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Feb. 20 1970 hearing (pages 257-444)
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}










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

44-706 WASHINGTON : 1970


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].”



{To come}

{February 20 1970 hearing, pages 257-444}



Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970


United States Military Advisory Program in Vietnam


Friday, February 20, 1970

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

The committee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in room S-116, the Capitol, the Honorable J. W. Fulbright (chairman) presiding.

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

Also present: William E. Colby, Deputy to General Abrams; John Vann, Deputy for CORDS, IV Corps; Hawthorne Mills, Province Senior Adviser, Tuyen Duc; Maj. James F. Arthur, District Senior Adviser, Binh Chanh District, Gia Dinh Province; and Clayton E. McManaway, assistant.

The Chairman. The committee will come to order.


The committee is meeting this morning in executive session at the insistence of the State Department to hear testimony from Captain Armand Murphy, Adviser to Regional and Popular Forces in Long An Province, Capt. Richard T. Geck, Mobile Advisory Team Commander in Kien Gian Province, and Sgt. Richard D. Wallace, Combined Action Platoon sergeant in Quang Nam Province. The committee will be interested in learning more about these assistance programs, the capacities of the Vietnamese forces involved, and the prospects for the Vietnamese to assume these responsibilities.

Following their testimony we will examine with Ambassador Colby additional details of the Phoenix program, the case of Tran Ngoc Chau and other matters.

Before Captain Murphy, Captain Geck, and Sergeant Wallace read their prepared statements, I would like to ask each of them one question. Do you have any objections to discussing in public session what you are doing in Vietnam?

Captain Murphy. No, sir.

Captain Geck. No, sir.

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir.

The Chairman. You did not suggest that this be in executive session?

Captain Murphy. No. sir; Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Thank you very much. Who wishes to begin? {p.258}


Testimony of
Capt. Armand Murphy, Adviser to Regional and Popular Forces in Long An Province

Captain Murphy. I will begin, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Proceed, please, sir.

Captain Murphy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am Army Capt. Armand Jordan Murphy from Florida. I have served in the Republic of Vietnam for the last 24 consecutive months, serving with the 9th U.S. Infantry Division and the last 12 months with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam. During the last 7 months I have held the position of senior Regional and Popular Forces adviser for Long An Province.


Long An Province lies to the south and west of Saigon at a distance of approximately 10 miles at its closest boundary. It is the southernmost province in III Corps tactical zone but possesses no international borders. The Province has seven districts, 81 villages, and 387 hamlets. The primary occupation of the 365,000 inhabitants is rice farming. By the latest statistics, over 85 percent of the population is under Government of Vietnam security. Militarily, Long An has 52 Regional Force companies and 163 Popular Force platoons. There are two regiments of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam forces totaling five battalions operating in the Province. The Third Brigade of the 9th U.S. Infantry Division with four infantry battalions operates almost exclusively in Long An. Vietnamese forces in both combat and combat support functions total approximately 16,000 personnel. U.S. forces total in excess of 5,500 personnel. Two Regional Force companies and 50 Popular Force platoons are to be added in 1970.


As the senior Regional and Popular Forces adviser, my primary function is that of principal U.S. adviser to Maj. Nguyen Van Thanh, commander of Province Regional and Popular Forces. My duties consist of rendering advice and assistance to Major Thanh on all facets of Regional and Popular Force functions. My activities include assisting in the planning, preparation, and execution of tactical operations, accompanying on inspections of Regional and Popular Force units, and advising on administrative and logistical support functions.


The Regional and Popular Forces play a key role in the pacification effort in my Province through provision of territorial security. Currently in Long An, pacification expansion is being supported by 14 Regional Force companies, four independent Regional Force platoons, and eight Popular Force platoons. Other missions undertaken by Long An Regional and Popular Forces include security for villages and bridges throughout the Province.

The proficiency of Regional and Popular Forces in Long An Province has improved measurably. This improvement is largely attributable to the efforts of the 20 mobile advisory teams operating in the {p.259} Province. These teams, consisting of two officers and three noncommissioned officers, live and operate with Regional and Popular Force units and have the mission to upgrade the overall operational effectiveness of the units they advise.

The Chairman. Are those Americans?

Captain Murphy. That is correct, Mr. Chairman; they are Americans

The Chairman. Go ahead.

Captain Murphy. Another contributing factor to the improvement in territorial security force proficiency has been the equipment conversion program. Equipping these forces with modern weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment has not only given our allies superior firepower, communications, and transportation capabilities over the enemy, but has also resulted in a psychological effect on the individual soldier making him more self-confident and aggressive. Presence and availability of support from helicopter gunships, tactical air fighters, and medical evacuation aircraft have also greatly enhanced the combat capabilities of Regional and Popular Forces.

The Chairman. Thank you, Captain Murphy.


You were referring to making them aggressive. Were you referring to the Vietnamese?

Captain Murphy. That is right, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Are they not naturally very aggressive?

Captain Murphy. It varies, sir, with the individual.

The Chairman. Do you have to inspire them with aggression?

Captain Murphy. {sic: Murphy} It varies with the individual, and I would say with the leadership.

The Chairman. Do you think by the time we complete our job they will be aggressive enough to hold their own in this modern world?

Captain Murphy. I think, Mr. Chairman, that we have seen considerable improvement in the aggressiveness of the units through U.S. assistance, and I would hope that through our continued efforts in this direction that we will eventually achieve a very high degree of aggressiveness and combat capability on the part of the individual Vietnamese soldier.


The Chairman. Are you a Regular Army captain?

Captain Murphy. No, Mr. Chairman. I am Army Reserve.

The Chairman. You did not attend the Academy?

Captain Murphy. No, Mr. Chairman, I did not.

The Chairman. Where are you from in Florida?

Captain Murphy. I call St. Petersburg my hometown, on the west coast of the peninsula.

The Chairman. Is that where they have this oil slick?

Captain Murphy. I do not know about that.

The Chairman. Have you been reading about the oil slick?

Captain Murphy. No, I have not, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. It is near Tampa, I believe.

Captain Murphy. Tampa is just north of St. Petersburg. {p.260}

The Chairman. They have a magnificent oil slick, killing all the wildlife and ruining all the beaches. I was recently down there for a couple of days, not at Tampa but at Fort Lauderdale. It is nice weather down there.

Captain Murphy. Yes, it is, Mr. Chairman. I am anxious to get back.

The Chairman. How old are you?

Captain Murphy. I am 27, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. What were you doing before you were ordered to Vietnam?

Captain Murphy. I attended the Infantry Officer Candidate School.

The Chairman. What were you doing before that? Had you gone to college or had you finished school?

Captain Murphy. Yes, sir, I attended school at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

The Chairman. What did you study?

Captain Murphy. I studied mechanical engineering.

The Chairman. Are you going to be an engineer?

Captain Murphy. Yes, I am, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Do you do anything in the engineering field in Vietnam?

Captain Murphy. No, Mr Chairman. I am involved almost entirely in military affairs.

The Chairman. Pacification is kind of a mixture. It is not only military but political too. Is it not social?

Captain Murphy. Yes, it is, Mr. Chairman. It definitely has a political aspect.

The Chairman. Do you have many reasons to call upon your training as an engineer in your present position?

Captain Murphy. No, I do not


The Chairman. You do not, but you are becoming a politician. What exactly do you do when you advise these people? You are the senior regional adviser; is that right?

Captain Murphy. Senior Regional and Popular Forces adviser.

The Chairman. Whom do you advise directly?

Captain Murphy. I am principal U.S. adviser to Maj. Nguyen Van Thanh. Major Thanh is the deputy province chief for security in Long An.

The Chairman. What do you tell him? Give us a picture. About what do you advise him?

Captain Murphy. Well, let me, if I may—

The Chairman. Do you speak Vietnamese?

Captain Murphy. Yes, I do.

The Chairman. Does he speak English?

Captain Murphy. He speaks excellent English. We carry out all our conversations in English.

The Chairman. About what do you advise him?

Captain Murphy. Let me cite, if I may, a typical day.

The Chairman. That is what I would like. {p.261}



Captain Murphy. In the morning at approximately 8 o’clock we have a joint United States and Vietnamese briefing, which is conducted in English because the province officials are all fluent in English.

The Chairman. Who attends that meeting?

Captain Murphy. It is attended by the province chief, Col. Le Van Tu; my counterpart, Maj. Tan An, and the Vietnamese staff; Col. Alfred Sanderson, the province senior adviser, myself, and the members of the U.S. staff.

After this briefing, Maj. Tan An and I discuss our activities—

The Chairman. Who does the briefing?

Captain Murphy. The briefing is given by both United States and Vietnamese.

The Chairman. Are you one of those who does the briefing?

Captain Murphy. No, I do not brief.

The Chairman. Who does it?

Captain Murphy. The S-2 intelligence officers will brief on the enemy situation.

The Chairman. Are they the DOD intelligence of CIA? Whose intelligence officers are they?

Captain Murphy. Well, the Vietnamese intelligence officer.

The Chairman. They brief you about what? Describe it as best you can.

Captain Murphy. They will go briefly into the events of the night.

The Chairman. What happened the day before?

Captain Murphy. Yes.

The Chairman. The significance of the night before?

Captain Murphy. The significant incidents. They will brief us on intelligence reports which we may have received.

The Chairman. They are bringing you up to date on developments; is that right?

Captain Murphy. That is correct, more or less, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. How many are at this briefing?

Captain Murphy. About eight.

The Chairman. Eight.

Captain Murphy. Eight Vietnamese personnel and about the same number of Americans.

The Chairman. In effect you gather around the table and they tell you what happened as far as they know. Then what happens?

Captain Murphy. Then the U.S. counterpart will brief immediately after the Vietnamese. He will go into detail on any reports which we may have received through our advisory channels, from our advisers in the districts or on down to the mobile advisory team.

The Chairman. Yes.

Captain Murphy. Following that, the Vietnamese operations officers, what we refer to as S-3 officers, will brief on operations for the day.

The Chairman. You mean what they are going to do in the coming day, not on what has happened.

Captain Murphy. On this particular day of the briefing.

The Chairman. Is it plans for the day?

Captain Murphy. That is correct, Mr. Chairman. {p.262}

The Chairman. Go ahead.

Captain Murphy. Then artillery personnel will give briefings on significant radar sightings and rounds of artillery expended during the preceding night.

That is about the extent of the briefing.

The Chairman. How long does that take?

Captain Murphy. It usually runs about 25 or 30 minutes in the morning.


The Chairman. What is a typical report? How many artillery rounds, would you say are normal? Is it 100, 200, or a thousand?

Captain Murphy. We have both Vietnamese and U.S. artillery located within a province.

The Chairman. In an average night do they expend many artillery shells?

Captain Murphy. Generally the United States and Vietnamese will fire a total of about 300 rounds of artillery.

The Chairman. During a night?

Captain Murphy. Yes.

The Chairman. At what do they fire?

Captain Murphy. Primarily, Mr. Chairman, on radar sightings. We have an antipersonnel or personnel detecting radar which is designed to pick up movements of personnel.

The Chairman. Can that radar tell whether it is a Vietnamese or an American or a North Vietnamese or a South Vietnamese?

Captain Murphy. No, it cannot, Mr. Chairman. There is in all areas in Vietnam a curfew of which the local inhabitants are aware. They are informed through their government channel, and it can be assumed that after a set time—

The Chairman. It picks up anything that moves.

Captain Murphy. Yes, it does, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Then the artillery shoots at it.

Captain Murphy. Yes, it does, after the target is cleared.

The Chairman. What does that mean?



Captain Murphy. The target must be approved by Vietnamese Government officials. I think I should point out here that U.S. artillery is very restricted in the areas into which it can fire, both by us and by Vietnamese restrictions which are imposed upon it. For example, the U.S. artillery units have what they call a population overlay, Mr. Chairman. This is an overlay which has been drawn up through both visual reconnaissance of the areas and through coordination with Government of Vietnam officials. It shows where the population is centered, and these targets can under no circumstances be engaged by U.S. artillery. Some of these areas can be engaged by Vietnamese artillery because they do not have the visual reconnaissance factor or their overlays do not include the visual reconnaissance.

The Chairman. Why not? If there is a justification for one, why is there not for the other?

Captain Murphy. I think the U.S. artillery units are extremely aware of it.

The Chairman. What? {p.263}

Captain Murphy. Of the possibility of injuring civilians; innocent civilians.

The Chairman. The South Vietnamese do not care; is that it?

Captain Murphy. I would not say they do not care.

The Chairman. What does it mean then? Why do they make the distinction, if they do?

Captain Murphy. Frankly I do not know why the Vietnamese can fire in the areas that the United States cannot.


The Chairman. If you advise them not to fire over there, do they follow your advice?

Captain Murphy. I do not advise on artillery engagements generally.

The Chairman. You do not. Who does advise on artillery?

Captain Murphy. We have an artillery advisory detachment which advises the Vietnamese artillery which is from the 25th ARVN Division. It is not Regional or Popular Force artillery, so I do not get involved with the artillery.

The Chairman. Do Americans advise on this?

Captain Murphy. They have advisers, yes.

The Chairman. Americans. You do not happen to advise them?

Captain Murphy. No, I do not. Not on artillery matters, no.


The Chairman. Do the Americans, you say, normally expend about 300 rounds a night?

Captain Murphy. That is combined. To give you a breakdown, Mr. Chairman, I would say the United States probably will fire about two rounds for every one Vietnamese round.

The Chairman. It is about 200 to about 100?

Captain Murphy. Yes.

The Chairman. What size artillery is this?

Captain Murphy. These are 105mm and 155mm.

The Chairman. What range do they have?

Captain Murphy. 105 can engage targets at about — let me consult with an artillery expert.

The Chairman. You can advise with him if you like.

Captain Murphy. About 11 kilometers.

The Chairman. Are you the artillery expert?

Captain Murphy. He is an artillery officer.

The Chairman. You are the one who advises them?

Captain Murphy. That just happened to be his basic branch, Mr. Chairman. He is an artillery officer. I am an infantry officer.


The Chairman. We will come to him in a minute. This is greatly interesting on how it operates. The Americans are restricted in certain areas out of a delicate feeling for the civilians I take it.

Captain Murphy. I think they are extremely aware of the possibility of injuring civilians. {p.264}

The Chairman. The ARVN is not. Is that a proper distinction?

Captain Murphy. I would not say they are not concerned for the population. Certainly they have their restrictions, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. I am not trying to put words in your mouth. I am only trying to get you to say it the way you see it. What is the difference, if any?

Mr. Vann. Mr. Chairman, may I help out on this?

The Chairman. I would like these young men who are not quite as sophisticated as you are to answer, Mr. Vann. We will come back to you later.

Mr. Vann. I am at the level that prepares the rules of engagement under which they operate, and I do know the answer to your question.

The Chairman. I understand. You will have your opportunity, but at the moment I am very interested in Captain Murphy’s observations.

Senator Cooper. May I intervene at this point?

The Chairman. Most certainly you can.

Senator Cooper. Is the difference based at least in part upon the fact that we do not command the Vietnam artillery? Do we?

Captain Murphy. No, Senator, we do not command Vietnamese artillery.

Senator Cooper. You command your own troops, but you cannot command theirs. You might advise them, but you cannot command them.

Captain Murphy. That is right, Senator.

The Chairman. I did not mean to lead the witness at all. I was only trying to get him to say whatever he believes to be the facts. I do not have any viewpoint.

Senator Cooper. It is a proper inquiry.

The Chairman. I am not trying to lead the witness. Whatever the situation is, I would like him to describe it. It is not often we get a witness of your particular qualifications, Captain Murphy. Most of our witnesses are diplomats and people highly trained in the art of evasion. [Laughter.] I like the way you answer questions. Obviously, you have not been trained.

This is no laughing matter. It is a fact. Any of you who have been around know that. What is the principal achievement of a professional ambassador? I would qualify that. That does not apply to a CIA ambassador. [Laughter.] Of course it is. It is to avoid saying what their government does not want them to say.

Captain Murphy, I am serious about it. I am very interested in seeing how this operates because we have a principal responsibility for it. We have plenty of advisers in your area. You have given the number there as 5,500 Americans; is that right?

Captain Murphy. That is approximately correct, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. How many of those are advisers? How many are active, we will say, troops?

Captain Murphy. We have about 250.

The Chairman. Advisers?

Captain Murphy. Advisers.

The Chairman. You do not happen yourself to advise the Vietnamese on their program for the use of artillery, but some American does; does he not?

Captain Murphy. Yes, the artillery advisory elements. {p.265}

The Chairman. Do you know who that is?

Captain Murphy. The advisory element that advises the 25th ARVN Division is involved in the advice of ARVN artillery units.

The Chairman. Your idea is that even though we advise them not to be indiscriminate in their use of artillery, they do not have to take that advice. Is that the distinction you make?

Captain Murphy. They certainly do not have to take the advice.

The Chairman. As a practice, in your experience, do your counterparts take your advice?

Captain Murphy. Generally, Mr. Chairman, yes, they do. If my counterpart chooses not to take my advice, he has always afforded me the courtesy of an explanation as to why.


The Chairman. How old is your counterpart?

Captain Murphy. He is 37 years old, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Is he a professional soldier?

Captain Murphy. Yes, he has been in the Army for 17 years and he holds the rank of major.

The Chairman. Infantry?

Captain Murphy. He has served in the infantry.

The Chairman. He outranks you?

Captain Murphy. Yes, he does.

The Chairman. Do you have to salute him every time you come in his presence?

Captain Murphy. I afford him the courtesy of a salute in the morning.

The Chairman. In the morning, once a day?

Captain Murphy. Yes.

Tae {The} Chairman.  Are your relations good?

Captain Murphy. Quite good, Mr. Chairman.

Toe Chairman.  Has he been implicated in any form of corruption to your knowledge?

Captain Murphy. Mr. Chairman, I can truthfully say that I have never known my counterpart to be involved in any type of corruption or graft.

The Chairman. Did he fight with the French before he fought with the ARVN?

Captain Murphy. No, he did not.

The Chairman. He was not a member of the French forces?

Captain Murphy. No, he was not.

The Chairman. The French have been out 17 years. He did not fight at all then until after the Geneva accords?

Captain Murphy. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. What did he do before that?

Captain Murphy. He was in the north. He came south in 1954.

The Chairman. Is he Catholic?

Captain Murphy. No, he is not. He is a Buddhist.

The Chairman. You mean he lived around Hanoi. He lived in North Vietnam, and he came south?

Captain Murphy. Yes. {p.266}


The Chairman. You say 20 mobile advisory teams operate in the Province. These are all Americans?

Captain Murphy. They are American advisory.

The Chairman. Consisting of two officers and three noncommissioned officers?

Captain Murphy. That is right.

The Chairman. They go about advising whom?

Captain Murphy. They advise the Regional and Popular Force units.

The Chairman. About what?

Captain Murphy. They render tactical, administrative, and logistical advice. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that Captain Geck is in a better position to testify on this since he is the leader of one of these mobile units.

The Chairman. Have you anything further? I was trying to develop your own statement as best I could to get a feeling about what you do.

Is Captain Geck with one of the 20 mobile advisory teams?

Captain Murphy. He is a team leader of one such team, yes, Mr. Chairman.


The Chairman. Is there anything further of significance that you should tell us? You have been there 24 months, you say?

Captain Murphy. That is correct.

The Chairman. Did you ask for an extended stay?

Captain Murphy. Yes, I did.

The Chairman. Do you enjoy this work?

Captain Murphy. I find it most rewarding.

The Chairman. You do? Why? What do you feel you are accomplishing?

Captain Murphy. Sir, I think I can best answer that question by relating the situation as it was when I arrived in Long An Province in January of 1968. At that time there were many areas which were under strong enemy influence and control. As a member of the 9th U.S. Army Infantry Division I operated in these areas. Many of these areas in which we engaged company and battalion size enemy forces are today prosperous centers of government support. I think a very good indicator of the progress that we have made is the open road network which now extends throughout the province.


The Chairman. Are the people in your area reasonably happy and contented with their lot?

Captain Murphy. On every occasion that my counterpart and I have visited these new areas which have come under Government of Vietnam security through pacification expansion, the people have been extremely receptive to the GVN, to the Regional and Popular Force units which now occupy chose areas.

The Chairman. Have you become very friendly with many of the natives?

Captain Murphy. Well— {p.267}

The Chairman. Are the ordinary people easy to know?

Captain Murphy. Yes. They are quite willing to talk to you.

The Chairman. Are they? Are they friendly to you?

Captain Murphy. Yes, they are, particularly in the new areas.

The Chairman. In the new areas. Do you have anything further to say?

Captain Murphy. I have nothing else.

The Chairman. Do you have anything else? We have the three officers.

Senator Cooper. I have some questions.



You have been in the area 7 months?

Captain Murphy. I have been in the area for 24 months, Senator. I have been in my current capacity for 7 months.

Senator Cooper. But you have been in this area more than the 7 months you have been adviser there. How long have you been in this province?

Captain Murphy. In the province for 24 months, Senator.

Senator Cooper. Twenty-four months. Has there been much fighting in this Province during that time?

Captain Murphy. There has been considerable contact with the enemy, yes, Senator.

Senator Cooper. Is this continuous contact? Has it been one of the major areas of fighting?

Captain Murphy. Let me relate back to my statement and then elaborate on it if I may. I think I can best answer your question in this manner. When I first arrived in Long An Province, I served with the 9th Infantry Division. At that time contact with the enemy was frequent, and generally the size of the enemy unit engaged was a company size unit or better.

Today contact with the enemy is far less frequent, and generally the size of the unit engaged is normally not larger than a squad.


Senator Cooper. What is the strength of an ARVN battalion? You say there are five battalions?

Captain Murphy. An Army of the Republic of Vietnam battalion has approximately 500 to 600 men.

Senator Cooper. What is the strength of a U.S. battalion, say of the four operating there?

Captain Murphy. A U.S. battalion would have approximately the same strength, about 500 soldiers.


Senator Cooper. I see. What is the range and what kind of weapons other than small arms, are the Vietcong or North Vietnamese equipped with? Do they have any artillery?

Captain Murphy. The enemy, Senator?

Senator Cooper. Yes.

Captain Murphy. Mortar is about the heaviest artillery they have, mortars and rockets. {p.268}

Senator Cooper. What is the range?

Captain Murphy. Of long-range rockets?

Senator Cooper. What is the range of a mortar?

Captain Murphy. A mortar can accurately engage the target up to about 6 kilometers.

Senator Cooper. Six what?

Captain Murphy. Kilometers.


Senator Cooper. Have there been many mortar or rocket attacks by the enemy upon U.S. forces or ARVN forces?

Captain Murphy. Yes, indirect mortar and rocket attacks make up the majority of the enemy-initiated actions.

Senator Cooper. Do they fire upon villages?

Captain Murphy. They do mortar villages, particularly the villages which are undergoing pacification.

Senator Cooper. What is your headquarters, what town?

Captain Murphy. We are located in Tan An.

Senator Cooper. Have there been any mortar attacks on your headquarters?

Captain Murphy. Not for over a year, Senator, and we attribute this largely to the fact that through the pacification expansion we have been able to provide security throughout the periphery of the province capital.


Senator Cooper. How many of the 387 hamlets are there that have Regional or Popular Forces? Please give a rough percentage.

Captain Murphy. I would say well over 300.

Senator Cooper. How many?

Captain Murphy. Well over 300 are under GVN security.

Mr. Colby. You have said the size of your forces is 52 companies, 163 PF platoons. They are present in a certain number of those hamlets.

Captain Murphy. Yes.


Senator Cooper. You have given quite a comprehensive list of weapons, vehicles, equipment that has been supplied to the Vietnamese. Have the South Vietnamese been completely equipped now or is there more equipment which is intended for them?

Captain Murphy. The M-16 rifle conversion program, which is probably the most important and receives more emphasis than any others, has been completed for all the forces which now operate in Long An Province.

Senator Cooper. You say vehicles, communications equipment. Has that been completed?

Captain Murphy. We have completed approximately 60 to 75 percent of the conversion in these two categories.

Senator Cooper. Do you have any idea what the cost of this equipment — what is the cost of this equipment that has been furnished?

Captain Murphy. No, Senator, I do not have. {p.269}


Senator Cooper. You say:

Presence and availability of support from helicopter gunships, tactical air fighters, and medical evacuation aircraft have also greatly enhanced the combat capabilities of Regional and Popular Forces.

Is that support American support?

Captain Murphy. Yes—

Senator Cooper. The helicopter gunships—

Captain Murphy. The helicopter assault battalions, the troop carrying, and the helicopter gunships are flown exclusively by American pilots. The Vietnamese do have their own medical evacuation helicopters.

Senator Cooper. The support of gunships, fighters, tactical air fighters, medical evacuation support: is this in support of the American forces?

Captain Murphy. They do also support the U.S. Forces.

Senator Cooper. What I am asking is do the Vietnamese operate any helicopter gunships, air fighters?

Captain Murphy. No, not in Long An Province. They do have tactical aircraft.


Testimony of
William E. Colby;
Accompanied by
John Vann, Hawthorne Mills, and Clayton E. McManaway — Resumed

Mr. Colby. Excuse me. I think the Senator asked do the Vietnamese operate any one of these three things that are mentioned here; the gunships, no.

Captain Murphy. No.

Mr. Colby. Tactical air fighters?

Captain Murphy. Tactical air fighters, yes. The Vietnamese Air Force does have both forward air controllers and tactical aircraft pilots.

Mr. Colby. And medical evacuation?

Captain Murphy. No, medical evacuation is supported by the United States.


Senator Cooper. The reason I ask you this is this: Suppose this support were withdrawn, say a year from now, what would be the combat capabilities — what would you estimate the combat capabilities for Regional and Popular Forces to be?

Captain Murphy. I think, Senator, that it certainly would have an effect on their capability in a negative manner, but I think they could continue in an effective manner.

Senator Cooper. You have been there 2-1 months and I know you have had great experience there. Do you believe that if American forces are withdrawn, that South Vietnam forces would be able to match, be a match or could they defend themselves against the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong? Do you believe they could sustain the combat capability without the presence of American forces?

Captain Murphy. Senator, I can only answer within the scope of my perspective. In Long An Province, yes, they could. This is evidenced by the fact that recently the U.S. unit there, the 3d Brigade {p.270} of the 9th Infantry Division, has, in fact, had difficulty finding suitable areas in which to operate.

Senator Cooper. The 9th Infantry Division?

Captain Murphy. That is right.

Senator Cooper. Because of what?

Captain Murphy. Because of the pacification expansion, and the expanded area in which Regional and Popular Forces now are operating.


Senator Cooper. I notice at one point this province is only 10 miles from Saigon; is that correct?

Captain Murphy. That is correct, Senator.

Senator Cooper. It seems to me the people there must have some knowledge of the government in Saigon. What do they say about it? Do they support it or are they against the government there in Saigon or do they have any attitude at all?

Captain Murphy. It is interesting to see the change in attitude in the areas under pacification from the time when the territorial security forces are first deployed to these areas as opposed to the attitude after they have been there for a while, and after the various agencies of the GVN have performed specific tasks in conveying to the people the position of the GVN. They become very much progovernment.

Senator Cooper. You hear that? Do people say that to you?

Captain Murphy. Yes, they do. Yes, they do. In many cases it is the first time that any government has displayed a desire to help the people at that level.

Senator Cooper. I am through.


The Chairman. Senator Symington?

Senator Symington. Captain, I am interested in your testimony.


When did you enter the Army?

Captain Murphy. 1966, Senator.

Senator Symington. Where did you enlist?

Captain Murphy. In Texas.

Senator Symington. What is your training, your background?

Captain Murphy. I took the normal basic training. I then attended the Infantry Officer Candidate School, Fort Benning, Ga., and received my commission in the infantry. I was sent to Vietnam in January of 1968.

Senator Symington. Did you have any ROTC training before that?

Captain Murphy. Yes, sir, I did. I had 2 years of ROTC.

Senator Symington. I see. How old are you now?

Captain Murphy. Twenty-seven.

Senator Symington. When you got out of Benning where did you go?

Captain Murphy. I served a short time at Fort Benning. Then I went to Vietnam in January 1968 and served 1 year with the 9th Infantry Division. During the last 5 months I commanded the U.S. portion of what was then known as the combined reconnaissance and intelligence platoon. This was a platoon consisting of 20 American and 20 Vietnamese from the regional force province intelligence platoon. We accompanied them on many combined operations. This is when I first became involved with the Regional Forces. {p.271}


Senator Symington. I have been out there a good deal myself — believe I have made six trips, went all over the country. In the fall of 1965, things in the delta were quite quiet. I went to Vung Tau, and then on down to Can Tho. We had no guards. We just walked around, and there did not seem to be any problem. I went back again in 1966, twice in 1967. I went down and watched that riverine operation south of where you were. You are pretty close to Saigon; are you not, just a few miles?

Captain Murphy. I am located about 25 miles from Saigon.

Senator Symington. What is the reason for the collapse in the delta? The delta was the peaceful part of the situation in 1965 and 1966, 1967. Did it collapse all of a sudden? What is the story?

Captain Murphy. Senator, I can only answer your question as far as I have knowledge on it.

Senator Symington. Of course.

Captain Murphy. Because I was confined in Long An Province.

I do not think we have seen a collapse there.

Senator Symington. Now things are much better than last year but they were pretty good when I was there in 1967.

I am just wondering what was the problem in between times. We did not have any troops to speak of at all in the delta when I was there. The South Vietnamese seemed to be handling it pretty well.

Captain Murphy. As far as the entire delta is concerned, I am sure Mr. Vann will be in a better position to speak than I would be, Senator.

Senator Symington. The problems, as I remember them, were mainly near the DMZ and Danang, Chu Lai, and up in there, and a great deal of fighting west of Pleiku. But I thought the delta—

The Chairman. He is not in the delta.

Senator Symington. Yes, he is.

Captain Murphy. Mr. Chairman, the portion generally referred to as the delta is the area to the south of Saigon.

Senator Symington. That is right.

The Chairman. I thought Mr. Vann was responsible for the delta.

Captain Murphy. He is, further down in the delta.

Senator Symington. Mekong Delta.

Captain Murphy. That is right.

Mr. Colby. Long An is kind of a delta. But it is not part of the Mekong Delta.

Senator Symington. The only point is I have been in the delta a lot and it seems peaceful down there.

The Chairman. What delta are we talking about so that I can follow that?

Senator Symington. You are farther down.

The Chairman. Will somebody show it?

Mr. Mills. Here is Saigon and here is Long An. The Province stretches to the south of Saigon, but the so-called delta provinces that Mr. Vann is responsible for begin with the south.

The Chairman. South of Long An was what I understood.

Mr. Vann. That is correct. Long An and parts of Hau Nghia are geographically in what is called the delta. {p.272}

Senator Symington. The only point I am trying to make is this witness I did not think purported to be as competent to speak for the delta as Mr. Vann is; is that correct?

Mr. Vann. He is speaking of Long An, sir, which is his competence. Long An is geographically part of the delta.

The Chairman. Okay, proceed.


Senator Symington. Captain Geck, what is your background?

Captain Geck. I came in the Army in 1967 also. I went through OCS.

Senator Symington. How old are you?

Captain Geck. Twenty-three.

Senator Symington. Twenty-three?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. What college did you go to?

Captain Geck. I do not have a college degree. I attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Senator Symington. And did you enlist as a private?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir, I did.

The Chairman. I wonder if the Senator would mind. We are trying to take these men in order. I announced that when we finished with Captain Murphy we would go down the line. Each one will tell his own experiences and we have not come to either of them. What I was suggesting in the beginning was if anyone wishes to ask Captain Murphy anything. Then we will take them in order.

Senator Symington. I understand.

The Chairman. Is there anything further from Captain Murphy?

Senator Case. We will come back to that.

The Chairman. There are one or two small questions. I did not wish to cut you off.

Senator Symington. I was late because of another hearing.

The Chairman. He already explained he went to school. I think you will find the record is quite good on that. I do not wish to cut anyone off, but to proceed in as orderly a manner as we can.

Do you not wish to ask him anything?

Senator Case. No, not at the moment.


The Chairman. I have one or two questions because of your intimate knowledge on the local basis. You did not quite complete your statement to Senator Cooper, I believe. Can you estimate what percentage of the enemy killed in engagements with Regional and Popular Forces are actually killed by helicopter gunships and aircraft and artillery fire as opposed to the ARVN? Do you have any way of estimating that?

Captain Murphy. Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman.

I conducted a study on this last year, and it was determined at that time that 35 percent of enemy killed in action could be attributed to U.S. supporting fire. That includes helicopter gunships, artillery, and tactical air strikes.

The Chairman. That is about one-third. {p.273}


The CORDS handbook, entitled “The Vietnamese Village,” states that, and I quote, “Studies indicate that RF and PF are often marginal men drawn from the poorest elements of village society.”

Would you agree with that statement?

Captain Murphy. That they are only marginal men, Mr. Chairman?

The Chairman. This is from the CORDS handbook. Does that reflect your views about it too from your experience?

Captain Murphy. I think that—

The Chairman. I will repeat it. “Studies indicate that RF and PF are often marginal men drawn from the poorest elements of village society.”

Captain Murphy. They are drawn from village society, certainly. I am not sure I understand marginal. In what respect? Do they refer to proficiency as soldiers?

The Chairman. That is what I think.

Senator Symington. What is RF and PF?

Captain Murphy. Regional Forces and Popular Forces.

The Chairman. That is what I take it to mean. They are not extremely capable or efficient operators.

Captain Murphy. Well, here, Mr. Chairman, I think we have to determine what we are comparing them to before we can say they are marginal.

The Chairman. I only asked you to make your own observations about that statement.

Captain Murphy. I can honestly say, Mr. Chairman, that I have seen, and I have accompanied Regional Force companies on tactical operations which are as good or better than U.S. companies which I have also observed.

The Chairman. Is that right?

Captain Murphy. That is correct, Mr. Chairman.


The Chairman. What do you think motivated the average RF and PF member to join the force and for what does he think he is fighting?

Captain Murphy. The Regional and Popular Forces have a great appeal to the young man of draft age because they enable him to live in his home community. The Regional Forces operate exclusively within the province in which they enlist. The Popular Forces remain within the district in which they are recruited.

The Chairman. What does he convey to you that he is fighting for?

Captain Murphy. Well, there is no doubt he is defending his own home, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. All right.


Do you think that the Regional Forces you advise are representative of Regional Forces in other parts of Vietnam? {p.274}

Captain Murphy. I am really not prepared to answer that because I have not observed Regional Forces in other parts of the country.

The Chairman. Have you never talked with any of your colleagues from other parts of Vietnam?

Captain Murphy. Yes. They encounter the same problems we encounter. Yes, Mr. Chairman. But I just do not know about RF and PF proficiency.

The Chairman. I mean do they report to you the high caliber of people, as you have described your own counterpart? Do you see any reason to say that your particular province is better or worse or different from other provinces in Vietnam? That was the question.

Captain Murphy. No, I do not see any reason not to say that.

The Chairman. I am prompted to ask this because of the comments a soldier also instructing Regional Forces made in a letter to his professor, which I have here in my hand. The soldier, who has a comparable responsibility to yours, wrote to his professor, and I quote part of it, “We’re out in the field South of Hue.” Of course this is the northern part and less prosperous, I take it, than your area.

Captain Murphy. Yes.

The Chairman. He says:

We’re out in the field South of Hue giving on the job training to Regional Force Vietnamese. They are stubborn and lazy and unpredictable and we dislike having them in combined operations. I suspect they have even less incentive than we do, and all we care about is getting out of this place and going home. So you can imagine.

You can also imagine the language problems involved for no one speaks Vietnamese and vice versa. It creates some very hairy situations, for instance how do you explain the firing procedure of the M72 LAW—

Which is a light antitank weapon, I am told—

which has a number of safeties and deployment procedures plus an even more elaborate mis-fire procedure? What you do is hand the thing, fully armed, to the smiling little man who keeps nodding his head in supreme confidence, and then you run. He is then a qualified ARVN soldier. Bang — he staggers toward you, stunned by the tremendous blast, still smiling and still nodding. I can imagine the stories he’ll tell when he gets back to his village.

The sad part about the whole thing is that we are told not to give any criticism of the RF’s to the brass when it comes out for inspections. Just the opposite happens. We give glowing reports of progress; the brass smiles, gets back on the choppers and flies away.

The sooner the brass thinks the Vietnamese can fight for himself, the sooner we’ll get out of the fighting. As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s a dirty damn trick, to give a man the superficial training we do, and worst of all give him confidence based on that training and then send him out to find the enemy is a cruel joke; that man is dead.

Adding to the irony is the fact that the U.S. gives the RF’s nothing but brand new weapons and equipment; believe it or not we are jealous of their goods! Again however there is a rotten motive, the government wants to avoid any blame for the failure of these forces because of lousy equipment. It will all cost a lot of people their lives.


That prompts one to raise a question as to whether all of them are as well disciplined and as well ordered as is your particular responsibility.

Would you have any comment on that letter?

Captain Murphy. May I ask again, Mr. Chairman, who wrote that letter? {p.275}

The Chairman. The letter is from a professor at the college in Sacramento, Calif. This is his old student. I will read the professor’s letter. He says:

I am enclosing copies of two letters from one of my former students who is now an infantryman in Vietnam. He is a graduate of Sacramento State College where I am a professor of art and have been a member of the faculty since 1950.

I think you will be particularly interested in the second letter with its comments about the Vietnamization of the war from the point of view of one very perceptive American G.I. If it can help you in your long-range efforts to bring about a just and reasonable settlement of this tragic war, I hope you will make use of it. Despite his stated willingness to allow publication, I have removed his name, organization, and station.

Obviously he was fearful of retaliation from the authorities if the name were known, which was a very sensible precaution.

Captain Murphy. I take it, Mr. Chairman, that the individual who wrote the letter was not an adviser, but rather was in a U.S. unit since he refers to combined operations.

The Chairman. He says he is the soldier instructing regional forces. This is a Thermofax of the actual letter that the boy wrote.

We are out in the field south of Hue giving on the job training to Regional Force Vietnamese.

Captain Murphy. Mr. Chairman, this training that he was giving them was not part of the basic training included in any of the formal training which is given to the Regional Force soldier. The Regional Force soldier undergoes a basic training course which is comparable to our own basic training course. Then the entire Regional Force unit to which he is assigned is periodically recycled to a training center for specific training on new weapons or developments. Teaching a soldier to fire a weapon without an interpreter is not part of the Government of Vietnam’s training program. This particular weapon that he describes, the M-72, is a weapon which is currently being funneled into the Vietnamese supply system. Going along with it will be courses taught to Vietnamese by Vietnamese in their own language on proper firing techniques.

The Chairman. Americans do not instruct the Vietnamese?

Captain Murphy. We do give some instruction through interpreters; yes, Mr. Chairman. Our mobile advisory teams do give instruction.

The Chairman. One last question.


Mr. Robert Shaplen, who has written a great many articles and I think a book on Vietnam, has spent a great deal of time there. He writes in the New Yorker on January 31 of this year as follows:

An Army private with five children makes 7,000 piasters 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.

Is that correct about what an Army private makes in the ARVN? Do you know?

Captain Murphy. {sic: Captain} In Vietnamese currency?

The Chairman. Yes.

Captain Murphy. That is approximately correct.

The Chairman. What comment would you make on that statement? {p.276}

Captain Murphy. I would say that the pay grades are based upon the economic situation of the area in which they live. They have high cost of living areas and low cost of living areas. I can speak for Long An, and certainly with the various allowances that they receive they can exist on their income.

The Chairman. You can. Then would you say this was inaccurate? They do not have to moonlight?

Captain Murphy. I would say it does not pertain to Long An Province.

The Chairman. It does not. In other words, they do not have to moonlight or to obtain—

Captain Murphy. They are not in position to moonlight, Mr. Chairman. These people have commitments which require their services both day and night.

The Chairman. And they do not—

Senator Case. Regional and Popular Forces, I want to know what he is talking about.

The Chairman. An Army private is the way he describes it.

Senator Case. That is different; that is the ARVN.

Captain Murphy. He may be referring to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

The Chairman. He says that officers and civil service are similarly situated.


Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, would the Chair yield at that point? I was very impressed with the feeling of both the President and Vice President in Vietnam about this particular matter of which they are extremely conscious and make a very big point. They simply have to raise the salaries because they are having terrible morale trouble. It is a matter of information.

The Chairman. Then your experience would confirm Mr. Shaplen’s observation?

Senator Javits. I am going at a somewhat higher level than that, Mr. Chairman. The President of the country himself is very, very deeply involved and concerned in actions to improve this situation. Perhaps Ambassador Colby would comment.

Mr. Colby. Mr. Chairman, there has been considerable inflation, as you know, an increase in prices over the past few months.

The Chairman. Do you mean there or here? About which are you talking?

Mr. Colby. There.

The Chairman. Is it more there than here?

Mr. Colby. I believe it is more there than here, but I am really not all that qualified.

Senator Javits. I can tell you it is more there than here.

Mr. Colby. The Government has set up a commissary system for the miliatry {sic: military} personnel to try to save them some money. And they are currently discussing the possibility of some kind of direct support through provision of rice and other staple foods. The President, Vice President and Prime Minister are very much interested in this matter.

The Chairman. I think we had better move to Captain Geck.

Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question or two of Captain Murphy?

The Chairman. Yes. {p.277}


Senator Javits. Captain, I have just been in Vietnam and I am no expert at all, but I did want to ask you a couple of questions. Mind you please feel very free to tell me I am wrong about this because I am only testing out a very superficial impression with a man who has been there and lived with the problem. It would be helpful if I am right or just as helpful if I am wrong. We ought to know so I am giving a hypothesis rather than a conclusion. I had the distinct impression that our advisers, like you, were much more enthusiastic about the ideological cause than the Vietnamese of the same rank, station, and parallel responsibility. For example, you speak of a major in your statement. Talking with him and talking with you or your prototype was like day and night. Our fellows were enthusiastic, excited, missionary in their zeal, and these fellows were still rather cynical and rather pragmatic about the corruption and the problems and the murder with which they lived. Do you have any reaction to that?

Captain Murphy. I think one of the greatest forms of assistance we can give them is through our attitude toward problems which confront them and their Government. Certainly when we express zeal, enthusiasm, and confidence in them and their government, I think we do them a great service. We must realize they have been up against these problems for quite some time, and I know it is only human nature perhaps to let these problems run you down. So when we are enthusiastic, I think this is good.

Senator Javits. Do you feel that there is corruption at that level of any appreciable character?

Captain Murphy. I have not seen any corruption. I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of any corruption, Senator. I, of course, have heard rumors, but I don’t have any firsthand knowledge on corruption.

Senator Javits. Do you think at that level there is any playing ball, as a little bit of insurance, with the Vietcong and the Communists?

Captain Murphy. Certainly not that I have any knowledge of.

Senator Javits. In other words, on the Asian theory that you never lose all your options. You understand precisely what I mean by that?

Captain Murphy. Yes, I do. Again, I have no knowledge of it.

Senator Javits. You have not seen it.


Have you had any operational contact with the Vietcong?

Captain Murphy. I am not sure I understand your question.

Senator Javits. Have you been in any operations which brought you face to face with the Vietcong?

Captain Murphy. Right; yes, I have, Senator.

Senator Javits. Do you think they are superior in any way to the Vietnamese troops whom you are advising. If so, tell us in what way.

Captain Murphy. As I stated earlier, Senator. I think the degree of proficiency of the units vary. But by and large I think the Regional Forces and the Popular Forces are superior to the enemy forces. {p.278}

Senator Javits. They are. Are they superior in firepower and number and morale? Give us a little qualitative analysis on that.

Captain Murphy. Well, again, the degree of morale, the degree of agressiveness {sic: aggressiveness} varies from unit to unit and depends upon a great many factors. We have some units which are less proficient probably than comparable enemy units within the province.

Senator Javits. But on the whole?

Captain Murphy. By and large I feel that we have superior forces.


Senator Javits. To what extent does this rely upon the American input, to wit, logistical support? Give it to us separately, if you can, as air support, artillery support, advisory support. There are four quantities there — logistical, air, artillery, advice.

Captain Murphy. How does each of these affect it? Is that your question, Senator?

Senator Javits. Right. You are an adviser. You say you have superior forces over the Vietcong and whatever North Vietnamese there are around. Now give us the input of these four aspects of American support and as they affect your qualitative judgment that the troop strength you are advising is better than the enemy.

Captain Murphy. The logistical support is entirely Vietnamese, Senator. We advise on techniques, but the system itself is run by Vietnamese.

Senator Javits. The supplies are ours.

Captain Murphy. The materials are funneled into the system at a high level.

Senator Javits. That is what I am asking.

Captain Murphy. But the distribution is by the Vietnamese.

Senator Javits. I understand, but how important is the actual materiel?

Captain Murphy. It is quite important.

Senator Javits. Indispensable, isn’t it?

Senator Case. They haven’t anything else.

Captain Murphy. Nothing that compares with the weapons of the enemy.

Senator Javits. OK. The enemy’s weapons would be very much superior to theirs, were it not for our input.

Captain Murphy. Yes, I would say that.

Senator Javits. Second, how vital is air support to the superiority of the Regional and Popular Forces?

Captain Murphy. It is definitely a contributing factor, Senator.

Senator Javits. Is that as indispensable as the supply?

Captain Murphy. I would have to say no, I don’t believe so.

Senator Javits. What about artillery support?

Captain Murphy. U.S. artillery support is not that important because the Vietnamese have access to artillery in Long An Province.

Senator Javits. And ability to use it?

Captain Murphy. And they can utilize it effectively.

Senator Javits. What about adviser backing? How indispensable is that?

Captain Murphy. This would be related directly to the proficiency of the individual unit. What we aim to do is concentrate our field advisory effort on the units which are less effective than some other {p.279} units. This is the criteria we use for deployment of our mobile advisory teams. I think at this point the field advisory effort is indispensable, but not as indispensable as it was a year ago and not as indispensable as it was 2 years ago. Next year it will be less indispensable.


Senator Javits. The popular idea in the United States is that for some reason or other the Vietcong are more inspired, are better soldiers, are more patriotic believers in their cause than the South Vietnamese in theirs. To what extent do you think this has any real validity?

Captain Murphy. Senator, 4 or 5 years ago, this might have been a valid conviction. Certainly the degree of motivation of an individual soldier greatly influences his performance in the field. This is one of the factors which now influence the degree of proficiency of the individual soldier.

Going into an area which 2 months ago was under enemy control, providing security which has enabled the Government of Vietnam to perform its other functions, working with the people; building a road, being there providing security and seeing this progress has had a tremendous effect on the morale and the motivation of the individual soldier.

Senator Javits. So you think that motivation on the part of the South Vietnamese themselves is becoming higher?

Captain Murphy. Yes, it is. It definitely is.


Senator Javits. My last question, Mr. Chairman, is this: Again I would like to give you a hypothesis. I was there in 1965, and I was there again the other week and saw Ambassador Colby. I was not in your Corps; I was in the IV Corps area when I was there a few weeks ago. In 1966 I spent most of the time in I Corp up around Hue, but I would like to give you this hypothesis. In 1966 I had the impression that the South Vietnamese were anxious to get rid of their government because they felt their government was just another way of keeping them at war, where they had been for 20 years, that it was just that they hated it and they wanted peace at any price with anyone. They couldn’t have cared less whether it was Communitsts {sic: Communists} or Zoro-astrians, just so there was an end to the war.

This is my hypothesis and I want you to say I am wrong or right even from your little frame. I had the impression they had the same feeling with the Vietcong, “Go away and let us alone. You are the fellows who are now keeping this whole place in turmoil and killing us.”

Captain Murphy. Certainly, I don’t think the Vietnamese people, like people anywhere, enjoy the rigors of war. I think that they are now for the first time identifying themselves with one side, and that side is the Government of Vietnam.

Senator Javits. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Do you want to ask any questions?


Senator Case. I would like to put in terms of numbers some of these figures in your statement, if you will. You are advising in a Province. {p.280}

It has roughly what, 15 by 35 miles, something like that in its dimensions roughly. You know in a rough way.

Mr. Colby. It is bigger than that. Speaking in kilometers from north to south and east to west roughly. How many grid squares?

Captain Murphy. From north to south I would say 20 miles, and from east to west probably twice that.

Senator Case. I was roughly right then, and 365,000 people.

Captain Murphy. That is correct, Senator.

Senator Case. You have 52 Regional Force companies. How many personnel?

Captain Murphy. That represents approximately 7,000.

Senator Case. And 163 Popular Force platoons. How many are those?

Captain Murphy. About 5,500 personnel.

Senator Case. Now two regiments of the ARVN, five battalions.

Captain Murphy. Each battalion having about 600 personnel, 500 to 600 personnel.

Senator Case. Roughly 3,000 people.

Captain Murphy. That would be another 3,000.

Senator Case. Then you say our 3d Brigade of the 9th Infantry, four infantry battalions almost exclusively operating there. How much is that? About 5,500?

Captain Murphy. The United States is there with the 9th Division of about 5,500 of which about 200 or 250, Senator, are the advisory team.

Senator Case. So you have over 20,000 troops in this area.

Captain Murphy. Yes, Senator.

Senator Case. In your province.

Captain Murphy. Yes, we do.

Senator Case. And that is fairly static and has been that way for some time.

Captain Murphy. Since the end of 1967, we have more than doubled our Regional and Popular Force strength. At the end of 1967 we had 21 Regional and 74 Popular Force platoons as compared with the figure I gave in my statement.

Senator Case. This is not an active military operation so far as large-scale military operations. This is more or less a permanent garrison of, I take it—

Captain Murphy. All these forces operate within the province, yes.


Senator Case. When you say “operate” this isn’t large-scale military operation; is it?

Captain Murphy. Well, we frequently have operations in excess of two companies. Three and four company-size operations are a daily operation now.

Senator Case. Now these are conducted largely by the ARVN, I take it.

Captain Murphy. Under the command and control of the province officials.

Senator Case. Is it American operation?

Captain Murphy. No. I am speaking of Vietnamese operations.

Senator Case. What does our 3d Brigade do? {p.281}

Captain Murphy. They generally engage in company-size operations for the most part, sometimes even smaller.

Mr. Colby. If I may, Senator, I believe it was an area of fairly active operations up until fairly recently. I think the Captain made that point a while ago. There was some rather major fighting that went on there.

Captain Murphy. On a typical day, Senator, we have each of our seven districts conducting one and possibly two company-size operations. U.S. forces operate generally in the unpopulated areas in company size, utilizing, I would say, about 75 percent of their operational forces. In addition, one province-controlled operation may take place within the province center. It is generally of three to four company size.

Mr. Vann. Senator Case, if I can interject here, Long An Province has for a period of 8 years been probably the most hotly contested province in all of Vietnam. In 1962 through 1965, it had more Vietcong incidents and contacts by a multiple of 3 than any other province in Vietnam. Only in the last year has the level of activity there diminished substantially.

Senator Case. Has the level of American activity changed?

Captain Murphy. It has diminished; yes, it has, Senator.

Senator Case. Would you describe this, just in a very quick way. I don’t mean to go over it again.

Captain Murphy. During my experience with the 9th Division operating in Long An, my company averaged generally two contacts with the enemy per week. On most occasions the size of the force engaged would be a company or larger. This is not the situation which exists now. The situation now is that the U.S. forces, as I said earlier, are having difficulty finding suitable areas in which to operate. This has occurred because of the pacification expansion, because of the fact there are Vietnamese forces already in these areas and operating within these forces.

Senator Case. Have American forces been reduced then?

Captain Murphy. The U.S. forces have not been reduced, Senator. In fact with the departure of the division headquarters from Dong Tarn, which is just south of Long An, some of the support forces formerly in Dong Tam moved up to the Tan An area; the brigade headquarters are colocated with an advisory team in Tan An.



Senator Case. Just one other question. Suppose American support was completely eliminated now, what would happen?

Captain Murphy. All combat support?

Senator Case. All combat support. All the four categories that Senator Javits spoke of before

Captain Murphy. It would slow down the progress and, Senator—

Senator Case. Is that an euphemism? What would happen actually? Who would run the show?

Mr. Colby. The Senator also included the weapons?

Senator Case. Talking about weapons, the weapons, I don’t mean to say—

The Chairman. You mean take away their weapons and ammunition and give them bows and arrows? {p.282}

Senator Case. I don’t mean that. Let’s take it—

Mr. Colby. Support is the word of art.


Senator Case. Let’s take the air, no air.

Captain Murphy. The Vietnamese could contend with the current level of enemy activity.

Senator Case. Look, you kids get educated early in the language. The current level of any activity — what would happen in your judgment? We are not antagonistic; we are trying to get answers. You have been given a terrible job to do, all of you, the Ambassador, the Colonel, and everybody, and we are sympathetic as the devil. But we want to get the facts. We don’t want to be getting a lot of stuff that we get from the Admiral in Hawaii and from other people which is just a bunch of baloney. We want to know in plain language what would happen in your judgment if we pulled out all air support. You can talk to us, we are Americans, just the same as you would talk to your commanding officers and to the people in the military, to Colonel Vann or anybody else. He is going to talk to us this way soon. That is why we are having an executive session.

Captain Murphy. Senator, I hesitate because I am not sure that I know what would happen. Certainly the enemy would capitalize on this and they would take advantage of the fact we didn’t have air support. I presume you are asking me if they could hold the fort.

Senator Case. Sure. Would they collapse?

Captain Murphy. No, I don’t think they would collapse.

Senator Case. Well, they would have in 1965; wouldn’t they?

Captain Murphy. I think they would have; yes, Senator.


Senator Case. How often is the air support called in and for what purposes?

Captain Murphy. We only use tactical air support—

Mr. Colby. I think the Senator means to include helicopters.

Senator Case. Sure, helicopters, ambulance, or whatever you call them, you know supply, troops.

Captain Murphy. Whenever we engage an enemy which we think are of squad size or larger we employ this supporting fire on just about every contact.

Mr. Colby. How often do you have a contact, every day?

Captain Murphy. No, I would say four times a week: significant contacts, outside of ambush being sprung.


Senator Case. You have a counterpart in the Vietnamese force?

Captain Murphy. Yes, Senator.

Senator Case. What is his grade?

Captain Murphy. He is an ARVN major. He is the deputy province chief.

The Chairman. Senator, we really did cover every word of this. Senator CASE. But they didn’t cover it for me.

The Chairman. Okay. {p.283}

Senator Case. I am sorry. I mean the chairman didn’t mean to interrupt you.

The Chairman. No, go right ahead.

Captain Murphy. He is an ARVN major. He has been in the Army for 17 years. He is 37 years old. He is the deputy province chief and RE/PF commander.

Senator Case. He is a well trained, well educated man:

Captain Murphy. He is well experienced.

Senator Case. He is a well educated man.

Captain Murphy. He has the equivalent of 2 years of college by our standards.

Senator Case. What was his background in civilian life?

Captain Murphy. He came south in 1954, and as I said he holds an equivalent of 2 years of college. He has been in the Army since he was 20 years old.

Senator Case. Did he come from a well-to-do family?

Captain Murphy. No, he didn’t. He came south with just the clothes on his back and not much more.

Senator Case. I mean before that. How did he get to be a soldier, down there?

Captain Murphy. I get the impression from talking to him that he did came from a well-to-do family.

Senator Case. He did; yes.

Captain Murphy. Yes. Certainly if he has the education that he has—


Senator Case. The reason I ask, of course, is that it has been our understanding that only people of the upper classes and a rather small group are eligible for, one, education and, two, admission to the officer classes, is that correct still?

Captain Murphy. Of course, there are educational requirements, and they are dependent on attaining the education to achieve his requirements. He has to be able to afford it and to be able to afford it—

Senator Case. And in general whether purposely intended or de facto, as a word that has been used in considerable length around these premises lately, very few people are still eligible for the education that admits them to the officer corp, is that true?

Captain Murphy. Yes, Senator, with the exception of the infantry field commander’s commission which is available to anyone who exhibits leadership in the field. The educational requirement is waived for this type of commission. The individual who receives it can reach the grade of captain as a field commander.


Senator Case. Is this guy corruptible?

Captain Murphy. I don’t believe he is, Senator. I have never seen any evidence of it.

Senator Case. Has he a family down there?

Captain Murphy. He has a wife and seven children. They live in Bien Hoa, which is to the north. {p.284}

Senator Case. You mean another province?

Captain Murphy. Yes.

Senator Case. I was up there myself.

Go ahead, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. How much does he make? Go ahead and finish it.

Senator Case. I think an impressionistic picture of this kind is the most we can get.

The Chairman. I agree with you. I think it is very important. All I was suggesting was that we had asked him most of those questions in the beginning before you came in.

Senator Case. These many other questions somehow don’t—

The Chairman. What is his pay?

Captain Murphy. He makes the Vietnamese equivalent of approximately $150 a month.

The Chairman. Do you wish to ask any questions?

Senator Pell. No questions.

The Chairman. Captain Geck, will you give your statement, please.

Testimony of
Capt. Richard T. Geck, U.S. Army, Adviser, Mobile Advisory Team, Kien Giang Province

Captain Geck. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

I am Capt. Richard Geck of New Jersey.

Senator Case. May I ask what town do you come from?

Captain Geck. Right now, Toms River.

Senator Case. You have always lived in that area?

Captain Geck. No, sir, I lived in Newark, N.J.

The Chairman. I was afraid we wouldn’t get to the New Jersey part.

Senator Case. There was never any doubt if we had to sit here all week.

The Chairman. I never knew he was from New Jersey.

Senator Case. When he raised the Seton Hall flag I knew he was a New Jersey boy.

The Chairman. Go ahead.

Captain Geck. I am currently the commander of a mobile advisory team in Kien Giang Province. I would like to take a few minutes to describe, in brief, the type of work being done by the mobile advisory team in Vietnam and to give you a general idea of how the work is progressing in my area.


My experience comes from the delta region of Vietnam, specifically, Kien Giang Province, located 140 miles southwest of Saigon on the Gulf of Thailand. I will refer specifically to one village; the village of Soc Son. Soc Son is centered in the main stream of enemy infiltration into the delta, and from time-to-time large enemy units inhabit two large mountins {sic: mountains} to the west. During the month of July 1969, Soc Son was the scene of heavy fighting between the government forces and infiltrating NVA units.


From July 1969 until November 1969. I commanded a five-man mobile advisory team located in Soc Son village. The team consisted {p.285} of two officers of the combat arms and three noncommissioned officers, who specialized in light weapons, heavy weapons, and medical training, respectively. Our primary mission in Soc Son was to assist the village chief in the upgrading of the level of security within his village with the emphasis on improving the performance of his existing forces, and the formulation and training of a strong Popular Self Defense Force group in each hamlet. In addition, we accepted the secondary mission of rendering assistance where possible in the field of village administration.

Soc Son, a village of 11,000 people, was notoriously ill run. The village chief, who had lived in Rach Gia City, about 8 miles away, since Tet of 1968, for fear of assassination, was ineffective and little was expected from his staff. The VC assassinated two of the four hamlet chiefs in the village center in late June 1968, and the terrorists had virtually a free hand within the village.

My team began with the work of training the Popular Force platoons in the village. We also began to work with the village staff in forming a People’s Self Defense Force and set about the task of initiating coordination between the various elements on hand. Through constant observation of the Popular Forces, we were able to see wherein their weaknesses lay and suggest methods of improvement. We accompanied the Popular Forces on their operations, rendering advice where needed, and providing liaison with supporting units. In short order, through an increased level of confidence, the results of the PF operations began to improve. Night operations became quite effective and seriously hampered enemy movement in our area. At the same time, elements of our team were busy with the village People’s Self-Defense Force leaders, providing them with written material to better explain their jobs, organizing a training program and assisting in the dissemination of information on the People’s Self Defense Forces. As the Popular Self Defense Forces developed, the village was able to release the PF platoons from their roles of static defense and allow them to operate offensively in the outer reaches of the village, targeting both VC military units and the infrastructure. A method of coordinating the operations of these various forces was needed. With the guidance of the advisers a village security plan was begun. This plan on completion provided each unit leader involved in the security of Soc Son with specific requirements as to his mission and responsibilities as well as the methods and requirement for coordination of operations between units. The resultant increase in security was staggering. Incidents of VC terrorism virtually came to a halt. The VC infrastructure was forced into exile and rendered ineffective. The village chief returned to the village. The Government of Vietnam gained a free hand to operate within the village and was able to turn its attention to improved administration and economic development in the area. As the people gained confidence in the Government, more information became available on enemy activities and VC operations were even further hampered.

Many of the things accomplished were made much easier through the help of the American adviser. The village chief, while in fact a good administrator, did not have the background to effectively coordinate the operations of the units within his village. Many of the staff members were new in their positions and did not know what {p.286} could or could not be done. The unit commanders, in many cases, had become too set in their methods. The alternative solutions to problems as offered by the advisers helped them to vastly improve their operations.

