captured by ARVN 
19 November I96U in Han Nghia Province. 

129. Pike; op. cit ,; T6-TT- 
130 - Ibid . 

131. Thoi Luan ; I5 December 1957; quoted in Fall; Viet-Nam Witness ; op. cit .; 

132. Ibid .; 185-186. 

133- Ibid .; 16O; CIA; NSC Briefing for 23 October 1957- 

13^- Kahin and Lewis ; op. cit .^ 110. 

135- CIA; NSC Briefing of 30 November 1957- 

136. DIA; "North Vietnamese Role in the Origins...;" op- cit . 

137. Shaplen; op. cit. ; 138. 

138. UoS. Senate; Background Information...; op . c it . ; 5; Fall; Viet-Nam 
Witness ; op. cit .; 16O. 

139- Quoted in ibid . 

140. Fall; The Two Viet-Nams , op. cit .; 317^,324. 

141. George A. Carver; "The Faceless Viet Cong;" Foreign Affairs (Vol hk^ 
No. 3, April; 1966); 359. 

1^2. Warner; 15^1; GVN White Paper; Violations of the Geneva Agreements 
by the Viet -Minh Communists ^ op. cit .; 107 . 

1^3. Dept. of State; Saigon Desptach 278 to State; 7 March I96O; and 

CIA; SNIE 63.I-6O; Short Term Trends in South Vietnam (23 August 1960). 
Cf. U.S. Congress; House; Current Situation in the Far East ; Hearings 
before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign AffairS; 86th 
Congress; 1st Session; Aug. iky 1959; P- 323- 


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li^-ll-- Pike, op. cit .; 102. 


11^5- Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , 239; 36O-36I. 

Ih6. New York Times (May 5, 19.6l), 10. 

li+T- Time , 7 November I96O. 

l48. U.S. Department of State, A Threat to the Peace: North Vietnam's 

Effort to Conquer South Vietnam (Far Eastern Series 110, Washington, 
December I961), Part I, I3. 

3.49. Fall, Viet -Nam Witness , op. cit ., 172, l8^-l85; and Two Viet-Nams , 
op. cit ., 317 ff. 

150. CLA, Current Intelligence Weekly Review, I6 August 1958 j CIA Saigon 
CS-3366824, Ik Aug I958; and UoS. Dept. of State, telegrams 
Saigon to State 268 and 278 of I3 and l4 August, 1958. 

151. Gerald Hickey, Village in Vietnam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 

1964), 10. 

152. Quoted in Scigliano, op. cit -, I38. 

153. Pike, op. cit ., 85. 
15^^. Ibid ., 78. 

155. Scigliano, op. cit ., I38. 

156. Warner, op. cit ., 159; Saigon to State Despatch 278, op. cit . 

157- U.S. Dept. of State, telegrams, Saigon to State 2288 of 1 Feb I96O, 
and 2301 of 2 Feb I96O; Warner, op. cit ., I6O; Fall, Two Viet-^Nams , 
op. cit ., U35; Raskin and Fall, eds. , op. cit ., 120. 

158. Saigon to State 23OI of 2 Feb I96O. 

159. Scigliano, op. cit., ihO; DIAAP4, North Vietnamese Role.-. , op. cit., 

160. Fall, Viet -Nam Witness , op. cit ., 282. 

161. U.S. Dept. of State, Despatch 278 from Saigon, 7 March I96O, p. 8 
of End 1; Cf . Kahin and Lewis, op . c it . , 111. 

162. Ibid . 

163. Kahin and JLewis, op. cit ., 101-102; Gettleman, ed., op. cit ., 256-26O; 
Jean Lacouture, Vietnam: Between Two Truces (New York: Random House, 
I966), 29-3O; Fall, The TVo Viet-Nams, op. cit ., 272. 

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l6^. U.S. Department of State^ Despatch 278^ op. cit .^ End 1^ p. 11. 

165. Pike^ op. cit .j 82^ quoting a Radio Hanoi broadcast of Jmie 5_, 1964. 
A CIA agent in I956 reported that Southern Party organizations had 
been directed to merge with the Fatherland Front^ CIA^ Singapore^ 
CS-82270^ 16 January I956. . ■ 

166. Cf .J Kahin and Lewis^ op. cit .^ II3-II6. Also: "New National Front 
Formed in S- Vietnam^ " Foreign Broadcast Information Service Bulletin ^ 
31 January 1961^ pp. EEE 13-17. On 2 February I96I ( ibid ., 2 Feb^ 

EE 5), Radio Hanoi. elaborated: "The French language paper LA DEPECHE 
DU CAMBODGE /of Phnom Penh, Cambodia/ . . . on 24 December announced 
that it had received the manifesto of the front which said that it had 
come into existence to meet the aspiration of the South Vietnamese 
people, and that it iHidertook to liberate them from My- Diem slavery." 
^he same paper quoted REUTERS, report dated 24 December/ "the front 
may have intensified its political activities in the countryside and 
among the South Vietnamese armed forces ..." The U.S. Department 
of State, however, has taken the view that the NIF was formed in 
Hanoi; cf., the "White Papers" of I96I and I965, op. cit ., and Letter, 
Under Secretary Katzenbach to Congressman Evans, 5 March I968. 

167. Carver, op. cit ., 361. 

168. For the "official" (February 11, I961) text of the NLF Manifesto, see 
Pike, op. cit ., 82, 344-347; and CIA, Iritelligence Memorandum, "The 
Organization, Activities, and Objectives of the Communist Front in 
South Vietnam" (1603/66, 26 September I966), Annex II. 


169. Pike, op. cit ., 347-348. 

170. Ibid ., 351- 

171. Ibid ., 350-351. 

^T^* IbJ-<3-- J 356; "zone" refers to the two "regrouping zones" established 
by the Armistice Agreement of 1954. 

173. Ibid ., 358-369. 

174. CIA, Intelligence Memorandum 1603/66, op. cit ., 5-6. 

175. Biographical information on 73 of the leaders and key cadre of the 
NLF and affiliated organizations indicates that SSfo (48) of this group 
were born jn South Vietnam, and that an additional 8 are probably 
Southerners. Only 2 of the 73 were certainly born in the North, 
while an additional 2 may have been born there. (The birthplace of 

13 of the 73 is unknov/ii. ) It can also be ascertained from the bio- 
graphical data that at least 60 of the 73 sre highly educated, 
particularly so by Asian standards. Ibid. 

176. Ibid ., 1-44 to 1-46. 

177. Ibid., 426-427. 


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178- Ibid, ^ 115. 

179- Quoted in Peter Paret_, French Revolutionary Warfare from Indochina 
to Algeria (New York: Praeger^ 196^)^ 12-13. . 

180. I. Milton Sacks^ in Frank N. Trager^ ed., Marxism in Southeast Asia 
(Standord^ Cal.: Stanford University Press^ 1959)^ 163^ ' 

181. Pike^ op- cit ., I37. 

182. Ibid ., 138. 

183. Loc. cit . 

184. Ibid., 1 37 o 

185. Cf. U.So Department of State "V/hite Papers" of 196I and 1965^ and 
Carver, op. cit ., 362-363. Douglas Pike's 

186. Pike, op. cit., 75-76. 



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Tab 3 



A. Character of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1 

!• Structure of the Government 1 

a . Constitution of 19^1-6 2 

b . Constitution of I96O ' 2 

2. Political Parties 3 

a. Lao Dong Party • 3 

b . Fatherland Front 5 

3 • Leadership ', 6 

B. The DRV's Domestic Objectives 9 

1- Societal Discipline 9 

a. Rural Opposition^ 195^-1956....: 9 

b . Peasant Rebellion of I956 12 

c. Reconciliation and Repression^ 1957-1959 ^^ 

2. Progress Toward Socialism ' I6 

a. Agriculture 17 

b . Industry I8 

C . Foreign Policy Objectives 20 

1. Independence 20 

2. Reunification 22 

3 . Support from Abroad - 25 

a. Foreign Military Assistance • • • - 25 

b. Solidarity with the USSR and CPE 26 

k. Vietnamese Hegemony 29 

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D. Links with the Viet Cong ■ 32 

1. Southerners in the North 32 

2 . Fatherland Front • 37 

3. Coimnon Leadership 39 

k* The Communist !ferty ^0 

E. DRV Strategy: Objectives and Timing ^5 

1. Political Struggle: Summer, 195^ -- Summer, 1956 ^5 

2. Internal Dissent and Reassessment: Summer, 195^ -- Fall, 1957* ^7 

3. Preparations: Winter, 1958 -- Spring, 1959 53 

k. Taking the Offensive: Spring, 1959 -- Fall, I96O 56 

a. Surfacing the Strategy, 1959- • 5^ 

b . DRV Intervention in Laos 60 

c . Explication of the Strategy, I96O 6^1- 


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Tab 3. 


-^ ' Character of the Democratic Republic of Vietnag 

Between 195^ and 1960_, Ho Chi Minh had to face in North Vietnam^ 
as did Ego Dinh Diem in South Vietnam^ the problem of building a nation 
out of the ruins of nearly a. decade of war. During those years^ ijntil 
the DRV declared its support for the National Liberation Front of South 
Vietnam^ Eo seemed preoccupied with the probleins of consolidating his 
regime and securing the foreign aid he needed to assure economic grow-th. 
Certainly agricultural shortages and popular urirest in North Vietnam in 
the immediate aftermath of Geneva were sufficiently serious to have dis- 
couraged foreign adventures through 1956. However_, by January^ -1961^ 
when Hanoi announced the formation of the I^ILF; the internal difficulties 
of the DRV seem to have been largely resolved. Inquiiy into the titning 
and extent of the DRV*s participation in the insurgency of South Vietnam^ 
therefore^ requires assessm.ent of those conditions within the DRV vmich 
might have affected its capability and willingness to prosecute a war of 

1. of the G overnment . He possessed one distinct 
advantage over Diem: his governinent had been in existence^ in one form 
or another^ continuously since 19^5- Ho and his lieutenants ruled in 
radically differing circujnstances as the status of the regime shifted 
from that of a state within the French Union in 19^1-6; to a belligerent in 
a colonial revolution^ and back to a sovereign state in 195^1-^ preserving 
remarkable continuity. The Geneva Conference of 195'^ restored its actual 
territorial dom_inion to about what it had been in 195^^^ ^^ "that Prance 
acceded to a cease-fire based upon a territorial division of Vietnam at 
the 17th parallel and to Viet Minh "conduct of ciA^il administration" in the 
regions to the noz-th,, pending "general elections." l/ The withdrav/al of 
French military forces and civil authority from northern Vietnam, vras co- 
ordinated with the DRV forces and leaders so that the latter systematically 
replaced the former; by the end of May 1955; the DRV had acquired full 
control of all its territory _, and began to act as a sovereign state. 2/ 
Plowever^j formal recognition of DRV statehood dates from. Januar}"^ 1950 
(china and Soviet Union)^ and best information now available to the U.S. 
Department of State indicates that thereafter twenty-two other nations estab- 
lished relations with it. 3./ Forinally; the Dem_ocratic Republic of 
Vietnam was organized under a Constitution promulgated in 19^1-6 which^ in 
language echoing Jefferson^ guaranteed civic freedomis^ and reposed princi- 
pal state power in a people's parliament. A second Constitution was adopted 
on January !_, 1960^ more explicitly drawn from communist thought^ resembling 
the Chinese Constitution in general^ but containing Soviet style clauses 
on civil rights and autonomy of national minorities. 

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1 ; 


Constitution of 19^6 

The 19^1-6 basic lav/ declared Vietnam to be a democratic 
republic in which all power belonged to the people "without distinction 
of race^ class^ creed^ wealthy or sex." Its territory^ "composed of 
Bac-BOj or Northern Viet I^Iam (Tonkin)_, Trung-Bo or Central Viet Nam (Annam)^ 
and Kam-Bo or Southern Viet Karxi (Cochinchina) is one and indivisible... 
The capital of Viet Nam is Hanoi, hj Kovrever^ the Constitution of 19^V6 
was never institutionalized; instead^ the exigencies of the war with the 
Prench eventuated in a goverrjaient which was literally an adrninistrL-ative 
extension of the rigidly disciplined political apparatus headed by Eo Chi 
Minh and encadred by his colleagues from the Indochinese Coinmujnist Party. 
Pham Van Dong (presently Premier_, then Vice president) announced in 1950 
that promulgation of the 19^6 Constitution had been postponed "because 
several of its provisions require for their aj^plication the cessation of . 
the state of war_j " 5/ and in 1951^ after Ho had OTX^nly aligned v;ith the 
Sino-Soviet powers_, the Viet Minh radio explained that "a gang of traitors" 
had been evolved in its foimLilation^ and hence a "progressive character 
was lacking." In late 1956^ the DRV set up a constitutional reform com- 
mittee. 6/ In December,, I958; Ho invited the public to submit recomi'aenda- 
tions on a nev/ draft basic law^ and the second Constitution was promulgated 
in i960. 


b. Constitution of I960 


The i960 Preamble speaks of a thousand years of struggle 
for independence^ lauds Ho Chi Minh and the Lao Dong (Communist) Party^ 
cites harshly United States "imperialists" and "interventionists^ " and 
presents this interpretation of the aftermath of Geneva^ 195^-1960: 7/ 


..In the Souths the U.S. iraperialists and their hench- 
men have been savagely repressing the patriotic movement of 
our people. They have been strengthening military forces and 
carrying out their scheme of tirrning the southern part of our 
couxitry into a colony and military base for their war prepara- 
tions. They have resorted to all possible means to sabotage 
the Geneva Agreements and undermine the cause of Viet Nam's 
reunification. . , 


"....Under the clear-sighted leadershiij of the Viet Nam 
Lao-Dong Pai-ty^ the government of the Democratic Republic 
of Viet-r^iBm^ and President Ho Chi Minh^ our entire jjeople^ 
broadly urjitecl within the I^iational United Fronts will surely 
win glorious success in the building of socialismi in North 
Viet-Nam and the struggle for national reunification." 

Both the opening sentence of the Preamble and Article 1 of Chapter I of 
the Constitution itself^ stipulate that Viet Nam is an entity indivisible 
from China to in South Vietnam. Chapter II of the Const it ution^ 
which precedes the. section on human rights,, ariiiounces step by step that 
the DRV is advancing fi'om "people *s democracy to socialism. . .transforming 

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its baclward economy into a socialist economy with modern industiy and 
agriculture...," "Communism" (or a derivative term) is not mentioned as 
suchj but the document is otherwise explicit that the economy is to be 
state-centered; e.g. ; 

"Article 12. The state sector of the economyj which is 
a form of ownership by the whole people , plays the leading 
role in the national economy. The state ensures priority for 
its development . " 

"Article I7. The state strictly, . .prohibits the use of 
private property to disrupt the economic life of the society 
or to undermine the economic plan of the state...." 

Chapter III is a hyper-democratic guarantee of civil rights ^ and the 
remainder provides for an elected National Assembly and a centralized^ 
statist public administration, 8/ 

2. Political Parties 

a. Lao Dong Party 

Unrecognized by the I96O Constitution except in the Pre- 
amble's encomiums 5 the Lao Dong I^rty ( Pang Lao Dong Vietnam , or Vietnamese 
Workers' Party) is the dominant political power within the DRV. It is an 
expressly Marxist-Leninist Party which traces its lineage back to the Indo- 
chinese Communist Party founded by Ho Chi Minhj and although the ICP was 
abolished in 19^6^ claims to have been prime mover in the major nationalist' 
"front" movements through I95I5 when the DRV "legalized" the Party. For 
example 5 Vo Nguyen Giap explained that: 

"The Vietnamese people's war of liberation was victorious 
because we had a wide and firm National United Front. . .organized 
and led by the Party of the working class: the Indochinese 
Communist Party^ now the Vietnam Workers' fj^o Bong/ Party. 
In the light of the principles of Marxism-Leninism. . .the Party 
found a correct solution to the problems...." 9/ 

Party statutes adopted in I96O established a National 
Congress;, and a Central Committee elected by the Congress 3 as its policy- 
making bodies. The Congress is ponderous (6OO mem-bers^ meets every k jea^rs) ^ 
and the Central Committee in fact governs. More precisely, power is exercised 
by the Politburo, its steering group. The Central Committee serves as a 
forum for the discussion of policy, the dissemination of information, and 
the training of future leaders. Though major decisions appear as Central 
Committee resolutions, in actuality they originate with the Politburo. 
The Secretariat of the Central Committee is the principal executive agency 
of the party, directing subordinate Party organizations in foreign affairs 
propaganda, organization; inspection (or control) 5 the military establish- 
ment, the "reunification" movement, industry and agriculture. The Secre- 
tariat also appears to control personnel assignments and promotions in the 
Party's middle and upper echelons. 

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t I 

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Abour 50 Members (1960) 

Principol policy- 
making organizafion 

Principal policy- 
implementing body 





Propaganda and 

Rural AfFoirs 
Finonce end Trade 
Foreign Relations 
















(Chi Bo)* 










* Uniti in social and economic 
orgonizoHons which represent 
a minimum of 50 members 


~> Sfo'u'ory Elecfion 

Control and Direction 

Organization- of TfiE Lao Doxg Pauty 

Source: NIS ^3 C^ p. 28 


The Ibo Dong internal organisational principle is 
cratic centrslisn_y " hierarchal subordination of elected leaders of Party 
entities formed in all geographic^ economic_, bureaucratic^ social^ and 
cultural groups^ vnerever at least three Party members exist. Meirbership 
in the Party is deliberately confined to an elite_, and has never amoiuited 
to more then abou.t 3/c of the population. lO/ 

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(CIA Estimates) 


50, 000 




570^ 000 

As of 1963^ 80^^ of tile Party vere members of 10 years or niore^ less than 
lOfo were vomen^ and no more than 7^b were non-Vletnaniese. Although an 
elite^ the Party admitted in I96O that 857b of its members had no more 
than 4th c-s^e educations. Lack, of skill and drive^ as well as inade- 
q_uate strength^ handicapped the' Party in its attempts to encadre the 
DRV^s ambitious agricultural and industrial programs. From the I96O 
admissions^ it appears that of 110^000 managerial personnel in the DRV^ 
only 50;000 or so were Party members; about lOyb of the Party is then 
em:oloyed directly in management- Nonetheless^ the Party has from all 
appearances succeeded in lodging itself in pivotal positions in every 
part of the society, and certainly in the DI^V's ma5-n undertaking; 

b . Fatherland Front 

— — -■■ I I I I . 1 11 1 

One of the fundamental procedures of the Vietnamese Com- 
munists has been the foiTaing of a "united- front" in which Comjruunist 
Party members join cause with non-comjiiunists, especially natiozialist 
activists. The Party itself has pointed out that this is in proper 

Leninist fashion: 

"The policy of founding the Indochinese democratic front 
between I936 and 1939^ the Viet Minh front between 19^1 and 
1951^ and the Lien Viet front /l946-195l7i the decision of 
signing the 6 March 19^6. . .preliminary accord /Ho's accom- 
modation with Franc£/.., — all these are t;^-7jical examples 
■ of the clever application of the .. .instruction of Lenin." ll / 

In 1955 the DliV organized non-communist elements into " 
organizations^ " ^rithin the "Fatherland Front" (Mat Tran To Quoc). 12/ 



Lao Dong Party 

Democratic Party 

Socialist Party 

General Confederation of lebor 

National Liaison Coaiiuittee of 

l/omen's Union 
Youth Federation 

Writers and Artists Union 
Journalists Association 
Unified Buddhist Association 
National Liaison Committee of 

Patriotic & Peace Loving Catholics 
Industrialists and Traders Federation 
Peace Corimiittee 


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The Fatherland Front follows the format of the Lao Dong Party _, and 
Party members occupy the key positions \rlth±n the Front. The Front 
composition has not been changed since 1955j» ^^^"t after I96O it became 
more active in the "reunification" movement;, serving as the proponent^ 
or "externalizing agent" in the DRV for the National Front for the 
Liberation of South Vietnam. I3/ 

It should be noted that the Fatherland Front included Uro 
nominally non-coirimunist parties, and that it advocated beginning in I955 
an interestingly different scheme for bringing about reunification of 
Vietnam: two legislative assemblies for North and South, respectively, 
separate armed forces, and a confederate goverrjaent . But on all other 
issues the Front differed not at all from Ho, especially agreeing that: 
"i\merican imperialism is the chief eneniy." 1^/ No other deviant view 
is on record from either the Front or the two "independent" political 
parties. Moreover, while the DRV government has on rare occasions 
included Socialist or Democrats, none has ever occupied an important 
leadership position. 

3» Le^adership 

The most remarkable aspect of the DRV and the Lao Dong 
Party is stability of their leadership. Most of the top leaders of the 
Party ^rere old-ticae coumiunists. 

_ 1945 - 19*50 

■T945- 50 



















Politburo Members 
(1950 ranking) 


I i 

1 1 1 

1 1 1 

1. Ho Chi Minh 


2. Le Duan 

^i 1 1 

3. Truong Chlnh 

— I 

1 1 



4. Pham Van Dong 


5. Phom Hung 


6. Vo Nguyen Giop 

1 1 

7. Le Due Tho 

— ^m . ■ 1 „ — _ ■ ^ _ _ . ■ — * > ■ ■ '" '1 

8. Nguyen Chi Thanh 

1 . 

1 1 

9. Nguyen Duy Trinh 

■ [ ~ 

10. Le Thanh Ngh; 


11. Hoopg \'an Hoan 

Alternate Msribcrs 

Trcn QuocHoan 

Von Tien Dung 

Former Membeis 

Hoang Quoc Viet 

Ho Hoy Giop 

Ton Due Thong 


Nguyen Luong Bong 

Membership in the Lao Dong Politburo 1951-60 

Source: I\IS hZ C^ p.2o 

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Moreover^ this close knit Party elite controlled the leA^-ers of power 
in the DRV government. The follovring chart shows that as of I96O all 
kev North Vietnamese leaders — excejot one on vhose early life U.S. 
intelligence is not infonaed — are known to have been in the ICP in 
the '30^s (or even in predecessor organizations). 




(in ordsr of rank, 
September 1960] . 


Ho Chi Minh Chairmen, CC — 


Le Doan- 

■First Secretcry, 

Truong Chinh 



Phom Van Dong 

Phom Hung'ar- 

Vo Nguyen Giap 


le Due The 


Nguyen Chi- 
Thanh a" 

Nguyen Duy 
Trinh "K" 

Le Thanh Nghi 

. •¥: 


Hoong Von Hoan 

Tron Ouoc Hoon 

Von Tien Dung" 



Seer eta riot 


Director, Organ- 






Choirmon, NDC 


Notional Assembly 

Premier; Vice 

Choirmcn, NDC 

■Deputy Premier; 
Chairman, Finance 
ond Tra^Je Board, 
Premier's Office 

Deputy Premier;- 
Mlnister, Notional 

Chairman, NOC 

■Member, NDC 

-Deputy Premier; 
Choirmon, SPC; 
Chairman, S5C; 
Member, NOC 

Deputy Premier; 

Chairman, SCC; 

Choirmon, Indus- 
trio! Board, 
Premier's Office 

Vice Chairman, 

Notional Assembly 

Minister, Public 

Choirmon, Home 
Affairs Board, 
Premier's Office; 

Member, NDC 

Member, NDC 






in Chief 

Chief of Stoff 


CC — Ccn/rol Commiflee 
NDC — National Ocferm Council 
SPC — Stofe Planning Comminion 

SSC — S^cfe Sctenfific Commt'sjion 
see — S'ofe Consfrucfion 

^ - ICP pre-W II 
Interi.ock:in-g of top liiadfrsiiip position's IN' North 


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From time to time certain members of this elite sirffered an apparent 
eclipse^ but Ho Chi Minh ostensibly intervened on their behalf ^ mediated 
the dispute in which they were involved^ and restored them to the inner 
circle -- usually in a different position. ThuS;, Truong Chinh was "fired" 
as First Secretary of the Party in I956 after the Land Reform Campaign 
had been pressed too far and fast; but after a period of absence from 
the public scene^ re-emerged in I958 as Vice Premier^ and became in 
i960 Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly. Vo 
Nguyen Giap^ who delivered a sharp critique of Truong Chinh in October 
1956; disappeared for two months in October 1957^ while PIo Chi Minh was 
on a Bloc trip^ amid rumors of a realignment of DRV leadership. Ho's 
return brought Vo's resurrection. Other examples of this phenomenon 
attest both to the immutability of the core leaders^ and to the centrality 
of Ho to their position. I6/ 

A similar testimony to Ho's eminence lies in the murky 
evidence of factional dispute within the I^o Dong. In 19^1-6 Truong Chinh 
and Giap appeared to foreign observers as "extremists/' urging violence 
on Ho; in I956 Truong was the Maoist extremist^ Vo a Soviet-style moderate; 
in 1966; Vo was rated a moderate^ but Truong had become a neutral, and 
reportedly himself had come under fire of "extremist" Le Duan. l?/ In- 
creasingly, Ho has risen above the politics of personalities and intramural 
clashes^ and to the extent that he became involved, seems to have mediated 
and reconciled rather than disciplined. Demonstrably, his personal leader- 
ship qualities kept the DRV elite a cooperative, integrated team,, with 
individual ambitions and hardline-moderate factions delicately in balance. 

The larger circle of the Central Committee of the Lao Dong 
exhibited no different complexion from the inner leadership, except that 
while most of the Politburo members are considered generalists, the 33 
other Central Committee members include Party adrainistrators, State 
specialists, or military and internal security leaders. More than half of 
the Central Committee have been identified as ICP members before World 
War II. 18/ The DRV of I96O, was, then, a state dominated by a coterie 
or revolutionaries of a parbicularly hardened breed. Ho himself, in a 
i960 speech, paid this tribute to his colleagues: 

"I wish to remind you that thirty-one of the comrades 
who are now in the Central Committee were given altogether 
222 years of imprisonment and deportation by the French 
imperialists before the Revolution^ not to mention the sen- 
tences to death in absentia and the years of imprisonment 
evaded by those who escaped from prison. .. .Our comrades made 
up for the years in prison in discussing and studying political 
theory. Once more, this not only proves that the enemy's 
extremely savage policy of repression couJ-d not check progress,^ 
but on the contrary, it became a touchstone, it has further 
steeled the revolutionaries. And the result was that the 
Revolution has triimiphed, the imperialists have been defeated...." I9/ 

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B. The DRV^s Domestic Objectives 

Ho Chi Minh was always a revolutionaiy . Whether he was first 
and foremost a nationalist^ or a potential Tito^ or the last of 'the 
Stalinists--and arguments can be advanced for each theory--as head of 
state he subscribed to internal programs for the DRV which were com- 
munist in concept and Maoist in execution. In repeated statements on 
the goals of the regime^ he and the rest of the Lao Dong leadership 
made it plain that they were determined to revise radically North Vietnam* s 
land-holding system^ and reconstruct its traditional society along egali- 
tarian and collectivist lines. Further^ they were determined that North 
Vietnam would become agriculturally self-sufficient^ and industrialized 
to the degree its natural resources would permit. In fact^ the moderniza- ■ 
tion they envisaged for North Vietnam surpassed in degree and urgency any 
of the My- Diem undertakings in South Vietnam. Yet the latter aroused 
the peasant's apprehensions^ and eventually their hostility. What of 
Ho Chi Minh's internal security? From the record of DRV policy from 
1950 to I96O; it is clear that^ while "progress towards socialism" in 
both the agrarian and industrial realms was always one principal State/ 
Party objective^ a well-disciplined society thoroughly submissive to 
Party leadership was another_, and frequently overriding goal. 

1. Societal Discipline 

By no means can it be said that at any tjine prior to Geneva^ 
Ho and the I^o Dong Party held complete sway in rural North Vietnam. 
Aside from French supported counter -movement s_j the Viet Minh leaders had 
to contend with peasant reluctance to support them^ and even outright 
rejection of their policy. Almost as soon as the DRV "legalized" the 
Lao Dong Party in 195I, the Party launched a series of land reform schemes 
which contravened even the popularity Ho et al enjoyed as heroes of the 
Resistance. Moreover;, tensions developed early between the Viet Minh and 
the Catholics as a group— less apparently over political issues than over 
traditional Catholic fear of Tonkinese persecution in the absence of 
French protectors. The Catholics of Tonkin had developed a political 
and military independence like that of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao in Cochin- 
china;, and resisted the Viet Minh as vigorously as the latter resisted 
the Saigon regimes. In both land reform and relations with the Catholics, 
the Party and the DRV encountered stiff opposition. 

a. Rural Opposition^ 19^4-19^6 

Prior to I95J4 -, the Lao Dong Party experimented in Viet 
Minh liberated areas of Tonkin with a Maoist-style Land Reform Campaign. 20/ 
Other than the war, Land Reform was the foremost undertaking of the Lao 
Dong Party after 1951. In essence^ the Land Reform Campaign committed the 
party to an assault on the traditional rural social hierarchy, and to redis- 
tribution of land and wealth. Beginning with punitive taxes^ the Campaign 
matured terror, arrests^ and public condemnation, trials, and executions. 
Within the DRV hierarchy, the proponent of Land Reform was Truong Chinh 

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(born Dang Xuan Khu^ party name translating as "Long March") ^ Secretary 
General of the Lao Dong Party^ who openly espoused the Maoist version 
of coimiunism^j and who relied upon Chinese advisers. Truong Chinh saw 
land reform as a method of organizing the peasantry under the Lao Dong 
Party^ less important for its economic or social ramifications than for 
its political and military significance. Truong had warned in 19^7 that 

"If we neglect the organization of the people^ we cannot 
mobilize the entire people and the army^ and cannot enable them 
to take part in the resistance in every field. In 19 l8 Lenin 
wrote: 'To wage a real war_, we must have a strong and well 
organized rear....* These words constitute very precious 
counsel for us in this long-term resistance war." 21 / 

As victory of the Resistance neared^ Ho Chi Minh's 
emphasis on internal reforms^ as opposed to martial undertakings^ 
increased. In December 1953; for instance^ he stated that: 

"/The/ tv7o central tasks in the next years are to do our 
utmost to fight the enemy and to carry out land reform.... 
In 195^.? w-e must pay particular attention to three great works: 

"To combine land reform with strengthening of the 
armed forces. ... 

"To combine land reform with the training of cadres 
and the raising of their ideology.... 

"To combine land reform with the development of agri- 
cultural production, ..." 22/ 

Moreover_, Ho apparently countenanced harsh measures to carry out both 
"central tasks." He is reported to have stated his basic strategy to 
Party cadres in these tenus: 

"To straighten a curved piece of bamboo^ one must bend 
it in the opposite direction^ holding it in that position 
for awhile. Then^ when the hand is removed it will slov/ly 
straighten itself." 23/ 

When the Geneva Conference opened the way to Viet Minh 
dominion over North Vietnam^ and held out the prospect to Tonkinese 
peasants of migrating to South Vietnam_j hundreds of thousands were suffi- 
ciently apprehensive over religious persecution^, or over "land refoi-rri" 
and other commimizing campaigns to the North. There is considerable 
evidence that many of these fears were well-founded. On the heels of 
the withdrawing French Expeditionary Forces^ Truong Chinh 's teams of 
Chinese advisers toured from village to village to survey for land 
reforms^ and these were followed by an infusion of lao Dong Party cadres 
to village level. 2^/ People's Courts were activated and the Campaign 
became the vehicle not only for land redistribution^ but for Communist 
Party penetration into rural society_, and a wholesale transformation of 

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the penetrated community's traditional structure. 

U.S. intelligence was not at the time well infomed on 
the ensuring events^ but since various sources (chiefly Northern refugees) 
have filled in a fairly coherent picture. 25/ From the farmers* point 
of view^ the regime's Campaign involved three particularly onerous 
procedures. The first was an attack upon the position and prerogatives 
of the traditional village hierarchy^ accomplished by the cadre's selecting 
and training several of the poorest, least successful villagers for a 
Land Reform Committee and a Special People's Tribunal^ and soliciting, 
from the same sources, accusations against the more prosperous, socially 
elevated villagers. 26/ The second was the classifying of the entire 
populace into such lettered categories as "dishonest and ferocious land- , 
lords," "average normal landlords"; "rich peasants"; "strong middle level 
peasants"; or "very poor peasants." £[/ Thirdly, each village Tribunal 
-was then assigned a quota of one landlord death sentence. According to a 
former Viet Minh, the initial results were displeasing to the "our Chinese 
comrade advisers," who felt that more "exploiters" should have been found. 
Accordingly, on orders from the Lao Dong Central Committee, new classifica- 
tions were assigned which labeled five times the number of landlords. At 
the same time, the landlord execution quota was raised from one to five 
per village. 28 / 

The results of the Campaign were like the outcome of 
sijnilar procedures in China earlier in the decade: widespread bloodshed. 
Aside from persons executed on the direct order of the Tribunals them- 
selves, there were countless others who, evicted from their landholds^ 
and ostracised by the community, v^ere condeimied to die of starvation. 
Figures on casualties of the Campaign are inconclusive. George A. Carver 
states that the killed Mere "probably on the order of 100,000"; a French 
professor then in Hanoi estimates that altogether 100,000 were lost; 
refugees have testified that the countryside of North Vietnam was white 
with the clothing of mourning; Bernard Fall believed that 50^000 to 100,000 
were killed. 29/ That there were significant excesses is evident from 
the behavior of the DRV itself, which beginning in August 195^, moved 
publicly to restrain Party cadres, to curb the power of the local courts, 
and to dampen the ardor of the "poor" peasants. - • 

In August, 1956, Ho admitted that "errors had been com- 
mitted in realizing the unity of the peasants" and promised to redress 
wrongful classifications and maljudgments by land Reform Committees. 30/ 
At the 10th Plenum of the I^o Dong Party Central ComJiiittee on 29 October 
1956, Truong Chinh v^as replaced by Ho Chi Minh himself as Party Secretary, 
and the top levels of the Central Land Reform Committee and the Ministry 
of Agriculture were shaken up. 31/ Vo Nguyen Giap, as the Party's spokes- 
man, read a list of errors considered in these changes: 

"(a) V/hile carrying out their anti-feudal task, our cadres... 
have separated the land Reform and the Revolution. Worst of all, 
in some areas they have even made the two mutually exclusive. 

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« • a • 

1 ^ 

"(b) We have failed to realize the necessity of uniting 
with the middle-level peasants^ and we should have concluded 
some form of alliance with the rich peasants^, whom we treated 
in the same manner as the landlords • 

"(c) We attacked the landowning families indiscriminately 

"(d) We made too many dev3-ations and executed too many 
honest people. We attacked on too large a front and^ seeing 
enemies everywhere^ resorted to terror_j which "became far too 

"(e) Whilst carrying out our Land Reform program we failed 
to respect the principles of freedom of faith and worship in 
many areas. 

"(f) In regions inhabited by minority tribes we have attacked 
tribal chiefs too strongly^ thus injuring^ instead of respecting,, 
local customs and manners. 

"(g) When reorganizing the party^ we paid too much impor- 
tance to the notion of social class instead of adhering firmly 
to political qualifications alone. Instead of recognizing 
education to be the first essential^ we resorted exclusively 
to organizational measures such as disciplinary punishments^ 
expulsion from the party^ executions^ dissolution of party 
branches and cells. Worse stilly torture came to be regarded 
as a normal practice during party reorganization." 3^ / 

On 2 November^ the DRV announced that its first postwar 
elections would be held in 195?^ and formed a constitutional reform com- 
mittee as one of several measures aimed at greater freedom in the society. 

On 8 November^, Ho abolished the detested Special People's 
Tribunals,, and ordered the wholesale release of prisoners from the regime's 
detention centers. There followed then a systematic^ government -wide 
"Campaign for the Rectification of Errors." Notwithstanding these admissions^ 
or perhaps because of them^ violence broke out in Nghe An^ the province of 
Ho's birth. 

b. Peasant Rebellion of 195^ 

■ The year 195^ had been a bad one for communist regimes. 

Obedient to the dictates of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of 
the Soviet Union^ most communist governments^ including the DRV^ had 
launched programs of de-Stalinization and liberalization. In China these 
took the form of the "Hundred Flowers" movement^ and in the DRV; the 
"Rectification of Errors Campaign." Poland and East Germany^ as well as 
Hungary had experienced violence. Nonetheless^ it was with some surprise 
that the vmrld received Hanoi Radio's announcement of l6 November 195^^ 

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of. riots vhich: 

"Broke out when a gang of reactionaries^ taking advantage 
of the mistakes coinraitted during the political implementation . 
of land reform^ molested soldiers and cadres of the people's 
regime^ seized quantities of arms and blocked traffic. Many- 
dead and wounded are reported among the soldiers and cadre.,.. 
Drastic measures have been taken to maintain security. .. .Regional 
administrative comjnittees have intensified efforts to correct 
mistakes committed in the agrarian reform program^ and are now 
satisfying the legitimate aspirations of all compatriots^ including 
the Catholics " 33/ 

On IT November^ however^ Hanoi disclosed that "troops and cadres tried 

to reason with the people but were man-handled. This ended in a clash 
in which a few persons were killed and wounded^ including some array 
men, . ..Security services are now taking the necessary steps to maintain 
order and security and to protect the compatriots' lives and property...." 3ft/ 
On 21 November^ Nhan Dan ^ the government newspaper^ noted that: "Nghe An 
is the province in which party organizations existed as early as 1930. But 
it is in the same province that the most serious mistakes have been made.../' 
and went on to deplore the execution and beatings of party members. 35/ 

What happened indicates that the populace of North Vietnam 
must have been living at the time under severe tension. The People's Army 
of Vietnam (PAVN) had been deployed in strength into the rural areas to 
support the I^nd Reform Campaign^ and it v/as reportedly through PAVN chan- 
nels that the DRV first learned of impending revolt- Local garrisons had 
been reinforced as citizens grew more restive^ and units composed of 
regrouped southerners were sent into exceptionally tense areas. 

On November 9^ 1956^ several hundred aggrieved peasants 
assembled in a market place near Vinh--a predominantly Catholic aroa--to 
petition an ICC team to arrange for some of them to migrate to South Vietnam^ 
and for return of confiscated land to others. The following morning a 
special DRV propaganda team and a contingent of NVA troops arrived; and 
several arrests were attempted. A riot ensued^ which spread into insur- 
rection. On the night of I3 November PAVN troops stormed into the town, 
scattering the rebels and inflicting heavy casualties. Thousands of 
peasants then swarmed over their local government offices, destroying 
land records, ancl blocking roads. Some militia deserted and joined the 
rebels, and attacks on nearby DRV troops were attempted. Bernard Fall, 
in a 1957 article, described four colufims of some 10,000 peasants marching 
in the province capital, seizing arms from troops, and forcing party cadres 
to sign confessions of crimes, 36/ Two reinforced army divisions, some 
20,000 strong, were committed to put down the uprising. 37/ 

The casualties resulting from the revolt are not known. 
Fall states that "close to 6OOO farmers were deported or executed." 38/ 
Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon cited "massacres" in the North, claimed to have 

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evidence that the entire population of Nghe An .had remained ignorant of 
its right to move to the South in 195^-1955;» ^nd called upon the ICC to 
reinstate Article l^(d). 3^/ Vietnam Press ^ Diem's official press 
agency^ on 9 November 1956^" quoted Cong Khan^ a Saigon daily as follows: 

"In the Norths the fall of the illegitiiaate regime is 
near As soon as the people's hatred of the Communist dicta- 
torship is sufficiently mature for it to succeed in overthrowing 
it^ then general elections which are really free will take place 
in the whole of Vietnam^ and will peacefully bring about the 
reunification of the country. 

"If he refuses to have recourse to force in order to 
liberate the North, while yet realizing the dearest aspira- 
tions of the people,, the supreme head of the Republic of 
Vietnam does so solely in order to avoid bloodshed and 
undesirable fratricidal strife*" i]-0/ 

c. Reconcil i ation and Repression, 19^7"^-9^9 

From the DRV vie^/point the Nghe-An uprising, whatever 
its dimensions, coincided fortuitously with the Suez and Hungarian crises 
The CVN sijnply could not muster sufficient evidence to compete for head- 
lines, and U.S. attention was on Europe. In any event. Ho and his regime 
undertook a series of conciliatory gestures v^hich sapped popular resent- 
ment, and occluded the situation abroad. Conciliatory gestures were 
quickly extended to Catholics. Radio Hanoi, which in July 1955^^ had 
broadcast a lao Dong proclaEiation rejecting the existence of deities 
consistent with the "scientific principles of the doctrine of Marx and 
Lenin," on 22 Noveraber I956 announced that: 

" the agrarian reform, we have committed errors, 
including errors in the observance of freedom of religion. 
The people in general, and the Catholic citizens in particular, 
want these errors corrected. These are legitimate demands." kl / 

At the same time the government allocated about ^8 million dong (about 
$15,000) for repair of Catholic churches and a seminary. k2/ On I5-I6 
December I956, the DRV convened the National Committee of the Catholic 
Union, which issued a declaration criticizing the government for having 
violated the laws on religious freedom, pointing out that: 

"...the errors committed during the agrarian reform have 
violated the policy of religious liberty of the Lao Dong Party 
and of the Government and have infringed on the religious 
rights of the faithful " ^3/ 

Ho Chi Minh personally received a delegation from the Committee of the 
Catholic Union to expi^ess his regret over the "errors" that had been com- 
mitted, and _Nhan Dan , the Lao Dong paper, published a series of articles 
on the same subject. 

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The Lao Dong Party itself was purged with particular 
attention to the demonstrably unreliable rural membership acquired 
during the latter stages of Land Reform, and Nhan Dan through the 
spring of 1957 reported on continuing difficulty in restoring the 
Party's rapport in the countryside. At the same time, the press 
carried a number of graphic accounts. of life in DRV prison camps, hhj 

In early 195T, in emulation of Mao, the DRV sponsored 
a "hundred flowers" campaign, and as in China, the regime was surprised 

Ij by the sharpness of intellectual criticism which it evoked. 45/ The 

Hundred Flowers movement lasted in full bloom only about three months, 
but the literary license stimulated an unusual outflow of verse and fable, 
in which land Reform, PAVN, foreign advisers, and the Party cadre were 
all criticized. Eventually the barbs became unbearable for the I^o Dong,, 
and the flow of newsprint to opposition papers was cut, printers went 

I I on stril^e, and a particularly cutting journal, Nhan-Van ("Hmanism, a 

pun on I^an-Dan), was forbidden to publish. Arrests and trials followed 
and by mid-1957 the voice of the intellectuals had all but been stilled. 
Nevertheless, as late as I96O, official releases were still deprecating ^^ 
literature which did not meet regime criteria for "proletarian writings. 

' ' By mid 1957, the DRV had reversed its policy on Catholics- 

six months after the "Rectification" rapprochement of December I956. The 
denunciation of priests was resumed, and the Church was accused of political 
activities. In 1959, a more intense carapaign of harassment was undertaken, 
including newspaper barrages depicting the Catholic clergy as the greatest 
obstacle to collectives in farm regions . Church activity was severely 
restricted; all non-Vietnamese priests and nuns were expelled; and the 
movement of the native clergy was rigidly circumscribed. Catholic schools 
closed rather than accept DRV political instructors. Western observers 
in Hanoi in I962 noted that congregations in Planoi were composed invariably 
of the aged. Pall reported that as of that year there were but 5 bishops 
and 320 priests remaining in the DRV. ^6 / 

The DRV, like the QYl'l, also resorted to population ^reloca- 
tions: the forced migration of Vietnamese from overcrov/ded, potentially 
dissident coastal regions into areas inhabited by minority peoples. The 
tribal people of North Vietnam comprised about 15'/- of the population thinly 
settled over about 4ofo of the country. V[/ These folk had always resisted 
govermiient from outside their tribal society. The French made only a 
pretense of governing them. Racially differentiated from the Vietnamese, 
the highlander-lov^lander relationship historically proceeded from hostility 
on the one hand and contempt on the other. Even Truong Chinh was unwilling 
to press strongly his Land Reforra Campaign against the patriarchal tribal ^ 
system, but to the extent that he did, violence ensued. In Vo Nguyen Giap s 
catalog of mistakes recited on 29 October 195^ ( supra ), these difficulties 
were admitted, and concessions to the minorities were part of the Rectifi- 
cation of Errors. The Constitution of I96O guaranteed the preservation of 
minority languages and cultures, and autonomy for local government. More 
than 70/0 of public administration in the northeast border region was placed 


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I I in the hands of non-Vietnamese^ and the proportion was almost 50^ on 

the I^otian frontier. Minority leaders were given seats in the National 
Assembly and on the Lao Dong Party Central Coimnittee^ and in both the 
Party and government bureaucracies numerous special minority boards and 
commissions were formed. Nonetheless^ the first DRV Five-Year Plan (1960) 
included an expanded agricultural resettlement program in which 1^000^000 
Vietnamese farmers were to move from the delta into the tribal regions to 
open new farmlands. In fact^ the new farms were seldom self-sufficient^ 
much less a contribution to the national food supply. But they aided 
internal security: their presence debilitated the traditional tribal 
society; and provided a quasi-military presence on the borders. In 1959^ 
security forces in the border regions were further strengthened with Armed 
Public Security Forces to counter alleged airdrops of "ranger spies" from 
South Vietnam. 

In most respects^ the DRV had gone further in its self- 
accusation than had the de-Stalinization campaigns in other communist 
countries. Its recovery was equally exaggerated. Hoang Van Chi^ a forraer 
Viet Minh cadre^ believes that the Land Reform's advance into mass terror^ 
followed by "Rectification" and reconciliation^ had been carefully cal- 
culated by Ho as a "bamboo bending" in -deliberate emulation of the Chinese^ 
and that Ho^ no less than Mao_, was fully aware that bloodshed would eventu- 
ate. 48/ Aiming ultimately at nothing less than a rapid and total trans- 
formation of traditional society^ both leaders resorted to terror^ followed 
by calculated relaxation and retightening of government control_, as necessary 
steps to a disciplined populace. If such was in fact Ho's views^ events 
bore him out^ for by I959 the DRV was able to resume a forced advance 
toward collectivization of agriculture^ which; though afflicted with 
occasional administrative setbacks and by production decreases^ did not 
again prompt revolt. h^J 

Other internal security messures taken by the DRV included 
strict controls over persozial mobility^ the allocation of large manpower 
resources to internal security fumctions^ and the employment of the Lao 
Dong Party as a control mechanism and security censor. The regime eventu- 
ally acquired; through its duplicate Party and governmental bureaucracies^ 
contacts with and control over virtually every citizen. The formal internal 
security apparatus was effectively supplemented by population control 
documentation (identification cards^ licenses^ travel permits); by incessant 
propaganda; by networks of informer S; and by surveillance in compulsory 
mass organizations. By 1959; following 5 years of oppression; relaxation; 
and repression; the people of the DRV were effectively disciplined. 

2. Progress Tov^ards Socialism 

The assertion of the DRV Constitution of I96O that the nation 
was "transforming its backward economy into a socialist economy with 
modern industry and agriculture..." had substance; but entailed a sub- 
stantial input from abroad. Though a primarily agricultural society; 

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North Vietnam emerged from its war with France in 195^ a food-deficit 
area. Densely populated^ war-torn^ it found itself more than custonarily 
dependent upon outside supplies of rice and supplemental foods^ which it 
had usually imported from South Vietnam, Soviet stop-gap aid filled the 
food deficit until DRV production was improved. The negative attitude of 
the GVN toward any economic relations with the DRV beyond those necessitated 
by the Geneva regroupment^ in which Diem became progressively more adamant^ 
created one pressure upon the DRV to seek dependable sources of further aid 
abroad. A second stemmed from lack of human and material capital to take 
advantage of its natural resources; the North contained all the developed 
mineral lodes and most of the established manufacturing in the two Vietnams^ 
as well as the bulk of electric power capacity in Indochina. 50/ The DRV 
needed substantial foreign aid either to press tov^ard modernizing its basic 
industry or to collectivize its farms. 

a. Agriculture 

Foreign aid to the DRV in agriculture^ aside from relief 
shipments of food^ took the form chiefly of technical assistance^ both in 
management and teclinigue. 51/ Chinese experts in Maoist land reforms 
figured prominently in the concept and direction of the collectivization 
drives. Russian advisors are believed to have advocated DRV concentration 
on mineral and tropical products valuable in comjnijnist international trade^ 
and to have furnished methodological assistance in irrigation^ fertilizing; 
and the like^ but to little avail; labor intensive^ hand tool farming in 
the traditional fashion persisted. Progress towards collectivization was 
perceptible. After retrenching in I957 following the peasant flare-up^ the 
regime moved ahead; although more cautiously. At the beginning of 1958; 
less than 5^ of the farm pop\£Lation v^as in producer cooperatives; enrollments 
increased thereafter; and sharply in I96O; from about 55^ of peasant house- 
holds in July to about 85^ in December. About one third of the collectives 
were in advanced stages of communal land ownership and shared production; 
the remainder represented inchoate socialization; with market incentive 
still a mainstay. Performance in agriculture was generally poor; output 
never rising above subsistence levels^ and slow and erratic grovrth depressing 
progress in other sectors of the economy. 

There waS; however; perceptible progress; 

Food Grain Per Capita 52/ 
(in Kilograms) 

1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 19 60 1961 1962 
260 310 283 315 ■ 358 30^ 337 339 

The DRV gross national product; owing to improvements in both the industrial 
and agricultural sectors; grew steadily some (fp per year after I958. The 
most promising years for the DRV were I958 and 1959^ when performance in 
both sectors was extraordinarily good; thereafter; consecutive years of 
poor harvests and rapid population increases cut into gains. 

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b. Industry 

In industry _, as compared with agriculture,, foreign aid was 
more relevant^ and visibly more effective. The DRV claimed in 19^3 that 
new capacity had raised the total value of factory and handicraft industrial 
output two and two-thirds times above the 19 5^ level; an average annual 
increase of some 20^. Socialization was pronounced; by 19^3 state-owned 
enterprises accounted for 60^ of production^ and partially state-owned about 
65^. The North Vietnamese themselves possessed at the outset little capacity 
to carry out a balanced program of industrial development; in fact^ handi- 
capped as the DRV was by annual fluctuations in their agriculturally based 
economy and shortages of native technicians^ its capability to absorb for- 
eign aid was distinctly Ijjnited. Initially^ to restore existing industrial 
plants to iiriprove communications^ and to import consumer goods. Thereafter 
aid was extended in the form of credits for specified projects. The first 
DRV long range development plan^ a three year program in 1958^ proved too 
ambitious; targets were revised down annually^ and at the end of the plan 
agricultural growth had averaged a little over h^y compared with 21^ for 
industry. A Five Year Plan for I96O-I965 was designed for more "rational 
development" of heavy industry^ but precisely how this was to be achieved^ 
and the pace of improvement^ apparently remained subjects of contention up 
until the exigencies of the war overtook the plan. 

U.S. intelligence is not informed as to how precisely 
foreign aid was related to either DRV economic plans^ but in terms of 
government budget revenues ^ the DRV reported that foreign aid and loans 
comprised 39 -^/o of its I955 income, but dropped to only 15-7/o of its 
i960 income. By contrast, and as a measure of return on both foreign aid 
and its own investment, profits from state enterprises contributed only 
6.5/0 to 1955 income, compared with 58.05^ in I96O. Total aid for I955 to 
1963 v/as as follows: 


(In Millions of U.S. Dollars) 53/ 


Donor i^l) 




Communist China 





368.9 (2) 





■ 7.5 


97.0 (3) 




East Germany- 


15.0 . 











584.1 (3; 

1 956.4 







(1) Albania and North Korea also aided, insignificantly. 

(2) Does not include I962 agreement for agricultural development 
assistance, value unknown. 

(3) Includes $l6.2 million extended in 1955 ^s a consortium. 

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U.S. intelligence estimated that through I963 DRV used about $33^ million 
of aid extended by China^ $324 million from the USSR^ and about $106 from 
East Europe. 

The Chinese CoFimunists played a leading role in assistance 
for transport at ionj communication^ and the irrigation system. Between 195T 
and 1964 they built lU rice mills^ 28 sugar refineries^ plus a number 
of consumer goods factories. A 1959 ^^an financed expansion in metallurgy^ 
chemicals^ and electric power. Chinese trainers^ advisers^ and technicians 
averaged I5OO to 3OOO per annum. Soviet aid was at first centered on heavy 
industry. Technicians — about I50 to 300 persons yearly -- were concen- 
trated in heavy manufacturing^ mining and electric power. After 1960^ 
Soviet assistance was also provided for telecommunications and agriculture. 

The dry's foreign trade tripled from 1955 to I963, and 
although exports increased from 8/0 of total trade in 1955;. to 37/0 in 1963^ 
a deficit remained which had to be financed from aid — from grants in 
1955-1957^ and from credit thereafter. 

The pattern of trade was also Bloc oriented, as follows: 
( 1962 Data in Percentages ) 5^^/ 

]mports Exports 

* Communist China, N.K., Cuba-- 38-6 23-2 

Eastern E\irope I6.7 23*5 

USSR 36.6 33.8 

Japan 2.3 11.1 

Other Non-Cornraunist * 5'8 8-^ 

Total . 100.0 100.0 

Together China and USSR accounted for two-thirds of all trade. Total 
exports were 6ofo from agriculture, forestry, fishing and handicrafts, 
30^ from minerals; 505$ of imports were machines and allied equipment. Less 
than 15^0 of all trade was with non-eommunist nations, consisting mainly of 
manufactured goods and chemicals for DRV coal. 

Again, I959 and I96O vrere banner years. Compared with 
1955, total trade more than doubled by 1959, and nearly tripled by 196O: 

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Value of DRV Foreign Trade 
(Millions of U.S. Dollars) 55/ 
Total Trade Imports Exports 

1955 80 A • 73.6 6.8 

1956 99-0 ■ 78.6 20.4 

1957 1^0.5 99-5 ^1-0 

1958 114.5 63.3 51-2 

1959 171-8 104.5 ■ 67.3 

i960 207.8 127.9 T9.9 

1961 224.2 143.7 80.5 

1962 238.8 149.4 89.4 

^- Derived from DRV data. Total imports are believed to include 
all goods imported into the country except grant military 
assistance materiel. 

