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Full text of "Pentagon Papers"

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IV.B Evolution of the War (26 Vols.) 
Counterinsurgency: The Kennedy Commitments, 1961 

1963(5 Vols.) 
2. Strategic Hamlet Program, 1961-63 



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^VIETNAM TASK FORCE 

OF THE SECRETARY OF 



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IV. B. 2. 



EVOLUTio:; of t:he wae 



strategic liamlet Program 



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1961 - 1953 



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IV.B-2. 



STPu/lTEGIC HAl-'iLST PROGRM 



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1961 - 1963 



SUZ#mRY AIHD MALYSIS 



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A specific strategy by vhich the U.S. and (mi wiold attempt to end 
the insurgency in Soitth Vietnam had never been agreed upon at the time 
that the U.S. decided, late in 196lj to increase materially its assist- 
ance to GW and to expand its advisory effort into one >7hich would 
implement a "limited partnership." By early 1962, however, there v^as 
apparent consensus among the principal participants that the Strategic 
Hamlet Program, as it came to be called, represented the unifying concept 
for a strategy designed to pacify rubral Vietnam (the Viet Cong's chosen 
battleground) and to develop support among the peasants for the central 
government. 

The Strategic Hamlet Program v?as m.uch broader tha^ the construction 
of strategic hamlets per s_e. It envisioned sequential phases which, 
beginj-iing with clearing "the insurgents from an area and protecting the 
rural populace, progressed tlirough the establishment of QW infrastructure 
and thence to the provision of services which would lead the peasants to 
identify with their government. The strategic hamlet program was, in 
short, an attempt to translate the newly articulated theory of counter- 
insuj^gency into operational reality. The objective was political though 
the means to its realization were a mixture of military, social, psycho- 
logical, economic and political m.easiu^es. 

The effect of these sequential steps to pacification was to make it 
very difficult to mek.e intermediate assessments of progress. One could 
not really be suj:^e how one was doing until one was done. Physical 
security by itself (the so-called "clear and hold" initial step) was a 
necessary condition for pacification, not a sufficient one. The establish- 
ment of governmental functions was not, by itself, necessarily conducive 
to a successful effort; the quality of those functions and their respon- 
siveness to locally felt needs was critical. This inherent difficulty in 
assessing progress did not simply mean that it was difficult to identify 
problems and to make improvements as one v^ent along -- which it was. It 
also meant that it v^as quite possible to conclude that the program as a 
whole was progressing well (or badly) according to evidence relating only 
to a single phase or a part of a phase. 

A related problem arose from the uniqueness of this program in 
American experience -- pacification by proxy. The theory of sequential 



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phases could be variously interpreted. This is not the problem of the 
three blind men describing the elephant; it is the problem of men with 
different perspectives each moulding his own conception of a proper 
body to the same skeleton. If the final product vere to have some sem- 
blance of coherence and mutual satisfaction it was necessary that the 
shapers came to agreement on substance and operational proced'or-e^ not 
Just that they agree on the proper skeleton upon which to work. 

The problem vrith the apparent consensus which emerged early in I962 
was that the principal participants did view it with different perspec- 
tives and expectations. On the U.S. side, military advisors had a set 
of preferences which affected their approach to the Strategic Hsinlet ■ 
Program. They wanted to make RVDTAF more mobile, more aggressive, and 
better organized to take the offensive against the Viet Cong. They vrere, 
consequently, extremely leery of proposals which might lead it to be tied 
dovm in strategic defenses ("holding'^ after "clearing" had been completed) 
or diverted too much to military civic action iindertakings. 

The i\merican political leadership, insofar as a generalization may 
be attempted, may be said to have been most concerned with the later 
phases of the progrsim -- those in which GVIT services were provided, 
local governments established, and the economy bolstered. Military 
clearing operations were, to them, a distasteful, expensive, but neces-^- 
sary precondition to the really critical and important phases of the 
effort. 

Both of these U.S. -groups had perspectives different from those of 
the Diem administration. In the U.S. view the insurgents were only one 
of Diem's enemies; he himself was the other. In this view the process of 
pacification could proceed successfully only if Diem reformed his own 
government. It was precisely to achie/e these, goals simultaneously that 
the U.S. agreed to enter a ''limited partnership" with GVi: in the counter- 
insurgent effort. The Strategic Hamlet Program became the operational 
symbol of this effort. 

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President Diem --^ unsurprisingly -- had a very different view. His 
need, as he saw it, w^as to get the U.S. coimnitted to South Vietnam (and 
to his administration) without surrendering his independence. He knew 
that his nation would fall without U.S. support; he feared that his 
goA^erimient would fall if he either appeared' to toady to U.S. wishes or 
allowed any single group too much potential pov/er -" particularly coer- 
cive power. The Strategic Haralet Program offered a vehicle by which he 
could direct the counterinsurgent effort as he thought it should be 
directed and without giving up either his prerogatives to the U. S or his 
mantle to his restless generals. 

The program, in tlie form of a plan for pacification of the Delta, 
was foz=mally proposed to Diem in November I96I by R. G. K. Thompson, 
head of the newly arrived British Advisory Mission. U.S. military 



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advisors favored at that time an /JIVJ^I penetration of the VC redoubt in 
War Zone D prior to any operations aimed specifically at pacification. 
But UcS. political desires to start some local operation which could 
achieve concrete gains combined V7ith Diem's preference for a pacifica- 
tion effort in an area of strategic iraportance led to the initial effort 
in March I962, "Operstion STjllRISE," in Binh Duong Province north of 
Saigon. This was a heavily VC-infiltrated area rather than one of 
minimal penetration^ as Thompson had urged. But planning — as distinct 
from operations — continued on the Delta plan and strategic hamlets were 
constructed in a variegated, uncoordinated pattern throughout the spring r 
and early summer. The U.S. had little or no influence over these activi- 
ties; the primary impetus was traceable directly to the President's 
brother and political counsellor, I.go Dinh I\hu. 

In August 1962, GW produced its long awaited national pacification 
plan with four priority areas and specified priorities within each area. 
At the same time, however, it indicated that over 2,500 strategic hamlets 
had already been completed and that work was already under^^/ay on more 
than 2,500 more. Although it was not ujitil October I962, that GW-i 
explicitly announced the Strategic Plamlet Program to be the unifying 
concept of its pacification and counterinsurgent effort it was clear 
earlier that the program had assumed this central position. 

Three important implications of this early progress (or, more pre- 
cisely, reported progress) are also clear in retrospect. These impli- 
cations seem not to have impressed themselves acutely upon U.S. observers 
at the time. Eirst, the program was truly one of GVII initiative rather 
than one embodying priorities and time phasing recommended by the U.S. 
Diem was running v/lth his own ball in programmatic terms, no matter who 
articulated the theory of the approach. The geographic dispersion of 
hamlets already reported to be completed indicated that there was, in 
fact, a conscious effort to implement this phase almost simultaneously 
throughout the entire nation rather than to build slowly as Diem's 
foreign advisors (both U.S. and British) recommended. 

Finally, the physical aspects of Diem's program were similar if not 
identical to earlier population resettlement and control efforts prac- 
ticed by the French and by Diem. The long history of these efforts was 
marked by consistency in results as well as in techniques: all failed 
dismally because they ran into resentment if not active resistance on 
the part of the peasants at wiiose control and safety, then loyalty, they 
were aimed. U.S. desires to begin an effective process of pacification 
had fastened onto security as a necessary precondition and slighted the 
historic record of rural resistance to resettlement. President Diem and 
his brother, for their part, had decided to emphasize control of the 
rural population as the precondition to winning loyalty. The record is 
inconclusive with respect to their v;eighing the record of the past but 
it appears that they, too, paid it scant attention. Thus the early 
operational efforts indicated a danger of peasant resistance, on one hand, 



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and of divergent approaches betv:een, in the initial steps , the U.S. 
(focused on security measures) and Diem (concerned more vith control 
measures) . Since the physical actions to achieve security and those 
to impose control are in many respects the same, there vas generated 
yet another area in which assessments of progress would be inconclusive 
and difficult to majie. 

U.S. attention, once an apparent consensus had been forged con- 
centrated on program management efforts in two categories: to convince 

CtVj^T to proceed at a more measured^ coherent pace with a qualitative ' j 
improvement in the physical construction of strategic hamlets; and to 
schedule material assistance (fortification materials, etc.) and train- 
ing for local defense forces to match the rate of desired hamlet con- 
struction. 

U.S. assessments, at the same time, concentrated on the physical 
aspects of the program and on VC activity in areas where strategic 
hajnlets had been constructed. Assessments tended to be favorable from 
a security (or control) viewpoint and uneven with respect to political 
development. The general conclusion was aMost always one of cautious 
optimism when security (control) was emphasized, one of hopeful pessi- 
mism v/hen political follow-up was stressed. The impression in Washing- 
ton was typically slanted toward the more optimistic appraisals if for 
no other reason than that hamlet constr'uction and seciirity arrangements 
were the first chronological steps in the long process to pacification. 
Was it not, after all, "progress" to have moved from doing nothing to 
doing something even though the something was being done imperfectly? 

These U.S. assessments changed only marginally throughout the life 
of the progra:n. By the time, j.n 1963, that the hopeful pessinrist voices 
were clearer, it was also much clearer that the Ngo brothers had made 
the Strategic Hamlet Program into one closely identified with their 
regime and with Diem's rather esoterically phrased "personalist revolu- ! 

tion." Fears grew that Diem was attempting to impose loyalty from the j 

top through control rather than to build it from the bottom by deeds. 
These fears were not limited to the Strategic Hamlet Program, however; 
they extended to urban as well as rtiral phases of South Vietnamese life 
and were subsumed, as the Buddhist question moved to the fore, by the I 

general issue of the viability of Diem's regime. 

President Diem grew increasingly unwilling to meet U.S. demands for 
reform. He believed that to do so would cause his government to fail. 
U.S. observers held that failure to do so would cause the nation, not 
just the goverrmient to fall. In the event the government fell and the 
nation* s counterinsurgent program took a definite turn for the worse, 
but the nation did not fall. The Strategic Hamlet Program did. Closely 
identified witli the Ngo brothers, it was almost bound to suffer their 
fortunes; when they died it died, too. The new government of generals, 
presumably realizing the extent of peasant displeasure with resettlement 
and control measur^es, did nothing to save it. 



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A number of contribixtory reasons can be cited for the failure of the 
Strategic Hamlet Prograia. Over-expansion of construction and poor 
, quality of defenses forins one category. This reason concentrates only 
on the initial phase of the progrmn, ho^^ever. While valid, it does little 
to explain vhy the entire program collapsed rather than only some hamlets 
vrithin it. Rural antagonisms "vrhich identified the program with its 
sponsors in the central government are more suggestive of the basis for 
the complete collapse as Diem and Khu departed the scene. The reasons 
why they departed are traceable in part to the different expectations 
which combined in the apparent consensus at the program^s beginning: ^ to ^ 
Diem's insistence on material assistance and independence, to U.S. vrilling- 
ness to provide assistance only if its advice was heeded, and to the 
failure to resolve this question either by persuasion or leverage. 

Having said this, it does not automatically follow that the prograin 
would have succeeded even if Diem had met U.S. demands for change. To 
point to the causes of failure is one thing; to assume that changes of 
style would have led to success is culte another. It may well be that 
the program was doomed from the outset because of peasant resistance to 
measures which changed the pattern of rural life "- whether aimed at 
sectirity or control. It might have been possible, on the other hand, for 
a well-executed program eventually to have achieved some me^-sure of success. 
The early demise of the program does not permit a conclusive evaluation. 
■The weight of evidence suggests that the Strategic Hamlet Prograia was 
fatally flawed in its conception by the unintended consequence of alienat- 
— ■ ing many of those whose loyalty it aimed to V7in. 

^ This inconclusive finding, in turn, suggests that the sequential 

phases embodied in the doctrine of counterinsurgency may slight some 
very important problem areas. The evidence is not sufficient for an 
indictment; still less is one able to validate the coujiterinsvnrgent doc- 
trine with reference to a prograiii that failed. The only verdxct that 
may be given at this time with respect to the mlidity of the doctrine is 
ji that used l^y Scots coiu:ts --■ "case not proved;*' 



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IV»B.2. 



CPIEC::OLOGY 



DAT] 



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1953-1959 



1959 

Late i960 
Early I96I 



May 1951 
July 1961 



15 September 1961 



18 October I96I 



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27 October I96I 



3 I\[oveinber I96I 



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13 P'Ovember I90I 



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15 November I96I 



22 November I961 
15 December I96I 

2 February I962 

3 February 1962 



OCClTFPvEiTCE 

French and GVl'" early attanpts at population resettle- 
ment into defended communities to create secure zones. 

Rural Community Development Centers (Agroville) Pro- 
grajii initiated by GWT. 

USI^iAAG Counterinsiirgen cy Plan Vietnam completed, 

Agroville ProgTam modified by construction of "Agro- 
Hamlets" to meet peasant objections. 

Vice President Johnson's visit to RVI^I. 

Staley Group report on increased economic aid and 
increase in RICTAF strength. 

USMA^G Geographically Phased Rational Level Operation 
Plan for Couxiterinsurgency . 

■ 

General Taylor arrives in RVI\"; President Diem declares 
national emergency. 

R.G.K. Thompson submits to President Diem his 
Appreciation of Vietnam^ November 196 1-April I962 . 

General Taylor siibmits his report and reconmiendations 
to President Kennedy. 