Presently Soc Son continues to grow. Many of the programs begun during and after the tenure of the advisory team have become examples used throughout the Province. The security plan developed in Soc Son is now used corpswide as a planning guide to village security.

In November our team moved to another village within Kien Giang Province and met with similar problems to those encountered upon our arrival in Soc Son. Progress in the new location is quite encouraging and many of the improvements witnessed in Soc Son are being seen in the new area.

The Chairman. In view of what has gone on before, I wonder if it would not be better if we let the sergeant make his statement and then you can ask questions of either one of them because time is running out. Is that agreeable to you?

Senator Symington. All right.

The Chairman. Sergeant, make your statement now and then the members can ask questions of all three witnesses.

Testimony of
Sgt. Richard D. Wallace, U.S. Marine Corps, Squad Leader, Combined Action Platoon, Quang Nam Province

Sergeant Wallace. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my name is Sgt. Richard D. Wallace, U.S. Marine Corps, from Torrance, Calif. I am assigned as the squad leader of the U.S. Marine element of combined action platoon 2-1-5 in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.


A combined action platoon, or “CAP” as we call it, is a unit composed of U.S. Marines teamed up with Vietnamese Popular Forces soldiers. The Popular Forces, or “PF” as we call them, are a form of local militia who have the responsibility of providing security to their own village. By working closely together with the PF, the Marines help them to provide this security.


In my CAP at the present time, there are 13 marines, one U.S. Navy corpsman, and 25 PF soldiers. Being residents of the local village, the PF have excellent knowledge of the area and, of course, they also know the people. The marines are strangers from a different culture, but by working with the PF every day and sharing their dangers and hardships, the marines and PF develop close ties. Aided by close ties with the PF, the marines are able to understand and to be understood by the people in the hamlets. In fact, most of the marines come to feel as if they are part of the village community themselves.

My CAP area is located in Hoa Luong Village, located about 5 miles southwest of the Danang airfield, in the area shown in yellow on this map. This village has four hamlets named La Chau. Goc Kha, Duyen {p.287} Son, and Huong Son. The principal occupation of the people in this area is farming.


My CAP was established in its present area in July 1967. Before that time, the VC guerrillas had a free hand in the area, and they were able to depend on the people for food, other supplies, shelter, and information about the movements of U.S. and ARVN forces. The reasons for our staying in this area for this length of time is due to the close proximity of large NVA units just west of Danang. The average stay of a CAP is 1 year.

At the present time, the VC are no longer safe in my CAP area. They no longer receive moral or material support from the people. Nearly all of the hard core VC supporters have been driven out or captured, and the people are supporting their legitimate Government with a minimum of fear that the VC will get back at them.

When I took over the Marine squad in the CAP in July 1969, the hamlet of Huong Son was being repeatedly terrorized by VC guerrillas. Since that time we have concentrated our operations in and around that hamlet, and have reduced the terrorist activities. With the help of the Vietnamese rural development cadre in the village, we have been able to rebuild this hamlet and bring it to a normal life, and we are now in the process of building a school for the children there.

As I said earlier, the CAP’s mission is to protect the people. We accomplish this by patroling the area during the day and setting up two or more ambushes in different places around the hamlets at night. Because the ambushes are never in the same place from night to night, the VC never know where we will be, so they do not feel safe anywhere in our CAP area. Besides that, because they can’t predict our positions, they are not able to catch us by surprise with a larger force.

A CAP marine does not live inside of a fort. He lives among the people, with the PF, often staying in their homes. With no fixed position to defend, the CAP has a closer relationship with the people and can devote full time to the people’s security.


While helping to provide security, the Marines are assigned the further task of training the PF so as to make them a more effective fighting unit. We teach them how to make better use of their weapons and we help them to develop better tactics with which to fight the VC. Eventually, the PF will be strong enough to take care of the area without Marines assistance.


At this point, I would like to briefly describe the daily routine of my CAP. Just before daybreak each day, we will secure from our night ambush positions and return to our daytime position. Our daytime position will normally consist of two houses farily {sic: fairly} close together, with half of the Marine squad in each one. Some members of the CAP will be detailed as sentries around the day position to guard against {p.288} surprise attack. The PF leader will normally leave six to 10 PF to stay with the Marines during the day. The remainder of the PF’s will return to their homes to spend the day working.


At some time during the day, the CAP will run a patrol through the CAP area. A typical daytime patrol will consist of five marines and five PF. Also at some time during the day the Navy corpsman along with his Vietnamese assistants and a security element will go to Goc Kha hamlet, where we have set up a simple dispensary in order to offer daily medical attention to the people in the area.

The Marines in the CAP eat three meals a day. Two meals will consist of canned military “C” rations and the third meal, usually in the evening, will consist of hot prepared food delivered by truck to our position. Any other supplies we need will be delivered at the same time. At about 6 p.m., the PF leader and I will get together and complete our plans for the night’s patrols and ambushes. After that, we each brief our men. Sometime after dark, the CAP splits up into two or more patrols, each of which goes out to set up ambushes under the cover of darkness. These ambushes remain in position all night, alert for the approach of the enemy.

This concludes my opening statement. I would be pleased to answer your questions.


The Chairman. Sergeant Wallace, how old are you?

Sergeant Wallace. Twenty-two years old, sir.

The Chairman. How long have you been in Vietnam?

Sergeant Wallace. I have been there 8 months, sir.

The Chairman. Do you speak Vietnamese?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir; I don’t.

The Chairman. Captain Geck, how old are you?

Captain Geck. 23, sir.

The Chairman. Do you speak Vietnamese?

Captain Geck. Yes, I do.

The Chairman. How long have you been in Vietnam?

Captain Geck. 18 months, sir.


The Chairman. Did you write your statement, Captain Geck?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir; I did.

The Chairman. Has it been cleared by anyone else?

Captain Geck. Sir, my statement was checked for punctuation, spelling, for things like that, but it was not checked for its content.

The Chairman. Was your statement checked?

Sergeant Wallace. It went through my CAP director, and the content of the statement was checked for punctuation.

The Chairman. Your statements were checked only for punctuation?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Senator Symington?

Senator Symington. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. {p.289}


When did you join the Army?

Captain Geck. Sir, I came into the Army in March of 1967.

Senator Symington. 1967.

Captain Geck. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. What was your schooling before you came in?

Captain Geck. Prior to coming into the Army, sir, I attended Seton Hall Prep, and then Seton Hall University for 2 years.

Senator Symington. Where did you enlist?

Captain Geck. I enlisted in Newark, N.J.

Senator Symington. Did you have any ROTC before?

Captain Geck. No, sir, I did not. I was omitted from the program. Seton Hall has a ROTC program; I did not participate.

Senator Symington. You enlisted as a private?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir, I did.

Senator Symington. When were you promoted to corporal?

Captain Geck. Sir, I went through the basic training program at Camp Polk, La. Then I went to Camp Wolters, Tex., to the Army’s flight training program. After that I was relieved from that course of instruction and went to the Army’s artillery OCS at Fort Sill, Okla., so I was never promoted through the ranks. I went to OCS.

Senator Symington. You went right from a private. You were commissioned when?

Captain Geck. June of 1967.

Senator Symington. When did you go to Vietnam?

Captain Geck. Sir, I went to Vietnam in March of 1968.

Senator Symington. Nine months after you were commissioned then?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. Were you commissioned a first or second lieutenant?

Captain Geck. Second lieutenant, sir, in the Army Reserve.

Senator Symington. When were you promoted to first lieutenant?

Captain Geck. A year thereafter, sir, and then a year thereafter to captain.

Senator Symington. And you told the Chairman that you spoke Vietnamese?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir. I can handle about 70 percent of my business in Vietnamese.

Senator Symington. Did you study that before you went to Vietnam?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir. I volunteered for Vietnam in March, went to Fort Bragg, to the military assistant’s training adviser’s course, and then on to the Defense Language Institute where I was trained 3-1/2 months in Vietnamese.

Senator Symington. Where is that school?

Captain Geck. That is Fort Bliss, El Paso, Tex.

Senator Symington. You took Vietnamese there?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. When did you go into the Province you are in now?

Captain Geck. I worked in two Provinces, Chau Duc, which we spoke about earlier and Kien Giang. I arrived in Chau Duc in August {p.290} of 1968. Approximately 2 months later I went to Kien Giang, and I have been there ever since.

Senator Symington. When you arrived there was your Vietnamese pretty good?

Captain Geck. No, sir, it was fair. I could at that time conduct only about 40 percent of my business. It has progressed since that time.


Senator Symington. Since you have been there you think conditions have improved; is that correct?

Captain Geck. Yes, sir, I do.

Senator Symington. What was the situation when you arrived?

Captain Geck. When I first arrived in Kien Giang Province the Army was able to operate in fairly large units in most of the area. The conditions within the villages were fairly poor. The village governments were not organized.

Right now all of the villages in Kien Giang have elected governments. Most of the hamlets have elected governments. The people now are participating in the government. I think this is quite an improvement.

The Regional and Popular Forces have never had any outside assistance from the U.S. forces in our area except for air power. We have only had assistance from the regular Army of Vietnam forces.


Senator Symington. What is your relationship with the Riverine?

Captain Geck. Sir, I have no relationship with the Riverine. We have used the Riverine elements to insert units from time to time, but I have no relationship with them.


Senator Symington. When you first came there what U.S. troops were in the delta?

Captain Geck. Sir, I am not sure of any besides the 9th U.S. Infantry Division, but we had no contact with them at all.

Senator Symington. Mr. Ambassador, I do not believe there were any American troops in the delta in 1965 in any quantity.

Mr. Colby. No, sir.

Senator Symington. When did we send troops into the delta in quantity?

Mr. Colby. We never sent troops to that part of the delta, Senator. The troops were sent to the upper delta only. I believe in early 1967.

Mr. Vann. They arrived in July of 1966 in Long An Province and in September 1966 in Dinh Tuong and Kien Hoa and Go Cong Provinces. U.S. troops have never been stationed in the other 13 provinces of the delta, only in three provinces.

Mr. Colby. You do have the river forces, the Navy forces though. Some of those are in Kien Giang, so in a sense there are U.S. forces.

Senator Symington. When you say they arrived, who arrived?

Mr. Vann. The U.S. 9th Infantry Division was assigned to Dinh Tuong, Kien Hoa, and Go Cong in September 1967. {p.291}

Senator Symington. That was the first time a division of U.S. troops went into the delta?

Mr. Vann. In any part of the delta?

Senator Symington. In any part of the delta.

Mr. Vann. No, sir. In July of 1967 a brigade of the U.S. 25th Division went into Long An, which is geographically the northern part of the delta.

Senator Symington. Just below Saigon?

Mr. Vann. Just below Saigon.

Senator Symington. Let us talk about the delta. The first troops that went into the delta, as we consider the delta, 50 miles or whatever the distance would be, south of Saigon was when the 9th Infantry Division went in in July 1967?

Mr. Vann. The U.S. 25th Division’s 23d Brigade in July 1967.


Senator Symington. Well, the thrust of my question is if we put troops into the delta for the first time as late as July 1967, and then increased the number of those troops in September 1967, that would automatically improve conditions, would it not?

Mr. Vann. If I might say, and in that connection, in connection with your earlier comments about 1965—

Senator Symington. First answer the question.

Mr. Vann. It would not automatically improve conditions, sir. It would depend upon how many enemy may have been introduced at the same time.

Senator Symington. All right. Now take it from there.



Mr. Vann. May I now address your earlier questions about 1965. Sir, in 1965 General Westmoreland sent me to survey the delta and the reports that the delta was being pacified.

Senator Symington. Were you in uniform at that time?

Mr. Vann. No, sir, I was a civilian.

The reason General Westmoreland sent me to do that was because—

Senator Symington. What was your position at that time?

Mr. Vann. I was the provincial adviser for USAID for Hau Nghia Province, which is the very northernmost part of the delta. However, I had been the senior military adviser for the Mekong Delta in 1962 and 1963.

Senator Symington. At that time were you in uniform?

Mr. Vann. I was in uniform as a lieutenant colonel.

Senator Symington. Of the Army?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. Thank you.

Mr. Vann. General Westmoreland wanted me to assess the change in the situation in the area in which I had been the senior military adviser between 1963 and 1965. He asked me also to go beyond that area farther south into the delta. I had not previously been the adviser there, but I did have responsibility for the area when I operated as a staff adviser at the corps advisory level. {p.292}

Senator Symington. When you were in the military did you have any relationship with the pacification program?

Mr. Vann. At that time, sir, we did not have a pacification program as it is now known. We did have the strategic hamlet program in 1962 and 1963.


Senator Symington. Did you have any relationship yourself with the school at Vung Tau?

Mr. Vann. I had relationship with the school at Vung Tau from 1965 through the middle of 1966.

Senator Symington. What was your relationship at that time?

Mr. Vann. I was the USAID adviser on the RD cadre program to the RD cadre director.

Senator Symington. What was your relationship at that time with the Central Intelligence Agency?

Mr. Vann. I have never had any relationship other than one of cooperation as a representative of either the U.S. Army or of the Agency for International Development.

Senator Symington. At that time wasn’t the CIA running the Vung Tau operation?

Mr. Vann. They were the agency with operational responsibility.

Senator Symington. What is the difference between running it and being the agency with operational responsibility?

Mr. Vann. At that time, sir, it was being officially run by the Government of Vietnam, financed by the Central Intelligence Agency, and advised by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Senator Symington. And your relationships with the agency were always of the best?

Mr. Vann. We have had differences of opinion, sir, but I have never had a relationship of alienation with them.

I would like to address your—

Senator Symington. I want to follow this a little bit, colonel, because I am remembering a few things as you talk.

Mr. Vann. All right, sir.

Senator Symington. In 1965 you had a relationship at Vung Tau and there was some disagreement about how the place should be run; was there not?

Mr. Vann. There were differences of opinion among Vietnamese as to how it should be run, and there were some differences of opinion among Americans.

Senator Symington. Would you describe those a bit?

Mr. Vann. The principal—

Senator Symington. Your own position I understood was different from some of the thinking of the American authorities.

Mr. Vann. I would be happy to, sir. I would like to answer your previous question first.

Senator Symington. We will get back to that.

Mr. Vann. All right, sir.

Senator Symington. If we can.

Mr. Vann. I would say the principal difference, first of all, concerned the size of the teams that should be employed.

A second difference concerned the manner of advising on the RD cadre program. I would say a third difference concerned how overt or how covert the U.S. role in the RD cadre program, should be. {p.293}

Sentor Symington. {sic: Senator} Who did you differ with on these questions?

Mr. Vann. Some Vietnamese officials, sir, and some U.S. officials.

Senator Symington. What U.S. officials did you differ with on that?

Mr. Vann. I would say in one degree or another I differed with the MACV representative and the USIS representative.

Senator Symington. That is what I heard when I was out there, colonel.

Now, we will get back to the other question.

Mr. Vann. Thank you, sir.

Senator Symington. Right.


Mr. Vann. I went to the delta in a series of trips, going each weekend to 10 different provinces over a period of about three and a half months to do this assessment for General Westmoreland.

On July 3, of 1965 I briefed General Westmoreland on my findings. I essentially told General Westmoreland that the situation in the delta had deteriorated considerably since 1963, that the Vietcong were firmly in control of the countryside in the delta, that contrary to the opinion of many advisers in the delta, the reduction of incidents was not because of pacification being successful but because the Vietcong had gained such control there was no need to have incidents. I told him that the VC had, in my judgment, made a decision to use the delta as a recruiting and food base, and that they had come to some form of an accommodation wherein they were leaving the provincial and district capitals and the road network alone so as not to get people excited and not to interfere with their operations in the countryside.

I also indicated that at that period of time up to 50 percent of the Regional Forces and Popular Forces had reached some form of accommodation with the enemy, a form of accommodation that went the gamut—

Senator Symington. Up to what period of time?

Mr. Vann. This was in July of 1965, sir. This was an accommodation that ran the gamut from a simple “I will let you live, you let me live” arrangement which would result in local cease-fires to an arrangement wherein some units were serving for the government in the daytime and operating as Vietcong at night. The latter would certainly represent the minority, the former the majority of the accommodations. I concluded by saying if the delta is pacified it is unfortunately pacified by the wrong side.

General Westmoreland listened to my arguments. He subsequently had me return to Saigon from my field post to brief his new deputy, General Throckmorton. He subsequently had me come in and brief General Rosson, the Chief of Staff when he was assigned.

Approximately a year later, when General Westmoreland decided to request troops to go into the delta, he advanced as the reasons for it some of the conclusions that I had given to him in 1965, such as that it had become a food and recruiting base for the Vietcong.

It has always been my contention—

Senator Symington. Excuse me. It was known that it was a food base for everybody; was it not? I can remember a general in the Army telling me that the tax of the South Vietnamese on rice coming {p.294} out of the delta into Saigon was greater than the tax that the Vietcong laid down for rice coming into Saigon. So I think we have known for some time, certainly in 1965, that it was a food base.

Mr. Vann. It is a food base for the entire country without question sir.

Senator Symington. Right.


Did you recommend that the CIA operation responsibility be returned to the Army?

Mr. Vann. Responsibility in what area, sir?

Senator Symington. In operating Vung Tau.

Mr. Vann. Sir, it had never been with the Army, and I did never recommend that it be returned to the Army.

I did at one point in time, suggest that it might be more acceptable to the Vietnamese Government to have either the Military Assistance Command or the Agency for International Development have the principal responsibility and the financial responsibility for the program because of a tendency of Vietnamese to, in this case wrongfully, assume the motives of the CIA in running the program. It was my observation at that time, sir, that—

Senator Symington. You could not be talking about the villagers because they did not know what CIA meant.

Mr. Vann. I was talking about the hierarchy, the district and Province chiefs.

I would further like to qualify, sir, that the program as run by the CIA was totally overt, and that there were no subterranean or hidden motives behind it. But the basis for the recommendation was the fact that the Vietnamese are naturally suspicious and that they would have a tendency to ascribe hidden motives to the RD cadre program being financed by the CIA.


Senator Symington. Did you know Major Mai?

Mr. Vann. I know him quite well, sir.

Senator Symington. What did you think of him?

Mr. Vann. I thought he was an extremely capable officer and one who was highly dedicated to his work.

Senator Symington. Do you know why he was removed?

Mr. Vann. Yes, I do know why he was removed, sir.

Senator Symington. Why?

Mr. Vann. There was some indication, sir, that Major Mai had started his own internal political organization within the cadre program and had established cells of the Duy Dan sect of the Tan Dai Viets political party, and had them reporting to him. The objectives of that party were contrary to the objectives of the Government of Vietnam.

Senator Symington. Do you agree with that? Did you know enough about it to think that was justified criticism?

Mr. Vann. Well—

Senator Symington. Did you know enough about it to think that was justified criticism of him?

Mr. Vann. Of Major Mai, sir?

Senator Symington. Yes. {p.295}

Mr. Vann. I did, sir. That does not mean I do not greatly admire and respect Major Mai.

Senator Symington. What were the objectives of Major Mai that were different from General Ky or General Thieu?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know whether these were Major Mai’s personal objectives, but the objectives ascribed to his party were a third force concept which was both antigovernment and anti-Vietcong.

Senator Symington. This is really quite fascinating. I was very impressed with Major Mai and so were all the people who went out there. The next time I went back he was completely obliterated from the scene and I heard that that was done because the Government did not approve of the fact that he was more interested in the people than he was in the way that the Government was being handled, including the corruption. I tried to see him but could not; I finally talked to him on the phone. I think he was an interpreter with the Korean Army in Vietnam.

Mr. Vann. It was my understanding he went to such an assignment, sir. I considered Major Mai to be a dedicated nationalist, a man who was against corruption, a man who was for a people’s program, a man who had been very effective as head of the institute. I recommended strongly at that time that he be brought to the United

States — he was extremely fluent in English — and lecture at our service schools and explain the nature of the war.

Now, I do agree that the Government of Vietnam at that time could not afford to have as the commandant a man who was believed by them, with some foundation, to be essentially advocating their overthrow.

The Chairman. Would the Senator yield?

Is there any connection between this and the Tran Ngoc Chau case? It sounds a little like the Chau case.

Senator Symington. That is right, Mr. Chairman. I suddenly realized what we were getting into down there. Some people in 1965 described Major Mai as being the most outstanding young person in Vietnam, that he was not a Communist in any way, but he did not approve of the way that the Government of South Vietnam was handling U.S. money, especially as they were personally profiting heavily from it.


Senator Case. Would the Senator pursue this? What has happened to the major now? Is he still alive and working? What is he doing?

Senator Symington. Those are very good questions. I am interested in Colonel Vann’s recommendation that he come back here and tell about the cause in this country.

Senator Case. This was 4 years ago. What has happened since?

Senator Symington. I would be interested in it.

The Chairman. Also does it relate to the Chau case?

I understand the Americans had great difficulty in preventing President Ky from imprisoning him. Do you know anything about that?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know that, sir. I was not involved in it.

Senator Symington. What did you hear about it?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I knew he was removed because the Government of Vietnam believed that the political party, that it had evidence he was a member of, was anti-GVN. {p.296}

Senator Symington. But it was in no way a pro-Communist Party, was it?

Mr. Vann. Absolutely not. I make no suggestion that it was pro-communist.

Senator Symington. That is the point I wanted to bring out, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Mr. Vann.

Mr. Vann. I will say, sir, just in cooperation—

The Chairman. Go ahead and say what happened to him.

Mr. Vann. Sir, I don’t really know. I am aware he is alive, and I am aware he does have an official Government job and the rank of major in the Government of Vietnam service. That is the limit of my knowledge. I have not seen Major Mai since he left Vung Tau in 1966.

Senator Symington. Do you believe in the government of Thieu and Ivy today as it has been conducted?

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.] I feel that, in view of the difficulties that they face, they quite possibly are doing about as much as we can expect any group of Vietnamese to do under the circumstances.

Senator Symington. Well, the thrust of my question is you recommended that Major Mai come over here and lecture to the American people, you must have had great confidence in him, and agreed with his thinking, at least to some extent, about the need for reform of the present Vietnam Government.

Mr. Vann. Sir, I felt that the man was exceptionally well qualified, particularly with regard to the village and hamlet government. I did not necessarily endorse everything he did. Certainly I could not in good conscience endorse at that level an action designed to overthrow the Government of Vietnam when I was working for a government whose official policy was to support the Government of Vietnam.

Senator Symington. Did you have any proof that he was trying to overthrow the Government?

Mr. Vann. It was the announced purpose of the party, sir, to radically change the hierarchy that existed in Saigon.

The Chairman. By force or by an election? Is it any different from the Democrats’ attitude toward the Republicans?

Senator Symington. That is what I was thinking about.

Mr. Vann. Sir, there were members of the party who suggested that the way to change it was by assassinating 52 top leaders in the Government. That would be force.


Let me say, sir, that the man who came to succeed him at Vung Tau at that time, Major Be, who was the Deputy Province Chief at Binh Dinh, was equally outspoken against corruption, equally outspoken against abuses of government and, in my judgment, is equally qualified as the officer to be in charge of training RD cadre programs.

Senator Symington. He belonged to the right party.

Mr. Vann. No, sir, he did not.

Senator Symington. What is the difference?

Mr. Vann. Colonel Be has come in for almost as much criticism from Government leaders as did Major Mai. {p.297}

Senator Symington. Are they both members of the same party?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know what party Major Be, or Colonel Be, may be a member of.

Senator Symington. How can you assert he was not a member of Major Mai’s party?

Mr. Vann. I have no evidence that he was so; I do not know.

Senator Symington. I see.

Mr. Vann. However, there are many political parties who have the same general lines.


Mr. Colby. Senator, I might add on this, since I was partly involved at the time, as you know, that one of the factors which caused us not to really raise very much objection to the replacement of Major Mai officially was that we were supporting a very large cadre operation, and that if this became the personal political tool of one particular party the CIA would be directly in the position of doing what Colonel Vann says that many people suspected the CIA was doing, and which we do not wish to do.


Senator Symington. I understand that. But Major Mai is just one case.

General Walt introduced me to a village chief and said he was one of the finest village chiefs around there. He was assassinated.

He then told me General Thi was a brave a man as he ever knew. He was kicked out. It is indeed difficult to understand what is going on out there.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


The Chairman. I want to pursue this, Colonel Vann. How does Chau fit into this transition between Mai and Colonel Be? He has been in the news recently. We started to pursue this the other day and you said you would rather do it now. Can you fit it in now without my having to stumble around and ask a number of questions? Just tell us.

Mr. Vann. In December of 1965, then Lt. Col. Trail Ngoc Chau, Province chief of Kien Hoa Province, was appointed by the Government of Vietnam and the Minister of Revolutionary Development to be the director of the RD cadre directorate with offices in Saigon and responsibility for the RD cadre program throughout Vietnam.

A part of Colonel Chau’s responsibility was the supervision of the RD Cadre Training Center at Vung Tau, which had as its assigned commandant at that time Captain Mai, later Major Mai. Colonel Chau continued in this capacity until September or October of 1966.

During part of his tenure, Captain Mai, now Major Mai, was relieved of his responsibilities as the commandant. I believe this occurred in July of 1966. {p.298}


He was replaced initially by a Colonel Thinh, and then Colonel Chau himself left his post in Saigon and went to the Vung Tau Training Center to directly supervise it.

He left there when Major Be was assigned as the commandant. Major Be was assigned as the commandant, based upon the approval of Gen. Nguyen Duc Thang, who was the Minister for Revolutionary Development.

Major Be operated under the supervision of Col. Tran Ngoc Chau.

In about September or October of 1966, Colonel Chau went into a hospital with a reported illness. Essentially he was removed from the RD cadre program at his own request.

He subsequently continued working in the Ministry of RD and became an inspector of revolutionary development operations in I Corps until the summer of 1967. He had attempted to resign his commission in the army so as to be free to run for the constituent assembly in mid-1966. He was denied permission to resign.

However, at a later date, when they were having the elections for the assembly, the election laws provided that active duty army officers could run for the position of deputy.

Colonel Chau ran for the position of deputy from Kien Hoa Province, was elected as a deputy in the national assembly, and was subsequently elected by the national assembly to be its Secretary General.

The Chairman. What does Secretary General mean?

Mr. Vann. Secretary General, sir, I would ascribe as about the third ranking position in the assembly operating under the president of the assembly as his kind of chief of staff.

That is the situation. Col. Tran Ngoc Chau, as you know, is still a member of the assembly and is currently embroiled in a dispute brought about by the Government’s charges that he was dealing with his brother, a known Communist, without having reported this incident to the Government.


The Chairman. You have evaluated Major Mai. What about Chau? The way you and the Senator from Missouri described Mai fitted what I have been told about Chau. He is also a nationalist, a great patriot, but he does not approve of the present Government and he is regarded by the present Government as a rival. Is that true or not?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know how the present Government regards Colonel Chau, sir, but with my regards to how I evaluate Colonel Chau, I think it is one of the continuing surprises and paradoxes of this conflict there and of that Vietnamese society that Colonel Chau who in my judgment is a nationalist, an honest man, against corruption, for the people, a man with a great deal of charisma, one whose motives I have always found to be of the highest order and Major Mai were bitter enemies. Colonel Chau had a great deal to do with getting Major Mai removed as the commandant because they happened to have different political ideologies, despite the fact that they were both for the same basic things.

I considered all three men, Major Be, now Colonel Be, the present commandant: Major Mai; and Colonel Tran Ngoc Chau to be people who were potentially going to do great things for their country from {p.299} the standpoint of giving better government, giving government that is more responsive to the needs of the peasants. I considered them people who were familiar with the village and hamlet structure, the needs of the population. Two of these gentlemen fought with the Viet Minh against the French.

The Chairman. Which two?

Mr. Vann. Colonel Be and Colonel Chau. I don’t believe Major Mai had because I believe he was too young to have done so. I feel had he been older, he would have.

The Chairman. However, Thieu and Ky both fought with the French against the Viet Minh; didn’t they?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I am not totally familiar with that. I know General Ky did fly with the French Air Force. He was trained by them.

Senator Symington. Mr. Colby would know.

Mr. Colby. He was, yes. He fought with the French.

The Chairman. Go ahead, this is very interesting.

Mr. Vann. That was my answer to your question, sir.

The Chairman. I am not trying to put words in your mouth. I am only clarifying it. You think that although Chau was, I take it you say, a political enemy of Mai, they both were high class, superior men interested in their country.

Mr. Vann. All of my contact with them, sir, would indicate that to me.


The Chairman. I read to you the other day about these allegations. There is nothing secret about it. This story is in the paper. I am trying to clarify Chau’s relationship with the CIA.

Did he ever report to the CIA when he was there?

Mr. Vann. To my knowledge, sir, he has never been employed by the CIA and never reported to the CIA.

Mr. Colby. Since he was in charge of a program that was being financed by the CIA, he certainly reported to them in that sense.

The Chairman. He reported to the CIA. Were you then in the CIA before you were ambassador?

Mr. Colby. I was, sir.

The Chairman. So you know this of your own knowledge.

Maybe you ought to comment about this aspect. I should have asked you about it. Go ahead.

Mr. Colby. The way this program ran, Mr. Chairman, was that the CIA financed the Government of Vietnam program. The program was part of the Ministry of Revolutionary Development, and Colonel Chau was the responsible officer in that ministry for that program. So that the financing of the program was conducted to some extent under his own overall supervision. In that respect he kept the CIA people informed of what they were doing with the program.

This does not mean, however, in proper CIA parlance, that he was an agent. He was not paid at all by the CIA. He was paid by the Government of Vietnam.


The Chairman. I believe that is consistent with what he has said, but I believe that one of the stories, at least, was that he had reported {p.300} voluntarily his meetings with his brother or other activities of this kind. This wasn’t any secret. Can you say whether he did or not? Did you know he had a brother who was a Communist?

Mr. Colby. Frankly, Senator, it has been 2 years since I have been associated with it, and one’s memory gets a little fuzzy. I would prefer to look at the records which I do not have access to [deleted] before I gave you a direct answer.

I do seem to remember that there was a story that he had a brother in the North, and that there was some possibility of a contact. I am a little fuzzy on the details.

The Chairman. Colonel Vann, have you any knowledge of this?

Mr. Vann. Well—

The Chairman. Why don’t you sit over here. There is plenty of room. There is a chair right there. I don’t know whether I ask questions of exactly the right one every time.

Do you know anything about this? Did he report? In your view was he frank and open with the Americans? I am not saying he was an agent, but to your knowledge did he report?

Mr. Vann. Sir, he was a man who was very fluent in the English language, and had U.S. advisers since 1961. He was a man who was known to many Americans, admired by many Americans, and he, in turn, appeared to be an admirer of Americans and things that we were doing and programs that we were suggesting.

He was a province chief in Kien Hoa Province in 1962 and 1963, while I was the senior adviser to the zone commander, a zone that included seven Provinces of which Kien Hoa was one.

He and I became very close friends during this period of 1962 and 1963. I was in contact with him on a fairly continuing basis up until July of 1969.

Because we were close friends, he often confided to me many things that I knew he probably would not confide to other people.

In the latter part of 1965, then Lt. Col. Tran Ngoc Chau, in his role as Province chief, while I was visiting him in his Province in Kien Hoa, after giving me a very long and mysterious buildup, walked me out into his provincial palace garden at about midnight and confided to me that a very important person from Hanoi had recently visited him in his Province. He said, this was a person who was a nationalist and who was interested in seeing if there was some way of getting nationalists in the north and nationalists in the south together. Colonel Chau sought my advice as to what he should do.

I asked him as to what his relationships were with his adviser, who was from the Central Intelligence Agency assigned to the Province. He said he had very good relationships.

I suggested to him that that would be a much more appropriate channel through which to report and to get advice than through me, because I was not involved at that time in things dealing with the Government of Vietnam. I was at that time assigned as an adviser to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division.

We had then tried the experiment of putting someone who had been in Vietnam with each incoming U.S. unit to help them get oriented and acclimated to the Vietnamese and to the Vietnamese officials.

We dropped the subject, and I did not report it to any of my higher headquarters, and one of the reasons I did not was that during that particular period of time I had a great many confidences given to me {p.301} by Vietnamese, which, had I reported would have resulted in their heads being chopped off careerwise because things were extremely unsettled in Vietnam. There were a series of changing governments. There was a game of musical chairs going on, and the future was pretty indefinite.

Also, the enemy was at almost the high point of his control in the countryside, and that did have many Vietnamese officials standing with one foot in both camps.


During a subsequent period in the summer of 1966, when Chau and I were working closely together, Chau again raised the subject with me. He told me he had had another visit from that same person, and then after a great deal of cautions and explaining how dangerous it would be to him, he confided to me that it was his brother. He then gave me the background on his brother. He gave me a picture of what I assume now to be Tran Ngoc Hien, but a picture which had several inconsistencies compared to what I now know about Tran Ngoc Hien.

At that time, Colonel Chau — he was still in the army — asked me if I would report this conversation to my higher authority, and to find out if my higher authority would like to meet with his brother, Tran Ngoc Hien. He did not identify his brother by name.

He told me at the time that his brother was coming in and out of the country on a Japanese passport and that if a meeting was to be arranged it would require 3 weeks’ notice because he had to contact his brother by an advertisement in a Saigon newspaper.

I reported this to my higher authority, and went through that channel to the then Deputy Ambassador.

The Deputy Ambassador listened to the story, plus the background on Tran Ngoc Chau, informed me that they were continually getting requests for meetings of this sort from various people. [Deleted.] The bona fides of this man really had not been established, and he would let me know later what, if anything, would be done.

He subsequently called me in and said that neither the Ambassador nor he would agree to a meeting with Chau’s brother but that if it was particularly desired, if Chau’s brother particularly desired and thought he had something that was worthwhile that I would be authorized to represent the Ambassador at a meeting.

I gave this information to Colonel Chau, and he then said he would contact his brother. He subsequently told me approximately a month later that he had contacted his brother and that his brother was not interested in meeting with me because I was not of sufficient importance. That essentially terminated mv role in the matter involving his brother.


The Chairman. Why do you think that presently the Thieu government goes to such lengths to remove the immunity of Chau?

Mr. Vann. I really do not know, sir, because you must understand that my contacts with Chau have been very limited since this thing became a hot issue last July. {p.302}

The Chairman. You have not seen him since that time?

Mr. Vann. I have seen him, but not for the purposes of discussion.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Vann. He has attempted to see me and has made it a point, since he knows places where I go to, and I have had to excuse myself as quickly as possible after arriving.


The Chairman. Has the Ambassador or any one of your superiors ordered you not to see him and to discuss things?

Mr. Vann. Ambassador Bunker, sir, and Ambassador Colby have told me since July that it is advisable not to become involved in this matter since it is a matter between the Government of Vietnam and one of its officials; [deleted].

Mr. Colby. Any contacts on the subject would be made by Ambassador Bunker, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Vann. That is correct.


The Chairman. Do you personally have any doubt in your mind about Chau’s being a Communist or not being a Communist?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have to have some reservation because Ambassador Bunker has informed me that there are things about the case of which I am not aware. I do not know what these things are.

However, since I do not have access to the dossier, either of the Government of Vietnam or of such files as the political section of the Embassy may have — it is quite obvious that I don’t have the total picture.

Nothing in my personal relationships with Colonel Chau and my knowledge of him since 1962 would lead me to doubt that he is other than a dedicated nationalist anti-Communist person.

The Chairman. That is all I can speak to.

Mr. Vann. Right, Senator.


Senator Case. You said you were concerned about the discrepancies between what he had told you about his brother and what the facts about his brother were. Was this a distrubing {sic: disturbing} thing to you?

Mr. Vann. It has become. It is my knowledge, sir. that Colonel Chau has lied to me on several matters that involved this case, for what purpose I don’t know. There are several matters in which he deliberately lied.

Senator Case. Were these significant? Were these deliberate?

Mr. Vann. The information he gave me is different from information I now know to be true. It does not concern whether he is a Communist. It concerns details about his brother and details about statements that he has ascribed to other Vietnamese officials that they have subsequently told me that they did not say.

Senator Case. Have you any feeling that this was an intentional deception and, if so, what the intent was or what its purpose was? {p.303}

Mr. Vann. I feel that a portion of this may well have been to protect the identity and location of his brother.

Senator Case. I see.



The Chairman. Has Mr. Chau indirectly or directly sought your assistance at any point in connection with charges brought by President Thieu?

Mr. Vann. He has sought my assistance on a continuing basis, sir.

The Chairman. What did he ask you to do?

Mr. Vann. He has, first of all, asked me if there was some way that

I could arrange for him to go to the United States. That has been an approach over the period of the last year.

He has, second, asked if I could get the U.S. Government to intervene with President Thieu in his behalf and inform them of the fact that we were aware of his brother’s presence.

He has asked me to go to the Prime Minister, Prime Minster Khiem, in his behalf. He has also asked for advice as to what he should do. I have on a continuing basis advised him that he should use the same rules that he is asking the Government to use in his opposition to the Government. I have told him that at this period of time I consider his outspoken opposition — and this is particularly true in the first 6 months of 1969 — was hurting the Government’s efforts against the foe.

The Chairman. Against whom?

Mr. Vann. Against the foe, against the enemy. I have told him that, even though I knew his motivations were good, now was the time for all Vietnamese to get toegther {sic: together} and put their shoulder to the wheel, and that if he really wanted to have a different government, he should work for the 1971 elections as opposed to suggesting anything that would either aid or abet the Communist cause at the moment, even though it may not have that purpose.


The Chairman. Did our Government refuse or decline to grant him asylum?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have not asked our Government to grant him asylum. But my superiors have told me that we will not seek to get him to the United States, which is what he had requested be done. We do not interpose an objection to his government letting him go.

The Chairman. I see.

Mr. Colby. I don’t think it was a question of asylum, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. What was it?

Mr. Colby. I think it was a question of would we actively help get him out of there.

The Chairman. What is our position? Would we allow him to come if he could come surreptitiously?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think that is a question you really have to address to the Department and to Ambassador Bunker. Mr. Chairman. I am not qualified to answer it.

The Chairman. You don’t know? {p.304}

Mr. Vann. He has asked me whether we would do such a thing, sir, and I have said I did not believe we would, but that was my operating assumption.

The Chairman. Did you ever ask Ambassador Bunker what he would recommend?

Mr. Vann. I have discussed Trail Ngoc Chau with Ambassador Bunker on a number of occasions, sir.

The Chairman. What is Ambassador Bunker’s attitude?

Mr. Vann. Ambassador Bunker’s attitude, and his instructions to me, sir, were that I should tend to pacification in the delta and he would tend to the political situation in Vietnam. [Laughter.]

The Chairman. That is a very clear answer.


Mr. Colby, since you were so closely identified previously with the CIA, did the CIA Chief there know about these meetings of Chau with his brother?

Mr. Colby. As I said, Mr. Chairman, my memory frankly is a little dim, and I am not that close to the situation today. I don’t have access to the files. I really would have to defer that to the CIA.

I do recall some consideration, should we say, to the fact that he had a brother. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Do you know whether the present CIA Chief believes Chau is a Communist or not?

Mr. Colby. I do not know the answer to that, Mr. Chairman. I have never really—

The Chairman. This is what bothers me. I had not known about this Major Mai story. I was told that with the Senator from Missouri. Now you have Chau and, of course, this immediately suggests the treatment given Mr. Dzu, who is still in jail; isn’t he? As far as I know his only crime was that he ran against Thieu and came out second.


Do you know of anything else wrong with Dzu?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know Mr. Dzu at all, but I know from the papers at that time that is not the reason that ostensibly he went to jail.

The Chairman. What is the reason?

Mr. Vann. As I understand, it dealt with some matter of fraud that was part of the charges, and—

The Chairman. What kind of fraud?

Mr. Vann. Advocating against the laws of the Government of Vietnam.

The Chairman. Which was to make peace.

Mr. Vann. Well, advocating some arrangements with the coalition government which is against the law.

The Chairman. That is right. The papers that I read indicated that he did advocate that they should seek to make a negotiated peace rather than a military victory. That is about what was reported in the press, which is not unlike what apparently was in the mind of Chau when he was. at least, conferring with you with regard to the possibility of meeting with representatives of Hanoi. Is that not a correct analysis? {p.305}

Mr. Vann. Chau did have in his mind, sir, an eventual political settlement of the war.

The Chairman. Settlement of the war is what both of them had in mind; is that not correct?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I cannot comment on Mr. Dzu because I have never dealt with him personally.

The Chairman. Of course I have not either, but all the reports were that that was his crime.

Mr. Vann. That is right, sir.


The Chairman. Do you have any knowledge of any irregular activities or pressure brought to bear on the Vietnamese National Assembly by the Thieu regime in connection with lifting the immunity of Chau? Do you have any knowledge of that?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have on a continuing basis talked to deputies in the assembly, particularly those from the delta.

The Chairman. Yes. What do you know?

Mr. Vann. The deputies have suggested to me that there is a good deal of pressure being brought by the Government, no specific person in the Government, but by the Government, on individual members of the assembly to support the Government’s position.

The Chairman. To sign a petition?

Mr. Vann. I think, sir, in this country, it is called lobbying.

The Chairman. Yes, that is one. Is it to sign the petition removing immunity?

Mr. Vann. There has been some specific reported lobbying for this purpose; that is right.

The Chairman. Do you know anything about that, Ambassador Colby?

Mr. Colby. No, Mr. Chairman, I do not. I don’t deal with the deputies normally.

The Chairman. You only deal with the diplomats and generals.

Mr. Colby. No, sir. I deal mostly with province chiefs and government officials.

The Chairman. I was kidding you.

Mr. Colby. I know it.

The Chairman. Politics is a difficult game.


Colonel Vann, I think this is very interesting.

This, I must very frankly confess, bothers me a great deal. I do not know Mr. Dzu personalty, but his son came to see me personally, as he did a number of members of this committee, in a humanitarian venture. He said his father was quite ill, with a heart attack or something, and he is in prison and he thinks he will be allowed to die there. His attitude is that the only real crime of his father was that he would like to settle this war with a political settlement. That is the way he described it.

The son is quite attractive. Isn’t he here now or do you know?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know him, sir.

The Chairman. He is a young man and he came to see me. but I do not know. I have read all his reports. {p.306}

Senator, do you wish to interrogate?

Mr. Vann. Sir, could I add one thing?

The Chairman. I wish you would add anything that is significant.

Mr. Vann. This is significant to the question earlier this morning, but it does not concern the Chau case.


In the discussion, sir, about the control of artillery and the fact that there are different criteria for U.S. artillery firing from Vietnamese artillery firing, just to clear the record, I would like to explain that U.S. units are not permitted to fire artillery shells within a thousand yards of a Vietnamese population center unless there are U.S. units under active attack.

Vietnamese units are allowed to fire at a closer distance because they can communicate directly with, outposts and Vietnamese commanders who are in the population center, and the population center may be under attack. That is the reason that Vietnamese can fire into areas that U.S. troops cannot.

Secondly, if most of the firing described in Long An Province, an average of 300 rounds per day, is like that which I have observed on a continuing basis in Vietnam in some 27 other provinces, it is primarily firing of what they call an H and I, harassing and interdiction. This is fired on known communication routes, usually in unpopulated areas, and in areas where it is felt that Vietcong units may be traversing as a way of both making it more dangerous to them and of inhibiting them not to come to those areas.

That is all, sir.


The Chairman. One last question I overlooked there on the Chau case.

Did Chau have any trouble with the CIA over the RD cadre program; do you know?

Mr. Colby. Yes, he did.

The Chairman. What was it?

Mr. Colby. It was a question of the degree of control. I think Mr. Vann approved of that.

The Chairman. With which official of the CIA did he have the trouble?

Mr. Colby. I don’t remember, Mr. Chairman. I think it was the station as a whole.

The Chairman. Was it Mr. [deleted].

Mr. Colby. I don’t remember.

The Chairman. Do you know, Mr. Vann?

Mr. Vann. Mr. Chau’s relationships with Mr. [deleted] were quite close, sir, and there was no personal disagreement between the two of them. However, Colonel Chau had a basic disagreement as to the role of the CIA representative in each province from the standpoint of handling the funds and making decisions relative to supporting or nonsupporting the program.

He felt these should be Vietnamese actions and Vietnamese decisions. {p.307}

I might also add that Colonel Chau had a difference of opinion with his own superior, General Thinh, over this same matter in that Colonel Chau was much more sensitive to the CIA involvement in the RD cadre program and its possible effects than was General Thinh.

The Chairman. What do you mean by sensitive?

Mr. Vann. Apprehensive as to possible repercussions from what he would consider to be their too overt role.

The Chairman. I see.

Mr. Colby. The CIA’s position on that, Mr. Chairman, was that they needed that degree of control over the funds they were disbursing. They did not want to give the funds at a central level and let it be handled by the Vietnamese.

The Chairman. The difference of opinion was over close supervision of expenditures?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.


The Chairman. The last question is a little different, but Colonel Vann, you have been there so long and had such a long experience and are so thoroughly acquainted with it, could you answer two general questions? Do you think we can take all of our troops out of Vietnam and, if so, when would you estimate this can be done? Or, will we have to keep 75,000 men, more or less there as we do in Korea? This is the thrust of the question.

Could you comment on that?

Mr. Vann. I can comment on it, sir, but I am undoubtedly going to get into trouble with both you and my boss.

The Chairman. You are not going to get into trouble. I prefaced this with “because of your long experience” and you shouldn’t get into any trouble. I don’t believe that you will with your boss.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say I share with you the fact that in asking these questions, that we ask the colonel to be quite specific, quite detailed, and to break it down into various kinds of assistance.

The Chairman. That is right. You won’t get into any trouble, colonel. You have been there too long. Go ahead.

Mr. Colby. He has been in trouble before.

The Chairman. He is used to trouble.

Senator Case. He is a Rutgers man, so he cannot be fazed.

The Chairman. Tell us your prognosis of this situation.

Mr. Vann. Sir, first of all, any prognosis is based upon a set of assumptions, any one of which may prove to be false, and I have no more clairvoyance about how Hanoi is going to react or not react than anyone else.

In my judgment, we are proceeding on a course of action that quite clearly will get the U.S. role in Vietnam greatly diminished and greatly reduce the cost both in lives and in money.


Now, I did at one time in 1968 propose that a time table tor the reduction, based upon my judgment as to what the situation was, [deleted].

Senator Case. Is this you in 1968 or you now? {p.308}


Mr. Vann. It was me in 1968, and I made certain assumptions which have thus far held correct, and my judgment continues to be at that level, that that is about as rapidly as we can do it without unnecessarily jeopardizing the continuation of the non-Communist government in Vietnam.

Senator Case. [Deleted.]

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. Will you break that down.

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. At what point did you say under 100,000?

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Only to 200,000 by then.

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Would you say it would take 5 years to get it down below 100,000?

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Three years?

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. It is too far to foresee beyond that?

Mr. Vann. [Deleted.] It is unpredictable as to whether Hanoi will scale up the fighting or scale down the fighting.


Senator Case. This is the thing that I think is kind of important. Those predictions of yours are based upon the assumption that Hanoi will be nice people.

Mr. Vann. No, rather that they will continue as they now are.

Senator Case. Well, what is that?

Mr. Vann. Maintaining their current level of strength in South Vietnam.

Senator Case. Suppose they decide to do more. One, will they be able to do more?

Mr. Vann. I personally, sir, don’t think that they can substantially increase their effort in South Vietnam. I see several reasons as to why they may want to scale it down and go back more toward a political guerilla-type effort, and to modify their expectations for perhaps a decade or even a decade and a half.

Senator Case. You think that they will not do more because they will not find it feasible to do more?

Mr. Vann. I think, sir, that they must be having a great number of internal problems. They are certainly having a great problem of morale among their troops at the moment, even at this level of action. They are having an extremely difficult logistical problem supporting this number of forces.

Senator Case. This is a very important factor, it seems to me, and this is the kind of information we don’t have much of.

Mr. Vann. Sir, keep in mind it is a personal opinion. It is not factual information.

Senator Case. You haven’t pulled it out of the air?

Mr. Vann. No, sir.

Senator Case. This is based upon your observations and upon what you have heard. {p.309}

Mr. Colby. I think it is fair to say also based primarily upon Mr. Vann’s position in the southern part of the country.

Senator Case. Yes.

Well, would you, Mr. Ambassador, express a view contrary to that?

Mr. Colby. I would say, in addition to the factors that he comes up with; you do have the problem of the DMZ and the potential for action in that area.

Senator Case. Yes. I think there is no doubt about that.

Mr. Colby. There is a shorter geographical distance involved and they are engaged in a logistical effort there, and so forth.

Senator Case. You do not exclude their ability to—

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have information, of course less information, about these corps areas, but I did try to take into consideration this type of thing, too, in arriving at this overall judgment from whatever — the information that I have had available, and once a month I do get a briefing on the situation in the entire country and outside my area.

Senator Case. Is your feeling based largely not on what Hanoi is about to do, but upon increasing strength among the South Vietnamese?

Mr. Vann. I believe there is every reason to expect that the Government’s control will improve over a period of time. I see time as an element on our side and one that is hurting the enemy.


Senator Case. This was a different appraisal from the one you were giving in 1967.

Mr. Vann. In 1967, sir, we had a very different situation. We had a tremendous problem in the pacification area because of the lack of the continuing close-in security for the population.

Keep in mind that in 1967 we were winning a lot of battles. That meat-grinding action may very well have caused the enemy to try the change of tactics that the Tet offensive represented.


Senator Case. Now, looking at your own prediction as to what you think is likely, what does this involve in 1970, 1971, 1972, in the loss of American lives?

Mr. Vann. I believe, sir, that it should be an ever-diminishing rate.

Senator Case. Well, would you give us some order of magnitude.

Mr. Vann. Sir, I would really submit that you could get much better estimates from someone directly involved in the U.S. tactical military effort.

Senator Case. I don’t mind trying that, of course, but I would like to have your own.

Mr. Vann. Well, sir, when we think of an ever-diminishing rate, one of the factors involved in casualties is that a great number of the casualties (less now than before — at one time it was over 50 percent of U.S. casualties) are from mines and boobytraps.

Now, the fewer U.S. troops you have in Vietnam, the fewer mines and boobytraps they are going to stumble over. So there has been quite a correlation between the size of our force structure and the number of casualties. If we get down to half of the present force {p.310} structure I would imagine the casualties would be half of what they are now.

Senator Case. Are you suggesting, your belief is, that the most likely result is [deleted].

The Chairman. Could I ask, Mr. Colby, if you have any different view about this estimate?

Mr. Colby. Well, I have great respect for John Vann’s attitudes and views. I think that as the nature of the American participation changes from combat units to primarily support structure, you will have the same kind of impact on American casualties. You will have a very substantial reduction, more than proportionate.

I think an example is the delta today without U.S. ground combat forces, although still with air combat forces — to refer to the Senator’s statements the other day. Nonetheless, the fact is that you have very few American casualties at this time in the delta area each week and month. I think as you reduce the American participation in the ground combat work in the other parts of the country, you will get a very sharp decline in the total number of American casualties.


As for the projection of Hanoi’s attitude and what they are thinking — if they are determined to carry on and achieve a Communist victory in South Vietnam at some appropriate time, they have a very difficult problem on their hands. They made kind of a truce on the assumption that the place would fall into their hands in 1954. They were badly deceived because the country picked itself up and put itself together and actually began to run, and I think—

The Chairman. Do you mean under Diem?

Mr. Colby. Yes, in the first couple of years in the Diem period, there was a very distinct revival of that nation or formation of a nation if you will. It deteriorated later for other reasons.

But they face the prospect of turning off the gas on this effort with the very dangerous potential for them that their forces in the south will disintegrate, that their own drive and sense of purpose will reduce, and that they would be sort of confessing to having failed. It is very dangerous politically to the heirs of Ho Chi Minh to come up and say that they failed in what their leader told them to do.

I think they will continue to keep some pressure on, with whatever they are able to use. I think that the potential for winding up and giving kind of a special effort is always there. They do have divisions in the area north of the DMZ. Their supply lines are shorter up in that area. I think there is a chance that at some time they could make a decision that their situation in the south was deteriorating to such a degree that they had to do something dramatic and sharp to shake it up, the way they obviously felt in early 1968.

Senator Case. Is there a possibility that, rather than being able to do this, they are reducing their response in response to ours and the evidence of this may be their increased activity in the plain of Jarres?

Mr. Colby. It is, of course, possible. Senator. I don’t read their mind.

Senator Case. I know. {p.311}

Mr. Colby. I frankly do not think so. I frankly believe their directives to their forces, their speeches to their people, show a continued determination to keep the heat on in South Vietnam.

The Lao situation is more or less as it has been all along, except that they have put some extra forces into it in the past 6 months or year.

Senator Case. Indeed they have.

Mr. Colby. But it is not anywhere near the magnitude of extra forces that they have in South Vietnam.

Senator Case. Of course not. But it is a substantial increase which suggests they are not under pressure. That is all I am trying to get at.

Mr. Colby. Well, it suggests they are able to put those forces which are in North Vietnam into an area very close to their own homeland as distinct from sending them all the way down to the South, which is a very large logistics problem.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, I didn’t mean to barge in in this way, but you and I are directly interested in the same approach.

The Chairman. Could you come back at a quarter of three as you did yesterday?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir, at your disposal, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. I have two constituents I promised to take to lunch.

Senator Case. That would be a humanitarian thing to do anyway.

The Chairman. We will come back then at a quarter of three. Thank you very much.

(Whereupon, at 12:55 p.m., the committee recessed, to reconvene at 2:45 p.m., this same day.)


The Chairman. The committee will come to order. Sergeant Wallace, as I said, I didn’t get to ask you any questions at all.


Do you speak Vietnamese?

Testimony of
Sgt. Richard D. Wallace
— Resumed

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir, I don’t. I have two marines that speak fairly good Vietnamese, and also my counterparts speak excellent English. We have a big brother program in which we select children within the hamlets to work for the Marines. The majority of these kids who work for us speak fluent English, and also write English.

The Chairman. Did you say two of those in your CAP team? Your CAP team consists of five?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir, there are 13 marines.

The Chairman. Two of them speak Vietnamese?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, not fluently but they get a point across.

The Chairman. How do you communicate with the PF soldiers and with residents in the village in which you are stationed? {p.312}

Sergeant Wallace. Again, part of the PF’s, a good percentage, speak English, and the marines who speak Vietnamese are with me.

The Chairman. What percentage of your PF’s speak English?

Sergeant Wallace. I would say 25 percent.

The Chairman. Where are they learning?

Sergeant Wallace. School, sir, and from the marines and from the children.

The Chairman. How do you ascertain that the marines are understood by the people in the hamlets?

Sergeant Wallace. Well, sir, when we first arrived there, the hamlets were having quite a bit of trouble. We were primarily working within that area, operating in and around the hamlet there. The people are accepting the marines. They are more friendly with them. I am invited to all the hamlet meetings.


The Chairman. What kind of hamlet meetings?

Sergeant Wallace. This is just the hamlet meetings where they get the older people—

The Chairman. Are they social meetings?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. What is the nature of the social meetings?

Sergeant Wallace. I just discuss things which improve the village or hamlet, and problems which have arisen and try to work these out.


The Chairman. Describe in the way that your predecessor, Captain Murphy did, a normal day. Give us a feeling of what you do and what is said.

Sergeant Wallace. Fine, sir.

I start off in the evening, usually around 6:30 or a half hour or an hour after dark. We run two patrols which go out and set up their ambushes. These ambushes stay out all night. They come back the next morning at approximately 6:30, depending upon what time of the year it is.

Then we send out a security guard to guard the hamlet in the daytime. We work with the rural development cadre. We get supplies for them and help them to rebuild the hamlet.

The people need wood, cement, tin, et cetera. The Marines during this time have opportunities to sleep.



The Chairman. How is your 13-man CAP team chosen?

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, they are selected from the United States. At one time the CAP were all from within South Vietnam, but the program has been expanded and they are accepting them from the States. They are sent over with orders for the CAP program. They are screened and the better qualified Marines are taken for this program.

Senator Aiken. Are they from rural areas?

Sergeant Wallace. Pardon me, sir?

Senator Aiken. Are the Marines from the rural areas largely?

Sergeant Wallace. I don’t know what you mean by rural area. {p.313}

Mr. Colby. American farm areas. They are not.

Sergeant Wallace. They are not.

The Chairman. Is there any special training the squad leaders receive?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir. We go to a CAP school, which is located in Danang. The school lasts 2 weeks. They just talk about the people, how the people live, the customs, et cetera.

The Chairman. Have the Marines under your command been given any special training?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir. They also attend this 2-week course.

The Chairman. They do too?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir. All Marines going through the CAP program attended this school.

The Chairman. Do you think the Marines today are trained as well as they were in the past?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir. Present day demands for Marines are quite large. They are rushed through most of the training. They don’t have as much time to grasp all the infantry aspects which they need, and are not trained as well as I was when I went through training.

The Chairman. You say this is because they are in too big a hurry?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir. The demand for Marines is such that they rush them through classes.


The Chairman. Why is the demand so great?

Sergeant Wallace. We need Marines. People are rotating and to fill their positions they must get the replacements over to Vietnam.

The Chairman. But we are reducing the numbers. Aren’t we reducing the number of Marines along with the Army?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, correct. But when they rotate a man, they still have to send replacements for the remaining units.

The Chairman. Where does the reduction come about if you replace them or is this a fiction?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir, it is not a fiction. They are reducing the Marines.

The Chairman. If they are reducing, then you don’t send a replacement every time you bring one home; do you?

Sergeant Wallace. I guess that is correct, sir.

The Chairman. I am trying to get it straight in my own mind. Why is there a greater demand for Marines now than there was when you were in training?

Sergeant Wallace. The CAP program has enlarged quite a bit. It is expanding.

The Chairman. The CAP program is expanding, not the Marines generally?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir. In my area you will find we have two infantry units which I will show you on the map here. Charlie Company from the 1-26th, and also India Company from the 3-1st. They also have started using the CAP program. They are sending men down to work with the Popular Force soldiers.

India Company has CAP units located just north of my area. The 26th Marines have a CAP which is just south of my area. They operate {p.314} primarily in Huong Son area. The CAP program has been quite effective.

The Chairman. For what purpose?

Sergeant Wallace. Providing security for the hamlets.

The Chairman. I see.


Would you say that the area you cover is typical of the province in terms of the security situation, lack of support for the Vietcong?

Sergeant Wallace. Would you rephrase that, sir.

The Chairman. Is the area that you cover typical of the province as a whole with regard to the security of the people and the lack of support for the Vietcong?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. It is typical?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. It is not unusual.


We have often read in the papers that American soldiers, including marines, refer to the Vietnamese as Dinks, Gooks, or Slants. Is the terminology generally used?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Which is the more fashionable?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Could you give us any enlightenment as to why these terms are used by the marines?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Is this a word of affection?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Is it respect? What is it?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. Your counterparts?

Sergeant Wallace. [Deleted.]

The Chairman. You are an adviser?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir; I am not an adviser.

The Chairman. You are a leader of the CAP’s?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir; a squad.

The Chairman. Do you have any questions, Senator Aiken?


Senator Aiken. Are the Marines always in uniform?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

Senator Aiken. Do the Popular Forces have a uniform too?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir; they have.

Senator Aiken. I don’t want to ask any questions. Any I would ask have probably been asked twice already, so I will get it from the record. {p.315}


The Chairman. Do you think that most of the people in the hamlets in which you have been stationed support the present Government of South Vietnam?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, I do.


The Chairman. What is the kill ratio of the CAP platoons?

Sergeant Wallace. Just a second, sir, I have the statistics. Sir, these are statistics from January 1 to November 30, 1969. Total enemy killed in this period of time was 4,735; the enemy killed by CAP’s was 1,862. The ratio is 6.4 to 1.

The Chairman. 6.4 enemy to 1?

Sergeant Wallace. Friendly.


The Chairman. Do you know the kill ratio of Popular Force platoons operating alone after CAP teams have left?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, 3.5 to 1.

The Chairman. Just about half.

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Do you know whether that is general or is that only in your area?

Sergeant Wallace. This is for the entire CAP program, sir, the entire combined action force, 114 CAP’s.


The Chairman. Is that the ratio of the People’s Self-Defense Forces?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir. This does not include the PSDF.

The Chairman. What is their kill ratio?

Sergeant Wallace. I don’t have that.

The Chairman. Do you have that, Ambassador Colby?

Mr. Colby. We have some very poor statistics on that, Senator, which I don’t have very much reliance on. It comes out roughly one for one on People’s Self-Defense. These vary.


Senator Aiken. I would like to ask one more question. You say this is a farming community. Do the people own the land on which they work or are they tenants working as tenant farmers? Are they working for someone who owns a lot of land perhaps?