Ho was explicit in spurning Western assistance for DRV 
development. In September^ I955, he extolled aid from the "other democ- 
racies" and pointed out that: 

"This selfless and unconditional aid^ beneficial to the 
people; is completely different from the 'aid' conceived by 
the imperialists. Through their 'aid' the imperialists always 
aim at exploiting and enslaving the peoples. The Marshall 
Plan; which has gradually encroached upon the sovereignty of 
the recipient countries^ is eloquent proof of this. 56/ 

C. Foreign Policy Objectives 

In the afterraath of the Geneva Settlement of 1954, the Democratic 
Republic of Vietnam pursued beyond its borders national objectives which 
inevitably drew the DRV into a broader^ more direct role in the southern 
insurgency; and; therefore; into conflict with the United States. The 
following examination of DRV national interests -- perforce speculative — 
probes maximmi and minimum objectives to delimit the range of DRV choice; 
and to determine the approximate apparent timing of those major foreign 
policy decisions which took it southv;ard. 

1. Independence 

From the outset; DocJLap; Independence; had been the battle- 
cry of Vietnamese of the Resistance; much as "liberty" rings for Americans. 
For Ho Chi Minh it was sine qua non : in 1946; he told a U.S. writer that 
"What follovrs will folloW; independence must come first." 57/ Independence 
of Vietnam from foreign domination -- from colonialism in its political 
formS; its economic exploitation; its militar;y occupation; its social sub- 
servience and racism -- has been the primary goal of the redoubtable 

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revolutionary's entire mature life. 58/ His main obstacles^ as he saw 
them^ were first France^ then a Franco-Merican comhine^ and finally the 
U.S-. alone; toward the expulsion of U.S. power and influence from Vietnam 
Ho^ after 195^^ directed most of the international power of the DRV. 59/ 
Nonetheless^ while Ho's testimony is extensive on his deep antipathy to 
U.S. imperialism as the major danger to the DRV, his behavior in the 
Chinese-Russian rivalry indicated that he perceived yet another serious 
threat to Vietnamese independence in his northern neighbor: China, 
ancient overlord of the Viet peoples. ^/ Accordingly, the foreign policy 
of the DRV, though pivoted upon anti-Americanism, has guarded against 
encroachment by the Coromunist Chinese. 

As an upper limit on reasonable expectations after 195^^ the 
DRV might have hoped, in the context of a worsening political climate 
within South Vietnam, or of some form of plebescite per the Geneva Settle- 
ment, that foreign military forces would be withdrawn from the South and 
foreign influence attenuated. A Franco-American withdrawal could have 
acceptably taken place under a neutralization formula, provided that the 
formula permitted pursuit of other DRV policies, such as reunification, and 

Minimally, the DRV might have been willing to accept a con- 
tinued foreign presence in the south, especially a French presence, with 
assurance of eventual withdrawal, and compensatory concessions to the 
DRV on the issue of reunification. 

In the literal sense, the DRV won its independence at the 
Geneva Conference of 195^, as attested by Pravda upon the close of the 
Conference, July 22, 195^: "the freedom- loving peoples of Indo- China. . .have 
won their national independence." In January, 1957:» the Soviet UN delegate 
requested entry of the DRV into the UN as a separate, distinct state, as 
it then existed in North Vietnam. 61/ But Ho Chi Minh, also on 22 July 
1954, issued an appeal stressing the temporary nature of the partition, 
and the impermanence of the French military presence in the South. More- 
over, he said: "North, Central and South Vietnam are territories of ours. 
Our country will certainly be unified, o\ir entire people will siorely be 
liberated." 62/ By 1957 the bar to independence and unification, the 
baleful foreign presence in Vietnam was plainly, in Ho's view, the US: 

. "The Vietnamese people have perseveringly carried on the 
struggle for the implementation of the Geneva Agreement to 
reiznify the country, because South Viet-Nam is still ruled by 
the US imperialists and their henchmen. In completely liberated 
North Viet-Nam, power is in the hands of the people; this is a 
firm basis for the peaceful reunification of Viet-Nam, a task 
which receives ever-growing and generous help from the Soviet 
Union, China, and other brother countries. Thanks to this 
assistance, the consolidation of the North has scored good -. 

results." 63/ 

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2, Eennification 

The goal of independence^ because of Merican "imperialist" 
support of the Diem government^ thus became closely allied vith^ if 
not inseparable from^ that of reunification. But the DRV- Lao Dong leaders^ 
though widely acknowledged by all Vietnamese as heroes in the struggle for 
independence^ did not win similar acceptance as political spokesmen for 
Cochinchina or Annam. Indeed, in all the modern history of Vietnam there 
has been little real unity. Vietnam's record is, rather, one of violence 
and political division. The conquest of Vietnam's current territory by 
the Dai- Viet people of the Red River Delta (modern Tonkin) from the Chams . 
(of modern Annam) and Khmers (of modern Cochinchina) took place throughout 
this milleniimi; the Mekong Delta did not come under Viet suzerainty until 
ca 1780. In the meantime, civil war had fractioned the Dai-Viet; for I50 
years (ca. 16^0-1790 ) two high walls divided North from South Vietnam at 
approximately the 17th parallel. A unified Vietnam came into being in 
1802 under the linperor Gia Long, but scarcely half a century elapsed before 
the French conquests began. Under the French, Cochinchina, Annam, and 
Tonkin were politically separate. Q^l 

Present-day South Vietnam--by Viet Minh terms.. Zone V (Annam) 
and VI (Cochinchina or Nam Bo) — has always been of secondary importance 
to the DRV. Ho Chi Minh's government can claim to have ruled Saigon, for 
example, for only twenty days in Septeinber, 19^-5^ and neither the DRV 
government nor the Lao Dong Party ever commanded the strength in South 
Vietnam that they did in Tonkin.. During the War of Resistance, 19^5-1954, 
Zone V was less a theater of operations than a source of supplies and 
recruits for the Viet Minh in Tonkin, and in both Zone V and Nam Bo the 
Viet Minh practiced economy of force: only some 20^^ of organized Viet 
Minh military units v/ere in either at end 1953, even though the areas 
supported nearly half of all Vietnam's population. Douglas Pike's study 
of the Viet Cong led him to conclude that: 

"The Cochin-Chinese regarded the resistance as Northern- 
oriented: the center of fighting was in the North, the Vietminh 
was strongest in the North, most of its leaders were Northerners, 
and the French were most vulnerable in the Red River delta. The 
South had less tradition of revolution, and inevitably a variety 
of North-South policy conflicts arose. The communication channel 
between Hanoi and Saigon was uxtdependable, and liaison within the 
South was difficult. The Northern leadership exhibited little 
knowledge about southerners and even less patience with Southern 
lethargy. ..." 65/ 

Even Ho Chi Minh was fairly explicit in assigning to South Vietnam a lesser 
role in the revolution. Foi- example, in his December, 1953;. address to the 
National Assembly on land Refoim, he was careful to point out that Zones V 
and VI were not yet ripe for "progress toward socialism": "^ 

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I < 


"Land reform is a policy applied throughout the country _, 
but it must be carried out step by step; first in localities 
where sufficient conditions have been obtained and then in 
other localities .... 

"The Government will deal with the regions inhabited by 
the national minorities^ the Fifth Zone, South Viet-Nam, and 
the guerrilla bases later on. In guerrilla- -and enemy--occupied 
areas,, land reform will be carried out after their liberation." 66/ 

Nonetheless, though South Vietnam had been relegated to a low operational 
priority, its eventual unification with the DRV became an article of 
faith which the Lao Dong leaders repeatedly and solemnly affirmed; for 
example, Ho Chi Minh: 

"'Our compatriots in the Southern area are citizens of 
Vietnam. Rivers can dry up and mountains wear av/ay, but 
this truth stands.' /letter to Southerners, May 3^ 19^6-7 
'Each day the Fatherland remains disunited, each day you Jof 
the South/ suffer, food is without taste, sleep brings no 
rest. I solemnly promise you, through your determination, the 

^ . determination of all our people, the Southern land will return to 

the bosom of the Fatherland.' /October 23, 19h6jJ 'National 
reunification is our road to life. Great unity is the power that 
will surely triumph. Thanks to this great unity, the Revolution 
was successful and the Resistance victorious. Now, with great 
unity, our political struggle will certainly be victorious, our 
country will certainly be reunified.' /^uly 5, 1956^7 'South 

Vietnam is our flesh and blood Vietnam is one country. South 

and North are of the same family, and no reactionary force can 

' partition it. Vietnam must be reunited.' /September 2, 1957 J^ 

'Every hour, every minute, the people of the North think of 
their compatriots in the South. The South Vietnamese people 
relentlessly have fought for nearly twenty years, first the 
French colonialists, then the Araerican-Diemists. They are 
indeed the heroic sons and daughters of the heroic Vietnamese 
nation. South Vietnam truly deserves the same: Brass Citadel of 
the Fatherland.' ^ay 9, I963.7" 

After the Geneva Conference of 195^, the most Ho and the 
DRV leaders night have expected was that France and the U.S. would permit 
a plebescite to occur, or withdraw under some one of the formulae juen- 
"tioi'^e^ above, with reunification to follow. However, for reasons which 
I shall be set forth below, the actual course of events forced them to 

adopt what they probably regarded as a minimally acceptable policy, as 
follows: 68/ 

■- Consolidate power in North Vietnam, and expect the South 
to collapse from internal dissension. 


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— Expect general elections^ but in prudence^ anticipate their 
not being held^ and prepare to take the South by force if 

— Move north the bulk of the Viet Minh forces in the South^ 
and upgrade as a reserve. 

— Foster strong ties among the regroupees with families in the 
South . 

— Establish an effective political infrastructure in the South,, 
and work to weaken the government as well as the position of 
foreign powers there. 

In 1955 J Ngo Dinh Diem^ with patent U.S. backing^ refused 
to open consultations with the DRV preliminary to the expected plebescite 
There follov^ed in rapid succession Diem's own plebescite^ the casting off 
of Bao Daij and the withdravml of the French. When July^ 195^^ passed_, 
hope that the Geneva Settlement might lead toward reunification waned in 
the North- It was thereafter increasingly clear that peaceable reunifica- 
tion was not in prospect for the foreseeable future. Ho Chi Minh^ in a 
1956 letter to the 90^000 to 130^000 regroupees who had gone North in the 
expectation of returning that year^ explained the seeming inaction of the 
DRV on their behalf as follows: 

"Our policy is: to consolidate the North and to keep in 
mind the South. 

"To build a good house^ we must build a strong foundation. 
To have a vigorous plant with green leaves_j beautiful flowers^ 
and good fruity we must take care of it and feed the root. 

"The North is the foundation^ the root of the struggle for 
complete national liberation and the reunification of the country. 
That is why everything we are doing in the North is aimed at 
strengthening both the North and the South. Therefore, to work 
here is the same as struggling in the South: it is to struggle 
for the South and for the whole of Viet-Nam. 

"struggle is always accompanied by difficulties. But your 
difficulties are our common difficulties. After fifteen years 
of devastating war, the nev^ly liberated North is suffering 
many privations .... 

"...our political struggle will... be a long and hard strug- 
gle, then the tendency to become impatient, pessimistic, and 
to succumb to other cares will disappear. 

"The political struggle will certainly be victorious, 
national reunification will certainly be achieved." 69/ 


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After the internal turmoil of 1956-195Tj^ the DRV's domestic 
, decks were cleared for more direct action abroad. Internal dissension 

' died down as the regime effectively suppressed or mollified the .farmers 

; and the Catholics^ the epicenters of discontent. Also^ privations 

I afflicting the society stemming from the war and the regroupment were 

\ somewhat alleviated. 


3* Support from Abroad 

The DRVj within its own resources^ probably could not 
have achieved or maintained its independence^ and it certainly could not 
look for reunification vrithout foreign support. During the period 1950- 
195^; the Viet Minh had accepted significant amounts of foreign aid_, 
especially Chinese aid^ 70/ and the Geneva Agreem.ents were in large 
measure the product of the diplomacy of the Soviet Union and the Chinese 
People's Republic^ rather than their Vietnamese allies. Jl/ The DRV^ 
as it emerged from Geneva in 195^^ consisted of a society torn by the 
war and undergoing the tra\:ima of a 900^000 person exodus _, a food deficit^ 
a modest and war-damaged industrial plant^ and a drastic shortage of 
technicians and public administrators. Internal and external defense 
were almost iiomediately a principal policy aim — certainly through the 
1956 peasant rebellions^ and their consequences. V/hatever extraterri- 
torial ambitions the DRV may have had_, these were necessarily subordinate 
to survival as a state. In the view of the I^o Dong leaders^ apparently 
even the realization of even that minimal goal hinged upon the DRV's 
receiving substantial m^ilitary assistance from abroad. 22^/ Additional 
foreign aid dependency stemjning from the broad domestic reform programs 
which the DRV undertook -- discussed above -- further mpelled Ho Chi 
Minh and his government to turn to the Chinese and the Russians. The 
DRV's dependence upon its comraunlst allies increased markedly over the decade 
f ollovring Geneva . 

^' Foreign Military Assistance 

The DRV had sound reason to maintain a large military 
establishment in the aftenuath of Geneva. The presence of the French 
forces in South Vietnam through 1956^ and the US-aided GVIJ military forces 
thereafter^ taken together with the GVJ^f's claims to DRV territory and 
people^ GVN diplomatic hostility^ and GVN belligerent propaganda,, probably 
Justified a large army for national defense. 73 / Moreover^ internal 
security placed heavy demands upon DRV forces^ at first to deal with the 
exigencies of establishing DRV control^ pushing the I^nd Reform Campaign^ 
and coping with the refugee problem. Large forces were also needed in 
1956 to suppresL uprisings^ particularly in the predominantly Catholic 
rural areas, ^h/ Beyond simply security^ however^ in orthodox communist 
fashion^ the DRV regarded the armed forces as a prjjnary instruraent for 
indoctrination of the masses and for support of other Lao Dong Party 
programs; they also served as a reserve labor force to meet agricultural 
crises. 75/ And-the foreign policy of the DRV required a military instru- 
ment of extensive capabilities in insurgency operations — subversion_, 
inf i3.tration^ and guerrilla v/arfare. 

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Manpower for such an establishment was available_, 
although in poor crop years^^ diversion was necessary. But equipment 
was in short supply^ and extensive training was in order. Most mili- 
tary equipment and supplies had to be imported,, as DRV industry was 
incapable of more than small st^ale production of rudimentary small artnSj 
small arms ammunition^ and simple impedimenta,, such as uniforms. 76/ 
Accordingly^ virtually from the moment of its independence^ the DRV 
sought and obtained military materiel from abroad^ risking being caught 
at contravention of Article I7 of the Geneva Agreement to build a large^ 
modernized land army of 10-1^ divisions. 77/ 

b. Solidarity with the USSR and CPR 

But military assistance and economic aid were conditioned 
on the _quid pro quo of DRV identification with and support for the "Com- 
munist Bloc."" The price of Bloc support had been high; it included sacri- 
ficing French cooperation after Geneva. 78/ In subordinating its interests 
to those of the USSR and CPR at Geneva^ the DRV iiripaired its own negotiating 
strength. Thereafter,, similar subordination obstructed its attempts to 
achieve reunification. It was with France that the DRV had contracted to 
hold elections on reunification^ and it tried after 195^ to pursue a policy 
calculated to encourage France's honoring its Geneva conmiitments. More- 
over^ the DRV, short of human and material capital, wished to maintain 

access to French economic resources 
January, 1955, that the DRV: 

Phara Van Dong assured the French in 

-...sincerely desires to establish economic relations 
with France for reasons which are both political and economic... 
That does not prevent us from establishing relations with friendly 
countries like China, but we are used to working with the French 
and can continue to do so on a basis of equality and reciprocity." 


But Paris was faced, as Phani put it, with a choice between Washington and 
Hanoi, though he assured the French that "the unity of Viet Nam will be 
achieved in any case, with France or against France." The French opted for 
withdrawal in 195^: the price of protracted intimacy with a solidly Bloc 
nation proved too high for France, both in its internal politics and in 
the Western alliance. 80/ 

For the DRV, solidarity with the Bloc entailed costs 
beyond French cooperation, for by the test of deeds, neither the Soviets 
nor the Chinese firmly supported its quest for reunification. It was the 
DRV's fate that the historically invincible monolith with which it cast 
its fortunes in I95O was, by I957, definitely disintegrating. Soviet 
policy vis a vis Vietnam had always been subordinated to its European 
interests. This was evident as early as 19^5, when the success of Ho 
and the ICP were accorded less importance than success of the French 


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Cormnimist Party^ and in 195^ it appeared that France^ by rejecting the 
European Defense Community bought Soviet cooperation in settling the 
Indochina War--at the DRV's expense. 8l/ Post Geneva^ Soviet support 
of the DRV came into tension with its"s*trivings toward detente with 
the U.S. Generally^ the Soviets seemed willing to accept the Cold War 
line SEATO drew at the IJth parallel^ and were quite cool to DRV "reunifi- 
cation" talko But the most disruptive factor in Moscow-Hanoi relations 
after Geneva was not Washington,, but Peking. The CPR^ like the USSR^ 
seems to have regarded the DRV as a pawn in a world-wide test of power. 
The Chinese would probably have been disinterested in having on its 
southern border a unified^ strong Vietnam^ even though it were communist. 
They seem to have always regarded support of the DRV as a way to ernbarass 
the Soviets^ to attack the U.S. position in Southeast Asia^ and to frus- 
trate the US-USSR detente. Nonetheless^ the Chinese had earned high 
regard in the DRV because they were willing^ as the Soviets were not^ 
to succor Ho with military aid in his hour of need. Moreover^ Mao's form 
of revolution seemed far more relevant to the Lao Dong leaders than the 
Russian version. Propinquity thus reinforced the attraction of China both 
as a source of aid and as a socialist models and offset much traditional 
Viet-Chinese antipathy. However^ like the Soviets^^ the Chinese m^aneuvered 
in Vietnam for broader goals than DRV success. In" 1954 and 1955:^ possibly 
seeking to encourage an American withdrawal from the Taiv/an Straits^ the 
CPR adopted a soft line which blurred their stance on Vietnam just as 
the Geneva elections came into view. 82/ In 1956^ Khruschev's depiction 
of Stalin's monstrous leadership at the 20th Congress of the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union called into doubt the validity of Soviet pre- 
eminence within the Bloc. Mao's bids for Stalin's former position then 
split the Bloc. 

He's isolation was borne home to him within the year 
after Geneva^ as the deadline approached for consultations preliminary 
to the elections. Although the Soviet Arabassador to Hanoi had joined a 
chorus of dark threats from DRV representatives that "violent action" 
would follow if the consultations were delayed; the 20 July 1955 deadline 
passed while the parties to the Agreement were in the Summit Conference 
at Geneva on ways to decrease world tensions^ and the Bloc did not press 
il the point. Ho took the extraordinary step of a formal appeal to Diem^ 

ji but the GVN on 7 August 1955 strongly rejected Hanoi's overtures for 

talks. 83 / A subsequent DRV appeal to the UK and USSR co-presidents 
of the Geneva Conference vms also of no avail. In January^ 195^^ China, 
and then the USSR, did request another Geneva conference; but the USSR and the 
UK responded only by extending sine die the functions of the International 
Control Commission beyond the expiration date. 8U/ 

j All indications are that Ho preferred to follow the 

I Soviet lead; probably from both repugnance at the prospect of further 

dependency on China, and realization that the Soviet was in a better posi- 
tion to provide the kinds and amount of foreign aid and trade the DRV 

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required. 85/ From 1956 through I96O Ho^ at some cost^ honored the 
principle Mao intoned at the Commionist summit meeting in Moscow in 
November^ 195T: the Communist bloc must have a head and the Soviet 
Union must be that head. 86/ Soviet rebuffs of the DRV must have there- 
fore been particularly painful for Ho. In the 9th Plenum of the 1b.o Dong 
Party Central Committee (l9-2^ April I956) Ho~who was in person the DRV's 
prime political asset, especially in view of Diem's ascendancy- -dutifully 
recited the de-Stalinizing cant of the 20th Congress of the CPSU extrolling 
collective leadership, and damning the evil cult of the individual- 87/ 
Two weeks later, as the outcome of the meeting of Co-Chairmen of the Geneva 
Conference at which the Soviets tacitly accepted status quo in Vietnam, 
Ho received a message, dated 8 May I956, signed by A. Gromyko, First Deputy 
Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, acting with the authority of his 
government, addressed to two sovereign states: the Governments of the 
Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam. 88/ Immedi- 
ately after the deadline for elections passed, in August 195^ Ho penned 
a Pravda article deprecating notions that the DRV reunification "struggle" 
was a Vietnamese affair, denying that the DRV might develop a "national 
communism" of the Tito model, and rejecting ideas that the DRV might use- 
fully pursue a course independent of the Bloc. 89/ The following January, 
1957, after a stonny autumn of insurrection, the Rectification of Errors . 
Campaign, and "Hundred Flowers, " Ho was surprised by the Soviet proposal 
at the United Nations to formalize Vietnamese disunity by admitting both 
the DRV and the GVN as member states. 90/ Nor were these the only 
instances of tepid support or countervailing policy from the Soviets. 
The DRV forwarded messages to the GVN in July 1955^ May and June 195^, 
July 1957^ March I958, July I959, and July I96O, urging a consultative 
conference on elections, offering to negotiate on the basis of "free 
general elections by secret ballot," and urging liberalization of North- 
South relations. Throughout, the Soviet Union never went beyond words 
and gestures of solidarity. 

For Ho Chi Minh, the major international difficulties 
in securing foreign aid had internal ramifications as well. There is 
evidence of a rising tide of conviction within the I^o Dong Party that 
more forceful measirres were necessary tov^ards reunification, which took 
the form in 1957 of an attack upon Ho Chi Minh's own position, and upon . 
the Soviet-oriented faction within the Party elite. 91/ There was also ■ 
an evident realignment of the DRV hierarchy in which Le Duan, an advocate 
of forceful resolution of the .impasse with Diem, came to prominence in 
mid-1957- 92/ (Le Duan who served in the South, through I956, appears 
to have been de facto the Secretary General of the Party I957-I96O; there- 
after, he openly held the office, and is considered the second ranking 
member of the Politburo.) 93 / 

Ho Chi Minh, despite rumors that he was dead or discarded, 
survived the 1957 crisis seemingly intact. . - 

. By 1958 the DRV elite were apparently more disposed to 
seek their own solutions in Vietnam, less sensitive to the persistent 
coolness of Khruschev, and more responsive to Mao than theretofore. After 

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1958^ in the developing Sino-Soviet dispute^ the DRV tended to indorse 
Chinese doctrine and methods_, but was careful to avoid Peking-style 
abuse of the Russians. Ho^ on occasion _, served as mediator in the dis- 
pute^ but on such central issues as disarmament,, "peaceful coexistence^ " 
and Moscow's call for "democratic centralism" in the world communist 
movement _, Ho's view by I96O approximated that of Mao: independent^ 
activist and bellicose^ at least insofar as Diem's GVTJ was concerned. 9^ / 
Nonetheless,, DRV support for the Soviet Union^ qualified though it was^ 
paid off. In the period I954 to 1960^ the USSR supplanted the CPR as 
its priiae foreign aid donor: 

Communist Economic Aid Extended DRV 
" (Millions of U.S. Dollars) 95/ 

China . ■ USSR & East Europe 

1955-1957: Grants 200 100 

Credits „« - . 19.5 

Total 200 119-5 

I958-I96O: Grants 25 

Credits 75 159 

Total 100 159 

h. Vietnamese Hegemony " 

The foregoing discussion has been confined to the iraraediate 
foreign policy goals of the DRV in the aftermath of Geneva. There remains^ 
however^ a more far-reaching objective: Vietnamese domination over Indo- 
china. As mentioned^ modern Vietnam is the product of conquest. 96/ The 
Khmers (Cambodians) and the tribes along Viet ream's laotian frontier have 
historic cause for apprehension over Viet forays westward. In the nine- 
teenth century^ just ahead of French imperialism in Indochina,, Vietnamese 
forces occupied and annexed contiguous Laotian frontier provinces (those 
which were roughly the territory controlled by DRV-linked Pathet Lao in 
1963)' 97 / But in current era^ the furthest reaching of all Viet expan- 
sionist aspirations were those of the Communist Party of Indochina (iCP); 
which from its foundation aimed at the establishment of political control 
over Laos and Cambodia as well as Vietnam^ and which regarded a workers 
and peasants government over a unified Indochina both feasible and necessary 
According to a lao Dong Party history published in Hanoi in I96O: "The 
Vietnamese^ Cambodianj and Laotian proletariat have politically and econom- 
ically to be closely related in spite of their differences in language^ 
custom^ and race." 98 / The. history quoted echoes the sense of one of 
the earliest known Lao Dong Party directives^ captured in South Vietnam^ 
dated November_; 1951> entitled: "Remarks on the Official Appearance of 
the Vietnamese Workers Party." In a section labeled "Reasons for the 

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Division Into Three Parties And For the Change in the Party Name/* the 
document states that the Communist Party would continue to promote revo- 
lution throughout Southeast Asia as it had in the past^ and stressed its 
essential unity despite outward appearances: 

"The creation of a separate party for each of the three 
Nations does not prejudice the revolutionary movement in 

"(a) In 1930^ we recommended the creation of an Indo- 
Chinese Communist Party^ not only because Vietnam^ Cambodia^ 
and Laos suffered under the same yoke of domination and had the 
same enemy^ but also because at that tisae only the Revolutionary 
Movement in Vietnam was in a state of development^ while it was 
still weak in Cambodia and Laos, If at that time there had ^ not 
been one Communist Party for the three countries^ the creation of 
a Communist and revolutionary movement in Cambodia and Laos would 
certainly have been retarded. 

"Todayj however^ the situation has changed. The Cambodian 
and laotian peoples are rising to oppose the French and obtain 
their independence. Communist Party sections exist in Cambodia 
and Laos and are beginning to grow. Cambodia and Laos already 
have a united Liberation Front (issarak in Cambodia; Issara in 
Laos). Cambodia has a National Liberation Committee; Laos a 
Resistance Government, etc. .. .Within these organizations there 
are already groups of faithful Communists who act as Delegations 
to the Indochinese Communist Party from which they receive direc- 
' tives. For that reason^ the creation of a separate Communist 
Party for the working class of Vietnam does not risk weakening 
the leadership of the revolutionary movements in Cambodia and laos 
or the carrying out of Marxist-Lenin propaganda action. In addi- 
tion, the Vietnamese Party reserves the right to supervise the 
activities of its brother Parties in Cambodia and Laos. 

"(b) Each Nation - Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, has its ovm 
Party, but unity of leadership and action remain between the 
three Parties, There are several m_eans of unifying the leader- 
■ ship and action. For example, the Central Executive Committee 
of the Vietnamese Workers Party has designated a Cambodian and 
a Laotian bureau charged with assisting the revolutionary move- 
ments in these countries. It organizes periodic assemblies of 
the three parties in order to discuss questions of common interest; 
it works towards the creation of a Vietnamese-Khmer-Laotian United 
Front . 

"(c) Militarily Vietnam, Cambodia, and laos constitute a 
combat zone; Vietnam has substantially assisted Caiabodia and I^aos 

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militarily as weLl as frcM all other points of view. The crea- 
tion of a separate Vietnamese Party will not therefore weaken 
the military cooperation between the three Nations in the fight 
they are waging against the imperialists. Later^ however^ if 
conditions permit^ the three revolutionary Parties of Vietnam^ 
Cambodia^ and Isos will be able to unite to form a single Party: 
the Party of the Vietnam-Khmer-I^otian Federation." ^3j 

P. J. Honey stated in I965 that one of the main requirements 
of DRV foreign policy was "to impose Communist Vietnamese rule over laos 
and Cambodia^ " but noted that: 

"It is open to debate whether this ambition for terri- 
torial aggrandisement springs from the expansionist nature 
of Communism^ from the imperialist character of the Vietnamese 
people which has shown itself repeatedly through their history 
over the past milleniimi^ or from the feeling that they had 
played the major role in driving out French colonial power and 
were therefore entitled to the fruits of their efforts. What 
emerges very clearly is that the actions of the Vietnamese 
Coimnunists since 195I are entirely consistent with the aim 
set out in the document /quoted above/- • • • 

.^ "North Vietnam shares a common frontier with Laos and undeter- 

mined numbers of North Vietnamese soldiers have been operating on 
Laotian territory for several years. Moreover_, the nominal head 
of the Pathet Lao^ Prince Souphanouvong^ has spent more years in 
Vietnam than in laos and is the husband of a senior Vietnamese 
Communist. For both reasons Laos presents her with the ideal 
circumstances for the pursuit of her expansionist aims. Addi- 
tionally, the prosecution of the war in South Vietnam requires 
that men and supplies be infiltrated into that state^, and eastern 
Laos provides the most secure and convenient route for such 
traffic. ... 

"Cambodia touches the territory of no Communist state and 
is, in consequence, not amenable to the same tactics as those 
employed in Laos. Instead, the Vietnamese Coramimist leaders 
have attempted to cement relations with the established, non- 
Communist government of Norodom. Sihanouk in order to induce that 
government to create as many embarrassments and difficulties as 
possible for the rival Vietnamese regime in Saigon. By exploiting 
, , historic Cambodia antagonisms towards neighbouring Thailand and 

^ South Vietnam, they have achieved the rupture of diplomatic rela- 

tions between Cambodia and these tv^o states, but. .. -Norodom 
Sihanouk has reached the conclusion that China, not North Vietnam, 
will exercise the dominant influence over South East Asia in the 
years to come and has evinced a readiness to reach an accoiimiodation 
with the Chinese, whose objectives do not necessarily coincide with 
those of the North Vietnamese at all points...." 100 / 




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The 1951 Lao Dong document quoted above stipulated that: 

"Not only is it our duty to aid the revolutionaries in 
Cambodia and Laos^ but we must also aid the revolutionary 
movements in the other countries of Southeast Asia^ comtries 
such as Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, etc." lOl/ 

Since DRV independence in 195^^, its foreign policy has openly supported 
neutral regimes in Laos and Cambodia, while covertly it has londertaken 
major politico-military operations in Laos, and supported subversive 
organizations in Cambodia and Thailand. 102 / It is possible to infer, 
as has P. J, Honey, that the ultimate DRV objective is Vietnamese hegemony 
over Indochina; quasi- independent, communist governments controlled by the 
Hanoi leaders through the Lao Dong apparatus. However, it is also possible 
to interpret the Lao Dong Party tracts as bombast, and DRV extra-territorial 
operations as a necessary part of its thrust toward reunification of Viet- 
nam. It is clear that DRV control of the Laotian Panhandle and the Mu Gia 
and Keo Nua Passes would be essential to any contemplated large scale infil- 
tration of men and materiel from North to South Vietnam. 

!»• Links ¥ith the Viet Cong 

From 195^ on, the DRV possessed four principal ties with insur- 
gents within South Vietnam: the Southern Viet Minh who were regrouped 
to the North; the "Patherland Pront, " the DRV mass political organization 
devoted in part to maintaining identification with Southerners, and pro- 
moting the cause of reunification before the world; some commonality of 
leaders; and the Lao Dong Party. Each of these deserve discussion pre- 
liminary to analyzing the extent to which these links permitted Hanoi 
to influence the form and pace of the insurgency in South Vietnam, 

3- _Southerners in the North . The estimated 130,000 "regroupees" 
of Geneva in North Vietnam after the evacuations of 195^-1955 included as 
many as 90,000 "soldiers," and possibly half that number of dependents. 
There were among them possibly 10,000 children, and about the same nimiber 
of Montagnards. Of this entire group, U.S. intelligence estimates indicate 
that about 30-35,000 have since returned to South Vietnam. IO3/ Regroupees 
provided virtually all the infiltrators in the period 1959-"19&^. Thereafter, 
kno>/n infiltration has been almost exclusively by Northerners, which has 
led U.S. intelligence to conclude that the DRV had by 196^- exhausted its 

pool of trained and able m.anpower among the regroupees. 104 / As of 
July, 1967, the GVN had only a small fraction of the Southern regroupee 
infiltrators under its control: I80 POW, and an undetermined (probably 
very much smaller) nuraber of defectors. 105/ In August, I966, a DOD 
contractor published a study based on detailed interrogation of 71 of these 
regroupees (56 POW and I5 defectors) plus 9 other NLF members. IO6/ Two 
out of three in the sample were Communist Party members; all regroupees had 
undergone intensive training in the DRV before being sent south. The 
earliest trip South by any among the group was I96O, the latest 196^1. The 
survey of their experiences and attitudes affords some insights into the 
policy and operations of the DRV. 

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Most of the physically fit Southerners had been placed in 
the North Vietnam Army (NVA) where they acquired militaiy training and 
discipline^ and political indoctrination--the 305th^ 324th^ 325th^ 330th^ 
and 338th NVA Divisions v^ere filled with Southerners^ and remained so 
lentil 1959:, ^hen infiltration started on a large scale. 10? / Those 
Southerners with non-military professional skills were placed in DRV 
civilian society where they could be useful. But all^ no matter where 
placed^ were apparently watched to assess their reliability^ and eventu- 
ally selected for return to the South by DRV authorities. Civilians vrere 
urged to "volunteer" to return^ soldiers were ordered to do so. Almost 
all were pleased to comply^ not only because it meant a return to family 
and land of birth^ but because few liked North Vietnam^ and because they 
had heard of the sufferings inflicted upon their people by the GVN^ and 
wanted to "liberate" them from Diem and the Americans. The chosen were 
then sent to special training centers -- the most important of which for 
the interviewed regroupees was at Xuan Mai -- where they attended courses 
of several weeks to several months^ depending on their background. The 
emphasis — about two-thirds of instructional time -- was on politicaH, 
indoctrination. Themes included an impending victory in the South^ to 
be followed by "peace^ neutrality, and reunification." They were taught 
that after infiltration, they ^rexe to approach uncommitted Southerners, 
by stressing the land refom policy of the Viet Cong, by urging families 
to call back sons serving in ARVN, and by castigating the agroville- 
strategic hamlet program of the GVN. One propaganda specialist related 
that he was instructed to press three programs: political struggle, 
armed struggle, and "military proselyting" ( vinh van ) -- the latter again 
aimed at sapping the will of ARVN to fight, and causing desertions. 

Following training, the regroupees were formed into units 
of kO to UOO for the trip south. A few were infiltrated by sea, but the 
majority were taken by truck through North Vietnam to Laos, and thence 
walked south on foot. The journey took at least two and one-half months; - 
most reported the trails were well organized, with camps built at intervals, 
and guides available at each camp to conduct arrivals on the next leg of 
their trip. Strict camouflage discipline was observed, and conversations 
with camp attendants or guide personnel was forbidden. On arrival at their 
destinations in South Vietnam, they were smoothly integrated into local 
Viet Cong organizations. (Little subsequent friction was reported by the 
regroupees between themselves and the Viet Cong, but some southern VC 
recruited in the late Fifties or early Sixties, the "winter cadres," have 
expressed anijnosity toward the "autumn cadres, " as the regroupees vere 

The interviews with the regroupees suggest that: 

-- The DRV quite deliberately organized, and trained an 
infiltration force of Southerners. 

"- The infrastructure for doing so -- the training centers 
and the infiltration routes south -- indicate extensive 
preparations for the process before it was started in 
earnest in I96O. 

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-- The DRV had specific political^ as well as military^ 
objectives in returning the Southerners^ including the 
overturning of Diem^ and eventually^ reunification. 

The interrogations of the regroupees also indicate that the DRV viewed 
the regroupees as a long-range political asset; establishing special 
schools and educational programs for Southern children. A captured 
Viet Cong Lieutenant Colonel stressed this pointy and quoted Phan Hung 
of the Lao Dong Politburo^ speaking at the Third Party Congress in 
September I96O: • ' 

"The Party has tried to develop 10^000 teenage children 
regrouped from the RVN into a cohesive group of engineers^ 
doctors^ professors^ and other specialists for the future. 
This is proof that the Party has looked out for the welfare 
of the South Vietnamese too." 108 / 

The informant stressed that at least until he left North Vietnam in 
November^ I96I, none of this shadow national elite had been conscripted: 
in his view^ the DRV had yet to use a powerful political force^ a cadre 
for South Vietnam whose attitudes had been carefully conditioned by more 
than a decade of education in the DRV, the Soviet Union, or other com- 
munist countries. As of 19®, there is no information that the DRV had 
committed these cadres in South Vietnam. 

In early I967, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, 
an interagency study group was convened from CIA, DIA, and the Department 
of State for a comprehensive review of U.S. intelligence concerning: "The 
North Vietnamese Role in the Origin, Direction, and Support of the War 
in South Vietnam." IO9/ The resultant study validates the foregoing 
observations on the regroupees in all respects, as do other captured docu- 
ments and interrogation reports. Taken together, available evidence 
indicates that infiltration of regroupees from North to South Vietnam 
began as early as 1955 . For example, a U.S. intelligence report of November, 
1955 reported on the arrival of 50 regroupees in October, 1955; and the 
Lieutenant Colonel mentioned above, an intelligence officer, described 
trips to South Vietnam and back in 1955, 195^, and 1958- 

However, from all indications, the early infiltration v/as 
quite small scale, involving mo more than a few hundred persons in all. 
There are no reports indicating DRV preparations of an apparatus to handle 
large-scale, systematic movements of people and supplies before 1958. 
Early in that year, according to one prisoner, Montagnards from Quang Tri 
and Thua Thien Provinces began to receive training in North Vietnam in 
the establishment and operation of way-stations and guide systems in Laos 
and South Vietnam; the prisoner left North Vietnam in March, 1959 >^ith a 
group of other cadre to organize tribesmen for those missions. He testified 
that thereafter he made several inspection trips along the routes to check 
on the building of troop shelters in the encampments, lio / Several other 
POW have disclosed that in early 1959 "they were chosen to man "special 
border-crossing teams" for moving drugs, food, and other materiel across 

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the DMZ into Quang Tri and Thua Thien. Ill / In April, 1959; a prisoner 
reported that the Lao Dong Party Central Committee directed the forming 
of a headquarters to control this effort, vhich came into being on May 5, 
1959, as the 559th Transportation Group, directly subordinate to Party 
headquarters. 112/ Another prisoner served with the 70th Battalion of 
the 559th Group, vhich was formed in 1959 and sent into southern Laos. 
The 70th Battalion received weapons, ammunition, mail, and supplies from 
Hanoi and transported them to another organization in charge of distribution 
to insurgent units. The 70th Battalion was in charge of 20 way-stations, 
furnished escorts for infiltrating groups from North to South Vietnam, and 
transported sick and wounded personnel from Thua Thien Province back to 
North Vietnam. 113 / While the 559th Group was being deployed on land, 
other prisoners reported that the 603d Battalion was fomed in June, 1959; 
to manage maritim.e Infiltration into South Vietnam. 11^ / According to 
prisoners, the 603d Battalion had 25O men upon formation, and by December, 
1959, had 11 infiltration "cells" and supporting bases in operation. 

Still other POWs stated that in January, I96O, a training^ 
center for infiltrators was in operation at Son Tay, northwest of Hanoi, 
and that in early I96O, the NVA 324th Division in Nghe An was directed 
to begin infiltrator training. II5 / About the same tim^e the Xuan Mai 
Infiltration Center was established southwest of Hanoi, a school which 
by 1961 could accommodate several 1000-man classes simultaneously, lib/ 

Moreover, available evidence points to 1959 as the year in 
which significant numbers of regroupees began to be funneled from North 
Vietnam through the way-station system into South Vietnam. George Carver, 
of CIA, has conservatively estimated that 1959 infiltration amounted to a 
"few hundred." II7/ Altogether, during 1959 and I96O, twenty-six groups 
of infiltrators, comprising ^500 personnel, vrere confirmed by interrogations 
of two or more prisoners from each group. II8 / The same sources estab- 
lished that most of the infiltrators were military officers, senior non- 
commissioned officers or trained political cadre. Captured documents and 
interrogations also indicate that at least half— military and civilian--were 
regular Lao Dong Party members. The following table shows UcS. intelligence 
estimates of infiltration into South Viet-Nam from 1959 through I965; during 
1963 "regroupee" resource waned visibly, and in 1964 apparently dried up; by 
early I965 at least tb_ree out of four infiltrators were ethnic North Viet- 
namese. 119/ 

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1959 )(i,) 

i960 y^^ 












Infiltration from North to South Vietnam 
" 1959-1965 

Year Confirmed (l) probable (2) Total (3) 

26 ^582 

2177 6295 

7495 12857 

3180 7906 

3108 121^24 

1910 25680 

(1) A confirmed unit/group is one which is. determined to exist on 
the basis of accepted direct information from a minimum of two 
prisoners^ returnees or captured documents (any combination^ 
in addition to indirect evidence). 

(2) A probable infiltration unit/group is one believed to exist on 
the basis of accepted direct information from one captive,, 
returnee^ or captured document^ in addition to indirect evidence - 

(3) The total does not represent all the data on hand. In I965 

a possible'' category was added to show units/group thought to 
be in South Vietnam on the basis of unconfirmed evidence. 
Adding the "possible" category raises the totals for I965 to 
33j»730. Still other information^ though available^ has been 
considered insufficient to warrant adding to the totals. 

(h) The figure shown is for both I959 and I96O. 

There is no evidence that the regroupees themselves exerted 
significant pressure upon the DRV leaders to undertake the infiltrations 
or force reunification hj other means. Many were dissatisfied with the 
Worthy but there is no record that they openly and collectively agitated 
for return to the South. Rather^ they appear to have been retained in 
large groups only within disciplined militaiy units^ and otherwise they 
had no appreciable collective identity outside the formal groupings 
organized or authorized by the DRV. The DRV did appeal to them as a 
group from time to time^ but prtacipally v/hen it wished to mobilize opinion 
against some deed of the GVN. For example^ in December^ 1958^ in Diem's 
"political re-education center" at Phu Loi (Thu Dau Mot), just north of 
Saigon, there was an epidemic food-poisoning in which at least twenty 
prisoners dies. Hanoi launched at major propaganda effort to exploit the 
mishap, claiming that: 12 o / 

"Six thousand former resistance members and fighters for 
peace and national reunification, six thousand patriots, men 

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and women of all ages and ways of life^ detained without trial 
in a concentration camp as an act of reprisal^ were victims 
of a wholesale food-poisoning which resulted in more than a 
thousand dead on the very first day. The survivors were 
hurriedly taken to other camps or left dying behind the Phu 
Loi barbed wire • . . . " 

The Phu Loi Massacre became one of the cases which iinderwrote Hanoi's 
appeal to the world in 1959 ^^^ I960 to end: 

"•••.this regime of terror and massacre set up by 
Ngo Dinh Diem in the south of our country at the behest of 
the U.S. imperialists. It is the duty of all honest people 

to extinguish this hotbed of war According to available 

data which cannot be complete from July;, 195^j ^^'^^ of the 
signing of the Geneva Agreement s^ to February^ 1959; l80^8^3 
foiiner resistance members were arrested^ 50^000 others were 
subjected to a regime of forced labour in the so-called 
'Agricultural colonies.' The Phu Loi camp is part of this 
network of sorrow and affliction which Ngo Dinh Diem; the 
henchman of the American imperialists^, hopes to quench the 
aspirations for freedom, independence and national unity of 
our people. .. ./footnote/ The famous declaration of Diem^ 
during his visit to Washington in 1957: 'The United States' 
frontier extends as far as the IJth parallel in Vietnam.'" 121/ 

At the forefront of the "movement of protest" were Southerners in North 
Vietnam^ who could write or speak with special poignancy about the event. 
ThuS; the regroupees became a strategic propaganda as well as personnel 
resource for the DRV. 

2. The Fatherland Front . Policy on the regroupees^ and 
orchestration of propaganda relating to reunification with South Vietnam^ 
was apparently reserved to the top echelon of the Lao Dong Party. There 
is some evidence of the existence as early as 1957 oi* ^ branch of the 
Lao Dong Party Central Committee called the "Reunification Department^ " 
which had purview over all matters relating to regroupees; the Depart- 
ment or Commission was surfaced at the Third Party Congress^, September^ 
i960. 122/ A prisoner taken in 196^-; a regroupee from Binh Dinh Province^ 
indicated that he worked for this Department for some years prior to 
infiltrating in 1963^ with duties of supervising civilian cadres. ^He^ 
described the Department's having a personnel management system^ with 
formal records and reports^ education programs for cadres and their 
children; he also stated that the Committee decided which regroupees 
would be ordered South. I23/ The head of the Reunification Department of 
the Lao Dong Party possibly since 1957^ and at least since I96O; was 
Nguyen Van Vinh^ an WA Major General, a Deputy Chief of Staff of the 
IWA, a Vice Minister of Defense and a member of the Party Central Committee. 

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Vinh was in South Vietnam up until late 1956. 12k/ 

However^ overt DRV political activities with the regroupees 
or on behalf of reunification^ were normally carried out through the 
Patherland Fronts which^ as mentioned above^ from its foundation in 
1955 advanced proposals for rejoining North and South Vietnam. With the 
founding of the NLF in late I96O; the Fatherland Front became its DRV 
counterpart; its propaganda count erpoint_, its sounding board^ and inter- 
national sponsor. I25/ In fact the NLF was set up as a mirror jjnage 
of the Fatherland Front: 



National Liberation Front 
(South Vietnam) 

People's Revolutionary Party (PRP) 

Democratic Party 

Fatherland Front 
(North Vietnam) 

lao Dong Party 
Democratic Party 

Radical Socialist Party 

Association of I^bor 

Socialist Party 

General Confederation of Labor 

Association of Women 

Women's Union 

Association of Youth 

Youth Federation 

Association of Artists and Writers 

Writers and Artists Union 

Association of Democratic Journalists 

Journalists Association 

Association of South Vietnamese 

Unified Buddhist Association 

National Liaison Committee for 
Patriotic and Peace 
Loving Catholics 

Vietnam- Soviet Friendship 

Vietnam-Chinese Friendship 

Vietnam-French Friendship 

South Vietnam Committee for the 
Defense of Peace 

Peace Committee 

South Vietnainese Coimnittee for Afro- 
Asian Peoples Solidarity 

Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee 


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3. Common Leadership . North and South Vietnam have shared 
leaders throughout the last three decades,, a commonality which has 
lately developed into Northerners holding the top posts both within the" 
GW and within the NLF. Tran Van Gian^ an old ICP leader^ headed the 
"front" government in Saigon in 19^5 j and then returned to Hanoi to 
hold high DRV posts. His successor was Nguyen Phuong Thao (alias 
Nguyen Binh)^ a northerner^ who led the Southern Resistance through 1951^ 
and subsequently died in the North. 126 / Nguyen Phuong Thao (alias 
Nguyen Binh) was succeeded by Le Duan^ who became First Secretary of 
the lao Dong Party openly in 1960^ and probably de facto in 1957* 
Le Duan^s deputy was Le Due Tho^ in I96O director of the Organizational 
Department of the lao Dong Party^ and a member of its Central Committee. 
Pham Hung^ in I96O a member of the Lao Dong Secretariat and a Deputy 
Premier of the DRV^ and Ung Van Khiem^ in I96O on the Lao Dong Central 
Committee^ were also among the leaders of the Southern Viet Minh through 
1954 . 

Le Duan remained in the South after Geneva^ or at least is 
mentioned in intelligence reports as being in the South frequently 
through 1957. 127/ His return to North Vietnam in mid-1957 precipitated^ 
accordirjg to some sources,, a struggle among Ho*s lieutenants between a 
moderate faction opposing DRV support of guerrilla war in the South; and 
a militant faction led by Le Duan. 128/ He is also "reported to have been 
sent on an inspection trip to the South in 1958^ and in early 1959^ to 
have presented a series of recommendations for immediate action in the 
South to the Lao Dong Central Committee. 129 / General Van Tien Dung; 
Chief of Staff of the NVA and alternate Politburo member^ was reportedly 
a member of the Party's southern' apparatus from mid-1955 through 195^; 
having been sent south to contract alliances with Hoa Hao and Cao Dai 
armed bands; Nguyen Van Vinh, one of his deputies^ also served there at 
the same time. I30/ Intelligence is vague on Le Duan's replacement in 
1957- However^ among those northern leaders mentioned by intelligence 
sources as serving in the South in the period after 1956 are Tran Van 
Tra_, Le Duan's pre-1954 military adviser in the South; and now a NVA 
deputy chief of staff; and Muoi Cue (Nguyen Van Cue); one of Le Duan's 
close followers.. I31/ 

Both the infiltrated regroupees and the relatively few 
northerners who accompanied them in the years 1959-1963 were lower-level 
leaders. As George Carver put it: 

"They were not foot soldiers or cannon fodder (at least 
not until Hanoi began sending in whole North Vietnamese 
units in late 1^&\- or early I965). Instead they were 
disciplined; trained and indoctrinated cadres and technicians. 
They became the sq^iad leaders; platoon leaders; political officers; 
staff officers; unit commanders; weapons and communications 
specialists who built the Viet Cong's military force into what 
it is today. They also became the village; district; provincial 
and regional committee chiefs and key comraittee members who 


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built the Viet Cong's political apparatus. 

"The earlier arrivals had had at least five years of . 
indoctrination and training in ITorth Viet Nam, or else- 
where in the Communist bloc, before departing on their 
southern missions ..." 132/ 

The monopoly of Viet Cong leadership by the infiltrators 
from the North became evident after I96O. By 19^5^ "they were clearly 
dominant. For example, v/hile southerners still controlled the Viet 
Cong of the Mekong Delta, in the provinces just north of Saigon -- 
Tay Ninh, Binh Duong, Binh Hoa, and Phuoc Tuy especially -- regroupees 
and northerners had assimied most of the principal comjnand positions. 
A document captured in January I966 listed Ut VC officials attending a 
top-level party meeting for that region, of whom 30 had infiltrated 
from 1961 through I965. Seven of these, all holding high posts in the 
regional command, were North Vietnamese. 133/ U-S. intelligence has 
estimated that one-third of the infiltrators from 1962 through 196^ 
were military officers or political leaders. 13^/ A high-level defector 
from the VC I65A Regiment, charged with the Saigon region, stated that in I965 
8 of its 20 top officers were infiltrators. Other prisoners and ralliers 
have provided evidence that from one-quarter to one-third of Viet Cong 
officers in Liberation Army units were infiltrated from the North. At 
Viet Cong central headquarters in Tay Ninh -- Central Office for South 
^^ Vietnam (COSVN) -- Senior General Nguyen Chi Thanh of the NVA and Major 

General Tran Van Tra of the IWA and the Lao Dong Central Committee, his 
deputy, both North Vietnamese, held the top positions in the Coimunist 
Party Secretariat, under which there was a Military Affairs Comraittee 
heavily weighted with North Vietnamese military Officers. By I966 it 
was clear that in the northern provinces of South Vietnam, the NVA was 
in direct command- General Hoang Van Thai, a deputy chief of staff 
of the NVA, and Major General Chu Huy Man, a member of the Lao Dong 
Central Committee, commanded all VC/nVA operations there. 135/ 

4. The Communist Party . U.S. intelligence has been relatively 
well assured that throughout the years since 19^5 "the Cozmiunist Party of 
North Vietnam -- in its several guises -- has remained active in South 
Vietnam and in control of the Communist Party there. Public statements 
hy Ho, by Truong Chinh, and other DRV leaders confirmed intelligence 
collected by the French that the Party went underground upon its formal 
disestablishment in 19^5, but stayed operational and united throughout 
Vietnam. 13 6 / The Party publicly and privately took credit for organizing 
and leading the Viet Minh in the years 19^5 to 1951;» a^^ ^von the DRV's 
legalizing the I^o Dong Party in 1951, openly identified the latter 
with both the Indochinese Communist Party pre-19^5; and the covert Party 
of the years thereafter. By 195^^ the Party seems to have asserted 
itself in virtually all of the Viet Minh's sprawling un,dertakings . 
Party members held the key positions in the Front, both in the North and 
in the South, and Party cadre served as the chain of command for both 
operational intelligence and decisions. 137,/ The Viet Minh administered 
South Vietnam as two "interzones" or regions (see map), and established 

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; -1 









<^ /)>^Quang-Ninh 

^'r^s^r ^, 



Legend : 

....... Territory under control of 

Saigon governinent since July 1954 

Laotian territory under DRVN- 
controUed Pathet Lao forces 

cna Inter-Province bcSmiclarle's 


n'TT! Inter -Zone bc^'undaries 


17th parallel : lO-m^lo. ^^'^.. 

neutral zone 





- ^ 



4 ■•>*•<•*•■•■«■>■■«■>>->*••>•■> 

%....i.*. ......,., 

y ^\ .,.....'-; , ^■- . t , - 1 

iX^-x^iv;:-::;-::/ /^-xxv/ivx-xx:' 

<. Xci .:i- -^-*- -:*■?* 1 

Note: H?aioi ?.nd Saigon are 
considered ?,s '^Special Zones'' 



!■: v^ /iv/ziv/ivi-Xv::-/:: vXvXvXiv/iXvA 

» ••-■X"\ " XX-Xv'.Xvlv/iv'.'.Xyi^ 

.1^ v:xvxvx>:->?::<v:>::v:vxx-/ ^::v:-:-xx:"x-xyv 
■^ v:::;X:;;:;X;0;;:;:::;X:::X:X^ .'vXvXvX;;:^ 

V, ,^:;.;.v.U|: .^CvtX?:; '^X-X%'o:^XvX-:v;>---^ 

r.-.'.'.v.'.-.-.v.'.-.-.'.'.-.-XS.y. A v'-v - ^\' ■■■j^f<-/ 

^M>i:^te:V.M^ NAM BO 



JO ^e to oo ICO iw> 140 110 




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a principal subordinate Party headquarters on Ca Mau Peninsula called 
the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSW), headed by Le Duan. 138 / 
However^ the I95I statutes of the Lao Dong Party, like other DRV 
official pronouncements, recognized in principle no separate identity for 
South Vietnam or South Vietnamese communists- 139 / I't ^^s the I^o Dong 
Party cadre which sorted out the southern Viet Minh for regroupment or 
stay-behind missions, and the regroupees themselves felt that their fate 
was thereafter in the hands of the Ibo Dong leaders. 1^0 / 

As the Viet Minh military apparatus was dismantled, COSVN 
was apparently closed down. There is convincing evidence, however, 
that from I955 on, there were two Party headquarters — or at least com- 
munications centers -- in South Vietnam, each communicating directly 
with Lao Dong headquarters in Hanoi. lAl/ One of these was located in 
"Nam Bo" (South Zone), the other was located in "Trung Bo" (Central 
Zone, Region Five). Captured documents and prisoners indicate that 
these headquarters were active in handling the infiltration between 
North and South Vietnam in the years immediately after Geneva; they 
are also mentioned as the site of conferences between southern Viet- 
namese and northern leaders like Le Duan and Van Tien Dung. 1^2/ 
While prisoners and captured documents have established these links 
between Hanoi and the South, reports are too few in nimiber and insuf- 
ficiently comprehensive to warrant the conclusion that Hanoi was always 
in a position to dictate or even manipulate events in South Vietnam; 
they do offer persuasive evidence that the Lao Dong Party continued 
conspiratorial, political, and railitary activities in South Vietnam 
throughout the years 195^ to I96O. Moreover, the documents and 
interrogations are supported by circumstantial evidence. The village 
level organization of the Viet Cong, even that in the early years of 
the insurgency, VC propaganda techniques, and the terror-persuasion 
methodology employed by the early Viet Cong, all closely followed the 
doctrine of the Lao Dong Party, lij-3/ The eventual appearance of a 
"front" structured like the Fatherland Front; the reiteration by 
Cong of propaganda themes being trimipeted by Hanoi; and indications 
of preoccupation within the Viet Cong leadership over following the 
Lao Dong Party line also support the conclusion that the Party was 
playing a significant role in the mounting rebellion against Diem. 

