SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Images from this article were used with permission in a documentary film for the German Broadcaster ZDF entitled The Power of Music. Portions of this article appear in the journal GEOPOLITICS in an article about Psywar in Vietnam. In 2022, illustrations from this article were used in an article on Staff Sergeant Pedro Cruz for the magazine THIS WEEK IN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE HISTORY. In August 2022, parts of this article were used as a reference source in a Facebook presentation called “A Saving Grace: A Unique Story of Vietnam” on the origin of the CIA black radio station Mother Vietnam. International relations lecturer and author Jeffrey Whyte requested the use of images from this article in publishing a book titled THE BIRTH OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR. In February 2023 I was contacted by a popular war game called SOG: PRARIE FIRE that wants to add some PSYOP to its play. I gave them permission to use images from this article.
U.S. PSYOP Units Locations in Vietnam
|4th PSYOP Group||7th PSYOP Battalion||8th PSYOP Battalion||6th PSYOP Battalion||10th PSYOP Battalion|
|Location||Da Nang||Pleiku & Na Trang||Bien Hoa||Can Tho|
|Area of Responsibility||
|II Corp||III Corp||IV Corp|
The story of psychological operations (PSYOP) in Vietnam is difficult to relate. There were a host of originators of propaganda and the lines of authority and control are difficult to unravel and chart. I have made an attempt in this article to outline the order of battle (OB) as it has been published in official and other documents. This is an ongoing project and one that I hope the readers will help me to finish. It is a labor of love. The data is from official records, published books, magazines, field manuals, interviews, and anecdotes. I believe it is fairly accurate, but I am sure that there are many omissions. I ask any reader who can add to this story to write to me at the address below. I will be happy to add any data that will make this story more complete.
World War Two PSYOP Activity in Vietnam
During WWII, the Viet Minh troops fought alongside American OSS agents against the Japanese. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. PSYOP Specialist Patrick Smith found this leaflet that was allegedly drawn by Ho Chi Minh and distributed in 1944 and 1945 to the populace, informing them how to rescue American service-members. We cannot say for sure that Ho designed it, but we do know that he was known to have worked as an illustrator. Some of the captions to the panels are:
U.S Army is our friend
To save U.S pilot, will be rewarded by Viet Minh
The plane got shot down
Found by people
Give clothes to pilot
Hide the pilot in a secret place
Report to Viet Minh
Viet Minh will send an armed group to escort him
The pilot will be escorted to safety
In Let the Dogs Bark: The Psychological War in Vietnam, 1960-1968, Viet Minh pro-American propaganda leaflets are mentioned:
The Viet Minh issued their own leaflets encouraging aid to American pilots downed over Vietnam and conducted a propaganda campaign to serve their own agenda. Shortly before leaving Kunming to return to Vietnam, Ho asked for and was given an autographed picture of General Clair Chennault, Commander of the Flying Tigers. Ho also made a seemingly insignificant request for several Colt .45 caliber pistols. The staff promptly provide several freshly unpacked ones to Ho. According to an OSS agent, once back in Vietnam, he made use of these props at a meeting of leaders from the various resistance groups. He gave each of the leaders one of the pistols as a present. The leaders assumed that Chennault had sent these present personally. After this conference there was never any more talk about who was the top leader.
The American Office of War Information was also active in Indochina. Let the dogs Bark adds:
The Americans began dropping leaflets over Hanoi in summer 1944…Leaflets were printed in French on one side and Vietnamese on the other and were reported to be very popular. “Those who are unable to read take them to someone who can.” In fact, leaflets were bought and sold in the bazaar, the common price being one piaster. By winter, the OWI was producing 29,000 leaflets and newsletters a month. Overall, the Kunming Station printed close to one million leaflets by the end of the war. From the start of the war until May 1945. It dropped only four million leaflets into Indochina. In the last three months of the war, it dropped nearly three time that number.
American Office of War Information Leaflet AFA-108
This is an American Soldier – He is your Friend
The American Office of War Information leaflets dropped on Vietnam (at that time called Indochina) were coded AFA. The country was controlled by the French at the start of the war with the language called Annamite, so it is possible the code meant something like American [for] French Annamite. I have several and they are all very well done, usually showing a military image of some sort, whether historical or modern. The 5 July 1945 OWI leaflet above depicts an American soldier. The purpose was to show the local people what the Americans looked like, explain what they were doing there, and secure assistance for them if needed. The text on the back is long so I will just translate part of the message:
Study well the picture on this leaflet. It is that of a friend. When you see him and his comrades, you will know that American troops have landed in Indochina to help you drive out the common enemy, the Japanese. The American Army is strong and well-equipped. It has long experience in fighting this cruel and treacherous enemy. Nevertheless, it will need your help to defeat the Japanese quickly and with as little destruction of civilian life and as possible. Be ready to give the Americans all the assistance in your power. They come not as invaders but as friends. There only purpose is to defeat the Japanese.
The Office of Strategic Services was also busy, but had less success:
OSS agents sought to expand their role in propaganda aimed at Vietnam. However, rivalries among French, Chinese, Vietnamese, and conventional U.S. forces hampered OSS ability to implement operations in Vietnam.
WWII Anti-Japanese Viet Minh Leaflet
This very early Viet Minh guerrilla leaflet asks the Vietnamese people to resist the Japanese confiscation of their rice. The text is:
Dear our fellowmen!
The Japanese are collecting rice and grain again. They want to starve us all.
- Tell each other to keep the grain; do not give them to the enemy.
- Protest; ask to be allowed to sell rice as in the past.
- Go to the government offices and ask for rice.
- Attack the rice convoys and attack the Japanese grain depots.
- Forward! Beat back the Japanese for a better life.
French Propaganda Leaflet for the Viet Minh
This leaflet depicts a peaceful
Vietnamon the left and a war-torn on the right. Vietnam
The Time Has Arrived and We Must Choose
Vietnam: . Freedom. Independence : Slavery. Communist Vietnam China
: From 1940, the Viet Minh, communist guerillas headed by Ho Chi Minh, fought the Japanese occupiers, and in August 1945, the Viet Minh gained control over a Japanese-sponsored government. Vietnam France, seeking to re-establish its colonial power in the area, fought nationalist and communist forces from 1946 to 1954, when, on 8 May 1954, Francewas defeated at Dien Bien Phu. Vietnamwas divided at the 17th Parallel into North and South by a accord on 21 July 1954. Ho Chi Minh's communists took over the north and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; in the south, Ngo Dinh Diem established the Geneva . From 1954 on, the North attempted to conquer the South. Republicof Vietnam
The Communist and nationalist Ho Chi Minh is an interesting character. Ex-PSYOP Trooper Mervyn Edwin Roberts III, PhD, mentions Ho in depth in: Let the Dogs Bark: The Psychological War in Vietnam, 1960-1968, forthcoming from the University Press of Kansas, 2018:
Born Nguyen Sinh Con in French Indochina (Vietnam), and later going by Nguyen Tat Thanh, he spent decades learning the skills of the propagandist under yet another alias, Nguyen Ai Quoc. By the time of the wars for Vietnamese independence, he had adopted his most famous name of all: Ho Chi Minh. He eventually became fluent in Chinese, French, English and Russian. He eventually settled in France and began a career writing propaganda for French and Vietnamese journals. He also lived for a period in Great Britain, teaching himself English. Ho helped establish the French Communist Party in 1920. Around 1923, Ho traveled to the Soviet Union and joined the Communist International (Comintern). By September 1924, the Comintern assigned Ho to Canton, China where he worked and taught at the Peasant Movement Training Institute in Canton. By 1930, Ho Chi Minh returned to Hong Kong. British police arrested him in July 1931 (under the name Sung Man Cho). As WWII approached, future general Vo Nguyen Giap, looked to China for inspiration on military matters, Ho carefully struck a balance between Soviet and Chinese support. In May 1941, Ho formed the League for the Independence of Vietnam, Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi, normally abbreviated as Viet Minh. By the end of WWII Ho styled himself as the kindly khaki-clad Uncle Ho, winning admiration among the Vietnamese people as well as OSS officers.
French Propaganda leaflet for the Viet Minh
This leaflet depicts Stalin holding Ho Chi Minh on leash while kicking a Viet Minh soldier and forcing him forward to attack a French-Vietnamese fort.
Hurry up stupid!
The French Dare the Vietnamese to attack Dien Bien Phu
Vo Quoc Tuan, an independent researcher on the Battle of Dien Bien Phu sent me this leaflet which was allegedly written by the French Commander in Dien Bien Phu to Viet Minh Commander Vo Nguyen Giap in January 1954 after he learned the Viet Minh had aborted a planned attack. 150,000 copies of this leaflet coded 25/PTNV/G.P. were printed. The “G.P.” part in the leaflet code seems to indicate "PSYWAR,” in French, GUERRE PSYCHOLOGIQUE. The leaflets were airdropped over the enemy troops.
COLONEL DE CASTRIES,
COMMANDER OF THE DIEN BIEN PHU COMBAT BASE,
RESPECTFULLY TOGENERAL VO NGUYEN GIAP.
General, to contend with a few battalions of mine in DIEN BIEN PHU, you have gathered your four most elite divisions along with formidable weapons that you have recently received. Yet as of today you have still not sent them into battle.
General, you have promised to your troops and your population that they would celebrate Tet in DIEN BIEN PHU. Tet is almost here!
General, what are you still waiting for?
You consider this battle to be the one determining the fate of the war between our two sides.
General, do you not firmly believe in victory?
General, are you no longer confident of the merit of your generals and the morale of your troops?
You have promised, you should keep your word. You have appealed to your troops to have faith in you, so do not disappoint them.
General, you should not be afraid of losing face to your troops.
General, your troops, speaking from my military standpoint, display a bravery that I must admire.
General, you are invited to come, I am waiting for you!
My first thought after reading this leaflet was “Be careful with what you wish for.” On the other hand, General De Castries said after the battle that he was not the author of the challenge. He said it was written and forwarded from Saigon.
Ngo Dinh Diem
Nguyen Cao Ky
Nguyen Van Thieu
There have been questions about why President Eisenhower never supported a free election in
and a CIA report indicates it was because of faith in Diem. Some comments found in Thomas Aherns declassified Center for the Study of Intelligence secret publication: The House of Ngo Covert Action in South Vietnam 1954-1963 are: Vietnam
Ngo Dinh Diem's attractiveness to his first American patrons derived from three qualities: he was a certified anti-Communist nationalist, he was a Roman Catholic, and he understood English.
After the partition of
Vietnamwith the Agreements of 1954, the Eisenhower administration began to directly support the government in the South headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. President Eisenhower, in a letter to Diem, promised to help Diem maintain a "strong, viable state capable of resisting outside aggression." Armed with this support, in July 1954, Diem rejected the reunification elections provided for in the Geneva GenevaAgreements and declared a republic with himself as president. The CIA, although pessimistic about establishing a stable, civilian regime in South Vietnam , nevertheless set about assisting Diem in creating a new state. South Vietnam
Martin F. Herz adds in The Vietnam War in Retrospect:
The Geneva Conference was attended by the USSR, China, Great Britain, France, the United States, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam. The United States only declared that it would not disturb the agreement. Otherwise, it wanted nothing to do with it. But the most important aspect that is often overlooked is that South Vietnam refused to sign it as well. It was generally regarded as a creation of the French that would disappear in short order, but it showed a surprising independence from the French by denouncing the agreement and especially the part calling for elections in 1956, because there were no provisions for international supervision to ensure that these elections would be free. Shortly after Geneva the South Vietnamese government showed even more independence by forcing the abdication of the French puppet emperor Bao Dai and asking the French to get out.
Roberts mentions Diem in: Let the Dogs Bark:
Ngo Dinh Diem was an intelligent, active, and independent nationalist leader, as well as a fierce anti-communist. Diem, the son of a Royal Court official in Hue, graduated first in his class in 1921 from the prestigious School of Administration, and became a junior official in Thua Thien province near Hue. Diem was Minister of the Interior in Emperor Bao Dais cabinet before World War II, but resigned in protest over French failure to grant the Emperor sufficient authority. Diem detested the Communists. He led counterinsurgency sweeps against them as province chief. His attitude likely intensified when the Viet Minh executed one of his brothers during the 1945 Revolution. The Viet Minh also imprisoned Diem during the chaos of 1945, until Ho ordered his release in an attempt to rally nationalists to the cause. The Vietnamese nationalists represented by Ngo Dinh Diem, constructed their own system, one based on Armed Propaganda Teams and agit-prop focusing on nationalist themes. The Diem forces had to create a national identity. This task was more difficult due to his connection with the French colonial power prior to 1954.
Diem presented himself as a progressive reformer who believed that U.S. aid and expertise would figure prominently in Vietnams postcolonial future. However, Diem rigorously maintained his independence. Diem worried that an influx of Americans would develop a colonial mentality among the South Vietnamese, and that local officials would defer to the American on the scene. Diem wanted to limit the role of the United States.
In September 1954, right after the Geneva Accords were signed on 20 July 1954, dividing Vietnam into north and south at the 17th parallel, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote to the new Prime Minister of the Bao Dai government, Ngo Dinh Diem, promising United States support to ensure a noncommunist Vietnam. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy authorized sending an additional 500 Special Forces troops and military advisors to assist the pro-Western government of South Vietnam. By the end of 1962, there were approximately 11,000 military advisors in South Vietnam; that year, 53 US military personnel had been killed. A good friend of mine in Special Forces school was pulled out before finishing the course and sent to Vietnam as a Ranger advisor to fill the ranks of “Green Berets” needed in Vietnam. The president would soon send additional military advisors to support the South Vietnamese Army. By the end of 1963, the numbers had risen to 16,000.
T-28 Trojan Farm Gate operations focused on reconnaissance, surveillance, interdiction, and close air support.
Farm Gate’s SC-47s conducted “PSYOP” leaflet and loudspeaker missions.
B-26 Invader Farm Gate operations focused on reconnaissance, surveillance, interdiction, and close air support.
In the early 1960s, the U.S. armed forces were developing units specifically designed to counter guerrilla warfare. The first United States Air Force (USAF) unit of this nature was the 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron code named JUNGLE JIM that were later renamed the 1st Air Commando Wing. Crews were trained to fly the T-28 Trojan, C-47 Skytrain and B-26 Invader. The code name for the 4400th CCTS and its mission was FARM GATE. The SC-47s began flying airdrop and PSYOP leaflet and loudspeaker broadcast missions to forward bases where the United States Army's Special Forces teams were working with the rapidly growing South Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Groups. On 11 February 1962, a Farm Gate SC-47 on a leaflet drop mission crashed, killing the six airmen, two soldiers and one Vietnamese crewman on board. This was the first of several Farm Gate losses
In 1956 the Viet Cong, aided by North Vietnam, pressed war in the south, and South Vietnam began receiving U.S. aid. Large-scale North Vietnamese troop infiltrations of the south began in 1964, with the support of China and the Soviet Union. Masses of troops were stationed in border areas of Laos and Cambodia.
Ho was quick to travel to China to look for military aid. Some of this is found in China's Involvement in the Vietnam War, 1964-69. Chen Jian wrote about “China's Involvement in the Vietnam War, 1964-69” for The China Quarterly, No. 142 (June 1995), pages. 356-387, Published by the Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of Oriental and African Studies. It shows the great number of men and material sent to Vietnam during the early days of the Vietnam War:
After Ho Chi Minh’s trip to China, Van Tien Dung visited Beijing in early June 1965. His meetings with Luo Ruiqing finalized the guiding principles and concrete details of China's support to Vietnam under different circumstances. If the war remained in its current status, that is, the United States was directly involved in military operations in the South while using only air force to bombard the North, the Vietnamese would fight the war by themselves, and China would offer military and material support in ways that the Vietnamese had chosen. If the Americans used their naval and air forces to support a South Vietnamese invasion of the North, China would send its air and naval forces to support North Vietnamese operations. If American land forces were directly involved in invading the North, China would use its land forces as the strategic reserves for the Vietnamese and carry on operation tasks whenever necessary. Dung and Luo also had detailed discussions about the actual form China's military involvement would take in different situations. If the Chinese air force was to enter the war, the first choice would be to use Chinese volunteer pilots and Vietnamese planes in operations; the second choice would be to station Chinese pilots and planes on Vietnamese air fields, and enter operations there; and the third choice would be to adopt the "Andong model," that is, when engaging in military operations, Chinese pilots and planes would take off from and return to bases in China. Andong is a border city on the Yalu. During the Korean War, Chinese and Soviet air forces used bases on the China side of the Sino-Korean border to fight the American air force over northern Korea. This was known as the "Andong model." If Chinese land forces were to be used in operations in Vietnam, they would basically serve as a reserve force; but, if necessary, Chinese troops would participate in fighting. Luo emphasized that the Chinese would enter operations in any of the above forms in accordance with the actual situation.
From 1965 to 1969, China's support of Vietnam took three main forms: the engagement of Chinese engineering troops in the construction and maintenance of defense works, airfields, roads, and railways in North Vietnam; the use of Chinese anti-aircraft artillery troops in the defense of important strategic areas and targets in the northern part of North Vietnam; and the supply of large amounts of military equipment and other military and civil materials. During Ho Chi Minh's meeting with Mao Zedong in Changsha on 16 May 1965, Ho personally asked Mao to commit China's strength to the construction of 12 roads in North Vietnam, to which Mao agreed. Following Mao's instructions, the Chinese General Staff quickly worked out a preliminary plan to send around 100,000 Chinese engineering troops to Vietnam for road construction.
From early August 1965 to March 1969, a total of 16 divisions (63 regiments) of Chinese anti-aircraft artillery units, with a total strength of over 150,000, engaged in operations in Vietnam.
China offered material support to Vietnamese troops stationed in upper Laos in 1967. The total number of Vietnamese troops there, as claimed by the Vietnamese side, was 1,870. In addition to weapons and other military equipment, China pledged to equip the Vietnamese forces right down to the level of supplies for personal hygiene: 5,500 sets of uniforms, 5,500 pairs of shoes, 550 tons of rice (0.8 kilogram per person daily), 55 tons of pork meat (2.4 kilogram per person monthly), 20 tons of salt, 20 tons of fish, 20 tons of sesame and peanuts, 20 tons of white sugar, 6.5 tons of soy sauce, 8,000 toothbrushes, 11,000 bottles of toothpaste, 24,000 pieces of regular soap, 10,600 pieces of scented soap, and 74,000 cases of cigarettes. Altogether, the agreement covered 687 different items, including such things as ping pong balls, volley balls, pens, mouth organs and sewing needles. It reflects the magnitude of China's support for the Vietnamese.
Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl discusses the inadequacies of the
United StatesArmy in Vietnamin Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian, Osprey , 2008. He says: Publishing, UK
The United States entered the Vietnam War with a military trained and equipped to fight a conventional war in Europe, and totally unprepared for the counterinsurgency campaign it was about to wage.
Beginning in late 1963 with the assassination of longtime President Ngo Dinh Diem, the South experienced a series of military coups. The last of these was headed by Nguyen Cao Ky, who assumed control in June 1965, and who was replaced in 1967 by Nguyen Van Thieu in South Vietnam's first presidential election.
Operation Junction City was a great 1967 victory for the Americans. General Weyand had this to say in his Commander's Evaluation:
During Junction City we dropped 9,768,000 leaflets and made 102 hours of aerial loudspeaker appeals. The major engagements of 20, 21 and 31 March 1967 were followed up with a wide variety of "quick-reaction" leaflets. They showed photographs of VC dead and contained surrender appeals to the survivors. A specially designed memorandum addressed to the Commanding General of the 9th Viet Cong Division was reproduced and distributed as a leaflet to further exploit our success of 20 March. A newsletter exploiting VC casualties and explaining the role of our forces was distributed throughout the III Corps Tactical Zone.
Our military civic action projects supported the overall PSYOP effort. They added credibility to our central propaganda theme: The Viet Cong/ North Vietnamese Army destroy; the Government of Vietnam/United States Free World Military Armed Forces helps the people.
Leaflet 88 depicts two of the leaders of the Republic of Vietnam after Diem, Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky. It is one of the very few that features
The back of the leaflet is bordered in the yellow and three red stripes of the national flag. The text is quite long. Some of the more pertinent comments are: Ky.
DEAR COMPATRIOTS OF
On the occasion of the inauguration of the new President and Vice President of the
, the people and the government of the South send their brotherly greetings to the kith-and-kin compatriots of the North and their sincere wishes for an early return to peace in our beloved country. Republicof Vietnam
The people and government of the South have made great efforts in the past years, despite savage sabotage by the Communists, to build a democratic society in the South in which the citizens are free to make a living and to speak about their righteous aspirations.
Another leaflet featuring Thieu was printed by the 4th PSYOP Group in 1969. He seen giving a speech at a lectern on the front and the text is:
1969, YEAR OF CONSOLIDATION AND SELF-STRENGTHENING
The back is all text:
On April 7, 1969, in an annual opening address to the first session of the Parliament, President Thieu declared 1969 to be The Year of Consolidation and Self-strengthening.
To that end, all services of the Army of Vietnam have rapidly grown in strength, and training and equipment have gradually seized the initiative in the war in South Vietnam.
As a result, the situation has now allowed the ARVN to replace the US forces.
The withdrawal of 25,000 US servicemen that the Presidents’ Thieu and Nixon announced at the Midway Conference is strong evidence of the rapid development of the ARVN, as well as of the good will of the RVN and the US government in seeking peace for Vietnam.
Nguyen Cao Ky was a dashing pilot who liked to walk around wearing his flight suit. He was quite the charmer and a close friend of mine who flew with him told me that he presented all the pilots with chrome-plated .357 pistols. The CIA did not think highly of Ky according to Thomas Aherns declassified secret publication entitled. CIA and the Generals: Covert Support to Military Government in
: South Vietnam
As of June 1965, Station contacts depicted a first-class pilot and a poor administrator whose genuine charisma had given Air Force morale a dramatic boost when he became its commander in late 1963. He was also a thrill seeker and risk taker, according to intimates, renowned for his drinking, gambling, and an endless' succession of girlfriends; he also indulged a penchant for insubordination.
In return, Ky did not think very kindly of his American allies. He said at various times:
I am not bitter about America's involvement here, but I am bitter about the fact that her policy makers never listened to my advice. That is a glaring weakness with American foreign policy. Washington politicians and bureaucrats think they know more than the natives of a country like Vietnam. That is the arrogance of Washington and in my opinion it is an attitude that will always get America into trouble in countries they know very little about
I have consistently told Washington you cannot win a defensive war in Vietnam when the other side is engaged in an offensive war. By fighting a limited, defensive war, the U.S. allowed the North Vietnamese to continuously re-supply their units in the field.
The worst thing that happened to South Vietnam was when we allowed the United States to take control of our war with the North. Long before America decided to quit the war, I realized that this would be the inevitable result of Americas lack of commitment to victory. I offered to lead a South Vietnamese attack on North Vietnam, which was defended by a single division of regular troops. All I required from the US was air support.
Nguyen Cao Ky, the flamboyant former air force general who ruled South Vietnam for two years during the Vietnam War died on 23 July 2011. He was 80. Ky died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was being treated for a respiratory complication.
President Nixon was not exactly a solid supporter of Thieu. Carolyn Page mentions a comment by the American President in U.S. Official Propaganda during the Vietnam War, 1965-1973, Leicester University Press, London, 1996:
I was aware that many Americans considered Thieu a petty and corrupt dictator unworthy of our support. I was not personally attached to Thieu, but I looked at the situation in practical terms. As I saw it, an alternative to Thieu was not someone more enlightened or tolerant or democratic but someone weaker who would not be able to hold together the contentious factions in
. The South Vietnamese needed a strong and stable government to carry on the fight against the efforts of the Viet Cong terrorists, who were supported by the North Vietnamese Army in their efforts to impose a Communist dictatorship on the 17 million people of South Vietnam . South Vietnam
Handout 2653 -
This July 1968 Joint
United StatesPublic Affairs Office handout depicts an 8 x 10-inch photograph of the . This building was the workplace of the Presidents of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. On 27 February 1962, two anti-Diem government pilots flying Independence Palace DouglasA-1 Skyraiders bombed the building in a futile attempt at assassinating the president. On 8 April 1975, it was bombed again by a South Vietnamese pilot flying a Northrop F5E Tiger II aircraft. The palace was the site of the official handover of power during the fall of Saigonon 30 April 1975 after a North Vietnamese tank knocked down the main gate. The North Vietnamese renamed it . Reunification Palace
Lieutenant General Duong Van (Big) Minh
There is no code on this leaflet so it is impossible to say if it was prepared by the Americans or the Vietnamese. However, the text would lead me to believe that this is a Vietnamese product. Minh led the South Vietnamese army under Prime Minister Diem. After the assassination he led
Vietnamfor three months before being replaced, and briefly led again in 1975 before surrendering the nation to the North Vietnamese Communists. He got the nickname, Big Minh, because he was six feet tall and weighed 198 pounds. It also distinguished him from General Tran Van (Little) Minh. South Vietnam
The front depicts a photograph of Big Minh and the text:
Lieutenant General Duong Van Minh
Chairman of the Revolutionary Soldiers Committee.
The back shows a scene of tanks and people in front of the Presidential palace and the text:
Commemorate the Success of the 1-11-1963 Revolution.
, after a night of smoke and fighting was finally assaulted and Gia Long Palace
occupied by Revolutionary troops to end a dictatorial, corrupt and anarchist regime.
It is interesting to note that few propaganda leaflets picture Diem. There are some Vietnamese who believe that he was the only leader who had the will and strength to defeat the Communists. It is also interesting to note that after Diems assassination, a number of Allied leaflets were prepared that attacked the former president and promised better times. The
quickly turned on its old ally. For instance, leaflet SP-65 depicts General Duong-van-Minh (Chairman of the Revolutionary Council) and Prime Minister Nguyen Ngoc. It says in part: United States
The new government of
, which overthrew the regime of the Ngo family, has been in existence only since November 1, 1963. Already much progress has been made. Many great plans are being prepared which will benefit the people of the rural areas Vietnam
Leaflet SP-71 adds:
The despotic government of the Ngo Dinh Diem family was put to an end by the November 1 revolution. This transitory period of the national history is enthusiastically welcomed by all countrymen.
An Early Allied Uncoded Leaflet
In another article I mentioned Special Forces leaflets. These were uncoded leaflets prepared for the Viet Cong or Vietnamese people before the various PSYOP detachments, companies, battalions, and group arrived. Some were crude, some were quite handsome. Above I show a leaflet that we know little about. It seems to be nation-building, that is, it explains that if the military accidentally kills an ox there is a way to be paid for the loss. These themes were common after Diem was murdered when the generals wanted a loyal population. I suspect this might be earlier. The text at the left and right is:
If your livestock, home, or possessions are destroyed during a military operation…
You should report this to the hamlet, village, or district authorities.
The translator thinks this was part of a booklet since there are staple marks that I have deleted. He adds that the leaflet was from Facebook’s Vietnam History Forum. It tells people that if they reported their losses of livestock, homes, or possession because of U.S. and Republic of Vietnam operations they will receive compensation. The problem is that according to the individual who possesses this leaflet, William Taylor (Charlie Company / 1st Battalion/3rd Marine Division), they would not give the people anything for their losses.
That is odd, because I have seen American leaflets that offered payments for any damage caused by American vehicles, and of course everyone is aware that to keep on the good side of the French, they were allegedly paid for any damage to rubber trees on the Michelin plantation.
