Saturday, Jul 04th, 2020 - 16:53:16


Wat Detention Center

Wat Detention Center - "EVGD1" / "EGBD2" (2019)

'In 1997, the Cambodian government asked for the UN's assistance in setting up a genocide tribunal. It took nine years to agree to the structure of the court before the judges were sworn in. In 2008, John McCain ran for President in the United States, despite admitting repeatedly in interviews that he was "guilty of war crimes" and "intentionally bombed women and children" in the invasion of Cambodia, Vietnam, & Laos. The Bush administration was reelected after the illegal Iraq & Afghanistan campaigns. On September 19, 2007 Nuon Chea, second in command of the Khmer Rouge and its most senior surviving member, was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. He faced Cambodian and foreign judges at the special genocide tribunal and was convicted in 2014 to receive a life sentence. The Obama administration & the Clinton-led State Department did not assist or participate in the proceedings. On July 26, 2010 Kang Kek Jew (aka Comrade Dutch), director of the S-21 prison camp, was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment. His sentence was reduced to 19 years, as he had already spent 11 years in prison. On February 2, 2012, his sentence was extended to life imprisonment by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. No further trials are scheduled.

The best-known monument of the Killing Fields is at the village of Choeung Ek. It is the site of a Buddhist memorial to the victims. Tuol Sleng has a museum commemorating the genocide. Located in a quiet residential part of the city, the S-21 prison occupied a complex which used to house a school. In the US, Nixon was impeached before the "Zero Day" events of 1975 for stealing an office file from a hotel room. In scholarship on the Cambodian genocide, the historical cover-up of war crimes evidence is extensive:

"It was the stench of blood and rotting corpses that brought two Vietnamese combat photographers to its location on January 10, 1979, three days after the liberation army declared the fall of the regime. To workers assigned by the regime to the prison and its surrounding neighborhood, S-21 was simply known as 'the place where people go in but never come out...' [REDACTED TEXT] Prisoners were methodically interrogated. Their interrogations were carried out by S-21 personnel. Once the prisoners had been allocated cells, the interrogators would take them from their cells and escort them, blindfolded, to the interrogation rooms. The prisoners were required to respond to the accusations that had led to their arrests. Interrogation sessions did not end until the confessions made by the prisoner were satisfactory. Prisoners could be ordered to rewrite their confessions... [REDACTED TEXT] In general, Dutch had the power to decide whether to use violence, except for important prisoners or those whom the higher-ups had special interest, in which case they would issue specific instructions. Prisoners were repeatedly tortured. The interrogators used several forms of torture to extract confessions from the victims. According to Dutch, four methods were authorized: blows, electric shocks, plastic bag choking, and waterboarding..." [REDACTED TEXT]

The number of prisoners executed at Choeung Ek on a daily basis varied from 30 to 300+. The latter figure was recorded in May, 1978 at the height of the purge in the Eastern Zone. Officials verified prisoners’ names against a “smash list” approved by Dutch beforehand. This list ensured that not one of the politically targeted prisoners would be missed due to continual industrial surveillance.'

+ John McCain's Visit to Pol Pot’s Secret Prison (2017):

Wat Detention Center - "EVGD1" (2019)

Painting by Vann Nath:




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Wat Detention Center

'The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Khmer: សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង) is a museum in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, chronicling the Cambodian genocide.

Tuol Sleng (Khmer: ទួលស្លែង) means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill". Tuol Sleng was just one of at least 150 torture and execution centers established by the Khmer Rouge, though other sources put the figure at 196 prison centers. The Ramasun Camp in Udon Thani, Thailand is now also a historical war crimes museum, open to the public since 2018, although the history remains little known worldwide.

In 1968, the Khmer Rouge officially launched a national insurgency across Cambodia. According to a 2001 academic source, the most widely-accepted estimates of excess deaths under the Khmer Rouge range from 1.5 million to 2 million. Figures as low as 1 million and as high as 3 million have been cited.

Another recent study calculated 791,000–1,141,000 war-related deaths during the war for all of Vietnam, for both military and civilians. Between 195,000 and 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians died in the war. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge occupied Phnom Penh and later ended the Vietnam War in Sihanoukville.

"S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine" is a 2003 film by Rithy Panh, a Cambodian filmmaker. The film features two Tuol Sleng survivors, Vann Nath and Chum Mey, confronting their former Khmer Rouge captors, including guards, interrogators, and a doctor. Vann Nath, a fine artist, passed away in 2011.

The focus of the film is the difference between the feelings of the survivors, who want to understand what happened at Tuol Sleng to warn future generations, and the former jailers, who cannot escape the horror of the genocide they helped create. Vann Nath was interned by the Khmer Rouge in Wat Kandal, a Buddhist temple and monastery used as a detainment center for a genocidal killing machine.'

Tuol Sleng Prison - "Hill of the Poisonous Trees"(2019):

Wat Detention Center - "EGBD2" (2019)

Painting by Vann Nath:

MP3 Downloads:

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+ Call of Duty: Black Ops- Mission 5: S.O.G "Veteran Mode" (2012):

'Of the many military activities reported during the Second Indochina War, little has been written about the United States cross-border ground reconnaissance operations conducted in Laos and Cambodia. Despite this absence of data, the participation of the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam's (MACV) Studies and Observation Group (SOG), and its ground reconnaissance component, Operations 35 (OPS-35), in strategic intelligence gathering is a historical fact. Although little has been written about the SOG and its troops, a picture of the unit's activities can be reconstructed and studied from several of the verbal and written sources that have been made public.1

Mission and Composition:

In keeping with security practices that required compartmentalization for classified activities, SOG's ground reconnaissance element OPS-35 was, but one of its many secret component forces. Other components such as OPS-31, 32, 33 and 34 were responsible for conducting other unconventional and conventional warfare activities such as psychological operations (PSYOPS), maritime operations, and the training and direction of agent-operatives destined for infiltration into North Vietnam. The conduct of cross-border ground reconnaissance and its incumbent intelligence requirements were the purview of OPS-35. In addition to this mission, OPS-35's task also included locating and freeing friendly personnel captured or missing in action, assisting in the conduct of PSYOPS, and performing other tasks such as prisoner apprehension and equipment retrieval. The subordinate agencies within OPS-35 responsible for the conduct of these activities were its three field elements: Command Control North (CCN), Command Control Central (CCC), and Command Control South (CCS) located at Danang, Kontom, and Ban Me Thuot. To provide anonymity for the organization and its personnel, OPS-35 had an administrative affiliation with the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (5th SFGA).2

Under this arrangement all of the OPS-35's U.S. Army personnel were listed on the 5th SFGA's rolls. The affiliation was a convenient cover for their personnel since most of the members of OPS-35 had served in the 5th SFGA during earlier tours of service in South Vietnam. Just as OPS-35's American personnel had an earlier affiliation with the 5th SFGA, so had its Asian mercenary force, usually with the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG), the Mobile Strike Force (MSF) (sometimes called the Mike Force), or the Mobile Guerrilla Force (MGF). There always appeared to be a special category of men who, in the words of one U.S. Army officer, 'repeatedly sought out the tough and dangerous work with the Mike Forces (MSF), the special projects and the classified missions (SOG).'3

Therefore it would seem that the transition from duty with the CIDG to the classified and dangerous missions conducted by the SOG was a rite of passage. Between 1964 and 1972, the SOG's OPS-35 was said to have had a strength of 2,000-2,500 U.S. personnel and 7,000 to 8,000 indigenous troops, most of whom came from South Vietnam's Montagnard, Cambodian (Khmer Krom), and Nung ethnic minorities. Although OPS-35's primarily concerns were with strategic reconnaissance, on special occasions its teams would conduct raids, prisoner apprehension missions, or seek-locate-annihilate-and-monitor (SLAM) missions.4 Frequently the teams were sent into Laos to the home villages of ethnic minority team members to induce the villagers to aid in establishing 'in country' bases for future operations. On other occasions, their task was to tap North Vietnamese Army (NVA) telephone lines or to plant acoustic and seismic sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Leaping Lena and Prairie Fire Operations:

The first series of U.S.-sponsored cross-border operations took place in 1964 under the code name 'Leaping Lena.' The South Vietnamese Government under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted these activities. Unfortunately, Leaping Lena was a failure and was terminated.5

When created in 1964, the SOG benefited from the Leaping Lena experiences and established a policy that called for the use of both indigenous and U.S. personnel for operations conducted in Laos and Cambodia. An analysis of the Leaping Lena operations had shown that if a team was to accomplish its mission and meet the high standard of intelligence- gathering and reporting required by the SOG, it would have to be with U.S. supervision and leadership. The presence of the U.S. personnel on the teams insured accurate and reliable intelligence. The Montagnards of Vietnam's Central Highlands were especially helpful in the cross-border operations since their tribal affiliations crossed international boundaries. This factor was particularly useful when the OPS-35 teams conducted patrols in Laos and northern Cambodia, both countries having sizable Montagnard populations along the South Vietnamese border.

To a lesser degree, Cambodians born in South Vietnam (called Khmer Krom) fulfilled the same purposes when SOG conducted operations in certain regions of Cambodia. At one SOG site (Hobarge Tours), an entire reaction company of Khmer Krom was never to participate in an operation in Cambodia according to official policy. Official policy notwithstanding, Khmer Krom troops may have engaged in OPS-35's cross-border operations just as they did in other unconventional activities. Another of the minority groups used by OPS-35 in its cross-border operations was the Nungs, mercenaries who were one of the most effective of all the ethnic-minority paramilitary forces.

To provide the SOG and the United States some form of plausible denial (albeit weak) for personnel who might be captured, the SOG units frequently had maps printed with distorted international boundary lines. In a further effort to conceal the nature of its operations, it was SOG's policy to report its casualties as having occurred in South Vietnam. To ensure operational security, American personnel conducted the planning activities for OPS-35. The OPS-35 element had no counterpart relationship like that between the 5th SFGA and the Vietnamese Special Forces, Lac Luong Dac Biet (LLDB).

The name of the first series of SOG patrols into Laos was 'Shining Brass' (later renamed 'Prairie Fire') conducted between 1965 and 1969. These patrols began when intelligence reports indicated that the Ho Chi Minh Trail was expanding to meet the increasing demand for men and material in the South.6 To determine the nature and location of these activities in Laos, the OPS-35 forces conducted reconnaissance missions with units known as 'Spike Teams' comprising six to twelve men (two to four U.S. personnel and four to eight indigenous personnel). The U.S. Congressional Record of September 1973 revealed the increasing frequency of Prairie Fire missions when it disclosed that between September 1965 and April 1972, SOG conducted 1,579 reconnaissance patrols, 216 platoon-sized patrols, and three multi-platoon-sized operations in Laos.7


+ 119th AHC MACVSOG FOB2 (2015):

These missions deployed from U.S. Special Forces CIDG camps such as Kham Duc, Khe Sanh, and Kontum. The camp at Khe Sanh was particularly valuable. It was an important facility that regularly supplied vital information on North Vietnamese activity in Laos. The North Vietnamese did not overlook the importance of Khe Sanh. They were well aware of the patrols sent into Laos to monitor their activities. In 1968, North Vietnamese forces had nearly overrun Khe Sanh and Kham Duc. From these and other camps along the border, American-led teams of Indochinese mercenaries regularly infiltrated into Laos. These units had assigned missions in zones that extended 20 kilometers into the Laotian interior. The terrain in these areas was extremely difficult, and they measured their movement in meters not kilometers. Using the least accessible regions as points of infiltration enabled the OPS-35 teams to enter the target areas with less chance of discovery by enemy patrols. After a team had infiltrated the area, it then moved to its specific reconnaissance site.

Occasionally the team monitored its target for as long as ten days in order to gather maximum intelligence. To support its ground reconnaissance activities, the SOG maintained a communications site 20 kilometers inside the Laotian border. The teams used the outpost to transmit and relay messages between launch sites and the teams in the Laotian countryside.8

The site's radio capability permitted the SOG teams to conduct their missions at the extreme limits of their 20-kilometer target zones and still have communication with the OPS-35 command, regardless of the terrain and distance. With the extended communications capability the teams could call on fighter bombers to engage targets of opportunity anywhere in the operational area, and it permitted the teams to call for extraction when they were in a tenuous situation. Although there are no available records that indicate which of the Indochinese ethnic groups constituted the largest portion of SOG's mercenary force, it is likely that the Montagnards comprised the majority of the indigenous personnel. Montagnard mercenaries were regularly employed on SLAM operations.9

These operations were risky affairs that frequently brought heavy casualties to friends and foes alike.10 In September 1970, 150 indigenous troops and 10 U.S. SOG personnel infiltrated into Laos near the Ho Chi Minh Trail with the mission of luring several NVA battalions into an area where fighter-bomber aircraft could attacked them. The operation was a success and allegedly, the Communist forces lost 500 men killed in the battle. The SOG force lost a dozen men killed and 40 to 50 others wounded. The New York Times reported the details of the action and revealed, for the first time, that the United States was conducting secret military operations in Laos. The article noted that the Department of Defense (DOD) had denied that such activities were taking place and had declared, 'There are no United States ground troops in Laos.'11 Four months later these same sources admitted that reconnaissance teams were operating inside Laos...'but only in an intelligence-gathering role.'12

Salem House Operations:

Concurrent with the Prairie Fire operations were the SOG's missions in northeastern Cambodia. These operations, originally named 'Daniel Boone,' were later redesignated 'Salem House.' These missions provided intelligence on North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases located in Cambodia. Another objective of the Salem House operations was to determine the level of Cambodian Government support for the NVA and Viet Cong.13 The Salem House operations had a number of restrictions that affected their activities in Cambodia. Many of the restrictions were modified or withdrawn and new restrictions imposed; the pattern of change in the restrictions presents an interesting picture of the war's development in Cambodia. In May 1967, the Salem House missions were subject to the following restrictions:

  • Only reconnaissance teams were to be committed into Cambodia and the teams could not exceed an overall strength of 12 men, to include not more than three U.S. advisers.
  • Teams were not to engage in combat except to avoid capture.
  • They did have permission to have contact with civilians.
  • No more than three reconnaissance teams could be committed on operations in Cambodia at any one time.
  • The teams could conduct no more than ten missions in any 30-day period.14

By October 1967, SOG's teams had permission to infiltrate the entire Cambodian border area to a depth of 20 kilometers. However, their helicopters were only permitted ten kilometers inside Cambodia. In December, the DOD, with the Department of State's concurrence, approved the use of Forward Air Controllers (FACs) to support SOG operations. The FACs had authorization to make two flights in support of each Salem House mission. In October 1968, SOG teams received permission to emplace self-destructing landmines in Cambodia. The following December, the depth of penetration into northern Cambodia was extended to 30 kilometers; however, the 20-kilometer limit remained in effect for central and southern Cambodia. The final adjustment in Salem House operations made in 1970 during the incursion into Cambodia permitted reconnaissance teams to operate 200 meters west of the Mekong River (an average distance of 185 kilometers west of the South Vietnamese border). However, the SOG reconnaissance teams never ventured that far west, due to the lift and range limitations of their UH-1F helicopters. Thus from the initiation of SOG's Cambodian operations in 1967 until 1970, there was a progressive expansion of the zones of operation and OPS-35 patrols within Cambodia. The enlargement of the areas of operation and the increasing number of Salem House missions, gives an indication of how seriously the Johnson and Nixon Administrations viewed the NVA's use of Cambodian base areas. It was also indicative of the U.S. military's growing awareness of the role of the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) and its deleterious effect on the war in South Vietnam.15 From 1967 through April 1972, OPS-35 conducted 1,398 reconnaissance missions, 38 platoon-sized patrols, and 12 multi-platoon operations in Cambodia. During the same period, it captured 24 prisoners of war.16



Deactivation of SOG and Congressional Hearings:

In mid-1972, SOG deactivated. Despite this fact, its cross-border program came under attack in 1973 from the U.S. press and the U.S. Congress. Newspapers such as The New York Times and the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch indicated that despite the prohibitions imposed by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1971, U.S. military personnel had participated in cross-border operations in Cambodia during 1972. This revelation also indicated that the House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee had had briefings on the SOG's activities, functions, and casualties since 1966. A series of Congressional hearings held in 1973 also revealed that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on U.S. Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad had also known of the SOG's activities, costs, and casualties. The Congressional hearings disclosed that the SOG's Top Secret budget was in the U.S. Navy budget NOP 345, carried as a classified project.17

The focus of the Congressional inquiry was the military's disregard of the Foreign Assistance Act and the War Powers Act, which forbade the use of U.S. advisers or US. funds to support our ground forces in countries that bordered South Vietnam. Several witnesses gave testimony that they had participated in operations in Cambodia during 1972, evidence that supported the charge that the Acts had been violated.18 Other than disclosing the fact that the SOG and the U.S. Government had conducted covert operations in Cambodia in violation of Congressional legislation, the hearings did little to end the war in South Vietnam or to ease its trauma in the United States. The entire maneuver was a political exercise between the congressional doves and hawks; it had little constructive value.

Assessing the SOG's Contributions:

It is difficult to make a complete assessment of the SOG's contributions to the Vietnam war effort. However, from the data that is available, such as the U.S. Congressional Record, comments from SOG veterans, and in the remarks of a North Vietnamese journalist, one can attempt some analysis. The NVA journalist, Tran Mai Nam, indicated that the NVA had a particular dread of the 'unpredictable brushes with the enemy's Special Forces' and was concerned about capture on the Ho Chi Minh Trail by 'commando raids.'19

However, the fear and stress exhibited by NVA troops cannot form the sole basis for an evaluation of the SOG. One U.S. Department of Defense document that does comment on the SOG's activities is A Study of Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam. The study indicates that:

SOG operations provided a considerable amount of intelligence data to Washington and Saigon on North Vietnamese troop movements along those portions of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that were patrolled by the OPS-35 forces. Because of these reconnaissance efforts, U.S. planners had a fairly clear picture of enemy forces in the sanctuaries and along the trail by early 1969.20

Another factor to consider in evaluating OPS-35's operations in Laos and Cambodia were the political constraints that determined what they could do. The Prairie Fire operations were always subject to the approval or disapproval of the U.S. Ambassador in Laos, William H. Sullivan.21

Sullivan's behavior and actions earned him some enmity from the U.S. military, and he was frequently referred to as 'the field marshal.' General William Westmoreland noted an example of the difficulties experienced with the Ambassador when he said: 'Bill Sullivan had a tendency to impose his own restriction[s] over and above those laid on by the Department of State. (We sometimes referred to the Ho Chi Minh Trail as Sullivan's Freeway).'22

Regarding Ambassador Sullivan and the SOG's operations in Laos, one U.S. Special Forces officer commented that: 'often when intelligence would develop leads suggesting operations into certain areas, requests for authority to insert teams would be denied on the grounds that the CIA had teams in the area.'23

When asked for a report on the area of interest, the CIA and Sullivan gave the SOG nothing. Sullivan's concern about the SOG's operations stemmed from his desire to ensure that civilians did not become casualties from any misdirected attacks. He was also concerned about how the Soviet Union might interpret America's military actions. Sullivan enjoyed a close personal relationship with the Soviet Ambassador to Laos, Boris Kornissovsky.24

The Salem House operations were also subject to constraints due to the Department of State and Cambodia's Prince Sihanouk's desire to avoid incidents that might risk Cambodian lives. Although Sihanouk had severed diplomatic relations with the United States in 1965, informal contacts with the Cambodian leader continued. In 1968, Sihanouk told U.S. Presidential Emissary Chester Bowles:

'We are not opposed to hot pursuit in uninhabited areas. I want you to force the Viet Cong to leave Cambodia....'25

Even with Sihanouk's tacit approval for hot pursuit, combat operations in Cambodia were also governed by a concern that public exposure of these activities would bring international protest and strengthen the anti-war movement in the United States.


A final judgment of the SOG's activities would suggest that OPS-35's cross-border operations were an unqualified success. This success was in part due to the fact that most of the U.S. and Asian troops were already combat veterans when they joined the SOG. A second factor was the peculiar nature of the OPS-35 missions. Although the missions were hazardous, they were of short duration (usually five days) and each team conducted only one mission per month. This system afforded the team greater recovery time and training opportunities to develop higher skill levels for its members. Another comment regarding these types of operations is that despite technological advances in surveillance equipment there is no substitute for the 'man on the ground,' for intelligence requires judgment as well as observation. Historically, the SOG's activities were especially interesting because they were politically sensitive and clearly went beyond the scope of traditional U.S. Army missions. Moreover, SOG's operations present the student of military history with a rare example of the successful employment and management of mercenary and regular forces in the role of strategic intelligence collection. SOG's activities were of some importance to the Free World forces that fought in the Second Indochina War.



'The guerrilla war was not going well for the Viet Cong in the late fifties. Badly needed supplies moving down jungle trails from North Vietnam were constantly being spotted by South Vietnamese warplanes and often destroyed. To give themselves a fighting chance, existing tribal trails through Laos and Cambodia were opened up in 1959. The North Vietnamese went to great lengths to keep this new set of interconnecting trails secret.The first North Vietnamese sent down the existing tribal trails carried no identification and used captured French weapons. But the Communists could not keep their supply route secret for very long. Within months, CIA agents and their Laotian mercenaries were watching movement from deep within the hidden jungle. But keeping an eye on what the North Vietnamese were doing in Laos was not enough for Washington. They wanted to put boots on the ground in a reconnaissance role to observe, first hand, the enemy logistical system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese). By late 1964 South Vietnamese recon units were inserted into Laos in ‘Operation Leaping Lena’. After a number of disastrous missions, it was determined U.S. troops were necessary and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was given the green light to take over the operation. Thus was born the secret war in Laos that would eventually kill about 300 hundred Special Forces troops, with fifty-seven Missing in Action, and some fifteen known to have been captured. But the Communist never admitted to having captured any Special Forces troops. For the next five years, Special Forces led patrols scouted the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a regular basis and fought the North Vietnamese they found there. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was no longer a mystery, and ultimately became a killing ground for many of the North Vietnamese who worked there, or were just passing through. During those five years the cross-border operations in Laos were active, it changed names three time; “Operation Shining Brass” was renamed “Operation Prairie Fire” in 1968 and finally, “Operation Phu Dung” in April 1971. But whatever name it went by, countering NVA infiltration through Laos into South Vietnam became the largest and most important Special Forces strategic reconnaissance and interdiction campaign in Southeast Asia.'


'When the operation concluded in 1970, the unit, never numbering more than 100 officers and enlisted men at any one time, would become the most highly decorated unit of its size in the Vietnam War, and the second most highly decorated unit in the conflict. Few people knew of the unit then, and fewer today know the story of Project Delta, Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group. Project Delta was a “lessons learned” result of its predecessor, the failed Operation Leaping Lena. Leaping Lena recon teams, composed of Vietnam Special Forces (VNSF) and the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG – usually Montagnards and Nungs), proved incapable of providing high quality, accurate reconnaissance intelligence. Reorganized and renamed Project Delta, the operation now had 5th Special Forces Group in command and some of its members, Detachment B-52, assigned to lead individual teams.'

+ Project Delta, Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (2013):


Prarie Fire

'US Special Forces MACV-SOG Special Operation's Patch Recon Prairie Fire PRAIRIE FIRE - Special Operations Group, North Vietnam / Laos Operation. As the United States Marines corps last major operation of the Vietnam War, the clearing of Viet Cong from the A Shau Valley area (operation Dewey Canyon) was commencing in February of 1969 a far more clandestine, illegal, Black Operations Mission was been launched by MACV-SOG out of Da Nang. On the 20th of February 1969, to the west of A-Shau Valley, near US Special Forces 'Base Area 611' close to the Laotian border, heavy movement of Viet Cong and NVA Personnel and Equipment was observed moving towards the USMC at A-Shau Valley and a SLAM Company and between 4 and 6 Recon teams were deployed by SOG to intercept and destroy the VC. The Special Forces Units attached launched several attacks over the next 10 days pushing the main element of the reinforcing Viet Cong across the border into Laos. The Special Forces operatives continued in pursuit. The pursuit was to continue deep into Laos and pushing north into the sector of Laos that parralled North Vietnam, one of the longest and most clandestine Special Operations of the war was to begin. By early May of 1969, after almost three months in the field the majority of the Special Forces / Montagnard Operatives were airlifted back to Da Nang.'

+ "PRAIRIE FIRE" – Kent White (2014):


1. Hearing Before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Ninety-Third Congress, First Session July 16, 23, 25, 26, 30 and August 7, 8, 9, 1973 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973), pages 231-255. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 10 September 1973), pages 29046-29052. Stanton, Shelby I., Vietnam, Order of Battle (Washington: U.S. News Books, 1981), pages 239-253. Also see the following: Schemmer, Benjamin F., The Raid (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1976), pages 39-47, 71, and 117-118.

2. Stanton, page 243.

3. Simpson, Charles N., Inside the Green Berets (Navato, California: Presidio Press, 1983), page 135.

4. Stanton, Vietnam, Order of Battle, page 251. Sutton, Horace, 'The Ghostly War of the Green Berets,' Saturday Review, 18 October 1969, page 25. See also Westmoreland, William C., A Soldier Reports (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976), page 107. Maitland, Terrence, Weiss, Stephen (Editors), The Vietnam Experience, Raising the Stakes (Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Publishing Company, 1982), pages 144-145.

5. Colby, William, Honorable Men (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978), pages 165 and 220.

6. Hearings: Committee on Armed Services, Senate, pages 231-255. Also see Meyer, Gerald, 'U.S. Forces Operate in Laos,' St. Louis Post- Dispatch, 3 November 1972, page 1.

7. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate, 10 September 1973, pages 29051-29052. BDM, The Strategic Lessons Learned in Vietnam (McLean, Virginia: BDM Corporation, 1979), Volume 6, pages 8-38.

8. Meyer, Gerald, 'Former Green Berets Verify Raids in Laos,' Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, 10 November 1972, page 1. See also Westmoreland, pages 107-108.

9. Meyer, Gerald, 'Report Killings, Sabotage in Raids by U.S. in Laos,' Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, 6 November 1972, page 1.

10. Branfman, Fred, The War is Not Over (Washington: The Indochinese Resource Center, 1973), page 57.

11. The New York Times, 26 October 1970, page 1. 12. Ibid, 12 February 1971, page 4.

13. McChristian, Joseph A., The Role of Military Intelligence (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974), page 109.

14. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate, 10 September 1972, page 29051. For details on Salem House missions, see Hearings Before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Ninety-Third Congress: Bombing Cambodia; July 16, 23, 25, 26, 30 and August 7, 8, 9, 1973, pages 231-255.

15. BDM, The Strategic Lessons, Volume 6, pages 4-43 to 4-54.

16. Shawcross, William, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981), page 24. Hearings: Committee on Armed Services, Senate, July-August 1973, page 236. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate, 10 September 1973, page 29052. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate, 25 July 1973, page 25881.

17. U.S. Congressional Record, Senate, 10 September 1973, page 29051. Hearings: Committee on Armed Services, Senate, July-August 1973, pages 232-255.

18. Hearings: Committee on Armed Services, Senate, July-August 1973, pages 232-255.

19. The New York Times, 27 July 1973, page 3. Also see MacLean, Michael, The Ten Thousand Day War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), page 214. Tran Mai Nam was a journalist for Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People's Army) and spent several months on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in 1967. During that time, Hanoi published his dispatches.

20. BDM, The Strategic Lessons, Volume 6, pages 6-43, 9-18, and EX-19.

21. United States Chiefs of Mission, 1778-1982 (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1982), page 140.

22. Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports, page 196.

23. Simpson, Inside the Green Berets, page 149.

24. Arthur J. Dommen, 'Laos in the Second Indochina War,' Current History, December 1970, page 327.

25. Henry Kissinger, White House Years (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Company, 1979), pages 250-252. See also BDM, The Strategic Lessons, Volume 6, page 4-43.

+ U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam's (MACV) Studies and Observation Group (SOG):



+ "Across The Fence" – John Stryker Meyer (2018):
+ "SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam" - John L. Plaster (2019):

'Project Delta, formally an all Vietnamese unit, organized by the Central Intelligence Agency under the code name Leaping Lena, and trained by US Army Special Forces, was the birthplace of Long Range Reconnaissance in South Vietnam. This unique unit was the forerunner of the famous Ground Studies Group (OP-35), commonly referred to by the headquarters element designation of MACV SOG, which began cross border reconnaissance, and trail interdiction in 1966. Project Delta’s reconnaissance training program ultimately led to the creation of the MACV RECONDO School; And from the Project Delta model, the other Greek letter projects, Omega, and Sigma were formed. On becoming operational, Project Delta used any and/or all of the following capabilities to fulfill its mission: Long range and covert reconnaissance in enemy controlled areas; Plan and direct air strikes on otherwise inaccessible targets; Make bomb damage assessments in enemy controlled areas; Use reconnaissance-in-force missions against concealed enemy positions; Execute hunter-killer missions at night using airborne sniper scopes and starlight scopes; Recover allied prisoners of war; Capture enemy personnel for intelligence exploitation; Rescue downed aircraft crews; Employ wire tap procedures on enemy communication lines; Mine transportation routes; Mislead enemy counterintelligence by deceptive missions, mock ordnance, and dummy infiltrations; Use harassing gas and smoke to channel enemy personnel into kill areas; Conduct photo reconnaissance; Assist in psychological operations; and conduct airborne personnel detector missions.'

+ U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam's (MACV) Studies and Observation Group (SOG):

typehost's picture

+ "The CIA, the Hmong, and the Secret War" - PBS (2017):

'As in other regional conflicts, the Thai conflict grew out of a Communist bid for power. In a challenge to the Royal Government, the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) shed its pre-Second World War adherence to orthodox Marxist-Leninism, embraced Maoism, and adopted people's war as its strategy. From the outset, societal transformation was the CPT's goal. Its strategy was to negate the state's greater military power by mobilizing the people against it through the creation of a counterstate. Direct mobilization of a popular base and indirect mobilization through front organizations were to be the party's main lines of operation. Violence would be but one tool among many in an armed political campaign designed to march steadily towards seizure of the capital, Bangkok.

Tactically, the Communist Party used local guerrilla units (main forces were never formed) to challenge government control of certain areas. Operationally, the link between the party and the guerrillas was the clandestine infrastructure,the counterstate, rooted in CPT control of local areas that functioned as its bases for further expansion. To establish authority in such areas, the CPT employed terror. Recalcitrant villagers, or those whose community standing made them symbols of government authority (e.g., village headmen and schoolteachers), were selectively targeted.

Simultaneously, to attract and unify popular support, CPT political themes and propaganda concentrated on promoting the perception that the party was the Thai people's sole champion, its only effective means to address grievances. Hence the CPT concentrated its activity mainly in rural areas beset by poverty and politically estranged from the central government.

Following Maoist doctrine, the CPT began developing its counterstate in peripheral areas of the kingdom, in the unincorporated space of what became three largely autonomous campaigns: the North, Northeast (Isaan), and South. Although Thailand is not especially large, neither is it small. Its 514,000 square kilometers (198,500 square miles) and 28 million people (in 1962) put it in the same league with a unified Vietnam (smaller in population than Vietnam, but larger in area).

Northeast Thailand was especially susceptible to such revolutionary activities, due in part to economic, cultural, and political characteristics that distinguished it from other regions. (2) It was the kingdom's largest and most populous region, yet its poorest (thanks mainly to an ecology that limited agricultural and other forms of economic development). It was politically alienated from the central government because of its population's Thai-Lao ethnicity and culture. Thai-Lao personalities had dominated radical politics immediately after World War II, and the region's delegates in Thailand's military-dominated parliamentary system had incurred the ire of the ruling elite by supporting neutralist sentiments even as Thailand moved closer to the West. (3)

Government repression allowed the CPT to tap the latent grievances already present owing to the Northeast's economic and social predicament. (4) To focus the resulting outburst, the CPT constructed its counterstate along standard Leninist lines. At the apex was a 7-man Politburo, below it a 25-man Central Committee. Central Committee members performed various staff functions, one of the most important being supervision of the military apparatus and creation of a united front (as called for by Maoist doctrine). Committee members frequently served as heads of Communist Party provincial (changwat) committees, which oversaw CPT district (amphoe) committees that, in turn, guided "township" (tambol) and village (muban or ban) party structures. (5)

The resulting alternative government structure emerged as a serious clandestine challenge to state authority and legitimacy in outlying areas. Robert F. Zimmerman, a U.S. official with long experience in Thailand, observed the following about this quasi-government's basic component, the village: "The party's greatest strength ... lies in its elaborate organization at the village level in those areas where Communist insurgents are strongly entrenched. An excellent illustration of this organization at its best is the infrastructure that existed in Ban Nakham village, Ubon Ratchathani Province, in 1966. Although government Communist-suppression operations destroyed this infrastructure,there is little reason to doubt that it remains typical of communist practice in areas where the insurgents are in control.

The Ban Nakham village organization was headed by a village committee consisting of a chairman, two assistant chairmen, and four other members, with one of the assistant chairmen and the four ordinary members responsible for directing the activities of eight specialized committees of 15-30 members dealing with such matters as youth and military affairs, political propaganda, labor and business, women's affairs, etc. This structure functioned within the village but was responsible to a 'zone commander' and two assistant commanders based in the jungle. "Through this apparatus operating at the local level, the Communists have been able not only to recruit and motivate active adherents but also to mobilize sufficient popular support in the major insurgent areas to generate sources of manpower, food, shelter, and finances (in part through local tax levies), and to develop an effective intelligence network. They have also benefited from a certain amount of illicit 'assistance' in the form of accommodation or even bribes offered by government officials or by private construction firms engaged in building roads into the insurgent areas." (6)

According to former CIA officer Ralph W. McGehee, this infrastructure became quite extensive: "Using all the index cards and files, I wrote a final report. I prepared name lists of all cell members, including their aliases, by village. In this district the list contained the names of more than 500 persons. Those 500 persons did not appear anywhere in the Agency reporting at the time. The CIA estimated there were 2,500 to 4,000 Communists in all of Thailand. But our surveys showed the Communists probably had that many adherents in Sakorn Nakom Province alone." (7)

It appears, however, that in some ways McGehee and his superiors might have been comparing apples and oranges. The CIA's 2,500-4,000 figure seems to have been an estimate of armed guerrillas, while the 500 individuals in McGehee's district were part of the mass base. When a village came under control of the CPT shadow government, its mobilization included providing manpower for a militia. Only the best members of this body joined the actual guerrillas in the CPT's bases, located in inaccessible areas. In other words, by counting only the full-time guerrillas, the CIA overlooked the much larger number of individuals actually involved in the movement. It is also important to note that, in contrast to the romantic Maoist vision promulgated by CPT literature, the guerrillas' weapons and equipment did not come from raids conducted against government forces, but from other Southeast Asian Communist sources.

With reliable sources of supply from abroad and recruiting made easy by repression at home, the CPT expanded steadily. By the early 1970s, a majority of the provinces in the kingdom had been classified as "infiltrated," meaning some sort of CPT activity was present. (8) Still, this activity remained confined mainly to areas outside the heartland, beyond the central plain that was the social, economic, and political center of Thailand. Penetration of urban centers of power on the central plain would occur later.


Thailand WWII

'Despite its 1941 alliance with Japan, Thai leaders managed to establish clandestine relations with China, Britain and the United States, each of which had ambitions for postwar influence in Bangkok. Based largely on recently declassified intelligence records, this narrative history thoroughly explores these relations, details Allied secret operations and sheds new light on the intense rivalry between the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS).'