In 1961, when the People's Revolutionary Party of South 
Vietnam came into being, there was some effort in both North and South ■ 
to portray it as an indigenous South Vietnamese party, independent of 
the lao Dong. But documents and prisoners have since proved that if 
this vj-ere the case, neither the Viet Cong hierarchy nor rank-and-file 
believed it so. A document captured in I962, a provincial party 
directive, stated that the creation of the PRP "is only a matter of 
strategy ... to deceive the enemy . . . Our party is nothing but the 
Lao Dong Party of Vietnam, unified from North to South, under the 
direction of the Central Executive Committee of the Party, the chief of 
which is President Ho." lM_/ Another party directive captured in I966 
provided that: "the masses who have good sympathy towards the Party 
shou-ld be well informed that the I^to Dong Party and the People's 
Revolutionary Party are one party headed by the Central Committee with 

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Chairman Ho at the head." 1^/ An NVA naval officer captured in 1966^ 
a second generation Party member, asserted that: "Once South Vietnam 
has been liberated, the ELF will suffer the same fate as the Viet Minh 
did in North Vietnam after independence was gained from the French. 
The Front will atrophy and quickly disappear ..." This officer was 
emphatic that: "The Lao Dong and the PRP are one and the same organism 
. . . the PRP and the Lao Dong will emerge into the open (after reunifica 
tion) as one party . . . under Ho's authority." 1^6 / 

In March, 1962, the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN) 
was reactivated, built around the Nambo Inter-Zone Committee, and given 
purview over Cochinchina and Annam. The I962 reorganization is believed 
to have been intended to Improve the coordination of insurgent activity 
and to lend substance to the newly created PRP. 

Available evidence indicates that the PRP is the southern 
element of the DRV I^o Dong Party. But whether the PRP is a subsidiary 
of the lao Dong Party or merely a territorial department of the Party 
is unclear. Pointing to a pa rent -subsidiary relationship are the facts 
that membership requirements in the PRP are considerably less stringent 
than in the Lao Dong Party, that the PRP regulations are designed for 
an independent entity, and that the SVN military party system is sub- 
ordinate to COSVN, whereas the DRV military party system is not sub- 
ordinate to analogous party committees. But Vietnamese Communists 
assert that there is only one Vietnamese Communist Party because Vietnam 
is one country; the lao Dong Party appears to coimt PRP members in its 
official membership figures; and' infiltrating Lao Dong Party members 
are automatically accorded PRP membership. The fact that some members 
of the Lao Dong Central Committee are officials of COSVN could be con- 
sistent with either relationship; whatever the exact relationship, 
COSVN is the extension of the Lao Dong. COSVN' s immediate superior 
in the Lao Dong Party hierarchy seeius to be the Party's Reunification 
Department, which is believed to have issued specific orders to COSVN 
based upon the directives of the Lao Dong Central Conmiittee. The 
principal function of the Reunification Department seems to be to act 
as the COSVN liaison office in DRV, where it forwards correspondence 
and recruits and trains political cadre before infiltration south. 
COSVN leadership of the military party system in SVN appears to have 
been subject to the technical supervision of the lao Dong Central 
Military Committee. iVf/ 

George Carver has summarized well presently available 
information concerning command linkage between Hanoi and the South: 

"As the organizational structure of the Viet Cong move- 
ment has expanded over the past four years, its general outlines 
have become fairly well known. In the insurgency's initial 
phase (195^-1959)^ the Communists retained the Viet Minh's 
division of what is now South Viet Nam into 'Interzone V' 

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f ^ 

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(French Annam below the 17th parallel) and the ^Nambo' (Cochin 
China )^ with each area under Hanoi's direct control. In late 
i960 or early 1961^ this arrangement was scrapped and field 
control over all aspects of the Viet Cong insurgency vested in 
a still existing^ single command headquarters^ originally 
kno-vm as the Central Office for South Viet Nam (or CO. S.V.N. 
—a term still in circulation) but now usually referred to by 
captured Viet Cong as simply the P.R.P.'s Central Committee. 
This command entity/ which also contains the headquarters of the 
N.L.F-^ is a mobile and sometimes peripatetic body^ usually 
located in the extreme northwestern tip of Tay Ninh province 
in prudent proximity to the Cambodian border. . . At the I962 
Geneva Conference on Laos^ a member of the North Vietnamese 
delegation inadvertently coiraaented that the published roster of 
the Lao Dong Party's Central Committee did not include some 
members whose identities were kept secret because they were 
'directing military operations in South Viet Nam.* One of the 
four examples he cited was 'Nguyen Van Cuc^ * which is one of 
the aliases used by the Chairman of the P.R.P. This Lao 
Dong Central Committee member^ whose true name we do not 
know^ is probably the overall field director of the Viet Cong 
insurgency in South Viet Nam. The overall commander of Viet 
Cong military forces (who would be a subordinate of Cue's 
within the Communist command structure) is almost certainly 
the Chairman of the (p.R.P.) Central Committee's Military 
Committee--a man who uses the name Tran Nam Trung but whom 
several captured Viet Cong cadre members have insisted is 
actually Lieutenant-General' Tran Van Tra^ a Deputy Chief of 
Staff of the North Vietnamese army and an alternate member 
of the Lao Dong Central Committee. The director of all Viet 
Cong activity in V.C Military Region 5 (the northernmost 
third of South Viet Nam) is Ng-uyen Don^ a Major-General in 
the North Vietnamese army and another alternate member of the 
Lao Dong Central Committee^ who in I96I was commander of the 
North Vietnamese 305th Division but came south late that year 
or early in I962. In shorty not only does the P.R.P- control 
all aspects of the Viet Cong movement ;, including the N.L.F.^ 
and not only is it a subordinate echelon of the North Viet- 
namese 1^0 Dong Party^ but the PoR.P. 's ovm leaders appear to 
be individuals who themselves occupy ranking positions within 
the Lao Dong Party hierarchy." 1^8/ 

However^ while the fact of extensive DRV control over South Vietnam's 
insurgents after I96O sheds light on recent DRV policy; it does not 
answer the questions of v/hen and why that control was imposed. These 
are best addressed in the broad context of world events^ which; as 
much as DRV domestic politics^ or U.S. and GVN policies^ seem to have 
governed DRV strategy. 

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E. DRV Strategy: Objectives and Timing 

From the close of the Geneva Conference on 22 July 195^^ 
through Hanoi's ajinouncement of the founding of the National Liberation 
Front of South Vietnam on 29 January 196l^ the Democratic Republic of 
Vietnam appears to have passed through four distinct phases in striving 
toward its national objectives of independence^ reunification; assured 
foreign support^ and Vietnamese hegemony in Southeast Asia. 

1. Political Struggle: Summer, 195^ — Summer, 19^6 . In the 
year following Geneva, the DRV executed its regroupments and pressed 
hard towards land reform and economic recovery. In February, 1955; "the 
Malenkov clique fell from power in the USSR, and the Soviet Union came 
under a collective leadership within which Khrushchev was pre-eminent. 
Intimations that the new leaders were interested in pursuing a concilia- 
tory policy in the Cold War distinctly at variance with the national 
interests of the DRV were manifest in Soviet inaction when the deadlines 
for consultations concerning the Geneva Plebiscite passed in July^ 
1955- l^i-9 / Doubly disappointed that Diem was not overturned by the 
sects, and that its principal ally seemed ill-disposed to back its 
cause, the DRV maneuvered frenetically to precipitate a reconvening 
of the Geneva Conference and to stymie Diem. U.S. intelligence was 
aware of a directive passed down through I^o Dong Party channels in 
August, 1955, for subordinates to struggle against the Americans and 
Diem "... so that there may be a less dangerous administration that 
will go to a conference with us." I50/ In September, 1955; the newly 
created Fatherland Front brought out its proposal for a confederation 
of North and South Vietnam, coupled with assurances that in both entities 
landlords would get free treatment. In South Vietnam in the same month, 
on three occasions soldiers fired on crowds agitating for the Geneva 
Plebiscite. I51/ Captured reports from Party field operators in South 
Vietnam were pessimistic, containing predictions of "long, painful and 
complex struggle, " and reporting weaknesses such that "it is not time . . : 
to meet the enemy." I52/ 

But within South Vietnam, Diem moved vsmoothly through his 
own plebiscite ejecting Bao Dai," announced plans for a new constitution, and 
proclaimed Ordinance No. 6 (ll January I956), giving the GVIT powerful 
legal recourse against "struggle movements." And just as the flurry of 
DUV diplomatic notes finally elicited help in the form of Chou En lai's 
letter of 26 January I956, calling for a new Geneva Conference, 
Khrushchev dropped the "de-Stalinization" bombshell: at the 20th Congress 
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev, in denigrating 
Stalin, undermined the Soviet position as the fount of Communist inter- 
national policy, and fractured the Communist Bloc. In April, 195^, 
just after the United Kingdom issued a note castigating the DRV 
for violation of the letter and spirit of the Geneva Accords, Khrushchev 
committed the Soviet Union to "peaceful competition" with the West: 


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"We say to the representatives of the capitalist world: 
. 'You are for the development of capitalism. We are for 
socialism- We do not want to impose our institutions on 
youj but we will not allow you to interfere in our affairs- 
Therefore,, there is only one way open to us — peaceful 
competition.'" 1^3 / 

The Soviet softening, taken with the U.K. position^ plus Diem's success 
ful elections in March^ 1956^ seemed to write off action by the Geneva 
powers^ and evidently caused serious reconsideration by the lao Dong 
leaders. On 2k April 1956^ Ho Chi Minh issued a statement reporting 
on the Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee of the lao Dong Party, 
in which; in Hanoi's ca. I96O version^ he held that: 

"... We have grasped the great significance of the 
Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 
This Congress has: 

"Analyzed the new situation prevailing in the world, and 
pointed out the new conditions favorable to the preservation 
of peace and the advance toward socialism by the Revolutionary 
Parties of the working class and the laboring people; 

"Clearly shown the Soviet Union's victorious road^ 
giving us still greater enthusiasm and making us believe still 
more strongly in the invincible forces of the Soviet Union, 
the bastion of revolution and of world peace; 

"Pointed out the tasks of the Communist Party in the 
ideological and organizational fields. The Congress 
particularly emphasized the application of Marxist-Leninist 
principles to collective leadership and opposed the cult of 
the individual. 

"While recognizing that war may be averted, we must be 
vigilant to detect the warmongers' schemes; for as long as 
imperialism exists, the danger of war still exists. 

"While recognizing that in certain countries the road 
to socialism may be a peaceful one, we should be aware of 
this fact: In countries vrhere the machinery of state, the 
armed forces, and the police of the bourgeois class are 
still strong, the proletarian class still has to prepare for 
armed struggle. 

"While recognizing the possibility of reunifying Viet-Nam 
by peaceful means, we should always remeraber that oar 
people's principal enemies are the American imperialists and 
their agents who still occupy half our coLintry and are 

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preparing for war; therefore,, ve should firmly hold aloft 
the banner of peace and enhance our vigilance." 15^/ 


The text of this statement reported by U.S. intelligence at the time^ 
however^ had Ho coupling his statement that "the enemies of our people ■ 
still occupy one half of our national territory and are preparing for 
war . . •" with the ominous assertion that the DRV must "be in a 
position to change the form of the struggle ..." Moreover^ Truong 
Chinhj the Party First Secretary^ was reported to have addressed the 
notion that "peaceful unification" of Vietnam might be "illusory and 
reformist." I55/ 

In May the Soviet Co-chairman of the Geneva Conference 
signed the letter calling upon the two Vietnams to observe the AccordS; 
but in effect committing the Geneva powers and ICC to status quo in 
Vietnam. At this j-uncture^ the DRV appeared resigned to partition for 
the foreseeable future^ as evidenced in the public letter of I9 June 
1956 from Ho Chi Minh to the restive regroupees^ in which he undertook 
to explain and defend a "socialism in one country" strategy (see 
supra ^ p. 2k) ^ but stressed that "the present political struggle is a 
stage in our national democratic revolution • . • in the present 
political struggle^, as in the Revolution and the Resistance^ our com- 
patriots in the South are in the vanguard^ closely imited and struggling 
heroically and perseveringly, " 1^6 / As the deadlines for the Geneva 
Elections (July^ 1956) approached, NVA troops were drawn back from the 
Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam to defensive positions; DRV diplomats 
wooed the neutral nations in search of support^ openly advocating 
neutralization of Southeast Asia. Captured orders to Party cadre in 
South Vietnam stressed "an ideology of lying low for a long time ..." 


The Geneva deadline passed uneventfully^ the DRV by July 
being well jjnpressed with the futility of looking to the Conference for 
aid. Ho's Pravda article of 2 August I956 underscored the DRV's rejec- 
tion of a go-it-alone strategy, and its continued fealty to the Bloc 
led by the Soviets. I58 / 

2 . Internal Dissent and Rea sse ssment: Summer, 195 6 -- Pall, 1957 

By raid-1956, the Lao Dong Party leaders faced at home 
not only a crisis of confidence over their foreign policy failure, but 
the serious threat to internal security arising from reaction to the 
Land Reform Campaign. To stem deterioration of public morale. Ho 
announced on I8 August 1956 the "successful completion" of I^nd Refoim, 
admitting to "errors" by the Party, and closing his statement with an 
appeal for unity under the Fatherland Front: 

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"Unity is our invincible force. In order to consolidate 
the North into a solid base for the struggle to reunify our 
country-, our entire people should be closely and videly united 
on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance in the Viet-Nam 
Fatherland Front. It is all the more necessary for veteran 
and new cadres of the Party and Government to assume identity 
of ideas^ to be united and single-minded; and to compete to 
serve the people." 159/ " ' 

All through the fall of I956; with the Party and the 
government under patent stress^, the public statements of the I50 
Dong leaders reiterated the theme. At the Tenth Plenum of the Central 
Committee of the Party^ in late October, 195^, Truong Chinh, as the 
proponent of Land Reform, was publicly sacrificed to "rectification of 
errors" and to national unity. Vo Nguyen Giap's confessional at the 
Tenth Plenum took place on 27 October 1956, the day after Diem promul- 
gated the new Constitution of the Republic of South Vietnam and took 
office as its first president. North Vietnam's peasant uprisings in 
November further deepened the contrast between North and South, much 
to the DRV's disadvantage internationally. After a fence-mending 
December, the DRV summoned its National Assembly for one of its rare 
sessions. The Asse_mbly took cognizance that "the struggle for unity 
would be long and difficult," and that "consolidation" of the North 
would have to take priority; on 22 January 1957 it passed a resolution 
stating that: 

"The National Assembly confirms that in 195^^ the work of 
strengthening the North and struggling for national reuiiifica- 
tion was crovmed with great successes, though errors and short- 
comings still existed in some work. Our successes are funda- 
mental, and will certainly be developed. Our errors and short- 
comings are few and temporary, and will certainly be rem_oved, 
and are nov^ in the process of being overcome." 16O/ 

The LJational Assembly adjourned on 25 January 1957 j» the 
day after the Soviets proposed admitting North and South Vietnam to 
the United Nations as separate, sovereign states ---a move concerning 
which the DRV evidently had no warning, and which probably dates the 
nadir of DRV fortunes post- Geneva. I6I / Ho Chi Minh promptly denounced 
the Soviet action in a message to the UN, but at no time was the DRV 
more isolated. 

■ It was about this period that mounting dissatisfaction 
with the Party leaders in South Vietnam, began to be felt in Hanoi. 
Prisoners and docuPxients attest that Le Duan, the Lao Dong chieftain 
in South Vietnam, had lost faith in "political struggle" as early as 
1955; one source reported that it v;as Le Duan's view that Hanoi was 
"wasting time," and that the Diem government shoiild be "forcibly 


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overthrown" as soon as possible if the DRV were to expect to "succeed 
in gaining control of South Vietnam." l62/ In February^ 195^^ Le Duan 
is reported to have conferred with southern leaders on tactics^ and 
concluded that "military pressure" was essential for reunification. 
He is alleged to have called for a military campaign in the Highlands^ 
and a revitalizing of the Communist Party apparatus in the South. 
There is some evidence of his having published these views in a book 
in late I956. Hanoi^ preoccupied with internal problems^ was in no 
position to act on such proposals^ but it could not ignore the "mood 
of skepticism and nonconfidence" -- as a southern communist later 
described it -- pervading the South. 

Sometime in early 195T Le Duan returned to Hanoi from South 
Vietnam to assume a key role in Jjao Dong policy formulation. In any 
events Ho Chi Minh evidently deferred to southern sentiment when on 
15 February I957 he applauded the "appeal of the Supreme Soviet of 
the USSR on the banning of atomic weapons and on reduction of armament^ " 
reaffirmed the DRV's similar devotion to peace^ but went on to note that: 

"The National Assembly has discussed the question of 
national reunification. The struggle waged by our people 
. for this purpose is long and difficult but will certainly 
be victorious. To achieve national reunif ication,, all our 
people must unite closely _, make further efforts to con- 
solidate the North and make it a basis for national libera- 
tion. Our deputies have voiced the iron will of our 
people in the work of national' reunification. The National 
Assembly has many a time v/armly welcomed the firm and con- 
sistent combat iveness of our compatriots in the South. . . 

"... the National Assembly has called on our com- 
patriots throughout the country and residing abroad and on 
our People's Army to unite closely in their struggle^ con- 
solidate the North;, maintain and extend the struggle waged in 
the South_j and strengthen our international solidarity. 

"The National Assembly has appealed to our compatriots 
in the South to struggle perseveringly and to strengthen their 
will for national reunification and independence. 'No force 
can hamper the determination of our people for unity and 
fraternal love.' ... 

■ "We are duty-bound to unite and struggle in order to carry 
into practice the decisions of the National Assembly^ imple- 
ment the policies and political lines of the Party and Govern- 
ment^ speed up the tasks set for this year^ increase production^ 
practice savings^ consolidate the Norths and unite the 
people throughout the country on the basis of the program of the 
Fatherland Front for the struggle for national reunification." 163/ 

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The U.S. is not well informed on how the Lao Dong leaders 
decided which to pursue of the several policy courses open to them^ 
but there is evidence that the developing of consensus took several 
turnings. There appeared to be at first a move led by Ho and Giap 
toward strengthening DRV ties with the Soviets, crowned with some 
immediate success. On 28 February 1957 the m General Assembly 
recommended to the Security Council that South Vietnam (and South 
Korea) be admitted to the UN. l6k / In early May, Diem paid a state 
visit to the U.S., where he received assurances of continued strong 
U.S. support. 165/ Whatever its reasons, the Soviet thereupon took a 
position against the admission to the UN of South Vietnam, and on 
20 May 1957^ Marshal Klment E. Voroshilov, President of the Praesidiiom 
of the Supreme Soviet, arrived in Hanoi for a state visit billed in 
DRV newspapers as a "most important event." 166/ It then appears 
that Truong Chinh and other Sinophile leaders pressed hard for 
orientation toward Peking. Amid evidence of haste and confusion. Ho 
left the country to visit East Europe in July, 1957j, returning after 
stops in Moscow and Peking on 30 August 1957- Ho was in Moscow in 
July when Khrushchev expelled Malenkov, Molotov, and Kaganovich -- 
the anti-party group -- from the Praesidium of the CPSU, and probably 
gained some first hand insight into the ideas of the new, leaders. 167/ 
In his absence, the DRV signed a new economic agreement with the CPR, 
and on his return, he appears to have been plunged into a power 
struggle of some proportions. Ho Chi Minh issued a statement on 
2 September I957 that the government of South Vietnam had to respect 
the desire of its people for reunification, and averred that his 
European trip demonstrated a "complete unity of views" with fraternal 
countries and that the trip had "splendid" results. 168 / Also in 
September, Le Duan was formally admitted to the Politburo. In late 
October or early November, Ho left, somewhat mysteriously, for Moscow. 
Although Hanoi newspapers had announced a six week long fete in honor 
of the ^Oth anniversary of Russia's October Revolution, the actual 
celebrations were limited to a few, sicaple events, and handled low-key 
by the DRV and its press. Such speeches as were recorded had distinct' 
Maoist overtones. Truong Chinh re-emerged from eclipse as the principal 
party spokesman, while Giap dropped from sight. Le Duan also went to 
Moscow, but returned without Ho Chi Minh. Then, in- late December, amid 
rmors that Ho and Giap were dead, both reappeared in Hanoi, and resumed 
their former position. I69/ In I958, the Soviets replaced the CPR as 
the DRV's prime aid donor. 

In subsequent years, Lao Dong Party historians identified 
the meetings in Moscow in the fall of 1957 as one of the pivotal events 
in the modern history of Vietnam. Western corrjraentators have focused 
on Khrushchev's speech in which he pointed out that capitalism was 
doomed but that, "the only correct path in the development of inter- 
national relations is a policy of peaceful coexistence . . .We work ' 
from the premise that wars are not necessary to advance socialism ..." 170/ 

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But DRV attention has been directed to the Moscow Declaration of 1957^ 
embodied in the "Commimique on the Conference of Representatives of 
Coinmuxiist and Workers Parties of Socialist Countries/' which took 
quite a different line: 

"The communist and workers parties are faced with 
great historic tasks ... In present day conditions in 
a n-umber of capitalist countries^ the working class has 
the possibility ... to unite the majority of the people^ 
when state power without civil war can ensure the transfer 
of basic means of production to the hands of the people . . . 
/However/ in conditions in which the exploiting classes 
resort to violence against the "people^ it is necessary to 
bear in mind another possibility — nonpeaceful transition 
to socialism. Leninism teaches and history confirms that the 
ruling classes never relinguish power voluntarily. In these 
conditions the severity and forms of class struggle will 
depend not so much on the proletariat as on the resistance 
of the reactionary circles to the will of the overwhelming 
majority of the people^ on the use of force by these 
circles at one or another stage of the struggle for 
socialism. " I71 / 

The congruence of this Declaration with He's Aprils 1956,, statement 
to the Ninth Plenum of the 1b.o Dong Party Central Committee ( supra ^ 
46-47) and with the rhetoric Hanoi had been using to condemn Diem^ 
seems more than coincidental. Le Duan returned from Moscow ahead of 
Ho to present the results to the lao Dong leaders^ and issued on 
7 December I957 a public statement that the Declaration: 

"... not only confirmed the line and created 
favorable conditions for North Vietnam to advance toward 
socialism^ but has also shown the path of struggle for 
national liberation and has created favorable conditions 
for the revolutionary movement in South Vietnam." 17£/ 

" Some authorities have viewed the "crisis of 195T" within 

the Lao Dong leadership as a clash of factions over whether to align 
with the bellicose Mao (^ro Truong Chinh^ Nguyen Duy Trinh) or remain 
loyal to the temporizing Soviets (pro Ho and Giap). 173 / P- J* Honey^ 
for example^ found it significant that even Mao acknowledged Soviet 
leadership at the 1957 Moscow Conference^ and notes that in February^ 
19^8^ the spokesman for the DRV National Assembly's Political Sub- 
^ committee announced that: 

"CXir firm international position is to stand in the 
socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union. . . This position 
proceeds from our people's fundamental interests and from 

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the requirements of North Vietnam ^s advance towards 

socialism," 17^/ 


Honey deprecated contrary statements issued by Hanoi about the same 
time -- e.g*^ that the WA would "always stand ready by the side of 
the CPR in its struggle to recover Quemoy and Matsu^ and to liberate 
Taiwan. . ." — and thought that: 

"It is very probable^ although not a scrap of evidence 
has so far come to light which would corroborate it_, that 
Ho Chi Minh was secretly reassuring the Soviet leaders^ 
explaining that North Vietnam was supporting China only 
with empty words ^ while her actions proved that she had 
not been taken in by Maoist innovations." 175/ 

D. S. Zagoria interpreted the DRV strategy debate as 
less a dispute over external relations than over internal priorities: 
"The crucial local issue has resolved around the relative priority to 
be assigned to economic development of the North and struggle in the 
South." He concluded that "pro-Soviet" view prevailed simply because 
"between 1957 and 1960^ northern leaders agreed on the need to concen- 
trate on economic development." 17 6 / 

Proponents of both interpretations conclude that Hanoi's 
predilection for the USSR was ipso facto a deferral of support for 
the insurgency in the South. But the evidence supports a third 
interpretation. 'It is quite possible that the DRV leaders sought and 
won Soviet support because they found it impossible amicably to set 
priorities between internal and external national objectives. It seems 
evident that only the Soviets could offer the wherewithal to pursue 
both sets of goals simultaneously^ and it is possible that the Ibo 
Dong leaders opted for "guns and butter" rather than "socialism in 
one country." The apparent harmony among the pro-China and pro-Russia 
"factions" by early I958 bespeaks such a compromise solution. Of course^ 
serious doubt remains whether the Soviets would have valued DRV fealty 
high enough to pay the price^ yet it seems that such could have been 
the case. The new DRV-USSR understanding reached during 1957 definitely 
included the extension of material aid which North Vietnam needed for 
its economic advancement. It evidently also included Soviet concurrence 
in a more adventuresome policy toward reunification. Whether or not 
specific DRV advances upon South Vietnam were countenanced^ it is 
evident that the DRV leaders had obtained Soviet recognition that North 
Vietnam's circumstances placed it outside the range of strategic and 
doctrinal considerations which had lead Khrushchev^ et al._, into 
"peaceful competition" and "peaceful coexistence." 

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3. Preparations: Winter, 19^8 — Springy 19^9 - In the 
autumn of 1957^ and throughout I958, violence in rural South Vietnam 
mounted, and increasingly manifested strategic direction. There is, ■ 
however, only sparse evidence that North Vietnam was directing, or 
was capable of directing that violence. Yet even had the DRV determined 
in late 1957 to support insurgency in South Vietnam, there probably 
would have been little sign of that decision in 1958^ so soon after it 
had been reached. The Lao Dong leaders were possibly the most experienced 
and dedicated group of professional revolutionaries in the world -- and 
probably the most cautious. Perhaps more than any other such group, the 
North Vietnamese coiomunists had subjected their past to intense and 
objective scrutiny, striving to detect errors in strategy and tactics, 
and to derive lessons applicable to the future. The writings of Ho, 
Giap, Truong Chinh, and others have revealed that they were by no 
means satisfied that they had always made correct choices in the past 
on questions of war or peace. The salient lesson they have drawn is 
that premature revolution is significantly worse than no revolution' 
at all, and they have repeatedly cited the abortive uprisings of I93O 
and 19^0 as cases in point. In both instances, amorphous, mainly 
spontaneous insurrection lead to failiore, and then to reprisals and 
heavy losses among exposed middle and lower echelon Party leaders, 
which set back Party progress several years. 

The 19^0 rebellion has seemed particularly poignant to 
DRV commentators. When the Japanese invaded Tonkin in September, 19^0, 
the Jjidochinese Communist Party, together with other Vietnamese national- 
ists, elected violent resistance.. Demonstrations took place throughout 
the countiy. Ho Chi Minh was at the time in Kuming, with the TCP 
"External Bureau." He and his colleagues there counseled their in- 
country counterparts against proceeding beyond demonstrations, but the 
ardor of local leaders could not be dampened. In November, 19^0, 
peasants in the Plain of Reeds took up arms, and there was shortly a 
series of peasant jacquerie, which spread throughout the Mekong Delta. 
As Ho, et al., had predicted, the uprising failed and the French 
administration in Saigon launched a savage repression which virtually 
destroyed the ICP organization in rural Cochinchina. 177 / 

In May, 19J^1, at the Eighth Plenum of the ICP Central 
Committee, there was an exhaustive review of the 19^0 debacle, and a 
re-direction of party effort toward forming an alliance of all social 
classes and political parties, nationalist movements, religious sects, 
and anti-Japanese resistance groups. Social reform and comm-unist 
slogans were de-emphasized. All the resources of the Party were to be 
thrown behind a new front grou.p which would carry out the Party 
strategy; that group vras the League for Independence of Vietnam, or 
the Viet Minh. I78 / Again and again thereafter, communist leaders in 
their speeches and published works have returned to the lessons of the 
abortive revolt and the Eighth Plenimi: never squander Party grassroots 


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organizations in futile causes; submerge the Party in a broader cause^ 
behind a national front. 

The example of successfiol revolution most often held out 
by DRV leaders has been the "August Revolution" of 19^+5- The official 
DRV history points out that this uprising was successful because^ 
under Party leadership^ there had been: (l) a careful preparing of the 
people in both ideology and organization^ including the training of 
cadres^ the build-up of bases of resistance^ and the organization of 
armed forces — peoples' war^ peoples' army; (2) a seizing of the 
right opportunity; (3) "launching the revolutionary high tide of the 
whole people" -- meaning the forming of a "national front" organization 
which could command the support of the majority of the people^ including 
"all classes^ nationalities^ and religions"; (h) a skillful combining 
of military and political "struggle" — that is, the employment of both 
forms of revolutionary endeavor, and the gradual shift in emphasis 
from political to military methods; (5) dividing the enemy by proselyting. 
his armed forces, civil service, and citizenry. 179 / The first two 
lessons, on preparation for and careful timing of revolution, have 
received particular stress. Party history is accurate: Ho Chi Minh 
carefu2.1y husbanded his forces and waited for the moment to strike. 
Virtually all the energies of the Viet Minh from 19^3 through the 
spring of 19^5 were devoted to the patient development of a political 
infrastructure in rural areas, and the building of gl^errilla strong- 
holds in the mountains adjacent to China. Ho permitted his armed 
forces to begin systematic guerrilla warfare only after the Japanese 
set up an independent Vietnam under Bao Dai in March, 19^5- Even then, 
however, he used them sparingly. There was supposed to have been a 
Viet Minh conference in June, 19^5, to signal the "general uprising," 
but Ho Chi Minh delayed convening of this conference because he was 
convinced that uprising would be premature- Although DRV histories 
do not say so, there is, in fact, every indication that when the 
"August Revolution" was launched, it came not as a conscientious, 
coordinated effort controlled by Ho and his lieutenants, but as 
another more or less spontaneous rebellion. 180/ Confronted with the 
prospect of being a bystander while others won victory, Ho hastily 
convened the deferred conference on I6 August 19^5, and formally com- 
mitted the Viet Minh to the overthrow of Bao Dai and the expulsion of 
the French and Japanese. Within three weeks, the independence of the 
DRV was proclaimed, and Ho was installed in Hanoi as its president. 

One example DRV historians do not often cite is the 
inception of the long and ruinous Resistance War which began in 
December, 19^6. From all appearances, the DRV leaders still entertain 
serious doubts over the wisdom of going to war against France at that 
juncture. There is evidence that the incidents which opened the war 
in December, 19^6, had not been condoned by Ho, and that he re-committed 
the Viet Minh to military action only reluctantly, and after events 
had issued their own dictimi. Moreover, commimist literature on the 
Resistance War of I9U5-I95U abounds with reproach for local leaders 

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lamching too-venturesome^ costly enterprises without proper prepara- 
tion. Even top leaders were not immune to criticism on that score; 
e.g. J Le Duan was apparently relieved of command over COSVN in late 
1952 or 1953 for pressing too fast and hard. I81/ From the highest 
strategic level to the lowest tactical level, Vietnamese communist 
] doctrine underscores the essentiality of careful preparatory work, 

' and the criticality of timing initial overt operations. 182 / It is 

I not likely, then, that a decision to proceed toward the reunification 

of Vietnam by force was lightly taken by the Lao Dong leaders; it 
I would in any event have countenanced extensive, painstaking, covert 

i groundwork. . 

Such preliminary efforts might have been the refurbishing 
of the Communist Party in South Vietnam, which had been seriously 
weakened by Diem's persistent Communist Denunciation Campaign. It seems 
probable that, whenever they were started, the initial steps of thq 
DRV were directed to reinvigorating the Lao Dong apparatus in the 
South. For this purpose it would have needed relatively few cadre -- 
for instance, with 400 men, the Lao Dong could have dispatched 10 
organizers to each of South Vietnam's provinces. From all indications, 
organizers were sent South in I958; the numbers are not known. Similarly, 
in all likelihood the DRV would have looked to base preparations. ^Again 
evidence is scanty, but there were definite indications that guerrilla 
secure-areas were being prepared in the Highlands, in the Plain of 
.Reeds, and in the War Zone C - War Zone D region north of Saigon. I83./ 


There are also indications, however, that debate over 
strategy continued through I958. Reports captured while being for- 
warded via lao- Dong channels from South Vietnam to Hanoi indicate that 
some subordinates there clung to the belief that the Diem regime could 
be toppled without recourse to guerrilla warfare, and that others 
despaired of success without substantial militaiy aid from the North. 
There is also evidence throughout I958 that Viet Cong tactics were 
being subjected to careful study in Hanoi. I8U/ 


Whatever preparations were in progress during 1958, in 
December, I958, or January, 1959, Hanoi apparently decided that the 
time had come to intensify its efforts. On December 1, there was an 
incident at a "political re-education camp" north of Saigon -- the 
"Phu Loi Massacre" — which the DRV promptly seized upon to laionch 
a worldwide propaganda offensive against Diem. U.S. intelligence came 
into possession of a directive from Hanoi to its subordinate head- 
quarters in Inter-Sector V during December, 1958; which stated that 
the Lao Dong Party Central Committee had decided to "open a new stage 
of the struggle" I85 /; the following month, January, 1959; U-S. sources 
also acquired an order directing a Viet Cong build-up in Tay Mnh 
province to provide a base for guerrilla operations; the same order 
mentioned similar bases in the mountains of western Ihter-Sector V. I86/ 

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In February^ Viet Cong guerrillas successfully attacked a GVN outpost 
near Trang Sup^ in Tay Ninh;, and Diem told a French correspondent 
that "at the present time Vietnam is a nation at war," George Carver 
has recorded that in late I958 or early 1959^ Le Duan journeyed to 
South Vietnam for an on-the-spot appraisal of affairs there^ and that 
his report lead to a DRV decision to step up support of the insurgency. 

"Consolidation of the North" proceeded apace during 1958. 
Societal discipline advanced to the point that by early 1959 the land 
reform campaign -- under a different name -- vas re-initiated without 
difficulty. 18t / Crops were good, and economic prospects in both the 
agricultural and industrial sectors were excellent. I88 / In January^ 
1959^ the DRV contracted with the Soviet Union for a 5O/0 increase in 
trade; and in February another large loan was negotiated with the. 
CPR. 189 / Against this background of domestic success — progress and 
plenty within North Vietnam — and of international finesse -- coopera- 
tion with both the great communist powers without domination by either -- 
the DRV implemented the next step in its strategy. 

h. Taking the Offensive: Spring, 1959 - Fall, I96O . 
a. Surfacing the Strategy, 1959 

However the DRV privately viewed the war in South 
Vietnam during I959 and 1960, the public statements of its leaders were 
aggressive. If the numbers of infiltrators and the am^ount of supplies 
dispatched to the South were insignificant or ixnimpressive to the 
beleaguered insurgents, the pose adopted by the Lao Dong principals 
must have greatly enheartened insurgents in South Vietnam. 

On h April 1959, President Eisenhower, in an address 
at Gettysburg, declared that South Vietnam could not, without U.S. aid, 
%eet the dual threat of aggression from without and subversion within 
its borders." He stated that U.S. national interests compelled the U.S. 
to help South Vietnam sustain its morale, economic .progress, and military 
strength. I90/ On 30 April 1959, Pham Van Dong applauded Khrushchev's 
rejoinder to President Eisenhower as follows: 

"Comrade Khrushchev's strong statement was a powerful blow 
to the US mperialists aggressive bloc. The Vietnamese people 
are very grateful to the Soviet Union, head of the socialist 
camp, for its constant sympathy for and support to their 
righteous struggle for nationa]. reun.ificrtion. Comrade 
Khrushchev's statement powerfully encourages our people to 
enthusiastically build North Viet-Nam and advance gradually 
toward socialism and to struggle for national reunification . . . 

"Just as observed by Comrade Khrushchev, the intervention by 
US .imperialism in South Viet-Nam is the cause of the continued 
partition of Viet-Nam . . . The struggle for the reunification 

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of our country is still meeting with difficulties and 
hardships^ but we are confident that the Vietnamese people . . . 
will certainly triumph in the complete liberation of our 
|, country from the US-Diem clique's dictatorial yoke just as 

I they had gloriously succeeded in their valiant struggle in the 

past. The American imperialists and their lackeys_j who are 
being opposed and isolated,, surely will not be able to avoid the 
I ignominious defeat of those who go counter to the march of 

history." I91/ 

Ho Chi Minh's May Day speech of I959 opened with an encomium from the 
Soviet Union^ China ^ and other socialist powers who were promoting the 
, movement for national liberation in Asia^ Africa^ and Latin America. 

According to the Hanoi Radio report^ Ho pointed out "that the earnest 
desire of the Vietnamese people from North to South is peace and 
national reunification. On orders from the U.S. imperialists the 
South Vietnamese authorities are sabotaging the implementation of the 
Geneva Accords and strangling all democratic freedom of the southern 
people." Ho concluded on the note that: 

"Under the leadership of the Viet-Nam Lao Dong Party 
and the government^ all our people will further strengthen 
solidarity and unity of mind with other countries in the 
socialist camp^ headed by the great Soviet Union ... 
/and/ strengthen solidarity within the national united 
front . . . By so doing the north of our country will 
steadily advance toward socialism as a strong basis 
toward victory in the struggle for national reunification." 

On h May I959, the official DRV newspaper declared that: 

"The glorious South Vietnamese people surely will 
not remain with folded arms before the continuous and 
cruel repressive acts of the U.S. -Diem clique'. The ■ 
Vietnamese people have many times compelled their enemies to 
pay for their bloody crimes. The U.S.-Diem clique has by its 
own will contracted a big debt of blood toward, the Vietnamese 
people, and have d\ig their own graves." 

The foregoing were issued while the Lao Dong Party 
conducted the Fifteenth Plenum (Enlarged Session) of its Central 
Committee in Hanoi. The session featured speeches on foreign and 
domestic programs, but it is fairly certain that a Plenum of the lao 
Dong Central Committee is not a debating society nor a parliament -- 
decisions were not reached there, they were presented. 

On 13 May I959, Hanoi broadcast in English the com- 
munique of the Lao Dong Party Central Coiiimittee; on the Plenum, a 
bellicose tone was unmistakable: 

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"The Central Committee of the Vietnam Lao Dong 
Party has held its 15th enlarged session to review the 
developments in the struggle for national reunification 
and lay down the tasks for the whole party and people 
in connection with that struggle ... 

"North Vietnam^ now completely liberated^ has 
carried through its task of national people's democratic 
revolution and is cariying out the socialist revolution 
and building socialism. This is an extremely important 
change which determines the direction of development of 
the Vietnamese revolution in the new stage. Meanwhile, 
the southern part of oiir country is still under the domination 
of the American imperialists and their lackey -- Ngo Dinh 
Diem. They have turned South Vietnam into a nev^-type 
colony and a military base for preparing war . . . 

"The interventionist policy of the U.S. imperialists 
and the South Vietnam authorities' policy of dependence 
on the United States have undermined and deliberately 
continue to imdemiine the implementation of the Geneva 
agreements and the cause of peaceful national reunifica- 
tion, thus cutting across the desire and interests of 
the Vietnamese people. The U.S. imperialists and their 
followers are scheming to perpetuate the division of our 
country and prepare a new war. 

"To carry out this perfidious scheme, over the past few 
years the U.S. -Diem clique has been actively increasing its 
military forces, carrying out a policy of ruthless exploita- 
tion of the people, abolishing all democratic functions, 
repressing and terrorizing the people in a most barbarous 
manner, causing ever more serious dislocation of the South 
Vietnamese economy, and making the life of local people 
more and more precarious and wretched ... 

"To achieve national reunification on the basis of 
independence and democracy, the session mapped out the 
following tasks: the entire people will unite and strive 
to struggle for national reunification on the basis of 
independence and democracy to endeavor to consolidate the 
North and actively take it step by step tov/ard socialism, 
to build a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic, 
prosperous and strong Vietnam; and to contribute to the 
safeguarding of peace in Southeast Asia and the world. 

"The session expressed its unshakable belief that our 
whole people, uniting and struggling heroically and 


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perseveringly^ will certainly smash the U.S. imperialists' 
scheme to seize our land and their lackeys' plot to sell 
out our country. On the basis of the consolidation of 
North Vietnam and its steady development in all fields, of 
the broad and powerful development of the patriotic move- 
ment in the South, and will the approval and support of the 
peace loving people all over the world, our struggle for 
national reunification will certainly be successful." 

The following day the official press carried an editorial (also broad- 
cast by Radio Hanoi in English) commenting on the communique: 

"At present, the world and home situation has become 
basically different from that of the past. It has been 
developing in a way which is fully advantageous to our 
people and very disadvantageous to the imperialists and 
their lackeys. Our strength in all fields in the North, 
which is the firm base for the revolutionary struggle 
in the South, has constantly been consolidated and 
increased. The magnificently heroic struggle of the 
southern people has constantly developed and their united 
strength has broadened without a halt. Strength in all 
fields of the socialist camp has grown majestically. 

"On the basis of an unprecedently firm North Vietnam 
and socialist camp, our compatriots in the south will 
struggle resolutely and persistently against the cruel 
U.S. -Diem regime . • , 

"Our people, always cherishing peace, are determined 
to stru-ggle to compel the other side to carry out correctly 
the Geneva agreements, to re-establish normal North-South 
, relations and to hold consultations on general elections to 
reunify the country. However, our people are determined 
not to give the imperialists and feudalists a free hand to 
oppose our people's aspirations and to keep the southerners 
in slavery. Our people are detennined to struggle with their 
traditional heroism by all necessary forms and measures so as 
to achieve the goal of the revolution." 

On 10 July 1959^ the Belgian Communist publication Red Flag published 
an article under Ho Chi Minh's by-line which reported that; 


"We are building socialism in Viet-Ntm, but we are 
building it in only one part of the country, while in the 
other part we still have to direct and bring to a close 
middle-class democratic and anti-imperialist revolution." 19^/ 



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On 8 July 1959^ "the United States armed forces sustained the first 
combat deaths in the war: two U.S. servicemen were killed by a 
terrorist bomb inside a U.S. compound at Bien Hoa. Other Viet Cong 
terrorist activities mounted to new levels of intensity. In the 
fall of 1959j as recounted above^ communist guerrillas began to 
attack openly units of the Army of Vietnam^ and to occupy province 
and district capitals for short periods. 193/ On 12 September 1959^ 
Premier Pham Van Dong told the French Consul in Hanoi^ that: ' 

"You must remember^ we will be in Saigon tomorrow^ 
we will be in Saigon tomorrow." 19^ / 

In November^ 1959^ Pham Van Dong twice told Canadian ICC Commissioner 
Ericks en-Brown that "we will drive the Americans in the sea" — state- 
ments deemed significant enough by the Lao Dong hierarchy to elicit a ■ 
visit from General Giap to "reassure" Ericks en-Brown of the DRV's 
peaceful intent. 195/ 

But the U.S. and Diem were both inured to threatening 
communist invective; what should have been more ominous was the DRV*s 
willingness to act^ first evident in Labs. 

b. DRV I ntervention in Laos 

During the Eirst Indochina War^ 19^5"195^^ a nominally 
independent national movement developed in I^aos^ the paramilitary 
Pathet Lao ^ and its political arm^ the Lao Fatherland Front ( Neo Lao 
Hak Xat ) ~196 / It was quite clear^ however^ that the Viet Minh -- and 
the Lao Dong Party — dominated the Resistance in Laos; in fact_, the 
Viet Minh negotiated the Geneva settlement on behalf of its Laotian 
allies. After the Accords were signed^ some Laotians were regrouped 
to North Vietnam itself^ and like the South Vietnamese^ were formed 
into NVA uxLits. In 195^-1955^ the DRV openly assisted the Pathet Lao 
in consolidating political and military strength in Phong Saly and 
Sam Neua^ two provinces on Laos' northeast border with North Vietnam^ 
designated as regroupment zones by the Geneva Agreements. 197/ U.S. 
intelligence obtained evidence that DRV cadres remained in these 
provinces follov/ing regroupment^ some as advisors,, but some occupying 
key political and administrative positions in the Pathet Lao and Neo 
Lao Hak Xat. Captured documents indicate that a North Vietnamese head- 
quarters for this effort was set up in laos^ with the following missions 
assigned from Hanoi: 

(1) implementation of the truce and the political 

(2) establishment and training of the Laotian 
(Communist) Party; 

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) ! 

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(3) assistance in fiscal matters; and 

(k) improvement of Pathet Lao military forces. 

A captured report to Hanoi^ probably from this head- 
quarters^ indicated that by I956 the Laotian Communist Party had 
expanded from less than 100 to more than 2^000 members^ and that a 
light infantry^ guerrilla force of more than fifteen battalions had been 
created. Apparently^ Hanoi had planned to withdraw the Vietnamese cadre 
in late 1956^ and there is evidence that some withdrawals took place by 
early 1957; there is also evidence that most DRV cadre remained. However^ 
in 1957^ with the aid of the ICC, a political settlement was reached. 
Two battalions of Pathet Lao surrendered to the Royal Laotian Govern- 
ment (RLG), to be incorporated into its army, and the Pathet Lao agreed 
to demobilize 5,000 other troops. Two officials of the Lao Fatherland 
Front were admitted to the Royal Laotian Government, and the movement 
ostensibly integrated into the national community. 

During I958 and early 1959; the Royal Laotian Govern- 
ment became increasingly pro-Western, and DRV activities in laos were 
evidently attenuated. However, in May, 1959; when the Royal Laotian 
Army (RLA) attempted to disestablish its two Pathet Lao battalions, 
one escaped and marched for the DRV. DRV reaction was quick. Ijnme- 
diately thereafter U.S. intelligence was reliably informed that a 
militaiy headquarters similar to the Viet Minh's Dien Bien Phu command \^ 
post had been set up near the Laos border to control operations in Laos 
by the NVA 335th Division, which had been formed from the "Lao Volunteers" 
regrouped to the DRV in 1955. I98/ From mid-1959 onwards, the U.S. 
acquired convincing evidence of an increasing DRV military involvement . 
in Laos, and beginning in late I96O, of USSR entry into the conflict 
with substantial military aid for the Pathet Lao. The Pathet Lao aided 
by a severe weakening of the RLG from a neutralist coup by Kong Le in 
1961, and a counter coup by right-wing forces in 19^2, mounted an 
offensive against the RLG to expand Pathet Lao controlled territory, 
which continued through a "cease-fire" of May, 196l- 

It was not, however, until December, I96O, that the DRV 
announced to foreign diplomats resident in Hanoi its decision to inter- 
vene in I^os; dirring I96I the DRV presence in Laos was transformed from 
a semi-covert MAAG-like londertaking to an operational theater. Beginning 
in December, I96O, and throughout I96I and early 19^2, Soviet aircraft 
flew 2,000 to 3,000 sorties from the DRV to Ibos, delivering more than 
3,000 tons of supplies to communist forces, which expanded their terri- 
tory to hold the northern half of the country. Ethnic North Vietnamese 
appeared in Pathet Lao formations, and Kong Le hmself admitted that 
JWA officers and soldiers were serving as "technicians" with his paratroops 
North Vietnamese from MA formations were captured by RLG forces and cap- 
tured documents substantiated the presence of entire NVA units. In 
December, I96I, a convoy of Soviet-made tanks was sighted entering laos 

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from the DRV;, and shortly thereafter DRV officials formally presented 
A5 tanks to Kong Le. U.S. aerial photography identified also Soviet- 
made artillery and radar in use by the Pathet Lao. Truck convoys of 
20 to 300 vehicles were observed entering laos carrying munitions_, ^ 
rice^ motor fuel^ and MA troops. Altogether^ the combined communist 
forces demonstrated significant military superiority over the RLG 
forces. Rightist forces (under Pho-umi Nosavan)^ U.S. military aid 
notwithstanding^ were markedly uasuccessful in stemming the communist 
drive. In May^ 1961^, a truce was struck, and the conflict was carried 
into international conference; at Geneva on 23 July I962, a new 
political settlement was reached. As of that period, U.S. intelligence 
reported 12 NVA battalions in Laos, some 6,000 strong. In addition, 
3^000 MA personnel were serving with PL imits. 199/ 

The Geneva Agreement on Laos of I962 consisted of 
joint declaration by the several nations concerned with Indochina — 
"including the U.S., the DRV, and the GVE -- agreeing that -Laos would 
be neutralized: 

"All foreign regular and irregular troops, foreign para- 
military formations and foreign military personnel shall be 
withdrawn from Laos . . . the introduction of foreign regular 
and irregular troops, foreign para-military formations and 
foreign military personnel into Laos of armaments, munitions, ^ 
and war materiel generally, except such quantities as the 
Royal Government of Laos may consider necessary for the 
national defense of Laos, is prohibited ..." 

In concert with the Pathet lao, the DRV circumvented these agreements. 
Although measures were taken to conceal DRV presence and ostensibly 
to withdraw DRV forces — 40 North Vietnamese were removed under ICC 
observation — U.S. intelligence obtained good evidence, including 
a ni:miber of eye witness statements, that the bulk of the WA forces 
remained in Laos; U.S. estimates placed WA strength in Laos in early 
1963 at Ji,000 troops in 8 battalions, plus 2,000 Pathet Lao advisors. 200/ 

In any event, by late I960 the DRV could look upon 
its Laotian enterprise as successful in substantially expanding its 
sphere of Influence in Laos, to include control over the territory 
adjacent to South Vietnam over which passed its "Ho Chi Minh Trail" 
of infiltration (see map). Eventually the enterprise brought about ■ 
withdrawal of the U.S. military presence from ,Iaos, per the Geneva 
Agreement of 19b2. If the Vientiene government, braced with broad 
U.S. aid, surprised the DRV with its resiliency, it at least proved 
ixnable to challenge the Pathet Lao — and DRV — gains. I^atever the 
DRV longer term goal in Laos, reunification of Vietnam seemed there- 
after to take priority over further extension in Laos. In any event, the 
DRV succeeded in securing its Laotian frontier from U.S. or Laotian 

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Ran \ 

h y Jarres 

/ /' ^, • 'Khans .NongHet 

ru<_ '^^''^^"S Khay >-.MuongSsn 

*Xien^ -''^ ^— 

, ['.assy -^.:!t?:jG^. u-.janIT"- ' 
Heup ^■•^ S 

^/^ ^ — i'^ 

\ ytentiane f 

*Nong Khai 
r H /\ / L /l A/ D 

*Udon Thani 


Lak Sa. 



Gulf of Tonkin 

N.Vietnamese 1800 
Pethet Lao 2100 
Kong Le 900 

^ Dong Hoi 

L ^. O S 



^ '1 Area under control of anti-government forces 


(Based on evidence available as of February 1952) 
^FCRFT ^ 2 5 50 75 lO OMiies 

NOFORN 32244 

I .QuangTri 

Pha Lane*r^i'=PO'"^*--^Houei Sane ^. 
annakhet X. •Mucng V/> Hue.W 

^*^hine .J, \^ ^ 







SNIE 10-62 
21 Feb 1962 
p. 11 


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efforts to mobilize the tribal peoples against it^ and in opening 
access to South Vietnam via, the Laotian panhandle. 

It is not clear whether the DRV found it necessary 
to pressure or subvert the Cambodian government in order to bring it 
into line with its general strategy^ but align the Cambodians did. 
As in Laos, the Viet Minh had fronted for Khmer Resistance at the 
Geneva Conference of 195^^ and there is evidence that in the years 
following it supported subversive organizations in Cambodia. 
In 1958, a crisis between South Vietnam and Cambodia erupted over 
boundary disputes and border violations. Cambodia formally laid claim 
to all of Cochinchina in a declaration to the United Nations, while 
South Vietnam laid claim to off-shore islands and other nominally 
Cambodian territory. 

