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kks.&my k?ilmyHistoryPrastitute
REPORT ON THE WAR IN
VIETNAM
(AS OF 30 JUNE 1968)

REPORT ON AIR AND NAVAL CAMPAIGNS AGAINST


NORTH VIETNAM AND PACIFIC COMMAND-WIDE
SUPPORT OF THE WAR
JUNE 1964-JULY 1968
BY

ADMIRAL U. S. G. SHARP, USN


COMMANDER IN CHIEF PACIFIC

Section II
REPORT ON OPERATIONS IN SOUTH VIETNAM
JANUARY 1964-JUNE 1968
BY

GENERAL W. C. WESTMORELAND, USA


COMMANDER, U.S. MILITARY ASSISTANCE
COMMAND, VIETNAM
PREFACE

This is a report on the Vietnam War by Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp,


Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC), and General William C. West-
moreland, Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Viet-
nam (COMUSMACV). It covers events up to 30 June 1968.
Because of security considerations for military operations still underway
in Vietnam, classified information on the war has not been included. This
does not detract significantly from the report’s usefulness as a record of the
struggle against Communist aggression in South Vietnam.
The report is in four parts: CINCPAC’s account of the air and naval
campaign against North Vietnam, Pacific Command-wide efforts in support
of the war, COMUSMACV’s command account of the war in South Vietnam,
and a prologue that welds the other three parts together.
More comprehensive but classified reports are prepared annually by
CINCPAC and COMUSMACV for official use. These reports are available
only on a “need to know” basis, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
The present report will serve in the interim as an additional current reference
on the Vietnam War.
My viewpoint of the war in Vietnam is conditioned first of all by the
comprehensive nature of CINCPAC’s responsibilities in the entire Pacific and
Asian area. As CINCPAC, I was responsible for all United States military
operations-naval, ground, and air-in this entire region. Therefore, while
Vietnam has been the focal point of our military effort in the Pacific Com-
mand, I have, by command necessity, viewed that conflict against the broader
perspective of United States national interests throughout the area.
Our operations in Vietnam have been conducted to block Communist
aggression in Southeast Asia, but this aggression is only the most visible por-
tion of the Communist threat to United States security interests in the Pacific.
Less obvious components of the total Communist threat are manifested by the
provocative actions of North Korea, the mounting pressures of the North
Vietnamese presence in Laos and Cambodia, and the rising level of Communist
inspired insurgency in Thailand and Burma. These situations have required
careful and continuing evaluation to insure the most efficient allocation of
available resources in the Pacific Command to conduct the war in Vietnam
and, at the same time, the protection of vital United States interests in an area
stretching from the Bering Sea in the north to the eastern Indian Ocean in
the south.
To meet the pervasive Communist threat, CINCPAC and his Pacific Com-
mand Service component commanders and subordinate unified commanders
have developed a vast and complex support structure to provide the basis for
Southeast Asia operations and continued United States operations in other
areas. This support structure is necessary for the deployment of Free World
forces to South Vietnam and provides a readiness posture to assure an adequate
and flexible response to any threat to United States vital interests.
During the period covered by this report, the war in Vietnam has been
the major part of the total CINCPAC effort to protect vital United States
interests in the Pacific, and of the total national effort to protect American
interests throughout the world.
The successof our efforts in Vietnam and throughout the Pacific has been
dependent to a large degree upon the outstanding support and cooperation of
an array of commands and agencies external to the Pacific Command. This
report does not detail the extent of their participation but due recognition must
be given their significant contribution to the total effort involved.

LQ!!--+y
U. S. G. SHARP

ii
COMMANDSTRUCTURE

Commander in Chief
Pacific

Commander in Chief Commander in Chief Commander in Chief


Pacific Air Forces

Commander
Commander
U S Military
U S Military Commander Commander
Assistance Command,
Assistance Taiwan U S Forces
Thailand/
Command, Defense
Joint U S Military Japan
Vietnam Command
Advisory Group,
Thailand

Chief,
Chief, Chief,
Military Chief,
Military Joint U S
Assistance Defense
Equipment Military
Advisory Group, liaison Group,
Delivery Team, Advisory Group,
Republic of Indonesia
Burma Philippines
China

...
111
CONTENTS

SECTION I Page

Preface................. i

Command Structure.. 111

Prologue...... 1

Air and Naval Campaigns Against North Vietnam. 11


Air and Naval Actions Against North Vietnam-1965. 14
Inception of ROLLING THUNDER Operations. 16
ROLLING THUNDER Operations-1966. 23
ROLLING THUNDER Operations-1967. 31
ROLLING THUNDER Operations--January through March 1968 44
Curtailment of ROLLING THUNDER Operations 47
Naval Surface Operations 49
Effects of ROLLING THUNDER. 53
Pacific Command-Wide Efforts in Support of the War 55

SECTION II
COMUSMACV Report on Operations in South Vietnam 69
PROLOGUE

Every war has its own distinctive features. The ported before, nor revelations not previously ex-
Vietnam War has been characterized by an invad- pressed. Our goals, our efforts to meet them, our
ing army that denied its own existence, by guerrilla achievements, and our reversals are all part of the
fighters who lived among the people they threat- public record.
ened, by the employment of highly sophisticated The weapons in this war have ranged from
modern Communist weapons systems, and by care- sharpened bamboo sticks through the entire spec-
fully controlled limitations on the activities of trum of modern conventional weapons. Through
American field commanders imposed less by the an evolutionary growth reaching astounding pro-
capabilities of their own forces and weapons than portions, the war has had one underlying theme-
by considerations of international politics. North Vietnam, supported by world Communist
For over 20 years South Vietnam has fought to interests, has maintained a fierce determination to
preserve its freedom against unremitting, ruthless take over the government and people of South
aggression. The aggression has been no less real Vietnam, at whatever cost in lives or material. The
for the fact that it has been by Vietnamese against Communists initially attempted to gain control by
Vietnamese and by techniques of subversion, in- subversive method-simple terrorism and assassi-
filtration, terror, and attack rather than overt inva- nation. When those techniques met strong resist-
sion on the classic pattern. The military effort ance, Hanoi applied all of its resources and all of
which we and our allies have mounted in assist- the aid it could accommodate from its allies, resort-
ance to our Vietnamese ally has been one of con- ing to overt aggression. This report will sketch the
stant innovation in resistance to a form of attack profile of this Communist aggression and outline
new in our experience. what we have done to counter it.
In one way this war has not differed from others. The United States had no desire to become in-
The tests of battle have been met by our fighting volved in a war in Asia. One reason we did fiat
men with unsurpassed dedication and courage, send troops to Indochina at the end of World War
upholding the finest traditions of our military II to support the French effort to regain control
services. was that we did not want to help reinstate a colo-
The Vietnam War has had the most intense press nial authority. The indigenous anti-French resist-
coverage and has been the most thoroughly docu- ance, which began in late 1946, was not just a na-
mented, most centrally controlled, most computer- tionalist movement, although it sometimes took
ized, and most statistically analyzed in history. This that guise. The Viet Minh had been organized in
was due in part to the necessity to measure the 1941 as a coalition of various groups-Democrats,
progress of a war in which there were no clearly Socialists, Communists, and other less well-defined
drawn battle lines-no front, no safe rear. Because sections of the independence movement. Its orga-
so much has been publicized about the war, this nization was dominated by the Communists, led
report contains no accounts that have not been re- by Ho Chi Minh who had been trained in Moscow.

1
The war in Korea later proved to the world the States, on 10 October 1954 offered “to assist the
seriousness of the threat of Asian Communism and Government of Vietnam in developing and main-
in the early 1950’s,after the Viet Minh had revealed taining a strong, viable state, capable of resisting
itself as an instrument of communism, the United attempted subversion or aggression through mili-
States, therefore, started sending more military aid tary means” in the lioyx “that such aid, combined
to France for use against the Communist Viet with . . . continuing ctforts. will contribute effec-
Minh. tively toward an independent Vietnam endowed
GENEVA-1954 with a strong government.” Our involvement
stems from this commitment.
Despite this aid, France’s attempt to reinstate
colonial rule in Indochina was already failing
DETERIORATION OF THE SITUATION IN
when the United States, Great Britain, the USSR,
SOUTH VIETNAM
and France met in Geneva in 1954. They sought a
political settlement in Korea and a truce in Indo- North Vietnam hoped that the newly formed
china. In May while the conference was in prog- South Vietnamese Government would, if given
ress, General Vo Nguyen Giap and his Viet Minh enough time, fall of its own accord. The Hanoi
forces defeated the besieged French forces at Dien leaders were ready to step into the resulting politi-
Bien Phu and with this defeat the French decided cal void and reap a cheap victory. Such was not to
to leave Indochina. be the case, however, for in the years immediately
At Geneva, agreement was reached to partition following the cessation of hostilities the Republic
Vietnam near the 17th Parallel with a provisional of Vietnam, beset though it was with problems,
demarcation line cushioned by a demilitarized made steady if unspectacular progress.
zone. Neither North nor South Vietnam was to in- The Geneva Accords called for national elections
terfere with the internal affairs of the other. Elec- in both parts of Vietnam. But in 1956 the Saigon
tions to reunify the two parts were to be held with- government refused to hold elections in South
in two years of the signing. Vietnam on the grounds that elections in North
Of great importance was the agreement banning Vietnam under the Communists would not guar-
the introduction of new troops and weapons or the antee the voters a free choice.
establishment of new military bases. The man- Hanoi had not anticipated this and now set
power and materiel already in Vietnam could be about to gain control of the South by other means.
replaced but not augmented, according to the The Viet Minh had left many cadres in the South
treaty. Neighboring Laos and Cambodia were in 1954. Under Hanoi’s orders, they were or-
barred from military alliances, and foreign basesin ganized into a political-paramilitary organization.
either country were prohibited. All Viet Minh and In 1960 the Central Committee of the Lao Dong
French troops were to be withdrawn from both Party, the Communist Party of North Vietnam,
countries. To enforce the terms of the armistice, a passed a resolution that South Vietnam was to be
three-country International Control Commission “liberated” and that North and South Vietnam
was created. were to be unified under a “progressive socialist”
The United States and Vietnam did not sign the administration.
Geneva Accords, but endorsed them in principle The Hanoi radio then announced the formation
and adhered to them in action until Communist in South Vietnam of the National Front for the
violations had emptied them of meaning and ren- Liberation of South Vietnam, a front which Hanoi
dered the International Control Commission pow- claimed was made up of several political parties of
erless. South Vietnamese. Subsequent Hanoi broadcasts
President Eisenhower, speaking for the United identified a “People’s Revolutionary Party” as the

‘-
leading party in this so-called front. It is significant Regulars was needed to bring about the defeat of
that no announcement of this came out of South the South.
Vietnam, and no nationally-known South Viet- The troops left their North Vietnamese training
namese figure was ever identified with any of the bases for what was often a clandestine journey of
political parties, which were on paper only, men- many months along the trails through Laos and
tioned by the Hanoi radio. Cambodia (a trail system named for their Presi-
Now the insurgent effort was infused with new dent, Ho Chi Minh) or infiltrated the zone which
cadres from the North-South Vietnamese who had been “demilitarized” at Geneva. They often
went, or were taken, North after the 1954 armistice. remained in areas across the South Vietnamese
The new organization, referred to as the Viet border, where they were safe from South Viet-
Cong, talked of land reform, a benevolent social- namese forces, until they were ready to invade.
ism, freedom from taxes, and the evils of Amer- Although the Geneva Accords prohibited the pres-
ican capitalistic influence. In some areas the Viet ence of foreign troops in Laos or Cambodia, this
Cong were accepted by the people and the organi- clid not inhibit the Communists.
zation established local councils. Where the people Arrivals of United States advisors requested by
rejected the Viet Cong, terrorism and armed at- the government of South Vietnam were an-
tack were applied. nounced on the front pages of the world’s news-
All the while, the Viet Cong were strengthen- papers. Movement of the Communist forces was
ing their organization, acquiring arms and experi- made secretly under cover of night and the jungle.
ence. A cold-blooded campaign of elimination of The arrival of the Communists and their increas-
local and national government officials, doctors, illgly advanced weapons &en could not be de-
tected until they were met in battle.
school teachers, and public health workers was
For this reason, facts regarding troop escalation
instituted. This campaign, and the turbulent situa-
lagged behind the estimates. We were able to
tion within the Saigon government, left the coun-
estimate rates of infiltration, however, and found
try weakened.
continuing increases. Until mid-1964 the majority
The overthrow and assassination of the coun- of the infiltrees were ethnic South Vietnamese
try’s first President, Ngo Dinh Diem, in late 1963 members of the Viet Minh who had regrouped
was the prelude to a series of rapidly changing to the North after the 1954 cease-fire. In late 1964
governments. Internal ethnic and religious dif- the number of infiltrators began to increase greatly
ferences were exacerbated-often by the Commu- as regular North Vietnamese soldiers began to be
nists-and plagued the country during these years. introcluced. Ry the end of 1964 a minimum of
One consistent factor, however, was that all lead- 12,000 North Vietnamese had been infiltrated, in-
ers of the various governments asked for increasing cluding the first North Vietnamese Army regi-
military assistancefrom the United States,for they ment to come as a unit. In the ensuing years large
knew that without it their country could not sur- unit infiltrations have been the rule. As of June
vive against the determined efforts of North Viet- 1968 we estimate that more than 300,000 North
nam to take over South Vietnam. Vietnamese troops have entered South Vietnam.
The Communists exploited the confusion in
THE COMMUNIST AID PROGRAM
South Vietnam whenever they could. Still, the in-
surgents in the South, despite their support from North Vietnam could not have supported such
the North, were not able to gain full control of a military effort alone. During the period 1954
the country. In 1964 Hanoi decided that the in- through 1967, assistance to North Vietnam from
troduction of battle-ready North Vietnamese Army other Communist countries totaled some $2.9 bil-

3
lion, most of which came from the USSR. Annual light antiaircraft artillery; but some MIG-17 jet
aid agreements with the USSR, Communist China, fighters have been provided.
North Korea, Mongolia, Rumania, Bulgaria, and In the early stages of the war the enemy was
Cuba have underscored Hanoi’s heavy dependence handicapped by weapons and ammunition short-
on this outside aid, both to maintain essential pro- ages and he relied often on homemade and cap-
duction and services and to support the war in tured items. Today there is an abundance of the
South Vietnam. latest models from the Communist conventional
Russia has equipped North Vietnam with about weapons arsenals.
35 surface-to-air missile battalions and has sup-
plied a sophisticated communications and radar SOUTH VIETNAM REQUESTS OUTSIDE
network, numerous aircraft (including IL-28 ASSZSTANCE
jet light bombers and MIG-15, MIG-17, and South Vietnam has also relied on massive ex-
MIG-21 fighter planes), and large quantities of ternal aid, from the United States and many other
antiaircraft weapons. All of these weapons con- countries. In December 1961 South Vietnam sent
tributed to establishing the most sophisticated air an urgent appeal to President Kennedy for imme-
defense system ever faced by any force in combat. diate further help. The President agreed to in-
In addition, the USSR has supplied North Viet- crease our military assistance. The political and
nam with modern ground force equipment such military situation, however, continued to deteri-
as 122- and 140-mm rockets, 120-mm mortars, and orate. North Vietnam became emboldened by the
130-mm field guns. eroding situation and misjudged American deter-
Priority attention has been given to North Viet- mination. American naval ships on patrol in the
nam’s transportation system. The USSR has sup- Gulf of Tonkin were involved in clashes with
plied not only a large portion of the vehicles North Vietnamese torpedo boats on 2 and 4 Au-
needed to move supplies south, but also the road gust 1964, which led to approval of the Joint
construction equipment needed to keep existing Congressional Resolution of 7 August 1964-the
roads serviceable and to build new military roads Tonkin Resolution-which not only approved
in North Vietnam, Laos, and Viet Cong controlled retaliatory attacks but also stated that:
areas of South Vietnam. In addition, the USSR I‘. . . the Congress approves and supports the
has supplied railroad equipment, barges, bridge determination of the President, as Commander-
in-Chi’ef, to take all necessary measures to repel
equipment, and petroleum for North Vietnam’s any Lrrrned attack against the forces of the
transportation system. United States and to prevent further aggres-
Communist China’s percentage of total aid has sion. . . . The United States regards as vital to
its national interest and to world peace the main-
declined steadily since 1965. Such aid was signifi- tenanle of international peace and security of
cant, however, and has included the rehabil- Southeast Asia. Consonant with the Constitution
and the Charter of the United Nations, and in
itation and development of North Vietnam’s accordance with its obligations under the South-
railways, highways, and communications facilities, east Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United
reconstruction and improvement of irrigation sys- States is, therefore, prepared, as the Pl.esident
determines, to tate all necessasy steps, including
tems, and construction of heavy and light indus- the use of armed force, to assist any member
trial facilities. In 1966 it was reported that 40,000 or p1*otoco2 state of the Southeast Asia Collective
Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense
Chinese were being used in North Vietnam for
of its freedom .”
road and rail maintenance and other repair work.
By early 1968 this figure had grown to 50,000. UNITED STATES COMMITMENT OF
Some personnel were also believed to be in anti- FORCES
aircraft units. Military equipment from China con- During January and February 1965 the general
tinues to be mostly small arms, ammunition, and situation in South Vietnam continued to worsen,
the military threat increased, political tensions in Each of the troop-contributing member nations
Saigon deepened, and morale plummeted. It be- of SEATO declared publicly that its support of
came increasingly apparent that the existing levels South Vietnam was as a result of, and in accord-
of United States aid could not prevent the collapse ance with, its obligations under the SEATO Treaty.
of South Vietnam. Even as deliberations on how The United Kingdom and France, though not con-
best to deal with the situation were in progress tributing troops, contributed money, medical aid,
within our government, the Viet Cong launched technical assistance, and other forms of help.
a series of attacks on American installations in The government of South Vietnam did not
South Vietnam. These attacks indicated that North make a formal request for assistance from the Or-
Vietnam was moving in for the kill. It appeared ganization per se. Rather, such requests were made
that they would succeed, perhaps in a matter of directly to each member nation individually. Sig-
months, as things were developing. Acting on the nificantly, all SEATO member nations, in one way
request of the South Vietnamese government, the or another and in varying degrees, assisted the
decision was made to commit as soon as possible South Vietnamese in their defense against Com-
125,000 United States troops to prevent the Com- munist terrorism and aggression.
munist takeover. At the same time President John-
son indicated that additional forces would be sent FREE WORLD ASSISTANCE TO SOUTH
as requested by the Republic of Vietnam and the VIETNAM
Commander of the United States Military Assist- In April 1964 President Johnson urged all the
ance Command, Vietnam. nations of the Free World to come to the assistance
As the need increased and as North Vietnam
of South Vietnam. South Vietnam itself made
moved in more of its own troops, requests for addi-
formal requests to certain nations for assistance.
tional United States troops followed. By Decem-
In response, nonmilitary assistancefrom 39 coun-
ber 1965 we had about 184,000 troops in Vietnam.
tries other than the United States totaled $55 mil-
The year of greatest buildup was 1966, when our
lion from April 1964 to June 1968. Most of those
strength more than doubled. Increases have since
been at a slower rate but have continued. nations preferred to provide civic action and med-
ical assistance rather than active military participa-
SOUTHEAST ASIA TREATY tion.
ORGANIZATION REACTION Prior to April 1964 Australia was the only na-
The SEATO Council and the Military Advisers, tion other than the United States to supply military
at each of their regular meetings since April 1964, assistance. In 1962 Australia furnished a 30-man
condemned the Communist aggression and Hanoi- Army training team and in August 1964 aug-
directed subversion of South Vietnam. The com- mented this team with an aviation detachment. In
muniquts following these meetings have become May 1965 Australia agreed to send a task force to
progressively stronger in this regard. Each of the South Vietnam and Australian forces there now
meetings was an occasion for the council to ex- total about 7,500 men.
press its appreciation for the contributions from In July 1964 New Zealand furnished a military
Free World nations assisting the South Vietnam- engineer team and in May 1965 decided to replace
ese. The council further evinced its interest and this detachment with a combat force. New Zealand
growing concern, -as well as support, for South forces in 1968 totaled over 500.
Vietnam, a SEATO Protocol State, by encourag- Other than the United States the nation SUP-
ing increasing participation in its meetings by the plying the greatest assistance to the Republic of
South Vietnamese observer. Vietnam is the Republic of Korea. By the end of

5
1965,20,620 Korean troops were in South Vietnam lar support. Such a government could not be
and those forces now total approximately 50,000. created in an environment dominated by Com-
By the end of 1965 Thailand and the Republics munist terrorism. The Viet Cong and the North
of the Philippines and China also had given aid Vietnamese Army occupied large parts of the
in the form of noncombatant personnel to act in country and subjected large areas to armed attacks
either advisory or civic action roles. In addition, and acts of terrorism and assassination. These acts
Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the Federal Re- were most often directed at the representatives of
public of Germany, and many other nations were government in provinces, villages, and hamlets
contributing economic and technical assistance to throughout the countryside, the government offi-
South Vietnam, including many nonmilitary cidls most closely associated with the people.
advisors and technicians. The United States’ military goal was to provide
In December 1966 a Royal Thai Government a secure environment in which the citizens could
decision to assist in the ground war in Vietnam live and in which all levels of legal government
received enthusiastic support from the Thai people. could function without enemy exploitation, pres-
The first element of the Royal Thai Army Volun- sure, or violence. Our strategy to achieve this goal
teer Regiment arrived in Vietnam in July 1967 consisted of three interdependent elements-the
and the main body of approximately 2,500 men ground and air campaign in South Vietnam, the
followed in September. Later in the year Thailand nation building effort in South Vietnam, and our
decided to send a division, with a total strength of air and naval offensive against North Vietnam.
over 11,000 men, to replace the Royal Th,li Regi- Through these integrated efforts we have sought
ment. This division is scheduled to arrive in Viet- to convince the Hanoi regime that its aggression
nam in two increments, the first by August 1968. could not succeed and that such aggression would
The second will follow upon completion of out- be too costly to sustain.
fitting and training. To this end United States, ‘South Vietnamese,
and other Free World forces went into battle to
THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM’S ARMED defeat the Communists and their organizations in
FORCES South Vietnam. When the enemy was driven out
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam of an area, United States ancl other Free World
have been fighting without respite for many years. forces assisted the Vietnamese people in that area
They have carried the heaviest load of casualties with projects such as building construction, sani-
and the greatest personal hardships. Most Viet- tation, and medical care. Skills in these and other
namese soldiers have served their country gallantly, specialties were supplied by our soldiers, sailors,
faithf u 11y, and responsibly throughout the years. airmen, and Marines in their changing roles as
With the help and training of their allies they have both fighting men and workers in civic action.
acquired knowledge of modern military tacl:ics nncl Hut before major civic action programs could
techniques, which they have applied eff cctively. proceed, the enemy had to be blocked in his aggres-
sion. Efforts to defeat enemy aggression in South
STRATEGY FOR THE CONDUCT OF THE
Vietnam will be detailed in another portion of this
WAR
report.
Our basic objective in South Vietnam has been As almost all of his war-making material came
to establish a safe environment within which the from or through North Vietnam, we took the war
people of South Vietnam could form a govern- to the enemy by a vigorous and unremitting-but
ment that was independent, stable, and freely highly selective-application of our air and naval
elected-one that would deserve and receive popu- power. Aircraft from land basesin South Vietnam

6
and Thailand and from our aircraft carriers at sea pause to rush troops and supplies to reinforce their
applied this power. We attacked the enemy’s mili- army in South Vietnam. Such unilateral truce ef-
tary installations and power plants, petroleum forts, while judged politically desirable, accrued
products storage areas and industrial facilities some temporary military disadvantages to success-
which supported the war effort, and the vehicles ful prosecution of the war.
and roads by which war material moved south-
his means of provisioning the aggression. The SUMMARY OF PROGRESS-1965 TO 1968
bombing has been the most precise in history with By mid-March 1965 United States forces were
less damage to nontargets and noncombatants than exerting pressure on Communist forces in South
was ever experienced in previous wars. Communist Vietnam and the United States logistic capability
support of the war was made extremely costly in was expanding. In 1966 we commenced deploy-
terms of goods and facilities destroyed. ment of a balanced and effective combat force.
Our naval forces curbed the movement of men Successful spoiling operations during that year pre-
and their food and war-making material as they vented a Communist military takeover and forced
attempted to infiltrate by sea or by the great river the enemy to revert to defensive employment of
systems of Southeast Asia. Naval gunfire assisted his main force units. A capable and resourceful
in coastal operations with marked effectiveness. enemy continued overt warfare, however. He had
From a military standpoint, both air and naval developed a strong logistic base, much of it in
programs were inhibited by restrictions growing neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The enemy
out of the limited nature of our conduct of the maintained the capability to deploy substantial
war. The key port of Haiphong in North Vietnam, additional North Vietnamese Army Regulars.
for example, through which 85 percent of North While our air operations over North Vietnam
Vietnam’s imports flowed, and at which ships of attrited but did not prevent the introduction of
many nations called, has been a prohibited target. external assistance into North Vietnam, substan-
Our planes could not bomb it. Nor was mining of tial progress was made in destroying war support-
that harbor permitted. Materials shipped from ing industries and resources. Emphasis was directed
Haiphong were sought out later and bombed on toward harassing, disrupting, and impeding the
their journey south, when they could be found. movement of men and material to South Vietnam.
The primitive road and trail networks of South- Such movement was made costly and the enemy
east Asia and the frequently heavy tree cover made was forced to exert a prodigious effort to continue
such moving targets and sheltered small storage it. He adjusted to our attacks by ingeniously hiding
areas very difficult to find, even with our sophis- ancl dispersing his logistics activity, however, and
ticated weapons and equipment. his recuperative capability along the routes of
Despite these difficulties, strikes on railroad lines, movement was remarkable.
roads, and waterways greatly impeded the flow of In 1966 we were able to take the initiative against
war material. These attacks created aclditional Communist main force units in South Vietnam.
management, distribution, and manpower prob- However, the enemy was able to disengage many
lems for North Vietnam. units and to seek refuge in sanctuaries in Laos,
The bombing of North Vietnam was unilaterally Cambodia, and North Vietnam, where our ground
stopped by the United States a number of times, for forces were not permitted to strike him. This per-
varying periods of time, in the hope that the enemy mitted him to establish the pace of the ground war
would respond by stopping his aggressive activities to his aclvantage. Although it would be erroneous
and reducing the scope and level of conflict. In to suggest that the enemy at this stage had reverted
every case the Communists used the bombing purely to guerrilla actions as his primary mode of

7
operations, he realized that he could not defeat and South Vietnamese impressed into Viet Cong serv-
eject United States and Free World military forces ice declined significantly. Consequently, the troop
by large unit operations. He was sufficiently flexi- replacement burden fell increasingly on the North
ble to hit at times and places of his choosing and Vietnamese. There was evidence of manpower
under circumstances that offered a good probabil- problems in North Vietnam, resulting in wider
ity of success. In 1966 the enemy’s unit integrity use of women in the labor force to free men badly
had not been destroyed, nor had his logistic capa- needed for military replacements. Shortages of
bilities fallen below those needed to continue the food, material, and medical supplies were taking
war. their toll. Morale and combat effectiveness dete-
The Communists avoided major contact, using riorated in some of their units, especially those in
their sanctuaries, fighting defensively when forced isolated areas.
to do so, and attempting to rebuild and reinforce In 1967 the enemy did not win a major battle
for operations at an opportune time. Tactical guer- in South Vietnam. Many of his main force units
rilla warfare was intensified without fragmenting had been driven to positions across the Laos and
main force units or discarding plans for their Cambodia borders where they took advantage of
buildup and use. Hanoi continued the high rate sanctuaries for protection and supply, in much the
of infiltration of Regular troops to replace losses same way they had operated in 1965 and 1966 when
and to augment units in the field. Enemy strategy hard pressed by our combat forces.
hinged on continuing the war in the hope of out- The Communist strategy continued to reflect
lasting our determination. an effort to draw Allied forces into remote areas,
Another element of the Communists’ basic strat- especially those areas adjacent to border sanctu-
egy was a propaganda campaign directed at in- aries, leaving populated areas unprotected. This
creasing both domestic and international pressure enabled enemy local and guerrilla forces to harass,
on the United States Government to stop the attack, and generally impede government efforts.
bombing of North Vietnam and to settle on terms Through these means the Viet Cong continued to
favorable to the enemy. exert a significant influence over large portions of
By mid-1967 the combination of military opera- the population. Although enemy capabilities were
tions against the enemy in all areas forced him to at times formidable in local areas, they were never
reassesshis situation in light of his deteriorating overpowering. Through careful exploitation of the
military position. He was no longer capable of enemy’s vulnerabilities and the application of our
military victory. There were significant increases superior firepower and mobility, we were able to
in the strength and capabilities of Allied forces prevent him from making any spectacular gain in
in South Vietnam and combat operations were ex- South Vietnam in 1967.
panded accordingly. Our operations, supported by During 1967 the air and naval campaign against
close air support and B-52 bomber strikes, in- North Vietnam continued to be an element of our
creasingly neutralized enemy base areas, located strategy in which we had the initiative. We con-
and destroyed the supplies on which the enemy tinued to press this advantage. There was no doubt
depended, and drove him into sparsely populated that our past efforts had hurt North Vietnam and
regions where food was scarce. The overall mili- that continued support of the war in South Viet-
tary trend in 1967 in enemy losses-those killed, nam was causing severe hardships. From a purely
wounded, and captured-was favorable to the military view, additional operational latitude for
allies, as was the overall trend in enemy defections. air and naval forces would have enabled the execu-
The number of persons and areas under Commu- tion of campaigns against North Vietnam which
nist control declined slowly and the number of would have brought about a more rapid deteriora-

8
tion of the enemy’s total war-supporting structure. staffing, thus creating a single, forcefully directed,
If more effective curtailment of the Communist United States pacification support effort.
war effort had been achieved by drains on their Progress in the war from 1 January to 30 June
resources, the result would have been a steady 1968 can best be viewed in the context of the en-
reduction of insurgency and aggression in South emy’s goals for his 1967-68 winter-spring cam-
Vietnam. paign. Sometime in mid-1967 he revised his stra-
In coordination with our military operations, tegy in order to generate widespread internal up-
the task of nation building in South Vietnam, risings, cause wholesale desertions from the ranks
the ultimate goal of our struggle, received its full of South Vietnam’s Army, and lay the ground-
share of attention. True, progress often was inter- work for a political effort, including negotiations,
rupted by enemy attacks or harassment, but the along with his military effort to attain victory. The
demonstration of government concern and aid for United States, the Communists hoped, faced with
every village and hamlet in South Vietnam re- a collapsing ally, would lose the determination to
mained the aim. Efforts in this regard were not pursue the war.
new. The French attempted agrodes in the 1950’s To carry out this new strategy, even larger num-
and the Diem regime tried a program of “strategic bers of North Vietnamese Regular Army troops
hamlets.” These all failed for many reasons, not and a heavier volume of supplies and equipment
the least of which were failure to base goals on were infiltrated into South Vietnam. With the ap-
capabilities, to plan realistically, and to take into proach of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year season,
account the interests and aspirations of the people. the Communists felt that the time was ripe to go
Subsequent efforts at nation building were more all out. They chose the first day of the Tet holidays
attuned to the needs of the people, but in 1966 for opening the offensive. Contrary to their expec-
growth was still slow and painstaking. Although tations, the people of South Vietnam did not swing
the Vietnamese Armed Forces had the primary over to their side and there were few defections
mission of supporting pacification, United States from the Vietnamese Army. Despite the surprise
forces reinforced their efforts by direct support. attack in violation of the Communists’ own truce,
Vietnamese Army units were redeployed and re- the Vietnamese Army fought extremely well in
trained to support these programs, but providing throwing back the enemy while bearing the brunt
the motivation was difficult and progress in orient- of the assault. By coming out in the open, enemy
ing those forces was slow. troops were more vulnerable to our superior fire-
In 1967 a new constitution was promulgated power, mobility, and flexibility. The result for the
and the citizens of South Vietnam went to the polls enemy was extremely high personnel losses. How-
and elected a new national government. Similarly, ever, the tempo of the war was intensified. The
for the first time since the early days of the Diem enemy used new Soviet supplied rockets to initiate
regime, representative government was initiated assaults on urban centers, notably Hue and Saigon,
at the village and hamlet level. There were frag- which were heretofore relatively free from attack.
mentary but nevertheless encouraging signs that During the first three months of 1968, the air
the National Assembly was becoming constituent campaign against North Vietnam was hampered
oriented. by the rainy monsoon weather. As a result, most
Additionally, during 1967 there was a reorgani- attack sorties were conducted against supply routes
zation and consolidation of United States support and military installations in southern North Viet-
of the pacification program. As a result the pro- nam.
gram was buttressed with added resources, in- On 1 April in a further attempt to get Hanoi
creased military support, and unified civil-military to the peace conference table, the President of the

9
329-523 O-69-2
United States stopped bombing attacks over the fierce or well coordinated as the Tet offensive. The
principal populated and food-producing areas of results, however, were essentially the same-heavy
North Vietnam, except in the area north of the losses for the enemy, a broadening of the war
Demilitarized Zone where enemy actions directly into urban areas, and a quantum jump in civilian
threatened United States and other Free World casualties. Still, the enemy continued to reconsti-
forces in South Vietnam. Militarily, this action re- tute and reposition his forces for further attacks.
sulted in further concentration of attack sorties in Then in late May and early June 1968 the enemy
southernmost North Vietnam, primarily directed launched new assaults, particularly on the city of
at traffic on roads and trails, to try to keep rein- Saigon. American military installations and Viet-
forcements and supplies from reaching South Viet- namese government headquarters seemed to be
nam where they would be brought into battle the initial objectives, although again the enemy
against our forces. Politically, the President’s ac- showed complete disregard for the lives of inno-
tion brought the response from the North Viet- cent South Vietnamese civilians. When these at-
namese that they would come to the conference tacks were blunted, the enemy commenced a series
table. of indiscriminate rocket attacks against the civilian
The enemy continued his countrywide attacks populace of Saigon, creating widespread destruc-
in an attempt to give the South Vietnamese and tion, heavy civilian casualties, and increasing
the world public an impression of North Vietna- numbers of refugees. These assaults on Saigon ob-
mese strength while exaggerating the human and
viously were designed to influence the talks that
material costs of the war to the Allied side. Our
had begun on 13 May in Paris, where Hanoi
tactical aircraft and B-52 bombers continued their
showed no disposition to modify its hardline stand.
support of ground operations in South Vietnam
As of 30 June our estimate is that the enemy
with B-52 effort concentrating primarily on truck
parks, storage areas, and troop concentrations. The does not possessthe means of achieving military
air effort further compounded the enemy’s dif- victory in South Vietnam but he does retain a
ficulties in getting supplies and equipment down dangerous capability to mount serious attacks.
the infiltration routes. There is no indication that he has abandoned his
In early May the Communists mounted further goal of a unified Communist Vietnam. Against
harassing attacks throughout South Vietnam with the backdrop of the Paris talks, a major victory
primary emphasis on the Saigon area and in the would loom large. The enemy no doubt remem-
northern part of the country. Because of their bers how well a combined military and political
earlier Tet losses, these attacks were not nearly as strategy worked for him in Geneva 14 years ago.

10
AIR AND NAVAL CAMPAIGNS AGAINST
NORTH VIETNAM

By August 1964 the Viet Cong, strongly sup- at high speed. Despite evasive action, the boats by
ported by regular units of the North Vietnamese their maneuvers demonstrated hostile intent. The
Army, held the military initiative in South Viet- Maddox fired three warning shots and, when that
nam, controlled much of the rural area, had seri- did not deter the attackers, opened destructive fire
ously reduced the effectiveness of the South with its five-inch guns. One boat was disabled but
Vietnamese government’s pacification program, managed to launch what appeared to be two tor-
and appeared to be building up to a final push pedoes, which missed by approximately 200 yards.
against the largely demoralized armed forces and Another boat retired to the north and lost all
unstable government. power. The third boat, hit at least once, passed
The Viet Cong were accomplishing these suc- approximately 1,700 yards astern of the Maddox
cessesdespite our ever increasing economic aid, firing a machine gun. One of the 12.7-mm projec-
training programs by our military advisors, and tiles ricocheted into a ready service magazine. Air-
our combat support personnel serving with the craft from the carrier Ticonderoga, then in the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam. Gulf of Tonkin, joined the action, and the Maddox
In keeping with normal military intelligence broke off pursuit of its attackers. No further con-
collection -requirements, routine naval patrols had tact was made and the carrier aircraft and the
been periodically operating in international waters Maddox retired from the area. This was an unpro-
off the coast of North Vietnam observing junk voked attack on a ship of the United States on the
traffic and naval activity, and collecting hydro- high seas.
graphic data and intelligence concerning North The next day the President warned North Viet-
Vietnamese electronic installations which might nam that “United States ships have traditionally
become necessary to United States forces in the operated freely on the high seasin accordance with
event of hostilities. One such patrol was proposed the rights guaranteed by international law . . . .
in early 1964 for reconnaissance off the North “They will,” he said, “continue to do so and will
Vietnamese coastline. The recommendation was take whatever measures are appropriate for their
approved with the patrol to start not later than defense.” He further warned that “The United
31 July 1964. States Government expects that . . . North Viet-
In the late afternoon of 2 August, about 28 miles nam will be under no misapprehension as to the
off the coast of North Vietnam and on a course grave consequences which would inevitably result
away from the coast, the radar of the destroyer from any further unprovoked military action
Maddox detected three boats closing on the ship against United States forces.”

11
In accordance with a Presidential directive, the observed and was seen to swing in an arc toward
Tonkin Gulf patrol was reinforced by a second the C. Turner Joy. The searchlight was immedi-
destroyer, the C. Turner Joy, and during daylight ately extinguished when aircraft from the combat
hours by a combat air patrol from the Ticonderoga air patrol orbiting above the ships approached the
operating off northern South Vietnam. To reduce vicinity of the boat.
the risk of night torpedo boat attacks, the two ships The silhouette of an attacking boat was also seen
were ordered to retire each afternoon to a “night when the boat came between the ship and the
steaming area” 24 miles square, centered about 100 flares dropped by an aircraft.
miles off shore. In addition, two aircraft at altitudes of between
On 3 August the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy 700 and 1,500 feet, in the vicinity of the two
entered the Gulf of Tonkin. On the evening of 4 destroyers at the time of the torpedo attack, sighted
August 1964 the two destroyers were proceeding gun flashes on the surface of the water as well as
on an easterly course at a speed of about 20 knots. light antiaircraft bursts near their altitude. On one
Shortly after dark, the task group commander, pass over the two destroyers both pilots positively
aboard the Maddox, observed on the surface search sighted a “snakey” high speed wake one and one-
radar at least five contacts at about 36 miles dis- half miles ahead of the lead destroyer, the Maddox.
tance, which he evaluated as probable torpedo At approximately midnight the action ended
boats. The Maddox and the C. Turner Joy changed when radar contact was lost on the last enemy boat.
course and increased speed to avoid what appeared Best estimates were that at least two of the enemy
to be an attack. craft were sunk, possibly two more damaged.
About an hour later, both ships’ radars held con- There was no damage to the United States
tacts approximately 14 miles to the east. At that destroyers.
time the two United States ships were approxi- Less than half an hour after the termination of
mately 60 miles from the North Vietnamese coast. the second attack on the patrol, CINCPAC recom-
When it became evident from the maneuvers of mended that authority be granted for immediate
the approaching enemy craft that they were press- punitive air strikes against North Vietnam. Two
ing in for an attack position, both Maddox and hours later, a message from the Joint Chiefs of
C. Turner lay opened fire. At this time, the enemy Staff alerted us to plan strikes for first light the
boats were at a range of 6,000 yards from the following day.
Maddox when the radar tracking indicated that At the same time that the strike order was issued
the contact had turned away and began to open by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a series of compre-
range. Torpedo noises were then heard by the hensive air and sea movements was undertaken to
Maddox’s sonar and this information was im- discourage enemy reaction to the attack.
mediately passed to the C. Tuvnev lay, at which At the time of launch of the strike aircraft on.
time both ships took evasive action to avoid the 5 August the President announced to the public
torpedo. A torpedo wake was then sighted passing that the United States was making a measured re-
abeam of the C. Turner lay, approximately 300 sponse to the North Vietnamese aggression but
feet to port and on the same bearing as the Maddox. did not intend to start a war.
One target was taken under fire by the C. Tumet Sixty-four strike aircraft were launched from
/oy, numerous hits were observed, and it then dis- the aircraft carriers Ticonderoga and Constellation.
appeared from all radars. The commanding officer They inflicted severe damage to the North Viet-
and other C. Tuvnev Joy personnel observed a thick namese gunboat and torpedo boat fleet, destroying
column of black smoke from this target. eight and damaging 21 others. Smoke from the
Later, but during the attack, a searchlight was Vinh petroleum storage areas rose to 14,000 feet

12
and those stores were estimated to be 90 percent ence of MIG-15’s and 17’s. It was obvious from
destroyed. The strikes were not without cost to this rapid response that the aircraft came from
our forces. Two of the aircraft from the Constella- Communist China. Hanoi evidently decided it was
tion were lost to antiaircraft defense at Hon Gai prudent to prepare for a long war. North Viet-
and two other aircraft were hit but recovered safelv. namese aggression in South Vietnam was moving
Immediately after the strikes on 5 August, Secre- ahead rapidly and there was no telling when the
tary of State Dean Rusk stated that the United United States might retaliate against the North
States made its retaliatory air strikes in order to again.
prevent a Communist “miscalculation” that we In early November 1964 North Vietnamese
would not reply in kind. President Johnson also Premier Pham Van Dong visited Moscow, osten-
warned North Vietnam and Communist China sibly to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Bol-
against being “tempted . . . to widen the present shevik Revolution. His primary mission, however,
aggression,” and stated that there was “no im- was to request major material and technical sup-
munity from reply.” port in building a modern air defense system.
The remainder of 1964 was characterized by The North Vietnamese air defense system on
increased readiness throughout the Pacific Com- the eve of the Gulf of Tonkin incidents was of low
mand to meet any new North Vietnamese aggres- effectiveness. The aircraft inventory consisted of
sion. Extensive plans were made for future puni- some 30 trainers, 50 transports, and four light heli-
tive or retaliatory strikes to be made in response copters, none of which had effective air defense
to any renewed overt acts of aggression. capabilities. The airfields were primarily oriented
On Christmas Eve 1964 the Communists ex- towards handling light and medium transport ac-
ploded a large demolition charge in the Brink tivity. Gia Lam Airfield at Hanoi and Cat Bi Air-
Bachelor Officers Quarters in downtown Saigon. field at Haiphong were the only two modern air-
A second aircraft carrier was ordered to the Gulf fields capable of sustained jet operations, although
of Tonkin and retaliatory strikes were readied Phuc Yen, also near Hanoi, was nearly completed.
but not executed. Two other airfields, Kien An at Haiphong and
Dong Hoi, just north of the Demilitarized Zone,
N-ORTH VIETNAM’S AIR DEFENSE had h ar d- surf aced runways capable of supporting
SYSTEM-1964 jet aircraft. There were no missiles for defense.
Events subsequent to our air strikes on 5 August Conventional antiaircraft weapons (some 700 of
1964 in retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin incidents all types) provided the air defense capability and
revealed how prior training and prompt military there was little radar tracking capability. The radar
and technical aid from other Communist coun: complex consisted of about 20 early warning sets
tries served to turn a rudimentary air defense sys- with very little capability for definitive tracking.
tem into one of imposing capabilities. On 7 August Overall air defense was limited to key population
two days after our strikes, aerial photography of areas and military installations, and mainly re-
Phuc Yen Airfield near Hanoi revealed the pres- stricted to altitudes below 20,000 feet.

13
AIR AND NAVAL ACTIONS AGAINST NORTH
VIETNAM-1965
At the outset of 1965 our air forces were engaged After this attack, our forces resumed promptly
only in limited combat operations in Southeast the operational readiness posture so recently re-
Asia, but by late January of that year, there was laxed. The aircraft carriers Covnl Sea and Hancock
widespread conviction among senior United States were ordered to reverse course and steam toward
and Vietnamese military commanders and civilian the Tonkin Gulf. After alerting Pacific Command
authorities in Vietnam that the absence of a air and naval component commanders, CINCPAC
United States response to Viet Cong and North informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that our forces
Vietnamese attacks against our personnel and were ready to execute the FLAMING DART plan
forces in South Vietnam would encourage further as appropriate retaliation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
anti-United States incidents. With this in mind responded promptly with “Execute” and the Coral
and with the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sea and the Hancock launched a total of 45 planes
an operation. order-nicknamed FLAMING against North Vietnamese army barracks and port
DART-was developed to detail the military ac- facilities at Dong Hoi, just north of the Demili-
tions for retaliatory air strikes to be executed on tarized Zone.
order of higher authority. Simultaneously the aircraft carrier Ranger
One destroyer patrol, ordered into the Tonkin launched a 34-plane strike against the Vit Thu Lu
Gulf, was scheduled to begin on 7 February. How- Barracks, 15 miles inland and five miles north of
ever, it developed that this was the date of a state the Demilitarized Zone, but poor weather pre-
visit by Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin to Hanoi vented these attacks from being carried out.
and the patrol was cancelled in order to avoid any At Dong Hoi, ten buildings were destroyed, two
incident that might worsen United States-Soviet others heavily damaged, and an undetermined
relations. In addition to cancelling the naval patrol number left burning. One A-4 Skyhawk and its
in the Gulf, the attack carriers Coral Sea and Harz- pilot were lost.
cock were ordered to stand down from a fully Concurrent with these retaliatory actions, force
ready condition and on the morning of the seventh augmentations of the Pacific Command were
the two ships turned eastward for Subic Bay, leav- undertaken to deter or counter North Vietnamese
ing only the aircraft carrier Ranger in the Gulf of or Chinese Communist reaction. At the same time,
Tonkin. proposals were submitted to the Joint Chiefs of
Within hours of the release of the two carriers, Staff to increase the military pressure against
the North Vietnamese-controlled Viet Gong North Vietnam. CINCPAC proposed that our air-
launched a heavy mortar attack on United States craft be authorized to participate on a continuing
forces and billets in the vicinity of the Pleiku Air- basis with the Vietnamese Air Force against the
base. Eight Americans were killecl, 109 wounclecl. Viet Cong within South Vietnam, that frequent
This was the first of a series of Viet Cong attacks destroyer patrols be conducted in the Tonkin Gulf
which coincided with Premier Kosygin’s visit. to place the Communists on the defensive in their

14
home grounds, and that fighter escort be au- promptly and emphatically, and included a pro-
thorized for photographic re,connaissance missions posal that the South Vietnamese Air Force be
in the southern portion of North Vietnam. used to strike the Vu Con Barracks. Ambassador
With Ambassador to South Vietnam Maxwell Taylor and General Westmoreland again were in
Taylor and General Westmoreland supporting the agreement with our views.
retaliatory action and emphasizing the importance In response to CINCPAC’s recommendation, the
of South Vietnamese Air Force participation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a warning order to be
Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized an additional strike prepared to conduct coordinated attacks during
on 8 February with South Vietnamese Air Force daylight hours on 11 February. The execution
resources against the Vu Con Barracks, with the order from the Joint Chiefs of Staff assigned
Chap Le Barracks (about 15 miles north of the United States strike forces to the Chanh Hoa Bar-
Demilitarized Zone) as an alternate target in case racks, 35 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone.
of bad weather. The South Vietnamese Air Force, The Vu Con Barracks was to be handled by the
in association with our pathfinder and flak sup South Vietnamese Air Force.
pression forces, executed a successful strike against On 11 February FLAMING DART TWO was
the Chap Le Barracks with 24 A-1H aircraft. launched. Weather conditions forced the South
On 10 February the enemy blew up a Unitecl Vietnamese Air Force to attack its alternate target,
States enlisted men’s billet at Qui Nhon, killing the Vit Thu Lu Barracks, with resulting destruc-
23 Americans and wounding 21 others. Immedi- tion of five buildings. The United States naval air-
ately after this action, CINCPAC recommended craft strike at Chanh Hoa Barracks was successful
to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that we retaliate but our forces suffered the loss of three aircraft.

15
INCEPTION OF ROLLING THUNDER OPERATIONS
Until mid-February 1965 all United States and ROLLING THUNDER STRIKES BEGIN
South Vietnamese Air Force air strikes against
North Vietnam had been in response to specific On 2 March 1965 the first ROLLING THUN-
Communist violence directed against our forces. DER strikes were launched when United States
However, at CINCPAC’s direction, plans had been aircraft hit a supply area and the Vietnamese Air
prepared to undertake a program of air strikes Force struck a port complex. Strategic Air Com-
against North Vietnam, not necessarily related to mand B-52 night air strikes were included in the
retaliatory action, should such operations be or- warning order for ROLLING THUNDER 5, but
dered. Th e ob’jet t’rve of the air strikes was to cause SAC participation was not included in the execute
the government of North Vietnam to cease its message.SAC B-52 operations were not to become
a part of ROLLING THUNDER but became a
support and direction of the insurgencies in South
separate operation, ARC LIGHT.
Vietnam and Laos.
ROLLING THUNDER operations were initi-
Before such strikes could be launched, it was
ated under strict controls and specific guidance.
essential for the United States and its allies to
The strike day was specified, as well as the num-
make preparations for possible reaction by North ber of sorties by task and by target; strikes were
Vietnam and Communist China. Some prepara- dependent on Vietnamese Air Force participation
tory moves were accomplished in connection with prior to or concurrent with United States strikes;
the FLAMING DART air strikes to include the attacks were limited to primary targets or one of
evacuation of American dependents from South two alternates with unexpended ordnance to be
Vietnam and augmentation of air power in South- dumped into the South China Sea; prestrike re-
east Asia. connaissance was not permitted; bomb damage
Although there were no further FLAMING assessment aircraft were to accompany strike air-
DART actions, there was continued planning for craft or immediately follow the strike aircraft;
additional air strikes. Higher authority, in response subsequent bomb damage assessment was to be
to continued and increasing aggression by North conducted at medium altitude only and unes-
Vietnam, soon authorized the use of United States corted; and no aircraft were to be recycled.
forces for an air strike against the Quang Khe As the ROLLING THUNDER campaign
Naval Base and recommended employment of progressed, restrictions were gradually reduced
and greater latitude in air operations was author-
South Vietnamese Air Force aircraft to strike the
ized. Within the approved boundaries, armed re-
Dong Hoi Airfield (just north of the Demili-
connaissance aircraft (originally prohibited from
tarized Zone). These strikes, with a planning readi-
doing so) were permitted to hit enemy vehicles on
ness date of 20 F ebruary, were given the nickname
roads and rail lines, aircraft or vehicles on certain
ROLLING THUNDER. That name came to be airfields, North Vietnamese naval craft, water craft
applied to our air campaign against North Viet- firing on aircraft, radar and communications fa-
nam with different strike series numbered in cilities, surface-to-air missile sites and equipment,
sequence. and barges, ferries, and lighters.

16
North Vietnam was divided into seven geo- North Vietnamese rail and road transportation
graphic regions, identified as Route Packages, for systems.
ROLLING THUNDER operations. They were
designed for the purpose of assigning respon- RECOMMENDED FUTURE COURSE FOR
sibility for target development, collection of in- ROLLING THUNDER
telligence data, and target analysis. To insure
During the bombing pause, a comprehensive rec-
economical and effective use of resources, opera-
ommendation on the future course of the air cam-
tional procedures were developed between our Sev-
paign was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
enth Air Force and Seventh Fleet that provided
CINCPAC stated that in developing the future
for full coordination of air operations in the
course of the campaign it was necessary to weigh
ROLLING THUNDER program and yet allowed
carefully the capabilities and limitations of United
both Services to operate in all areas.
States air power when required to operate within
As ROLLING THUNDER progressed and the
specific political parameters, and to weigh the vul-
operational commanders were granted increased
nerability of North Vietnam within that frame-
flexibility in conducting operations, the subordi-
work. A concept was then proposed for a demon-
nate commanders were reminded of the unique
stration of the ubiquity of our air power, charac-
character of the campaign. For example, in an
terized by an around-the-clock program of im-
April messageto subordinate commanders, CINC-
mobilization, attrition, and harassment of North
P,4C noted that in the day-to-day pressure of an
Vietnamese military targets. The specific types of
operational environment it was not easy to remem-
missions proposed for this purpose were extensive
ber that the air campaign in North Vietnam was
daytime armed reconnaissance on land and inland
not just another war with the objective of inflict-
waterway routes south of 20” North coupled with
ing maximum damage to the enemy. ROLLING night blockage tactics; increased route interdiction
THUNDER was described as a precise applica- south of 20” North; repeated attacks against known
tion of military pressure for the specific purpose military facilities south of 20” North that could be
of halting aggression in South Vietnam, and that effectively attacked by a small strike force; attacks
there was no doubt as to the damage the strikes that sought out and destroyed dispersed supplies,
had accomplished. CINCPAC’s message empha- equipment, and military personnel; and attacks on
sized that the commanders could continue to ex- port facilities and recognized North Vietnamese
pect various types of restrictions on their opera- shipping.
tions, some explicitly stated, others implied, and As a desirable alternative CINCPAC recom-
that the fundamental importance of the air cam- mended that incremental attacks be authorized on
paign, conducted as ordered, required careful com- the larger targets over a period of days, to be sup-
pliance with the spirit and intent of each instruc- ported by bomb damage assessment. This type of
tion. attack was to be conducted against major targets
south of 20” North and later extended northwest
ROLLING THUNDER STRIKES SUSPENDED to Dien Bien Phu.
Intensified psychological operations were also
On 12 May 1965 air strike and armed reconnais- suggested as an important adjunct to ROLLING
sance operations within North Vietnam were sus- THUNDER. CINCPAC proposed specific meas-
pended. Strike aircraft released by this move were ures to transmit the message that the United States
made available for use against the Viet Cong with- hacl no quarrel with the people of North Vietnam
in South Vietnam. A special reconnaissance pro- and that they should avoid all military installa-
gram was launched to observe the reaction of the tions. The targets and “strike zones” proposed were

7
initially limited to the area from the Demilitarized EVALUATION OF ARMED
Zone to 20” North, but these were to be extended RECONNAISSANCE
to the northwest against specific targets. CINCPAC
It was clear by September 1965 that despite the
also recommended that, as the zone for strikes
damage caused by air attacks in North Vietnam
against major targets expanded to the north and
there was no indication of North Vietnamese will-
west, the armed reconnaissance and small strike
ingness to negotiate or terminate support of the
zone be expanded accordingly. In this plan, it was
Viet Cong.
proposed to lift the numerical limit on armed
It must be noted that the principle of continual
reconnaissance sorties so that only our capability be and steadily increasing pressure was basic to the
considered in establishing the number of small, concept of ROLLING THUNDER and thus to
controlled air operations.
the achievement of our purposes through the use
One purpose of this campaign was to driy.Tehome
of air power. This principle had not been held to
to the North Vietnamese leaders that our staying
in the ROLLING THUNDER campaign, either
power was superior to their own.
in armed reconnaissance or in fixed target strikes.
Armed reconnaissance sorties had leveled off for
ROLLING THUNDER STRIKES RESUMED
the two months previous to September 1965 and
During the bombing suspension initiated in May strikes on fixed targets had actually decreased.
1965, information was collected to permit an The overall decrease in pressure was caused in
evaluation of the results of ROLLING THUN- part because the authorized armed reconnaissance
DER. On 16 May CINCPAC suggested to the area had fewer significant targets than before. Fur-
Joint Chiefs of Staff that further respite for North ther, the reduced number of fixed targets for each
Vietnam would serve to make future problems succeeding ROLLING THUNDER period had
more difficult in South Vietnam and Laos. On this lessened the pressure on North Vietnam. Finally,
basis CINCPAC recommended resumption of the most important targets were in the northeast
ROLLING THUNDER and received authoriza- and in the large sanctuaries around Hanoi and
tion from higher authority to resume operations on Haiphong, where air operations were not au-
18 May 1965. thorized.
Within ROLLING THUNDER 15, specified On 26 November CINCPAC recommended
geographical areas were for the first time assigned destruction of major war supporting targets in
for armed reconnaissance and one strike was au- the northeast, including those in the Hanoi and
thorized north of 20” North against Quang Suoi Haiphong areas, disruption of major port facilities,
Barracks. and subsequent increased armed reconnaissance
Continuing through the end of 1965, North directed at the road, rail, and coastal lines of com-
Vietnamese military targets were subjected to air munication from China and on inland waterways.
attack by ROLLING THUNDER operations.
North Vietnamese freedom of troop and war sup- EXPANSION OF NORTH VIETNAM’S AIR
ply movement was progressively impaired a:, the DEFENSE SYSTEM-1965
number and importance of ROLLING THUN- ’ In April 1965 photography revealed the first
DER fixed targets grew. The area and intensity of North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile (SAM)
armed reconnaissance were expanded but at a care- site under construction some 15 miles southeast
fully measured and moderate pace. By year’s end, of Hanoi. A second SAM site appeared about a
we had progresserl from ROLLING THUNDER month later and by mid-July 1965 several more
16 on 25 May through ROLLING THUNDER 47, sites had been discovered in various stages of con-
which was authorized on 24 December 1965. Ytruction, forming an incomplete irregular ring

18
around Hanoi. Neither missiles nor missile-asso- was to be expected, considering low-level attacks
ciated equipment was detected in any of the sites. by fighter-bombers and flak suppression tactics.
On 24 July 1965 the first known successful SAM During 1965 North Vietnam accomplished a
firing from a North Vietnamese site occurrt’(l, rdyid buildup of early warning and height-finding
resulting in the loss of an F-4C aircraft. Subse- radar sites. An initial ground controlled intercept
quently the number of SAM sites increased rapidl) ((XI) capability was established in both the north-
in the area north of Than11 Hoa. By the end of ern and southern portions of the country and into
1945, more than 60 sites had been discovered pro- the Gulf of Tonkin.
tecting the vital military-industrial complex around On 4 April MIG aircraft possibly under GCI
Hanoi and Haiphong and the LOC south to control surprised and shot down two F-105’s over
Thanh Hoa. The SAM threat forced our aircraft ‘Thanh Hoa. The number of AAA fire control
to operate below the minimum effective altitucles radars increased during the year but not as fast as
of the missile system. This required more fuel ttie number of AAA weapons. At the end of 1965
and placed the aircraft within the kill envelope the ratio of radars to occupied AAA installations
of small arms, automatic weapons, and light anti- was no more than 1 to 25.
aircraft artillery. Evaluation of the effectiveness of
the SAM system for 1965 indicated it took about THAILAND BASED AIRCRAFT
13 missiles launched for each aircraft shot clown. OPERATIONS
As SAM defenses were increased and improved,
Thai bases were used for strike aircraft from
so also was North Vietnam’s aircraft inventory. In
the outset of the ROLLING THUNDER program
late May 1965 eight IL-28 jet light bombers were
md for reconnaissance missions in Laos. This ar-
identified at Phuc Yen Airfield and by mid-June
rangement existed with the full consent of the
the number of MIG-15 and MIG-17 fighter air-
Thai Government. The use of Thailand-based air-
craft had climbed to almost 70. At Phuc Yen, the
craft for operations in North Vietnam and Laos
presence of unpacked crates indicated that there
helped relieve pressure on the already congested air
were more aircraft awaiting assembly. In late
bases in South Vietnam, introduced an added in-
December 1965 an improved supersonic fighter,
crement of flexibility into our air operations, and
the delta-winged MIG-21, arrived to bolster North
ljermitted sortie levels which otherwise would have
Vietnam’s air defenses. Combat aircraft activity
taxed the capability of our resources.
during 1965 was mainly devoted to training and
only ten fighter engagements were reported, re-
THE VIETNAMESE AIR FORCE’S ROLE
sulting in a total of two United States and six
IN ROLLING THUNDER
North Vietnamese fighter aircraft downed. The
IL-28’s were not involved in combat missions. South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) partici-
North Vietnam’s aircraft inventory at the end of pation was a significant element in ROLLING
1965 numbered about 75 MIG jet fighters and eight THUNDER. However, heavy Viet Cong pressure
IL-28 jet light bombers. tended to drain VNAF resources to meet require-
The most effective elements of North Vietnam’s ments in South Vietnam at the expense of the cam-
air defense system proved to be the automatic paign in North Vietnam. Diverting carrier aircraft
weapons and antiaircraft artillery (AAA). Anti- and increasing United States Air Force attacks
aircraft weapons were credited with destroying within South Vietnam relieved pressure on the
about 80 percent of our aircraft shot down in North VNAF, thereby permitting increased VNAF par-
Vietnam during 1965,with the most damaging fire ticipation in ROLLING THUNDER. Subsequent-
from light AAA and automatic weapons. This rate ly, the VNAF provided a minimum of three strike/

19
reconnaissance missions for each of the ROLLING bomb. Special targeting required limited numbers
THUNDER periods. of 250-, l,OOO-,2,000-, and 3,OOO-poundbombs.
Throughout ROLLING THUNDER operations
COMMAND AND CONTROL FOR ROLL-
there was no case in which sorties were cancelled
ING THUNDER OPERATIONS
because weapons were unavailable. In some cases,
The command and control arrangement for however, the optimum weapons necessary for
ROLLING THUNDER strike and armed recon- achievement of maximum damage per sortie were
naissance operations basically consisted of CINC- not used when local shortages required substitu-
PAC’s operational control of the strike forces tion of alternate weapons for those preferred.
through the Commanders in Chief of the Pacific Use of napalm against North Vietnam targets
Fleet (CINCPACFLT) and Pacific Air Forces was prohibited until ROLLING THUNDER 6;
(CINCPACAF) and the Commander, United thereafter it was employed only against specific
States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam military targets not adjacent to a population center.
(COMUSMACV). Coordination authority was
assigned to CINCPACAF with the tacit under- LEAFLET OPERATIONS
standing that it would be further delegated to the
The initial leaflet program aimed at the North
Commander of the 2d Air Division, located in
Vietnamese was approved on 9 April 1965. The
South Vietnam. This authority was granted to the
extent it was required to preclude mutual inter- concept was that prior to an airstrike we would
warn the populace, by leaflets or by radio, that cer-
ference of friendly forces during strike and armed
tain categories of targets were considered military
reconnaissance missions. A Seventh Fleet liaison
officer to the 2d Air D’ivision
’ ’ accomplished liaison objectives and that the people should evacuate all
with the Commander of Task Force 77, who exer- targets of the type described. The first leaflet mis-
cised operational command and control over the sion was conducted on 14 April.
aircraft carriers on station off the Vietnam coast. In June Washington authorities granted to
The Commander of the 2d Air Division exercised CINCPAC and to the American Ambassador in
operational control for CINCPACAF over the Air Saigon the authority to conduct leaflet drops as
Force forces in Southeast Asia engaged in combat part of the total air effort. It was intended that the
targets for ROLLING THUNDER and the leaflet
air operations.
This system conformed to accepted doctrine for missions would be complementary. Further, it was
unified control of our forces and it functioned directed that the leaflet operations would be ex-
smoothly for this purpose. It provided an effective panded to two drops of about two million leaflets
means of exercising coordination of air operations each per week.
over North Vietnam without a combined com- Intensified psychological operations were di-
mand structure. Although there were refinements rected and on 16 July CINCPAC recommended
within this system, there was no fundamental that leaflet operations be conducted on the major
change. North Vietnamese population centers, to include
Hanoi and Haiphong. This was approved by high-
ORDNANCE EXPENDITURE er authority with the proviso that leaflet aircraft
could not penetrate a 40-nautical mile circle around
The general purpose bomb was the weapon either Hanoi or Haiphong. Leaflets for Hanoi and
against the majority of ROLLING THUNDER Haiphong were targeted utilizing the wind-drift
targets. The Navy used principally the SOO-pound technique.
bomb; our Air Force relied mainly on the 750- Until the early part of September 1965 all leaflet
pound bomb supplemented by the 500-pound missions were executed by F-105 aircraft. On 10

20
September a C-130 was used for the first time in We announced that air operations would be SUS-
the leaflet program. On this, the first night mission pended over North Vietnam for a 24-hour period
of the program, 9,000 packets containing toys were over Christmas and, as circumstances would have
dropped over North Vietnam in connection with it, they were not resumed until the end of Jan-
Children’s Day. uary 1966. Air and ground operations in South
Responding to an October query from the Joint Vietnam were limited to defensive actions during
Chiefs of Staff, CINCPAC again proposed a relax- the 24-hour Christmas period. Subsequently, the
ation of restrictions on leaflet aircraft in the interest h(Jround cease-fire period was extended by six hours,
of more effective operations. CINCPAC’s propo- and ended on 26 December.
sal provided that the less stringent constraints ap- The enemy did not observe his own announced
plicable to some of the other air operations be truce. Casualties reported for the period 24 through
applied to leaflet missions. After approval by the 26 December as a result of enemy violations
Joint Chiefs of Staff, the basic operation order of were 3 United States personnel killed and 23
17 December broadened the area of operations but wounded, 54 members of the South Vietnamese
still restricted aircraft from entering a 25-nautical Armed Forces killed and 55 wounded, and 15
mile radius from Hanoi, a lo-nautical mile radius South Vietnamese civilians killed and 19 wounded.
from Haiphong, and a distance varying from 25 to On 26 December CINCPAC commented to the
30 nautical miles from the Chinese border. Joint Chiefs of Staff on the difficulties faced by a
A total of 77 million leaflets and 15,000 gift kits commander in the presence of the enemy when
were distributed under the leaflet program during a cease-fire was extended on short notice. It was
1965. There were indications that the material was pointed out that the advantage of a cease-fire
reaching the populace, that in some instances the accrued to the enemy, suggested that any future
morale of the people was being lowered, and that cease-fire should be planned in detail well in ad-
the North Vietnamese authorities were forced to vance, and proposed that aerial observation of key
take counterpropaganda actions. On this basis the enemy installations in North Vietnam should con-
leaflet operation was termed worthwhile. tinue even during a cease-fire.
Leaflet operations were suspended during the
latter part of December as part of the Christmas EFFECTS DURING 1965
stand-down.
Initial ROLLING THUNDER air operations
HOLIDAY CEASE-FIRE-1965 (luring 1965 were relatively light and resulted in
an ordnance expenditure of only about 200 tons
The Viet Cong announced a Christmas “truce”
of ordnance per week. As the campaign got under
in South Vietnam in 1965. On our side, Secretary
way and more targets were made available, up to
of State Dean Rusk proposed that the United States
1,600 tons of ordnance were dropped each week
suspend bombing operations against North Viet-
nam for 24 hours and that air operations in South with the major portion against industrial targets.
Vietnam be limited to support of forces in contact Damage within the industrial sector was quite
with the Viet Cong. Should this result in a real evenly distributed among all target systems. For
and similar restraint on the part of the enemy, we example, an estimated 27 percent of North Viet-
would continue to suspend bombing in the hope nam’s electrical capacity was destroyed by the end
that negotiations could begin. CINCPAC con- of 1965.
curred in Secretary Rusk’s proposal, feeling that I>amage to military targets was concentrated
such operations could be suspended without sig- primarily against military barracks. However, at-
nificant military advantage to the Viet Cong. tacks against other military facilities such as am-

21
munition dumps and storage depots would have tience of the American public would expire before
had more immediate impact since loss of military we could attain a just peace. Hanoi officials stated
equipment required replacement from either the ~~ublicly that enormous costs and casualties would
USSR or Communist China. I3y the end of 1965, persuade the United States to negotiate on North
approximately 1,500 rvaterbornc logistic craft, 800 Vietnamese terms. In the eyes of a military com-
trucks, and 650 pieces of rnilroacl rolling stock had mander, the objectives of the ROLLING THUN-
been either damagetl or destroyed as a result of DER campaign had not been achieved-and to
offensive air action. achieve them required adherence to the basic con-
Indications were that enemy morale and Wnacity cept and principle of applying a continual and
were supported by a strong conviction that the pa- steadily increasing level of pressure.