To encourage patriotism toward their nation, this 10 x 16-inch full-color poster Scroll was created by JUSPAO in August 1967 and depicts the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam. The text is:
Confident that the patriotism, indomitable will and unyielding traditions of the people will assure a radiant future for our country;
Conscious that after many years of foreign domination, followed by the division of our territory, dictatorship and war, the people of Vietnam must take responsibility before history to perpetuate those hardy traditions and at the same time to welcome progressive ideas in order to establish a republican form of government of the people. by the people and for the people whose purpose is to unite the nation, unite the territory and assure independence, freedom, and democracy with justice and altruism for the present and future generations;
We, 117 Deputies of the National Constituent Assembly representing the people of Vietnam, after debate, approve this constitution.
An Uncoded Leaflet for the Viet Cong
Whenever we see an uncoded leaflet like this we know it is early, probably before 1967. The Special Forces were printing leaflets as were some detachments assigned to Vietnam. The codes came later with the Companies and Battalions. The text on this leaflet is:
This is the Viet Cong’s support system / and this is the ARVN soldier's support system.
In 1964, following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the United States began air strikes against the North. Increased activity followed in 1965, including the use of ground troops. Failure of U.S. and South Vietnamese efforts and disputes in the U.S. over war aims led Richard Nixon in July 1969 to cease bombings of the North and to begin a series of U.S. troop withdrawals referred to as "Vietnamization." U.S. bombings of the North resumed in 1972-73. A cease-fire was negotiated in Paris in January 1973, but it was never implemented. U.S. aid was curbed by Congress in 1974. Increasing attacks from the North overwhelmed the remaining government outposts in the Central Highlands, and the Saigon government surrendered on 30 April 1975. A Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with capital in
Hanoi, was established throughout Vietnam.
Laos: Laosregained independence from on 19 July 1949 as a constitutional monarchy. The nation consisted of political ideologies from communist to conservative to neutralist. The Communist forces were made up of Prince Chao Souphanouvong (The Red Prince), Kaysone Phomvihane, the Pathet Lao and their North Vietnamese allies (supported by Red China and the France ). The pro-Western forces included King Savang Vatthana, Prince Boun Oum, General Phoumi Nosavan and the Hmong guerrillas and militia led by General Vang Pao (backed secretly by the U.S. Government and the Central Intelligence Agency). The neutralists consisted of Prince Souvanna Phouma, General Kong Le, and the Royal Lao Government. Conflicts among neutralist, communist, and conservative factions led to increasingly chaotic and violent conflicts, particularly after 1960. The formal Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos, signed on 23 July 1962, provided for a coalition government and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country by 7 October. The three factions then formed a coalition government with Prince Souvanna Phouma as premier. By 1964 the communist Pathet Lao had withdrawn from the coalition and renewed guerilla actions with support from USSR . The North Vietnam United Statesgot more deeply involved in Laosin an attempt to interdict the flow of traffic down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and also to pull some front-line units out of Vietnamand into . In addition, the 4500-elevation Lima Site 85 (Pha Thi) was loaded with modern electronic equipment to help the USAF in operating its missions over Laos . North Vietnam
Trail Campaign Leaflet T-16
The leaflet above is written in both Vietnamese and Lao and is addressed to Vietnamese troops in
To: North Vietnamese Soldiers Living in Laos.
You have the opportunity to escape death and live in safety and peace. The Lao Royal Government and its people will welcome and treat you as brothers. Please show this passport to any LAO soldier or civilian.
Tong Tu Lenh,
Commander in Chief of Lao Military Forces
An Air Commando who was stationed at LS-20A (Long Tieng) and LS-153 (Mouang Kassy) told me:
Those of us who fought the war from
have always considered it to have been more important than the coverage indicated. But since the whole mess was classified as never happening and those who fought there didn't exist it is no wonder that most people who are knowledgeable about the war in Laos Viet Namwill dismiss as a sideshow. Laos
was divided into five Military Regions (MR). MR I was in the northwest, including Luang Prabang and the borders with Laos Burmaand ; MR II was in the northeast, including Long Tieng, Sam Neua and Sam Thong; MR III consisted of the central panhandle region, including Savannakhet and much of the Ho Chi Minh trail. MR IV was in the south, including Pakse and the Bolovens Plateau; finally MR V consisted of the neutral zone around China . Vientiane
Early in the war there were plans to use local Lao tribes as part of an American-led resistance movement. This plan was forwarded to American Ambassador Sullivan who was concerned that it might be impossible to limit and control such an operation. Furthermore, if the resistance got into trouble there would be no way to militarily support them, which might result in their very embarrassing slaughter.
Amidst the Vietnam War in 1970, the
increased its military activities, but after Pathet Lao military gains, in May 1975 the government forces ceased fighting and the Pathet Lao took control. A Lao People's Democratic Republic, strongly influenced by U.S. , was proclaimed 3 December 1975. The Vietnam Republicof Vietnamand the United States Government directed several PSYOP campaigns targeting enemy troops in both Laosand . Cambodia
A C-47 "Gooney Bird" aircraft from the 5th Air Commando
Squadron drops thousands of propaganda leaflets over South Vietnam
Photo courtesy of Bob Cutts, Stars and Stripes, April 1968
The Combat Talon
In December 2001, the Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, released the book The Praetorian Starship - The Untold Story of the Combat Talon by retired USAF Colonel Jerry L. Thigpen. The book mentions many leaflet operations so with due respect to the author I will mention some of them in this PSYOP article.
Psychological Warfare Operations was the most successful program against North Vietnam. One of the primary means of delivery of propaganda, including the delivery of leaflets, gift kits, and portable radios, was accomplished through air assets. The rapid expansion of the Humidor program was reflected by statistics showing the number of leaflets dispersed over North Vietnam: 67 million leaflets were dropped in 1965, 142 million during 1966, and 171 million during 1967. The Humidor program was integrated with Air Operations, since aerial delivery was the principal means for delivering leaflets.
The 11-man C-130 Combat Talon crew formed the baseline for crew manning for tasked missions. For PSYOP/leaflet-drop combat missions, additional Army or Air Force personnel would sometimes fly as kickers and would assist in deploying leaflets from the ramp of the aircraft. A crew could expect to fly just over 400 hours during a 12-month tour in Southeast Asia.
A typical PSYOP combat mission entailed dropping leaflets from an altitude of 18,000 to 30,000 feet. A Combat Talon aircraft would penetrate North Vietnam by way of low-altitude, terrain-following flight, at approximately 1,000 feet. At a precomputed point on the low-level route, the aircrew would accelerate to maximum indicated airspeed with throttles at full power. The pilot would then raise the nose of the aircraft and perform a maximum effort climb to drop altitude. The aircraft would climb to the computed drop altitude or until the predeparture, computed wind vector was reached, whichever came first. The computed wind vector was sometimes found at an altitude below that planned for the drop. The wind vector was more important to a successful leaflet drop than the altitude from which the leaflet left the aircraft because drift of the leaflet determined where it would reach the ground. Once the drop was complete, the aircraft descended swiftly back into low-level terrain-following flight to minimize exposure to enemy threats.
The Combat Talon’s improved load capacity also enhanced combat missions over North Vietnam by eliminating the need to stage or refuel at Thai bases, as was the case for the C-123. Furthermore, several PSYOPS leaflet drops could be accomplished on one C-130 sortie, thus eliminating the need for multiple aircraft sorties to service the same target area. The Combat Talon could dispense approximately five million leaflets on one mission, whereas Heavy Hook (six specially modified C-123 aircraft equipped with electronic countermeasure (ECM) equipment, radar detection, and enhanced navigation) could dispense only one-half that amount.
Throughout 1967 Combat Spear and Heavy Hook aircraft flew PSYOPS/leaflet drops over North Vietnam in support of the Fact Sheet program. An average of 60 million leaflets each month was delivered to North Vietnam targets. In addition to Talon and Heavy Hook aircraft, F-4s also dropped leaflets over the North. Only 10 percent of all leaflets reached the Red River delta, however, an area that was considered by PSYOP planners as the key target for a successful PSYOP campaign. An expanded PSYOP program, code-named Frantic Goat, was proposed to Lieutenant General William M. Momyer, Seventh Air Force Commander in Chief, by his director of operations. The goal of the Frantic Goat program was to increase leaflet delivery to 100 million leaflets each month, with 60 million reaching targets in the Red River delta area. The new program permitted Combat Talon to operate in North Vietnam to 20 degrees north latitude. Entry into North Vietnam was by way of the western border, and aircraft were restricted to no closer than 20 nautical miles from the eastern coast.
In 1971 the 90th SOS increased its unit flying time, primarily because of expanded PSYOP missions into Cambodia. On 25 January the 90th SOS assumed responsibility for the aerial delivery of leaflets under the program names of Frantic Goat, Fountain Pen, and Brown Stallion.
The PSYOP campaign had its effect on the cease-fire process. The North Vietnamese became so enraged at some of the leaflets that they began naming individual leaflets delivered by the 1st SOS in their retaliatory propaganda broadcasts. Several messages were received from higher headquarters congratulating the squadron on its superior performance, the most notable of which came from Kissinger himself. In a 7 February 1973 letter, Kissinger stated: “The President greatly appreciated the very effective way the Department of Defense supported the Government’s psychological warfare campaign against North Vietnam. Among the many tasks undertaken with great dedication and professionalism, that of creating a variety of specialized leaflets and dropping them in the hundreds of millions, was a noteworthy accomplishment. These efforts contributed markedly to the success of the program designed to help bring an end to hostilities.”
Captured North Vietnamese soldiers indicated that PSYOP leaflets dropped by 1st SOS aircraft were influencing both soldiers and civilians on the ground. A North Vietnamese company commander surrendered to a South Vietnamese unit and indicated that he had personally seen the effects of leaflets, radios, and propaganda bank notes during the past year. He further stated that all were quite effective and were a deciding factor in influencing him to surrender.
During the four months prior to the January 1973 Vietnam cease-fire, when the sortie rate was increased from three each day to six, the 1st SOS flew 145 sorties and dropped more than 1.5 billion leaflets. For the entire campaign, the 1st SOS dropped more than 9.5 billion leaflets with many different themes and psychological messages directed at North Vietnam and Cambodia.
A PSYOP officer who served in 1967-1968 discussed some of the campaigns used in
against the Viet Cong moving southward on the Ho Chi Minh Trail: Laos
There was the B-52 Follow-up Program. Within four hours of a B-52 strike leaflets were dropped informing the enemy that he has been bombed by B-52s and showed him a picture of the bomber which flew so high that he would otherwise never see it. It reminded him that the bombers would come again and urged the Viet Cong to use the printed safe conduct pass on the leaflet. Another operation, the Trail Campaign was directed against military and civilian personnel who used and maintained the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Most of the Trail leaflets bore a numerical code from 1-125 and the letter T.
Readers who wish to know more about the
campaign are encouraged to check http://www.laoveterans.com/about.html . Laos
Trail Campaign Leaflet T-07.
It seems obvious that the officer is discussing Leaflet T-07. The front of the leaflet depicts a B-52 dropping bombs. The back is all text:
You will never see one of these
You probably won't hear it. It flies too high. It is a B-52 bomber, used by the South Vietnamese people's powerful American allies to blast aggressors out of their hiding places. One B-52 carries 29,700 kilos of bombs and can drop them with pin-point accuracy, dealing certain death to everyone within the target area. The B-52 can strike you at any time during all seasons and weather conditions.
Your chance to avoid this fate will come. Look for your safe conduct pass.
We should mention the fear factor produced by the B-52 bomber. Truong Nhu Tang talks about the bombers in Viet Cong Memoir. He called the strikes undiluted psychological terror. Despite having been hunted by South Vietnamese and American ground forces and having endured all of the privations and hardships associated with the life of a guerrilla, Truong Tang noted that nothing the guerrillas had to endure compared with the stark terrorization of the B-52 bombardments.
Cambodia: During late 1966 and 1967, the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) conducted an intensive PSYWAR campaign against North Vietnamese army troops located along the Cambodian border with South Vietnam. In an effort to minimize violation of Cambodian air space, MACV used the wind drift method of leaflet dissemination, whereby aircraft flew along the border and used favorable wind currents to carry leaflets into Cambodia. U.S. leaflet drops from Cambodian air space were never officially acknowledged. However, information from a recently declassified top secret report US PSYOP structure in Vietnam published in the MACVSOG Command History, Index B, 1971-1972 reported that:
Under no circumstances will anyone having knowledge about these operations acknowledge that leaflets are being dropped over Cambodia. Public comments on this subject whether on background, off the record, or any other basis are prohibited. Following line, not to be volunteered, should be used in Saigon (and will be followed in Washington) in answering any press queries on a background basis: "We have for sometime been dropping leaflets in South Vietnamese border areas, Given wind drift, we assume some of these leaflets have been falling inside Cambodia." It goes on to say: "In the event of incidents involving loss of US personnel or aircraft...spokesman may acknowledge possibility of inadvertent entry into Cambodia air space by elements operating in SVN as a result of navigational error.
Cambodian Leaflet 4-36-70
Since we mention the campaigns in
I want to add a Cambodian-language leaflet here. This all-text leaflet says: Cambodia
Attention Cambodian Friends
The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army are bringing supplies and personnel into your country and using Cambodian sanctuaries to launch attacks against the Cambodian and Vietnamese people. They have invaded the neutral nation of
. To oppose this aggression and destroy our common enemy it is necessary to bomb enemy base camps, supply routes, convoys and depots. Follow the instructions on the reverse side and you will be safe. Cambodia
Instructions for safety:
1. Stay in your homes.
2. Stay of roads, bridges, trails and waterways.
3. Stay away from enemy troops.
US PSYOP Structure in Vietnam
Leaflets Prior to the Entrance of U.S. PSYOP Units in 1965
American PSYOP leaflets appeared before the arrival of the companies, battalions and group starting about 1965. The below leaflet was used in 1964 and bears an unknown code 19. This all changed with the arrival of U.S. Army PSYOP units with their codes that identified the printer.
Leaflet 19 depicts a grinning Viet Cong walking with the village’s stolen rice and kidnapped children. The back depicts a grinning Viet Cong reaching from the north all the way down to the south where farmers peacefully work their fields. Curiously, I have also seen this leaflet with the code 39. Neither of those codes make any sense so I assume this leaflet was very early, perhaps Special Forces, before the United States standardized the codes. The text on the front is:
Stop the Viet Cong from stealing rice and crop and kidnaping youngsters.
Inform the army of the whereabouts of the Viet Cong.
The text on the back is:
This leaflet depicts a VC in the bush while behind him a giant soldier stands with glistening bayonet. The text implies it is a South Vietnamese soldier but the size and the spit-shined boots says American to me. The text is:
Soldiers of the South Vietnam National Liberation Front: All of your hiding places have been discovered by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. You can be destroyed at any time.
Other leaflets printed by Special Forces or unknown organizations bore no code numbers at all.
Propaganda and safe-conduct passes and leaflets were produced under the jurisdiction of the Joint U. S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO). JUSPAO was formed in July 1965, following 11 years of increasingly uncoordinated and inefficient psychological operations that began in summer of 1954 during Vietnam's transition from French rule. JUSPAO was given authority for all propaganda activities in an effort to end disputes and lack of coordination between Americans and Vietnamese and between American military and civilian agencies.
Major Marcus S. Welch says in Irregular Pen and Limited Sword: Psywar, Psyop, and Miso in Counterinsurgency, Pennyhill Press:
JUSPAO was a complex organization, consisting of five major departments: Office of the Director, Information, Cultural Affairs, North Vietnamese Affairs, Technical Services, and Field Development. JUSPAO was sizable; at its peak it possessed a staff of over six hundred American and Vietnamese employees, rivaling its military counterparts. Apart from JUSPAOs executive responsibilities, the organization conducted PSYOP in direct and advisory roles, primarily using mass media outlets such as the Republic of Vietnams Voice of Freedom and the overt US Voice of America radio stations. JUSPAO delved into television, supporting Truyen Hinh Viet Nam, a Government of Vietnam television station, in 1965. Similarly, JUSPAO created a number of printed products such as the Ngon Song newspaper, and the Huong Que, Gioi Tu-Do, Long Ne, and Van Tac Vu magazines. Synchronization and coordination were also the responsibilities of JUSPAO.
Dr. Raymond A. Millen says about JUSPAO in Death by a Thousand Cuts: Weakening an Insurgency through a National Reconciliation Program Three Case Studies: Malaya, Vietnam, and Iraq, US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, May 2020:
The establishment of the Joint US Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) coincided with the US military intervention in mid-1965. JUSAPAO served as the clearing house for psychological operations vis-à-vis the Chieu Hoi program. As such, JUSPAO established a unity of effort for propaganda efforts among pertinent organizations, such as the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Military Assistance Command—Vietnam, US Information Agency, USAID, CIA, and RVN government agencies. Due to the success of the Chieu Hoi program in the late 1960s, the Ministry of Chieu Hoi assumed complete responsibility of JUSPAO in July 1971 and continued all programs associated with its psychological operations [Note: As the Americans began withdrawing due to the policy of Vietnamization].
An undated, unsigned, document was found in the archives of The United States Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, titled, Current Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam. This document gives a very detailed description of JUSPAO so although I do not know the document’s origin, I thought I would add it here.
In the years prior to 1965, psychological operations in the Republic of Vietnam were relatively disorganized. The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, the United States Information Service, and the United States Agency for International Development all operated, to some degree, in the psychological field in an independent manner. The lack of a central control agency for the U.S. PYSOP policy guidance and staff supervision precluded the development of effective, integrated national programs to support the Republic of Vietnam's efforts to influence the attitudes of the populace. In 1965 the National Security Council recommended the establishment of a single agency that would be charged with the "substantive direction" of all U.S. propaganda activities in the Republic of Vietnam. This recommendation was approved and implemented.
In 1965 the Joint United States Public Affairs Agency was chartered and given responsibility for all U.S. PSYOP in-country efforts. JUSPAO, as this agency quickly became known, developed a specific order of priorities for propaganda in the Republic of Vietnam. These priorities were coordinated with, and concurred in, by the South Vietnamese. The development of a meaningful Government of Vietnam image was, and is, considered of paramount importance. In addition to the priority given to the Government of Vietnam image, JUSPAO also assigned high priority to the Chieu Hoi, or amnesty program, established in 1963. The third, fourth, and fifth priorities established by JUSPAO concern essentially the same subject; that is, revolutionary development, the refugee program, and public safety.
The development of a meaningful Government of Vietnam image was, and is, considered of paramount importance. Logically, if the population of the Republic of Vietnam collectively developed favorable attitudes toward there central governing authority, the relative power of the Viet Cong would be reduced to an ineffective level. JUSPAO initiated a comprehensive and long-range program to support this concept.
In addition to the priority given to the Government of Vietnam image, JUSPAO also assigned high priority to the Chieu Hoi, or amnesty program, established in 1963. The 80,000 individuals who have taken advantage of this amnesty program attest to the validity of this operation.
The third, fourth, and fifth priorities established by JUSPAO concern essentially the same subject; that is, revolutionary development, the refugee program, and public safety must be considered as a single entity, not as fragmented, separate parts. This premise finds its validity in the fact that much of the population of the Republic of Vietnam can be classified as refugee; that the revolutionary development program is a communication vehicle designed to develop strong institutions at the "rice-root" level; and, that public safety, or security, is the prerequisite for any effective counter-Viet Cong activity.
The U.S. image was established as one of the national PSYOP priorities as a direct result of anti-U.S. propaganda activities by the Viet Cong and because of the influx of U.S. troop units. The economic impact of the U.S. troop build-up was, and is, a subject of considerable importance. The drastic decline in the real wages of South Vietnamese military personnel over the past 2 years is a direct manifestation of a highly sensitive inflationary trend. This trend is, to a large measure, attributable to an increase in dollar expenditures by U.S. military personnel. The propaganda activities to minimize the effect of inflation on all segments of the South Vietnamese society are extensive and involve all U.S. in-country agencies.
The final two priorities for the propagandist in the Republic of Vietnam mass media effort and telling the Vietnam story are primarily the concern of the United States Information Service. In conjunction with the Vietnamese Information Service, USIS develops and disseminates pro-Vietnamese (GVN) propaganda throughout the free world. The military psychological operator has little to do with this specific campaign.
The basic charter given to JUSPAO stated that JUSPAO would exercise "substantive direction" over all in-country PSYOP. In 1967 this phrase was changed to read "substantive supervision and coordination of all U.S. PSYOP in Vietnam." This change was necessitated by a reorganization of the entire U.S. in-country effort. With the establishment of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) structure, all field elements, military and civilian, were placed under the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). The rationale behind this change in organization was basic--unity of command and effort for all civilian and military elements dealing with the populace of the country.
At the national, or Saigon level, JUSPAO provides advice and assistance to the Vietnamese Information Service. JUSPAO also develops campaign plans for the extensive North Vietnamese propaganda effort. Fiscal and material support are also provided by JUSPAO, in varying degrees, to all psychological in-country operators. This statement does not mean to infer that all material and fiscal support comes from JUSPAO resources. Rather, both MACV and JUSPAO contribute to the joint effort as the specific situation requires. For example, the 4th Psychological Operations Group in Vietnam, the 7th Psychological Operations Group in Okinawa, the U.S. Army printing facility in Japan coupled with the United States Information Service's extensive printed media plants in Manila and elsewhere all support one common effort.
The MACV specific areas of responsibility are divided into two basic subdivisions. The first is the MACV Psychological Operations Directorate, known by the acronym MACPD. All tactical PSYOP conducted by Free World Military Assistance Forces, major portions of the Chieu Hoi exploitation program, and the U.S. advisory effort supporting the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Political Warfare Organization are the responsibility of MACPD.
The other basic subdivision of the MACV propaganda effort is the Military Assistance Command CORDS PSYOP Division; MACCORDSPOD in the current vernacular. All PSYOP that concern pacification, national development, the Chieu Hoi advisory effort for the PSYOP exploitation of participants in the amnesty program, and the staff supervision of the Assistant Provincial Advisors for PSYOP come under the preview of this organization.
To return to the JUSPAO areas of interest, there are two important functions performed by JUSPAO that have not been mentioned. Guidance in the form of written policy and evaluation of the overall PSYOP effort are facets of JUSPAO's responsibilities that have far-reaching effects on the quality of in-country propaganda. In developing definitive policy guidance for all psychological operators in Vietnam, JUSPAO receives and promulgates our national policy and provides specific guidance, which is directive in nature, on all current issues germane to the field operator. This guidance is carefully framed to provide the operator with enough latitude to implement national policy in a meaningful manner at the local "rice-root" level.
With a civilian director (initially, Barry Zorthian) reporting to the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), JUSPAO integrated the psychological operations of the U.S. Information Service (USIS, USIA's overseas arm), The State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Joint Chief's Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), and the U .S. Embassy. At its apex it employed 695 people, 245 Americans and 116 from the military and had an annual budget of 10 million dollars. Zorthian seemed a good choice for the position of director since he had been a combat Marine and a reporter for Time Magazine before working for the United States Information Agency. An understanding was reached in 1966 that whereas JUSPAO would retain responsibility for overall PSYOP policy and would conduct strategic operations such as the Chieu Hoi surrender program, MACV would be responsible for PSYOP tactical field operations.
Don North wrote about Barry Zorthian in January 2011 upon his death at age 90. He said in part:
At Yale, Zorthian practiced journalism He was editor of The Yale Daily News and became a member of the secret campus society, Skull and Bones, a controversial fraternity whose members included both Presidents Bush and other American powerbrokers.
Upon graduation in 1941, Zorthian served in a U.S. Marine artillery unit in the South Pacific and came out a captain. After the war ended, he took a job at CBS radio in New York. He received a law degree from New York University but instead of practicing law preferred journalism and spent 13 years with the Voice of America as a reporter, editor and program manager.
In 1961, Zorthian joined the State Department and became a deputy public affairs officer in the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, India. Three years later, in February 1964, U.S. Information Agency Director Edward R. Murrow appointed him as head of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office in Vietnam.
Although untrained in the art of psychological operations, Zorthian was responsible for coordinating these tactics designed to erode the morale of the enemy and win the allegiance of the Vietnamese people through hearts and minds programs.
Zorthian invested in excess of $10 million a year in dropping tons of leaflets; staging plays in which the Viet Cong were always the villains; and rounding up peasants at gunpoint for propaganda lectures.
Some of the more bizarre techniques that didnt prove to be very successful were having local fortune tellers deliver false predictions at the expense of the Viet Cong and broadcasting funeral music from helicopters to enemy positions, followed by a childs voice crying in Vietnamese, Daddy, Daddy, please come home!
The most successful PSYOP initiative was the Chieu Hoi or Open Arms program which Zorthian supported and greatly expanded in 1967. Several times, I saw Viet Cong emerging from the swamps in the Delta with fistfuls of safe conduct passes dropped from aircraft.
The Chieu Hoi program promised economic aid, jobs, and relocation of families to safe areas. It is estimated to have caused 250,000 defections from 1963 to the last months of the war in 1975.
John Morello, Ph.D. says in Open Arms, Closed Minds and Eyes: Chieu Hoi, PSYOP, and the Intelligence Failures in the TET Offensive about Zorthian:
Of all the agencies which endorsed Zorthian and the creation of JUSPAO, few were more vocal than MACV and its commander, William Westmoreland. In Report on the War in Vietnam, a 1968 publication, he reflected on his feelings about PSYOP:
"I considered the psychological effort so important that I provided extensive support to Mr. Zorthian in the form of military personnel, units, and facilities. The armed services, particularly the Army, also furnished over 120 specially trained officers to work with USIA and the Vietnamese Information Service at province and district levels."
The USASOC History Office adds:
As early as August of 1964, almost one year before the activation of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO), General William Westmoreland told a Civil Affairs and PSYOP conference that "psychological warfare and civic action are the very essence of the counterinsurgency campaign here in Vietnam…you cannot win this war by military means alone." Westmoreland’s successor, Creighton Abrams, is known to have sent down guidelines to the 4th Psychological Operations Group that resulted in the drawing up of no less than 17 leaflets along those lines. In fact, the interest in PSYOP went all the way up to the Presidency; weekly reports from JUSPAO were sent to the White House, as well as to the Pentagon and the Ambassador in Saigon. In sum, it is a myth that the United States, stubbornly fixated on a World War II-style conventional war, was unaware of the "other war."
Under Zorthian, JUSPAO Guidance Number 20 dated 12 September 1966 explained the PSYOP tactics to be used against the Viet Cong. National Psychological Operations Plan for Viet Nam said in part:
1. Make the Viet Cong fully conscious of the fact that they have alienated the people and cannot avoid alienating them further; that they violate the principles of revolutionary warfare by relying on terror as a substitute for popular support; that communist doctrine itself presages their defeat because it holds that the success of revolutionary warfare depends on the voluntary support of the people; and that they are, therefore, conducting an isolated futile struggle against the massing and inexhaustible firepower of Free Vietnam, the United States and Free Vietnam's other supporters.
2. Make the Viet Cong fully aware of the fact that they are agents of a foreign power which threatens the peace for its own imperialist ends, is willing to fight to the last Vietnamese, and is, therefore, unwilling to permit negotiation of a genuine peace.
3. Convince the Viet Cong and their supporters that they are doomed to inevitable military defeat, and that each member faces death for a cause that cannot achieve either the national aspirations of the Vietnamese people or the personal aspirations of any Vietnamese individual.
