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UNITED STATES 路 VIETNAM RELATIONS

1945 路 1961 IV. B. 2. EVOLUTIOtl OF THE WAR strategic Ha:mlet Program

1961 - 1963


IV.E.2.

A specL:"ic strate~..- b~" 1-:h.i~h the U.S. an:i GV:';' l:OlUd att6:lpt to e.nd the ir~!3;.:l'fe~!c:." b fO·l.'..th ·\Tietn2l:l hs.:i 11ever been f ..;reed. upon at tr..e time that th~ U. S. d<:~:i.~~d, l[:.te in 1961, to h!C!'eaEe :l!laterially its assistance to G7!: &:':i t.o ~J~;r;.r!i its advisor:,; (;:?i'Ol't ido one r:bieh ,,"ould o__ -v "''"_ ..... 1 _.;vL-' __ .. .... ,.:..Jr..,;" ~""'nl",:,,'.-.,,·-t a '·l;:··i-·..."'-1 i:)"'~·t>l::.·... S~';'" n ~-.r e$!l··"· c:-:':-::> t:o···ev +,"'er.s ",a.~ a:Pl-:al'ent CO!·;S(,;:.?"i~ U':o!:g t~e I'rinci?al pY'dcip=.nts tha.t the Strategic Ht:2nlet rrocr~"'1~ E..S it C':-::lG to be called) repl'eSe.nte:i the 1lnli')Ti!!g conce~t for a stra-::'€L:; d€-;':~6ne:i to pacit:f l'ural ~Jietn;;';:l (the Viet COD~'S chosen battlegr::."",!":5.) a::d to de".relop s-u!>port a~~,)!'.g t.he pe:asax;ts for the c€!ltra1 .l...ll• ...;

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The Strat,=;;;:i.c ;:a111et Progr:T.l '\~~s E.:C!l brcc.iel' than the cc::struction of st!'f.~. . ~Sic !·:c;:.:l;;:·s ~ei' s~. It er.visic,::El se~\.:_e,:.tial phases ~-hl.ch, besind:',c \-ii,,!,! clea:':i.l:S "the in$',lrg€d~ :'rc:: e.::: area aT:J. p1"ot-eet;~!~ the rUl'a.l pO;~ls.ce, ~·r~;£:l"t::.::;.:~l t!:rOU~!l tr.l€ e3J~:;.blit!:.~~rlt of Gi-;-: i:.uras:'ructure erd t~~e!:ce to t.!:e prO"':idol'l or seryiC€3 yhich '!~c'.:ld lead. the :fee.s~ts to identify 'dth t!-.eir b,:r.-er!XlerJt. The strE:~,esic h~:llet pro?~ ~'2.S, j_l'J short, E'...11 ~ttE;:':;.t tC' t!'a.:1sl[>.te th~ ne~'~Jy ay-tic..:.lated theCT,iof cO'\Zlterinsurgc!:cy iLi..O o?eratior.al re&lity. ':::he c";:lject.ive 't'~f,S I·olit~.c~l t!louoh the t1-:al'.B to it.f rea.liz~tion yere a nizi:';ll'e or l:ilitary, social, psychological, ecoEo:;:lc ~d :pclitjcal measures. l:he effec~(, of these se<:.::;enti~.l st.e;>s to pacification 1-:as to E~ke it very difi'icult to r.:&.e intel,,:,;;.ediate as:e££:.:er;.ts of proeress. Cne could not really be sm'e hO~l Oi~e t:as doir.g ur.;til one ":as dClle. Physical. security by itsslf (the so-cc.lled. lI cl ear ar_d. holi" initial ste:» vas a necessary cO!lJ.itio!l for pacificatioll, r~ot a sufficient one. The esta.blishment of goverr.!:Ental nmctio:1s wa.s net, by it~elf, necessarily conS'Ucive to a successful effort; the quality of t!:.ose functions and their responsiveness to locally felt needs was critical. This inherent diftieulty in assessing progress did not simply mean that it vias difficult to identify problems a..1'ld to ms..\te improvenents as one ,,"ent along -- 'Which it l!8S. It also meant that it vlas quite possible to conclude that the program as a whole'tias progressing 'Well (or badly) according to evidence relating o~ to a single phase or a part of a phase. A related problem arose from the uniqueness of this program in American 'experience -- pacification by proxy. ~he theory :of sequential

1


phases could be variously int.erpreted.

This is not th·= })rv'blen of the

three blj11d l:len descrll;il1t; the eler:'~!mt; it is the l)l'cble::. ci' !.len '\dth d:i.ffer~nt perspect.ives €r:.ch l~ou.ldir:.::; his Oim concept. ion of a proper bC~i t.o the S:\::ie sl:eleton. If the final product ,~el'e to he.ye SC!!le semble!;'::e ci' cot~rer~ce a~1 llmtua.l satisfaction it wc:..s necess:::.r~" th::t the sbap;r~ ca,!\ie to all'eement on substa.~ce a."'ld. operational procedure, not just th~t they agree on the proper skeleton upon which to ¥ork. The proble:: 'Wit.h the a?:?ru.'ent consen3US \:hich et'!erged early in

the

1962

participants :iij, vie': it 1':ith differClit pe:rspecOn t.he U. S. si~e, nilitary. a.:·:isors b;.d a set of' preferenCes ,,:·?hich ai'fectei their a:pproSoc11 to the Stl'ategic Jian1et . FroGr~~. 'Z'he:r l-:a!lt<;\l to l:li'..ke J.V:;.A? 2T.Clre l:!obile, more &€Z..rEssiYe, ar..d . bet.t.$r Cl'g: l1ized. to take the cff€:n;;;ive ag!::.inst the Viet Co~g. ~hey 1:ere, cO:lse{;·L'.er:tly, extr~:!ely leery of p:("O?os~l~ 1-:hich rJ.ght lead it to 'te tie:i ... o<»;·el·· "'s ("·'old).·,..··': e·N-t." e _), IIclearl.·n··lI t". __ of .... ~..!·r"';'",-';c t. ,l_ _ •••..:.... 1.4 .&.6 J6, •}'~:.l .-:.,. b~'" c·""· ...... ete~) a. do'""\ or dhre!,,·ted. teo !!:uch t.o l!1ilital'Y chric ac:tio:l u!ld~rta}:ings. '\~as tr..:;.~v

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The i;!;leric?.."l politic~l lee.ders~·lip, in~of'ar as a f:;cr:erE:lization ma.:," 'be attsr:;tea., l:S.Y be said to ha"ve b=~n EOSt. cOllcerned ":ith tte later ph~:scs of the ;l'cgr~"'j .. - those in ~:hich G',:-:,:; sel'V'iccs '~ere :pl'O".rid~i, local €p:erl~:_~!;ts ed.~bUs}1.ej) a.~;d tne €.X,;;.:C:;'l";{ bolster.:j. ~·:ilitary cle::.ri!":s o;e=r:·,tior.z i:er:, to therl, So distaste:\~l~ expel"!sh:e~ but r.:.ecesser;;" :;:reccl:litio!"J to th2: really critic~l a.r;;i jJ':::porta-'1t :pb.ases of the €i'fCl-t. :20:'=1 of tte!le U. S. grc)'t~ps h;.d. ?€r£:;e:::tive S differE:!'.t :fr~~1 tJ:cse o~ the Di~~ a±:li~istn.tio:~. In t!1e ~. S. vie'\:, the ills'l;rg~:1ts ":e:'S o!;ly one . ,. "'r':.:·-~""s· _ "',,_. _'-' ,..he .'ll.."1'1"'elf ""'' t__ t i. "'" __ ot~t:.'· .. . of>_...,i"oie'1't'! ".~~ -.in thl'S VI·c"- -t.re ~""O·"'~C'C! OT" pe.cificatio~ could prccee:l successi\uly ol:l~[ if l:ie,!l, r~fvr;..,e-5. his O"';fi goyel'r~e!!:'t,;. :::t 1:as P1Ecisc~- to ac!:i€"i€: the~e gce..ls si1::.D.ta::eo:.<.sly that the U. S. a3rec~ to er"-;.f:r a t:li1:lited psrt:,el'ship" '\-71th C',:: i!: the cvUJ":terinsL:.rgent effort. Th! Stratesic r;c...--alet Prot;.T~ '·eca."'tle the o:;er;.tional s~bol of this effort. _.&. •

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P;r.esidc!;t :Vie .. - u.!lsm'pri singly -- had a very diffe:r~t viei·-. His r.l.eed, as he se:~·: it, :a.s to get the U. S. CC1':!!li.t.ted to Sot:th Vietn~ (and to his cd!linistratiC'l) l-:ittout surrenierir:g his ir!Uepenlc:::ce. He }~ew that his nation 'W01;;i f",ll '\:itrout U.S. st~port; he feared that his govern:mer.t ,,;o·t.l.ld fc:.l if he either appeered to toa:1y to ;J. S. .dshes or allo~{ed any single ~oup too :much potentiel po1';er -- particularly coercive pcmer. The st:ategic Hamlet Progratl of'f'ered a vehicle by which he could direct the qunterinsurgent effort as he thought it should be direeted. and \:itho.t giving uR either his prerogatives to the U.S or his Jnal)tle to his restLess generals. The' program :in the·for.m of' a plan· for pacification of the Delta, was formally pro;;.sed to Diem in l~ovember 1961 by R. G. K. Thompson, hea.d of the new)~ arrived British Advisory !,~ission. U.• S. military

11


advisors fayored at thE.t tUlle a."l !'-B.Y;·: pene:t;rc..tiol1 of the VC redoubt in 'Wax Zone D prior to aL~' o?er~,tions air.1ei sredfjcr.lly at. pe.cif'ic~t.ion. h'Ut 'J.S. political der.ira£ to stai,t SO!lle 10c~1 o~eration l'!hich could achieye coneret.e Cail',s cC:-;jblnt:d ·dt.h Die.":l' s preference for a pacification effort in an GIea of strateGic L~portance led to the tuitial effort in ::arch 1952, ':Cper~t.ior: SU::~~.ISJ:) n in Binh Duong Province north of Saigon. l'his ,-:as a hea-dly -;C-inl'iltrated. area r&.ther than one of minil.lal per.etratic!:', as ?hOl':!pzon had urgea. B'.lt pl2...l'mir.g -- as dist-inct from operr.tio~1~ -- CO!:.ti!:l:ej O!~ the lJelta phn ar-d strate&ic hSllets \lere constructei in a variegr:.tc,l, U_'1cool'dinated. ~r:.ttern thror'Ghout the spring al'ld early Sl~.'~;.;£::r. ~te::. S. hcd. little or LO i!:i'h~c?)C'e o".-er these acth'ities; the :prr::ary 11:-:oet.us . .:as trace::.ble dh·ec't.l:>' to the President's h<=-l' an-' T>."l14.... +1' .. 0 D'3.11__ h ., :, __ h·•. J. ~_ ~- c ~'l __ '"O~'Y.~ " ~., .... e110 _. r, .'00 ,~. bro....l._" 'In ...,~t.. ·;··<:+ .0:::" ~1·..,"1" .. '.:1 1.-;'~·""1·+r.-'l 'cat':on '0','-" .... ~... - , r::,' ~. -, ~'", ..l~._;""" v;:- 10""-'0 <::..... "" . . -~,_,"'.."t_·ic.• al _'!'a,. _ ....:1.-_~. ..L .... plan 'Wi1.h fooll' pl'io!'it.y a:ree:..s <>d SPecified ;'Tior:lties ,·:it.hLl'l each area. At the se:clc tir.;e, tC--~-;El') it. irdicate.:1 thro.t over 2,500 st.rategic hamlets ha:l alre,,::1~r been cc . .:-l~t!:5. ~)d th::.t ,~ork ,,:;..s E.lrc£,j.J un:ter\~ay on n~re the.!~ 2,500 l.iCre. ;.l·;:'~K';_:..j: it ";as rJot \tntil octoo~r 1962, that fF·.r~: explicit.ly ar:!:ouncei tn:: 2t.rc:tE;cLC ECl.llei:. ?rC'[l'~l to be t.he 'U.:."lii'ying COJ1CC;t or its 1~aci:ti:;;: '~~ c.;'~ ~!:.1 cOtmterinS11~ ,;-:·~:'7. effort it '?-as clear earlier th?t the pr.::.:i.'&'~ l::::1 aSS'l-2.:-:;,i thl S Ce!~t.l'e.1 positio!1. Tm'ee i1:i'::·Or-i;,~,t i:'.·:l~.. cE..tior"s of this e:.l'l:: pro!:;;ress (or) more pre-

ciselJ) r€:,ort.eJ. prc.:!=~s) ere cJ.:::O clecx in rctros:,.~e~t. Ttese :t!;l?licc.ticr~~ tcc~ l:vt !,c, ! .. ~. .~,.. c: i~'-,~.:·r~.3sel tl!€!:1s(:l~;.~es f:."::l.i.t.e]~t 1.'tIiOl1 U.S. o:-'ser""\"ers &.t tht;; th;:::. ?irst, tl-.C :;:rc;cr~l ;;:=.. S t:rul~- 0:.12 of G'D in-i.tiative : ather than cne cl~:;c5yil,S p:dc!'H.ies <,,:-.j tj.~'!'!e p!~= s~~:.:; l'eCCl:::"leded bJ the U. S. Dier.: . . ~a.s rll:l!'.i!1S 1:it!'! !~is c.·-!'! b?.ll in prof)~~':.,ei.:i c ter.!l:::) !!o IlB.tter ,:110 articuh:t€Cl the t.l:€c!':.- 0:: the a;.;prc!:.:!h. ~:;,e gec.;rs';nic dis~ersion of hemlets alreG:.5.y rer~'r'.;ei :'0 be cC:"2:Jlet.e3. i',licate~ that there ~,as, in fact, a co::scious e:'f'er"t toe i]~i}:'l€:):;B~')i~ this p::;,,~e aIDoz't si!:!ult.ar.eously ..1 s10·-1'''' ' n··-"o·,t ".\..f> e"t1.-rc .!:...t.._ .·~.1.iO" "',·il "'S "";"'..... 's 1.1 ... -.l-1-"'r t'r~Y) .J-:...., .. ':-0 '-' .... ..•• J tnr foreign aivisors ('tC'~h :~. S. a:'_j ~~ritish) r~cc:::.:end€d. \.\,-I~_~:"

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Finally, the ;hY.2ict'.l as:fects of Die's pr.)gl'al'l l"ere SEdlar if' not identical to earlier ;o~,-~latio!! resettlenc:'.t a!:.i control efforts practiced by the ?rench :if:C. b~" Die::!.. Tbe lens hi story of these efforts was marked by co[.siste::~y i!"L results as \·~ell as in techniques: all failed dismally because t::e;t ra:l into resent~ent if r"ot active resistance on the part of' tee :pe~.s;.nts at ,;hose control end safety, then loyalty, they were aimed. U. S. desires to begin an effective process of pacification had fastaled onto security as a necessary precondition and slighted the historic record of rural resistance to resettlewent. President Dien and his brother, for their part, had decided to e~phasize control of the rural population ns the precondition to winning loyalty •. The record'is inconclusive with respect to their weighing' the record of the past but it appears that they, too, paid it seant att.ention. Thus .the early operational efforts indicated a danger of peasant resistance, on one hand,

iii


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and of: diverGent approcches bet"'een, jn the initial steps, the

(foc\,\sed. on secu:dt.y nea~U1~es) and l)i(::ri (cOi!Cerr.. €:i };101'<: "'ith cC'rJ1.rol measures). Si::cc tbe physical actions to e.chieve security and. those to i~:f,ose co)',i..rol c:.J~C in l:luny res?ects the sene, ttere l-laS generated yet another c.rea in ~hich assessments of probl'CSf) ,-;ould be inconclusive and difficult to na.'!:;e. U.s. attention, once en a?parent cons em: us h;~d been forged co!'cent,rated on p~·ot;.:tt.l:! ~~na[;e!;:ed efforts in t·::o ca.teGories: to convince GVi~ to proceed. at e. l~:ere tleas1.1 red, coherent. }!c.ce ~:ith a qualitati·...e . tIT,'~ne "p;:yncc, ' ' 1 co!""e + .. . . . h.WJ1'" llr1lil'Ovcr:len vl·UC·l<.!.Ol! 0:.. ST'!'{~\'C01C b.S; :.!!dt0 SChEd.uIe l:lg.t€d.'?,l asdsi..al:ce (fort.iffic2.tioIl lr:':i..erials, et.c.) ar."j .train- , ing fer local d~feh!;e forces t.o l"'le.tch the r~te of dedred he.'llet constru.ction.