22
ROLLING THUNDER OPERATIONS-1966
As 1966 opened, North Vietnam’s airspace was mal” night time and dispersal procedures several
free of United States combat air operations. The clays prior to this date. News media speculation
suspension which began on Christmas of 1965 in and political and other developments presaged
connection with our peace overtures was continued that the period of relative quiet was about to end.
until 31 January 1966 when, all peace efforts hav- On 12 January during the stand-down of of-
ing been spurned by the enemy, limited ROLL- fensive air operations against North Vietnam, a
ING THUNDER strikes and armed reconnais- cletailed discussion of the relationship of military
sance operations were resumed. operations in North Vietnam to the overall strat-
During the pause, enemy forces were deeply in- egy of the war in South Vietnam was submitted to
volved in actions preparing for the resumption the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this submission,
of our operations. Our side, aware of this, made CINCPAC noted that plans should be made to
photographic reconnaissance and analyzed the in- resume effective operations against North Viet-
formation obtained. The enemy preparatory ac- nam if negotiations did not bring an early cease-
tivity involved reconstructing and improving his fire. The relationship of military operations against
lines of communication (LOC), improving and North Vietnam to the overall strategy was dis-
increasing the air defense of important areas, dis- cussed in terms of the following undertakings: (1)
persing the military support base, and pushing a to deny to the Communists in South Vietnam the
large number of trucks and supplies towards the effective North Vietnamese direction and assis-
infiltration corridors leading into Laos. Some 40 tance vital to their war-making capability; (2) to
additional air defense positions were added in the assist the government of South Vietnam in pro-
vicinity of the northwest rail line between Hanoi tecting the South Vietnamese people from Com-
and Communist China. Similarly, an increase of 26 munist subversion and oppression, to liberate areas
guns protecting the LOC’s below Vinh was noted. dominated by the Viet Cong, and to assist in the
The reconnaissance photography accomplished establishment of a stable economy and the con-
during the pause in our air attacks was of great tinuation of an independent non-Communist gov-
value in determining enemy activity and was of ernment; (3) to defeat the Viet Cong and North
material aid in planning future strikes. Analysis Vietnamese forces and destroy their base areas in
of the enemy effort expended to rehabilitate cer- South Vietnam.
tain LOC’s indicated the value he assigned to the We statecl that it was necessary to achieve suc-
various routes. cess in each of these three elements of strategy
tlirough simultaneous application of appropriate
RESUMPTION OF ROLLZNG THUNDER military force.
OPERATIONS The first undertaking-to deny the Communists
Resumption of ROLLING THUNDER opera- in South Vietnam effective North Vietnamese di-
tions, which took place on 31 January, apparently rection an(l assistance-was advocated as the basis
came as no surprise to the North Vietnamese be- for the renewed air campaign. The air campaign
cause the LOC associated activity resumed “nor- w;is to be conducted so as to accomplish this under-

23
taking most effectively. Access to external assist- March weather was slightly better than Feb-
ance that permitted North Vietnam to sustain ruary’s, with an occasional day of good visibility
military operations must be denied and the re- throughout the ROLLING THUNDER area.
sources already in North Vietnam and most needed More often, however, pilots found 100 percent
to support aggression would be destroyed. All cloud cover or haze to 12,000 or 14,000 feet. This
known military material and facilities would be caused a high rate of cancellations. Even so, the
destroyed and military activities and movements rate of damage to fleeting targets in the ROLLING
would be continuously harassed and disrupted. THUNDER area improved significantly.
The foregoing would require operations quite dif- In March General Westmoreland urgently re-
ferent from those before the cease-fire. quested authority to bring military power to bear
While recognizing limited achievements in the on the enemy approaches to the battlefield for
air campaign, CINCPAC’s view was that the na- which he was responsible. On 1 April the Basic
ture of the war had changed since the air cam- Operation Order for ROLLING THUNDER as-
paign began. ROLLING THUNDER had not signed General Westmoreland the primary respon-
forced Hanoi to the decision sought, and indica- sibility for armed reconnaissance and intelligence
tions were that Ho Chi Minh intended to continue analysis in the southernmost portion of North Vi-
to support the Viet Cong until he was denied the etnam. To remove any doubt about where the em-
capability to do so. phasis might lie, Secretary of Defense McNamara
In summary, we felt that these three tasks, ef- stated on 16 April that operations north of this
fectively accomplished, would either bring the southernmost portion of North Vietnam would be
enemy to the conference table or cause the in- conducted only when they could be performed
surgency to wither from lack of support. The al- without penalty to required operations in the “ex-
ternative appeared to be a long and costly war- tended battlefield.”
costly in lives and material resources. ROLLING THUNDER 50, effective 1 April,
directed planning and preparation for attacks
EXPANSION OF ROLLING THUNDER against the most significant targets yet considered,
OPERATIONS including the Viet Tri Railroad-Highway Bridge;
the Haiphong Thermal Power Plant; the Hai-
ROLLING THUNDER 48 extended from 31
phong Cement Plant; and petroleum, oil, and lu- 1
January to the end of February 1966. Weather was
bricants (POL) storage at Haiphong, Hanoi,
a limiting factor throughout the period. It caused
Nguyen Ke, Bat Giang, Do Son, and Duong
a high percentage of cancellations or diversions Nham. Another important target was the early
and greatly limited the information obtained from warning-ground control intercept radar at Kep, a
bomb damage assessment. facility that supported the area’s air defense. Au-
Most ROLLING THUNDER operations dur- thority to strike these targets was to be granted
ing this period were limited to the southern area of separately by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In lace April,
North Vietnam and by the end of the month there however, ROLLING THUNDER 50 was indefi-
was little to report in the way of results. nitely extended and at that time the strikes on the
By the end of February the results obtained ten significant targets had not been authorized.
through ROLLING THUNDER, while showing The ten fixed targets specified by ROLLING
that considerable enemy military material and THUNDER 50 remained on the restricted list
facilities were destroyed or damaged, gave very through early June, when an 11th target-Phuc
little evidence of progress toward the objective of Yen POL Storage-was added. Soon thereafter, an
the program. intensive search began for techniques that would

24
minimize civilian casualties during strikes on POL to 13,200. Strikes were authorized against one
storage at Haiphong and Hanoi and at the Hai- bridge, one railroad classification yard, two POL
phong Thermal Power and Cement Plants. facilities, three surface-to-air missile storage areas,
Then on 23 June CINCPAC received the author- one vehicle depot, one cement plant, two power
ity to conduct air strikes, after first light on 24 June, plants, and selected elements of the only steel plant
on seven POL storage facilities and the Kep radar. in North Vietnam. However, the steel and cement
It was specifically directed that same-day strikes’ plants and the two power plants were deferred
against the POL facilities at Hanoi and Haiphong from attack. On 15 December restrikes against
would initiate ROLLING THUNDER 50 AL- the railroad classification yard and the vehicle de-
PHA. Special care was to be taken to avoid dam- pot were prohibited and by 23 December the de-
aging merchant shipping when attacking the Hai- livery of ordnance within ten nautical miles of
phong target. Steps were taken to minimize Hanoi had been prohibited.
casualties among enemy civilians and the friendly In a message to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 24
operating forces. Special measures were devised to December CINCPAC recommended that author-
assure a rapid flow of detailed information to’ ity to strike all ROLLING THUNDER targets be
Washington. reinstituted. However, it was not until ROLLING
Despite special precautions to insure the security THUNDER 55 and 56 in April and May of 1967
of information pertaining to these operations, news that some of these targets were reauthorized.
media carried essential strike details at almost the
same time the POL strikes were authorized. This EFFECTS OF THE POL CAMPAIGN
prompted a postponement of the strikes, deferring
By early 1965 North Vietnam, largely due to
damage to one of North Vietnam’s basic resources
external assistance, possesseda good regional sys-
for maintaining the military effort.
tem of petroleum distribution facilities to meet the
Shortly after noon on 30 June the program needs of industrial, transport, and military POL
against POL facilities was launched with strikes consumers. Nearly all of North Vietnam’s POL
on stores at Hanoi and Haiphong. About 95 per- storage capacity clustered around these centers of
cent damage was achieved by the Hanoi strike and activity.
an almost equal level was obtained after a second By June 1966 the air campaign had eliminated
strike at Haiphong. Nam Dinh and Phu Qui as centers of POL tank
The POL system of North Vietnam was to be storage and had reduced Vinh to at most one-third
the primary target of ROLLING THUNDER 51. of its original capacity. At the end of the month
CINCPAC therefore promulgated a plan of ac- POL targets in Hanoi and Haiphong first came
tion in late July to accomplish the maximum feasi- under attack. By early August these attacks had
ble POL system destruction while yet assuring a destroyed the largest storage facility in the Hanoi
balanced effort against other North Vietnamese area and had lowered the capability of the Hai-
elements *and their military capability to support phong receiving terminal to marginal levels.
the Viet Cong. However, the only fixed targets Originally capable of storage of the equivalent of
authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for ROLL- about four Soviet tanker loads, the Haiphong ter-
ING THUNDER 51 were bridges. minal could no longer hold more than one-third
On 12 November ROLLING THUNDER 52 of a normal tanker’s capacity.
was authorized, but armed reconnaissance objec- As early as mid-1965 North Vietnam had begun
tives and operating areas remained the same as au- taking remedial or precautionary measures against
thorized in ROLLING THUNDER 51. The level the air campaign. New farms of buried or bunk-
of attack sorties per month was raised from 10,100 ered tanks started dotting the country, the major-

25
329-525 O-49-3
ity of them in or near the major military and in- NORTH VIETNAM’S AIR DEFENSE
dustrial centers. Extremely large numbers of petro- SYSTEM-1966
leum drums appeared. None of the POL farms ap-
Throughout 1966 the proliferation of SAM sites
proached pre-strike capacities. Characteristically,
continued, and continuous SAM coverage extended
they consisted of varying numbers of tanks in the
from Yen Bai to Haiphong in the north to about
2,200 to 3,300 gallon class, suggesting a possible
Ha Tinh in the south. Additional SAM sites were
modular relationship with Soviet-built tank trucks. discovered during the year, raising the total to
At Haiphong, tankers continued to arrive and about 150. As our strike operations expanded in
discharge their cargo into lighters and barges that North Vietnam the missile expenditure rate in-
made deliveries to inland transhipment points creased. Observed expenditures in 1966 totaled al-
and south along the coast. North Vietnam’s 1968 most nine times the number of SAM’s expended
POL receipt and distribution system continues to in 1965and the effectiveness statistically of the SAM
follow this pattern. defenses dropped to an average of about 33 missiles

Nam Dinh Petroleum Storage

26
required per aircraft shot down. Our evasion tac- HOLIDAY CEASE-FIRES
tics and electronics countermeasures degraded
In anticipation of probable proposals for Christ-
North Vietnam’s efforts to maintain or improve
mas 1966 and the New Year and Tet (the Viet-
SAM effectiveness.
namese New Year) cease-fires, CINCPAC pre-
During 1966 MIG aggressiveness against our
sented his views well in advance so they might be
strike forces increased from an average of only one
considered in arriving at any decision made con-
engagement per month in the first half of the year
cerning a stand-down. In so doing, CINCPAC
to an average of about 12 per month during the
cited the conclusive disadvantages and risks that
last half. Interference by MIG’s on numerous oc-
had accrued to friendly forces as a result of the
casions served to force strike aircraft to jettison
extended 1965-1966 Christmas and Tet stand-
their ordnance in order to engage the attacking
downs.
MIG’s, or to evacuate the area. An increasingly ef-
fective air defense effort was evident as coordina- At that time the enemy had achieved an increase
tion between fighters, SAM’s, antiaircraft artillery, of about 400 weapons in his antiaircraft artillery
and radar elements improved. In air encounters, inventory in North Vietnam, the addition of more
we had a decided advantage with a total of 11 of than 15 early warning and fire control radars, and
our aircraft downed by MIG’s compared to 29 construction of nearly 30 additional surface-to-air
MIG’s lost to our fighters. By the end of 1966 some missile sites. The flow of men and material through
70 fighter aircraft were in North Vietnam, includ- Laos toward South Vietnam had also continued
ing about 15 MIG-21’s. unabated and in fact had accelerated during the
first three months of 1966. Large scale reconstruc-
During 1966. the improvement of existing air-
tion of LOC’s had been launched, key rail lines
fields and construction of new airfields maintained
pace with other defense efforts. Phuc Yen and Kep were repaired and traffic was resumed, and other
remained the primary military airfields where the measures taken to overcome the shortcomings and
deficiencies caused by air attacks had increased the
majority of the aircraft were deployed. Gia Lam
at Hanoi and Cat Bi and Kien An at Haiphong southward flow of men and material. In South
were utilized as prime dispersal areas to provide Vietnam, the Viet Cong had initiated countrywide
for flexibility in the deployment of fighters to pro- activity to position forces for the subsequent Janu-
tect key areas. In January a new potential jet air- ary-February 1966 campaign. And finally, the Viet
field at Yen Bai, about 60 miles northwest of Hanoi, Cong initiated 84 significant incidents during the
was observed under construction which continued 30-hour Tet stand-down.
throughout the year. Harassing attacks against Another Christmas-Tet stand-down would al-
this field commenced in July and retarded con- most certainly result in a repeat performance by
struction efforts. In March Bai Thuong, 60 miles the enemy. While a stand-down of not more than
south of Hanoi, became almost operational, but our 48 hours was militarily acceptable, CINCPAC felt
bombing attacks prevented it from becoming serv- there must be an unqualified understanding that
iceable. Another new, potential jet airfield at Hoa it would not be unilaterally prolonged unless, of
Lac, 20 miles west of Hanoi, was observed under course, there was some indication that Hanoi was
construction in June but was not operational dur- serious about negotiations. Commanders would
ing the remainder of the year. need to be instructed and permitted to take all
The total number of radar sites at the end of measures necessary, including increasing air re-
1966 numbered over 100, consisting of a well-bal- connaissance (other than armed reconnaissance)
anced inventory of early warning, GCI, AAA fire and continuing activity away from their bases, to
control, and SAM-associated equipment. detect threatening enemy movements and concen-

27
trations. Friendly commanders would need to be SEVENTH AIR FORCE ESTABLISHED
allowed to retain contact until attacking North
The bulk of our Air Force support in Southeast
Vietnamese or Viet Cong forces withdrew and to
Asia had been provided by the 2d Air Division
resume offensive operations if necessary to provide
with headquarters in Saigon. With the continued
for the safety of friendly forces. The risk of a stand-
expansion of 2d Air Division forces and activities,
down of more than one or two days would serve
the Air Force Chief of Staff, General J. P. Mc-
only to the enemy’s advantage and generate risks
Connell, determined that it would be appropriate
that we could not accept for our forces.
to change the unit’s title to Seventh Air Force. The
When the cease-fire for Christmas was directed, change was made effective 1 April 1966 with 2d
it provided for a stand-down in Vietnam from 24
Air Division Commander Lieutenant General
to 26 December.
Joseph H. Moore, USAF, assuming command of
During the cease-fire period the enemy com- the Seventh Air Force, with no alteration in exist-
mitted 101 violations. Total casualties for United ing command relationships.
States forces were three killed and 27 wounded;
for South Vietnamese forces, 27 killed and 27 EFFECTS DURING 1966
wounded; three civilians were killed and five
The existence of restricted areas around Hanoi
wounded; and the Viet Cong-North Vietnamese
and Haiphong and along the border of Communist
had 26 k-11I ed an d an unknown number wounded.
China effectively insulated a large portion of in-
Along the coastal areas of North Vietnam, wa-
dustrial, military supply, and LOC targets from
terborne traffic increased substantially during the
air attack. As a result, strikes were conducted
cease-fire period. Over 1,000 watercraft were against less significant targets generally consist-
sighted along the coast moving between the ing of transportation equipment, general military
mouths of the Song Giang and Kien Giang (riv- targets, and installations of the transportation sys-
ers) between 8 and 12 February 1967 (Tet). Of tem. This emphasis against transportation, com-
these, more than 15 were large steel-hulled cargo bined with United States restraint, permitted the
carriers, trawlers, or gunboats up to 140 feet long. enemy to develop alternates and to overcome many

28
NORTH VIETNAM
TARGET ELEMENT SUMMARY
1966
TOTAL
TARGETCATEGORY DESTROYED DAMAGED DESTROYED&
- DAMAGED

AAA/AWSITES 493 479 S72

SAM SITES Ia a3 101

COMMUNICATIONS
SITES 3a 57 95

MILITARYAREAS 11 a 434 552

POLAREAS 3,903 57a 4,4a1

STAGING/SUPPLY
AREAS 76 1,065 I,1 4 1

BUILDINGS 4,941 3,363 8,304

LOC’S 1,359 6,390 7,749

PORTS 24 sa 122

POWERPLANTS 0 6 6

RAILROAD
YARDS 10 11s 12s

MOTORVEHICLES 2,067 2,017 4,084

RAILROAD
VEHICLES 1,095 1,219 2,314

WATERVEHICLES 3,690 5,810 9,500


TOTAL 17,832 21,718 39,55c
W.IC..
I.... mc
NOTE: SOMEFIXEDTARGETS
WERERESTRUCKNUMEROUS
TIMESANDDAMAGE
TO IHtM MAY tit
REPORTEDABOVEMORETHANONCE.

29
of his difficulties as they arose. The construction by his transportation system and industrial capa-
of alternate routes for infiltration; the use of bility, the air offensive accomplished several tasks
shuttle services, ferries, floating bridges, and by- which, if left undone, would have resulted in an
passes; and the employment of large numbers of increased ground threat to South Vietnam. The
road and bridge repair and construction labor combination of the air offensive against POL facili-
crews permitted continued operation of most ties and the transportation system increased the
LOC’s to support insurgency in the South. Equip- pressure to maintain adequate stocks, required in-
ment losses, especially truck losses, were generally creased imports, and added to port congestion in
compensated for by increased imports from Com- Haiphong. Constant harassment of the LOC’s pre-
munist countries. vented uninhibited movement of military units to
Authorization to strike POL facilities and dis- the south and caused them to move primarily at
tribution systems was obtained in mid-1966. Initial night, appreciably extending their transit time.
efforts at destroying storage sites were fairly suc- Added to the disruption of the North Vietnamese
cessful but dispersal of these facilities, which was timetable for operations in South Vietnam, these
accomplished shortly after the December 1965 efforts broug! t about economic deterioration, dis-
bombing pause, made finding the sites much more rupted normal transportation and logistic net-
difficult. By the end of September and despite the works, and aggravated management problems and
heavy emphasis on this campaign, it was estimated manpower shortages.
that at the normal rate of consumption, North After a comprehensive review of ROLLING
Vietnam retained sufficient reserves of POL to THUNDER operations, which included its objec-
maintain its military and economic activity for up tives, results, and future courses of action, CINC-
to four months’. PAC concluded that the basic objectives and.tasks
By the end of 1966 approximately 9,500 water- that had been set forth for ROLLING THUNDER
borne logistic craft, nearly 4,100 trucks, and over were still valid and that an effective ROLLING
2,000 pieces of railroad rolling stock had been THUNDER air campaign, together with contin-
either damaged or destroyed as a result of air at- ued successful operations in South Vietnam, of-
tacks. fered the greatest prospects for bringing the war
Despite the fact that the enemy was able to com- to a successful conclusion on terms advantageous
pensate for a large portion of the damage suffered to the United States and its allies.

30
ROLLING THUNDER OPERATIONS-1967
On 12 January 1967 General Earle G. Wheeler, On 18 January CINCPAC outlined the target-
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was briefed ing and operational concept to the Joint Chiefs of
on the CINCPAC concept for conducting ROLL- Staff. CINCPAC recommended the following
ING THUNDER operations in 1967. The objec- parameter in implementing the program against
tive was to bring increasing pressure so as to cause the six basic target systems-all targets in each of
North Vietnam to cease supporting, controlling, the target systems that required approval by higher
and directing insurgencies in Southeast Asia. authority should be approved as a package. This
Tasks to accomplish this objective were three: to would allow maximum flexibility in the timing of
deny North Vietnam accessto the flow of external strikes, taking into consideration intelligence and
assistance, to curtail the flow of men and supplies weather factors. Continuing pressure should be as-
from North Vietnam into Laos and South Viet- sured by striking about 15 new targets each month.
nam, and to destroy in depth those resources in The objective would be to avoid peaks and depres-
North Vietnam that contributed to support of the sions. If we were to increase the pressure on Hanoi,
aggression. a steady program of disruption against the basic
These tasks were considered interdependent and, target systems was necessary. The six target systems
in a broad sense, represented a three-pronged ap- should be considered as a single package, with each
proach that required an integrated targeting system interrelated to the other, and elements of
concept. each system should be attacked, rather than one
CINCPAC felt that accomplishment of these system at a time.
tasks was dependent on the application of continu- A breakdown by system of those targets proposed
ous and steadily increasing pressures. The applica- for strike under the concept was furnished to the
tion of steadily increasing pressure was denied us Joint Chiefs of Staff with the comment that the
in 1966 through operational restrictions and as a concept had “finite limits” and “finite goals” and
result the tasks were not accomplished. CINCPAC therefore could not be considered as “open ended.”
also felt that the best way to increase the pressure Of necessity the program was dynamic. Some tar-
was to apply continuing steady power, on a long gets would probably require periodic restrike,
term targeting basis, against key target systems. others would not. New targets would probably be
The CINCPAC concept for a long term target- generated as the enemy adjusted. When major tar-
ing program emphasized target systems, rather gets were destroyed or disrupted, minor targets
than individual sites, and stressed weight of effort which had not originally been considered worth
on a continuing basis. Since a majority of the tar- hitting would become of primary significance.
gets was in the northern area of North Vietnam, The ROLLING THUNDER campaign during
the concept focused primarily on that area. There the first quarter of 1967 was hampered by adverse
were six basic target systems: electric power, war weather typical of the northeast monsoon season,
supporting industry, transportation support facili- conditions which precluded full-scale attacks on
ties, military complexes, petroleum storage, and fixed targets and greatly reduced armed recon-
air defense. naissance. However, ground controlled radar de-

31
livery of ordnance in the southern Route Packages, ROLLING THUNDER 55 targets had been
small force attacks by Seventh Fleet A-6 aircraft, struck.
and attacks by Seventh Air Force F-105’s and F-4’s The continued strikes in the Hanoi-Haiphong
combined to keep pressure around-the-clock. area caused intensified defensive reactions to our
Of special importance was the implementation strikes. The enemy rapidly shifted concentrations
of ROLLING THUNDER 53 on 24 January and of antiaircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles
ROLLING THUNDER 54 on 23 February. Com- to those areas.
bined, they authorized strikes against 16 fixed tar- ROLLING THUNDER 55, was replaced by
gets in the vital industrial area in the northeast ROLLING THUNDER 56 on 2 May. This added
quadrant of North Vietnam. ten new fixed targets, all of which were struck
The middle of April generally marked the end by the end of May. The good weather period over
of the bad weather over North Vietnam, air ac- North Vietnam permitted maximum effort against
tivity was accelerated, and by 21 April all ROLL- all authorized targets and LO&. Of signal interest
was the concentrated program against North Viet-
ING THUNDER 54 targets had been struck.
nam’s land transportation system along the major
On 23 April the execute order for ROLLING
supply lines from Communist China. The main
THUNDER 55 was received. Armed reconnais-
effort was concentrated primarily on classification
sance operating areas remained constant while
yards, repair facilities, railroad and highway
fixed targets included one power transformer sta- bridges, and support areas. Results were excellent,
tion, a cement plant, three bridges, a rail repair particularly in the entrapment of rolling stock and
shop, an ammunition depot, a POL storage area, its subsequent destruction. Simultaneous armed
and the Kep and Hoa Lac MIG-capable airfields reconnaissance of the road and canal LOC’s con-
in the vicinity of Hanoi. Selected targets were au- tributed to intensifying overall logistical problems
thorized for strike within the ten mile circle throughout North Vietnam. This pattern of air
around Hanoi. By 28 April all but one of the attacks continued throughout 1967 with the over-

Hanoi railroad cnr repair shops.

32
all purpose of isolating Haiphong from Hanoi, and targets exposed in these previously restricted areas
Hanoi and Haiphong from the rest of the country, consisted primarily of railroad and highway bridges
especially those LOC’s radiating southward to Laos and bypasses, and supply storage areas. Penetra-
and the Demilitarized Zone. tion of these sanctuaries, coupled with the high
During July favorable weather existed in the level of damage attained, further compounded the
northern areas of North Vietnam approximately problem of transhipment of vital supplies to the
66 percent of the month. This allowed maximum South. On 24 August all targets in the Hanoi area
effort to be applied throughout North Vietnam and were again placed in a restricted status.
resulted in a record number of attack sorties flown Weather in the northern sections of North Viet-
in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas and against the nam during September was much worse than fore-
vital northern rail and road transportation system. cast and severely hampered air operations. Seven-
On 20 July ROLLING THUNDER 57, with 16 teen new targets were added to the ROLLING
new targets, was authorized. THUNDER 57 target list during September;
The period of favorable flying weather during eight were in the Hanoi restricted area and adverse
August was about 20 percent less than in July. The weather limited our effort against the remainder.
campaign in the north was stimulated by the fol- Despite the degraded effort in the northern Route
low-on authorization to ROLLING THUNDER Packages, constant pressure was maintained
57 for attacks against selected LOC in the north- through the employment of the all-weather bomb-
east. The new authorization increased the number ing systems of Air Force and Navy aircraft.
of fixed targets from 16 to 46. These strikes resulted Improved weather during October, the lifting
in marked attrition of railroad rolling stock and of the restrictio,n on authorized targets within the
interdiction of the railroad lines. In the Hanoi and Hanoi area on 23 October, and the addition of
Haiphong area, 30 fixed targets were attacked. The eight new targets to the ROLLING THUNDER

Hanoi railroad and highway bridge over the Red River.


Above, U.S. aircraft experiences near miss by enemy surface-to-air missile. Below, a missile detonating harmlessly.
57 target list permitted a 60 percent increase in at- of three to one (over 75 MIG’s downed in air-to-
tack sorties against these targets as compared to the air combat vs 25 of our aircraft). In addition to the
September effort. The eight additional targets in- air losses, strikes against three airfields resulted in
cluded seven new targets in the immediate Hai- the destruction of 15 MIG’s on the ground. MIG
phong area plus a ship repair facility near Hai- losses, however, were soon replaced by shipments
phong. The transportation, power, and air de- from the USSR and Communist China. At year’s
fense systems were dealt severe blows as a result end, some 20 aircraft were operating in North
of the 23 October authority to re-enter the Hanoi Vietnam; the remainder were believed to be in
area and to strike the new targets in and near southern China, probably for retraining and re-
Haiphong. grouping.
During November 14 new targets were added At the beginning of 1967 North Vietnam’s fight-
to the ROLLING THUNDER 57 target list bring- er aircraft were utilizing four airfields: Gia Lam,
ing it to a total of 85. Adverse weather throughout Phuc Yen, Kep, and Cat Bi. In February newly
November precluded execution of the planned air constructed Hoa Lac Airfield became serviceable
effort in the northern areas. However, of the 85 and in April our photography indicated that MIG
targets, 25 were struck one or more times during aircraft had landed there. Harassing strikes against
the month. Hoa Lac and Kep began in April and Kien An at
Although no new targets were authorized dur- Haiphong was added to the list in May. By the
ing December and the damage level to the ROLL- end of the year, all of the jet-capable or jet-po-
ING THUNDER 57 targets remained relatively tential airfields had been attacked except for Gia
unchanged, strikes were conducted against previ- Lam, the international airport at Hanoi, which
ously authorized targets. Both the Doumer and had not been authorized for strike. Although vital
Canal Des Rapides Railway and Highway Bridges ground equipment was destroyed, most of the
at Hanoi were extensively damaged during the major fields were returned to serviceability within
period 14 through 18 December. Other key targets a short time after each strike.
struck included the Hai Duong, Haiphong, and By 1967 approximately 25 SAM battalions were
Kien An Highway and Railroad Bridges and the estimated to be operational in North Vietnam and
Kien An, Yen Bai, Hoa Lot, Kep, and Phuc Yen by the end of the year more than 100 new SAM
Airfields. All were unserviceable for varying sites had been discovered. SAM coverage expanded
lengths of time. Weather continued to be the dom- to the northwest and to the area just north of the
inant factor influencing ROLLING THUNDER Demilitarized Zone. In October 1967 and again in
operations throughout North Vietnam during December, the first known SAM’s were fired at
December. The poor weather conditions signified B-52 aircraft, but they failed to damage the air-
the true beginning of the northeast monsoon which craft. Although some 3,500 SAM visual firings
would curtail air operations over North Vietnam were noted throughout 1967, compared to about
for the next three or four months. 990 in 1966, SAM effectiveness again declined. An
average of 55 SAM’s was required to down one of
NORTH VIETNAM’S AIR DEFENSE SYS-
our aircraft compared to 33 in 1966 and 13 in 1965.
TEM-1967 It was evident that our countermeasures and tech-
Although MIG pilot aggressiveness, proficiency, niques were becoming more effective.
and air tactics continued to improve in 1967, we
maintained the lead in air engagements. Averag- MINING OF NORTH VIETNAM WATERS
ing some 20 encounters per month for the year, the During 1966 the North Vietnamese made in-
North Vietnamese Air Force lost aircraft at a ratio creased use of waterborne logistic craft to transport

35
men and supplies southward. On 23 February 1967 total trucks and rail rolling stock reported as dam-
the mining of selected areas of North Vietnam was aged and destroyed for the entire year. A mid-year
authorized by higher authority. The use of air-de- estimate indicated that approximately 30 percent
livered bottom-laid mines in selected river areas of imported material was being destroyed by air
was determined to be an effective method of assist- strikes while in transit. Strikes against large mili-
ing in reduction of North Vietnamese coastal traffic. tary storage depots in the Hanoi and the Thai
Operations began in March, with all mines sown Nguyen areas destroyed additional supplies which
in the mouths of rivers. Haiphong, Hon Gai, and had arrived in North Vietnam by rail and sea.
Cam Pha deepwater ports were not authorized for Beginning in August, a major campaign was
mining. launched to isolate Hanoi and Haiphong from each
While the extent of the effectiveness of the min- other and from the northern and southern logistic
ing operations has been impossible to document routes. The campaign rendered the main bridges
because of a lack of concrete intelligence anal our in these areas unserviceable for varying lengths of
inability to maintain near-constant surveillance, time, thus making it more difficult for North Viet-
the slowdown in logistic traffic in these areas indi- nam to move imports through these major dis-
cates that the operations had a significant impact tribution centers. Numerous bypasseswere put into
on enemy activity. operation and both truck and watercraft activity
increased, denoting North Vietnam’s attempts to
TAKING THE WAR TO THE ENEMY IN overcome the bombing effects. Transportation
NORTH VIETNAM4967 clearance capacity was considerably reduced. Wa-
In reporting the achievement of our objective in tercraft were noted mooring near foreign ships in
1967, the three basic tasks we had set for ourselves order to lessen the chance of their being attacked.
provide the best means for discussing results. Large open storage areas multiplied near the Hai-
phong docks and throughout the city as the full
Denying Access to External weight of the campaign became evident. By Oc-
Assistance tober some 200,000 tons of goods imported by sea
had been accumulated and stacked in these areas.
The amount of external assistance to North Viet-
In early November intelligence indicated that the
nam had increased every year since the war began
many air alerts slowed up work on the Haiphong
and with it the tonnage of goods imported into the
docks as workers took shelter. In addition, ab-
country. In 1967 sea import tonnages were almost
senteeism among stevedores had increased because
40 percent greater than the 930,000 metric tons de-
of the dangers of coming to work. Hunger and
livered in 1966. Mining and air strikes against port
weariness among dock workers were reported.
facilities had not been authorized where third coun-
Shortages of trucks and specific types of lighters
try shipping could be endangered. However, sys-
slowed down the off-loading of ships and the clear-
tematic strikes on LOC’s greatly impeded the flow
of imported goods once they were within the ing of cargo from the port. Effective dredging of
country. These sorties included attacks against the approaches to Haiphong was reduced by the
war-supporting fixed targets as well as key LOC mere presence of United States aircraft in the area
targets to reduce the flow of imported material. and foreign merchant ships were unable to take
The advent of good weather in late May 1967 advantage of their full load capacity.
permitted a concentrated strike effort against all The overall effect of our effort to impede the
of the northern rail lines and within the Hanoi flow of external assistance resulted not only in de-
and Haiphong complexes. Strikes in June, July, struction and damage to the transportation sys-
and August accounted for over 56 percent of the tems and goods being transported but also created

36
ESTERNBYPASS DAMAGED

MAN RR/HWY BRIDGE DESTPnVCl

L EASTERNBYPASS UNDER CD&~

Haiphong railroad bridge complex,

L;C t?oLLING STOCK


ESTROYED

Kep Railroad Yard #2.

37
additional management, distribution, and man- borne infiltration in southern North Vietnam and
power problems. The attacks caused a bottleneck in the vicinity of the Demilitarized Zone.
at Haiphong where the inability to effectively move During 1967 attacks against the North Viet-
goods inland from the port resulted in conges- nam transport system resulted in destruction of
tion on the docks and a slowdown in unloading logistics carriers and their cargo as well as person-
ships. By October road and rail interdictions had nel casualties. Air attacks throughout North Viet-
reduced the transportation clearance capacity at nam destroyed or damaged over 5,260 motor ve-
Haiphong to about 2,500 tons per day. An average hicles, 2,500 pieces of railroad rolling stock, and
of 4,000 tons per day of imports had arrived in 11,500 watercraft. Naval gunfire accounted for
Haiphong during the year. over 1,500 waterborne logistic craft destroyed or
damaged. The enemy suffered additional material
Impeding Movement of Men and Material losses from destroyed rail lines, bridges, ferries,
railroad yards and shops, storage areas, and truck
Men and material needed for the level of com-
parks. Some 3,700 land targets were struck by naval
bat prevailing in South Vietnam continued to
flow despite our attacks on LOC’s, but we made gunfire, including some 300 coastal defense and
such movement increasingly costly. In the com- radar sites that were damaged or destroyed.
plementary naval gunfire program, our offensive Through assistance from other Communist coun-
operations involved 1,384 ship-days on station and tries the enemy was able to replace or rehabilitate
contributed materially toward reducing enemy sea- many of the items damaged or destroyed, and logis-

Haiphong Cement Plant.

38
tics carrier inventories thus were roughly at the Hanoi had sharply increased and only through the
same level as they were at the beginning of the willingness of other Communist countries to pro-
year. Nevertheless, construction problems and de- vide maximum replacement of goods and material
lays caused interruptions in the flow of men and had North Vietnam managed to sustain its war
supplies, caused a great loss of workhours, and re- effort.
stricted movement, particularly during daylight
Destroying in Depth the War-Making Resources
hours.
in North Vietnam
A major effect of our efforts to impede move-
ment of the enemy was to force Hanoi to divert Air attacks were authorized and executed by
the efforts of 500,000 to 600,000 civilians to full- target systems for the first time in 1967, although
time and part-time war related activities, in par- the attacks were limited to specific targets within
ticular for air defense and repair of the LOGS. each system.
This diverted manpower from other pursuits, par- Strikes against authorized targets during the
ticularly from agriculture. The estimated lower good weather period in 1967 resulted in damage
food production yields, coupled with an increase to all target systems and decreased productivity.
in food imports in 1967, indicated that agriculture The Thai Nguyen iron and steel combine, which
had difficulty in adjusting to this smaller work was North Vietnam’s major plant located 30 miles
force. (Imports in 1967 were some six times those north of Hanoi, and which had an estimated
of 1966, but an unusual drought was partly the design production capacity of some 300,000 metric
reason.) The cost and difficulties of the war to tons of pig iron annually, was first struck in the
spring of 1967. By the end of June production of By mid-November some 85 percent of the North
pig iron and coke had completely ceased as had Vietnamese power system had been rendered un-
the fabrication of bridge pontoons, barges, oil stor- serviceable, affecting industrial, government, and
age tanks, and other steel products utilized in sup- consumer needs.
porting the war effort. The status of this industry It is of vital importance, however, in viewing
when combined with the unserviceability of the results achieved by ROLLING THUNDER oper-
Haiphong Cement Plant pointed to the drastically ations during 1967, to bear in mind that the ob-
reduced North Vietnamese capabilities for con- jective of applying continuing and steadily increas-
struction and repair of LOC’s. To compensate for ing pressure over an extended period of time was
these losses North Vietnam had to look to either not attained. The objective was approached briefly
the inefficient production of the many small shops during the summer months and it was during that
of the handicraft industries or to additional im- period that the air campaign began to have its
ports from Communist China, the USSR, or the greatest impact-to make the pressure felt by the
Eastern European countries. Either adjustment enemy. The pressure period was foreshortened,
brought additional problems of distribution and even as the enemy began to hurt.
management. The requirement for additional im-
ports reduced shipping space normally allocated HOLIDAY STAND-DOWNS
to other war supplies and added to the congestion
at the ports as more ships were required to meet Prior to 1967 three cease-fires were observed in
the added requirements. South Vietnam: Christmas 1965-30 hours; Tet
Strikes against power plants in the crucial north- 1966-over four days; and Christmas 196648
east area continued during the good weather period hours. Bombing of North Vietnam had been sus-
for 1967, including the Hanoi Thermal Power pended for even longer periods. On 22 November
Plant which was struck for the first time in May. 1966 the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed the Sec-

Haiphong Thermal Power Plant.

40
retary of Defense that they opposed any stand- stand-down by 18 November 1967 when a Hanoi
downs in military operations during the holiday radio broadcast stated that the National Liberation
seasons.The Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated that if Front was ordering a suspension of military at-
a cease-fire were directed, bombing stand-downs tacks from 23 to 26 December 1967 for Christmas,
should be limited to a maximum of 48 hours in from 29 December 1967 to 1 January 1968 for the
order to minimize the military advantages to the New Year, and from 26 January to 2 February for
enemy, and that, if there was no indication of Tet.
North Vietnam’s willingness to negotiate, we On 9 December the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted
should be allowed to strike unusual military tar- that the United States would be prepared to insti-
gets in North Vietnam which might develop. This tute stand-downs of military activity for 24 hours
action by the Joint Chiefs of Stsff supported at Christmas and New Years and 48 hours at Tet.
CINCPAC’s position on this matter. They recommended to the Secretary of Defense a
During 1967 four stand-downs were observed: modification of the rules of engagement promul-
New Years-48 hours, Tet-over five days, Bud- gated in 1966 to provide authority to counter major
dha’s Birthday-24 hours, and Christmas-24 resupply and infiltration activities detected during
hours. As in the case of all previous stand-downs, the stand-down period.
those in 1967 were beneficial to the enemy. He took On 15 December 1967 the South Vietnamese
full advantage of the opportunity to conduct major government announced a 24-hour Christmas
resupply operations and to reconstitute and re- stand-down for the Allied forces, which went into
plenish his forces, all of which cost the United effect as announced.
States and other Free World forces greater On 30 December the South Vietnamese govern-
casualties. ment announced that a New Year cease-fire would
Intensive photographic reconnaissance COIl- be in effect from 31 December 1967 to 2 January
ducted over North Vietnam during the period of 1968. The cease-fire period included a 12-hour ex-
‘ret in 1967, supplemented by visual sightings from tension which the South Vietnamese government
ships and aircraft, revealed significant logistic had added in response to the appeal made by Pope
movement of materiel by water, truck, and rail Paul VI to make 1 January 1968 a “day of peace.”
transport. As a result of this reconnaissance we The same instructions governing military cease-
estimated that North Vietnam moved between fire activities at Christmas were observed during
22,300 and 25,100 tons of supplies from the north the New Year cease-fire.
into the area below 19” North in the period 8 to Prior to the 24-hour Christmas and 36-hour New
12 February. Year stand-downs there were many indications the
Evidence indicated that the North Vietnamese enemy planned to take full advantage of these
had anticipated and calculated in their planning periods, Later events proved that he conducted a
the probability of a bombing pause during Tet and massive and well organized resupply of his forces.
took full advantage of the situation. Pilot sightings and photographic coverage re-
On Buddha’s Birthday, 23 May 1967, another corded over 3,000 trucks moving in the Panhandle
stand-down was observed. This time we were au- area of North Vietnam during the two stand-
thorized to conduct both naval gunfire operations downs, the great majority heading south. Almost
and air strikes against any observed substantial 1,300 trucks were noted during Christmas and
military resupply activity in North Vietnam south about 1,800 during the slightly longer New Year
of 20” North. stand-down. This compared with a daily average
No official United States position had been an- of about 170 for the other days between 22 Decem-
nounced concerning a Christmas or New Year ber 1967 and 4 January 1968. A minimum of about
NORTH VIETNAM
TARGET ELEMENT SUMMARY
1967
TOTAL
TARGET
CATEGORY DESTROYED DAMAGED DESTROYED&
DAMAGED
.- .-

AAA/AW SITES 450 1,479 1,929

SAM SITES 33 196 229

COMMUNICATIONS
SITES IQ I21 140

MILITARYAREAS 194 614 BOE3

POLAREAS 2 130 132

STAGING/SUPPLY
AREAS 27 I,545 I,572

BUILDINGS 2,354 I, IQ3 3,547

LOC’S 013 5,684 6,497

PORTS I3 75 aa

POWERPLANTS 2 2e 30

RAILROAD
YARDS 3 176 I79

MOTORVEHICLES 2,929 2,658 5,587

RAILROAD
VEHICLES 1,077 1,434 2,5 1 1

-WATER
VEHICLES 4,396 7,367 I I,763 -
TOTAL 12,312 22,700 35,012
NOTE: SOMEFIXEDTARGETS
WERERESTRUCKNUMEROUS
TIMESANDDAMAGE
TO THEMMAY BE
REPORTEDABOVEMORETHANONCE.

42
5,000 tons was moved by the enemy toward forces were observed. If these activities had been only for
in the Demilitarized Zone and Laos. It should be internal defense, there would have been little cause
noted that almost all of these sightings were dur- for concern. However, they were undertaken
ing daylight. Poor weather undoubtedly precluded chiefly to support the external aggressive operations
numerous additional sightings. The trucks sighted of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops against
were almost ten times those sighted during the South Vietnam. The intent was purely hostile and
same holidays in 1966-67 when two 48-hour truces aggressive.

43
ROLLING THUNDER OPERATIONS JANUARY
THROUGH MARCH 1968
The effort in North Vietnam during the first tion problems for Hanoi were further aggravated
three months of 1968 was drastically curtailed due by the arrival of a near-record number of foreign
to the northeast monsoon. During all three months, ships in Haiphong in January and again in March
weather was worse than predicted. In the northern when over 40 ships arrived each month for off-load-
Route Packages there was an average of only three ing. The port of Hon Gai was used in February
days per month on which visual strikes could be as an off-loading point for a Soviet and a British
accomplished. The weather during February was ship, probably in an effort to reduce the pressure
the poorest experienced during any month since on Haiphong. This port normally served the near-
the beginning of ROLLING THUNDER. by coal mining area and did not contribute signifi-
The damage level to the fixed targets in the cantly to the flow of imports into the country.
northern sectors of North Vietnam remained rela- Expansion of the road transportation net con-
tively unchanged through the end of March. Near- tinued as North Vietnam sought to gain greater
ly all strikes required the use of all-weather bomb- flexibility by the addition of bypasses and the con-
ing techniques. Weather inhibited drastically our struction of entirely new road segments. Of par-
post-strike assessmentand we were unable to eval- ticular significance was the new route being built
uate the effectiveness of much of our effort. to connect the Ning-Ming area of Communist
ROLLING THUNDER 57 remained in effect China with the Haiphong-Cam Pha region of
through June 1968. Nine new targets were added North Vietnam, a development which would add
to the basic target list during 1968; of these seven an estimated 1,000 metric tons per day capacity to
the cross-border capability between the two coun-
were attacked.
tries. Repair efforts elsewhere in the country were
EFFECTS, JANUARY THROUGH MARCH vigorously pursued. The Paul Doumer Bridge lo-
cated immediately north of Hanoi was the object of
Bombing operations against North Vietnam con- numerous air attacks and suffered heavy damage.
tinued into 1968 with the aim of isolating the port Concurrent with construction activity at the Dou-
of Haiphong from the rest of the country to pre- mer Bridge, several bridge bypassesand ferry land-
vent the distribution within the country of mate- ings were built elsewhere along the banks of the
rial being imported. This concerted campaign Red River near the bridge, attesting to the impor-
against LOC’s around Haiphong forced the North tance of the route in the movement of material
Vietnamese to adopt extraordinary efforts to main- from Communist China and inland from Hai-
tain a flow of material over existing lines. Distribu- phong.

44
Rolling stock attrition on Railroad #7.

Tarn Da Railroad Bypass #2.

45
NORTH VIETNAM
TARGET El-EMENT SUM MARY
1968
TOTAL
TARGETCATEGORY DESTROYED DAMAGED DESTROYED&
DAMAGED
-- -. ---

AAA/AW SITES 143 333 476

SAM SITES 14 76 90

COMMUNICATIONS
SITES 1e 70 8e

MILITARYAREAS 25 142 167

POLAREAS 34 lB0 214

STAGING/SUPPLY
AREAS 54 479 533

BUILDINGS 532 232 764

LOC’S 199 2,533 2,732

PORTS 3 10 13

POWERPLANTS 1 5 6

RAILROAD
YARDS 0 6 6

MOTORVEHICLES 2,234 2,470 4,704

RAILROAD
VEHICLES 139 209 348

WATERVEHICLES
- - __- ~___
1,200
___. -
1,515 2,715
-~__--
____-- -~-.. .I ---
TOTAL 4,596 8,260 12,856
NOTE: SOMEFIXEDTARGETS
WERERESTRUCKNUMEROUS TO THEMMAY BE
TIMESANDDAMAGE
REPORTEDABOVEMORETHANONCE.

46
CURTAILMENT OF ROLLING THUNDER OPERATIONS
On 1 April in a further attempt to get Hanoi to roads between Hanoi, Haiphong, and Hon Gai
the peace conference table, the President of the were reported to be well maintained. Bridges be-
United States stopped bombing attacks over the tween Hanoi and Haiphong had been repaired and
principal populated and food producing areas of traffic flowed smoothly during day and night hours.
North Vietnam except in the area north of the Limited aerial reconnaissance provided evidence
Demilitarized Zone where enemy actions directly of large rolling stock inventories in Hanoi and Hai-
threatened United States and Free World forces in phong but coverage was too infrequent to deter-
South Vietnam. Because ROLLING THUNDER mine a buildup or increased movement. In view of
was thus limited, primary strike emphasis was di- the bombing limitations and apparent repairs, it is
rected against truck parks, storage areas, and mili- logical to assume that Hanoi moved maximum ton-
tary complexes. Armed reconnaissance strikes were nages over LOC’s in the northern part of the
directed against logistic vehicles and interdiction country.
points along the main LOC’s. South of 19” North there was evidence to indicate
that intensive air strikes had resulted in shifting
NORTH VIETNAM’S ACTIVITY DURlNG
traffic patterns. There appeared to be a concerted
THE PARTIAL BOMBING CESSATZON
effort to keep cargo moving through the use of
Intelligence sources reported extensive repair and inland and secondary routes.
improvements to North Vietnam’s LOC’s under- Reports since the 1 April bombing limitation
way or completed since the bombing cessation. The indicated that off-loaded cargo at Haiphong was
not being stacked but was being loaded directly hanced by the addition of height finders. The ra-
onto trucks which immediately departed the wharf dar net was evaluated as having the capability to de-
area. Photos revealed extensive storage throughout tect and track aircraft above 1,500 to 2,000 feet and
the port area but stockpiles did not remain static, the net was also probably sufficiently sophisticated
suggesting that cargo flowed unrestricted. The to maintain continuity of tracking and coordinate
labor supply at the docks was reported as adequate air defense even under pressure of multiple pene-
and efficient and the morale of the stevedores was trations. GCI radars provided control for jet op-
reported as high. erations in the Haiphong-Hanoi-Thai Nguyen
Once the presence of United States aircraft over areas, and, for a time, in the southern Panhandle
the northern portion of the country was stopped, in early 1968. A total of more than 350 radars was
North Vietnam took maximum advantage of the carried in North Vietnam’s inventory at the end
freedom of action by increasing training activities of April 1968. Fire-control radar was believed to be
of all elements of the air defense system. increasing in the southern Panhandle following
As of the date of this report, there are no indica- the limitation on bombing.
tions that Hanoi is ready to negotiate an accepta- The concentration of our strikes in the Panhan-
bl e peace at Paris. The North Vietnamese delega- dle in April 1968 led to apparent attempts by
tion gives the impression that it is prepared for long North Vietnam’s Air Force to establish a fighter
drawn-out discussions. In the meantime, Hanoi capability again at Vinh, but our strikes at that
continues to try to give the impression that the airfield in May left it unserviceable. Construction
Communist forces in South Vietnam are strong continued at Yen Bai; and the airfield was capable
everywhere. The offensive against Saigon begun of supporting limited operations by May 1968, thus
in late May sought to undermine popular support extending the North Vietnamese air defense ca-
of South Vietnam and to strengthen Hanoi’s hand pability to the northwest. The bombing limitation
in the peace talks in Paris. permitted airfields to be repaired and construc-
tion projects to be resumed.
NORTH VIETNAM’S AIR DEFENSE
In the first months of 1968 the overall level of
SYSTEM MID-1968
MIG reactions was low. However, continued in-
The deployment and increase in the number of dividual MIG flights into the area south of 20”
AAA weapons was rapid after the Gulf of Tonkin North demonstrated an increasing aggressiveness
incidents. In mid-February 1965 the AAA order and refinement of tactics. Air engagements re-
of battle had increased by some 1,400 weapons to sulted in the downing of nine MIG’s and eight of
a total of more than 2,100. In May 1965 search- our aircraft. The North Vietnamese fighter air-
lights were identified for the first time, and in July craft inventory remained at about 20 to 25, primar-
1965 the introduction of loo-mm AAA enhanced ily based at Phuc Yen and Gia Lam.
the enemy air defenses by providing a gun capa- Observed SAM activity was relatively light be-
bility against aircraft flying at altitudes up to nearly cause of limited United States air activity in SAM-
40,000 feet. By April 1968 there were 8,000 AAA defended areas. At the end of April the number
weapons, the majority of which were light AAA of SAM sites identified since the beginning of the
and automatic weapons. war totaled almost 300. SAM effectiveness con-
In 1966, 1967, and the first half of 1968, early tinued its downward trend between January and
warning equipment continued to be modernized April when the ratio of SAM’s fired to aircraft
and increased to provide extensive overlapping downed was 67 to 1. As the bombing pause con-
coverage of all of North Vietnam and into Laos tinued, it was expected that North Vietnam likely
in the west and over the Gulf of Tonkin to the would move SAM units and other air defense re-
south and east. Altitude discrimination was en- sources to the areas south of the restricted zone.

48
NAVAL SURFACE OPERATIONS
Our ROLLING THUNDER air campaign was defense. Attacks on watercraft engaged in fishing
not the only means by which we took the war to or in nonmilitary pursuits were prohibited.
the enemy in North Vietnam. Our naval surface These operations, conducted under the nick-
forces also conducted a vigorous and unremitting name SEA DRAGON were initiated on 25 Octo-
campaign against logistic craft in North Vietnam- ber by the destroyers Mansfield and Hanson. Both
ese waters and against land targets within the ships proceeded to the assigned interdiction zone,
range of their guns. which was limited to a 12-mile belt of water ex-
On 14 May 1965 the use of naval gunfire in tending from the Demilitarized Zone to 17’30’
support of friendly forces in South Vietnam had North. During the first day of operations both
been authorized. The results that were obtained ships came under fire from North Vietnamese
proved the value of such support. shore batteries, which they returned.
To augment ROLLING THUNDER opera- During the short period of their employment in
tions, particularly during periods of adverse weath- October, SEA DRAGON forces fired 1,354 rounds
er and reduced visibility, we believed that naval of five-inch ammunition against enemy water-
gunfire could be employed effectively against craft destroying 101 and damaging 94 others.
North Vietnam as well. There were significant Counter-battery fire totaled 426 rounds.
Navy resources with such capability already in the The Demilitarized Zone was a secure sanctuary
Gulf of Tonkin. These were engaged in missions of for the enemy during the first half of 1966, not be-
early warning and search and rescue, and they sup- cause of a lack of friendly firepower capability, but
ported our aircraft carrier operations. Except for because of United States restraint. But on 20 July,
defensive action, however, this capability had not the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized limited United
yet been exploited against North Vietnam. States actions to counter the serious threat posed
CINCPAC suggested that naval gunfire could by North Vietnamese Army infiltrees through the
divert and dilute some of North Vietnam’s defen- Demilitarized Zone. Thereafter, our comande,rs
sive efforts, which were concentrated on air de- could conduct air strikes and artillery fire (land and
fense, and thereby aid in reducing pilot and air- naval) against clearly defined military activity
craft exposure and attrition. On 13 May 1966 in the area south of the Demarcation Line.
therefore, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended As late as 24 November 1966, however, the rules
to the Secretary of Defense that naval gunfire be of engagement prohibited employment of artillery
authorized against targets ashore and in the coastal and naval gunfire against even clearly defined mili-
waters of North Vietnam in the area 17” to 20” tary activity in the Demilitarized Zone north of the
North. Demarcation Line. This facilitated the establish-
Authority was received on 15 October to conduct ment of extensive enemy field fortifications with
surface ship operations against waterborne traffic particular emphasis on antiaircraft artillery.
in the coastal waters south of 17’30’ North, but On 11 November in connection with imple-
shore bombardment was only authorized in self- mentation of ROLLING THUNDER 52, the

49
SEADRAGON
OPERATION
AREAS

‘.

..

.
-18"

50
northern boundary of the SEA DRAGON area decrease in waterborne logistic craft trafic during
was extended northward to 18” North. the first quarter of 1967.
By the end of 1966 SEA DRAGON forces, con- SEA DRAGON forces continued to apply pres-
sisting of two destroyers on station at a time, had sure on waterborne logistic craft, lines of commu-
destroyed 382 waterborne logistic craft (a collec- nication, radar and antiaircraft artillery sites, and
tive term for the small watercraft used to transport other military targets along the coastline of North
men and supplies) and damaged another 325, de- Vietnam between 17” and 20” North. In May the
stroyed five shore batteries and damaged two, and greatest number of waterborne logistic craft de-
destroyed two radar sites and damaged two more. tected during the SEA DRAGON campaign was
Equally significant, SEA DRAGON had forced the encountered-635 craft. We destroyed or damaged
bulk of the logistic movement that had been sea- 257 of them. On 22 May alone, elements of SEA
borne back into the crowded land routes or into DRAGON forces, in coordination with Seventh
the inland waterways where it was subject to at- Air Force ROLLING THUNDER operations,
trition from the air. struck the Quang Khe Ferry Complex in the south-
By the end of the year, it appeared that the ern portion of North Vietnam and destroyed at
enemy had concentrated his coastal defense bat- least 40 waterborne logistic craft.
teries in the SEA DRAGON area. CINCPAC pro- June 1967 saw a decline in watercraft detected,
posed to the Jo’int Chiefs of Staff that naval sur- and July an even greater decrease. The reduction
face operations in 1967 should be extended north- may have been due to a decrease in availability of
ward. Diluting the enemy’s defenses would reduce or a reluctance on the part of the enemy to expose
the threat to friendly forces. Since the naval gunfire the craft available to him. On the other hand there
effort against coastal waterborne logistic traffic in was a significant increase in the number of land
1966 proved to be an effective complement to targets struck in July, 518 as compared to the
ROLLING THUNDER operations, its extension
previous monthly high of 374 in March. SEA
northward would also compound the enemy’s logis-
DRAGON forces tripled the July figure in August
tic problems by forcing him to transport additional
when 245 logistic craft were damaged or destroyed.
materials over already overtaxed land lines of
Over 1,000 fixed or moving targets were taken
communication.
under fire.
Early in 1967 the SEA DRAGON effort was en-
In September SEA DRAGON forces continued
hanced by the assignment of the first Australian
patrolling between 17” and 20” North. The num-
destroyer to the task force. Since that time an Aus-
tralian ship has been on station off Vietnam either ber of waterborne logistic craft sighted decreased
as part of the SEA DRAGON force or providing considerably over the previous month. SEA
naval gunfire support to our forces in South DRAGON forces were then moved to the Demili-
Vietnam. tarized Zone area to provide naval gunfire support
On 27 February with ROLLING THUNDER for our land forces. During their absence, late in
54, the area of operation was extended to 20’ September, a marked increase in waterborne logis-
North. At the same time, naval gunfire against tic craft and truck activity was observed and the
military and logistic targets ashore was also au- SEA DRAGON forces were returned to their
thorized. To more effectively complement ROLL- regular missions.
ING THUNDER operations, SEA DRAGON During the fourth quarter of 1967 there was a
forces were increased to one cruiser and four de- 62 percent decrease in the number of waterborne
stroyers composing two separate task units. At- logistic craft detected compared to the third quar-
tendant with the increase in ships, there was a ter. This decrease could be attributed to a ,combi-

51
nation of poor weather and the continued deter- the movement of supplies in the coastal waters and
rent of SEA DRAGON forces. In the same period, assisted in the interdiction of land routes within
however, 1,707 land targets were struck as com- their gun range.
pared to 1,258 in the third quarter, a 36 percent Seaborne infiltration of enemy personnel and
Increase. supplies from North Vietnam was considered by
During 1967 the number of ships assigned to this time to be making a relatively small contribu-
SEA DRAGON at any one time fluctuated. In one tion toward meeting requirements. Naval surface
instance there were eight ships assigned, but nor- operations had reduced this enemy capability. As
mal force composition was five ships, a cruiser and in the ground war, however, the enemy appeared
four destrovers, operating in two task units. willing to accept high losses and continued his at-
CINCPAC recommended that a battleship be tempts to resupply in certain hard-pressed combat
made available to take advantage of its greater fire- areas.
power. As a result, in August, the Department of During the first three months of 1968 the enemy
Defense approved the reactivation and refitting of increased pressure along the Demilitarized Zone
the mothballed New Jersey, with deployment and stepped up logistic movement in the southern
scheduled for the fall of 1968. portion of North Vietnam. SEA DRAGON ships
Damage to our ships from North Vietnamese were shifted southward to provide increased naval
coastal defense artillery was light in comparison gunfire support for our forces in the general area
to the damage and destruction they caused. Al- of the Demilitarized Zone. Only two destroyers pa-
though the accuracy of North Vietnamese gun trolled the southern SEA DRAGON area, yet 34
crews improved throughout the year, it appeared percent of the detected waterborne logistic craft
that evasive action and other tactics employed by were destroyed or damaged. Land targets taken un-
our ships offset the improved accuracy of coastal der attack remained high, but the poor weather
batteries. precluded adequate assessmentof results. The April
After one full year of operations, SEA DRAGON 1968 decision to limit attacks on North Vietnam to
ships had destroyed or damaged over 2,000 water- the area below 19” North further reduced the SEA
borne logistic craft, attacked over 3,300 selected DRAGON interdiction zone by one-third, but in
shore targets, and engaged in over 150 duels with the area where operations were permitted our ships
enemy shore batteries. They significantly recluced continued to distinguish themselves.

52
EFFECTS OF ROLLING THUNDER
Despite operational restrictions, weather cycles, reduced output of food. ROLLING THUNDER
and a resourceful enemy, ROLLING THUNDER also complicated the government’s collection and
operations had a profound effect on North Viet- distribution of food and impacted on the narrow
nam. By April 1968 when air operations over the margins of agricultural sufficiency.
northern areas were stopped, North Vietnam was Air operations destroyed most of North Viet-
faced with numerous and serious problems. The nam’s heavy industry and power generating capa-
cumulative effe,cts of air operations and the de- bility. Hanoi was forced into a defensive posture
mands of the war in South Vietnam resulted in marked by frustrations and delayed aspirations.
unprecedented stresses and strains on the North Transportation and industry were forced to dis-
Vietnamese economy, production and distribution perse, thereby creating problems dealing with the
systems, the life of the people, and the political con- redistribution of labor, allocation of raw materials,
trol apparatus. Conditions may have been sufhci- and control of output. The attendant managerial
ently serious to have induced North Vietnam to problems were immense.*
use the tactic of “negotiation” to gain a period of North Vietnam’s exports drastically declined
relief in order to rectify its more pressing prob- from the 1966 average of 100,000 metric tons per
lems, and to reinvigorate support of the war in month to tonnages on the order of 20,000 per
South Vietnam. month. This decline was attributed to the bomb
Perhaps the most significant manpower drain destruction of industry, interdiction of lines of
was caused by the rapid expansion of the armed communication, and the disruption of port
forces to supply replacements for the war in the operations.
south and to man air and coastal defenses in the The air operations caused a decline in the stand-
north. In addition, workers were needed to repair ard of living, particularly for the urban dweller but
and maintain the vital lines of communication. also for the rural peasant. Dislocation of people,
This included the repair of roads and rail lines, interdiction of transportation, destruction of goods,
and reconstruction of bridges and ferry crossings and more stringent rationing of all commodities
damaged or destroyed by our air campaign. An- including food and clothing impacted adversely on
other important manpower requirement was for the people and were in varying degrees attribut-
the rapidly expanded air defense system. Workers able to ROLLING THUNDER. Shortages of
were needed for site construction and as laborers food, particularly rice, affected the cities, but im-
at the many hastily built radar, antiaircraft artil- ports continued to provide marginally sufficient
lery, and surface-to-air missile sites. Most of these food. Food consumption levels continued to be
people came from agriculture; and women, chil- stringent and caloric intake appeared to drop
dren, and old people were forced to fill the man- to levels that threatened the effectiveness of the
power gap in the economy. working force.
In addition to the manpower problems, air oper- The impact of ROLLING THUNDER on
ations affected farm schedules and compounded morale in North Vietnam was a difficult matter to
problems caused by bad weather, resulting in a assess.Prior to the more intense air operations,

53
the morale of the people had not been an over- tion of lines of communication and a return to a
riding concern of their government. Under the more normal pattern of living. The North Viet-
intensified air attacks, morale appeared to have namese had long demonstrated extreme resource-
slipped, particularly in the urban centers, as the fulness at repairing damage caused by ROLLING
people tended increasingly to question the propa- THUNDER. With the fear of air raids eliminated
ganda concerning their ultimate victory. in most areas, they have worked vigorously at re-
All of these economic and sociological problems pair and rebuilding, particularly of their lines of
were in varying degrees a result of air operations. communication.
The stresses they created contributed to an in- Perhaps the most important measure of the ef-
creased divergence between the authoritarian ideals fects of the bombing, however, would be the con-
and objectives of the government and its actual sideration of the situation if there had been no
capability to control and manage. As air operations bombing at all. The uninhibited flow of men,
intensified, North Vietnam responded with in- weapons, and supplies through North Vietnam to
creased concern for internal security, particularly confront our forces in South Vietnam could have
as it related to control of the people during air had only one result for the United States and its
raids. The physical relocation of governmment of- allies-considerably heavier casualties at a smaller
fices and ministries from the capital and the inter- cost to the enemy. Since this alternative was unac-
diction of transportation and communications in- ceptable, the bombing of North Vietnam, as an es-
troduced confusion and even greater ineffciencies. sential element of the overall strategy, was clearly
Cessation of bombing has allowed a reconstitu- successful in fulfilling its purposes.

54
PACIFIC COMMAND-WIDE EFFORTS IN
SUPPORT OF THE WAR

LOGISTICS
A significant aspect of the war in Vietnam has predominantly Marines. The Army was assigned
been the continuous provision of effective logis- those functions in the other three zones.
tics support to United States and other Free World The lack of sufficient logistical support units
forces without mobilization of our national econ- was compensated for by the use of civilian contrac-
omy. The technology of modern logistics has been tors in this limited war environment. The unpre-
given a severe test. Responsive and timely logistics cedented amounts of munitions and petroleum
support by all of the Services and application of that were required were successfully moved over
modern airlift combined with a large fleet some of the longest resupply routes ever utilized
of freighters have been the keys to success. Com- by our forces.
puter-aided procedures were used to predict logis- The war in Vietnam fostered a gradual change
tics requirements, to test the feasibility of support- in the character of logistics management at the
ing incremental troop strength increases, and to Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, Pacific.
plan the buildup of the logistics base. Far greater emphasis was placed upon the control
Logistics support workloads were assigned to of transportation assets, munitions resupply, con-
adapt to Service needs and capabilities. Primary struction programs, and critical items. It became
logistics functions in the northernmost Combat apparent that the Unified Commander must con-
Tactical Zone in South Vietnam, for example, were trol the allocation of limited services and materiel
given to the Commander in Chief of the Pacific to those multi-Service theater needs of highest
Fleet because the combat forces in that zone were priority.

MUNITIONS
The intensified Southeast Asia air operations of essential parts such as fins or fuzes, which had been
mid-1965 caused a significant drawdown of the shipped separately.
limited resources of air munitions. The air muni,, In April 1966 CINCPAC received authority to
tions inventory reached a low point in June 1966. control all air munitions within the Pacific Com-
Because of the production lag it was necessary to mand. Immediate action was taken to draw from
ship directly from the various production lines to all available stocks and redistribute critical muni-
oversea destinations. Therefore, it often happened tions without regard for Service ownership. High-
that bombs were available but not usable without er authority took action to increase production

55
and to redistribute munitions from worldwide This was accomplished and in July 1967 the allo-
stocks, especially from Air Force and Navy depots cation of ground munitions was taken over by the
in the United States. newly established Military Services Ammunition
By the end of 1966 the problems of specific Allocation Board.
shortages and incomplete rounds were fairly well Through careful management of assets,a steady
resolved. flow of air and ground munitions was maintained
In December 1966 the Joint Chiefs of Staff through the pipeline to Southeast Asia, even as
identified certain ground munitions in critical the war tempo increased. To balance requirements
short supply and requested CINCPAC to provide of all users, CINCPAC adjusted Pacific Command
the Department of the Army a desired allocation inventories and redistributed theater assets when-
of these items for the subsequent six-month period. ever necessary.

PETROLEUM
The evolution of petroleum, oil, and lubricants ence to a policy of keeping all POL tanks as full
(POL) support of the war in Southeast Asia as possible, assured adequate POL support to all
since the Tonkin Gulf incident was marked by a types of air, sea, and ground operations.
300 percent increase in consumption throughout When the Arab-Israeli frontier war broke out
the Pacific Command, the construction of over in June 1967, quick action was taken to prevent
ten million barrels of new tankage, and the estab- a potential POL shortage. Most of the POL re-
lishment of new distribution systems and methods. quirements in the Pacific Command, including
In Vietnam, there was a transition from a strictly those for Southeast Asia operations, were being
provided from the Middle East. When that source
commercial POL supply system to a combined ci-
of supply was substantially cut off, it became neces-
vilian-military system, using newly established
sary to draw from various POL inventories in the
POL ports of entry, tank farms, pipelines, and theater and to increase the use of Western Hemi-
distribution methods. Floating POL storage and sphere oil. As a result, actual shortages did not de-
shuttle tanker and coastal tanker delivery systems velop in either Southeast Asia or the key island
were also established. These actions, plus adher- bases supporting combat operations.

CRITICAL ITEMS SUPPORT


Intensive logistics management alleviated prob- airshipped to Southeast Asia. Deficiencies of these
lems in supply and maintenance. items were overcome by May 1967.
Lightweight utility uniforms and direct-molded- In 1965 friendly combat units not equipped with
sole tropical boots, both highly desirable items in a the new M16/M16Al rifles were often outgunned
hot, wet climate, were newly developed anal still in short range engagements. Issue of this weapon
had been authorized to United States, South Viet-
in short supply when the Southeast Asia buildup
namese, and other Free World forces, but suffi-
began. CINCPAC established a system of issue
cient production had not been attained to supply
priorities so that the supply that was available the demand. CINCPAC recommended and re-
would go to the forces that needed them the most. ceived priority allocation to the Pacific Command
Contractor schedules were accelerated by the De- of whatever M16/M16Al rifles were available in
fense Supply Agency and factory deliveries were order to place firepower where it was most critical.

56
0 0
z ua 0 0 lm
z cv 0” cn
- - - - z z z m -
-

57
:<zg&j26 0. -Gf)---,-,

-- --- -- -- - -
Consistent with armed forces procurement regu- Facilities in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and the
lations and gold flow considerations, supply respon- Philippines were developed to meet requirements
siveness was improved with the procurement of for repairing or rebuilding equipment from Viet-
selected items in friendly Asian and Pacific coun- nam. The time required for these services was thus
tries to augment the normal flow from the United reduced for such items as armored personnel car-
States. Certain construction materials and food- riers, wheeled vehicles, material handling equip-
stuffs were procured in this manner. ment, and harbor craft.

CONSTRUCTION
In early 1965 a massive construction program many smaller ports for shallowdraft ships. Where
was undertaken to provide the base facilities neces- once there were three jet runways at three small
sary for the support of Allied forces in Vietnam. bases, by 1968 there were 15 jet runways at eight
For the first time in United States military history major airbases. In addition, there were more than
a major part of the construction effort in an active 200 smaller airfields and almost 200 heliports.
combat theater was accomplished by civilian con- Major bases were built for complete tactical units.
tractors. In 1965 South Vietnam had one major Major construction of storage depots, hospitals,
port, which was located at Saigon. By 1968 there communications sites, roads, and bridges was being
were seven deep-water ports with 32 berths and completed in record time.

I’han Ikmg Airbnse, South Vietnam.


MILITARY CONSTRUCTION VIETNAM
PROGRAMS THROUGH 30 JUNE 1968

IS IN M’LL’oNS
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION THAILAND
PROGRAMS THROUGH 30 JUNE IS68

I-$ IN MILLIONS

UUUN
KANCHANAkltRl
v vu1* lvIuAI*u

KAMPHAENG )
\
l BANCKC.7 f
SAEN 1 0

60
The $1.6 billion construction program nearing a $400 million construction program. This included
completion in South Vietnam in 1968 was executed a major deep-water port at Sattahip; a new opera-
by civilian contractors and 44 battalion-size mili- tional airbase at U-Tapao; communications, stor-
tary construction units. In support of Southeast age areas, and major expansion of six Royal Thai
Asia operations, civilian contractors and troop units airbases.
in Thailand at the same time neared completion of

COMMUNICATIONS-ELECTRONICS
With the buildup of forces in Southeast Asia, to automatic message switching centers and tele-
Pacific Command communications and electronics phone exchanges was well underway.
facilities underwent major expansion, upgrading, Support of Southeast Asia operations also re-
and reorientation. High quality communications quired a major expansion of air traffic control,
were required not only in Southeast Asia and to flight following, and navigation facilities. Surveil-
deployed combat forces in the Western Pacific, but lance and warning systems were expanded and im-
also to those support elements scattered through- proved. Automated command and control facili-
out the command. The result was the establishment ties and their supporting communications were
of an integrated communications system in sup- cleveloped to meet the quick reaction times re-
port of Southeast Asia operations extending from quired of forces in the field.
Hawaii to Korea in the north, to Vietnam and Pacific Command radio frequency management
Thailand in the south, and along the island chain requirements kept pace with the increased tempo
from the Philippines to Japan. of operations. The number of radio frequencies in
The buildup in the Pacific since 1964 resulted in use in the Pacific climbed from 12,000 to 21,000.
a dramatic increase in communications operations. The major communications problem stemmed
Teletype message traffic at the CINCPAC Com- from the long lead time involved in the processing
munications Center at Camp Smith, Hawaii, rose and implementation of major telecommunications
from 29,000 to 60,000 per month. Message traffic requirements. CINCPAC had developed and sub-
in the command at large increased from approxi- mitted a plan for long-haul communications in
mately 12 million messagesin 1964 to over 18 mil- Southeast Asia before the buildup of United States
lion in 1967. Telephone calls through the Joint forces began. The plan was restudied and approved
Overseas Switchboard in Hawaii increased from for implementation when the decisions were made
27,000to 150,000a month. to deploy forces. Pacific Command communica-
To meet this vastly increased traffic load and tions capability, however, has lagged behind the
provide the needed quality for passing secure voice requirements ever since. Considering the long lead
and high speed data stream communications be- times required to obtain operating systems, the
tween the highest levels of government and tactical availability of the basic plan was most important.
units in the field, the primary Pacific Command Without it as a place to start, the situation would
communications network evolved from narrow- have been almost impossible. By mid-1968 we
band, high f requency radio to wide-band, cable, were on our third expansion of that basic plan but
tropospheric, and microwave radio for regional had not yet caught up with the snowballing re-
distribution. The number of circuits in the Defense quirements which resulted from force expansion
’ Communications System in the theater increased in Southeast Asia.
from 3,500 to 13,900. At the same time, conversion CINCPAC believed from the outset that the

61
cost of engineering for future expansions and a limiting factor in the planning or conduct of oper-
moderate initial capability in excess of minimum ations, or in the management of material or per-
requirements was both reasonable and cost effec- sonnel, the approved and funded programs are not
tive, and experience has proven this view correct. totally adequate, and efforts to improve Pacific
While there has been no positive indication that Command communications capabilities should be
a lack of long-lines communications has been a continued.