4. Persuade the Viet Cong, particularly the soft core, to defect to Free Vietnam where they will be received with open arms and given the opportunity to reintegrate themselves into a truly revolutionary society.
Martin J. Manning and Clarence R. Wyatt edited the 2-volume set titled Encyclopedia of Media and Propaganda in Wartime America. They wrote about the various wars that the United States was involved in and I have added a brief part of what was written about two American campaigns in this article.
All the governments directly involved in the war in Vietnam—the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), and the United States—produced propaganda. Some of these efforts were directed at the respective governments’ own troops and civilian populations to maintain support for the war, while others were aimed at the enemy in the hope of eroding his morale.
The United States also engaged in extensive efforts to inﬂuence enemy troops and its own population. The former involved a variety of activities, some benign and others more insidious. Examples of the former include the Chieu Hoi, or “Open Arms,” program that was administered by the South Vietnamese government but supported by the United States. The program distributed safe conduct passes that encouraged Viet Cong troops to “rally” to the South Vietnamese side. A bit more supernatural project was called “the Wandering Soul.” In Vietnamese tradition, a soul that met its end violently wanders until a loved one reclaims it. American psychological operations troops would broadcast a tape comprised of funeral music and a dialogue between a dead Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier and his daughter. In the end, the “wandering soul” urges his comrades to go home before they meet a fate like his.
Daniel A. Castro adds in his 2007 Naval Postgraduate School thesis: Do Psychological Operations Benefit from the use of Host Nation Media:
The Vietnam War saw one of the most intensive PSYOP campaigns ever executed, far surpassing any PSYOP effort in World I, II, and Korea. In World War II there were 1,000 personnel conducting PSYOP, in Korea there were 600 personnel with 130 host nation Koreans and Chinese. In Vietnam, the numbers ballooned to over 1,200 personnel and over 750 indigenous Vietnamese conducting PSYOP with an annual budget over 12 million dollars. Additionally, because PSYOP was a priority with the Kennedy and Johnson administration, it became a priority with various inter- agencies involved in PSYOP such as: the State Department, USAID (United States Agency for International Development), CIA, MACV (Military Assistance Command Vietnam, and the USIA (United States Information Agency).
We mention the United States Information Agency often in this article but never explain what it was and what it did in depth. Jeffrey Whyte wrote an abstract titled Psychological War in Vietnam: Governmentality at The United States Information Agency that explains the agency quite well:
Though psychological warfare was an early feature of American involve ment in Vietnam in the 1950s,its expansion and formalization there was tied to a secret directive signed by Kennedy in January 1963 that made the United States Information Agency an extension of his administration’s broader turn to global counterinsurgency. Under the aegis of the USIA’s new counterinsurgency mandate, psychological warfare in Vietnam was dramatically expanded over the course of 1962–64.
To establish a territorial presence for its psychological war, the USIA began by employing 27 American personnel who in turn directed 226 local employees. As part of its counterinsurgency turn, a USIA policy of non-attribution was in effect: almost all US psychological warfare materials were distributed through the Government of Vietnam’s official organ, the Vietnam Information Service (VIS), and bore no attribution to the United States. Operating three major branches in Hue, Dalat, and Can Tho, and 21 sub-posts throughout the provinces, the USIA’s American and Vietnamese staff produced magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, films, and radio programs through the VIS and under the guise of the GVN.
Through field posts, the USIA was able to connect provincial and regional chains of command to a network producing and distributing two major magazines, three weekly newspapers, airdropped leaflets, pamphlets, posters, photo exhibits, a semi-monthly film magazine, bi-monthly film documentaries, and the necessary fuel and supplies to keep the program going. USIA even produced 21 of its films with soundtracks in minority dialects. In radio, USIA Saigon produced 15 hours of radio programs every week, broadcast on eight stations, totaling over 60 hours of airtime weekly. Again in 1963, the USIA was in the process of producing a quarter million ‘classroom copybooks’ to distribute to rural school children. The USIA considered its most effective publication for rural audiences to be a monthly magazine called Rural Spirit (Huong Que). Vietnam, Rural Spirit’s circulation quadrupled to 200,000 copies per month by 1963, plateauing at a rate of 565,000 copies per month in 1968. [Note] We depict this magazine elsewhere in this article.
In 1965 the USIA asked Congress for an additional $8,000,000 and 56 American personnel on top of existing budgets. In 1966, the agency spent over $145,000,000, and employed over 5,000 Americans in addition to its 5,000 local employees.
Navy E4 David White worked in
Saigonin the J3 (Operations Section) of MACV in 1970. He communicated with various units relaying information either by phone or encrypted messages. He adds:
I was stationed at MACV in Saigon from April 1970 through May 1971 and lived in the
barracks. I worked in PSYOP in the main Headquarters (1 floor up and about 10 offices down from General Creighton Abrams). I did many presentations for the general and his staff. Dodge City
First week in-country at MACV April 1970
There were Army and Air Force sections that dealt with the PSYOP units in the field. Later, the offices were combined into one section with eight officers. I worked 10-12 hour days in Headquarters of MACV typing messages, making presentations, and delivering correspondence. I saw samples of leaflets from various campaigns, but was never involved in the production of them. I guess you could say I was a Psyclerk, and not a Psywarrior.
Major Michael G. Barger mentions MACV in his U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 2007 Masters thesis Psychological Operations Supporting the Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam:
The commander and staff of MACV placed great emphasis on PSYOP from the planning stages of the troop buildup in 1965. One reason for this, in addition to the perceived failure of PSYOP advisory efforts, was the agreed division of responsibilities between MACV and JUSPAO. This agreement specified that MACV would execute PSYOP in the field and provide print capability to JUSPAO, so MACV planners requested the addition of units with these capabilities to the troop buildup.
Because General Westmoreland and his staff appreciated and encouraged the use of
PSYOP, U.S.Army PSYOP units would deploy and operate in in unprecedented numbers compared to previous conflicts. One instrument used to communicate and encourage this marked interest in PSYOP was USMACV Directive 525-3, dated 7 September 1965, which emphasized discrimination in the application of firepower and the use of all available PSYOP resources in combat operations Vietnam
The 2010 Report: RAND in Southeast Asia - A History of the Vietnam War Era, goes into a bit more depth:
Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara began to address the issue of how to fight insurgencies under the rubric of “flexible response.” Kennedy believed that, besides military means, counterinsurgency would also require economic, diplomatic, and psychological-warfare activities combined into a multi-pronged approach. He assigned the State Department the responsibility of dealing with diplomatic and political issues, and coordinating the efforts of other key agencies. USAID was given the task of nation-building, turning economic aid into a tool of counterinsurgency by strengthening recipient countries against subversion. The United States Information Agency (USIA) was assigned psychological warfare.
Martin F. Herz reminds of us what Kennedy said about Vietnam in 1956 while still a Senator in The Vietnam War in Retrospect.
Vietnam represents a test of American responsibility and determination in Asia. If we are not the parents of Vietnam, we are the Godparents. We presided at its birth, we gave assistance to its life, we have helped to shape its future…This is our offspring, we cannot abandon it, we cannot ignore its needs. And if it falls victims to any of the perils that threaten its existence, communism, political anarchy, poverty and the rest, then the United States, with some justification, will be held responsible; and our prestige in East Asia will sink to a new low.
The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office
Returning to JUSPAO, the 1968 MACV PSYOP Guide says:
JUSPAO is an altered and expanded form of the
United StatesInformation Service in . By decision of the National Security Council in May 1965, the responsibility for all PSYOP in Vietnam was delegated to the Director of USIA. Although JUSPAO is primarily a civilian organization many of its personnel are military, assigned through MACV. Selected foreign officers are also assigned. Vietnam
The North Vietnamese Affairs Division directs PSYOP against North Vietnamese and North Vietnamese Army infiltrators.
Because it was a joint operation, everybody was involved in policy. For instance, among those on the policy board were the Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam, General Westmorland, the station head of The United States Agency for International Development, the station head of the CIA, the head of the United States Information Agency post, and General Edward Lansdale (Special Advisor).
The annual budget of JUSPAO was 12 million dollars; 6.5 million from the USIA, 2.5 million from USAID, and 3 million from the Department of Defense. At its peak, PSYOP personnel numbered about 1200, with about 750 Vietnamese nationals.
[The Political Warfare Division advised, assisted and supported the Vietnamese General Political Warfare Department and its subordinate elements.]
JUSPAO at first consisted of about 150 officers, later 250, more than half from USIA, and about 600 Vietnamese. Harry D. Latimer discusses the organization chart for the organization in U.S. Psychological Operations in Vietnam, Brown University, 1973:
The office of Plans, Policy and Research handled policy directives, quality control, and research associated with the attitudes in friendly areas and with the enemy.
The Field Development Division was an operations shop wholly committed to the propaganda effort. In addition to responsibility for leaflets and posters, and for coordination of various campaigns, it supervised field operations.
JUSPAO mentions this most important division in its General Briefing Book:
The Field Development Division (FDD) develops, coordinates, and supports national psychological operations campaigns in support of Government of Vietnam and U.S. programs such as: Chieu Hoi, Refugees, Public Safety, Revolutionary Development, and economic and agricultural programs.
It provides PSYOP material support to the PSYOP field representatives of Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) and coordinates program support provided by other elements of JUSPAO to the field. Developing national PSYOP programs requires constant liaison with all PSYOP elements within the Government of Vietnam and U.S. Mission. This division participates with Government of Vietnam agencies in the central planning and development of most Government of Vietnam themes and psychological actions in support of provincial operations.
On the U.S. side, the Field Development Division works closely with MACPD, the PSYOP Directorate within Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), which is responsible for printing and producing psyops material in support of tactical operations in which tactical military units are involved. Daily liaison is also maintained with the PSYOP Division within CORDS which acts as a staff conduit for JUSPAO and province requests, requirements, and reports. JUSPAO national campaigns and support of provincial operations cover a wide array of materials: leaflets, posters, loudspeaker tapes which are broadcast from planes over VC-controlled areas as well as being used on the ground by Government of Vietnam information officers and military units, photo and feature inserts for provincial newspapers, songs, and poems, all supporting major program areas.
The most typical materials requested by the province representatives are posters featuring activities in the hamlets conducted under the Revolutionary Development Program and leaflets for example, made up of a letter from a returnee to his former comrades urging them to return to the government through the Chieu Hoi or National Reconciliation programs.
In addition to national campaigns and provincial support, the Division organizes, trains, and deploys up to twenty Van Tac Vu (Cultural Drama) teams in the provinces. These teams, composed of Vietnamese men and women, provide musical and dramatic entertainment to the people in the hamlets and through songs and skits, they explain what their government is trying to do for the people and how they can take part in developing their country. Another facet of the Division's operation is the Special Projects program which involves intensive coverage of both the Chieu Hoi returnee and prisoner-of-war programs to counter enemy propaganda both in North Vietnam and in areas controlled by the Viet Cong in the south.
Monta L. Osborne was the Chief of Field Development Division in the Joint
United StatesPublic Affairs Office (JUSPAO) in Saigon. He told me about the propaganda output of his organization.
VietnamNgay Nay ( Today), a weekly, printed in 600,000 copies, distributed to pacified areas. This was the official Pacification newspaper of the Government of Vietnam. In February 1970, the newspaper was printed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and JUSPAO. Previously, the U.S. 4th PSYOP Group and JUSPAO printed the 10.5 x 16-inch weekly newspaper. The circulation was raised to 620,000 copies. Vietnam
Tu-Do (Free South), a bi-weekly, printed in 1,300,000 copies, air-dropped to denied areas. Nam
Special Issue - Mien Nam Tu-Do - No.52 JUSPAO 3022 - December 1968
Stories include President Nguyen Van Thieu taking part in Paris talks, a photograph of Vice-President Ky and President Nixon strengthening US-Vietnam ties.
The newspaper Mien Nam Tu-Do was written by the Field Development Division, then printed in the United States Information Agency plant in Manila, with the cost paid for by the U.S. Army (7th PSYOP Group). Each issue was given a regular JUSPAO code number. For instance, mini-newspaper issue 49 of November, 1968 was coded 2984. The newspaper targeted rural areas of Vietnam that were not served by the civilian press. Its purpose was to keep those rural areas informed of national programs in their behalf; publicize Government victories and Communist defeats; developments in the Chieu Hoi program; Free World assistance to the Government of Vietnam; and the anti-Government actions by Hanoi, the NLF and the Viet Cong. The newspaper came in both a regular and a mini-size issue. In 1968, 520,000 copies of the mini-issue were distributed to the 44 provinces mostly by hand instead of air drop. The size of the mini-edition is 9.5-inches by 10.5-inches.
The full-size newspaper was 10.5-inches by 16-inches. Full-sized number 10 was dated November, 1968 and coded 2987. In 1968, 2,000,000 copies were printed every other week. Occasionally, special issues were produced. The newspaper was printed in Manila and flown to Vietnam for distribution by the four PSYOP Battalions. 1,300,000 copies were issued to the battalion to be airdropped over Viet Cong areas. The other 700,000 issues were shipped to the 44 provinces. Full-sized issue 10 depicted a photograph of President Nixon and news of his election as President of the United States.
The size of the newspaper run seems to have changed from time to time either due to budget shortages or readership. I note that in January 1969, only 1,350,000 copies were printed.
A 1968 JUSPAO document titled Assistance Provided by Field Development Division to the Government of Vietnam adds:
JUSPAO produces every two weeks a newspaper under the title Mien Nam Tu-Do (Free South), addressed to North Vietnam forces in South Vietnam, to the Viet Cong, and to populations of NVA/VC-held and contested areas of South Vietnam. Copy is sent to the Regional Service Center in Manila for printing, in two million copies per issue. A total of 1,300, 000 copies of each issue are shipped from Manila to Danang, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho. These are air-dropped by the United States Air Force over NVA/ VC troops and NVA/VC-held and contested areas. The remaining 700,000 copies are shipped to Saigon, and then are broken down, repackaged, and shipped to the CORDS APA/PSYOP offices in the 44 provinces. GVN agencies, including the Vietnamese Information Service, hand-distribute these copies.
During the TET season of 1968, JUSPAO began producing a smaller edition of Tu-Do for distribution to areas of the Republic of Vietnam which were not getting news about the rapid sequence of developments. Initially we produced three issues per week; subsequently we reduced the issues, successively, to two and finally one per week. This paper presently is published in 520, 000 copies per issue. The print run is broken down and packaged for shipment to the 44 provinces. Distribution, largely through the Vietnamese Information Service. is to areas not regularly served by mass information media. While this was an emergency measure taken during 1968 TET, the paper caught on and JUSPAO received numerous requests that we continue it.
The smaller one-page Brown edition
The Free South
Happy New Year 1969.
President Johnson wishes President Thieu a Happy New Year.
The New Year Message from President Thieu.
The wedding of three returning couples.
The smaller one-page green edition.
The Free South
Happy New Year 1969
The crew of the Apollo 8 Satellite
Significant Progress of the Republic of Vietnam in 1968.
By January 1969, the newspaper was so popular that it was being produced in three sizes. The main edition was the standard 10.5 x 16-inches and hand disseminated by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. A new “A” edition was printed in brown on 40 and 60-pound paper, and “B” edition printed in green on 40 and 60-pound paper, a single sheet 8 x 10.5 inches in size, shipped to the PSYOP Battalions premixed for air dissemination. The different weight paper will provide a better target coverage.
Ngon Song Newspaper
We should mention that the U.S. printed many newspapers for the Vietnamese. JUSPAO 2955, printed in November, 1968, was entitled Ngon Song. (Notice that the Vietnamese spell it Nguon Song). The Vietnam spelling translates to Life Source or Source of Life. 30,000 copies of this newspaper were prepared and handed out by the Vietnamese Information Service (VIS) Cadre to urban citizens that lived around the capitol of Saigon. The general theme of the newspaper was The Government of Vietnams image. Stories on the front page include:
The President severely denounces indiscriminate shell in cities by the North Vietnamese Army and the Soviet aggression in Czechoslovakia.
The population of Saigon denounces the shelling of the Communists.
According to the 1969 declassified report: Employment of US Army Psychological Operations Units in Vietnam, other newspapers include:
Ban Tin (News Clips), issued twice weekly, two pages, 72,000 copies per edition. The 7th PSYOP Battalion printed Ban Tin for Vietnamese target audiences in Corps Tactical Zone I.
Tin Tong Hop (News Roundup), issued daily, two pages, 40,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Tong Hop for VC and general population audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III. A January 1969 report states that the 6th PSYOP Battalion printed 845,000 copies of the daily newspaper Tin Tong-Hop (News Roundup) for Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS). These newspapers were disseminated by Vietnamese Newspaper Service (VIS) personnel in villages and hamlets throughout the III Corps area.
Tin Chien Truong (News from the Front), one page, 50,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Chien Truong for VC and NVA troop target audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III. A January 1969 report states that the 6th PSYOP Battalion printed 800,000 copies of the daily newspaper Tin Chien-Truong (News from the Battlefield) for Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS). These newspapers were disseminated by aircraft over enemy areas of operation and are designed to give enemy troops a true picture of current events and the battlefield situation.
Khanh Hoa, issued twice monthly, one page, 15,000 copies per edition. The 8th PSYOP Battalion printed Khanh Hoa for distribution by hand during face-to-face PSYOP missions in Corps Tactical Zone III. I was surprised that the Army gave no translation for Khanh Hoa and then realized that it was the name of a province in which Nha Trang City is located. That is Corps Tactical Zone II so it is possible that the report information is incorrect in this entry. I believe this newspaper was for CTZ II.
FM 3-05.301, Psychological Operations Process Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures mentions the proper use of propaganda newspapers:
Newspapers and magazines are an excellent means of transmitting a PSYOP message, as they are durable and lasting. Therefore, PSYOP Soldiers should use them as a means to disseminate messages of enduring importance, such as the long-term stability of your country hinges upon a representative governmentvote in the upcoming elections.
Newspapers produced by PSYOP should provide timely, truthful news and entertainment in a format familiar to the Target Audience. Articles should include current events, meaningful stories, and leisure articles. The persuasive messages contained within should convey enduring themes that directly or indirectly incorporate U.S. national objectives in an effort to achieve long-term behavior changes in the Target Audience. Stories, such as those that exemplify positive accomplishments of the Allied forces, should be balanced with human interest and some entertainment features. PSYOP messages should be clear with an identifiable source. News stories must be as unbiased as possible. Credibility is critical.
Huong Que (Rural Spirit), a monthly, printed in 565,000 copies, for distribution throughout the rural areas of South Vietnam, intended to help improve farming methods.The publication was written by the Field Development Division staff of JUSPAO, and printed at the Regional Support Center in Manila.
The magazines were distributed by the Vietnamese Information Service throughout the 44 provinces of Vietnam. The magazine above is Number 72, with the code 3386 although it is not found anywhere on the publication. Some of the stories in this issue are: Effective Protection for Pigs and Chickens; Hatching and raising pond fish; Growing sugar cane and the globe artichoke.
PFC Alan Wondra of the 199th Infantry Brigade passes out copies of Free World to children at Cat Lai on 30 August 1967.
Photo by SP4 Jerrold Fishman
The Gioi Tu-Do (Free World), JUSPAO printed monthly in 155,000 copies. This was a general interest magazine, edited for educated adults and students. Free World offered adults a digest of U.S. magazines.
Long Me (Mother’s Heart), targets the civil bureaucracy of Vietnam, the Armed Forces, the population of contested areas and the general public. It is published bi-monthly in 100,000 copies each, to gain support for the Chieu Hoi Program and act as a house organ for Chieu Hoi cadre.Later the publication was printed in greater quantities as this description indicates: “For the civil bureaucracy of the GVN at national, regional, provincial, district, village and hamlet. This magazine is published at bi-monthly intervals in 200,000 copies. It is a joint project of the GVN Ministry of Chieu Hoi and FDD, JUSPAO. It is printed at RSC, Manila. 200,000 copies of Mother's Heart should go to government offices at all levels: to RVNAF, RF, and· PF organization and to the public through reading rooms. Copies should be distributed in contested areas and to families known to have VC convictions.
A 5 October 1968 JUSPAO document titled Assistance Provided by Field Development Division to the Government of Vietnam adds:
JUSPAO produces in cooperation with the Ministry of Chieu Hoi, a bi-monthly magazine under the title Long Me (Mother's Heart). The third issue is now being distributed and the fourth issue is now at RSC, Manila for printing. This magazine has four target audiences: (1) The civil bureaucracy of the Government of Vietnam at the national, regional, provincial, district and village/hamlet levels. The idea is to gain greater support for the GVN's Chieu Hoi policy and program. (2) The armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, including ARVN, RF and PF. The purpose here is to motivate troops to fulfill the promises made to defectors by the Government of Vietnam. (3) Chieu Hoi cadre and Hoi Chanh. The magazine serves as a kind of house organ for Chieu Hoi. (4) Families in the provinces known to have members in the Viet Cong. The purpose here is to motivate these families to bring pressure on their erring relatives to rally to the GVN.
Tien Phong (Vanguard), JUSPAO's News for the Officers Corps. It contains items of interest to those in command positions. 20,000 copies per month
Chien Si Cong Hoa (Republican Fighter), Non-commissioner Officers magazine. 247,000 copies a month.
Chien Si Tim Hieu (Fighters Information Booklet), the soldiers booklet, which serves to keep him informed and helps build morale and a fighting spirit. 300,000 copies every two weeks.
Tien Tuyen (Front lines), 25,000 copies a day for soldiers and civilians. It reports both military and civilian news from the Republic of Vietnam and around the world.
JUSPAO printed 100,000 copies per month of Quest, targeting students with popular science articles. It reports both military and civilian news from the Republic of Vietnam and around the world. Isolated units and sub sectors receive 1,500 copies free. The remaining copies are distributed commercially.
Van Tac Vu
Van Tac Vu (Cultural Drama), published bi-monthly in 12,000 copies: It provided materials (songs, skits, poems, etc.) and guidance to the Cultural Drama Teams.
Ann earlier 1968 document titled: Assistance Provided by Field Development Division to the Government of Vietnam adds:
Every month JUSPAO produces a magazine to provide guidance and program materials to culture-drama teams all over Vietnam. including those supported by the United States and those supported by the Government of Vietnam. This magazine provides motivation, suggestions on programming, and program materials including kits, plays, songs, poems, etc. etc. It is published in 7,500 copies per issue and is distributed to every identified culture-drama team in the nation.
Thong Cam (Mutual Understanding) Magazine. The 4th PSYOP Group produced a monthly 16-page magazine targeted to Vietnamese employees of US military forces and civilian firms. This multicolor magazine was printed by the 7th PSYOP Group's Japanese Detachment in 80,000 copies at the Printing and Publications Center in Japan. Initially, distribution of the magazine was limited to I11 Combat Tactical Zone. However, plans were made to expand the magazine to 32 pages in 135,000 copies per month beginning in July 1969 to allow country-wide circulation. The magazine was aimed at promoting good will and understanding between the US and the 140,000 Vietnamese nationals employed by the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. The magazine was patterned after the 7th PSYOP Group’s Koryu (Interchange) magazine which is published for Japanese nationals employed by U.S. Forces in Japan. In 1971, as the United States prepared to leave Vietnam the magazine changed its purpose to preparing and advising Vietnamese employees on the reduced U.S. sponsored employment opportunities. It was still published, but now as just an employee relations publication.
A small “Reader’s Digest” type booklet, believed to be produced by the Vietnamese in an addition of about 25,000 booklets a month.
FM 3-05.301 also discusses magazines:
Production concerns and considerations for magazines are similar to newspapers. A magazine done well, on glossy paper with quality-color illustrations, is expensive. However, a magazine of less-than-high quality is usually a waste of resources and talent. Magazines allow for longer, more scholarly articles supporting PSYOP arguments. A magazine should have interesting and entertaining articles and features as well. A magazine may have broad appeal to multiple Target Audience, but it is unreasonable to expect one magazine to be all things to all Target Audience.
American PSYOP units prepared leaflets, posters, newspapers, calendars, magazines, and of course booklets. I thought I would show the reader a few that were prepared by the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa for Vietnam.
Land Tenure Booklet
The first booklet was developed in May 1968, coded 2593, and titled Land Tenure Booklet. The cover has a farmer working his field with water buffalo and the back has a colorful painting of a farm scene. The 18-page booklet was printed for the general population to provide information to land owners of rights and privileges and government regulations that affect them. There are 60 numbered paragraphs answering every question that a land owner might ask regarding rights and obligations, land rights and contracts, renting, crops, seeds, fertilizer, security, disputes and penalties.
Rights and Duties of the Citizens
The second booklet was developed in August 1968, coded 2613, and titled Rights and Duties of the Citizens. The cover has the flag of the Republic of Vietnam at top and a Vietnamese woman voting on the back. 500,000 copies were printed in the Regional Service Center in Manila. The 10-page booklet is designed for children to teach them their civic duties. The book is meant to instill patriotism and pride in their nation and national heritage. It explains their Constitution and lists 29 rights and duties the children will have as adults.
Because there were numerous organizations in Vietnam supported and sponsored by the U.S. and the Republic of Vietnam; civilian, military, social and governmental, the 7th PSYOP Group provided newsletters to keep them up to date on current news and policies. I have selected two as an example of this type of a propaganda publication.
Phuoc Ninh District Newsletter
This July 1968 publication is the Phuoc Ninh District Newsletter, designed to provide an attractive and attention-getting cover to facilitate dissemination to the district, both urban and rural. 2,000 copies wuold be printed weekly with the JUSPAO code number 2659.
Kiem Tan Newsletter
This June 1968 publication is the Kiem Tan Newsletter with the JUSPAO code 2663. In English it is Peoples Progress, by the Tien Yan Information Services.
INFORMATIVE WALLET CARDS
Ready Reference Facts on Vietnam
The military constantly prepares informative wallet cards to be carried by their personnel giving information and protocol for different occurrences. In Vietnam some of the cards prepared were titled: The Enemy in Your Hands (On POW care); Nine Rules (On how to act correctly in Vietnam) and Guidance for Commanders in Vietnam (Care of the men and tactics). When the command desired such cards they were usually printed by the PSYOP units because they had the writers, artists and printing presses. The card above prepared by the 7th PSYOP Group is titled Ready Reference Facts on Vietnam and covers the stakes in Vietnam, the military effort, building a nation, the country, and the enemy.
Posters were produced in varying sizes, multi-color. Normally, 50,000 copies were printed of each poster.
Because I mostly study leaflets which are usually about 6 x 3-inches and can fit into a small book or into plastic holders, I have few full-sized posters. They tend to be large and clumsy and are difficult to store. However, I do want to show our readers at least one full-sized JUSPAO poster. This one measures 30 inches in height by 11 inches in width. It would normally be tacked to a large board where Vietnamese civilians congregate. There are two images of Vietnamese self-defense forces on parade. The text is:
THE PEOPLES UNITE TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY
The goal of the peoples self-defense program is to mobilize the entire population to actively participate in the fighting.
The people will defend the rear area, will carry out production activities, and will support the front lines.
OUR ENTIRE POPULATION MUST UNITE TO DEFEND OUR JUST CAUSE IN THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE AGAINST THE ENEMY.
My translator commented:
The wording is something that could have been copied right out of North Vietnamese propaganda posters or leaflets. I wonder if they had an ex-Viet Cong who went Chieu Hoi write this.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 and features U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The text is:
WE WILL NOT FAIL
WE WILL NOT TIRE
WE WILL NOT RETREAT
On 7 April 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson solemnly promised to help the people of the Republic of Vietnam to the end. The Government of the Unite States will always respect this promise to the people of South Vietnam.