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as~es:::;:~::,-,s,

at. the stI~e tir,e) cor:cel'.tr2.ted on the phycical aspect.s 0: i..:~e P'C[!'8!:l a[;J OJi VC activit:!' in e.reas ,·~bcre strategic haJ!ll ets br:_ i h:;E:fJ co::,::;tr.,W';:'c:j. 1: sse3 tY.:E:,!...t.e ten;led. to CE! favora.ble from a. Eccurit:r (or CC1!~1'ol) yie~,?cir.t and Ul~eV8!l ,:ith r.;spect t.o political derelo!c;(;::1t.. '2];e ge!:e~'E;.l concl;.;sion .;as al):os~ c.l..··a~rs OTle of ccu.•tious Olrth:!if'7:1 ',·;L;;!·, sec':.l'ity (cent.rol) ,·:as e!1'.r'h?,~jze1, Ol~e of bO:gei'ul pessil!'.:iSi':l Y!::e!': IoEticc.i follc~:··t1:? UtS stl'e!.>s'e).. ':!:e it:;:re~sion ~~ :':asl:ingtorl '\",~s 'c~tyjc~lly £h.!~te1 to·:e.::·J. the l~:Ol'E: o)tiJ.!i.s~,ic: ~r.·. praisals if for no oth~l' rer:.rcr~ t?':":.!l t.ha.t ha~et cO:1struc:;"ic!1 c::l sec'.;.:r·i t.y ar:ra!~;~l:!e!.l,ts llerf: the first cLl'c:.olC:Sichl f:teps in t.l·.c lO!'"b p1'0:::ess to pac! f:i.c~ticll. ·I·T~S ';'",",.' "c'"v, G.._,," ~"'! (:.1' <0"" 1',"';..> ."~..,~ ~.J..,- .. ", 0."01.'[.·,; ........·,.- __.f! ~·o toe::.. ... __ .t..: I•\..b '" _,-.,,- 1••v\t.:--..I..l "t> l'O':'hi~':-:1 .. ....... ::> to • doir,g Nr::~thi:!2: €'r€r~ tto1.:,Sh tte ~c-!.lethi! •.; vas eel:}€; done h:1?eri'~ctly? ~.L...l..,

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TheBe \.;.S. C;.s~eSf):€::i.E cha::.s~d cmly r.1:.rGin~lly tbrCi.15hCl.~t .....he lif:e of the !ll"0tirer:. '?oy the ti1.1<';, in 1953, thr:t tte !',o;ei'ul pessbist voices \;ere clearer, it .:as also !:;~ch cleo'er t::e.'!j E.e ;:Gc crothers h...d. !l;..:le the Si~ratc::;:i.c ::i!'!.:let ?roc;ren im:.o Ol~e clcsely i.,iH!tif"ie-d 'dth tl:eir rebj~e B.;11 ,dth lJiSl t S rt'-:.i:,her €::;ot.eric?.J.l:'i~ ~:;:ra.s(·:l "persc.nalis·t rt)'.'olu.:n-e-'·h th"t "l'e)'" ','"'' a.;~·e·'·~·":l·r'..,·'t' .... -i',""',"<'''' lO'f"'l..·~~ 'f'-I'~ the tl.·Ol·,.• n _~~"''''rs s--....... c.. .., ..... c.;.\,Ju U ... \.: ...." top trll'OU£,!l co;~trol ra.ther than to b'Jild it freY.! the bot.tom by deeds. These fears ,-:ere flot linited to the Str&tesic i-:81:uet Prosrc~, hc. .-:ev-er; they extende.i to uro~n as "~ell as rural phr.;.ses of South Vietna":lese life and \;ere subsur:ed., as the Bud-i.i.ist questicr! t'lo'{ed to the fore, by the general issue of the viability of' Diem t S reg:iJr.e. ~"""

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President Diem gre.·r irlcreasingly unuilling to meet U.S. demands for reform. lie believed that to de so \vould cause his government to fail. U. S. observers held. that failure to do so v~o';lld cause the nation, not just the goverr..ment to fall. In the event the government fell ~"1d the nation's counterinsurgent program took a definite turn for the ~~rse, but the nation did not fall. The Strategic Hamlet Program did. Closely identified ,·rith the l~go brothers> it liaS almost bou.Yld to suffer their fortunes; 'When they died it died, too. The !1e~l government of generals, . presumably realizing the extent of peasant displeasure with resettlement and control measures, did nothing to save it.

iv


A number of" cont~ributory l'easoIlS can be cited for the failure of the stra~,egic Ecmlet Prot;ralll. o-v-€1'-(·Y.})~!))sio~~ OJ cOl!struction ru"Jd poor quality of' defenses forms one category. 'l'his r€'eso~ concentrates only 011 the iui tie.l phe~.:! of the pro~rE..1'.'1, ho'.-:eyer. 1':hile yalid, it does 1ittle to e>:plain ~:hy the cetire proere..'ll colla};'sed rat.her than onlY,sfIEle hamlets within ii.~. Rura.l antaconis~s vhich ident.ified the :program ld.th its sponsors in the ce!~t:rc.J. goycrnr..ent are more su,::gestive of' the besis for the cmplete colla!;~e as j:ic-:J. a~i :::hu departed the sCene. The reasons ,,;hy they de?erte:i a:te traceable irJ part to t:~e differeut el!;'lectations which combir..ed in the ap~rent. consensus at t.he prosr2-'Ill' s begin.'ling: to Die!n r s insist€j';.ce etl rr~C'.terial :issista1'!ce an1 ir~dc;E:n1ence, to U. S. yjD jnf;ness to provide assiste:!.ce only if its adV'Ice ~-;as h~€;icj, and to the failure to reselve t1"ds q,uest:io:l cit.h€:r by :persu~.sion or leverage •. HaV4-ng said. this, it Does ...-.ot a'O.to!!l::.ticall~" follo1': that the program ,,:o'dd h:i7e succEeded. c:ve:-i if' Di Em [,ad. met u. s. :iel:;!;~ds for chc:!!ge. To point to'the cal;.ses o~ !'aihu'e is one th:ir.;S; to a.s;.·~:~'}r; th.at chU1ges of style \:ould have le.:i t.o S'~tCCC:tE is <;:Ilite ancJ.:.hel'. It may "ell be that the :pro~rE-'Ii! i:as doc~:-'='J fro,:! U'.s out. set, r.ecau~e of peasant resist.ance to :measures \:hi(~h e~a:,~",d t.b: p:;.ttern of rill'al lii'e -- \:-l::ether a~ed at seclU'ii..y or cO?rU.·cl. It :::.iSl!t. ho:,iC tee!) :t;C:££i"01e, 0!1 the otter halli, "£or ,...,ro::,'1"':-..h':;, l-'!'''''e "'Ct.,1 "' ••• C' ....'··1~ ·v;~"S"''7'4> v... .... zo success • \,,;;..L J:c ..... ",,~·.,,· _ .. '-= . . _""''"t .... 11 __ "~- +0 v •• _\. C' j .... a i ··ell··e·:"cu,t.",-,) r;>he e~r'" d"'~"~ <'e o!' ;. .•.. .., -y."\:':'." ..... ;: "'-'s """.;. . ..,..."v;",""'·. '" Cl"\···c"'l""~~'le e ... .,.l"~+·J.·on -.... a. ... _ ...... \;. _ ... \...:c. ... " . . \ .. t-;: ....... '" .!::'_...._..Ll \".'. ___ ..... _. '~'l'e "f"e;-,H' ~+-l'~';'::"'~c '-:;""':let P-o"'"r:;~ ,,:as -t:.. .. u of' _ e'~-la.''''l'ce s'··:---r..<'-!--: ~'.l'<'+ +l,.=. w •• ..... vc...v_c:.•• .... £:.1. fatal::'y fla..'e..1 i!:l it.s CC~iC5)ti(l!: l)J t.~~e unin',;,e~·:ieS. cc'nse~uence of' aliene.ti~g mar.y of t:_~se '::-..OtS lC~l?:l~::· it £.i."':ci to -.:i!!. _~,--

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l i i _ \ ' ; . . . . . ~~~ ....1600_

.. __

~"

\,..O~ ...

~.

...

~_v

~

__

.L.l.................. _

~....

~

-~

..~

,u.~v

:;;r--:~

This ir:cC'nclusi-;c fir::iil),s, jn turn, sU!:Ge£t.s that the se;::lential phases e::;;)odieJ. in t~:e c.cctrh.e of Cot,,!tcr:i.!,t".~l"f:e:'jcy n~y slit!1't SC!1e very iJr~:fOrtaIii problc:i a!'eas. ~he evide!:ce iF r.ot su=-i'1cie~t for an indictr;~c!i.t: still less is or.e ! ..ble to vali:lc.te t.!ie cO·~'l!!t.erilu· . .-.rient doctrine ".-ith· reference to ~ -'!)rc;:-:rr:.;~ - that. faile:d.. :l'he o!:lv~ verdict that lllay be giver- at this til:e -;:Hi.. res:,ect to the ~;;.lidity of the doer.rine is that useJ. by Scots court.s -- IIcase not :proYE::l; II

v


IV.B.2. OCCUHRJrWE

DAT}}

1953-1959

French and GV!'i early atterapts at population resettleI:.;:mt into defer~dei co:~..ml.nities to create secure ZOlles.

1959

Rural Co,~mUlity Develo}:'l:lcnt Centers (J:grcvi11e) l'Toe1'8!;l init.h.t.ed by G"J::.

Late 1950 Early 1951

.f:.Erovil1e ?:roZ1'a~ t~oiified by construction of 'C:a:detsf: t.o r.,eet peas£:.r..t objections. Vice l'resident Johnson's visit to

July 1951

Ul~gro­

?.~':.

stale:; Groi.tp re:po!'t on increase.i econo::uic aid ani ilicl'ease :i.n S.'T:..;L'!]' streDE,th.

15 Septe~ber 1961 GeliE~ral

18 October 1961

Ta:·.-lor arri·.. es in F:\12;; ?resident Die.'>!l declares nlltional €'::ergency.

27 October 1951

TI.G.K. 'IhO::1pson suh'iits to FresiJ.e!1t Diem his /tv\"'nY"e"'J.·~';'~"'rl oop ~Tl·l""+""(':·'-·· r-•• ,;-.V~ I.. <;. ... .!.'~ _ _ :.-..! ..... ,.,,_•.:)..~·"o·.·Y-"'.·l~"'e.r • t:: ••• '_

1cc'1 • .....rJ.·'_ ]a·~" ~;).J -:-l" _,;;",::..

3 l~ov~nber ISol

Ger.eral 'l'a~flor subr.rits his report and. recczIlend.atio!'.s to PresidEnt Eer.nely.

13 lToveDlber 1901

R.G.K. Tho::l!lson sulnits his draft of the Delta to ?resident Di~.

15 november 1951

F.SC drafts rSf,.!! Ill. Csble to J\J:i:,assador ~';olting, instructing hiIn to lneet \:ith Die;l, lays out proposed U.S. assistance ~'1d expected GVl'~ effort.

22 1!ovember 1961

I~S.l\2~

15 December 1961

First Secretary of Defense Conferance, Honolulu.

2 February 1962

Roger Hilsman IS A Strategic Concept for South Vietnalll.

'3 February 1962

p1~

for pacification

lll.

Diem creates Inter-Ministerial Committee on Hamlets.

vi

Strat~gic


Diem o.pproves Tholr:?scn 1 s ''Delta Plan It for execution. 22 J.:arch 1952

·8 August

195~

--.

"Operation SUI:~ISE" commences in !Sinh GV~ l~ational

DUOJi.g

Province.

strategic Hamlet Construction P1an.

28 October 1952

G'n~

8

Buddhist controversy eru?ts 1-Then GVl: troops :fire on demonstrator s in r:·:1~.

Hay

1962

devotes entire issue of ~he Times tiThe Year of the strategic 3mnlet.• 11

o~

Vietnam to

ste.t.e to Lcd£e, ;.:eSBs.ze 243, says that U.S. can no loneer tolerate 10 SepteeiJer 2 Cctober

19$3

1963

1 ~:ovembcr 19S3

:::n:J.1 s

cont.inuation in po:-er.

Gener~ 1 i::1".uak and !.:r. !·~e:nder!hall give repcrts on proE!'€ss of l-;ar to i~SC.

cO:i'~re.dictory

Secretel'Y ;,!c::~.!:!?.ra report.s to !-'resider.t ::er.t;edy :follo\-!ins his visit to I-,'::: ":ith (:eneral Tayler. COllP d t ct.at by e;rm.:? of generals aGainst President DieTl.

vii


1.

Tl'~R01)(JC~lIO}{ ............................................ .

1

A.

0 •••••••••

1

B. Anteccdmlts •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ~ ••••••••••

1

The Situation in Late 1961 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••

3

C.

Scope a.'1d Ten1!inolog:y ••••••••••••••••••••

II.

A. U. S. -(flIT Consultations •••••••• o • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • B.

"L-il':.ited. Pr.:.rtnershiptr •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

7

C.

u.s. -Proposec.

7

D. Ini.t(.ial E.

;!a.ti011al Plf!.llS ••••••••••••••••••••••••

Reactj.ons ••••••••••••••••••••••••

8

c!"\·,·,,+"' ·. . O.... ~ ••••••••••••••••••••••••• v ...."'"' .. 100~ ......... J:'.!:-' O~.· ..;.<,.:;..1 ,::,

10

Vietll:;,:~:ese

rm..c'···""'C"'''' .LLi .-.,J;'';; .....,

...

~II.

12 12

B. Reactions in 1·1asr ..7ngton •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

13

c. IV •.

o. •• ',..

• ...\.~.. ·alReae...~:Lon · J>U S T _n~ 0.:.

sors ••••••••••

A.

The Advisors

h1._.~ T.e:.t:'J p.~' _0.-'1:.

R~ach Ag~eerr.3nt ••••••••••••••••••••••••

THE ADVISOi1..<3 "SELL" DIr-;l-r (OR VICE--v'3RSA) .............. ..

15

A. Where to Begin? •••••••••••••• ~ •••••••••••••••••••••

15

B. Concurrent GVlf Activity •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

16

C. Early Signs of GVN Expectations •••••••••••••••••••••

17

v.

18 A. B.

u.s. u.s.

Mi1itar,r Advisors..............................

18

Political Leadership...........................

18

a


c.

President Diem ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

19

D.

~le Cen~~

Issue .•.•••......••••....••.•.•.•••..•••

19

AsSeS3Jl!Cnt •••••••••••••••••••••••••••

20

PLAl~ m~RGF!S •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

20

A. km.reness of the Unif'yil"lg PotentiaJ. •••••••••••••••••

20

C\'''''rl.' ~H __ It • • • • • ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

22

E~~r ~£oerems ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

22

D. At La.st -- A l!ationaJ. Plan ••••••••••••••••••••••••••

24

E. Effect on U.S. Perceptio!ls ••••••••••••••••••••••••••

24

F.