RcG.K. Thompson submits his draft plan for pacification 
of the Delta to President Diem. 

NSC drafts FS/:i 111. Cable to i^jnbassador Nolting^ 
instructing him to meet vith Diem^ lays out proposed 
U.S. assistance and expected GVN effoi't. 

NSA.M 111, 

First Secretary of Defense Confer ence^ Honolulu. 

Roger Hilsman's A Strategic Concept for South Vietnaia. 

Diem creates Inter-Ministerial Committee on Strategic 
Hamlets. 




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19 March 19&2 



22 March 19&2 
8 August 1962 
28 October I962 



8 May 1962 



2h August 1963 



iO September 1963 



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2 October I963 



1 November 1963 



OCCURRENCE 

Diem approves Thompson's "Delta Plan'' for execution. 

"Operetion SUrlRISE" commences in Binh Duong Province. 

GVi^l LTational Strategic Ksjiilet Construction Plan. 

GViv devotes entire issue of The Times of V ietnejn to 
"The Year of the Strategic Hamlet 7' 

Buddhist controversy erupts "vxhen GW/ troops fire on 
demonstrators in Hue. 

State to Lodge^ Message 2^135 says that U.S. can no 
longer tolerate LIhu's continuation in povfer. 

General TCrulak and Mr. Mendenhall give contradictory 
reports on progress of var to I\SC. 

Secretary McEajnara reports to President Kennedy follow- 
ing his visit to RVI-] with General Taylor. 

Coup d^etat "by group of generals against Pi-esident Diem. 



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THE STRATEGIC HAJVILET PROGRA M 

1961 - 1963 



TABLE OF COIMTEIITS AND OUTLINE 



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INTRODUCTION 



A. Scope and Terminology 



B. Antecedents 



C. The Situation in Late I961 



II. THE FORMUT.ATION OF TIffi STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM. 



A. U.S.-GW Consultations 



B. "Limited Partnership". 



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G. U.S. -Proposed National Plans 



D. Initial Vietnai'aese Reactions 



Eo Thompson's Counterproposals 



III. ■ DE\/ELOPING A CONSEISUS AMONG THE ADVISORS 



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A. Initial Reaction of UoS. Military Advisors 



B. Reactions in Washington 



C. The Advisors Reach Agreement 



IV. . THE ABVISORS "SELL" DIM (OR VICE^VERSA) 



A. Where to Begin? 



B. Concurrent GVN Activity 



C. Early Signs of GVN Expectations 



V. DIEFERING PERSPECTIVES AM) EXPECTATIONS 



A. U.S. Military Advisors 



B. UoS, Political Leadership,. 



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C. President Diem c . . . ^ 

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D. The CentraH. Issue. 



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E . The Problem of Asse ssment .,....»....«*•«••• • • • C 



VI. THE mTION-AL PLAE" E^/[ERGES 



A. Awareness of the Unifying Potential 



B. "Operation Sunrise" 



C. Other Early Programs 

D. At Last -- A National Plar 



E. Effect on U.S. Perceptions 



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VIII. M IICOWCLUSIVE SUMMABT. 

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F. Differences Begin to Ernerge , „ » . « . . 

VII . THE PATH TO THE MTD • 35 

» . . » .. » ^...— »■ . ■!» . t ■■-^ . .. .,..^~.r~- 

A. Diem's Position Hardens, .,....».•«•» "^"^ 

B. The Program Dies With the Ugos * • • * ^^ 

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IV. B. 2. 



THE STRATEGIC IIAJ'^ILET PROGRAM, I96I-I963: ( 

AN APPRAISAL 



I. IKTTROPUCTION 



A. Scope and Terrainolo g/- 



The Strategic Hamlet Prograra in the Republic of Vietnara (RW) -- 
articulated and carried forward from late I96I until late I963 -- has cre- 
ated some confusion because of terminology. One source of confusion stems 
from the similarity betvreen the physical aspects of the program and earlier 
fortified communities of one kind or another. Another source of confusion 
rises because of the loose usage of "ham-let" as compared to "village" and 
because of the practice of referring to these communities as "defended/' 
"secure/' and fortified" as well as "strategic." But the greatest source 
of confusion lies in the distinction between a strategic haraJ-et £er se 
and the strategic hamlet program . 

The ha7-Q_let is the smallest organized community in rural South Viet- 
nam. Several hamlets (typically 3-5) comprise a village. During the stra- 
tegic hamlet program both ham.lets and villages were fortified. The distinc- 
tion is unimportant for the present analysis 5 except as it bears on the 
defensibility of the community protected. The several adjectives coupled 
with hamlet or village were occasional3_y used to differentiate communities 
according to the extent of their defenses or the initial presumed loyalty 
of their inhabitants. More often no such distinction was m,ade; the terms 
were used interchangeably. Where a distinction exists^ the following ac- 
count explains it. 

The phrase Strategic Ham_let Program when used to represent the pro- 
gram is much broader than the phrase applied to the hamlets themselves. 
The program^ as explained below^ envisioned a process of pacification of 
which the construction of strategic hamlets was but part of one phase , al- 
beit a YQTj important part. This paper exajnines the program, not just 
the hamlets . 

B. Antecedents , . 

Population relocation into defended villages was by no means a 
recent development in Southeast Asia. Parts of South Vietnam had experi- 
ence with the physical aspects of fortified communities going back many 



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years. As the intellectual godfather of the Strategic Hamlet Program has 
put it, the concept's use as one of the measures to defeat conmiunist insur- 
gency "...has only meant that the lessons of the past had to be relearn-^," 1/ 

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- The administration of President Diem had relearned these lessons 
much earlier than late I96I. There was, in fact, no need to relearn them 
because they had never been forgotten. The French had made resettlement 
and the development of "secure zones" an important element in their effort 
near the end of the war with the Viet Minh. The government of newly-created 
South Vietnam, headed since 19^k by President Diem, had continued resettle- 
ment schemes to accommodate displaced persons, to control suspected rural 
populations, and to safeguard loyal peasants in the threatened areas. 
None of these efforts involving resettlement had succeeded. Each had in- 
spired 8.nta.gonism among the peasants who were moved from their ancestral 
lands and 8.way from family burial plots . 

Diem*s actions in late I96I were thus inescapably tied to earlier 
actions by proximity in time, place, and the personal experiences of many 
peasants. Chief among the earlier programs W3.s that of the so-Gs.lled 
Agrovilles or "Rural Community Development Centers," launched in 1959- 
The Agrovilles, groupments of 3OO-5OO fa.milies, were designed to afford the 
peasantry the social benefits of city life (schools and services), to in- 
crease their physical security, and to control certain key locations ^by 
denying them to the comraunists. 2/ They were designed to improve simultane- 
ously the security and well-being of their inhabitants and the government's 
control over the rual population and rural areas . 

The Agroville program was generally unsuccessful. The peasants ^ 
had many com.plaints about it ranging from clum.sy, dishonest administration 
to the physical hardship of being too far from their fields and the psy- ■ 
chological wrench of being separated from ancestral hom^es and burial plots. 3/ 
By i960, President Diem had slowed the program in response to peasant com- 
plaints and the Viet Cong's ability to exploit this dissatisfaction, k/ 

The transition from Agrovilles to strategic hamlets in I96I was 
marked by the so-called "Agro-hamlet" which attempted to meet some of the 
peasants ' ob j ections : 

The smaller 100 family Agro-hamlet was located more 
closely to lands tilled by the occupants. Construction was 
carried out at a slower pace filled to the peasant's plant- 
ing and harvesting schedule .. .By the end of 196I, the Agro- 
hamlet had become the prototype of a vast civil defense 
scheme known as strategic hamlets, A^ Chien Luoc . ^ 

It was inevitable, given this lineage, that the strategic haml.et program 
be regarded by the peasants as old wine in nev/ly- labelled bottles. The 
successes and failuj^es of the past were bound to condition its acceptance -- 
and by late I96I the Diem governm.ent was having m^ore failures than successes. 



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C. The Situation in Late 1961 



By late I96I5 if not earlier, it had become clear in both Siagon 
and Washington that the yellow star of the Viet Cong was in the ascendancy. 
Following the I96O North Vietnamese announcement of the twin goals of oust- 
ing President Diem and reunifying Vietnam under communist rule^, the Viet 
Cong began sharply to increase its guerrilla, subversive, and political 
warfare. 6/ Viet Cong regular forces, now estim.ated to have grown to 
25,000, had been organized into larger formations and employed with increas- 
ing frequency. The terrorist-guerrilla organization had grown to an esti- 
mated 17,000 by November I96I. 7/ During the first half of I96I, terror- 
ists and guerrillas had assassinated over 5OO local officials and civilians, 
kidnapped more than 1,000, and killed almost 1,500 RVNAF personnel. 8/ 
The VC continued to hold the initiative in the countryside, controlling 
major portions of the populace and drawing an increasingly tight cinch 
aroimd Saigon. 9/ The operative question was not whether the Diem govern- 
ment as it was then moving could defeat the insurgents, but whether it could 
save itself. 

Much of this deterioration of the situation in RVN was attributable, 
in U.S. eyes, to the manner in which President Diem had organized his goverza- 
ment. The struggle -- v/hether viewed as one to gain loyalty or simply to 
assert control -- was focused in and around the villages and hamlets in the 
cou-iitryside. It was precise>^ in those areas that the bilineal GVN organi- 
zation (ARVN and civilian province chiefs) most lacked the capability for 
concerted and cohesive action. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 
was developing a potentially effective institutional framework under U.S. 
tutelage, but that effectiveness against the VC, Diem realized, could po- 
tentially be transferred into effectiveness against himself. The abortive 
coup of late I96O had made Diem even more re3.uctant than he had earlier 
been to permit power (especially coercive power) to be gathered into one 
set of hands other than his own. Still, the establishment of an effective 
military chain of command which could operate where necessary in the country- 
side remiained the prim^e objective of U.S. military advisors. lO/ 

A unitary chain of command had recently been ordered into effect 
within ARVN, but this had not solved the operational problems, for mili- 
tary operations were inescapably conducted in a.reas mider the control of 
an independent political organization with its own military forces and in- 
fluence on opera.tions of all kinds -- military, paramilitary, and civic 
action. The province chiefs, personally selected by President Diem and 
presumably loyal to him, controlled politically the territory in dispute 
with the VC and within which ARVN must operate. They also controlled terri- 
torial forces comprising the Civil Guard (CG) and Self Defense Corps (SDC). 

For President Diem's purposes this bilineal organization offered 
an opportunity to counterbalance the povzer (and coup potential) of the 
generals by the power of the province chiefs. It was a device for sui'vival. 
But the natural by-product of this duality, in terms of the effectiveness 
of actions against the VC, was poor coordination and imperfect cooperation 



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in intelligence collection and prodaction^ in planning^ and in operational 
^^ _ execution in the countryside, where the battles were fought -- both the 

"battle for men*s minds" and the more easily understood battles for con- 
trol of the hamlets^ villages , districts, and provinces. 

The U.S. and GVN were agreed that in order to defeat the insurgency 
it was necessary that the rural populace identify with at least the local 
representatives of the central government. They were agreed, too, that 
some measure of physical security must be provided the rural population 
if this end were to be achieved. Both agreed that the GVN must be the 
1^ principal agent to carry out the actions which would bring the insurgency 

to an end. 

The high level U.S. -GVN discussions held during President Kennedy's 
first year in office focused on what the U.S, could provide GVN to assist 
the latter 's counterinsurgency efforts and on what GVN should do organi- 
zationally to make its efforts more effective. A subsidiary and related 
discussion revolved around the U,S. advisory organization to para.llel the 
GVN reorganization. The problem of how additional resources in some im- 
proved organizations^l framework were to be applied operationally was frag- 
mented into many sub-issues ranging from securing the border to building 
social infra.structure. 

The story of the Strategic Hamlet Program, as it came to be called, 
is one in which an operational concept specifying a sec[uence of concrete 
i steps was introduced by an articulate advocate, nominally accepted by 8,11 

i . , of the princ3.pal actors, and advanced to a position of appa.rent centrality 

in which it became the operational blueprint for ending the insurgency. 
But it is also the story of an apparent consensus built on differing, some- 
I times competing, expectations and of an effort which was, in retrospect, 

' doomed by the failure to resolve in one context the problem it was designed 

I .- to alleviate in another — the .problem" of GW stability," 



II. THE FORMULATION O F THE STRATEGIC HAMLE T PROGRAM 

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A . U.S. -GVN Con sultations 

Beginn.in.g in May I96I, the U.S. and GY'!^ conducted a series of high 
level conferences to fashion responses to the insurgent challenge. The 
first, of these was the visit to Saigon by the Vice President, Lyndon B. 
Johnson. The Vice President's consu2_tations were designed to reinforce 
the U.S. commitment to RVN and to improve the image of President Diem's 
government . 

In a comm.uniq.ue issued jointly in Saigon, it was agreed that the 
RVNAF was to be increased to 150,000 men, that the U.S. would support the 
entire Civil Guard v/ith military assistance funds, that Vietnamese and 
U.S. military specialists would be used to support village-level health 
and public works activities, and that the two governments vrould "discuss 



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new economic and social measures to be undertaken in rural areas to 
accompany the 6.nti -guerrilla effort...." ll/ These discussions implied 
tha.t more GVN effort should be devoted to rural pacification and civic action 
and acknowledged that more regular militaz-^y forces were needed, but they 
did little to clarify the relationships of these parts to the whole or to 
an overall scheme by which the process V70uld develop. 