I absolutely believe...that the first requirement for the other side to change its attitude is to do something to show that our position is strong and firm and that we are determined that we will not abandon our promises regarding the independence and the national right to self-determination of the South Vietnamese people.
24 October 1964 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson
Statement at the Manila Summit
If the negotiating effort is unable to restore peace, peace will come when Hanoi understands that our resolve will not be altered and that our power is unmatched.
President Johnson's statement
To the American people - 31 March 1968
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 in color and features President Johnson and President Thieu. The text is:
THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM RESOLUTELY OPPOSE COMMUNIST AGGRESSION
At the request of President Nguyen Van Thieu, a meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Vietnam was held in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 19 and 20 July 1968. During this meeting the leaders of the two nations discussed important military and political developments in South Vietnam related to the Paris Conference.
The two President's took this opportunity to call on the North Vietnamese authorities to cease all aggressive actions and to demonstrate a good faith desire for peace in the Paris talks in order begin direct talks between the Republic of Vietnam and North Vietnam.
The two Presidents also affirmed their resolute opposition to any aggression against South Vietnam. In joint policy statements the President of the Republic of Vietnam emphasized the determination of the Government and people of South Vietnam to defend his nation and the American President promised that the U.S. would continue to help the Republic of Vietnam defend its territory.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 in full color, the size 21 x 33-inches. There are six photographs of civilian and paramilitary forces. The text is:
PEOPLE DEFEND THE NATION
People take charge of defending the rear.
This is a self-defense unit at Tan Tru District, Long An Province.
Mr. Huynh Van Dao, of the Prime Ministers Office, congratulates a self-defense unit at Tan Tru that fought to protect the lives and property of the people.
Women participate in medical aid work.
The purpose of the People's Self-Defense force is to mobilize all the people to destroy the Communist enemy.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 in full color. This poster has three larger photographs. The theme is The Government of Vietnam Image. 50,000 copies were prepared for dissemination all over the country to the civilian population. The text is:
THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM HELPS THE PEOPLE IN RECONSTRUCTION
During the Tet attack in Hoc Mon the Viet Cong destroyed this bridge. Government soldiers repaired the bridge.
Besides destroying the enemy on the battlefield, Government soldiers maintain roads for the people.
Reconstruction of Viet Cong damage helps people to resume their normal lives so that they can enjoy peace and prosperity.
HELP THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM TO DEFEAT THE VIET CONG
JOIN YOUR LOCAL SELF-DEFENSE FORCE
REPORT VIET CONG MOVEMENT TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
I did reserve this area for posters but since there are leaflets that mention self-defense forces, I thought I might add one here right below a poster on the same subject. The leaflet depicts a crowd of volunteers with the text on the front:
IT IS EVERYONE’S DUTY TO DEFEND THE FATHERLAND
The back is a long message so I shall edit the text for brevity:
54,000 VOLUNTEERS VOW PROTECTION OF HOME AND FAMILY
I vow to link myself dynamically with all government forces in fighting the Communist’s invasion.
I vow to accept all sacrifices and hardships to safeguard myself, my family, and my nation.
I vow to protect the foundations of the Second Republic.
This vow was made at the first of a series of ceremonies to be held throughout the nation in honor of the Citizens’ Self-Defense Forces which are being organized to prepare and arm volunteers against Communist attacks….More than 54,000 males ranging in ages from 15-year-old schoolboys to ex-soldiers, factory workers and civil servants in their forties have volunteered in Saigon alone…President Thieu presented nine M-1 carbines to Self-Defense volunteers representing each of Saigon’s nine districts.
Many of the posters prepared by JUSPAO for the South Vietnamese people encouraged patriotism and love of country. This very colorful poster is a map of the Republic of Vietnam showing all the provinces, the province capital, and the products found in that province. The poster was printed in May of 1988 in the size of 10 x 14 inches as 2514A, and also as 17 x 22 inches code numbered 2514.
The United States Archives mentions Vietnam War propaganda posters and says in part:
We list 438 posters produced by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) for use in psychological warfare activities supporting the Government of South Vietnam (GVN) during the Vietnam War. The poster themes and designs reflect the fierce competition between the two Vietnams, North and South, to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese public. Posters are grouped under ten main themes reflecting JUSPAO propaganda priorities.
The theme with the largest poster concentration is "Support Social and Economic Accomplishments," comprising one third of the total item count. This category highlights the activities of the government's Revolutionary Development program to work alongside rural Vietnamese in building houses, medical centers, roads, wells, bridges, schools, markets, and in making other infrastructure improvements. Many of the rural communities featured were the New Life Hamlets.
Another well-represented theme is Encourage the Goals of the Chieu Hoi Program, referring to the South Vietnamese government program designed to encourage and facilitate the defection of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers back to the Southern cause.
The Explain American Presence in Vietnam grouping illustrates the activities of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam, with the purpose of assuring the rural people of the South of the friendly intentions of the United States. Several posters in this category feature South Korean forces engaged in similar activities. A small number also feature the activities in Vietnam of other allied forces from Thailand, New Zealand, the Philippines and Australia.
Another large category, Exploit All Military Victories, publicizes military victories won by Popular Forces, Regional Forces and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against the Viet Cong.
The paragraph above mentions, “Exploit All Military Victories.” This December 1967 leaflet to the Viet Cong nationwide exactly meets those criteria. Curiously, when American interrogators interviewed Viet Cong prisoners, they were told by the captives that propaganda showing that the Republic of Vietnam cared for and helped all the people was far better than showing dead Viet Cong bodies. The Americans never quite believed that and over and over leaflets were prepared showing dead Viet Cong fighters. This leaflet is a case in point. It depicts dead Viet Cong bodies on the front and back. The text on the front is:
HAVE YOU BEEN TOLD ABOUT THE BATTLE OF LOC NINH?
Hanoi newspapers have spread the news of the battle of Loc Ninh as a great victory, but the battle was a decisive defeat for the Communist troops. The true story of the battle of Loc Ninh is on the other side.
The back has photos of captured weapons, VC dead, and a long text. I will edit it for brevity.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BATTLE OF LOC NINH
Viet Cong weapons captured: 119 weapons including 47 crew weapons and 72 individual weapons.
Enemy casualties: 832 dead, 18 captured including a Viet Cong officer.
The scene of the battle is in Long Binh Province near the Cambodian border. It started on 2 November 1967, when a force of five Viet Cong regiments attacked Loc Ninh. The Civilian Irregular Defense Force of Loc Ninh was composed of about 200 men. The following day the Vietnamese 5th Infantry Division sent a battalion and the 1st U.S. Infantry Division sent 4 battalions to the battle area. The Vietnamese forces and allies, supported by fighter planes, helicopter gunships, and artillery, repulsed the enemy and inflicted heavy casualties. The Vietnamese and American casualties are: 31 dead, 165 wounded and 13 lost.
The Exploit Viet Cong Vulnerabilities highlights the depredations and atrocities committed by the Viet Cong in the South. Pictures show dead and wounded atrocity victims, funerals of victims, captured Viet Cong perpetrators, buildings damaged and destroyed in Viet Cong attacks, the hardships imposed on the people by Viet Cong actions, and anti-Viet Cong protest rallies. A few posters also relate the story of the Viet Cong defector, Nguyen Van Be, shown holding North Vietnamese newspapers that erroneously announce his sacrifice of his life for the sake of the Northern cause.
The smaller-volume categories feature messages on public health issues, Vietnamese armed forces recruitment, and a broad miscellany of subjects that include the U.S. Apollo 11 lunar mission, Vietnamese public security, and the inauguration ceremony for South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.
Air-drop leaflets: These were usually 3 X 6, normally printed on both sides; an average of 15 prototypes were developed each month. We had the capability of printing and air-dropping 1 billion per month.
Pamphlets: These were program-oriented; for example, they supported the IR-8 rice program, land reform, etc. They were printed in any quantity needed, ranging from 25,000 to 1,000,000 copies.
Airborne loudspeaker tapes: These were 30 to 40 second messages, normally produced in three dialects of Vietnamese.
JUSPAO had a printing plant in
Saigon. We were supported by a large USIA printing plant located in . The Manila U.S.military PSYOP Group had a printing plant in Vietnam, but depended also on the printing plant of the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa.
The Information Division was also an operations shop, with the more traditional roles of explaining American policy and projecting the U.S. image beginning in 1964 there was a more psychological operations slant to the efforts of the Information Division. This division was also into radio, television, motion pictures, photography and publications.
The Cultural Affairs Division was not involved in the propaganda business, being concerned with such programs as libraries, cultural centers and bi-national centers, book translations, and English teaching.
The Technical Division was largely USAIDs area of material assistance.
The North Vietnamese Affairs Division handled propaganda to the North, along the trails in Laos, and later in Cambodia.
The Mission Press Center was part of JUSPAO until 1968 when it was separated.
Chieu Hoi Propaganda Team Member
JUSPAO carried out extensive campaigns to induce North Vietnamese troops to surrender. The bulk of money and attention was focused on the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program to encourage Viet Cong to "rally" to the cause of the Republic of Vietnam. Begun in 1963 and administered by JUSPAO after its formation in 1965, the Chieu Hoi campaign resulted in billions of leaflets, millions of posters, magazines, and leaflets, and thousands of hours of loudspeaker exhortations encouraging Viet Cong defection; this is said to have been the largest propaganda campaign in history, with over 10 billion leaflets dropped in 1969 alone. In addition to offering amnesty and good treatment, monetary rewards were offered and paid to defectors who turned in weapons. Rewards were offered to third parties who induced Viet Cong to defect, with special bonuses for mass defections. These schemes were highly successful and were extended through 1969, but were terminated on 31 December 1969, probably because of abuses in awarding the money. We should also mention the Dai Doan Ket Program. This was a Chieu Hoi program aimed at middle and higher cadre in the Viet Cong. Most officers had come from the peasantry and it was believed that they would not rally to the Government just to be returned to the peasant class. This program promised to accept high-ranking returnees and place them in responsible positions.
The 6 August 1967 PSYOP Guide prepared by the Office of the Psychological Operations Directorate of the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, mentions the Dai Doan Ket Program:
Potential defectors need to be reassured concerning the treatment they will receive after rallying and the opportunities offered them for reintegration into society. Former middle-level and higher cadre have stated their desire to prove themselves by working for the Government of
in jobs that make use of their qualifications. Leaflets making specific reference to the Dai Doan Ket (National Reconciliation Program) which is aimed at helping qualified returnees find employment commensurate with their previous training and experience should be particularly useful in appealing to this group. Vietnam
There were numerous command and control problems at JUSPAO just as there were in the field PSYOP groups and battalions. Colonel William E. Linn was the Chief of Policy, Plans and Research and later the Assistant Director for Field Operations from March 1968 to April 1969. He wrote a PSYOP After-Action Report on 6 June 1969 that details the problems and recommendations for solving them. I will just mention a few of the more important ones. COL Linn is particularly disturbed that JUSPAO was never warned in advance about major policy shifts, and if given advance notice, was not allowed to utilize the information for PSYOP. He gives as example the bombing halts of March 1968 and October 1968. On both occasions JUSPAO was ready to tell the Vietnamese people why the bombing was halted. Because they had no guidance or permission they were unable to do so. As a result:
Hanoi propagandists had a field day pounding all Vietnamese target audiences that they had won a total victory; to fight on until the U.S. aggressors are forced out of Vietnam; that the North Vietnamese regime had not conceded anything to the United States at Paris; and that the United States was required to admit defeat due to U.S. and world public opinion; and that the bombing halt was proof that the communists fight in the Republic of Vietnam was just and right.
Linn complains about the lack of a single person in charge of all PSYOP in
. This complaint is seen again and again in after-actions. There was far too much division of authority. Vietnam
An interesting complaint is that although JUSPAO in theory is in general charge of PSYOP, they are not cleared to know what black operations are being performed by MACV-SOG. He worries that the two agencies might be sending different messages to the enemy:
It is recognized that this is a sensitive area, but we must also recognize that the effectiveness of PSYOP is predicated, to a large degree, on a coordinated effort. In the case of these two activities, the product they are attempting to sell should complement one another; thereby adding to the credibility of each others product.
Finally, a complaint that I have seen in almost every PSYOP after-action since the Korean War is the training of personnel. Linn says:
As an example, in the Army the bulk of resources for PSYOP come from the Armor and Artillery branches, while in the Air Force the majority are ex-bombardiers of other SAC personnel. A further deficiency in the selection criteria is that officers selected for the JUSPAO staff seldom if ever are old hands with background and experience.
Curiously. Linn supports his own argument. His signature block shows that he was a Colonel, Field Artillery.
Another complaint was made by William Lloyd Stearman who headed the North Vietnamese Affairs Division of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office from December 1965 to September 1967. He states that when he arrived he was the only officer in the Saigon mission that had actual experience with Communist affairs. Stearman says that the early leafleting campaign was not as effective as it could have been in his book: An American Adventure, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2012. He says that in 1965:
I scurried around the State Department in search of expertise on North Vietnam. To my astonishment, we had no one working fulltime on a country with which we had been de facto at war for nearly a year
JUSPAO was largely staffed by officers the United States Information Service and Army and Air Force officers. The result was an organization that was predictably weak in substance and long on techniques. I rarely heard any discussion on why we were doing anything. It was almost always about how we were doing it
[JUSPAO] got most of its information about the North from Vietnamese who came South in 1954 to escape Communist rule in the North. More than ten years had elapsed since they left and much had changed in the interim. In other words, their knowledge about the North was hopelessly outdated. I went through all the leaflets in our inventory and had a number of questions about them. I decided to show them to captured North Vietnamese Army soldiers to see their reaction. I was not surprised to see that they didnt seem to understand the messages. For one thing, there was a constant harping on the Chinese menace. Chinese forces, especially artillery, were in a large measure responsible for the decisive Communist defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. China provided considerable military assistance to the North In other words; I believed the people in the North had begun to look on the Chinese more as friends than as foes .
Thomas C. Sorensen tells us more about special JUSPAO teams in The Word War, Harper & Row, N.Y., 1968:
JUSPAO helped train six-man Van Tac Vu (Cultural Drama Service) troupes and assisted in the production of their material. The entertainers - among them, attractive actresses unaccustomed to hardship - traveled in black pajamas commonly worn by peasants, and lived with the villagers as they moved around the countryside, performing twenty or more shows a month. The troupes sang patriotic songs ("Vietnam, Vietnam" and "Our House"), amused and indoctrinated the peasantry with primitive dramas about villainous Viet Cong and heroic South Vietnamese soldiers and officials, and off stage distributed medicines, seed, food, and pamphlets, and helped at chores ranging from repairing damaged buildings to bathing infants.
The PSYOP Guide also mentions Culture Drama teams:
This group, made up of all types of entertainers, provides culture drama shows for Vietnamese military primarily in the Capital Military District. Organic to each POLWAR Battalion in the four Corps is a culture Platoon which provides entertainment throughout the Corps area in the form of songs, dramas, dances and similar activities. In the remote areas, these platoons may provide the only source of entertainment for the people.
Under the heading Current Activities the PSYOP Guide mentions other programs of interest:
Armed Propaganda Teams are made up of ralliers under the Chieu Hoi Program. The teams provide their own protection and have proven most effective in obtaining ralliers, quite frequently by interacting with the families of known Viet Cong.
Mobile Training Teams provide on-site indoctrination training for the Popular Forces in each of the four Corps. The purpose of the teams is to promote solidarity and morale of the Popular Forces.
Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP). The basic intent of MEDCAP is to establish and maintain a continuing spirit of mutual respect and cooperation between the Vietnamese and
military medical personal and the civilian population by providing basic medical care to the people living in rural and often Viet Cong infested villages and hamlets. U.S.
Under PSYOP Programs the 1968 Guide says:
The Chieu Hoi Program consists of all activities designed to cause members of the Viet Cong and their supporters to return to the rightful and legitimate government of the
. Republicof Vietnam
The Dai Doan Ket Program extends the Chieu Hoi program to middle and high level Viet Cong cadre.
The B-52 Follow-up Program. Within four hours of a B-52 strike leaflets are dropped informing the enemy that he has been bombed by B-52s and showing him a picture of the bomber which flies so high that he would otherwise never see it. It reminds him that the bombers will come again and urges the Viet Cong to use the safe conduct pass.
The North Vietnamese personnel in South Vietnam Program is designed to create doubts and fears in the minds of enemy troops about their chance of survival; the dangers of injury and disease; burial in unmarked graves; the hopelessness of their situation; the fate of their friends and relatives in the north, and the competence of their commanders.
The Weapons Reward Program offers money and gifts for retrieval of weapons and ordnance.
The Defoliation Program provides security for lines of communication by removing dense vegetation that could be used to conceal ambush sites, remove jungle cover from enemy base areas and infiltration routes, and provide increased visibility around friendly installations. PSYOP programs can minimize any adverse psychological impact of defoliation and reduce the effect of enemy propaganda by providing the population with timely information. The defoliant used in
is particularly effective against broadleaf vegetation and is harmless to men and animals. Vietnam
The Frantic Goat Campaign formally known as Fact Sheet disseminates news and related facts to
. North Vietnam
The Trail Campaign is directed against military and civilian personnel who use and maintain the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The Tallyho Campaign is conducted in the panhandle area of
against the civilians who maintain the lines of communications and warns them that the lines will continue to be interdicted and bombed. North Vietnam
The later December 1973 Survey of Psychological Operations in Vietnam adds more data about operations at the end of the war:
Agreements were signed earlier this year, most leaflet operations were halted. Operation Trail, a leaflet program against North Vietnamese troops on the Ho Chi Minh Trail; the Royal Lao air Force Operation Fountain Pen, directed against North Vietnamese troops in Laos, and Operation Rice River, directed against North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia, continued for a period. Paris
There is one Khmer language leaflet campaign. Operation Big Show, a gray leaflet (without attribution) by the Khmer government Operation Freedom Care, a white leaflet (U.S. attribution) to Vietnamese communists in the Khmer Republic the Khmer Republic has a small leaflet program. The government of
leaflet program is sharply limited and rated ineffective Vietnam
Most of the leaflet printing capability is in the hands of the Americans Giant presses are operated by the Seventh PSYOP Group in Okinawa and at the United States Information Agencys Regional Service Center in Manila.
Bob Fulton was the Executive Officer for Regional Service Center (RSC) in Manila, (part of the United States Information Agency (USIA). He told me about the printing plant:
In mid-1967 JUSPAO and MACV outsourced to our organization a significant portion of the design, procurement, production and logistics of printed PSYOP products, especially those that required four-colors. This was a Department of Defense-State Department level joint decision based in part on capacity and capability, strategic location, and a few convoluted international and domestic political considerations. Until I left in the second half of 1970, almost the entire high-altitude leaflet drops were printed on our presses, packed in our plant in triple-wall cardboard air-drop containers together with release shrouds, and either shipped to Clark AFB or by U.S. ship to a Republic of Vietnam or Thailand port for subsequent transport to one of five bases. If memory serves me correctly, October or November 1968 was the high mark for leaflet drops, almost 1 billion, and we produced 75% to 80% of that total.
Other officials talking about the Manila plant added:
USIA's Regional Service Center in Manila has three main functions: (1) producing publications originated by USIA in Washington for distribution to USIS posts in Asia; (2) producing publications originated by USIS posts in Asia for their own use; and (3) editing and producing regional publications. Products include magazines, photo newspaper inserts, leaflets, posters and "fast pamphlets. The latter, frequently full texts of Presidential statements, are keyed to major foreign policy events in which the time element is important.
Among the 11 American and 231 Filipino employees currently at the Regional Service Center are editors, artists, photo specialists and skilled printing technicians.
There was no U.S. Army PSYOP commander, although JUSPAO was represented at command level through a coordinating committee.
The President of the United States directed in 1970 that an Ad Hoc PSYOP Committee on Vietnam be formed to provide direction for and coordination of psychological warfare against the Vietnamese Communists. The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Group proposed the following objectives for more effective coordination of psychological operations against the Vietnamese Communists.
1. Develop a National Psychological Warfare strategy directed against the Vietnamese Communists, including psychological objectives to be accomplished.
2. Coordinate the overall psychological warfare effort against the Vietnamese Communists.
3. Provide thematic guidance.
4. Prepare periodic reports to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs on our psychological warfare operations against the Vietnamese Communists.
5. Assess the anticipated psychological impact of
related policy options as appropriate. Vietnam
Other 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, were to be referred to the President for approval. Additional recommendations were to persuade the Communist Party leadership to change its policies; increase internal tensions, doubts, and policies; and motivate the Vietnamese people to question the wisdom of the North Vietnamese Government. The proposed targets were 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.
The United States Prepares to pull out of Vietnam
Under President Nixons plan of Vietnamization; giving the war to the South Vietnamese, PSYOP units began to disband. The 4th PSYOP Group disbanded in 12 October 1971.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to get the North Vietnamese to the peace table the United States began the bombing of the North. This campaign was called Operation FIELD GOAL, a psychological operation against North Vietnam from July 1972 to the cease-fire in January 1973. The original plan for directing PSYOP against NVN existed in 1965 under the code name FACT SHEET. Originally conceived by JUSPAO as a threat campaign, its main message threatened increased bombing if the North Vietnamese continued to support their government's policies. Later, the program was renamed FRANTIC GOAT and was redirected to inform the people of North Vietnam of the actual progress of the war and of the intentions of the government of the Republic of Vietnam and its Allies. The total number of leaflets dropped by all aircraft types during FIELD GOAL operations from 1 July 1972 to 28 January 1973 was 660,649,000. This was an average of slightly over 94 million per month compared to the desired 240 million.
On 1 July 1972, the management and control of PSYOP in Southeast Asia (SEA) shifted from the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC). The general concept developed for post-Vietnamization PSYOP aerial activity continued to be the high-altitude, wind-drift delivery of leaflets to targeted areas.
The 5th, 7th, and 13th Air Forces, provided delivery and logistics support. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was tasked to provide B-52s or drone aircraft when authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The Army's 7th Psychological Operations Group in Okinawa, provided the packaged leaflets, handling and loading, and information on tile wind-borne characteristics of the leaflets.
The Location of U.S. PSYOP Units
U. S. Army Major Michael G. Barger wrote a thesis entitled Psychological Operations Supporting Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam. In it, he gave a chronology of PSYOP in Vietnam. We mention some of the more important dates here:
27 APR 1960 - CINCPAC directs deployment of PSYWAR personnel to Vietnam.
FEB 1962 - First PSYWAR Mobile Training Team (MTT) arrives in Vietnam
14 MAY 1965 - Formation of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO).
22 JUL 1965 - 1st Provisional PSYOP Detachment ordered to Vietnam by U.S. Army Broadcasting and Visual Activity Pacific (USABVAPAC)
02 SEP 1965 - 24th PSYOP Detachment arrives in Qui Nhon.
07 FEB 1966 - 6th PSYOP Battalion activated at Tan Son Nhut.
10 FEB 1966 - 244th, 245th, and 246th Tactical Propaganda Companies activated at Nha Trang, Pleiku, and Bien Hoa.
19 NOV 1966 - 19th PSYOP Company (Advice and Support) activated at Can Tho.
01 DEC 1967 - 6th PSYOP Battalion redesignated 4th PSYOP Group; 244th PSYOP Company redesignated 7th PSYOP Battalion; 245th PSYOP Company redesignated 8th PSYOP Battalion; 19th PSYOP Company redesignated 10th PSYOP Battalion.
05 DEC 1967 - 246th PSYOP Company redesignated 6th PSYOP Battalion.
16 APR 1971 - 10th PSYOP Battalion inactivated.
26 JUN 1971 - 8th PSYOP Battalion inactivated.
30 JUN 1971 - 6th PSYOP Battalion inactivated.
02 OCT 1971 - 4th PSYOP Group inactivated.
21 DEC 1971 - 7th PSYOP Battalion inactivated.
Leaflet Codes and Colors
The vast majority of Vietnam leaflets bore codes or designations. For the most part they are simple to read. In general, the originating unit placed its number first, then the number of the leaflet (for that year), and finally the year itself. So, we would expect to find leaflets starting with 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 244, 245, 246, etc. A leaflet will generally have a code like 6-250-68 which indicates that it was the 250th leaflet produced (or distributed) in 1968 by the 6th PSYOP Battalion. An American leaflet with no code is probably one produced by Special Forces prior to 1967.
Early JUSPAO leaflets had the code "SP" (Special Project) before the leaflet number. For example, SP-2250. JUSPAO removed the "SP" when it became clear that it identified the leaflet as American in origin. The later leaflets would have only a numerical code like "4450." This was explained in an issue of the 4th PSYOP Group monthly magazine Credibilis of 10 January 1968 which explained the change thusly:
Letters of the alphabet will no longer be used in 4th PSYOP Group leaflet designations to eliminate any markings which would tend to identify the leaflet as being of American Origin.
The earliest numbered leaflets (before they were marked with a unit number) simply showed a numerical and a year. For instance, leaflets in the I Corps Tactical Zone Leaflet Catalog Joint Psywar Civil Affairs Center, have codes like 79-66 or 183-66. The catalog calls them the 66 series but it seems clear these were produced by the 244th PSYOP Company. Later on, unit designations were added. Number coded leaflets starting with "4-" are Fourth PSYOP Group. Number coded leaflets starting with "6-" are Sixth PSYOP Battalion, "7-" are Seventh PSYOP Battalion, "8-" are Eighth PSYOP Battalion, and "10-" are Tenth PSYOP Battalion. Higher numbered leaflets are usually the earlier PSYOP Companies; "19-" are the 19th PSYOP Company and curiously we sometimes see that 19 as the middle number of a leaflet like 6-19-67, 244- are the 244th PSYOP Company, "245-" are the 245th PSYOP Company and "246-" represents the 246th PSYOP Company. I have not seen leaflets starting "24-", but there may be some printed by the 24th PSYOP Company.
In addition, there were a number of special codes. Leaflets dropped along the Ho Chi Minh Trail as part of the "Trail Campaign" had the letter T at the front. An example is T80. If the Ts was at the end of the code like 95T it indicated that the leaflet was designed for another campaign but modified for use on the trail. Leaflets dropped on North Vietnam during the Operation Fact Sheet or Operation Frantic Goat of 1965-68 have very low numbers, from 1-151. There are leaflets in the Lao language designed by the Lao Government with American help and printed by U.S. PSYOP units during the Vietnam War that have very low code numbers preceded by a period. Examples are .1, .110, and .530. There are other codes such as "A" (the basic form of a leaflet when there is more than one variation following variations would be B, C. D, etc); "H" (handbill), "P" (poster) and "R" at the end of the leaflet (reprint or revision - found only on B-52 post-strike leaflets like 146-66-R) and letters like a, b, and c, at the end of the numbers which indicate versions, revisions or one of a series. The code NP was the newspaper Nhan Van (Human Knowledge).
The code “CC” stood for the Combined Center of the IV Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It was one of four Corps in the ARVN, and it oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country. The leaflets were printed for the IV Corps by the U.S. 10th PSYOP Battalion, which was headquartered in the 4th Combat Zone. CP represents Camel Path, the secret operation in Cambodia. The CP is sometimes hidden inside the code such as T-1-CP-C which could show the leaflet was dropped on the Ho Chi Minh Trail as part of Camel Path for Cambodia. The CP leaflets were quite secret and cancelled early. I think some might have been disguised. I recently saw the leaflet CP-08 that was identical to another coded just P-08. This might have been done to hide the Cambodian connection or because the CP code had been discontinued.
