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Feb. 17 1970 hearing (pages 1-86)
CIA/DoD Phoenix Program:
Targeting non-combatants (civilians)
Also: Exit strategy, rigged elections, puppet government

CIS: 71 S381-2 SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/17

Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970 {58.4mb.pdf, source}

 


HEARINGS


BEFORE THE


COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS


UNITED STATES SENATE


NINETY-FIRST CONGRESS SECOND SESSION


ON


CIVIL OPERATIONS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT PROGRAM

______________________


February 17, 18, 19, 20, and March 3, 4, 17, 19, 1970 {appendix}



GPO mark



Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations


U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
44-706 WASHINGTON : 1970

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

J. W. Fulbright, Arkansas, Chairman

John Sparkman, AlabamaGeorge D. Aiken, Vermont
Mike Mansfield, MontanaKarl E. Mundt, South Dakota
Albert Gore, TennesseeClifford P. Case, New Jersey
Frank Church, IdahoJohn Sherman Cooper, Kentucky
Stuart Symington, MissouriJohn J. Williams, Delaware
Thomas J. Dodd, ConnecticutJacob K. Javits, New York
Claiborne Pell, Rhode Island
Gale W. McGee, Wyoming

Carl Marcy, Chief of Staff

Arthur M. Kuhl, Chief Clerk


Note.— Sections of this hearing have been deleted at the request of the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Deleted material is indicated by the notation “[Deleted].”


(II)

CONTENTS

{To come}

(III-VII)

 

{p.1}

Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970

_______________

Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Program

_______________

Tuesday, February 17, 1970

United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C.


The committee met, pursuant to notice at 10 a.m. in room 4221, New Senate Office Building, Senator J. W. Fulbright (chairman) presiding.

Present: Senators Fulbright, Symington, Pell, McGee, Aiken, Case, Cooper, and Javits.

The Chairman. The committee will come to order.

OPENING STATEMENT

Two weeks ago the committee heard testimony on a number of legislative proposals concerning the war in Vietnam and related questions of American foreign policy. ¶

Vietnam Policy Proposals: Hearings on nine proposed items of legislation to end the U.S. war in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 3, 4, 5, and March 16, 1970, 5+405 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/16, CIS: 70 S381-7, OCLC: 78825, LCCN: 74606991 pf, DL, WorldCat}CJHjr

Today we initiate a new phase of these hearings in which primary attention will be given to American operations in Vietnam connected with pacification, the military advisory effort, the aid program, and the activities of USIA. Later we expect to hear testimony on the political and economic effects of the war within the United States.

All three phases of these hearings are oriented to a single set of objectives. Their immediate purpose is to provide information which will assist the committee in acting on the legislative proposals that have been placed before it. The more general purpose of these hearings is to help inform American public opinion and to assist the President in his efforts to bring the war to an early, satisfactory conclusion.

For the next 4 days — 3 in open session and the last in executive session — the committee will hear testimony on the civil operations and rural development support program in Vietnam. This program — usually referred to by its initials as “CORDS” — encompasses most of the nonmilitary activities of the United States in Vietnam. Although it is under overall military command, CORDS is executed at all levels by civilian as well as military personnel. The programs under its general jurisdiction deal with pacification, refugees, enemy defectors, the South Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces and the Phoenix program for the “neutralization” of key Vietcong personnel.

In addition to Ambassador William Colby, the director of CORDS, the committee will hear testimony by representative CORDS personnel who work at the Corps, province and district levels, helping {p.2} the South Vietnamese to perform more effectively in the political sphere. Because of the pertinence of these field activities to the Administration’s overall policy of Vietnamization, the committee has departed from normal practice by inviting the testimony of operative personnel as well as that of the official in overall charge of the program under study. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of these able and dedicated officials who have taken time from their difficult jobs in the field in Vietnam to assist the committee in meeting its responsibility to advise and assist the President in his efforts to end this war. By participating in these hearings, and by giving the committee the benefit of their detailed knowledge and candid judgments of American political activities in Vietnam, the witnesses will perform a valuable service to the Senate and to the American people. At the same time, the committee is aware of the special sense of responsibility which operative officials quite naturally feel toward their own programs and agencies.

SWEARING IN OF WITNESSES

In order to protect the witnesses from the understandable ambivalence they may feel with respect to their responsibilities to the agencies they work for, on the one hand, and to this committee and the Senate on the other, we are asking them to be sworn in before giving their testimony. This practice has been found useful in other committee inquiries including the examination of security agreements and commitments abroad currently being conducted by the subcommittee of which Senator Symington is chairman.

The witnesses at the table this morning I believe are Ambassador William E. Colby; Mr. William K. Hitchcock, the Director of Refugee Directorate; Mr. John Vann, Deputy for CORDS, IV Corps; Mr. Hawthorne Mills, Province Senior Advisor, Tuyen Duc; Mr. Clayton McManaway, Director, Plans, Policy and Programs; and also appearing this week the military people will be Major James F. Arthur, the District Senior Advisor of Binh Chanh District, Gia Dinh Province; Captain Armand Murphy, the Advisor of the Long An Province; Captain Richard T. Geck, Mobile Advisory Team Advisor for Kien Giang Province; and Sergeant Richard D. Wallace, Combined Action Platoon Team Leader, Quang Nam Province.

We, therefore, ask you, Ambassador Colby, and all of your colleagues whom I mentioned will appear to testify, to rise if you will.

Do you solemnly swear that the testimony which you are about to give will be, to the best of your knowledge, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?

Mr. Colby. I do.

Mr. Hitchcock. I do.

Mr. Vann. I do.

Mr. Mills. I do.

Mr. McManaway. I do.

Major Arthur. I do.

Captain Murphy. I do.

Captain Geck. I do.

Sergeant Wallace. I do.

The Chairman. Recognizing that, despite differing functions and responsibilities, we are all committed to the same objective — which is {p.3} to bring the war to an early and satisfactory conclusion — we now invite the witnesses to proceed.

We will start with Ambassador Colby.

Do you have a prepared statement, Mr. Ambassador?

Mr. Colby. I do, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Will you proceed.

 

Testimony of
William E. Colby, Deputy to General Abrams, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, for Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS);
accompanied by
William K. Hitchcock,
Director, Refugee Directorate;
John Vann,
Deputy for CORDS, IV Corps;
Hawthorne Mills,
Province Senior Adviser, Tuyen Duc; Clayton E. McManaway,
Director, Plans, Policy and Programs.

Mr. Colby. Mr. Chairman, the leaders of North Vietnam call the conflict in Vietnam a People’s War. They saw it as a new technique of war, one which would enable them to win despite greater military power on the side of the government and its allies. They believed they could seize control of the population and pull it from under the government structure, causing its collapse. For a time it looked as though they might be correct. Their power steadily built up during the organizational phase of their effort during the late 1950’s through the guerrilla, period of the early 1960’s to the stage in late 1964 when they sent North Vietnamese units to prepare a final assault on the centers of government authority. The scenario was interrupted, however, when American combat forces entered in mid-1965 to keep final victory from their grasp.

EFFORTS TO FIGHT “PEOPLE'S WAR”

Since 1965, the Vietnamese and American Governments have been increasing their understanding of and forging the tools necessary to fight on the several levels of a people’s war. The organizational tools were developed, the personnel were indoctrinated and the strategy outlined by which such a war must be conducted. This was a gradual process to which many Vietnamese, Americans and other nationals contributed. The process is by no means complete.

Even more important, much of the execution of the program on the ground still lies ahead and setbacks will occur. However, the fundamentals have been identified and the program is well launched. As a result, the war called a People’s War by the Communists is being increasingly waged by the Vietnamese people, defending themselves against Communist attack, terror and subversion and at the same time building a better future of their own choosing.

PRESIDENT’S POLICY FOR REDUCING U.S. PARTICIPATION IN VIETNAM WAR

What I will describe is only a part of our effort to bring the war in Vietnam to an end. President Nixon has clearly set the policy which the program I will describe supports. ¶

The President has stated three ways by which our participation in the war can be reduced: nego- {p.4} tiations, a reduction of violence by Hanoi, and a strengthening of the Vietnamese Government and the people, which we call Vietnamization. ¶

Richard Milhous Nixon (U.S. President, Jan. 20 1969-1974 Aug. 9), “Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam” (White House, Oval Office, November 3 1969, 9:32 p.m.), 1969 PPPUS 901-909 (item 425) {ucsb, 621kb.pdf}, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Richard Nixon, 1969 {ucsb.html, umich.pdf, nixlib.pdf, nara} {SuDoc: GS 4.113:969, ISSN: 0079-7626, LCCN: 58061050, GPOcat, WorldCat}CJHjr

The program which I will describe falls under the last. Its objective is an increase in South Vietnam’s capacity to defend itself, thereby permitting a reduction of American participation in the war. The lessons we have learned in Vietnam can increase Vietnam’s ability to defend itself.

PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The program is called pacification and development by the Government of Vietnam. It operates behind the shield furnished by another aspect of our efforts in Vietnam, the military operations of the Vietnamese and allied armies. However bold, however well conceived, however logical this program, it has been amply proven that it cannot be effective unless hostile regiments and divisions are kept away.

At the same time, however, we have found that their absence does not thereby produce peace nor offer political fulfillment to the people. While armies can repel armies, and can assist in the consolidation of security, the very power, organization and procedures which are essential in large-scale combat make it difficult for them to fight on all the levels of the people’s war. Thus, additional tactics and techniques had to be developed to fight on these other levels. Pacification and development is this necessary counterpart to the military efforts of our forces in this new kind of war.

TERRITORIAL SECURITY

Security is a part of pacification, too, at these other levels. One level is territorial security, the ability of the farmer to sleep in his home at night without fear of guerrillas foraging, conscripting or taxing. This security is provided by local forces and militia, permanently protecting the community while the regular troops operate against larger regular enemy units.

To provide this protection, the Vietnamese regional forces operate within the provinces, normally in company strength. The popular forces operate within the village area, normally in platoon strength. Both of these forces are made up of full-time soldiers, uniformed, armed with modern weapons, and trained to conduct patrols and ambushes in the outskirts of the villages. Both have been substantially increased since 1968, so they now total approximately 475,000 men. Their effectiveness has also been improved under a program which was instituted between our Military Assistance Command and the Vietnamese Joint General Staff in October 1967.

As a result, these forces now have M-16 rifles, special advisory teams of Americans to train and assist them, and effective systems of communications and fire support. They made a major contribution to the key 1969 strategy of expansion of the government’s protection to hamlets and villages which had been deserted or abandoned to enemy control for several years, establishing islands of local security around which the population could cluster.

Territorial security, however, is not left only to fulltime soldiers. In mid-1968, the Vietnamese Government launched a program to enlist all citizens in the Nation’s defense. The General Mobilization {p.5} Law was passed by the National Assembly, requiring that all men from 16 to 50 help defend their country. Under this law, any man not in the expanded armed forces is required to be a member of the People’s Self Defense Force, an unpaid militia, to defend his home community. To these are added volunteers from the elderly, young people from 12 to 15, and women.

The government has distributed arms and trained these people. Initially, there were some faint hearts among Vietnamese officialdom over this distribution of weapons, as they looked back on the former war lords, the political factions, the possibility of arming the Viet Cong and the chance the people might choose to act against the government itself.

The President and the Prime Minister, however, took the position that it was only by showing this kind of trust in the people that a people’s war could be properly fought. Today, some 400,000 weapons have been made available to the People’s Self Defense Force, over a million Vietnamese have been trained to use them or otherwise assist, and some 3 million are claimed to have been enrolled. It is no fearsome military force, to be sure, and the number enrolled is a very soft statistic, but the Communists have identified it clearly as a major threat, a start toward a true people’s army and a locally based political force for the future. As a result, they have attacked it and tried to destroy it, but it has stood its ground in many, not all, fights, and fully validated the government’s confidence.

USE OF PHOENIX PROGRAM TO COMBAT VC INFRASTRUCTURE

There is another level of security at which this new kind of war must be fought. In Vietnam, there is a secret Communist network within the society which tries to impose its authority on the people through terrorism and threat. This network, or as it is called in Vietnam, the VC infrastructure, provides the political direction and control of the enemy’s war within the villages and hamlets.

It lays down the caches for the troops coming from the border sanctuaries; it provides the guides and intelligence for the North Vietnamese strangers; it conscripts, taxes, and terrorizes. Protection against the North Vietnamese battalion or even the Vietcong guerrilla group does not give real freedom if the elected village chief is assassinated, the grenade explodes in the market place, or the traitor shoots the self-defender in the back.

During 1969, for example, over 6,000 people were killed in such terrorist incidents, over 1,200 in selective assassinations, and 15,000 wounded. Among the dead were some 90 village chiefs and officials, 240 hamlet chiefs and officials, 229 refugees, and 4,350 of the general populace.

One of the major lessons about the people’s war has been the key role the infrastructure plays in it. This Communist apparatus has been operating in Vietnam for many years and is well practiced in covert techniques. To fight the war on this level, the government developed a special program called Phung Hoang or Phoenix. The government has publicized the need for this effort to protect the people against terrorism and has called upon all the citizens to assist by providing information and they are doing so. {p.6}

Since this is a sophisticated and experienced enemy, experts are also needed to combat it. Thus, the Phoenix program started in mid-1968 to bring together the police, and military, and the other government organizations to contribute knowledge and act against this enemy infrastructure. It secures information about the enemy organization, identifies the individuals who make it up, and conducts operations against them.

These operations might consist of two policemen walking down the street to arrest an individual revealed as a member of the enemy apparatus or they might involve a three-battalion attack on a jungle hideout of a district or province committee.

As a result of this program, members of this apparatus are captured, turn themselves in as ralliers or are killed in fire fights. More needs to be done for this program to be fully effective, but the government has a high priority on it. Our own government provides advisory assistance and support to this internal security program through the police, the administration, the information services and the intelligence services. This is similar to our support of the military effort against the North Vietnamese battalions and Viet Cong guerrilla groups through the Vietnamese military forces.

PURPOSE OF PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

But another of the major lessons learned over the years about the people’s war is that security is not enough alone. Security in a people’s war cannot be provided to the people, they must participate in the effort. For Vietnamese to do so, after the years of troubles they have seen, they must be convinced that one side offers and will deliver a better life for themselves and their families, that it has a chance of succeeding in the contest and that they will have a voice in the common effort.

To convince them, and thus to engage the people in the endeavor, the government must develop a program to satisfy these three requirements. Pacification and development is this policy, giving full weight to the people’s security, their betterment and their voice in decisionmaking. The combination of all three enlists the people on their government’s side, the critical step in a people’s war.

NEW APPROACH TO VILLAGE COMMUNITIES

Thus as an integral element of its pacification and development plan in 1969, the Government of Vietnam took a new approach to the village community in Vietnam. Rather than considering it the lowest of a series of bureaucratic levels through which authority descends from the Palace to the people, it became the first assemblage of the population to conduct its own affairs.

Over the past year, elections have been held in 961 villages and 5,344 hamlets, elections which were held in the light of the day and with general popular participation. As a result, 95 percent of the 2,151 villages and 94 percent of the 10,522 hamlets today have elected local governments. These elections have been a clear contrast to the alleged elections held in Vietcong base areas or by individual armed VC poll takers sneaking into isolated farmhouses at night to require {p.7} a single vote of approval of the People’s Revolutionary Party candidate.

These officials need training to become effective. Thus, 1,862 village chiefs and 8,532 hamlet chiefs from every part of the nation, plus a variety of other government workers at the village and hamlet level, to a total of over 30,000, have attended a special 5-week course at a national training center. There they were told by President Thieu that they had full authority over affairs in their communities and that they were to consider themselves as the leaders of their people. Further to make this clear, the black pajama clad Rural Development Cadre, a national corps of 42,000 hamlet level political organizers, were divided into smaller teams and made subject to the elected village chief’s directions.

In addition, in a reversal of previous practices, wherein the bureaucracy decided what was good for the villagers, development funds were passed directly to the village level for decision by the locally elected village council as to what kinds of development projects the local people desired. They chose a vast variety from schools to pig raising to irrigation to hand tractors; but even more importantly they reacted with enthusiasm to this indication that they, not faraway officials, were determining their future. This same process of stimulating local responsibility and participation is being applied to urban neighborhoods in the form of improved walkways through the slums, rebuilt homes, and firefighting teams.

INVITATION TO ENEMY TO REJOIN NATIONAL CAUSE

The development of the Vietnamese community also includes inviting members of the enemy camp to rejoin the national cause, where they are decently received and resettled. Some 47,000 people during the past year took this road to a new life with the GVN, almost one-third of the total of 140,000 since 1963. Many of these former enemies are now serving the Government forces as guides, as members of the local defense forces, and as members of teams inviting more of their ex-colleagues to join them.

ASSISTANCE TO REFUGEES AND OTHER WAR VICTIMS

In addition, the program to provide assistance to refugees and other war victims has been an element of the pacification effort. It, too, is aimed at the people, to assist them to reestablish their disrupted lives and to return to the villages where security now permits them to re-enter. Some 488,000 people during the past year have received financial and commodity assistance as they returned to their villages. Another 586,000 have been paid benefits at their new locations. Mr. William K. Hitchcock, of our Refugee Directorate, is here to testify in detail on this important part of the effort to bind the nation together.

INFORMATION PROGRAM

To strengthen the national community, an information program is an element of pacification and development to inform the people of their rights and privileges and the Government’s role in this program. Mr. Edward J. Nickel, our senior USIA officer in Vietnam and Director {p.8} of our joint military-civilian U.S. Public Affairs Office, will give you the details of this program.

DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRAMS

The development of a better economy for the farmers in the countryside has also been an element of this total effort, opening lines of communication to markets, providing a new and more productive strain of rice and resuming the distribution of land to tenants which had been stalled during the war years. A variety of other developmental improvements such as new schools, new health stations, et cetera, also support the overall program. Mr. Donald G. MacDonald, Director of our USAID Mission in Vietnam, will testify separately on the details of those activities, but I would like to point out that they are being integrated fully into the one national pacification and development program.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE ROLE IN PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT

If this is the program then how does it work? What is the American role? How much does it cost? How many people are involved in it?

The first reply is that it is fundamentally a Vietnamese program. The territorial security forces are Vietnamese. The police are Vietnamese. The local hamlet and village officials are Vietnamese. Those who receive and resettle former members of the enemy camp are Vietnamese. Those who register and pay benefits to the refugees are Vietnamese. Those who sow the new rice, those who explain the government policies are all Vietnamese. In a people’s war in Vietnam the people engaged in it will be Vietnamese.

Thus the Vietnamese play the major role in the program. The government has been organized to prosecute this program as a highest priority effort. The President, the Prime Minister and the government have established a Central Pacification and Development Council at the national level, with its own staff to draw together the diverse strands of this program into one effort.

It developed a national pacification and development plan for 1969 and has just completed one for 1970. This structure at the national level has counterparts at the regional and the province levels, where there are similar councils of all the different officials engaged in this multifaceted program. Each province had a provincial plan for 1969 and now has one for 1970, in which it draws together the threads of the different programs to make one overall effort in the province.

Using this planning process, and some of the statistical reporting systems developed to support the program, goals are set, reports are required, and inspections conducted. The province chiefs and their deputies have had a week-long seminar at a national center at which each of the Ministers in turn described his Ministry’s contribution to the national plan and answered probing questions from the province chiefs. Detailed comments were sent by the national staff to each province on the province plan, calling for correction or modification of any aspects which did not follow the overall guidelines. As a result, the province chiefs and the corps commanders are fully aware of their program for pacification and development in their area in specific {p.9} terms, which hamlets are being reentered, how the struggle to identify the Vietcong infrastructure is going in the various parts of the province, when the next elections are scheduled in the hamlets and villages, and where the irrigation ditch is being dug and how well it is progressing.

The President and Prime Minister have removed 25 province chiefs and 162 district chiefs in 1968 and 23 province chiefs and 110 district chiefs in 1969 and 1970 to date — excluding shifts — many for failing to measure up.

Even down to the village level, the plan has been pushed. In December, village chiefs in most provinces joined in meetings at the province capitals at which a Minister and a staff from the various other Ministries of the National Government explained the total program to them. The President and many of the Ministers frequently visit the Corps and the provinces and have many times gone to individual villages for detailed question and answer discussions with the village chief and village council of the situation in their village and the impact of the pacification and development plan there.

U.S. PARTICIPATION IN PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT

But I do not pretend that this is a totally Vietnamese effort. It obviously benefits from the shield produced by American forces as well as the Vietnamese Army divisions. The M-16 rifles carried by the Territorial Forces were made in America. Many of the funds used for the support of the refugees or for the village development programs come from counterpart generated by American imports. American advisers at all levels from national to district and even in some cases to the village or platoon discuss the program with their counterparts, come up with recommendations and ideas, go to the meetings where the program is discussed in Vietnamese with simultaneous English translation and help evaluate how well it is really going in the field.

CIVIL OPERATIONS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT (CORDS)

The American contribution to this program is provided by an organization which in Vietnam is known as CORDS an integral part of the U.S. Military Assistance Command MACV. The word CORDS is an acronym which in itself symbolizes the learning process we have been through in Vietnam. In the early 1960’s, each American agency in Vietnam had its separate structure and responsibilities, all of course under the overall control of the Ambassador.

With the military buildup in 1965 and 1966 the U.S. civil agencies also expanded their activities and particularly moved into the provinces each with its own chain of command. As a result, many of the American programs, however good in themselves, were uncoordinated and Vietnamese officials in the provinces might be dealing with as many as four or five separate Americans, each giving him different advice.

In early 1966 the Deputy U.S. Ambassador was named coordinator of field programs with a small staff. This authority, however, proved inadequate and in December 1966 an Office of Civil Operations was established which had full command authority over the civilian agencies in the field. Province chiefs then had only two advisors, one {p.10} military and one civilian. In May 1967 the final step was taken of bringing the entire U.S. field effort under one chain of command and one manager.

 

Since security is so much a part of pacification, it was decided to place overall responsibility for pacification on the Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command, General Westmoreland, and to establish my predecessor, Ambassador Robert W. Komer, as his Deputy for CORDS — Civil Operations and Rural Development Support. CORDS in the field took responsibility for the local military aspects of pacification, the Territorial Security Forces, and the civilian aspect of pacification, for example, the programs of the USAID Mission and the Information Agency or Joint U.S. Public Affairs, office — JUSPAO. At the Saigon level, these two civilian agencies maintain their independence for certain national programs, but their field operations are now under the single chain of command of the Commander U.S. Military Assistance as a part of CORDS.

Thus today CORDS has teams at the national, regional, provincial and district levels. It is a part of the military command structure, in Saigon fully under General Abrams, and in each of the corps zones it is under the senior U.S. military commander.

PERSONNEL AND STRUCTURE OF CORDS

It consists of 6,361 military personnel, 2,395 officers and 3,966 enlisted, and 948 civilians — authorized. Added to these are 188 third country personnel and 7,600 local Vietnamese nationals. There is complete military and civilian integration at all levels of CORDS. The staffs in Saigon are partly military and partly civilian.

At the corps level, there also are civilians and military working together on the staffs. In 25 provinces a military officer, a colonel or lieutenant colonel, is the province senior adviser, and in 19 provinces and four independent cities, a civilian, a Foreign Service officer or a Foreign Service Reserve officer, is the province senior adviser. The civilian province senior advisers have military deputies. The military province senior advisers have civilian deputies. In 190 districts, the district senior adviser is a major, but in 33 he is a civilian, and at the district level there are 96 civilians serving in all. The normal district level team has about eight members; the teams at province level vary from 30 to 70; the staffs at region number about 150 and the staff in Saigon numbers about 600, all levels including civilian, as well as military personnel.

In addition to these advisory teams, there are two special groups of personnel who participate in the pacification mission. Some of these are in mobile advisory teams, or MAT’s. These are Army teams of two officers and three NCO’s whose job is to live, work with, and assist in the improvement of Regional Force companies and Popular Force platoons. Another type of team involved in similar work is the U.S. Marine Corps Combined Action Platoon or CAP.

This consists of a squad of U.S. Marines led by their squad leader, assigned to work with a Vietnamese Popular Force platoon, living in the same area, patrolling and generally helping them with their job and to improve their performance. There are 353 MAT teams which include 1,985 U.S. Army personnel. There are 114 CAP teams which include approximately 2,000 Marines and Navy Corpsmen. {p.11}

Both of these teams are used in certain areas for a period, with a special emphasis on. upgrading the local regional or popular force units with which they are working. When they reach a satisfactory position, the team is moved to another area to repeat the process with another unit. The planning, of course, is that they will gradually complete this job of upgrading and that the program will then be phased out, leaving the Vietnamese local force unit to continue without direct American involvement.

OTHER U.S. PACIFICATION ACTIVITIES AND CIVIC ACTION PROGRAMS

These are the American personnel who work directly in the pacification program and with CORDS. In addition, of course, many American units conduct pacification activities in their assigned areas. You have recently heard of the activities of the 173d Airborne Brigade in Binh Dinh Province. This is matched by a number of other American units which collaborate directly with regional and popular force units to increase the effectiveness of these units and improve the territorial security of the area.

The pacification program also profits from the many projects carried out by U.S. units in the form of civic action. Many doctors from the Army, Navy, and Air Force serve on special teams in province hospitals, and the Navy Seabees carry out many programs which both support pacification and train Vietnamese in skills for the future.

FUNDING OF CORDS

The funding of the CORDS operation comes from four sources, DOD’s and AID’s appropriations, AID’s counterpart funds generated by imports, and the GVN’s own budget from taxes, customs and deficit financing. The greater portion of the expenditures by both the United States and the GVN is used for the territorial forces and the police, with AID supporting development and refugee programs.

Both the United States and GVN have substantially increased their investments in pacification over the past several years, which is certainly a major reason for its improvement. The 1970 contributions are: DOD, $729 million; AID, $48 million; Counterpart, $114 million (equivalent); and GVN, $627 million (equivalent).

As can be seen, in funding as in personnel, CORDS is an integration of the programs of several agencies. It was designed to meet a new situation on the ground and it cuts across many of our familiar civil-military or departmental distinctions. It has been called a Rube Goldberg creation and I suppose in many respects it is. The key point, however, is that it is working and that it works with the Vietnamese.

