Combat Intelligence

Our combat units made contact with the enemy and evacuated prisoners, documents, and material. The combined centers furnished ever increasingly timely, accurate, and adequate intelligence. By concentrating on the eight order of battle factors, enemy capabilities and vulnerabilities were so accurately identified that the incidence of successfully determining his plans was surprisingly high. However, this war presented some rather unusual demands. One concerned political order of battle intelligence-more specifically, intelligence on the Viet Cong infrastructure. Because North Vietnamese forces were involved in South Vietnam, Military Assistance Command was required to monitor and report on Communist infiltration through Laos and Cambodia while providing order of battle data reflecting enemy units as regular, main force, local force, or guerrilla. The intelligence officer was asked not only, to locate and identify the enemy but also to prove how he got where he was and where he came from.

During the early days (mid-1965) the few U.S. collection and exploitation activities were under the staff cognizance of the Intelligence Operations Division (IOD) headed by Colonel Glenn E. Muggelberg, whose vast experience in intelligence collection was invaluable. Faced with a growing demand for information, Colonel Muggelberg soon had almost everyone in his division functioning as an operator. Staff officers commonly went to the field to pick up an important captured document, to sit in on the interrogation of a key prisoner, or to examine an item of new equipment taken from the enemy. However, it was not long before individual efforts no longer satisfied the demand. At first, simple procedures were possible. We used a general collection plan for identifying requirements and resources and for assigning responsibilities. Separate directives were published in support of special collection programs.

Collection requirements normally were derived from tasks received from the production element. Close co-operation and co-ordination between the collector and the producer were essential. The producer knew what intelligence gaps existed. He had


the data base and knew what information we already had. Within Military Assistance Command J-2 the Intelligence Operations Division, exploitation centers, and production agencies were located in different facilities. Coordination was achieved by placing representatives of the collection element with the producers at the Combined Intelligence Center, Vietnam.

Immense problems resulted from the huge increase in the number of specific intelligence collection requirements from our combat forces, Military Assistance Command headquarters, and Washington. Administrative tasks alone rapidly reached enormous proportions and prompted a need for an economic, yet efficient, management system without adding to the authorized manning level. Our solution was to incorporate collection management into the computer facilities of J-2. Utilizing four files, the system contained an inventory of valid collection requirements; approved essential elements of information and other intelligence requirements, orders, requests, and collection tasking; evaluated input from specified collectors; and served as a registry of all intelligence report numbers issued within Military Assistance Command. Known as the Collection Management System, it provided systematic coverage of the intelligence cycle: a data base reflecting the requirements, the reports that resulted, and an evaluation of the information contained therein.

My deputy for combat intelligence supervised the functions concerning J-2 air, reconnaissance, targets, intelligence operations, exploitation activities, and the Military Attaché Liaison Office.

Aerial Reconnaissance and Surveillance

In the field of intelligence an important development has been the sophistication of aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. As a result of the remarkable advances in optics and electronic sensors, not to mention aircraft, we have barely begun to realize our potential. At one time we had, for example, the possibility of 112 different combinations of aircraft, sensor, and service that could be employed. Until the introduction of U.S. ground combat units in Vietnam in mid-1965, aerial reconnaissance and surveillance activities were concerned primarily with locating suitable targets for air strikes. The relatively small demand for close air support, together with an adequate number of aircraft for the situation at that time, obviated the need for a sophisticated tactical air control system. With the escalation of the U.S. commitment, rigid control of air assets became necessary.


Because of our interest in aerial reconnaissance, there was a requirement for the Army and Air Force to negotiate and establish a mutually acceptable system for control of air resources available to Military Assistance Command. In October 1965, a policy agreement establishing the joint Air-Ground Operations System was promulgated. Based on experiences from Korea, the system combined certain aspects of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control System and the Army Air-Ground Operations System but distinctly specified that control would be exercised at the joint (Military Assistance Command) level. This arrangement proved its worth and functioned effectively. Brigadier General Rockly Triantafellu, U.S. Air Force, then director of intelligence of the 2d Air Division, and his staff showed enthusiasm, and we were able to work in close coordination to develop the required systems. His successor at 7th Air Force, Brigadier General Jammie M. Philpott, was an equally dynamic and outstanding intelligence officer. These two officers deserve major credit for successfully developing our joint aerial reconnaissance and surveillance programs (Appendix I) .

As an outgrowth of the joint Air-Ground Operations System, it was necessary to create a joint operations center, subsequently designated the Combat Operations Center in deference to the Navy orientation of the theater commander, and to set up the other control mechanisms at lower echelons. Benefits accruing to J-2 were control and co-ordinating authority for photography, visual reconnaissance, and electronic intelligence (Chart 13, Appendix J).

The aerial reconnaissance and surveillance program played a vital role in the Military Assistance Command collection effort. Three complementary systems-photographic, visual, and electronic sensors-were among the primary sources of intelligence for the support of ground tactical operations, B-52 strikes, and interdiction of land and sea infiltration routes. Although eminently successful, this collection effort had some significant shortcomings and limitations. First of all, aerial reconnaissance and surveillance are dependent on environment. Cloud cover and jungle canopy reduce system effectiveness-visual and photographic. While electronic sensors such as side-looking airborne radar and infrared are operable under these conditions, bad weather often prevents aircraft from reaching the target area. During the seasonal monsoons that occur in Southeast Asia, there are prolonged periods when aerial reconnaissance or surveillance techniques are limited against key targets. Secondly, limited resources initially hindered the program. Also, the Republic of Vietnam was not the only area in




which the United States had a requirement for aerial reconnaissance; the Commander in Chief, Pacific, and Strategic Air Command had other priorities that precluded the allocation of all their resources to Military Assistance Command. Consequently, Vietnam was never covered to the extent desired by the intelligence staff. Through the assiduous use of available joint resources, however, we managed to provide adequate support for the tactical units.

Tactical aerial reconnaissance was performed with optical (photographic) , infrared, and side-looking airborne radar sensors mounted in Air Force RF101, RF4C, RB57, RC47, and U.S. Army Mohawk OV-1 aircraft. Missions stemmed from the monthly reconnaissance plan and daily requests. The J-2 Reconnaissance Branch monthly plan was based on requests and recommendations for repetitive coverage submitted by all major Army headquarters,


the Military Assistance Command staff, and component commands. On an average, the plan included some 750 targets that were processed and assigned aircraft daily by the Tactical Air Support Element and Tactical Air Control Center. Daily requests-some 1,200 per month-were submitted by each direct air support center directly to the Tactical Air Support Element for validation and transmittal to the Tactical Air Control Center for Air Force execution. These daily requests were validated at each echelon in the joint Air-Ground system to ascertain whether aircraft organic to subordinate units could perform the mission and thereby economize on the Air Force resources.