ATF leaflets were printed by the Australians. In addition, there are other codes such as F we cannot identify. HQ was the headquarters of the 6th Battalion, later the 4th Group for leaflet use in South Vietnam.
L at the end of a leaflet indicates it was printed on a light paper to make use of light prevailing winds (16-pound paper instead of the normal 20-pound paper), M (leaflets seem to be all in the Cambodian language), we don't know much about the NT series (NT3, NT4 etc.), P, was original for PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam), now NVA, and targeted NVA inside South Vietnam Q, R followed by a single digit like R-4 indicates a scrap leaflet designed for various campaigns. "R" within the body or at the end of the leaflet indicates a revision, and example is 146-66-R. S (in Vietnamese or Lao) for slam such as "S-3 or S12, [One official document explained this as: SEEKING throughout the Panhandle for enemy concentration; LOCATING specific enemy targets and focusing reconnaissance agencies on the specific area; ANNIHILATING the enemy forces, equipment, and installations in the target area and MONITORING afterwards to ensure complete annihilation and deny to the enemy any further use] which later became the trail campaign "T-01 or T-013", “S” at the end of a leaflet like 116S indicates a summer leaflet on 16-pound paper (116S). “SPC” (For the North Vietnamese in Laos or Cambodia or on the way down the Ho Chi Minh Trail) V, X, another scrap leaflet used without regard to dissemination characteristics, so they are leaflets just printed in blank spaces on sheets to utilize the paper more efficiently. The letters N and P after the numbers such as following the 245 of the 245th PSYOP Battalion indicate Nha Trang or Pleiku locations. In the same way, some units have more than one printing facility so a number will be added at the end of the unit number, such as 8(1) which indicates the Pleiku Detachment of the 8th PSYOP Battalion.
We should point out that apparently nobody bothered to record the meaning of the codes or who printed the leaflets during the war. Some we have been able to decipher by unit, language or message, but many are still unknown today. There may be a reason for the mystery. We were told that some of the codes were in regard to classified missions.
Leaflets printed by the Vietnamese Armed Forces or ARVN usually start with a DV such as DV15AH2268 or the letter A followed by numbers or letters such as A5V4. Other Vietnamese leaflets start with D.S.V. which we believe is dan su vu meaning “Civil Affairs.” An example is D.S.V./63/14
The 4th PSYOP Group magazine Credibilis of July 1968 mentions the American study of colors that might affect the Vietnamese in different ways:
The Product Development Center (PDC) Group is studying the wonderful world of color to determine what effects different shades have on the Vietnamese. Captain Capers G. Barr III, group PDC plans officer, said the results of the study, expected to be completed this summer, will be used in the development of group PSYOP materials.
Questionnaires concerning the impact of red, green, yellow, blue, orange, and purple color have been distributed to the group's battalions. They will be completed by more than 450 Hoi Chanhs, POWs, refugees, civilians, and Vietnamese armed forces troops insuring a broad cross section response.
With help from the interviewees, the in-depth study hopes to shed light on three areas: the meaning, if any, associated with each color, the emotional response each color might evoke and the preferred hue of each color. Anticipating the outcome of the study, Captain Barr said, “We will attempt to use colors in our leaflets and posters that have a definite impact.”
He admitted, however, that the study may discover that “a color is just a color” to Vietnamese.
The question arose once again the Credibilis of December 1968 in an article titled, “Shades of Meaning.” It says that 250 questionnaires were sent out to each of the group’s four battalions with 759 useable responses returned. I have edited this for brevity.
Questions were asked such as, “what color do you equate with happiness?” The most common answer to this question was “blue.” Another section depicted various shades of color and asked which one the reader preferred. The results must be used with care since matters can become more complicated. For example, red is associated by many Vietnamese with blood and war. But, during Tet, small gifts of money are presented in a red envelope. Purple meant love to some Vietnamese and sadness to others. A set of 10 sample leaflets will be designed that can either be printed in either black and white or color to check their effect on finders. By 19 December, a non-technical “how to do it” report will be available to the battalions. A full-scale analysis will be available later.
They must have found something of interest, because about 1970 I first saw a Military Assistance Command Vietnam and 4th PSYOP Group chart of the colors that were good and bad to use on leaflets for Vietnam. The PhDs and cultural experts had done 760 surveys and printed out a chart showing what colors were safe and trusted and which ones were to be avoided if possible. I don't know if this chart was helpful at all but here are the colors and the alleged emotions they arouse in the Vietnamese people. I doubt if this chart was used extensively.
Black - Death, mourning, bad luck, danger, fear, the Viet Cong, war and sadness.
Blue - Hope, family, good luck, happiness, love and peace.
Green - Hope, family, good luck, happiness, prosperity and peace.
Purple - Love and sadness,
Red - Blood, anger, danger, death, fear, the Viet Cong and war.
White - Purity, peace and chastity.
Yellow - Skin color, the GVN, prosperity and nobility.
Pink - Love.
In the Monthly Operations Report of the 7th PSYOP Group dated 10 May 1971 we see another mention of color:
Results of interviews conducted in Kontum indicate that the significance of color varies greatly from one place to another and from one Montagnard tribe to another. Consequently, no standard color pattern can be applied uniformly.
Other Units Involved with Leaflets Although not PSYOP.
The II Field Force Vietnam Leaflet Catalog
Several Units oversaw large areas or large amounts of troops. They often were involved in PSYOP and printed their own catalogs. One was the II Field Force Vietnam. We know from their catalog that in 1968 they first used the 246th PSYOP Company, and later the 6th PSYOP Battalion to print leaflets. Our research shows that they supported combat units such as the 25th Infantry Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS), and the 9th Infantry Division.
This is a typical leaflet from the II Field Force Vietnam printed by the 6th PSYOP Battalion. It is meant to turn the Vietnamese populace away from the Viet Cong with te title “The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army has been defeated.” 50,000 copies were printed. The leaflet was approved by the IIFFV on 9 May 1968. The front of the leaflet shows the local villagers telling the Viet Cong guerrillas to go away. Even their dog barks at the Viet Cong. The text is:
Go away, we don't want your kind of liberation.
The text on the back is:
On 4 May 1968 the VC and NVA Forces launched their offensive on provinces, cities, towns, and the Capital City of Saigon. They thought that they would win over the GVN and Allied Forces as well as gain the people's support in this attack. But they were defeated as the people had turned away from them and helped the Government destroy the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army.
Since 4 May 1968 till now there have been over 3,000 Viet Cong killed including some NVA Soldiers. Regarding the enemy attack on the city of Saigon, the GVN Forces have appropriately reacted against the attackers. The infiltrated VC Troops were nearly destroyed by GVN or Allies. There are still a minority of battered NLF Troops hiding on the outskirts of the city who are being surrounded and will be hunted down.
The I Corps Tactical Zone Leaflet Catalog.
There were four tactical zones in Vietnam It is possible that each zone had their own leaflet catalog, but I have only seen this one. Notice it is a Joint PSYWAR (The title used in the Korean War) Civil Affairs Center. The insignia at the left is Vietnamese so this catalog was sponsored by both Vietnamese and American Commands. All the leaflets bear the number “66” at the end so we assume this catalog was in use in 1966 before the large PSYOP specialist units arrived in Vietnam.
This is a typical leaflet from the I Corps Tactical Zone. The front shows a Viet Cong guerrilla in a farmer’s house firing out the window. To his right we see U.S. fighter-bombers, a mortar, and two armed soldiers. The text warns the people:
KEEP THE VIET CONG OUT OF YOUR HOMES.
The Viet Cong are very cruel and are cowards. They often use the people’s homes as shelters to shoot at the toward the government troops. The people are requested to inform the military authorities of the presence of Viet Cong in their homes.
The back shows the home destroyed by explosives and says in part:
Because the Viet Cong fire from these homes, our soldiers, in self-defense must fire back and thereby cause some destruction. The Viet Cong then can print deceitful propaganda provoking the hate of the people against the government soldiers….
III Corps PSYOP Detachment Leaflet and Tape Catalog
Although the catalog is not dated, we see that some leaflets mention attacks that occurred in 1965, some leaflets are dated 1966, and toward the end of the catalog we see leaflets from the 246th PSYOP Company. This gives us an idea of when this all took part, just before the arrival of the PSYOP companies in Vietnam. The introduction to this catalog says:
To improve the quality and reaction time of PSYOP support in the areas of leaflet and loudspeaker operations, efforts are being made to standardize much of the better-quality material as it is produced. A large percentage of all such material can be categorized. Certain leaflets and tapes listed herein are marked STANDARD. These leaflets and tapes are available in small quantities for immediate delivery. Material included in this catalog that is not marked STANDARD is intended as examples of output that may stimulate ideas. In some cases, the non-standard leaflet may be appropriate to use again with minor modifications.
However, any non-standard leaflet requested must be re-printed because the stock level of such leaflets is not maintained. Any request for printed or taped material should be forwarded to this detachment through normal channels (telephone, message center, etc.). Requests for either STANDARD or original material should be submitted on the “PSYOP Request Form.”
If a request is submitted via telephone, follow the format. All sections of the request form should be as complete as possible. This procedure will result in the production of better-quality material, the collection of information, and assist in determining if a useful product is already available in stock. The corps detachment, working jointly with Vietnamese PSYOP units, has trained announcers, writers, artists, and intelligence analysts. Except in unique situations, the finished product should be determined by these specialists.
Several standard leaflets are depicted. Notice that in most cases the leaflet has been taped to the page and the tape has discolored. It appears as a dark rectangle over the leaflet. The first leaflet depicted is the standard safe conduct pass, coded 893, which is shown elsewhere in this article.
The second is job #042 which depicts a Viet Cong fighter facing massive U.S. and Vietnamese armament and weapons.
The text on the back is:
The Viet Cong and their sympathizers can no longer survive in this area - They are faced with the tremendous power of the Allied forces - on the side of the government are swarms of aircraft, the most modern light and heavy artillery and the deadliest personal weapons, all supported by unlimited manpower and resources. This area is now being cleared and will be policed by this powerful force. Victory for the Government of Vietnam is positive - Defeat of the Viet Cong is inevitable.
Part II of the catalog is non-standard leaflets. These are various samples that have been printed in the past and can be reprinted as needed.
This leaflet depicts a Vietnamese civilian pointing out Viet Cong guerrillas hiding in the woods. The text on the front and back is:
We are American soldiers who come to Vietnam as your friends. We are here to help you in every way we can. We will stay until the Viet Cong are defeated and you are able to live in peace and happiness. We can help you better if you help us.
Do you know where the Viet Cong are hiding? How many Viet Cong are there? Do you know where Viet Cong weapons are hidden? Are there Viet Cong mines planted in the area? Do you know where Viet Cong food is hidden? Please show me where. We wish you and your family safety and much happiness.
We don’t see four-color leaflets too often. They require multiple runs through the printing press and that makes them slow and expensive to print. There are a group of these leaflets in the North Vietnam bombing campaign article coded 100-104. They are all in a vertical format. The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office did a few of these in a horizontal format, and since we are talking about color, I thought I would show some here. Notice that both these leaflets have other code numbers like 8-798, and this implies that the Vietnamese were also distributing them using their codes. Both full-color leaflets were printed in July 1968. The front of this leaflet shows Vietnamese people shopping on a crowded street. At the right is a Chieu Hoi symbol and the text:
SOUTH VIETNAM ENJOYS PROSPERITY AND FREEDOM
Do you know that South Vietnam is enjoying prosperity and freedom while the war is still going on? There is plenty of food, money, and clothes in the South’s markets and citizens are free to buy whatever they want. That is the result of the free and democratic regime of the South. If you have a chance to get in touch with people, you will realize that fact.
Why continue to waste your youth in hardship while people in South Vietnam do not want your struggle. Return to the people, rebuild a prosperous life for yourself and contribute to the making of peace for your counter.
The back of this leaflet depicts photographs of people worshipping their religion in various churches and temples. The text is:
THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE ENJOY FREEDOM OF RELIGION. ALL RELIGIONS COEXIST BEAUTIFULLY.
The leaflet above depicts Vietnamese boys with their motorcycles, adults shopping for material, and women at a poultry market. The back has two photographs, one shows people shopping at a busy outdoor market and the other a woman buying fruit from a stand piled high with different delicacies. The text at the bottom front is:
THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM OFFERS PEOPLE OPPORTUNITIES TO HAVE A GOOD LIFE.
The “CC” Series
The code “CC” stood for the Combined Center of the IV Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It was one of four corps in the ARVN, and it oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country. The leaflets were printed for the IV Corps by the U.S. 10th PSYOP Battalion, which was headquartered in the 4th Combat Zone. These leaflets are very rare, and although I have some documents that indicate there were at least 833 different leaflets and posters printed (and likely more than that), I have only seen about one dozen. And they all were printed in 1970. Several were all text and bore messages and a space for a different enemy force to be named. I would have expected these to be Viet Cong units, but they all seem to be North Vietnamese Army units, including the 18B, 88th, 101D, and 273rd NVA Regiments, and the 261B NVA Battalion. I have seen one poster that explains the “Land to the Tiller” program where the farmers own their land and can claim compensation for losses due to the fighting in the south. One leaflet tells the NVA where to rally and another tells them that in 1969, 68,550 cadre and soldiers rallied to the Republic of Vietnam.
This tactical leaflet targets the 273rd NVA Regiment. It depicts a dead soldier or very sick soldier on the ground. There are some small lines on the drawing that could imply he was shaking, a symptom of malaria when the victim feels cold. As a one-time medic I can tell you that a tell-tell sign of malaria is the constant change from fever to chills. The text on the front is:
To members of the 273rd NVA Regiment,
We know that your unit has over 126 comrades coming down with malaria. Do you know that malaria is a dangerous and devastating disease. It is hard to cure and can incapacitate you. All throughout human history it has taken a heavy toll of life and has drained the energy of man.
The text on the back explains that the Republic of Vietnam has excellent medical facilities and is happy to treat any members of the NVA with the best treatments available. It also points out that there is a Chieu Hoi program and invites them to take advantages of it. The text is very “gentile” and does seem to be written by Vietnamese for Vietnamese.
A lot of thought was given to these medical leaflets. The Viet Cong often claimed that they had wonderful medical facilities in the bush. They spoke of large hospitals holding up to 400 patients, underground hospitals dug deep into the earth, and even medical evacuation of severely wounded Communist troops to the North. The question in the mind of American PSYOP specialists was, could they really treat malaria, dysentery, typhoid fever, pneumonia, tuberculosis, leprosy, nerve diseases, kidney diseases and appendicitis.
Lieutenant David Underhill, one of the 7th PSYOP Groups top experts, did not believe they could. He came up with a plan to work on the medical deficiencies of the enemy troops in the bush. He wrote (edited for brevity):
The following approach will be followed. Leaflets depicting Government of Vietnam medical and health care programs should be prepared with low-key text telling of the Government of Vietnam’s concern for its people. For example, it might show a medical doctor or corpsman giving inoculations to children or adults and the text could point out that whole villages or hamlets or the nation could be safely mass inoculated.
Rural and urban “drug stores” could be depicted telling of the readily available high-quality medicines. A druggist could be shown with a modern refrigerator and the text could explain the requirement for modern refrigeration to prevent spoiling or contamination of medicines in the tropical heat. This approach should tend to present the enemy with facts he is not aware of. The deaths of friends and known deaths of individuals while undergoing treatment might be attributed to inferior medical service when compared to the information presented on the leaflets.
Treatment of South Vietnamese troops along with prisoners of war should be shown to lessen enemy fears concerning rallying. This approach is better than attacking the enemy’s medical service. Some Viet Cong may have received good treatment or believe that their medical services are excellent thought they have never used them. They might think attacks on their services is incorrect and if so, we lose credibility. If he reads our leaflets, he may wonder if his medical services are as good as they should be, or that ours might be better. It could cause him to hold the Government of Vietnam and allies in higher regard for the interest they have in the welfare of all the people.
This tactical leaflet is also aimed at NVA units and expresses great worry about their safety. The image depicts NVA soldiers caught in a mine field and being killed and injured. The text on the front is:
To members of the NVA C-19 Engineer Company and 18B Regiment,
Will you be next?
The text on the back mentions the many members of the units that have been killed by mines and bobby traps. The area is covered with mines and explosives and is unsafe. If they immediately surrender through the Chieu Hoi program, they will safely leave the area and be resettled in the south.
The artwork on this leaflet is exceptional. It depicts two young fighters surrendering, one holds a leaflet, the other holds a piece of white cloth. I suspect the artist was Vietnamese because the picture is done with such sensitivity. The text on the front is:
Return to the Government of The Republic of Vietnam.
The text on the back is:
You can use this leaflet as a pass to return to the Government of The Republic of Vietnam. Even without the leaflet, you'll be received with hospitality. You may report to any ARVN or Allied unit or post. You will be duly awarded for any weapon turned in. You will be well treated and may later join your family.
The CC leaflet is a bit different because many of the leaflets are all text, and others have drawings. This one has a photograph of a Viet Cong member in the bush finding a propaganda leaflet. The text on the front is:
The Government of Vietnam always keeps the pledges it makes.
Since 1969, 68,500 Communist cadre have rallied and enjoyed all the benefits on the back side[of this leaflet].
The back of the leaflet is all text and mentions eight benefits:
The Hoi Chanh will be warmly received.
A subsistence allowance of $50 a day for each family member including the wife and children.
Clothing values at $1000VN.
Pocket money of 300VN a month.
Medical care free of charge for him and his family.
Receive vocation training at the Chieu Hoi Center,
Resettlement allowance of $1200VN,
Rewards for weapons.
The “P” Series
The code “P,” was originally for “People’s Army of Viet Nam,” (PAVN), later called the North Vietnam Army (now NVA), and targeted members of the NVA inside South Vietnam.
The front depicts four photographs of happy citizens of the Republic of Vietnam. The text is:
ASPECTS OF THE PEOPLE’S LIFE IN VIETNAM
Happy family reunion – Busy city scene – Ample rice supply – Modern factory
The back is all text:
As you can see, the people of South Vietnam are progressing in many ways. We do not need the Communist Party liberation to be happy.
The Communist Party aggression is sure to be defeated. Do not die in a hopeless cause. Use the National Safe Conduct Pass to join the just cause and enjoy a good and happy life. When the war is over you can continue to enjoy your new life in the South or return to your home in the North.
Chieu Hoi leaflet P-05 depicts happy Communist North Vietnam Army defectors enjoying a meal in a South Vietnamese Chieu Hoi Center. This leaflet is found in both a horizontal and a vertical format, though the text has not been changed. The text on the front says:
Sergeant Vu Tuan Anh. 33rd Regiment, 320th North Vietnamese Division, enjoys a meal at the Pleiku Chieu Hoi Center.
The back is all text and says:
THESE MEN USED THE SAFE CONDUCT PASS
These men are enjoying life in one of South Vietnam's “Open Arms” centers. They have stopped killing the innocent people of the South. The Government of South Vietnam offers a warm welcome to those who will voluntarily leave the ranks of the aggressors and join the cause. More than 30,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers and cadre have left the ranks of the Liberation Army.
You can do so too. Use the National Safe Conduct Pass to join the Just Cause. You will be warmly welcomed.
I have seen at least ten of the P leaflets. Examples are: P-01 (Where are your comrades?); P-02 (Life in South Vietnam); P-04 (Aspects of peoples life in South Vietnam); and P-010 (Where is the liberated territory?). The image on P-08 above depicts an American helping a Vietnamese with construction. Some of the text is:
IS THIS IMPERIALISM?
The United States is the richest and most powerful country in the world. What does it need from Vietnam? NOTHING. In fact, it is now giving free Vietnam 40,000,000,000 piasters in food and economic assistance a year. Is this the new form of imperialism as propagandized and distorted by the North Vietnamese Communists?
We mention Catalog several times in this article. I have a number of such catalogs and their use is explained the 1969 document Employment of U.S. Army Psychological Operation Units in Vietnam:
Each PSYOP battalion published a catalog listing 600 to 800 available leaflets. The catalog was numerically indexed and gave data on leaflet number, theme, target, size and color of the leaflet, together with the leaflet and English translation. Catalogs were inventoried and screened periodically to maintain current leaflets. Catalogs were distributed to tactical units and PSYOP customers to facilitate ordering specific leaflets for the target audience. Action was taken by the 4th PSYOP Group to cross-index leaflet catalogs according to PSYOP themes. It was noted that several units initiated or completed indexing of catalogs by target audiences as well.
I think sometimes we forget how dedicated these young troops coming down from the North to "liberate" the South were. A Vietnam veteran I showed these leaflets to told me:
We found some of those leaflets in the Iron Triangle in 1968, partially burned in a bunker complex. We had a couple of North Vietnamese Army prisoners and we asked them what the leaflets said. One POW spoke some English. Our Lieutenant tried to hand one to him. He would not take it but told us it was for traitors, and they would kill anyone that touched them.
PSYOP troops are always studying the effectiveness of these leaflets, and I am sure they never thought they were so despised that the NVA troops did not even want to dirty their hands by touching them.
The Effectiveness of U.S. PSYOPS Leaflets
Speaking of effectiveness of leaflets, I should mention that they were always being assessed and studied. After two major world wars and dozens of smaller wars you would assume there was agreement on all the phases of PSYOP. You would be wrong. I attended a Worldwide PSYOP Conference several years ago and the entire meeting seemed to be about the way to determine the effectiveness of leaflets. Some attendees believed that effectiveness could not always be proven, while others believed that using mathematical formulae, anything and everything could be determined. Above is one of many booklets on the subject and after decades of leafleting it starts off with, “A method is needed to objectively pretest PSYOP leaflets directed at the variety of target audiences…” They are not even sure how they should go about pretesting leaflets before they are dropped. After the drop is another question entirely. So, the reader should keep in mind that leafleting and PSYOP is as much an art as it is a science, and nobody has completely figured it out yet.
The "SPC" Leaflets
We don’t know much about the SPC leaflets. My files show that they seem to have started out targeting the North Vietnamese in Cambodia, then added Laos, then added those troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and finally added the North Vietnamese troops already settled in the south that might be getting homesick. Some examples are depicted below.
This first leaflet targets the North Vietnam troops and mentions Cambodia. It depicts an unhappy NVA soldier thinking about how bad the war has gone. The text on the front is:
THE QUESTION OF SURVIVAL.
At present, your northern comrades are being attacked by the combined military strength of the South Vietnamese army and our American allies in Cambodia. Many of your comrades are asking themselves what are the chances of survival? The question of survival has confronted them because of our determination to destroy their Cambodian refuge, once and for all. Many of your comrades, however, did not take the opportunity to evaluate their chances for survival. They recklessly believe in the north Vietnam Communist party's propaganda of “glorious victories” in the South. Now they are dead in this tragic Cambodian battlefield.
This May 1970 leaflet targeted North Vietnamese troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to create and/or exploit nostalgia. The leaflet was designed by the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam and sent off-shore (probably to the 7th Group on Okinawa) for printing and delivery according to established procedures. The poem was titled "My Sister," and contains 10 verses. I have translated the first five:
I have a little sister,
as beautiful as a poem.
Her name sounds like "Dream."
Her husband was drafted away.
For two years, she hoped
to see her man home.
From the far away battlefield
where the men go,
but no news from them come back.
She usually wept when alone,
and moaned, reproached, and resented
those who instigated this war.
And caused wives to be parted
from the husband they beloved.
Women usually wanted their men back.
My sister missed her husband,
and used to be afraid and nervous,
each time news spread over,
that more and more youths
had been drafted by Uncle Ho’s order.
She sat late at night.
Each time she saw the troops,
moving to the distant Battlefield “B.”
But none of them return,
while more and more went away.
This leaflet features two North Vietnam soldiers in Laos talking to a farmer. They might be about to buy some food, or perhaps steal some food. The leaflet suggests they can talk to the farmer about defecting. The text on the front is:
The most essential thing to do is to save your life and return to the North. If you need food, trade your equipment with the Laotian people.
The back is all text:
SAVE YOUR LIFE.
As you infiltrate South and find yourselves in this mountainous area, you may feel abandoned and may consider your future dim.
The further you travel the further the distance seems to be. You must cross over many dangerous mountains and you must constantly hide and try to avoid detection. Soon you’ll begin to realize your dilemma. Death and hardships may be your constant companions. If you don’t find a way to escape from this now, you may never be able to return to your family and your native land. Your family needs you now and is waiting for you. You must not die senselessly.
The "X" Leaflets
The X leaflets are very strange. They seem to fit no pattern and come with the comment:
To be disseminated without regard to dissemination characteristics with normal leaflet requirements.
In other words, even though mathematical formulas were used for most leaflets according to their size and paper weight to assure that they would drop on their targets, these “X” leaflets were just added to the pile and were allowed to fall wherever they landed. It would appear the cost of leaflet paper sheets was expensive and there was no desire to waste any space. So, when eight or ten leaflets were printed on a sheet and there was a small space in some corner where the paper was blank, they would print a leaflet on some general subject, just to utilize the paper more efficiently. Many of the “X” leaflets that I have seen are regarding the
Peace talks. The text on leaflet X-6 is: Paris
The Party and the Government of the North will be found guilty by history if they dont end this senseless war.
Other leaflets in this category are small, about 2 x 4-inches in size. They usually have an all-text message on the front and back. For instance, X-4 is like the leaflet above but with a different text:
When accepting negotiations for peace in Paris, capital of France, the leaders of the Communist Party and the Government of the North have no right to ask the soldiers to sacrifice more.
The message on X-4 is:
WHERE IS THE TRUTH?
So far you, the compatriots in the North, have been listening with the ears of the Party, and seeing through the eyes of the Party. Thus, how can you learn what you want to know? To learn the objective truth, the news pertaining to the Vietnam War and the world, be they good or bad, please listen to
THE VOICE OF FREEDOM
Leaflet X-5 depicts a dove on the front. The text on the back is:
People in the North and the South demand that the Communist Party and Government of the North end this senseless war the sooner the better and return to the people an eternal peace.
Leaflet X-6 has a flowery design and the text:
The Communist Party and the Government of the North will be guilty toward history if it does not want to end this senseless war.
An I Corps Tactical Zone Leaflet?
We mention the “I” Corps leaflets where we mention codes. They were early leaflets, mostly in 1966 but some were made in 1967. The front has a satirical cartoon of Chairman Mao easting a sumptuous meal while a Viet Cong sits at his feet eating the scrapes. The meaning of the picture is clear. The text is:
The back is all text:
The Viet Cong’s Chinese masters have announced that the Vietnamese people should increase their support for the Viet Cong’s illegal war in South Vietnam.
At the same time, Viet Cong soldiers remain hungry, thirsty, lacking food and medicine, and do not receive any payment which could help support their family, their parents, wife, and children.
Try to think about where all the rice and money that the Viet Cong robbed you of went.
Stand up against the Viet Cong. Do not let them tax you and take your rice so they can send it to their masters in China.