TRANSPORTATION
The fluid combat situation in South Vietnam, Saigon was the original aerial port in Vietnam.
the lack of sufficient ground lines of communica- To meet the increased airlift movement from the
tion, and the vulnerability of the existing meager United States to Vietnam, new aerial ports were
ground LOC’s placed unprecedented demands opened at Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, Bien Hoa, and
upon airlift. With increased requirements for air Phu Cat. By 1968, 1,000 tons of high priority cargo
transportation throughout the Pacific Command were received each day in Vietnam through these
the need for a CINCPAC agency to supervise the ports and Tan Son Nhut. About 200 aircraft, most
use of intratheater airlift became apparent. To fill of which were long-range jets, were committed to
this need the Western Pacific Transportation Office this task. A dramatic display of our strategic air-
was established at Tachikawa, Japan. As the co- lift capability was the deployment of two brigades
ordinator between users of airlift and the airlift of the 1Olst Airborne Division from Fort Campbell,
operating units, the Western Pacific Transporta- Kentucky to Vietnam in December 1967. Military
tion Office has played a vital role. In the early Airlift Command C-141 Starlifters and C-133
phases of the war, airlift in Vietnam was provided Cargomasters, flying nearly 400 missions, moved
by the 315th Air Division, headquartered in Japan. almost 10,000 troops and over 5,000 tons of cargo.
The tactical situation demanded command and
The main body, consisting of 8,500 troops and
control within South Vietnam of all airlift re-
4,000 tons of equipment, moved from their original
sources. To meet the need, the 834th Air Division
base to the combat zone in less than 18 days.
was activated in October 1966 to operate the tac-
In late 1965 surface shipments began to over-
tical airlift system for the Seventh Air Force. As-
sets included C-123 and C-7A aircraft, augmented whelm the receiving capability of Saigon, the only
by C-130’s of the 315th Air Division. The latter established port in South Vietnam. CINCPAC as-
were rotated to Vietnam from off-shore locations signed priority to port construction. This led to the
and were under operational control of the 834th rapid development of four new major ports and
Air Division while in South Vietnam. numerous over-the-beach operation sites. By July
By early 1968, 96 C-130’s were operating in 1968 almost 98 percent of the dry cargo as well as
South Vietnam. New records of airlift accomplish- all bulk petroleum products were being moved to
ments included 137,000 tons lifted in March 1968 South Vietnam by ship. Tonnages delivered by sur-
and 4,939 sorties in support of emergency requests face transport have multiplied more than six times
in February 1968. Hundreds of unit moves in di- since early 1965. Over 250 military controlled cargo
rect support of ground operations were completed. ships supported the Pacific Command. On a typical
Air support alone sustained the garrison under day, 30 ships were being loaded at United States
siege at Khe Sanh where 12,430 tons of cargo were ports for Vietnam, 55 ships were in Vietnam ports,
delivered by air between 31 January and 8 April 150 were at sea, and 25 were working in and be-
1968. tween other Pacific Command ports.

62
Above, The site for Newport, near Saigon, before construction began. Belou/, The completed port in operation.
Belozu, Port facilities at Dong Tam, South Vietnam in the Delta region. Above, A view of the area before construction
began.

64
Mll-ITARY CARGO HANDLED IN SOUTH VIETNAM PORTS
THOUSANDS
OF TONS OUTI-OAD AND DISCHARGE
1,400

1,300

1,200

1,100

1,000

900

800

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

0
AUGSEPOCTNOVOECJANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDECJANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDECJANFEBMARAPRMAYJUN
1965 1966 1967 1968
CINCPAC also established two movement con- ing ship turnarounds. Faster and more efficient
trol agencies, a branch of the Western Pacific handling of supplies in port areas also came with
Transportation Of&e at Yokohama, Japan, and the introduction of roll-on/roll-off ships, which
the Pacific Command Movements Priority Agency loaded or unloaded their cargo in one day. In 1966
at Oakland, California, to control the flow of cargo of the time taken by conventional ships. Another
to South Vietnam from Pacific Command and improvement was the use of container ships, which
United States ports. These agencies assured that loaded or unloaded their cargo in one day. In 1966
urgently required cargoes were transported the Pacific Command Joint Transportation Board
promptly and that the number of ships awaiting became operational to assist the CINCPAC in the
discharge in South Vietnam was held to a control of transportation activities, resolution of
minimum. transportation problems, and establishment of over-
A CINCPAC recommendation that ships be all priorities for the allocation of transportation
loaded in the United States for a single port of dis- resources.
charge in Vietnam was a major factor in expedit-

MILITARY ASSISTANCE, SERVICE FUNDED


By early 1966 it became apparent that Military Military Assistance Program to the military serv-
Assistance Program funding and procedures were ices. The transfer progressed smoothly, with no
not adequate for, nor compatible with, the ex- degradation of support. Under the revised system,
panded operational role which had been imposed plans and programs for the support of forces in
upon Free World forces fighting in Vietnam. The Vietnam were developed by the Commander of the
Military Assistance Program was designed to pro- Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. After re-
vide deterrence and a capacity for initial defense view and approval by the CINCPAC and the Serv-
against aggression, not to underwrite sustained ice Component Commanders, they were forwarded
military operations. Consequently, in 1966 the re- to the military departments for approval and fund-
sponsibility for the support of Vietnamese and ing action.
other Free World forces was transferred from the

MEDICAL SUPPORT
The United States military medical effort in Viet- der conditions of time urgency and fund limita-
nam required the backup support of an extensive tion. These factors made it necessary to modify
system of hospitals in the Pacific Command. These nonhospital buildings already in United States
hospitals of the three Services have provided de- possession, though some were not in ideal loca-
finitive surgical care second to none in the world. tions. From a total of 1,448 beds in January 1965,
From 1963 to May 1968, of the wounded surviving bed capacity had been increased to nearly 9,000 beds
to reach a hospital, only three percent died. From by June 1968.
40 to 45 percent of the patients evacuated to hos- The joint medical regulating system guided the
pitals outside of Vietnam were later returned to evacuation of 80,000 patients from Vietnam; 62,000
duty within the command. going to hospitals in the Pacific Command and the
This excellent hospital system was developed un- remainder to the continental United States. The

67
transportation of these casualties was accomplished geons of all Services formulated professional guid-
by Pacific Air Force and Military Airlift Com- ante for care of casualties based on the latest evolv-
mand aircraft with medical flight crews. ing experience. Proceedings of these conferences
Under the auspices of the CINCPAC, a series of have been made available to each military medical
War Surgery Conferences was held at which sur- service.

PRISONERS OF WAR
The treatment of United States prisoners of war little avail and the actual number of United States
was of constant concern. The International Com- personnel held and the treatment they received is
mittee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was the main still not precisely known.
point of contact on these matters. The ICRC, South Vietnam, on the other hand, cooperated
through State Department and military efforts, with the ICRC and fulfilled all requirements for
constantly encouraged North Vietnamese compli- Viet Cong and North Vietnamese personnel held
ance with the Geneva Convention concerning as prisoners of war. South Vietnam maintained
treatment of prisoners, relief packages, mail, re- custody of all prisoners of war captured in South
patriation of sick and wounded, and exchange of Vietnam, including those taken by allied forces.
prisoner lists. All efforts, however, have been to

MORALE OF FORCES
The morale of United States forces involved in man to have one respite of five or six-day duration
the war in Vietnam was consistently high. This from the combat zone during his tour. Ten sites,
condition could be attributed to a belief in the mis- ranging from Tokyo to Sydney and from Hawaii
sion of the United States in Vietnam, pride in ac- to Singapore, were offered. This program moved
complishing this mission, esprit de corps within approximately 400,000 troops to R&R sites between
units, the one-year tour, and the Rest and Recuper- July 1967 and June 1968. Other important factors
ation (R&R) Program. The one-year tour length in maintaining the high morale included excep-
allowed a serviceman to know from the beginning tional medical care, a responsive awards and dec-
of his tour the day he would return home. This was orations policy, free mail, combat pay, income tax
considered to be the single greatest morale factor benefits, and excellent food service.
for our forces. The R&R Program allowed each

68
REPORT ON OPERATIONS IN
SOUTH VIETNAM
JANUARY 1964 - JUNE 1968

BY
GENERAL W. C. WESTMORELAND
COMMANDER
U.S. MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND
VIETNAM

69
PREFACE

In April 1968 the President asked me to prepare a report on my four and a


half years of duty in South Vietnam. My official report describing problems,
decisions, innovations, and operations was submitted to Admiral U. S. G. Sharp,
the Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC). The letter of transmittal to
CINCPAC is included in Appendix M. Hastily prepared in the press of business,
the report was couched in military terms which could be confusing to the gen-
eral reader.
Relieving that each American deserves a clear understanding of our great
effort in Vietnam, I have redrafted my original report in a form which I hope
will be more understandable and useful to all who may be interested.
Certain parts of the report have been expanded to clarify and explain
concepts and practices that may not be well known to the general public. Some
material that was inadvertently omitted or previously prohibited from public
release because of security classification has also been added.
The report is organized chronologically. Except for an introductory chapter
covering the period 1954-1963, there is a chapter for each successive year. I
have attempted to provide an overview of each year by describing only the most
important events and considerations relating to actions by both sides. This is
followed-except in the introductory chapter covering a period when I was not in
Vietnam-by a section setting forth my observations on selected problems,
developments, and decisions. Finally, each chapter contains a chronology of
major events. Necessarily, this chronology duplicates some of the material in
the overview. My views covering the entire period are summarized at the end of
the report, and a series of appendices elaborate on areas of particular importance
and interest.
One aspect of the report needs a word of prior explanation. Frequent refer-
ence is made throughout to changes in the government in Saigon and to political
problems and disruptions which arose from time to time. The fact of the matter
is that these events were as important and in some cases more important than
the unfolding of the tactical situation on the ground. If any generalization can
be made about the war in South Vietnam it is that the U.S. effort, both military
and political, prospered to the extent that the government of Vietnam was strong,
coherent, and active. The corollary, of course, is that none of our efforts had any
chance of successin the periods during which the government was weak, divided,
and thus ineffective. Upon my arrival in Vietnam, this strong and direct con-
nection between military and political problems was quickly impressed upon me.
This, I hope, will explain why I have included those major political events which

71
in my opinion and experience bore so heavily upon the course of the war and on
both our su&essesand our frustrations.
These successesand frustrations were not: of course, mine alone. They were
shared with literally millions of others-individuals, each of whom, in his own
way, contributed to the success of our efforts-and to whom I am deeply
grateful.
First and foremost, I express my respect and warm feelings for the Viet-
namese people at all levels from the highest national leadership to the individual
farmer and volunteer soldier who has fought, sacrificed, and died in a long and
cruel war. Our combined effort was made immeasurably less difficult through
the contributions of other nations who offered support to help overcome the
threat to South Vietnam. While each of the national contributions varied in
nature, size, and activity, the unity of the effort against a common foe gave us
heart and hope in times of adversity.
My task was eased by the magnificent support and understanding which I
received from my superiors, both military and civilian-the Commander in
Chief, Secretaries of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Commander in
Chief, Pacific. I valued most highly the assistance and support afforded by
General Earle G. Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and
Admiral U. S. G. Sharp, CINCPAC, both of whom served in those highly
responsible positions throughout the entire period of my service in Vietnam. To
the wholly dedicated and competent representatives of the other departments and
agencies of our government working in Vietnam, I owe a large measure of
appreciation. Ambassadors Henry Cabot Lodge, Maxwell D. Taylor, and Ells-
worth Bunker provided wise counsel and meaningful direction to our activities.
During the period of this report the Ambassador was ably assisted by a Deputy
Ambassador who in each case provided valuable support to the Military Assist-
ance Command, Vietnam (MACV). Th ese highly competent officials were, in
order, U. Alexis Johnson, William J. Porter, Eugene M. Locke, and Samuel
D. Berger.
To my wife, who lived for three and one-half years without her husband,
who made a home for our children, and who somehow found time to work
several days a week at a military hospital attending wounded men fro’m the
battlefield, I owe my deepest gratitude.
Lastly, and most importantly, I lived for almost four and one-half years with
an acute daily awareness of the sacrifices that the men of the armed services of the
United States were making in effort and in blood.
No words can express my admiration for these valiant Americans or convey
my respect for their accomplishments. It is to them that I humbly dedicate this
report.

W. C. WESTMORELAND
General, United States Army

72
CONTENTS

P%Zf3.

Preface . . .............. ............................................. 71


Chapter I-The Advisory Years (1954-1963). ................................ 75
Chapter II-The Year of Crisis (1964). ....................................... 83
Chapter III-The Year of Military Commitment (1965). ....................... 97
Chapter IV-The Year of Development (1966). ............................... 113
Chapter V-The Year of the Offensive (1967). ................................. 131
Chapter VI-The Year of Decision (1968). .................................. 157
Conclusions ................................................................. 189
Appendix A-Enemy Organization for the Conduct of the War in South
Vietnam ............................................. 203
Appendix B-Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces., ......................... 209
Appendix C-Free World Assistance ....................................... 221
AppendixItPacification ................................................ 229
Appendix E-Psychological Operations/Civic Action. ..................... 237
Appendix F-The State of the Command. ................................ 241
Appendix G-Logistics and Base Development ............................. 253
Appendix H-Medical .................................................. 267
Appendix I-Press ...................................................... 273
Appendix J-Major United States and Free World Military Units in Vietnam. 275
Appendix KAommanders of Major United States and Free World Military
Assistance Forces in Vietnam .............................. 279
Appendix L-List of Major Operations .................................... 281
Appendix M-Original Letter of Transmittal. ............................. 291
Photographs .............................................................. 295
Glossary ................................................................. 347

References in this document to the operations of allied and


enemy forces are based upon contemporary reports re-
ceived at MACV. In some instances these reports were not
clear or complete. The narrative of operations in full and
accurate detail will be more adequately written by his-
torians after the war has ended and a more complete record
is available.

73
329-525 049-6
Illustrations
Page.
1. Major Battles and Significant Localities 19j4-63 .............. Faces 82
2. Major Battles and Significant Localities 1964. .............. Faces 9fj
3. Military A ssistance Command Vietnam Organization. ............ 102
4. Major Battles and Significant Localities 196j ............... Faces 112
j. Major Battl es and Significant Localities 1966. .............. Facts 130
6. Typical Viet Cong Tunnel System. ............................ 150
7. Typical Enemy Camoujaged Tunnel Entrance. ................... 151
8. Concealed Tunnel Entrance by River Bank. ...................... 151
9. Major Battles and Significant Localities 1967. .............. Faces 156
10. Opposing Maneuver Battalions by Corps Tactical Zone as of 25 Jan
1968 .................................................... 176
11. Allied Combat Battalion Locations as of 25 Jan 1968. ............. 177
12. Opposing Manewe? Butt&ions by Corps Tactical Zone as of 13 Mar
1968 .................................................... 178
13. Allied Combat Battalion Locations as of 13 Mar 1968. ............. 179
14. Opposing M uneuuer Battalions by Cor*ps Tactical Zone as of 19 Jun
1968 .................................................... 180
U. Allied Combat Buttalion Locations as of 19 Jun 1968. ............. 181
16. Major Battles and Significant Localifies 1968. .............. Faces 188
17. Ratio of Enemy to Allied Casuulties ........................... 191
18. Ratio of Enemy to Allied Weapons Losses. ................... 193
19. North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong Combat Battajtlions in South
Vietnam ................................................. 195
20. Vietnamese and Allied Forces in South Vietnam. ................ 197
21. Population Status in South Vietnam. .......................... 199
22. Communist Party Dominance in Enemy Organi<ation ............. 205
23. Typic& Province Communist Organization in South Vietnam. ...... 206
24. Typical Village Administrative Liberation Association if2 South
Vietnam ................................................. 207
25. Ports, Land Lines of Communications, and Major Logistic Commands. 259
26. Tactical Airfields, South Vietnam-1968 ...................... 262
27. Topographic Map of South Vietnam. ...................... Faces 348
28. Political Boundaries of South Vietnam. .................... Faces 348

74

-
Chapter I

THE ADVISORY YEARS-1954-1963

OVERVIEW
From the Geneva settlement of the Indochina Vietnam from the south, while close to one mil-
War in 1954 until late 1963, the United States pro- lion persons living in the area that became the
gressively expanded its support and assistance to Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam went
the new government of Vietnam under President south. (Over 65,000 of those who went north
Ngo Dinh Diem and his successors. After the were to return to South Vietnam as “regroupees”
French withdrawal, the U.S. helped to organize and as cadre for enemy units.)
and train the military forces of the new nation. Originally-and in light of our experience in
In late 1961 the U.S. expanded this effort to in- Korea-the emphasis was placed on developing
clude field advisors with tactical units and began South Vietnamese forces capable of meeting an
to provide increased aircraft and communications overt thrust across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
support to the beleaguered South Vietnamese While the danger of such an event did not dis-
government. appear, it became increasingly clear that the prin-
The Geneva Accords, agreed to jointly by France cipal threat was one of externally supported in-
and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North ternal subversion and insurgency.
Vietnam), divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, Events in South Vietnam clearly indicated that
provided for a withdrawal of Communist forces the Hanoi leaders planned to recreate the circum-
from the south, and created a number of limita- stances of their earlier triumph-that is, to follow
tions or prohibitions on the introduction of for- the path which had proved so successful in the
eign military personnel and materiel. The final Indochina War. Subversion, espionage, and ter-
declaration of the Geneva Conference associated ror would be followed by gratlually intensifying
the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet So- guerrilla warfare. The process would culminate
cialist Republics, and the People’s Republic of in the decisive employment of large heavily-armed
China with these settlements. The United States, military units.
while not joining in the declaration, stated that it Not only was the scenario to mirror that of the
would abide by the spirit of the accords so long as earlier conflict but the H:uloi-controlled political-
the Communists did so. military organization was also clcsigned to parallel
In keeping with one of the provisos of the Gene- that which had helped the Vic.t Minh to oust the
va Accords, during the 1954-55 period approxi- French. The groundwork for the optm resumption
mately 100,000 Vietnamese elected to go to North of the insurgency was laid by members of the

75
southern branch of the North Vietnamese Com- Extend political control over the entire popu-
munist Party-the Lao Dong (Vietnamese lation, eliminating by execution those who
Worker’s) Party. resist.
The symptoms of early insurgency were clearly Attack and destroy the remaining forces of
present in South Vietnam in 1959. Reports in- law and order.
creasingly drew attention to an elaborate, carefully In January of 1961 Radio Hanoi announced the
planned campaign of violence and subversive pres- formation of the National Liberation Front
sures aimed at undermining the stability and in- (NLF), patterned after a similar organization
stitutions of the Diem government. Assassinations which had operated with great successin the last
and kidnappings of officials and government sup- years of the Indochina War. This earlier Lien Viet
porters in rural areas were increasing sharply-kill- or “Fatherland Front” had managed to enlist the
ings alone doubled in a year. Infiltration, from cooperation and participation of a broad range of
Laos, across the DMZ, and from the sea jumped nationalist elements outside the Communist Party.
sharply upward in 1959-1960, establishing a pat- The NLF, later dubbed the “political arm” of the
tern that was to persist throughout the mid-sixties. Viet Cong, was specifically designed to emulate
In fact, this pattern was clearly drawn from the this earlier successand to create a sense of nation-
classic three-step prescription of Mao Tse-tung: alistic continuity between itself and the Lien Viet.
The southern branch of the Lao Dong Party was
Step One (Creation of Bases)
renamed the People’s Revolutionary Party on 1
Secretly establish control of the rural people
January 1962. Although it claimed to be separate
by the use of selective terrorism (murder) and and distinct from the Lao Dong, the People’s Revo-
propaganda. lutionary Party was what it had always been-the
Gradually eliminate government influence southern branch of the party in the north. As such,
by the assassination of village chiefs and other it continued to receive its instructions from Hanoi
notables. while it masqueraded as the organ of a national-
Establish a political and military base among istic movement in the south.
the people through force and persuasion. The People’s Revolutionary Party was organized
Conduct guerrilla operations against the on lines paralleling the NLF’s hierarchical struc-
forces of law and order. ture. Beginning with cells at the hamlet level, its
structure rose through village, district, and prov-
Step Two (Equilibrium)
incial chapters to regional headquarters embracing
Form squads, platoons, companies, and bat-
several provinces. It culminated in a central com-
talions from among the controlled population.
mittee-the Central Office for South Vietnam
Increase guerrilla operations against remain-
(COSVN).
ing forces of law and order.
Thus, the People’s Revolutionary Party was or-
Expand the military and political base in
ganized so that it could transmit orders and moni-
order to build forces as strong as the govern-
tor activities at every level down to the squad and
ment forces and in order to:
hamlet. On the political side, its successive layers
-Destroy isolated government forces;
permitted it to control all levels of the NLF which
-Extend political control of the peopie.
served as a “shadow government.” Similarly, it
Step Three (Counteroflensiue) exercised indirect control over so-called Viet Cong
Create large military formations capable of military formations-main forces, local forces, and
attacking and destroying the government guerrillas. The Hanoi-dominated party overarched
forces. and controlled a coordinated political-military war

76
effort. Although the term Viet Cong (VC) is began to formulate a Strategic Hamlet Program
usually associated with the military effort, its mean- to provide local security against insurgent terror-
ing (Vietnamese Communists) includes the entire ists and guerrillas. Announced early in 1962, the
political-military apparatus composed of South program was intended to provide the means by
Vietnamese, as opposed to the North Vietnamese which the pacified area would be consolidated as
Army and individuals. (A more detailed discus- it expanded. This program was inspired by, and
sion of this organization may be found in Appendix patterned after, the British experience in Malaya.
A*) In a series of decisions in late 1961 and early
The VC, who numbered only 4,000 men in April 1962, the U.S. decided to increase sharply its as-
of 1960,had grown to 5,500 by the end of that year sistance to the hard-pressed government of South
and soared to over 25,000 in 1961. In 1962 they in- Vietnam. The authorized number of U.S. military
creased to over 33,000 and in 1963 to 35,000. By this advisors was increased from 746 to over 3,400. Most
time the political infrastructure involved more than of these newly authorized advisors were in Viet-
40,000, of which increasing numbers of influential nam by June 1962. U.S. tactical aircraft were pro-
cadre had come from the north. vided to the Vietnamese Air Force and U.S. Army
The Viet Cong conducted their first battalion- helicopter units were sent to Vietnam to support
size attacks in 1960. These attacks increased in fre- and train the government’s forces.
quency and expanded to multi-battalion size in The U.S. Military Assistance Command, Viet-
1961. The structure of the South Vietnamese gov- nam (USMACV) was formed in February 1962,
ernment was attacked directly by assassinations to direct the expanding U.S. effort. General Paul
and abductions. Assassinations rose from 239 in D. Harkins became its first commander.
1959 to 1,400 in 1960. Abductions doubled during Notwithstanding this combined U.S.-South
the same period. By 1962 over 1,000 persons a Vietnamese effort, Viet Cong successescontinued
month were killed or abducted-most of them to mount. Although it seemed that the tide of
government officials. battle was beginnin, u to shift by late in 1962, this
In an attempt to counter this rapidly expanding encouraging period was short-lived. In the spring
insurgency, the Vietnamese government increased of 1963, President Diem was accused of provoking
its regular military forces, its paramilitary units, an adverse reaction among the people, particularly
the Buddhists, which led first to demonstrations,
and its pacification efforts. Regular military forces
then spectacular Buddhist immolations, and finally
grew from 148,000 at the end of 1960 to 216,000 at
general turmoil and the overthrow and assassina-
the end of 1963. Provincial and district paramili-
tion of Diem.
tary forces (precursors to the present Regional and
Following the assassination of Diem, the gov-
Popular Forces) increased during the same period
ernment of Vietnam was shaken by a series of
from fewer than 100,000to more than 180,000.The coups and power struggles among various mili-
arms and training of these forces were improved tary and religious factions. In this unstable political
with U.S. assistance. Civilian Irregular Defense environment, the enemy made quick and wide-
Groups (CIDG) were formed in 1961 amongst spread political and military gains. The depth of
the primitive Montagnard tribes in the Central the problem was not completely apparent in late
Highlands. By the end of 1963, CIDG strength had 1963, but it became only too evident in the year
risen to 18,000. In late 1961 the Diem government of crisis-1964.

77
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS-1954-1963
1954 1960
The Geneva Accords were signed on 20 July Regroupee infiltration reached a new high as
1954. At the request of the South Vietnamese gov- over 4,500 persons entered South Vietnam. Most
ernment, the United States offered military mate- of these infiltrators were officers, noncommis-
riel and equipment to the Republic of Vietnam sioned officers, and political cadre. At least half of
Armed Forces under the so-called pentalateral them were members of the Communist Lao Dong
agreement with France and the Protocol States- (Vietnamese Worker’s Party). The influence upon
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. A Military Assist- Viet Cong leadership by these infiltrators became
ance Advisory Group (MAAG), Vietnam was increasingly evident; within four years the re-
established to supervise and coordinate this logis- groupees would be clearly dominant.
tical support program. During this year, some Viet Cong forces were
1955 organized into units as large as battalions. The
first battalion-size attacks occurred against isolated
In February the Joint Chiefs of Staff expanded
government posts and small towns. These attacks
the mission of the MAAG, giving it authority to
created conditions of security and morale which
organize and train as well as equip the armed
permitted and encouraged accelerated growth by
forces of South Vietnam.
the Communist political organization, further
1956-1957 eroding the authority of the central government in
The Communist organization in South Viet- Iome rural areas.
nam, the Viet Cong, initiated its campaign of trr- Statistics for 1960 on assassinations and kidnap-
ror to undermine the authority of the central pings of government workers, primarily in the
government. The prime targets of this campaign rural areas, gave dramatic proof of the increasing
were government officials and backers who pro- tempo and scope of the VC terror campaign. Com-
vided essential public services and symbolized gov- pared to the previous year, assassinations increased
ernmental authority in the rural areas of the sixfold, from 239 to 1,400, and kidnappings dou-
country. Some 15 to 20 per month were being assas- bled, rising from 344 to almost 700.
sinated as the terror campaign gained intensity. In September the Third Congress of the Lao
1958-1959 Dong Party in Hanoi set the “liberation” of South
It became clear that the Viet Cong were being Vietnam as one of its primary strategic tasks. The
reinforced by cadre sent from North Vietnam. Congress called upon the people of the South to
Nearly all of the infiltration from 1958 until early form a united front and to struggle against the
1964 consisted of the so-called “regroupees,” Viet- “U.S.-Diem clique” for the unification of the
namese Communists who had elected to go to fatherland.
North Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva settlement.
After intensive political and military training, these 1961
regroupees were infiltrated back into South Viet- In January Radio Hanoi announced the crea-
nam, mostly into leadership positions. tion of the National Liberation Front in South
Assassinations and kidnappings of government Vietnam.
officials and supporters by the Viet Cong continued Enemy local and main force units continued
to increase. Killings rose from 193 in 1958 to 239 to grow rapidly. The year-end strength of 26,700
in 1959, while kidnappings jumped to 344, up from was almost five times that at the beginning of the
236 the preceding year. year. Viet Cong military activity was conducted

78
increasingly by larger units; three attacks of 1,000 ment by road and rail more hazardous and costly.
men each occurred in September alone. Early in the year, Viet Cong strength reached
On 13 May Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson 30,000 regular forces and the infrastructure or
and President Diem issued a joint communique “shadow government” was reported to have be-
announcing that the U.S. defense and economic tween 20,000 and 30,000 members.
development programs with Vietnam would be Infiltration by all means continued to rise. Avail-
expanded in response to the worsening situation. able evidence showed a 100 percent increase during
Near the end of the year, President John F. the year from 6,295 (“confirmed” and “probable”
Kennedy decided to enlarge the U.S. support for infiltrators) in 1961 to 12,857 in 1962. These con-
the South Vietnamese. The United States agreed tinued to be mainly regroupees, but there were
to support an increase in South Vietnamese regular clear indications that this source of manpower for
forces to about 200,000 with commensurate in- the NLF and VC in the south was nearly
creasesin the Civil Guard (later, Regional Forces) exhausted.
and Self Defense Corps (later, Popular Forces). On 8 February the United States Military Assist-
U.S. military advisors would, under this decision, ance Command, Vietnam, was established with
be assigned for the first time to operational Viet- General Paul D. Harkins as commander.
namese units in the field. A Strategic Hamlet Program was announced by
On 11 December two U.S. Army helicopter the South Vietnamese government in February.
companies were deployed to South Vietnam to The program was designed to provide security to
provide operational support for the Army of the the populace in rural areas, usually by grouping
Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and to train Viet- them in fortified hamlets. The expanded Civil
namese helicopter units for the future. Their Guard and Self Defense Corps were progressively
arrival brought the total of American military
to take over from the ARVN the task of providing
personnel in Vietnam to slightly over 3,000 at the
local security. The regular forces would thus be
year’s end.
freed for mobile operations against the VC main
The People’s Revolutionary Party, announced
forces. The pacified area coulcl, in this fashion, be
in January of 1962, was formed in December 1961
continuously expanded on a rational and secure
and portrayed itself as an indigenous South Viet,-
namese political party independent of the Com- base.
munist Lao Dong Party of North Vietnam. Cap- The Strategic Hamlet Program was launched in
tured documents indicated otherwise, however, March during Operation SUNRISE in Binh
revealing the People’s Revolutionary Party to be Duong Province, immediately north of Saigon.
nothing more than the subordinate southern ele- The operation involved forced relocation of rural
ment of the Lao Dong. The purpose of this sub- peasants, notwithstanding their strong attach-
terfuge was to deceive non-Communist nationalists ment to their ancestral plots of land. Moreover, the
in South Vietnam and to confuse the U.S. and other first experiment, in Ben Cat District, was made
nations concerning the true source of direction for in an area which had long been under strong Viet
the insurgency. Cong influence.
1962 During 1962 and 1963 the government was to
In January the U.S. installed a tactical air control construct well over a thousand Strategic Hamlets.
system in Vietnam and furnished 16 C-123 “Pro- Their quality varied widely, as did the extent of
vider” aircraft for combat and logistical airlift population relocation (in some areas there was
support. Airlift within the country became increa.s- little or none), and the wisdom with which sites
ingly important as Viet Cong attacks made move- were chosen.

79
In May a second squadron of C-123’s arrived in close proximity. But in January, at Ap Bat in the
Vietnam with 21 aircraft. With the addition of Delta, a Viet Cong force engaged a superior
smaller U.S. Army and Air Force aviation units, ARVN force attempting to surround it by using
this brought the total of U.S. aircraft of all types in heliborne assault tactics in conjunction with con-
Vietnam to 124, including four helicopter com- ventional ground movement. Five American heli-
panies. copters were destroyed and nine damaged. The
In July the nations which had participated in VC inflicted heavy casualties and later withdrew.
the 1954 Geneva Conference-joined by Thailand, The ARVN forces did not close the trap they had
Burma, Canada, India, and Poland-met again in set and failed to take aggressive advantage of their
Geneva to discuss Laos. The participants agreed superiority. The results of this battle increased the
to recognize and respect the independence, unity, Viet Cong’s confidence in their ability to fight
territorial integrity, and neutrality of Laos. successfully against government forces with supe-
By the end of 1962 airmobile operations were rior equipment.
conducted frequently by Vietnamese Army forces In April President Ngo Dinh Diem proclaimed
transported in U.S. Army helicopters. These heli- a sweeping Ckieu Hoi (Open Arms) campaign,
copters were placed under the operational control promising clemency, financial aid, and family re-
of the U.S. advisors with Vietnamese tactical units. unions to guerrillas who stopped fighting and re-
Particularly in the Mekong Delta area, a number turned to live under government authority.
of bold operations were conducted that initially The new UH-1B helicopters were first used on
threw the enemy off balance. ARVN operations with considerable success in
Control of the rural areas was hotly contested, June. The increased speed and maneuverability
with Viet Cong terrorism a persistent problem. In of these aircraft compared with CH-21’s was a
1962 the Communists killed or abducted 1,000 welcome improvement.
civilians each month, most of whom were govern- Growing tension between South Vietnam’s vari-
ment officials and teachers. The government of ous factions led to a riot in Hue early in May. Ten-
Vietnam was being bled to death by these gruesome sions increased and martial law was imposed in
and despicable measures. Hue in June.
As the year ended, there were approximately Also in June a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang
11,000 U.S. advisory and support personnel in Due, committed suicide by burning himself in pub-
South Vietnam. These included 26 Special Forces lic. Within several days, riots broke out in Saigon
“A” detachments of 12 men each and 3 modified and were forcibly put down by South Vietnamese
“B” detachments to provide command and con- troops. As the Buddhist crisis persisted, martial law
trol. Overall control was exercised by U.S. Army was extended throughout the entire nation in Au-
Special Forces Command, Vietnam (Provisional). gust. However, intermittent rioting continued.
These teams operated initially under the control On 18 August the showplace strategic hamlet of
of the U.S. Embassy, but it was decided during Ben Tuong-the first-built of all strategic hamlets
this year to switch them back to U.S. Army con- in Operation SUNRISE-was overrun by the Viet
trol during 1963. Cong. Also in August, armed government police
1963 and troops raided the Buddhist Xa Loi pagoda in
Since the introduction of American helicopters Saigon. Incidents such as these, plus periodic self-
to provide added mobility to the ARVN, Viet Cong immolations by Buddhist monks and resignations
units had generally refused to stand and fight from the South Vietnamese government (both to
when South Vietnamese forces were airlifted into protest discrimination against Buddhists and to

80
protest government moves to alleviate tension), later killed. A provisional military government was
kept feelings at a high pitch. established under the leadership of Maj. Gen.
On 24 October in response to an earlier invitation Duong Van “Big” Minh.
from President Diem, a United Nations fact-find- President Kennedy was assassinated on 22 No-
ing mission arrived in Saigon to investigate charges vember. Two days later, the new U.S. President,
that the government was suppressing Buddhists. Lyndon B. Johnson, publicly proclaimed his deter-
(The fact-finding mission reported to the United mination to continue support for South Vietnam’s
Nations 24 hours before Diem was assassinated efforts to defeat the insurgency.
that the charges were unfounded.) The following By year’s end it was clear that the November
day, another monk burned himself to death in coup had proved costly in the countryside. Many
public, the seventh such suicide in four months.
strategic hamlets were overrun or revealed to be
By October the U.S. Army Special Forces work-
Communist-controlled. Weapons lossesto the Viet
ing with the Civilian Irregular Defense Group
Forces totalled 31 “A” detachments, 4 “B” detach- Cong increased sharply. Many local paramilitary
ments (one for each corps zone), and one “C” de- units simply melted away into the population. It
tachment to provide overall command and control. was unclear at this time whether the new govern-
On 1 November a military coup, organized by ment would be able to heal the internal wounds
key officers of the armed forces, deposed President and provide the leadership required to reverse the
Diem. Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were course of the struggle.

81
LAO S

CENTRAL
‘! HIGHLANDS

i
:
II CTZ
CAMBODIA

-\ o 0 BEN TUONG
‘;\
ea . BEN CAT

1 LEGEND

MAJOR BATTLES
I
Chapter II

THE YEAR OF CRISIS-1964

OVERVIEW
I arrived in Saigon on 27 January 1964 and as- his corps zone, instability in Saigon was reflected
sumed duties as principal assistant to General Har- downward through each successive echelon of po-
kins with the title of Deputy Commander, U.S. litical authority. The effects could be seen in many
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. ways. For instance, the impetus behind the Strate-
Three days after my arrival, Maj. Gen. Nguyen gic Hamlet Program quickly disappeared. In many
Khanh led a bloodless coup which overthrew the outlying areas-and especially in the Delta-local
government headed by General Minh. General government officials reached tacit agreements with
Khanh installed himself as Premier. This was the the Viet Cong and Communist infrastructure to
second major political upheaval in three months. “live and let live.” The same was true of many Re-
Unfortunately, it presaged a long period of the gional and Popular Force commanders in remote
worst kind of political instability. Over the next outposts.
year and a half, a series of coups, attempted coups, Although the Vietnamese Army ,rnd paramili-
and counter-coups followed one another in rapid tary forces increased during the year by 117,000
and alarming succession. Government effective- men to a total strength of over 534,000, the overall
ness steadily declined throughout this entire pe- effectiveness of these forces decreased markedly.
riod. South Vietnamese civil servants became dis- Indeed, the increases in size were accomplished in
pirited and inactive in the face of this continued the face of a large decrease in voluntary enlist-
political instability. Institutions of government ments. The overburdened draft system faltered.
formed during the regime of President Diem pro- South Vietnamese units were almost without ex-
gressively deteriorated and in some instances, par- ception below authorized strength, a problem
ticularly elements of the intelligence and police compounded by desertions. Vietnamese forces
forces, disappeared altogether. The gains which scored a number of isolated victories throughout
had been made so slowly and laboriously in the the year, but these were the exception.
previous eight years were steadily vanishing. The same instability which plagued the govern-
Since all but one of the province chiefs and ment’s political structure also permeated the mili-
most of the district chiefs were military officers, tary forces. Poorly-motivated South Vietnamese
and in view of the fact that each ARVN corps units were no match for the well-disciplined Viet
commander exercised civil authority as the “gov- Cong forces. As a consequence, government forces
ernment delegate” in the provinces embraced by seldom chose to close with the enemy. Patrolling

83
to enhance population security virtually ceased. complicated the overall logistic problem in that
Offensive operations were timid and of short dura- the newly-introduced automatic weapons (espe-
tion. Vietnamese troops depended almost wholly cially the AK-47 assault rifle) required larger
on air and artillery support, which usually came tonnages for resupply. Thus Hanoi had taken an
too late to prevent the VC from disengaging after important decision. It was obliged thereafter to
inflicting heavy losseson South Vietnamese forces. send large quantities of arms and ammunition
This lack of aggressiveness on the part of South south on a continuing basis over the long infiltra-
Vietnamese military units reflected the extent to tion system, by seaor through Laos and Cambodia.
which leadership was thinly spread and the degree It was this process of quantitative and qualita-
to which lowered morale damaged unit perform- tive growth during 1964 that culminated in the
ance. It did not reflect adversely on the innate abil- formation of the Vict Cong 9th Division, com-
ity of the individual South Vietnamese soldier. He prising at first the 271st and 272d Regiments, which
was then-as he is now-a hardy, willing, and cap- had been formed the previous year in War Zones
able individual. Given aggressive, professional C and D-long-developed Viet Cong base areas
leadership and even modest support, he will per- located, respectively, in Tay Ninh Province near
form admirably. The support we were able to pro- the Cambodian border and in the vast jungle north
vide him in 1964 was exceedingly modest. The of Bien Hoa. Much of the manpower to fill these
basic problems were those of weak leadership and units came from the Delta. This division attacked
its effect on morale. the Catholic village of Binh Gia, 40 miles east of
As the government of Vietnam’s position deteri- Saigon, on 28 December. In the course of battle it
orated, that of the Viet Cong grew stronger. The ambushed and virtually destroyed the 33d Ranger
Viet Cong continued their military tactic of build- Battalion and the 4th Marine Battalion. VC troops
ing their force from the lowest level upward. Addi- remained on the field of battle for four days rather
tional companies were formed at district level, thus than following their usual hit-and-run tactic.
permitting the formation of new battalions in During the same month, regular units of the
many provinces. This increase, in turn, allowed North Vietnamese Army (NVA) were en route
battalions of the main forces to expand into regi- to join the battle in South Vietnam. The enemy
ments. By the end of the year, a Viet Cong division had clearly decided-following General Giap’s
was organized and committed to combat. adaptation from Mao’s earlier formulation of doc-
At the beginning of the year the Viet Cong were trine-to move from guerrilla warfare to a more
not equipped with standardized weapons. Their conventionally organized general offensive. Hanoi
armament included a great variety of old French had determined that the time was ripe to begin
arms, U.S. weapons captured from the South Viet- the final and decisive “mobile” phase of the war,
namese, and several models of Communist-manu- which would lead to the collapse of the govern-
factured arms. This created an acute problem in ment and a complete Communist victory. This,
ammunition and weapons resupply as Viet Cong unmistakably, is the significance of the enemy de-
forces increased in size. cisions in 1964 to begin to form Viet Cong divisions
Consequently, the Hanoi high command de- and to start the southward deployment of regular
cided to convert the Viet Cong forces progressively NVA forces.
to a standard family of small arms using one The enemy’s assessment was based on political
caliber of ammunition and to provide them more as well as military evidence. During 1964 political
modern supporting arms. This decision increased infrastructure was installed in hamlets previously
Viet Cong firepower and simplified battlefield sup- controlled by the government and existing infra-
ply of both arms and ammunition. However, it structure was greatly strengthened. Capitalizing

84
on disorder and demoralization in the government, This effort and the Special Forces’ influence among
the enemy revitalized his Administrative Libera- the Montagnard tribes probably averted a massive
tion Associations at hamlet and village level and re- defection from the government of Vietnam in Sep-
named them Autonomous Administrative Com- tember of 1964 when a serious uprising occurred.
mittees. As an example of this Communist political As U.S. strength and activities increased, we had
resurgence, a captured document indicated that determined in May to combine the U.S. MAAG
the Viet Cong province chief in Tay Ninh Prov- and MACV. Our growing support organization
ince reported to his superiors in 1964 that 46 of the was thus combined with our advisory effort under
48 villages in the province had been satisfactorily unified direction.
organized from both a political and military stand- At the beginning of 1964 the U.S. had 388 air-
point. craft in Vietnam, including 248 helicopters, too few
This is a somber, though realistic, background to accommodate the expanding advisory effort and
against which to describe U.S. efforts to assist the increased Vietnamese Army operations. Over the
South Vietnamese during 1964. year this inventory gradually grew to 561, includ-
In June General Harkins was reassigned and I ing 327 helicopters. This made it possible to place a
assumed command. I believed from the beginning U.S. Army aviation company or U.S. Marine Corps
that the key to the effectiveness of the Vietnamese aviation squadron in support of each Vietnamese
Army lay in improving leadership at all levels and Army division, with additional aviation support-
in improving the training of the small infantry ing each corps. Part of the increase in U.S. jet air-
units, and in providing them with adequate weap- craft was directly attributable to our concern aris-
ons and equipment. Programs to accomplish this ing from the incidents in the Tonkin Gulf in early
objective were devised and initiated at all levels. August.
However, the modernization of equipment in- The Tonkin Gulf incidents and the U.S. re-
volved long leadtimes and high costs. Advisors sponse in early August represented a crucial psy-
were instructed to concentrate on these basic mat- chological turning point in the course of the Viet-
ters and also to do their utmost to encourage com- nam War. The fleeting engagements at seaand the
manders of Vietnamese forces to move back into retaliatory strikes against the North Vietnamese
the countryside to patrol, to attack, and to regain coast marked the first direct confrontation between
the initiative. North Vietnamese and U.S. forces. The naval and
’ To help strengthen the military province and dis- air forces involved were under the operational con-
trict chiefs in their roles as sector and subsector mil- trol of CINCPAC. The decisions taken were at the
itary commanders, we also decided to expand the national level on the basis of CINCPAC recom-
U.S. advisory effort to district level and to increase mendations. Our actions to protect the major air
the number of advisors at province level. This step bases at Bien Hoa and Da Nang from possible
North Vietnamese attacks were rapid and positive.
was first started in key provinces around Saigon
The psychological impact of these events upon
and gradually expanded to include most of the
everyone was tremendous. It gave us clear indi-
areas in which government organization existed. ..- cation of the aggressive intentions of Hanoi; it
During the year, the U.S. Army’s 5th Special
crystallized allied determination and resolve; and
Forces Group was deployed to Vietnam in order it provided solid evidence of our resolute support
to recruit and train irregular forces for the defense to the South Vietnamese.
of border areas. A number of fortified camps and By late summer it was also evident that the Viet
patrol bases were organized amongst the Montag- Cong posed an immediate threat to Saigon. They
nard populated areas of the Central Highlands. were extremely active in the critical provinces

85
around the capital city and had even penetrated launched in September. Frankly, it did not accom-
in strength into Gia Dinh Province, which con- plish all that we had hoped it would. Even though
stitutes the immediate environs of Saigon. It was the concept was sound, the relative strengths were
obvious to all of us that the seat of government too disparate, governmental coordination too de-
had to be held at all costs. manding under the circumstances, and execution
Political instability in the Saigon government of the plan too weak. However, I believe that HOP
notwithstanding, we urged upon the South Viet- TAC-in spite of its many shortcomings-prob-
namese government a coordinated political-mili- ably saved Saigon from enemy control.
tary pacification effort radiating outward from With the appearance of the Viet Cong 9th Di-
Saigon. A combined U.S.-Vietnamese group, em- vision on the battlefield of Binh Gia and North
bracing a broad array of government ministries, Vietnamese regulars moving toward South Viet-
planned this operation. Named HOP TAG, it was nam, 1964 ended on a clearly ominous note.

86
OBSERVATIONS-1964
Viet Cong Operations threatened local guerrillas or political units (the
two events usually occurred simultaneously), the
A grasp of enemy organization and doctrine is hamlet and village party organizations requested
essential to an understanding of events as they military assistance from the district or province
unfolded in Vietnam during 1964. Basically, the echelons. If the province forces proved inadequate,
Communist organization featured parallel and mu- main forces would be brought in to meet the gov-
tually supporting military and political structures, ernment threat and to restore an environment
which were controlled by the overarching Com- where Communist recruiting and organizational
munist Party. Appendix A discusses this organiza- efforts could proceed.
tion in greater detail. The local VC-NLF organizations at each echelon
The military side of this integrated political- provided numerous services for main force units
military structure featured village and hamlet in their areas. These included providing intelli-
guerrilla units and part-time self-defense forces. gence, food and shelter, guides, couriers, and liai-
The part-time f orces, under the direction of lower son agents. Transient main force units thereby ob-
level political cells in their communities, worked tained the advantages of all the local knowledge
to insure adequate control over the local popula- available to the indigenous forces. Local guerrillas
tion and to enlist its active support. Local force and civilian labor also built fortifications, trans-
companies were organized in districts and local ported arms and ammunition, furnished aid sta-
force battalions were formed at province level. tions, evacuated wounded, and collected money for
These military units protected the local guerrillas the larger main forces.
and assisted them in their operations against gov- This system of mutual support and reinforce-
ernment units. Also at the regional (inter-prov- ment flourished following the assassination of
ince) level, main force battalions, regiments, and President Diem, reaching its peak effectiveness in
later, divisions, were created. Their mission was 1964 and 1965. However, as the enemy’s numbers
initially to assist local forces; eventually they were and operations dramatically increased, the logisti-
to conduct large-scale mobile operations against cal burden outstripped local capability and the
the government and allied forces. Finally, com- Viet Cong became increasingly dependent upon an
mencing in late 1964, numerous elements of the extensive formal North Vietnamese logistical sys-
North Vietnamese Army started their southward tem oriented upon the infiltration routes by sea
movement to augment and strengthen these main and through Laos and Cambodia.
and local force groups.
The Communists appreciated the great impor- Rearming the Viet Gong
tance of gaining both political and military dom-
In 1964 the enemy began to convert from weap-
inance in an area. They demonstrated a keen un-
ons of various calibers and origins to a standard
derstanding of the interaction between the two.
family of small arms using a single caliber (7.62-
Once they were organized politically, areas were mm). Prior to this time, the VC were armed
used as lucrative recruiting sources. Conversely, with weapons captured from government forces
political organizing went forward quickly in re- and by World War II stocks remaining at the
gions where there were successful enemy military close of the Indochina War. Combat itself was a
operations. lucrative source; the Viet Cong were consistently
Th e pohtical
‘. and military substructures inter- capturing more weapons on the battlefield than
faced in other ways. When government forces they lost.

87
Units were rearmed according to a rough cri- larger units, and skillful and energetic political
terion of combat priority: main force units first, terrorism could produce if it was not checked.
local units next, and guerrillas last. Prior to the crisis I had persuaded the ARVN
The most important of the new weapons was leaders to decentralize control of their units to
the Soviet assault rifle, the AKd7. In the early province and district chiefs. We also persuaded
days of the conversion most of the AK-47’s were them that saturation patrolling in their areas of-
Chinese copies of the Soviet model. In addition to fered the best prospects of increasing local security
this excellent automatic rifle, the rearmament in- so essential for pacification. The enemy responded
cluded 7.62-mm machine guns, an excellent rocket to the initial success of this tactic by requesting
launcher firing a shaped charge (the RPG-2), main force reinforcements. These arrived in No-
82-mm Soviet and Chinese mortars, and 57- and vember when two VC regiments mounted a gen-
75-mm recoilless rifles (mostly manufactured in eral offensive in the province, defeating the AI’VN,
China). Progressively larger and more mod- Regional Force, and Popular Force units there and
ern weapons-including heavy mortars, rockets, driving them into fortified camps. This created
and antiaircraft weapons-followed the initial the ideal climate for the VC to strengthen their
infusions. infrastructure, to recruit local guerrillas, and to
Rearmament of the Viet Cong 9th Division in organize larger military formations in this crucial
the early fall of 1964 provides a typical example of coastal province.
the upgrading process. The division moved from We had to take action, using our meager re-
War Zones C and D to Xuyen Mot in eastern Phuoc sources, to salvage this chaotic situation. I de-
Tuy Province where it rendezvoused with sea- cided to request temporary deployment from Oki-
borne deliveries of the new family of light infantry nawa to Binh Dinh of a U.S. Army Special Forces
weapons. After familiarization training on the (“Green Berets”) “B” Detachment with several
weapons, the division was first committed in the subordinate “A” Detachments. These Special
d .. December attack on Binh Gia. Forces teams were distributed in key district towns
The most economical and direct route of sup- along the coast to work with the local Regional
ply for Viet Cong forces was by sea to points on and Popular Forces. Despite formidable handicaps,
the long, lightly-guarded coast. The major points the Special Forces teams were able to rally the
of entry were the tip of the Cau Mau Peninsula, the remnants of these forces and to restore their morale.
swamps of Kien Hoa Province in the northern After a short period of training and resupply these
part of the Mekong Delta, the eastern part of Phuoc Regional and Popular Forces took the field once
Tuy Province near Xuyen Mot, the coastal areas more-re-establishing islands of government con-
of Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen Province near Vung trol which still existed when U.S. and Free World
Ro Bay, the Chu Lai area of northern Quang Forces entered the area in 1966 and 1967.
Ngai, and all along the infamous “Street Without
South Vietnamese Organization and Equipment
Joy,” a portion of Highway 1, in Thua Thien and
Quang Tri Provinces. The country was divided into four corps tactical
zones, each under a corps commander. The I Corps
Bink Dinh Crisis encompassed the northern five provinces, the II
Corps the bulk of the central region, the III Corps
Events in Binh Dinh Province in November
generally the provinces surrounding Saigon, and
1964 dramatized the interrelationship of the main
the IV Corps the Mekong Delta. Divisions and
forces, regional forces, and guerrillas. Further- separate regiments normally operated under corps
more, they provided clear evidence of what the control, as did the Ranger battalions, which served
enemy’s powerful combination of better arms, as a corps reserve. An airborne brigade and several
88
Marine battalions constituted the general reserve creasingly complex multi-agency activities in Viet-
under the direct control of the Vietnamese Joint nam. Meetings of the group enabled the Ambas-
General Staff. sador to hear frank and complete discussion of
Regular Vietnamese forces were equipped with proposals and problems across the entire range of
standard U.S. World War II weapons, such as the functional activities. New programs were often
Ml rifle, the Browning automatic rifle, and the first proposed to Vietnamese government ofI!icials
Browning light machine gun. The Regional and when they met periodically with the Mission Coun-
Popular Forces were more lightly armed, prin- cil. As the U.S. military commander, I provided
cipally with the semiautomatic U.S. carbine. the council with military advice relating to the
development of mission policies and kept the other
U.S. Organization
members of the council abreast of military devel-
In the months prior to General Harkins’ depar- opments and plans. Other members of the Mission
ture in June, I had strongly encouraged consolida- Council included the chiefs of the economic and
tion of the Military Assistance Advisory Group political sections in the Embassy, the country direc-
and the Military Assistance Command. In my view tors of the U.S. Agency for International Develop-
this change would eliminate duplication, facilitate ment and the U.S. Information Service, and the
coordination, economize on personnel, and sim- Special Assistant to the Ambassador.
plify the coordination and performance of advi-
sory efforts with the Vietnamese. This was accom- HOP TAC
plished in May, shortly before my assumption of I have already noted the challenging and crucial
command. However, I quickly realized that al- nature of the HOP TAC operation around Saigon
though the formal organizational problem was in 1964. It required the most extensive and metic-
solved, the problem of refining and preparing the ulous coordination between agencies of both gov-
new command for its inevitable future challenges ernments performing military, economic, political,
still lay ahead. and social functions.
One such refinement occurred in late 1964. We In HOP TAC, government control was to be
responded to the heightened emphasis on pacifica- pushed outward from the capital until the nearby
tion by creating a special staff agency, entitled the six provinces (Gia Dinh, Bien Hoa, Binh
Revolutionary Development Division, within Duong, Hau Nghia, Long An, and Phuoc
MACV headquarters. This new division was to Tuy) were firmly under government influ-
coordinate the military support of the pacification ence. Operations were directed toward eliminating
program directed by the Embassy. As the pacifica- Viet Cong influence and establishing security for
tion effort expanded and assumed increased im- the population. Once a modicum of security was
portance, a general officer was assigned to head guaranteed, I hoped the joint efforts of the minis-
this new staff division. tries and agencies of our governments could pre
vide the populace of the HOP TAC area with a
The Mission Council
standard of living perceptibly higher than the VC
In July 1964 the senior officials of the civil and could reasonably provide. To this end, we pro-
military elements of the U.S. Mission in Saigon grammed resources to build schools, dispensaries,
began to meet formally in a body known as the and other community development projects.
Mission Council. The council was a policy-formu- The HOP TAC plan envisaged a sequence of
lating body, chaired by Ambassador Taylor, who operations conducted throughout four roughly con-
retained overall responsibility for all U.S. activities centric lettered zones (A, B, C, D) emanating
in Vietnam. The council provided a mechanism for from the Saigon-Cholon hub. Zone A, predom-
high level coordination and discussion of the in- inantly urban and closest to the center, would be
89
X3-525 O-60-7
secured while Zone B, further out, was being the security mission. Once Vietnamese Army units
cleared. Simultaneously, search and destroy opera- cleared an area, immediate security operations were
tions would be conducted in the two outermost essential to prevent the reemergence of the VC in-
zones, C and D. As military operations progres- frastructure and the re-creation of a political base.
sively cleared each zone, the local defense forces- The police lacked the necessary numbers of trained
the Kegional and Popular Forces, the National Po- units, and the VC quickly appeared from hiding
lice, and the hamlet militia-were to move in, root to reassert their authority.
out the infrastructure, and provide local continu- Secondly, the civilian agencies, in the main,
ing security. Behind the outer ring of Vietnamese failed to produce the schools, dispensaries, and
Army operations and an inner ring of security pro- other facilities promised by the Vietnamese Army
vided by the Regional and Popular Forces, civilian units as they cleared an area. This failure reflected
officials were to direct the needed community proj- an inability to coordinate and implement plans and
ects. projects among ministries, rather than a lack of
Coordination of the civilian and military agencies willingness to produce. To these basic technical
in HOP TAC was the task of a special national problems were added the continuing changes of
control group which included officials of the III government. This created a paralyzing senseof in-
Corps, the Capital Military District, the command- security among officials charged with making
er of the Rung Sat Special Zone (a VC-infested area crucial decisions throughout the operation. New
of swamps southeast of Saigon), and representa- leaders, unfamiliar with HOP TAC, were sus-
tives of the Ministry of Interior, the National Po- picious, believing it to be an American-dominated
lice, and the Vietnamese Central Intelligence Or- and sponsored program.
ganization, along with their U.S. counterparts. Finally, the performance of the Vietnamese
During the planning and execution phases we con- Army was disappointing. Some senior leaders were
tinually stressed (to Vietnamese and U.S. alike) not aggressive, preferring to conduct static defen-
that the U.S. civilian and military role was solely sive operations instead of the more effective (and
to advise and provide commodity support. The difficult) offensive operations required to clear
Vietnamese government had control of the pro- and hold an insurgency-ridden area successfully.
gram. Troop shortages, aggravated by an unrealistic pro-
The Vietnamese airborne and Marine brigades hibition against recruiting men under age 20, fur-
and the ARVN 5th Division were the clearing ther hamstrung ARVN activities. Even an in-
forces. I induced the Vietnamese to move their 25th creased desertion rate became a problem in the
Division (less one of its regiments) south from newly-relocated Vietnamese 25th Division. Many
the II Corps zone to provide security in Hau soldiers wanted to rejoin their families in the II
Nghia Province where the VC had almost com- Corps area where the division had long been sta-
plete control. I also suggested that Long An Prov- tioned and from whence most of the soldiers had
ince be shifted from IV Corps to III Corps to been recruited. Transfers and the movement of
facilitate coordination of military and civic opera- dependent families eventually reduced the magni-
tions near the Capital Military District. tude of this problem, but in the future attempts
HOP TAC, which lasted from September until were made to avoid moving ARVN divisions great
mid-1965, never achieved the objective we envi- distances from their home bases. When reinforce-
sioned-true pacification failed to materialize. In ments were called for, we tried to use the Viet-
my view, there were three prime causes for this namese general reserve-airborne and Marine
failure. First, there were simply not enough com- troops based near Saigon, or Ranger battalions sta-
petent police and local forces to keep pace with tioned in each corps area.
90
Special Forces Operations The third term was “securing operations.” These
The mission of the 5th Special Forces Group operations were designed to protect pacification
(Airborne) was to advise and assist the Vietnamese teams, to attack (and eliminate) local guerrilla
government in the organization, training, equip- units, and to uproot enemy political infrastructure
ping, and employment of the Civilian Irregular in areas undergoing pacification. This type of op-
Defense Group forces. eration logically followed on the heels of clearing
The first Civilian Irregular Defense Group camp operations and was conducted by the Regional and
had been built near Ban Me Thuot in 1961. At the Popular Forces and the police.
beginning of 1964, there were 25 of these border The urgent requirement for such operational
camps, a figure which would double by the end terminology became evident cluring the prelimi-
of the year. This network of strategically located nary planning for HOP TAC. We needed a set of
fortified camps, each with an airstrip, proved in- clear mission definitions so that all the forces in-
valuable reconnaissance and fire support bases for volved would understand their tasks and the dif-
Vietnamese forces fighting the enemy main forces ferences between various tasks. The tasks were
in the remote border areas. familiar military ones. However, the usual mili-
tary terminology was unfamiliar to many of the
Operational Terminology civilians in HOP TAC. Thus the terms served as
In 1964 we adopted three terms to describe the instructional tools or teaching points for these
basic missions performed by the Vietnamese mili- civilians and standardized operational terminology
tary forces. These terms were intended to be doc- in the Vietnamese Army and the Regional and
trinal teaching points-concise, standard expres- Popular Forces.
sions to describe military operations and to relate Unfortunately, the term “search and destroy
them to the pacification effort. operations” was distorted in later years. Somehow,
A balance between each of these three types of it was equated in the public mind with aimless
operations was essential, but emphasis would shift searches in the jungle and the destruction of prop-
from one type of operation to another depending erty. Because of this misunderstanding, the term
upon enemy intelligence, the availability and train- “search and destroy” was eventually dropped and
ing of troops, support available (such as helicop- more conventional terms were used to report the
ters), weather, and terrain. same type operation. These substitute terms were:
The first operational term was “search and de- combat or offensive sweep, reconnaissance in force,
stroy.” Operations of this type were designed to and spoiling attack.
find, fix in place, fight, and destroy (or neutralize) Regardless of what offensive operations were
enemy forces and their base areas and supply called, we had learned from our experience in
caches. This was essentially the traditional attack Binh Dinh and several other places that we had to
mission of the infantry. take the fight to the enemy if pacification was ever
The second term was “clearing operations.” to succeed. In particular, we at least had to neutral-
The objective of a “clearing operation” was to drive ize the enemy’s main forces-to take them off the
large enemy units out of a populated area so that backs of the local security troops. Once we had
pacification efforts could proceed. The “cleared” located the enemy we wanted to attack him by
areas were not completely secure, for the local fire and maneuver. Further, we realized that even-
guerrilla threat persisted, but “clearing” removed tually we had to locate and destroy his base areas
the graver threat to pacification posed by large and supply caches. These were formidable tasks
enemy main force units. Frequently “clearing op- that in the main would have to await the avail-
erations” would be reported as “search and de- ability of stronger and more professional forces led
stroy” and many could properly be so classified. by aggressive commanders.
91
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS-1964
/an uary an encouraging victory. Vietnamese airborne and
On 2 January a Vietnamese Army force in the mechanized troops operating in the Plain of Reeds
Delta region seized a huge cache of Communist along the Cambodian border killed over 100 and
Chinese-manufactured equipment including mor- captured 300 of the enemy. In the course of mop-
tars, 300,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, up operations, Vietnamese units inadvertently in-
and recoilless rifle ammunition. truded into Cambodia in the vicinity of the village
On 18 January 115 helicopters-the largest air- of Chantrea, precipitating a sharp exchange of dip-
lift of the war-carried 1,100 Vietnamese troops lomatic notes with that nation.
into the critical War Zone D region north of Bien In an effort to consolidate his political control,
Hoa. Despite the magnitude of this action, no General Khanh, on 6 March, replaced three of
enemy contact was made and the operation pro- the incumbent South Vietnamese Army corps com-
duced no significant tactical results. manders and five of the nine division commanders.
On 27 January I assumed duties as Deputy Com- This purge of the military high command was
mander, United States Military Assistance Corn- followed by the wholesale replacement of province
mand, Vietnam. and district chiefs over the next several months.
In late January there were persistent rumors of Due to the weakness of the central government,
impending political upheaval. These reports were these corps commanders had enjoyed autonomy ap-
borne out when on 30 January, General Khanh proaching that of the traditional “war lord.” They
ousted the government of General Minh. were not only responsible for military operations
within their corps areas but also had been assigned
February
the additional role of the so-called “government
The modest tactical successesachieved in Janu-
delegate,” which embraced civil and administra-
ary were offset by a wave of Viet Cong terrorism
tive powers. Each time the command structure of
and victories. Violence first erupted in the vicinity
the Vietnamese Army was altered by the power
of Kontum City on 3 February when enemy forces
struggle in Saigon, mass changes in provincial and
attacked the compound of the U.S. Military Assist-
district leadership occurred automatically. As
ance Advisory Group. During the period 3-6 Feb-
much as any other factor, this turbulence in the
ruary Viet Cong forces launched a major offensive
administrative structure of the nation contributed
in Tay Ninh Province and in the Mekong Delta.
to the deterioration of the government’s credibility
In both areas, government forces suffered heavy
and concurrently increased the prestige and power
casualties.
of the enemy’s position among the people.
On 7 February the enemy initiated a series of
In contradiction to the chaotic state of the na-
bombing attacks in Saigon. Three U.S. personnel
tion’s political affairs, the Vietnamese Army in the
were killed and 50 wounded by a Viet Cong bomb
Plain of Reeds provided a second gratifying victory
explosion in the Capital-Kinh Do Theater at a
over the enemy on 23 March, trapping a Viet Cong
time when it was occupied primarily by American
battalion in a fortified village and killing 120 of the
personnel and their dependents.
enemy.
Continuing his reorganization of the govern-
Although the general morale and efficiency of
ment, General Khanh assumed control of the na-
the Vietnamese Armed Forces was poor, there
tion by naming himself Premier and appointing
were isolated examples of great valor and aggres-
General Minh as Chief of State on 10 February.
siveness on the part of some commanders. By and
March large, the airborne and Marine troops, the armored
On 3 and 4 March Vietnamese forces achieved units, and some of the Ranger battalions acquitted
92
themselves well. These examples were enough to in the Plain of Reeds, killing 99 of the Viet Cong.
confirm our conviction that the major problem A day later, the Vietnamese Army attacked a Viet
within the armed forces was poor leadership. This Cong training camp in Quang Ngai Province and
leadership problem started with the central gov- killed 50 of the enemy.
ernment and permeated the entire civil and military June also marked the beginning of a growing
system. tide of Free World assistance to the Republic of
April Vietnam. On 29 June a New Zealand Army En-
gineer detachment arrived to assist government of-
The growing aggressivenessof the enemy around
ficials in developing priority civic action projects.
the capital city and indications of a possible coun-
ter-coup prompted General Khanh on 7 April to WY
create a special military zone around Saigon. Viet Cong operations against the relatively iso-
Less than a week later, the district capital of Kien lated Special Forces camps located along the
Long in the southern tip of the Mekong Delta was borders of Vietnam intensified during July. At-
overrun by the enemy. Apart from the great con- tacking boldly, the enemy imposed increasing losses
cern which resulted from the loss of a major polit- on the South Vietnamese. On 4 July an enemy
ical center, the Vietnamese Army suffered over 300 force of regimental size overran the Special Forces
killed while 200 civilians also were killed or camp at Polei Krong in Pleiku Province, killing 50
wounded. Civilian Irregular Defense Group troops. Two days
later, the enemy attacked and partially overran the
May
Nam Dong Special Forces camp in the northern
On 2 May a Viet Cong underwater demolition
part of the nation, killing 55 South Vietnamese,
team sank the helicopter-carrying USNS Curd
two U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and one Aus-
while it was at berth in the port of Saigon. Terror-
tralian advisor.
ism continued unabated, including an abortive
It was also during this month that we received
Viet Cong attempt to mine a bridge along Sec-
the first tentative reports of some type of participa-
retary of Defense Robert S. McNamara’s route
tion by the North Vietnamese Army in Viet Cong
into Saigon on the 10th.
operations. The participation appeared to be in the
! A major reorganization of the U.S. command
form of individual officers or cadre serving with
took place on 15 May. The Military Assistance Ad-
Viet Cong units.
visory Group was abolished and its functions inte-
On 27 July we announced that several thousand
grated with the MACV structure, facilitating and
additional military advisors would be sent to Viet-
simplifying coordination, eliminating duplication
nam. Our plan was to strengthen our advisory
of effort, and achieving a significant economy in
effort at province level and to expand it to the
U.S. personnel.
district level.
1me
August
As General Harkins departed Vietnam on 20
One of the crucial months of the year, August
June, I assumed command of USMACV. Ambas-
marked the first open confrontation between
sador Lodge, who resigned on 23 June, was re-
North Vietnamese and United States forces. On
placed by General Maxwell D. Taylor early in
2 August North Vietnamese naval forces attacked
July. Mr. U. Alexis Johnson was appointed as the the U.S. Navy Destroyer Maddox in the Tonkin
Deputy Ambassador. Gulf, followed by a second attack on 4 August
Two successful Vietnamese operations were against the Maddox and the U.S. destroyer C.
conducted on the 24th and 25th. In the first, Viet- Turner Joy. The American response to these un-
namese forces again scored a victory over the enemy provoked attacks was prompt and determined:
93
aircraft from U.S. carriers in the Tonkin Gulf on The decisions of the 15-man leadership commit-
the following day struck PT boat bases and fuel tee were made known on 8 September. General
storage areas along the coast of North Vietnam. Khanh became Premier with General Minh desig-
In the wake of these actions, the U.S. Congress nated as Chairman of the Leadership Committee.
on 7 August adopted a Joint Resolution which However, the decisions of the committee failed to
affirmed that the United States would support the end the power struggle; within less than a week
Republic of Vietnam and “take all necessary meas- dissident Army officers staged an abortive coup.
ures to repel any armed attack against the forces General Khanh reacted by arresting the leaders, in-
of the United States.” cluding Maj. Gen. Duong Van Due, Brig. Gen.
As U.S. involvement in the international aspects Lam Van Phat, and the head of the influential
of the struggle expanded, the government of Viet- Vietnamese Worker’s Confederation, Tran Qua
nam underwent another traumatic change in polit- Buu.
ical leadership. General Khanh removed General On the international scene, U.S. and North Viet-
Minh as the Chief of State and assumed the role namese relations further deteriorated as a result of
of President on 16 August. Beset with factionalism a second series of torpedo-boat attacks against the
and an internal power struggle, he resigned his U.S. destroyers Edwards and Morton on 18 Sep-
position ten days later. On the 27th, a military tember.
triumvirate was established, consisting of General During the remainder of the month, a new and
Khanh, General Minh, and Maj. Gen. Tran Thien serious problem for the government of Vietnam
Khiem. The triumvirate two days later appointed emerged. Under the banner of the United Front
Dr. Nguyen Xuan Oanh as Premier. for the Struggle of Oppressed Races (FULRO),
Against the possibility of North Vietnamese U.S.-trained Montagnard irregular troops staged
retaliatory air raids on U.S. and Vietnamese bases, a major uprising in the Central Highlands and
U.S. tactical aircraft arrived in Vietnam in mid- marched on the city of Ran Me Thuot with the ob-
August. By the end of the month, ten RF-101 jet jective of creating an autonomous Montagnard
reconnaissance planes and six F-102 jet air defense state. U.S. officials attempted to mediate the dispute
interceptors were located at Da Nang and one but achieved only limited success.On 27 Septem-
squadron of B-57 “Canberra” bombers at Bien ber U.S. Special Forces and helicopters terminated
Hoa. Plans were made to dispatch two Marine the active phase of the rebellion when they success-
Corps Hawk antiaircraft missile batteries to the fully rescued the district chief, over 60 other Viet-
vicinity of Da Nang. namese hostages, and a number of hostages held
September by FULRO troops in the Special Forces camp at
The military triumvirate soon proved ineffective, Ron Sar Pa in Quang Due Province.
and on 3 September it was replaced by a 15-man October
committee which was to elect a temporary Chief During the first week of the month, rioting and
of State and Prime Minister. further disorders again erupted in Saigon. It was
The problems of establishing a viable governing significant that these disturbances were not moti-
organization were complicated by growing reli- vated by religious differences but were organized
gious strife throughout the nation. Riots, self-
by labor movements within the city.
immolations, and protest parades became common,
On 11 October three Viet Cong battalions en-
indicative of a deep-seated resentment and bitter-
ness existing among the various religious orders. gaged Vietnamese Army forces along Highway 1
On 6 September 150,000 Buddhists paraded in in Tay Ninh Province and inflicted heavy casual-
Saigon at a funeral for victims of a Buddhist- ties on the government units. A week later, govern-
Catholic riot. ment troops partially compensated for this defeat
94
by destroying 123 of the enemy along the border Ky, then commanding the Vietnamese Air Force,
between Ba Xuyen and Bat Lieu Provinces. issued an ultimatum to General Khanh to support
It appeared that a major step toward establishing Prime Minister Huong or to face removal. After
governmental stability had occurred on 20 October a long debate and much maneuvering, the High
when a new Vietnamese constitution was adopted National Council was dissolved on 20 December
and the Khanh government gave way to civilian in another bloodless coup.
rule. On 24 October Phan Khac Suu was chosen American personnel again became the target of
to become the Chief of State by the Vietnamese terrorism on Christmas Eve when, in Saigon, the
National High Council and within a week had des- Viet Cong detonated a 300-pound explosive charge
ignated Tran Van Huong as Premier. The High under the U.S. Bachelor Officers’ Quarters in the
Council confirmed Huong’s appointment on 31 Brink Hotel. Two Americans were killed and over
October. 100 wounded.
Throughout the month, elements of the 1,300- On 28 December the ARVN 21st Division in
man 5th U.S. Special Forces Group arrived in Viet- Ba Xuyen Province attacked three Viet Cong bat-
nam with the mission of assisting the Vietnamese talions, killing 87 and making the largest capture
government in developing its Civilian Irregular of enemy weapons in the war up to that point,
Defense Group program in remote border areas. including two 75-mm recoilless rifles and four
November .50-caliber antiaircraft machine guns. However, on
On 1 November the enemy mortared the major this same day, the VC 9th Division with two regi-
U.S. air base at Bien Hoa, killing two U.S. and ments seized the Catholic village of Binh Gia.
four Vietnamese soldiers. Over the next four days the enemy ambushed and
Enemy action throughout the month centered virtually destroyed the Vietnamese 33d Ranger
on Binh Dinh Province where two enemy regi- Battalion and the 4th Marine Battalion and in-
ments mounted a sustained and highly effective flicted heavy casualties on other relieving armored
offensive throughout that heavily populated central and mechanized forces. This was the first time that
coastal province. In a series of attacks and am- enemy forces remained on the battlefield and met
bushes, government forces in the area were either government forces in sustained combat. The battle
overrun, destroyed, or driven back into their forti- was regarded as a major event in the war by both
fied camps. Control over the countryside was lost contestants. To the enemy, it marked the begin-
and military initiative passed to the enemy. By the ning of the classic and final “mobile” phase of the
end of the month, most of this second largest prov- war. To the South Vietnamese government, it
ince in Vietnam was under the domination of the meant the beginning of an intensive military chal-
Viet Cong, and government presence was limited lenge which the Vietnamese government could
to a few district towns and the capital city of Qui not meet within its own resources.
Nhon. To add to the foreboding which accompanied
December the close of the year, reports were received that at
The apparent progress achieved in the political least three regular North Vietnamese regiments-
situation in October and November was shown the 95th, 32d, and lOlst-had left their bases in
by December to be illusory. Internal wrangling North Vietnam and were moving south for pos-
and General Khanh’s reluctance to provide full sible commitment in South Vietnam.
At the end of the year, U.S. military strength in
support to the Prime Minister drastically reduced
Vietnam stood at about 23,000. Infiltration from
the ability of the government to cope with its mul-
North Vietnam during the year totalled nearly
titudinous problems. 12,500, a significant increase over the previous
On 5 December Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao year.
95
LAOS

MAJORBATTLES
ANIl
SIGNIFICANT
LOCALITIES
1964

QUI NHON

IICTZ
CAMBODIA / BAY
i
3%
i: EANME THUOT
;

HIGHWAY 1 BATTLE ./

CHANTREA

PLAIN OF REEDS ’

BORDER BATTLE
BETWEEN BA XUYEN
AND BAC LIEU PROVINCE I

# LEGEND
-MAJOR BATTLES
AREAS OF PROLONGED
CONFRONTATION
BASE AREA/WAR ZONES
Chapter III
THE YEAR OF MILITARY
COMMITMENT-l 965

OVERVIEW
The year 1965 was one of momentous decisions stemmed in part from the fact that since 1962
and of commitment. It started on an uneasy note. there had been over 6,000 assassinations and 30,000
In the closing days of 1964,40 miles east of Saigon, kidnappings among the civilian population. A
the enemy launched the first division-sized attack total of 436 government officials had been assassin-
against the South Vietnamese Army. The battle ated and an additional 1,131 had been kidnapped
carried over into 1965. We now believe that this in 1964 alone. The overthrow of President Diem
battle at Binh Gia-described in the preceding had left the country without a constitution and
chapter-was regarded by the High Command in without the institutions of legal government. The
Hanoi, and in particular by General Vo Nguyen pacification of the countryside had been nearly
Giap, North Vietnam’s Defense Minister and com- stopped and the enemy was everywhere resurgent.
mander of North Vietnamese Armed Forces, as We now know that decisions were taken in mid-
the beginning of the final phase of the war. At the 1964 in Hanoi to employ large elements of the
same time, the first commitment of regular North North Vietnamese Home Army to hasten the
Vietnamese Army Forces had taken place near Dak process of total Communist victory.
To in the Central Highlands north of Kontum. Flushed with success, the Lao Dong Party in
Capitalizing on the political disorder which af- Hanoi and its South Vietnamese regional branch-
flicted the Saigon government, upon the weakness the People’s Revolutionary Party-moved quickly
of government administration throughout the in 1964 and 1965 to establish a political structure’
country, and upon deteriorating morale in the which could seize the reins of power upon the col-
Vietnamese Armed Forces, the North Vietnamese lapse of the South Vietnamese government. At
and their southern affiliates were moving in for hamlet and village level this shadow government
the kill. Additional North Vietnamese forces were consisted of Autonomous Administrative Com-
on the move south through Laos. We did not be- mittees supervised and directed by the Communist
lieve that the armed forces of South Vietnam could People’s Revolutionary Party. In its weakened con-
contain this expanding enemy military force. dition and with its fragmented organization, the
The government of Vietnam had been seriously South Vietnamese government could not cope suc-
weakened by a series of coups and upheavals fol- cessfully with this political offensive. By mid-1965
lowing the 1963 overthrow of President Diem. the government controlled the cities and major
These upheavals continued throughout the first towns while the enemy controlled most of the
half of 1965. The weakness of the government countryside.