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, I don’t know.

Senator Aiken. Is it their own? You might know. Is that situation better over there than it was?

Mr. Colby. It varies from one part of the country to another, Senator. Up in central Vietnam they never have had a very large landlord problem. Most of the holdings there are fairly small holdings. A number of them are rented out to other people in the villages.

A family will rent out part of its land to someone else. {p.316}

Senator Aiken. The boundaries are well defined?

Mr. Colby. Quite well defined, and they remain stable. Even when the village leaves because of the war and comes back 3 years later, the families find their old locations. The village handles a great deal of that.

Now, down in the delta area, where you did have larger holdings and absentee landlordism, there has been some modification over the past few years.

Under the Diem regime they put in a partial land reform program, let us say, and accepted as that. It reduced the maximum holding down to 100 hectares, plus a little for religious purposes. That is 250 acres.

This absorbed land which was formerly owned by the French or former bigger holdings. They spent quite a time trying to distribute this land, and by 1961-62 when the war began they had not done very much of it. This past year they had 147,000 hectares yet to distribute. They essentially had not distributed anything much over the past 7 years.

During this past year the Government set the goal of finishing up that whole 147,000. They did not make it. They did distribute about 75,000. They will clean it up in the early part of this year.

Senator Aiken. That is quite an improvement.

Mr. Colby. Yes. There was more distributed this year than the last 7 years.

Senator Aiken. When a few people get control of the land it seems almost a pure formula for rebellion in the country.

Mr. Colby. Well, the Government today has a further bill on land reform which has been in the National Assembly.

Senator Aiken. I know.

Mr. Colby. It is not yet up before the Senate. It is in Senate committee at the moment. This would reduce the maximum holding down quite a bit further. There is some debate as to whether it will be eight or ten hectares, but it will be way down. The thrust of the Government’s position on the bill is that you will arrive at a situation where you essentially cannot be a landlord. The only way to own land is to work it. That is the thrust of their policy. That has not yet passed the National Assembly.

Senator Aiken. Ok.


The Chairman. Captain Murphy, perhaps you are as good as anyone on this. Are you familiar with the hamlet festival?

Testimony of
Capt. Armand Murphy
— Resumed

Captain Murphy. No, I am not, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Are you?

Testimony of
Capt. Richard T. Geck
— Resumed

Captain Geck. Mr. Chairman, are you referring to a situation in which we would bring in entertainment and bring the people together where we conducted operations?

The Chairman. This is described in a handbook for military support, pacification, but it is 2 years old. {p.317}

Captain Geck. I believe that is what you are referring to, sir. I have been instructed in it, but I do not use it.

The Chairman. Do you use it any more?

Do either of you know?

Captain Geck. No, sir.

The Chairman. I don’t know whether this calls —

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, we call it Psyops. Occasionally a team of Vietnamese will come in and show a movie.

The Chairman. “The purpose of this annex is to set forth the task organization of the RVNAF teams of the hamlet festival force involved in a cordon and search operation; in addition, discussion of the physical layout of the hamlet festival is presented. Task organization and functions of RVNAF teams. * * * , cultural team, agricultural team, youth services teach,” and so on.

Captain Murphy. Possibly, Mr. Chairman, this is a function of the regular forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

The Chairman. I wondered whether you participated in it.

Captain Murphy. I am not familiar with it.

The Chairman. Either of you?

Captain Geck. It was a technique taught to us when we went through the advisory training program. We have used it in a modified sense.

The Chairman. It does not look as if it is a promising subject.

Mr. Vann. Mr Chairman, may I make mention of the fact that I am very familiar with the program. It is a program largely involving U.S. tactical forces, working in conjunction with police or provincial forces, that were involved in taking an area that had been under Vietcong control or in which there might still be members of the Vietcong. They surround the area, seal it off, and then have the National Police of the Government of Vietman {sic: Vietnam} assemble the people in the center of the town and interrogate, usually the males, and some of the female adults.

To make this less onerous for the people, a county fair or hamlet festival was also established wherein food, drink, and medical aid was dispensed to the people while they were assembled. They would also sometimes show movies or even get some local Vietnamese cultural drama teams to put on entertainment. It is a technique that was used extensively in 1967.

It has largely been abandoned since that period of time.

The Chairman. I suspected as much.


I believe we come back to the Phoenix program.

Ambassador Colby, I believe you said your statistical information about what happens to the Vietcong after their apprehension is not very good. I notice an article by Mr. Terence Smith in the New York Times of August 19, 1969 which says:

Officials in charge of the program acknowledge that fewer than 20 percent of the 25,233 suspected agents and sympathizers who had been arrested have received prison sentences of a year or more.

Terence Smith, “C.I.A.-Planned Drive on Officials Of Vietcong Is Said to Be Failing; U.S. Sources Say Suspects Are Often Freed by Local Vietnamese Authorities” (New York Times, August 19 1969, page A12).  CJHjr

Do you think that is correct?

Mr. Colby. Well, Mr. Chairman, I stand by the fact that our information is not very good. We did run a survey here about 8 months {p.318} ago in which we used what information we had available and could collect on what happened to people. The experience at that time did reveal that about 20 percent received a sentence of more than 6 months. Most of them were much less.


This was a one-time experiment, and I would not generalize it completely, but it was one of the factors used to discuss with the government the necessity for a tightening up of the regulations as to what kind of sentences were applied to what kinds of people.

The Chairman. The same article quotes Mr. John Mason, identified as the head of the American Phoenix Advisers, and as saying, “Many of them just go out the back door of the jail. We know that.” What does he mean by that?

Mr. Colby. He means that a number of the people who are originally arrested are released very quickly because government officials decide they do not have enough of a case to hold them.


Mr. Chairman, if I might, I have prepared a statement on the Phoenix program, if I might submit it for the record.

The Chairman. Yes, indeed.

Mr. Colby. It is just a general roundup of the program and it might help fill out the record.

(The information referred to appears on p.723.)


The Chairman. Yesterday you mentioned a system of administrative detention of up to 2 years under the Phoenix program. Would you describe what happens to the typical member of the VC infrastructure who is arrested.

Mr. Colby. The man is arrested. As I think Major Arthur said, he would be picked up and brought into the district. He would be interrogated there for about 24 hours maximum. He would then be sent to the province.

There he would be held in a detention center at the province level. He would be interrogated there by some more specialized teams of interrogators, people who would try to find out both his tactical knowledge and his knowledge of the enemy infrastructure.

While under interrogation a case would be prepared describing his activity and his background, describing for what reason be should be held.

This case would be reviewed by what is called the province security committee. The province security committee, as I mentioned, is made up of the province chief, the deputy province chief for administration, the chairman of the provincial council, an elected body, the local provincial judge. There is frequently only one judge in the province, and he would be a member — I think a better term for it in English is the local district attorney, frankly, because—

Senator Aiken. Is he appointed or elected?

Mr. Colby. Under their system of law he is appointed. He is under the Ministry of Justice. He is a national government official.

Senator Aiken. I see. {p.319}

Mr. Colby. The case would be reviewed by that body. Assuming the suspect fell within the categories and depending on what his job was in the VC, he would receive an appropriate sentence according to the subdivisions that I have outlined. Serious party members would have a minimum of a 2-year sentence.

Leaders of the fronts, and that sort of thing, but not party members, would receive a 1- to 2-year sentence. A lesser follower, someone who had just helped at the machinery, would have a maximum of 1 year.

Upon conviction, under the current legislation, he would be moved to a detention center or corrections center, as it is called, a prison, and held there until the expiration of his term.

Now I am speaking of the ideal, Mr. Chairman. I am speaking of the way the legislation says it should work. There are weaknesses in it that are being worked on. One of them, for instance, is that there is frequently a long detention period while the case is being prepared. Bureaucracy does not prepare it fast enough.

The other thing, as was mentioned, is that a number of the cases received less than the appropriate sentence for their job until recently when this had begun to tighten up a little bit.

Some of the provinces have not moved the individuals from the province detention facilities to the national corrections centers even after the sentence. Up until a few months ago the requirement was that the case be reviewed and confirmed by the Ministry of Justice, which meant another 2 or 3 months’ delay in the processing. That has been changed in the past few months, so that, once the case was approved by the province security committee, the men will be moved to the national corrections center and begin serving their terms. The Ministry of Interior still does review the case but it reviews it after he has been sent to the corrections center.


The Chairman. Who makes up the province security committee? I did not understand that.

Mr. Colby. The province chief, the deputy province chief, his deputy for administration. The latter is a civilian.

The Chairman. These are all Vietnamese?

Mr. Colby. Oh, yes. No Americans are in this. A number of these officers actually have American advisers. The province chiefs have senior advisers, for instance, but no Americans sit on committee.


The Chairman. Does the arrested person have a counsel and trial?

Mr. Colby. Generally, no.

The Chairman. May he be tried by the committee while he is in jail and in absentia?

Mr. Colby. I think what you mean is one thing that is currently under discussion, Mr. Chairman. Does he have a right to a hearing?

The Chairman. And to be present at it?

Mr. Colby. No, he does not have a right to a hearing under the present legislation. There is some consideration being given to modifying that. {p.320}


The Chairman. In 1968, out of a total of 15,776 VCI neutralized under the Phoenix program, 2,259 were killed, which is about 13 percent of the total.

Last year 6,187 were killed out of 19,534 neutralized, which is about 36 percent.

I noticed according to your statements for the record, the VCI killed about the same number of people. You said more than 6,000. What is the explanation of the great increase in the percentage of the VCI killed in 1969?

Mr. Colby. If I may make one correction, Mr. Chairman. You will recall that 1968 terrorist figures do not include the month of February, the month of the Tet attacks, so that it is an 11-month period.

The Chairman. I see.

Mr. Colby. Actually there were more people killed during 1968 than 1969, I am quite sure.

The explanation for the difference, Mr. Chairman, is, I believe, that during 1969 increased attention has been given to the program. There has particularly been an increased discipline over the kinds of people that were credited to the program.

During 1968 they did not have precise definitions of who was a VCI and, consequently, pretty much everyone who was arrested was included as a VCI in those figures.

By 1969, these sharpened up a bit, and many people who were actually captured and arrested as VC could not be classified as VCI for this program.

Secondly, I think that the pressures on the program of concentrating on the infrastructure as a target have created a greater degree of activity and a greater degree of intensity of effort so that even though the figures in 1969 are harder, I think you are getting essentially a larger total than you had for the softer figures in 1968.

Third, as I mentioned the other day, I think that a substantial number of the killed were not ones that were particularly targeted but were ones which were identified as members of the infrastructure after having been killed in some kind of an action. But since there was a certain desire to focus on the infrastructure as a target, these people were credited to the totals.

Mr. Vann. Could I add two things to that, sir, from my experience in the Delta?

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Vann. In 1969 many more members of the infrastructure are living in base areas than in 1968.

In 1968, they were continuing to live in the hamlet. Because they now live in base areas, it means they live with the military unit as opposed to living among the civilian communities. That would account on the one hand for why there would be such a high percentage killed.

Finally, and Ambassador Colby just touched on it, you are kind of comparing apples and oranges because in 1968 the figures are A, B, and C categories. In 1969, it was A, B, and C for the first 5 months and then A and B only lor the last 7 months. {p.321}

If you were to take comparable figures for 1968 and 1969 — A, B, and, C for the total year — the percentage of VCI killed goes down substantially.

The Chairman. Would the numbers go down?

Mr. Vann. Sir?

The Chairman. The number.

Mr. Vann. The number would go up.

Mr. Colby. The number goes up very substantially.

Mr. Vann. The numbers would go up, but the number killed goes down.

The Chairman. The number 6,000 against 2,000 is substantial.

Mr. Vann. Right, sir.

The Chairman. Numbers, not percentage.

Mr. Vann. Right, sir. But total numbers also go up considerably in 1969.


The Chairman. Do you consider this program a successful one, Mr. Vann?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I consider it an essential program that has not become anywhere near as effective as we believe it can be. I also am well aware that, like any other program in Vietnam, it has its share of abuses, and by its very nature it is one which is extremely vulnerable to being misused. It requires a great deal of supervision.

Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, would you yield for one question here?

The Chairman. Yes.


Senator Symington. Why do you think it is essential?

Mr. Vann. Are you referring to me, sir, or the Ambassador?

Senator Symington. You said you thought it was essential.

Mr. Vann. I think it is essential because in any organization of the enemy the brains of that organization are what keep it going. In other words, you can kill on a continuing basis followers and yet the people who can organize things politically can get a recruiting drive going and replace these followers. They can continue to send them out where they are in danger and can be, and will be, killed and have to be replaced. The followers go out to do the missions or the dirty work, if you will. They are the ones who are sent out to do executions of GVN officials.

The best way of getting on top of that is to get the nerve center, the command post, of the enemy, and this is essentially what the Phoenix or Phung Hoang program is designed to do.

It has not yet enjoyed the success that we feel is possible. It has not done it primarily because there has not been the same degree of awareness on the part of the Government of Vietnam, speaking on the whole, not as individuals, as there is on the part of the United States as to the importance of this.

Please keep in mind their government is very militarily oriented. Even on the American side for years we had difficulty getting the {p.322} G-2 elements at various tactical levels to recognize that it was sometimes more important to capture one key organizer in an area than it was to kill 100 guerrillas because he was the man who could keep up the organization, keep it flourishing and replenish the losses as they occurred.

I had a very high level U.S. American Army G-2 officer comment to me in 1967, “Look, let us win this damned war by killing the enemy and then you civilians can screw around with the infrastructure after the war is over.” That reflected all too often the attitude on the part of some U.S. personnel.

The attitude is much more prevalent on the part of the Vietnamese personnel because they are much more militarily oriented in their entire government structure than we are. This is why I consider it is an essential program, sir.

Mr. Colby. I think I might add to that, Senator, that the necessity of the program comes from the nature of the war being fought. This is a war fought on different levels. Part of the war is a subversive war, a terrorist war being fought by a political apparatus, one which refused to consider operating under any kind of normal rule.

They are the ones who began the process of subversion and developing these networks, developing the attacks on the government structure.

If you are going to fight this kind of a war, you have to fight it on this level as well as on the regular level. You have to do a better job. The government of Vietnam, however, as Mr. Vann said, has not developed much expertise in this thing.

We Americans have been learning the necessity of it. The Com-

munist Party of Indo-China began in 1930 and they have been developing their techniques and standards ever since, so they have about a 40-year jump on us in terms of professionalism. This is a very professional covert operation that the enemy is running. A normal member of the VCI will have several aliases; he will have all the paraphernalia of covert operations, cutouts and all that sort of thing. So it is a subversive organization and it has to be met by good, sensible, hard police methods — intelligent ones too, not brutal ones; don’t get me wrong.


The Chairman. This is directed at civilians rather than military; is that correct? I am not sure.

Mr. Colby. Sir, the difference between a civilian and a military is very fuzzy in the nature of this war.

Is the guerrilla a civilian or military? Is the political boss civilian or military? Is the fellow who is in the local force unit civilian or military? He probably does not have a uniform. He does have a weapon.

The infrastructure fellow has a weapon. Maybe he has a bomb that he places someplace. Is he civilian or military? Those distinctions are some of the things that we have learned are not that compelling. We have learned it in our CORDS organization. We have learned that we have to put civilian Americans and military Americans together to make an American team to fight this kind of war. It does not divide into civil and military. {p.323}

The Chairman. Does this account for the fact that you have incidents like Mylai in which you cannot tell the difference, so you resolve all doubts in favor of the fact that they are all VCI because you cannot tell the difference?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. I think I have tried to indicate that we have devoted quite a lot of effort to identifying precisely who is a member of which part of the apparatus.

The Chairman. This is what confuses me. I thought you said it was difficult to tell the difference. I can see it would be very difficult.

Mr. Colby. I am saying there is not a difference between civil and military.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Colby. But the Phoenix program is aimed at identifying by name — not by character but by name — the people who do these different jobs so they can be identified and individually picked up.

Mr. Vann. Sir, there is no relationship at all between the incident which is alleged to have happened at Mylai and the type of program we are now discussing, no relationship at all.

The Chairman. I can see there is not in that sense, but there is the fact that you cannot tell very well the difference between a military man and a VCI, a soldier. These people don’t wear their uniforms. They all wear pajamas; don’t they?

Mr. Vann. Let’s look at it from the other side, sir. Ambassador Colby is just as legitimate a target to the other side as is General Abrams.

When I travel in the countryside, sir, I have, not on my person, but close to me in the back of my helicopter and on my person if I am going to spend a night in an outpost, a weapon to give myself close-in protection if someone tries to assassinate me or shoot me. That is the kind of a war it is. Everything is fair game for either side.

Senator Symington. You say you have a weapon to protect you if someone is about to attack you?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir.

Senator Symington. Where do you keep it?

Mr. Vann. If I am flying in my helicopter or in my car I have it at my feet or at my side, but out of sight because I don’t like to have it visible. I will have four hand grenades in a briefcase and a pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition in my briefcase.

Senator Symington. Thank you.

The Chairman. I agree this is a very peculiar war. Everything indicates that, but I am trying to understand.


Are you familiar with the allegations made in the case in Baltimore involving a man named Reichmeyer? Are either of you familiar with it?

Mr. Colby. Are those the two officers?

The Chairman. They were being trained at Fort Holabird.

Mr. Colby. Generally. I am not precisely familiar with it.

The Chairman. Could you give an explanation of your point of view or your explanation of that incident if you are familiar with it? {p.324}

Mr. Colby. I am not familiar with it, Mr. Chairman. All I know is that those officers apparently had not been to Vietnam. They were talking about what they would be told to do when they got to Vietnam.

The Chairman. That is correct.

They were repeating what an instructor who had been to Vietnam told them would be expected of them when they arrived there; is that not correct? That was the report.

Mr. Colby. Right. My only comment is that that is not expected of them. In fact, quite the contrary, we have given very specific directives to our officers as to their behavior, and I believe I have submitted one of those for the record.

(The information referred to appears on p. 61).

The Chairman. Why did the Government drop the case and not go on through with it and allow them to attempt to prove their allegation?

Mr. Colby. I don’t know.

The Chairman. This is the same sort of thing that the Senator from Missouri and I are concerned about in the executive hearings. In this case these two men offered to prove their allegations. The Government backed off from it and it was quashed. It reminds me a little of what is quashed in our hearings and it leaves these questions in our minds.

I would much prefer for our own satisfaction if the Government had made the explanation you are making and had been able to sustain it. It would have cleared the air and been a lot better. These two men made what they called a proffer and the Government after that dropped it and didn’t prosecute them. The men were allowed whatever it was they asked for. It was a conscientious objection or something. The men said they were very deeply offended by what they believed they were expected to do if they went to Vietnam, which is what has been explained.

I grant it is just one case.

Mr. Vann. Senator Fulbright, may I submit—

The Chairman. I would like you to.

Mr. Vann. Although you have a policy, a program of instruction, and clearly delineated orders and principles that people are to follow, the Army, CORDS organization, and all of our other agencies in Vietnam are, after all, made up of human beings. Many people deviate from what they have been told to do because of their own personal experience or because of their personal convictions as to what may be right. I have on a continuing basis found subordinates of mine violating my established policies. Depending upon the nature of the violation, I either get it corrected or I discipline them.

But, sir, those are not the published instructions. It is not the way these people operate. What these two young gentlemen were told, and by what instructor, is not within my knowledge, but I do submit it is quite possible it was someone acting outside of the scope of his established responsibility.

The Chairman. I regret that the Government did not go ahead and clear the matter up at the time. {p.325}


What I said reminds me of a statement yesterday. I won’t undertake exactly to state what you said, Colonel Vann, but you expressed a certain resentment, I think, at what you considered an implication of some questions relating to this program.

It occurred to me afterward, when I considered how many acts of violence take place in this city or in New York City or any other city in America and the enormous increase in the amount of crime and violence here in this country, that you really should not be too surprised that people who hear about these things are not too skeptical about the allegations of crime or, we will say, acts of violence in Vietnam because we have them here at home.

We are at present a very violent people. Everything indicates that.

Mr. Vann. All I was submitting, sir, is when it happens here it is in violation of the law.

The Chairman. That is right.

Mr. Vann. When it happens there it is in violation of the law as we have established it.


The Chairman. I think you are right in a sense. I mean I don’t feel that you have deliberately ordered people, or the policy orders them, to do many of the things which are done. The conditions are such that it almost inevitably results in that because this is a very nasty war. Don’t you think it is?

Mr. Vann. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Mr. Colby. I don’t think it almost inevitably results in that.

Mr. Vann. I agree with you it is a nasty war, sir.

The Chairman. I think it arises out of the fact that we intervened in a civil war and the Americans were led to believe it was a holy war on a different basis. This has nothing to do with the way you gentlemen discharge your duties. There have been many, many misapprehensions about what the war is about, but that is another matter, largely of a political nature.

Mr. Colby. I did hope, Mr. Chairman, that in the course of these hearings we might lay to rest the belief that had gotten abroad and in the press that the Phoenix program was a program of assassination and murder and that sort of thing. I just don’t think it is. It is not—


Senator Symington. If the Chair will yield, the testimony recently was that you go after the people at the top. How do you get them at the top. Suppose they resist; what do you do then?

Mr. Colby. The purpose of the program, Senator, is to—

Senator Symington. I understand what the purpose is.

Mr. Colby. To get ahold of the fellows. {p.326}

Senator Symington. You have been over the purpose. We both know — I have been in the Army myself, I have been a secretary in the Pentagon, and I think I know something about the establishment.

Mr. Vann says he has a gun by his feet and hand grenades in his valise, and so forth and so on.

Now, he emphasizes that it is not important to kill a blank number, which is what we do every week. We put out how many of them that we kill, and I think that is a relatively unimportant piece of knowledge.

With our industrial complex, if we cannot kill a lot of North Vietnamese, then I am very surprised. I wish we would have killed more North Vietnamese before they had killed more Americans. But, in any case, we kill a lot and we boast about it.

Mr. Vann comes up here and he says it is not important to kill the little people; it is important to kill the big people.

Mr. Colby. No, sir.

Senator Symington. That is, in effect, what he is saying, because you say you are going to get them. Suppose you go in and arrest a man and he pulls a gun on you. What do you do, run away or do you pull a gun on him?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. But the statistics for this year, as the chairman was suggesting, show that roughly a third of these were picked up by capture, roughly a third by themselves voluntarily coming over to the Government, and roughly a third by being killed.

Senator Symington. Right.

Mr. Colby. Now the rest of the effort is to try to get them to come to our side, either by invitation or by grabbing them.

Senator Symington. But you are told to get them, aren’t you, just like the Canadian Mounted Police are told to get their man. That is what they are told, aren’t they?

Mr. Colby. That is right.

Senator Symington. When you are told to get a civilian in a village it is stretching it a little bit to say that under no circumstances should you be considered — of course, the word “get” is an important word, you see.

Mr. Colby. Agreed.

Senator Symington. I have been on the CIA Committee in the Senate for over a decade and I think we are beginning to get awfully wordy about what we are doing.


Colonel Vann, you said this morning that you didn’t think that Mai was a Communist; is that correct?

Mr. Vann. That is correct, sir. I have no reason to think that he is other than what he seems to be, which is a dedicated Nationalist.

Senator Symington. Right. And you also said the same about Chau, didn’t you?

Mr. Vann. That is correct, sir.

Senator Symington. Why do you think the Ambassador feels Chau is a Communist?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know that he does.

Senator Symington. Well, I do because he told our staff people that he was. {p.327}

Mr. Vann. He did not tell me that.

Senator Symington. Why do you think he told our staff people that he was?

Mr. Vann. If he thinks that, he has information that is not available to me.

Senator Symington. Or to the head of the CIA out there Mr. [deleted] who happens to be a friend of mine, and one of the best men I know in the business. He bays he is not a Communist.

Do you think Mr. Bunker takes the word of Mr. Thieu or some other official in the Saigon government over the top official in our Government?

Mr. Vann. I really cannot answer that, sir.

Senator Symington. But you are in your own mind confident that Mr. [deleted] is right and Ambassador Bunker is wrong about his being a Communist; is that correct?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I would not phrase it in that fashion.

Senator Symington. How would you phrase it?

Mr. Vann. I would say that I have no information at all that would suggest to me that Tran Ngoc Chau is a Communist. The information I do have suggests to me that he is not a Communist. It suggests to me he is not pro-Communist.

Senator Symington. All right. You have made your point.


Did Mr. Chau ever tell you that he discussed his contacts with his brother, who was a Communist?

Mr. Vann. With whom, sir?

Senator Symington. With his own brother.

Mr. Vann. He told me about his brother.

Senator Symington. What did he tell you about his brother?

Mr. Vann. He told me that his brother had come to see him and wanted to establish contact with the Americans.

Senator Symington. Did he tell you that his brother was a Communist?

Mr. Vann. He told me his brother was a Communist. However, he qualified it, and we had an argument about it. He told me his brother was first a nationalist and second a Communist, and I told him I thought that no one could be a Communist and have it as a second priority and that his brother must be first a Communist.


Senator Symington. What would you say Dnbczek was, first a Communist and second a nationalist in Czechoslvakia, or first a nationalist and second a Communist. What would you say about that?

Mr. Vann. First of all, sir, I know nothing about the gentlemen except for what I read in the paper.

Senator Symington. I see.

If a man is a Communist, do you think automatically he cannot be a nationalist; is that right?

Mr. Vann. No, sir. I just think that, if he is a Communist, that takes first priority in his thinking, and nationalism would be second. {p.328}


Senator Symington. What do you mean by that?

How about the Czechoslovak Communists? You must get some papers out where you are. How about the Czechoslovaks who risk their lives protesting against communism although they are members of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia? Do you think they are nationalists first?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I don’t consider communism to be monolithic.

Senator Symington. What are you talking about?

Mr. Vann. I am saying I would imagine their allegiance to the Czechoslovak Communist Party would override, if it came into conflict with their feelings of nationalism, provided they were bona fide Communists.

Senator Symington. Well, we are getting into a semantic square dance.


Senator Symington. Let me ask you this question, Colonel Vann. Do you know of any contacts that Mr. Chau had with the CIA?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I only know that Colonel Chau worked with the CIA advisers in his province, the CIA advisers in the Vung Tau Training Center, and the CIA advisers at the ministerial level.

Colonel Chau told me that he had had contacts with the CIA.

Senator Symington. What people did he have contact with?

Mr. Vann. Sir, he told me he had contacts with Mr. [deleted] and Mr. [deleted].

Senator Symington. Did he tell you he had any contact with Mr. [deleted]?

Mr. Vann. No, sir, he did not.

Senator Symington. Or Mr. [deleted]?

Mr. Vann. No, sir.

Senator Symington. Do you know whether the CIA reported Mr. Chau’s contacts to the Government of South Vietnam?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have no idea of what they did or did not report.

Senator Symington. Mr. Colby, do you know about that, sir?

Mr. Colby. I really cannot answer. I wouldn’t want to answer without checking the files, Senator.


Senator Symington. Do either of you know whether Chau’s differences with the CIA over the program involved Messrs. [deleted]?

Mr. Colby. They were both there at the time, sir.

Senator Symington. Were there differences between them?

Mr. Colby. I could not say. It was a difference between our Agency and Mr. Chau about how the thing should be run, [deleted].

Senator Symington. Colonel Vann, how about that?

Mr. Vann. I am aware that they did have differences of opinion on how the cadre program should be run, sir.

Senator Symington. What were the differences?

Mr. Vann. The differences were a matter of the degree of control that the CIA should exercise versus the degree and the type of control the Government of Vietnam should exercise. {p.329}

Senator Symington. Did you know that when the Ambassador sent representatives down there that they came back and agreed with Mr. Chau about some of these differences?

Mr. Vann. I am aware, sir, that two Foreign Service officers did go to Vung Tau at Deputy Ambassador Porter’s request.

Senator Symington. Ambassador Porter, not Ambassador Bunker.

Mr. Vann. When they came back they gave him a report on it. They did not give me the report.

Senator Symington. You don’t know how they felt about it?

Mr. Vann. I gathered from comments made afterward, I never saw their report, that they were sympathetic to Colonel Chau.

Senator Symington. And did you talk with them?

Mr. Vann. I have talked with the two officers involved on a continuing basis for the last 4 years, sir.

Senator Symington. Do you know [deleted].

Mr. Vann. Quite well, sir.

Senator Symington. What did he tell you about this?

Mr. Vann. Sir, we discussed this on numerous occasions, and—

Senator Symington. Pick the occasion that you think is most pertinent to my question.

Mr. Vann. It would be very difficult for me, 4 years past, to remember any exact date. But we remembered that Colonel Chau had some points in his favor. We also agreed that Colonel Chau is a prima donna, that he is a very ambitious man, that he had political objectives in mind in wanting to dominate this program, and that he also was extremely concerned about his own personal image as a possible employee of the CIA. This concerned his personal ideals and standards, and he became more concerned about it than his immediate superior, General Thang.

Senator Symington. What did he say to you that you thought had merit in it?

Mr. Vann. Colonel Chau?

Senator Symington. Yes.

Mr. Vann. I agreed with him that it would be preferable, given the expansion of the program and the rather deep involvement it would have with all phases of Vietnamese life, for it to be under the sponsorship of another agency.


Senator Symington. So even though he was very ambitious, and I say with great respect that I heard the same about you when I was out there, you do agree, and I think both of you were probably right, there could be some improvements in the Agency.

Mr. Vann. Not in the Agency, sir, but it is a fact that the Vietnamese tend to regard anything in connection with the CIA as having some spy thriller type of activity associated with it.

Senator Symington. Do you agree with that?

Mr. Vann. I agree that the Vietnamese feel that way, sir. I do not agree that that is true, because all of mv knowledge of the CIA involvement on the revolutionary cadre development program was that it is overt and aboveboard. {p.330}

Senator Symington. Then the stories I have heard of your being heavily critical of the CIA have no basis in fact.

Mr. Vann. I would not say they have no basis, sir. I was heavily critical of individual members in the CIA, and some of their manners of operation. I was also very complimentary of some of the members, such as Mr [deleted] who I thought did a masterful job when I was out there.

Senator Symington. Where is Mr. [deleted] today, do you know?

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir. He is assigned here in Washington.

Senator Symington. Where is Mr. [deleted]?

Mr. Vann. I do not know, sir.

Senator Symington. Mr. Colby, do you know, sir?

Mr. Colby. No, sir; I do not. I am not sure.

Senator Symington. Do either of them have anything to do with Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. Mr. [deleted] does. Mr. [deleted], I am not sure.

Senator Symington. What does he have to do with it?

Mr. Colby. He is in, he is a staff officer in, CIA headquarters.


Senator Symington. I would ask you this question, Mr. Colby, and I would like the record to show again that I never met anybody who seemed to know more about what he was doing than you. Why do you think it is, with 800,000 Americans, and I count the fleet, people in Thailand, Japan, and the Philippines, why do you think it is when we have that number of people, backed up by this great military-industrial complex, that we have had so little success out there in what we are trying to do?

Mr. Colby. This you asked me to submit a reply for the record, sir. I have written out something and I would be glad to expand on it a little bit.

Senator Symington. Go ahead.

Mr. Colby. My comment was that during the period 1965 to 1968, Communist military strength in Vietnam was at a high level. Its regular troops rested upon active guerrilla forces and a politically organized base. The Communist regular forces were set back by U.S. regular forces.

The Vietnamese Government, with U.S. support, then strengthened its Regional and Popular Forces, the People’s Self-Defense, Phoenix, and police operations, and developed a more actively engaged population.

By 1970 the nature of the war has thus changed. What was formerly a Communist war conducted on three levels became a Government-led people’s war facing an increasingly North Vietnamese military force.

The territorial forces, the police, and the People’s Self-Defense make the enemy military forces much less effective since they preempt the caches, the recruits, and the information.

Under these circumstances the enemy regular military force becomes less difficult to handle than the earlier combined guerrilla and regular enemy forces and infrastructure. {p.331}

A weaker enemy thus faces a GVN which is stronger in the political as well as in the military field. This process has already begun in the delta where smaller total military forces are handling a situation which formerly required the assistance of regular U.S. forces.

Now, that is just a portion of the delta that I am talking about.

Senator Symington. As I understand you say the reason we haven’t been successful out there is because the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong regulars and guerrillas have increased their strength to meet our competition; is that right?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. The answer was, how can the Vietnamese be expected to assume what these 800,000 Americans have done.

Senator Symington. I didn’t ask you that. At this time I asked you why it was, with 800,000 people, backed up by $80 million a day at one point and over $100 billion all told, we have been so unsuccessful in whatever it is we are trying to do out there.

Mr. Colby. I think, Senator, the thing is that, unfortunately, as has happened in previous wars, we have learned about the tactics and technique of this war in the course of fighting it, and that we have had a very bad few years in the course of that.

Senator Symington. You don’t think that if we had unshackled the Army, let them counterattack into Cambodia and North Vietnam and Laos, and if we had let the air operate as it always had before in any wars we have been in, and if we had let the Navy operate on the same basis, we could have cleaned this matter up pretty rapidly?

Mr. Colby. No, sir, I think the nature of this war requires the active engagement of the population, the creation of a population which is really fully involved in the war. I think we have finally learned this lesson and we are beginning to apply this lesson.

Senator Symington. Thus, even though we put these 800,000 people and all this money and equipment into the war, the very fact we went at it the wrong way is the chief reason for lack of success; is that your opinion?

Mr. Colby. I think it had a lot to do with it. It is not the sole reason.


Senator Symington. Nevertheless you feel that because South Vietnamese now know how to do it, with the proper equipment, Vietnamization will increase over the period of the next few years; is that correct?

Mr. Colby. Over a period, yes, Senator. I think that having learned the techniques and having begun to apply them, and with a program which will carry it further it will succeed. A lot of these techniques are in their infancy; the Phoenix program is just beginning to be effective and there are a lot of other problems in the country. But gradually these techniques will become accepted and become implemented. The People’s Self-Defense for instance is still very untrained, [deleted].

Senator Symington. I see. But despite the arsenals in this country. General Westmoreland’s setup, and Admiral Sharp’s setup, and the Air Force, and 800.000 young Americans, the reason they did not win {p.332} was they didn’t know how to fight the war right. They are learning how to fight it right, and after they get out, it will be won by the Vietnamese if we give them the equipment; is that right?

Mr. Colby. Well, a lot of those things were necessary at one period, Senator. The war would have been lost certainly without those young men. There is no question about that. The war would certainly have been lost by 1965 or 1966 unless our troops had entered it.

Senator Case. Mr. Chairman, may I carry a few questions along that line?

Senator Symington. I would like to turn this over to Senator Aiken, if I may, because I have to catch a plane and Senator Fulbright said he would be back here in 10 minutes. I would be very glad to yield to you.

Senator Case. Well, you are so gracious.

Senator Aiken. I have one question.


How many regulars does it take to cope with a guerrilla?

Mr. Colby. If you are just talking about regulars, Senator, it is a very sticky problem because there are over 10,000 hamlets in Vietnam, any one of which can be attacked by a guerrilla. There are two possible ways to protect them. One is to go out and hit the guerrilla with a regular force, if you are lucky enough to find him. The other is to develop self-defense capabilities for all those people, all those hamlets. The only way to find the guerrillas is to do that.

Senator Aiken. I have two definite answers. I asked General Westmoreland how many regulars it took to deal with a guerrilla and he said 10. I asked Admiral Sharp, who was some distance away from the scene, and he said, oh, four or five. It seems the further away you are—

Mr. Colby. I would rather answer the question by saying that a guerrilla can be dealt with not only by regulars but also by guerrillas and also by policemen. But it is not a thing you can handle effectively by only regulars alone.

Senator Aiken. The method of making war even by guerrillas, has changed.

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator Aiken. So that a smaller force can—

Mr. Colby. Can tie up—

Senator Aiken. Can tie up or hold off a much larger force than would have been possible 30, 35 years ago.

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

Senator Aiken. Go ahead, Senator Case.


Senator Case. I take it, along that line, that part of the answer is also that you cannot ever defeat guerrillas unless the population is at least with you.

Mr. Colby. I believe so.

Senator Case. On the other hand, the guerrilla cannot be effective unless the population is sympathetic to him. {p.333}

Mr. Colby. Not necessarily sympathetic, Senator.

Senator Case. Apathetic — is not antiguerrilla.

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Case. You are naturally taking into account now the matter of bringing the population actively on the side of the South Vietnamese regime.

Mr. Colby. Yes.


Senator Case. Again, further along the lines of the questions that Senator Symington was asking. There has been a suggestion that what we did was our thing — the type of warfare, highly mechanized and supported by air and helicopters, and sophisticated equipment, communications and other things. It is argued, therefore, that our effort to Vietnamize the war cannot succeed because we won’t be able to turn this kind of warfare effectively over to the Vietnamese; and yet they have been corrupted in their tactics by seeing us and wanting to copy us and being able to do the thing in the modern 20th century way.

I wish you would talk about this because the question of the success of the Vietnamese themselves in this kind of war seems to me terribly important.

I was going to ask these younger officers, too, their general views about this. Are they going to be able to operate helicopters, communications equipment, artillery, all the mechanisms that we have taught them is necessary?

Mr. Colby. We have a system in the services of starting with the junior member for an answer, Senator.

Senator Case. I wish you would sort of help me and get this information out as you think appropriate.

Mr. Colby. I think your questions are quite apt and I think we ought to start with them, not have them just say their boss is right.

Senator Case. Well, all right.

Senator Aiken. Let us begin at the end of the line.

Mr. Colby. The question, Sergeant, is, do you think the Vietnamese have been corrupted into believing they have to have very fancy equipment that they will not be able to continue to use and maintain and employ that we have spoiled them in a way in giving them this equipment and that consequently the implication of the Senator’s question is we will have to continue to do it.

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir. I don’t feel this way because the PSDF were given M-1’s.

Senator Case. What is that, sir?

Sergeant Wallace. The People’s Self-Defense Force were given M-1’s carbines and Thompson machineguns. These are obsolete weapons that we no longer use yet they are willing to learn and seem to be fighting effectively with these weapons.


Senator Case. There is another side. I mean it isn’t just what they will be willing to use, but what they will be able to use. Will they {p.334} be able to carry on this fight without our providing air support and logistical support, and all the rest?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, I think they can.

Senator Case. Will they do it because they will supply air support or—

Sergeant Wallace. We have used air support very few times in our area.

Senator Case. In your particular experience.

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

Senator Case. That is not the general situation. Would anybody in the whole team talk about this air support? I had always understood air is rather important.

Captain Geck. Throughout the IV Corps, some of the Vietnamese are flying some of the helicopters themselves. I guess right now it is about 10 percent. However, the Vietnamese have quite a few pilots. I would not know the exact number of how many are in Fort Walters training at this time with helicopters. Our plan is to replace our pilots with theirs.

The Vietnamese I have flown with, and I have gone on operations, are very competent. They will fly into the same areas that the American pilots will, and give you the same sort of support.

On the maintenance side, which I was just prompted to mention, I am not exactly sure of what they have as a capability, but there is a training program for their people at a base in IV Corps near Can Tho. Naturally, the people of the Popular and Regional Forces units I work with, have been slightly spoiled by the M-16 rifles they are using now and the heavy air support they now have. They could not do without it.

In any combat situation, once you have this asset, to do without it is a hindrance. However, in my area, they have all had their own artillery. I would say it has been my experience that they have 50 percent or more of their own air support and have been flying helicopters, so that I see there is a good chance for us to pull out in the future.

Senator Case. And you, Captain?

Captain Murphy. I would like to attack this question from the standpoint of comparing what they do have, Senator, to what they don’t have, where I am in Long An Province.

First of all, as you mentioned, they do have modern individual weapons, the M-16 rifle or the M-60 machinegun, the M-79 grenade launcher. They can utilize these weapons effectively against the enemy.

They have modern transportation and communications equipment. They have the same radios and the same vehicles that we have in the U.S. Army. They perform 100 percent their own maintenance.

Senator Case. They do?

Captain Murphy. On the equipment which they have, yes, they do, sir.

Senator Case. All this?

Captain Murphy. There is one platoon or two tubes of Vietnamese artillery operated by the 25th ARVN Division located in each of our seven districts. They have support capabilities throughout that district. {p.335}

Other indirect fire weapons that they have are mortars, the same mortars that we have in the U.S. Army. What they don’t have in Long An Province are helicopter gunships. However, training programs are underway whereby we train helicopter pilots, and eventually they will be able to perform and operate in their own helicopter assault companies and fly the gunship support as well.


Really, Senator, it is not very difficult to be an infantry soldier. It takes commonsense and an aggressive attitude. Certainly, the Vietnamese have all these capabilities. The one thing they do not have, which we have, is a little more endurance. The Vietnamese people, by and large, do not have the endurance capability that the U.S. soldier has.

Senator Case. You mean physical stamina?

Captain Murphy. Physical.

Senator Case. That is interesting.

Captain Murphy. But they do have something we don’t have, Senator, and that is the motivation brought about by the role that they are performing in the defense of their own homes and villages.

Senator Case. Well, you know, I will come back to you, if I may, but you had something you wanted to say about that.


Major Arthur. It has been my observation that the Vietnamese people, as a nation, or as a race, are quite clever mechanically. They are able to take engines apart and put them back together again. You can see a man taking his motorcycle apart and repairing it on any street corner in Saigon or Binh Chanh. They are quite adept and can handle communications very well. That is one of their fortes.

The artillery that I have observed is good, and they provide all the artillery fire support in Binh Chanh.

The counterparts that I have operated with on combat missions are capable of handling air mobile operations. They would be capable of handling and controlling light fire teams, which are two helicopter gunships when we are in contact, if those gunships were flown by Vietnamese. I stand beside the captain or the colonel — whoever happens to be there. He tells me what he wants done in English, as broken as it is. If it is the captain, with the little Vietnamese that I speak and the interpreter we get the point across. I tell the pilots of the helicopters where we want them to hit, and they engage that area.

When the Vietnamese are trained to fly the helicopters, and the Vietnamese commander on the ground can talk to the Vietnamese helicopter pilot in the air in Vietnamese, they will be able to handle their own air support. There is a language problem now.

They can also handle the medical evacuation helicopter if they were talking to a Vietnamese pilot for they know the procedures, et cetera.

We speak of the modern weapons we have given them. Well, the people on the other side are carrying AK-47’s made in Red China or Russia. They are modern weapons also. I feel the South Vietnamese in {p.336} my area have progressed and are capable of assuming their own defense. They provide 100 percent of the maintenance of the equipment in my area, also maintaining the jeeps that I have.

I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions, sir.

Senator Case. Thank you. You have, indeed.


Now, I would like to come back to the point you were making when you were last talking together, because it is what you said that sounds so different from what so many people have said and written: that the one thing that the Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, have not had is motivation or morale or aggressiveness, another one of your words, but rather the reverse of all those attributes, and this was the trouble, that they wouldn’t go out to fight, and they wouldn’t move in to fill gaps that we perhaps have had to leave occasionally. I wish you would develop this a little bit more because this is almost the heart of the point, it seems to me; isn’t it?

Mr. Colby. Yes, it is.

Senator Case. Is you experience unique?

Captain Murphy. I don’t believe it is unique, Senator. It is a question of what causes this motivation or this aggressiveness to evolve. I think it is partially because of the weapons, the equipment that they have now. But more than anything else, sir, I think it is a result of the individual soldier, the individual platoon leader, and the individual company commander seeing the progress that his unit has helped to bring about in the rural hamlets and villages.

That is, I think, one of the greatest factors which has contributed to it.

Senator Case. I am sure it is, and what we are interested in is whether it really happened, or whether it happened in a real area or whatnot.

Captain Murphy. I assure you it has.

Senator Case. I remember when I was over there before, up in I Corps, one of the most important things about these mixed teams that I guess you said, didn’t you, you were involved in one of these mixed patrols, or whatever you called them—

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, combined action platoon.

Senator Case. The boys did all right so long as you were with them. And, seriously, that is a fact. I was not surprised at it or critical. But if you weren’t with them, then what happened to them?


I would like to ask all three of you what has happened when our teams have moved out of a village or a hamlet, or whatnot, and left it to the Vietnamese.

Captain Geck. Sir, if I may make a comment here, this is something I tried to point out in my opening statement, after we moved out of villages (I cited one particular village, and we have worked quite a few) in very few cases do the units seem to return to their old level. {p.337}

In most cases, I think the word is confidence. It has begun to work well. They can see they have the ability and are successful against the enemy. They continue to operate this way. They are no longer afraid of the enemy. He is no longer this giant who used to scare them. Because of Tet, 1968, he is now a real individual they have met and defeated. Also, something I have seen on the village level in both the civilian and the military side is a confidence in, if not a stable Government, at least a stable system developing in Vietnam, something they can count on for the future.

On the civilian side, you can see it in rural areas not very far, perhaps 5 kilometers from a large Vietcong base area. They are putting up a large building. People are contributing quite an investment to the villages they live in. The Vietnamese are sensible in the usage of their money as we are. They are not going to waste millions of piasters in some cases or take a chance that these buildings that they are erecting will be destroyed in the near future.

They have confidence that the village will continue to grow. I think this is the whole trick both in the military and inside the Government.


Major Arthur. I wanted to bring up a point about their motivation, because I am talking about the Regional Forces and Popular Forces as opposed to the ARVN. I am at the Province level. I have 17 Regional Force companies and 25 Popular Force platoons in the district.

The motivation of our troops is up over previous reports that you might have heard. Primarily these are home troops. The Popular Forces are working in the district they were recruited in, and the Regional Forces are working in the Province they were recruited in. This, to me, is part of the drive to get good Regional Forces and Popular Forces and upgrade them to handle the territorial security and protect their homes in this area.

This is where the motivation comes in.


Senator Case. You will forgive us if we are skeptical about these things because we have had this kind of a report 5, 6, 7 years.

Major Arthur. Yes, sir, I understand.

Senator Case. People like you have not wanted to be offensive to your counterparts or make a bad record of your own accomplishments, so you come up only with the good side, and I am not saying that any of you are doing this now. What I am saying is that you have to be understanding with us when we have had to listen to this kind of thing from McNamara. We have McNamara coming back and saying the boys are going to be out of the trenches by Christmas, you will remember, 5 or 6 years ago, and not only that, but right down the line.

Major Arthur. Sir, I didn’t say it was 100 percent either. There is an improvement, and there is room for improvement still. {p.338}



Senator Case. What we are trying to get at is, must this still be looked at as an endless thing, or is there an end in sight and is it reasonable?

Major Arthur. Yes, sir, I think it is reasonable to assume that with things going the way they are going now, there is an end in sight. I cannot really put a timetable on it. It is beyond my capability.


Sergeant Wallace. Senator, I would like to mention that the primary purpose of the CAP program is to move into that hamlet, provide security for the people. The hamlets are being trained and protected by the CAP’s. There are 450 hamlets which presently are protected by CAP teams; there are 350 hamlets in which the CAP’s operated previously. In all there are 800 hamlets which have been provided security by the CAP program.

One hundred and fourteen platoons are now being trained by the CAP’s; 90 platoons were previously trained by CAP’s. This is a total of 204 platoons in 204 hamlets. Not one of these hamlets where the 90 platoons which we trained are located has been turned over to the Vietcong nor have the Vietcong been able to move in and take over the hamlets.

The Chairman. Is that one district or everywhere?

Sergeant Wallace. This is the entire CAP program.

Mr. Vann. Senator Case, could I add just one thing?

Senator Case. Yes.


Mr. Vann. We are very much aware of the skepticism and feel that there certainly has been adequate justification for it. And yet there are some others who have looked at it over the long haul and are in a position to compare realistically what existed today and what existed a year ago, or 3 or 5 years ago.

These officers have been talking about RF and PF, the Regional Forces, and Popular Forces.

We always are aware of the fact that no statistic in time of war is accurate. To some extent they are all spurious. But let us look at the very broad picture of how Regional Forces and Popular Forces performed in the past and how they are performing now. In 1966 the Regional Forces and Popular Forces, numbering less than 300,000, lost as many men and as many weapons as they killed and as they captured.

In 1969, the Regional Forces and Popular Forces killed three times as many enemy as they suffered losses themselves, and more than four times as many weapons were captured as they lost. This involved 475,000 Regional Forces and Popular Forces.

Now, sir, there are many other measures of effectiveness. Nevertheless, this is one that in the final analysis means how people are performing in combat. There is a very substantial improvement. It is attributable to many, many things, not the least of which is certainly a much less hostile environment as far as the population is concerned than they previously had. {p.339}

Senator Case. Thank you, sir.

Mr. Ambassador, do you have anything you want to contribute?


Mr. Colby. On this point, Senator, I refer back to my opening statement where I rather carefully say that we are not optimistic nor pessimistic about this situation, but I do believe that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved.

I can think of setbacks which will occur and I can think of situations which could arise which could reverse the current trends.

I think it is important, after the experience that you referred to of the disappointments of the past, that we be very serious about this. It also depends in great part upon the determination of the Vietnamese and of the Americans who are there — the determination to continue this program of increasingly developing the ability of the Vietnamese to carry this load themselves.

Therefore, we are trying not to exude optimism in our report to you here. I speak for myself certainly and I am sure for the other officers here. But we are also convinced that this is not a thing that the American people can feel is just sort of a hopeless thing that goes on forever. It is one that can be achieved.

I think you make a very valid point, can the Vietnamese expect to carry on the same standard of effort that they have with our rather fancy equipment. The answer is “No.” But I also think that the Vietnamese are developing the ability to fight this kind of a war that we are faced with now with greater effectiveness, that this can make a substantial difference in the balance between them, and that consequently an outcome which gives them a free choice for the future can be achieved.

Senator Case. Thank you, sir, very much.

Captain, may I just ask you a couple of questions.


You said in your statement that you went with the Popular Forces on their operations, gave them advice where it was necessary, and provided liaison with supporting units. Those were your words. You are referring to U.S. support units there, are you not?

Captain Geck. Yes, Senator. I am referring basically to helicopter gunships in that case.

Senator Case. That is the chief kind of support?

Captain Geck. Yes, Senator, it is.

Senator Case. Do the Popular Forces continue to conduct light operations after our advisory teams have moved on to other villages?

Captain Geck. Yes, Senator, very much so. In fact, those particular Popular Forces that I am speaking of in that paragraph, have been increased. Their numbers have been increased since I left. Their operations now go further out than they ever went before, further than they ever went with us. I think in some cases they were afraid to take us out to some places, because they were afraid one of us would he hurt.

Senator Case. You obviously believe what you are saying. {p.340}

Captain Geck. Yes, sir, Senator. I am very impressed with the people I am working with.

Senator Case. I don’t mean anything else except you have around this table for the most part people who want to be persuaded, but also people who have been disappointed so many times.

Captain Geck. Senator, I think, as the Ambassador said, I am probably optimistic. But, at the same time, I can see there might be setbacks. However, in the cases I have worked with, these people have learned quickly and responded well, and continued to do so after we left.


Mr. Vann. I might say, sir, Captain Geck is working in a province that has an unusually good province chief and one in which the amount of progress made in the last year surpasses that of nearly any other place I know of in Vietnam. So his assessment would naturally be more positive than, say, someone working in Kien Hoa Province.

Kien Hoa Province, incidentally, is about the worst province in our delta, and is the one that Mr. Robert Shaplen picked to write about in his article.

Senator Case. I figure it is not going to come up spontaneously from the Defense Department or Department of State, and he had better do that job. But I am glad to have that comment; it is important.


Sergeant, how are the CAP squad leaders chosen?

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, once we report to staging, they will issue orders to Vietnam, and I was assigned from the States to the CAP program. We are screened by a board and issued orders.


Senator Case. What special training do they get?

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, all CAP marines go to 2 weeks of school in Danang.

Senator Case. Danang?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir.

Senator Case. What about the marines under your command, what do they get?

Sergeant Wallace. The same schooling.

Senator Case. The same kind?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes.

Senator Case. Senator, wouldn’t you like to ask a question or two? I might want to come back before we get through, but please go ahead.

Senator Pell. Thank you.

I have a few questions, which I will direct to Ambassador Colby.


In connection with the Phoenix program, how do you identify the people whom you feel are active in the infrastructure? Perhaps Colonel Vann would want to answer that? {p.341}

Mr. Colby. I can start off. This an intelligence problem initially. You develop card records on people in the area.

You know that the infrastructure in a certain province, in a certain district, probably has a certain structure. It has a chairman; it has a security man; it has a finance economy man; it has a liaison, and so forth. It has different bodies. So you know there is somebody taking care of those problems on the infrastructure side.

Then, through interrogation of ralliers — people who come over from the other side — through interrogations of prisoners, through some informants, through reports of neighbors and people of that nature, you gradually build up a picture of who these people are.

Now, initially a number of these reports may be just a single alias, a report that a certain job is filled by a man named Thanh or who calls himself Thanh. Then through the gathering of additional information, you find out that this man’s name is really Nuygen Van Thanh or something, and that he was born in a certain section and place.

Senator Pell. Do any Vietnamese citizens have access to these card filing systems?

Mr. Colby. This is a Vietnamese card system, not American. The American helps the Vietnamese to set it up. The Vietnamese handle it.

Senator Pell. Is it a Vietnamese source for most of the intelligence going into it?

Mr. Colby. Yes.


Senator Pell. The statement has been made, which has concerned me, that one of the purposes of the Phoenix program or one of the results of it certainly is the elimination of the hard core of those who oppose the Thieu-Ky regime.

What is your reaction to that statement or allegation?

Mr. Colby. I think if you can go to the different areas where this program is in process you can see that the real thrust of it is to identify members of the Vietcong. That is what the problem is in a local area. These are the people who are the problem — with grenades and with contacts with the guerrillas, and so forth.

So that from the national level down to the bottom level, the whole thing is aimed at the Vietcong infrastructure and the Vietcong apparatus and terrorism.

It is possible, occasionally, that the wrong information on a man is reported, such as that he is in the infrastructure or that he holds a certain office in the Vietcong apparatus. Second, there may be a shakedown kind of thing: “I will report you unless you pay me.” And, of course, you can go and say that a political jealousy in a local area could produce a wrongful report.

This is certainly possible, and I think that the National Assembly, in calling the Government to an interrogation on this, about 3 or 4 months ago, was conscious of this problem. They are following it. They are concerned about it.

I certainly would not say it has never happened, but I think the thrust of the program, the command emphasis given to it, the inspections, and the general emphasis is pretty clearly that these are members of the enemy apparatus. This is not just a little political discussion. {p.342}

Unfortunately, the word “political” sometimes is difficult to translate. We call the Vietcong a political apparatus and that sounds like a political party over here.


Senator Pell. Are the people in the Phoenix program entirely Vietnamese or are they mixed Vietnamese and Americans?

Mr. Colby. The Vietnamese. The Phoenix program is basically a Vietnamese program. There are American advisers in it. This is a Vietnamese structure which has information centers and operation centers at the district, province, and national level. These are all Vietnamese officials.

They will have an American sitting in the office with them.


Senator Pell. What is the relationship between our own intelligence organization, G-2, and the Phoenix program?

Mr. Colby. They are not technically a part of it. The Phoenix program is a Vietnamese program. In other words, if there is an American unit in the neighborhood, a brigade or something, our G-2 of that brigade would not be a member of the local Phoenix committee. He would have liaison, but he would not be a member.

Senator Pell. I don’t mean to take so much of your time, but I must be phrasing my questions poorly.

Does any member of G-2 ever feed in information to the Phoenix program — to the Vietnamese?

Mr. Colby. Yes.

Senator Pell. And vice versa?

Mr. Colby. We have access to most of the Vietnamese intelligence — I believe all of it — on this question.


Senator Pell. How many Americans are involved in the Phoenix program?

Mr. Colby. 450 Americans, almost all military being direct advisers.

There are many other Americans who are associated with the organizations that work with the Phoenix: in the Phoenix program, the police, the military, and so forth.


Senator Pell. How many Vietnamese, roughly, to the nearest thousand, are involved?

Mr. Colby. It is a hard question; it includes the Vietnamese special branch, the entire thing. The ordinary police participate in it on a part-time basis.

Senator Pell. How many have it as their main responsibility?

Mr. Colby. There would be roughly between 4,000 or 5,000 working directly on it. But. as I say, there are literally tens of thousands more who spend part time on it. {p.343}


Senator Pell. This question I would direct more to Colonel Vann, if I might. I must say I have heard the most complimentary things about you, Ambassador Colby, and you, Colonel Vann, with respect to what you have done and the way you do it in Vietnam.

You said that part of the purpose or the purpose of the Phoenix program was to go to the nerve center. Don’t we still believe the nerve center to be in Hanoi or do we believe the nerve center to be in South Vietnam?

Mr. Vann. Sir, the organization that we are focusing this program against is the South Vietnamese political infrastructure that supports COSVN, the Central Office of South Vietnam. That would be the regional political structure, provincial political structure, district and village, and even down to hamlet.

The lower the level, the more indistinct it becomes, so that at the hamlet level the Vietcong hamlet chief may also be the leader of the local Vietcong squad.

The higher the level the more sophisticated the organization becomes. You will have a separate man to do liaison, another to do tax and finance and economy, another to do women’s organizations, et cetera. It also ties in directly at all levels with the military units that they command. In other words, an infrastructure chief at any level has at his beck and call a supporting unit; at the hamlet level it is a squad, at the village level it is a platoon, and at the district level it is usually a company.

Senator Pell. I would like to go up a little higher still. Isn’t the nerve center for this operation in North Vietnam? Presumably the reason for our commitment in Vietnam is that the nerve center is in North Vietnam. If what you are saying is correct, we shouldn’t have a single American soldier there.

Mr. Vann. COSVN, in turn, operates directly under Hanoi, sir.

Mr. Colby. Excuse me, I think if I may, Senator, the Lao Dong Party, the central committee of the Lao Dong Party, is the nerve center.

Senator Pell. For South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. For the Communist effort of all Vietnamese. There is a separate party called the People’s Revolutionary Party, which is the southern branch of the Lao Dong Party. It has a central committee and a whole structure.

As you go down, I think we really mean the nervous system rather than nerve center. The party and its apparatus is the nervous system of the enemy force. It calls upon the muscles of the guerrillas and the main forces and all the rest. But it is the nervous system that runs this.

As you correctly say, the head of it is in Hanoi, but the nervous system goes throughout the country through this apparatus. We are engaged in cutting off the apparatus at various places so that the force which is conducting this war is unable to operate. {p.344}


Senator Pell. When a man gets sufficiently high up, one is pretty sure he won’t rally spontaneously and he has such a security setup that he will not be able to be taken prisoner. Then will not an effort be made to assassinate him?

Mr. Colby. Not to assassinate him in that sense. If you had clear knowledge that the province committee is at a certain place, you might well organize a very large operation of several companies or battalions to go in and clean that area out.

Senator Pell. We don’t have the same situation we have with the Mafia in any part of this country where the poor soldiers, like the numbers people, get taken in all the time, but not the fellows at the top of the family. What do they call the family leaders, the dons?

Mr. Colby. The Capo.

Senator Pell. No, the Capo are soldiers. We know who the top people are in this regard, but we do not go after them.

Mr. Colby. No, we go after anybody that we can get. But most of the higher leadership is either in Cambodia or in a fairly secure base area way out in the jungles.

Mr. Vann. Could I add one other thing to my answer?

Senator Pell. Yes.

Mr. Vann. I am not aware of any successful or even any attempted assassination of such a leader of the type that you talk about. In my time in Vietnam I am not aware of our ever having done that, ever trying it, or ever having been successful.

Senator Pell. I think, as a general rule of international relations, there is a policy of no government-supported assassinations. Otherwise many more of our chiefs of state and heads of government would be assassinated, which is not the case. It is not done.

Mr. Colby. It is just not very feasible, either, in this kind of a case.

Senator Pell. Certainly around the world it would be done much more frequently than it is. There is in your former agency, as you know, a general agreement that you don’t do it. You don’t assassinate chiefs of government as a result of government action. It never happens in history. Do you know of an exception, Mr. Chairman?

The Chairman. I do not know.

Senator Pell. It is a fact because then it opens up the other way.


Going back to the rights of individuals, and this is what has bothered me particularly in Vietnam, what happens to prisoners when they are taken? Do we turn them over to the South Vietnamese and then they are rather cruelly interrogated, which we accept? Is there any way this practice can be discouraged more, or not?

Mr. Colby. Those people taken with arms in their hands are handled as prisoners of war whether they are From North Vietnam or from South Vietnam.

If the United States captures them, we turn them over to the Vietnamese to be handled. We have advisers with the prison system, with the POW system, and so forth. {p.345}

I referred to our directive about the Phoenix thing. If anything happens that does not fit the rules of war, our people are supposed to object.