~18rGe •••••••••••••••••••• o.o • •

30

T:rl3 P.j\TI1 TO T!B KiD •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

35

A. Die..'n 1 S Position Rarci.€'nc •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

35

Di cs 1-1i th the :!gos ••••••••••••••••••••••

35

E. The Probl€.ri of

VI.

ViI.

T"F.E lIATIOHAL

B.

IIOpr->r"'·'_0_"' _ ;.

c.

Other

B•

\"III.

~~

Dlf~erences

The

Pro~;.

u~~

Begin to

.t'C·r TI:CO~!~.uJsrl3 SUl·~~!'!'J{Y•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

b


IV.B.2.

AI~

APPRlI.ISAL

I. A. _S_c_o"P...._e_~err:1:i.nolog:y ~'he

Strategic HC'. .l!l.l.et Pl'ogrf-.n j.n the Republic of' Vietnam (~VN) .-articulE:.tec1 at:1 ca!'l':iE::d fOl"'..::l!'Q. frG~[: ls.i.-e 1951 until late 1903 -- has created sw:e cC'n:"n~ion because of' tt::l'!:-d.!lclcS:r. One source of conf'nsion stez::s t1-,,< I~""'C" .4 ••• • _-

<: ......... - .~] .......... "~J.., _

h'

r

ty b"'t"';:Of'l'l .__ ~

tl~t:, ~1~":: ... - ..... .. -_·v'" 'J.' r'::: _ .....1 -

...- ...<::-n·-:>(·ts ~-....

o~...

tIll'>- . ,. . ..'c"...--. ..I\ ~_

~......,;-..

a.n~ 0 .... '" eel"'; ~""'¥.L

fortified cc::~:.u:'!itic~ of cne kind 01' a!~cth·:r. Another source of' confusion ri ses beeSon:::c of' th~ loose u3c-.ge of: tlh5.~J.et II e.s cO!cp;..red to IIvill~ee" and 'becatu:e: of the ure.ctice of' rei"e::'l'in:-: to tili.;1:e COr:llr:u.."1it:i.es as udef'e.'1ded," IIsecul'e, tI ~md !";)!·ti:'ied" as ~·;t;J.l as ~lIs"t-re:tt,;G:;'c. II But the greatest soU!'ce o-r conf\~sion lies in the diztil~;;~io:l 'bc-;;:';\;cn a. strategic ha?uet ~ 2!:. and t.he stra-;:.eeic h1?.rlet l!SC~' 'l'he ll~!:,let is the s!"!!al1fs"t c!·u~::.ized CO~ill'!Un2ty 5.n r;;.ral South Vie"tna.!:l. Several h:-:.J.ets (t~rp:lcally 3-5) cc!:..prise a ville.ge. During the stra.teGic ht:..r.:let p:rog!'ai!! both ha!n.lets o.nd villases i'lE!re fortified. The distinctkn is u!l5:::pO!:ts..nt £or the prese:lt a.:2:-;,1~'sis; exc(;pt e.s it bears OIl the defel1sib Hi ty or the cO:tr;!'C.uni ty prctected. The several adj ectiyes coupled ui th ha.-nlet cr ville,[!c r!ere occasio~~.:-:.lly uSed to difl"'erE:!1.tiate cO!!ll.tUlities accordi.ng to the extent o£ their def~nses or the initial presun:ed loyalty of their inhaoitf:.!ltS. }·1ore often no ntch distinction i·:e.S !:'.2.ie; the terms 'f1ere used intel'changez.bly. ~{nere a cistinction exists, the follo'tting account explains it.

The phra.se Strategic Hamlet P.t.'ogra..'!l \-Ihen used to represent the progralD. is r.'lUch broader than the phraf(,; applied to the hamlets the."!l.selves. The program, as explained below, envisioned a process of pacification of vlhich the construction of strategic hf:Z\~ets l-laS but part o£ one phase, albei t a very important part. This paper exa1!lines the progr~, not just the hamlets.

B.

Antecedents

Population relocation into de~ended villages was by no means a recent development in Southeast Asia. Parts of South Vietnam had experience with the physical aspects o~ fortified communities going back many .

.

1


years. As the ir!.tellectu..'1.l godfather of the S!.!'a.teeic Hal'J'l.let PrograTJl bas put it, the concept's use as one of the measlU'I'::S to defeat co::;:.:unist insurgency " ••. bas only meant tha.t the lessons of the p-'!st had to be relearn.... 1f

-:/

~'hc adlrd.nistra.tion of' r~'esidcllt Diem ha.d relearncd tht''3e lessons much earlier than late 1961. ~rhere was, in fact, no need to relearn them beca.use they he.d never been :forgotten. The F"rcnch had made resetUement and the develoIt!lent of "secure zones" an imPOl'ta.!!t element in their effort near the end of the l'le.r "li th the Viet Minh. The government of nel'Ily-created South Vietnam, he~aed sjnce 195~ by President Di~, had conti~ued resettlement schcmes to accCIr.::lodat(; displa.~ed persons, to control suspected rural papule.tj,O~lS, an:1 to ~a.feC').'.-.!'d 10:; ~l Jr::!~tsants in t.'!)e tl'Jreatencdareas • None of these e:'-'fcrts involvinG resettlencnt l!~d. suc~ceC.ed. E;.ch had inspired a:ltaGoldsY;! <=.:::on6 the pr-:e.ca!lts l-:ho l-lCre l!:c>ved from thci~ ancestra.l lands and c;::e.y ll'C!:l :'t..~Uy bi..u'ie.l plots.

Diem's ac:tions j.n la.te 1$.01 l~ere 'f.;}l.us inescap::l.bly tied to. earlier a.ctions by pro:-::L-:5_ty in tir=:.e, -place, e...l1d the pel·sonaJ. experiences of ron.ny pease.nts. Chief' a.~cng the ear] ier prozl'c.:::s l\'~S that of the so-called ... . _. 1 \...r "o"'~" ni"'~T~ -._11'" Cen';" ~l'"",'I" II , -"Ylche~ in 1950 _ ..s or II!)".,. ,.\u..:. c... _ ......".; .......... .;." v ..) vt:: lnpw · ....t:.. __ u Ag'l"ovl.°lle The AgrovilJ.es, groU3':':l~nts 0:.-" 3~O-500 f,';.!~!ilics, ,",ere desjgncd to a.fford the peasantry the social b-;;netits of city l:i.i'e (schools ard services), to incree..se the:i.r p~ysics.l se-::-,-.1-:l ty, c.nd t.o co~trol c~rta:i n key loca.tions by denying th8!:'l to t;le cO~;·.;1:.::ists ° g/ ~:ney i:ere d~~igDcd to ir'.p!"ove sinlUltar!cously the securit.y a."!c1 1·:ell-·be::.nc of: t.heir in!.a.c.itants and tb~ gover!1.1neut IS control. oyer the rual pop·;J.?tj_on anj rural areas ° ~

J

_~.

\.1 _ _

..1.,.(;,\o4l,:.

"'"

_

_

~.

The Ael'Oville progre.!:l ,·:r:.s ge lcrally unfu,:;cessful. The pcasa."lts ha.d many COlq>l[;.:i.!~ts about it ra.r {;i!1£; from. clu.'"f'.sy, dishonest e..1:~inizt!"ation to the physical hardsl::ip cf bejng too i'p.;r fro!"" t~eir fields a.Id the psychological l':rench of beh~B se~:a.!'c.tec1 frc~;! e.nc~~~l"[d horr:es and oU!'ial plots. By 1960, P.!-esidcnt Diem had s1c.-:;;.:1 tlle pl"c€rr~ in respcnse to p.::a.~a..'1t complaints ~ld the Viet Congfs ability to CA~loit t~is dissatisfa.c~ion. ~ Tne transition frcmAgl"ovilles to strat~gic h~~lets in 1961 ~as mal'ked by the 50- C'-,ll cd nAgo-he,::l.et tl l':hic..'Il att~::pted to lneet so!::.; of the peasantsl objections: The smaller 100 family Agro-h~~' et '!;;as loca"~ed more closely to l~'lds tilled by the occu:pants. Construction ~:e.s carried out at a. slol·;er p~ce filled to the peasant t s pla...l'!ting and harvesting schedule .. • B-I the end of 1961, the Agrohamlet had become the prototype of a vast civil defense scheme kno-rm as strategic hamlets, ~ Chien Luoc.

21

It was'inevitable, given this ~ineage, that the strategic hamlet program be regarded by the peasants as old wine in neidy-labelled bottles. The successes and failures of the past were bound to condition. its acceptance-and by late 1961 the Diem government 'Was having more failures than successes.

2


-...

C.

'. 1'he Situo.ticn in te.tc 1961

By late 1961~ if' not earlier, it ha.d become clear in both Siagon and t-:e.shington that the ~el10w star of the Viet Cong wa.s in the ascendancy. Follo\·,ine the 1960 r!crt!l Vietnamese a...rmouncen:cnt of the twin goals of.' ousting President Diem G:Jld reu.l1if'.ying Vietna.!n u.l1der cOll!lllunist rule, the Viet C011g began sharply to increase its guerrilla., subversive, and political \ora.!'fare. §/ Viet Cong regu.1.al' f'orces, nO~l estin~ted to have grown to 25,000, had been orga~ized into larger for~ations and employed with increasing frequency. The ter!"ol'ist-euerri:.le. orge.nization had gro. .:n to an estimated 17,000 by November 1901. During the first half of 1961, terrorists and guerrillas had a~sassinated.over 500 loceJL officials and civilians, kidnapped more than 1,000) a...'I'ld killed a.1l!10st 1,.500 Rvr·r!'-F perscnnel. 1'he VC continued to hold tl~e initia.tiv~ in .the .co.pntryside, controlling ajor portions o~ the pcp:uace and clrc.1dng a..!! jll'creasine1y t5.eht cinch arom:j Sa.ieon. Tlle operative question i·..as not l'lhether the Diem government as it ,,:as tben Elovil"!S could defeat the insurgents, but whether it could sa.ve itself.

Ji

Y

'21

Much of tbis detE:1'iore.tioll of' t.'I1e situation in RVI~ ,,;~~s attributable, in U. S. eyes, to the n;e.!l!"~·::r in ,·:hich Preside!~t Diem had organized his govern-

ment. The struggle -- 't-:h::ther viei'red as C!le to gs.in loyalty or smply to a.ssert cOl!trol -- 1-:s.s fO,:!'lsed in and a!'our:.: the vi11a.ges and he.!r 1 ets in the countryside. It l":a.s pl'edsc::· r in thc,se areas tha.t the biline;.:l.l GVl'~ orGa...'2ii .,·;11'·,,,.!!" "''''t-iC1'l "'ro'Mnce c'I...-1",.f'", ···0 ... .:.. l"'c"ed the ca""~h';l··~y l"or ___ (l!P.llJ'-T .. :._\. ... ! i ,~'1'ld _ _C _ !J •.. .. concerte1 and cohesive action. The Ar~-::j 0:' the Republic of Vie:tn8.!:l (ARVrn ~~ d~velc?i:!b a po~c::-tieJ.~ c:r~ecti-ve i!j.5t~t:.;:t~O!:al fI'Bl:!e-;'~or~~ ar.iier U.S. tu.tel~i:e, but the.'io eff'ec:ti\·er:.e~s ag:lir:st the VC, Dj.em l'ealiz;d, c1Juld potent tally be transferred ~.!1to effectiveness aGainst himself. The £:.bortive coup of late 1960 b~d r,a,1i: Diel:l even r::Ol'e rc1t;.ct~nt thC'..ll he had earlier been to permit :po~\er (esp~cially cocrciYe pc\·:~r) to be gathered :into one set of ha.nds other t!~n his 0l-:11. Still, the E:;stablish!r.ent of an effective military chain 01"' c~~d . .·:hich could o!,erat.e \"~h,:!"e necessary in the com:tryside rcr~ained the ~i~c objective o~ U.S. ~ilitary advisors. lQ/ ~w

T __

"' ••

y~._

..;.:..~I

_.,jt,.

~.:.

!-~

'V

_~"

A unitary chain of COI!o.'!!au'lQ had recently been orc.ere5 into effect within A..ttVN, but this had not solved the operationa.! proble:!!s, for military operations were inesca.pably conducte~ in ~eas under the control of' an independentpoliticaJ. organization id th its o'.m t'lili tary forces and inflUence on operatiOns of all kinds -..,. milita.ry, paramilitary, and civic action. The province chief's, persona.lly selected by President Diem and presUr.1a.bly loyal to him, controlled' politically the territory in dispute with the VC and liithin l-:hich ARVN must opere-teo They also controlled territorial forces comprising the Civil Guard (CG) and Self Defense Corps (SDC). For President Dia~'s purposes this bilineal organization offered an opportunity to counterbalance the pol-rer (and coup potential) of the generals by the power of the province chiefs. It was a. device for survival. But the na.tural by-product of this duality, in terms of the effectiveness of' actions aga.in~t the VC, was poor coordination and imperfect cooperation

3


in intelligence collection alid prod~ction, in planning, and in operational execution in the countryside, where the battles vIere fought -- both the "ba.ttle for men's minds ll and the aore easily understood battJ.es for control of the hanu.cts) villa.ges, districts, and provinces. The U.S. and GVN uere agreed that in order to defeat 'the msurgenci it was necessa.ry that the rural populace identii'J ''lith at lea.st the local representatives of the central goverllW"-Ilt. They were agreed, too, that some rr..easure of physj c~l security must be provided the rural. population if this end "1ere to be a.chieved. Both agreed t.l}a,t t..lle GVN must be the principal asont to ca.~ry out ~lle actions which would bring the insurgene,r to an end. The high level U.S.-GVN discussions held dluring President Kennedy's first yetE,:!: jn office foCUted on \fha.t the U.S. could J.rovide GVN to assist the latt.er's c01.mteri1.turgency efforts a.l'1d on what GVH should do orga.nizatiOlla.L'bY, to lfl~l\:e its eff'orts ~ore effective. A su'bsidiary e..nd related d:i.scussion revolved a.ro:md the U.S. advisory organize.tion to pa.rallel the GVI'i reorGanization. The :proble!l of hO~l additional reJcU!"ces in sane improved organizationa.l f'ramBi':or}: 1'1ere to be a.pplied ol)~ratiol1?..lly ,vas :fragmented into ma...1'ly su.b-issues rangins from securi."lg the b:lrder to building social irlfrastructure. The story of the St~at~gic Hf'..!ulet Prog:car;-:, a.s it came to be called, is one ill llhieh an op':!ra.tion:::.l concept SlX!cif'y-lT.:.g a sequence of con.crete steps ,,:as introduced by an a.!'ticula.te advocate, no::-j,~!:.11y accepted by all. .t:> th"" .... -;c,"' ___ -r r ........·-tn J.-'.:v..l. <>"':""'''''S __ vu ... , "r>~ __ .:. . a~--''''''''e..;l "'0 '" ,..,n<:i .,r:r---v .. _.. 01' _ ~T .... "' .... ""'r.t c=n':"ra.1:.t~:v _ "".a.."".r O .L in \-:hich it beca.ree the operationa.l blueprint I'or endL"r!g tbe insurgen("y. But it is also the story of an app-..-:.rent consensus built on differing, someti-:::es cc:npetine, expecta.tiC!1S end of e.i effort 't';h.ich ~·;as) in retrosp::ct, dOQ~ed by the fa.ilure to resolve ill one context the problem it '\'as designed to alleviate in another -- the .prople!!J: of GVlr stability. • .; ......"" , . l r......

II.