The Staley group, a joint economic and financial committee co- 
chaired by Dr. A. Eugene Staley, Stanford Research Institute, and Vu Quoc 
Tuc, GVN, follov^ed m_uch the same pattern. Meeting in Saigon in Jime I96I, 
the comjnittee agreed that RVMF strength should be increased to 200,000 
during CY I962 and that U,S. f\mding should be provided to various emergency 
economic and social programs. 12/ But the group did noghing to tie together 
the strands of what it recognized as the central problem: to achieve a 
simultaneous "breakthrough" on both the military-internal security front 
and the economic-socia.1 front. I3 / Its recommendations v/ere restricted 
(in part, no doubt, because of its limited charter) to specific program 
increases and to a restatement of the dimensions of the problem. 

The devastation caused by the September m.onsoonal floods (320,000 
refugees, 1,000 kilometers of road destroyed, 10 million acres of rice and 
other crops lost), combined v/ith the losses attributable to increased insur- 
gent activity, led President Diem to declare a state of national emergency 
on 19 October I96I. This declaration coincided with the visit to Southeast 
Asia (15 October - 3 November) of General MaxweU- D. Taylor, heading a 
mission asked by President Kennedy to appraise the situation in South Viet- 
[ ^-^ nam. The President stated the scope of Taylor* s mission in the broadest 

terras: 



While the military part of the problem is of great 
importance in South Viet-Nara, its political, social, and 
economic elements are eq.ually significant, and I shall ex- 
pect your appraisal and your recommendations to take full 
account of them, ik/ 

In his report to the President, General Q'aylor sketched out the 
nature and aim.s of the Viet Cong threat and assessed the strengths and 
weaknesses of the Diem government. He proposed a U.S. strategy for "turn- 
ing the tide and for assuming the offensive in Vietnam." I5/ The report 
warrants summarizing in some detail, not because it outlined the main 
thrust of the pacification effort (it did not), but because it represents 
the best document to portre.y the ra.nge of U.S. concerns at the time the 
U.S. v^as making a major commitment to South Vietnam and because it lays 
out the major elements of the U.S. strategy of response. 

The Viet Cong, Taylor judged, were militarily powerfu.1 and becom- 
ing more powerful. But they were not yet ready to move to the third, 
climactic phase of Mao's classic format for guerrilla warfare: 

« 

The military strategy being pursued is, evidently, to 
pin down the ARVN on defensive missions; to create a per- 
vasive sense of insecurity and frustration by hit-3.nd-run 
raids on self-defense corps and militia units, ambushing 

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the reserve forces if possible as they come up to defend; 
8.nd to dramatize the inability of the GVN to govern or to 
build;, by the assassination of officials and the sabotage 
of public works. 16/ 

The purpose of this military strategy^ Taylor asserted, was apparently not 
to capture the nation by force. Rather, in concert v/ith non-military means, 
it wSvS to produce a political crisis which would topple the goverranent 
and bring to power a group willing to contemplate the unification of Viet- 
nam on Hanoi * s terms . YjJ 

It was in the U.S. interest, Taylor reasoned, to act vigorous3-y -- 
with advice as well as aid --- in order to bioy the necessa.ry time for Vietnam 
to mobilize and to organize its real assets so that the Vietnamese them- 
selves might "turn the tide" and assume the offensive. 18/ But U.S. aid 
and U.S. advice on where to use it were not enough. The Diem Government 
itself ha^d to be reformed in order to permit it to mobilize the nation. 
Diem had, in Ta.ylor^s assessm.ent, allowed two vicious circles to develop 
which vitiated government effectiveness. In the first of these circles 
poor military intelligence led to a defensive stance designed primarily to 
guard against attacks, which in turn meant that m.ost of the military forces 
came under the control of the province chiefs whose responsibility it v^as 
to protect the populace and installations. This control by province chiefs 
meant that reserves could not, because of tangled lines of command and 
control, be moved and controlled quickly enough to be effective. The effect 
of high losses in unsuccessful defensive battles served further to dry up 
the basic sources of intelligence. 19/ 

The second vicious circle stemmed from Diem's instinctive attempts 
to centralize power in his own hands while fragmenting it beneath him. 
His excessive mistrust of many intellectua.ls and younger Vietnam-ese, in- 
dividuals badly needed to give his administration vitality, served only 
to alienate them, and led them to stand aside from constructive participation 
thereby farther increasing Diem's mistrust. 20/ This administrative style 
fed back, too, into the military equation and through it, created another 
potentially explosive political-m-i2.itary problem: 

The ine,bility to mobilize intelligence effectively for 
operational purposes directly f3-ov/s from this fact /piem's 
administrative pra.ctice/ as do the generally poor relations 
between the Province Chiefs and the military comma.nders, 
the former being Diem*s reliable agents, the latter a povzer 
base he fears. The consequent frustration of Diem's mili- 
tary commianders --a frustration well-knovm to Diem and 
heightened by the November I96O coup — leads him to ac- 
tions which further complicate his problem; e.g., hj.s un- 
willingness to delegate military operations clearly to his 
generals . 2l/ 

General Taylor *s recoiranended actions for the U.S. were designed 
to demonstrate U.S. commitment in order to strengthen Diem*s stand and. 



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simultaneously, to broaden U.S. participation in the hope of "bringing 
, about necessary reforms in Diem*s regime. The President's emissary rejected 

the alternatives of a military takeover v/hich would make the generals 
dominant in all fields. He rejected^ too, the alternative of replacing 
Diem with a weaker figure who vrould be V7illing to delegate authority to 
both military and civil leaders. 22/ The first course would emphasize 
the solution to only one set of problems while slighting others; the 
second would permit action, but not coordinated action. 

4 

B.- "Lmited Rirtnershi-p" 

In order to move in a coordinated way on the intermingled military, 
politice^l, economic, and social problems facing South Vietnam, General 
Taylor recommended that the U.S. initiate a "limited partnership" which 
would stop short of direct U.S. action but would also, through persuasion 
at many levels judiciously mixed with U.S. leverage, ". . .force the Viet- 
namese to get their house in order in one area after another." 23/ In- 
crea.sed ma.terial assistance from the U.S. would be accompanied with increased 
U.S. participation at all levels of government in which the American advisors 
must "...as friends and partners -- not as arms-length advisors -- show 
them how the job might be done -- not tell them or do it for them." If 
strongly motivated, tactf\il Americans were assigned primarily outside 
Saigon, thus avoiding the establishment of large headquarters not actually 
engaged in operational tasks, Taylor thought that this increased U.S. 
participation would not be "counter-productive"; e.g., lend substance to 
claims of U.S. imperialism and dominance of the Diem Govermnent. 2_^/ 

'.^ Thus, Taylor consciously opted for a U.S. course of action in which 

the major thrust of effort would be to induce Diem to do the things that 
the U.S. thought should be done: to draw the disaffected into the national 
effort and to organize and eq.uip so that effective action would be possible. 
General Taylor did not a,rgue explicitly that success would follow automatic- 
ally if Diem's practices could be reformed and his operational capabilities 
upgraded, but he implied this outcome. The question of an overall strategy 
■ to defeat the insurgency came very close to being regarded as a problem 
in the organizs.tion and management of resources. Since GVN had no national 
plan, efforts were concentrated on inducing them to produce one. There v/as 
much less concern about the substance of the non-existent GVN plan. It 
was almost as though there had to be something to endorse or to criticize 
before substantive issues could be treated as relevant. 

C. U.S. -Proposed National Plans 

f Tliis priority of business is reflected in the U.S. plans which 

were proposed to GVN for adoption by the latter. In late I96O the U.S. 
Country Team in Saigon produced an agreed " Count erinsujrgency Plan for 
Viet-Nam" (CIP). The plan was an attempt to specify roles and relation- 
ships v^ithin GVN in the counter insurgency effort, to persua.de Diem to 
abandon his bilinea,l chain of command in favor of a single command line 
with integrated effort at all levels within the government, and to create 
the governmental machinery for coordinated national planning. 25/ It 

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v/as recognized that these recommendations were not pa,latable to President 
Diem^ but reorganization along the lines specified was regarded as essential 
to successfu.l accomplislrtnent of the counterinsurgent effort. 26/ 

The CIP was an indictment of GVJ^"" failure to organize effectively 
and to produce coordinated national plans. 27/ It advanced no operational 
concepts for adoption "by GVN, This obvious omission was corrected in the 
"Geographically Phased National Level Operation Plan for Counterinsurgency" 
which MAAG Vietnam published on 15 September I96I. 28/ Not only did this 
p].an specify the areas of primary interest for pacification operations -- 
as its title indicates -- it also set forth a conceptual outline of the 
three sequential phases of actions which must be undertaken. In the first/ 
"preparatory phase/' the intelligence effort vras to be concentrated in the 
priority target areas ^ surveys were to be made to pinpoint needed economic 
and political reforms, plans viere to be drawn up, and military and politi- 
cal cadres were to be trained for the specific objective area. 29/ The 
second, or "military phase," vrould be devoted to clearing the objective area 
with regular forces, then handing local security responsibility over to the 
Civil Guard (CG) and to establishing GVN presence. 30/ In the final, 
"security phase," the Self Defense Corps (SDC) v/ould assutne the civil 
action-local security mission, the populace was to be "reoriented," politi- 
cal control wa.s to pass to civilian hands, 8.nd economic and social pro- 
grams were to be initiated to consolidate government control. Military 
units would be withdrawn as security v/as achieved and the target area 
would be "secured" by the loyalty of its inliabitants -- a loyalty attribu- 
table to GVN's successful responses to the felt needs of the inhabitants, 31/ 

Pirst priority in this plan (I962 operations) was to go to six 
provinces around Saigon and to the Kontum area. Second priority (I963) 
would be given to expansion southv/ard into the Delta and southward in the 
Central Highlands from Kont-oia. Third priority (196^) would continue the 
spread of GVN control in the highlands and shift the emphasis in the south 
to the provinces north and east of Saigon. Before any of these priority 
actions were undertaken, however, it v/as proposed to conduct an ARVN sv/eep 
in War Zone D, in the jungles northeast of Saigon, to reduce the danger 
to the capital and to increase ARVN^s self-confidence. 32/ (See Map 1.) 

The geographically phased plan comp3.emented the earlier CIP. 
Together, these two U.S. efforts constituted an outline blueprint for 
action. It is, of course, arguable tha.t this was the best conceivable 
blueprint, but it was at least a comprehensive basis for refinement — 
for arguments for different priorities or a changed "series of events" 
in the process of pacification. 

D. Initial Vietnamese Reactions 

This is not how matters proceeded, ixi the event. Ambassador 
Durbrov;, General McGarr, and others urged acceptance of the CIP upon 
President Diem., but with only partial success. 33/ Diem stoutly resisted 
the adoption of a single, integrated chain of operational comjnand, showed 
no enthusiasm for detailed prior planning, continued his practice of cen-- 
tralized decision-marking (sometimes tanta.mount to decision piegoiiLioling) , 

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and continued to play off the province chiefs against the generals. Some 
aspects of the CIP were accepted, bu": the "basic organizational issues 
remained unresolved and the strategic approach unresolved by default. 

The unsuccessful U.S. attempts to secure organizational reforms 
within the Diem, govern-ment had assux-.ed psychological primacy by the time 
of General Taylor's October I96I mission to Saigon. The American posi- 
tion v/as essentially that no operational plan could succeed unless GVN 
were reorganized to permit effective Implementation. It was reorganiza- 
tion that Taylor em.phasized, as detailed above. But General Taylor did 
bring up the need for some coordinated operational plan in his talks with 
President Diem. Diem's response is iescribed in a cable to V/ashington '^ 
by Ajmbassador Nolting: 

Taylor several times stressed importance of overall 
plan -- military^ political, eccnomic, psychological, etc. -- 
for dealing with guerrillas. Diem tended avoid clear re- 
sponse this suggestion but finally indicated that he has 
a new strategic plan of his own. Since it was not very clear 
in spite efforts to drav?" hm ou- what this plan is, Taylor 
asked him, to let us have a copy in v^'riting. bV 

E. Thompson's Counterproposals 

Presj.dent Diem may have been whistling in the dark about a new 
plan of his own. It is likely, however, that he was already conversant 
with the ideas of a new high level advisor who had been in Saigon for 
several weeks and whose .approach to prosecuting the war he would scon en- 
dorse officially as his ovm. The advisor V7as RGK Thompson, a British civil 
servant who had come from the position of Permanent Secretary of Defense 
in Malaya. Thompson's British Advisory Mission was in Saigon in response 
to Diem's req,uest for experienced third country nationals to assist him 
in his counterinsurgent operations. There had been some initial U.S. ob- 
jection to British "advice without responsibility," but fears had been 
temporarily allayed vrhen it was agreed that Thompson's charter would be 
limited to civic action matters. 

Thompson provided Diem his initial "appreciation" (or, in U.S. 
terminology, "estimate of the situation") in October 196I. 35/ His assess- 
ment was well received by the President 5 who asked him to follov; it up with 
a specific plan. Thompson's response, an outline plan for the pacifica- 
tion of the Delta area, was given to the President on 13 November. Thus, 
Thompson was in the process of articulating one potentially com,prehensive 
strategic approach at the sam,e time that the U.S. was deeply involved in 
fashioning a major new phase in U.S.-GVH relations in which major new U.S. 
aid would be tied to Diem's acceptance of specified reforms and, inferentially, 
to his willingness to pursue some agreed, coordinated strategy. Thompson's 
plan was, in short, a potential rival to the American-advanced plans repre- 
sented by the CIP and the geographically phased MAAG plan of September I96I. 