+ "Thailand's Secret War: OSS, SOE and the Free Thai Underground During World War II" - E Reynolds (2010):

The State Responds:

To counter the rising threat, the Thai government adopted a strategy directed against the combatants of the insurgent counterstate. (9) This was an inappropriate response to the CPT challenge because it sought to suppress the opposition by brute force rather than attempting to assuage the popular discontent fueling the insurgency. In December 1965, the highest levels of the government ordered the formation of a Communist Suppression Operations Command(CSOC), later to become the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). Saiyud Kerdphol, a respected officer whose background included covert operations in Laos against Communist forces, was placed in charge of this new command. What the government had in mind, though, was not counterinsurgency, but better management of the counterguerrilla campaign.Saiyud later recounted, "The RTA [Royal Thai Army] then was run by 'the old school,' the pre-World War II officers. They had tremendous difficulty understanding counterinsurgency, rebellion, and the fundamental causes which fed revolt.

Some of the younger generation of officers, though, were more attuned to reality. Among them was Prem [later Prime Minister]. "We understood immediately that what we were dealing with was a political problem. We applied CPM to the problems of the Northeast, yet we knew more was needed than simply a response. Coordination is the key to winning, but all must look at the problem through the same eyes. You need a common blueprint on which to base the plan. "Two things were obvious: there was nothing worse than to fight the wrong way, and the key is the people. We had to ask ourselves, why do the people have a problem, why are they taking up arms? We did a lot of mechanical things,such as setting up Village Defence Corps and special training centers through which we could run all regular companies. "The crucial point, though, more than numbers, is orientation. You have to keep analyzing a target area. You have to keep asking yourself, 'What are the reasons for popular discontent? What are the problems?' Figure out the solutions, then implement and coordinate." (10)

More or less disregarding his superiors, Saiyud began to organize CSOC for a genuine counterinsurgency, one that would seek to get at the roots of the conflict. To clearly define the nature of the problems, he did two things immediately. First, he set up an intelligence analysis center with branches in the field. Copies of all government reports (and any other data that could be gathered up) were then fed into the intelligence system and analyzed with the aid of borrowed computer time--a novel methodology for Thailand at the time. This weeded out typical bureaucratic misstatement and inaccuracy and expedited distribution of a definitive assessment of various problems to pertinent agencies. Second, he established an extensive research and analysis branch under the brilliant and at times controversial scholar, Somchai Rakwijit. Under Rakwijit's guidance, the branch soon produced comprehensive assessments based on sound data. Rather than relying on suspect reports passed from outlying regions through the official bureaucracy, he sent researchers into the field, often alone, to study insurgent-infested areas.

Using the data generated by these systems, Saiyud developed a response that called for a mix of civil and military measures. His modus operandi constituted a textbook approach to classic counterinsurgency: identify the problem; move in with solutions, using the military to shield the effort; and send specially trained forces to seek out the guerrillas.

Although Saiyud's approach seemed logical, it encountered resistance. CSOC was at first given authority only over the small CPM task forces deployed to insurgent-affected areas. In 1967, guided by a comprehensive intelligence network set up by Saiyud, the task forces began to show promise in uncovering and dealing with the CPT infrastructure. But when CSOC asked for more units, military opponents, jealously guarding their own turfs, demurred. Before long,authority over field units was transferred back to regional army commanders.

Consequently, this first attempt at establishing a counterinsurgency program was rendered largely ineffective. Most commanders simply would not deploy their forces on what they viewed as a secondary mission. Instead, they concentrated on personal political and economic concerns. When actually called upon to move against insurgent forces, commanders did so in the traditional military fashion most resented by local peoples: search and destroy.



'While the United States was publicly engaged in the Vietnam War, a secret military operation under the command of the CIA was being waged in the neighboring nation of Laos. At Long Tieng, a concealed airbase in the heart of the country, the CIA trained an army of allied guerilla fighters, including a large number of the Hmong people (an ethnic group from southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand), to destroy enemy supply lines. AMERICA'S SECRET WAR uncovers the history of this covert mission through stories of Hmong survivors and a rich collection of never-before-seen archival images, maps, and documents, including recently declassified CIA intelligence. Highly personal testimonials from world-renowned diplomat Dr. Yang Dao; Hmong scholars Lee Pao Xiong and Dr. Mai Na M Lee; Special Guerilla Unit soldiers; nurses; and second generation family members paint a vivid portrait of life in Laos during the war. Their stories also detail the harrowing run for their lives they were forced to make after the fall of Saigon and Cambodia, as members of the enemy organization Pathet Lao hunted them down. Many narrowly escaped to Thai refugee camps by hiding in the jungles, sometimes for months, without food, and crossing the two-mile wide Mekong River in the dead of night on anything that would float. Their journey continued in and out of multiple refugee camps and ultimately to the United States. The film underscores that the Secret War — which was not acknowledged by the CIA until 1994 — was and is an integral part of the Vietnam War’s history. Although they are now U.S. citizens, Hmong veterans of the Secret War do not qualify for veterans' medical benefits and are not allowed to be buried in U.S. veterans' cemeteries.'

+ "America's Secret War" - APT Worldwide (2017):

An Alternative to Brute Force:

The root of the problem in the North was that the hill tribe people concerned, the Hmong, not being ethnically Thai, were treated as second-class citizens. The government's discriminatory racial attitudes, reflected by the average Thai soldier, frequently translated into hostile acts against members of the population. The CPT took advantage of the hostility generated.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that regardless of structural conditions, villager loyalty remained very much up for grabs during this period. Despite the CPT's efforts to paint itself as the people's champion, communist ideology had limited popular appeal. In fact, setting aside the ham-fisted strategy employed by their rulers, most Thai preferred to side with the government and the status quo unless traumatized by specific grievances.

Using "other war" means, Saiyud sought to exploit this Thai inclination to side with the government or to remain neutral, particularly in the Northeast, where the target population, although culturally distinct, was nonetheless regarded as within the "Thai" family. He and other like-minded officials pushed through programs to meet popular needs through regional development. Publicly, at least, Bangkok was under no illusions concerning poor conditions in the countryside. (13) During the early to mid-1950s, before the outbreak of actual violence, the government had begun a number of development programs to address the conditions. By 1958, this approach had been broadened to include the first community development pilot projects; and in 1960, a National Community Development Program was put into effect, consolidating many of the already existing programs (which had been scattered among various departments).

According to government literature, National Community Development was designed to bring about the partnership of the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and its people at the local level. (14) It aimed "to encourage the people to exercise initiative to improve their communities and ways of living through cooperative efforts on the self-help basis" and to "bring the coordinated support of the various ministries concerned to assist the villagers in carrying out their projects." (15) By the end of 1961, at least on paper, most Northeastern villages were covered by the program, even, it should be noted, as repressive measures sent activists fleeing to the CPT for protection.

While National Community Development was directed at villages throughout the kingdom, additional measures to deal specifically with the Northeast were also implemented. The overall effort was facilitated by the United States, which had established an economic aid mission to the kingdom in 1950. Much of the $300 million in planned expenditures was provided by Washington. The principal vehicle for American assistance in this field was the Accelerated Rural Development (ARD) program. ARD created, trained, and equipped a local organization to plan, design, construct, and maintain rural roads and other small village projects. Provinces selected for ARD were those most in need of immediate developmental help. In practice, this meant those provinces threatened by Communist insurgency as designated by the Thai National Security Council. Once a changwad was designated an "ARD province," the governor's staff and equipment were augmented. Simultaneously, the governor was authorized to implement village-level projects on his own.

By 1969, the governors of the 24 ARD-designated provinces--most of them in the Northeast--had progressed from having virtually no resources with which to mount any type of development program to having 250-member staffs, millions of dollars worth of equipment, and vastly increased budgets. The government had committed a cumulative total of $58,824,000 to the program, supplemented by $49,308,000 from the United States. How these funds were expended, it should be noted, reflected economic priorities. Road building and maintenance were the dominant categories. Other ARD activities included mobile medical teams, district farmer groups (cooperatives), and youth and potable water programs.

Mixed Results of "Development":

In terms of achieving politico-military objectives to end the insurgency, ARD's results in 1969 were mixed. Although physically and statistically there was a great deal of economic progress to show, the ultimate objective had been to "reduce, or even eliminate, insurgency through the development effort." (16) This had not happened. To the contrary, American and Thai evaluations consistently noted that ARD made no meaningful difference in the target population's overall disposition toward the government even though the actual activities involved were generally appreciated. (17)

Even where the villagers' lot improved demonstrably (e.g., per capita income increased), the rosy statistical picture often did not reflect the continuing realities of the poor security situation.Hence ARD failed to achieve a great deal toward realizing its objectives. This should not have been surprising, since the government had adopted a predominantly economic response to a fundamentally political problem. What should have been one supporting element in an overall program became the main effort due to the government's one dimensional vision of "development" as panacea. The outcome was as predictable as it was ineffective.

The Communist insurgents wanted to restructure the existing systems of social stratification and to redistribute political power by seizing the reins of the state. Because there were no peaceful means to employ--they had been officially frozen out of the system--violence became their principal instrument. Noncommunist opponents of the existing order were similarly precluded from real participation. Their only choices were to sit on the sidelines or join the insurgents.

The solution to such a structural dilemma, then, should have been political reform. But this Bangkok could not see. Although political reform was mentioned as a goal, it was completely overshadowed by the program's economic aspects, such as infrastructure development. The skewing of goals was reflected in ARD's unsatisfactory results.


Laos Secret War

'American soldiers in the Second Indochina War wore the uniforms of many services–Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Much has been written about the experiences of uniformed troops in Vietnam. But there was another type of American soldier whose story still is cloaked in secrecy: the CIA case officers who conducted covert operations in Vietnam and Laos. Now James E. Parker, Jr., in Codename Mule: Fighting the Secret War in Laos for the CIA, relates his personal experiences and observations as a CIA case officer in the largest ever covert operation run by the United States, the secret war in Laos. After service as an infantry lieutenant in Vietnam in 1965-66, Parker left the Army to go back to college. Upon his graduation in 1970, he was recruited by the CIA and sent to Laos and later South Vietnam. In a captivating and readable style, he relates his experiences–from his CIA training in espionage and clandestine operations in Virginia in 1970, through his participation in the evacuation of agents from South Vietnam as the North Vietnamese took control of Saigon during 1975. The largest and most valuable portion of his personal memoirs covers his assignment in Laos, where he served as a CIA case officer at Long Tieng, the secret headquarters and base of operations for General Vang Pao’s Hmong army. Parker’s firsthand account provides valuable insights into the events and personalities during the final years of the valiant yet tragic struggle of the Hmong against the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese. Codename Mule is the intriguing story of the colorful and valiant American CIA case officers who served as America’s clandestine soldiers in the secret war.'

+ "Covert Ops: The CIA's Secret War In Laos" - James E. Parker Jr. (1997):
+ Jerry Daniels:
+ Smokejumpers & Spike Camps:



Role of the United States:

Ironically, both the "hard" military and "soft" development sides of the Thai approach were generally attributed to U.S. direction. (18) Such a view was simplistic and misleading. Certainly U.S. influence was significant, but Thailand's collaboration with the United States during this period was a marriage of convenience for both parties. It was driven by a shared security perspective whereby both states sought to maximize their gains. In fact, when the drawbacks of partnership came to overshadow the advantages, the Thai government asserted its independence and backed away from greater collaboration.

A U.S. Military Aid Program (MAP) and a Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) had been in Thailand since the Korean War (during which Thailand deployed a regimental combat team and various sea and air assets), with the Military Assistance Command-Thailand (MACTHAI) added in 1962 for "operational combat assistance." The mechanisms needed by the Americans to support Thailand's counterinsurgency plan were fully realized during the tenure of Ambassador Graham Martin (1963-67). Programs, budgets, and U.S. personnel increased substantially. In mid-1966, Martin created the position of Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency to coordinate and regulate all U.S. military and civilian activities directly related to the problem of insurgency in Thailand. (22)

The number of personnel who administered such support fluctuated constantly. George Tanham has provided useful figures, all for the late 1973, early 1974 time frame (later than the period under discussion, but still illustrative): 101 embassy personnel; 179 U.S. Agency for International Development personnel in the United States Operations Mission(USOM), a plurality working with ARD; 26 personnel in the field element, United States Information Service of the United States Information Agency; 550 personnel in JUSMAG/MACTHAI (a portion of whom were assigned to Special Forces Thailand); and approximately 200 personnel assigned to a field unit (in Bangkok) of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, most of whom were contractors. Other units, such as the 4,000 men of U.S. Army Support Thailand, could be used as appropriate for missions within Thailand. (23)

By the end of 1966, 60 percent of American aid funds were going to the Northeast. Mobile Development Units--16 units of 120 men each that carried out civic action projects--received an initial investment of $1.5 million. The significant ARD input through Fiscal Year (FY) 1969 has already been mentioned (just over $49 million). Active as the United States was, a delicate balancing effort was required between providing support specifically to Thailand and support to the war effort elsewhere in Indochina. By the end of 1967, 33,369 U.S. Airmen and 527 aircraft were in the kingdom (by 1970 the personnel figure would reach 48,000), carrying out missions principally against North Vietnam. A Thai division of 11,000 men (14 percent of the army's total strength) was in South Vietnam, and a substantial 20,000-man "covert" force (27 light infantry and 3 artillery battalions) was in Laos. (25) In sum, "Vietnam War activities" were substantial and had a significant impact upon the economy and society of Thailand.

American contribution to the Thai campaign, for better or worse, followed much the same trajectory as the larger Indochina conflict. The gradual winding down of the U.S. presence in Southeast Asia led to diminishing resources and removal of the sense of urgency that had marked the American advisory effort. By 1976, there were only 4,000 Americans left in Thailand, most providing communications or logistics support and not connected to the Thai counterinsurgency.'

+ "Communist Thailand: Anatomy of a Counterinsurgency Victory" (2007) - Thomas A. Marks

Thomas A. Marks is Professor of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgency at the School for National Security Executive Education (SNSEE), National Defense University and also Chair of the Irregular Warfare Department (SNSEE). He holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy and a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii. He has lectured and published widely on terrorism and insurgency.


(1.) For a more in-depth treatment of the events in Thailand, see Thomas A Marks, Making Revolution: The Insurgency of the Communist Party of Thailand in Structural Perspective (Bangkok: White Lotus, 1994) and Marks, Maoist Insurgency Since Vietnam (London: Frank Cass, 1996), particularly chapter 1 (19-82).

(2.) See Thomas A. Marks, "Government Policy as a Reflection of the Development Model: The Case of Accelerated Rural Development (ARD) in Northeast Thailand," Journal of East & West Studies (Seoul) 10, no.1 (1981): 59-95.

(3.) See Charles F. Keyes, Isan: Regionalism in Northeast Thailand (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1967). For attitude surveys, see Somchai Rakwijit, Village Leadership in Northeast Thailand and Study of Youth in Northeast Thailand (Bangkok: Joint Thai-US Military Research and Development Center, 1971).

(4.) See Komsan Madukham, Dong Prachao: Land of the Dead (Bangkok: Pitakpracha, 1977) [in Thai]. This is a useful volume; one of eighteen such works that Somchai Rakwijit, research director for CSOC/ISOC, arranged for his personnel to produce using pen names. The authors thus had access to all available data, to include classified material.

(5.) Interview with Somchai Rakwijit, Bangkok, 13 May 1986. See also David Jankins, "The Hit-Run 'Government,'" Far Eastern Economic Review [hereafter, FEER], 23 July 1973, 26-27. The precise combination of these elements at any particular time was problematic. More often than not, the standard nomenclature for identifying a particular area of CPT activity was to designate it a "zone." A zone could embrace anything from a village to a province.

(6.) Robert F. Zimmerman, "Insurgency in Thailand," Problems of Communism (May-June 1976): 27. Additional details may be found in Justus M. van der Kroef, "Guerrilla Communism and Counterinsurgency in Thailand," Orbis 17, no. 1 (Spring 1974): 106-39 (see especially 119-22).

(7.) Ralph W. McGehee, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA (New York: Sheridan Square, 1983), 109.

(8.) Zimmerman (page 21) observes: "There is sometimes considerable controversy both within and between various government agencies (Thai and foreign) as to where 'Communists' are or are not 'active.'"

(9.) Portions of this section have appeared in my "Thailand's Terror Years," Soldier of Fortune, August 1990, 30-37

(10.) Interview with Saiyud Kerdphol, former Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, Phayao Province, 31 August 1987.

(11.) See Arnold Abrams and Chiang Kham, "Mountains of Discontent," FEER, 2 July 1970, 20-22.

(12.) See John R. Thomson, "The Burning Mountain," FEER, 25 April 1968, 218-20.

(13.) See, for example, the assessment contained in Community Development Program, Summary of National Community Development Programme Thailand (Bangkok: Department of Interior, 1961).

(14.) For an example of such literature, see Community Development Bureau, Thanom Kittikachorn, Trends in Community Development (Bangkok: Department of Interior, 1964); and Vichit Sukaviriya, ed. Facts about Community Development Programs (Bangkok: Ministry of Interior, 1966).

(15.) Community Development Bureau, 1.

(16.) George K. Tanham, Trial in Thailand (New York: Crane, Russak, 1974), 75.

(17.) See, for example, Ralph E. Dakin, ed., Security and Development in Northeast Thailand: Problems, Progress and the Roles of Amphoe, Tambol and Muban Government (Bangkok: USOM/Thailand, 1968); and USOM/Thailand, Impact of USOM Supported Programs in Changwad Sakorn Nakorn (Bangkok: 1967). Further analysis is contained in Peter E Bell, "Thailand's Northeast: Regional Underdevelopment, 'Insurgency', and Official Response," Pacific Affairs 42, no.1 (Spring 1969): 47-54.

(18.) This is a central theme in, for example, Chai-anan Samudavanija, Kusuma Snitwongse, and Suchit Bunbongkam, From Armed Suppression to Political Offensive: Attitudinal Transformation of Thai Military Officers since 1978 (Bangkok: Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University, 1990). For an alternative approach that proceeds within a larger framework of reaction to perceived threat, sea Thomas A. Marks, "The Thai Approach to Peacemaking since World War II," Journal of East & West Studies (Seoul) 7, no.1 (April 1978): 133-55, and Marks, "An Eclectic Model of Thailand's Participation in the Vietnam War," Peace Research (Ontario) 11, no.2 (April 1979): 71-76.

(19.) Agency for International Development, Introduction to Program Presentation to the Congress/Proposed FY 1971 Program (no date).

(20.) For particulars of this development, consult Michael T. Klare, War Without End (New York: Vintage Books, 1972); Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972); and David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, 1972).

(21.) For a representative selection, see United States Military Academy, Revolutionary Warfare, 6 vols. (West Point, NY: Department of Military Art and Engineering, 1967); Naval War College, Selected Readings for Counter-insurgency Course, 4 vols. (Newport, RI, 1968); Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency (New York: Praeger, 1966).

(22.) Tanham, 115-50.

(23.) Ibid., 115-28.

(24.) The no-combat rule did not apply to "black ops" such as the use, during the period March 1966-January 1967, of a score of helicopters attached to the U.S. 606th Air Commando Squadron in support of Thai actions in the North and Northeast.

(25.) The battalions concerned had been formed in Thailand after being recruited by the Thai army. They were apparently trained by the CIA and detailed U.S Special Forces personnel. Udom was the site of "HQ 333" for Thai forces in Laos. Each unit was built around a core of regular Thai army personnel, all of whom "resigned" before becoming "volunteers." The initial cost to the United States had bean $26 million annually for payroll expenses, one third the amount of all U.S. aid budgeted for Lace. At the time, the insurgent Pathet Lao, who could function only because of North Vietnamese presence, claimed that half the "Lao government forces" were in reality Thai. The balance of those forces were Hmong tribesmen of the "Secret Army" under Vang Pao.

(26.) A more detailed treatment can be found in Thomas A. Marks, "The Thai Monarchy under Siege," Asia Quarterly (Brussels) no. 2 (1978): 109-41; and Marks, "The Status of the Monarchy in Thailand," Issues & Studies (Taipei) 13, no.

First Published: "Military Review" (Jan 1, 2007)


Sensor Drop

'The 21st SOS was initially sent to NKP to support operation Igloo White. The units initial primary mission was to precisely place electronic sensors in Laos along the routes and areas used by the North Vietnamese Army to move men and materials to South Vietnam. These sensors were to be part of what was then known as McNamaras Line. When sensor placement was begun using CH-3Es early in 1968, it quickly became apparent that the areas were too heavily defended to permit sensor placement by helicopter. After several helicopters were lost, the sensor placement mission was transferred to fighters early in 1969. At that time, the 21st SOS primary missions became the support of Operation Prairie Fire and the support of the CIA counter insurgency operations in Laos. Secondary missions included support of civic actions programs, nighttime local area reconnaissance and logistical support of units in remote locations. Prairie Fire was a top-secret operation run by MACVSOG at Saigon to gather intelligence by inserting Special Operations teams into Laos along the "Trail". (These missions were code named "Shining Brass", prior to 1967.) MACVSOG was not under MACV but was under the command of and reported directly to the JCS! During the Vietnam monsoon (the dry season in Thailand & Laos), Army helicopters had great difficulty infiltrating / exfiltrating the teams due to weather. In 1968, the 21st was assigned the task of getting teams in and out during the Vietnam monsoon season. A MACSOG detachment named "Heavy Hook", was established at NKP to run the program. The team to be inserted was flown into NKP on a "black" MC-130 from Nha Trang. Teams were normally comprised of two Special Forces troops (Green Berets) and four Montagnard "mercenaries". This whole operation was so covert that mission frag orders were top secret as were the mission briefings! Teams were inserted into very remote, small LZs which were usually in rugged high karst areas near the Trail. The high LZ altitudes and temperatures had a pronounced adverse effect on CH-3E performance that compounded mission difficulty. A Heavy Hook Special Forces member riding with a Nail FAC selected, reconnoitered and photographed the potential LZ's. Those pictures as well as Heavy Hook and Nail opinions were used in selecting potential in-fil sites.'

+ "21st SOS Over The Fence" - Colonel Robert Arnau (USAF Retired) (2000):

Devil Dogs

'In 1969, I was assigned to the 606th Special Operations Squadron located at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand. It was originally designated the 606th Air Commando Squadron until August of 1968. In 1969, the 606th SOS was composed of two sections. The C-123 Flare ships, call sign Candlesticks and the U-10 Heilo Courier, call sign Loudmouth/Litterbugs. The 606th SOS main area of operation was the country of Laos during The Secret War. I was crew chief of a U-10 which is a small light utility aircraft with short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities. The U-10's of the 606th SOS were not painted and had no markings to identify them as United States or USAF aircraft. They were often mistaken for Air America's planes. We never carried nor wore any identify which would identify us as American Military personnel while in Laos. The U-10's of the 606th SOS primary mission was psychological warfare dropping leaflets and loudspeaker propaganda broadcasting. We could carry a couple of passengers or drop a couple of airborne troops when required. Usually they were Air Force Combat Controllers. The 606th SOS U-10's maintained a regular mail run to one particular special forces camp and courier missions to other bases, ending in Bangkok, Thailand.'

+ "606th Special Operations Squadron" - Dick Saunders & Phil French (2000):

'On 1Jul67, the unit was reactivated and on 15Jul67 assigned to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, to organize, train, and equip, in preparation for immediate overseas movement. Upon arrival at its SEA destination, Nakhon Phanom RTAFB (NKP), Thailand, the unit completed additional training and in-theater testing the 21st demonstrated operational capability in its primary mission. The virtually unlimited capabilities of the helicopter also provide NKP with a base defense and flare drop capability, civic action support, SAR availability, COIN support, EOD Alert, and regular airlift capability. That's the "official version" printed in 1968. There was so much more behind those words that could not be printed in those years. The mission of the 21st, the missions of the units assigned to Thailand, and what came to be known as "THE BIG PICTURE" that we would be years in discovering. The Air Force had a mandate and a plan. An operation code named MUSCLE-SHOALS (later renamed to IGLOO-WHITE) was already underway. Run in the closest possible secrecy, the operation was under the immediate control of TASK FORCE ALPHA, based at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base. NKP or "Naked Fanny" as it came to be known to those assigned there is located in North East Thailand, 8 clicks west of the Mekong River, north of the 17th Parallel which just happened to define the DMZ in Vietnam. But they needed an additional helicopter squadron to handle a few chores in Laos since the 20th Helicopter Squadron "Green Hornets" were working overtime on cross-border operations with MACV-SOG Special Forces in CCC and CCS. They flew for some time out of Ban Me Thout, East Field. The other detachments of the 20th became known as the "Pony Express" for their "We Always Deliver" spirit and flew out of many places throughout Vietnam.

Almost before they realized it, it was time to pack. The aircrews went to the Philippines for Jungle Survival School while the rest of the squadron finished up and departed at the end of November 1967. Meanwhile I had departed Iceland, been home on leave for 30 days, flew half way round the world and was settling in at NKP in advance of my unit. It would be two more months before I joined the 21st Helicopter Squadron. The 56th Air Commando Wing was made up of 1 squadron of A-26's, 3 squadrons of A-1's, C-123 Candlestick flare ships, a FAC Squadron, and oddest (to me) of all, my old friends the Navy with P2-V Neptunes. Under the control of both the 7th Air Force and the 13th Air Force, the base was highly classified. It also resulted in the odd patch at the upper left. Tucked away was another squadron of T-28's with bombs(?), some EC-47's with a forest of antennas, some Thai H-34's, and no 21st Helicopter Squadron. Since I had beaten my unit in-country by at least a month, someone somewhere decided that the best thing to do was to assign me to the 456th Munitions Maintenance Squadron, Gun Shop. There I learned about the care and feeding of 50 call machine guns for the A-26 Invader, call sign NIMROD. Learned quite a bit about the care and feeding of the WWII machine guns, cut my hands constantly on the ammo chutes, learned about pre-Korean War vintage Lot-numbered ammo. When you open the wooden box and find white crystals or a liquid leaking out of the rounds, leave it alone and call EOD to make the pickup. Happened frequently. Working on the A-26 gave me a sound appreciation of the ability of the prop-driven bomber to go out night after night and work the Trail.

Though I had yet to learn it, the 21st Helicopter Squadron was but one piece in a highly complex puzzle that spanned most of the bases in Thailand and many of the units scattered about the Southeast Asian theater. And so the unit, code named Task Force Alpha, began using our capabilities. In February I finally joined my unit, leaving behind many shortened friendships that I had begun making, for part of my welcome to the 21st was a security briefing where I was told that I could not talk about what I was doing, what the unit was doing or where we were going. Severe penalties were mentioned. I took it all in and decided that I had come to the right place. By the way, the security briefings would continue throughout my tenure with the 21st. Task Force Alpha or TFA was hidden away in a barbed wire enclosed compound on the base at NKP. Housed here were the IBM 360 computers that allowed the entire system to function. Those highly advanced (for those days) computers would correlate the data coming in "real-time" from thousands of sensor we would drop on and around the Ho Chi Minh Trail in an effort to stop the infiltration of both supplies and troops into South Vietnam.

The likeliest method of improving intelligence coverage seemed to be a system originally designed to ferret out trucks entering South Vietnam by way of Laos and the Ho Chi Minh trail. This surveillance system, whose development had been the responsibility of Army Gen. Alfred D. Starbird's Washington Defense Communications Planning Group, involved the use of electronic sensors accurately implanted along known or suspected routes of North Vietnamese infiltration. There were two basic types of sensor: seismic, triggered by shock waves passing through the earth; and acoustic, activated by sound waves that traveled through the air. These devices broadcast to an orbiting airplane, in this case a specially equipped Lockheed EC-121 which relayed the signal to an infiltration surveillance center at Nakhon Phanom in Thailand. Because of the distinctive shape of one of its antennas, this installation was called Dutch Mill. Here were the computers that compared the incoming signal with previously stored data to determine what had caused the sensor to begin broadcasting.

By way of example, and allowing for some oversimplification, a machine at Dutch Mill might compare the broadcast sound of a truck motor with the same sound recorded and planted in its memory. Since the two matched, the computer would advise the tactical analysis officer who made the query that a truck had activated this particular sensor. As other sensing devices successively reported this same sound, the tactical analysis officers could determine the route the truck was taking and calculate its speed. (The foregoing is taken from "Air Power and the Fight for Khe Sanh)

The likeliest method of improving intelligence coverage seemed to be a system originally designed to ferret out trucks entering South Vietnam by way of Laos and the Ho Chi Minh trail. This surveillance system, whose development had been the responsibility of Army Gen. Alfred D. Starbird's Washington Defense Communications Planning Group, involved the use of electronic sensors accurately implanted along known or suspected routes of North Vietnamese infiltration. There were two basic types of sensor: seismic, triggered by shock waves passing through the earth; and acoustic, activated by sound waves that traveled through the air. These devices broadcast to an orbiting airplane, in this case a specially equipped Lockheed EC-121 which relayed the signal to an infiltration surveillance center at Nakhon Phanom in Thailand. Because of the distinctive shape of one of its antennas, this installation was called Dutch Mill. Here were the computers that compared the incoming signal with previously stored data to determine what had caused the sensor to begin broadcasting.

By way of example, and allowing for some oversimplification, a machine at Dutch Mill might compare the broadcast sound of a truck motor with the same sound recorded and planted in its memory. Since the two matched, the computer would advise the tactical analysis officer who made the query that a truck had activated this particular sensor. As other sensing devices successively reported this same sound, the tactical analysis officers could determine the route the truck was taking and calculate its speed. (The foregoing is taken from "Air Power and the Fight for Khe Sanh).'

+ "21st Special Operations Squadron" [1967-1975] - Jim Henthorn (2000):


Skyline Ridge

"In 1951, a CIA paramilitary case officer named Bill Lair came to Thailand and was given the job of training some Thai border police as a ready reaction force to counter communist incursions across the Thai borders. You might remember, Thailand was completely surrounded by communists at the time, and there was some fear that the Chinese would come pouring across the border to the north [in Thailand], like they had in November of 1950 in Korea. This force that Bill Lair created -- called PARU [Border Patrol Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit] -- was to act as the Thai vanguard against this kind of thing. To jump into the area, if need be, and rally local Thais in support of efforts to fight off invading communists. In December 1960, one of outgoing [US] President Eisenhower's last acts was to sign an authorisation for the CIA to organise and train Hmong around the PDJ [Plain of Jars] to fight the [Lao] communists that had taken up residence in the area after [1960 Lao coup leader] Kong Le's unsuccessful effort to capture Vientiane. Bill Lair met with Vang Pao and came to an agreement on this military blocking action, that included assignment of CIA case officers to Pa Dong [Laos] to support and help organise the Hmong hill tribe, and the assignment of PARU forces to train them in guerrilla tactics and marksmanship."

"After 1968, North Vietnamese troops displayed their increasing strength "inside northeast Laos, and they constituted more of a force than Gen Vang Pao's ragtag army of hill tribes could handle. So the Thais pitched in, first with regular army troops, who really got their nose bloodied out at Ban Na [Laos] fighting the NVA [North Vietnamese Army] 165th combat regiment of the 312th division in the 1970-71 dry season. I joined the CIA as a contract Special Operations Group paramilitary case officer in August 1970, and in November 1971 was assigned to the Lao programme, initially working as a desk officer in Udon Thani in northern Thailand. I transferred up to Long Tieng [Laos] in early 1972 where I worked as a paramilitary case officer with the Hmong guerrillas. My call sign was Mule. Through an agreement worked out primarily between the US military, the Thai military and the CIA, a group that was called the Tahan Sua Pran or Tiger Soldiers were recruited off the streets of Bangkok -- but really throughout Thailand -- and trained by US Special Forces, mostly in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi, and sent north. But they were the Thai King's own. He told them to put a small piece of gold on the back side of the Buddhas they wore around their necks, to indicate their personal, private bond to him. And he told them in their difficult work ahead to use the words to the American song, The Impossible Dream, as their guide. The Thai office that controlled this activity was called 333."

"The units were to be 550 men in size -- 500 soldiers recruited off Thailand's city streets and rice paddies, and 50 officers and non-commissioned officers who were taking special assignments out of their Royal Thai Army careers. The NVA campaign 'Z' attacked by the tens of thousands on Dec 18, 1971, and in two days all Thai irregular positions were overrun. Many good soldiers were lost, including almost the entire [Thai] BC 609, who at the end were calling in artillery on their own position. Heavy fighting continued in the Plain of Jars. The battle went on for 100 days before the North Vietnamese retreated, beaten badly by Vang Pao's ragtag army, US air power and the Tahan Sua Pran. It was one of the great and least known victories of allied forces in the Vietnam War. So here's my point -- if you mention these brave men, you do not describe them as 'mercenaries' or 'CIA-financed Thai police commandos' or 'CIA trained'. They were Tahan Sua Pran, the King's own. From my two years there, I saw no tragedies against Laos. I saw raw, undisguised communist aggression that was bravely blunted by local Lao mountain men. In my time, Laos was a battlefield of Asians fighting Asians. If US air [bombing] is to be mentioned, it should come after acknowledgement that North Vietnam invaded Laos, never out of context. To classify our [US] participation as tragedies just isn't right or fair."

+ "CIA spook recalls Thailand's role in secret war" - James E. Parker Jr. (2016):

'There is an annual reunion in Bangkok of the Unknown Warriors who fought in the secret war. The CIA archives, complete with names of the agents, have been online for several years. Googling "Skyline Ridge Laos" yields several summaries of the event, but no real history or close inspection of what one online report correctly calls "one of the most significant battles" of the time... Timeline details the 1971 version of a coalition of the willing. At the top, it included the CIA's chief of station Hugh Tovar, a man of considerable courage. Gen Vang Pao, possibly the most underrated military commander in Asian history, assembled his Hmong warriors, alongside a new CIA case officer, Jerry ''Hog'' Daniels. Under a secret, new US-Thai diplomatic agreement, Lt Col (later Gen) Vitoon Yasawatdi raised irregular, volunteer forces, to whom he was known as ''Dhep 333'' _ Angel 333, the number adopted from the unit designation of his Udon Thani headquarters. Fighters and bombers flown by Vietnamese, Lao, Hmong and US pilots were an important part of the battle. So were the big guns of the artillery. But the deciding factor at Skyline Ridge was the infantryman, the soldier with a rifle, loyalty and grit. In the end, Thai and Hmong soldiers defeated the Vietnamese soldiers in a great battle. While the general outline of the Thai contribution to the Laos war has never been secret, Timeline finally makes it crystal clear. Regular troops and irregular volunteers were the difference in stopping North Vietnam's best troops in their tracks. The eye-opening irony of the Battle for Skyline Ridge is that in almost all ways, Vietnam was the hidebound regular army, and the Lao-Hmong-Thai forces, with their US case officers, were the guerrillas. Every time Gen An marshalled his troops for another attack, Vang Pao and Dhep 333 were disrupting, interrupting, cutting off. And Vietnam committed virtually every sin of the big army combatting the guerrilla in his own backyard. Overall, the Vietnamese failed to establish a supply line, so they ran out of water, food and ammunition. At the end, troops were so weak from thirst they could barely fight. Clearly, Thailand deserves to know more of "Dhep". Politically, Gen Vitoon was no angel, and his poor decision making in the 1973 revolution and the 1976 coup put a stain on his legacy. But as a field commander and a leader of men in combat, Thailand has had few equals. And of course everyone in this book, from US President Nixon to the men of the CIA who have never before been named, let alone presented in contemporary photos, their fate was never to be honoured for their amazing sacrifice and heroism in the Vietnam-era war. The quality of the warriors at Skyline Ridge, and its few supporters in Washington, Bangkok and Vientiane, made a difference. If Mr Kissinger had prevailed, the US would have been a powder monkey at Skyline. If the Thai government had turned "neutral" and kept Dhep 333 at home, a much different and more dangerous end would have been written to the Vietnam War. Journalists have referred to the war as "a national mistake" _ a phrase used as fact, not opinion. Even if that is true, demeaning or even ignoring the considerable sacrifice and achievement of the men from Skyline Ridge is grossly unfair, and even spiteful. Timeline, more than just a fascinating read about a pivotal battle, is also a vindication of the men who directed and decided the outcome of the 108-day Battle for Skyline Ridge. Parker lived in Udon Thani with his wife Brenda and two adopted Thai children, and mostly commuted to the war daily. Before Timeline, he fought the CIA censors for the right to publish three books about his experience, Last Man Out, Codename Mule and Covert Ops: The CIA's Secret War In Laos.'

