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Feb. 18 1970 hearing (pages 87-162)
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}

{February 18 1970 hearing, pages 87-162}

 

{p.87}

Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970

_______________

Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Program

_______________

Wednesday, February 18, 1970

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


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

Present: Senators Fulbright, Gore, Aiken, Case, Cooper, and Javits.

OPENING STATEMENT

The Chairman. The committee will come to order.

The Committee on Foreign Relations is continuing today its hearings on the CORDS program. Our first witness scheduled today was Mr. John Paul Vann, Deputy for CORDS to the Commanding General of the Delta Military Assistance Command, but Mr. Colby, who was our main witness yesterday, would like to say a few preliminary words, so we actually will start with him. Then, following Mr. Vann, we will hear testimony by Mr. Hawthorne Mills, a Foreign Service officer now serving as a province senior adviser in Vietnam, and by Maj. James F. Arthur of the U.S. Army now serving as a district senior adviser.

Mr. Colby, I believe you wish to make some preliminary remarks.

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) — Resumed

Mr. Colby. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to point out to the committee, if I may, sir, the locations of the three gentlemen who will be speaking today. Mr. John Vann will speak for the whole delta area of the country, IV Corps. Mr. Hawthorne Mills will be speaking for the Province of Tuyen Duc, a mountain province in the center of South Vietnam; and Maj. James Arthur will be speaking for Binh Chanh District in Gia Dinh Province.

Mr. Chairman, I thought I would show you an organizational chart showing how the Vietnamese Government and American advisory group work together at the various levels since this will be the focus of today’s discussions.

I have a statement for the record on the organizational aspects of the CORDS program, which has been provided to your staff, {p.88} Mr. Chairman. I also have another statement for the record on the development aspect of pacification and development which has been provided to your staff.

(The statements appear at pp.701 and 708.)

STAFF STRUCTURE OF PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The Central Pacification and Development Council of the Vietnamese Government is the central national staff and program. The chairman of it is the President. Its membership includes all of the ministers and the chiefs of a number of the services — the Chairman of the Joint General Staff, the Director General of Police, and so forth. The Central Council has a staff of its own.

On the American side you have the Military Assistance Command of which CORDS is a part. The red lines here show the contact made at different levels with the Vietnamese Government.

The various other ministries also have contact with our American staff.

If you go down the Vietnamese chain of command, you go through the Joint General Staff to the corps level for the military. For the pacification program there is a regional pacification and development council, which constitutes the regional representatives of all the different ministries which are members of the national council.

At the corps level we have a single command structure. The commander is the senior American military officer on the American side. He has a deputy for pacification called a deputy for CORDS, who is in all cases a civilian. Mr. Vann is the representative from the corps level here today.

Below the field force commander, who is at the same time the senior adviser to that corps area, there are three subdivisions of responsibilities: The direct command of American units, the advisory relationship with the Vietnamese regular armed forces and the CORDS pacification advisory structure, which exists in the various provinces.

At the province level down below the corps there is a senior adviser. As I indicated yesterday, about half of these are civilians and about half of them are military.

Mr. Mills is our representative of this level today.

On the Vietnamese side the province chief wears two hats: the chief of his province in a civil sense and also the commander of that section in the military sense.

At the next level down, the district, we have a district senior adviser who works with the district chief and subsector commander on the Vietnamese side. Maj. James Arthur is the representative on that level.

I think, Mr. Chairman, you would be most interested in listening to Mr. Vann describe the activities of the program at the corps level.

The Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Colby. It would appear to be a very thorough organization. I can’t see any level you have left out.

Mr. Colby. Well, it does go a little bit below the district. We will get into that another day, sir, when we discuss our mobile advisory teams. They work down to the village in some cases.

The Chairman. You prompt me to comment that I had the idea this was a very primitive country made up of villages and Buddhist monks who went about doing good. It seems to have become very {p.89} complicated. You wouldn’t say that we are Americanizing it, would you?

Mr. Colby. No, sir; most of this structure existed under the French. They have some ability to create bureaucratic structures also.

The Chairman. I see. We are not the only one.

Mr. Vann, we are very pleased to have you. I believe you have been in Vietnam a very long time and I have been told by members of the staff that you probably are the best known American official in the country.

For the record, would you mind verifying that and saying a little bit about yourself and your experience before you testify?

Testimony of
John Paul Vann, Deputy for CORDS, IV Corps (Delta Region)

Mr. Vann. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BACKGROUND OF MR. VANN

With the exception of 1964, I have been in Vietnam since 1962 working as an adviser in the field.

I was over there as a military senior adviser at the corps level and then as a military senior adviser for more than a year to the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Seventh Division. In that capacity I had the responsibility for about half of the same area I now have pacification responsibility for in the advisory sense.

I returned there in 1965 as a civilian. I have been there since that time as a member of the Agency for International Development, working in the field of civilian advisory effort until 1967 and then in the combined military-civilian effort from that date until now.

The Chairman. Where did you come from, Mr. Vann? Where were you born?

Mr. Vann. Sir, my home is Virginia, but after I retired from the Army in 1963, I settled in Colorado.

The Chairman. Did you attend the Academy?

Mr. Vann. No, sir; I was an enlisted man in the Army. I went through flight training in the Army Air Corps and became commissioned, and stayed in the Army from then until I retired.

The Chairman. Do you have a prepared statement?

Mr. Vann. Yes, I do have one, sir.

The Chairman. Will you proceed with that, please.

Mr. Vann. Would you like for me to read, Mr. Chairman?

The Chairman. Yes, please.

Mr. Vann. I am John Paul Vann, the Deputy for CORDS to the Commanding General, Delta Military Assistance Command, a subordinate organization of the Military Assistance Command/Vietnam (MACV), and one with responsibility for the U.S. advisory effort in the IV Corp Tactical Zone (CTZ).

DESCRIPTION OF IV CORP TACTICAL ZONE (DELTA)

The IV Corp Tactical Zone, also known as the delta, encompasses an area of 14,240 square miles extending south and west of Saigon, a {p.90} distance of approximately 180 miles to the Camau Peninsula, and being approximately 185 miles at its widest point on the east-west axis. The 16 provinces are politically subdivided into 96 districts and these districts in turn into 725 villages and 4,205 hamlets. The major industry is farming and the delta produces about 80 percent of all rice grown in South Vietnam. Additionally, it is the major producer of fresh water fish, exporting over 30,000 tons to Saigon annually, and pork, the principal meat consumed in Vietnam. To a large extent, the 3 million people living in the Saigon/Cholon area are dependent on the delta for their food.

Although the road network in the delta is not extensive, it is one that has secure roads to all 16 of the provincial capitals and to the majority of the district capitals. I might add that since July 1969, for the first time since 1961, all provincial capitals can be reached by road with unescorted single vehicle traffic during daylight hours. The principal routes of communication in the delta, however, are the canals and waterways. There are over 2,400 miles of major waterways in the delta with the majority being secure during daylight hours.

In addition, there are approximately 23,000 miles of minor waterways.

MOST OF DELTA CIVILIAN POPULATION LIVE IN PEACE

An interesting fact about the delta is that although the GVN has a lower percentage of control of the population than in the other three corps, most of the civilian population in the delta lives in peace. I recently had an opportunity to demonstrate this to Senator Javits when he accompanied Ambassador Colby and me on a visit to refugee returnee areas, which only 6 months ago had been under Vietcong control and devoid of population. For the past 4 months there had not been a single Vietcong initiated incident in the several hamlets we visited. When looking at the delta in its entirety, we have an average of 25 enemy initiated attacks during each 24-hour period against the more than 4,000 hamlets, 3,000 outposts, and 5,000 Government installations. This means that the average target for VC activity within the delta will be hit only once in a year and a half and I might add that the majority of these attacks are just harassing in nature. Actually, of course, there are many places which have never been attacked and there are a few which may be attacked four or five times a week. An example of the latter is the Tri Ton District area of Chau Doc Province. This is an area known as the Seven Mountains area.

SECURITY SITUATION IN THE DELTA

With the move into this area last spring of two of the five North Vietnamese regiments which have been deployed south to the delta, the security has deteriorated in over 30 of the hamlets around the mountains now occupied by these North Vietnamese units. Overall, however, there has been a rather tremendous improvement in security in the delta during 1969. Well over a million additional people have been brought under Government protection during this period with progress being made in all provinces. Of interest, I believe, is the fact that pacification progress continued in Dinh Tuong, Kien Hoa and {p.91} Go Cong Provinces, even after the departure of the U.S. 9th Division in August 1969, although the rate of progress was slower than when the U.S. division was present. Of really great significance regarding our operations in the delta is the fact that all the ground fighting there is now being done by Vietnamese forces and they have generally proved able to meet and defeat the enemy. It is to be noted, of course, that even after the departure of the U.S. ground forces, the Vietnamese forces in the delta have continued to have U.S. air, naval and advisory support. With that background on the delta, let me describe to you the CORDS mission in the CTZ level.

CORDS MISSION AT CTZ LEVEL

It is very similar to that at the MACV level from the standpoint of the functional responsibilities. At the CTZ level we have personnel providing advisory assistance to the Government of Vietnam in the fields of territorial security forces (RF/PF), People’s Self Defense Forces, National Police and National Police Field Forces, the Open Arms or Chieu Hoi program, the Phung Hoang (PHOENIX) program, public health, public works, refugees, economic and social development (to include agriculture and education), public administration (to include advising on the training of village and hamlet officials), and Revolutionary Development (RD) Cadre.

I directly supervise the 16 province senior advisers and prepare their efficiency reports. Within the IV CTZ, nine of my 16 province advisory teams are headed up by U.S. Army colonels or lieutenant colonels with civilian Foreign Service Officers assigned as their deputies. In the remaining seven provinces, the province senior advisor is a senior Foreign Service Officer with a colonel or lieutenant colonel serving as his deputy.

At the CTZ level, my counterpart is the Vietnamese corps commander when functioning in his role as chairman of the Corps Pacification and Development Council. As a practical matter, the majority of my advisory responsibilities are involved with advising the deputy for territorial security, a Vietnamese brigadier general who represents the commanding general, IV CTZ, on all matters involving provincial military forces and who also functions as the de facto chairman of the Corps Pacification and Development Council. This officer, Brig. Gen. Nguyen Huu Hanh, and I and our respective staffs meet formally each Monday morning for a 3-hour review of the previous week’s activities and a projection of the forthcoming week. In attendance at these meetings are approximately 20 Vietnamese military and civilian officials and 10 U.S. military and civilian officials. The officials on the Vietnamese side are the regional representatives of the central ministries in Saigon and the principal staff officers in the IV CTZ military headquarters. The Americans represented are the senior advisers to these officials. The meeting is used as a problem-solving session wherein all of the briefings and most of the discussions are by and among the Vietnamese officials — with simultaneous translation for the U.S. personnel. Prior to the meeting U.S. advisers have provided their recommendations as to discussion topics and each adviser, operating under my direction, has recommended to his Vietnamese counterpart the problem areas that should be brought {p.92} up and solutions that should be proposed. I might add here that the Vietnamese naturally do not adopt all of these.

In addition to this formal 3-hour session, I meet with General Hanh approximately 10 or 12 times a week and also correspond with him frequently, often reducing to writing the subjects that we have discussed orally. We frequently travel together to areas where there are problems to be solved and we usually see each other at one or two social functions a week. These social functions usually involve a dinner in honor of a departing adviser or a visitor to the corps, either Vietnamese or American. Although General Hanh is fluent in the English language, most of my correspondence to him is prepared in both English and Vietnamese so as to insure the maximum comprehension.

MILITARY ADVISORY RESPONSIBILITY OF CORDS

I have noticed that most visitors in Vietnam are surprised to learn that CORDS has military as well as civilian advisory responsibilities. Actually, CORDS has a considerable military advisory responsibility. For example, in the Delta Military Assistance Command, IV CTZ, the regular MACV military advisory organization numbers less than 1,000 and has advisory responsibility for 78,000 ARVN soldiers. The IV CTZ MACCORDS organization — with 234 civilian and 2,123 military advisers — has advisory responsibility for 184,000 members of the regional and popular forces, 19,000 national and combat police, and 16,000 armed RD cadre. In addition to advising these full-time military and paramilitary personnel, CORDS has advisory responsibility for a people’s self defense force armed with 104,000 rifles. Thus, you can see that the total rifle strength advised by CORDS in IV CTZ is well over 300,000 compared to the regular force strength of 78, 000. The significance of this, of course, is the overwhelming importance of providing security to the population. Without security, it is doubtful that the remaining pacification objectives can be achieved.

PROGRESS IN SECURITY AND OTHER OBJECTIVE AREAS

As I indicated earlier, we have been making progress in security, and also in our other objective areas. In 1969, over 1,260,000 of the 6 million population were added to the secure category — leaving less than 800,000 in a contested or VC-controlled status. The GVN held elections in 275 villages and in 1,700 hamlets, thus resulting in about 90 percent of all population centers having elected governments. Approximately 30,000 people came over to the government side under the Chieu Hoi program, nearly three times as many as the previous record year. We reduced the number of people in refugee status from over 220,000 to less than 35,000. Significantly, not only for the Delta but for all Vietnam, the production of rice went up nearly 25 percent, from 3.2 million metric tons to 4 million metric tons. Finally, the Government of Vietnam increased the armed strength of the people’s self defense force from 23,000 to nearly 105,000.

GVN PACIFICATION PROCESS IN THE DELTA

I would like to describe the pacification process now followed by the GVN in the delta. Determination is made approximately 6 months {p.93} in advance as to the location and extent that pacification efforts will be made. This is normally done on the basis of population density, lines of communications, economic attractiveness, availability of friendly resources, and size and strength of the enemy forces. Initially, the regular forces of ARVN operate in the area, breaking up the main forces of the enemy and scattering them. Next, still under a regular force shield, an RF company will come in and build a platoon-size outpost; in a really tough, long-held area, it might be a company-sized outpost. Eventually the regular force departs, usually a company at a time. Meanwhile, operating under an appointed hamlet or village government, attempts are made to recruit and send for 13 weeks of training a 35-man PF platoon.

I would like to depart from my statement for a moment to say this is an attempt to recruit locally people who already live in the hamlet, who become members of this Popular Force platoon.

Concurrently, National Police Field Forces are brought in and efforts are made to neutralize the infrastructure — the so-called hidden government of the enemy. I’d like to emphasize here that we stress neutralization of the enemy infrastructure through capture or inducement to rally under the Chieu Hoi program. A live VCI (Viet Cong Infrastructure) is of infinitely greater value than a dead one, since his capture or defection imperils the entire enemy organization in the area.

When adequate security exists, an election is held. This may or may not be before the recruited PF have returned. Some elections are quite good, some quite bad. Even a bad one — that is, not enough candidates to really make it a contest — is worthwhile, since it is a learning process and usually assures that the next one will be more valid — and that the elected official will be more responsive to the voters.

All during this time — depending both on the resources available and the real security — efforts are being made to encourage economic progress through group endeavors with some GVN assistance. Part of the organization effort is also diverted toward security, with significant numbers of the population becoming members of the People’s Self Defense Forces. This program, as you know, is not entirely voluntary, but a real attempt is made to make it popular through demonstration of the fact that improved security is nearly always followed by economic improvement.

Eventually, as these various objectives are achieved at the village or hamlet level, and as adjacent areas are brought under government control, law and order becomes a function of uniformed police with assistance from the PSDF. Some areas, such as those having a contiguous boundary with Cambodia, cannot improve their security to this extent since enemy forces lurk nearby in the safe haven afforded and always pose a threat. For example, there are approximately three North Vietnamese regiments just across the border from our IV zone now.

This process I have just decribed {sic: described} occurred in over a thousand hamlets in the delta in 1969. Most hamlets targeted achieved their minimum objectives; some surpassed them; others are still trying.

Gentlemen, I will attempt to answer any questions you may have that deal with my area of responsibility.

The Chairman. Thank, you Mr. Vann. {p.94}

Senator Aiken, do you have any questions?

Senator Aiken. No, Mr. Chairman, not of this witness, but I know Ambassador Colby is here. I was involved in meetings here on the Hill and downtown yesterday and I could not spend much time with this committee. I wonder if I might ask him two or three questions which I would have asked him yesterday had I been attending strictly to the business of this committee. Is that all right with you?

The Chairman. Certainly it is all right with me.

EFFECT OF ARMING SOUTH VIETNAMESE VILLAGERS ON PRESIDENT THIEU’S STRENGTH

Senator Aiken. We waited quite a long time to arm the villagers in South Vietnam. Do you think that President Thieu is stronger for our having taken this step or does it constitute possibly a threat to him because of his political opposition there?

Mr. Colby. I think he is considerably stronger for having taken it, Senator. There was some question, not so much in his mind as in the minds of some of the subordinate officials, that it might be a dangerous thing to arm the people in this fashion, but the President and Prune Minister have particularly supported this idea very strongly and have even forced it on some of the middle level officials, insisting that they go ahead and do it.

Senator Aiken. They don’t think that it weakens their position at all?

Mr. Colby. I think the result has been that it strengthens it.

POLITICAL ATTITUDES IN SAIGON AND COUNTRYSIDE

Senator Aiken. Going over your remarks yesterday, I noticed you spoke of the new attitudes in the countryside, which the witness this morning has also covered. What about the political atmosphere in Saigon? Do the politicians there reflect a similar will to take responsibility for their own future that you indicated that the countryside people would take?

Mr. Colby. This has not yet happened, Senator. The fact of the matter is the political picture in Vietnam has to be looked at in two different levels. One level is the elite, more or less French educated, traditional higher class. These people for the hundred years of French occupation were educated away from their own national basis. They were taught French ideas, French philosophies, French thoughts, and so forth, and in the course of it they also picked up some of the concepts of French democratic government structure and political activity.

The governments, however, over that time were authoritarian. Therefore, the only form of political life for many, many years was conspiratorial. There was a premium on small groups gathering together and dividing up into very small elements the political pie that was available.

The countryside had been pretty well left out of that process. The countryside was the other class level of Vietnam which had continued on its rural ways and was pretty well left alone. It was not a substantial political factor until the more recent years when it became obvious that the people were a major element of the whole war effort that is being waged there. {p.95}

I believe the effect of President Thieu’s policies, of the policies that the government is conducting today, is to reach around that upper class at the Saigon political level to try to establish a political base out in the countryside and to build up from that political base a new foundation for the state and for the constitutional government. This is consistent with what the constitution says and it is also a very definite program that the President has started. He started with the village level this past year. During this coming year they have planned to have some provincial council elections, to step from the village level to the province level in this building of the structure from the base.

The Saigon political scene is not all that different from what it has been over the years though, Senator.

Senator Aiken. In applying the progressive program to the whole country, he is facing more or less the same situation that we are here With the legislation now before the Senate where some people think the law applying to integration of schools ought to cover all the country instead of part of the country. You don’t mind that; do you?

The Chairman. No.

LAND REFORM

Senator Aiken. Has the South Vietnamese legislative body taken any action yet on land reform, which has been promised and postponed from time to time? I believe the last promise was that action would be taken this month, about the first of February.

Mr. Colby. The legislature has passed a version of land reform through one of the Houses. It is still in the Senate today. I don’t believe they have actually passed it. The Government has urged a certain land reform which would be a very advanced one.

There are some questions as to the degree to which the legislature will accept the Government’s law.

Senator Aiken. Do you mean whether the Senate will accept it?

Mr. Colby. Yes. Well, there were some modifications made by the lower House as well, Senator.

Senator Aiken. I see.

Mr. Colby. This is a matter for the calendar. I would not want to venture a prediction as to exactly when they will pass it, but I believe that there is an intention to do it in the reasonably near future, this spring.

POLICY CONTROL IN WASHINGTON

Senator Aiken. You explained why it was necessary to centralize control of the pacification program under the military in Saigon and you did a very good job. Do you think that here in Washington policy control should also be centralized and if so, where? If you don’t want to answer that question you don’t have to.

Mr. Colby. I think that is a little out of my line, Senator. I have a problem of putting together out there the different sources of finance, the different sources of personnel and so forth, but it is a normal kind of a bureaucratic problem, and I can adjust to the way Washington decides to do its business. {p.96}

PHASING OUT OF U.S. CIVILIAN PERSONNEL

Senator Aiken. We have armed the villagers and they are now in a position to have some say over their own future. Will the time come when we should begin to phase out our civilian personnel as well as our military personnel in South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. That time will come. It has already begun, Senator.

Senator Aiken. It has begun.

Mr. Colby. We have cut our civilian staff somewhat during this past year. We have in mind to reduce gradually the civilian participation as well as the military participation in the advisory effort. But frankly, the advisory effort I consider less of a priority for reduction than I do the combat forces. Any way in which we can assist the early relief of combat forces by a little more advisory effort I think is well worth it.

Senator Aiken. As I say, I went over the statement of yesterday, I thought the statement was good as was the manner in which you answered questions from the dais. I have no more questions at this time, Mr. Chairman.

I was glad to get the questioning in because I have two other committee meetings going on now, but I am going to stay awhile.

COST OF PACIFICATION EFFORT

The Chairman. Mr. Colby, while we are on that, I believe we requested yesterday that you be prepared to put into the record the cost of the program for which you are responsible in Vietnam.

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir. I have some general figures. I am prepared to fill these out for the record if you wish. But, as I said in my opening statement, the appropriation from the Department of Defense consitututes {sic: constitutes} $729 million for 1970.

The Chairman. 1970.

Mr. Colby. The appropriation to the Agency for International Development, which includes both the direct dollar contributions and the financing of counterpart, amounts to a total of $162 million for 1970. Thus there is a total U.S. contribution to this program of $891 million.

On the Government of Vietnam side of this program, the programs associated with the pacification effort cost the Piaster equivalent of $627 million.

Most of that total on both the Vietnamese and on the American side are military expenditures, sir. These constitute the arms for the popular and regional forces and also the salaries of the American advisers on the military side. They also constitute on the Vietnamese side the salaries for the Vietnamese Regional and Popular forces.

The Chairman. Does the Department of Defense figure of $729 million include all their civic action programs in Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. No, I do not think so.

The Chairman. It does not.

Mr. Colby. No, sir.

The Chairman. There are some others under the Marines and other divisions. {p.97}

Mr. Colby. It is not that so much, sir. It is programs conducted by a unit in some area. It might be supported by some local funds or it might be supported from central level funds.

The Chairman. I remember Secretary McNamara told the committee once that on their off hours most of the soldiers built Sunday schools.

Mr. Colby. Well, they do lots of things.

The Chairman. That is what he said. That would cost a lot of money, of course. That would cost some money that is not included in this.

Mr. Colby. A considerable amount of it is included, Senator. I wouldn’t say it was all Sunday schools, but they do a certain amount of civic action work around the bases, the airbase areas and so forth.

The Chairman. I have not only an interest in knowing about this program, but by coincidence I have four constituents here in the room this morning who are architects and engineers. Having you and Mr. Vann describe the program there, gives them a much more persuasive reason as to why they can’t get any money for building in Arkansas than I can give them. I was very pleased to have you prepared to give it this morning so I won’t have to burden them now with my own story as to why there is so little money for construction of houses or for Government operations or for anything else, for that matter, because here in 1 year there is $891 million, almost $900 million. It is a very dramatic figure if you could translate it into what they do in these smaller communities of this country.

 

PURPOSE OF CORDS

Coming back to you, Mr. Vann, I can see you have a very great interest in this work. You have been there since 1962.

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. I take it you like this work.

Mr. Vann. I consider the work very important, sir.

The Chairman. It is very interesting to you; isn’t it?

Mr. Vann. I also find it very interesting; yes, sir.

The Chairman. I think I detected that from your manner and the way you spoke. I would assume that you have requested a continued tour of duty in Vietnam. Is that correct?

Mr. Vann. I am scheduled to stay there until February of next year, sir.

The Chairman. By that I mean you do it willingly and voluntarily.

Mr. Vann. All civilians in Vietnam are there voluntarily, sir.

The Chairman. Do you feel that you are creating a bastion of strength for our country in Southeast Asia?

Mr. Vann. A bastion of what, sir?

The Chairman. Strength.

Mr. Vann. I don’t look upon it in that manner, sir.

The Chairman. How do you look upon it?

Mr. Vann. I look upon it as one of helping, as an agent of my Government, to fulfill an obligation that my Government considers important.

The Chairman. Would you clarify that a bit. Of what obligation are you speaking? {p.98}

Mr. Vann. I believe, sir, that based upon previous decisions made by several administrations the United States has deemed that it has an interest in that area of the world, an interest in preventing that area of the world from being involuntarily absorbed by other political ideologies.

The Chairman. What other political ideologies?

Mr. Vann. Specifically communism.

The Chairman. Do you feel that most of the people in the delta are very strongly motivated by ideological considerations?

Mr. Vann. I do not, sir. But I feel that the leaders of the enemy are very strongly motivated by Communist ideology.

The Chairman. What is the attitude of the people who are under your charge?

Mr. Vann. Sir, the only people who are under my charge are the American advisers and I think most of them share my views as to our commitment there.