CORDS: SOUTH VIETNAMESE AND U.S. RELATIONSHIP

Because it is the relationship with the Vietnamese which will decide whether the program will work or fail, it cannot be American. Americans can assist the Vietnamese temporarily and can help them take over the full program. Our resources are important. Our imagination and our energy are also important. But we must address these to helping Vietnamese to do the job themselves. {p.12}

This process will be described in detail by the officers who are accompanying me: Mr. John Vann of Colorado, the senior CORDS officer for IV Corps in the Delta; Mr. Hawthorne Mills of California, a foreign service officer, the province senior advisor in Tuyen Duc Province; Maj. James Arthur of North Carolina, the district senior advisor in Binh Chanh District in Gia Dinh Province; Capt. Armand J. Murphy of Florida, RF/PF Advisor, Long An Province; Capt. Richard T. Geck of New Jersey, who is the leader of a Mobile Advisory Team presently located at My Lam Village, Kien Thanh District, Kien Giang Province; and U.S. Marine Sgt. E5 Richard E. Wallace of California, the leader of Marine Combined Action Platoon 2-1-5 whose present assignment is at Phu Son Hamlet in Hoa Luong Village in Hieu Duc District of Quang Nam Province.

At each of these levels the Americans work closely with their Vietnamese counterparts. They discuss problems; they visit the field together; they approach the job as a joint effort. At the same time, each has his own responsibilities to his own government. The Vietnamese chain of command has complete authority over the subordinate levels. No commands can be given through American channels to Vietnamese. The relationship must be one of mutual exchange, trust, and respect.

At the same time, the Americans have responsibilities to their own Government to report difficulties, to criticize where weaknesses exist and cannot be overcome locally, and to submit reports on their view of the situation in the area. These reports are in many cases made available to the Vietnamese counterpart, so he can see how he looks to his companion, and in some cases are made available to their superiors.

CHANGES PRODUCED IN VIETNAM SINCE 1968

The combination of the Vietnamese Pacification and Development Program and American assistance to it have produced the change in Vietnam since 1968. This change did not occur in 1 year; rather it culminated the changes which had been occurring over several years.

In 1967 a constitution was promulgated and a national assembly and a president were elected. This was a beginning of political stability in Vietnam after years of turbulence. In 1968, it can now be said in retrospect, the enemy made a major military effort to crack the shield which was gradually being built by the Vietnamese and Americans learning how to fight the people’s war.

In his attacks at Tet in May and in August, he threw his battalions, regiments and divisions into a major effort to shatter the Vietnamese army, seize the centers of government power and spark a general uprising. Despite the real psychological impact of his attacks, the fact is that he did not achieve any of these three goals.

On the government side a new resolution and drive showed itself in such developments as the General Mobilization Law, the increase of the regular and territorial forces and the beginning of the People’s Self Defense Program. By autumn it had become clear that the enemy’s massive military assault had not succeeded and new strategies began to be applied.

In November 1968 President Thieu launched the accelerated pacification program, the first integrated civil-military program to move into the country, establish security, attack the Vietcong ap- {p.13} paratus and begin the process of national mobilization under a comprehensive and integrated pacification plan.

Its critical feature was the movement of territorial forces into the areas from which they had been driven during the Tet attacks. This actually occurred without substantial enemy opposition. This 3-month campaign was followed by the 1969 pacification and development plan. The key development of 1969 was further expansion in the new areas throughout the countryside. The government set very venturesome goals in early 1969, goals which gave many of its advisors doubts that it could meet them. In fact, it met most of them although not all. As a result of these developments, the nature of the war has changed. The enemy began a People’s War of insurgency and ended by conducting primarily a North Vietnamese Army invasion. The government and its allies first tried to meet the attack with conventional forces and tactics but are now utilizing all the techniques and programs of a People’s War.

As a result of this long process, in early 1970 the change in the countryside is there to be seen. Except in one or two areas, the large enemy battalions, regiments and divisions are in the border sanctuaries. The roads are open to many markets and, from the air, tin roofs sparkle throughout the countryside where families are once again tilling their long-abandoned farms.

We have statistical measures of all of these changes, imperfect but the best we could develop. But the real difference can only be experienced by driving on the roads, by visiting the markets, and by talking to a 12-year-old school girl who informs you that she is again attending school in her village after a 3-year period in which none existed. A friend once complained that the pacification program does not produce dramatic results. From day to day it does not, but the difference in Vietnam from Tet of 1968 is certainly dramatic to the Vietnamese peasant.

FUTURE PROSPECTS FOR SOUTH VIETNAM

There is more work to be done. At night there are still guerrillas in Vietnam, and the roads open in the day are deserted and dark, occasionally criss-crossed by contending local forces. The grenades still go off in the theaters or tea shops as the terrorist demonstrates his continued presence. Some officials have by no means caught the spirit of the village community and endeavor to assert their Mandarinal privileges of dictation from above. There are still refugees and others whose lives have been blighted by the war who must be helped to a decent place in society. Most of all, North Vietnamese divisions are over the border or in. jungle redoubts, and prepare for other sallies against South Vietnam.

At the beginning of 1970, however, there is a vast difference in the situation. The government is organized to conduct a people’s war and is showing the leadership and drive to create a better and a safer society for its citizens. Its 1970 Pacification and Development Plan is in many respects more venturesome and ambitious than the 1969 plan. Its key also lies in consolidation of the admittedly thin layer of security established in many areas. It also sets high goals in political, economic and social development, not all of which may be reachable. {p.14}

In response to its leadership and its policies, however, its citizens are beginning to participate in self-defense, self-government and self-development. And the army has repelled North Vietnamese assaults at Bu Prang and Ben Het. It is by no means inevitable that this process must continue, as several developments could arrest or even reverse it.

The enemy is still in the field, and while we may have determined some of the tactics and techniques of this people’s war, the lessons must be reflected in new kinds of action in every hamlet and village in the land. This process has begun, but the future will include some dark days and even some local disasters. I believe, however, that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved so the Vietnamese people will have a free choice as to their future.

The outcome will depend more and more upon Vietnamese leadership, upon Vietnamese commitment and even upon Vietnamese resources. We Americans have played a substantial role in learning about this new kind of war, but one of the lessons is that it must be waged by the people and not merely the Government of Vietnam.

The American contribution in personnel and in resources will gradually reduce, to be replaced by full mobilization of people willing to sacrifice to remain free and to carry out the programs to make these sacrifices meaningful.

The Vietnamese people and Government are shouldering more of the load today than they did last year, and their plans and programs envisage a greater effort tomorrow. This is true in the military field; it is also true in the field of pacification and development.

The lessons learned and applied about this new form of war are making the Vietnamese effort pay greater dividends in terms of local security, political support, and hopes for peace. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the future of this program and of Vietnam, nor do I offer any pat solutions to difficult situations. I prefer to rely upon the determination of the Vietnamese people and Government and of the Americans who are now assisting them to take over this job.

I am privileged to present to you today several representative Americans with this determination, and I invite you to hear from them what we have learned about the people’s war and how it must be fought.

Thank you very much.

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.

MR. COLBY’S ATTITUDE TOWARD FUTURE OF SOUTH VIETNAM

Your last paragraph puzzled me a bit. You said you were neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Up to that point I thought you were very optimistic.

Mr. Colby. No, sir. I know there are going to be a lot of bad moments ahead from time to time, but I am determined.

The Chairman. What do you have in mind? What bad moments?

Mr. Colby. There will be local defeats, Mr. Chairman. There will be local incidents which will occur in which things won’t go right.

The Chairman. They would not be very significant in view of the overall resurgence of democracy in the country. We have all our local defeats. That is no reason to be pessimistic.

Mr. Colby. No, sir. I am not pessimistic. {p.15}

The Chairman. You say you are not either one. I thought you were optimistic up to that moment. It is not important. It sort of struck me.

U.S. OVERALL OBJECTIVE IN VIETNAM

There are one or two things you said that I would like to put in perspective. You are so familiar with the subject. Yours is an extremely well-prepared arid very thoughtful statement. What would you say is the overall objective of our effort in Vietnam? Could you state it a little differently than you did in your statement?

Mr. Colby. Of our national effort or of this program, Mr. Chairman?

The Chairman. Is there any difference? Aren’t they consistent?

Mr. Colby. Very much so. This program’s objective is to build up the strength of the people there, to participate in their defense and development.

The Chairman. What is the justification? Why should we be so especially concerned about the welfare of these particular people in South Vietnam as opposed to the people in any African or South American country? What is the special reason that we are devoting this extraordinary effort, using some of our ablest men, such as yourself and your colleagues?

Mr. Colby. Well, this is an overall national decision that has been made over several years, Mr. Chairman, to send us out there to do what we can for this—

The Chairman. Don’t you yourself have any feeling of purpose there other than that you are ordered to do it? What is your own feeling? I know of no one better to enlighten us. There is some uncertainty.

We had a remarkable witness before the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs the other day. I read the testimony and it said that one of the things bothering a number of our young men who do the actual fighting and, particularly, those who suffer the loss of their arms and legs, is “what is this about?” What is it for and what is the objective? It was on this I thought you might enlighten us a bit. We are far away from the scene and do not have the advantages you have. What do you feel is the real objective that justifies the effort not only that you put in but that the Army and the young men put in?

U.S. SECURITY INVOLVEMENT IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Mr. Colby. Well, I believe, Mr. Chairman, that it is related to the security of our own country, the future security of our own country.

The Chairman. I wondered about that. This is what I wish you would make clear to us and to the public.

Mr. Colby. This is not a missionary effort, Mr. Chairman, but rather a program which must be conducted in this particular manner because it is faced with a particular challenge that can only be met by a program which involves the people.

The Chairman. You said the security of this country is involved. Did you not?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir. {p.16}

The Chairman. Could you elaborate a little more. This is a rather elusive concept. Make it a little more clear to us how the security of this country is involved. I assume you mean physical security?

Mr. Colby. The overall political and physical security of the Nation.

The Chairman. How is it involved in this particular area known as South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. I think over the years, Mr. Chairman, our Presidents have reviewed the situation and felt that the outcome in Vietnam was related to the security of our country.

The Chairman. I do not wish to downgrade our Presidents, but I did not ask you what our Presidents thought. We all know about that. What do you think? You are the Ambassador there. Don’t you have your own views? Presidents come and go. It is not surely because President Johnson said our security is involved. Is that the best reason you have?

Mr. Colby. No, sir.

We all come from our upbringing? Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Quite right.

Mr. Colby. And I recall a period during my early years when Manchuria was very, very far away.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Colby. At another period a little later in my youth the Sudetanland was very, very far away. Both of these later turned out to be very closely related to the security of our country. I am not citing this as a precise example.

The Chairman. I do not recall. Did we do in Manchuria or in Sudetanland what you are doing in South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. No, we did not, sir.

The Chairman. What is the relevance of mentioning those two places?

Mr. Colby. Well, those things were far away in the early, and even in the late 1930’s, and by not joining with our allies and facing up to some threats at that time, I think we paid a terrible price.

The Chairman. Then you are suggesting that we would have been better off if we had done in Manchuria what we are now doing in South Vietnam. Is that what you are suggesting?

Mr. Colby. A great number of my classmates would still be alive, I believe, sir.

The Chairman. If we had done that?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. And also in the Sudetanland?

Mr. Colby. I think it is generally accepted that some action, if it had been taken at that time, might have avoided a very large conflagration later.

The Chairman. Do you think this country is capable of carrying on in Manchuria and Sudetanland and elsewhere the kind of program we are financing and carrying out in South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. Given the things we have learned over the years, Mr. Chairman I think we can carry on a much more modest program and an effective program than if we wait for the situation to become so bad that it can only be met by very serious investments. {p.17}

JUSTIFICATION FOR U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN SOUTH VIETNAM

The Chairman. I would not want to pursue that too long. I thought perhaps you could clarify, if only for my own purposes, some purpose which would justify the extent of this involvement and the extent of the expenditures, not only of money but the efforts of such people as yourself and your colleagues, who are obviously extremely capable people, whose efforts might be directed even at conditions here at home.

At the end of your statement you remarked what a great change there was between the past and today in Vietnam. I only wish you could say that about the United States.

I wish we had made the remarkable progress in the last 2 or 3 years that you have made with CORDS in South Vietnam.

COUNTERPART FUNDS

In reference to the financing of CORDS, you mentioned some of the basic figures, for instance, the U.S. contribution of $891 million, including counterpart funds.

I wonder if you would be very precise in explaining the counterpart funds. Are they what some of my colleagues call funny money or do they represent dollars?

Mr. Colby. They represent, in origin, dollars. Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. There is no difference in cost to the taxpayer.

Mr. Colby. No.

The Chairman. This is a term that leads some people to believe this does not cost us anything.

Mr. Colby. Oh, no.

The Chairman. That is not so.

Mr. Colby. This costs the taxpayers money. The program sends property over to Vietnam through commercial channels to importers who pay for it in piasters which are put in a special fund and handled in a special way. But the origin of it is certainly money from the United States.

U.S. PERCENTAGE OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE PACIFICATION BUDGET

The Chairman. Could you tell us what percentage of the South Vietnamese budget for pacification is derived directly or indirectly from U.S. assistance?

Mr. Colby. I cannot give you that answer directly Mr. Chairman. I can find the answer to that and give it to you, perhaps tomorrow.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

Twenty-three percent of the Vietnamese budget for pacification is derived directly or indirectly from U.S. assistance.

______________________

U.S. PERCENTAGE OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE BUDGET

The Chairman. Relevant to that, perhaps you could tell us what percentage of the budget of the Government of South Vietnam is derived directly or indirectly from U.S. assistance.

Mr. Colby. It is a very complicated subject, Mr. Chairman.

I believe that the current percentages are something in the neighborhood of 15 percent of the Government’s military budget is provided {p.18} directly by the United States. The remainder is provided by the Government of Vietnam.

The Chairman. Does the Government of South Vietnam tax any of the activities of the Government of the United States in Vietnam? Is there a tax on the imports or any of our activities?

Mr. Colby. There is a tax on the imports that is paid by the importer, the Vietnamese importer. It is not paid by the United States.

The Chairman. But the tax on that import is paid into the Government of Vietnam. All I am trying to get is some perspective for the benefit of the committee and the country as to whether this is relatively an American effort or are we a minor partner in this effort. Are the Vietnamese doing most of it and we are helping them out a little bit?

Mr. Colby. No, sir.

The Chairman. Are you suggesting that only 15 percent of the overall effort is ours?

Mr. Colby. No, sir; by no means.

The Chairman. Would you give us some idea of what we do?

Mr. Colby. We provide a very substantial amount of the equipment, rifles and so forth, and a very substantial amount of money.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Colby. But in any particular program, Mr. Chairman, the Vietnamese do by far the greatest amount in terms of the people involved in the program.

COMMODITY IMPORT PROGRAM

The Chairman. How does this commodity import program, which you referred to in your statement, fit into the budget picture of South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. This is held in a special fund, Mr. Chairman. The piasters collected from the importers who pay for the imports are held in a special fund which is only spent by joint agreement by the United States and the Government of Vietnam.

Senator Cooper. Mr. Chairman, would you yield at that point?

The Chairman. Yes.

Senator Cooper. May I ask if this kind of transaction is similar to those which occur in other countries? Is this correct: The United States exports to South Vietnam commodities of various types. South Vietnam pays the United States in its currency; is that correct?

Mr. Colby. Yes; I believe that is correct.

Senator Cooper. The currency is then placed in a trust fund and it is used according to agreement between South Vietnam and the United States. So actually the local currency is the product of our dollars, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. That is right.

I was trying to get some idea of the proportionate costs to the two countries of the overall effort and of pacification.

U.S. AND SOUTH VIETNAMESE CONTRIBUTIONS TO PACIFICATION PROGRAM

Would you say the pacification program itself is supported primarily by the Americans? {p.19}

Mr. Colby. Over the past 3 or 4 years, Mr. Chairman, the division between the American and the Vietnamese Governments’ contribution to pacification programs has been about 50-50. The sum has, however, more than doubled over the past 3 years. As a result of this, both the American contribution and the Vietnamese Government contribution have increased.

The Chairman. Can you say from your statement how much will be spent per capita on the pacification program, including all the military programs?

Mr. Colby. Per capita Vietnamese or per capita American?

The Chairman. Per capita Vietnamese.

Mr. Colby. I cannot answer that directly, sir. I can tell you the costs of various of the programs.

A popular force soldier, for instance, costs about $2,000 for his first year of service. A national policeman costs the United States about $120 and costs the Vietnamese Government about $1,000 a year.

A regional force soldier costs about $4,500 for his first year and about $2,000 a year thereafter.

The Chairman. The staff says it is about $90 per capita on the basis of the amounts in your statement.

DISTRIBUTION OF U.S. ADVISERS IN SOUTH VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT

Could you give a little further detail about the advisers and how they are distributed. In what government ministries and offices are there U.S. advisers? Are they in all of them or most of them?

Mr. Colby. In most of them there are some advisers at various levels. Some of them specialize in limited programs; others have a limited relationship.

The Chairman. Are there any advisers in the office of Prime Minister?

Mr. Colby. A couple of my junior officers have a small liaison office down there. They do not advise the Prime Minister in that sense, but they have an office there which we can exchange papers through.

The Chairman. How many U.S. advisers work in the ministry primarily responsible for the pacification program?

Mr. Colby. Well, our total Saigon staff, Mr. Chairman, is 600.

Of that, I would say not more than 100 or so would be involved in the different ministries, 100 to 200.

The Chairman. Is there a ministry of the Saigon Government primarily responsible for the pacification program?

Mr. Colby. There is not one ministry, Mr. Chairman. There is a council which includes all of the ministries, the President is the chairman of it, and the Prime Minister is the secretary general.

It does have a small staff of about 20-odd people. We have an officer, Mr. McManaway, here who meets frequently with the head of that staff, and we have other officers who work with the other officers in that staff.

The Chairman. Are there any ministries where you do not have any U.S. advisers?

Mr. Colby. Well, certainly Mr. Chairman, there are several of them in which we do not have any advisers who come under my direction. I would say that there are probably a couple of ministries {p.20} without U.S. advisers. For instance, I do not believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has one.

 

The Chairman. It has no American advisers.

Mr. Colby. I do not believe so. I would not be sure of that, but I just do not believe so.

HOW LONG WILL U.S. ADVISERS BE NEEDED?

The Chairman. Could you make a guess as to how long you think U.S. advisers will be needed in the pacification program?

Mr. Colby. Mr Chairman, we are planning to reduce various advisers at various places and levels gradually, as we think the situation permits it. I do not have a specific timetable that I would offer at this time.

COST OF PACIFICATION PROGRAM OVER NEXT 5 YEARS

The Chairman. Would you care to guess how much it will cost over the next 5 years?

Mr. Colby. I think our costs will go down in the next year or so because a substantial percentage of our costs in the past couple of years have been in hardware for the increased size of the territorial forces, M-16’s, M-79 grenade launchers, mortars, and so forth. These were pretty much one-time expenditures and so, consequently, I would believe that the overall costs will go down for the next few years.

RETIRED MILITARY MEN ACTING AS U.S. CIVILIAN ADVISERS

The Chairman. In your statement, you said there were 6,361 military personnel, and 948 civilians. You said there are a total of 215 military men as senior province and district advisers and 52 civilians.

Do you know how many of the 948 civilians are retired military men?

Mr. Colby. I do not know the exact figure, sir, but about 25 percent of the province and district senior advisers who are civilians are retired military.

The Chairman. Would it be out of line to say that of the 948 civilians you mentioned, about 25 percent are military men?

Mr. Colby. I think that would be a little high, Mr. Chairman. I think that would be a little high.

The Chairman. What would you say?

Mr. Colby. If I may correct this figure later, I can give you a very precise answer, but I would guess in the neighborhood of 100, 150, something like that.

(The following information was later submitted.)

______________________

The precise answer is a total of 180 retired military against 1,190 civilian spaces authorized.

______________________

The Chairman. Would it be fair to describe this program as a quasi-military government?

Mr. Colby. No, sir; I don’t think so because it has no authority. It is an advisory effort. The decisions are made by the Vietnamese Government. The President of the Republic makes the critical policy decisions about this program. {p.21}

NEW ELEMENTS IN VIETNAM WAR

The Chairman. I was struck by your mentioning two or three different times that this is a new kind of war. We have always heard there is nothing new under the sun. I wondered in what respect, for example, does this war differ from our Revolutionary War or our Civil War? What is new about this war that has never occurred in other wars?

Mr. Colby. Some of the various elements are familiar to us from our background. But the way the doctrine developed by Mao, Lenin, and Ho Chi Minh, and some of the others had been put together is a new technique, a strategy of combining various factors together to make a new attack on the problem.

I think that they looked at the power facing them in several of the nations of the world. They felt they could not go through the power, could not go around it, could not go over it, but they thought they could go under it, grab hold of the people and pull them out from under.

They tried this in China during the early days there. They tried it during the first Indochina war against the French and worked it out to a fairly good system. Now this, I think, was a new technique. This is not a novel situation—

The Chairman. I should have warned you in the beginning that I am not as fully aware and knowledgeable about the background of all this as you probably assumed I am.

When you say they applied it against the French, who applied what against the French? Would you make it plain.

Mr. Colby. Ho Chi Min, Giap, and some others.

The Chairman. What did they apply against the French that was new? What is new about this as opposed to other wars that have occurred? We have had many different kinds of wars.

Mr. Colby. One new factor, for instance, is a new military tactic which we have to face in Vietnam. We are familiar in our country with what we call a logistical tail of an army, the logistics support.

The Chairman. I am not familiar with it. Frankly, I do not know what you are talking about.

Mr. Colby. That a soldier goes out and faces the enemy and is pretty much alone as he goes. Behind him, come various things to help him do his job. There are supporting arms, the ordnance, the quartermaster, the food, and all the rest.

HOW DOES VIETNAM WAR DIFFER FROM OTHER WARS?

The Chairman. I was not thinking so much about military tactics in the field. The French really, for practical purposes, were driven out of Vietnam and Indochina by the Japanese. Were they or weren’t they?

Mr. Colby. They came back in after World War II.

The Chairman. Then the war began between the Vietnamese and the French.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. What was new about that and different from other wars?

Mr. Colby. The organization of the population, the conduct of a mass political effort among the population to support the effort, the {p.22} combination of organizers, terrorists, the guerrilla and the main force units.

The Chairman. You mean there had never been guerrillas before? Was this the first war in which the guerrillas operated?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. I have been a guerrilla, but there are other levels of this war.

The Chairman. Didn’t Tito have guerrillas against the Germans in Yugoslavia?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

But his was an experiment which led toward this final technique which they have developed.

The Chairman. Didn’t the Maquis have a war against the Germans in France? It was a very effective war. What is new about that?

Mr. Colby. Well, I participated in that particular effort, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. In France?

Mr. Colby. I did, sir, and it was not as effective as this one because we did not not have the same techniques.

The Chairman. It succeeded in the end; didn’t it? I thought the Germans were defeated.

Mr. Colby. They were defeated with the help of the resistance, but not through the technique that has been developed in the Far East, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Perhaps I am too limited in my background to follow this, but I do not see anything particularly new or different between this war and other wars of a colony seeking its independence of its colonial master. There are new guns. It is true George Washington did not have M-16s, but his army had squirrel rifles and they made the same use of them, I do not see the difference. The difference between the military hardware and a few other things does not seem to me a significant difference.

Mr. Colby. No. The military hardware is not the difference, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. What is the difference?

Mr. Colby. The real difference is the involvement of the people in the war.

During the first Indochina war, the Viet Minh aimed at organizing the people to participate fully in the war as a part of the war effort.

The Chairman. Against the French.

Mr. Colby. Against the French.

The Chairman. Why was that very different? Didn’t George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and the rest try to do the same thing here with great difficulty. They had many people who did not think much of it, but they finally succeeded; didn’t they?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. We had Tories who did not agree.

Mr. Colby. But there was a different style of organization.

The Chairman. What is the difference?

Mr. Colby. The organization, of these people, the indoctrination of the people, mobilization in the Communist sense of the word of the people, which means regimented participation in an organized manner in the effort and then supplementing this with guerrilla efforts, and supplementing this again with main force efforts. {p.23}

DOES U.S. POSITION MAKE VIETNAM WAR DIFFERENT?

The Chairman. Could it be the only difference between this and Yugoslavia and France, the guerrillas who helped George Washington against those dreadful Hessians and others, is that this is one time we are not on the side of the guerrillas? We are on the other side with the guerrillas against us. Is that the new kind of war that you had in mind?

Mr. Colby. I think the lesson we have learned out there, Mr. Chairman, is that we cannot fight it by Hessians; that we have to involve the people of the nation the effort.

The Chairman. We have tried to fight it with Hessians; haven’t we?

Mr. Colby. I don’t think with Hessians, Mr. Chairman, but we have tried—

The Chairman. What does Hessians mean to you?

Mr. Colby. Foreign elements, mercenary, elements.

The Chairman. That is right, you don’t think we have had any mercenaries?

Mr. Colby. We have had a few, a very few, but I would not characterize the American Army as mercenaries, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. No, no, not the American Army. It is a conscripted army. It is far from being mercenary. It is the opposite.

Mr. Colby. I would not characterize the American Army as Hessians.

The Chairman. I never have. No one else has. However, there are more than Americans there. There are some that are called allies. They are not Americans.

I do not see the great difference in this war that you seem to see other than that this is the only time I know of in our history that we have tried to help a colonial power in trying to maintain control of a colony. Do you know of any other instances?

Mr. Colby. We have participated in that kind of an effort in other times.

The Chairman. What is another example?

Mr. Colby. The Philippine insurrection in which the United States helped put down that insurrection.

The Chairman. We helped Spain keep control of the Philippines?

Mr. Colby. No, we helped suppress an insurrection.

The Chairman. Against us?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. It is odd that you would give this as an example.

My impression was that we had told the Philippines we were there to deliver them from the colonial power then known as Spain. Is that not right?

