136. Memorandum From the Commander in Chief, Pacific (Felt) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Harkins)1

CINCPAC 3010. Ser. 00523


  • Civilian Irregular Defense Group Program in the Republic of Vietnam
Purpose. The purpose of this letter is to confirm agreements previously reached by providing a mission, tasks, and coordinating instructions for execution of U.S. Military responsibilities concerning the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Program and certain CAS activities in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN).
Background. On 23 July 1962, SecDef announced that the DOD would assume responsibility for certain activities in the RVN which had been developed under CAS auspices with U.S. military support. The JCS accordingly directed that training, operational assistance and logistical support responsibility for the essentially overt military and paramilitary elements, which had been developed in the RVN under CAS sponsorship, be taken over by COMUSMACV. This directive has been complied with. COMUSMACV has assumed responsibility for the CIDG program in RVN (nicknamed Operation Switchback).
The CIDG Program will be supported by the U.S. Armed Forces with due regard for certain sensitive matters involved including the basic CAS requirement to obtain covert intelligence. In handling political aspects, care will be taken to preserve the well-established U.S. relationships with GVN officials in Saigon and the provinces.
Upon agreement between CAS Saigon and COMUSMACV, additional elements of CAS activities in the RVN may be transferred to COMUSMACV with CINCPAC and Washington-level approval.
The CIDG Program will be undertaken in a spirit of mutual CAS-Defense cooperation and support. DOD funds, including special authorization to meet unusual requirements, will be made available for the CIDG Program upon submission of firm requirements. Whenever possible these requirements should be determined by COMUSMACV in coordination with the U.S. Ambassador, CAS Saigon, and the Government of Vietnam. Every effort should be made to integrate this program with existing programs supported by the joint efforts of all U.S. resources and those of the RVN. However the CIDG Program will be funded outside the Military Assistance Program in order that there will be no problem concerning transfer or withdrawal of any items required for it from the GVN and to assure flexibility of operations.
CIDG activities should be conducted and supported in such a manner that they are completely acceptable to the U.S. Ambassador and the GVN. In so doing, it should be made plain that although such activities have some hazard with respect to the loyalty of the nationals involved, this integration of all military and paramilitary activities into one coordinated effort should reduce the loyalty hazard, while increasing overall future effectiveness of the total RVN military capability and helping to integrate minority groups into the RVN.
Mission. The U.S. Armed Forces will assist RVN by providing training, advice, operational assistance, and logistical support to the CIDG and training assistance to certain CAS assets.
Concept. The basic U.S. objective in supporting the CIDG Program is to assist the RVN in developing a closely knit paramilitary capability by obtaining the support of certain ethnic groups whose loyalty is contested by the Viet Cong. The CIDG Program is an offensive against the Viet Cong designed to expand and recover both people and territory from VC domination, develop a sense of national loyalty among the participating ethnic groups, improve their morale and well being and by so doing counter communist insurgency. The CIDG personnel are recruited from, but not limited to, primitive tribes and minority groups in remote areas where there is little if any government presence or control and the sovereignty of the RVN is not fully recognized. They complement the operations of other RVN military [Page 332] and paramilitary forces under the National Campaign Plan by clearing, holding, and expanding specified area-development centers. U.S. personnel achieve the desired results in cooperation with GVN personnel by employing paramilitary, medical, economic, and psychological techniques in the process of motivating, arming, training, advising, supporting, and assisting these groups. When the GVN is able to assume full responsibility for the CIDG and success is assured, the U.S. personnel will be withdrawn. As the National Campaign progresses the CIDG are demobilized or absorbed into other paramilitary or military forces.
Provide training, advisory, and logistical support to the RVN for the conduct of the CIDG Program.
Provide training assistance to certain CAS-supported forces.
Assist the GVN in psychological operations and civic action in support of the CIDG.
Assist CAS to develop assets for execution of U.S. and SEATO war and contingency plans when so requested.
Assist the GVN to provide for security of bases, supplies, and activities for the CIDG.
Control initial issue and eventual recovery of weapons, munitions, and equipment from CIDG personnel as they are phased out and absorbed in other activities or demobilized in accordance with the National Campaign Plan.
Pass responsibility for CIDG guidance and support to appropriate RVN commanders when GVN is capable of assuming effective control.
Provide a monthly status report to CINCPAC and other appropriate commands to include organization, equipment, training, operations, and requirements of the CIDG Program.


Support COMUSMACV as directed and required for these operations.

Coordinating Instructions.
The U.S. Armed Forces involved in the program will remain under U.S. military control but will be responsive to GVN and CAS requirements as directed by COMUSMACV.
Phasing of the CIDG Program will be in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan South Vietnam (CPSVN).
COMUSMACV will coordinate with the CAS Saigon on requirements for mutual support. CAS representation with GVN officials may be used.
COMUSMACV is authorized to communicate directly with the GVN and CINCPAC Component Commanders with information copy to CINCPAC on matters concerning the CIDG Program.
Administration and Logistics.
The CIDG Program will be administered outside of the MAP, with special procedures as authorized by the Secretary of Defense through the Department of the Army.
CAS will continue to provide fiscal assistance to the Department of the Army during FY 63. Thereafter this assistance will continue until the DC) D has secured authority for special disbursements.
COMUSMACV will submit detailed budget estimates for FY 64 and subsequent years to CINCUSARPAC for processing through DA channels with two copies to CINCPAC. CINCUSARPAC will obtain CINCPAC approval prior to submission to DA.
CINCUSARPAC is responsible for providing personnel, units, funds, and logistical support for the CIDG Program.
COMUSMACV will refer to CINCPAC for approval GVN and CAS requests for support which have not had prior overall policy approve.
Report Symbol. CINCPAC Reports Control Symbol 3300ÿ095 is assigned to the reports required by this letter.
H. D. Felt
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 334, MAC/V Files: FRC 69 A 702, 201-42.1 (63). Secret. Copies were also sent to COMUSARPAC, CINCPACFLT, CINCPACAF, JCS, CSA, CNO, CSAF, and DODPRO.