Photographic reconnaissance support for :Military Assistance Command was provided by the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing of the 7th Air Force. This unit was committed to other programs for the Commander in Chief, Pacific, and could not devote all its energies to Military Assistance Command projects. This did not detract from the quality of support the unit provided, but the quantity could have been increased with additional resources. Although many sorties were flown over South Vietnam daily, we were almost a subscriber to the photography program rather than the principal or executive agent. The same aircraft flew in support of Military Assistance Command and the Commander in Chief, Pacific; thus, the film cassette from one four-hour sortie might contain very little of interest to Military Assistance Command. In fact, the characteristics of the high-performance aircraft used on photo missions permitted tremendous area coverage and raised doubts about the economic feasibility of point targets nominated by ground units. Strategic Air Command flew high-altitude photo missions in Southeast Asia and accepted Military Assistance Command mission requests; however, the climate and jungle canopy reduced their value.

The technological advances that have been made in optics (lenses and cameras), film, sensors, illumination, and methodology provided the greatest capability ever known. The biggest problem, mastering our technology and making the system work, was eventually overcome. Through the efforts of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, we developed a magnificent photography program. In spite of potential charges of parochialism I extend a large share of the credit to the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) (MIBARS) , which greatly facilitated co-ordination of the photographic effort throughout the country.

Doctrinally, the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) would be employed as an element of a field


army to produce and disseminate intelligence information obtained or developed by Air Force reconnaissance aircraft, and its organization permitted deployment of a military intelligence detachment with each squadron of the tactical reconnaissance wing that customarily supported a field army. This concept had been tested extensively during field exercises in the United States and had been implemented successfully during the Dominican Republic crisis. However, the battalion, designed for conventional wars of the classic continental battlefield, had not been tested adequately in a counterinsurgency such as that in Southeast Asia, nor had it been in a prolonged combat theater.

The concept for the employment of the MIBARS placed the battalion headquarters at Tan Son Nhut with a detachment in each of the four corps tactical zones and thereby provided a direct support facility that would be familiar with the local situation. We became particularly satisfied with the arrangement, even though all the Air Force photography missions were flown out of Tan Son Nhut. By virtue of their personal contact with the reconnaissance wing and their close relationship with ground units, the battalion personnel contributed immeasurably to developing a truly joint effort in photo intelligence. Elements of the battalion and the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing merged in order to provide the greatest capability. The rapport and mutual co-operation that evolved resulted in the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) being one of the few Army units ever to receive a Presidential Unit Citation through Air Force channels. In addition, its many accomplishments were recognized when the 1st received two Meritorious Unit Citations.

Although numerous problems arose in the aerial reconnaissance and surveillance field, the personnel of the military intelligence battalion were extremely successful in overcoming them. Some of the first problems to be approached concerned education; there were almost no knowledgeable reconnaissance personnel in the Army. Too few commanders and staff officers knew how the aerial reconnaissance and surveillance system worked or appreciated what it had to offer. The battalion attacked these problems initially by publishing a comprehensive handbook that explained in detail its mission and how tactical units could request and receive support. In addition, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Tymchak, battalion commander, and his officers visited tactical units throughout South Vietnam to publicize the support their organization could provide to combat operations and how that support should be requested. Command-wide interest was thereby generated in the aerial recon-


naissance and surveillance program. As the MIBARS gained experience and expertise, more ambitious measures were implemented. Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Kelley, Jr., who succeeded Colonel Tymchak, established schools for G2 air officers and imagery interpreters. The course for air officers was designed to promote more efficient and effective utilization of aerial reconnaissance and surveillance resources by training men from the tactical units in the fundamentals and mechanics of the system. The imagery interpretation course was available to all imagery interpretation units in Southeast Asia, regardless of service, and was intended to provide the environmental orientation and familiarization that is so essential to accurate photo and imagery interpretation.

Another accomplishment of the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) that was vital to the aerial reconnaissance and surveillance program was development and publication of comprehensive photo interpretation keys for Southeast Asia. These keys, actually a photo dictionary, were invaluable to the interpreters, and the over-all effectiveness and efficiency of the entire program increased when the keys became available.

One of the most significant missions undertaken by the 1st was Project WAYSIDE, a complex operation to produce annotated photomaps of selected areas in South Vietnam. The topographic map coverage we had in the early days was not accurate enough. While terrain features may have been correctly depicted, survey data and grids were only approximate. The MIBARS initiated Project WAYSIDE in an effort to provide photomaps of U.S. installations and areas in which military operations were planned. These maps proved to be reliable enough to permit accurate artillery support to be fired from map data, something that had been not always possible with the topographic maps previously in use. These photomaps became extremely popular and were in great demand.

These successes do not mean that the system was without fault. We never obtained a high enough priority to get all the equipment and support that the MIBARS needed and deserved. During my tenure as J-2, for example, we did not receive all the communications equipment authorized for the battalion. This lack contributed to the difficulties we experienced in attempting to provide more timely aerial reconnaissance support for the tactical units. A four- to seven-day time lag generally passed between request and receipt of photo, causing some criticism of our program, though there were instances of receipt within hours after request. An additional detracting factor was the lack of float aircraft for the battalion. When an aircraft was down for maintenance or other


reasons, no substitute replaced it, and delivery of photos to supported units was delayed.

We also experienced considerable frustration in the area of logistical support for the aerial surveillance and reconnaissance program. The prime example concerns the ES-38 Mobile Photography Laboratory, a basic item of equipment that was essential to all photo interpretation units. There were no floats for the ES-38 in South Vietnam, and we were continually short of spare and replacement parts. Through the initiative of Colonel Kelley, the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) became the theater-wide support facility for the ES-38's. His men literally became the technical experts on the equipment and played a key role in maintaining the Military Assistance Command imagery interpretation capability.

The visual surveillance program was conducted jointly by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army aviation, and the Vietnamese Air Force. The nature of tactical operations demanded fully co-ordinated and repetitive coverage of border and coastal areas and other sites of high interest known to be utilized by the enemy in order to obtain real time reports of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army activity. The program varied from screening large areas for indications of enemy presence to concentrating coverage where ground operations were under way or patrolling over friendly troop movements. It included the capacity for directing artillery, naval gunfire, or air strikes on any targets, either fixed or fleeting, detected in the area of search. While helicopters supported the program at division level, the Army, Air Force, and Marine O-1 Birddogs (single-engine light observation aircraft) served as the backbone of airborne visual reconnaissance. Initially hampered by a shortage of aircraft, eventually we fully implemented the program with sufficient aircraft allocated to each corps to permit coverage of the entire country.

The corps were divided into visual surveillance areas governed in size by the area that one aircraft crew could cover in a systematic search during a two-hour mission. Frequency of coverage was influenced by the enemy situation, indications of activity reported by other sources, friendly operational plans, suspected enemy operations, weather, and aircraft availability. To make the program more effective, a pilot and observer covered the same area each day, developing in this way a familiarity with the terrain that facilitated detecting evidence of enemy activity (such as a new trail or road repairs). When necessary, or possible, a Vietnamese


observer went along to permit communications with Vietnamese Army units in the vicinity.