Mr. Colby. I believe the explanation was a little more imperialist at that time of the turn of the century, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. What was the origin of the war? Was it not to deliver both Cuba and the Philippines from Spanish domination?

Mr. Colby. Some people said that and some people said other things like “manifest destiny”, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Didn’t that come a little later? Manifest destiny developed after we changed our objective, didn’t it? I do not want to pursue this too long, but I think it is really very odd that you would {p.24} use the Philippines experiment as a precedent for our actions in helping the French maintain their power over the Vietnamese.

Mr. Colby. No. I think you have turned the question slightly, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. I wish you would clarify it.

Mr. Colby. I think you asked me whether there was any occasion in which the United States had helped to put down a rebellion and the answer was yes, there had been.

The Chairman. I do not believe I put that question. I said it was the only case I knew of in which the United States tried to help a colonial power maintain control of a colony. I think it is perfectly logical, having been a colony ourselves, that we have always helped the colony achieve its independence of the colonial power until Vietnam. In case of the Philippines it seems to me we began to deliver the Philippines from Spain, but after we became acquainted with the Philippines, Mr. McKinley said the Lord had directed him to Christianize and civilize the Philippines. So we took them by brute force. Is that correct?

Mr. Colby. I think that association—

The Chairman. That is right and we killed a great many of them in the process.

LENGTH OF TIME UNITED STATES INTENDS TO REMAIN IN VIETNAM

Do you think there is any possibility that we might decide to stay in Vietnam for quite a while?

Mr. Colby. I think our policy is fairly clear. We are trying to end our participation there and remove ourselves from Vietnam.

The Chairman. That is the announced policy. The announced policy in the Philippines was to free them from the domination of Spain.

I only ask you that as sort of an historical byline. It has occurred to some people that things change in the course of doing good to people. We fall in love with them; don’t we?

Mr. Colby. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the Vietnamese would not fall in love with us if they thought we were going to stay.

One of the factors of this particular effort today is that the Vietnamese are convinced that we are intending to move out, that we do not intend to stay there and retain authority there, and that they are fighting a truly nationalist effort and not a colonial effort.

The Vietnamese leadership, the Vietnamese people who participate in the self-defense program, the Vietnamese who vote in their local communities for their own leadership, are looking to a day in which Vietnam is theirs.

PHOENIX PROGRAM

The Chairman. Are you familiar with a man named Robert G. Kaiser, Jr.?

Mr. Colby. I have met him from time to time, yes, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Did you see this article appearing in this morning’s Washington Post?

Mr. Colby. I did, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Do you consider it reasonably accurate? {p.25}

Mr. Colby. I would have a few problems with minor aspects of it, but I think, in general, it states the fact that we have a difficult problem of making the Phoenix program work, and that we are working at it. It has been no great success but we are working at it.

It is not the kind of a program that it has sometimes been thought to be, by misunderstanding of some of the terms used.

The Chairman. I will ask to put it in the record for reference and I will yield to my colleagues for questions at this time.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

[From the Washington Post, Feb. 17, 1970]

U.S. Aides in Vietnam Scorn Phoenix Project

(By Robert G. Kaiser, Jr.)

SAIGON, February 16.— The program to neutralize the Vietcong infrastructure in South Vietnam is called Phoenix, and it is a bird of several feathers.

Some war critics in the United States have attacked Phoenix as an instrument of mass political murder. Such sinister descriptions are not heard in Vietnam, where Phoenix has the reputation of a poorly plotted farce, sometimes with tragic overtones.

The contradiction between Phoenix’s lurid reputation as a sort of Vietnamese Murder, Inc., and the scorn with which it is widely regarded here typifies one of the most popular grievances of American officials in Vietnam: “They don’t understand at home what’s going on out here.”

The gulf between homefront and battlefront is likely to appear Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, when American pacification officials are expected to be questioned closely about the Phoenix program.

Because Phoenix is an offspring of the CIA and because its operations have always been obscured by the cloak of official secrecy, the Foreign Relations Committee may discuss the program in a closed session. But Phoenix’s secrets are not well kept in Vietnam.

The South Vietnamese-run program does involve killing. American statistics on Phoenix results (which are radically more conservative than the Vietnamese figures) show 19,534 members of the so-called Vietcong infrastructure (VCI) “neutralized” during 1969 — 6,187 of them killed.

The rest were captured (8,515) or rallied to the government cause (4,832).

But several officials involved in the program, including some who are sharply critical of Phoenix, note a fact that is not tabulated in official statistics: A small fraction, probably one tenth to one fifth, of the VCI neutralized are captured or killed on purpose. The overwhelming majority are rounded up in military operations, killed in battles, ambushes or other military action, and described afterward as infrastructure. Only a handful are targeted, diligently pursued and captured or killed.

PHOENIX NOT WORKING

“The most important point about Phoenix,” said one official who had access to all the program’s statistics and records, “is that it isn’t working.”

That view is repeated by official and confidential U.S. establishments here, and official and confidential studies, including recent reports by the CIA and the deputy under secretary of the Army, James V. Siena, Phoenix has failed to neutralize a significant number of important Vietcong officials.

“We are not bothering them now, that’s for damn sure,” one of the senior Americans in Vietnam said not long ago.

A common description of Phoenix one hears from officials in Vietnam is of a program without substance. A share of the killing and capturing that goes on in the war is attributed statistically to Phoenix, but — many officials say — most of Phoenix’s share could easily be attributed to something or somebody else.

Phoenix’s unsavory reputation apparently stems from its clandestine nature, its connections with some deliberate assassinations, and accusations made by several public figures and army veterans about its activities.

AN IDEA OF THE CIA

Phoenix was the idea of the CIA, and until last July it was run by the agency. Phoenix operations conducted by Provincial Reconnaissance Units have in- {p.26} volved assassinations. These units, another CIA organization composed of Vietnamese troops and U.S. advisers, were organized primarily as a counter-terror group to operate behind enemy lines. Assassination of Vietcong officials was one of their assignments.

But the units are now under local Vietnamese control, and have lost much of their ferocious reputation. “They’ve lost 50 per cent of their effectiveness,” according to one U.S. official.

“There’s some killing, but this is a war. There are no organized bump-off squads,” one official with no brief for Phoenix insisted recently. Efforts to find contrary evidence were unsuccessful. Many of the accusations against Phoenix cannot be verified here. Some seem to be based on misunderstandings of Phoenix terminology and statistics.

Officials in Vietnam are critical of Phoenix on many other counts. In recent interviews with several officials involved in the program, a reporter heard these points:

Phoenix is potentially dangerous, for it could be used against political opponents of the regime, whether they were Vietcong or not. However, there is no evidence that this has happened yet.

Phoenix contributes substantially to corruption. Some local officials demand payoffs with threats of arrests under the Phoenix program, or release genuine Vietcong for cash.

Phoenix is helping the Vietcong more than hurting it. By throwing people in prison who are often only low-level operatives — sometimes people forced to cooperate with the Vietcong when they lived in VC territory — the government is alienating a large slice of the population. “We should not jail people,” said Ho Ngoc Nhuan, chairman of the rural development committee of the Vietnamese House. “That makes them enemies of the government.”

A CAMPAIGN IS NECESSARY

All the officials interviewed were persuaded that a concerted campaign against the Vietcong organization is necessary if South Vietnam is to have any chance of independent survival in the long run, but all also agreed that the Phoenix program had failed to hurt the VC organization so far.

Phoenix was adopted by the Vietnamese government, at American urging (or perhaps insistence), in December 1967. It is supposed to unify the fragmented intelligence agencies in Vietnam, and share the best information among all operating units. Provincial security committees, part of the Phoenix structure, also have the power to try and sentence suspects to prison for up to two years.

There are 441 Americans attached to Phoenix, all as advisers. Americans play no direct role in Phoenix operations.

Phoenix offices in the 44 provinces and most of the 242 districts of South Vietnam (all with U.S. advisers) are supposed to maintain dossiers on Vietcong officials in their area and a “blacklist” of wanted men and women.

Ideally, Special Branch Police (an intelligence unit of the National Police, advised and financed by the CIA), local troops and Provincial Reconnaissance Units are supposed to conduct operations to arrest these wanted persons. Arrested individuals are interrogated. When there is some evidence of a Vietcong connection, they are brought to trial before the provincial security team. High-level suspects are supposed to be bound over to a military field court.

REALITY DIFFERS FROM MODEL

As so often in Vietnam, reality bears small resemblance to this ideal model. Interviews with officials and observations in the countryside reveal deviations from the ideal.

The main problem is that Vietnamese don’t seem interested in really prosecuting the program.

“They just aren’t interested,” said one official. “They don’t want to be caught trying to get the VCI if they think maybe next year the VCI will be in control.”

Some local officials have made private accommodations with the Vietcong, U.S. and Vietnamese officials say. They are unwilling to upset these arrangements by chasing VCI.

Only in the last few months has the central government put strong emphasis on Phoenix. Some officials think this new pressure may improve performance.

Largely because of Vietnamese disinterest, the local Phoenix offices simply do not work. Many keep no records. Others mount no operations. Phoenix is often run by poor-quality personnel, chosen for their jobs by local officials who {p.27} don’t want to waste their good people on the program. Most district offices are run by junior army officers who have little sense of the sophisticated political problems of hunting down Vietcong officials.

NEUTRALIZATION QUOTAS

Perhaps to prod recalcitrant local officials, the central government assigns Phoenix quotas to the provinces. Thus a province chief has to report neutralization of a certain number of VCI every month to stay in good. “They will meet every quota, that’s established for them,” one American adviser noted.

But meeting the quotas often means disregarding any standards. Officials often count every man arrested, even if he is released immediately for lack of evidence. American advisers refuse to confirm many of these alleged neutralizations, accounting for much of the difference of almost 100 per cent between U.S. and South Vietnamese Phoenix statistics.

Quota-conscious district and province chiefs also pad their Phoenix figures with any number of citizens captured or killed in military operations, whether genuine VCI or not.

“Vietnamization” of Phoenix has, in a sense, already been completed — the only Americans involved are advisers. But some officials think most of the advisers should now be withdrawn.

“We’ve done all we can,” one official said. “If they want to get the VCI, they can do it. We can’t do anything more.”

______________________

The Chairman. Senator Symington.

Senator Symington. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Colby, it is good to see you, sir.

Mr. Colby. It is nice to see you again, Senator.

MR. COLBY’S EXPERIENCE IN VIETNAM

Senator Symington. In my opinion, you are one of the outstanding public servants that I have known, and I have always gotten a lot of information from you when we have discussed matters.

When did you first go to Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. In February 1959, Senator.

Senator Symington. In what capacity?

Mr. Colby. I was the deputy to the Special Assistant to the Ambassador, American Embassy.

Senator Symington. You were a CIA representative at that time?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. And when did you leave?

Mr. Colby. I left there in the summer of 1962, Senator, and came back to the United States where I became the Chief of the Far East Division of the CIA.

Senator Symington. Did you go back?

Mr. Colby. I visited Vietnam once or twice a year in those years when I was in that job.

Senator Symington. When did you leave the CIA to take this job?

Mr. Colby. I left the CIA at the end of January 1968, and went out to Vietnam, first to take a job as assistant chief of staff of CORDS and later to succeed to the position of deputy to the commander for CORDS.

Senator Symington. Mr. Robert Komer had this job once, didn’t he?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir; he left in early November 1968.

Senator Symington. And he was sent out by the President?

Mr. Colby. By the President; yes, sir.

Senator Symington. Who sent you out? {p.28}

Mr. Colby. Well, my assignment came up in the course of a discussion between Mr. Helms and the President, I believe.

Senator Symington. President Johnson?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. And, as a result of that, you went out in the early part of 1968?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. And you have been on this job ever since?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

LESSONS LEARNED IN VIETNAM

Senator Symington. In your statement, you say—

The lessons we have learned in Vietnam can increase Vietnam’s ability to defend itself.

Would you enlarge on your thinking on that?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

I think the lesson we have learned is that we must involve the people in a war and that they will not support or assist an effort unless it is something that they believe in, that they have a part of. This lesson — that it must trust its people — is one which, I believe, the Vietnamese Government has learned also. The best example of that, I think, was the distribution of weapons to the Self Defense forces which are composed of ordinary citizens in local communities.

It is also represented by the Vietnamese Government’s decision to make the Phung Hoang or Phoenix program a public program, to expose it so that the whole public could know about it, and participate in it to protect themselves against terrorists. The foundation of the effort has to be a mass, popular effort.

Senator Symington. With great respect, when I was out there in early 1967 and late 1967 there was the same amount of optimism about the program, but it did not work out that way, and I imagine that is one of the reasons they sent you.

Mr. Colby. I would not say that, Senator, by any means. But I think the point that my statement makes is that we have not found any solution at the end of the trail. We have been gradually learning more and more about this.

REGIONAL AND POPULAR FORCES

Senator Symington. In your statement you say:

Both of these forces are made up of full-time soldiers—

Et cetera, et cetera, and then you say—

both have been substantially increased since 1968.

Mr. Colby. Since early 1968, that is.

Senator Symington. So they now total approximately 475,000 men. What did they total before then?

Mr. Colby. They were about 30,000, a little over. They have been increased about 150,000 in the past couple of years.

Senator Symington. Then you say the Communists have identified it clearly as a major threat, a start toward a true people’s army.

Mr. Colby. This is a people’s self-defense force. In their resolution No. 9 of the central office, South Vietnam, for instance, the Commu- {p.29} nists singled this out as a very dangerous program that could be a threat to them in the future.

Senator Symington. Inasmuch as the Ky government, now the Thieu-Ky government, was fighting for its life all during these years, why do you think it took them so long to understand that this should be done in order to handle the problem?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think it began to be learned in 1967, Senator. Some of the programs began to be put together in 1968. Prior to 1967, of course, things were pretty confused out there, with the changes in governments and that sort of thing.

POLITICAL OPPOSITION IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Senator Symington. During my visit out there in 1966, there were three people who were highly talked about by our people. One was a general, one was a village chief south of Danang, and the other was a Major Mai. Did you know him?

Mr. Colby. I did; yes.

Senator Symington. I went back there a year later and the general and Major Mai had been removed for political purposes, and the village chief had been killed. Has that type and character of opposition stopped?

Mr. Colby. I think we have not had similar problems of that nature in recent times. I am not saying that political difference might not arise in the future between some of them, It could happen.

Senator Symington. As I remember, Major Mai was in charge, in effect, of Vung Tau.

Mr. Colby. He was; yes.

Senator Symington. And he was removed by General Ky and ended up as an interpreter with us for the Korean Army.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Symington. Is he still there?

Mr. Colby. He is still there.

Senator Symington. If a man has that obvious ability, why don’t they use him, instead of keeping him, in effect, in exile?

Mr. Colby. I don’t know the basis for it, but I think they thought that he was developing a political apparatus of his own with the cadre there. His successor, Lieutenant Colonel Be, has been there since. He has been a very forceful speaker against corruption and against many other things in the national government. He has been the leader of a very strong policy for those people.

He is trusted by the Government despite the kinds of remarks he makes, which do not sound like just praise for the Government, by any means. He has been fully supported in the position by the President and by the Prime Minister. He was given full authority to run the training program of village chiefs.

Senator Symington. Did he replace Mai?

Mr. Colby. He replaced Mai.

Senator Symington. And is Colonel Be still there?

Mr. Colby. He is still there.

Senator Symington. Thank you. {p.30}

 

SELECTIVE ASSASSINATION, 1967 AND 1968

You say in your statement that during 1969, for example, over 6,000 were killed in terrorist incidents, and over 1,200 in selective assassination. What were the figures in 1968 and 1967 of selective assassinations?

Mr. Colby. I cannot answer the questions right offhand. I think I might be able to find it for you.

Senator Symington. Will you please supply it for the record.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

Selective assassinations for 1967 are only available from 1 Oct. to 31 Dec. The total for this three-month period is 624. For 1968 there were 1,743; however, no figures were available during February.

______________________

Mr. Colby. The 1968 figures are incomplete because we do not include the period of Tet, the February figure. There is 1 month for which the figure was just not obtainable.

Senator Symington. Are those the times when they went into a village, and picked people and killed them? Is that what selective assassination means?

Mr. Colby. Yes, a directed assassination against a specific official rather than a grenade going off in a marketplace.

ABILITY TO DEFEAT GUERRILLA WARFARE

Senator Symington. In the fall of 1966, General Dayan went out to Vietnam for some weeks, and then wrote several articles, one of which I read in the paper here. In it he said if the North Vietnamese and Vietcong turned to guerrilla warfare it would not be possible for us to defeat them — this from one of the most experienced and able guerrilla fighters in the world today, based on the record.

Why do you think he felt that way about it?

Mr. Colby. I think he was referring at that time to the fact that most of our efforts were in the conventional warfare field, and he was making the usual criticism that a guerrilla force is very difficult for regular forces to stop.

I think that is one of the real changes in the situation. The government is developing its own guerrilla force with mass popular participation in the effort by the self-defense and other groups in the country and strong advocacy of local government, letting people elect their own leadership.

TRAN NGOC CHAU

Senator Symington. Didn’t Tran Ngoc Chau replace Mai?

Mr. Colby. Tran Ngoc Chau replaced Mai. He did for a time, yes. He had the overall charge of the cadre program.

Senator Symington. You mentioned that Be did.

Mr. Colby. Be is now the chief. He came in very shortly thereafter.

Senator Symington. Where is Chau now?

Mr. Colby. He is somewhere in Saigon, I believe. I do not know. He, as you know, was elected to the National Assembly; he was removed from his other position. He was not only the leader of the Vung Tau Center, Senator, he was head of the RD Cadre Directorate in the Ministry of RD. {p.31}

CAN SOUTH VIETNAMESE WIN WAR WITHOUT U.S. ASSISTANCE?

Senator Symington. The American taxpayer has put over $100 billion into South Vietnam, and in the beginning we laid down rules which apparently have made it impossible to achieve a military victory, if that ever was possible. In addition, according to an article I read in the press not too long ago, we have had around 700,000 Americans — that would, of course, count the top figure we had in Vietnam, plus the Seventh Fleet, plus Thailand.

Then if you added to that number the people we have in Japan directly connected with the war, the people in the Philippines at such bases as Subic Bay and Clark, the people we have in Okinawa and Guam directly connected with the war in Southeast Asia, the total is well over 700,000, closer to 800,000.

What this article asks is, if the United States cannot do it with 800,000 of its best youth, backed by our industrial capacity, how can we expect the South Vietnamese to do it when American military personnel are withdrawn?

That disturbs me a great deal. Could you comment?

Mr. Colby. Well, part of the lessons we have learned, Senator, is that it is very difficult indeed to do it with Americans, that it can only really be done with Vietnamese, and not only with Vietnamese officials but with the Vietnamese people.

It is only by engaging the active participation of the population itself that they can retain their own freedom, that they can continue an effort of this nature. Therefore, some of the critical aspects of the war lie in the formation of the political base for the Government, a base formed on local governments locally elected.

WHEN CAN SOUTH VIETNAMESE HANDLE VC AND NORTH VIETNAMESE ALONE?

Senator Symington. How soon do you think it will be before the South Vietnamese can handle the Vietcong by themselves and the North Vietnamese also, if the North Vietnamese continue hostilities?

Mr. Colby. Those are two slightly different questions, Senator.

Senator Symington. Well, you develop the answer any way you like.

Mr. Colby. How soon they can handle the Vietcong by themselves? I think that if you removed the North Vietnamese entirely from the picture they would be very close to that today. But if you continue the infusion of North Vietnamese units, then it is a gradual process, and I do not know. I cannot give you a precise figure.

I am confident that the 17 million Vietnamese in South Vietnam can be strengthened and developed into a national cohesion to protect themselves against the North Vietnamese.

Senator Symington. Mr. Colby, I have great respect for your opinion, and I would like to ask you to help us out in this situation. There are a lot of issues involved, and one is the economic issue. As you know, we have real problems now with respect to our economy.

If the U.S. troops and support left, after giving all that is needed, in your opinion do you believe that the Thieu-Ky government, provided the North Vietnamese retreated, could control the country as {p.32} against the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front without any Americans there?

Mr. Colby. I believe so.

Senator Symington. You do believe that?

Mr. Colby. Without the North Vietnamese, I believe so.

Senator Symington. And if the North Vietnamese stayed interested after all of this training that you are doing and all the material that we have given them, how long do you think it will be before we can get out?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think this has to be a gradual process, Senator, and I frankly cannot give you a date on it. Our first priority is to get our combat forces out of there and we certainly are in the process of doing that.

Senator Symington. I realize that. I have not set any timetable about it, and I am not one of those who says we must get them all out this year. I am asking because you are out there and I respect your thinking.

Would you say in 5 years we could get out entirely?

Mr. Colby. I really don’t have a number that I could give you, Senator. It depends on a lot of things that can develop during those 5 years. But I think that the basic thrust of the policy — that they will be able to take care of their own affairs — is valid. Just when that is going to happen, I really cannot say.

Senator Symington. How about 10 years?

Do you think we can get out in 10 years?

Mr. Colby. I think certainly—

Senator Symington. It is not an unfair question.

Mr. Colby. No, it is a fair question.

Senator Symington. When I was in the executive branch, they promised us the troops in Germany would stay a maximum of 18 months, and they have been there for a quarter of a century.

Moreover our troops have been in Korea 20 years next June, so I am not being facetious, but very sincere.

Mr. Colby. I know.

Senator Symington. If you don’t think they can get out in 5 years entirely, do you think they can get out in 10 years?

Mr. Colby. I think they could if nothing else arose during those 10 years that caused a revision of that estimate, if no new situation arose.

Senator Symington. Like what?

Mr. Colby. Like a change in the overall situation in the Far East. I could not think of anything in particular, but new factors come to bear on things that seem to be set in one direction and change does occur.

Senator Symington. You were not sure about 5, but you are pretty sure about 10. How about 7?

Mr. Colby. I don’t think I can really fix a time for you, Senator.

I think that the thrust is a staged reduction of our forces, taking our combat forces out of the front lines first, taking our support forces put second, and leaving economic support and advisory support as the last item going out. {p.33}

COMPARISON OF 1968 AND 1969 SOUTH VIETNAMESE LOSSES

Senator Symington. Mr. Colby, weren’t there more Vietnamese killed, wounded, and abducted by the North Vietnamese in 1969 than in 1968?

Mr. Colby. There were, if you leave out February, Senator, yes. The total is higher in 1969 than 1968, if you leave out February. But February, of course, was the time of the Tet attack, and a lot of people were killed and wounded and abducted during that period.

Senator Symington. But that was 1968.

Mr. Colby. That was 1968; that is what I mean. If you leave February out of 1968, and we just don’t have figures for 1968 for that month—

Senator Symington. When you say leave out, do you mean the fact that there was the Tet offensive is the reason that the 1968 figures exceed the 1969?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. The 1968 figures we have do not include those killed, wounded, and abducted during February and, therefore, they are very short of what really happened during 1968.

Senator Symington. Why aren’t those included?

Mr. Colby. We just don’t know what they are, Senator. Things were a little confused and we don’t have figures.

Senator Symington. Then your supposition—

Mr. Colby. My supposition is there were more killed in 1968 than in 1969.

SIZE OF VIETCONG INFRASTRUCTURE

Senator Symington. What is the size of the Vietcong infrastructure now?

Mr. Colby. Our current estimate is about 75,000, but that is a very fuzzy figure, Senator. We are doing some fairly good homework trying to harden that up. I am not at all confident of that figure.

Senator Symington. What was it 2 years ago?

Mr. Colby. Two years ago, I don’t think we even had a good estimate. One year ago it was about 80,000?

But that is not a good estimate either.

POSSIBILITY OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE SUCCESS WITHOUT U.S. SUPPORT

Senator Symington. There are more questions I would like to ask, but I want to yield to my colleagues. But I would put the question to you again.

We have, counting everybody, pretty close to 800,000 people working every day to win whatever our objective is in Vietnam. That counts Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Guam, and other places that I am sure you know.

These Americans are backed over here by tens upon tens of thousands of people who are producing items for the Vietnamization program — the idea being that we are going to give them so many billions of dollars of equipment in the belief that at a certain point they will be able to handle this problem by themselves.

Would you supply for the record a statement as to why you believe that without these 800,000 Americans they can be successful, which {p.34} means we can be successful, when we haven’t been able to be so after many years and great expenditure of lives and treasure.

Mr. Colby. All right, sir.

Senator Symington. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

During the period 1965 to 1968, Communist military strength in Viet-Nam was at a high level; its regular troops rested upon active guerrilla forces and a politically organized base. The Communist regular forces were set back by U.S. regular forces. The Vietnamese Government, with U.S. support, then strengthened its Regional and Popular Forces, the People’s Self Defense, Phoenix and police operations, and developed a more actively engaged population. By 1970, the nature of the war thus changed; what was formerly a Communist war conducted on three levels became a government-led people’s war facing an increasingly North Vietnamese military force. The territorial forces, the police, and the People’s Self Defense make the enemy military forces much less effective since they pre-empt the caches, the recruits, and the information. In this circumstance, the enemy regular military force becomes less difficult to handle than the earlier combined guerrilla and regular enemy forces and infrastructure. A weaker enemy thus faces a GVN stronger in the political as well as the military field. This process has already begun in the Delta where smaller total military forces are handling a situation which formerly required the assistance of regular U.S. forces.

______________________

The Chairman. Senator Case.

Senator Case. Would you ask Senator Cooper?

The Chairman. Senator Cooper.

Senator Cooper. Thank you, Senator Case.

Ambassador Colby, I would like to congratulate you on a very comprehensive statement, which is a record of your able service and the services of those associated with you, both on the military and civilian side.

IS CORDS PROGRAM PART OF VIETNAMIZATION?

The chairman asked you a question which, I think, was directed toward your view of what the objective of your program was.

Would you say it is an auxiliary or is it a part of the total Vietnamization program which has been announced as the policy of the Administration?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think the program we are putting through here is very much a part of the total Vietnamization effort; yes, Senator.

IS ADMINISTRATION WITHDRAWAL POLICY IRREVERSIBLE?

