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315. National Security Decision Memorandum 631

TO

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, U.S. Information Agency
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

SUBJECT

  • Psychological Warfare Operations Against the Vietnamese Communists

The President has directed that a committee be formed to provide direction for and coordination of psychological warfare against the Vietnamese Communists.

The committee is to be chaired by a senior representative of the U.S. Information Agency, to be appointed by the Director of USIA. It will bear the designation Ad Hoc PSYOP Committee and will report to the NSC Ad Hoc Group on Vietnam. Members of the committee will be representatives of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, [Page 1030]the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Assistant to the President for National Security. The recommendations of the Ad Hoc PSYOP Committee will be executed by the respective agencies represented on the committee in accordance with existing responsibilities, missions and procedures of the several agencies. This committee will perform the following functions:

  • —Develop a National Psychological Warfare strategy directed against the Vietnamese Communists, including psychological objectives to be accomplished.
  • —Coordinate the overall psychological warfare effort against the Vietnamese Communists.
  • —Provide thematic guidance.
  • —Prepare periodic reports to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs on our psychological warfare operations against the Vietnamese Communists.
  • —Assess the anticipated psychological impact of Vietnam related policy options as appropriate.

Decisions relating to a psychological warfare strategy, as well as other decisions covering major issues in the conduct of our psychological warfare against the Vietnamese Communists, should be referred to the President for approval.2

The responsibility for coordination and policy guidance for all psychological and informational programs in South Vietnam remains with the Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, Saigon, under the direction of the U.S. Ambassador and Mission Council.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, NSDM 51–96. Top Secret; Sensitive. On March 17 Sullivan, as chairman of the Ad Hoc Group on Vietnam, sent Kissinger a memorandum proposing an organization for more effective coordination of psychological operations against Vietnamese Communists. (Ibid., RG 59, S/S–Ex Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 63)
  2. On June 17 Sullivan sent Kissinger a memorandum with an attached paper that listed objectives and set out the themes and ground rules established by the Ad Hoc PSYOPs Committee created by NSDM 63. This paper was approved by the Ad Hoc Committee on Vietnam. In a July 6 memorandum to Kissinger analyzing the paper, Holdridge suggested that the objectives were “fairly traditional”: persuading the leadership to change its policies; increasing internal tensions, doubts, and policies; and motivating the Vietnamese people to question the wisdom of the North Vietnamese Government. Holdridge then listed the proposed targets: the top Party leadership, the Party apparatus, the North Vietnamese people, and Communist forces in the north and south. The themes developed for each target were designed to convince them that the war could not be won and policies must be changed, to increase war weariness and discouragement among troops and the population, and to cause resentment and tension between northerners and southerners. Kissinger approved the paper on July 14. (Memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, July 6, attaching a memorandum from Sullivan to Kissinger June 17 and a paper prepared by the Ad Hoc PSYOP Committee submitted to Sullivan on June 12; ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM 63)