As the program progressed, service responsibilities became more clearly defined. Air Force O-1's were assigned to tactical support squadrons, one of which was placed in support of each corps. These aircraft, however, were under the operational control of the Tactical Air Control Center through the corps' direct air support centers and were intended to perform in a forward air control role more than in one of visual surveillance; but they were available to support the reconnaissance effort when operational requirements permitted. This arrangement worked well as a result of the excellent rapport that existed among the corps staffs and their Air Force counterparts. The Army aircraft and crews were placed in direct support of the corps or division at which they were stationed. With their primary mission of supporting combat operations, the Army O-1's carried on visual surveillance, adjustment of artillery and naval gunfire, column cover, and radio relay. The Air Force Birddogs directed air strikes and, as a secondary mission, performed visual surveillance.

When the number of aircraft in Vietnam permitted, the sector was established as the basic echelon at which airborne visual surveillance was conducted. An aerial reconnaissance officer designated for each sector and division in each corps played a key role in the execution of the program. These officers supervised preparation of the reconnaissance plan, briefed and debriefed the surveillance team, and insured compliance with reporting requirements. To be of value the program had to provide timely information to the commander. An in-flight or spot report, used to disseminate information of immediate tactical value, could be sent directly to the support unit, division, sector, corps, or field force. The second report-an aerial observation report or debrief-was more deliberate. It completely detailed all sightings and observations during the mission and had to be forwarded to higher and adjacent headquarters daily. At each succeeding echelon, reports were consolidated and forwarded, ultimately reaching Military Assistance Command. Also, a weekly statistical summary submitted by each corps reflected aircraft availability, number of reconnaissance sorties, targets struck as a result of visual sightings, and surveillance areas not covered.

The employment of airborne radar and infrared sensors comprised a third aspect of aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. While the radar produced some very impressive results, readout of the infrared imagery presented a significant problem that was


never adequately resolved. Before going to Vietnam, I had seen a demonstration of the microdensitometer in infrared readout, and the results convinced me it would be useful in Military Assistance Command. We ordered the equipment but discovered that it could not be used economically in Vietnam because of the complex, sophisticated installation process. Despite infrared problems, the OV-1 Mohawk (twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft) developed a reputation as an outstanding intelligence collector. The sidelooking airborne radar was effective and, when used in conjunction with searchlight-equipped, armed helicopters, produced some remarkable results; for example, the LIGHTENING BUG operation where the OV-1 flew night patrols over waterways used by the enemy and then relayed the location and nature of lucrative targets to the waiting helicopters. The Mohawks were an integral part of the successful Military Assistance Command campaign to interdict the maritime infiltration routes used by the enemy. They provided infrared, radar, and visual coverage of large portions of the Vietnamese coastal regions in support of Operations MARKET TIME and GAME WARDEN, the patrolling and search of watercraft on inland waterways and the contiguous South China Sea.

As an adjunct to visual reconnaissance, and related to aerial photography, we initiated the hand-held camera program in an attempt to partially alleviate the timeliness problem since a mission could be flown, the film processed, the imagery interpreted, and the results delivered to the requester in a matter of hours instead of days. The program was implemented by the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) for Military Assistance Command and by tactical air support squadrons for the Air Force. The MIBARS trained Army observers in the techniques of photography and also provided the cameras. Film could be processed at either the tactical units or the battalion. Several camera systems were tested. The first, employing the Questar lens on a camera chassis with motorized film transport, was unsuitable because of the need for a stable mount and the distortion that resulted from lens jitter when used in aircraft. The second system tested consisted of a catadioptic lens with 26-inch equivalent focal length mounted on the same body. Although compact and easily handled, the small aperture, limited depth of field, and critical focusing made this camera unacceptable. Further testing of off-the shelf cameras resulted in selection of a Japanese model with a 200-mm. lens. For special application, we acquired a 500-mm. and a 1,000-mm. lens for use with the camera. Admittedly not the ultimate solution, it was adequate for our purposes.


The magnitude of aerial reconnaissance operations required that a system be employed to insure that data concerning missions flown and results obtained were maintained and readily available for retrieval. It was also necessary to provide information on specific items regularly as an aid for proper management of the program. With these broad goals in mind systems were established utilizing automatic data processing for storage and retrieval of information.

One system was used for the reconnaissance program within Vietnam. Experience with in-country operations revealed a need for information concerning the reconnaissance cycle, frequency and type coverage obtained, location of coverage, and results. Since intelligence resulting from missions is a production function, this informational need was incorporated into the Combined Intelligence Center, Vietnam, automated intelligence file.

From time to time it was necessary to determine what coverage was performed over selected areas in a given time frame. This could be done by sorting the cards by co-ordinate position and then printing out data from selected cards. The file could then be sorted by co-ordinates and dates to determine the results of the coverage obtained. This system was implemented in December 1966, and complete data were maintained after 1 January 1967. The results of missions outside Vietnam were also fed into the Combined Intelligence Center data base.

Automatic data processing provided a basis for collation of required data, rapid retrieval, and more accurate and timely statistical data needed for management purposes. Plans of the J-2 Reconnaissance Branch were formulated to improve the system. First of all, integrated data processing was to be initiated. This meant that the request for aerial reconnaissance would be in the format and coded so that all data were placed on the card which would be used for subsequent data reduction. Secondly, the Combined Intelligence Center would perform the data processing using the 1410 computer when the second machine became operational. This would allow tape storage and faster retrieval. The 27th Data Processing Unit maintained the in-country program in June 1969. Third, programs outside Vietnam managed by Military Assistance Command would be reduced to an automatic data processing system such as that applied to reconnaissance within Vietnam. This would provide a common base for data reduction so that the same type of information for all programs would be maintained in the same manner.

The importance of ground reconnaissance cannot be overemphasized. Ground reconnaissance not only can provide timely


and accurate information on all aspects of the enemy and the area of operations but also can report on where the enemy and his influences do not exist.

The most professional and effective reconnaissance was performed by the 1st Australian Task Force. They conducted reconnaissance to collect intelligence and to avoid being discovered by the enemy. Their teams could remain on patrol for two weeks at a time without being resupplied. They were masters at it. Long-range reconnaissance patrols were employed at almost every echelon of command in Vietnam. These teams were good sources of intelligence for tactical commanders. Most patrols could direct artillery or air strikes on targets they discovered, but occasionally they called in such strikes at times when their continuous reporting on the enemy would have been more valuable.

