135. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (DePuy) to the Director of the Joint Staff (Goodpaster)1

SACSA M 355 67


  • Preliminary Report on Revolutionary Development (U)

1. This is the first of what will be a series of reports by SACSA on The Revolutionary Development Program in RVN. These reports will be of three kinds:

Weekly spot reports of significant RD matters.
Monthly summaries, evaluations, and progress reports.
Special reports on problem areas or subjects of high current interest including analysis and evaluation of selected aspects of the program.

2. General Status

In I Corps the RD program is clearly at a standstill and may be regressing. This is due to the diversion of USMC battalions to meet the Quang Tri and Thua Thien tactical threat by augmented NVA forces.
In II Corps limited progress continues in the coastal areas of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Binh Thuan.
In III Corps limited progress continues in Binh Duong, Hau Nghia, Tay Ninh, Gia Dinh and Phouc Tuy. The redeployment of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade may bring progress in Tay Ninh to a standstill.
In IV Crops a general stalemate continues but will give way somewhat as US Forces make their impact.
The Hamlet Evaluation System is in the process of shaking down. It is not possible to tell at this point whether changes reflected in the February report are real changes on the ground or refinements in reporting. It will be May, June or July before much confidence may be placed on the new report.2
The diversion of 53 ARVN battalions to the support of RD has taken place and as of 1 March 24 of these battalions had completed RD training. The initial effectiveness of these battalions will be modest. Shortcomings in junior combat leadership at company, platoon and squad level will continue to inhibit a high level of effective small unit patrolling on which RD security so heavily depends.
The RD Team Program is encountering increasing problems of recruiting, casualties, desertions and quality. In Binh Dinh combined military civil teams have been formed to perform the cadre function because of a shortage of Vung Tau trained teams. General Westmoreland believes these teams may prove to be equally effective.


3. The central problem is, has been, and will continue to be security.3 In those areas where a high level of security has been provided, [Page 322]the RD Program moves forward. Where the security situation is marginal or ambiguous, RD stands still, or regresses. Where security is not provided on a continuous basis, there is no RD.

The current concept in South Vietnam subscribed to both by South Vietnamese and US authorities in South Vietnam is to provide security for RD primarily with Vietnamese forces while US/Free World and certain other Vietnamese forces carry the fight to the VC/NVA outside the areas of RD emphasis. This is a desirable goal and all efforts should be continued to achieve it. However, it is a somewhat generalized view of the real-world problems on the ground in South Vietnam. It is necessary to go more deeply into the situation to evaluate its current status and prospects for success.
There are three groupings, or categories, of VC/NVA military forces which must be destroyed or neutralized if the war is to be won and the RD program is to go forward.
The inter-provincial (or regional) main force VC or NVA divisions, regiments and separate battalions will hereafter be described simply as Main Forces. These forces move throughout the VC military regions on offensive/defensive or reenforcement operations as directed. There are additional NVA divisions which operate on or near the DMZ, Laotian and Cambodian borders and sanctuaries which could almost be called intervention forces in that they enter South Vietnam to fight but generally maintain their supply, training and rest areas behind the boundaries.
There are intra-provincial forces—hereafter described as Provincial Forces consisting of one or more battalions and a number of district companies which move throughout a single province in much the same way as the regional forces move throughout groups of provinces. These provincial forces operate in conjunction with or in support of district village and hamlet guerrillas.
Lastly, at the foot of the scale are the village and hamlet guerrilla forces themselves.
The VC/NVA High Command regards this echelonment of military forces as interdependent, in that lower echelons may call upon higher echelons for assistance. Although the MACV reporting system does not distinguish between search and destroy operations targetted against the main forces and the provincial forces, a quick statistical analysis of operations over the last 5 months reveals that:

40–50% of the US and Free World Forces operations in I Corps were against provincial forces—40% in II Corps—50% in III Corps—and in IV Corps, where no US/Free World forces were operating, about 70% of the Vietnamese operations were against VC provincial forces.