MR. VANN’S ATTITUDE TOWARD VIETNAM WAR

The Chairman. There was a recent article in the Chicago Tribune that said that you were once quite pessimistic — I believe it uses the words “a confirmed pessimist” — but that you are now an optimist. Is that correct? Were you ever a pessimist about this area?

Mr. Vann. I prefer to think, sir, that I have been realistic about Vietnam, that I was not pessimistic from 1962 until 1968 and that I have not been optimistic from 1968 until now. Up until 1968 I was highly dissatisfied with the manner in which the war was being conducted in Vietnam, and I did not anticipate that it was going to be successful.

Since 1968 I have become increasingly convinced that, with the changes that have been made not only by our side but by the enemy side, our objectives in Vietnam and, coincidentally, the objectives of the majority of the Vietnamese people, will be achieved.

U.S. OBJECTIVES IN VIETNAM

The Chairman. You come back again to the objectives. I don’t like to belabor this matter, but you bring it up. What are these objectives that are going to be achieved?

Mr. Vann. The objectives, as I understand them, sir, exist first of all because of our past involvement in not only our SEATO organization there in Southeast Asia, but all over the world. In many parts of the world we have to some extent been committed to assist people who are now free to remain free from Communist aggression or aggression of any other sort that is externally imposed on their country.

I realize that these commitments may have been made at a time when the environment of the world was much different than it is now.

I am quite aware that as time goes on the justification that once may have existed may have to some extent evaporated.

I consider that we did go to Vietnam for two purposes: First, to help the people there in response to their plea not to be overrun by communism. And, secondly — and this is my own interpretation, {p.99} nothing I have been told — to prevent further Communist expansion into Southeast Asia.

CHANGES CONTRIBUTING TO SUCCESS OF PRESENT PROGRAM

The Chairman. And the way to prevent that is the program that you are now following, and it is successful.

Mr. Vann. I think, sir, that the program we have been following for the last 18 months has been the most successful that we have had in Vietnam. I think it has been successful through a combination of a change on our part and, quite possibly more significantly, a change in the nature of the war and in the nature of the enemy.

This was a war, sir, which at one time, in my judgment, was an insurgency, a civil war. That has largely gone by the board. It is largely now a war of invasion. It was originally a very difficult war for us to become involved in or to assist because at one time, certainly in 1965, a goodly percentage, possibly even a majority, of the rural population was supporting the National Liberation Front.

Today, not only in my judgment but in the judgment of people I have often relied upon — missionaries and long-term residents in Vietnam, Vietnamese, ex-Vietminh, people not now in the Government — the National Liberation Front enjoys the support of less than 10 percent of the population of South Vietnam.

This doesn’t mean that 30 to 40 percent switched sides. It merely means that 30 to 40 percent that did support the other side no longer support them. It means that they are much more susceptible to the Government’s approach than they had been in the past.

However, I don’t think we deceive ourselves into thinking that there is going to be any enthusiastic following of the Government, just as there never was really an enthusiastic following of the NLF. People want a better government. That is why the majority of them joined the other side. It is not that they believed in communism. They wanted better government.

Since 1965, through a series of steps, they have been gradually getting better government from the Government of Vietnam and less of a basis for thinking they would get it from the NLF. From Tet of 1968 on — because Tet was very definitely a turning point in this war — it became very obvious to the majority of the population that they had no opportunity at all to get the type of things that they wanted — which, as I understand them, are peace and prosperity — from the Communists. They did in large numbers, from Tet of 1968, reject the enemy. They rejected him because of something that had been changing since 1965, when he decided to escalate the war. They rejected him because he had changed from being a South Vietnamese ofttimes a relative, to being a North Vietnamese invader. That happened in I, II and III Corps, like a red flag coming down the peninsula. I could watch the change because I was there.

It started happening in 1969 in IV Corps. It has made our job infinitely easier. It is just so much easier now to fight a North Vietnamese enemy who doesn’t have support of the population, who is totally relying upon a line of supply and communications, who is an alien in the area, who does not have intelligence penetrations and who fights in a conventional manner. This is infinitely easier than it {p.100} is to fight a population supporting a soldier who is a farmer by day and an enemy by night.

That part of the war is largely behind us. We are now involved primarily in a conventional war on the other side and conversely we have essentially stolen the enemy’s thunder by engaging in a people’s war on our side. This is what has made such a difference in Vietnam. That is why for the last 18 months I have been called an optimist in Washington.

RESULTS OF TET ATTACK

I came back here in July of 1968 and said I recognized that a lot of bad things happened as a result of Tet. I know the tremendous psychological defeat, the traumatic shock it was to the American people. But a lot of good has come out of it. It has made the war much more black and white. It has caused the Government of Vietnam to consider much more seriously that its very survival is at stake. It has caused them to have mobilization. It has gotten them to take the programs and the actions and the steps that we have been advocating for years. Suddenly I began to see the prospect of a really tremendous breakthrough.

I might say, sir that officials in our Government were almost incredulous that between December of 1967, when I was back here and was considered quite pessimistic, and July of 1968, after the Tet attack, I had suddenly changed and said there was an opportunity to achieve our objectives. But it was quite sincerely the first time that I saw that opportunity during the more than 7 years I have been involved in it.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE CONCERNING MR. VANN’S VIEWS

The Chairman. I think that is very encouraging.

Do you think it would be useful to insert in the record an article about you in the Chicago Tribune of November 10, by Samuel Jameson, simply enlarging upon your views as to why you are more optimistic? Are you familiar with that article?

Mr. Vann. Mr. Chairman, I believe I have read it, but I don’t remember the details; I am certainly agreeable if the chairman says it is all right, sir.

The Chairman. It really, I think, confirms and enlarges upon what you said; so we will insert it. The basis for my questions was that you had changed your views, which you confirmed in a very eloquent manner.

(The article referred to follows:)

_______________

[From the Chicago Tribune, Nov. 10, 1969]

PACIFICATION HEAD IN VIET SEES HOPE

Samuel Jameson, chief of the Tokyo bureau of The Tribune, has traveled to South Viet Nam to assess the situation there at a time when momentous steps affecting that country’s future are being discussed and taken. Here he reports on the pacification program in the Mekong delta.

(By Samuel Jameson)

CAN THO, Viet Nam, Nov. 9 — John Paul Vann, who heads the 3,400-man pacification advisory team in the Mekong delta, once was a confirmed pessimist concerning the progress of the war in Viet Nam. {p.101}

In 1963, Vann, then a lieutenant colonel serving as chief adviser to Vietnamese troops in the delta, resigned from the army to criticize the late President Ngo Dinh Diem’s conduct of the war.

In 1965, Vann, who returned to Viet Nam as an American aid adviser in Hau Nghia province west of Saigon, told this reporter that the Vietnamese government’s efforts to extend its control and promote economic progress in the countryside were a total failure. He estimated at the time that less than 5 per cent of Hau Nghia province had been pacified.

“There is such a credibility gap that many of us are gun shy about saying anything optimistic,” he said in an interview here. “Nonetheless, there has been quite a change.”

Vann’s title is deputy director of the fourth corps Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support [C. O. R. D. S.] team, which is headed by an army major general. Vann bears primary responsibility for directing 94 American pacification advisory teams, while the general devotes most of his time to advising Vietnamese army troops. No American combat troops are stationed in the delta.

“In 1965 it was a safe bet that as many people supported the Communists as supported the government,” Vann said.

“If an election had been held at that time, the Viet Cong probably could have won more than 35 per cent of the votes and become the dominant group in South Viet Nam.”

TELLS OF CHANGE

In an election today, the Communists would not get more than 15 per cent of the vote, he asserted.

Vann qualified his optimism by saying that the change represented only a marginal upturn for the government after years of sliding downhill. The big difference came from a drastic decline in the popularity of the Communists, he said.

“Despite the obvious international propaganda victory the Communists won with their 1968 Tet offensive, they suffered a defeat in South Viet Nam,” he said.

Not only did they violate a religious holiday, thus alienating a majority of the population, but they also lost about half of their combat leadership, he said.

“All of the critics who yell ‘doomsday’ talk about the government abandoning the countryside to defend itself in the cities. That is true,” Vann said. “But the enemy also abandoned the countryside to attack the cities.”

Vann said he wanted to see the government move its forces back into the countryside as early as the summer of 1968. Even tho Saigon failed to act until November, 1968, it found communist forces far below expectations. As a result, government control of the countryside was shot up in unprecedented way,” he said.

The pacification expert admitted the claim that the government controlled 90.5 per cent of the population was misleading.

“It is absolutely wrong to look at the statistics in that way,” he said. Favorable biases built into the American conducted hamlet evaluation survey make it impossible to look at the statistical findings as absolutes, he said.

“In the delta, you can say accurately that the government now controls 2 million more people, or 38 per cent more of the population, than it did in February, 1968.”

Nationwide, control has gone up 20 per cent in the last year, he added.

Vann said he relied on the accuracy of the trends shown in the evaluation system because “for the first time the Vietnamese can’t write their own report card.”

“In all of the other program? since 1961, it was possible for the Vietnamese province chief to certify that he had completed his objectives by just going thru the motions. Nothing really substantial had to be done,” he said.

Vann said the upswing in the delta — where 5 million people, or 35 per cent of South Viet Nam’s population, live — has produced these results:

1. For the first time in this decade road travel to every provincial capital is possible without a military escort.

2. A still classified action, which will be announced eventually, has set a milestone in terms of nation-wide defense.

3. The Vietnamese 21st division is now engaging the Communists in the U Minh forest in the southernmost portion of the delta, which has been a communist stronghold for 25 years.

4. The numbers of people from whose ranks the Viet Cong can recruit guerrillas and seek support has diminished by about three-fourths, from 2-1/2 million to 700,000. “Since May the Communists have been importing North Vietnamese into the delta, whereas they used to be able to export guerrillas from the delta to other areas of South Viet Nam,” Vann said. {p.102}

5. A village development program, unknown in previous years, has trained 17,000 village officials in the delta since the beginning of 1969 — more than all village level training ever conducted thruout South Viet Nam in all previous years.

As an example of the increased security, Vann pointed to a trip made on Nov. 2 — by Ambassador William Colby, director of the nation-wide C.O.R.D.S. program. The ambassador drove from Saigon, then joined Vann in a road canal river trip to My Tho, and returned to Saigon by automobile. The trip lasted five hours, Vann said.

Vann’s opinions on the efficiency of the Vietnamese bureaucracy have changed less drastically than his outlook on the progress of the war in general.

“All of the things they do are still going wrong, but they are going wrong by American standards,” be said.

Vann said the government of President Nguyen Van Thieu has proved itself more capable than any of its predecessors since at least 1959. It has survived.

_______________

REASONS FOR PROGRESS IN SOUTH VIETNAM

The Chairman. Then the objective of preventing the NLF or the Communists from prevailing is being achieved and you attribute it largely I assume, to the pacification program and the change in our strategy. Did you mean the stopping of the bombing in the north or what did you mean by the change we went through that was significant?

Mr. Vann. Two things, sir; if I might refer to the first part of your question. One of the reasons that we have had the opportunity to achieve progress is because the bulk of the NLF, although headed by Communists and serving Communist purposes, by very great good fortune are not Communists. They are followers. In other words, the NLF Communist leadership enlisted in the countryside for their soldiers a large number of people who were simply unhappy with the government and used this as a way to express it. So right there was the base which we could always tap. About 95 percent of the people in South Vietnam we have recognized since 1962 were potentially our friends and allies if they could get what they were fighting for, which was better government.

CHANGE IN STRATEGY

If I may, I will address myself to the second portion of your question as to change in our strategy. The change essentially has come about by the recognition that to provide security for a population you have to do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 31 days a month.

In all pacification programs in which I participated from 1962 up until Tet of 1968, we would start off every year with about 4,500 hamlets under government control. Each year we would program, depending on how optimistic we were, a thousand to 2,000 additional hamlets to be brought under government control. Each year we would go out and would achieve 59 to 75 percent of that objective, but amazingly at the end of each year we would still have only 4,500 hamlets. The reason for that was quite obvious. The reason for it can be compared to the air in the balloon. If you expand a balloon in one direction you do it only at the cost of contracting it in another. The reason that we were not being successful on pacification is that we were going out and occupying a hamlet for 2 or 3 months, going through the routine of pacifying it, but then moving on to another hamlet and leaving the first one empty. {p.103}

In 1968 that fact was brought home very startlingly by Tet. From that time on as we began our pacification, we did so with the recognition that you had to leave permanent security in the hamlet.

For example, in the Delta in 1969 we pacified 1,000 additional hamlets in a 12-months period. Coincidentally, we recruited and trained 1,000 additional RF and PF platoons and put them in those hamlets. They are still there. That also, sir, is why, unlike any other pacification program, this one cannot be rolled back by sudden political reversal. This is one in which the enemy, if and when he begins to react to it — I don’t really think he can, but if and when he does — can’t come in and overrun two or three hamlets and then have the whole province or whole series of provinces collapse. He is going to have to eat those hamlets up platoon by platoon and this is going to be awfully costly to him.

This is the great difference now. We occupy those hamlets; the government has control there. We are there 24 hours a day. We are staying there and we intend to stay there.

On all other pacification programs, sir, we went in there for 3 months and then we left it, ofttimes with nothing more than a string of barbed wire around it.

Senator Case. I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if you would allow me to ask the Colonel to say whom he meant by, “we.”

Mr. Vann. Sir, I apologize.

Senator Case. This is not —

Mr. Vann. I have been an adviser to the Government of Vietnam so long that when I say, we, I am talking about the Government of Vietnam with American advice.

Senator Case. Thank you.

The Chairman. I don’t wish to take too long. There is one line of questioning I would like to get into and then I will yield to you.

Senator Case. Please go on.

TIME REQUIRED UNTIL GVN CAN TAKE COMPLETE CONTROL

The Chairman. In your capacity as adviser how long do you think we will have to stay before they can be allowed to take complete control of the situation? Do you have any estimate of it?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am sure that all of us have our private estimates.

As you are well aware, our Government’s official policy is to stay in accordance with the situation in Vietnam and the United States.

I would answer your question in this way, sir. There is definitely some time limit on our involvement. If you make the assumption that progress continues as it has been, I can see in the next several years this Government of Vietnam largely gaining enough strength to go it alone. However, when we are talking, say, over the next 5-year time period — and I just use that for lack of anything more definite — the quicker you go out the less the chance that they are going to be successful. The longer you stay the greater the chance they will be successful and that they will remain non-Communist.

I would say that if we went out on a very accelerated basis, there is still better than a 50-50 chance that the Government would make it. If we go out on a gradual basis under the criteria that the President of the United States has laid down, I would consider it a very high {p.104} probability, a three sigma probability, that the objectives in Vietnam will be achieved.

MR. VANN'S CONTACT WITH TRAN NGOC CHAU

The Chairman. Mr. Vann, did you read an article in this morning’s Washington Post by Mr. Robert Kaiser about Mr. Trail Ngoc Chau?

Mr. Vann. I did, sir.

The Chairman. He quotes Mr. Chau as saying you were among the first Americans whom Mr. Chau told about contacts with his brother, who was a North Vietnamese intelligence agent. He also quotes Chau as saying you went to see either Ambassador Lodge or Ambassador Locke about Chau’s contacts with his brother and then told Chau to continue those contacts and that throughout 1968 Chau continued to keep Americans and especially you informed of his talks with his brother.

I don’t know whether you have seen the statement on the story of Mr. Chau, which I made on February 5.

Mr. Vann. I have seen it, Mr. Chairman.

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SENATOR FULBRIGHT AND TRAN NGOC CHAU

The Chairman. Have you?

Since then I have received a letter from Mr. Chau, which I have before me, saying that he had heard press reports which said that I had called him a CIA agent in my statement.

I am writing Mr. Chau to point out that I said in my statement that he had been nominated by the CIA to be head of a cadre retraining program in 1966 and has worked closely with the CIA in that capacity. I also said in that statement that I knew that he had reported his contacts with his brother to a number of U.S. officials in Vietnam, including CIA officers with whom he had daily contact. I will put Mr. Chau’s letter and my reply in the record just for clarification, together with Mr. Kaiser’s article.

(The letters and article referred to follow:)

_______________

[Telegram]

To: H. E. U.S. Senator Fulbright, Washington, D.C.

From: Congressman Tran Ngoc Chau, Member of Special Court, Vietnam.

Text: Please accept my thankful regards for your most valuable statement on my case as of a political persecution in Vietnam. I would rectify only one point in your statement as released by UPI here. Which makes very harmful to my nationalist reputation. For a CIA agent has been considered in Vietnam as the most detested enemy much more than a Communist or any type of criminals. It is true that I had cooperated with CIA for many years in developing foundation of present Pacification and Revolutionary Development in capacity of Province Chief and Director RD cadres. But I have never been a CIA agent. I strongly ask your consideration for a U.S. Senate Investigation on American officials and CIA operations in Vietnam which have been destroying both Vietnamese Nationalist Ideology and Patriots and American image.

Present political persecution on me is consequence of combined action taken by US officials and CIA and Vietnamese officials. In an attempt to sabotage Vietnamese and Communist direct talks for Peace Settlement. I did have contacts with my communist brother with agreement of U.S. Ambassador through Mr. John Paul Vann. Complete dossier on my case on the way to your office. Many notable Vietnamese has expressed their comment on my case. Witnesses and persons to testify my accusation are Ambassadors Bunker, Locke, Colby. Misters {p.105} John Vann, Baumgartner, O’Donnell, Robert Moellen, Jacobson, State Department. Georgesen, Thomas Donahue, Stuart Methven, O’Reilly, CIA; General Wyand, Lt. Col. Scoles, Major Sauvage of Defense Department. Drs. Ellsberg, Hickey, Rank, and others I would name later if you agree. My highest consideration.

Tran Ngoc Chau.

_______________

February 17, 1970.

Congressman Tran Ngoc Chau,

The National Assembly, Saigon, Vietnam.

Dear Mr. Chau: Thank you for your letter which I received through the good offices of a third party.

I am sorry that UPI has reported that I called you a CIA agent. I am enclosing a copy of the statement I made on February 5 at a hearing of the Committee which I later that day inserted in the Congressional Record. I think that you will see from reading the statement that I never alleged that you had been a CIA agent. I simply stated that you had worked closely with the CIA in connection with the cadre training program and that you had reported your contacts with your brother to a number of U.S. officials in Vietnam, including CIA officers, with whom you had daily contact.

I found your letter most interesting and appreciated your taking the trouble to write.

I assure you that I will continue to follow your case with sympathetic interest. Sincerely yours,

J. W. Fulbright, Chairman.

Enclosure.

_______________

STATEMENT BY J. W. FULBRIGHT

THE STORY OF TRAN NGOC CHAU

In this morning’s Washington Post, Joseph Kraft tells us the story of Trail Ngoc Chau. It is a story that does not reflect credit on the United States or on the South Vietnamese regime of President Nguyen Van Thieu. I have known about the story for several months, and I know that the facts that Mr. Kraft recites are accurate. There are, of course, many other facts that have not been reported in the press.

To set the story in context, as Mr. Kraft writes Chau is an old friend of President Thieu and once shared quarters with him when both were junior officers. From 1960 to 1966 he was Province Chief in Kien Hoa and Mayor of Danang. In both positions, he had an outstanding record. In 1966 he was nominated by CIA to be head of the cadre training program at the Vungtau Training Center where he obviously worked closely with the CIA as that agency had the responsibility for the Center. In the 1967 National Assembly elections, he was elected a deputy from Kien Hoa with the second highest plurality in the country. He then became head of the opposition bloc and was elected Secretary-General of the Assembly.

In 1965, Chau contacted by his brother, Tran Ngoc Hien, a North Vietnamese intelligence agent. By Chau’s own admission, he did not report these contacts to the South Vietnamese government. Kraft says that whether he reported these contacts to the CIA is in dispute. Chau says that he did, as Keyes Beech reported in the Washington Evening Star on February 2. I know for a fact, from private sources, that he did report his contacts with his brother to a number of U.S. officials in Vietnam, including CIA officers with whom he had daily contact. I should add that I also know for a fact that he had, and still has, many close friends in the American official community.

At any rate, to return to the story told by Mr. Kraft, Chau began last year to advocate a cease-fire and direct negotiations between the South Vietnamese government and the NLF. He also began to attack Nguyen Cno Thang, a rich Saigon pharmacist and member of President Thieu inner clique, who is described by Kraft as President Thieu’s “political bag man.”

Chau’s brother was arrested in April and interrogated in July. No charges were lodged against Chau at the time of his brother’s arrest and interrogation. I am told, in fact, that relations between Chau and Thieu were not broken until some weeks or months thereafter. It appears that Thieu’s open attacks on Chau began only after Chau denounced the pharmacist Thang.

Thus it appears that the real reason for Thieu’s attack on Chau was not his contact with the communists but rather Chau’s growing power as an opposition {p.106} figure and as a critic of Thieu’s attempts to pressure and corrupt the Assembly as evidenced by the activities of Thang.

Thieu began his campaign against Chau by denouncing him publicly on a number of occasions. According to the Saigon press, in a speech on December 10 at the Vungtau Training Center, Thieu said that if the Assembly would not see justice done to Chau, and to two other accused deputies, “the people in the armed forces will cut off the heads of these deputies” and he added: “Our duty is to beat such dogs to death.” Thieu organized demonstrations, including a march on Parliament, in connection with his efforts to lift Chau’s parliamentary immunity. Failing to secure the votes of three-quarters of the members of the Assembly necessary to lift Chau’s immunity, Thieu resorted to the legally questionably tactic of having a petition lifting Chau’s immunity circulated among Assembly members. According to a report in this morning’s Washington Post by Robert Kaiser from Saigon, the 102 necessary signatures on the petition have now been obtained, and President Thieu is free to prosecute Chau.

I know that the U.S. Mission in Saigon did not expect Thieu to obtain the necessary number of votes to lift Chau’s immunity. But they obviously underestimated Thieu’s determination and his ability to obtain the result he desires through threats and bribery. I have very persuasive evidence on this point. Mr. Kraft tells us that Ambassador Bunker was directed to intervene with President Thieu on Chau’s behalf but that “the Embassy has not bestirred itself.” Given the attitude of certain high Mission officials toward Chau, and their unwillingness to incur President Thieu’s displeasure, I am not surprised. Nor am I surprised that Chau is disenchanted with Americans because of their refusal to intervene, as Keyes Beach reported after his interview with Chau.

Chau is now in hiding. I hope for his sake that he will be able to escape Thieu’s persecution. But even if he does, the story of Tran Ngoc Chau will not have a happy ending. The South Vietnamese Assembly has been intimidated, while the U.S. Government has shrugged its shoulders. And those in Vietnam who favor negotiation and compromise, or who dispute President Thieu, will speak at their peril from now on. Perhaps the story of Tran Ngoc Chau will prove to be the last chapter in the history of representative government in Vietnam.

_______________

[From The Washington Post, Feb. 18, 1970]

ACCUSED SAIGON DEPUTY BLAMES U.S.

(By Robert G. Kaiser)

SAIGON, Feb. 17 — Tran Ngoc Chau, the outspoken House deputy, today blamed American pressure for President Thieu’s decision to prosecute him for “activities helpful to the Communists.”

Chau claimed the United States feared that Thieu would use him to initiate direct talks with the Communists and bypass the Americans. Now, he charged, Thieu is prosecuting him in order to impress the Americans that this was never Thieu’s intention.

Chau has long been a favorite of U.S. officials in Vietnam, and has many American friends. In an interview in his Saigon “hideout” today, however, Chau spoke bitterly of the U.S. government, which he said was trying to “clean their hands” of him.

Chau, whose American friends have been unable to protect him from the wrath of Thieu, said that he has “lost all faith” in U.S. policy. He warned other Vietnamese who have cooperated with the Americans to prepare for betrayal like the one he claims to have suffered.

The Chau case is the main attraction in Saigon’s center ring these days. It combines — in one unruly package — three of the issues that concern this capital most: the American role in Vietnam, Thieu’s feuds with his opponents and the status of Vietnamese democracy. This case may have important and lasting effects on the last two issues.

And the Chau case is resplendant with the little touches of Vietnam that boggle the Western mind. For example, the political gossips have been saying that Chau is sleeping in a different house every night, stealthily dodging Thieu’s police. In fact, as this reporter discovered when he visited Chau this morning, he is living quite openly in a house that is elaborately staked out by some quite unsubtle plainclothesmen.

Very briefly, this is the story of Tran Ngoc Chau: {p.107}

 

Now 46, he fought for the Vietminh until 1949, when he left the revolutionary movement to join the forces of the Emperor Bao Dai. He became an officer, rose quickly through the ranks and was soon immersed in a distinguished career.

He went to infantry school at Ft. Benning, Ga., in 1955-56, where he learned English, and also American ways. Thereafter Chau seemed always to get along well with Americans in Vietnam. His success as chief of Kienhoa Province in the early 1960s brought him to the attention of high American officials, who saw to it that he was promoted to important administrative jobs.