Beginning in I958, Cambodia declared for "neutralism, " 
and thereafter its relations with the DRV were m.arked with increasing 
cordiality and cooperativeness. E\ridence collected since -I963 indicates 
that the Viet Cong built bases adjacent to the Cambodian border, used 
sanctuary areas across it, operated trans-frontier supply routes, and 
had sources of supply within Cambodia. . Insofar as the miniinal evident 
objectives of DRV policy were concerned ~ use of Cambodian territory 
to further the campaign to reunify Vietnam -- Cambodia proved to^be 
incapable of interfering even when, apparently, it wished to police 
its territory. 20l / 

c. Explication of the Strategy, I96O 

During I958 and 1959 work had progressed on a revision 
of the DRV Constitution. On 1 January I96O, with much fanfare, the 
new basic law was promulgated. The Preamble recoimted the modern | 
history of Vietnam, in part as follows: 

"Vietnam is a single entity from Lang- Son to Camau. 

"The Vietnamese people, throughout the thousands of years 
of history, have been an industrious working people who have 
struggled unremittingly and heroically to build their country 
and defend the independence of their Fatherland . . . With the 
Dien Bien Phu victory, the Vietnamese people defeated the 
French imperialists and the U.S. interventionists . . . 

"This major success of the Vietnamese people was also a 
common success of the liberation movement of the oppressed 
■peoples, of the world front of peace, and of the socialist camp. 

"Since the restoration of peace in completely liberated 
North Viet-Nam, our people have carried through the National 
People's Democratic Revolution. But the South is still under 

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the rule of the imperialists and feudalists; our country is 
still temporarily divided into two zones ... 

"The Vietnamese revolution has moved into a new position. 
Our people must endeavor to consolidate the Norths taking it 
toward socialism^ and carry on the stmggle for peaceful reunifica- 
tion of the country and completion of the tasks of the National 
People's Democratic revolution throughout the country. 

"In the last few years^ our peoples in the North have 
achieved many big successes in economic rehabilitation and 
cultural development. At present^ socialist transformation 
and construction are being successfully carried out. 

"Meanwhile, in the South, the U.S. imperialists and their 
henchmen have been savagely repressing the patriotic movement 
of our people. They have been strengthening military forces 
and carrying out their scheme of turning the southern part of our 
country into a colony and military base for their war prepara- 
tions . . . But our southern compatriots have constantly 
struggled heroically and refused to submit to them. The 
people throughout the country, -united as one, are holding 
aloft the banners of peace, national unity, independence, 
and democracy, resolved to march forward and win final 
victory. The cause of the peaceful reunification of the 
Fatherland will certainly be victorious." 202 / 

Strangely, even so formal a statement of aiius escaped attention in the. 
West, even though the deteriorating situation in Southeast Asia had 
now become sufficiently grave to cause concern throu-ghout the world. , 
Within the U.S. Government, extensive reappraisals of U.S. policy were' 
launched. Aid to Laos was stepped- up, and the U.S. country team in 
Vietnam was directed to prepare a counter- insurgency plan for bringing 
U.S. aid more efficiently to bear the GVN's internal defense. The 
inflamed situation in Laos and South Vietnam were among the major 
international irritants toward which hopes for the Summit Conference in 
Paris in May, I96O, were directed. The breakdown of the Paris talks, 
and the subsequent hardening of relations between the United States 
and the USSR, formed the backdrop against which the Soviets moved 
into deeper commitment to support of the DRV, and the DRV into more 
open support of the insurgents in South Vietnam. 

In early September, I96O, the Lao Dong Party held its 
Third Congress, and passed the following resolution: 

"In the present stage, the Vietnamese revolution has 
two strategic tasks: first, to carry out the socialist 
revolution in North Viet-Nam; second, to liberate South 
Vietnam from the ruling yolk: of the U.S. mperialists and 

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their henchmen in order to achieve national unity and 
complete independence and freedom, throughout the country. _^ 
These two strategic tasks are closely related to each 
other and spur each other forward . * . 

"The two revolutionary tasks of the North and South 
belong to two different strategies^ each task being aimed 
at satisfying the definite requirement of each zone under 
the specific conditions of our divided comtry. But^these two 
tasks have one common aira — to achieve peaceful national 
reimification and resolve one common contradiction of our whole 
country -- the contradiction between our people and the 
imperialists and their henchmen, 

"The common task of the Vietnamese revolution at 
present is: to strengthen the unity of all the people; 
to struggle resolutely to maintain peace; to accelerate the 
socialist revolution in North Viet-Nam while at the same 
time stepping up the National People's Democratic Revolution 
in South Viet-Nam; . • . 

"The revolution in the South is a protracted^ hard^ 
and complex process of struggle^ combining many foims of 
struggle of great activity and flexibility, ranging from 
lower to higher, and taking as its basis the building, 
consolidation and development of the revolutionary power 
of the masses. During this process we must pay special 
attention to the work of organizing and educating the / 

people, first and foremost the workers, peasants and 
intellectuals, promoting to the highest degree the 
revolutionary fighting spirit of the various strata of 
our patriotic countrymen. ¥e must unceasingly expose the 
crjjninal schemes and acts of the U.S. imperialists and 
" their henchmen, doing our utmost to divide and isolate them. 

"To insure the complete success of the revolutionary 
stru.ggle in South Viet-Nam our people there must strive to 
establish a united bloc of workers, peasants, and soldiers 
and to bring into being a broad national united front 
directed against the U.S. -Diem clique and based on the 
worker-peasant alliance- This front must rally all the 
patriotic parties and religious groupings, together with 
all individuals inclined to oppose the U.S. -Diem clique. 
The aims of its struggle are peace, national independence, 
democratic freedoms, improvement of the people's living 
conditions, and peaceful national reunification. 

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"The front must carry out its work in a very flexible manner 
in order to rally all forces that can be rallied ^ win over all 
forces that can be won over, neutralize all forces that should 
be neutralized, and draw the broad masses into the general 
struggle against the US-Diem clique for the liberation of the 
South and the peaceful reunification of the fatherland. 

"The revolutionary movement in the South plays a very important 
role in relation to the reunification of the country. Simultaneously 
with the effort to build the North and advance toward socialism our 
- people must strive to maintain and develop the revolutionary forces 
in the South and create favorable conditions for peaceful national 
reunification. ..." 203/ 

Ho Chi Minh, in his speech at the Congress, attributed the "victory of the 
Vietnamese revolution" in part to the "whole-hearted assistance of the 
fraternal socialist countries, especially the Soviet Union and China." 
He identified the DRV with the world "forces of peace" and stated that 
"the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a member of the big socialist family 
headed by the great Soviet Union." 20 V Giap's speech at the Congress 
cited the example of the August, 19^5, general uprisings, noting that 
victory came because "our party kept a firm hold on the national democratic 
revolutionary line," and paid appropriate attention to preparing the people 
for their tasks. Le Duan's address stressed that: 

"The southern people's revolutionary struggle will be long, 
dra^'Tn out, and arduous. It is not a simple process but a com- 
plicated one, combining many varied forms of struggle — from \ 
elementary to advanced, legal and illegal -- and based on the 
building, consolidation and development of the revolutionary 
force of 'the masses. In this process, we must constantly intensify 
cur solidarity and the organization and education of the people of 
the South*.. and must uphold the revolutionary fighting spirit of 
all strata of patriotic compatriots." 205/ 

Le Duan also called "for a "worker-peasant-army coalition bloc," and a 
"broad national united front against the US-Diem clique." 

In a policy-cycle similar to that of 1957 — strategy 
announced around September, follov/ed by international exposure and con- 
firmation at Moscow in November — the DRV obtained at the "Conference 
of Representatives of Comraunist and Workers' Parties" held in Moscow in 
November, I96O, fairly explicit endorsement of its line of action in South 
Vietnam. As in 1957? the Moscow Declaration distinguished between war in 
general and anti-colonial wars, noting that "national-liberation revolutions 
have triumphed in vast areas of the world" and emphasized that: 

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"The complete collapse of colonialism is inevitable. The 
downfall of the system of colonial slavery under the impact of 
the national- liberation movement is a phenomenon ranking second 
in historical importance after the formation of the world system 
of socialism." 

"The United States of America is the chief bulwark of present- 
day colonialism...." 

" the working class of many capitalist countries, by over- 
coming the split in its ranks and achieving unity of action of all 
its detachments, could deliver a heavy blow to the policy of the 
ruling circles of the capitalist countries and force them to step 
up preparations for a new war, repel the offensive of monopoly 
capital, and ensure satisfaction of its vital everyday and demo- 
cratic demands." 

" The Communist Parties, guided by Marxist-Leninist teaching, 

have always been against the export of revolution. At the same time, 
they resolutely struggle against imperialist export of counter- 
revolution. They consider it their international duty to call on 
the peoples of all countries to unite, to mobilize all their internal 
forces, to act vigorously and, relying on the might of the world 
- . socialist system, to prevent or decisively rebuff the interference 

of the imperialists in the affairs of the people of any country who 
have risen in revolution." .. .^ 

"The Communist Parties reaffirm the propositions of the 1957 
Declaration concerning the question of the forms of transition of 
various countries from capitalism to socialism. 

"In conditions when the exploiting classes resort to the use of 
force against the people, it is necessary to bear in mind another 
possibility- -that of nonpeaceful transition to socialism. Leninism 
teaches, and historical experience confirms, that the ruling classes 
do not relinquish power voluntarily. In these conditions the degree 
of bitterness and the forms of the class struggle will depend not 
so much on the proletariat as on the extent of the resistance of the 
reactionary circles to the will of the overwhelming majority of the 
people, on the use of force by these circles at one or another stage 
of the struggle for socialism." 206/ 

It is interesting, in the light of the foregoing, to read 
the Communist Party history, written in South Vietnam around I963 and cap- 
tured on Operation CRIiMP in I966 (see Tab 2, p. 5I fT.). While such a 
history must be regarded with caution--Soviet historians have not hesitated 
to establish that the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czar--the CEIMP history, 
1 1 consistent vrith other captured docujnents and prisoner interrogations, dates 

^^ the insurgency in South Vietnam from the Lao Dong Party conclave of May, 1959: 

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"...Particularly after 20 July 1956^ the key cadres and Party 
members in South Vietnam asked q.uestions which demanded answers: 
'Can we still continue the struggle to demand the implementation of 
Geneva Agreement given the existing regime in South Vietnam? If 
not, then what must "be done?' A mood of skepticism and non-confidence 
in the orientation of the struggle began to seep into the party 
apparatus and among some of the masses. 

"At the end of I956 the popularization of the volume "by Comrade 
Duan /Le Duan/ entitled ''The South Vietnam Revolutionary Path'^ was 
of great significance because the ideological crisis was now solved. 
After analyzing the character of the South Vietnam society, the 
character of the American-Diemist enemy etc., the volume outlined 
a new strategic orientation for the South Vietnam revolution, a 
strategic mission in which everyone could have some confidence: It 
is necessary to continue the national democratic revolution in South 
Vietnam and it is necessary to use force to overthrow the feudalist 
imperialist regime in order to establish a revolutionary democratic 
coalition and create the conditions for the peaceful reunification of 
the Fatherland. 

"After the Resolution of the Fifteenth Conference of the Central 
Committee v^-as issued all of South Vietnam possessed a clear and cor- 
rect strategic policy and orientation. The Resolution of the Fifteenth 
Conference of the Central Committee'^'^ clearly delineated the general 
responsibility of the Vietnam revolution, analyzed the special charac- 
teristics of the South Vietnam situation, clearly spelled out the 
revolutionary tasks in South Vietnam and at the same time outlined the 
path which the South Vietnam revolution should take. 

"Thanks to this correct and clear delineation of the strategic 
orientation a.nd path, the South Vietnajn people and party clearly 
understood the aims and enlightened path to follow. .. .The volume 
'South Vietnam Revolutionary Path' and the Resolution of the Fif- 
teenth Conference of the Central Committee provided the cadres and 
Party members with a pair of wings with which to fly and lamps to 
shine upon the path ahead, a feeling of encouragement and confidence, 
a deteniiined will because the goals were clear and the path bright.... 

"Since the end of 1958 5 particularly after the Phu Loi Massacre, 
the situation truly ripened for an armed movement against the enemy. 
But the leadership of the Nam-Bo Regional Committee at that time 
still hesitated for many reasons, but the principal reason was the 
fear of violating the party line. The directive of the politburo 
in May 1959 stated that the time had come to push the arms struggle 
against the enemy. Thanks to this we closely followed the actual 

^ Not available. 

•5^- Reference is to the 15th Pleniom of the Lao Dong I^rty Central Conmilttee 


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situation in order to formulate a program which we felt would be 
essential J and in October 1959, the armed struggle was launched.' 

"Was the armed struggle slow in coming? We realize that it was 
not possible to launch the arms struggle too soon^ before the situ- 
ation had ripened. At any. rate;, a short period of time was lost 
because although many areas were engaged in armed propaganda /terror- 
backed persecution/ up to this time^ it was limited to armed propa- 
ganda and insufficient strength existed to maintain continued opposition 
to the enemy. Although slow in coming, it was not too slow because 
there was still time to transforai the situation into one where the 
proper conditions existed. However , if the change had been even 
slower, even more difficulties would have been encountered and the 
change in the movement would not have been as easy." 

"The Resolution of the I5th Conference of the Central Committee 
officially and concisely specified the responsibilities and strategic 
aims of the South Vietnam revolution. 

"But problems still existed: how were these responsibilities, aims, 
and progress of the South Vietnam revolution to be implemented? What 
must the main forms and procedures of the struggle be? Although the 
Resolution outlined some of these factors, at the time of the Conference, 
the details of the South Vietnam movement as well as revolutionary 
experiences of friendly nations were not siifficient enough for the 
Conference to formulate a precise program. Only 2 years later, were 
there sufficient factors available, based partly on the experiences 
of Laos but mainly on the experiences of the South Vietnam revolu- 
tionary movement, the Central Committee was able to formulate a 
clear and concise program concerning these problems...." 


The latter reference is to a January, I96I, Resolution of the Central Com- 
mittee of the Lao Dong Party, which directed concentration on peasant problems, 
stressed political actiQn--" The political aspect is truly the basic one ," said 
the CRIMP history--and warned against "revisionism.'^ The Lao Dong nev/spaper 
carried an editorial, broadcast by Radio Hanoi on I3 January I96I which des- 
cribed the 1961 Resolution as a document v/hich: 

"Reaffirms and sheds more light on the thesis of the Declara- 
tion of 1957 concerning the forms of transition from capitalism 
to socialism in different countries and clearly points to the 
lines and methods of struggle of the communist parties of capi- 
talist countries .... 

"As for the colonial countries, the statement points out that 
the struggle for national independence should be waged through armed 
struggles or by non-military methods, according to the specific 
conditions in the country concerned. The working class, v/hich plays 
a major role in the national liberation struggle, is determined to 


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carry through the tasks of the national and democratic revolution 
against all schemes of reaction to hinder progress of society " 

"The Declaration of the Conference of Representatives of Com- 
mimists and Workers' Parties in Moscow in .19575 ^^^ "^^^ ^^^ statement 
are a profound summary of the experiences of revolutionary struggle 
and of building a new life of our time. They represent a development 
of Marxism-Leninsim for the new conditions of history." 207/ 

But none of the communist statements— neither the Moscow 
Declaration of 1957, nor that of I96O; neither the Lao Dong Resolution of 
September, 1960, nor that of January, I96I- -attracted much attention in the 
West. Neither did the Manifesto of the National Liberation Front of South 
Vietnam, proclaimed, in December, 1960, seemingly in response to the Lao 
Dong Third Congress Resolution. But N. S. Khruschev made news with his 
6 January I96I "wars of national liberation" speech. Khruschev' s remarks 
were actually little more than a precis of the Moscow Declarations of 1957 
and i960; nonetheless, they shocked the President of the United States, 
John F. Kennedy. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., in his "A Thousand Days, 
declared that Khruschev' s "elaborate speech. . .made a conspicuous impression 
on the new President, who took it as an authoritative exposition^ of Soviet 
intentions, discussed it with his staff, and read excerpts from it aloud 

to the National Security Council Underneath the canonical beat of language, 

the oration sounding a brutal joy over a world where democracy was everywhere 
on the retreat and communism everywhere on the march." 208/ The President 
and his principal cabinet officers returned to this speech again and again 
in their explanations of Administration policy. 209 / '\ 

Khruschev offered an analysis of the world situation as 
it appeared at the beginning of the 1960's and declared that, as of that 
moment, "the prevention of a new war is the question of all questions. . He . 
described three categories of wars: "world wars, local v/ars, and liberation 
wars or popular uprisings." World wars, he declared, were unlikely. Local 
wars were also improbable. But, he said, "liberation wars and popular up- 
risings will continue to exist as long as imperialism exists. .. such wars are 
not only admissible but inevitable. . .an example... is the armed struggle of 

the Vietnamese people " He asserted unequivocally that "the comimnists 

support just wars of this kind whole-heartedly and without reservation and 
they march in the van of the peoples fighting for repression." But Khruschev' s 
speech notwithstanding, by I96I the strategic course of the ^ DRV was well set, 
and the new President was already at war in South Vietnam with the DRV. 

' \ 

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1. U>S, Congress, Senate^ Backgroiarid Information Relating to Southeast 
• , Asia and Vietnam (2d Revised Edition); Ccmmittee on Foreign Rela- 

j| tions; 89th Congress, 2d Session (Washington: GPO, I966), 36-48. 

Article ik of the "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in 

!| Viet Ram, July 20^ 195^" describes "political and administrative 

meas-ures; " 39-^0' 

2. Fourth Interim Report of the International Commission for Supervision 
and Control in Vietnam (London; Her Majesty's Stationary Office^ 
1955 );» 6-7 • Bernard B. Fall, The Two Viet Nams (New York: Praeger, 
Revised Edition, 190^), 129- 

3. State Department Memorandi;im; INR/rEA/AC: Brieman, ^/7/6j. 

Coimtrles Maintain i ng Relations with DR V 
' ("^ Resident in Peking) 

- • , Ambassador Consul 

Albania Guinea^ North Korea France 

Algeria"^ Hungary Poland , India 

Bulgaria Indonesia Romania • UK ■ 

Communist China Isos UAR* 

Cuba Mali^ USSR 

Czechoslovakia Mongolia Yugoslavia 
East Germany 

U.S. Dept. of State, Ltr, Under Secretary Katzenbach to Congress- 
man Evans (March 5, 19©) gives 2U countries, 12 communist. 
Cf ., John Norton Moore, "The Lawfulness of Military Assistance to 
the Republic of Viet Nam, " American Journal of International Law , 
(vol. 61, No. 1, January 1967), 2-4; also, Fall, op. cit ., 20i4; and 
P. J. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam (Cambridge: MIT' Press, I963); 


k. Hammer, The Struggle for Indochina , op. cit ., 179; Bernard Fall, 

The Viet Minh Regime (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1956), 
156 ff . translates the full text. 

5. Ibid ., 178, I8I; DA Pamphlet 550-40, op. cit ., 235. ■ 

6. Ibid ., 179. It should be noted that this announcement followed the 
|i^ peasant re^-olt in Nghe-An Province in NOA^ember 1956. 

7. A translated text of the I96O Constitution is in Fall, Two Viet -Nams , 
op. cit., 409 ff. 

8. The National Assembly is elected for 4 years by universal, direct, 
and secret suffrage on the basis of one deputy for every 50,000 

'' ^ citizens. Article 44 establishes the Assembly as the "only legisla- 

tive authority." IVo meetings per year are prescribed. The Assembly 


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elects the President and Vice President^ and may amend the Consti- 
tution. It appoints the Premier upon recommendation of the President, 
and the Ministers upon recommendation of the Premier. In the interval 
between the sessions of the National Assembly, its powers are exer- 
cised by the permanent Standing Committee. One- seventh of the 
Assembly seats are reserved for national minorities. The Council 
of Ministers "the executive organ of the highest state authority" 
(Art. 71) is responsible to the National Assembly (or the Standing 
Committee). Following diagram is from NIS ^30, op. cit., 31. 


(4 Year Term) 
Biannual Meetings 




I I 
I I 

t I 



Includes hfods of 
State Commissions, 
Naliona} Bank, 
and Ministries 










Commit lees 




AdfTlin(s^^a live 










Apparently has 
faof/i polics and 
procurator (o/ 


^ Statutory flecti'on 

'<'■ Appeal 

13 Broad Powers of Appointment, 
Supervision, and Review 

^ Recommendation of Appointment 
of Premier 

* Ad hoc advisory body for detOxrathg mo'ior issues 



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9. Vo Nguyen Giap^ People ^s War, People's Army (Hanoi: Foreign 
Languages Publishing House, 1961}^ 35;. also 6T-IO8; Cf.^ "Let 
Us Step Up the Theory- Formulating Task of the Party, Hoc Tap 
(No. 9, September I966), in Joint Publications Research Service, 
"Translations from Hoc Tap " (No. 38^,660, November 16, I966), p. 2. 
Also, U.S. Interagency Intelligence Conimittee, "The North Viet- 
namese Role in the Origin, Direction, and Support of the War in 
South Vietnam," (DIAAP-^, May I967) SECRET, Draft, 1-6. 

10. NIS 43c, op. cit., 28-32. 
H' Hoc Tap , op. cit * 

12. NIS 43c, op. cit., Figure 12, 30. 


13. Ibid ., George A. Carver, "The Faceless Viet Cong," Foreign Affairs 
Iv5l. kh, No. 3, April 1966), 36I; Douglas Pike, Viet Cong (Cambridge: 
MIT Press, I966), 11, 308, 313j 327-329, 356. 

ll^. Fall, Two Viet -Warns , op. cit ., 101, l82-l83; Central Intelligence Agency, 
Current Intelligence Weekly Review (22 September 1955);. B.S.W. Murti; 
op. cit ., 191. 

15. NIS ii-3C, 27; Central Intelligence Agency, Biographic Handbook - 
North Vietnam (CIA/cRBH G.G). 

16. Ibid . 

17. Central Intelligence Agency, "The Militant and Moderate Elements in 
the North Vietnamese Communist Party" (Memorandum, Directorate of 
Intelligence, 1 December 1955); P- J- Honey, Communism in North 
Vietnam , op. cit. , 28-35* 

18. NIS li3C, op. cit.. Figure 11, com^pared with CIA, Biographic Handbook , 
op. cit . 

19. Fall, ed., Ho Chi Minh on Revolution , op. cit ., 339-3^0. 

20. Hoang Van Chi, From Colonialism to Communism (New York: Praeger, 196^)^ 
166-lffi, 209--229: Hoang is a Vietn^S^iiT^^^olar and fomer Viet Minh 
cadre; Bernard B. Fall, The Viet-Minh Eegiirie (New York: Institute of 
Pacific Relations, I956), 118-135; BernarcTB. Fall, _Le -Viet Minh 
(Paris: A. Colin, I960), IOI-IO5 (RANT) Translation, Incl to L-13^i-39 ^^ 
of 19 July 1967); and George A. Carver, Jr., "The Faceless Viet Cong, 
Foreign Affairs (Vol \\, No. 3. April I966), 352-358. The proponent 

" of these undertakings was Ho's Sino-phile lieutenant Truong Chinh; 
see Central Intelligence Agency, Biographic Handbook, North V ietnam- 
South Vietnam (CIA/cR BH (^^)^ item on Truong dated 15 March I965; 
also Bernard B. Fall, ed.. Primer for Revo lt (New York: Praeger, I963), 
XIX-XX; P. J. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam (Cambridge: M.I.T. . 
Press, 1963), 11-1^, 32-35. ^^5-^6; and William Kaye, "A Bowl of Rice 
Divided, The Economy of North Vietnam," in P. J. Honey, ed.. North 

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Vietnam Today (Nev.^ York: Praeger^ 1962)^ IO7-IO8. For He's state- 
ment on Land Reform in late 1953^ see Bernard B. Fall^ ed.^ Eo Chi 
Minh on Revolution (New York: Praeger^ 1967)^ 258-269; the statement 
■was made to the Third Session of the National Assembly of the DRV ■ 
(Dec 1-^^ 1953)^ in which the Assembly enacted an Agrarian Reform 
Law based on reports by Ho and Pham Van Dong. 

Truong Chinh^ The Resistance V7ill Win (Hanoi: Foreign Languages 
Publishing House^ I96O; Facsimile Edition^ New York: Praeger^ 1963)^ 211. 

22. Fall^ ed.^ Ho on Revolution j loc. cit. 

23. Hoang Van Chi^ op. cit ., 211. 

24. P. J. Honey^ ed.^ North Vietnam Today , op. cit ., 8-9; Fall, Le Viet 
Minh, op. cit .; Hoang, op. cit ., I66. Bernard B. Fall, Viet -Nam 
Witness (New York: Praeger, I966), 96-98. 

25. Hoang, op. cit ., and Gerard Tongees, L'Enfer communiste du Nord Vietnam 
(Paris: Les Nouvelles Editions Debress^ I960), are both sometime 
residents of the DRV, the former a Viet Minh defector of 1955j» and 

the latter a French professor who left Hanoi in 1959- Their accounts 
of the agrarian reform campaign are consistent with eye witness 
reports recently collected from prisoners and defectors in South Viet- 
nam, reported in J. J. Zasloff, Political Motivation of the Viet Cong: 
the Vietm.inh Regroupees (u) (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, Memorandum 
RM-4703-ISA/ARPA, August 1966) (Confidential), hh-^3, 159-l6o. The 
best short summary is that of CIA Staffer George A. Carver, op. cit . 
. For contemporary intelligence estiinates, see: U.S. Intelligence 
Board, National Intelligence Estimate : 
' ' NIE 63-5-5^ (3 Aug 195^) 

NIE 63.1-55 (19 Jul 1955) 
Special NIE 63.1-4-55 (l3 Sep 1955) 

NIE 63.1-3-55 (11 Oct 1955) • 

NIE 63-56 (17 Jul 1956) . 

NIE 63.2-57 (l4 May 195T) 

NIE 63-59 (26 May 1959) 
Also: Department of State, Office of Intelligence Research (INR) 
International Communism, Annual Review (December 1955) (5^50.^9) 
(SECRET) 82-83; INR, Inte rnational Cojmnunism, Asian Communist Orbit 
Review 1955 (January 1956) (565O.5O) (SECRET) 19; IN-Rj "North Viet- 
■ nam Braces Itself for Socialism," (Oct. 13, 1958) (7837) (SECRET) 
2-5, 17-18; MR, "The Outlook for North and South Vietnam," (May 5, 
1959) (8008, SECREI/nOFORN), 25-26; CIA, Current Intelligence Weekly 
Review (6 December I956) . 

26. For a description of village polity in South Vietnam which suggests 
why Northerners might have reacted adversely to disruption of the 
traditional society see Gerald Cannon Hickey, Village in Vietnam 
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 196^0:^ I78-21I. 


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27. DRV Government Decree No. 239 of March 1953^ translated in Fall^ 
The Viet Minh Regime, op. cit ., 172-178, is an early example; the 
process was considerably refined thereafter. A particularly vivid 
eye-witness account is in Zasloff, op. eit. , 47-^8. 

28. Hoang; op. cit .. Fall, Le Viet Minh, op. cit . 

29. Carver, op . cit . , 35^; Fall, Viet- Nam Witness , op. cit ., 124; Hoang, 
op. cit .7 166. Ellen Hammer: "at least 50,000 were killed"; Hammer, 
op. cit ., 3^1* 

30. Fall, ed. . Ho Chi Minh on Revolution , op. cit ., 305-309* 

31. Fall, The Two Viet-Nams , op. cit ., I56-I58. 

32. Hoang, op. cit ., 209-210, quoting Mian Dan , No. 970 (Oct. 31; 1956). 

33. USIS, Saigon, "Notes on the Anniversary of the Peasant Uprising in 
Nghe-An" (Noveraber, I967). 

3h. Ibid. 


35. Hoang, op. cit ., 22l|-228. For data on employment of Southerners against 

the uprisings, see DIA "The North Vietnamese Role in the Origin " 

op. cit ., esp. Vol II, Item 84, 80, Text, p. 7^* 

36. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , op. cit ., 101-102. 

37. Lauve, op. cit ., 428-429. 

38. Fall, Two Viet-Nams , I57. 
39- Lauve, op. cit ., 428. 

40. P. J. Honey, ed.. North Vietnam Today , op. cit ., 33- It is significant that 
the DRV anned forces near the border assumed a defensive posture in 

1956; Central Intelligence Agency, Current Intelligence Weekly Review 
(31 May 1956). 

41. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , op. cit ., 102; Fall, Le Viet Minh , op. cit ., 169. 

42. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , loc. cit . 

43. Fall, Le Viet Minh , op. cit . 

44. Fall, Viet-Nam Witness , op. cit ., 124. 

45. Ibid., 25, 39rFall, Two Viet-Nams, I88-I9O; Hoang, op. cit ., 228-239. 

46. Fall, Tv70 Viet-Nams , op. cit ., I87. 


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h^. NIS 43c, op. cit ,, 39. . 

i|8. Hoang^ op. cit ,, 212-213. 

49. NIS h3C, op. cit ., 25^ 43, 

50. Ibid .^ hi. 

51. Ibid., 35-38, il-l-50, 52-53. 

52. Ibid ., k^. 

53. .Ibid., 53« • , 

54. Ibid ., 52. 

55* Log, cit . 

560 Fall, ed.. Ho on Revolution , 296. It should be noted that in the 
same context Ho offered "preferential" economic relations with 
France; no such offers were repeated after I956, when it was clear 
that France would not meet its Geneva "commitments to the DRV, and 
was pulling out of Vietnam. 

57. Harold Isaacs, No Peace for Asia (New York: 19^7)^ reprinted in 
Marvin E. Gettleman, ed., Vietnam (New York: Fawcett, 19^5), 50. 

58. Ho was born in I89O, and left Vietnam for revolutionary exile in 
1910 or 1911. Central Intelligence Agency, Biographic Handbook , 
North Vietnam- South Vietnam (CIA/CR BH 6.6, entry for Ho dated 
21 January "1965). 

j I 59. Bernard B. Fall, ed.. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution (New York: Praeger, 

1967), 232-244, 2^, 276; Ellen J. Hammer, The Struggle for Indo- 
China (Standord: Stanford University Press, I966), 25I. 

60. Central Intelligence Agency, "The Impact of the Sino- Soviet Dispute 
on North Vietnam and its Policies," (SNIE 14.3-63, 26 June I963; 

I I Central Intelligence Agency, North Vietnam, General Survey (National 

Intelligence Survey, NIS 43C,"july 1964), 32-33, Donald S. Zagoria, 
Vietnam Triangle (New York: Pegasus, I967), 99-^Oh. 

61. Pravda quote from U.S. Department of State, "Viet Minh Reactions 
to Indochina Settlement" (intelligence Brief, 5 August 195^); 
CONFIDENTIAL, in U.S. Interagency Intelligence Committee, "The 
North Vietnamese Role in the Origin, Direction, and Support of 
the War in South Vietnam." (dIAAP-4, May, I967) SECRET Draft, 
Supporting Documents, Vol I,, Item I5. The Soviet UN delegate is 

n quoted in B.S.N. Murti, Vietnam Divided (New York: Asia Publishing 


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House^ 196^); 176-177; and in John Norton Moore^ "The lawfulness 
of Military Assistance to the Republic of Viet Nam/' .American 
Journal of International Law ^ Vol 6l^ No. 1^ January^ 1967); 3 (n.7)* 
CIA^ Memo for Record^, 8 Feb 1957^ on the Soviet UN proposal of 
2k January 1957. 

62. Ho on Revolution J op. cit .^ 272 

63. Ibid. , 33^ ■ 

6k. Cf., Bain, op. cit ., 5^-78; Hoang, op. cit., XIV, XV; Fall, Two 

Viet-Nams , op. cit ., ^-6, I6-I9. Even the name of the country reflects 
the turmoil of its history. Gia Long called his empire Nam Viet 
(South Viet). Since the Dai Viet were ethnically related to the 
people of Kvang-si and Kwang-tung, the Chinese decided that the name 
Nam Viet implied an irredenta, and reversed the name to Viet Nam . Up 
to 19Ji5, Gia Long's successors used the more pretentious name Dai Nam 
(Great South), but only internally, when the DRV revived "Vietnam.'^' 

65. Pike, op. cit., U8. 


66. Bernard Fall, ed.. Ho Chi Minh on Revolution (New York: Signet, 19®); 
2^2. (Hereafter cited as "Signet Edition") 

67- Quoted in Pike, op. cit *, 67- / 

68. ^., J. J. Zasloff, Political Motivation of the Viet Cong: The Viet- 
minh Regroupees (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, August, I966, RM- 
4703- ISA/ ARPA), 25-26; Central Intelligence Agency, Current Intelli- 
gence Weekly Review (2 February I956) SECRET. The former speculates 
based on interviews with POWs and defectors, but reaches conclusions 
similar to those of the latter. A like 195^ estimate by the U.S. 
Army Attache, Saigon, is included in Current Intelligence Weekly 
Review (7 October 195^), 6. 

69. Fall, Ho on Revolution , op. cit ., 302. 

70. Some 1,000 Chinese advisers entered North Vietnam; hundreds of 
Vietnamese were trained in China; and a steadily increasing stream 
of war material, variously estimated at 400 to 4,000 tons per month, 
flov/ed south from China: Central Intelligence Agency, "Probable 
Developments in Indochina through mid-1954" (NIE-9I; June 4, 1953) 
SECRET; Memorandum, OSD, Robert H. B. Wade to Brig. Gen. Bonesteel, 
April 13, 1954 (secret). J. J. Zasloff, "The Role of the Sanctuary 

in Insurgency: Communist China's Support of the Vietminh, 1946-1954," 
(Santa Monica: RAND, RM-46l8-PR, May I967); passim . 

71. Hammer, op. cit ., 331-337* 

72. NIS 43c, 32-35- 


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73. Cf., Anita Lauve, Troika on Trial (MS Study for OSd/iSA, ARPA 

cSnlract, 1967), ^28; and P. jriioney, ed., Nort^LVxe tnam Today , 
op. cit., 33. 


Zasloff, IM-I.TO3-ISA/ARPA, op. cit., lllv-53, 159-160; U.S Dept of State, 
INK, "Worth Viet Nam Braces Itself for Socialism (.Oct xj, xypu;. 

op. cit 

75. Defense Intelligence Agency, Annual Review of ^mograg hic and Goyern- 

ment Control Composition (u) (AP-1-^60-3-5-d5' 
41; WIS 43c, 3a, 56, 59- 

76. Ibid., 59. 

77. WIS 43c, op. cit ., 59. 

78. Central Intelligence Agency, "Probable Developments in Worth Vietnam 
to July 1956," (National Intelligence Estimate 63.1-55. 19 ^^^/^Jnh 
7; CIA, SCO9206 of 19 May 195^: the same report holds the Vie. Minn 
disappointed in the Chinese People's Republic for lack °^/^PP°^f^^^^^ 
and well aware of Soviet distaste for an Asian involvement. Cf., Hammer, 

op. cit ., 320-21. 

79. Ibid ., 3^6; also 342-344; cf., H ^^ Revolution , op^^it., 276-277; 
and P. J. Honey, ed.. Worth Vietnam Today , 30-32 • 

80. For summaries of the windings of French policy in this period see: 
Central Intelligence Agency, Current InteU agenc^WeeKlQevie^ _ 
(14 October 195^, 11 Wovember 195^, 16 D5^mbiFl954, 20 January ±9^^); 
and 5 May I955, respectively); also, NIE 63-1-55; PP- '^^t ', y -l • 

81. Zagoria, op. cit ., 27, 40-4l, 100-102. 

82. Ibid., Cyril E. Black and Thomas P. Thornton, C~2^^^£Hi_B£X2lHti2H 
"(Princeton: Princeton U. Press, I965), 271-273, 417-440. 

83. Honey, ed., Wort.h Vietnam Today , op. cit., 30; Central Intelligence 
Agency, Wational Security Council Briefing for 12 July 1955.^-i-^i; 
Current Intelligence Weekly Review (7 July 1955); '^''^'^s ^J^^^qi, 
Vietnam Divided (New York: Asis Publishing House, 19^4 j, lOl-i-O . 

84. Phillipe Devillers, in P. J. Honey, ed., Worthjietnam Today, op. cit ., 
32-33; Zagoria, op. cit ., il2, 101-102. 

85. P. J. Honey; Cotnmunisra in North Viet nam. ; op. cit -, ^3-5o- 

86. Zagoria, op, cit ., 19-20. 

87. Fall, ed., Ho on Rev olution; op. cit., 298-299. 


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88. B.S.N. Murti, Vietnam Divided (New York: Asia Publishing House;, 
196^)^ 176; Central Intelligence Agency^ "The Prospects for North 
Vietnam" (National Intelligence Estimate 63.2-57^ 1^ May 1957)^ 6. ■ 

89- CIA; Current Inte llige nce Weekly Review (2 August 1956). 

90. CIA, Memorandum for the Record, 8 February 1957; Murti, op. cit ., 
176-177; John Norton Moore, "The Lawfulness of Military Assistance 
to the Republic of Viet Nam," American Journal of International Law, 
(Vol 61, No. 1, January I967); 3, n. 7; Devillers, in Honey, ed.. 
North Vietnam Today , op . c it . , 33 • ' 

91. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam , op- cit ., 6-7^ 52-62; Douglas 
Pike, Viet Cong (Cambridge: MIT Press, I966), 77-79; Philippe 
Devillers, "The Struggle fOr the Unification of Vietnam," The 
China Quarterly (No. 9, January-March, I962), 17; U.S. Department 
of State, "North Vietnam Braces Itself for Socialism" (intelligence 
Report No. 7837 j- Oct. 13, 1958), 6-7- 

92. U.S. Interagency Intelligence Committee, "The North Vietnamese 
Role...," op. cit., 11-12, 21^-28. 




CIA, Biographic Handbook , op. cit . 
SNIE 1^.3-63, op. cit ., ^4-5. 

Robert A. Rupen and Robert Parrell, eds., Vietnam and the Sino- Sovie t j 
Dispute (New York: Praeger, I967), 52* 

Fall, The Two Viet-Nams , op. cit ., 17-19- 

Hoang, op, cit ., I3. The French administered two provinces of La.os 
from Hanoi (Kieng Quang and Sam Neua), RAND Corporation, "DRV Rela- 
tions with Laos and the Pathet Lao, 195^-1962" (Attachment (2) to 
L- 1^1-982, 11 August 1967). 

98. Ibid . 

99. DIA, "The North Vietnamese Role...," op. cit .. Vol II, Item 2; 

P. J. Honey, "The Foreign Policy of North Vietnam;" Remarks prepared 
for the Asia Society and Association for Asian Studies Conference, 
May l4"15, 1965, pp.l2"l4. 

100. Ibid ., 12-lV, 18-19. 

101. DIA, "The North Vietnamese Role...," loc. c it. 

102. NIS 43c, op. cit., 33- 


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103. Cf. Tab 1, pp. 43-^^^ n. 71^ Chester L. Cooper^ "The Complexities 
of Negotiation/' Foreign Affairs^ (Vol. hSy No. 3^ April 1968)^ 
465; LtVy Under Secretary of State Katzenbach to Congressman Evans^ 
op. cit . 

lOU. U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency,, Military Factbook on the War in 
South Vietnam ^ V.; Zasloff^ RM 4703- ISA/ AEFAj Op. cit .^ k^ lO-ll. 

105. DIA Fact Book; July, 1967, A-I27. 

106. Zasloff, m 4703-ISA/ARPA, op. cit ., 169-183. 

107- Katzenbach- Evans Letter, op. cit ., quoting the interrogation of 
Le Van Thanh, Viet Cong Signal Platoon leader. 

108. m 4703, op. cit ., 31. 

109. DIA AP-4 (May, I967), op. cit . This study was designed to answer 
queries from Congressman Evans (f . Katzenbach Letter), and was 
considered for publication, modified, as a "V/hite Paper." 

110. Interrogation of a Montagnard originally from Quang Tri Province, 
infiltrated into South Vietnam in October^ I96I. DIA, "Role/' 
69-70 j Katzenbach letter. 

111. Interrogation of a member of one of the "special border-crossing 
teams." DIA, "Role," 70. ■ 

112. Ibid ., 71. Interrogation of two members of the 603d Battalion. 

113- Ibid ., 71, 72. Interrogation of Senior Sergeant of VC 5th Military 
Region (Zone v) captured in Quang Ngai. 

114. Ibid ., 73* Interrogation of several agents captured in June and 
July, I96I; Interrogation of a member of a VC communications cadre. 

115. Ibid ., Interrogation of a I962 infiltrator. 

116. Ibid ., Interrogation of several former NVA officers who surrendered 
in 1963; interrogation of officer of "1st VC Regiment, " who defected 
in April I963. 

117. Carver, op. cit ., 36O. 

118. DIA, "Role...", op. cit.. 


; Katzenbach letter. 

119. Ibid . 

120. Devillers, loc. cit ., and New Facts Phu Loi Mass Murder , op. cit ., 

121. Ibid., 15-16. 


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122. Carver^ op. cit .^ 358; Zagoria^ op. cit .^ 16O-I6I. 
. 123. Zasloff^ RM ^703^ 73. - 

124. CIAj Biographic Handbook ^ op. cit . 

125. NIS i^-3C, op. cit ., 30. ' 

126. DIA^ "Role . . ./' op. cit ., 10-11; CIA, Biographic Data . 

127. Ibid ., 11- 1^+-. E^. a Viet Minh cadre who surrendered in March, 
I95S, reported Le Duan's disgust with the ICC and with DRV policy 
toward it; a document taken from a VC cadre in November, 1956, 
quoting Le Duan. C£, CIA, FVS-IO7I, of 21 September 1956, and 
CS-82270 of 16 January 1956. 

128. Cf., Honey, Communism in North Vietnam , op. cit ., 52-58. 

129. Carver, op. cit ., 359-360. 

130. DIA, "Role . . .," 14-15. 

131. Ibid ,, 28-29. 

132. Carver, op. cit ., 369-37O. One prisoner attended an infiltration 
course at Son Tay in January, I96O, with a group of 60, and 
infiltrated with the same group in March, I96O. All 60 were 
officers or NCO's. One became a company commander of a VC unit 
in Quang Ngai; another a political officer of a battalion in the 
same province; another a deputy commander of the same battalion. ^ 
DIA, "Role . . .," 77. 

133. Ibid ., 61-62. 

134. This judgment is based on interrogations of 19 Vietnamese officers 
and senior NCO's who infiltrated in the years 1959-1963; and of 
NVA officers who surrendered in I963. Under Secretary Katzenbach 
Letter, p-p, cit ., 19. 

135- DIA; "Role . . .," 62-64. 

136. Ibid ., 4-8. 

137. Ibid., 9-13; Modelski, "The Viet Minh Complex," op. cit ., 185-199- 

138. Captured document identified as a Lao Dong Party official paper, 
entitled "Decision to Create the Central Office for South Viet-Nam, " 
cited in Katzenbach Letter, op. cit ., 6, DIA, "Role . . ./' 11-13- 

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139, Ibid ., 9-10. 

140. Zasloff, EM 4703-ISA/ARPA, 25-37. A senior captain in the Viet 
Cong intelligence service wrote a record of his experiences in 

a document entitled Regroupment Diary : according to this dociment,' 
his political officer lectured the unit as follows: a/ 

"(1) Have confidence in the leadership of the General 

/central^/ Committee. In two years,, the country will 
be re-unified, because that was the decision of an 
international body, which gives us reason to trust it. 
This does not mean that we should be too trustful, 
but we must continue to struggle. 

"(2) The Party will never abandon the people of the South 

who will stay to fight; when the time comes, they will 
be led. 

"(3) Those who go north should feel happy in their duties. 
Those who remain behind should carry out the glorious 
missions entrusted to them by the Party, standing side 
by side with the people in every situation of struggle." 

The political officers also stressed the dangers to which the stay- 
behinds would be subjected. A cadre whose party history extended 
back to 1930 stated that: b/ . 

"Those who did regroup did it voluntarily, after realizing 
that it was the thing to do. They did it to protect them- 
selves from being arrested by the authorities in the South. / 
They were afraid of being charged with having participated 
in the Resistance before. All cadres were afraid of future 
persecution by the South Vietnam.ese authorities; they all 
wanted to regroup . . . They were afraid . . 

Still, the Regroupment Diary records that one cadre bet his comrades 
"three to ten, the country won't be reunified in two years," and 
that many cadres were worried about leaving family and friends 
behind. £/ In the RAM) Study, the regroupees were asked, "Were 
you a volunteer for regroupment?" The following responses were 
typical: d/ 

(a Defector) At the time it was said that we were volunteers. 
In reality, they took measures to make sure that everyone 
left. At the time of regroupment, we had to go. If I had 
remained, I would have been arrested. I believed that I 
would remain in the North two years. 

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(Another Defector) I was a political officer. 1 went to 
the North just like all the other combatants in my unito 

j^ . ■ I believed^ at the time^ that regroupment was only temporary^ 

because from the study sessions on the Geneva Agreement we 
drew the conclusion that we could return to the South after 

j the general elections. 

(a PW) /Our political officer/ explained that: we were 
granted Vietnam north of the 17th parallel now^, but in I956 
there would be a general election and we would regain the 
South and be reunited with our,- families. Because of interest 
■ and curiosity and the opportunity to travel^ everyone was 
happy. They thought they would be there in the North only 
two years and then would be able to return to their homes, 

a/ m h^03, 27, 35. 
• - W Ibid., 3h. 

c/ Ibid ., 35- 



/ .■ d/ Ibid ., 36. 

I ^ ~ 

1^1. DIA, "Role . . .," 50-53; CIA, "... Evidence of North Vietnamese 
Violations of the Geneva Agreements on Vietnam Since 1955" 
(SC No. 2955/6^1-, 10 March 19^0^ Section I. 

-Ih2. DIA, "Role . . .,"20-26; CIA, "Evidence. . ." (SC No. 2955/6I+), 
loc. cit . 

llj-3. Cf., Pike, op. cit., 3I-56, 74-81]-. 


144. DIA, "Role . . .," 47-i]-8. 

145. Ibid o, 1^9-50. 

Ik6. Ibid ., h6-hj. 

ikj. U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam/ Central Office of South 
Vietnam (COSVN) . (Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for 
Intelligence, ST-67-O23, 29 April 1967). 

1^8. Carver, op . cit ., 363-30i. 

1^9. CIA, Current liitelligence Weekly Review , 7 J^^-Y 1955^ mentions 
the Soviet Ambassador in Hanoi's hint that violent action would 
ensue were consultations delayed, but there was little other 
indication of Soviet intention to act. 

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150. CIA, CIWR, 27 October I955. 

151. CIA, CIWR, 22 September I955. 

152. CIA, CIWE, 10 November I955. 

153. U.S. Department of State, Soviet World Outlook (Publication 6836, 
July 1959). 98. 

154. Ho on Revolution, (Signet) op. cit ., 269-270; cf.. Central Intel- 
ligence Agency, Current Intelligence Weekly Review ( 10 May 1956). 

155. Ibid ., and CIA KSC Briefing for 2 July 195^. The difference in 
the two texts is readily explained in that Fall used the version 
of the speech published in the presumably edited four-volume 
edition of The Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh (Hanoi: Foreign 
Languages Publishing House, I96O, I96I, 19^2); see Fall, Ho Chi 
Minh on Revolution (Signet edition), page x. 

156. Fall, Ho on Revolution (Signet), 27^, 

157. CIA, NSC Briefs of 2 July I956 and 10 July 1956- 

158. CIA, CIWR, 2 August I956. 

159. Fall, Ho on Revolution (Signet), 277- 

160. Ibid ., 279; Devillers, "The Struggle for Unification," op- cit ., 

161. CIA, Memo for Record of 8 February 195T- 

162. CIA, Singapore CS-8227O of I6 January 1956, and FVS-lOTl of 

21 September I956; DIA, "Role . . .," 23-29 » For further evidence 
of impatience and diminished faith in the South see CIA, Saigon 
CS-3^31lAl6 of April 1957. 

163. Ibid . 

16^. The sequence of events concerning this UN action went as follows: 

23 Jan 1957 U.S. and 12 other UN members (in a resolution) 

call upon the UN Security Council to recommend 
South Vietnam and South Korea for membership in 
in the UN. 

2k Jan 1957 Soviet delegate in UN Security Council, Arkady 

A. Sobolev, proposes that North Vietnam and 
North Korea, as well as South Vietnam and South 
Korea, be recommended for membership in the UN, 
as a "package deal-" 



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30 Jan 1957 UN General Assembly's Special Political 

Committee endorses a resolution (backed by the 
U.S. and 12 other nations) calling for UN 
membership for South Vietnam and South Korea. 
On the same day^ the Committee declines to ■ 
endorse a "package deal" proposed by the Soviet 
Union for samultaneous admission of North 
Vietnam and North Korea. ■ 

28 Feb 1957 UN General Assembly recommends to the Security 

Council UN membership for South Vietnam and 
South Korea (^0 to 8 with 18 abstentions^ and 
40 to 8 with 16 abstentions respectively). 

9 Sep 1957 After making an unsuccessful attempt to post- 
pone consideration of the question imtil Viet- 
nam had been unified^ the USSR vetoed the 
admission of the RVN to the UN. 

25 Oct 1957 UN General Assembly (by votes h^ to 9, with 23 

abstentions) passes resolution declaring that 
South Vietnam is eligible for membership in the 
UN. The resolution "noted 'with regret' the 
,^ continued inability of the Security Coimcil 

to recommend the admission of /South Korea and 
South Vietnam/ ... to the UN because of the 
negative vote of the Soviet Union." (Asian 
Recorder^ New Delhi^ Vol. 111^ No. 5I.) 

Sources: U.S. Dept. of State^ "Chronology on Vietnam/' (Historical 

Studies Division^ Hist. Office^ Bureau of Public Affairs^ 
Research Project No. 7^7^ November 1965; also^ "Deadline 
Data on World Affairs^ " entries for "North Vietnam" and 
"South Vietnam/' dates listed. 

165. Ibid .^ and U.S. Dept. of State^ "Chronology on Vietnam" (I95O- 
196^; Warner^ op. cit ., I31-I32. 

166. Honey^ Communism in North Vietnam ^ op. cit .^ 50. 
167- Ibid.^ 50-51. 

Iffi. U.S. Department of State^ "Chronology on Vietnam/' op. cit . 

. 169. Honey^ Communism in North Vietnam ^ op. cit .^ 51-62- 

170. N.S. Khrushchev^, "40 Years of Great October Socialist Revolution/' 
j Pravda (November 22^ 1957); translated in Current Digest of the 

I ' Soviet Press {IK, No, ik, 1 Jan 1958)^ 13-lB*! 

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171. Ibid .^ 3-7- For examples of the subsequent import attached to the 
Declaration of 1957^ cf .^ "The Statement of Conference of Representa- 
tives of Communist and Workers' Parties/' The Current Digest of the 
Soviet Pres s (Vol XII, No. 48, 28 Dec 196O, and Eo. 49, k Jan 19&), 
Wo. 49, p, "5, which refers to the "1957 Declaration" and quotes the 
cited text verbatim; also Foreign Broadcast Information Service 
Bulletin , "Ktian Dan Views Moscow, Party Statements'' (l3 January 
1961, p. EE 9 ff.), which relates the proceedings of the Lao 

Dong's Third Party Congress (September, I960) to the I96O Moscow 
Conference, and to the "declaration of 1957 •' 

172. Quoted in Honey, Communism in North Vietnam , op- Git > 

173. E.g. Bernard B. Fall, "Power and Pressure Groups in North Vietnam," 
China Quarterly (No. 9, January-March 19^1)^ 38-39i P- J- Honey, 
"The Position of the DRV Leadership and the Succession to Ho Chi 
Minh, " ibid ., 32-34. 

174. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam , op. cit ., 59- 

175. Ibid ., 61-62. 

176. Zagoria, op. cit ., 102-103. . -' 

177. Cooper, et al.. Case Studies in Insurgency . . ., op. cit., 77"o0. 

178. Ibid , 

179. Modelski, "The Viet Minh Complex," o p- cit ., 200-201- 

180. Fall, "Two Viet-Nams," op, cit., 63, 66-71; U,S. Department of 
State, Political Alliance of Vietnamese Nationalists , (Off ice of 
Intelligence Research, Report No. 3708, October 1, 1949)^ ^66-67, 
quoting the Factual Record of the August Revolution (Hanoi, 
September, 1946) . ■ ~ 

181. CIA, Biographic Handbook , op. cit ,; Modelski, op. cit ,, 202-203* 

182. Ibid., 207-210. 

183. CIA, "The Organization, Activities, and Objectives of the Comm.unist 
Front in South Vietnam, " Intelligence Memorandum l603/6b, 26 Septem- 
ber 1966; CIA, memorandum, "The Organization, Activities, and 
Objectives . . . ," dated 7 September I965; CIA, "... Evidence 

of North Vietnamese Violation of the Geneva Agreements on 
Vietnam," op. cit .. Section I, II, 

184. Ibid. 


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185, Ibid .; CIA Current Intelligence Weekly Review ^ 16 April 1958. 

186- CIA^ "... Evidence of North Vietnamese . • ./' op- cit . 