It is of no particular importance to a commander on the ground whether he is fighting a main force or a provincial VC battalion if they are in or on the fringes of a populated area, and this is undoubtedly why no reporting distinction has been made. However, it is perfectly [Page 323]clear that progress in Revolutionary Development in large measure can be equated directly to the scope and pace of US/Free World Forces Operations against provincial VC forces contiguous to those areas in which Revolutionary Development activities are in progress. This is not a surprising phenomenon but it is an important one in assessing the prospects for RD progress and in calculating US/Free World Force requirements. The greatest RD progress up to November 1966 was made in Quang Nam Province where the III MAF mounted sustained offensive operations against VC provincial forces as well as main forces; in Binh Dinh Province where ROK Forces have done likewise; in Phu Yen because of operations of the 101st Airborne Brigade; in Binh Thuan Province because of the 1st Air Calvary; in Binh Duong because of the 1st Division; in Hau Nghia Province because of the 25th Division and in Tay Ninh Province because of the sustained operations of the II Field Force combat elements.
In those provinces in which Vietnamese forces have had the responsibility for both the security of RD cadre and for sustained offensive operations against VC provincial forces, progress has been very modest or non-existent. In those provinces where US/Free World forces have diminished or discontinued offense operations against VC provincial forces because of participation in long-term offensive operations against the VC/NVA main forces in the war zones and along the borders, there has been a marked adverse impact on Revolutionary Development.
The constantly changing reporting system and the long lag time in receiving those reports in Washington does not make it possible at this time to support these statements with accurate up-to-date statistics. However, reports which are available clearly illustrate the general accuracy of these conclusions. As the hamlet evaluation system takes hold, it should be possible to provide the necessary statistics.
The key questions are how much the Vietnamese military forces can be expected to accomplish and how large must be the contribution to provincial security by US/Free World Forces. Experience over the past year indicates clearly that the US/Free World contribution has been and must continue to be very large. It also indicates that Vietnamese armed forces can not be expected to do much more than provide security for population and political centers—provide security for RD Cadre on a continuing basis—and contribute certain general reserve forces to offensive operations against main VC forces. The lion’s share of offensive operations against the main forces will continue to be borne by US/Free World Forces. All forces (US/Free World and ARVN) will be involved in offensive operations against the provincial VC military elements; however, there will need to be a heavy (40% or more) and continuing US/Free World commitment to this effort.
Lastly, continued diversion of US/Free World Forces to the main force battle in the War Zones and along the border4 will inevitably result in bringing the RD program to a standstill unless they are replaced from out-of-country.

Civilian Programs

4. Concerning the non-military programs with a direct bearing on RD progress, all of which are under the supervision of the Office of Civil Operations (OCO) some observations on the police, the RD workers and the mobilization of US civilian resources in support of RD are in order.