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In order to assess the similarities and differences betv^een tte 
U.S. plans and that advanced by the British Advisory Mission^ it is neces- 
sary to summarize Thompson's argument and proposals. Like Taylor (with 
whom he talked and to whom he gave a copy of his initial "appreciation" 
at the latter 's request), Thompson saw the VC objective to be one of politi- 
cal denouement by combined military and political action rather than a mili- 
tary takeover of the entire nation. Like McGarr and the other U.S. military 
advisors, he recognized the probability and danger of VC attempts to con- 
trol the unpopulated areas and to use them both as a base form which to pro- 
ject an image of political strength and as secure areas from v^hich (in 
the case of ¥ar Zone L, northeast of Saigon) to threaten the capital. 
But unlike the U.S. military advisors, Thompson viewed the primary threat 
to be to the political stability of the populated rixral areas. 36/ Con- 
sequently, he regarded McGarr *s proposed initial operation in War Zone D 
to be a step in the wrong direction. 

The main governmient target, Thompson argued, should not be simply 
the destruction of VC forces. Rather, it should be to offer an attractive 
and constructive alternative to conmunist appeals. This could on2-y be done 
by emphasizing national reconstruction and development in the populated 
rural areas. To do so would require extensive and stringent seciu-ity mea- 
sures, to be sure, but these measures required primarily police rather 
than regular military forces. The police could establish a close rapport 
with the populace i the army could not. The army should have the mission 
to keep the VC off balance by mobile action in order to prevent insurgent 
attacks on the limited areas in which GVJM would concentrate its Initial 
pacification efforts. 37/ 

This line of argument v^as more fully developed in Thompson's draft 
plan for the pacification of the Delta area, given to President Diem on 
11 November. 38/ The objective of the plan was to win loyalties rather 
than to kill insurgents. For that reason Thompson selected a populous area 
with relatively little VC main force activity. The thrust of his proposal 
was that "clear and hold" operations should replace "search and destroy" 
sweeps. ARVN might be used to protect the villages while the villages were 
organizing to protect themselves and mobile ARVN forces must be available 
to reinforce local defense miits, but the process should be abandoned of 
"sweeping" through an area — and then leaving it. The peasants must be 
given the assurance of physical security so that economic and social im- 
provements, the real object of the plan, could proceed without interruption. 

The means by which the villagers would be protected was the "stra- 
tegic harnlet," a lightly guarded village because it was -- by definition -- 
in a relatively low risk area. More heavily defended centers, called "de- 
fended hamlets" and involving more relocation, wou3.d be employed in areas 
under more VC influence, particularly along the Cambodian border. 

To control this effort in the Delta, Thompson recoimaended that 
the ARVN III Corps Headquarters be reinforced with paramilitary and civil 
components, relieved of its responsibility for the area around and north 
of Saigon, and function under the immediate supervision of the A^ational 

Security Council -- presided over by President Diem, The province chiefs, 

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already imder Diem's personal direction, would be responsible on all 
emergency matters to the reinforced III Corps HeadCLuarters (to be called 
the Combined Headc[uarters)^ but continue as before with respect to routine 
administration. 39/ 

Thompson presented this Delta plan as a program of wide potential: 

...It should lead by stages to a reorganization of 
the government machinery for directing and coordinating 
all action against the comm.unists and to the production of 
S'H o verall strategic operational plan for the country as 
a whole defining responsibilities, tasks and priorities. 
At the same time it will lead to the establishment of a static 
secTJirity framework whj.ch can be developed eventually into 
a National Police force into which can be incorporated a 
single security intelligence organis^ation for the direction 
and coordination of all intelligence activities against the 
commimists. I agree with Your Excellency that it would be 
too disruptive at the present moment to try to achieve these 
immediately and that they should be developed gradually. 
Using a medical analogy, the remedy should be clinical 
rather than surgical. ^^0 ' 



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III. DEVELOPING A CONSENSUS AMOm Tffl] ADVISORS 

A. Initial Reaction of U.S. Military Advisors 

It is not difficult to imagine the shocked reaction to Thompson's 
proposals, especially in U.S. military circles. In fact, one need not 
imagine them; General McGarr has recorded a detailed rejoinder to Thompson's 
proposals. He was, to begin with, upset about the lack of prior coordina- 
tion: 



case 



Following Mr, Thompson's medical analogy. . .we have the 
of a doctor called in for consultation on a clinical 
case, actually performing an amputation without consulting 
the resident physician -- and without being required to 
assume the overall responsibility for the patient, kl/ 

General McGarr 's unhappiness with Thompson was not simply a case 
of injured feelings. He had four related categories of disagreements with 
the plan proposed by the British Advisory Mission. First, Thompson's 
recommended command arrangements, if adopted, would demolish the prospect 
of a unite.ry chain of comimand within ARVN, an objective toward which McGarr 
had been v/orking for over a year. Additionally, the Thompson proposals 
would leave Diem as the ultimate manager of an operation dealing with only 
a portion (the Delta) of RVN. The elimanation of practices such as this 
had been an explicit otjective of the entire U.S. advisory effort for a 
long time. 



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Second^ the proposed priority in the Delta clashed with McGarr's 
priorities which placed War Zone D first^ the area around Saigon second, 
and the Delta third. There was a lack of unanimity among the U.S. advisors 
about the relative importance of the War Zone D operation but the military, 
in particular, were looking for an important operation to help the (hope- 
fully) revitalized ARVN demonstrate its offensive spirit and mobile capabili- 
ties- This desire gave rise to the third and fourth objections -- or fears. 

The "static security framev/ork" in the villages to which Thompson 
referred struck General McGarr as an unwarranted downgrading of the need 
for a sizeable conventional military force to play an important role in 
pacification. Thom.pson's stated desire to emphasize police forces in lieu 
of regular military forces was regarded by the U.S. military advisory chief 
as unrealistic -- a transferral of Malayan experience to a locale in which 
the existing tools of policy were very different. 

Related to this objection was a final set of disagreements* 
Thompson had wanted to go slowly and to let a new GVN organization grow 
from the effort. The U.S. military advisory chief also wanted to go slowly -• 
but not that slovjly. Not only would the Viet Cong not wait, it was simply 
unsound policy not to use the tools at hand. It would not do to reduce the 
ARVN and increase police forces while the VC continued thier successes. 
It was necessary, in sum, to act in a lim.ited area but to act q.uickly. 
Thompson's recommendations did not look to quick action, emphasized the wrong 
area, were designed to em.phasize the wrong opera.tional agency, and proposed 
unacceptable command lines. W^ 

It is important to note that in' spite of these explicit disagree- 
ments there v/ere broad areas of apparent agreement between Thompson and 
his U.S. counterparts. ( Apparent , because the "areas of agreement" concealed' 
differences, too.) The U.S. MAAG was am.enable to the development of strate- 
gic hamlets. General McGarr claimed. W^ Indeed, MAAG's long, diffuse doc- 
trinal "handbook" for advisors in the field did devote three pages -- without 
any particular emphasis --to the "secure village concept," hh j MAAG did 
not stress the centrality of strategic hamlets -p^T se , but neither did 
Thompson. Strategic hamlets were to Thompson a way station enroute to 
his real objective -- winning the loyalty of the rural peasants. This 
was apparently compatible with the sequential steps to pacitication out- 
lined in MAAG*s own Geographically Phased Counterinsurgency Plan. If the 
com.peting approaches of the U.S. and British advj.sors had not been made 
compatible, there was, at least, some agreed ground from which to launch 
the effort to make them compatible, 

B. Reactions in Washington 

That such ground existed was fortunate, for Thompson's evolutionary 
plan v/as not only finding a warm reception at the Presidential Palace, 
it was also v/-inning an attentive ear in Washington. As already mentioned, 
Thompson talked v/ith General Taylor during the latter 's October I96I mission 
to Saigon and provided Taylor a copy of the initial British "appreciation." 



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Copies of the Thompson memorandum on the Delta were also forwarded to 
Taylor at the latter *s req.uest. "^ Then in January 1962^ Thompson, again 
responding to Taylor ^s request , sent the latter a long letter outlining 
his views. In less tha.n a month. General Taylor could present to Presi- 
dent Kennedy a plan entitled "A Strategic Concept for South Vietnam" by 
Roger Hilsman which was an unabashed restatement of most of Thompson's 
major points and toward which President Kennedy had, not incidentally, 
already expressed a favorable disposition. ^4-6/ 

Hilsman' s "strategic concept" avowedly flowed from three basic 
principles: that the problem in Vietnam presented by the VC was political 
rather thaamilitary in its essence; that an effective counterinsurgency 
plan must provide the people and villages with protection and physical 
security; and that counter guerrilla forces must adopt the same tactics 
as those used by the guerrilla himself. ^7/ 

To translate these principles into operational reality, Plilsman 
called for "strategic villages" and "defended villages" a la Thompson, 
with first priority to the most populous areas; i.e., the Delta and in the 
vicinity of Hue. U8/ ARVN would, much as in Thompson's proposal, secure 
the initial effort, when necessary, and be employed to keep the VC off 
balance in those areas already under Viet Cong control. The plan envisaged 
a three-phase process by which GVN control would progressively be expanded 
from the least heavily VC-penetrated provinces with large populations 
(phase l), into the more heavily penetrated population centers (phase II), 
and finally into the areas along the Laotian and Cambodian borders (phase 
III). 49/ Hilsman eschewed use of the "oil spot" analogy but the process 
and rationeJ_e he put forth were the same. His plan moved "strategic vil- 
lages" to a place of prominence greater than that in Thompson's Delta plan 
and far in excess of the offhanded acceptance which had thus far been 
afforded them by U.S. military advisors. Strategic haml.ets were not the 
heart of the Hilsman plan -- civic action was that -- but they were the symbol 
the easily recognizable, easily grasped initial step by which GVN could be- 
gin, following Hilsman' s second principle, to "provide the people and the 
villages with protection and physical security." 50/ 

C. The Advisors Reach Af^reement 

Thompson's basic ideas were gain3.ng wide dissemination at the 
highest level within the U.S. government in early 1962. What of his rela- 
tions with the U.S. MAAG in Saigon? These had been significantly improved 
as the result of a meeting between Thompson, Ambassador Nolting, and 
British Ambassador Hohler. Thompson agreed to revise his paper so as to 
remove the objection to his proposed coimnand arrangements. Ambassador 
Nolting reported that Thompson was now working "closely and amicably" with 
MAA.G. 51/ This took care of one of McGarr's objections. Thompson had 
apparently decided, too, to allow the issue to drop for the time being 
of police primacy in pacification vis-a-vis ARVN. It was not, after all, 
a change that could be made quickly; President Diem was convinced that 
some start wa.s needed to save his administration. That had been his rea- 
son, after all, in reluctantly inviting increased American participation 
in the war. 

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Secretary McNamara played an important role in disposing of still 
another issue in dispute -- that of where to begin. In mid-December I96I5 
after President Kennedy had decided to adopt essentially all of General ^ 
Taylor's November recommendations except the introduction of major U.S. ■ 
forces into Vietnam, Secretary McNamara m.et in Honolulu with the U.S. 
principals in Vietnam to discuss futuire plans. A central q,uestion was that 
of what could be done in the short 'term future. The Secretary of Defense 
made it clear that RVN had "number one priority/' 52/_ McNamara urged 
concentration on one province: "I'll guarantee it"7^he m.oney and eq.uipmen_t7 
provided you have a plan based on one province. Take one place^ sweep it 
and hold it in a plan." ^3/ Or, put another way, let us demonstrate that 
in some place, in some way, we can achieve demonstrable gains. 

General McGarr, immediately upon his return to Saigon, vrrote to 
Secretary Thuan and passed on this proposal: 

I vrould like to suggest that you may wish to set aside 
one specific area, say a province, and use it as a "test 
area," in establishing this type "pacification infrastruc- 
ture." My thinking is that all the various elements of this 
anti-VC groundwork be designated irrmiediately by your govern- 
ment and trained as a team or teams for the actual reoccupa- 
tion and holding of the designated comjmmist infiltrated 
area when it has been cleared by RVMF military action. ^ 

Such teams would embrace, McGarr suggested, police, intelligence, financial, 
psychological, agricultural, medical, civic action, and civil political 
functions. 55/ 

IV. TI-IE ADVISORS "SELL" DIEM (OR VICE- VERSA ) 
A. VJhere to Begin? 

GVN did indeed have a province in mind. It was not a Delta province, 
however. Nor was it a province relatively secure from VC infiltration. 
Quite to the contrary, Binh Duong Province, extending north and northwest 
of Saigon, had been heavily infiltrated. Its main comm.unications axis 
(N3.tional Highway 13, extending northv,-ard from Saigon into Cambodia) sliced 
directly betvreen War Zone D and War Zone C. The province was crossed 
by important routes of communications, lia.ison, and supply between two 
insurgen redoubts. Hardly the logical place to begin, one might say, 
but "logic" was being driven by events and desires more than by abstract 
reasoning. 

One desire was the widely held wish to do something concrete 
and productive as a symbol of U.S. determination and GVN vitality. Another 
desire was GVN's wish to commit the Americans to support of Diem's govern- 
ment on terms V7hich would be in fact acceptable to that government and 
would — equally important — appear to be U.S. support for GVN- initiated 
actions- If one were Vietnamese one m-ight reason that Binh Duong was an 

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area of unq.uestionable strategic importance — and one in which GVN had 
already initiated some pacification efforts. If the Americans wish to 
concentrate in one province and if they are willing to underwrite the effort 
with resources J why not begin in an important strategic area where w^ork, 
is already underway? 

