91. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to the President’s Special Assistant (Komer)1


  • Progress Report on JUSPAO Support to Pacification

Any review of progress made in the extent of JUSPAO support to pacification and other non-military programs in South Viet-Nam must be a high selective exercise, for most JUSPAO programming is non-military in objective and essence. Although providing support to the GVN/US military effort in tactical situations in the field, JUSPAO programs are oriented toward the long-range objective of helping to build a sense of Vietnamese nationhood and to promote the emergence of a national consensus.

An examination of JUSPAO support to pacification since July 1, 1965 should also be prefaced by the fact that JUSPAO as an inter-agency organization only came into being around that time.

Personnel Input:

Perhaps one of the most immediate and tangible yardsticks of JUSPAO contribution to pacification has been the process by which JUSPAO officers are trained and deployed for provincial operation in South Viet-Nam. For one of the vital ingredients in the pacification process is communication, particularly communication between the populace in rural areas and their government. And among the American officers committed to this task in the field is the JUSPAO Field Representative—a key individual who functions as psychological adviser as well as operator who utilizes every means of formal and informal communication.2 With backing of JUSPAO media and program resources, the Field Representative strives to help the Vietnamese Information Service close the communication gap that exists between the GVN and her officials on the one hand and the Vietnamese peasant on the other. On July 1, 1965, ten such officers were operating in South Viet-Nam. By January, 1966, 31 such JUSPAO officers supported by 73 Vietnamese assistants were stationed and functioning in provincial [Page 269] locations throughout the country. Since January, several more have been added.

Media Capability:

The increase in JUSPAO personnel has also meant corresponding increases in the volume and variety of media output. The following major themes have been given continuing emphasis: explaining the U.S. presence; publicizing GVN/US military victories to bolster Vietnamese morale; promoting the Chieu Hoi program; generating and maintaining popular support for the government and at the same time seeking to deny it to the VC by exposing their true nature and intent; and exploiting VC vulnerabilities whether these be found in their rank and file or in their terroristic and other oppressive tactics directed against the people. A quantitative measure of the mix of media output on the above themes would be difficult to develop. For illustrative purposes, a review of increased JUSPAO capabilities, specifically in offset printing in Saigon since July 1965, may provide a graphic picture of progress made by JUSPAO. Following are sample monthly totals of the number of impressions:

1965 July 4.97 million
September 7.06 million
December 8.82 million
1966 March 13.16 million

Thus, in the last six months in 1965, JUSPAO offset printing had nearly doubled in capacity. The March 1966 figure furthermore reflected the added priority given to printing support for revolutionary development.3 In the third week of last month, for example, a weekly record of 5.44 million offset impressions was achieved. This level of production in one week exceeded that of the month of July last year. It should be noted finally that JUSPAO offset printing represents only one of several sources of printing support; in fact most JUSPAO printing is done in the USIA printing plant in Manila.

Chieu Hoi Program:

This program has a central place in the pacification scheme of things. The variety and volume of JUSPAO input into this program and the dramatic results in terms of the numbers of Chieu Hoi returnees warrant a lengthier discussion.

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Although the collection of monthly returnee statistics under this program is not as refined and controlled as it might be, these figures do provide a rough quantitative index with which to measure the impact of the psychological operations conducted in support of the program. Furthermore, over a period of months, a trend measurement of this effort emerged and is useful as a chart of progress achieved.

Of all psywar products developed in JUSPAO for tactical use in the field, Chieu Hoi themes have been emphasized above all others. For example, in August, 1965, 10 of the 20 items (posters and leaflets) developed and produced that month were geared to the Chieu Hoi program. Seen in terms of volume, the JUSPAO “psywar” output in October 1965 totaled some 13 million copies, of which 30 per cent were related to the Chieu Hoi program. Operationally, JUSPAO field representatives have also given this program their priority attention, utilizing not only printed materials (leaflets, posters, banners and pamphlets) but also airborne and ground loudspeaker broadcasts from tapes and by returnees themselves, public rallies in which films and speakers would be used, and radio or word-of-mouth communications.

The 1965 Chieu Hoi monthly statistics thus provide a graphic picture of this increased JUSPAO effort. The upward trend in the second half of 1965 reflected not only the U.S. military buildup, upswing of Vietnamese morale and the series of GVN/US military successes but also concerted psychological exploitation of these favorable trends, an operation in which JUSPAO plays a primary role.