The National Police is programmed to reach a strength of 90,000 during 1967, 111,000 in 1968, and 150,000 by 1970. With a current strength of 63,000 and the competition for Vietnamese manpower possessing the skills and aptitudes required, it remains doubtful that the programmed strengths will be attained. The Police Field Forces are programmed to expand from a current strength of 6,464 to 15,000 during 1967 and to 50,000 by 1970. Here again the problem of recruiting and training make the programmed strengths appear overly ambitious. Thus far the PFF have not performed well.
An associated problem is the matter of forming a Vietnamese Constabulary which Mr. Komer has indicated he will address as one of his first projects in his new capacity. MACV and OCO hold opposing views on how the constabulary should be brought into being. Under the OCO concept the constabulary would be formed under a civil ministry of the GVN and built around a nucleus of the Police Field Forces. Expansion of the constabulary would be accomplished by the transfer of Regional Force Units to it. The USAID Public Safety Division of OCO would be responsible for providing the requisite advisory and assistance effort. It is the position of MACV that although the constabulary should be established under a GVN civil agency by governmental decree, it should be integrated in the defense establishment during a state of war or national emergency. The constabulary should be an elite force recruiting filler personnel from all uniformed services. MACV does not consider that OCO is the appropriate executive agency to be charged with the overall advisory and assistance effort, nor that the Police Field Forces are a proper nucleus in view of the past and present record of performance. MACV has completed a detailed study on this matter embodying the above concept and based upon research conducted on constabularies established by other developing nations [Page 325]in the past. Requisite advisory and assistance effort would be provided by MACV. The study is now under review by CINCPAC, and copies have been furnished OCO for study.
The Revolutionary Development cadre, or teams as they are now called, are programmed to expand to a total of 50,000 by the end of 1967. At the present time there are 33,114 carried on the rolls including 4,706 who are trainees at Vung Tau. Although the annual training output should permit attainment of the 50,000 man goal, there are trends which cumulatively will probably cause a short-fall. First, there is the increasing attrition as a result of Viet Cong activity. Thus far a total of 405 RD workers have been killed, wounded or are missing during the period 1 January–31 March 1967. The bulk of the losses occurred in March. In addition, there have been sizeable losses resulting from desertions and AWOL—471 were dropped from the rolls during the first two months of 1967 for this reason. Of special importance, as evidenced by the increasing VC orientation on elimination of the RD workers, is the need to provide improved security for RD. Ambassador Koren, the OCO regional representative in I Corps, in reporting on the situation in Thua Thien and Hue city, sums up the problem in this way: “At [the] present rate of VC activity [the] current level of forces in my opinion is not adequate to provide desired protection. Unless this is beefed up I am afraid [the] RD effort will be significantly set back from the very promising start this year”.5 The expression of similar opinions may be anticipated in the future from areas uncovered by the redeployment of forces to meet NVA/VC Main Force threat in I CTZ.
On the US civil side there are personnel shortages in AID and CIA elements of the Office of Civil Operations (OCO) whose full time mission is the support of Revolutionary Development. OCO has developed a manning requirement for a total of 1,476 personnel for 1967. Currently 980 personnel are on hand. It can be expected that additional requests will be forthcoming for military personnel to fulfill the OCO requirement.


5. The major immediate problem impacting on the progress of Revolutionary Development has been and will continue to be that of providing adequate security. The necessity to divert forces to counter the NVA/VC main forces will reduce the US/FWMAF and RVNAF capability to provide the effort required to destroy the VC provincial, district and village level forces and guerrillas. It is highly doubtful that [Page 326]the ARVN forces committed to the direct support of RD can provide the level of security required to expand the program without the sustained presence of US/FW forces operating in contiguous areas. The major long range problem, assuming adequate security will be the quality, quantity and effectiveness of RD teams, public order and law enforcement (police and constabulary) and local administration. All of these programs will remain in varying forms of difficulty both physical and psychological as long as the security situation is marginal or unsatisfactory.

W.E. DePuy
Major General, USA
  1. Source: Department of Defense, Official Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 911/319 (18 Apr 67), IR 1090 67–13. Secret. Another copy is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXXI, Memos (A).
  2. Approved for use in December 1966, the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) was implemented in order to achieve a unified reporting system for the progress of pacification. Based upon the evaluations of district advisers, each hamlet was classified into one of six lettered categories, depending upon the degree of government control in each village. The system went into effect in July 1967. See Richard A. Hunt, Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnam’s Hearts and Minds (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 95–96.
  3. As the United States increasingly emphasized the RD programs, the VC targeted the RD teams in the field. According to a May 4 AID memorandum from Vincent Puritano to Kenneth Vogel of the Vietnam Affairs Office, 120 attacks on RD teams occurred during March, and the trend appeared to be upward, with a projected annual range of attacks of 1,500 to 3,000, with a maximum of number of 5,450 casualties as a result. A proposed solution was the creation of mobile RD teams. (Center for Military History, Dep CORDS/MACV papers, folder 100: RD Cadres: 1967) In a memorandum to the President, April 5, Komer described the security provided by the ARVN to the RD teams as “less than adequate.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Vol. LXIX)
  4. Reference is to Operations Junction City and Manhattan being conducted to clear the enemy from War Zone C.
  5. Brackets in the source text.