97
In February, after a number of terrorist attacks the South Vietnamese Army was losing almost one
against Vietnamese and U.S. installations, and infantry battalion a week to enemy action. Addi-
with North Vietnamese regular army units appear- tionally, the enemy was gaining control of at least
ing on southern battlefields in increasing numbers, one district capital town each week. It was my esti-
the U.S. began a limited bombardment of North mate that the government of Vietnam could not
Vietnam by air and naval forces. This bombard- survive this mounting enemy military and political
ment was under CINCPAC control. My interest in offensive for more than six months unless the
the bombing of North Vietnam was centered in the United States chose to increase its military com-
destruction of war-supporting activities which mitment. Substantial numbers of U.S. ground com-
would assist us directly in the prosecution of the bat forces were required.
ground battle in the south. In March at Da Nang, I realized, as did Ambassadors Taylor and John-
and near Saigon in May, the U.S. deployed limited son, that the U.S. was faced with a momentous and
numbers of Marines, Army airborne troops, and far-reaching decision. In making my recommenda-
Hawk surface-toair missiles, to defend our air- tions in the spring and early summer of 1965, as
bases against possible enemy retaliation prompted indeed in the case of later recommendations, I was
by our bombing of North Vietnam. mindful of the stated U.S. objective with respect to
Earlier, in January, I had requested and received Vietnam : “To defeat aggression so that the people
authority to conduct jet air strikes to support Viet- of South Vietnam will be free to shape their own
namese troops under emergency conditions. I was destiny.” It was my judgment that this end could
also granted authority to employ U.S. jets to strike not be achieved without the deployment of U.S.
targets in remote areas which could not be attacked forces. With the concurrence of Ambassador Tay-
effectively by the Vietnamese Air Force. The first lor, I so recommended.
jet strike against enemy forces took place on 19 Starting in July, substantial numbers of U.S.
February. Later in the same month we used jet Army and Marine ground forces, together with
strikes to help extract a Vietnamese force sur- supporting air and naval forces, began their de-
rounded by the enemy. In this instance, aerial ployment to South Vietnam and into adjacent
firepower helped turn a potential disaster into a waters. As these U.S. forces arrived, they were com-
victory. mitted at the points of maximum peril on a “fire
But, while tactical jet aircraft were indispensable brigade” basis.
for close support, they could neither deliver suf- The evidence strongly suggests that in 1965 the
ficient numbers of large bombs in sudden surprise enemy intended to cut South Vietnam in half along
attacks nor cover large enough areas at one time. a line from Pleiku in the highlands to Qui Nhon
However, the Strategic Air Command’s big B-52 on the central coast. The initial commitment of
bombers could do both. Upon my request, B-52’s North Vietnamese Army forces was in this area
based on Guam were employed for the first time on and the threat was real and immediate. In order to
18 June to strike a well-entrenched enemy base in counter this threat, the decision was made to de-
War Zone D, 40 miles northeast of Saigon. The ploy the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the
results were so impressive that I began thereafter Central Highlands at An Khe, located between
to request and employ B-52 strikes on a continu- Pleiku and Qui Nhon. Its mission was, initially, to
ing basis. open-and to hold open-Route 19, the major ar-
Measures such as these made the insurgency more tery along this same axis.
costly to the enemy but they were not sufficient to The South Vietnamese concurred in the decision
reverse the course of the war. By late spring of 1965 to commit the 1st Cavalry Division in the Central

98
Highlands. In fact, they suggested that all deploy- bat, not without considerable anguish, for the
ing U.S. combat forces be concentrated in this com- troops and the airmobile concept were untested in
paratively remote area in order to minimize the battle, and no more inhospitable terrain could be
impact upon the South Vietnamese economy and imagined for a first test than the trackless jungle
populace. I recognized the necessity to guard near Plei Me. Failure in our first big test would
against unintended adverse effects stemming from have sharp repercussions on our self-confidence and
the presence of U.S. combat forces, but I regarded morale and on the American people. An Ameri-
it as essential to U.S.-Vietnamese successthat U.S. can defeat would have been disastrous to South
units be available to reinforce and stiffen South Vietnamese morale, undermining South Vietnam-
Vietnamese forces in the critical areas of high pop- ese confidence in our ability to defeat the Viet
ulation density. Consequently, I planned to build Cong.
up U.S. forces in an arc around Saigon and in the The bloody and classic campaign of the Ia Drang
populous coastal areas and not to restrict U.S. Valley followed, allaying my concern, proving the
troops to the Central Highlands. soundness of our tactics and training, and demon-
Although the U.S. military services had acquired strating the valor of our troops. The ability of
considerable experience and knowledge about Americans to meet and defeat the best troops the
enemy tactics and techniques during the advisory enemy could put on the field of battle was once
years, it was not until 1965 that American troop more demonstrated beyond any possible doubt, as
units engaged the enemy on the ground in direct was the validity of the Army’s airmobile concept.
and close combat. It was to be expected that great Although the first commitment of U.S. troops
significance would be attached to the outcome of to combat drew the most attention in 1965, my
the first battles. This was especially true since some concern as the commander was equally centered
of the first major battles would probably be fought on the development of a logistical system to sustain
by the newest Army division (1st Cavalry Divi- and support the combat elements. As late as March
sion), embodying for the first time the full-blown 1965, no decisions had been taken on U.S. inter-
airmobile concept. vention with ground forces other than the limited
The first major battle, Operation STARLIGHT, Marine security force deployed to protect the Da
was fought by the Marines just south of Chu Lai Nang airfield. Consequently, thcrc was no logistic
in August. In this battle, the 3d Marine Division system in being and no development of secure
detected and engaged the Viet Cong 2d Regiment, logistic bases except the totally inadequate instal-
which had exposed itself in the coastal lowlands lations associated with South Vietnamese forces.
of Quang Ngai Province. The Marines pinned this There were inadequate ports and airfields, no
force against the sea and inflicted over 700 enemy logistic organization, and no supply, transporta-
casualties in a period of two days of intense man-to- tion, or maintenance troops. Nonetheless, in the
man combat. The supreme confidence and Clan face of the grave tactical situation, I decided to ac-
with which the Marines entered battle was fully cept combat troops as rapidly as they could be
borne out by their valiant and professional per- made available and to improvise their logistic sup-
formance. port. That this calculated gamble paid off is a
In October the North Vietnamese concentrated tribute to the imagination, determination, and
three regiments of their best troops in the Central energy of those officers and men in ail the services
Highlands in an area between the Cambodian who were charged with this almost impossible
border and the Special Forces camp at Plei Me. task.
After the enemy attacked Plei Me, I decided to The decision to enter the war with large U.S.
commit the 1st Cavalry Division to its first com- forces having been taken, the strategy for their

99
deployment was modified and refined as experi- in the Mekong Delta. One important considera-
ence was gained and as the balance of forces tion was that no North Vietnamese Army units
changed in our favor. My initial concept visualized had thus far been deployed that far south. Further-
a three-phase sustained campaign. more, Viet Cong operations in the Delta remained
The first phase involved arresting the losing at a lower level of intensity and thus offered a
trend, stifling the enemy initiative, protecting the lesser immediate threat. Therefore, we had reason
deployment of our forces, and providing security to expect that the three ARVN divisions already
to populated areas to the extent possible. I esti- in the Delta could hold their own and, hopefully,
mated that this phase would carry through to the make some modest progress.
end of 1965. In the second phase, U.S. and allied By year’s end the emergency phase of the war
forces would mount major offensive actions to was passing. Along with our allies, we had de-
seize the initiative in order to destroy both the guer- ployed to South Vietnam and positioned forces
rilla and organized enemy forces, thus improving equivalent to more than five combat divisions. We
the security of the population. This phase would be had secured and started to build the necessary
concluded when the enemy had been worn down, logistic and administrative bases.U.S. strength had
thrown on the defensive, and driven well back risen to 184,000. Our presence had materially im-
from the major populated areas. The third phase proved the security of a number of populated areas.
would involve the final destruction of the enemy’s Our ground attacks had blunted the enemy’s ini-
guerrilla structure and main force units remaining tiative and had made incursions into his base areas.
in remote base areas. We had defeated a concentrated North Vietnamese
A basic objective in each of the three phases was effort to cut the country in two. Our air strikes
to cut off the enemy from his sources of supply- had taken the war to the enemy base areas and,
food, manpower, and munitions. Simultaneously, together with artillery and naval gunfire, had
pressure would have to be maintained against all continually harassed him. We had developed con-
echelons of the enemy’s organization-main forces, fidence in our ability to operate successfully in the
local forces, guerrillas, terrorist organizations, and guerrilla environment of Vietnam and had gained
political infrastructure. the confidence of the South Vietnamese and earned
As the deployment of major U.S. forces began, in battle the respect of the enemy.
Although set back by our military commitment
I made the decision to commit the Marine Corps
and determination, the enemy had redoubled his
units farthest north (in the zone of the South Viet-
efforts. Over 26,000 North Vietnamese had infil-
namese I Corps) and U.S. Army forces in the Cen-
trated into South Vietnam during the year, includ-
tral Highlands and adjacent coastal areas (II
ing some eight North Vietnamese regiments. At
Corps) and in the area around Saigon (III Corps).
year’s end the enemy was infiltrating forces at the
These deployments met the immediate threat, per- rate of 12 battalions a month. Although the North
mitted a simple command structure, and utilized Vietnamese and Viet Cong had lost some 35,000
fully the ability of the Marines to supply themselves men killed and more than 6,000 captured during
over the beaches in an area of few ports and air- the year, their combined strength-including main
fields. At this time we did not consider it necessary forces, local forces, and guerrillas-had risen to
to commit U.S. troops to the zone of the IV Corps, 221,000by the end of 1965.

100
OBSERVATIONS-1965
Command, Control, and Organization MACV Deputy-Lt. Gen. John L. Throckmorton,
and later, Lt. Gen. John A. Heintges-to under-
Overall U.S. authority in South Vietnam was
take, as his principal concern, the vital task of in-
vested in the U.S. Ambassador. In 1965 the Em-
suring continued proper attention to the advisory
bassy was directly responsible for the U.S. side of
structure and to all forms of support for Viet-
the pacification effort as well as for advising the
namese forces. At the same time, I continued to
Vietnamese government on political, economic,
devote a large portion of my own time to consul-
and social problems. Pacification activities were
tation with my counterpart, General Cao Van
coordinated by the Mission Liaison Group. MACV
Vien, Chief of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff,
provided appropriate support in many fields. As a
on these same important matters and to make fre-
practical matter, military operations were handled
quent visits to the Vietnamese corps, divisions, and
by MACV and political matters by the Embassy.
subordinate troop units, as well as to the paramili-
When one impinged upon the other, decisions
tary forces of the provinces and districts.
were made in close consultation, usually in the
Thus, although the lines of authority ran to me
forum of the Mission Council. That this arrange-
in several different ways, I was able to provide
ment worked smoothly is a tribute to the succession
unity of command for the entire American mili-
of prominent and talented ambassadors who have
tary effort in South Vietnam, and also to give my
been appointed to the post in Saigon.
personal attention to the entire range of advisory,
As the U.S. force buildup in South Vietnam combat, and support activities embraced by our
began in 1965, MACV continued to operate as a commitment to South Vietnam.
joint U.S. Military Command, directly subordinate Air operations against North Vietnam were con-
to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), ducted by CINCPAC through the Commander,
Admiral U. S. Grant Sharp, with headquarters in Pacific Air Forces, and the Commander, Pacific
Hawaii. As the U.S. commander in Vietnam, I now Fleet. This was a fully-workable division of re-
had two missions. I continued to be responsible sponsibilities and authorities because air assets of
for our advisory effort and for support of the various kinds were employed against North viet-
armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam. In addi- nam in connection with our operations there. This
tion, as operational forces deployed, I became re- meant, of course, that the Seventh Air Force and
sponsible for the combat operations of all Amer- the Seventh Fleet divided their efforts between the
ican Armed Forces within South Vietnam. air war in the north and support of the ground war
In order to satisfy these dual responsibilities, 1 in the south. The Commander, Seventh Fleet, also
organized commands and duties as follows: I exer- provided naval gunfire support for allied troops in
cised operational control over Air Force, Marine, South Vietnam and later for coastal bombardment
and Navy forces through their senior command- of North Vietnam. Similarly, the Commander,
ers. On the Army side, I established a new head- Seventh Air Force, received his orders or missions
quarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam (USARV), prima-- from two sources. He received directions for the
ily for logistic, administrative, and support func- air war in the north from CINCPAC through the
tions. I was Commander, USARV, but designated Commander, Pacific Air Forces, and for support of
a Deputy USARV Commander to concentrate on the ground war in the south through me.
these functions, On the surface, this would seem to be a compli-
To insure that continuing detailed attention was cated arrangement fraught with potential difficul-
focused on the advisory effort, I assigned my ties. In practice, however, the system worked well

101
MACV
USARV III MAF
+ ADVISORS

ALL USMC
E LOG & ADMIN
OPERATIONAL UNITS & ALL
UNITS
ELEMENTS FORCES IN I CTZ

I FFORCE V II FFORCE V 5th SFG

US ARMY US ARMY
I
SF UNITS
COMBAT FORCES COMBAT FORCES & CIDG
II CTZ IJI CTZ

* EXCEPT THOSE MACV ADVISORS WHO DOUBLE AS COMMANDERS OF U.S. TROOP UNITS
principally because of the judicious and skillful as- mass has won many battles and made it unneces-
signment of priorities by Admiral Sharp, Com- sary to fight many more. The skillful crews of the
mander in Chief, Pacific. Throughout the four and Strategic Air Command made a tremendous con-
one-half years of my service in Vietnam, Admiral tribution to our combat efforts in Vietnam.
Sharp provided counsel and support which were
Tactical Control
invaluable to me and to the war effort. His man-
agement and direction of complex and interrelated To control our ground field operations in 1965,
air and naval operations were made vastly easier we established at Nha Trang a headquarters desig-
and more effective by the high professional compe- nated initially as “Task Force Alpha” and shortly
tence of the successive naval and air commanders thereafter as “Field Force Vietnam.” Initially, this
involved. tactical headquarters operated under MACV con-
In an emergency and upon my request, CINC- trol for operations in the II and III Vietnamese
PAC would divert all necessary air and naval capa- Corps areas.
bilities to priority targets selected by me. When We elected to adopt the field force concept
the enemy mounted a major offensive in the area rather than organize a normal corps headquarters
of the DMZ, Admiral Sharp passed to my control for two primary reasons. First, since we intended
all air operations in the southern panhandle of to organize and operate in conformance with the
North Vietnam, because this area was in fact part South Vietnamese corps zones, it would have been
of the extended battlefield. On many occasions confusing to introduce another corps designation
aircraft of the Seventh Fleet were diverted from into those zones. Second, a corps headquarters is
North Vietnam to targets in South Vietnam at my somewhat fixed in organization. We needed to
request. On other occasions air operations in South tailor an organization precisely to the missions to
Vietnam were curtailed for short periods in order be performed. The field force headquarters was,
to add to the weight of the effort against high therefore, designed to control Army units of all
priority targets in the north. This arrangement per- sizes as the situation demanded-initially brigades
mitted full and effective use of our air and naval and later divisions. I foresaw the time when, as
capabilities. our buildup increased, we might be required to
inject a corps headquarters below field force level
Heavy Aerial Bombardment
to control several divisions-an eventuality which
Another welcome capability provided from re- did occur in 1968.
sources outside Vietnam was the B-52 effort. The We were to establish a second field force head-
strategic bombers of the 3d Air Division of the quarters in the spring of 1966, as our buildup con-
Strategic Air Command on Guam flew at a very tinued. The final command arrangement was the
high altitude and struck the enemy without warn- I Field Force in the II Corps zone, the II Field
ing. They could be neither seen nor heard. They Force in the III Corps zone, and the III Marine
struck with as many as 100 bombs each, in day Amphibious Force as the equivalent command in
or at night, in any kind of weather, and with the I Corps zone. Since I contemplated no early
an accuracy which is phenomenal. The effective- U.S. commitment in the IV Corps, the task of
ness of their strikes has been attested to by prison- coordinating and controlling U.S. advisors and
ers who have revealed that the “silent, sudden support troops there was assumed by the senior
death” from the big bombers has been one of our U.S. advisor to the Vietnamese IV Corps com-
enemy’s foremost fears. The use of this’weapon in mander.

103
VS.-Vietnamese Military Cooperation the enemy’s absurd claim that the United States
was no more than a colonial power. I was also
The three U.S. field forces and the respective fully aware of the practical problems of forming
South Vietnamese corps were co-equal commands and operating a headquarters with an interna-
which operated in a spirit of mutual cooperation. tional staff.
A similar arrangement existed with the largest Combined Intelligence
contingent of Free World forces, those from the Only in the critical area of intelligence did we
Republic of Korea. As I was the military advisor establish a combined or integrated U.S.-Vietnam-
to the commander of the Vietnamese forces on all ese activity. In order to take advantage of all U.S.
matters ranging from the administrative to the and Vietnamese talents, resources, and information,
tactical, so the field force and III Marine Amphib- we pooled U.S. and Vietnamese intelligence re-
ious Force commanders served as senior advisors sources in the Combined Intelligence Center. This
to the ARVN corps commanders. I found both center had four major functions: interrogation of
South Vietnamese and Free World commanders prisoners, exploitation of captured enemy material,
completely receptive and responsive to my advice exploitation of captured enemy documents, and the
and recommendations. At no time did an irrecon- preparation of intelligence reports for both U.S.
cilable problem of command or coordination oc- and Vietnamese commands. As our troop strength
cur. In the field our troops and the South Viet- increased and our operations became more exten-
namese fought side by side-from division level sive, more documents and prisoners were captured
to the smallest unit-in close coordination and and ralliers attracted. Thus, our intelligence techni-
cooperation. They supported one another as dic- cians had more with which to work. U.S. and Viet-
tated by the tactical situation. As we gained ex- namese intelligence specialists worked side by side
perience by working and fighting together, our and kept pace with the demands placed upon them.
combined efforts grew in effectiveness. Throughout the war the timely intelligence devel-
At all command levels, we planned operations oped by this agency has been a key factor in battle-
in close coordination with the Republic of Viet- field success.
nam’s Armed Forces. In the fall of 1965 we devel- One aspect of our combined intelligence effort
oped jointly our first Combined Campaign Plan in posed a particularly d&cult challenge. This was
order to coordinate the total military effort as well the problem of identifying appropriate enemy tar-
as set forth our objectives, policies, relationships, gets for air and artillery strikes-and particularly
and points of coordination for 1966. The plan was for our B-52 heavy bombers. At the very begin-
equally binding on all military forces. ning, our targeting for B-52 strikes was, frankly,
I consistently resisted suggestions that a single, somewhat primitive. With time and effort, how-
combined command could more eaciently prose- ever, this technique and process has become in-
cute the war. I believed that subordinating the Viet- creasingly refined and vastly more effective. By
namese forces to U.S. control would stifle the combining intelligence from agents, prisoners, de-
growth of leadership and acceptance of responsi- fectors, and the civilian population, with radar,
bility essential to the development of Vietnamese infrared, and other photography, and other infor-
Armed Forces capable eventually of defending mation, we have progressively increased the quality
their country. Moreover, such a step would be of our targeting and thus the effectiveness of these
counter to our basic objective of assisting Vietnam air strikes.
in a time of emergency and of leaving a strong, in- Tours of Duty
dependent country at the time of our withdrawal. Early in the buildup of American forces, the
Subordination also might have given credence to question arose of the appropriate length of tour in

104
Vietnam for U.S. servicemen. Aware of the pos- government was urged to play a vital role in civic
sibility that our involvement would extend over a action by demonstrating a genuine intent to
long period of time, I wanted to build a well-bal- respond to the needs of the people.
anced command of such size and composition that
it would have high, stable morale and could be Pacification
sustained for an indefinite period without resort to
The U.S. Mission’s efforts to support pacifica-
general mobilization. In the belief that high morale
tion during 1965 continued to be hindered by
and fresh enthusiasm would offset problems of
political instability. Vietnamese planning and co-
continuity and experience, I insisted on a standard
ordination at the national level remained inade-
tour of one year except for general officers. Of
quate. Clarification of policies was slow and not
course, one could volunteer to extend-and many
enough qualified personnel were available to ex-
did.
pand pacification efforts into all areas that had been
Civic Action
cleared by military operations. However, hope for
Even before the military buildup, I became con- an improved political climate and better perform-
cerned about the effect of a massive U.S. presence ance emerged in June with establishment of a
on the civilian population. Lest friction develop government by the National Leadership Commit-
between our forces and the very people we were tee with Nguyen Van Thieu as Chairman and
trying to help, I directed that all U.S. units under- Nguyen Cao Ky as Premier.
take an active, concentrated civic action program But while the pacification effort fell short of its
in the vicinity of their unit bases and, where pos- established goals, we nevertheless made some
sible, in areas of combat operations. U.S. Navy Sea- modest progress in a few places. The introduction
bees and Army engineers had begun such a pro- of U.S. forces provided an added measure of secu-
gram in 1964, digging wells and building bridges, rity to portions of the South Vietnamese populace.
small dams, schools, and other community facili- This added security was reflected in a rise in the
ties. Medical and dental care for civilians became number of people who were able to live under
an integral part of the program. Soon every opera- government control. Notwithstanding the prob-
tions plan included plans for civic action. lems stemming from weakness at the top, a num-
As our men arrived in Vietnam, they were thor- ber of imaginative experiments were underway
oughly informed about the country and the people which developed techniques and organizations
and received detailed instructions on the standards that later proved to be very useful. I have in mind
of conduct they were expected to maintain in their the People’s Action Teams, the Census Grievance
relationship with Vietnamese civilians. Each man Program, and the Armed Propaganda Program.
was issued a pocket-size card listing “Nine Rules By year’s end, about one-half of the South Viet-
of Conduct,” which made clear our aim to demon- namese population was living under government
strate to the people that we came as helpers. To control. Since the gains were from among those
forestall the inflationary impact of our presence on previously listed as “contested,” the amount of the
the economy, commanders restricted purchases of population under VC control remained at approx-
local goods and services and arranged fixed prices imately 26 percent.
with the local authorities for those purchases which
Measures of Progress
were necessary and unavoidable.
Our field advisors meanwhile attempted to Since specific terrain features have less impor-
orient the Vietnamese forces on their civic action tance in the area-type war fought in Vietnam than
responsibilities. On a national level the central in conventional war and since the usual gauge of

105
329-525 0-69-S
progress-the location of the front lines-was progress we were making in pacification and build-
missing, we had to turn to other indicators if we ing effective South Vietnamcsc Armed Forces.
were to measure progress. The damage inflicted
upon the enemy was one indicator. The health and
condition of the South Vietnamese government In regard to the information media-press,
and its armed forces was another. However imper- radio, and television-we early studied very care-
fect a substitute for the usual indices, these had to fully the advisability and practicality of imposing
suffice. some form of censorship such as that practiced in
Ry actually counting the number of enemy World War II. In the end, I decided that under
dead-a practice instituted by the South Viet- the particular conditions prevailing in Vietnam,
namese prior to the American buildup--we gained censorship would bc unenforceable and that greater
some knowledge of the degree of damage done benefits might be clcri\.ctl from a policy of max-
the enemy without the gross inaccuracy that would imum candor in keepin g uith the fact that objec-
tive and responsible coverage of such a complex
have resulted from mere estimates of enemy killed.
war was indispensable to an understanding of it
The number of enemy weapons captured was an
in the United States and elsewhere. Within the
indication not only of the armament lost by the
limits of genuine security restrictions, we made
enemy but also of the state of enemy morale and
every effort to cooperate with newsmen and to
battlefield competence. The number of villages and provide them facilities to cover the war. Whenever
hamlets pacified, the percentage of the population available, we provided helicopter and aircraft
under government control, the number of miles transportation to enable them to move about the
of waterways and highways opened to trafFic, pro- country. A set of grouncl rules required each news-
ficiency tests of South Vietnamese military units- man to act as his own censor in deleting informa-
all these provided some if not full measure of the tion of value to the enemy.

106

!-
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS-1965
lanuary February
The first North Vietnamese Army regiment to On 7 February the U.S. advisory compound and
enter South Vietnam, the 95th, arrived in Kontum the airfield at Camp Holloway near Pleiku were
Province in December 1964 and was joined within attacked with mortar fire and by demolitions teams.
the first two months of 1965 by the 32d and 1Olst Eight U.S. personnel were killed and 109 wounded
Regiments. During the same period the North while five aircraft were destroyed and 15 were
Vietnamese 6th Regiment was being activated in damaged. In response to this attack and numerous
Quang Tri Province. The infiltration rate at this earlier incidents of terror, the U.S. on the same
time was something over 1,000 men per month. day launched a retaliatory air strike on the Dong
North Vietnam also provided Viet Cong forces Hoi military barracks in North Vietnam. Three
with an addition to their arsenal-the 12.7-mm days later, however, the Viet Cong detonated a
antiaircraft gun. large explosive device which destroyed an Amer-
As the year opened, a major portion of South ican enlisted men’s billet in the city of Qui Nhon,
Vietnam’s military force was tied down in static killing 23 Americans and wounding 21.
security missions. Most efforts at large-scale offen- On 15 February the Armed Forces Council an-
sive operations had proved ineffective and had been nounced that the government of Prime Minister
abandoned. This lack of military activity reflected Oanh was being replaced by that of Dr. Phan Huy
low morale and indecision which stemmed in large Quat. Two days later, Vietnamese Army and Ma-
part from political upheavals and uncertainty in rine Corps units staged a bloodless coup in Saigon
the minds of the Vietnamese regarding the future and ousted the head of the Armed Forces Council,
of the country. In January the Tran Van Huong General Khanh. By 21 February General Khanh
government was ousted and a military/civilian had accepted the demands of the council for his
government established by the Armed Forces resignation and expatriation.
Council. On 9 February General Khanh, who In mid-February a Viet Cong regiment was re-
dominated the Council, nominated Dr. Oanh as ported to be concentrated deep in the jungles of
the acting Premier. Phuoc Tuy Province, not far from the scene of the
The unhappy battle of Binh Gia made it clear bloody fighting around Binh Gia in January. On
that Vietnamese forces urgently needed additional the 19th, after necessary clearance had been ob-
firepower and support to cope with the heavily tained from South Vietnamese officials, 24 U.S.
armed enemy regiments. Helicopter gunships per- B-57 “Canberra” bombers attacked this target-
formed magnificently, but even heavier ordnance the first jet strike of the war against enemy forces
was needed. Consequently, in late January, MACV in South Vietnam.
requested and obtained approval to use U.S. jet air- On 24 February a company of Vietnamese Rang-
craft against the enemy in support of Vietnamese ers and a company of Civilian Irregular Defense
troops under emergency conditions. COMUS- Group troops with a U.S. Army Special Forces
MACV also requested authority to conduct jet air team became entrapped in an enemy ambush near
strikes in remote areas against VC concentrations the Mang Yang Passon Route 19 between An Khe
which had been confirmed by reliable intelligence and Pleiku. (This was the same area in which the
and were beyond the capability of the Vietnamese Viet Minh had destroyed the French Group Mo-
Air Force to handle effectively. This authority was bile 100 in 1954.) In th is case I exercised the emer-
grjnted with the understanding that COMUS- gency authority which had been granted to me in
MACV would personally make each employment January for the employment of U.S. jet aircraft.
decision on a caseby casebasis. Twenty-four F-100’s along with R-57 “Canberras”
107
and helicopter gunships attacked the ambush site air from Okinawa to provide security for the major
while Army troop-carrying helicopters extracted air base at Bien Hoa and, initially, the airfield at
the beleaguered force without the loss of a man. Vung Tau.
The enemy lost 150 killed. Thereafter, under pro- By the end of the month, U.S. forces in South
cedures developed by the 2d Air Division, then Vietnam had passed the 50,000 mark (22,500
commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph H. Moore, the Army; 16,000 Marine Corps; 10,000 Air Force;
use of U.S. jets to support the South Vietnamese 3,000 Navy).
ATmy when heavily engaged became standard
1une
practice.
The 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regi-
After the successful extraction from the Mang
ment arrived at Vung Tau in June and began op-
Yang Pass area we deployed another CIDG force,
erating with the U.S. 173d Airborne Brigade near
composed of Montagnards of the Rhade tribe, into
Ba Ria in Phuoc Tuy Province.
this area. Within several weeks the Montagnard
During the same month, the Marines began to
soldiers had become homesick for their families
develop a major base at Chu Lai in Quang Tin
and began to return overland to their homes near
Province.
Ban Me Thuot-a considerable distance. We
In addition to its sheltered anchorage, Chu Lai
learned from this experience that only regular
was selected as the site of the second jet-capable air-
forces could be counted upon for mobile operations
field in the northern provinces. The existing air-
away from their normal base area.
field at Da Nang was overloaded with Marine and
A 600-man Republic of Korea engineer unit
Air Force tactical fighters and transport aircraft.
arrived on 25 February as part of the Free World
In a remarkable performance, the III Marine Am-
military effort to assist the South Vietnamese. This
phibious Force built an expeditionary jet airfield at
unit, with its own security force attached, was
Chu Lai in 30 days by using advanced techniques
known as the Korean “Dove Force.” It engaged in
and light weight aluminum planking. The early
civic action projects of an engineering nature,
occupancy of this airfield was a necessity in view
such as road and bridge repair and construction.
of the overall military situation.
March-April Off-shore, the MACV naval component com-
On 8 March the 9th Marine Expeditionary mand augmented the Vietnamese coastal surveil-
Brigade (later redesignated Amphibious Brigade) lance and anti-infiltration operation with radar sur-
arrived from Okinawa and was positioned in Da veillance ships, small craft, and aerial patrols. This
Nang to provide security for the important airbase reinforcement provided sorely needed assistance
there. The U.S. Army’s 716th Military Police Bat- in the effort to block the steadily growing North
talion arrived in the Saigon area on 21 March and Vietnamese seaborne supply effort. Further off-
assumed security duties for selected U.S. instal- shore, the U.S. Seventh Fleet Task Force 77, com-
lations. posed of aircraft carriers, destroyers and cruisers
On 30 March a truck loaded with several hun- took up station in the South China Sea to provide
dred pounds of plastic explosives was detonated air and naval gunfire support for allied ground
outside the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, causing heavy forces. The Navy could provide accurate fire, day
damage and killing two Americans and 11 Viet- and night and in any kind of weather, with weap-
namese. Deputy Ambassador Johnson was among ons up to &inch guns striking as deep as 16 miles
those wounded. inland. This support was particularly valuable in
May the zones of the I and II Corps where critical op-
The 173d Airborne Brigade, comprising two bat- erations most often took place in the narrow coastal
talions of infantry and one of artillery, arrived by lowlands.

108
In May and June the Vietnamese Army suffered battalions also arrived in July. One was positioned
two major reverses. In a four day battle at Dong at Da Nang and the other assigned a security mis-
Xoai, the VC 9th Division, for the first time with sion at Qui Nhon.
three full regiments, overran the Special Forces With the area secured by U.S. combat forces,
camp and then ambushed relieving Vietnamese work began on the major logistic bases at Cam
forces. One battalion of the ARVN 7th Regiment Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon, and Da Nang. The fourth
and the Vietnamese 6th Airborne Battalion were logistic effort was at Saigon where the existing
largely destroyed in this battle. The South Viet- port facilities were to be improved and where we
namese lost 650 killed or wounded. In the north- planned to build a new port for the exclusive use
ern province of Quang Ngai, in the battle of Ba of U.S. forces.
Gia, the Viet Cong 1st and 2d Regiments deci- On 28 July President Johnson announced that
mated the 39th Ranger Battalion and badly mauled our forces in Vietnam would be raised from 75,000
relieving South Vietnamese forces. to 125,000and that additional forces would be sent
By the end of June, Prime Minister Quat decided as requested.
to hand back to the Armed Forces Council the Augtist
reins of government. At the same time, General The first major battle involving U.S. forces oc-
Nguyen Van Thieu was proclaimed Chief of State curred in August. The III Marine Amphibious
as Chairman of the Vietnamese National Leader- Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. Lewis Walt, dis-
ship Committee. Air Vice Marshal Ky was installed covered and engaged the Viet Cong 2d Regiment
as Premier. The inauguration of this government on the Batangan Peninsula just south of the new
marked the end of a long debilitating period of Marine base at Chu Lai. The Marines surrounded
political turmoil. The Thieu-Ky government was the Viet Cong unit and pinned it against the sea.
destined to remain in power until the general elec- In a bitter fight, much of it hand-to-hand, the
tions and adoption of a new constitution in 1967. Marines killed 700 of the entrapped force in Oper-
Upon my request, on 18 June B-52 bombers ation STARLIGHT. This battle proved beyond
from the Strategic Air Command’s Third Air Divi- any doubt what the Marines had been sure of all
sion on Guam were employed for the first time to along-that they could meet and defeat any Viet
strike a well entrenched enemy base in War Zone Cong or North Vietnamese force they might en-
D. The results were sufficiently impressive so that counter.
B-52 strikes were requested and employed there- The tactical picture in the Central Highlands
after on a continuing basis. during this same period was not encouraging. On
At the end of June, troops of the 173d Airborne 18-19 August, a battalion-sized VC force overran
Brigade launched the first U.S. ground offensive the U.S. Special Forces camp located at the district
operation into War Zone D north of Bien Hoa capital of Dak Sut. Of the 250 CIDG troops sta-
Airbase. Several sharp engagements ensued in tioned there, only 50 escaped along with 8 of their
which the airborne troops killed many enemy and U.S. advisors. Although not confirmed, it was sus-
uncovered a large enemy base in the jungle, ac- pected that the attack had been supported by ele-
quitting themselves with distinction. ments of the NVA 10lst Regiment.
WY September
July marked the beginning of the accelerated U.S. military strength in South Vietnam rose
U.S. force buildup. The 2d Brigade of the 1st In- above 119,000. The 1st Cavalry Division (Air-
fantry Division arrived at Long Binh, near Bien mobile) arrived at Qui Nhon and An Khe in Sep-
Hoa, and the 1st Brigade, 1Olst Airborne Division, tember. In anticipation of the Ist Cavalry Division’s
deployed to Cam Ranh Bay. Two more Marine arrival, and to facilitate its initial deployment, the

109
1st Brigade of the 10lst Airborne Division cleared fought during the period 14-19 November around
the An Khe area and secured, along with Viet- the base of Chu Pong mountain. The performance
namese forces, Highway 19 leading from Qui of the 1st Cavalry Division was magnificent. In
Nhon to the new base at An Khe. The brigade extended combat against a skillful and determined
killed 226 Viet Cong in the process of clearing foe, it demonstrated the great effectiveness of the
the area. airmobile division concept and opened a new chap-
At Qui Nhon in September the 2d Battalion, 7th ter in the history of land warfare.
Marines (which had arrived there in July to secure As the enemy withdrew his assault regiment
the port and logistic complex under development) from Plei Me. the regiment incurred severe casual-
first employed the riot control agent “CS.” This ties from air strikes an(l pursuing air cavalry. How-
effective type of tear gas has a temporary in- ever, when the cavalrv clivision put a blocking force
capacitating effect. It assisted allied troops in gain- behind the withdrawing enemy and only a few
ing control of an area with minimum use of fire- miles from the Cambodian border, the North Viet-
power and, thus, to avoid civilian casualties. This namese commander committed his remaining two
technique also proved very effective in clearing regiments in an attempt to redeem his earlier fail-
underground tunnels and caves. ure at Plei Me and to destroy a major U.S. unit.
The 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division-barely 30
October
days in Vietnam-was the target. This gallant
In October the North Vietnamese Army began
brigade decisively defeated each enemy regiment
a major operation in the Central Highlands. By
in turn. Altogether, 1st Cavalry Division and
this time the enemy had assembled three North
ARVN troops killed an cstimnted 1,800 North
Vietnamese Army regiments in western Pleiku
Vietnamese. Despite our troops’ inexperience, the
Province and in adjacent Cambodia-the 32d, 33d
division’s tactical leadership, training, tactical mo-
and 66th. We believed this action to be part of his
bility, firepower, and flexible doctrine enabled it
plan to cut South Vietnam in two. In addition,
to gain an impressive victory. This timely victory
there is reason to believe that he welcomed the
produced a sharp upturn in the morale of the South
opportunity to spoil the debut of the U.S. ground
Vietnamese government and its armed forces.
forces in this area; the 1st Cavalry Division, which
The Plci Me/In D rang campaign also proved the
now stood in his path, was as yet untested in battle.
worth of the lightweight, rapid-firing Ml6 rifle
On 19 October the enemy opened his campaign
in battlefield competition with the Communist
with an attack on the Plei Me Special Forces camp
AK-47 assault rifle. Ul) to this point, only a few
25 miles southwest of Pleiku. He attacked the for-
U.S. units hat1 these wcnl)ons. At this time, I
tified camp with one regiment while holding the
strongly recommcndetl equipping all U.S., Free
bulk of his division-size force in reserve. The Viet-
World, and Vietnamese forces with the Ml6 as
namese Army countered this attack with the assist-
soon as pcGble.
ance of concentrated tactical air strikes. One bri-
The Korean Capital (Tiger) Division arrived
gade of the 1st Cavalry Division was moved into and assumed the mission of proTiding security in
the area south and west of Pleiku to block any the area of Qui Nbon and adiaccnt areas in Binh
further enemy advance and to stand in readiness Dinh Province. The Korean 2d Marine (Dragon)
as a reaction force. Brigade also arrived to assume a similar mission
On 27 October I directed the 1st Cavalry Division at Cam Ranb Bay. Witbin a very short period both
to seek out and destroy the enemy force in western units had established \t,cll-earned reputations for
Pleiku Province. Thus began the month-long cam- combat prowess.
paign known as the battle of the Ia Drang Valley. On the 23~1,U.S. milit,u-y strength in Vietnam
Th e prmclpal
’ ’ engagements in the campaign were reached a total of 148.300 (89,000 Army; 8,000
110
Navy; 37,000 Marines; 14,000 Air Force; December
300 Coast Guard). A 30-hour Christmas truce \vas agreed to by both
November sides. The U.S. suspended all offensive acts and
In November the South Vietnamese suffered a also suspended its air strikes in North Vietnam
major defeat. The ARVN 7th Regiment, operating during this truce. Upon the expiration of the 30-
in the Michelin Plantation northwest of Saigon, hour cease-fire, U.S. and allied troops were ordered
was engaged by the Viet Cong 271st Regiment. The
to maintain their defensive positions and not to
South Vietnamese regiment inflicted a heavy defeat
fire unless fired upon or attacked. As Viet Cong
on this VC unit. However, five days later a com-
panion regiment of the Viet Cong 9th Division and North Vietnamese attacks grew in number
(the 272d Regiment) overran the South Viet- and intensity, we were forced to resume offensive
namese troops, inflicting very heavy casualties and operations late on 26 December. However, the sus-
rendering the regiment ineffective. The Viet- pension of air attacks on North Vietnam remained
namese regimental commander was killed during in effect.
the battle.

1
LAOS

MAJORBATTLES
AND
SIGNIFICANT
LOCALITIES
1965
MANG YANG

CAMBODIA

CAM RANH BAY

MICHELIN PLANTATION
HAN RANG

HAN THIET
Chdpter IV

THE YEAR OF DEVELOPMENT-1966

OVERVIEW
From the U.S. standpoint, the year 1966 was (6) U.S. troops were then being encircled so
one of accelerated buildup and development and they could not move about freely.
the beginning of major offensive operations. To (7) U.S. troops were demoralized.
the government of Vietnam it was a year during
(8) U.S. infantry was weak and cowardly.
which a serious challenge to political stability was
(9) U.S. commanders were incompetent.
successfully weathered and some gains achieved in
pacification. Further, the Vietnamese Armed (10) U.S. tactics were ineffective.
Forces began to regain confidence and slowly to I will address these points again in my conclu-
resume an offensive posture. It was also the year sions.
in which the enemy began to have misgivings The military tasks which confronted us at the
about his strategy and his tactics. beginning of the year were many and varied: first,
In January of 1966 General Giap published an the protection of the government and the people;
article in Nhan Dan-a government newspaper in second, the protection and development of our
Hanoi. He was exhorting his troops to greater installations and logistic bases to keep pace with
effort and assuring them that the introduction of the continuing deployment of major U.S. troop
U.S. troops would pose no problem. He made a units; third, the qualitative and quantitative im-
number of points of which the following are provement of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces.
salient: We found it necessary on numerous occasions to
(1) The U.S. would not be able to put into mount quick spoiling attacks against increasingly
South Vietnam the number of troops required. large enemy main force units building up in the *
(2) U.S. forces would antagonize the Viet- border areas, which posed a constant and growing
namese people as time went on. threat to all of our programs and objectives.
(3) Pressure against the war would grow in We could not accomplish all of these tasks with
the U.S. and throughout the world and the costs equal emphasis everywhere at once. Therefore, we
of the war would be very high. concentrated our efforts in the most vital areas.
(4) The morale of South Vietnamese forces Elsewhere we applied the military principle of
would decline. economy of force. I judged that the critical regions
(5) U.S. weapons and equipment were not requiring first attention were the populated area
suited for this kind of war, geography, or climate. around Saigon in the III Corps and the coastal low-

113
lands in the I and II Corps. The more important The largest battle, involving 22,000 American and
of these regions was that around the capital city. South Vietnamese troops, took place northwest of
To the north, the central coastal provinces of Binh Saigon in Operation ATTLEBORO where the
Dinh and Phu Yen were most critical. Not only Viet Cong 9th Division, reinforced by a North
were these provinces heavily populated and a prime Vietnamese regiment, was soundly defeated and
source of VC support, but enemy forces there driven back to the Cambodian border. In a series
threatened to sever the country by linking up with of savage battles, the 1st Cavalry Division, Korean
North Vietnamese units operating in the Central units, and ARVN forces cleared the northern half
Highlands. With these priorities and considera- of Binh Dinh Province on the central coast, in
tions in mind, I deployed the bulk of our rein- Operation MASHER/WHITEWING/THANG
forcements into these areas. PHONG II. In the process they decimated the Sao
For example, the remainder of the U.S. 1st In- Vang Division which was later to be designated
fantry Division was deployed north of Saigon and the North Vietnamese 36 Division. U.S. Marines
the 25th Infantry Division was positioned just of the 3d Division were progressively moved into
northwest of Saigon astride a major access route the area of the northern two provinces and in con-
to the city. Specific troop dispositions were de- junction with South Vietnamese Army and other
signed not only to provide a defensive shield for Marine Corps units conducted a highly successful
the densely populated areas but also to secure se- campaign (Operation HASTINGS) against en-
lected installations of value to the Vietnamese emy forces infiltrating across the DMZ.
economy, such as rubber plantations. A new Viet- By year’s end our strength in Vietnam had in-
namese division, the 10th (later to be designated creased by over 200,000 men, including additional
the 18th) was organized and positioned northeast helicopter, infantry, and artillery units and a sub-
of Saigon. The Republic of Korea 9th Infantry stantial augmentation in tactical fighter squadrons
Division was * deployed into the critical coastal and a substantial growth in naval forces. Under-
areas of II Corps and the U.S. 1st Marine Division standably, this very rapid buildup placed heavy
occupied the heavily populated southern provinces strains on the logistic system, which was barely able
of the I Corps. Although one brigade of the U.S. to keep up with mounting supply, maintenance,
4th Infantry Division was initially positioned in and transportation requirements. The monthly
the coastal area of Phu Yen Province, the entire tonnage of arriving supplies rose from 390,000 in
division was eventually deployed to the Central December 1965 to over 600,000 a year later.
Highlands to counter the steady buildup of North In these early days before sufficient forces were
Vietnamese units in that region. available to open and maintain the road and high-
These deployments, which moved us beyond the way system, our combat forces were almost wholly
“fire brigade” approach we had taken out of neces- dependent upon aerial resupply, especially when
sity in 1965, again affirmed my conviction that the they operated any distance away from the coastal
combined U.S.-South Vietnamese military effort bases. Therefore, 59 additional airfields were con-
must begin in the critical areas in which the pop- structed during the year, raising the total number
ulation was concentrated. Secretary McNamara, of fields able to handle transport aircraft to 73.
on a visit to Saigon, supported me in my opposition Enemy forces also increased rapidly. During the
to yet another South Vietnamese suggestion that year at least 58,000 men had infiltrated from North
U.S. forces be deployed only to remote areas such Vietnam-equivalent to 5 divisions. The enemy’s
as the Central Highlands. total combat strength at the end of the year
The enemy’s view of the critical areas was much was over 282,000 total plus an estimated 80,000
the same as ours. As a consequence, the major bat- political cadre. North Vietnamese officers, non-
tles of the year developed in these critical areas. commissioned officers, and political cadre began

114
to assume leadership positions in many Viet Cong Ninh along the Cambodian border north of Saigon.
units. In 1965 individual replacements for Viet In fact, during most of 1966 (and extending into
Cong units had been drawn primarily from the 1967) main force enemy units, in areas other than
populous IV Corps area. Increasing reliance on the Delta, generally failed to bring their weight
North Vietnamese replacements reflected problems to bear in the populated areas in support of enemy
of recruitment which began to plague the Viet local and guerrilla forces and the enemy political
Cong by late 1966. apparatus. For a period of some 15 months, for
As enemy forces increased, so too did the quality example, no main force unit of the enemy’s 5th,
of enemy arms. The most significant adclition of 7th, or 9th Divisions entered the populated area
the year was a marked increase in numbers of the around Saigon. The commander of enemy forces
lightweight rocket launcher, the RPG-2, first in the south apparently thought that he could not
employed in 1964. In attacks against the Special afl’ord to engage his growing main force units at
Forces camp at Khe San11and the Da Nang air- greater distances from their border sanctuaries
field in the month of January, 120-mm mortars without exposing them to destruction by the fire-
were employed for the first time. The range of this power of the highly mobile allied forces.
weapon almost doubled the distance from which By the summer of 1966, the commander in the
the enemy could conduct mortar attacks against south, General Nguyen Chi Thanh, revealed to
our installations, thereby sharply increasing our Hanoi his reluctance to pursue the earlier strategy
base defense problem. Viet Cong local and in the face of battlefield realities. In an exchange
guerrilla forces began to appear with AK-47 as- of views with the high command in Hanoi-pub-
sault rifles. lished in the Hanoi press and broadcast over the
Although the enemy’s forces continued to grow Hanoi and “Liberation” radios-General Thanh
in size, to improve in armament, and to reflect an appeared to’resist the urgings of General Giap to
increasingly large North Vietnamese commitment, press on with the strategy of 1964-65.
the high command in Hanoi made no change in No apparent decision emerged from this ex-
strategy to meet the additional U.S. deployments. change. In any event, it was overtaken by the
The Communist leaders apparently retained their advcnt‘of the northeast monsoon, which brought
faith in the interaction between political and mili- clear skies and dry weather to the southern regions
tary organizations. They continued to rely on the of South Vietnam. These conditions favored allied
concept of mutual support between VC guerrilla
operations; the enemy soon found himself heavily
and local forces, on the one hand, and the VC
engaged by the 1966-67 allied dry season cam-
and NVA main forces on the other-arrangements
I)aign.
which had paid off handsomely in 1964 and 1965.
Although the enemy made no change in basic
By the last half of 1966-and extending into
strategy, he did open a new front just south of the
1967-this military strategy of mutual support cn-
I>M% in the late winter and early spring. More-
countered increasing difficulties. Eviclence of these
difficulties is most clearly provided by tbc fact that over, bc clid so wit11 great vigor and determination,
main force units were almost exclusively em~~loyed al~cl in a region so separated from the rest of the
in remote border areas and along the DMZ or in country as to make allied reaction more difficult.
difficult mountain or jungle terrain. Isolated out- This region-the two northernmost provinces of
posts were attacked with relative frequency but (&ang Tri and Thua Thien-is isolated by a
major attacks were confined to Con Thien nncl Gio Illountnin spur that runs to the sea just north of
Linh near the DMZ, to Dak To and Due Co in I>:1 Nang. The highway over this obstacle is nar-
the Central Highlands, and to Song Be and LOC I-ON’, \~~incling, and vulnerable. No all-weather

115
ports existed north of the pass. The imperial city of in turn, enabled progress toward free elections and
Hue in Thus Thien Province is politically and psy- the drafting of a new constitution.
chologically important to all Vietnamese. The Pacification continued to be a disappointment
populated coastal strip in this region is very narrow albeit with some minor progress. A Revolutionary
and difficult to defend. Enemy lines of commu- Development Program, introduced by the South
nication, on the other hand, are shorter than those Vietnamese government in November, showed
required to support operations in any other area some promise. The most important development
in South Vietnam. Furthermore, the enemy was of the year was the opening of the Pacification
able to use, to his great advantage, the sanctuary Cadre School at Vung Tau and the deployment
just across the DMZ. This enemy buildup in the of 59-man Revolutionary Development teams into
north was met by the U.S. 3d Marine Division contested hamlets. The government’s CAieu Hoi
and by Vietnamese Army and Vietnamese Marine program, which welcomed disillusioned Viet Cong
Corps units in Operation HASTINGS, the second back to government loyalty, made impressive
largest engagement of the year. gains-20,242 returnees in 1966-almost double the
I believe that the enemy opened this new front preceding year’s total of 11,124.Largely because of
in order to divert our forces from the area that has the presence of more U.S. forces, the percentage of
always been his preferred objective-the heavily the population able to live in reasonable security
populated region around Saigon. At the same time, increased from slightly more than 50 percent in
we suspected that the enemy might try to seize January to approximately 60 percent at year’s end.
and hold this northern area and establish there a As in 1965 these gains were made almost entirely
“liberation” government. Such a development in previously contested areas.
would have had obvious and serious effects. At this Ry mutual agreement, South Vietnamese forces,
early date I was concerned that we would have to which could better identify the local guerrillas and
confront major North Vietnamese forces in the infrastructure, concentrated on area security; U.S.
extreme northern area or abandon the region to and Free World forces conducted most of the
the enemy. major offensives against Viet Cong main forces and
The threat in the north continued to mount clur- the North Vietnamese. At this stage of develop-
ing 1967~and during 1968, as well. The fact that ment, the task of eliminating the infrastructure
we were able to meet this formidable threat of five was the particular responsibility of the National
to six enemy divisions in the far north without Police.
giving up any positions of real value farther south The coastal surveillance program by the United
is, to me, the major military feat of the war. It was States and Vietnamese Navies began to reach a
the product of logistic flexibility and the momen- high state of effectiveness in stopping enemy sea-
borne movements. Tactical air support procedures
tum provided by our planning prior to the event.
were refined and U.S. ground forces received
South Vietnamese government control of this
superb support from the Seventh Air Force, the 1st
northern area was also challenged by internal ele-
Marine Air Wing, and the Seventh Fleet. Addi-
ments in Hue and Da Nang. From March until
tional Korean, Australian, New Zealand, and Thai
midsummer, the government went through a seri- troops arrived and added a major and professional
ous political crisis when the Buddhist and Stuclent component to the growing allied force.
Struggle Movement led to riots and civil disorders By the end of 1966 sufficient forces had been
throughout the country, but primarily in the areas deployed, together with their logistic support, so
of Hue and Da Nang. The eventual suppression by that the total allied military establishment was in
the Ky government of this near-revolt increased a position for the first time to go over to the offen-
the government’s strength and confidence. These, sive on a broad and sustained basis in 1967.
116
OBSERVATIONS-1966
Oflensive Combat Operations impaired the offensive capability of local guerrillas
During 1966 our offensive combat operations ex- who were dependent upon the main force units for
panded and intensified. Throughout 1965 our support. Our active operations against main force
modest troop strength and relatively scarce fire- units adversely affected local guerrilla strength in
power had forced us to conduct spoiling attacks yet another way. The Viet Cong replacement sys-
on an emergency or “fire brigade” basis, However, tem prescribed that local guerrilla units provide
in 1966 increased numbers of troops, helicopters, replacements to main force units. As we inflicted
and tactical fighter aircraft, buttressed by an in- increasing lossesupon the enemy main force units,
creased allocation of B-52’s, permitted us to plan guerrilla groups experienced an immediate and
these operations more deliberately. serious manpower drain. They were drawn upon
Although all our operations fell into one of to restore main force troop strength and suffered
three broad categories (security-clearing-search accordingly.
and destroy) the nature of the tactical situation Operations Against Base Areas
nevertheless varied widely between corps zones.
The number of enemy reported killed in our
The war took on a different and changing com-
attacks against enemy base areas sometimes made
plexion in each zone and the three types of opera-
the operations against these objectives appear in-
tions received varying emphasis.
consequential. This was misleading. The enemy
Attacks by air and artillery fire constituted the frequently abandoned his base areas, refused battle
bulk of our offensive operations in early 1966 until
[and evaded, thereby minimizing his personnel
our ground strength reached appropriate and ef-
losses. But the supplies and materiel. we captured
fective levels. Reconnaissance in force operations
or destroyed in these base areas were vital to the
and spoiling attacks by ground units were reserved
enemy; the base complexes themselves represented
for those enemy forces and installations which a capital investment difficult to replace. Loss of the
constituted an immediate and grave threat. These supplies and destruction of base area facilities
ground offensive operations paid multiple divi-
sharply limited the enemy’s ability to fight and
dends. They disrupted enemy activity of all types,
created an immediate (and eventually chronic)
deprived the enemy of the initiative, and placed
tlisruption of his operations.
him on the defensive. They forced the enemy to
Increased intelligence was another vital dividend
move continuously to avoid destruction or engage-
resulting from attacks on main force units in base
ment on markedly unfavorable terms. This move-
areas. We captured copies of the enemy’s campaign
ment in itself disrupted his plans, forestalled his op-
erations, and frequently induced high casualties and battle plans, strategic guidance, tactical doc-
from our firepower. -Massive attacks by firepower trine, attack orders, standing operating policies and
alone were launched against more remote, less procedures, personnel rosters, medical and casualty
threatening targets. Our improved and broadened reports, equipment, supply, and weapons reports,
intelligence capability, whose growth correspondecl along with evaluations of his own weaknesses and
with that of our strike forces, greatly enhanced our strengths and plans to overcome both. These
the effectiveness of these attacks by providing us operations also resulted in the capture of a number
more and better defined targets. of the enemy and provided an opportunity for dis-
Weakening (in some casesdestroying) and driv- illusioned VC to rally to the government side. Pris-
ing back enemy main force units not only removed oners and defectors provided additional insight
a major threat to the populace, but also seriously into enemy plans and reactions to our methods.

117
Combat intelligence our superior mobility and firepower either to rein-
Our expanding Combined Intelligence Center force the threatened camp or to counterattack and
quickly exploited this hard, comprehensive intelli- destroy the exposed enemy units. To insure sur-
gence, which could be gained only through major vival, these outposts were habitually backed up and
penetrations into base areas. Our possession of this supported by mobile ARVN, U.S., or other Free
information created a dilemma for the enemy: he World units operating in the general area.
could pursue plans we were prepared to counter Mobile Guerrilla Force
or delay his actions to develop new plans. The
In 1966 we refined the organization and em-
time required by the enemy to change plans and
ployment of a multipurpose reaction force, at first
replace lost supplies was often several months, usu-
known as the Mobile Guerrilla Force and later
ally a delay that he could ill afford.
redesignated the Mobile Strike Force. Composed
To enhance our intelligence capability, I re-
of company-size groups of 150 to ZOOmen, this
quested the early deployment to Vietnam of sepa-
force conducted sustained guerrilla operations
rate air cavalry squadrons. These units with the
against the enemy, employing guerrilla doctrine
great mobility and extensive communications pro-
and using many techniques borrowed from the
vided by their organic aircraft, could range
Viet Cong. Inserted clandestinely into an area of
throughout the country on both combat and rccon-
operations, the troops of the Mobile Guerrilla
naissance missions. They proved to be especially
Force normally broke contact with their base and
useful in locating the enemy and developing the
conducted mobile operations for periods as long as
initial combat situation against enemy main force
45 days. To prevent compromising these units, re-
units so that larger and heavier forces could be
supply was also carried out clandestinely. These
more effectively employed in a reaction and ex-
special operations were highly successful in pene-
ploitation role. Two of these squadrons were activ-
trating isolated enemy bases, disrupting the
ated in the fall of 1966 and were to be sent by air
enemy’s lines of communications, attacking hidden
at my request in the fall of 1967. Others would
come later. logistical support bases,and gathering intelligence.
Reconnaissance Forces
Special Forces Operations
The U.S. and Vietnamese Special Forces also
Border Defense and Surveillance
created deep reconnaissance and reaction forces
Border defense and surveillance was another that operated throughout the country in response
major type of operation during this period. This to MACV and the Vietnamese Joint General Staff.
activity was based primarily on the fortified camps Striking into remote areas, these units gathered
of the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups and their intelligence, conducted raids, and interdicted the
U.S. Army Special Forces advisors. These camps enemy’s lines of communication. They attacked
performed a valuable intelligence and surveillance the enemy by calling in air strikes and directing
function. They were purposely located astride artillery fire. Occasionally these units guided
major supply and infiltration routes. Patrols op- Mobile Strike Forces into contact with enemy
erating from them inhibited enemy movemt nt and units. They also executed deception and photo-
upon contact frequently brought down the wrath
graphic missions and performed post-strike assess-
of our aerial firepower upon the enemy--often
ments of bomb damage from our air strikes.
North Vietnamese regulars. Consequent iy, the
enemy constantly sought to destroy or nelrtralize Other Special Forces Activities
them. Once the enemy concentrated and moved Our Special Forces continued their valuable con-
into the open to strike these camps, we enlployed tribution in civic action and psychological opera-

118
tions. In remote areas of Vietnam they were fre- began to work jointly for me and for Ambassador
quently the only contact the local inhabitants had Porter. Our interests and responsibilities were SO
with the central government or the outside world. interlocked that this arrangement served us both
Their contributions to education and medicine in well.
these areas were extensive; they built or sponsored Inflation and its Impact
over 300 schools and provided medical care for Fueled by the tremendous buying power of our
innumerable isolated small communities. troops, inflation posed a formidable and grow-
The overall value of our Special Forces and the ing problem. In 1966 my staff and I directed con-
Civilian Irregular Defense Groups can scarcely be siderable attention to it. We instituted programs1
overstated, The intelligence they furnished on to divert the buying power of our troops by en-
enemy infiltration and operations in remote areas couraging savings and by increasing the number
was vital. With minimum strength they main- of post exchanges and the range of items offered in
tained a measure of control in vast areas that the exchanges. The Rest and Recuperation (R&R)
otherwise might have gone to the enerny by de- program for our troops was expanded to outside
fault. They brought some 45,000 fighting men and countries. These efforts, ~1~1scloser coordination
a proportionate population under government con- with Vietnamese officials at all levels to encourage
trol or influence, all of whom might otherwise price control measures, kept the problem within
have been recruited or dominated by the enemy. manageable proportions. Conversely, the fear of in-
flation led to the imposition of piaster expenditure
Pacification
ceilings that restricted the rate of buildup of both
In November Ambassador Lodge announced the
United States and Vietnamese forces.
creation of the Office of Civil Operations (OCO),
under Deputy Ambassador William J. Porter, a Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces
move designed to achieve some consolidation of During the year I devoted the greater part of
the fragmented civilian pacification effort. Mr. L. my time to the American buildup and our combat
Wade Lathram, an outstanding Foreign Service operations, while my able, combat-experienced
Officer with experience in the Saigon office of the deputy, General Heintges, continued to dedicate
Agency for International Development (AID), most of his time to our effort to build viable South
was named the first director. Under Mr. Lathram, Vietnamese forces. Each MACV headquarters staff
OCO assumed responsibility for all civilian sup- section had major elements that worked on devel-
port of the South Vietnamese Revolutionary De- oping the Vietnamese Armed Forces and advising
velopment effort and all U.S. civil operations in the their Vietnamese counterparts in the Joint Gen-
pacification field. eral Staff. I continued frequent contacts with the
Concurrently, I elevated the MACV Revolu- Chief of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff, Gen-
tionary Development Division to a Directorate, eral Vien, and often made visits to the Vietnamese
thereby providing emphasis through a larger staff corps and division headquarters and their field
headed by a general officer. Although not respon- units.
sible for the civilian advisory effort in support of The Republic’s Armed Forces had expanded
pacification, I had long been concerned with de- during the year, with ARVN absorbing the ma-
veloping means to assist and support it. There is no jority of a 20,00O-man increase to the regular forces
way to separate security considerations from pacifi- and the Regional and Popular Forces increasing by
cation operations. Furthermore, MACV furnished 30,000. At the end of 1966 Vietnamese forces of all
the province and district advisors who were types totalled approximately 623,000 men, of whom
central to the pacification effort. Thus by mid-1966 329,000 were regulars. On 21 December 1966 the
the Military Assistance stafi division of MACV U.S. Mission Council completed a South Viet-

119
namese manpower study. The document con- manders in the field to see at first hand their prob-
cluded that the maximum sustainable level of the lems, to review with them their situation, to deter-
armed forces should not exceed 622,000. In response mine their views, to give them guidance, and to
to this judgment, I revised the projected force visit their troops.
level downward from 633,645 to 622,153. Tactical Experimentation and Innovation
South Vietnamese Administrative Organization In 1966 we were progressively developing our
The administrative organization of the Viet- ability to fight an elusive enemy on an area battle-
namese forces continued to improve during 1966 field while improving our troop and logistical
with an expansion of existing training facilities capability. It was a year of learning: old tactics had
and establishment of division training centers. to be modified, new tactics and techniques ex-
With our advice and assistance the Joint General plored. New equipment had to be developed and
Staff formed a Command Leadership Committee. new skills acquired. We had to learn the enemy’s
The committee took a number of forward look- tactics and how to deal with them, how to detect
ing actions that included procedures for improv- and defeat his attacks and ambushes, and how to
ing the promotion system for officers and non- locate and destroy his forces.
commissioned officers, enacting a merit promotion One innovation prompted by the basic fluidity of
system for enlisted men, establishing criteria for the area battlefield was the system of interlocking
selection to attend the Vietnamese Command and fire support bases and improved night defensive
General Staff College, and improving the awards positions developed to provide effective and con-
and decorations program. tinuous all-around defense. This system was not
unlike the all-around defense practiced during the
Quarterly Reviews
American Indian Wars. Major emphasis was put
During 1966 we instituted a system of quarterly on fire support; artillery was positioned so that any
reviews of progress. General Vien and I visited point in the area of operations could be reached by
each of the corps every three months to meet with fire from at least one and usually two or more bat-
the senior Vietnamese and Allied commanders. teries. The batteries were mutually supporting in
During these visits we reviewed and evaluated that they could fire in support of one another in
progress in their areas in light of the Combined case of an attack. The artillerymen organized their
Campaign Plan. In the II Corps area, Lt. Gen. positions so that the guns could deliver fire in all
Chae Myung Shin, commander of the Republic of directions. The great range of the 175-mm gun
Korea forces, joined with us to review quarterly made it possible to deliver a heavy concentration of
progress and to make appropriate decisions. This accurate fire to positions and patrols within 20
management system proved valuable in measur- miles of the gun position, regardless of the weather.
ing our progress and adjusting our programs. It We also refined our fire support procedures for
provided a timely method to collect the experiences both air and artillery to insure prompt as well as
and lessons learned in different areas by different reliable delivery of support. An elaborate system
units. These lessons were subsequently dissemi- of firing checks and clearances was developed
nated throughout the command, thereby broadly and instituted to guard against endangering civil-
improving the quality of our tactics and opera- ians or adjacent units,
tional procedures. I held frequent commanders’ A valuable firepower innovation was the AC-47
conferences, at sites away from my headquarters gunship, dubbed “Puff the Magic Dragon” or
in Saigon, at which we exchanged information on “Spooky.” This was a DC-3 transport aircraft with
tactical innovations and other new ideas. Also, three “miniguns” mounted to fire out the left side.
several times each week I visited individual com- With each gun firing 6,000 rounds a minute, these

120
aircraft were able to illuminate a target at night security and perimeter defenses of our bases.Oper-
with flares and deliver upon it a devastating attack. ating as scouts with tactical units, they provided
The gunships maintained nightly airborne vigils early warning of the enemy’s approach or pres-
and were frequently instrumental in disrupting ence. They could detect the enemy’s entry into a
enemy night attacks against our defensive perim- prepared ambush site and were particularly useful
eters, ARVN outposts, and Special Forces camps. in spotting booby traps, locating enemy tunnels
To counter the enemy’s favored tactics of am- and bunkers, and locating caches of weapons, sup-
bush and surprise attacks on small isolated units, plies, and food.
we developed a system of providing every regular Combat Tracker Teams were also formed. These
unit, convoy, and installation with instantly respon- were five-man teams using dogs chosen for en-
sive fire support and an immediate reaction force. durance, color, stability and good nature rather
This not only required sophisticated communica- than ferocity, as in the case of the canine sentries.
tion and fire support procedures, but entailed de- The dog’s sense of smell and the soldier’s spe-
velopment of highly coordinated counter-ambush cialized scouting skills formed a powerful com-
techniques and tactics. bination capable of tracking the enemy for miles
In our “Road Runner” operations we would con- and often leading to larger base camps, caches,
duct sudden dashes through possible ambush sites, or ambushes. In the Mekong Delta the tracker
reconnoitering by fire to pre-empt enemy initia- dogs were used to detect night movement of sam-
tion of contact. This and other counter-ambush pans on the rivers and canals. (By mid-1968 some
tactics soon began to pay off. Attempted ambushes 1,500 dogs would be used throughout Vietnam.
dropped perceptibly as enemy casualties in these Thirty-six were killed in action and 153 wounded.)
operations mounted. In some cases we ourselves In September 1966 I instructed the 5th Special
succeeded in luring the enemy into ambushes. By Forces Group at Nha Trang to organize a Recondo
pooling helicopters and reinforcing between bri- (reconnaissance-commando) School to train se-
gades or divisions, we were able to take advantage lected U.S. and Free World troops in the spe-
of firm enemy contacts by rapid reinforcement cialized techniques and skills of long-range patrol-
against their forces, blocking their routes of with- ling. Instructors from the Australian Special Air
drawal, and if possible, surrounding them. We Service Regiment provided invaluable assistance.
called this quick reinforcement technique “pile-on The school was soon graduating some 35 men
tact&.” every two weeks, and we later helped the South
In “cordon and search” and “County Fair” op- Vietnamese to establish a similar school.
erations, developed first by the Marines and then With graduates of the MACV Recondo School
adopted by all ground commands, our troops providing a nucleus, all major units organized
would encircle an area and provide welfare serv- Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols consisting of
ices for the civilians while South Vietnamese of% from four to eight men. These patrols penetrated
cials made a detailed search within the cordoned deep into contested areas and obtained valuable
area for Viet Cong personnel, arms, and ammu- information about the enemy’s location and move-
nition. We sought to interfere with the enemy’s ment, often calling down air and artillery on
night movements by setting ambushes on his sup- enemy troop concentrations and concealed bases.
ply and movement routes under what was called The Australian troops were especially effective in
the “Bushmaster” program. this type operation.
Trained scout and sentry dogs, highly intelli- During 1966 airmobile operations came of age.
gent and loyal, served us well in a variety of as- All maneuver battalions became skilled in the use
signments. As sentinels, they strengthened the of the helicopter for tactical transportation to

121
320-525 O--es-S
achieve surprise and outmaneuver the enemy. We units cleared and retained control of vital high-
also perfected a technique of shifting our light and ways and considerably eased the strain on our
medium artillery pieces by helicopter to provide airlift.
continuous fire support to units involved in rapidly We had to develop individual and unit skills in
shifting engagements. the techniques of detecting, penetrating, and de-
Until this time there was considerable skepticism stroying the enemy’s well-concealed bunker and
about the ability of the helicopter to survive in a tunnel complexes. The riot control chemical “CS”
combat environment. The craft actually proved to was extensively used to bring the enemy to the sur-
be a rugged vehicle and the inordinate losses some face without jeopardizing unduly our men or the
had predicted failed to materialize. We lost only safety of numerous civilians whom the Viet Cong
one helicopter shot down every 3,600 flying hours. habitually held in the tunnels as workers, hostages,
Most of these were repairable. In fact, helicopter or as shields against our troops. We employed
losses (nonrepairable) to enemy fire occurred, on specially trained teams of men of small physical
the average, only every 9,250 flying hours. stature (who proudly referred to themselves as
One technique used on airmobile operations in “tunnel rats”) to search the tunnel complexes
the jungle was to lower men with jungle clearing for prisoners, equipment, and documents. Once
equipment from helicopters equipped with rope searched, the fortifications had to be destroyed.
ladders. Once these men had cleared a landing The sheer magnitude of the complexes created
zone, helicopters landed additional men and equip- major logistics problems in providing sufficient
ment for support of the particular operation. In amounts of explosives and thus taxed our ingenu-
order to speed up this laborious, time-consuming ity, but several systems of demolishing or flooding
process, we submitted a requirement for a special the tunnels were developed.
type of bomb that could penetrate the heavy jungle To prevent the enemy from reoccupying and re-
canopy and blast a clear area sufficiently large for building his base areas it was then necessary vir-
a helicopter landing zone. Steady progress was tually to level vast stretches of the jungle. To meet
subsequently made in satisfying the requirement. this problem I ordered 56 “Rome Plows,” specially
We found the armored personnel carrier a valu- equipped bulldozers capable of heavy duty land
able tool for penetrating the enemy’s jungle posi- clearing. In September specially trained army en-
tions, both because of its mobility and because it gineer units operating the “Rome Plows” com-
could counter many of the innumerable mines, menced a massive jungle clearing project that I
snares, and booby traps that the enemy used. In named Operation PAUL BUNYAN. We also used
more open areas,we “married” tanks, armored per- the device to clear fields of fire around our base
sonnel carriers, and helicopters in an effective camps and a 200-yard strip along either side of
team to fix and destroy the enemy. The “Road main supply routes to eliminate potential ambush
Runner” operations conducted by mobile armored sites.