+ Skyline Ridge defenders receive their due at last (2013):

'Speaking last September in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Barack Obama mentioned a staggering fact: that the United States had between 1963 and 1974 dropped two million tons of bombs on the country, more than the total loosed on Germany and Japan together during World War II. That made Laos, which is slightly smaller than Michigan, the most heavily bombed nation in history, the president said. More than four decades after the end of the war, unexploded ordnance is still killing and maiming Laotians, and Obama announced that he was doubling American funding to remove it. These aging bombs are just one legacy of a brutal war that most Americans recall only vaguely, as an adjunct to the conflict in Vietnam. Joshua Kurlantzick’s engrossing book, “A Great Place to Have a War,” titled after one old C.I.A. hand’s sardonic remark, is a sobering account of the American engagement in Laos and timely reading today. Kurlantzick, an expert on Southeast Asia now at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues persuasively that the so-called secret war in Laos — which eventually was discovered by the press — set a pattern for future conflicts and especially for the Central Intelligence Agency’s paramilitary role. “Laos would prove so successful — for presidents and for the C.I.A., that is — that it would become a template for a new type of large, secret war for decades to come,” he writes. The era of American military involvement in Southeast Asia prefigured in several ways the wars of the last 15 years. Then, as now, the United States intervened repeatedly in a troubled region to counter a menacing ideology — then Communism, now jihadism — at a huge cost in human lives and spending, and with dismal results. The use of the C.I.A. sometimes allowed the fighting to be hidden from the public, in Laos as in Obama’s drone program in Pakistan and Yemen. Drug trafficking and corruption tainted American allies in Laos, as it has more recently in Afghanistan.'

+ "A GREAT PLACE TO HAVE A WAR: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA" - Joshua Kurlantzick (2017):

'While the war on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the southern Laotian panhandle was considered an extension of the Vietnam War, the war in northern Laos was the heart of the Laotian Civil War. It was a seesaw war. In November 1968, Vang Pao and his guerrillas had waged Operation Pigfat and been rather successful with Operation Raindance. The PAVN short sharp riposte of Campaign Toan Thang during 18–27 June 1969 redressed the balance by capturing the strategic forward air base at Muang Soui. From 1–15 July, the Royalists hastily struck back with Operation Off Balance. That was followed up by Kou Kiet, also called Operation About Face, which in August and September 1970 recaptured the Plain of Jars from the Communists at the cost of excessive Hmong casualties. Stepping on the tail of Kou Kiet, the Communist combined arms offensive of Campaign 139 was a gross escalation of the war, waged from September 1969 through April 1970. At its end, the Vietnamese Communists had conquered the Plain and besieged the main guerrilla base at Long Tieng, nearly winning the war. The aptly named Operation Counterpunch by the Royalists, fought during Autumn 1970, succeeded in buying the Hmong some time. In turn, Campaign 74B was a Communist combined arms offensive during Spring 1971 that once again besieged Long Tieng.

As the forces of Campaign 74B receded back upon their lines of communication during summer 1971, opening a 20 kilometer gap between the armies, L'armée Clandestine advanced onto the Plain of Jars and occupied about half of it. Anticipating further attacks by the PAVN, the Royalists set up half a dozen fire support heavy weapons bases networking the Plain with mutually supporting fans of artillery fire. Their CIA supporters arranged for reinforcement by Thai mercenary battalions from Operation Unity, as little manpower was available from other military regions. The Royalists were fielding approximately 5,000 troops in 19 battalions. Five of these were Hmong; four were Lao regular army battalions. The remaining ten battalions were Thai mercenaries. Meantime, the PAVN moved T-34 tanks and 16 130mm field guns from North Vietnam into Laos to support future offensives. Although a smaller caliber than a 155mm howitzer, the 130mm cannon seriously out-ranged the 155mm weapon. According to CIA tribal road watch spy teams, the PAVN also reinforced with at least 6,400 fresh troops. Once again, as in Campaigns 139 and 74B, the PAVN fielded a combined arms force. This time it appeared to contain two full divisions. Major General Le Trong Van, fresh from successfully commanding an army corps of PAVN troops in Operation Lam Son 719, was picked to command the upcoming Campaign Z. General Vu Lap, who had commanded Campaign 139, was his deputy.

On 30 December 1971, Communist forces attacked Sala Phou Khoun, a strategic intersection in the Royalist rear; the counter for this would become Operation Maharat. The next day, the first Communist 130mm shells fell on Long Tieng. They blew up the main ammo dump, including its RLAF facilities. Vang Pao unexpectedly left his headquarters at the vital guerrilla base. His CIA advisers followed him to a smoky hut in Ban Song Sai, 21 kilometers to the southwest. There they found him ill, depressed, weeping, and cursing the lack of air support. He returned to Long Tieng with them. They took him to hospital on 4 January, to be admitted for treatment of viral pneumonia. By 5 January 1972, about 600 rounds of 130mm explosives had hit Long Tieng. Radio intercepts of PAVN messages revealed 24 PAVN battalions were poised to attack the Royalists. On the Royalist side, both GM 21 and GM 23 had been mauled into uselessness. Eight of the Royalist infantry battalions had been relieved for refitting. Given the gravity of the PAVN threat to the Long Tieng base, its aviation operations were dispersed away from Communist reach. The TACAN air navigation system on Skyline Ridge was moved 20 kilometers further south to another mountaintop. Flight operations—whether RLAF, Air America, or Continental Air Services, Inc—followed the refugee relief effort, which had been transferred from Sam Thong to nearby Ban Son. In Vang Pao's absence, discipline slipped; there was some looting by both Thais and Hmong.

On both 7 and 9 January 1972, PAVN sappers penetrated Long Tieng's defenses in raids against the 20 Alternate airfield there. On 11 January, CIA case agents began construction of hardened bunkers for protection from shell fire. That same day, PAVN troops from the 335th Independent Regiment, the 148th Regiment, and 14th Antiaircraft Battalion overran a Royalist guerrilla battalion, pushed GM 23 out of the way, and attacked Long Tieng from the north, northeast, and east. They pushed a Thai mercenary battalion from the Charlie Alpha helicopter landing zone, the highest point on Skyline Ridge overlooking Long Tieng. Meanwhile, down south in Bangkok, the deputy chairman of the National Executive Council floated the idea that the Hmong could relocate to Thailand to escape the war. On 12 January, GM 30 was lifted back to the base of Skyline Ridge and ascended to the Charlie Echo landing pad on its western end. On 14 January, two Thai battalions were brought in to seize both ends of the Ridge. The subsequent eastward assault along the ridgeline on 17 January by GM 30 was supported by the Thais, artillery fire, and B-52 strikes. By 18 January, the Hmong irregulars had reclaimed all but the eastern end of the ridge at a cost of 35 killed and 69 wounded. The fighting had garnered the attention of foreign correspondents, who now deemed it "the most important battleground of the Indochina war". '

+ Campaign Z (17 December 1971 – 30 January 1972):


Phonsavan War Memorial

'From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions—equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years – making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The bombings were part of the U.S. Secret War in Laos to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao and to interdict traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The bombings destroyed many villages and displaced hundreds of thousands of Lao civilians during the nine-year period. Up to a third of the bombs dropped did not explode, leaving Laos contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Over 20,000 people have been killed or injured by UXO in Laos since the bombing ceased. The wounds of war are not only felt in Laos. When the Americans withdrew from Laos in 1973, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the country, and many of them ultimately resettled in the United States.

Here are some other startling facts about the U.S. bombing of Laos and its tragic aftermath:

  • Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War (210 million more bombs than were dropped on Iraq in 1991, 1998 and 2006 combined); up to 80 million did not detonate.
  • Nearly 40 years on, less than 1% of these munitions have been destroyed. More than half of all confirmed cluster munitions casualties in the world have occurred in Laos.
  • Each year there are now just under 50 new casualties in Laos, down from 310 in 2008. Close to 60% of the accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children.
  • Between 1993 and 2016, the U.S. contributed on average $4.9M per year for UXO clearance in Laos; the U.S. spent $13.3M per day (in 2013 dollars) for nine years bombing Laos.
  • In just ten days of bombing Laos, the U.S. spent $130M (in 2013 dollars), or more than it has spent in clean up over the past 24 years ($118M).

'The photo above depicts a memorial, in the style of a Buddhist stupa, located to the east of the northern Lao city of Phonsavan, commemorating the Laos people who died in the Vietnam/American War.'

+ Lao War Memorial—Phonsavan City, Laos (2018):
+ Phonsavan:
+ Operation Momentum:

'"Over the course of the war, U.S. bombing of Laos would become so intense that it averaged one attack every eight minutes for nearly a decade," observes Joshua Kurlantzick in his new book, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Kurlantzick, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Southeast Asia, mines extensive interviews and recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records to give a definitive account of the secret war in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which lasted from 1961 to 1973, and was the largest covert operation in U.S. history. The conflict forever changed the CIA from a relatively small spying agency into an organization with vast paramilitary powers. The book explores how the responsibility for U.S. military conflicts shifted from the uniformed armed services to U.S. intelligence agencies operating with less scrutiny. Kurlantzick asserts that it began in 1961, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved Operation Momentum, a plan to create a proxy army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos, in order to minimize U.S. military involvement and keep the war hidden from the public at home, as well as most of Congress. Kurlantzick's account follows the war's central characters, including the four instrumental people who led the operation: the CIA operative who came up with the idea; the charismatic general who led the Hmong army in the field; the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew; and the wild card paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong army and is believed to be an inspiration for Marlon Brando's character in Apocalypse Now. By 1970, Operation Momentum was costing $500 million annually, the equivalent to $3.3 billion today; the United States dropped more bombs on Laos than on any other country in history; 80 percent of all bombing casualties in Laos were civilians; the war killed 10 percent of the population; and one third of the bombs dropped on Laos remained unexploded after the war ended in 1975, and those bombs killed 20,000 Laotians in the three decades that followed. The CIA had previously been a relatively small player in American policy, one that concentrated on intelligence and political work. Although the anticommunist forces supported by the United States were eventually defeated, "within the CIA, the Laos war quickly took on an exalted status, both as an operation that effectively stalled the communist takeover in Southeast Asia and as an operation that remade the agency into a stronger, bigger beast," Kurlantzick writes. The secret war in Laos created a CIA that fights with real paramilitary forces and weapons as much as it gathers secrets, contends Kurlantzick. The war became a template for CIA proxy wars all over the world, from Central America in the 1980s to today's war on terrorism, where the CIA and Special Forces operate with little oversight.'

+ "A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA" - Joshua Kurlantzick (2017):



typehost's picture


'One of the more interesting superstitions of Vietnam is the belief in the wandering soul. It is the Vietnamese belief that the dead must be buried in their homeland, or their soul will wander aimlessly in pain and suffering. Vietnamese feel that if a person is improperly buried, then their soul wanders constantly. They can sometimes be contacted on the anniversary of their death and near where they died. Vietnamese honor these dead souls on a holiday when they return to the site where they passed away. Tradition has it that the young Vietnamese boy Kien Muc Lien reached enlightenment at an early age. His mother was not so lucky. She was evil, and upon her death, she was sentenced to spend eternity being tormented by demons and ghosts and in constant pain from hunger. Kien Muc Lien magically sent food to his mother. The demons were enraged and turned it into flames before she could eat. The son then asked Buddha to help him care for his mother. Buddha told him to hold a special ceremony. The boy held the ceremony, called "Vu Lan" (Wandering Soul) to pray for his mother’s soul; and ask that her sins be pardoned. His wishes were granted. Vu Lan Day is absolution of the soul. This is especially true in the case of parents. It allows their wandering souls to return home safely. The Vietnamese celebrate this holiday with many ceremonies including the floating of lights down the rivers at night to guide the lost souls to Nirvana. It is held on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month every year at the Hoi An pagodas. The holiday is so popular than many tourists visit Vietnam during this time of the year to see the ceremonies. They set aside a day for the wandering souls and offer food for deceased relatives whom they believe might wander into the homes of their offspring.

Ann Crawford says in 'Customs and Culture of Vietnam', Charles E. Tuttle, Rutland, Vt., 1966:

"Wandering Souls' Day is the second largest festival of the year. (Tet is the first.) Though it falls on the 15th day of the seventh month, it may be celebrated at any convenient time during the latter half of the month. It is not just a Buddhist holiday but also celebrated by all Vietnamese who believe in the existence of God, good and evil. They believe that sinful souls can be absolved of their punishment and delivered from hell through prayers said by the living on the first and 15th of every month. Wandering Soul's Day, however, is believed to be the best time for priests and relatives to secure general amnesty for all souls. On this day, the gates of hell are said to open at sunset and the souls fly out unclothed and hungry. Thus plenty of food is left at family altars."

The United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam issued a Fact Sheet 7 entitled Vietnamese Beliefs in Spirits and Trees dated 1 December 1969. It seems very similar to the Crawford writings above. It says about Trung Nguyen (Wandering Souls’ Day):

"The festival is celebrated throughout the country, in Buddhist Pagodas, homes, businesses, factories, government offices, and Armed Forces units. Many Vietnamese believe that every person has two souls; one is spiritual (Hon), and the other material (Via). When a person dies, his soul is taken to a tribunal in hell and judged by ten justices. When punishment is rendered, the soul is sent to heaven or hell, as a reward or punishment for the persons conduct on earth. On Trung Nguyen the gates of hell are opened and the errant spirits return to earth where they wander aimlessly in the hope of finding a cult being offered to them. They cause misfortune if they remain unsatisfied, so the object of the Trung Nguyen is to provide ritual offerings for the errant spirits to propitiate them and grant them rest in death."

To appease the errant spirits a family heaps offerings on the alter dedicated to the Spirit of the Soil, which stands before the house. The head of the household begs the permission of the spirit to make ritual offerings to the errant spirits. A mat is then placed upon the ground and offerings of rice, fruit and rice alcohol are put on it. The errant spirits are summoned to partake of the offerings by striking a gong or two pieces of wood. Members of the family hold burning joss as the kowtow, after which they burn votive papers on the altar. This ritual is performed outside the house because of fear that, given the opportunity to enter, the errant spirits might install themselves on the altar of the ancestors. The day is so important to the Vietnamese that American propagandists often mention it in their leaflets and radio broadcasts. The concept of wandering souls can also be found in their modern literature. One of the most popular books in postwar Vietnam was written by Bao Ninh, a former North Vietnamese soldier. The Sorrow of War was published by the Writers Association Publishing House in Hanoi in 1991. The author tells of an area called the jungle of screaming souls where the North Vietnamese 27th Battalion was wiped out except for ten survivors by American and South Vietnamese troops. He says:

"From then on it was called the jungle of screaming souls. Just hearing the name whispered was enough to send chills down the spine. Perhaps the screaming souls gathered together on special festival days as members of the Lost Battalion, lining up in the little diamond-shaped clearing, checking their ranks and numbers. The sobbing whispers were heard deep in the jungle at night, the howls carried on the wind. Perhaps they really were the voices of the wandering souls of dead soldiers."


+ Operation Wandering Soul - Ghost Tape Number 10 (1968):

During the American involvement in Vietnam, an attempt was made to use this belief against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Since it was clear that they would die far from home, their bodies probably never found or never properly buried, it was certain that they would become a wandering soul after death. The operation was code-named "Wandering Soul." Engineers spent weeks recording eerie sounds. They were similar to the sounds employed during a scary radio show or movie. Very creepy and designed to send shivers down the back. These cries and wails were intended to represent souls of the enemy dead who had failed to find the peace of a proper burial. The wailing soul cannot be put to rest until this proper burial takes place. The purpose of these sounds was to panic and disrupt the enemy and cause him to flee his position. Helicopters were used to broadcast Vietnamese voices pretending to be from beyond the grave. They called on their "descendants" in the Vietcong to defect, to cease fighting. This campaign played the sounds and messages all night in order to spook the superstitious enemy. Despite eventually realizing that they were hearing a recording beamed from a helicopter, the enemy gunners could not help but fear that their souls would some day end up moaning and wailing in a similar fashion after death. Both the 6th PSYOP Battalion of the United States Army and some units of the United States Navy broadcast the messages.


In general, the messages were as follows:

Girl's voice: "Daddy, daddy, come home with me, come home. Daddy! Daddy!"

Man's voice: "Ha! (his daughter's name). Who is that? Who is calling me? Oh, my daughter? My wife? Daddy is back home with you, my daughter! I am back home with you, my wife. But my body is gone. I am dead, my family. I…..Tragic, how tragic. My friends, I come back to let you know that I am dead! I am dead! It's Hell, Hell! It is a senseless death! How senseless! Senseless! But when I realized the truth, it was too late. Too late. Friends, while you are still alive, there is still a chance you will be reunited with your love ones. Do you hear what I say? Go home! Go home, my friends! Hurry! Hurry! If not, you will end up like me. Go home my friends before it is too late. Go home! Go home my friends!"

+ "Operation Wandering Soul" - Ghost Tape #10 #PsyOp (1968):

The tape was mentioned in Stars and Stripes of 28 April 1968 in an article entitled “Spooky Voice Fills Viet Cong with Shivers of Fear.” Correspondent Bob Cutts describes a Wandering Soul operation:

"It was midnight and the Green Berets knew they could expect the attack from the vicinity of the nearby Cambodian border any minute now. There was no sky so there would be no air support, just the unending rain. But somewhere up there was a drone of engines, a plane circling in the night. Then it began - a long, unearthly wailing, coming out of the sky, filling Cai Cai and the soggy marsh around it with a gigantic voice…"

In the article, First Lieutenant Jerry Valentine of the 5th Air Commando Squadron flying an AC-47 “Gooney Bird” from Binh Thuy Air Base says in part:

"The tapes are best. We’ve got one we call 'the Wandering Soul' tape. It lasts about four minutes. It starts with Buddhist funeral music, then this spooky wailing voice. Then a little child is crying, the child is crying for its father. Then a Vietnamese woman comes on and tells how her husband was killed fighting for the Viet Cong."

And all the time, this eerie background voice, wailing about death. It’s a real beauty – guaranteed to raise ground fire anywhere. It even sends chills down my spine. It’s so effective that even the government restricts use of it – they only let us use it on extreme occasions. Another official tape coded number 6 is entitled “Come home to your family that fears you will die.” The message is 180 second long. The first 20 seconds is the sound of women and children crying. Then two announcers speak:

"Oh, why is there such mournful crying? These are the sounds of sorrow coming from the homes you have left. The heart-broken cry of a young wife who has lost her husband. The sad cry of a mother whose son will not return. The pitiful cry of a little child whose father has been killed, cruelly robbed of life in the so-called “war of liberation,” the very war in which you now participate. It is also the sad, sad cry of families whose sons have died so senselessly for Communism. There is then 20 seconds of children playing and laughing. Oh, why didn’t you return to your family? Your children are waiting for you. Listen! There little voices ask for you. Where is daddy? Where is daddy? How can you be indifferent to those young children? They no not where you are or what you are doing. Make your decision now! Why don’t you return at once to rejoin your family? They are waiting for you. Oh, the child’s laugh is such a dear sweet sound. But the child’s cry is such a sad and mournful sound. The tape ends with 20 second of crying sounds."

One wartime news story tells of the operation at Fire Support Base (FSB) Chamberlain. It was published in Tropic Lightning News, 23 February 1970.

"If you were a Wolfhound of the First Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, and were at Fire Support Base Chamberlain on the night of February 10 you might have sworn the place was being haunted by poltergeists, ghosts that is. The moans, groans and weird sounds began at eight that night, a likely time for the cloudlike forms to reveal themselves. Of course, ghosts are nonexistent, or are they? In this case the ghosts and weird sounds were furnished by the Sixth PSYOP Team and the S-5 Section of the 1/27th Wolfhounds who were conducting a night mission at Chamberlain. With the help of loud speakers and a tape of ‘The Wandering Soul,’ a mythical tale of a Viet Cong gone to Buddha, the mission was a success."

"The Wandering Soul is a tape about the soul of a dead Viet Cong. It describes the wandering of this soul about the countryside. The dead VC tells his comrades to look at what has happened to his soul and that he will never be at rest, always wandering,’ said Captain William Goodman of Philadelphia, the battalion S-5. ‘Buddhists believe very strongly that if they aren’t properly buried and properly mourned, their soul will wander through eternity,’ added First Lieutenant Peter Boni of Boston, the officer in charge of the Sixth PSYOP Team. ‘We play upon the psychological superstitions and fears of the enemy. The method is very effective," Boni said. "The tape makes the friendly villagers return to their homes, and any suspecting persons who remain are questioned,’ Goodman said. A quick-reaction sweep following the tape by the l/27th Recon Platoon netted three detainees, one of whom was jailed. ‘It was the first time this type of tape has been used in the Third Brigade and reviewing the results we plan to use this method again," Boni said.



'The introduction of the 25 PSYOP Detachment into the Central Highlands of Vietnam at Pleiku in September 1965 coincided with the buildup of 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) at An Khe just to the East. The mission of the detachment was to collect intelligence regarding enemy weaknesses and vulnerabilities, develop themes and materials to exploit these vulnerabilities, and disseminate appeals and messages via leaflet, loudspeaker and other means. The detachment had highly trained PSYOP officers and enlisted men who had specific expertise in psychological operations, counter insurgency, media development, graphic design, leaflet production, audio production, photography, and other selected skills. The specific missions planned and executed by the unit included imbedded field teams to collect information relative to enemy vulnerabilities and develop and disseminate propaganda to their soldiers. Aerial loudspeaker and leaflet missions flown in U-10, C-47 and UH-1 aircraft were conducted throughout the major campaigns, and leaflet missions over the tri-country border area (infiltration trails) were commonplace. The first major ground operation was a field team comprised of one PSYOP Officer and two support specialists from the 25th Detachment, and one Vietnamese interpreter. This team was attached to the 1st Cavalry during the Ia Drang campaign (November 1965) and was able to ascertain NVA vulnerabilities as the basis for PSYOP efforts in the II Corps border area throughout the remainder of 1965. With the introduction of elements of the 25th and 4th Infantry Divisions into the Central Highlands in 1966, the Detachment (now redesignated 245th PSYOP Company “Detachment B”) participated in numerous campaigns and sweeps of known enemy locations for the purpose of exploiting troop weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Many of these brigade size campaigns were staged out of the large open fields in and around Pleiku, with New Pleiku Airbase (USAF), Camp Hollaway (US ARMY AIR), and the MACV II Corps Headquarters providing support. The Detachment’s production facility, located at the MACV compound, was able to react quickly to the latest intelligence, and develop/produce PSYOP media and material in support of field operations. Generally, the detachment developed and produced much of its own material, however, major leaflet drops (most along the Cambodian border) of thousands of pounds of leaflets by C-47 required leaflets to be produced at Battalion in Saigon or in Manila. These were shipped to New Pleiku Airbase by transport for loading into the C-47 following its arrival from its base in Nha Trang.'

+ 25th PSYOP Detachment [Detachment B of the 245th PSYOP Company] (1965-6):

Sometimes the Wandering Soul tape was used in conjunction with other sounds to multiply the fear in the heart of the enemy. A former member of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me:

"You know what we did on 'Nui Ba Den Mountain' in 1970? The 6th PSYOP got an Air Force pilot to fly to Bangkok, to get an actual recording of a tiger from their zoo. We had a Chieu Hoi (rallier to the national government from enemy ranks) come down the mountain and tell of a tiger that was attacking the Viet Cong for the past few weeks. So, we mixed the tiger roar onto a tape of 69-T, 'the wandering soul', and a 2-man team got up on the mountain, played the tape and 150 Viet Cong came off that mountain."

The British Broadcasting Corporation produced a show called Witness, with the title “US Psychological Warfare in Vietnam.” In it, a former Captain of the North Vietnamese Army talked about hearing the tape on the battlefield:

"We had weaknesses, we missed our homes. We are human like you…But worst of all, each night the Americans sent over helicopters broadcasting recorded tape of babies crying and women’s voice pleading in Vietnamese for us to come home, or a child’s voice saying “Mommy is crying, she can’t sleep; she loves you and misses you.” It went on like that all night. Can you image what it is like for a soldier in a tunnel that has been away from his family for years? At night, hearing those voices, it certainly affected the spirits of our fighters. Those recorded voices made us think of what we missed, but afterwards we were more determined to fight."

Raymond Deitch, former commander of the U.S. Army 6th PSYOP Battalion was interviewed on the History Channel Secrets of War series, episode 51, Psychological Warfare. Talking about Operation Wandering Soul he said:

"It exploited the belief among many of the Vietnamese people that once a person is dead the remains must be placed in an ancestral burial ground or that person will forever wander aimlessly in space forever."

It was not only the Vietnamese that were superstitious. Kenneth Conboy says in Shadow War – The CIAs Secret War in Laos about an operation to convince the Pathet Lao that one of their dead generals was talking to them:

"Ghost music and recordings allegedly in the general’s voice were played from airborne loudspeakers; on one of these flights, the broadcasting aircraft passed too close to a Royal Laos Army garrison, causing the spooked Royalist troops to desert en masse."

The PSYOP-POLWAR Newsletter of 20 November 1969 mentioned the Wandering Soul campaign briefly:

"The First Infantry's Divisions G-5 staff used 'Wandering Soul' broadcasts of eerie sounds intended to represent the souls of enemy dead who have not found peace (i.e. by being buried in the village family plot). Communist troops, of course, knew perfectly well that the sounds were coming from a tape recorder on an enemy helicopter, but the idea was that the sounds would at least get a Communist soldier to think about where his soul would rest in the likely event of his being killed far from home."

The 29 October 1965 overseas edition of Time discusses the strange PSYOP campaign:

"Tucked away in their hammocks beneath the dripping rain-infested canopy, the Viet Cong guerrillas could hardly believe their ears. Out of the night sky came an ominous, warbling whine, like bagpipes punctuated with cymbals. It was Buddhist funeral music - a dissonant dirge cascading from the darkness. Then a snatch of dialogue between a mother and child: "Mother, where is daddy?" "Don't ask me questions. I am very worried about him." "But I miss Daddy very much. Why is he gone so long?" Then the music and voices faded slowly into the distance and the platoon settled back to a restless sleep. It was, of course, only one of many sights and sounds that the Viet Cong are greeted to every day, courtesy of JUSPAO - the Joint United States Public Affairs Office, which handles psychological warfare in South Viet Nam. Funeral dirges howl nightly over Viet Cong redoubts from the loudspeakers of JUSPAO planes, along with the tape-recorded cries of little children, and weird, electronic cacophonies intended to raise terrifying images of forest demons among the superstitious terrorists. During daylight hours, JUSPAO's eight aircraft dump tons of leaflets on the enemy - 3,500,000 a week, ranging from safe conduct passes to maps showing the best way to get out of Red territory. Says one of JUSPAO's "psywar" adepts; "We are the world's worst litterbugs.""

Speaking of JUSPAO, their PSYOP Circular Number 7 dated 4 November 1968 mentions “Significant Dates” in Vietnam. It says in part:

"Trung Nguyen (Wandering Souls) Day is the Vietnamese All Souls Day. According to Vietnamese beliefs, every human has two souls, one spiritual, the other material. When a man dies, his soul is judged by a tribunal. Once judgment is made, the soul goes to Heaven or Hell as reward or punishment for his conduct during his lifetime. On Trung Nguyen Day, sinful souls can be absolved from punishment or delivered from Hell through prayers for them by the living. On this day the gates of Hell open at sunset and the damned souls go out, naked and hungry. Those who have faithful descendants living on earth come back to their homes and villages. Offerings for them are placed on alters by their families. Those who have no relatives on earth or who are forsaken by the living wander, hungry and helpless, through the air on black clouds, on rivers, from tree to tree or in the villages begging. Offerings of food are on altars in the pagodas, the markets and other suitable places in the villages, towns and cities."


+ Operation Wandering Soul (Vietnam War) (1968):

The full message of one such tape is archived under audiotape 1965AU2346, “No Doze Chieu Hoi.” The pill of the over-the-counter alertness drug “No Doze” contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, so certainly the name of this tape is a gag implying that the tape would not allow any Viet Cong to doze while it was being played. The message is a bit different than that translated above:

Recording: Buddhist funeral music.
Child: Mother, where is daddy?
Mother: Do not ask me darling, I am very worried to death.
Child: But I miss Daddy. He is away so long a time. What kind of business does he do that keeps him from coming back to mother and to me? Do you miss him Mother?
Mother: God! Stop asking me darling.
Child: Do you really miss daddy? Tell me.
Mother: Yes…I miss daddy.
Child: You miss daddy. I miss daddy too. Why doesn’t he come back? He must not miss you and me. He surely left us Mother.
Mother: Do not say so. He is coming back.
Child: Do not lie Mother. How often have you told me he is coming back and he has not. Daddy lied too. He said he would be away for a couple of days and…
Mother: Leave me alone. Go play.
Child: No I won’t go play (crying). I won’t go play. Daddy…daddy…daddy…come back with me and mother. Daddy…daddy…
Recording: Strange and eerie noises.
Recording: Bugle.
Voice: "Attention weary soldiers of North Vietnam. We know the hard times you face. Not enough food, not enough medicine. Your leaders have misled you. They are taking you down the road to sure death. Do not die far from home because of their lies. Return to the open arms of the Government of Vietnam. The choice is up to you. Death or the open arms of the Government of Vietnam. Death or Chieu Hoi!"
Recording: Bugle.

This dirge and others like it came from the fertile imaginations of officers like Captain Blaine Revis, who served with Military Assistance and Guidance Group, Vietnam (MAAGV) from April 1963 to May 1964 and later served as Commander of the 29th PSYOP Detachment, a 27-member special unit attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Division in 1965. Revis told me:

"One idea that I presented was to mount loudspeakers on some helicopters and to play tapes of the Vietnamese funerary dirges. (Really strange sounds but very effective in producing a mood of finality and defeat in the Viet Cong) The idea was represented in the movie “Apocalypse now,” but in the movie instead of the funeral dirge they played the “Ride of the Valkyries.” More identifiable to a western audience, I suppose. The dirge is played on a small instrument that looks and sounds like a miniature clarinet. I had noted that when a funeral procession went by and the dirge was played, even people who did not know the deceased became agitated and would sometimes cry openly. When I asked why, they would explain that soon it would be their turn even if they were young. I recommended the use of the dirge to General Kinnard of the 1st Air Cavalry Division along with the painting of the helicopters to look like the beast that carries people to heaven or Hell. I do not know if he acted on the recommendation."

A former US Army master sergeant who acted as a G2 (Intelligence NCOIC) during the war recalls:

"It brings back a lot of memories. The tapes were also used in conjunction with, and to assist in the Phoenix Program. It led to some information for the Enemy Political Infrastructure Files (collateral and special intelligence)."

Robert H. Stoner reports a Navy operation. He tells of Operation Sea Float/Solid Anchor. This was a joint US-Vietnamese attempt to inject an allied presence into An Xuyen Province, 175 miles southwest of Saigon. Stoner says:

"This evening's adventure was to insert and extract a Beach Jumper Unit ‘Duffel Bag Team.’ (This team planted and monitored vibration-and body heat-activated sensors that helped track movements of the bad guys around our base). On the way out, we were to play some ‘Wandering Soul’ tapes the Psychological Warfare boys had dreamed up to terrorize the guerillas. The line was the guerillas would become so frightened, they'd come over to the government side.""

The U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam Monthly Historical Survey, June 1968 tells us more about their Psychological Operations:

"Psychological and civic action operations continued to be actively pursued during the month. The Viet Gong recognizing the inroads being made by the naval forces continued to intensify their counter-attacks. Forty-two per cent of the broadcasting missions conducted drew hostile fire. The majority of the incidents occurred in the Delta. In one incident PBR and Navy Seawolves wounded 18 Viet Cong following an attack on a PBR patrol conducting a PSYOP speaker mission six miles east of Vinh Long. Captured Viet Cong prisoners and Hoi Chanhs frequently stated that in many units troop morale was low due to lack of food and the B-52 bombing raids. The intensification of the Chieu Hoi program was initiated to capitalize on the reported Viet Cong morale problems."

The U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam After-action Monthly Reports adds:

"The Chieu Hoi rate for Naval forces dropped off drastically from the record high at 115 in May 1969 to six who rallied directly to Naval units and six who turned themselves in to other forces as a result of Navy loudspeaker broadcasts. Some of the themes of the PSYOP tapes played in June 1969 were: “Wandering Soul,” “Women and Children Crying,” “Family Separation,” and “VC Fighting a Hopeless War.”"

We mention above how it was possible that a PSYOP tape aimed at the Viet Cong could terrify and demoralize troops of the Republic of Vietnam. Lieutenant Junior Grade Tom Byrnes (USNR) tells of an operation that he took part in as part of Mobile Advanced Tactical Support Base (MATSB) Operation Seafloat in the Nam Can Forest in An Xuyen Province, IV Corps. Tom was one of 8 Naval officers trained at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Ft. Bragg, NC from September to December 1969. His 5 enlisted team members received on-the-job training and were mostly former Swift Boat crew members. The tour of duty was 4 months for an officer and 3 months for an enlisted man. He performed PSYOP operations with a 1400-watt broadcast system from Beach Jumper Unit 1. The system was used on Swift boats, Yabuta junks, Army Huey helicopters, or Navy Seawolf (UH-1B) helicopters belonging to Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HAL-3), Detachment One. Tom says:

"Operation Seafloat was a group of 12 AMMI pontoon barges tied together and anchored in the Song Cua Lon (Big Crab River) about 6 miles north of the very southern tip of the country. The Ammi is a Navy 90x28-foot pontoon barge developed after World War II for rapid construction of piers, bridges, and small craft facilities. It can be moored in water ranging from 3 to 40 feet in depth. We had about 100 Americans, 20 Vietnamese, Swift Boats, River Assault Craft crews and Navy SEALs. Since we didn't have any infantry, and the area was mud and Cai Duoc trees, boat operations were the order of the day. Sometime late in the summer of 1970 a unit of Vietnamese Marines and their U.S.M.C. Advisors were assigned to work in our area. Since we had the boats, we decided to launch a small amphibious operation in the area where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand. The idea was for the Swifts to carry the Vietnamese Marines out of the Bo De river and to proceed south, then southwest and to debark them from the Ocean onto the mud beach. We had a Vietnamese-language tape made that said, "Drop your weapons and stand up." The idea was to play it from a 1400-watt broadcast system on a U.S. Army Huey helicopter which would fly over the area just ahead of the Marines as they hit the beach. The landing was a mess since the water was so shallow. The Marines had to wade about 500 yards to the beach through the mud. I was on the Huey and we orbited just outside of the beachhead until the Marines hit the beach. We then went roaring through the area about 5 feet over the trees with the tape blaring the message every 5-8 seconds. We stayed around for maybe 5 minutes and then returned to Seafloat."