Most patrol actions were planned, coordinated, and executed at the sector or division level. Some long-range reconnaissance patrols responded to Military Assistance Command and field force tasking. The marines could call upon their force reconnaissance unit in I Corps and the 5th Special Forces. The patrol capability was increased significantly by establishing the Military Assistance Command Recondo School at Nha Trang under the 5th Special Forces Group. I was highly impressed both by the Australians and by the successful night operations and reconnaissance conducted by the two divisions and the marine brigade from the Republic of Korea. The Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Group border camps, which were isolated strongpoints advised by U.S. Special Forces teams, were located astride Communist infiltration routes. In addition to providing information about enemy movements and activities, these outposts conducted valuable reconnaissance and were a constant thorn in the side of North Vietnamese units operating in South Vietnam.

The employment of returnees (Hoi Chanhs) as scouts for U.S. units in the Kit Carson program was very successful. They assisted our patrols in locating and identifying enemy units and caches.

The Airborne Personnel Detector ("People Sniffer") signaled human presence by electronically detecting body odors. Unfortunately, inability to distinguish friend from foe limited its value in the ground mode, and it was more effectively employed when mounted in a helicopter and flown over areas known to be frequented by the enemy. Because aircraft thus equipped had to fly relatively low, vulnerability to ground fire was high and escort gunships were required.

Light intensifiers (Starlight Scopes) proved to be of great value


in spotting enemy movement during darkness. Without the vulnerability of detection inherent in infrared light sources, the Starlight Scope intensified available light to permit observation.

While we have not yet realized the ultimate potential of unattended ground sensors, their use had considerable promise. Based on sonic, seismic, or pressure disturbances, sensors can detect people or vehicles and can transmit this information immediately to a monitor or store the data for subsequent readout by an airborne monitor. Again, these systems cannot discriminate.

There is no substitute for properly conducted ground reconnaissance. It takes men of great courage and physical stamina. It requires lengthy and intensive training. It requires miniaturized lightweight, dependable communications and aids to the human senses of sound and sight. Most U.S. ground reconnaissance was conducted to locate and conduct air or artillery strikes on enemy targets. Adequate emphasis was not given to avoiding detection, to maintaining contact, and to keeping the commander informed.


In the realm of area intelligence and the utilization of sensitive sources, initial plans called for an elaborate collection organization which could conduct shallow and deep operations. The original expectations proved overly ambitious and the program was reduced considerably. In addition, some jurisdictional questions arose from interservice disputes, hindering the establishment of an effective control mechanism. These were referred to the Commander in Chief, Pacific, and were resolved in favor of Military Assistance Command, creating a precedent for future controversies of this nature. However, relations with the Central Intelligence Agency were not covered by this decision, and while co-operation generally was excellent, J-2, Military Assistance Command, was not privy to all Central Intelligence Agency operations.

The collection effort concept initially called for a single command to conduct both unilateral and bilateral operations. Targets included enemy units and activities within the Military Assistance Command area of interest as well as special targets selected in response to local commanders' immediate needs for order of battle information. A large percentage of the effort established area coverage to satisfy better the requirements of tactical units. Generally speaking, these operations were moderately successful in answering specific requirements. Unfortunately most staff officers in intelligence slots lacked any specialized intelligence training, experience, or familiarity with the fundamentals of taskings for collection. The


assignment to each sector headquarters and corps-level G2 section of an intelligence liaison officer with the needed collection expertise partially alleviated the problem.

J-2, Military Assistance Command, was faced with an education problem within the military intelligence community in Vietnam. This problem also existed throughout the Army in general. Too few responsible people were familiar with area intelligence and how to use it. Security requirements may be cited by some as the reason for failing to include this as an Army mission at most service schools; but the Army cannot afford to classify itself out of this capability, and commanders must be made aware of its benefits.

Very ambitious programs targeted against the Viet Cong infrastructure and the Viet Cong irregular forces were initiated under the auspices of Military Assistance Command J-2. The focal point for these operations was at sector and subsector where the American S-2 adviser and his counterpart worked in co-ordination with local U.S. and Vietnamese intelligence activities. The primary objectives of these programs were to develop substantive data on the enemy political order of battle in support of the Military Assistance Command pacification and revolutionary development programs. Encouraging progress provided a foundation for the later, more expansive, Combined Intelligence Staff.

Some of the most active collection efforts utilized a technique described as specialized patrolling. Conducted by U.S. Army intelligence units and the U.S. Army Special Forces, these programs produced valuable information about enemy infiltration, troop movements, unit locations, and logistical facilities which helped develop accurate intelligence about the Communist military elements who hid in the base areas located in remote parts of the Republic of Vietnam. In some instances, impressive results were achieved which undoubtedly caused a diversion of enemy combat units to security missions. To increase the psychological pressures on the enemy soldiers and their infrastructure, we initiated programs to encourage defections among the Communist forces. Of course the government's Chieu Hoi program produced a large number of ralliers, who were, however, for the most part of little status within the Communist hierarchy. We devoted considerable emphasis to devising feasible means of obtaining defections among the top-level Viet Cong cadres and North Vietnamese military forces and sought to induce entire units to rally to the government of Vietnam. At best, we expected such programs to achieve only moderate success, and we would have been satisfied with merely reducing the morale and efficiency of a unit. Offering amnesty, for


example, could cause the leaders to become distrustful of subordinates who did not devoutly follow the party line. We also used a rewards program whereby suppliers of information leading to the capture of high-ranking Communist officials were paid generously. These efforts did provide a commendable number of new sources for further exploitation; and regardless of reasons, returnee rates increased after the rewards offers were made. Funds also were made available to all commanders to pay-rewards for enemy weapons or for information leading to the discovery of enemy caches.

An important factor in the intelligence effort was the role of the military attachés in Vietnam. 1n May 1964, with the growth of Military Assistance Command, the offices of the U.S. military attache were closed. Since a number of attache functions continued to exist, J-2, Military Assistance Command, assumed responsibility for many of the residual requirements, and several liaison officers were appointed within the Intelligence Operations Division to discharge the attaché mission as additional duties. Later these functions were incorporated into the Foreign Liaison Office within the J-2 staff. Nevertheless, the growing attache requirements soon necessitated the expansion of our effort, and I established the Military Attaché Liaison Office under Colonel Robert F. Robens as a division-level staff agency. The office was organized along the lines of a typical Defense attaché office so that it quickly could assume the official attaché functions. The Military Attaché Liaison Office repeatedly proved its worth in co-ordinating matters pertaining to attachés from other countries as they affected U.S. forces and provided a diplomatic lever to secure information of value to the command.