Chieu Hoi Returnees
January 406
February 467
March 489
April 532
May 1,015
June 1,089
July 688
August 1,571 (includes 898 KKK, Cambodian minority group)
September 1,068
October 1,211
November 1,482
December 1,106

During the second half of 1965, monthly returnee figures had consistently exceeded the 1,000 mark which was double that of any previous month since the program was launched in 1963. It might be noted also that although some 11,000 Viet Cong had defected to the govern [Page 271] ment side under the fresh impact of this new program in 1963, the total in 1964 was only half that number because of the unfavorable political and military factors. Reversing this trend, the 1965 total again exceeded 11,000 Viet Cong defectors.

Numerous anecdotal accounts of the Chieu Hoi program in action have been reported on other occasions, but perhaps a mention of a couple incidents in this context may serve to illustrate qualitatively the 1965 statistical trend.

In Vinh Long province last September, the JUSPAO Field Representative there developed a “returnee diary” project. This booklet gave pictorial evidence of good treatment of Chieu Hoi returnees by the GVN as well as details of the program such as weapon rewards and per diem payments. Copies were distributed to families known or suspected to have relatives in the Viet Cong. After these “diaries” were distributed in late September 1965, one of the recipients apparently visited her son attached to a VC unit in the neighboring district and using the booklet convinced him to turn himself in. Six days after distribution, he appeared at the Vinh Long Chieu Hoi Center with a safe conduct pass torn from the booklet. In November, two Viet Cong defecting with JUSPAO leaflets reported the VC in the area told them to crawl into holes or caves whenever government psywar aircraft appeared in the vicinity. In Tay Ninh Province, one returnee claimed that he rallied because of the drudgery of the task assigned him by his unit: he had to police his area for leaflets following every airdrop.

Perhaps the most concentrated effort was the multi-media Chieu Hoi campaign conducted countrywide in the two-week period prior to Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, in January 1966. In this GVN campaign with massive U.S. support, more than 130 million leaflets of 25 different types were airdropped in VC areas throughout South Viet-Nam. Additionally, 391 hours of airborne loudspeaker missions were flown, 150 hours of special radio programs were broadcast, ballads and films were specially written or adapted for the occasion, and articles and photos were carried by provincial newspapers. The results were dramatically demonstrated by the record-breaking numbers of Chieu Hoi returnees during the first quarter of this year:

Chieu Hoi Returnees
January 1,672
February 2,084
March 2,336

The April figure of 1,650 halted the upward trend. The political crisis in Hue-Danang4 and downswing in major military actions were [Page 272] in part responsible. The April figure is nevertheless higher than that of any single month in 1965. Because of the success of the “Tet Campaign,” a joint GVN/US Chieu Hoi psychological operation plan has been developed and issued, and a continuing effort will be made to maintain the momentum which, we hope, is being only temporarily interrupted by the current political crisis.

Strengthening the GVN Communication Infrastructure:

The increased JUSPAO media capabilities discussed above represents only a part of the total JUSPAO support to revolutionary development in South Viet-Nam. In the RD framework, JUSPAO has given fresh emphasis to those programs designed to strengthen the GVN capability and motivation to communicate with the Vietnamese people. To enable the government’s revolutionary objectives as well as progress in specific areas to be communicated to and be understood by the people, the GVN requires a viable media-infrastructure as well as a corps of cadres trained to be effective communicators. JUSPAO has made forward strides in both areas. To illustrate progress made, attention might be focused on radio and television.

The first significant break-through in the JUSPAO effort to convince the GVN of the need to strengthen Radio Viet-Nam (VTVN) was the decree signed by Premier Ky on September 30, 1965, restructuring VTVN as a semi-autonomous broadcasting corporation within the GVN. The decree was but the first step, but it did provide a framework for some badly-needed administrative and fiscal reforms. Changes in organization, personnel policy and pay scales have since gradually been put into effect. The autonomy aspect is solely from the GVN’s administrative regulations, since from the policy viewpoint, VTVN continues to be completely responsive to the Ministry of Information and Chieu Hoi. An overall reorganization plan reflecting all the changes was finally ready and scheduled for formal signature in late May, 1966.

In the fall of 1965, a technical radio survey preparatory to the completion of a National Radio Network was carried out by a VOA representative. At that time, it was estimated that VTVN broadcasting signals reached some 60 per cent of the population. Results of the survey show that if its recommendations were implemented, VTVN as a network could provide round-the-clock coverage for 95 per cent of the population. Approval of the project awaits GVN action.

JUSPAO has also carried out a series of eight-week training courses for Vietnamese Information Service (VIS) provincial technicians in the field of audio-visual equipment maintenance and repair. The course which got underway in March, 1966, was the fourth in this series. A major and coordinated radio training effort was a three-month program conducted by a VOA team of instructors. A class of 98 people selected [Page 273] from the VTVN and the Voice of Freedom Station studied radio programming and production as well as management and the operation of a national network. The course ended in May this year.