122
CHRONOLOGY OF MAJOR EVENTS-1966
January the enemy had well-developed sanctuaries inside
On 15 January the South Vietnamese Premier, Cambodia.
Air Vice Marshal Ky, pledged to hold, in October, On 19 January the 1st Brigade, 1Olst Airborne
a popular referendum on a new constitution as the Division, the Korean 2d Marine Brigade, and the
first step toward “genuine democratic elections in ARVN 47th Regiment began Operation VAN
1967” leading to a civilian government. BUREN. This operation was to locate and destroy
A temporary cease-fire from 20 through 23 Jan- the NVA 95th Regiment, believed to be in the Tuy
uary marked the Tet holiday period. Although Hoa valley, and to protect the rice harvest in the
many minor clashes occurred, the enemy in gen- coastal region. The successof this major combined
eral honored the truce. When the North Viet- operation can be measured in the 679 enemy killed,
namese gave no indication that the suspension of 49 captured, and 177 who defected; 4,700 inhab-
air attacks against North Vietnam, begun the pre- itants were relocated to safe areas and over 30,000
ceding month and still in effect, might lead to tons of rice were harvested.
meaningful negotiations, the United States re- Having begun to arrive in Vietnam during the
sumed its bombing of military targets on 31 Jan- last days of 1965, the 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry
uary, ending the 37-day suspension. Division, assembled in the vicinity of the town of
During the month allied forces began a series Pleiku. Key to the High Plateau, Pleiku was also
of spoiling attacks, radiating from the capital city the headquarters of the South Vietnamese II Corps.
of Saigon, to clear main roads, forestall enemy February
operations, and improve security. Saigon is not On 6 February President Johnson and other
only the heart of the nation in political terms but senior American officials arrived in Hawaii to con-
about 40 percent of the population of South Viet- fer with Premier Ky and other representatives of
nam and almost all of its industry lie within a the South Vietnamese government. When the con-
radius of 50 kilometers of the city. The proximity ference adjourned on the 8th, Vice President Hu-
to the capital of long-developed major enemy base bert H. Humphrey accompanied Premier Ky to
areas (the “Iron Triangle,” War Zones C and D, Saigon for further discussions on South Vietnamese
and the Rung Sat mangrove swamp) afforded the
economic and social problems.
enemy jumping-off spots, logistic support bases,
Beginning in February, the war in the northern
training centers, rest camps, and hospitals within
provinces assumed a new and ominous aspect, as
striking distance of the most vital area in the
two North Vietnamese Army divisions-the 324B
country.
On 4 January the enemy attacked a Special and 34lst-threatened invasion across the Demili-
Forces camp at Khe San11in Quang Tri Province tarized Zone into the northernmost province of
with the heaviest weapons yet employed, 12O-mm Quang Tri. By March infiltration of the enemy
mortars. forces was well under way. At the same time, the
During the first half of January, the 1st Brigade, enemy began to infiltrate through Laos into the
1st Cavalry Division, conducted Operation MATA- next province to the south, Thua Thien, whose
DOR to find and destroy the enemy in Pleiku and capital is the ancient imperial city of Hue. The
Kontum Provinces. At one point the air cavalry- two northernmost provinces are separated from the
men saw the enemy flee across the border into rest of the country by a precipitous mountain bar-
Cambodia and into base camps inside that country, rier extending to the sea and traversed only by the
confirming what we had already deduced-that narrow Hai Van pass. At the time, only the Viet-

123
namese 1st Division and a single U.S. Marine bat- possible weather, the Civilian Irregular Defense
talion were deployed in the two provinces. Group forces and small detachments of U.S. and
In response to this imminent threat, we progres- Vietnamese Special Forces found it necessary to
sively shifted the bulk of the U.S. 3d Marine Divi- abandon the camp. Men of the Special Forces
sion north of the Hai Van pass and also introduced Marine, Air Force, and Army helicopter units
the first U.S. Army combat units into the northern performed innumerable acts of bravery in sup-
provinces: a battalion each of paratroopers of the porting and extracting these troops.
173d Airborne Brigade, 175-mm artillery, 105mm After the abandonment of this camp, the North
self-propelled artillery, and 40-mm antiaircraft Vietnamese moved into the A Shau valley and be-
guns with a battery of mobile .50-caliber quadruple gan to develop a major logistical base and to con-
machine guns attached. The 175-mm guns could struct roads into Laos to tie in with the extensive
provide long range fire support all the way from network of motorable routes leading from North
their positions near the coast to Khe Sanh near the Vietnam. Short of troops and helicopters and
Laotian border. They could also fire into and across threatened by a major force along the Demili-
the Demilitarized Zone, which the enemy had tarized Zone, I reluctantly decided against rein-
turned into an invasion corridor. forcing or reoccupying the remote camp. Two
Based on intelligence reports of enemy activity years would pass before we would be in a posi-
in the vicinity of Ban Me Thuot in Darlac Prov- tion to return to this valley.
ince, the headquarters and two battalions of the Early in March a political crisis arose in the I
3d Brigade, 25th Division, moved in late February Corps when a militant Buddhist and student fac-
to that provincial capital in a portion of the High- tion in Hue and Da Nang challenged the authority
lands that had yet seen few American troops. In a of the central government. After the South Viet-
series of offensive moves known as Operation namese government removed the I Corps com-
GARFIELD and extending well into March, the mander, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chanh Thi, mass pro-
battalions in their first combat experience ferreted tests occurred, creating political turbulence which
out a number of enemy concentrations in the vicin- was destined to spread and to continue until mid-
ity of the town. On one occasion helicopters air- summer. Later in the month, and again in early
lifted a battalion to the vicinity of an enemy base April, anti-government protests erupted in Saigoa.
and faked extraction the next day. That night the Premier Ky flew to Da Nang in an effort to quell
battalion moved unopposed on the Viet Cong base the rebellion there. From 12 to 14 April, a National
and killed 30 of the enemy. Political Congress met in Saigon to adopt a pro-
March gram designed to meet Buddhist demands. Al-
During March the Republic of Korea an- though the demonstrations ended on 14 April, not
nounced plans to increase its commitment in Viet- until 15 May would Vietnamese government troops
nam by another division and an additional regi- regain control of Da Nang. Throughout the spring
ment. Australia revealed plans to triple its force and summer, disorders flared in Saigon. Seizure
in Vietnam from 1,500 men to 4,500. By 2 March by South Vietnamese troops, in late June, of the
U.S. forces in South Vietnam reached a strength principal Buddhist center in Saigon marked the
of 215,000 men, with 20,000 more en route. virtual end of this episode of political unrest. The
During March we sustained the only significant power of the militant Buddhists was broken and
setback of the year when the North Vietnamese the government of Vietnam emerged with in-
95B and 101C R egiments attacked a Special Forces creased confidence.
Camp in the high and remote A Shau Valley. After In late March the two battalions of the 3d
three days of valiant and heavy fighting in the worst Brigade, 25th Division, that had been operating in

124
the vicinity of Ban Me Thuot, marched north along South Vietnam. Judging from loading ramps ob-
Route 14, repairing road and bridges as they moved served on the Cambodian side of the river that
in the first use of that highway in many months. marks the border, and unloading ramps on the
Midway between Ban Me Thuot and Pleiku, the Vietnamese side, the supplies quite obviously had
battalion occupied a Special Forces camp at Buon come from Cambodia. Since Viet Cong main force
Brieng that had been abandoned a year and a half units withdrew ahead of the 1st Division troops, all
earlier. Meanwhile, the brigade’s cavalry troop and engagements were with security troops assigned
tank company drove south down Route 14 from to guard the enemy supplies.
Pleiku. Upon link-up, infantry, cavalry, and tanks In Operation AUSTIN VI, which began on 25
retraced Route 14 northward to its juncture with April and ended on 18 May, the 1st Brigade, 1Olst
Route 19 and followed that road westward almost Airborne Division, killed 101 enemy and com-
to the Cambodian frontier at Due Co. In one of pletely routed the NVA 3d Battalion, 141st Regi-
the first major U.S. road-clearing operations, the ment, forcing that unit to retreat to its Cambodian
brigade made little contact with the enemy. sanctuary. In and around Bu Gia Map airstrip, the
The continuing campaign to clear the enemy brigade successfully employed its famous “checker-
from the provinces surrounding Saigon met with board” tactics.
heavy resistance in Hau Nghia Province, west of MQY
the capital. Because the enemy there posed a major Through the spring and early summer, the U.S.
threat to Saigon, and since the province contained Marines in the I Corps zone concentrated their
major enemy supply routes linking the Mekong operations along the coastal plain of Quang Nam,
Delta with War Zones C and D and infiltration Quang Tin, and Quang Ngai Provinces. In con-
routes from Cambodia, I decided to deploy the junction with South Vietnamese forces, the Ma-
incoming U.S. 25th Infantry Division directly to rines radiated out from secure base areas to bring
Hau Nghia Province. The division established its large portions of the coastal region back under
base camp along Highway 1 at Cu Chi and began government control.
operations extending throughout the province. In the course of these operations, the III Marine
In March and early April the 1st Infantry Divi- Amphibious Force developed an imaginative and
sion and the First Australian Task Force launched effective program to reinforce Vietnamese terri-
Operation ABILENE, a spoiling operation to de- torial security forces. Once a hamlet had been
stroy base camps and caches established by the
cleared of major enemy units, a Marine squad
Viet Cong 5th Division east of Saigon in prepara-
would join the Popular Force platoon defending
tion for an enemy move against the capital. Al-
the hamlet. Thereafter, the Marines stayed per-
though no major engagements ensued, the allied
manently with the territorial unit as part of what
troops seized quantities of rice and other supplies
was called a Combined Action Platoon. The Viet-
and forced the Viet Cong division to abandon the
area temporarily. namese troops were afforded training, improved
communications, and access to U.S. fire support,
April
when needed. The Marines who lived and fought
On 24 April the 1st Infantry Division entered
with their Popular Forces counterparts have con-
War Zone C near the Cambodian border in Tay
tributed greatly to the allied effort and deserve
Ninh Province-the first major allied foray into
the greatest credit and admiration.
that enemy stronghold since 1962. Known as Op-
eration BIRMINGHAM, the move uncovered I une
vast quantities of rice, clothing, medicine, and On 2 June the 1st Brigade, 1Olst Airborne Divi-
miscellaneous supplies just inside the frontier of sion, and ARVN units launched Operation HAW-

125
THORNE, a classic spoiling attack that would Province and to attack and destroy major ele-
carry these forces to Tou Morong, Tan Canh, and ments of the Viet Cong 9th Division that were
eventually to Dak To. In 19 days of vicious com- massing for an attempt to seize and hold the
bat, the enemy lost 531 killed and the NVA 24th province capital of An Lot and several district capi-
Regiment was rendered ineffective as a fighting tals, including Lot Ninh. Known as EL PASO
unit. II, the operation involved five major engagements
On 6 June South Vietnam’s ruling National against all three regiments of the Viet Cong divi-
Leadership Committee, composed of ten general sion. In the operation’s latter stages, American
officers, expanded its membership to include ten and South Vietnamese troops developed highly
prominent civilians. A fortnight later Premier Ky effective counter-ambush tactics based on the fire-
signed a decree setting 11 September as the date power capability of armored cavalry units and
for election of a constituent assembly to draft a rapid reaction of helicopter-borne infantrymen.
new constitution. Leaving behind over 850 dead, the Viet Cong divi-
The date of 17 June marked the end of the first sion withdrew into sanctuaries along the Cam-
year of B-52 bomber strikes in South Vietnam, bodian border deep in War Zone C.
during which the B-52’s had flown 3,715 sorties. WY
We employed the B-52’s increasingly en masse In July with political stability returning, the
against large enemy forces and bases that were Vietnamese government turned its attention back
located through an ever-improving combined in- to the problems of pacification. To provide the
telligence effort. On 6 July the B-52’s were to op- vitality, the emphasis, and the central direction that
erate for the first time with a “combat sky spot” had been lacking in earlier efforts, in February
bombing system, whereby ground radar control Premier Ky gave the Minister of Rural Construc-
directed the big bombers over the target and also tion directional authority over the newly formed
indicated the moment of bomb release. The system Revolutionary Development cadre teams built
reduced planning time and added a flexibility that around the concept and personnel of the earlier
made it possible to divert the bombers to targets People’s Action Teams. The People’s Action Teams
of opportunity. Also on 6 July we began to em- had been trained in military, political, economic,
ploy the Strategic Air Command’s “Quick Run” and social processes and had begun to carry out
reaction force, which consisted of six B-52’s on the rudimentary aspects of these processes at the
continuous alert on Guam. Within a few hours of hamlet level in 1965. To provide security to the
a field commander’s request, we could use this hamlet, all members of the new Revolutionary De-
force against enemy forces in direct contact with velopment teams were trained and armed. Team
our ground troops. The B-52’s were so valuable members established a hamlet government, con-
that I personally dealt with requests from ducted a census, and listened to grievances. An-
field commanders, reviewed the targets, and nor- other vital function was the identification and elim-
ination of the members of the local VC political
mally allocated the available bomber resources
and military organization. In 1967 and 1968 this
on a daily basis. I also continued to urge that action
program expanded enormously.
be taken to substantially increase B-52 sorties.
Attention also was given to expanding the chain
In June and July the U.S. 1st Infantry Division
of border surveillance camps in the critical tri-
and the Vietnamese 5th Division mounted a series border area of the Central Highlands. A new
of operations along the eastern flank of War Zone CIDG camp was established at Dak Seang to re-
C. Their objectives were to open Route 13 from place the Dak Sut installation which had been
Saigon to major rubber plantations in Binh Long overrun and destroyed by the enemy in August

126
1965, while a second camp was slated for construc- On 11 September 81 percent of eligible South
tion at New Plei Djereng to control the southern Vietnamese voters elected a I I7-member constitu-
exit of the Plei Trap valley-a major route of ent assembly to draft a new constitution and pre-
enemy infiltration. During July U.S. and Viet- pare for restoration of civilian government during
namese Marines and the Vietnamese airborne divi- the next year. That a nationwide election could be
sion conducted Operation HASTINGS against the held in a country torn by a war was a tribute to
North Vietnamese 324B Division in Quang Tri the organizational ability of Premier Ky’s admin-
Province. In intense fighting immediately south of istration and an even greater tribute to the willing-
the Demilitarized Zone, constituting the second ness of the individual voter to participate in the
largest engagement of the year, the enemy lost 882 elective process in the face of personal danger.
killed, By late July the North Vietnamese division At this stage, the war in the sprawling Mekong
was withdrawing northward into the sanctuary of Delta, where neither North Vietnamese nor U.S.
the Demilitarized Zone. ground troops were yet engaged, was in something
During the month the Department of Defense of a stalemate. However, I was increasingly con-
announced that U.S. forces in Southeast Asia had cerned about enemy activity in Long An Province,
increased above 350,000 men and that additional immediately south of Saigon. The province had
troops would be provided as needed. Free World long provided routes for Viet Cong accessto Sai-
Forces were also to increase as the Republic of the gon. It was one of three or four provinces in the
Philippines authorized dispatch to Vietnam of a country over which the Viet Cong had exercised
2,000-man civic action group (engineers). A Fili- a high level of control for many years. Despite
pino medical team arrived on 23 July, and the next some apprehension in the U.S. Mission and in
day the Royal Thai Air Force deployed a training Washington that the population would resent
team to Vietnam. American presence in the Delta and that American
troops would upset the economy of that rice-rich
August
land, I decided to introduce limited U.S. forces into
With arrival of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade
Long An Province. Earlier concern proved un-
on 14 August, total U.S. strength in Vietnam rose
founded when, in early September, a battalion of
to approximately 300,000.
the U.S. 25th Infantry Division moved into the
On 18 August the 1st Australian Task Force
province. Well received by the people, the U.S.
annihilated a Viet Cong battalion in Operation
troops demonstrated that American units could
SMITHFIELD in Phuoc Tuy Province for the
operate effectively in that region of canals, swamps,
largest Australian victory up to that time.
and inundated rice paddies.
September The U.S. Navy component command also en-
Last contingents of the U.S. 1lth Armored Cav- tered the Delta waterways in Operation GAME
alry Regiment arrived at Vung Tau on 7 Septem- WARDEN designated to thwart Viet Cong use of
ber. The Republic of Korea’s 9th Infantry (White the waterways as supply and infiltration routes and
Horse) Division arrived to assume responsibility to reduce Viet Cong tax collection in the same area.
for an area of operations in Khanh Hoa, Ninh The GAME WARDEN forces employed fiberglas
Thuan, and Phu Yen Provinces in the II Corps. boats-propelled by water jets and armed with
Highly professional, tough, and aggressive, the .50-caliber machine guns-which could move with
such speed and had such a shallow draft that they
Korean troops provided security for the logistic
could easily outrun and outmaneuver enemy junks
and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay, Phan Rang, and
and sampans. By the end of the year, GAME
TUY Hoa, while at the same time conducting WARDEN forces supported by armed Army heli-
some of the most imaginative and effective pacifi- copters (later replaced by Navy helicopters) were
cation operations of the entire war. teaming with river assault groups of the Viet-
I27
namese Navy in the slow process of reasserting gov- Rung Sat. Through a vast, partly-inundated man-
ernment control over the principal lines of com- grove swamp wind thousands of serpentine water-
munication in the Delta, heretofore used by the ways subject to six-foot tidal variations. These
Viet Cong with impunity. waterways include tributaries of the Saigon River,
To take advantage of floods on the Mekong and which provide the -main ship channels to Saigon.
BassacRivers, the South Vietnamese Army, Special The region afforded an improbable, but effective
Forces, and Regional and Popular Forces began base for Viet Cong sapper and light infantry units,
a series of attacks in the Plain of Reeds in the north- which made periodic attacks on shipping proceed-
western part of the IV Corps. At that time of the ing to and from the Saigon port. U.S. Marines,
year, the water reached depths as great as 15 to 20 contingents of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division,
feet and the Viet Cong were forced to move in GAME WARDEN patrols, and U.S. Navy SEAL
sampans and to live on the few islands of dry (Sea, Air, Land) Teams began a series of opera-
ground. This made them highly vulnerable to tions to eliminate this harassment. So effective
attack. Using helicopters, Navy patrol boats, air- were the SEAL Teams that their numbers were
cushion vehicles, sampans, and tactical aircraft, the expanded and their operations extended into the
South Vietnamese killed and captured over 600 of Mekong Delta. Vietnamese Navy SEAL Teams
the enemy. were trained and combined with U.S. teams.
By the fall of 1966, Operation MARKET TIME, October
designed to seal the coast of South Vietnam against On 24 October Chairman Thieu and Premier
infiltration of enemy troops and supplies, had be- Ky joined President Johnson and other officials for
come highly effective. The MARKET TIME the “Manila Conference,” and on the 26th the
barrier consisted of two belts formed by some 115 President paid a surprise visit to Cam Ranh Bay,
ships and support craft. High speed aluminum- where he toured a hospital, met commanders and
hulled “Swift” boats and 82-foot Coast Guard cut- troops, and decorated a number of officers and
ters patrolled an inner belt. Further offshore, but men.
within the 12-mile zone contiguous to South Viet- During the month, the 2,000-man Philippine
nam, Navy destroyer escorts and minesweepers Civic Action Group, consisting of engineers and
formed a second belt. Overhead, U.S. Navy patrol medical teams supported and protected by a se-
aircraft conducted visual and photographic recon- curity force, arrived in Vietnam. Deployed to Tay
naissance. Working in conjunction with the Viet- Ninh Province, this force worked closely with
namese Navy’s coastal force, MARKET TIME local Vietnamese authorities in refugee relief, med-
units in 1966 detected an estimated 90 percent of ical service, construction, and general assistance.
all the steel-hulled trawlers operating along the This contribution by the Republic of the Philip-
South Vietnamese coast and reduced enemy mari- pines was a most welcome and valuable addition
time infiltration to a trickle. Before 1965, we esti- to the Free World Forces.
mated that the enemy had received about 70 At Manila the United States and five other na-
percent of his supplies by sea; by the end of 1966, tions assisting South Vietnam-the Republic of
our best guess was that not more than 10 percent Korea, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines, and
of his requirements arrived by that route. This New Zealand-pledged that their military forces
forced the enemy to greater reliance on the long, in Vietnam “shall be withdrawn, after close con-
torturous route through southeastern Laos. sultation, as the other side withdraws its forces to
Adjacent to the Delta, south and east of Saigon, the north, ceasesinfiltration, and the level of vio-
lies one of the most unusual pieces of terrain in lence thus subsides.” They would be withdrawn,
the world-a 50-square-mile region known as the the pledge continued, “as soon as possible and not

128
later than six months after the above conditions and supplies. So badly whipped was the Viet Cong
have been fulfilled.” 9th Division that it would not reappear in combat
On 5 and 12 October the 1st and 3d Brigades of until the spring of 1967.
the 4th Infantry Division arrived in Vietnam, com- November
pleting deployment of the division. The Vietnamese Minister of Defense announced
In late October the Viet Cong 9th Division de- that in 1967, in accordance with the Combined
ployed its three regiments, together with the North Campaign Plan, much of the South Vietnamese
Vietnamese 1Olst Regiment, into central Tay Ninh Army was to be employed in support of the paci-
Province with the objective of attacking the Spe- fication program. Some 50 to 60 Vietnamese bat-
cial Forces camp at Sui Da. The enemy’s plan talions were to provide security for the pacification
was to lure allied forces into the area in response to effort in selected priority areas. Since South Viet-
an attack on the camp by one regiment, and then namese troops faced no linguistic or cultural
to destroy the relieving forces through ambushes disadvantages, they were well suited for local se-
and counterattacks with the other three regiments. curity and for ferreting out the Viet Cong political
l The 196th Light Infantry Brigade discovered the organization. American, Korean, and Australian
enemy’s presence south of Sui Da while searching forces, along with Vietnamese airborne, Marine,
for rice and other enemy supplies. When four com- and Ranger battalions were to carry the war to
panies of the U.S. 5th Special Forces Group’s Mo- the ever-growing enemy main forces.
bile Strike Force were inserted into landing zones On 25 November the Viet Cong announced a
north and east of Sui Da, they immediately became 48-hour truce to be observed both at Christmas
heavily engaged. So great was the enemy strength and the New Year. Five days later the South Viet-
that one company was overrun and the others had namese government announced similar truces and
either to withdraw in small groups or to be ex- added a four-day period over the Lunar New Year.
tracted by helicopters. On 28 November the advance party of the 199th
Conscious that a very large enemy force was Light Infantry Brigade arrived at Bien Hoa
involved, we met the threat by committing the Airbase.
1st Infantry Division, contingents of the 4th and
25th Infantry Divisions, and the 173d Airborne December
Brigade. The battle that ensued-known as Op- The Australian Prime Minister announced that
eration ATTLEBORO-rapidly developed into Australian strength in South Vietnam would be
the largest fought to that time, with over 22,000 increased from 4,500 to 6,300.
U.S. and allied troops participating. In a series On 19 December advance contingents of the
of engagements extending into early November, U.S. 9th Infantry Division arrived at Vung Tau.
allied forces killed well over 1,100 enemy and cap- As of 31 December U.S. military forces in South
tured huge quantities of weapons, ammunition, Vietnam totalled 385,000 men.

129
II

OPERATION HASTINGS

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I. A- /“.& ‘( ...sr
NANG

1 MAJOR
AND
SIGNIFICANT
LOCALITIES OPERATION MASHER)

1966 WHITE
THANG
WING/
PHONGII

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a
ATION VAN BUREN
/‘\
DUC CO

j I
CAMBODIA

BU GIA MAP

WAR ZONE C, LOC NINH


II CTZ

lRATlON SIRMING

IRON TRIANGLE

- WRATION SMITHVILLE
RUNG SAT SPECIAL ZONE

LEGENLI
-MAJOR BATTLES
‘.‘,‘,. - AREAS OF PROLONGED
. AA,r
CONFRONTATION
BASE AREA/WAR ZONES
Chapter V

THE YEAR OF THE OFFENSIVE-1967

OVERVIEW
The momentum gained by the end of 1966 car- improved mobility, we carried the battle to the
ried over into 1967. Additional troops and other enemy on a sustained basis throughout the year.
available resources enabled the scope and pace of Concurrently, we planned to intensify and expand
our offensive operations to increase steadily the pacification effort. The Joint Vietnamese-US.
throughout the year. During this period, U.S. Combined Campaign Plan for 1967 assigned to the
strength increased from 385,000 to 486,000. The Vietnamese Armed Forces the primary role in
number of maneuver battalions available to allied pacification and specified the priority areas for
forces rose from 256 to 278. By year’s end 28 tacti- their employment. The same plan provided that
cal fighter squadrons were on hand to provide close U.S. combat forces would carry the bulk of the
air support and assist in the interdiction campaign. offensive effort against Viet Cong and North
Over 3,000 helicopters of all types were organized Vietnamese Army main force units.
into 107 units (Army companies and Marine As I said in a speech on 24 April to the Asso-
squadrons), up from 68 units the previous year. ciated Press Managing Editors, we had to carry
The number of B-52 sorties increased sharply frolm forward several tasks simultaneously:
725 to 1,200.
At one and the same time, vvc must fight the
The Mekong Delta Mobile Riverine Force encmy, protect the people, and help them build
was established at Dong Tam as a joint Army- a nation in the pattern of their choice.
Navy force. The 2d Brigade, 9th Infantry The real objective of the war is the people. If
Division, was combined with two Navy River As- the enemy could take Saigon, or the heavily popu-
sault Squadrons of 50 boats each. Two barrack lntctl areas of the Delta, or both. the war vvould
be over-without negotiation or conference. He
ships housed the brigade between ground opera-
lost this chance two years ago, and I can promise
tions. The Navy’s River Patrol Forces reached a you that his military tactics alone will not win
high level of effectiveness with 125 ships, boats, him another opportunity. Yet, despite his stag-
and supporting craft. Equally important, the lo- gering combat losses, he clings to the belief that
gistic system was filled out so that for the first time, he will defeat us. And through a clever combina-
U.S. and allied forces were operating from a fully tion of psychological and political warfare-both
here and abroad-hc has gained support which
adequate and flexible support system. gives him hope that he can win politically that
With these larger forces, added firepower, and which he cannot accomplish militarily.

131
Four days later I expanded on this point in my only a modest mobility capability. Troops were
address before a joint session of the Congress: accustomed to a decentralized system of sus-
This is the enemy-this has been the chal- tenance which depended on local markets. How-
lenge. The only strategy which can defeat such ever, most important of all, the soldiers understood
an organization is one of unrelenting but dis- the language, customs, problems, and aspirations
criminating military, political, and psychological of the Vietnamese people-for they were part of
pressure on his whole structure-at all levels.
this people. They were much better suited to meas-
It was precisely to the establishment of such unre- ures requiring some degree of population control
lenting military pressure at all levels that the than U.S. soldiers would have been. On the other
Combined Campaign Plan for 1967 was directed. hand, numerous U.S. battalions were in constant
The U.S. concentration on the enemy’s main contact with local Vietnamese officials.
forces did not imply an emphasis at the expense Widespread recognition of the fact that the paci-m
of the pacification effort. Its purpose was comple- fication effort and the main force war were essen-
mentary-to drive the enemy main forces away tially inseparable-opposite sides of the same
from the priority pacification area. Moreover, coin-was one of the reasons why responsibility for
numerous U.S. units would assist and reinforce the entire U.S. pacification support effort was
Vietnamese units in pacification just as Vietnamese placed under MACV control in May of 1967. I
Marines, airborne units, Ranger battalions, and had objected strongly to the “two war” thesis then
other selected Army units would help to prosecute popular in some circles. To direct these civil pro-
the offensive against the main forces. In fact, we grams we formed within the command the office
anticipated that over half of the U.S. combat of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Opera-
forces would continue to be employed in close tions and Revolutionary Development Support
proximity to the heavily populated areas of the (CORDS) and Ambassador Robert W. Komer
country, targeted against the guerrillas and local arrived to serve as my deputy in the entire pacifi-
forces-and over half were so employed through- cation area.
out 1967. With the U.S. side of the pacification effort given
The reasoning behind the partial differentiation unified direction and the relative roles of U.S.
of functions embodied in our Combined Campaign and Vietnamese forces agreed to, we had to deter-
Plan for 1967made good sensethen as it does today. mine where to concentrate and where to conserve
The highly-mobile U.S. forces could concentrate in our campaign against the enemy’s main forces.
and disperse more quickly than could most of the We decided to intensify our efforts in the III Corps
other allied forces in South Vietnam. In addition zone, to begin our expansion into the IV Corps
to their larger airmobile capability, their extensive area, to continue our expansion in the populous
communications and flexible logistic support sys- southern region of the I Corps while continuing
tems were well suited to the task. Above all, their to guard the DMZ with minimum forces, and to
tremendous firepower made it vastly more desir- conserve forces in the II Corps area.
able that they fight in remote, unpopulated areas At the beginning of the year the enemy still
if the enemy would give battle there. This would enjoyed relative security in the huge War Zones
enable the full U.S. firepower potential to be em- in the III Corps, and our use of roads was generally
ployed without the danger of civilian casualties. restricted to Saigon and the immediate vicinity.
It would also minimize the impact of U.S. forces Even our vital water links on the Long Tau and
and operations on the Vietnamese civilian Dong Ngai shipping channels connecting the
economy. Saigon area with the sea were never totally secure.
Many Vietnamese units, on the other hand, had With the exception of Operation ATTLEBORO in

132
late 1966, we had not yet entered these enemy areas of the necessity to protect the pacification effort,
on large-scale offensive operations, so that many whose success or failure would, in the long run,
of them were still largely untouched. determine the fate of South Vietnam.
In the northern part of the I Corps, our objec- To explain the interrelationship between these
tives for 1967 were to meet and defeat North Viet- two important missions to our troops and to our
nam’s invasion through the DMZ and Laos, to Vietnamese allies, I drew on a simple analogy. A
interdict the enemy’s infiltration routes in South boxer faces problems of both defense and attack.
Vietnam, and to neutralize his base areas near the As he jabs and probes with one hand, he keeps
coastal plain, which provided his guerrilla forces his defense up with the other. Only when he sees
much of their support. Equally important in the a clear opportunity does he attack with both fists.
southern portion of the corps zone was the protec- When he does use both offensively, he accepts a
tion of our base areas and the lines of communica- calculated risk by leaving himself momentarily
tion that enabled the government to extend its uncovered. Conversely, if he uses both hands de-
control. Having largely denied to the enemy the fensively for too long-covered up, as a boxer
rice-producing coastal regions of the II Corps and would say-he surrenders all initiative to his op-
much of the Quang Nam Province of the I Corps ponent. He cannot win by defensive measures
in 1966,we intended to link those areas and expand alone.
our control into Quang Ngai and Quang Tin Our problem was similar to that facing the
Provinces. boxer. So, too, was the dilemma posed to the
In the Central Highlands we intended to screen leaders in Hanoi. Before describing their problem
the Cambodian border with light forces and send and eventual decision, I would like to give an ex-
reinforcements to the area only when North Viet- ample from 1967 to illustrate how we used the
namese regiments undertook to cross the border troops available to us to increase our offensive
and mount offensive operations. This saved us against the enemy’s main forces while we contin-
troops for more important tasks. ued defensive measures to enhance local security.
In the IV Corps, major allied objectives during In the III Corps area we started the year with a
1967 were to increase government pressure on the large clearing operation, CEDAR FALLS, in the
enemy, enhance security for Revolutionary Devel- “Iron Triangle” area just north of Saigon. This
opment teams, and upgrade the security of major area had for many years been under development
roads, particularly Route 4-the lifeline of the as a Viet Cong logistic center and as the headquar-
Delta. The biggest change in the tactical picture ters for Military Region IV, which controlled
was the introduction of the U.S. Mobile Riverine enemy activity in and around Saigon. We captured
Force (a Navy task force and troops of the 9th huge caches of rice and other foodstuffs, destroyed
Infantry Division), the first major U.S. combat a mammoth and deep system of tunnels, seized
unit to operate as far south as the Mekong and many documents of significant intelligence value,
Bassac Rivers. killed 720 enemy, and captured 213. This opera-
Throughout 1967 I continued to be acutely aware tion permitted a speedup in the pacification area
of the conflicting demands on U.S. forces. I knew close to Saigon.
that it was necessary to strike out against the very In February the same U.S. forces that had been
formidable forces assembling in the border sanc- engaged in this clearing operation were com-
tuaries and remote base areas in order to prevent mitted, along with other units, against the enemy’s
them from planning and executing deliberate at- main forces in the largest allied operation of the
tacks against the populated areas and against gov- war to that time, JUNCTION CITY, in War
ernment centers. At the same time, I was aware Zone C. Over 22 U.S. and 4 ARVN battalions en-

133
gaged the enemy, killing 2,728. Additionally, we southern I Corps to reinforce in the area southwest
constructed three airfields capable of handling of Da Nang and near the DMZ where the enemy
C-130’s, erected a bridge entering the zone on its threat continued to grow in size and intensity
eastern edge, cleared innumerable helicopter land- throughout the year.
ing zones, and fortified two camps in which Spe- Based on our intelligence, I foresaw an even
cial Forces teams with CIDG garrisons remained higher level of enemy effort in the far northern
as we withdrew. Henceforth, we would be able to provinces in the future. Consequently, I set in mo-
enter this important but difficult area with relative tion a number of actions to increase our logistical
ease and with much smaller forces, as we have capability in the area. A major step was the con-
done many times since. struction of the Quang Tri Airfield because the
As Operation JUNCTION CITY ended, ele- airfield at Dong Ha farther north was in range of
ments of the U.S. 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions, enemy artillery north of the DMZ. Additionally,
the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and ARVN we increased the number of LST landing ramps
forces swung back toward Saigon and coriducted and began planning for additional port facilities.
yet another clearing operation, MANHATTAN, In the actual event these preparatory measures paid
in the Long Nguyen base area just north of the off in that we were able to deploy very large forces
previously cleared “Iron Triangle.” Later in the into this area just before and after the Tet offen-
year we improved the security of the “Iron Tri- sive and to supply and support them adequately.
angle” by scraping away its remaining jungle cover In order to free the Marines near the DMZ for
with the “Rome Plows.” (Explained under Ob- mobile operations, we also made plans in concert
servations-1966.) with the Vietnamese Army to increase the size of
Using this technique of expanding offensive one ARVN regiment in the DMZ area. We tailored
strikes while continuing clearing operations, we its forces so that they could man and hold the
were able during the first half of 1967 to execute strong point system, canalize enemy infiltration
our plans essentially as we had intended, not only and secure fire support bases in that area. Addi-
in the III Corps but in other areas as well. By June tionally, the Vietnamese agreed to increase their
we had initiated our offensive operations in the armored cavalry forces in northern I Corps as a
Mekong Delta area of the IV Corps and had suc- reaction force and we initiated steps to obtain the
ceeded in restricting enemy activity in the II Corps necessary equipment for this increase.
zone. Thus, while we continued to gain momentum in
In northern I Corps, our offensive operations both our clearing operations and strikes against
took a heavy toll of the enemy and met what was the enemy’s main forces, we were compelled either
very nearly a conventional invasion. However, the to build up our forces near the DMZ or to lose
North Vietnamese continued to turn their half of the northernmost provinces to increasingly large
the Demilitarized Zone into a vast armed camp. North Vietnamese forces.
In April we shifted Army forces from further The leaders in Hanoi were by this time faced
south to the populated areas of southern I Corps with a very serious problem of strategy and tactics.
and to the enemy’s base areas in the foothills. To I mentioned in my Overview for 1966 that they
accomplish this I formed Task Force OREGON as had begun an exchange of views on this problem
a provisional division. This later became the 23d during that year. In 1967 they made the momen-
(Americal) Division. Contingency plans for this tous decision to change their basic tactics in an
task force had been prepared well in advance and attempt to score a knockout blow. Generally, we
component combat and service units had been ear- had forced enemy main force units toward the
marked and alerted. This shift freed Marines in remote areas and into jungle sanctuaries. This sep-

134
rated his main forces from his local forces and Furthermore, his guerrillas wcrc taking heav)
uerrilla
, units. It disrupted the mutual support losses.
lractices which had earlier proved so rewarding to General Giap was making a virtue out of a ne-
he Communist forces. cessity. He was putting the best possible face on
The analogy to’ boxing may help to explain the a strategy which had proved so unproductive that
Hanoi leaders’ basic dilemma. By remaining “cov- he and his colleagues in Hanoi were finally com-
:red up” with his main forces in the remote areas, pelled to change it in late 1%7. I can only conclude
:he enemy could not attack the South Vietnamese that he intended to deceive us as ro his intentions
population centers. As long as the enemy attacked and, at the same time, to conceal his dilemma.
3nly small outposts and towns near the border in This was neither a successful nor a productive
an attempt to achieve psychological impact by an time for the enemy. North Vietnamese and Viet
isolated victory, we were able to reinfolrce quickly Cong fortunes deteriorated as those of the South
and to defeat him. This was conclusively demon- Vietnamese improved. The Autonomous Admin-
strated late in the year by allied victories at Dak To istrative Committees, constituting the shadow
and Lot Ninh. If, on the other hand, he decided government which he had formed in 1964 and
to attack the large population centers, he would 1965to inherit political control of the country, were
have to let his guard down-to leave his remote languishing. Allied forces began picking up for
base areas and his secure sanctuaries in Laos and the first time significant numbers of civilian spe-
Cambodia and expose his forces to destruction by cialists heading for positions in the Viet Cong
allied firepower. infrastructure-suggesting that the Communist
Frankly, those of us who had been in Vietnam political apparatus needed beefing up. The
for a long period of time found it hard to believe strength of Viet Cong forces was slowly diminish-
that the enemy would expose his forces to almost ing and the North Vietnamese were assuming an
certain decimation by engaging us frontally at ever increasing share of the war. In January North
great distances from his base areas and border sanc- Vietnamese forces represented about 43 percent of
tuaries. He would have to expose his forces to at- the enemy in organized combat units but by De-
tack the population because we had, by 1967, cember they accounted for 50 percent.
destroyed or neutralized most of his large close-in In a series of elections from ,March-when the
bases. However, in 1968 this is exactly what he Constituent Assembly approved ;I new constitu-
did-and in doing it he lost the cream of his army. tion-through September and October-when na-
General Giap, in a statement in September of tionwide free elections were held-the South
1967,forecast very heavy fighting ahead for Amer- Vietnamese government established its legitimacy,
ican and Communist forces. He also forecast vic- selected its leaders, and organizcrl its institutions
tory. But he did so in the context of a border strategy and agencies. Newly-elected local governments
which he claimed had drawn U.S. troops into the also began to operate in the villages and hamlets.
remote areas so that Communist guerrillas and These marked momentous and fnr-reaching steps
local forces could press toward victory in the heav- in the long quest of the South Vietnamese govern-
ily populated zones. This is simply not what was ment fur stability. I believe these elections to be one
really happening, since most of our forces were in of the most important clevelopmcnts of this long
the populated areas and we reinforced the border war.
areas only to the extent necessary to counter the The improving political situation was reflected
enemy’s initiatives. Many of his planned attacks in other events. The South Vietnamese economy
were pre-empted by the massive use of B-52’s. enjoyed an upswing as roads were opened and com-

135
merce began to flow. Consumer goods were pene- Vietnamese were not happy about the idea of sev
trating the countryside for the first time. Life in era1more years of U.S. bombing of their homeland
the major cities and towns was increasingly pros- Thus it was that the leaders in Hanoi decided tc
perous. Government forces were increasing in size bring their military power to bear directly on thei
and effectiveness. main objective-the people and the government oi
I I had, by this time, refined my original concept South Vietnam-regardless of cost.
of a three-phase war to one of four phases, two of After the end of the southwest monsoon in Oc.
which had already been completed. I envisioned tober, they began to move their main forces intc
1968 to be the year of the third phase, in which we the populated areas throughout the cntirc country.
would continue to help strengthen the Vietnamese We became aware of this movement in November
Armed Forces-turning over more of the war effort and December through our intelligence, and as the
to increasingly capable and better armed forces. In number of incidents rose in the populated areas,
the fourth-and decisive-phase I could see the the rate of ralliers returning to government author-
U.S. presence becoming superfluous as infiltration ity fell off sharply, while pacification progress
slowed, the Communist infrastructure was cut up, virtually stopped.
and a stable government and capable Vietnamese We now know that the enemy explained to his
Armed Forces carried their own war to a successful troops and cadres that the time had come for a
conclusion. These were the directions in which herculean offensive effort and a general uprising.
events pointed. The Communists had to do some- He probably had many things in mind-not the
thing to attempt to change this trend. least of which was the necessity to do something
Thus, the combination of the enemy’s inconclu- dramatic to reverse his fortunes. He surely hoped
sive border strategy and growing South Viet- that his dramatic change in strategy would have
namese strength forced the leaders in Hanoi to an impact on the United States similar to that
change their tactics and their overall strategy. With which the battle of Dien Bien Phu had had on the
long range trends running against them, they had government and people of France. In this way he
no prospects except to see their chances for success might hope to bring about a halt of the U.S. effort
continue to diminish. Furthermore, the North and the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

136
OBSERVATIONS--l.967
U.S. Operations operations against the enemy during the monsoon
CEDAR FALLS and JUNCTION CITY de- season, the ominous enemy developments in I
prived the enemy of enormous amounts of supblies, Corps compelled me to withdraw the brigade in
denied him unhampered use of vital communica- April. In addition to the destruction of enemy
tions centers near the urban areas, and partially forces and supplies, JUNCTION CITY “prepared
eliminated his heretofore unchallenged sanc- the battlefield” for easy reentry by allied forces.
tuaries within Vietnam. Several hundred thousand Statements by several high level defectors a year
pages of enemy documents were captured-mostly later revealed the full impact of the enemy’s loss
from the headquarters of Military Region IV which in JUNCTION CITY. They commented-and
controlled forces and operations in Saigon and the captured documents confirmed-that the opera-
immediately surrounding provinces. CEDAR tion was essentially an enemy “disaster.” According
FALLS put this headquarters out of operation for to these knowledgeable defectors, the loss of major
six months and then it was broken down into five base areas and the resulting deterioration of local
sub-regions. Even though the enemy failed to forces in III Corps forced the enemy high com-
stand and defend his base areas, he suffered tre- mand to make basic revisions in tactics. JUNC-
mendous loss-the complexes which we destroyed TION CITY convinced the enemy command that
in the “Iron Triangle” and War Zone C repre- continuing to base main force units in close prox-
sented twenty years of work and a huge capital imity to the key population areas would be increas-
investment. The sustained pressure against this ingly foolhardy. From that time on the enemy
area caused 500 of the enemy to rally under the made increasing use of Cambodian sanctuaries for
Chieu Hoi program in addition to over 200 who his bases, hospitals, training centers, and supply
were captured and 700 killed. depots.
In JUNCTION CITY we employed together for Characteristically, General Giap portrayed
the first time all our different types of combat JUNCTION CITY as a “big victory” rather than
forces, including paratroopers and large armored the serious defeat it was. The North Vietnamese
and mechanized units. Four South Vietnamese bat- continued to perpetuate the myth of crippling U.S.
talions (two Army and two Marine) participating losses and defeat. This time, if anything, the re-
in the operation concentrated on securing the pop- ports were more exaggerated than usual. According
ulated areas and supporting pacification. Military to official North Vietnamese reports, 13,500 allied
actions by U.S. troops kept the enemy so occupied soldiers were killed in JUNCTION CITY; in real-
that the Vietnamese forces experienced little in- ity U.S.-Free World forces lost 289 killed. The
terference from the enemy. enemy claimed 993 vehicles destroyed (800 of them
Although our strength was too limited to main- armored) and the destruction of 119 allied artillery
tain enough troops in War Zone C to prevent the pieces. We actually lost 21 armored personnel car-
enemy from reentering it later, the three C-130 riers, 3 tanks, 5 artillery pieces, and 9 trucks. Exag-
airfields which we constructed were designed to geration of this magnitude was commonplace.
facilitate future operations in the vicinity, while Whether self-deception or carefully contrived
the two Special Forces camps built nearby were myth, its existence played an important part in
to protect the airstrips and furnish continuing decisions the enemy was to make in 1968.
surveillance of the region. Although I had intended Early in the year enemy activity in I Corps in-
leaving the 196th Light Infantry Brigade in War tensified, reaching a critical level just as we were
Zone C as a “floating brigade” to conduct molbile consolidating our successesfrom CEDAR FALLS

137
329~5250-69---10
and JUNCTION CITY. I clearly appreciated the our operations in Vietnam. Literally hundreds of
need for a major reaction force to meet contin- comprehensive contingency plans were prepared
gencies in the north, but the situations in both II to cope with changing situations or anticipated
and III Corps would not permit deployment of a enemy movements. In many instances these plans
division from either of those areas. I had to im- were never implemented, but they were available
provise a plan. should an appropriate situation develop.
We developed a contingency plan for a task force In October and November the enemy effort
known as Task Force OREGON, comprised of a shifted to the western border regions where at
provisional headquarters, division support troops Song Be, Lot Ninh and Dak To, he hoped to
borrowed from various U.S. Army units, and three achieve important psychological victories and to
brigades taken from areas where they could be divert our attention from the urban areas and
spared at minimum risk. The brigades involved I Corps zone. The enemy realized we would face
were the 196th Light Infantry Brigade from the formidable logistical and operational problems in
III Corps area, and from the II Corps area the 1st these areas, a prospect which heightened his con-
Brigade of the 10lst Airborne Division (which fidence of success.
joined in May) and the 3d Brigade of the 25th The first of these peripheral battles began in the
Infantry Division (later to be designated the 3d early morning of 27 October near the village of
Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division). My Chief of Song Be in Phuoc Long Province when the North
Staff, Maj. Gen. William B. Rosson, was to com- Vietnamese 88th Regiment attacked the command
mand the force. post of the 3d Battalion of the South Vietnamese
Within weeks, the unabated enemy activity in 9th Regiment. The South Vietnamese repulsed
the north prompted me to implement the plan. every assault and inflicted heavy losses. Much the
Task Force OREGON was quickly formed and same happened in the second battle, which began
deployed to Quang Ngai Province and the south- two days later when elements of the Viet Cong
ern part of Quang Tin Province, where Viet Cong 273d Regiment, 9th Division, attacked the small
influence was strong. The arrival of Task Force district town of Lot Ninh and a nearby rubber
OREGON permitted the Marines in Quang Ngai plantation eight milts south of the Cambodian
to move units further north to reinforce in the border in Binh Long Province. Although U.S.
vicinity of the DMZ. The presence of this large troops were required to reinforce the position, by
force in the north also hastened the northward ex- the time the enemy broke off the battle on 8 No-
tension of the highly successful pacification sup- vember, he had sustained severe casualties. The
port operations by the 1st Cavalry Division in the excellent performance by Vietnamese forces in
coastal area of Binh Dinh Province and the open- both these engagements was an indication of a new
ing of Highway 1 to Da Nang. Task Force ORE- strength and determination that they were to dem-
GON drove the enemy main force units from the onstrate consistently over the coming months.
area and then concentrated upon eliminating local In November the pivotal battle of the last quar-
forces and guerrillas. Later in the year we replaced ter of 1967 occurred in the northwestern portion of
two brigades (3d of the 25th Division and 1st of the II Corps near the district seat of Dak To in
the 1Olst) with the 198th and 11th Light Infantry Kontum Province. Since Dak To, like Song Be
Brigades, just arriving in the country, and redesig- and Lot Ninh, is but a few miles from the Lao’tian
nated the task force as the 23d (Americal) and Cambodian borders, the enemy could take
Division. advantage of the nearby sanctuaries and short lines
The development and use of Task Force of communication to plan carefully and strike with
OREGON illustrates a common characteristic of speed and strength.

138
Dak To lies astride a natural infiltration route In all three frontier battles we had soundly de-
into Kontum and Pleiku Provinces. It was nor- Eeated the enemy without unduly sacrificing op-
mally garrisoned by CIDG companies with Spe- erations in other areas. The enemy return was nil.
cial Forces advisors and supported by a nearby In the words of a ranking Communist officer who
ARVN battalion. In late October a battalion of defected the following spring, the border battles
the 4th U.S. Division happened to be in the area had been both “useless and bloody.”
providing security for construction of a new Special
Forces camp at Ben Het, west of Dak To. When South Vietnamese Operations
reconnaissance confirmed movement of four North Throughout the country the tempo of Viet-
Vietnamese regiments into the area we deployed an namese operations increased during the year. The
additional battalion and a brigade headquarters General Reserve was more active, participating in
of the 4th Division, and alerted a battalion of the a larger number of sustained offensive operations,
173d Airborne Brigade. Before the enemy could while the Vietnamese Navy relieved U.S. units of
launch a coordinated attack, we had concentrated responsibility for several MARKET TIME sta-
a brigade of three battalions, established artillery tions. The Vietnamese Air Force flew 25 percent of
fire support bases, and fixed two of the enemy all allied sorties flown within South Vietnam dur-
regiments by assault on their forward bases. We ing the year.
beat the enemy to the punch and he never regained As they became more active, the much criticized
the initiative. Before the battle ended, we had tem- Vietnamese Armed Forces also grew more capable.
porarily reinforced to a strength of three U.S. Since improvement of these forces was a prime
brigades including nine U.S. battalions, plus six part of our mission, I placed strong emphasis on
South Vietnamese battalions. To support this array upgrading them in all respects-manpower,
of forces we massed B-52 and tactical air strikes, weapons, equipment, training, administration, and
using targets located by intelligence from long- leadership. When General Abrams became my
range patrols. deputy on 1 June, I assigned him, as I had General
Close air support and B-52 strikes were not the Heintges, the principal mission of supervising the
only ways in which airpower supported our advisory and support effort to improve the Viet-
ground operations. The Seventh Air Force had namese forces. Under his aggressive and able
worked assiduously to improve its interdiction supervision, the state of training and combat
techniques. The skill and determination with readiness of the Vietnamese units showed marked
which the interdiction campaign was pursued improvement by the end of the year.
meant that many enemy infiltrators never reached The efforts to modernize and improve the effec-
the southern battlefields, that those who did so had tiveness of the Vietnamese Armed Forces covered
been forced to expend additional energy and time a wide range of activities from advising and recom-
infiltrating into South Vietnam, and that the flow mending to the provision of military hardware. A
of necessary enemy supplies required much larger major effort was exerted to improve overall mili-
numbers of enemy support troops. tary leadership through the expansion of military
The enemy paid a terrible price with little to schools and the establishment of a more effective
show for his effort. U.S. and ARVN units manpower management system. The concept of
decisively defeated the North Vietnamese 24th, “battlefield promotions” was encouraged to insure
32d, 66th, and 174th Regiments, killing more than recognition of outstanding junior leaders. Actions
1,600 of the enemy in an engagement exceeding were taken to improve the training and use of
in numbers, enemy losses, and ferocity even the tactical and support units throughout the country.
Ia Drang Valley campaign of 1965. Training Centers were expanded and programs

139
accelerated, We also adopted a highly-successful In Binh Duong the keystone of the arch of
program of ARVN on-the-job training with U.S. provinces north of Saigon, a pacification support
units. operation (LAM SON), jointly conducted by ele-
Concurrently, our attention also was focused on ments of the U.S. 1st Division and the ARVN
the problem of expanding and improving the 5th Division, proceeded to attack enemy guerrillas
operational capabilities of the Regional and Popu- and to eliminate the political infrastructure. Simi-
lar Force units, so essential in providing the local lar operations by elements of the U.S. 25th Division
security necessary for the revolutionary develop- and the ARVN 25th Division were carried out in
ment program. With our assistance the Vietnamese Hau Nghia and Long An Provinces.
government attacked many of the problems which In Operation FAIRFAX (begun in November
had so long plagued these forces. Measures were 1966) we continued combined U.S.-ARVN terri-
taken to improve their logistic system and a com- torial security operations around Saigon through
plete revision of the command structure was all of 1967. The operation was characterized by
undertaken to increase the responsiveness of the extensive small unit patrols, night ambushes, river
government to their requirements. To provide teclc ambushes, and cordon and search actions. While
nical and tactical assistance, we decided to expand these actions helped to improve the security of the
the U.S. advisory effort by more than 3,100 U.S. Saigon area, Operation FAIRFAX also served as a
military personnel. valuable training exercise for the ARVN units
Our policy at all levels was to expand the role involved. The U.S. 199th Light Infantry Brigade
of the Vietnamese Armed Forces in the war, and and an ARVN group of three Ranger battalions
I seized every opportunity to give them increased worked together at all command levels from squad
responsibility. In November, for example, a regi- to group and brigade. In this way we hoped the
ment of the ARVN 1st Division relieved U.S. forces South Vietnamese would learn our tactics and
defending a sector of the defenses facing the De- techniques more quickly and in time be prepared
militarized Zone. For this assignment, beginning to assume an expanded and more effective
in September we supplemented the ARVN divi- operational role.
sion’s firepower, adding crew-served weapons, 106- I decided to shift responsibility for the security
mm recoilless rifles, 60- and 81-mm mortars, and of the FAIRFAX operational area from the U.S.
issuing the more modern M60 machine gun. This brigade to the Vietnamese Rangers by the end of
division was further strengthened by the issue of the year. According to a carefully developed pro-
Ml6 rifles late in the year, following the priority gram for the transfer, the 5th Ranger Group was
issue of this excellent weapon to the General augmented by a newly-organized artillery bat-
Reserve. talion and logistical support organization. Further,
The ARVN 1st Division was given priority in I equipped the Rangers with Ml6 rifles and mod-
the issue of this equipment in order to increase its ern field radios on a priority basis. The II Field
firepower so that we could minimize the number Force conducted special training for the Regional
of reinforcing units we would need in the northern and Popular Forces that would be operating in
I Corps, where the intensity of the war continued the area. In the event the 5th Ranger Group re-
to increase. The new weapons-and especially the quired assistance, uncommitted units of the
Ml6 rifle-also resulted in a noticeable increase in ARVN airborne division and Marine brigade of
the morale of the division, as they did in the the General Reserve were close at hand. Nearby
ARVN 2d Division when that unit received new U.S. combat units operating in III Corps could
equipment in January 1968. also be made available in a matter of hours.

140
I asked General Abrams to give the transition job.” That was, of course, the ultimate objective
his personal attention and he continuously rc- of our entire advisory effort-ill fact, the philoso-
viewed the process, making frequent visits to the phy underlying our national commitment.
Capital Military District to evaluate the progress The South Vietnamese conducted several major
of the turnover. By 15 December the 5th Ranger operations during the last part 01 the )-car, and in
Group and Regional and Popular Forces under the spite of Viet Cong attempts to n\.oid bnttlc, achieved
commander of the Capital Military District had a significantly increasecl number of contacts.
full responsibility for the defense of their capital. ARVN small unit action:; became more aggressive
The Vietnamese accepted the mission with pride. and fruitful. The three ARVS divisions in the
The National Police cooperated in the assignment, Delta and the Regional and Popular Forces there
but they were not under control of the military scored a number of signal victories iii late 1967.
commander, an undesirable command situation The Vietnamese _4rmed Forces also showed
primarily the product of political complications. great improvement adrninistl-,lri~~l~. m’ith our
During 1967 it became apparent that the Viet- aclvice, they moclernized their milit:lry financial
namese 9th Division in the Delta was overextended. management system, estnblishecl an Inspector Gcn-
The division was responsible for a wide area em- era1 organization, created an Adjutant General
bracing the highly-populated central and central staff, and instituted a modern i’ersonnel account-
coastal sectors of the IV Corps, plus several less ing system for the Regional Forces. They modern-
critical inland provinces along the Cambodian ized their promotion system a1lc1 improved their
border. To conserve our forces for operations in procedures for selecting officers to attend higher
the more productive and heavily populated prov- military schools. They adopted a more liberal leave
inces to the east and south, I urged the Vietnamese and pass policy and built an extensive commissary
to establish a special zone in the northern portion system. With our urging they had provided a more
of the Delta. In adopting my suggestion, they es- precise definition of desertion in August 1966.
tablished the 44th Special Zone, including Chau Throughout 1967 they pursued measures to reduce
Dot, Kien Phong, and Kien Tuong Provinces, an the troublesome desertion rate. All of these im-
area which they manned with a special force of provements began to show returns as the desertion
Civilian Irregular Defense Group companies and rate dropped 37 percent below tllat of the preceding
Regional and Popular Forces. Kien Giang Prov- year.
ince was shifted to the responsibility of the ARVN Despite the improvements, I remained convinced,
21st Division. This realignment prevented the en- as I had been for some time, that the Vietnamese
emy from taking refuge along the old Chuong
would be unable to assume full responsibility for
Thien-Kien Giang provincial boundary, which
their own defense unless they greatly expanded
prior to the change was also the boundary between
two Vietnamese divisions and a frequent haven for their armed forces and placed the entire nation on
enemy units. a war footing. That would mean general mobiliza-
During the year the Vietnamese Special Forces tion, Since mobilization would affect every aspect
assumed responsibility for several Special Forces of national life (of \vhich the military was but
camps and for the CIDG companies manning one), I had as early as 1960 recommended that the
them. In each case all of the U.S. advisors with- problem be studied at U.S. Mission level. When
drew, leaving the Vietnamese in full command. Ambassador Bunker arrived in April, a joint U.S.
The Vietnamese handled the responsibility well. civilian-military task force was established to stud)
As one of our Special Forces sergeants aptly put it, the problem and to develop basic data so that when
“We had succeeded in working our way out of a the time for mobilization came, we might better

141
assist the Vietnamese. In 1968 these efforts would port Directorate were combined to form the office
be well rewarded. of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Opera-
General Vien and I continued to make joint tions and Revolutionary Development Support
quarterly reviews of the Combined Campaign Plan (CORDS) in MACV headquarters. There were
with our commanders in the field. These meetings similar consolidations at regional and provincial
provided a valuable clearing house for lessons levels. Mr. Komer, who had a substantial back-
learned. As the year drew to a close, we published ground in pacification issues, was assigned as my
our third annual Combined Campaign Plan, which Deputy for CORDS, with the personal rank of
for the first time brought together U.S. and Viet- Ambassador.
namese civilian as well as military plans for paci- This major and portentous change in the U.S.
fication and nation building. With the assistance organization for pacification support was designed
of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff, my staff to provide better integration and coordination of
had prepared th e initial draft of the Combined effort by all U.S. agencies. Upon the creation of
Campaign Plans for 1966, 1967, and 1968. As we CORDS, MACV assumed operational responsibil-
contemplated the 1969 plan, we agreed that the ity for the entire spectrum (civilian and military)
Vietnamese planners would prepare the initial of U.S. support of the pacification program. The
draft. This was further evidence of progress and U.S. Embassy, which had heretofore administered
our confidence in the South Vietnamese. the program with some support from MACV, re-
tained responsibility for advising the Vietnamese
Allies
government on political and economic matters at
The two Korean infantry divisions-the Capital the national level. We were now organized to
and the 9th-conducted highly successful clearing pursue a “one war” strategy.
operations in the central coastal plains. One of their By late 1967 our military assistance and support
largest, more important operations was OH JAC to the Vietnamese Armed Forces had grown so
KY0 I in March and April, in which the two divi- large and complex that we needed a special agency
sions linked their areas of responsibility and se- to coordinate and supervise matters which con-
cured a considerable portion of Route 1 along the cerned nearly all portions of the MACV staff. The
coast. The Korean forces gradually assumed re- start of a major new program to expand and up-
sponsibility for most of the II Corps coastal area, grade the territorial forces (Regional and Popular
releasing U.S. units there for other tasks. Forces)-a program demanding integrated staff
The Korean troops were tangible proof of the action-emphasized this need for a focus of control
nature of U.S. intentions in Vietnam. The Viet- and coordination. In November we created a prin-
namese realized that with the support of the cipal MACV staff agency, Military Assistance,
United States, the Republic of Korea had success- headed by a general officer and charged with re-
fully defeated a Communist attack and in the post- sponsibility for unifying the assistance efforts of the
war period had established a viable economy, various staff divisions.
powerful armed forces, and a stable government.
Airpozuer
Dealing with fellow Asians, the Koreans were
more effective than we were in explaining the Our tactical air requirements throughout Viet-
aggressive character of communism and why U.S. nam steadily increased, a demand spurred by our
and Free World troops were in Vietnam. heightened ground activity, particularly in the area
near the DMZ, and by our intensified interdiction
Organization
campaign against the infiltration routes.
In May the Embassy’s O&e of Civil Operations By the end of 1967 well over two thousand U.S.
and the MACV Revolutionary Development Sup- and Free World tactical jet aircraft were stationed
142
in the Republic of Vietnam, in Thailand, or on his prepositioned supplies, and forced him to with-
U.S. Navy carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. In addi- draw at great loss-with massed firepower alone.
tion, the immense firepower of the Strategic Air At Con Thien we learned a lesson which proved
Command B-52’s was also available for tactical use. to be of inestimable value later in the year at
In meeting the most pressing of the air require- Khe Sanh.
ments, that around Con Thien and Khe Sanh in The air effort in South Vietnam was primarily
I Corps south of the Demilitarized Zone, the mas- in direct support of ground operations such as
sive use of B-52’s played a major role. CEDAR FALLS and JUNCTION CITY and in
Despite our spoiling operations, enemy activity support of the Marine bases in the north. Over
in the DMZ intensified, as demonstrated by the 100,000 sorties (not including B-52 strikes) were
intense shelling of the Marine base at Con Thien, flown during the year in support of ground oper-
a key position on commanding terrain south of the ations, with the I Corps receiving the major share.
DMZ. The North Vietnamese apparently had two In one three-day period alone U.S. Air Force,
objectives in I Corps: first, to draw our troops into Marine, and Navy aircraft flew more than 1,000
the region, thereby checking our successin other sorties over the I Corps. In CEDAR FALLS and
areas; and second, in the process of creating a JUNCTION CITY B-52 strikes were an integral
major diversion, to achieve a significant military and continuing part of the operation.
victory.
To counter this threat, in the fall we mounted Logistics
Operation NEUTRALIZE, a massive concentra-
For logistical support of northern I Corps we
tion of air, artillery, and naval gunfire in support
depended upon a hazardous coastal shipping sys-
of the Marines at Con Thien. This particular kind
tem running north from the great deep water port
of attack, which became known as a SLAM oper-
of Da Nang to several shallower off-loading points
ation-for Seeking, Locating, Annihilating, and
in the vicinity of Hue and Dong Ha. The great
Monitoring-was refined over the months by
quantities of construction material required to
General “Spike” Momyer, my deputy for Air
build fortifications south of the DMZ and
Operations and commander of the Seventh Air
plans for major operations in the A Shau Valley
Force. The SLAM concept used the entire spec-
and other enemy base areas in the north during
trum of supporting fire, from B-52 strategic bomb-
1968 further taxed these overloaded facilities and
ers (in a tactical role) to light artillery. After re-
resources. To meet all of these requirements we
connaissance aircraft and intelligence gathering
doubled the number of landing craft sites north
agencies fixed and defined the target, heavy
of the Hai Van pass (to IS) and increased our
bomber strikes by B-52’s usually triggered the at-
tonnage capacity tenfold, from 540 tons per day to
tack. Tactical air strikes and coordinated artillery
5,500.
and naval gunfire followed. During the attack, re-
In the southern part of I Corps near Due Pho
connaissance elements observed the target; later,
and Sa Huynh in southeastern Quang Nam
specially trained long-range reconnaissance patrols
Province, Army engineer and transportation units
entered the target area to assessbomb damage and developed during April an over-the-beach resupply
to locate additional targets for the highly accurate system to support Operation MALHEUR, con-
tactical aircraft prepared to strike them. ducted by the 1st Brigade, 1Olst Airborne Division.
SLAM operations became one of my most val- When the northeast monsoon began in September,
uable and responsive tools. During the 49 days of the engineers had completed a small sheltered
the SLAM operation in support of Con Thien, we coastal port at Sa Huynh and nn all-weather air-
dislodged a firmly entrenched enemy, destroyed field at Due Pho capable of handling C-130 air-

143
craft. Both developments helped ease the strain tioned along the route, first to secure the road in
on the burdened supply network. the various tactical areas of operations, then to re-
The big battle at Dak To in November stands place destroyed bridges and repair damaged sec-
as a tremendous tactical logistic effort, a prime tions of the route. A major section in the Da Nang
example of successfully reinforcing an outpost area of Quang Nam Province (I Corps) had been
in a remote border region by air with both troops secured in the spring of 1965 when the 1st Marine
and supplies. In addition to normal equipment and Division moved into the area. In the spring of 1967
supplies, we had to replace a large amount of the 3d Marine Division secured the section north
ammunition at Dak To after enemy shelling de- of the Hai Van pass in Thua Thien and Quang
stroyed one of our dumps. Along with the gal- Tri Provinces. In the southern provinces of I Corps,
lantry and tenacity of our forces, our tremendously Task Force OREGON in May cleared the section
successful air logistics operation was the key to running from northern Quang Ngai through
the victory. Quang Tin and into the southern part of Quang
During the year we conducted an extensive pro Nam Province.
gram to open and upgrade roads throughout the In the II Corps’ Operation OH JAC KY0 I
country. As military actions cleared new areas, we during March and April, the Korean Capital and
conducted “Road Runner” operations to secure the 9th Divisions opened the route from Phan Rang in
principal routes and applied substantial engineer- Ninh Thuan Province to a point 40 miles north
ing effort to improve and maintain them. The of Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh Province. The portion
expanded road network was both important mili- in northern Binh Thuan Province had already
tarily and vital to civilian trade and commerce. been cleared by the 1st Cavalry Division in Opera-
Mile after mile of road was opened. In the III tion BYRD in August 1966. During Operation
Corps area the ARVN 18th Division, the Austra- PERSHING in 1967, the same unit opened the
lians, Thais, and elements of the U.S. 9th Division remainder of the route through Binh Dinh
opened and secured Route 15 connecting Saigon Province.
with the port and naval installations at Vung Tau. To the south in III Corps during November and
Route 20, extending from Saigon to the II Corps early December, in Operation SANTE FE, the
boundary where it ran eastward to Dalat, was U.S. 9th and ARVN 18th Divisions secured Route 1
opened by the U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry Regi- in Long Khanh and Binh Tuy Provinces. The en-
ment and ARVN 18th Division, then turned over tire length of Route 1 and the other roads I have
to the Vietnamese public works ministry for main- noted were open and operating as the year ended.
tenance. Route 13, closed for years, was cleared by The U.S. Army and Marine engineers, U.S. Navy
the U.S. 1st Division, opening it for traffic from Seabees,and ARVN engineers performed the her-
Saigon north to the Cambodian border. culean task of repairing and maintaining the
In II Corps, we secured and improved Route 19, hundreds of miles of roadway this net encom-
leading from the coast inland to Pleiku; Route 14, passed. The first convoy traveled the full length of
extending from Pleiku north into Kontum Prov- Route 1 in January 1968, signalling the achieve-
ince; and Route 20 from Dalat to the III Corps ment of a long sought goal, one which facilitated
boundary. In the IV Corps, we devoted a major both the nation’s economic growth and the conduct
effort to safeguarding Route 4 connecting Saigon of military operations.
and the Mekong Delta.
Intelligence
Our most ambitious road project was opening
coastal Route 1 all the way from Saigon north to The Combined Intelligence Center expanded to
the Demilitarized Zone. This involved a series of keep pace with the ever-increasing quantity of in-
military and engineering operations by units sta- formation coming from the field. Intelligence from

144
the center provided the basis for our ground offen- we overran major enemy baseareas in JUNCTION
sive operations and air strikes, and provided a CITY. We obtained maps, films, photographs, and
reservoir of data about the enemy’s infrastructure. two million pages of documents. The most im-
Operation CEDAR FALLS was the first large- portant find was the enemy’s complete plan of op
scale operation to benefit from “pattern activity erations. A film of North Vietnam’s second ranking
analysis,” a system we had begun to develop in officer, General Thanh, who was the senior com-
mid-1966. This procedure consisted of detailed mander in the south, inspecting Viet Cong troops
plotting on maps of information on enemy activity in the field was particularly interesting.
obtained from a variety of sources over an extended
period of time. As more data was plotted, patterns The Strotzg Point System
of activity and locations would emerge. We thereby
One planned measure to decrease the massive in-
could focus our prime attention on those areas of
filtration across the Demilitarized Zone was to con-
intensive or unusual activity.
struct a strong point warning system just south of
Aerial observation and photography, sensors,
the zone. The system consisted of early-warning
patrol reports, infrared devices, sampan traffic
devices and some physical obstacles backed by care-
counts, enemy probes of Regional and Popular
fully selected fortified positions on key terrain,
Forces posts, agent reports, civilian movement re-
manned as appropriate, and supported by artillery,
ports, reports of increased antiaircraft fire, dis-
closures of caches (and the amount and nature of airstrikes, and naval gunfire.
the material in them) and captured documents- The line of fortified strong points eventually ex-
these and more told us much about enemy inten- tended from the coast to the mountains west of
tions. Upsurges in road ambushes or bridge de- Khe Sanh. The strong points served as observation
struction usually meant that the VC intended to posts, patrol bases, and fire support bases.
attack in a location where denial of the particular The entire system was designed as an economy
roads would aid the enemy. Something of the ene- of force measure. After the U.S. Marines had devel-
my’s intent could be determined even by checking oped the system, I planned to turn the defense of
the amount of wood shipped into an area for the the strong points over to the ARVN, thereby free-
making of caskets or the number of civilians im- ing our troops for mobile operations. We also
pressed as porters. The extent and nature of the hoped to cut down our costly search operations in
enemy’s own intelligence gathering revealed much the vicinity of the DMZ. The proximity of the
about his intentions and even the size of the opera-
enemy’s sanctuary and his artillery and mortar fire
tion he was planning.
made operations there particularly bloody. Fur-
Assiduous plotting of all this information and
thermore, we hoped to enhance our reaction by
careful analysis of the patterns enabled us to launch
fire to enemy incursions by canalizing his move-
spoiling attacks both with ground troops and with
ment and detecting him at greater distances. It
massive air strikes. Where no pronounced pattern
developed in an area, we concentrated our efforts was an effort to counter both enemy infiltration
elsewhere, thereby conserving our forces. Activity and direct invasion by increasing the enemy’s cost
pattern analysis was invaluable in developing and minimizing our own. During the year, the
broad long-range direction of our military opera- intensity of the enemy’s mortar, artillery, and
tions, while at other lower echelons it provided rocket fire slowed down the development of the
commanders with a basis for planning day-by-day strong points and caused us to set aside the con-
operations. struction of obstacles and to restudy their prac-
We found extremely valuable intelligence when ticability and useful location.