4

,,"4.~(.v"_"\;;"40

THE-¥ORifu]ATIm-r OF TH3 STR4.TmIC

V

""'"

c:._'!-~CL4

H.~MrBT PRO:;p~:,r

A. U.S. -GVN Consultations Beginning in May 1961, the U. S. and GVN ccnducte1 a. series of high level conferences to fashion responses to the insurgent challenge. The first of these was the visit to Saigon by the Vice PreSident, Lyndon ~. Johnson. The Vice President I s consultations were designed to reinforce the U. S. commitment to RVN and to improve the image of President Diem t s government.

In a communique issued jointly in Saigon, it '\'la.s ~greed that the RVNAF was to be increased to 150,000 men, that the U.S. would support the entire Civil Guard with military assistance :f'unds, that Vietnamese and . U. S. military specialists would be used to support village-level health e.n~ public works a.ctivities, and that the tlfO governments would "discuss

4


ncu economic and social meaSUI'en to be un~el~ta.kel1 in rUl'a.l areas to a.ccompany the anti-guerrilla effort ..• '. II lil ~l}}ese d:i.scussions implied that more GV1! effort should be devot-:d to rural pac:ificatio!l and civic a.ction and ackllo,dedgej tha.i~ more ree;ule.r r.:iJ.itary forces were needed, but they did little to clarifY the relationzhips of these parts to the whole or to a.Yl over""ll sche::;e by which the process would develop. The Sta.ley group, a joint economic and financial committee cocr.aired by Dr. A. Eugene Staley, Sta..llford Research Institute, and Vu Quoc ~\lC) qv~;, follc;';-ed lnn.cll the saJ'!!e pa.ttern. .Meeting in Saigon in June 1961, the. cor.:.-::ittee agreed that RVlt.-IlF strc21gth s}lou.ld be increased to 200,000 durirg CY 1962 am! that U.S. funding should be providej to various emergency ecol1c~.i(: and social p::.'ogra!:lz. 'f?l But the croup did noehing to tie together the strands of ,..hat it recognized as the· cClltra.l problem: to achieve a sirriultar!~cus "brea.ltthrough" o!'! both the l:,ilitg,ry-inter!!u sec-uxity front a!!:l th~ econc::.i·~-sociQ.l front. 131 Its reCO~lill'!elldatio!ls l'!ere restricted (in :p.rt, 110 Cioubt, beca1.ts~ of Its li1rri ted charter) to specific program incrt;e..s-ss a.nd to a. ?estate!::ent of the di~ensions of the p!"oblem. The deva.staot.ion cf~used by- the September monsoonal floods (320,000 rei'l:tgees, l,OOO kilo!!!cters of roa.d dest.rc-y.:;;d, 10 milljon acres ot rice and. oth~r crops lost), CO!!l.billed "lith the losses attributable to mcreased insurge.nt activity, led President Dim. t.o declaJ.'c a. state 0:" n~tio!'.e.1 er.-:ergency 011 19 O=:"!;C·b·::l' 1961. This dccl8.1.'e.ticm ccinc5dcd Kith the visit to Scu:theast Asia (15 OctC'oel' - 3 lJover~be:r) of Ger~era.l l.:a.."a-:ell D, Taylor, he",dir.g a. It~tsr.ion c-~skcd by Presijent; Ker.ne:1y to appra5 se the situf.tion in South 'liet~.'~.~. "'ho_ ~",.,.i4r.> ....+.", ..~~a+(\il t'h" <:-"0"""" 0'''' rr""r1o",l ....... ~c-~.:" .. ~ ...... ~l-...,. J. ____..... •____ J::''"' • _;,;;;.... _ ...... <k--.. ... ..,;_'- ____ y.l;_ br,..~~ .. ,.t n---ter!:':s: ~..I.-t.:.

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t-!hile tlH~ military part 0:."' t..~e problel is of gre~t i!"JpcrtEi.!:::e in South V:iet-l:£':'":1, its pclltical, socia.l, and econot.lic ele!!cnt.s axe CQ.1.1~.l1y sizn:'fic:'.nt, and I sllall expect your appraise.! and you::.' r€;co~.::_-.;nda.tior.s to ta.::e i\.11 aCCOlLYlt of tllem.

W

In his report to the Presicient, Genera.l Tay1o!" sketched out the nature ~.nd a~s of the Viet Cong threa.t a~Q assessed the strengths ~~d l-:ea.?nesses of the Diem gcverl1!!!el1t. He proposed aU. S. strategy for "turning the tide B.!:Q tor assu."lling the offensive in Vietnam. II 15/ The report '\·:arra.nts sU!::!"':;.?.rizing in some deta.i1, not because it outlined the main thrust of the pacification effort (it did not), but because itrepresents the best. docQ~ent to portray the range of U.S. concerns at the time the U.S. 1-TaS making a. major commitment to South Vietnam and because it lays out the major elements of the U.S. strategy of response. The Viet Cong, Taylor judged, were militarily powerful and becoming more powerful. But they were not yet ready to move to the third, climactic phase of j~-!aot s classic format for guerrilla. warfare: The milite.ry strategy being pursued is~ evidently, to pin dOl'oTD th~ A..-=tVN on defensive missions; to create a pervasive sense of insecurity and frustration by hit-and-run raids on self-defense corps and militia units) ambushing

5


the reserve 1'orces i1' possible as they come up to defend; and to CraIna.tize the i:!labil~ty of th~ GVl'! to Govcrn or to build, by the a.ssa.ssina.tion ci' oi"ficials and the sabota.ge 01' public rl0rks. "l§j , The p:lrpose of this mHitary stra.tegy, Taylor asserted, was epparently not to ca.pture the natic~ by force. Rather, in concert with non-military means, it l;as to produce a. poll tical crisis . .~hic.'I1 vlould topple the government and bring to po\'?er a. group ~lj.lling tc- ccnt~mpla.te the unification of VietnaJ:! on Hanoi' s ter.r;s.

KlI

"

It was in the U.S. interest, Taylor reasoned, to act vigorously -with a.dvice a.s ,~ell as aid -- in order to buy the necessary tl!:le 1'01' Vietnam to r::obili ze l"..nd to orga..'lize its real r.ssEts so' ;that the Vietr>.J.:.."tlese themselves n-dght "tUl'!l t!Je tide" and a.SS1.l.!~~ the offensive. 18/ But U.S. aid . 9...1"ld U. S. advi Ce on ~!l~!'e to use it 1-:ere not enoueh, The Dien Govern.'i!ent itself ha1 to be ref'ol'r:led in order to per=~it it to l'!lobilize the na.tion. Die!:: !1e-.5, 2.11 Taylo:!", s assess!~r;!nt, allo.':ed ti'lO vicious circles to develop :which "VitiC'.te:l gC"le"!'ri?'lent ef'f'ectiv6ness. III the first of these circles poor ~ilit~ry intelljeence led to a defensive st~lce designed ~r~ily to !l":.':"S)t'\:""~ Je'.. n ..t.""tan - .. en':" .c..'h-t ~o"'ce's g\la"'~ acai:<1st ""'" ,, __ .. ) ,,.l"'t;"h ,,, ••• _,-, ....... ..;.C!-....;.II v•• :';' ""'os·· oJ"' the lYo~1i·tR.'MT _'_' _".!._ came nr:.d·zr the control of" the province chiefs "Those res:pollsibi.l1ty it v:a.s to protect the pcp·.lle.~e c~:ld insta.lla.ticns. This control by province chiefs me~~t that I'esel'7~S could not, be;:!au.se of tangled lines of cor...':!a..'1d and centrol, be !:lO'l{::l e..'1d cO!ltrclled q:'l:Lc::ly enough to be ef'fective • The ef'i'ect , of high losses in U!'lsuc(:es~:fll.l de:"(;!ls:~ye bat-tles served further to dry up . the basic so'.U"ces ot intelligence. W •

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The second vicious circ::!.e ste:.:::ed from Diem' s instin~ti ve atte!~:pts "-Yl+r~"~'?"o'·~"\ \O:~..,.::~ ,,-nile. -"'~C'"",pnt;r,,.,. ..;t b"''''~~th h;'" to C '---¥ ........ _ - - ,J:I\J,. '-- -tIl h';s ..;. •• _- •• ...... .J,.-"""c;,;,-•• - - ... .:.0 * _...¥c;. His excessive rdstrust of !l'l:.ny in-=:'elle':tu~ls a.!ld you.!~ger Viet!l.a.~ese, individ'.;.a.ls ba.:ily needed to give his aat:inis;;,,;:·a.tion vitality, served only to alienate t-'I1e.':'l a.nd led they;'! to sta!:1 aside from cOllstructiv; :p::.rtici~t.ioll therEby :!"Urth€2' h!creasi!lg Dic..'Il's !..,.; strt~st. 20/ This adn:illistrative style . fed ba.ck, too, into the milita.ry e=!u~tio:l ard through it, crea.ted another poter..tia.lly explosive political-t:ilita.ry problem: V-'.-Q",

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The inability to mobilize intelligence effectively for operational purposes directly rlo~s ~cm this fact LDiem's administrative ~actici7 as do the generally poor relations betl-Teen the Province Chiefs a..11d thE mill tary cO!r.!'"o!S.nders, the former being Diem's relia.ble agents, the latter a. pm'ler base he fears. The consequent frustra.tion of Diem's military commanders -- a frustration ~-1ell-knovm to Diem and heightened by the November 1960 coup -- leads him to a.ctions which further complicate his problem; e.g., his un-. willingness to delegate military operations clea.rly to his gen~raJ.s.

gy

General Taylor l s recommended actions for the U.S. were designed , to demonstrate U.S.' commitment in order to strengthen Diem's stand and,

6


silnultaneou:lly, to broaden U. S. pa.rticip~.tion in the hope of bringing necessa.ry reforms in Die!n I s regime. The Presidellt I s emissary rejected tlie alternat.ives of a r.ilitary takeover ' . . h:i.ch l;10'.ud make the generals dominant in a.ll f.ields. H~ rej ected, too, the alter!15.ti ve of replacing Diem ~lith a Vlcakel' i'ig'Ul'c \-:ho \-lould be willing to delegate authority to both military and civil leaders. 22/ The first course would emphasize the solution to only one set of problems l'lhS.le slighting others; the second would p::r!~i.t action, but not coordine.ted action. abou~

In order to

r~ove

in a coordinated \":-::.y on the intermingled military, politi cC'.l , eccl:c~5.c, a:!.1 social problems feeing SO'..lth V:i.etne.m, General ~aylor recor."_'1l5!ld.Gj th=..t tbc U. S. initiate a. "limited partnership" which would stpp Shol't 0:" direct U. S. action btlt l:-ould c>.lso, throug."'l persuasion at '!:l'O....ny l~vels ju.~i<:io\.!sly nd.xed ,·Ii th U. S. l;ye~·f.se, tI • • • forCe the Vietna.!!lese to·' eet t:;.;~:r hc'.:.sc in order in o;r-e: are", a:f'ter e.nother. tt §./ Increc~sed r;g.te:-e5.al ass5.st?!~CC frc::; the U. S. ,·!Quld be accompa.:."lied rlith increased U.S. pa.rtici:pf~ti0:! a-:' all levels of gOVel'l<!!£!lt in ,·:1:.ich the JI..merican advisors must " ..• as f!'ie~d.s a!1d pa.!'tners -- not as a.r1rs-length advisol·S -- shm., thera ho;~ the job :-!iCht be done -- n.ot tell ther:l or do it for them. n If' ",...··~'\" .. C"'·'1 .. ·rc ~ss~ .... ~·-·" ..., .... -l . . ... ", ...l.·ly c"ts';de \.1_.';":'_"",", ... v""-,. .... ... .r"1 ........ :.:._.!. to. _.... e c::. '"",' stro1.·l-'Y""O··;··""-","l Sa:i.gon, thus avoj.d:1ng the est.a'blish::lE;nt oi' l~.re;e hE:fvdq,1;..a!'ters not actua.l.1y thO'ldl'" c.;..,.;)..., 'i'<,vl"'r __ v c.- '"' +h.,. ....\1 +-nl"S -lncre~c:.e~ CJ._ "" U •S • eng<>r:-... ~-...c. -In 0'0"'....., ... 10'·,.,1 tr·-;-s n participation ·~7o'.lld not be "col:!lter-prcdu.ctive ; e.g., lend subst&1ce 'to cla~m!> of U.S. i!:p-~riali~:m and dOl:!ina.1'l~c of the Di~'1l Gover!lJtent. gJy ~_

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Thus, T~ylor consciously opted for a U.S. cource of action inybien the major t..lu'\::.st 01" effort \·rculd be to in;iUCe Die:1 to do the thir;gs the.t the U. S. thOUGht snc:l.la be .done: to d::.,~\.! t~e ciiss.f.fected into the l'.atiOlla.l effort C!...Yld to crga!!.iz€ and equip so that effective action "!;lould be possible. General Taylor did not argue explic:itlY that s\.~ccess \-lQuld 1'0110;-< automatically if Diem 1 s pre.ctices could be reforn:ed a...l1d his op·::rational capabilities upgrade1, but he ,;""plied this outcor-.:e. The quest-iOl! oj" a..1'l overall strategy . to defea.t the in.surgel'~cy ca..ry,e 'Very close to bei~G rega.rded as a. problem in the organization and !f:~:le.Ec~:;~:r:t of rescurces. Since GVN had l!0 !l.ationa.l pla.."'l, efforts ,-:ere concentrated on indnci!!g thel1 to produce one. There l\~S much less CO:2cern a.bout the substance of the nen-existent GVH ple.n. It was almost as though there had to be somethil2g to endorse or to criticize bef'ore substar.tive issues could be treated as re1e-vdJlt.

c.