"We often dropped leaflets from helicopters although most of the local people could not read. This gave them something tangible to hold on to. We followed up with helicopter loudspeaker messages and “Wandering Soul” harassment broadcasts. Whenever we played the tape near friendly Vietnamese they opened fire on us. If there were Viet Cong near us when we played it, they also opened fire on us. We preferred to use it on nights with moonlight. We would use SEAL tiara grenades (Phosphorescent marker rifle fired grenades, not white phosphorous) fired high. When we heard them pop we would start the tape. As the phosphorous started to fall, the breeze would catch it and it would look like a ghost in the sky. It was probably very effective since it gave me the creeps, and I was the one causing it. We also used the Wandering Soul in conjunction with a "Laugh Box" You squeezed it and it gave out an irritating laugh. We would play the Wandering Soul, they would shoot at us. We would shoot back and mortar them with the Swift boat’s or the Heavy Seal Support Craft's (HSSC) 81mm mortar, then play the laugh box over the 1400 watt broadcast system. We often added country or rock music, or messages from ralliers to their villages. We ultimately caused 823 Viet Cong to rally to the Government side. With the exception of one man, everyone on the team was wounded at least once. All but one of the wounds were shrapnel, and all but one were non-life threatening."

The 8th PSYOP Battalion played a different kind of sound tape in Vietnam according to SP4 Vaughn Whiting in an article entitled “Madison Avenue, Vietnam” in Esprit magazine, June 1969:

"A hundred miles from the nearest railroad track, the crashing sound of a steam locomotive shakes the jungle night. Whistles shriek. Bells clang. Steam escapes from open valves in a hissing crescendo that makes men cover their ears. A quiet little valley near the Cambodian border suddenly sounds like the Rock Island Line in the days before diesel engines. But Charlie never sees the train. The sound comes from loudspeakers aboard a low-flying C-47 on a psychological operations mission with only one object: Mess up Charlie’s mind, mess it up so badly that he will shoot at the sound out of pure frustration and give away his position. When that happens, a Spooky gunship, which has been circling just out of sight, glides in with its miniguns ablaze and quiets the valley for the night. Night after night, these C-47 teams, called Gabby Spooks, fly over areas where they think large enemy units are camping and broadcast their repertoire of ear-splitting raucous sounds. Sooner or later the racket proves too much for the hungry, sleepy, homesick soldier below. One of them breaks discipline, rushes into a clearing and take an angry potshot at Gabby. Then it’s all over."

There are numerous reports of the Viet Cong opening fire on the loudspeaker aircraft. Specialist 4 (SP4) John (Snake) Orr of B Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Bien Hoa) told me that during his Vietnam tour he was assigned to and supported at different times the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry division, the 1st Air Cavalry (almost 600 hours flying speaker and leaflet missions) the 9th Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. John said that the 9th Infantry Division was the only unit that thanked him. He said that in general, most of the infantry patrols were unhappy to have his team tagging along. He suspects that they considered his PSYOP troops just dead weight who they hoped could shoot straight in a firefight. John preferred flying to ground operations; though he admits that he took a heck of a lot more bullets in choppers than he ever did on the ground. He adds:

"I played the Wandering Soul tape many times during 1969-1970; until it got my aircraft all shot up. The damn tape drew fire every time. I never understood the lack of fire discipline on the part of the enemy."


+ Operation Wandering Soul (Ghost Tape #10) - Cymatic Sound Visualization (1968):

In Sonic Warfare: Sound, Warfare, Effect, and the Ecology of Fear, The MIT Press, 2010, author Steve Goodman mentions the Wandering Soul and similar devices:

"During the Vietnam War, we still confused sonic power with high volume, for example, in the so called “Urban Funk” Campaign where we mounted supersized oscillators on top of attack helicopters and blasted Victor Charlie with heavy metal at 120dB. We called that weapon the “Curdler” and it was a very primitive system. The Curdler, or “People Repeller,” was an oscillator that could deafen at short range. When used with a public address system and a 350 watt sound amplifier, it was possible to direct intelligible speech to a range of 2.5 miles. The Curdler was also capable of unleashing siren frequencies of between 500 and 5,000 hertz and of inducing panic. We also used high frequency nighttime wailing sound in a weapon we called the “Wandering Ghost,” intended to spook the Viet Cong by playing on certain Buddhist beliefs and that weapon was a big step forward because we came to realize that there is no sound more powerful than the one that conquers your true heart with deep vibrations.... Ultimately what we are talking about is a weapon that uses harmonic infrasound amplified by the power of Evangelical Christian faith to summon and deploy a voice that sounds like it comes from right inside your head, but also sounds like it is coming from everywhere else. A voice that comes from everywhere and nowhere, from everyone and no one, and when you hear it, you will obey no matter what it says because the real weapon that brought down the walls of Jericho was the voice of God...."

As journalist John Pilger reported in his book Heroes, [South End Press, Cambridge MA, 2001] The 1st Air Cavalry PSYOP officer was a captain. He was a stereo-and-speakers buff and what he loved to do was to fly in a helicopter low over the jungle and play his tapes to the enemy. His favorite tape was called “Wandering Soul,” and as we lifted out of Snuffy he explained:

“What we’re doing today is psyching out the enemy. And that’s where Wandering Soul comes in. Now you’ve got to understand the Vietnamese way of life to realize the power behind Wandering Soul. You see, the Vietnamese people worship their ancestors and they take a lot of notice of the spirits and stuff like that. Well, what we’re going to do here is broadcast the voices of the ancestors—you know, ghosts which we’ve simulated in our studios. These ghosts, these ancestors, are going to tell the Vietcong to stop messing with the people’s right to live freely, or the people are going to disown them.”

The helicopter dropped to within twenty feet of the trees. The PSYOP captain threw a switch and a voice reverberated from two loudspeakers attached to the machine-gun mounting. While the voice hissed and hooted, a sergeant hurled out handfuls of leaflets which made the same threats in writing. Low flying loudspeaker planes awakened the enemy at night with somber Buddhist funeral music, followed by the recorded voice of a child pleading for his daddy to return home - or perhaps weird electronic cacophonies to frighten the superstitious who believed in forest demons.

The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office booklet National Catalog of PSYOPS materials mentions one such tape numbered 3A. The tape is 49 seconds long and the message is spoken by a woman. It opens with 10 seconds of Buddhist funeral music and ends with two more seconds of the music. The message is:

"Each day that passes brings you closer to death. All men must die sometime. But if you stay with the Viet Cong, you will soon die by bombs or bullets. It is much better to spend the rest of your life among your family and friends. Come home! Make your plans to leave the Viet Cong now. Come home before you die. Come home!"

A former 1st Infantry Division sergeant who served several tours in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 remembers the taped funeral music. He comments:

"The damn reverb effect of the recording is eerie. I saw and picked-up leaflets and once heard Funeral Music played over the valleys around Landing Zone Mary Ann. A Kit Carson Scout told me what the music was. This was a ghostly sound. Hell, listening to that made me want to Chieu Hoi myself. It must have been effective as hell in the jungle at night."

Another former sergeant wrote:

I can relate to your article concerning PSYOP Broadcasting Propaganda tapes. I was a Field Team Leader, assigned 4 August 1967 to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Saigon. I worked for the first few months with the 246th PSYOP Company at Bien Hoa and in late 1967 I was transferred to Cu Chi, attached to the 25th Infantry Division. I was promoted to Sgt. E5, and reassigned to 244th PSYOP Company where I was a Field Team Leader in Quang Tri Province, attached to the First Cavalry Division. We did Search and Destroy missions in the A Shau Valley. I spent many hours in a “Huey” with loudspeakers broadcasting those very tapes."

There is another strange sound tape meant to mess with “Charlie’s” mind that we should mention. The 1969 Army Concept Team in Vietnam publication Employment of U.S. Army Psychological Operation Units in Vietnam says about Operation Tintinnabulation:

"Operation Tintinnabulation was a new Propaganda technique being tested by the 10th PSYOP Battalion, in cooperation with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, was recently employed against two VC battalions. Tintinnabulation (which literally means the ringing of bells) involves two C-47 aircraft, one "Spooky" (minigun-equipped) and the other a "Gabby" (loudspeaker-equipped). During the initial phase, the Gabby employs a frequency pulsating noisemaker designed to harass and confuse the enemy forces during night hours, while the Spooky provides air cover. During the second phase, the harassing noisemaker continues, however, emphasis is given to use of Chieu Hoi tapes. The first phase is designed to eliminate the feeling that the night provides security to the target audience, while the second phase is designed to reinforce the enemy’s desire to rally. Targets for both phases are recommended based on the results of daytime ground operations. During a recent operation in Vinh Long Province, a total of 24 missions were flown with over-the-target time of approximately 2 hours per aircraft. The number of Hoi Chanhs in the province more than tripled (122 in September to 379 in December), and ralliers stated that the effects of the night missions caused them to rally. The initial success of Operation Tintinnabulation suggested this concept should be considered for use in other areas."

A November 1968 report states that phase I of Operation Tintinnabulation ended on 14 November. A night operation, this phase utilized the C-47 aircraft and speaker system with the frequency pulsating generator (Noisemaker) and various tapes of eerie music designed to eliminate the feeling that the night provides security to the target audience. Phase II was initiated on 15 November and incorporates the use of loudspeaker and C-47 aircraft equipped with mini-guns to suppress ground fire. Specially designed tapes based on Hoi Chanh feedback are used in this phase. On 19 November, 16 Hoi Chanh rallied and 14 of them stated that the night loudspeaker – gunship operations were a major factor in their decision to rally.

The Wandering Ghost campaign was not universally admired. Lieutenant Colonel William J. Beck commanded the 4th PSYOP Group from 15 October 1967 to 7 October 1968. He discusses some of his unit’s problems and successes in the declassified Senior Officer Debriefing Report. He complains that there was some frustration at the lack of signs of tangible PSYOP success, and this led to gimmicks like sky-lighting effects, and ghostly loudspeakers:

"This aspect, unfortunately has often reduced idea formation on the part of these operators and staff to the level of “gimmicky” and more or less desperate attempts to find a quick solution and dramatic breakthrough. This is not good PSYOP."

Death Note

Captain Edward N. Voke, S2 (Intelligence) staff officer of the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1966 to 1967 ran across a poster in I Corps in 1967 that used the Wandering Soul theme. He told me:

"I have a 16 x 10.25-inches poster printed on one side only; black print on white background; probably designed to be posted on buildings and trees. It has the same ace of spades card with skull and crossbones and below it are 4 lines of shaded verse. It is coded “244-298-67,” so it was printed by our 244th PSYOP Company in I Corps in 1967."

The poster message is:

The owls are calling for the souls of the Viet Cong
Those wandering souls without destination
Spreading countless horrors to the people
Those wandering souls died in nameless graves

RETURN [to the National Government] OR DIE

Former sergeant Derrill de Heer of the First Psychological Operations Unit described the Australian use of the tape:

"I and others in the unit used the Wandering Souls tape on many occasions. There seems to be a number of versions of it made. In PSYWAR a tape needs to be 20 to 40 seconds long or you may leave an area before the intended target hears the whole message. The Australians only played the tape at night in areas away from inhabited areas and away from areas of South Vietnamese soldiers. The Vietnamese have a strong belief that if you die violently or where you are not known or are not buried in the traditional way your spirit will wander eternally. Hence the tape was made to make then think about their death and perhaps consider returning to the South Vietnamese government side under the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) amnesty program."

As I remember the tape the first half was electronic music with a voice from beyond saying he was wounded and did not know where he was. He was thinking of his family and children. The music changed to psychedelic music and the voice was more wavering and he was now dead and his spirit was wandering. De Heer mentioned the operation again years later in a newspaper interview:

"We did this during night-time because in the silence of night sound travels further. We’d be drifting in a Pilatus Porter aircraft, with no lights, at about 1000 feet, just above stalling speed. On a ground, they couldn’t hear the aircraft. All they could hear was the message we were broadcasting. The message included a scary voice of a bleeding soldier, alone in a night and yearning for home. The tape that included electronic music, then changed to a more resounding tone, and portrayed the voice of a dead soldier, now a wandering spirit. It finished with a plea for enemy soldiers to rally to the Government of South Vietnam. The sound of tape was chilling, even for non-Vietnamese troops. I had one pilot that simply refused to fly missions when we were going to play that tape. It freaked him out."

The Wandering Soul operation was mentioned a third time by de Heer in his Masters’ Thesis: Victoria per Mentum: Psychological Operations Conducted by the Australian Army in Phuoc Tuy Province South Vietnam 1965 – 1971. Some of his comments were:

"The version used by the Australians was a taped message about twenty to thirty seconds in length and contained a spiritual theme divided into two parts. The first part of the message could be described as electronic music with a voice in an echo chamber in Vietnamese saying “they were wounded and they did not know where they were, they were dying.” In the second part of the taped message the music changed to a slightly weirder and psychedelic style of ghostly music making the voice changes to sound like a spirit voice. The voice declared that “I am dead and my soul (spirit) is wandering.” This demonstrated how the victim was no longer in the region of the village and his ‘spirit’ would be condemned to wander forever. The effectiveness of these broadcasts was believed to be heightened during night flights when the aircraft would fly close to stalling speed at about one thousand feet above ground level with aircraft navigation lights switched off. At this altitude, the engine of the turbo-propeller driven Porter aircraft was so quiet that it could not be heard from the ground."


+ Psychological Operations Battalion_ Training of Military Personnel Vietnam War (1967):

National Public Radio reported in June 2011, that Steve Goodman, the head of Hyperdub, a London-based record label, opened an exhibit called AUDiNT (Audio Intelligence) at the Art In General gallery in New York City which looks at various military uses of sound. He said:

"What we're doing is tracing or mapping these three phases of the history of acoustic weaponry. Firstly, starting with the Second World War, there was a division of the U.S. Army that was referred to as the Ghost Army. Part of what they were involved in was sonic deception, putting loud speakers in the battlefield to create a false impression. So we trace this from the Second World War to the U.S. Army in Vietnam, a division of psychological operations called Wandering Soul. This involved helicopter-mounted loudspeakers playing simulated Buddhist chants, fabricated sounds of the dead ancestors of the Viet Cong fighters speaking to them from the afterlife to try and persuade them to surrender. The third phase is the use of these ultrasound driven directional audio speakers. These speakers can actually rupture eardrums from a distance."

In 1967 Vietnam, a Warrant Officer named Terrence M. Connor fitted a police siren to his helicopter of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. He remembered that the sound of the siren had frightened him as a kid and believed that the Viet Cong were a superstitious people who would be frightened by the sound of the siren as adults. Freelance author Joseph Trevithick wrote about other sound devices in an article entitled The Pentagon Once Tried to Make ‘Screaming’ Bombs. He said that beginning in 1964, the Air Force began work on “Pyrotechnic Harassment Devices,” or PHDs. This was an air deliverable unit that generated noise over a six hour period. The Air Force wanted noise-emitting devices that would be small enough to fit inside a pod-shaped SUU-13 dispenser. The planes could drop the screaming pods before speeding away. The early pods spewed out gun shots, whistles, whines and other white noise. The final design had clusters of blank cartridges to simulate gun sounds. Each canister would fire eight bursts of eight shots total over a period of six hours. The bomblet fired each burst at random intervals. Each time, a special bellow would let out a screaming whine. After the device had finished the full cycle, a one pound explosive charge would blow up the whole unit. The units were not successful. The PHDs were easy to spot from the ground and the screaming sound was not realistic. The technicians recommended that experimentation continue and new types of harassing bombs should concentrate on one type of noise that sounded real. The Air Force then tried a mechanical or pyrotechnic scream generator that could be dropped from aircraft and broadcast any recorded sound. These were called “screaming memes.”'

+ THE "WANDERING SOUL" TAPE OF VIETNAM SGM - Herbert A. Friedman, Ret. (2019):



'According to the Operations Report ­ Lessons Learned Headquarters 10th Psychological Operations Battalion period ending 31 January, 1968 dated 6 February 1968 the 10th PSYOP Battalion dealt with a group known as the “KKK,” a quasi-bandit guerrilla band of Cambodian extract operating along the Cambodian border in Chau Doc province. The KKK was organized in company and battalion levels and constituted a threat to the local government and administration by taxing the people and in some instances attacking villages and assassinating leaders. Between 24 December 1967 and 3 January 1968, 185 of these KKK bandits rallied to the GVN. An arrangement was worked out by province officials and they offered full Chieu Hoi type benefits to the KKK members although current GVN policy does not classify the KKK as being eligible. Seizing the possibility of influencing the KKK personnel of the 10th POB dispatched 2 field teams to the area to determine conditions and make leaflet and loudspeaker appeals.'

+ 10th PSYOP Battalion - IV CTZ Can Tho to Angkar (1968):

'The 7th PSYOP Group was constituted 19 August 1965 in the regular Army and activated 20 October 1965 and assigned to the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), 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 14th Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Battalion was reorganized from the 14th Psychological Operations Battalion in 1954, headquartered at Ft. Shafter Hawaii. This unit was reorganized to the 14th PSYWAR Battalion in 1958. The 14th PSYWAR Battalion became the 14th PSYOP Battalion in 1965. The Battalion had detachments in Okinawa, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. The 7th PSYOP Group was reorganized from the 14th PSYWAR Battalion in Oct 1965. Field Support Detachments from the old 14th PSYWAR Battalion were in Vietnam as early as May 1965. A 24 man team of 7 officers and 17 enlisted were stationed at Train Compound just outside of Bien Hoa Air Base. The team was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The team had audio-visual vans equipped with power converters to run the movie projectors, slide projectors and sound systems.It also had a printing facility to publish a newsletter in Vietnamese and print propaganda leaflets. In addition, they made propaganda tapes to be played by from loudspeakers.

PFC William Boyle tells us a little about his activities in 1965 in those confusing times as the U. S. Army Broadcasting and Visual Activity unit was shut down and the 14th PSYWAR Battalion became the 7th PSYOP Group:

"I never heard of either the 14th Battalion or the 7th Group. We were US Army B&VA Pacific. I rarely saw a set of orders and just went where they sent me. We were sent to Bien Hoa from Okinawa in June of 1965. We needed interpreters, but the 173rd Airborne would not allow any Vietnamese nationals, including their army, inside their perimeter, so we were sent to live in a compound used by several small units over by the river. We changed patches several times: We went in wearing the 173 patch, were transferred to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), then to United States Army, Vietnam (USARV), and ended up with the Special Forces. I earned flight pay most months on loudspeaker operations and leaflet drops from C-47's (we took turns so everyone had a chance), as well as numerous chopper flights and a few trips in the De Havilland U1 Otter. We did printing, civic action operations, loudspeaker missions and dropped “Chieu Hoi” (Open Arms) leaflets from C-47 aircraft."

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, the Thailand Detachment and the Vietnam Detachment. The Japan detachment printed a magazine for Vietnam 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. 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. 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. By 1968 the 7th Group Detachment produced about 800,000,000 leaflets a month. 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.



SP4 William Boyle was a member of the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa. He said:

"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)."

Colonel Harold F. Bentz, Jr. commanded the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa from 30 November 1968 to 16 May 1972. He added:

"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. 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 and the Voice of the United Nations Command Certificate of Appreciation for their support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam.'

+ 7th PSYOP Group Okinawa - The 14th PSYOP Battalion (1965-1972):

typehost's picture


'In the fall of 2000, twenty-five years after the end of the war in Indochina, Bill Clinton became the first US president since Richard Nixon to visit Vietnam. While media coverage of the trip was dominated by talk of some two thousand US soldiers still classified as missing in action, a small act of great historical importance went almost unnoticed. As a humanitarian gesture, Clinton released extensive Air Force data on all American bombings of Indochina between 1964 and 1975. Recorded using a groundbreaking ibm-designed system, the database provided extensive information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Clinton’s gift was intended to assist in the search for unexploded ordnance left behind during the carpet bombing of the region. Littering the countryside, often submerged under farmland, this ordnance remains a significant humanitarian concern. It has maimed and killed farmers, and rendered valuable land all but unusable.

"To put 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II. Cambodia may be the most heavily bombed country in history. The motives that lead locals to help insurgencies do not fit into strategic rationales. Those whose lives have been ruined don’t care about geopolitics; they tend to blame the attackers."

Development and demining organizations have put the Air Force data to good use over the past six years, but have done so without noting its full implications, which turn out to be staggering. The still-incomplete database (it has several “dark” periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed—not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson. The impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’état in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide. The data demonstrates that the way a country chooses to exit a conflict can have disastrous consequences. It therefore speaks to contemporary warfare as well, including US operations in Iraq. Despite many differences, a critical similarity links the war in Iraq with the Cambodian conflict: an increasing reliance on air power to battle a hetero­geneous, volatile insurgency.

"We heard a terrifying noise which shook the ground; it was as if the earth trembled, rose up and opened beneath our feet. Enormous explosions lit up the sky like huge bolts of lightning; it was the American B-52s." —Cambodian bombing survivor On December 9, 1970.

US President Richard Nixon telephoned his national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to discuss the on­going bombing of Cambodia. This sideshow to the war in Vietnam, begun in 1965 under the Johnson administration, had already seen 475,515 tons of ordnance dropped on Cambodia, which had been a neutral kingdom until nine months before the phone call, when pro-US General Lon Nol seized power.The first intense series of bombings, the Menu campaign on targets in Cambodia’s border areas—labelled Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Dinner, Dessert, and Snack by American commanders—had concluded in May, shortly after the coup. Nixon was facing growing congressional opposition to his Indochina policy. A joint US–South Vietnam ground invasion of Cambodia in May and June of 1970 had failed to root out Vietnamese Communists, and Nixon now wanted to covertly escalate the air attacks, which were aimed at destroying the mobile headquarters of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (vc/nva) in the Cambodian jungle. After telling Kissinger that the US Air Force was being unimaginative, Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country:

“They have got to go in there and I mean really go in...I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”

Kissinger knew that this order ignored Nixon’s promise to Congress that US planes would remain within thirty kilometres of the Vietnamese border, his own assurances to the public that bombing would not take place within a kilometre of any village, and military assessments stating that air strikes were like poking a beehive with a stick. He responded hesitantly:

“The problem is, Mr. President, the Air Force is designed to fight an air battle against the Soviet Union. They are not designed for this fact, they are not designed for any war we are likely to have to fight.”

Five minutes after his conversation with Nixon ended, Kissinger called Gen­eral Alexander Haig to relay the new orders from the president:

“He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?”

The response from Haig, barely audible on tape, sounds like laughter.


Nixon Cambodia

The US bombing of Cambodia remains a divisive and iconic topic. It was a mobilizing issue for the antiwar movement and is still cited regularly as an example of American war crimes. Writers such as Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and William Shawcross emerged as influential political voices after condemning the bombing and the foreign policy it symbolized. In the years since the Vietnam War, something of a consensus has emerged on the extent of US involvement in Cambodia. The details are controversial, but the narrative begins on March 18, 1969, when the United States launched the Menu campaign. The joint US– South Vietnam ground offensive followed. For the next three years, the United States continued with air strikes under Nixon’s orders, hitting deep inside Cambodia’s borders, first to root out the vc/nva and later to protect the Lon Nol regime from growing numbers of Cambodian Communist forces. Congress cut funding for the war and imposed an end to the bombing on August 15, 1973, amid calls for Nixon’s impeachment for his deceit in escalating the campaign. Thanks to the database, we now know that the US bombardment started three-and-a-half years earlier, in 1965, under the Johnson administration.

What happened in 1969 was not the start of bombings in Cambodia but the escalation into carpet bombing. From 1965 to 1968, 2,565 sorties took place over Cambodia, with 214 tons of bombs dropped. These early strikes were likely tactical, designed to support the nearly two thousand secret ground incursions conducted by the cia and US Special Forces during that period. B-52s—longrange bombers capable of carrying very heavy loads—were not deployed, whether out of concern for Cambodian lives or the country’s neutrality, or because carpet bombing was believed to be of limited strategic value. Nixon decided on a different course, and beginning in 1969 the Air Force deployed B-52s over Cambodia. The new rationale for the bombings was that they would keep enemy forces at bay long enough to allow the United States to withdraw from Vietnam. Former US General Theodore Mataxis depicted the move as “a holding action.... The troika’s going down the road and the wolves are closing in, and so you throw them something off and let them chew it.” The result was that Cambodians essentially became cannon fodder to protect American lives.

The last phase of the bombing, from February to August 1973, was designed to stop the Khmer Rouge’s advance on the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The United States, fearing that the first Southeast Asian domino was about to fall, began a massive escalation of the air war—an unprecedented B-52 bombardment that focused on the heavily populated area around Phnom Penh but left few regions of the country untouched. The extent of this bombardment has only now come to light. The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history. Asingle B-52d “Big Belly” payload consists of up to 108 225-kilogram or 42 340-kilogram bombs, which are dropped on a target area of approximately 500 by 1,500 metres. In many cases, Cambodian villages were hit with dozens of payloads over the course of several hours. The result was near-total destruction. One US official stated at the time,

“We had been told, as had everybody... that those carpetbombing attacks by B-52s were totally devastating, that nothing could survive.”

Previously, it was estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 Cambodian civilians were killed by the bombing. Given the fivefold increase in tonnage revealed by the database, the number of casualties is surely higher. The Cambodian bombing campaign had two unintended side effects that ultimately combined to produce the very domino effect that the Vietnam War was supposed to prevent. First, the bombing forced the Vietnamese Communists deeper and deeper into Cambodia, bringing them into greater contact with Khmer Rouge insurgents. Second, the bombs drove ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, a group that seemed initially to have slim prospects of revolutionary success. Pol Pot himself described the Khmer Rouge during that period as

“fewer than five thousand poorly armed guerrillas . . . scattered across the Cambodian landscape, uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty, and leaders.”

Years after the war ended, journalist Bruce Palling asked Chhit Do, a former Khmer Rouge officer, if his forces had used the bombing as anti-American propaganda. Chhit replied:

"Every time after there had been bombing, they would take the people to see the craters, to see how big and deep the craters were, to see how the earth had been gouged out and scorched. . . . The ordinary people sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told. It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them.... Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge."

The Nixon administration knew that the Khmer Rouge was winning over peasants. The cia’s Directorate of Operations, after investigations south of Phnom Penh, reported in May 1973 that the Communists were “using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda.” But this does not seem to have registered as a primary strategic concern. The Nixon administration kept the air war secret for so long that debate over its impact came far too late. It wasn’t until 1973 that Congress, angered by the destruction the campaign had caused and the systematic deception that had masked it, legislated a halt to the bombing of Cambodia. By then, the damage was already done. Having grown to more than two hundred thousand troops and militia forces by 1973, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh two years later. They went on to subject Cambodia to a Maoist agrarian revolution and a genocide in which 1.7 million people perished.

The Nixon Doctrine relied on the notion that the United States could supply an allied regime with the resources needed to withstand internal or external challenges while the US withdrew its ground troops or, in some cases, simply remained at arm’s length. In Vietnam, this meant building up the ground-fighting capability of South Vietnamese forces while American units slowly disengaged. In Cambodia, Washington gave military aid to prop up Lon Nol’s regime from 1970 to 1975 while the US Air Force conducted its massive aerial bombardment. US policy in Iraq may yet undergo a similar shift. Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker in December 2005 that a key element of any drawdown of American troops will be their replacement with air power.

“We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting—Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of air power,” said Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Critics argue that a shift to air power will cause even greater numbers of civilian casualties, which in turn will benefit the insurgency in Iraq. Andrew Brookes, the former director of air power studies at the Royal Air Force’s advanced staff college, told Hersh, “Don’t believe that air power is a solution to the problems inside Iraq at all. Replacing boots on the ground with air power didn’t work in Vietnam, did it?”

It’s true that air strikes are generally more accurate now than they were during the war in Indochina, so in theory, at least, unidentified targets should be hit less frequently and civilian casualties should be lower. Nonetheless, civilian deaths have been the norm during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, as they were during the bombing of Lebanon by Israeli forces over the summer. As in Cambodia, insurgencies are the likely beneficiaries. To cite one example, on January 13 of this year an aerial strike by a US Predator drone on a village in a border area of Pakistan killed eighteen civilians, including five women and five children. The deaths undermined the positive sentiments created by the billions of dollars in aid that had flowed into that part of Pakistan after the massive earthquake months earlier. The question remains: is bombing worth the strategic risk?

If the Cambodian experience teaches us anything, it is that miscalculation of the consequences of civilian casualties stems partly from a failure to understand how insurgencies thrive. The motives that lead locals to help such movements don’t fit into strategic rationales like the ones set forth by Kissinger and Nixon. Those whose lives have been ruined don’t care about the geopolitics behind bomb attacks; they tend to blame the attackers. The failure of the American campaign in Cambodia lay not only in the civilian death toll during the unprecedented bombing, but also in its aftermath, when the Khmer Rouge regime rose up from the bomb craters, with tragic results. The dynamics in Iraq could be similar.'

Taylor Owen is a doctoral candidate and Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford. In 2004, he was a visiting fellow in the Yale Genocide Studies Program. Ben Kiernan is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of How Pol Pot Came to Power and The Pol Pot Regime.

+ "Bombs Over Cambodia" - the walrus (2006):


Air America

'So what exactly was Air America, and what were they doing in Laos? To begin to answer these questions, we must first go back to 1950, when the CIA decided that it needed its own proprietary airline to conduct covert operations in the Asian theater. The CIA formed the Pacific Corporation, which in August of 1950 purchased Civil Air Transport (CAT) for a little less than one million dollars. The CIA would go on to use CAT and its civilian pilots for a host of missions throughout Asia, including flying support missions during the Korean War, and supplying the French troops at Dien Bien Phu. In 1959, CAT changed its name to Air America. The CIA continued to use its air proprietary for a wide variety of missions throughout the globe. Air America pilots flew operations in Tibet, supplying anti-communist guerillas in the harrowing conditions of the Himalayas. They trained Cuban pilots for and participated in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. They flew thousands of support missions throughout Southeast Asia: in North and South Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. By the early 1960’s, Laos had become the main hub of Air America activity. But what was so special about this tiny, landlocked Southeast Asian country? Since the end of World War II, the French had been trying to regain control of their former colony, French Indochina, which consisted of modern day Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos... Just as the fighting in Vietnam was interconnected with the conflict in Laos, so it was with the CIA and Air America. The CIA relied heavily on Air America in its attempt to keep Laos from being taken over by communist forces. Laos, a mountainous and somewhat primitive country, lacked significant infrastructure, and the CIA had to rely on Air America for communication, transportation, and supply. While Air America is often described as the “CIA’s secret airline,” one could argue that in war-torn Laos, Air America often acted more as the CIA’s paramilitary air force rather than as a standard airline. Air America would take on many of the tasks that military pilots would be flying across the border in Vietnam, such as search and rescue, troop transport, medevac, reconnaissance, and even combat missions. Without Air America, the CIA’s secret war in Laos would have been impossible. Air America, Laos, and the Vietnam War, were significantly and inextricably linked. When the war in Vietnam came to an end, so did Air America. It is interesting to note that the quintessential image of the end of the Vietnam War, the picture of what many people thought to be a U.S. Army helicopter on top of the Embassy in Saigon, was actually an Air America helicopter on top of the Pittman building, a ten story apartment building in Saigon. Air America’s role in the Second Indochina War had been, and would long remain, unknown and forgotten... The U.S. military was not the only entity that would rely heavily on CAT during the war. The experience of the Korean War showed the CIA that its recently purchased air proprietary proved quite useful in covert operations. The CIA utilized CAT in a series of covert operations including guerilla insertions and surveillance in China. After Korea, the CIA used CAT in operations in Indonesia, where the CIA made an unsuccessful attempt at unseating the Sukarno government. CAT would also be used to supply anti-communist forces fighting in the mountainous terrain of Tibet. For the CIA, the desirability of CAT lay not only in its reliable transport capabilities, but also in its plausible deniability. If a CAT plane was shot down and the pilot killed or captured, the pilot was a civilian with no direct connection to the U.S. government. One region in Asia of increasing concern to the CIA and the U.S. government was French Indochina, which consisted of what we know today as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos... After this first step, U.S. aid to the Hmong increased, as did the effort to train the Hmong guerillas, and as a result the Hmong army quickly grew. But as the size of the army increased, so did the problem of maintaining the Hmong population. In July of 1961 Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, the Pentagon expert on guerilla warfare, noted in a memorandum to President Kennedy’s military advisor that “About 9,000 Meo [Hmong] tribesmen have been equipped for guerilla operations, which they are now conducting with considerable effectiveness in Communist dominated territory in Laos… As Meo [Hmong] villages are over-run by Communist forces and as men leave food-raising duties to serve as guerillas, a problem is growing over the care and feeding of non-combat Meos [Hmong].” He goes on to note that the CIA had begun to relieve the problem by delivering rice and clothing, by using “CIA paramilitary… aerial resupply.”28 This was of course referring to Air America. The Kennedy administration authorized a resumption of Air America arms supply flights in support of the Hmong, and it also authorized the CIA to continue its expansion of the Hmong program. By the end of 1963, some 20,000 Hmong had been armed and a CIA/Hmong headquarters had been set up in Long Tieng, which was known to Air America pilots as LS-20A. '

+ "AIR AMERICA AND THE WAR IN LAOS, 1959-1974" - J. Michael Ferguson (2010):

'The clandestine bombing campaign over Laos and Cambodia conducted by the United States during the Vietnam War was arguably one of the biggest tragedies of the second half of the 20th Century. The relentless bombing missions took a terrible toll on both countries regarding life, property and resources, and many were staged from air bases on Thai soil. The bombing started in Laos in 1964 under President Lyndon Johnson, unauthorised and unbeknownst to the US Congress. In 1969, at the height of a war that was becoming increasingly unpopular at home, President Richard Nixon greatly expanded the scale and included Cambodia in the campaign. Their rationale was that it was needed to destroy communist supply routes to Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran through Laos and Cambodia. Bombing targets were not confined to the course of the trail, however. They were spread widely across both countries in an unsuccessful attempt to shore up friendly governments against communist insurgencies mounted by the Pathet Lao in Laos and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Between 1964 and 1973, US aircraft flew missions over virtually every corner of Laos. The US never declared war on Laos, but it became the most heavily bombed country in history. Out of 2,858 days from 1964 to 1974, US planes flew bombing missions over Laos on 2,290 days. About 2.5 million tons of bombs, more than what the US Air Force (USAF) unloaded on Germany and Japan combined during World War II, were dropped on Laos. A UN report calls Laos the most bombed country on the planet per capita, with .84 tons of explosives dropped per person from 1965 to 1974. According to an article published by The Irish Times on May 13 of this year, the US conducted 580,344 bombing missions over Laos. It’s estimated that adjusting for inflation, the cost of this prolonged shock and awe campaign would be US$3.1 billion. A total of around two million tons of ordnance was dropped, including around 270 million cluster munition bomblets. Of these, around 80 million didn’t detonate upon impact and still pose a serious threat to the civilian population.

Packed with the dozens or hundreds of bomblets per canister, cluster bombs are designed to explode in mid-air, scattering small explosives across a radius of up to several hundred yards. About a third of Laos is contaminated with unexploded ordnance today. The Irish Times says that 50,000 Laotians were killed during the nine years of bombing and 20,000 have been killed or maimed since the bombing ended in 1973, with 300 casualties reported every year due to unexploded ordnance. Curious children make up about 40 percent of the victims. Some sources give even higher estimates of human carnage. The Landmine and Clustering Munition Monitor estimated in 2013 that cluster munitions and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) were responsible for 50,000 casualties. Of these, about 29,000 people were killed and 21,000 injured. UXO now silently lingers in rice fields, roadways, villages and countryside, hampering the country’s development and ready to claim more victims.

The massive bombing campaign over Laos was not the work of the USAF alone. It was in fact led by the CIA. An unknown, but significant, a number of the 580,344 bombing missions were carried out by an airline known as ‘Air America’ which was wholly owned by the CIA. The aircraft used by the CIA in the secret war included transports, STOL (short take-off and landing) planes and helicopters. CIA and US Special Forces units were also on the ground in Laos during the secret war.