GVI^ had initiated^ in August 1961;, a "Rujral Reconstruction Cam- 
paign" in the Eastern Region of South Vietnam to secure the provinces of 
Tay Ninh, Binh Duong , and Phuoc Tuy. 56/ Most of the effort prior to 
December I96I had been concentrated in the Cu Chi District of Binh. Duong. 
Xom Hue Hamlet of Tan An Hoi was, during December, in the process of being 
fortified as a strategic hamlet. $7/ General McGarr was under the impres- 
sion that "considerable progress" had already been made in these three 
provinces in the establishment of the GVN village level activities so 
necessary to winning popular support. ^8/ 

In mid -January General McGarr met (just prior to his departure 
for Honolulu) with President Diem and Secretary Thuan to discuss pacifica- 
tion plans. As McGarr told Secretary McNamara, Diem stressed that the 
MAAG-endorsed military operation in War Zone D might merely close the 
string on an empty bag. Such a failure would be detrim^ental to ARVN morale. 
Besides, the President observed echoing Thompson, "sweeps" solved nothing; 
the problem was to hold an area and to separate the VC from the rest of the 
populace. Diem preferred a concentrated effort in Binh Duong, a heavily 
infiltrated province, close to Saigon, of great strategic importance, and 
in which only 10 of k6 villages were under GVN control -- but in which the 
groundwork for a sound government infrastructure had already been laid. 59/ 

The discussions at the Secretary of Defense's Conference in 
Honolulu turned on whether or not the War Zone D operation offered more 
hope for a concrete gain than a "single province" pacification scheme. 
McNamara concluded that it did not. General McGarr dissented mildly from 
the selection of Binh Duong. He would have favored Phuoc Tuy (v:here U.S. 
troops were scheduled to land if a decision were ever made to commit them). 
But Binh Duong -was GVN^s plan and the "limited partners" finally agreed 
to back Diem's preferred attempt. 60/ Thus, the U.S. came to a roundabout 
decision to support as a "test" of what would later be called the "strategic 
hamll,et program" an operation about whose details they knew little, in an 
area that al3- recognized to be difficult, because it al3.egedly represented 
a long-sought example of GVN initiative in planning and civil-military 
preparation. Much of the public image of the stra^tegic hamlet program was 
to be established by this operation, as it turned out. Its name was 
"Operation Smarise." But it was not -- U.S. desires to the contrary -- 
the only strategic hamlet effort to be carried fort-zard during this period. 
It wa,s only one of several -- and several grew very g[uickly into m.any. 

B. Concurrent GVN Activity 

It has already been suggested that President Diem responded with 
some enthusiasm to the early proposals from Thompson's British Advisory 
Mission. In mid-February 1962, President Diem approved orally Thompson's 

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"Delta Pacification Plan" and said he would like to see it executed vath- 
out delay. 6l/ Earlier, on 3 February , he had created "by presidential 
decree the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Strategic Hamlets (IMCSH) , 
comprising the heads of various ministries (Defense , Interior, Education, 
Civic Action, Rural Affairs, etc.)- 62/ The IMCSII was, as its membership 
indicates, a coordinating body designed to give national direction and 
guidance to the program. Its importance is not in its work -- for it 
apparently did very little -- but as an indicator of Diem's early I962 
thinking of strategic hamlets as a national program and of the central 
role which his brother ^ Fgo DinJi IMhu, would play in this program. 

AThu was the real driving force behind GVN's uneven but discernible 
movement tov/ard adoption of the strategic hamlet theme as a unifying con- 
cept in its pacification efforts. In the early period under discussion 
he masked his central role, however. He was not announced as the Chairman 
of the IMCSH (nobody was), but the committee v/as responsible to him. 63 / 
He did not, however, lead it actively. As two American observers remarked 
at the time, "Nhu seems to have consulted the committee seldom and to have 
shared his policy-making power with it even less freq.uently. " 6U/ 

C. Early Signs of GVN Expectations 

But although brother Nhu was behind the scenes in late I96I and 
early I962, an occasional fleeting glimpse of his thinking and the direction 
in v/hich he was heading has still managed to show through. A CIA report 
from Saigon summarized Khu*s instructions to a dozen province chiefs from 
the Delta in a meeting held on l4 December I96I. Primary emphasis was to 
be placed on the strategic hamlet program, Hhu sa.id, and this program was 
to be coupled with a "social revolution" against "Viet-Nam's three enemies: 
divisive forces, low standard of living, and communism." 6^ / The CIA 
Task Force - Vietnam observed, in forwarding this report, that Khu's "social 
revolution and strategic hamlets appear to be fuzzy concepts with little 
value in the fight against the Communists." 66/ 

l^o doubt these concepts seemed fuzzy at the end of I96I. But 
within another twelve months, as events would prove, they would be widely 
recognized as the twin spearheads of GVN^s counterinsurgent effort, fuzzy 
or not. The strategic hamlet program would have broad support within the 
U.S, governm-ent and financial resources to underpin tha,t support. The 
"social revolution" to which ffliu referred in December I96I would be surfaced 
as Diem's "personalism." drive. The important thing for the present analysis 
is that all of the expectations of the several participant groups — both 
U.S. and GVN -- were identifiable by very early I962 at the latest, and that 
the concept of the strategic hamlet program in the broad sense had been 
fully adumbrated. The skeleton — the rationale -- was complete; the body -• 
operational programs — had not yet taken form. Each group could, however, 
work toward construction of a slightly different body (and for differing 
reasons) and claim with some pla^usibility to be working from the same 
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V- DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES AM) EXPECTATIOJMS 

Three somewhat different viev^s may be categorized which are of interest 
to the present inq^uiry: those of the U.S, military advisors, of the U.S. 
political leadership, and of the Diem government's leaders. Such generali- 
zations are admittedly risky and easily overdrawn; there were, of course, 
differences between the perceptions and expectations of, say, the U.S. 
military advisors. For example, those farthest from Saigon tended to be 
less patient -- with Diem and in expecting results — than were those closer 
to the area of operations. Still, discernible differences of outlook and 
expectations may be said to represent the prevailing views in each of these 
three groups . 

A. U.S. Military Advisors 

The U.S. military advisors mistrusted argiunents which stressed 
the Vietnamese struggle as essentially political rather than military. 
They were CLulte willing; to concede that the struggle was multi-dimensional 
but they feared instinctively any line of reasoning which might appear to 
argue that military considerations were relatively unimportant in Vietnam. 
So, too, they were wary of schemes which might lead ARVN to perpetuate Its 
defensive tactical stance. Both dangers were present in the strategic 
hamlet program. The same military advisors were more forceful than others 
In stressing the need for the Diem regime to rationalize its comjnand arrange- 
ments and to plan comprehensively and in detail from the highest to lowest 
levels. Their operational interest concentrated on making ARVN not just 
more mobile but more aggressive. Their creed, developed through years of 
experience and training (or vicarious experience) was to "close with and 
destroy the enemy." One could expect them, then, to be more than willing 
to turn over the job of static defense to the CDC and CG at the earliest 
opportunity, to keep a weather eye out for opportunities to engage m-ajor 
VC formations in decisive battle, and to chafe under the painfully slov;- 
evolutionary process which was implicit even in their own I96I geographically 
phased plan. 

B. U.S. Political Leadership 

'The U.S. political leadership, and to varying degrees the leaders 
in the Saigon Embassy and in USOM, were more attimed to the political 
problems -- both with respect to GVN-U.S. relations and to the problem 
of winning broad support among the Vietnamese for the Diem administration. 
This made members of this group inherently more sympathetic to proposals 
such as the Thompson plan for the Delta than they were, for Instance, to 
increasing ARVN* s size and capabilities. They found compelling the logic 
of analyses such as Hilsman's which cut to the political root rather than 
treating only the military symptoms. One suspects -- though documentation 
would never be found to support it -- that they were attracted by an argu- 
ment which did suggest some hope for "demilitarizing" the war, de-em^phasizing 
U.S. operational participation, and increasing GVN's ability to solve its 
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C. President Diem 

Ngo Dinh Diem's perspective and expectations were the most 
different of all. U,S- groups differed in dregre; Diem's expectations were 
different in kind. He v^anted^ first of all, to obtain unequivocal U.S. 
support, not just to his nation but to his adiainlstration. It vras essential, 
in his eyes, that this support not compromise his authority or Vietnamese 
sovereignty. Pie did not vrant to give credence to communist claims that 
he was a puppet of the U.S., on one hand, or concentrate the coercive in- 
struments of power in the hand of potential antagonists, on the other. 

A revealing assessment of Liem's frame of m.ind is provided by 
Ajnbassador Nolting. Diem invited increased U.S. aid and U.S. participa- 
tion because he feared that, especially with an impending settlement in 
Laos, South Vietnam, v/ould come under increasing communist pressures. 
If Diem*s goverziment could not win over these pressures -- and Diem feared 
it could not -- it had only the choice of going down fighting or of being 
overthrown by a coup. Thus, in req.uesting additional U.S. help. Diem had 
"adopted an expedient which runs against his own convictions, and he is 
apparently willing to accept the attendant diminution of his avin stature 
■as an independent and self-reliant national leader." 6?/ 

But when Ambassador Nolting presented to Diem the U.S. quid pro 
quo for its lirflited partnership," this apparent acceptance of decreased 
stature and independence suddenly seemed less apparent. 68/ Then, as 
I Nolting reported, President Diem feared the reaction even among his own 

' cabinet aides. 69 / Secretary Thuan, in whom Diem did confide, said that 

the President vzas brooding over the fact that the U.S. was asking great 
concessions of GVN in the realm of its sovereignty in exchange for little 
additional help. JOj Diem argued that U.S. influence over his govern- 
ment, once it was known, would play directly into the communists* hands. 
The first priority task, he added, was to give the people security, not 
to make the government more popular. To try it the other way around was 
to place the cart before the horse. Jl/ 

Diem savr himself caught in a dileimna in v^hich he was doomed if he 
did not get outside assistance and doomed if he got it only at the price 
of surrendering his independence. To him the trick was to get the U.S. 
committed without surrendering his independence. One possible solution 
lay in getting U.S. m-aterial aid for a prograan that would be almost wholly 
GVN- implemented. The strategic hajolet program offered a convenient vehi- 
cle for this purpose and one which was also appealing for other reasons. 
It put 9.chieving security before wirjiing loyalty -- in an operational con- 
text in which it V7as difficult to differentiate between security for the 
rural populace and control of that populace, since many of the actions 
to achieve one were almost identical to the acts to realize the other. 

D. The Central Issue 

The U.S., for its part, was asking Diem to forego independence by 
accepting the wisdom of the American recommendations for reform. The 

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central question vas whether he would -- or could -- do so. Among those 
who responded to this question in the negative^ J. Kenneth Galbraith was most 
trenchant: 

In my completely considered view . , . Diem will not 
reform either administratively or politically in any 
effective way. That is because he cannot. It is 
politically naive to expect it. He senses that he 
cannot let povrer go because he would be thrown out. 72/ 

The U.S. decided that Diem could make meaningful reforms and that he 
would do so -- or at least it decided that it was likely enough that he 
would do so and that support for his adiriinistration constituted the best 
available policy alternative. 

E . The Problem of A s s e s smen t 

The differences in perspectives and expectations outlined above 
are Important in their own right. They loom even larger^ however^ when 
one considers the difficulty of assessing progress in the program about 
to be undertal^en. These groups were about to embark upon a long^ arduous 
joint voyage. Their only chart had never been to sea. This was the 
newly-articulated and imperfectly understood doctrine of coujiterinsurgency 
which stressed the interaction and interdependence of political^ military^ 
social^ and psychological factors. It posited the necessity for certain 
actions to follow immediately and successfully behind others in order 
for the process of pacification to succeed. Above all -- and this point 
cannot be overstressed -- while this doctrine recognized the need for both 
the carrot and the stick (for coercive control and appealing programs) 
it made gaining broad popular acceptance the single ultimate criterion 
of success, Neither kill ratios nor construction rates nor the frequency 
of incidents was conclusive^ yet these were all indicators applicable to 
phases within the larger process. The gains of doing well in one phase_j 
however_, could be wiped out by inactivity or mistakes in a subsequent 
phase. It was^ in shorty very difficult to know how well one was doing 
until one was done. 

VI. THE MTIONAL PLAN EMERGES 

A. Aw areness of the Unifying Potential 

Before examining the quality of execution of the operational pro- 
grams for which some detailed record is available it will be useful to 
outline the process by which the strategic hamlet program became -- by late 
1962 --a comprehensive national program embodying the major effort of GW 
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Operation Sunrise in Binh Duong Province was launched on 22 
March I962 in what was initially called the ''Ben Cat Project." 73/ The 
Delta project^ however^ languished in a "planning stage" until May^ when 
it first became kno'^-m that Diem was considering incorporating it into the 
Strategic Hamlet Program, ih / By August the IMCSH proposed a priority 
plan for the construction of strategic hamlets on a nation -vride basis. 