The "R" Leaflets
The R leaflets were used exactly like the “X” leaflets above. Leaflets coded "R" were scrap leaflets, printed to use up all the paper on a printing sheet and save Uncle Sam money. One difference was that they were a bit larger, measuring about 4.5 x3-inches. The PSYOP specialists hated dead space that could be utilized on a big sheet of paper. The R leaflets had a general message so that they could be added to any leaflet bomb regardless of the theme of the leaflet-mix in that bomb. This one has a nice patriotic image on the front depicting an American soldier, a South Vietnamese soldier and a Vietnamese civilian all working to protect the nation. The text on the front is:
WE FIGHT THE COMMUNISTS TOGETHER
THE PEOPLE AND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM AND THEIR AMERICAN FRIENDS ALL ARE FIGHTING FOR A FREE VIETNAM
The back is all text:
Why are American troops in Vietnam?
The international communists want the whole world to become communist.
The Vietnamese communists want South Vietnam to become communist.
The Vietnamese and the American people are determined to fight against this communist plot in order to: Live in true freedom, happiness, and peace.
As friends, we are fighting alongside you because communism is a threat to all free peoples.
I have not seen many other “R” scrap leaflets. The 7th PSYOP Group was also secretly printing Korean-language leaflets to be dropped on North Korea. On many of their Vietnam leaflet sheets, the scrap leaflet was for the North Korean program.
The “A” Leaflets
Leaflets printed by the Vietnamese Armed Forces or ARVN usually start with a “DV,” or the letter “A.” Other Vietnamese leaflets start with D.S.V.
This leaflet shows the difference in treatment between the Government of Vietnam and the leaders of the Viet Cong. We first see some fighters that need drugs standing before two VC leaders with empty hands. The text is:
The only thing the Viet Cong does is to make promises they don’t keep.
The back of the leaflet depicts another three fighters that have perhaps gone Hoi Chanh being given needed medicines by the ARVN or government representatives. The text is:
The government dispense medicines
Support the government
The "DV" Leaflets
The Vietnamese coded their leaflets with the letters "DV" and a long series of numbers afterwards. The "DV" indicated Quan-Doi Viet Nam Cong Hoa (Army of the Republic of Vietnam).
This Vietnamese Army 7 x 4-inch leaflet depicts captured enemy soldiers together with troops of the Republic of Vietnam. The theme is “good treatment.” The text is exceedingly long so I will just translate a small part of it:
This is a picture of soldiers from the 66th and 101st Regiment taken together with Republic of Vietnamese Officers at Headquarters, II Corps. Seeing this picture, you will know clearly how the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam behave with prisoners-of-war and ralliers. Here is what they wrote to their comrades:
“When the unit moved, we were sick and not able to follow the unit and were left behind. We were then captured by the Vietnamese and U.S. helicopter troops. It was awful. We thought we would die immediately, because our leaders had always stated that in capturing us the American and Vietnamese soldiers would savagely torture us, feed us rice mixed with line, then send us to Saigon to be shot.” But how strange! In surrendering, we were never beaten, we were given food, drink and medical care…”
Vietnamese PSYOP leaflet DV15AH2268 depicts President Nguyen Van Thieu and clarifies his attitude towards the National Liberation Front. The text is:
THE PRESIDENT OF
HAS DECLARED: REPUBLICOF VIETNAM
There will be never a Joint Government in
. South Vietnam
The back is all text:
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
IS AGAINST A JOINT GOVERNMENT REPUBLICOF VIETNAM
President Nguyen Van Thieu has declared his willingness to talk to anyone in the South Vietnamese Liberation Front, but the government of the Republic of Vietnam will never recognize that Front as an independent organization.
Lately, with continuous failures in the battlefield, the Communists have spread rumors that there will be a Joint Government in the South. Their sole purpose is to create confusion among the public. However, the people of the South understand that the rumors of a Joint Government are just a propaganda tactic of the Communists. Its sole purpose is to cover their military and political failures.
There will be no Joint Government in the South.
At the same time, JUSPAO was dropping similar leaflets over the jungles of South Vietnam. These were generally coded with the letters "SP" (Special Project) and a number in the early years of the war. Since it was always the American desire that all PSYOP should appear to come from the government of Vietnam, the letters "SP" caused a problem. That was a sure sign that the leaflet was an American product. In later leaflets, the letters were removed, and the codes were only numbers.
The D.S.V. Leaflets
This early Vietnamese leaflet depicts a friendly conversation between a farmer and a soldier. This leaflet uses some words that would be recognized as the Communists blending into the population like fish into the ocean. It then shows that the Army can also blend into the population as the farmer invites the soldier to a cup of tea. The text is:
Soldiers – Civilians - Fish – Water
Oh, Soldier of the Republic
I invite you to have a cup of tea while you rest.
We believe that the code D.S.V./63/14 stands for “Civil Affairs,” and this might be the 14th leaflet of 1963.
The leaflets coded CP are extremely rare and were highly classified. They were used in Cambodia by American troops that were not supposed to be there. The CP stood for the classified operation name Camel Path. These leaflets were not to be mixed with other leaflets and were only to be dropped over Cambodia. And of course, the words Camel Path were not to be spoken. The leaflet is text at the top with an arrow pointing to the official 7-flag safe conduct pass used in Vietnam. The text on the front is:
You can avoid this hopeless fate. Use the pass to cross the front line and come back to live under the protection of the Government of Vietnam. The pass bears this symbol.
The back of the leaflet depicts a dead North Vietnamese soldier and the text:
Why did this young man from North Vietnam come to die here, outside the mud wall of a lonely outpost in Ba Long? His place should have been at his home, in his farm, where his labor is needed to help feed his compatriots in the north. Instead, he has been sent to the South and assigned the hopeless job of storming into an outpost defended by the people of the South. What did he hope to achieve by his suicidal attempt? To "liberate" the people of the South as he had been told by his Communist masters? But why do the people that he is supposed to liberate build mud walls and plant bamboo spikes to keep the liberators out? Perhaps, at the last minute he saw the truth. But, it was too late. The Labor Party has already spent him like an expendable item in its bid to take over South Vietnam.
Did the Pentagon Lie about the Number of the Enemy?
I think everyone knows by now that the American public was not told the whole truth about the war. The military worried that if the South Vietnamese found out they might lose the will to fight, and if the American people found out they might decide the war was unwinnable and demand that the U.S. pull out of Vietnam. So, the numbers of enemy were kept small, and the public was told that allied tactics were winning the war. Perhaps if the Pentagon had been more forthright the war would have ended sooner and with far less bloodshed. Still, their priority was saving South Vietnam, so perhaps some shortcuts were considered worth taking to keep fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnam and eventually tiring them to where they would lose faith and quit. One thing seems clear, for the purposes of morale the Army wanted to keep the count at about 300,000. Other organizations with less to worry about from a public relations disaster came in with much higher numbers. This meant that the United States was fighting a war against ghosts, with the enemy being as much as twice the number the Army thought it was fighting against.
Graham A. Cosmas said about the counting of the enemy forces in Vietnam in MACV, The Joint Command in the Years of Escalation, 1962–1967 (edited for brevity):
The president and his advisers were particularly concerned about the impact of enemy strength figures on American public opinion. The Joint Chiefs once transmitted both the revised irregular total and an increase in political cadre strength from the previous estimate of about 40,000 to 88,000. Between them, the new figures would raise the Military Assistance Command’s total enemy strength holdings from about 300,000 to nearly 420,000.
It became clear during this period that Westmoreland, for both substantive and public relations reasons, wanted to find some way to avoid reporting a 100,000-man increase in enemy strength. As a result, Westmoreland adopted a strategy of removing the self-defense forces and political cadre from the military order of battle. By this means, MACV could keep total Communist strength around 300,000. CIA analysts were estimating the enemy’s irregular strength by late 1966 at more than 300,000 and the entire Communist order of battle at perhaps 600,000. [Author’s note]: If these numbers were true, U.S, forces were outnumbered by the enemy in Vietnam.
On 23 June 1967, the first interagency meeting to review the CIA draft of the special estimate ended in deadlock. The new document estimated total enemy strength at around 500,000 personnel of all categories. However, spokesmen for the Defense Intelligence Agency, representing MACV at the meeting, rejected the CIA’s totals for the other categories and insisted on using MACV’s old figures, which would keep overall enemy strength around 300,000.
In the view of many of the young intelligence officers, who usually were on their first tours in their specialty, this amounted to a demand that they lie. The Combined Intelligence
Center’s Order of Battle Branch, which published MACV’s monthly estimates of enemy forces, reduced subordinates’ estimates of guerrilla, self-defense, and political cadre strength. "I had a distinct understanding that these figures were going to have to go down."
The military delegations refused to count the self-defense categories and maneuvered to keep the total number of enemies in the estimate below what all believed was an arbitrary, command-established ceiling of 300,000. General Westmoreland denied then and later ever setting such a ceiling, and no documentation has been found of a direct order from him to do so. Nevertheless, his intelligence officers clearly believed that their commander wanted to keep enemy strength estimates within the set maximum.
Leaflet NT4/TD/2 – Continuous Evaluation
Some readers might believe that after an initial evaluation and check of language, spelling, grammar, and assurance that the leaflet follows the political policies, it is “Good to go.” Not true. Leaflets were continuously evaluated, brought before boards, friendly prisoners of War and Hoi Chanhs, to determine the continued value. I selected this leaflet to show you such a case. Here is a 7th PSYOP Group leaflet that was looked at a second time in September 1971 before reuse of the leaflet was approved. It was found to be lacking. The original leaflet depicted an injured Viet Cong being treated by South Vietnamese medics. It was meant to show the good treatment they would receive from their brothers from the south. I will mention some of the text below and the criticism by the evaluation board. I will underline the words that were problems.
Your wives and children are waiting for you impatiently. Nothing remains but for you to make yourself POWs, and you will be well-treated by the Republic of Vietnam government. You will reunite with your families in North Vietnam or build a new life in South Vietnam if you rally courageously.
Peace will be restored sooner or later. Even though there will be peace, the Communists will not let you reunite with your families but send you to other battlefields for you know well that the life in South Vietnam is freer and more prosperous than in North Vietnam. This would harm the deceiving propaganda in North Vietnam.
There were two major flaws indicated by the evaluation board. The first was that the first paragraph first told them to become prisoners of war and later told them to rally which would have made them Chieu Hoi candidates. The two choices are quite different and could confuse the reader and be counterproductive. The second problem was that in the first paragraph the enemy soldier was told he could return home, and in the second he is told that he would never be allowed to return home. The board asked:
How can you promise a man he will return home and then tell him in the same leaflet that he won’t be allowed to return home even if peace is restored?
I said above in the code section that we did not know much about the NT series. I have seen close to a dozen of them, but there does not seem to be any connection that might point to who requested them. Some I have seen are: NT3/A/TD-1 (To Cadres and Combatants beyond the Front Lines), NT3/A/TD-2 (To Communist Cadres and Soldiers), NT3/A/TD-3 (Rice seeds are distributed to farmers), NT3/A/TD-4 (RVN Pacification Program), NT3/A/TD-9 (RVN’s Goodwill), NT4-TD-1 (RVN Pacification Program), NT4-TD-2 (NFL Cadres and Soldiers), NT4-TD-3 (To the Cadres and Soldiers), NT4-TD-4 (Secret base of Hardship)
This leaflet was part of a mix that we mention just below this entry. It depicts the back of the 7-flag safe conduct pass usually signed by Thieu or Ky on the front. The back is all text. Although it does not bear the CP code, we know it was dropped on North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia. The text on the front is:
To friends on the other side of the front line
You will be treated deservedly once you leave the Communist ranks to return to the Country and the Nation. You will live in peace under the protection and help of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.
You will be greeted as loved ones by your compatriots. You will be provided all articles for everyday use until you will have had a new life. Should you bring in a weapon, you will be rewarded a monetary amount adequate to the value of the weapon.
The extent of the Allied propaganda effort in Vietnam is told by James William Gibson in The Perfect War- Technowar in Vietnam, The Atlantic Monthly Press, NY, 1986:
From 1965 through 1972 over fifty billion leaflets were distributed in South and North Vietnam and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia; this vast sum was the equivalent of more than 1,500 leaflets per person in both the north and the south. In 1969 the military and civilian propaganda apparatuses produced over 10.5 billion leaflets, 4 million pamphlets, 60,000 newspaper articles, over 24.5 million posters, and nearly 12 million magazines.
The uncut sheet depicted above consists of a mixture of propaganda leaflets in the Vietnamese language and represents a sample press sheet from the small format, high speed Hancho web presses. Two of them were used to print leaflets during the 1966-1967 periods. Another press was added in 1968.
Declassified SOG documents show the extent of the leaflet operation in
. 31 million leaflets were dropped in 1964, 67 million in 1965, 142 million in 1966 and 271 million in 1968. MACV could produce 200,000 3x6-inch leaflets per eight-hour shift on its Harris high-speed press. The PSYWAR Directorate had a Webendorf Press that that SOG was authorized to use from 1600-2400. It could produce 500,000 leaflets per shift. In addition, the deception mail operation produced 200 fake letters per month of various types to be mailed into Vietnam . North Vietnam
The black letter program was constantly being fine-tuned. A MACVSOG comment on the subject states:
We plan to use notional leftist organizations abroad as originators of the letters, but are beginning with a true leftist Japanese fishing organization. In line with this, we are soon going to use a Paris-based Vietnamese, pro-Hanoi student organizations magazine to infiltrate subtle anti-Communist propaganda into
by making slight changes in some of the articles North Vietnam
We will experiment in the printed media field, for example; calendars, fishing hints, and tide tables are presently being obtained. Varying paper stocks are now being used.
As the war progressed the black letter output went from 3,993 in 1965 to 6,000 in 1966 and 7,550 in 1967. The letters were mailed from
Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong, Bangkokand , allegedly from North Vietnamese living outside the country. There were nine general themes for the letters: Weakness in Communist ideology; Revision in North Vietnam; Chinese imperialism; North Vietnamese mismanagement; Peace; Free Enterprise; Free society; Resistance movements and the Chieu Hoi program. The letters were coded according to type: Tokyo
Special: High level hard sell propaganda (400 letters per month).
Vulcan: High and medium level with a revisionist point of view. (50-60 letters per week).
Thor: A personal letter with soft sell and human interest. (15 letters a week)
Mars: To next-of-kin of battlefield casualties. (10 letters per week)
Luna: Exploitation of captured Viet Cong letters. (as available)
I should mention here that we discuss black SOG operations in greater depth in our article on the Sacred Sword of the Patriots League. Readers interested in black operations are encouraged to read that article for more information on the dirty tricks of the Vietnam War.
In Volume I of the Department of Defense contracted the Final Report Psychological Operations Studies Vietnam, Human Sciences Research Inc, 1971, Drs. Ernest F. and Edith M. Bairdain mention the value of leaflets:
In regard to the best means for disseminating the Allied message among the Viet Cong, members who rallied to the government stated that 99% saw propaganda leaflets, 100% heard airborne loudspeakers, 98% saw radio sets, 34% saw newspapers, 13% saw magazines, 9% heard ground loudspeakers, 7% read posters, 4% saw television sets and just 1% saw PSYOP novelty items. Of the enemy who saw the leaflets, 81% of the VC and 97% of the NVA actually read them. Of the enemy who heard the airborne loudspeakers, 89% of the VC and 98% of the NVA actually listened to the message. The authors point out that this demonstrates that leaflets, airborne loudspeakers, and radio are the best methods to reach Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel.
Armed Forces PSYOP Republicof Vietnam
Although Americans like to believe that they invented PSYOP and are the masters of the art, the Vietnamese were practicing PSYOP early in their war against the Communists. On 1 July 1953 the Vietnamese Army had two PSYOP companies to conduct propaganda in the 1st and 2nd Military Regions (Later Corps Tactical Zones). On 1 January 1958 the unit was renamed the
MobileCultural Battalion. On 1 November 1959 it was renamed a PSYWAR Battalion. On 1 March 1963 a decision was made to form 3 PSYWAR Battalions and the original unit became the 1st PSYWAR Battalion headquartered in Saigon. The 2nd and 3rd PSYWAR battalions would be assigned to the 2nd and 3rd CTZs headquartered in Pleiku and Da Nang with a 4th battalion planned to be activated in the 1964-1965 time frame for the 4th CTZ.
A Vietnamese Army Loudspeaker Truck
Not exactly up to U.S. Standards, but apparently it did the job
As an ARVN tactical unit the mission of the battalion was local civic action to promote confidence in the government, to win the people from the influence of the enemy and to encourage the people to stand up against the communists; troop morale operations among ARVN forces to promote a fighting spirit and a strong determination to win, to promote discipline and a willingness to sacrifice ones life for the nation and the people; and PSYOP campaigns against the enemy to break their fighting will and to cause them to surrender. The original single battalion consisted of 602 men, but under the new organization, each battalion was authorized 367 men. The battalions have the ability to produce white, grey and black propaganda using leaflets, loudspeakers, printed material, photographs and documents. Each battalion supports a corps, the companies support divisions, the groups support regiments and the PSYWAR teams support battalions.
After the 1963 reorganization the ARVN PSYWAR battalion consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a Technical Company, and three PSYWAR Companies. The Technical Company was comprised of a Special Operations Platoon, a Cultural Platoon, a Radio Augmentation Platoon and a Press Platoon. Each of the PSYWAR Companies was made up of six PSYWAR Teams.
Vietnamese PSYOP structure
The Vietnamese PSYOP structure was designed after that of the Republic of
Chinaon . Taiwan
Curiously, the structure was first called the Russian Political Commissar System. In the Communist system, the military commander was subordinate to the political Commissar. The system was then adopted by the Communist Chinese. Again, the Political Commissar insured that the military stay subordinate to the Party. When the Nationalists were driven to Taiwan, they took this system with them but changed it so that the military commander was in charge. That same system was adopted by the Vietnamese. The military commander is superior in authority to the Political officer so there is a unity of command. In 1960, Vietnamese President Diem visited Taiwan and while there was introduced to this system of PSYOP. By 1964 Taiwan and the United States had worked together to establish a Political Warfare system for Vietnam. More of the background of Vietnamese POLWAR can be found in The Political Warfare Guide for Advisors printed by MACV.
Vietnamese Political Warfare Insignia
The six arrows represent the six great warfares first espoused by Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek: Ideological warfare, Stratagem warfare, Mass warfare, Intelligence warfare, Organizational warfare and Psychological warfare.
Their General Political Warfare Department was made up of a Psychological Warfare Department, a Political Indoctrination Department, a Social Services Department, Chaplain Services, a Military Security Service, Information Services and the
. U.S. forces were advised that because of the peculiar Vietnamese system, a POLWAR Battalion was not to be considered the equivalent of a PSYOP Battalion. Political Warfare College
Major Michael G. Barger compares the US and Vietnamese (ARVN) battalions in Psychological Operations Supporting Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam:
US PSYOP Battalion ARVN POLWAR Battalion 200 personnel 175 personnel 6 printing presses 1 printing press 8 field teams 3 field teams No Cultural drama teams Cultural drama teams Sociologists & psychologists None Journalists, script writers, etc. Usually none Propaganda Development Center None
The Vietnamese General Political Warfare Directorate
First Lieutenant William J. Pollock
During the Vietnam War, United States Army First Lieutenant William J. Pollock was assigned to the Psywar Department of the General Political Warfare Directorate (GPWD) in Saigon as a printing and publication advisor from 1969 to 1970. He had obtained a masters Degree and taught graphic arts and was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve's 351 PSYOP Company in the Bronx, New York City.
A Patriotic Image Smiling ARVN with White Dove of Peace
The government of South Vietnam established the General Political Warfare Directorate but there were problems from the start of the war. This was mainly due to differing priorities between South Vietnam and the U.S. Between 1964 and 1971, there were 12 different Vietnamese Ministers of Information and that created considerable problems with maintaining stability within the organization. The Directorate was tasked with producing patriotic war songs, and anti-Communist plays and literature which depicted the heroic fighting spirit of the Vietnamese people.
The United States assigned about 18 advisors from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. There were also a number of Nationalist Chinese and Republic of Korea officers; but no enlisted personnel. The advisors lived off the local economy; first in small houses, and later when credible security threats were received, they were billeted in small bachelor officer quarters all over Saigon. They were expected to blend in."
Production of the Newspaper Tien Tuyen (the Frontline Daily).
This Vietnamese printer hand-set type each day and then hand-fed the paper into old French era letter presses. The newspapers were then put together for distribution and the type was cleaned and the repeated. The unit had reporters and editors in Saigon and in the field. One of Pollocks duties was going out in the field armed only with his military issue .45 caliber pistol and paying the staff from a bag of cash. He was warned to be cautious; the Viet Cong had placed a bounty on his head.
Pollocks mission was to provide technical and logistical support to the Vietnamese. The GPWD printed several daily newspapers, a magazine, numerous flyers, aerial leaflets, pamphlets and the large publicity banners strung up for various events.
GPWD Painters Prepare Large Propaganda Banners
The banners were made for various patriotic celebrations and ceremonies, and many were prepared when President Nixon made an unscheduled five-and-a-half hour visit to South Vietnam on 30 July 1969.
Their compound contained a TV studio and 16mm movie processing lab, editing and dubbing rooms and a radio studio. The Vietnamese did black (secret), white (acknowledged) and gray (no markings but obvious as to the source) propaganda and the Americans supplied technological support and liaison. Viet Cong prisoners-of-war were interrogated for information and encouraged to defect to the government through the Chieu hoi (Open Arms) program.
GPWD artisans take part in Temple Building
In the United States, politics and religion are kept far apart and it would be unheard of for a U.S. Army unit to make a statue of the Virgin Mary for a Catholic Church. In Vietnam, the monks, priests, churches and temples were part of the mission of the GPWD. The Government of South Vietnam had no restrictions of aiding religion. Here a military artisan carves a statue to go into a Buddhist temple.
Pollock receives the Vietnamese Technical Service Medal
Pollock was awarded the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Technical Service Medal awarded for outstanding initiative and devotion by individuals assigned staff duty. He said that the Vietnamese gave him a wonderful ceremony and reception along with the award.
The Vietnamese 10th Political Warfare (POLWAR) Battalion worked in I Corps with the
7th Psychological Operations Battalion. They shared the same compound in U.S. and their printing facilities were integrated. The 10th POLWAR consisted of four PSYWAR Companies, a technical and administrative company, and a cultural drama platoon. Each PSYWAR Company contained five Civic Action teams, one intelligence team, and one indoctrination team. The first priority of the POLWAR Battalion was command information; informing and indoctrinating friendly military forces. The second priority was winning over the civilian population, and the third was PSYOP efforts aimed at the enemy. The POLWAR Battalion worked under ARVN Corps Control, Often at division level, and with Da Nang advisors available as needed. U.S.
The POLWAR Reproduction Office has the ability to print the following products monthly:
Tien Tuyen newspaper: 600,000
Misc. documents: 100,000
Newspapers prepared by the POLWAR Press and Information Office are:
1. Vanguard (Tien Phong): News for the Officers Corps. 20,000 copies.
2. The Republic Fighter (Chien Si Cong Hoa): News for the NCO Corps. 247,000 copies, twice a month.
3. The Fighter (Chien Si Tim Hieu): News for the Enlisted men. 300,000 copies, twice a month.
4. Frontline (Tien Tuyen): 22,000 copies daily, free to all military personnel.
Credibilis, the 4th PSYOP Group monthly Journal said about the Vietnamese POLWAR units:
Vietnamese members of the 30th POLWAR Battalion on a hamlet sweep
There is one POLWAR Battalion assigned to each of the Corps Tactical Zones. The 10th Battalion is in I Corps at Danang. The 20th Battalion is in II Corps at Pleiku, the 30th Battalion in in III Corps at Bien Hoa, the 40th Battalion in in IV Corps at Can Tho and the 50th Battalion is in Saigon.
In a Vietnamese-language article entitled Coastal Raiders translated by Donald C. Brewster, Tran Do
Camtalks about Vietnamese psychological operations. He mentions several operations:
Leaflet drops usually took place in the highly populated areas south of the 18th Parallel.
Large quantities of leaflets were placed in the shell of an 81mm mortar that was fired into the coastal villages and communities from the fast patrol boats when they were 1,500 to 2,000 meters offshore. The shell would explode overhead like a flare and the leaflets would flutter down from the sky.
Sometimes the fast patrol boats also distributed radios wrapped in waterproof plastic in the villages along the coast so that the population could listen to South Vietnamese radio stations such as the Voice of Freedom (Tiéng Nói Tu Do), Mother of Vietnam (Me Viêt Nam) or the Sacred Sword of Patriotism (Gýõm Thiên Ái Quôc).
A former agent informs me that Brewster is incorrect with his comment about Mother Vietnam Radio. He stated that Mother Vietnam radio came into existence after MACV-SOG had phased out such boat operations.
The Special Operations Research Office of the
(SORO) published the classified A Short Guide to Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. Authors Jeanne Mintz, Herbert Silverberg and James Trinnaman say about radio operations: American University
In 1965 there were 11 radio stations in
broadcasting 120 hours a day. (This does not include the Voice of Freedom PSYOP broadcasts). The stations were located in Saigon, Hue, Quang Nhai, Qui Nhon, Banmethuot, Nha Trang, Dalat, Ba Xuyen, Hoi An, Tuy Hoa and Tan An. The Vietnam station was used by the ARVN for propaganda broadcasts. Of course, the Voice of American also broadcast on a great number of frequencies to Hue . Vietnam
The Voice of Freedom (VOF) was a major player in the black radio operation. Declassified documents show that it produced 76 different programs weekly with commentaries in Vietnamese, English and French. Some of the program titles are; Vietnamese Traditional Music, Sounds of Poetry, Returnees Songs, the Roman Catholic program, the Buddhist program, Activities Abroad and at Home, the Daily Battle Scene, News Analysis, Propaganda and Truth, the Open Arms program and Liberation Deeds.
A knowledgeable source says that the SORO description of the Voice of Freedom as a "black"station is wrong. At most it was "gray."
Other black Allied radio stations included the SOG fake Radio Hanoi clone broadcast from Number 7 Hong Tap Street in Saigon; Radio Red Flag, the voice of an alleged breakaway North Vietnamese Communist Party faction; and the CIA station Red Star Radio, allegedly a dissident Communist group in South Vietnam. The small fixed-station radios disseminated to the North Vietnamese by the Allies were codenamed peanuts.
By the end of the war the December 1973 Survey of Psychological Operations in
says about the radio output: Vietnam
There are five CAS-operated radio stations, three broadcasting in Vietnamese and two in Khmer. Mother Vietnam Station, with a Tokyo Rose approach, broadcasts a daily basic three hour program on five transmitters. The Sacred Sword of the Patriotic League radio station, a black operation pointed toward
, broadcasts five hours a day. The Voice of Nam-Bo Liberation, a black operation directed at communists within Hanoi South Vietnambroadcasts to the Mekong delta and Central Vietnam. The Voice of Khmer programs are much the same as Mother Vietnam, and a black station, the Voice of the Popular Front of Indochina appears to come from Hanoi but injects divisiveness between Vietnamese communists and their Khmer allies.
The Voice of
Americareaches from two medium wave transmitters. Big Squirt at Hanoi Hueand a million-watt transmitter in the . Philippines
Radio broadcasting by the Government of
consists of the Voice of Freedom and two VTVN national radio stations. Channel A broadcasts 18 hours a day and can be heard by North Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam-Cambodia border area. Channel B is the Political Warfare station and broadcasts 18 hours a day to the Vietnamese armed forces and their dependents. Vietnam
The comment about "five CAS-operated radio stations" means that they were "controlled American source" stations and the term was used in government documents as a euphemism for CIA.