The major was telling about a case in his district where he made a point of this. He objected strenuously, and it has not happened since. This was in the record a little while ago.

In our instructions, in our training of the Vietnamese, we emphasized good systems of interrogation. Now, occasionally, people do get a little loose, I am sure, but our thrust is in this direction, and I think the Vietnamese are increasingly accepting that this is what we expect about how to behave.

Now, I would add that the International Red Cross Committee does inspect the Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camps. It regularly looks them over and checks on them.

Senator Pell. The problem, as you know, is the same in Greece. It is not when you get to prison, but the process when you are taken and if you are lucky enough to be sent to jail. This is the question.

Mr. Vann. Let me add there, sir, that an American unit which captures a Vietnamese prisoner cannot just turn him over to any Vietnamese. They can only turn him over to that level of the Government of Vietnam that has an official detention center. That is usually the province level.

Senator Pell. I see. Thank you.


I would be interested in the assessment of any of you. I don’t think you covered it quite in the way I wanted it. How do you account for the better motivation of the North Vietnamese, in general, as a country, as opposed to that of South Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. Some of the Vietnamese discuss this in some degree. They wonder why it is that the North Vietnamese ethnic minority within South Vietnam has so many of the important jobs.

There is a certain characteristic energy and toughness, and so forth. The southerner spilled out onto that rich delta a few generations ago. He is less organized in the sense that the northerner has been living in tight little village communities, and has developed a rather strong discipline and self discipline.

These, like most ethnic differences, are not 100 percent by any means. But there is a difference in the characteristics of a North Vietnamese and a South Vietnamese.

Senator Pell. More vital.

Mr. Colby. More discipline, more drive in most cases; not always by any means.

Senator Pell. Like Italy.

Mr. Colby. This creates a certain amount of trouble in the political scene in Saigon.

Senator Case. You know — off the record.

(Whereupon, there was a short discussion off the record.) {p.346}


Senator Pell. Is there any inhibition on the use of black Americans in the Phoenix operation? Do the black American soldiers offer any problems in dealing with the Vietnamese? I noticed the people the Department sends up here are always all white. What is the reason for that?

Mr. Colby. We have one province senior adviser who is black, a U.S. colonel. We have a deputy province senior adviser who is a black U.S. colonel. In your province, Captain Murphy, you have a black district senior adviser.

Captain Murphy. Yes.

Senator Pell. How about in uniform? Do any of you have a black commanding officer?

Major Arthur. Yes, sir, a full colonel. He is a deputy senior adviser.

Mr. Colby. He was the one I was referring to.

Major Arthur. The senior adviser is a FSO-1, and the deputy is a full colonel.


Senator Pell. We hear reports about friction between black and white. How true is that?

Major Arthur. I cannot say on that level. I have three black noncommissioned officers on my team. We have no problem on our level There are 14 of us.

Sergeant Wallace. No problems at all.

Captain Geck. None in my team. I have heard of very little friction.

Senator Pell. How about you, Captain?

Captain Murphy. I was a commander of a U.S. unit, and I am now in an advisory capacity. In neither capacity, while I was the commander of that unit, or now, have I witnessed or heard of any trouble of this nature. I just cannot think of a single incident.

Senator Pell. Either the press reports must have dealt with other parts of the country or they were ill-advised.

Thank you. Those are all the questions.

Mr. Mills. I would just like to mention that we have had one incident of racial unrest on our team. It was on a MAT team. There were a couple of black fellows, and one white southerner who did not get along. I feel that this was a matter of the leadership of the MAT team. We transferred the officer who was a weak leader away from there. Even though the two Negroes and the white who were involved in this difficulty were kept at the same post, with a stronger leader in charge there was no longer at least overt hostility.

They did their jobs together. They did not go out socially after work was over. I think this is, perhaps, fairly typical of the situation in other parts of the country. Where you have good leadership which does not tolerate antagonism based on anything other than non-cooperntion or things of that nature, you do not have racial problems.

Senator Pell. Thank you. Mr. Chairman. {p.347}


The Chairman. Mr. Ambassador, are you familiar with an article about this subject by Georgie Anne Geyer in the February 1970 True magazine? Do you know any such writer?

Senator Case. What magazine is that?

The Chairman. True magazine, T-r-u-e. Are you familiar with her?

Mr. Colby. She is a reporter, I believe, in Vietnam.

The Chairman. I thought perhaps you had met her. She apparently was in Vietnam.

Mr. Colby. I might have met her, Mr. Chairman. I don’t recall it.

The Chairman. She reports it as her own experiences in Vietnam, and I think, for whatever it is worth, the article should be put in the record.


(The article referred to follows:)


(True Magazine, February, 1970)


(By Georgie Anne Geyer)

As the war becomes more political and less military, targets shift from the enemy’s army to its civilian leadership. To get the job done, the U.S. has trained an elite corps of assassins to eliminate the Viet Cong’s “shadow government.”

It was 3 o’clock one hot, dark Sunday morning in a small delta town near the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. The tough, powerfully-built American we’ll call “Bill” — a paramilitary or guerrilla fighter for the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent precious little of his career worrying about the “moral implications” of his work — paced back and forth in the dingy front room of his house. His job, like that of many Americans in South Viet Nam, was terror. And for the first time in his life, this mission was bothering him. If he hadn’t had eight or 10 or maybe 15 drinks, perhaps he wouldn’t have talked to me about it. But he had, and he did. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years all over the world,” Bill said, sitting down and hunching over his beer. He was very intense as he reeled off the places: Egypt when Nasser was coming to power, the Congo when we were trying to get rid of Tshombe — Bill’s life story was a history of just about every place the United States had intervened or tried covertly to intervene in the past two decades. “I did it believing in it,” he went on. Then he shook his head in perplexity. “But for the first time, I feel I really don’t understand a situation,” he said. “When people ask me, all I can say is * * * ‘I don’t know * * * I don’t know * * * ‘ Hah!” He pointed at me. “If you write a story and say you don’t know and * * * “ His voice trailed off. There remained only the sinister silence of the tiny delta town. “The dedication of these people is fantastic,” he spoke up again. “The dedication and the motivation. I wish I could understand it. You capture them and put a pistol to their heads, and they say, ‘Kill me.’ They’re so little. * * * “ Bill had shoulders like a football player — it was easy to picture the absurdity, even the vulgarity, of his enormity next to the tiny-boned, miniature, frail Vietnamese.

“You take their necks in your hands * * * you can destroy them so easily. But you can’t just keep killing them. You can’t ever kill them all. * * *

Today a lot of Americans like Bill are beginning to have misgiving, as the Viet Cong hangs doggedly on, about the increasing ruthlessness and cold-bloodedness in this already most sanguinary of wars. Many are also beginning to wonder whether such methods really “work” — or whether we don’t destroy more than we build in the process.

A few months ago, the mysterious arrest of eight Green Beret officers for the slaying of an alleged North Vietnamese double agent spotlighted some of the “dark side of the moon” activities in which Americans are involved. Inside sources reported at the time that Gen. Creighton Abrams, commander of American forces and a man of recognized integrity, was so personally enraged by many of the “black intelligence” goings-on conducted by irregular outfits like the Green Berets and the CIA that he personally ordered the arrests as a once-and-for-all example. {p.348}

“The Special Forces,” he reportedly told subordinates, “are going to have to show a higher regard for human life.”

The CIA was careful to divorce itself from the Berets case, but many other equally brutal operations in which the Agency and other Americans are involved are likewise coming into question. The recently disclosed massacre at Song My, and the subsequent investigations, only served to underscore the point.

With the peace talks in Paris, the deemphasis of the military role in Viet Nam, and the impending U.S. pullout, the political side of the war has been stepped up. The struggle today is to control the peace — to be on top when the ceasefire finally comes and the half-million Americans go home. The name of the game on both sides is to get your people into places of power, to win the allegiance of the countyside and its rice-roots leadership for the future, and, conversely, to get the enemy’s people out of corresponding positions.

The U.S. and the South Vietnamese are using various methods of doing this. Among them are persuasion and propaganda, promises of political and economic reform, goodwill missions and * * * the use of sheer animal terror.

At the heart of the latter phase of the campaign are Bill’s troops, the little-known Provincial Reconnaissance Units or PRU’s (pronounced Prews). A regionally-based, American-led, CIA-financed paramilitary force of 5,000 Vietnamese, they were originally conceived of as a counterguerrilla organization borrowing from Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s principles of living and operating among the peasantry as the fish do in the sea.

They operated out of regional safe-houses or, even, Viet Cong-like, masqueraded as peasants by day and fought as guerrillas at night. In the beginning, they practiced all the arts of guerrilla warfare — the ambush, the night raid, the kidnapping or the knifing in the night — and they also engaged in stand-up battles in which they rapidly established themselves as tigerish fighters in an army where most units resemble Snoopies looking banefully over the garden fence at the cat next door.

But of late the PRU emphasis has been on just one role of the guerrilla: to murder, kidnap, terrorize or otherwise forcibly eliminate the civilian leadership of the other side. Trained and directed by their American advisors, the PRU’s have set out to target and destroy what has come to be known popularly as the “VCI” — the Viet Cong “infrastructure.” These are the “shadow people” of the VC, the complex of political cadres, tax collectors, party members, couriers and others who do the base work which keeps the guerrillas and the main force units going. They also serve as the de facto government in VC-held territory, and the idea is to get as many of them out of the way as possible before a ceasefire turns control of the country back to the Vietnamese.

Thus in one village, a VC tax collector will be assassinated in his bed in the night. In another, “wanted” posters will be put up for a VC leader, offering a reward to try to persuade his friends to turn him in. The PRU’s may also drop down from helicopters and terrorize whole villages, in the hope that they will be frightened to deal with the VC in the future. Or they may bribe VC office holders to change sides, or kidnap (technically, the word is arrest) those who prove unbribeable.

In 1968, according to Saigon government figures, approximately 15,400 of the estimated 80,000 members of the infrastructure were “eliminated.” Of these, 11,000 were captured, 2,220 killed and the rest rallied to the Saigon side.

In Go Cong province in 1968, the PRU’s captured the very highest VC official — the province chief. Acting on intelligence that he was hiding in a certain village, they crept out on a small midnight raid and kidnapped him from his bed. But not all “captures” are so deliberate. In Kien Giang province, on a massive raid on a village, one PRU suddenly noticed a Viet Cong trying to run away. The PRU tackled the man and the two wrestled wildly for a few minutes until the PRU stabbed and killed his opponent. The PRU’s discovered only then that the dead man had been the North Vietnamese lieutenant in charge of all the movement of materiel into the delta for the 1968 Tet offensive — the battle which changed the course of the war.

In Rach Gia, the South Vietnamese colonel complained to the PRU advisors about mines on the road: so the PRU’s laid an ambush that killed 40 VC who had been laying the mines at night. In another village, a South Vietnamese woman was sent with a 300 piastre (about $3) bribe to give to a VC guard to visit her husband in a VC prison in Vinh Binh. Her husband passed her a message for the PRU’s outlining the entire prison layout. The next morning the PRU’s hit the prison, liberating 28 shackled South Vietnamese. {p.349}

The PRU types are not sentimental when one of their own turns double agent. When one group made such a discovery, it set up a field tribunal, condemned the man to death, and beheaded him. Both the head and the body were politely returned to the man’s family for burial.

Indeed, the PRU’s are excellent torturers and employ beatings, electric wires in the ears, water suffocation, and anything else that seems effective, constantly and regularly. “Sometimes we have to kill one suspect to get another to talk,” one American advisor says cooly. Another American advisor told me — and I have no reason not to believe him — that he ate supper with his PRU’s on the hearts and livers of their slain enemies.

The mission and the operation of the PRU’s, of course, is still extremely hush-hush. Most correspondents know of their existence, but few have obtained any verifiable details. U.S. high officialdom in Saigon talks about them only on rare, private occasions, and Washington doesn’t acknowledge their mission at all. Even the Berets case didn’t totally bring out the PRU’s role.

During a recent tour of duty in Viet Nam, I asked, without much hope of approval, to be allowed to go on a PRU mission. To my surprise, permission was granted. It was not to be an assassination or kidnapping — no correspondent would ever be permitted to witness that — but a sudden-strike mission on a VC-held village. It seemed that the Americans wanted to show off a South Vietnamese unit that was zealous, effective and full of fight, particularly at a time when the regular Vietnamese army, the ARVN, was under severe criticism.

The American CIA chief with whom I dealt had trained guerrillas elsewhere in Asia during World War II. Intelligent, handsome, a professional in irregular warfare, he was proud as punch of his PRU’s. Like many similar experts, he believed that had the war been fought more on the counterguerrilla level in the beginning, it would not have turned into such a mess. “Now we’re fighting this war the way it always should have been fought,” he told me once.

We started our mission by flying down to Rach Gia, a picturesque little fishing village on the South China Sea where the boats are gaily painted with the all-seeing Vietnamese eyes that actually see so little. Its airport was a deserted road cut in half by an operating road, so that when a plane came in, traffic stopped in both directions. This morning, 160 PRU’s — tough-looking, wiry, cocky, incredibly eager — arrived early in trucks. While they were waiting, they sat on the runway and — just for kicks — ducked to miss the wings as the planes roared in.

One boy of 22, with a buoyancy I had never seen among the regular South Vietnamese troops, advanced the single most flabbergasting proposal I ever heard in Viet Nam. “In the ARVN, you don’t get a chance to do anything,” he said, “and I want to fight. Here, there’s opportunity. Yesterday there wasn’t room for me in the chopper, and I was sad to be left behind. I like to go on American missions because the VC like to kill Americans and then we get them. I like the Americans because they don’t just advise you, they fight with you.” Then he got his spectacular idea. “If there is a war in the United States, I would like to come and fight with you,” he added.

The two American “advisors” (really the leaders) of the PRU’s were friendly and obviously competent. Twenty-nine-year-old Stanley Rodimon, of Huntsville, Alabama, had studied economics at the University of Alabama. Small, dark-haired, good-looking, he was proud of his job. “We’re just taking their guerrilla tactics and turning them around and using them on them.” he said. “I’ve had no trouble adjusting. This is just a job now. I’ll either stay in the service or go back to work in the bank.” Franklin Flynn, 36, of Imperial Beach, California, had been detached from the Navy Seals to serve with the PRU’s. Blond, husky, with a wry sense of humor, Frank also looked upon it as a job and was proud of the work he was doing.

The object of our whirling onslaught by helicopter was the small village of Ba The, a group of houses strung out on both sides of one of the arrow-straight, French-built canals that gridiron the Mekong Delta. The PRU advisors had special intelligence that several ranking VCI had been hiding in the village. The intelligence was carefully guarded. Only the advisors and the top Vietnamese PRU leader knew where we were going. As we swirled down to it, the town’s VC sympathies became obvious. A large white sign hung across the canal reading: “Be sure and listen to what Uncle says. Rise up and kill the Americans.” This was the same Uncle Ho Chi Minn who had also said. “I am not concerned with the military successes of the government of South Viet Nam. I would only become concerned when they and the U.S. began to destroy the VC political infrastructure.” {p.350}

Our choppers landed like a sinister flock of black crows coming to roost in the swaying green rice fields, and the men jumped out swiftly into the waist-deep water. Almost immediately, a small bare-shouldered man rose out of the paddy and pointed his gun at Rodimon. Rodimon killed him on the spot, and the body slipped back beneath the unbiquitous water of the delta. “I was happy when I got him,” Rodimon exulted later.

Systematically the PRU’s swept into and through the village — house by house, bunker by bunker. From the air, the town had looked as empty of human life as an Arizona ghost town, but one by one the PRU’s nudged out young Vietnamese, their wet, brown shoulders glistening in the sun.

Among those “killed or captured” — it was significant that the two were lumped together — were the VCI they had sought. In all they had killed eight and captured 26 — in their terms, a successful day.

That evening, as we sat in one of the advisors’ houses drinking beer, the two men kept stressing, perhaps because such bloody methods were being questioned on many levels, how careful they were in their work. “The men are very selective,” Rodimon insisted. “They never hurt villagers. I personally checked the pagoda in the town before we went. We’re very careful of religious things. We have a fund to give money to people picked up by mistake. But the men never feel bad about killing a VC.”

Were they certain that all the men they “got” were really VCI? Absolutely, they said, the intelligence was that good.

Only at one point did Frank Flynn waver, reminding me a little of Bill’s misgivings. “Sometimes,” he said, very late in the evening, “I wonder. Are we really doing anything for the people? Or is it just for ourselves?”

There are many more — both Americans and Vietnamese — who question and question deeply the use of deliberate counterterror and assassination on “our side.” There are Americans who question not only its morality and effectiveness, but also what it does to the Americans involved when they see brutality and torture institutionalized in their military system. As one senior American officer in Viet Nam put it, “There are no circumstances — none whatsoever — in which murder is legal in the U.S. Army.”

On one occasion, an American talked to me about the policy of shipping captured VCI to the remote Con Son island prison for the duration of the war. He shook his head. “I ask myself,” he said, “is that any different from the Gestapo?” Another said, “We use the word ‘neutralize’ which is a horrible word. It means kill or capture.” Then he thought some more. “But on the other hand, if we’re going to fight this war, we should be effective. We have to fight it their way.”

That was exactly how the PRU’s originated and the whole counterterror philosophy got started — through the idea of “fighting it their way.” In the absence of an American or South Vietnamese ideology, it was said in the early days, why not borrow the most workable tenets of the enemy’s? “After all, they stole the atomic bomb secrets and all from us,” a young American named Frank Scotton said one day. “Why should we be squeamish about stealing people’s warfare from them? It works better than anything we’ve come up with to match it, so why not give it a try?”

Thus Scotton and a few other Americans, who were both USIS and CIA-related, started a counterguerrilla movement in northern Quang Ngai province. Their emulation of the Viet Cong went to such lengths that they even had “our Vietnamese” learning the four general rules of Mao Tse-tung (“respect the people, help the people, protect the people, follow orders).

Terror and assassination were included in their bag of tricks. At one point, USIS printed 50,000 leaflets showing sinister black eyes. These were left on bodies after assassinations or even — “our terrorists” are playful — nailed to doors to make people think they were marked for future efforts.

Even the American mandarinate’s formidable representative to Saigon in the early days, Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, once acknowledged our newfound toy with the words: “There is a brand-new type of fighting man — the terrorist, who is just as distinct as the infantryman or the aviator, and he fights in a war with no front, no rear and no flanks in which his ‘base’ is right among the people.”

The counterguerrilla idea quickly found supporters in all quarters. The Green Berets, for instance, built their own private army of 40,000 mercenaries. Scotton’s movement evolved into something called the CT’s or Counter-Terrorists. Finally, {p.351} the PRU’s emerged in 1966. But whereas Scotton’s original counterguerrillas were both assassins in the night and goodwill organizers of the people, the PRU’s were almost exclusively assassins in the night. The ideological mission was taken over by the Revolutionary Development and later the Phoenix program.

From the beginning, it was no secret that the CIA sponsored, trained, paid and led the PRU’s. Or that they represented the specifically political CIA approach, as opposed to the military approach. From the beginning, the CIA had seen the war more in political terms than did the generals. And the CIA certainly turned out to be more right than wrong.

But “our terror” was different from “their terror.” To the Viet Cong, terror was an indispensable weapon in the political and military war. They both pinpointed village chiefs, killing them brutally and precisely, and they used indiscriminate terror, throwing bombs into marketplaces and killing the innocent.

Terror on “our side,” on the other hand, was largely selective. Victims were carefully targeted, generally by the CIA in concert with South Vietnamese intelligence. The major difference was there was no real political organization — no political ideology — behind our terror. Their boys did it for faith; our boys did it for money.

From the beginning, the PRU’s were the best killers in Viet Nam. When other Vietnamese troops balked at going up Supersitition Mountain near the Cambodian border, which they believed to be cursed and where the VC had been dug in for years, it was the PRU’s who climbed down into the sinuous caves.

Everywhere they fought like tigers. An estimated 30 percent were former VC who had learned well how to fight and how to hate. Often they had become ferociously embittered because a father or a brother or a relative was killed by the VC.

“That man used to be a VC,” one American officer said one day, pointing to a PRU. “But they killed his family. He lit out for the bush. Spent two years out there alone, conducting a private vendetta against Charlie. God knows how many VC he killed. Finally he came in and joined up with the PRU’s. He wants to kill more VC.”

This fighting spirit is encouraged at the camp at Vung Tau on the coast where the PRU’s are trained by CIA instructors in an intensive four-week course in clandestine warfare. They learn how to slit throats in the dark, how to make the silent capture, but get no political indoctrination. The training leads to a strong sense of comradeship, and the PRU’s are ferocious about protecting their American advisors. (In Kien Giang province, they worried about one 300-pound adviser whom they would not be able to carry out if wounded.)

Their American leaders are CIA paramilitary, Navy Seals, Special Forces — anybody the CIA could dig up who had a counterinsurgency background. And in contrast to ARVN officers, the Americans generally treated the PRU’s as equals. They were even promoted according to merit, in sharp contrast to the ARVN with its aristocratic caste system. When I talked to the PRU’s themselves, this basic equality was the first thing every one stressed.

“I like the unit because very man’s a fighting man,” the Squad Leader Truong Van Lan said. “We really don’t have officers, like in the ARVN where everybody’s sitting in the office. The men are like brothers. We even call each other ‘brother.’”

“We kill many VC,” the deputy commander, Nguyen Ngoc Diep added. “We give fame to our people.”

Yet, how well are the PRU’s actually doing in their assigned task of rooting out the VC infrastructure? Are they actually as successful as Saigon makes them out to be?

From the beginning, the problems of this assignment were enormous. Our South Vietnamese could understand shooting at a guerrilla who was shooting at them. But a quiet little clerk they’d known from childhood who just happened to be directing the entire thing? “It’s like trying to convince them to get the Mafia leader instead of the guy in the New York subway with the switchblade,” one American advisor put it.

Then there were the “accommodations,” by which South Vietnamese officials had, for years, made “deals” with their VC counterparts. A VC village chief near Dalat once wrote an angry letter to his South Vietnamese counterpart and demanded:

“What are you trying to do? Why are you interviewing my relatives? Why are you attacking me now?” It was hard for him to believe that his “friends” on the “other side” could have turned against him. {p.352}

The early figures of apprehended were impressive, but American officials now admit that the victims were chiefly small fish in Mao’s swarming waters: rice carriers, low-level VCI. Nor has that much meaningful intelligence actually been gathered. And about 80 percent of those caught are eventually let go by their South Vietnamese brothers.

Moreover, the VC appear able to regenerate cadres as fast as the Americans knock them off. “I am constantly amazed at the tasks they level on these people, that they don’t just throw up their hands,” one American says. But then, many of the VCI are unquestionably the most energetic, aggressive, upward-mobile and idealistic people in the country.

Many came out of the Viet Minh after it won the war against the French but lost the South. About 10,000 Viet Minh stayed south after 1954 and laid the base for the future Viet Cong leadership. Still others “signed on” after the late President Ngo Dinh Diem’s infamous law 1059 by which any anti-Diem men, whether they were communists, Confucianists or whatever, were purged and often killed by the Diemists.

For these men, indoctrination by the VC was a real awakening. “Suddenly I realized what life was all about,” one related after he was captured by the southerners. “We would sit around in a circle and the political cadres would talk to us. They never actually told us anything, they made it come out of us. How many villagers had the Americans killed? they would ask. How many of your women are sleeping with them? What are they doing to your country? Suddenly everything became clear.”

And today, in addition to their old roles of supply, political indoctrination and tax collection, the VCI form the ostensibly-elected liberation committees — which will constitute the new VC “government” in the South to fight the government of Saigon.

Moreover, what about the whole idea of terror? Does it not destroy the loyalties of more people than it wins over? Is it really effective on “our side”? Without being naive about it, for this is a war, how does a supposedly democratic government rationalize the same kind of terror its excoriates “their side” for?

For one thing, despite the fact that it is generally effective, terror is not alway, {sic: always} so selective as PRU leaders claim. The roundup of hordes of people in operations like that at Ba The is bound to bring in the innocent as well as the guilty. PRU’s steal from the peasants, just as the ARVN does. They often do the same dull stupid things as the South Vietnamese soldiers, only they compound it with terror and brutality.

Not only do many Americans object to these methods, so do many South Vietnamese. Torture has now come to be used so indiscriminately that the VC warn their men to beware of any released prisoner if he has not been tortured.

The Vietnamese Congress, no paragon of virtue itself, recently began a series of investigations charging Phoenix and the PRU’s with corruption, clumsy police work and too many illegal arrests.

“Officials have orders to arrest a certain number of Viet Cong,” charges Ho Van Minh, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives and considered one of the best and most honest young deputies. “But our investigations show there have been a multitude of cases in which they’ve arrested the wrong people.”

He and other officials who called for an investigation of the whole program admitted that it had resulted in the capture of many agents. But they also wondered whether the malpractices were not alienating people from the government and thus simply creating more VC.

“There have been a number of arrests which really amount to kidnapping,” says Ho. “A man going home from work on his bicycle is seized on the way. As far as his family knows, he has simply disappeared. Perhaps a month or two later, they find out where he is.”

Another critic, Ho Ngoc Nhuan, chairman of a lower house rural-construction committee, complained that: “In Qang Nam province, I followed one operation. They jammed the entire population of four hamlets into a four-room school and a courtyard while they searched the villages. They ignored the village chiefs who might have been able to help them distinguish which people were VC. They kept the people squatting there for two whole days.”

In the 1970’s the PRU’s will be transferred entirely to the Vietnamese Ministry of the Interior as part of the total changeover of all units to Vietnamese direction. However, the CIA is by no means immediately relinquishing control — not as {p.353} long as it pays the bills. But certainly with the Green Beret scandal and with the cold eye of criticism looking more at such covert operations, everyone will be taking a colder, harder look at PRU and other such activities.

As noted, one American officer said that there are no circumstances whatsover {sic: whatsoever} in which murder is legal in the U.S. Army. Another disgruntled American civilian official put it this way: “They use terror, yes, but they also have ideology. We have terror without ideology, without revolution. And what is that? It’s plain murder.”




There are one or two things I will ask you about. I won’t read it all. The hour is getting late. It says:

The Vietnamese Congress, no paragon of virtue itself, recently began a series of investigations charging Phoenix and PRUs [Provinical {sic: Provincial} Reconnaissance Units] with corruption, clumsy police work and too many illegal arrests.

Before I go on, are you aware of the Vietnamese Congress’ instituting any investigation?

Mr. Colby. Yes; I referred to that in my testimony.

The Chairman. I thought I recalled it.

Mr. Colby. The legislature did call the government to explain. The Prime Minister and several of the other ministers appeared before them to respond to questions.

The Chairman. I won’t read all of the article, but she quotes and says:

“Officials have orders to arrest a certain number of Viet Cong,” charges Ho Van Minh, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives and considered one of the best and most honest young deputies. “But our investigations show there have been a multitude of cases in which they have arrested the wrong people.”

That is a quote of Ho Van Minh. Do you know Ho Van Minh?

Mr. Colby. I don’t know him.

The Chairman. Have you ever heard of him, Mr. Vann?

Mr. Vann. I have heard of him, sir.

The Chairman. Would you agree he is an honest young man?

Mr. Vann. I don’t know his reputation. I do know the reputation of his associate who was involved in this, Mr. Ngo Cong Duc [deleted].

The Chairman. I will try to paraphrase it. This whole thing here is not so much about the brutality of it. The point she is really making is that by this kind of clumsy administration they make enemies for the Government. She says:

Another critic, Ho Ngoc Nhuan, Chairman of a Lower House Rural-Construction Committee, complained that: “In Quang Nam Province, I followed one operation. They jammed the entire population of four hamlets into a four-room school and a courtyard while they searched the villages. They ignored the village chiefs who might have been able to help them distinguish which people were VC. They kept the people squatting there for two whole days.”

Then the conclusion is that this makes enemies of the Government. In other words, it is not accomplishing its purpose.

Mr. Colby. I think, if you would like my comments on that, sir—

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Colby. I think the problem of mistaken or wrongful or even deliberately erroneous allegations, as I mentioned before, does exist. It is something that just has to be stomped on and stopped. I think they are trying to do that and trying to put in controls to reduce it. {p.354}

With respect to the second one, I think that that fits into the discussion we were having a little while ago of the cordons and the operations like the Russell Beach which we are really turning away from and doing much, much less of. There was some of that done some time ago, particularly up in central Vietnam. It has been used less and less.

The Chairman. There were a few other questions.


Senator Case. Just one thing on that line, if I might. It would be well to have it at this point. Both you and Colonel Vann have been concerned about this sort of thing, I know, very much, such as the use of helicopter gunships being used indiscriminately, et cetera, et cetera.

What is going to happen as we pull out, and the Vietnamese themselves are left with responsibilities for the conduct of the war in matters such as this, and the kind of thing that the chairman has just called to your attention?

Mr. Colby. I think, Senator, that the growth of the whole program puts some internal controls upon the techniques. In other words, new rules are being applied that say that you must inform a village chief of the arrest of anybody in this village. It is a new rule that they are just beginning to implement. That kind of a thing, once it gets started and going becomes a matter of habit. It is followed and begins to put a certain control on just who gets arrested in a village.

Now, with respect to the use of firepower, the Vietnamese get used to a stricter standard. As they depend more and more upon the elected village officials and elected province officials and as their legislature takes a more active role in protesting against things like this, that kind of control will increasingly come to bear.

Two or 3 years ago the army was the only power in the country. There is no question about it. Officers’ words were law. That is no longer the case. Their power is being circumscribed on the Vietnamese side, not just by American influence.

Now, there is more work to do on this, don’t get me wrong, but that, I think, is the answer to your question, Senator.

Senator Case. Do you agree?

Mr. Vann. Sir, not only do I agree, but I went to the trouble of comparing some statistical estimates. In 1969 with approximately 14 times as much airpower being applied from the standpoint of strikes against targets in South Vietnam as were applied in 1962, there were in my judgment less civilian casualties than there were in 1962. That reflects a tremendous improvement in discrimination and the use of these indirect fire and airborne weapons systems.

Senator Case. What do you think will be the result as we progressively withdraw our advisory groups?

Mr. Vann. I wholeheartedly concur with Ambassador Colby’s assessment. I really couldn’t put it better.

Senator Case. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. {p.355}



The Chairman. I am told that Senator Symington had to leave and did not quite complete some questions about the Chau case. I will try to make these very rapid and get through with them. The hour is getting late and everyone is getting tired.

Mr. Vann, when was Chau’s brother arrested? Do you remember?

Mr. Vann. In April of 1969.

The Chairman. April 1969. Was Chau accused at that time or when was Chau accused?

Mr. Vann. Sir, within a few days after Mr. Tran Ngoc Hien had been arrested, the information appeared in the newspapers that he had been in contact with his brother who was a deputy in the assembly, Mr. Tran Ngoc Chau. That is not in the form of a formal accusation.

The Chairman. When did Chau first publicly acknowledge his contacts with his brother?

Mr. Vann. To the best of my recollection, sir, in the spring of 1969, subsequent to April and prior to, I would say, June 30.

The Chairman. Prior to June 30?

Mr. Vann. To the best of my recollection, but I can’t really be certain as to the approximate time.

The Chairman. I am not sure, but I thought I asked you about this. Do you believe the United States has a responsibility to intercede in Chau’s behalf at least to the extent of informing the Vietnamese government of Chau’s reporting on his contacts?

Mr. Vann. Sir, the Prime Minister of the country has been informed as to the facts that Colonel Chau did notify Americans of his involvement.

The Chairman. He has been informed of it?

Mr. Vann. I informed him of it.

The Chairman. In your opinion, did the CIA have a responsibility at an earlier point in time to inform the GVN of Chau’s contacts?

Mr. Vann. I am not personally aware, sir, that the CIA knew of Chau’s contact with his brother.

The Chairman. You testified you knew; you didn’t know whether anyone else knew.

Mr. Vann. That is correct, Senator.

The Chairman. When was the Prime Minister informed of these contacts? Are you the one who informed him?

Mr. Vann. I informed him, sir, in early July of 1969.

The Chairman. Did you have reason to believe that Chau would make public his contacts with official Americans regarding his brother?

Mr. Vann. Mr. Chau informed me, sir, that when it got down to the point of his being tried he would have no recourse but to speak about the contacts.

The Chairman. Did you so inform the Embassy? {p.356}

Mr. Vann. Yes, sir, I have. I informed through my channel, which was Mr. George Jacobson and Ambassador Colby.

The Chairman. What recommendations, if any, did you make?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I felt that although Chau had, by his own admission, violated technically the law of his country, I did not believe that he was either pro-Communist or was aiding or abetting communism, and that I considered that it would be better for all concerned if the case went no further.


The Chairman. Can you describe a little more specifically how the Thieu government has lobbied to obtain the lifting of the immunity of Mr. Chau?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I can only say what I got from deputies.

The Chairman. In your district?

Mr. Vann. From the Delta on the matter, [deleted].



The Chairman. What views has Mr. Chau expressed to you about appropriate Vietnamese policy about broadening the government in negotiations?

Mr. Vann. Sir, he has made so many recommendations over so long a period it would be very extensive.

Colonel, now Mister Tran Ngoc Chau, [deleted] contention on a continuing basis to me was that the non-Communist elements of the society must have a greater voice in the government of Vietnam, a voice that he does not feel that any other than those associated with the current government now have. That is his opinion.

The Chairman. Did he express his view on a coalition government?

Mr. Vann. To me, sir, he has always expressed the view that there should be some accommodation made at the local levels and that would preclude an accommodation having to be made at the national level.

My interpretation of his views is that he would not endorse a coalition with Communists at the national level.


The Chairman. This case is made even more significant by your exchange with and discussion of Major Mai as to what we can find or what we can do about the political situation in South Vietnam, and how realistic is the asserted objective of giving them a right of self-determination.

Mai’s and Chau’s experiences and also Dzu. whom I would include from what we know about it from the press, at least assuming the press statements are true, seem to me to make rather a farce of the idea of self-determination. You have a very effective dictatorship, not unlike the Greeks or any other, if an opposition man. no matter how reputable, puts up his head and off it goes. This comes back to a question asked the other day. Self-determination under the circumstances {p.357} is illusory. If there is any objective which could make any sense at all, it simply is the restraining of communism, which was the main objective expressed by former Secretary Rusk.

Mr. Vann. I am sure, Mr. Chairman, you realize there is on a continuing bases a number of people who are in opposition to the Thieu government who do speak on the matter. I believe Senator Trail Van Don is one of the foremost, and certainly to some extent, General Minh. So I would not say that it is any case of totalitarian—

The Chairman. There are all kinds of opposition. We have those distinctions too. But according to your own testimony, if I understood it correctly, Mai and Chau were two of the most promising, attractive opponents. There are other kinds of opponents. You have tame opponents as well as other kinds.

Mr. Vann. Sir, the time period that we talked of with regard to Major Mai was 1966, and the Thieu-Ky government per se did not exist then.

The Chairman. It was the Ky government.

Mr. Colby. You didn’t have constitutional government.

Mr. Vann. It was a directorate headed up by Ky.


The Chairman. In order to complete the record, I will put in some of the documents dealing with accusations against Mr. Chau and his views on a variety of subjects, and some newspaper articles dealing with this case.


(The materials referred to follow:)



My countrymen and comrades-in-arms in kien hoa and throughout the country, deputies to the national assembly, gentlemen,

In my letter of Dec. 5, 1969, to the deputies to the national assembly, I promised to defend myself when necessary?

I still honor this decision until the lower house formally carries out articles 37 and 38 of the constitution against my person.

However, in the aftermath of the president’s biased accusations against my person and the threats he made in Yung Tau against the national assembly, as well as in the wake of radio and television broadcasts and demonstrations, etc. I felt the need to send to you this letter to give you and public opinion food for thought.


The constitution of Vietnam has 117 articles. To honor the constitution means to honor all the articles and the laws emanating from these articles.

Recently, the president and a small number of people have only alleged article 4 in order to condemn me and intimidate all those politicians who disagree with the government.

Why did the president and that small number of people not uphold article 7 of the constitution, and why did they abuse their power and exploit the nation’s facilities to slander and and denigrate me over the radio and television, in the press and demonstrations encouraged or authorized by the government. Article 7, section 8, clearly states that “defendants are considered innocents until they are definitely found guilty by a court. In case of doubt, the court will rule in favor of the accused”. {p.358}


Thus, even though I may be affected by article 4 of the constitution, I am still an innocent man.

Article 4 of the constitution says clearly that: “that republic of Vietnam opposes communism under all forms; all activities aimed at publicising or promoting communism are strictly forbidden.”

I cannot be so cowardly as to deny my brother Tran-Ngoc-Hien’s relations and contacts with me (I did not seek to contact my brother). But the contacts were only made discreetly, between two blood brothers, and were never disclosed or publicized in order to publicize or promote communism.

On the contrary, in my contacts with Tran-Ngoc-Hien, I never failed to try to persuade my brother to:

a. renounce communism,

b. acknowledge the existence of the republic of Vietnam’s regime, and

c. persuade north Vietnam to have direct negotiations with the republic of Vietnam in order to end the war.

Tran-Ngoc-Hien himself testified to my anti-communist stand at his trial on July 4, 1969. Several newspapers carried this news. Let me quote thoi {sic} the daily of July 5, 1969:

* * * the defendant’s brother (Tran-Ngoc-Chau) proved himself useless because he opposed communism too strongly.”

It could by no means be believed that the above statement was intended to protect me because the documents used to accuse me were also based on other statements by Tran-Ngoc-Hien.

Previously, when talking about my “case” to a number of deputies in the dan tien (people’s progress) bloc, the president had said that “Mr. Tran-Ngoc-Chau did not act in any way for the communists but only out of his connections with some american groups.” this statement was disclosed to me by Mr. Nguyen-cao-Thang and Mr. Nguyen-cao-Thang, later, confirmed it to other deputies at the dien hong conference hall.

To tell the truth, I did not act either for the communists or for any foreign group.

Even after Mr. Nguyen-cao-Thang retaliated (as I had demanded that the lower house looked into allegations that Mr. Nguyen-cao-Thang had used his money and influence to undermine the national assembly) by telling the press that I had “records of connections with the communists,” premier Tran-thien-khiem denied this news and disclosed that no government agencies had such a dossier (the hoa hinh daily carried this news item which was not denied by anyone).

With the facts just mentioned, there cannot be any pretext for accusing me of violating article 4 of the constitution.

Meanwhile, president Nguyen-van-Thieu himself accepted to talk peace with north Vietnam and the NLF, agreed to allow the NLF to take part in elections. Such steps have enabled the NLF to gain prestige in the international political arena, thereby enabling them to establish a government which was recognized by many countries. The communists could not have achieved such things before the republic of Vietnam agreed to sit down at the conference table with them in Paris.

If article 4 of the constitution is to be upheld, then the president’s acts just mentioned actually helped the communists publicize and promote communism.

However, I have no intention to accuse the president of violating article 4 of the constitution because I believe that the president’s acts (if they were as sincere as those of other Vietnamese and my own) were all aimed at realizing national reconciliation, restore peace in freedom, and not at favoring communism.


According to the contents of the “dossier” which the president submitted to the lower house, I was accused of the following crimes:

1. 8 times of contacts, relations and exchange of news with Hien without notifying the authorities.

2. support in money, transportation facilities and legal papers for Tran-Ngoc-Hien.

3. existence of the enemy’s support for my candidacy to the lower house. {p.359}


May I speak out the truth as follows:

1. I wrote to Hien a card agreeing to see him for the first time. The other times Hien always came to see me unexpectedly.

You may understand the situation of two blood brothers who were separated for 16 years when one of them asked to see the other. Who could be so inhumane as to decline the request?

Moreover, at that time, I thought that my brother might try to see me in order to surrender to the nationalist cause.

I never exchange news with Hien, but only tried to persuade him by analyzing the situation with a view to making Hien see that the communists could not win victory in south Vietnam. And thus, I intended to persuade Hien to renounce communism or make him persuade the communists to seek an accommodation with the republic of Vietnam in order to end the war.

I wish that you will understand why I did not denounce Tran-Ngoc-Hien. How could I ignore my feelings and traduce my brother to his death?

I believe that no nationalist could do this.

Moreover, every time Hien met me, I always told Hien that if he refused to heed my advices (a,b,c), he must get back to the north and never see me again.

Apart from such human circumstances and from the fact that the contacts between my brother and me had a family character, high government authorities who knew our relations acknowledged my sincerity. If these authorities, for some noble reasons, prefer to let me defend myself alone before public opinion, I would agree to it and would not disclose their identities and ranks.

2. As a province chief (until the end of 1965), director of the RD training program and commandant of the RD training center in Vung-Tau (until the beginning of 1967), I never gave Tran-Ngoc-Hien any document, news or facilities, except an amount of 30 thousand piasters, a car ride from Kien-hoa to my tho {sic} and a card authorizing Hien to meet me. This help was given exclusively within the framework of brotherhood and only for once.

In the above-mentioned positions and with available means, I could, if I intended to help the communists, have done much more to support Hien and the communists, especially in 1964 and 1965 when the situation in Kien-hoa and many other provinces throughout the country was critical.

On the contrary, I wrestle with the communist and people.

The result was that the day I was assigned to the RD ministry (November 1965), the leaders of the religions in the province and the provincial council members sent cables to the central government and corps authorities to request for my continued stay. And it is precisely because of my anti-communist record that it, Gen. Nguyen Ven Thieu, national directory chairman, awarded me the fourth class national order medal and first class order of merit medal. Both things rarely happens to out going province chiefs.

3. In the electoral campaign for the lower house in Kien-hoa, there were only about 90,000 people out of 500 thousand did vote. These voters were all screened and were in the government-controlled areas.

I was elected among 19 candidates with 38 thousand votes. The majority of my votes were gotten in the provincial capital (I got 8,000 votes while the runner up got less than 3,000) and in the areas where catholic voters lived.

The foregoing are my clarifications about the three accusations by the president as featured in the “dossier” which the president forwarded to the lower house.


Recently, the armed forces radio and a couple of newspapers in the capital disclosed another accusation, namely, that Tran-Ngoc-Hien said that Hien entrusted me with the mission of setting up a committee to work with the NLF. In this committee, there were 2 buddhist monks, 1 politician and 1 deputy.

I strongly deny and protest this additional accusation and other accusations which may be added later. I never had such activities.

Suppose this disclosure was truthful, why did not the president “dossier” mention it?

It should be noted that the “dossier” forwarded by the president did not hint at additional evidences while the “dossier” in the hands of a fellow deputy contains this item. {p.360}

May I caution public opinion that after he was sentenced to life imprisonment, Tran-Ngoc-Hien has been kept in solitary confinement and has not been visited by his relatives for three months. Was this measure intended to force Tran-Ngoc-Hien to tell further of my crimes.

My countrymen and comrades-in-arms,


The foregoing are my clarifications about the “crimes” which the president has charged me of.

I could not guess whether there will be other accusations. However, I believed that the accusations bearing the signature of the president himself must be the most serious and complete accusations.

I agree that all shows of force and display of anti-communist spirit are rightful. But when the “secret” dossier has only been sent to the lower house for consideration and decision, and when the public and even the people who wrote for the radio and TV networks or organized the demonstrations have not been assess the validity of the dossier, any condemnation and indictment before the lower house takes a decision and the court pronounces a verdict are only acts contrary to reason and in violation of both the constitution and existing laws (article 7, section 8 of the constitution now in force).

If anyone still believes that I am guilty, my guilt should be specified as follows:

“Tran-Ngoc-Chau had the courage to take up arms to kill foreign invaders and the communist during 23 years; but Tran-Ngoc-Chau did not have the courage to traduce his blood brother Tran-Ngoc-Hien who was a north Vietnamese officer”.

Although there are serious pressures for accusing me, I still believe that the common sense of the nationalists will not accept any arbitrary measure and accusation against me which are severe than against the communists.


Than Ngoc Chau.

Saigon, December 24, 1969.





I. — First contacts without change of attitude

After studying the importance and location of the objectives as well as assessing the importance and competence of the individuals, the directorate of studies decided to work on a number of people, including Tran Ngoc Chau, who might become good news sources. Although Chau and I are blood brothers, we had not met for nearly twenty years, and I had no idea how he had changed. Therefore, I chose the following mottoes:

(a) To persevere in winning over him regardless of the time needed.

(b) To strengthen the brotherly ties and at the same time to win over him politically in accordance with the dictates of circumstances.

(c) To remain vigilant.

(d) To make careful preparations for the contacts. And to do this, I asked Mr. Tran Chau Khang, my eldest brother, to contact Chau first in order to assess his attitude in advance.

By the beginning of 1965, Mr. Khang met him and told him that I intended to see him. Mr. Khang reported to me that Chau was willing to receive me and that I could come to see him at any time; he sent me a card bearing this sentence: “please let this man come and see me immediately.” Besides, he sent me a query whether I intended to surrender to the government. If I did, he would recommend me for a trip to the United States. As it was not yet timely to make a contact, I destroyed the card, fearing that it might cause trouble as I was using a false I.D. card by September 1965, when Mr. Khang went down to Kien Hoa to ask Chau to give him legal papers so that he could apply for a job, I asked Mr. Khang to reassess Chau’s attitude and see whether his attitude had changed in any way. Mr. Khang told me that Chau did not say anything about plans to see him; I reasoned that there was no obstacle to my plans. Therefore, in November 196.5. I decided to go to Kien Hoa to have the first contact with him. At about 1430 hours on a Sunday in Nov. 1965, I went straight to the residence of the chief of Kien Hoa province and told the guards that I wanted to see Chau. I wrote a note as follows:

Dear brother: I have just arrived from central Vietnam, and, following your advice, I request to see you. Signed: contractor {p.361}

We were so happy to see each other after so many years. We talked about our family. I told him about our relatives in the north. He introduced his wife and children to me. At dinner, in the presence of his wife and children, he asked me whether I needed any legal papers, thereby showing that he was a man of fair play. I thanked him and told him that I had gotten all necessary papers. As far as I can remember, I got the following ideas across to him during our conversation that night:

The front ordered me to contact you and see whether you want to support the front. Your former friends such as Buoi, Luong, Chuong, Kinh and Lien all want you to do so. No one has anything against you. We ourselves took the risk of contacting you.

The front stands for the struggle against the americans, and for demanding independence, democracy, peace and neutrality. There is nothing to communism, The revolutionaries are not against anti-communist elements who are true patriots. The revolutionaries only oppose those who, under the label of anti-communism, suppress the people and let american inference in our sovereignthy {sic: sovereignty}. On the other hand, the revolutionaries would be guilty of ignorance if they fought against french dominion in order to accept the rule of the russians or of the Chinese.

Your interests and mine are identical; they are the interests of the people. No theory or doctrine transcends these fundamental interests.

As you believe you are a nationalist and patriot, you should not use any pretext, even that of opposing communism, to calmly let the americans murder the compatriots and devastate the country.

Chau did argue with me on those ideas, but my principle was to avoid arguments.

He said categorically: my stand is clearly to oppose the communist ideology, but not go hate the communists as individuals. He said he did not kill anybody except when he was on operations. He complained that the guerrillas had attempted to kill him with a plastic charge.

Finally, I said: the main and realistic question is not to find out who is right and who is wrong, but to work together to save south Vietnam from the nearly 30 years of war from the french till the Americans. We should not try to convert each other today. Life will do the conversion.

The next morning, Chau had to go early for an operation; he asked me whether I could stay. I said I wanted to leave. Before departing each other, Chau put in my pocket a bundle of 500-piaster notes (I found out later that the sum was nearly 30,000 piasters). His wife told a driver to take me to My-Tho in a private car. After this contact, I made the following report to my superiors:

(a)  The brotherly ties are fairly good.

(b)  (Chau’s) ideas and political stand are not favorable; his opposition is still strong and shows signs of becoming stronger.

(c)  Contacts should be temporarily suspended, pending more favorable circumstances and changes in the situation.

(d)  No more regular contacts, but brotherly relations should be maintained.

I requested that the front’s committee in Kien-Hoa forbid the guerrillas to assassinate Chau because he could be won over in the long run.


II. By May 1966, for a second contact, I went straight to Chau’s office as he had just been appointed director of the R.D. training program.

At this time, the buddhists were waging a vigorous struggle, the anti-American movement was gathering momentum, the internal situation of south Vietnam was critical. I went to see Chau this time in order to see whether the overall situation had any effect on his stand.

During this second contact, I advance the following ideas:

{sic} The front is quite determined to fight the Americans until the end. The most appropriate political course for South Vietnam to take would be real neutralism. The South would not go communist but would not be dependent on the Americans. You have many friends among the generals, field grade officers, politicians, intellectuals. You should contact patriotic elements and form a group which would work hand in hand with the front when the opportunity arrives. This means that you can continue to oppose communism, but you should do something to oppose the Americans and defend the interests of the people. The front’s policy is to seek the widest unity possible. The front does not demand that people support its platform entirely, but only wants to support people who oppose the Americans.

Here is what Chau replied to me: this is very difficult. There are here people who oppose the Americans or who do not like the government, but this does not mean that they are willing to cooperate with the communists. {p.362}

He boasted that the Americans respected him, that American newspapers praised him, and that he knew many American personalities to whom he could introduce me if I wanted. But I replied: what should I see Americans for? I only want to see patriotic nationalists. We were in the midst of our conversation when an American came in, so I left.

Chau’s ideas had not undergone any change. On the contrary, he appeared to be closely associated with the Americans. Therefore, I decided not to continue to work on him politically for some time, and to wait for a more favorable occasion.

II. — Apparent change of attitude, but actual intentions to profit

For a long period, I did not come to see Chau because Mr. Khang told me that Chau was having close relations with the Americans.


(III) By the end of 1967, Chau asked Khang to tell me to come to his private house on Ngo-Tung-Chau street in Gia-dinh so that he could say something to me. The contents of the third meeting between the two brothers are as follows:

He told me he had gone to Hue. Many relatives knew that I was in Saigon. So the secret was revealed and security agents might know about my whereabouts. He advised me to take to the bush and not to go around to contact people; he said I might be arrested and bring trouble to him. I answered: don’t worry, I will drop in here only occasionally and will go out immediately.

After that, he told me he would run for the elections in Kien-Hoa for the reason that he would lose his initiative if he continued to stay in the army, and that a political career would be more lasting and promising. Chau added: can you see any way to help me? I do not need more votes because I know many people and enjoy prestige * * * among people in Kien Hoa province; moreover, I don’t have important opponents; but could you tell “the other side” not to “sadden” the election day such as by preventing people from going to the polls, indulging in terrorism, shellings, etc. I asked: do you have a new policy to propose in running for the elections? He answered: I have always opposed the communist ideology but not in a blind manner; I do any thing beneficial to the people and the cause of peace.

I considered Chau to be a “potential target” who deserved to be won over in a long process. Therefore, within the framework of strategic intelligence, I intended to lead him into the path of activities useful to my purpose whereas I knew that the lower house would be a corrupt and puppet body which would not play any important role or influence anybody. I indirectly asked him why he did not stay with the army and be a province chief or work in some ministry, which give him more actual power whereas a deputy in south Vietnam could by on means deal with Mr. Loan or a gun-carrying general.

But I realized that Chau had decided to do politics at all costs. I tried to win his sympathy by saying:

The front intends to induce the people to oppose and boycot {sic: boycott} this election. But I personalty am ready to support you and I will report your desire to my superiors. If they agree, orders would be promptly given to the Kien Hoa people.

Here are the contents of the cable I sent to brother Toan after I met with Chau:

“I don’t know why Chau asked me to come and told me that my relatives knew about my where abouts and advised me to take to the jungles. Do you, brother Toan, have any ideas to give me?

Chau also told me that he would run for the lower house in Kien Hoa constituency and requested me to ask the front to give him a hand by limiting the sabotage of the elections there.

Since we haven’t had Chau, this is a good occasion to win his sympathy and create an favorable atmosphere for to continue to work on him.

Please contact the front to see whether our Chau might be harmful to the overall policy of the front. If possible, we would propose that our forces intensify our offensive in other areas while we would scale our military action against the capital and district towns of Kien Hoa province”.

About one month later, brother Toan sent me a letter:

“Chau used the pretext that sy’s whereabouts had been disclosed in order to force him (sy) to take to the jungles and clear the way for his entry into the political area. Sy’s presence would be embarassing and inhibit Chau’s freedom of action.

However, be vigilant in your goings and comings. It is possible that the CIA might have known and set up a trap”.

Brother Toan did not say a word about my proposal. And until now, my superiors have not said a word about it. {p.363}

During the election period, I closely follow the electoral process in Kien Hoa by reading newspapers. It appeared to be relatively smooth. Besides, I was told by Mr. Khang that during the election campaign, Chau used suzuki motorbike to move around in Kien Hoa.

There were only 3 candidates in Kien Hoa: Chau, 1 male nurse and 1 teacher. Chau believed he did not have serious opposition. The result was that Chau got 30,000 votes from 80,000 voters out of the population of 500,000.

In my opinion, the success of Chau was a matter of course and should not surprise or mystify anyone.


III. — Since the Mau Than Tet, signs of change of attitude

After the first wave of the Mau Than Tet offensive, after the second wave, after the general situation had evolved and after I had received instructions from above, I had the following intentions regarding Chau:

1. — To persevere in working on him over a long period, using three assets: brotherly sentiments, influence of the situation, political action consisting of:

(a)  advising and criticizing Chau with a view to limit obnoxious effects of the political gimmicks that he liked to do at the national assembly;

(b)  gradually arousing his patriotic, anti-american feelings, and at the same time making him understand and sympathize with the policies and programs of the front.

(c)  increasing his awareness about the need for political probity.

2. to exploit all counter-intelligence information.

3. to be extremely vigilant and cautious as chau might be a tool of the CIA. since the middle of 1968, there have been signs of:

(a)  progress along the lines specified above.

(b)  influence of the situation (on chau).

(c)  Chau’s change as the situation changed.

(d)  the CIA’s activities falling in line with the U.S. policy.

Little by little, the man showed more signs of change in his ideas and attitudes in subsequent contacts.


IV. — The June, 1968, contact had two objectives

(a) To find out whether chau could potentially participate in the Trinh dinh Thao alliance.

(b) To assess whether he had undergone further change after the two offensives and his trip abroad.

He raised his voice to berate and condemn Mr. Trinh-dinh-Thao. Therefore I gave up the idea to sound him out.

During this contact, although he still pretended to stick to his anti-communist stand, he did show signs of concern and display some changes in his thinking such as:

From believing that the Americans would defeat the communists he had come to admit that the Americans could not win victory because they had a wrong policy but that they could not lose either. He said: why didn’t you go and fight anywhere instead of fighting in the cities thus bringing death to the people. I answered half jokingly: the countryside was all liberated, if we did not carry the fighting here where could we do it then? We did not shoot at the people. The people and their houses were destroyed because of American airplanes. As a deputy, why haven’t you raised your voice to protest against American bombings of civilians?

He showed first signs of wanting to put an end to the war. He disclosed that public opinion in almost all the countries he had just visited (Japan, United States, England, Italy, France) wants:

a. Contradiction and dissention between the Americans and the authorities in Saigon.

b. The ideas, viewpoints and peace formulas of every personality and group on the Saigon or American side.

I asked Chau: are the reactions of the national assembly and of Thieu to the unilateral cessation of the bombing of the north real or not? I have heard that it was all a farce triggered by Bunker.

Chau smiled: those were real reactions. Please don’t believe that the Americans can do anything they want here; we do not abide by all the decisions of the Americans.

I said: it is distressing indeed. As an outsider. I could not even put up with this. The Americans are unacceptable. They override you so crudely. This is a good occasion for the Vietnamese to find a way to shake off the American yoke. {p.364}

Chau asked: please find out if the north is willing to receive a southern parliamentary delegation in order to discuss about the possibility of solving the war in the south.

I asked him: do you really intend to seek a settlement among all the Vietnamese? is this your own personal idea or is it someone else’s? Chau replied: it is not appropriate to say at this time, but roughly Tran-chanh-Thanh shares this idea.

I tried to work on him: this idea is not realistic. Why go to the north while the front is the direct opponent and is the people’s ligitimate {sic: legitimate} representative which has full rights to make decisions? since the north still refuses to recognize, the southern regime, how could it receive a southern parliamentary delegation? this would only be beneficial to the americans because the americans can use it to soothe public opinion. The only rightful solution is to deal sincerely with the front of national liberation. However, I will report to my superiors and will give you an answer.

I did report Chau’s ideas and suggestions to my superiors and askes {sic} brother Toan to:

(a)  Find out what was behind Chau’s proposals.

(b)  Suggest to me how to answer Chau in such a way as to preserve the front’s policies and at the same not to contradict Chau too sharply.

After that, Tu Hiep ordered me to answer along the lines expounded on the Hanoi and liberation radios.

(VII). — The contact after the election of nixon, by the end of dec. 68:

Chau appeared to be gratified by the election of Nixon and said: during this transition period, the position of Mr. Thieu will be rather delicate but will be better and better defined.

Following the advice of my superiors, I answered Chau that it was not timely yet to send a southern parliamentary delegation to the north. He flew into an anger and said: “so you believe your are certain of success and only want to settle with the Americans. You must not force us into the position of either siding entirely with the other side or leaning competely {sic: completely} on the Americans. We are those who neither accept the front nor side with the ultra-rightists. We are only middle-of-the-road people (litterally {sic: literally}: we are only people who stand in the middle).

I waited to Chau to cool down, then advanced some ideas.

The policies and platform of the north and of the front are always identical. The front’s policy is that the southern problem must be settled among the Vietnamese without foreign interference.

If you or your group want to put an end to the people’s 30 years of sufferings, you should deal directly with the southern front of liberation. This is inevitable, sooner or later.

The americans are presently squeezed from all sides. This is a good occasion to break away from american bondage; and the only solution is still to seek an accommodation among the Vietnamese.

(VIII). — The contact after the ky dau tet, by the end of february, 1969, at Chau’s invitation through Mr. Khang:

Upon seeing me, he told me immediately: a number of deputies and possibly representatives of some religions want to set up a delegation to paris or to somewhere else in order to contact the north and the front with a view to assess the possibility of ending the war. This group’s intention is to gain some political stature which would enable it to tell other circles and groups that it has the capability of promoting understanding and reaching an settlement with the other side. It does not matter for it to meet with north Vietnam first and the front second or simultaneously.

I asked: What are the group’s views on a solution? He replied: to seek a settlement with the front without having to amend the constitution forbids communism while the front has never admitted that it is a communist organization. The front can in the long run be considered a political party, a minority group, and adjustments can be made for it to have deputies (to the national assembly). President Thieu has about the same ideas. There must be a settlement with the front, sooner or later, but it is too dangerous to declare so at this time. He asked me to find out whether the front and the north would agree to receive the group. If the answer was positive, he would go to paris in april or may 1969.

I asked for further information about the composition of the delegation. He roughly said he had contacts with the buddhists, Hoa Hao and Cao Dai, etc.

I tried to work on him: {p.365}

Is this your sincere idea or only a political gimmick or a CIA scheme; does this group have any strength or prestige? If not, after the meetings, all its members would be jailed and would not be able to achieve anything.

What is Mr. Thieu really stand for?

If you want to give your group strength, you must enroll the support of the major religions such as the catholics, the An Quang buddhists, as well as of personalities both here and abroad. It would be useless to have a group of people whose names scare off people. There must be a political platform that is in line with independence, democracy, peace, neutrality, if a settlement is to be reached. In politics, you must know the strength of the parties. On what grounds, could you consider the front as a minority group?

Finally, I promised: although I have no concrete ideas yet, I will report to my superiors and will give you an early answer.

After I left Chau, I wrote a report to my superiors dealing with Chau’s formula of seeking a settlement with the front within the framework of the constitution. In another letter, addressed to Tu Hiep, I wrote: “It is to be wondered what happen in paris in * * * april and may which would make Chau decide to go there to contact us”.

After that, I went to see Ba Can and talked briefly about Chau’s ideas, and I said that we should study the situation more fully in order to make suggestions to the higherups.

I intended to come and see Chau by the beginning of april, 1969, for two purposes:

(a) to assess the strength, policies and platform of the Chau group.

(b) If favorable, to ask to contact some of the group’s members in order to have clearer ideas and to expand my sources who might be useful to my strategic intelligence activities.

I had not come to see Chau when I was arrested on April 6, 1969.




(Submitted by Daniel Ellsberg)

The several items following were recently sent me by Tran Ngoc Chau, formerly lieutenant colonel in ARVN, now a Deputy from Kim Hoa (when he was twice the Province Chief), and Secretary General of the National Assembly, House of Deputies. Formerly a battalion commander in the Viet Minn, rallying to the Bao Dai Government in 1950, Chau was perhaps the leading innovator and analyst of pacification techniques in Vietnam and was first head of the Revolutionary Development Cadre Program. I know Chau as a close friend and, as do many other Americans, respect him as a patriot.