It is estimated that South Viet-Nam has a total of 500–600,000 radio receivers, each of which has considerable multiple-listenership potential. Radio communication therefore has an integral part to play as the government revolutionary development program is extended to all parts of the country. Studies have shown that radio is the prime news disseminator in South Viet-Nam.

Television is now at its infancy in South Viet-Nam, and it will grow and expand much more slowly than radio. But it, too, will play a vital role in revolutionary development for its programming goal is educational TV which will support the GVN’s social and economic construction tasks in rural areas.

The introduction and growth of TV broadcasting in South Viet-Nam were just short of phenomenal. Although exploratory discussion and planning were carried out as early as November, 1964, it was in the fall of 1965 that the project gained momentum. Approved in November, 1965, by February 7, 1966, television was on-air in the Saigon-Gia Dinh area, with the GVN and AFRTS sharing the U.S. Navy airborne transmitting facilities. The one-hour of daily Vietnamese program in the evening is followed by three hours of AFRTS telecast for the U.S. troops. For this initial airborne phase, the DOD provided transmission equipment, training of Vietnamese technicians and 500 TV receivers through MAP channels for the Vietnamese military. The AID is responsible for financing the construction of GVN ground stations, studio equipment and the import of an eventual total of 3,500 community viewing receivers. JUSPAO’s role is to assist and advise the GVN in programming and production of TV programs as well as in the management of the TV institution.

Today, over 650 community viewing receivers are operating at key locations in Saigon and surrounding provincial areas in Gia Dinh. TV therefore is supporting RD efforts in the Hop Tac area around Saigon. In May, for example, the second in a weekly series of 15-minute shows on the Chieu Hoi program was telecast by the GVN. Construction of Saigon ground transmission facilities and studio has already begun with a projected completion date of October 15, 1966.

Another ground station will be built in Cantho, for which a site has been selected. When it comes on the air on January 15, 1967, TV programs will provide support to the RD province of An Giang. The GVN’s third TV station will be in Qui Nhon (on-air target April 15, 1967), thus targeting another media resource to the priority RD province of Binh Dinh. The fourth will be in the Hue-Danang area.

An examination of progress in the above “sophisticated” media would not be complete without some attention given to the strengthen [Page 274] ing by JUSPAO of the more conventional and traditionally Vietnamese channels of communication in rural areas. Because daily newspapers are all published in Saigon and circulate mostly in urban centers, JUSPAO was instrumental in the project of developing newspapers for individual provinces which can be shaped into vehicles for the Province Chiefs to communicate with the people. By the end of August, 1965, the Ministry of Information had decided to provide regular budgetary support to 19 such provincial newspapers, all having been started, financed and nurtured by JUSPAO up to that time. By the end of September, 24 provincial newspapers were published in key provinces. In the effort to improve the quality of these products, JUSPAO then secured the Ministry’s agreement to a series of two-week training courses for writers and editors of these provincial papers. Before the year was out, the first course in this series was held. By concentrating on basic and practical techniques of journalism, the program enabled the trainees to put what they learned to work immediately. JUSPAO’s effort in shaping this basic communication tool paid handsome dividends when the revolutionary development program was launched. In RD provinces where provincial newspapers were going concerns, they were ready channels for RD information to flow to the peasants. In May, RD feature materials and photos developed by JUSPAO have been made a regular part of all 25 provincial newspapers. “News in Pictures” emphasizing RD, Chieu Hoi and American presence topics is a regular feature in these newspapers.

The popularity of South Vietnamese classical opera in rural areas is well known to JUSPAO. Traveling drama troupes performing in this medium, in modern songs and in skits, are thus an effective channel of communication in rural Viet-Nam. JUSPAO succeeded in December, 1965, in arranging for the transfer and consolidation of all U.S.-sponsored drama teams under a joint JUSPAOVIS management and direction. Through the centralized production of a monthly packet of songs and skits with policy themes built in, these traveling troupes combine political messages and entertainment in a traditional Vietnamese format.

A spot check shows that in April, 1966, seven of the drama troupes put on 161 shows in hamlets and villages, of which 91 were at night, to a total audience of 64,355 people (80 per cent of whom were peasants, 10 per cent students and 10 per cent military). The thrust of these programs was the Chieu Hoi theme. In May, the second issue of the Drama Troupe Magazine, also developed by JUSPAO, devoted the entire issue to RD. The material included the text of a RD play for use by all troupes countrywide.

JUSPAO Support to RD:

It is yet premature to render an overall assessment of the JUSPAO informational input since revolutionary development programs have [Page 275] been hampered directly or indirectly by unsettled political conditions since mid-April. One can, however, gain some impressions of the nature and scope of JUSPAO support by reviewing the highlights of various JUSPAO RD projects and activities since February.