187. CIA; NIS U3-C, op, cit ., 35-36. 

188. Ibid ., ^3-56. 

189. U.S. Department of State, "Chronology on Vietnam," op- cit . 

190. Ibid . 

191. Quotations of Lao Dong leaders are from the English language broad- 
casts of the Vietnam News Agency, Radio Hanoi, as reported in the 
Foreign Broadcast Information Service Bulletin , April 30 - May 15, 

192. U.S. Department of State, A Threat to the Peace (Wiite Paper, I96I), 
op. cit ., II, 3. 

193. U.S. Department of State, Saigon Despatch 278 to State, March 7^ 
i960, 1-6- 

194. Ibid ., 7. 

195. Ibid. 

196. Central Intelligence Agency, "The Prospects for North Vietnam," 
(National Intelligence Estimate 63.2-57? 1^ May 1957); CIA, ^^"Signi- 
ficance of Cambodia to the Vietnamese Communist War Effort," (Special 
National Intelligence Estimate, 26 January 1967)- 

197. NIS U3C, op. cit ., 33. Honey, Communism in North Vietnam , op. cit ., 
I68-I8I; Central Intelligence Agency, "North Vietnamese Violations 
of the Geneva Agreements on Laos," (SC No. 02988/64, 20 April I96U), 
TOP SECRET, and CIA, same subject (SC 03026/64, 19 May 1964), TOP 

198. Ibid. 

199. Ibid . , 3? Appendices II & III. "Protocol to the Declaration on the 
Neutrality of Laos," in U.S. Congress, Senate, Background Information 
Relating to Southeast Asia and Vietnam (Committee on Foreign Relations, 
89th Congress, 2d Session, 2d Revised Edition, March I966), 102-107; 
CIA, "North Vietnamese Violations...," op. cit . 

Following a rupture between Kong Le and the I^thet Lao and the 
assassination of the pro-Communist Foreign Minister of the RLG in 
April 1963, the DRV apparently determined to reinforce the Pathet ■ 

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Lao, for the U.S. began to receive reports of renewed WA operations 
in Laos from multiple sources , including a Pathet Lao defector and 
a Polish ICC member. By mid-19635 KVA strength was over 10. battalions , 
with some 5OOO to 7OOO men plus 3,000 advisers, and new arms and 
supplies were arriving constantly. For example, members of the Polish 
ICC team in Hanoi, told their counterparts in Laos in August I963 
that the DRV was dispatching daily shipments of military equipment 
into Laos, a/ and in February 1964 a Pathet Lao officer in southern 
Laos stated that the DRV was shipping in new and heavier arms, including 
tanks, b/ 

a/ Central Intelligence Agency, CIA/tDCSDB 3657725 5 ^ November 1963^ 
cited in "North Vietnamese Violations " 

b/ CIA/TDCS 3572046 of k February 1964, in ibid . 

201. Central Intelligence Agency, "Sihanouk's Cambodia" (National Intelli- 
gence Estimate 57-66, 6 October I966), para. 23-27; CIA, NTS 43C, 

op. cit ., SNIE 57-67, oj). cit .; U.S. Department of State, "Chronology 
on Vietnam," op. cit. 

202. Fall, Two Viet-Nams, op. cit ., 399-401. 

203. U.S. Department of State, A Threat to the Peace , op. cit ., II, 2-3. 

204. Ibid., 3. 

205. Ibid., 3-5. 

"statement of Conference of World Communist Parties - II," The Current 
Digest of the Soviet Press (Vol. XII, No. 49, Jan. 4, I961), 3-11- 

Foreign Broadcast Inform.ation Service Bulletin (North Vietnam, Janua.ry I3, 

1961 )T 

208. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 
Co., 1965), 302-303. 



E.g. , Speech by Honorable Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, 
Before the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Dinner, Chicago, 
February 17^ 1962 (Department of Defense, Office of Public Affairs, 
Release No. 239-62). 

Ibid . , Schlesinger, loc. cit.; Modelski, pp . cit . , I98, quotes Soviet 
News , London (January 21, I96I, 43-44. 



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Chart - Principal Personalities , 195^1-1960 ii 

A. U.S. Intelligence, 195^-1958 1 

1. Pre-Geneva, I95O-I95I1 1 

2. Geneva, I95I1 k 


3- Sect Warfare, 1955-1957 7 

h. Rise of the Viet Cong, I957-I96O 17 

B. U.S. Policy and Programs, I95I+-I96O 26 

1. NSC 5612/1 27 

2. WSC 5809 28 

3. Public Statements 32 

h. Program Data 37 

C- Recognition of Crisis, I96O h^ 

1. Country Team Assessment, March, I96O ^^3 

a. Viet Cong Activity " U3 

b. ARVN Weaknesses • k^ 

c . Political Factors 46 

2. Special NIE, August, I96O 48 

3. Contrasting DOD and State Appreciations 52 

k. The Counterinsurgency Plan (CIP) 80 

a. General McGarr Replaces General Williams 82 

b. Content of the CIP 86 

c. Presidential Action on the CIP 95 

d. Implementing the CIP 97 

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Secretary of State 


Ambassador to GVW 



Secretary of Defense 



Chairman, JCS 


Chief of Staff 5 Army 




Chief of Naval Operations 


Chief of Staff, Air Force 


Coiamandant , Marine Corps 



Chief, MAAG 


Head of State/President 


Prime Minister 


Minister of Foreign Affairs/ 
Secretary of State for 

Foreign Affairs 


Minister of Defense/Minister 
of National Defense 




20 Jan 1953 

21 Jan 1953 
16 Apr 1959 
25 Jun 1952 
20 Apr 1955 
Ik Mar 1957 
28 Jan 1953 

9 Oct 1957 

3 Dec 1959 

Ik Aug 1953 

15 Aug 1957 

1 Oct i960 

15 Aug 1953 
30 Jun 1955 

1 Jul 1959 
1 Oct i960 

16 Aug 1953 

17 Aug 1955 
30 Jun 1953 

1 Jul 1957 
28 Jun 1952 

1 Jan 1956 

1 Jan i960 
2k Oct 1955 

1 Sep i960 

- 20 Jan 1961 

- 15 Apr 1959 

- 20 Jan 1961 

- 20 Apr 1955 

- Ik Mar 1957 

- Ik Mar 1961 

- 8 Oct 1957 

- 2 Dec 1959 

- 8 Jan 1961 

- 15 Aug 1957 

- 30 Sep i960 

- 30 Sep 1962 

- 30 Jun 1965 

- 30 Jun 1959 

- 30 Sep. i960 

- 30 Sep 1962 

- "17 Aug 1955 

- 31 Jul 1961 

- 30 Jun 1957 

- 30 J^m 1961 

- 31 Dec 1955 

- 31 Dec 1959 

- 31 Dec 1963 

- 31 Aug i960 

- 5 Mar I962 

Mar 19^9 - 26 Oct I955 

26 Oct 1955 - 1 Nov 1963 

12 Jan 195^ - 16 Jun 195^ 

7 Jul 195^ - 1 Nov 1963 

17 Dec 1953 - 16 Jun I95U 

5 Jul 195^ - 

Jul 1955 - 

25 Jun 1952 - 

5 Jul 1951^ - 

May 1955 

1 Nov 1963 


1 Nov 1963 



Dwight D. Eisenhower 
John Foster Dulles 

Christian A. Herter 

Donald R. Heath 

G. Frederick Reinhart 

Elbridge Durbrow 
Charles E. Wilson 
Neil H. McElroy 
Thomas S, Gates, Jr. 
Admiral Arthur W. Radford, USN 
General Nathan F. Twining, USAF 
General layman L. Lemnitzer, USA 
General Matthew B. Ridgway 
General Maxvrell D. Taylor 
General Ljinan L. Lemnitzer 
General George H. Decker 
Admiral Robert B. Carney 
Admiral Arleigh A. Burke 
General Nathan F. Twining 

General Thomas D. White 

General Lemuel C Shepherd, Jr. 
General Randolph McC. P^te 
General David M. Shoup 
Lt. Gen. Samuel T. Williams, USA 
Lt, Gen. Lionel C. McGarr, USA 

Emperor Bao Dai 
Ngo Dinh Diem 

Prince Buu Loc 

Ngo Dinh Diem 
Nguyen Quoc Dinh 

Tran Van Do 

Vu Van Mau 

Ngiem Van Tri 

Nko Dinh Diem 

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IV. A. 5- 
Tab h. 


A. U.S. Intelligence, 193^-19^9 

In electing to support Ngo Dinh Diem in 195^ and 1955^ 
and to assume responsibilities from France for providing economic 
and military assistance to South Vietnam in the years thereafter^ 
the United States deliberately set out to establish in South Vietnam 
a political environment markedly different from that which Franch 
had fostered in the period 19^5-5^. In I960/ however, there were 
still similarities to the French period^ and these were perhaps more 
fundamental than were differences. 

1. Pre-Geneva, 19^0-193it- 

The pattern that was to confront the U.S. throughout the 
1950 's was noted in a National Intelligence Estimate of 29 December 
1950 (NIE-5), which began: "The French position in Indochina is 
critically in danger by the Viet Minh, a communist movement that has 
exploited native nationalism." Under the circumstances prevailing, 
"there is only a slight chance that the French can maintain their 
military position long enough to build up an independent Vietnamese 
government and an effective national army which might win the support 
of non-communist nationalists, and, in conjunction with French forces, 
contain the Viet Minh." Despite French efforts to weaken the political, 
nationalistic base of the Viet Minh by supporting "a semi-autonomous 
pro-French government under native leadership, . • • concessions to 
nationalistic sentiment leading to full sovereignty for the Bao Dai 
; government have been forthcoming so slowly and with such seeming 

1 reluctance on the part of the French, that the Bao Dai government 

; has not in fact won a strong nationalistic following in any quarter, 

i As a result the French so far have been unable to undermine the 

t-t political strength of the Viet Minh." 


Meanwhile, however, the Estimate noted that military 
pressure from the Viet Minh, assisted by the Chinese Communists, 
could eject the French from Tonkin, and ultimately from all of 
Vietnam; without a strengthening of the French military position, 
defeat seemed inevitable, even if the French and the Bao Dai government 
should begin to transform the political situation. A political muta- 
tion was essential to victory, and had to be timiely were a military 
defeat to be averted. The NIE concluded that if Chinese Communist aid 

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were continued^ and French strength and military resources were not 
substantially increased above those then programmed^ "the Viet Minh 
probably can drive the French out of North Vietnam (Tonkin) within 
6 to 9 months." 

But half a year later^ an NIE of T Axigust 1951 (NIE-35^ 
pp. 1-2)^ reported;, "The present military situation in Indochina is 
one of stalemate." General de Lattre de Tassigny had repulsed 
the Viet Minh regimens drive to conquer Tonl^in^ this "success" 
resulting from a number of factors including French reinforcements^ 
Viet Minh mistakes in their initial foray into large-scale conventional 
warfare, and "the timely arrival of U.S. military aid, including air- 
craft, napaljn bombs, patrol and landing craft, and ground combat 
materiel," which had helped de Lattre "to inflict heavy -losses on ■ 
the Viet Minh ..." But, the Estimate noted, "Political developments 
. • . have been less favorable ..." 

In other words, the French and Bao Dai showed no inten- 
tion of using the time thus purchased by averting military defeat to 
bring about political progress: "^ 

"... Despite the gradual French transfer of certain 
responsibilities, the Vietnamese government has been slow _ 
to develop and has continued to suffer from a lack of strong 
leadership. It has had to contend with: (a) French reluctance 
to relinquish ultimate control of political and economic 
affairs; (b) lingering Vietnamese suspicion of any French- 
supported regime, combined with the apathetic and 'fence- . 
sitting' attitude of the bulk of the people, which has deprived 
the government of broad-based popular support ; (c) the diffic-glty 
common to all new and inexperienced governments, of training the 
necessary personnel and building an efficient administration; 
and (d) the failure of factional and sectional groups to unite 
in a concerted national effort. 

"In January 195I the opportunity arose of forming a broad- 
based cabinet representing most group in 
Vietnam; instead Premier Huu formed a cabinet composed pri- 
marily of members of his own pro-French faction. Although 
Huu has displayed some administrative skill and his government 
has gained slowly in effectiveness, the weakness of the Huu 
cabinet and its alleged 'French puppet' status have Imited its 
appeal to Vietnaraese nationalism and have alienated strong 
nationalist groups, including the poweiful Dai Viet group in ■ 
Tonkin. Communist control of much of the country and Viet Minh 
■ infiltration of large areas -under nominal French control have 
also discouraged many people from openly allying themselves 
with the government." 

* In this and all following citations, italics are added, unless 
otherwise noted. 

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There had been more progress in efforts to create a 
national Vietnamese army_; "an essential prerequisite to growth in the • 
political stature of the Vietnamese government and to ultimate- non- 
communist solution in Indochina^" but "progress in the formation of 
the Army is retarded by lack of capable officers at all levels of 
command^ shortages of equipment^ and the apathetic attitude of the 
populace." (Weaknesses in officers — in large part the policy of 
officer recruitment and promotion — have fatally weakened Viet- 
namese army operations ever since.) In the end^ the French neither 
built a genuinely Vietnamese army^ nor allowed the native armed force 
any role or status which might have made it an effective adjunct of 

On the communist side_, the estimate noted that: 

"The communist party role has been strengthened^ with strict 
party liners coming more into the foreground ... in the 
absence of further military victories^ Viet Minh popular sup- 
port appears unlikely to increase . . . while we are unable to 
determine whether the Viet Minh is actually losing any of its 
popular appeal^ the regime apparently is dependent more and 
more on tightened communist controls, . . . these tightened 
controls may prevent defections and facilitate the exploita- 
tion of people already under Viet Minh control." 

Two years later^ NIE-9I of k Jvne 1953 continued to 
emphasize the critical problems of lack of support for the Bao Dai 
regime and lack of Indochinese will and ability to resist the Viet 
Minh. Some political progress could be pointed to diiring the preceding 
yearj including local elections in secure areas^ and decisions in 
March 1953 to increase the size of the Vietnamese National Army; 
and; a note that reads familiarly nearly fifteen years later: 

"Another Vietnamese program^ undertaken with U.S. 
economic assistance^ which involves the relocation of 
scattered villages in the J^orikln/. delta into centralized 
and defensible sites may be an Important step toward the 
eventual 'pacification' of heavily infiltrated areas." 


"Despite these advances^ Vietnam still lacks the degree 
of political strength essential for the mobilization of the 
country's resources. Tarn's 'action' piogram remains more 
shadow than substance. Elected local councils have no real 
po\7erj promised land reform and other social and economic 
reforms which might generate popular support have not left 

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the planning stage., and the Vietnamese government is 
handicapped by incompetent cabinet ministers and the 
lack of competent administrators. While Bao Dai refuses _ 
to assume active direction of the affairs of state^^ he 
remains hostile toward new leadership and democratic 
activities ♦" 

"Of more basic importance in the failure of Vietnamese 
to rally to the Vietnamese government following the French 
grant of independence within the French Union in 19^9 have 
been the following: 

a- Many Vietnamese doubt the ability of French^ 
Union forces to defeat the Viet Minh and prefer to remain 
apart from the struggle. 

b. The French Government had not dared to promise 
complete national independence at some future date^ as 
j' demanded by the Vietnamese^ because of the fear that the 

French national assembly would then refuse to support a 
war in a 'lost' portion of the French Union. 

/ ^ 

c. The Vietnamese^ despite many evolutionary steps 
toward complete independence since 19^9^ are generally 
inclined to believe that the French intend to retain effective 
control over the affairs of Vietnam. 

d. The nationalist appeal and military prestige of the 
Viet Minh remains strong among significant numbers of the 

2. Geneva^ 19^^ 

The Geneva Agreements of 195^ broiight to an end ^^^^ 
years of open warfare between the French and the Viet^Minh. In 1950, 
the conflict had been transformed from a purely colonial into a 
quasi-civil war^ in which the Viet Minh found themselves pitted 
against a non-comraunist Vietnamese state with nominal independence, 
enjoying significant U.S. support- Nonetheless, the conflict was 
settled by the original protagonists: France and the DEV. As of 
the sunMer of 195^^ U.S. assessments anticipated that a continuing 
French presence in Indochina would offset the Viet Minh menace m 
Worth Vietnam, The U.S. expected its own "political action -■ - 
e.g., forming SEATO — further to buttress "free Vietnam. Initially, 
at least, the U.S. looked on Diem as an unlmown quantity with uncertain 
chances of succeeding against two sorts of challenges: the political 
turbiaence within South Vietnam on the one hand, and on the other 
organized, communist-led remnants of the Viet Minh apparatus operating 
in concert with the DRV. In the years through 19^0, estimates of the 
relative urgency of these two challenges varied. U.S. intelligence 
estimates rarely expressed confidence that Diem could overcome both 

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these threats^ and usually the odds were judged to be against his 
surmounting either in the long run- 

However^ U.S. estimates in the iimuediate aftermath of 
Geneva held that a forceful direct communist challenge was unlikely 
through 1956. Diem was expected to enjoy a respite in which he could 
deal with other internal opposition^ and shore up his government. 
Most estimates then concluded that the principal reason why the com- 
munists were lonlikely to make an open challenge during that period 
was the very likelihood that Diem would prove unable to consolidate 
his power^ and that South Vietnam would fall to the communists in 
the general elections scheduled for 195^^ ^^ ^^t as a result of 
earlier internal turmoil. Thus^ a National Intelligence Estmate of 
3 August 19'^k (nIE 63-5-5^^ p. 1) stated: ■ 

"We believe that the Communists will not give up^their 
objective of securing control of all Indochina but will^ 
without violating the armistice to the extent of launching an 
armed invasion to the south or west^ pursue their objective 
by political^ psychological^ and paramilitary means . " 

"Although it is possible that the French and Vietnamese^ 
even with fiim support from the U.S. and other powers^ may be 
able to establish a strong regime in South Vietnam^ we believe 
that the chances for this development are poor and^ moreover^ 
that the situation is more likely to continue to deteriorate 
progressively over the next year. ..." 

In the light of the lessons of the first Indochinese 
War^ the possibility of meeting the longer term challenge from the 
communists was seen as requiring not only the establishment of an 
efficient government in South Vietnam (thus circumventing the short- 
term tendencies toward chaos in the south) ^ but a government under 
"strong Nationalist leadership/' that could enlist the loyalty and 
active participation of the people in a united struggle against com- 
munist forces. This^ in turn^ at that time^ was seen to depend on 
swift^ firm^ French action to back such leadership. But such a 
change in French policy appeared unlikely, ( ibid .; p. 6) 

"On the basis of the evidence we have at this early date^ 
however_3 we believe that a favorable development of the 
situation in South Vietnam is unlikely. Unless Mendes-France 
is able to overcome the force of French traditional interests 
and emotions which have in the past governed the mplementa- 
tion of policy in Indochina; we do not believe there will be 
the dramatic transformation in French policy necessary to win 
the active loyalty and support of the local population for a 
South Vietnam Government. ..." 

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As the year 195^ wore on_, the near paralysis of the 
government and the increasing challenges to Diem's leadership from 
non-communist elements seemed increasingly to confirm the judgment 
U.S. estimates ascribed to the communists: that no forceful measures ■ 
open violations of the Geneva Agreement^ risking U.S. intervention — 
would be necessary to achieve the eventual extension of DRV authority 
throughout Vietnam. These developments reinfoced the U.S. expecta- 
tion that the communists would stand back from open intervention^ at 
least until the scheduled date of elections in July 195^. 

Yet J as early as November^ 195^; a National Estimate 
projected the likelihood that if -- contrary to expectations — the 
communists should be denied a victory by political means on or before 
July 1956^ they would turn to violent means_, using their remaining 
apparatus in the south for terrorism and guerrilla action and 
reinforcing it by infiltration. According to NIE 63-7-5^^ 23 November 
195^ (p- 9): 

"We believe that the Viet Minh will continue to gain in 
political strength and prestige and^ with Chinese aid^ to 
increase its military striking power in North Vietnam. The 
Viet Minh probably now feels that it can achieve control over 
all Vietnam without initiating large-scale warfare. Accordingly^ 
we believe that the Communists will exert every effort to 
accomplish their objectives through means short of war. ..." 

"If J on the other hand^ South Vietnam should appear to be 
gaining in strength or if elections were postponed over Communist 
objections^ the Communists probably would step up their sub- 
versive and guerrilla activities in the South and if necessary 
would infiltrate additional armed forces in an effort to gain 
control over the area, i i 7^^ 

As of late 195^^ the Estimate stated the "present key to 
political povrer in South Vietnam" was still held by the French. 
"Under present circumstances ^ only the French can provide to the 
legitimate governing authority in Vietnam the power it now lacks^ 
and force the coalescence of the various factions^ groups^ and 
individuals." ( ibid .^ p. 5) As for Diem himself: "Diem^ the 
leading lay Catholic in Vietnam_j is honesty austere^ and widely ■ 
respected for his integrity and nationalistic zeal. . . . However^ 
Diem is rigid; unwilling to compromise^ and inexperienced in the 
roiigh and tumble of politics. He is acutely suspicious of his col- 
leagues on the political scene and is inclined to seek advice among 
a small group of relatives and close friends who^ for the most part^ 
are incapable of proffering sound counsel . . . None of the groups 
opposing Diem has any broad-based popular support. It is the weakness 
of Diem rather than any genuine political strength of their ovm that 
enables them to prolong the political crisis in Saigon. ..." 
(Ibid. J p. 4) ■ . 

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The Estimate noted that the French might decide that 
in order to preserve their relationship with the U.S.^ "it is 
essential to support an anti-Commiinist South Vietnam^ postponing 
elections if necessary. The French would feel/ however^ that such a 
course would involve a substantially increased risk of renewed. . 
hostilities with the Viet Minh. ..." (ibid., p. 8) 

"We believe that the French estimate that South Vietnam 
cannot be held over the long term^ except at very high cost." 
( Ibid ., p. 8) 

The French were unlikely to provide Diem with the "full 
and positive support" -- despite a French-U.S. understanding of 
September 29^ in which the French agreed "to support Diem in the 
establishment of a strong, ant i- Communist regime in Vietnam" ( ibid ., 
p. 7). "Diem will probably not be able to reestablish the authority 
of the government throiighout South Vietnam and to tackle effectively 
the multitude of pressing problems now facing the country." ( ibid ., 
p. 8) Thus, the Estimate ended on a gloomy note: "We believe, on the 
basis of present trends, it is highly unlikely that South Vietnam 
will develop the strength necessary to counter growing Coimunist sub- 
version within its border; it almost certainly would not be able to 
defeat the Communists in countrywide elections . E\^en before the 
elections schedioled for 195 6, the probable growth of Communist 
influence in the South may result in strong pressures within South 
Vietnam for coalition with the North." ( ibid ., p. 9) 

Subsequently, reassured by Diem's successes in subduing 
a variety of non-communist challenges to his leadership, the U.S. 
moved into the key role in support of Diem it had earlier hoped the 
French might undertake. Yet the question posed by the French apprecia- 
tion of the situation remained hanging: Was it possible to hold South 
Vietnam "over the long term" without a "very high cost"? 

3. Sect Warfare, I955-I95T 

By the spring of 1955, Diem was engaged in a sharp con- 
frontation with the Binh Xuyen gangsters and with the religious sects 
of the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai, and the possibility was recognized that 
he might (as in fact, he did) win victory and increase his prestige 
and authority. J}Ievertheless, an estimate of 26 April 1955 ^as still 
pessimistic about his longer-texm prospects: 

"Even if the present impasse were resolved, we believe 
that it would be extremely difficult, at best, for a Vietnamese 
government, regardless of its composition, to make progress 
toward developing a strong, stable ant i- Communist government 
capable of resolving the basic social, economic, and political 


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problems of Vietnam^ the special problems arising from the 
Geneva agreement^ and capable of meeting the long-range challenge 
of the Comm-unists. ..." (NIE 63-1-2-55^ 26 April 1955^ P- 3) 

Meanwhile^ it continued to appear likely that open communist 
pressure would be postponed until mid-1956^ but only until then. An 
estimate of probable developments in North Vietnam to July 195^ con- 

"... The resumption of widespread guerrilla activities 
appears unlikely prior to the election deadline ^ unless the DRV 
should come to the conclusion that South Vietnam can be won 
only by force. Such a conclusion would become more likely should 
the Diem government persist in refusing to enter the election 
discussions;, should election discussions not proceed favorably 
for the DRV^ or should the Diem government succeed^ with US 
assistance, in consolidating its strength to the point of becoming 
a nationalist alternative to the Ho regime. Moreover, if during 
the period of this estimate little progress is made towards 
relaxing tensions, Peiping and Moscow might permit the DRV 
greater freedom of action. Should the DRV decide to use force 
short of open invasion, it would probably attempt to undermine 
the Saigon government by initiating a campaign of sabotage and 
terror, seeking the formation of a new government more amenable 
to demands for a national coalition. These tactics are likely 
I to include the activation of DRV guerrilla units now in South 

Vietnam and their reinforcement by the infiltration in small 
units of regulars from the North -'' (NIE 63.1"55j 19 July 1955^ 

By the fall of I955, although Diem and his army were 
still struggling with Hoa Hao and Cao Dai (having scattered the Binh 
Xuyen), it seemed likely that they wouid prevail, and emerge with 
unchallenged authority, at least for a time: 

"Nevertheless, the success of Diem's efforts to establish 
a viable anti-Communist government in South Vietnam is still in 
doubt . Although Diem has established control over the 
apparatus of government, he has dealt only in part with such 
fundamental problems as: (a) the development of an effective 
administration, particularly on provincial and local levels; 
(b) the institution of a popuJ-arly-sanctioned constitutional 
basis for the regime; (c) the elimination of armed opposition and 
the extension of government authority throughout all areas of 
South Vietnam; (d) the suppression of Viet Minh military and 
political capabilities remaining in South Vietnam; and (e) the 
restoration of the economy." (nIE 63.1"3"55^ H October 1955, 
P- 3) 

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In the fall of 1955^ the time was approaching when Diem' 
had to reckon with coinmunist reaction to a denial of their hopes for 
peaceful political victory. 

"Diem will almost certainly not agree to hold national 
elections for the unification of Vietnam by July 195^. 
Although Diem; under pressure from the Western Powers^ 
might reluctantly agree to indirect consultations with the DRV 
concerning elections^ he would insist on conditions which he 
felt certain the Communists would be unable to accept. Aware 
that such a position will probably cause the Viet Minh to 
increase their efforts to destroy his government^ Diem will 
probably seek to bind the US more specifically to the defense 
of Vietnam." 

"The Viet Minh^ despite their relative quiescence ^ present 
the greatest potential threat to Diem. Should the Viet Minh 
elect openly to invade the south with regular forces^ they are 
capable of defeating the VM and any French forces (if committed) 
now present in South Vietnam. Moreover^ with an estimated 
10^,000 military personnel in South Vietnam, the Viet Minh have 
the capability to undertake local sabotage and terrorist actions^ 
and small-scale but widespread guerrilla warfare. The Viet Minb 
can reinforce these forces by infiltrating into South Vietnam. 
■ The Viet Minh apparently exerts political influence in many 
areas scattered throughout South Vietn amT" (NIE 63.1-3-55/ 
11 October 1955^ p. l) 

"Should the Viet Minh initiate large-scale guerrilla 
operations supported by substantial infiltration from the 
north; the South Vietnamese government would be hard pressed 
to do more than maintain control in the Saigon-Cholon area and 
in a few other major urban centers. If the operation were pro- 
longed; the government probably could not survive without 
military assistance from outside." ( ibid . ^ p- 2) 

Diem's greatest assets in this struggle were: 


. • . his reputation for honesty and -unsullied 
nationalism^ his control of the Vietnamese National Army^ 

and the moral and financial support of the U.S. In addition^ 
Diem has gained considerable popular following^ especially 
in urban centers and in recently pacified areas and has the 
loyalty of the refugees from North Vietnam. However ^ should 
he lose army or US support , his regime would probably 
c ollaps e . " ( Ibid . _, p . 3 ) 

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As early as the fall of 1955; limitations that later were 
to loom large on his ability to attract subordinate leadership were 


. . His cabinet is composed primarily of loyal 
technicians who lack political stature. Most well known 
political figures of the pre-Diem period have been alienated 
by Diem's unwillingness to trust them and by his insistence 
that unquestioned acceptance of his leadership is the only 
basis for cooperation. Diem has depended heavily on his 
unpopular brothers for advice and entrusts them with positions 
of great responsibility. His tendency toward 'one man rule^ ' 
his dependence on his brothers for advice^ and his rejection of 
Vietnamese leaders whom he does not trusty has denied his 
government many of the few trained administrators." ( ibid . ^ 

pp. 3-^) 

As for the public^ when he took office in J-uly 195^> the 
most significant political convictions of most South Vietnamese were 
"antipathy for the French combined with a personal regard for Ho Chi 
Minh as the symbol of Vietnamese Nationalism- ..." (ibid.^ p. 2) 

Diem's efforts to "galvanize mass popular support" 
concentrated initially on "exploiting popular antipathy for Bao Dai 
and the French" and subsequently on developing "strong anti-Communist 
sentiment." ( ibid .^ p. k) Nevertheless^ confronting a commimist 
regime in North Vietnam "possessing a far stronger Army^ a more 
experienced administration^ greater cohesion of leadership and greater 
drive than the government of South Vietnam,, " and led by Ho Chi Minh^ 
"Premier Diem v^ill almost certainly not agree to a test of relative 
popular strength in national elections." ( ibid .^ p. 5) 

Although no estimates in the 1955-1956 period assumed 
the communists would open guerrilla operations immediately upon the 
final frustration of their election hopes in July 195^^ the estimates 
recognized increasing pressures upon the communists for recourse to 
violent methods of achieving their long-run objectives. The 19 October 
1955 NIE held that: 


They probably estimate that unless they 

effectively challenge the position of the Diem government 
the latter will gradually strengthen and stabilize its 
position. Moreover^ they have probably concluded that Diem 
will not agree to elections or unification schemes which would 
favor the Comm-imists. Under these circumstances the chances 
for a Communist talie-over of the south by means short of open 
force might decline. On the other hand; the Communists also 
probably realize that the use of force against South Vietnam — 


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either through open invasion or by infiltrating sirfficient 
troops across the 17th Parallel to insure a successful 
'liberation' — would, jeopardize current Bloc peace policies 
and risk provoking US intervention. In addition^ the 
Communists may not presently have sufficient strength in 
South Vietnam quickly to overthrow the Diem government and 
may therefore estimate that to imdertake widespread guerrilla 
warfare without substantial infiltration from the north might 
lead not only to the weakening of their exposed organization in 
the south but also to a drastic loss of public support." 
( ibid .^ p. 6) 

However^ a July I956 WIE noted that if substantial 
infiltration from the DRV were deemed necessary^ it possessed the 



■ . . Ninety-five thousand men were evacuated from 
the south in the first few months following the Armistice. 
The DRV probably views this group as a possible instrument 
for subversive activity in South Vietnam and some may have 
been retrained; reindoctrinated^ and perhaps even 
reinfiltrated." (nIE 63-56; 1? July 1956, p. 6) 

By March I956; Diem had reduced the Cao Dai and Hoa 
Hao groups to political impotence; and had won a substantial majority 
in South Vietnam's first national elections: "no openly anti-Diem 
Deputy was elected . . . due in part to government manipulation of 
the election campaign; and in part to a boycott of the elections by 
most of the opposition parties." ( ibid .; p. 7) 

The same NIS stated that it was likely that "organized 
non-communist resistance" would virtually disappear by 1957 and; 
indeed; that South Vietnam's military and security forces could 
maintain "the government in power against any potential armed 
opposition now located south of the 17th parallel; " even against 
communist aimed strength in the south estimated at "8; 000 - 10; 000; 
with approximately 5,000 organized in skeletal company and battalion 
sized units which could be expanded through recruitment." ( ibid .; 
lO-ll) However; longer- run prospects of the regime still depended on 
the decision of the North Vietnamese regime whether; and when; to 
activiate their apparatus in the south and infiltrate "regroupees" 
from the north. 


... In the event of large scale; concerted guerrilla 
warfare supported by infiltration of men and supplies from the 
north; relatively large areas of rural Vietnam probably would 
be lost to goverimient control. ..." (ibid.; p. 10) 


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if the Coirmiunists decide to exercise their 

capability for armed intimidation and terror they could quickly 
reassert political control or influence^ at least in some rural 
areas where GVN authority is tenuous. 

"During the past year the Communists in South Vietnam 
have remained generally quiescent . They have passed by a number 
of opportunities to embarrass the Diem regime . Although some 
cadres and supplies are being infiltrated across the 17th 
parallel^ the DRV probably has not sent any large scale reinforce- 
ment or supply to the south. Communist activity in the south 
appears to concentrate on protecting vital bases and supply 
caches^ developing clandestine paramilitary organizations^ and 
implementing a broad program of infiltration and subversion. 
While seeking to maintain intact as much of their armed strength 
as possible^ their main activity seems to be an effort to 
weaken the Diem government by subversive and political tactics. 
Coramionist directives indicate that penetration and subversion 
of the G7N military and security forces is a major objective. 
..." ( Ibid ., p. 11) 

But the communists' choices were narrowing all the time: 

"The DRV probably estimates that its chances for securing 
control of South Vietnam by means short of open attack or 
large scale guerrilla action supported from the north will 
gradually diminish with the passage of time. . . . The DRV 
probably also believes that its covert assets in South 
Vietnam will gradually decline if the Diem government is ^ 
permitted to concentrate on "internal seciirity and economic 
problems free of external harassment." ( ibid .j pp. 12-13) 


"The only remaining course of action holding out some 
promise for the early achievement of Communist control in 
South Vietnam appears to be the development of large scale 
guerrilla warfare in the south. In recent weeks a number of 
reports from sources of untested reliability have indicated 
that the Communists may have started preparations in both 
South Vietnam and in the north to begin guerrilla action. 
DRV allegations of Vietnamese violations of the demilitarized 
zone along the ITth parallel and Communist claims of US-Diem 
plans to violate the Armistice could be propaganda cover for 
the initiation of guerrilla action against the south." 
(Ibid., p. 13) 

1 i 

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However, the July 1956 NIE took the position that the 
DRV was -unlikely to use its capabilities for instituting such large- 
scale guerrilla action within South Vietnam during the next year or 
so. Yet, Diem's unforeseen success in dealing with non-communist 
challenges led to increasing hope that he woixld be able to survive 
even a later confrontation with the communists. 

"... Diem's success in by-passing the July 195^ election 
date without evoking large scale Communist military reaction 
will reassure many Vietnamese and encourage them to cooperate 
with GYN programs to expose and root out Communists. Continued 
improvement in internal security will depend in some measure on 
the government's ability to deal with economic and social problems 
and on the effectiveness of the administrative apparatus. 

"If the Communists were to undertake large scale guerrilla 
action in South Vietnam, they probably .would not be able to 
develop widespread popular support, especially if the Yl^A were 
to register some early military success. The GVN is being 
increasingly accepted as a nationalist alternative to Communist 
leadership. Public confidence in the GVN, combined with general 
war-weariness, may have already reached the point where any 
effort to upset the government by force would lead to a strong 
popular reaction against the guerrillas, ( ibid ., p. 1^) 

This NIE came close to being a high-water mark in optimism 
concerning Diem's ability to meet his dual challenges, both short and 
long run. But political trends that could restore the vigor of his 
non-communist opposition were seen: 

"....The trend toward authoritarian rule through the 
political parties led by Diem's relatives and small circle of 
trusted associates will probably continue. Isolation and 
neutralization of government critics and men disliked or dis- 
trusted by Diem will also continue. Diem and his associates 
are likely to exert strong pressures against any opposition in 
the Assembly. Thus it is not likely that Diem or his govern- 
ment will meet any serious opposition in the National Assembly 
during the period of this estim^ate /through mid-195X7'i however, 
over a longer period the accuBiulation of grievances among 
various groups and individuals may lead to development of a 
national opposition movement " ( ibid ., p. l4) 

In January, 19573 ^^AAG Vietnajii' s semi-annual report to the 
Secretary of Defense (Country Statement on MDAP, Non-NATO Countries, date 
cited) noted hopefully that: 

"The internal security situation in Vietnam has improved 
during the last year in regards to the dissident sects. Viet 
Minh armed cadres total approximately 1,370 effectives, Hoa Hao 

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dissidents total approximately 85O.. Fo effective resistance 
is anticipated from the few remaining Cao Lai and Binh Xuyen. 
Activity of Viet Minh cadres in Free Vietnam has accelerated. 
While primarily political in nature^ it does pose a threat to 
internal security. These cadres are attempting to infiltrate 
and take over the dissident sects. Reports indicate that they 
have succeeded in these efforts with a fraction of the Hoa Hao. 
On the other hand, approximately 7,000 sect troops have indi- 
cated their loyalty by joining forces with the government and 
have recently been integrated as a part of the National Army." 

....It appears that the Communist efforts are mainly in a 
passive stage of long-range subversion of the 'will to fight.' 
The Vietnamese Psychological Action Section is increasing its 
efforts to counter 'Red propaganda'. Improvement of social 
status, security, and living standards are essential elements 
in preventing susceptibility to Communist subversion which may 
detract from the effectiveness of military forces." 

"The Vietnamese Army is considered capable of establishing 
and maintaining internal security throughout the populous areas 
of Free Vietnam against dissident sects and other anti-government 
elements. ..." 

"The Binh Xuyen have been destroyed as an effective anti- 
government military force and a major portion of the Cao Dai 
and Hoa Hao forces have been integrated into the National Army." 

"intelligence reports indicate that despite heavy losses 
due to military operations and desertions, the Viet Minh organiza- 
tion in Free Vietnam remains a serious problem. Recent mergers 
of other dissident and rebel elements with the Viet Minh, have 
considerably strengthened the Viet Minh cause." 

"The Civil Guard and Self-Defense Corps (in villages through- 
cut Free Vietnam) are of material assistance in supplementing 
the efforts of the Vietnamese Army in the accomplishment of 
the internal security mission. As these para-military units 
become better ec[uipped and trained, their increased capability 
t ^ ' ^^or assuming the major role in maintaining internal security 

will afford necessary relief of Army units for training. Simul- 
taneously, this will add to Free Vietnam's potential for pro- 
viding resistance to external aggression." 

An NIE of May 1957 on "The Prospects for North Vietnam" 
(NIE 63.2-57), considered that the comm_unist leaders in North Vietnam, 
despire "sporadic outbursts of violence," remained "in firm control 
largely because of the loyalty and effectiveness of the army." Hov^ever, 
they v/ere considered crucially dependent on the USSR and CPR, and v/ere 

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deemed unlikely to laimch an attack on the South unless there were unfore- 
seen serious disturbances there: 

"Not only are the DRV leaders bound to the Bloc by strong 
ideological ties, but the very existence of the Communist regime 
in North Vietnam is dependent on continued Bloc diplomatic, 
■ military, and economic support. The Chinese Communists seem 
to exercise somewhat greater influence than the USSR and have 
given the DRV greater economic and diplomatic support How- 
ever, there is no evidence that Soviet and Chinese Communists 
are at odds over North Vietnam." 

"The Bloc has recently given less than full support to 
Vietnamese reunification, to the perceptible discomfort of 
the DRV. At the May I956 meeting of the Geneva co-chairmen, 
the Soviet Union tacitly accepted the status q.uo in Vietnam 
for an indefinite period. In January 1957 the USSR further 
recognized the long term nature of the division of Vietnam 
when it proposed, as a countermove to Western proposals for 
the admission of South Vietnam and South Korea, that both North 
and South Vietnam and North and South Korea should be admitted 
to the United Nations. Nevertheless, the DRV will almost cer- 
tainly continue to be guided in its external course of action 
by the general policy set down by Moscow and Peiping, although 
it will continue to advocate a stronger policy on reunification." 

"The DRV continues to maintain its apparatus for subversion 
within South Vietnam and has the capability to infiltrate fairly 
large numbers of military and political personnel into South Viet- 
nam. Although the Communists in the South have been largely 
quiescent, some trained military personnel remain, loosely 
organized in small units that presujnably could be reactivated 
for missions of assassination, sabotage, or limited guerrilla 
activity. South Vietnamese security forces intermittently dis- 
cover cached Communist arms. 

"Because the country-wide elections envisaged by the Geneva 
Agreements have not been held and because military action, has 
been prevented, the DRV has been frustrated in its hopes of 
gaining control of South Vietnam. This has caused some discontent 
among cadres evacuated from the South in the expectation that 
they would soon return. Unification of the country remains a 
principal objective of the DRV regime, end it continues to seek 
support for its pretentions to emerge as the government of the 
whole of Vietnam. Its 'liberalization* measures are designed to " 
appeal to the population of the South as well as the North. The 
DRV has maintained its pose of adherence to the terms of the cease- 
fire agreement concluded at Geneva while accusing the Republic of 

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Vietnam and the US of violations. It is seeking to enhance 
its international prestige and position, and to secure 
the broadest possible support for the political settlement 
envisaged at the Geneva Conference which it still insists 
must eventually be implemented." 

"The DRV will probably continue for the next year or two 
to restrict its campaign for reunification to 'peaceful' means. 
However, the DRV will continue its efforts to infiltrate and 
to subvert official and nonofficial organizations and to exploit 
dissident and dissatisfied groups in South Vietnam. It would 
probably not use its paramilitary forces in South Vietnam to 
initiate widespread guerrilla activity unless it estimated that 
the situation in South Vietnam had so deteriorated that. such 
action could overthrow the government- The DRV will continue 
to have the capability to overrun South Vietnam in a relatively 
short time if opposed only by South Vietnamese forces, but it 
would only launch such an attack if the DRV together with Moscow 
and Peiping were to estimate that such action carried little 
risk of military intervention by the US." 

By mid-1957, the security outlook in South Vietnam, according 
to MMG's intelligence, was rosy indeed; the only dark clouds hovered 
over the Viet Cong (MAAG, "Country Statement..., 15 J^ly 1957): 

"In the past six months Dissident Sect strengths have 
fallen off. Numerically the Hoa Hao Sect has remained about 
the sajne (estimated at 85O-95O armed men) but its power has 
been greatly diminished due to continuous government military 
operations, the improvement of the Civil Guard and Self- Defense 
Corps, the capture of bases and ecLuipment by government forces, 
and the resulting loss in morale. Cao Dai and Binh Xuyen mili- 
tary forces are negligible.... 

"The Viet Cong guerrillas and propagandists, however, are 
still waging a grim battle for survival. In addition to an 
accelerated propaganda campaign, the Com_munists have been forming 
'front' organizations to influence at least portions of all ^anti- 
government minorities. Some of these organizations are militant, 
some political. An example of the former is the 'Vietnamese 
Peoples' Liberation Movement Forces,' a military unit composed 
of ex-Cao Dai, ex-Hoa Hao, ex-Binh Xuyen, escaped political^ 
prisoners, and Viet Cong cadres. An example of the latter is 
the 'Vietnajn-Cambodian Buddhist Association', one of several 
organizations seeking to spread the theory of 'Peace and Co- 
existence.' The armed strength of Viet Cong- controlled units 
in Free Vietnam is now estimated at approximately 1,500." 


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Declassified per Executive Order 13526, Section 3.3 
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h. Rise of the Viet Cong. 19'57-1960 

The Department of State sponsored an intelligence estimate^ 
for the U.S. SSA.TO Council Representatives, dated 3 ^^f^ ,, ^"^ ' , ^_^-, 
"Nature and Extent of the Communist Subversive Threat to tne^o^ocox 
States of Vietnajii, Canibodia, and Laos." This estimate held that tne 
DRV continued to pose a basic threat to the GVN: 

"Although Cominunist tactics have shifted over the past 
few years, the real objective -- ultimate Communist control 
of all Vietnam - has remained unchanged. Overt aggression, 
employed by the Communists prior to the Geneva Agreemen^^^ 
and ceasefire, has been at least temporarily put asiae 

ana ceaseiire, nas oeen ai; leaso oemjj^-i-^x^-j ^ _ accord 
favor of demands for 'peaceful reunification, _more m a 
with the general Soviet line of peaceful co-existence. 
Comm-anist peaceful pose, however, has not brought any reiaxa 
tion in the build-up of DRV military strength or ^^'^^^^^^^ 

Communist control over the population in Worth ^^f "^- ' °t^^, 

- , -^ ^ -h-rr -Mnp J)TN for Coimnunisx. 

over^ support and assistance proviaea oy one ur.^ _ t^os 

subversive activities in South Vietnam (as well ^^ =^^ 

and to a lesser extent Cambodia and Thailand) has not Deen 



"...The continuation of the Communist program to infil- 
trate and support subversive cadres in South Vietnajn is .^^^^ 
clearest indication of the unchanged nature of their °°>^® 
in Vietnam and the threat which this constitutes for tne uv . 
The strongly ant i- Communist policy of the GVN has forced tne 
Communists to operate underground rather than througti lega 
parties or front groups. Little concrete information is avail- 
able concerning the organization and leadership of the Communism 
subversive apparatus in South Vietnajn. At the time ol ^ 
armistice, a considerable number of armed and trained Communist 
military personnel were left behind in South Vietnam, organizea 
into a basic structure of a hierarchy of Administrative ana 
Resistance Comraittees. Effective security measures carriea oux 
by the Diem government have reduced these armed Communist caareb 
to an estimated llOO-ll+OO. The remaining cadres P^^o^^bly retain 
a roughly similar organizational pattern, although they _ nave 
reduced their unit size and reportedly have changed their stru - 
ture at the lowest level to make it more difficult for the GVN 
to penetrate the network. 

"Alongside the guerrilla nucleus (and undoubtedly with some 
duplication of personnel), the Communists have maintained ana 
sought to expand their political network in South Vietnam, ine 
latter organization probably encompasses a considerably larger 
number than the armed cadres, which, operating underground, are 
more difficult to identify or assess.... 

Ij TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

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NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 

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Leadership and direction for Communist subversive 
activity in the GVN is provided from North Vietnam by the 
Communist Lao Dong Party. In the past^ several South Viet- 
namese Communist leaders who went North at the time of the 
armistice have been identified as playing important roles in 
directing and coordinating Communist operations within the 
GVN. Most powerful of these is Le Duan^ who has recently 
enjoyed a swift rise to top-ranking status in the DRV hierarchy.., 

...The Communists are now believed to be actively culti- 
vating the remnants of the Hoa Hao, Cao Dai j and Binh Xuyen 
dissident bands, dispersed by GVN security forces in 1955* 
As many as 1,500 armed non-Communist dissidents are believed 
still in hiding in bands of various size in the delta region 
south of Saigon, the Plaine des Jones, along the Cambodian 
border and northwest of Saigon. Through the years, the weapons 
of these outlaw bands have deteriorated, and anmiunition has 
run low. The Communists are believed providing many of these 
bands with both assistance and guidance, in return for support 
or at least lip service to DRV aims. The DRV has also included 
a few minor sect leaders in its "Fatherland Front" in hopes 
of attracting support from sect adherents in the South. In ." 
its propaganda, the DRV claims to pursue a policy of religious 
tolerance and denounces the GVN for alleged religious perse- 

"a degree of success in the Communist efforts to subvert 
the sects and sect leaders was indicated by a recent raid on 
a French plantation about 50 miles north of Saigon. In addition 
to robbing and some wanton destruction, an estimated 3-700 
bandits claiming to be 'religious men' harangued the workers 
concerning the benefits of life in the North and warned them 
not to cooperate with the 'American- controlled' Diem govern- 
ment. The Cao Dai Pope, living in exile in Phnom Penh, has 
published statements in line with Commiinist themes, and an 
organization combining various sect remnants has reportedly 
been formed with a Communist advisor." 

The MAA.G intelligence estimate included in its mid-1958 report 
("Narrative Study," 2k August 1958) was, however, more directly focused 
on DRV conventional military strength, and displayed a somewhat different 
view of "Viet Cong" than had been evident in earlier MAA.G reports: 


^'**^**"'^*"*^^'"^"^"^~ — ^ T---I r n -■■■■■■I ■iiiiwiiiiMiiM -i I T'l ■ ■ 1 Ti¥- II 

" Viet Cong (North Vietnam Communists) : 

"(1) Strength : It is estimated that the Viet Cong in 
North Vietnam, currently have available approximately 268,000 
regular army troops organized into Ik Infantry Divisions, 
1 Artillery Division, 1 Anti-aircraft Artillery Groupment, 


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11 independent Infantry Regiments, 5 Security Regiments, plus 
combat support and service support units. In addition, there 
are para-militaj-y forces estimated to number up to approxmately 
235,000 personnel, which are organized as _ two separate forces, 
•the Provincial Forces and the Armed Militia.... 

"(2) Capabilities : . . .Although it is highly probable that 
some advance indication or warning will be received, an attacK 
on South Vietnam by Viet Cong forces could occur without warning 
at any time. With or without warning, it must be realized that 
the initiative, at least during the initial stages of a war, 
will rest with the Viet Cong. Accordingly, it must be assumea 
that the enemy will be able to provide for the necessary T^^^l^-^P 
of his forces, execute planned deplo^ents and launch his a^^acK 
at selected points at his own time and convenience. ...In con- 
junction with the conduct of operations by military forces, tne 
Viet Cong will employ to the maximum guerrilla forces and suD- 
versive/dissident elements already in place in South Vietnam. _ 
The strength of these elements is currently estimated at approxi- 
mately 2000 personnel, a majority of whom are armed. It _ can De 
expected that the Viet Cong will m.ake every effort to reintorce 
these elements prior to and during the initiation of hostilities 
in order to enhance their capability for the conduct of guerri±J-a 
warfare, create internal disorder, and execute sabotage and 
conduct attacks on pre-selected critical targets within_faoutn 
Vietnajn for the primary purpose of impeding or interfering witn 
operations being undertaken by South Vietnam armed forces 

"(3) Possible Courses of Action : 

"(a) Continuation of Viet Cong attempts to gain con- 
trol of South Vietnam through a combination of diplomatic, 
economic, political and subversive means. 

"(b) Overt use of military force against neighboring 
states is most likely to be undertaken unilaterally by the 
Viet Cong, but would be most likely a part of an all-out Com- 
munist effort to take all of Southeast Asia.' 

Washington estimates were, however, beginning to reflect 
concern over Diem's political solvency. For example, an Operations Co- 
ordinating Board Progress Report on U.S. policy in m^ainland Southeast ^ 
Asia, dated May 28, I958, drew attention both to an increase m communxst 
subversive and terrorist pressures against the Diem regime, and to aspects 
in Diem' s political style that could limit the ability of hxs regime to 
cope with those pressures: 

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"Political and Security Problems of the Diem Government . 
President Ngo Dinh Diem's policy of strict control in the polit- 
ical and economic fields has caused a certain amoimt of internal 
dissatisfaction. Should the President's exercise of personal 
authority develop too far there may "be danger that the resultant 
frustration of government officials might preclude the united 
support for his regime which the situation requires. Otherwise^ 
the President's stern police measures and his emphasis on 
internal security have led to some criticism of the government. 
This emphasis on internal security stems from the recent emer- 
gence of the country^ the continuation of comjnunist-inspired 
violence and subversion, and such phenomena as the assassination 
of local officials in rural areas of southern Viet-Nam." 

Half a year later, on January 7, 1959? ^ sim.ilar OCB 
Progress Report asserted: 

" internal Security . It has become increasingly clear that the 
communists, no longer expectant that Free Viet-Nam will fall to 
their control through peaceful methods, are executing a carefully 
planned campaign of violence aimed at undermining the stability 
of the Diem Government. Their concentration of activities in 
rural areas where communications and terrain make it difficult 
for the government to cope with them recalls the tactics used 
against the French during the Indochina War. Assassinations, 
particularly of officials in rural areas, continue at an alarming 
rate of about fifteen to thirty- five a month. Attacks on rubber 
pla.ntations and reported communist plans to break up the land 
development, land reform and agricultural credit programs indicate 
deliberate efforts to interfere with Viet-Nam' s economic programs. 


The first National Intelligence Estimate to assess the new 
situation- -and the first NIE or SNIE on South Vietnam since 1956"-was 
issued in May, 1959 (NIE 63-59, "Prospects for North and South Vietnam," 
26 May 1959): 

"The prospect of reunification of Communist North Vietnam 
(DRV) and western-oriented South Vietnam (GVN) remains remote. 
In the DRV the full range of Communist techniques is used to 
control the popu2_ation, socialize the economy, impose austerity 
and direct investment to economic rehabilitation and develop- 
ment. The DRV maintains large armed forces. In South Vietnam, 
despite the authoritarian nature of the regime, there is far 
more freedom. Local resources and US aid are devoted to developing 
the armed forces, maintaining internal security, and supporting 
a relatively high standard of living, with lesser emphasis on 
economic development.... 

"In South Vietnam political stability depends heavily upon 
President Diem and his continued control of the instruments of 


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power, including the army and police. Diem will almost 
certainly "be President for many years. The regime will 
continue to repress potential opposition elements and 
depend increasingly upon the effectiveness of the Can Lao, 
the regime's political apparatus, which is run "by Diem's 
brothers Khu and Can.... 

"The capabilities of the GVN armed forces will improve 
given continued US materiel support and training. Continu- 
ance of the present level of training is threatened by a 
recent findin_g of the International Control Commission (ICC) 
that the US Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission (TERM) should 
end its activities by mid-1959. In any event, GW forces 
will remain incapable of withstanding more than temporarily 
the larger DRV forces. The internal security forces will not 
be able to eradicate DRV supported guerrilla or subversive 
activity in the foreseeable future. Army units will probably 
have to be diverted to special internal security assignm.ents. . . . 

"The GVN is preoccupied with the threat to national security 
and the maintenance of large military and security forces. It 
will probably remain unwilling to devote a significantly greater 
share of resources and attention to longer range economic 
.^ development. Assuming continued US aid at about present levels, 

modest improvement in South Vietnam's economic position is likely. 
However, development will lag behind that in the North, and the 
GVN will continue to rely heavily upon US support to close the 
gap between its own resources and its requirements.... 