Among the items sent by Chau (not reproduced below) is a hand drawn diagram headed: “This is how the GVN and NVN are competing in winning over the support of the people in South Vietnam.” With the “people in South Vietanm {sic: Vietnam}” as a box in the center, Chau shows them as appealed to, on the one side, by successive boxes representing various vehicles ranging from the DRV (attracting “communists of the first degree”), the NLF (attracting “communists of the second degree”), Trinh Dinh Thao’s alliance (for “communists of the third degree”) and the proposal of coalition government (appealing to “communists of the fourth degree”): whereas on the other side, non-communists vehicles encouraged by the GVN (and U.S.) are represented by the GVN alone, appealing to “anti-communists of the first degree”: “Everyone else is accused or condemned as pro-communist.”

Chau is now regarded as a leader of the nationalist opposition to the present GVN, within the National Assembly. He has for several years favored ceasefire and direct talks between the GVN and the NLF in Vietnamese politics. Were it not for the immunity granted by his membership in the National Assembly, he would undoubtedly be arrested by the current GVN leadership for his recent expressions of these long-held views (as represented in the accompanying translations). That immunity is probably not absolute. His vulnerability has undoubtedly been increased by his recent public disclosure that a Viet Cong captain now in police custody is his brother (another brother is a North Vietnamese official), even though these family relationships have been known to the government for some time and represent, as he out it, a “familiar drama” in the conflict in South Vietnam. {p.366}




(By Deputy Tran-Ngoc-Chau)

On January 15, 1969, the Quvet-Tien Daily published an interview with me about attitudes towards the NLF. To make the matter clearer, I would like to add the following statement. — Deputy Tran-Ngoc-Chau


From the beginning of 1945 to the end of 1949, I had the privilege of wearing torn clothes, walking bare-footed, living from hand to mouth, working without pay and living in straitened circumstances along the Truong Son Mountains to participate in the resistance, taking up arms to oppose foreign invasion.

In 1950, I changed ranks and rallied to the Nationalist camp. Since then, I have worn French uniforms and American shoes, lived in plenty and received high salaries, enjoyed comforts from Hai Phong and Hung Yen to the Ben Hai and Ca Mau, participating in the resistance against the Communists.

The time I have spent on this side is threefold or fourfold the time spent on the other side; feats of arms I have accomplished on this side also outnumber those on the other side. My authority and privileges on this side are also superior to those on the other side. My way of life and my thoughts are also more at ease on this side than on the other side. I have also more friends and relatives here than there.

Thus, there is no reason why I should support a victory of the other camp (NVN and the NLF) whether on the battlefield or at the conference table.

But we must also sincerely admit that if the great majority of our people could enjoy their basic rights under a good regime, they themselves would have long ago been determined to defend themselves against any form of Communist propaganda and terrorism. Thus, the Communists would never have been able to use minority rule to sway us and to make it necessary for us to cope with them for so many years.

In view of the above, I believe that the Communists are guilty of provoking the war, but that we ourselves, non-Communist leaders, have been incapable of improving society, of bringing confidence to the people, and of fully utilizing our capabilities to destroy the Communists.

And it is because of the above-mentioned inability that the Communists have been able to expand and attract a great part of the population to them, while we ourselves must depend on our ally, the United States, to fight the Communists.

Until the day comes when the United States changes its methods, we must face our enemy in the front and our ally in the back.

We cannot prolong this war under such conditions.

An early end must be put to the war so as to save the great majority of the population from death, from infirmity, and from bankruptcy caused by the war.

Both sides — we and the Communists — must put an end to the war for the sake of humanity.


There are only three ways of achieving peace in this war:

1. Surrender to the Communists.

2. Defeat the Communists.

3. Make mutual concessions.

Of course, we cannot, nor is there any reason for us, to surrender to the Communists in any form. At any rate, we remain stronger than they.

Defeat the Communists? We have been deftating them successfully day after day. Whoever opens the daily news bulletins and statistical reports from 1959 to the present would certainly see that the total number of Viet Cong killed stands at millions by body count, and that the population that we control comes up to twenty or thirty million. Therefore, if we choose to defeat the Communists with the old strategy, it would mean that the war would go on indefinitely-endlessly. Such a situation would be tantamount to continuing the present war with promises but without any end in sight.

A number of anti-Communist elements whose incomes increase and whose relatives and friends dodge military service have chosen this self-deceiving formula.

Therefore, if the two above formulas are not chosen, we must make mutual concessions to put an end to the war and bring peace to our country. {p.367}


But on what basis must concessions be made? This is quite a problem which we must analyze.

As everyone of us knows:

In the past — in spite of statements and promises of peace — our government has advocated that the war must be ended on the basis that “NVN must withdraw its invasion troops”, the Viet Cong must “chieu hoi” and surrender to the government, and that, even if they would do so, only elements recognized as “good” can participate in political as “individuals” in the “national community”.

The above conditions require that NVN and the Viet Cong must lay down their arms and surrender — no more, no less.

In my heart and that of all non-Communist people, we hope that NVN and the Viet Cong will act that way.

Our attitude in resiging {sic: resigning} ourselves to sit down at the conference table in Paris on January 18, 1969, with a delegation equal in number to that of the United States delegation, with the presence (known to the entire world) of the National Liberation Front indicated that our government had given up the above unrealistic policy of restoring peace.

What a shame!

When the other camp consists of 8 Vietnamese facing our camp which consists of 4 Vietnamese and 4 Americans.

But let’s look into the reality, into the bones and blood of the people and into the scenes of destruction of the country, and thus continue to seek peace.

The most loud-talking anti-Communist elements should raise their voices and tell people what we should do in the face of this tragic and shameful situation.

Should we accept the Communists and thus maintain Vietnamese personality (because we all still are Vietnamese) or accept dependence on the United States not necessarily to be anti-Communist, but rather to depend on the United States to lead us anywhere it wants?

Is there anyone who forgets that:

In 1963 the United States accused President Ngo-Dinh-Diem (who had been elected by the people in accordance with the Constitution) of repressing the Buddhists and attempting to come to agreement with NVN in order to come to the November 1, 1963 coup?

And that in 1966 the United States supported the most terrible repressions of the Buddhists by tanks and planes, and today (the U.S.) compels the Republic of Viet Nam to sit at the conference table, not only with North Viet Nam, but also with the National Liberation Front?

But reality, however shameful, still does not necessarily require us to choose between “dependence on the United States” and “acceptance of the Communists”.

Reality still gives us a chance to choose another road, different from slavery (Communist or foreign).



That road is one of nationalism, pure nationalism, which can overcome all temptations, influences and controls by both the Communists and the foreigners.

Those Vietnamese who sincerely love their compatriots and their country will unite to build that new road.

If there are Vietnamese who sided with the French, or follow the Americans or the Nationalist camp out of horror and hatred of the dictatorial nature and the brutal actions of the Communists, why can’t there be other Vietnamese who sided with the Communists out of horror and hatred toward the arbitary {sic: arbitrary} and despotic nature and the selfish and cruel actions of some of us?

In the most cruel and corrupt regimes there still must be generous and honest elements.

The road to save the Vietnamese nation now and in the future in South Viet Nam, in North Viet Nam, and all over the Vietnamese territory, will not be built by the Vietnamese who follow the American, follow the Russians or follow the Chinese, but rather will be built by the Nationalistic Vietnamese.

In the face of that new reality and those new requirements, the Republic of Viet Nam should bravely talk peace directly with North Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front. {p.368}

Talk with North Viet Nam in order to reach agreement on a common framework for the future of both the South and the North, and talk with the National Liberation Front in order to end the war on the territory which lies South of the 17th parallel.

Viet Nam peace cannot be settled completely between the Republic of Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front because on the other side of the parallel North Viet Nam is still ready to stir up trouble and support the war.

Nor can Viet Nam peace be settled completely between the Republic of Viet Nam and North Viet Nam because the National Liberation Front, which North Viet Nam will never abandon, is still on this side of the parallel.

We have the right to call the National Liberation Front by a hundred terms which are bad, vile and most servile, but we must, admit that this organization exists in reality, and that there could never be any peace talks which could bring an end to the war if we did not agree to make some concessions to this organization and thus to satisfy some of its minimum demands.

We have done this before with regard to some armed opposition groups. Why can’t we do it again with regard to the National Liberation Front? Is it because this Front is Communist or dependent on the Communists?


That is the truth.

But at present, both we and the U.S. have realized that our army and the army, technical ability and resources of the most advanced modern power in the world can’t exterminate them and because of that, we are forced to talk with them at the conference table.

Whether we like it or not, we are compelled to discuss the methods of ending the war in order to restore peace.

But peace is never restored by means of a combat of wits and open discussions at the conference table.

Peace can be restored only by means of acceptance by the concerned parties.


Let us ask ourselves who are the concerned parties and what understanding and concessions are possible?

The United States

First, let us speak about the United States. We must speak about the United States first because in the past the United States has proven its power through the evolution and shifts of power among the patriots and scoundrels among the leadership of the Vietnamese nation, and at present the United States is still the most influential power from our local level to the central government and from the companies and battalions to higher echelons.

If the United States had withdrawn some assistance items or some supply items, certainly what happened to President Diem, to the regime prior to 1963, would have happened to President Thieu, to the present regime.

With its available open and secret power, the United States is the main obstacle which blocks Viet Nam on the road to war or peace. If the United States does not agree with the RVN.

Therefore, let us demand that the United States reconsider its attitude at the Paris peace negotiation and at other peace talks to come.

It is precisely the presence of the United States at the conference table which has:

(a) encouraged North Viet Nam and the NLF to refuse to talk with the RVN;

(b) pushed the RVN back into a subordinate position;

(c) escalated its role in the war, that the Communists always make propaganda about;

(d) and consequently, caused the majority of the people in the world and the American people to oppose the war in Viet Nam;

(e) made the most pro-American nationalists feel ashamed and hate the United States;

(f) made the North Vietnamese feel more proud and enthusiastic because they can sit at the same level as the United States; and

(g) made the Southeast Asian nations friendly to the United States doubt the goodwill of the United States.

The presence of the U.S. not only entails the above consequences, but moreover the whole world knows that it is the U.S. that took the helm and forced the RVN to sit at the conference table with North Viet Nam and the NLF. {p.369}

In view of the past disastrous consequences, and the obstacles that can be forecast, the U.S. must put an end to its absurd role in Paris and in other peace talks, the U.S. cannot use the fact that it has troops fighting in Viet Nam to maintain this negotiating role, because the American troops came to Viet Nam at the request of the GVN in order to meet a political need.

Peace talks are a way of solving problems on the political level. Only the RVN — a sovereign nation — has the unique competence to solve (its) political problems.

If one pretends that the U.S. needs to be present in order to solve the military problems, it will be all the more absurd.

Because military decisions must always depend on the political ones.

Assuming that we accept this reasoning, the U.S. only has the right to designate military representatives who participate within the RVN’s delegation. It does not have the right (to have) an equal or separate delegation.

The righteous cause of both the U.S. and the RVN lies in these details.

The RVN is ready to conclude separate agreements with the U.S. regarding the guarantees concerning the safety and the interests of the U.S. in Viet Nam. With these guarantees, the U.S. should let the RVN negotiate directly with North Viet Nam and the NLF.

(I don’t know whether the American negotiators in Paris feel ashamed when they face, not the U.S.S.R. or Communist China, but the delegates of a segment of a little country. I personally feel very ashamed over the situation of the V.N. negotiators who must sit together with the American delegation in order to talk with Vietnamese even though they are Communists.)

The Republic of Viet Nam

As for the RVN, we must be determined to put an end to the military war. But we can’t surrender to the Communists. We will accept in sequence:

(a) a total cease-fire;

(b) a number of representatives designated (chi dinh) by the NLF in the village councils, the provincial councils and in the National Assembly. The ratio of these representatives must be that of a minority.

(c) the incorporation of the NLF armed forces into the RVNAF.

(d) representatives of the NLF may stand for election to the organs provided for in the Constitution;

(e) a general election for the reunification of the two regions within 10 years;

(f) an international police organization will supervise and arbitrate the implementation of the above clauses.

Of course, such a plan must be approved by the National Assembly which will amend 1 or 2 articles of the Constitution concerning election procedures.

Once again I must stress that if we want peace, we must be realistic and make concessions.

In Italy, the Communist party is the strongest party. However, the Italian nation is still not controlled by the Communists.

In Viet Nam the Communists have not and will not triumph over us by force of arms. But they have come to the conference table with political prestige.

Why don’t we accept replacing this military struggle with a political one? We will win.

Because only when faced with a direct Communist threat will the Nationalist parties unite. The South Vietnamese people don’t like Communism and will choose the Nationalist parties immediately after terrorism and danger have ceased.


We must acknowledge that they have scored some success when they forced the U.S. to stop the bombing and come to the conference table as their equal. But results are only a possibility.

We hope that North Viet Nam and the NLF must realize that they can never conquer South Viet Nam:

(a) by force of arms. Despite the fact they have initiated the most violent attacks:

(b) by a coup d’etat. Despite the fact that many similar attempts have occurred. {p.370}

Even though the RVN has not yet defeated North Viet Nam and the NLF this year, nor next year, certainly the RVN can still continue to exterminate the Communists and prevent them from winning.

If North Viet Nam and the NLF see this reality clearly, we hope they will thrust the U.S. aside in order to sincerely seek with us a peace solution among Vietnamese, even though they are of different political views.


Assuming that peace is restored based on concessions made by the RVN, what will happen?

The NLF will become an open political party, but it must observe the Constitution, especially Article 4.

Faced with this direct and present threat, non-Communist parties will be forced to come to an agreement, make mutual concessions and form an alliance to cope with it.

The population will have the free opportunity, without fear of terrorism or danger, of choosing the side that will secure for it the greatest material welfare and spiritual guarantees.

In this environment there will certainly occur a tense competition between the non-Communist side and the NLF.

Precisely this competition will help our society progress quickly, and our fellow countrymen easily find the righteous cause.

And because of this, all open or latent conflict due to religious and regional differences among the non-Communist people will be erased. And only because they do not have a serious adversary to cope with.

In the new political struggle, the Army will no longer play the main role, but the political parties, religions and the people will have to directly and totally resist the Communists.


Many persons deem that it is unconstitutional to express the view of accepting the NLF since this Front is a tool of the NVN Communists. The Constitution clearly forbids in Article 4 as follows:

The Republic of Viet Nam opposes Communism in any form. Every activity designed to publicize or carry out Communism is prohibited.

So, when discussing the reasons why we must talk peace with the NLF or with North Viet Nam does not mean making propaganda or carrying out Communism. Provided that the above discussions only bring up realistic data and do not praise or encourage people to follow the Communists.

We ask ourselves, when the National Assembly authorizes the government to talk peace directly with North Viet Nam (authentic Communists) can this decision be interpreted as an action aimed at making propaganda or carrying out Communism or not?

Of course not.

So the proposal (and not the decision) to talk with the NLF (which is only a Communist tool) cannot be considered unconstitutional. Especially when representatives of our government are actually talking with the representatives of North Viet Nam and the NLF in Paris (despite the fact that both parties still declare they do not recognize each other).

In summary, it is unconstitutional only when the promoters of the idea renounce the RVN regime in order to demand the recognition of the NLF as a true government, but it cannot be unconstitutional only to propose the acceptance of the NLF as a political party that must observe the RVN Constitution and its incorporation into the whole RVN structure as a minority element.


In conclusion, I must define clearly once again my position concerning peace talks with North Viet Nam and the NLF as follows:

1. The concerned parties must be determined to put an end to this savage war.

2. The United States must withdraw from all peace talks with North Viet Nam and the NLF. Only when this has been done will North Viet Nam and the NLF accept direct peace talks with the RVN. {p.371}

3. The RVN will resolve with North Viet Nam the future regime of a Free and Unified Nation of Viet Nam.

4. The RVN will accept the NLF as a political party provided that it honors the Constitution. There may be some amendments to the Constitution with regard to election procedures.

5. The armed forces of the NLF must be integrated into the Armed Forces of the Republic of Viet Nam.

6. The Nationalist political parties must automatically ally to form a majority capable of checking the NLF.

7. An international force will supervise and arbitrate the implementation of the above clauses.

With the concept presented in this document, I still maintain the position of a Nationalist who puts the integrity of the body and the mind of the Vietnamese above all other ideologies or interests.

I never accept Communism, but I also never accept our subordination to a foreign country. Because subordination to either side brings the nation war and destruction as the past and the present have proven.


(Submitted By Daniel Ellsberg)



In addition to the positions that Dan Ellsberg has mentioned, I want to say a few more things about my background. I was from a very conservative religious family in the Imperial City of Hue. As a young Boy Scout in 1942 I was recruited into the Vietminh by a very outstanding leader of the International Boy Scout movement named Professor Bo. Beginning in 1942 Professor Bo organized clandestine Communist units among selected Vietnamese youth. In 1944 hand-picked youths from each province were sent to a special course in North Vietnam called The First Political Military Course. This course lasted three months and at its conclusion I was made one of the first platoon leaders in the Vietminh Liberation Army which, in 1947, was renamed the Army for the Protection of the Country. In 1945 to 1950 I served at various levels in the Liberation Army and moved up to the level of Political Commissar for the 5th Vietminh Inter-zone, which consisted of the areas from Duong Nang to the 3rd Corp in South Vietnam.

I left the Vietminh for several reasons. My conservative background made me very attached to the Royal Family and when Bao Dai returned to Vietnam, we felt we had a national patriot. Besides that, the Vietminh increasingly began to discriminate against all elements they considered unreliable, such as “bourgeoise,” Catholics and the like. A number of persons from religious backgrounds like myself left the Vietminh at that time. This was one of the major mistakes of the Vietminh — that they were unwilling to trust the inside cadre only on the basis of social origin. Another mistake was the 1946 assassination of all non-communist elements within the Nationalist movement.

First attempts at pacification

The first use of the term pacification was in 1952 when the French attempted three types of programs to clear the Vietminh from the countryside. One was in the Delta region of North Vietnam, a predominately Catholic area; the second type of French program occurred in the central coastal area, provinces such as Binh Dinh. The third took place in the Mekong Delta area. Each program was different and yet there were similar aspects: first, the launching of a military operation to clear Vietminh units from the area; secondly, the improvement and expansion of a French-type police system; thirdly, the reorganization of a village committee to take direct control of the village area. The basic failures of the French program are obvious from the outcome of the war against the Vietminh — the French defeat in 1954.

Pacification in 1961

Pacification was tried again in 1961 but this time much more fully under Vietnamese control. There was, however, substantial support from the U.S. and from advisors such as Thompson. The main element consisted in the effort of “combining a military spirit with the technical organization system.” The youth brigades organized by the South Vietnamese government were to undertake economic development activities, but also possess military combat qualities. {p.372}

There were two main failures in this 1961 program: first, an effort to do “too much too rapidly”; secondly, many of the local commanders were “intellectually hypnotized” by the instructions issued to them by Nhu’s central committee. Going too fast meant that the province chiefs were too eager for success and therefore moved on to more advanced steps in the pacification process before adequately completing the necessary preliminaries. They failed to screen the VC infrastructure out of the villages before undertaking pacification activities. There were not enough economic development activities and, thirdly, the province officials, in their haste, were not willing to persuade people to undertake the actions the government desired, but instead forced them to do various things, such as the construction of combat hamlets and the like.

During this time I was one of the province chiefs who refused to make haste merely for the sake of appearing successful to my superiors. My province, Kien Hoa at that time, also continually appeared as 36th or 37th among the provinces in the monthly progress reports that we had to file. Nevertheless, I believe the 1961 pacification program would have been a success “had it not been for the 1963 Buddhist crisis.” This crisis undermined the government at the center and made any progress in the field impossible.

In the aftermath of the November 1963 coup against Diem, the military regime declared there would be no more strategic hamlet programs and disbanded the combat youth that the Nhus had set up. Nevertheless within a short time the value of the program was seen and under a new name a new pacification effort was begun.

The 1963 pacification program

In setting up the new pacification program under the military regime, a major obstacle to be overcome was the fact that “many of those participating in the former pacification program had been physically or psychologically condemned.” They were looked upon as “Nhu people,” and felt defensive. The military said that they had collaborated with the Nhus, that they had cooperated with the Diem government and, therefore, were not reliable; yet these people such as myself and many others were the ones who had experience in pacification. Due to this psychological defensiveness, a number of the people who “joined the new pacification program did so without enthusiasm.”

Current pacification program — December 1965 to present

In discussing the current pacification program I must refer to my participation and my ideas. I do this without any sense of pride and Dan Ellsberg can verify the facts that I shall relate.

General Thang became Minister of Rural Development in December 1965 and this marked the beginning of the present pacification program. He appointed me as First Director of the Cadre Training Program because, as province chief in Kien Hoa, I had begun to work on pacification in my own way with some genuine success.

The ideas that I initiated in the first part of 1964 and found extremely useful was the census grievance program, and I shall now describe it and my reasons for initiating it.

I realized that the most important reasons for lack of success in pacification was because of the non-participation of people. This non-participation was not because the people supported the Viet Cong, because if the people had supported the Viet Cong, I would not have had the courage to continue in my activities at all. Rather they were threatened by the Viet Cong in a kind of imminent way. The Viet Cong were not there in the villages I dealt with; they were relatively secure; there were few incidents. But the people had a mental fear of the Viet Cong — an obsession. They felt the Viet Cong might always come back or could be anywhere at any time.

I set up the census grievance program because I wanted to release the people from their mental fear of the Viet Cong. The people did not have psychological confidence in our forces and the army and the PF. They always suspected that one or two people in these or any other government agencies might have secret connections with the Viet Cong, and, therefore, were afraid to give any information to the government.

The census grievance program was begun in 1963. The essential idea was that one cadre would be assigned by a province chief with a closed office in each village. Then on a regular basis this census grievance official would see all the people from {p.373} the village for an equal length of time, usually about three minutes and then he would walk out the door. So it became impossible to know who had said something to the official and who hadn’t — only the official knew.

The census grievance official would talk to the person and first begin to ask him about his family, how they were, who were his relations in the village, and what were the various members of his family doing. Secondly, he would begin to ask about whether the individual had any problems with government officials or with the soldiers, and whether he wanted anything done about these problems, or if he wanted more services, government aid of one kind or another. Thirdly, the official would ask the villager whether he had seen any suspicious activity lately, such as strangers near the village, change in the number of persons living in homes nearby or movement of supplies or goods in the area.

Once the census grievance program had begun operating for a little while, the people in the hamlet began to be supicious {sic: suspicious} but this time in a reverse sense. They no longer merely worried about whether someone was an informer for the Viet Cong or whether they were Viet Cong agents who watched and knew what their activities were. Rather they now began to wonder whether and if some of the people were informing to the government about them. No one knew whether anyone was giving any information; no one knew what kind of information might be given. But the whole procedure and the fact that nothing could be known about what went on began to have an effect on those people who were secretly members of what we called the “on-the-spot Viet Cong.” Within one month after the program began operating, seven poeple {sic: people} voluntarily left the village. These were the Viet Cong agents in the village.

In 1964 this program was so successful in my province that almost every province installed this system toward the end of 1964.

Colonel Chau’s procedures for dealing with the people’s grievances

A problem with the census grievance program was that the established authorities of the village, the police chief and the hamlet chief, etc., of course began to worry also about whether the people were informing on their activities. For that reason they were not cooperative at first and quite suspicious of the program. A problem I faced then was, “if I created jealousy between the census grievance cadre and the village chief, I would destroy the basis of the village chief’s authority.” My procedure then for dealing with complaints and grievances against the village chief was the following: (1) the census grievance cadre would put this information to the district office; (2) the district office would pass the information on to my personal staff of inspectors who would then go out and verify the fact that the grievance cited actually was occurring; (3) the inspector would report to a special committee of the province chiefs and would recommend action; (4) finally, I myself would have a talk with the village chief, explain the information and attempt to persuade him to change his ways. My purpose “was not to punish but to educate the village chiefs and to change their behavior.”

I also kept two afternoons open a week at the province capital where anyone could come and personally tell me about any problems he was having in the province. This audience with me was open to anyone, first come, first served. Another technique we used was to broadcast on a radio program. We had discussion of a problem that had occurred either in a named village or a village that was described in general. The problem would be described, then the way the case was solved, the solutions that were proposed by the province chief or adopted by the village chief as the case may be. This broadcasting of real problems and real solutions, together with the afternoon audience possibilities brought many people to see me in my office, and gave many people hope that some things could be changed.

The way I handled these fears and suspicions of the other government officials was mainly to try to talk with them, listen to their problems, listen to the concerns they had about the census grievance program. I tried to make myself available to them and help them understand that as long as they performed properly, there was nothing they need worry about. In fact, with time, many police chiefs told me that they found me far from being a threat, a valuable province chief, because at least I was accessible to them and they could talk to me about the problems they were having.

Daniel Ellsberg’s comments on the census grievance system

This entire discussion brings out a number of very interesting points. One is that information flow is felt to be very important by the Communists and Colonel Chau is one of those rare people in the GVN or American establishment who like- {p.374} wise is very concerned with promoting the accumulation of accurate information on the people whom government programs, pacification, military programs and the like are supposedly aimed at.

In Vietnam within the administrative agencies of the GVN there is generally a very high rate of personnel turnover, so there are very few people within the GVN who know anything about “their areas.” As a result of the census grievance program in Kien Huo province, however, an enormous amount of very important data had been collected and could be passed on from one hamlet village or district or province official to the next. For example, in a very simple hamlet of the province — a hamlet would consist of a number of houses with some coconut and banana trees and the like — there would be a simple thatched hut like all the others on the outside which would contain the data collected by the census grievance system. Inside this hut would be a very accurately, in fact, even artistically drawn map of the hamlet showing the property owned by each person, exactly where it was, its extent, and what was produced on that property. In addition, there would be file cards which clearly indicated the pattern of relations among people within the hamlet and among the various hamlets in the village. Further, there would be very complete listings of all relatives presumed working with the the Viet Cong, or with the GVN administrative apparatus. In addition to that, the census grievance data cards also had breakdowns of age groups, the amount of education received by various people, land holdings, and other such socio-economic information. Colonel Chau has not mentioned this purely informational aspect of the census grievance program, but as it worked out, it provided Kien Hao province with one of the few incidences of worthwhile information on the people in a local area.

One organization in Vietnam is known for backing new ideas. It backed the census grievance program in Kien Hoa province as a pilot project. Once it began working so well, it was immediately tried on a nation-wide scale. There it could not work so well for three main reasons: (1) not all province chiefs are anywhere near as good as Colonel Chau; (2) the cadre must be instructed to collect grievances and complaints about the government rather than merely to elicit information about the Viet Cong. The cadre cannot be motivated if they are to be nothing more than spies for the government; (3) there came to be an emphasis on the third part of the census grievance program — the collection of information on the Viet Cong. As a result of this, the cadre were neither as motivated nor as effective as they had been in the initial program.

But the “effectiveness of Colonel Chau’s census grievance program was not dependent on who was running it”; it did provide information. In fact, there never had been as much information as was obtained by this system. The system was by no means as good as it had been in its pilot province, but it still was effective for some purposes when extended to a national scale.

The reasons why Kien Hoa is not more secure today

Despite the success mentioned in 1964, it is correct to say that Kien Hoa province is not much more secure today than any other province in Vietnam. The reasons for this might be better understood if I describe my operations at the time a bit more.

I used the census grievance information as an input to several counterterrorist groups which I ran. These counterterrorist groups usually operated in small units of three men and were very effective in assassinating VC cadre in the area of my control. In addition to this I attempted to contact the families of persons who were working with the VC and used them as a means to bring people back to the government side.

The way I would do this was the following: once census grievance information gave us lists of people who were working with the VC, I would make a public announcement within each hamlet of the families which had a member working with the VC either in the village or elsewhere. When these families saw their names published in an open list like this, their feelings were hurt and they felt that their prestige in the community had been lessened. The whole purpose of the public announcement was to cause them some psychological shock and prepare them for visits from selected Chieu Hoi cadre who then came in and spoke with the family. These Chieu Hoi tried to convince the family that they should make an effort to get their VC members back. Usually the families then tried to get the VC members back. They would either talk to them when the VC members visited them, or they would communicate by writing or in some other way. Whether the {p.375} family was successful or not, the net effect of this was demoralizing for the Viet Cong members because they saw their families’ loyalty disappear and felt themselves more alone in the movement.

Furthermore, the family’s position and its unity before had been quite secure. They had a member working with the Viet Cong but no one really knew for sure, and they did not feel they had to hide anything. But with the publication of the list, the family began to feel insecure. That was the reason for their emotional shock — that was the reason they felt sorry they had a VC member in the family. And once the family felt insecure like this, they didn’t want the VC members to come back as often, so the whole arrangement of membership in the Viet Cong became a much less comfortable affair for the Viet Cong member. He couldn’t simply return to his family and be equally comfortable in the government side as well as the Viet Cong side of the Vietnamese scene.

Now to return to the reasons for the deterioration of the security of Kien Hoa province. First, the census grievance no longer worked after I left. Secondly, the counter-terrorist groups did not work because my successor decided to consolidate the small 3-man units, first into platoon and then even into company size. Thirdly, I had had support from eminent people in my province from the Catholics from the Hoa Hoa, from the Cao Dai, and so forth, but my successor could not obtain their support.

The reason for that is because I went around the province a lot by jeep and bicycle. I kept in constant touch with the villages and hamlets and with the officials, and I tried to be very sure to visit the hospital, both civil as well as military patients, and the prisons, at least once a week. My successor did not do this — the people made an unfavorable comparison and he did not receive their support as I have. “The failure of pacification is not due to military arrangements.”

Six steps to pacification — Chau’s program

When I ask people, Vietnamese or American, what is the end object of pacification, the answer always is something like, winning the hearts and minds of the people so that they will support the government. To me this is no objective at all. It merely permits all commanders on all levels of government to do what they wish.

When I hear an objective like this, I say that there is no pacification program. It’s too vague.

The objective of pacification should be people’s self-defense. By this I mean that: Ideologically as well as militarily, people must be convinced that they cannot stand as neutrals. They must either go with the Communists or with the government.

I will never consider a hamlet as pacified as long as the people are willing to protect themselves. No place in Vietnam can be considered as pacified in this sense at the present. There are only secure places which are secure because of the presence of military forces.

Now what will make people willing to defend themselves? That will occur only when people are running their own affairs. And how can this be obtained? This can be obtained when elections are really desired by the people, rather than merely imposed on them as it has happened so often in the past.

Local people’s organizations

Elections will be desired by the people only when they have their roots in the understanding that government can do something for them. People’s organizations exist in Vietnam as elsewhere in the world. “These organizations train people to respond to community spirit.”

Farmers realize farmers belong to a farmers’ association because it helps them with their crops. They then learn about representation and government when they realize that they can’t devote their own time to running the farmers’ organization, so they must appoint a representative to run the organization for them.


Improve living standard of people

To make local people’s organizations really important, they must do something tangible for the people. What I mean by improving the living standard is an improvement in economic conditions and also an improvement in their dignity. The people are most concerned with things like justice, fairness, protection, and the like. The city and town people care the most about dignity and justice. People in the country are most concerned with economic development and, in fact, {p.376} wouldn’t really understand any system that was supposed to guarantee them justice. They would see justice not in any set of procedures but merely in the way things are run.

This is where AID programs should come in — they should be brought in at this level — at the village hamlet level — to improve the economic conditions of the people.

Why have so many AID programs failed to work? Because most of the people working were technicians and they were only technicians — they did not use economic aid for political purposes in the villages and hamlets. Also, they did not really understand the local political situation and so often were taken in by the people who used economic aid for their self-interest.

Investigation into local natural leaders

For that reason it is important to know who are the most influential people in the community, that is, who are the people who can really have an impact on the people and get them to use new economic and agricultural techniques. For the most part, AID technicians don’t know this and neither do Vietnamese. This must be found out by doing a thorough investigation of this before putting in economic aid.

Confidence of the people

By confidence of the people I mean two things: first, security from the Viet Cong and, secondly, proper behavior of the GVN. These things are necessary before anything can be done in the community.

Now in Vietnam all of these six things have been done, but they have never been done together in one place at one time and they haven’t been done in the proper sequence. The sequence of events is all-important if the end result is to be the people’s self-defense as I have outlined it. The sequence must be as follows: 1) confidence; 2) investigation of leaders; 3) improvement of living standards; 4) local people’s organizations; 5) local elections; and 6) people’s self-defense.


You have asked me to talk about the good and bad aspects of pacification in 1966 and 1967. The good aspects were the following two: first, there was a definite pacification program; secondly, we made strenuous efforts to implement the pacification program, and finally, we made some efforts to evaluate its success and failures. It was only toward the end of 1966 that we in the Ministry of Rural Development were able to convince the Vietnamese military of the need for pacification.

Question. What lessons did you learn about pacification in 1966?

The most important failure was “the improper selection of areas to be pacified.” Our failure was that we tried to make too rapid progress and we neglected the district towns and other areas that were marked as secure. The point was that only in a few pacified areas that had been considered insecure before 1966 could district and local officials show any real progress in pacification. So we neglected the central towns and district capitals, etc., and other such secure areas, and concentrated our pacification efforts on the areas just outside the secure areas.

The bureaucratic process of selecting areas to be pacified

In theory, suggestions of areas to be pacified was by the suggestion of the district chief, but in fact the province chief told the district chiefs which hamlets to select. Andt he {sic: And the} province chief was told by the corps commander or division commander which area to pacify and his main purpose was to extend the secure areas.

But this description of the actual process by which areas were selected is not quite accurate.

In practice pacifications areas were selected sometimes by the district chief, sometimes by the province chief, and sometimes by the divisional corp commander.

Impact of bureaucratic, economic and other interests on the selection of areas to be pacified

Actually the selection of areas to be pacified did not depend so much on the matter of tangible interests, but rather was more related to the “concept the various people had of pacification.” {p.377}

The province chief usually selected areas on a political basis. I selected my areas on the basis of these factors: (1) Whether there was enough security. This is the most important factor — security enough for the pacification teams to work. (2) The manpower factor, meaning the number of people living there. I used this as a guideline to how important the area was. (3) The existence of notable people who could mobilize people to participate in pacification programs. (4) My estimate of the sympathy of people in the area to be pacified and if it would be possible to win them over.

Many Vietnamese government institutions talk about the criteria of selection for pacification but say nothing about the final objectives for pacification.

It is impossible to select areas or to establish criteria for selection without a clear idea of the real objectives for pacification.

The ABC area concept

Consider three concentric rectangles with the inside one the first one, the A area; the second one the B area, and third one the C area. Assume that the A area marks the immediate location of hamlets and villages around a major district or province town. According to my ideas, the A area is the place where one should begin working on pacification, that is, it is secure enough for the pacification forces to work in, and now with additional effort, one tries to get the people to organize their own self-defense — the end objective of pacification as I have mentioned earlier.

Under those circumstances one deploys pacification personnel in the A area; the B area we will call the contested area, and in that, military deployment is needed to keep the Viet Cong out of the A area. And, in the C area we’ll call that the Viet Cong-controlled, the Viet Cong may have large forces, bases, and hideouts.

(Comment by Ellsberg:  The current situation is that people in A areas haven’t taken sides, and an area is secure only when it is saturated with troops. The people in these “secure” areas are passive; they don’t cooperate with the government in their defense; they haven’t been forced to take sides in the manner that Chau envisions. A major reason the government doesn’t want to work in the A areas is because this will not permit statistical display of progress since the areas are already called “secure.”)

My overall strategy is to move out from a number of relatively secure areas within a province, deploying pacification cadre first in the A areas, then to the B areas, and so forth, hoping to link up several foci so that the net area that might be called truly pacified grows and becomes connected together.

The strategy called for spreading out from many centers of security. It is not possible to begin with one area and then continually enlarge the sphere of security because that would mean in effect abandoning many districts and province towns that are now relatively secure. If people are abandoned who already have, in effect, sided with the government, the effect may be disastrous. To do that and concentrate all efforts in one area and then spread out would be giving up much too much. The Viet Cong would take over all the areas that had been left, of course.

(Comment by Pauker:  Whether a single center or many overall strategies are adopted probably depends on popular attitudes. If areas are secure only because there are lots of troops there, but the people really haven’t made any commitment of any kind to the government or might even be leaning toward the VC, then theoretically not much is lost by withdrawing to a single area and concentrating resources in order to begin spreading out from there. If, on the other hand, people in the other centers of pacification activity, have in a sense come to depend on the government or trust it, or what not, then withdrawing could be catastrophic.)

AreaCurrent deployment Chau’s preferred deployment
AARVN base A popular self-defense force plus (presumably) RD cadre
BSome ARVN, some U.S. troops, some PF   A uniform police force — field police which had absorbed the RF and PF, and the urban police force
CNone — or popular force; regional force ARVN operations in the “C” area

In effect, my concept of military operations reverses the current situation. Right now the popular forces in the C area in effect protect ARVN which huddles in the district and province towns of the A area. I would make the deployment as {p.378} indicated (see page 25) and give political control of the A and B areas to the province chief, while leaving ARVN in control of the C area. The C area, then, would be the primary field of ARVN operations with the uniform police handling police and security functions in the A and B areas.

(Comment by Menges:  Has Chau or anyone else made any preliminary estimates of the extent to which the ABC area concept in reality reflects the security situation in South Vietnam? Might it not be that there are corridors or patches of B and C areas within a larger A area, or vise versa? Or, put another way, I might ask whether the A, B, and C areas are mere constructs or whether they are meant to reflect geographically contiguous regions. Does geography here really matter? Partially I’ll answer my own question by saying that since force deployment and political authority is involved, territorial units are basic to Chau’s scheme. The notion of ARVN operating in a C area which crosses through A or B areas or of having uniform police operate in a defined A area while one-half mile away the C area is left to ARVN, and so forth, seems completely absurd. In other words, since the concept does depend in broad measure on the security situation in South Vietnam, being divisible into more or less contiguous if not necessarily concentric A-, B-, or C-type areas, the first question that needs to be answered is whether this, in fact, is the case in South Vietnam. It also seems logical to ask whether Chau or anyone else has tried any variant of this scheme.)


Organization of youth as a strategy

Question. Might it not now be time and in fact essential to begin the organisation of semitotalitarian youth groups similar to the young communists or Hitler Youth as a way of building an anti-Communist cadre?

It is not possible in Vietnam to extract one group from the society and deal with it alone as was done in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union or in Communist Cuba. Programs of this type have failed in the past because the indoctrination did not include the parents, relatives and other elements of the society that are essential since the youth will not simply follow an organization alone. Also, in order to have indoctrination it is necessary to have a doctrine.

Question. But for the very young children, eight, nine, and ten years old, the doctrine can be relatively simple anti-communist, and youth and sport associations can be the means by which subtly a gradual measure of indoctrination occurs.

Well, the French tried to do exactly this in the mid-1940s. They formed many sport organizations and the like in order to get youth to use up energy and not think about nationalism and other such ideas. But in fact it had precisely the reverse effect; I was in the Boy Scouts as I mentioned before and other youth and sport associations, but when we went out to the countryside bicycling and other such things, we enjoyed it but this did not leave us satisfied. We, in a sense, became more energetic because of these organizations, became more disciplined, more concerned about the society and, in fact, ultimately we became more nationalistic.

In Vietnam many youth organizations have been tried since 1954. Many were formed and many have been disbanded. Diem’s approach was the Republican youth and this ended in 1963. As I mentioned, Vietnamese will join if they are told to join something, but that isn’t the same thing as being truly committed.

Comments on ARVN

Responding to the question of the quality of the officer corps of ARVN, I would make the following breakdown: NCOs, 90 percent are good; company commanders, that is, lieutenants and second lieutenants about 80 percent; captains, 70 percent good; majors, about 60 to 50 percent; then colonels and generals from 20 to 15 percent good. In other words, the higher the rank, the lower the political morale and military quality of the persons who hold them.

Reasons for the GVN’s neglect of the people

The major reason the people are neglected by the GVN is what I shall call facilities and resources aspect of the situation. On the government’s side all facilities and resources come from the state — they come from outside the people, it seems, while on the VC side, it is necessary to get all these facilities and resources directly from the people, so they are not able to ignore the people.

This is a fundamental difference — one side is directly and clearly tied to the people. It understands this — the Communists know that unless they are able to extract and coerce and voluntarily get resources from people, they will have nothing. On the government side, though, it seems that the people’s cooperation is not directly necessary for anything. {p.379}

The Vietminh did not steal from the people, not because of communist ideology and other high-blown reasons, but due to “practical necessity.” They knew that they would have to get supplies from the people tomorrow, so, if they were to steal one time, they understood that the people would immediately begin to hide all the supplies from them, and they would not have a second, third, or fourth opportunity to steal from the people. The Vietminh knew this even though they might have been willing to use force. If they stole or were too rough with the people, they would simply not be able to find the supplies they needed. They wouldn’t even be able to buy the supplies they needed.

Main problems at the top echelons of the South Vietnamese government

After the fall of Diem in 1963, there were in reality three powers in South Vietnam: ARVN, United States, and the Viet Cong.

That means for the South Vietnamese government there were in effect two two powers, and the dramatic situation is that no one seems to be the real leader. Americans expect initiative and performance from the Vietnamese; they wait for the Vietnamese to act. At the same time the Vietnamese expect ideas, initiative, and leadership from the United States.

Many of the natural leaders in South Vietnam expected various things from the United States while the U.S. people did not want to take over the real leadership for obvious reasons. As the situation now is, no one acts as a leader.

The Americans interfere but not enough to get anything really done; and the Vietnamese initiate but they don’t follow through in doing anything.

Question. Perhaps you could take the 1966 pacification program and give us a case study description of the way these problems work at the top.

The situation in the rural development ministry was the following: General Thang was in charge of the program. Colonel Lok was his deputy and he was in charge of what I would call “routine” operations, that is, getting the supplies there on time, taking care of running the day-to-day things. Colonel Quang had to handle the budget; his role was to decide how much went into each of the various programs, and I was in charge of the rural operations and the rural development cadre program. In effect it meant that there were two people who had a planning role; these were myself and Geneal {sic: General} Thang.

Question. For example, how did the Ministry of Rural Development go about getting budget support — what bureaucratic allies did it have; who were the opponents of the Rural Development Ministry?

Here the United States’ role was very important. The Americans felt that this was a very good idea and they were willing to give almost the complete budget of 3 billion piasters.

Comment by Menges:  Despite various efforts, it was difficult to get Colonel Chau to talk about elite politics even within the tangible context of the pacification program. Another effort was made later by Ellsberg in the discussion, and this did not meet with greater success in getting Colonel Chau to trace out the full play of elite politics.

Question. What is wrong with ARVN leadership in your opinion?

First, there is too much difference in the treatment among different ranks from General to Colonel to Major and down in the officer corps. The salaries are not too different, but the Generals and Colonels have government houses, cars, drivers, and all sorts of special funds. Captains, Lieutenants, Majors don’t have government housing, don’t have cars, and the like. Secondly, the promotion system is not terribly fair.

We have a Board of Promotion and everything, but despite that every General has to deal with other Generals to survive, so promotions are actually handled in the following way — if you want your men to be promoted, you have to promote those the other Generals suggest.

So when the promotion list comes around, tradition is that two-thirds of those suggested by each General actually get promoted. And all the Generals cooperate with each other on this. “So officers realize that they have to make a choice to stay with one General or another.” If his career goes up, they go up; if he goes down, they go down.

This was the situation until 1965, but since then the system has gotten better. Promotion, in other words, has been mainly based on political concerns, not ability. Every officer realizes that he must have “an influential affiliation” if he is going to get ahead.

Comment by Menges:  There was no chance to ask Chau how/why the system had gotten better in the last two years. This might be worth exploring. {p.380}

Comments on GVN elite politics

Question. As a case study of the political process in South Vietnam, could you describe to us how one might attempt to go about changing the promotion system at the upper levels of ARVN? What might the role of the National Assembly be of the United States, etc.?

The Americans didn’t like Diem so they withdrew support from him and gave it to Khanh and then to one general after another. It seems that the Americans keep looking for people. They try to impose leaders who fit their conception of leadership. Sometimes one feels that the Americans look on Vietnam as a very primitive country and they think that if they impose a suitable leader, all would be well.

There are three choices for Vietnam: a communist system, a mixed democracy-dictatorial system, or a real democratic system. We have already tried choices one and two. The communist system has failed in the North and it would have the same bad effects in the South. The mixed system under Diem was clearly unsuccessful, therefore, it is now time that we tried a genuine democratic system.

In South Vietnam at the present time neither the government nor the legislature is all-powerful. There is some sort of balance held by the United States. The legislature represents the sympathy of the people but cannot in any way mobilize their active support. While the government represents the desperate choice of the people but does not have their active support in any sense.

So the United States has to support the democratic system in Vietnam. It has to make clear to the generals and to the government of South Vietnam that it will support the principle and practice of the current constitution of South Vietnam. Right now there is some degree of danger in being a member of the legislature as I am and attempting to bring about reforms and changes in the central government. You will recall the assassination of one leading figure in the constituent assembly. I will continue to try but I won’t try too hard because I realize that if arrested I’m not doing anybody any good, least of all myself. For me it is very important that I know that the United States will defend, not me personally, but the principle of legislative government if anything should happen to me. There are other people like me who are more likely to be willing to take chances in attempting to reform the system if they believe that the United States government will support the constitutional system.

Comment from Menges:  There was then an approximately one hour discussion on the military aspects of local operations. This is not recorded here.

Reformist elements in ARVN

The captains and the majors are most important and reformist oriented. There are two types of captains and majors. There are the youth who have just become captains and majors, and then there is another large group of officers who had been passed over at promotion several times.

Main changes desired in the GVN

One, a better balance between executive and legislature. Two, the encouragement of a loyal opposition. Three, integration of Buddhists with the government. Since their defeat in 1966, the GVN has done nothing to win over Buddhist leadership and bring about greater cooperation with the organized Buddhist community.

This is an important element that is not at all understood by the current South Vietnamese leadership. Although one of the Buddhist leaders such as Tri Quang may have only 5 percent of his followers who would really obey his orders and become active politically at his distinct request, the other 95 percent would, if Tri Quang were persecuted, immediately move against the government. They would withdraw all support and collaboration with the government; that is, though they probably would fight against it, the government would have lost their support. This is what the government does not understand, that by failing to make efforts at symbolic unity with more of the factions and groups in South Vietnam, it is losing any chance of bringing the various followers of the movements and people and groups into any kind of active collaboration with it. This doesn’t mean, of course, that these same people would collaborate with the Viet Cong. But in any case they are lost to the government.

Question. Why is there no effort to organize these other political elements in South Vietnam by the generals?

Two reasons: first, the government people feel that these various opposition leaders have no real following. They think there’s no reason to take the trouble {p.381} to win them over politically because they can neither help them nor hurt them. Secondly, it is a matter of interest.

It is not possible to bring people in unless you give them something. I am not even speaking of economic interests in this case. If the generals want to bring leaders of other groups into Vietnamese politics, they have to share power and authority. They are afraid to share any power.

Question. Could you, without naming specific names, describe some of the elements of the circles of the power that surround the generals you mentioned?

These might be of many kinds, for example, there might be a general who has five province chiefs who are essentially his. Another general might have three ministries.

General Thang’s resignation

Question. Could you tell us something about some of the obstacles to the reform program that General Thang attempted and the reason he resigned?

A very complex story with many sides. The generals could probably accept the reform plan of General Thang, but they did not want to accept it from him. The reason for this is that they believed that this whole reform scheme was essentially an American plan and that they gave it to General Thang. The South Vietnamese generals believed this was an American plan to let General Thang be successful as a reformer in order to have him take over as the Premier in South Vietnam. In other words, the Americans were getting reader to switch leaders again and for that reason the current group wanted to make sure that General Thang would not be successful. But I think that the reform plan will be adopted by the generals.

Comment by Menges:  Chau was very reluctant to go into this in any greater detail on this day. Nor did he the next day when I tried to get him to speak further on these topics. Partly I believe this is a matter of ignorance on exactly how the generals operate. Partly it seems to be a matter of discretion, or desire to limit the information he gives us. Ellsberg would have a better sense of which it might be. Chau had mentioned earlier that there is a classmate circle of people who had graduated from the same military academy at the same time; these include Ky, Loan, and about four others. All graduated from Nahm Birth Academy in the early 1950s.



The Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C., February 11, 1970.

Translation (French)

[From Le Monde, July 7, 1969, pp. 1 and 2]


(By Jean-Claude Pomonti)

SAIGON, July 5. — Does President Thieu’s regime, in spite of intentions aired and numerous concessions on fundamentals made in the course of the last eight months, sincerely consider a compromise with the NLF; i.e., as a first step, a living together under the same roof with his adversaries? A growing number of Saigon politicians doubt it and have for some time been accusing the regime more and more openly of opposing any peace initiative not originating from the government, and especially, of trying to silence the liberal groups rather than to make them partners in its enterprises. This is the impression at least that prevailed again Friday night, when the proceedings brought against some twenty persons accused of treason or corresponding with the enemy ended in service punishment in the form of imprisonment and hard labor.

This case began with a scenario that the Vietnamese have known only too well from a quarter century of war and dissension. Captain Tran Ngoc Hien, a Viet Cong officer and an old hand at intelligence — 22 years of service, as he said himself, not without pride, in the course of the trial — went back to Saigon in 1964, probably on a mission. He contacted his family and friends: his wife and his three children who live in Vinh Long, in the Delta; his brother, Tran Ngoc Chau, Deputy and Secretary General of the National Assembly: a cousin, Mr. Vo Dinh Cuong, one of the Buddhist Youth leaders of the An-Quang Pagoda; as well as Mr. Nguyen Lau, the well-known publisher of the moderately anti-Communist Saigon Daily News.

Last April, Captain Hien, Mr. Vo Dinh Cuong, and Mr. Nguyen Lau, were arrested and accused of “treason”, as were some twenty confederates. Did he know about Captain Hien’s activities? Did the latter use his kin and his childhood {p.382} friends without their knowledge? Mr. Nguyen admitted in April that he suspected something, that he should have reported Captain Hien instead of sending him a letter from his paper, but that he could not make up his mind to do so, as Mr. Hien was both a childhood pal and a comrade from the anti-French Resistance of 1946-1947. On Friday he pleaded not guilty and denied having known about Captain Hien’s activities, stating that his previous testimony was worthless.


“I was isolated in a cell, I heard people cry, I finally gave up”, he said before the military tribunal. Captain Hien’s testimony was to the same effect: an old officer like myself, he said in substance, is not going to entrust his secrets to just anybody, even if he is a friend. In short, the very type of case in which evidence is lacking and from which the most contradictory conclusions may be drawn according to whether one looks at it from the viewpoint of state of war or of peace. The military tribunal then settled it: hard labor for life for Captain Hien, 25 years of hard labor for another NLF agent (Mrs. Paulette Quoi), five years in prison for Messrs. Nguyen Lau and Vo Dinh Cuong, various penalties for the other defendants.

The case became complicated because Captain Hien’s brother, Deputy Tran Ngoc Chau, published during the trial, on Friday afternoon a statement implying that the contacts he had with his brother had a highly political bent. “In April 1968, I suggested to Hien”, he said to us Saturday morning, “that I go to Hanoi with a parliamentary delegation to set up discussions between Hanoi and Saigon.

“Hien came back to see me in June 1968, to tell me that the North Vietnam leaders were ready to meet with us at Hanoi or in Laos, but as visitors and not as officials. Shortly thereafter, in August, I submitted a petition to the Assembly carrying 74 signatures (or, the majority of the deputies) in favor of direct negotiations between the two Vietnams. As the Assembly showed itself hesitant, but did not reject this proposal, I asked Hien, who knew the principal leaders of the North very well, again whether Hanoi would accept receiving a joint delegation — of deputies accompanied by high-ranking persons — by stressing the necessity of receiving us as representatives of the South Vietnamese people. He answered that this would be difficult and, after an absence of 20 hours, he came back to see me to tell me that the North was maintaining its position: visitors but not officials. He added that if we would make new proposals we would perhaps be received in an official capacity. In January, I then presented a peace plan (see the statement made to Le Monde on January 18, 1969), but it got such an unfavorable reception in Saigon that I did nothing more until my brother’s arrest.”


Were President Thieu and the Americans aware of these leads? On this point, Mr. Tran Ngoc Chau refused to answer: “It is a question of honor”, he said to us simply, to justify this refusal. These revelations, if they are comfirmed {sic: confirmed} — Mr. Chau is expecting a categoric denial from North Vietnam — are a rather good illustration of the difficulties encountered by those who try to facilitate talks in Saigon between the different partners, thus drawing the most logical conclusions from the opening of negotiations in Paris.

It seems that the Saigon government hardly appreciates this attitude, as they are intentions, suggestions, or, especially, initiatives of which it itself is not the originator. Beyond a process that shows to what point the Vietnamese can be torn, after 20 years of war, between their convictions, their constraints, their aspirations, their past, and their friendships, another process is beginning: Do the Saigon leaders hope to convince anyone of their willingness to negotiate a compromise solution if they continue to persecute the proponents of such a solution, and those who, because of circumstances, do nothing to prevent its materialization?

Another Deputy, Mr. Ly Qui Chung, whose paper was closed down three weeks ago, issued a “warning” in other words. He stated to a group of journalists: “Only one voice is accepted, that of the diehards. The politicians are threatened, the newspapers are closed down. If the government persists in this attitude, it will gather strength in its isolation, and the opposition will be pushed more and more toward the NLF. That is what happened last year: non-Communists, students in particular, came over from the other side because they had no other {p.383} way of participating in the national cause. We do not want the overthrow of the government. We only ask for the right to express a different point of view for the sake of true opposition, and not solely for the sake of the false opposition of those who do not dare tackle the real problems.”

Back from Midway on June 9, President Thieu declared that there would be “neither a cabinet of peace nor a government of coalition or reconciliation”. Can the regime maintain, without reflecting upon the “good will” to which it lays claim, such an intransigence at home as the first American troops are leaving Vietnam, when the United States is inviting it publicly, as Mr. Rogers again did on Friday, unambiguously, to make new peace overtures; when the war has been falling off for two weeks almost to the point of ex-extinction; in short, when the diplomatic and military requirements for the beginning of serious negotiations are satisfied perhaps for the first time?

In eight months of negotiations, the contradiction has only become accentuated, and it is now the crux of the dispute.

J. C. Pomonti.

Translated by Elizabeth Hanunian.


[From the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, Dec. 28, 1969]


(By Arthur J. Dommen)

SAIGON. — One of South Vietnam’s worst political crises in recent years heads for a showdown Tuesday and the outcome could have a critical impact on the political future of President Nguyen Van Thieu.

At that time the lower house of the National Assembly is scheduled to vote on a resolution to condemn three of its members for pro-Communist activities. The vote could pave the way for stripping the members of their constitutional immunity from prosecution.

Thieu was the prime mover in bringing the charges against the deputies. He has virtually staked his prestige on the outcome of the vote. The issue has resulted in a confrontation between a president zealous in stifling Communist and neutralist sympathies and a legislative body jealous of its constitutional prerogatives.

It has even raised the possibility of impeachment proceedings against Thieu a move that could elevate a super warhawk, vice president Nguyen Cao Ky, to the nation’s highest office.

The latest development was the disclosure Saturday that a nine-member assembly committee completed a three-week study of the case and supported — by a single vote — Theiu’s allegations against the three deputies. The vote was four to three with two abstentions. It is the committee’s resolution condemning the deputies that will be submitted to the assembly Tuesday.

The closeness of the vote, according to observers here, make it doubtful that Thieu will be able to muster the required three-fourths vote in the house needed to lift the three members’ immunity.

The investigation into the accusations turned into a Thieu-assembly confrontation last Dec. 10 when Thieu hinted that if the house did not act to purge itself of elements suspected of Communist connections the “army and people” might take matters into their own hands.

This remark apparently spurred the demonstration Dec. 20 in which several hundred youths and old women invaded the house to demand action against the three deputies.

The lower house has been strongly supported by the upper house in denouncing the incident as an illegal act. President Thieu was forced to promise a house delegation that there would be no repetition of the demonstration.

Meanwhile, in other developments:

Thieu’s presidential adviser, Nguyen Cao Thang, a millionaire pharmacist who has played an active role in Thieu’s relations with the National Assembly and who made an unsuccessful attempt to contact the South Vietnam National Liberation Front in Paris last March on behalf of Thieu, reportedly met with the 35-member pro-government Dan Tien bloc in the 136-member lower house. Thang was apparently trying to line up support for passage of the resolution Tuesday. {p.384}

The chairman of the house information and press committee charged that the accusations against the three deputies was part of a plot aimed at diverting public attention from a Presidential Palace spy scandal.


The Information Ministry suspended the newspaper Chanh Dao, a daily closely identified with the Buddhist church and one of the three accused deputies, on the eve of publication of a lengthy article on the case.

In the resolution considered by the lower house commission, one of the three deputies, Pham The Truc, 29, was condemned on five counts.

He accused the Saigon government of dictatorship, militarism, repression and exploitation of the people at a press conference in Tokyo last summer. He proposed a settlement of the war along the lines of Communist proposals and demanded that the United States withdraw all its troops from South Vietnam and cease it ssupport {sic: its support} of the Saigon government, as demanded by the Communists.

Truc was charged with supporting the Communist-backed Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. He advocated the formation of a coalition government with the South Vietnam National Liberation Front, and demanded the overthrow of the Thieu regime.

Tht {sic: That} resolution stated that Truc was guilty of violating Article 25 of the 1967 constitution, which says “every citizen has the duty to defend the fatherland and the republic.”


The resolution charged deputy Hoang Hoa Ho, 43, with being in “close relations” with Le Huu Thuy and Vu Ngoc Nha, convicted members of a Communist spy ring that extended into the Presidential Palace.

The third deputy, former province chief and Revolutionary Development program director Tran Ngoc Chau, 45, was condemned for having contacts with his brother while the latter was working as an agent for North Vietnam.

It also condemns Chau for giving financial and other assistance to his brother.

Chau has publicly admitted the contacts with his brother and defended them on the grounds he could not have refused to meet his brother again after a separation of 16 years. He has denied being a double agent, and has said the small acts of assistance he performed on his brother’s behalf did nothing to harm national security.

At his press conference Friday, house press chief Ngo Cong Duc defended Chau, saying “the majority of the deputies believe Chau is a nationalist who opposes this government.”

Chau was once close to Thieu. However, after his election to the house, Chau consistently criticized Thieu’s policies and made several proposals for the opening of negotiations to end the war. He also accused Thang of using presidential funds to bribe the National Assembly.


In an interview with the government-controlled Vietnam Press Agency last Oct. 27, Thang described Chau as “a left-behind communist cadre in the National Assembly” and said he thought Chau should be tried for treason.

In a possibly related move, the senate Friday voted to cut by 50 million piasters ($423,700) the 400 million piasters ($3,389,600) in South Vietnam’s national budget earmarked as the president’s special fund for which he does not have to account.

The National Assembly has been divided up to now on most issues and Thieu has had to handle the two chambers delicately to get them to pass his legislation, even in the most favorable conditions.

He has usually succeeded in having his way. But this time Thieu appears to have united a majority of the lower house on an issue that involves the self-preservation of the house itself.

If Thieu fails to obtain satisfaction on the score of the three deputies, he can fall back on Article 4 of the constitution, which states “every activity designed to publicize or carry out communism is prohibited.”

But if he accuses the three deputies of being in violation of Article 4, he leaves himself open to a similar accusation himself by the National Assembly, and there is growing talk in the assembly of impeaching him. {p.385}

This is because it is now known that Thieu sent Thang to Paris last March in a secret attempt to enter into contact with the NLF delegation there. Presumably, the aim was to set up private talks to discuss a political settlement beyond the propaganda blasts exchanged between the Saigon delegation and the NLF delegation across the conference table at the weekly meetings at the Hotel Majestic.

Thang’s attempt, made through French Foreign Minister Michel Debre, is known to have failed.

Now, argue some of the deputies, Thieu’s secret effort to open contacts with the NLF did much more to harm national security than the occasional friendly contacts between one of his province chiefs with his brother on the other side, a situation common in Vietnam’s civil war.

The attempt to make contact in Paris put the communists on notice that their principal antagonist, the leader they had vowed to overthrow, was anxious to talk, about a settlement of the war.

Some deputies even go so far as to say, in private, that Thieu may have been intent on seeking to make a private deal with the communists that would have preserved his position, although there exists no evidence of such an effort.


This is why there has been talk of impeachment, particularly if Chau survives the vote Tuesday.