To provide RD support, it should be noted that JUSPAO machinery did not need “re-tooling” so much as a series of gear-shiftings, namely: re-adjusting program priorities, shifting personnel assignments and allocating resources within the framework of an overall plan designed to exploit and intensify the social, economic, security and national unity aspects of Revolutionary Development. Such a plan has been drawn up in JUSPAO. The key concept in public affairs support of RD is not merely to tell the peasant what the GVN is doing for him, or to awaken a peasant gratitude for government favors granted. The program must aim higher than mere peasant cooperation motivated by opportunistic expectations of personal gain. The crux is motivation, and the GVN must motivate and educate the peasants to become responsible citizens, not merely of their villages but also of their District, their Province and the Nation. Development of responsible citizens is therefore the business of nation-building. To insure continuing and full supervision of public affairs programs in RD areas, about a quarter of the JUSPAO Field Representatives have been specifically deployed to RD provinces.

As early as February and in the aftermath of the Honolulu Conference,5 scattered psywar programs supporting the RD concept were begun by JUSPAO in South Viet-Nam. In the IV Corps, 6,000 JUSPAO-provided posters were used in public rallies organized to explain the new GVN revolutionary objectives. Vinh Binh Province conducted special seminars for civil servants and teachers. The Dinh Tuong Provincial Radio broadcast shows on the work of RD cadres. JUSPAO began planning a series of posters for nationwide use, designed to reinforce the effects of the work by RD teams, emphasizing personal identification of cadres and peasants and the role of each in achieving social revolution.

In March, considerable field activities in support of RD were noted in all Corps areas. In Binh Dinh, JUSPAO posters and periodicals were used by RD cadres in the newly established hamlet reading rooms and bulletin boards. In Binh Duong Province, photos were made of RD cadres working with hamlet peasants digging wells, and building dispensaries and schools for refugee children. JUSPAO worked with VIS to get these into media products for Binh Duong and adjacent areas. [Page 276] Kien Giang Province, for example, began feeding RD news for broadcast by Radio Saigon. The JUSPAO motion picture section researched and set up a list of 73 films supporting RD concepts and requested additional prints for mopix libraries in RD provinces. JUSPAO exhibits section began designing a display stand for printed exhibits. Among the printed materials distributed in March were 17 RD posters and plastic rice bags containing a psywar message. The III Corps in April utilized 50,000 of these plastic bags to redistribute to the peasants rice which the government captured from the VC.

A special series of 13 radio shows entitled “RD Today,” prepared in April, began broadcasting by VTVN in May. The first of five manuals which JUSPAO developed for RD cadre training at Vung Tau rolled off the presses last month. At the Vung Tau Center, the first graduation class of RD cadres was given multi-media coverage. Each of the graduates received from JUSPAO a 100-page “RD Diary,” which includes a cartoon history of Viet-Nam, 65 Questions and Answers relating to work in pacification, a set of cadre operating rules and 25 photos of effective RD work in hamlets. (This diary, incidentally, will be updated every three months so that future graduates will be apprised of the latest accomplishments.) The Vung Tau graduation called attention to third-country coverage, in which JUSPAO has played an increasingly significant facilitative role since July 1965. In May 1966, for example, RD interviews were arranged by JUSPAO for Israeli newsmen, Danish News Service, the London Economist, Die Presse Vienna, Venevision (from Caracus) and Turkish journalists. To supplement direct coverage by the large third-country press corps in-country, JUSPAO is sending regularly through USIA channels to 95 USIS posts a monthly packet of photos and features which stress heavily the U.S. non-military programs in South Viet-Nam. The May packet, for example, was devoted entirely to revolutionary development.

The theme of a 1967 Vietnamese calendar project (to be undertaken by MACV Polwar Directorate with JUSPAO advice and assistance) will be on revolutionary development. Barring unforeseen developments, that will also be the 1967 theme for JUSPAO programs in South Viet-Nam.

Leonard H. Marks6
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1963–1967, Entry UD WW 101, Field—Far East (Viet Nam) 1966, April, May, June 1966. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the memorandum.
  2. For further information about JUSPAO Field Representatives, see Document 54.
  3. For further information about “revolutionary development,” see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IV, Vietnam, 1966, Document 88.
  4. Reference is to the Buddhist Crisis; see footnote 2, Document 85.
  5. Reference is to the conference organized by the United States, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, February 5–8, where President Johnson met with Ky and Thieu, as well as his top military commander, Ambassador to Vietnam, Cabinet heads, and other officials. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IV, Vietnam, 1966, Documents 5890.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.