On March 18, 1969, USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52 bombers began carpet bombing Cambodia on the order of President Nixon. The overall covert operation was code-named ‘Operation Menu’, with various phases named ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Dinner’, ‘Snack’, ‘Supper’ and ‘Dessert’. President Nixon ordered the campaign without consulting Congress and even kept it secret from top military officials. Five members of Congress were informed several months after the start of Operation Menu, but it was kept secret from the American people until The New York Times broke the story in May 1969. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s National Security Adviser, was reportedly outraged over the leaked information in the story and ordered the FBI to wiretap the phones of top White House aides and reporters to find the source. More reports of the secret bombing campaign surfaced in the press and records of Congressional proceedings, but it was not until 2000 that official the USAF records of US bombing activity over Indochina from 1964 to 1973 were declassified by President Bill Clinton. Some sources say that during the first phase of the bombings lasting until April 1970, ‘Operation Breakfast’, the SAC conducted 3,630 sorties and dropped 110,000 tons of bombs and that in the entire four-year campaign the US dropped about 540,000 tons of bombs. In the book Bombs over Cambodia, historians Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen state that, based on their analysis of the declassified documents, 2,756,941 tons of ordnance was dropped during Operation Menu, more than the US dropped on Japan during World War II.

The authors also say that US planes flew 230,516 sorties over 113,716 sites. Estimates of casualties vary widely as well, but it is believed that somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 civilians died in the bombing and two million became homeless. Some sources say that hundreds of thousands more Cambodians died from the effects of displacement, illness or starvation as a direct result of the bombings. The carpet bombing of Cambodia lasted until August 1973. It devastated the countryside and the chaos and upheaval it unleashed played a big part in the installation of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians through executions, forced labour and starvation. According to intelligence gathered by the CIA, US bombing increased the popularity of the Khmer Rouge and gave them a major propaganda weapon to use on their way to victory in 1975. The regime was ousted by Vietnamese forces in 1979.

From 1961 to 1975 the Thai government allowed the USAF to deploy combat aircraft at several major Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) bases. Missions were flown mainly out of the Don Muang, Korat, Nakhon Phanom, Takhli, Ubon, Udon and U-tapao bases. Thailand was a member of the now defunct Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), formed in September 1954 under the direction of US President Dwight Eisenhower as an organisation for collective defence, with the express purpose of containing communist aggression in Southeast Asia. SEATO headquarters were in Bangkok, and the membership also included Australia, Bangladesh, France, New Zealand, Philippines, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the United States. The alliance was formally dissolved in June 1977.

On March 10, 1967, the Bangkok Post broke a story that said US officials had confirmed that American warplanes were using Thai bases to launch bombing raids on North Vietnam. Until then this had been kept the secret with some difficulty. In fact, about 75% of America’s aerial bombardment of Vietnam was staged from Thailand, where 35,000 US military personnel were stationed. The Bangkok Post reported on January 22, 1968, that US planes lifting off from bases in Thailand were bombing portions of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. The Thai Prime Minister, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, was quoted as saying the raids were ‘for the defence of our country’. It was the first official admission that the US was using Thai bases and that Laos was being bombed.

The PM also said that US-supplied Hawk missiles had arrived ‘to form part of the defence of Bangkok’ against air raids launched from ‘communist-infested areas by communist planes’. The Thai government believed Pathet Lao-backed hill tribes were infiltrating the country in preparation for the communist takeover of Thailand. The fear that the country would be overrun by communists was widespread in the general population as well, and many people thought US military power was the only way to stop it. This goes a long way toward explaining why the Thai government was willing to allow the US to use Thai soil for military operations against North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Making the situation even more complicated and worrisome, from 1965 on the Thai government was fighting a guerrilla war with insurgents belonging mainly to the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT). The CPT was active in north eastern, northern and later in southern Thai provinces. American forces were not involved in fighting against the CPT. After Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda signed a declaration of amnesty in April 1980, the insurgency declined dramatically and came to a complete end in 1983. A British expat who has lived in Thailand since the 1960s recalled standing with other onlookers along a road opposite U-tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield near Sattahip and watching B-52 Stratofortress bombers taking off on bombing raids. “Even after 50 years, I can still vividly remember these giant planes accelerating down the runway and slowly getting airborne. Sometimes it appeared like they wouldn’t make it off the ground, they were lifting so slowly. Obviously, the planes were fully loaded with bombs.

“At night the Americans celebrated at a couple of entertainment areas close to U-tapao called Newlands and Kilo Sip (Kilometre 10). Swan Lake Hotel was also popular with the Americans and busy all night. I am not sure if the pilots and other flight crew were allowed, but the ground staff was there,” recalls the expat. The Nixon administration tried to prohibit the press from observing the secret war by denying media access on bombing raids outside South Vietnam. Likewise, unsympathetic journalists were kept off RTAF bases and not permitted access to American pilots.

President Nixon reportedly authorized the bombing of Cambodia on his watch at the urging of National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. They both believed it was vital to stopping the flow of communist troops and supplies into Vietnam and ending the war as quickly as possible. The North Vietnamese proved to be far more resilient than they reckoned, but the secret war probably did help bring the Vietnam War to an earlier close. Leaked news of the bombing sparked intensified anti-war protests in the spring of 1970. On May 4 students in the US protesting the bombing of Cambodia clashed with Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus. After Guardsmen fired into the crowd, killing four students, the already widespread anti-war sentiment in the US became unstoppable. Faced with that reality, President Nixon signed the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 and essentially handed off South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese.'



Air America

'Madriver operations 1968-73 During the 1968-73 period, the original Madriver contract had been transformed into contract no. F62531-67-0028 for Fiscal Years 68, 69, and 70 on 1 July 67, but as before, this contract covered flying services to be provided by an ever growing number of Udorn-based UH-34Ds plus the operation of one C-47 out of Bangkok, apparently a courier aircraft. On 1 July 70, that contract was followed by contract no. F04606-71-C-0002 that covered the Udorn-based UH-34Ds, the Bangkok-based C-47 plus a Udorn-based Volpar, apparently another courier aircraft.2 That contract is much more complex, as it does not only cover flying services to be performed by the UH-34Ds and the 2 transport planes, but also drop-in maintenance of Raven O-1 and U-17 aircraft, crash / battle damage repair to DEPCHIEFmanaged T-28s, support services to the Khmer Air Force and a lot of other operation and maintenance services...

Since 1969, Thai volunteer troops, and between 1970 and 1974 even several battalions of Thai volunteers, called project Unity, served in Laos. In June 70, Bangkok had declared that it would send Thai volunteers into the new Khmer Republic, but when it became clear that Phnom Penh did not have the money to feed them, the hundreds of Thai volunteers who had already been trained at the Pentagon’s expense were sent to Laos. “More than a battalion or even a regiment, the envisioned force was to total one artillery battalion and nine infantry battalions. Each infantry battalion would consist of 22 cadre and 33 medical personnel seconded from the RTA, plus 495 Thai volunteers with prior military service. Volunteers would serve a one-year tour in Laos. […] The Pentagon was to foot the entire bill – including the provision of uniforms and equipment from U.S. military stocks – while the CIA would administer the program in the field.” Initially, two battalions were trained at Prachinburi (T31), and both entered Laos on 15 December 70. They were then lifted to Houei Sai (LS-284), 19 kilometers northeast of Paksong, where they successfully repulsed a North Vietnamese sapper attack in the early morning of 8 January 71. Also in early 1971, the Unity training center moved from Prachinburi (T-31) to more spacious facilities east of Kanchanaburi (T706), which had a four-battalion capacity. Here, a total of 44 men from the US Special Forces served as trainers. Battalion instruction was standardized at 3 weeks for cadre and 12 weeks of basic training for the remainder of troops. Unlike the Royal Thai Army men of Task Force Vang Pao, “these Unity battalions from the start were intended for mobile operations, not simply static defense.”77 In the spring of 1971, the first Unity artillery battalion (BA 635) arrived at Long Tieng: “Trained at the RTA Artillery Center at Kokethiem, BA 635 and all subsequent Unity artillery battalions contained 20 officers seconded from the RTA and 380 volunteers. Each battalion was allotted a 105mm and 15mm howitzer battery of four tubes apiece with supporting Fire Direction Centers for each; a survey unit; a forward observer team; and a security company of four rifle platoons.” Since October 1971, Unity volunteer battalions were trained at Nam Phong (T-712). In June 72, the Unity program began to accept volunteers without prior military service. In that way, Unity increased from 10,028 men in June 72 to 21,413 men in September 72.80 But from October 72 onwards, US Special Forces training teams began downscaling and returning to Okinawa.

Military Region 4 practically had 3 thirds: The eastern third was dominated by the North Vietnamese, the western third with its CIA center at Pakse was held by the Royal Lao Government, and the middle part was contested by both sides. In the pro-western third, there were two important centers: PS-22 (Ban La Tee, = LS-190), home of a Guerrilla Battalion and an important avgas station for Air America, CASI, the Ravens and several other USAF operations, and PS-38, home of another Guerrilla Battalion and several big guns that was to become a regional guerrilla training center.138 Heavy bombing continued all the time in the south, as Operation Good Luck, launched on 17 February 1970, kept B-52s busy bombing targets in Laos until 20 April 72, 139 so that in late 1970 and early 1971, some 1,000 sorties a month were flown by B-52s over southern Laos and northern Cambodia.140 “The White House intensified the pressure after the change of government in Cambodia in March 1970. The military coup in Phnom Penh severed the supply line that fed Chinese communist war materiel from the port of Sihanoukville (Kompong Som), on the Gulf of Thailand, to the sanctuaries along the border with South Vietnam. In so doing, it made the Corridor the only channel for the long-scale movement of supplies to NVA and Viet Cong forces in the south. Commando raider operations, originally launched essentially to shake the enemy’s confidence in the security of the trail network, were now supposed to contribute to its interdiction. […] After the fall of Prince Sihanouk, the CIA discovered that, from December 1966 to April 1969, the Chinese had delivered over 21,000 tons of ordnance through the port of Sihanoukville, enough light weapons to equip 585 battalions and enough crew-served weapons for 240 battalions.” So, Attopeu, which was very close to the Sihanouk Trail, i.e. to the Communists’ resupply line leading to the port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, was attacked in early April 70 and fell to the Communists on 29 or 30 April 70, followed in mid-May by other pro-western sites on the Bolovens like PS-42, PS-23 and even PS-38.

North Vietnamese traffic on the Trail were especially high after Lon Nol had taken power in Cambodia, because this meant that the Sihanoukville-pipeline was in jeopardy. The next Communist target was Saravane, also located close to the Trail. When the North Vietnamese built up pressure, an evacuation of 2000-plus dependents began on 10 May, and soon after, the administrative control of Saravane province was transferred from Saravane (L-44) to Khong Sedone (LS-289). Saravane fell on 9 June 70, followed by Ban Khok Mai (LS-171) on 16 June, by the TACAN site on Phou Kate on 18 June, and by PS-39 on 22 June 70. Neither of these towns or outposts had been under Pathet Lao control in 1962. North Vietnam apparently struck them as part of an effort to expand their infiltration routes into northern Cambodia in order to support North Vietnamese jungle sanctuaries in Cambodia located close to the border to South Vietnam. While Attopeu was conceded to the enemy, Royal Lao Government troops launched a disastrous counteroffensive to retake Saravane in June 70, in order to prevent North Vietnam from annexing the south of Laos. The Lao troops were cut off from their supplies, and their reinforcements were ambushed.145 So at Vientiane, CIA Chief of Station Larry Devlin opened “Phase I of the South Laos Interdiction Program” on 29 August 70, which committed 5,700 irregulars to several operations against the Trail.146 Among them was the successful attempt to retake PS-26 called Operation Honorable Dragon. This was launched by Pakse’s CIA Unit on 31 August and ended with the capture of PS-26 on 25 September – only to be taken again by the Communists on 21 November 70; PS-38, retaken by irregulars on 23 May, was definitely lost on 27 November 70, while PS-22 (Ban La Tee, = LS-190) at that time still held on...

In the fall of 1970, the Lon Nol-government at Phnom Penh agreed to plans for a CIA-managed, Department of Defense-funded project in Laos named Copper whose purpose was to interdict the Communist trails inside Laos leading down to Cambodia, using Cambodian troops to be trained in southern Laos, i.e. at PS-18 (Phou Lat Seua) in MR 4. So, in September 70, 2 raw battalions of recruits were raised at Phnom Penh, flown to Pakse (L-11) in Air America C-123s and then shipped up the Mekong river to PS-18. By year’s end, both battalions graduated at PS-18, and the first of them was shipped to Pakse, then flown by Air America C-123s to PS-22, from where USAF CH-53C Knives lifted them to PS-43, from where – a week later – they were shuttled 20 kilometers east, from where they took PS-38 without resistance. Still in January 71, the second battalion from PS-18 relieved the first one at PS-38, but shortly thereafter, 80 Cambodians were killed at PS-38 during a North Vietnamese night attack; the following day, all remaining Cambodian troops walked overland to Paksong (L-05), from where they were lifted back to PS-18. Meanwhile, the first battalion was lifted back to Phnom Penh for a brief rest and deserted, and the mutiny of a third battalion, whose training at PS-18 had just begun, practically ended Project Copper in late January 71. A second wave of Copper was begun in February 71, and again, Air America C123s flew the Cambodian recruits from Phnom Penh to Pakse (L-11), from where some were helilifted to PS-23, while others retook PS-43 and PS-38, until all Cambodian troops were called back to Phnom Penh in May 71.

The early months of 1971 were determined by what was to become a disaster for the pro-Western forces: operation Lam Son 719. In late December 1970, the US Congress had passed the Cooper-Church Amendment that forbade US military forces to operate “on the ground inside Cambodia or Laos”. So it was the South Vietnamese military who had to do the job. On 8 February 1971, some 16,000 South Vietnamese troops, supported by US Army and USMC AH-1G Cobra gunships, US Army CH-54 Skycrane, CH-47 Chinook and UH-1H transport helicopters, and USAF AC-130A “Spectre” and AC-130E “Surprise Package” gunships, had crossed the border into Laos to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail and interdict the flow of supplies from the North. The thrust was directed against that portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that was situated in the area of the Laotian town of Tchepone. But in spite of more than 8,000 US tactical air strikes also flown by USAF B-52s and F-4s, by USN A-4s and USMC aircraft against the Tchepone area, the South Vietnamese troops were forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal from Laos in March 71, when 6 USAF, 1 USN, 1 USMC aircraft and no fewer than 107 US Army helicopters had been lost in operation Lam Son 719. Immediately after Lam Son 719, Communist activity on the Trail was very high, and in March 71, the first surface-to-air missile (SAM) site was identified in Laos just west of the Ban Karai Pass.

In the south of the Laotian Military Region 3, the CIA’s Savannakhet unit began Operation Silver Buckle on 5 January 71, aimed to interdict Route 92, an important portion of the Trail. So Air America helicopters transported Groupement Mobile 30 to Phou Doutuy, from where 2 battalions were to attack the Trail at 2 points, even supported by Saigon’s MACV-SOG. Evidently, Silver Buckle’s true purpose was to divert North Vietnam’s attention from Lam Son 719 and to stop North Vietnamese reinforcements on Route 92. But North Vietnam was well prepared, and both battalions were crushed and forced to flee, ending Silver Buckle in late February 71. On 16 February 71, another diversion for Lam Son 719 was launched by Savannakhet Unit, Operation Desert Rat, aimed to halt traffic along Routes 23 and 238 and then to seize Communist-held Moung Phine (LS-300). While the interdiction worked until mid-March, the pro-western troops were called back to Moung Phalane in late March 71, when, after the end of Lam Son 719, the North Vietnamese could concentrate all their forces against Desert Rat. Moung Phalane, however, had been taken by the Communists in January 71 and was still in Communist hands in September, when the RLG front line stood at Dong Hene (LS-54) east of Seno.

But this was not the only area in southern Laos where things went bad. In 1971, heavy fighting also took place for control of the strategic Bolovens Plateau (MR 4), where the CIA recruited, trained, and paid indigenous personnel organized into Special Guerrilla Units. On 8 March 71, a North Vietnamese blitz overran PS-22 (Ban La Tee, = LS-190) and nearby outposts at PS-3, PS-4, and Ban Nam Tieng (LS-165), bringing the east-central rim of the Bolovens into Communist hands. Next were Paksong (L-05) on 15 May and Houei Kong (L56) on 19 May 71. Having lost all Lao Government outposts on the Bolovens, MR 4 commander General Phasouk declared Ban Gnik west of Paksong the front line and began mobilizing reinforcements. Particularly effective was the RLAF, with Pakse’s 8 available T28s flying 88 sorties on 11 June 71, and a little bit later, the North Vietnamese advance was stopped. Thai irregulars bolstered the Lao forces in the south, and once again, Air America provided the essential air transport for these forces, while USAF B-52s battered the area with air strikes. During the second half of 1971, plans were made to retake Saravane and Paksong (operation Sayasila). In the morning of 28 July 71, an armada of 13 USAF CH-3 and CH-53 Knives ferried some 1,300 men of GM 31 to the outskirts of Saravane (L-44). “On 11 September 1971, GM 32’s four battalions launched a leapfrog operation from helicopter landing zones behind enemy lines east of Paksong. The enemy retreated into Paksong, which still harbored some civilians and where the rules of engagement precluded airstrikes.” Paksong (L-05) was only taken on 14 September 71, and this time, air transportation was mostly made by Air America aircraft. Operation Sayasila was officially terminated on 30 September 71. The next plan was to capture Thateng (LS-210): On 19 November 71, Air America C-123Ks flew 1,150 troops from the training center at Nong Saphong north of Savannakhet (MR 3) to Saravane (MR 4). Two days later, USAF CH-3s and CH-53s flew them to a landing zone north of Ban Phone, and on 26 November 71, Thateng was finally captured. But these gains were short-lived: On 6 December, Saravane fell to the Communists, and so, by the end of the year, especially after the capture of Paksong, 25 miles east of Pakse, on 28 December 1971, the North Vietnamese held the upper hand: They firmly controlled the entire Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In the northern parts of Laos, the rainy summer months of 1971 saw, for the first time since 1954, a threat to Luang Prabang (L-54) in MR 1, which had always been spared from serious ground attack. To defend the royal capital, Operation Xieng Dong began on 7 April 71 with an Air America infiltration of 2 battalions into the mountains 17 kilometers east of Luang Prabang. Slowly, the North Vietnamese were pushed back, and in June 71, the threat to Luang Prabang was gone.160 However, further west in MR 1, the threat of the Chinese Road continued since 1969: During the first week of January 70, two Thai-piloted RLAF T-28s from Vientiane dropped their bombs low over Route 46, destroying 15 trucks. Pushed by the US Government, Souvanna Phouma finally publicly declared that he was against the Chinese Road, and so, the US agreed to operation Snake Eyes, which was to be launched against the Chinese Road only by July 70, i.e. after a massive cross-border sweep of US and South Vietnamese troops into Cambodia. But when, as a consequence of these attacks, anti-war protests in the US became too loud, the US Government, looking to minimize any other controversy in SEA, canceled operations against the Chinese Road. So unopposed by any US military support to the Laotians, the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese swept away all paramilitary forces west of Route 46, so that in early 1970, the entire Nam Beng valley down to the Mekong was under Communist control; in March 70, Pathet Lao troops even reached the Thai border.161 By April 1971, Route 46 had been expanded into an all-weather, two-lane asphalt strip, guarded by some 400 antiaircraft guns and reaching as far south as Moung Houn.

On 15 June 71, three new Unity battalions arrived at Xieng Lom (LS-69), some 60 kilometers southwest of Pak Beng, whose purpose was to recapture the Lao Government outposts west of the Mekong lost the year before and to stop the Chinese, should they try to cross the Mekong and to enter Thailand. When these Unity troops lifted two howitzers to a pair of newly established mountaintop outposts on the southern bank of the Mekong opposite Pak Beng, Communist forces crossed the river and laid siege to the 2 positions. On 19 March 72, Air America flew a two-ship medevac mission to the Unity sites. Damaged by small-arms fire, UH-34D H-73 was forced to ditch in the jungle 12 kilometers short of Xieng Lom. Supported by elements of the Unity troops, Air America could finally recover H-73 on 6 April 72.163 When in June 72, 80 men of the same Unity battalion were surrounded near Ban Houei Lao (LS-147), some 45 kilometers northwest of Xieng Lom, Air America UH-34D H-85 tried to medevac the wounded from the trapped unit on 12 June 72. Attempting the medevac mission, the pilot, Capt. James E. Rausch, was killed in H-85 on 12 June 72, when hit by small arms fire that came through the windshield; copilot Disoum landed H-85 safely at Ban Moung (LS-177).164 By the fall of 1972, the Chinese Road, mostly 2 paved lanes, stood some 14 kilometers in front of Pak Beng, with some 25,000 Chinese on Lao soil including an infantry regiment posted at Moung Sai and more than 400 anti-aircraft guns along the Road.'

+ "Air America in Laos II – Military Aid" - Dr. Joe F. Leeker (2015):


'CNN aired a program in June 1998 called “NewsStand’ with an investigative expose titled “Valley of Death” hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Arnett. The show made a series of hard-hitting allegations about the mission in Laos. CNN claimed Special Forces soldiers were sent in to kill American military defectors, and during the mission they destroyed a village, killed women and children, and dropped deadly sarin gas, a chemical weapon banned under international law, according to a detailed examination of the reporting by the Defense Department. The same claims were published by CNN’s partner Time magazine in a story written by Arnett and April Oliver, a CNN producer. The defense secretary at the time, William Cohen, ordered the leaders of the Army, Air Force and Navy as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct their own full-scale investigation, which included interviewing witnesses and digging into military records and historical archives. The Pentagon investigation shot down the claims in “Valley of Death.” CNN and Time conducted an internal review and after the findings were reported, they retracted the story. The incident became one of the biggest media scandals of the late 1990s and triggered a flurry of lawsuits against CNN. Arnett, famed for his dispatches from the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, was reprimanded and later pushed out of CNN. Oliver was fired from the network after the story was retracted. In the wake of the scandal, Rose’s unit, the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group, received a presidential citation in 2001 for heroism in Vietnam from 1964-1972, which is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross for all Green Berets who served during its existence.'

+ The Media Scandal Surrounding Operation Tailwind (2017):


'Operation Tailwind was a covert incursion by a small unit of United States Army and allied Montagnard forces into southeastern Laos during the Vietnam War, conducted between 11–14 September 1970. Its purpose was to create a diversion for a Royal Lao Army offensive and to exert pressure on the occupation forces of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). A company-sized element of US Army Special Forces and Montagnard commando (Hatchet Force) of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG or SOG) conducted the operation. Nearly 30 years later, CNN/Time magazine jointly developed an investigative report that was both broadcast and published in June 1998 about Operation Tailwind. The TV segment was produced by April Oliver, Jack Smith, Pam Hill, and others. It was narrated by Peter Arnett, noted for war reporting, who had received a 1966 Pulitzer Prize for his work from Vietnam and who had worked with CNN for 18 years. Entitled Valley of Death, the report claimed that US air support had used sarin nerve gas against opponents, and that other war crimes had been committed by US forces during Tailwind. In response the Pentagon conducted an investigation, as did CNN; the news organizations together ultimately retracted the report, and fired the producers responsible. Two sued CNN in a challenge of their dismissals and reached with the network. After being reprimanded by CNN, Arnett resigned from the organization.'

JEFF GREENFIELD, CO-HOST: NEWSSTAND: tonight CNN & TIME. "Valley of Death": the U.S. military and a top-secret target. American defectors.
JIM CATHY (ph), FORMER AIR FORCE RESUPPLY FOR SOG COMMANDOS: I believe they were turn-toads. I believe they were traitors.
ANNOUNCER: The U.S military and a top-secret weapons.
MICHAEL HAGEN, OPERATION TAILWIND VETERAN: Nerve gas. The government don't want it called that, but it was nerve gas.
GREENFIELD: The U.S. on a top-secret mission. Operation Tailwind.
JAY GRAVES (ph), FORMER SOG RECONNAISSANCE LEADER: Because they were using nerve gas in that shit and not telling anybody about it.
GREENFIELD: A mission in far away secret war, unreported, until now.
ROBERT VAN BUSKIRK, OPERATION TAILWIND VETERAN: They're shooting anything that moves. This was the "valley of death."
BERNARD SHAW, CO-HOST: The looking glass: the hypocrisy of the media.
MIKE MCCURRY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Don't twist my words. It's making it very clear what the president has said in his statement.
SHAW: And the hypocrisy of the viewing public.
GREENFIELD (on camera): You tell us that you're sick and tired of all that tabloid trash. So what's the hottest thing on talk TV? You got it -- Jerry Springer.
SHAW: "The Looking Glass" with Jeff Greenfield.
GREENFIELD: "Parents, Kids & Sex." Parents: afraid of the media's explicit message to their kids about sex.
TOM BERGGREN: My first grader leaned over to me and whispered and said what's getting laid?
GREENFIELD: Parents: afraid about what they're kids are learning about sex and what they're doing about it.
UNIDENTIFIED TEENAGER #1: A father can lock me up until a closet until I turn 18.
GREENFIELD: Parents: afraid of talking with their kids about it.
JEANNINE RUSHTON, WEST VALLEY TEEN CENTER: I've seen more communication about birth control.
GREENFIELD: A new CNN & TIME poll, about the contradictions and the concerns of parents when it comes down to their kids and sex.
ANNOUNCER: CNN, "Time," with Jeff Greenfield and Bernard Shaw. CNN, "Time": two of the world's leading news organizations on special assignment.
GREENFIELD: This is Manhattan's Greeley Square. It's named after Horace Greeley, one of America's great newpapermen.
SHAW: We thought we'd come to a place that honors journalism's past to begin a new venture of our own.
GREENFIELD: This is CNN & TIME. It's a joint venture between television's first all news network and the first weekly news magazine. Now we haven't reinvented the wheel here. Watching us broadcast is not going to save your life or change your world forever.
SHAW: What this broadcast will do, if we've done our job right, is to bring into focus people and events that altered and illuminate our time. Sound familiar? It's line from an old CBS news show, and it's a pretty good definition of what good journalism is about. Whether we're looking at the abuse of power, an appreciation of excellence, or the way we live now, we hope you find CNN & TIME worth your time. We'll begin in just a moment.
GREENFIELD: Earlier this year, the United States nearly went to Iraq over chemical and biological weapons. Now CNN & TIME, after an eight month investigation report that the United States military used lethal nerve gas during the Vietnam War.
SHAW: It was 1970. President Nixon had a pledged a no first use policy on nerve gas, part of his commitment to the Geneva protocol limiting chemical weapons use. The U.S. had signed a treaty restricting chemical weapons, but the Senate had not ratified it. Now, Peter Arnett has the story of Operation Tailwind: a raid into Laos, which according to military officials with knowledge of the mission called two top secrets: dropping nerve gas on a mission to kill American defectors.
GREENFIELD: The exclusive photos that accompany this report were provided by the commandos who carried out this raid. They are seen here publicly for the first time.
(singing): There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.
PETER ARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the men of Operation Tailwind.
VAN BUSKIRK: Our motto in special forces was kill them all and let God sort them out. (singing): There's a man with a gun over there.
ARNETT: Tailwind voices the U.S. government never wanted to you hear.
HAGEN: Nerve gas. The government don't want it called that, but it was nerve gas.
ARNETT: Pictures of Tailwind. A black operation so secret even those who carried it out did not know all the details.
CAPT. EUGENE MCCARLEY, FORMER TAILWIND COMMANDER: What was dropped from there, that was a decision way above my level.
GRAVES: This thing has been buried so deep for so long.
ARNETT: Buried 28 years ago during America's secret war in Laos.
VAN BUSKIRK: Death. This was the valley of death. How many of you realize that God is a spirit?
ARNETT: Today Robert Van Buskirk is a born again Christian, taking his ministry into prisons.
VAN BUSKIRK: He's going to set you free, son. You know that, don't you.
ARNETT: Back in 1970, he was First Lieutenant Van Buskirk. Nineteen seventy: President Nixon was commander in chief; Henry Kissinger, national security adviser. A time of division and turbulence. Four hundred thousand troops still in Vietnam. The invasion of Cambodia, protests in Washington and throughout the country; and the killing of anti-war students at Kent State University by Ohio national guardsmen. Nineteen seventy: Van Buskirk was a platoon leader on Tailwind with orders to kill everything in sight, including American defectors.
VAN BUSKIRK: It was pretty well understood that if you came across a defector and could prove it to yourself beyond a reasonable doubt, do it. Under any circumstance, kill them. It wasn't about bringing them back. It was to kill them.
ARNETT: Tailwind: the largest, deepest raid into Laos by the U.S. military. Leading the so-called hatchet force, Captain Eugene McCarley.
MCCARLEY: We would go into Laos, blow up some bridges, destroy anything we came up on.
ARNETT: These soldiers were part of SOG: the Studies and Observations Group, a small, elite unit of special forces. SOG commandos carried out black operations against unusual targets using unusual weapons. They fought with no rules, were pledged to secrecy, everything was deniable. Both McCarley and Van Buskirk told CNN they were promised anything in the U.S. arsenal to complete Tailwind's mission; anything except nuclear weapons. The arsenal included a special weapon known as sleeping gas.
VAN BUSKIRK: Sleeping gas was a slang for nerve gas. In other words, when you got hit with sleeping gas, you were going to sleep forever.
ARNETT (on camera):
NEWSTAND: CNN & TIME contacted over 200 people, from corporals to generals, including dozens who fought or flew in the Tailwind mission. According to military officials with knowledge of the mission, Tailwind held two of the U.S. military's top secrets. The first: the sleeping gas was indeed nerve gas -- deadly sarin, what the U.S. military calls GB. These military sources told CNN that during Tailwind, nerve gas was dropped on a village base camp believed to hold American defectors, and then again to get the SOG team out, the first confirmed use of nerve gas in combat by the U.S. military. The second secret: the hunting and killing of American defectors was a high priority on SOG missions, including Tailwind. (voice-over): Jay Graves was a SOG Reconaissance Team leader, dropped into Laos several days before the Tailwind commando team. His mission:
GRAVES: Take photos if we could, establish IDs on people, without going in the camp.
ARNETT: From this position, his Recon team spotted several Americans: round eyes, either POW's or defectors.
GRAVES: We saw some round eyed people. We don't know whether they were prisoners or whatever.
ARNETT: Graves radioed in the sighting. He was told to hide and wait for the hatchet boss. Back at the SOG base in Cantoum (ph), the Tailwind commandos prepared for their mission. Van Buskirk said an Air Force colonel privately warned him about the lethal gas.
VAN BUSKIRK: You sure you take your gas mask. This stuff can really hurt you. It can kill you.
ARNETT: Captain McCarley told CNN off camera the use of nerve gas on Tailwind was quote "very possible." Later on camera he said:
MCCARLEY: I never, ever considered the use of lethal gas, not on any of my operations.
ARNETT: Nevertheless, McCarley said he equipped all of his men with special gas masks, call M-17's, designed to protect against lethal gas. The SOG commandos were also issued atropine, a nerve gas anecdote. McCarley also suggested lethal gas was always an option.
MCCARLEY: They might have had some of these other gases available or standing by with the Air Force, but as I understand it, these gases -- these CBU lethal gases are an Air Force ordinance and are in their arsenal.
ARNETT: CNN has obtained a copy of a 1971 manual of chemical weapons in the U.S. military arsenal. It shows a vast array of nerve gas weapons, containing the nerve agent G-B, more commonly known as Sarin. Sarin, the same lethal nerve gas used three years ago in a terrorist subway attack in Japan. Admiral Thomas Moorer was chairman of the joint chiefs in 1970. He spoke with CNN producer April Oliver.
APRIL OLIVER, CNN PRODUCER: Morally, you would have no objection to lethal gas being used if it protected American interests.
ADM. THOMAS MOORER, (RET.), U.S. NAVY: I would be willing to use any weapon and any tactic to save the lives of American soldiers.
ARNETT: Oliver asked Admiral Moorer about a special weapon the military called CBU-15, a cluster bomb unit that was filled with GB, sarin nerve gas. Moorer confirmed that nerve gas was used in Tailwind.
OLIVER: So, CBU-15 was a top secret weapon?
MOORER: When it was it should of been. Let me put it that way.
OLIVER: What's your understanding of how often it was applied during this war?
MOORER: Well, I don't have any figures to tell you how many times. I never made a point of counting that up. I'm sure that you can find out that from those that used them.
OLIVER: So isn't it fair to say that Tailwind proved, that CBU- 15 G-B is an effective weapon?
MOORER: Yes, I think -- but I think that was already known, otherwise it never would have been manufactured.
CATHY: Because as far as I'm concerned the Bible is our way to know Jesus.
ARNETT: Today, Jim Cathy is a Baptist preacher. On Tailwind he was in charge of Air Force resupply for the SOG commandos. On the ground one day ahead of them, he spent five hours closely observing the village base camp. Through the binoculars he spotted 10 to 15 long shadows, Caucasians, much taller than Loasians and Vietnamese.
CATHY: I believe there were American defectors in that group of people in that village, because there was no sign of any kind of restraint. In retrospect, I believe that mission was to wipe out those long shadows. MOORER: I'm sure that there were some defectors. There are always defectors.
ARNETT: Admiral Moorer acknowledged an off-camera interview that Tailwind's target was, indeed, defectors. While he would give no firm estimate, Moorer indicated scores of U.S. military had defected during the war. Other senior military officials also confirm that Tailwind's objective was a group of defectors collaborating with the enemy. (on camera): These officials say the Tailwind mission was not unique. For SOG, defectors were always considered a target of opportunity, to be eliminated. (voice-over): Former SOG commander John Singlaub told CNN: "It may be more important to your survival to kill the defector, than to kill a Vietnamese or Russian." American defectors' knowledge of communications and tactics can be damaging. Singlaub argued, "it's better to kill defectors than to risk lives trying to capture them."
GREENFIELD: In a moment, we'll return to Peter Arnett's report on Operation Tailwind. How it began and, according to our sources, how nerve gas was used and how American defectors were targeted.
SHAW: There's no doubt that Vietnam was a milestone in our recent history, one that haunts us to this day. It's a fitting topic to begin our look at one of the most familiar departments of "Time" magazine, Milestones.
ANNOUNCER: CNN and "Time" Milestones. SHAW: Died: Colonel Oran K. Henderson, the commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade. Henderson was the highest ranking officer ever tried for the infamous My Lai Massacre, charged with failing to investigate the killings of more than 175 Vietnamese men, women and children. Henderson was acquitted. Oran Henderson was 77.
GREENFIELD: Celebrated, Jerry Mathers birthday. Say it Ain't So, the "Beavers" hit middle age. Jerry Mathers is 50.
SHAW: Died: Sylvester Ritter.
SYLVESTER RITTER: You know, the last time I faced you, Cactus Jack, I had a white tuxedo on.
SHAW: Better known as the Junkyard Dog, Ritter thrilled pro wrestling fans with his trademark dog collar and head butts. Killed in a car accident. Sylvester Ritter was 45.
GREENFIELD: Twenty-eight years, the United States was fighting the war in Vietnam with a home front was deeply divided, and where the military in Vietnam was grappling with reports about American defectors. A top-secret effort, "Operation Tailwind," was, launch sources say, to find and kill those defectors by virtually means necessary. CNN's Peter Arnett picks up the story.
PETER ARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): September 11, 1970, with long shadows, round eyes, pinpointed, the hatchet force team of 16 Americans leading about 140 mountain yard (ph) mercenaries departed from launch site at Deato (ph), South Vietnam, lying about 60 miles deep into Laos. Taking heavy enemy fire, they landed several miles from the village base camp. Michale Hagen was a platoon sergeant on "Tailwind."
HAGEN: We have casualties before we even hit the ground.
ARNETT: Enemy every where to the SOG company, moving consistently, with fire fights, day and night. Squad leader Jim Lukus (ph).
JIM LUKUS: When the gun (INAUDIBLE) shot down, we never would have expected to come out. I didn't.
ARNETT: It took three days to get to near the village base camp with a man believed to be defector had been spotted. American war planes bombing and strafing, drove the enemy away from the existed SOG team. The ground fighting subsided. According to military officials, during the evening, American planes gassed the camp with death sarin nerve gas, dropping the special weapon, CBU15. Then the next morning, Van Buskirk led the assault. VAN BUSKIRK: I was on the offensive. I had already been wounded. I wasn't in a good mood.
ARNETT: Firing automatic weapons and tossing grenades into the hooches, the commandos met little resistance. Suddenly, Van Buskirk spotted two occasions, one went down to a spider hole, the second ran toward it.
VAN BUSKIRK: Early 20s, blond hair. Looks like he's running off a beach in California, needs a hair cut. This is a G.I., boots on, not a prisoner, no shekels, no chains, nothing.
ARNETT: Van Buskirk held his fire and raced the man to the spider hole, try to grab him, but missed. The man slid into the hole. Van Buskirk shouted...
VAN BUSKIRK: I'm Lieutenant Van Buskirk, fifth (ph) special forces. I'll take you home. Come on now. And perfect English with no accent, he said, F you. But he said the word. And I said, no, F you.
ARNETT: Convinced they were defectors, Van Buskirk threw white phosphorus grenade down the hole. He believed both men were killed instantly. The commandos wiped out the camp in approximately 10 minutes.
HAGEN: The majority of the people that were there were not combat personnel, the few infantry people that they had, we overran immediately. We basically destroyed everything that was there.
MCCARLEY: And as we were going through it, there were the dead bodies. The count was 90 some, up to 100.
ARNETT: Including women and children, then mountain yard fighters reported this to Hagen and Van Buskirk.
VAN BUSKIRK: Booku (ph) round eyes, meaning in the hooches.
ARNETT: Bodies that look like Americans.
VAN BUSKIRK: Dozen, 15, maybe 20.
ARNETT: Van Buskirk looked inside only one hooch. He says the dead look like Hamburger meat.
VAN BUSKIRK: When I into the hooch, it was a mess, this pieces of human beings.
ARNETT: According to several commandos, the bodies thought to be American defectors were not identified, and no bodies were brought out. Later, Van Buskirk says a SOG colonel and keeping with SOG's code of deniability ordered him delete his description of killing two American defectors from his after action report.
VAN BUSKIRK: I was told the best thing would be just take that out of the after action report. It's wasn't humane. And I did.
ARNETT: To this day, Captain McCarley denies Tailwind's mission was to kill defectors, saying his orders were to draw enemy troops away from CIA mercenaries in battle nearby.
MCCARLEY: We were looking for the village, we had no idea what was there. And we stumbled upon by accident.
ARNETT: But several formal senior military officials have confirmed to CNN that the village and the defectors were Tailwind's objective. With the camp overrun, it was time to get out quickly. More enemy troops were gathering on the nearby ridge with antiaircraft guns. The SOG team wounded and low on ammunition, moved through tall elephant grass towards the landing zone beneath the ridge line. The enemy began to charge. Desperate, the commandos called for gas.
VAN BUSKIRK: I said I want the bad of the bad.
MCCARLEY: We were told to put on the funny faces, because war -- they said we're coming in with gas.
VAN BUSKIRK: Tallyho, come in high, gas is coming.
ARNETT: Quickly, two low flying A-1 sky raid swooped in and dropped gas.
VAN BUSKIRK: And it started coming. Pu-pu-pu...
ARNETT: The gas hit away from the commandos near the base of the ridge on top of the advancing enemy, a direct hit. Unprepared without masks, the enemy was affected immediately.
HAGEN: They had thrown up. They were in convulsions on the ground. I don't think too many of them got up and walked away.
ARNETT: As the commandos struggled to get out, some of the gas spread across the elephant grass into the landing zone.
HAGEN: It was tasteless, odorless. You can barely see it.
ARNETT: As the choppers descended, their blaze helped disperse the drifting gas. Hagen and many commandos were without gas masks. Lost or damage in the fighting, Van Buskirk discarded his.
VAN BUSKIRK: I'm running. I'm shooting. And quickly, I'm throwing up. I'm unable to breathe.
ARNETT: To reach the choppers, Hagen says some of the commandos had to climb over enemy bodies.
VAN BUSKIRK: I look down into this valley, all I see is bodies. They do not fight anymore. They no longer combat us.
ARNETT: All 16 Americans were wounded but got out alive.
HAGEN: Without the gas, we would never make it out.
ARNETT: As many as 60 Montagnards ;were killed, nearly all the rest wounded. Hagen has no doubts about what the gas was.
HAGEN: Nerve gas. The government don't want to call it that. They want to call it incapacitating agent or some form, but it was nerve gas.
ARNETT: SOG Recon Jay Graves agrees.
GRAVES: You tell me that what was the code sign for the gas used on Tailwind. GB -- now the gas name is GB, then they change it to something else, which I can understand why they are doing now.
ARNETT: Why were they doing it?
GRAVES: Because they were using never gas in that shit, not tell anybody about it.
ARNETT: Even a pilot who dropped gas to get the commandos out said he was briefed it was just tear gas. But chemical experts CNN consulted said tear gas is not consistent with the enemy symptoms observed by the SOG team, vomiting, convulsing, and falling quickly to the ground unconscious.
MAY SMITHSON, THE HENRY L. STIMSON CENTER: Those are symptoms that I would associate with exposure to a nerve agent, not exposure to something like tear gas. With tear gas, an individual cries. With never agent, the individual that's exposed is very like to die.
ARNETT: Admiral Moorer has told CNN that GB, sarin nerve gas was, quote, "by and large available for many rescue attempts." He also told CNN, quote, "this is a much bigger operation than you realize." A-1 sky raid pilots, other SOG veterans and former senior military officials all tell of GB being dropped on more than 20 missions in Laos and North Vietnam. (on camera): Questions remain, exactly how many times has the U.S. military secretly used nerve gas? On Tailwind, just who were the defectors killed? Are military officers sure no POWs were killed? Just how many defectors were there in Laos? And ultimately, who authorized the operation? (voice-over): Admiral Moorer said the Nixon White House national security team had to approve nerve gas use. He also said that the CIA had partial responsibility for Tailwind. Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Ledd (ph) said that while he had no recollection of GB sarin nerve gas being used, quote, "I do not dispute what Admiral Moorer has to say on this matter." And Admiral Moorer told CNN he is speaking out now because of his respect for history. Tailwind, sighted by military officials who confirm the use of nerve gas in combat by the United States on a hunt kill raid for American defectors, a top secret battle in a valley of death.
GREENFIELD: CNN submitted a freedom of information at request on Operation Tailwind to the Pentagon some seven months ago. As of this day, we have had no response to that request. The chairman to the joint chief of staff, General Henry Shelton, declined our request for an on camera interview, so did Secretary of Defense William Cohen. On Friday, the Pentagon notified CNN and "Time" that the army had no documentary evidence to support CNN's claim that lethal nerve gas of any type was used in Operation Tailwind. The Pentagon also asserted that during the Vietnam War, there were only two known American military defectors. And today, despite a new international treaty restricting the use of chemical weapons, more than 13 million pounds of the nerve gas sarin remain in the American stockpile.