Chau is a member of an 11-member special court that has the power to impeach the president for treasonable activities. Ten of the 11 members of the special court are members of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

Chau has maintained that if he were found guilty of violating the constitution because of his meetings with his brother, then there would be even more reason to consider Thieu guilty because of the president’s attempts to meet the NLF represenatives in Paris.

Chau, Truc and Ho are all protected by parliamentary immunity under Articles 37 and 38 of the constitution.

Thieu can declare martial law and suspend the constitution. But this would seriously undercut the Saigon government’s negotiating position at the Paris conference, since it is based on the premise the Saigon government is the legal product of free elections and a freely chosen constitution. The provisional revolutionary government proclaimed by the NLF is considered illegal and has no constitution.

Suspension of the constitution would also automatically undercut the U.S. negotiating position in Paris, which is that the only nonnegotiable issue in South Vietnam is the right of the South Vietnamese people to self-determination.

Thus, it appears Thieu is rapidly heading for an impasse on the legal and constitutional aspects of the current crisis.

The political effect of Thieu’s confrontation with the National Assembly seems to be splitting the entire country at a time when national unity would appear to be the overriding necessity.

The accused deputies are Buddhists, and they are being placed on trial in a forum in which the country’s Catholic minority has a disproportionate share of power. The National Assembly is heavily weighted in favor of the Catholics because the militant Buddhists virtually boycotted the 1967 elections.

Thieu, because he is a Catholic, is vulnerable to the old suspicion that the South Vietnamese had of his predecessor, President Ngo Dinh Diem — he is favoring the better organized Catholic minority over the poorly organized Buddhist majority.

The current case is likely to deepen that suspicion and risks splitting the country. The persons who demonstrated against the three deputies in Saigon and other cities, at a time when all demonstrations are forbidden by the government, were mainly Catholics.

Three of the four deputies who voted in favor of be commission resolution condemning the accused are northern Catholics, who have made a political slogan of their anticommunism.

Now a Buddhist newspaper has been closed by an information minister who is widely known to have been a member of Diem’s secret Can Lao Party and is sympathetic to the anticommunist line in the Catholic sense of the word.

This is why, politically, Thieu risks provoking the Buddhists into a new upheaval on the scale of the 1963 rebellion against Diem which led directly to Diem’s downfall. {p.386}



[From the Washington Evening Star, Feb. 2, 1970]


(By Keyes Beech)

SAIGON — A South Vietnamese legislator accused of pro-Communist sympathies said today the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency offered him money to finance a political party but the deal fell through because the CIA wanted him to support President Nguyen Van Thieu.

Tran Ngoc Chau, 46-year-old national assemblyman, said two CIA men approached him more than a year ago and told him they would supply the funds if he would launch his own party.

Chau, who formerly had close ties with the CIA, said he considered the proposal but failed to reach agreement because of his stand that the Saigon government should open negotiations with the National Liberation Front, the political arm of the Viet Cong.

Officially at least, Thieu is bitterly opposed to negotiations with the NLF. He has accused Chau of being a “tool of communism” because the latter did not denounce his brother, a convicted Communist spy. Chau and Thieu were once close friends and as newly married young officers shared a house.

Chau declined to name the two CIA men who came to see him “because they were my friends and I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

But Chau is disenchanted with the Americans, especially the CIA, because, he says, they have refused to intervene in his behalf to clear him of Thieu’s charges that he is a Communist. Chau swears he told CIA friends about his meetings with his brother in the mid-1960s. U.S. intelligence sources denied this.

“If this is a sample of the way the Americans treat their Vietnamese friends,” Chau said, “I wonder about the future of thousands of other Vietnamese who have co-operated with the Americans.”

Chau, who has been on the run for several weeks out of fear of arrest or assassination, was interviewed in a secret hideout outside Saigon.

No formal charges have been brought against Chau. However, he has been under heavy pressure since Thieu’s forces sought a three-fourths vote in the assembly to strip him and two other legislators of their parliamentary immunity so they can be tried for alleged Communist leanings.

Chau is a former province chief and once was in charge of all revolutionary development cadres in South Vietnam. The revolutionary development program was backed by CIA.

After first adopting a “hands off” attitude, Ambassador Ellsworth C. Bunker reportedly asked Thieu to soften his campaign against Chau because it was hurting the president’s political image in the United States.


[From the Washington Post, Feb. 5, 1970]


(By Robert G. Kaiser)

SAIGON. Feb. 4 — South Vietnam’s House of Representatives has authorized President Thieu to prosecute two legislators whom he has accused of consorting illegally with Communists.

One hundred and two of the House’s 135 members have signed a petition empowering the government to prosecute their two colleagues, who would normally have a Vietnamese version of congressional immunity. There is some dispute about the legality of the petition, but it seems virtually certain that the government will use it to bring the legislators to trial.

The Vietnamese constitution stipulates that no member of the National Assembly can be prosecuted unless three-fourths of his peers approve. One hundred two is exactly three fourths of the House membership.

The number was reached on Sunday, according to Phan Thong, chairman of the special House committee that had investigated and upheld an accusation by Thieu that three legislators were guilty of helping the Communists. Thong held a press conference today to announce successful completion of his petition campaign. {p.387}

Thong’s committee — and later the House membership, but only by a simple majority — already had found that all three men accused by Thieu were guilty. But today’s petition only applies to two of them.

The third, Pham The Truc, escaped because four of the 102 petition signers refused to include him. The point is of marginal significance, however, because Truc is voluntarily exiled in Paris, while the other two are in Vietnam and now subject to prosecution and, possibly, arrest before their trial.

They are Tran Ngoc Chau, a well-known figure whose brother recently confessed to being a Communist spy in South Vietnam, and Hoang Ho, an obscure legislator whose name came up in a recent espionage trial here.

Chau could not be located today, and there were unconfirmed rumors that he had been arrested. Reached at her home by telephone, Mrs. Ho said her husband had not been arrested, and was “wandering around the city.”

There is likely to be a controversy over the use of a petition to get three-fourths of the House to approve prosecution of Chau and Ho.

Today, the president of the Senate, the other house of the National Assembly, said he thought a petition was illegal. He said the House should meet, debate and vote on the question. Several lawyers have taken the same position.

One, Tran Van Tuyen, a well known man in political circles, said that if this petition is allowed to stand, House members in future may as well stay home, sending in their votes on important matters in writing.

The constitution is not explicit on this question, however, and it is a rule of thumb in Vietnam that when there is any doubt about a constitutional question the presidential view will prevail.

And President Thieu has made a major issue of the legislators he accused of helping the enemy. He apparently ordered several “spontaneous rallies” around the country to try to pressure the House to strip the three of their immunity. The army radio station controlled by the government, also campaigned vigorously for House action.

Many House members believed Thieu was conducting a campaign against them. When the House debated the guilt or innocence of the three accused five weeks ago, many members refused to vote that they were guilty because they objected to Thieu’s tactics.

But, in a display of Vietnamese flexibility, many of those who complained the loudest turned up on the list of signatories of the new petition that was released today.


[From the New York Times, Saturday, Feb. 7, 1970]


(By Terrence Smith)

SAIGON, South Vietnam, Saturday, Feb. 7 — Tran Ngoc chau, an Opposition deputy accused by President Nguyen Van Thieu of Communist affiliations, says he feels he has been betrayed by the America mission here despite a long and close working relationship.

Mr. Chau, whose situation was described in Washington yesterday by Senator J. W. Fulbright, said in an interview that he had repeatedly advised the United States Embassy and the Central Intelligence Agency of several meetings he had had between 1965 and 1969 with his older brother, Tran Ngoc Hien. The brother, was convicted last July as a Communist spy and sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Chau is now being accused of pro-Communist activities because of those meetings.


“Americans knew about it all along,” Mr. Chau said, “They even wanted me to put them in touch with my brother, so they could find out what the Communists were doing. As far as I was concerned, their knowledge and encouragement of the meetings was tantamount to their approval.

“Now they refuse to admit this,” he said. “This raises an important question: Is this the way the Americans treat their friends, people who have worked with them in the past? If so, it’s a sad fact.” {p.388}


Mr. Chau is a 45-year-old political maverick who is one of three Lower House representatives that President Thieu has accused of serving as “tools of the Communists.” Mr. Thieu has demanded that the House strip the three of their parliamentary immunity from prosecution so they may be tried by a military court.

During the course of a two-hour interview, Mr. Chau charged that an aide of the President had bribed a majority of his Lower House colleagues to get them to sign a petition lifting his immunity.

He said the aide, Nguyen Cao Thang, had paid bribes of as much as 400,000 piasters (about $3,400) for some of the signatures on the petition.

In Washington yesterday, Senator Fulbright made a similar charge. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he had “very persuasive evidence” that Mr. Thieu had used bribery and threats to obtain the signatures of the three-quarters majority of the House members required to lift the deputies’ immunity.

A petition bearing the necessary 102 signatures was forwarded to President Thieu earlier this week by the speaker of the lower house. Official sources confirmed today that President Theiu had ordered the Defense Ministry to initiate prosecution of Mr. Chau and a second deputy, Hoang Ho, a former journalist, who is also accused of having aided the Communists.

The two men are expected to be tried shortly by a three-man military tribunal, probably on charges of compromising national security.


In his remarks in Washington, Senator Fulbright also said that the United States Embassy had “shrugged its shoulders” over the Chau incident despite instructions from Washington to intervene on the deputy’s behalf.

A spokesman for the embassy declined to comment on this charge today. But a high-level American source confirmed that the embassy had had communication from Washington on the Chau case and said that Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker had recently discussed the matter with President Thieu.

Concerning Mr. Chau’s charges, the source insisted that senior officials at the embassy had neither initiated nor encouraged the deputy’s contacts with his brother. He conceded, however, that it was possible that Mr. Chau had acted with the knowledge and approval of lower level officials working for the C.I.A. or other agencies.


No one in the mission disputes the fact that Mr. Chau maintained close working relations with officials in the C.I.A. and embassy during his years as a province chief in the Mekong Delta, and as mayor of Danang. In 1966, he was a key official in the so-called revolutionary development program, which was devised and operated by the C.I.A. As one of the administrators of the program he worked on a day-to-day basis with C.I.A. agents.

Mr. Chau is currently hiding because he is afraid that the Government will arrest him at any time; he has slept each night for the last several weeks in a different house. He has remained in touch with his friends, however, and has seen a few foreign correspondents.

Mr. Chau acknowledges that he saw his brother, who is 46, eight times between 1965 and Mr. Hien’s arrest last April.


[From the New York Times, Feb. 11, 1970]


SAIGON, South Vietnam, Feb. 10 (Reuters) — A military court has ordered two members of the lower house to face questioning on alleged pro-Communist activities.

The wives of the two legislators, Tran Ngac Chau and Hoang Ho, said summonses were delivered to their homes yesterday by military policemen.

The two women said neither of their husbands had been at home for some time and their whereabouts were not known.

Mrs. Chau told reporters that her husband, a 46-year-old member who represents Kienhoa Province in the Mekong Delta, was “now staying in a quiet place writing his memoirs.” {p.389}

A petition signed by 102 members of the House of Representatives was sent to President Nguyen Van Thieu last week asking the Government to take action against the two men under the country’s anti-Communist laws.

Under the Constitution 102 votes — a three-quarters majority — are required to strip deputies of legislative immunity.

Mr. Chau has admitted that he met eight times with his brother, Tran Ngoc Hien, a North Vietnamese intelligence agent, before the latter’s arrest. Mr. Hien was sentenced last July to 20 years at hard labor for spying.

In an interview with reporters last week, Mr. Chau said he had kept the United States Embassy and the Central Intelligence Agency informed of his meetings with his brother. He accused the Americans of letting him down in not backing him against President Thieu’s accusations.

Senator J. W. Fulbright, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has accused President Thieu of persecuting Mr. Chau because the deputy had criticized Nguyen Cao Thang, a Saigon pharmacist who is a member of the President’s inner circle, and because of Mr. Chau’s growing power as an opposition leader.



The Chairman. A report released last June by a study team of distinguished Americans quoted the Vietnamese Director of Correction Institutions, Col. Nuyen Phu Sanh, as stating that there were 35,000 prisoners in 41 correctional centers and that of these 64.25 percent were classified as Communists. The report stated that Mr. Don Bordenkercher, the senior American adviser to Colonel Sanh, said there were 10,000 more prisoners held in interrogation centers. This raises a number of questions:

How do the South Vietnamese authorities define the word “Communist” for purposes of putting someone in jail?

Mr. Colby. Under the Phoenix program, sir, anyone who is associated in a certain job with the National Liberation Front or the People’s Revolutionary Party.

The Chairman. I am not sure this was only the Phoenix program. These questions—

Mr. Colby. These are the people held in jail. This is the object of the Phoenix program.

The Chairman. Are there 35,000 prisoners? Is that statement, taken from this report, correct? Are you familiar with the report of the U.S. study team?

Mr. Colby. Yes there are 34,372 prisoners in 41 correctional centers. I talked to these groups.

The Chairman. You talked to them?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. I guess that is correct.

Mr. Colby. I think that is close enough, Mr. Chairman, for our purposes today. There are about that many.

Senator Case. These are all prisoners?

(The report referred to follows.)


(U.S. Study Team on Religious and Political Freedom In Vietnam)



An eight-member U.S. Study Team, joined by a British observer, was in South Vietnam, May 29 to June 5, studying religious and political freedom, prison conditions and the classification, detention and treatment of political prisoners. {p.390}

The Team met with President Thieu, Minister of Interior Tran Thien Khiem and members of his staff, Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and members of his staff, national religious leaders, lawmakers, intellectuals, attorneys, students, a variety of persons of different political persuasions and talked with scores of political prisoners. It visited prisons at Thu Duc, Chi Hao, and on Con Son Island, as well as the National Police Headquarters. The Government of South Vietnam was helpful in providing data, in permitting Team members to visit prisons, and in making accessible certain prisoners.

In the original press release announcing the Team’s departure for Saigon (May 25, 1969), it was stated that the Team would meet with persons “not connected with the N.L.F. or the Thieu-Ky Government.” It proved both necessary and helpful to meet with many government officials. To our knowledge the Team had no conversations with representatives of the National Liberation Front while in Vietnam. It should be noted that many authorities on Vietnam doubt the possibility of a truly representative government without the inclusion of the N.L.F.

Three things are readily apparent in South Vietnam: (1) As state of war exists and any meaningful study of freedom must be done against that background; (2) South Vietnam is miserably poor and is unable to provide from its own resources institutional facilities and forms of care which are taken for granted in the Western world; and, (3) whereas the United States of America has lived under the guarantee of its present Constitution for nearly two hundred years, South Vietnam does not have a tradition of political liberty and its Constitution is only two years old. Notwithstanding this, in a message cabled directly to President Nixon from Saigon, the Study Team said:

“Speaking for peace or in any other way opposing the government (in South Vietnam) easily brings the charge of communist sympathy and subsequent arrest. ... There must be no illusion that this climate of religious and political suppression is compatible with either a representative or a stable government.”

Many persons interviewed argued that President Thieu’s government is less repressive than the ten years of brutal intimidation under Ngo Dinh Diem. Others, while agreeing that repression is not as obvious and violent, argued that it is equally pervasive though more subtle today. (Some of the following documentation will indicate that there is still unsubtle, violent intimidation.)

Three celebrated cases of political arrest have claimed international attention in recent months. They are the cases of Thich Thien Minh, one of the most influential Buddhist monks in South Vietnam; Truong Dinh Dzu, runner-up in the Presidential Election of 1967; and Nguyen Lau, wealthy publisher of the Saigon Daily News.

Thich Thien Minh was arrested on February 23, 1969, at the Buddhist Youth Center and charged with “harboring rebels, concealing weapons and illegal documents ... harboring deserters and supporting draft dodgers”. After appearing before a military field tribunal, he was sentenced to serve terms of ten and five years at hard labor, the sentences to run concurrently. Last month, his sentence was reduced to three years.

It is assumed by many that Thich Thien Minh was arrested not because of the specific crimes with which he was charged but for his public criticism of the Thieu-Ky government and his strong advocacy of peace.

In February he was summoned to the Ministry of the Interior and warned to tone down his sermons which were said to be disrespectful to the government of President Thieu. He had earlier said that the people of South Vietnam could accept neither the “terrorist regime” of North Vietnam nor the “corrupt government” in Saigon. Replying to Thien Minh, President Thieu said, “My government can die because of those pacifists, but before we die, they will have to die first.”

The Study Team visited both Thich Thien Minh and Quang Duc Buddhist Youth Center. The Youth Center, closed at the time of Thich Thien Minh’s arrest (20 other Buddhists were arrested at the same time), was handed back by the Government and re-opened during the Team’s stay in Saigon. Team members saw Thich Thien Minh’s room, as well as the mam- hallways, rooms and stairways that separated him from the tiny room and wooden closet with the false back that were said to be the hiding place of the V.C. agent and a cache of small arms. Seeing the distances and buildings involved, it is not difficult to believe the monk’s assertion that he had no personal knowledge of a V.C. agent’s presence in that hidden room. {p.391}

The Team talked with Thich Thien Minh, who has been held in military custody. They interviewed him in a small house, a part of a larger complex of carefully guarded government buildings. The Team observed the office of a U.S. Advisor two doors removed. At one point, three government officials pointedly left the room that the discussion might be private. However, it had been determined during the conversations that there was a government agent only four feet from the Venerable, behind a thin wall. Thus, the interview was necessarily inhibited. Thich Thien Minh had been moved four times since his arrest and was kept under the strictest security. Though badly injured by a hand grenade, said to have been thrown by a V.C. in 1966, he said his health was good. He added, “My only offense is that I believe in peace.”

On May 1, 1968, Truong Dinh Dzu was arrested “on charges of urging the formation of a coalition government as a step toward peace.” In August, he was sentenced to five years of forced labor. Although the N.L.F. is now participating in the Paris peace talks and a coalition government is being widely discussed by responsible government officials in the United States, Mr. Dzu has not yet been released.

In a national election that denied certain candidates the right to run 1  because they were peace advocates, and that heavily favored the Thieu-Ky regime because of its domination of the military and political structures of South Vietnam and because of the well-known support of the American ‘presence’ in Vietnam, Mr. Dzu ran second, polling 18 percent of the vote. He wisely did not announce his “white dove” platform until after his candidacy had been approved. (It is interesting to note that in the election, the Thieu-Ky ticket gained only 35 percent of the vote. In March 1968, Vice-President Ky told an Italian journalist, “Our last elections were a loss of time and money, a mockery.”) Dzu has never been accused of being pro-communist and is, as President Thieu openly acknowledged, a “political prisoner.” The fact that, running as a peace candidate and freely talking of a coalition government, he ran second only to the President, accounts more than anything else for his imprisonment. Mr. Dzu was moved from” Con Son Prison Island to Chi Hoa Prison in Saigon during the last week in May, 1969. U.S. Study Team members saw him in his cell in Chi Hoa. Suffering from a heart condition, he looked well and various kinds of medicines were in evidence. He said he wanted to serve his country as a nationalist. On June 5, President Thieu told the Team that support for a coalition government cannot be tolerated.

On April 16, 1969, Nguyen Lau, publisher and owner of the Saigon Daily News was arrested for “having maintained private contacts with a Vietcong political agent.” The agent, a boyhood friend of Lau, returned to Saigon in 1964 from North Vietnam. He talked with Lau many times during the past five years and had, at one time, asked him to supply information for the V.C. According to both Lau and Tran Ngoc Hiem, the agent, Lau had refused to supply the information.

In discussing Lau’s case with a member of the Team, one of Saigon’s most highly regarded foreign correspondents explained its background. In Vietnam, a culture influenced immeasurably by Confucianism, family ties and friendship are revered. Mr. Lau, in a press conference held by government officials at National Police Headquarters, made no attempt to deny his associations with Hiem. He said that Communism was poisoning the minds of many, but that Vietnam would surely survive Communism. He added, “Even today, sitting before you, I keep wondering if as a publisher and as a Vietnamese intellectual, I should denounce a friend who I have known since boyhood.”

Mr. Lau was educated at Oxford and the Sorbonne. As a member of an old and important family of wealth he has no respect for war profiteers and little sympathy for corruption in government. As a respected journalist and an avowed anti-Communist, he considered it part of his responsibility to be open to every facet of Vietnamese life. He once said, “If people are free to walk the streets, they are free to talk to me.”

He insisted upon his right to criticize. On March 24, 1969, the New York Times quoted him as saying, “Diem said bluntly that he was not going to tolerate freedom of the press. There were no illusions then. We are living a lie now. People say they are giving you freedom and someone without experience in journalism may be {p.392} innocent enough to believe that this is paradise. Now you may be carried away by your illusions and land in trouble.” Less than a month later Nguyen Lau was arrested.

Joseph B. Treaster, “South Vietnamese Revising Outmoded Press Laws” (New York Times, March 24 1969, page A3).  CJHjr

Members of the Study Team visited the National Police Headquarters. There, Lt. Col. Nguyen Mau, Chief of Special Branch, told them about the government’s case against the publisher. The only “evidence” he produced was the photostat of a press card, allegedly issued by Mr. Lau to one Tan That Dong, the alleged V.C. alias of Tran Ngoc Hiem. Such “evidence”, however, raises serious questions. Two days following Lau’s arrest, police brought a “so-called Vietcong” to the Lau home. In Mrs. Lau’s absence, they proceeded to take pictures of him in various positions around the house. When her two sons (aged 10 and 14) protested, they were handcuffed while the picture-taking continued. When told of the incident, Mrs. Lau courageously went to the authorities. A senior police official did admit that police had visited the house with a V.C. agent and camera to gather “evidence”.

Members of the Study Team were not permitted to see Mr. Lau, still being held without sentence. Nor were they permitted to see thirteen other prisoners they had made specific requests to visit.

These three cases have not been isolated because they are more important than others, but because they are more well known. They are symptomatic of a climate of intellectual, religious and political repression that has led to the imprisonment, exile or silencing of thousands of loyal Vietnamese nationalists, persons who are not pro-Communist, but who are critical of the Thieu-Ky government and who insist upon the right to think for themselves.

The government’s sensitivity at this point is revealed in its attitudes toward dissidents, so-called “militant Buddhists”, students and intellectuals, strenuous political opposition and the press.

The religious picture in South Vietnam is confused. About one-tenth of the nation’s population is Roman Catholic. Yet, from the time of Diem and the Nhu’s on, Catholicism has played a dominant role in Vietnamese political life. (Actually, this goes back to the 18th Century French missionary-priest, Pigneau de Behaine, and the continuing influence of French Catholicism during colonial days.) President Thieu reminded the Study Team that, though he had trouble with Buddhists, Catholics had supported his administration. The former editor of a Catholic magazine, a friend and confidante of Archbishop Nguyen Van Binh, agrees that fewer than 10 percent of the Catholics in South Vietnam are critical of the war and of Thieu’s government. It must be remembered that about 1,000,000 of South Vietnam’s Catholics were born in what is now North Vietnam and came south following 1954. They are, for the most part, vigorous anti-Communists.

However, there are Catholics who want a closer tie with Buddhists and who are seeking what some call, a “third solution”. They are trying to find answers between Communism and corrupt militarism. Father Hoang Quynh, an active leader of the All-Religion Citizen’s Front, has worked with Buddhists in trying to prevent further friction between the Buddhist and Catholic communities. He has said, “Catholic faithful must learn to live a responsible political life.” Other Catholics, like Father Lan and attorney Nguyen Van Huyen seem close to the Pope’s views on meaningful negotiations and peace. They have won the confidence of Buddhist leaders.

When, in January 1968, all of the bishops of South Vietnam released a four-page statement supporting Pope Paul’s message on Vietnam and calling for a bombing halt in North Vietnam, it seemed that there had been a breakthrough. However, and without exception, those with whom Study Team members spoke indicated that the hierarchy in South Vietnam had confined themselves to what the Pope had said with no desire or inclination to supplement or further interpret the Vatican’s plea concerning peace. There continues to be sharp feeling between Buddhists and Catholics. As one Buddhist complained, “When Catholics talk about peace, the Thieu government hears it one way. When we use the word, it is supposed to mean something else.” Many Buddhists feel, and justifiably so, that they have been discriminated against by a succession of governments in Saigon.

There are two major Buddhist factions in South Vietnam: the “moderate” government-authorized faction of Thich Tam Chau, and the “activist” 2  faction {p.393} of Thich Tri Quang and the An Quang Pagoda. However, the Unified Buddhist Church of the An Quang Pagoda is made up of both Mahayana (northern) and Therevada (southern) Buddhists. Early in 1967, the government sought to fragment the Buddhists, withdrawing its charter from the Unified Church and recognizing the “moderate” wing of Thich Tam Chau. However, the An Quang Pagoda continues to be a major factor in the religious and political life of the country. On the Buddha’s 2513th birthday, celebrated May 30, at the An Quang Pagoda, former Chief of State, Phan Khac Suu, Tran Ngoc Chau, General Secretary of the House of Representatives, other deputies and senators, Father Quynh, as well as Cao Dai and Hoa Hao leaders were present, indicating a broad base of popular support among disparate groups.

During the ceremonies, white doves of peace were released as a crowd of more than 3,000 people looked on, and Thich Tinh Khiet, Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Congregation said, “Every hostile tendency of the world has jostled its way into the Vietnam war in order to exploit it and seek for victory, whereas all the Vietnamese people — either on this side or on the other side of the 17th Parallel — are mere victims of this atrocious war. Our nation is thus forced to accept ready-made decisions without having any right to make our own choice.” President Thieu and pro-government supporters may insist that such peace talk is “political”. If so, it is an obvious expression of that freedom essential so an emerging democracy. And it is no more political than the forms of protection and support offered innumerable Catholic priests and parishes; no more political than a sleek caravan of government-owned cars driving Thich Tam Chau to the Saigon Airport on June 5, to meet the Nepalese delegation to a World Buddhist Conference on Social Welfare; no more political than the imprisonment of hundreds of Buddhist monks.

Often the Buddhists who protest government policy are students. Following the government-controlled elections of 1967, Buddhist students joined by some of their professors were promptly singled out by the government for retaliatory acts. A professor of law said, “Van Hanh University (Buddhist) was the chief target for attack. ... If students go to meetings, the police follow them and they can be arrested any time. Many times, they are drafted before the legal age or before their deferments as students expire.”

As a result of a peace meeting held in September, 1968, in Saigon University, the Student Union was closed by police. Students, professors, deputies from the Lower House and some Buddhist monks had participated in the meeting. Thirty persons, mostly students, were arrested. More arrests followed.

At about the same time, a student in the Medical School was murdered. He had been kidnapped by the N.L.F. and later rescued by American troops. He was accused of having “leftist tendencies”. He was found dead with his hands tied behind his back, having been pushed from a third floor window. The police called it “probable suicide” and made no investigation.

Student resistance continued. On Christmas Eve, responding to the Pope’s plea for peace, 2,000 students, many of them Catholic, held a peace procession. In the aftermath, hundreds were arrested.

In spite of set-back and discouragement, the spirit of the student peace movement remains unbroken. A Buddhist student stepped out of a sullen mass of prisoners at Camp No. 7 on Con Son Island and addressed members of the Team, The government translator said, “He is here because he refuses to be drafted He says he doesn’t want to serve the United States. As a Vietnamese citizen he will go into the Army only when we have independence.” A student, recently released from Con Son, reacting to the devastation visited on his country by modern instruments of war, said much the same thing: “I will not serve a country that has done so much to my own.”

Students, intellectuals and Buddhist monks do not comprise the only opponents who threaten President Thieu’s government.

There is a growing mood of independence in the Lower House. It is only found in a few deputies, but they are voicing increasing opposition, to the policies and practices of the Thieu-Ky government. There have been criticisms of Operation Phoenix in the National Assembly. Two members of the Lower House raised serious questions about prison policies early in May. The president’s tax program has been challenged. Constitutional questions challenging the prerogatives of the executive branch are frequently raised.

President Thieu proudly points to the “new alliance” of political parties in South Vietnam as an indication of the breadth of his support. This alliance {p.394} includes the Greater Union Force, the political arm of militant Roman Catholic refugees, the Social Humanist Party, a rebirth of Ngo Dinh Nhu’s Cam Lao party, the Dai Vet, an erstwhile grouping of anti-French nationalists, a faction of the Hoa Hao sect based in the Delta and the Viet Kuomintang, a pro-government bloc formed after the Tet offensive in 1968. All of these parties together, combined with the Thieu-Ky vote, failed to capture half of the popular vote in the 1967 elections. 3 

While there is genuine political opposition, most of it has been driven underground. Members of the Study Team met with leaders of five old-line political parties no longer permitted to function as recognized entities. These men had all been active in the resistance movement against the French and were ardent nationalists. Their parties have been outlawed, their requests to publish a newspaper have gone unanswered and their voices have been muted. These men, and they reflect a vast middle-position in South Vietnam, struggled against the French and consider the Americans their new colonial masters. Over the past twenty-five years, they have known imprisonment and sacrifice. (A retired general present had been in prison eleven times.) They are opposed to Communism. But, they argue that unity and independence cannot be achieved under present circumstances. One of them said, “We know the American government is anti-Communist and they help us fight Communism. But when they look at Viet Communists, they think of them as western Communists. That is a bad mistake.” It is the conviction of the Study Team that there will be no truly representative government in South Vietnam until voices such as these can be legitimatized and participate in the democratic processes of the republic.

One further evidence of political oppression is the government’s attitude toward the press. Although it seems reasonably tolerant of foreign correspondents, and they are permitted to function without too many instances of censorship, the government’s relationship to the Vietnamese press is far more direct and inhibiting. Twelve months ago, censorship was officially eliminated in South Vietnam. Since then, at least twenty-five newspapers and two magazines have been suspended. Mr. Lau’s Daily News has been suspended for thirty days for hinting that Thich Thien Minn’s trial might have been unfair. Tin Sang was closed when it suggested that Prime Minister Huong (one of the most highly regarded members of the Thieu government and a former political prisoner himself) once yielded to pressure in a cabinet appointment. 4  Nguyen Thanh Tai a UPI combat photographer, was arrested in May, 1968, for taking pictures “detrimental” to South Vietnam.

One of the most credible and influential anti-government nationalist leaders with whom we talked prepared a three-page position paper for the Team. The English translation was his own. In part, he said:

“The range of political expression as legally exists here is narrow indeed ...

“Let us imagine for a moment that those people are given a chance. What would they do?

“They would firstly negotiate with the Government of the United States an agreement on the Allied Forces Establishment in Viet Nam which would provide for progressive withdrawals when the situation warrants it. Of course, they would bear in mind the security and the honor of the Allied troops who came here to protect ourselves and prevent a Communist domination.

“They would secondly invite the Vietnamese people to actively participate in national affairs and take their share of responsibility. Democratic freedom would be enforced without restrictions, how adventurous this might first look. Live forces such as students, intellectuals, religious leaders and workers’ unions would be given an authorized say. Unjust treatment would be redeemed. One cannot fight for freedom without ensuring freedom at home ...”

Although many of the nationalist leaders with whom the Study Team talked believed that a continuing American presence in South Vietnam is an unfortunate necessity until the political situation can be stabilized and made more representative, one student leader who had been imprisoned twice by the Thieu government for his activities on behalf of peace argued that no truly representative democracy can come into being as long as U.S. troops are present and U.S. policy is being enforced. He said, “By now, we should have learned the irony of having any Vietnamese government that is embraced by U.S. power. The Americans must {p.395} depart leaving us to decide our own future.” He spoke those words with anguish, obviously knowing the problems that Vietnamese nationalism and many of its long-suffering advocates would face in dealing with the N.L.F. in the wake of an American withdrawal. Yet, he bitterly insisted that after many years of American military presence and American good intentions, there was no other way.

At the luncheon given the Team by members of the Lower House, Deputy Duong Minh Kinh talked about the vast expenditures poured into North Vietnam by the Soviet Union and China, and into South Vietnam by America. He said, “We are beggars from all of the people in the world in order to destroy ourselves. That is the greatest tragedy of all.”



The large majority of those imprisoned in South Vietnam are held because they oppose the government; they are “political prisoners.” Undoubtedly a great many of these are, as the government classifies them, “Viet Cong.” Legally speaking, they are properly prisoners of war — though they are kept in a separate category from military prisoners. Undoubtedly, a number are “civilians related to Communist activities;” i.e. V.C. agents, and accurately classified as such. Yet it is clear that a great many people, many of them detained without hearing or trial, should be seen in two other categories. Some have been picked up in a sweep and are innocent of anything save being present in an area of military operations. Others are political prisoners. They are nationalists and not Communists — though seen by the government as inimical to its continuing control. In the official statistics, these categories are kept very low and thus their existence is all but denied. As the following examples of official estimates show, the practice is to classify almost everyone held as either “Communist” or “criminal” (though this division omits the large numbers of “detainees” held without hearing or trial.)

The classification of prisoners in 41 Correctional Centers as given by Col. Nguyen Psu San, Director of Correctional Institutions, is:

4.16%Civilians related to Communist activities
0.21%Political activities harmful to national interest
2.49%War prisoners temporarily in correctional centers

Warden Pham Van Lien of Chi Hoa prison reported to Team members on June 3, 1969, a classification in Chi Hoa as follows:

4%Civilians condemned by military court
0.6%Political — non-Communist

Prison Governor Minh, of Thu Doc prison, classified the 1,126 prisoners held by him on June 3, 1969 as follows:

265Criminal offenders
15Civilians condemned by military court
3Military prisoners
0Political prisoners
0Prisoners of war

The Warden of Con Son Island prison reported that there were 7,021 men and boys in Con Son, of whom:

984 were soldiers who committed political offenses (helped or sympathized with the V.C.)
2,700 were civilians who had worked directly with the V.C.,
769 were soldiers who committed criminal offenses,
252 were civilians who committed criminal offenses, and
2,316 were detainees, never tried or sentenced.

(Note that only the Warden of Con Son Island prison separately identified unsentenced detainees in his statistics. The rest of the breakdowns presumably distribute the detainees among the classifications according to file, or dossier, information.) {p.396}

There are no figures available on the religious affiliation of prisoners. Warden Lien reported that there were about 120 Buddhist monks in Chi Hoa prison on June 3 when Team members visited.

Colonel Sanh said that there are 35,000 prisoners in 41 Correctional Centers. The senior American advisor to Col. Sanh, Mr. Don Bordenkercher, estimated that, in addition, there are 10,000 held in interrogation centers. He reported that the number had gone up gradually since the Tet offensive of 1968 when the jump was precipitate. Ambassador Colby, General Abrams’ Deputy for Pacification, said that the number of prisoners had gone up and will continue to go up as the pacificacation program (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) develops.

The national police in Saigon and in the provinces are the official organ for making arrests. In addition, there appear to be many other arrest and detention agencies. 5 {1 in original} It is clear that those arrested are taken to a variety of detention centers for interrogation and that many are held in these centers for considerable periods of time. According to the U.S. Mission, American advisors are involved only with cases of Viet Cong or suspected Viet Cong sympathizers and with persons apprehended during military operations (e.g., “Operation Phoenix” — the 18 month-old program which pools information from half a dozen U.S. and South Vietnamese intelligence and security agencies with the purpose of identifying and capturing Viet Cong political agents.)

Of course, estimates of the total number of political prisoners in South Vietnam — including those held as prisoners of war, by intelligence agencies and in military prisons, as well as in the correctional institutions and by the various arresting agencies to which we have referred — run much higher than the official statistics and estimates we have recited. The methods of reporting and keeping such statistics are such that we doubt any one knows whether any of such estimates approach accuracy. That the number exceeds the official statistics, and that it is rising, are the only conclusions that can be accepted as reliable.

In addition to the 37 (officially listed) provincial Correctional Centers, there are four large prisons for essentially civilian prisoners. These are Chi Hoa in Saigon, Thu Duc in Gia Dinh (for female prisoners), Tan Hiep near Bien Hoa, and Con Son on an island off the southeastern coast. Team members were enabled by the Ministry of the Interior to visit Chi Hoa, Thu Duc, and Con Son Island Prison. They were also shown through the interrogation center at National Police Headquarters.

Thu Duc (Women’s Prison)

Members of the Study Team spent several hours at the Women’s Prison, where the staff, headed by Prison Governor Minh, gave full explanations of the prison’s operation and enabled members to see everything they requested. The administration of the prison is evidently efficient in most respects, and the large compound contains many elements normally found in such establishments.

There was overcrowding of the cells. This was especially hard on nursing mothers and those with small children. In the cell where babies were shown to the Team, it was confirmed that fifty people lived in a room 40′ by 30′. Primitive sanitation was severely inadequate. The medical provisions of the camp, if used as it was claimed, could ameliorate the situation, but there was evidence that some prisoners had not had recent medical attention, and skin ailments among little children pointed to low standards. Of particular concern are: the length of sentences; the youth of some classified as Communists; the large numbers of unconvicted prisoners; and the looseness and generality of charges and classifications. Governor Minh told us that there were 50 children from birth to 14 years in the prison; 40 were classified as young offenders (13-17 years); presumably the remainder were in prison solely because one or both parents were there.

The Team members found reason to conclude that recent adjustments in classification had taken place. To judge from both interviews and official explanations, the circumstances of many classified as “communist” did not justify this classification. Governor Minh asserted that “hard-core communists” served life imprisonment, though those whose “communist” activities had resulted from coercion would be released on record of good behavior and “repentance.” Two students who were so classified were found by the Team members to be unsen- {p.397} tenced detainees. On examination of the dossiers, it was found that they were being held simply because they had exhibited “leftist tendencies”. On inquiry put to all of the prisoners in another cell block, twenty percent responded that they had not been tried or sentenced. The Team members concluded that the “evidence” against those classified “communist” was often weak and that many deserved the designation “political” prisoners.

Chi Hoa

Chi Hoa is often referred to as the “showcase” prison. Since 1963 American funds have been available for the improvement of facilities, and American advisors have helped set up rehabilitation programs. The Team was given an attractive brochure with pictures of prisoners in classes; at worship; enjoying recreational activities. The brochure states that “the present Vietnamese system of corrections is * * * based on the principles of humanity, charity and equality.”

The Warden said that there were about 5,500 men and boys now in the prison of whom 40% were Communist and only 6% were non-Communist political prisoners. Each prisoner wore a colored badge indicating his classification. The Warden estimated that 40% of the inmates had not yet been tried or sentenced. He said someone from the Ministry checked the lists every month and an effort was made to have those prisoners who had been in longer than six months brought to trial and sentenced.

The Team members were taken on a tour of the prison. Wherever the group went, they found the halls and cells clean. They were shown the vocational classes in which about 300 prisoners were enrolled and met daily over a six-month period.

Team members saw the Catholic Chapel, a Buddhist shrine and a Buddhist pagoda. In the pagoda, they talked with several monks who are in prison for resisting the draft. These monks were the only prisoners in any of the institutions who did not stand at rigid attention. Sometimes prisoners shouted ear-splitting anti-Communist slogans when Team members stopped to see them.

The Warden estimated that there were 200 children from 10 to 14 years of age and 200 from 14 to 18 in the prison not yet sentenced. All children, he said, were in a separate section and given education. Team members asked to see the children’s section and were shown two cells. In one room, about 40 feet by 25, there were 47 children under 8 years of age. One child, 4 years old, said he was in prison because he had been caught stealing a necklace. The children were squatting in one end of the room eating when the Team members entered. They live in a bare room, with sanitary facilities at one end. No materials for play or study were in evidence. The food was rice with vegetables and fish. It looked adequate. The children seemed to be well physically. Immediately when the Team members entered they left their bowls of food and assembled in lines without any order from the adult in the room or from the Warden. They all, even the 4 year old, stood at attention and did not move or speak; only their eyes followed the visitors moves. In the next cell, similar in size, there were 67 children slightly older but under 10 years. The situation was the same in all respects.

The Team members saw three cells in the men’s section. They were about the same size as the cells for children. There were about 50 men in each of the rooms viewed. Some of the men were preparing over tiny burners various kinds of food which had been brought by friends or relatives. None of the men in these three ceils had been sentenced.

Upon asking to bee the disciplinary cells, the Team members were shown a room with iron rings for shackling prisoners, which, we were told, were seldom used. The iron looked rusty. Team members did not get to see any of the 100 prisoners who the Warden said were in solitary.

The prison is in the form of a hexagon, four stories high facing inside. The wedge-shaped area in front of each of the six sections contains water tanks for bathing and washing clothes and an open space. The Warden said that after 5 p.m. the inmates are allowed here for sports and bathing. Since there is an average of about 1000 inmates in each section, it is obvious that only a very small proportion of the inmates could play soccer, volley ball, bathe or wash clothes at one time.

Con Son Island Prison

Con Son Island Prison, an escape-proof prison about 50 miles off the southeast coast is said by officials to contain 7021 prisoners, most of them “political.” In many of the barracks, the majority of the prisoners were “political” prisoners who had been “tried” before a Military Field Court, usually without legal representa- {p.398} tion. They wore red tags which identified them as either V.C. or V.C. sympathizers. Those with yellow badges (detainees) presented another kind of problem. A show of hands, taken in a number of barracks, revealed that many detainees had been imprisoned as long as a year and a half with little hope of being released unless, conceivably, space was required for new prisoners. It was explained that frequently the means or records necessary to determine whether charges should be brought were unavailable. The failure to observe even a minimum amount of due process in the overwhelming majority of cases is a fair conclusion since the same circumstances were repeatedly recited by the prisoners; namely, they were either being held on charges of sympathizing with or aiding the enemy, or they had been rounded up after a military confrontation with the Viet Cong int heir {sic: in their} village and were simply held from that point on. Others were students who had indicated their support for peace.


The tour had been carefully arranged. The only time the Team members deviated from the prepared pattern, successfully demanding to see Camp No. 4 instead of the camp that the prison authorities had scheduled, they saw something of significance. There were large dark dormitory cells (three out of about ten such cells were inspected) in which there were from 70 to 90 prisoners each, all of whom (as determined by a show of hands) were condemned to life in prison. None had had lawyers or any trial other than a judgment by a military tribunal.

The prison authorities denied the existence of “tiger cages”, reputed small barred cells in which prisoners being disciplined were chained to the floor in a prone position. Although recently released prisoners referred to this practice from actual experience, the Team members were unable to elicit any more from the prison officials than that the “tiger cages” were no longer in existence. (At first any knowledge of such things was denied). One prisoner, however, speaking surreptitiously to the Team members said, in answer to a question, “Yes, the ‘tiger cages’ are here, behind Camp No. 2 and Camp No. 3. You looked in the wrong place.” The Team members had looked behind Camp No. 4.

Taking into consideration the conditions under which such a prison had to operate, it seemed that an attempt was being made by the prison officials to conduct as clean and sanitary an operation as they could. There was a 1.3 million dollar expansion underway, which would provide 72 additional barracks.

Pursuing further the question of how prisoners were disciplined, the Team members were told that only ten out of the 7,021 prisoners were under discipline. On request, the visitors were shown two of these ten. They had been in solitary for six months because of their refusal to salute the flag. One said he would never salute it. His legs were deeply marked, the Colonel in charge explaining this was the result of a past disease. Questioned directly, the prisoner said it was the result of a long period in leg irons.

Although Team members observed no brutality, they felt that to have no disciplinary barracks other than a small number of maximum security cells was highly unusual. The Team members noted the fearful reaction of the inmates whenever prison officials appeared, surmising that there must exist a high degree punitive regimentation.

The most disturbing aspect of the prison situation in Vietnam is torture. Its existence, though minimized by many, is widely admitted by most of those outside the Vietnamese government itself who are knowledgeable about the arrest and detention system. U.S. officials, advisory to the Vietnamese prison system agree that there is torture, but insist that is does not take place in the correctional centers themselves but in the interrogation and detention centers where the prisoners are taken first. They point out that brutality could not exist in the correctional centers because the ratio of prisoners to staff (58 to 1) is so great. In at least one instance, however, the Team was advised that “trustees” were used to administer brutal punishment and such an explanation would be consistent with the high degree of fear and regimentation seen in the response of the prisoners. Many nongovernment Vietnamese interviewed, including a number of ex-prisoners, supported the conclusion that there was relatively little torture in the correctional centers.

Accounts by ex-prisoners, many of them persons of integrity, agree that most prisoners in the detention and interrogation centers are tortured. This is done to extract information — the most obvious kind being the names of companions, friends and acquantances. (It appeared that sometimes innocent persons were named in order to seem to cooperate with the interrogator.) It is also done as a matter of general procedure, being rationalized as necessary for interrogation of V.C. and their sympathizers. {p.399}

One of the difficulties in appraising first-hand accounts of torture is that intellectuals, those who by definition are the ones who can most readily speak about it to outsiders, are seldom tortured except in what is called mild forms (usually simply beatings) Of course they are oppressed by conditions of overcrowding, with many prisoners stuffed into small cells which do not allow for lying down or, sometimes, even for sitting; and this, when it is steaming hot, when excrement accumulates, and when the prisoners are seldom released for exercise, is torture indeed. But as “favored” people, they do not appear to receive the normative interrogation treatment.

Beating is the most common form of abuse. It is done with wooden sticks and clubs. (“Metal” was mentioned by one observer.) The blows are applied to the back and to the bony parts of the legs, to the hands, and, in a particularly painful form, to the elevated soles of the feet when the body is in a prone position. Beating of the genitals also occurs. A number of commentators also described the immersion of prisoners into tanks of water which are then beaten with a stick on the outside. The pain is said to be particularly intense and the resultant injuries are internal.

Another type of water torture in which a soaked cloth is placed over the nose and mouth of a prisoner tied back-down to a bench is said to be very common. The cloth is removed at the last moment before the victim chokes to death, and then is reapplied. In a related form, water is pumped into the nose.

Frequently, the interrogation center at the National Police Headquarters in Saigon was mentioned as a scene of torture. The most common procedure is said to be the elevation of the victim on a rope bound to his hands which are crossed behind his back. One witness described a “bicycle torture” used in this center. For about a week the prisoner is forced to maintain a squat position with an iron bar locking his wrists to his ankles; “afterwards he cannot walk or even straighten up”, it was said.

An intellectual who was arrested in 1966 and spent the first six months of his two and one-half years term in an interrogation center described what he called the “typical case” of a woman law student in a nearby cell. (Not “typical” in one respect because she was an intellectual). She had been in the interrogation center for six months when he arrived and stayed for the next six months during his own imprisonment there. Throughout this year, she was tortured, mostly by beating. When she was finally called before a tribunal to hear the charges, she had to be carried by two fellow prisoners. The tribunal, apparently because of her status, heard her case carefully and determined that it was a case of mis-identification. Someone in Zone D had reported a V.C. returnee or spy who looked like her.

The same informant said, as a number of others did, that sexual torture was common. Though apparently it was not used on this woman student, it is used on many women. Frequently coke and beer bottles were prodded into the vagina. Also, there were a number of accounts of electrical wires applied to the genitals of males and females, as well as to other sensitive parts of the body. Another informant told of the torture by electricity of an eight-year old girl for the purpose of finding her father: “She said her father was dead and they just kept torturing her ... They tortured her mother too.” This was said to have occurred in the National Police Interrogation Center (Saigon) during 1968. Several ex-prisoners testified that it is not unusual to torture family members, including children, before the eyes of the prisoner. “Then,” explained a woman teacher who had been imprisoned twice, “the prisoner will tell anything.”

Although Team members were allowed to visit the National Police Headquarters in Saigon, it was an arranged visit. There was no evidence of the forms of torture here described. Col. Mau said that modern interrogation techniques ruled out the need for physical violence. Team members saw the interrogation rooms but no prisoners were being questioned. The Team’s evidence for the tortures described come from interviews with ex-prisoners testifying to what they had endured and seen, together with the statements of doctors and others who had treated the victims. While the testimony of prison officials and the appearances of the National Police Headquarters cannot be lightly dismissed, the sheer weight of witnesses’ statements seemed overwhelming and conclusive to Team members.

All informants agreed that the types and extent of torture administered in many of the detention centers in the provinces were far worse than in the National Police Interrogation Center in Saigon. {p.400}



(1)  Standards and Procedures

The heart of the problem of assessing the conditions of political imprisonment in South Vietnam lies in the matters of standards and procedures. The key questions are: who is subject to arrest and imprisonment; and, how in each case is this determination made? If either the standards for determining who is subject to arrest, or the procedures for making the determination is loose, then enormous potential for official capriciousness exists and the freedoms of those subject to such caprice are ephemeral.

The Study Team found both the standards and the procedures to be loose by any measure — even by the most generous measure of allowance for the exigencies of civil and guerrilla warfare. The evidence is more than adequate to sustain the conviction of the Study Team that this looseness is used deliberately to suppress political dissent and to oppress some religious groups. In particular, loyal nationalists who are in basic disagreement with the government fear retaliation for expressing their views and do so with good reason.

Naturally, the exigencies of the particular kind of war being waged in South Vietnam bear upon the judgments of the Team. Government of Vietnam officials quite properly see an analogy between the civilians arrested for guerrilla war activities — sabotage, espionage and organization and support of National Liberation Front military cadres — and soldiers taken as prisoners in more conventional war. The validity of the analogy should be granted; we cannot class as suppression of political freedoms the imprisonment of those actively engaged in conducting war against the government. Moreover, we must concede the need for procedures sufficiently expeditious to permit such imprisonments to take place speedily and without exposure of the government to the risk of further war-like activity by the arrested person — either by release on bail pending determination or by early termination of the period of imprisonment.

It is humbling for Americans to be reminded that their own history is replete with invasions of individual rights made in the name of wartime emergency — the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War in the United States, for instance, and the evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast during World War II. An American cannot presume to sit with wholly clean hands in judgment upon the Government of South Vietnam. But both the principles of justice to which their constitutions commit the United States and the Republic of Vietnam, and the pragmatic concern for winning popular support for democratic principles compels this Team to confine the restrictions on freedom made in the name of wartime exigency to those actually necessitated by war.

But the loose standards and procedures above cited do not represent concessions to those wartime exigencies. Minimization of risk of war-like activities against the government is not achieved by the imprisonment, for instance, of loyal nationalists for advocacy of reconstituting the government by forming a coalition with N.L.F. representatives. Nor does minimization of such risks require imprisonment of powerless people who scurry to avoid exposure to the demands of both N.L.F. and government forces, in so-called “insecure” areas, and are arrested on suspicion with the expectation that brutal interrogation may yield a confession of some conduct which will warrant detention. 6 {1 in original}

In fact, imprisonments of this kind create unnecessary risks of alienating loyalties — a hazard made doubly severe by the highly political character of the war in Vietnam. The seriousness of this hazard is underscored by the statement to the Team by one young man, a resident of a rural province, that probably a majority of the men his age who reside in “secure” areas (under Government of So. Vietnam control) of that province have experienced arrest and detention at least once during their lives. The evidence available to the Team, moreover, all suggests that the numbers of such arrests is steadily and continuously increasing.

The limits of the “war exigencies” justification are well illustrated by Article 29 of the Republic of Vietnam Constitution which clearly contemplates the existence of exceptional circumstances such as war. It provides:

“Any restriction upon the basic rights of the citizens must be prescribed by law and the time and place within which such a restriction is in force must be clearly specified. In any event the essence of all basic freedoms cannot be violated.” {p.401}

A. Standards

Authority for imprisonment of non-conventional criminals is found in the State of War Law, Law No. 10/68, adopted by the National Assembly and promulgated by the President on November 5, 1968. It amends the State of War Decree promulgated prior to the present Constitution, on June 24, 1965, and as amended authorizes, among other things:

* * * * * *

“The search of private houses, both by day and night; “Fixing the place of residence of those elements judged dangerous to national security;

* * * * * *

“Prohibition of all demonstrations or gatherings harmful to public security and order;

“Prohibition of the distribution of all printed matter harmful to national security;

* * * * * *

“Control and restriction of communications and travel, consonant with security requirements; ... ”

In particular, the euphemistic language of the second paragraph quoted requires elaboration. Under it, numbers of persons are “assigned residence” in one or another of the provincial or national prisons by action of a Provincial Security Committee for specified but renewable terms, not exceeding two years, because they are “judged” to be “elements ... dangerous to national security”. Such a standard patently abdicates to the judging body the determination of who is to be subject to such imprisonments, almost totally without guidance from the legislature. In fact, it was determined that students with nothing more than the notation in their files that they exhibited “left-wing tendencies” were being incarcerated in national prisons whose administrator classified them in his census as “communists”; i.e., in the same category with individuals found to have assumed leadership roles in organizing war-like activity for the N.L.F. Others claimed to the Team that they had been detained for no other reason than that local officials responsible for their arrest expected to extort a bribe as a condition for their release.

Under the heading of “prohibition of ... gatherings”, the Team learned of a Saigon political leader who was sentenced by a military field court to imprisonment for one year because he called a press conference without proper advance clearance from Republic of Vietnam authorities. (In this man’s case, a known requirement appeared to have been deliberately violated, but the sentence suggests that the State of War Law is being used for more than minimization of military risks to national security.)

The standards just quoted should be read in conjunction with Article 4 of the Constitution which provides:

“Article 4.

(1)  The Republic of Vietnam opposes Communism in any form.

(2)  Every activity designed to publicize or carry out Communism is prohibited.”

The looseness of the prohibition against activity designed to “publicize or carry out” Communism parallels that inherent in the other standards we have discussed. Under it, President Thieu, in an interview he generously afforded the members of the Team, justified the detention of Truong Dinh Dzu as a “political prisoner” on the ground that he had allegedly advocated the formation of a coalition government in which the N.L.F. would participate. This would violate Article 4, President Thieu reasoned, since such advocacy is ipso facto prohibited by that article. If may be unnecessary to point out, in response to this reasoning, that the Constitution also provides machinery for its own amendment, a process hardly likely to be completed without someone having first advocated a result barred by the language of the provisions being amended.

B. Procedure

1. Arrest, detention and interrogation. — Because of the long periods for which individuals are often held and interrogated prior to any disposition, often for six months or more — the procedures for determining who is to be arrested and for how long he is to be detained and interrogated take on a special importance. Moreover, the frequent and serious physical abuses about which the Team {p.402} heard occur during this period. Although they seem to be employed as “aids” to interrogation, they are forms of cruel and barbarous punishment against which the citizen needs every conceivable procedural protection.

In fact, procedural protections are essentially non-existent at the arrest and interrogation stage. Arrests are made by a wide variety of local and national officials — by district police, special security forces, military forces and intelligence units — each exercising a relatively unfettered discretion. The arrest may occur for no other reason than that the arrestee was found near the scene of a guerrilla raid. Unless the arrested person is of exceptional importance, he will usually be detained by the arresting unit or by the district or security police in the district or province where arrested, and subjected to whatever interrogation methods authorities in that unit choose to apply. As we have stated, such detention for interrogation frequently continues for many months and it is at this state that the bestial brutality we have encountered occurs.

Despite the constitutional provision that:

“(6) A defendant has the right to a defense lawyer for counsel in every phase of interrogation, including the preliminary investigation,” the Team was unequivocally assured by Lt. Col. Mau, Chief of the Special Branch of the National Police Forces, that no one within his knowledge ever saw a lawyer at this stage — certainly never when detained at the Interrogation Center of the National Directorate of Police in Saigon. All of the Team’s information tended to confirm that this generalization applied to other places of interrogation, both in Saigon and in the provinces.

Not only is the arrestee denied a right to counsel at this stage, he is frequently denied all contact with outsiders, including members of his family. Often families are not notified of the arrest, and they may go for days or months in ignorance of any fact save that their loved-one has disappeared. In one instance, when occasional visits were permitted to an eighteen year old arrestee, the visits were stopped after several weeks on the ground that they interfered with the interrogation. Isolation itself may be used as an interrogation “aid” or technique.

2. “Assigned residence” by Provincial Security Councils. — An unknown proportion of the persons held in the correctional system — the four national and thirty-seven provincial prisons of the system — are assigned there by action of Provincial Security Councils rather than by the judgment and sentence of any court. An official of one province reported that 50 percent of the 1,400 occupants of the local provincial prison were assigned there by the action of the Provincial Security Council.

When Prime Minister Huong took office in May, 1968, the Team was told he made a major effort to improve the functioning of these bodies, enlarging them to include an elected official (in the provinces where elections have been held) and causing them to pare their backlogs of undisposed of business. As a result, it may be assumed that dispositions in some provinces show a greater sensitivity to local opinion and that the periods of preliminary detentions — to the extent they exceed the length of interrogation desired — have been reduced.

One of the Prime Minister Huong’s first acts was to initiate a spectacular admission of wrongdoing on the part of the Thieu government in the release and commutation of the sentences of a number of political prisoners whose total has been variously estimated from 2,000 to 6,000.

On another occasion Deputy Prime Minister Khiem commendably acknowledged in response to questions raised in the National Assembly the arbitrary nature of the arrest and interrogation procedures and the official fear of repercussions which could result from the conditions of brutality.

But these steps only sweeten a system that is intolerable beyond capacity for amelioration. No society can pretend to be free that permits “administrative” detentions of the kind handled by Provincial Security Councils. One Team member was privileged to visit the members of one such Council as its regular weekly session was being concluded. Members of the Council each possessed a typewritten list of the names of the inviduals {sic: individuals} whose cases were being considered; approximately 100 names were on the list for a single afternoon’s consideration. He was told that on heavy business days the Council sometimes continued to meet into the evening. An officer brought the relevant files to the meeting and read to the Council the information required for consideration. Without notice to the arrested person, without his presence or that of witnesses to the facts relevant for determination, without confrontation or opportunity for rebuttal, to say nothing of rights of counsel or to appeal, the liberty of each of the 100 persons listed was summarily determined in this manner and detentions in prison were ordered for periods — renewable by like procedure — of up to two years. No war- {p.403} time exigency, nor any other justification, can be offered to reconcile such procedure with the democracy which is claimed to be the object of the Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam. “Undoubtedly, the system succeeds in detaining some people for whom a real connection with the activities of the N.L.F. has been shown, although the Team was told that all serious wartime offenses are referred to a Military Field Court for disposition. But no other purpose than convenience to the interests of local or national officials which are adverse to those of the detainees — whether to suppress political opposition or otherwise — can really be served by this mechanism,

(2)  Military Field Tribunals

The Study Team has reached the conclusion that the Thieu-Ky Government has, through the extensive and increasing use of the extra-constitutional Military Field Courts, imprisoned thousands of persons without the most fundamental elements of a fair hearing and, in a shocking number of instances, without even apprising the imprisoned persons of the charges against them. This extraordinary development has- had such a devastating effect on the people of South Vietnam and such a chilling impact on all political activities that it seems important to chronicle in some detail the process by which the present Saigon Government, in the name of a wartime emergency, can deny persons arrested for political “offenses” all of the guarantees which Vietnamese constitutional and statutory law gives to persons accused of crime.

The Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam, promulgated on April 1, 1967, confers in Article 7 a series of guarantees upon those accused of crime which are among the most generous and progressive of any democracy in the world. Because these rights have been denied to probably 65 to 75 percent of all of the persons committed to prisons in South Vietnam, it is important to set them forth in some detail. Article 7 reads as follows:

“(1)  The State respects and protects the security of each individual and the right of every citizen to plead his case before a court of law.

“(2)  No one can be arrested or detained without a legal order issued by an agency with judicial powers conferred upon it by law, except in case of flagrant violation of the law.

“(3)  The accused and his next of kin must be informed of the accusation against him within the time limit prescribed by law. Detentions must be controlled by an agency of the judiciary.

“(4)  No citizen can be tortured, threatened or forced to confess. A confession obtained by torture, threat or coercion will not be considered as valid evidence.

“(5)  A defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial.

“(6)  A defendant has the right to a defense lawyer for counsel in every phase of the interrogation, including the preliminary investigation.

“(7)  Any person accused of a minor offense who does not have a record of more than three months’ imprisonment for an intentional crime may be released pending trial, provided that he or she is employed and has a fixed residence. Women pregnant more than three months accused of minor offenses who are employed and have fixed residence can be released pending trial.

“(8)  Accused persons will be considered innocent until sentence recognizing guilt is handed down.

“In event of doubt, the court will rule in favor of the accused.

“(9)  If unjustly detained, a person has the right to demand compensation for damages from the State after he has been pronounced innocent, in accordance with the provisions of law.”

All of these carefully spelled-out guarantees were nullified for political offenders by Law No. 10/68 of November 5, 1968, which we have earlier described. This law amends and revitalizes a pre-constitutuional {sic: pre-constitutional} decree issued June 24, 1965. By its legitimation of the Military Field Courts, this law, in effect, amended the Constitution although none of the Articles of the Constitution related to amending the document (Nos. 103-108) were complied with.

The November 5, 1968 law, in addition to authorizing the invasions of individual rights previously recited, authorizes local proclamations of martial law and in its Article 2 declares that

“All violations of the law related to national security fall within the Military Field Courts which will try them in accordance with emergency procedures.”