U. S. -Prooosed

~Ia.tio!1a.l

Plans

This priority of' business is reflected in the U.S. p1a...l'lS which were proposed to GV11 tor adoption by the la.tter. In la.te 1960 the U.S. Country Team in Saigon produced an agreed "Counterinsurgency Plan for Viet-Nam1t (eIP). The plan was an attempt to specify roles and relationships within GVN in the counterinsurgency effort, to persuade Diem to abandon his bilineal chain of command in favor of' a. single command line with integrated effort at a.1l levels within the government, and to create' the' governmenta.l machinery for coordinated national. pla.nning. 'E:2/ It

7


llas recognized that these recommenda.tions 'tiere not ~latable to President ~em, but reorganization along the lines specified \'1as recarded as essential to successful accomplisllment o:f the COu...·lte:dnsurgcnt· effort. g§J The CIP \-'1&8 all i!ldictlllent of GVN failure to orga:.'lize effectively and to produce coordinated nationa.l plans. ~71 It advanced no operatioI'l..a.l concepts for a.doption by G'I.J"!!. This obvious omission ,-~as corrected in the "Geographica.11y Pbased Nationa.l Level Operation Ple.n for Coll.'lterinsurgencyrt l:hich l;~~.r'\.G Vietm~.m publ:i.shed on 15 Septe.'11ber 1961. E§/ Not only did this pla.n sllecii'y the B.l'Cas of primary interest for pacification operations -as its title indicates -- it a.lso set forth a. conceptull outline of the t!'l..ree sequential phases 0:1: actiol1s ,-:llich Irlust be w'ldertaken. In the first, 1tpl'cIaratory ph!'~se, It the intelligence effort was to be cC!1centrated in the pl'iority target areas, surveys ,\-:e1'e to be madey.to pinpoint needed eco!:cl?ll c a!'lj political re:f'ol"l:l.e, plans 't'!ere to be dra...m up, and ~ilitary and political cadres \-:erc to be t!'a.ined for fr-e specific objecti-,re a!:ea. The second, or "mHitary p'l'::C'..~e, It ,·:ould be devoted to clea.r:!.ng the objective area. "rith re&..lla.r forces, then handir~.g lo'::al security resp;)!'lsibility over to the Civil Gua.rd (CG) and to este.bH.. s!ling GVN presence.:!JJ In the final) "security pha.se, II the Self Defense Corps (SDC) \-[ould e.ssu.r:.e the civ:!.l action-local security mission, tlle rcpule.ce '1-:as to be ureoriented, It political c~ntro1 ~:a.s to pess to civilian hf..nds, a.nd econorr~ic ~"'ld social prcgra...':!s \-ler€: to be initiated to cO!'lsolidate govcrfl..mer.i.t cc!!trol. Milite.r;{ units l~cl.u.d be idthm·a.~·:!l as sec1J..rity uas e.chieved and the target area. l10..tid be "secl..U'cd" by the lOl·E;.lt~· o~ its iI'l11abitants -- a. loyalty attribu~ble to GV!lr s successi'ul resJlC!l;::~s to the i"elt needs of t1'!e inhabite..'1ts. }}j

m

First priority in this pla.·.. (1962 opera.tions) ,,:as to go to six provinces around Saigo!'l a.Tld to the KO!ltU.-rn a.rca.. Seccnd priority (1963) l'10~lld be gi....en to expansion. sout}-f{;&.rd into the Delta. a!"~d soutlmard in the Cent!'e.l Highla.nds from Kontum. Third priority (l964) 't-:odd continue the sPl'ead of' GVH control in the highlan:'s a.nd shift the e::.ph~sis in the south to the provinces north a..lld east of ~~i~cl1. Before ar:.y or these pri o!'ity actions ...:ere U!ldertaken, hO\-:ever, it '\-las proposcd to conduct an ARV!.': s. . ieep in i-!a.r Zone D, in the ju.l'!eles northea.st of Saigon, to reduce the de...'1ger to the capital a..'ld to ~cree.se A~VI:' s self-confide!1ce. ~ (See Map 1.) The geographically phased plan complemented the ee.rlier CIP. Together, these two U. S. efforts ccnsti tuted all outline blueprint for action. _It is, of course, argwable that this was the best conceivable blueprint, but it vas at least a. co:r.prehensive basis for refinement -for arguments for different priorities. or a changed useries of events" in the process of pacification. D.. Initial Vietnamese Reactions This is not hOt-l matters proceeded, in the event. Amba.ssador Durbrow, Genera.l}'IcGa.rr, and others urged acceptance of the CIP upon President Diem, but with only partial success. Diem stoutly resisted ..the .adoption of a. single, integrated chain of oper~tional command, showed nO enthusiasm fOr detailed prior pla.nning, continued his practice ot: cen:tralized .decision-ma\:jng (sometimes tantamount to dec~sion piegonboling),

W

8


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and continued to playoff the province chiefs against the genare-Is. Some aspect~ of the eIP were accepted, but the basic or~~~izational issues rema.L~ed ~~esolved and the strategic approaCh un2'esolved by default. The wlsuccessi'ul U. S. e.ttempts to secure organizational reforms within the Die.m goverr. .'nent had assu.llled psycholog-lcal p!"ilr~cy by the time of Genere.l Taylor 1 s Octobe!" 1961 mission to Saigon. The American positionwas essentially that no operational plan could succeed unless GVN were reorganized to permiteffective implementation. It "Tas t:eorgallization t~at Taylor emphasized, as detailed above. But General Taylor did bring up the need fOl' sonle coordilla.ted operationaJ. plan in his talks "'lith Pre.s,dent Diem. Dietl I s response is described in a cable to l\'ashington by Ambassador Nolting: Taylor several .I.;i.Jl1es stressed importance of overall ndlit~ry, politic~l, economic, psychological~ etc. for dea.ling \-(j.th g'.l('!r:dllas. Diem tended a.void clear response this suc~estion. but finally indica.ted that he has a ne~r stra.tegic pla.n of nis O";-1!l.. Since it \'las not very clear ill spite eff'orts to d:.'a.\-r h~!.l"':! ou.t uhat this ~"l is, Taylor asked h:tm to let us b.ve a. ccpy in i\'riting. ;i:J plan --

E.

Tho!!!psen IS Couderul'orosals

President Diem 1:E.y haVe been ";rhistling in the da.rk about e. ne\-I of his· Oim. It is li::ely ~ hc¥:ever, that he ,·:as alrea.dy conVerSE:...llt with th'3 idees of a Deli high le".Jel advise:r \-Tho had been in S:;:L.gon for severa.l \-leeks and "rhose a.:;Jp~~oacJl to prosecuting t::e i-:a.r he ,,;ould soon endorse officially as his O'·;!l. The a.dvIser \·;as RGK ~nlOl':::pscn) a British civil serva.nt \·:ho had co!!'~a from the pesi tien of Pern!S.l1e!1t Secretary of Defense in Malaye. Thot:psen t s British Advisory !.lission i';S,S in Saigon in response to Diem's request :fer e}~~rienced third countr-J ~ationals to a.ssist him in his coul'lterinslU'Gent operations. ~'here ha.d bee!: so:.:e init:ta.l U. S. objection to British "advice 1dthout resIJOnsibility, II bu.t fea.rs had been temporarily allayed ,,:hen it "las a.greed that Thc~pscn' s charter "lould be . limited to civic action ma.tters. pla..~

.

Thompson provided Diem his initial "appreciation" (or, in U.S. terminology, tlest~E>¥te of the situation") in Octeber 1961.;Q/ His a.ssessment "laS "lell received by the President, ,\-lho a.sked him to follow it up l-lith a specific plan. Thompson's response, all outline plan for the pacifica.tion of the Delta. ares., "''as given to the President on 13 November. Thus, Thompson was in the :process of a.rticulating one potentially comprehensj.ve strategic approach at the same time tha.t the U.S. "las deeply involved in fashioning a. major neti p-'l)a.se in U.S.-G~1 relations in which major nel-1 U.S. aid would be tied to Diem's acceptance of specified reforms and, inferentially, to his willingness to pursue seme a.greed, coordinated strategy. Thompson r s . plan was, in short, a potentia.l rival to the America.n-advanced plans represented by the elP and the geographically pha.sed MAA~ plan of September ~96l.

10


In order to assess the sL~ilarities and differences be~:een the U;S. plans and that advanced by the British Advisory Mj.ssion, it is necessary to sl.~ize ~pson t s aretUl!ent cl.!ld proposals. IJike Taylor (with '\~hOIil he talked and to yrhon! he gave a coW of his initial "apprecia.tion" e.t the la.tter's request), Thompson sa\'1 the VC objective to be one of political cenouement by combined military alld political action ra.ther than a mlitary takeover of the entire na.tion. Like McGarr and the other U.S. milita..."'"'Y a.dvisors, he recognized the probability and da.l'lger of VC attempts to control. th'" unpopula.ted areas and to use the!ll both e.s a. base rom wr~ch to project an. in:e.ge 0;''' J)Olitical strength and as secure areas !'.rOIl!. which (in' "the CE'.se of l·~e.r Zone D, northea.st of Saigon) to three-ten the ca.p1tal. But unlike the U.S. militaryadvisor.s.) ThoI::pson viewed tile pr]~ threat to be to the politica.l stability of the populated rural areas. Conseg,uently, he regarded HcGa.rr t s proposed illitial operation in Ha.r Zone D " to be a step in the "'Tong direction. " The l!a.in goverl1'nent tare<;t, Tho!r.:pson argued, should not be smply the destruction of VC forces. Rathe?, it should be to offer an attractive and constructive aJ.ternative to cO::!!'iunist appeals. This CGulti only be done by ~ph~sizing ~~tional reconstructicn and development in the populated rural ar;as. To do so wOlild re~uirc extensive ~~d stringent security ~a­ sur~s, to be s~U'e, but these :,-,casUY'e:z required primarily ~lice rather than reG'.llar r:::'lita.r-/ forces. The police could esta.blish a close rapport '\-dth th; populace; t.lle ar~y could not. The army should ha.ve the mission to keep tIle ve off' bala.'1ce by !;:.cbile action in order to prevcnt insurgent at.tac::s on the l'~'!!iUed areas in v:hic11 GV2~ ,,:0·.11d ccncent!"~te it~ initial p&.Cl. fica.tion ez",!"orts.

'J1/

This line of argument ,,:as .tcre fully develOPed in T'nC!!lpSon t s dra.I."t for the ~~cjfication of the Del~a area, eiven to President Di~ on 11 Nove:.'.ber. 'j§J T'ne objective cf t.he ple...'l "las to ,,:in lO~ia.lties rather the..'1 to kill ins:lrgents. For that rf.~scn Tho~:fson selected a. populous area. y:ith relatively litUe vc main force acti',rj.ty. ille thr'.lst of his proposal. r:a.S t;:a.t "Clear and holdl! operations should replace ftsea.rch and des·iiroy" S\'leeps. ARV!f r.dent be used to protect th,:: villages vihile the villages were organizing to protect themselves E:...'ld t':cbile ARVN forces ~ust be availa.ble to reinforce local defense units, but the process should be abandoned of If svleepingll through an area -- and then leaving it. The pea.sants must be " given the assurance of physical security so that econo:nic and social improvenents, the real object of the plan, could procced without interruption. pla.~

The mea.'lS by llhich the villagers -rlould be protected \Oj8,S the n strategic llamlet, rr a. lightly guarded village because it was -- by definition -in a rela.tively low risk area. ~Iore heavi4r defended centers, caJ.led "defended hamlets" and involving more relocation, would be employed in areas under more VC infJ.uence, particularly along the Cambodian border. "To contro~ this effort in the Delta., Thompson recommended that the'ARVN"III Corps Headquarters be reinforced with paramilitary and civil components, relieved of its responsibility for the area around and north . of Saigon, and iUuction under the immedia.te supervision of the Bational. Security COuncil -- presided over by President Diem. The province chiefs,

11


a.lready under Diem's personal direction, ,·;o'.lld be responsible 011 all emergency matters to the relnforced II! Corps Headquarters (to be called the., Combined lIeadque.rters), but continue as before l-Ji th respect to routine a.d:~i.nistra tion. :JjJ Thompson presented this Delta. plan as a proeram of wide potential:

••• It should lead by stages to a. reorganization of the gover!'l..1!:.c!!.t, ~chillery for directing and coordinatirtg all action agabst the CO!r1!!Ull.i.StS aud to the production of an overall strateg:i c o:peratlo:!e.l ple..~ for the country a.s a i'l[!ole dei'j.ning respO!'!sibilities, tas1<:s and priorities. 'At the sa!r;e tir:e it ,,:ill le~d to the establishment of a static security i'ra~e~ork ,\,lhich can be developed eventua.lly into a l~~ticma.l Police force into l-:hich can be incorpora.ted a. single securlty intellige!lCe organization for the direction ~q coordin~tion of all intelligence activities against the coli1~~ists. I agree '\-lith Your Excellency that it \-:ould be too disruptive at the present l'lc:nellt to try to achieve these iIr..m.ediately and that they should be developed gradua.lly. Using a medical al1a.loey, the. re!:ledy should be clinical rather than surgical. !J!Y III.

DEVELOPIr:G A Cmmm$US A.

Al~O?:G

Ini tial 1\6e.ctioll \)f U. S.

TH3 ADYISORS !~ili ta:qr

Advisers

It is not difficult to ~agLl1e the shocked reaction to Thompson's . propcse.1s, especially in U.S. military circles. In fa.ct, or.e need nat imagine then; General. l<1cGarr has recorded a deta.iled rej oinder to ThO!npson' s propcse.ls. He '\'las, to begin llith, u:pset about the lack of prior cocrdil'.a.tion: Follmling )ir. Thompson 1 s medical analogy ... 'VTe have the ca.se of a doctor called in for consultation on a clinical case, actually performing a.Yl a.1!lputation llithout consulting the resident pbssicio.n -- and ~lithout being required to assume t?e overall responsibility for the patient. !fY General McGarr t s unha.ppiness ld, th Thompson "Tas not simply a case of injured feelings. He had four related categories of disagreements with . the plan proJlOsed by the British Advisory Mission. First, Thompson 1 s recolllIll.ended COl!lrnand arrangements, if adopted, would demolish the prospect .of·a unitary chain or command l'dthin ARVN, an objective toward which l/IcGarr had lleen working for over a year. Additionally, the Thompson proposals voul.d leave Diem as the ultimate manager of an operation dealing with only a portion (the Delta) of RVN. The el:bnination or practices such as this had been an explicit otjective of the entire U.S. advisor~ effort ~or a . long time.·.

12


Second) the proposed priority in the Delta. cla.shed "lith McGe.rr's . priorities which placed t'lar Zone D first, the area around Saigon secor~d, and the Delta third. There lias a lack of unan:i.."!lity among the U. S. ad-l7isc!'s about the rela.tive i."tportance of the "Tar Zone D operation but t..lle l!!ilita.!'Y, in particular, were looking for an important oper~tion to help the (hopefUlly) revitalized ARVN demonstrate its offensive spirit and mobile ~pabili­ t~es. This desire gave rise to the third and fourth objections -- or fears. The n static security fra.me\-1ork" in the villa.ges to ,·rhic.1i Thc..'~pson referred struck General McGa.rr as an unl-larra...Ylted dO'omgl'ading ot t..lle need for a sizea.ble conventional military force to play an irlporta.z:t role in pacification. T'non:pson' s stated desire to e.:!!:p~asize police forces in lieu of regular military forces wa3 regarded by~e U.S. military acvisory ctriet as unrealistic -- a transferr~l of Malayan eA~erience to a locale in which : the existing tools ot polj.cy i'lere very different.

, Rela.ted to this objection was a final set of disagree~~~ts. Thompson ha.d \-ranted to go slc','1ly and to let a ne~~ GVIi organiza.ticn grO...·l from the effert. The U. S. military advisory chief also 'vanted to go slo~ly -but not tha.t slcr;ly. not only \-1ould the Viet Cor.g not \\'ait, it r~ siI::M' unsourtd policy not to use the tools at na..'!d. It ,,:ould not do to reduce the ARVI'J and increaSe police forces ~lhile the VC contin\!ed thier su.c~esses. It was necessary, in su~, to act in a limited ~ea. but to act q~CF~y. ~nompson's recc~endationz dia not look to ~~ick action, emphasized the ~rc~g area, "lere dssig:led to e::::pbasize the \-lrong opera.tional agency, a.!!Q proposed unacce:ptable cc:::r.:a.nd li.!les. W . It is important to note tha't in' spite of these explicit disagreements there 't':ere bread are:lS of' a.pparent e.gree::e!lt beti::een ThO::p5on and .. .,..t~ (A.,.,....,~· .....,Yl... +'l...e II~ ... .=.!>S o~ co......e~'~~ t" ::;,::s..."'.,., ___ .11, bQc~us" - i:L. .",:J -- a~ee1Y.~r,~·n c;:,,___.... _.. hl.·s U•S• co"w.a.........a.e'l"'r) differences, teo.) The U.S. ~·:'\AG ''las 2!::en~ble to the develo~e!:t of strategic hrur:lets, Ge:leral },~cG~.rr claimed.!:J/ Indeed, K;AG's long, clliuse doctrinal "ha.n1book" for advisers in the field did devote three pagas -- lnthc;:t any ~rticula.r e.'T.pha.sis -- to the' II secure 'Villa.ge concept. n !::!if K,A_t\.G did not stress the centrality of strategic beJ:U.ets ~r se, but neither did Thompson. Strategic h2.mlets ,\-jere to T'nompson a-waysta.tion en~ute his rea.l objective -- l-:imllllg the loyalty of the rural peasants. This was apparently compatible with the sequential steps to pacitice.tion outlined in MAAG' s O~.'ll Geographically Phased CounterL'lsurgency Pla!l. If' the co.ting approaches of the U.S. and British advisors bad not been made compatible, there wa.s, at least, some agreed ground trom which to launch the effort to make them compatible. -,r--~.