145
Rivevine Operations Mobile Riverine Force often operated with other
units (GAME WARDEN units, SEAL teams,
The Mobile Riverine Force, which we created in
Vietnamese Marines, units of the ARVN 7th Divi-
1967, was composed of an Army infantry brigade
sion, and River Assault Groups) on reconnaissance,
and a Navy task force integrated at each level of
blocking, and pursuit operations. In five major
command. An amphibious force operating entirely
operations during the year the Mobile Riverine
afloat, it was the first time the U.S. had used the
Force killed over 1,000 enemy and by its presence
technique since the Civil War, when similar Union
gave encouragement to the populace and a new
Army forces operated on the Mississippi, Cumber-
sense of confidence to ARVN units.
land, and other rivers. The force was a complete
package, independent of fixed support bases and
Etzenz),Rockets
with all of its normal fire support embarked or in
tow. It provided great flexibility and markedly in- The introduction of the portable Soviet-made
creased our operational capability in previously in- 140-mm barrage rockets (8,000 meter range) by
accessibleareas. the enemy in February compounded our security
The troops lived on barrack ships docked at the problems, especially for our large airfields and
Mobile Riverine base anchorage. On tactical opera- logistical installations. Our concern heightened
tions, Navy armored troop carrier boats, preceded when a similar weapon with a range of 11,000
by minesweeping craft and escorted by armored meters, the 122-mm rocket, appeared in July. To
boats (nicknamed “Monitors”), transported the counter this increased enemy fire capability, we
soldiers along the vast network of waterways in were forced to extend our search areas to provide
the Delta. The units debarked upon reaching the local defense and warning for our installations.
area of operations or upon enemy contact. As the To bolster local security, I directed construction
Army troops engaged the enemy, the Navy boats of a number of high metal observation towers to
provided close-in fire support with 40-mm guns, ring our installations. These towers, some as high
.30- and .50-caliber machine guns, 81-mm mortars as 100 feet, were manned day and night by troops
and individual hand-held weapons. Artillery sup- using flash-ranging devices, ground radar, or star-
port was furnished by riverine artillery-Army lite scopes (night vision devices). The vantage
105-mm howitzers mounted on barges accom- points often enabled LIS to determine the location
panying the force. of the source of the enemy rocket or mortar fire
Although “immersion foot” was a restrictive and to direct counterfire before he could break off
factor in this kind of warfare, we minimized its the attack and flee to safety. These towers were
effects by alternating units of the brigade in action. later available in quantity and served to improve
Fresh troops were brought into the battle every greatly the security of Saigon and other important
two or three days to sustain the attack while others areas.
were removed to “dry out” and refit. Operation MOOSE
The first element of the Mobile Riverine Force
arrived in Vietnam in January and after shake- My continuing concern about the effects of the
down training in the Rung Sat swamps, moved to massive U.S. presence upon the Vietnamese pea-
its base near My Tho. Named Dong Tam (mean- ple and their economy prompted me to develop
ing “United Hearts and Minds”-a name my coun- Operation MOOSE (M ove Out of Saigon Ex-
terpart General Vien and I had agreed as appro- peditiously ), designed to hasten the relocation
priate), the base was a 600-acre “island” we had of our units and installations from the urban
created among inundated rice paddies by dredging areas, particularly Saigon where the military num-
earth from the bottom of the Mekong River. The bered 12,700 in early 1967. We implemented the

146
program as facilities outside the city were com- gram provided a valuable tool for analyzing
pleted. the efficiency of administrative and logistical
Early in the year the headquarters of the U.S. operations.
Army, Vietnam (USARV), and the headquarters Because of a constant effort to hold down the
of the logistics command moved into a new pre- level of noncombat forces, the logisticians, who
fabricated headquarters complex at Long Binh, 16 were responsible for receiving and supporting a
miles east of Saigon. During the summer my own very large force, were hard pressed from the be-
headquarters moved into a new prefabricated fa- ginning. On the one hand, the dispersed nature
cility near Tan Son Nhut Airbase. of our tactical operations, our support requirements
The opening of our port facilities at Newport to Free World military forces, and the conse-
on the outskirts of the capital city permitted ad- quences of the underdeveloped environment re-
ditional units to move and did much to reduce quired that a major portion of our effort be spent
the congestion in downtown Saigon caused by in base development, construction, transportation
supply convoys moving to and from the old com- improvement, and other equally important tasks.
mercial port. By the end of the year, we ha.d re- In the maintenance field alone, the size and exten-
duced the U.S. military population in downtown sive use of our helicopter forces created a
Saigon to 8,500. By mid-1968 it would be down staggering requirement for highly-skilled mainte-
to 6,900. Similar moves away from populated areas nance personnel and sophisticated facilities.
were made throughout the country. Our logisticians accepted the challenge of this
situation and provided the highest qua.lity of sup-
Economy Measures port ever received by combat forces in the field.
As an extension of continuing efforts to hold Although logistic facilities were primitive and
down the costs of our effort in Vietnam without virtually nonexistent at the beginning of the troop
denying items needed by the individual soldier or buildup, tactical units were never restricted in their
in any way impeding combat operations, I decided combat operations by a lack of support or supplies.
in late 1967 to initiate a study of cost effectiveness Through the use of aerial evacuation techniques
and management procedures to aid in reducing and mobile medical units, troops in the most re-
costs and assuring the most efficient use of avail- mote areas were assured that comprehensive medi-
able supplies and personnel. Given the code name cal care was only minutes away. Combat units
MACONOMY, the project was instituted both at knew that mail from home would arrive on a
MACV and at each of the component commands. scheduled basis and could be read while enjoying
Under MACONOMY, management at all levels hot meals.
undertook a continuing review of plans, programs, The level and responsiveness of logistic support
and methods with the goal of consolidating, in Vietnam is a tribute to the dedication, imagina-
substituting or reducing requirements, and elimi- tion, and initiative of our logisticians at all eche-
nating nonessentials or simply maximizing our lons. Even more remarkable is the fact that, as the
proficiency at the least cost. quality and quantity of support increased, the pro-
Commanders in Vietnam embraced the program portionate strength of our support elements de-
enthusiastically. Within a month MACV had re- clined. By constantly analyzing requirements and
ceived approximately 200 reports reflecting esti- capabilities, consolidating functions, and refining
mated savings in excess of $100 million. The procedures, the support ratio was reduced from
Seventh Air Force, for example, conducted a sur- about 45 percent in 1966 to about 40 percent in
vey to identify and distribute excess property at 1967. This feat was accomplished during a period
selected bases, resulting in savings of more than in which Free World military strength in Vietnam
$70 million. In addition to these savings, the pro- grew from 898,000 to over 1,300,OOO. Through the

147
increased substitution of Vietnamese for U.S. sup- settlement phase was not as well planned or exe-
port personnel and increased emphasis on local cuted as the actual evacuation. For the first several
contracting, our support strength will continue to days the families suffered unnecessary hardships.
decline. However, the government quickly rallied and built
Resettlement Programs a new village.
The second resettlement program was in the
Military considerations led us to undertake three Central Highlands. As the North Vietnamese
major resettlement programs during 1967.The first Army intensified its infiltration of men and ma-
one, at Ben Sue, was carried out in order to remove teriel into South Vietnam, it became obvious that
an important Viet Cong supply center near Saigon. large numbers of Montagnard villagers in the
The second, at Edap Enang, was designed to pro- border regions were being terrorized and impressed
tect Montagnard tribesmen from Viet Cong ter- into the enemy’s service as laborers and porters. It
rorism and exploitation. Finally, we relocated a was a matter of military necessity that the enemy
large number of local inhabitants from the DMZ be denied the use of this labor and that the border
battle area. tribesmen be protected from intimidation by NVA
The Viet Cong fortified village of Ben Sue, long troops. It was with these objectives in mind that
an enemy safe haven and supply center, was evacu- the resettlement program at Edap Enang was
ated during Operation CEDAR FALLS. The cen- initiated by the Vietnamese government in Pleiku
tral organization for the VC Long Nguyen secret Province in April at the urging of U.S. military
base was located in-and operated from-Ben Sue. authorities.
The people of th e village were organized into four This program envisioned the relocation of some
rear service companies. One company moved rice 8,000 Montagnard tribesmen from 18 villages along
and other suIjplies in sampans on the Saigon River. the Cambodian border into a central planned com-
A second company unloaded these supplies. The munity near Pleiku City. The government desig-
two remaining companies stored them in and nated one Vietnamese Ranger battalion to secure
around Ben Sue or in the jungles near the village. the new village and assigned over 200 revolution-
When we entered Ben Sue we discovered up to ary development cadremen to assist in resettlement
three levels of carefully concealed storage rooms of the population. The U.S. 4th Infantry Division
underneath the houses. In these and other nearby provided support throughout all phases of the
sites we found enough rice to feed a Viet Cong divi- relocation, resettlement, and development of the
sion for nearly a year. Just outside the village we village. This support included the provision of
found a large cache of enemy medical supplies, in- transport helicopters, cargo vehicles, land clearing
cluding surgical instruments and 800,000 vials of equipment, and technical engineering advice.
penicillin. By mid-July the community of Edap Enang
Thus, while we recognized that dislocating the consisted of some 7,000 inhabitants with nearly
families in Ben Sue would inevitably produce some 600 acres of the projected 1,200 acres of farmland
resentment, it was a matter of military necessity cleared. Market centers, a dispensary, a school,
that this enemy supply operation be brought to an nearly 200 dwellings, and a series of lakes stocked
end. Every effort was made to evacuate and re- with fish were either completed or under con-
settle the people as humanely as possible. All their struction. Roads to the settlement were improved
possessions, including farm animals, rice, and and a comprehensive defense system constructed
household furnishings, were loaded on boats and around the community. A major civic action pro-
delivered to the resettlement center. There-near gram was initiated by the 4th Division, in conjunc-
Phu Cuong-they were provided food, shelter, tion with the Vietnamese government, with the
medical care, and water. Unfortunately, the re- objective of improving the living standards of the
148
inhabitants. Concurrently, representatives of the resettled them in newly-expanded refugee villages
Vietnamese government embarked upon similar at Cam Lo. The families were transported in
rehabilitation programs designed to better living ARVN and U.S. Marine trucks and in U.S. Navy
conditions and enhance the government’s image landing craft to areas in which U.S. civilian agen-
among the tribesmen. cies, Vietnamese provincial officials, and U.S. Ma-
Despite apparent initial success,a general popu- rine engineers had built new homes, dug wells, and
lation exodus from the settlement began in Decem- provided water storage tanks.
ber 1967. By March 1968 the population had The resettled families were given inoculations
declined to about 2,200 people. The Montagnards by U.S. medics and instructed in basic public health
were instinctively fearful of resettlement, but measures. The status of their security and their
faulty planning regarding the provision of rice- opportunity to escape the effects of the intense
growing farmland and the continuous deluge of fighting along the DMZ were thereby immensely
VC propaganda denouncing the project as a improved. They were no longer subject to impress-
“concentration camp” caused additional adverse ment by the growing NVA forces. In this instance
effects. In fact, the tribesmen were free to leave there was, understandably, little or no effort on
the area-as many of them did. the part of the resettled Vietnamese to return to
The Vietnamese government, recognizing the their homesites in the battle area.
seriousness of the situation, initiated high priority At Edap Enang and Ben Sue, on the other hand,
efforts to remedy food shortages and to recon- the process of dislocation and resettlement faced
stitute the community. By April 1968 the popula- built-in obstacles. As in the earlier Strategic Hamlet
tion trend had swung sharply upward and there Program under the Diem government, the separa-
were about 4,600 tribesmen in the settlement. This tion of a rural people from their ancestral lands
progress continued; by mid-1968 Edap Enang con- caused fear and resentment. Their usual reaction
tained nearly 6,200 people. In spite of its short- is to attempt to slip back as soon as the opportunity
comings, the project had effectively separated a
arises. Notwithstanding the efforts of the govern-
major section of the border population from the
ment to care for these unfortunate victims of a
enemy and denied use of these tribesmen in sup-
prolonged war, this pattern was repeated at Ben
port of the enemy’s tactical operations.
Sue and Edap Enang. Hopefully, these people will
In May a combined United States-Vietnamese
operation near the Demilitarized Zone removed be able to return to their original lands when the
10,000 local inhabitants from that intensive battle war is over and the government can help them to .
area where their safety could not be assured and rebuild.

149
Y

150

‘-
Typical Enemy Camouflaged Tunnel Entrnncc

Concealed Tunnel Entrance by River Bank

151
major elements of the Vietnamese airborne divi- On 20 and 21 March officials of the South Viet-
sion and Marines remained near the populated namese government met with President Johnson
areas to keep pressure on the guerrillas and local and other U.S. ofIicials on Guam.
forces and to support revolutionary development. April
On the 22d a battalion of the 173d Airborne On 6 April two brigades of the 4th Infantry
Brigade made the first American parachute assault Division, with elements of the 25th Infantry Di-
of the war, jumping into northern War Zone C to vision attached, launched Operation FRANCIS
intercept enemy troops trying to escape into Cam- MARION along the Cambodian border in Pleiku
bodia. The operation continued until mid-May. Province against the Viet Cong and the North
Although the enemy at first avoided contact, he Vietnamese 1st Division. In 190 days the Amer-
later began to engage our forces and lost 2,700 dead icans killed 1,200 of the enemy.
in comparison to 289 American and South Viet- The White House, on 6 April, announced assign-
namese killed. The enemy also lost over 600 ment of General Creighton W. Abrams, Jr., as
weapons, vast amounts of ammunition, medical Deputy Commander, U.S. Military Assistance
supplies, field equipment, and more than 800 tons Command, Vietnam.
of rice. During the operation U.S. forces built On 12 April Task Force OREGON was estab
three airfields capable of handling the G-130 and lished in the southern part of the I Corps as a
established two new Special Forces camps to guard provisional division-size organization, enabling
the airfields and provide continuing surveillance U.S. Marine units to reinforce units in the north-
in the region. An inviolate Viet Gong stronghold ernmost provinces where enemy pressure con-
for many years, War Zone C was now vulnerable tinued to mount. The task force initially consisted
to allied forces anytime we chose to enter. of the 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and the
On 28 February the Mekong Delta Mobile Riv- 196th Infantry Brigade.
erine Force was activated under the Commander, Eight Australian Canberra (B-57) bombers of
Naval Forces, Vietnam. Squadron No. 2, Royal Australian Air Force, ar-
March rived on 19 April at Phan Rang Airbase.
During March, and extending into April, the On 20 April the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian
Republic of Korea Capital and 9th Divisions con- Regiment arrived to join the Australian Task
ducted Operation OH JAC KY0 I, which en- Force in Phuoc Tuy Province.
abled the two divisions to link their areas of re- The Commanding General, U.S. 1st Marine
sponsibility in the central coastal plains and secure Division, turned over responsibility for the defense
a large portion of Highway 1. of the Chu Lai Airbase and logistics complex to the,
On 15 March it was announced that Ambas- Commanding General of Task Force OREGON
sador Ellsworth Bunker would succeed Ambas- on 26 April.
sador Lodge. In 984 villages throughout South Vietnam, 77
The Constituent Assembly, on 18 March, voted percent of the registered voters turned out on 29
unanimous approval of the new constitution for April for local elections.
the Republic of Vietnam. May
Elements of the U.S. 3d Marine Division On 1 May U.S. military strength in South Viet-
launched Operation PRAIRIE FIRE III along the nam reached 436,000 men.
Demilitarized Zone and in the vicinity of Khe Having started the preceding month, the North
Sanh. Heavy fighting continued in the area Vietnamese stepped up infiltration from Laos
through the entire year. into the northwestern corner of South Vietnam and

153
329-5250--69-11
occupied hills dominating the airfield and Special launched the first major American operation in
Forces camp at Khe Sanh. U.S. Marines reacted the Mekong Delta, Operation CORONADO in
by shifting two battalions to Khe Sanh and on Dinh Tuong Province. In 54 days of offensive
3 May, in some of the heaviest fighting of the war, strikes centering on the vast waterways of the
seized Hill 881N, northwest of Khe Sanh, which region, almost 500 Viet Cong were killed and 75
afforded a dominating position overlooking the captured.
enemy’s infiltration routes. U.S. strength in Vietnam on 17 June approached
On 4 May General Abrams and Ambassador 450,000. The total strength of the Vietnamese
Komcr arrived in Saigon to take up their duties as Armed Forces exceeded 600,000, and other Free
Deputy COMUSMACV and Deputy to COMUS World forces totalled 54,000. Intelligence estimates
MACV for Civil Operations and Revolutionary placed enemy strength at close to 260,000, includ-
Development Support, respectively. On the 28th ing over 50,000 North Vietnamese regulars.
the Embassy’s Office of Civil Operations and the
14
MACV Revolutionary Development Support Di-
The Newport Marine Terminal facility near
rectorate were combined into the Office of the
Saigon, designed to serve U.S. forces and relieve
Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Operations and
congestion in the Saigon port, officially opened on
Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS)
11 July. Before the year ended almost all pro-
under MACV, with responsibility for both civil
grammed military construction projects would be
and military aspects of U.S. support of pacification
completed.
falling to my command. The enemy, on 15 July, fired 50 rounds of 122-
The 1st Brigade, 1Olst Airborne Division, was
mm rockets at the airbase at Da Nang, the first
assigned to operational control of the III Marine use of these long-range weapons. Ten aircraft were
Amphibious Force. In the brigade’s first operation
destroyed and 41 damaged.
in the zone of the I Corps (Operation MALHEUR Also on the 15th MARKET TIME coastal
in Quang Ngai Province), the airborne troops
surveillance forces intercepted a North Vietnam-
killed 392 of the enemy.
ese trawler heavily laden with arms and ammu-
From 14 May through 11 June, 4,612 hamlets
nition destined for Viet Cong operating in the
throughout Vietnam conducted local elections.
vicinity of Chu Lai.
Because of enemy shelling and ground attacks
On 27 July Premier Ky announced that the
emanating from the Demilitarized Zone, U.S.
Republic of Vietnam would increase its armed
Marine and ARVN units on 18 May entered and
forces to 685,000 men.
operated in the southern half of the zone for the
first time. During a series of operations over an August
1l-day period, U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese President Johnson announced that American
troops supported by artillery, naval gunfire, tactical forces in South Vietnam would be increased to
air, and massive B-52 strikes killed over 780 enemy 525,000 men.
and temporarily neutralized the enemy’s offensive On 4 August MACV Headquarters moved from
power in the southern half of the zone. downtown Saigon to new headquarters at Ton Son
On 19 May President Thieu declared his can- Nhut Airbase on the outskirts of the city, part of
didacy for President of the Republic in upcoming a long-range program to relieve congestion in the
national elections. capital.
In the Mekong Delta, two separate but mutually
1une supporting naval operations helped drive Viet
On the first day of June the 2d Brigade, 9th Cong tax collectors from the waterways. The U.S.
Infantry Division, and the Mobile Riverine Force Navy’s GAME WARDEN patrols, cruising 24

154
hours a day, helped eliminate the tax collectors On 27 October the North Vietnamese 88th Regi-
and keep commercial traffic moving, while River ment attacked the command post of a battalion
Assault Groups and the River Transport Escort of the South Vietnamese 9th Regiment near the
Group of the Vietnamese Navy provided security village of Song Be in Phuoc Long Province. Three
for major rice and commodity convoys en route times the North Vietnamese rushed the position
from the Delta to Saigon. but each time were repulsed. When the enemy be-
gan to fall back, the ARVN defenders left the
Septem
her
safety of their position to pursue. The enemy lost
On 3 September 4.8 million voters, representing 134 men killed to an ARVN loss of 13 in an en-
81 percent of those registered, elected General gagement in which the defenders were outnum-
Thieu asPresident of the Republic of Vietnam with bered by at least 4 to 1.
35 percent of the total vote. Air Vice Marshal Ky On 29 October the Viet Cong 273d Regiment,
was elected Vice President. Members of the Upper 9th Division, attacked the town of Lot Ninh, near
House of the National Assembly were elected at the Cambodian border in Binh Long Province. The
the same time. area was defended by three CIDG companies, a
On 7 September the U.S. Secretary of Defense Regional Force company, and a Popular Force pla-
announced a decision to construct an anti-infiltra- toon. As the fight developed over the next several
tion barrier just south of the Demilitarized Zone, days, ARVN units and the 1st Brigade of the 1st
consisting of strongpoints, obstacles, and electronic Infantry Division reinforced the position. By the
devices. time the enemy broke off the battle on 8 November,
Task.Force OREGON was redesignated on 22 he had sustained severe casualties: over 850 killed
September as the 23d (Americal) Division. at a cost of 50 dead among the defenders.
On 26 September HMAS Perth replaced HMAS On 31 October President Thieu and Vice Presi-
Hobart to become the second Royal Australian dent Ky were inaugurated and the directorate dis-
Navy ship to operate with the U.S. Seventh Fleet, solved. With installation of the Lower House, the
providing naval gunfire support to allied forces constituent assembly passed out of existence. Presi-
ashore. dent Thieu appointed Nguyen Van Lot as Prime
On 29 September last contingents of the Royal Minister.
Thai Army Volunteer Regiment, “the Queen’s
November
Cobras,” arrived in Vietnam. The regiment began
to conduct operations in Bien Hoa Province, just During the month U.S. military strength in
northeast of Saigon. Vietnam reached 470,000.
Also during the course of the month the US. 3d
October Marine Division launched a series of operations in
By 4 October a North Vietnamese siege of the Quang Tri Province against growing enemy
U.S. Marine Corps base at Con Thien had been strength threatening Khe Sanh and Marine strong-
broken with severe lossesto the enemy by a massive points at the “Rock Pile,” Camp Carroll, Con
use of artillery, tactical aircraft, and B-52’s. Thien, and Gio Linh.
On 8 October the new Huey COBRA (AH-IG) In mid-November reconnaissance revealed the
armed helicopter, especially designed for support presence near Dak To in Kontum Province of four
of ground forces in South Vietnam, entered com- North Vietnamese regiments. In addition to CIDG
bat for the first time. companies manning a Special Forces camp, a South
During the month the South Vietnamese con- Vietnamese battalion and a battalion of the 4th
ducted elections for the Lower House of the Na- Infantry Division were in the vicinity. By reinforc-
tional Assembly. ing with one brigade each from the 4th Infantry

155
and 1st Cavalry Divisions, the 173d Airborne Bri- Also on 8 December leading elements of the re-
gade, and six South Vietnamese battalions, we were mainder of the 1Olst Airborne Division arrived in
able to attack and defeat the enemy before he could Vietnam and located in the zone of the III Corps
concentrate his forces. Massive air and B-52 strikes northeast of Saigon. Command elements of the
were made. More than 1,600 North Vietnamese division arrived on 13 December. Movement of the
were killed. division involved the longest aerial combat deploy-
ment in the history of warfare. The 1Olst was not
December
originally scheduled to arrive until early in 1968,
The enemy struck the Montagnard village of but because of the ominous intelligence on enemy
Dak Son in Phuoc Long Province on 5 December movements, I urgently requested its arrival before
in a wanton attack constituting one of the most the end of the year.
atrocious acts of terror in the entire war. Rampag- The 199th Light Infantry Brigade and the Viet-
ing through the village with flamethrowers and namese 5th Ranger Group ended Operation FAIR-
hand grenades, the enemy troops systematically FAX after having killed more than a thousand
killed more than 200 of the civilian inhabitants, 70 Viet Cong. Responsibility for the security of Saigon
percent of whom were women and children, and passed to the South Vietnamese force.
kidnapped some 400 tribesmen for use as forced The 11th Light Infantry Brigade arrived in Viet-
laborers. The destruction left 1,382 people home- nam on 24 December. Taking position in the
less. southern part of the I Corps, the brigade became a
On 8 December in the biggest single engage- part of the 23d (Americal) Division.
ment yet to occur in the Mekong Delta, contin- At the end of the year U.S. military strength in
gents of the South Vietnamese 21st Infantry Vietnam totalled 486,000 (320,000 Army; 31,000
Division trapped part of a Viet Cong main force Navy; 78,000 Marine Corps; 56,000 Air Force;
battalion and a local force battalion along the Konh 1,200 Coast Guard). Free World strength was as
0 Mon Canal, 100 miles southwest of Saigon. Heli- follows: Australian, 6,812; Korean, 47,800; New
copters lifted selected units into blocking positions Zealand, 516; The Philippines, 2,020; and
while a battalion maneuvered up the canal from Thailand, 2,205.
the southwest. Viet Cong dead numbered 365.

156
CON THIEN

OPERATION PRAIRIE FORE


HAI “AN PASS
LAOS

. ..A.
SIGNIFICANT R
LOCALITIES

OPERATION
FRANCIS MARION

IICTZ
i
CAMBODIA
:i
\

i’
:

WAR ZONE C

OPERATION JUNCTION CITY \ \

SONG BE
OPERATION MANHATTAN. RANG

T
IRON TRIANGLE
+
OPERATION CORONADO
\- A

TACTICAL ZO
A’CoN~~~~ATl~~ CEDAR FALLS
Chapter VI

THE YEAR OF DECISION-1968

OVERVIEW
In 1968 the war in Vietnam reached the decisive movement of his main forces toward Saigon, Da
stage. In my Overview for 1967, I described the Nang, Hue, Khe Sanh, the DMZ, and a number
dilemma facing the enemy and the decision taken of provincial and district capitals. Incidents rose
by Hanoi because of that dilemma. During early sharply, as did enemy casualties. By January the
1968 the enemy made a determined effort to exe- enemy was well into the winter-spring campaign
cute the plans which flowed from this decision. which he had started in October. During January
As the new year opened, I had planned to con- we began to receive numerous reports about a ma-
tinue pursuing the enemy throughout the Republic, jor offensive to be undertaken just before or imme-
thereby improving conditions for the pacification diately after Tet. These reports came from agents
program to proceed at an ever-increasing pace. I and prisoners with increasing frequency and
had also intended clearing remaining enemy base credibility.
areas in zones of the I and III Corps and deploying Based on these reports, in January I modified
the rest of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division and an previous plans to conduct major offensive opera-
air cavalry squadron to the Delta to reinforce the tions into the enemy’s well-established base areas
Mobile Riverine Force. I had prepared plans to in War Zones C and D and the enemy’s huge Mili-
shift the 1st Cavalry Division to the III Corps for tary Region 10 (MR 10) and directed Lt. Gen.
operations along the Cambodian border during the Frederick C. Weyand, II Field Force commander,
dry season in that area (December to April) and to strengthen U.S. forces in the area around Saigon
to move the division north to the I Corps for oper- by redeploying forces which had been targeted on
ations, including a foray into the A Shau Valley, the bases of the Viet Cong main forces and the
during the dry season in the northern provinces North Vietnamese Army. Likewise, I discussed
(May to September). The operations by the 1st the situation with my counterpart, General Vien,
Cavalry Division were to be in conjunction with Chief of the Joint General Staff, who directed
planned operations by other U.S. and ARVN troop readjustments in coordination with our ac-
troops in the areas. tions. In response to this changed enemy situation,
In December of 1967 information of massive just before Tet, well over half of the maneuver
enemy troop movements had prompted me to can- battalions plus most of the Regional and Popular
cel these plans. As 1968 began events verified this Forces in the III Corps were either defending the
intelligence, as the enemy continued the forward immediate approaches to Saigon, interdicting the

157
corridors which lead to Saigon from War Zones C he made extensive use of Cambodia to establish
and D and the Plain of Reeds, or defending villages secret bases and accumulate great quantities of
and hamlets. Even though by mid- January we were arms, supplies, and troops. Along the Cambodian
certain that a major offensive action was planned border north of Saigon he established Military Re-
by the enemy at Tet, we did not surmise the true gion 10 to coordinate the creation of a major logis-
nature or the scope of the countrywide attack. Be- tics base. In the Plain of Reeds and in the “Eagle’s
cause of this uncertainty, a number of battalions Beak” section of Cambodia that projects southeast-
were designated as emergency reserves for any ward to within 30 miles of the South Vietnamese
contingency. It did not occur to us that the enemy capital, he established clandestine sanctuaries and
would undertake suicidal attacks in the face of undertook a long-range program to stockpile sup-
our power. But he did just that. plies for support of operations in the zone of the
For the celebration of the lunar new year-Tel--- III and IV Corps. In preparation for the Tet of-
the Republic of Vietnam had, after discussions be- fensive against Saigon and the larger cities of the
tween President Thieu, Ambassador Bunker, and Delta, the enemy smuggled munitions and weap-
myself, declared a 36-hour cease-fire to be effective ons to forward sites hidden in isolated areas or to
from the evening of 29 January through the early underground installations. He also returned tem-
morning of 31 January. Upon my advice an excep- porarily to his earlier practice of drawing reinforce-
tion was made during the last week in the I Corps, ments from the Delta to support operations in the
the Demilitarized Zone, and nearby infiltration vicinity of Saigon.
routes north of the DMZ, since the enemy activity Over a long period of time and especially before
seriously imperiled our positions in those regions. Tet, enemy troops in civilian dress, assisted by well-
The Viet Cong announced a seven-day Tet truce organized agents, slipped into the cities, particularly
to last from 27 January until the early morning of Hue and Saigon, among crowds of .holiday travel-
3 February. Under cover of this premeditated sub- ers on public conveyances, on produce trucks, and
terfuge, the enemy launched attacks of unprece- in private vehicles. In Saigon they used funeral pro-
dented scope. cessions to smuggle weapons and ammunition.
Several days before Tet U.S. troops were placed Other quantities of supplies arrived in market bas-
on full alert. Owing to an apparent mixup in coor- kets and vegetable trucks, under lumber, or in false-
dination, the enemy attack was launched in I and bottom sampans. The Vietnamese National Police
II Corps 24 hours ahead of! the attack in the re- were ineffective in stopping or detecting the mag-
mainder of the country. This gave us additional nitude of the enemy’s effort. The minds of the Viet-
warning, but still did not reveal the nature of his namese in Saigon and the other cities were pre-
plans in the Saigon area. The enemy main attack occupied with the approaching Tet holiday, and
was launched late on the 30th and in early morn- our efforts to change this state of mind were only
ing of the 31st of January, employing about 84,000 partially effective.
Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops. In addi- The enemy used primarily local forces rather
tion to Saigon, initial assaults were JIIlOLliltd than main force units to infiltrate the cities and
against 36 of the 4 provincial capitals, 5 of the 6 conduct the first attacks. He held the larger main
autonomous cities, 64 of 242 district capitals, an(1 50 force units in reserve to exploit the anticipated pop-
hamlets. ular uprisings. Some units had even planned vic-
In preparation for the attacks, the enemy went tory parades in the cities.
to unprecedented lengths to assemble supplies and In the areas around Saigon the terrain facilitated
weapons and to infiltrate troops into the cities. Af- infiltration by large enemy units. Except for the
ter loss of his major base areas near Saigon in 1967, few radial roads emanating from Saigon, the city

158
is bounded to the north, west, and east by a combi- well. They successfully blocked enemy assaults on
nation of paddies, jungles, and swamps. such important installations as the radio station
Notwithstanding efforts to increase the state of and Presidential Palace. Both Vietnamese and U.S.

alert, large numbers of Vietnamese soldiers were troops reacted quickly. Within hours the quick
on leave for Tet and their units were, in most cases, deployment of Vietnamese Ranger, airborne, Ma-
about half strength. The enemy penetrated in rine, and Regional Force battalions had thrown
strength into Saigon, Quang Tri, Hue, Da Nang, the Viet Cong on the defensive. Reluctantly, I was
Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, Kontum City, Ban Me forced by the urgency of the situation to put U.S.
Thuot, My Tho, Can Tho, and Ben Tre. In most combat troops into the Vietnamese capital city,
cities, Regional and Popular Forces and the South Saigon, for the first time. For political and psycho-
Vietnamese Army threw back the enemy attacks logical reasons I had hoped that the Vietnamese
within two to three days-in some cases, within could defend their own cities and carry the heavy
hours. However, very heavy fighting continued fighting in the populated areas as in the past. In
for some time in Kontum City, Ban Me Thuot, Can view of the enemy’s major effort, the risk involved
Tho, and Ben Tre, and in Saigon and Hue the bat- in pursuing this policy became unacceptable, and
tle was protracted. I unhesitatingly set aside such a policy then and
The Regional and Popular Forces demonstratecl for the future. Therefore, American forces moved
their growing tactical proficiency throughout this in behind the Vietnamese, the first units arriving
period. By their presence in the villages and ham- at 6 a.m. By the end of the day, five U.S. battalions
lets they made it more difficult for the enemy to were in and about the city and two more moved in
terrorize the people. Their contributions made it the next day. Many more U.S. battalions occupied
possible for U.S. and other allied forces to conduct positions along roads leading to the city in order to
mobile security operations rather than to be tied to block enemy reinforcements which, according to
static duties. This was particularly apparent in our intelligence, were to exploit the successof the
Quang Tri Province. shock troops.
The enemy’s attack in Saigon began with a The enemy forces, consisting of elements of 11
sapper assault on the American Embassy, a move of local force battalions, failed to take any of their
dubious military value but psychologically impor- objectives except the undefended Phu Tho Race
tant. Although the Viet Cong succeeded in blow- Track, which they briefly used as a base area. Ex-
ing a hole in the Embassy wall, aggressive reaction cept for breaching the wall and entering the
by U.S. military police and Marine guards pre- grounds of the U.S. Embassy, the only successes
vented the enemy from entering the Embassy against a government target were brief incursions
building and by midmorning security was estab- into the rear of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff
lished in the area. The Viet Cong coordinated this compound and into two remote areas of Tan Son
abortive attack with assaults on the Tan Son Nhut Nhut Airbase.
Airbase complex, the Presidential Palace, the Viet- At Hue the enemy had ready accessto the city
namese Joint General Staff compound, and other from his logistical base in the A Shau Valley,
installations in Saigon. Nearby Bien Hoa Airbase where we had no covering outpost like that at Khe
also came under attack. In some instances the VC Sanh. Under the concealment of low fog, enemy
dressed in ARVN uniforms to gain initial entry regular units consisting of eight battalions (made
into South Vietnamese bases-a tactic they had up of both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese) were
used earlier and have also employed since Tet. able to infiltrate Hue with the help of accomplices
Throughout Saigon the National Police, who in inside the city. These troops quickly captured most
most casesabsorbed the brunt of the attack, fought of that portion of the city on the south bank of the

159
Perfume River. They later seized the bulk of the confidence to the ARVN and the local paramili-
northern half, including the Imperial Citadel. U.S. tary forces, who fought well in this critical
Marines drove them from most of the south bank engagement.
in the first few days, but the battle was fierce for The enemy’s Tet offensive also envisioned the
the Imperial Citadel. Aided by very bad weather, destruction of the Dak To-Tan Canh complex in
the enemy was able to bring reinforcements from the Central Highlands-the scene of the disastrous
the Viet Cong 416th Battalion, NVA 5th Division, enemy defeat in November of 1967. The entire
and NVA 324B Division, and to hold on until 25 NVA 1st Division, consisting of three regiments
February. Before the battle was over, some 16 supported by rocket artillery, was assigned this
North Vietnamese battalions had been identified mission.
in and around Hue. Between 15 January and Tet, two regiments of
The recapture‘of Hue was a bitter fight directly the division were detected en route to their attack
involving three U.S. Marine Corps and 11 Viet- positions and were engaged by the firepower of
namese battalions. The struggle at first involved the 4th Infantry Division and U.S. Air Force light
house-to-house fighting and then a long arduous and heavy bombers. As a result of these attacks,
process of routing the enemy from the heavily three enemy battalions were incapacitated and the
walled ancient fortress of the Imperial City. This enemy’s time schedule so disrupted that only one
urban warfare against fortified positions was not battalion was in its assigned assault position on the
unlike that in European cities during World night the Tet offensive began.
War II. From 15 January until 28 February the NVA 1st
Heavy damage to the city and to the Citadel Division recklessly pursued its attempts to gain
inevitably resulted, and some 116,000 civilians tactical positions around Dak To but was success-
were made homeless. It was a costly battle in hu- fully countered and defeated by the combined
man lives as well: the enemy lost over 5,000 killed forces of the ARVN 42d Regiment and the U.S.
in the city and an additional 3,000 to its immedi- 4th Infantry Division. These actions constituted the
ate north-at least the equivalent of a full divi- heaviest concentration of enemy forces by the B-3
sion-while U.S. and South Vietnamese units lost front during Tet and the longest sustained attack
just over 500 men killed. During the time the en- of the offensive. Since the total number of NVA
emy controlled the city he singled out and executed battalions engaged in the operation was twice that
over 1,000 government officials, school teachers, of the combined U.S. and ARVN strength, the
and others of known government loyalty. This was total defeat of the NVA 1st Division was a signifi-
a terrifying indication of what well might occur cant expression of the professionalism of American
should the Communists succeed in gaining control and South Vietnamese forces in the area.
of South Vietnam. Destruction from the countrywide attack was
In anticipation of an enemy attack, I had moved widespread, creating hundreds of thousands of
the headquarters and two brigades of the 1st Cav- refugees. When Vietnamese forces moved to the
alry Division northward from Binh Dinh Prov- defense of province and district capitals, the enemy
ince in mid-January. At the time of the attack on was able to move with great freedom in the rural
Hue the 1st Brigade was near Quang Tri City and areas and in the regions immediately surrounding
the 3d Brigade between Quang Tri City and Hue. the defended towns. Most of the battalions of the
Timely reinforcement of an ARVN regiment by Vietnamese Army which had been providing se-
the 1st Brigade brilliantly defeated an enemy at- curity for the pacification effort also withdrew to
- tempt to capture Quang Tri City. Inflicting heavy the defense of government installations. They were
casualties on the enemy, the air cavalrymen gave often accompanied by the pacification cadre and in

160
some casesby both Regional and Popular Forces, divisions which he committed there. Another
which withdrew from exposed outposts. strong indication that he entertained high hopes
The Tet offensive was exceedingly costly to the for a decisive victory is the fact that throughout
enemy throughout the country. Between 29 Jan- the country, and particularly in the Delta, he im-
uary and 11 February the Communists lost some pressed into his military units very large numbers
32,000 men killed and 5,800 detained, out of an of untrained, local Vietnamese, many of whom
estimated force of 84,000 committed to the offen- were very young and others very old. This move
sive. They also lost over 7,000 individual and al- had all the signs of a one-shot, go-for-broke
most 1,300 crew-served weapons (machine guns, attempt.
mortars, etc.). Allied losses were 1,001 U.S. and On the other side of the argument, however, is
2,082 Vietnamese and Free World personnel. By the fact that large North Vietnamese formations
the end of February the number of enemy killed were not used initially in the attack in the III
had risen to more than 45,000. In the same period Corps area, particularly the North Vietnamese 7th
the enemy lost over 12,500weapons. Division, which was held out of the early decision
stage of the battle. These may have been exploita-
This was only the initial price he paid for his
tion forces which were not committed because of
new strategy and his efforts to foreshorten the war.
the failure of the initial assaults. Indeed, in Hue
The enemy told his troops and his political cadre
that the time had come for the general offensive the enemy reinforced his initial success.In Saigon
and a general uprising. It is not entirely clear and elsewhere there was really inadequate success
to reinforce.
whether the enemy expected to succeed with one
The government of Vietnam did not collapse
mighty blow or whether Tet was simply the most
under this blow. To the contrary, it rallied in the
dramatic episode of his 1968 offensive.
face of the threat with a unity and purpose greater
There is much evidence to support the first inter-
than that which had ever been displayed up to that
pretation. In Hue, Kontum City, Ban Me Thuot,
time. Perhaps the greatest blow to the enemy’s
Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang, for example, the
hopes and plans was the fact that there was no evi-
local VC political and administrative organization
dence of significant participation by the population
accompanied the assault troops and planned to
in support of the enemy. In other words, the
occupy these provincial capitals and thereafter to
general uprising simply did not occur.
operate from them as the Liberation or Revolution-
To the contrary, following the Tet offensive,
ary Government. In Hue, the enemy announced
the Government showed a willingness to place
the formation of a Revolutionary Government and
arms for self-defense in the hands of civilian
the New Alliance for National Democratic and
inhabitants of cities, towns and hamlets-a will-
Peace Forces designed to attract the participation
ingness it had never previously exhibited in my
of anti-government, but non-Communist ele- experience. Although the fight was touch-and-go
ments. In each of these areas, the clandestine
in many places at the outset, no South Vietnamese
shadow government came out into the open and
military units were destroyed and their casualties
was largely destroyed.
were relatively low considering the heavy engage-
It is difficult to believe that the enemy would ments they fought.
have sacrificed these experienced and hard-core After a second flurry of attacks on 18 February,
cadres if he had not expected to succeed. There enemy activity fell ofi sharply, although enemy
is also some evidence, which has more recently forces remained in forward deployments around
become available, that the enemy tried seriously to the major cities and towns. These exposed forces
seize the border areas and particularly the northern continued to suffer heavy casualties. VC units had
two provinces with the massive forces of about six suffered the bulk of the casualties and this hastened
161
the process of turning the war into more of a North the III Corps area the Communists were resorting
Vietnamese affair. In October 1965 the North Viet- to committing raw replacements into combat as a
namese Army units had comprised about 25 per- group, controlled and led by the escort detachment
cent of the combat maneuver forces in the south; that had guided them south. Not only did enemy
but after the Tet and subsequent May offensive, lossessoar in this pathetic situation, but the enemy
that proportion increased to over 55 percent. In- began more and more to leave his dead and weap-
cluding North Vietnamese troops in Viet Cong ons on the battlefield, a sure sign of plummeting
units, the total percentage of North Vietnamese in combat effectiveness.
combat maneuver forces had reached approxi- The degradation in the quality of enemy troops
mately 70 percent by June 1968. was also reflected in the ratio of the enemy’s battle-
Following the abortion of his February attacks, field lossesto those of the South Vietnamese, U.S.,
the enemy attempted to resupply some of his forces and Free World forces. In 1966 the ratio of killed
by landing along the coast four trawlers loaded in action was 3.3 Communists to 1 of our side; in
with supplies, arms, and ammunition. The attempt 1967 it was 3.9 to 1; during the first half of 1968
was a disaster. U.S. and Vietnamese naval forces it rose to almost 6 to 1.
sank three of the trawlers. The fourth ship turned While attention was centered on Saigon and
back before it entered South Vietnam’s contiguous Hue, the enemy increased his pressure on the
waters. In view of our well-organized coastal sur- Marine base at Khe Sanh. Located astride an east-
veillance operations, this attempt to supply by sea west highway-Route g-the Khe Sanh plateau
was obviously a desperate measure. commands the approaches from the west to Dong
Having sustained severe losses under the new Ha and Quang Tri City and to the coastal corridor
tactics of a mobile war of decision, the Communists leading to Hue. Were we to relinquish the Khe
found themselves with a significant replacement Sanh area, the North Vietnamese would have had
problem. Even more than in the preceding year, an unobstructed invasion route into the two north-
they had to turn in 1968to North Vietnam for man- ernmost provinces from which they might outflank
power to fill their ranks-and the reservoir of our positions south of the Demilitarized Zone-
trained manpower in North Vietnam was fast positions which were blocking North Vietnamese
being depleted. The number of replacements in- attacks from the north.
filtrated from North Vietnam rose from fewer than Had we possessydgreater strength, the Khe Sanh
4,000 in December 1967 to approximately 23,000 Airfield and nearby security base would have been
in January 1968, followed by some 19,000 a month less critical. We would have preferred to operate in
until May when the number rose to approximately this area with mobile forces, as we had done at Dak
30,000. The average monthly infiltration for the To and elsewhere; but at the time we had neither
first half of 1968 was above 22,000. Most of these adequate troop resources in the north nor the logis-
were raw draftees who had received only rudimen- tical capacity to support them. In addition, another
tary training; many had not fired a weapon before critical factor had to be considered-the weather.
being recklessly thrown into combat. Poor visibility during the northeast monsoon in
For example, in October of 1967, 82 percent of January, February, and March, because of low
captured enemy prisoners revealed that they had clouds and persistent ground fog, made helicopter
served for more than six months; but by May of movement hazardous if not impossible much of
1968 only 40 percent had been in the North Viet- the time.
namese Army for that long and 50 percent had less Lacking sufficient forces to counteract the enemy
than three months total service, including the time buildup with ground attacks, we had only two
consumed in southward infiltration. By May in practical choices in regard to the Khe Sanh outpost:

162
to withdraw or to reinforce. Despite the importance In early January we had begun Operation NI-
of the outpost, there were strong arguments for AGARA I, an extensive reconnaissance program to
withdrawal. We were in the midst of the northeast obtain as much information as possible about the
monsoon with no prospect of relief from bad enemy. I reinforced the 3d Marine Division with
weather until the end of March. This posed major special reconnaissance teams. Valuable intelligence
problems for close air support and supply by air. was provided by a highly trained reconnaissance
Because Route 9 was closed from a combina- force of CIDG troops led by Vietnamese and U.S.
tion of enemy sabotage and heavy rains, Khe Special Forces officers and men. Therefore, in mid-
Sanh would have to be maintained entirely by air- January we were prepared to initiate the firepower
craft until the weather improved and we could phase, NIAGARA II, which was to continue until
open the highway. The enemy had the advantage late March. I instructed the Marines to dig in and
of a short line of communications from a big to confine their patrols to those required for local
logistical base he had built a few miles away across security. Restricted ground maneuver would per-
the border in Laos. Judging from the size of his mit us the free use of massive supporting firepower
buildup, and from his own statements, he was hop- without jeopardy to our troops and avoid risking
ing to achieve a military-political victory similar to the defeat of small elements by the larger enemy
the one 14 years earlier at Dien Bien Phu. forces in the area. The supporting bombardment-
On the other hand, adding to the importance of placed in close proximity to our troops-was deliv-
the Khe Sanh area from our viewpoint was the ered by Marine artillery on the Khe Sanh plateau,
enemy’s apparent determination to take it, which by 16 U.S. Army 175-mm guns that were posi-
meant that by holding it we might tie down large tioned so as to be in range, and by Marine, Air
North Vietnamese forces that otherwise would Force, and Navy tactical fighters. Farther from our
move against the populated areas. Furthermore, defensive perimeter, we used the B-52’s However,
with the availability of artillery support-which on several occasions we put the big bombs from
was not hindered by weather-and our extensive these planes within a thousand meters of Marine
capability for radar-controlled bombing, we were positions. The bombardment continued day and
assured of a high level of fire support. night. During this battle, I slept in my headquar-
The question was whether we could afford the ters next to the combat operations center and’per-
troops to reinforce, keep them supplied by air, and sonally decided where the B-52’s would strike. To
defeat an enemy far superior in numbers as we assist me in making these decisions, I met at least
waited for the weather to clear, built forward bases, twice daily with my intelligence and operations
and made other preparations for an overland relief officers.
expedition. I believed we could do all of those At the beginning of the battle, two battalions of
things. With the concurrence of the III Marine the U.S. 26th Marine Regiment held the position
Amphibious Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Robert E. at Khe Sanh, located by an airfield just outside the
Cushman, Jr., I made the decision to reinforce and village. The Marines flew in a third battalion from
hold the area while destroying the enemy with our that regiment on 16 January from Phu Bai. Five
massive firepower and to prepare for offensive op- days later the enemy attacked and overran the vil-
erations when the weather became favorable. Be- lage of Khe Sanh, prompting our troops there and
cause of our prior planning, we were able to solve the villagers to withdraw to our defensive base near
the logistical problems in the north even during the airfield. The same day, the base itself and our
the height of the northeast monsoon. Ports, ramps, outpost to the northwest on Hill 861 came under
airfields, and roads were opened and put into use attack. From that time, this hill outpost and three
in record time. others on Hills 558, 881 South, and 950 were re-

163
supplied, when possible, exclusively by helicopter. gether with the Vietnamese Ranger battalion, re-
On the 22d the base was further reinforced with sisted and threw back all attacks. On 23 February
the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, from Gio alone the base received 1,307 rounds of mortar,
Linh and four days later I persuaded the Viet- rocket, and artillery fire ; but the enemy never pene-
namese to reinforce with a Ranger battalion (the trated beyond the barbed wire at the base’s outer
37th) and to prepare to reinforce later with a sec- perimeter.
ond Ranger battalion if required. The 37th Ranger As the northeast monsoon waned, on 1 April
Battalion was deployed from the vicinity of Phu we launched Operation PEGASUS-LAM SON
Lot. All together we had near the airstrip three 207 to reestablish land contact with Khe Sanh.
Marine battalions, an ARVN Ranger battalion, Employing airmobile tactics, elements of the 1st
and a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment to- Cavalry Division and three ARVN airborne bat-
gether with a Civilian Irregular Defense Group talions seized commanding positions to the east
company, and the vital aircraft-control radar de- and south of Khe Sanh while U.S. Marines drove
tachments of the U.S. Air Force. Since the airstrip west from a base at Ca Lu along Route 9, clearing
with its ground control devices was our lifeiine, it and repairing the road as they went. As the Marines
had to be secured. A battalion and a reinforced neared the Khe Sanh base, the 26th Marines at-
company of Marines occupied the hilltop outposts. tacked from the base and linked up with the caval-
These allied forces faced an estimated two North rvmen. None of our troops met much resistance,
Vietnamese Army divisions, some 15,000 to 20,000 but they found ample evidence of the destruction
strong, and one more enemy division within strik- our firepower had wrought, including over a thou-
ing distance of our positions. sand enemy dead and large quantities of abandoned
On 6 February concentrated artillery fire struck supplies and equipment.
both the base at Khe Sanh and the Lang Vei Spe- As the battle raged in February and early March
cial Forces camp, a few miles to the southwest. emergency reinforcement plans for Vietnam were
During the night elements of the North Viet- developed by the MACV staff in close coordina-
namese 66th Regiment, 304th Division, attacked tion with the CINCPAC staff and the joint staff of
Lang Vei, employing heavy artillery, flamethrow- the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a matter of military
ers, mortars, and 9 Soviet PT-76 tanks (the Com- prudence in the face of uncertainties regarding
munists’ first use of tanks in South Vietnam). In North Vietnamese intentions and capabilities in
the face of overwhelming odds, most of the Special the northern area and the ability of the South Viet-
Forces and CIDG troops manning the camp fell namese to regain the initiative, I asked that
back on the base at Khe Sanh. A few who held were additional forces be prepared for deployment.
soon trapped. The next day I directed a raid to However, by the end of March, the uncertainty
retrieve the surrounded men. Under cover of ar- surrounding the Tet offensive had abated. The
tillery and air strikes, a rescue force of 10 U.S. Spe- enemy had committed a major share of his forces
cial Forces soldiers and 40 CIDG troops landed by and had been severely defeated, the government
Marine helicopter within a thousand yards of the of Vietnam had held firm, South Vietnamese
camp and launched a ground attack to relieve the troops in general had fought well, and there had
remaining defenders. When the rescuers were been no public uprising. Further, the government
within 200 yards of the camp, the defenders broke of Vietnam had issued a national mobilization
out and joined the attackers. Helicopters evacuated decree on 24 October 1967 which, although delayed
the entire group. in implementation, was to have become effective
During an 11-week period of heavy enemy bom- on 1 January 1968. On 9 February 1968 the Viet-
bardment, the Marine garrison at Khe Sanh, to- namese general assembly gave approval to the gov-

164
ernment’s accelerated mobilization plan based on ing to concentrate against Hue. Many arms,
this decree. Thus, greatly increased military and ammunition, and rice caches were located. The cor-
pacification forces seemed in prospect. don and search and night operations by the 1Olst
Therefore, major additional U.S. forces were not Airborne Division were particularly effective. Our
required, but a decision was made to deploy 13,500 troops performed magnificently in extremely
troops to provide necessary combat support and rugged terrain.
combat service support for the newly arrived 27th After the linkup at Khe Sanh, I asked that the
Marine Regimental Landing Team and 3d Brigade Provisional Corps-which I had introduced to
of the 82d Airborne Division that I had requested assist in controlling the increased strength in the
and received in February. The approval of this I Corps-make a study of possible redistribution of
deployment raised our manpower authorization troops during the good weather of the next several
to 549,500. In addition, I received authority to hire months with emphasis on the Khe Sanh area and
13,035 additional local civilians to augment selec- . the DMZ. Lt. Gen. William B. Rosson, who com-
tive logistic and construction units and thereby manded the corps, and General Cushman, Com-
offset the need for additional U.S. military man- manding General, III Marine Amphibious Force,
power. When it became known that the 27th Regi- subsequently recommended that the Khe Sanh
mental Landing Team had to return to the United base and airfield be abandoned and destroyed but
States, I requested as a replacement a brigade of that the Khe Sanh plateau, because of its tactical
the 5th Mechanized Division, consisting of one importance, be defended by airmobile troops sup-
infantry battalion, one mechanized battalion, and ported from the new airfield and logistic base con-
one armored battalion. I asked for this highly structed by the 1st Cavalry Division at Ca Lu dur-
mobile unit to operate in the coastal areas of Quang ing Operation PEGASUS.
Tri and Thua Thien Provinces and in the area We now had greater flexibility because of the
south of the Demilitarized Zone. forward base at nearby Ca Lu, improved logistics
Meanwhile, to prevent the enemy from massing in the northern area of the I Corps (and particu-
to launch further attacks in the vicinity of Hue larly just below the Demilitarized Zone), addi-
and to take advantage of the short period of good tional troops in the northern part of the I Corps,
weather in the region, we rapidly shifted the and greater availability of helicopters in the north.
forces operating on the Khe Sanh plateau and Of particular importance, we now had weather
mounted a reconnaissance in force into the A Shau that would permit routine use of helicopters for
Valley in westernmost Thua Thien Province. Our supply, as opposed to fixed wing aircraft dependent
objective was the large logistics complex the North upon larger airfields. I approved the plan advanced
Vietnamese had been building since overrunning by Generals Rosson and Cushman in principle but
our Special Forces camp at the head of the valley deferred placing it into effect until the A Shau
in March of 1966. On 19 April two brigades of the operation was completed and additional troops
1st Cavalry Division and an ARVN infantry regi- could again be deployed to the Khe Sanh plateau
ment conducted an airmobile assault into the val- where they could consume the supplies stockpiled
ley. At the same time, the 1Olst Airborne Division, near the airfield. Furthermore, since I was sched-
in conjunction with the ARVN 1st Division and an uled to depart in a matter of weeks, I deferred
ARVN airborne task force, conducted extensive the final decision to my successor.
clearing operations around Hue and along High- With respect to the DMZ, commanders on the
way 547 leading to Hue from the A Shau Valley. ground recommended modifications in the strong
This operation quickly turned into a counteroffen- point obstacle system because the enemy’s artillery
sive against the enemy forces which were attempt- and rocket fire had been so intense that the con-

165
struction of the originally planned physical ob- high level of experience we had built up over the
stacles was not feasible. I approved a modified preceding three years. The operations ranged from
concept in principle but directed that a detailed the reconnaissance in force into the A Shau Valley
plan be developed and presented for final decision. to further forays by the Mobile Riverine Force in
In March, far to the south, Vietnamese Army the Delta. In the III Corps, on 8 April, we launched
units joined with elements of our lst, 9th, and 25th a combined U.S.-ARVN campaign (TOAN
Divisions in Operation QUYET THANG (Re- THANG, or Complete Victory) employing 79 ma-
solve to Win). Scouring the Capital Military neuver battalions, 42 U.S., and 37 Vietnamese. It
District and six surrounding provinces, the com- was a highly decentralized operation since it con-
bined force accounted for over 2,600 enemy killed sisted primarily of small search operations during
and captured many arms caches during less than the day and many ambushes at night, a continua-
a month of operations. Again, numerous patrols tion of our persistent security operations aimed at
and ambushes paid off for us. local forces, guerrillas, and infrastructure. When
In the IV Corps in March we launched Oper- the operation came to a close on 31 May, the count
ation PEOPLE’S ROAD, aimed at reestablishing of enemy killed had reached 7,600. Even more im-
security and improving the condition of Route 4 portant, the operation had gone a long way
from the III Corps boundary southward through toward disrupting Communist plans for a second-
Dinh Tuong Province to the Mekong River be- wave attack on Saigon.
fore the southeast monsoon. Both security and In March and April the enemy replaced the bulk
maintenance had suffered since the Tet offensive. of his losses with North Vietnamese fillers and in
While the 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, pro- May mounted the second major offensive of the
vided security, two U.S. Army engineer companies year, timed to coincide with the opening of nego-
made road and bridge repairs to include widening tiations in Paris. This second offensive was to have
and surfacing the roadway. At the same time I in- been a slightly scaled down model of the Tet
sisted that the Vietnamese develop plans to assume attack. However, it aborted badly in two important
complete responsibility for securing and maintain- areas. The force which intended to attack Hue
ing this vital route. To this end, the Vietnamese and nearby I Corps cities simply never got under-
proceeded to organize and train ten new Regional way. North of the Hai Van pass the U.S. Army’s
Force companies. By the end of June the operation 1st Cavalry and 1Olst Airborne Divisions had
was proceeding on schedule toward a planned joined the 3d Marine Division in the Provisional
completion date in the first part of August. Corps. These very aggressive forces anticipated the
The 9th Division as a whole, but the 1st Brigade attack and spoiled the enemy’s plans.
in particular, operated with great success and the The North Vietnamese had also planned to
highest professional competence in the southern mount a major offensive in the Pleiku and Kon-
approaches to Saigon for a number of months, turn area with forces of their so-called B-3 Front,
destroying or decimating battalion after battalion which maintained its headquarters in adjacent
of enemy troops. They developed to a fine point Cambodia. The actions of the 4th Infantry Divi-
the exploitation of intelligence followed by large sion and reinforcements from the 173d Airborne
and sustained cordons. Brigade, plus the massive use of B-52 strikes,
Beginning in April U.S., Free World, and South caused the enemy to abandon his plans in this area
Vietnamese forces everywhere moved to the of- and to withdraw into Cambodia.
fensive. Having met the challenge of the Tet oilfen- However, the main attack occurred again in the
sive and the siege of Khe Sanh, we were prepared Saigon area. In an effort to achieve better coordi-
to exploit fully the dominant military position and nation than he had managed in the Tet offensive,

166
the enemy relaxed the tight security measures he gain to influence discussions between the U.S. and
had employed in January and disseminated widely North Vietnam that had begun in Paris.
his May attack plans. Some of these plans fell into In only one instance, in the vicinity of the “Y”
our hands and aided us in disposing our forces to Bridge over the Kinh Doi Canal along the south-
meet the attacks. Our troops around Saigon were ern edge of the city, did a force of any appreciable
particularly well situated for blocking the enemy’s size manage to get into the outskirts of the city.
approach. Aggressive patrols and ambushes inter- The eventual outcome of the fighting was as inevi-
cepted and disrupted many of his units. By moving table there as elsewhere, but the Communists with
at night and approaching through jungles and their usual tenacity forced a fight continuing for
swamps, the enemy was nevertheless able to bring several days before the last elements were elim-
units close to the capital before being detected. inated. By 13 May all attempts to infiltrate the city
Of the large force intended to attack Tan Son had ceased. Although the fighting soon flickered
Nhut Airbase, less than one battalion reached the out, enemy troops continued for several weeks to
defensive perimeter. South Vietnamese units emerge from hiding and surrender. Most of these
quickly drove off this force and then destroyed it were North Vietnamese.
in the nearby French cemetery. Otherwise, only Earlier, on 10 May, a North Vietnamese battal-
small units survived to reach Saigon, principally ion struck far to the north in the western portion
from the west, and most of those were destroyed of Quang Tin Province at a CIDG base serving as
as they approached the outskirts. an outpost for a Special Forces camp at Kham Due.
As in February, the enemy employed artillery- Badly outnumbered, the CIDG tribesmen, rein-
type rockets in this attack. This prompted me to forced by a U.S. Marine artillery battery, withdrew
direct that the bulk of the metal observation towers after almost 12 hours of heavy fighting. Since the
we were constructing at Cam Ranh Bay be moved Special Forces camp itself was apparently destined
to Saigon, where they served a timely purpose in for attack, General Cushman of the III Marine
enabling us to spot enemy weapons and direct Amphibious Force strengthened the defenders
counterfire. with a reinforced battalion of the America1 Divi-
sion. One infantry company moved by helicopter
After a brief lull, the Communists launched
from a position near Chu Lai and a battalion of
another strike at Saigon on 7 May. This time the
the 196th Light Infantry Brigade with a battery of
attack had no apparent military objective but was
artillery moved by C-130 aircraft from Quang Tri
instead mounted strictly for political and psycho-
airfield.
logical gain. For the most part, the Communists
Before daylight on 12 May the North Vietnam-
infiltrated small guerrilla bands and dispersed
ese struck in regimental strength supported by
them over a wide area, primarily in the Cholon
rockets and mortars. The enemy overran our out-
sector. Groups of four or five men holed up in
posts on the surrounding high ground, thereby
buildings and fought suicidally against Vietnamese
gaining commanding positions. General Cushman,
police and soldiers, who gradually rooted them out
with my approval, decided to evacuate the remote
position by position. A few platoon-sized elements
border post. During that afternoon planes and
launched small but violent attacks, employing large
helicopters successfully evacuated our troops and
volumes of random small arms fire. In a number of
Vietnamese dependents, but one C-130 aircraft was
places the enemy deliberately set fires. The objec-
shot down with 150 Vietnamese passengers aboard,
tive clearly was to try to establish an impression of
mostly civilian dependents of the Vietnamese
“Saigon under siege,” create terror, destruction, and garrison.
refugees to overburden and embarrass the govern- Enemy pressure and the speed of evacuation
ment, and achieve propaganda and psychological made it necessary to abandon and destroy large

167

- ___
quantities of the unit’s equipment and facilities of division commander, who defected on 19 April,
the camp. Over a period of several days-before, and that of Lt. Col. Phan Viet Dung, commander
during, and after the evacuation-our total B-52 of the North Vietnamese 165th Regiment, on 8
capability pounded enemy-held areas and suspected May. Dac saw the war as an impossible struggle
enemy locations, but marginal weather prevented which North Vietnam could not hope to win.
assessment of the effectiveness of these massive Allied operations as far back as Operation JUNC-
strikes. TION CITY had convinced him of the hopeless-
Also in May, after digesting the experiences of ness of the Communist cause. Colonel Dac was
Tet, the enemy issued COSVN Resolution #6. further discouraged when he attempted to fulfill
The enemy’s own statement of his strategic goals his assigned task of contacting the Viet Cong polit-
is interesting: ical infrastructure to coordinate support for the
The Army and people as a whole must enemy’s May attack. He found the infrastructure so
resolutely march forward and engage in decimated that he could not perform his mission.
u spontaneous uprising to drive out the Colonel Dung was no less emphatic. The situation
Americans, overthrow the puppet regime, was militarily hopeless, he told us, and continued
and turn over the reins of the Government fighting had no part in solving Vietnam’s prob-
to the people. lems. The senselessmanner in which North Viet-
nam was prosecuting the war had caused him to
Create conditions for Pacifist move- question the rightness of the cause.
men’ts in the U.S.A. to expand, and the
Increasing numbers of lower ranking officers, in-
doves to assail the hawks, thus forcing the
cluding several unit surgeons, also surrendered. In
U.S.A. to radically change its VN policy.
each case, their rationale was much the same: the
In their concerted drive to achieve these goals, North Vietnamese could not win; still they were
the Communists had lost an estimated 120,000men squandering the lives of their soldiers in hopeless
during the first six months of 1968. These losses attacks against unimportant yet unattainable ob-
were over one-half of their strength at the begin- jectives for the sole purpose of creating the impres-
ning of the year-or enough men to make more sion of military strength. An experienced battalion
than 12 Communist divisions. commander who surrendered in the outskirts of
Also during the first half of 1968 the enemy lost Saigon in May stated that he could no longer lead
some 37,000 small arms and crew-served weapons, men to certain death in illogical, futile attacks
enough to arm almost six of his divisions. The 180 against inconsequential objectives-attacks which
tons of equipment we captured during the six- North Vietnam was ordering in order to provide a
month period would have outfitted an enemy divi- fulcrum for her diplomats in Paris.
sion operating in South Vietnam; the 856 tons of Group surrenders began in May and continued
ammunition would have supported this division in at an increasing rate through June. The first took
combat for over five years; and the 2,841 tons of place on 1 May in Thua Thien Province when 95
food we seized would have fed the same division enemy surrendered to troops of the 10lst Airborne
for almost a year and a half. Division. On 4 June, 64 enemy (21 of whom were
By late spring even the enemy’s hard-core cadre North Vietnamese) surrendered to a South Viet-
had begun to show signs of disillusionment, and namese unit in the same area, bringing most of
for the first time a number of high level defections their weapons with them. On 9 June the first or-
occurred. Particularly noteworthy were the defec- ganized group, a unit of 31 men led by their com-
tions of Lt. Col. Tram Van Dac, a political officer mander, surrendered near Saigon in Gia Dinh
whose responsibilities were equivalent to those of a Province. Members of the Viet Cong 308th Main

68
Force and 6th Local Force Battalions volunteered in mid-August when General Abrams was in com-
that they surrendered becausethey knew they could mand, was even less productive than previous ef-
not win. Small groups of men continued to give forts. The enemy achieved none of his ofiensive
up during the month, the largest a 141-man com- goals in Vietnam. Indiscriminate mortar and
pany of the VC Quyet Thang Regiment that sur- rocket attacks on populated centers and costly at-
rendered with weapons just north of Saigon on tacks on remote outposts were all he could show
18-19 June after absorbing a sound defeat from for his highly propagandized military efforts. The
two Vietnamese Marine battalions. Aside from Tet offensive had the effect of a “Pearl Harbor”;
affording a commentary on the enemy’s morale, the South Vietnamese government was intact and
the group surrenders pointed up the increased stronger; the armed forces were larger, more eff ec-
aggressiveness and effectiveness of South Viet- tive, and more confident; the people had rejected
namese units. the idea of a general uprising; and enemy forces,
As I left Vietnam in June the enemy was prepar- particularly those of the Viet Gong, were much
ing for another attack. This attack, which occurred weaker.