+ Operation TAILWIND - "Command History, Studies and Observations Group, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam" [MACSOG] (1970):

'In 1998 Cable News Network (CNN) launched NewsStand CNN & Time, a collaboration with Time magazine on reporting to be both broadcast and published in print form. On 7 June 1998 a report about Operation Tailwind, entitled Valley of Death, was broadcast as the premiere episode of the new program. The segment analyzed and criticized Operation Tailwind. It alleged that US aircraft, in an unprecedented reversal of policy and breach of international treaties, had used sarin nerve gas ("GB" in US/NATO nomenclature) against North Vietnamese ground troops who were attacking the landing zones during the extraction of the forces. The Pentagon did not dispute that some chemical agent was used, nor that both North Vietnamese and American soldiers struggled against its effects. However, most witnesses, sworn and unsworn, said that only a potent tear gas (most likely a CN/CS mixture) was used. According to reporting, others insisted it was sarin, or a combination of tear gas and sarin. A second element of the reporting was an allegation that Operation Tailwind had been devised to eliminate a group of Americans who had defected to the enemy and were holed up in a Laotian village. According to the report, the nerve agent had been sprayed from aircraft twice: once to prep the village and once during extraction of troops. The report claimed that more than 100 Laotian men, women, and children had been killed during the attack on the village. The broadcast (and the published Time magazine article of June 15) appeared to be reliably sourced. Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of Tailwind, appeared to say that nerve agents had been used, and not just during this operation. However, Admiral Moorer later told investigators that he "never confirmed anything" to CNN regarding Operation Tailwind, that he had no knowledge of the use of Sarin or the targeting of defectors, and he believed that producer April Oliver had asked him "trick" questions. But later again, in sworn deposition testimony taken during the suit of one of the producers, Admiral Moorer reviewed April Oliver's notes of her interviews of him, including his responses to her questions. He did not make any significant objections to their accuracy. Former SOG Lieutenant Robert Van Buskirk (one of the three platoon leaders) and three of the participating SOG sergeants allegedly gave information that supported the allegations as presented in the televised and published investigative report. Van Buskirk said that the Montagnard Hatchet Force was exposed on the landing zone ("LZ") when the teargas agent was deployed to drive the enemy back. He also said that he saw his men (who were not equipped with gas masks) convulsing when the wind blew the agent back upon the LZ. The CNN/Time reports suggested that war crimes had been committed. The Pentagon launched its own investigation. It concluded that the claims made in the program were flawed.'


'CNN's firing of Peter Arnett, the Pulitzer Price winning journalist who achieved international acclaim for his on-the-spot reporting from Baghdad during the Gulf War, sheds further light on the subordination of the US media to the military and intelligence establishment. CNN announced on Tuesday it had agreed to a settlement with Arnett, who has worked for the network for 18 years, to terminate his employment two and a half years in advance of the expiration of his current contract. The network's statement came one day after Arnett told the press that CNN had rejected his request to report on the current war from Belgrade, and had effectively muzzled him since last July. Arnett received a Pulitzer in 1966 for his work as an Associated Press reporter in Vietnam. By the time of the Gulf War he had become CNN's premier international correspondent. He came under criticism at that time from government and military circles for his objective reportage of civilian casualties resulting from the US bombing of Baghdad. Last summer the Pentagon, backed by retired military brass, prominent political figures and associations of special forces veterans, began a campaign to drive him off of the air waves. The occasion was an investigative report aired by CNN on June 7, entitled "Valley of Death. The segment, narrated by Arnett, concerned Operation Tailwind, a secret incursion by Army special forces into Laos in September of 1970. The TV report, a joint production of CNN and Time magazine, presented compelling evidence that US commandos had used deadly sarin gas in an operation to kill American soldiers who had defected into Laos from Vietnam. "Valley of Death" included interviews with Tailwind commandos, statements from high-level (unnamed) veterans of the military and intelligence apparatus, and an on-camera discussion with retired Admiral Thomas Moorer, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time of Operation Tailwind. Top CNN news executives reviewed and approved the segment prior to its airing. The program evoked public attacks and private protests from Pentagon officials, the Special Forces Association, and figures such as retired General Colin Powell and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The latter, who was Nixon's national security adviser at the time of Tailwind, would be directly implicated in the illegal actions alleged in the CNN report. Powell and Kissinger, among others, contacted CNN executives and demanded that they retract "Valley of Death" and issue a public apology to the military and special forces groups.'

+ Pentagon Pressure Behind CNN Firing of Peter Arnett (1999):



'Psychological operations (PSYOP) are operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of United States psychological operations is to induce or reinforce behavior favorable to U.S. objectives. They are an important part of the range of diplomatic, informational, military and economic activities available to the U.S. They can be utilized during both peacetime and conflict. There are three main types: strategic, operational and tactical. Strategic PSYOP include informational activities conducted by the U.S. government agencies outside of the military arena, though many utilize Department of Defense (DOD) assets. Operational PSYOP are conducted across the range of military operations, including during peacetime, in a defined operational area to promote the effectiveness of the joint force commander's (JFC) campaigns and strategies. Tactical PSYOP are conducted in the area assigned to a tactical commander across the range of military operations to support the tactical mission against opposing forces. PSYOP can encourage popular discontent with the opposition's leadership and by combining persuasion with a credible threat, degrade an adversary's ability to conduct or sustain military operations. They can also disrupt, confuse, and protract the adversary's decision-making process, undermining command and control. When properly employed, PSYOP have the potential to save the lives of friendly or enemy forces by reducing the adversary's will to fight. By lowering the adversary's morale and then its efficiency, PSYOP can also discourage aggressive actions by creating disaffection within their ranks, ultimately leading to surrender. The integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own. Between 2010 and 2014, PSYOP was renamed Military Information Support Operations (MISO), then briefly renamed PSYOP in Aug 2014, only to return to MISO shortly thereafter in 2015.

PSYOP involves the careful creation and dissemination of a product message. There are three types of products that are used to create these messages. They include White products which are used in overt operations and Gray and Black products which are used in covert PSYOP. White, Gray, and Black don't refer to the product's content but rather the methods used to carry out the operation. In order for PSYOP to be successful they must be based in reality. All messages must be consistent and must not contradict each other. Any gap between the product and reality will be quickly noticed. A credible "truth" must be presented which is consistent to all audiences. Primarily it is a component of offensive counter-information but can be used defensively as well. PSYOP are used in support of special operations, unconventional warfare, and counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. PSYOP can include military operations other than warfare and also include joint operations. They include counterterrorism operations, peace operations, noncombatant evacuation, enforcement of sanctions and maritime interception operations, strikes and raids, etc.

White PSYOP: 'U.S. Army PSYOP soldiers with Detachment 1080, 318th Psychological Operations Company distribute newspaper products in the East Rashid region of Baghdad, Iraq, July 11, 2007. White PSYOP is attributable to PSYOP as a source. White is acknowledged as an official statement or act of the U.S. government, or emanates from a source associated closely enough with the U.S. government to reflect an official viewpoint. The information should be true and factual. It also includes all output identified as coming from U.S. official sources: "Authorized to engage in white activity directed at foreign audiences are: The State Department, USIA, the Foreign Operations Administration (a predecessor of the Agency for International Development), the Defense Department and other U.S. government departments and agencies as necessary."'

Gray PSYOP: 'The source of the gray PSYOP product is deliberately ambiguous. The true source (U.S. Government) is not revealed to the target audience. The activity engaged in plausibly appears to emanate from a non-official American source, or an indigenous, non-hostile source, or there may be no attribution. Gray is that information whose content is such that the effect will be increased if the hand of the U.S. Government and in some cases any American participation are not revealed. It is simply a means for the U.S. to present viewpoints which are in the interest of U.S. foreign policy, but which will be acceptable or more acceptable to the intended target audience than will an official government statement.'

Black PSYOP: 'The activity engaged in appears to emanate from a source (government, party, group, organization, person) usually hostile in nature. The interest of the U.S. government is concealed and the U.S. government would deny responsibility. It is best used in support of strategic plans. Covert PSYOP is not a function of the U.S. military but instead is used in special operations due to their political sensitivity and need for higher level compartmentalization. Further, black PSYOP, to be credible, may need to disclose sensitive material, with the damage caused by information disclosure considered to be outweighed by the impact of successful deception.[6] In order to achieve maximum results and to prevent compromise of overt PSYOP, overt and covert operations need to be kept separate. Personnel involved in one must not be engaged in the other.'

PSYOP conveys messages via visual, audio, and audiovisual media. Military psychological operations, at the tactical level, are usually delivered by loudspeaker, and face to face communication. For more deliberate campaigns, they may use leaflets, radio or television. Strategic operations may use radio or television broadcasts, various publications, airdropped leaflets, or, as part of a covert operation, with material placed in foreign news media. The majority of U.S. military psychological operations units are in the Army. White PSYOP can come from the Voice of America or regional radio/TV. Central Intelligence Agency units are apt to have responsibility, on a strategic level, for black and some gray PSYOP. White PSYOP, especially at the strategic level, comes from the Voice of America or United States Information Agency.

Psychological operations was assigned to the pre-CIA Office of Policy Coordination, with oversight by the Department of State. The overall psychological operations of the United States, overt and covert, were to be under the policy direction of the U.S. Department of State during peacetime and the early stages of war:

The Secretary of State shall be responsible for:

(1) The formulation of policies and plans for a national foreign information program in time of peace. This program shall include all foreign information activities conducted by departments and agencies of the U. S. Government.
(2) The formulation of national psychological warfare policy in time of national emergency and the initial stages of war.
(3) The coordination of policies and plans for the national foreign information program and for overt psychological warfare with the Department of Defense, with other appropriate departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and with related planning...
(4) Plans prepared by this organization for overt psychological warfare in time of national emergency or the initial stages of war shall provide for:
a. Coordination of overt psychological warfare with:

  • Covert psychological warfare.
  • Censorship.
  • Domestic information.

b. The employment and expansion, insofar as is feasible, of the activities and facilities which compose the national foreign information program in time of peace, in order to assure rapid transition to operations in time of national emergency or war.
c. Control of the execution of approved plans and policies by:
(1) the Department of Defense in theaters of military operations;
(2) the Department of State in areas other than theaters of military operations.
d. Transmittal of approved psychological warfare plans and policies to theater commanders through the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After the OPC was consolidated into the CIA, there has been a psychological operations staff, under various names, in what has variously been named the Deputy Directorate of Plans, the Directorate of Operations, or the National Clandestine Service. Psychological operations were extensively used in Vietnam, with white propaganda under the United States Information Agency and Military Assistance Command Vietnam, and grey and black propaganda under the Central Intelligence Agency and the Studies and Observation Group. As early as August 1964, almost one year before the activation of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO), General William Westmoreland told a CA 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 fewer 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."

During the Vietnam era, the organization of the 4th Psychological Operations Group was very different. The four battalions of the group were divided by geographic region rather than area of expertise as they are now.

  • The 6th PSYOP Battalion was stationed at Bien Hoa and provided services to the tactical units, both American and Vietnamese, and to the various political entities such as provinces and cities in the area of III Corps.
  • The 7th PSYOP Battalion was stationed in Da Nang and provided service to I Corps.
  • The 8th PSYOP Battalion was based at Nha Trang, but its B Company, which was its field teams, was based out of Pleiku nearly 100 kilometers away. The 8th Battalion served the II Corps area of Vietnam.
  • The 10th PSYOP Battalion was stationed in Can Tho and served IV Corps.
  • The A company of each battalion consisted of a command section, S-1, S-2, S-3, and a Psyop Development Center (PDC). Additionally, they generally had extensive printing facilities.
  • The B companies consisted of the field teams that were stationed throughout their respective corps billeted with MACV teams and combat units.

The 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), based at Fort Bragg, was historically the only active duty PSYOP unit in the United States Army, until the August 26th, 2011 activation of 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne). The 2nd and the 7th Psychological Operations Groups are in the Army Reserve. All active duty PSYOP soldiers must initially volunteer for Psychological Operations Assessment and Selection, held year-round at Camp Mackall. The U.S. Army is responsible for military psychological warfare doctrine. U.S. PSYOP forces are forbidden to target (i.e., attempt to change the opinions of) U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.'

+ Psychological Operations (PSYOPs):
+ Grey Berets:


Green Berets

'We could call this book Special Operations Recon Mission Impossible. A small group of highly trained, resourceful US Special Forces (SF) men is asked to go in teams behind the enemy lines to gather intelligence on the North Vietnamese Army units that had infiltrated through Laos and Cambodia down the Ho Chi Minh trails to their secret bases inside the Cambodian border west of South Vietnam. The covert reconnaissance teams, of only two or three SF men with four or five experienced indigenous mercenaries each, were tasked to go into enemy target areas by foot or helicopter insertion. They could be 15 kilometers beyond any other friendly forces, with no artillery support. In sterile uniforms with no insignia or identification, if they were killed or captured, their government would deny their military connection. The enemy had placed a price on their heads and had spies in their Top Secret headquarters known as SOG. SOG had three identical recon ground units along the border areas. This book tells the history of Command and Control Detachment South (CCS) The CCS volunteer warriors and its Air Partners - the Army and Air Force helicopter transport and gunship crews who lived and fought together and sometimes died together. This is the first published history of CCS as compiled by its last living commander, some forty years after they were disbanded. It tells of the struggles and intrigue involved in SOG's development as the modern day legacy of our modern Special Operations Commands. Forbidden to tell of their experiences for over twenty years; their After Action Reports destroyed even before they were declassified - surviving veterans team together to tell how Recon men wounded averaged 100 percent; and SOG became the most highly decorated unit in Vietnam and all were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.'

+ Secret Green Beret Commandos In Cambodia: A Memorial History of MACVSOG's Command and Control Detachment South (CCS) And Its Air Partners, Republic of Vietnam, [1967-1972] (2012):



'Some of the North Vietnamese officers and soldiers who came over to the “just cause” of the Republic of Vietnam as a Chieu Hoi were not just passive guests. They took part in clandestine actions against their old comrades. From about 1969 to 1971 United States Army Special Forces (MACV-SOG), Central Intelligence Agency handlers and the Vietnamese So Cong Tac (Special Mission Service) sent some of these ralliers back behind the lines as part of a secret operation code-named Earth Angel. Some of these agents were inserted using the high altitude low opening (HALO) parachute method. These operations took place all along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia and Laos and sometimes in the demilitarized zone. We should note that Cambodian defectors were also used in a second operation code-named Pike Hill. Since these teams were supposed to be local enemy troops they moved along the roads and trails instead of the jungle. As a result, you will also find them identified occasionally as Road Runners.'

'Colonel Tho selected ten volunteers from the new Hoi Chanh group and made them scouts for the province's Regional Forces Reconnaissance Company, which began combing the district for boobytraps, arms caches, bunker complexes and for other potential Hoi Chanh. Within three weeks more than 200 had rallied to the government's side. Within a month the reconnaissance company, placed into ambush position by their new scouts, intercepted a main force VC Unit. The VC regulars lost 78 dead to the Regional Forces Company and their Hoi Chanh scouts. As the rest of the Hoi Chanh, newly equipped with combat boots and M-16 rifles, went on patrol in the district, Colonel Tho lived up to his side of the bargain. Relief supplies were shipped to the hamlets. In Quyen's village, arrival of a shipment of lumber and roofing material from provincial headquarters was the signal for the start of a community self-help program, and soon the grass huts were replaced by sturdy dwellings. A tent market was airlifted from Tam Ky, bringing all the small items from the outside world that the villagers had not seen for years -- manufactured soap, cigarettes, finished textiles, shoes. To obtain money with which to buy these items, the Hoi Chanh stepped up their jungle combing activities and uncovered many more Viet Cong arms caches. The reward money for the weapons took the villagers off the barter economy that they had known for two dozen years."

'This 1966 photograph from the Viet Nam Photo Service depicts an official of the Binh Dinh Chieu Hoi Center speaking to over a hundred former Viet Cong who have gone Hoi Chanh and come over to the government for job training, a personal subsistence allowance and a reward for weapons they brought with them.'

+ "THE CHIEU HOI PROGRAM OF VIETNAM" - SGM Herbert A. Friedman (2012):



'Operation Tintinnabulation was a new Propaganda technique being tested by the 10th PSYOP Battalion, in cooperation with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, was recently employed against two VC battalions. Tintinnabulation (which literally means the ringing of bells) involves two C-47 aircraft, one "Spooky" (minigun-equipped) and the other a "Gabby" (loudspeaker-equipped). During the initial phase, the Gabby employs a frequency pulsating noisemaker designed to harass and confuse the enemy forces during night hours, while the Spooky provides air cover. During the second phase, the harassing noisemaker continues, however, emphasis is given to use of Chieu Hoi tapes. The first phase is designed to eliminate the feeling that the night provides security to the target audience, while the second phase is designed to reinforce the enemy’s desire to rally. Targets for both phases are recommended based on the results of daytime ground operations. During a recent operation in Vinh Long Province, a total of 24 missions were flown with over-the-target time of approximately 2 hours per aircraft. The number of Hoi Chanhs in the province more than tripled (122 in September to 379 in December), and ralliers stated that the effects of the night missions caused them to rally. The initial success of Operation Tintinnabulation suggested this concept should be considered for use in other areas.'

+ "Employment of U.S. Army Psychological Operation Units in Vietnam" - Operation Tintinnabulation (1969):

Four special PSYOP techniques were employed in Vietnam: distribution of safe conduct passes, money for weapons, focus on returning home to celebrate during the Tet New Year, and armed propaganda teams composed of hoi chanh. Many PSYOP professionals believe these teams were effective because of their personal touch to the Chieu Hoi invitations. The Psychological Operations book also says about the campaign:

"After the low point at the end of 1964, the Chieu Hoi program showed a steady increase in the number of Vietcong returnees. In 1966 there were over 20,000 defectors, double the number of the preceding year. Total defections of Vietcong returning under this program numbered more than 75,000. If we accept the ratio of 10 government soldiers needed for each insurgent guerrilla, this program saved the GVN and the USA troop strength of over 750,000 soldiers. From the dollars-saved angle, the total cost of the program, using a figure of $127 to bring in a Vietcong defector, was around $9.5 million. Since the cost to kill a Vietcong is estimated at $300,000, killing this number of soldiers would have cost $2.25 billion. Leaflets distributed from aircraft and by hand-proved to be the most practical means of disseminating the Chieu Hoi message. The ubiquitous “safe conduct pass,” which literally blanketed South Vietnam, was probably the most effective message. Though there were thousands of other leaflets stressing many other themes, the safe conduct pass was most often described by ralliers during interrogation as the one most seen and the one most conducive to rallying. After one battle, 90 percent of those VC who could be searched-the dead, wounded, and captured-had the safe conduct leaflet.'

By the spring of 1971, JUSPAO had distributed nearly four billion leaflets in the campaign to persuade “men to rally to the GVN [Government of the Republic of Vietnam] under its amnesty program.”

"Besides the safe conduct leaflet and rewards program, testimonials from Hoi Chanh (former VC) proved to be effective in the total psychological process of attitude change. It was determined that the Hoi Chanh testimonial should contain four essential elements: a photograph and complete individual description of the Hoi Chanh; an indication of why he rallied; discussion of the good treatment he received; and an appeal to his former comrades to rally. Experience in the field showed that when a PSYOP person wrote a testimonial message for a Hoi Chanh, it was usually recognized as propaganda. The best approach was for the Hoi Chanh to address his message specifically to his former unit and address some of his former comrades by name . He should tell enough about himself to convince the recipients of the message that he is in fact alive and well. The operative word in all Hoi Chanh testimonials was credibility."

The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office Field development Division booklet Guidelines to Chieu Hoi Psychological Operations: the Chieu Hoi Inducement Program, states that the following media should be utilized to the maximum degree to reach military forces of the Viet Cong and encourage Hoi Chanh ralliers with Government of Vietnam and United States output:

  • Leaflets: Air-dropped and distributed by hand by military forces, Pacification teams, and Armed Propaganda teams.
  • Loudspeaker broadcasts: Airborne loudspeakers, vehicle-mounted speakers for use in daytime areas that can be reached and stationary speakers at outposts.
  • Radio: Radio Saigon, Voice of America and provincial radio stations.
  • Film: Theater film (35mm), Films for use in rural areas (16mm) and slides.
  • Newspapers: Provincial newspapers circulated in Viet Cong controlled or contested areas and mimeographed district news bulletins.
  • Display Materials: Posters, banners, photo exhibits, weapons exhibits, displays of Hoi Chanh art, displays of professional art and slogans on walls.
  • Public Meetings and Performances: Lectures or speeches, discussions, ceremonies, dramatic programs, musical programs and rallies or conventions of returnees.
  • Publications: Pamphlets and magazines.
  • Other Media: Conversations, comic books, calendars, almanacs, messages on gifts or donated items, books and letters.

'When he comes over, he provide valuable information about: enemy units, caches of weapons, ammunition, caches of food. He brings in or locates weapons which otherwise would be used against you. Many serve as ‘Kit Carson’ scouts. They help you locate enemy mines, booby traps, and serve as guides for your unit. Many former V.C. join armed propaganda teams, which talk other V.C. into rallying. Finally, the former V.C. goes back to farming or some other occupation. What does the program Cost? The cost is approximately $369.00 ($500 by 1970) for each former enemy Viet Cong. This is insignificant when you consider that the estimated cost for killing a V.C. runs into many thousands of dollars. How can you help? Let all the would be defectors (Hoi Chanh) come in safely. Give voluntary defectors Chieu Hoi (not POW) treatment. Segregate Chieu Hoi from POWs. Treat the returnee with respect. Give him a receipt for all weapons that he brings in. Deliver him safely to the unit intelligence officer for prompt debriefing and then promptly to the Government of Vietnam Chieu Hoi service at the nearest district or province headquarters.'

+ MACV Chieu Hoi Command Information Pamphlet 9-70 (1970):
+ Hoi Chan:

typehost's picture



'MACV, the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, was the unified headquarters of all the allied forces assisting the Republic of Vietnam, commonly referred to as South Viet- nam or RVN. SOG was officially the “Studies and Observations Group” under MACV but we knew it as the Special Operations Group. SOG was the only covert military unit responsible for intelligence gathering of the enemy forces outside of South Vietnam. SOG and its operations were classified as TOP SECRET. CCS was one of SOGs three major ground units – known as Command and Control Detachments. CCS was the southernmost of these units – the others being CCC and CCN, named for their locations in RVN - Central and North. SOG also had air and maritime units involved in intelligence gathering. CCS and the other two C&Cs were responsible for cross-border operations to locate the enemy units and their activities to determine the threat they posed to RVN and the US and RVN military units defending the insurrection. The C&Cs accomplished their mission by primarily inserting reconnaissance (recon) teams into North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, primarily by helicopters...

SOG was a Top Secret and a covert or “Black” operation. All of its volunteer members were sworn to maintain that secrecy under threat of imprisonment. Members of SOG could not maintain diaries, nor write nor talk about their experiences for 20 years. Our CCS operations lasted from mid-1966 through 1972 – only six years. So all of SOG’s records were kept secret and not declassified until 1996. But even before that, the Department of the Army destroyed all of our After Action Reports (AAR) of the SOG operations in about 1974 or ’75. (EN IN-3) Many of our men have passed away since then and more will do so in the next few years. We want a written record of what they did and how they did it, else that will soon be forgotten – as much has been already.

Meanwhile, the SOG warriors had to keep their unit experiences secret to the point of being evasive even with their fellow SF buddies outside of SOG. SOG used only a small part of the highly trained Special Forces men in Vietnam. An example of the impact of being in a Top Secret outfit was explained recently by former CCS Recon Team Leader, 1st Lt. Bob Bost, who said, “I got shot up on a mission in Cambodia and we exfiled back to our Launch Site at Quan Loi. We only had a medic there, so he got me to the 11th Armored Cav dispensary and they medevaced me out to the 93rd Evacuation Hospital. I was sterile, no ID, no labels in clothing or nametag. I just gave them my name and that was it. Nine days later I was dumped out in the street with someone else’s clothes and no headgear. I did have my boots and I had stuffed a PRC-10 radio, a piece of panel and a mirror in them and I would not let go of them during surgery. I made my way to the airstrip, found a bank of phones and got in touch with COL Cox at A company, 5th SFGA. He had a driver pick me up and take me to his HQ. He fixed me up with some dog tags, fatigues, headgear and one of the A-team guys loaned me $20.00 and got me to our “safe house” (House Ten). From there I got fraged out on a SOG C-123 “Black Bird” back to Ban Me Thout. My medical record is either with the 11th ACR or the 93rd Evac Hospital. Sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. I tried to track it down and was told that all the records were in a warehouse in Hawaii and it was too costly to search for an individual record.” “Then when I got back to a stateside unit, we had to remain evasive when discussing what we did in Nam. After leaving the service, we stayed invisible...

To begin, we show various maps of the Indo-China area; and maps of North and South Vietnam; Cambodia; The Military Regions of South Vietnam or the Republic of Vietnam (RVN); and locations of the three C&C Detachments. Then we give a brief review of the Background of the Vietnam Conflict and the “strange” establishment of the MACV Studies and Observations Group (SOG) and its development. Then we describe the early efforts by the 5th Special Forces Group Airborne (5th SFGA) to create three different “project” for accomplishing clandestine reconnaissance in hostile controlled territory – special ground operations. These were named Projects Delta or B52, Omega (B50), and Sigma (B56). Delta established the model for the subsequent Omega and Sigma units. Then we show maps of the Cambodian Area of Operation (AO) known as Daniel Boone and its zones of operation and major launch sites. Next we start listing chronologically the events performed or pertaining to Omega and Sigma, who were then put under operational control of SOG and later merged into CCS. In many cases, the only information we have about a particular event is an award citation, and those leave out a great deal of detail about what else happened leading up to a heroic act. As noted, all of our unit-generated “After Action Reports” of our recon or exploit missions were destroyed by the Dept. of the Army. The only written records we now have of our recon missions were those that got awards or decorations, since these records were administratively published by the USARV, or MACV or the 5th SFGA headquarters as General Orders and were thus unclassified...

Our over-riding challenge for CCS Operations was to secure intelligence about what the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was doing in Cambodia. We were not in there to conduct offensive actions, except in mid 1970, when President Nixon turned us loose; although we could certainly fight back whenever the Recon Teams or the Exploit Companies had enemy contact or our helicopters were shot down. So again we stress that the majority of our recon missions are still undocumented, unless we have surviving members who can collaborate their memories of those experiences – although in many cases we have only their award citations to tell the story.

The Mission and Structure of Command & Control Detachments:

This book describes the historical events and operations of Command & Control Detachment South (CCS), the southernmost ground operational detachment of the ultra-secret MACV-SOG during the Vietnam Conflict. The mission of each detachment was to conduct intelligence-gathering reconnaissance in their respective areas of operations (AO) to determine the location, strength and activity of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units as they came down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to infiltrate into South Vietnam during the period of 1967-72. Each detachment had a Headquarters Company, a Recon Company, Two Exploit (or Hatchet) Companies and a Security Company. In brief, our reconnaissance mission was conducted primarily by very small covert recon teams (RTs) that consisted generally of two or three US-led Special Forces (SF) officers or NCOs with 3-6 indigenous mercenaries, known as Special Commando Units (SCU). These SCU were recruited principally from the various ethnic Montagnard tribes, with others from Chinese Nung or Cambodian or Vietnamese. All of the team members were dressed and armed in a sanitized manner - with no personal or national identification of any kind. These RTs were most often inserted beyond the South Vietnamese or Republic of Vietnam (RVN) border into enemy held territory in either Laos or Cambodia by helicopter. Sometimes they inserted inside the RVN border and then walked across the border to their mission’s target area. Later in the war, a few teams were inserted by parachuting – using either static lines and from high altitude (HALO) procedures. The RTs were supported ONLY by helicopter gunships in the CCS AO - although in the northern two SOG detachments of CCC and CCN, they also had use of tactical air support (TAC AIR) and sometimes ar- tillery support. CCS was forbidden to use TAC Air and our operations were generally outside the range of any friendly artillery.