10rJ

c::&r_~t;~

tJ

~-

~'-' ...

to

B.

Reactions in Washinston

That such ground existed was fortunate, 'for Thompson's evolutionar-.! plan was not only finding a warm reception at the Presidential Palaces it was also winning an attentive ear in Wa.shington. As already lI!.entioned, .1'bompson talked "'lith General Taylor during the latter r s October 1961 mission . to Saigon and provided Taylor a copy of the initial British "appreciation. U

13


-.

-e

Copies or the Thompson memorandUm on the Delta ve!'e also for-nardcd to Taylor at the latter's request. !~51 Then in January 1962> Thompson, again. responding to Taylor's request, S";Lt the la.tter a long letter outlining his viel1s. In less than a. month, Genera.! Taylor could present to President Kennedy a plan entitled "A Stra.tegic Concept for South Vietnam" by Roger H:tlsman which was a..'"l ll..'la.bashed restatement of most of Tilc:enpsO!l' S tlajor points and tm:ard r:bich President Kennedy had, not incidentally, alrea.dy expressed a favora.ble disposition. !J搂J '. Hilsma.n I s ltstrategic concept" avolfed1y flol-led from tbree basic principles: that the problel':l in VietIK'.:o presented by the VC l."a.S poll tical ra.ther thtnmilitary in its essenCE:; tha.t a.ll effectiv? counte..l'"insurgency ~l'! must provide the peop~e and villages with protection and ~ica1 security; and that counter guerr:i.lla forces must a.dopt the same tactics . as those used by the gllerl'illa. hmself.

!flJ

To trans1a.te these p-cinciples into operationa.l reality, HUsman called tor "strategic villages" and "defended villa.ges" ella ThO!:lpSon, "lith first priority to the tost POP":.llous areas; i.e., the Delta. and in the vicinity of Hue. 1:8/ ARV:: ;路:ould, r.:uch as in Tho::-.pson t s proposal., secure the initial e:':rort, when necessary, ~"ld be employed to keep the VC off . bala.nce in those a.reas a.lr~ady undE:!' Viet COl".g CC~!t!'ol. The plan envisaged a three-phase process by i路:hich GVn cont.rol ,,:ould progressively be expanded fr'c!'[! the least bea.vily VC-per.:etrc.;~ed provinces ,":ith h.?(;e popul.e.tions (~l~se I), into the ~ore heavily p~~etreted popul~~icn centers (phase II), a.nd i'illa.11y into tbe area.: a1cns t!.\e Iaotian a.Y!::! Ca!!;1:lcc:i~ l'c!"ders (:phase III).!!JJ Hilsr.lan eschc~':~d use of ~,he "oi1 spot" analog;:,. . b;;t the process and rationale he put fort;l i":ere the same. His pIa!! lrcveJ "strateeic villages" to a. pla.ce of' pro::dnsn~e greater tha....""l th5.t in Thompson I s Delta. plan and fa.!' in excess ot' the o:f.'f'nan~ed accepta!J.~e lihich had thus faJ.o been affol'ded theIi by U.S. lY'.ilita.!'y advisers. StrateGic hwets vere net the ~ of the Hilsman plan -- civic action "\-las ths.t -- but they were the symbol, the easily recognizable, easily grasped initial step by whiCh GV1r could begin, follo"\vlng Hilsl'!"~n's second :prinCiple, to "p!'cvide the people and. the villages "lith protection a..'"ld physica.l secU!'ity."

221

c.

The Advism-s Reac..l} Agree.-nent

Thompson t s basic ideas i'lere gaining "Tide dissemination a.t the higbest level within the U.S. government in early 1962. What of his relations with the U.S. KAAG in Saigon? These had been significantly improved as the result of a meeting betvleen Thompson, Ambassa.dor Nolting, and British Ambassador Hohler. Thompson agreed to revise his paper so as to remove the objection to his proposed cOl!lIll9.nd arrallgements. Ambassador Nolting reported that Thompson vas nOlV' working "closely and amicably" with MAAG. j]j This took care ot' one of McGarr's objections. Thompson had apparently decided> too, to allow the issue to drop f'or the time being of' police primacy in paCification vis-~-vis ARVN. It was not, after all, .a change that could be made quickly; President Diem. was convinced that " some start was needed to save his administration. That had been his rea.son, after all, Ll reluctant~ inviting increased American participation :in the war.

-'.


Secretary J.r!c!{amara played an important role in disposing of' still another issue in dispute -- that of wbere to beein. In mid-DeceI!l.ber 1961, after President Kerincdyhad'decided to adoptessentially all of General Taylor I S liove::iber recc::!;]'!.;ndatiolls except the introduction of major U. S. " forces into Vietnam, Secretary McHamara met in Honolulu with the U.S. principals in Vietn::.!:!. to discuss fl1.ture plans. A central question was that of l-rha.t could be done in the short 'term future. The Secretary of' 1fef'ense made it clear that lrJIlI had "number one priority. It McNamara urged concentration on one province: "I'll" guarantee it the money and equip!!eng provided ;,rou have a pla...l1 b3sed on one province. Take one plAce, sweep it and hold it in. a. pla."l. tI Or, put another "lay, let us demonstrate that " in some :place, in some v:ay, 't,re can ~~bieve dc,-nonstra.ble gains.

5r

2J/

Generall.1cGarl', ;mediately upon his return to Saigon, wrote to . Secretary Thua...l1 and !)9.ssed on this proposal: •

I "lould like to suggest that you r.ay ~lish to set aside one ~pecific area., f::ay a pro\Tince, a..."ld use it as a. "test ..... e~ It 4n es+ft'"l';.,l,~" .... ..Ll;;s: ';"'~al:::truc ~~,... c."c.u--... ·-~ •• o tJ_J._a. "'V"n~ "'.;r"t"C "-n.<;.c':~c~t40n .t- .LJ..L c:. -. ..u • .!..J:... . ttlre. n I~ry t!lip..kin~ is that all t..lIe various elements of this anti-VC grou.lldv:cr1,: be designe.ted media.tely by your government and traine5. as a. team or tea!!l.s tel" the a.ctu.al reoccupa.tio!} a.nd holding of the designated cOI!'.:amist infiltrated area. v~hen it has b~€;n clee-red by RVI~..F !:iilitary action. 54/

Such tea:::s i·~ould e~b!'e.(!e, ~·icGa.!.·r suegested, police, intelligence, finan~ial, :psycholoejce.l, agric'.lltu~~, medical, civic action, and civil pol5,tica.l functions.

ziI

IV.

TJB ADVISORS "5-;:LL" DIEM (OR VICE-VERSA)

A.

1h ,.-T·

_ e're to

'-5 __ 1 • B'<>~-1Yl"

GViif did indeed have a province ill nind. It 't\ra,s not a Delta province, how'ever. rIor was it eo province relatively secure. from VC im"iltration. Q.uite to the contrary, Bir.h Duong Province, extending north and northwest.

of' Saigon, bad been hea.vily infiltrated. Its main conu'llunications Lns (Na.tional Hig1nQa.y 13, extending nor~"Ilard I"'rO~ Saigon into cambodia) sliced directly bet"leen vla.r Zene D and rlar Zone C. The province lias crossed by important routes of cc::r~ications, liaison, and supply betlfeen two insurgen redoubts. Hardly the logical place to begin, one might say, . but "logic" was being driven by events and desires more than by abstract reasoning. One desire vas the widely held wish to do something concrete and productive as a symbol of' U.S. determination and GVN vitality. Another desire was GVN's wish to commit the Americans to support of Diem's government on terms which would be in fact acceptable to that government and ' would -- equally important -- a.ppear to be U.S. support for GVN-initiated actions. " If' one .were Vietnamese one might reason that~ Binh :Dlong was an


area o~ a.lre~dy

unquestionable stl'atec;ic importa."lce -- and one in llhich GVI~ had initiated cmne pa.cifica.tion efforts. If the Americans ~"ish to concentrate in one province and if they are \-Tilling to ll..1'J.del""aite the effort with resources, WllY not begin in an i..'!lportant strategic area. where work. is already un1er~ay? .

.

GVIIT had initiated, in August 1961, a "Rural Reconstruction C8.mpaigntl in the Eastern Region of South Vietnam to secure the provinces of ~ Nw.h, Billl! Duong, and Plmoc Tuy. 2§/ Most of the effort prior to Decenbcr 1951 had been concentrated in the Cu Chi District of Binh Thlong. Xon Hue Har.'et of T-"-ll An Hoi 1'laS, during December, in the process of being fortified as a. strategic ha'lllet. 57/ General Jo.lcGarr 1'laS under the impression that nconsiaero.ble proeresslthad a.J.ree.dy been made in these three · provinces in the establishment of the G~r village level a.ctivities so necessary to l>liTl.ning popular support. '2§/ .' '. . ·l

~.

..:,

.".

":!n mid-January General rfi.cGarr met (just priclr to his departure for Honolulu) ,·lith President Die!:l and Secretary ThU8...1'J. to discuss Pacification pla."Yls. As l·~cGa.rr told Secretary MC1\"!l.lnara, Diem stressed that the }M\AG-endorsed z:"d.litary operation in War Zone D might merely close the string on an Ce"!lpty be.g. Such a failU!'e ,,;ould be detrimental to ARVII morale. Besides, the President observed echoing Thompson, "s\,1eepsll solved nothing; .the problem i"laS to hold an area 8...l1d to se'P~rate the VC from the rest of the populace. Diem preferred a concentrated effort in Binh D..long, a. hea.vily infiltrated province, close to Saigon, of great strategic iJ:!portance, and in l1hich only 10 of IJ6 villages \-Jere under GVl'! control -- but in which the groundt(ork ~or a souad governmel1t infrastructure had alrea.dy been laid. 59/ The discussions at the Secretary of Defense's Conference in · Honolulu tU!'ned on ilhether or not the ;';a.r Zone D opera.tion offered more hope for a concrete. gain than a "siIl.gle province n paCification scheme. McR~~a. concludej that it did not. General KcGarr dissented ~dly fr~ the selection of Binb Duong. He would have fa.vored Hluoc Tuy (where U.S. · troops ,"lere scheduled to la.1'J.d if a decision \-1ere ever ma3e to commit them). But Binh DIlong l'laS Gvt!' s pla..TJ. and the trlilU.ited partners" finaJJ.y agreed . to ba.ck Diem 1 s preferred a ttelllpt. §gj Thus, the U. S. Ca!!le to a rolUlda.bout decision to support as a trtestU of ,"lhat ,,:ould later be called the "strategic · hamlet prograzr.1t an opera.tion a.1>0ut \-Those details they kne'.·; little, in an area that all recognized to be difficult, because it allegedly re~sentea long-sought example of GVN initiative in planning and civil-military preparation. 1-~uch of the public :image of the strategic hamlet program was to be estab1:i:shed by this operation, a.s it turned ou~- : Its name was nOpera.tion Sunrise. II But it was not -- U.S. desires to the contrary -the only strategic hamlet effort to be carried forward during this period. It llas only one of several -- and several grew very quickly into many.

a

B.

Concurrent GVN Activity

It has already been suggested that President Diem responded wi~ some enthusiasm. to the early proposals from Thompson's British Advisory Mission. In mid"~ebrua.ry 1962, Presi~ent Diem approved ora.lly'Thompson's

16


"Delta Pacification P.lan" and said he would like to see it -executed without delay. gj Earlier, on 3 February, he had created by presidential . decree the Inter-Ministerial Ct=:!11i ttee for Strategic Ha.m.lets (!MeSH), comprising the hea.ds of various luinistries (Defense, Interior, Education, Civic Action, Rural Affairs, etc.). 62/ The D-1Cs.."I wa.s, as its membership indicates, a coordin&ting body designed to give national direction and . guidance to the program. Its importa.Ylce is not in its work -- for it apparently did very little -- but as ffn indica.tor of Diem t s early 1962 thinkillg of stra.tegic ha.:!rJ.ets as a national progra!!l. and of the central role which his brother, l:go Dirll r.!hu, liOuId pla.y in this program. Nhu '\-las the real driving force behind GVI~'S uneven but discernible ,movement tOi-;rard adoption of the strategic ha.n:let theme as a unifying con_cept in its paCification efforts. In the early period under discussion he raasked his central role, hc\-:ever. He ,,"as not a...'lllounced as the Cha.i.rman of the n~lCSR (nobody ga.s), but the comIrittee l.;as responsible to him. §/ He did not, hC1-leVer ~ lea1 it actively. As ti-;O .A.!:.erican observers remarked at the time, tlI~h'!l .see!!!S to hay~ consulted the co:-.:ti.ttee se1dc~ and to have shared his policy-making })Cl-rer idth it even less frequently. II §!y

But a.1though brother ::hu '\-:as behind the scenes in late

1961

and

early 1962, an ocea.sicnP.l fleeting glimpse of his thinking and the direction in l'lhich he ,,;as heading ha.s still m..~aged to she\-; throu.gh. A CIA report from Saigon sU!lL.T!arize5 I:11U I S instructions to a. dozen province chie!'s from the Delta in a meeting held on 14 Dece!:1ber 1901. PriI:lary eI!.\-phasis ,,~ to be pla.ced on the strategic ha.n:let program, l:lm sa.id, and this progrs.!li was to be couple:d vdth a. ftsociaJ. revolution" agair:.st "Viet-i:a.:"l!IS three enemies: divisive forces, law ste.n5ard of living, and cc!:'~'..mis.'!i. II 65/ The CII.. Task J!'orce - Vietnam cbseryd, in for;·;a:-dil1g this report, tha.t Nhu's "social revolution anj strategic h~lets appear to be fuzzy concepts with little value in the fight against the Ccr;::r:unists. n §§/ _ No doubt these concepts seemed fuzzy at the end of 1961. But within another tl1elve months, as events "lould prove, they vlould be wide~ recognized as the win spearheads of GV1\f's counterinsurgent effort, fUzzyor not. The .strat~ic hamlet program v~ollld ha.ve broad support within the ,U.S. government and financia1 resources to underpin that support. The Itsocial revolutiontl 1;0 which J.7hu referred in Decenber 1961 "lould be surfaced as Diem. t s tlpersonalism" drive. The important thing for the present analysis is that all of the expectations of the several participant groups -- both U.S. and GVN -- were identifia.ble by very early 1962 at the latest, and tbat the concept of the strategic hamlet program in the broad sense' had been M.ly adumbrated. The skeleton -- the ra.tionale -- was complete; the body -operational programs - had not yet taken form. Each group could, however, work toward construction of a slightly different body (and for differing reasons) and claim 'With some pla.usibility to be ''lorking from. the same skeleton. -

17


V~

,Dn"'FE..~nlG

ID1SrnCTlVES AIID

EXPEC~~TIO::S

Three somet-That different vie1is my be categorized v;hich are of interest 'to the present inquiry: those of the U. S. milltary advisors, of the U. S. political leadership, ~~d of the Diem gove~nrr.sntts lea.ders. SUCh generalizations are a.d!r:.ittedly risky and easily overdravm; there 'Vlere, of' course, differences be~ieen the perceptions and e}~~ctations of, say, the U.S. military advisers. For example, those farthest from S~igon tended to be less patient -- l-7ith Diem and in expecting res1J~ts -- than ,-:ere those closer to ~~e area of operations. Still, discer~ible differences of outlook and expectations ~y be said to represent the prev-ailing view-s in each of these three groups. ~, A.

