154. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State 1

15327. Subj: Viet-Nam Weekly Ceasefire Assessment, Dec 4–10, 1974.

Part I—Summary

A.
There was a quantum jump in fighting this week, resulting in the highest incident level of the year countrywide. The large increase was centered in MR–4, which registered its highest incident level since [Page 579]the ceasefire and a jump of more than 450 percent over last week, and in MR–3, up over 275 percent from a week ago. As a function of the heavier fighting, GVN casualties more than doubled, and NVA/VC killed almost quadrupled. It is worth noting that our reports from the Delta indicate that GVN forces have conducted themselves more effectively in the face of this highest level of activity this year than when coping with the high level of activity last July during the NVA/VC summer offensive. Fighting remained at a moderate pace in MR–1, but the intensity was higher in MR–2.
B.
In MR–1, GVN forces increased their efforts, still without success, to retake Mo Tau Mountain and the Nui Bong Hill. Otherwise north of the Hai Van Pass the fighting continued to be centered in the area south and southeast of Hue. A VC effort December 5 to destroy the Trinh Minh The bridge just outside of Da Nang was thwarted.
C.
The biggest battles in MR–2 were again in Binh Dinh Province and again related to the high ground commanding the An Lao valley. The fighting was intense and centered west of Bong Son City, with GVN forces continuing to repulse NVA/VC attacks. In another significant Binh Dinh fight, RF forces retook important positions northwest of Binh Khe December 7. The Kontum/Pleiku area was again relatively quiet except for some increase in the fighting in the Thanh An area southwest of Pleiku City.
D.
Action was markedly higher throughout MR–3, but particularly so in Tay Ninh Province. The incident level in the region was the fourth highest since the ceasefire, with December 6 registering the highest number of incidents for one day since the ceasefire. The main action in Tay Ninh consisted of strong NVA/VC assaults northeast of Tay Ninh City. The territorial force defenders withstood the heavy onslaught well, and inflicted heavy casualties on the NVA/VC forces. The upsurge in activity has resulted in something around 10,000 new refugees in Tay Ninh. There was moderate sapper activity in the area around Saigon, and a Communist push in the Hoai Duc rice bowl area of Binh Tuy Province.
E.
The great increase in fighting in the Delta occurred mainly in the southern and central portions, although there was a fair increase in the northern Delta towards the end of the period. Vinh Binh and Vinh Long Provinces in the central Delta, and Chuong Thien in the south, were the hardest hit. Elements of the 5th NVA Division moved into Kien Tuong Province in the north from across the border in Cambodia, reinforcing earlier MR–4 staff judgments that the Communist tactic might be to create a flurry of activity in the central and southern Delta as a diversion to enable the 5th Division to mount attacks in the north.

[Omitted here is detailed discussion of the military situation.]

Lehmann
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential. Repeated to Bangkok, Bien Hoa, Can Tho, Danang, Paris, USDel JEC Paris, USIA Washington, Jakarta, Nha Trang, CINCPAC, CINCPACFLT, CINCPACAF, CG FMFPAC, CDR USSAG, CINCUSARPAC, USDAO Saigon, USDel FPJMT, Tokyo, Budapest, Canberra, London, Phnom Penh, Tehran, Vientiane, Warsaw, Wellington, and Beijing.