Another aspect of our intelligence collection concerned the role of the U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam. As the Military Assistance Command combat organization expanded, efforts were redoubled to improve our capacity for conducting offensive intelligence missions in enemy-controlled areas, and we sought to take advantage of the vast potential of the 5th Special Forces Group. This organization, with A detachments strategically deployed throughout the country, had excellent communications from all units back to the group headquarters, its own airlift capability, and an extremely efficient command and control system. While the Special Forces was providing valuable input to our intelligence effort and was participating in some of our collection programs, it obviously could do much more. I visited the newly assigned commander of the Special Forces, Colonel Francis J. Kelly, in June 1966 and proposed a plan for using the potential of his group to


collect intelligence of value to the entire command. Colonel Kelly enthusiastically received these recommendations and offered his full support.

To expedite the program I made available one of my most able officers, Lieutenant Colonel Richard L. Ruble, to be the first career military intelligence officer assigned as S-2 of the 5th Special Forces Group. The results were gratifying. First, a number of regulations were written to explain the steps necessary to improve the intelligence program, and mobile training teams were dispatched by the group S-2 officer to visit each A and B detachment to assist in their implementation. Marked improvements were observed in collection operations targeted against the enemy military and political order of battle. Production was advanced by the establishment of an intelligence analysis center in each corps tactical zone.

As intelligence tasking continued to expand, it became evident that additional personnel, particularly those with specific intelligence skills, were essential. Two augmentation units were provided: the 403d Special Operations Detachment and an unnumbered military intelligence detachment composed of 110 men. The 403d was retained under group control while the 110-man augmentation detachment was organized into five teams containing counterintelligence, interrogation, analytical, and administrative specialists. One team was retained at group headquarters and one sent to each of the group's four companies. With the deployment of these teams, the 5th Special Forces Group intelligence organization provided excellent finished intelligence to its subordinate units as well as higher headquarters. The sophistication of the intelligence apparatus allowed for operations against the infrastructure, particularly through the low-level informer nets that were established by the A and B detachments. In addition, an elaborate collection capability soon emerged and highly productive programs were initiated. Detachment B57, which was a 52-man unit; a 13-man special mission group; the 403d Special Operations Detachment; plus some 125 intelligence personnel stationed with the C detachments came directly under the group S-2. The men of the Special Forces were ideal intelligence collectors; they knew the value of intelligence.

The objectives of one special collection program in effect were to develop timely intelligence on North Vietnamese Army infiltration through Cambodia, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army bases in Cambodia, and Cambodian support to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. All prisoners were


interrogated concerning their routes of march from North to South Vietnam. If they were ever in Cambodia we asked for witnessed, handwritten signed statements from each source. His picture was attached to his statement. We had a book full of such evidence, much of it valuable. J-2, Military Assistance Command, published a detailed report on the role of Cambodia in supporting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. This program was highly successful.

Another program was designed to collect information on the Viet Cong infrastructure and to update the Viet Cong political order of battle handbook. This was a combined collection effort primarily at the sector and subsector level. By June 1967 about 15,000 names were reported as possible members of the infrastructure.

Another similar plan was directed at the development of an accurate estimate of the Viet Cong irregular forces strength, thereby providing a measure of the Viet Cong ability to increase their regular forces strength and to offset their regular forces losses. Such information also provided a better understanding of the problem facing the Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. and Free World Military Assistance Forces in their pacification and revolutionary development efforts. Again, the focal point of this effort was at the sector. By the end of May 1967 this program gave us for the first time a good estimate of the Viet Cong irregular forces strength. It had taken about five months. Colonel Loi and I had decided to place the requirement for this plan through our separate channels of communication. He tasked the Vietnamese intelligence officer at each sector to submit to him a report on the organization and estimated strength of the Viet Cong irregular forces. I requested the American intelligence officer at sector to furnish me the same information. Then Colonel Loi and I had our staffs compare reports. We resubmitted our requests and asked for full co-ordination of all agencies. Their eventual reports gave us the best information available to date. This was the first planned effort to collect such information.

Another J-2, Military Assistance Command, program was established to intercept suspect enemy trawlers and steel-hull ships bringing supplies and men into South Vietnam. This was primarily a Navy program, but all agencies participated. The program was very successful.

During the last sixteen months of my tour the number of active specific intelligence collection requirements had increased 146 percent and we were processing about 350 at all times. Also, the


number of intelligence reports (Department of Defense Form 1396) from 1964 to 1966 increased 5,000 percent. Over thirteen thousand reports were handled in 1966. During the first four months of 1967 there were almost 9,000. From this proliferation of reports an economical, yet efficient, method to manage this administrative requirements was needed. The system developed for this purpose was named the Military Assistance Command Collection Management System and was a subsystem of the Military Assistance Command Intelligence Data Handling System.

The Collection Management System data base had four files. The first file contained all the information applicable to specific intelligence collection requirements, such as who originated the requirement, who had to collect the information, what was the priority of the requirement, and when the requirement expired. These requirements were generated by the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence consumers. Data were provided monthly for both staff and field use in the form of a collection requirements registry.

This registry provided the collection manager with an inventory of active specific intelligence collection requirements and arranged these requirements in formats which enabled rapid identification by management-oriented groupings such as subject matter and geographic area addressed (for instance, North Vietnamese antiaircraft tactics in the Central Highlands). The registry proved its value by accommodating the increased burden of requirements administration both at the headquarters and in the field. The registry, updated monthly, served as the specific intelligence collection requirement inventory and working control document for both.

Also from this file, every month, a separate report was provided each requirement originator. This report listed those specific intelligence collection requirements for which the originator was responsible which were due to expire and which therefore needed to be reviewed. The purpose of the review was to insure on the one hand that collection assets were not dissipated on satisfied requirements and on the other hand that valid requirements were not cancelled.

The second file was also a requirements file. It contained the essential elements of information and other information requests which the MACV commander had approved. It also included the indicators, specific orders and requests, and collection tasking for each essential element of information and collection requirement.


From this file we published the Military Assistance Command intelligence collection plan for the 1967 combined campaign plan.

The computer program available for processing this file permitted rapid updating of the requirements and republication of the document without burdening the field units with administrative details such as "pen and ink" changes. Plans called for this file to be placed on tape for easier updating and retrieval. We also intended to develop a system which would provide field units with a version oriented specifically for their use. This later system would become feasible as the J-2 computer capability improved.

The third file, the evaluation file, contained the opinions of a requirement originator as to the value of the information provided by a specific collector, for example whether it was timely, whether it answered the question, or its general value in the light of intelligence holdings. This type of evaluation is basic to successful collection. It is a form of feedback from which both the collection manager and the collector can analyze, redirect, and redefine their collection objectives. In effect the requirement originator or analyst provides a scorecard which measures the success of the collection action. It was estimated that approximately 40 percent of Military Assistance Command be evaluated and this percentage was an adequate sample for a valid evaluation program. It was envisioned that this file would be used primarily in-house by the collection managers in evaluating the quality of the reporting system.

The fourth file provided a registry of all intelligence report numbers issued for reporting purposes within Military Assistance Command. A significant portion of this file contained an expanded computer record which provided management data on those reports which had been evaluated.