In 1967 he ran for the National Assembly from Kienhoa, and won an impressive victory. He was elected an officer of the House of Representatives, and began to establish a name for himself.

MEETS WITH BROTHER

From 1965 onward, Chau was also leading a secret life — a life he shared only with a few Americans. In 1965 his brother and former Vietminh comrade, Tran Ngoc Hien, came secretly to Chau and announced he was a high-ranking North Vietnamese agent.

From then until early 1969, Chau and Hien met quite regularly. According to the testimony of both, each tried to convert the other. At the same time, they discussed possible approaches to a settlement of the war. According to Chau, he was trying to arrange talks among the warring Vietnamese factions, excluding the Americans, that might lead to a political settlement. He admits he pursued this idea without informing the Vietnamese government.

Hien was arrested last April. He confessed his intelligence activities in the South, and gave a detailed account of his talks with Chau. (The Washington Post published excerpts from Hien’s confession on Jan. 5.)

Chau, meanwhile, began to speak critically of the Thieu government’s policies. He called publicly for direct negotiations with the Viet-cong before Thieu had accepted that idea. He also proposed a form of coalition government that would have given the Communists a share of power in the provinces and the National Assembly, but not in the executive branch.

Last July, Thieu told a group of legislators that Chau had had illegal contacts with the enemy. That began a complicated series of events — dominated by an emotional anti-Chau campaign conducted by Thieu himself — that has now ended with Chau formally accused of “activities helpful to the Communists.”

He was protected by the Vietnamese equivalent of congressional immunity, but the government overcame this obstacle by promoting a petition in the House to withdraw the immunity in this case. The petition was allegedly signed by 102 members — exactly the three-fourths required by law — and a trial is expected soon.

CALLS CHARGES RIDICULOUS

Today the accused man contended that the charges against him were ridiculous. Chau admitted that he talked to his brother, showed him some courtesies and failed to betray him to the government. But he denied giving him any significant help, and insisted that his contacts with Hien were intended only to try to convert his brother, and to bring an end to the war.

Chau admits that he did not inform any Vietnamese officials that he was talking secretely {sic: secretly} with his brother, a Communist spy. He defended this today on the ground that when his talks with Hien began, the South Vietnamese government was chaotic, run by generals whose “war sentiment was very strong.” In recent times, Chau said, he thought he had the right to conduct independent talks as a member of the National Assembly.

But, he added, he did think he should tell some Americans about his brother. Chau gave these details of his dealings with U.S. officials:

“Among those I informed after this first contact with Hien [in late 1965] were John Vann [an adviser in Vietnam since the early 1960s, now in charge of pacification in the Mekong Delta], Stuart Methven [described by Chau as a CIA employe], Thomas Donohue [another CIA man, Chau said], and ... the CIA station chief at the time.”

U.S. OFFICIALS INFORMED

According to all the rules of diplomatic or military practice, contacts of this sort would have to be reported by such men to higher authority. If men as prominent as John Vann and a CIA station chief were involved, it seems certain all top U.S. {p.108} officials in Vietnam must have been informed. Chau said as much in today’s interview:

“Methven and Donohue told me they would inform the appropriate Vietnamese officials; Vann went to see the U.S. ambassador — I don’t know which, [Eugene] Locke or [Henry Cabot] Lodge — and the ambassador said it was okay for me to continue my contacts” with Hien, Locke was then deputy U.S. ambassador.

Chau said two U.S. officials — Col. Mike Dunn, now a White House military aide who worked for Lodge, and a Mr. Adam, described by Chau as a CIA man — came to see him to find out what he was hearing from his brother.

During mid-1967, Chau related, his conversations with Hien and other factors persuaded him that the Vietcong would try to create uprisings in populated areas. In August 1967, he said, he gave a three-hour briefing on his theory to Ambassadors Ellsworth Bunker and Locke and several military officials, including Lt. Gen. Frederick Weyand.

Five months later the Communists launched the Tet offensive.

Throughout 1968, Chau said, he continued to keep Americans — especially Vann — informed of his talks with Hien. The Americans “seemed pleased just to get more of the Communist assessment,” Chau said today.

VANN INTERVENES

After Hien was arrested last April, Chau said, he went to see Vann at his headquarters in Cantho, the largest city in the Delta. According to Chau, “At the time, Ambassador [William] Colby [currently head of the U.S. pacification program] was in Sadec Province. Vann called him and got approval on the phone to see [Minister of the Interior Tran Thien] Khiem. The next day Vann saw Khiem.” Vann’s intervention on Chau’s behalf, he added, “seemed to delay the whole affair for some time.”

According to Chau, this was the last overt cooperation he got from his American friends. Ambassador Bunker refused to meet him, Chau claimed. Then, he added, the ambassador ordered all American officials to cease dealing with Chau.

“Bunker and the CIA believed Thieu would use me and my brother to make a secret arrangement for direct talks between the Vietnamese, without letting the Americans know about it,” Chau claimed.

He noted that he and Thieu had been friends since the time both were young lieutenants. But now, Chau said, Thieu responds primarily to Bunker. Chau said he believes he is being prosecuted to demonstrate to Bunker that Thieu has no plans for a secret deal.

NEW AMERICAN POLICY

Chau charged that there is a new American policy in Vietnam, intended to impose a minority government on the country that will be utterly dependent on U.S. aid, and therefore unable to negotiate its own end to the war.

The U.S. mission here is familiar with most of Chau’s claims that he was betrayed by the American government and abandoned in time of need. But the embassy has made no comment on Chau’s accusations, the first of which were published ten days ago. This unusual silence suggests orders from Washington not to talk.

Well before Chau’s accusations began, however, many embassy officials privately expressed displeasure with Thieu’s attempt to prosecute Chau and two other members of the House. The degree of displeasure these Americans have expressed has been unprecedented in the friendly American relationship with Thieu.

It was learned today that Bunker has told Thieu that the U.S. expects a variety of unfavorable consequences if Chau is sentenced to prision {sic: prison}. Some of Bunker’s staff believe much damage has already been done by Thieu’s public campaign against the House.

If the Chau case opened a door on interesting aspects of the U.S. role in Vietnam, it has also provided an intriguing glimpse of Vietnamese democracy under pressure.

The legal issues in the case are complicated, though the basic facts of the alleged crime are simple and apparently agreed by all parties: It is against the law to give any help to Communists, and by Chau’s own admission he gave his brother some assistance — though he claims it was insignificant. For this reason, hawks among Saigon’s politicians are prepared to condemn Chau.

SYMBOLIC CASE

But there is some question as to whether this technical violation of the law is the real issue. An authoritative source in the presidential palace, for instance, {p.109} said today that although Chau’s transgressions were not serious, the case against him would be pressed because “it symbolizes the anti-Communist spirit of the government.”

Phan Thong, a House member who chaired a committee that investigated the charges against Chau and found them justified, said in an interview today that he too saw more than legal issues behind the prosecution. Thong said the chief of the Special (intelligence) Police told his investigating committee that Chau was “too ambitious in politics.” Thong suggested that Chau would have been left alone if he had not made his proposal for a coalition government.

Another complication involves the petition that the government says stripped Chau of his immunity. Many lawyers and legislators have challenged the theory that the House can substitute a petition for actual floor action. It is widely assumed that the government could not win a three-fourths vote on the floor, if only because attendance at the House is so poor.

Some politicians think Thieu’s petition ploy will do permanent damage to the procedures of the Assembly.

Deputy Thong said he thought the petition might not have been completely fair. But then, he added, Chau had ignored one article of the constitution by helping a Communist, so how could he expect protection from other articles of the constitution that stipulate proper parliamentary procedures?

It is hard to find a Vietnamese who really expects the government to follow strictly any prearranged set of laws and regulations. That is a Western notion.

TALK OF POLITICS

So the talk among politicians about the Chau case tends to center more on politics and personalities than legalities. Some, including Chau himself, think Thieu is trying to intimidate all his opposition by his crackdown on Chau and the other two House deputies.

Those who subscribe to this theory deplore the president’s high-handedness and warn of more repression of the opposition, but the theory is hardly universal. Many of the most outspoken opponents of Thieu don’t accept it.

Another school theorizes that Thieu is damaging himself more than Chau or any other opponent by making such a big issue out of a small incident.

“It is like with Sen. Tran Van Don,” said an articulate member of the House, referring to another Thieu critic who has lately incurred presidential ire. “Thieu is building up Chau and other opponents by attacking them fiercely.”

Chau himself is the issue with some politicians. His critics call him vain, a self-promoter with an exaggerated sense of his own importance. Others say he just isn’t worth all the fuss.

Chau’s connection with the CIA has become an issue — several papers have attacked him as an American lackery. “Many Vietnamese think if Chau is so close to the CIA, he deserves some punishment,” a thoughtful editor said tonight.

_______________

The Chairman. You are not the only public official Mr. Chau has publicly identified as a contact. The Washington Post article has many other names and so does Mr. Chau’s letter to me, but since you happen to be testifying here today, I did want to ask you a few questions relating to this rather complicated and apparently now a significant case according to the papers.

RELATION OF CIA TO CHAU’S NOMINATION AND VUNG TAU CENTER

Did Mr. Chau develop many of the concepts of the current pacification program?

Mr. Vann. Sir, let me go back for a moment just in the interest of the letter that you are sending to Mr. Tran Ngoc Chau. I would interpret that your statement saying that the CIA nominated him is where he got the impression that you were calling him an employee of the CIA. Actually, sir. the CIA has not been in a position in Vietnam to nominate a GVN official from one job to another.

The job that Lt. Col. Tran Ngoc Chau was nominated to take was Director of the RD Cadre Directorate. That was a nomination by the Government of Vietnam and approved by the Minister of RD. {p.110} That would be the one area in which he might have interpreted your having suggested he was in the CIA employ.

{sic: The} Mr. Chairman. Then it was an error to say that the CIA had anything to do with that Vung Tau center.

Mr. Vann. It would be an error, sir, to say that they nominated Colonel Chau for the position as the Director of the RD cadre program.

The Chairman. Did the CIA have anything to do with that center?

Mr. Vann. The CIA, sir, was in an advisory capacity to the Vung Tau training center.

Mr. Colby. And it also supported it, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Vann. It also supported it financially.

The Chairman. But, of course, it had no authority to pass upon any of the personnel.

Mr. Vann. That is correct, sir.

Mr. Colby. The job that Colonel Chau was nominated to was not just of that center, Mr. Chairman. It was also that of overall responsibility for the cadre effort of that particular ministry throughout the nation.

The Chairman. Is it the usual practice of the CIA when they pay the expenses and organize the advisers not to have anything to do with the personnel problems of their activity? Is this a common occurrence?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am not qualified to answer that because I have never worked for that agency.

The Chairman. I had heard that the CIA has on occasion taken a hand in some of these matters. I don’t know about that. I was relying upon my staff’s advice as to that statement and they believed that to be correct at the time. “Nominated” is perhaps an unfortunate word. Would “approved” or “confirmed” be a better or more accurate word or would you say they had nothing whatsoever to do with them?

Mr. Colby. I think they worked with him.

The Chairman. What’s that?

Mr. Colby. I think they worked with him on that job. This was a job in the Vietnamese Government. The Vietnamese Government accepted and named this officer as the director of this directorate. They worked with him.

The Chairman. Was the CIA given an opportunity to disapprove an appointment of this kind?

Mr. Vann. I don’t believe so, sir. I would certainly say from the standpoint of the way things happened in Vietnam that of times the Government of Vietnam discusses appointments with the advisory officials for any program in which we are heavily involved financially. I frequently had a Vietnamese official discuss with me whether or not a district chief should be continued in office because he knows I have an adviser there who observes him on a daily basis and they would like to have our opinion on it.

Mr. Colby. I think if the CIA had real objection to him in that job, that could have been made very clear and would have had the effect of having him not take that job.

IS TRAN NGOC CHAU REGARDED AS NATIONALIST OR COMMUNIST?

{sic: The} Mr. Chairman. Mr. Vann, is Mr. Chau regarded by his colleagues in the National Assembly and by knowledgeable American officials as {p.111} a Nationalist or as a Communist? How would you characterize him?

Mr. Vann. Sir, first of all, he has so many acquaintances with whom I have not had personal contact that I wouldn’t be qualified to answer that.

I would say, sir, that it is quite probable, in satisfying what I detect to be your desire for information on Tran Ngoc Chau, that we will get into some areas which could possibly prejudice one way or the other the outcome of a court case that is currently being planned in Saigon by the Government of Vietnam involving Mr. Tran Ngoc Chau.

On the basis, sir, I would be happy to provide all the information that I have on this subject to the committee, but I would much prefer to do it in an executive session so as not to jeopardize either pro or con the judicial action that is underway in Saigon.

{sic: The} Mr. Chairman. I would certainly respect that. Although this story goes very far in discussing the matter, you simply don’t wish yourself to confirm or not to confirm. Is that correct?

Mr. Vann. That is correct, sir. As I interpreted it, that story represents Mr. Kaiser’s interview with Mr. Tran Ngoc Chau, and—

The Chairman. Mr. Chau seems to be in no way reluctant to talk to the press about this matter. Of course, I would gather that he believes he is about to be, in the parlance of the old days, railroaded [laughter] because his immunity has been lifted, not by a vote in the assembly, but by a petition with 102 names. It is a very odd situation, but if you do not wish to discuss it in open session, I will not pursue the matter.

The Senator from New Jersey.

Senator Case. It is nice to see you again.

Mr. Vann. Thank you, sir.

Senator Case. It is also very pleasant to see the change in the attitude you now have from that which I saw in 1967 in May and June.

Mr. Vann. The situation has changed, sir.

Senator Case. Well, it is very clear that you feel this strongly.

REASONS FOR CHANGE IN ATTITUDE OF AVERAGE SOUTH VIETNAMESE

You mentioned, I think, as one of the chief reasons for the change, the change in the attitude of the average South Vietnamese toward the Government, and you said that his willingness to join the Liberation Front or follow its leadership was based upon his dissatisfaction with his Government.

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Case. Could you elaborate a little bit on that and also upon the change? Specifically, for example, when you say “government,” is he thinking about who is sitting in power in Saigon or is he thinking about his province chief or commander or his district or his village government or just what? In what respect has this improved? Would you develop this a little?

Mr. Vann. I think, sir, that the peasant about whom we are talking, the man who either is or is not in revolt, considers the government to be the village and hamlet officials with whom he must have contact in his daily work. It might extend on occasion to the district chief. Although he seldom has contact with the district chief, he would become aware as to whether there is a good district chief or a {p.112} bad district chief, good and bad in terms of his own future, and his own opportunity to pursue what he wishes to in his life.

As you may be aware, I was convinced in 1962 and 1963 that there was no way for the Government of Vietnam, with Ngo Dinh Diem pursing the course he was following, to win the war. I felt it was inevitable that the National Liberation Front was going to win. I felt strongly enough about that to retire from the Army so as to be able to publicly express my disagreement with the policies we were then following by supporting President Diem.

Over the years a series of different governments came in. I think that between November 1 of 1963 and the beginning of constitutional government in 1967, we had approximately 14 different heads of government in Vietnam. There was a game of real musical chairs. And there was so much instability that there was little impact down in the countryside, little change in the life of the average peasant other than a great deal more unpleasantness than he had ever had before.

In 1967, when a Constituent Assembly was held, when an election was conducted to elect, not by a majority, but by the most votes in a field of 10 candidates, a president and a vice president, when an assembly, upper and lower house, were elected, there began what has been since then a stability of government at the upper level. This stability was severely shaken by the Tet attack, an attack which was obviously well-designed and which was very nearly successful.

Some of the assumptions the enemy made proved to be erroneous and fortunately he was not successful. But once the elected Government of Vietnam, which was then a very new government overcame this, they could address their time and attention to the long-standing and long-ignored needs of the peasant. Nineteen hundred and sixty-eight became first a year of recovering from Tet, getting the enemy back from the cities, and then addressing the problem of how do you respond to the peasant.

Nineteen hundred and sixty-nine became a year of execution. We conducted a large number of elections, with the number going from less than 50 percent to well over 90 percent of the villages and hamlets in the country having elected government.

We conducted training for these village and hamlet officials. Literally for the first time in the history of Vietnam we gave a budget to the village and a procedure wherein the people participated on how that budget was spent. This was something very novel to these people.

In 1969 there was more participation by peasants in the government that most affected them, the village and hamlet government, than, to my knowledge, at any time in the last 100 years history in Vietnam.

CHANGE IN ENEMY FORCE STRUCTURE AND TET

We have gotten a tremendous response. We were aided and abetted during this period by the enemy changing the nature of his force structure from being primarily South Vietnamese to being primarily North Vietnamese. We were also aided by the fact that in the military attacks at Tet, which were largely by South Vietnamese units, the casualties were absolutely enormous. These casualties were not very meaningful from the standpoint of the numbers of bodies involved because the enemy has long shown an ability to remove bodies out of a {p.113} rice paddy with no regard to whether he was killed or not. But there was the matter of the leadership that was lost. In my judgment, more than half, possibly two-thirds of the leadership, particularly the field combat leadership, that the enemy had developed for his South Vietnamese forces over a period of two decades was lost in 1968.

You can’t produce leaders in a year or even 5 years. It takes a long time to produce this kind of leadership.

This provided the enemy with a difficulty of continuing combat actions from which he has not yet recovered. I am not only a civilian there. I was for 21 years a professional soldier, with a total of 14 years in combat in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. My hobby is analyzing military operations. As an analyst, I have become acutely aware that the leadership of the enemy today is a far cry from, far less qualified than the leadership that he had prior to Tet of 1968.

A combination of this drop in leadership, the change of the enemy from being a South Vietnamese to being a North Vietnamese, the beginnings of village and hamlet government, the participation of the population, the stability at the central level, getting enough Americans with long-term experience in Vietnam not to go down any more dead end alleys—

Senator Case. Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said, to not go down—

CHANGE IN EXPERIENCE OF U.S. PERSONNEL IN VIETNAM

Mr. Vann. Not to go down one-way streets that end in a deadend. In other words, one of our big problems in Vietnam up until people like Ambassador Colby, who had had long-term experience, or Clay McManaway who has been there 5 years, were assigned and a lot of people got into positions of determining advisory policy in Vietnam who knew something about Vietnam, has been people who have had just 1 year in Vietnam. When this changed, we were able to prevent the pitfalls. Year after year I had known programs were going to fail, because I knew we had tried that sort of thing before and I knew the deficiencies that existed.

Finally when enough people with that type of experience got into positions of leadership, then the advisory assistance too became very constructive. Up to that time it sometimes was counterproductive.

Senator Case. Thank you very much.

It is impressive, and I think the most impressive thing is the change in your view, if I may put it in that fashion and not overstate the matter.

PRESENT POSSIBILITY OF REASONABLE SOLUTION IN VIETNAM

Our concern here, for the most part, has been with a situation that seemed constantly to deteriorate while we didn’t have the firsthand evidence that you did because of your daily contact with it and your long knowledge of what was really going on. All of us sensed that things were going constantly from bad to worse and that unless there was a change there would be no end to a bad situation except a disastrous one, and to many people this more and more indicated that the quicker we put an end to the whole thing, the better. {p.114}

Your own judgment, I take it now, and you have already said this, is that as things are going now they are on the upgrade and a reasonable solution is possible and the one that we ought to continue to try to pursue.

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have become so confident that we are going in the right direction now that since July of 1968, I have within my own organization been advocating a unilateral reduction of U.S. forces in Vietnam consistent exactly with the three criteria which the President enunciated in July of 1969 as official U.S. policy. In other words, for a year prior to the time it became our official policy I had the utmost confidence that that was the right direction to go in Vietnam.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, I think most of the rest of the questions I have would better be asked in executive session and I shall defer for the moment.

The Chairman. Senator Cooper.

Senator Cooper. Thank you.

COMMENDATION OF WITNESS

Mr. Vann, I certainly appreciate your very forthright and, I think, precise statement. I respect you too for your statement of your views of our objectives there. Some may disagree, but as I recall at least until about 1966 that was the generally accepted view of what our objectives in Vietnam had been since our first intervention there.

You brought a side of testimony to the committee we don’t often hear and I think whatever the views of anyone as to whatever the war may be that it is good to have testimony like that. I must say I haven’t heard that side since I have been on this committee.

MR. VANN’S COMMANDING GENERAL AND PRIOR SERVICE

Who is the commanding general under whom you serve?

Mr. Vann. Maj. Gen. Hal McCown, sir, who formerly served as the II Corps adviser in Vietnam 1962 and 1963.

Senator Cooper. You have stated that your prior service had been with the military. Is that correct?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir; I was a military officer and enlisted man for 21 years.

Senator Cooper. You were in World War II?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir; I flew B-29’s in World War II in the Army Air Corps and I went back to the infantry as a paratrooper after World War II.

Senator Cooper. As you said, your experience has made you very interested in the military policy in South Vietnam.

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir; I served in that type of warfare. I was commander of a Ranger unit in Korea in 1950 and 1951. Then of course in 1962 and 1963 I served as a senior adviser to ARVN 7th Division with advisory responsibility for the area from Saigon to Can Tho.

Senator Cooper. Where did you serve in World War II?

Mr. Vann. In the Southwest Pacific in World War II, sir, with the 485 Bomb Group on Guam. {p.115}

CORDS AND WORLD WAR II MILITARY GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION

Senator Cooper. Listening to your explanation of the organization and also to this chart, it would seem to me it is quite similar to the military government organization that the United States had along with its armies in World War II. Is that correct?

Mr. Vann. Not exactly, sir.

The thing that makes this—

Senator Cooper. Similar, I said.

Mr. Vann (continuing). The thing that makes this so different is the tremendous involvement we have in things such as social and economic development, whereas the military government organizations were largely related to control of the population.

Senator Cooper. And to gradually transfer responsibility to the civilian government.

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

COMMENDATION OF WITNESSES

Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, would the Senator yield to me for 30 seconds. I must go to the floor because the morning hour is over. I didn’t want to ask any questions. I wanted to express my pleasure at seeing Colonel Vann here and Ambassador Colby, both of whom were so generous and cooperative at that time in Vietnam. As Senator Cooper said, many of us may think about the overall nature of American policy, but one can only be glad the United States has such servants as yourself in such a difficult atmosphere and such a difficult problem abroad.

Thank you.

Senator Cooper. I certainly join in what you said, Senator Javits.

FACTORS INFLUENCING INCREASED SECURITY

You have testified about the development of the local forces. In your statement you say this: “The significance of this, of course, is the overwhelming importance of providing security of the population. Without security, it is doubtful that the remaining pacification objectives can be achieved.”

How would you compare the security which has been improved because of the strengthening of the local forces by arms? How would you relate that to the fact that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese have withdrawn from the area? Which is the greatest influence on the providing of security?

Mr. Vann. The Government’s having a physical presence. I would like to point out, sir, that the withdrawing only refers to North Vietnamese units. Most of the North Vietnamese units are now along the Cambodian or Laotian boundaries or in these adjacent countries. The Vietcong, the South Vietnamese enemy forces, have not withdrawn per se from the general area. However, there is a significant difference in the guerrilla operations of today as compared to. say, pre-Tet 1968. The great difference is this: Most of the guerrillas, prior to Tet of 1968, lived in the hamlet and did their farming during the daytime. Most of the guerrillas today must live in a base area outside of the hamlet. They have no traffic with the hamlet except {p.116} on those very rare occasions when they run the risk of coming in clandestinely, quite possibly at night, particularly if it is in an area where the Government forces are not really alert. There is a vast difference in the way guerrillas operate today from the way guerrillas operated before.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE ABILITY TO MAINTAIN SECURITY AS UNITED STATES WITHDRAWS

Senator Cooper. As you said, major North Vietnamese forces are along the Cambodian border. Now assume that the program, which you have described so well, continues in a successful manner and the United States gradually withdraws its forces. What would you say then about the possibility of the North Vietnamese coming in from the Cambodian border and renewed activity on the part of the Vietcong? Would the South Vietnamese apparatus which you have described be able to maintain the security which you say is imperative for pacification?

Mr. Vann. First of all, sir, let me disqualify myself from answering as Deputy CORDS IV Corp and just go to a role in Vietnam as a military analyst.

I consider that the North Vietnamese represent far less of a threat and one which is far more easily handled than the threat we had before from the National Liberation Front which was primarily a political guerrilla type threat.

The reason I believe this is that in nearly every given set battle that I have reviewed in Vietnam wherein a conventional ARVN force met a conventional North Vietnamese force or a conventional U.S. force met a conventional North Vietnamese force, the winner was always our side. The reason was that our side had air and artillery and the other side did not.

These are the most decisive factors in a conventional battle.

It is expected that the Vietnamese regular forces will continue to have air and artillery support. They now provide all their artillery support and they are increasing the amount of air support that they are providing. On this basis, I look forward to the day when all of the fighting can be done by South Vietnamese even if there continues to be a North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam.