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Later the same month^ the U.S. Inter-Agency Coiranlttee for Province 
Rehabilitation concurred in this plan (with minor reservations) as a 
basis for planning and utilization of U.S. assistance. 15/ By October_, 
the Diem government had made the Strategic Hamlet Program the explicit 
focus and unifying concept of its pacification effort. The government - 
controlled Times of Viet Nam devoted an entire issue to "I962: The Year 
of Strategic Hamlets." 76/ Ngo Dinh Hhu was unveiled as the "architect 
and prijue mover" of the program which was the Vietnamese answer to 
communist strategy. As Fhu proclaimed: "Strategic hatnlets seek to 
assure the security of the people in order that the success of the polit- - 
ical^ social^ and military revolution might be assured by the enthusiastic 
movement of solidarity and self-sufficiency." 7T/ President Diem had 
earlier put the same thought to an American visitor in clearer words: 

The importance of the strategic hamlets goes beyond the 
concept of hamlet self defense. They are a means to institute 
basic democracy in Vietnam. Through the Strategic Hamlet 
Program^ the government intends to give back to the hamlet 
the right of self-government with its own charter and system 
of community law. This will realize the ideas of the consti- 
tution on a local scale which the people can understand. Jo/ 

By this time^ too^ influential American circles regarded the 
Strategic Haralet Program as the shorthand designation for a process which 
represented a sensible and sound GVW effort. Roger Hilsman had said so 
in February to President Kennedy _, and found the latter highly receptive. 
He continued to say so. 79/ As he advised Assistant Secretary of State 
Averell Harriman in late 1962^ "The government of Vietnatu has finally 
developed^ and is now acting upon^ an effective strategic concept." £0/ 
Even so lukewarm an enthusiast as the CJCS^ General Lyman L. Lemnitzer 
could report that "... the Strategic Hamlet Program promises solid 
benefits^ and may well be the vital key to success of the pacification 
program." 81/ 

The public record also shows early support from high U.S. officials 
for the Strategic Hamlet Program and recognition of its central role in 
GVN's pacification campaign. Speaking in late April 19^2^ Under Secretary 
of State George ¥. Ball^ commented favorably in the progressive develop- 
ment of strategic hamlets throughout RVW as a method of combating 
insurgency and as a means of bringing the entire nation "under control 
• of the government." 82/ Secretary McNamara told members of the press^ 
upon his return to Washington from a Pacific meeting in July 1962^ that 
the Strategic Hamlet Program was the "backbone of President Diem's 
program for countering subversion directed against his state." £3/ 

It is reasonable to conclude from the evidence that official U,S. 
jj awareness kept abreast of Diem's progressive adoption of the Strategic 

Hamlet Program as the "unifying concept" in his counterinsurgent effort. 
The same officials were constantly bombarded by a series of reports 
from a variety of sources describing the progress of the hamlet program 
and assessing its efficacy. 

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B. "Operation Sunrise " 

The first operational effort in vMch the U.S. had a hand^ 
"Operation Sunrise^" got under vay in Binh I>uong Province on 22 March I962 
vhen vork commenced on Ben Tuong^ the first of five hatnlets to be con- 
structed for relocated peasants in the Ben Cat District in and around the 
Lai Khe rubber plantation^ (See Map 2.) Phase I of the operation -- the 
military clearing phase -- was conducted by forces of the 5th AEW Divi- 
sion reinforced by ranger companies^ a reconnaissance company^ two rein- 
forced CG companies^ and a psychological warfare company. The Viet Cong . 
simply melted into the jungles. 

With the Viet Cong out of the way — at least for the time being - 
the relocation and construction of the new hamlet commenced. The new 
program got off to a bad start. The government was able to persuade only 
seventy families to volunteer for resettlement. The 135 other families in 
the half dozen settlements vrere herded forcibly from their homes. 8k/ 
Little of the $300^000 in local currency provided by USOM had reached the 
peasants; the money was being withheld until the resettled families indi- 
cated they would not bolt the new hamlet. Som.e of them came with most of 
their meager belongings. Others had little but the clothes on their backs. 
Their old dwellings — and many of their possessions — were burned behind 
"t-hem. 85 / Only 120 males of an age to bear arms were found among the more 
than 200 families -- indicating veiy clearly that a large number had gone 
over to the VC^ whether by choice or as a result of intimidation. ^Q 

' ^** Other Early Programs 

Progress in Binh Duong continued at a steady pace^ beset by diffi- 
|l ^^' culties. By midsummer '2900 persons had been regrouped into three strategic 

hamlets. 87 / Elsewhere^ the pace quickened. Although the Delta Plan^ as 
a coordinated effort^ had not been im.plemented by the sumimer of 1962^ 
Secretary McNamara found in May an aggressive effort under way without U.S. 
help near Ca Mao: 

Here the comma.nder of the 31st Infantry Regiment had gone 
into an area 95^ controlled by the VC^ declared martial law^ and 
resettled 11_,000 people (some under duress) in 9 strategic hamlets_, 
while fighting the VC wherever he foiond them. Since inception 
I of the program^ none of his villages have been attacked^ and the 

freedom f rom VC taxation (extortion) is proving most appealing to 
the people. It is the commander^ s hope (doubtless optimistic) 
that he will be able to turn the whole area, over to the civil guard 
and self defense corps mthin 6 months. 88/ 

These resettlement efforts in areas which had been under VC domination 
were not the extent of the early hamlet "program^" however. Many exist- 
ing hamlets and villages were "fort-ified" in one degree or sjiother early 
in 1962 follo\^7ing no discernible pattern. This appears to have been the 
natural product of the varied response to ffiiu's injunction to emphasize 
strategic hamlets. In April^ the GW Ministry of the Interior informed 
the U.S. that I3OO such hamlets were already completed, 89 / "Operation 
Sunrise" had by this time been broadened to embrace efforts in several 
provinces o 90 / Several other Strategic Hamlet Programs were begun: 
"Operation Hai Yen II" (Sea Swallow) in Phu Yen Province with a goal of 

281 hamlets^ 157 of which were reported, as completed within two months: 

22 TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



■ ■*>. 



MAPS, 



'*.:BIKH DUONG pRovno 



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NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 2011 



- • TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

"Operation Dang Tlen"(Let^s go)' In Blnh Dinh Province with a goal of 328 
strategic hamlets In Its first yearj and "Operation Phuong Hoang" (Royal 
Phoenix) in Quang Nai Province vith a goal of 125 strategic harnlets by 
the end of I962. 

D- At Last -- A National Plan 

The GW drew all of the partiallstlc programs together in its 
August 1962 national priority plan_, mentioned earlier. The nation was 
divided into four priority zones (Map 3). First priority was assigned 
to the eleven provinces around Saigon. This included essentially the 
area of the Thompson Delta plan plus the original area of "Operation 
Sunrise" plus Gla Dinh Province (Map k) , Priorities within each zone 
were further specified. Within the zone of first national priority^ for 
example_j the provinces of Vinh Long^ Long An^ and Phuoc Try were assigned 
the highest priority; Blnh Duong -- where operations were already in 
progress -- was given priority three (Map 5). Dy the end of the summer 
of 1962 GW claimed that 3^225 of the planned 11^3l6 ham.lets had already 
been completed and that over 33 percent of the nation's total population 
was already living in completed haralets (See Table l). 

October 1962^ when Diem made the Strategic Hamlet Program the 
avowed focus of his counterinsurgent campaign_, marks the second vmtershed 
in the development and implementation of the program. The first such 
watershed had been the consensus^ on the potential value of such a pro- 
gram_j which had been developed at the end of I961 and early I962. There 
.--. would be no others until the program died with Diem. 

E. Effect on U.S. ' Perceptions 

1 The effect of the G W s concentraion on strategic hamlets was to 

I make U.S. assessments focus on several sub-aspects of the problem. Atten- 

; tion tended to be directed toward how well haralets were being fortified and 

whether or not the implementation phase was well managed; i.e._, whether 
peasants were paid for their labor^^ reirabursed for their losses^ and given 
adequate opportunity to attend their crops. Conversely^ attention was 
- ■ directed away from the dlfficult-to-assess question of whether the follow- 

up actions to hamlet security were taking place -- the actions which would 
convert the peasantry from apathy (if not opposition) to identification 
' with their central' government. 



This focusing on details which diverted attention from the ultimate 
objective took the form of reports^ primarily statistical^ which set forth 
the construction rate for strategic hamlets^ the incident rate of VC 
activities^ and the geographical areas in which GW control was and was not 
in the ascendancy. These "specifics" were coupled to generalized assess- 
ments which almost invariably pointed to shortcomings in GW s execution 
of the program. The shortcomings^ however^ were treated as problems in 
efficient management and operational organization; the ineluctability of 
increased control (or security) leading som.ehow to popular identification 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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



TOP SECRS'T -• Sensitive 



TABLE 1 



GVII REPORT ON STATUS OF STPx.'^.TSGIC K^u'ILETS 



/-, 



As of 30 September 1962 * 



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Area 



SOUTESRI^ : 



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Strategic 

Hamlet ^^ 



SUB-^TCyrAL 



CENTRAL: 



Central Lowlands 



High Plateau 



Sli3"T0TAL 



k> 



Planned 



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1^-33 



Eastern Rcovincfts 1^595 
VJestern Provinces h,'J2Q 



6,756 



3.630 
930 



i^,560 



GRAim TOTAL 11^316 



Strategic 
Hcunlets 

Completed 



Strategic 
Eamlcts Under Population in 
Const:nJ.ction Co:npleted Hejclets 



105 

291 
1,236 



1,632 



l,ii90 



10^ 



1,593 



3,225 



115 
501 
702 



1,31s 



682 



217 



899 



2,217 



26l,ii-70 

Ji23,o6o 

1,87^1,790 



2,559,320 



1,65^^,^70 

108, 2J!-'l 



1,762, 71'^ 



^,322,03^^ 



- Percentage of planned havnlets ccapleted 28.14-9^ 

- Percenta.Ge of total population in completed hamlets 33'39io 



* Adapted frora Tha Times of Vietnara, 28 October 1962, p. I7. 



/^ 



TOP S3CRET - Sensitive 



29 



J 



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



rr 



TOP SECKST - Sensitive 



TABLE 1 



I 



GVK REPORT ON STATUS OF STPATSGIC IIAl^fliSTS 



/-, 



As of 30 Septem'ber 1962 * 



Area 



SOUTHESK : 



Saigon 



Strategic 
Hojnlets 
Planne d 



^33 



Eastern Provinces 1>595 
VJestern Provinces h,'J2Q 



SUB-TOTAL 



6,756 



Strategic 

Haralets 
Completed 



105 

' 291 

1,236 



1,632 



Strategic 
Hamlets Under Population in 
Construction Completed Hejilets 



115 
501 



702 



1,318 



263., 1^70 

J+23, 060 
l,07'i,790 



2,559,320 



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Central Lowlands 3^630 



High Plateau 



•930 



SUB-T0TA>L hj 560 



GMKD TOTAL ll,3l6 



1, 1+90 
103 



1,593 



3,225 



682 



217 



89^^ 



•. 



2,217 



108, 2't'+ 



1,762,711+ 



U, 322, 03^1- 



- Percentage of planned hamlets completed. .28.49>j 

- Pei'centage of total population in completed hamlets. .. .33- 39p 



* Adapted from The Times of Vietnam, 28 October 19^2, p. 17- 



TO? SECRET - Sensitive 



28 



):- 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

■ I ■ ■ ■ . ^ «-^ m- I ■ ^•' ■ » ■ ■ — 

•-• 

by a process akin to the economic assiitnption of "flotation to stability 
through development" vent xmchallenged as a basic assumption. Critics 
pointed to needed improvements j the question of T.^hether or not these 
could be accomplished^ or vliy_j almost never was raised. 

^ "Operation Sunrise"^ for exaraple^ vas criticized in some detail 

by the US MA.A.G. Much better planning and coordination was needed in order 
to relocate effectively: Aerial surveys were necessary to pinpoint the 

( , number of families to be relocated; ujianticipated expenditures needed to 

be provided for; preparation of sites should begin before the peasants 
were moved; and (WE resource commitm-ents should be carefully checked by 
U.S. advisors at all levels. 92/ There was no discussion of the vulnera- 
: , bility of the strategic hamlets to VC infiltration (as against VC attacks) 
- or of the subsequent steps to \rlnning support. That was not^ one may 

assume^ the military's prime concern. 

Political observers who examined this follow-on aspect were 
cautiously optimistic: 

The strategic hamlet program is the heart of our effort 
and deserves top priority. "While it has not — and probably 
i will not -^ bring democracy to rural Vietnam^ it provides truly 

; ■ local administration for the first time. Coupled mth measures 

to increase rice production and farmer income^ these local 
administrations can work a revolution in rural Vietnam. 93/ 

. I The same tone wa.s reflected in Michael Forrestal^s report to President 

■ Kennedy in February I963 following his visit to Vietnam with Roger Ililsmaxi. 94/ 
The visitors found Ambassador l^o3-ting and his deputy^ William C. Trueheart^ 
optimistic about the results which the program might achieve once the 
materials for it^ then just beginning to come in^ reached full volume. 95_/ 

The Department of Defense was devoting considerable effort to 
insuring that these materials did reach Vietnatn In^ the quantities needed 
and in timely fasliion. Secretary McHamara had been stuck with this prob- 
lem during his May I962 visit to "Operation Sunrise". He saw especiaiay a 
need to program SDC^ CG^ and Youth Corps training so that it would match 
the role of hamlet building and to insure the provision of proper commu- 
nications for warning purposes. 96/ A substantial amount of the MAAG-DoD 
effort subsequently went into programming. The Agency for International 
Development had agreed to fujid the "Strategic Hamlet Kits" (building 
materials^ barbed \7ire and stajies^ light weapons^ a^mnunition^ and commu- 
nication equipment)^ but in August I962 it demurz^ed, stating that support- 
ing assistance funds in the MAP were inadequate for the purpose o 97/ 
Secretary McNsmara agreed to ujidertalie the financing for I5OO kits (13 
million) but asked if the additional 35OO kits requested were real3y 
necessary and^ if so^ on vrhat delivery schedule. The target levels and^ 
delivery dates under^vrcnt more or less, continuous revision from then until 
the question became irrelevant in late I963. 98/ A separate but related 
effort went into expediting the procurement^ delivery^ and installation of 

TOP SECRET - Sensitive 

— - I ■ 1 ■ 1 1 — ■ I 1 " I -- t — 

'29 



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



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



radios in the strategic haiinlets so that each vould have the capability 
to somid the alartu and request the employiiient of mobile reserves when 
attacked. 