Another element of our recon operations was the use of Exploitation units (called Hatchet Forces in the other two northern detachments) in platoon or company-sized action. These Exploit forces were often employed just inside the RVN- Cambodian border. Then a platoon-size element would separate off and go into Cambodia on a search and destroy mission. Often this smaller element was accompanied by Recon Teams who would drop off along the way for a covert insertion. The Exploit companies also provided the “rescue” elements on standby ready status at each forward support site (FSS) where the transport helicopters (known as Slicks) and the gunships stayed in preparation to respond immediately to the needs of the recon teams in the field. The Exploit companies also often were deployed in the local areas around our base camp to seek out and destroy or disrupt the pervasive Viet Cong (VC) armed units seeking to overthrown the RVN government or local village or province officials. The infiltrating NVA units often reinforced the VC units to gain control over an area of uninhabited regions within the RVN borders. Thus our base camp and the launch sites, as well as other friendly military units, were often the target of enemy mortar and/or sapper attacks. No history of CCS or SOG is complete without stressing the total integration of the various “Air Assets” that supported our ground operations...

As explained by Richard Shultz in his well-researched book noted above, the new directive “Consisting of a “total of 72 (categories of) actions…(containing) a total of 2,062 separate operations,” to be executed in 1964, OPLAN34A constituted the basis for a major escalation of America's secret war.” (EN 1-6) That was the basis for MACV-Studies and Observation Group (MACV-SOG), which was created by MACV General Order #6 on January 24, 1964. The only forces with some training for such a mission were the CIA and the USA Special Forces (SF). When MACV-SOG was first created, there was hardly an existing organization upon which to build, with the exception of the CIA under the State Dept. and the Combined Studies Division (CSD) under MACV. The CSD had been formed in March 1960 with COL Gilbert Layton. The CSD was responsible for the three major Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) in I Corps, II Corps and III & IV Corps. As the CSD evolved, the CIDG organization was run by CIA Case officers, supplemented by temporary duty (TDY) SF personnel - with VNSF counterparts, who ran the Clandestine Operations (External and Internal). (EN 1-7) The SF training was primarily focused on counter-insurgency, with A, B & C teams who primarily helped organize and train those elements of the RVN public who could be placed in para- military units to control the countryside that was not directly occupied by the Army of Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Rather than counter-insurgency, what was needed was a covert Joint Unconventional Warfare Task force (JUWTF), following the Pentagon’s unconventional warfare doctrine. However, COL Russell found that the JUWTF concept was not accepted by the higher echelons of the Pentagon. (EN 1-8)

Endgame 2020

The SOG Organization, Commanders, Mission & Restrictions:

SOG was created as a joint and combined command. It had troops of two nations, and more than one service. It had every element of the armed forces. Personnel from the Army, Navy Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were all included. The CIA offered very little in the way of personnel and missions. They remained a “reluctant partner” only to the extent they deemed necessary to abide by the presidential mandates. One of the reasons SOG was able to accomplish such a long term remarkable record – in spite of some often absurd restrictions and a MACV headquarters that often seemed to ignore it’s own major international intelligence agency, is that it had such capable and experienced unconventional warfare operations leaders as the Commander of SOG, hereinafter referred to as “Chief SOG”. Because of the obvious prejudice of our senior Army generals in the Pentagon toward Special Forces oriented-officers at that time, they did not consider it necessary to designate this vital element of MACV to be worthy of general officer rank. As noted by Shultz, “Limiting the rank of Chief SOG imposed significant hurdles on the organization’s effectiveness.” Chief SOG should have been, at a minimum, a Brigadier slot.

Richard Shultz captured the essence of the problems of politics and restrictions on SOG in his interview with SOG’s COL Pezelle. Shultz said, “Here is a complication. In 1964, under Operational Plan 34A, Laos was considered part of what SOG thought would be it’s AO. When the plan was written it specifically designates Laos as a mission area. SOG is created in January 1964, however it is prohibited from operating in Laos against the Ho Chi Minh Trail until the fall of 1965. It is a year and a half later when they actually get the mission to use US-led teams against the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Why so long? The political aspects of the Vietnam War were outrageous. These include the Geneva conventions of 1962, which barred the participation of all foreign troops in Laos. That caused the end of White Star, and of course, in the never-ending competition between agency and the military in these types of operations, that gave the agency an opportunity to announce Laos as its sole domain. And, that allowed the ambassador in Laos to achieve a very, very strong position and he supported the agency. How were they able to do that given Switchback? Switchback and the National Security Directives that supported it— NSAM 55, 56 and 57—state that when a covert action becomes large that it has to be handed off to the military. Now, the CIA ended up with a pretty large covert operation in Laos….”

“The Ambassador to Laos and the CIA in Laos, with State Department backing, fought a winning battle to keep MACV out of Laos except for specific approved operations, how ridiculous. You have the twenty-kilometer zone (in Cambodia) and you had to notify him of every operation you had. Just on principal, do you wonder if there are any leaks anywhere or bad security? Then there is the process and the mechanism of having to go through all that when you wanted to go beyond your AO. You know very well that the agency is not operating there, but every time we wanted to go in beyond our AO, the agency said we had operations going in there.” (EN 1-17)

In May ‘66, COL “Jack” Singlaub took over as Chief SOG. Shultz characterized Singlaub as “SOG’s most creative commanding officer.” (EN 1-18) Singlaub had a great relationship with General Westmoreland who was Commander of MACV - COMUSMACV. The missions in Laos in ‘66 increased to 111, resulting in 15 POWs. More Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) were established for missions against Laos. COL Blackburn’s earlier pleas to Mrs. Alexander, the Pentagon’s SF NCO assignment officer, were beginning to pay off with better-qualified volunteers coming into SOG. Agent missions into North Vietnam were stopped because of ineffectiveness. MACV gave increased support for SOG in dedicated aircraft. The JCS grants authority for SOG to commence cross-border operations into Cambodia. Projects B-50 and B-56 Became OPCON to MACVSOG, and C5 became a separate SOG organization, after absorbing the B-50 & B-56. Then SOG officially takes OPCON of C5, B-56 and B-50; consolidate personnel at BMT. The three Command and Control Detachments were established under OP-35 control. COL Singlaub served as Chief SOG for two years.

COL Steve Cavanaugh succeeded Singlaub in Aug ‘68. Cavanaugh also served as Chief SOG for two years. Cavanaugh did a remarkable job of managing SOG when it was at the largest size in personnel and the most complex in scope of activities. His tour was marked by the most intense challenges to that time by the expanding NVA forces. The war was heating up and from the Allied forces had become conventional. But SOG is growing rather quickly, with a big budget, and somewhere around 2,000 Americans and 7,000 or 8,000 indigenous. This is a substantial Unconventional Warfare (UW) capability. Cavanaugh did not have to fight the old policy fights that the earlier Chiefs did. However, SOG had to contend with an enemy who had been establishing its bases and logistics avenues in Cambodia since 1959, along with infiltrating thousands of NVA troops into RVN. In addition to those infiltrating NVA troops, SOG’s big concern was that the NVA security forces along the Trail had grown to about 70,000 enemy troops whose main job was to prevent the SOG Recon Teams from gaining intelligence of the NVA infiltration and its growing bases in Cambodia & Laos...

COL Roger Pezzelle was head of OP-35 from July ‘71 until Feb ‘72. He gave his background in Schultze’s interview thusly, “He was one of the original Special Forces volunteers in 1952 - volunteering out of the 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division where he was the company commander. He served as an A Team leader with the original 10th Group as an A Team leader for the remaining five years that he was with the 10th. Next, in 1964, he was the Special Forces advisor at the Joint level in Thailand. There they ended up developing three camps in Thailand and training Thais’ in counter-insurgency operations in conjunction with the Thai Special Forces. In 1966 he was assigned as the deputy commander of the 6th Special Forces Group and then he returned to USA in 1967. At Ft. Bragg he became director of doctrine in 1968, and the first part of 1969. In January of 1969, there was a by-name request from Thailand from the chief asking for him to come be the senior advisor in the northeast. Then the ambassador to Thailand, Unger, asked him to come down to work in the embassy, in the counterinsurgency office. The first day of March 1971, SOG called and he became head of OP-30, replacing Pinkerton. Pinkerton went to OP-35, which he held until July. When Pinkerton left, Pezzelle became OP-35 in July ‘71...

The SOG Organization:

SOG’s organizational staff elements were commonly known by their numerical designations, such as “OP-10” or “OP-35”. For example, The Command Section was (MACSOG-00). The SOG divisional units were designated as follows: Personnel & Admin (MACSOG-10); Intelligence Division (MACSOG-20); Operations & Training Division (MACSOG-30); Logistics Division (MACSOG-49); Plans Divi- sion (MACSOG-50); Communications Division (MACSOG-60); Recovery Studies Division (MACSOG-80); Comptroller Division (MACSOG-90). The Operations Division was further broken down into branches and groups, as follows: Maritime Studies Branch (OP-31); Air Studies Section/Branch (OP-32); Psyops Studies Branch (OP-33); The Ground Studies Branch (OP-34), which was further broken down into the following Groups: Ground Studies Group (OP-35); Airborne Studies Group (OP-36); Maritime Studies Group (OP-37); and Psychological Studies Group (OP-39). The Communication Div. (MACSOG-60); was further broken down into two groups: the Radio Studies Group (OP-70); and the Air Studies Group (OP-75). Op-75 contained three units: the 15/90th Special Operations Squadron (SOS); the 20th Special Operations Squadron; and the 219th Helicopter Squadron (VNAF). (EN 1-26)

To put this in simpler terms, SOG had its own (or operational control over) Air Force assets, its own fleet of naval vessels; its own training facilities; Psychological Warfare experts; Communication Networks, etc, etc. As a Top-Secret unit it had to be self-sufficient. SOG was the most complex military organization in Southeast Asia. Its area of operation included Thailand, Laos, North Vietnam and Cambodia. As COL Cavanaugh explained, when he took over SOG in Sept ‘68, it was “very complex and I thought, a very sophisticated type of operation. I was awed by what (they) had put together…I was awed by the magnitudes of it. I had no concept that it existed.” (EN 1-27)

Initially the SOG operations were all focused in the northern area called Command and Control Detachment (DaNang) with LTC Ray Call as CO beginning in Sept ‘65. They operated from four different Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) – 1, 2, 3 & 4. Then, as of 11/01/68, SOG was prohibited from running agent operations of any type into North Vietnam. When the efforts of going into North Vietnam were diminished, it was realized that SOG had to concentrate its ground efforts to the RVN western border along the entire Ho Chi Minh Trail. This famous trail was actually a series of small roads or trails that were just inside the Laotian and Cambodian borders. It ran all the way from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam – diverting off into numerous sites along the RVN border area. In some spots the trail was more like a highway. Their infiltration convoys ranged from foot traffic, to bicycles or elephants loaded with supplies. They used very few vehicles in the central or southern areas but lots of bicycles and elephants.

That brought about the three operational reconnaissance ground commands known as Command & Control Detachments - divided into North, Central and South areas. They were under the direct control of the Commander of OP-35. Administratively, the 5th SFG(A) referred to them as C&C Detachment (Augmentation). Command and Control North (CCN), the most northern detachment, was in I Corps area, with Hqs at DaNang. It became operational in February ‘68. Therefore they focused on a relatively small but heavily defended area in southeast Laos for recon patrols and could be called on also for missions to try to rescue downed USAF & Navy pilots in Southern Laos and North Vietnam. Their area was much more tense than the others, because they covered the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bordering North Vietnam and the northern RVN border with Laos. This was in the area where the North Vietnamese started their efforts to infiltrate men and mate- rials southward down the Ho Chi Minh trail. In the Laotian part of the northern area there would be an accumulation of a massive amount of NVA troops and support weapons, including artillery and tanks. The terrain generally was very mountainous and heavily forested; more susceptible to inclement weather.

Command Control Central (CCC) was based in Kontum, in the northwest central highlands in the MACV II Corps area. They became operational in December ‘68. They took over the former FOB 2 from C&C DaNang. Their area of operations was from basically north of the east-west Highway 19, in the very northeastern corner of Cambodia area northward about 100 miles, to about Hwy 165 southern Laos. Command and Control South (CCS) was organized from the 5th SFG(A) elements known as C5, and Projects Omega (B-50) & Sigma (B-56), effective on or about November 1967, the date these elements became OpCon to SOG. They were given the majority of the area of operation (AO) known as Daniel Boone (DB) and later changed to Salem House (SH), which comprised the majority of the RVN border with Cambodia. Initially C5 & Sigma were located in Ho Ngoc Tau and Omega was based out of Nha Trang with its Mobile Launch Site (MLS) at Kontum. The Reaction Battalion, A-503, that supported Omega was located in Nha Trang. It was moved to Ban Me Thuot (BMT) on or about September ‘67. Its three Reaction/Exploit Companies would provide the manpower for the two Exploitation Companies and the Security Company when CCS was formed. In early June ‘68, CCS was unofficially formed when Chief SOG Singlaub appointed LTC Earl Trabue as its first commander and he was given instructions to move up to the city of Ban Me Thuot (BMT) in the Central Highlands. The base camp for Command and Control South (CCS) was established “from scratch” on the east side of Ban Me Thuot City. Trabue was to bring the elements together as soon as he could get the facilities built to accommodate them. Operationally, Sigma launched its Recon Teams from the Mobile Launch Site (MLS) at Ho Ngoc Tau, which was later moved to Quan Loi. They handled the targets in the southern half of DB/SH AO. Omega moved from Kontum to the MLS at BMT and they ran targets in the northern half of the DB/SH AO. CCS was operational on 06/15/68 and was “officially” formed on 02/11/69.

SOG’s Exemplary Air Support:

The Vietnam Conflict is one of the first recent wars that we have fought where we had complete air dominance throughout the theatre, right from the start. The South Vietnamese or RVN had their own air force, as did Thailand. Laos had no air force capability. North Vietnam’s only air force came from the Chinese and Russians MIGs. With the official entry of the US in the Conflict, the USAF and the US Navy’s carrier-based air forces dominated South Vietnam and Thailand and Laos. The North Vietnamese Air Force was minimal. But their extensive ground missiles system supplied by China and Russia gave them dominance of their air space. However, both the USAF and Navy Air attacked North Vietnam relentlessly during the entire period, but often at great losses. Cambodia had no military air force, as it was supposed to be a neutral nation. Both US and RVN fighters and bombers supported our ground operations in all of South Vietnam. The main aircraft from the RVN AF employed for ground operations were the A1E fighters and the H-34 “King- Bee” transport helicopters. The A1E and the Kingbees were used for SOG support mainly in the CCN & CCC “Shining Brass/Prairie Fire” AO. The two northern C&C detachments also got support from US Marine and Army helicopter gunships “in- country.” CCS used both transports (called ‘Slicks’) and gunships helicopters from US Army Assault Helicopter Companies (AHC) out of Quan Loi for the south and in the north out of BMT got its Slicks and Guns primarily from the USAF 20th Special Operations Squadron (20th SOS). After Pres. Nixon forbade US ground recon elements in Cambodia starting in July 1970, both CCS MLSs got the King- bees for transport.

All Allied ground units had constant support by the US Theatre Command and Control (C&C) aircraft that operated out of Thailand. This C-130 aircraft was jammed full with all kinds of communication gear. The C&C ship covered us every hour of every day in our Cambodian and Laotian areas of operation. Their call signs were “Hillsboro” in the daytime and “Moonbeam” at night. They not only covered the communications to the ground units but also monitored all air traffic from Thailand and South Vietnam. They also had the capability of picking up sound from the millions of listening devices dropped into enemy controlled areas in Laos and Cambodia. The C-130 C&C also controlled the fixed-wing gunships – the older AC-47 was called “Puff the Magic Dragon”, the AC-119 was called “Shadow” and the later AC -130 known as “Spectre.” The AC-47 & AC-119 had mini-guns in the left or the port side. The AC-130 had combinations of miniguns and howitzers – also on the port side. These fixed wing gunships could protect our friendly ground troops or village officials at night time by putting a wall of steel around our tight perimeters marked by our hand-held electronic identify devices known as transponders. The fire from all those fixed wing gunships provided an awesome and terrifying sight and sound in the middle of the night.

As noted earlier, no history of SOG or CCS is complete without stressing the total integration of the various indispensable “Air Assets” that gave direct support to our ground operations. This includes the US Air Force’s 14th Special Operations Wing (SOW) of the 7th AF that included the logistical support of its C123 & C-130 transport aircraft, known as the “Blackbirds” - black and unmarked and always available. Also under the 14th Special Operations Wing (SOW) was the USAF 20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS), as well as the USAF Forward Air Controllers (FACs). The 20th SOS was deployed – half in Thailand and half in RVN. They had the only USAF helicopter Gunships – armed with rocket pods and mini-guns for the two side door guns.

The main Air Assets supporting CCS were the helicopter transports or “Slicks” and the Gunships primarily from the USAF 20th SOS and US Army’s 195th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC), and to a lesser extent the 117th AHC, 155th AHC, 189th AHC, 230th AHC, 281st AHC and others. Our aerial recon and radio relay was provided by the 184th Recon Airplane Co., the 185th AVN Co, and the 219th AVN Co. More will be said by each of these units as they appear at various times in the chronological text.

The one unbelievably constant, effective and heroic air support that our CCS recon teams had was the Army & USAF helicopter Slicks and Gunships that bailed us out, time after time, day by day. Those assets were supported by the USAF Forward Air Controllers (FACs) and the Army Radio Relay/VR Fixed Wing aircraft. All were our “Team in the Air” every day. Once they inserted a team, they stayed on standby during daylight hours until they extracted that team. It greatly helped the coordination and teamwork to have these aviators living with our Launch Site Teams at the two MLS.

Of all the contributions of all our Air Partners, none were more important or prevalent in our memories than the “Huey” helicopter. This was the first war dominated by helicopters as the primary transportation for everyone moving about the country, and especially for assaults and recon by Army and Marine units. “While in Vietnam, the Huey flew approximately 7,457,000 combat assault sorties; 3,952,000 attack or gunship sorties and 3,548,000 cargo supply sorties. That comes to over 15 million sorties flown over the paddies and jungles of Viet Nam.” (EN 1-28) US Air Force Forward Air Controllers (FACs)

The nature of the SOG mission required an extraordinary amount of dedicated USAF FAC support, probably more than ever before in the Army’s history. FACs was used extensively in the Korean War as Air Force ground teams that accompanied the army units to which they were assigned. They generally rode in a Jeep or ¾ ton truck with large mounted radios; and they watched the battlefield with binoculars. In Vietnam, they piloted their own aircraft – watching and controlling the ac- tion from that perspective. The FACs were the eyes and ears of the commanders over the AO. Our FAC personnel were provided by the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS) in the southern launch site and by the 21st TASS in our northern area – each area getting the equivalent of a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). These TACPS included the aviators and maintenance, operations and communication personnel.

For security reasons, the USAF assigned these personnel “administratively” to major US Corps or Divisions – down to Brigade level near CCS. However, they were covertly OpCon to the CCS MLS Commanders and lived with us...

Endgame 2020

5TH Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project DELTA:

“Project DELTA was formed and headquartered in Nha Trang. Patterned after a joint Vietnamese and Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) reconnaissance project controlled by U.S. Special Forces, codenamed LEAPING LENA. Project DELTA was formed in October of 1964 to conduct the most hazardous and critical missions inside the country of South Vietnam. The organizational structure and make up of the teams was very similar to LEAPING LENA. However, unlike its predecessor, Project DELTA would prove to be one of the most successful in- country Special Operations units in the Vietnam War. In June of 1965, 5th Special Forces Group (A), Detachment B-52 was activated to act as a controller and headquarters element for the newly formed Project DELTA and its clandestine operations.”

“The mission of Project DELTA was to conduct special reconnaissance missions in corps areas that were designated jointly by COMUSMACV and the Vietnamese Joint Central Staff. The missions were conducted under operational control (OPCON) of a division or larger command. While the operational strength of B-52 varied and fluctuated during its history, typically it was comprised of 11 officers and 82 enlisted men from the U.S. Army Special Forces, a 105 man CIDG Nung Security Company responsible for Compound and TCC security and Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA), 20 officers and 78 enlisted men from the Vietnamese Special Forces, a 123 man CIDG Roadrunner Company and the RVN 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion made up of 43 officers and 763 enlisted men. The 81st Airborne Ranger Battalion was the reactionary force for Project DELTA. In most cases, elements of the 281st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) were attached OpCon for aviation support. Additionally, there were U.S. Air Force personnel assigned as Forward Air Controllers. Project DELTA traditionally employed indigenous civilians as maintenance and construction workers. Most of these workers were employed at Nha Trang but would occasionally be utilized in construction of Forward Operational Bases (FOB) and Mission Support Sites (MSS).”

“Upon receipt of an Operational Order, B-52 would be transported by C-130 to the area of operation to the pre-selected FOB or MSS. The 281st AHC (-) would self deploy to the FOB or MSS during the five day set-up period. Upon becoming operational Project DELTA utilized the following techniques and procedures to complete its mission for the Host unit:

a. Conducted long range and covert reconnaissance into denied areas.
b. Collected intelligence for tactical or strategic exploitation.
c. Planned and directed air strikes on normally inaccessible targets.
d. Conducted BDA in enemy controlled areas.
e. Utilized Reconnaissance-in-force missions against concealed enemy positions.
f. Executed hunter-killer missions at night using helicopter borne personnel with sniper scopes and starlite scopes.
g. Recovered allied POWs.
h. Captured enemy personnel for intelligence exploitation.
i. Employed wiretap procedures on enemy communication lines.
j. Mined enemy transportation routes.
k. Mislead enemy counterintelligence by using deceptive missions, mock ordnance devices, and dummy infiltrations.
l. Used harassing gas and smoke to channel enemy personnel into kill zones.
m. Conducted photo reconnaissance to include processing, printing, imagery interpretation and production of photo intelligence reports.
n. Assisted in psychological operations (PSYOPS).
o. Conducted airborne (Helicopter) personnel detector missions (SNIFFER).”

“The Recon Teams (combined USA SF and VN SF) and Roadrunner Teams (VN SF equipped with enemy uniforms, accouterments and weapons) were the primary source of intelligence collection for Project DELTA. Insertion of these teams for infiltration was accomplished in a covert manner by helicopter with techniques developed initially by the 145th AVN PLT and Project DELTA and refined by the 281st AHC. The insertions were usually made at twilight using four UH-1H Slicks and a Light Fire Team comprised of two UH-1C Gunships. The aircraft flew in a DELTA formation to the area of insertion maintaining high altitude. The LZ, generally a natural clearing, was selected during an over flight by the FAC and Team Leader prior to the day of planned infiltration. The lead aircraft was the C&C ship. The Aircraft Commander (AC) of the C&C aircraft would act as the Air Mission Commander (AMC). The Team was in the “hole ship”, and the other two Slicks would serve as recovery aircraft. Upon reaching the Release Point (RP) the “hole ship” would descend to treetop level and receive directions to the LZ from the C&C ship. A false insertion would be conducted either before or after the actual insertion as a diversionary tactic.”

“In heavily wooded areas, the Team would disembark the aircraft by means of rappelling or ladder depending on terrain and LZ conditions. During this phase of the operation, the Light Fire Team would remain at altitude with the FAC. The recovery aircraft orbited with C&C, prepared to recover the Team if the insertion was compromised or recover the crew of the whole ship if the aircraft was downed due to accident or enemy fire. An airborne FAC or other aircraft with communication equipment remained on station throughout the duration of the ground mission. The Team maintained radio contact by checking in at least three times a day via aerial radio relay to the FOB. In addition to the scheduled SITREPS, enemy sightings and other intelligence were transmitted immediately.”

“Extraction or exfiltration was accomplished in much the same manner as the insertion. After the Team was identified by means of predesignated codes the recovery operation proceeded. Depending on the terrain, weather, extent of wounds and enemy situation, the Team may be extracted with ladders, McGuire Rigs or Electric Hoist. In later years the McGuire Rigs were refined into the STABO Rig. If the LZ was “hot” - occupied by the enemy and the Team was in contact, the Team was usually extracted with the McGuire or STABO rig and flown to a secured area to be recovered into the aircraft.” “During its history, Project DELTA identified 68 enemy units, captured vast amounts of equipment and supplies and identified many major enemy installations and supply routes in RVN. Enemy losses attributed to B-52 during its operations include 338 KIA, 25 WIA and 69 POWs. Detachment B-52 was awarded the Valorous Unit Award, RVN Cross of Gallantry, RVN Civil Actions Honor Medal (PC) and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon. It was OpCon to the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 101st Airborne Division, 4th Infantry Division, 3rd Marine Division and the 5th ARVN Division as well as the CG, I CTZ; CG II CTZ; CG, III CTZ; I FFVN; II FFVN; II MAF; III MAF and Company A, 5th Special Forces Group. After conducting 55-60 separate operations, Project DELTA was deactivated in June of 1970. There are 29 former members of Project DELTA listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.”

Bob Noe cites several sources: Green Berets at War, Shelby Stanton; Special Forces in Southeast Asia, AAR Series, Steve Sherman; 281st AHC Unit History; Personal Memories of Bob Mitchell, Bandit 24.)” (EN 2-2) Also there is an excellent book on Project Delta, The Ether Zone, by R. C. Morris, with Foreword by General Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (EN 2-3) It should be noted that Project Delta had significant problems with the lack of consistent dedicated airlift Support units. Early on – in Aug 65, MAJ Charlie Beckwith obtained the 145th Airlift Platoon for Delta. A lot of nasty “turf battles” were fought over time with the parent 52nd AVN BN, MACV, & the 5th SFGA. The result was that the 281st AHC subsequently supplied most of Delta’s later chopper support. SOG learned its lesson from this, with the result that its C&C Detachments had consistent dedicated air support, with occasional substitutions due to maintenance and war damage problems, etc.

SFD B-50 Project Omega:

“About two years after Delta had been formed, the 5th SFGA formed Projects Omega B-50 and Sigma B-56, in anticipation that they would be used for cross- border (out-of-country) operations. Special Forces Detachment B-50 Project Omega was established in July 1966 and was initially based at Nha Trang - alongside 5th SFG Hqs, and later at Kontum and then Ban Me Thuot. Omega was created with the purpose of providing I Field Force Vietnam (IFFV) a means of long- range patrol and intelligence gathering in the far-flung remotest areas of their Corps tactical zones.”

“As with project Sigma (B-56), Project Omega was to have had a regular ARVN Ranger Battalion attached to it, similar to Project Delta. However, the 5th SFGA were unhappy with this arrangement and therefore provided it’s own forces in the form of three Mike Force companies. The Mike Force companies were called commando companies and were used as a reaction/exploitation forces to assist in the extraction of compromised teams, exploit small unit contacts, and provide base security.”

“B-50 was composed of four Road Runner teams that conducted long range reconnaissance on the enemy’s trail networks. (These were later increased to eight RR teams.) The Road Runner teams consisted of four indigenous men posing as local VC, and moved with impunity through a designated target area to a prearranged pick up point, observing enemy activity on the way. In 1968 the Road Runner teams were transferred to SFOD B-57 to continue their intel-gathering patrols. B-50 also initially had eight recon teams that conducted saturation patrols through designated reconnaissance zones. This was later increased to 16 teams.” (EN 2-4) “SFOD B-50 used Jah, Sedang, and Rhade Montagnards, and Cham and (ethnic) Chinese personnel in its units. Project Omega possibly had its own cloth patch although details of this are a bit sketchy. If one existed then it is thought it was based on the Greek “Omega” character and possibly had a parachute and lightning bolt on it with the words “Project Omega” above and below the parachute respectively.” (EN 2-5)

SFD B-56 Project Sigma:

“SFOD B-56 Project Sigma was formed a month later than B-50, in August, 1966, and was very similar in make up and operational procedure to B-50 Project Omega. Like Omega, Sigma was also created for the purpose of providing reconnaissance in the areas controlled by the VC. Again as with SFOD B-50 Omega, Sigma was also to have had an ARVN Ranger battalion attached to it, but this idea was vetoed by the SF and they supplied their own forces.”

“Located at camp Ho Ngoc Tao near Tu Duc, along Highway 1, between Saigon and Long Binh. SFOD B-56 Project Sigma had eight reconnaissance teams, three commando (reaction) companies and a 168-man Nung security company. The personnel for the commando companies, and reconnaissance teams were either eth- nic Cambodians or Nung mercenaries.”

“SFOD B-56 Project Sigma teams abducted POWs back from the enemy in the Fish Hook area of War Zone C. An enemy telephone line was located, tapped, and conversations recorded. Other teams placed electronic surveillance devices, set mechanical ambushes, and a host of electronic devices to hinder and harass the enemy along infiltration routes into South Vietnam.”

“SFOD B-56 Project Sigma’s Road Runner Teams were transferred over to SFOD B-57 Project Gamma in 1967. SFOD B-56 Project Sigma also assisted and acted as forward reconnaissance elements in several “Black Jack” operations that were conducted in its area of operations. In November 1967 operational control of SFOD B-56 was given directly to MACV whereupon B-56 was placed under the control of the II Field Force during those operations. SFOD B-56 Project Sigma was relocated to Ban Me Thuot in 1969 and merged into CCS.” (EN 2-9)

05/22/67 – The JCS granted authority for SOG to commence cross-border operations into Cambodia, under the code name “Daniel Boone.” Authority was granted by the JCS to commence cross-border Operations into Cambodia under the code name DANIEL BOONE. Cross-border operations into Cambodia commenced in mid-year 1967 in the DANIEL BOONE AO. Although restricted in team numbers, areas of operation and combat capability; valuable intelligence on infiltration routes and enemy sanctuaries resulted from DANIEL BOONE reconnaissance missions. (EN 2-14)



'US Elite - Special Forces Operative Command and Control South Saigon, Mekong Delta, Cambodia Border Excellent Vietnam War, Special Forces ID Card Prior to the Introduction by MACV - SOG of the Command...'

+ MACV-SOG - CCS Special Forces - ID CARD - Vietnam War - BLACK OPS - BAN ME THUOT (2011):

Daniel Boone Area of Operations: Procedures & Restrictions:

“The following Restrictions were imposed for Ops under the code name DANIEL BOONE:

(1) Operations were limited, to Area 1, defined as that portion of Cambodia east of the line formed by the following grid coordinates: YB-500130 at the Cambodian/Laotian border to YA-320580 thence along a line parallel to, but two kilometer north of the Southeast San River to YA-660280 at the Cambodian/RVN border.
(2) Reconnaissance teams, only, may be committed and may not exceed an overall strength of 12 men, to include not more than three U.S. advisors.
(3) Tactical air strikes and/or the commitment of exploitation forces are not authorized across the border.
(4) Infiltration and exfiltration of Cambodia will be by foot; exfiltration by helicopter is authorized only in emergency situations.
(5) Duration of infiltration will be held to the minimum time required for investigation of the target area.
(6) Teams will take all possible precautions to avoid contact with Cambodian military forces and the civilian populace of the area.
(7) Purpose of the operation is intelligence collection and/or verification.
(8) No more than three reconnaissance teams may be committed into Cambodia at any one time.
(9) The total number of missions could not exceed ten in any 30-day period.” (EN 2-15)

“The 240th AHC operated about thirty UH1 “Huey” helicopters from their main operating base at Bearcat, Vietnam. During the early spring of 1968 about eight of their aircraft and crews were attached to Project Sigma’s Detachment B-56 of the 5th AFGA to support that unit’s top-secret covert operations into Cambodia. Several months later, it was this detachment of the 240th that fought the battle that Roy Benavidez came to call “Six Hours In Hell.” Over thirty-six members of the 240th AHC participated in the Benavidez Medal of Honor Incident. They started the emergency extraction with four gunships and four slicks, but were reduced to three operational aircraft by the time Roy Benavidez had joined the mission. Three members of the 240th AHC gave their lives for their country and their comrades on 05/02/68, during the action in Cambodia for which Roy Benavidez was awarded the Medal of Honor. Thirty-three others of the 240th gave and survived heroic performances that day.” We do not know of any subsequent missions for B-50 or B-56, C5 or CCS that were flown by the 240th. (EN 2-20)

At Song Be, a few Second Platoon “Slicks” and a couple of “Thunder Chicken” Gunships supported the Special Forces recon teams. It was at this early juncture our aircraft had the troop seats removed and the McGuire rigs and rope ladders installed. The second platoon had aircraft and crews assigned to the SOG missions in Song Be; we also kept a contingent of aircraft back at Long Binh for various other missions. The crews would be rotated periodically to give everyone a chance to take part in the SOG missions and to give us a chance to get back to Long Binh. On 12/15/67, the Slicks and the Gunships left Song Be and proceeded one hundred miles north to Ban Me Thuot to begin another SOG mission with another Special Forces unit. These missions took us into Cambodia quite a number of times. We shared this operation with the only Air Force “Huey” unit in Viet Nam. This operation kept us at Ban Me Thuot until 12/30/67, then we returned to Long Binh. C5 officially became a separate SOG organization on 01/01/68, after absorbing and merging the Projects Omega and Sigma; C5 & sigma remained at HNT. In mid-year, SOG was given operational control of C5, B-56 and B-50, and ordered all personnel - over time, moved to Ban Me Thuot (BMT).

The 189th was just one (1) unit of the largest Aviation Battalions ever formed; the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion (CAB) “The Flying Dragons” was subordinate to the 17th Combat Aviation Group (CAG). The 17th CAG was subordinate to the 1st Aviation Brigade, the largest Army Aviation organization formed since World War II. The 1st Aviation Brigade was comprised of several Groups, each having several Battalions.

The gun ship pilots with their usual hefty amount of bravado decided to seek their combat fortunes using the call sign ‘AVENGERS’. The slick pilots followed the theme by selecting ‘GHOST RIDER’. On 06/15/67, the 189th AHC became operational, to primarily support the 4th Inf Div. On 09/15/67, the 189th was reassigned from direct support of the 4th Inf Div to general support of the Central Highlands. These missions included the support of II Corps, 5th SFG and 52nd Artillery Battalion. Operations Omega and Prairie Fire were also included.

On 10/01/67, the 189th was in support of Operation Prairie Fire, the high stakes, top secret, cross border reconnaissance game. Across the border in Laos and Cambodia, the rules were much different and the standards expected of pilots much higher. Normal military protocol, rank, etc. were subordinated as natural leaders proved they were up to the challenge. Friendships formed, based on trust and mutual interdependence. Foremost was the determination by all participants that they would stick to the bitter end of the mission to ensure no friendly forces were left behind in enemy territory. This marked the start of a classified mission for the 189th with the 5th SFG out of FOB-2 at Kontum. This mission required all the skill, techniques, and proficiency the pilots and crews could muster. Charlie was not to be laughed at.

During the period of 10-31 October 1967, the first platoon of the 281st AHC provided three (3) UH-ID’s for operations at Kontum in support of Project Omega. Staging out of Kontum, the aircraft were utilized in the daily shuttle of a seventy two-man reaction force to New Dak To and to stand by daily to insert the reaction force in areas where the LRRP detected enemy activity. Three (3) assaults were made northwest of New Dak To into mountainside landing zones. During this period of 15-21 October there were several reports of small arms fire directed at aircraft in an area twenty (20) kilometers NE of Dak To. With excellent gun coverage given by the AVENGERS and the GHOSTRIDERS they continued to operate successfully and effectively on the FOB 2 mission.

From 19 October – 9 November 1967, they supported the 5th SFG (Prairie Fire) in a primary mission of re-supply and liaison. The unit in addition conducted several combat assaults. The area of operations was southwest of Kontum, where the assaults were flown into mountain landing zones. On one such assault, a 281st AHC aircraft killed one (1) enemy. On 9 November the aircraft were withdrawn to Pleiku, where they once again flew in support of the 52nd CAB. On 10/28/67, an AVENGER gunship received three (3) hits by ground fire in vicinity of Dak To. One (1) crewmember WIA and aircraft continued to fly.

