130. Telegram From the Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Viet-Nam (McGarr) to the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt)1

MAGAG-CH 1473. 1. This dispatch reports mounting indications of significant increase in Viet Cong capabilities as evidenced by recent Viet Cong actions predominately in but not limited to Second Corps area and along Laos/Cambodian border and Central Plateau area. Indications strengthened by knowledge enemy now possesses virtual unrestricted access routes from North Viet-Nam through Southern Laos into highlands of South Viet-Nam where due to rugged terrain present RVNAF military posture limited in capability to effectively prevent or even detect infiltration of troops, arms and supplies in apparently increasing amounts.

2. Recent reports, though not confirmed and reliability undetermined cannot be completely discounted, indicate sizeable concentrations [Page 297] of Viet Minh (Viet Cong) forces Southern Laos Vic SVN border. These include six Viet Cong battalions Attopeu area reported by RVNAF source, three to five Viet Minh (Viet Cong) battalions estimated at three thousand reported by MAAG Laos and CAS, Saigon through FAL sources as proceeding south from Tchepone area late July to Vic (YC 3218), RVNAF J2 order battle locates two Viet Cong battalions in Salient Vic (YC 4070), recent ARVN air recon reported new Viet Cong battalion in SVN Vic (YC 4924) in addition to many houses, guard towers, personnel activity in large area north and south Vic (YC 2580), and very recent RVNAF J2 report of C 4 evaluation described recent movement of ten thousand man force from northwest to Vic (YC 4317). RVNAF discounts size this force as does MAAG. Realized buildup taking place along Laos border but no indication force of that size at present.

3. Concurrent with indicated buildup Viet Minh (Viet Cong) forces South Laos, Viet Cong activity Second Corps area has recently increased in force size and frequency, and actions are more aggressive, better organized and directed against stronger civil guard installations and larger ARVN forces. Viet Cong units in recent actions this area are much better equipped than previously reported, armed with large percentage of submachine guns in addition to machine guns, automatic rifles, and mortars. Reliable RVNAF source states recent ARVN operation northwest of Ban Me Thuot clashed with regular Vietnamese Viet Cong company moving south from North Viet-Nam (credibility this report strengthened by fact that no reported Montagnards accompanied VC Company. Previous reports invariably describe large percentage of Montagnards accompanying company size force or larger). Same source reported that elements of a PAVN Division have already infiltrated war zone “D” northwest of Saigon, however unable to confirm at present.

4. July, August increase in size and aggressiveness of Viet Cong actions Second Corps culminated in three battalion (estimated one thousand) Viet Cong force attack against defense posts and reinforcing ARVN units north of Kontum on one and two September. RVNAF J2 after action reports states one Viet Cong battalion new to area and apparently came from across border. Subsequent to this action a rash of attacks have taken place in the plateau area to include overrunning of civil guard post at (YB 8040) on five September, attack against self defense corps post on hwy 19 near An Khe on six September, three separate platoon size attacks against ARVN forces in border area west of Hue on seven September, and overrunning of platoon at ARVN outpost northeast of Kontum (AS 9601) on nine September. Concurrent with these actions RVNAF J2 reports increased Viet Cong interdiction (road sabotage and harassing fire) of hwys 7, 14 and 19 in area with obvious objective of hindering [Page 298] timely ARVN reinforcement against Viet Cong actions in plateau region.

5. MAAG Viet-Nam concludes that: An enemy controlled Southern Laos and porous GVN border in the North is permitting an accelerated infiltration of Viet Minh (Viet Cong) units, arms and other supplies and equipment of significantly greater proportions into South Vietnam; this infiltration is directly contributing to an apparent strengthening and expansion of Viet Cong secure areas in support of increased political subversive activity throughout the country under the North Viet-Nam controlled and directed national front for the liberation of South Vietnam. Given the present rate of Viet Cong military, economic and political growth, greatly assisted by infiltration support capability, out of country and in country indications exist pointing to a possible widespread increase in all forms of subversive activity this fall as the Viet Cong attempt to move into their final phase program of overthrowing the present government. While we not unduly apprehensive at present felt you should be advised this degree increased activity plateau area over short period time as this activity could be accompanied by possible larger scale Viet Cong military operations end rainy season.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Viet-Nam Country Series, Secret; Priority. Repeated to JCS, JACE AJCC, CINCUSARPAC, and ASCI DA.