U.S. l·lilitary Adv5.sors

The U.S. militarJ adv-lsors mistru.sted argtl!!ieds lihich stressed , the Vietnamese struggle as essentially political rather thal'l millta..-ry. They "rere quite uillil".g to concede that the s"truggle ~·~as multi-dimensioI'..a.l. but they i'eared instinctively 8w.YJ.y line of :!.'easoning 1,;hich might a.ppear to. argue that J:'Iili'ta-.-..y considerations rlere relatively un-importa!:.t in Vietnam. So, too, they ,::ere '-:e..ry of schenles "lhich !r!ight lead A~Vll to perpetuate its defensive tactics.l star!ce. Both da.l!gers \'7ere present in the strategic hamlet progI'a!:!.. The s~e milita.:ry a.dvisors f:ere more l"'orceful than others in stressing the need for the Diem regke to rationalize its CO!:J!:a.nd arrangements a..'ld to pls.n con~prehensively and ill aeta:il frO!i. the high~st to Imlest levels. Their operational interest conce!ltrated on l:a.king ARVl'i not just , more mobile but more aggressive. Their creed, developed throug..ll years of , experience a.\'ld training (or vicarious experisnce) was to "close \-:ith and destroy the ener.:y. It One could expect the!:!, then, to be more than \·dl.liDg to'turn over the job ,of static defense to the CDC and CG at ~~e earliest o~rt\lnity, to keep a. vlea.ther eye out for op:pcrtunities to e!lge.ge mjor VC fOI'l."la.tioIl.s in decisive battle, and to chafe under the pail".i"ully S101rl evolutionary ~~cess which vT<eS implicit even in their m·r,n 1961 geogra.~cally phased plan. B.

U.S. Political Leadership

The U.S. politicalleadersnip, and to varying degrees the leaders in the Saigon E!:lbassy and in USOr-i, were more attWled to the po1itical problems -- both ..lith respect to GVN-U.S. relations and to the problem ot winning broad support among the Vietnamese for the Diem administration. This made members of this group inherently more sympathetic to proposals such as the Thompson plan for the Delta than they were, for instance, to increasing ARVN's size and capabilities. They found compelling the 'logiC! of analyses suCh as Hilsman' s which cut to the political root rather than treating only the military symptoms. 'One suspects -- though documenta.tion would never be found to support it -- that' they were attracted by an ar~­ mentwbich did 'suggest some hope for "demilitarizing" the war, de-emphasizing u.s. operationaJ. participation, and increasing GVN's ability to solve its Own internal problems using primarily'its own human resources.

18


C. . President Diem NgO' Dinh Diem's perspective a.~d expectatiens were the most different of all. U.S. groups differed in dregre; Diem's expectatiO'ns were different in kind. He l:a~ted, first ef all, to' ebtain unequivecal U.S. support, net just to his natien but to' bis administratien. It was essential, in his eyes, that this suppO'rt net ce"'lprO'mise bis autherity er Vietnamese severeignty. He die net ~ant to' give credence to' cemmunist claims that he "las a puppet ef tbe U.S., en ene b~n<l, 0'1' cO'ncentrate the coercive instr~~nts ef pel'rer in the hand ef potential antagenists, en the ether. . A revealing assessment ef ~e!ll f s frame ef mind is provided by Ambassador Nelting. Die~ invited increase1 U.S. aid and U.S. ~ticipa­ tien beca.use he feared that, especially'\-:ith an impending settlement in LaO's, South VietD~ io'C-:lld ceme under increa.sing cemmunist pressures. If Diem t s geverl1.:':ient could net win over these pressures -- and Diem feared it could net -- it had or~ the cheice ef geL~ de~nl fighting 0'1' of being · overthrot."!l by a. ceup. T'nus, in requesting additienal U.S. help, Diem had· ·uadepted an expedient \,:hich runs against his otm cenvictiens, and he is · apparently r:illi~g to accept the atte::d~.llt dil"'j nutien ef his ao\'Il stature · as an independent 2.!ld seli'-reliant natior:.:ll leader. It

m.J

But when Ati:le.ssader Nolting !U'esented to' Diem the U.S. quid pro quo for its "lir3ted partnership," this a~pa.:r.ent accepta.nce c~ aecreased stature and inde::;;;n~ence suddeJ'l~y se~ed less apV'-rent. §§/ Then, as Nelting reported, President Diem feared the rea.ctien even ~cng his Olm cabinet aides. 69/ Secretary ThU2....'"l, in v:~oJ::l Diem did cel'..i'ie.e, said that the President 1';as brooding over the fact that the U~S ...:as asking great cencessic2!s ef mlH in the reak of its scvere:i.gnty in exch~be for little additienal belp. J2/ Diem argued that U.S. influence ever his gevernment, once it ,·;as knmm, ..:euld play directly intO' the ce!1':!.'l1l."1ists· hands. The first prierity task, he added, l\"a.s to give the people security, not to r.:.~ ke the gcverm::.ent more popular. TO' try it the ether vre.y areund ",ras to place the cart before the herse. W . Diem sal:' himself caught in a dilemr.".a. in which he 't{as doomed if' he .. did net get eutside assistance and doe:red if he get it enly at the price of surrendering his independence. To bim the trick waS to' get the U.S. committed witheut SD-~endering his independence. One possible selutien lay in getting U.S. mterial aid for a pregra.~ that weuld be almost who1l¥ GVN-implemented. The strategic hamlet program offered a convenient vehicle fer this purpose and ene which was alsO' appealing fer ether reasons. It put achieving securitybefere winning leyalty -- in an eperatienal context; in ",bich it was difficult to' differentiate between security for the rural populace and contrel ef that populace, since many ef the actions to' achieve ene w~ almost identical to' the acts to' realize the ether. D.

The Central Issue

. The U. S., fO? its part, was asking Diem to' forego inde])endence bY' 'a.ccepting the wisdom of the American recemmendations. fer reform. The

19


central question 'Vas vlhether he 'Would- -- or could -- do so. Among tbose . who responded to this question in the negative, J. Kenneth Galbraith wasmost trench~t:

In my completely considered viel'1 • • • Diem will not reform either adwini~trative1y or politically in any effective l:fl:'J. That is because he cannot. It is politically naive to expect it. He senses that he cannot let power go be~ause he l~ou1d be thrown out. J!! . The U.S. decided that Diem could make Ineaningi'ul reforms and that he 'Wo~ld do so -- or at least it decided that it was likely encr.lgh that be vo~d do so a~d tr~t support for h;s administration constituted the best available policy alternative. E. -The Problem of AssesSI!.ent

!Phe differences in perspectives a~d expectations outlinea above are im:port~1t in their own right. They loan even larger, hOllever, when one considers the difficulty of assessing progress in the program about to be underta.1:en. These groups were about to embark upon a long, arduous' joint voyage. Their only cha..-rt had never been to sea. This lIaS the newly-articulated and ilIiperi"ect1y understood doctrine of counterinsurgency which stressed tneinteraction aI!d inte~dependence of political, militar.r~ . sociel, and ;:sycho1oeical factors. It posited the necessity for certain actions to foll01'1 l.!3!lediately a.."1d successfulJy behind otters in order for the process. of pacification to succeed. Above all -- a"ld this :point c~~oi be overstressed -- while this doctrine recognized the need for both the ca=rot a.~d the stick (for coercive control and ap:;ee.l.ing programs) it made gaining broad popular accepta"1ce the single ultima.te criterion of success. Neither kill ratios nor construction rates nor the fre~ency of incidents r:as cO:lclusive, yet these 11ere all indicators applicable to phases ''t-lithin the larger process. T"ne gains of doing r:ell in one phase l hOllever, could be wiped but by ina.ctivity or mistakes in a S'~bsequent phase. It 'WaS, in short, very difficult to knOY how,\-Tell one was doing until one l~ done. VI.

THE NATI01rALPLA..TIl EMERGES

A.

Avrareness of the Unifying Potential

Before examining the quality of execution of the opera.tional programs for vbich same detailed record is available it will be useful. to . outline the process by y~ch the strategic hamlet program became -- by late 1962 -- a comprehensive na.tional program embodying the major effort of GV.tI in pacification. "Operation Sunrise" in Binh Duong Province was launched on 22 March 1962 in what was initially called the nBen Cat Project. n 73/ ![!he Delta project, howeverl languished in a "planning stage tf unti1liii, when it first became known tha.t Diem was considering incorporating it into the 'Strategir. lIamlet Program. 74/ :By August the IMCSH proposed a priority Plan. for the construction ofstrategic hamlets on a nation-wide basis. ,. 20


Later the same month, the U.S. Inter-Agcncy Car:r.ittee for Province Rehabilitation concurrec in this ple.'l (rlith !l!inor reserva.tions) as a basis for planning ar.d u.tilization of U.S. e.ssiste.."Jce •. lil By October, the Diem government had r.:ade the Strategic Hamlet Program the explicit :focus and unif',ying co..'lce?t or its pacification effort. The goVermnentcontrolled Times of Viet Ua!n devoted a.."l entire isSo..le to "1962: The Year . of Strategic Hamlets. II 767 l!go Dir..h I::hu uas unveiled as the "architect and prime mover" of the program ~llich lTaS the Vietnamese ansuer to cCI!'II!lunist strategy. As ::hu procla:illled: "Strategic hamlets seek to assure the security of the people in order that the success of the polit- . 1ca1~ SOCial, and milit~.f revolution Eight be assured by the enthuSiastic mova'1lent of solidarity a..'!d self-su:fi'iciency. n 77/ President Diem had earlier put the same thc·;.ght to a..'1 ~erican Visitor in clearer lIOI'ds: The importB.-'"lce or the strategic hamlets goes beyond tile concept of balr.let self dere!"~se. They are e. means to institute basic democracy in Vietne::.. Thro-ugh the Strategic Be.mlet Program, the gover=-ed ir..tends to give back to the hamlet the right of self-goverr.!:.cnt 't-r.ith its Olm charter and system of community la't-T. ?his vIill realize the ideas of the consti,tution on a local scale ~r.ich the people CB.-l'l u-'lderstand. W . By this time, too, influential P.!l:erican circles rega..'Y"Iled the Strategic Hamlet Prcgra::: as the short~d ciesignation 'for a process "rhich represented a. sensible c.:!o, sound GVi! ei'i'ort. Reger liilsman had said so in February to President Keraledy, 2...l'ld found the letter higlt..ly receptive. He continued to say so. 79/ As he advised }..s~i.~'t~t Se~:reta.."7 of S't£.te Averell lIarriman in late 1962" tlT'.ne govel"rl.T.'!ent of Vietnan has- f'i..ne.lly developed, and is no~ acting upcn, ~~ effective strategic concept." ~ Even so luke"rarm an enth:lsiest as the CJes, (;A-ner-=>-1 lqm2.Il L. LE:!::nitzer

could report that benefits It and may program. §!/

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the Strategic ~~let Progra~ promises solid be the vital key to success of the pacification •

' .

The llublic record also snows ea:1y support. from high U.S. off"icials :for the Strategic He!i!.et Prcgra!'.l and recognition of its central role 1.'1 GVH I 5 pacifi cation ca..:"t:;:~gn. Speakil'1g in late April. 1962, Under Secretary of State George W. Ball, co.1'G!tented favorably in the progressive development of strategic ham' ets throughout RV!'! as a method of combating insurgency and as a. l!!.ea.r:s of bringing the entire nation "under control of the government. rr §g/ Secreta...7 1.IcIIa.mara told members of the press, upon his. return to Washington from. a Pacific meeting in July 1962~ that the Strategic Hamlet Program vas the "backbone of President Diem1 s program for countering subversion directed 88ainst his state."

!J!

It is reasonable to conclude from the evidence that official U.S. awareness kept abreast of Diem l s progressive adoption of the ~tegie lfamlet Program as the "unifying concept" in his counterinsurgent effort. The same officials were constant~ bombarded by a series o:f reports from a variety o:f sources describing the progress of the hamlet program" and assessing its eff'icacy. -

21


B. 1f00eration Su..""lrise" F

. The f'irst operational ei'fort in which the U.S. had a hand, "Operation Sunrise, IS got under way in Binh Duong Province on 22 l·farcll 1962 when 'WOrk can::nenced on Ben ~'Uong, the first ,of five hamlets to be constructed f'or relocete::l ;peasants in the Bcn Cat District in ~,d around the La! Khe·rubber plantation. (See Map 2.) Phase I of the operation -- the military clearing phase -- vas conducted by :forces of the 5th ARVIf Division reinforced by ranger companies, a reconnaissance compalJ;Y, two rein£orced CG cOL~a.1'lies, ~"ld a psychological v:ari'are company. The Viet Cong . simpl.y melted into the jungles. ~lith the Viet Cop..g out of the uay -- at least for the time be~ -the reloca.tion and const::-uction of tbe ne..r ha-:1et cOll1rnenced. The ne"Yl program got off to a bad start. The governme!1t 'VIas able to persua.de only . seventy fw.ilies to volunteer for resettle..'!!ent';' The 135 other :fWJ.ies in ~ 'the ha.J.i' dozen settlel!:.ents were herded forcibly from their homes. PAl Little of the $300,000 in local currency provided by USOl>'I had reached the peasants; the money was being lrlthheld untE the resettled femilies indicated they lTOuld not bolt the nel" hal!llet. Sc!!',e or them ca'lJle '\-lith most of their mee.ger belongings. Others had little but the clothes on their backs. Their old d~lellings -- and many of their possessions -- l-Tere burned behind them. 85/ Only 120 ~aJ.es of a.'l age to bear arflS lrere found 8!!1ong the more ~ 200:femilies -- indica.ting very clearly that a large number ha!l,.gone over to the VC, rr!:.et'her by choice or as a res'llt of L'ltimidation. ~I

'C. Other Early Programs

Progress in Binh Duong continued at a. steady pace, beset by dif'fieulties. B-J JnidsUI"~er 2900 persons ha.d heen regrouped into three strategic har.Ilets. §Jj Elseiv1'lere, the pace quickenea.. AJ..though the Del.ta Plan, as a coordinated e!:fort, had not been ~lemented by the summer of 1962, SecretarJ Mc!'!ar.la.ra f'oul'ld in May an agg!'essive effort Wlder "WaY 'Without U.S. help near Ca l/!e.o: Here the cO!Ilr.e.nder of the 31st Infa.'ltrJ Regiment he.d gone into an a...~a 95~ controlled by the VC, decla.red martial le,1l, and resettled 11,000 people (some under duress) in 9 strategic hamlets, while fighting the VC wherever he found them. Since inception of the progI'e!!l, none of his villages have been attacked, and the freedom :from VC taxa.tion (extortion) is proving most appeaJ.ing to the people. It is the commander's hope (doubtless optimistic) that he will be able to turn the whole area over to the ci'Yil guard and self defense corps within 6 months. §§/ '.

