199. Memorandum From the Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development (Komer) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)1

I’ve been pressing a new concept for attack on infrastructure in hopes of selling it before our visitors arrive. It is based on a long background of my own study and analysis back in Washington. CORDS, J–2, and OSA have reviewed it and buy the concept, though many personnel and other details will have to be worked out.

The concept is frankly experimental, but it costs us little to experiment. We have no place to go but up. It is essentially a management structure extending right down to district level. Added personnel needs will be minimal at the outset, and probably available in theater.

The new organization gives OSA a key managerial role, but with full J–2 participation at all levels. I think this sound, because anti-

infrastructure intelligence and operations are primarily a police-type matter, and OSA has extensive expertise. Also, I envisage PRU and NPFF as chief exploitation arms. Thus, on the principle of choosing the best “project manager,” I chose OSA. But at each level the operation will come under the relevant commander.

There is some concern lest we be setting up two intelligence chains, one for tactical intelligence and another for anti-infrastructure. However, I strongly favor this from a management viewpoint, because the necessary and vital concentration of military intelligence assets (ARVN and US) on tactical needs has partly been at the expense of anti-infrastructure. Moreover, the duplication is so minimal as to be inconsequential.

I intend to personally monitor and if necessary manage this experiment. But I don’t want to start till I’m sure I’m on all fours with you.

R.W. Komer2
[Page 504]

Attachment

Memorandum From the Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development (Komer) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)

SUBJECT

  • Organization for Attack on VC Infrastructure
1.
Purpose: To outline an improved organization for attack on VC infrastructure.
2.
Discussion:
a.
AB–142, the Combined Campaign Plan, highlights destruction of the VC infrastructure as a necessary component of revolutionary development.
b.
MRD and supporting US documents describing concepts for revolutionary development also focus on destruction of the VC infrastructure as a basic task.
c.
RD teams are instructed to “root out the VC infrastructure”.
d.
You have recently emphasized, on several occasions, the need for a better approach to this key problem area.
e.
Nevertheless, an integrated, organized attack on the VC infrastructure has not been mounted countrywide.
f.
In contrast to the greatly improved tactical intelligence which has materially aided anti-main force operations, results against the infrastructure leave much to be desired. CT 4, organized as part of Operation Fairfax, has pulled together at a high level and for a limited area most of the anti-infrastructure intelligence organizations. But overall results against the infrastructure—considering the length of the operation and size of the troop commitment—have been limited.
g.
Attack on the infrastructure is not strictly an intelligence problem, but must include exploitation as well. While many units and agencies—US and GVN—are at least partially involved in the attack on infrastructure, there is as yet only piecemeal coordination particularly at the local level. For example, there are only a few District Operational Intelligence Coordination Centers—modeled on the Dien Ban experiment. Nor is there adequate tie-in between intelligence gathering and exploitation.
h.
Because rooting out the infrastructure is an essential element of the pacification process, I propose to make it part of Project Takeoff [Page 505]and to monitor it personally. In my judgment, attack on the infrastructure is—in both its intelligence and exploitation aspects—primarily a police-type measure (see Annex 5 of basic study).3 The GVN agency with the greatest intelligence capability in this field seems to be the NP Special Branch, supported by OSA, and the exploitation assets best suited in the PRV and later a revamped NPFF.
i.
Therefore, I had CIA in Washington do a study for me on how to mount a more effective attack on VC infrastructure, especially at the critical district and province levels. I have since personally revised the study with CORDS and OSA help. It is at Tab E.
j.
A sustained, effective attack on VC infrastructure requires primarily better management of already substantial GVN/US resources, i.e. pulling together the multiplicity of US and GVN agencies already partly in the business. It must be a combined civil/military effort, primarily GVN in character, but with US civil/military assets in an energizing and advisory role. With the Mission reorganization, such joint US action is now more feasible than before.
k.
What is chiefly needed is: (1) a joint management structure extending from Saigon down to district—first on a “US-only” basis and then with full GVN participation; (2) a “program manager” at each level to insure coordinated action; (3) use of MACV’s excellent ADP system to provide up-to-date target lists to the provinces and districts and to monitor performance; (4) machinery to assign these targets to appropriate exploitation assets at each field level. The organizational concept proposed to meet these requirements conforms to the new CORDS structure at each level and to the new integrated chain of command (Tab A). It is essentially a unified management structure targeted specifically on infrastructure, but building on existing assets and organizations.
l.
While the agencies and personnel concerned must be predominantly Vietnamese, US personnel must play the vital catalytic role. Experience has shown that a small number of US “advisors” in key positions can energize much larger GVN operations. By using existing OSA and MI personnel, added US personnel requirements can be held to a bare minimum of around 164, most of whom are probably available in theater (Tab B).
m.
The operational concept at the cutting edge is analogous to a “rifle shot” rather than a “shotgun” approach. Instead of cordon and search operations, it will stress quick reaction operations aimed at individual cadre or at most small groups. Cutting off the heads of the infrastructure at local levels will tend to degrade the whole structure. A [Page 506]three-phase plan for putting the above concepts into operation is essential. First concept approval should be obtained. Next the US side should be developed. Then the plan should be presented to the appropriate GVN agencies (Tab C).
o.
MACV Staff concurs in importance of revitalized attack on the infrastructure and in the general concept outlined herein, though it requests more detailed study of the modest added personnel required (164 in all—most of whom I believe are already programmed or could be reprogrammed from in-country resources) and of the intermediate level ICEX organization.
3.

Conclusions:

a.
As Deputy for CORDS I approve this concept in substance, but wish to see if you have any objections.
b.
Provided you see none, I will convene the proposed Saigon-level ICEX Committee, under my chairmanship, to review and submit firm requirements for personnel, intermediate structure, and time-phased plans for implementation.
c.
I further propose to inform Ambassador Bunker by letter of the action taken. I do not believe that we need his formal concurrence, though I am confident he will have no objection.

R.W. Komer4
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Colby Files, Job 80–M01009A, Vietnam Phoenix/Pacification. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  3. Tabs A–E and Annexes 1–5 are attached but not printed.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.