Senator Cooper. Secretary Rogers said in several speeches and statements that the policy of the United States, of this Administration, was irreversible which, I believe means that our forces will be continuously withdrawn. Do you believe that?

Mr. Colby. I think that is our intention, Senator. As I said to Senator Symington, new things might certainly come up in the future, but, as we see things today, it is certainly our intention to reduce our participation in Vietnam. {p.35}

ESTABLISHMENT OF CORDS PROGRAM

Senator Cooper. There has been a pacification of some sort since 1959. When would you say that the present program, the one that you have outlined, came into effect?

Mr. Colby. It has been a gradual thing. Some of it was developed in 1967, some in 1968, and some in 1969, Senator. Each point was added to it as it went along.

Senator Cooper. You described your organization. Was that organization established after the new administration came in or was it established under the preceding administration?

Mr. Colby. It was established in May of 1967, Senator.

EFFECT OF U.S. TROOP WITHDRAWALS ON CORDS PROGRAM

Senator Cooper. Assuming troop withdrawals continue, would you say that the success of your program would be diminished in any way by the withdrawal of the troops? Can it be sustained in the way that you have described it if the troops are withdrawn?

Mr. Colby. Assuming that the troop withdrawals go according to the ideas outlined by our President and by the Secretary in relationship to the three criteria, I think this program should continue, Senator.

I think that a precipitate withdrawal of a large number might set it back, but with a steady reduction of American forces in response to the situation, this program will continue in about its current state.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE ATTITUDE TOWARD ADMINISTRATION’S POLICY

Senator Cooper. We expect to hear members of your group who deal with the Vietnamese people directly. I assume you do and the group here that will be testifying. What is the attitude of the people of South Vietnam toward the overall policy of this Administration and particularly the withdrawal of troops?

Mr. Colby. Public opinion polling in Vietnam is not a very advanced art, Senator. But, nonetheless, when this first came out I think there was a little concern that Americans might be withdrawing precipitously. But there was great reassurance when our President indicated that we would apply the Vietnamization policy in a sober and steady manner. There is also a certain sense of pride and self-reliance that is developing in many of the Vietnamese military units, and among the people there, a feeling that “We can do this ourselves.” I believe that this has been a positive result of our reduction.

INVOLVEMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE PEOPLE

Senator Cooper. The Washington Post, I believe, in Sunday’s issue, had a statement by a Mr. Gerald C. Hickey who, among other observations about Vietnam made this statement. I will quote from the article.

In the struggle between the Saigon Government and the Vietcong, Hickey says, most of the population had not identified with either side. “They have learned through experience that noninvolvement is their best means for survival.”

Is that a correct statement? {p.36}

Mr. Colby. I think that was a correct statement, Senator. I believe that is one of the things that is changing. I think it is one of the most critical things that is changing.

Over the years there is very little doubt that the great mass of Vietnamese people just did not engage on either side.

It is, I must confess, a source of some bafflement to me why the Communists did not apply their Marxism-Leninism a little bit better in trying to engage the people on their side. The only explanation that has come to my mind is that maybe the leadership of the Communist movement there were Mandarins, too.

On the other hand, on the Government’s side over the years there was a similar disdain for full participation by the population. The French Colonial rulers ran the people; authority was centered in the palace. This continued during the authoritarian governments and the military governments. It is really only in the past 2 or 3 years that a new theme has come to bear, that the people do have a participation in the war. The war cannot be won unless the people do participate. This has been brought about by local elections, by the self-defense program, by bringing the local leaders in and assuring them that they have authority over what is happening in their localities, by sharing power with the people. This is a new situation, because the people are responding to this in a considerable degree.

Therefore, I think, Mr. Hickey’s comment that the Vietnamese peasant will not engage is, perhaps, a little out of date in that respect. I think the peasant is beginning to participate in the national effort.

Now, it isn’t all there yet, Senator. There is more to do, but I think a beginning has been made.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE LOCAL ELECTIONS

Senator Cooper. You spoke about recent elections in a number of villages.

Do you have any estimates or any figures or totals of the participation of the South Vietnamese in these village elections?

Mr. Colby. I don’t have numbers for you, Senator.

Senator Cooper. Percentages. Do you have any idea about what the proportions would be?

Mr. Colby. Our newsmen and others went out to see these elections as they took place. They saw them as a general participation by the citizens. There is a fairly high percentage of the people who actually do go to the polls and participate in the votes in those local affairs.

Senator Cooper. How were the elections carried out? Were there any prohibitions against certain groups or individuals voting, or any one faction? Were these local elections dominated by the national administration? What kind of freedom was there in the election of the local officials?

Mr. Colby. Well, there is no question but that an announced Communist was not allowed to be a candidate nor to participate in the voting. The elections were not held in what were called insecure areas. That is why only something less than half of the villages and hamlets had their local elections in 1967, the year when they should have taken place. {p.37}

The expansion of security during 1969 permitted the holding of these elections in additional areas.

This is an automatic elimination of the Communists from participating in it or running it.

However, families with members who are with the Viet Cong do participate in the elections. As I say, the general reaction of our press who looked at these elections, including some good, critical press members, was that they were reasonable elections in that kind of a structure.

Senator Cooper. Are they dominated, ordered, or directed by the national administration?

Mr. Colby. The national administration directed the elections, but the candidates were local candidates, local people from that neighborhood. Candidates were generally local farmers, local leaders, varied people.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE LOCAL SECURITY FORCES

Senator Cooper. Now, I would like to turn to the question of local security. I’m not going into the larger military questions. To what extent have the local security forces been enlarged during the last 2 years?

Mr. Colby. In early 1968, the local security forces, the regional and Popular Forces were in the neighborhood of 300,000 men. Today they are about 475,000 men. So that is about 150,000 or 175,000 men that have been added.

Senator Cooper. Have you had many defectors from the local security forces?

Mr. Colby. I am sure there are some defections to the enemy’s side, but it is not a major problem. There is a problem of desertion in some of the forces. A man is categorized as a deserter when he has been 15 days AWOL. In our army we do not call him a deserter at that time; he has to be away for 30 days. But desertion is a problem in the forces; primarily in the regular forces, to some extent in the regional forces, and to a very little degree in the popular forces. As they become closer to their localities, the problem becomes less.

Senator Cooper. What about the defectors—

Mr. Colby. In very few cases do these deserters go over to the other side, Senator. These people go home. Sometimes they join another unit, this sort of thing. We are going to stop that shortly because we now have a fingerprint situation so that we can follow a fellow when he quits one unit and tries to join another.

VIETCONG DEFECTORS

Senator Cooper. What about defectors from the Vietcong. Do you. have figures on that?

Mr. Colby. Defectors from the Vietcong?

Senator Cooper. Yes.

Mr. Colby. Yes, Senator, we have a very active program. I expect to testify on that fully later in the week. This program of inviting people to come back to the government’s side has been in progress since 1963, and about 140,000 people since that time have come back. {p.38}

Forty-seven thousand of them came back during 1969. This does not mean that all of these fellows were the world’s greatest fighters on the enemy side. A lot of them were local people who were quite content to join the government’s side when the government’s side came into some of the villages and hamlets that they had been excluded from.

ASSASSINATIONS OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE, 1968 AND 1969

Senator Cooper. Perhaps you have answered this question, but is there a record of the assassinations of local South Vietnamese officials or people for 1969 and 1968?

Mr. Colby. Yes. For 1969 there were a little over 6,000 people who were killed, of those about 1,200 were selective assassinations. There were about 15,000 wounded and about 6,000 abducted, as I recall.

Senator Cooper. Are you including in those figures people killed in the war — in actual fighting — or are you giving those figures as persons killed by the Vietcong in their program of terrorism?

Mr. Colby. These are the results of a terrorism. Senator. These are not people killed or wounded in the course of military action by the enemy or by our side. They do not include those at all.

Senator Case. You asked for 1968, I think.

Senator Cooper. Well, those figures were for 1968 or 1969?

Mr. Colby. Those were 1969, Senator. I have it here for 1968, Senator. The number killed was 6,338. But that is only 11 months of 1968, because the month of February we do not have any figures on.

There were about 15,918 wounded and about 10,000 abducted during 1968.

Senator Cooper. What were the figures for 1969?

Mr. Colby. Killed, 6,086; wounded, 15,052; and abducted, 6,095. That is the entire 12 months; that is the whole year.

Senator Cooper. I will pass on quickly.

Senator Case. Would the Senator yield for just one question on that point? Do you have a figure for 1968 comparable to the 1,200 killed in 1969 in selective assassinations?

Mr. Colby. I do not have that, Senator.

Senator Case. Do you have any figure at all?

Mr. Colby. I would have to get one.

Senator Case. Would you get one?

Mr. Colby. I will try to get one and present it for the record.

(The information referred to appears on p.30.)

Senator Cooper. You would say these casualties are the result of a planned program of terrorism by the Viet Cong?

Mr. Colby. They come from all sorts of things, Senator. They come from a mortaring of a refugee camp; they come from an explosion in the marketplace. I stood in a schoolhouse about 3 weeks ago not far from Danang. A couple of Marines had come over to this schoolhouse and were handing out some candy to the kids, when a couple of people threw a couple of grenades into the schoolhouse. Five of the children were killed. Luckily one of the grenades, which fell in a schoolroom where there were 20 children, didn’t go off. That is the kind of thing that these figures come from. {p.39}

RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES, 1969

Senator Cooper. What about the refugees? How many refugees have been brought back from refugee camps to villages, say, in 1969?

Mr. Colby. During this past year, Senator, about 488,000 people went back to their home villages with some government support. There are others who went back who were not registered or somehow we didn’t get a record of. We estimate them as something in the neighborhood of 100,000.

Senator Cooper. What is the population in the refugee camps, say, as of 1969 as compared to the beginning of 1969? Do you have some figures?

Mr. Colby. The population of the camps at the end of 1969 was about 150,000. At the beginning of 1969 there were 699,645. That is in the camps.

EFFECT OF CORDS PROGRAM ON AGRICULTURE

Senator Cooper. Was there any betterment of the agricultural programs in Vietnam under the program that you have been heading up?

Mr. Colby. Mr. MacDonald, our Director of USAID, will testify fully, Senator, but there are several things.

The new rice that was developed in the Philippines was brought over to Vietnam in 1967. They set a goal of planting 44,000 hectares of this particular rice in Vietnam during 1968. Of course, when the Tet attacks came they thought, “I guess we won’t be able to do it.” They actually did it.

They then set a goal of 200,000 hectares for the year 1969. We have estimated that about 240,000 hectares were planted in the year of 1969.

This rice is really quite fantastic; it increases your average yield per hectare from about two tons to about 6 to 8 tons, so that the farmer gets a considerably greater return from it.

The total amount of rice production for the whole country for 1968 was 4,300,000 odd tons. For 1969 they forecast a million-ton rise. They did not reach that goal. They reached only 5,094,000, which is very close and very good.

In rice production, the main crop of the nation, they are looking forward to actually being self-sufficient by the end of this year or next year.

During the war years rice has been imported in Vietnam.

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS IN VIETNAM

Senator Cooper. I will not take more time from my colleagues, but would you place in the record a statement showing what has been done in all of these fields: agriculture, building, construction of roads, building of schoolhouses, enrollment of schoolchildren, the number of villages which have held political elections, and facts like that?

Mr. Colby. We will, indeed, Senator, both in my own testimony and some of the papers that I hope, with the chairman’s permission, to incorporate in the record. And also Mr. MacDonald, when he comes, will testify fully on those programs for which he is responsible. {p.40}

 

Senator Cooper. From your experience in Vietnam over many years, do you say now, do you believe that in the last 2 or 3 years there has been a marked betterment of the people, opportunity in agriculture, in the social field, than there was before? Is that your belief?

Mr. Colby. I think I can testify that the normal farmer lives a lot better than he did.

Now, there are very serious economic problems in Vietnam which stem from the degree of American presence there, the large amount of money that we brought in, the large efforts that we are undertaking there. This is creating an inflationary problem and danger of some magnitude.

Steps are being taken to control this. I think the normal citizen is better off than he used to be in the years 1965-66 by a considerable degree.

Senator Cooper. You were going to give figures which, in your view would provide a favorable description of the progress of the program.

IMPACT OF WAR ON SOUTH VIETNAMESE CIVILIAN POPULATION

Would you also supply to the committee, if the information is available: One, the number of refugees generated because of the war.

Mr. Colby. During the past year about 114,000, Senator, have been generated.

Senator Cooper. Two, civilians killed and wounded. I do not mean from acts of terrorism, but because of the war.

Mr. Colby. Yes, civilian war casualties; yes, sir.

(The information referred to follows:)

______________________

Statistics are not available which would permit an estimate to be made of civilian casualties in Viet-Nam caused by US/ARVN/FWMAF/VC/NVA in the course of military operations.

______________________

Senator Cooper. The number of orphans, homes destroyed, and the cropland taken out of cultivation.

I think you would have to agree that the impact of the war in its total sense has been adverse to the civilian population.

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir; certainly.

Senator Cooper. Would you say the attitude of the civilians is that they would just like to see the war ended?

Mr. Colby. A substantial portion of the population in Vietnam would like peace without any further definition. There is no question about that.

There is a substantial portion of the population which would like peace with security, and there is a very small portion of the population which would like Communist control and Communist peace.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE DEVELOPMENT AFTER U.S. TROOP WITHDRAWAL

Senator Cooper. Could you answer this question? Assuming that the United States does withdraw its combat troops within 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, do you believe that the impetus which your program and other programs have given to the development or reconstruction of South Vietnam would be sustained — could be sustained — by the people of Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. I think that you are in the course of seeing a nation develop another basis for its existence that it had before. {p.41}

The decentralization of authority to the local authorities and the gradual building of a national political base in the local communities will be matched this year by an effort to develop provincial communities. They are having some elections later this year for the provincial councils, and the provincial councils will be given some authority so that these become attractive jobs. The government is trying to make this a meaningful level of government structure. I think that building the country from the bottom up can develop a totally new popular approach toward their responsibilities, toward their participation in the life of their nation in the future.

U.S. POSTWAR ASSISTANCE

Senator Cooper. Do you know whether any planning is being done about U.S. assistance on postwar relief or resettlement problems?

Mr. Colby. There has been some thinking done about that; yes, Senator. There have been some general studies made, projecting on into the future. Of course, there are longer term development plans for Asia that contemplate this kind of thing. I don’t think they are in very formal or fixed form.

Senator Cooper. Are you qualified to speak of those plans or does that come—

Mr. Colby. I really think that is more Mr. MacDonald’s subject to discuss. I have a fairly short focus for my program, Senator.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE JUDICIAL PROCEDURES FOR VC PRISONERS

Senator Cooper. I have one other question now. I have a number, but I think I will submit them to be answered for the record so that my colleagues may question the witnesses.

There has been a great deal of comment in the newspapers about the arrest and confinement of political leaders. Perhaps this might be a subject for another day in these hearings, but is there any kind of judicial process — and I am not talking about our judicial process — but a judicial process for the Vietcong adherents who are captured or arrested; or are they summarily confined?

Mr. Colby. There are several different procedures here, Senator. If the Vietcong is captured with a gun in hand, as a member of a military unit, he is considered as a prisoner of war, and is held as a prisoner of war.

There are a number of South Vietnamese who have been captured, and there are a number of North Vietnamese who have been captured who are held as prisoners of war.

If a Vietcong is captured he can be tried under normal judicial procedures. There is a military court for crimes against the state. They hold hearings, they investigate witnesses, and so forth. It is not our legal system; it is a different style of legal system, as you know. It stems from the civil code more than from ours. There is a third possible legal action — administrative detention. The Government can detain them under emergency powers which are somewhat similar to those of other countries during an insurrection. There are a substantial number of people detained under this program.

The Government is in the course of improving some of these procedures which have not been totally satisfactory in the past. {p.42}

Senator Cooper. I am sure you will say more about that later.

Mr. Colby. There is more to do on that, too, Senator.

Senator Cooper. I think that is all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

U.S. PROCEDURES CONCERNING PRISONERS

The Chairman. Would you allow me to inquire concerning that last question whether the Americans turn over their prisoners to the Vietnamese for disposition or do the Americans themselves try these prisoners?

Mr. Colby. The American forces turn over the prisoner of war for detention by the Vietnamese. We have advisers who watch to see what has happened, to make sure—

The Chairman. What does the Phoenix program do with their prisoners? Do they turn them over to the Vietnamese?

Mr. Colby. Americans do not capture people under that program, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Oh.

The Senator from Wyoming.

COMMENDATION OF THE WITNESS

Senator McGee. want to commend the Ambassador for his forthright testimony this morning.

Did I hear you say, in response to Senator Symington’s question, that you have been in Vietnam since 1959?

Mr. Colby. I have been associated with the country since 1959.

Senator McGee. But in various capacities?

Mr. Colby. I was here for about 6 years during that period.

Senator McGee. It seems to me that the very nature of your assignments has endowed you with a little bit of the sense of continuity about where we have come from in this very tortuous participation in Vietnam. From the testimony that you have submitted, you seem to have acquired a real sense of perspective about it too. You have a tendency to relate to what happened yesterday, not just what is happening today. I think this has enriched your testimony on other occasions when I have had the opportunity to examine you.

UNIQUENESS OF SITUATION IN VIETNAM

I wanted to pursue a line of questioning here in regard to the uniqueness of the situation in Vietnam, the elements of difference there that would seem to legitimatize that phrase. It is, indeed, a unique setting. Was there a Vietnam before the French?

Mr. Colby. There has been a Vietnam for well over 2,000 years, Senator.

Senator McGee. Vietnam has also been separated into different pieces during separate portions of those two millenniums. They have had their civil wars; they have had their foreign occupations. Would a nationalistic concept of a Vietnam be definable from the history, such as you might associate with France, Britain or, in a very young sense, our own country? {p.43}

Mr. Colby. I would say less nationalist than ethnic. There is a very strong ethnic sense among the Vietnamese. They are very proud of their Vietnamese identity. They have a very strong sense of it.

They also have a nation in that sense, but nation as a political state is a later experience.

Senator McGee. You differentiate between the ethnic sense and, let us say, the political sense?

Mr. Colby. Yes; yes.

Senator McGee. Does this factor in itself complicate in any way the problems of witnessing an emerging independence?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think it makes it essential that the entire effort be a Vietnamese effort. The Communists, of course, for years have attacked the government as a puppet government, and the government, in contrast, for a number of years, has insisted upon its own status as a Vietnamese National Government, a national movement.

There are a number of Vietnamese in high places, as ministers of government actually, who were participants in the Viet Minh revolt against the French. This Viet Minh revolt went through some of the sad experience of the Spanish Republican effort where the Communists gradually took it over and ate it up; and this is what happened to a great extent in North Vietnam.

Senator McGee. Would it be fair to say if there was any unifying, if this is the right word, political consciousness at all, it might have been anti-French at the time of the colonial break?

Mr. Colby. Very much so. This was a very popular program at that time.

Senator McGee. Once the French were out, was that binding factor strong enough to hold these various groups together?

Mr. Colby. Well, even before the French left, Senator, the Communists managed to turn in the names of a few of the prominent non-Communist nationalist leaders to be arrested and killed by the colonial government. There are a number of persons well-known in Vietnamese history to whom this has happened.

Second, the Communists immediately upon the departure of the French began to call the new Government a puppet of the Americans, as distinct from the French. The phrase during the Diem period was the My Diem government, the American Diem government. They always used that phrase, and they always today try to portray the Government as nothing but a puppet of the United States.

So, it becomes very important to the entire effort for the Government to stand on its own and to make its own decisions, and for us, correspondingly, to take an advisory position, but not a command position. That is a tricky job sometimes.

1954 DIVISION OF VIETNAM

Senator McGee. At the time two Vietnams became a diplomatic or political fact of life as a result of the Geneva Conferences of 1954, did that division in any way reflect the differences that were emerging after the French left, or was an arbitrary division imposed?

Mr. Colby. This was a division of the country. It happens to be very close to a previous division of the country between two royal houses which were fighting for control during a period of Vietnamese history. But the difference was very much a political difference which {p.44} arose in the 1954 period. It was best exemplified, of course, by the movement of some 900,000 people from North Vietman {sic: Vietnam} down to South Vietnam. Most of those were Catholics. Many of them were simple farm people, who now live in village communities in South Vietnam. But a substantial number of them were also people who had been educated under the French regime in French-led schools.

Part of the problem of finding a national soul, if you will, was the impact of the French on the society for 100 years. They took the elite and trained them away from their own philosophical bases. This has created a problem that they are still suffering with, they are still wrestling with.

I think they are in the course of discovering again this national consciousness through this program of reaching out to their own village bases to establish a true South Vietnamese base for their political future.

Senator McGee. Didn’t the Geneva agreements permit that to be a two-way street? Wasn’t the option open for those in the south to go north if they so chose?

Mr. Colby. It was, and about 70,000 — the figure is a little open — about 70,000 to 80,000 people went north. It is our information that most of those who went north were male members of the Viet Minh military units.

We do know a number of them went up north, remained in military units, were trained for reinsertion back into South Vietnam, and actually did that during the late 1950’s, starting in about 1957. They began to infiltrate back to establish the guerrilla bases, networks, and so forth.

Senator McGee. Would the direction of the flow both ways and the dimensions of the flow reflect in any kind of direct ratio the acuteness of the differences with the French?

Mr. Colby. That was why I compared it with the Spanish situation. The movement south included almost all the non-Communist members of the Viet Minh who looked ahead to a future under Communist control of North Vietnam as being hopeless. That is why there are a number of ex-Viet Minh who are now in positions of importance in South Vietnam.

They are still nationalists; they still wish to support their own country, but they realized they could not do it under a Communist regime.

Senator McGee. This would suggest at least some measure of the quest for political definition of two Vietnams, as we know it at the present time. Would that not be correct, generally speaking?

Mr. Colby. There is a regionalism to Vietnam, but it actually divides into three, rather than two parts. Those who live in the southern portion of Vietnam, in central Vietnam and in North Vietnam have very strong regional differences — different accents, different customs, and so forth.

RIVALRIES DURING POST-COLONIAL PERIOD

Senator McGee. How sharp were the rivalries in this formative, post-colonial period among the traditional military types who, as I understand it, had had their own areas? {p.45}

Mr. Colby. The immediate post-1954 situation was a period of war-lords, entirely separate states almost, in different portions of South Vietnam.

Senator McGee. This was not unique to South Vietnam, necessarily?

Mr. Colby. No, it happened to other countries, too. The then government, the Diem government, in its first two years actually did quite a fantastic job of pulling the country together and making one national state out of it.

There was only one major failing that it had at that time. That was a refusal to build a real political base in the people. They were accustomed to using power and buying power rather than sharing power. This proved later to be one of their great Achilles’ heels.

Senator McGee. Their own experience and their own history traditionally had been along that line anyway, had it not? The French didn’t help it.

Mr. Colby. Yes. The country had been run on Mandarinal principles for many years, of course, under the various emperors and under the French. It was not a great change.

Senator McGee. At the very least, then, it would seem to me from what you have said, any new independent undertaking would be a very delicate, fragile and tender operation.

Mr. Colby. Except that it is not totally an imposed change. There are other changes going on that are similar to what is happening elsewhere in the world.

The transistor radio, the TV, the Honda, the public press, the magazines, the education of the children, are all creating a changed society. The political structure must change to reflect this very real change that is occurring.

COMPARISON OF GUERRILLA WARS

Senator McGee. In connection with an earlier line of questioning, drawing parallels between South Vietnam and the guerrilla activities in Yugoslavia and in France at another time, would the fact that, particularly in the case of France, there was a long-running tradition of governmental institutions, experience, and participation alter the parallel in any significant way?

Mr. Colby. The resistance effort was a national effort against a foreign enemy. The Petain government had been pretty well discredited by the time the resistance really became active. There was very little appreciation of that.

In Yugoslavia you had a fairly energetic and vigorous leadership of a national movement against a foreign invader, the Germans, with no pretention of imposing anything other than complete serfdom in the future.

I think the problem in Vietnam is different. While the Communists may claim to be the heirs of the national revolution, there are people with equally good credentials on the government’s side who can assert the cause of nationalism and of a change to a modern society as well. This makes it by no means as clear cut as it was in the European situation.

Senator McGee. Isn’t that a critically important point in our attempt—

Mr. Colby. It is a big difference. {p.46}

Senator McGee (continuing). —to be realistic about the Vietnam question?

Mr. Colby. It is a big difference between Vietnam and the other ones. This is a group of people who really do want to have an independent Vietnam.

One of the things that they have been encouraged by is our own assurance that Vietnam will be independent, not an American colony.

They do not want to see the troops move away too fast, of course, but, on the other hand, they do look forward to the troops leaving. This is a big difference from previous situations.

The Communists, of course, are endeavoring to picture it as the same situation, claiming that the Americans are just Frenchmen in new clothes. It is up to us, I believe, to really show there is a difference.

Senator McGee. Would it be fair to say that the Vietnamese in their own expressions have at least exhibited their belief that it makes a difference?

Mr. Colby. Yes. In general, I think the reaction in the countryside, among the population, to some of the programs of this government in the past year or two, and even to some extent before that, is real pride in having a little blue patch of the self-defense force on one’s sleeve. This is quite a feeling of exhilaration when that old M-1 carbine is handed to the fellow to keep in his house. Just to take it home and keep it there with the ammunition, gives him a lot of power. It shows he is trusted by his government; it is really his government that is doing it.

VULNERABILITY OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE TO GUERRILLA TECHNIQUE

Senator McGee. The burden of my next inquiry derives from the guerrilla technique itself, its impact on any new governing endeavor in an independency.

Does the lack of experience, deep traditions or national identity make the South Vietnamese more vulnerable to the guerrilla technique than otherwise might be the case;

Mr. Colby. In two respects, I think, Senator. First there are the 10,500-odd hamlets in the country.