What did the Viet Cong think of these radio stations? A 23 May 1967 classified confidential report translates a captured Viet Cong document. In it, the Party complains that many leaders, cadre and soldiers are listening to enemy broadcasts and reading enemy leaflets. They blame this political error on lack of ideological consciousness and lax discipline. It lists those who are allowed to listen to the broadcasts, such as members of their own propaganda teams who need to know what the enemy is thinking and other political cadre, and then goes on to say in part:
Aside from the above mentioned comrades, no cadre are authorized to listen to enemy broadcasts and to read or keep enemy documents.
The document recommends a private counseling for a first infraction, a public counseling for a second infraction, and a reprimand for a third infraction.
Mother Vietnam Radios seductive voice, identified over the air as Mai Lan.
A sophisticated beauty who had studied broadcasting in the
, and who became an instant hit. USA
Mother Vietnam Radio was run by South Vietnamese Army psychological warfare staff with American aid during the War. The station had broadcast from
7 Hong Thap Tu Streetand was code-designated House No. 7. The station was born in 1971 when Henry Kissinger called for a psywar radio offensive by the CIA to pressure the Northern communists and Viet Cong into complying with the terms of the ceasefire agreement recently signed in . The station effectively featured a seductive female voice, nostalgic music, and plenty of soft news meant to bury its political message deep in the sentimental appeal that the common Motherland of all Vietnamese at last deserved peace and the end of bloodshed. It was a grey radio station and moderate in comparison to other propaganda efforts. The station encouraged North Vietnamese soldiers to defect to the South and sought to break their morale. Paris
The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter of September 1968 says she an earlier asset:
Miss Mai Lan greets American Forces Vietnam Network viewers with “Chao Cac Anh.” Hello everybody. The statement signals the beginning of another program in the “Let’s Speak Vietnamese” series on the American network. It is designed to increase spoken communication between Americans and their Vietnamese allies, by giving the Americans an opportunity to learn the basics of their host country’s language. Mai Lan was known to American troops through her performance as an English-speaking disk jockey on RVNAF radio. She attended a French High School in Saigon. She learned to speak English in an American High School in Bangkok, Thailand where her family lived for two years.
Viet Cong Colonel Tam Ha
Another member of the radio station staff was a former Viet Cong political commissar, a colonel whom was still addressed by his old Viet Cong name, Tam Ha. Just before the Viet Cong launched the May 1968 second phase of their Tet Offensive, Tam Ha came over to the Government side bearing the complete tactical plan for the second VC attempt to liberate
Saigon. Thanks to him, the and Vietnamese troops deployed to meet the Viet Cong and successfully beat off their attacks. U.S.
On 20 April 1975, as South Vietnam was about to fall, the CIA sent all 144 staff members and their families, totaling about 1000 people and equipment to Phu Quoc Island off the coast of South Vietnam. The refugees were then picked up by the cargo ship Pioneer Challenger and moved to Guam, from where they were eventually resettled in the
. Throughout the program's nearly five years it was continuously headed by the late Jim Welch. He came to Saigon because "Nixon went to United States China," so Jim had to close down his long-running Chinese broadcasts from . Taiwan
I have talked sparingly about the CIA in Vietnam. This article is about military propaganda and the CIA is a civilian governmental organization. The CIA had one officer whose duties included PSYOP, who was assigned as liaison officer with Military Assistance Command – Vietnam Special Operation Group Headquarters. I could say that they had their hands in just about every aspect of the Vietnam War, and used both their own trained agents and others who were not actually in the CIA but aligned themselves with it because they believed in the virtues of the anti-Communist fight. Many of these individuals were military, civilians, merchant marines, scholars, teachers, and others who had intimate contact with the Vietnamese and could speak to them informally. They would simply travel around and report what they saw. One of the perks for helping the CIA was a passport and an American Express credit card which allowed them to freely travel in and out of Viet Nam. They often used Air America and their passports were stamped by Vietnamese immigration officers as they entered and left. One PSYOP soldier that was also a trained interrogator told me about using a CIA aircraft on occasion.
Once, when leaving a far north field in II Corps [Dak To, or Pleiku], I flew to Nha Trang on an Air America blue and white Beech C-45 [Twin Beech in current civilian terminology]. I was the only one in uniform. A half-dozen passengers in civilian clothes, including a couple of young and attractive women. My status in the PSYOP field and knowledge of the CIA / Air America connection allowed me to be a passenger. I do not recall how the flight was arranged, or by whom, merely that I was an allowed passenger, and they were going to where I needed to be.
Air America operated several C-45s that were extensively modified C-45s with tricycle landing gear replacing the C-45's tail-dragger landing gear system, and powerful turboprop engines replacing the C-45's reciprocating engines. The CIA also operated several U-10 Helio Couriers in Laos, and possibly Vietnam.
The CIA must have kept a stock of B-52 leaflets. I was told:
All B52 missions, Arc Light in South VN, Linebacker in North VN, other names for the Trail missions in different countries had to be followed up with B-52 and Chieu Hoi leaflets. If we learned late of a planned mission and did not have the leaflets, the CIA would supply them. At Phan Thiet, when a short notice B-52 mission was planned for the next morning, I got a call. The leaflets would arrive on a blue and white Air America Huey helicopter downtown. I was given the address of the CIA house. We went after dark in our jeep (normally not allowed out of the compound after dark) and picked up the leaflets from the CIA staff. The next morning, I threw leaflets from a USAF 0-1 Bird Dog, not the USAF U10 Helio-Courier loudspeaker/leaflet plane.
Over the years I have been amazed at the number of people that now acknowledge an informal arrangement with the CIA. One tends to think they were all officers, but many of the agents were mid-level Non-Commissioned Officers with the ranks of Staff Sergeant and Sergeant First Class.
There is also a record of a PSYWAR Bureau. A mention of this organization is found in Monthly Historical Summary, April 1966 (Declassified) Appendix II, from the Commander,
U. S.Naval Forces . There is a long list of operations that were Civic Action or PSYOP. We cant tell in most cases which were Vietnamese and which was American, but in some specific instances the Vietnamese are identified: Vietnam
The PSYWAR Bureau issued 22,900 magazines, 52,400 posters, and 91,500 leaflets to Vietnamese and
units for further distribution. In a special project in conjunction with JUSPAO, the Vietnamese PSYWAR Bureau produced 10,000 special posters depicting the new Rung Sat Special Zone and U.S. security regulations. These were distributed to the Rung Sat Special Zone and the four surrounding provinces for posting. Long Tau River
The Manila Conference
In response to an invitation from the President of the Republic of the Philippines, after consultations with the President of the Republic of Korea and the Prime Ministers of Thailand and the Republic of Vietnam, the leaders of seven nations in the Asian and Pacific region held a summit conference in Manila on October 24 and 25, 1966, to consider the conflict in South Vietnam and to review their wider purposes in Asia and the Pacific. The participants were Prime Minister Harold Holt of Australia, President Park Chung Hee of the Republic of Korea, Prime Minister Keith Holyoake of New Zealand, President Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Philippines, Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn of Thailand, President Lyndon B. Johnson of the United States of America, and Chairman Nguyen Van Thieu and Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky of the Republic of Vietnam.
At the seven-nation Manila Conference just ended, The Republic of Vietnam listed six simple requirements for peace in Vietnam. There requirements were all fully endorsed by the other six allied combatants.
I mention this because an entire series of leaflets were prepared by the 7th PSYOP Group to tell the people on North and South Vietnam of the conference and what was decided. 3,000,000 copies of SP-1525 were printed explaining the six requirements for peace in Vietnam. 10,000,000 copies of SP-1526 with the same basic message.
13,000,000 copies of SP-1527 were printed, 10,000,000 for South Vietnam, 3,000,000 for North Vietnam. The image on this leaflet depicted Vietnamese fisherman pulling in their nets and the message was once again the six requirements for peace. The same breakdown on 13,000,000 leaflets was used on SP-1528. The leaflet depicted President Lyndon B. Johnson with the theme “Manila Conference Exploitation.”
Speaking to U.S. troops at Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam. on 26 October 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson affirmed:
I GIVE YOU MY PLEDGE. I SHALL NEVER LET YOU DOWN, NOR YOUR FIGHTING COMRADES, NOR THE 15 MILLION PEOPLE OF SOUTH VIETNAM, NOT THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF ASIANS WHO ARE COUNTING ON US TO SHOW NOW IN VIETNAM THAT AGGRESSION DOES NOT PAY.
13,000,000 copies of SP-1529 were printed, 10,000,000 for South Vietnam, 3,000,000 for North Vietnam. The leaflet depicted the 7 Allied leaders at the conference and once again explained the results of the conference and conclude with:
The Allied Forces will be withdrawn as soon as possible and not later than six months after the above conditions have been fulfilled. Manila 25 October 1966.
Military Black Propaganda
Military activities were officially described as providing assistance to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Within the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, the Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG) was charged with conducting unconventional warfare, including black propaganda.
According to author John Plaster, SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam,
, 1997: Simon & Schuster, New York
The Studies and Observations Group did not answer to MACV or its commander, General William Westmoreland; it answered directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. Officially, SOG answered solely to the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities, a two-star general whose small staff responded only to the Joint Chiefs' operations officer (J-3), with unprecedented direct access to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Any money SOG needed would be buried in the Navy's annual budget.
Allen B. Clark adds in Valor in Vietnam: Chronicles of Honor, Courage, and Sacrifice: 1963-1977, Casemate, 2013:
The acronym SOG, standing for Studies and Observation Group, was a euphemism for a semiautonomous element of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, which in fact answered directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington (in the person of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities). The SOG mission was conduct of clandestine operations throughout Southeast Asia by U.S. members of the various services and by indigenous personnel. Agent insertions, ambushes and raids, rescue missions, deep reconnaissance, and interdiction were among the typical SOG cross-border missions. SOG was established with a chain of command outside MACV channels. SOG would answer directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon via a special liaison, the special assistant for counter-insurgency and special activities (SACSA). In Saigon only General Westmoreland and four non-SOG officers were even briefed on SOG.
Another explanation of SOG and its duties is found here:
The Studies and Observations Group was a joint unconventional warfare task force created on 24 January 1964 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a subsidiary command of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The unit would eventually consist primarily of personnel from the United States Army Special Forces, the United States Navy SEALs, the United States Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and elements of the United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance units.
The Special Operations Group (as the unit was initially titled) was in fact controlled by the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA) and his staff at the Pentagon. This arrangement was necessary since SOG needed some listing in the MACV table of organization and the fact that MACV's commander, General William Westmoreland, had no authority to conduct operations outside territorial South Vietnam. This command arrangement through SACSA also allowed tight control (up to the presidential level) of the scope and scale of the organization's operations.
The mission of the organization was to execute an intensified program of harassment, diversion, political pressure, capture of prisoners, physical destruction, acquisition of intelligence, generation of propaganda, and diversion of resources, against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
I have mentioned the official explanations for what SOG did, but I think some personal recollections from friends would give a more rounded look at their operations. Some comments from old comrades:
All SOG and those “Special Operations” types working in Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, and way up country Thailand, stayed in the Opera Hotel in Bangkok. We took it over and only we could stay in it. If a room was not being rented out to one of us, the agency paid for the empty room so no one else stayed in it.I do miss those days.
There was a safe in SOG from which was used to pay “locals” who did special tasks for us. The safe had gold, silver, platinum, US currency, Swiss Francs, etc. About anything they wanted. A majority went to those who volunteered to be “walking” in a Viet Cong area and get captured.The VC would usually “reeducate” them for about six weeks to several months.They were trained to observe where they were kept and the cadre. When they came out, we paid them for the information they could give us which was usually about $10,000. We would wait several months and then raid the camp with the hope the cadre captured would know about any American POWs or MIAs. The information was usually slim, but every little bit counted. We used to raid camps with Americans believed to be in them, but the Viet Cong would escape with the US prisoners or shoot them when it looked like they were going to lose them. We stopped raiding those camps. At the end of the war, the safe’s contents were audited, and it came out to the exact amount that should be in it. We had good men in SOG!
These operations (OPLAN 34-Alpha - also known as Operation Switchback) were conducted in an effort to convince North Vietnam to cease its sponsorship of the communist insurgency in South Vietnam. Similar operations had originally been under the purview of the CIA, which had carried out the emplacement of agent teams in North Vietnam using air drops and over-the-beach insertions.
Graham A. Cosmas says about OPLAN 34A in MACV The Joint Command in the Years of Escalation, 1962–1967, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 2006:
The Military Assistance Command planned and conducted a program of covert South Vietnamese airborne and amphibious raids into North Vietnam. The Pacific Command had developed the concept for these operations in mid-1963.
At a Honolulu conference shortly after Diem’s overthrow, Secretary McNamara reviewed CINCPAC’s concept and directed MACV and the CIA jointly to prepare a detailed twelve-month plan for implementing it. The two agencies completed their Operation Plan (OPLAN) 34A in mid-December. They proposed a total of over 2,000 activities, in three ascending categories of scale and severity, to include reconnaissance, psychological warfare, and sabotage operations as well as small-scale military attacks. All were to be conducted by South Vietnamese air, ground, and naval units supplemented by Asian, mostly Chinese Nationalist, mercenaries. MACV and the CIA would furnish equipment, advisers, and base facilities within South Vietnam; but no Americans were to enter North Vietnam.
After an interdepartmental committee in Washington reviewed the plan and refined the proposed list of actions, President Johnson on 16 January 1964 authorized commencement of the first, most limited, phase of OPLAN 34A on 1 February. Ambassador Lodge and General Harkins then secured South Vietnamese approval of the plan, an essential step since the Saigon government would furnish most of the forces involved. Aside from a jurisdictional dispute over responsibility for certain agency-run activities along the North Vietnam–Laos border, the Military Assistance Command and the Central Intelligence Agency cooperated with little difficulty in carrying out OPLAN 34A.
To conduct the commando operations, General Harkins in March established the Special Operations Group, later retitled the Studies and Observations Group, within MACV headquarters. Headed by an Army colonel with a CIA deputy and with an initial strength of 99 military people and 31 civilians, the group commanded the American personnel engaged in 34A and other special operations and advised, assisted, and supported the South Vietnamese armed forces in planning and carrying out the missions. Although the MACV commander had operational control of SOG, final implementing authority for its activities rested elsewhere. Based on monthly lists of activities recommended by MACV, the Defense Department, in consultation with the White House and State Department, made the final selections of operations to be conducted and retained a veto over the launching of every raid.
MACV-SOG's efforts were organized around six sections that were assigned responsibility for clandestine operations (OP). OP-33 was the PSYOP Branch, patterned after the World War II Morale Operations Branch of the OSS; 1n 1968 it was re-designated OP-39, the Psychological Studies Group.
OP-31: Maritime Studies Branch. Code-named - "Plowman."
OP-32: Air Studies Branch. Code-named "Midriff."
OP-33: PSYOP Studies Branch. Code-named -"Humidor." Comprised four sections: (a) Research and development; (b) Radio; (c) Special Projects; and (d) Printed media, forgeries, and black mail. Within section (d), the military was in charge of printed media, and the CIA oversaw forgeries and black mail. PSYOP operations conducted by (d) included the Sacred Sword of Patriots League (SSPL); the contamination of enemy ammunition (Operation Elder son); the mailing from three countries of leaflets, gifts, and fake letters; and the preparation (for Laos) of forged currency and booby traps. Redesignated OPS-39, Psychological Studies Group, in 1968. Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bowen commanded OP-33 from 22 August 1967 to 17 April 1968, later retired as a Brigadier General. Major James H. Spear ran MACV-SOG OP 33 operations from 67 to 69 under Tom Bowen and for a while General John K. Singlaub. Singlaub added:
The senior CIA guy was there as an advisor to chief SOG. He was our liaison. There were, I think, eight or nine CIA people in SOG. As I recall, a couple of them were linguists and so they were working with the people producing the programs. After I had the idea for the Eldest Son project, which was the sabotaged ammunition, I wanted to exploit that, and they helped. The actual delivery of the ammunition into the Ho Chi Minh Trail was by OP-35. I had the stuff produced over in Okinawa. I went over and arranged that. Fortunately, I knew the people who were running the base over there and Bill Denay and I went over and set that up. It really worked exactly as we wanted it to.
They were to put out counterfeit directives trying to minimize the extent of the malfunctioning equipment, saying you must be kind here because the Chinese have been very, very helpful in getting us supplies and though they have had a little trouble with their quality control, only a very small percentage of ammunition is malfunctioning. Thus, the VC and people would hear about it even if they hadn't heard about the malfunctioning ammunition. The OP-33 people who had the responsibility for this were working very closely with the agency people who were scattered throughout doing other operations. That's one of the benefits we had of being closely tied to the agency.
OP-34: Airborne Studies Branch.
Responsible for northern infiltration by air. This operation became the Ground Studies Branch, which was then assigned to OP-35; OP-34 became a staff section, and OP-36 became the Airborne Studies Group. Infiltration operations were code-named "Timberwork," and later "Forae." Since it was part of the infiltration campaign there were also black radio stations that pretended to be in the North and would broadcast instructions to different groups that were imaginary. Occasionally it would go off the air with stories of having been attacked and pursued and then come back later. This was often done by the British black radio to Germany in WWII.
OP-35: Ground Studies Branch. Responsible for cross-border operations. It was comprised of three elements. MACV-SOG OP-35 expanded into Cambodia (Operation Daniel Boone) in May of 1967. The mission was confined to intelligence collection in Cambodia; there were restrictions such as they could not call an air strike on a target.
Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control Central (SOACCC) was formed in November 1967 and departed Vietnam in March 1971. It was stationed in Kontum, with responsibility for classified unconventional warfare operations throughout the tri-border regions of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It had around 30 Spike Reconnaissance Teams (RT). Hatchet Forces, and four Search-Location-and-Annihilation Mission Companies (SLAM Companies A, B, C and D). Originally named after states (Arizona, New Mexico, etc.), RTs later adopted names of Asian poisonous snakes and assorted designations once all state names had been exhausted.
Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control North (SOACCN) was formed in November 1967 and departed Vietnam in March 1971. It was assigned conduct of classified special unconventional warfare missions into Laos and North Vietnam. It was composed of Spike reconnaissance teams, Hatchet forces and lettered SLAM companies. Missions into North Vietnam were initiated as early as I February 1964 under Operation Plan 34A. Operations into Laos commenced in September 1965 as part of Operation SHINING BRASS, renamed PRAIRIE FIRE in 1968. In 1971 the Laotian operations were given the code name PHU DUNG.
Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control South (SOACCS) was formed in November 1967 and departed Vietnam in March 1971. It was located in Ban Me Thuot and created when permission was granted to conduct cross-border missions into Cambodia. It was engaged in classified special unconventional warfare missions inside VC-dominated South Vietnam and throughout Cambodia. It contained Spike reconnaissance teams, Hatchet forces, and four SLAM companies. Cross-border operations had been conducted into northeastern Cambodia since May 1967 under Project DANIEL BOONE, later known as SALEM HOUSE. In 1971 the name was changed to THOT NOT.
There has been some confusion about the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). One trooper who was an early OP-35 member stated that prior to 1968, CCN, CCC & CCS were called FOBs. He believed that of the four, FOB1 later became the CCN, FOB 2 & 3 combined to form the CCC, and FOB4 became the CCS. However, another member who was an officer recalls:
At that time CCN, CCC and CCS were not called FOBs and I doubt that they ever were. The FOBs were sub-sets of the Command and Control organizations. For Example: under CCN, FOB-1 was at Phu Bai, FOB-3 was at Khe Sanh, and FOB-4 at
in Danang. I think that FOB-2 in Kontum was originally part of CCN but I could be wrong. Nevertheless, CCC was not formed until late 1968 and located in Kontum. Roy Barr, one of my FOB-3 commanders became the first Commander of CCC. So I believe the Nov. 1967 date is wrong. Marble Mountain
Boots Porter, 1SG, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) during
In 1968 I was at FOB-1 (Phu Bai), FOB-2 (Kontum) and FOB-4 (Danang). After the change FOB-4 became CCN, FOB-2 became CCC and FOB-5 (Ban Me Thut) Became CCS. You can take it to the bank. I was there at each of them.
OP-37: Maritime Studies Group.
The Maritime Studies Group was the action arm of OP-31: the Maritime Studies Branch, and was responsible for covert maritime operations conducted by the Vietnamese Coastal Security Service (CSS). Its cover name was the Naval Advisory Detachment. The capability to carry out missions against North Vietnam was maintained through extensive training at Da Nang and by conducting operational missions against selected targets in South Vietnam.
OP-39: Psychological Studies Group. See OP-33.
Leaflet operations were sometimes credited to more than one branch, probably depending on whether the task was the production or the dissemination of the leaflets. All black propaganda and currency counterfeiting emerged from OP-33. Leaflets were disseminated with the assistance of OP-34 and OP-35.
SOG comprised about 400 soldiers at a given time. About 100 soldiers were doing actual combat duty, with each of the three Command and Control units of OP-35 having about 36 Americans.
MACV estimated that there were approximately 5,000 Meos, 4,000 Thais, 2,000 Nungs and 3,000 Muongs living in
. All through the war MACV asked permission to form these groups into a resistance movement against the Communist North Vietnamese. The problem was that once the North Vietnam accepted the moral responsibility for such a resistance movement, it would be committed to support it with personnel, material and funds. No one in United States wanted to accept that responsibility. Commanders in the field were constantly reminded that current Washington U.S.policy did not advocate the overthrow or change in the government of . North Vietnam
United States Navy PSYOP
Although seldom mentioned, the
United StatesNavy was also involved with psychological radio operations in . The first "Blue Eagle" aircraft was constructed in January 1965 using a NC-121J Lockheed Super-Constellation shell. Blue Eagle I was the first project aircraft and configured to do AM, FM, and SW radio broadcast missions. A crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel was selected. Operational and flight training began in July 1965. The aircraft was sent to Vietnam shortly afterwards where in October it broadcast the World Series to American troops and became the worlds first operational airborne broadcast station. Vietnam Navy RMC Steve Robbins told me: United States
I spent three of my four flight tours in
flying this bird. Blue Eagle I (aircraft 131627) was one of four Navy Project Jenny broadcast birds that we built and operated. This bird was a radio-only bird (unlike the other three which were radio/TV broadcast birds. Blue Eagle I, after doing a test flight in Vietnam Vietnamwhich rebroadcast the World Series from the , was assigned to PSYOPS operations. United States
Two Blue Eagle aircraft were based at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon to broadcast Channel 11 of Armed Forces Vietnam Television (the American Forces Vietnam Network), and Channel 9 of THVN (the official station of the Government of Vietnam) in South Vietnam until 1970.
A third aircraft was based at
Da NangAir Base to provide airborne PSYOP broadcast missions for MACVSOG off the coast of from 1966 to 1970. It took part in psychological operations from 1965-1967 and earned the nickname North Vietnam Dirty Bird. John Plaster mentions the Project Jenny missions in his book about SOG and it was Blue Eagle I that flew those missions. Da Nang
Plaster says about Project Jenny in SOG: the Secret Wars of
Americas Commandos in : Vietnam
In Project Jenny, a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft broadcast SOG radio programs while flying off the North Vietnam coast, a technique that confused enemy radio direction finders and, because the radio wasnt far away, tended to overwhelm local station signals.
This was a highly classified mission and most of the crew did not know they were working for at the time. In 2001, personnel who served with SOG were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by direction of President George Bush.
After 1970, the Blue Eagles were retired to the bone yard to lick their war wounds and the Navy got out of the airborne broadcasting business. The U.S. Air Force then took over these missions with Coronet Solo broadcast birds (which were essentially remakes of the navy birds) and ultimately the Commando Solo EC-130 airborne broadcast platforms currently flown by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 193rd Special Operations Wing.
It is also interesting to note that in order to make the TV programs work as a psychological operation; the United States Agency for International Development provided 500 television sets for
. They were placed in public squares, store windows, or wherever Vietnamese citizens were likely to gather. Vietnam
Westinghouse and Glenn L. Martin employees pose with B-29 Superfortress used in Stratovision tests.
Courtesy of Andrew Koontz
During the Vietnam War, the United States Navy used Stratovision television technology when it flew Operation Blue Eagle from 1966 to 1972 over the Saigon area of South Vietnam. The television programs were aimed at two audiences on two channels: one was aimed at the public and the other was intended for the information and entertainment of US troops who were stationed in South Vietnam.
On January 3, 1966, a Broadcasting magazine article, "Vietnam to get airborne TV: Two-channel service, one for Vietnamese, other for U.S. servicemen—starts this month," noted:
Television broadcasting in South Vietnam ... begins January 21 and it's going to be done from the air. Two airplanes, circling 10,000 to 20,000 feet above the ground, will broadcast on two TV channels, one transmitting Saigon government programs: the other U.S. programs. The project is being handled by the U.S. Navy. Also involved are the U.S. Information Agency and the Agency for International Development. Work on modifying two Lockheed Super Constellations has been underway by Navy electronics experts at Andrews Air Force Base. The project is an outgrowth of a broadcasting plane used by the Navy during the Cuban and Dominican Republic crises when both radio and television were beamed to home in those countries.
The entire project was under the control of Captain George C. Dixon, USN. He claimed to be installing AM, FM, shortwave, and TV transmitters on the aircraft which would get their power from an onboard 100-kilowatt diesel-fueled generator. The planes would not only relay programs from film chain kinescopes and video recorders, but they would also have live cameras to create their own live programs. Ground transmissions would be received from the aircraft on TV sets tuned to channel 11 for Armed Forces Television, and channel 9 for programs in Vietnamese. On radio the broadcasts would be tuned to 1000 kHz for AM and 99.9 MHz for FM.
Robert J. Kodosky mentions television in Psychological Operations American Style the Joint United States Public Affairs Office, Vietnam and Beyond: Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 2007. Some of his comments are:
The medium JUSPAO placed the most hope for enhancing the image of the Republic of Vietnam remained television USAID procured an initial 3,500 television sets for distribution and also took on the responsibility of maintaining their operation Within three years, Americans had inundated the Vietnamese countryside with television sets. They distributed well over 100,000 units with approximately 2,200 sets in pagodas, public meeting halls and other central locations where large groups can congregate.
The Military Assistance Command Vietnam gives the Navy one paragraph in its Command History 1968:
The U.S. Navy was responsible for conducting PSYOP throughout the Coastal and riverine areas of South Vietnam. The target audience was the Vietnamese living in these areas and traversing the waterways. Naval patrol boat personnel met, face to face, approximately 300,000 water travelers each month while performing population and resources control. The Navy had three major and one minor task forces performing population and resources control, offensive operations and PSYOP in Vietnam.
The U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam After-action Monthly Reports tells us much more about what the Navy did. Some examples from hundreds of operations they mention:
In 1967, Naval Forces Vietnam had thirteen officers and ten enlisted personnel with psychological operations schooling, all but two of whom were advisors to the Vietnamese Navy. Most psychological operations advisors were co-located with U. S. Navy units and provided guidance and assistance to the U. S. Navy Psychological Operations Program.
In December 1967, along the coastline of South Vietnam and myriad waterways of the Delta, 186, 000 leaflets were distributed and 150 hours of surface and 58 hours of aerial broadcasts were conducted by naval units. In addition 49,532 newspapers and 6,410 magazines were distributed to bring to the people the true news of the Government of South Vietnam.