This file did not contain the intelligence information provided by the report. Other files within J-2 contained the substantive intelligence data which had been reported. The reports which emanated from the file were used in monitoring and evaluating reporting activities to determine the extent of response of specific requirements (specific intelligence collection requirements or collection plans, for example) and to determine the over-all extent of collector response to specifically assigned collection tasks.

The Collection Management System, through these four files, provided the collection manager with a useful tool for controlling, evaluating, and redirecting, where necessary, the collection effort. The system served the requirement originator, the manager, and the collector by providing a total system wherein the collection cycle could be traversed. It provided a data base from which infor-


mation could be provided the originator, the collection manager, and the collector on all requirements levied on Military Assistance Command collection assets, selected intelligence reports submitted by Military Assistance Command collection assets in response to requirements, and evaluations of selected reports submitted by Military Assistance Command collectors.

Exploitation Division

The combined agreement of October 1965 between Military Assistance Command and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces established a combined exploitation system and provided for the establishment of physical plants to house each activity at national level. A second agreement concluded in June 1966 established similar provisions for materiel exploitation.

In order to implement the system, four intelligence exploitation programs were placed into effect: These were the interrogation, document, materiel, and Chieu Hoi programs. These combined programs, based upon the aforementioned agreements, had several factors in common. They were controlled and co-ordinated by J-2, Military Assistance Command, and J-2, Joint General Staff; they involved combined employment of U.S. And Vietnamese resources; and they aimed to achieve timely intelligence.

At Military Assistance Command level, staff supervision over these programs became the responsibility of the Exploitation Branch, Intelligence Operations Division. In February 1967, during a J-2 organizational realignment, the Exploitation Branch was broken away from the Intelligence Operations Division and was redesignated the Exploitation Division. The Exploitation Division exercised direct staff supervision over the Combined Military Interrogation Center, the Combined Document Exploitation Center, and the Combined Materiel Exploitation Center. The fourth exploitation program was the Chieu Hoi program, the purposes of which were to induce defection, to collect intelligence, to weaken the Viet Cong cause, and to convert the returnees to useful citizens.

Only those Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldiers who defected after supporting the military or political activities of the National Liberation Front were eligible for the Chieu Hoi program. After being exploited for intelligence and after a period of reindoctrination and training, returnees were resettled as normal citizens of the republic. J-2 interest in the Chieu Hoi program was primarily in its intelligence potential. In 1966 it was estimated that only 10 percent of all Chieu Hoi returnees were being exploited for


intelligence or psychological purposes. In July 1966, a concerted effort was initiated to improve the intelligence exploitation of returnees through the assignment of additional J-2 personnel to the program, including full-time J-2 liaison officers at each of the four corps. Exploitation improved to the extent that few returnees were overlooked as potential sources of information on the Viet Cong. All North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong military cadres and all political cadres were evacuated to the national Chieu Hoi center in Saigon, where they were interrogated in depth.

Some representative cases that have occurred since August of 1966 illustrate the formidable intelligence potential of the program. The U.S. marines in the I Corps area implemented a program for the tactical exploitation of selected Chieu Hoi returnees. Identified as Kit Carson Scouts, military returnees who had completed the prescribed reindoctrination at a Chieu Hoi center were recruited from the centers and hired full time as guides or scouts for tactical units. Over thirty of these scouts were employed by the marines, and plans called for a total of fifty by June 1967. These scouts contributed to the success of search-and-clear operations and identified and assisted in the capture of over forty-five of their former Viet Cong compatriots. Similar uses of returnees in support of tactical operations were carried out in the other corps areas.

Since August 1966, three very important Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel have voluntarily returned to South Vietnamese control under the Chieu Hoi program. The first of these was Lieutenant Colonel Le Xuan Chuyen, the former chief of staff for operations and training of the 5th Viet Cong Division. He was highly knowledgeable throughout a broad spectrum of military subjects. In May 1967 Colonel Chuyen was appointed director of the national Chieu Hoi center in Saigon.

In October 1966 the assistant director of the Central Office of South Vietnam medical school, Nguyen Huu Hung, returned to government control. He provided a considerable amount of detailed information pertaining to Central Office personalities, order of battle, and medical training.

In March 1967 the former chief of the training section of Military Region V, Hoynh Cu, returned to government control. He provided valuable information on North Vietnamese Army strategy in the Western Highlands Military Region and on Military Region V organization and activities, logistics, and order of battle.

Based upon information provided by a returnee in the IV Corps area, the South Vietnamese Army 21st Division reacted by launching an immediate operation which resulted in 309 Viet


Cong casualties, 13 captured, and large equipment losses. These are some typical examples of the intelligence exploitation of the Chieu Hoi program.

The highlight of intelligence exploitation in 1967 was the quality, quantity, and timeliness of information gained as the result of Operation CEDAR FALLS, which was directed against Military Region IV from 8-26 January. To improve tactical interrogation during the operation, ten field interrogation teams consisting of a total of fourteen Americans and eight Vietnamese from the Combined Military Interrogation Center were sent to support the tactical units of II Field Force. Interrogations yielded valuable information on unit identifications and locations.

The operation proved to be an intelligence windfall in terms of captured enemy documents. Of the 492,553 pages received during the period, 52,797, or approximately 11 percent, were either summarized or fully translated. These exploited documents provided information regarding the subordinate units and agencies of Military Region IV, including defense plans for War Zone C. Also included was an outline plan and general objectives for the Viet Cong 1966-1967 campaign. There were strong indications that the entire military file on Binh Duong Province unit headquarters was captured by friendly forces. Over 1,500 pages of signal intelligence and crypto material were processed. These pages of crypto material included signal directives, signed operation instructions, and crypto operator notebooks, most of which were originated by the Crypto Cell, Current Affairs Committee, Military Region IV. The timely initial exploitation of these documents yielded tactical and strategic intelligence.

Two document exploitation teams consisting of four Americans and two South Vietnamese from the Combined Document Exploitation Center were in direct support of combat units. Timeliness of evacuation and exploitation was excellent. Capturing units were provided on-the-spot tactical document exploitation support, and the results of every document exploited at the center were provided to tactical units and to the Military Assistance Command staff within twenty-four hours.

On 22 February 1967 Operation JUNCTION CITY was initiated by units of II Field Force, Vietnam, and III Corps. Intelligence exploitation included the capture of a large quantity of film which provided excellent identification photos of members of the Viet Cong hierarchy. The take consisted of various positives, negatives, undeveloped exposed film, unused film, and some duplicate film. All of this film was processed, screened, summarized, and combined


into a total of sixty-five reels varying in length from five to thirty minutes. With the co-operation of the joint U.S. Public Affairs Office, five of the films were combined to make a composite 35-minute film with a commentary soundtrack added in English. This composite film depicted the late General Nguyan Chi Thanh visiting a hospital in Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam; General Thanh was a member of the North Vietnamese Politburo and the commanding general of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. (In the summer of 1967, he was mortally wounded by a B-52 strike in Tay Ninh Province.) In addition, the film showed Major General (then Brigadier General) Tran Do addressing a meeting of the Central Office of South Vietnam; General Do was the deputy political officer of the National Liberation Front and chief of the political section of the Central Office. Generals Thanh and Do were positively identified by a returnee who knew them personally.

