113. Decree by the President of the Republic of Vietnam1
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PLAN TO RESTORE SECURITY IN THE THIRD TACTICAL ZONE
Within the framework of national pacification, a priority plan is herewith established to restore security in the Third Tactical Zone. The purpose of this Special Instruction is to determine the basic principles and necessary procedures to carry out the plan. This Instruction is divided into two parts:
- General Section
- Execution of the Plan
Article 2. Over-all Concepts.
The Viet Cong have chosen rural areas for their important activities. They have oppressed the spirit of the people in order to destroy the lower echelons of government authority, exploited news, sources of supply, manpower, and resources in order to build up their strength in their destructive war. The reliance of the Viet Cong on rural people is obvious.
Cut each connecting link between the Viet Cong and the people, and the Viet Cong will naturally be isolated and easily crushed. As for the people, once they are able to escape the coercion of the Viet Cong, their protection will become more effective. Security and the National [Page 239]Law will be guaranteed, and the Governmentʼs authority will be strengthened in every village and hamlet. Order will be restored, the people will believe firmly in the government, and will honestly cooperate with the authorities to eradicate Communism.
The Plan to Restore Security in the Third Tactical Zone aims at the vital objective of eliminating Viet Cong influence among rural people.
Article 3. Objectives of the Plan.
In order to achieve this vital purpose, the Plan aims at the realization of the following objectives:
- Control, protect, and fight for the people, most of all rural people;
- Gather all information essential to destroy the organs the Viet Cong have placed among the people;
- Isolate armed Viet Cong elements to force them away from the peopleʼs side;
- Establish and maintain “White” zones, i.e., zones where Viet Cong influence has been completely eliminated.
Article 4. Priority Areas.
The national resources at present are not sufficient to carry out the plan at once in all areas of the country, or to provide all the means.
For this reason, in the initial period the following areas have been chosen as first priority because they are densely populated, have centralized administrative organs, a prosperous economy, and are relatively secure:
- All of Vinh Long province;
- Vinh Binh province (except the southeastern portion: Tra Cu, Cau Ngang, and Long Toan districts);
- Kien Hoa province (except the southeastern portion: Thanh Phu, Ba Tri, Binh Dai districts);
- Dinh Tuong province (except for the portion north of the road from the My Thuan ferry to Cai Lay, along the Thuong Mai canal to Thu Thua);
- Long An province (except for the portion west of Thu Thua, along the Vam Co river north of Duc Hoa to the Part between the Vam Co river and the road from Duc Hoa to Tay Ninh);
- Tay Ninh province (the part south of Go Dau Ha and east of the Vam Co river);
- Binh Duong Province (except the part north of Ben Cat);
- Phuoc Thanh province (that part west of Interprovincial Route 15 from Phu Giao to Tan Uyen);
- Bien Hoa province (that part south from Ho Nai to Long Thanh along National Route 15, except for Quang Xuyen and Cao Gio districts);
- Phuoc Tuy province (that part west of National Route 15 from Bien Hoa to Phuoc Le, then along Interprovincial Route 23 to Xuyen Moc).
Priorities for remaining areas in the provinces of the Southern Region of Viet-Nam will be determined later, according to the progress of the plan.
Execution of the Plan
Article 5. Establishment of a Security System.
In the area granted priority, the Plan will establish a firm security system, composed of strategic hamlets and fighting hamlets. Strategic hamlets will be built in places where popular security is adequate. Fighting hamlets will be built in areas that still suffer Viet Cong pressure and control, or in areas permanently threatened by important Viet Cong troops.
The security system must be built on a stable foundation and in depth, in order that the strategic and fighting hamlets support one another. For this reason, isolated hamlets or groups of hamlets which the enemy could exploit or which would be unprotected close to the frontier will not be established.
On the provincial level, the Province Chief must put forth a plan for building a system of strategic and fighting hamlets. Only in this situation may isolated hamlets be built during the brief wading period unh1 intermediate hamlets are constructed to complete the connected system.
On the interprovincial level, the Province Chiefs must coordinate the plan for building a security system in their own provinces with that of neighboring provinces, in order that the interprovincial security system is not left uncovered in border areas
Article 6. Defense of the Security System.
During the period in which the security system is being built, the Army shall carry out operations to prevent Viet Cong units from being free to interfere in the execution of the Plan. Intelligence and information agencies shall make every effort to assure that the Plan obtains satisfactory results.
In the defense of the hamlets the large part of the work will be given to the Self Defense Corps, with the Republican Youth contributing strength within the framework of the SDC organization. The Civil Guard will have responsibility for providing close mobile support. However, during the period when fighting hamlets are being built in areas heavily infiltrated by the Viet Cong, the Civil Guard may be temporarily used to replace the SDC in the direct defense of hamlets, unti1 such time as reliable and capable SDC units can be raised.[Page 241]
The Army shall be ready to intervene when the hamlets are heavily attacked by the Viet Cong.
Article 7. Control of the Security System.
Control of the population in the security system must be complete, to cut off any source of contact with the Viet Cong. Therefore, a number of control measures must be taken, to wit:
- Urgent distribution of plastic identity cards to the entire population in the area where the security system is being established. The inhabitants of each house will be recorded and photographed’ a copy going to each house along with the identity card number. Copies will also go to the district and province headquarters.