"There is little prospect of a significant improvement in 
relations between South Vietnam and Cambodia so long as the 
present leaders of the two countries remain in power. Relations 
with Laos will probably remain generally friendly. Continued 
suspicion that the French are intriguing in the area to reca.pture 
a position of major influence will probably prevent an improve- 
ment of Franco-GVN relations. ... 

"Despite widespread popular discontent, the Government of 
the DRV is in full control of the country and no significant 
internal threat to the regime is likely. With large-scale Bloc 
aid, considerable progress has been made in rehabilitating and 
developing the economy with major emphasis on agriculture, raw 
materials and light industry. The regime will probably soon 
have laid the foundations for considerable economic expansion.... 

"The DRV has no diplom.atic relations with any country out- 
side the Bloc and its foreign policy is subservient to the Bloc. 
We believe that it will continue its harassment of the GVN and 
of Laos, ttiough a military invasion of either is unlikely,..." 

21 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

«- \ 




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"President Diem continues to be the -undisputed ruler 
of South Vietnam; all important and many minor decisions 
are referred to him. Although he professes to "believe in 
representative government and democracy^ Diem is convinced 
that the Vietnamese are not ready for such a political 
system and that he must rule with a firm hand, at least so 
long as national security is threatened. He also believes 
that the country cannot afford a. political opposition which 
could obstruct or dilute the government's efforts to estab- 
lish a strong and secure state. Although respected for his 
courage, dedication, and integrity. Diem has remained a some- 
what austere and remote figure to most Vietnamese and has not 
generated widespread popular enthusiasm. 

"Diem's regime reflects his ideas. A facade of repre- 
sentative government is maintained, but the government is in 
fact essentially authoritarian. The legislative powers of 
the National Assembly are strictly circumscribed; the judici- 
ary is undeveloped and subordinate to the executive; and the 
members of the executive branch are little more than the 
personal agents of Diem. No organized opposition, loyal or 
othervase, is tolerated, and critics of the regime are often 
repressed. This highly centralized regime has provided 
resolute and stable direction to national affairs, but it 
has alienated many of the country's educated elite and has 
inhibited the growth of governmental and political institu- 
tions which could carry on in Diem's absence...." 

"Although the popular enthusiasm attendant on the achieving 
of indepexidence and the end of colonial rule has subsided and 
some disillusion has arisen, particularly among the educated 
elite, there appears to be little identifiable public unrest. 
There is some dissatisfaction among military officers largely 
because of increasing Can Lao meddling in military affairs. 
The growth of dissatisfaction is inhibited by South Vietnam's 
continuing high standard of living relative to that of its 
neighbors, the paternalistic attitude of Diem's government 
towards the people and the lack of any feasible alternative 
to the present regime. 

"The Communist apps.ratus in South Vietnam is essentially 
an operating arm of the North Vietnam.ese Communist Party (Lao 
Dong), but there have been recent indications of Chinese Com- 
munist participation in its operations. It is estimated that 
there are about 2,000 active guerrillas. They are in small 
units scattered along the Cambodian border, the south coast, 
and in the remote plateau region of the north. There are 
probably several thousand others, now inactive, v/ho have access 

22 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


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to arms and would participate in guerrilla activities if ^o , 
ordered. The grierrillas are able to marshall a force of several 
hundred men for major hit-and-run raids ^ as they demonstrated 
twice during 1958. They have recently stepped up their intimida- 
tion campaign, assassinating local officials in remote areas , 
terrorizing local populations and disrupting government operations 
The dissident armed remnants of the religious sects are largely 
broken up. About 2,000 such dissidents surrendered to the 
government during I958 and the few hundred remaining in the jungle 
are probably now absorbed or dominated by the Communists. 

'The government has been able to restrict but not eliminate 
the subversive and espionage activities of clandestine Communist 
agents. It is probable that Communists have penetrated some 
local army and security units, village councils, and local 
branches of the government. There is no evidence, however, that 
such penetration is sufficient to hamper government operations 
seriously or that it extends to the higher echelons of the 
government. There is probably a widespread Communist underground 
in the urban areas, especially Saigon, and Communist intelligence 
of GVN plans and activities is probably good. Commimist agents 
are also stimulating unrest among the tribal minorities in the 
central highlands, a relatively inaccessible and sparsely popu- 
lated area which the government is attempting to settle and 
develop, primarily for security reasons. 

■ "South Vietnam's 136,000-man array, supported by the Civil 
Guard, the Self-Defense Corps and the police services, is 
capable of maintaining effective internal security except in 
the most remote jungle and mountain areas. Until mid-19573 the 
army had the primary responsibility for internal security, and 
had considerable success. By that time major responsibility 
for internal security had been given to the provincial Civil 
Guard (48,000) and the village Self-Defense Corps (47,000). 
These organizations have proven to be inadequately trained and 
equipped for the job, and units from the armed forces have 
continued to be called in to meet special situations. The size 
and scattered distribution of the Civil Guard and Self-Defense 
Corps add to the problems of training and ec[uipping them and 
of coordinating their activities. . In some regions, they are 
infiltrated by Commimists. The police services, which include 
the 73500' man Vietnamese Bureau of Investigation and 10,500- 
man police force stationed in the main cities, have had con- 
siderable success in tracking down subversives and terrorists 
and are developing into efficient organizations. 

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■ \ 

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'South Vietnam has made only limited progress toward basic 
long-term economic development in the five years since inde- 
pendence. ..." 

"The prospects for continued political stability in South 
Vietnam depend heavily upon President Diem and his ability to 
maintain firm control of the army and police. The regime's 
efforts to assure internal security and its belief that an 
authoritarian government is necessary to handle the country's 
problems will result in a continued repression of potential 
opposition elements. This policy of repression will inhibit 
the growth of popularity of the regime^ and we believe that 
dissatisfaction will grow, particularly among those who are 
politically conscious " 

It was not until I96O that U.S. intelligence estimates 
began to reflect conviction that Diem's political base had in fact been 
seriously eroded, and that the DRV-supported Viet Cong posed a vital 
threat. The intelligence of I96O is treated in detail in Section C, 
below, suffice to say for the purposes of this summary, mounting rural 
violence validated the estimate of the 1959 NIE that a concerted and 
( dangerous Viet Cong attack on the GVN was underway- 

GVW Internal Security Indicators 
in ICE 8c SKLE, I958-I96I 

1958 1959 i960 
Assassinations of GVN ■■ 

Officials 8c Backers I93 239 l^iOO 

' Kidnappings 236 3^4 7OO 

But the most remarkable index of the Viet Cong upsurge was their reported 
zooming strength: 

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19^^ - 1964 
(Roionded to nearest thousand) 

Main and Local 

• Guerrillas_, Self-Defense 
Units^ Secret Self-Defense 
Uni t s ( Irregulars j 


1955-^ 10,000 


1956^ 5,000-7,500 

1957-^ 1,000-2,000 



1958^ April-2,000 



Sept. -7, 000 
Dec. -10, 000 

June - 15,000 
Sept. - 16,000 


3,000 (SNIE 63.1-60) 


- 17,000 

1962^ 23,000 


1963^^ June - 25,000 

196^^ June - 31,000 
Dec - 34,000 


72, 000 

NSC Briefing, 16 March 
1956- Open sources 
give 5-10,000. Weekly 
Intelligence Digest , 
18 May 1956, suggests* 
10,000 number should be- 
revised to 6-8OOO. 

Weekly Intelligence 
Digest , 10 August 1956. 

Weekly Intelligence 
Digest, 30 May I958; 
Weekly Intelligence 
Digest , 13 July I958 . 

Weekly Intelligence 
Digest, 19 December 


NIE 63-59, 26 May 1959- 

Weekly Intelligence 
Digest, 17 February 
1961. SNIE 63.1-60, 
3-5,000 regulars. 

Weekly Intelligence 
Digest , 13 October 
196ir "Weekly Intel - 
ligenc e Dig est, 20 
October 196lT~ 

Current Intelligence 
W eekly Sunmaary , OCI 
2 November I962. 

Southeast Asia Military 
Fact Book, DIA/JCS '. 
Based on MACV data. 
Data not retroactively 
adjusted. ■ 

^Estimate of Viet Cong strength for this period is subject to great 
imcertainty. The numbers here should be treated as order of magnitude. 

^■^Add approximately kOyOOO in the Viet Cong "infrastructure". The 
infrastructure is defined as the PRP^ PRP Central Committee, and the NLF. 
See MACV, Monthly Order of Battle Summaries , for a discussion. Also add 
23-25,000 in Administrative Service, i.e., staff and technical service 
units subordinate to various headquarters. 

#From letter. Rand Corporation, L~l498z (attachment 1, 8-II-67). 
Data in table are SECRET. 



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/ > 

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The statistical picture presented above of an insurgent- force declining 
in numbers from I95U through 1959, and then ir:Ushrooming rapidly in I96O 
and thereafter, is obviously misleading. What U.S. intelligence focused 
on in the immediate aftermath of Geneva were the remnants of the Viet 
Minh military force following the regroupment. These, whatever their 
strength, probably represented only a fraction of the numbers of former 
Viet Minh in active opposition to the GVN after 1956, and apparently did 
not reflect the total numbers of armed dissidents from 1957 onward, nor 
the locally recruited political and logistic apparatus which supported 
the Viet Cong "armed propaganda teams," or guerrilla bands. ^The phenom- 
enal growth of the Viet Cong, given the low estimates on infiltration 
from North Vietnam (some 5,000 through I96O), means either than ^ the ^ 
MV cadres were extraordinarily effective in organizing and motivating 
rural people among whom U.S. intelligence detected little unrest through 
mid-1960, or that U.S. estimates were low. The latter seems probable. 

Much of what the United States knows now about the origins 
of the insurgency in South Vietnam rests on information it has acquired^ 
since I963, approximately the span of time that an extensive and effective 
American intelligence apparatus had been functioning in Vietnam. Before 
then, our intelligence was drawn from a considerably more narrow and 
less reliable range of sources, chiefly Vietnamese, and could not have 
supported analysis in depth of insurgent organization and intentions. It 
is surprising, therefore, that from 195^ to I96O U.S. intelligence estimates 
at the national level correctly and consistently estimated that the threat 
to GVN internal security was greater than the danger from^overt invasion. 
They pegged the Viet Cong general offensive as beginning in late 1959? 
with some preparations noted as early as 1957* In general, they were 
critical of Diem, consistently expressing skepticism that he could thread 
his way through recognized internal political difficulty. To be sure, 
the same estimates misjudged the numerical and political strength of the 
Viet Cong, the extent of popular disaffection, and miscalculated the 
ability of the GVN to cope with the Viet Cong. But as strategic intelli- 
gence, U.S. estimates were remarkably sound. 

B. U.S. Policy and Programs, 195^-1960 

U.S. national policy statements of the period, in the records of 
the National Security Council, did not exactly reflect U.S. intelligence ^^ 
in treating insurgency as the GVN's primary threat. U.S. "counterinsurgency 
policy— though not so termed until 1960--pro?eeded from the premise that 
U.S. national interests required the U.S. to provide political support, 
economic aid, and military assistance to the GVN to preclude its domina- 
tion by communists. The policy governing in the immediate aftermath of 
Geneva was laid out in NSC 5^05 and 5^29/5 of 195^. On July 11, 1956, 
the Operations Coordinating Board published a "Progress Report" on the 
programs directed by these two policy papers, noting among "major problems 
or areas of difficulty" that: 

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"The Diem Government's resistance to communist demands 
for all-Vietnam elections, under the Geneva Accords, and its 
success in achieving internal security increase the likelihood 
of enlarged communist subversive efforts. This underlines 
the necessity of assisting the Diem Government to develop 
farther counter-measures with considerable emphasis on police 

and para-military forces and civic action The Vietnamese 

are increasingly critical of the general orientation and specific 
procedures of our aid program. Their request for an increased 
emphasis on capital development with consequent dimunition of the 
flow of consumer goods entering the country will require careful review 

NSC ^612/1 


During the summer of I956 the NSC Planning Board conducted a review of 
U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, and on September 5? 1956? the NSC adopted 
a new "Statement of Policy" (NSC 5612/1) which after stipulating that 
"the loss to Communist control of any single free country would encourage 
tendencies toward accommodation by the rest... "5 noted that: 

"Although Comm-unist policy now emphasizes non-military 
methods, the danger of overt aggression will remain inherent 
so long as Communist China and North Viet Nam continue a 
basically hostile policy supported by substantial military^ 
forces. There is only a cease-fire in Viet Nam and sporadic 

hostilities continue in Laos At present overt ^aggression 

and, except in the cases of Viet Nam and Laos, militant sub- 
■ version are less likely than an intensified campaign of ^ 
. Communist political, economic and cultural penetration in the 

NSC 5612/1 laid out the following objectives for Vietnam: 

"Assist Free Vietnam to develop a strong, ■ stable and 
constitutional government to enable Free Viet Nam to assert 
an increasingly attractive contrast to conditions in the 
present Coimnunist zone . " 

"work toward the weakening of the Communists in North 
and South Viet Nam in order to bring about the eventual peace- 
ful reunification of a free and independent Viet Nam under 
anti- Communist leadership." 

"Support the position of the Government of Free Viet Nam 
that all-Viet Nam elections may take place only after it is 
satisfied that genuinely free elections can be held throughout 
both zones of Viet Nam." 

"Assist Free Viet Nam to build up indigenous armed forces, 
including independent logistical and administrative services," 
which will be capable of assuring internal security and of 
providing limited initial resistance to attack by the Viet Minh." 


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"Encoiirage Vietnamese military planning for defense 
against external aggression along lines consistent with 
U.S. planning concepts based upon approved U.S. policy, 
and discreetly manifest in other ways U.S. interest in 
assisting Free Viet Nam, in accordance with the SEATO 
Treaty, to defend itself against external aggression." 



"Treat the Viet Minh as not constituting a legitimate 
government, and discourage other non-Communist states from 
developing or maintaining relations with the Viet Minh 
regime . " 

"Prevent the Viet Minh from expanding their political 
influence and territorial control in Free Viet Nam and 
Southeast Asia." 

"Deter the Viet Minh from attacking or subverting Free 
Viet Nam or Laos." 

"Probe weaknesses of the Viet Minh and exploit them 
internally and internationally whenever possible." 

"Exploit nationalist sentiment within North Viet Nam 
as a means of weakening and disrupting Sino-Soviet domina- 

"Assist the Government of Viet Nam to undertake programs 
of political, economic and psychological warfare against 
Viet Minh Communists." 


"Apply, as necessary to achieve U.S. objectives, 
restrictions on U.S. exports and shipping and on foreign 
assets similar to those already in effect for Coimnunist 
I China and North Korea." 


I _ b. NSC ^809 

j I ' In 1958, NSC 5612 was reviewed, and the portions on Vietnam reapproved 

j ■ without significant change. Proposed revisions, underlined below, indi- 

cated increased awareness of the GVN's deteriorating internal security: 

"Assist Free Viet Nam to develop a strong, stable and 
constitutional government to enable Free Viet Nam to assert 
an increasingly attractive contrast to conditions in the 
present Communist zone. In this regard and assist 

28 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 


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public relations and public information programs of the 
government of Viet Nam directed both internally to the 
free Vietnamese and externally to north Viet Nam. . 

7?— -x- 

"Assist Free Viet Nam to build up indigenous armed forces , 
including independent logistical and administrative services, 
which will be capable of assuring internal security and of 
providing limited initial resistance to attack by the Viet 
Minh." ^^ 

Otherwise 5 however ^ the new policy paper (NSC 5809 of April 2 5 
1958) was identical to its I956 predecessor. 

In late May of I958 the Operations Coordinating Board submitted a 
progress report on U.S. programs in Vietnam which held that "in general we 
are achieving U.S. objectives in Viet-Nam." Among major operating problems 
facing the U.S., the report cited Vietnam's continued dependence on foreign 
aid: "in spite of some evidence of greater economic stability, Viet-Nam 
continues to depend on foreign aid, the largest part of which goes to sup- 
port the military establishment. U.S. aid still accounts for approximately 
85 percent of imports in two-thirds of . the budgetary revenues." Also cited 
were the "political and security problems of the Viet-Nam Government": 

"President Ngo Linh Diem's policy of strict control in the 
political and economic fields has caused a certain amount of 
internal dissatisfaction. Should the President's exercise of 
personal authority develop. too far there may be danger that the 
resultant frustration of government officials might weaken the 
united support for his regime which the situation requires. Other- 
wise, the President's stern police measures and his emphasis on 
internal security have led to some criticism of the government. 
This emphasis on internal security stems from the recent emergence 
of the country, continuation of communist-inspired violence and 
subversion, and such incidents as the assassination of local 
officials in rizral areas of southern Vietnam..,." 

The OCB report took up the note that the U.S. should "encourage and assist 
elements of the Army of Vietnam to establish and utilize specific anti- 
subversive guerrilla formations and operations," but stated that anti- 
guerrilla operations interfered with the efficient training of the army: 



Proposed by CIA and evidently adopted, although this is not altogether 
clear in DOL files. A further CIA revision, not adopted, would have 
added: "In this effort priority should be given to areas of greatest 
dissidence, particularly in the extreme south 


•5^^ A CIA proposed amendment, evidently not approved, would have added: 

"Also encourage and assist elements of the Army of Viet Nam to establish 
and utilize specific anti-subversive guerrilla formations and operations. 
In the anti-guerrilla campaign encourage the government of Viet Nam to 
use the Vietnamese Army in a way which will help v/in the favor of the 
local populace in order to obtain its support for their campaigns, partiC' 
ularly for intelligence purposes." 


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Viet "Nam . While continuing reorganization and training 
along U.S. lines the Vietnamese Armed Forces... are still con- 
ducting operations against fragments of dissident sects and 
Viet Cong guerrillas. These military operations have succeeded 
in practically eliminating the Binh Xuyen and Cao Dai forces. 
The Hoa Hao, operating along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, 
• even though sm^all, still give the Vietnamese some embarrassment 
and required the employment of a small portion of the Vietnajnese 
Array against their operations. The over-all success against 
these anti -government forces has facilitated the release of the 
majority of the Vietnamese units from pacification missions, 
thus increasing emphasis on unit training and the concomitant 
increased effectiveness of the armed forces. In addition, the 
activation of two corps headquarters within the army was com- 
pleted last month and has resulted in a more satisfactory 
command structure which will materially increase the combat 
efficiency of the army. 

In 1959 U.S. policy papers began to emphasize that GVN pre- 
occupation with internal security interfered with its ability to prosecut 
other desired programs, and particularly that economic development lagged 
what was "politically necessary" to "compete" with the DRV. The fol- 
lowing is from the OCB Progress Report of January 7^ 1959: 


"32. Developments related particularly to a U.S. course 
of action to assist Free Viet-Nam to develop a strong, stable 
and constitutional government which" would work toward the 
weakening of the commiinists in both North and South Viet-Nam. 
President Diem remained firmly in control despite some political 
dissatisfaction vrith his government .... The communists and dissi- 
dents continued their campaign of assassinations, especially of 
officials in rural areas and carried out attacks aimed at dis- 
rupting Viet-Nam' s economic progress. Although the government 
gave increasing attention to development of the economy, such 
development continued to be inhibited by almost pre-emptive 
military requirements which utilized a substantial portion of 
Viet-Nam's total resources, including U.S. aid 



"33* Diem's Internal Political Position . Diem increased 
his travels throughout the country for the purpose of popular- 
izing his regime. Increasing accomplishments of the government 
in the economic and social fields should also have beneficial 
political results. Nevertheless, the failure of the government 
to fully rally certain elements of the middle class, the intel- 
lectuals and former officials to its support, the frustration 
and restlessness of some of the present officials, and some 


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discontent in the army are sources of political weakness. 
This dissatisfaction is caused primarily by the authoritarian 
and pervasive political controls of the Ngo family and its 
associates • 

Status of U.S. Actions : The desirability of liberalizing 
political and administrative controls is brought to the attention 
of the Vietnamese Government^ when considered appropriately by 
the U.S. Ambassador. Possible lines of U.S. action are greatly 
limited due to the extreme sensitivity of Vietnamese leaders on 
this subject. 

"3^- Internal Security . It has become increasingly clear 
that the communists ^ no longer expectant that Free Viet-Nam 
will fall to their control through peaceful methods, are executing 
a carefully planned campaign of violence aimed at undermining the 
stability of the Diem Government. Their concentration of activi- 
ties in rural areas where communications and terrain make it 
difficult for the government to cope with them recalls the tactics 
used against the French during the Indochina War. Assassinations, 
particularly of officials in rural areas, continue at an alarming 
rate of about fifteen to thirty- five a month. Attacks on rubber 
plantations and reported communist plans to break up the land 
development, land reform and agricultural credit programs indi- 
cate deliberate efforts to interfere with Viet-Nam' s economic 
programs . " 

The subsequent OCB Progress Report of August, 1959--by which 
time the insurgency was spreading rapidly--illustrates well the policy 
difficulties of the United States in responding to the situation within 
the constraints of the Geneva Settlement. The report noted that the 
GVN: . ■ 

" Has undertaken or planned such countermeasures as the 

use of armed force, special military courts for the prom-pt 
trial of terrorists, the removal of peasants from isolated 
spots to larger villages, and the publicizing of internal 
security incidents to counteract the 'peaceful' propaganda 
of the North Vietnamese communist regime. Vietnamese mili- 
- tary forces have improved under the MAAG training program, 
but the continuance of training at present levels would be 
inhibited by any action of the International Control Commission 
arising from its opposition to the indefinite retention in 
Viet-Nam of certain United States military personnel originally 
sent out for eq.uipment salvage work and now largely used to 
supplement MAAG personnel in training duties. This necessi- 
tates efforts to x^rork out \jlth the Canadian, British and 
Indian Governments an acceptable basis in consonance with 
the Geneva Accords for an increase in MAA.G personnel adequate 


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to replace the special mission personnel referred to above. ^ 

Implementation of the United States aid project for re-traxnmg 

and re-eq.uipping the Civil Guard has began with the signing 

of the ICA project agreement with the Vietnamese Government and 

the despatch of ICA personnel to administer this project ^m 

Saigon. In spite of substantial U.S. assistance, economic develop- _^ 

ment though progressing, is below that which is politically desirable. 

c. Public Statements 

Despite the increasingly pessimistic intelligence, however, 
and despite the notations in NSC reports of formidable problems in Viet- 
nam, the public statements of Administration spokesmen, through August 
1959 presented a generally sanguine picture of U.S. programs there . For 
example, in November, 1957, Ambassador Durbrow and General WiHiajns 
appeared before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Government 
Operations and reported that Diem's government "had made remarkable 
progress." However, they did report that "Communists _ and _ sect remnants 
have regrouped and stepped up their terrorist activities in the past 
several months, and the Communists are infiltrating down the sparsely 
inhabited Meking Valley and are becoming fairly active, particularly 
in the south. For this reason, ^iem/ still has to use considerable 
number of his armed forces and a large number of his police force ^ to 
carry on pacification work. Because of the terrorist activities m tne 
fertile Delta area, the peasants, through fear or intimidation, cannot 
till their fields properly and thus produce more rice and other exports .... 
The Ambassador stressed that Diem was aware of the problem — indeed, 
acutely aware -- but that he was impelled to defer all other considera- 
tions to the creation of an environment of security. The Ambassador 
quoted Diem as follows: "if we don't have assurances on the security 
f^ont, what good will it do to build up the econon^ only to have it 
destroyed by Communist terrorists?" The Ambassador described Diem as 
"a devoted, honest, hard-working. Nationalist with a fine understanding 
of the internal political situation as well as the international political 
picture, particularly in Asia; but in consideration of his preoccupation 
of ^ecurit^ he moves slowly in these fields.... 

In March I958 Admiral Felix B. Stump, USN, Commander in Chief, 
Pacific, appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to 
testify for the Mutual Security Act of 1958. Admiral Stump invited 
one of his questioners on Vietnam to visit the country on the conviction 
that "he would be astonished at the improvement that has taken place. It 
has been beyond what would have been our wildest and most optimistic 

* U.S. Congress, House, Foreign Aid Cors truction Projects, Committee on 
Governjnent Operations, 85th Congress, Second Session, (Washington: 
GPO, 1958), 861^-866. 

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dreams three years ago to see what has happened in South Vietnam." The 
"^ Admiral also reported that while the Hoa Hao were still presenting diffi- 
culties in some areas , the BirJi Xuyen and the Cao Dal were "pretty well 

But U.S. policy in Vietnam did not again achieve the status of a 
national issue until the summer of 1959, when a Scripps -Howard newspaper- 
man published a series of articles alleging that the U.S. aid program in 
Vietnam was ill-directed, encumbered by waste and delay, and administered 
by bumbling, plush-livlng bureaucrats. Both the Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs thereupon conducted 
hearings, and Ambassador Durbrow and General Williams were among the 
Administration officials called to testify- "^^ The picture presented in 
their testimony was so roseate that Senator Mansfield, for one, was inclined 
to look for an early termination of U.S. aid: 

"SEMTOR MANSFIELD. It would be correct to say, would it not, 
that a principal purpose of U.S. policy in Vietnam has been to 
prevent Communist aggression from the north? 

"MR. DURBROW. That is one of our basic policies, sir. 

"SENATOR MANSFIELD. And in a general way, another principal 
purpose has been to foster Internal political and economic 
^ stability in South Vietnam, is that correct? 

"MR. DURBROW. Correct. 

"SENATOR MANSFIELD. Still another would be to maintain friendly 
ties with the Vietnamese? 

"MR. DURBROW. Yes, sir. 

"SENATOR MANSFIELD. You have Instructed the various missions 
along these lines, have you not? 

4 "MR. DURBROW. I have, sir. 

"SENATOR MANSFIELD. Have you ever instructed them to the effect ■ 
that one of our purposes was to encourage the development of 
conditions of economic self-support in Vietnam which would 
enable us to reduce and eventually eliminate grants of aid? 

"Before you answer that, I want to compliment General 
Williams for what he had to say relative to his contacts with 


If "^ U.S. Congress, Senate, Mutual Security Act of 19^8 ? Committee on Foreign 

Relations, 85th Congress, Second Session (Washington: GPO, I958), 120-121. 

^■^ U.S. Congress, Senate, Situation In Vietnam , Committee on Foreign Rela- 
tions, 86th Congress, First Session (Washington: GPO, 1959)? I68-I7I, 
198-199 ; House, Current Situation in the Far East , Committee on Foreign 
Affairs, 86th Congress, First Session (Washington: GPO, 1959) 3 3^ ff • 5 
45 ff. 

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the Vietnamese Government^ because he has told them^ if I 
remember his words correctly, that he was there to work himself 
out of a job. 

"Mr. i^jnbassador? 

"MR. DURBROW. That is one of the principal jobs we are doing 
there. We work on this at all times , working out the projects 
and plans for aid needed, discussing them with the Vietnamese 
officials and trying to do all we can to build up a sound basic 
economic structure so that they will become economically inde- 

"I might add that this is the goal of all of these newly- 
developing countries and, particularly, Vietnam. 

"The President has said to all of us many times: 

"We are grateful for your aid, but we hope we can get on our 
feet as soon as possible," and that is one of the principal ■ 
objectives we are trying to carry out. 

"SEMTOR MAUSFIELD. You are to be commended for it. That is 
a sound statement. 

"So far as the aid progreuns are concerned, we have sought 
to achieve our various objectives, have we not, primarily 
through support of the Vietnamese armed forces and by assistance 
in the rehabilitation of the Vietnamese economy." 

"SENATOR M/VNSFIELD. Now, Mr. Durbrow, in the opening statements 
at this hearing we have had a pictiire drawn of some very signifi- 
cant changes in the situation in Vietnam since 1955- 

"We know, for example, that in that year the survival of a 
free Vietnam and a free Vietnamese Government was still in grave 
doubt i was that a correct statement? 

"MR, DURBROW. Quite correct. 

"SENA.TOR MANSFIELD. The stability of the government was threatened 
by the Binh Xuyen, by dissident political-religious sects such 
as the Hoa Hao and the Cao Dai. 

"There was a very substantial armed Communist Vietminh under- 
ground in the south; is that correct? 

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"MR. DURBROW. Not only in the south^ sir; they were concentrated 
down there 5 but they were all over the country, the Communists ^ 
in particular. 

"The sects were in the southwest basically, and in Saigon, 
but as far as the Binh Xuyen is concerned, they were primarily in 
the Saigon-Cholon area. 


"There was little real military strength to resist a Vietminh 
invasion from the north had it come about at that time? 

"MR. DURBROW. Very little, sir. ■ . 

"SEMTOR MAJTSFIEIiD. South Vietnam was a war-prostrated area with 
very extensive devastation? 

"MR, DURBROW. Quite correct. There is still evidence of that, sir 

"SEMTOR MA.NSEIELD. There were hundreds of thousands of refugees 
from the north waiting to be resettled, the figure being somewhere 
between 600,000, the official figure, and 1 million? 

"MR. DURBROW. Correct. 

"SEMTOR MA.NSFIELD. These conditions have changed in significant 
degree in the past k years, have they not? 

"MR. DURBROW. Very much so." 

"SEMTOR MANSFIELD. And there is a far greater degree of internal 
stability and security in Vietnam than there was in 1955? 

"AMBASSADOR DURBROW. Very definitely. 

"SEMTOR MANSFIELD. I should like to read into the record at 
this point a statement by Ma j . Gen. Samuel L. Myers, former 
Deputy Chief of MAAG in Vietnam. General Myers stated on 
April 17 of this year, and I quote: 

'The Binh Xuyen group vras completely eliminated as 
a menace. The Cao Dai group was pa.cified or reoriented 
through political mea^ns to a point V7here it ceased to 
be any considerable obstacle. The Hoa Hao had been 
reduced to a handful of the diehards still holding out 
against the Government and still conducting extremely 
limited armed raids and assassinations. The Vietminh 
guerrillas, although constantly reinforced by men and 
weapons from outside South Vietnam, were gradually 
nibbled away until they ceased to be a major menace 


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to the Government. In fact, estimates at the time of 

my departure indicated that there was a very limited 

niamber of hostile individuals under arms in the countrj. 

Two territorial regiments, reinforced occasionally by 

one or two regular army regiments, v/ere able to cope . ■ 

with their depredations.' 

"That would indicate a far greater degree of internal stability 
in Vietnam than that which existed h years ago; would it not? 


MR. DURBROW. Yes, sir. 

"SEMTOR MMSFIELD. I read farther from Major General Myers' 
statement. Speaking of the Vietnamese armed forces, he says, and 
I q.uote: 

'They are now able to maintain internal 'security and 
have reached the point where that responsibility could 
be turned over to the civilian agencies. If there should 
be renewed aggression from the north on the part of the 
Vietminh, they can give a really good account of themselves. 
There are many Vietnamese who are even more optimistic 
than that statement implies and feel that they have the 
capability of counterattack,' 

"That statement would indicate, would it not, considerable 
reduction of the danger of invasion from the north as it existed 
h years ago, or at least a' far greater capacity to cope with it; 
would it not? 

"MR. DURBROW. I would say the latter, sir. 

"SEmTOR MA.NSFIELD. A far greater capacity to cope with it? 

"MR. DURBROW. Because there are still Communists around, the 
danger is always there, ever present. But the possibility of 
countering it is much greater than it was before.... 

"SEMTOR MA.NSFIELD: What is the nature and purpose of military 
aid in Vietnam at the present time? 

"GENERAL WILLI/V^/IS (Chief, MAAG, Vietnajn). I would answer that 
in this way: The purpose of military aid in Vietnam is to enable 
the VietniJtiese armed forces to provide for the internal security 
of their country and act as a deterrent against outside aggression 

"SENATOR MNSFIELD. Would that explanation hold for 1955 as well? 



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w "SEMTOR mNSFIELD. Assuming no drastic change in the general 

situation in Indochina, what do you see in the next k years as 
J to the req.uirements of military aid in Vietnam? Are they likely 

'' to be substantially higher , are they likely to continue to be ' 

reduced in size or do you think they will remain just about the 
same? This calls for an estimate and an informed guess. 


"GENERAL WILLIAMS. I would like to caution that what I say now 
will be a guess, based, however, on past experience and considered 

"I would say that for I96O the military budget should be ^ 
practically the same as 1959- I should think beginning in I96I5 
I hope not later than 1961, it should start to decrease again." 

k.- Program Data . 

U.S. aid programs in Vietnam through the Eisenhower Admini- 
stration are summarized below: 

(Millions of Dollars by Fiscal Year)±/ 
I9U6- / 1955- 

FY Obligations 195^ "1955 1956 1937 1958 1959 i960 19 61 1961 

Economic Grants 825.6 322.4 I85.O 257.2 18T-6 187-9 170.6 137-3 

Loans — --- 25. 25. 1-5 19-5 H-:^. 13-2 

Sub-total 825.6 322.4 210.0' 282.2 I89.I 207-4 I82.O 150-5 15^3-6 
Military Grants 709 , 6 --- 167 . 3 110-5 53>2 4l.9 70-9 _ 65-0 508.8 

Total3/ 1535.2 322.4 377-3 392-7 242-3 249.3 252.9 215-5 2052-4 
FY Economic Aid 

Expenditures 825-6 I29.I 192.8 25I.3 212.3 179-2 l8l.2 l46.4 1292.3 

1/ Source : Montgomery^ op. cit ■_; 284 . 

2/ Total aid program for the Associated States of Indo-China, 
including deobligations and adjustments, 195^-1961. 

3/ Total grants and loans^ 1946- I96I: 3587-6 

This program was among the largest in the world, reflecting a 
U. S. commitment sufficiently deep to assert a high priority for Viet- 
nam among the numerous claimants for U.S. aid- From FY 1946 through 
■ FY I96I; Vietnam was the third ranking non-NATO recipient of aid, 
and the seventh worldwide; in FY I96I, the last Eisenhower program, 
South Vietnam was the fifth ranking recipient overall (behind India, 
Korea _j Brazil, and Turkey): 

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U.S. Economic and Military Aid, FY 19^6-1961 

($ Millions) 

Recipient ' Total 

France 9^39^ 

U.K. 8,689 

Italy 5.66U 

Germany ' hy999 

Korea ^,958 

«=*—?X-: ::::::: ::;:;:: lllii"'''^ 

Greece. .' 3^225 

India 3^115 

Netherlands 2,4^9 

U.S. Economic and Military Aid, FY 19^1 

India 669-8 

Korea 472.2 

Brazil. ., 328.3 

Turkey .' . 318.9 

Vietnam 215.5 

Source:, Agency for International Development, 
U.S. Foreign Assistance, June 1, 19^-5 - June 
30. 1961 (Revised March 21, 1962), 2-4. 

In per-capita assistance, Vietnam also ranked high in comparison 
with its Asian neighbors. 

U.S. Aidj i960 

Recipient Aid per Inhabitant 

la OS $17.00 

Vietnam 13.70 ' 

China 12-50 
Korea 8 . 60 

India I.90 

Thailand 1.20 

Source: Scigliano, op.cit., 112. 

A recent study^ of U.S. assistance establishes that of all U.S. 
economic aid programs for less developed countries, 19^5 to I965, 
Vietnam has been the fifth ranking recipient and the sixth ranking 
per capita. In the decade I956 to I965, Vietnam was the fourth rank- 
ing recipient and the fourth per capita. 

^Kenneth M. Kauffman and Helena Stalson, "U.S. Assistance to Less 
Developed Countries, I956-65, " Foreign Affairs , Volume ^5, No, 4, 
July 1967. 715 ££■ 

38 ^ . ■ ■ ^ - ■ 

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The relative importance of Vietnam in the U.S. world- view is 
^ further attested to by the fact that MAAG Vietnam, though limited in 

size out of regard for the Geneva Accords 1955-1960, was the only 
military aid mission commanded by a Lieutenant General, MAAG 
strength was held at 3i^2 (plus 350 personnel in TEM),"^ but the U.S. 
economic aid mission grew rapidly over the years, becoming by mid- 
1958, the largest in the world: 

] (As of 31 May 195^) 

ICA Employees Contract Employees Total 

Vietnam I83 372 555 

Korea 305 I68 ^73 

Pakistan I77 204 38l 

Iran 229 93 ' 322 

Source: Montgomery, op. cit . , I77. 

However, it has been argued that despite this largesse of treasure, 
technical help, and goods, the U.S. failed to provide for Vietnam's 
security precisely because its aid emphasized security, rather than 
ameliorating those economic and social problems which formed the basis 
! _^^^ popular discontent. It is certainly true that the bulk of U.S. 

assistance was concentrated on security. Although from the table 
above Military Grants comprised only 25^ of the total U.S. program 
• 1955-1961, more than 75/0 of- the _ economic aid the U.S. provided went 
into the GVN military budget. Out of every $10 of U.S. economic aid 
the U.S. obligated for Vietnam, about $8 were extended through an 
import -subsidization program. The U.S. would purchase goods with 
dollars outside Vietnam, sell them to Vietnamese importers for piasters, 
and then deposit this local currency in a drawing account for the GVW. 
This defense supporting assistance was very crucial to Diem, since 
in the period I956-I96O, some h3fo of GVN public expenditures were 
allocated directly to the military for the armed forces and Self-De- 
fense Corps (Scigliano, op.cit., 113)- 


Calendar Year 

Local currency I955 l^^S 1957 1958 1959 19^0 Total 

Deposits 167.1 239.4 256.0 203.4 170.2 181.8 1218.4 

Withdravrals in 
■ Support of GVN 

Defense Budget 97-1 202-5 204.5 152-9 I76.O 166.6 999-6 

Source: RAC-TP-232, op.cit., II, 20-21. 

* MAAG, Vietnam had a TD authorization of 3^-2 spaces; TEM, 350; the 
i960 authorization for MAAG's amalgamation with TERM was 685. 

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As may be seen by comparing the totals above with the table on total 
U.S. aid^ (ignoring the calendar year-fiscal year differences in 
accounting) : 

A. FY Economic Obligations 55-^1 


B. FY 55-61 Economic Aid Expenditures I292.3 

C. Local Currency Deposits 

D. Withdrawals for Defense 

1218 A 


C is 9h^o\ D is 7T/o; C is 79/^; and D is 65^- 
B B A A 

Approximately 9^^ of all money expended on U.S. aid found its 
way into counteDrpart funds,, and of these expenditures about 77^ 
went into the GVN defense budget. Hence^ the GVN spent more than 
two-fifths of its total revenues^ including over three-quarters of 
the funds it obtained from the U.S.^ on security. 

The 23/0 or so of remaining U.S. economic aid was allocated 
principally to "project aid"_, 



of Dollars) 

■•■.'". ' "":"■' ^ 1955 1956 

1957 1958 1959 



Total Economic 

FY Obligations 322.. k 210.0 

282.2 189.1 207.^ 



Total Project 

FY Obligations 7.2 22.7 

1+8.9 29.3 36.^ 



^Project Aid 2.2 10.8 

17-3 15.5 IT. 6 



;/ ,.'\ , Source: Montgomery 

, op.clt.; 289- 

The 1959 Project Aid program was, like that of the other years, 
broken down among the following major categories: 


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" (Thousands of Dollars) 

Amount fo of Project Aid 

Food and Agriculture 

Industry and Mining 



Health and Sanitation 


Public Administration and Safety 

Community Development,; Social Welfare;, Housing 

Technical Support 

General and Miscellaneous 




















Source: Ibid 

The predominance of aid to transportation in 1959 "^as typical of the 
other years: 

* (Thousands of Dollars) 

Amount j of Project Aid 

Food and Agriculture 

Industry and Mining 



Health and Sanitation 


Public Administration and Safety 

Community Development, Social Welfare, Housing 

Technical Support 

General and Miscellaneous 

Total Project Aid l86j90k 

Source: Ibid 

Even these figures conceal a further concentration on security. 
The "public aciiainistration" funds (l^fo of tctal) went chiefly to 
the police and state security services. The "transportation" 
category supported mainly the road building program, and while 
roads aided the economy, the routes were chosen for "strategic, 
military" purposes. For example. General Williams opposed 



15, 520 

8.3 ■ 









26, 437 









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1 I 

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President Diem's plan to rebuild the coastal highway to Hue^ and 
succeeded in asserting priority for a road into the Pleiku area 
of the Highlands. General Williams acceeded to only so much of 
the Saigon- Hue road (Highway No. l) as extended to Bien Hoa (some 
20 miles north of Saigon) because "there is no road out of Saigon 
now that could take care of heavy military traffic and will not 
be iintil Bien Hoa Highway is completed."-^ 

The 20-mile stretch of highway to Bien Hoa cost more money 
than all project aid allocated for labor^ community development^ 
social welfare^ healthy and education in the years 195^-1961.^^ 

•^Senate^ Situation in Vietnam^ op. cit >^ 287-288 
^^ Scigliano^ op. cit .^ 115 . 



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C. Eecognition of Crisis^ 196O 

!• Country Team Assessment, March^ 19^ 

By January I96O communist terrorism and guerrilla action 
moved in U.S. estimates from the status of a long run threat to the 
viability of the Diem regime to crisis status as the GVN's "number one 
problem." In a long "Special Report on Internal Security Situation in 
Vietnam" (incl 1 to Despatch 7^78 from Saigon^ 7 March I96O), the U-S. 
Mission in Saigon submitted an appreciation of the problem which high- 
lighted so many characteristics of the difficulties confronting Diem 
and U.S. policy that were to prove critical in subsequent years that it 
deserves extensive quotation and precis: 

Internal security had once again become the primary problem 
of the GVN as a result of: (l) "intensification of Viet Cong guerrilla 
and terrorist activities"; (2) "weaknesses apparent in the GVN security 
forces"; and (3) "the growth of apathy and considerable dissatisfaction 
among the rural populace." "The situation has gro\ra progressively more 
disturbing since shortly after the National Assembly elections at the 
end of August 1959^ despite the fact that President Diem was claiming^ 
to the end of Deceraber^ that internal security was continuing to. improve. " 

a. "Viet Cong Activity" 

Government operations had intensified during the spring 
of 1955 when it increased its forces engaged in internal seciirity opera- 
tions^ added precautions taken by the GVN during the period prior to 
and immediately following the August 30 National Assembly elections further 
suppressed VC activity. The upswing in VC operations first showed up in a 
sharp increase in assassinations and kidnappings in the last half of 
September. Where the total for assassinations in 1958 had been 193, there 
were II9 assassinations in the last four months of 1959 (^o^ ^ yearly 
total of 233); in January 1960^ there were to be SG civilians killed 
and in February, 122. Meanwhile, significant Viet Cong attacks on GVN 
military forces also began in September, revealing characteristics on 
both the Viet Cong and GVN sides that were to become dishearteningly 
familiar in the next five years: 

"The post-election intensification of VC attacks began with 
the completely successful engagement of two ARVN companies on 
September 26. The poor performance of ARVN during this operation 
exposed a nmaber of vzeaknesses v/hich have been commented upon by 
many CAS and MAAG sources in the Vietnamese C-overnjnent . MAAG's 
evaluation of the factors contributing to ARVN's failure include 
security leaks, inadequate planning, lack of aggressive leadership, 
failure to communicate information to other participating units and 
the failure of supporting units to press forward to engage the VC 
(they were close enough to hear the sound of gunfire at the time). 
Another factor of importance illustrated in this ambush was the 

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( ) 

confidence of the VC in their ability to successfully conduct 
such operations. This self assurance and aggressiveness appear 
to "be characteristic of many actions taken by the VC since 
September and have probably contributed to the low state of 
morale reported in GVN security \mits by CAS sources." 
(Despatch 278 from Saigon, End. No. 1, p. 3) 

It was incidents like this and "particularly an attack 
on an ARVN regimental post near Tay Ninh in January, that brought on "the 
full impact of the seriousness of the present situation": 

"The Viet Cong attack on the Vietnamese Army installation 
near Tay Ninh on January 26 is a dramatic illustration of the 
increasingly aggressive tactics of the Viet Cong and of the 
difficulty the GVN is having in controlling the internal security 
situation. The audacity of the Viet Cong in conducting the 
attack, the likelihood of VC infiltration into ARVN, the indi- 
cations of secret support of the VC by some of the local populace, 
the successful planning and coordination in carrying out the 
attack as opposed to apparent failure of ARVN which had been 
told there might be an attack to be sufficiently alert for such 
an attack and effectively counter once the attack had been 
launched, are indications of many of the problems faced by 
the GVN and discussed in this report." ( ibid , p. l) 

Armed propaganda operations involving large numbers of Viet Cong in 
daylight were a third category of Viet Cong activities. 


.The fact that the VC can, and have on a number of 

occasions, entered fair sized communities, spent several hours 
or a day propagandizing the population and then retired without 
meeting GVN resistance would indicate that the VC have an 
effective intelligence system." ( ibid , p. 5) 

"CAS sources have reported a gradual increase of the infil- 
tration of VC cadres and arms from the DRV over the past few 
months which has increased the VC strength to about 3OOO in 
the Southwest. (Based on available information CAS estimates 
that the Viet Cong strength in all South Viet-Nam is presently 
3OOO-5OOO men.) Many of these new infiltrators, according to 
a CAS source who is a GVN Official, are cadres who were regrouped 
in the North at the time of the Geneva Accords and have had a 
number of years of intensive military and political training. 
The principal infiltration route of VC cadres from the North 
continues to be through Laos to Cambodia although reports are 
received of infiltration by sea. A CAS source with siinilar 
access reports that some of the cadres arriving in SVN from the 
North have the mission of establishing a VC headquarters to 


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include a general staff, a political section and a supply section 
and to effect a large-scale reorganization of VC cadres m the 
southwestern provinces (Fifth Military Region). K^22A> V-' O 

Behind all this activity were verhal indications of 
DRV intent: 

"In May 1959, the Central Committee of the Lao Dong Party 
passed a resolution or statement stating that the struggle ^ tor 
reunification would have to be carried out by all appropriate 
measures'. British observers have taken this to mean measures 
other than peaceful. 

'"You must remember we will be in Saigon tomorrow, we will be 
in Saigon tomorrow', these words were spoken by Rremier Pha^ van 
DONG in a conversation with French Consul Georges-Picot on beptem- 
ber 12, I959, 

"In November, Pham van Dong twice told Canadian Commissioner 
Erichs en- Brown that 'we will drive the Americans into the bea . 
( Ibid ., pp. 6-7) 

b. "ARVN Weaknesses" 

"....Numerous high-ranking GVN officials have _ very Recently 
stressed the necessity of more anti-guerrilla training for the 
security forces. From a military point of view an outstanding 
deficiency in the GTO effort has been the government s inability, 
or lack of desire, to recognize the following factors: 

(1) It is actively engaged in an internal war and, 
therefore, must take the measures which this situation entails. 

(2) There is a great need for a strong central mili- 
tary command with wide powers for the conduct of internal 
security operations in the unpacified areas. 

(3) There is a need for a capable, well- equipped, well- 
trained, centrally- controlled Civil Guard to take over from the 
Military in pacified areas , 

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the apparent lack 
of success in the GVN attempts to reduce the internal threat of 
the VC until now has stemmed from the lack of unity of command ■ 
in a single operational commander who has the means and the 
authority to utilize all of the potential in the area of opera-, 
tions without regard to province or regional boundaries and 
without regard to the existing political subdivision of the 
area. Unity of command is the most important basic principle 

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of administration lacking here. The Province Chief structure 
has caused a breakdown of coordination and a fragmentation of 
command structure which has blocked an effective attack on the 
internal security problem." ( ibid . ^ pp. 8-9) 

(The splitting of responsibility for internal security between the Province 
Chief, who controlled Provincial forces, and the military chain of command 
controlling ARTO was a constant complaint by MCV during the later Diem 

* ^' "Political Factors" 

" The VC reportedly estimate that 70/. of the people in 

the rural areas of South Viet-Nam are either embittered by or 
indifferent toward the present government...." (ibid. , p. o) 

"It is highly unlikely that any final solution can be found 
to the internal security situation in South Viet-Nam if the 
GVN does not enjoy the support and cooperation of the rural 
population. At the present time indications are that the rural 
population is generally apathetic towards the Diem Government 
and there are signs of considerable dissatisfaction and silent 
opposition. In part this attitude appears to result from wide- 
spread fear of the Viet Cong and a belief that the GVN is 
relatively helpless to protect the rural population from Viet 
Cong depredations. Unfortunately the longer serious insecurity 
continues to exist in the countryside despite GVN efforts to 
control it, the more serious is the effect on the GVN's prestige. 
Another effect is a growing belief among the peasants that the 
Viet Cong will always be here as long as North Viet-Nam remains 
under Communist control and that they must adjust to live with 
them. (A realization of the long-range nature of the problem among 
officials responsible for dealing with it could be an advantage. 
In Malaya it has taken 11 years to reduce the security situation 
to the minimum, and it is even more difficult to deal with it in 
a divided country with long exposed frontiers). 

"There appear to be other reasons contributing to the diffi- 
culty experienced by the GVN in attempting to rally the rural . 

(a) Until recently it was becoming more and more 
apparent that Diem was not being given accurate information on 
the internal security and political situation in rural areas. 
As late as the end of December, 1959 ? ^^ was telling all 
callers how much better the internal security situation had 
become, despite many doubts raised by his listeners. Informa- 
tion was apparently being presented to him by local officials 

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in such a manner as to reflect well upon the officials giving 
it. The President's trips to the provinces have appeared to "be 
carefully *laid on' by local officials. The President himself 
cannot be absolved entirely from the blame, however, since his 
system of personal rule which permits direct appeal from the 
individual provincial authorities to himself, in a sort of intra- 
executive check and balance system, serves to further weaken the 
administrative apparatus. 

"Recently, however, as indicated in the subsequent section 
on 'GVN Reactions', the Vice President and others who are not 
his usual Informers on security matters have spoken frankly with 
him and he now seems well aware of the situation. 

(b) Provincial and district authorities exercise almost 
autonomous control in the areas under their jurisdiction. Too 
often the personnel holding these positions have been Incompetent, 
having been chosen for reason of party loyalty. Moreover, some 
have tended to view their jobs as a means to personal advancement 
or financial gain often at the cost of the population under their 
control. Press editorials have attacked local officials for 
extorting money from peasants, using torture to wring false con- 
fessions from innocent people and conducting themselves in such 

a manner as to reflect adversely on the prestige of the national 
government. In addition rumors continue to circulate among the 
population concerning the alleged nefarious activities of and 
favoritism shown to members of the Can Lao party. While officials 
have been 3-argely unable to identify and put out of commission 
Viet Cong undercover cadres among the population, they have often 
arrested people on the basis of rumors or of denunciations by 
people who harbor only personal grudges. Police powers justified 
on the basis of the needs of Internal security have reportedly 
been misused to extort money notonly from the peasants but from 
land owners, merchants and professional people in the towns. This 
misuse of police povrers and the kind of broad scale arrests on 
suspicion are weakening the support of the population for the regime. 
On the other hand, the application of swift, sutmnary justice (such ' 
as the Special Military Tribunals were created to hand out) designed 
to protect the population against the Viet Cong threat, if care- 
fully administered and 'advertised' as such, can do much to restore 
a feeling of security; 

(c) While the GVN has made an effort to meet the economic 
and social needs of the rural populations through community develop- 
ment, the construction of schools, hospitals, roads, etc., these 
projects appear to have enjoyed only a measure of success in creating 
support for the government and, in fact, in many instances have 
resulted in resentment. Basically, the problem appears to be that 
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psychological preparation in terms of the benefits to be gained. 
Since most of these projects call for sacrifice on the part of 
the population (in the form of allegedly 'volunteer' labor in the 
case of construction^ time away from jobs or school in the case 
of rural youth groups^ leaving hemes and lands in the case of 
regrouping isolated peasants )_y they are bound to be opposed unless 
they represent a partnership effort for mutual benefit on the part 
of the population and the government. (See subsequent section on 
'G7N Reactions' for indications of Diem's current awareness of this 

The situation may be summed up in the fact that the government 
has tended to treat the population with suspicion or to coerce it 
and has been rewarded with an attitude of apathy or resentment. 
The basic factor which has been lacking is a feeling of rapport 
between the government and the population. The people have not 
identified themselves with the government. There has been a 
general lack of 'a sense of mission' in the building of the country 
among both the local population and local authorities." ( ibid .^ 
pp. 9^ 10^ 11^ 12; footnotes excluded) " 

2. Special National Intelligence Estimate^ August I960 

The Country Team report on internal security concluded that 
Diem was now aware of the gravity of the problem and was taking some 
count ermeasures. But the inadequacy of his response was recognized in 
a Special NIE of 23 August I96O (SWIE 63.I-6O). The VC terrorism had 
continued to intensify: in the first five months of 1960^ 78O govern- 
ment officials and sympathizers were assassinated by insurgents. Since 
January armed attacking \anits had been operating over wider areas than 
at any tame since 1954. 

. . . Support from North Vietnaia appears to have increased 
oyer the past several months. In particular^ senior cadres and ■ 
military supplies such as communications equipment are believed 
to be moving south through Laos and Cambodia and by junk along 
the eastern coastline." (SNIE 63.1-60^ p. 3) 

But along with this further increase in communist pressure 
came increasing threats to stability from non-communist quarters 
reminiscent of the 1954.55 period: 

... At the same time_j grievances against the government, 
which have long been accumulating, have become increasingly 
urgent and articulate." 

Throughout this August estimate, dual threats from com- 
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going to the non-conHn-unists. In its discussion of Diem's political, 
problems^ this estimate followed closely the analysis of the Mission 
report of six months earlier. The problems were seen as not on^y 
continuing^ but intensifying: 

"Discontent with the Diem government has been prevalent 
for seme time among intellectuals and elite circles and^ to a ■ 
lesser extent _, in labor and urban business groups. Criticism 
by these elements focuses on Ngo family rule^ especially the 
roles of the President's brother^ Ngo Dinh Nhu^ and Madame Mau; 
the pervasive influence of the Can Lao^ the semi-clandestine 
apparatus of the regime; Diem's virtual one-man rule; and the 
growing evidence of corruption in high places. Hji late April_, 
l8 prominent Vietnamese publicly petitioned Diem to 'liberalize 
the regime_j expand democracy_, grant minimum civil rights^ (and) 
recognize the opposition in order to let the people speak without 
fear.' This unprecedented public attack on Diem by a non- Communist 
group may embolden other urban elements to become more vocal. 