The intelligence exploitation programs provided rapid response in interrogation by the Combined Military Interrogation Center ranging from tactical through strategic areas of intelligence interest; in document exploitation ranging from summarizations to complete translations, as well as automated rapid retrieval of documents by subject area by the Combined Document Exploitation Center; and in materiel exploitation ranging from on-the-spot technical evaluation to complete analysis at the Combined Materiel Exploitation Center.

Operation Cedar Falls

While Vietnam provided many examples of the role of intelligence in support of operations, CEDAR FALLS is a classic. I conceived this operation and recommended it to General Westmoreland. This was the first corps-level operation in Vietnam and employed a multi-division force - in the notorious Iron Triangle, some twenty-five miles north-northwest of Saigon. Initiated on 8 January 1967, the operation aimed at the capture or destruction of Headquarters, Viet Cong Military Region IV, and its base camps and supply bases as well as the 272d Viet Cong Regiment. The Iron Triangle had become a sanctuary from which the Viet Cong operated with impunity against Gia Dinh Province and Saigon.

Because of the importance of the security of Saigon, the capital city, I had ordered the initiation of Operation RENDEZVOUS, a concerted effort to gather information about enemy personalities, units, headquarters, and activities within Military Region IV. RENDEZVOUS utilized all sources of intelligence collection from short-range radio


direction-finding equipment, side-looking airborne radar, infrared, agent reports, photography, long-range reconnaissance patrols, and reports from the Combined Interrogation Center, Combined Document Exploitation Center, and Combined Intelligence Center. RENDEZVOUS became the example of cooperation and coordination on a large scale by the entire military intelligence community. The combined centers provided specialized studies on suspected and known members of the Viet Cong infrastructure, pattern analysis of likely troop and logistics concentrations, and photo studies. Since Military Region IV was immediately subordinate to the Central Office of South Vietnam, we expected to capture the Central Office and Hanoi's plans affecting Saigon. Any disruption of Military Region IV would delay Communist plans affecting the capital.

By late 1966, an analysis of information obtained from RENDEZVOUS established patterns which convinced me that a quick strike against Military Region IV would not only prove tactically successful but would probably seriously disrupt the region.

One morning in mid-December 1966, fortified with overwhelming intelligence, I recommended to General Westmoreland that Operation JUNCTION CITY be postponed and that II Field Force attack Military Region IV. He directed that I brief Lieutenant General Jonathan O. Seaman, commander of II Field Force, who was then preparing to launch Operation JUNCTION CITY in War Zone C.

We briefed General Seaman and his staff that afternoon on the intelligence that had been gathered. He studied the facts and was impressed by what he termed a "most convincing presentation." General Seaman agreed to postpone JUNCTION CITY and go for Military Region IV. He realized that contact with large units would be unlikely but agreed that the capture of equipment, directives, and personnel of such an important headquarters subordinate to the Central Office was important to the security of Saigon and was a potential intelligence coup. This, together with the disruptive effect on enemy operations against Saigon, was a great opportunity. I reported the above to General Westmoreland in his office that evening. He picked up the phone and called General Seaman. He ordered CEDAR FALLS and arranged to meet with General Seaman and his staff the next day. Intelligence was "out front."

Enemy order of battle at this time included, in addition to Military Region IV headquarters, the 272d Regiment, the 1st and 7th Main Force Battalions, the Phu Loi Battalion, and four local forces companies, all operating within the area. The 9th Viet Cong




Division minus the 272d Regiment was capable of piecemeal reinforcement within forty-eight hours from areas west of the Iron Triangle. The enemy, however, was not expected to reinforce but rather to defend supply bases and headquarters areas with available security elements. His resistance was predicted to be primarily delaying actions. Owing to the lack of friendly operations within the area, extensive fortifications and tunnel systems also were expected. Estimates of the enemy's strength and probable courses of action proved accurate in that the 272d Regiment avoided major contact and left the defense of Military Region IV to local forces.

Immediately preceding CEDAR FALLS, tactical units deployed under the guise of small-scale operations to sites within striking distance of the Iron Triangle. Both the 1st Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division started deployment on 5 January, with elements of the 173d Airborne Brigade, under operational control of the 1st Division, initiating Operation NIAGARA FALLS In the Cau Dinh jungle between Highway 13 and the Thi Thinh River. The operation, when terminated on 7 January 1967, left these elements positioned for CEDAR FALLS. They constituted the hammer of the operation. The 25th Division deployed the 196th Light





Map: WHILE THE 11TH ARMORED CAVALRY DROVE WEST, THE 1ST DIVISION AND 173D BRIGADE WERE AIRLIFTED INTO LANDING ZONES around the edge of the Thanh Dien Forest Reserve at the northern flank of the Iron Triangle.

WHILE THE 11TH ARMORED CAVALRY DROVE WEST, THE 1ST DIVISION AND 173D BRIGADE WERE AIRLIFTED INTO LANDING ZONES around the edge of the Thanh Dien Forest Reserve at the northern flank of the Iron Triangle.


Map: WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE 196TH LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE FROM TAY NINH TO TRUNG LAP and with the positioning of the 196th and the 25th Division near the Saigon River and the Ho Bo Woods, the anvil or blocking force for Cedar Falls was ready.

WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE 196TH LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE FROM TAY NINH TO TRUNG LAP and with the positioning of the 196th and the 25th Division near the Saigon River and the Ho Bo Woods, the anvil or blocking force for Cedar Falls was ready.


Map: THE HAMMER OR STRIKING FORCE OF OPERATION CEDAR FALLS, the 1st Division and elements of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and 173d Brigade, struck on 9 January with the armor element driving west.

THE HAMMER OR STRIKING FORCE OF OPERATION CEDAR FALLS, the 1st Division and elements of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and 173d Brigade, struck on 9 January with the armor element driving west.


Infantry Brigade from Tay Ninh. The command post and trains of the 196th moved on 5 January to Trung Lap, southwest of the Iron Triangle. In the next two days the brigade shifted forces out of Tay Ninh and deployed four battalions into the Ho Bo woods close to the west bank of the Saigon River, and by 7 January they too were positioned as components of the anvil, or blocking forces, for CEDAR FALLS. Elements of the South Vietnamese 5th Infantry Division blocked on the southeast edge of the triangle. After heavy B-52 strikes against targets in the area which had been recommended by J-2 elements, the hammer or striking force of the operation, the 1st Infantry Division and elements of 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and 173d Airborne Brigade, struck on 9 January 1967 with the armor element driving west out of Ben Cat to the Saigon River at Rach Bap. At the same time elements of the 1st Division and the 173d Airborne Brigade were airlifted into landing zones around the edges of the Thanh Dien Forest Reserve at the northern flank of the Iron Triangle for their mission, the destruction of the headquarters and related installations of the Viet Cong Military Region IV.