I 



II r- 



F. Differences Begin to Emerge 

All of these "program management" activities were based on the 
imstated assumption that the strategic hamlet program wo\ild lead to effec- 
tive pacification if only Diem wotild malve it work. As it toirned out^ 
there was some disagreement between what the U.S. considered needed to be 
done and what }?resident Diem knew very wel,l he was doing. He was using 
■the Strategic Hamlet Program to carry forvrard his "persona^ist pliilosophy." 99/ 
As brother Ehu visibly took the reins controlling the prograsn and began to 
solidify control over the Youth Corps it became increasingly clear that 
Diem was emphasizing government control of the peasantry at the expense (at 
least in U.S. eyes) of pacification. lOO/ 

■ ■ ■! I ■ ■ PI ■ ■ -■ I ■■ . ■ ■11* 

. As awareness in Washington increased that strategic hamlets could 
serve several purposes^ there developed also a divergent interpretation of 
v/hether or not the GW was "winning the war." >?hen General KrulaJi^ SACSA^ 
and Joseph Mendenhall^ an ex«counselor in Saigon then at State^ visited 
RW in September I963, President Kennedy -^nryly asked upon receiving their 
conflicting reports^ "ibu two did visit the same country ^ didn't you?" 101/ 
The answer is that they had^ but the general stressed that the m,ilitary war 
was going well while the diplomat asserted that the political war was being 
lost. The arguraent was not^ it 'should be stressed, one between the generals 
and the diplomats; experienced diplomats disagreed fundamental]^ \dth 
Mendenhall. The disagreement was between those who pointed to signs of 
progress and those who held up examples of poor planning, corruption, a.nd 
alienation of the peasants whose loyalty was the object of the exercise. 
Criticisms ^" frequently accompanied by counterbalancing assertions that 
"lijuited progress" was being achieved .-« mentioned corvee labor, GW fail- 
ures to reimburse the farmers for losses due to resettlement, the dishonesty 
of some officials, and Diem's stress on exhortations rather than on the 
provision of desirable social services, 102 / 

Those who emphasized that the program, was sho-^^dng real progress -- 
usually mth a caveat or two that there was considerable room for Improve- 
ment — stressed statistical evidence to portray the exi^onential increase 
in strategic hamlet construction (Table 2), the declining trend in Viet 
Cong-initiated incidents (Table 3), therise in VC defections (Table 4), and 
the slow but steady increase in GVW control of rural areas (Table 5). 

The JCS observation \rith respect to the estaJ^lishment of strategic 
hamlets, for instance, was that since fewer than two tenths of one percent 
(0.2/0) of them had been overrun by the VC, "The Vietnamese people must 
surely be finding in them a m.easure of the tra.nquility which they seek. 103/ 

RGK Thompson later claimed that the ve3ry absence of attacks was 
an indicator that the VC had succeeded in infiltrating the hamlets o 10^/ 
The point is not Thom,pson^s prescience but the difficulty of reasoned 
assessment to which this analysis has already pointed. The U.S. course, 



30 



TOP SECRET - Sensitive 



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






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..( 



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VIET CONG DEFECTIONS 



400 ^ 



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I 




1962 



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NND Project Number: NND 63316. By: NWD Date: 201 1 



( ■ 



COMPARISON OF CONTROL;"GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM AND VIET CONG 
JULY. OCTOBER AND DECEMBER 1902, 
••■ AND APRIL 1963 ■ 



'* -* 



'\j 



( 



SITUATION 

AS OF 
1 JULY 1962 



SITUATION 

AS or 

I OCT 1962 



SITUATION 

AS or 

t DEC -1962 



SITUATION 

AS OF 
I APRIL 63 



CHANGES 

JUL 62 TO 

APRIL 63 



NUMBER OF 
VILLAGES 

RURAL 
POPULATION 

%Or RURAL 
POPULATION 



NUMBER or 
VILLAGES 

RURAL 
POPULATION 

% OF RURAL 
POPULATION 



NUMBER or 
VILLAGES 

RURAL 
POPULATION 

% OF RURAL 
POPULATION 



NUMBER OF 
VILLAGES 

RURAL 

POPULATION 

% or RURAL 
POPULATION 



NUMBER or 

VILLAGES 

RURAL 
POPULATION 

% or RURAL 
POPULATION 



.GOVERNMENT or 
VIETNAM EFFECTIVE 
CONTROL 



859 



5, 600. 000 



47% 



929 



6,071.000 



19% 



951 



6,300,000 



51% 



935 



6.724.000 



54% 



+ 76 



+ 924,000 



+ 7% 



GOVERNMENT OF 
VIETNAM IN 
ASCENDANCY 



710 



3,622.000 



29% 



613 



3, 246, 000 



27% 



666 



3.331,000 



27% 



73! 



3.356.000 



27%. 



+ 21 



-266. 000 



-2% 



NEITHER GOVERNMENT 
OF VIETNAM NOR 
VIET CONG CONTROL 



34 ■. • 



137.000 



1% 



148 



717.000 



6% 



120 



643.000 



■ 5% 



139 



609. 000 ■ 



5% 



+ 105 



+ 472, 000 



+ 4% 



VIET CONG 

IN 
ASCENDANCY 


VIET CONG 

EFFECTIVE 

COf-JTROL 


• 

422 


454 


1.702.000 
14% 


1. 157.000 
9% 


329 


437 


1.275.000 


1.008.000 


10% 


8% 


■ 


340 


445 


1. 143.000 
9% 


926.000 


8% 


34S 


390 


9C2. 000 


1 

' 657. 000 ■ 


- • 7% 


"'■'7% • 


-74 


-64 

-300. 000 
-2% 


-74G. OOO 


-7% 









I < 



. J 



N. ". . 



NOtt":" IN ORDER TO PRESENT A BETTER PICTURE OF CONTROL OF 
or RURAU vmTNAM, 1. 600, 000 POPULATION Or AUTONOMOUS 
-'CITIES OF SAIGCT4. DANANG. HUE. At-O DALAT UNDER GVN 
COfnROL WAS HOT USED IN THIS STUDY. (POPULATIONS ARE 



ESTIMATES) ■'•^^"--■'-^ "-- -^ •<-"- 



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in the face of these cautiously optimistic and hopefully pessimistic 
reports^ was to continue its established program of material support 
coupled Y^ith attempts to influence Diem to make desired changes. 

VII* TEE PATH TO TIIS EliD 

A. Diem'g Position Hardens 

The obvious U.S. alternatives, by mid"19b3;. remained the sailie 
as they vere in late I96I: (l) to induce changes vrithin the Strategic 
li'amlet Program (among others) by convincing Diem to make such changes- 

(2) to allow Diem to run things his o>:n vray and hope for the best^ and 

(3) to find an alternative to President Diem. The U.S. continued to > 
pursue the first course; Diem insisted increasingly on the second. 
Finally, due to press'ores from areas other than the Strategic Hamlet 
Program, the U.S. pursued the third alternative. The Strategic Hamlet 
Prograra, in the event, died vith its sponsors. 

Far from becoming more reasonable, in U.S. eyes, President 
Diem by mid- 1963 had become more intractable. He insisted, for example, 
that the U.S. cease to have an operational voice in the Strategic Hamlet 
Program. 1!he multiplication of U.S. advisors at many levels, he claimed, 
was the source of friction and dissension. The remedy ^^'as to remove the 
advisors. 10^/ The essence of Diem's position was that Taylor's 
"lianited partnership" would not work. 

. Other U.S. missions visited Vietnam to assess the conduct of 
the war. The result was much the same as reported by Krulak and 
Mendenhall. This was essentially the findings of the McKaniara-Taylor 
mission in September; the military campaign is progressing, political 
disaffection is growing; U.S. leverage is questionable. 106 / 

B. The Program Dies With the IT^os 

The rest may be summarized: the U.S. attempted to insist on 
a program with more emphasis on broad appeal rather than control; Diem, 
findixig himself increasingly embroiled in the Buddhist controversy, 
increased repressive measures; a coup toppled the Diem regime on 1 
KoveBiber; the deposed President and his brother llhu, "architect of the 
Strategic Hamlet Program," were killed. The Strategic Hamlet Program— 
or at least the program under that name which they had made the unifying 
theme of their counterinsurgent effort--died with them. The inhabitants 
who had wanted to leave the hamlets did so in the absence of an effective 
government. The VG took advantage of the confusion to attack and overrun 
others. Some off erred little or no resistance. The ruling 'junta 
attempted to resuscitate the program as "Kew Life Hamlets" early in I96U, 
but the failures of the past provided a poor psychological basis upon 
which to base hopes for the future. 



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VIII. M INCOI^CLUSIVE Sm^I/U^Y 

The dominant U.S. view has been that the Strategic Haialet Program 
failed because of over-expansion and the establishment of hsmlets in 
basically insecure areas. 10?/ That there vas overexpansion and the . 
establishinent of inany poorly defended hamlets is not questioned. ^This 
contributed, beyond doubt^ to the failure of the program. But this view 
finesses the problem of the process for \&i±ch the strategic hamlets ^vere 
but the tangible s:jnnbol. The present analysis has sought to emphasize 
both the essentially political nature of the objective of the Strategic 
'Hamlet Program and the political nature of the context in which the 
process evolved -- of expectations, bargaining^ and attempts to exert ^ 
influence on other participants in policy formulation and implementation. 
In this context it is the U.S. inability to exert leverage on President 
Diem (or Diem's inability to reform) that emerges as the principal cause 
of failure. 

Yet, both of these attempts to pinpoint the reasons why the 
strategic hamlet program did not succeed fail to get at another whole 
issue: the validity of that body of writings which one may call the 
theory and doctrine of counterinsurgency. ITeither the military nor 
the political aspects of this doctrine can be upheld (or proved false) 
by an examination of the Strategic Kamlet Program. Quite aside from 
f whether or not Diem was able to broaden the program's appeal to the 

peasantry, what would have occurred had he made a determined and 
sustained effort to do so? V?ould this have led in some more-or-less 
direct way to stability or to even greater dissatisfaction? V;e simply 
do not know. The question is as unanswerable as whether tlie appetite 
grows with the eating or is satisfied by it. The contention here is 
that claims of mismanagement are not sufficient to conclude that better 
management would necessarily have produced the desired results. 

- In the military sphere the unanswerable questions are different. 
It is said that the military phase of the Strategic Kamlet ^ lYogram 
progressed reasonably well in many areas; the failure was in the political 
end of the process. But did the military actions succeed? Might failures 
to develop adequate intelligence and to weed out VC infrastruc care m 
these hamlets not as easily be attributable to' the fact that the 
inhabitants knew they were not really safe from VC intimidation and 
reprisals? Does the analogy to an "oil spot" have operational meaning 
when sruall bands can carry out hit and run raids or when many small ^ 
bands can concentrate in one location and achieve siu-prise? Where is 
the key to this vicious circle -- or is there a key? 

In conclusion, while the abortive Strategic Kamlet Program of 
1961-1963 may teach one something, the available record does not permit 
one to conclude either that the program fell because of the failure of 
a given phase or that other phases were, in fact, adequate to the 
challenge. One may say that the program was doomed by poor execution 
and by the inability of the ilgo family to reform coupled with the in- 
ability of the U.S. to induce them to refonii. The evidence does not 
warrant one to proceed further. 

' 36 

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lY. B. 2 



FOO^^IOTES 



■» ■ ^ 



1. Sir Robert Thompson^ D efeati ng, C oEimmiist Insurgency (Kew York: 
Praeger, I966), p. 123. . ■ 

2. Seven Years of the ITgo D inli Diem AcM jJiistra tion, 19 3^L-J:96l 
(Saigon: 26 October l^oll, pp. 357-3^0. 



3. See 

Are 



J J.J. Lasloff, " Rural Resettlerosnt in South Vietnff nj__Tii3 
■■oville Program " , Pacific Affairs, Vol. XXXV^, Kr n- (Win-ce 
1952-63), PP. 327-3^0. 



k. Despatch, Saigon to State Er 278, 7 March I960, Iiitelligence 

Eo-i:>ort Ir 2137251, 7.^. ik (s/HF) 

, *■' 1 " ■!■■— ■-■T — * ■■■'■■■■■■'■■ "^ "*" 

5. William A. Kighswmger, Rural PacifiGation _in. Vlctnsjn (Nev? York: 
Praeger, I966), p. 46. 

6. Si^IIE 10-Jt-6l, 7 November 1961, P robable Coim miigtjteactions in 
South Vietnara, p. 3 (TS) 



7. Brie 
Di 



riefing Paper, n.rl.. The Korth Vietnej nese Rol eJji_theJ3jagin, 
Irection, and Su-oport of t he War in South Vietnaia, p. iv {S) ; 
State Departiuent Bureau of Intelligence .and Research, RFE-3, 
1 November lOol^ Coinmunist Threat Mounts in South Vietnsjin, 

p. 4 (s) 

8. Ibid . 3 p. 5 

9. NIE 50-^61, 28 March 1961^ Outlook in Mairagi^^Soirtjga^t^^^ 
p. T (S) 

10. MAAG, Vietnaia, 1 September I96I, Fi^stJ^fe]^^ 
Chiex' KMG, Vietnajn , p. 10 (S) 

11. U;S. Senate Camriiittee on Foreign Relations^ 89th Congress^ 
2nd Session^ Backgr o -jr>d In formation Rela-tog_to_So}jtljga 

and Vietngjn (2nd Revised EdTJ^ V3.sh±nB'^<)r., GPO^ 19^6, pp. c)6"T. 