69
OBSERVATIONS-1968
Political Effects of the TET Oflensive National Assembly) provided a realistic mobiliza-
tion program, thus insuring an adequate supply of
If imposing hardship on the civilian population manpower for the Vietnamese forces in the uncer-
was an objective of the enemy’s Tet attacks, he tain times ahead. In March 1%year-olds became
was eminently successful. All of the larger cities eligible for the draft, followed on 1 May by l&year-
and towns suffered extensive damage to homes, olds. The false starts at mobilizing manpower in
markets, and public buildings. By the first of previous years were partly due to the weak and
March the fighting had created 800,000 evacuees, unstable nature of the central government. But in
with over a third of these concentrated in and this critical time, the Tet offensive had further
near Saigon. The widespread withdrawal of Viet- crystallized support for an already strengthened
namese security forces from the countryside to de- and stabilized government. This solidifying effect
fend the cities and towns-and the hardships the of Tet was, in my estimation, the single develop-
populace suffered at the hands of the enemy-dealt ment which enabled the mobilization program to
our pacification program a substantial setback. The be successful. A marked wave of voluntary enlist-
pacification program did not regain its pre-Tet ments after Tet, together with the expanded draft,
scope and effectiveness until the middle of 1968. produced an increase of 122,000 in the Vietnamese
South Vietnamese Military Progress Armed Forces during the first half of 1968.
During Tet we detected a serious weakness in the
During the enemy’s Tet offensive and our own South Vietnamese command organization, one
counterattacks that followed, the Vietnamese which hampered coordination and control of
Armed Forces demonstrated their improved effec- forces in the important capital area. The com-
tiveness and morale-improvement we saw as the mander of III Corps held basic military responsi-
tangible product of our years of effort. Their com- bility for Saigon and its environs, yet the National
bat techniques and employment of supporting fires Police, who bore responsibility for security of the
were excellent. Effective leadership emerged at all city, were separately organized and under control
levels. The Battalion Commander’s School, Com- of the Chief of National Police. During the Tet
mand and General Staff College, improved basic offensive, General Vien, the Chief of the Joint Gen-
training centers, good technical schools, and the eral Staff, had assumed command of all Viet-
indoctrination program to prepare the Vietnamese namese forces, including the National Police,
- soldier for Revolutionary Development and civic within the Capital Military District.
action, all paid off at Tet. The Vietnamese Army The Vietnamese had not yet solved this relation-
stood fast-fought back-and came of age. The ship problem when the later attacks came in May,
weapons modernization program had been so we were forced once again to use an expedient.
especially effective-the combat performance of This time the III Corps commander, instead of the
Vietnamese units equipped with the Ml6 was out- Chief of the Joint General Staff, took command of
standing. With this gratifying performance in all the military and police forces protecting the
mind, I requested that modernization programs city. This expedient worked somewhat better but
for the Vietnamese Army be accelerated. the Vietnamese needed a permanent reorganiza-
The manpower problem that had long plagued tion to insure the necessary planning and coordina-
the Vietnamese Armed Forces was gradually being tion between the police and military forces.
resolved. President Thieu’s general mobilization Since March I had persistently recommended
decree (supported with minor modification by the that the Vietnamese authorities appoint a combat-

170
worthy general officer to be permanent Military greatly improved, with particular attention being
Governor of the Capital Military District. Internal paid to security and fighting in the cities. The pro-
political considerations prevented action on this gram for arming the Vietnamese forces with
recommendation until late May, when the Viet- modern weapons and equipment had progressed
namese government boldly shifted a number of rapidly in the prior six months and continued on
senior officials. These changes cleared the way and schedule. Good military leadership began to
in June, the government designated General Minh, emerge; leaders in all grades exhibited a promising
the excellent combat commander of the ARVN independence and a continuous quest for
21st Division in the Delta, as the Military Governor responsibility.
of the Capital Military District. Operating under
the III Corps commander, he controlled all Viet- Firepower
namese Army, General Reserve, Regional and
The key to our success at Khe Sanh was fire-
Popular Forces, National Police, and Military
power, principally aerial firepower. For 77 days
Police in the district.
Air Force, Navy, and Marine aircraft provided
A post of U.S. Senior Advisor to the Military round-the-clock, close-in support to the defending
Governor was created to parallel this significant garrison and were controlled by airborne Forward
organizational realignment by the Vietnamese. Air Controllers or ground-based radar. Between
Th e general offi cer filling this post operated under 22 January and 31 March tactical aircraft flew an
II Field Force and exercised operational control of average of 300 sorties daily, close to one every five
all U.S. advisors and forces involved in the security minutes, and expended 35,000 tons of bombs and
of the Capital Military District. rockets. At the same time, increasing numbers of
These two closely coordinated commands mus- the Strategic Air Command’s B-52’s were demon-
tered an impressive force. On the Vietnamese side, strating their devastating ability to neutralize a
there were 16 regular ARVN battalions, four Re- large area. The B-52’s flew 2,602 sorties and
gional Force battalions, 26 separate Regional Force dropped over 75,000 tons of bombs during the
companies, 144 Popular Force platoons, and all siege and were instrumental in preventing the en-
the National Police in the area. U.S. forces con- emy from assembling in large formations. Marine
sisted of a mechanized battalion, an armored cav- and Army artillery fires supplemented this awe-
alry troop, an air cavalry troop, and other U.S. some quantity of aerial firepower. Marine howitz-
reinforcements available on short notice. ers within the combat base and sixteen Army
The accomplishments of our overall advisory long-range 175-mm artillery pieces located to the
effort reflected in a sense the degree of political east fired over 100,000rounds into the area during
stability of the Vietnamese government. I have the siege, or nearly 1,500 shells per day.
traced our slow progress in the early years. How- This tremendous firepower prevented the two
ever, in 1966, as political stability increased, our NVA divisions directly confronting Khe Sanh and
advisory program gained momentum. By 1967 we a third in the immediate area from massing their
were able to project a comprehensive development forces to mount a major attack. Their supplies were
program for a Vietnamese Army of such size, destroyed, their troop formations shattered, and
quality, and balance that it could progressively their antiaircraft fire rendered ineffective. The ef-
assume a greater share of the fighting. The Viet- fect of our firepower upon the enemy’s plans was
namese Army’s successes against the foe’s Tet dramatically demonstrated on 5 February when an
attacks created a new sense of confidence. The na- enemy regiment attempted to launch an attack
tional mobilization program was filling the ranks against a small Marine outpost on Hill 881 South.
and easing the Army’s expansion. Training had Our sensor devices detected the enemy unit as it

171
moved forward to mount the attack. This informa- low clouds, fog, and the poor visibility of the mon-
tion and our knowledge of enemy doctrine en- soon season, Marine and Seventh Air Force crews
abled us to locate accurately his staging areas and between 21 January and 8 April delivered about
approach routes. As a consequence, just as the 13,000 tons of supplies to the isolated outpost. Ap-
North Vietnamese completed their preparations proximately 65 percent of this tonnage was de-
and approached Hill 881, we struck them with a livered by parachute from C-130 “Hercules” and
devastating air and artillery attack, killing or C-123 “Provider” aircraft. In all, there were 679
wounding large numbers of the 3,000-man force, parachute drops of supplies. Our airdrops were
scattering its units, and defeating the attack extremely accurate, chiefly due to an effective
before it reached the jump-off position. ground control station at the airstrip and the skill
of the air crews. Fortunately, we had the trained
Logistics parachute riggers, air crews, and ground control
teams to make accurate parachute delivery of sup-
As the fighting became heavier in the north, we
plies and personnel. In addition, 455 aircraft landed
realized how provident had been our logistical ex-
on the Khe Sanh airstrip, many after the enemy
pansion along the northern coastal and river areas
had moved mortars and automatic weapons within
in 1967-particularly at Tan My east of Hue and
range of the strip. During the first four months
the development of the Cua Viet channel and port
of the year three fixed-wing aircraft and two heli-
facilities at Dong Ha. We were utterly dependent
copters were destroyed by the enemy, and 49
upon the sea logistical line. The enemy, recog-
helicopters were damaged in the Khe Sanh area.
nizing this, consistently attacked our supply con-
At no time during the siege did the defenders ex-
voys and off-loading facilities, particularly along
perience a serious supply shortage.
the Cua Viet, an estuary leading to Dong Ha.
Tactical sweeps along the banks of the estuary by Organization
Marine and Army units and operations by some of
the U.S. Navy’s patrol and armored boats brought I responded to the command and control prob-
north from the Delta kept this tenuous line of lems created by our buildup and the intensified
communication open. action in I Corps area by opening a temporary
To the south of the Cua Viet in Quang Tri headquarters known as MACV Forward. This
Province, the U.S. Army’s 159th Transportation forward headquarters was originally designed as
Battalion (Terminal) in .Mirch established an a control element to supervise the combat force
over-the-beach off -loading point, designated Wun- and logistical buildup in the area. Once MACV
der Beach, and the U.S. 14th Combat Engineer Forward became fully operational and established
Battalion constructed a connecting road to Route with adequate communication and staff support it
1. These facilities relieved the pressure of the in- would be converted to a tactical corps headquarters.
creased volume of supplies passing through Hue Prior to that conversion, General Abrams, my
and the Cua Viet. With the addition of Wunder deputy, operated from MACV Forward and exer-
Beach the logistical improvements we had made cised control in my name over the deployment of
in the previous twelve months increased tenfold all joint combat and logistical forces involved-
our seaborne cargo capability in northern I Corps. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine.
The resupply of Khe Sanh stands as the premier On 10 March I converted MACV Forward to a
air logistical feat of the war. This feat was made corps headquarters and simultaneously created the
possible because of plans prepared for just such a Provisional Corps, Vietnam, (later to be desig-
contingency and troops made available in our pro- nated the U.S. Army XXIV Corps) commanded
grammed and balanced force structure. Despite by General Rosson. The Provisional Corps func-

I72

--
tioned under the operational control of the III Civic Action and Pacification
Marine Amphibious Force, with General Rosson
exercising operational control over the 3d Marine During early May General Vien, my counter-
Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 10lst Airborne Di- part, and I conceived a project to bring relief to
vision, and assigned corps troops. The new corps Saigon inhabitants left homeless by the fighting
also worked closely with the ARVN 1st Division and the enemy’s destructive tactics. After discus-
in the area. sions with President Thieu and Ambassador
Bunker, the project was initiated on 20 May. The
As operations in the north expanded, I found it
operation known as DONG TAM (United Hearts
essential to make an important adjustment in the
and Minds), was the largest civic action program
tactical aircraft control system in I Corps. The
to date. U.S. Army engineers, detachments from
complex intermixture of U.S. Army, U.S. Marine,
Navy Construction Battalions (Seabees), Air Force
and Vietnamese ground forces had progressively
construction troops, and Vietnamese Army engi-
complicated coordination and concentration of this
neers working with the people cleared the rubble,
indispensable air support provided by U.S. Air
established ten housing areas, and built some 1,500
Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and Viet-
family housing units complete with utilities and
namese Air Force tactical aircraft in addition to the
interior roads. The construction units were sup-
B-52’s of the 3d Air Division of the Strategic Air
ported by medical civic action teams and psycho-
Command. In an effort to alleviate the problem,
logical warfare teams that explained the project
I introduced the concept of a “single manager” for
to the people. By the end of June Operation DONG
tactical air. This action had the full approval of the
TAM was well advanced with completion sched-
Commander in Chief, Pacific. On 8 March my
uled in September. The interest and concern for
Deputy Commander for Air Operations assumed
operational authority over all strike aircraft. My the civilian population manifested by the Viet-
objective was to develop procedures that would namese Armed Forces was a significant and grati-
combine into a single system the best features of fying aspect of this program.
both the Air Force and Marine tactical air support At the time of my departure, the pacification ef-
systems, and thereby provide more flexible, effec- fort was progressing under the able direction of
tive, and responsive aerial firepower support for our Ambassador Komer. Since MACV assumed re-
ground forces. sponsibility for the program in mid-1967, I believe
we have aided the Vietnamese in adopting some
Intelligence simpler but more effective pacification procedures.
An organized, countrywide attack on the Viet
Many of the enemy rallying to the government’s
Cong infrastructure was proceeding to eliminate
side provided valuable intelligence and frequently
the Communist subversive threat. Such a cam-
led our troops to arms caches and VC installations.
paign against the infrastructure would have prom-
Others served on propaganda teams working to
encourage their former comrades to defect. Some ised little chance of success had we not dealt the
defectors served with Revolutionary Development enemy such heavy military blows during the earlier
cadres. Beginning in 1966 the U.S. Marines in I years and in the Tet offensive. The various political
Corps employed the ralliers as scouts-called “Kit and military elements of the enemy’s organization
Carso,n Scouts” after the American Indian fighter- were so interwoven and mutually reinforcing that
and found them to be so effective that I encour- the political structure stood relatively inviolate
aged all American units in the country to adopt until its military security was stripped away and
the practice. By mid-1968 more than 700 former defeated. Our increasingly successful military
VC were serving as scouts for our troops. operations in the past three years had left the

173
infrastructure more exposed and more susceptible part of South Vietnam to the enemy. For this
to elimination. reason we reinforced north of the Hai Van pass
both before and after Tet. After the Tet offensive
Combat Force Dispositions started, we increased the forces in the northern
two provinces, but it was not necessary to make any
A number of considerations determine the dis-
wholesale shifts of units from one corps area to
position of allied forces at any give time. First and
another. The additional units deployed from the
foremost is the continuing requirement to provide
United States gave us the necessary flexibility.
security for government centers and for the major
In the II Corps area, we were able to practice
population concentrations. To the extent that
some economy of force, as the enemy had been
Vietnamese forces of all types could fulfill this re-
progressively weakened over a long period of time.
quirement, U.S. forces could be used offensively.
In the III and IV Corps, our forces moved closer
Secondly, our dispositions were necessarily adjusted
to the populated areas since the enemy remained
to the location and level of activity of major enemy
exposed in forward positions until after his abor-
forces. For obvious reasons, I wanted to engage
tive May offensive.
enemy forces as far as possible from populated
The following maps and charts illustrate the
areas. Except for the cities and towns, the areas
gradual changes from late January, just prior to
of high population density, and certain invasion
Tet, to mid-June. The mid-March illustration
or infiltration corridors, terrain as such was of
depicts the situation at the height of the battle of
only temporary tactical importance. This was un-
Khe Sanh.
like the situation in wars of the past.
For each of these three dates, field locations of
In early 1968-before Tet-the vast bulk of the
all allied combat battalions are shown. This por-
total allied force was in or near the heavily popu-
trayal understates the total numbers of forces of all
lated areas. However, the Demilitarized Zone area
kinds in the populated areas. More than 95,000
presented a major exception. Enemy activity
Regional Force and almost 140,000 Popular Force
around the DMZ had, by early 1968, increased to
troops are not shown. Nor do these charts depict
such a level that we were faced with a major inva-
the Vietnamese police forces, Revolutionary Devel-
sion, For example, three North Vietnamese divi-
opment cadres, Provincial Reconnaissance Units,
sions were on or near the Khe Sanh plateau and
and People’s Self-Defense Forces. The total
over three more were operating from the DMZ
strength of all of these paramilitary forces exceeded
to the vicinity of Hue. If we had not engaged these
300,000. In addition to these Vietnamese forces, the
very large enemy concentrations in the relatively
maps and bar charts do not include the significant
remote northern area, we would have had to fight
U.S. and allied support organizations and fixed
them in other, perhaps more populated, regions
bases,most of which are located close to population
of South Vietnam or face the distinct likelihood centers.
that the two northernmost provinces-Quang Tri Although the battalions reflected in the bar
and Thua Thien-would be lost to the North Viet- charts are not of equal size, these charts show the
namese forces. We now have intelligence indicat- ratio, by corps areas, between enemy and allied
ing that the enemy was, in fact, readying a combat battalions. The maps portray the manner
“liberation government” for these provinces. in which allied forces were disposed throughout
It was politically unacceptable to surrender any the period.

174
SEQUENCE OF ILLUSTRATIONS
DEPICTING COMBAT FORCE
DISPOSITIONS

Page
1. Opposing Maneuver Battalions by Corps Tactical Zone as of 25 Jan 68 176
2. Allied Combat Battalions Locations as of 25 Jan 68 177
3. Opposing Maneuver Battalions by Corps Tactical Zone as of 13 Mar 68 178
4. Allied Combat Battalions Locations as of 13 Mar 68 179
5. Opposing Maneuver Battalions by Corps Tactical Zone as of 19 Jun 68 180
6. Allied Combat Battalions Locations as of 19 Jun 68 181

175
OPPOSING MANEUVER BATTALIONS BY CORPS TACTICAL ZONE
As of 25 Jan 68

93

39
65

us 56
38

NVA
46 18

27

I CTZ n: CTZ III CTZ Ip CTZ

us - 97
NVA - 99 FW - 26
vc - 98 RVNAF - 158

Total 197 Tota I 281

NOTE:
1. I I lustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples
Self Defense forces , most of which are located in the densely populated areas.
2. No adjustment has been made to compensate for the fact that US battalions are considerably larger
than ARVN,VC, and NVA battalions.

176
LAOS

LEGEND
q KONTUM

“.::.: MORE THAN 150 PERSONS


,,.. .,
I :. PER SQUARE MILE

SPARSELY POPULATED
cl

ONE ALLIED COMBAT


0
MANEUVER BATTALION

& 0 BAN ME THUOT

CAMBODIA
ANG

0 BAO LOC

a CAN THO ,

ALLIEDCOMBATBATTALIONS
LOCATIONS
AS OF 25 JANUARY1968

NOTE:
I Ilustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and
Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples Self Defense
forces, most of which are located in the densely populated areas.

177
OPPOSING MANEUVER BATTALIONS BY CORPS TACTICAL ZONE
AS of 13 Mar 68

92
89

76
32

us
54 60

i 4

r15
NVA 48
56 45

30

I CTZ IICTZ III CTZ TSKTZ

us - 107
NVA - 101 Fw - 26
vc - 89 RVNAF - 155

Total 190 -1 Total 288 I

NOTE:
1. I I lustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples
Self Defense Forces, most of which are located in the densely populated areas.
2. No adjustment has been made to compensate for the fact that US battalions are considerably larger
than ARVN, VC, and NVA battalions. Nor does this chart reflect the fact that VC and NVA battalions
grew progressively smaller during this period as losses were not replaced promptly.

178
LAOS

LEGEND
q t$ONTUM
:.’ ‘,, MORE THAN 150 PERSONS
::I . .
t PER SQUARE MILE

0 PLEIKU
SPARSELY POPULATED
I

ONE ALLIED COMBAT


MANEUVER BATTALION

0 BAN ME
CAMBODIA

&j DA LAT

c) BAO LOC

ALLIEDCOMBATBATTALIONS
LOCATIONS

Illustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and


Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples Self Defense
forces, most of which are located in the densely populated areas.
OPPOSING MANEUVER BATTALIONS BY CORPS TACTICAL ZONE
As of 19 Jun 68

92 93

76

64

55
18
NVA
58
20

18
FW4

I CTZ II CTZ III CTZ IPCTZ

us - 110
NVA - 113 FW - 26
vc - 91 RVNAF - 160

r- Total 204 I Total 296 I

NOTE:
1. I I lustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples
Self Defense forces, most of which are located in the densely populated areas.
2. No adjustment has been made to compensate for the fact that US battalions are considerably larger
than ARVN, VC, and NVA battalions. Nor does this chart reflect the fact that VC and NVA battalions
grew progressively smaller during this period as losses were not replaced promptly.

180
LAOS

-I ~~ LEGEND

MORE THAN 150 PERSONS


- q KONTUM

PER SQUARE MILE

SPARSELY POPULATED
-ION

ONE ALLIED COMBAT


(I
I MANEUVER BATTALION

0 BAN ME THUOT
CAMBODIA \

SONG BE
I

0 BAO LOC

ALLIEDCOMBATBATTALIONS LOCATIONS
; ; “iI r‘ ii,”Ls6,
*,

Illustration does not include over 300,000 Regional and


Popular Forces, police forces, and Peoples Self Defense
forces, most of which are located in the densely populated areas.

181
CHRONOLOGY-1968
January tactical logisticians and the magnificent support
A 36-hour New Year’s truce ended at 0600 on provided by the cargo aircraft of the U.S. Air
2 January. The enemy initiated 64 major and 107 Force and Marines quickly restored the situation.
minor incidents during the period. U.S. forces lost Despite almost continuous enemy fire, air-delivered
27 men killed and 191 wounded; the South Viet- tonnages were nearly doubled in a matter of days
namese, 50 killed, 137 wounded. The enemy lost and no unit operation suffered from ammunition
598 killed. or supply shortages.
During the period 3 through 5 January the During this period, a rallier from the 325C Divi-
tempo of enemy activity increased, and the Da sion reported that in addition to the 304th, 320th,
Nang Airbase received successive attacks by and 325C Divisions, the North Vietnamese Army
122-mm rockets. had committed elements of the 308th and 341st
In mid-January the North Vietnamese 304th Divisions to the northern region of the I Corps.
Division infiltrated across the border from Laos Prisoner interrogations revealed that the enemy
and joined the 32% Division in the vicinity of considered Khe Sanh to be for the Americans what
Khe Sanh. Intelligence analysis by MACV indi- Dien Bien Phu had been for the French. On 22
cated that these two divisions would mount a full- January U.S. aircraft evacuated 1,112 civilian refu-
scale attack on Khe Sanh in the last half of Jan- gees who had fled enemy actions in and around
uary, while the North Vietnamese 320th Division Khe Sanh. To counter the buildup against Khe
along the DMZ appeared to be preparing an attack Sanh, U.S. air and artillery began an intensive
along Highway 9 toward Camp Carroll, the loca- SLAM operation known as NIAGARA II.
tion of a battalion of U.S. Army 175-mm guns pro- On 23 January MACV noted the likelihood of a
viding artillery support for Khe Sanh. strong enemy attack against Hue, probably to be
Amid indications of mounting North Viet- staged just before Tet, with other strong attacks in
namese strength in the two northernmost prov- the Central Highlands against Kontum City and
inces, I began to shift additional forces northward: Dak To. In the closing days of the month the
the 1st Cavalry Division north of Hue; elements enemy mounted small mortar and ground attacks
of the U.S. 1st Marine Division to Phu Bai, just on airfields at Pleiku and An Khe, killing 2 U.S.
south of Hue; and the 2d Brigade, 10lst Airborne troops, wounding 29, and destroying 26 helicopters
Division to the vicinity of Hue. The 2d Brigade of and 3 observation planes. Two C-130 aircraft were
the Republic of Korea Marine Corps moved to the damaged.
vicinity of Hoi An in Quang Nam Province to On 24 January a South Vietnamese convoy ar-
strengthen the defenses for Da Nang and to permit rived in Quang Tri City from Saigon by way of
the northern movement of elements of the 1st Route 1, the first convoy to travel the entire route
Marine Division. since it was cleared. The convoy made the trip
Enemy activity, including shelling, increased without significant incident, except as it moved
day by day around Khe Sanh. On 21 January a over the mountainous Hai Van pass between Da
prolonged NVA mortar and rocket attack de- Nang and Hue, where the column was harassed by
stroyed the largest Marine ammunition dump at fire.
Khe Sanh. The proximity and strength of the North Vietnamese forces employing tanks on 25
enemy and the marginal ammunition supplies re- January overran a Laotian Army post along High-
maining in Marine hands created a potentially way 9, west of Khe Sanh, just inside the Laotian
serious situation. However, the initiative of the frontier. Following the attack, observers spotted

182
five Russian PT-76 amphibious tanks inside South February
Vietnam moving along Highway 9 in the direction On 1 February the enemy attack continued
of Khe Sanh. Attacking U.S. aircraft destroyed near Tan Son Nhut airport, the nearby Vietnamese
one. Joint General Staff compound, and in various areas
On 27 January the Vietnamese 37th Ranger Bat- throughout Saigon. In Hue, North Vietnamese
talion arrived at Khe Sanh from Phu LOC. forces occupied the Imperial Citadel, and U.S.
The enemy’s announced cease-fire in observance Marine Corps forces coming to the relief of the
of Tet was scheduled to begin at 0100 on 27 January city from the south became heavily engaged in
and run through 0100 on 3 February. The allied that part of Hue lying south of the Perfume River.
Tet truce began at 1800 on 29 January in all corps Enemy units held on long enough to warrant
zones except I Corps and the extended battle area intervention by U.S. units in Saigon, Hue, Quang
north of the DMZ, where, because of the enemy Tri City, Kontum City, Phu Lot, My Tho, Ben
buildup and threat of large scale attack, I pro- Tre, and a few smaller towns and outposts. Con-
posed, with the concurrence of the South Viet- tingents of the U.S. 1st Marine and 1st Cavalry
namese government, that no ceasefire be observed. Divisions moved to the relief of Quang Tri City,
Before daylight on 30 January the enemy and other elements of the 1st Marine Division
launched a series of attacks against towns and in- entered Phu Lot. In Kontum City the ARVN
stallations in the zones of the I Corps and II Corps, headquarters and the MACV advisors were for a
prompting allied forces at 1100 on the 30th to can- time isolated in the MACV advisory compound,
cel their announced ceasefire. In the first 17 hours and the airfield, under small arms fire, was closed.
of the truce, the enemy had initiated 21 major and In the Mekong Delta the Viet Cong held most of
29 minor incidents. Ben Tre, capital of Kien Hoa Province, and part of
These marked the beginning of a nationwide Chau Dot, capital of Chau Dot Province. Head-
offensive that erupted in full fury before daylight quarters of the Vietnamese 9th Division in Sa Dee
on 31 January. The enemy initially bombarded or (Vinh Long Province) came under attack by six
attempted to invade 36 of 44 provincial capitals, enemy companies. I decided to commit a two-bat-
5 of 6 autonomous cities, 64 of 242 district capitals, talion brigade of the U.S. 9th Infantry Division,
50 hamlets, and a number of military installations, which supported a regiment of the Vietnamese
including most airfields. Ten of the provincial 7th Division in clearing the enemy from Ben Tre.
capitals fell under at least partial Communist con- Units of the 9th Division’s Mobile Riverine Force
trol, and heavy fighting raged in Saigon and Hue. also helped the Vietnamese 7th Division to clear
In most places the South Vietnamese Regional and My Tho, capital of Dinh Tuong Province. In the
Popular Forces bore the first brunt of the offen- southern portion of the I Corps, the Korean 2d
sive, and in Saigon, the National Police. The attacks Marine Brigade helped clear Duy Xuyen,
included a sapper assault against the U.S. Embassy, southwest of Hoi An.
launched at 0300 by an estimated I9 Viet Gong in By 2 February South Vietnamese, U.S., or Free
civilian clothes. Although the VC succeeded in World forces had cleared almost all towns and
penetrating the compound, U.S. Military Police, cities except Saigon and Hue. Tan Son Nhut air-
U.S. Marine Corps guards, and a platoon from field was in full operation on the 2d, as were 20 of
the 1Olst Airborne Division prevented entry to the 23 other airfields hit during the first 72 hours of
Embassy building and by 0923 had killed all I9 the offensive. Only those airfields at Kontum City,
of the attackers and secured the compound. U.S. Vinh Long, and Ban Me Thuot East were still
forces lost 6 men killed and 5 wounded. In view of closed.
the widespread nature of the enemy attacks, Presi- By 5 February fighting was still heavy on both
dent Thieu decreed martial law. sides of the Perfume River in Hue, and the enemy

183
continued to hold a large part of the Imperial Cita- upgrading by our engineers. Earlier in February,
del. One U.S. Marine and five Vietnamese battal- the enemy had seized control of the pass and cut
ions were operating in the city. In Saigon 15 allied the highway in a number of places. Additionally,
battalions were clearing the city of remnants of the northeast monsoon had caused erosion of the
local force units, but a major threat still remained road. Operations north of the pass, including those
in the presence of the Viet Cong 9th Division de- along the DMZ and around Hue, were greatly
ployed a few miles away to the north, northwest, dependent on the movement of supplies and am-
and west. Two Vietnamese Marine battalions were munition on Highway 1, especially during bad
airlifted from northern Binh Dinh Province, where weather when airlift was hindered and high seas
they had been engaged in pacification support oper- made over-the-beach supply operatiolns very dif-
ations, to reinforce operations against the enemy ficult. The 3d Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division
near Saigon. The North Vietnamese 2d Divisioln was attached to the 10lst Airborne Division in the
appeared to be preparing to attack Da Nang. All vicinity of Phu Bai, thereby giving that division
enemy resistance in Kontum City had ended, and three brigades. It had been necessary for me to
in the Delta all major cities were clear, although retain the 3d Brigade of the 1Olst Airborne Divi-
some were still subject to harassing shellfire. sion in the III Corps area to support operations in
On the evening of 5 February President Thieu that critical area around Saigon. The arrival of the
announced creation of a Central Recovery Com- Marine regiment and the Army paratroop brigade
mittee under the direction of Vice President Ky to was of great and timely assistance. These reinforce-
restore order and security, assist in reconstructing ments permitted me to deploy sufficient forces to
damaged population centers, and organize Peoples’ the northern area to confront the major enemy
Self Defense Groups. A special task force from the attack and to go on the offensive when favorable
U.S. Mission headed by Ambassador Komer would weather arrived in early April without assuming
assist and support the Vietnamese committee. unacceptable risks by the deployment of forces
An estimated North Vietnamese battalion sup- from other areas.
ported by nine amphibious tanks on 7 February On 25 February South Vietnamese units secured
overran a Special Forces camp at Lang Vei, a few the grounds of the Imperial Citadel in Hue, and
miles southwest of Khe Sanh. Of 20 U.S. Special the next day the last enemy troops were cleared
Forces troops, 14 had been recovered by nightfall, from the city. The battle had been a costly one
along with between 70 and 100 CIDG troops. in terms of damage to property, civilians killed
A MACV Forward command post under Gen- (mostly a result of Viet Cong executions), and
eral Abrams opened on 9 February at Phu Bai to su- military losses. The Vietnamese Airborne Task
pervise the planned deployment of joint U.S. com- Force flown into Hue, for instance, suffered such
bat and logistic forces in the northern provinces. severe losses in its well fought engagements that
On 23 February the U.S. 27th Marine Regimen- it was replaced in Hue by Vietnamese Marine
tal Landing Team completed movement by air battalions. The airborne units returned to their
from California to Da Nang. Three days later on base area near Saigon where, because of extraor-
the 26th, the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, dinary measures, they were quickly reconstituted
also completed movement by air from North Caro- and returned to action in a matter of weeks.
lina, arriving at Chu Lai. The 27th Marines de- Throughout the month, heavy enemy pressure
ployed south of Da Nang and relieved other Marine continued against Khe Sanh, including ever in-
units, which proceeded to the Hai Van pass be- creasing shelling, sharp reaction to U.S. patrols,
tween Da Nang and Hue to open up Highway 1 and ground attacks against outposts. By the end of
and to secure it for use and subsequent repair and the month the main defensive position beside the

184
airstrip was defended by three U.S. Marine Corps 283 killed; the South Vietnamese, 11 killed and 45
battalions (less two companies), an ARVN Ranger wounded. Two U.S. advisors also were wounded.
battalion, a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment, On 10 March I inactivated MACV Forward
and a CIDG company. A battalion and two rein- headquarters, which had served its purpose, and
forced companies of U.S. Marines held outposts on at the same time activated the Provisional Corps,
nearby heights. Artillery, including 175-mm gun- Vietnam (PROVCORPV) under command of
fire, and tactical airstrikes, including massed B-52’s, General Rosson. The tactical headquarters was to
pounded the lucrative targets presented by the control the large number of U.S. units in the north-
encircling enemy divisions. The expanded B-52 air- ern part of the I Corps. In general, the
base facilities at U Tapao in Thailand not only prol- PROVCORPV zone extended from the DMZ
vided additional B-52 sorties, but because of shorter southward to the Hai Van pass, or essentially most
turn-around time also gave us a greater degree of the area of the two northernmost provinces. The
of responsiveness and flexibility than ever before. new headquarters exercised operational control
Following the fall of Lang Vei and the intensifi- over U.S. ground forces within its zone, and, in
cation of the battle around Khe Sanh, our military turn, was under operational control of the Com-
efforts were briefly complicated by the influx of manding General, III Marine Amphibious Force.
large numbers of Montagnard refugees into the Also on 10 March the 10lst Airborne Division,
area. We fed and provided medical care for these in- controlling its own 2d Brigade and the 3d Brigade,
- dividuals and, in coordination with the Vietnamese 82d Airborne Division, began to conduct combat
government, made the necessary arrangements to and security operations in the vicinity of Hue and
transport them to established refugee camps as soon Phu Bai.
as possible. The sense of urgency demonstrated in The confrontation at Khe Sanh continued, with
evacuating these individuals not only insured their the enemy making every effort to halt supply of
safety but prevented the refugee situation from the garrison by air. There was evidence of enemy
becoming a major obstacle to our operations. tunneling attempting to get within close assault
distance of the U.S. and South Vietnamese posi-
March
tion, and scientific teams were dispatched to the
Enemy shelling on at least two occasions re- area to investigate that possibility but with incon-
vealed a new tactic of firing from several sites at clusive results. The rate of enemy shelling fluctu-
once, creating a quick concentrated effect and ated, possibly a reflection of the effect of U.S. ar-
hampering counterbattery fire. On 3 March, 49 tillery and air strikes, the latter sometimes sharply
rockets fired from at least three launch sites hit curtailed by the monsoon weather. On the first
Camp Enari near Pleiku, and twenty-seven day of March, for example, the North Vietnamese
122-mm rockets were fired from two or more sites fired 195 rounds of artillery, rockets, and mortars,
at the Kontum City airfield on the 17th. and on the 7th, 115 rounds; but on 23 March 1,100
On 5 March crater analysis and the discovery of
rounds, including 92 rockets, hit the defensive po-
five 70-mm shell casings-of World War II Japa-
sition. On the 7th the enemy antiaircraft fire in-
nese manufacture- revealed that the enemy in an
creased sharply, firing upon 13 U.S. Marine
attack northwest of Tam Ky (Quang Tin Pro-
vince) used both 122-mm rockets and 7O-mm aircraft and causing the crash of a C-123 with 47
howitzers. passengers several miles east of Khe Sanh. De-
On 5 and 6 March the Vietnamese 32~1Regi- spite continuing massive support from artillery,
ment, supported by air and artillery, drove off an B-52’s, and tactical aircraft averaging 300 sorties
estimated enemy battalion that penetrated the city a day, toward the end of the month almost all
of Ca Mau in An Xuyen Province. The enemy lost supplies had to be air dropped or delivered by

185
329-525 O-69---1:;
hehcopter. Although the North Vietnamese from eration PEGASUS/LAM SON 207. The opera-
time to time probed the defensive perimeter, as on tion was supported by 36 B-52 sorties and 176 tac-
18 March when the Vietnamese 37th Ranger Bat- tical air sorties.
talion repulsed a probe against the eastern arc, no On 6 April troops of the 1st Cavalry Division
full-scale ground attack developed. established contact with the 1st Battalion of the
An ammunition cache discovered southwest of 9th Marines attacking from Khe Sanh, whereupon
Hue on 24 March contained 76-mm shells, the the Marines began a sweep to the northeast. Later
kind used by Russian PT-76 tanks, and 23-mm in the day Vietnamese paratroopers and air cavalry-
shells, which are used in the ZU-23 antiaircraft men reached the Khe Sanh combat base, and on
weapon. Enemy employment of the ZU-23 in the the lOth, for the first time in 48 days, no enemy
zone of the I Corps was later confirmed. shells hit the base.
On 30 March the 173d Airborne Brigade moved Several joint U.S.-South Vietnamese operations
into Binh Dinh Province and relieved the 3d in the vicinity of Saigon and in the Mekong Delta
Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division; the 3d culminated in Operation QUYET THANG
Brigade, in turn, joined its parent division in the (Resolve to Win), a massive 28-day search
Central Highlands, the first time that the 4th operation in the environs of Saigon, ending on
Division had operated with all three of its brigades 7 April. Three U.S. divisions lost 105 men killed
together since arriving in Vietnam in the summer and 922 wounded, and South Vietnamese forces
of 1966. lost 193 killed and 472 wounded. U.S. troops killed
On 31 March in an effort to induce the North 1,420 of the enemy, detained 442, and captured 505
Vietnamese to enter negotiations, President John- weapons. The South Vietnamese killed 1,238 of
son announced cessation of bombing against North the enemy, detained 79, and captured 490 weapons.
Vietnam except for the “southern panhandle” Total enemy losses were 2,658 killed, 521 detained,
immediately adjacent to the Demilitarized Zone. and 995 weapons.
April On 12 April Route 9 was opened to traffic to Khe
Sanh, and there were strong indications that the
On the first of April the 1st Cavalry Division, enemy was withdrawing from the vicinity of Khe
1st Marine Regiment, and South Vietnamese air- Sanh and central Quang Nam Province while re-
borne forces launched Operation PEGASUS/LAM inforcing in the vicinity of Hue. Heavy casualties
SON 207 to open Route 9 and establish ground from artillery, tactical air, B-52’s, and ground ac-
communications with the Khe Sanh plateau. At tions had apparently convinced enemy command-
the same time, Operation NIAGARA II termi- ers to abandon their efforts to take Khe Sanh.
nated and all B-52 and tactical air strikes in the On 16 April the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry,
area shifted to support of the drive along Route 9. arrived in Due Pho from Hawaii for assignment
On the first day of the attack, the 1st Marine
to the 11th Light Infantry Brigade of the 23d
Regiment seized the first objective along Route 9
(Americal) Division. That brought the total of
west of Ca Lu, and the 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry
U.S. maneuver battalions in Vietnam to 110, of
Division, air-assaulted into a fire support base five
miles east of Khe Sanh. Enemy contact was light. which 24 were Marine Corps battalions.
The North Vietnamese on 3 April accepted Earlier indications that the North Vietnamese
President Johnson’s invitation to establish direct had begun to reinforce Viet Cong units in the
negotiations. The two parties subsequently agreed zone of the IV Corps with other than key cadre
on a meeting site in Paris. and advisory personnel were confirmed on 18 April
Forces within the Khe Sanh base attacked south- with the capture sf a North Vietnamese soldier by
eastward on 4 April to link with the forces of Op- the U.S. 9th Division. The prisoner revealed that

186
he had come south in a packet of 130 men, 50 of sponsored training programs were in effect, a num-
whom had been assigned to the same company ber of the helicopter crews had little actual experi-
with him. ence in airmobile operations. In this context, the
A joint operation by ARVN units and the U.S. movement of one Vietnamese H-34 squadron from
9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta, Op- Tan Son Nhut to Binh Tuy was decided upon. This
eration TRUONG CONG DINH (named for a deployment would place two Vietnamese Air Force
national hero), had by 19 April accounted for 1,716 helicopter squadrons near Can Tho to support
enemy killed, 999 detained, and 858 weapons cap- ARVN operations in the IV Corps area. The move
tured. U.S. forces lost 57 men killed; ARVN was completed by the end of April. The U.S.
forces, 268. Army 12th Aviation Group was now capable of
The 1st Cavalry Division, 1Olst Airborne Di- assuming additional helicopter support duties in
vision, and a regiment of the Vietnamese 1st Di- the III Corps. I considered that the tactical experi-
vision on 19 April began Operation DELAWARE/ ence to be gained by Vietnamese helicopter crews
LAM SON 216 in the A Shau Valley and along and the additional helicopter support for Vietnam-
Route 547 leading into the valley, introducing the ese units in IV Corps far outweighed any disad-
first major allied presence in the valley since loss of vantages. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Due Thang, the
a Special Forces camp in 1966. A reconnaissance in aggressive commander of the IV Corps, made
force, the operation was designed to find and de- excellent use of this reinforcement.
stroy a large logistics base the enemy had con-
May
structed in the valley, from which he had sup-
ported the Tet attack on Hue. After heavy initial Beginning around midnight on 4 May, the
enemy launched another wave of nationwide at-
contact, enemy resistance tapered off. The troops
tacks against 109 military installations and cities,
found a vast storehouse of material, including 2,500
including 21 airfields. U.S. and South Vietnamese
individual and 93 crew-served weapons, 31 flame-
units lost 65 men killed and 320 wounded. Six
throwers, eighteen l*/* ton trucks, several Soviet
aircraft were destroyed and 72 damaged.
PT-76 tanks and 120-mm artillery pieces, and tons The 4-5 May attacks lacked the intensity and co-
of munitions. The intelligence find included 90,000 ordination of the Tet offensive. Bien Hoa Airbase
pages of documents. Over 850 of the enemy were was hardest hit, with strong attacks also in Binh
killed. Operations along Route 547 were made Duong and Hau Nghia Provinces. In the vicinity of
more effective by the excellent job performed by Saigon, the enemy tried to seize the Saigon-Bien
the combined Vietnamese-U.S. long range recon- Hoa highway bridge. Heavy contact continued
naissance force. Its elements located numerous near Dong Ha in the northern portion of the I
enemy targets, called in effective air and artillery Corps on 6 May, while moderately heavy fighting
strikes against them, and carried out a number of persisted around Saigon for several days, including
successful ambushes against the enemy. attacks by fire and infiltration into the south-
On 22 April the 196th Light Infantry Brigade western part of the city. Rockets hit Da Nang on
moved to Camp Evans in the Provisional Corps 8 and 9 May.
zone to provide rear area security and serve as a Heavy mortar and recoilless rifle fire struck the
reserve for the DMZ area during Operation DEL- Kham Due Special Forces camp in Quang Tin
AWARE/LAM SON 216. Province on 10 May. Two days later U.S. and CIDG
During the month, our interests in improving troops and Vietnamese dependents were extracted
the tactical proficiency of the Vietnamese Air Force from the camp by air.
helicopter squadrons continued. Although U.S.- On 13 May preliminary discussions designed to

187
lead to negotiations began in Paris between the talion was conducting operations at the time in
United States and North Vietnam. Bien Hoa Province.
Premier Nguyen Van Lot and the South Viet- After I had discussed the matter for several
namese Cabinet resigned on 18 May at the request months with Vietnamese authorities, the South
of President Thieu. The new Premier was Tran Vietnamese Government announced on 3 June that
Van Huong. Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Minh, commander of
On 19 and 22 May troops of the 3d Brigade, the ARVN 21st Division, was to be reassigned as
82d Airborne Division, uncovered five 85-mm Military Governor of Saigon and Gia Dinh Prov-
guns in two different locations southwest of Hue, ince under the Commanding General, III Corps.
the first time we had captured such large weapons, General Minh would have operational control of
although we were aware from photo interpretation all South Vietnamese forces involved in the secu-
that they existed in the zone of the I Corps. rity of Saigon and Gia Dinh Province. To parallel
During the latter days of May, indiscriminate the assignment, MACV named Maj. Gen. John H.
mortar and rocket fire hit residential sectors of Hay, Jr., Deputy Commanding General of the
Saigon periodically, starting a number of fires II Field Force, as senior advisor to the Military
but causing relatively light civilian casualties. Governor and commander of U.S. forces assigned
Despite indications of a drop in the enemy’s com- to the defense of Saigon and Gia Dinh Province.
bat effectiveness (attributable to heavy losses and After almost four and a half years of duty in
insufficiently-trained replacements), his activity South Vietnam, on 11 June I passed command of
continued heavy in some sectors, particularly in U.S. forces to General Abrams. He would serve as
Thua Thien Province in the vicinity of Hue and acting commander until I was sworn in as Chief
north of Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province. On the of Staff of the U.S. Army on 3 July.
25th and 26th the enemy shelled U.S. positions In the largest enemy capitulation of the war, a
along the DMZ and at Khe Sanh. total of 141 enemy from the Viet Cong Quyet
On 30 May 13 rounds of loo-mm artillery fire Thang Regiment surrendered on 18 and 19 June
struck Fire Support Base 29, located 10 miles west to two Vietnamese Marine battalions just north of
of Dak To in Kontum Province, the first con- Saigon. About half were North Vietnamese.
firmed use of that caliber weapon in the II Corps. On 19 June President Thieu signed into law a
On the last day of May, Operation TOAN general mobilization measure which could expand
THANG (Complete Victory), the largest opera- the South Vietnamese Armed Forces by nearly
tion of the war, came to an end. Employing 42 20 percent. This was the culmination of many
U.S. and 37 Vietnamese maneuver battalions, the months of study and discussion.
operation extended over 60 days. Although un- In late June MACV announced the dismantle-
spectacular, consisting primarily of small search ment of the defenses near the Khe Sanh airfield
operations during the day and ambushes at night, and the abandonment of the airfield. The Khe
TOAN THANG was nevertheless highly effective, Sanh plateau would henceforth be defended by
killing 7,600 members of the enemy’s local forces, operations initiated and supplied from the Ca Lu
guerrillas, and infrastructure. base constructed during Operation PEGASUS/
LAM SON 207. Following Operation DELA-
1me WARE, portions of the 1st Cavalry Division re-
On 1 June the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian turned to the Khe Sanh plateau and operated there
Regiment, replaced the regiment’s 2d Battalion. for several weeks, in the process consuming the
All three Australian battalions were based at Nui supplies stockpiled at Khe Sanh and destroying
Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province, although the 3d Bat- the fortifications.

188
KHE SANH

LAOS
&HA1 VAN PASS

4 NANG

MAJORBATTLES 01 AN
E DUY XUYEN

AND
SIGNIFICANT
?%?A CHIJ LAI

QUANG NGAI

LOCALITIES
DUC PI40
1968 TET

P QUI NHON

CAMBODIA

AN ME THUO

NHA TRANG

CAM RANH BIAY

.u
CHAU DOC.
.’
.r../ ‘.

LEGEND

# -MAJOR BATTLES
~-AREAS 0~ PROLONGED
CONFRONTATION
-BASE AREA/WAR ZONES
CONCLUSIONS

As I left Vietnam, I remembered the predictions victory. Secondly, the war is by no means a purely
and the evaluations of General Giap in January military affair.
of 1966: From the beginning we have struggled with
He was wrong when he predicted we would various means and methods to measure and illus-
not put sufficient forces in the field. trate the progress of the war. As the years went by
He was wrong when he thought we would methods for the measurement of progress (or the
antagonize the people to a point where they lack of it) have multiplied and become more so-
would turn to the Viet Cong. They have done phisticated. By the middle of 1968 systems had
the opposite. been adopted to measure the effectiveness of Viet-
He was correct that pressure against the namese forces both regular and territorial, the paci-
war would mount in the U.S. and throughout fication conditions in the hamlets, economic and
the world. He was also correct when he said social development projects, and many others. All
the costs of the war would be high. of these measurement systems have been imperfect
He was wrong about the decline in morale and without exception there have been skeptics and
of South Vietnamese forces. critics.
He now knows that U.S. equipment is suited For the purposes of this conclusion I have selected
for this kind of war, geography, and climate. five illustrations which, to me, most accurately re-
Surely, he also knows that: flect significant trends in the war. There are, of
course, many others. The five which I have selected
U.S. troops are not and have never been are :
encircled so that they cannot move;
U.S. troops are not demoralized ; The ratio of enemy to allied casualties.
U.S. infantry is not cowardly; The ratio of enemy to allied weapons losses.
U.S. tactics are not ineffective; and The proportion of North Vietnamese to Viet
U.S. commanders are not incompetent. Cong combat maneuver battalions fighting in
South Vietnam.
I think it is safe to say that the war in Vietnam The relationship of U.S. and Free World fight-
has been more d&cult to describe than earlier wars ing strength to the contribution of the govern-
for a variety of reasons. It is not possible simply to ment of Vietnam.
record the progress of the battleline as it sweeps The overall progress in providing security to the
over the terrain toward a final objective and a final population of South Vietnam.

189
CHART 1
The chart on the facing page shows the general upward trend in the ratio
of friendly to enemy casualties. You will notice that in the early years this ratio
was in the range of 1.5 to 2 enemy casualties for each friendly loss. Thereafter,
there have been many ups and downs. The most dramatic event occurred during
Tet when the enemy exposed very large numbers of his troops to allied firepower
in Saigon, other major cities, and province and district capitals. However, the
important point is the trend over the four years. The trend is clearly up, and at
the present time it has reached a ratio in which six of the enemy are killed for
each allied soldier lost. From a purely military standpoint this trend shows the
impact of the introduction of U.S. troops, the steady improvement in perform-
ance by all allied forces, and the steady decline in battlefield performance by the
enemy.

190
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v,
3AISN3zlzlO ““f --
a

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z

dn4llI-W 3lV3S 33tlV-I SNl33H ‘5 “‘il


CHART 2
The chart on the facing page shows the trend of weapons lossesin terms of a
ratio. You will notice that in the first half of 1965 the Vietnamese Armed Forces
were losing more weapons to the enemy than they were capturing from the
enemy. The year 1964 showed an equally discouraging picture. Starting with the
introduction of U.S. troops, the ratio steadily but unevenly improved. A word
of explanation is required with respect to the very high ratios in 1968.The figures
include not only weapons taken on the battlefield from enemy dead and
wounded soldiers but also include the caches of weapons which have been
found-and are still being found with increasing frequency as allied forces
search the countryside. As in the case of the ratio of casualties, this picture of
weapons lossesis a clear indication of a major trend in the war. Surely the com-
bination of these first two charts reflects a situation which must be of major
concern to the enemy.

192
/ Ia
/ Ir

I
Z
0

0-J

ti ”-
z
CHART 3
The chart on the facing page shows the growth of North Vietnamese
Army forces in South Vietnam. It portrays battalions of ground fighting troops
as opposed to total strength and therefore, it relates primarily to the so-called
main force war. It does not include the guerrilla forces of the Viet Cong and
therefore, is only part of the picture. However, this chart carries two highly
important messages. First it shows that the North Vietnamese have assumed
progressively an increasing share of the war in the south-that they have as-
sumed the major share of the main force troop commitment, and therefore the
heaviest fighting. The second major messageis that over the same period of time
the replacements for Viet Cong battalions have come increasingly from North
Vietnam in the form of individual replacements. In 1966 approximately 10 per-
cent of the personnel in Viet Cong battalions were North Vietnamese replace-
ments. By mid-1968 over 30 percent of the soldiers in Viet Cong battalions were
North Vietnamese. When these two developments are combined it adds up to the
simple fact that the war has become to a very large extent a North Vietnamese
effort. In the first half of 1968 North Vietnam had sent to the south nearly
200,000 men in units and as replacements. Enemy casualties during that same
period have at least equaled that figure.

194
>a

8 5:
lN33ki3d

195
CHART 4
The chart on the facing page shows the numerical effort in armed man-
power between U.S. and Free World forces on the one hand and the forces of
the government of Vietnam on the other. I would not suggest that the U.S.
contribution is small, nor do I underrate the contribution of U.S. and Free
World forces in terms of impact on the battlefield. Nonetheless, the graph
clearly shows that the trend is one of increasing government of Vietnam par-
ticipation. The numbers do not show the whole story. Not only have the
numbers of South Vietnamese troops increased, but also their level of activity
and effectiveness is on the upswing. As I stated in November 1967,I foresee a time
when these increasingly large, increasingly effective Vietnamese forces will
permit a gradual replacement of U.S. fighting elements in South Vietnam.

1%
STRENGTH ( 100,000)
m 2 d 2 ,o cn a * c-4 0

(000'001 ) H13N38lS
CHART 5
The last chart shows the slow, painful progress of pacification since mid-
1964. The statistics reflected in this chart beginning in 1967 have been provided
by the new computerized Hamlet Evaluation System. Prior to 1967 the measure-
ments were those of the government of Vietnam. I recognize that such measure-
ments themselves are difficult to make and may be imprecise, but the trends they
reflect should be valid. The chart deserves some elaboration on one very im-
portant point. The growth in relatively secure population includes hamlets which
have a sufficient level of security so that the enemy cannot operate freely in them
and reasonably normal social and economic activity is possible. This is not to
say that enemy efforts have ceased entirely or even that their clandestine or-
ganizations may not be active. Conversely, that area which is labeled contested
does not suggest an absence of government activity. In fact, the bulk of the
pacification effort, at any given time, is centered precisely in these contested
hamlets. The label simply means that the process is not sufhciently advanced
so that normal life can be resumed. The sharp decline in early 1968 represents
the impact of the enemy’s Tet offensive. Steady progress has been made since
early March in recovering from this temporary pacification setback.

198

-
3AISN3ddO P’C
It is not possible to draw final conclusions re- feat aggression so that the people of South Vietnam
garding a war which is not over. I will not attempt will be free to shape their own destiny.” This de-
to do so. cision led first to materiel support of the South
However, as I look back over the years both pre- Vietnamese Armed Forces, then to an extensive ad-
ceding and during my period of command I am in- visory effort, and later to an increasing level of
creasingly impressed with the importance of major operational support and assistance.
decisions which were taken by the two opposing The tlzird decision was taken by Hanoi in 1964
sides-how they related to one another and how when it decided to commit the regular army of
accurately they portray developments up to this North Vietnam in order to hasten a victory which,
time. to the North Vietnamese, appeared close at hand.
It seems to me that there were nine major deci- The fourth decision was taken by the United
sions which have affected the progress and the States when it decided, in 1965, to initiate the
nature of the war. Four of these decisions were bombing of North Vietnam.
taken by the enemy and four by the United States
The fifth decision, taken later in 1965, was to
government in conjunction with the government deploy U.S. ground combat forces to meet directly
of Vietnam and other free world nations. One deci- the rapidly increasing military threat to the exist-
sion was taken by the South Vietnamese ence of the government of South Vietnam.
government.
The sixth decision was taken by the South Viet-
The first decision was taken by Hanoi when it
namese government when it decided in 1966 to
decided in the late 1950’s to resume the war in
draft a new constitution and to hold elections for
Indochina which had been interrupted by the
a new government.
Geneva Accords in 1954. This decision included a
determination to build progressively a large and
The seventh decision was taken by Hanoi in the
summer of 1967 to intensify, and thus hopefully
effective military force patterned along the lines
to shorten, the war through a maximum effort in
of the Viet Minh. It also included a decision to
1968.
create a broad political front organization through
which the functions of government could be exer- The eighth decision was taken by the United
cised and through which the participation and sup States, together with the government of Vietnam,
port of nationalists and non-Communist elements when the bombing of most of North Vietnam was
could be enlisted. The driving and organizing force stopped and immediate negotiations with Hanoi
behind this effort, as was the caseduring the earlier were simultaneously offered.
war against the French, was the Communist Party The ninth decision was made by Hanoi when it
of Indochina, the Lao Dong Party, the southern accepted negotiations and presumably decided that
branch of which is called the People’s Revolution- talking and fighting was a better method of pur-
ary Party of South Vietnam. The objective was suing its objectives.
total victory, including control over South Vietnam How and when the war in Vietnam will end is
in accordance with the long-standing objectives not known. One thing, however, is clear. From the
of the Central Committee of the Communist Party very beginning the enemy has endeavored to
in Hanoi. achieve three fundamental objectives :
The second decision was taken by the United lst-To destroy the Armed Forces of the gov-
States when it established a national policy “to de- ernment of Vietnam.

200
2d-To destroy the government of Vietnam had failed to attain these objectives but that in each
at every echelon from Saigon to hamlet level. case they lay farther from his grasp than at any
3d-To enlist the participation and support of time since the dark days of 1965 when the United
the people of South Vietnam on behalf of its po- States intervened in strength. Additionally, I was
litical and military objectives. convinced that these objectives were receding be-
As I left South Vietnam in June of 1968 I took fore the enemy’s eyes and thus his prospects for
with me the conviction that the enemy not only attaining them were steadily diminishing.

201
3:29-5250-GO-14
Appendix A

ENEMY ORGANIZATION FOR


THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR
IN SOUTH VIETNAM

From the beginning, the insurgency in South The political strategy of the Vietnamese Com-
Vietnam has been directed by the Vietnamese munists (Viet Cong) includes the classic Com-
Communist Lao Dong (Worker’s) Party in Hanoi. munist “united front” technique. This technique,
However, the North Vietnamese have gone to as applied in South Vietnam, involves the creation
extraordinary lengths to attempt to conceal their of a Communist-dominated administrative orga-
dominant role. For example, in 1962 Hanoi nization and numerous mass associations. The Na-
changed the name of the South Vietnamese branch tional Liberation Front (NLF) provides the
of the Communist Party to the People’s Revolu- administrative apparatus-popularly referred to as
tionary Party in order to make the Communist the “VC shadow government.” Mass associations
movement in South Vietnam appear independent are organized along functional lines such as the
of Hanoi. Farmers’ Liberation Association and the Youth
Actual direction of the insurgency in South Liberation Association. Communist propaganda
Vietnam is exercised through a complex, inter- invariably proclaims mass association support of
locking political and military organization. The the NLF.
dominant feature of this organizational arrange- During the 1968 Tel offensive the Communists
ment is Hanoi’s control of both the military and surfaced another front organization-the Alliance
civil aspects of the war through the various levels of National, Democratic, and Peace Forces (The
of the Communist Party in South Vietnam Alliance). The Alliance is ostensibly urban based
(figure on page 205). and seems intended to complement the largely
The major link between Hanoi and Communist rural base of the NLF.
aggression in the South is the Lao Dong Party re- A typical Communist political structure at the
gional committee for South Vietnam-the Cen- province level is shown in the figure on page 206.
tral Office for South Vietnam (COSVN). This Although the diagram depicts a party cell in each
agency is located near the Cambodian border north section, this may not always be the case. However,
of Saigon in War Zone C and its personnel are to insure rigid control of crucial decision-making,
the leaders of the Communist Party in the south. a Communist cell is found in the executive com-
The various elements of the total Communist mittee and the military affairs committee.
organization in South Vietnam, both military and At the village and hamlet level the Communists
civil, are responsive to directions issued by COSVN. attempt to create a “Revolutionary Administra-

203
tion.” In 1698 this effort took the form of “Libera- includes large North Vietnamese Army forces
tion Committees” as seen in the figure on page 207. which are disguised as Viet Cong units in order
This “Revolutionary Administration” is respon- to maintain the fiction of a totally indigenous
sible for a host of activities among which is the South Vietnamese insurgency.
creation and often the direction of guerrilla units. Although the Liberation Army is subordinate
The Lao Dong Party Central Committee in to the COSVN, it also communicates directly with
Hanoi occasionally sends military policy directives the North Vietnamese Army High Command in
directly to COSVN. Normally however, military Hanoi. In 1967 and 1968, as the North Vietnamese
guidance comes to COSVN from the North Viet- commitment to the south increased, the High
namese Army High Command. Based upon this Command of the North Vietnamese Armed
guidance, COSVN issues military and political Forces in Hanoi took direct control over a number
directives to the Party Committees at the region, of battle “fronts” as a matter of military necessity.
province, and district levels. The Party Committee These included the “Khe Sanh front,” the “DMZ
at each echelon is responsible to see that the orders
front,” and the “B3 (Highlands) front.” The de-
are carried out by military units and by correspond-
ployment of the North Vietnamese Home Army
ing echelons of the “shadow government.”
The South Vietnamese Communist Liberation and Hanoi’s assumption of direct command of
Army includes main force, local force, and guer- operations provide clear, unequivocal evidence that
rilla units with a party chapter or cell in every North Vietnam is responsible for Communist ag-
unit (figure on page 205). The Liberation Army gression in the south.

204
COMMUNIST PARTY DOMINANCE IN ENEMY ORGANIZATION

MILITARY PARTY CIVIL


FORCES APPARATUS ORGANIZATIONS

LAO DONG CENTRAL


North COMMITTEE IN HANOI
Vietnamese 1 ADMINISTRATIVE
1 Army righ Command9 1 LIBERATION
I I I . ASSOCIATIONS
I
COSVN
I
I ( PRP CENTRAL COMMITTEE )
Headquarters
Liberation Army
Party Committee
Committee

I -Main & Local


I I Province I
Province

Local Forces District District MASS


Party 4 Party e Party ASSOCIATIONS
Committee Committee Committee
I
I
Youth Lib. Assoc.
Guerrillas Village/Hamlet Womans’ Lib. Assoc.
. Party 4 Party
Chapter Chapters
I

I This chart shows the relationship between the major


INDIVIDUAL

elements of the enemy


PARTY

orgonirotion.
CELLS

Although the military and civilian elements are portrayed


OS seperote entities _ with the military and civilian heodquorters controlling each echelon of their organization directly - their real organizational
substance comes from, and is irrevocably tied to the party. The arrows leading left and right from each level of the party opporotus indicate the true
lines of control.

205
TYPICAL PROVINCE COMMUNIST ORGANIZATION IN SVN

BINH DINH
PROVINCE PARTY
COMMITTEE
I
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
CURRENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
I I I

SUB - SECTIONS

I I I I
COMMO- CIVILIAN
LIAISON HEALTH
SECTION SECTION

1 SECTION 1 1 SECTION 1 ( SECTION 1

HOAI NHON DISTRICT ------la


PHU CAT DISTRICT VAN CANH DISTRICT
-
AN LAO DISTRICT QUI NHON
PHU MY DISTRICT AN NHON DISTRICT
HOAI AN DISTRICT Cl-l\
BINH KHE DISTRICT TUY PHUOC DISTRICT
VINH THANH DISTRICT
-

TYPICAL VILLAGE ADMINISTRATIVE LIBERATION


ASSOCIATION IN SVN

LIBERATION COUNCIL
t
I
PERMANENT COUNCIL
SECTION

I
LIBERATION COMMITTEE
Appendix B

REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM ARMED FORCES

It has been our goal from the beginning to de- tice in United States Armed Forces of including
velop strong, confident, and effective Vietnamese transport helicopters as a part of the Army.
military forces able to defend their own country The Vietnamese Navy, which is responsible for
and provide security for their own people. Without protection of the coasts and inland waterways of
such forces little could be done even by strong the nation, is built around a Sea Force, a Coastal
allies to prevent a Communist takeover of the Force, and a River Force. The River and Coastal
country. Thus to a large degree the history of the Forces are designed specifically for inland and
insurgency is a history of our efforts and problems near-shore counterinsurgency operations, while the
in developing the Vietnamese Armed Forces. This Sea Force is organized to stop the enemy’s infiltra-
appendix will highlight some of the key points in tion of men and supplies by sea from North Viet-
that history during the years from 1964 to 1968. nam. The Vietnamese Marine Corps was organized
to operate with the Navy in amphibious and river
Composition operations.
In any counterinsurgency effort, the police
The Republic of Vietnam’s Armed Forces in-
forces-both regular police and specialized ele-
clude Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine ele-
ments-play an essential role in maintaining se-
ments. By far the largest component, the Army is
curity and combating the enemy’s control ap-
responsible for both mobile combat and local secu-
paratus. Appendix D discusses the role of the Viet-
rity in land areas of the country. To carry out the
namese National Police in carrying out the pacifica-
mobile combat mission, the Army includes a regu-
tion program in Vietnam.
lar force organized into conventional divisions
with supporting elements. Security of local areas is U.S. Suppovt
the primary responsibility of the territorial forces.
These are of two types-Regional Forces, which U.S. military assistanceto the Vietnamese Armed
are organized into companies under the control of Forces commenced on 23 December 1950 while the
the province and district chiefs, and Popular French Indochina War was still in progress. With
Forces, which normally operate within or close to the end of that war and the departure of the
a particular village or hamlet. French, the United States assisted the fledgling
The Vietnamese Air Force is designed to support Republic of Vietnam to get on its feet and to build
the Army and consists primarily of tactical fighters effective armed forces. At that time primary em-
and transport aircraft, including troop-carrying phasis was directed at the development of South
helicopters. This situation contrasts with the prac- Vietnamese forces capable of meeting an overt

209
thrust across the Demilitarized Zone. As a conse- zones. Divisions and separate regiments operated
quence, the armed forces were initially organized, under control of the corps commanders and, like
equipped, and trained along conventional lines. In the corps, had territorial responsibility. The Ranger
retrospect, this approach may have failed to pay battalions were provided as a reserve for each corps,
sufficient attention to the theories of Mao Tse-tung while the battalions of the airborne brigade to-
for the achievement of Communist objectives gether with the Marine battalions constituted a
through insurgency warfare. General Reserve under control of the Vietnamese
As advisors to the Vietnamese forces, our objec- Joint General Staff.
tive has been to guide and assist them until they The most valid criticism of the Army at that
are capable of protecting the nation without our time was that it was overly conventional in its or-
help. In Saigon, MACV Headquarters directs and ganization, equipment, and tactics. It tended to
coordinates all U.S. military assistance. Members stay too close to its baseswithin the populated areas
of the MACV staff act as advisors to their counter- and to travel habitually by roads. Consequently, it
parts in the Vietnamese Joint General Staff, with was highly vulnerable to ambush and attack by the
whom they work in planning the overall develop- Viet Gong and was poorly suited to contest the
ment of the Vietnamese forces. In the field ad- guerrilla on his own ground in the jungles and the
visors are provided down to battalion level in swamps.
regular force units. Initially these advisors were The Vietnamese Air Force at the beginning of
concerned primarily with distributing American 1964 consisted of 8,400 men, two fighter squadrons,
equipment and training the Vietnamese in its use; and 190 aircraft, primarily armed T-28 training
however, as the insurgency was stepped up in the planes. During that year we began replacing the
early sixties, U.S. advisors became more and more T-28 with the A-l “Skyraider,” which was faster
concerned with tactical training of their units and and far more versatile, had greater endurance, and
with advising Vietnamese commanders in the carried a much bigger load of bombs and ammu-
actual conduct of operation. nition. We also replaced the older UH-19 with the
more modern CH-34.
1964 Situation
The Navy in 1964 was authorized 7,100 men for
During 1964 the Vietnamese Armed Forces had both Sea and River Forces. Fourteen River Assault
an overall authorized strength of 435,000. Of these, Groups located at basesthroughout the Delta made
approximately 200,000 were in the regular army, up the River Force. Their main vehicles were
and another 200,000 in the Civil Guard and Self- armed and armored landing craft, used to trans-
Defense Corps-the forerunners of the Regional port South Vietnamese Army and Marine units on
and Popular Forces. The regular army consisted offensive operations as well as to patrol the major
of 9 infantry divisions, an airborne brigade and waterways of the Delta and the Rung Sat. The Sea
20 separate Ranger battalions with supporting ar- Force consisted of patrol boats, minesweepers, and
tillery, armor, and service troops. In all there were landing craft based at Saigon. At that time the
123 maneuver battalions. Regular troops were Coastal Force was a paramilitary group known as
equipped with standard U.S. World War II weap- the “junk force.” It was organized into 28 divi-
ons such as the Ml rifle, the Browning automatic sions deployed along the entire coast of Vietnam
rifle, and the Browning light machine gun. Terri- working in conjunction with the SeaForce. In 1965
torial Forces were lightly armed, principally with these junks were made a part of the regular navy.
the semiautomatic Ml carbine; they had neither At the beginning of 1964 the Vietnamese Marine
automatic weapons nor mortars. Corps had a strength of 6,100, organized in a bri-
The country was divided into four corps tactical gade of four infantry battalions and one amphibi-

210
ous support battalion. Although organized for am- gains. Many factors contributed to the high de-
phibious operations along the rivers and the coast, sertion rate-overly restrictive leave policies, lack
the Marine battalions participated in ground op- of command attention to personnel management
erations throughout South Vietnam as a part of and soldier welfare, overtaxed military training
the General Reserve. facilities and a shortage of qualified instructors,
tolerance of desertion by military and civil author-
Deterioration During the “Coup Era” ities, public apathy toward the war, increasingly
During early I963 progress in the development heavy combat losses, and misuse of some types of
of the Vietnamese Armed Forces had produced an units. The number of desertions also reflected a na-
air of cautious optimism, but the turbulent political tionwide malaise of inertia and defeatism.
situation that followed the overthrow of President By the middle of 1965 the problem was becom-
Diem created a situation of uncertainty and lack of ing critical. At the rate manpower was pumped
direction which started a process of military dete- into the armed forces and drained off by desertion,
rioration. Frequent changes in the upper echelons the primary sources of manpower would be ex-
of the government resulted in changes among mili- hausted by mid-1968 and secondary sources by the
tary leaders as political favorites were assigned key end of 1969. Of more immediate concern, new
jobs. Desertions in the regular and Regional and units to fill out the force structure were being cre-
Popular Forces in 1964 were nearly double those of ated at a faster rate than manpower could be pro-
1963, while among the Popular Forces they in- vided to replace combat and desertion losses, with
creased by 50 percent. (It was exceptional for these the result that existing units could not be brought
deserters to join the enemy; they simply returned to full strength. In particular the strength of ma-
to their homes.) The effectiveness of all forces neuver battalions (the cutting edge) was dropping
declined sharply as morale dropped and personnel lower and lower. Low fighting strength bred cau-
strengths shrank. Sensing the deterioration of the tion, a defensive attitude, pressures to avoid cas-
government forces, the enemy stepped up the ualties, and thus poor morale and more desertions.
tempo of his operations and began to win a series I was equally concerned that we were outdistanc-
of victories. ing the Vietnamese ability to produce leaders. We
A new draft law was promulgated during 1965, were on the verge of wrecking the Vietnamese
making all male citizens from age 20 through 33 forces by attempting to expand them too rapidly.
subject to military service. Although the new law Thus, by mid-1965, as U.S. forces were being
was adequate, so scant was the government’s con- introduced to forestall an immediate Communist
trol and so ineffective its methods that the num- victory, it was obvious that vigorous efforts would
ber of men inducted fell below requirements. To have to be directed toward solving the morale
supplement conscription, the government and the crisis within the Vietnamese forces and building
Joint General Staff upon MACV advice undertook them into a much more effective combat force.
a comprehensive volunteer recruitment campaign
Improving Leadership Atzd Morale
involving extensive publicity, enlistment bonuses,
special training for recruiters, and accelerated Coming to office in mid-1965, the Thieu-Ky
quotas for unit recruiting. Together with the government finally brought a measure of political
callup, this campaign enabled the regular forces stability within South Vietnam which provided an
by the end of 1965 actually to exceed authorized atmosphere conducive to progress. In June of that
strength. year I called for a temporary moratorium on acti-
The encouragement provided by this increase vating new units until all maneuver battalions were
lasted only briefly as desertions soon eroded the built up to a 450-man strength for operations. In

211
April 1966 the government issued a series of decrees We assisted the Vietnamese high command in
to enforce the draft laws and to provide for punish- modernizing the curriculum at the Military Aca-
ment of deserters and their accomplices. During the demy, expanding the course from two years to
remainder of the year and continuing into 1967, four, and elevating the Academy to a degree-grant-
we attacked the root causes of the desertion prob- ing institution similar to the United States Military
lem by improving leadership, personnel manage- Academy. The first class to complete the four-year
ment, personal services, and training centers. We curriculum will graduate in 1969. To meet more
also made progress in reorganizing, retraining, and immediate requirements, officer candidate courses
reequipping units. These measures, along with in- as well as courses at branch schools were expanded.
creased U.S. and Free World presence, helped By 1967 a steady stream of trained leaders, tech-
create marked overall improvement of morale. The nicians, and specialists was beginning to flow into
desertion rate for 1967 reflected these gains: the ranks, greatly improving the administration
desertions fell 30 percent below those of 1966. and combat effectiveness of the armed forces.
A key factor in bringing about this improvement An evaluation of battalion commanders in 1965
was a leadership development program which we and 1966 revealed that many lacked knowledge of
began in the latter part of 1965.The aim was to im- tactical and administrative principles. To correct
prove the quality and leadership behavior of the the situation, a Battalion Commander’s School was
officer corps through proper selection and training established in late 1966. The curriculum provided
of officer personnel and through a comprehensive a concentrated course in battalion tactics and also a
career management program. The Joint General review of small unit tactics. The latter served both
Staff established personnel records and efficiency as a valuable refresher and as preparation for the
reporting procedures and centralized such person- commander’s role in direct support of pacification,
nel actions as promotions, discharges, retirements, a mission in which the Army was becoming
schooling, and transfers. Both through formal increasingly involved.
training and through the example of U.S. advisors, To improve the quality of instruction at the
we attempted to indoctrinate Vietnamese com- Command and General Staff College, we arranged
manders in their responsibilities for the health, for recent Vietnamese graduates of the United
welfare, and morale of their troops. We sought to States Army’s Command and General Staff Col-
strengthen the chain of command from top to lege to be assigned as instructors. Under the tute-
bottom, lage of our advisors, the Vietnamese took steps to
To provide the trained leaders and specialists revise, revitalize, and extend the course of instruc-
that the armed forces required and to insure their tion. We also promoted a selection system for at-
continued development, the Vietnamese had, with tendance at the course to insure that only qualified
our advice and assistance, developed an extensive officers with career potential were selected.
system of armed forces general, technical, and Just as in the lower echelons of command, lead-
administrative schools. We sought at this point to ership at the national policy and planning levels
improve those schools and to create new ones where long had needed improvement. In mid-1967 the
voids existed. Of particular value was.an upgraded Vietnamese acted to correct the deficiency. On 1
Noncommissioned Oflicers Academy. As is the case August Premier Ky signed a decree establishing a
in all armies, the Vietnamese noncommissioned National Defense College in Saigon. The opening
officers are the backbone and provide the first line of this school in the spring of 1968 placed the cap-
of leadership. This revitalized school began infus- stone on a leader training and education system
ing the ranks with a leaven of well-trained enlisted which now covers the entire spectrum from squad
leaders. to national level military leadership.