Senator Cooper. Well, your answer is directed chiefly, I think, to military aspects of Vietnamization. You consider the pacification program as a necessary element of the Vietnamization program, don’t you?

Mr. Vann. I do, sir. I see a very low probability of the enemy being able to substantially roll back the pacification program that has been achieved. The reason is that, although on any given night at any given area he masses forces and has a local success, to do it on a widespread basis would mean he would have to pay at least a hundred men dead for every hamlet that he wants to reestablish control. He does not have anywhere near the men to even make a dent in pacification.

Senator Cooper. I will pose this question: If the Administration’s plan for withdrawal continues, and I believe it will, and U.S. forces are withdrawn from Vietnam in 2 or 3 years, will the Vietnamese be {p.117} able to maintain the security which you say is essential for the pacification program in the absence of U.S. military forces?

 

Mr. Vann. Sir, that again depends upon factors such as the political stability within the country. If things continue as they have gone for the last 18 months, the answer quite clearly is “Yes.” If for some reason there gets to be some internal fighting among our friendly Vietnamese, if the political struggle within Vietnam goes in such a way as to affect the stability of the government and all of the attention of the Vietnamese gets diverted toward a struggle among themselves, that could put an entirely different light on the situation 2 or 3 years hence. Right now all expectations are that the current stability will continue.

NECESSITY OF U.S. PRESENCE FOR SUCCESS OF VIETNAMIZATION

Senator Cooper. Well, in your view is the American presence necessary for the success of the Vietnamization program?

Mr. Vann. The American presence today is necessary. How long it will be necessary is obviously the question that the Administration debates on a continuing basis. On a continuing basis we are examining it ourselves. As one example, I have 95 district advisory teams in the Delta. I have determined that pacification has proceeded so well in 18 of these districts that I have reduced the advisory effort to less than 30 percent of what it was. In one province we have achieved such a high level of security that the military advisory efforts have been reduced to about 25 percent of what it was just about a year ago. I would see no reason for that trend not to continue, assuming that progress continues the way it has been going.

CHANGE IN ATTITUDE OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE PEOPLE

Senator Cooper. There have been a number of these pacification programs, as you know so well, and bearing a number of different names — revolutionary program, national building program. But I gather from what you say that you believe there has been a change in the attitude of the people of South Vietnam, that the present program marks a distinct success in its objectives, compared to the prior programs.

Mr. Vann. I think the biggest difference, the biggest asset we have is the changed attitude of the population of South Vietnam. But certainly complementing that is what, is, in my judgment, the first well-organized pacification effort that we have had in Vietnam.

POPULAR SUPPORT FOR SOUTH VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT

Senator Cooper. I will go to the political side for just a moment. You said just a moment ago that you thought the success was conditioned also on stability of the government. I assume you mean to be successful a government must have the support, general support, of the people. Is that correct?

Mr. Vann. Yes, Senator, I believe so.

Senator Cooper. In your wide range of activities in South Vietnam do you consider that the present government has the support or the {p.118} acceptance — any way you want to put it — of the people of South Vietnam?

Mr. Vann. I consider, sir, that the present government is the most efficient government that I have seen in Vietnam since 1962, has more real de facto support today than any government since 1961 and, third, is taking the steps through the village development program and through the people’s self-defense force organization to achieve a much wider popular following and popular base than any other government has either achieved or even sought to achieve.

Senator Cooper. It has been said many times that, both in North Vietnam and South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was considered the leader because of his long record of opposition to the intervention and colonialism of other countries. I don’t know whether that is correct or not, but assuming it is, is there any leader in North Vietnam or the Vietcong who attracts the people of South Vietnam, in your judgement?

Mr. Vann. Sir, we certainly have reviewed that, those of us who are students of that history. There appears not to be one now. As I think all members of this committee are aware, the previous leader, Mr. Ho Chi Minh, did represent a father image to a large number of South Vietnamese as well as North Vietnamese. To some extent his death indirectly facilitated the government of Vietnam winning more support among the peasant population than before, because Mr. Ho Chi Minh’s image there in Vietnam was primarily as a nationalist, as opposed to being primarily as a Communist.

I go back a little bit. Even though I personally felt that the Ngo Dinh Diem government was not on a road that could lead to success, I personally deplored the passing of Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem himself because he represented another father image, a man whose image was as a nationalist and as a longtime fighter for freedom in his country.

Now that both of those gentlemen have passed from the scene it is a kind of an open field as to who can achieve that sort of an image in the future on both sides.

WHAT TYPE ORGANIZATION IS PHOENIX?

Senator Cooper. I will ask two questions in another field. I left yesterday just before the hearing ended, but I read in the newspapers questions about the organization called Phoenix. With your wide range of activity there, you must be familiar with this organization. Aren’t you?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am responsible for supervising the advisory support of the Phung-Hoang operation, in IV Corps tactical zone and those 16 provinces.

Senator Cooper. Yesterday in response to my questions to Ambassador Colby, I placed in the record a statement of the assassination, wounding, and the abductions or kidnapings {sic: kidnappings} of South Vietnamese people by the Vietcong. Is the Phoenix organization a counterterrorist organization or is it an organization designed for use in a war for war action against enemies. What is it?

Mr. Vann. I would like to comment on this, sir, because I have been quite familiar with the organization of Phoenix and the various types of organizations that preceded Phoenix, none of which were anywhere near as extensive and none of which had the overall central corps, {p.119} province, and district support that the Phung Hoang or Phoenix program has.

First of all, there was at one time in Vietnam an organization, very small, that was called a counter terrorist organization. As Ambassador Colby mentioned, any time you have a secret type organization you get a lot of fairy tales.

Now, all of my service in Vietnam, with the exception of 9 months, has been spent outside of Saigon essentially as a field adviser.

First of all, regrettably from my standpoint, the counterterrorist organization was never as effective as people thought it was or as the fairy tales about it said it was.

Secondly, it bore and bears no resemblance at all to the organization that we began in 1967, which now bears the name of Phung Hoang or Phoenix.

FORMATION OF PHOENIX ORGANIZATION

In 1967, on an experimental basis, first of all we brought all of the civilian advisory agencies together. At that time we had in each Province two American organizations, a civilian advisory organization and a military one. When we got these organizations together, and began comparing all of our notes and — this doesn’t mean that some people did not do this before, but originally it wasn’t done — we became somewhat distressed at the redundancy, at the overlapping responsibilities, and the very great gaps of coverage on the part of the various intelligence organizations.

On that basis we started on an experimental basis in III Corps five centers called District Intelligence and Operations Coordination Centers. We took all agencies responsible for intelligence, put them in one location, that is, had their input come to one location, and had representatives for those agencies there. At the same location we had an array of responsive units that could go out and react to the intelligence.

Now, our civilian side of this civilian-military mix was primarily concerned with the infrastructure, the enemy’s governmental members. We were concerned that most of the intelligence before had related only to tactical intelligence, that is, the enemy’s combat units.

So when we formed these five DIOCC’s, we emphasized the important role of getting the intelligence on the enemy’s governmental or secret governmental apparatus which was actually controlling and calling the shots for the enemy’s tactical units.

When we put these people together it worked so well on the experimental basis that we began expanding it. Starting at the district level we began expanding it and doing the same thing at several other levels, at corps, province, and central. Formally, then, an organization called Phung Hoang came into being by government decree in 1968.

ESTABLISHMENT OF QUOTAS

Now, this whole question of quotas is one we have been in on from the very start. One of the problems in Vietnam has been motivation of various governmental forces to do things. We debated the wisdom

of having quotas and the value of not having quotas. This was largely a Vietnamese determination in which we advisers were responding to {p.120} their knowledge of their own people to the effect that if we don’t establish a quota we don’t get a real push against the infrastructure.

IS UNITED STATES INVOLVED IN “TERRORIST” ACTIVITY IN VIETNAM?

Senator Cooper. Excuse me a minute. I don’t want to interrupt you, but I know at a later date this subject will be examined. The question I direct to you, because it is fair and should be answered, is the following: Is the United States involved in any way in carrying out what can be called a “terrorist” activity? Is this a normal intelligence operation of the kind which has been carried on in the past in wartime?

Mr. Vann. Well, the answer very shortly, sir, is no, we do not. We specifically prohibit it. Ever since I have been aware of it it has been prohibited. Ambassador Colby said so yesterday under oath and I say so today under oath.

NEUTRALIZATION OF ENEMY INFRASTRUCTURE

I did want to set a background so I could get to one point, and that is the point wherein people misinterpret that there are people targeted for killing. This is not done. The reason that approximately 31 percent of the enemy infrastructure which is reported as neutralized is shown as people who are killed is not because we have gone out searching for them and then killed them on the spot. The bulk of them, the overwhelming majority of them, are people who in the course of the normal conduct of the war become killed and after being killed, they are identified as having been a member of the enemy’s government apparatus.

Senator Gore. What do you call normal?

Mr. Vann. A normal operation, sir, might be a regional force company, a popular force platoon, going in response to an agent report that there is a VC platoon in a certain hamlet. When they get there, they find a VC armed force, they become involved in a fire-fight; the enemy possibly will attempt to escape; they will be chased down. They may be killed by an aircraft or they may be killed by ground fire.

The Vietnamese officer in charge goes through the documents on a body. There is an ammunition belt around his waist; there is a rifle in his hands and he turns to you with a triumphant smile and says, “This man was head of the tax collection unit of the district committee.”

Now, in many cases I personally feel that our Vietnamese friends may be in error as to what the man’s job was. He may just be a guerilla soldier and they may well be saying something else simply to meet their quota.

Now, I wanted to get this on the record because, as they are identified as having been killed, there is the supposition on the part of many people that we go out and deliberately assassinate them. This is not the object of the program.

It is much preferable to capture a member of the enemy structure. When you capture him the entire structure will crumble because you can then interrogate him and find out what the structure is. The {p.121} moment he is captured every member of his organization becomes apprehensive as to his future security.

COMBAT AREA AND FREE FIRE ZONES

Senator Cooper. Is all of South Vietnam considered “a terror area,” as we designated areas in “World War II as “a combat zone?”

Mr. Vann. No, sir. In most places in the Delta the helicopter gun ships that are flown by the Americans are instructed that, if they are fired at from a populated area, they are not allowed to return the fire. They are to fly away and report it.

Senator Cooper. My question is—

Mr. Vann. There are other areas that are designated as free fire zones.

Senator Cooper. Does the Army designate specific areas as combat areas as they did in World War II?

Mr. Vann. No, sir, because the enemy does have a capability to go everywhere.

Senator Cooper. All of Vietnam is a combat area.

Mr. Vann. All of South Vietnam is a combat area, sir, and at times the streets of Saigon have been.

Senator Cooper. I have not asked these questions to approve actions of United States or South Vietnamese forces which would not be in accordance with the accepted rules of warfare. I recall that in the United States during World War II the whole Japanese population was moved from the west coast and it was a doubtful operation.

Mr. Vann. There are some areas designated as free fire zones. These are areas which we feel are totally inhabited by enemy soldiers and void of civilian population.

PACIFICATION PROGRAM IF U.S. WITHDRAWS FORCES

Senator Cooper. I will ask this question. You are not able to say whether the pacification program and the success you attribute to it is such a program that it could be sustained if the United States should withdraw its forces, say, in 2 years, by the South Vietnamese people?

Mr. Vann. Sir, with my area of responsibility being the IV Corps and with no U.S. combat forces now in the IV Corps, it would not be wise of me to speculate as to how long for the rest of the country.

Senator Cooper. Thank you.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Do you want to ask questions?

POLITICAL STABILITY OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT

Senator Case. I just have one question that was suggested by the Senator from Kentucky and developed somewhat and that is on the question of your statement that success of this program depends, among other things, upon continued stability, political stability, in South Vietnam. And I again will go further into this on my own time on the next round of questioning, but this is terribly important, it seems to me. We have been getting from many people the suggestion that Thieu’s government becomes more and more narrowly based and {p.122} unrepresentative and the inference or the implication of this to many people is that it is becoming more fragile and less acceptable.

I gather from you a feeling that you have somewhat a different view about the strength and stability of this regime in the minds of the great mass of the people, as opposed to various political factions that exist in the capital city. Am I correct in sensing this?

Mr. Vann. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the answer that Ambassador Colby gave on that, sir. You look at it on two levels: one is the level of the intellectuals and urban oriented French trained group that makes up most of these political parties in the Saigon area and the other is the peasant in the countryside.

I am well qualified on the second one. On the second one the base is broadening, and broadening rapidly. On the first one I will have to defer to someone who has responsibilities for the political activity in the Saigon area.

Senator Case. Then I take it you regard the important level, from the standpoint of the kind of stability you regard as essential to our success there, as the support of the countryside.

Mr. Vann. That, sir, plus continuation of constitutional government in Saigon. I don’t think that whether President Thieu is re-elected or not bears upon political stability. The fact is that an election will take place in 1971, and that someone representing a majority of the vote will then be elected because a change in procedures, a runoff between the two leading groups will assure that. This is what I interpret as being political stability at that level.

{sic: Senator} Sentor Case. That isn’t quite my question and you know it isn’t.

Mr. Vann. I consider it—

Senator Case. I don’t want to press you beyond—

Mr. Vann. I consider the countryside to be far more significant, yes, than the Saigon area.

Senator Case. Thank you.

The Chairman. The Senator from Tennessee.

U.S. ADVISERS’ RECOMMENDATIONS TO VIETNAMESE COUNTERPARTS

Senator Gore. I find interesting the part of your statement where you describe a meeting with so-called Vietnamese leaders. You say that this kind of a meeting is held once a week and that there are usually in attendance approximately 20 Vietnamese and about 10 U.S. senior advisers to these Vietnamese.

Then I find these two very interesting sentences which describe an unusual type of democracy or an unusual type of self-government or an unusual type of guided performance. Let me read the sentences to you:

The meeting is used as a problem-solving session wherein all of the briefings and most of the discussions are by and among the Vietnamese officials. ... Prior to the meeting, U.S. advisers have provided their recommendations as to discussion topics and each adviser, operating under my direction, has recommended to his Vietnamese counterpart the problem areas that should be brought up and solutions that should be proposed.

Mr. Vann. I think I might clarify for you, Senator, by adding that these are by no means always accepted nor do they always govern. But the reason we go through that procedure is this — I am a firm believer when there is a U.S. community that they sing from the same {p.123} song sheet. I want to be sure that the advisory effort is doing things that are consistent with the U.S. policy in Vietnam, and that we are trying to influence the Vietnamese to do things that we feel are important.

Now, please keep this in mind. The recommendations are made by the adviser to his counterpart. The counterpart makes a decision to accept or reject. I don’t think that it is relevant to have an adviser who does not advise.

Senator Case. So, the picture here, as I see it, I mean as you described it, is that you have these kinds of meetings once a week and prior to the meetings the U.S. advisers have told them what subjects to talk about and the solutions they should suggest, and then the U.S. advisers stay in the meeting and listen most of the time, I believe you indicate.

Well, this seems a pretty strong hand of the United States. It reminds me of an observation that a member of our staff recently made after a trip to Vietnam, and that is that the United States is far more involved in the life of the Vietnamese now than the French ever were.

Mr. Vann. The only way I could agree with that is to say we are far more favorably involved from the standpoint of a better future of the Vietnamese.

The Chairman. From what standpoint?

Mr. Vann. From the standpoint of the future of the Vietnamese. Our involvement is one that is positive as opposed to exploitation.

Senator Gore. Do you think they have liked it since we have been there?

Mr. Vann. I think they would prefer that to what would have happened to them if we had not been there.

Senator Gore. Do you think those who are gone have any regrets?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am afraid I could not answer that question.

Senator Gore. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BREAKDOWN OF ACTIVITIES OF U.S. PERSONNEL IN THE DELTA

The Chairman. I have one or two catch-up questions. It has been stated that there are 23,000 Americans in the Delta. There are no U.S. combat forces in the IV Corps and there are 2,357 people in the CORDS organization. What are the others doing in the Delta?

Mr. Vann. First of all, sir, there are approximately 6,000 who fly helicopters and maintain them. There are approximately 400 helicopters and, as you know, helicopters require an awful lot of maintenance, so the helicopter group there numbers 6,000 men.

We do provide about 90 percent of the helicopter support to the Government of Vietnam in the Delta.

The Chairman. That is 6,000 out of 20,000. What are the other 14,000?

Mr. Vann. We have 5,400 engineers there.

The Chairman. What are they doing?

Mr. Vann. They are building roads, sir. They are working on National Highway 4. They are doing it because all of the Vietnamese engineering and public works capacity is utilized as much as it can and still is not enough.

The Chairman. That is 11,000. What are the other 9,000? {p.124}

Mr. Vann. Yes. sir.

We have approximately 5,000 U.S. Navy personnel.

The Chairman. What are they doing?

Mr. Vann. U.S. Navy personnel have a combination of several operations screening the coasts. This includes the forces off the coast of South Vietnam, the maritime operation, the patrolling of waterways. They also have the mission of advising the Vietnamese. I think more than possibly any other program in Vietnam, because it lends itself to it, they are rapidly turning over to the Vietnamese.

They have a very interesting way of doing it. When a Swift boat, for example, with a crew of 7 Americans, initially goes there, they add one Vietnamese to the crew. They train him to replace one American. The American leaves and they add a second Vietnamese to the crew.

The Chairman. Maybe we had better reserve that for secret session.

Mr. Vann. All right, sir.

SOUTH VIETNAMESE METHODS OF MEETING PHOENIX QUOTAS

The Chairman. I have a few other questions. There is an article this morning in the New York Times, I believe, by Mr. Sterba, relating to the Phoenix program it says and I quote, “‘One thing about the Vietnamese — they will meet every quota that’s established for them,’ said one critic of the program. ‘That’s what makes the head count so deceptive. How do you know they are not assigning names and titles to dead bodies?’”

Would you comment on that statement?

Mr. Vann. I believe I actually did, sir, possibly while you were out.

The Chairman. Did you?

Mr. Vann. I feel that that does take place at some levels, at some times, and I think that the purpose of doing it is to introduce a sludge factor to come up to their quota.

DESTRUCTION BY PRIMITIVE AND SOPHISTICATED WEAPONS

The Chairman. Last in discussing the terrorists, you said there was once a small ineffective counterterrorist program, which had been discontinued. Then in discussion with the Senator from Kentucky, a good deal was said about the fact that we do not assassinate people.

You raise a question: In your mind is there any significant difference between wiping out a village with B-52 bombs and napalm and wiping it out with M-16’s and hand grenades?

Mr. Vann. I would say from my experience, if such things have occurred — and I am aware that hamlets have been wiped out in both fashions — in the case of B-52’s it is always an accident so that I would say there would be a difference.

I know of no time that a B-52 has ever been directed against a populated target, and I was the senior civilian adviser for 4 years in the III Corps area that had over 90 percent of the B-52 strikes.

The Chairman. I didn’t mean to cast any reflections upon B-52’s as such. May I correct it to say helicopters or any other kind of modern sophisticated weapons. Is there an distinction in your mind? I {p.125} don’t wish to raise any questions about the efficiency of the bombers or the B-52’s. Is there a difference in your mind between killing people with a primitive weapon and a sophisticated weapon?

Mr. Vann. First of all, sir; let me say that I don’t believe in killing civilians under any circumstances. For that reason, I have instituted procedures in the IV Corps wherein if our helicopters are fired at from a civilian occupied area they don’t even return fire. This is a significant change in the rules of engagement.

The Chairman. Are you saying that we have not killed any civilians or very few civilians in Vietnam?

Mr. Vann. No, sir; what I am saying is that we have killed very few deliberately. I am sure that too many — and it would be too many if it was one — have been killed accidentally.

The Chairman. Then you don’t subscribe to these reports of incidents or engagements such as Mylai?

Mr. Vann. Sir, Mylai is outside of the area which I am familiar with. But I would again say I was the senior civilian official from 1966 to 1969 in the III Corps area of South Vietnam, which had the largest contingents of U.S. Forces. I am personally aware that no such incident was ever reported in that Corps area during the time I was there. I would be the official most likely to receive such a report.

I also had a mechanism using Vietnamese reporters who were trained to go out and survey the civilian population in the enemy controlled and the contested areas to find out what they were saying about the war. I have compiled over 600 indepth reports of that nature. I have never had a complaint of the sort of thing that is alleged at Song Mai and Mylai.

CIVILIANS KILLED

The Chairman. Do you have any idea how many civilians in South Vietnam have been killed in the last 5 years?

Mr. Vann. Sir; there have been a large number of what could only be estimates made as to how many civilians have been killed.

The Chairman. Can you say why the army keeps statistics on body counts, which we have had daily, and why they do not keep any statistics upon civilian deaths?

Mr. Vann. First of all some statistics are kept, but most civilian deaths would probably occur in an area where there was conflict going on and one in which we might or might not occupy the ground after the conflict was over. If we did not occupy it, we would have no way of knowing how many were dead.

SOLATIUM PAYMENTS

The Chairman. How much do you pay in compensation to the survivor of a civilian who is killed by accident?

Mr. Vann. Sir, when it is determined that someone was responsible, the Government of Vietman {sic: Vietnam} or United States aircraft, there is a solatium payment made.

{sic: The} Mr. Chairman. How much is it?

Mr. Vann. Most recently it was 8,000 piasters if it was an adult who was killed.

The Chairman. How much is that in dollars?

Mr. Vann. That is approximately $70, sir. {p.126}

The Chairman. $70.

Mr. Vann. That is not in payment for the act, but to assist the family in burying the dead. There are other claims that they can then make against the Government of Vietnam for loss of livelihood and et cetera.

The Chairman. Do you know how many such payments were made?

Mr. Vann. I would not have the figures for all of Vietnam.

The Chairman. Does anybody have it?

Mr. Vann. I believe they could be compiled with respect to U.S. units.

Mr. Colby. I think I can get a figure for you, Mr. Chairman. I don’t have it right here.

 

(The information referred to follows:)

_______________

The solatium payment for those over 15 years of age that are killed is 4,000 piasters. Those under 15 years old is 2,000 piasters. They do not keep figures on the number of payments that have been made. However, the total payments made last year amounted to 114,713,440 piasters or $972,000.

_______________

U.S. PERSONNEL IN THE DELTA

The Chairman. Didn’t you account for all those 23,000 people? I thought you did. The staff says you did not. Was there any other item?

Mr. Vann. Yes, there were, sir. The chairman changed the subject.

The Chairman. I didn’t particularly want to have you reveal how you changed the staff of each boat. All I wanted to know was the number of people.

Mr. Vann. Right, sir. I gave you 6,000 who were helicopters, the 5,400 engineers, and approximately 5,000 who are Navy. Now in addition to that we have a large number of support forces who provide signal communication, ordnance and transportation maintenance capability to back up some of the equipment that the Vietnamese have, and then the total advisory organization in the Delta, military and civilian, numbers approximately 3,800.

Now in addition to these Americans, sir, there is also an Air Force Advisory organization that exists down in the Delta.

FRENCH AND U.S. PERSONNEL IN VIETNAM

The Chairman. That seems to be even more than the 23,000. I didn’t quite understand your answer to the question of the Senator from Tennessee about the French. It seems to me you are more involved than the French ever were. I understood from the paper the other day that the French only had about 27,000 civil servants in all of Vietnam in the Colonial days administering the entire country, and you have 23,000 in your Corps alone.

Mr. Vann. Sir, the French were there in the role of province chiefs and deputy province chiefs and commanders of the military forces, not as advisers.

The Chairman. Why should there be so many more advisers than there are commanders?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know that there should be or that there are, sir.

The Chairman. I am sure I read within the last week that in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, all of Indo-China, the French had approxi- {p.127} mately 27,000 civil servants to administer that quite sizable colony. We have now 23,000 in the Delta.

Mr. Vann. Sir, we are comparing two different things.

The Chairman. I know we are. It seems to me extraordinary.

Mr. Vann. You are speaking of civil servants and you are comparing them with military personnel. The French also had a rather large French contingent and a rather large Algerian contingent and a rather large—

The Chairman. I understood you to say all combat troops are out and these are not soldiers?

Mr. Vann. That is combat support, sir.

The Chairman. What is that?

Mr. Vann. The 6,000 helicopter people are combat support. The engineers are support personnel. They are not combat personnel.

The Chairman. Do you know how many advisers then who are not running either a machine or firing a gun?

Mr. Vann. Sir, in all of Vietnam we have less than 10,000 advisers.

The Chairman. All of Vietnam?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. That is approximately what I assume the French had, if these other figures are right. How many enemies in the delta do you consider you have?

Mr. Vann. We have an enemy order of battle, this is armed units and guerilla strength, of 35,500. That is backed up by a considerable support force, and it is also backed up by estimates that go as high as 35,000 infrastructure members.

Senator Gore. Mr. Chairman, I have a question.

PHOENIX PROGRAM AND GVN POLITICS

The Chairman. Let me ask the reporter to put in the record here the article I referred to by Mr. Sterba and the article by Mr. Arthur Dommen on the same subject.

