48. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Coordination, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Trueheart) to the Director of Intelligence and Research (Hughes)1

SUBJECT

  • Covert Diversionary Operations in North Vietnam

The Special Operations Group is now conducting a number of diversionary operations against North Vietnam and additional operations are under consideration. Objectives of the operations are to divert North Vietnamese military, security, and intelligence resources and to create opportunities for psychological exploitation by making the North Vietnamese regime and people believe that there is much more agent activity in the North than in fact exists.

National Teams.

Eighteen notional teams have been created by message traffic since September 1967. Four additional teams are planned by January 1969. Directives and family messages are sent to the teams by one way voice link or, on occasion, poorly concealed in black and white radio Sacred [Page 127]Sword Patriotic League broadcasts. Resupply is carried out in the same manner as with actual teams. The addition of new personnel to the teams is suggested by parachuting ice blocks into tree tops. The ice melts, leaving a parachute and harness. Occasionally a “pseudo agent,” i.e. a North Vietnamese soldier who wants badly to get back to North Vietnam is recruited from among North Vietnamese army prisoners and trained a few days. He is dropped as a “reinforcement” to a notional team. Traveling in the aircraft with him are Vietnamese he assumes to be reinforcements for other teams. The fact that actual in-place teams have been captured or “doubled” by the North Vietnamese probably gives an aura of credibility to these notional operations.

Use of Ralliers and Prisoners.

While ralliers and prisoners are recruited in the hope that some will be useful intelligence agents, it is recognized that others will reveal their assigned mission as soon as they are returned to Viet Minh controlled area or to North Vietnam. Prisoners who are judged to be suitable are collected from detention facilities as soon as possible after capture and indoctrinated on South Vietnamese prosperity and freedom for two weeks. They are then given one week of agent training and infiltrated into Viet Minh controlled territory in South Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia, or into North Vietnam.2 They are charged with collecting intelligence and inducing defection. Those who prove unsuitable during the orientation or training periods are returned to regular detention facilities to spread purposely revealed false project information to other detainees for eventual transmission to North Vietnamese intelligence analysts.

Redemption Coupons.

Leaflets containing a coupon redeemable for cash after hostilities are over are distributed in North Vietnam through returned junk captives, pinpoint air drops or Strata teams. The leaflet thanks the bearer for supporting the Sacred Sword Patriotic League, a notional movement which purportedly operates both the black and white radios beamed to North Vietnam.

Incrimination of NVN Officials.

Although not yet begun, an SOG plan exists to divert North Vietnamese security agency efforts to the detection and interrogation of North Vietnamese officials suspected of traffic with the South. Letters with easily detected secret writing and messages which can be deciphered easily will be sent to selected North Vietnamese officials. [Page 128]Uncooperative junk captives will be put ashore far from home with secret messages concealed in their newly provided clothing.

Rube Goldberg Devices.

Another nascent plan involves the air-dropping of obsolete beacons, weather sensors, electronic devices made of unrelated parts soldered together, apparent agent equipment, empty crates with appropriate markings, etc. It is expected that North Vietnamese intelligence agencies will soon conclude that these devices are decoys but will feel that they cannot be ignored.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, East Asia Country Files, Vietnam 1968. Top Secret. Drafted by Richard K. Stuart of INR/DDC.
  2. In an undated memorandum to Trueheart, Stuart discussed plans by the Special Operations Group to infiltrate defectors into the North Vietnamese city of Vinh to obtain information on NVA bases, equipment, and personnel operating there. (Ibid.)