212
Many morale problems are directly traceable to made as good as those of his civilian counterpart
administrative mistakes and delays on matters and much better than those of his adversary. If the
which are of keen personal interest to the indi- soldier was to be able to devote his attention to
vidual soldier. Faulty administration also provides fighting the war, he had to know that his family
opportunities for graft and corruption. was adequately provided for, a particularly impor-
During 1966 we succeeded in streamlining sig- tant factor in a society that stressesfamily relation-
nificantly the Vietnamese Armed Forces’ adminis- ships. Increased high-level concern for the soldier’s
trative procedures. On 1 January the Vietnamese lot and that of his family engenders greater per-
started a “by name” personnel strength accounting sonnel stability in the forces, which in turn insures
system, employing a punch card computer process a better armed force.
to establish rosters by unit. The Regional Forces In 1967 MACV and the Vietnamese Joint Gen-
came under this system on 1 July 1967 and the Pop- eral Staff took joint action to expand the commis-
ular Forces were scheduled to follow by the end of sary system in order to improve the diet of Viet-
1968. The new system produced many advantages, namese servicemen and their dependents while
some of them unexpected, such as savings to the reducing the price they had to pay for subsistence
government on the pay of personnel who had items. The U.S. contributed a one-time grant of 42
deserted. Closer scrutiny of personnel records dis- million dollars worth of food items, which when
closed payroll discrepancies amounting to hun- sold provided self-regenerating funds from which
dreds of thousands of piasters. In the first month stocks were replenished. Sales of the new items
that Vietnamese commanders faced the possibility began in September. By the end of the year reve-
that a survey would be made on all future deserters, nues exceeded a million dollars, covering the cost
the unprecedented sum of 33,000,OOOpiasters of overhead, construction, and equipment for
(about $280,000) was turned back to the finance further expansion. By the end of June 1968, 201
ofice. retail outlets were in operation, serving troops and
In November 1967 we helped form an ARVN dependents throughout Vietnam.
Adjutant General Corps to improve and refine ad- In July 1967 we began providing military engi-
ministration and management. To handle the neering assistanceto the Vietnamese to supplement
training for the various skills that would be re- two self-help dependent housing programs, one
quired, we helped set up an Adjutant General for the regular forces particularly in the III Corps
School that presented a program of instruction sim- and one for the Popular Forces countrywide. Our
ilar to our own. To improve the lot of the indi- men supplied and transported materials to the
vidual soldier, a number of pay adjustments, construction sites and provided technical advice,
refinements, and increases were introduced to re- but the Vietnamese remained in charge of the
duce financial pressures and inequities. The Viet- projects and did the actual construction work.
namese government instituted a liberal awards In the first six months of 1968 over 4,000
policy, revised and improved leave policies, regu- Popular Forces housing units were improved. Over-
larized promotions, initiated a system of battlefield all, however, becauseof the lack of skilled labor and
promotions, sanctioned direct appointments from materials and the major destruction from the
enlisted to commissioned ranks, and encouraged enemy’s Tet offensive, progress in the dependent
admission of regular enlisted men to Oficer Candi- housing program has been no more than modest.
date School. The Vietnamese soldier, like soldiers everywhere,
While working to improve administration, we is concerned about his future. Peace will someday
also strove to raise the standard of living of the come to the nation, and when it does there will be
individual soldier and his dependents. The South a vast number of veterans. Already a quarter cen-
Vietnamese soldier’s living conditions had to be tury of war has produced a significant veteran ele-

213
ment in the population, many of whom require pletely integrated basis. The operation was highly
assistance from the government. This need will successful.
greatly increase as the ranks of veterans swell. Although FAIRFAX provided valuable training
In 1968 the Ambassador approved my recom- for the Vietnamese Army, we learned that only in
mendation to transfer responsibility for the vet- limited and tightly controlled situations was such
erans’ program from the Agency for International a thorough integration desirable. We concentrated
Development to MACV. Working closely with the instead on combined operations, in which U.S. and
Vietnamese, my staff gave priority to appropriate Vietnamese units operated side-by-side in close co-
hospitalization and medical treatment for veterans, ordination, one in direct support of the other or on
classification and vocational training for the dis- a coequal basis. This afforded the South Viet-
abled, and job placement. The new program re- namese units the advantage of training in both the
moved men who were physically incapacitated planning and conduct of the operations. It also
from active rolls, making room for the able-bodied. made available to the Vietnamese units extra heli-
Well received by the Vietnam Veterans Adminis- copter, artillery, air, and logistical support, while
tration and the military in general, the program providing U.S. units additional maneuver bat-
soon showed encouraging progress. talions. I placed great emphasis on this type of
operation, and by 1968it had become the customary
Improving Performance way of operating throughout the Republic. As we
All our efforts to improve leadership and morale gained experience, the effectiveness of the system
within the Vietnamese forces had one ultimate steadily improved.
aim-to produce greater effectiveness on the battle- The problem of improving performance of the
field. However, to achieve this, another element Regional and Popular Forces was significantly
was required: we had to improve the combat skill more difficult than with the regular forces. There
and teamwork within the Vietnamese units. This were no U.S. advisors with the territorial units; and
was largely a matter of setting standards and pro- with thousands of these units deployed throughout
viding practice. This, of course, was one of the the country, any attempt to provide a permanent
major tasks of our advisors with the regular units. U.S. presence with them would prove expensive
After 1965 we had another asset which we could in manpower. The demand could only be met by
use in this job: the U.S. combat units which were tapping our American combat units.
displaying outstanding combat skill and compe- A number of factors caused us to delay before
tence. In 1966 we developed the “Buddy System,” instituting a standard approach to improving the
which involved the pairing off of American and training and effectiveness of territorial forces. We
Vietnamese units. The U.S. unit in this scheme had to bring the enemy main force threat under
provided a team to train its companion Vietnamese control-because the territorial forces were never
unit and later to work with it on actual operations. designed to stand off regimental-sized enemy
One of the most ambitious “Buddy System” pro- forces. We had also to await our own troop build-
grams was Operation FAIRFAX, a combined U.S.- up before we could find experienced officers and
Vietnamese operation in the area around Saigon, men in the required numbers. We needed to train
begun in November 1966 and continued into De- the necessary interpreters; and finally, we had to
cember 1967. In this operation the U.S. lst, 4th, and sell the Vietnamese on the usefulness and im-
25th Divisions and later the 199th Light Infantry portance of the program. In the meantime, we
Brigade and the Vietnamese 5th Ranger Group experimented on a broad basis to find the most
integrated their forces down to squad level, and efficient arrangement. To this end, I delegated
operations were planned and conducted on a com- responsibility to my principal American subordi-

214
nates to devise and carry out schemes to improve to live with the Vietnamese unit with which they
performance of territorial units within their areas. worked. They supervised small unit training and
In the I Corps, the Marines developed the Com- developed programs of instruction geared to the
bined Action Program, in which a squad of Ma- specific needs of the particular companies and pla-
rines lived in a village with a Popular Forces toons, including instruction in small unit opera-
platoon for an indefinite period. While training tions, employment of artillery and air strikes, and
and assisting with the local civic action program, construction of field fortifications. We also added
the Marines added to the security of the village and Mobile Administrative and Logistical Teams-
assured a proper climate for pacification. Under seven-man advisory teams designed to provide as-
these conditions the program has been singularly sistance to depots and area logistical commands,
successful and has been further expanded as the as well as to smaller units.
Marines could afford additional teams. I approved this comprehensive program and di-
In other areas, commanders devised mobile rected speedy implementation. By mid-1968 seven
training teams which rotated among Regional or Mobile Administrative and Logistical Teams and
Popular Force units conducting training and su- 192 Mobile Advisory Teams were functioning,
pervising performance. These mobile teams had with another 161 teams programmed for the last
the advantage of being able to conduct training half of the year.
for many territorial units, but the amount of time During 1967 and 1968 the Vietnamese Joint
which they could spend with each was limited. General Staff with our assistance and encourage-
Further, even under this system the demand for ment also developed programs to improve the
U.S. manpower from tactical units became exces- combat effectiveness of territorial units. Regional
sive as the Regional Force companies increased by Forces companies attended the National Training
the hundreds and the Popular Force platoons by Centers to undergo the same 12-week program of
the thousands. instruction given to the regular army soldier. Upon
In October of 1967, under the supervision of my completion of this training, each company took
deputy, General Abrams, the MACV staff joined training tests to determine what had been learned.
representatives from the field commands in an in- Also, the Central Training Command conducted
tensive study of ways to improve the combat effec- training inspections of units in the field to deter-
tiveness of Regional and Popular Force units. The mine how well they were maintaining proficiency.
training programs already adopted in various lo- Even as we worked to improve the effectiveness
calities served as points of departure. In the end we of South Vietnamese units through training, we
adopted a massive improvement program that had constantly to seek to upgrade weapons and
addressed all aspects of the administration, logisti- equipment. The matter of weapons was particu-
cal support, and tactical operations of territorial larly critical, since as early as 1964 the enemy had
units. began introducing modern Communist-bloc
Basically, we adopted the concept of Mobile Ad- weapons, including the highly effective AK-47
visory Teams which had been previously tried by automatic rifle. By 1967 all enemy main force and
General Weyand’s II Field Force. Mobile Advis- many local force units were equipped with this
ory Teams consisted of two American officers, weapon, which has a much higher rate of fire
three enlisted men, and a Vietnamese Army inter- than any of the U.S. World War II weapons with
preter. Each team worked in a specific area with which South Vietnamese troops were armed.
three to six Regional Forces companies and a num- The long-sought Ml6 automatic rifles for issue
ber of Popular Forces platoons. Like the Marine to the South Vietnamese forces began to arrive in
Combined Action Platoons, they were required April 1967 but in quantities that would equip only

215
the airborne and Marine battalions of the General men and the territorial forces by 110,000.The total
Reserve. After strong recommendations on my for all the armed forces was to be 622,000 men.
part, an accelerated schedule of Ml6 shipments The figure was limited by a piaster ceiling imposed
was approved in the fall of 1967, and by mid-1968 on the Vietnamese budget by the U.S. Mission
all regular infantry maneuver battalions had re- in coordination with the Vietnamese government
ceived the new weapon. By enabling the Viet- as a hedge against inflation. The ceiling continued
namese soldier to meet the AK-47 on equal or during the 1966-67 period to restrict the size of
better terms, the Ml6 provided a major morale and the Vietnamese Armed Forces. It was not until late
psychological boost. Although the Regional and in 1967 that the control was lifted, permitting fur-
Popular Forces were still fighting with older ther expansion.
weapons, we made priority plans to start equip Up through 1966 support for the Vietnamese
ping numbers of them with M16’s as they became forces was still being funded through the Military
available during 1968. Assistance Program, which was proving more and
One particular difficulty in our efforts to im- more inflexible and unresponsive to the changing
prove the performance of Vietnamese forces was requirements of the combat situation. This was
the lack of adequate data to determine where their rectified in March 1966 by an executive order,
major deficiencies lay. Advisors submitted a signed by President Johnson, which transferred
monthly report describing the conditions of their funding responsibility for support of the Vietnam-
units, but these reports lacked sufficient data to ese Armed Forces from the Military Assistance
provide a clear understanding of the situation at Program to the separate Services of the United
MACV level. To correct this lack, we instituted States Armed Forces. This was a significant im-
a comprehensive reporting system in January 1968. provement since it allowed each U.S. Service to
Known as the System for Evaluating the Effective- program materiel and services for its Vietnamese
ness of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (or counterpart in a flexible, responsive manner.
SEER for short), the report had two major sub- By the end of 1966 Vietnamese forces had
divisions, one for the regular forces and one for reached a strength of 623,000 with regular army
the territorial forces. Both reports were designed troops numbering some 302,808 men. The Army
for machine processing of the data, thereby simpli- contained 158 maneuver battalions, of which 153
fying the clerical and administrative work re- were considered combat effective. The great chal-
quired under the former reporting system. By pin- lenge facing these units was to alter the image of
pointing specific shortcomings for correction, these a defeated, demoralized army.
reports proved to be particularly valuable man- During 1967 Vietnamese forces were assigned
agement tools in our overall effort to improve the role of providing security for pacification as a
Vietnamese performance. primary mission. Each month of the year, some-
where between 50 and 60 battalions were commit-
Force Growth
ted to that role. Since the emphasis in support of
By the end of 1965 the immediate manpower pacification was on small unit operations against
crisis which had led to the moratorium on activa- lower elements in the spectrum of enemy forces,
tion of new units had passed, and expansion of the Vietnamese conducted fewer large operations
the force structure had been resumed. A substan- than in the preceding year, but the number of
tial increase appeared essential to provide security smaller operations more than doubled, as did the
for the pacification program. With MACV assist- number of enemy contacts. Nearly three-quarters
ance, the Vietnamese government took steps to of all small unit operations were conducted at
increase the size of its regular army by some 30,000 night. In terms of battalion-days spent on opera-

216
tions, combat activity increased in the last nine technicians in the age group 34 to 45 were liable
months of 1967 by 20 percent over the average of to involuntary recall to active service. Later, as the
the first three months. Throughout the year the result of the Tet offensive, reservists with less than
South Vietnamese troops displayed an increased five years active service were made subject to recall.
willingness to close with and destroy the enemy. On 1 April 1968 19-year-olds began to be called up,
Although the tremendous strides made by the and on 1 May, 18-year-olds. These callups were far
Vietnamese Armed Forces in the twelve-month more effectively enforced than those of the past, a
period beginning in mid-1967 were the result of direct reflection of the strength and ability of the
many factors, one of the more important was the government. In June the National Assembly voted
enactment and enforcement of mobilization dur- general mobilization into law and, upon approval
ing 1968. Having recognized as far back as 1966 by President Thieu, the interim period of mobili-
that the Vietnamese government would probably zation by decree came to an end.
have to resort ultimately to general mobilization, Under the mobilization decrees and later laws,
I had recommended to the Ambassador in June the strength of the Vietnamese Armed Forces
that planning be started. I considered it mandatory rapidly increased. In the first six months of 1968
that early advance planning be done on a Mission- total strength rose by some 122,000 men. The up-
wide basis, since mobilization would affect every surge in volunteers was mainly attributable to the
aspect of Vietnamese national life and extend far mobilization, effective enforcement of the draft,
beyond the areas of MACV responsibility. As the
and, in the wake of the Tet offensive, a noticeably
Vietnamese government at the time had no orga-
greater allegiance to the central government on
nization to meet this eventuality, I urged that we
the part of the people as a whole.
prepare the way by establishing an American
This kind of growth of the South Vietnamese
committee under the Ambassador’s direction to
Army had been our goal for years. In 1965 we
study Vietnamese mobilization. Based on this
committee’s report, a joint U.S.-Vietnamese com- had paid particular attention to expanding the
mission could then draft a mobilization program General Reserve-the airborne and Marine bat-
that could be instituted at a propitious time. talions. By year’s end two new airborne battalions
Since my proposal was not acted upon, I re- had been organized, bringing the total to eight.
newed it in May 1967. I stressed the immediate The same year we supported organization of a
need for a mobilization plan in the belief that the tenth infantry division, located east of Saigon in
forthcoming general elections in September would the III Corps, in a step toward providing secur-
set the stage for action. Upon the Ambassador’s ity in that vital area. We also began strengthening
request, a special manpower advisory mission com- the other divisions during the year by adding a
posed of economists and labor and management fourth battalion to each regiment; but because of
specialists arrived from the United States. Work- manpower, leadership, and training limitations,
ing with the Embassy and MACV staff, this mis- this program had to be carried out gradually and
sion developed the basic planning necessary for extended into 1968.
mobilization. Discussions then began with the In 1967 we converted the airborne brigade into
Vietnamese government. an airborne division and started actions to make it
On 24 October 1967 the Government Central capable of taking to the field and fighting as a
Executive Committee decreed partial mobilization. mobile independent force. Prior to this time single
The next day it was announced that on 1 January battalions or task forces of two to three battalions
1968 all males from 18 to 33 years of age would be had been used separately to reinforce corps and
eligible for conscription and that specialists and divisions. To fill out the division, a ninth airborne

217
329-525 O-69-15
battalion was created and became operational at fight. Instead of routing the South Vietnamese, the
the end of March 1968. enemy came up against unexpected resolution.
By mid-1968 South Vietnamese regular army Since that time it has become increasingly evi-
forces had reached a strength of 358,000 and in- dent that the Republic’s Army has gained confi-
cluded ten infantry divisions, three separate in- dence and resolve and is making even greater
fantry regiments, an airborne division, a Ranger efforts to find the enemy and drive him from the
command of 20 battalions, special forces, 11 ar- field. The fighting in and around Saigon in May
mored cavalry squadrons, and attendant support- and June 1968 again provided South Vietnamese
ing units. In all, there were 161 maneuver battal- forces the opportunity to prove their mettle. In
ions in the army structure. Regional Forces, these battles they decimated unit after unit of
consisting of 1,053 companies, had a strength of Communist infiltrators.
198,000; and Popular Forces, with 4,561 platoons, In the spring of 1968 the South Vietnamese
totalled 164,000. Army had never been in better shape. With volun-
By 1967 and 1968 capability of the South Viet- teers and an effective draft swelling its ranks, the
namese Army was keeping pace with its growth. training centers were filled to capacity and turn-
In November of 1967 a Vietnamese regiment re- ing out a record number of well-trained replace-
placed U.S. Marine units manning the eastern ments. The present-for-duty personnel strength in
portion of the line facing the Demilitarized Zone. the maneuver battalions, which are the cutting
In mid-December the 5th Ranger Group, after edge of an army and the true measure of its
having operated for a year in close harmony with strength, had reached an alltime high in a third
the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in the integrated of the battalions and the others were filling up
Operation FAIRFAX, was specially tailored with rapidly. The number of maneuver battalions also
infantry and artillery augmentation and given was at a peak, and the battalions had reached a
responsibility by the Vietnamese Joint General quality and combat effectiveness far surpassing
Staff for the defense of the area around Saigon. earlier achievements. One dark spot appeared,
Similarly, the airborne units developed into truly however. Desertions, having dropped to an all-
professional outfits in 1967 and made outstanding time low in January, had risen sharply again by
contributions to the overall effort. mid-year.
The ultimate test of the Vietnamese Army’s im- In 1964 we undertook a program to increase the
provement came with the 1968 Tet offensive. Dur- number of Vietnamese Air Force fighter squadrons
ing this violent attack, units defended their posi- to six, which when completed in 1965 gave the
tions well, even though many were undermanned Vietnamese a total of 150 A-l fighters. At the same
because of holiday leaves. In a number of instances, time we increased the number of liaison aircraft
the South Vietnamese launched effective counter- from 62 to 126. Concurrently, we worked to im-
attacks. Of the 149 ARVN infantry battalions, 42 prove combat effectiveness, and by 1967 the Viet-
performed exceptionally well and only eight un- namese were flying 25 percent of all sorties flown
satisfactorily. Although one of the enemy’s goals inside South Vietnam. By 1968 the personnel
was to promote large-scale defections, that failed strength had risen to over 16,000, and a total of
to happen. Morale and esprit of the Vietnamese 398 aircraft included one squadron of F-5 “Free-
Army was good and in many cases higher than dom Fighter” jets. During the Tet offensive sev-
before the Tet offensive. In Saigon two provisional eral Vietnamese fighter squadrons performed
battalions were formed from soldiers who volun- superbly, flying a record number of missions and
tarily returned from leave status to take up the delivering accurate and timely strikes. However,

218
the performance of some other squadrons, even by The Futuse
mid-1968, still left something to be desired.
By late 1967 I was able to conclude that the
Since 1967 Vietnamese Navy personnel have trend of development of the Vietnamese Armed
manned Coastal Surveillance Centers with U.S. Forces was such that, given aclditional modern
Navy counterparts. In the latter half of 1967 Viet- equipment, they could progressively take over
namese ships for the first time relieved American a larger part of the war. I therefore projected a
ships on coastal barrier stations, part of a con- program that would give them the capability to
tinuing program to phase out our Navy in the replace some U.S. troops by 1970. The Vietnam-
coastal surveillance effort. In 1968 the Vietnamese ese leadership readily accepted the concept and
Navy also assumed responsibility for minesweep- aggressively pursued the program. To prepare
ing operations on the shipping channels leading for such a takeover will require continued effort
from the South China Sea to Saigon. The U.S. to increase the size and quality of the Vietnamese
Navy turned over several of its minesweeping military forces and to accelerate to the extent pos-
boats and river patrol boats to the Vietnamese for sible the required balance between combat, com-
this purpose. By the beginning of 1968 the Viet- bat support, and service support clcmcnts of the
total force.
namese Navy had more than doubled in size since
By mid-1968 with the national mobilization
1964 and consisted of some 16,000 officers and
program filling the armed forces personnel needs,
men. It was a combat effective force and had de-
expansion was proceeding on a sound basis. A
veloped a capability for sustained operations.
weapons modernization program, including the
Vietnamese Marine strength had by 1968reached Ml6 rifle, was well underway. Above all, a new
8,900 men organized into six infantry battalions confidence permeated the Vietnamese Armed
and one artillery battalion. Marine units played Forces and an air of professionalism was becoming
a significant role in the defense of Saigon during evident within the leadership. All signs pointed to-
both the Tet and May/June offensives. During ward the day when they would indeed be able to
1968 plans were made to augment the Marine relieve American troops of an ever greater share
brigade and organize it as a light Marine division. of the war.

219
Annex to Appendix B

FINAL ADVICE TO VIETNAMESE COMMANDERS *


1. The most competent and honest officers should be installed as province
and district chiefs. Your best fighters and disciplinarians should be placed in
command of combat troops.
2. Insure that each commander takes a personal interest in the welfare of his
troops and their dependents.
3. Continuously concentrate on timely intelligence and gear your organiza-
tion to react immediately thereto, both with respect to enemy military elements
and political infrastructure.
4. Take extraordinary steps to deny the enemy knowledge of your plans
and operations.
5. Emphasize night operations to gain the initiative on the enemy and deny
his freedom of movement.
6. Appreciate that the greatest gain that can be made with minimum
resources is improvement in the performance and morale of the Regional and
Popular Forces.
7. Give more emphasis to administrative and logistical support organiza-
tions that are essential to sustained combat operations.
8. Training must be a continuous process with more attention given to
in-place classes and exercises, when the tactical situation permits. Psywar and
motivational training are essential parts of this program.
9. Pacification must be supported by all elements of the Government of
Vietnam, of which the RVNAF is a major part. All soldiers must realize their
important role and be required to assume always a proper, friendly, and helpful
attitude toward the people.
10. Maintain the offensive spirit.

*At a farewell luncheon given by Vietnamese senior commanders in his honor on 20 May 1968,
General Westmoreland reemphasized a number of fundamentals. Although not new, these matterswere
of such importance that they demanded constant attention of all Vietnamese commanders. Each Vietnamese.
U.S., and Free World commander was given this summary of major points made.

220
Appendix C

FREE WORLD ASSISTANCE

In April and December of 1964 President John- The involvement of ethnically and culturally dis-
son publicly requested that nations of the Free similar nations in the common clcfense of Vietnam
World unite in the effort to stop the spread of provided heartening evidence of the unity of na-
communism in the Republic of Vietnam. Such a tions in the cause of freedom and discredited
request was not unexpected in view of the wors- the Communist propaganda theme that the
ening military situation and the earlier expressed Vietnamese conflict was the product of American
SEATO concern that the defeat of the Com- “imperialism.”
munist-supported insurgency in Vietnam was As in the defense of any worthy cause, the com-
essential to the safety of all of Southeast Asia. bating of Hanoi’s aggression was not achieved
While recognizing the seriousness of this threat without national sacrifice and the cost of human
and its consequences to future security, many of lives. During the period from January 1965 until
the Free World nations had internal and domestic late 1968, the participating military forces of the
problems that argued against active contribution non-U.S. Free World suffered 8,500 casualties. Of
to this effort. Despite these obstacles, however, this number, over 2,500 soldiers were killed.
many nations did respond and the total of 500 Free In order to better appreciate the scope of par-
World participants in Vietnam in 1964 rapidly ticipation of these nations, a brief resume of some
grew to over 22,003 by the end of 1965. This total of the major contributions follows.
continued to expand through the succeeding years
Australia
until over 62,400 non-U.S. Free World participants
were actively engaged in Vietnam by mid-1968. Australia was the first Free World nation to
Apart from the actual combat forces provided by provide assistance to the Republic of Vietnam,
four of the Free World nations, 35 other nations beginning even before President Johnson’s appeal.
contributed food, medical supplies, technical ad- Early in 1962 Australia sent a 30-man group of
visors, equipment, educational facilities, instruc- training advisors to the nation. These individuals
tors, and over $200 million in grants, loans, credits, were jungle warfare specialists and proved a valu-
or gifts to support the Vietnamese war effort. able addition to the U.S. advisory program. In
Not only have these military and nonmilitary August 1964 this initial effort was supplemented
contributions of the Free World been significant with an aviation detachment consisting of six light
in thwarting a Communist victory, but they have transport aircraft and 73 maintenance and opera-
also been of major importance in supporting the tional personnel. The detachment was quickly in-
nation-building efforts of the Vietnamese people. tegrated into the Southeast Asia airlift capability

221
and provided valuable logistic support to dispersed 1966. They destroyed over 300 of the enemy, cap-
Vietnamese military units. tured large stores of materiel and assisted in se-
In response to’ the growing intensity of the curing Highway 15.
Communist offensive, Australia made its first com- In early 1967 the Australian Government de-
mitment of combat troops in June 1965. The ini- clared its intention again to expand its military
tial task force was comprised of the Headquarters, contribution to Vietnam and the first aircraft of
Australian Army, Far East, and the First Battalion a Royal Australian Air Force Canberra light
of the Royal Australian Regiment reinforced with bomber squadron arrived in Phan Rang in April
signal and logistic support elements. Included in of that year. This action was closely followed by
this total of approximately 1,400 personnel were the addition of the HMAS Hobart, a guided mis-
100 additional jungle warfare advisors to sup- sile destroyer, to the U.S. Navy’s surveillance
port the original training detachments. Although force off the eastern coast of Vietnam. In addition
the combat actions of this contingent were limited to its normal patrol mission, the Hobart partici-
to local security operations during 1965, their pro- pated in regular naval gunfire support operations
fessionalism and aggressiveness were praised by during this period. As the year ended, another
U.S. advisors and members of the 173d Airborne battalion combat team of nearly 1,900 troops with
Brigade to which the infantry elements were at- supporting engineer, armor, and helicopter ele-
tached. A military working agreement between ments began debarkation in Phuoc Tuy Province.
the commander of the Australian Army Forces, With this increase, Australian strength in Vietnam
Vietnam, and the commander of MACV placed approximated 7,500 personnel.
all Australian forces in Vietnam under the opera- The tactical value of the Australian force was re-
tional control of the U.S. commander. With the peatedly demonstrated in operations which pro-
exception of Korea, comparable command ar- duced heavy enemy casualties and the capture of
rangements were concluded with other Free World large quantities of Communist weapons. The ac-
military forces. tivities of the Special Air Service Squadron were
In April 1966 Australia expanded its original particularly noteworthy and significantly contrib-
task force with an additional infantry battalion uted to the successful operations of the task force.
augmented with artillery, armor, and support ele- This highly-trained reconnaissance group pro-
ments. Included in this force was a squadron of the vided continuous surveillance throughout the area
Special Air Service, a highly specialized recon- of operations, detected the enemy, and permitted
naissance unit. This commitment raised the Aus- the infantry battalions to concentrate rapidly on
tralian combat strength in Vietnam to slightly over forces moving through the zone or established base
4,500 troops. Upon the arrival of these reinforce- areas. As prisoner-of-war interrogations revealed,
ments, the First Battalion, Royal Australian Regi- the ubiquitous and secretive operations of the
ment, having completed almost a year of combat squadron enervated the enemy and greatly re-
service in Vietnam, departed. duced his initiative. The advisory efforts of the
After a brief training period, the task force came Australians were also commendable. They pro-
under the operational control of the U.S. II Field vided skilled and sensitive advisors to the sectors
Force and moved to Phuoc Tuy Province with the and subsectors of the province as well as reorganiz-
mission of supporting pacification operations along ing and training Vietnamese Regional and Popular
Highway 15 and in the eastern portion of the Forces throughout the area.
critical Rung Sat Special Zone. The effectiveness Australia’s support of the Vietnamese war effort
of the Australian contingent was clearly illustrated was not solely confined to military operations in the
during a series of operations in August-December field. As early as July 1964, a 12-man engineer civic

222
action team arrived to assist in local development niques. The favorable impression created by the
projects. In April 1967 two civilian surgical teams Korean contingent resulted in a second Vietnamese
began ministering to the needs of the Phuoc Tuy government request for additional noncombatant
population and initiated an extensive program of forces to assistin projected civic action and training
home nursing classes. From these modest begin- programs. Korea responded in March of 1965 by
nings, Australia provided an increasingly wide furnishing an army engineer battalion with asso-
range of aid to Vietnam under the Colombo Plan ciated support and self-defense troops. The “Dove
and by direct bilateral negotiations. Economic and Unit,” aptly titled in consideration of its peaceful
technical assistance has totaled more than $10.5 mission, was based in Bien Hon Province and sys-
million since 1966, and includes the provision of tematically initiated a series of comprehensive local
water and road construction technicians, experts #improvement programs oriented toward public
in dairy and crop practices, and the training of 130 health, sanitation, rural development, and trans-
Vietnamese in Australian vocational and technical portation improvement. The Koreans proved
schools. In the field of refugee resettlement, Aus- themselves adept in establishing a rapport with
tralia has provided over 11/4 million textbooks, the local population by stressing the kinship of
thousands of sets of handtools, and over 3,000 tons aspirations and the “b,rotherhood” of the Asiatic
of construction materials for resettlement villages. peoples.
Recognizing the necessity and importance of an As the military situation in Vietnam became
adequate communications system to disseminate more grave, the Korean government approved a
government policy to the people, Australian tech- proposal to send major combat forces to the Re-
nicians constructed a 50-kilowatt broadcasting sta- public of Vietnam. As a result of this decision, ele-
tion at Ban Me Thuot and distributed over 400 ments of the two-regiment Capital Infantry
radio receivers to civilian communities in the (Tiger) Division and the Marine (Dragon) Bri-
transmission area. gade landed in October 1965 and were assigned the
mission of providing security for the Cam Ranh
Republic of Korea
Bay and Qui Nhon areas. While units of the in-
Next to the United States, the nation supply- fantry division remained in the vicinity of Qui
ing the greatest amount of assistance to the Re- Nhon, the Dragon Brigade assumed the role of a
public of Vietnam has been the Republic of Korea. mobile “trouble shooter” and displaced from Cam
This is particularly significant considering the po- Ranh Bay to Tuy Hoa, then to a zone south of
tentially explosive security situation existing along Chu Lai, and finally to the Da Nang area in Quang
the Republic’s borders with the Communist regime Nam Province.
of North Korea. It is also indicative of the concern In response to a further request, the Republic of
the Republic of Korea has manifested for the free- Korea sent the 9th (White Horse) Division and a
dom, progress, and liberty of its Asian contempora- regimental combat team to round out the Capital
ries. Division during the April-September 1966 pe-
Reacting to President Johnson’s call for “more riod. With the influx of these troops, approximately
flags” in the Vietnamese struggle, Korea dispatched 45,600 Korean soldiers had become actively en-
a 130-man mobile surgical hospital and a small gaged in combat operations against the Communist
group of karate instructors in August of 1964. The enemy. Upon its arrival, the White Horse Division
surgical hospital was employed to meet the bur- assumed responsibility for security missions in the
geoning medical needs of the civilian population coastal area extending from Phan Rang to Tuy
while the karate instructors were used in training Hoa. Eventually the two divisions linked their sec-
Vietnamese Army personnel in close-combat tech- tors and the Koreans, in coordination with Viet-

223
namese and U.S. forces, provided security for the Vietnamese Joint General Staff serving as the Coun-
greater part of the coastal area of the II Corps zone, cil Chairman. Through the efforts of the council,
which included several key logistic ports and a cri- operational or policy problems regarding the par-
tical portion of Highway 1. Within the area as- ticipants were minimized and combined opera-
signed to the Korean forces, the enemy has been tions were proven both feasible and successful.
progressively destroyed-not only combat units While the financial and materiel assistance pro-
but political and subversive infrastructure as well. vided by Korea to Vietnam was necessarily limited,
From the time of their entry into the country, the Koreans initiated comprehensive and imagina-
the Korean units showed themselves to be highly tive civic action programs among the populations
professional, tactically skilled, and dangerous ad- within their areas of operation. Since a sizeable per-
versaries. Indicative of their proficiency was the centage of the Korean troops had agricultural
MAENG HO 6 campaign of September-Novem- backgrounds, a natural kinship existed with the
ber 1966, in which the Koreans decimated two rural inhabitants of Vietnam and improvements in
major Communist units and killed nearly 1,200 of farming techniques and village accommodations
the enemy. Korean forces have conducted a num- resulted. Korean military units tended to identify
ber of the most imaginative and skillful operations themselves with specific hamlets or areas and con-
of the war. They are masters at the patient collec- centrated their talents and resources on these spe-
tion of intelligence and the violent and effective cific targets. As a result, a continuity of programs
exploitation of that intelligence once they have and progress was established. In addition to mili-
it in hand. tary medical assistance, seven Korean civilian
medical teams, comprised of 118 doctors, nurses,
During the summer of 1967 Korea furnished
and technicians, donated their services toward
another 2,962 combat troops. A Marine battalion
instituting several provincial health programs. As
was provided to reinforce the Dragon Brigade and
with the military effort, this overture was well
additional service personnel arrived to support the
received by the civilian population.
expanded Korean force. The Korean Marines cele-
brated the arrival of their brother battalion in Op- Thailand
eration DRAGON FIRE (September-October
1967) by disposing of nearly 600 of the enemy who Historically, Thailand had pursued a course of
had persisted in their operations in the Quang Ngai neutrality and nonintervention in the affairs of
area. its neighbors. Consequently, Thailand’s welcome
Although Korean military forces work closely decision to participate actively in the defense of
and in a spirit of mutual cooperation with U.S. Vietnam represented a departure from its ancient
and Vietnamese units, they are a separate tactical and traditional philosophy of nonalignment. The
entity and not under U.S. operational control. fact that this departure was taken in the face of
Under the provisions of a working military ar- Chinese Communist threats of reprisal and indica-
rangement between U.S., Korean, and Vietnamese tions of an incipient insurgency in its own north-
commanders, it was agreed that the Korean Task eastern provinces commends the courage and re-
Force would function within the operational and solve of the Thai nation.
policy parameters established by what later came Thailand’s first contribution to the Vietnamese
to be known as the Free World Military Assist- war effort was made in late 1964, when a 13-man
ance Council. This Council was composed of the Royal Thai Air Force training contingent was sent
Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command to Vietnam to assistin flying and maintaining some
Vietnam (COMUSMACV), the Commander of of the cargo aircraft possessedby the Vietnamese
Korean Forces in Vietnam, and the Chief of the Air Force. As an adjunct to this program, the

224
Royal Thai Air Force also provided jet aircraft people-to-people program has made them close and
transition training to approximately 24 Vietnamese participating members of the local Vietnamese
pilots. communities. A typical example of their efforts
In mid-1966 Thai concern over the course of the was demonstrated during the NARASUAN op-
war resulted in the decision to provide the Repub- eration during which time a hospital was built for
lic of Vietnam with several cargo and patrol boats the local populace, 48 kilometers of new roads
plus a 200-man Royal Thai Navy support and were constructed, and nearly 49,000 civilian pa-
training detachment. Concurrently, the aviation tients were treated by Thai medical units. In both
detachment was expanded to a strength of 31. military and nonmilitary operations, Thailand’s
Motivated by the fact that Thailand could well support of the Vietnamese war has been of out-
become the next target of the Communists if standing value.
Vietnam should fall, the Thai government an-
New Zealand
nounced the decision to send combat units to that
nation. On the date of the announcement (30 De- New Zealand first contributed assistance on 20
cember 1966), over 5,000 civilians in Bangkok July 1964, in the form of a military engineer pla-
volunteered for duty with the expeditionary force. toon and surgical team for use in local civic action
The first element of the Royal Thai Volunteer projects. These teams were replaced in 1965 by a
Regiment, the “Queen’s Cobras,” arrived in Saigon 105-mm howitzer battery whose primary mission
on 15 July 1967. Th is f orce soon reached a strength was support of the Australian Task Force in Phuoc
of 2,207 with its augmentation of engineer, cav- Tuy Province. The battery was increased from four
alry, and support elements. Following an orienta- to six howitzers in mid-1966 to provide additional
tion period with the U.S. 9th Infantry Division, fire support. In December 1967 an infantry com-
the Thai regiment was assigned a security mission pany reinforced by an engineer detachment and
on the eastern approaches to Saigon. support personnel were added to the New Zealand
Upon the completion of a series of small uni- contingent, bringing the total commitment to ap-
lateral and larger combined operations with Viet- proximately 517 men. As the battery and its secu-
namese units, the Thai regiment launched its first rity element are primarily in support of the Aus-
large-scale separate operation (NARASUAN) in tralian Task Force, the tactical successesof the
October of 1967. The efforts of the Thai forces Australian Task Force are equally the successes
greatly assisted the pacification of the Nhon Trach of the New Zealand elements.
District of Bien Hoa Province and resulted in 145 New Zealand financial aid commenced in 1966,
enemy killed. As combat soldiers, the Thai were and has averaged approximately $350,000 (U.S.)
found to be resourceful and determined individ- annually. This sum has financed several mobile
uals who took great pride in their professionalism. health teams to support refugee camps, the training
It was announced in late 1967 that the Thai gov- of village vocational experts, and the establishment
ernment would increase the size of its contingent of a 15-man surgical team in the Qui Nhon/Bong
in Vietnam to that of a division of two brigades Son area. Other appropriated support has funded
with a total strength of over 11,000 men. The re- the cost of medical and instructional material for
mainder of the volunteer “Black Panther” Division Hue University and the expansion of Saigon Uni-
was scheduled to join these forces in January 1969. versity. During 1967-68 nearly $500,000 (U.S.) of
The Thai units have been especially active in private civilian funds were donated for Vietnamese
civic action projects within their areas of responsi- student scholarships in New Zealand and increased
bility. Their ability to engage in an effective medical/refugee aid.

225
Republic of the Philippines Reptrblic of China-Since 1966, the Republic of
China has provided an 80-man agricultural team,
The Republic of the Philippines initially pro- an 18-man military psychological warfare team,
vided three medical teams and 18 civic action/ and a 9-man electric power mission to supervise
psychological operations advisors to the Vietnam- construction and operations of the 33,000 KW
ese effort in August 1964. By the end of 1965 this power plant located at Thu Due. In 1967 the team
element had been expanded to a total of 72 in- of electric power advisors was expanded to 34, and
dividuals and included a public health detach- a 16-man surgical group was introduced into the
ment. Although small in numbers, it was estimated country to assist in expanding public health
that this organization treated nearly 100,000 pa- programs.
tients during its existence and that over 16,000 of China has also arranged technical training for
these casesrequired some form of surgical care. more than 200 Vietnamese in Taiwan. In the way
In August 1966 a 2,000-man Philippine Civic Ac- of goods and materials, they have provided alumi-
tion Group (PHILCAG) was sent to assist the num prefabricated warehouses, agricultural tools,
Vietnamese authorities in Tay Ninh Province with seeds, fertilizers, 500,000 copies of mathematics
small teams in several other provinces. The PHIL- textbooks, and over 5,000 tons of rice.
CAG was a self-contained organization consisting lapan-Japan has provided over $55 million
of an Army engineer battalion, rural health and worth of economic assistance to Vietnam since
civic action teams, a station hospital, and a security 1966. Principal aid in the 1967-1968 period in-
group of infantry, armor, and artillery detach- cluded scholarships for students, the construction
ments. U.S. troops provided area security until of a neurological surgery ward in Saigon, and the
Philippine security forces became fully operational provision of 25 ambulances to the Vietnamese gov-
and thereafter worked in close cooperation with ernment. Of particular importance to the future
them. economy of the nation has.been the provision of
During the past two years (1967-1968) the civic technical personnel and funds for the constructioll
action group has cleared a large section of the of a large power dam across the Da Nhim River
Thanh Dien forest, long an enemy stronghold, and the creation of an electric power distribution
and has constructed a resettlement village for 1,000 system to support this project.
families. It has also undertaken substantial road Germany-German economic and humanitar-
repair projects, renovated schools and dispensa- ian aid has averaged about $7.5 million annually
ries, constructed playgrounds, and provided exten- since 1966, and more than 200 German nationals
sive medical assistance and training to the popula- are now serving in Vietnam. In 1966 the Federal
tion. The Philippine contribution has been appre- Republic of Germany also contributed the $2 mil-
ciated and respected by all who have come in con- lion hospital ship Helgoland to provide medical
tact with it. assistance to the civilian population. The ship was
initially stationed near Saigon where more than
Other Nations
21,000 out-patient treatments were given to approx-
It would be impractical to cover in detail the imately 6,700 patients from September 1966 until
multitude of nonmilitary contributions made to 30 June 1967. Over 850 major surgical caseswere
the Vietnamese conflict by other nations of the also treated. In October of 1967 the Helgoland
Free World. This is not to imply that these con- shifted its operations to Da Nang. To date, it has
tributions were not important, but rather to indi- remained in this location.
cate the necessity of limiting comments regarding In March 1967 the German government’s Malt-
support or participation to those nations most di- ese Aid Service team for the care of refugees was
rectly involved in the war. increased from its 1966 level of 25 people to 47,
226
consisting of six doctors, two dentists, and 39 renovation and expansion of hospital facilities in
nurses and vocational teachers. Operating from Cholon. The Dutch government has also desig-
subbases in An Hoa, Da Nang, and Hoi An, the nated $1 million in funds in trust for United
teams have dispensed regular health and refugee Nations projects in Vietnam.
care. The dedication of the Maltese Service per- United Kingdom-The United Kingdom has
sonnel has won universal recognition and appre- supplied economic aid valued at $2.4 million since
ciation from the civilian populace, the Vietnamese 1965. It has provided police advisors, teachers,
authorities, and members of the Free World mili- technical experts, and a 26member pediatric team
tary effort. to assist in the Saigon area.
German teachers are supporting the new Tech- While only a few of the larger contributions of
nical High School at Thu Due as well as serving the Free World to Vietnam have been cited, it
on the faculty of Hue University. Other assistance should be recognized that significant funds, ma-
has included the construction and staffing of nine teriel, and humanitarian aid from Europe, the
social centers in Saigon, the establishment of a Middle East, India, Pakistan, Africa, Canada, and
training center for Vietnamese social workers, and South America have been contributed to ease the
the operation of an orphanage in Phuoc Hoa. In war-torn conditions of Vietnam. Taken collec-
support of these projects, the Federal Republic has tively or singularly, each of these contributions has
made substantial contributions of medical equip- exercised a helpful impact upon the conduct of the
ment and pharmaceuticals. war and has, either directly or indirectly, sup-
Through the provision of liberal credits, the ported the tactical operations of the Free World’s
same government has encouraged the develop- military forces and the nation-building efforts of
ment of a major industrial complex in the An the Vietnamese government.
Hoa-Nong Son vicinity.
The assistance provided by other nations of the
Malaysia-Since 1964 Malaysia has trained al- Free World to the Republic of Vietnam since 1964,
most 3,000 Vietnamese military and police officers.
has clearly revealed a sense of common purpose
Groups of 30 to 60 men are regularly sent for
and unity among these nations. It has further
training in counterinsurgency techniques with the
served notice to the Communist powers of Asia
Malaysian Police Special Constabulary. Malaysia
that the Free World will forcibly and collectively
has also provided some counterinsurgency equip-
resist the destruction of one of its members by a
ment, primarily police and military transport
Communist-inspired or supported insurgency. It
vehicles.
has clearly demonstrated that the desire for na-
The Netherlands-The Netherlands aid pro
gram, which began in 1965, has financed scholar- tional identity and independence is stronger than
ships for Vietnamese doctors, the construction and the divisive factors of culture, custom, or ethnic
equipping of three tuberculosis centers, and the dissimilarity.

227
Appendix D

PACIFICATION

The Concept We concluded early that the provision of sus-


tained territorial security was fundamental to the
Pacification is the very difficult process of es- success of pacification-security from the Viet
tablishing or reestablishing effective local self-gov- Cong local armed forces and guerrilla units and
ernment within the political framework of the the main force VC and North Vietnamese regular
legitimate central government and its constitution. armed forces. Territorial security also included the
protection of the people within a hamlet from the
Putting it the other way around, it aims to re-
Viet Cong underground government and terrorist
assert lawful governmental control by removing
and subversive elements.
the enemy’s underground apparatus. It includes
Pacification is a two-way street. The South Viet-
the provision of sustained and credible territorial
namese government has to demonstrate its will-
security and the genuine, voluntary involvement ingness and ability to communicate with the peo-
of the people as well as the initiation of self- ple, assure them of an environment in which they
sustaining and expanding economic and social could better their living conditions, and afford
activity. The economic element of pacification in- them an opportunity to have a voice in their
cludes the opening of roads and waterways and the own affairs. The people, in turn, are expected to
commit themselves actively to supporting the gov-
maintaining of lines of communication important
ernment and rejecting the Viet Cong insurgency.
to economic and military activity. To succeed, pacification has to be a genuinely
The objectives of pacification are not so difficult Vietnamese endeavor although supported by
to describe but the attainment of those objectives United States advice, military support, commodi-
involves cultural and social forces not so easy to ties, and funds. That pacification has succeeded to
understand and certainly not easy to manage. The the degree that it has attests to the growing com-
petence of the South Vietnamese government and
aspects of pacification most easy to measure are
also to the sincere devotion to duty and consider-
often not the crucial aspects-and conversely, the able sophistication of the various representatives
less tangible aspects are not easy to perceive, let of the many U.S. governmental agencies serving
alone measure. in Vietnam.

229
History annexing and consolidating adjacent areas and
thus spreading slowly outward from a firm base.
After the French departed in 1954, the Diem
It was a rather mechanistic concept with no real
government approached pacification by establish-
political content. Although this plan put somewhat
ing Land Development Centers and then agro-
greater emphasis on economic assistance than had
&es-protected farming communities. The latter
earlier plans, it treated pacification as an adjunct
were relatively unpopular because they were gen-
of military planning and operations.
erally constructed by forced labor and involved
relocation from traditional hamlet and village HOP TAC
areas. Nevertheless, these efforts did include
rather thoughtful economic planning in those areas By mid-1964 political upheavals and military de-
selected for development. feats had thrown the country into a deep crisis.
The agrodes were followed by the Strategic A series of coups and attempted coups caused a
Hamlet program patterned very much after the steady decline in government effectiveness. Insti-
British experience in Malaya. Unfortunately, the tutions of government formed during the regime
two situations were only superficially similar, and of President Diem progressively deteriorated. The
the scheme was destined for failure from the gains of the previous eight years were steadily
outset. This program intended to protect the popu- vanishing.
lace from the Viet Cong by gathering the people To counter the ominous and growing threat to
into fortified hamlets. It meant, in most cases,mov- Saigon itself, I persuaded the Vietnamese high
ing farmers away from their ancestral holdings command to participate in a combined effort to
where earlier generations had built their homes, plan and execute a major operation which would
farmed their land, and buried their dead. Since use the “spreading oil spot” concept to extend gov-
these procedures tended to dislocate traditionally ernment influence outward from the capital of
close Vietnamese family ties, the program was not Saigon. In those days we had little to offer but
popular among the people, to say the least. Of the good ideas and moral support but we did all that
16,000 hamlets planned, 9,000 were built. Addi- we could. They called the program HOP TAC,
tionally, the program was overly ambitious and which means cooperation or coordination. Its prin-
tried to move too fast without rooting out the VC cipal distinction from previous pacification at-
infrastructure as it progressed. Because of a short- tempts lay in the comprehensive nature and format
age of security forces, the hamlets were vulnerable of the combined planning effort on which it was
to enemy attack and, even more frequently, to in- based, including participation by all the responsi-
filtration and subversion by the Viet Cong. The ble governmental ministries. For the first time, a
program collapsed shortly after the Diem govern- concept of pacification was hammered out which
ment was overthrown in November 1963. not only defined more precisely the missions of the
During the next several months, governmental military and paramilitary forces but also sought
instability caused security in the countryside to de- to complement the military/paramilitary functions
generate to the point where the Viet Cong were with the essential civil activities. A full descrip-
able to consolidate their holdings in the rural dis-
tion of HOP TAC is included in my observations in
tricts and extend their sphere of influence. Never-
theless, in 1964 the government tried to renew the the chapter covering the year 1964. Unfortunately,
pacification effort with a Chien Thang (Victory) the government was not strong or effective enough
National Pacification Plan, which relied on a to carry off such a program, and it did not prosper.
“spreading oil spot” concept. The idea was to ex- However, the troop disposition associated with it
pand slowly and thoroughly from loyal areas by may well have saved Saigon. The year 1965 was

230
one of great labor which gave forth a very modest hygiene, sanitation, education, and medical facili-
result. ties.
The idea was that each Revolutionary Develop-
Revolutionary Development
ment team would remain in its assigned hamlet for
Two developments were underway that were three to six months. We soon found that some
to influence the course of events. Certain U.S. could move on more quickly while others needed
civilian agencies took an imaginative lead in these to stay for a year or more. We were dealing with
matters. The first was the integration of the vari- attitudes-not solely with bridges and schools. Al-
ous disparate cadre elements into unified 59-man though the Ministry of Revolutionary Develop-
Revolutionary Development Cadre teams operat- ment would assist the team, most help was to be
ing under the Ministry of Revolutionary Develop- provided by the other governmental ministries. Un-
ment. Heretofore, there had been the Mobile Ad- fortunately, in the early days those ministries were,
ministrative Cadre, the Rural Political Cadre, and in most areas, not up to the job.
People’s Action Teams, to name a few. The core The Revolutionary Development teams them-
of the new Revolutionary Development Cadre selves required a measure of sophistication seldom
team was a People’s Action Team, which was to available. Recruited from the local areas to which
undergo a new program of training at the National they would return, many members of the teams
Cadre Center at Vung Tau. The teams also in- had limited education and a limited understanding
cluded subelements to start the rudimentary as- of the process in which they were involved.
pects of political, economic, and social develop- Three other kinds of teams performed duties
ment at the hamlet level. The second change was similar to those of the Revolutionary Development
the application of the HOP TAC concept to the teams. In the highlands, Truong Son (the Viet-
other three corps areas, thereby establishing four namese name for the Annamite Mountain Chain)
National Priority areas in Quang Nam, Binh groups composed mainly of members of Mon-
Dinh, and An Giang Provinces, and the Saigon tagnard origin conducted a program modified to
periphery. meet the particular needs of the highland tribal
Since we had long realized that security against populations. When progress in achieving security
enemy attacks and acts of terrorism was the first outdistanced available Revolutionary Development
order of business on which all other activities de- teams, so-called Civil-Military teams were formed.
pended, all the members of the Revolutionary De- These teams were first established in Binh Dinh
velopment Cadre team were armed and trained in Province in the II Corps and were tailored to meet
basic military tactics and techniques. Over half of local needs. They consisted of an armed element
the 59 men had the mission of providing security from the Popular or Regional Forces, a civic action
for the team and the hamlet to which they were team, and a propaganda team.
assigned and of organizing and training people’s In the I Corps, the U.S. Marines employed Com-
self-defense groups in each hamlet. Another part bined Action Platoons, consisting of 15 U.S. Ma-
of the team was charged with setting up a hamlet rines and 34 Vietnamese Popular Forces soldiers.
government, conducting a census, and acting upon The Marines lived with their Popular Forces com-
the grievances and complaints of the residents as patriots in the hamlet or village which they were
well as motivating the people to support their local assigned to secure. While adding considerable
non-Viet Cong government. A third part of the fighting strength, the Marines trained their coun-
team was concerned with economic and social terparts in military matters and instituted many
processessuch as organizing farmers’ associations; civic action projects. Providing both combat and
developing public works projects; and improving logistic support, the Marines did much to establish

231
mutual respect between themselves and the Viet- portance of territorial security was recognized by
namese. I encouraged the expansion of this highly the Vietnamese as more than 50 regular Vietnamese
successful program, and by the end of June 1968, Army battalions and almost all of the Regional and
82 Combined Action Platoons were functioning in Popular Forces were committed to this effort.
the zone of the I Corps. While operating against the enemy’s local and
The Revolutionary Development effort grew guerrilla forces, the Vietnamese regular battalions
steadily. On 1 January 1967 588 Revolutionary were prepared to counter any move into an area
Development Cadre and Truong Son teams were by the enemy’s main forces. The Regional Forces,
operating in the countryside. Including 4,400 generally of company size, also operated against
trainees, a total of 38,600 Vietnamese were by then the enemy’s local forces and provided security
engaged in the Revolutionary Development pro- around and between the hamlets of a village. They,
gram. By June 1968 the number of teams had in turn, supported and reinforced units of the
increased to 777, and a total of 53,000 Vietnamese Popular Forces, usually of platoon size, which were
including 10,500 trainees, were involved. In addi- charged with augmenting the security of hamlets
tion, there were approximately 90 Civil-Military and villages, as well as protecting roads, bridges,
teams operating. canals, and other government facilities.
To further coordination and the integration of Security within the hamlets was the respon-
activities, the South Vietnamese government es- sibility of the Revolutionary Development Cadre
tablished Revolutionary Development councils teams and Popular Forces or in some casespeople’s
at district, province, and corps level. The council self-defense forces. In addition, the National Police
chairman at each echelon was a member of the operated against the Viet Cong infrastructure with
next higher level’s council. The Minister of Revo- support from all the military and civil intelligence
lutionary Development was the Secretary General agencies. The National Police also were respon-
of the National Central Council, and his ministry sible for normal law and order functions.
served as the council’s executive agency. Other
The main internal security problem in all Revo-
members at the national level included the min-
lutionary Development areas was the Viet Cong
isters of the agencies responsible for the various as-
infrastructure or underground organization. Only
pects of the many-faceted pacification program. In
by ferreting out the members of these groups was
addition to the representatives of the ministries,
there hope for lasting successin pacification. One
councils at the lower levels included the military
purpose of the census taken by the Revolutionary
representatives of the command responsible for
Development Cadre teams was to identify the peo-
providing overall security for the area.
ple of the hamlet so that strangers could be readily
recognized. These teams also assisted in identify-
Territorial Security
ing the members of the underground so that the
Although the presence of U.S. and Free World National Police Field Forces and the National Po-
military forces in an area improved security, the lice Special Branch could apprehend or eliminate
primary responsibility of these forces was to find them. Provincial Reconnaissance Units, a para-
and defeat the enemy’s main forces and thereby military group normally under the control of the
drive the enemy away from the populated regions. Province Chief, assisted in this process with un-
Since the South Vietnamese military forces were usual success.
better able to identify the enemy guerrillas, local Ultimate successof the pacification program thus
forces, and infrastructure, they assumed the pri- hinged upon the manner in which the various
mary responsibility for providing security in the Vietnamese military and paramilitary organiza-
pacification areas. By early 1967 the crucial im- tions performed their duties. For that reason we

232
devoted much of our advisory effort to increasing below the national level came under my super-
the effectiveness of the territorial security forces. vision and operational control. This decision was
entirely appropriate considering the nature of the
U.S. Support conflict. It required the integrating of some 1,200
Prior to November 1966 our efforts to support civilian advisors throughout the already existing
the South Vietnamese pacification program were military advisory structure. By June 1968 approxi-
directed by the Embassy under the guidance of mately 1,600 U.S. civilians and 6,000 U.S. military
the Ambassador. The civilian effort included the personnel were engaged primarily in support of
Agency for International Development (AID), the pacification program.
then called the United States Operations Mission, On 28 May 1967 Mr. Komer was assigned as
the Joint United States Public Affairs Office, and my deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary
the Office of the Special Assistant. Within its par- Development Support (CORDS) with the per-
ticular sphere of influence, each agency was auton- sonal rank of Ambassador. To perform the com-
omous and dealt directly with its Washington plex pacification support tasks at the staff level,
headquarters. MACV formed a Revolutionary De- we formed a single agency under an Assistant
velopment Division to coordinate the military sup- Chief of Staff for Civil Operations and Revolu-
port aspectsof pacification. tionary Development Support (CORDS). This
In November 1966 the efforts of the civilian staff agency absorbed the MACV Revolutionary
agencies were consolidated in the Office of Civil Development Support Directorate and assumed
Operations with Mr. Lathram as its director. Al- responsibility for the field functions of the O&e
though these changes went a long way toward of Civil Operations, including Refugee, Chieu
consolidating all aspects of U.S. support of the Hoi, Psychological Operations, Revolutionary De-
pacification program, a division of responsibility velopment Cadre, New Life Development, and
still existed between the Office of Civil Operations Public Safety Programs.
and MACV. To provide unity of effort at all levels, we estab-
Because the civilian and military efforts were lished a similar organizational structure in the U.S.
closely interwoven at province and district levels advisory headquarters at corps level. Although the
where MACV personnel were predominant and principal advisor to the Vietnamese commander
because the forward momentum of pacification was the senior U.S. commander in the area, a
depended initially upon military security, the very civilian deputy for CORDS with a separate staff
high level conferees at Guam in March 1967 de- was provided to assist him. At the all-important
cided to integrate the two U.S. support efforts province level, we fused a hitherto dual effort into
under MACV. This was a major change destined one organization. At this level the Province Senior
to have a sharp and lasting effect on the pacifica- Advisor might be a civilian with a military deputy,
tion program. On 11 May 1967, shortly after his or vice versa. Because one of the principal tasks
arrival in South Vietnam, Ambassador Bunker at the district level was improving security, the
announced that MACV would assume responsi- senior advisors for the districts were for the most
bility for the management and coordination of part military. Furthermore, the civilian agencies
pacification support. Although separate U.S. civil- of government were unable to find persons of ade-
ian agencies continued to deal with their Vietnam- quate talent willing to take on these jobs in
ese functional equivalents at the national level in Vietnam.
Saigon, pacification support and direction now At each level, our advisors worked daily with
ran to the field agencies and commands through their counterparts on matters concerning psycho-
MACV channels. All aspects of the advisory effort logical operations, public safety (National Police),

233
329~5250--69---16
refugees, Revolutionary Development Cadre, the waned in 1964. It revived in 1965 with the arrival
Chieu Hoi program, education, agriculture, pub- of U.S. and Free World forces. During that year,
lic health, public works, the attack on the Viet 11,000 VC rallied to the side of the government.
Cong underground, and the Regional and Popu- In 1966 just over 20,000 returned, and in 1967, over
lar Forces. Technical guidance for essentially 27,000 although that number fell far short of the
nonmilitary problems came from other U.S. gov- ambitious goal of 40,000.
ernmental agencies, but since all issues had some Two of the more unusual ways in which the re-
impact on the pacification effort, extremely close turnees (Hoi Chanh) were used against their
political-military coordination was essential. The former compatriots were as members of the Armed
CORDS organization furnished the forum and the Propaganda Teams and as “Kit Carson scouts.” In
machinery. the first instance, ralliers were formed into teams
We were particularly concerned that South which returned to their old operational areas to
Vietnamese troops establish proper rapport with try to convince others to rally or in some cases to
the people. Therefore, we undertook special train- capture important members of the Viet Cong. As
ing intended to inculcate suitable standards of “Kit Carson scouts,” ralliers led U.S. units to enemy
public conduct in units assigned to support paci- caches, camps, and routes of communication.
fication. Above all, they had to learn to respect the The attack on the Viet Cong infrastructure or
rights and property of civilians. underground government was one of the highest
Training all units to the necessary standard was priority items in pacification. Accordingly we as-
a time-consuming task. This was particularly true sisted the government to develop the first coor-
when the dramatic increase in military support to dinated effort on a nationwide basis to attack the
Revolutionary Development occurred in 1967- basic source of enemy strength, his subversive or-
regular force battalions supporting pacification in- ganization. This effort was called the PHOENIX
creased from 14 in 1966 to 55 in 1967, and about program. The primary responsibility to identify
200 Regional Force companies and 568 Popular and eliminate the VC infrastructure rested with
Force platoons were added to the effort in 1967. the Vietnamese police agencies at province and dis-
The most rapid solution to this training prob- trict level. To assist the police, Provincial and Dis-
lem was the use of mobile training teams. With trict Intelligence and Operations Coordinating
Vietnamese agreement I proposed the formation Centers were organized. Usually composed of rep-
of highly skilled and motivated Vietnamese mo- resentatives of the National Police Special Branch,
bile training teams aided by U.S. advisors to give Revolutionary Development Cadre, Census Griev-
to all Vietnamese Army battalions a concentrated ance Teams, Vietnamese Army, Regional and
two-week course of instruction. Progress was slow. Popular Forces, as*well as special reconnaissance
We later adopted a modified version of this pro- and intelligence agencies, these centers gathered.
gram, a predominantly U.S. Mobile Advisory and evaluated intelligence on the enemy organiza-
Team, in order to extend this training to the Re- tion and personalities. Each center had a U.S. ad-
gional and Popular Forces. visor as a PHOENIX officer. In June 1968 Presi-
Improved training of the military met only one dent Thieu lent his full support to PHOENIX by
portion of the total problem. We also needed an ordering a complete integration of Vietnamese
effective effort to induce the Viet Cong to return police and military interests and resources in a
to the government side. This was the purpose of priority effort to destroy the infrastructure.
the Ct’zieuHoi program which began in 1963. The Another priority effort was aimed at improving
program produced an encouraging number of ral- and maintaining roads and highways in order to
liers at first, but faltered as government control facilitate the free flow of consumer products. To

234
this end, we assumed the obligation to construct U.S. and Vietnamese Armies and the U.S. Navy
and maintain the highways in support of the Viet- and Air Force. On 20 May the engineers began
namese Ministry of Public Works. clearing rub’ble, restoring utilities, and erecting al-
most 1,500 family housing units from prefabri-
The Tet Offensive-A Temporary Setback cated materials, and providing assistance to civil-
The enemy’s Tet offensive in January and Feb- ians who wanted to rebuild their own homes. U.S.
ruary 1968 had an adverse impact on pacification. and ARVN psychological operations resources
Using the computerized Hamlet Evaluation Sys- were used to explain this project to the people.
tem which we had developed in 1966, we found Vietnamese government officials and the affected
that the percent of population under Viet Cong population were enthusiastic. One of the most
control had risen from 16 percent to a little more heartening aspects to emerge was tangible evi-
than 18 percent after Tet. By the end of June 1968 dence of a shift in the attitude of the South Viet-
that percentage had dropped to about 17 percent. namese Army from complacencv to concern about
Similarly, the percentage of population classified the needs of the civilian population.
as relatively secure was about 67 percent before Tet As a result of the Tet offensive, our plans for
and by the end of February had fallen to just under pacification had to be restudiecl and revised. Our
60 percent. At the end of June it was up to slightly progress in 1967 caused us to expand the National
more than 63 percent and continuing to rise. Cer- Priority Areas to encompass 26 provinces in 1968.
tainly by the end of the year our loss at Tet would When the Vietnamese drew their military forces
be at least overcome. back to the population centers after Tet, we altered
The national government appeared at first to be our plans to concentrate our pacification resources
in a state of shock from the Tet attacks and was and managerial skill to address the most pressing
slow to respond to such immediately critical needs problem-restoration of government co’ntrol in the
as refugee relief and food distribution. Four days largest population centers. We crossed administra-
after the first attacks, the government responded tive boundaries and concentrated on the geographi-
enthusiastically to our offer of assistance and cal areas which appeared to afford greatest expec-
formed a Central Recovery Committee under the tation of success.
direction of Vice President Ky. With U.S. advice The Tet offensive pointed up the inadequacy of
and assistance, this committee organized programs the basic weapons of the Vietnamese territorial
to alleviate civilian suffering, which was especially security forces in comparison with the automatic
critical in Hue and Saigon. They provided for weapons supplied to the enemy by his Communist
countrywide emergency assistance to the grow- allies. We instituted intensive efforts to replace
ing number of refugees, distributed food sup- the slow-firing pistols, carbines, and rifles of the
plies, and supplied building material for priority territorial forces with the rapid firing American
reconstruction.
carbines and Ml6 rifles.
When the Viet Cong launched another series of
Despite the damage dealt to pacification by the
attacks in Saigon in the first week of May, thou-
sands of additional refugees were added to the still Tet offensive, several promising developments had
unsettled refugees from Tet. To meet this crisis, emerged. South Vietnamese military and para-
I consulted with General Vien and we launched military units had for the most part fought well,
Operation DONG TAM (United Hearts and and in some casesexceptionally. The government
Minds) to relieve the pitiable conditions of the showed signs of recognizing its obligation to the
thousands of refugees in and around Saigon. We people, and the people responded with gratitude.
employed engineer and medical resources of the Hopefully, pacification had at last come of age.

235
Appendix E

PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS/CIVIC
ACTION

The psychological operations program is the least loudspeakers, the armed forces endeavored to
understood, the most difhcult to explain, and surely lower the effectiveness and morale of enemy troops
the hardest to measure of any of our efforts in Viet- and political cadre and induce them to rally to the
nam. Progressively, over a long period of time government side.
American civilian and military advisors have The third element involved a similar effort tar-
worked with the Vietnamese government and geted against the government, the people, and the
Armed Forces to improve and expand their infor- military forces of North Vietnam. This involved
mational programs. There are a number of aspects primarily radio broadcasts and the dropping of
which are interrelated but lend themselves some- leaflets.
what to individual treatment. This description of the program in terms of the
Perhaps the most important part of the program objectives and the mechanics, of course, does not
has been the effort to explain to the Vietnamese address its most important aspect. It is not how
people what the war is all about, the issues which many broadcasts are made or how many leaflets are
underlie it, and what the government and its allies dropped but rather how skillfully composed and
are trying to do about it. This part of the program effective are the messageswhich are thus transmit-
has involved every conceivable method of commu- ted. For each different audience in each different
nicating with the people from radio and television location and on each different occasion the message
to newspapers, leaflets, posters, banners, and face-to- must be persuasive, credible, and couched in terms
face discussion. For example, the government of to which the recipient is most apt to be susceptible.
Vietnam operates 14 radio transmitters as a part In order to coordinate the effort and provide c2- ’
of this program and an extensive country-wide TV sistence and purpose, the Joint U.S. Public Affairs
network. The primary responsibility for this part O&e was established with my strong support in
of the program fell to the Vietnamese Ministry of 1965 under Mr. Barry Zorthian of USIA. The over-
Information supported and advised by U.S. In- all policy and general thrust of the program ema-
formation Agency (USIA) representatives work- nated from his office. The execution was assigned
ing both in Saigon and throughout the country. both to military forces and to civilian agencies.
The second major element in the program had I considered the psychological effort so impor-
to do with the enemy. Again through leaflets and tant that I provided extensive support to Mr.
radio broadcasts and through ground and airborne Zorthian in the form of military personnel, units,

237
and facilities. The armed Services, particularly the prove the content of the messages and themes
Army, also furnished over 120 specially trained which are used. More work and further study will
officers to work with USIA and the Vietnamese be required before we can be definitive in measur-
Information Service at province and district level. ing effectiveness. I believe very strongly that it is
On the tactical side, psychological warfare units an essential weapon which, when used together
were organized and provided with special equip- with all other measures, contributes greatly to
ment for broadcasts of all kinds and for the print- the attainment of objectives in a politically sophisti-
ing and distribution of leaflets. The U.S. Army cated war such as that in South Vietnam. I com-
has a Psychological Operations Group of four bat- mend those who have contributed so much time,
talions with one battalion operating in each corps energy, and imagination to it. They have played
area. The Air Force has two special operations an important and largely unsung role in Vietnam
squadrons devoted exclusively to the PSYOP mis- for many years.
sion. Most of the design and printing was done by Unlike the psychological effort, the civic action
Army units while Air Force aircraft and Navy program is not difficult to describe because it is
Riverine units handled the distribution or airdrop. tangible-it is easy to see. Historically, wherever
For example, in 1967 over 600 million leaflets were the U.S. has had military forces, there has always
dropped over North Vietnam and almost 6 bil- been some form of military assistance to civilians
lion leaflets were dropped in South Vietnam, utiliz- who are without the means of helping themselves.
ing 35,000 sorties by all kinds of aircraft. Civic action was present in Vietnam in various
One of the major efforts by the government of degrees even before the major U.S. military com-
Vietnam involved the Chieu Hoi program. This mitment in 1965. For example, one of the major
program endeavored to induce the enemy to defect civic action programs in 1964 involved providing
from his unit or his post and rally to the side of
Vietnamese hamlets with a source of potable water.
the government. Surrender and Chieu Hoi leaf-
We introduced U.S. Navy (Seabee) teams as well
lets were distributed by the millions. We found
as US. Army engineer detachments to exploit their
that almost every prisoner or rallier had concealed
technical skills in hydrojet well drilling.
somewhere upon his person one of these leaflets.
Since 1964, over 64,000 of the enemy have rallied The 1965 buildup of U.S. forces required rapid
to the government side under this program. Many expansion of civic action to help soften the psy-
of the ralliers have volunteered to serve in one of chological impact of U.S. military presence on the
45 Armed Propaganda Companies which conduct Vietnamese people. I undertook several measures
psychological operations in contested or VC areas to initiate and maintain good relations between the
by speaking directly to the people. Vietnamese people and all foreign troops and at
As I mentioned at the beginning, the psychologi- the same time to help offset Viet Cong efforts to
cal operations program is d&cult to evaluate or exploit isolated incidents involving U.S. forces
measure. This is because no single effect can be and Vietnamese.
attributed solely to the psychological operations First, we made civic action an integral part of
program. For example, C&w Hoi ralliers are in- military unit operations. I required that all opera-
clined to increase in number as military pressures tional plans state our civic action policy clearly and
increase or as enemy fortunes ebb, thus the leaflet earmark specific actions that would be undertaken.
and broadcast program is simply one contributing These plans emphasized our efforts to support and
cause. Secondly, it is necessary to conduct extensive help the people caught in the path of military op-
and expensive attitudinal surveys both to measure erations. The fulfillment of the plans clearly de-
effectiveness of the program and to adjust and im- monstrated to the people that we were interested in

238
their welfare-and that we did not wish to ignore namese Armed Forces. By August of the same year,
their sufferings. a similar program covering U.S. and Free World
Next, I required all U.S. units arriving in Viet- forces was underway. In witnessing our concern
nam to develop civic action plans for assisting the for losses,the Vietnamese civilian also might real-
people living in the vicinity of their base areas. The ize that our forces were lawful, just, and respectful
special skills and equipment common to any unit, of the civilian community.
particularly those of an engineering or medical A very real part of civic action was a continuing
nature, were utilized to reduce hardship among and concerted effort by allied forces to avoid civil-
and raise the living standards of the neighboring ian casualties. Many of the rules of engagement
people. Our troops constructed long-needed under which our troops operated were aimed at
bridges over canals and streams, built schools, lessening the possibility of civilian losses. MACV
established medical dispensaries, and generally early issued a directive specifying ways and means
improved public sanitation. for “Minimization of Casualties,” which included
We instructed U.S. troops on arrival in Vietnam specification for close coordination of military op-
that if we were to help in reducing the influence erations with local Vietnamese officials. We con-
of the Viet Cong, we had to win and maintain the stantly updated the directive. Even though reports
friendship and active cooperation of the Vietnam- indicated that civilian lossesran well behind those
ese civilians. My commanders emphasized that experienced in World Wars I and II and Korea, I
good civilian-military relationships were depend- continued to emphasize the efforts to keep losses
ent on two factors: (1) the military man’s attitude at a minimum.
in his dealings with the local civilians, and (2) the As the presence of American forces increased in
accomplishment of carefully planned civic actions. 1966, so did our civic action program. During the
I soon was gratified to learn that our troops still first five months of the year, for example, U.S. mili-
had a missionary’s heart as well as a soldier’s tary units built or repaired 78 schools, 43 bridges.
fighting spirit. 246 miles of rural roads, and 29 dispensaries, as
In 1965,at my request, Ambassador Lodge asked well as numerous dwellings and community facili-
the assistance of the government of Vietnam in ties. This modest effort represented