When the decision had been reached to attack Military Region IV, we were able to provide II Field Force with a wealth of intelligence on the area. This was accomplished in a matter of hours by using our two automatic data processing systems. The combined centers also were alerted to provide augmentation personnel to the tactical units on order. In the actual operations, teams from all the combined centers were dispatched to both the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions for use as their commanders saw fit. However, in addition to the research and analysis support rendered by Military Assistance Command J-2, the intelligence units under our operational control also were tasked with providing support both before and during the operation. The 525th Military Intelligence Group supported CEDAR FALLS through subelements, including the 135th Military Intelligence Group, 149th Military Intelligence Group, and 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support).

Detachment A of the 1st provided aerial photographic coverage of access routes and potential targets within the area. After the operation began, the detachment provided local support to the G-2's and S-2's of the divisions and separate brigades, working closely with the imagery interpretation sections of the military intelligence detachments, including seventy-six missions in support of the 173d Airborne Brigade alone.

The 149th Military Intelligence Group, which had been gather-





Photo: ALL CIVILIANS IN THE CEDAR FALLS AREA OF OPERATIONS WERE DETAINED. Thousands of refugees were screened each day.

ALL CIVILIANS IN THE CEDAR FALLS AREA OF OPERATIONS WERE DETAINED. Thousands of refugees were screened each day.


ing intelligence from Operation RENDEZVOUS for the preceding six months, provided specific collection support to Operation CEDAR FALLS as well. Representatives located with the intelligence sections of the divisions and separate brigades had the mission of assuring timely dissemination of information reports and keeping their headquarters advised of new requirements. Agents within the target area enabled the group to furnish information on the location of a munitions storage area, routes of march, and river traffic within the triangle.

Intelligence support organic to the five tactical units participating in the operation came from their military intelligence detachments and special operations units working with the divisions and separate brigades. Communications security teams also were deployed to the forward command posts to assist the commander in maintaining security of friendly communications. Prisoner-of-war and detainee interrogation sections established refugee screening camps in the forward base camps. All civilians within the area of operations were detained, and literally thousands of refugees were screened each day. Before deployment, the interrogation teams received detailed briefings from both order of battle and imagery interpretation personnel who provided aerial photographs with overlays for the interrogators to use as a base for questioning. Prisoner detention facilities were set up and counterintelligence and interrogation personnel worked in consonance. Counterintelligence personnel checked the blacklist while the interrogations were going on and obtained positive leads on many individuals who either provided information on enemy units and installations or proved to be Viet Cong themselves. They also accompanied local medical teams into the surrounding area and questioned the local populace for information on ` enemy intentions and dispositions.

Imagery interpretation and order of battle personnel worked together to provide hard targets to the attacking units. Month-old photographs of the entire area of operations were received from the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support). Apparent targets on these photos were rechecked and rephotographed by Army and Air Force aerial reconnaissance elements. New photographs were compared with order of battle holdings, and updated intelligence then was passed to the various G-2's for exploitation by infantry troops.

As a result of CEDAR FALLS, the Viet Cong command committee of the military region-consisting of the region commander and the chiefs of the military, political, and rear-service staffs-dispersed and were not heard from for a long time. In fact, friendly


forces later produced the personal effects of these individuals including their wallets, toilet gear, and notebooks bearing top secret classification. The capture of the classified files of both the military and political staffs of Military Region IV seriously disrupted their efforts, as did the uprooting of the logistical operations and the capture of food and medical supplies.

In retrospect, CEDAR FALLS was nothing less than a significant victory in terms of casualties inflicted upon the enemy and materiel and rice stores captured or destroyed. More important was the vast amount of intelligence raw material that it produced. The term raw material is advanced advisedly, since many of the intelligence sources and documents turned up during the operation were usable on the spot by document exploiters and interrogators attached to the task force. Much of the exploitation of military intelligence, however, took place outside of the immediate tactical area-for the most part in the combined centers in Saigon.

General Seaman characterized this operation as the "biggest intelligence breakthrough in the war." During the course of the action in the Iron Triangle, 213 enemy were detained and, in addition, 512 suspects and 518 ralliers were held for interrogation. All the intelligence these sources provided was relayed at once to commanders in the field and to '.Military Assistance Command. Twelve valuable sources were sent to the Combined Military Interrogation Center for further exploitation by U.S. And South Vietnamese intelligence. Among the CEDAR FALLS detainees interrogated at the combined center was the operations officer of Military Region IV, who, in addition to being captured carrying about two pounds of documents, proved to be a lucrative source of information himself. Another important detainee, a high-level Viet Cong political cadre member, was initially uncooperative. He made the mistake of bragging about his background as a graduate of Moscow University, however, and the J-2 computers in Saigon soon produced his complete personal history statement. Many of the region intelligence files we captured had detailed accounts of its activities from 1962 to 1966; contained Viet Cong unit strength figures, personnel rosters, and areas of operation of specific units; and yielded valuable data on future operations. In addition, two thousand personal history statements of Communist cadre members were seized, leading to the arrest of a number of enemy agents operating in Saigon and other areas. Perhaps the most significant find was a copy of the 12th resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist party of North Vietnam which first announced direct intervention in the Republic of Vietnam by North Viet-


namese troops. In all, over 490,000 pages of captured documents were sent to the Combined Document Exploitation Center; more than 52,000 of these were found to be of significant intelligence value.

Some 3,700 tons of rice-enough to feed five regiments for a year-were either destroyed or confiscated. Engineer elements, in addition to their massive jungle-clearing operations, destroyed over 1,000 bunkers, 424 separate tunnel complexes, and 509 structures. Seven hundred twenty enemy were killed and 555 individual weapons along with 23 crew-served weapons were captured between 8 and 26 January.

The Viet Cong themselves later admitted in highly classified reports that the operation constituted a disaster for them. The over-all intelligence value of the operation was unparalleled in the records of U.S. military efforts in Vietnam up to that time. Aside from all this, CEDAR FALLS was important as an outstanding example of the manner and means of intelligence support from the inception to the conclusion of a combat operation. The success of such operations in a war in which sound intelligence meant so much reflected the close cooperation between tactical units and the intelligence elements supporting them. All parties demonstrated a mutual understanding of requirements and the capabilities and limitations involved in the collection, processing, and use of intelligence.


page created 8 January 2003

Previous Chapter        Next Chapter

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online