 

(The information referred to follows:)

_______________

[From the New York Times, Feb. 18, 1970]

THE CONTROVERSIAL OPERATION PHOENIX: HOW IT ROOTS OUT VIETCONG SUSPECTS

(By James P. Sterba)

SAIGON, South Vietnam, February 17. — As a controversial operation known as Phoenix moves into its third year and to center stage today at Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in Washington, American officials here privately continue to call it one of the most important and least successful programs in South Vietnam.

Designed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to weed out an estimated 75,000 Vietcong political leaders and agents from the civilian population, the program is not the sinister, cloak-and-dagger, terror operation that some critics, including the Vietcong, have portrayed it to be, these officials insist.

“That’s nonsense,” one of them said. “Phoenix is just not a killing organization. The kinds of things they [Foreign Relations Committee members] are probably looking for are not happening that much — which is not to say they are not happening at all.”

SENTENCE WITHOUT TRIAL

Briefly, Phoenix works this way: When local officials feel they have enough evidence against a person suspected of being connected with the Viet-cong, they {p.128} arrest him. If he is not released quickly — suspects often vanish out the back doors of police station within two hours of their arrest — he is taken to a province interrogation center.

A dossier on the suspect is then given to the Provincial Security Council, whose powers are those of a ruling body, not a judicial one. The council may, however, free the suspect or order him jailed for as long as two years without trial.

Once the suspect has served a term in jail he is considered to have been rehabilitated.

Some officials concede that many abuses have occurred under Phoenix and that the program has potential for serious harm if it were used, for example, to harass legitimate political opposition. Yet in the over-all portrait of Phoenix painted here, the program appears more notorious for inefficiency, corruption and bungling than for terror.

Like many other programs in Vietnam, Phoenix looks best on paper. Officials here argue that its controversial reputation has been built more on its secrecy than on its actions.

If someone decided to make a movie about Phoenix, one critic joked, the lead would be more a Gomer Pyle than a John Wayne.

DIFFERING VIEWS

While both American and South Vietnamese officials in Saigon believe the program to be vital, some local officials are less than enthusiastic. Saigon officials contend that unless the Vietcong’s highly skilled political apparatus is destroyed, the Communist movement will continue to prosper regardless of how many guerrillas and enemy soldiers are killed. In many contested areas, however, the local people appear hesitant to upset any informal accommodations made for the sake of survival.

“The local officials are perfectly capable of carrying out this program if they thought they were winning,” one American said.

The Phoenix program, called Phung Hoang by the Vietnamese, was established with the money and organizational talents of the C.I.A. in late 1967. It was officially sanctioned by President Nguyen Van Thieu July 1, 1968.

Under the Ministry of the Interior, administrative committees and intelligence-gathering centers were set up in the 44 province capitals and most of the country’s 242 districts.

About 450 Americans were sprinkled among these groups to serve as advisers and paymasters. A large number were C.I.A. agents or military intelligence officers borrowed by the agency.

MILITARY NOW IN CHARGE

Gradually, the C.I.A.’s role was taken over by United States military men so that at this moment according to officials, of the 441 Americans involved in Phoenix, all six are military men. Last July 1, overall authority for American adsorbed by U.S. military headquarters here.

The program was set up to operate at the local level, where the problems begin.

At each “district intelligence coordinating and operations center,” as they are called, teams usually consisting of a South Vietnamese military intelligence officer, an American intelligence adviser — usually a lieutenant — special police agents and local pacification officials are supposed to pool intelligence data and compile dossiers on suspected Vietcong agents within the surrounding communities.

When they feel they have enough evidence, they attempt to find and arrest the suspect.

“The trouble is that in many cases, there is a complete lack of dossiers,” said one civilian official. “You might have a single sentence in a dossier saying that so and so heard the suspect talking about such and such.”

FINDING THE SUSPECTS

Sometimes the arrest may involve a single local policeman. Other Times, it may take a combined police-military operation to go into a hamlet and find a suspect.

In the course of normal military operations, some suspected Vietcong agents may defect, or be killed or captured. When reports of these operations filter back to the Phoenix district headquarters, officials simply call out the numbers and add them to their scores. This helps them meet quotas set by higher headquarters.

“One thing about the Vietnamese — they will meet every quota that’s established for them,” said one critic of the program. “That’s what makes the head count so {p.129} deceptive. How do you know they are not assigning names and titles to dead bodies?”

In 1969, according to official figures, 19,534 Vietcong were “neutralized.” That number included 8,515 reportedly captured, 6,187 killed and 4,832 who defected.

Once a suspect is captured, he automatically becomes a “neutralized” Vietcong and part of the official tallies for the year. This is true despite the fact that many suspects are released an hour or two later through the back doors of local police stations. Starting this year, officials say, suspects will have to be sentenced before they will be counted as “neutralized.”

If the suspect is not released at the local level, he is taken to a province interrogation center for questioning and then confined until his dossier comes before the Province Security Council, composed of the province chief, his deputy for intelligence, the top national policemen in the province, and usually two or three other provincial officials. This may take months.

The provincial council is a ruling body, not a judicial body. The evidence is examined, and the suspect is either released or sentenced. Of the suspects who make it this far, an estimated 30 percent are released for lack of evidence.

“I’ve never heard of anyone having a defense,” said an official familiar with the procedure. “Generally these guys are pretty good and if the district people haven’t turned up enough evidence, the suspect will be released.”

20 PER CENT JAILED

If the council determines that the suspect is a Vietcong agent, he can be “detained” without trial for up to two years. But he usually isn’t.

The program’s American advisers estimated recently that about 20 per cent of the suspects in 1969 were sentenced, and that only a fraction of those were imprisoned for the maximum two years. Most sentences were from three to six months.

Theoretically, those given the maximum sentence are to be sent to federal prisons, such as the one on Conson Island. Some provincial officials are reluctant to do this, however, because by imprisoning a man in their own jails they receive a prisoner-food allotment from the Saigon Government.

After having served a jail sentence, the suspect is given a Government identification card and released on parole. He is supposed to check in from time to time with local police officials.

Having to arrest or capture the same suspect two or three times is frustrating, according to some local advisers in the program, and may have some effect on the statistics in the column relating to slain suspects.

Probably the most controversial arm of the Phoenix program in each province is a group called the Provincial Reconnaissance Unit. It consists of a dozen or more South Vietnamese mercenaries, originally recruited and paid handsomely by the C.I.A. to serve under the province chief as the major “action arm” of the program.

The members of these units, usually an assortment of local hoodlums, soldiers of fortune, and draft-dodgers, receive 15,000 piasters a month. An ordinary soldier gets 4,000 piasters.

Some Saigon officials concede that these units have been employed in extortion and terror. But the officials insist that the units’ foul reputations have been exaggerated.

In October, after second thoughts about the program’s secrecy, Premier Tran Thien Khiem appealed in a speech to the people for aid in identifying Communist agents among them. In many areas, “wanted” posters were distributed.

In one Mekong Delta town, an American official said, Phoenix operatives had worked for months trying to find a Vietcong agent. Within an hour after his “wanted” poster was displayed, a woman appeared at the police station and said the agent lived next door.

_______________

[From the Los Angeles (Calif.) Times, Jan 4, 1970]

GLOOMY, IF FAMILIAR, PICTURE — INFIGHTING COULD DESTROY SOUTH VIETNAMESE DEMOCRACY

(By Arthur J. Dommen)

SAIGON. — Hardly anyone is joking about the long, bruising fight between President Nguyen Van Thieu and the South Vietnamese National Assembly which conceivably could destroy the present democratic regime. {p.130}

Essentially, it is a power struggle between Thieu and the assembly, with the president attempting to force the ouster of three members of the lower house who are accused of being pro-Communist.

One of the accused, Rep. Tran Ngoc Chau, even hinted he would commit suicide if found guilty.

Thus far, the struggle has been a draw. Thieu’s efforts to have the three House of Representatives members ousted began last November. It dragged on until Wednesday, when the house voted to support Thieu’s accusations against the three legislators, but refused to expel them.

The president’s chief agent in the assembly declared immediately after the vote that Thieu still intends to nail the deputies to the wall. In turn, the accused deputies threaten to create considerable chaos if they are arrested unconstitutionally.

No one knows how the president actually feels. Since his Dec. 10 outburst comparing the three allegedly pro-Communist deputies to barking dogs, he has said nothing. That may change this week, when he has promised to hold a press conference.

But the fact remains that he has chosen a bad moment for the fight.

The Viet Cong have been telling the people in their midnight propaganda lectures that they are going to announce a broadening of their clandestine Provisional Revolutionary Government. It is generally expected that they will make a deliberately dramatic move in their campaign for a coalition government at about the time of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, which occurs at the beginning of February.

In this context, the drawn-out fight with the National Assembly, with its overtones of illegal mob action and resort to unconstitutional means to achieve his end, has not done anything to improve Thieu’s political image.

The Saigon government’s argument is that everything is negotiable except the right of self-determination of the South Vietnamese people. The Viet Cong’s argument is that the Saigon government is stifling that right.

But the lower house of the National Assembly, though far from being perfectly representative, is the closest thing in the country today to being the voice of the people. Its members are elected by a highest vote count by individual constituencies.

The fact that Thieu — with all the machinery of coercion, enticement and outright vote-buying available to his government — could barely get a majority to support his position against the three deputies has demonstrated once again that he is a minority president.

Furthermore, when one might have expected him to wish to demonstrate the fact that constitutionally he is the president of all the people, whether they agree with him or not, he has instead deliberately embarked on an opposite course. He has proceeded to arrest a number of student leaders and opposition politicians and to close down some of the more intelligently edited of Saigon’s vocal and nationalist newspapers.

Lastly, although Thieu suggested Dec. 10 that the “army and people” might have to take matters into their own hands unless the house acted to expel Chau and the others, it seems now that not all the army agreed with him.

Reliable sources say at least 10 army officers, mostly of lower rank but one a lieutenant colonel, have been placed under arrest in recent days simultaneously with the crackdown on students and politicians.

For Americans, all this makes for a gloomy picture, but a familiar one, unfortunately. Plotting against the exerciser of power is an age-old tradition of the Vietnamese. It is a phenomenon intimately bound up with their concept of the mandate of heaven, which implies public acceptance of abrupt changes of power rather than Western-style evolution and transition.

Doubly unfortunately, the slow but steady progress that the Saigon government has made in the last year with American support in undercutting the Viet Cong power base in the countryside — uncontestably real and genuine progress — counts for little in the event the regime lands itself in a first-rate internal political crisis.

The issue Thieu has chosen as the cause celebre in the assembly fight is the alleged existence of secret dealings with the other side. In doing so, Thieu has compelled Chau and others to publicly defend the legitimacy of contacts between relatives separated by the war.

Some of Thieu’s closest advisers are ex-Viet Minh, or have relatives currently working for either Hanoi or the Viet Cong. This is a fact of life in Vietnam. Furthermore, many South Vietnamese officers have relatives on the other side.

Therefore, involving the army in a political campaign to persecute men who have publicly admitted having contacts with the other side holds a certain amount of danger. {p.131}

So far, there is no firm evidence that this is Thieu’s intention, although the illegal invasion of the lower house premises on Dec. 20 by Thieu supporters searching for the three accused legislators was an ominous sign.

There is nothing the leaders in Hanoi would like to see more than the American forces in South Vietnam becoming embroiled in a highly political confrontation leading to a state of total anarchy. The danger at the moment is that the United States appears to be more bound to the maintenance of a constitutional regime in Saigon than do the leaders of that regime themselves.

_______________

DEATH PAYMENTS IN DELTA

Senator Gore. You asked the witness a moment ago about the number of death payments. He said he did not have the statistics for all of Vietnam. I wonder if you have it for the area for which you have been responsible?

Mr. Vann. No, sir; because mine is an advisory responsibility. U.S. units within the area would keep their own and report it through their own command channel, sir, which does not involve my advisory organization. However, I can secure for you both the Government of Vietnam solatium payments made within my area of responsibility and the U.S. unit solatium payment made within my area of responsibility. I just don’t happen to have it with me.

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN DELTA

Senator Gore. Would you also give an estimate of the civilian casualties in your area?

Mr. Vann. I can give you, sir; the only thing that can be documented, which is the civilian war casualty admissions into the 16 province hospitals in the Delta. That was approximately 28,000 in 1968, and 23,000 in 1969.

Senator Gore. A person who was killed in the village—

Mr. Vann. He would not be admitted, sir, but this would be the only basis we would have for giving any firm figure on civilian casualties.

Senator Gore. I didn’t ask for any firm figure. I asked for your estimate.

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am really not qualified to go into that in detail, but I will give you my judgment. My judgment is that for every person who is admitted to a hospital there is probably a person killed and there are probably two other people who are wounded, but for one reason or another did not get to a hospital. That is a judgment that I have made in the past based upon the information available to me.

Senator Gore. This would mean more than 100,000 civilian casualties in your area?

Mr. Vann. That would mean approximately that figure, sir. But keep this in mind, too: That is casualties from all forms of action. That involves the mortaring of our district and province capitals that is done by the enemy. It involves the number of buses blown up on the highway by the enemy with mines that are not discriminate.

It involves firing into a village and a hamlet.

Senator Gore. Mr. Chairman, may I have one other question?

The Chairman. Yes.

COMBAT AND COMBAT SUPPORT TROOPS

Senator Gore. You draw a distinction between combat troops and combat support troops which raises an interesting question of termi- {p.132} nology. It is said that a Vietnamization goal is the withdrawal of all ground combat troops from South Vietnam, but when I inquired into that I found that the so-called support forces would still include infantry, still include artillery, still include bazooka units and mortar units. I couldn’t find any elements of a U.S. Army that wouldn’t be included in the so-called support troops.

I wonder what is the real difference between a helicopter crew that is in combat and a helicopter crew that is not in combat? Can you explain the difference between combat support and combat helicopter troops?

Mr. Vann. First of all, sir, specifically in answer to your question on the difference between these two type crews: a large amount of helicopter operations in the delta involve the transporting of troops from one area to another. It involves the hauling of Vietnamese and U.S. officials from one area to another and the hauling of supplies from one area to another.

A much lesser part of the helicopter effort in the delta is devoted to the gun ship support that is provided. So there is a distinct difference, just in answer to that specific question.

Senator Gore. Do the men in the helicopter crews engage in combat?

Mr. Vann. Those who fly gun ships do, but that is called combat support.

Senator Gore. So when I read in the paper that we have no combat troops in the delta—

Mr. Vann. Ground combat troops.

Senator Gore. Ground combat troops.

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Gore. But we do have helicopter gun ships?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Gore. With American soldiers fighting and shooting and killing and dying?

Mr. Vann. That is correct, sir.

Mr. Colby. If I might, Senator, the difference, I believe, is largely a question of command and control.

Senator Gore. A difference of what?

Mr. Colby. Of command and control. When you are talking about a ground—

Senator Gore. I think it is also a problem of military terminology and words of military art that give one impression to a military man and something else to the American people who read them.

Mr. Colby. Well, there is a distinction between them as used in the military art.

Senator Gore. Quite a distinction.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Gore. I don’t know exactly how the American people draw the distinction between a helicopter guncrew that is engaged in combat in battle, killing and being killed, but yet they read there are no combat troops in the Delta.

Mr. Colby. No ground combat troops.

Senator Gore. Ground combat troops. {p.133}

U.S. ENGINEERS IN VIETNAM

What about the engineers?

Mr. Colby. They are not a combat force in that sense.

Senator Gore. Do they do any fighting?

Mr. Colby. They do not do any fighting. They do not seek out the enemy to attack them.

Senator Gore. Are they all engineers?

Mr. Colby. They are members of engineer units. They are not all graduate engineers, sir.

Senator Gore. Are they soldiers?

Mr. Colby. They are soldiers and they carry weapons to protect themselves.

Senator Gore. They carry weapons. Are they organized into military units?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir, they are.

Senator Gore. What kind of units?

Mr. Colby. Companies.

Mr. Vann. Construction battalions.

Mr. Colby. Construction battalions.

Mr. Vann. It is the 34th Engineer Construction group. Its principal mission is to construct roads and also some vertical construction. It is primarily involved on roads, however, in the delta.

Senator Gore. To what extent do they engage in combat?

Mr. Vann. Practically none. On occasion, very rare occasion, one of the engineer crews working on the road will be ambushed or attacked. They will then defend themselves. They do not go out as part of a combat operation. And they normally work on roads that are considered secure.

TOTAL COST OF ADVISORY PROGRAMS IN THE DELTA

The Chairman. In that connection what is your budget for this year, Mr. Vann?

Mr. Vann. Sir, we don’t have a budget, as so many people furnish us support. However, I have compiled an estimate of the total cost of the programs for which we have advisory responsibilities in the delta. That is at best only an estimate in which we have to make a lot of judgments. I would not submit it to any auditor at all.

The Chairman. What is it?

Mr. Vann. It comes to $339 million, sir. That includes the pay of the RF and PF soldiers, which is the largest element of it.

The Chairman. Does it include the cost of building the roads?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Is that roadbuilding in the pacification?

Mr. Vann. It includes, sir, every single bit of U.S. resource that we could put a dollar sign on, including the pay of the soldiers, the pay of the advisers, the cost of the cement, the cost of the rock, the cost of the Public Law 480 commodities, everything that I could compile that in any way was a U.S. cost. {p.134}

CASUALTIES IN DELTA SINCE REMOVAL OF GROUND COMBAT TROOPS

Senator Gore. What casualties have these combat support forces in the delta suffered since the ground combat troops have been withdrawn?

Mr. Vann. Sir, over the last 5 months we average, including advisers and members of these various support elements, an average of 15 Americans a month being killed in the delta.

CIVILIAN POPULATION OF DELTA

Senator Gore. What is the civilian population of the delta? Mr. VANN. 5 million, 5.9 million. It represents over a third of the population of South Vietnam.

PERCENTAGE OF ENEMY DEATHS DUE TO U.S. COMBAT SUPPORT

Senator Gore. When we read the number of enemy troops killed by the South Vietnamese Army in a given engagement in the delta, for instance, should we assume that many of these were killed by U.S. gun ships and air support or combat support troops? What percentage of the enemy killed is the result of U.S. combat support troops?

Mr. Vann. We have inquired into that ourselves, sir; and for the last 3 months our estimate is that something less than 30 percent are killed as a result of airpower, that is the aircraft strikes and the helicopter gun ships and the Navy support. We have naval gunfire support.

VICE PRESIDENT’S VISIT TO FRONT

Senator Gore. I was interested to read that our distinguished Vice President was a visitor in Saigon. He took the helicopter trip to visit with U.S. troops at the front. Were you in Saigon at the time?

Mr. Vann. No, sir; I was not.

Mr. Colby. I was, Senator.

Senator Gore. Do you know how great a distance he traveled?

Mr. Colby. I would estimate that he went about 50 miles roughly west of Saigon to a couple of firebases up near the Cambodian border.

Senator Gore. So the front is not very far from Saigon?

Mr. Colby. The front is not very far. The Cambodian border at its nearest point is 35 miles from Saigon, Senator.

Senator Gore. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. The next gentleman we were to have this morning is Mr. Mills

BOMBING AND FORCE REDUCTION

Senator Cooper. May I ask just one question? You have answered in great detail many of these questions. Some of them go to the operation of the military side of Vietnam. You have been to war, and unhappy as these circumstances are, they occur in war; don’t they? Civilians are killed. That is correct; is it not? You know that in World War II the allies bombed populations of Germany.

You say we are now trying not to bomb population centers; so there has been a change.

Let me ask you this: You served there during a period when you saw the continued buildup of our forces in Vietnam; did you? {p.135}

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Cooper. Would you say that you know there is a reduction in forces now?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Cooper. Do you consider that a change in policy?

Mr. Vann. I consider it to be a very distinct change in our national policy in Vietnam, sir.

Senator Cooper. That is all I wanted to ask.

The Chairman. Mr. Mills, do you have a statement to make?

Mr. Mills. Yes; I have, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Will you proceed?

Statement of
Hawthorne Mills, Province Senior Adviser, Tuyen Duc Province

Mr. Mills. Mr. Chairman, I am Hawthorne Mills from California. I am a Foreign Service officer, class 3, on loan to AID for the past 2-1/2 years and now serving as Province Senior Adviser in Tuyen Duc Province in the south central highlands, almost exactly in the geographic center of South Vietnam. My assignment also includes advisory responsibility for the autonomous city of Dalat, the former French summer capital of Indochina, which is now the provincial capital.

TUYEN DUC PROVINCE, DALAT AND INHABITANTS

In area, the province is about 1,815 square miles, a little smaller than the State of Delaware, consisting mainly of rugged, heavily forested mountains with a few broad river valleys and high plateaus.

Until the early 1950’s most of the inhabitants were Montagnard tribesmen. After the Geneva agreement in 1954, however, Vietnamese and ethnic minority refugees from North and Central Vietnam were resettled in fairly homogeneous communities in the arable valleys and along the highways of the province. Today the total population, not counting Dalat City, is about 111,000, of whom roughly 34 percent are indigenous Montagnards, 12 percent refugee minority peoples from the north, and 54 percent are ethnic Vietnamese. Most of Dalat’s 82,000 people have also moved there from other parts of the country in the past 20 years, because until 1950 the French kept the city off limits to all Vietnamese except those working for them.

Today Dalat is an important intellectual, cultural, and economic center which contains a university, the Vietnamese National Military Academy, the Command and General Staff College, and numerous other academic and technical institutions. In addition to its urban center, Dalat’s 27-square-mile area contains dozens of rural hamlets and the chief source of livelihood for the city’s inhabitants is vegetable growing. In the rest of the province, as well, most of the people make their living farming, logging, or raising livestock, although there is some light industry in some of the larger towns.

COMMUNIST ACTIVITY IN DALAT AND TUYEN DUC

Until 1967, Dalat and Tuyen Duc Province had been relatively untroubled by the war; some observers considered the area to be the {p.136} rest and recuperation area for both sides. In December 1967, however, the Communists sent several battalions of troops into the two southern districts, south of Dalat City overran several hamlets and outposts, forced thousands of mountain people to take refuge in more secure areas, interrupted the flow of traffic along the highways, and during Tet of 1968, actually occupied portions of Dalat for more than 2 weeks. Since that time, the Vietcong have continued to make night raids from their base camps in the mountains into the populated areas to get supplies, impress recruits, set up ambushes along the roads, and disrupt the programs of the Vietnamese Government by assassinating officials, blowing up rural health stations, schools and administrative offices, and in general intimidating the people.

GVN EFFORTS TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE SECURITY

The resources of the Government of Vietnam in the province have been stretched to the limit in trying to provide adequate security to the people while at the same time bringing them improved public and social services and helping them to attain a higher living standard. There is only a small number of regular ARVN troops in the province and there are no United States or other free world combat forces, although we do have U.S. engineering, signal, and artillery support units. Therefore, the burden of providing security has fallen upon the regional and popular forces and, to an increasing extent, upon the police and people’s self defense units. In the past 2 years the GVN has succeeded in bringing conditions of relative security to more than 100,000 people of this province who for a time lived under heavy Vietcong influence.

In command of the regional and popular forces, as well as all other Government personnel and activities in the province and city, is a Vietnamese Army lieutenant colonel who serves as both province chief and mayor. His staff at the province, city and district levels is composed of both military and civilian officials. All village and hamlet leaders throughout the province, however, are elected civilians.

COMPOSITION OF U.S. ADVISORY TEAM

Like the province chief’s staff, the advisory team I head is composed of both military and civilian members, each of whom has an advisory relationship with the appropriate official on the Vietnamese side. My deputy is a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and throughout the rest of the team we have civilians and military personnel working side by side, sometimes with an army man in charge, sometimes with a civilian.

At present, the team is composed of nine U.S. civilians, 85 Army officers and senior noncommissioned officers, and seven Filipino and Korean and Australian technicians, as well as a number of Vietnamese development specialists and clerical personnel. Most of the team members are serving outside of Dalat on district advisory teams at each of the district capitals or on mobile advisory teams attached to and living with regional and popular force units in the field.

At the province level, the team has advisers working with Vietnamese counterparts in the following fields: development operations which include agriculture, public health, education, refugees and social welfare, village self-development, public administration and {p.137} many of the other traditional AID areas; public safety, including the national police and the police field forces or gendarmerie; regional and popular forces; engineering; supply and administration; psychological operations and Chieu Hoi; rural development and Montagnard cadre teams which assist villagers in development activities and defense; and traditional military staff sections of S-1 (personnel), S-2 (intelligence), S-3 (operations), S-4 (logistics), and S-5 (civil affairs).

 

The Chairman. That is more complicated than the poverty program; isn’t it? How do you keep track of all of it?

Mr. Mills. Very capable staff.

The Chairman. It must be. Go ahead.