Now, any one of those hamlets can be attacked any night. Therefore, you have to have a unit in each one of those hamlets every night ready to fend off an attack. If you have an effective government, one which is very efficient, you can perhaps do that from a central place. If you have a weak government that is just struggling to assert itself and get itself going, it is hard for it to react, to employ the additional fire support, to send some help, and to get the communications and so forth to work that well. So that the guerrilla has a very substantial advantage. Out of those 10,000 targets he can say, “Well, I will attack these three tonight and another three tomorrow night and another three the following night.” It is his option, and the only defense is to build up the defense of all of those hamlets, to develop a local self-defense force and information services that tell you what is going on.

I think the second sense in which it is difficult is that when a country has not developed a strong national identity, someone who comes around singing a song of a slightly different national identity can attract the people to his cause. He can recruit the guerrilla or the terrorists more easily. {p.47}

It is certainly true that a lot of the guerrillas and a lot of the members of the enemy forces have shown great dedication and great commitment. There is no question about it. Some of these are doing-it in order to prevent the American colonialists from taking over the country.

As long as your situation is a little ambiguous and it is not clear that you are 100 percent nationalist, it is easier to recruit people to participate in that kind of a program.

IMMEDIATE GOAL OF GUERRILLA

Senator McGee. What is the immediate goal of the guerrilla? Is it to destroy or bring down a regime to move in and set up a new regime.

Mr. Colby. No, the role of the guerrilla is to erode the presence of the government in the countryside.

Senator McGee. It is to seize the total initiative to the guerrilla. Where and what time to attack are his to choose?

Mr. Colby. He can make his attack where he wishes to.

MANPOWER REQUIREMENTS OF GUERRILLAS AND SAIGON GOVERNMENT

Senator McGee. Does this have any relevance to the amount of manpower required in both circumstances?

Mr. Colby. The degree to which the government can recruit the people into self-defense programs and the degree of success of the program of inviting the guerrilla to return to the national cause by giving him good treatment have great relevance. This becomes a manpower problem for the enemy, it becomes a question of “Well, I don’t really have the forces to attack more than one hamlet a night and I don’t have enough to gather together a company strength, only a couple of platoons.” This has happened, especially in the Delta, about which Mr. Vann will tell you tomorrow. They have had a very serious problem of maintaining their forces and, as a result, they are beginning to send some North Vietnamese down to participate in that guerrilla role. This is a very difficult role for an outsider to fill.

Senator McGee. What about the manpower requirements of the Saigon government to cope with the guerrilla tactic? Would they be in any measurable proportion that you could describe for us? I remember in the days of the Malaysian difficulties there used to be talk of about 11 or 12 to 1. Is there any relevant comparison that you could make about our experience in Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. I don’t think I have any sharp rules of thumb in that sense. I think you have to have enough regular forces to meet the enemy regular forces. You have to have enough local defense forces to meet the enemy guerrilla forces, and you have to have enough popular support and popular participation to eliminate the enemy’s subversive terrorist and guerrilla effort. You have to have different levels of participation on the government side just as the enemy has the different styles of operations that he runs, the terrorist or the guerrilla or the main force unit. The government has to have a mix of the three to participate.

Now, they currently have, as I say, about almost 500,000 territorial forces whose major function is to stop the guerrilla. They have 400,000 armed people’s self-defense supported by another million or so (The {p.48} figures are very fuzzy on the total membership of the self-defense forces, but a large number of people are certainly involved). They support this effort for security in the hamlets and they participate in the identification of the enemy apparatus in the hamlets. You also need a regular army to face the North Vietnamese units that come down. What is being tried today is to develop this proper mix of forces to meet the kind of threat it presents.

I don’t have any neat formula on that, Senator, I am sorry.

Senator McGee. Would it be fair enough as a generalization to say it is greatly disproportionate?

Mr. Colby. In total numbers.

Senator McGee. It takes a great many more men to run the establishment that is trying to stay there and build, than it does to knock it apart by hit-and-run attack.

Mr. Colby. Right.

Well, in the defense of those 10,000 hamlets, each one requires a platoon or so, a platoon or a company.

Senator McGee. Those platoons are not available to be moved north or south?

Mr. Colby. They are tied up doing that. They can’t be used to fight a platoon or company.

The Government has in its program this coming year the strengthening of special self-defense units, which could be called tougher, harder units. This will include additional training to teach them to use their arms and so forth. These special units will replace a few of the Popular Forces; these in turn will replace some Regional Forces; these in turn can replace regular forces. For instance, in a large number of provinces, the President wants to get into a situation where there are no more regular forces, but the whole security problem is handled by these territorial forces, so that his regular forces can go over to the border and replace the Americans who are going to leave.

UNIQUENESS OF VIETNAM WAR

Senator McGee. Would it be fair to say that this comes now as one of the lessons that we learned along the way? Our concept predominantly was contending for the deployment of regular forces in the old military context.

Mr. Colby. Very much so, Senator. In 1960-61, the problem was to increase the Vietnamese army from, I believe, 150,000 to 200,000. The local forces at that time were a total of around 100,000 only. Now when you are thinking in terms of the self-defense plus the local forces you are talking of almost a million armed men supporting a regular establishment of about a half million. So you have got a very much different proportion.

Senator McGee. All of that endeavor might have worked if the other side had played fair.

Mr. Colby. You have got to assume he isn’t going to play fair. That is what I was trying to get at when talking with the chairman, that the enemy did develop a new technique of war here, to use—

Senator McGee. That is what is unique about this situation? {p.49}

Mr. Colby. To use different levels in order to go around—

Senator McGee. We are imprisoned a bit by our experience in Korea. We had a penchant to practice our next test of crisis by the last one and that was embarrassing.

Mr. Colby. I am afraid that is a burden that peaceful people have to take, Senator. When the democratic powers entered World War I they entered with cavalry and plumed helmets and sabres. They had to learn about dirty gray uniforms and machine guns and things like that during the war.

In World War II we had to learn during the war about blitzkrieg and close air support and even strategic bombing. The Germans had developed all these before the war started, and they did very well for a while.

To return to Vietnam again, the enemy did develop a new technique, which he was quite successful with for quite a few years. I think the burden of my story is that I think we have learned some of these lessons, not all of them. We haven’t applied them all yet either. We are in the course of applying them, but I think we will be able to apply them and meet this new challenge that the enemy has developed for us.

Senator McGee. That becomes really the guts of pacification?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator McGee. That is what we are talking about in a pacification program?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator McGee. It is an attempt to fill this gap, which is the change and the unique attribute of the war in Vietnam in contrast to the conventional experiences of the past?

Mr. Colby. That is right. It all must be founded on an actively participating people. That is the real key to it. These people must be supported and assisted by a variety of forces and a variety of programs. These must all be integrated into one overall national effort or national planning. The key to it is the active involvement and participation of the people.

COMPARATIVE COSTS OF WAR TO GUERRILLAS AND GOVERNMENT

Senator McGee. In terms of resources and the availability of resources, is it possible to keep a guerrilla tactical group in the field at far lower cost than to try to preserve order from the establishment’s point of view?

Mr. Colby. Well, I couldn’t give you an absolutely clear answer on that, Senator. It is obviously cheaper to maintain that single guerrilla unit, which can attack any one of 10 or 15 hamlets than it is to provide the security in all those 10 or 15 hamlets. But by a real national effort you can provide the security for most of those hamlets on an unpaid basis by providing the weapons to the people who live in them, training them to take care of their own defense in great part, and then reinforcing them by a mobile reaction force which can come to their help if they get into more trouble than they can handle. In that way you can work out a way in which you don’t have to put your entire national effort into defense expenditures but can do a few things other than just defending yourself. {p.50}

 

This, I think, is more a matter of sustaining a security situation than achieving it.

Achieving security will require considerable investment initially. But once achieved it can be sustained by these other ways.

TURNING POINT OF U.S. PARTICIPATION IN VIETNAM WAR

Senator McGee. It turns out in hindsight that we arrived at a very wise decision.

I remember one of the trips I made over there in about 1966. We had some of our Marine units out in Da Nang with General Walt who were doing a really impressive job with pacification. They were undertaking it on their own initiative, and it was extremely effective.

The judgment about which we raised questions at the time was whether this could last? Did we have the kind of manpower that ought to be doing that sort of thing or whether the Vietnamese should be doing it, allowing us in that transitional process to assume the more conventional burdens of security.

Would that be a fair turning point year or did it come a little later than that?

Mr. Colby. I think 1966-1967 is about when we really began to work on the business of developing local security in the Vietnamese side. The American effort became one of training and assisting them to do this job, not merely doing the big force war alone.

EFFECT OF TET OFFENSIVE ON PACIFICATION EFFORT

Senator McGee. Did your task become any easier or any more difficult after Tet?

Mr. Colby. Of 1968?

Senator McGee. February, 1968.

Mr. Colby. Well, of course, I arrived after Tet so I don’t have that in mind.

Senator McGee. You succeeded Robert Komer?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

I think obviously there were several very difficult months there in which there was a tendency on the part of many of the forces to huddle in around the towns, and be very defensive.

But I think as you look back on it, the Tet attacks did generate a considerable national effort, a national will, a national resolution to have done with that sort of nonsense, and to participate in the program.

I think it also galvanized the Government to develop some newer programs. It was not a government which was all that old, so I am not saying that they had been sitting doing nothing. They had only been inaugurated in the fall of 1967. But they did launch a number of new programs, general mobilization, self-defense, the Phung Hoang or Phoenix program and some others. As you look back on Tet you see that, despite the real disaster, in a psychological sense it did have a certain impact on the national effort, the national will.

EFFECT OF TERRORISM ON PACIFIED RURAL AREAS

Senator McGee. The task of holding a remote rural area together, a pacified area as you might call it in some circumstances, multiplies {p.51} as the incidence of assassination increases. As that incidence goes down it decreases. Would that be a fair—

Mr. Colby. It is a tricky figure, Senator, because if the enemy has full control of the area then you don’t have much terrorism. In essence they would be running the place so there would be no need to sneak in and throw a bomb and so forth.

On the other hand, generally, as you get better security, the terrorism and so forth will reduce, but, like most of our statistics out there, it is not an absolute.

IMPATIENCE OVER PROGRESS ON VIETNAM QUESTIONED

Senator McGee. I mentioned this before, and it seems rather relevant here. At one time I crossed a river up north at Da Nang on a raft because the local bridge was lying in the water. It had been blown up earlier that week. The young fellow who was pushing us across made the point that there was the real illustration of the problem in South Vietnam. He said it took somebody a half hour or an hour to train a man to blow up a bridge, but it took us two, three or four years to educate a man to build a bridge. Doesn’t this frame rather sharply the contrast between the guerrillas’ opportunities and the government’s responsibilities?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

It obviously takes a considerable greater investment of time and energy to produce a decent society than it does to tear it down.

Senator McGee. That is why it seems to me we are often very guilty of being unwisely impatient about the course of events in Vietnam. I personally think that the headway is measurable. It is painfully slow and we wish it would go as fast as we might be able to do it here with our own kind or as fast as it went in France once it was under way

I think the circumstances and the history and almost the contradictions of events give us no other choice than to expect a much slower evolution of this new process that seems to be genuinely underway in very large sections at least of South Vietnam. I am one of those who applauds those of you who have to sit through all of our bombast from time to time and our impatience and wondering why you didn’t do it last Tuesday instead of a year from Tuesday.

Mr. Colby. Sometimes, Senator, we wonder why we didn’t think of it last Tuesday, too.

Senator McGee. It is a thankless responsibility that you have. I think it is one that has some lasting, sustaining qualities to it that will be there long after a lot of the other jazzy things that Mr. Cronkite or anyone else runs on the 6:00 o’clock news. It doesn’t get very much play, but I think this is the real muscle and sustaining fiber of any new social, economic or political grouping. That is why it is so urgent and so important.

Mr. Chairman, that is all the time I want to take for questions.

I do think it ought to give us all pause as members of the Senate in trying to pin timetables on either you, Mr. Colby, or the President or the Saigon Government or anyone else. Surely we have learned 20 times over that in that part of the world the convenience of a Republican and Democratic calendar doesn’t carry any weight. {p.52}

Mr. Colby. I think my timetable, Senator, is to do it as fast as it can be done.

Senator McGee. I think our concern rightfully is one of making sure there is no reckless or needless lagging, just because people might become tired or a little frustrated. It has to be pressed with all responsible haste.

Mr. Colby. Eight.

Senator McGee. I would not think beyond the tempo of responsibility.

COMMENDATION OF THE WITNESSES

I want to commend you and those who work with you for what I think is a real selfless undertaking in this enterprise.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Thank you, Senator.

I hope that nothing has been said by me which would in any way criticize the job that the director of this program is doing. He is, if I understood him correctly, following orders. He didn’t make the policy, nor did he originate the idea of going into Vietnam. He formerly, as he testified to the Senator from Missouri, was an agent with the CIA. Is that correct?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. I assume he is now under the orders of the present Administration, as he was of the previous one.

Mr. Colby. I am a member of the Department of State now, Mr. Chairman. And my immediate superior is General Abrams.

The Chairman. I certainly commend the Ambassador because I think he has an extremely difficult job. I would commend him and all his associates.

OBJECT OF PACIFICATION PROGRAM

It is such a difficult job that I am prompted again by the Senator from Wyoming’s remarks to ask a question which is perhaps very unnecessary to others but still bothers me. I think you said, and it has been said before, that this is an interesting experiment in nation-building. You are building a new kind of nation in South Vietnam and that is the object of the pacification program. Is that an unfair or accurate statement?

Mr. Colby. It is a contribution to the building of a nation now, Mr. Chairman. It doesn’t do it all by itself.

The Chairman. Yes, granted that. I didn’t mean to imply you were doing it all by yourself or that your organization was. But it bears the major part of the financial cost, technical direction and knowledge. You are building a new nation, different from that which was historically there, with different ideas about how it should be run, if I understand it correctly. You are not recreating a feudal system that was characteristic, as you mentioned, in the ancient days of either Annam or Cochin China.

As I understood what you said before, the present South Vietnam includes most of old Vietnam other than Tonkin. Is that correct?

Mr. Colby. Mostly, yes.

The Chairman. The two southern provinces?

Mr. Colby. Yes. {p.53}

QUESTION IS ONE OF U.S. PRIORITIES

The Chairman. The question keeps coming back to me. Granted that you are doing an effective job and accepting your testimony, it would appear to be quite effective, the question still returns as it does when I see the magnificent things we have done in space. It comes back to the question that recurs on the floor of the Senate: Fine, it was successful, but is it as necessary and essential to the security and safety of the country as pacifying the internal dissension in this country that results in riots, civil disturbances, in some cases the virtual breakdown of our judicial system, as recently exhibited in some of our big cities or the necessity for building schools to educate our populace, the necessity for clean air to breathe and clear water? This comes back to the same continually recurring question.

Granted it is an interesting experiment to go abroad, to take the remnants of a feudal colonial community and to build a nice, shining democratic community. It is an interesting thing to do, as I am sure it was to Mr. Teller when he solved the problem of hydrogen explosion. That is fascinating to a physicist.

I have to raise the question again, not for you, because you are not the policy maker, but really for the Senate and the Committee and the country. Is this of the highest priority that we must defer doing all of the things that we continually admit should be done and need to be done in the United States now in order to cure what I call the very serious social and political afflictions of our own communities. It all comes back to that question.

I am not at all sure it is a proper question to ask you because you are doing the job you are asked to do. If I drifted into that question a moment ago, I will say I probably was improper in doing it simply because of my constant pre-occupation with this problem for four or five years. I think perhaps it is wrong to ask you to make a judgment on that question because you are not a policy maker. You are doing the best job you can do. Everyone says, given your assignment, you are doing as good a job as one could possibly expect. I have heard no criticism of the way you discharge your responsibilities. So I don’t want to pursue it.

I was trying to make my own position clear. There is no need of my pressing you to make a decision upon a highest policy, which is the matter of what kind of a country does this country want to be. Do we think it is most important to use our major efforts to create or help create a new society in an Asian country. I often think when I see people like you with obvious talents, energy and intelligence, how much we could benefit by having some of your talents applied to the problems here at home, in my State or in Chicago, Watts or Harlem. There are lots of places where we have a use for your talents.

That is the question and I don’t think I will ask you to answer it. I was really only trying to state my own position correctly.

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES OF U.S. BOMBING, ARTILLERY AND GUN SHIPS

Certain questions of fact that need to be explored occur to me. You have given the numbers of victims of Vietcong terrorism. Could you give the number of civilians who have been killed by American bombing, artillery and gun ships? Do you have such figures? {p.54}

Mr. Colby. I don’t think I have them right here. I do have them available and can get them.

The Chairman. Were those figures kept by anyone during the past several years?

Mr. Colby. They were imperfectly kept, I believe. It is a very difficult figure to get.

The Chairman. I think I recall having asked questions before and being told the Pentagon did not keep such figures.

Mr. Colby. They do not have a precise figure. We do have a figure of the civilian casualties admitted to province hospitals. That is the only kind of a figure we have.

The Chairman. Can you supply whatever figures you have available?

Mr. Colby. I certainly will. I don’t have them available here, but we will supply them.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

The number of civilian war casualties admitted to province and military hospitals during the period of Jan. 1967 to Dec. 1969 totals 200,950.

______________________

The Chairman. Have we killed substantial numbers of civilians with bombing, artillery or gun ships?

Mr. Colby. It is not kept in that fashion, Senator. What it shows is the number of admissions of people with war wounds into province hospitals. There is no showing as to just where those wounds came from. It isn’t ascribed to either a Vietcong or a Government bomb.

The Chairman. Are there figures on those who die who don’t appear in the hospital?

Mr. Colby. They probably do not appear.

The Chairman. They just disappear into the—

Mr. Colby. They are buried.

The Chairman. And they disappear. So there really are no figures about that?

SOUTH VIETNAMESE DESIRE FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY AND PEACE

You were speaking of the national cause. Do you think that a searching for a national identity exists as a major motive or is there just a wish for peace in South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. I think there is a very strong desire for nationhood in the South, Mr. Chairman — there is a wish for peace as well — particularly with your leadership elements, and by that I mean the leadership in the villages as well as the others. Each village, you see, has a little temple in it. This is not necessarily a religious temple, it is the temple of the village and there is a very strong community sense in that way.

The Chairman. I realize that the life centered around the village is traditional. Has this grown to a point where they have a feeling of nationhood of all of the villages that now constitute the old Annam and old Cochin China?

Mr. Colby. During the past six months, Senator, most of the village chiefs and most of the hamlet chiefs have attended this course at Vung Tau. At Vung Tau they went through this five-week course during which they studied the program of the government and the effort of the government to form a new country and so forth. During each one of these courses the president came down and spent the afternoon or the evening with them and talked with them. {p.55}

If you go up to that village chief or that hamlet chief in the far north or the far south of the country and ask him about his experience at Vung Tau, he recalls it. He may still be wearing the black pajamas he was issued there.

He may recall the fact that the president spoke to them and what he said to them. So that in that sense I think there is a development of a sense of national identity among these village chiefs and hamlet chiefs, who were elected by the people in their villages and hamlets. They are part of something bigger than themselves.

The Chairman. This is new.

Mr. Colby. This is in the last 6 months. This program has gone on, and I think it has had a substantial effect in these hamlets.

The Chairman. Not only is it new in your activity, it is new in the experience of Vietnam because they didn’t have much of a feeling, as I think you have already testified, of a political nationhood.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. There was some degree of ethnic pride with regard to what I guess you would call their culture. I think that was true to a great extent in China too in some of its periods.

Mr. Colby. Oh, yes, very much so.

The Chairman. They were proud of being Chinese, but didn’t think much of the central government.

Mr. Colby. That is right.

There are a lot of Chinese living elsewhere in Southeast Asia who have a feeling of being Chinese.

The Chairman. I was thinking of the idea that they really have a hankering for a nation in the sense that the nationalists have had in Europe and in other areas during the last 100 years. Nationalism really is a rather modern growth.

Mr. Colby. The Viet Minh movement was a strong movement. It was a desire for an independent Vietnamese nation.

The Chairman. But you had already testified, I thought quite correctly, that this was motivated by their hatred of the French domination.

Mr. Colby. Yes, and a desire to have their own nation, their own Vietnamese nation.

The Chairman. I thought most importantly to get rid of the French, and secondarily — I don’t know about that. That is an academic question that we can’t do anything about now.

SIZE OF VIETCONG INFRASTRUCTURE

You said in the beginning, I believe, the estimated infrastructure of the Vietcong was 70,000. We have a letter from the Army, which I will put in the record. All I am trying to do is clarify this as best I can. It says:

With regard to paragraph 6 of fact sheet, a better perspective of the operation can be gained when consideration is given to the current military intelligence estimate that Vietcong Infrastructure strength approximates 80,000.

Have there been any changes in that? The letter is from William Becker, Major General, Chief of Legislative Liaison of the Department of the Army. {p.56}

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

Department of the Army,
Office of the Secretary of the Army,

Washington, D.C., January 9, 1970.

Hon. J. W. Fulbright,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations,
U.S. Senate.

Dear Mr. Chairman: The Secretary of the Army has asked me to respond to your letter concerning the Phoenix Program.

Attached you will find an unclassified fact sheet, originally prepared at the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which discusses in some detail the essential elements of this Government of Vietnam Program and U.S. assistance to the program.

With regard to paragraph 6 of the fact sheet, a better perspective of the operation can be gained when consideration is given to the current military intelligence estimate that Viet Cong Infrastructure strength approximates 80,000. I trust this information will be helpful.

Sincerely,

William A. Becker,
Major General, GS,
Chief of Legislative Liaison.

Fact Sheet

Subject: Phung Hoang Phoenix Program in Vietnam.
Purpose: To provide information on the above subject for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

1. Phung Hoang is a Government of Vietnam (GVN) Plan with the objective of centralizing and coordinating the efforts of all military and civilian agencies engaged in the neutralization of the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI). Open announcement of the heretofore classified program was made by President Thieu on 1 October 1969. This announcement pointed our to the people that Phung Hoang is a policy aimed at protection of the people against terrorism. For example, during 1968 Viet Cong terrorism wounded some 12,000 and killed 5,400 South Vietnamese; so far during 1969 there have been some 14,000 wounded and 5,500 killed. The VCI is defined as that political organization by which the Viet Cong control or seek to control the people of South Vietnam. A more detailed explanation is at inclosure 1. The basic essence of the program is a fully coordinated intelligence effort of all existing GVN and United States agencies targeted specifically on the VCI with the express purpose of neutralizing its effectiveness and control over the people. The word Phung Hoang is derived from the Vietnamese word meaning coordination.

2. To coordinate and manage United States assistance and support to the GVN Phung Hoang Program, the Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV) has developed an advisory structure known as the Phoenix Program. This advisory and assistance program is under the staff supervision of the Deputy to COMUSMACV for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), Ambassador Colby. There are some 450 United States military advisory personnel involved in the Phoenix Program. Of this number, 262 serve at district and city levels, which are the key operational elements, with the remainder of the personnel serving at the national, regional, and provincial levels.

3. The coordinated intelligence effort against the VCI had its beginning in July 1967 when COMUSMACV established a joint civilian/military advisory activity entitled “Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation (ICEX)” with the specific mission of assisting and supporting the GVN in a coordinated attack on the VCI. Initially this program received little official GVN attention and support. However, in December 1967, recognizing the need for a coordinated intelligence effort against the VCI, the GVN initiated the Phung Hoang Program with the mission of neutralizing the VCI. Accordingly, COMUSMACV changed the name of its advisory activity from ICEX to its current name, Phoenix. With the issuance of a Presidential decree in July 1968, which established formal GVN functions and organizations to implement the Phung Hoang Program, the GVN officially committed itself to the program.

4. To control the overall program and ensure the coordination and cooperation among all elements capable of contributing, the GVN has established a structure of committees from national to province levels. The Chairman of the Central {p.57} Committee is the Minister of Interior; the Vice-Chairman is the Director General of the National Police.

5. It is at the district level that the concerted intelligence effort against the VCI becomes most concentrated. At this level, the GVN have organized District Intelligence and Operating Coordination Centers (DIOCCs). The DIOCC is the facility where representatives of existing units and agencies are brought together for a coordinated effort of intelligence collection, processing, dissemination, and timely, positive exploitation operations specifically targeted against the VCI. The Vietnamese District Chief is the DIOCC Chief; however, he normally delegates responsibility for daily operations of the DIOCC to his deputy or Chief of Police. The District Senior Advisor (usually a United States Army Major) is the District Phoenix Coordinator. Also assigned to the advisory team is an intelligence trained officer who serves as the full time Phoenix advisor to the DIOCC. This officer advises and assists the District Chief, on DIOCC operations primarily in the area of organizational and management techniques and procedures of intelligence collection and files (i.e., Name Index Files, Dossiers, Area Files), first-level analysis and dissemination of intelligence.

6. Ways in which the GVN attempts to neutralize and exploit intelligence on the VCI within the concept of the Phung Hoang Program are, in order of priority, defection, capture and exploitation, and discreditation or compromise. It must be recognized that some VCI are killed unavoidably during the normal course of combative reactive operations; however, the overall percentage is quite low. For example during 1968 when some 15,000 VCI were neutralized, 72 percent were captured, 13 percent defected and only 15 percent were killed. Defection and capture are the preferred methods of neutralization as the individuals often provide highly useful information which leads to additional neutralizations and to locating of arms and supply caches.

7. The Phung Hoang Program has evolved from many regional programs, some initiated as early as 1962. In July 1968 these programs were pulled together into a single, integrated national program which was indorsed by the GVN leadership and given a high priority in the overall pacification effort. Basic organizational and operational techniques are constantly being refined to improve the overall effectiveness of the program.

______________________

Mr. Colby. That is a recent letter?

The Chairman. It is fairly recent. The date is January 9.

Mr. Colby. There has been no recent change. We have been holding it at about 75,000, as I said, Mr. Chairman, but we have very little confidence in that overall figure.

The Chairman. They seem to think it is 80,000. Is it in that neighborhood?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

I think that that figure was around earlier and that we have updated that a bit. I can’t testify as to why he sent that particular letter.

ACTIVITIES OF OPERATION PHOENIX

The Chairman. I have another sheet here. ¶

Did your program or the CIA supervise the organization of Operation Phoenix?