"a new and even more important element in the political 
situation is the growing criticism of Diem's leadership within 
government circles^ including the official bureaucracy and 
military; this criticism has become more intense than at any time . 
since 1956. Since the early part of this year_, Vice President 
Tho^ other members of the cabinet^ and middle echelon officials 
have made known their serious concern over Diem's handling of 
the internal security problem and have privately criticized the 
power and influence exerted' by Nhu and his entourage. In addition^ 
there is considerable uneasiness concerning the operations and 
activities of the Can Lao organization. 

"Although most of the Vietnamese peasants are politically 
apathetic^ they also have their grievances against the government. 
These include the ineptitude and arrogance of many local and 
provincial officials,, the lack of effective protection from Viet 
Cong demands in many parts of the country^ the harshness with 
which many peasants have been forced to contribute their labor 
to governraent programs_, and the -unsettling economic and social 
effects of the agroville (government -sponsored settlements) 
program. As a consequence^ Diem's government is lacking in 
positive support among the people in the countryside-" ( ibid . ^ 
pp. 1-2) 


Al'.hough the estimate confirmed that Diem had become con- 
cerned over the deteriorating internal security situation^ he appeared 
still to underestimate the non-communist political threat: 


. . He still tends to discount the amount of discontent 
both in the countryside and among urban elements. Although he has 


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taken some steps to meet the internal seciirity problem^ he tends 
to viev it almost entirely in military terms- He believes that 
increased military activity against the Viet Cong_, along with an 
expansion of the agroville program^ will greatly improve internal 
security. He has been openly contemptuous of the views of 
oppositionists in Saigon and regards them as uninformed and dupes 
of the Communists. Diem also has failed to take any major steps 
against corruption and arbitrary conduct on the part of the Can 
Lao organization." 

After this discussion of the political situation^ the 
estimate discussed the Viet Cong pressures as: " aggravating many of the 
government's problems." ( ibid .^ p. 2) (Underlining added) ^The earlier 
report on internal seciirity had commented^ "It is not completely clear 
why the DRV has chosen this particular time to mount an intensified 
guerrilla campaign in South Vietnam_, " ( Saigon 278^ p. 2) and had 
advanced several hypotheses including Diem's view that it represented 
"a somewhat desperate attempt to disrupt the progress of South Vietnam^ " 
in the face of steady GVN progress and DRV failure to interfere suc- 
cessfully with the National Assembly elections in August. The list of 
hypotheses in March did not include the possibility that the communists 
might have judged that the political situation within SVE had significantly 
deteriorated (earlier foreseen as the likely occasion for an increase 
in overt coramimist activities)^ but the August estimate emphasized this 

"... The indications of increasing dissatisfaction with 
the Diem government have probably encouraged the Hanoi regime^ 
supported and guided by the Chinese Communists^ to take stronger 
action at this time . . . given ' . . . a sizable and effective 
indigenous guerrilla apparatus responsive to Communist control'; 
and 'a government lacking in positive support from its people'; 
..." (SNIE 63.1-60, p. 3) 

The estimate concluded with the pregnant comment that: 

"In countering the Viet Cong challenge, Diem faces many of 
the same problems which confronted the French during the Indo- 
China War . . • " . 

Some relevant portions of much earlier U.S. intelligence 
estimates might be recorded here: 

"Despite these advances /which included *the relocation of 
scattered villages in the Delta into centralized and defensible 
sites' as 'an important step toward the eventual "pacification" 
of heavily infiltrated areas' and increases in the size of the 
Vietnamese National Army/ Vietnam still lacks the degree of 

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political strength essential for the mobilization of the 
country's resources . . . elected local councils have no real 
power^ promised land reform and other social and economic reforms 
which might generate popular support had not left the planning 
stage and the Vietnamese government is handicapped by incompetent 
cabinent ministers and the lack of competent administrators." 
(NIE 9 of 4 June I953, p. 3) 

"Finally^ unless the French Union forces prove strong enough 
to provide security for the Vietnamese population^ it will not 
be possible to sweep the guerrillas out of the areas as planned. 
Not only will the populace fail generally to provide the intelligence 
required to rout the guerrillas but^ as in the past^ they will 
frequently give warning of the presence of the French Union forces^ 
thus permitting the guerrillas to take cover and later to emerge 
when the danger is past." (ibid.^ P- 5) 

pointing out: 

Seven years later^ the estimate of August I96O was 



. . Viet Cong guerrilla units have succeeded in exploiting 
their natural advantages of surprise^ mobility^ and initiative. 
In many of their areas of operations_, they have exploited the 
tendency of the largely passive population to accommodate to their 
presence and thereby avoid reprisals. In some areas of operations^ 
however^ they have obtained the active cooperation of the local 
population." (SNIE 63.I-6O, p. 3) 

"In the absence of more effective government measures to 
protect the peasants and to win their positive cooperation^ the 
prospect is for expansion of the areas of Viet Cong control in the 
coimtryside^ particularly in the southwestern provinces. 

"Dissatisfaction and discontent with the government will 
probably continue to rise unless the secujrity situation improves 
and unless Diem can be brought to reduce the corruption and 
excesses of his regime ..." 


The conclusions of the estimate were the most ominous since 

"Developments within South Vietnam over the past six months 
indicate a trend adverse to the stability and effectiveness of 
President Diem's government ..." 

"Although Diem's personal position and that of his government 
are probably not now in danger^ the marked deterioration since 
January of this year is disturbing. These adverse trends are not 


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irreversible^ but if they remain unchecked^ they will almost 
certainly in time cause the collapse of Diem's regime. We do 
not anticipate that this will occur within the period of this 
estimate. However^ if Diem is not able to alter present trends 
and the situation deteriorates substantially^ it is possible 
dirring the period of this estimate that the government will lose 
control over much of the countryside and a political crisis will 
ensue." (ibid.^ P- l) 

The U.S. view of its policy in Vietnam could not yet be 
said to be "crisis management"; but a crisis was portended. 

3« Contrasting POD and State Appreciations 

The August SNIE notwithstanding^ however^ subsequent ■ 
analyses appearing in the Department of State and the Department of 
Defense disclosed differing views on the relative urgency of the threat 
to Diem from communist machination as opposed to simple rebellion. In 
general^ Department of Defense papers tended to emphasize the threat 
from rural^ communist-led insurgents^ and to highlight relative military 
capabilities; Defense papers usually deprecated the significance or 
urgency of non-communist political dissent in South Vietnam. In contrast_, 
analyses by the Department of State in Washington and Ambassador Durbrow 
in Saigon recognized^ at least in principle,, the importance of both 
the military threat posed by the VCj and the problems which stemmed 
from Diem's political insolvency. Department of Defense analyses^ there- 
fore^ usually regarded proposals' by State or Saigon which aimed at 
pressuring Diem into a more enlightened domestic policy as being com- 
petitive vrith measTires to improve internal security- The Pentagon and 
its field commands tended to regard military'- assistance to Diem as the 
key to the situation. Indeed^ the Pentagon tended to oppose U.S. 
leverage on Diem because it might jeopardize his confidence in the 
U.S. and cooperation from him which was essential to improve his 
military posture. 

The divergence in view sketched above emerges in several 
papers written not long after the 30 August I96O SNIE. For example^ 
alarmed by the ominous conclusion of the SNIE's Deputy Secretaiy of 
Defense Douglas asked ASd/iSA for comments and recommendations on how 
to remedy the "deteriorating situation in South Vietnam." As input for 
the reply; Brigadier General Edward G, Lansdale^ OSO/OSD^ one of Ngo 
Dinh Diem's earliest U.S. advisors^ wrote a memorandum holding that: 

"As noted by the Deputy Secretary of Defense^ conditions 
in Vietnam are deteriorating. The key element in the situation 
is the activity of the Viet Cong . VThile criticism of Diem^s 
government in metropolitan areas adds to his problems and 
interacts with Viet Cong plans^ the Viet Cong remains the primary 
threat to security ..." (Memo for Admiral E. J. 0' Donnelly 

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Regional Director^ Far East^ ISA^ from Brigadier General Edward 
G- Lansdale^ OSO/OSD^ 13 September 1960^ Subject: Possible 
Course of Action in Vietnam^ p. l) (Underlining added) 

To the end of meeting the threat from the Viet Cong^ 
Lansdale suggested (among other items): 

"... The emphasis of the MAAG function should be 
shifted from purely training and organizational advice in 
preparation for defense against external aggression to include 
on-the-spot advice and assistance in the conduct of tactical 
operations against the Viet Con^." (Underlining added) 


. . Concomitantly^ the MAAG should be staffed to a 
greater extent with officers skilled in the conduct of counter- 
guerrilla operations and who are capable of operating in the field 
This might include Marines for amphibious instruction on Mekong 
River operations . . . 



. . . During the emergency _, the Civil Guard shoiold be 
temporarily put imder the Ministry of Defense in order to 
integrate the activities of the ARVN and the Civil Guard. 
The Ambassador's concern that the Civil Guard will lose all 
identity as a civil police force^ if this action is taken^ is 
invalid^ providing a strong US position to the contrary is 
announced and maintained. " ( lb id . ^ pp. 1-2) 

(Subsequent development of the Regional Forces_, which grew 
out of the Civil Guard after transfer to the Ministry of Defense in 
December 19^0^ showed this particular concern of the Ambassador to have 
been a valid one -- whatever the countervailing advantages of the move 
-- in that its role and capabilities as a police force atrophied 
almost entirely; no "strong U.S. position to the contrary" was_, however^ 
taken by Mj^G^ AID, or CAS.) 


. . . Emphasis on civic action type activities by the ARVN 
should be encouraged and advisoiy and material assistance in 
this field furnished through MAP and ICA channels." 


• . Most importantly for the purpose of strengthening the 
morale of the Vietnamese, President Diem should be informed as 
soon as possible through appropriate channels of the gravity with 
which the US government views the internal security situation, 
of our intent to provide material assistance, and of our unswerving 
support to him in this time of crisis." (Underlining added) 
( Ibid ., p."""27" 

Meanwhile, Ambassador Durbrow in Saigon proceeded to 
elaborate upon the various political threats described in the August 30 
SNIE. A week after the August 19 60 SNIE was published, Ambassador Durbrow 


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found it appropriate to send an assessment of the potentialities of 
various groups for coups and demonstrations in the short run. .Anong 
these were: 

"1. Peasants- Various factors discontent exist such as 
lack of adequate protection against commianist attacks and 
pressures, lov prices paddy, ccmpiolsory labor on agrovilles 
and other projects, and arbitrary methods of authorities. Diem 
has taken some steps to try alleviate soiorces of discontent (our 
G-79) but it is important he take others because peasantry 
represent key to success or failure communist guerrilla warfare 
in countryside and thus to gradual undermining of regime. How- 
ever, any sudden demonstration or coup against GVN likely ^to 
center in Saigon and seems improbable that peasantry in view lack 
organization, transport problems, etc. would play significant role 
therein." (Saigon 538 to SecState, 5 September I96O, p. 1, 
Section 1 of 2) 

(it is worth noting that this list of peasant grievances against the 
regime, like most such analyses by CIA or State, includes a number of 
separate factors, of which "lack of protection against commmist 
attacks and pressures" is only one. This assessment of peasant attitudes 
toward the GVN was in some contrast to: (a) other analyses, particularly 
originating in the Department of Defense, but also from Diem himself, 
^ emphasizing lack of security as the single significant peasant grievance, 

or the overwheljningly predominant one, or the basis of the others; and 
(b) effective U.S. advice and influence, which increasingly centered 
upon the security problem.) 

Urban groups, including labor and students (who were just 
beginning to show political ferment) were judged unlikely to begin a 
demonstration but increasingly likely to join one begun by other 
oppositionists either within or outside the government. Dissatisfaction 
with the regime existed even among Catholic refugees, some of this 
stemming "paradoxically . . . from what they feel is too heavily Catholic 
leadership of regime (with potential reaction to follow) • • • 
(This worry appeared less paradoxical in the summer of 19^3 •) 

As for the Army: 

"... Some discontent exists because of political pro- 
motions and favoritism throughout armed forces structure. Some 
disturbing indications of possible development spirit frustration 
and defeatism in fight against Viet Cong also received, such as 
statement allegedly made by General Duong Van Minh that for every 
Viet Cong killed by armed forces government creating ten in their 
rear; however indications are that generals remain mbued by 
non-political approach and that discontent is not of such 

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proportions that any general is ready to take initiative in 
leading coup. We cannot of course exclude emergence of a 'Kong 
Le' from ranks below general but key units in and around Saigon 
are commanded by officers believed to be close and loyal to Diem." 
(Saigon 538 to SecState^ 5 September 1960^ Section 2 of 2^ p. l) 

Two months later^ in November 1960^ an abortive "Kong Le" 
coup came close to succeeding^ led by IITC Nguyen Chanh Thi^ one of those 
believed to have been most close and loyal to Diem. 

The cable concluded that: 


. . Real possibility demonstrations in Saigon exist . . . 
any demonstration more likely to be initially loyal protests 
calling for changes in policies and personnel around Diem but could 
develop into anti-Diem riot ..." ( ibid .^ p. 2) 

Ten days later^ Durbrow sent a long analysis of the threats 
confronting Diem^ with recommendations for counter-measures^ as a 
precursor to presenting Diem with strong U.S. representations on the 
need for changes. This discussion well expressed the complex problems 
in which Diem was enmeshed; a11 of which had to be met adequately if the 
regime was to survive; and it was an unusually explicit listing of the 
sort of "ref orms; " so often alluded to since the Eisenhower letter of 
October 195^^ felt to be required if the Diem regime were to be 
politically viable. 

"As indicated our ^95 and 538 Diem regime confronted by 
two separate but related dangers . Danger from demonstrations 
or coup attempt in Saigon could occur earlier; likely to be pre- 
dominantly non-communistic in origin but communists can be 
expected to endeavor infiltrate and exploit any such attempt. 
Even more serious danger is gradual Viet Cong extension of 
control over countryside which^ if current communist progress 
continues^ would mean loss free Viet-Nam to communists. These 
two dangers are related because communist successes in rural 
areas embolden them to extend their activities to Saigon and 
because non-coramionist temptation to engage in demonstrations or 
coup is partly motivated by sincere desire prevent communist 
take-over in Viet-Nam. 

"Essentially two sets of measures required to meet these two 
dangers. For Saigon danger essentially political and psycho- 
logical m(:^asures required. For countryside danger security 
measures as well as political^ psychological and economic 
measures needed. However both sets measures should be carried 
out simultaneously and to some extent individual steps will be 
aimed at both dangers." (Saigon 624 to SecState^ Section 1 of 2^ 
16 September 19^0^ p. ly underlining added) 


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The Ambassador proposed to "have frank and friendly 
talk with Diem and explain our serious concern about present situation 
and his political position." 

" . • . I realize some measures I am recommending are 
drastic and would be most unpolitic for an i\mbassador to make 
under normal circumstances. But conditions here are by no means 
normal. Diem government is in quite serious danger. Therefore^ 
in my opinion prompt and even drastic action is called for. 
I am well aware that Diem has in past demonstrated ^astute judgment 
and has survived other serious crises. Possibly his judgment 
will prove superior to ours this time, but 1 believe nevertheless 
we have no alternative but to give him our best judgment of ^what 
we believe is required to preserve his government. While ^Diera 
obviously resented my frank talks earlier this year and will 
probably resent even more suggestions outlined below, he has 
apparently acted on some of our earlier suggestions and might act 
on at least some of the following ..." ( Ibid ., p. 2) 

Limiting his recommendations to the political and economic sphere, 
since other messages had dealt with security recommendations, Durbrow 
suggested measures, including: 

"... Rumors about Mr. and Mrs. Wiu are creating growing 
'^ dissension within country and seriously damage political posi- 

tion of Diem Government. Whether rumors true or false, 
politically important fact is that more and more people believe 
them to be true. Therefore, becoming increasingly clear that 
in interest Diem Government some action should be taken. Ih 
analagous situations in other countries as important, useful^ 
government personalities have had to be sacrificed for political 
reasons. I would suggest therefore that President might appoint 
Nhu to Ambassadorship abroad. 

"... Similarly Tran Kim Tuyen, Nhu's henchman and Head of 
Secret Intelligence Service, should be sent abroad in diplomatic 
capacity because of his growing identification in public mind^^ 
with alleged secret police methods of repression and control. 
( Ibid ., p. 3) 

■" . . . One or two cabinet ministers from opposition should be 
appointed to demonstrate Diem's desire to establish Government 
of National Union in fight against VC. 

"... Make public announcement of disbandment ^of Can Lao 
Party or at least its surfacing, with names and positions of all 
members made knovm publicly. Purpose this step would be to 
eliminate atmosphere of fear and suspicion and reduce public 
belief in favoritism and corruption, all of which party's semi- 
covert status has given rise to. 

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" • . . Permit National Assembly wider legislative 
initiative and area of genuine debate and bestow on it authority 
to conduct^ with appropriate publicity^ public investigations 
of any department of government with right to question any 
official except President hmself . This step would have three- 
fold purpose: (a) Find some mechanism for dispelling through 
public investigation constantly generated rumors about government 
and its personalities; (b) Provide people with avenue recourse 
against arbitrary actions by some government officials; (c) Assuage 
some of intellectual opposition to government. 

"... Require all government officials to declare publicly 
their property and financial holdings and give National Assembly 
authority to make public investigation of these declarations in ■ 
effort dispel rumors of corruption." 


. . Adopt following measures for immediate enhancement 
of peasant support of government: (a) Establish mechanism for 
increasing price peasant will receive for paddy crop beginning 
to come on market in December^ either by direct subsidization 
or establishment state purchasing mechanism; (b) Institute modest 
payment for all corvee labor ; (c) ' Subsidize agroville families 
along same lines as land resettlement families until former on 
feet economically; (d) Increase compensation paid to youth corps. 
If Diem asks how these measures are to be financed I shall suggest 
through increased taxes or increased deficit financing^ and shall 
note that under certain circumstances reasonable deficit financing 
becomes a politically necessary measure for governments. I should 
add that using revenues for these fundamental and worthy purposes 
would be more effective than spending larger and larger sums on 
security forces^ which^ while they are essential and some additional 
funds for existing security forces may be required^ are not com- 
plete answer to current problems." (Saigon 62k to SecState^ 
Section 2 of 2^ l6 September 1960_, pp. l-2_, -underlining added) ■ 

Finally^ in requesting State Department approval for an approach to 
Diem along these lines^ Durbrow concluded with a recomraendation on the 
nature of the political objectives the U.S. should set with respect 
to the GVN: 

"We believe U.S. should at this time support Diem as best 
available Vietnamese leader ^ but should recognize that over- 
riding U.S. objective is strongly anti-communist Vietnamese 
government which can command loyal and enthusiastic support of 
widest possible segments of Vietnamese people ^ and is able to 
carry on effective fight against communist gu.errillas .. If Diem's 
position in country continues deteriorate as result failure adopt 
proper political^ psychological^ economic and security measures^ it 

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may become necessary for U.S. government to begin consideration 
alternative courses of action and leaders in order achieve our 
objective." (ibid.^ p. 3/ underlining added) 

In its reply (Deptel 581 to Saigon^ T Oct 60) , the State " 
Department concurred on the necessity of an approach to Diem on moves 
to increase his popular support, Jtaong other comments^ it was suggested 
that Durbrov state that after thorough study it was his "... care- 
fully considered view GTO will face increasingly difficult internal 
political situation unless dramatic moves made to reverse present 
deteriorating trends. Small or gradual moves not repeat not adequate." 
On the question of l^u and Tuyen^ "since this important demarche would 
be most unpalatable/' carefi^l handling was stressed. 

. . . Agree main point sho-uld be that whether rumors true 
■ - or false we are convinced that if they ignored;, regime likely 
lose support it needs in struggle against Communists and that 
in all governments^ such decisions have to be made . . . con- 
vinced decision regarding Etiu and Tuyen would remove major cause 
of resentment against regime. It would^ we believe^ increase 
support of Diem within the GVTJ and among the educated classes . 
Support these groups is as necessary as support of peasants ..." 
(Deptel 581 to" Saigon^ 7 Oct 60^ underlining added) ~ 

Among other suggestions^ the Department proposed that 
I^ie^ ^i^ and announce a date on which villages would be asked to elect 
at least some of their own officials. In connection with Diem's program 
of agrovilleSj the Department raised problems that were to recur 
repeatedly in the context of the later program in strategic hamlets. 

Suggest inform Diem we agree agroville program good way 
meet security problem but are concerned re execution. Urge he 
announce corvee labor on agrovilles and elsewhere be paid and 
- agroville families re ceive some aid (possibly rice) during period 
readjustment (could be less than in High Plateau since Delta 
peasants still produce rice their own fields.) If he asks how 
such measures to be paid for^ concur suggested reply re higher 
taxes and deficit financing. Devaluation should also be 
emphasized. Diem might announce heavier taxes on rich for 
benefit peasants and agroville program. You might inquire 
whether training program for Vietnamese administrators and 
I technicians should be increased to provide personnel needed 

for agrovilles and other insecure areas. Also might inquire re 
status information teams assigned to explain to peasants why 
they should leave homes and tombs ancestors to go to agrovilles." 
( ibid .^ underlining added) 

(From these implied criticisms of the execution of the agroville con- 
cept^ it could be -- correctly ~ inferred that many of the defects 

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in "implementation" later associated with the strategic hamlet program 
were already discernible in the administration of the agrovilles by 
the Diem regime.) 

One dissent by the Department from Durbrow's recommenda- 
tions was on the Can lao: 

"As to surfacing or abolishing Can lao suggest that to ask 
for this and removal fflius and Tuyen simultaneously would be too 
much ... If considered necessary^ question could be raised 
later." ( ibid .) 

On ik October_, Ambassador Durbrow had his opportunity for 
frank discussion alone with Diem. He began by reading,, in French^ a 
l4-page paper containing the suggestions agreed to by the Department. 

"... Before reading text I stated that on October 13 I 
had been in Viet-Nam for three and one half years^ had foiond 
my assignment edifying^ interesting^ and most worthwhile. 
I mentioned solid and worthwhile progress I had noted in country 
since 1957 and congratulated President on his many fine accom- 
plishjaents. I then stated that since I admired his coiurage 
and determination I personally desired to do all I could to 
help him^ particularly in these trying times. I added I 
personally^ and other friends of his here as well as those in 
Washington^ have been giving much thought about how we might 
be helpful to hm. Resiolts of our thinking led to conclusion 
that we could be most helpful if we should make several sug- 
gestions which I could put to him in a frank manner as a friend. 
I then read the paper. 

"... When I finished reading President stated that most 
of suggestions I had made conformed to his basic ideas^ but added 
as much as he would like to put these into effect^ stepped-up 
activities of the Viet Cong made it most difficult. He added 
that many people have been intimidated by Viet Cong and some 
had been won over so that it would be difficult to carry out 
some of steps regarding countryside. I replied while I realized 
difficulties I was firmly convinced after most careful considera- 
tion that it essential now to take many if not all of these sug- 
gested steps on a calculated risk basis in order to creat the 
psychological shock which I believed essential at this time. 
President made no further comment except to tell me that he would 
consider the suggestions I had given him. 

"l then again begged his indulgence and asked if I could 
bring up a most sensitive and delicate matter which I felt in 
his interest and in interest of Viet-Nam I should discuss very 
frankly. From notes In French which I read but did not leave 

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with him^ (copy by pouch) I discussed growing criticism of his 
brother and Madam Nha^ as well as Dr. Tuyen and suggested that 
they shoiild be assigned abroad. Diem did not interrupt me but 
assumed somewhat grim^ and I detected^ slightly hurt manner. 
His only comment was that these rumors about the Mius were spread 
by communists. 1 replied that I was sure that communists were 
doing all they could to spread such rumors but I repeated that 
the unfortunate part about it is that more and more people are 
believing these reports - Vietnamese loyal to him^ those who 
might be considered in the opposition^ foreign civilians and 
foreign diplomats to say nothing of the press. 1 repeated,, as 
I had previously^ these reports were seriously damaging prestige 
of his regime. 

"After discussing the NhnSy I again apologized^ first of 
all for bringing up this personal and sensitive subject^ as well 
as the other suggestions I had made. I again asked his indulgence 
and forgiveness for speaking so frankly and added I hoped he 
would understand that I was talking as a sincere friend." 
(Saigon 802 to SecState^ I5 October 1960^ corrected copy) 

The same day^ September 16^ 1960^ as the Ambassador's 
recommendations for a political demarche to Diem, the JOS informed 
CINCPAC and the Chief of MAAG that they and the Deputy SecDef had 
approved a CINCPAC draft plan for counterinsurgency operations by the 
Government of South Vietnam. This had its origins in CINCPAC *s staff 
study of April 26^ I96O, subsequently endorsed by the JCS on June 6, 
i960, with the recommendations: 

"a. That appropriate U.S. Government Departments and 
agencies encourage the Vietnamese and Laotian Governments 
to adopt a national emergency organization to integrate civil 
and military resources under centralized direction for the 
conduct of counter-insurgency operations. 

b. That these U.S. departments and agencies encourage 
the Vietnamese and I^otian Governments to develop coordinated 
national plans for the progressive reduction of Communist 

c. That these U.S. Government departments and agencies 
be authorized and directed to support the training for and 
conduct oJ emergency operations . . 



e. That the U.S. Government provide sufficient materiel 
and budgetary support to insure the successful accomplishment 
of these emergency campaigns. 


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"The JCS also recommended that the Secretary of Defense 
initiate the action to obtain such U.S. Government support of 
counter- insurgency operations in Laos and Vietnam." (CINCPAC 
study and JCS memorandum 232-60^ Jxme G, 1960^ enclosed in letter^ 
Rear Admiral E. J. 0' Donnelly USN (Director^ Far East Region^ 
ISAj Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense)^ to J. Graham 
Parsons (Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs )j 
September l6^ 1960^ secret (file 6ll.5aJK); cited in Department 
of State^ Division of Historical Policy Research^ Research 
Project No. 630^ January 1965^ Recent American Policy and 
Diplomacy Concerning Vietnam^ I96O-I963; pp. 10-11 ) 

In a subseq.uent memo for the Secretary of Defense (JCSM- 
382-60^ dated August 3O; I96O) the JCS asserted that 

"'encouraging the Government of South Vietnam to adopt a 
national course of action designed to reduce the growing threat 
of Communist insurgent actions' was vital to the continued 
freedom of that country and an important action 'to preclude 
the necessity for implementing U.S. or SEATO war plans.'" 
(cited in Department of State Research Project No. 630^ January 
1965^ "Recent American Policy . . .^ " op. cit .) 

The draft plan forwarded to MAAG stressed organizational 
matters^ including the formation of a National Emergency Council and a 
Director of Operations to integrate civil and military efforts and 
foiraulate the Vietnamese National Coixnter- Insurgency Plan_, with sub- 
councils at regional^ provincial and village levels^ but concluded 
with a concept of operations: 

"(1) Politico/Military Operations . In order to provide 
protection which the people req.uire^ it is necessary to exercise 
more than an ordinary degree of control over the population. 
Among the more important operations required are those for 
exercising control in such manner as to isolate insurgents and 
sympathizers from the support of the populace. Such techniques 
as registration and identif ication^ food control^ and control 
of movement^ should be implemented as offering the best prospects 
for success. Control measures instituted should require support 
by psychological warfare and information programs to gain and 
maintain popular confidence and support. 

"(2) Military Operations . An effective continuing defensive 
system should remain in place^ with a ctupability for reinforcing 
the permanent local security establishment since it is not 
sufficient temporarily to defeat or suppress insurgents or to 
establish control in one area and then move the counter- 
insurgency forces to a new area thus allowing insurgents to 


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re-establish themselves. The regular military estahlishjnent 
of South Vietnam has the capability to fight either guerrillas 
or external aggressors. Militia type home guards and civil 
guards shoxild be trained and equipped. Accelerated efforts 
should be undertaken to develop the para-military and police 
forces- For the duration of the emergency campaign; 
operational control of all security activities should be under 
centralized direction. Border and Coastal Patrol operations^, 
being fundamental to the campaign to prevent insurgents 
receiving support from areas outside of South Vietnam^ should be 
closely coordinated with Vietnamese ground^ air^ and naval 
operations in the counter-insurgency campaign. These opera- 
tions shoiiLd also be coordinated with Cambodia and laos^ as 
feasible." (Defense 982994 to CHCPAC;, 162156Z Sep 60) 

The State Department^ accepting the recommendations of 
the Department of Defense^ sent a State-Defense message instructing the 
Ambassador of the country team to develop an overall plan 

"... for encouraging and supporting GVN in national 
emergency effort defeat insurgents and bring about order 
and stability in that country. Such action deteirmined necessary 
in order check disruptive influences which could cause dis- 
integration of the Government and the possible loss of South 
Viet-Nam to Communist Bloc." (Deptel 658 to AmEmbassy Saigon^ 
19 October I960) 

Before making known such a plan to the GYN it would be reviewed in 
Washington and a U.S. position established. 

After these somewhat differing analyses of the problem 
had been recorded^, an abortive coup by troops which had been regarded 
as among the most loyal in ARYE^ the airborne brigade^ appeared to 
validate concerns (expressed by the State Department and the August 30 
SNIE) over non- communist dissatisfactions with the Diem regime. Yet 
Washington interpretations of the coup and its aftermath were that 
it confirmed not only the Ambassador^ but his critics within the DOD 
in their respective convictions. 

Ambassador Durbrow described certain measures of reform 
promised by Diem after the coup but commented: 

"... It is hoped that these reforms are not just reforms 
on surface with little or no substance. Despite these signs^ 
there is basically quite serious under-current malaise and 
skepticism whether effective reforms will be taken soon enough. 
This uneasy feeling not confined to intellectuals or opposition 
groups; but to sizeable number of others^ i.e.; cabinet 

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Ministers_, other loyal officials^ deputies and some military. 
Mm and Thi:tan have indicated that Diem_, who not particularly 
interested fundamental political matters is resisting some 
suggested basic reforms." (From Saigon 1151^ ^ December 1960) 

The Ambassador reiterated the emphasis in his September 
analysis both upon the threat from non-communist quarters and the 
measures necessary to reduce it; however^ it was apparent that one 
effect of the coup had been to make one of the most important 
measures^ the transfer of Nhu^ politically infeasible at the time. 

"Just below surface there is much talk about another 
coup unless Diem relaxes some controls^ puts in effective reforms^ 
takes more effective action to fight VC and give protection to 
population. There is still strong under- current of resentment 
against entourage but because any action he took this score would 
be under pressure and indicate weakness,, and particularly his 
resentment of press stories about entourage^ coupled with fact 
Diem feels he needs Rhu as loyal adviser^ prospects Diem will 
transfer Miu to other work or abroad not in sights at least 
for some time. Despite this malaise and feeling about ento-urage^ 
most critics still respect Diem as only leader at moment but this 
feeling could easily change unless he takes fairly drastic 
action to meet criticism and basic desires most strata 

"We believe also that unless Diem takes early effective 
action on political fronts coup has increased chances for 
development neutralism and for anti-Americanism among those 
critical of GVN. Despite our close identification with Diem 
and his regime critics have not to date bracketed us with 
government in expressing their dissatisfaction. Many have told 
us however that only we can induce Diem adopt changes which 
will save his regime ^ thus indicating they look to us to help 
them. Jfy after failure of clearly ant i- Communist coup 
attempt to bring about changes we are not successful in inducing 
Diem to make peaceful changes^ critics may well become frus- 
trated^ turn against U.S.^ seek other means bring about change 
and might even move toward neutralist position in middle. If 
Viet Cong guerrilla successes in countryside continue at rate 
registered during past year^ this will also increase frustra- 
tion of armed forces and population and could provide soil in 
which neu*^.ralism may grow." ( ibid .^ pp, 2-3) 

Since Diem was assuring the mission he was working on 

reforms_; the Ambassador concluded 


we should not at moment 

press too hard^ " but it was still necessary to take appropriate 

1 I 


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opportunities to urge Diem and others to adopt at least the most 
important suggestions of his demarche of October ik; moreover^ the 
Ambassador now emphasized the necessity for leverage ^ as well as 
persuasion^ in inducing him both to institute political reforms and 
to accept the basic principles of the MMG Counter- Insurgency Plan: 

"Since it far from certain Diem will introduce sufficiently 
appealing and effective new programs and use his present security 
forces in most efficacious manner^, we must find suital^le means 
to bring pressirre on him. As I outlined in Embtel IIO5 as well 
as in memorandum this subject (letter to Parsons Nov 8) I am 
convinced_, even if we eventually should agree^ that we should 
not now accord his request for 20;, 000 additional force or concur 
in his unilateral action to raise force level (Chief MMG 1537 
Dec 1 - copy JCS) . To do so without his having relaxed controls^ 
instituted effective reforms and having permitted efficient use 
present forces_^ would not save the day for Diem but might even 
induce him follow his instinct to rely primarily on use of 
force both to control population and fight VC While I am not 
fvlly convinced need for extra 20_,000 men^ I would be willing 
to concur in such addition if careful study by all concerned 
concurred in this recommendation. (MMG views on urgent need 
for 20^000 increase foivarded Parsons my letter Nov 30th) 
therefore^ suggested this matter be carefully studied Washington 
and if final recommendation is favorable it be kept secret as 
ace in the hole to grant Diem provided he has taken other 
necessary steps which are to me much more fundamental^ and 
provided he needs extra force after taking more essential 
steps. If J for instance^ at the beginning next year he has 
taken effective steps along lines suggested above and it is 
still considered he needs increased force level we could so 
inform him then. But in meantime^ in view his threat to raise . 
■ force level unilaterally^ I should be instructed soonest to 
taut suitable opportunity to state while force level increase 
is under consideration Washington cannot now see its way clear 
to grant such increase when other more important steps are 
essential at present in fight against VC and to make further 
progress Viet-Nam. 

"in summary^ situation in Viet-Nam is highly dangerous to 
US interests. Communists are engaged in large-scale guerrilla 
effort to take over countryside and ouist Diem's Government. 
Their activities have steadily increased in intensity throughout 
this year. In addition Diem is faced with widespread popular 
dissatisfaction with his government's inability to stem the 
commxmist tide and its own heavy-handed methods of operation. 
It seems clear that if he is to remain in power he must meet 


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these two challenges by improvements in his methods of 
conducting war against communists and in vigorous action to 
build greater popular support. We should help and encoura-ge 
him to take effective action. Should he not do so^ we may well 
be forced^ in not too distant future^ to undertake difficult task 
of identifying and supporting alternate leadership." (Saigon 
1151 to SecState^ k December 1960^ Section 2 of 2^ pp-2-3) 

At the same time that Durbrow turned to an emphasis on 
pressure^ his dispatch contained strong hints that U.S. ability to 
influence Diem and his immediate entourage without pressure might 
have declined_j as an Immediate result of the abortive coup and the 
perceived relation of the U.S. to it. 

"Miu and Diem still deeply rankled particularly by 
critical American press stories about autocratic regime and 
entourage^ and Diem made the ridiculous statement to 
Ladejinsky November 30th that he believes some Americans may 
have backed coup because one of coup leaders^ Colonel Dong^ 
'told him so during negotiations.^ This may represent rationaliza- 
tion blame others not selves . . .. both Nhu and Diem now express- 
ing deep displeasure because Americans equated Diem regime with 
rebels because both anti-Comjnunists and therefore we urged both 
sides negotiate- While under circumstances their attitude 
understandable^ we have made point clear to them that we did all 
in our power to prevent that he should be given active role in any 
government established . .... " ( ibid .^ Section 1 of 2^ p. 2) 

At best; a state of affairs in which Diem believed we 
had been sympathetic to a rebellion against him could only be ominous 
for our relationship with him^j and Durbrow implicitly acknowledged 
this in recommending a conciliatory gesture of reassurance^, of a type 
that was to characterize oujt relations with the Diem regime in subse- 
quent years: 

"Since Diem believes we do not londerstand seriousness of 
VC threat and he suspects we may have encouraged rebels^ we 
should make arrangements immediately to ship six H-3^ helicop- 
ters which are not only most urgently needed fight VC effectively 
but would reassure Diem we trying give effective help." ( ibid . ^ 
Section 2 of 2^ p. 2) 

In the eyes of those who regarded Diem as the indispensable 
kingpin of effective anti-comm.unist policy in Vietnam^ and thus a mutual 
feeling of confidence and trust between Diem and the U.S. of paramount 
importance^; such a gesture seemed pitifully inadequate — and^ indeed^ 
Durbrow 's continuing presence as Ambassador possibly coimter-productive 
— In the situation prevailing after the attempted coup. For example^ 
another Lansdale memorandimi: 

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''^'■' i y tmi 



From: BrigGen Lansdale, OSO/OSD . ' . 

"Subj; ■ Vietnam "' ■ ■ ■ ; "* •-.."■ 

; As desired by you, I visited Vietnam 2-14 January 1961. After ^ 

twelve days of intensive looking and listening over some old familiar 
. ■■ ground, -I have come to the foUowinc^ personal convictions: 

a, 1961 promises to be a fateful, year for Vietnam. . ^^ 

b. The Communist Viet Cong hope to win back Vietnam south 
of the 17th Parallel this year, if at all possible, and are much, further 
along towards accomplishing this objective than I had realized from 
reading the reports received in Washington, O 


. c. The free Vietnamese, and their government, probably will 
be able to do no more than postpone eventual defeat - - unless they 
find a Vietnamese way of mobilizing their total resources and then 
utilizing them with spirit, - ' 


*. ■ 

d. The U. S. team in Vietnam will be unable to help the Viet- 
namese with real effectiveness, miless the U,S. system of their 
operation is changed sufficiently to free these Americans to do the 
job that needs doing/ and unless they do it with sensitive understanding 
and wisdom. 

e. If Free Vietnam is won by the Communists, the remainder 
. of Southeast Asia will be easy -pickings for our enemy, because -the 

^ . toughest local force on our side will be ^cne. A Communist victory 
also would he a major blow to U, S. prestige and influence, not only 
in Asia but throughout the world, since the world believes that Vietnam 
. _ .has reinained'free only througlt U. S,he]p. Such a victory would tell 
leaders of other governments that it doesn-t pay to be a friend of the 
U. S. , and would be an even more marked lesson than Laos, \^ 

.. f. Vietnam can be kept free, but it will require a changed ^^ 

U.S. attitude, plenty of hard work and patience, and a new spirit by " V^. 

the Vietnamese. The Viet Cong have been pushing too hard militarily -::- 

N/ to get their roots dovm firmly and can be defeated by an inspired and . 3 

determined effort. J ■'.'-•-. • 

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g. Ngo Dinh Diem is still the only Vietnamese v/ith executive 
ability and the required determina.tion to be an effective President. I 
believe there will be another attempt to get rid of him soon, unless the 
* U.S. makes it clear that we are backing hiin as the elected top man. 
If the 11 November coup had been successful, I believe that a nviinber 
of highly selfish and mediocre people v/o\Tld be squabbling among them- 
selves for pov/er while the Communists took over. The Cominunists 
will be more alert to exploit the next coup attempt. At present, most 
Vietnamese oppositionists believe that the U. S. would look favorably 
upon a successf\.il coup, 

h. Vietnam has progressed faster in material things than it has 
spiritually. The people have inore possessions but are starting to lose 
the will to protect their liberty. There is a big lesson here to be learned 
about the U.S. aid program which needs some most serious study. 



■^ _ - J . _ — - — - ' * 

Before I left Saigon, I discussed my impressions v/ith Ambassador 
Durbrow who was most gracious towards me during the visit. Included 
in these impressions was my feeling that many of the Americans in 
Saigon perhaps subconciously believed in defeat, probably had spent too 
much time and energy on the political situation in Saigon instead of on 
- the very real Viet Cong menace, and were in need of some bolstering 
up by the Chief of Mission. In this feeling of defeat, I would have to 
except the Chief of MAAG and the local CIA Chief who believe. v/e can 
win. Ambassador Durbrov/ told me of the inemo he. had issued to all 
Americans in Saigon after the 11 November coup attempt. I said this 
was a good inove, but much more than writing a paper v/as p.eeded. 

He asked me what suggestions I had. I said that I didn't 
inuch immediately and wo\.ild have to do a lot of thinking about it. The 
situation in Vietmam is not black and white, but a. most complex one in 
all shades of gray. Many Americans and Vietnamese expected me to 
come up with some sort of a miracle, to turn Ngo Dinh Diem into an 
Americanized modern version of the ancient Vietnamese leader Le Loi. 
However, the task requires more than a gimmick or some simple 
ansvv'er. It will take a lot of hard work and follovz-through. In 12 
days, all 1 could do was learn as much as I could and to **plant a seed 
or two'^ with Ngo Dinh Diem and other Vietnamese leaders who knov^/ 
that I speak out of deep affection for the free Vietnamese. 

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Since leaving Vietnam, I have spent many hours thinking about the 
situation there. I am far from having a complete proposal to solve the 
situation. However, I do have some recommendations now for steps 
which should be taken to start remedying the do\vnhiIl and dangerous 
trend in Vietnam. They are: • ■ • * 

.' a. The U. S. should recognize that Vietnam is in a critical con- • 
dition and should treat it as a combat area of the cold v/ar, as an area 

requiring emergency treatment. 

• ■ b. When there is an emergency, the wise thing to do is to pick . 
the best people you have, people who are experienced in dealing with 
. this precise type of emergency, and send them to the spot Vtdth orders 
to remedy the situation. When yout get the people in position and free 
thein to work, you should then back thein up in eveTy practical Vv^ay you 
can. The real decisions wLU be made in little daily actions in Vietnam, 
not in Washington. That's why the best are needed on the spot. 


c. Our U.S. team in Vietnam should have a hard core of experi- 
enced Americans who know and really like Asia and the Asians, dedicated 
people who are willing to risk their lives for the ideals of freedoin, and 
who will try to influence and guide the Vietnamese towards U.S. policy 
objectives with the warm friendships and affection v/hich our close 
alliance deserves. We should break the rules of personnel assignment, 

if necessary, to get such U.S. military and civilians to Vietnam. 



d. Under emergency conditions, our aid to Vietnam should be 
treated as contingency business a.nd be given expedited prioritj^ handling 
imtil we can afford to take a breathing spell. 

e. Ambassador Durbrow should be transferred in the immediate 
future. He has been in the "forest of tigers" which is Vietnam for 
nearly four years now and I doubt that he him.self realizes how tired he 
has become or how close he is to individual trees in this big woods. 
Correctly or not, the recognized government of Vietnam does not look 
upon him as a friend, believin.g that he sympathized strongly with the 
coup leaders of 1 1 November, 

f. The^new Ambassador should arrive as many v/eeks as possible 
before the April elections, for which the Communists are now actively 
preparing v/ith their "political struggle" tactics almost unhindered. The 
new Ambassador should be a person with marked leadership talents who 
can make the Country Team function harmoniously and spiritually, who 

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can influence Aaans through understanding them sympathetically, and 
who is alert to the power of the Mao Tse Tung tactiqs now being em- 
ployed to capture Vietnam and vrho is dedicated to feasible and practicar 
democratic means to defeat these Comjnunist tactics. 

g. Serious consideration given to replacing USOM 
Chief Gardiner. A number of Vietnamese pointedly answered my ques-' 
tions about Gardiner by talking about his deputy. Coster, while admitting 
that "Gardiner seems to be a nice man who has fallen asleep in pur 

*'. . h. U.S. military men in Vietnam should be freed to work in the 
combat areas. Our MAAG has a far greater potential than is now being 
utilized. U.S. military men are hardly in a position to be listened to 
when they are snug in rear areas and give advice to Vietnamese officers 
who have attended the same U.S. military schools and who are nov7 in 
a combat in which fev/ Americans are experienced. I^IAAG personnel 
from General McGarr on dovm expressed desire to get more into real ■ 
field work; let»s give them what they want as far as U.S. permission 
is concerned and let them earn their v/ay into positions of greater 
influence with the Vietnamese military in the field, 

i. A mature American, with much the same qualifications as 
those given above for the selection of the next Ambassador, should be 
_ assigned to Vietnam for political operations which will start creating 
a Vietnamese -style foundation for more democratic government with- 
tout weakening the strong leadership required to bring about the defeat of 
'the Communists. This must not be a "clever" type who is o^it to gain a 
reputation as a "manipu.lator" or a word- smith who is more concerned 
about the way his reports will look in Washington than in implementing 
U.S. policy in Vietnam, , • 

1 j. We must support Ngo Dinh Diem until another strong execu- . 

j tive can replace him legally. President Diem feels that An^ricans 
'have attacked him almost as viciously as the Communists, and he has 
! withdrawn into a shell for self-protection. Y/e have to show him by 
! deeds, not words alone, that we are his friend. This v/ill make our 
^influence effective again.. ' . ■ 

. K. We must do much, much more constructive work with the 
oppositionists. I suspect that the U.S. has taught them to be carping 
'■■ critics and disloyal citizens by our encouragement of these traits, 
iThey need to put together a constructive program which can save 


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I Vietnam from the Commiinists by building something worth a man's 
j life to preserve. If it's a good program, v/e should encourage one 
' strong' political opposition to em:erge, without endangering the national 
i security. Here is where out political skill needs to be used. This 
. political v/ork is needed as a matter of grave urgency. Unless a con- 
■ structive outlet'is found quickly, the opposition in Saigon is going to . 
explode in violence again and the Viet Cong are wide av/ake to exploit 
it this time. . ■ . . 

The Com.munist Threat, 


It was a shock to me to look over raaps of the estimated situation 
with U.S. and VietTiamese intelligence personnel, as well a s^ with 
President Diem who held similar grim views. The Com.munist Viet ' 
Cong now dominate much of the 1st and 5th Military Regions, as v/ell 
as being active in spots in other regions, according to these estimates. 
. The probable strezigth of the Communist armed forces in South Vietnam 
was given to me in various guesses from 3, 000 to 15, 000. My guess is 
that the strength is now closer to the latter figure and that only Planoi 
knov/s accurately. . ■ ■ • 


This strength estimate by itself isn't what shocked me. The ■ 
shocking part was to realize that the thousands of disciplined and trained 
" Communist graduates of "proletarian military science" had been able 
to infiltrate the most productive area of South Vietnam and to gain con- 
trol of nearly all of it except for narrov/ corridors protected by military 
actions and for a fev/ highly-localized spots where loyal paramilitary 
forces (Civil Guards and Self-Defnese Corps) have undertaken inspired 
counter-guerrilla actions or where villagers work closely with the 

> • * » 

•- ■ . . 
The Viet Cong have the initiative and most of the control over 

the region from the jungled foothills of the High Plateau north of Saigon 

all the way south dovm to the Gulf of Siam, excluding the big city area 

of Saigon-Cholon. This is Vietnam's -"bread-basket" where most of 

'its rice and rubber are gfov/n. ■ ■ " ■ ■ 

Unlike the Philippines or Malaya, the Communists cannot be 
cordoned off at the country's borders and then dealt v/ith as an internal 


security problem alone. The borders of Vietnam are long and include 
■ some of the most difficult terrain in the world to patrol. It is apparent ' 
that many of the Viet Cong infiltrate from Cambodia, particularly from 
Svayrieng Province. Also, southeastern Laos has a reported Comni\ nist 


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build-up, with RLG forces committed elsewhere, and increasing 
infiltration into Vietnam is reported. 

. .1 

There is an intense psychological attack being waged against 
Free Vietnam by the Cominunists. This not only includes' an almost 
constant barrage from, pov/erfxil Radio Hanoi, Vvhich is reportedly 
relayed from Cambodia and is received as a loud and clear signal 
in South Vietnam, but also a heavy campaign by on-the-spot agitprop 
agents. A part of the psychological attack is directed against Ameri- 
cans, particularly against U.S. MAAG personnel, along the lines of 
• ' "tlie Chinese Commtinist "hate America" campaign, I did not have 
the time or means to assess the effect of this psychological attack 
which has been going on for years. 


-The big city area of Saigon-Cholon undoubtedly is a target of 
Communist operations, although I was able to find out little about 
either the Communist organization or its operations in this city area. 
U.S. intelligence personnel believed that Vietnamese counter-intelli- 
g-ence organizations were so actively "hustling" so. many suspects 
that the Communists have been unable to institute much of an organi- 
zation. President Diein believed that the Communists were concentrating 
their work elsev/liere, following the dictum: ''first the mountains, then 
the countryside, and then the city." The attitude of Vietnamese and 
U.S. officials remi.nded me of the French and Vietnamese officials in 
Hanoi in 1953-54, who were so surprised later to discover that a 
complete, block-by-block clandestine Communist apparatus existed 
there. Oi; of Filipinos and Americans who believed the Huks were 
in central Luzon in 1950 and v/ere so surprised v/hen an entire 
Comnronist politburo was captured in the city of Manila. I believe 
that the people in Saigon-Cholon have been the target of considerable 
subversive effort by the Commiinists and that it takes an in-place 
organization, to carry this out. . . ■ 

Communist strength fic^ures are difficult to determine due in 
part to the different categories of personnel, I v/as able to get no 
estimate on the number of Communist political-^psychological operators, 
-a.lthough the DRV reportedly have trained many for work in the south. 
Also, the Communist military personnel include regulars who have 
infiltrated froin the north, plus territorial forces and guerrillas who 
apparently are recruited locally. Colonel Tranh Thien Khiem, who 
commands the 5th Military Region, broke his estimate of some 7, 000 
Viet Cong military in his region into 3, 320 reg^xlars, I, 170 territorials, 
and 2,590 guerrillas. When the Vietminh troops v/ere transferred to 
the north in 1954-55 under the Geneva Agreeme* ■. ma^Yl'^ft *"ar^ilies. 

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NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 


behind in the south, along \Yith £rtay-behind organizations and arnisr. 
- caches. Although the pacification campaigns of 1955-56 cleaned up 
what the Commxinists had left behind to .some extent, there were remnant's 
remaining which the Viet Cong have since exploited and augmented 
' greatl^y over the past 5 years. • • .' 

Presi dent Ngo Dinh Diem ' • ; ' ' ■ " ' * 

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President Diem and I are friends'. Also, he is a man who put 
othei' Vietnamese friends of mine in jail or exiled them. It is hardly 
* a blind friendship. * ' " * • • ' ' 


prior to my departure from Washington, Jeff Parsons asked if 
I would please size-up President Diem carefully to see if he had changed 
much from when I had worked with him so closely in' 1954-56, In our 
first ineeting, he was a bit cautious v/ith me, I suspected that he'v/as 
wait5aig for me to drop "Washington's other shoe as a follow-up to the 
. Ambassador's demands that he reform his v/ays. So, I reminisced on ■.. 

what we had been through together in the past and he joined in, adding 
. the story of the 11 November coup as he__saw it. Our meetings from 
then on became more like the old days, with plenty of give and take. . . 
but only after I convinced him that I still had affection for the Viet- 
. namese people and was trying to understand their problems before 
. sounding off. 

He seems to have a better grasp of economic matters than formerly. 
Also, I believe he sincerely wants to pass some of his daily burden of 
work to others. He said that he had found this extremely hard to do, 
since too many others v/ere soft in carrying out responsibilities or else 
v/ere too vain to knuckle -dovv-n to hard work. This has forced hina to 
over-burden Nguyen Dinh Thuan, Secretary of State for the Presidency, 
■ who doesn^'t hesit=i.te to make tough decisions when needed, who has had 
to act as hatchet-man when others were too soft to get rid of incompe- • 
tents, and v/ho has been loyal to his boss (although he speaks right up 
for his ov/n views). Vice President Tho is so soft-hearted that he 
. ..really never takes corrective action a.gainst wrong doers. Vu Van Thai 
* is a "blackmailer" by threatening to resign after convincing the Americans 
'that he is the most brilliant Vietnamese in economic matters, although 
he is a poor executive v/hose v/ork is in bad shape;- if Diem accepted 
.' Thai's resignation, the Americans vv-oidd feel that the Vietnamese Gov- 
ernment was going to hell. (Unfortunately, there's some truth in these 
, feelings of Diem's about Tho and Thai). * ' ■ .' 

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I believe President Diem is more screened in by his ''palace 

guard" than he realizes - - but then rrrach the same could be aaid of 

other leaders elsewhere. I noted that he stilj. has a personal informant 

net and I managed to talk to som.e of them privately. The largest influence, 

but not the only one, is wielded by his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. However, 

I found President Diem unusually well inforiTied on the situation in Vietnam, 

including the bad aspects - - better informed than any other Vietnamese 

among the many with whom I talked. ;, 

. ■ . ' • - . / 

. • -.In reflecting on our conversations, I have concluded tZaat imost folks 
v/ho talk to him have little empathy for, or sensitve imderstanding of, 
him. They fajl to realize that Diem is huma,n and doesn*t lilce the idea 
of people trying to kill him out of hatred; the coup attempt of 11 November 
opened at 3 a. in. by bursts of heavy machine gun fire into his bedroom 
in an ohvloxis try at liquidating him in his bed. On top of this, he has 
noA^ had nearly 7 years of venomous attack by the Communists who know 
that he is a major obstacle v/hich must be destroyed before they can win. 