- Establishment of regular control points along inland waterways, and conduct of surprise patrols in neighboring areas.
- Enforcement of curfew orders on a few waterways in the area of fighting hamlets and other areas, if necessary. Defense forces may fire at sight on anyone breaking the curfew.
- Establish forbidden zones in dense, jungle, and marshy regions, etc. . . . .2 Permit defense forces to fire at sight on any element penetrating this area.
- Control of the transportation of paddy, foodstuffs, and articles of a military nature. If it is deemed necessary, transportation by convoy will be enforced, and after the harvest rice will be bought by the Government and collected in a secure place, and will be rationed to consumers.
Article 8. The Fight for the People in the Security System.
In order to fight for the support of the people, the following concrete policy must be carried out:
- Military and Government cadres must have correct behavior when communicating daily with the people and in every situation. Punitive measures against a village or hamlet will never be taken without the approval of the National Security Council, even if they are legitimate. Great care must be exercised when using bombers or artillery in populated areas, to avoid injuring or killing law-abiding citizens.
- The people must be kept thoroughly informed about the details and purpose of the control measures which they must follow. Once order and security in the area have been re-established, control measures must immediately be eased. In the event that people must be moved to regrouped hamlets, they must also be given every assistance, and at the same time should be informed of the benefits they will receive as a result of the Plan.
- According to the progress made, when a security system has been firmly consolidated and Viet Cong influence has been eliminated in a part of the area, activities on the social and economic side must be begun immediately to improve the life of the people.
Article 9. Distribution of Duties.
The tasks of the civil and military authorities in the execution of the Plan are distributed as follows:
- —build strategic and fighting hamlets;
- —organize administration in the villages and hamlets;
- —provide control measures;
- —effect social and economic reforms. Emphasize especially agricultural, health, and education, and public facilities.
- Self Defense Corps
- —direct protection of strategic and fighting hamlets;
- —patrol in neighboring areas;
- —gather information leading to Viet Cong organs, communications, or supplies;
- —eliminate armed Viet Cong cadres or arrest elements working for them;
- —distribute leaflets, information, and propaganda documents.
- Civil Guard
- —mobile patrolling outside the hamlet, particularly along the perimeter of populated areas and along rivers and canals;
- —rescue SDC forts that are attacked
- —take over the defense of fighting hamlets in places where SDC are lacking or not adequate;
- —enforce the control regulations stated above.
- —in the initial period, carry out sweeping and probing actions and attacks on bases and assembly areas of main Viet Cong forces;
- —patrol outside populated areas, and prevent coordinated attacks and concentrations of the enemy;
- —assist fighting hamlets in areas controlled by the Viet Cong, intervene it these hamlets are surrounded;
- —apply control measures, particularly the curfew and forbidden zones.
As the security system is gradually stabilized, regular army units will be relieved of their static duties.
Ranger units will be withdrawn on a priority basis from populated areas when Civil Guard units arrive to replace them. Army units that must remain will be reorganized for long operations outside of populated areas, primarily in the enemy zone in the Thirty-First Tactical Zone.
- Air Force
- —reinforce the mobile attack capability of regular Army and Civil Guard units, by airlift in areas where communications are difficult or nonexistent;
- —perform reconnaissance and communications;
- —seek targets to attack;
- —evacuate wounded, military and civilian.
- —prevent the Viet Cong from infiltrating equipment, food, arms, and personnel by sea;
- —coordinate closely with Civil Guard river patrol units to prevent Viet Cong movement by water along the sea coast and river estuaries;
- —supply the means of rapid transportation of personnel and equipment in coastal areas;
- —support operations in coastal areas and along the major channels of the Mekong.
Article 10. Responsibility for Executing the Plan.
The Secretary of State at the Presidency, Assistant for National Defense, Charged with Security, shall accept responsibility before the President for the general execution of the Plan.
As for the Strategic Hamlet Program, the Secretary of State for the Interior is the Secretary General of the Central Committee, still responsible for the over-all plan.
Article 11. Special Stipulations.
The Viet Cong will naturally react strongly to prevent the execution of the Plan, and will concentrate all their force to seek to destroy the Governmentʼs efforts, despite some failure at the beginning.
Thus, when establishing the security system, the provincial authorities must examine the situation carefully and select the proper time to execute the Plan, i.e., when there are sufficient troops to halt every destructive Communist plot, or encourage the population to oppose the enemy. The more the security system is strengthened, the more will the Viet Cong seek to attack in strength, and at that time the Army will be ready to exterminate the enemy when he concentrates or attacks fighting hamlets.
Finally, the determination of priority zones for establishing a security system does not mean that the Viet Cong are free to control other areas. such as the First or Second Tactical Zone. On the contrary, [Page 244]in these Zones civil and military authorities as well as popular anti-Communist organizations must be warned to face the enemy reaction in timely fashion.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.5/4-1662. Secret. Transmitted as enclosure 1 to despatch 431 from Saigon, April 16, which described some of the changes made in the Delta Plan from the time Thompson originally submitted it until its final approval by Diem. For original plan, see Document 51. Also enclosed with the despatch was a decree of March 23 that appointed Hoang Van Lac as Special Commissioner responsible for carrying out the Delta Plan.↩
- Ellipsis in the source text.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