The creation of these “Military Field Courts” is nowhere authorized in Article 76 through Article 87 of the Constitution, which provide in detail for the structure {p.404} of Vietnam’s judiciary. Nor is the “Military Field Court” related to military tribunals which exist in the armed forces of South Vietnam for the prosecution of offenses committed by military personnel. The “Military Field Courts” are not really courts at all.

The Study Team is convinced that the number of arrests and imprisonments continues to grow larger under the law of November 5, 1968. Moreover, it is clear that the 1968 law, unlike the 1965 decree, abrogates and amends the 1967 Constitution of South Vietnam in an illegal way. Indeed, the 1968 law eviscerates that Constitution and suggests that the President and the National Assembly disregarded the Constitution in several respects and, relying on “a state of war”, undertook to legitimize the Military Field Courts which imprison persons in proceedings having few if any of the features of a real trial. No matter how favorably they are viewed, these courts serve as the instrument by which the Thieu government imprisons and thereby silences its critics.

The inadequacies of the Military Field Courts are many. Among their more glaring defects are the following:

(1)  These courts violate Article 77 of the Constitution which stipulates that every court should be composed of “an element that judges and an element that prosecutes, both of which are professionally qualified.” In the Military Field Court, the judge is a military official not necessarily trained in law.

(2)  The offenses triable by the Military Field Courts are non-bailable and convictions in these courts are non-appealable. The denial of these basic rights violates the Vietnam Constitution as well as the practices which have become customary in most of the judicial processes in the civilized world.

(3)  The Military Field Courts also violate Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that, ¶

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.” ¶

This statement is now incorporated in the draft Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is broadened to read as follows: ¶

“Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.”

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 999 U.N.T.S. 171 {1.21mb.pdf} (adopted December 16 1966, entered into force March 23 1976) (t.reg. 14668); status {551kb.pdf} (mtgsc) (164 parties; declarations, reservations, objections); U.S. ratified June 8 1992, 1676 U.N.T.S. 543 (t.reg.action A-14668, U.S. reservations, understandings, declarations) {v1676, 7.71mb.pdf}; U.K. ratified May 20 1976, 1007 U.N.T.S. 393 (t.reg.action A-14668, U.K. reservations, understandings, declarations) {v1007, 6.04mb.pdf}; U.S. Senate treaty no. 95-20; President transmitted, Jimmy Carter, “Human Rights Treaties, Message to the Senate,” 1978 PPPUS 395-396 (February 23 1978); Senate treaty document, Executive 95/2-E (February 23 1978), part of, Four Treaties Pertaining to Human Rights, message from the President of the United States {SuDoc: Y 1.95/2:C-F/corr, uc, Serial Set 95-2: omitted (“Senate executive documents and reports were not included in the Serial Set until 1980”), CIS: 78 S385-3, LCCN: 78601565, GPOcat, paper, UC, WorldCat}; Senate hearing, S. Hrg. 102-478 (November 21 1991) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:S.Hrg.102-478, CIS: 92 S381-25, LCCN: 92191239, GPOcat, paper, microfiche); Senate executive report 102-23 (March 24 1992) {63kb.txt, 302kb.pdf} {SuDoc: Y 1.1/6:102-23, Serial Set 102-2: 14102, CIS: 92 S384-1, GPOcat, paper, microfiche}; Senate consent, 138 Cong. Rec. S4781-4784 {pf} (April 2 1992, daily edition 138/49) {SuDoc: X/A.102/2:138/49, ISSN: 0363-7239, LCCN: 80646573, GPOcat, paper, microfiche, WorldCat}; U.S. ratified, June 8 1992, effective Sept. 8 1992, 1676 U.N.T.S. 543, accord, T.I.F. {185kb.pdf} {SuDoc: S 9.14:2004, ISSN: 0083-0194, LCCN: 56061604, DL}; U.S. published, 58 Federal Register 45934-45942 (No. 167, August 31 1993).  CJHjr

These provisions are being violated in South Vietnam. Their violation is thus a violation of the Constitution of South Vietnam which states in Article 5 that “the Republic of Vietnam will comply with the provisions of international law which are not contrary to its national sovereignty and the principle of equality between nations.”


James Armstrong,
Bishop, United Methodist Church.

Anne M. Bennett (Mrs. John C.), Allan Brick,
Director of National Program, Fellowship of Reconciliation.

John Conyers, Jr.,
Member of Congress.

Robert Drinan, S. J.,
Dean, Boston College Law School.

Peter W. Jenkins,
Pastor, Congregational Church, Wimbledon, England.

John De J. Pemberton, Jr.,
Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union.

Seymour Siegel, Rabbi,
Professor of Theology, Jewish Theological Seminary.

Arnold E. True,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (retired).

Organizational associations listed for purposes of identification only. June 9, 1969.


General “Big” Minh was kept in exile in Bangkok and Au Truong Thanh, the other leading contender was refused candidate status because of his alleged “neutralism”. The Study Team talked with Au Truong Thanh in exile in Paris.

The term “militant” is usually applied to the An Quang Pagoda faction. However. Buddhists are committed to non-violence. In French, “militant” means an “active supporter or worker in a political group”.

The United States sent election “observers” to Vietnam to report on election procedures. As one cynical Vietnamese put it: “We are planning to send twenty-two Vietnamese observers who don’t speak English to the United States ... for four days to see if your elections are fair.’

See: New York Times, March 24, 1969.

5 {1 in original} A future thorough investigation should check carefully into the number and types of arrest and detention agencies; this was impossible for the present team with limited time and staff.

6  {1 in original} Credible testimony of instances of arrests fitting both these examples was given the Study Team from many sources.



The Chairman. It is a very interesting subject even here, because there are many people in this country, in this community, in this city, who have a habit of designating as Communists anyone with whom they happen to disagree on any particular controversy or subject. This is very common. Certainly this was very common in the days of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. It is still common. {p.405}

Today the insinuation is often a little more subtle than in the days of Senator Joe McCarthy, but I have had a recent experience. There is a man named Fred Schwartz who has made a great fortune in scaring people to death about communism and asking for contributions. He picked up a statement in an Austrialian paper that I said I didn’t care if all the countries of Southeast Asia went Communist, which is wholly untrue and absolutely without foundation.

Senator Case. As you got off the plane you said that. [Laughter.]

The Chairman. He is using this in a letter for soliciting funds. I suppose today you can put them out on computers for as little as 3 or 4 cents apiece. He sends out a half million letters and he receives a half million dollars or something like that. He gets a lot of money anyway. There are a number of people like this in this country who make a good living out of frightening our people about the threat of communism and calling anyone who happens to be controversial as of the moment a Communist.

This is very interesting. I wondered if the South Vietnamese are much more discriminating and careful in the use of that word than we are.

Mr. Colby. I think the South Vietnamese in the Phoenix program, Mr. Chairman, are indeed trying to be very discriminating about identifying very clearly who the members are.

The Chairman. Do you think they are more careful than we are?

Mr. Colby. Well, I think we are very careful in our Government, Mr. Chairman. Those gentlemen that you may be referring to may be less careful.

The Chairman. They have a purpose for it.


We have already asked you what percent of the VC are really Communist members of the People’s Revolutionary Party.

Mr. Colby. The People’s Revolutionary Party is the Communist Party of South Vietnam.

The Chairman. What percentage of the VC are members of that party? We had this the other day, but I have forgotten what you said. Do you remember?

Mr. Colby. I don’t recall that precise question. I don’t think so. I don’t believe you asked me.

The Chairman. Did I ask you that, Colonel?

Mr. Vann. We touched upon it, sir.

The Chairman. I thought we did.

Mr. Vann. We had a very extensive study done by a U.S. Information Agency officer. It is now about 3-1/2 years old. The story was done by Mr. Douglas Pike. He came up with an estimate that 3 percent of the Viet Cong were card-carrying Communist Party members.

The Chairman. Only 3 percent?

Mr. Vann. That was his estimate at that time, and I think I possibly brought it out in context that—

The Chairman. I thought we asked you about it.

Mr. Vann. For a long period of time we have recognized that certainly a very small minority of the South Vietnamese enemy force is Communist. However, that minority is the leadership, and they are directing the activities of the rest for Communist purposes. {p.406}


The Chairman. That is consistent with other experiences, but it is not consistent with this figure that out of 35,000 prisoners they called 64 percent of them Communists. That seems outrageously high as a percentage of Communists.

Mr. Colby. They are called Communist offenders, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Case. You mean in the jail?

The Chairman. These are in the jail.

Mr. Colby. These are what are called Communist offenders by the Vietnamese.

The Chairman. I wondered whether this means they are unsympathetic to the government. Does it?

Mr. Colby. No, sir. What it means is that those people are somehow associated with the Viet Cong struggle against the government and have, consequently, run across the laws and done something improper. That is distinct from pure party membership, which is an elite status.

The Chairman. This is a very difficult question.

The Pentagon takes a colonel, I believe, or a Captain Rowe and he tells a story, of which one of the burdens is that people like myself, who disapprove of this war, are the principal aiders and abettors to the enemy and, in effect, if it were not for people like myself who disapprove of this war as not being in the interests of this Government, the war would have been over long ago and, therefore, most of the deaths of the GI’s are attributable to me. This is the story Captain Rowe takes throughout the country under the auspices of our Government.

It seems to me it is not unusual to think that perhaps the Vietnamese Government may be doing the same thing.

Mr. Colby. I think the distinction here, Mr. Chairman, is that the party membership is a fairly small percentage of the total number of people who are engaged somehow in this war on the enemy side. This is somewhat similar to the difference between the members of one of our political parties and the number of voters in the election.


The Chairman. Is it against the law in Vietnam to be a neutralist?

Mr. Colby. I think it is against the law and you would get in trouble to advocate neutralism at the moment — no, that is not so, because Senator Don, for instance, has advocated that South Vietnam really ought to be neutral between the Communist and non-Communist camps.

Senator Case. Can he run for office or vote?

Mr. Colby. There is a provision of the election law that states that candidates could not be “those who have directly or indirectly worked for communism and pro-Communist neutralism or worked in the interest of communism.” Those were the words used in the most recent election law in effect.”

The Chairman. As the Senator says, a neutralist cannot run for office nor vote.

Mr. Colby. A pro-Communist neutralist was the specific language. {p.407}

Senator Case. By definition you are pro-Communist if you are a neutralist or almost.

Mr. Colby. There are some who have advocated that South Vietnam should eventually be a neutral state, so it is not as if you automatically go to jail if you say that. It is not so.

Senator Case. Not go to jail necessarily.

The Chairman. He is not saying they will not go to jail, but that they cannot vote or run for office.

Mr. Colby. I don’t think there has been a clear-cut determination of that fact.

Senator Case. I wonder what the general understanding is. If you are a neutralist you had better not vote; is that right?

Mr. Colby. Well, in the middle of a war it is hard—

Senator Case. Isn’t that the general situation? That is what I thought.


The Chairman. How many of these people would you think are classified as political prisoners in a Western sense?

Mr. Colby. In a Western sense, it depends on whether you include the Communist offenders in that category or not. [Deleted.]


The Chairman. How many advisers are there working in connection with the civilian prison system in Vietnam?

Mr. Colby. We have four full-time civilians at the Saigon level and one full-time military officer at each corps level. That is four additional.

In addition, the Public Safety Officer in almost every province spends some time working with this problem.


The Chairman. How many people are there in prisoner-of-war camps?

Mr. Colby. About 32,000 more or less.

The Chairman. That is in addition to what we have been discussing?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.


The Chairman. Do U.S. advisors ever participate in interrogations of prisoners?

Mr. Colby. I think, yes. I would assume so.


The Chairman. Does the average rural Vietnamese consider he is engaging in an illegal activity when he helps a friend or relative who is a Viet Cong, such as giving him food, shelter or information?

Mr. Colby. That is a very difficult question to answer, Senator. I think I would guess that, with the amount of publicity that the government has put out about the Phung Hoang program to protect {p.408} the people against terrorism and the general realization this is a war going on, the normal member of the government side knows that help to a member of the enemy camp is an unlawful act.


The Chairman. I don’t know. There is a war going on, but it is not a traditional war. It is certainly not the kind of war in which we have been traditionally involved.

Mr. Colby. Yes, but at night the guns go off and the flares are in the air, and the grenades go off in the marketplaces. It is a war at night.


The Chairman. This puzzles me, and I come back to this. When you say 3 percent of the VC—

Mr. Vann. That was the figure, sir, about 1965, when this research was done.

The Chairman. Have you any reason to believe it has changed?

Mr. Vann. I would think there probably has been a change in the number of VC, and that it occurs largely in the number of guerrillas and the nonparty chiefs. It might be a little bit higher than it was, but I think it is definitely a very small minority.

The Chairman. It is hard for me to understand. We started out the other day with an estimated 80,000 VC; wasn’t it?

Mr. Colby. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Three percent of that are only about 2,400, and yet we find nearly 65 percent of those in jail, which the staff says is 22,750, are called Communist offenders.

Mr. Colby. These are apples and oranges, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Are they?

Mr. Colby. What we are talking about is the difference between on the one hand full-party members, (the small percentage Mr. Vann mentioned) a status which can only be achieved after a candidate period and then admission to the party, which in a Communist society is a very high status indeed, and, on the other hand, those who have been arrested for assistance to the Communist cause, which are included in the figures for those in prisons.

The Chairman. But they all call them Communists.

Mr. Colby. They call them Communist offenders.

The Chairman. On that basis then I suppose in this country all of the SDS and the Black Panthers and the Ku Klux Klan and all Members of Congress who object to the war could be put in jail as associates, as aiding and abetting the Communists. All those who voted against the ABM might be considered that.

Senator Case. Don’t stretch it too far. I have agreed with you up to that.

Mr. Colby. Well, I think, sir, the difference is between a country which is at war and a country not at war. South Vietnam is at war, is at war for its life, and, consequently, the line is drawn very sharply between people who are helping the enemy and people who are helping the government side.

Senator Case. It is a difference in transition, too. Free speech has never been encouraged there: is that right? {p.409}

Mr. Colby. I think so. I think that certainly is true. I think it is growing, but it has a long way to go.


Senator Case. Just a couple of questions. I will ask you and anybody else who would like to speak on this. You feel, having had a good deal of experience in that part of the world, that the need for American troops ought to be considered just in the context of Vietnam or do you think we ought to keep troops there as part of our general strategic role in the area?

Mr. Colby. I was responsible for the Far East in my job in CIA. I think it depends upon, the overall situation in that part of the world, the degree of threat by the other side, the degree of cohesion which has developed in that part of the world, the degree to which those countries grow and gradually pick up and assume the responsibilities for their own defenses. These are all very large-scale considerations, and I don’t think we can give a very straight answer.

I would not say that we should keep troops in Vietnam in order to be available for use in that part of the world.

Senator Case. Do you have any comment?

Mr. Vann. No, I have no comment.


Senator Case. On quite another matter, I would just like to bring this up to each one of you at the table, if you will, offer a very brief response.

What response are we getting generally from the Vietnamese to our advice at all levels, particularly where we have been told, by writers and others, that in many cases the South Vietnamese tell us to go to the devil and there is nothing we can do if they don’t do what we tell them or advise them they should do. We are involved, our prestige is so deeply sucked in there, we just cannot do anything about pulling out anyway, and so no matter what we do we are hooked and we just have to take it.

Would you comment briefly on this and especially those who are down the line. First, have they ever sent an unfavorable report to their superiors about what the South Vietnamese to whom they have given advice have done and, if so, what happened?

Mr. Colby. Would you like to start that at the bottom, too, sir?

Senator Case. Sure. Have you ever had any South Vietnamese who didn’t do what you wanted him to do?

Sergeant Wallace. Sir, in one instance, yes.

Senator Case. What did you do?

Sergeant Wallace. My counterpart and I occasionally disagree on some matter. To resolve these differences, once a week, all of the CAP squad leaders report to the company office, with their counterparts, and discuss the problems with the Marine CAP commander and his counterpart. At these meetings we will discuss our difference and try to resolve our problems. This method has been very effective.

Senator Case. Have you ever had to report to your superiors failure on your part to persuade the South Vietnamese, your counterpart? {p.410}

Sergeant Wallace. What exactly do you mean “persuade,” sir?

Senator Case. Have you ever suggested something which you thought was important that they should do which they would not do, and have you had to report that to your superior?

Sergeant Wallace. Yes, sir, I have. Occassionally {sic: Occasionally} we will run a killer team and my counterpart will disagree with this. He will say, “No,” and I will call district. We will discuss it over the radio and come to an agreement.


The Chairman. What is the killer team?

Sergeant Wallace. A killer team is a small unit, sir, designed to make contact and then return.

The Chairman. Is it not to kill anyone? Why do you call it a killer team?

Sergeant Wallace. The teams are designed to make contact and to inflict casualties on the enemy and then return to their base camp.


Senator Case. What response did you get, when you had to report that you had not succeeded in your effort to persuade a response from your own people. What did your superior do?

Sergeant Wallace. We are usually able to resolve our differences.

Senator Case. In other words, you have not had the experience of reporting an important matter of failure on your part?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir.

Senator Case. To your superiors?

Sergeant Wallace. No, sir.

Senator Case. How about you, Captain?

Captain Geck. Sir, having had a series of counterparts I cannot think of one who has always agreed with me. Most of them have had differing views than mine as much as half of the time. In some instances I have gone to a counterpart and suggested little changes either in tactics to be used on an ambush or some village project and have received a flat no. If I am adamant about the program, I will report to my immediate superior who will go to his counterpart and try to get the program instituted from above. This method usually will bring some sort of success.

Senator Case. Is it true that there has been any substantial amount of stubbornness on the part of the people or refusal to take reasonable advice?

Captain Geck. Sir, in many cases there is.

Senator Case. Go ahead.

Captain Geck. For instance, it used to be a common occurrence for me to go to a military man and say “I think in such case you should do this,” and he would turn around and say, “I have been here for 8 years now and I know what needs to be done.” But after awhile he gains confidence in your advice. As he learns you do know what you are talking about, he will start to be more receptive. I am lucky for being down at the bottom I can send the question higher. I have no idea how the man at the top—

Senator Case. We will try that later. Has this failure that you have run into on occasion related to direct refusals to go into fights?

Captain Geck. In one or two cases; yes, sir. {p.411}

Senator Case. What happened?

Captain Geck. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. In that case you may report to your chain up the line?

Captain Geck. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. And this is your experience; that this has not been a common thing.

Captain Geck. No, sir, it has not been common.


Senator Case. It has not made you disgusted?

Captain Geck. On occasion it has, but not on the whole program.

Senator Case. Not on the whole program?

Captain Geck. No.

Senator Case. You haven’t felt we were doing a job for people who were not worth fighting for?

Captain Geck. No, sir, not at all.

Senator Case. How about you, Captain?

Captain Murphy. From my own personal experience there have been occasions where my counterpart has elected not to take or not to utilize the advice that I have given him. The course of action I then take is determined by how strongly I feel about the advice, exactly how the advice is to be utilized, what the advice was that i offered, and how strongly I feel about my recommendations. Where I feel very strongly about his not taking my advice, I report it to my superior, the Province Senior Adviser and recommend that he discuss the problem with the the province chief, to see if he couldn’t influence my counterpart to do it the way I recommended. I am sure you understand that two people may not share the same opinion. This does not necessarily mean that one is entirely wrong.

Senator Case. I know.

Captain Murphy. But different individuals have different ways of doing things.

Senator Case. You understand what I am trying to get at?

Captain Murphy. Yes, sir, I do. On Captain Geck’s level, the MAT team in the field sometimes comes up against a situation where the Regional Force company commander or Popular Force platoon leader will not accept their advice. What we do then is determine how effectively that unit is operating, how effectively the commander is accomplishing the mission.

Senator Case. Overall.

Captain Murphy. Perhaps he is not in a position where he needs the advice. If he is doing a satisfactory job, if he is accomplishing his mission, perhaps the MAT team should not be with him or could be utilized better in some other location with another unit.

In cases where we suspect that the commander is in violation of certain Vietnamese directives we. of course, report it through our channels to a higher headquarters. The corps commander will assign an inspection team to come down and investigate the matter based upon our report.

Senator Case. This is the South Vietnamese corps commander?

Captain Murphy. That is correct. Generally we get good response to our advice and our reports, to the effect that proper measures are being taken or with respect to the performance. {p.412}

Senator Case. Have you had any experience of your own of your reports of this sort to our own forces, to our own people, being just put away in the drawer and ignored?

Captain Murphy. No, sir. I can’t recall of any. You mean our report to our higher headquarters?

Senator Case. Yes.

Captain Murphy. No.

Senator Case. They don’t tell you to forget it?

Captain Murphy. No, never. If we feel strongly about it, they will take measures to correct the problem.

Senator Case. Is this the general feeling among our officers?

Captain Murphy. Yes, it is.

Senator Case. You concur in that?

Captain Geck. Yes.

Senator Case. You are satisfied?

Captain Geck. Yes.


Major Arthur. First, I would like to say that my counterpart is a lieutenant colonel ARVN officer. He has 19 years of service. Sometimes he wonders about what advice I as a major can give. I have had two tours in Vietnam, so I have some authority to give some advice. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. How long ago did you make that report?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. How long have you been back here?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. How long have you been back home?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. So there was no response within a month anyway?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. Roughly.


What is the generality of the experiences of the people at your level?

Major Arthur. The generality of experience with my counterpart is that I have an excellent working relationship with him and my advice is generally taken. Again, I emphasize he is a mighty capable officer, well thought of, well respected, and a capable soldier. The advice that I render comes on new techniques or the use of new equipment. The advice of my subordinate officers who work with his staff officers in staff procedure is normally accepted.

Senator Case. The troubles you have had have not been related to motivation on his part or willingness to fight?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. Or this kind of things?

Major Arthur. [Deleted.]

I might add I was a battalion advisor to a ARNV infantry battalion in 1966. I did, in fact, have some bad times after a couple of fights in pursuing the enemy. We took our licks; we gave them their licks. We policed the battlefield, but we went back or stayed there for the night, and they lived to fight another day. {p.413}

In some cases it might not have been wise to pursue pellmell after them and track them down and kill them all. My other counterpart had a lot of combat savvy, too, but I felt at that time they should have pressed on and followed up on the enemy. This is 1966 now I am talking about, sir.

There is no lack of desire on the part of my present counterpart or his subordinates to mix it up that I have run into yet. They are out there looking for and actively searching to engage the enemy.

Senator Case. Thank you very much.


Mr. Mills. Sir, I can testify on the basis of my experience in Tuyen Duc on the question of what happens when a Vietnamese official does not take our advice or seems to us to be incapable of doing a job that is demanded of him [deleted].

Senator Case. [Deleted.]

Mr. Mills. [Deleted.]

Senator Case. Just cancel that one.

Mr. Mills. [Deleted.]


Mr. Vann. We have to realize that all advisers do not always give good advice, so there is a legitimate basis for a good experienced Vietnamese rejecting the advice. There is a formal system for going up the ladder to let the next advisory level know when there is incompatibility down below. When we reach this at my corps, I look into the situation. I may resolve it by telling the province senior adviser I don’t think it is important enough to make an issue of.

I may resolve it by going into the province chief with him or I may resolve it by going to the corps commander and presenting the argument to him. Usually, having ascertained what he wants, I accept his decision even though it may not be what we want.

Occasionally, on a real gut issue that I cannot get resolved at my level, I will go to Ambassador Colby and ask for his assistance, but it is an ever-diminishing number of these as you go up the line.


Senator Case. This used to be rather prevalent, this matter of soaking up and burying complaints and what not.

Mr. Vann. I would say we are much better organized, sir, in many respects on both the Vietnamese and the U.S. side. We have much less of a problem now because there are many more formally established plans. There is more detailed guidance as to what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, and when we are going to do it. This tends to minimize conflict.


Senator Case. How about this general question of bureaucratic stodginess and ineffectiveness and what not that is in our establishment? {p.414}

Mr. Vann. I would rather think they have about as much or more than we have.

Senator Case. There are people who have begun to make a career of life in Vietnam. You are one, but you are not the kind of person I am talking about, but what about the typical bureaucrat who shuffles papers around and sticks them in his desk?

Mr. Vann. Sir, I have no—

Senator Case. You know we have heard about them.

Mr. Vann. We know about these people. We tend to get them weeded out reasonably fast.


Senator Case. Are you satisfied with the operation as a whole?

Mr. Vann. What I am participating in I am delighted with organizationally on the American and Vietnamese side.

Mr. McManaway. I think at times of John Vann’s remarks several days ago about the change as it relates to Tet in 1968. I have been working at the national level for almost 5 years, and there has been a marked change in the attitude of the Vietnamese that I worked with since Tet in terms of their receptivity and their willingness to reach out for advice. This is reflective of a change in attitude toward the war, and in trying to get the job done.

I think most of them are interested in getting a job done and are reaching out for advice and acting on advice — more so than they were before Tet.


Senator Case. What about our own operating structure? What about the comments that have been made that for one reason or another — frustration, people are getting old, scared of losing their jobs, and not willing to take the trouble, and what not, comments that this has been very, very common in the past so far as complaints go — things aren’t getting done.

Mr. McManaway. I think one of the problems we have that did reflect some of this was the big buildup both on the civilian side as well as the military side. There was a very rapid buildup from 1965 through 1967. During that same period, in the course of 10 months two massive reorganizations took place within the U.S. community, one where part of the civilian effort was put together so you had only one civilian chain of command, and one military chain of command, and then another reorganization bringing together the civilian and military into the CORDS organization. There was turbulence at that time. People didn’t have enough to do because of changes being made, and so forth. I think we have come through that period. For my money the CORDS organization is one of the most dynamic I have been privileged to be associated with.

I think that is reflective even here today.

Mr. Vann. I think, Senator, you have got to understand there are many Americans who come there and can see something that is clearly wrong and report it. Then if something isn’t done about it immediately, they tend to think it is being ignored. That comes from not recognizing that the Vietnamese Government is a sovereign government and there is a limit as to how much we can make them do and how fast we can make them react. {p.415}

Now, a lot of the younger people, particularly in the field, don’t accept this. They feel that they are getting less support than they should have, because when they report a case of corruption, we don’t immediately come down and throw the fellow in jail [deleted].


Senator Case. On this broad question of corruption and of ineffectiveness, the general conception was, I think, at the time that most of these province chiefs, the military clique and whatnot were a bunch of robbers.

Mr. Vann. That was much more of a basis to that at one time than now.

Senator Case. And brigands and grafters and just hung together and scratched each others’ backs and no head of a government in Saigon could touch them because they were so powerful and this kind of thing. Has this improved?

Mr. Vann. Enormously.

Mr. Colby. That era has pretty well gone, sir, really.

Senator Case. Well, I am very much obliged. I am not going to ask you whether you have got a good show or not. Obviously it would be embarrassing, and I am not making any suggestions that you have not. I am just going over some of the many things that partly have been told to us over many years, partly have been written about and partly things that I think we have a little experience firsthand about, and I myself am very grateful to all of you. I don’t know what our chairman wants. Would you tell the chairman so far as I am concerned I have finished my questioning?

The Chairman. I have nothing more to ask. In fact, I apologize for this going on so long. I have had a little help, you will notice.



The staff has a few questions which I am not going to ask you. These are more or less routine questions, but to complete the record we will submit them to the Department and your staff can supply the answers so that we can fill in the public record.

Mr. Colby. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. You don’t mind doing that?

(The information referred to follows:)





Question 1(a). Does the amount given as the total spending for CORDS activities include all military spending for pacification activities? For example, does it include spending for the Marine Combined Action Platoons and for civic action activities conducted by the military?

Answer. No, it does not include all. There are many military actions which directly or indirectly support pacification, the costs of which cannot be segregated. The amounts given to the Committee include those direct pacification programs and projects run by CORDS. It does not, however, include the Marine Combined Action Platoon cost as budget data for these are not available in the field. Civic action activities using the so-called “assistance in kind” (AIK) funds are included in the totals, although there are many individual civic action efforts conducted by individual units that cannot be costed. {p.416}

(b)  Do the U.S. budget figures include the pay and allowances for the military personnel who work in CORDS programs? If not, what is the estimated cost for these items in 1969 and 1970?

Answer. Yes, the U.S. budget figures do include the pay and allowances for the military personnel assigned to CORDS.

Question 2. How many different reports are received in CORDS headquarters each month from the field? How many reports are sent by CORDS to Washington each month?

Answer. Reports are received in CORDS from the 250-odd districts, 44 provinces and sis autonomous cities and four Corps. These reports could be counted as one report, e.g., the HES, or as 250-odd reports, e.g., each district’s submission counted separately. In terms of overall reports, e.g., HES counted as one. CORDS headquarters receives 11 manual and 15 ADP reports from the field each month, based on information collected from the districts, provinces and corps. CORDS sends to Washington each month approximately 10 overall summaries of pacification or specfic {sic: specific} programs therein (e.g., refugees). Public Safety, in addition, reports directly to its Washington home office. There are 15 raw tapes from the machine reporting systems, e.g., HES, TFES, etc. sent in consolidated form to the Department of Defense.

Question 3. What kind of training does the average U.S. district advisor receive? Do military and civilian advisors receive the same training?

Answer. Civilian District Senior Advisors and Deputy District Senior Advisors receive a basic orientation course of 18 weeks at the Viet-Nam Training Center in Washington, D.C., and may receive additional training up to a total of 42 weeks. The 18-week basic course includes:

— Viet-Nam area studies (history, culture, attitudes, politics, etc.) — Counter-insurgency — U.S. Role in Viet-Nam — Personal affairs and survival — Exercises in POLWAR, etc. — Off-site military training — District operations (e.g., HES) — 275 hours of language training

The 42-week course is the basic 18-week course plus 1,125 hours of Vietnamese language study.

Military District Senior Advisors receive the 18-week basic course. In Viet-Nam some but not all military and civilian DSA and DDSA personnel are programmed into the MACCORDS District Advisors Course which is conducted monthly for five days and includes a current and comprehensive briefing on CORDS Pacification Programs. They are also programmed into the PHOENIX Orientation Course at Vung Tau when feasible.

Question 4. Do CORDS personnel at the Province level report to MACV through military channels exclusively? Can they report through civilian channels to the Embassy? What is the chain of command for submission of CORDS reports to Washington? Describe the Washington organization for supporting and directing the CORDS effort. Where is overall authority vested?

Answer. The chain of command for all CORDS personnel at province level is through the Province Senior Advisor to the Corps Senior Advisor. In practice, the DEPCORDS at the Corps generally supervises the activities of the province teams. From the Corps Senior Advisor the chain of command goes to General Abrams, although the four DEPCORDS generally maintain a close association with Ambassador Colby. The formal channel is through the command at each level, however. This is supplemented by a wide variety of “technical” contacts. Various staff levels at CORDS headquarters and various staffs of USAID and others maintain direct contacts with CORDS personnel in the field on their technical specialities, subject to the overriding authority of the command channel. In addition, there are a number of informal contacts with the Embassy political reporters in the field who report directly to the Embassy. CORDS personnel are encouraged to discuss matters with the Embassy political reporters, but do not “report” formally to them. The chain of command for submission of CORDS reports to Washington is through CINCPAC to JCS, as it is an element of MACV. Information copies are generally sent to the Department of State, AID/Washington, White House and other Washington addressees. At the Washington level, overall authority stems from the National Security Council, although the component elements of CORDS report to their parent agencies.

Question 5. When was the name of the CORDS program changed from “Revolutionary” development to “Rural” development — and why?

Answer. This change was made on 1 January 1970 to reflect the GVN’s change of its title for the Pacification and Development Program from Binh Dinh Xay {p.417} Dung (Pacification and Construction”) to Binh Dinh Phat Trien (Pacification and Development) and the change of the Ministry of Revolutionary Development from Xay Dung Nong Thon to Phat Trien Nong Thon. The word “Revolutionary” did not exist in either version of the Vietnamese. “Rural Development” reflected the thrust of the 1970 Plan with its focus on development but maintained the CORDS acronym.

Question 6. To what extent is the increase in population controlled by the Government of South Viet-Nam due to success of the military and pacification programs and to what extent is it due to a change in strategy by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. To what extent does it reflect the movement of population to urban areas?

Answer. The increase in population in relatively secure or better status since 1968 can be attributed to the effectiveness of the military and pacification campaigns and the comparative absence of enemy resistance, caused in part by their military losses during 1968 and in part by their concentration in 1969 on attacks on U.S. forces. It was not until later in 1969 that the enemy began to focus on the need to resist the pacification campaign. The movement of population to urban areas during earlier periods also contributed to increasing the population within GVN protection. During the past year the major movement has been back to the countryside rather than to the urban areas.

Question 7. How would you assess public altitudes in Viet-Nam today in terms of support for the Government of South Viet-Nam, for the Viet Cong, and those who favor neither?

Answer. There is no fully reliable system for assessing overall public attitudes in Viet-Nam so most judgments are only estimates. However, there is a general consensus among many Americans and Vietnamese that the earlier degree of active support for the Viet Cong has been substantially reduced over the past year, that the degree of active support for the government has been increased over the past year, and that there is still a substantial portion of the total population which have no very strong identification with either. The government’s current programs, of course, are aimed at securing their active participation in such programs as People’s Self Defense, Village Self Development, etc. Even among the non-committed there is a substantial group who believes that the government will probably win and that this is an acceptable outcome, a further difference from several years ago.

Question 8. Has there been a change in the last year in the emphasis placed on the RD cadre program?

Answer. Several years ago, the RD Cadre were looked upon as the main force for pacification. Over the past two years they have been considered only one of the forces participating in pacification, together with the RF, PF, National Police, local officials, etc. Their total strength has remained relatively constant, but their function has changed to put more emphasis on their political and organizational work and less on their paramilitary contribution.

Question 9. What is the pay of the average member of an RD team, compared with pay for a member of ARVN, the Regional or Popular Forces, a Census Grievance Team, a Provincial Reconnaissance Unit, and an Armed Propaganda Team?

Answer. The unmarried RD Cadre team member makes about the same as his ARVN private counterpart. He makes more than the average RF and PF private. Because of the additional allowances available through the military for married personnel at the same levels, the RD Cadre with three children makes more than only the PF in the same status but less than both the ARVN and RF privates.

[In Vietnamese piastres]

Month — single man:
Base pay3,2502,5002,4802,480
Special allowance1,0001,0001,0001,000
Rice allowance200200200200
Hazard pay300
Additional allowances8001,044
Month — married with 3 children:
Base pay3,2502,5002,4802,480
Special allowance1,0001,0001,0001,000
Rice allowance1,0001,0001,0001,000
Hazard pay300
Additional allowances2,2002,919



Question 10. Do Province and District Advisors report on corruption? To whom? What action is then taken?

Answer. Province and District Advisors report on corruption in a variety of forms. The HES carries a question on it. In addition, individual reports are submitted through channels. Action is decided at various command levels and the matter is taken up at the appropriate level with Vietnamese officials who can take action on it.

Question 11. Is it possible that Vietnamese officials involved in local development, the RD cadres and so on, are now being organized as the nucleus of a political organization?

Answer. It is of course possible. We have not seen signs of organization outside the government structure except in certain limited areas (I Corps).

Question 12. What is the Viet Cong recruiting rate now, compared with a year ago?

Answer. The estimated average recruitment rate for the period January to August 1969 was over half again as high as it was during the period September 1969 to January 1970.

Question 13. What has been the performance thus far of the Popular Self Defense Force in terms of the ratio of Viet Cong to PSDF killed in action?

Answer. During 1969 the ratio was 1.21 enemy killed to 1 friendly.

Question 14. Is the District Advisor supposed to visit each hamlet in his district every month in connection with the Hamlet Evaluation System? How many hamlets must the average District Advisor visit in a week to cover every hamlet each month? What percentage of the “A,” “B,” and “C” hamlets are ‘not visited by a District Advisor in an average month?

Answer. The District Senior Advisor must evaluate each hamlet within his district each month, visiting as many as he can, but using other sources of information such as the district staff, his own staff, contacts with local officials, MAT teams, etc. The average district in Viet-Nam contains about 50 hamlets so if he were to visit every hamlet, he would have to visit about 12 each week. Data from January HES indicates that 8.7 percent of the ABC hamlets in the nation were not visited by any U.S. advisory personnel during that month.

Question 15. What percentage of the District Advisors can speak and understand Vietnamese well enough to evaluate a hamlet without an interpreter — let us say at the three level or above? How well do interpreters speak English?

Answer. (a) Military:


[In percent]

Total percentage42.923.7

(b) Civilian: From a total of 80 DSAs and DDSAs, 23 are able to speak and understand Vietnamese at the S3 level or better. This represents 28 percent of the total civilian advisor force.

Question 16. How long does an average District Senior Advisor serve in his district? How long is the overlap with his predecessor? How soon after he arrives does he begin filing HES reports?

Answer. The average District Senior Advisor serves 10 months in his district. The average overlap with his predecessor is less than one week. The DSA is responsible for the HES report as soon as he takes command of the district team. In most cases, he relies heavily upon his deputy and team personnel during the first month or two.

Question 17. Does the Government of South Viet-Nam rely on U.S. collected data for its pacification and security measurements? How do their statistics of the percentage of population under South Viet-Nam Government control differ from the U.S. figures?

Answer. The GVN uses information from the HES to set goals and evaluate pacification programs. GVN references to pacification status use HES as their basic information. At various times both the GVN and U.S. sides will use different terminology but the underlying statistics are the same.

Question 18. If the Viet Cong used the HES system, is it not likely that they would count the “C” hamlets as under their control? {p.419}

Answer. Since the NLF claims 80 percent of the population and territory under its control, it would necessarily claim many C hamlets. The VC might actually consider many C hamlets contested, but hardly under VC control.

Question 19. In addition to administering CORDS operations in their areas, are District Advisers also charged with evaluating the success of the activities in which they are engaged? Do you believe that this is a sound managerial principle?

Answer. District Advisors are primarily advisors, not administrators. The administration of the Pacification Program is a Vietnamese responsibility. The District Advisors evaluate their performance in addition to advising them. The District Advisor is the closest resident American to the situation on the ground and thus is the most likely to be able to follow the details of local activities. The District Senior Advisor evaluation is supplemented by inspectors and evaluators from the MACV, Corps and Province level, so that there is independent evaluation in this respect. This is the best managerial principle workable in Viet-Nam.

Question 20. (a) Does the South Vietnamese constitution provide for an inspectorate to police corruption?

(b) How long after the constitution was adopted was it organized?

(c) Has it submitted reports?

(d) How many convictions resulted?

(e) What was the average sentence?

Answer. The Vietnamese Constitution, adopted 1 April 1967, provided for an Inspectorate to be established no later than two years from the date the first National Assembly was established. The members of the Inspectorate were sworn into office on 30 October 1968.

According to the Chairman of the Inspectorate, in the first year of operation of the Inspectorate, 2,000 cases were sent to the Inspectorate for action, all of which were resolved. Twelve were prosecuted in court, 10 dismissed from office, and 20 demoted or transferred. The Inspectorate recommended punishment of 38 military officers. The additional detail is not available.

Question 21. How many Province or District Chiefs were removed for cause last year? How many were accused and convicted of corruption?

Answer. Twenty-three Province Chiefs were relieved for all causes with one of them for corruption, during the period 1 January 1969 to 28 February 1970. This officer was convicted by the GVN and is in prison. During the same period, 149 District Chiefs were relieved for all causes, two of them for corruption. It is not known whether the Inspectorate recommended their trial or was content only with their removal.

Question 22. How many South Vietnamese officials, in total, were convicted of corruption last year?

Answer. The answer in meaningful terms is not available as no composite records are being kept by the GVN.

Refugees and other Social Aspects of the War

Question 1. Were any South Vietnamese officials arrested and convicted in the last year for corrupt activities in connection with the refugee program? How many, and what was the average sentence?

Answer. During the past year four Ministry of Social Welfare Provincial Service Chiefs were arrested, three for misappropriation of commodities and one for “intent to defraud.” Court decisions in these cases are still pending.

Question 2. How many refugee camps are now in operation? What proportion of the population in these camps is housed in temporary shelters? What percent of the refugees are sympathetic to the Viet Cong?

Answer. In the Refugee Program a distinction is made between temporary and resettlement camps, or sites. In temporary sites, refugees are housed in shelters of varying quality ranging from schoolrooms and tents to semi-permanent houses, built by the GVN. Refugees normally remain in temporary status only for a short time and then either return to their original homes or are given the opportunity to build permanent-type homes in resettlement sites. At resettlement sites, the houses, built with GVN assistance, compare with the average houses of the locality. As of December 1969, there were 646 refugee camps in operation, with a total population of 518,000. Of these, approximately 145,000 or 28% are living in temporary shelters. The percent of refugees sympathetic to the Viet Cong is obviously unknown, although a number of the refugees have family members with the Viet Cong.

Question 3. Why is there such a great disparity between conditions in different refugee camps?

Answer. Disparity depends on factors such as security, effectiveness of local officials, leadership among the refugees, logistics problems, etc. {p.420}

Question 4. How many Vietnamese doctors and other health personnel are attached to these camps? How many U.S. civilian or military doctors or other health personnel are available to treat refugees?

Answer. Forty-three Vietnamese midwives and 39 trained health workers are attached directly to refugee camps, but no doctors. Vietnamese provincial medical personnel serve refugees as well as the general population. One third country national doctor is assigned to the CORDS Refugee Division in I Corps to inspect and arrange solutions to acute medical and sanitation problems within the camps in that area. On the U.S. side, military and civilian doctors working with the Provincial Medical Services give attention to refugees as well as the general population. Military medical personnel participate in the Medical Civil Assistance Program (MEDCAP), conducting frequent medical assistance missions to villages and refugee camps. A number of voluntary agency representatives and voluntary agency medical teams from Korea, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, England, Spain, Iran, Nationalist China, The Philippines, and Australia also assist. These teams usuaully work in provincial or urban hospitals or medical centers but do provide services to refugees as well.

Question 5. How many Vietnamese have been uprooted from their homes in some way since the war began? How many people in what used to be the rural population have moved to the urban areas since the war began? What does this mean in terms of post-war adjustment problems?

Answer. About 3,500,000 people have been uprooted during the past six years. The urban population of Viet-Nam is now almost 40 percent of the total, an increase of 10 to 20 percent in the past 10 years. As security has expanded a substantial number of people have moved back to the rural areas from refugee centers and other concentrated population areas. During 1969, 488,000 people received government assistance to return to their home villages. The remaining urban concentration, however, is substantial and is a substantial problem for the Government of Viet-Nam. The Pacification and Development Plan for 1970 includes a section dealing with urban problems.

Question 6. How much does the Government of South Viet-Nam spend per capita on public health programs? How much does the United States contribute?

Answer. In the 1960 GVN National Budget, 3,881,400,000 $vN was appropriated for Public Health programs of all types. With a rounding of population figures to 17 million persons this amounts to 229 $VN per capita. This program has received increasing attention from the GVN as comparative figures show that this part of the budget was only 1.85 billion piasters in 1966, 2.5 billion in 1967, and 3.6 billion in 1968. U.S. Government assistance to public health programs in FY 69 total $41,867,000. This does not include sizable contributions by Free World Assistance and voluntary agencies.

Question 7. How much in compensation is paid by the Government of South Viet-Nam and by the United States to survivors of a civilian accidentally killed in military operations? How much is paid for a house destroyed?

Answer. In a solatium program, conducted by the Ministry of Social Welfare supported by American Aid Chapter Funds, the survivors of a civilian accidentally killed in military operations receive VN $4,000 if the deceased was 15 years or older and VN $2,000 if the deceased was younger. When a house is destroyed between 20 and 50 percent, the head of the family receives VN $3,000 for its reconstruction and a 15-day rice supply. If the house was damaged over 50 percent, the family receives VN $7,500, plus 10 sheets of roofing and a 30-day rice supply. Moreover, needy war widows, orphans, and disabled persons may receive PL-480 food. These payments are not intended as compensation, but as assistance from the government in time of need.

Question 8. What is the average time taken to settle a claim — from damage to payment? How many claims against the South Vietnamese Government and the United States for damage to persons and property are now pending? How many claims have been paid thus far for death, injury, or property damage by both governments?

Answer. In Viet-Nam, there are two war-damage claim programs: one involving claims against the U.S. Government: and one involving claims against the Viet-nainese Government.

a. Against the United States Government:

Since December 1965, the U.S. Government has adjudicated 21,207 claims, approving 14.058, denying 6,937, and forwarding 212 to higher authority. A total of $4,732,750 has been paid as of 28 February 1970.

As of 28 February 1970, there were 1,518 claims pending against the U.S. Government. {p.421}

b. Against the Vietnamese Government:

Under the current relief system put into effect during 1969, the emergency reserve fund at the province level is used to pay war victim claims, usually within 30 days. However, under an older system which was in effect during 1968 and early 1969, the average time taken to settle a claim was much longer. In 1968-1969, the Ministry of Social Welfare, which is supported by the American Aid Chapter, paid 433,766 claims. In the same period, the Ministry of Defense paid 17,118 claims (excluding those of defoliation).

As of 14 March 1970, there were 35,000 claims pending at the Ministry of Social Welfare, which is supported by the American Aid Chapter, and 294 cases pending at the Ministry of Defense.

Question 9. (a) Is compensation paid by the United States or the government of South Viet-Nam for defoliation damage to crops or other growing things?

Answer. Compensation for defoliation damages are paid by the U.S. Government with funds administered under the MILCAP Program. A total of 207,-380,183 $VN has been paid during the period January 1968 to December 1969. These funds are paid out by the Government of Viet-Nam.

Part (b) of question 9.  How many acres have been taken out of cultivation by defoliation? How many acres have been sprayed in all thus far?

Answer. No acreage has been taken out of cultivation. The herbicides used do not prevent future recultivation. Acres subjected to herbicide operations (1962-1969):

(1)Crop destruction 385,073
(2)Defoliation (e.g., LOCs, Tactical ops areas) 4,129,840
  Total area sprayed thus far (1962-69) 4,514,913

Part (c) of question 9.  How much has been paid out in compensation?

Answer. Amount of compensation paid Jan. 1968 to Dec. 1969: $VN 207,380,183.

Part (d) of question 9.  Is the United States supplying defoliants to the South Vietnamese armed forces?

Answer. United States provides herbicides to the GVN.

Chieu Hoi Program

Question 1. Among those who “rallied” last year, what percentage had been in the Viet Cong for a year or less? What level was the average “rallier” who came in last year? How many defectors last year were members of Viet Cong or North Vietnamese fighting units?

Answer. Although statistics are unavailable on all Hoi Chanh as to what percentage had been in the Viet Cong for less than a year, a random survey conducted by the Systems Development Corporation in 1969 indicates that:

a. 17.9 percent served for 1-5 months prior to rallying;

b. 17.2 percent served for 6-10 months;

c. 24.8 percent served for 11-15 months;

d. 38.7 percent served 15 months or longer;

e. 1.4 percent of the sample did not give information on length of service.

57.2 percent of all ralliers are hamlet or village guerrillas or cadre. Returnees from district level or above constitute 10.6 percent. The remainder are VC civilian personnel including VCI.

28,045 returnees in 1969 were classified as military VC or NVA, meaning they belonged to some military unit (60 percent of the total).

Question 2. How do we know that a “rallier” is truly a defector? Do we rely on the Vietnamese to tell us that a “rallier” was a Viet Cong and that he has changed his allegiance? Are there any repeats under the program?

Answer. All ralliers are interrogated by the police and a cross-check is made on their story to the extent feasible. This is handled by Vietnamese, although Americans have access to the interrogations and occasionally interrogate the ralliers. There are some repeats in the program, but rarely.

Question 3. What is to prevent a “rallier” from going back to the Viet Cong? How many do?

Answer. Nothing prevents him from returning to the Viet Cong, as he is free to leave the Chieu Hoi Center and, of course, free after he is released from it. Surveys of returnees by Rand Corporation and others indicate that less than one percent may have gone back to the Viet Cong.

Question 4. Do Armed Propaganda Teams ever go on operations to capture members of the Viet Cong? Do they ever work with Provincial Reconnaissance Units? {p.422}

Answer. APTs do not go on missions to capture VC nor work with the PRU. They do accompany military units on occasion on cordon and search operations etc., to make contact with VC and their families.

Question 5. Do Armed Propaganda Teams have American Advisors? If so, how many in total and to whom do they report? How is the effectiveness of a team measured?

Answer. APTs have American Advisors assigned from the province teams. Twenty-eight provinces have such advisors, who report to the Province Chieu Hoi Advisor who in turn reports to the Province Senior Advisor. APT effectiveness is determined by their activities and the numbers of Hoi Chanh who report having been induced by the APT.

Question 6. The prepared statement on the Chieu Hoi program referred to bogus returnees, ARVN deserters and enemy agents. How many of these were there last year? Are they included in the 47,000 total for last year?

Answer. No figures are kept on the number of bogus returnees or ARVN deserters who try to enter the program. These are weeded out in the interrogation process before they are classified as returnees and therefore are not counted in the total figures. During 1969, 59 enemy agents were arrested trying to infiltrate the Chieu Hoi program.

Question 7. On page 3 of the statement it was said that returnees receive 72 hours of political training at the center. How is the effectiveness of the training measured?

Answer. The effectiveness of political training is measured by evaluation forms filled in by Ministry of Chieu Hoi personnel and U.S. Advisors. This includes attitude of instructor, use of training materials, class participation, etc.

Question 8. Is there any estimate of how many Viet Cong who come in through the Chieu Hoi program were ever believers in Communism as an ideology?

Answer. Most returnees probably do not believe in Communism as an ideology. However, a 1968 survey indicated that 6 percent were party organization cadre and another 7.8 percent party rank and file. During 1969, 4,832 Hoi Chanh were credited under the Phung Hoang Program, meeting its standards as members of the infrastructure. A substantial number of these were presumably believers in Communism.

Phoenix Program

Question 1. What is the average length of sentence and of time served in jail by a person captured under the Phoenix Program? How many members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure have been arrested more than once?

Answer. Of the VCI captured, 5 to 10 percent are tried by military court and receive an average sentence of five to six years. Of those sentenced under the administrative detention procedure, the average sentence has been 9 to 12 months. We do not have a reliable estimate of the number of VCI arrested more than once, but a record system is being established which will provide this in the future.

Question 2. What was the rank of the average person “neutralized” under the Phoenix Program — high, middle, or low? Approximately what percentage of those “neutralized” were not bona fide members of the infrastructure?

Answer. See Statement for Record on Phung Hoang Program, Pages 12 and 13 for priorities and levels of those affected by Phoenix Program. During 1969, some were probably included as captured who were later released for lack of evidence. In 1970, these will be included only after sentencing so that this error should be removed. While some abuses or other errors may have taken place, these figures are believed essentially accurate as to the “bona fide members of the infrastructure” affected by the Phoenix Program.

Question 3. Have there every been any studies made by the United States at the village or hamlet level to try to measure the effectiveness of the Phoenix Program? If so, what have those studies shown? Has the abolition of the Phoenix Program, or the termination of United States participation in it, ever been proposed?

Answer. Studies have been made. These have indicated that the size and activities of the VCI have been reduced considerably in many areas, although the essential leadership structure was relatively intact, could carry on many of its earlier activities and serve as a base for future expansion. Many of the posts had been filled on paper and internal document and Hoi Chanh reported difficulty in maintaining earlier levels of activity. While informal suggestions have been made to abolish the Phoenix Program or terminate U.S. participation, a formal proposal and decision, pro or con, have not taken place. Changes in organization and structure and tactics, etc., are constantly under study in an effort to improve the program.

Question 4. Do you think that the Phoenix Program has destroyed the effectiveness of the Viet Cong Infrastructure? Is it still capable of carrying on the political and administrative side of the war for the Viet Cong? {p.423}

Answer. The Phoenix Program has not destroyed but has diminished the effectiveness of the VC Infrastructure. See Statement for Record on Phung Hoang Program, Pages 15-16. The VCI is still capable of conducting political and administrative activities, but at a reduced level. The Phoenix Program has contributed to this reduction of VC capability which has also been produced by other aspects of the overall pacification program.

Question 5. Does the operation of the Phoenix Program interfere with the efforts of hamlet and village officials to maintain their own local sources of information? Should village officials have more control over the program, rather than Army or police officials who are unresponsive to local sentiment? Does the Phoenix Program run counter to the announced policy of developing village government?

Answer. The operation of the Phoenix Program does not work against hamlet and village officials, but has incorporated them as an essential element of the program. Village operations centers are being established which involve the Village Chiefs and other significant village leaders, plus the National Policeman who is under the Village Chief’s authority. These collect information on the VCI in the neighborhood and integrate this information into the Phoenix Program. They do not interfere with the local officials’ sources of information. Thus the Phoenix Program is consistent with the policy of strengthening village government in that it relies upon the village government for contributions to the program. Direction has been given (but is not adequately executed yet) that Village Chiefs must be informed of all arrests within the village, precisely in order to reinforce the Village Chief’s authority and to ensure consideration of matters known to him as the responsible local official.

Question 6. How much U.S. money was involved in the operation of the Phoenix Program last year?

Answer. During 1969, approximately $US 350,000 was expended in direct support of U.S. civilian personnel and for necessary supplies and equipment for U.S. Phoenix advisory staff officers. This sum does not include the pay and allowances for 441 U.S. military personnel assigned to the Phoenix Program. Approximately 236 million piasters (equivalent to $US 2 million) of U.S. funds were expended in support of the Vietnamese Phonenix {sic: Phoenix} Program, to provide logistic support, construction, payment of local employees, and training, These costs do not include U.S. support of other programs such as the RF/PF, National Police, intelligence services, information services, etc., which participate in the Phoenix effort. It is not possible to segregate the portion of those costs devoted to Phoenix.

Question 7. Are rewards offered for information on members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure? How much and how is the money paid?

Answer. Rewards are offered for information on members of the VCI. Normally these rewards do not exceed 10,000 piasters ($84.75), although exceptions are occasionally made. The rewards are normally paid to the recipient by a Vietnamese official, who has been provided the funds and is sometimes accompanied by a U.S. advisor.

Question 8. What was the cost to the United States last year of the Provincial Reconnaissance Unit program? What is the estimated cost for 1970? Are there any ex-Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in Provincial Reconnaissance Units? If so, how many? Do U.S. advisors ever go on Provincial Reconnaissance Unit operations?

Answer. PRU budget 1969, $5,553,600; 1970, $6,159,500. There are screened ex-VC and NVA in PRU units; total estimated not over 200. Since September 1969, U.S. advisors are not authorized to participate in PRU operations.

Question 9. Why are members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure who are arrested and convicted not jailed for the duration of the conflict? What is the justification for releasing known members of the VCI while the war is still going on?

Answer. The administrative detention procedure (An Tri), is limited to a two-year maximum sentence, although this is renewable on reconsideration at the end of the two-year period. Military courts could sentence offenders to any period of time, including death. Sentences are for a determined period of years. The justification for release while the war is still going on is found in the government’s program of rehabilitation. The government has sought to rehabilitate its prisoners and detainees and release those it believes rehabilitated.

Question 10. What is the current estimate of the strength of the Viet Cong Infrastructure in Saigon and the other principal urban areas?

Answer. The Viet Cong Infrastructure in Saigon and other principal urban areas is strong enough to conduct limited terrorist activity but not to exert continuing authority over the area. {p.424}



Question 1. How long do you think American support forces will be required in the Delta? How many members of these forces do you think will be required by the end of 1972?

Answer. Any answer to this question requires an assumption as to objectives and missions for both the Vietnamese and the United States. For example, I have no way of knowing to what extent we will continue to assist the GVN in a road building program, hence cannot estimate the length of time that engineer support forces will be required in the Delta. Based on current trends and assuming no major change in enemy strengths or techniques, I would estimate that a substantial reduction of support forces would take place in the Delta by the end of 1972.

Question 2. What plans are there for the future as far as the size and functions of your staff are concerned? How large do you expect your staff to be in one year? In three years? In five years? How long will it be necessary to keep United States Advisors in the Delta?

Answer. Again, an answer to this question requires speculation as to the policy and objectives of the U.S. Government and its subordinate agencies in Viet-Nam. My staff has been reduced in the past year and I expect additional reductions in the forthcoming year. These reductions are largely related to management improvement or to the completion of certain assistance (such as attaining a satisfactory level of handling education) to the GVN.

Question 3. What is enemy strength in the Delta now compared with a year ago? What is the Viet Cong recruiting rate now compared with a year ago?

Answer. Total enemy strength in the Delta is virtually unchanged as compared with a year ago, but the proportion of NVA personnel has gone up substantially, while VC guerrilla strength is down. VC recruitment is well down from a year ago.

Question 4. Is the Viet Cong Infrastructure in the Delta still functioning? How large is it now compared with a year ago? If there has been a reduction in size, how much is from the top echelon?

Answer. The Viet Cong Infrastructure is still functioning in the Delta, but overt VC and VCI activity has been decreasing steadily over the past six months. This phenomenon appears to be due primarily to the accelerating pace of territorial security. Particularly related to decreasing VC activity is improved and increased activity on the part of the paramilitary PSDF and the militia (RF/PF). Also involved in the reduction of VC activity is an apparent change in VCI tactics. The armed VC forces and the NVA have tended lately to remain in the major VC bases areas, remote and inaccessible. According to captured documents and Hoi Chanh interrogation reports, the VCI have “gone underground” to begin operations on a more covert basis. They do this by obtaining legal GVN documentation through the Chieu Hoi or refugee programs. Once the VCI become legal cadre, they return to their native villages to await further instructions for action at a more propitious time. Indisputable proof of “directed” rallying by the VCI is difficult to obtain but it is relatively easy to do and the VCI have made their intent clear. Thus the only safe assumption is that this type of activity is occurring. It is reportedly widespread.

Those VCI who are still functioning overtly have modified their priorities substantially. Captured VC documents stress the need for more emphasis on military proselytizing within the GVN ranks, increased farmer’s association activities, and widespread general propaganda. Many Village People’s Revolutionary Councils or Committees were chosen through some type of VC-controlled elections. Many of these organizations function merely on paper with little actual impact on the village, but the extent of this type of activity indicates that the VCI view basic political organizing with some sense of urgency.

Any analysis of the size of the VCI is difficult to make because estimates vary greatly. It seems probable that the actual figure may be in the vicinity of 20,000 significant VCI cadre with about one-third of the figure operating at district or higher level.

Phung Hoang reported that 6,960 VCI cadre were neutralized in 1969. This included 1.742 cadre from district and higher level — a rate of 25 percent. Since there was no directed attempt to conduct operations in order to cause maximum damage to the VCI as an organization, the individuals who were neutralized were replaced with relative ease. Captured documents do indicate that the replacements are not as well-trained or as thoroughly indoctrinated as the older, more experienced cadre.

Undoubtedly, a year and a half of Phung Hoang activity has had an effect on the VCI as an organization. It should be reiterated, however, that the major factor inhibiting the activity of the VCI is the adverse trend — from a VC point {p.425} of view — of pacification as a whole. It is this trend which has forced the VCI to adopt a low profile policy of seeking to establish legal, semi-covert cadre and build up new bases for political action at the village and hamlet level.

Question 5. Do the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese have the capacity to upset the recent progress in pacification in the Delta? What do you think they intend to dot

Answer. My assessment is that the enemy’s strategy is to oppose and attempt to roll back pacification. It is my opinion that they will be unable to do this given their current strength levels and capabilities. This assessment would obviously change if the enemy were to bring in additional NVA units and apply additional resources to this objective. Even assuming the latter, there would be no dramatic roll-back of pacification since the pacification expansion is based on the physical presence of over 1,000 additional RF and PF units that did not exist a year ago.

Question 6. What is the official pay of the average Vietnamese province and district chief? How much does it cost them to live in the style expected of persons in their position? What has been your experience in seeking to have corrupt GVN officials removed?

Answer. The average province chief has the military rank of lieutenant colonel. Assuming a wife and three children a lieutenant colonel province chief would have pay and allowances totalling 28,000 VN$ (US$ 237) each month plus a house, car and servants. Additionally, he would have an expense and entertainment allowance of from 8,500 VN$ to 25,000 VN$ (US$ 72 to 212) a month. For the purpose of this answer, the average province chief would be assumed to have an expense/entertainment allowance of 17,000 VN$ (US$ 144). This net income of 45,000 VN$ (US$ 381) would be approximately half of what I estimate to be his average expenses each month: 90,000 VN$ (US$ 762). With the same assumptions for a district chief, the average district chief is deemed to be a major with a wife and three children. His income would approximate 16,250 VN$ (US$ 137.75) plus a house, car and servants. He does not receive an expense or entertainment allowance. His average expenditures per month are estimated by me to be 49,000 VN$ (US$ 415.54), or approximately three times his legal income.