ACTIVITIES OF ADVISERS AND COUNTERPARTS

Mr. Mills. In addition to advising our Vietnamese counterparts, we on the province level team provide support services and guidance to those serving on our district and mobile advisory teams in the field. Our offices are located as close as possible to those of our counterparts; several of our advisers share offices with the Vietnamese they advise. My office is, for instance, just across the hall from the province chief’s so we can discuss our problems and programs whenever necessary, usually several times a day. I also accompany the province chief to meetings with other pacification officials, on inspection trips to approve completed projects where U.S. commodities have been used, and on his frequent field trips to give guidance to village and hamlet officials and military units throughout the province. About once a week we go with his technical service chiefs to spend the night in an outlying hamlet. On these visits he talks with the people in the marketplace, distributes relief commodities, settles problems on the spot, usually sleeps on an air mattress in the local schoolhouse or administrative office, and generally tries to make the national government seem real and important to the population.

The relationships which have been established between the advisers on our team and their counterparts are, in almost all cases, friendly, frank and productive. Our main emphasis is on helping the Vietnamese to make their own system work more efficiently, not substituting our system for theirs. In the 14 months I have been in Dalat, I have seen very real improvements in security, in economic and social conditions, in the willingness of the people to defend themselves, and in the competence and effectiveness of Vietnamese Government officials. Now I would be glad to answer any questions you have.

The Chairman. In that last paragraph you said our main emphasis is to make their system work. You mean their system involved all those different bureaus to which you referred?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. It sounds more like our system to me.

Mr. Mills. Sir, that is an inheritance from the French as the ambassador mentioned. While we don’t have an individual adviser for every technical agency or every operational outfit that they have, we do have someone who follows those affairs on our staff. In many cases it is one individual following eight or 12 different functions.

The Chairman. Did you state how many people in— {p.138}

Mr. Mills. Yes, I did; sir. We have roughly 85 military people and about nine U.S. civilians.

APPOINTMENT AND AUTHORITY OF PROVINCE CHIEF

The Chairman. You said a Vietnamese Army Lieutenant colonel, who serves as both province chief and mayor, is in command of the regional and popular forces as well as all other government personnel and activities of the province. He is not elected; he is appointed.

Mr. Mills. He is appointed; yes, sir.

The Chairman. That is true of all provinces.

Mr. Mills. Yes, it is.

Mr. Colby. The Vietnamese constitution, Mr. Chairman, states that the province chiefs will be elected, but during the President’s first term of office they may be appointed.

The Chairman. Since he is in command of all of the personnel and activities, what is all this talk about elections? What difference does it make if there are elections if they don’t have any authority?

Mr. Mills. But they do have, sir.

The elections are at the local level at the hamlet and village level. The rural population has elected its own representatives who in turn go to the district officials and the province officials with suggestions for development of the village and with the problems of the people.

The Chairman. But the final word is the province chief’s; isn’t it. Perhaps I am reading something into this. You say he is in command of all Government personnel. Does Government personnel include the local officials?

Mr. Mills. In a sense, but not in the sense I meant it in this statement, sir. I was speaking of his staff, both military and civilian. I was trying to indicate he was both the military commander and the province chief on the civil side as well. The local officials, the elected officials at the village and hamlet level are responsible to the people who elect them and not to the province chief, although, of course, they must follow the guidelines and the rules laid down for them.

The Chairman. You say he is in control of all Government personnel and activities in the province and the city? That is very all-inclusive language and what I was trying to determine is how extensive is his responsibility. He would seem to have very extensive powers.

Mr. Mills. He does.

The Chairman. And you are his adviser?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROVINCE SENIOR ADVISER AND PROVINCE CHIEF

The Chairman. How does that particular relationship work? Does he ask your advice, or do you volunteer it? How does this operate? Do you have an office across the hall? What happens? Describe it as best you can to the uninitiated.

Mr. Mills. I think it would be easier if we talk about a specific case.

The Chairman. All right, do it any way you like.

Mr. Mills. Right.

In our development operations section, for instance, his staff will be working on the public works program for the coming year. People {p.139} on my staff who follow the engineering and the public works section will get together with his staff and discuss how much money will be available, and what the priorities ought to be in using this money. My staff will discuss it with me, and the province chief’s staff will discuss it with the province chief. Before we have our weekly pacification and development council meetings, the province chief and I will talk about it. We will bring our best judgment to bear on what the best way would be of using the resources available. This happens in all other areas. I am advised by the people on my staff who handle the technical aspects. I also am his adviser in the military sense as well, but, of course, I rely very heavily on the military officers on nay staff for that kind of advice. It is a very informal relationship. He doesn’t come to me and say, “I would like to have your advice on this particular subject,” but in the course of our inspection trips, in our planning for new projects, in a manner of conversational discussion of the issues, my ideas on what ought to be done are brought out. He may or may not decide that this is the advice he wants to take. It would make my job much easier, of course, if he would take all the American advice that we think would contribute to the development of his province. This is in no case true. He is his own man.

The Chairman. Has he ever declined to take your advice?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. What is an example of that?

Mr. Mills. Well, in one case, to continue the example that I started of the pacification plan for 1970, we felt that too much of the rather limited amount of money which he had available for development purposes was going into roads and that there ought to be a higher proportion devoted to secondary schools, which is a large need. We have pretty much completed the requirements for primary schools in our area, but there still is not an adequate secondary school plan.

We advised that more schoolrooms be built at the secondary level and that more secondary teachers be trained. Partly because he had more capability for doing a roadbuilding project, he elected to spend a larger proportion on roads and bridges than we thought was a good balance.

FUNDING OF PACIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The Chairman. Who supplied the money?

Mr. Mills. It comes from the national Government. A group from the central pacification and development council came down later after the province chief’s plan was submitted, discussed the various elements of the plan, and approved these projects on the spot.

The Chairman. So it wasn’t American money?

Mr. Mills. It is not American money directly.

Mr. Colby. There is American counterpart money in it, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Lets not get confused over language. There is no difference between counterpart. We agreed on that yesterday.

Mr. Colby. Yes, as far as Mr. Mills is concerned he feels that it is part of the Vietnamese Government budget, but at the national level we realize that there is American counterpart money involved which comes from American taxpayers’ dollars. {p.140}

BUDGET FOR TUYEN DUC PROVINCE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

The Chairman. How much is the budget for your operation in your area?

Mr. Mills. Do you mean to run the advisory effort or for the Vietnamese development scheme?

The Chairman. I mean the operation which you advise.

Mr. Mills. This is a little difficult.

The Chairman. What is the budget of the operation to which you give advice? I don’t know how to describe it, but similar to Mr. Vann having the whole delta area. He described that in some detail. He has $330 million or $339. What do you have — $200 million or $100 or what?

Mr. Mills. No, sir, not by any means.

The Chairman. What do you have?

Mr. Vann. Let me qualify that; that is not a budget control; that is just my estimate of the total involved.

The Chairman. I understand you estimated it. I am not going to hold you to the dollar. You gave us some idea of the magnitude. This is very significant, Mr. Vann. I am not saying it critically of you, but it is interesting that very few Americans have the slightest idea what this operation costs. It is usually presented in terms of statistics, which mean nothing to them. Even that amount is so large that it leaves most of them without any particular impression. If it can be translated into something about which they know, why it means more. All I am trying to do is to find out the magnitude of the operation in your area. You don’t have to be precise. I know you don’t know to the penny. Is it quite large or what is it?

Mr. Mills. Yes, there is quite a bit of money being spent for development activities in my province.

The Chairman. That is what I meant. How much?

Mr. Mills. I have to do it bit by bit because we don’t have any overall allocation. These come from different parts of the Vietnamese Government. To take an example of the self-development funds for next year, we have been allocated 17 million piasters, when I say we, the Vietnamese Government, in carrying on its public works. Its education and health programs amount to roughly 17 million piasters for the province and another 14 million for developmental programs in the city of Dalat, for a total of 31 million, which is roughly $270,000.

In addition to that, of course, there are very large amounts of money spent for the payment of RF and PF soldiers. We have roughly 5,000 of those in the province. They draw approximately, well, I would average it out 5,000 or 6,000 piasters per month per man. This runs up to a considerable amount of money.

Payment to the province chief’s staff costs money. We are now engaged in a program of improving the electrical facilities of the city of Dalat. Some of the normal urban problems have been laid aside because of the war, and now we are in a position to go ahead and do some of those. Those will cost a good deal of money.

ROAD BUILDING ACTIVITIES

The Chairman. Did you say building roads?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir, most of the roads in the province have been {p.141} built. We have a U.S. engineering unit which has been upgrading these.

The Chairman. Did you pay for those or did they come out of the Department of Defense?

Mr. Mills. No, sir, we don’t have any control over the U.S. engineering unit at all, and we don’t include their expenses in our provincial accounts at all.

The Chairman. The Department of Defense pays that?

Mr. Mills. I can’t really say.

The Chairman. Or AID, one or the other.

Mr. Colby. The Department of Defense would pay those.

The Chairman. They are the ones who have the money. They are the ones who ought to pay for it.

DECISIONMAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT FUNDS

When it comes to a question of whether you spend the money for roads or for schools, the province chief makes the decision?

Mr. Mills. Not entirely, sir. The province chief is more and more looking to the villages, for instance, They have, in 1969, for the first time, a great deal of decisionmaking responsibility as to how these local funds are spent. The village people get together in council and decide. They know a certain amount of money based upon their population will be allocated for a development project. The people themselves can decide whether they want to improve the marketplace in the town, whether they want to set up a profitmaking organization such as a Lambretta service to take people to the nearest district town, or whether they want to build a social or community center for the young people. They make the decisions. They have the final decisions on projects up to a certain amount of money. Beyond a certain point their projects must be approved by the province chief but in general he follows the recommendations of the people at the village level who themselves have decided.

U.S. ADVISERS AT VILLAGE LEVEL

The Chairman. Do the village authorities have advisers, too?

Mr. Mills. No, sir, we have no CORDS advisers to the village authorities. The village chiefs now have authority over the PF platoons and the PSDF Peoples Self-Defense Units, Security. We do have advisory teams which operate sometimes at the village levels in advising these elements. We have no direct advisers to the village level civil officials.

The Chairman. Not permanently, but there are mobile ones.

Mr. Mills. Well, these are strictly advising on military and security tactics and the pacification aspects of military affairs.

PROVINCE CHIEFS AND DISTRICT CHIEFS

The Chairman. Does the province chief dominate the district chiefs?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir; well, actually these are nominated by the President. I believe.

The Chairman. On the recommendation of the province chiefs. {p.142}

Mr. Mills. I am not sure whether he even recommends.

Mr. Colby. No, the Prime Minister appoints district chiefs, Mr. Chairman. The President appoints province chiefs.

The recommendations come from a variety of places, and frequently they are new people to that province.

The Chairman. How long does a province chief serve?

Mr. Mills. At the pleasure of the President.

The Chairman. At the pleasure of the President.

Mr. Mills. Some of them have been there for a number of years. Some of them have had fairly short tours.

The Chairman. Senator Cooper.

PROGRESS OF PACIFICATION

Senator Cooper. I am sorry. I am going to have to go. But I would like to ask this general question. Do you share the optimism of Colonel Vann about the pacification progress and do you believe that the local people will be able to carry on this program successfully without American presence?

Mr. Mills. Of course, I don’t have the perspective that Mr. Vann has. I have been dealing with Vietnamese affairs only since the summer of 1967. But certainly in the time I have been there I have seen a number of changes which lead me to believe that we are working our way out of a job in Vietnam and that is, of course, what we are trying to do.

On my team, for instance, since I have been there, we have felt it was no longer necessary to have an adviser to the Vietnamese supply system. The Vietnamese have achieved such good standards of war housing and supply control that we could pull out our logistics adviser.

Since I have been there we have pulled out the refugee and social welfare adviser because the Vietnamese on their side are doing a much better job of supervising the welfare setup that they have. We have removed one of our police advisers from the province because the police are beginning to do the kind of things we have been advising them for some time to do. Based on this experience, I really believe that there will come a time when the Vietnamese will be perfectly capable of doing this by themselves.

I believe with Mr. Vann and Mr. Colby and others that as we withdraw Americans troops to be replaced by Vietnamese, this may create a bigger burden on the Vietnamese in the sort of peacetime activities that we in the CORDS program are concerned with to some extent. So I am not sure that the CORDS advisers or the traditional Agency for International Development advisers will be in a position to leave quite as soon as the combat units. But eventually we will certainly come to that point.

Senator Cooper. Thank you. I have no further questions.

DECREASE IN NUMBER OF U.S. ADVISERS

The Chairman. I have forgotten now, but you said that there were how many, 84 in your team?

Mr. Mills. Well, roughly 100, sir.

The Chairman. A hundred? {p.143}

Mr. Mills. Not quite.

The Chairman. You think they will be decreasing because of the efficiency of the operation now; is that correct?

Mr. Mills. Yes, sir. I think we have cut the team down by about 20 altogether.

The Chairman. Was it 20 more than that a year ago?

Mr. Mills. Yes sir.

The Chairman. And a year from now you hope it will go further down?

Mr. Mills. I hope so.

PROBLEM OF CORRUPTION

The Chairman. As I understood you, the problem of corruption has been controlled; there is no longer any corruption.

Mr. Mills. I don’t believe I said that.

The Chairman. Didn’t you? Maybe it was Mr. Vann. I am sorry; I have it mixed up.

Mr. Vann. No sir, I did not get involved in that.

The Chairman. You didn’t?

Mr. VANN . But I will if you wish. There is still a problem of corruption.

VIETNAMIZATION AND PACIFICATION QUESTIONED

The Chairman. I will come back to it. I wanted to read you a comment called “Letter from Saigon” by a rather well known observer. This is Mr. Shaplen. Do you know Mr. Shaplen?

Mr. Mills. I know some of his books.

The Chairman. This is from the New Yorker magazine of January 31, 1970. I didn’t read it all, but he says:

Technology and bureaucracy are surely not enough when Communists are still far from defeated — when, as one veteran American economic development worker commented, “Two Vietcong in a hamlet can still undo most of what we’ve accomplished.”

That is a quote. Then he says:

The Americans, after fighting the war themselves for too long, without equipping and training a mobile Vietnamese army are now, as they hastily try to put American-style social-welfare and economic-improvement programs into effect, again doing the job themselves instead of letting the Vietnamese learn the hard way.

The Chairman. Do you think that is an accurate statement?

Mr. Mills. No, sir, I don’t. Certainly not at Tuyen Duc Province which is all I can speak for.

 

(The article follows:)

_______________

[From the New Yorker, Jan. 31, 1970]

LETTER FROM SAIGON, JANUARY 20

On February 6th, another Tet holiday will usher in the Year of the Dog, and while there are as many opinions about what will happen in Vietnam in 1970 as there are breeds of dog, there is universal agreement that it will be the most critical year since this misbegotten war begain {sic: began} a decade ago. If President Nixon, backed by his silent majority, sticks to his tentative timetable, it will amost {sic: almost} surely be the last year of major American combat involvement. This does not mean that a year from now American troops of all sorts will not be engaged in some lighting, or that {p.144} the American death toll of just over forty thousand could not eventually rite to fifty thousand or more. Under the present withdrawal plan, between twenty and forty thousand American military advisers and technicians will be left here as late as the end of 1972, and the lower figure will still be about three times the number that were in the country in 1962. Those Americans who are known here as “the new optimists” — people who believe that the process of Vietnamization is really beginning to work — acclaim the Nixon program as the only sensible course. Others who are more skeptical believe that if Vietnamization is to have any success five years or more will be needed. And still others are convinced that no amount of time will enable our allies to master the complex weapons systems that the Americans themselves have had only limited success in using conventionally in this unconventional war.

Apart from the military arguments, even those Americans here who are most strongly opposed to the war and want to get out quickly are forced to admit that a further acceleration of the American withdrawal, in the absence of sudden concessions by Hanoi, would endanger the vulnerable social and economic reconstruction programs and perhaps provoke the collapse of the present Saigon government. However, more and more people are beginning to wonder whether another government might not be able to end the war sooner and still preserve an independent, non-Communist South Vietnam, and perhaps a stronger and sounder one as well. The constitutional “legality” of the present Administration, which was elected for a four-year term that will end in the fall of 1971, is still acknowledged, but such legality is not held to be as sacrosanct as it was a few months ago. The doubts that are arising about both the intentions and the political efficacy of the Thieu regime could therefore prove to be more important than all the complicated technical and administrative machinery of Vietnamization, and their consequences could unhinge Nixon’s whole scheme.

However justified or unjustified the skepticism may be concerning Nixon’s silent majority in the United States, a silent majority unquestionably exists among the seventeen million South Vietnamese, and although this majority opposes the Communists, only a relatively small portion of it is really behind Thieu. This much is admitted by Thieu’s most enthusiastic American supporters, who have nursed him along through uncertainty and self-doubt to his current euphoric overconfidence, which bears a growing resemblance to the overweening, self-destructive assurance shown by the late President Ngo Dinh Diem at the end of the nineteen-fifties. Nixon and Thieu, who are alike in many ways, will most likely do their best not to upset each other’s plans, which are carefully calculated to bring about their respective reelections. Whatever Nixon may privately think of Thieu — and it is hard to imagine that he could actually believe the Vietnamese President to be, as he has called him, “one of the four or five best political leaders in the world” — he will almost surely go to any lengths to avoid an upheaval in Saigon that might affect his twofold aim of getting out of Vietnam as gracefully and quickly as possible and keeping himself in the White House until 1976. Like pilot and co-pilot on a takeoff, they have reached a point of no return, and now they must fly on together toward their common destination. It will be ironic for Nixon if the flight is hijacked by some of Thieu’s more fractious passengers.

Obviously, this is one of the eventualities the Communists are hoping for; in fact, their present strategy and tactics are geared to it. Last year and the year before, Hanoi’s plan was to keep American casualties at a high enough level to stir up strong sentiment against the war in the United States, as a way of achieving its ultimate aim of American withdrawal and a favorable political solution through the forced establishment of a coalition government. Their 1970 plan is apparently designed to achieve the same aim by subtler means; namely, by attacking the Vietnamization program on all levels through increased terrorism, and by further denigrating and dividing the by no means popular Thieu Administration. Naturally, the Communists’ official line is that Vietnamization cannot work, but at the same time they appear to worry that it might; at least, this would account for what seems to be a strong difference of opinion in Hanoi about how the war in the South should now be fought. Some observers, citing manpower and production problems that the North Vietnamese themselves have admitted to, believe that a power struggle is beginning. After the death of Ho Chi Minh last September 3rd, the triumvirate of Premier Pham Van Dong; Le Duan, the First Secretary of the Laodong (Workers’) Party; and Truoug Chinh, the chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee, seemed to be taking over smoothly and swiftly. Now, however, there are some signs that Dong, who might be said to occupy the driver’s seat, is being subjected to more and more back-seat driving from Chinh and Duan, who differ with him and each other about priorities at {p.145} home, especially in the vital areas of agricultural production and Party reorganization and discipline. While Duan, as the chief Party leader, is working closely with Dong to keep the government running properly and to maintain a balance between Moscow and Peking, he appears to believe that Hanoi can win the war in the South, or at least achieve a stalemate, in a relatively short time, and will then be in a position to pay more attention to domestic difficulties. China, the chief Party ideologist, who has recently been appearing in public almost weekly and who follows a more pro-Peking line, wants to shore up the North’s economy first, and accepts the inevitability of a protracted challenge in the South. In a succession of statements and speeches, which have covered everything from the effects of floods and droughts on food production to revisionist trends in art and the need to revitalize “mass leadership,” Chinh has sounded increasingly like a scolding leader of the Cultural Revolution in China. Duan, on the other hand, appears in public only rarely, and, when he did so late in October, declared pragmatically, “The collective system must be firmly maintained. It is inadvisable to adopt the opinion of one person and force all others to follow it.”

Even if the differences of opinion and of approach in North Vietnam are not yet serious enough to amount to a power struggle, and I don’t think they are, they do convey some idea of the complicated situation in that country. The statements being made by both sides in this long and brutal war are, in fact, increasingly shrill and confused. The Vietnamese opponents have come to seem like two punch-drunk prizefighters in an old-time bareknuckle brawl that has lasted more rounds than either can remember. Both are wobbly and can hardly stand but are kept going by their seconds, who between rounds clean them up, fix their cuts, and give them smelling salts, then send them out again when the bell rings. Sooner or later, one of the weary battlers may simply collapse and drop to the canvas. Or the fight may go on and on, with the spectators helpless. It is easy to say that if the seconds would just pack up and go home it would all be over, but the seconds can’t; neither the American moral predicament nor Communist revolutionary dialectics and objectives will permit it.

The most important Communist statements made recently on the military and political direction of the war are contained in a seven-part article by General Vo Nguyen Giap, North Vietnam’s Defense Minister, that appeared in two Hanoi newspapers in mid-December, and in copies of a number of directives that were captured in South Vietnam — notably a pair called “COSVN Resolution Nine” and “COSNV {sic: COSVN} Resolution Ten.” Through the veracity of captured documents has often been questioned, I have seen the Vietnamese originals of the ones I am referring to, and am sure that they are authentic. “COSVN” stands for Central Office for South Vietnam, which is the headquarters that, under Hanoi’s direction, runs the war in the South, and which is at present situated in Cambodia, just across the western border of Tay Ninh Province, northwest of Saigon, and has a forward headquarters in Tay Ninh itself. There have been ten resolutions since COSNV {sic: COSVN} was established, at the end of 1961, or about a year after the creation of the National Liberation Front in the South. These resolutions are, in effect, orders and interpretations of orders for Party workers and followers in South Vietnam, and are based on prior Laodong resolutions, handed down from Hanoi. For example, Resolution Nine, which was issued last July, was based on a Laodong resolution issued by the Politburo in Hanoi in April. Resolution Nine was captured here when a Communist courier was ambushed and killed by members of an American brigade north of Saigon in October. It was the first complete resolution ever obtained, and it is considered especially significant because it contains a lengthy and detailed analysis of the war. It was presumably written by Pham Hung, the fourth-ranking member of the Hanoi Politburo and the highest-ranking Communist in the South, who directs both the military and the political war effort, and one sign of its importance is that Party workers are ordered to study it for “fifty hours.” It charts a complicated, sometimes seemingly contradictory, course for “achieving a decisive victory within a relatively short period of time” while “firmly grasping the precept of protractedness” in order to “defeat the enemy in case they try to prolong the war.” Hopes for rapid American deescalation and for the failure of Vietnamization are repeatedly expressed, as is the hope that the Americans will be “forced to seek an early end to the war through a political solution that they cannot refuse;” namely, a cease-fire followed by the establishment of a coalition government. While accepting the fact that “the Saigon area is our major battlefield for the whole of South Vietnam,” Resolution Nine appears to acknowledge the difficulty of again laying siege to Saigon and other major cities in the manner of the 1968 Tet offensive. One phrase that is constantly reiterated is “especially in the Delta,” and it is there in particular — the rich {p.146} rice region south of Saigon — that Communist troops are supposed to grab the initiative and “liberate and control the major part of the rural area ... and build the liberated areas into perfect revolutionary bases to serve as the firm, direct rear of the resistance.” It is in the Mekong Delta, however, where guerrilla activity back in 1959 touched off the present war, that the South Vietnamese government has made the most progress in the last year. Largely on the basis of advances in this area, President Thieu has claimed that his government now “controls” ninety-five per cent of the total population of South Vietnam — a claim that even optimistic Americans privately acknowledge to be exaggerated by at least fifteen per cent.

There is no doubt that improvements have taken place. Many roads that had been closed to traffic for years are open again. Rice and other produce are moving, a number of former contested areas have now been brought under either partial or nearly complete government control, and thousands of the people who had been living in Communist villages and hamlets have crossed over into safer zones. It is in the Delta, too, that the biggest improvement has been made in the use of Regional and Popular Forces — the provincial and local troops — which together now number almost half a million men and are being supplied with more and more American M-16 rifles. With American help — and our air and artillery support particularly are still vital — the South Vietnamese have managed to set up outposts in the two long-established Vietcong base areas in the Delta — the U Minh Forest and Base Area 470 — close to the Cambodian border. That the Communists are now feverishly concerned about the Delta is therefore no surprise.

Late last year, the North Vietnamese 273rd Regiment moved into the area — the first time that Hanoi elements had come that far south. With the announced withdrawal of the American 9th Division — a unit that established a tremendously high, and quite possibly exaggerated, ratio of combat losses to enemy casualties, and left as many enemies as friends among the South Vietnamese — the North Vietnamese shifted more forces south. Today, there are elements of four additional North Vietnamese regiments in the Delta, and also countless North Vietnamese sent in as replacements to fill out depleted main-force Vietcong units, some of which are now eighty per cent North Vietnamese. All in all, there are probably ten thousand North Vietnamese soldiers in the area, and, counting political workers, main-force Vietcong, local guerrillas, and men, women, and children handling supplies and acting as communications and liaison personnel, a total of between fifty and sixty thousand Communists are active there. Although the rate of infiltration from North Vietnam at any given time is extremely difficult to determine until months later, when certain elements in the South may be identified, the best available intelligence indicates that four or five thousand North Vietnamese came South during November and somewhat fewer in December. These figures, if they are right, are in keeping with the overall Hanoi plan to fight the war in the South in 1970 by using highly trained, fast-striking small units to attack larger American and South Vietnamese units whenever an opportunity arises and continuing to attack such important targets as government administrative centers.