■ This is a daily psychological attack on him in his own country, in his 
cv^Ti language, and listened to by his ovni people. The only way he 
could shut this off today v/ould be to give up what he, and we, believe in. 
On top of this, he hs,s criticism heaped on him by many who are simply 
being destructive, he ha^ administrators v/ho are disloyal or whose 
vanity is expressed in talking a better job of v^^ork than in doing it. And 
tlien, to cap the criticisms, he feels that many Americans have con- 
tempt for him - - tlzat the U. S, v/hich sould be Vietnam's staunchest 
friend is somehow taking the same psychological line with him as do 
the CoraiTLunists, that somehow our nobly-expressed policies get carried 
cut v/ith much pettiness in actual practice. • 

- If the ne:>vt American official to talk to President Diem would have 
tr.e good sense to see him as a human being v/ho has been through a lot 
. of hell for years -- and not as an opponent to be beaten to his knees -- 

v/e would start regaining our influence with him in a healthy way. ;What- 
• ever else we m.ight think of him, he has been unselfish in devoting his 
life to his country and has little in personal belongings to show for it. 
\ \ ■ ' ■ If ^-e don't like the heavy influence of Brother Nha, then let's move 

I • ■ someone of curs in clor.e. This someone, however, must be able to 

i I ■ -ook at problems \\ith understanding, su^r^est tetter solutions than 

i j COts Nhu, earn a position of influence. . • 

•The next- time v/e become '^holier than thou", we might find it 
^-boring to reflect on the DRV. Do the Soviets and the Chinese Com- 
munists give Ho Chi Minh a similar hard time, or do they aid and 
•^^'Ot hirn? 

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I I 

I I 

• ■ U. S. Political Efforts ..•.•.■ - 

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* * ' ' ' 

■ The United States has been the main foreign political mentor for 
Free Vietnam since it became an independent nation. Of course other 
nations have had their influence. But v/e were the ones v/ho have spoken 

• with authority, v/no have held the purse-strings, v/ho trained and advised 
. the government personnel, and to whom most Vietnamese in political 

life have looked for guidance. It is only human to v/ant to find someone 
else to blame for v/hat has gone wrong- But, we won't be able to start . 
doing effective politicaLv/ork until v/e admit that our own actions carry . 
responsibilities v/ith them. There are plenty of Aaron Burr's, a few 
Alexander Hamilton's and practically no George "Washington's, Tom 
Jefferson.'s or Tom Paine 's in Saigon today ... largely as a result . 
■of our U»S. political influence. This certainly is not the U.S. policy 
we had hoped to implement. 

■ a 


Ambassador Durbrov/ seemed genuinely surprised v/hen I told 
him that the Can Lao. Party in Vietnam was originally promoted by 
the U.S. State Department and v/as largely the brain-child of a highly- 
'■■ respected, senior U.S. Foreign Service professional. Several weeks 
; after this action v/as imdertaken originally, I learned of it and warned 

■ that the benefits were extremely short-term and that great lasting 
;'harm could result by a favored party forcing older parties to go under- 
; ground. However, the decision had been inade, the Can Lao party had 

i been started, and v/e had to start working from that reality. We cannot 

• go back to living in the past and must keep moving ahead, hut that 
. doesn't mean that v/e have to pay forever for our mistakes. 

However, the real point is that v/e don't seem to have very long 
memories or enough solid feeling of responsibility for out acts. Many 
U.S. Foreign Service officials leap into attacks on the Can Lao. Party. 
I agree with their reasons. Any thinking American would. But I sure 
would feel better about it if they could 6nly remember the consequences 
of their own actions for a fev/ short years - and learn from that memory, 
I cannot truly s.y inpa thi 2 e- v/ith Americans v/ho help promote afascistic 
state arid then" get angry when it doesn't act like a democracy. 

So, what should we do about it? I have a concrete recommenda- 
tion. \7e need an America.n in Saigon v/ho can work v/ith real skill, 

■ with great sensitivity to Vietnamese feelings, and v/ith a fine sense of 
.the dangerous limits of Vietnamese national security in a time of 

emergency. This unusual America-n should be given the task of creating 






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f an opposition party v/hicli v^ould coalesce tlie majority of the opposition 
.into one oro'anirsation, of helping this new party adopt a platform v/hich 
i contains S'oxmd ideas for building national entities v/hich the Vietnamese 
. people v/oiild find v/orth defending against the Communists, and of 
,-. strongly influencing it to play the role of loyal opposition while President 
^ Diem is in power and the nation is in such great danger. 

/ This' v/ork with the opposition is" a matter of grave urgency, 

I Unless the energies of the malcontents, the frustrated, the patriots on 
i'the outs are quickly channeled into constructive political v/orks, they 
\ are going to explode into destructive political work. This opposition 
^_ situation in Saigon-Cholon is at the bursting point, and there is no 
■ safety valve. 7/hen it next blows, and if Diem cannot cope with it, 
j the Siagon political scene has all the makings of turning into anarchy, 
j It can happen, and soon, 

I sav/ a number of opposition people, officials of various parties, 
meiTibers of the National Assembly, and disgruntled members of 
president Diem's administration. They eagerly told me hov/ they v/ere 
criticizing Diem's actions more and more openly. I asked them what 
their own program v/as, other than to seize pov/er for themselves o-r 
to have n:ie pat them on the head for being critics. Few of them had 
any sensible ideas. I told them they'd better get busy scratching for 
a better program themselves or else I could only assume that they 
were being disloyal or treasonous in a time of great national danger. 
I trust that other Americans talking to these oppositionists will do the 
same or we v/ill be inviting disaster by listening to this and keeping 
mum when we should be working like beavers to turn it into construc- 
tive channels, 

. If we can get most of the oppositionists meeting with each other 
to try to put together a platform they can all agree on, and can pro- 
tect such work so that it can be done faifrly openly, we v/ill have an 
extremely useful political action in motion. It will absorb inonths 
!of political energies Vs^hich otherv/ise will go tov/ards the solution of 
farmed overthrow, A major opposition party, once it starts becoming 
ia reality, will tend to make the several governmental groupings such 
jas the Can Lao, MNR, and Nhu's labor organizations start coalescing 
/into one stronger group, In this way, we can helppromote a tv/o-party- 
': system which can afford to be surfaced^ end much of the present 




j clandestine political structures, and give sound encouragement to 
• the development of nev/ political leaders. There are many fine younger • 
v-^atr^-^ts who need this sort of a healthy political atmosphere to develop 
r[ in. it ws ever exnect Vietnam to hav'^ ^ real future. 

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Hero are some ?-dditional thoughts; ' ■ ■ ' ' 

■ ■ ■ 

. ^.. President Diem said that if it hadn't bsen for the dedicated 

anti-comniunisrn of about a million Catholics, Vietnam coiild never 
have kept going this long, Yet his brother, Archbichop Thuc, told 
• me th^^t the refugees from the north (including many Catholics) had 
• been settled into such r.emvmerative new lives in the south that they 
had gone soft, ho longer v/anted to fight, and criticized the govern- 
ment for u^nting to continvie the v/ar. Also, the Saigon- Cholon area is ~ 
seething %^-ith political discontent v/hile the people are far better off 
in material poscesoions than ever before. The shops are full of goods 
for Tet and the people are buying heavily. Somehow, the U. S. haa 
filled their bellies but has neglected their spirit. 

b. Many of the Vieltiamese in the covmtryside v/ho v/efre right 
up against the Viet Cong terror v/ere full of patriotic spirit. Those 
v/ho seemed to be in the hardest circumstances, fighting barefoot 
and v/ith makeshift weapons, had the highest morale. They still can 
lick the Viet Cong with a little help. There's a lesson here on our. 
. giving aid. Maybe we shoi^dd learn that our funds cannot buy friends 
. or a patriotic spirit by mere materialistic giving. Perhaps we should 
help those who help themselves,- and not have a lo*c of strings on that 

. c. The Viet Cong crowded a lot of action into the year I960. 
They infiltrated thoi^sands of armed forces into South Vietnara, 
recruited local levies of military territorials and guerrillas, and 
undertook large scale guerrilla and terroristic operations. In so 
. doing, they neglected doing sound political work at the grass roots 
level and broke one of Mao Tse Tung's cardinal rules. Many people • 
in the south nov/ under their thumb are unhappy about it, but too . 
. terrified to act against these new rulers. The Viet Cong apparently 
... have^been v/orking hard recently to rectify this error, and now have ' 
political cadres in the field, V/e still have a chance of beating them 
if wc.can give the people some fighting chance of gaining security 
an. some political basis of action. Since both of these actions v/iU 
have to be carried out by Vietnamese forces in their Defense estab- 
lishment, it is worthwhile to make U.S. help to the Vietnamese in 
tne contested provinces along these sorely needed lines a priority 
mission of the U.S. military in Vietnam. The political actions should • 
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force commanders, aided by Vietnamese psychological v/arfare units. 
If the U.S. military doesn't ride herd on this, it is apt to be neglected 
and is too vital to keeping Vietnam free to be made a secondary work', 

d, ^ I am passing a copy of this to Admiral Felt at CINCPAC. 
Suggest that copies be passed also to selected persons in Defense, 
State, and CIA, " 

^ iS (AiU4 &"^t.r> J^_ 

Edv/ard G. LANSDALE 
Brigadier General, U,S.A,F. 

I i 

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,-: SEC RET 

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General Lansdale seems on soiond ground in arguing that 
continued nagging^ let alone stronger pressures^ to win Diem's 
acceptance of political changes he did not want and which he regarded 
as specific threats to his regime, could only subtract from Diem's 
confidence in the U.S. This in turn imperiled hopes of winning his 
cooperation on military measures believed crucial to secirrity. 
Nevertheless, the State Department endorsed the Ambassador's notions 
for continued representations to Diem on the urgency of political 
reforms, and instructed him to follow up his l4 October demarche on 
the liberalization of his regime. In his approach to Diem, the 
Department suggested the Ambassador follow the line: 

. . . Would prefer, for moment, put aside questions internal 
reforms GVN calc-ulated primarily increase its efficiency (such 
as Internal Security Council) and focus on liberalization since 
any announcements GVW makes this subject will be, matter great 
public interest ..." (Underlining added) 

"... It Embassy* s observation events November 11 and 12^ 
whatever their cause, have led to increased atmosphere uneasiness 
and some doubt projected refoarms will be adequate (Embtel 1151)- 
This adds einphasis to basic premise against which, we believe, 
program of liberalization should be tested: it shouJl.d be 
genuine, if limited, liberalization on several fronts to be 
announced simultaneously ... if liberalization not clear 
cut and genuine and not made on several fronts, public will 
feel deceived and GVN will lose rather than gain popiilar 
support ..." (Deptel 898 to AmEmbassy Saigon, I5 December 
i960, pp. 1-2) . 

The Department picked out several "liberalization" 
measures from the l4 October demarche, including the right of the 
National Assembly to investigate the GW; greater freedom for domestic 
press; better relations with the foreign press; and several rural 

Durbrow reported on the resulting conversation with Diem; 

" . . • While Diem was pleasant during hour and three- 
quarters of discussions, he was basically negative. Diem did 
not reply to my remarks immediately but insisted essential have 
additional 20,000 troops since would do no good to try to put 
in reform-S, build factories, roads and bridges, etc., uuiless 
these things and people could be protect:ed. He referred several 
times to the need for 20,000 men stressing need because of 
deteriorating Lao situation. I then remarked we had just learned 
that he had increased- force level of civil guard to 6^,000 and 
asked if this increase would not fill security force needs. 

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- Diem replied civil guard not trained so needs bring back 

20^000 reservists. He asked that I urge Dept to give 
favorable consideration force level request ^nd^^I reiterated 
matter under careful study in Washington ..." (Saigon 1216 
to SecState^ December 2k ^ 1960^ pp. 1-2) 

When the Ambassador told Diem of approval to give him 
eleven H-3^ helicopters as soon as possible, "he made no comment. 
He rejected notions that the Assembly might investigate executive 
departments (dismissing Durbrow's comment that we have the same 
system in America) and then commented on the Department's earlier 
recommendations with respect to the agroville program: 

"... Although I had not mentioned corvee labor this time. 
Diem stated this only way collect equivalent of taxes from 
peasants and that this system is in Vietnamese tradition, but 
peasants in Cochin-China under French had not been asked to 
contribute labor. Therefore they now resent corvee labor and of 
course would not think of paying any monetary taxes. He pointed 
out peasants in central Viet-Nam willingly contribute free labor 
instead of taxes. I remarked one reason for discontent m south 
is arbitrary action of officials and the failure to explain needs 
to peasants before forcing them to work. Diem insisted peasants 
had been told of needs but they just lazy." ( ibid ., p. 3) 

In view of Diem's expressed attitudes in this area, and the actual 
practice of his regime in implementing the agroville program, there 
was scarcely a basis for surprise when U.S. -urged provisions for pay- 
ing peasants for their labor on the strategic hamlets went generally 
unfulfilled. In any event, Durbrow's report left little doubt that 
persuasion in pursuit of liberalizing reforms that Durbrow and State — 
but not Diem, or, it would appear, MAAG or the DOD - believed essential 
to counter the Viet Cong, had reached an impasse: 

"On few occasions he let me talk, I urged he adopt refoms 
soonest since it essential to win further support of the people 
if Viet Cong menace is to be overcome, but he gave me no 
indication of reforms he may adopt. ' Before leaving I again 
expressed hope that he would accept our suggestion that he 
announce all liberalizing programs at one time in order to make 
best impact. Diem replied he would think about this but made no 

"Comments. We have heard that ffiiu, Thuan and others have . 
i I been running into resistance when urging Diem to adopt worth- 

while reforms. I also received impression he very reluctant 
to adopt reforms and is still basically thinking in terms of 
force to save the day, hence his insistence several times that 


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we approve force level increase and his action raising civil 
guard ceiling by 10^000. While I still helieve it absolutely 
essential he adopt more liberal programs^ it is not certain from 
his attitude and remarks that he will take effective action in 
these matters^ although I learned later he has agreed to engage 
the services of a public relations expert suggested by CAS to 
make a survey of GVW foreign public relations needs." ( ibid ,^ 

pp. 3-^) , 

4. The Count erinsurgency Plan (CZP) 

The expectations of the Department of Defense for the 
amelioration of Diem's security situation^ as well as those of State 
and the Embassy^ were embodied in a Counterinsurgency Plan for 
Vietnam (CIP)^ prepared over the months April to December I96O;, and 
forwarded to Washington for approval on k January I96I (Saigon despatch 
276^ date cited). The CIP represented a considerable evolution in the 
U.S. concepts of how to cope with Vietnam's internal security. During 
1959 and early 1960^ Diem^ recognizing the precariousness of his 
position^ had begun to experiment with the structure of his security 
forces^ seeking to find a mix of police^ paramilitary^ and regular 
military forces capable of countering the Viet Cong. The U.S. MAAG, 
Vietnam^ though constantly handicapped by personnel ceilings imposed 
out of respect for the Geneva Accords^ had labored to build a modern 
national army^ capable of both delaying invading forces from Worth 
Vietnam and of coping with internal threats; in the pre-1960 MAAG 
view^ Diem was trifling with his army. ^ In early I96O the US decided^ 

^ The MAAG "Country Statements" for the period 1956-19^0 record a 
concentration on developing the staff and logistic superstructure of 
ARVNj and on U.S. Army-type training programs; throughout^ it is clear 
that the MAAG looked increasingly to the Self Defense Corps^ the 
Civil Guard, and the National Police to meet the "Viet Minh" internal 
threat in order to free ARVN for conventional combat training. See 
especially U-S. Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam, "Country 
Statement on MDAP, Non-NATO Countries," paragraphs 1, 5, 6, and Section 
C, of the reports I5 January I956, 20 July 195^^ 21 January 1957j. 
15 July 1957; also, same headquarters, "Narrative &budy, " dated 
2k August 1958, and "Narrative statement," dated 25 November I958 
with changes dated 10 May 1959, 9 August 1959^ and 8 November 1959- 
Cf., Shaplen, op. cit ., 117-119, 137; Warner, op. cit ., 129-I36; 
Scigliano, pp. cit ., I62-I67; Nighswonger, op. cit ., ^3-^1-8; David 
Halberstam, The Making of a Quagmire (New York: Random House, 19^5)^ 

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.^^ Geneva and the ICC notwithstanding, to amalgamate the Temporary Equipment Re- 
covery Mission (TERM) with the MAAG; action was initiated to obtain ICC con- 
currence. Early in May the press learned of this plan, and a story was pub- 
lished that "the US is doubling its military training staff m South- Vietnam 

i and stepping up the training of Vietnamese troops for guerrilla warfare ^ 

' against Communist terrorists:" The release stated that: 

"The decision reflects concern about the mounting strength and 
boldness of Communist bands which are raiding the villages and ^ 
assassinating Vietnamese- off icials. However, US military and diplo- 
matic officials said the Communist campaign is not a 'crisis and m 
itself, is not likely to become a major threat to the government of 
President Ngo Dinh Diem. Guerrilla warfare specialists will be in- 
cluded among the 350 additional military trainee officers and men 
sent to Vietnam." 

On 5 May I96O, the day this story was released," Senator Mansfield wrote a 
letter to General Williams in Saigon quoting the press dispatch, and asking 
the General to explain: 

"I do not mind telling you that I was personally very impressed 
with that portion of your testimony which suggested to me that you 
were directing the military aid program in a fashion which was, 
wisely, aimed at working MAAG 'out of a job' and that you had about • 
reached the point where the scaling down could begin. Therefore, it 
came as something of a surprise to me to learn... that we intend to ^^ 
double the training staff of MAAG in Vietnam by adding to it 350 men. 

General Williams' reply (MAAG Saigon, telegram to OSD/ISA, MAGCH-CH69I, 
of 2OO7IIZ, May i960) informed the Senator of the MAAG- TERM merger, but went 
on to say: 

"It is my personal opinion MAAG should and can work itself 
'out of job' with possible reduction approximately 15 /^ in June 
1961 and approximately 20/o reduction yearly thereafter. Depend- 
ing of course on readings taken at subsequent dates. 

General Williams' ideas, however, were not integrated into the CIP. He left 
Saigon prior to the completion of the plan, and in any event the mounting 
intensity of the internal war precluded any further consideration of phased 
withdrawal" before I962. 

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General McGarr Replaces_Jeneranj^:lliaS£ 

■ . , , := J- +v,^ TT q Army Command and 
• A study prepared at the U.b- ^'y ^ ..., 

General Staff College, * dated 10 June I96O, noted tiiat. 

'. ■ "From a loose conglomeration of combat l=f ^^1^°^" ^^J^ 
various supporting units under French coimand in yp. 

under the aegis of, and with the ^Pf^^^^^^Je evolved into a 
. MAAG, the Eepubllc of Vietnam Armed Forces have evo±v ^ ^_^^ 

balanced defense force. This force consists 01 J ,,^ + ' tion 

7 infantry divisions (tailored to ^^''"1'"^^^^^^^-^ 

in Vietnam, rather than 'mirroring' U.S. or o;^^^^ 
and supporting ams and services, together with^small^^^^ 
appropriate naval and air forces . • • inet>c u 
have the mission of (l) maintaining Internal ^^^^^^-^^^^ ^^^^ 
(eventually to become the primary mission of ^'^^ .^^^^ 
and other civil security forces when these organi ^^^ 
reach a satisfactory state of organization, *^^?-'^^ °g ^^g 
equipment, at which time the armed forces will be 
•bacLup'^force), and (2) providing limited ^^^^^^J^^f.^^^r 
to attack from Communist North Vietnam . • • ^'' opp-iq 

/Diem7 continues to organize military units °^^^f ^ ^^^^^U^S - 
and contrary to the advice, of the U-S. MAA^. ine ^^^.^ ^^^ 
supported units are of questionable value and ten , 
best people away from U.S. -supported units. iu.b , i^ 
result in a requirement for U.S. support, not previo j^ 
programmed . " 

j--u„ ,-,v,Tr-npldv hleh command 
The same study noted as a major deficiency the unwieo-uj & 

of the IVNAF: 

"An example of complicated and duplicating ^^^™^^^^°^ 
command is where a division commander receives "^jS^a boss) 
both the corps commander (who should be his ^^^^^^ ^3 
and the region commander in whose region his aivisi - „ 

stationed. Another exaiaple is where the ^^^^t^ \aln oTthe 

• his SCE-399 Radio Net (NCS in a -^^YSdeSs't: f regLent 
presidential office) sends operational orders -uo s 
direct, bypassing the Department of National ^^^^^^^/^ J^ 
General Staff, the field commander, the corps, ana 
division. Still another example is where a chiex °^- ^ 

_Li „ ,-,i^-T+ Vi(=>"] nsr au Tins T/JJutr 
gives orders to a \mit of that arm, the unit oexn^ 

assigned to a corps." 

f The study quoted above was produced at the behest of MjJ°^ ^^J^^ 

: - Lionel C. McGarr, who was at the time the Commandant at Leavenworth, 

-^ "Study on Amy Aspects of the Military Assistance Program in 

II Vietnam (U)," 10 June i960. 

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"but prograramed to become Chief; MMG^ Vietnam^ in September I960, 
General McGarr was informed by this study^ and by his other prepara- 
tions for his new assignment^ of the increasing concern in feshington 
about the military situation in Vietnam. 

On 2k March I96O; the Chief of Staff of the Army had 
called for urgent measures to improve the count erguerrilla capabilities 
of EVME. ^ On 30 March I96O; the JCS advised CINCPAC (telegram JCS 
974802^ date cited) that: 

"The JCS agree that ant i- guerrilla capability should be 
■ developed within organization of the regular armed forces by 
changiJig emphasis in training selected elements ARVN and other 
forces from conventional to ant i- guerrilla warfare." 

On 27 April I96O; CINCPAC submitted a study on .counterinsurgency in 
South Vietnam to the JCS. On 6 June^ JCS foi^^arded this study to the 
Secretaiy of Defense^ recommending his acting to obtain U.S. Govern- 
ment support of cou_nterinsurgency operations. "^^ The initial recom- 
mendation was followed by a proposed outline plan. The Secretary 
of Defense obtained the necessary concurrence in Washington^ and on 
20 October CINCPAC and Ambassador Durbrow were directed to develop 
the detailed plan and submit it to Washington (joint State-DOD Message 
I9202OZ October I960). 

In the meantime^ Chiefs MAAG; with the assistance of 
additional U.S. Army Special Forces^ began in June a new training 
program for RWAE designed to improve its counterguerrilla capabilities. 
Alsoj in September by SM-906-6O (15 September I96O); the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff had instructed subordinate commanders to take steps to improve 
guerrilla and counterguerrilla warfare training. In early 1951; the 
Director of the Joint Staff; Lt. General Earle G. Wheeler (DJSI:'1-158"61; 
9 February I96I) circulated a paper prepared by General McGarr to 
improve that training in Vietnam. The paper^ entitled "information^ 
Guidance and Instructions to MAAG Advisory Personnel by Lt. General 
Lionel C McGarr^ November 10; I96O; " called for the training of RVNAF 
to produce the "anti-guerrilla guerrilla." General McGarr pointed 
I i out that the guerrilla derived his principal strength from conventional. 

opponents; and that he had to be defeated in his own chosen foim of 

"There is only one way he can survive — capitalize on the 
conventional concept by taking advantage of the inherent 

* ' U.S. Army; Office Chief of Militar;^- History; "United States Policy 
Toward Vietnam Since 19^5^" Chronology. 

■5«^ CINCPAC; Command Plistory for I96O; l43-lW-. 

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' '' weakness of its built-in inflexibility and the longer reaction 

time required for its conventional type action — and yes, 
even its conventional type thinking I Thinking which is too 
often geared to highly sophisticated weapons systems, complex 
logistics, stylized or rigid tactics, and vulnerable lines of 
communications. ..." 

"Thus, from the purely military point of view, the solution 
hinges on the capability of the armed forces to protect the 
very lives of the people - to include government f-unctionaries, 
from mounting communist assassination and intimidation. In the 
far-flung villages, especially those isolated from governmental 
protective power in point of time, space and force, this is 
most difficult. The guerrilla, because of mobility and a 
battle-tested plan, together with the unique situation here, 
has been able to seize the initiative by taking the military 
offensive. This is because all of the elements of national 
power have not been adequately coordinated in the past. The 
government of the armed forces are literally blind due to a 
lack of information on VC guerrilla actions and intentions. As 
indicated previously, the military particularly must have adequate, 
evaluated, collated military intelligence if it is to be able to 
best apply its present force- To the military man - especially 
the commander of a small military group defending his country 
against the VC guerrillas in the swamps or jungles - timely, 
accurate, evaluated inte2.1igence - not false rumor - spells 
the difference between success or defeat - life or death. With 
both the present military and political situation a matter for 
serious concern, it appears logical that the time has come when 
the armed forces must have the necessary force to give the 
population full and complete physical protection from the VC 
Because of various reasons - some within and some beyond the 
immediate control of the Government of Vietnam - this cannot 
be done to the required degree at present. . . . 

"J^ow, let us examine the broad objective of the MAAG in 
South Vietnam. As advisors, you must not only advise but follow 
throiaghl Therefore, you must clearly understand that proper 
advising requires an instructor-pupil relationship with explana- 
tion, illustration and close personal supervision. It is not 
enough to tell your counterparts what to do and stop there. 
Your government prohibits your accompanying troops on wartime 
operations^ but this does not lessen - only adds to - your 
advisory mission. Also, it is most important you understand that 
even as you cannot make a 'template type solution' of conventional 
concepts work on varied terrain, the same is true of solutions 
based on unconventional concepts. . . . Objective, creative-type 

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thinking is required here. Our thinking must be beamed 
towards evolving a new concept of action - a synthesis of the 
useable portions of history, the closely coordinated military 
and political concepts of our enemy, and the application of 
both conventional and unconventional warfare. AH of these 
welded together by proper application of the principles - 
which will still remain valid - must be employed in the 
operations of our hunter-killer teams of ' ant iguerr ilia 
guerrillas. ' For we must find a better way but only to 
coimter the Viet Cong guerrilla in the swamps, the canal- 
il gridded, inundated Mekong River delta, and the rugged 

mountains and jungles of both the high plateau and the 
entire land border region - but to crush himi . . . 

"... Militarily, our problem appears two-fold: First, 
reduce or eliminate VC intervention from outside. Second, 
prevent the growth and possible final complete military 
success of VC military action, while awaiting solution of the 
political 'causes'. This VC military success can happen 
11- ^ here - it is our Job to prevent it. At present, better use 

of military resources is Vietnam's only readily available 
solution - and it is at best a marginal one. 

"And finally, as a basis for your analysis, remember that 
the conventional organizations such as corps, divisions ^and 
regiments can be very adaptable to antiguerrilla operations. . 

^ "I feel we should now reemphasize the basic actions and 
recommendations already implemented by this MMG to assure a 
better RVME capability in fighting VC internal subversion by 
setting up the framework of a more responsive organization and 
command procedure. These actions included the following: 

a. MAAG recommended the transfer of the Civil Guard 
(CG) from the Department of Interior to the Department of ^ 
Defense for equipping, training and operational control with 
command vested in RVNAF. . . . 

b. MAAG recommended to the RWIAF and the GW that the 
overall RVMF command structure be modified to give clear 
lines of military control for all military type operations. . 

c. MAAG recommended a rotation plan which would 
re-establish tactical unity and integrity of units, give 
military commanders responsibility for pacification of a 
permanently assigned area, and allow for rotation within 
division or even possibly regimental size iKiits - as a 

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d. MMG recommended that the present unnecessary 
duplication of the high level personnel in Corps and 
Military Region Headquarters be eliminated or corrected. . . . 

" . . • As explained previously^ this concept envisions the 
organization and detailing of specialized ARVN units as 'anti- 
guerrilla guerrillas ' employing improved guerrilla tactics 
against the VC guerrilla. They could well dress in guerrilla 
type clothing and would take the field in their assigned areas 
within the divisional zones for a period of one to six months,, 
operating in the swamps^ mountains and jiongles as does their 
quarry - the guerrilla. These himter-killer teams must be 
strongly disciplined^ well indoctrinated^ highly motivated^ 
and imbued with the spirit of the offensive - and they must 
be offensively trained and led. They must have the will and 
determination to close with and destroy the VC 

"Our objective must be to f ind^ fix^ fight and finish the 
enemy I I^Io half measures will do. Time is our most precious 
commodity and the urgency of the situation requires that we use 
every second gainfully. This leaves no place for complacency 
on your part - or a business-as-usual attitude. MAAG cannot 
afford the luxury of an eight hour day or a five day week - 
neither can RWAF. History will not wait.". 

General McGarr's impress was on the Counterinsurgency Plan (CIP)^ 
which reached Washington in Januaiy 196l^ Just before John F. Kennedy 
took office. 

b. Content of the CIP 

The CIP consisted of a basic directive and three 
annexes dealing with RVIMF force increases^ concept of operations, and 
logistics^ respectively. It incorporated one major point of difference 
between Ambassador Durbrow and General McGe.rr -- the RVMF force 
increases (Despatch 276): 

Ambassador Durbrow : 

I maintain reservations concerning the proposal to increase 
the force level up to 20^000 additional RVNAF troops^ purely to 
meet the threat in Viet-Nam and still believe more calculated 
risks should be taken by using more of the forces in being to 
meet the nmmediate and serious guerrilla terrorist threat. 
I recognize^ however^ that additional well-trained forces in 
being in this area are probably now justified from purely U.S. 
interest point of view in order to meet growing bloc threat SEA 
* represented by Soviet airlift in laos. 

1 1 

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MMG Comments: 

The militaiy requirement for this force increase to 
accomplish the current mission had been demonstrated ^m 
MMG considered opinion as early as August I96O. ^This 
force increase was badly needed before the beginning of the^ 
Soviet airlift in Laos. The recent Viet Minh overt aggression 
against Laos merely reinforces this requirement. 

The four divisions in the Forth in I and II Corps Areas 
are committed in anti-guerrilla and static guard duty to the 
extent which not only cuts down on their ability ^to resist 
overt attack^ and thus magnifies the risk to a militarily 
unacceptable degree^ but also prohibits required training to 
adequately counter either external or internal aggression. 

But otherwise, the CIP represented agreement on what the problem was 
in Vietnam, and what steps were necessary to solve it: 


Developments in South Viet-Nara over the past year . 
indicate a trend that is adverse to the stability and 
effectiveness of President Diem's government. Beginning m 
December I959 and continuing to the present, there has been 
a mounting increase throughout South Vietnam of Viet Cong 
terrorist activities and guerrilla warfare. . • • 

Politically, discontent with the Diem Government has 
been prevalent for some time among intellectuals and elite 
circles and has been rising among the peasantry and, to some 
extent, labor and urban business groups. Criticism of tnese 
elements focuses on Ngo faiaily rule, especially the roles of 
the President's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and Madame mm and the 
influence of the clandestine Can Lao political apparatus^ of 
the regime. An even more important element in the political 
situation is the criticism of the President's leadership within 
government circles, including the official bureaucracy and the 
military. In the past, such discontent and criticism had been 
centered on Diem's brothers, l^go Dinh Nhu and ^go Dinh Can, as 
directors of the allegedly corrupt Can lao Party. 

Pirther aggravating many of the government's problems 
is the active and partly successful campaign of the Viet Cong 
to discredit President Diem and weaken the government's 
authority through political subversion, as well as through 
military action. Among other factors making this possible is 

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the void between the GVN and its people which stems from the 
failure of the GVN to communicate understandably with the 
poulation /slcj and^ in reverse^ the lack of an effective 
mechanism whereby the people can in their terms communicate 
with the GVN. Taking advantage of this lack of effective com- 
munication and the GW's inability to protect the people the 
Viet Cong has had considerable success in sowing disaffection 
and disrupting effective administration of the government among 
the population. This is especially true in the Capital^ 1st 
and 5th Military Regions, Viet Cong successes in these regions 
are due to the large number among the population who^ whether 
out of terror or sympathy^ give support to the Viet Cong. 
Aided by this situation^ the Viet Cong is striving to establish 
a political apparatus parallel to the GVW. Below province level 
in the 5th Military Region^ no effective GVN control exists in 
many areas. The Viet Cong are increasing the void by taxation^ 
terroristic acts^ attacks on Self Defense posts^ assassination 
of village and provincial officials^ and simultaneously a 
systematic development of the Viet Cong political apparatus 
to fill the void. In view of the above conditions the, principal 
task facing the GVl^F is restoration of individual security. . . . 

Military force^ in the form of increased comraiKiist 
insurgency^ is clearly the major immediate threat to the 
stability of Viet-Nam today. South Viet-Nam is unique in that 
it is the only coimtry in the world which is forced to defend 
itself against a communist internal subversion action^ while 
at the same time being subject to the militarily supportable 
threat of a conventional external attack from communist North 
Viet-Nam. The RVMF force basis is inadequate to meet both 
these threats. 

"The problem is twofold^ although at present the counter- 
insurgency phase is the more dangerous and inmiediate. In this 
counterinsurgency fight RVNAF is on the defensive. Approxi- 
mately 75fo of ARVN is committed to pacification missions^ about 
half of these being committed to static guard and security roles. 
The military chain of command has usually been violated at the 
expense of unity of effort and command. No adequate operations 
control or overall planning system presently exists^ although 
significant progress has been miade in the development of mili- 
tary plans. The President has exercised arbitrary control of 
operations^, by-passing command channels of the JGS and often 
Corps and Division staff. Resources have been fragmented to 
provincial control. The above practices appear to have been 
designed to divide responsibility in order to guard against 
the possibility of a military coup thrOLigh placing too much 
power in the hands of a single subordinate. The guerrilla 


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problem has become much more serious than the Civil Guard can 
manage, thereby requiring a disproportionately large RWAF^ 
commitment, which has further resulted in a serious weakening 
of the RVMF capability for defense against iH%e¥Hal/ external 
■ 2^ic7 or overt attack in force. Rotation within RTOAF and Civil 
Guard cannot be accomplished regularly. Many units have been 
on operations for a year or more without relief, because RVMF 
strength is insufficient to permit an adequate rotation policy 
and to conduct adequate border and coastal surveillance. Many 
troops are battle weary, in a state of low morale, and m need 
of recuperation and training. Notwithstanding the above 
deficiencies, GVM plans have recently been developed for the 
' t EVMF Command Control and Logistic structure which upon 

implementation, possibly in the near future, should correct 
major deficiencies if adequate military strength is provided. 

"The complete divorce of command control from logistics 
support in the field has resulted in a lethargic and cumbersome 
requisitioning and supply system. . . • 

"The current military intelligence capability of the RWAF 
is inadequate to support the critical intelligence requirements 
of all echelons of the armed forces .... 

The economic health of the' couJitry, though not robust, 
has been improving rapidly. lii the future, if current economic 
trends continue and the economy is not further disrupted by 
adverse security developments, the economy will be able, insofar 
as physical wealth is concerned, to provide for the^ consumption 
needs of a growing population and at the same time to finance a 
steadily increasing proportion of local military costs and could 
lander favorable conditions meet essentially all these costs. . . , 


(1) That the greatest iimediate threat to the continued 
existence of the Republic of Viet-Nam is posed by the steady 
expansion of guerrilla warfare by the Vietnamese Communists, 
with the Mekong Delta as a political and military base. 

(2) That Worth Viet-Nam has the capability of supporting 
guerrilla operations in SVN by infiltrating regular forces and 
cadres to strengthen locally recruited elements. (Guerrilla 
forces have increased from 3,500 to an ARVN estimate of 9,800 
during 19 60.) 


(3) That at the present time the Diem Government offers 
the best hope for defeating the Viet Cong threat. 


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(h) That the Government of Yiet-Nam has the basic 
potential to cope with the Viet Cong guerrilla threat if 
necessary corrective measures are taken and adequate forces 
are provided. 

(5) That the gravity of this threat will continue until 
a maximum offensive and coordinated retaliatory /si£/ efiort 

is made by civil and military authorities. 

(6) That the most vital consideration of US policy 
in Viet-Nam is to create governmental stability by the 
eradication of insurgency in the Republic of Viet-Nam and to 
that end the activities of all US agencies will be coordinated. 

(T) That the Viet Cong, in coordination with the com- 
munist parties of Laos and Cambodia, will continue to^ build up 
a maximum effort against the Republic of Viet-Kam. ^ The April 
'6l elections constitute particularly critical period. 

(8) That the DRV has a current continuing military 
capability for external aggression against SVN. 

"2. MISSION: Defeat Commimist insurgency efforts in SVN. 


a. Objectives: 

(1) GW must take immediate and extraordinary 
action to: 

(a) Suppress and defeat disruptive Coirmunist 
activities in South Viet-Nam and concurrently maintain a , 
capability to meet overt aggression. 

(b) Establish and maintain political and 
economic control and stability. 

.(c) Interdict aid flowing to insurgents across 
Vietnamese borders, to include both police and militaiy action 
in coordination with the adjacent nations of Laos and Cambodia - 

(2) Countjry Team: 

(a) Induce the GVN to adopt and vigorously 
prosecute Country Team Plans designed to defeat Communist 



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b. Tasks: 

(1) Political: 

(a) /Ambassador's reports cited above/. - - In 
addition to tasks relating to the CJW administration itself , 
further steps are required in the field of development of 
independent and quasi- independent political institutions and 
organizations^ such as labor unions^ youth movements and poli- 
tical parties. Possible steps in this field are under study by 
the Coimtry Team. 

(2) Security; 

(a) Establish an Emergency Operations Control 
System to include: 

1. A national emergency council (GVN estab- 
lished an Internal Security Coioncil T October I96O). 

2. A director of operations (Permanent 
secretary for National Defense so designated 7 October I960) 
vith responsive regional^ provincial^ district^ and village 
internal security councils. 

(b) Implement fully planning aspects of the 
national planning^ programming; and budgeting system. 

(c) Develop and employ to optimum EVEAF capa- 
bilities to support emergency and related internal security 
operations on a fully coordinated schedule. 

(d) Take extraordinary action starting at highest 
levels of government and extending to the lowest political sub- 
division (the village) to establish and maintain internal security. 

(e) Assign high priority to the development of 
intelligence/counterintelligence staff and operational procedure 
to provide not only tiinely and accurate knowledge of Viet Cong 
activities and organization within Viet-Nam^ but also provide 
information to enable the GYN to correct sociological and economic 
problems which the communists are exploiting. 

■ (f ) Develop an adequate border/coastal patrol system 

■(g) Develop an adequate communication capability 
within GVN agencies to support emergency and related internal 
security operations. 

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(h) Bnploy full use of psychological and civil 
affairs programs in support of internal security actions, 

(i) Establish concurrently means for assuring 
continued security. 

(j) Eetain the Civil Guard under the temporary 
control of the Department of Defense for the duration of the 

(k) To develop the force basis for the EVJMF 
to cope with the insurgency now threatening the GYN and to build 
capacity for resistance to external aggression. 

(3) Economic: to be forwarded in supplemental sub- 
mission to this basic plan. 

(k) Psychological: 

(a) improve communications between the Government 
of Viet-Nam and its people. 

(b) Attract the loyalty of the population to the 
GVN and to the Diem regime. 

(c) Acquaint the people with the aims and actions 
of the GTOj and persuade them that the GVN is acting in their 

(^) Counteract among the people and in the military 
sense within the RVMF VC propaganda denigrating the Diem regime 
and painting it as opposed to the reunification of North and 
South Viet -Nam. 

(e) Poster a spirit of national unity and purpose 
among all elements of the Vietnamese society. 

(f) Strengrthen the people's confidence in and 
respect for the IWNAP as a security force vis-a-vis the VC. 

(g) Raise South Viet-Nam's prestige among the 
peoples of other countries especially in Asia and Africa as a 
means of enhancing the GVN's national security and stability. 

c. Concept of Operations: 
(l) General: 

(a) Political Operations. Refer to anbassy ^_ 
munications listed in political section under "Tasks" above. 


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(b) Politico/Military Operations. In order to 
provide protection which the people require^ it is necessary 
to exercise more than an ordinary degree of control over the 
population. Among the more important operations required are 
those for exercising control in such manner as to isolate insur- 
gents and sympathizers from the support of the populace. Such 
techniques as registration and identification^ food control and 
control of movement will be implemented as appropriate. 

(c) Military Operations: 

1. There are immediate actions^ civil and 
■ military^ which the GW can and must take to halt or slow down 
the current and extremely serious adverse security trend until 
such time as the necessary increased offensive capability can 
be brought to bear. These actions include^ of course^ extra- 
ordinary action by the GVN to: 

' a. Further develop a national emergency 

operations control system. 

b. jjnplement the National Planning System. 

£. Implement the plan for a national intel- 
ligence organization and system with particular emphasis on 
obtaining information at the village level^ and integrating 
effort at the national level. 

d. Fully employ military capabilities 
to include strengthening and reorganizing military command and 
control channels. 

_e. Establish a border/coastal surveillance 

f . Improve the civil and military 
communications system. 

g. Reduce attrition rate of armed forces 
and utilize the trained manpower pool." 

In the field of political tasks to achieve its stated 
objectives, the CIP cited the Siibassy and other Department reports 
relating to the demarche by Durbrow and the later discussions in 
December. A covering cable presented a discussion by Ambassador 
Durbrow of the CoLintry Team proposals^ presenting these in three 

1 1 

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(l) Measures that Diem had_, in fact^ requested^ 
t ^ and that required U.S. action^ principally the proposed 20,000-inan 

■increase in ARW. 

jj (2) Measures which the GW currently had "under 

study or which would shortly be presented to the GVN^ but on which 
foot-dragging and some resistance could be expected; such as implementa- 
tion^of a firm military chain of command (in particular, willingness 
by Diem to cease by-passing his military staff and commanders in dealing 
with province chiefs and subordinate commanders); establishment of a 
military operational command for counterinsurgency operations; and 
development of a national plan for counterinsurgency. 

(3) Recommendations "considered by the Country 
Team to be indispensable and in the GVN's own best interests/' but 
which would "probably not be particularly palatable to the GVN"; 
this situation pertained particularly to certain political actions and 
concepts of the military-civilian relationship. (For example, 
strengthening the role of the National Assembly, and including respected 
oppositionists in the Cabinet.) 

The disagreement between the Ambassador and Chief, MAAG, evident in 
the^CJP, reflected the divergences that were to persist among U.S. 
decision-makers through I961. Durbrow's position, reflected in later, 
similar dispatches to the State Department, and to the President himself, 
was that the unpalatable political measures aimed at "liberalizing" 
the regime were essential to the achievement of U.S. (and GVN) goals in 
Vietnam. Therefore, in the face of resistance to such measures by Diem" 
it was necessary to assert some leverage to win his acceptance; and 
the most ^ expedient means of leverage would be to postpone or threaten 
withholding of those measures of support that Diem actually wanted, 
until Diem should have complied with our aims in the political area. 
In the case of the program represented by the CIP, this could only 
mean withholding approval of part or all of the funding for the 20,000 
man force level increase that Diem (backed by MAAG) had requested. 
Earlier, Durbrow may have turned to this tactic because of a suspicion 
that the 20,000-man increase was not really essential. By January 
1961, he was evidently prepared to agree on the need for additional 
troops (referring to the increasing threat posed by the Soviet airlift 
in Laos), but he still pointed to the tactical requirement that some- 
how Diem had to be induced to take unpalatable political actions. 
These ^ questions are an integral part of the overall plan and are 
essential to its successful accomplishment. Consideration should, 
therefore, be given to what actions we are prepared to take to encourage 
or, if necessary to force, acceptance of all essential elements of the 
plan . " 

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'■^ ■ A considerable part of the rationale within the CIP 

- including one long annex - was devoted to justifying the enlarged 
force level for WMF, emphasizing that action ^^^^ J'^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^o 
iiaplement the increase as quickly as possible, ^^^^^ foreseen . 
years would be required to fill the new units, n^ ^^ r,,v.,-^-h wnq 
that those who saw the Viet Cong threat as most ^"^J^"^ ^^^^^ ^^^ 
the basic tone of the CIP, and subsequently of the ^^^^' . 

regarded military measures against this threat as most urg , ^^^ ^^^_ 
including measures that would require increased acceptan 
tion by Diem, would be impatient with "pressure tactics ™^ . ^ 

involved delays on "vital" military -^^^^ f^^.^ef ferSl^Sror 
concessions frcm Diem in political areas that seeint^u. ^ r 
trivial in the context of the coinm-ajiist insurgency. 

A factor tipping the -ales toward what -jf *^^=^^,^„,^ 

called the Mem/MMG/DOD priorities m each instance Vietnam 
and increasing, need to "reassure" Diem of U.S. suppo ^ ^^^ ^^^^ 
and for him personally, in the light of events ^^^'^/^^^^-Lggs contro- 
assurance (and hence, Diem's willingness to cooperate^^^^^ _^ ^^^ 
versial measures) such as, in Diem's eyes, U.b. ^ political 

abortive November I96O coup, U.S. pressures via uuiuxu ^^^^ ^^^^ 
refonns, and, above all, U.S. policy with respect ^°Jf ^'^^^^^ 
to reassure Diem was at cross purposes with the use ^y^J'-t-r a 
tactics to influence him and, in part, conflicted '^^^'^?^I^I.'%^q a ' 
desire to have Diem adopt moves (such as ^^1^?^^^^^/^^ l^i^ cabinet) 
single military commander, or include oppositioni ^^^ rtxle. 
that he regarded as directly threatening continuation - • . 

c. Presidential Action on the C W 

Ten aays after President Ke^ec^'^i-uf^^g-i,- 

30 January I961, a memo from the President to %ne o^^ etins on 
and Secretary of Defense noted that as a result of a me b 
28 January he had authorized: 

"... an increase of e^ff ^^^ f^.^^^^^^f SSa': In 

expand the Viet-Wam force level by 20,000, ana an o„qiitv 
expendit^are of $12.7 million for a program to improve the quality 

of the Viet-Kam civil guard." * 

, ^^ +y,p increases recommended 
These figures represented the dollar costs oi tne ini,x 

in the C3P. In passing on this authorization f^°^.*f /^^'^^^^* '"'' 
Joint State-Defense- ICA message, the Department pointea ou . 

. The author, Benjamin Bock, of the State Department Study: ^^ 
American Policy and Di^_omacy goncernongj^^gg^^gg^ Vietnamese 
Project #630, January I965, notes that Chalmers V. w°°^^^ President 
desk officer in the I961 period, had told him m Jime 1963 that President 
Kennedy had personally approved the Counterinsurgency P±an. 

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^,rn-/ioc P-xnect GVW absorb local 
" . . .U.S. would as Plan provides expect +l'i^+^ fiir^her 

currency costs these increases and does not ^°f ^^^^^^/^^^^ 
US-? dollar grants to generate additional local currency ior 
thl^ purpose!" (Joint State-Defense-ICA Message, Deptel 105^ 
to Saigon, 3 February 1961, p* l) 

The Department suggested that the Ambassador and the ^^^^^^^^ ' 
prepare an abridged version of the plan to present to 


"... iMaediate purpose Plan is to enable f^Jf^^ 
insurgency, but Plan also envisages that ^W "lUst move on 
political front towards liberalization to retain ^^^^^ssary 
popular cooperation; that various economic ^:^J^^^^^ontier 
and that there be adequate cooperation with mh 
control. It considered US view that success require 
implementation entire plan." 

«... Future funding will require Congressional approval. 

Views Congress likely be influenced by ^^e^^l^Pr^^^J^.^t^ i^rge 
. as well af security situation. FY 6l component represents large 

increase in US support Viet-Nam." If GW ''^^^l''%l\l''lZJ 
obligations involved in its implementation, the Ub ^^ 
give full and immediate support in carrying i. out. 
( ibid ., pp. 1-2) 

In a passage suggesting some naivete on the part o tions in 
as to actual working procedures and the rhythm of negotia 
Saigon, the Department suggested: 

"... proposing to Diem that members US Missions ready 

1 ^,-,+ arr-r'ppd version ir'xan 
confer with GTO opposite numbers work out agret^u. 

within, say two week time limit ..." (I^-^ P* '' 

The guidance concluded: 

"If Ambassador considers GW does not provide ^^^^^^^^J 

he should infom Washin^on ^i^^,,^^??™^ ^ ?^ 
aude suspension US contribution. ^IDia., p. dj 


which may include susp' 

On 2 February I96I, Walt W. Rostow ^^owed^the^new 
President the memorandum on Vietnam written by General Lano 
(reproduced above). The President read it in Rostow s presence, 
Ld said, "This is the worst yet . . . ^ou know Ike ---^^^f^^,,,,, 

me about Vietnam ..." It has been l?^°f}f^J''^l,fTnd\as ushered 
Lansdale was sijmmoned unexpectedly to the Vlhxze n^u^^y nn^^r^nil 

into a meeting of principle Cabinet and National Security uouncxj. . 

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members. At this meeting, the President discussed Lansdale's report^ 
and apparently indicated that lansdale would be sent to Vietnam m 
"a high capacity." If the appointment of Lansdale to replace ^mrb row 
was under active consideration, there is no record so indicating . 
In March, Frederick E. Nolting was appointed to replace i\mbassador 
Durbrow, (Schlesinger, A Thousand Days , 0£^_cit., 320; Shaplen, 
"The Lost Revolution," op. cit . 148-1497 

d. Implementing the GIF 

In the meantme, the Ambassador and the Chief, MAAG, 
carried out their instructions from Washington, obtaining an interview 
with Diem and Thuan, Secretary of State for the Presidency, on 
February 13, I96I. Both Diem and Thuan expressed concern as "^^ ^°J:J 
they could finance the local currency costs for the additional ^20, 000 
men. The Ambassador expressed his firm conviction that by taking 
"extraordinary measures" the Vietnamese government could raise suf- 
ficient piasters. When Thuan asked what the U.S. position would be if 
the Vietnamese could not see their way to finance the plan as^a 
whole, the Ambassador replied that the plan was a "comprehensive ^^ 
document" and therefore all facets should "basically be carried out. 
The Ambassador reported that he was "not very sanguine that an agreed 
plan could be worked out by the end of February. (From Saigon Deptel 
1367, 13 February I96I, summarized in State Department Research 
Project No. 63O, op. cit ., p. I5) 

A month later. Ambassador Durbrow discussed the 
status of GVN acceptance of the GIF with Thuan. On the political 

"... He repeated question of bringing opposition members 
into cabinet would depend on whether such persons would agree 
with government policy. I replied I felt certain GVN would 
find loyal oppositionists who would be in basic agreement with 
policy and therefore urged this step be taken. Thuan expressed 
skepticism. He repeated legislative investigation of executive 
only practiced in US, therefore GVN would not accept this 
suggestion. . . ." (Saigon 1^54 to SecState, 11 March I96I, p. 1) 

On March I6, Durbrow raised the subject of the GIP 
with Diem; by this time it was clear that agreement was being reached 
on the main military GIF suggestions to a degree "which MAAG considers 
it can live with provided GVN follows through with proper implementa- 
tion," but the GVN position on other "fundamental" (in mrbrow's eyes) 
CIP suggestions — i.e., in the political sphere — was not yet clear. 
(Saigon Deptel l466, to SecState, I6 March I96I) Durbrow enumerated 
these remaining questions: 

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"(l) We believe it important to attain fiorther national 
unity that Diem make reasonable offer take one or two non-commie 
oppositionists into cabinet. 

(2) I stated we still receiving allegations and irimors 
about Can Lao Party secret activities which^ whether true or 
^ not^ are harmful to GVN- I again urged that party come out 

In open or dissolve itself and suggested might be worthwhile 
pass law or issue decree stating against law have any secret 
parties Viet-Nam^ pointing out this woiild help give legal basis 
act against various secret parties even covert communist -front 

'Diem interrupted me at this point to describe what he 
called favorable evolution among non-communist oppositionists 
which now taking place* He stated many of those who took part 

I in coup see errors their ways and now realize if they had won 

they would have only assisted communist take-over. According 

^ Diem most oppositionists^, whether those arrested because of coup 

or others^ now in process changing their attitude and realize 

' it in national interests they try to work more closely with GVN. 

; For this reason too soon to make offer cabinet posts to 

oppositionists but^ without making firm promise^ he stated that 

if some non-commies could agree basic policy GW he might take them 

[ (' into government after election. 


He did not directly reply to my Can Lao suggestion but 
stated that more and more oppositionists and public in general 
coming to realize allegations and rumors re party are not true. 
I interjected these developments all more reason why Can Lao 
Party should come into open or dissolve and why he should 
seriously make reasonable offers non-communists enter govt. 
Diem made no promises." (Saigon Deptel 1^66 to SecState^ 
16 March 1961, Section 1 of 2, p. 2) 

In connection with the proposed Central Intelligence " 
organization^ Diem stated he had finally chosen an officer to run 
this; on the issue of better relations with the Cambodian CJovernment^ 
to the end of working out border control arrangement s_, Diem was^ as 
always^ very negative on the possibilities. Raising once more the 
issue of dealings with the peasants in connection with agroviUes: 

-L again urged he make modest payments to peasants called 
upon furnish labor^ particularly those for instance who work 
on agrovilles but would not live there and would thus get no 
benefit from their labor. Diem replied peasants everywhere 
except those in Cochin-China area gladly contributed to 


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community development. He added if he tried to tax them 
it would cause more disgruntlement . He argued even those 
who did not get into agrovilles received considerable benefits 
from establishment nearby markets, schools, hospitals and 
maternity wards. I stated that while this undoubtedly true, 
corvee labor was one of principal things used by communxsts 
to cause disgruntlement Delta." ( ibid .. Section 2 of 2, 
PP- 2-3) 

The Ambassador concluded with the following: 

"Comments, : Diem was most affable, exuded confidence and 

for first time expressed some gratitude our CIP efforts which 

he promised implement as best he could. Again before giving full 

green light believe we should await outcome detail discussion 
by GW-US officials. In meantime MAAG quietly ordering some 

equipment for 20,000 increase (Embtel lUij-)." (Ibid.., Section 
2 of 2, p. 1^) 

With the approval of the Counter insurgency Plan 
for Vietnam and with the appointment of Ambassador Woltmg, "che 
Kennedy Administration launched its efforts to stem the Viet Cong . 
tide in South Vietnam., 

r , 



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