In IV CTZ, during the past three years, there has been a 160 per cent turnover in the district chief positions and a 175 percent turnover in the province chief positions. About 40 per cent of these changes were due to normal duty rotation. The remainder were due to charges of corruption, malfeasance, and incompetence.

Question 7. If the South Vietnamese armed forces are not able to withstand massive enemy attacks at some point in the future, the 28,000 Americans there will be in a very vulnerable position. Are we not taking a big chance by not protecting them with American forces? And after all United States ground combat forces are withdrawn from South Viet-Narn, won’t the problem of protecting hundreds of thousands become even more serious?

Answer. The question implies assumptions which, in my judgment, are not warranted. In all the time I have been in Viet-Nam, I have never been aware of an instance wherein adequate protection was not provided to American Advisors or support personnel by Vietnamese armed forces or police. If anything, U.S. personnel in such roles are provided a disproportionately high level of security sometimes to the extent of the security arrangements interfering with their work performance requirements. I do not see the likelihood that the security of U.S. personnel will be unduly jeopardized if they are not protected by U.S. combat forces. Throughout Viet-Nam, there are thousands of advisors in all Corps Tactical Zones whose security is now and has been the full responsibility of the GVN.

Question 8. How many hamlets in IV Corps have been downgraded in the HES ratings since the 9th US Infantry was withdrawn from the Delta?

Answer. The 9th US Division was physically present in only two of the 16 provinces within the Delta. Pacification progress has continued both throughout the Delta and specifically in the two provinces where the US 9th Division was located. Specifically, on 30 June 1969, there were 2,861 hamlets in the Delta in HES category ratings of A, B and C. On 31 December 1969, there were 3,319 hamlets in these categories. Within the specific area occupied by the US 9th Division (Kien Hoa and Dinh Tuong Provinces), on 30 June 1969, these two provinces had a total of 593 hamlets in the HES categories A, B and C and on 31 December, they had a total of 691 hamlets in these categories or an increase of 10.4 per cent since the departure of the US 9th Division.

Question 9. It has been reported in the press that the South Vietnamese Government has recently moved additional forces into certain Delta areas where Viet Cong forces had been strengthened. You said in your prepared statement that progress in those areas is now “slower.” Have any HES ratings been lowered? If not, why? {p.426}

Answer. The VNA invasion of the Delta has had little impact on pacification since most of the NVA forces have moved into unpopulated areas or have been located along remote sections of the Cambodian border. An exception to this is Tri Ton District of Chau Doc Province where the proximity of the 18-B NVA Regiment to the hamlets of Tri Ton District has resulted in 31 of these hamlets being reduced from HES categories A and B to HES category C and 19 HES category C hamlets to contested (D and E) status. Overall, however, progress has been made in pacification since and during the introduction of NVA units into the Delta.

Question 10. When were all United States combat forces withdrawn from the Fourth Corps area? Did the number of U.S. military advisors increase when U.S. combat forces were withdrawn?

Answer. A reduction of U.S. combat forces in the Delta began in June 1969 and was completed on 31 August 1969. Because of the requirement for processing these forces for out-shipment, the effective removal of U.S. ground combat forces is considered by me to have been July of 1969. The number of U.S. military advisors has not increased since the withdrawal of U.S. forces. This is true not only for the Delta in its entirety, but specifically for the two provinces where the U.S. 9th Division was located. There are no plans to increase the number of U.S. advisors within IV CTZ.

Question 11. How many reports do you file weekly, monthly, annually?

Answer. The following count is of reports submitted to various agencies by province advisory teams in IV CTZ on a recurring basis. The reports include administrative, logistical, intelligence and operational reports as well as pacification progress reporting.

Annual 1
Semiannual 1
Quarterly 10
Bimonthly 2
Monthly 36
Weekly 6
Daily 3
As required 26
Total 85

The following count is of reports submitted by CORDS headquarters and includes only those dealing with pacification progress reporting.

Quarterly 2
Monthly 7
Weekly 2
As required 4
Total 15

Equating the above listed report counts to a monthly requirement basis, the following count arises. As Required reports are not included in this computation.

Province 158
CORDS Headquarters 16
Total 174


Question 1. What plans are there for the future relating to the size and functions of your staff?

Answer. As I mentioned in my testimony, we constantly look for ways to work ourselves out of our jobs as Vietnamese officials gain the necessary experience and competence. In my 15 months in Dalat we have eliminated a refugee and social welfare advisor, a logistics advisor, a nursing advisor, a public information advisor, an assistant police advisor, and three military advisors at various levels. We are now working on a reorganization of the team to eliminate a separate advisory section for Dalat City, incorporating the work of one U.S. Army captain, one Vietnamese area specialist and one secretary in our existing development and military operations sections. Before the end of this year we expect to be able to eliminate an agricultural advisor, a non-commissioned advisor to the Revolutionary and Montagnard Cadre teams, an assistant advisor to the RF and PF (a captain’s position), two civilian advisors to the police special branch, and several {p.427} Vietnamese administrative and clerical employees. In addition, we will share our Chieu Hoi advisor with two other provinces, replace a Filipino radio operator with a Vietnamese who is now in training, and possibly transfer a five-man mobile advisory team and a three-man RF battalion advisory team working in the Da Nhim Special Zone to the Ninh Thuan Province team whose location enables it to support and control the teams more effectively than we can. It is difficult to rapidly reduce the size of district and mobile advisory team because, operating independently in remote and frequently dangerous locations, they must be large enough so that there will always be: (a) an officer present in spite of leaves, illness, and required trips out of the area; (b) adequate personnel to handle 24-hour radio watches; (c) a medic present; and (d) sufficient personnel for team defense. Nevertheless, as our role becomes more and more that of monitoring Vietnamese programs rather than advising, we expect to be able to reduce the number of mobile advisory teams as well as the size of the province-level team.

Qestion 2. {sic: Question} You say that there are no United States combat forces in your province. How many U.S. support forces are there? How many U.S. advisors in all — both civilian and military — are there in the province? What is the strength of the ARVN, RF, and PF? What is enemy strength in your province?

Answer. The total strength of U.S. support forces in the province is a little over 1,000. There are the following U.S. advisors: CORDS, 30 military officers, 55 NCOs, 11 civilians; Military Academy, 12 officers, 4 enlisted; Command and General Staff College, 2 Officers, 1 enlisted; Political Warfare College, 1 officer, 1 enlisted; National Police Field Force training center, 4 civilian, 6 military; regional highway advisory detachment, 2 civilians. The Vietnamese military (RF, PF, and ARVN) total some 6,000. Estimated enemy strength is around 2,000.

Question 3. Do you report on corruption? Were any Vietnamese officials in your province removed for corruption last year? Were any of them prosecuted?

Answer. As incidents or rumors of corruption come to our attention we report them. For instance, the former National Police chief and his deputy were both removed for corruption and put in jail in Saigon. Prosecution in such cases is diffcult {sic: difficult} because of lack of evidence and the unwillingness of others involved to testify. As the next best alternative, suspected officials are transferred out of their former areas to new jobs where they know the American advisor is watching them closely. They frequently perform satisfactorily and honestly.

Question 4. How many member of the Viet Cong Infrastructure are in your province now compared with a year ago?

Answer. We estimate that roughly 10% of VCI strength in Tuyen Duc and Dalat was neutralized in the past year.

Question 5. Would you describe the function and method of operation of the Province Security Committee? What percentage of the apprehended Viet Cong Infrastructure are tried by these Committees? What is the average sentence and the average length of time served?

Answer. The Province Security Committee (PSC) functions as a quasijudicial tribunal which determines the sufficiency of evidence against suspected “communist offenders.” It is directed by the Province Chief and is composed of the chiefs of the National Police, police special branch, sector S-2, military security service, and the judge of the provincial court acting as legal advisor. A dossier is prepared on the arrested person by the special police before his hearing. It includes bio data, family history, criminal record, personal statements during interrogation, and intelligence reports indicating his involvement with the communists. The special police chief will tentatively classify the individual in accordance with Ministry of Interior guidelines as category A (leaders of NLF and People’s Revolutionary Party organizations, heads of assassination teams, espionage units, armed propaganda units, front organizations, etc.); category B (members of the above organizations); or category C (suppliers and other low-level supporters). If the PSC determines that the evidence supports this classification, it sentences the person as follows: category A, two years; category B, one year to 18 months; category C, three to six months. A and B offenders are imprisoned in national detention centers, while category C are sent to the province rehabilitation center. The sentences of A and B offenders are open ended and their cases can be heard again by the PCS at the end of their sentences.

There is no U.S. involvement after a suspect’s apprehension, making it difficult to follow up to determine final disposition of the case. The PSC in Tuyen Duc has consistently applied strict rules of evidence in cases brought before it. Unless the suspect has admitted hi? involvement in communist activities, the PCS almost never classifies him higher than C category, with the result that most apprehended suspects serve less than six months or are released outright after investigation. {p.428}


Question 6. How soon do you think the Vietnamese in your province will be capable of doing for themselves all the things in which United States personnel are now involved?

Answer. In many areas of our team’s activity, the Vietnamese are already fully capable of performing the work themselves but we still must have an American to monitor the use of American commodities and prepare the required periodic reports. As discussed in question No. 1, we are consolidating such positions as quickly as possible and should be able to reduce the team to about half its present size within the next 18 months. I would hope that within about three years all CORDS advisors could be removed from this province, although I believe that peacetime programs of economic and social development such as we have supported in other developing countries may require the presence of one or two American civilians after that. As for American support troops in this province, the engineers probably will be removed after they have finished work on National Highway 11 later this year; the communications units, which chiefly provide relay services for American forces outside the province, can be reduced as U.S. forces are replaced by Vietnamese troops; and the U.S. artillery can be removed as soon as the Vietnamese receive comparable equipment and adequate experience, perhaps in as little as 18 months. Logistical and air support units will also be unnecessary when other U.S. troops have gone.

Question 7. Is the Province Chief in your province from the province originally?

Answer. The Province Chief of Tuyen Duc is from Go Cong Province in the Delta. Before coming here in March 1969, he served for four years as Province Chief in Binh Long, III Corps.

Question 8. On page 2 of your prepared statement, you mentioned that Dalai has a university, the Vietnamese National Military Academy, the Command and General Staff College and numerous other institutions. Are American advisors attached to the university, the military academy, and the Command and General Staff College? What assistance has the United States given to these institutions? Do you know the cost involved in each case?

Answer. There are no American advisors at Dalat University, although one Fulbright instructor of English teaches there full time and a USIA officer teaches part time. The university is supported by the Catholic Church and the Viet-namese Government. As far as I know, the U.S. Government has never given any money to it directly but has contributed some vised furniture and some construction and roofing materials for repairs, and through a grant to the Asia Foundation assisted in the development of library facilities through the provision of books and training. Of the total grant, about $60-80 thousand is attributable to Dalat. Data on U.S. assistance to the Military Academy and Command and General Staff College is given below:

 Military academyCommand and general staff college
Authorized16 (12 officers)5 (4 officers)
Assigned13 (10 officers)4 (3 officers)
U.S. assistanceVietnamese dollars, 300,000,000 (1968)U.S. dollars,
6,400 (1970)
FacilitiesVietnamese dollars, 281,000,000 (1969) 

Question 9. At the top of Page 3, you stated that since Tet “the Viet Cong 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, and disrupt programs of the Vietnamese Government by assassinating officials, blowing up rural health stations, schools and administrative offices, and intimidating the people.” How does Viet Cong strength now compare with two years ago? Have HES ratings of hamlets been lowered as a result of this enemy activity?

Answer. Two years ago VC military forces in the province were about the same strength as today but at that time they had free run of many populated areas from which they have since been driven by the GVN. HES ratings reflect the presence and activities of VC force in populated areas. As the GVN has extended its control to virtually all settled communities in the province and pushed the VC back into mountain base areas, the HES ratings have moved upward. In periods of heavy VC activity, however, as in the fall of 1969 and in January 1970, HES ratings have been lowered to show the decreased security.

Question 10. You must have many opportunities in your work to observe political developments in your province. Does the Embassy Lake advantage of the presence of Foreign Service Officers to inform itself of events of the countryside? Can you com- {p.429} municate directly with the Embassy about such matters? Does MACV prohibit your communicating with the Embassy if you do not go through the MACV chain of command?

Answer. The Embassy has selected one CORDS employee in each province, usually a Foreign Service Officer, to report on significant political and economic developments in his area. Because we work for MACV and not the Embassy, we submit our reports through the MACV chain of command rather than directly. Delays which sometimes used to occur in forwarding the reports seem to have been eliminated and I know of no case where reports to the Embassy have been stopped or altered. In addition to this formal channel, we frequently discuss our observations with the officer from the Embassy’s political section who is assigned to the Corps area.

Question 11. How many reports do you file weekly? Monthly? Annually?

Answer. Our team submits the following regular periodic reports: 3 daily, 9 weekly, 48 monthly, 6 quarterly, 1 semi-annually and 4 annually. In addition, we submit perhaps 50 to 80 one-time spot reports each month.



Question 1. What plans are there for the future as far as the size and functions of your staff are concerned?

Answer. We plan to reduce the size of the district team in Binh Chanh District from fourteen to six members through normal rotation by 30 June 1970. Advisory positions in the reduced team are as follows: District Senior Advisor, Deputy District Senior Advisor (civilian), District Intelligence and Operations Coordinating Center Advisor, People’s Self Defense Force Advisor and two Radio Operators.

Question 2. How would you estimate public opinion in your district in terms of support for the Government of South Viet-Nam, the Viet Cong, and those not aligned with either side?

Answer. Approximately 40 per cent of the people of Binh Chanh District support the Government of South Viet-Nam, 10 per cent of the people support the Viet Cong and 50 per cent have not committed themselves to either side.

Question 3. Is the district chief a native of the district? The province?

Answer. LTC Nguyen Ba Di, the District Chief, was born in Can Giouc District, Long An Province. His birthplace is approximately ten miles from the Binh Chanh District Headquarters and while he is not technically a native of the District or Province he is a native of the same geographic and ethnic area.

Question 4. How many reports do you file weekly? Monthly? Annually?

Answer. The District submits 8 weekly, 14 monthly and 2 annual reports. These are standard reoccurring {sic: reoccuring} reports and do not include spot reports and reports submitted on “as required” basis.

Question 5. On page 3 of your statement, you stated that “the Viet Cong Infrastructure and the local guerrillas have been reduced to squad and half squad size units per village and there is very little organization left at hamlet level.” Does the Viet Cong still have the capability of disrupting the pacification program in your district? How many Vietnamese were killed, wounded or abducted by the Viet Cong last year and how many the year before?

Answer. The Viet Cong still possess the capability to disrupt the Pacification Program for short nonsustained periods. In most cases the local village guerrillas have been unable to cause any disruption to the Program without assistance from members of the Viet Cong Main Force units which are based outside the District boundaries. Viet Cong actions directed against civilians during 1968, excluding the Tet Offensive, resulted in 46 killed, 101 wounded and 49 abducted. In 1969 there were 27 killed, 53 wounded and 9 abducted. To date in 1970 there have been 2 civilians killed and 2 wounded by the Viet Cong. These figures are approximate.

Question 6. On the bottom of Page 4 of your statement, you stated that you plan to place increased emphasis on the People’s Self Defense Forces Program during 1970 “since a success in this area will increase identity with the government ...” What do you mean by “increase identity with the government?”

Answer. When a person joins the People’s Self Defense Force he identifies himself as a supporter of the Government of South Viet-Nam. In addition, he is showing his fellow villagers and the Viet Cong as well that he is willing to become involved in the affairs of his village. He accepts the fact that he must donate his time and energy in order to defend and develop his village. He does this knowing quite well that he is now a “marked man.” He is no longer considered “uncommitted” by the Viet Cong. They recognize that as the people are organized into the People’s Self Defense Force they will lose the passive support they have enjoyed in the past. Therefore, the Viet Cong are directing a campaign of propa- {p.430} ganda and terrorism against the members of the People’s Self Defense Force to prevent the people from casting their lot with their Village, Province and National Government.

Question 7. On Page 5 of your statement, you stated that the Chieu Hoi program did not do well during 1969. Why not?

Answer. There were a number of problems in the administration of the program and training of Chieu Hoi cadres. In addition, the Viet Cong remaining in Binh Chanh District are hard-core apparently highly motivated individuals who know how to avoid allied operations, know their area of operations well and seemingly have no confidence in the Chieu Hoi Program.




The Chairman. Then I want to put in the record, Mr. Reporter, some statements that have been compiled by the Library of Congress, and a similar compilation from the Washington Post, relative to the progress or lack of progress made in Vietnam over the years to give a sense of perspective to the judgment of our present people on the same situation.

(The material referred to follows:)


[From the Library of Congress,
Legislative Reference Service,
June 6, 1967]

To: Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

From: Foreign Affairs Division.

Subject: Selected statements by members of the executive branch on victory in Vietnam and removal of U.S. troops.

Statements by President Kennedy and his leading advisers in 1963 indicated they did not believe that large-scale introduction of U.S. troops into South Vietnam would be necessary. Statements by President Kennedy, by Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Defense McNamara indicated that the South Vietnamese would be able to handle the situation themselves, that U.S. troops would not be needed in more than an advisory and training role, and that even those in a training role could begin returning home in late 1963 and in 1964.

Several statements by Secretary McNamara were optimistic about the termination of the U.S. military mission. A White House statement on October 2, 1963 included the following: “Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965.” Several statements were made by President Kennedy and by Secretary McNamara dealing with the removal of a certain number of U.S. troops by the end of 1963. Some troops were removed, a large number of whom had completed their task of training South Vietnamese policemen. The impression remained, however, that this signified the beginning of the end of the U.S. training mission.

Secretary McNamara in 1963 and 1964 made other statements that could be classified as optimistic. On February 19, 1963, he indicated he thought it would take “maybe 3 or 4 years” to defeat the Viet Cong. In February 1964 he said that “I personally believe this is a war the Vietnamese must fight. I don’t believe we can take on that combat task for them.” By 1965, Secretary McNamara was more cautious in his statements on the duration of the war. In November 1965, he did say after returning from a trip to South Vietnam that “the most vital impression I’m bringing back is that we have stopped losing the war.”

A statement by President Johnson in March 1964, made clear that a large portion of those military advisers who returned had been training guards and policemen in South Vietnam. President Johnson stated that others might return when their task was completed, but that additional men would be sent as required. Some early statements by President Johnson indicated that the Administration was still hopeful about the war’s coming to an end: On January 1, 1964, in a New Year’s message to the chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council in South Vietnam, he wrote: As the forces of your government become increasingly capable of dealing with this aggression, American military personnel in South Vietnam can be progressively withdrawn.” The statement he made in March indicated a gradually changing assessment of the situation. However, in September 1964, during the election campaign. President Johnson did not give the impression that U.S. troops would be used in combat. He said: “We don’t want our American {p.431} boys to do the fighting for Asian boys, we don’t want to get tied down in a land war in Asia.” Other statements by administrative officials in 1964, in 1965, 1966 and 1967 indicated a cautious assessment of how soon the war might be over. However, the Administration did make an arbitrary assumption in drawing up the fiscal 1967 budget “that the conflict would end by June 1967.”

Statements by President Johnson during the past year indicate uncertainty about how long the war might continue. In December 1966, he said: “Just how long they will be required to do so, I am not able to predict. If I did predict it, I would have no doubt but what I would live to regret it.” In March 1967, he said, “I think we have a difficult, serious, long, drawn-out, agonizing problem that we do not yet have the answer for.”

Though Secretary Rusk apparently has not made any specific references, with dates, as to when the U.S. might withdraw from South Vietnam, he did in 1963 show some optimism over developments there. On February 13, he said that “the momentum of the Communist drive has been stopped ... The guerrillas are losing ground ... government forces have the initiative and are using it with growing effect.” In April he said, “The Vietnamese are on their way to success” but “we cannot promise, or expect, a quick victory there.” In February 1964, he said that the Vietnamese “can handle this problem primarily with their own effort.”

On January 1, 1967 he noted that the Viet Cong “must surely now understand that they are not going to succeed in seizing South Vietnam by force ... If I am pessimistic, it is simply because we have not yet seen any indication from the other side that they are prepared to give up their idea of seizing South Vietnam by force.” On April 16, 1967 Secretary Rusk stated that “I think we have seen some very favorable signs that we are making headways on the military side, but that does not “mean that the war is just about over.”



John F. Kennedy

May 22, 1963: “I hope we could — we could withdraw the troops, any number of troops, any time the government of South Vietnam would suggest it. The day after it was suggested, we would have some troops on their way home. We are hopeful that the situation in South Viet Nam would permit some withdrawals in any case by the end of the year, but we can’t possibly make that judgment at the present time. There is still a long, hard struggle to go ... I couldn’t say that today the situation is such that we could look for a brightening in the skies that would permit us to withdraw troops or begin to by the end of the year ... As of today, we would hope we could begin to perhaps to do it at the end of the year, but we couldn’t make any final judgment at all until we see the course of the struggle the next few months.”

September 2, 1963: “I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Viet Nam, against the Communists.”

October 31, 1963: “When Secretary McNamara and General Taylor came back from Viet Nam, they announced that we would expect to withdraw a thousand men from South Vietnam before the end of the year and there has been some reference to that by General Harkins. If we are able to do that, that would be our schedule. I think the first unit or first contingent would be 250 men who are not involved in what might be called front-line operations. It would be our hope to lessen the number of Americans there by 1,000, as the training intensifies and is carried on in South Vietnam. As far as other units, we will have to make our judgment bed ason {sic: based on} what the military correlation of forces may be.”

November 14, 1963: “We are going to bring back several hundred (troops from South Vietnam) before the end of the year.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

January 1, 1964. New Year’s message to chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council in South Vietnam: “As the forces of your government become increasingly capable of dealing with this aggression, American military personnel in South Vietnam can be progressively withdrawn. The U.S. Government shares the view of your government that ‘neutralization’ of South Vietnam is unacceptable. As long as the Communist regime in North Vietnam persists in its aggressive policy, {p.432} neutralization of South Vietnam would only be another name for a Communist takeover.”

March 7, 1964: “I don’t think that the American public has fully understood the reason for our withdrawing any advisers from South Vietnam, and I think they should. We have called back approximately 1000 people. A good many of those people, several hundred, were training guards, policemen ... From time to time, as our training mission is completed, other people will be withdrawn. From time to time, as additional advisers are needed, or as people to train additional Vietnamese are needed, we will bend them out there. But we see no reason to keep the companies of MP’s out there, after they have already trained the Vietnamese who can perform the duty equally as well. I think that a good deal will depend on what Secretary McNamara advises concerning who is withdrawn, when they are withdrawn, and who is sent out, and when they are sent out ... When his report is in, we will carefully evaluate it, and if additional men are needed, we will send them. If others have completed their mission, we will withdraw them.”

March 17, 1964, on McNamara and Taylor report on trip to South Vietnam: “The policy should continue of withdrawing United States personnel where their roles can be assumed by South Vietnamese and of sending additional men if they are needed. It will remain the policy of the United States to furnish assistance and support to South Viet Nam for as long as it is required to bring Communist aggression and terrorism under control.”

September 25, 1964: “There are those that say you ought to go north and drop bombs, to try to wipe out the supply lines, and they think that would escalate the war. We don’t want our American boys to do the fighting for Asian boys. We don’t want to get involved in a nation with 700 million people and get tied down in a land war in Asia. There are some that say we ought to go south and get out and come home, but we don’t like to break our treaties and we don’t like to walk off and leave people who are searching for freedom, and suffering to obtain it, and walk out on them.”

December 31, 1966, reply to news conference question on war strategy: “I think that we are making the plans that we believe are in the best interest of this country. I don’t think anyone can say with any precision when the peace conference will come. We are preparing our people to protect our national interest and our agreements and commitments. Just how long they will be required to do so, I am not able to predict. If I did predict it, I would have no doubt but what I would live to regret it.”

March 21, 1967, on how things look in Vietnam: “I think we have a difficult, serious, long, drawn-out, agonizing problem that we do not yet have the answer for.”

Robert S. McNamara

February 19, 1963: “I hope for a gradual strengthening of the control of the Government over the activities of that nation, and a gradual weakening of the influence of the Viet Cong. I think this will go on for a substantial period in the future. I can’t really put a number on the years involved, but I think it would be maybe 3 or 4 years.”

October 2, 1963, White House statement: “Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a limited number of U.S. training personnel. They reported that by the end of this year, the U.S. program for training Vietnamese should have progressed to the point where 1000 U.S. military personnel assigned to South Vietnam can be withdrawn.”

November 19, 1963: “It is our objective to provide the training and logistical assistance which the South Vietnamese Government has requested of us, and upon completion of certain facets of that training, small numbers of the U.S. personnel will be able to return by the end of this year.”

February 3, 1964: “Last fall I was not as optimistic perhaps about the course of the war as I was about being able to bring back our personnel in certain numbers by the end of last year and also in increments. I still am hopeful of doing that. We did, of course, bring back a thousand men toward the latter part of last year. I am hopeful we can bring back additional numbers of men. I say this because I personally believe this is a war the Vietnamese must fight ... I don’t believe we can take on that combat task for them. I do believe we can carry out training ... The training, by the very nature of the work, comes to an end at a certain point.”

May 14, 1964: “I firmly believe that the persistent execution of the political-military plans which the Government of Vietnam has developed to carry out that war with our assistance will lead to success.” {p.433}

Answer to question on number of US training personnel needed in Vietnam; “I think on balance the number is not likely to increase substantially.”

March 2, 1965, reply to question on length of war: “I really can’t say. I think the period of time required to counter effectively a substantially guerrilla effort of the kind that currently exists in South Vietnam is great, and whether it is 1 year, 2 years, or more, I really can’t say, but a long period of time is required to reintroduce effectively peace and stability into a nation that has been torn apart as has been South Vietnam. ... It is difficult for me to forecast the course of events in Southeast Asia, but I want to repeat what I said a moment ago: an effective opposition to a guerrilla campaign requires an extended period of time for the results to be clear. I don’t believe that we can be effective in South Vietnam in a short period of time. We expanded our efforts at the end of 1961. We have been there now 3-plus years on an expanded basis. We have been there pursuing these objectives — the same objectives we have today — for 10 or 11 years, and I think that it will be more before we achieve them.”

May 9, 1965: “Let me say that I think it is perfectly clear that the situation in Vietnam has deteriorated during the past year on a year and a half, both politically and militarily.”

July 20, 1965, in Saigon: “In many aspects there has been deterioration since I was here last — 15 months ago.”

July 21, 1965: “The situation is serious today, I think, in several respects. It has deteriorated over the past 12 months. Vietcong strength has increased dramatically during that period, primarily as a result of the continuing infiltration of large numbers of soldiers — now regular army personnel from North Vietnam. That increased strength has allowed the Vietcong to expand and intensify their attacks on the political structure of South Vietnam and in particular to increase their campaign of terror against the civilian population. ...

“I can’t predict the future with accuracy. I do want to mention one thing about the future, however, that I think is very interesting. Within the last 3 or 4 weeks, Ho Chi Minh looked into the future, and he said it might take 20 years for them to win.”

October 26, 1965, interview question: One of the generals in the field is quoted as saying that he once thought it was going to be a 10 year war, but now he is optimistic and leaning toward 9-1/2 years.

Secretary McNamara:  “I wouldn’t make a prediction as to the duration of the war. I think it is important to recognize that progress has been made during the summer.”

November 30, 1965, planeside interview at Andrews AFB, returning from South Vietnam: “The most vital impression I’m bringing back is that we have stopped losing the war.”

Dean Rusk

February 1, 1963: “There are some definitely encouraging elements. The ratio of casualties between Government and Viet Cong forces, the ratio of arms captured or lost between the two sides, the steady extension of the strategic-hamlet program, the increasingly effective work of the montagnards along the border areas — all those indicate some turning in the situation. ... I think that in such a situation as we have in Viet Nam at any one time there are going to be both pluses and minuses in the situation.”

February 13, 1963: “The momentum of the Communist drive has been stopped. Complete victory for South Viet Nam is not just around the comer, but the guerrillas are losing ground and the number of guerrilla attacks has declined significantly. Major deficiencies in training, intelligence and mobility have been repaired; Government forces have the initiative and are using it with growing effect.”

April 18, 1963: “The South Vietnamese themselves are fighting their own battle, fighting well.”

April 22, 1963: “The Government forces are able to maintain the initiative and, increasingly, to achieve the advantage of surprise. The strategic hamlet program is producing excellent results. ... The strategic hamlet provides strength against the Communists in the countryside. ... The villagers are fighting when attacked. ... Rice production is up. ... Defections from the Viet Cong have risen. ... The Viet Cong is losing more weapons than are the Government forces. Viet Cong attacks are running at less than half the rate of January 1962. ... The Viet Cong has been unable to carry out its plan to escalate to larger military units and to more conventional warfare. ... We cannot promise, or expect, a quick victory there. ... It took 8 years to wipe out the Communist terrorists in Malaya — and they were far from a major Communist base. But there is a good basis for encouragement. The Vietnamese are on their way to success and {p.434} need our help; not just our material help — they need that — but our sympathetic understanding and comradeship.”

November 8, 1963: “We were also concerned in May and June and July of this year when developments in South Viet Nam indicated that there was a growing gap between the government and people of that country, and there was some danger that the solidarity of the country itself in meeting this threat would be undermined by differences within the country. ... We believe that the present regime has moved promptly to consolidate public effort, that they will be able to resolve some of the internal difficulties that grew up, and that there will be a possibility that the people of that country will move in greater unity on behalf of the total effort.”

February 24, 1964: “I think the resources and the capabilities are there to get this job done on the present basis of assistance to the Vietnamese so that they themselves can handle this problem primarily with their own effort.”

July 1, 1964: “I think they (the Viet Cong) have very serious problems — not only in fact, in terms of losses, disruptions, but in terms of morale. So I am not pessimistic about the situation. It is difficult, it is going to take some time, it is going to take more of the heroic job being done by South Vietnamese and Americans and others in that situation. But I don’t feel any sense of despair whatever.”

June 18, 1965: “I think they (the South Vietnamese) have been encouraged by the clear evidences of the United States support and the clear evidence that we take our commitments seriously and that they are getting major assistanse {sic: assistance} from us and growing assistance from others, I think this has had a good deal to do with strengthening their hand and sustaining their morale in what has been a very difficult and mean situation over a period of time.”

August 25, 1966: “We are beginning to see some signs of success of this strategy. The Viet Cong monsoon offensive, which we know from captured documents it was their intention to carry out during the period May to October, has not materialized because of Westmoreland’s tactics of carrying out spoiling operations based on intelligence he has received as to concentrations of Viet Cong ... The number of defections this year has doubled compared to the past year. No doubt this is a sign of erosion of morale.”

January 1, 1967, on the prospects for peace in Vietnam in 1967: “I think there is a possibility. The task of diplomacy is to proceed on the basis of optimism. And I never close the door to the possibility that this situation will change. I do believe that one basis for optimism is that the other side must surely now understand that they are not going to succeed in seizing South Viet Nam by force. Now, maybe that will bring about a significant change in their political approach to this question.

But if I am pessimistic, it is simply because we have not yet seen any indication from the other side that they are prepared to give up their idea of seizing South Viet Nam by force.”

April 16, 1967: “I think we have seen some very favorable signs that we are making headway on the military side, but that does not mean that the war is just about over ... I am reluctant to put dates on (winning conventional warfare phase of the war), but I would think we made very, very substantial headway during 1966 on the conventional type of warfare. Now, the pacification effort against the guerrillas is almost by nature a slower task ... But that is beginning to move now, and I think that behind the cover of the military success against the large units can come an increased pace against the guerrillas. I must say that I have been impressed by the doubling of the rate of defectors from the other side.”

M. T. Haggard,
Analyst in Asian Affairs.


The Library of Congress,

Washington, D.C.



(Prepared According to the Instructions
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

The attached has been prepared for the personal use of the Member requesting it in conformance with his directions and is not intended to represent the opinion of the author or the Legislative Reference Service. {p.435}

President Johnson


February 2. — “We felt that it [the bombing of the North] would make the North “Vietnamese pay a much heavier price for what they were doing. And we felt that it would make the infiltration more difficult. We think it has achieved all of those expressed purposes.” (Press Conference, The White House)

March 15. — “Despite continuing increases in North “Vietnam’s infiltration, this strengthening of allied forces in 1966, under the brilliant leadership of General Westmoreland, was instrumental in reversing the whole course of this war.”

* * * * * *

“What we do know is that General Westmoreland’s strategy is producing results, that our military situation has substantially improved, that our military success has permitted the groundwork to be laid for a pacification program which is the longrun key to an independent South Vietnam.” (Address to a joint session of the Tennessee Legislature, Nashville.)

March 20. — “There are many signs that we are at a favorable turning point. Your [South Vietnamese] fighting men, aided by your allies, now hold the initiative and are striking heavy blows against the strongholds and refuges of the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese masters.” (Remarks opening the Guam conference.)

August 18. — “Our activity in the South is determined a great deal by what the enemy there is willing to do. More and more here of late — we think that because of the losses he has suffered, because of the position in which he finds himself — he is less anxious to engage our troops in combat.”

* * * * * *

(Question:  “... have we reached a stalemate in the Vietnam war?”)

The President.  “No. I think there are those who are taking a pretty tough drubbing out there, who would like for our folks to believe there is a stalemate. But I haven’t been there. I can’t personally say that I have observed all the action that has taken place. ... All of these men [Generals Westmoreland, Wheeler, Johnson, and Larson] think that the stalemate charge is nothing more than propaganda.” (News Conference, The White House.)

September 1. — (Question:  “Mr. President, do you concur with General Johnson’s prediction that the troops will be brought home in 18 months from Viet Nam?”)

The President:  “That is General Johnson’s opinion. I have mande {sic: made} no prediction and wouldn’t care to at this time.” (News Conference, The White House.)

September 29. — “There is progress in the war itself, steady progress considering the war that we are fighting; rather dramatic progress considering the situation that actually prevailed when we sent our troops in there in 1965; when we intervened to prevent the dismemberment of the country by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. The campaigns of the last year drove the enemy from many of their interior bases. The military victory almost within Hanoi’s grasp in 1965 has now been denied them. The grip of the Viet Cong on the people is being broken.” (Remarks in San Antonio, Texas.)

November 1. — (Question: “Are you optimistic, sir?”)

The President.  “Yes. I believe that we are making progress. I believe that we are doing what we ought to do. I think we are going to continue doing what we ought to do.” (News Conference, The White House.)

November 17. — “But overall, we are making progress. We are satisfied with that progress. Our allies are pleased with that progress.”

* * * * * *

(Question:  “Do you think that at this point our force levels in Vietnam will begin to level off in authorized strength, or do you think more troops may be needed in the future?)

The President:  “We have previously considered and approved the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the force level.

“General Westmoreland discussed this at some length with me last night and this morning. He anticipates no increase in that level.” (News Conference, The White House.)


January 1. — “We are very hopeful that we can make advances toward peace. We are pursuing every possible objective. We feel that the enemy knows that he can no longer win a military victory in South Vietnam. But when he will reach the point where he is willing to give us evidence that would justify my predicting peace this year — I am unable to do so — that is largely up to him. (News Conference Johnson City, Texas.)

February 2. — (Question: “... are we still winning the war?”) {p.436}

The President:  “I think I see nothing in the developments that would indicate that the evaluation that I have had of this situation throughout the month should be changed. ... I don’t want to prophesy on what is going to happen, or why. We feel reasonably sure of our strength.” (News Conference, The White. House.)

Secretary Rusk


January 1. — “I do believe that one basis for optimism is that the other side must surely now understand that they are not going to succeed in seizing South Vietnam by force. Now, maybe that will bring about a significant change in their political approach to this question.” (“Face the Nation” interview.)

January 31. — “... and I have no doubt at all that the bombing has made it much more difficult for them to lay on their effort and sustain it and certainly more difficult for them to increase it.”

* * * * * *

“Well, in the first place, the effort of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese forces to cut the country in two has been frustrated. They have not been able to move this war to the third stage of the guerrilla tactics; that is, to the conventional stage; organized forces of battalion and regimental size are not the pattern of their action at the present time in general, because in those engagements the firepower and the force that are present there inflict very severe casualties upon them and they have therefore been pulling away from that. The problem is still the tactical problem of the guerrilla situation.

* * * * * *

“So we think we are making headway, but the typical guerrilla problem is still there — that is a mean and difficult kind of thing to deal with.” (Interview for British television.)

March 28. — “If they [authorities in Hanoi] have supposed that they would be able to obtain a military victory in the South, they must surely now put that hope aside. If they had any hope that there would be a political collapse in South Viet-Nam, surely they must now know that all of the groups in South Viet-Nam, who have some differences among themselves, are resolved to bring into being a constitutional government in which these various groups can work together on a basis of the free choice of the South Vietnamease {sic: Vietnamese} people with respect to their future and that one point on which they are generally agreed in South Viet-Nam is that they do not wish the program of Hanoi or the Liberation Front.” (News Conference statement.)

April 16. — “Well, we have a good deal of evidence, from prisoners and from documents and from what we know of their deployments, that the other side is having considerable difficulty in maintaining their forces, in giving them supply, keeping up their morale. ... No. I think we have seen some very favorable signs that we are making headway on the military side, but that does not mean that the war is just about over.”

* * * * * *

“Well, I am reluctant to put dates on [a conclusion of the conflict], but I would think we made very, very substantial headway during 1966 on the conventional type of warfare.” (“Meet the Press” interview.)

July 1. — “Although no one foresees any United States troop withdrawals within the next six months, the United States is confident that the efforts by South Viet-Nam and its allies will continue to bring improvements, although there may be ups and downs. The important thing to bear in mind is that the military and non-military developments are inextricably intertwined in South Viet-Nam, even more than elsewhere, so that the most significant indicators of military success may be found not in battle reports and casualty statistics but in the evidence that the country is moving forward, creating political institutions, holding village and hamlet elections, improving communications and stabilizing the economy.”

* * * * * *

“The remarkable progress being made in the direction of a constitutional government augurs well for the future if security can be maintained.” (State Department press release of an interview with a Swedish newsman.)

August 29. — “Those who visit Viet-Nam and talk to our men in the field don’t get a feeling of stalemate, but a sense of steady progress toward the ultimate objective of securing South Viet-Nam against this terror and this aggression. from the North.” (Address to the American Legion National Convention.) {p.437}

October 12. — “I cannot tell you when peace will come. I am encouraged by progress toward peace in South Viet-Nam, but I cannot name a date. But we shall continue our effort both by resisting those who would impose their solutions by brute force and by an unremitting exploration of every path which could lead to peace.”

* * * * * *

“I know that some reporter in Saigon invented the word ‘stalemate.’ Our military authorities do not believe there is a stalemate. * * * There are many indicators that the government and allied forces are getting on with the job on the military side.”

* * * * * *

“The economic situation has been improving. In other words the Viet Cong have not achieved their objective. The country is moving ahead. And I see no reason for us to be gloomy simply because it is not over yet. We have had our combat forces there for approximately 2 years, and other allies have put forces in there, and the situation is moving.”

* * * * * *

“When you look at the total situation, it’s moving; and I have no reason myself whatever to subscribe to this notion of a stalemate. It is not a stalemate at all.” (News conference.)

October 16. — “I said in my press conference the other day that I know of no significant opinion in this country supporting a withdrawal and an abandonment of Viet-Nam and Southease {sic: Southeast} Asia.” (Interview with the foreign press, USIA transcription.)

October 30. — “What sustains Hanoi? At first and until recently, the hope of military victory in the South. That possibility is now beyond their reach. Perhaps they had some hope of a political collapse in South Viet-Nam. But in the midst of the war, the South Vietnamese have adopted a new constitution and elected a President and a Vice President and a Senate and a House, as well as village and hamlet leaders. Perhaps Hanoi has hoped to build up international pressures to cause us to alter our course. That is not occurring. I have just completed meeting with about 90 foreign ministers in the opening stages of the current meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. I can tell you that we are not under pressure from other governments to pull out of Viet-Nam.” (Address at Columbus, Indiana.)

December 6. — “... major progress since the summer of 1965 — dramatic on the military side, and politically in adopting a Constitution and holding free elections. Also significant gains for much of the civilian population in education, health, roads, agriculture, and curbs on inflation.”

* * * * * *

“If anyone doubts that our stand in Viet-Nam has been a major contribution to these highly favorable developments over a vast area (the Pacific and East Asia), let him go there and talk with responsible government officials. I cannot tell you how much longer it may take to achieve peace in Viet-Nam. ... Meanwhile, the situation in South Viet-Nam is not a stalemate.” (Address before the National Association of Manufacturers.)


January 4. — “... and a clear, I think, turn of events on the ground, as far as Viet-Nam is concerned.”

* * * * * *

“I cannot tell you today whether there’s been a change or not. ... We know that they [Hanoi] have issued orders for an intensified offensive during the winter season. (Press Conference.)

January 22. — “In partnership with our Vietnamese allies and the other nations assisting in South Viet-Nam’s defense, we have made significant progress. Repeated enemy assaults have been thrown back, at heavy loss to the other side. Protection against Viet Cong terror has been steadily extended to wider segments of the population. Five elections have been held in the past 18 months for local officials, the Presidency, and the two legislative chambers, and institutions for representative government have thus been established in the midst of a cruel war. I expect further steady progress over the coming months.” (Interview with “MacLeans” magazine of Canada.)

February 4. — “We have not seen evidence around the countryside of what the Viet Cong might call a popular uprising. Now, we have known for some months they were going to launch a winter-spring offensive, they call it, which they anticipated would trigger off such a popular uprising.

* * * * * * {p.438}


“... and I might say also that we know there is going to be some hard fighting ahead. We are not over this period at all. As a matter of fact, the major fighting up in the northern part of South Viet-Nam has not yet occurred, so there are some hard battles ahead.”

(Interview on “Meet the Press.”)


Secretary M'Namara {sic: McNamara}


January 23. — “These trends bear out the assumption we made last year that the number of North Vietnamese would increase substantially while the supply of indigenous military manpower would be further limited.

“It is not clear [however] that the limit that results is below that the North Vietnamese planned on, and, in any event, it is not below the level necessary to support the force in the South at present.”

* * * * * *

“Although we still have no way of knowing when the conflict will end it is perfectly clear that we must take whatever measures are necessary to ensure our ability to support our forces in the event the conflict does continue beyond June 30, 1967.” (Statement before a joint session of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Department of Defense Appropriations.)

February 15. — “I don’t believe the bombing of the North, by itself, will cause the political leaders of North Vietnam to end their activities in the South. However, the impact of the bombing can be judged in part by the great efforts of North Vietnam to force us to stop bombing.” (News Conference.)

March 1. — “And the magnitude of this price [air campaign against the North] to the North, I think, is recognized by them and it has been translated into their worldwide campaign to force us to stop this.” (News Conference.)

July 9. — “Our casualties are high but we also have inflicted very high casualties on North Vietnamese army units. I anticipate the enemy will receive a very heavy pounding.” (Statement following visit to the DMZ.)

July 12. — “The political scene has changed substantially since my last visit to South Vietnam last September and early October.

“The Constituent Assembly, as you know, has completed its work during that period. The nation now has a constitution. Preparations for the elections are advancing rapidly.

“As you are well aware, the election for the Chief Executive, the Vice President will be held within about 45 days and that will be followed very shortly thereafter — within the next 45 to 60 days — by the completion of elections for the legislative branch of the government.

“This is tremendous progress when one looks back at the situation that existed 9 months ago.”

* * * * * *

“So there has been a very substantial improvement in the economy and a much more stable basis for future development of that economy.”

* * * * * *

“On the military field, let me say to start with, the military commanders I met with — and I met with all of the senior military commanders in the field, all of the senior Vietnamese commanders, many of the Allied commanders, Korean and New Zealanders, for example, and many of the middle ranking and junior U.S. officers — all of the military commanders stated that the reports that they read in the press of military stalemate were — to use their words — the ‘most rediculous statements that they had ever heard.’

“In their view, military progress had occured {sic: occurred} and was continuing.”

* * * * * *

“However, having said that, I should state to you that to be candid I must report the progress in pacification has been very slow. I think that the momentum will increase as the new organization gams in experience, but what we are really trying to do here is engage in nation building. It is an extraordinarily complex process. I would anticipate progress in what is really a very significant field would continue to be slow.” (Press Conference.)

July 22. — “I do not consider it optimistic to cite the progress which has been made; I do not consider it pessimistic to cite the problems which remain.” (Statement to the Press.)

August 25. — “... I would like to restate my view that the present objectives of our bombing in the north were soundly conceived and are being effectively {p.439} pursued. They are consistent with our overall purposes in Vietnam and with our efforts to confine the conflict. We are constantly exploring ways of improving our efforts to insulate South Vietnam from outside attack and support. Further refinements in our air campaign may help. I am convinced, however, that the final decision in this conflict will not come until we and our allies prove to North Vietnam she cannot win in the south. The tragic and long-drawn-out character of that conflict in the south makes very tempting the prospect of replacing it with some new kind of air campaign against the north. But however tempting, such an alternative seems to me completely illusory. To pursue this objective would not only be futile but would involve risks to our personnel and to our Nation that I am unable to recommend.

“I don’t believe that the testimony to date does support the conclusion that there is a direct relationship between the level of bombing of the north and the U.S. forces required in the south.

“... Now on the other side of the equation, would a reduction in the air campaign in the north lead to an increase in the forces required in the south, I frankly don’t know. I think it would depend on what the North Vietnamese did under these circumstances.

“Undoubtedly they would take advantage of the reduction to move material with a lesser cost to them in terms of numbers of people engaged, and this would be an advantage to them. Whether it would result in the movement of more men and material to the south I think is questionable. I don’t know the answer.” (Hearings before the Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.)


February 4. — “Just four days ago I remember reading in our press that I had presented a gloomy, pessimistic picture of activities in South Vietnam. I do not think it was gloomy or pessimistic; it was realistic. It said while they had suffered severe penalties they continued to have the strength to carry out the attacks which we have seen in the last two or three days.”

* * * * * *

“The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong have not accomplished either one of their major objectives, either to ignite a general uprising or to force a diversion of the troops which the South Vietnamese and the United States have moved into the northern areas of South Vietnam, anticipating a major Vietcong and North Vietnamese offensive in that area. And beyond that, the North Vietnamese have suffered very heavy penalties in terms of losses of weapons and losses of men in the past several days. They have of course dealt a very heavy blow to many of the cities of South Vietnam.”

* * * * * *

“The balance has definitely moved toward the South Vietnamese. I think, however, you are putting undue emphasis on the military aspects of this war. This is a complicated question. There isn’t a simple military solution to it. It’s a political-economic-military problem. Each of these facets intertwine. And we should not only examine the military operations when we’re talking about relative balance of progress.” (Interview on “Meet the Press.”)

Vice President Humphrey


November 10. — “We are on the offensive; territory is being gained. We are making steady progress. ...” (Television Interview.)

November 13. — “... I am heartened by the progress I saw.”

* * * * * *

“But there is progress — not marked from day-to-day or week-to-week, but clearly measurable over the course of months. The greatest and most obvious progress of all is in the military effort.”

* * * * * *

“So that is the picture I bring back from Vietnam. Political, economic and social progress; steady but slow. Military progress: steady and gaining momentum. National security and national development: both proceeding. (Address to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, New York.) {p.440}

Clark Clifford


August 5. — “The consensus expressed in each instance, without any exception, was that the Allies are headed on the right track. They believe that the progress made on the ground in South Viet-Nam has been appreciable. They believe that pressure should be built up in South Viet-Nam.

“In each instance, without exception, the Allies agreed on the necessity and the value of the bombing of North Viet-Nam. It is through North Viet-Nam that the forces of the Viet Cong and North Viet-Nam are being supplied in South Viet-Nam. The Allies feel strongly that those lines of supply should be interdicted to the best of our ability.

“So it is the general feeling, as I attempt to synthesize their attitude, that we are headed in the right direction. The maintenance of force and the possibility of increased force and pressure should bring the Allies out at the point where we hope to come out.” (Press Conference, The White House.)

Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker


September 10. — “Yes, I think we are making steady progress — not spectacular progress — it is not that kind of situation. I think we are making steady progress. This is a situation which cannot be solved overnight. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes steady application of pressure. As I say, it is not a situation where you have spectacular things happening. It is a question of keeping on the pressure, gradually moving ahead.” (Television Interview, “Face the Nation,” CBS.)

November 13. — “I don’t think you can put this situation in a time frame. I think it is a great mistake to try to do it. My view is very definite and that is that we are making steady progress. I think there is every prospect, too, that the progress will accelerate, because I think that many factors point to it.”

* * * * * *

“I described to the President my views of the situation now in Viet-Nam. I said to him, as I have said before, too, that in my view we are making steady progress in Viet-Nam, not only militarily but in other ways as well: in the evolution of the constitutional process, in the pacification program, which is, in my view, equally as important as the military situation.” (News Conference, The White House.)

(News Conference, The White House.)

November 17. — “In a war with as many faces as that in Viet-Nam, one of the best indications of how things are progressing is the degree of security in the countryside.

“The Vietnamese Armed Forces are carrying the major burden in providing such security, so vital to the success of the many pacification programs designed to improve the well-being of the people and to enable them to manage their own affairs free from Viet Cong terrorism.

“Obtaining a definitive assessment of the extent of security is an extremely complex task. It is our judgment that the proportion of the population under the reasonably secure protection of the Government of Viet-Nam has increased to more than two-thirds of the 17 million people in South Viet-Nam. Just over 2 years ago, it is estimated the proportion was about one-half. Of the one-third not under Government protection today, about half are under Viet Cong control and half in contested areas.

* * * * * *

“This, then, is the picture in Viet-Nam as I see it. Steady but not spectacular progress is being made militarily and in nation-building. The development of representative institutions and vigorous political life is encouraging. But, quite frankly, I can’t answer the big question that I know is on vour minds: How long will it take?”

(Address to the Overseas Press Club, New York.)

General William Westmoreland


April 24. — “Although the military picture is favorable, I emphasize the fact that we have no evidence to indicate that the enemy is slowing his invasion from the North, or that he is breaking up nib major units and scattering them about, or that he is giving up his plans to try to inflict major defeat upon us. {p.441}

“He is taking great casualties and he does have logistics problems, but his leadership is good and his men are tough and tenacious. He needs a victory for political, psychological and morale purposes, and he will continue to strive for one.

“So the end is not in sight.” (Address to the Associated Press, New York.)

July 18. — “The statement that we are in a stalemate is complete fiction. It is completely unrealistic. During the past year tremendous progress has been made. I think the Secretary [McNamara] noted this during his recent trip.

“The Secretary was there about 9 months ago and I am sure that the progress was evident to him. I live it from day to day and it is not as evident to me as it is to visitors who come in periodically.

“It is like watching your children grow up. The grandmother comes and sees them once a year. She is always surprised at the extent to which they have grown.

“I am living with the situation day-to-day and it is more evident to visitors than it is to me, but when I research my memory, go back into the records, it becomes quite evident that we have made tremendous progress.”

* * * * * *

“During the past year tremendous progress has been made ... We have pushed the enemy farther and farther back into the jungles ... The ARVN troops are fighting much better than they were a year ago ... The number of defectors coming into the government has substantially increased. The ratio of enemy personnel killed to those killed by the enemy continues to increase ... It has doubled during the past year ... We have succeeded in attaining our objectives ... The enemy has not won a single, significant victory during the past year, despite the tremendous effort that he has put forth.” (Press Conference.)

November 21. — “I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing. There are indications that the Viet Cong and even Hanoi know this.

“However, the enemy may be operating from the delusion the political pressure here combined with the tactical defeat of a major unit might force the U.S. to ‘throw in the towel.’ If he does not believe this, there is very little logic to be found in his continuing the war in its present pattern.”

* * * * * *

“With 1968, a new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view.” (Address to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.)


February 25. — “It is too early to assess the impact the recent offensive by the enemy has had on the pacification program. However, it is reasonable to assume that in many areas the program has been set back. On the other hand, in some areas we know it was untouched.

“In the areas where there was a setback, certainly it will take months in some instances to restore the effort to its former level, although the exact time involved depends on a number of imponderables.”

* * * * * *

“In sum, I do not believe Hanoi can hold up under a long war. The present enemy offensive attitude may indicate that Hanoi realizes this, also. (Press Conference, Saigon.)



[From the Washington Post, July 23, 1969]

(By Philip Geyelin)

Defense Secretary Laird’s recent progress report on the Vietnam War has come under a certain amount of criticism from people who apparently have no sense of tradition. Even when allowance is made for the Pentagon’s effort to tidy up the Secretary’s intended meaning the next day, his declaration that “we have certainly turned the corner in the war” is a worthy addition to any compilation of Familiar Vietnam Quotations.

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Public Affairs Jerry Friedheim was at pains the following day to say that the corner Laird was referring to had to do only with the “tremendous progress” being made in the “Vietnamization” of the war, but he might as well have saved his breath — as Robert McNamara would be the first to testify. Who now recalls, or even knows, that his celebrated 1963 projection of the war’s end was not originated by him, that it grew out of a joint mission with {p.442} Gen. Maxwell Taylor, that it was polished and put out by a large group of White House advisers with the approval of President Kennedy, and that it presupposed no enlargement of the enemy war effort?

That is one rule — that it is the first impression that counts — in these matters.

The second rule is more important, and it is that predictions or appraisals having to do with the course of this war, for whatever purpose they may be made, do not have are cord of standing up very well. One can always hope. But the record, which is rich, argues otherwise — argues in fact, for public officials either making the most carefully measured estimates or making none at all and letting the facts, such as they are, speak for themselves.

Mr. Laird’s assessment, for example, follows hot on the heels of his boss’s much-discussed, much-amended, expression of a “hope” that he could outdo Clark Clifford’s timetable for removing all of our ground combat forces by the end of our ground combat forces by the end of 1970. Mr. Clifford was dealing, incidentally, not in hopes but in the terms of a proposed line of action. But if Mr. Nixon was violating his own injunction, expressed in his first press conference (“I do not think it is helpful to make overly optimistic statements which, in effect, may impede and perhaps make very difficult our negotiations in Paris”), he was in good company, for both his remarks and those of Mr. Laird were of a piece in this respect with an appraisal offered in January 1969 by a close Presidential confidant, Gen. Andrew Goodpaster {sic: Andrew Goodpasture}, that “(the enemy’s) ... situtation is deteriorating rather rapidly.” And this, in turn, was merely the best news we had received since an assessment in September 1968 by Gen. William Westmoreland, now the Army Chief of Staff and formerly the field commander in Vietnam, that “the enemy is deteriorating.”

This world “deteriorating” is much favored among appraisers of the Vietnam War. “Turning the corner” is also a stock item, if that is any comfort to Mr. Laird. In fact, whether the official in question is a general or a President or a Cabinet member, there are patterns here, certain forms to be observed. And so, for the convenience of those officials who cannot resist the impulse, as well as for the edification of those who might see some purpose in trying to fight it — given the past record — what follows are some selected quotations from the last 15 years:

“... We have never been in a better relative position.” General Westmoreland, April 10, 1968.

“... We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view ... The enemy has many problems: He is losing control of the scattered population under his influence ... He sees the strength of his forces steadily declining ... His monsoon offensives have been failures. He was dealt a mortal blow by the installation of a freely elected representative government ... the enemy’s hopes are bankrupt.” General Westmoreland, Nov. 21, 1967.

“... We are generally pleased ... we are very sure we are on the right track.” President Johnson, July 13, 1967.

“... Progress has been made. ... We have pushed the enemy farther and farther into the jungles. ... We have succeeded in attaining our objectives.” General Westmoreland, July 13, 1967.

“I except the ... war to achieve very sensational results in 1967.” Ambassador Lodge, Jan. 9, 1967.

“We are beginning to see some signs of success,” and “There is an erosion of [enemy] morale.” Secretary of State Rusk, Aug. 25, 1966.

“We have stopped losing the war.” Secretary of Defense McNamara, October, 1965.

“... We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousands miles from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” President Johnson, Oct. 21, 1964.

“The war in Vietnam is on the right track.” Ambassador Lodge, June 30, 1964.

“I think the number [of U.S. personnel] in Vietnam is not likely to increase substantially.” Secretary of Defense McNamara, May 14, 1964.

“... The Vietnamese ... themselves can handle this problem primarily with their own effort.” Secretary of State Rusk, Feb. 24, 1964.

“The United States still hopes to withdraw its troops from South Vietnam by the end of 1965.” Secretary of Defense McNamara. Feb. 19, 1964.

“I am hopeful we can bring back additional ... men ... because I personally believe this is a war the Vietnamese must fight. I don’t believe we can take on that combat task for them.” Secretary of Defense McNamara, Feb. 3. 1964.

“Victory ... is just months away, and the reduction of American advisors can begin any time now. ... I can safely say the end of the war is in sight.” Gen. Paul D. Harkins, Commander of the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, Oct. 31, 1963. {p.443}

“Secretary McNamara and General [Maxwell] Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965. ...” White House statement, Oct. 2, 1963.

“I feel we shall achieve victory in 1964.” Tram Van Dong, South Vietnamese general, Oct. 1, 1963.

“... South Vietnam is on its way to victory ...” Frederick E. Nolting, U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, June 12, 1963.

“The South Vietnamese themselves are fighting their own battle, fighting well.” Secretary of State Rusk, April 1963.

“[The struggle] is turning an important corner.” Secretary of State Rusk, March 8, 1963.

“... The corner has definitely been turned toward victory in South Vietnam.” Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense, March 8, 1963.

“There are definitely encouraging elements ... the ratio of casualties ... indicates some turning in the situation.” Secretary of State Rusk, Feb. 1, 1963.

“The war in Vietnam is going well and will succeed.” Secretary McNamara, Jan. 31, 1963.

“... The South Vietnamese should achieve victory in three years. ... I am confident the Vietnamese are going to win the war. [The Vietcong] face inevitable defeat.” Adm. Harry D. Felt, U.S. Commander-in-Chief of Pacific Forces, Jan. 12, 1963.

“Every quantitative measurement shows we’re winning the war. ...” “U.S.. aid to Vietnam has reached a peak and will start to level off.” Secretary of Defense McNamara, 1962.

“The Communists now realize they can never conquer free Vietnam.” Gen. J. W. 0’Daniel, Official Military Aide to Vietnam, Jan. 8, 1961.

“... The American aid program in Vietnam has proved an enormous success, one of the major victories of American policy. ...” Gen. J. W. O’Daniel, Official Military Aide to Vietnam, Sept. 7, 1959.

“With a little more training the Vietnamese Army will be the equal of any other army...” Secretary of the Army Wilbur Brucker, Dec. 18, 1955.

“I fully expect (only) six more months of hard fighting.” General Navarre, French Commander-in-Chief, Jan. 2, 1954.




The Chairman. I think that is about all I have to say. I can only say again that you all have been most cooperative and it has been educational. I am afraid we have exhausted ourselves as well as you with the length of these hearings. We normally don’t go this long, but we tried to cover this as fast as we could simply because you are away from Vietnam and are here and want to go back. At least the Government wants you to go back. Normally we would not subject you to such long hours.

I have neglected my own work and my own constituents to an outrageous extent in the last 2 weeks, but I hope they will understand that. I think these hearings will be useful to the other members of the committee and the Senate.

It did come at a busy time, and the same goes for you young men. You have made very good witnesses, I must say.


Mr. Colby. Mr. Chairman, there is one thing. You quoted from a draft handbook on the village some remarks about the RF and PF and what kind of people they were.

I would just like the record to show that this was a draft. I have not yet approved that particular book and, frankly. I don’t think I would have approved that particular statement. [Deleted.] {p.444}

I think I speak for all the members of this group that were invited to testify before you, sir, in expressing our appreciation for your courtesy and patience and your interest in what we are trying to do.


The Chairman. Thank you very much. We are interested. We are not only interested in what you are doing there, but we represent constituents in this country and they are very upset at the moment.

They feel that the conditions here at home are very unsatisfactory in many ways, so that we have to try to balance that off with your job and with what you are doing. This is not easy to do in a country as big as this is and with the trouble and many dislocations we have at home.

There was an incident yesterday, which while it did not kill anybody, is very embarrassing in Washington. It is one of the minor incidents, but they are going on all over the country.

All we can hope is that we can in some way bring these things back into a more normal status and in which we can allow the country to resume a more normal procedure in its domestic life as well as in international relations.

Thank you all very much. I wish you well. The committee is adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 5:30 o’clock p.m., the committee was adjourned.) {p.445}



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This document: February 20 1970 hearing, pages 257-444, 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}.

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Next: March 3 1970 hearing (pages 445-508) {300kb}.

See also:

The second Phoenix hearings: U.S. Congress, House Hearings: U.S. Congress, House 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.”


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) {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.


Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

Posted May 31 2004. Updated May 10 2009.


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