What the Communists have been doing in the Delta in the past few weeks admittedly has American military and intelligence experts baffled. For example, Hanoi has put parts of two regiments into the U Minh Forest, where they can be bottled up and subjected to artillery and air attack. Obviously, the Communists are getting ready for something, but no one knows what. The best guess is that, in conjunction with forces that they are maintaining in the Central Highlands to the north, and also still farther north, adjacent to Laos, they are doing two things: slowly establishing a new system of linked base areas reaching all the way from North Vietnam to the tip of the Delta, and getting ready to sweep eastward from these bases to attack district capitals, and perhaps some provincial capitals as well — one of which, either in the Highlands or in a remote section of the Delta, is likely to be proclaimed the capital of the Provisional Revolutionary Government that COSVN and Hanoi established last June. Such a widespread campaign, aimed at seizing specific places and simultaneously disrupting the pacification and Vietnamization programs, could pave the way for a cease-fire and political talks. What Hanoi may have in mind is the consolidation of a wide belt of territory embracing all of western Vietnam and all of eastern Laos, including, in Laos, part of the Plane des Jarres, which the Communists lost last fall. Together, these areas would constitute a “‘liberated” system of interlocking zones, which, except for some of the Delta regions, are largely, uninhabited. What would follow if this happens might lead, according to what is called by American officials the “leopard-spot theory,” to regional ceasefires accompanied by political accommodation and followed by local and regional elections, the end result being the division of both Vietnam and {p.147} Laos into Communist and non-Communist areas. Although such a partition could become a permanent or semi-permanent solution in Laos, it probably couldn’t in Vietnam, for political and guerrilla warfare would undoubtedly continue regardless of ceasefires. There is no doubt that in Hanoi’s eyes “ultimate victory” still means unification of Vietnam, and Hanoi is likely to persist in this aim even if it takes five, ten, or twenty years longer.

 

A number of references in Resolution Nine to completing Party organizational work by “June, 1970.” indicate both that the task is urgent and that if a “decisive victory” can be attained by that date a cease-fire may end the major fighting, at least temporarily, and the political struggle may be stepped up. Portions of Resolution Ten and other documents exploit the cease-fire theme further. There are frequent references to “the situation developing quickly.” According to a notebook taken from the body of a high-ranking officer killed southeast of Saigon in November, the Communists in order to expedite American withdrawal and “frustrate de-Americanization,” can create “an unfavorable situation for the Americans and the Saigon government when a cease-fire is stipulated” if “we capitalize on the opportunity by planting our personnel in government-controlled areas to take advantage of any changes” — possibly a reference to an anti-Thieu coup. This notebook adds, “In the immediate future, we will accept a cease-fire. Whenever the cease-fire is promulgated by us, our troops will continue to attack and overrun government Army posts. We will not make prisoners of puppet soldiers. Rather, we will educate them and release them on the spot. But we have to capture as many [enemy] soldiers as possible in preparation for a political settlement.” Another document, believed to be a section of Resolution Ten, speaks of an increase in military proselytizing among both government and allied forces and of supporting “a fifth column in place” within allied units to erode morale, instead of simply encouraging deserters.

There has been considerable discussion of whether the Communists, if they took over South Vietnam, would kill their political enemies, as they did in North Vietnam in 1945-46, and again in the mid-fifties, when there was a peasant rebellion against enforced collectivization; between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand people were killed during each period. Predictions about such matters are hazardous, but although the Communists have joined the rest of the world in condemning the American massacre at My Lai — or, to give it its correct Vietnamese geographical designation, Tu Cong — in March, 1968, they have also, according to scores of documents I have just read, given orders to “kill tyrants and traitors” throughout the country now and also when uprisings take place just before and just after a cease-fire is declared. The rate of terrorism, including the assassination of village and hamlet officials, especially those engaged in pacification and self-defense, rose at the end of 1969 quit sharply, having averaged slightly less per month during the rest of the year than in 1968, when during the Tet offensive in Hue the Communists appear, on the evidence of mass graves still being uncovered, to have murdered close to five thousand people — government functionaries, anti-Communist politicians, pro-government intellectuals, religious leaders, and so on. The documents captured during 1969 also included orders to “annihilate” opposition elements by categories, much as was initially done in Hue. Several of the documents gave orders for the “annihilation” of a specific number of people in each of various villages in central Vietnam; for one province, the number ranged from five to forty per village. Instructions issued in mid-1969 to Party committees of two Delta provinces ordered rosters to be prepared of “wicked village delegates, policemen, hamlet chiefs and assistant hamlet chiefs, intelligence agents, spies, and betrayers who have committed a blood debt against our people.” One document advocated careful procedures, saying, “We should not take advantage of the situation to terrorize, assassinate, and torture indiscriminately. We should fully understand the policy of using violence and implement it correctly and democratically.” Another document was more blunt. “Each comrade must kill one reactionary,” it said.

A distinction should be made between captured enemy documents, usually sent out for official Communist guidance, and public speeches or articles, such as the seven-part article by General Giap. The importance of Giap’s article lies in the imprimatur it gives to the earlier COSVN resolutions and documents and in the corroboration it offers of the kind of war the Communists are now preparing to fight — one emphasizing “the art of using a small force to fight a big force.” In his current article, Giap, sounding far less positive and confident than he did when he wrote his famous guerrilla textbook “People’s War, People’s Army,” in the fifties, speaks of “the great imbalance of numerical strength and population, and also a great imbalance of technical equipment,” and of the need for enough time {p.148} ”to gradually exterminate and weaken the enemy’s forces, to restrict their strength and aggravate their weaknesses, to gradually strengthen and develop our forces and overcome our deficiencies.” The theme throughout is to make economical use of the forces that the Communists have at their command, which are now estimated to include a hundred and thirty thousand North Vietnamese fighting men in the South (or in rest camps in Cambodia), in a total combined force — among which are Vietcong main-force units, guerrillas, political workers, supply troops, and so on — of three hundred and thirty thousand.

A recent study, based partly on interviews with some of the six thousand North Vietnamese battlefield prisoners being held in South Vietnam, reaches the conclusion that the North Vietnamese are still deeply dedicated to their cause of the “liberation” of the South and hold a continuing staunch belief in the advantages of Communism in the North. This belief, which, it has been found, is held even by sons of some former landowners who were killed in the mid-fifties’ purge, entails acceptance of the harsh regimen and strict security measures imposed on the North by the war, and a conviction that the war in the South has been a legitimate drive for “national salvation” — a natural and logical sequel to the struggle against the French that began in 1945. Anti-Americanism is the basis of this belief — an extension of the violent anti-colonial feelings that led to the victory over the French in 1954. Thus, although the North Vietnamese soldiers regard their three-to-six-month trip to the South as a painful experience, and although many of them acknowledge, with a kind of Buddhist or Taoist fatalism, that they may never return to their homes and families again, they tend to accept their role as a totally unavoidable commitment, a responsibility from which there is no escape. The attitude of these North Vietnamese soldiers is in considerable contrast to the feelings of many South Vietnamese Vietcong hoi chanh (returnees), who have averaged twenty-five thousand a year over the last four years, compared to a total of less than two hundred North Vietnamese who have defected without being forced to surrencer {sic: surrender} on the battlefield since the war began. There are many dedicated Vietcong soldiers, but there are just as many who, after joining the Communists either voluntarily or by impressment — and in the last two years the latter has been the case more and more often — have revealed a negative attitude. A large number of the hoi chanh who volunteered have said that they did so because they were against the government for one reason or another — lack of faith in the successive Saigon regimes, anger over specific cruel or discriminatory actions by local officials. Those who had fought the hardest for the Vietcong did so because they related their actions directly to what they felt for the South Vietnamese “homeland,” and they showed no strong convictions about reunification with the North.

Until recently — and even now, to a lesser extent — they were also motivated by the belief that they were fighting on the winning side. Something that is new in the past year, according to the study, is a decline in morale, owing to physical and economic hardship — the result, in large part, of the devastating B-52 raids (These raids are to be continued, at reduced strength, during the coming period of Vietnamization.) The drop in morale has also been due in part to the diminishing number of zealous and well-trained political workers. Today, there is less expounding of revolutionary ideology, less careful indoctrination, and more direct preaching about anti-Americanism and survival, together with vague allusions to promotion and status once the war is won. The great losses that the Communists suffered during Tet in 1968 and the decline in morale after the death of Ho Chi Minh (on the whole, oddly, this has been greater in the South than in the North) also have made recruitment in the South more difficult. The Communists are still taking people on, at a rate of at least five thousand a month, but most of the new recruits are boys of eleven or twelve, women, and old men, and most of them have been impressed into service. Despite all this, and despite growing friction between the dedicated Northerners and the Southerners who dream more simply of peace, interrogations indicate that the average Communist political worker in the South still has stronger motivation than his counterpart on the government side.

Because what is now South Vietnam has, historically, been more often divided than united, and because it has been subject to more divisive foreign influences than the North, the South Vietnamese inevitably lack the solidarity and the sustained revolutionary ardor of their Northern brethren, and are today bewildered and uncertain about their own capacity to hold together and to restore their broken nationalist roots under the harsh imperatives of time and of such essentially artificial programs as “Vietnamization” and “pacification.” To be “Vietnamized” or “pacified” or “reconstructed” — words that Aldous Huxley or George Orwell would have relished — without being given time or opportunity to rediscover a {p.149} Southern consciousness, which exists but lies deeply submerged, is apt to be meaningless. This is the fundamental problem in South Vietnam today, and nothing makes this fact clearer than a trip, such as one I made last month, through the provinces of the seething Delta. In certain respects, the journey is comparable to a tour of New York City that includes the ugly, violent slums of Harlem and Williamsburg, the bland middle-class sections of Queens and the Bronx, and the insulated wealthy blocks of upper Fifth and Park Avenues. It may be no accident that the two terms one hears used most often by the Americans in Vietnam these days are “social mobility” and “decentralization.” The first has to do with the involvement of many more people in the Revolutionary Development programs and in the complex bureaucratic social structure of the provinces. There are now hundreds of new “experts.”

Seventeen different types, including village chiefs, are being trained at Vung Tau, on the coast near Saigon, for rural-development work of one sort or another; district and province chiefs are being specially trained elsewhere. Ordinary villagers are getting short courses designed to encourage building up useful relationships among themselves and among neighboring communities. The Americans hope that when elections are held for provincial councils, sometime this spring or summer (the forty-four province chiefs will continue to be appointed), social mobility will increase, especially if, as is anticipated, each candidate is required to run from the district in which he lives. As for decentralization, it is a concomitant of social mobility. It refers to the reestablishment of traditional local autonomy through the election of hamlet and village chiefs and councils. On the average, four to six hamlets make up a village, and, according to the latest American figures, there are 2,157 villages and 10,731 hamlets in South Vietnam. Ninety-two per cent of the villages have chiefs, assistant chiefs, and councils, most of them locally elected, and the fact of their having been elected entitles them to government funds of a million piastres (about eight thousand dollars at the official rate, but less than three thousand at the current black-market rate) for development projects of their own choosing; villages whose officials are still appointed, because they are not secure enough to hold elections, get only four hundred thousand piastres. When the provincial councils are set up, they will also have their own development funds, and it is hoped that these councils will encourage social mobility further by dealing directly with their village counterparts in promoting development projects.

It might work, but, given the subtle, often intractable ways of the Orient, it is too pat, too “Western” a concept. There has always been a tendency among the statistics-minded, reform-minded Americans here to play numbers games, and by now the Vietnamese have caught the habit. Thus, when President Theiu claims to have ninety-five per cent of the population of the country under control, he is taking cognizance of the fact that about forty per cent of the people now live in or around cities, in contrast to just fifteen per cent before the war. In the Delta region, which has more than half the country’s total population, the number of hamlets under Vietcong control, the Americans say, has been more than halved since a year ago — fourteen per cent of the population compared to thirty-five per cent. There is no doubt that many people have moved out of Communist areas in the Delta in the last year, whether because of food shortages or higher Communist taxes or for such reasons as one chief in a Vietcong village gave after crossing over: “It was just getting too hard to see my wife.” Undoubtedly, the government has improved its position a great deal by denying resources to the Communist area through military pressure. There are five hundred thousand more guns on the government side today than there were a year ago — about a hundred and fifty thousand of them new M-16 rifles that have been distributed to the Regional and Popular Forces, and the rest mostly carbines that have been given out to the Popular Self-Defense Forces — volunteer groups that patrol communities at night. As for economic improvements in the Delta, today one can see there thousands more Hondas, sewing machines, television and radio sets, and the like, than one could a year or so ago, and the current rice crop, amounting to more than five million tons, in the highest in several years.

In 1969, what was called the Accelerated Pacification Program was supposed to get as many people as possible into as many secure villages as possible before the Communists got there. It was an effort to trade space for time, and by and large the government did not do badly. The 1970 program is emphasizing consolidation — building up the new village governments and stimulating more information campaigns and development projects (bridges, schoolhouses, pig-raising centers, social halls, and so on). Two of the worst weak spots are the local police forces, which have been a problem ever since the time of Diem, and the Phoenix program, {p.150} a provincially coordinated plan for collecting intelligence on important local Communists and then arresting them. Another, over-all, weakness is a tendency to emphasize quantity at the expense of quality, and this is something that pervades the whole Vietnamization program, including the recruitment of paramilitary elements. But the greatest weakness of all, as I see it, remains the lack of political motivation from the bottom up. This is something that only the Vietnamese can ultimately provide, but the Americans have all along failed to stimulate such efforts, and the new heavy emphasis on rapid Vietnamization, with its manifold technical aspects, scarcely helps to focus attention on useful political developments. “Village democracy,” beginning with the election of a chief — there often is only one candidate, frequently a reluctant one — continuing with a group decision whether to build a schoolhouse or a pig farm, and facilitated by an increase in administrative efficiency, may stimulate an emerging political consciousness. But these are all material measures, and neither such efforts alone nor an improvement in military security — important as that is — nor a combination of the two will save Vietnam if more substantial political institutions are not established. Technology and bureaucracy are surely not enough when the Communists are still far from defeated — when, as one veteran American economic-development worker commented, “two Vietcong in a hamlet can still undo most of what we’ve accomplished.” The Americans, after fighting the war themselves for too long, without equipping and training a mobile Vietnamese army, are now, as they hastily try to put American-style social-welfare and economic-improvement programs into effect, again doing the job themselves instead of letting the Vietnamese learn the hard way.

Most Americans consider Kien Hoa, a coastal province southeast of Saigon that has traditionally been a Communist stronghold and major recruitment center for the Vietcong, possibly the worst province in the country. Today, things there are not as bad as they once were. Some roads can now be driven over by day, and some long-closed markets and schools are open again. But more than two thousand Communists, or about twice as many as there were a year ago, are currently active in the province, and in the past few months the number of Vietcong incidents has increased four or five fold — to about a hundred and fifty a month. Most of these are acts of terrorism against and attacks on the Regional and Popular Forces, whose members still tend to hole up in outposts, or, if they do patrol, to take the same routes over and over — an open invitation to attack. The Vietnamese 10th Regiment, which replaced the American 9th Division, has failed to establish good relations with provincial officials, and the result has been reduced pressure on the Vietcong. In one recent five-day peroid {sic: period}, the Vietcong killed three hamlet chiefs and seriously wounded a village chief and a schoolteacher. The new government workers more often than not lack direction, whether because the district chiefs, who are usually Army captains, don’t know how to assign them or because the village chiefs, who are now supposed to be in charge of the incoming Revolutionary Development workers and other specialists, are afraid to exercise their new authority or are harassed by their jealous district and provincial superiors. The situation is not made easier by the fact that some of the more experienced technical cadremen, with academic degrees from Saigon, are paid more than most provincial officials and twice as much as the village chiefs. Moreover, the province chief in Kien Hoa, Colonel Tran Thien Nhien, has additional political problems of his own, connected with profiteering scandals that reach all the way up to the House of Representatives in Saigon, and these have further divided political loyalties in the province. Five-man Mobile Advisory Teams of Americans, who either work with the Regional Force companies or work on village development schemes, put in only thirty- or forty-day stints, in which they can seldom accomplish enough to make a lasting impression. The teams are much in demand, however, both in Kien Hoa and elsewhere — one more indication of the continuing overdependence on the Americans.

Neighboring Vinh Binh Province is another Communist backwater, with between two or three thousand main-force Vietcong and local guerrillas still active, but there the government has established some degree of control over twice as many hamlets as it could claim a year ago. Nevertheless, the Vietcong still hold several important areas — most notably Cang Long District, which has been an enemy base for many years. The American senior adviser told me that the Vietnamese Army commander in the Delta was willing to put two regular regiments into Cang Long for one month but that it would take six months to clear out the Vietcong. “Generally, we’ve put too much responsibility on little men in the villages who can’t handle it, and at the same time we’ve let those who should be taking over make excuses for not doing their job,” the adviser said. Police work there is poor, {p.151} too, and there is a lack of coordination within the local Phoenix program. Though some roads are now passable even at night, the Communists are still able to move between Vinh Binh and the neighboring provinces almost at will after dark, using an intricate system of canals and rivers as well as many of the roads. In Ba Xuyen Province, south of Vinh Binh, the situation has improved more substantially, with the estimated total of armed Vietcong and guerrillas having dropped in the past year from nearly four thousand to slightly more than two thousand. The Regional and Popular Forces there have done particularly well, the local senior adviser said. The province has a population of three hundred and eighty thousand, and of this number fifty-six thousand are still considered to be under Vietcong control; on the other hand, all but sixty thousand of two hundred and eighty thousand hectares of riceland are under government cultivation. As I moved in south to Thoi Binh District, in An Xyuen Province, at the far end of the Delta, which is another contender for the designation of the worst area in the country, I was given the latest evaluations on its hamlets, which, according to the Hamlet Evaluation Systems — an American system of rating hamlets from A down to E on the basis of their security and development, with V used to designate a hamlet still completely in Vietcong hands — had no A’s four B’s, four C’s five D’s, and seven Vs. Here, the American advisers agreed, the Communists, if they choose to, can hit hard in the coming months.

I had now been in four bad provinces in a row. The next two were a sharp contrast. In Kien Giang, on the southwest coast, eighty-eight per cent of the population is living in hamlets rated A, B, or C, and territory that was abandoned to the Communists is being rapidly reoccupied. The people of Kien Giang are not yet altogether pro-government, but they are becoming more openly anti-Communist; though they still retain their fear of reprisals, they are now willing to give information about Vietcong agents, possibly because they get paid for it. In Chau Thanh District of An Giang Province, just to the north, the situation is even better. A majority of the district’s population are members of the Hoa Hao, one of the two major religious sects in the South, and its leaders in this region for years maintained a successful truce with the Communists.

In the Delta, as elsewhere in South Vietnam, many of the improvements are bound to prove transitory if they do not keep pace with the ability of the Communists to retaliate — and Hanoi still has the ability to do so. One high-ranking American civilian official with many years of experience here told me, “The Vietnamese are never going to be able to live happily ever after. A lot depends on their sticking to what they’re doing right now. There are three curves — the curve of increasing Vietnamization, the curve of our declining direct support, and the curve of Communist action. If we can keep the first two curves ahead of the last, we’ll be all right.” Many Americans complain privately about the “thin veneer” of ability among Vietnamese officers, though they praise some individuals highly. More are now being trained in the United States and elsewhere abroad, and the training period in Vietnam is longer, too, but the question of quantity versus quality remains a vital one. Another problem is improving officers’ chances for promotion — an area in which the Vietnamese, having been caught up so long in French traditionalism, have lagged. A forthcoming reorganization of the four military corps areas into six or seven more realistically divided regions should help increase promotional mobility and perhaps galvanize some of the atrophied administrative apparatus.

There remain all sorts of other military difficulties, having to do with logistics and with strategy and tactics. For example, the job of training helicopter pilots and mechanics, which takes three years and should have been started long ago, was only recently begun. The tasks of running depot and maintenance facilities and of keeping proper inventories were carried on almost exclusively by the Americans for years, and when the Vietnamese — along with some Koreans — took parts of them over, pervasive laxity led to corruption. One lucrative source of corruption among Vietnamese officials today is scrap metal — steel, copper, and brass — which is secretly being shipped to Singapore and other places for high profits: I was shown a copy of a contract involving the wife of a Vietnamese general, who had received official permission to ship more than half a million dollars’ worth of scrap, including shell casings, to Singapore. Corruption and inflation go together, and Vietnam today, despite recently introduced austerity taxes — or, rather, partly because of them, since they caused immediate price increases — is undergoing a new period of inflation so severe that it may ultimately force devaluation of the piastre. An Army private with five children makes seven thousand piastres a month, but he cannot possibly get along on less than twice that amount. Officers and civil servants are similarly situated, and the obvious result is moonlighting, or corruption, or both. {p.152}

There is also the tripartite question of military equipment — what the Vietnamese want, what they can use, and what the United States feels they should have. One Vietnamese general told me, “We’re really three years behind now, because you’ve always been afraid of moving faster. Things would have been a lot different if you had started sooner, not only with your M-16 rifles but with other equipment, including jet fighters. Maybe we didn’t know how to use all these things, and maybe we’d have had trouble learning quickly, but the effort at least should have been made. Suppose we lost a hundred thousand M-16s to the enemy in battle, or through smuggling or corruption. Look at the Russians and the way they supply the Egyptians. They don’t like to see materiel and planes being lost to the Israelis, but that hasn’t stopped them from giving more, has it?”

It may be true, as General William C. Westmoreland, the former commander-in-chief in Vietnam, is known to believe, that if the North had been more thoroughly bombed, or if we had invaded Laos and Cambodia to hit at the Communist sanctuaries, the war could have been “won.” Such actions might have turned the tide significantly, yet it is doubtful whether the war would have been won permanently that way; in any case, it wouldn’t have affected the complaint of the Vietnamese about why it took us so long to help them defend themselves adequately, which is what every President from Eisenhower through Nixon has professed our policy to be. The truth is that we were always more interested in doing the job for the Vietnamese. Whatever the initial opposition of the military to our getting involved in a major war on the Asian mainland, once we were in, the American military-industrial complex wanted to run the show, and it did.

That shortsighted policy also helps explain our poor political performance in Vietnam, which may yet undo Vietnamization and all that it seeks to accomplish. For four years after the Americans helped engineer the overthrow of President Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu in 1963, we did little or nothing to create new political institutions in Vietnam, and when we did interfere in Vietnamese politics it was with remarkable maladroitness. Having fostered the new constitutional government of the Second Republic, which led to the elections in the fall of 1967, we devoted inordinate care and attention to building up President Thieu as a national figure capable of leading the South Vietnamese from war to peace and of instituting a form of guided democracy that would combine a degree of benevolent authoritarianism with a system of decentralized government gradually established. The theory was a plausible one, but it hasn’t worked. Thieu has turned out to be a military mandarin, and though decentralization has begun to take place, and could in time become politically productive, it was administratively imposed from the top, and has therefore become a factor in a possibly dangerous new polarization of political forces. This polarization is largely the result of the other Vietnamese leaders’ mistrust of Thieu, owing to his devious methods, his mixture of pride, caution, and suspicion, his growing isolation, and his essential lack of popular appeal, and also owing to the natural tendency of Vietnamese politicians to mistrust each other and to pursue selfish ambitions, and to the general confusion and fear over what sort of compromise will ultimately be made with the Communists and who will then survive and who will fall.

It would be virtually impossible to take a public-opinion poll in Vietnam today, but if one could be taken I think it would show something like the following results: twenty per cent pro-Communist, twenty per cent pro-Thieu, twenty per cent anti-Thieu and anti-Communist and aligned with one of the dozen-odd political or religious parties or groups of some significance, and forty per cent undecided and confused but deeply desirous of peace and some form of new, preferably more locally representative self-expression. No American correspondent can visit the Communist areas in South Vietnam, so it is impossible to obtain a clear picture of what the popular feeling there is. But then it is also impossible to ascertain how many of the people living in government or contested areas are privately willing or prepared to go along with the Communists if a coalition is created. As for Thieu, he continues to rule the country from Independence Palace with an entourage that is small and tight but, even so, divided into several factions. Its two most important members are Nguyen Cao Thang, a wealthy businessman, who dispenses funds and patronage for Thieu among members of the National Assembly and has made some trips abroad in Thieu’s behalf, during which he is said to have established exploratory contacts with the Communists, and Lieutenant General Dang Van Quang, a former commander in the Delta, who once made accommodations there with the Vietcong and who now holds a tight rein on all security matters.