12. Letter of Traismittal to President Diem end President Kennedy, 
n.Q. (June I961), Joint Action Progrej.i P roposed by the _ Viet Eajn. 
United States Special Financial Groups (S) 

13. See Ibid. ^ Introduction^ p. 1^ passim ^ 



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Letter^ President Kennedy to General Max\-/ell D. Taylor^ 13 October 
1951 (C) 

Report on General Taylor ^s Mission to SouthJ/ietn8,m^ 3 November 
1961^ borad in loose' leaf vitli letter'of trcinsinittal, evaluations 
and conclusions^ and Appendices A-I, (TS) Cited hereafter as 
Tnvlor ReiDort. All references are to tbe section on evaluations 
and conclusions. . . 



16. Ibid . J p. 2 

17. Ibid ., p. 3 
13. Ibid ., p. 8 

19 • ™^'^ PP- 6"T. 

20. Ibid ., p. 9 

21. Ibid., p. 7 

22. Ibid ., p. Ik 



23. 

2k. 

25. 



Poid . , See also pp. 11 -lo. 
Ibid., pp. 11-12 



The plan, cited hereafter as CrP-196o, is contained as axi inclosure 
to Despatch ITr. 276, Saigon to State, k Januar;y' I96I; Covaater 
Insurgencj^ Plan for So'iith Vietnam. (S) 

^■M fl »■ J I *■ ■ ■!!> ■! fc'l"! ■ ■ P — H IB^ ■! ■■!■ ■ ■ — II I ■■■^■^^- I flPP^ »»■! P'«-*l JPPjfcl Jil l 

26. Despatch ITr. 276^ Saigon to State, op. cit . , p. 3 

27. See for example. Ibid., Annex 3. 

28. MAAG Vietnam, 15 September I961, Georgrap hically Pha^Jfetional 
Level Operation Plar. for Co uJiterins urgengyTc) (Secret), cited 
hereafter as Georgra-ohiically Phased Coia^terins urgency Plan . 

29.. Ibid . , pp. A1«A3. 

30. Ibid. , pp. A3-A4. 

31. Ibid.,, pp. Ali--A7. 

32. Ibid., p.C2. 



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"« *■ 



33. Soe^ for example^ Telegrco-a^ Saigon to State I^Tr. l466^ l6 March 
IQol (S), 8Jid"Aide Memoire, McGarr to Dien^ 3 July I96I, Hevievr 
of Milit'ary Situation and Eecoirjuendations fo r Continued Improvement (s). 



— ■■ I I ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ * ■ 



k. Telegram^ Saigon to State, ITr. 508, I8 October I96I (S). 



35. Study^ HGK Thompson to President Diem, 2? October I90I, Appreciation 
of Vietnam, ITovember I 96I -April ig6g (S), Incl. to letter Lt. Gen. 
Lionel C, McGarr to Secretary of Defense, 20 ITovember 19ol^ SecDef 
Control I'Tr. 2G^k (s). 

36. Ibid. 

37- Ibid. 

38. Copies of Thompson's covering letter' and m.ejnorandiirn to Diem are 
.-.enclosed mt>rmsg, Saigon to State; Er. 205; 20 liiovember I96I, 
Thompson Mission Recoir aT iendations to Presiden t Diem (S). The 
memorandi:jn is cited hereafter as Thompson Memorandum. 

39. Ibid. 

».■■ » " .1 I'M, - 

i{-0. Ibid., letter of transmittal. (Emphasis added). ' 

111. Letter, McGarr to Admiral H.D. Felt (CE-ICPAC), 27 November I96I 

(S), Incl. to letter, McGarr to Secretaiy of Defense, 27 November 
1961, op» cit. 

k2. Ibid. 
if3. Ibid. 

kk. U.S. Militar-y Advisoiy Group, CH-iAAG Guidance Paper to Pield 

Advisors in Coxnrte.T Insurgency, Fourth Revision, 10 Februaiy I962, 
Tac tics and Techniques of Co uxiterinsurge nt Operations (S) 

45. Despatch ITr. 205, Sa,igon to State, 20 Hoveraber 19^1; op. cit. 

46. D-partment of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, 

2 February I962, A Strate gic Coiicept for South Vietnam (s); 
on the President's interest and Thompson's effect on Hilsma^a^ 
see Roger Plilsman, To Move a l?atior^ _The^Politics of Foreign 
-- " ■ *' •' •Policy in the Admiiiistrati on of Job^- F. Kennedy ^ new York: 
Doubledsy ,'1967), pTdT ^27 -39 . 



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hi. 



50. 
51. 



52. 



53. 



5h. 



55. 
56. 



57 



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A Strategic Concept I'or^ Sout h Vietnam, op_. cit , , pp. 9~l'^. 
The third principle i's Hilsmsri's owii contribution, drawing 
heavily on his personal experiences with the OSS during 
World War II. 



i^8. 'ibid., pp. 15-19. 
k9. Ibid., pp. 15 ^-2l^. 



Ibid,, p. 9 

Department of State^ Task Force Vietnsan^ ih December 196l_, 
Status Report of Developments Sirce Decemb er 8 ^ p. 3 (S) 

HQCraCPAC, l6 December I961, Transcript, Fir st Secretary of 
Defense Conference, pp. 1-2 (S) ^ 

Personal notes of Assistant Secretar^^ of Defense Arthur Sylvester, 
16 December 1961, SecDef Conference, Honolulu. 

Memoranduju, McGarr to Mr. Thus2i, I8 December 19^1^ Civi^,, Covernment 
Paxamj.lit-ary Infrastructure ( Or gan! z a-U.on)_gequire£_^£^ Integrate^ 
P?:r-rof Military Phase of Pacification Effort (sj^ 

Ibid. 

"— — ■ — • — . . 

The GW plan and actions are not well ddcujnented but are referred 
to in U.S. UkliQ Vietnam Report, 31 July I962, i^esso^^is^J^efm]^ 
Nr. 19. 

John C. Donnell and Gerald C. Hickey, Th^J/i^tnamese^J^trat^^ 
Hamlets:" A Preliminary Report (RAND Memoraxidum Wi 320b -ARPA, 
30 August 1962), p. 2^ (C). 



58. Letter McGarr to Pelt, iB December I96I, op. cit_. 

59. HQCMCPAC, 15 Januarjr 1952, Record of Second Sec retary of Defense ' 
Co rif e r enc e , pp. 5A-1 - 5A--3 JsJ~ 

60. Ibid., pp. 6-1 - 6-5. 

61. Department of State, Research Project 63O, ^QriX^Merlc&n^V^^ 
and Diplomacy Concerning Vietnam, 1960-1963 ^ P. 99 (^''8) 

62. Telegraxa, Saigon to Sts,te, Kr. 1031^ 10 February 19^2 (S). 

63. Donnell and Kickey, op. clt., pp. 3-^;-. 



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Gh. Ibid,, p. \. 

65. Department of State, Task Porce Vietneiu, 28 December I96I, Status 
ReT)ort of Developraents Since December 21, p. 2 (S), 

4 ■ 

66. Ibid., p. 3. 

67. Telegram, Saigon to State Nr. ^95^ I6 October I961 (S). 

The UoS. proposals are recorded in National Security Action 
Memorariduin No. Ill, 22 ITovember 1961, First Phase of Vietnejn 
Program (TS) . 

■ II ■ I ■ r I 

G^. Telegrcm^ Saigon to State' Er. 687^ 22 November I9SI (S). . , 

TO. Ibid . •., ■ " . . 

71. Telegrojtn, Saigon to State Kr. 708, 25 November I961 (S). 

72. Telegrain^ CAS New Delhi to Director Ko 99^1^ ^^o'" Ambassador 
Galbraitii for the President, 21 November I96I (TS). 

73. See Homer C. Bigart, " VietnaineseOpen a Drive o n_Reds," New 
York Times 29 March I962 . ~~ 

ih. Telegram Saigon to State Nr. 1367, 22 Mcly I962 (S), 

75. Telegram, Saigon to State Nr. 133^ 8 August 19^2 (c); Airgrams,^^ 
Saigon to State, Krs. A-85 and A~110, 9 August and 27 August I962 (C). 

76. "The Times of Vietnam, "Vol IV, Nr \'i, 28 October I962. 

77. Ibid,, p. 6. ■ 

78. Ru.fus Phillips, A Report on Counter --Ir^sjargency^ 
31 August 1962, p. 5 Cc). 

79. See for example, De-oartment of State, Bureau of Intelligence and 
Research Research MemorandujJi RPE..27; l8 June 19^2, P£0£E5^^.-5ai9£i 
on South Vietnajn (sAlP), 

80. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Research 
Memoranduju RPE-62, 5 December I962, Saigon^s Strategic Concept for 
Counter "Insurgency a Progress Report (S/iCf'j. 



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I 81. Visit to Southeast Asia by the Secretaxy^of^DeTense^, 8---11 Maylgfe, 

57^^"Tt§77 Inclosure to Memo, CJCS to SecDefTT^May 19^2, Visit 
to Southeast Asia. 

82. Vie tnam; ?ree -World CliallengG in Southeast Asia (Department of State 
.Publication T338)^ pp. 16-^17. . 

83. Remarks to press, 2l| July I962, in OSD Historical Files. 

8^. Homer C. Bigart, ^^US Helps Vietnen in Test of Strategy" IJew 
York Times , 27 March I962. 

IS ' * ' 

85. Ibid . . . ■ • .• 

86. "No \l±n," The Nev Rep ublic , 9 April I962. 

87. US I/IAAG, 31 July I962, Lessons Learned Nr. 19, P- 2. (c). 

Visit to Soy.thea-,st Asia by the Secretaryof Defensj^j:;3J__May_1962, 
op. cit .j p. 2 

89 Buream of Intelligence and Research, RFE^27; l8 June 1962, op. cit. 
'^ 90. MAAG Lessons Learned Fr. 19, op. cit . 

91. C0I4US]/iAGV lless8^e DA IN 262596, 8 September I962, Province 
Rehabilitation Program (S). 



o 



■■>- ■' » «- 



92. I-IAAG, Lessons Learned l\^r. I9 , op. cit. 

93. Theodore J.C. Ee8,vTLer, Deputy Director Working Group Vietnam; 
Report on Visit to Vietnam, October l8"Kovember^_26^jL9H2;» P- ^ (S) 

9l|.- Michael, V. Porrestal, Memorandum for the President, A_Repoi;t_on 
South Vietnam. • ' _ 

95. Hilsmaai, To Move a Iva^tion , op. cit . ^ p. ^53* 

96-. Visit to Southeast Asia by t he Secretary of Defense, 8-11 May I962 , 
op . cit. 

97. Memo, ASD/iSA to SecDef, 9 August I962, Fundln^of_Stx^ 
Kits, Vietnam. 

98. See, for example, JCSM 73^-62, 22 Septem.ber 19^2, Funding of 
Strategic Hamlet ICits, Vietnam. 

j^a-Ti,i-. — -■ -■,■■ ■- -J.. -. .-■ . ^ ^ ^ - _ 



l!-2 

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1^ 



<^^. CIA M5.BO for SecDef, 28 September 19o2 (S). 

100. Depajrtment of State, Burea;a of Intelligence srtd Research^ RFE-42^ 
27 May 1963, lEiplications of GW Difficulties in Vietnam (s). 

101. Eilsrnan^, To Move a Nation , op. cit . ^ p. 502. 

102. See^ for example^ USOM Rural Affairs Office^ 1 Septem"ber 19^3^ 
Second Inforraal Appreci ation of the Sta tus of th e Strategic 
fej alet Pr ogrsm, Incl. to Manioraji-duan^ Michael V. Forrestal to 
Secretary Mcj^laniaraj 20 September 1963^ Vietnam^ S'JcDef Control 
Nr. i|97. 

103. Joint Chiefs of Staff ^ 11 May I963, Trends in the Counterinsurgency 
Effort in South Vietnam, p. 60 (S/Fif^TT" 

10^. Thompson, Defeatin g Co mir.ur:ist Insurgency ^ ^, cit . ^ p. I36. 

105. Department of State, 'W^.A?.^ 27 May I963, op. c it . 

106. Memorsn.dum for the President, 2 October 19o3, Report of the 
McIIgmara-Taylor Mission to South Vietnam (TS). 

107. See, for example, Depajrtment of State, Bureau of Intelligence and 
Research, RFE-102, 20 December 19o3, Trends in the War Effort i n 
South Vietnam (S): See also William A. Nighswi'^nger, Rural Pacification 
in Vietnam. 



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