These resettlement efforts in areas which had been under VC domjns.tion were not the extent of the early bamlet Ifprogram, II hol-1eVer. Many exist.1ng hamlets and vi"ages were "fortified" in one degree or another early in 1962 following no discernible pattern. This appears to have been the . natural. product of the varied response to Nhu I s injunction to enq>hasize strategic hamlets. In April, the GVN Ministry of the Interior ini"omed the U.S. that 1300 such hamlets were already completed. 891 ,"Operation Suilrise tt had by: this time been broadened to embrace effortS in several ' '. provinces. ~l SeveraJ. other strategic Hamlet Prog~ were begun: "O!Jeration Ba.i Yen 1I" (Sea Sw.llov) ili Phu Yen Province with a goal of .281 hamlets, 157 of which reponed.as c~~.eted within two months:

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22


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At Last -- A National Plan

The GVr~ drev all of the partialistic programs together in its August 1962 national priority plan, mentioned earlier. The nation was dividea. into four p..-iority zones (Map 3). First priority was assigned to the eleven provinces around Saigon. This included essentially the area of the Thc=~;.pson D~lta plan plus' the orig:!.!:el area of "Operation . Sunrise lf plus Gia Dinh Province (!,lap 4). Priorities· Within each zone were further specified. t-lithin the zone of first national priority, for example, the provi-nces of Vinh Long, Long 1m, and Phuoc Tr-$ Yere assigned · the highest priority; Bin..l-} Duong -- where operations were already in progress -- vas given priority three (Map 5). By the end 01' the summer of 1962 GVn c1cd!~ed that 3,225 of the p1avmed 11,316 ha'lllets had already · been ccmpleted a'1d tha.t over 33 percent of the na.tion' s total population vas alread-.1 living in c~pletea. hamlets (See Table 1). October 1962, 'Wilen Diem made the Strategic Hamlet ~cgram the focus of his cou-'1ter1nsurgent Ca.!!lpaig!l, !!larks the seco:ld watershed in the deve1~.e~t and i=p1eme~tation of the program. The first such watershed had bee!l the consensus, on the ~te~tial value of such a prov}'l.ich had been developed at the end of 1961 and early 1962. There would be no otr.ers until the p!'Ol;rar! died \."ith Diem. ~vowed

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E. Effect on U.S. Perce'Dtions .. The effect of the ~~rs concentraion O!l strategic hemlets was to make U.S. assessments focus on several sub-a.spects of the problem. Atten. tion tended to be directed tOivC!.rd hoW' well ha.'""..lets were beir~ i'ortified and whether or not· the ll!plementaticn phase 1-laS .rell managed; i.e., whet!ler pee.sants i·Tere !>aid for their labor, reimbursed for their losses, B..Yld given adequa.te oPllOrtul1i ty to· attend their crops. Conversely, attention vas directed away from the d~~icult-to-assess question of whether the follow. up actions to hamlet secu!"ity vere taking plece -- the actions which would convert the peasantry from apathy (if not opposition) to identification · With their central government. This focusing on details which diverted attention from the ultimate .objective toa.1t the form of reports, primarily statisticaJ." which set forth ·the constraction rate for strategic hamlets" the incident rate ofVC .activities" and the geographical areas in vhich GVN control was and was not in the ascendancy. These "specifics" were coupled to generalized assessments which almost invariably pointed to shortcomings in GV1{' s execution of ·the· program. The shOrtCOmings , however, were treated as problems in '. etf1cient management and operational organization; the ineluctability of in".reased control (or security) leading somehov to. popular identificatiOn


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2,559,320

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by 'a process a1dn to the economic assumption of "notation to stability -through develo?2-:;ent tf 'rent. tUlchalleneed as eo basic e.ssl..unpi:ion. Critics . poillted to needed il:iprovcments; the question o:f 'Whether or not these could be accC::!lllislled, or 1-Thy, almost: never 'las raised. uOpeJ.'etfon Sunrise ll , :for example, 1ms criticized iIi some detail by the US I-lftJ.G. l~ltlch better' planning and coordina.tion 'Was needed in order to relocate eITeci:ive1y: Aerial surveys ,rere necessary to pinpoint t.1le number of :fa:.:ilies to be relocated; una..."lticipeted expenditures nec.J.ed to be provided for; prepa2.'ation o:f sites should begin before the peasants were moved; and G"Vll resource conmtllleni:s should be careful.ly chec..~ed by U.S. advisors at all levels. 92/ There "as no discussio..ll of the vulnerabilit-.r o:f the strat-egic he.m.letF"to VC L~iltretion (as against,VC attacks) or o:f thesubse~~ent steps to w.inniJ"l-S support. That \ras not~ one EEW assu.'lTte,-. the tilite--r:v's prime concern. -"':Politicel observers vho exatined this follow-on aspect vere cautiously optilaistic: The .strategic hemlet program is the heart o:f our ettort end deserves top priority. '\o1hile it has not _.. and probably '-lill not -- bring democracy to rural Vietne.!'a, it provides t~ local a&ninistraticn :for the :first time. Coupled vithmeasures to increa.se rice production ~.nd far.0.er inccr.:e, these local administrations can lrork a revo1utio!l in rural. Vietnam. 9~/· The sS'rle tone YeS reflected in lachael ForrestaJ. t s report· to President . KeIUledyin Febr-Ile...-j 1963 follo'td.ng his visit t<> Vietnaml-r.ith Roger lIilsman. 94/ '"1.rhe visitors found, Ambassador !!olting ~"1d his deputy, rlilliem C. !rrueheartl opt:i.mistic acout the results llhich the prcg:r~.!l tight' achieve once the m;terials :for it, then just beginnLT!g to come in, reached:r-un Volume. fJil

The De~....rtl!lent o:f Dei'e.."'lse l-res deyot-f ng considerable, e:f'f'ort to insuring that these materials did rea.ch Vietne:.l in, the qua:.'"ltities needed and 1..'1 tirlely i'asp..io.'l. Secretary J.lcl!amE'..ra had been stuck 'i.'ith this problem during his l!e.y 1962 visit to "o-.J?eration &..mrise u • He salT especially a need to pro~ SDC, CG, al'ld Youth Corps training so that it would match the role of ha..-nlet building and to insure the provision of proper communications for ,\1'2...""Xling purposes. ~ A subste.."1tie.l e.mount o:f the }'IAAG-DoD effort subseg,uently l.-ent int() progra:~ng. T'JlC 'Agency -ror International Develo~ent haa agreed t<>fund the "Stra.tegic P.e.."llet Kits" (building " materials., barbed 'Wire and sta.,'ltes, light ,reapons, ammunition, end CODIDlUnicationequipment), but, in August 1962 it demurred, stating that sup;portins assistp.Dce funds in the )!AP. were inadequate :for the purpose. W ' Secretary ){cJlaJUl.'ra egreedto undertake the financing :for 1500 ldts\13 . million) but asked it· t·he add!tioneJ. 3500 kits requested wre reaJ.:q necessar,r and) if' so, on what deliver.y scheduJ.e. The target levels and' delivery dates underwent more or:less.'continuous revision 1'ran then untU the question' became irrelevant in le.teJ.963. A' separate but rela.ted efi'ort·went into, ~editing .the procurementl deliver.y, and, inst.allationot

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F.

Dif'ferences :Begin to Dnerge

, Ali 0:[' these· "program ma.1'lage.,1!ent11 activities 'were 't!e.sed on the' , unstE¢ed .e.ssumption that the strategic 2la.1J!let program vouJ.d lead to' etfec· tive p2.ci:t'ic:atioTl if"onJ.y DiaTa YrouJ.d ~~e it'\rork. As it turnea. out, there ~re.s some disagreement behleen \;rhat the U.S. considered needed to be done andi-;hat President Die.!l :knew verJ "rell he ,rss doing. He "'as using the. strategic 1Ie=:let Progrmn to c8XJ.7 fOrire.rd his "personalist philosophy.'1 As brotherl!hu· vIsibly took the reins controlli.11gthe program end beean to , solidifY control over the Youth Corps it becmne increasif'l.,gly dear tha.t · Diem ,laS em-pbasizing gover!l!itent control 01' the peasantr.f a.t the ex.pense (at .. lec.st in U.S. eyes) of pacifica.ticn. 100/ . ' .

m

. As alrareness in rTashineton incrae.sed that strategic h2]'ll~ets could serve several pu...-wposes, there de-veloped f;.lso a divergent interpretation oi: 'Whethar or' not the mlti 'Was tI"Tinning the ,.;ir. II l-lhen . General.· Krulak, SACSA, and Joseph 1.:tendenJ:lell, an ex-coll..l1selcr in Sr..igon then at State, visited RVU in September 1953 President Kennecy "<;;r"jly as..~ed upon receiving their, conf'licti.'lg report-s, fryo'll t,ro did visit the same countr.,r, didntt you?" 101/ ,The a.nS1:er is that t.l).ey haa, but the cene=-al stressed that the militery "rer liaS going well 1:hile the diplO!tat asserted the.t the political i-18X we.sbeing lost. The erg:.:!!!2e~ 1-."es not" it· 5ho~d be stressed, o!!e betvreen the gener?.J.s a.1'ld· the diplO!l!C.tsj e."Cperienced dil>lc=-~:ts dicaereed :f'unda'nenta..1.!.yt-1.th ·J.IendenheJ.l. The di~ee!T!ent 1-;ras bet;,·;een those ;,·rho pointed to signs of progress end those 'i.i1o heJd up eXl?J:iples o:t poor plannL'lg" corruption, end. alienation of the pec.s~l1ts l-:'!lose loyalty ,:as the object of the exercise. 'CriticiS!!1s -- frequently accompanied b'l cO'.lnterbala...l1cing assertions that Itlll!lited progress" 'iaS being achieved --t:e:ltioned corvee labor, Gili' failures to remburse the farmers for losses clue to resettleme.'lt, the dishonesty or scme officiaJ..s, end Diem t s stress on e):nortations ra.ther than on the pro\rision of desirable social ser-l1ices. 102/'. .

Those V110 emphesized that the progrs:n ..res. shol1ing real progress usual~ rrith a cavee.t· or two that there r:as considerable room for improvement .... stressed statistical evidence to portrB¥ the eA-ponential incl'ease' . in stra.tegic hem.1et eonstl'l,lction (Table 2)" the declinif'l.g tre..'ld in Viet Cong-initiated incidents (T:able 3JI therise in VC defections (Ta.ble 4), and •the, slow b~t steady increase in GYlf control of rural areas (Table 5) •. The JCS observation 'With respect to the establisbment of strategic hamlets ~ for instanee~ was that since fe..rer than. two tenths of one percent (O.~) of them had been overrun by the VC" IfThe Vietnamese people must . ~ be finding in them a measure of the tranquility which they seek. . 3.03/·

'. . ~ TJlom.pson later claimed that the veri! absence' of 'e.tt.acks was ,an indica.tor tbat theVC had 'succeeded in infiltrating the 'bamlets. lri+/ ,!"he point is' not ~son t s prescience but the di:rficuJ.:tyof reasoned~, ' . assessment t-o which this analysis bas already pOinted.' The U.S. course; ,

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in the face of these cautiously opt.misti c and hC'pef'ully pess::m; stic l:as to continue its est.ablished pl'ogra::n of material support coupled ..ith attellipts to il'-fluellce Diem to taake desire3. changes.

re~rt~l

VII.

THE PAT'! TO TdE E!::D

A.

Diem's Position Hardens

The obvious U.S. alternatives, by mid-1903, rer.:.ained the sase as they "..ere in 1at~ 1901: (1) to injuce cha.nges ~it!lin the strategic l!amlet .?-rogram (a:!),=,ng others) by convincing Diem t·o ·~ake such ~'la!l5eS; (2) to allo,~ Diem to run t:;;'..ings his ~n yay and. hope for the best. and. (3) ·to find an alterJ!ative to President Diem •. ~he U.S. continued.~ to.~, pursue the first course; Die:!! insisted increasii:zly O!l the second. Finally, due to pressures ho!:} areas other than the Strategic Hamlet Progra.TQ, the U.S. pJI'sued the third alternative. The strategic Hf..~et Program, in the event, died ldt.lI its sponsors. Far frQ:!Jl becoming ~ore reasonable, in U.S. eyes, President Di.em by mid-1903 ba3 become ~ore intractable. lIe insisted, tor exe..-:p1e, that the U. S. cease to have ar1 operational voice in the Strategic Ra1nlet Program. The multiplication of U.S. advisors &.t marlY levels, he c1eimed, was the source of' frictio!l and. dissension. The reJiledy was to remove the ad~,isors. 105/ ~he essence or Diem's position lias tha.t Taylor's "limited partnership·' w-ould not "orY... , other U.S. missio!}s visited Vietnam to assess the conduct The result lo°as much the sa"!le as reported. by ?.rulak and

ot

. the 'W~. 14endenha1l. This \.yU essentially the findings of the !~c;:amara-~aylor mission in September; the mi1ite.ry c~paign is progressing, political disaffection is growing; U.S. leverage is questionable. 106/ B.

The ~ Dies lB.th tll.e N~os

The rest may be summarized: the U. S. atteDpted to insist on a program l:ith more emphasis on broad. appeal rather than control; Diem, finding himself increasingly embroiled in the Buddhist controversy, increased repressive measures; a coup toppled the Diem regime on 1 IJovember; the deposed President end his brother :~hu, "architect of the Strategic Hamlet Progam," were killed. . The strategic Ra.'If1let Program-or a.t least the program under that name 'fhich they had made the unifYing theme of their counterinsurgent eftort--died with them. The inbabitants who had wanted to leave tbe hmlets did so in the absence of an effective government. . The VC took advantage of the confusion to attack and overrun others. Some off'erred little or no resistance. The ruling junta attempted to resuscitate the program' as "New Life 'Hamlets'· early in 1964, but the failures of the past provided a poor psychological basis upon which to base ~opestor the future. . .


The dOJllinant U. S. vi ell bas been tha'c the strategic liruet Program. failed because of' over-expension and the establishlYlent of' hwets in besically insecure areas. 107/ That there ,,:as overexpansion and the establismnent of many poorly def'elldei h81nlets is not questioned. This contributed, beyond doubt, to the failure of the program. But this view finesses the problem of the process for ,:::ich the strat(.'gic hamlets vere but the tangible sj'l£bol. The preSe11t a!'!alysis hes s01!ght to empr..asize both t.he esse.."1tially political nattU"e of t.he objective of' the Strategic 'lfanlet Program and. the polit.ical nature of the corltext in Yhich the process evolved -- of expectatiolls~' bargaining, e..'ld atter!pts' to exert influence on other participants in policy formulation ani ~p1ementation. In this context it is the U. S. inability to e>:ert leverage on President Diem (or DieI:1' s i.'lability to reform) t.ha.t emerges as the principal cause of failure. Yet, both of these attempts t.o pinpoint the reasons why the strategic hPllllet progr~ did not succeed fail to get a.t enother l:'hole issue: the validity of' that body of 'Writings "~hich one reay call tbe theory and doctrine of counterinsureenc:... l:eitber the military nor · 'tbe political aspects of this doctrine can be upheld (or proved false) by an exa:oination of the strate~ic I:e.-n.let Program. Quite aside from yhether or not Diem !;"as able to broaden the program's a.ppeal to the peasantry, 'Khat 'Wo'.lld have occurrei hai I.e lnade a determined. and sustained effort to do so? 1"!ou1d this have led in some I:ore-or...1ess direct way to stability or to even greater dissatisfaction! r:e sfuply do not l".no'W. The ql.~e~tion is as una'1s~;eral}1e as ,-,tether the appetite · grOl':s lrlth the eating or is satisfied. b~r it. The co:!ter~tion here is 'that claL~s of Eiamanage~ent are not Sufficient to co~cluae that better management l~ou1d necessarily have llroducel the desired results. In the military sphere the u.'1ans't:erable questions are different. It is said that the lrllitary phase of the stra.t.egic Eamlet J'rogram . progressei reasonably well in lnany areas; the fai1'Ul'e was in trl€ political end of' the process. But did the militar:y- actions succeed.? ~!ight failures 1;0 develop adequa~e intelligence EL~d to ¥eed out VC infrastructure in these hamlets not as easily be attributable toO_the fact that the · inhabitants knew they were not really safe frOJ3 VC intimidatiqn 8..'ld rellrisals? Does the analogy to an "oil spot If have operational meaning when small bands can carry out hit and run raids or when many small bands can concentrate in 'one location and ach:;ieve surprise? ~·jhere is . the key to this vicious circle -- or is there a key? . In conclusion, while the abortive strategic Hamlet Program of .1961-1963 may teach one something, the available record does not permit one to conclude either that the progI'8!ll fell because of the failure of , a given phase or that other phases were, in fact, adequate to the '. challenge. One may say that the program was doomed by poor execution and. by the inability of the lEgo fay :ly to reform coupled 'tdth the inability of the U. S. to. induce them to reform. The evidence does not. warrant one to proceed further.

, .

",36

".,

HASC Pentagon Papers Part IV B2  

HASC Pentagon Papers Part IV B2

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