Mr. Colby. In the earliest origins of it, CIA was associated with it. In its earliest stages it preceded my organization.

The Chairman. That was before you—

Mr. Colby. Before the CORDS.

The Chairman. This pamphlet is from the Department of State Media Services of last year and it says as follows:

Nobody knows yet exactly how many VCI are running this shadow government behind the bamboo curtain but in December 1967 when Operation Phoenix was launched it was estimated by intelligence sources that about 80,000 were in VCI jobs. In its first year despite the Communist offensive in February and May 1968 Phoenix resulted in nearly 16,000 of these cadres being rooted out of their underground position. {p.58}

That uses the word “cadres” which has a certain military implication. I thought this program was directed primarily at civilians.

Mr. Colby. I think they mean political cadres, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Political, not military?

Mr. Colby. No.

The infrastructure are the political cadre; the Vietnamese word is “can bo” which is a cadre man, political leader.

The Chairman. I am glad to clear that up because the use of that word in other reports I have seen left the impression it was military whereas as a matter of fact it is civilian.

Mr. Colby. This is the political control structure under the Communist movement.

The Chairman. Is there a quota each year under the Phoenix program?

Mr. Colby. There is a quota system for the national goal. There is a certain amount of this that is subdivided into various other areas.

The Chairman. Could you tell us what the quota was for last year?

Mr. Colby. The quota for last year was 1,800 a month. This can be filed {sic: filled} by individuals who are captured, individuals who rally or individuals who are killed in the course of operations.

THE CHIEU HOI PROGRAM

The Chairman. Are the Chieu Hoi people those you call ralliers?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. Exactly what does rally mean, simply surrender?

Mr. Colby. Returnee is another word, Mr. Chairman. It is a surrender. It is coming to the government side saying “I was on the enemy side. I want to join your side.” I expect to testify a little more fully on that program a little later, Mr. Chairman, but—

The Chairman. Whatever you wish. Do you feel you shouldn’t now?

Mr. Colby. I would be glad to comment.

The Chairman. Most of the material I am using is in published accounts.

Mr. Colby. There is nothing confidential about the Chieu Hoi program, but I do have a more extensive presentation on it later for you. I might just add that this program to invite people to come over from the other side has been going on since 1963.

The Chairman. That is the Chieu Hoi?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

ORIGIN OF THE PHOENIX PROGRAM

The Chairman. As distinguished from the Phoenix?

Mr. Colby. The Phoenix program had a few precursors which were launched by CIA to try to get the different intelligence services there to work together to identify the political apparatus or infrastructure and begin to see who they were. This was formalized in December of 1967, in a decree by the Prime Minister. It was then made more official in June of 1968 by a decree by the President.

This set up the structure of coordination and collation of information about the Vietcong infrastructure. {p.59}

FIGURES ON SIZE OF VCI AND PHOENIX PROGRAM QUOTAS

The Chairman. One curious question arises from these figures. As you mentioned there have been quotas. One article in the Army paper, I think, says the quota in 1968 was 15,000. A story in The Washington Evening Star, cited 19,534 in 1969, making a total of 34,534. Yet the estimated number in the Vietcong infrastructure at present is approximately the same as it was in the beginning.

This leaves a very interesting question. Do they regenerate the Viet Cong infrastructure as fast as you eliminate it?

Mr. Colby. Well, again I prefaced my remarks, Mr. Chairman, by saying that it has been very difficult to get any kind of statistics that are worth anything on the size of the Vietcong infrastructure. We started with some estimates saying, a typical village would have a certain number in its structure and then multiplying that by the number of villages. We then refined it slightly by saying that hamlets of different levels of security would probably have bigger or smaller numbers. During the past year we have gone out and asked for identified VCI. We have made the thrust of it one of local collection of specific information on individuals who are members of the VCI in different areas.

This whole process has improved our figures somewhat, but we are still concerned that some of these numbers have in them people who are really followers rather than leaders, and that the total number, which would include the followers, is a bit higher than it should be.

Now, this is being clarified. The Government has issued several decrees defining very carefully what kind of people are VCI and at what levels and what sentences they can receive depending on their level of importance.

There has been a general improvement of the performance, but, as Mr. Kaiser said in that article you noted we still have quite a way to go, Mr. Chairman. We are working at it.

The Chairman. Are the statistics in this area any more difficult than in the other areas of the war?

Mr. Colby. They are a little worse in this area, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. A little worse?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Some of the other statistics I think are very good, For instance, I mentioned the statistics in the people’s self-defense. I find the membership figures a little soft. On the other hand, I am very confident of the accuracy of the 400,000 weapons which have been distrubuted {sic: distributed} because we have gone around and looked and counted. So some statistics are good and some statistics aren’t so good. We try to use them with that in mind.

INCENTIVES TO FILL PHOENIX PROGRAM QUOTAS

The Chairman. In the quota system of the Phoenix program, are any cash incentives offered to the Vietnamese who operate that program for filling their quota?

Mr. Colby. Not to the Vietnamese who operate it. There are certain rewards offered in public statements that certain individuals are wanted. There have been posters and leaflets put out that a certain man is wanted because he is a member of the infrastructure and par- {p.60} ticipated in a certain terrorist act and that if he is produced or information is produced which will lead to his arrest than a certain reward will be paid.

 

The Chairman. It is like putting a price on Jesse James.

Mr. Colby. Yes, except I would say that the Vietnamese Government has made a considerable effort to indoctrinate all the way down the line that a live captive is better than a dead one, because the live one carries information in his head, which can do you a great deal of good for future efforts. It has, I think, become generally accepted that what we want is either ralliers or captives, and we are really not so anxious to get the others.

INTERROGATION METHODS OF PHOENIX PROGRAM

The Chairman. Do they have effective ways of eliciting information from the captives?

Mr. Colby. Well, I used to be in the intelligence business, Mr. Chairman, and, if you want bad intelligence, use bad interrogation methods. If you want good intelligence, use good intelligence interrogation methods, because you will get bad intelligence if you use the wrong methods. And that again is a message that we put out. We endeavor to train people in proper and useful and sensible methods of interrogation because they are just more productive than others.

TRAINING OF PHOENIX PROGRAM ADVISERS AT FORT HOLABIRD

The Chairman. I don’t remember whether the two men in Holabird — Is Holabird the place where they train people to be advisers and supervisors or whatever they call it?

Mr. Colby. Holabird is a military intelligence school, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Colby. They do train some of the officers who come over and join our Phoenix program as advisers there. All I can say about the allegations of these two gentlemen that you referred to as to what they were trained for is that they were not in Vietnam and we have some rather direct instructions to our people as to their behavior in Vietnam.

Some of our younger officers were somewhat concerned about their role in the Phoenix after the Green Beret case came up and so we sent them an explanation of what their role was. ¶

We clarified very clearly to them that they are under the same rules of war that they would be if they were a member of a regular unit. ¶

If they see anything that does not meet these standards, they are not only not to associate with it, they are to positively protest against it and are to report to us.

The Chairman. That is what you tell them in Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. That is what we tell them in Vietnam, yes, sir.

The Chairman. Does that mean that you question what they allege they were taught at Holabird?

Mr. Colby. I am not qualified to discuss that.

The Chairman. I just want to make it clear. You are not saying that what they said they were taught in Holabird is not true?

Mr. Colby. Yes, I just don’t know that, sir. {p.61}

The Chairman. That is all I wanted for the record, to be clear as to how far your testimony goes because, as you know, there has been a great deal in the press about this matter.

Mr. Colby. Yes, certainly.

The Chairman. I think it is a very proper thing to at least get what you know about it.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

INSTRUCTIONS TO PHOENIX ADVISERS

{pages 60, 61-62: 116kb.pdf, 127kb.pdf}

The Chairman. I think you made a very proper statement with regard to what you tell them. Since this has come up in this fashion, would it be appropriate for you to provide for the record the explanation that you have given in detail to the Phoenix advisers?

Mr. Colby. I would be delighted to do so.

The Chairman. I think it would be a healthy and proper thing to do.

Mr. Colby. We have it right here, I think.

The Chairman. All right.

Mr. Colby. No, we will bring it in.

The Chairman. All right.

You can provide examples of a critical report of U.S. advisers. I think this would be a very useful thing to do for the record.

(The information referred to follows.)

______________________

Instructions to U.S. Personnel Concerning Phoenix Activities

The PHOENIX program is one of advice, support and assistance to the GVN Phung Hoang program, aimed at reducing the influence and effectiveness of the Viet Cong Infrastructure in South Viet-Nam. The Viet Cong Infrastructure is an inherent part of the war effort being waged against the GVN by the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese Allies. The unlawful status of members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure (as defined in the Green Book and in GVN official decrees) is well established in GVN law and is in full accord with the laws of land warfare followed by the United States Army.

Operations against the Viet Cong Infrastructure include the collection of intelligence identifying these members, inducing them to abandon their allegiance to the Viet Cong and rally to the government, capturing or arresting them in order to bring them before Province Security Committees for lawful sentencing, and, as a final resort the use of military or police force against them if no other way of preventing them from carrying on their unlawful activities is possible. Our training emphasizes the desirability of obtaining these target individuals alive and of using intelligent and lawful methods of interrogation to obtain the truth of what they know about other aspects of the Viet Cong Infrastructure. U.S. personnel are under the same legal and moral constraints with respect to operations of a Phoenix character as they are with respect to regular military operations against enemy units in the field. Thus, they are specifically not authorized to engage in assassinations or other violations of the rules of land warfare, but they are entitled to use such reasonable military force, as is necessary to obtain the goals of rallying, capturing, or eliminating the Viet Cong Infrastructure in the Republic of Viet-Nam.

If U.S. personnel come in contact with activities conducted by Vietnamese which do not meet the standards of the rules of land warfare, they are certainly not to participate further in the activity. They are also expected to make their objections to this kind of behavior known to the Vietnamese, conducting them and they are expected to report the circumstances to next higher U.S. authority for decision as to action to be taken with the GVN.

There are individuals who find normal police or even military operations repugnant to them personally, despite the overall legality and morality of these activities. Arrangements exist whereby individuals having this feeling about military affairs can, according to law, receive specialized assignments or even exemptions from military service. There is no similar legislation with respect to police type activities of the U.S. military, but if an individual finds the police {p.62} type activities of the PHOENIX program repugnant to him, on his application, he can be reassigned from the program without prejudice.

______________________

The Chairman. As a matter of fact, I promised the distinguished Senator from New Jersey—

Senator Case. No hurry, Mr. Chairman. You follow along those lines because I have finished with my obligation on the floor.

The Chairman. I am willing to yield.

I don’t wish to exaggerate the significance of this matter. In itself it is not perhaps nearly as dramatic as the Mylai incidents or the Daniel Lang story in the New Yorker or others, but being related to it, it is very healthy and very wise for you or your colleagues to clarify this as far as you possibly can.

CONVICTION AND RELEASE OF VCI

How many of these VCI, identified and apprehended, are actually convicted and how many are released of those who are tried?

Mr. Colby. Our information on that is not all that accurate yet. There is a considerable improvement in the past two or three months in the information on that, but I can’t give you a statistic, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Have you no estimate?

Mr. Colby. But we do know that the province security committees have actually been tightening up on the handling of these people over the past six months.

EFFECT OF REPEATED ARREST AND QUESTIONING ON VILLAGERS

The Chairman. What do you think is the psychological effect upon villagers who are arrested and questioned and then released and then arrested and questioned again about their allegiance? Does this have any effect upon them?

Mr. Colby. I think so. One of the provisions of the pacification plan of the government for 1970 is that the village chief will be informed when any man is arrested within his village, so that he can come up and make representations to the appropriate authorities about that individual if it is a man known in the community for his probity or something else. This just opens it up, to try again to make more of this program public so that people can understand it and participate in it and have greater confidence in it.

PHOENIX PROGRAM QUOTAS: CAPTURED AND KILLED

The Chairman. You say the quota was 1,800 men a month?

Mr. Colby. 1,800 people.

The Chairman. What percentage of that quota was captured and how many were killed?

Mr. Colby. Over the year 1969, the number captured was 8,515, rallied 4,832 and killed 6,187, to a total of 19,534. About 30 percent were killed.

That killed figure also includes a number of people who were discovered to be VCI after they were killed. For instance, various people may be killed in an ambush outside the village at night when some armed men come along and a firefight takes place, or in an attack on {p.63} an enemy guerrilla unit. By looking at the papers that they carried and their identification it can be discovered that those killed were actually members of the VCI. Thus, even though that particular operation was not aimed to get them, it may develop later they were members of the VC infrastructure and they consequently do count against that quota.

PURPOSE OF PHOENIX PROGRAM

The Chairman. Has this program any precedent that you know of in our history? Have we done this before?

Mr. Colby. The identification and arrest of subversives?

The Chairman. No, a program for the assassination of civilian leaders.

Mr. Colby. I question whether that is an appropriate title for it, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. You rephrase it. I was trying to shorten it.

Mr. Colby. I don’t think that is the appropriate title. I think it is an internal security program.

The Chairman. Neutralization is the word. I couldn’t think of it for a moment — neutralization of civilian leaders.

Mr. Colby. No, sir; my title for it and actually the Vietnamese government’s title for this program this year is a program to protect the people against terrorism. Now, I think you could call it an internal security program, one aimed at identifying the members of the enemy infrastructure, to get them either to rally or to capture them. In cases of firefights they do get killed.

The Chairman. What do you call a firefight? I didn’t get the significance of that.

Mr. Colby. A firefight is when two units run into each other out in the country and shoot.

The Chairman. They are military people, aren’t they?

Mr. Colby. Or police.

The Chairman. I wasn’t thinking of them.

Mr. Colby. Or self-defense, Senator. That is what happens in Vietnam. In each of these hamlets in Vietnam at night there is a curfew, and there is a small defense unit outside the hamlet. They lay ambushes to stop enemy guerrilla units from coming into the hamlet. When they see some armed men coming along they shoot at them.

The Chairman. I am familiar with that. I thought that would be classified as part of the military operation. I didn’t know that was considered part of the Phoenix operation.

Mr. Colby. I say that certain of those people who are killed in that kind of an incident are later revealed as members of the enemy infrastructure.

PROCEDURES CONCERNING PHOENIX PROGRAM PRISONERS

The Chairman. Is it your information that those who are captured under the Phoenix program are not executed but put in prison? Are they ever executed?

Mr. Colby. Well, let me say they are not legally executed, no. What is done to them is that they are detained under this emergency {p.64} detention procedure. Now, I would not want to say here that none has ever actually been executed, but certainly the program, the government’s policy and its directives are that these people when captured are placed in detention centers and held for the appropriate period, and the government has taken steps to insure that. But you have not had convictions of membership in the enemy apparatus followed by an execution. That has not happened in the past several years.

The Chairman. In most of the newspaper stories the implication, if not the direct assertion, is that those who are neutralized or taken into custody are usually disposed of physically. Whether you want to use the word executed, assassinated or electrocuted, the implication is that they are killed.

Mr. Colby. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. That is what you read.

Mr. Colby. That is a very unfortunate term. It came from the difficulty of developing a term which would generalize the number captured, rallied and killed. Various terms were tried to explain what the combination of those three meant. I myself have always gone back to using the terms captured, rallied or killed as the only possible way to do it.

The Chairman. Let me finish one thought. This is a Vietnamese program. We only advise them and teach them how. Is that correct?

Mr. Colby. We advise them and support them to some extent.

The Chairman. We support them. We have an adviser with every how many men, 20 men?

Mr. Colby. Oh, no.

We have an adviser, a young officer, who sits in each district office of this organization.

The Chairman. In other words, our statistics are fairly accurate on how many are in a quota, but we do not follow up, I take it, about what is done with them. Is that why there are no statistics on what happens to them?

Mr. Colby. No, we are beginning to follow up on that, Mr. Chairman. We did not follow up in the past to a great degree, but the government wishes to follow it up more closely, and they have begun to share certain of their information with us. However, I don’t have enough of an experience factor here to give you any statistics with any degree of reliability.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, pardon me; I don’t want to interrupt.

Mr. Colby. I just wanted to add one point, if I may. The VCI we are talking about, Mr. Chairman, are members of this enemy apparatus. It is not at all unusual that these people operate in a guerrilla base and participate in guerrilla operations and carry weapons and so forth, and frequently, in the course of those fights that take place as a result, these people are killed.

Now, there is one problem area that Mr. Kaiser mentions in his article which is a real problem that we are worried about. It is that there is too little of the careful casework which identifies an individual and then goes out to capture him. Rather too often the quotas may be met by individuals who are actually caught in an ambush by chance. So that really it wasn’t the result of good intelligence and good police work but rather just by chance.

Excuse me. {p.65}

PHOENIX PROGRAM IS NOT A COUNTER-TERROR OPERATION

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, the reason that I asked that I might intervene momentarily is again because we are after facts; we are not taking positions at all.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. This is not properly then defined in fact as a counter-terror operation?

Mr. Colby. No, it is not, Senator.

Senator Case. You swear to that by everything holy. You have already taken your oath?

Mr. Colby. I have taken my oath. There was a period, Senator, some years ago when an organization was called a counter terror organization.

Senator Case. I am not arguing we shouldn’t have one. I am just trying to find out what this is.

Mr. Colby. That was some time ago. There was an organization formed there which was given the words counter terror. There were a certain amount of fairy stories about what it actually did but it has long ago been discarded as a concept, as any kind of an organization.

Senator Case. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Colby. The organization itself later became what are called the provincial reconnaissance units. These are small units of Vietnamese who work on the infrastructure program. They work under the government, under the province chiefs’ control. They are supported by the United States. We support this like we support a lot of other things. They do operate under the same kinds of rules as to who they are going out to capture and what their rules are as the normal police services.

Senator Case. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN U.S. GOVERNMENT’S POSITION AND REPUTABLE REPORTERS

The Chairman. Mr. Ambassador, this is what puzzles us so much. I have before me an article by Mr. Peter Kann. Are you familiar with him? He is a reporter.

Mr. Colby. I met him.

The Chairman. This is from a staff reporter of the Wall Street Journal, which is generally considered a reasonably conservative newspaper. I mean it isn’t given to flights of fancy.

Mr. Colby. He is a very good reporter, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. It is not given to flights of fancy particularly in social or political affairs. This is less than a year ago. It was last spring and he makes some very positive statements. If it were the only case it wouldn’t disturb me very much. But every time we see the discrepancy between the more reputable newspaper reporters and the government’s position it always reminds us of the early days of the war when the government was denouncing people like Halberstam for being either ignorant or prejudiced. But events proved that he told the truth and the government lied about it. This bothers us. I certainly am not suggesting you are misrepresenting.

Mr. Colby. I remember that article, Mr. Chairman. {p.66}

The Chairman. There were a number of articles.

Mr. Colby. This one—

The Chairman. Is it wrong, in your opinion?—

Mr. Colby. No, I have full confidence Mr. Kann told the right story. That is why I stated that, while the policy of the government is definite, I would not want to testify that nobody was killed wrongly or executed in this kind of a program. I think it has probably happened, unfortunately. But I also point out that Mr. Kaiser in the article in this morning’s paper stated that after a considerable effort to identify cases of abuse of this nature he had been unable to find one. Maybe it is a difference in time. We have put considerable emphasis on trying to tighten this up and make sure that it does follow a disciplined approach. But the fact is that in Vietnam various unfortunate things have happened in the past. The question is what is our policy, and what are we doing to make sure that our policy is followed. And I can assure you our policy is very clear on this and we are going to enforce it

REPORTED INCIDENTS UNDER U.S. POLICIES

The Chairman. Yes. It is the latter question that bothers me. I am not and have never been bothered that the policy is to go out and assassinate civilians or that the policy is to do what happened, or is alleged to have happened, or was apparently proved to have happened in Mylai by Mr. Lang. His article was based upon the official courts-martial. I can’t imagine there is any doubt whatever that that incident took place. That is the thing that bothers us. This is no reflection upon the intentions or purposes of the government officials or their policy. There is a great question that arises under the circumstances in Vietnam with the greatest exertion and the best of will to carry out those policies in a reasonably humane manner, that I think is a serious question. This article which, I think, must be in the record along with the other one bears directly on it. The reason it is so important is that I don’t believe the American people wish to be a party to such inhumanity no matter what the objective, even to build a new society in Vietnam. I don’t believe they would agree that the objective, the end, justifies the means used. I don’t, and I don’t believe they do.

Mr. Colby. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, and I think the officers with me agree with me.

The Chairman. I don’t mean for a minute to suggest that you or anyone else, certainly not you, has declared a policy of the kind of things that have been reported. Yet they keep being reported, and I think this can well have gone beyond our capacity to control. This is a very chaotic situation in Vietnam, I think, and I don’t think the responsibility lies with anyone like yourself or even the soldiers — and I don’t mind saying it here, and I have said before that I personally have the greatest sympathy for Lieutenant Calley who has been charged. I think he was put under conditions and circumstances that were intolerable and it wasn’t his fault that he got there. He got there because he was ordered by his government. If I am to blame anybody, it is the people who do make the policy at the highest levels, not you or for that matter Lt. Calley either. There are certain personal things that perhaps could be used and if that was the only incident I knew about and I thought he was in some way person- {p.67} ally unique in this, it would be a different story. But it has become such common occurrence, at least as reported, that there is something beyond just the individual. That bothers me about it.

I am not really trying to criticize you or say you are not doing a good job or you didn’t give them the right instructions. It just doesn’t turn out that way.

Mr. Colby. Well, I think so, Mr. Chairman. We could say that not only is the policy not to go in this direction but there is considerable effort being made to insure that the policy is followed. There are aberrations which do occur once in a while. There is no question about that. But it is our experience from running the program that these are few and far between. They are not a common occurrence. We are taking steps to reduce and eliminate those that do occur.

 

(The articles referred to follow.)

______________________

[From the Wall Street Journal, March 25 1969]

The Hidden War: Elite Phoenix Forces Hunt Vietcong Chiefs in an Isolated Village — Raid Prompted by Informers Finds Most of Foe Gone and Natives Tight-Lipped — Demolishing a VC Monument

(By Peter R. Kann)

DON NHON, South Vietnam.— Was it a trap? There was reason for suspicion.

But the risk had to be taken. An unsolicited bit of information offered an opportunity to strike at a local unit of the Vietcong “infrastructure” (VCI), the clandestine political and administrative apparatus through which the enemy lays claim to control much of the Vietnamese countryside.

The affair began like this:

Two ragged Vietnamese, one short and squat, the other tall and thin, recently walked into Don Nhon, a village about 50 miles southwest of Saigon that is the capital of Don Nhon District. The pair told American officials that they wanted to talk about the VCI in their home village of Vinh Hoa, a nearby community of about 2,000 persons nestled deep in Vietcong territory along a Mekong River tributary. A Vietcong-sponsored “Liberation Committee” had been elected to govern Vinh Hoa five months previously, the informers said.

The U.S. advisers were dubious about taking military action on the basis of this intelligence. An ambush might be in the offing. Vinh Hoa was dangerous territory, several miles from the nearest government-controlled village. And the informers said they were refugees, rather than Vietcong defectors, who normally could be expected to be more eager to talk. But the two stuck to their story of overt Vietcong control in their village, and their information checked out with that in allied files.

HIGH PRIORITY

Vinh Hoa clearly was a target for “Operation Phoenix,” the high-priority allied effort to root out the VCI across South Vietnam. The year-old Phoenix campaign obviously is related to the Paris negotiations. When peace comes, South Vietnam’s claims to control the countryside will be strongest where the VCI cadre are fewest.

The Vietcong claim that about 1,800 governing bodies have been freely elected in “liberated areas” of South Vietnam. The U.S. dismisses most of the committees as fictions existing only on paper and claims VCI cadre are being wiped out at a rate of better than 2,300 a month. Total VCI strength is estimated at about 70,000.

Although conceived largely by CIA men and other American planners, Operation Phoenix is executed primarily by Vietnamese troops. Its methods range from after-dark assassination strikes by small killer squads to battalion-sized cordon and search efforts. A small strike clearly wasn’t indicated for Vinh Hoa. The village might be heavily defended. U.S. officials finally settled on a plan for a daylight assault with helicopter transportation. The U.S. 9th Division would provide support. {p.68}

HUNTING THE ENEMY

Phoenix operations are reputed to be highly sophisticated and productive affairs. The Vinh Hoa effort proved to be neither. It involved intricate — and apparently flawed — planning, largely fruitless interrogation of fearful, tight-lipped villagers, calculated brutality applied to suspected Vietcong, the execution of one suspect, looting of homes by Vietnamese troops, systematic destruction of village installations and a largely unproductive hunt for Vietcong officials who apparently had fled by sampan long before the allies arrived.

The operation highlighted agonizing questions about Phoenix and the allied methods for waging war in Vietnam. Because the Vietcong torture and assassinate, should the allies? Is there value to an operation that “sweeps” a Vietcong area and then departs, leaving no permanent allied presence? Who should be considered Vietcong? Does the VC include a farmer who happens to own ancestral rice land in a Vietcong-controlled village and pays taxes to the enemy?

The counter-infrastructure experts are the Provincial Reconnaissance Units, called “PRUs.” Along with the Vietnamese, they include Cambodian and Chinese Nung mercenaries. All are recruited, trained and paid by the CIA. In two days of planning the Vinh Hoa force grew to include about 49 PRUs, about 30 Vietnamese special combat police and a handful of interrogators from the Police Special Branch, Census-Grievance men and psychological warfare cadre. The Americans taking part in the operation were two civilian PRU advisers, two civilian advisers to the special police, two young Army officers working in Don Nhon District and several radio operators. Two companies of the 9th Division, about 110 men, were to form a cordon around the village to prevent Vietcong escapes.

THE LAST MEETING

Final plans were coordinated at the Tactical Operations Center of Kien Hoa province (which includes Don Nhon) the night before the strike, with more than a dozen Americans and Vietnamese attending or within earshot. The size of the meeting troubled CIA men. They worried, justifiably as it turned out, that confusion and intelligence leaks would follow.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, the operation force is waiting for its helicopter transport at the airfield at Ben Tre, the Kien Hoa provincial capital. And waiting. It turns out that the 9th Division is having difficulty arranging its “air assets.” An outpost under siege in a neighboring province has to be aided.