On 15 May 1968, PBRs assisted in the execution of the Operation KON TIKI. The PBR's deposited plastic packages containing psychological operations material and small gifts, in the rivers and canals leading into the Viet Cong controlled areas, The packages were designed to float allowing the tide to carry them to the targeted areas.
An interesting newsletter titled Naval Force Vietnam PSYOP, dated 3 January 1969 tells us more about their activities:
About Tet 1968: Leaflets have been developed, printed in Manila, Okinawa and on in-country presses. Bulk distribution is made to Province Headquarters and Corps PSYOP Battalions. Distributing units will fill their requirements from these sources, this includes U.S. Navy units. JUSPAO has prepared tape recorded messages based on the above themes for aerial and surface loudspeaker broadcasts. U.S. Navy units received theirs last month.
U.S. Navy commanders will select themes, targets am media, based on local intelligence. Leaflet and loudspeaker broadcasts will be made from boats; aerial leaflet drops, and aerial broadcast will be requested from the Air Force. Each commander has the means to exploit opportunities developed by local intelligence, either with general or special leaflet drops or loudspeaker broadcasts.
The U.S. Navy’s PSYOP programs have, in recent months brought particularly good results… especially in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. Many of the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communist) forces are in the Mekong “Rice Bowl” of Southeast Asia, an area laced with hundreds of navigable waterways. To reach them by means other than by water is difficult because of the heavy jungles surrounding the thousands of rice paddies. This is where the Navy and its small shallow-water patrol boats have seen results in a PSYOP program.
The daytime PBR patrols hand out leaflets and brochures explaining the Chieu Hoi program, as well as soap, toothpaste and other needed items to the working and traveling people of the area. The night patrols, taking advantage of the fact that most of the people are at home then, use loudspeakers in reaching the VC with their message…
The United States Marine Corps did a bit better, actually getting two paragraphs. I edit them slightly for brevity:
There was an acute awareness of PSYOP among personnel in the USMC. In Vietnam the program was particularly active, both in civic action and propaganda roles Marine PSYOP personnel were assigned down through regiment and battalion level where they performed both the civic actions and the PSYOP functions. The use of Armed Propaganda Teams and Kit Carsons (Hoi Chanh) was well programmed and effective.
Beach Jumper Insignia
The United States Navy tactical cover and deception units were called Beach Jumpers. The units were founded in WWII and used again during the Vietnam War. There were over a dozen detachments and teams. Some of their psychological operations were:
Beach Jumpers Unit 1 Detachment A was responsible for employing PSYOP which would become one of the Beach Jumpers' Vietnam missions and later, their unclassified cover activity. This included propaganda leaflet drops and loudspeaker broadcasts, which Detachment A conducted during all major operations in 1966.
Detachment D conducted psychological operations in support of Task Forces 115, 116, and 117 operating in the Mekong Delta of
Detachment F rode River Patrol Boats conducting psychological operation on the Cua Viet and
rivers in northernmost I Corps. It dropped over 260,000 leaflets during Operation Daring Rebel which was a multi-battalion assault on the Hoi An area against the Viet Cong. The leaflets carried rally themes of Chieu Hoi, population control directives, and pleas for local population assistance. Aerial broadcasts, which followed the leaflet drops, carried the same themes and were made by Vietnamese liaison personnel. Hue
Team 13 conducted psychological operations from River Patrol Boats on all waterways in country. Additionally they supported both Army 5th Special Forces A and B Teams and Navy SEALS. For their efforts, Beach Jumper Unit One Team 13 was presented the Navy Unit Commendation which said in part:
Beach Jumper Unit 1, Team 13 operated with units of the United States Navy, the United States Army, and the Vietnamese Navy In carrying out psychological operations and combat missions of a classified nature. By April 1971, the Team had established detachments throughout the IV Corps area, effectively covering the fifteen provinces of the
MekongDelta with their diversified psychological operations capabilities; including loudspeaker broadcast equipment, leaflet drops, civic action projects, and other techniques.
John B. Dwyer tells us more in Seaborne Deception, the History of the
U.S. Jumpers. Navy Beach
The Beach Jumpers often took part in deception operations. For instance, in order to fool the Viet Cong and make them think that PBRs were in the area when they were in fact back at base refueling:
Team 13 transmitted prerecorded helicopter background noises and simulated chopper voice traffic over PBR primary communications circuits Conducted only at night, the notional transmissions were varied to avoid stereotyping and to ensure credibility.
We mention gunships following aircraft to attack any Viet Cong that exposed himself below. This cover by John Del Vecchio of the 101st Airborne Division was drawn in early 1971. It depicts a helicopter trying to draw some VC fire while a heavily armed Cobra waits overhead.
Other operations include:
During Operation Lam Son 19 (the Multidivisional incursion into the Laotian Panhandle) SOG carried out diversionary insertions at four bogus landing zones and conducted simulated parachute raider and actual resupply bundle insertions at eight phone drop zones
Flying in Army helicopters they played taped music over enemy territory. The purpose was to draw enemy fire in order to pinpoint the location of the Viet Cong on the ground. Orbiting gunships would then swoop down for the kill The heavy metal rock music selection by Iron Butterfly was the most effective noise for drawing enemy fire.
Lieutenant Commander C. R. Hershey, Commander of Beach Jumper 1 discussed his unit capabilities and recommended that the PSYOP capabilities of the
Navy be expanded in a report entitled Concepts for the Employment of PSYOP within the Pacific Fleet. Some of his comments are: U.S.
The successful employment of psychological operations, within varying situational requirements and geographical locations, requires a flexibility of responses and mobility to deploy rapidly The Navy, with these inherent capabilities, stands ready to conduct PSYOP where troops have not yet been placed ashore It is mandatory that the Navys ability to conduct psychological operations should not be allowed to become dormant between conflicts.
The Navys large combatant ships and many of the smaller vessels have organic graphic arts, duplicating and photographic facilities which are supported by trained personnel The core of personnel, although small in number would include billets for military and civilian experts who have an educational background and training in the political and social sciences. Of course, the necessary skills required by photography, lithography and electronic would be acquired from military schools This group would be mobile and flexible, in that they could deploy to any area to assist the commander in psychological operations on very short notice and could expand rapidly under the aegis of the task force or another commander.
There is currently a naval command, which is the only permanent naval unit tasked with the conduct of psychological operations Upon being tasked with PSYOP during the Vietnam War, this naval unit was quick to respond in acquiring the additional skills and training necessary to take timely advantage of the fleets organic leaflet production and disseminating facilities as well as employing its own broadcasting equipment For example: the unit has been able to print leaflets, containing a defectors statement and photograph and disseminate it over the target area in less than six hours I am the Commanding Officer of Beach Jumper Unit 1 and the organizations that I have been referring to as meeting the above requirements are the Navys Beach Jumper Units The Beach Jumper Units can be the Navys mobile and effective nucleus for PSYOP.
We mention above that the Navy would fly loudspeaker aircraft to draw fire and then use gunships to attack the Viet Cong. The Army sometimes did the same thing. I should point out here that this is not the way to get the enemys trust. A PSYOP Lieutenant recalls:
I remember when the PSYOP squadron I worked for got shot up particularly bad one night while playing Robert Brown's "Fire" to the Viet Cong over the big University 1000-Watt speaker. The next night they went up again but Spooky flew with them. Our speaker plane flew a wide orbit playing "Fire" again, and Spooky flew opposing orbit. It was night and the speaker plane was lit up like a Christmas tree to draw attention. Spooky was blacked out. The enemy opened fire with everything they had. Spooky opened up with all three miniguns on at high cyclic rate and mysteriously all of the ground fire suddenly ceased.
An alleged CIA forged Viet Cong stamp
It was not only the military that produced black propaganda. There is an alleged propaganda postage stamp printed by the Central Intelligence Agency. According to the Vietnam Postage Stamp Collection of the Armed Struggle for the Fatherland Safeguard, Tran Quang Vy, The 1964 10 xu stamp commemorated the victory at Ap Bac on 2-3 January 1963. This was the first major victory of the Viet Cong over a full division of the Army of
(ARVN). Although the South Vietnamese forces were supported by artillery, tanks and helicopters, they suffered 200 killed and another 300 wounded. Five American helicopters were shot down during the battle. The vignette on the stamp depicts a Viet Cong machine-gunner downing an American CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The stamp was catalogued by Stanley Gibbons as NLF5. South Vietnam
Western Stamp Coillector published an article on 5 April 1982 entitled Ex-Agents charges suggest CIA forged Viet Cong stamp. The story told of an interview in The Washington Post where former Central Intelligence Agency member Frank Liechty stated that he saw sheets of the Viet Cong stamps in a CIA file in the 1960s. He claimed that documents in the file described an agency plan to fabricate evidence of outside support of the Viet Cong. The high quality of the printing would indicate to all that they were produced in
because the guerrillas in the south could not produce such stamps. Liechty claimed that the CIA intended to send letters written in Vietnamese all over the world and to journalists as part of a plan to facilitate greater Hanoi involvement in the Vietnam War. He said that the stamp appeared on the cover of Life Magazine dated 26 February 1965, two days before President Lyndon B. Johnson published his White Paper on the war. A week later, two Marine Corps battalions were sent to US . Liechty was fired in 1978 and depending on who you believe he is either a disgruntled ex-employee or an agent with a conscience that the CIA could no longer control. Vietnam
Genuine stamp. Note the accent mark over the letter A
Fake Stamp. Note the accent mark over the letter A
There are numerous difference between the two stamps. Two of the more obvious are:
On the genuine stamp the letters are sharp and the lines straight while the fake has crooked lines of varying thickness. The accent mark over the first A in MAT has the point at the bottom while in the fake it is at the top.
When I spoke to a Vietnamese specialist about the alleged CIA fake he replied:
I confirm the stamp is a forgery made by the CIA. We have always heard about this forgery and attempted to discover some facts about it.
A former CIA agent who was stationed in
during the war adds: Vietnam
I next examined your forged stamp in high magnification. The incorrect diacritic mark in the word MAT is the correct "lazy crescent moon" mark but mysteriously it has been inverted making it totally impossible in Vietnamese. The inversion clearly proves it a non-Vietnamese fake. You can also see in the fake an unexplained extra graphic element which connects the M and the A together. There is no reason for it to exist in a genuine Vietnamese stamp since it blots out the linguistically very important dot under the A.
My conclusion: It seems a relatively poor fake. The genuine Ap Bac stamp on your psywar page is clearly the genuine source from which the fake was copied.
This stamp has been offered for sale a few times. It was put up for auction several years ago for $2,000 but did not sell. I was later offered the same stamp for a bargain price of $1,750.00. I pointed out to the dealer that a sheet of 20 stamps had sold for $6,000, so that indicated that an individual stamp is actually worth about $300.
Military White Propaganda
Military Assistance Command
The MACV PSYOP Directorate employed Army, Navy and Air Force personnel and operated under the staff supervision of the Assistant Chief of Staff J3 (Operations). It served in an advisory role to the
Republicof Vietnam Armed Forcesas well as a supervisory role to forces. U.S.
MACV consisted of a Development and Analysis Division which developed, reviewed, evaluated and analyzed programs and policies.
The Operations Division exercises staff supervision for all support activities of
and Vietnamese forces. U.S.
The Political Warfare Division advised, assisted and supported the Vietnamese General Political Warfare Department and its subordinate elements.
JUSPAO Leaflet Drop Mission Sorties Board
Although elements of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) prepared some white propaganda leaflets, much of the white printed propaganda of the Vietnam War was produced under MACV by two U.S. Army Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Groups. For Army organizational purposes (probably beginning in the early 1960s), South Vietnam was divided into four Corps Tactical Zones. Ranging from the north to the south, I Corps was in the north abutting North Vietnam, in the foothills and coastal regions east of the Annamite Mountains; II Corps was in the country's least populated region, encompassing the rugged central highlands and central plateau; III Corps was on the densely populated alluvial plain surrounding Saigon; IV Corps was the heavily populated and agriculturally productive
The original military psychological operations unit assigned to Vietnam was the 1st PSYOP Detachment (Provisional), which arrived in 1965. In late 1965, a small unit of the Okinawa-based 7th PSYOP Group arrived in Saigon.
The Machinato Printing Plant Okinawa
SP4 Jeff Truesdale of the 14th PSYOP Battalion of the 7th PSYOP Group
(December 1972 to June 1973) sent us these photographs of the Machinato Printing Plant on Okinawa.
Tom Majors (center) adds ink to one of three Presses of the 15th PSYOP Detachment Print Shop on Okinawa.
Specialist Fourth Class Tom Majors of the 15th PSYOP Detachment, 7th PSYOP Group, was assigned to the Machinato Printing Plant on Okinawa from 1966 to 1968. He told me:
When I was there we only had three web presses. They must have brought in more presses after I left in 1968. Looks like some walls may have been taken out to fit all the equipment in there. I loved my tour with PSYOP. It was my first duty assignment with the Army. I was a typist doing final drafts of propaganda scripts from previous drafts that had been corrected with pencil. After a while I wanted a bit more action so I asked to change jobs. I was then assigned to the Art Department and worked alongside Mike Peters. He became a well-known cartoonist after leaving the military. I then became a press-helper in the Printing Plant. I really enjoyed that job because I got to move around and get some exercise.
PFC Mike Peters
Tom Majors also sent this photograph of the unit artists at work. Of particular interest is the Private First Class at the left holding the paper in the center of the three men. He is Mike Peters, the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and creator of the award-winning cartoon strip Mother Goose & Grimm. His editorial cartoons appear in more than 400 newspapers and publications worldwide, including Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report. Peters, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1965, was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Washington University in 2012.
In 1966, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent two years as an artist for the Seventh Psychological Operations Group in Okinawa. After Vietnam, his mentor, the renowned World War II artist Bill Mauldin, helped him find a cartooning position on the Dayton Daily News, which has been the home newspaper for his editorial cartoons since 1969.
The 7th PSYOP Group was constituted 19 August 1965 in the regular Army and activated 20 October 1965 and assigned to the Ryukyu Islands, located in the Machinato Service Area. It was attached to IX Corps for operation and Training. The 7th PSYOP Group was the successor to the U. S. Army Broadcasting and Visual Activity, Pacific, (USABVAPAC) which was disbanded 20 October 1965. The 7th assumed all missions and functions previously administered by USABVAPAC and transferred members and equipment.
The 7th PSYOP Group was tasked with support activities in Okinawa, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and Japan. The group consisted of the 14th PSYOP Battalion, the 15th PSYOP Detachment, the Japan Detachment, the Korea detachment, the Taiwan Detachment, and the Vietnam Detachment.
A 1965 Calendar Printed by the 7th PSYOP Group for Okinawa
We show the image for January. Naha City Hall, the largest building in the Ryukyu Islands, was opened to the public in September 1965. It contains more than 10,000 square meters of office space. Curiously, when I was in Naha in 1954 the houses were mostly all wooden shanties and the streets were mostly unpaved. There had been little repair from the devastation of WWII.
The 7th PSYOP Vietnams Detachment Commander Major Harold E. Grady (left) and Major Robert G. Laabs, Chief of the 4th PSYOP Groups Product Development Center (right) jointly present the first edition of Thong Cam to Lieutenant Colonel William J. Beck, Commander of the 4th PSYOP Group.
7th PSYOP Group Veritas 7 November 1968
Japandetachment was located at North . It produced the magazines Koryu, Chayu-Ui Pot and Shurei No Hikari (for Camp Drake Okinawa. In 1968, they added a magazine for entitled Thong Cam (Mutual Understanding). The detachment produced a number of PSYOP products for Vietnam , including; 1,640,000 calendars, 23,150 magazines, 2,575,593,530 leaflets and 661,570 booklets. Vietnam
TaiwanDetachment was located in . It maintained liaison between the 7th PSYOP Group and the Republic of Taipei . In 1968 they trained 25 Chinese PSYOP personnel at headquarters in China Okinawa.
In September 1968, a two-man detachment was authorized for
. It supported the Royal Thai armed forces. Thailand
I have a large number of PSYOP products used in the support of Thailand. Among them are portraits of the Royal family, calendars, newspapers and posters.
The King of Thailand
The portrait of the King Of Thailand was printed by the 7th PSYOP Group on 18 November 1969, coded 97-2-4. The purpose was to encourage respect for the Royal family. Notice that the Group takes no credit for the product on the poster. The text on the poster is:
His Majesty the King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the most beloved and respected of the Thai People.
This poster was printed by the Royal Thai Government.
A Calendar showing the King and his Queen Sirikit
In Vietnam the Group worked in support of the Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV). During 1965 The Okinawa printing plant produced 125 million leaflets for MACV and the Vietnam Detachment produced another 62 million on its web-fed press in Saigon.
A pictorial history of America
The U.S. Army 7th PSYOP Group produced this 52-page propaganda comic book for the Vietnamese to teach them the history of the United States. It opens with the Vikings and Columbus, goes on to the Mayflower, then the Revolutionary War, on to Andy Jackson and the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The westward movement follows, and then WWI and WWII featuring Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. The comic ends with Khrushchev, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. It bears a code on the back: 6-182(208). The 7th Group had a detachment in Vietnam all through the war so at some point it must have been asked to produce this comic to help the Vietnamese better understand the Americans that were in their country.
The Detachment maintained liaison with the Joint United States Public Affairs Office and the Military Assistance Command Political Warfare Directorate. In September two members journeyed to Vietnam to plan and conduct the first high altitude leaflet and toy bundle dissemination over North Vietnam. They returned again in December to assist in a Christmas toy drop over North Vietnam.
In March 1967, the detachment took part in the production of a bar of soap with eight different PSYOP messages that became visible as the soap was used. 25,000 bars of soap were ready for the annual Tet campaign of February 1969. One former officer from the group told me that the soap propaganda caused some hand chaffing in the unit when everyone in his office was ordered to wash their hands over and over again to test out the use of soap bars and see how long it took the new messages to appear.
The 7th Group Detachment produced about 800,000,000 leaflets a month for the
U.S.forces in in 1968. They worked with JUSPAO to print 2,000,000 copies bi-weekly of the PSYOP newspaper Tu Do (Free South). The detachment also printed six different calendars with a run of 1,720,000 copies and six PSYOP booklets with a run of 330,000 copies. Vietnam
Major Barger adds:
The initial forces for deployment to Vietnam were drawn either from the ranks of the 7th PSYOP Group, based in Okinawa, or from stateside units, for the most part those stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to official order of battle records, elements of the 7th PSYOP Group totaling 143 soldiers conducted psychological operations in
Vietnambetween 20 October 1965 and 1 December 1967, and additional elements continued to perform missions in throughout the war. Vietnam
SP4 William Boyle was a member of the 7th PSYOP Group in
Okinawa. He said:
Our unit had a detachment in
South Korea, another in Japan, and had sent some members temporary duty (TDY) to . In May 1965, a larger TDY detachment (about 20 of us) was sent to Bien Hoa attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We were quartered at an old French villa near the river that was already used by the Special Forces. We set up shop in Bien Hoa and used our portable (tractor-trailer carried) presses to print leaflets which we dropped from specially outfitted C-47's, which were also used as loudspeaker platforms for night missions over Viet Cong territory). Viet Nam
A 1971 7th PSYOP Group Calendar for the Republic of Korea
Notice the United Nations Symbol at the left
Happy New Year
A gift from the Friends of Freedom
The calendar contains both patriotic military pictures and artistic photographs of South Korean tourist attractions. I love the picture of the two affectionate hogs on the cover of the calendar. That immediately screamed Year of the Pig to me. Asians believe that the pig is peace-loving, trustful, honest, and sincere. People born in the year of the Boar will be lucky and successful in handling money, business and academic matters.
A Patriotic Comic Book
This 68-page comic book was written to tell the Korean people the story of their troops fighting in Vietnam. It shows them helping the people, feeding them and doing public services like digging wells etc. The two pages I depicts brave farmers informing on the guerrillas. In the second picture a lone guerrilla feels guilt for what he has done to the people. The title of the book is:
Korean Army Headquarters in Vietnam.
Department of Psychological Warfare for Civilians
The first page we depict has the text:
When cooperation is achieved with the residents, our soldiers become fond of the people and their comrades, observe army discipline and become friendly with the local citizens. Our soldiers fight the communists most effectively.
The second page text is:
The enemy will notice the affection and support given to the soldiers by the local people. The enemy will cease their Communist propaganda and abandon taking the people hostage. This enemy will become alone and isolated as time passes by.
Specialist Boyle continues: In June 1965, an American Special Forces A camp was overrun. We went to help reestablish the nearby village, which had been largely destroyed in the battle. We operated on the principle that civic action was an integral part of the effort to win the hearts and minds of the people, and visited many hamlets, villages, and towns to evaluate the needs - whether emergency food supplies or construction materials or improvements in public services (schools and clinics).
During the time I was in
Namour detachment was assigned to the 173rd Airborne, the Military Assistant Command Vietnamand the United StatesArmy . Vietnam
I spent many hours in choppers and little fixed wing bush planes, along with many hours in C47's on both day and night missions. My tour ended in May, 1966, and until then the unit had suffered no direct enemy attacks.
Colonel Harold F. Bentz, Jr., commanded the 7th PSYOP Group on
Okinawafrom 30 November 1968 to 16 May 1972. After four years he was superbly qualified to discuss some of the problems he faced during his multiple tours. Some of the points he makes in his Senior Officer Debriefing report are:
One major problem regarding PSYOP is the lack of understanding and appreciation for PSYOP by some senior military commanders. Although the situation has improved somewhat during the past decade, there are still some senior commanders who do not fully recognize the importance of the PSYOP weapons system as it is employed in a politico-military conflict situation.
One perennial problem that confronted the 7th PSYOP Group was the fact that not all officers assigned to the group had formal PSYOP training or experience.
It appears that the U. S. Army is deficient in the number of qualified printers Such personnel shortages seriously reduce the requisite flexibility necessary to support strategic operations
The Group was responsible for printing approximately 80% of all the PSYOP printing requirements for Vietnam The Group had to utilize three printing plants, The USIA Regional Service Center in Manila, the U.S. Army Printing and Publications Center in Japan, and the 7th PSYOP Group printing plant.
Retired Colonel Charles V. Nahlik talks about flying leaflet missions over Vietnam for the 7th PSYOP Group as a Captain from 1966 to 1968:
In support of Vietnam, the 7th PSYOP Group was given a schedule by Military Assistance Command Vietnam and flew missions once a month via the C-130s. We flew into Ubon AFB Thailand the day before and flew the mission the following evening. We sat with the fighter jocks for the evening briefing, jumped into our survival vest, checked maps and weapons and took off. Depending on the wind direction, we either flew up the Ho Chi Minh trail and then along and below the demilitarized zone or we flew up the east coast of North Vietnam. When we dropped leaflets along the Ho Chi Minh Trail we took lots of fire from the Mu Giah pass. Our electronic jammers were working to their fullest but we still saw the rockets coming up at us. That is something that will start your heart pumping! However, none of that was as frightening as dropping leaflets from one of those tiny O2B aircraft out of Can Tho with a pilot who thought he should have been flying in an attack aircraft. I was dropping leaflets while he was diving at the enemy, dropping grenades and shooting a rifle out the window at Viet Cong in the bush below us. Pure Crazy is the way I would describe that experience.
The 1,000,000,000 Leaflet is Dropped
In March 1967, the 7th PSYOP Group Commander, Colonel Lundelius personally assisted in dropping the one billionth leaflet printed by his unit for high altitude dissemination.
In 1967 the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their support of military operations. Besides the units mentioned earlier, the 7th PSYOP Group added a Radio Detachment (Provisional) Vietnam. The unit now had 41 linguists who were proficient in 11 different languages. During 1967 they printed 7 billion propaganda leaflets for Vietnam and Korea. Their printing capability was enhanced by using the U. S. Army Printing and Production Center in Japan, and the Regional Service Center in Manila.
The 4th PSYOP Group was based on the Cruz Compound
The 4th Psychological Operations Group with headquarters at Cruz Compound in Saigon, has the mission of supporting both military and non-military operations with propaganda material. This support includes planning, development, and distribution of propaganda material. The entrance to the headquarters of the 4th PSYOP Group at Cruz Compound. 31 March 1968.
In 1967, the 4th PSYOP Group published a 13-page report titled 4th Psychological Operations Group Republic of Vietnam. The report described the Cruz Compound:
Group Headquarters provides administrative and logistical support and back up operational and technical assistance to the battalions. Providing logistical support has been a challenging task because of the variety and amounts of equipment and supplies used and the fact that much of it is non-standard Army material. The Headquarters Company is responsible for administration relating to headquarters personnel and care-taking and security of the Groups Saigon compound. Officially designated Cruz Compound, the group headquarters complex is located in the heart of South Vietnams capital city. It was named for Staff Sergeant Pedro A. Cruz (19th PSYOP Company) who was killed while providing psychological operations loudspeaker support to elements of the 101st Airborne Division in the II Tactical Corps Tactical Zone in May 1967.
Reveille at the 4th PSYOP Group in CRUZ COMPOUND on Pham Ngu Lao Street in Saigon.
The small detachments Vietnam HQs were bombed by the VC in December of 1966 and they moved to 8 Vinh Vien Street in Cholon. Later they moved to 16 Pham Ngu Lao Street in the
Saigonrail yards. They coordinated the activities of four loudspeaker teams, supervised two leaflet dissemination courses, and assisted members who were on temporary duty (TDY) with MACVSOG. Their motto was "Credibility Through Communication."
I mention Cruz seven times in this article. Staff Sergeant Pedro A. Cruz of the 19th PSYOP Company (later the 10th PSYOP Battalion) was killed by enemy fire in May, 1967, while continually placing himself in danger to keep his loudspeaker transmitting. He was awarded the Bronze Star with V device for valor. The 4th PSYOP Group Headquarters was named the Cruz Compound shortly afterwards. In 2022 I was asked for more information on Staff Sergeant Cruz for the magazine This Week in Military Intelligence History, and we forwarded this information from coffeltdatabase.org. I have edited it for brevity.
FINAL MISSION OF SSG PEDRO A. CRUZ
On 22 May 1967, A Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, was conducting search and destroy operations near Duc Pho in in Quang Ngai Province, RVN. At 6:00 AM, as the company entered the small village of Dien Troung (4), an outbreak of automatic weapons occurred. First and Second Platoons became heavily engaged in open rice paddies on the north side of the hamlet. Third Platoon and the company command group moved across Highway QL-1 and entered the northwest corner of the village but were stopped by intense enemy fire. The entire company was now pinned down. Thirty-two hours later, and after the liberal use of gunships, airstrikes, some 2000 artillery shells, and three more rifle companies, A Company was finally able to break contact and withdraw. Artillery and air power was then placed on the village. On the 23rd, B Company, 1/35, entered the village at noon and became heavily engaged. The next morning, following three airstrikes and behind a smokescreen, Companies A and B assaulted the village. They met only minor contact, and by 3 PM the village complex was occupied. A total of eighty-seven North Vietnamese Army soldiers were killed, one captured, and forty-nine weapons discovered. Ten Americans died in the engagement. They included SSG Pedro A. Cruz, from the 19th Psychological Operations Company, who was killed while broadcasting over loudspeakers when the village was attacked.
100,000 copies of this black and white leaflet were produced by the 19th PSYOP Company at the request of the 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division. It targeted Viet Cong in their area of operation. The front uses a death card motif and depicts an ace of spades on a skill with the text:
Viet Cong! This is a sign of death!
The back depicts a dead Viet Cong fighter and the text:
Continue your struggle against the National cause and YOU will surely die a mournful death like this!