Thieu has continued to give formal support to the group known as the National Social Democratic Front — now a five-party rather than a six-party group, since {p.153} one of its original component parties, representing the Hoa Hao element, quit. He created this group last year, but it has gained little popular prestige or support. While its more opportunistic members vie for his attention and patronage, Thieu, in turn, uses them for his own protection and as a convenient sounding board, and that is about all. However, he has privately drawn closer to two of the parties in the Front — the Dai Doan-Ket, or Greater Solidarity Force, composed chiefly of Northern Catholic refugees, and the Nhan Xa, or Revolutionary Social Humanist Party, which is primarily a central-Vietnamese Catholic organization. Thieu, himself a Catholic, has also encouraged the reestablishment of the Can Lao, a quasi-secret Catholic party from the Diem period, of which Nguyen Cao Thang, for one, was a member, but so far it has gained little vitality. More important, Thieu is trying to create a national organization of his own based on his continuing control of the Army and the whole military bureaucracy, and of the national network of civilian workers involved in pacification and other administrative duties. It is upon this still loose and amorphous group, unofficially called the Cadre-Khaki Party, that he is basing his hopes for reelection in 1971, and some people believe that if his hopes are realized he may try to make some sort of accommodation with the Communists, despite his present disclaimers about ever accepting a coalition government. A number of experienced Vietnamese politicians, including some whom Thieu fears or mistrusts deeply but who are willing to help him now in order to strengthen the still fragile Second Republic, are convinced that if he wins the Presidency in 1971 by a minority vote, as he did last time, it will mean that he has failed to create a strong enough organization to withstand the Communists and their potential allies among the opposition groups in the country.

These opposition groups are now compartmented, quarrelsome, and ineffectual. Thieu has helped keep them this way through divide-and-conquer tactics, at which he is adept, but this has not slowed the growing polarization of forces — pro-Thieu and anti-Thieu. His own increasing Diemist tendencies came to general notice last November 3rd, when he permitted the Catholic Nhan Xa members of his Cabinet — who control the Information Ministry and its eighty thousand workers, on whom he is depending to build up the Cadre-Khaki Party — to commemorate the murders of Diem and Nhu. A ceremony at their unmarked graves in Saigon — the first to take place since their deaths — was attended by three thousand people, including Mme. Thieu and several members of the Administration. That same week, two of the former generals who were leaders of the coup against Diem — Duong Van Minh and Tran Van Don — gave parties at their homes, and each of these gatherings, in typical Vietnamese fashion, began at a significant hour, Don’s shortly after noon on October 30th, when, in 1963, the junta that plotted the coup held its final secret meeting, and Minh’s at 1:30 p.m. on November 1st, the exact time the coup began six years before. The avowed purpose of these two gatherings was to “reinstill the spirit of the revolution of 1963,” in which Thieu took part, somewhat reluctantly, as a division commander outranked by both Minh and Don. Resentment against Thieu had already been mounting, because harsh austerity taxes had been imposed a week before, and also because Thieu had pushed the taxes through by decree instead of obtaining a two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives, as the constitution prescribes. For several weeks after the tax decree was issued, a flurry of coup rumors circulated in Saigon. President Nixon’s speech of November 3rd helped quiet them, but the opposition to Thieu has continued to grow.

Don, following a trip to the United States, during which he was impressed by the anti-war sentiment, made an effort to start a Third Force Movement, and, having failed to do this, he last week formally placed himself in opposition to Thieu by creating a new People’s Bloc. Publicly, Don has taken a strong stand against Thieu on numerous issues, including that of the American massacre at Tu Cong, which he and some of his fellow-senators investigated on their own after the government had hastily declared that there had been no massacre. The Don group concluded that a massacre had indeed taken place, in which at least eighty persons, mostly women and children, were murdered in cold blood — a conclusion that the investigators arrived at after speaking with a number of survivors and with two Vietnamese interpreters who had accompanied the American platoon charged with the massacre. The Don investigation also uncovered evidence that other massacres have taken place around the country, mostly in the northern section but also in the Delta, and have involved Korean troops as well as Americans, and that at least four or five hundred Vietnamese lost their lives in these “incidents,” which mostly grew out of abuses of the so-called “free-fire-zone” regulations, which permit allied attacks on Communist areas by air, {p.154} artillery, or direct assault without sufficient prior clearance from the Vietnamese, or without the government’s knowledge. Though the Tu Cong massacre has aroused far less emotion here in Vietnam than in the United States and elsewhere, it has added to both the growing anti-Americanism and to the mounting anti-war sentiment.

Don, who is one of twenty-nine senators who have to run for reelection next September, will undoubtedly take his case to the people and speak out even more strongly against Thieu. Unfortunately, though he is popular, he lacks political experience and astuteness, and tries to go off in several directions at once. As for former General Minh, who was Chief of State after the fall of Diem, he has reverted to silence after issuing a call early in November for a national referendum, which he never clearly defined, but which was designed to obtain approval or disapproval of the government’s policies. Vice-President Nguyen Cao Ky, who is supposed to be still “supervising” the dormant Paris talks but hasn’t attended them in many months, is in the position of an astronaut between space flights, waiting for the next countdown. He is currently testing his political strength by taking private surveys to see whether he has a chance to win the Presidency in 1971 as a staunch anti-Communist hawk. Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem, who gets along with Thieu on the surface but has his own designs on the Presidency, might, if a showdown occurred, side with Don and Minh, and perhaps with Ky.

The “loyal opposition” is represented by two parties of some potential strength. One is the Progressive National Movement, headed jointly by Nguyen Van Bong, of the National Institute of Administration, and Nguyen Ngoc Huy, a member of the Paris delegation and a leader of the old Dai Viet nationalist party. The other is the new Farmers-Workers Party headed by Tran Quoc Buu, the nation’s top labor leader, who has had a lifelong tendency to hover in the background as a political mastermind but may now finally be ready to come out into the open and lead a party personally. If he does so, it could be an important development, for he controls several hundred worker and peasant groups around the country. Various other parties are still trying to pull themselves together, and a number of senators are once more attempting to form blocs — an activity that up to now has been futile.

As for the religious factions, the militant Buddhists, headed by the An Quang Pagoda group, of which Thich Tri Quang remains the dominant leader, are speaking out more loudly for peace, and are also taking soundings to determine if they should start a formal political party. Tri Quang himself is more moderate and less virulently anti-American than he once was, and has expressed himself in favor of a neutral South Vietnam that would be independent and apart from the North indefinitely. The Catholics remain strongly anti-Communist, but they are more sharply divided than they once were. One faction is willing to accept anything Thieu wants, a Northern refugee element is in favor of peace but against Thieu on personal grounds, and a basically conservative Southern element is beginning to think in terms of accommodation with both sides. The Hoa Hao and Cao Dai sects have recently made some efforts to heal internal factionalism, but both remain divided.

And so it goes — a kind of compulsive mutual-vivisection society, in which everyone wants to cut everyone else up to determine the cause of the national disease, which may be incurable. Vietnamization may prove unworkable because the weak body politic may not be able to withstand the treatment. Nevertheless, in due time Vietnamization will get the United States out of this desperate war, though I doubt if it will happen as smoothly as President Nixon hopes. In all likelihood, the war will go on indefinitely between the Vietnamese themselves. It will end sometime, of course, as all wars do, and by then most of the Americans will have gone home, leaving behind what we started with — a handful of advisers assisting in an enterprise that very few of them will ever understand.

 

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CAUSE OF SKEPTICISM OVER PROGRESS OF WAR

The Chairman. This is what troubles many of us. Over the years reporters of the character of Mr. Shaplen beginning in 1962 or 1963, have almost consistently made statements, we will say, of this character, which are rather critical of the operations. They are always denied at the time by the Government officials and almost invariably the reporters have been proved to be correct. I don’t wish to be skeptical of you specifically or any of you specifically. We are made {p.155} skeptical by past events not by any of you gentlemen, by any means. It isn’t because of any suspicion of your motives or anything else. I think you are familiar with incidents I am speaking of. It is simply that in the past some of the more notable ones were Secretaries of State and Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and ex-Chairman of Joint Chiefs, who would go out and look the situation over, and come back and tell this committee almost the same thing we have been told this morning. Each year we are very hopeful that we are getting the truth this time. I am very hopeful that we are this time. We are very hopeful that you and Mr. Vann and Mr. Colby are more accurate observers than your predecessors were, but this prompts me to ask these questions to give you an opportunity to further support your much more optimistic views. Goodness knows I hope you are correct about it, all of you for that matter.

No one wants this horrible bloodletting to continue. It is so completely contrary to what I think are the traditional values of this society, of which I happen to be a member, that it is really very repulsive to have to even ask you to contemplate it.

It has been my lot to think about this war much more than many other chairmen, some of us can talk about roads and schools and so on, and not about the war, but unfortunately I have to talk about the war, so I hope you will forgive me if I exhibit a certain degree of skepticism.

SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF U.S. OFFICERS TODAY SPEAK VIETNAMESE

Mr. Colby. Mr. Chairman, there is one factor that you might be interested in.

The Chairman. I would like any factor that fortifies, Mr. Colby.

Mr. Colby. And that is that a very substantial number of our officers today speak Vietnamese, which was not true 5 and 10 years ago.

Mr. Mills, for instance, speaks Vietnamese, and several of our other officers here speak Vietnamese. This enables them not just to talk to the few officials through an interpreter, but it does allow them to go out to the villagers and get a feel of what they are saying. Mr. Mills may want to talk to you about it.

The Chairman. I welcome anything that will make more persuasive the conclusions which you have given.

Tell us a little more, Mr. Mills. I didn’t realize you were so accomplished in this particular area.

VC ABILITY TO DESTROY GVN EFFORTS

Mr. Mills. I would like to comment a little about the quote that you gave a moment ago about two VC being able to upset and destroy what the Government spends a lot of time and effort doing. I think in some ways we are being hit from both sides. The Government of Vietnam is being charged with not meeting the needs of the people, with not having the kinds of social welfare programs that people have been led to expect of their government. And it is, of course, very much easier for the VC to come in and blow up an administrative house or school house, which has taken a long time and a lot of organization and a lot of money to build. So to that extent I think I would agree with that article. {p.156}

EXTENT AND PURPOSE OF U.S. ADVISORY EFFORT

Where I disagreed was the implication that we were imposing a social welfare system that the Vietnamese didn’t want or weren’t capable of doing and that we were doing the work ourselves. When I said I did not agree with the article, this is what I meant.

The Chairman. Considering the extent of our personnel there, of course, how effective or how far you go in advising your counterpart is a matter of judgment. I mean we have heard many stories in the past about the Americans and knowing Americans even in Washington, there is a tendency for some American bureaucrats to be a little bossy you know. Haven’t you ever observed that? [Laughter.]

We are taking Americans out to a rather underdeveloped country, although it has an ancient culture. In other instances we have seen this same thing happen, where Americans do impose their will upon other countries, other peoples. That is said without any particular invidious comparisons. I think the British were accused of doing that when they were running China, weren’t they? Do you remember some of the stories about China?

Mr. Mills. I think that what was true of the French in Vietnam and perhaps the British in China is not true of us. We are not commanding. We are not in a position of authority. We are in advisory positions, and I think the basis of a good advisory relationship in what we are trying to achieve in Tuyen Duc is a kind of friendly confidence between the adviser and his Vietnamese counterpart, so that the Vietnamese realize that we are working toward the same independence and that our purpose in offering the advice is not to run the country, but to help them to achieve something that is in their own interest.

PURPOSE OF QUESTIONING

The Chairman. I most certainly hope that you are correct and I am not on my own authority saying that you are not. I am rather trying to give you an opportunity to express from every angle that you can from your experience every item that would support it so that we can have as sound a judgment as possible about what to do about this situation, which apparently will be with us for quite a while.

The significance of it, it seems to me, is that the country has to make a decision. At the present time the President’s view about Vietnamization have been accepted and that is that. Even the President, I would think, would want his assumptions tested by the best people we have and among them are you gentlemen. That is why we are trying to ask you these questions. I would hope you don’t think I am trying to question your veracity at all. I am only trying to approach it from different ways to enable you to support it or not as best you can.

“CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM” OF SIR ROBERT THOMPSON CONCERNING STRATEGIC HAMLET PROGRAM

Recently we have had an example that interested me. The President has recently sought the advice of Sir Robert Thompson. His {p.157} record on Vietnam and this recent report by Sir Robert, after he was given a special mission to look into the thing in the President’s words, was cautiously optimistic. But Sir Robert has had a background on this and I would read for your information, in case you do not know it, to illustrate a bit the point I am making. In the book “To Move a Nation” on page 461 there was this passage of quotation from that book written by Mr. Hilsman:

 

Thompson, who a year earlier when I had seen him had been rather gloomy, was not the most optimistic of them all. What he told us and what he showed us in a tour of the Delta — hopping from one little airfield to another and flying low over roads and hamlets — offered the most solid basis we had yet seen for believing that at least a beginning was being made. I had expected Thompson to be worried over too rapid proliferation of strategic hamlets. He was. Many were being established in exposed areas, in violation of the “oil blot” principle, and many more were nothing but a shell, a strand of barbed wire with nothing inside — no police work to eliminate Viet Cong agents, no defenses worthy of the name, no positive benefits to win the allegiance of the people. But he showed us a nucleus of hamlets that were good, and he felt that if our luck held this nucleus could be expanded to cover the bulk of the population in the delta. There were a lot of “ifs” in this judgment — if the Viet Cong reaction to the strategic hamlets did not get any more violent than it was, if the military would keep the Viet Cong off balance by “clear and hold” operations that would permit the nucleus area to be expanded, and if nothing else happened to put the program off stride. But in spite of the “ifs” Thompson’s judgment was optimistic.

I suspect it is the nature of all military leaders and nearly everyone else to be optimistic. I suppose they would have to be optimistic or they wouldn’t be there. So I don’t wish to downgrade it at all. I only raise the question.

Mr. Vann. Mr. Chairman, could I make a comment upon the reading of Sir Robert Thompson?

The Chairman. Yes, indeed.

Mr. Vann. Sir, during 1962 and 1963 I discussed the strategic hamlet program on numerous occasions with Sir Robert Thompson and, as Sir Robert pointed out then and as I think he would point out in discussion now, the plan as devised by him working as an adviser to the Government of Vietnam envisaged an implementation over a period of 5 to 7 years. The decision as made by Mr. Nguyen, the brother of President Diem, was to implement the 5 to 7 year program in a period of 1 year. It was clearly foreseeable that it could not be successfully implemented in that period of time. I think Sir Robert Thompson himself saw that, but he like many of us at that time was trying to make the best of a bad situation.

The Chairman. But you don’t think he was overly optimistic at that time? Do you think his judgment was accurate?

Mr. Vann. Sir, his judgment was that it was not going to work unless done over the period of time that had been programed. His nature and his enthusiasm was such that once a decision had been made to try to do it he was going to try to do all he could to get it accomplished.

The Chairman. Yes.

GENERAL NAVARRE’S OPTIMISM ABOUT VIETNAM WAR IN 1950

I think it is really a much happier personality though that is always optimistic. People who are pessimistic must be an awful bore to their colleagues. I remember the first meeting when a Frenchman came to {p.158} this committee. I was a freshman Senator or maybe I was still in the House. I forget what his name was. One of the leading French generals came over, Navarre, and he thought in 6 months it would all be over. He thought that they had everything under control. There was a Navarre plan; wasn’t there? Do you know about that, Mr. Colby?

Mr. Colby. Yes, it was General Navarre. I did not happen to meet him.

The Chairman. I think he was the one who came. He was a very imposing looking, big Frenchman and he said that if we sent another hundred shiploads of something over it would be over in 6 months. I am not stretching it very much. He came over and visited with us. That was in 1943.

Mr. Colby. 1948.

The Chairman. 1948 I guess.

Mr. Colby. 1950.

The Chairman. 1950. So it is a long history. It is not just General Taylor, General this and that; it is even the French generals. It is a long story. So I hope you will forgive me for being a tiny bit skeptical.

Mr. Mills. My optimism, if it is optimism, is not based on any long perspective or this kind of thing.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Mills. But it seems to me it is based on seeing changes which I think are necessarily more and more taking place on the ground.

The Chairman. I hope they are.

AMOUNT OF MONEY SPENT ON WAR AND HUMANE ACTIVITIES

I will ask you one last question. I must ask Major Arthur some questions.

Mr. Vann, you spent $339 million roughly. I am not holding you to it precisely. In the context of Vietnam where we have spent an estimated $100 billion in the war, this is a relatively small amount. But what always impresses those of us who are from the other side of the table is that this is a very substantial amount. That is approximately the total U.S. military assistance budget for 1969. That is three times as much as the Peace Corps for worldwide operations. It is 10 times as much as the budget for the international exchange program, which some people believe is significant or could be significant for a more civilized world.

I mean there are people who still do have an interest in humane activities, rather than the killing of people, and in the money that is spent in those activities, which is tiny. This is approximately 10 times as much as this Government will spend worldwide this year on the AID program. In academic circles and even in religious circles — we will call them biophilic circles — that is very much money. Yet in one province here we think nothing of spending $339 million.

Mr. Mills. That was not the province.

Mr. Vann. That is one-third of the country’s population.

The Chairman. One region.

Mr. Vann. Let me also qualify, sir, that the largest bulk of that, $198 million, is the pay of the RF and PF. Now, let me also qualify that this is my estimate of the cost of converting piasters into dollars, of all of the programs for which we have advisory responsibility, all of the support costs, and all of the contract costs. The source of all {p.159} these funds gets very jumbled up. For example, quite clearly included in the RF and PF funds are funds that are provided by the Government of Vietnam. The reason we can’t straighten them out down at our level is that commercial import program funds, counterpart funds, and taxes at the top level get juggled around to where we down at the corps level are not aware as to exactly which agency is funding which program, and whether it is GVN or U.S. But $339 million is our best estimate of the cost of the programs that we advise.

The Chairman. I certainly didn’t by any means wish to question the figure. What I am trying to raise is an entirely different point, which is one of perspective, accepting the amount. By the way is that amount conversion at the official rate or black market rate?

Mr. Vann. Official rate, sir.

BLACK MARKET CONVERSION RATE ON DOLLARS

The Chairman. What would it be at the black market rate? Do you know?

Mr. Vann. Sir—

The Chairman. There is some difference.

Mr. Vann. The last figure we had before I left, and this is not applicable to our costs at all. was that the black market rate on dollars was running between VN $260 and VN $330. That was the conversion rate over a month’s period of time of piasters to a dollar.

SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE DURING WARTIME

The Chairman. In any case, I wasn’t trying to make the point about whether you are extravagant or not. That was beside the point. It was the sense of perspective that arises during wartime and that we can look at this with equanimity apparently and contemplate it as going on for many years, even though it is so outrageously excessive compared to many activities. I shouldn’t say many because we are not engaged in many, but a few activities designed to improve the quality of life here at home or our relations with some of our allies.

Again that may not be your responsibility.

Major Arthur, do you have some contribution to make to this discussion?

Major Arthur. I have a prepared statement, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Will you proceed, please, sir.

Statement of
Maj. James F. Arthur, U.S. Army District Senior Adviser, Binh Chanh District, Gia Dinh Province

Major Arthur. Mr. Chairman, I am Maj. James F. Arthur from North Carolina. I am currently the District Senior Adviser of Binh Chanh District, Gia Dinh Province, Republic of South Vietnam.

MAJOR ARTHUR’S MISSION AND DISTRICT TEAM

My mission is to advise and assist LTC Nguyen Ba Di, the District Chief and concurrently the Binh Chanh Special Zone Commander on both military and civil aspects of the counterinsurgency program. To accomplish this mission, I am assisted by my district team, key {p.160} members of which are as follows: A Deputy Senior Adviser, who is a Foreign Service officer from the State Department; an Operations Section composed of a captain, first lieutenant, and three noncommissioned officers; a military police first lieutenant who is the People’s Self Defense Force Adviser; a military intelligence first lieutenant who advises the District Intelligence and Operations Coordinating Center and a Community Development Adviser. This team is slightly larger than the normal district team due to the location of the district in relation to Saigon and the active civil development program under way. In addition, I have operational control of five mobile advisory teams which are assigned to advise Regional Force Companies.

BINH CHANH DISTRICT

Binh Chanh is one of the six major districts surrounding Saigon and borders the city on the south and southwest. It has an area of 20,177 hectares (77.9 square miles) and includes 15 villages and 60 hamlets with a population of 59,863. Binh Chanh is a lowland area consisting of rich rice fields, swampy areas in the extreme eastern and northwestern portion of the district and numerous streams and canals most of which are densely vegetated with nipa palm. Since the district is a delta area, most of the population live along the three principal hard surface roads and the larger canals. Approximately 75 percent of the population makes its living by farming. Rice is the principal crop with 14,700 hectares under cultivation. Cattle, poultry and swine are raised also, but only for the needs of the individual farmers. The remainder of the population is engaged in cither cottage industry and small businesses or military service.

The major religions of Vietnam are represented in the district with 54 percent of the population being Buddhist, 24 percent Cao Dai and 18 percent Catholic. Religious political parties are not particularly active in the district, however, the religious leaders do play an important role in an opinion forming function among their parishioners.

The district has one high school which is located in Binh Chanh village and 45 primary and elementary schools operating throughout the district. In addition there are 10 maternity dispensaries located within the district.

VIETCONG INFRASTRUCTURE AND LOCAL GUERRILLAS

Binh Chanh sits astride the major routes of infiltration into the city of Saigon from the south and was used as a staging area during the 1968 Tet offensive. The primary targets of the District’s Territorial Forces are the Vietcong infrastructure and the local guerrillas which ideally would number approximately 30 per village and 12 per hamlet. These Vietcong are prime targets because they are the ones who have the mission of terrorism, assassination, tax collection, propaganda, and providing intelligence and guides for the main force units. At the present time the Vietcong infrastructure and local guerrillas have been reduced to squad and half squad size units per village and there is very little organization left at hamlet level. However, there are three under strength main force battalions whose areas of operation include Binh Chanh District. These units are normally based outside the district boundaries and send in small units to assist the local guerrillas in accomplishing their mission. {p.161}

SOUTH VIETNAMESE AND U.S. FORCES

The District Chief has 17 Regional Force Companies and 25 Popular Force Platoons under his command and in addition, there are three Ranger Battalions operating in the district. In the past, the 199th Light Infantry Brigade was based in the district. However, there are no U.S. combat forces in the district now and the defense of Binh Chanh rests solely on the Vietnamese. The primary mission of the territorial forces is that of providing security for the population while the Ranger Battalions have the mission of eliminating the Vietcong main force units. The 1970 plan calls for the Regional Forces to assume the mission of offensive operation and Popular Forces, assisted by the People’s Self Defense Force, to assume the responsibility for protecting the population, thereby enabling the Rangers to be released for duty elsewhere. At the present there are eight Regional Force Companies ready to assume offensive operations missions and the changeover should begin in March or April. The Regional Forces are rapidly improving and a number of the companies are able to handle sophisticated airmobile, cordon and search, and raid operations. Since September the territorial forces have captured 36 Vietcong and killed 23, including two district level party committee members. During the past month, the territorial forces made contact with the Vietcong 11 times with only two of those contacts being Vietcong initiated.

People’s Self Defense Forces continue to be a problem area. According to Vietnamese figures they have organized 20,700, trained 5,800 and armed 1,782. As yet the PSDF adviser has been unable to get a physical count of the members; however, he has been able to monitor some of the training which is marginal at best. The only firm figure is the number of weapons issued and the adviser has been able to verify that the persons issued these weapons are actually performing security duties at night in the hamlets.

SCHEDULE OF HEARINGS

The Chairman. Major, I apologize, but they have rung a vote. You heard that bell. I have been informed this is one of those controversial votes that we have on the floor involving civil rights. I am going to have to leave you. I wonder if you would mind taking this up in the morning? Since it is so late and there are others who are not here, I think it would be more satisfactory if we take this up in the morning. I have to go. I can’t afford to miss this vote. I hope you understand that.

Major Arthur. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Coming from North Carolina, you understand it, even if the others don’t. We will adjourn until 10 o’clock in the morning. I will ask that the staff confer with you on some questions perhaps to shorten these procedures. I apologize for the time we seem to take and there is a good deal of repetition that we can’t seem to avoid.

Tomorrow at the beginning, Senator McCarthy has requested an opportunity to be heard. Following that we will take up where we left off with you, Major, if that’s all right.

Major Arthur. Yes, sir. {p.162}

The Chairman. I am sorry we have to adjourn at this time, but we are going to be faced with this. We are very lucky that we got through this part.

Thank you.

(Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the hearing was recessed to reconvene, Thursday, February 19, 1970, at 10 a.m.)

{The rest of this page is blank} {p.163}

 

 

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, bold-face, bold-italics, highlighting, added paragraphing (for ease of reading) marked with this trailing paragraph symbol: ¶ .

This document: February 18 1970 hearing, pages 87-162, 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}.

Previous: February 17 1970 hearing (pages 1-86) {355kb}.

Next: February 19 1970 hearing (pages 163-256) {355kb}.

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, LL: 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, LL: 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, LL: 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, LL: 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, LL: 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) {OCLC: 252138, 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 31 2004. Updated May 10 2009.

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