The civilian U.S. advisers begin to get restless and irritable; “The U.S. Army is more trouble than it’s worth ... all their maps and charts and crap ... goddamned army must have schools that teach delay and confusion ... never seen a 9th Division operation go off on time...”

One adviser spots a plane to the west circling roughly over the area of the target village. Fluttering from it are thousands of propaganda leaflets. He explodes: “Great. Just great. The army is really good at this crap. Pick up a paper and read all about it. Read about the operation that’s coming in to get you.”

The PRUs and Vietnamese special combat police are wearing a wild variety of jungle fatigues, flak jackets, bush hats, berets, combat boots, tennis shoes and sandals. Some are barefoot. Initially they are sitting in orderly rows along the runway. Soon they begin dispersing about the airfield.

The PRU invent a game. As a big C130 cargo plane comes in to land, they sit on the runway, then duck their heads as the plane’s wings whip past just above them. “They’re the toughest men in this war,” says one adviser. “They join this outfit because they want action.”

The American points to a small Vietnamese half-dozing on the grass. “That man used to be a VC. He got disillusioned with them, so they killed his family. He lit out for the bush. Spent two years out there alone, conducting a private vendetta against Charlie. God knows how many VC he killed. Finally he came in and joined up with PRUs. He wants to kill more VCs.”

HOVERING CLOSE

Shortly after 9 a.m., two hours late, 10 helicopters arrive. The Phoenix force piles aboard and is flown for 15 minutes across flat rice land and coconut groves to the landing zone, a rice paddy less than a mile from the center of Vinh Hoa. The helicopters hover close to the ground, and the troops leap out, wading cautiously through thigh-deep mud and water toward a treeline from which they expect enemy fire. {p.69}

There is no firing. At the treeline the troops are joined by the Don Nhon District U.S. advisers and the two Vietnamese informants who prompted the operation. They have been separately helicoptered to the scene. The informers, garbed in baggy U.S. Army fatigues, are to remain mystery men, for their own protection. Their heads are covered with brown cloth bags with eye and mouth holes. The two present a part comic, part frightening spectacle.

The local advisers have bad news. They say the 9th Division cordon along the southern fringe of the village didn’t get into place until about 9 a.m., two hours late, leaving the Vietcong an escape route. (The 9th Division later denies any delay.) Now the informers claim not to recognize the approach being taken to the village. One American sharply questions them. Another is cursing the Vietnamese “psywar” operatives tramping along with the troops: “All we need are these goddamned guys with their leaflets. And they’re wearing black pajamas. Beautiful. Now the army (the 9th Division troops) will zap ‘em as VC.”

LOOKING AROUND

Several of the Vietnamese special police have found an empty farmhouse, recently deserted judging by damp betel-nut stains on the floor. They are passing the time knocking holes in a water barrel. In another farmhouse, the occupant, an old lady, stares at a wall while two carefree PRUs boil eggs on her wood stove.

A lone PRU wanders along the treeline shaking his head and muttering, “VC di di, VC di di. (VC gone, VC gone).” The troops presently advance toward a cluster of houses nearer the village center. Spaced along the mud trails at intervals of about 10 yards are thick mud bunkers, each large enough for several men. The houses also have bunkers, inside or out Vinh Hoa, being within an allied “free strike zone,” is subject to air and artillery pounding.

No booby traps materialize. The troops arrive at a substantial farmhouse with flower beds in the front yard, a manicured hedge and pillars flanking the front entrance. It is one of many prosperous homes in Vinh Hoa — surprising, since Vietcong villages visually are poorer than government-controlled towns. Isolation from major markets, high Vietcong taxes and allied bombing are among the reasons.

Behind the house some leaf wrappings are found. “The VC must have been here,” an American says. “That’s what they wrap field rations in.” (Leaves are used by most rural Vietnamese, VC or not, to wrap food.) The occupant of the house an old man who stares at the interlopers through wire-rim spectacles, is shaking, through age, or fear, or both.

The aged Vietnamese is questioned briefly. “Bring him along,” an American says sharply. “Let’s move.” Another adviser says. “That old man could be the top dog VC in this village. You never know.” The old man totters along with the troops. He is released in mid-afternoon when one of the two informers claims him as an uncle.

INTERROGATION

At about 11 a.m., an American adviser and two special police turn up with three captives. “Found them hiding in a house,” the American says. The informers inspect the captives and whisper, through an interpreter, that one is a Vietcong village guerrilla, the second a Vietcong “security section chief” and the third a non-Vietcong, perhaps a deserter from the South Vietnamese army.

The two identified as Vietcong are bound, and one of them, a narrow-shouldered bent young man with protruding teeth, is leaned against a tree trunk. Several police interrogators and PRUs gather around him and fire questions. They want to know where Vietcong weapons and ammunition are hidden.

The suspect doesn’t know or won’t say. Soon the questions are interspersed with yanks at his hair and sharp kicks to his head, face and groin. The prisoner sags against the tree, face bloodied.

“Americans don’t want to be here for any more of this,” says one U.S. adviser, moving away. “It’s a nasty goddamned business.” He adds, “You know, it’s a whole cycle of this stuff. Last week in another village near Don Nhon the VC marched five government sympathizers into the marketplace and beat their head in with hammers. So we return it on this guy. It goes on and on.”

By now the informers have gotten their bearings. They lead most of the troops along a trail to a hospital building behind a hedge of blue flowers. It is a straw-thatch structure containing eight wide plank beds separated by white plastic curtains. In one corner is a mud bunker, in another a crude case of glassware and medicine bottles, some with French and American labels. There are no patients or traces of them. {p.70}

The Americans decide it is a Vietcong hospital for wounded enemy troops. “Burn it,” an American adviser directs. Ignited with cigaret lighters, the hut burns readily.

In single file, the troops wind along a trail toward the center of Vinh Hoa. Since there hasn’t been any firing, the possibility of an ambush is discounted. Some of the PRUs and special police are carrying food and household articles taken from the outlying farmhouses. The “psywarriors” are strewing the trail with propaganda leaflets carried in plastic bags. Some of the PRUs have ringed their helmets with garlands of flowers. The procession takes on a festive air.

Ten minutes later the column reaches the center of the village, a small cluster of houses and shops facing a square that previously contained a covered marketplace. The marketplace has been bombed out. In the center of the square is a concrete obelisk about 10 feet high — a Vietcong memorial, say the Americans, dedicated to the enemy dead. It is one target of the Phoenix strike.

The PRUs and Vietnamese special police begin searching — and sacking — the homes. They are bored, and restless, because there has been no “action.” The psywarriors’ plastic bags, emptied of propaganda, are commandeered for loot ranging from clothing to chickens. “Trick or treat,” says an American, not really amused. In one house, some of the Vietnamese troops are having a small celebration. They have unearthed a bottle of rice wine.

A few village residents, women, children and old men, are assembled along one side of the square. They squat on their haunches in the dust. Several male captives are bound a few yards away. Against a wall, the narrow-shouldered prisoner is rocking back and forth, a trickle of blood running down his head.

Amid whirling dust, a 9th Division helicopter lands in the square. A lean U.S. lieutenant colonel in polished boots and trim uniform steps out with aides in tow. Displaying a map marked with red grease pencil, he reports the kill totals of the support troops: “Charlie Company got three KIAs (Killed in Action), Delta Company two, we got one from my chopper...” All the fatalities, he says, were armed Vietcong, carrying packs. They were shot trying to flee through the cordon. “They had low-level documents on them,” the colonel reports. Presently the chopper leaves.

In the middle of the square, two Americans are strapping demolition charges around the Vietcong monument. A one-minute warning is sounded. Everyone takes cover. As the charge explodes, the monument disintegrates into chunks of brick and concrete. It is exactly noon.

THE VILLAGE CHURCH

The explosion seems to galvanize the foraging troops into action. “Don’t they have anything to do but loot those houses?” an American PRU adviser shouts to a Vietnamese lieutenant. “Get the men out combing the rest of this village.” Two search parties move out. A third group, mostly Americans, crosses a narrow footbridge spanning a canal to investigate a church.

Crossing the bridge, the Americans spot fresh footprints on both sides of the river connected with the canal. For the moment, they pose a mystery.

The church, a Roman Catholic structure, is bolted shut at front and rear. Just as two Americans warily advance to smash a lock, the front door opens and an elderly man in white pajamas appears, smiling as though to welcome parishioners to services. The inside of the little church is newly painted and neatly scrubbed. A row of angled bullet holes along the metal-sheet roof attests to a visit from a helicopter gunship.

In the rear are a large drum and a brass gong. An American points to them and questions the elderly church attendant.

“What are they for?”

“To call the faithful to worship.”

“Did you see any people leaving the village this morning?”

“No....”

“We have information on how much this church pays to the VC in taxes. How much do you say it pays?”

“Maybe the people pay 100 or 200 piasters (80 cents to $1.60).”

“The church, how much does it pay?”

“The church does not pay taxes. The church never pays taxes.”

“The hell it doesn’t pay,” the American says. “This may be a Catholic church, but it’s Charlie’s Catholic church.” {p.71}

A TACITURN LADY

The Americans follow a path past the church to a cluster of solidly built homes. Most are empty. In one, two candles burn before a postcard picture of Christ. In another, a picture of Pope Paul sits on a small altar beside a mud bunker. One house is occupied by a woman with six children. She is interrogated.

“Did you see people crossing the river this morning?”

“No, I was in my bunker.”

“Where is your husband?”

“He went to the market at Cai Mang.”

“Why?”

“He always goes when the soldiers come here...”

“Do you know who are the VC in this village?”

“No. We don’t know VC. We are Catholic. Catholics don’t know VC.”

“We know that a Liberation Committee was elected here. When?”

“I just heard about it recently.”

“Who is the Vietcong village chief here?”

“I don’t know....”

“How much tax do you pay to the VC?”

“More than 1,000 piasters.” (About $8.)

“How often do Vietcong song and dance (propaganda) teams come and visit?”

“Not often.”

“What do they say?”

They say the Americans will go home soon.

“How often does your husband stand guard for the VC?”

“Every five or six days.”

“How often do the women here have to make punji stakes (poisoned stakes) for the VC?”

“Once or twice a year.”

“That’s pretty typical,” says the American, heading back across the footbridge to the village square.

DISAPPEARING ENEMY

An American adviser has figured out the footprints on both sides of the river. There are no sampans around the village. Adult males, except for old men, seem almost nonexistent. The village population is estimated at 2,000, but no more than 200 persons have been seen on this day.

The American finds a youngster hiding in a farmhouse. He poses a few perfunctory questions, then suddenly demands: “At what time this morning did all the people leave here by boat?” Perhaps startled by the suddenness of the query, the boy replies, “At four o’clock.”

The conclusion: Most of the village’s Vietcong guerrillas, VCI cadre and Liberation Committee members have eluded the Phoenix troops. “They just had to have that big meeting last night,” fumes an American adviser, recalling the last planning session for the operation. “Everyone had to get in on this goddamned operation. The VC must have known all about it by midnight last night. So they blew the place. Just sailed down the river on their sampans.”

But there may be something to salvage from the operation. In the square, the the group of squatting villagers has grown to 50 or 60. Census-Grievance operatives examine their identification cards. Few have them; in Vietcong controlled areas, the enemy forbids the people to carry government ID cards and often punishes those who do.

The two informers, still with bags on their heads, stand behind a nearby wall, peering at the villagers. Occasionally they point to a resident and whisper to a PRU. Those put under suspicion are pulled to their feet, bound and taken aside to the prisoner group. The others remain on their haunches staring silently into the dust.

THE MOVING FINGER

One villager “fingered” by the informers is a bowlegged woman clutching a baby. She is identified as a member of the village “women-farmer association,” a Vietcong citizen-involvement organization not normally considered important enough to classify as Vietcong cadre. (“No point picking them up,” a U.S. official says later in Saigon. “They’re more trouble than they’re worth to process and hold.”)

But the woman is moved to the prisoner group, clutching the baby. Her two other children, a boy about six and a girl about 10 years old, begin to cry loudly. {p.72} A PRU raises a rifle butt over their heads menacingly, and the wails subside into muffled sobs.

From behind a nearby house two shots are heard. The narrow-shouldered prisoner has been executed. His body is dumped into a bunker.

One of the psywar operatives lectures the villagers on the perils of supporting the Vietcong and outlines the benefits of backing the Saigon government. Propaganda sheets bearing a smiling portrait of President Nguyen Van Thieu are handed out.

At one side of the square an American adviser muses about the operation and what it has to do with the war: “There are 30 people sitting around a table in Paris, and they just aren’t going to hack it. How can they solve this thing? The people in this village have been VC for 10 years, maybe 20. How are you going to change that? We come here on an operation, and what does it prove? We’ve got some crook sitting in Don Nhon picking up a salary every month because he claims to be the government village chief here. He hasn’t dared to visit this village for seven years. The district chief was too chicken to come on this operation. So we come in, pick up a few Charlies and leave. The VC will be back in control here tonight.

HEADING BACK

At 3 p.m., with five prisoners in tow, the troops start hiking back to the landing zone in the rice paddy for transportation home. Near the paddy they meet two U.S. soldiers from the 9th Division cordon, leading two prisoners. Each of the captives wears a neatly printed “Detainee Card.”

The taller and more talkative of the two informers is brought forward to examine the new prisoners. One is identified as a deputy Vietcong village chief, the other as a non-Vietcong. Both are placed with the other prisoners.

A deputy Vietcong village chief would be the most important captive of the day by far, the others being low-level cadre at best. “Hey, we got us a big one,” says an elated American adviser, who then cautions nearby PRUs: “You keep this one alive, you hear. We want him alive.”

Half an hour later the troops have been helicoptered back to their compound in Ben Tre, and the prisoners are on their way to the Police Special Branch interrogation center. Results of the operation: Eight kills, one after torture. Seven prisoners taken for interrogation. One war memorial dynamited. One hospital burned. No friendly casualties.

 

______________________

[From the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 5 1968]

The Invisible Foe: Intelligence Push Attempts to Wipe Out Vietcong Underground — Elite Forces Work to Break the Enemy “Infrastructure” by Eliminating Leaders — Night Raids Set Up by CIA

(By Peter R. Kann) Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

SAIGON.— An American official boasts that he duped a rural Vietcong group into assassinating one of its own key agents by elaborately sowing rumors in VC circles that the man was a double agent working for the allies.

In a province near the Cambodian border, allied intelligence discloses the planned time and location of VC district finance committee meeting. Sweeping into the gathering, a special combat police unit captures six VC tax officials.

In a Mekong Delta province, U.S. officials learn that funeral rites are planned for a senior VC official. An allied “counter-terror” team raids the funeral and kills many of the VC agents present.

Can the visible and legal government of South Vietnam root out the “invisible” government, the clandestine, 80,000-member Vietcong “infrastructure”? A new effort is under way to do so. There is general agreement here that the outcome of the struggle will be crucial to the future of the nation.

WORKING QUIETLY

Officially described by U.S. authorities as the “political and administrative organization through which the Vietcong control or seek control over the South Vietnamese people,” the infrastructure, or VCI, is an efficient, largely covert organization with decades of experience in moving among the people. Taking {p.73} advantage of family relationships and the weak grip of the established government in remote areas, it conducts espionage, wields terror, infiltrates allied organizations, collects taxes, disseminates propaganda and recruits natives for its cause. For years allied agencies and programs have sought to root out the VCI, with meager success. Now the U.S. and the Vietnamese government are mounting another high-priority program to coordinate their agencies and accomplish that task. Called Phung Hoang (All-Seeing Bird) in Vietnamese, the program is known to Americans as Phoenix.

After an abortive beginning, Phoenix is beginning to register some successes, despite disinterest among some Vietnamese officials, political infighting and skepticism among U.S. aides. “It’s a good program,” says one informed source, “but we should have started it six years ago.” One observer compares the program to “trying to root the Republican party out of Kansas.”

The effort is imperative, however. If the Paris peace talks produce a cease-fire, it is unlikely that VCI activities could be turned off with the same ease as conventional military action. The VCI might continue as a covert political apparatus, even if the Vietcong won a role in a new government.

GETTING TOGETHER

U.S. intelligence officials define Phoenix as “a systematic effort at intelligence coordination and exploitation.” Before Phoenix, they found that in one district 11 networks of allied intelligence agents were operating independently. Some observers suggested that the district contained more paid informers and agents for the allied side than there were VC regulars to spy on.

The Vietnamese government’s three major intelligence agencies — Police Special Branch, Military Security Service and Army Intelligence — all were at work in the district, and not productively. Competing agencies regularly arrested one another’s agents, accidentally or because of political rivalries.

Phoenix works to pool the resources and information of the various agencies, with joint intelligence committees at the province level and also down at the district level. American advisers, including Central Intelligence Agency men, participate in the effort to sift information from agents, informers, prisoners and other sources. “Exploitation” is accomplished by military or paramilitary units that make secret, small-unit missions into contested or Vietcong-controlled areas, usually at night.

These units prefer to capture an identified VCI agent, since he may yield further information, but if that is impractical, the target is assassinated, sometimes brutally as an object lesson to others. “It’s a systematic, sophisticated application of force,” says one American adviser in the field. In big cities and other government-controlled areas, however, the program may involve a simple arrest rather than a kidnapping or assassination.

What happened to previous “counter-infrastructure” programs? Combined with various “pacification” efforts, they were pushed into the background as the overt military conflict escalated and the “other war” effort languished. Moreover, pacification is a catchall program; the complex task of tracking down VCI cadre didn’t mesh well with agricultural aid and school-building.

A U.S. field official (who belatedly discovered that his cook was a VC agent) points out a perennial problem. “Face it,” he says, “we really can’t tell who is VCI and who isn’t. The GVN (Government of Vietnam) has to do this job.” Some U.S. officials believe that Vietnamese leaders still don’t realize the importance of coming to grips with the VCI — or that they despair of destroying it.

THE YANKS ARE FOR IT

The Phoenix program seems to have stirred much less enthusiasm among the Vietnamese than the Americans. It apparently has had top priority with U.S. aides since last fall, but only two months ago did the Vietnamese government give it similar priority. “For months we were sending plans, advisers, filing cabinets, safes — you name it — out to the provinces and districts,” recalls one U.S. field source. “It was an American program, not a GVN effort.”

Even with top-level Vietnamese backing, the program still faces political, tactical and technical problems. But some successes are being reported. In one province near Saigon, pooling of intelligence in the past two months has produced the capture or assassination of six members of the VC province committee, three VC district chiefs, nine other VC district officials and 31 village or hamlet cadre. Trained cadre, particularly senior ones at the province level, are difficult for the VC to replace. {p.74}

In a province north of Saigon, Phoenix is credited with 145 VCI captives and casualties in June. Earlier this year, when the program hadn’t gained momentum, the usual toll was about 20 a month.

In one province near the Demilitarized Zone, Phoenix is reported to have been so successful that the enemy has had to replace local VCI cadre with North Vietnamese; the agents from the North necessarily would have less rapport with the natives than their native-born predecessors. In another northern province of South Vietnam, the VC are said to have formed a special committee to try to rebuild their shattered apparatus.

Nationally, some 6,000 VCI cadre have been captured or killed since the Tet holiday in February, according to allied sources. Still, says one informed source, “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’ve hurt them much yet.”

Indeed, in many provinces Phoenix remains largely a paper project. In one central highlands province, there are two provincial intelligence committees, neither one of them functioning. The program is paralyzed by competition between the province chief, and the province police chief.

At the district level in the same province, the situation is no better. “We have three DIOCs (District Intelligence and Operations Centers) in the province,” says one source. “One shows signs of promise. One is headed by an incompetent. The third is headed by a suspected VC.”

Mutual distrust among intelligence agencies remains a problem. “Partly it’s endemic among intelligence agencies in any country,” says one American source. “Intelligence agencies are by nature exclusive. They don’t want to reveal their sources. We have the problem, too.” In Vietnam, the problem is compounded by personal, political rivalries and the conspiratorial nature of Vietnamese.

KEEPING IT FROM THE ENEMY

Also, the Vietcong have been skillful at permeating many of the government’s intelligence agencies. Thus, while American agencies seek to have the government share its secrets, it is questionable if the Americans share their own best information.

Another difficulty: Vietnamese intelligence agencies traditionally have been instruments of internal military and political intrigue, particularly in the days when the late President Diem’s brother-in-law, Ngo Dinh Nhu, headed the police apparatus. But Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the national police until he was wounded a few months ago, also was a master intriguer. Political involvements don’t make for efficient intelligence work.

Because of incompetence or indifference among many regular Vietnamese military units in carrying out “exploitation” missions, U.S. advisers recently have been relying on “PRUs” (Provincial Reconnaissance Units) of 118 men each to make strikes on VCI targets.

The PRUs are more American than Vietnamese. Chosen, trained, paid and operated by the ClA, they are highly trained mercenaries, often selected from Vietnam’s minority groups, such as Chinese Nungs and Cambodians. or from Vietcong agents who have defected. Their operations often are led by elite U.S. Navy “Seal” commandos assigned to the CIA.

The PRUs have been an effective strike force, but the most logical exploitation force would be native units such as Popular Force troops — platoon-sized groups recruited and employed at the village level. These troops know their localities and often know the identities of VCI agents. But the PF troops long have been the most poorly trained, equipped and led Vietnamese units. And many district officials, envisaging harsh VC reprisals to exploitation strikes, would just as soon have the strikes made by outside forces like the PRUs.

Indeed, some veteran U.S. officals {sic: officials} fault the American effort for naively failing to take local complexities into account. Many U.S. advisers are youthful Army lieutenants or captains, and others also lack experience. One arriving colonel, having received a long briefing on the “counter-infrastructure program,” is said to have asked, “Where is this structure, anyway?”

Some officials in the field complain of demands from Saigon for numerical results (“How many VCI did you kill this month?”). They argue that the pressure for “results” leads to strikes against low-level VCI rather than the key, elusive officials in the enemy apparatus. However, a senior official in Saigon says, “We are interested in quality, not quantity. We want the hard-core cadre.”

A few veteran officials complain that the counter-infrastructure effort isn’t being pursued with enough subtlety. Rather than capturing or killing VCI cadre, they say, Phoenix should focus on the use of secret agents to infiltrate VCI cells and turn them against one another. Some success has been reported in such enterprises. {p.75}

Another source suggests that to root out the VCI the allies will have to develop their own clandestine “counter-infrastructure” — a permanent presence rivaling and eventually overcoming that of the VC in contested and VC-controlled areas.

_______________

 

EFFECT OF CONDITIONS IN VIETNAM ON SOLDIERS

The Chairman. I won’t pursue it. I am going to have to yield now. But there was an extremely interesting case the other day of a young man, very obviously a very fine soldier and a highly regarded psychiatrist, discussing this in a completely different context, which was: What can be done for the soldiers who go through these experiences, who are exposed to these indescribable conditions of provocation? What can be done to help them? The discussion occurred before a veterans committee and in a different context, but it was very impressive. It raises extremely serious questions about our being able to cope with the conditions, our being able to build a good society using these means because I don’t believe you can build a good society and an exemplary one using means such as have been described in article after article.

Mr. Colby. I hasten to say, Mr. Chairman, that I am referring to the Phoenix program. I am not extending my comments to all the other programs that exist out there.

The Chairman. I see.

It is just part of it?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

The Chairman. Senator Case, I have other questions but I have to yield to you. I feel ashamed to delay you so long because you paid a compliment to the committee and the witness to come back especially to ask some questions.

Senator Case. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You are most generous and I feel that I should let you go on indefinitely because of your infinite superiority in interrogation in this matter.

The Chairman. No, I was not invited to do that.

EDUCATION IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Senator Case. There are two or three things I would like to ask you about. I too apologize for keeping you so late.

On the overall question of our objective, of how we are getting along, what is the situation in education, which I take it is part of your interest?

Mr. Colby. It is only a small degree. That really is Mr. MacDonald’s primary responsibility, Senator.

Senator Case. All right.

Then I will not press you too hard here.

Mr. Colby. I can give you a few general answers.

Senator Case. I would like to have perhaps your general overview of what a young Vietnamese, a peasant or a city boy, or girl, can expect? Will he get a grade school education as a matter of course? Is he likely to get in fact, as opposed to what the official program may be, a high school education? What are his chances of getting into a university, if he comes from humble parents? How much is class rigidity still existing? Can he get into the Army as an officer, as an officer candidate? {p.76}

Mr. Colby. I can give you a few general answers to that, Senator.

In the first place, the Vietnamese have a high respect for education and a high desire to benefit from it. This comes in part perhaps from their Confucian tradition. As a result there are a vast number of elementary schools in this country. Some of them were built under our programs and some built by local people. There is a considerable effort made to produce teachers for those elementary schools. In addition there are many cases in which local military or the RD cadre, the political organizers, actually teach in the schools.

As a result, I believe the current statistic, and Mr. MacDonald can confirm this, I believe, is that something like 90 percent of the young people go to elementary schools, the first few years of school. Then it gets a little harder.

Senator Case. When you say first few years, you mean up to the fourth grade?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. Eighty percent of all people.

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir, of the children.

Senator Case. Eighty percent in the country or in the city?

Mr. Colby. Well, a lot of them are in the city actually, where things are crowded and they don’t have adequate schools. Saigon for instance, has a lower ratio than some of the other areas. On the secondary level it gets a little harder.

Now, the current program is to put a secondary school in each district. Ten, 15 years ago there was probably a secondary school only in the province capital. This has been increasingly developed in many areas. Many of the local areas used their local funds in this development program this past year to develop secondary schools. So that you have a fairly significant percentage, I don’t know the specifics of it.

Senator Case. Secondary schools would be anything over the third grade?

Mr. Colby. Yes. Over the fifth grade.

Senator Case. Up to where?

Mr. Colby. The first 5 years is primary, but you don’t get the 80 percent through all 5 of the years.

Senator Case. All 5 of the first years?

Mr. Colby. Just 80 percent of the first 2 or 3.

Senator Case. Some drop out?

Mr. Colby. It is a little country school, a one room school, just teaching a little reading, writing, arithmetic.

Senator Case. Do the first 5 years give them reading, writing and—

Mr. Colby. Yes, there is a very high degree of literacy in the country.

There are an additional number of secondary schools being built and staffed in many of the districts. As a matter of fact, a very substantial number of the secondary schools in existence are private schools. Some of these are religous {sic: religious} oriented, some of them are ethnic oriented. The Chinese, for instance, will frequently have secondary schools. There are five universities in the country. Two new ones have been established in the past few years: Can Tho and the Buddhist University in Saigon. {p.77}

CLASS ORIGIN IN SOUTH VIETNAMESE UNIVERSITIES

There are about 25,000 to 30,000 students in the University of Saigon. Here it is true, I think, Senator, that the class origin is still with us. It is only on very rare occasions that a country boy unless he is a member of the notables of the community, will go on to the University.

Senator Case. Who decides that?

Mr. Colby. He won’t be able to maintain the educational effort. This is a problem. The new Minister of Education is particularly concerned about making some reforms in the structure so that it works.

Senator Case. This has been a long while now. We have been at this for 12, 15 years and there hasn’t been any change yet.

Mr. Colby. Well, there has been some change made but not enough. It is still a problem, let’s face it.

Senator Case. Why hasn’t it been changed?

Mr. Colby. Your schools fill up with qualified students who come from other areas, and in competition the fellow from the country school doesn’t get in.

Senator Case. But it isn’t just because he is not qualified.

Mr. Colby. Or trained. I think I had better not go any further.

Senator Case. I really want facts.

CLASS STRUCTURE IN SOUTH VIETNAMESE MILITARY

Mr. Colby. I know it. I really should not go any further in this, Senator, because I am really not your best witness. One thing I would like to add though, is that the military — you spoke about the officers in the army—

Senator Case. Yes.

Mr. Colby. The major requirement for an officer is that he have what is called a second “bac,” that he be a graduate from a junior college.

Senator Case. That is—

Mr. Colby. That is what it amounts to in our country.

Senator Case. And that limits it?

Mr. Colby. It effectively limits it, except that there are provisions for the promotion of people from the ranks. There is a provision for the possible promotion of a qualified NCO to officer status even if he does not pass the literacy test, the educational test.

Senator Case. Have we any statistics as to how often those provisions have been exercised?

Mr. Colby. I think there were something like 300 last year, as I remember it.

(The following information was later supplied.)

______________________

There were 293 NCOs promoted to officers last year in the Regular Forces. However, if Regional Forces are added in, the figure is increased by 156 to a total of 449.

______________________

Senator Case. 300 who in effect became officers, NCO’s who otherwise would not?

Mr. Colby. That is right.

Senator Case. Is that a change over the previous situation?

Mr. Colby. It is some change, not a great change. {p.78}

Senator Case. Actually, their need for officers in the military establishments totaling some million is what?

Mr. Colby. It is a very great need. They have been sending a great number through the officer candidate school but with the educational qualifications.

Senator Case. With the educational qualifications, so that by and large it is still very strongly a very rigid class structure.

Mr. Colby. Yes; it is still a great problem. It is opening up a bit but not wide.

Senator Case. How about NCO’s?

Mr. Colby. NCO’s, no. They are pretty open as to who becomes an NCO. That is a quality situation.

Senator Case. What about job opportunities?

Mr. Colby. Pardon me.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE POPULATION

Senator Case. Perhaps before we get into the question of job opportunities you might give me a little picture of what Vietnam consists of. There are how many people, 18 million?

Mr. Colby. 17 million people, Senator. Almost 40 percent live in cities now. That is a 100 percent change. There were about 20 percent 10 years ago.

Senator Case. Let’s take the 60 percent first.

Mr. Colby. Sixty percent are primarily rice growing. There are a total of six million people living in the Delta, for instance.

Senator Case. That is men, women and children?

Mr. Colby. Men, women and children. Your average age is quite low, I can’t give you the number.

Senator Case. You mean the death rate, you mean death occurs earlier?

Mr. Colby. Yes, there are diseases and various things.

Senator Case. What is the average. I have seen some very old people but they are undoubtedly the exception.

Mr. Colby. Not very many. You are respected for you age in your 50s.

Senator Case. Sixty percent of the people are rural?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. And this means really rural, doesn’t it?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. They are farmers?

Mr. Colby. Farmers and fishermen.

Senator Case. Workers in the field, farmers, fishermen. Timber?

Mr. Colby. Some, not very much nowadays, because the forests are pretty dangerous. There used to be rubber plantations to some extent.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE AGRICULTURE

Senator Case. Most of these people in agriculture work for themselves?

Mr. Colby. Yes, the ownership of land over the years has gone through some changes. Under the French times there were some big plantations. These were eliminated at the end of the French time and. the land was divided up. During the war years it was further divided {p.79} up. A lot of the rural land today is still deserted. Some of it is being reentered as people go back out into the countryside.

Some of the people in the countryside are turning to new kinds of crops. Vegetable crops, proteins, pigs, chickens, that sort of thing are coming up very substantially in the past few years.

Senator Case. But for the most part, the Vietnamese farmer or peasant—

Mr. Colby. Is a rice farmer.

Senator Case. Is an entrepreneur, he works for himself?

Mr. Colby. Or he is a tenant of someone who owns the land who may live in the village.

Senator Case. Even as a tenant, though, he works for himself still and pays, either divides his produce or pays a money rent of some sort?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. How does he get his stuff to market?

Mr. Colby. There are rice merchants and rice mills in many villages. Most villages in the Delta have a rice mill or two. Frequently this rice mill is owned by a gentleman of Chinese extraction and he operates as the local bank and credit source. He buys the crop and mills it and arranges to have it shipped to a center where it is gathered and then it all goes up to Saigon. This goes up to Saigon either by road, by trucks or by—

Senator Case. Does he take the loss then when taxes are levied by the Vietcong? Does he take the loss or the farmer?

Mr. Colby. Well, the farmer takes the loss and the merchant takes a loss, both, and the consumer. Of course the price goes up.

Senator Case. Because the prices are higher?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

PROGRESS TOWARD SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN AGRICULTURE

Senator Case. Is Vietnam sufficiently self-sufficient in basic agricultural requirements?

Mr. Colby. It should be. It isn’t now, Senator. It used to be a net exporter.

Senator Case. What is it now?

Mr. Colby. It used to be a substantial net exporter. This year they expect to be 150,000 or 200,000 tons short.

Senator Case. Of what?

Mr. Colby. Of self-sufficiency.

Senator Case. Of what requirements?

Mr. Colby. Of a little over 5 million tons.

Senator Case. You mean about 25 percent short?

Mr. Colby. They expect to reach self-sufficiency by the end of this calendar year in rice.

Senator Case. In rice. Is there any other basic or staple that is a measure of self-sufficiency?

Mr. Colby. Not particularly. Rubber used to be one of their major exports.

Senator Case. That is an export? I am talking about things they consume themselves.

Mr. Colby. Well, there is considerable fishing. There are local proteins like ducks and chickens and pigs. {p.80}

Senator Case. They don’t have to import; at least your expectation at the end of this year that they will not be importing a substantial amount of food.

Mr. Colby. They will be importing some food, but they will be self-sufficient in rice.

Senator Case. What foods will they have to import?

Mr. Colby. Well, milk. Condensed milk is a great import. We actually export a considerable amount of milk over there.

Senator Case. Is this different from the old days? Did they always import milk?

Mr. Colby. They always imported milk, but they used to do it from France.

Senator Case. This is not a change, I am sorry.

Mr. Colby. They used to do it from France. Now, they import from the United States.

Senator Case. So that the country is getting to be self-sufficient so far as its agriculture is concerned?

OFFSHORE FISHING

Mr. Colby. Yes, there is a great drive on for it. The new potential is in fishing. There is apparently a considerable potential in fishing offshore, sea fishing. It is warm water and the fish—

Senator Case. Is this something new?

Mr. Colby. It has been there for years but the normal fishing has been very limited in the first place because the boats have been very small — it is just sort of offshore fishing — and, secondly, during the war years they have been restricted from going out. The Government has been opening up the fishing restrictions to allow people to fish in areas where this hadn’t been allowed. But the next stage is to develop enough refrigeration and similar preservation capabilities so that the fishing boats can go out further, stay longer, get a bigger catch and come back in. They are beginning to do this.

MILITARY SERVICE OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE FARMERS

Senator Case. Now, a lot of the people who are in your 60 percent in agriculture are in the military or paramilitary forces, aren’t they?

Mr. Colby. Their families certainly are, it has to be. As a matter of fact, driving around the Delta the other day I really did notice there are not very many men in the fields. The women are doing most of the reaping of rice this fall.

Senator Case. And the men are just—

Mr. Colby. The men are out in the service some place.

Senator Case. Standing around or sitting around?

Mr. Colby. Well, they are off some place.

Senator Case. Is this different from old days?

Mr. Colby. In the military.

Senator Case. Did the men used to work?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

When you had a smaller army they lived on the farms. Their families still live there.

Senator Case. Yes. But did the men do the work or the women?

Mr. Colby. Well, both, the men did work also. {p.81}

Senator Case. Not only the women?

Mr. Colby. In other words, it isn’t a change of custom. The men are off in the services.

Senator Case. Yes.

Mr. Colby. And consequently the women are doing the reaping, not entirely but some.

Senator Case. Do the men like this?

Mr. Colby. No, the men would like to go home.

Senator Case. How much do they get paid in the popular forces?

Mr. Colby. In the popular forces they get about $40 a month.

EARNINGS OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE FARMER

Senator Case. That is ten times more than they ever made on the farm, isn’t it?

Mr. Colby. Oh, no, some of these farms do pretty well, Senator.

Senator Case. Give me some figures.

Mr. Colby. A Vietnamese farm, is quite productive down in the Delta. This is not true of the northern part of South Vietnam. It is very crowded and it is a little tough there.

Senator Case. You don’t mean crowded.

Mr. Colby. Yes, crowded, in the four or five provinces along the sea — Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Nam and so forth — you can get fairly high population densities.

Senator Case. Living in very poor soil relatively?

Mr. Colby. Not very good soil, that is right.

Senator Case. But still in agriculture?

Mr. Colby. Still in agriculture, yes, and now going back to agriculture.

There are a lot of those areas where there was heavy fighting and now the people are going back to resume life in their old fields.

Senator Case. You will give me a figure of how much the farmer did make?

Mr. Colby. Pay and allowance for a year for a popular forces soldier is $480; it is $40 a month more or less.

Senator Case. What would he make as a farmer?

Mr. Colby. It depends, of course, but a bare-footed farmer down in Mr. Vann’s area can sometimes pull out of his back pocket a big roll and buy a new tractor or a new rototiller, a new gadget for the farm.

Senator Case. Which would cost several thousand dollars?

Mr. Colby. Well, at least several hundred dollars. Let’s say several hundreds of dollars.

The Delta is quite a rich area and, as they get irrigation under control, get their fertilizer moving, they are beginning to get two crops in some areas. This doubles the income.

REDUCTION IN PERCENTAGE OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE WHO FARM

Senator Case. Now, 60 percent of the people still farm. This is changing, I take it.

Mr. Colby. This has been a change. It used to be 80 percent.

Senator Case. This necessarily might not have changed if we had not been there. But is it changing to a smaller percentage of the people? {p.82}

Mr. Colby. Yes, that has been the change. It used to be 80 percent. Now it is 60 percent and it probably will go down. It won’t go down as fast in the future, but it will go down. Recently you have had these 480,000 people move back to their villages, back into areas that were empty.

Senator Case. But mechanization and things like that have happened?

Mr. Colby. Yes, the natural urban trend.

Senator Case. The same things that have happened everywhere are reducing the number of percentage of people on the farms?

Mr. Colby. Right.

The Chairman. Defoliation reduced the number too; didn’t it?

Senator Case. Perhaps he can answer.

Mr. Colby. No, not effectively, Mr. Chairman. The defoliation is fairly carefully utilized and I don’t think the defoliation has reduced the population in the farms particularly. It is given some problems here and there put in terms of net impact on population I would say no.

Senator Case. Now, so they come to the cities, and—

Mr. Colby. This is a problem, Senator.

Senator Case. It is a problem, of course. It would be a problem whether we were there or not or whether there was a war there or not.

Mr. Colby. But even a greater problem because we are there.

Senator Case. But an even greater problem because there is a a war.

Mr. Colby. Right.

Senator Case. I suppose many of the things that have happened over there have made irreversible changes in Vietnam, customs and aspirations, family life?

Mr. Colby. Sure.

Senator Case. And society and everything.

Mr. Colby. Well, some of them we haven’t caused; they have just happened. I mean the Honda, for instance. The farmer used to live in his village and never went anywhere else. Now his son — not the farmer but his son — goes up to the province capital on the Honda. Maybe he goes to high school up there, that sort of thing. There are a lot of changes happening in that sense.

He has a television set in a little village out in the Delta.

OCCUPATION OF CITY POPULATIONS IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Senator Case. They come to the city and then how many people in the cities, of the 40 percent, how are they occupied?

Mr. Colby. Mostly commerce of some sort: buying and selling, exchanging things. There is very little basic industry or heavy industry. It is services and that sort of thing.

Senator Case. What percentage are in private employment and what percentage are not, roughly?

Mr. Colby. I don’t think I can give you an answer to that offhand, Senator. Wait a minute, I do have it. Three and a half million out of 14 million are laborers in trade, manufacturing or service industries.

Senator Case. Three and a half million out of 14 million are in labor or services?

Mr. Colby. I am not sure of this figure because it says military service 248,000; I know that is wrong. {p.83}

Senator Case. That isn’t meant to include those in the military, I suppose. Is it, or is it just people in the service industries for the military?

Mr. Colby. I would rather not use this.

Senator Case. What I am trying to get at really is just a very general picture of what—

SOUTH VIETNAMESE EMPLOYED BY GOVERNMENT

Mr. Colby. Well, a certain number of your people work for the government. You have your million in the armed forces, call it.

Senator Case. How many others are on the civil list?

Mr. Colby. There are a couple of hundred thousand. If you add up the bureaucrats, the teachers and that sort of thing you have a couple of hundred thousand.

Senator Case. That is in the whole country?

Mr. Colby. Whole country.

Senator Case. And local level?

Mr. Colby. Local elected officials would be in addition to that but I am talking about the people who work in the bureaucracy.

Senator Case. But civil service.

Mr. Colby. Something of that nature.

Senator Case. A couple of hundred thousand.

Mr. Colby. I think so, yes, sir. It is a figure that we have been using.

Senator Case. And most of the rest who are not in agriculture are in one or another form of service job, is that a fair statement?

Mr. Colby. Service jobs, yes. We are dealing with a total population of 18 million. You have within that those under 18 that would not be included. Almost half of the population are under 18 — maybe not quite that.

Senator Case. Yes, and the figure 200,000 in the government, I suppose, represents families in which there may be five times that number of people who are dependents.

Mr. Colby. Yes, they have large families.

Senator Case. So that maybe a million of the 40 percent are involved or supported by the government in civil jobs.

Mr. Colby. Right.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

Senator Case. Now, the service industries, I suppose, take in both those of white collar and those of blue collar? You have banks and insurance; you have a government lottery, I suppose?

Mr. Colby. You have a lot of markets. There is a government lottery. You have markets; you have market places; you have small commerce. There is a great entrepreneurial sense among the Vietnamese.

Senator Case. They are not really making anything;

Mr. Colby. They are not making very much.

Senator Case. They are not making anything; they are not producing anything.

Mr. Colby. They are not making very much. It is just service. {p.84}

Senator Case. They are just passing the money around among the city people. It is a fair statement.

Mr. Colby. There are light industries, light businesses.

Senator Case. Yes, but not large.

Mr. Colby. There are some, but they are not producing for export.

Senator Case. And not making much that raises the standard of living to any substantial degree?

Mr. Colby. Not a great deal, no.

Senator Case. Now, we are getting to the point—

The Chairman. If the Senator yields, unfortunately I didn’t realize how long we would go on. I wouldn’t mind his going ahead if he would excuse me. We are going to have these gentlemen back all this week. This isn’t the only meeting.

Senator Case. I agree completely and I think I ought to stop. It is just when you have people who are altogether—

The Chairman. They will be here tomorrow. You can go ahead. I didn’t anticipate we would run so late. I have to leave.

Senator Case. I think I should like not to, I certainly don’t want to keep you hungry any longer.

The Chairman. You can go ahead.

Senator Case. Would it be fair enough in 5 minutes I will knock it off?

The Chairman. I was just going to make a short announcement before I leave. I have to leave at 2 o’clock.

Senator Case. I just want to lead into this question, Mr. Chairman, and then maybe I can pick it up at whatever time is appropriate.

The Chairman. As you know, they will be here tomorrow and the next day and we go into the matter of aid and those programs there are different; they will be coming up, too.

SOCIETY DEVELOPING IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Senator Case. What I am trying to get at is a kind of a picture of the society that is developing there and the extent to which anything useful is being done by the Vietnamese Government in education and in training for jobs, in improving the standard of living over there and the rest of it which can give any kind of affirmative appeal to this or any other government that they might have to the people as a whole. That is all I wanted.

Mr. Colby. There is a considerable increase in skills coming out of this war, Senator, in terms of what the people learn in the military services, what they learn from our contractors, what they learn from various services that they have been involved in.

For instance the returnees are offered a chance to learn a trade. This kind of thing does exist. There is considerable increase of this kind of skill that is developing.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, I think it is only proper that my part of this should be put over until tomorrow.

The Chairman. You may pursue anything you would like.

Mr. Colby. I would be glad to answer your questions.

Senator Case. I understand.

Mr. Colby. I would like to note this is really mostly in Mr. MacDonald’s field of expertise rather than in my own; in our USAID director’s field rather than in mine. {p.85}

The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Colby; you have been very patient.

WITNESS SCHEDULE FOR NEXT HEARING

The committee will meet again at 10 o’clock tomorrow to hear testimony from CORDS representatives of the CORDS province and district level. It is anticipated that Mr. John Vann who is the deputy for CORDS, who has been there for a very long time, with whom the staff is well acquainted and who is spoken of very highly, Mr. Hawthorne Mills, and Major James Arthur will be the principal witnesses. Of course, questions may arise involving others, but that is the plan for tomorrow.

Thank you very much, gentlemen.

I am sorry to have imposed on you for so long.

(Whereupon at 2 p.m., the hearing was adjourned to reconvene, Wednesday, February 18, 1970, at 10 a.m.) {p.86}

{Page 86 is blank} {p.87}

__________

February 17 1970 hearing (pages 1-86) {403kb}

February 18 1970 hearing (pages 87-162) {356kb}

February 19 1970 hearing (pages 163-256) {417kb}

February 20 1970 hearing (pages 257-444) {875kb}

March 3 1970 hearing (pages 445-508) {327kb}

March 4 1970 hearing (pages 509-568) {301kb}

March 17 1970 hearing (pages 569-634) {316kb}

March 19 1970 hearing (pages 635-700) {319kb}

Appendix (pages 701-748) {287kb}

 

 

Source: The printed hearings (cited below).

By CJHjr: Photocopied at 141%, scanned, converted to text (OCR: FineReader 6.0), formatted (xhtml/css), links, text {in braces}, text beside a green bar |, text in yellow boxes, highlighting, bold-face, bold-italics, added paragraphing (for ease of reading) marked with this trailing paragraph symbol: .

This document: February 17 1970 hearing (pages 1-86), Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970 {58.4mb.pdf, source} “Hearings on Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Program” (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 17, 18, 19, 20, and March 3, 4, 17, 19, 1970, and Appendix, 7+750 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/17, CIS: 71 S381-2, OCLC: 119418, LCCN: 76610214 pf, DL, WorldCat}.

Next: February 18 1970 hearing (pages 87-162) {335kb}.

See also:

The second Phoenix hearings: U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information, Hearings, July 15 {a.m., p.m.}, 16, 19, 21, and August 2 1971, 4+362 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.G 74/7:V 67/4, CIS: 72 H401-3, OCLC: 235387, LCCN: 71616178 pf, DL, WorldCat}. Ensuing report: U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-2, House Report No. 92-1610, House Committee on Government Operations, October 17 1972, 5+107 pages) {SuDoc: [Y 1.1/8:]92-2:H.RP.1610, Serial Set: 12976-6, CIS: 72 H403-19, OCLC: 540690, LCCN: 72603272 pf, WorldCat} {Full text: pages 1-46 2.4mb.pdf, pages 47-97 2.8mb.pdf, pages 99-107 501kb.pdf, omitting page 98 and repeating page 107, instead, at the start}.
The third Phoenix hearings: Nomination of William E. Colby to be Director of Central Intelligence (U.S. Congress 93-1, Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearings, July 2, 20 {a.m., p.m.}, 25, 1973, 3+186 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.AR 5/3:C 67/3, CIS: 73 S201-27, OCLC: 800312, LCCN: 73603022 pf, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: William E. Colby, Robert F. Drinan, Samuel A. Adams, Paul Sakwa, David S. Harrington, Kenneth B. Osborn.
Vietnam Policy Proposals: Hearings on nine proposed items of legislation to end the U.S. war in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 3, 4, 5, and March 16, 1970, 5+405 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/16, CIS: 70 S381-7, OCLC: 78825, LCCN: 74606991 pf, DL, WorldCat}.
National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes, Washington D.C., December 1-3 1970), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 4238-4271 (U.S. Congress 92-1, March 1 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.4, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., Mike McCusker, Daniel K. Amigone, Greg Motoka, Kenneth Barton Osborn, Norman Kiger, Gail Graham, Steve Noetzel, Edward Murphy, Daniel Alfiero, Louis Paul Font, Robert Master, Peter Norman Martinsen, T. Griffiths Ellison, Ed Melton, Chuck Hamilton, Lee Meyrowitz, Gordon S. Livingston, Greg Turgeon, Richard Altenberger, Bob Connelly, Robert Lifton, Chaim Shatan, Donald Engel, Gary Thamer, Steven Hassett, Kenneth Campbell, Sam Rankin, Phillip Wingenbach, Tod Ensign, Larry Rottmann, Robert Osman.
Winter Soldier Investigation (Vietnam Veterans Against the War Inc., Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.8, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}; 117 Congressional Record E 2825-2936 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6-? 1971, Daily Edition (green bound)) {SuDoc: X/A.92/1:117/???-???, ISSN: 0363-7239, LCCN: 80646573 pf, OCLC: 02437919, GPOCat, paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}.
American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1971 (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments, Hearings, March 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, April 1, 6, 20 {vvaw}, 1971, 9+583 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/1:P 93/4/971/PT.1, CIS: 71 H381-9, OCLC: 15634210, LCCN: 77612471 pf, WorldCat}, witness: Larry Rottmann (volunteer coordinator, Vietnam Veterans Against the War), April 20 1971 hearing, pages 353-423 {3.2mb.pdf}, at pages 406-423. CIS: “Description of charged mistreatment of prisoners in South Vietnam by American forces; report of receiving Officers Candidate School instruction on the use of torture.”

link

Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia {44.14mb.pdf, source} “Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Ninety-Second Congress, First Session, on S. 376, S. 974, S.J. Res. 82, S.J. Res. 89, S. Con. Res. 17, S. Res. 62, and S. Res. 66” (U.S. Congress 92-1, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, April 20-May 27 1971: “April 20, 21 and 22, 28, May 3, 11, 12, 13, 25, 26 and 27, 1971,” 7+726+12 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:AS 4/13, CIS: 71 S381-18, OCLC: 198272, LCCN: 79614140 pf, DL, WorldCat}, witness: John Kerry (VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War), Thursday April 22 1971, 11:05am-1:00pm, pages 179-210 {3.1mb.pdf}.
House Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Congressmen Jonathon Bingham and Paul Findley, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 13104-13118 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 3 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.10, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Larry Rottmann, Forest Lindley, Les Johnson, Arthur Egendorf, Kip A. Kypriandes, Phillip Lowley, Vinny Giardina, Michael Paul McCusker, William W. Lemmer, Alex Prim, Robert McLaughlin, Jack Smith, David B. Maize.
Senate Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Senator George McGovern, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, Senate, Room G-103 New Senate Office Building), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 15392-15405 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 17 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.12, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Scott Camil, Vinny Giardina, Melville L. Stephens, Basil Paquet, Joe Nielsen, Dale Granata, Everett Carson, Forrest Lindley Jr., Samuel Miller, David A. Lamenzo, Jon Bjornson, Ken Provan.
Ad Hoc Hearings on Command Responsibility for War Atrocities in Vietnam {copy} (U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums, presiding, April 26, 27, 28, 29, 1971, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building), transcript, The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam: An Inquiry into Command Responsibility in Southeast Asia (New York, Vintage Books, 1972, 13+355 pages) {LCCN: 79039897 pf, ISBN: 0394717678, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Five West Point graduates (Fred Laughlin, Gordon Livingston {Iraq, copy}, Robert B. Johnson, Greg Hayward, Ron Bartek, Michael O'Mera), five former military intelligence special agents and POW interrogators {omitted from the linked source}, ten former Americal Division members (Gary Battles, Charles David Locke, Terry Mullen, Steve Padoris, Daniel S. Notley, John Beitzel, Guadalupe G. Villarreal, Daniel Barnes, Thomas Cole, William Toffling), overview of air war, pacification, and forced urbanization (John Sack, Kenneth Campbell, Randy Floyd, Elliot L Meyrowitz).
Bertrand Russell Tribunal, “International War Crimes Tribunal” (Stockholm Sweden, May 2-10 1967; Roskilde Denmark, November 20 – December 1 1967).
Tiger Force: “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths: Tiger Force, an elite fighting unit in Vietnam, left a trail of atrocities in that country that have been concealed from the public for three decades.” (The Blade, Toledo Ohio, October 22 2003, February 15, March 28, April 6, May 2, May 12 2004).

This document is not copyrighted and may be freely copied.

CJHjr

Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

Posted May 17 2004. Updated May 17 2009.

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