Omega Operations terminated on 10/30/67 with all GHOSTRIDERS returning to Camp Holloway. Many pilots were looking forward to continue this mission in the future. Immediately the next day and concurrently while supporting the 4th Inf. Div., the 189th again received a top priority mission of supporting Command and Control South (CCS). This mission began on 11/01/69 and continued through the end of the year. They would support others during 1968 but were called upon again to support CCS in November ‘69 and in June ‘70, with fine results. The 189th lost one man in Nov ‘69 and three more men supporting CCS in June ‘70. The 189th AHC was inactivated 03/15/71 in Vietnam. (EN 2-24) 4th Platoon, 219th AVN Co. 52nd AVN BN, 17th AVN Gp, 1st AVN Brigade

In July ‘70, with the change in CCS AO requirement that forbids US SF recon from crossing the Cambodian border, there were many changes in addition to just the ARVN making those cross-border missions. Another major change to the Northern Launch Site was the assignment of the 4th Platoon of the 219th Aviation Company to provide four O1-G observation aircraft to MLS - on a daily basis. They were based in BMT West Field, with Co Hqs in Kontum. They were used for the conduct of daily HI-LO visual and photographic missions over Cambodia, as well as in support of CCS/TF3AE ground recon and exploitation operations. Although they were a small group, they were fearless – even accounting for several POWs. This air support by the 219th continued until at least 09/26/71 when the TF3AE Commander LTC Robert T. Holden signed a Letter of Unit Commendation to the CO of the 219th. (EN 2-25)

The CCS AO & Unit Locations:

The southernmost SOG ground detachment was Command Control South (CCS) based in Ban Me Thuot (BMT) in the southern Vietnam Highlands, also in the MACV II Corps area. As you may note, BMT is not too far north of where the north-south Cambodian/RVN border bends fairly sharply to the west. The CCS area of operations (AO) was pretty extensive and we referred to the central part of it as “the Wasteland” as it had some large open areas. The outstanding book by MAJ John L. Plaster, SOG, The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, described the Wasteland as a “50 mile long zone that began at Highway 19, opposite the RVN highland city of Pleiku, running south” to just north of the heavily forested Fishhook area. The Fishhook area had “triple canopy jungles, where the NVA concealed major sanctuaries that paralleled South Vietnam’s III Corp region. The Fish- hook area was “one area of particularly heavy enemy concentrations, where Cambodia protruded 10 miles into South Vietnam, near Loc Ninh.” (EN 2-26) The other major area NVA staging area, known as the Parrot’s Beak, was on the far western border of RVN. The Beak area protruded into RVN like a dagger extending barely 30 miles toward the RVN capitol city of Saigon. The NVA based three or four infantry divisions here, north and northwest of Saigon.

The central Wasteland area got its name because it was comparatively devoid of water and much vegetation. North of the Wasteland, infiltration was along the forested Ho Chi Minh trail that ran north through Laos to North Vietnam. The NVA also got much of their supplies surreptitiously through the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, SW of the Beak. The Cambodians civilians and military were generally not in the immediate area adjacent to the South Vietnamese border, but further in- land. So our Recon Teams never had to worry about friendly or neutral troops or civilians in the cross-border areas we ran recon missions in. Anyone we found in our AO were considered the enemy, although we knew some native Cambodians had been “drafted” by the NVA to help as porters to help transport their supplies. Both the Fishhook and Parrots Beak contained huge staging areas and supply depots and hospitals. This southern area was considered “very hot” for our recon missions because of its density of NVA troops and supplies that were finally fully revealed by the Allied Invasion of Cambodia in May & June, 1970.

The C&C units were organized, per SOG Documentation Study, as follows: “The C & C Detachments are US-commanded and operated. ARVN counterpart staffs have functioned in recruiting SCU personnel, providing security checks on their personnel and keeping the US C&C Det Commander informed of information and directives passed to them by the Liaison Service in Saigon. The ARVN C & C Det staffs are being encouraged to take a more active part in administrative, opera- tional, and support planning and mission coordination.”

“Presently, there are two basic types of Reconnaissance Teams (RT), US-led and ARVN-led. ARVN personnel often serve on US led RTs. US personnel are not placed subordinate to ARVN personnel. After a period of training and evaluation by US Commanders and RT leaders, ARVN RT leaders are selected and their teams formed. They receive additional training to mold them as a team before they are sent on a mission.” “There are no ARVN commanded Exploitation Forces at this time.” (EN 2-27)

The First Six Months of Daniel Boone Operations – July – Dec 1967:

We get information from Sherman’s Disc (CD), MACSOG/dbops.pdf, starting at pg 16 and ending on pg 29 on 29 Dec 67 - has a listing that shows name of teams, insert date and location, target #, and extract date and location (grid coordinates, and then results. It shows in-country entry point vs. Cambodia Or Laos. Subse- quent pages show aircraft incidents and then award missions with monthly sum- maries. Also Robert Noe’s MACV-SOG web site lists all of the report details for each mission. It should be noted that many of the missions showed inserts in either RVN or Laos but the intent was to cross the border into Cambodia. One of the reasons for this is that it allowed the use of Tac Air support if contact was made in RNV or Laos. While artillery was available in some cases, it was never used because prior registration might have given away LZ insert locations. Many did not enter Cambodia because they ran into enemy contact before they got to the border and that necessitated early extraction. The summary record for teams launched/teams who entered Cambodia was as follows: July 7/4; August 7/2; September 11/8; October 12/9; November 19/15; December 49/25; totals for period 99/63. (EN 2-28)

{Ed. Note – Ref Awards Missions: There were 99 missions but only the team members got individual awards on only 19 missions. Thus less than 20% of the missions got awards from enemy contact situations. Therefore during this six- month period about four out of every five missions did not get awards, which means they either had to abort because of insertion injuries or members became ill or injured on the mission, or were able to complete missions without significant enemy contact. Another factor would be that initially the Top Secret nature of our Special Ops operations caused the unit Hqs to fail to give very many awards. In addition, our units were strictly geared to the most dangerous of operations. The men who ran recon were not of the “mind-set” to write up award recommendation for each other “just doing their jobs.” That attitude changed over time, but never to the level we should have achieved. When our men went back to the ‘Stateside world’ and had to stand in formation next to men who fought in conventional units in RVN that pushed the awards system, it tended to put our men at a significant disadvantage for promotion and assignments. And our men were forbidden to say what they had been doing in RVN, so it was some time before word got around as to what an assignment in SOG units really meant.}

The Partial Results of the ’67 Daniel Boone AO on Air Operations is Noted.

“a. During the first 6 months of 1967, SOG missions averaged twenty per month in the DANIEL BOONE, PRAIRIE FIRE/NICKEL STEEL areas. The DANIEL BOONE area of operation came under SOG control in June of 1967. With the increased tempo of operation in PRAIRIE FIRE/NICKEL STEEL and the addition of DANIEL BOONE targets, the average missions per month have more than doubled for the last six months of 1967.”
“b. The helicopter assets used in this area of operation now total 30 troop carriers and 20 gunships. Comparing this to assets used early in the year, the figures have quadrupled. The name Daniel Boone would subsequently be changed to SALEM HOUSE, and numerous changes were made slowly over time to loosen the restrictions in the AO.” (EN 2-29)



'OPERATION / PROJECT GAMMA MACV-SOG - Special Operations / Forces Agent - ID CARD Andrew W. Sussex SFC O-Positive RA - 4354 6678 Measures - 5 x 4.4 inches ( 12.5 x 11 cms ) MACV-SOG Stamp - Embossed Rare - Vietnam War Original . Project Gamma. Project Gamma, Elite of the Elite. Project Gamma was set up as an information / intelligence collection element of the 1st Special Forces specifically focused on activities and location of Viet Cong and supporting factions within Cambodia and included highly classified (most Black Ops) activities within Cambodia. Initiated, officially in June 1967 (although as a CIA action had been active long before this time) it was utilised to provide recon information on the North Vietnamese Army entering and attacking allied forces from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Commencing operations from Saigon, by mid 1968 US Special Forces, Special Operations and MACV-SOG had moved Detachment B-57 to the Mike Force Command Centre at Nha Trang which allowed more rapid action from the combined US Special Forces and Indigenous operatives of the MObile Strike Force Units (Mike Force). In April 1968, detachment B-57 became known as Project Gamma. Project Gamma were the commanding element of operatives directing attacks inside Cambodia and the command centre moved, with a Mike Force battalion to both Duc Co and Duc Lap (II Corps Military Tactical Zone) and with half a battalion of Mike Force each to Tay Ninh (III Corps Military Tactical Zone) and Chau Doc (IV Corps Military Tactical Zone). Project Gamma had a strength of only 50 Operatives at any one time and all were cleared to the highest level of intelligence access and reported directly to MACV and from there directly to the White House. Most operatives of Project Gamma operated under pseudonyms, acquiring rank, uniform and mission as they thought fit, many operated alone. Such was the importance and level of classification of Project Gamma that US Special Forces Operatives assigned carried identification documents that read; Special Identification and Pass. The Person who is identified by this document is acting under the direct orders of the President of the Unites States ! Do Not Detain or Question Him ! He is authorized to wear Civilian Clothing, carry unusual personal weapons, transport and possess prohibited items including US Currency, Pass into Restricted Areas and Requisition Equipment of All Types including Weapons and Vehicles. If he is killed or injured, do not remove this document from him. Alert Your Commanding Officer Immediately. Vietnam War Original '


07/08-09/67 - MARCH I Series of Recon Ops Conducted in Cambodia.

There would be a series of “MARCH” operations where Omega would run RT missions in Cambodia under Opcon to SOG’s newly created DANIEL BOONE AO, starting from its FOB launch site next to the Plei Djereng airstrip. These series of missions would be Omega’s longest and last independent operation, ending on 10/30/67. The next day both SIGMA and OMEGA would be assigned to MACV- SOG and eventually relocated to Ban Me Thuot. (EN 2-32)

09/24-27/67 – Recon, RT MALLET insert into Target W-50 in Cambodia.
Inserted at YA570510 and extracted at YA565503, with mission completed
09/27-28/67 – Recon, RT MITER, insert into Target B-51 in Cambodia.
Inserted at YA559590 and extracted at YA570582 due to contact.
09/28-30/67 – Recon, RT BENCH, insert into K-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YB719049 and extracted at YB714035 due to one US SF became ill.
09/29-10/03/67 – Recon, RT BRACE insert into O-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YA602868 and extracted at YA 603881, with mission completed.
09/30-10/05/67 – Recon, RT NAIL insert into S-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YA559510 and extract at YA565532, with a US SF ill.
09/24-27/67 – Recon, RT MALLET insert into Target W-50 in Cambodia.
Inserted at YA570510 and extracted at YA565503, with mission completed
09/27-28/67 – Recon, RT MITER, insert into Target B-51 in Cambodia.
Inserted at YA559590 and extracted at YA570582 due to contact.
09/28-30/67 – Recon, RT BENCH, insert into K-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YB719049 and extracted at YB714035 due to one US SF became ill.
09/29-10/03/67 – Recon, RT BRACE insert into O-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YA602868 and extracted at YA 603881, with mission completed.
09/30-10/05/67 – Recon, RT NAIL insert into S-50 Cambodia.
Inserted at YA559510 and extract at YA565532, with a US SF ill.

“At that moment SFC Shriver contacted the FAC, declared a ‘Daniel Boone Emergency’ (the codename for “team in trouble in Cambodia”) and told him of their now-desperate situation informing him that he was in contact with an estimated enemy platoon, with the enemy yelling that the rest of the company would join them soon. At the same time, SFC Shriver knew from the FAC that the “Green Hornet” Gunships were about to arrive and he was yelling back at the enemy telling them to surrender or they would be the ones to be wiped out.”

The SnakeBite project was instituted in the early CCS days to reinforce the SOG forces when we had a hard time getting enough volunteers through the 5th SFGA in Nha Trang. We’ve no record of where most of these men were assigned within the Omega element that had just become under the OpCon of SOG and placed with C-5 Hqs at Ban Me Thuot..'

+ Secret Green Beret Commandos In Cambodia: MACVSOG's Command & Control Detachment South (CCS) And Its Air Partners, Republic of Vietnam, [1967-1972] (2012):

typehost's picture


'Operation Commando Hunt was a covert U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 aerial interdiction campaign that took place during the Vietnam War. The operation began on 11 November 1968 and ended on 29 March 1972. The objective of the campaign was to prevent the transit of People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) personnel and supplies on the logistical corridor known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail (the Truong Son Road to the North Vietnamese) that ran from the southwestern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) through the southeastern portion of the Kingdom of Laos and into the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

Systematic U.S. aerial operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trail had begun on 14 December 1964 with Operation Barrel Roll. With the onset of Operation Rolling Thunder, the strategic aerial bombardment of North Vietnam in April 1965, the U.S. also expanded its interdiction effort in Laos by dividing the Barrel Roll area into two sections on 3 April. The former operation would continue in northeastern Laos while Operation Steel Tiger was initiated in the southern panhandle. The American headquarters in Saigon requested, and received, authorization to control bombing in the area adjacent to South Vietnam's northern provinces in Operation Tiger Hound on 3 December 1965. The U.S. Air Force had already begun to up the ante in its anti-infiltration campaigns by unleashing B-52 Stratofortress bombers against the trail in December 1965. From April through June 1966 there were 400 B-52 anti-infiltration sorties against the system. The PAVN countered this effort by concentrating more anti-aircraft artillery weapons within its logistical network. Between 1964 and the end of 1967 there were 103,148 tactical air sorties launched against the trail, including 1,718 B-52 strikes. During the same timeframe 132 U.S. aircraft or helicopters were shot down over Laos.

And so matters stood until the massive PAVN/NLF Tet Offensive of early 1968. Although a tactical victory for American and South Vietnamese forces, Tet became a political disaster. The American public (who had been reassured by President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Pentagon that the communists were incapable of launching any such actions) were stunned by the size and ferocity of the offensive. The light at the end of the tunnel had been extinguished, if it had ever existed at all. The president, in an attempt to nudge Hanoi to the negotiating table, decreed an end to bombing operations in North Vietnam north of the 20th parallel, effectively ending Rolling Thunder on 11 November 1968. What this effectively did was shift the bombing campaign southwestward to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The interdiction campaign against the enemy logistics corridor was massively expanded due to the increased number of U.S. aircraft (approximately 500 planes) made available by the closure of Rolling Thunder. By November 1968 bombing missions over southern Laos had climbed by 300 percent, from 4,700 sorties in October to 12,800 in November. By the end of the conflict, U.S. and South Vietnamese aircraft would drop over three million tons of ordnance on Laos, three times the total tonnage dropped on North Vietnam. The new campaign against the trail was unprecedented, and not just due to the numbers sorties flown or munitions expended. The U.S. was going to field its latest technology in its attempt to prevent the North Vietnamese from toppling the South Vietnamese government.

As early as 1966 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara had become increasingly disenchanted with the bombing of the north. No amount of pressure, it seemed, could either drive Hanoi to the negotiating table or slow the flow of PAVN supplies and men to the south. He then began to consider an alternative in the form of a physical strongpoint/electronic barrier to infiltration that would stretch below the Demilitarized Zone from the coast to the Laotian frontier (and possibly beyond). This was the origin of the so-called "McNamara Line." The physical barrier was to be backed up by air-dropped and hand-emplaced acoustic and seismic sensors that would provide both warning and location of enemy movements. A scientific group was established to find or develop the technology for what was initially titled Practice Nine. On 17 June 1967 the title of the program was altered to Illinois City and on 15 July to Dyemarker, the electronic barrier portion of which was designated Muscle Shoals. In June 1968 it was renamed for the last time, becoming Operation Igloo White.

Igloo White consisted of three interrelated parts. The battery-operated sensors would be monitored by an airborne command and control center (ABCCC), which would relay the information to an infiltration surveillance center (ISC), located at Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand. Computers at the ISC would collate and analyze the data and then relay target coordinates to the ABCCC which would, in turn, direct strike aircraft to the targets. The hand emplacement of sensors and bomb damage assessment missions were to be carried out by the reconnaissance teams of the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (SOG), which already operated "over the fence" in Laos. Construction began on the ISC on 6 July 1967 and was completed within three months. The anti-infiltration effort would be supported by MSQ-77 Combat Skyspot, a ground-based radar bombing system first introduced in Southeast Asia in 1966 to direct B-52 strikes in poor weather or in complete darkness. This system was utilized to direct one-quarter of all strike missions conducted by U.S. aircraft during the conflict. Combat Skyspot was complemented by expanding the radio-based LORAN system utilized by other strike aircraft.

A shakedown of the system took place during the first two weeks of November 1967 and it seemed to work. The PAVN siege of the U.S. Marines at the Khe Sanh Combat Base, in western Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, provided the opportunity for an operational test. The American command in Saigon launched Operation Niagara, the largest tactical and B-52 operation thus far in the conflict, to support the Marines at Khe Sanh.[19] By the end of January 1968, Muscle Shoals had emplaced 316 sensors in 44 strings to detect PAVN troop movements in the vicinity of the combat base. The operation was deemed a success, but locating and targeting enemy troops moving toward a fixed location like Khe Sanh was not the same as doing it on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And there were already problems with the system. The anti-personnel portion of the program had already failed. The presence and movements of enemy troops were to be detected by the utilization of small, wide-area Gravel mines that were to alert the acoustic sensors. Unfortunately, the mines rapidly deteriorated in the heat and humidity of Laos, nullifying their effectiveness. The focus of any interdiction campaign, therefore, would have to concentrate on PAVN supply transportation. The war against trucks was about to begin.

As early as 1966 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara had become increasingly disenchanted with the bombing of the north. No amount of pressure, it seemed, could either drive Hanoi to the negotiating table or slow the flow of PAVN supplies and men to the south. He then began to consider an alternative in the form of a physical strongpoint/electronic barrier to infiltration that would stretch below the Demilitarized Zone from the coast to the Laotian frontier (and possibly beyond). This was the origin of the so-called "McNamara Line." The physical barrier was to be backed up by air-dropped and hand-emplaced acoustic and seismic sensors that would provide both warning and location of enemy movements. A scientific group was established to find or develop the technology for what was initially titled Practice Nine. On 17 June 1967 the title of the program was altered to Illinois City and on 15 July to Dyemarker, the electronic barrier portion of which was designated Muscle Shoals. In June 1968 it was renamed for the last time, becoming Operation Igloo White.

Igloo White consisted of three interrelated parts. The battery-operated sensors would be monitored by an airborne command and control center (ABCCC), which would relay the information to an infiltration surveillance center (ISC), located at Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand. Computers at the ISC would collate and analyze the data and then relay target coordinates to the ABCCC which would, in turn, direct strike aircraft to the targets. The hand emplacement of sensors and bomb damage assessment missions were to be carried out by the reconnaissance teams of the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (SOG), which already operated "over the fence" in Laos. Construction began on the ISC on 6 July 1967 and was completed within three months. The anti-infiltration effort would be supported by MSQ-77 Combat Skyspot, a ground-based radar bombing system first introduced in Southeast Asia in 1966 to direct B-52 strikes in poor weather or in complete darkness. This system was utilized to direct one-quarter of all strike missions conducted by U.S. aircraft during the conflict.[17] Combat Skyspot was complemented by expanding the radio-based LORAN system utilized by other strike aircraft.'


Igloo White


'"The MUSCLE SHOALS (IGLOO WHITE) program was initiated on 16 September 1966, with a decision by Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, to develop a system to interdict North Vietnamese infiltration into South Vietnam. The program, as envisioned, included two closely related systems: (1) a strong point/obstacle subsystem to be deployed in a line across Vietnam, just below the DMZ, extending inland from the coast; and (2) an air-supported anti-infiltration subsystem extending westward from the strong point/obstacle subsystem into central Laos to include the I- area of the Ho Chi Minh Trail from North Vietnam through central and eastern Laos into South Vietnam (Fig. 1). By the end of 1966, a plan ij had been prepared and funds for the program were budgeted. The initial sensor program was called PRACTICE NINE until 14 June 1967, ILLINOIS CITY until 15 July 1967, and DYE MARKER until 8 September 1967, when MUSCLE SHOALS was adopted to indicate the air-supported subsystem in eastern and central Laos. In June 1968, the program was renamed IGLOO WHITE and consisted of three components: (1) munitions and sensing devices which were placed across and along suspected routes of infiltration to detect and impede enemy foot or vehicular movement; (2) orbiting aircraft which received signals from these sensors, amplified them, and retransmitted them; and (3) an Infiltration Surveillance Center (ISC) which received the transmitted signals from the aircraft and analyzed them to produce reliable tactical information for planning and interdiction operations. The IGLOO WHITE system was originally expected to impede enemy infiltration through use of minefields and aid in determining when mine reseeding was necessary. Sensors were also to be used along trails and roads to provide real time target information for 3 tactical airstrikes. By July 1968, the munitions had proved to be relatively ineffective, and the use of sensors to obtain reconnaissance information was rapidly becoming the principal objective of the IGLOO WHITE system.'

Igloo White

'The Defense Communications Planning Group's research and development program created an advanced technological system. Muscle Shoals would consist of three interdependent parts. First, there were air-dropped, battery-powered acoustic and seismic sensors. The camouflaged sensors were to be dropped in strings at predetermined geographical points along the PAVN logistical network. Once emplaced, they would serve as tripwires to any movement or activity along the system. The first sensors utilized by the program were Air-Delivered Seismic Intrusion Detector (ADSID), which had been developed from devices then in use in underground mapping for the oil industry. The device could sense vertical earth motion by the use of an internal geophone and could determine whether a man or a vehicle was in motion at a range of 33 yards (30 m) and 109 yards (100 m) respectively. The first acoustic sensors were developed from the U.S. Navy's Project Jezebel anti-submarine warfare sonobuoys, which recorded and processed sound by the utilization of an audio spectrum analyzer. The first model of seismic detectors (Phase I) outshone their contemporary acoustic types in the quality and quantity of the information they reported. The Phase I models of both the acoustic and seismic sensors were only available for operation in a continuous mode, which meant that under normal conditions, their lithium batteries would function for approximately 30 days. The Acoustic Seismic Intrusion Detector (ACOUSID), combined the operations of both seismic and acoustic devices, with the added ability to transmit sound from a built-in microphone. The ACOUSID had three switchable detection modes: in the C mode, a line spectrum detector determined the presence of enemy vehicles and had an effective range of 1,094 yards (1,000 m); an I Mode which was activated by sounds picked up by its internal microphone and could detect personnel at a range of 438 yards (401 m); and a B Mode that combined both of the above abilities and operated in a continuous real-time mode of 40 activations per hour with a battery life of 30 days. The sensors reported their data via radio frequency channels ranging upward from 162 megahertz (MHz) to 174 MHz on the very high frequency band. 31 channels were assigned to each type of sensor with a 375 kHz separation between each channel. Every channel contained 27 identification codes or addresses which could be set in the field prior to emplacement. Thus, a total of 837 individual sensors (27x31) could be deployed at any one time without signal duplication in a single operational zone. The deployment of Gravel mines and the Wide-Area Anti-Personnel Mine System became integral parts of the operation. Other weapons were specifically developed or otherwise became associated with the campaign as well. These notably included the BLU-31/B and Mk 36 air-dropped mines, BLU-43/B and BLU-44/B landmine system (Dragontooth), the BLU-72/B fuel-air explosive (Pave Pat), and the BLU-52/A chemical bomb (filled with bulk CS-2 powder). Anti-vehicle operations in support of Muscle Shoals/Igloo White were designated Mud River, while anti-personnel operations received the codename Dump Truck. PAVN personnel moving on foot through the trail system would be detected by the detonation of air-sown, aspirin-sized, wide-area Gravel mines, which would activate the sensors. Subsequent bomb damage assessment missions and hand emplacement of sensors and mines in support of Muscle Shoals would be carried out by the reconnaissance teams of the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (SOG). A number of hand emplaced units were developed for this role, including the MICROSID and MINISID, and a device designed to work with either called MAGID, a magnetic detector, designed to be triggered by amounts of metal as small as an infantry rifle. The sensors were designed for air deployment by either of two means. The first was by parachute, which would hang the devices in trees, where they appeared to be part of the foliage. The second method was the use of gravity, which would drive the spike-shaped device into the ground like a lawn dart, burying all but their antennae, which were designed to appear as weeds. Surprisingly, approximately 80 percent of the air-dropped sensors were found to be operational after delivery. The second phase of sensor development improved the older models by providing for non-continuous operation as directed by the ISC. They also had the capability of carrying out three separate reporting functions: to report current information (transmitting noises or earth tremors); to keep silent, but to count impulses and respond when queried; or to remain in constant operation like the Phase I models. Their batteries also provided the ability to operate for approximately 15 days longer than the Phase I models (45 days). During late 1969, Phase IV sensors began to be deployed in-theater. These had a greater number of available communications channels, which allowed the seeding of a larger sensor field without fear of signal interference. By 1971–1972 a new sensor with a commandable microphone (COMMMIKE III) and another with a vehicle ignition detector (EDET III, which could detect the unshielded ignition systems of gasoline engines) were introduced. In 1972 U.S. dollars the ADSID cost $619.00, the ACOUSID $1,452.00, and the engine detector $2,997.00. During the life of the operation approximately 20,000 sensors were deployed in Laos.'

'The sensor transmitters would relay their data to the second element of the system, an orbiting EC-121R aircraft of the Air Force's 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, based at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. The EC-121s would then relay the collected information via a radio link at 2200 to 2300 MHz to Nakhon Phanom. At Task Force Alpha, the last of the three components in the system, the intelligence data (from a variety of sources, not just the sensors) would be entered, collated, retrieved, and stored by two IBM 360/40 (later two 360/65) computers. Technicians at the center controlled the system from a variety of video displays that were also linked to the computers. Analysts at the 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) center concentrated on such arcane topics as pathway predictions, delay intervals, route segments, and choke points. The computers analyzed sensor data and compiled intelligence information and then made predictions as to where and when a particular PAVN truck convoy would be geographically located. According to author John Prados, the system functioned "exactly like a pinball machine... in truth, the mavens of the electronic battlefield became pinball wizards". The effectiveness of the system was determined not by how long a sensor would last in the field, but by the adequacy of coverage by a particular string of sensors. For instance, a well placed string with several failed sensors was more effective than a fully functional string placed in the wrong location. The electronic data was, however, only as good as the human analysts and operators at the ISC. The knack of timely sensor activation depended on careful study of device locations and the patterns of PAVN logistical behavior. The sensors were delivered to the target areas by U.S. Navy OP-2 Neptunes of VO-67 or by U.S. Air Force helicopters, both based at Nakhon Phanom. Due to increasing PAVN anti-aircraft artillery defences encountered in southeastern Laos, delivery in high-risk areas of the trail system was handed over from the Neptunes to Air Force F-4 Phantom II fighter-bombers that had been specially equipped for the missions. U.S. strike aircraft were directed to predicted target areas by a variety of means. The first was for the ISC to relay target information to an airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC), which then routed bombers to a forward air control aircraft (FAC). The FAC then led the strike to the target. During inclement weather or complete darkness, aircraft could still attack the trail by utilizing either MSQ-77 Combat Skyspot (a radar-directed system) or LORAN (a radio-directed navigational system). As the program (and PAVN air defences) evolved, so did the relay aircraft. The EC-121Rs and their crews proved too vulnerable and were partly replaced in 1969 and 1970 by QU-22Bs (modified Beech A-36 Bonanzas) which were to be remotely piloted, and which had undergone primary mission equipment and PME flight tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in 1968. The aircraft suffered from mechanical difficulties, however, and were never flown during an operational mission without a pilot. They were replaced by C-130B models in December 1971.'

+ Operation Igloo White (1968-1973):

Igloo White

'A shakedown of the system took place during the first two weeks of November 1967 and it seemed to work. The PAVN siege of the U.S. Marines at the Khe Sanh Combat Base, in western Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, provided the opportunity for an operational test. The American command in Saigon launched Operation Niagara, the largest tactical and B-52 operation thus far in the conflict, to support the Marines at Khe Sanh. By the end of January 1968, Muscle Shoals had emplaced 316 sensors in 44 strings to detect PAVN troop movements in the vicinity of the combat base. The operation was deemed a success, but locating and targeting enemy troops moving toward a fixed location like Khe Sanh was not the same as doing it on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And there were already problems with the system. The anti-personnel portion of the program had already failed. The presence and movements of enemy troops were to be detected by the utilization of small, wide-area Gravel mines that were to alert the acoustic sensors. Unfortunately, the mines rapidly deteriorated in the heat and humidity of Laos, nullifying their effectiveness. The focus of any interdiction campaign, therefore, would have to concentrate on PAVN supply transportation. The war against trucks was about to begin.'

'By the end of Commando Hunt I, the first dry season offensive of the campaign (15 November 1968 to 20 April 1969), the Air Force estimated that 7,322 enemy trucks had been destroyed. At the rate of attrition claimed in December, however, the PAVN transportation network should have been destroyed in only a month and a half. It also claimed that 20,723 enemy had been killed by air, 15 percent of the total number believed to have been travelling on, operating, or defending the trail." 56 allied aircraft were shot down during the operation by an estimated 600 communist anti-aircraft weapons. The end of Rolling Thunder, it seemed, had freed up not only U.S. aircraft, but also allowed more PAVN anti-aircraft units to move south to defend the trail. During the year the North Vietnamese began deploying longer-ranged and radar-directed 85 and 100 mm guns. For the U.S. program there were teething troubles. There was a lack of sufficient numbers of sensor strings and controlling the number of aircraft available for the missions proved problematic. These difficulties could be remedied. Commando Hunt II (1 May through 31 October 1969), however, was thrown off track by phenomena that the Air Force could do absolutely nothing about. The first wet season offensive was hampered by atrocious weather, especially heavy rain (48 inches of rain in July alone).

The real problem for U.S. planners was a lack of sufficient intelligence on the numbers of infiltrators, the amount of supplies being transported, the number of trucks operating, the specific locations of targets in a rapidly changing environment, and the infrastructure of the system. This lack of real intelligence forced the Air Force to basically take its best guess as to PAVN numbers, intentions, and limitations. For instance, Air Force intelligence claimed that 9,012 enemy trucks were destroyed during 1969. Yet, an even lesser estimate of trucks destroyed by the Defense Intelligence Agency only resulted in their computer model reaching zero (where the enemy was supposed to be out of trucks) no fewer than 14 times during the same time period. The Air Force's computing of communist personnel losses, according to Air Force historian Bernard Nalty was "based on so many assumptions that the end product represented an exercise in metaphysics rather than mathematics." He was seconded by historian Earl Tilford who explained that Americans expected progress, or at least quantifiable measures of success...It is in their nature to do so. Commando Hunt provided the figures that sated that appetite. Productivity epitomized what the war had become: an exercise in management effectiveness.

It was, however, difficult for the Air Force to do otherwise. Observation of the trail from the air was difficult at best. Human intelligence was provided by CIA-backed Laotian irregulars and Thai volunteers operating from the western side of the system while the eastern side was covered by SOG. The depth of penetration by these reconnaissance efforts was hampered by the same man who had the last word in the bombing effort, Ambassador William H. Sullivan in Vientiane. The ambassador (with the full backing of the State Department and the CIA) maintained a firm hold over all military operations conducted within the supposedly "neutral" Kingdom of Laos. All targets had to be pre-approved either by Sullivan himself or by the air attaché within Project 404, the understaffed U.S. military operations center within the embassy. By the end of the year the Americans felt that they were better prepared to deliver destruction to the trail system. During Commando Hunt III (1 November 1969 to 30 April 1970), the Air Force claimed that 6,428 enemy trucks destroyed and another 3,604 damaged. 60 aircraft were shot down during this phase of the campaign by an estimated 743 anti-aircraft weapons. This increased number of aircraft losses forced the Air Force to decree that flak suppression missions would accompany the bombers on missions over the trail. Armed with cluster bomb units (CBUs), the fighter bombers were poised to pounce upon any enemy anti-aircraft positions identified by other aircraft.

On the other side of the fence, the North Vietnamese transported and/or stored 70,000 tons of supplies in 3,000 trucks with a net loss of 13.5 percent during the year. During the same period about 80,000 PAVN troops made the trip south. A new North Vietnamese logistical effort, discovered by U.S. intelligence in late 1968, was a petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) pipeline running southwest from the North Vietnamese city of Vinh. By early the following year the pipeline had crossed the Laotian frontier and by summer it had reached Muong Nong and the approaches to the A Sầu Valley. The plastic line, assisted by numerous small pumping stations, could transfer diesel fuel, gasoline, and kerosene all in the same pipe. From October 1969 until April 1970 (probably anticipating the loss of their Cambodian supply conduit) the North Vietnamese launched "probably their most intense logistical effort of the whole war." The motivating factor became evident in April, when U.S. and South Vietnamese ground forces launched an incursion into the PAVN base areas lining the eastern border of Cambodia. Thousands of tons of food and munitions, including 7,000 tons of rice and weapons, were destroyed; as a result, PAVN operations were set back by an estimated 15 months. However, the U.S. also assumed an abiding responsibility for the survival of the Lon Nol regime, which remained dependent on US air support.


Commando Hunt


Missions conducted by CIA-backed Laotian irregulars and Thai volunteers operating on the western flank of the trail (and the Lon Nol coup in Cambodia) prompted PAVN to launch offensives in Laos to protect and expand their system. As a result, the North Vietnamese seized the towns of Saravane, Paksong, and Attopeu. Although fighting continued in these areas, what had once been a 30-mile (48 km) wide logistical corridor was now expanded to 90 miles (140 km). Meanwhile, PAVN was also expanding its other methods of logistical transportation. In 1967 U.S. recon photographs uncovered an unusual sight. POL barrels were spotted floating in the waters of the Kong River south of Ban Bak, Laos. Soon, PAVN was making use of the Banghiang River which flowed southwestward from the Demilitarized Zone all the way to the Mekong River, for the same purposes. The watertight drums were launched en masse from tributary streams into the main channel, floated downstream, and were recovered by systems of nets and booms. The Kaman River was added to the system in 1969. By 1970 the North Vietnamese were making intense use of streams and rivers to supplement their logistical route, especially in the rainy season, when the water levels rose and the roadways became impassable mires. During one two and one-half month period during 1969, over 10,000 POL barrels were spotted in the waterways of southeastern Laos.

The Air Force estimated that during the year there were 3,375 trucks working the trail system in southern Laos, yet it claimed that 12,368 enemy trucks were destroyed during the year. During the same time frame, the CIA estimated that only 6,000 trucks existed in the entire North Vietnamese inventory. The buildup of PAVN anti-aircraft defenses continued to increase. During Commando Hunt III the Seventh and Thirteenth Air Force estimated that 700 23-mm and 37 mm weapons, most of them radar-guided, were defending the trail system in southern Laos. Beginning in 1967 the Air Force had fielded a whole series of fixed-wing, side-firing gunships for nighttime interdiction missions. This evolution in aircraft was a "dynamic reaction between opposing forces which led to a refinement of the tactics of employing round the clock interdiction and prompted development of specialized night attack systems."

As the operation progressed, newer technologies (low-light television cameras, infrared vision devices, side-looking radars, radar jamming equipment, and computer-directed fire control systems) were also fielded to improve the performance of these aircraft. The apex of these developments was reached by the deployment of the AC-130E Spectre, a conversion of the venerable C-130 Hercules cargo transport, in February 1968. By 1970 the Spectre had become the most formidable weapon platform fielded by the Air Force in its war against trucks.The PAVN 377 Air Division's history notes "Just one hour when AC-130s did not operate over our chokepoints was both precious and rare." During Commando Hunt V (10 October 1970 to 30 April 1971) Air Force intelligence claimed 16,266 trucks destroyed and another 7,700 damaged during the dry season offensive.[44] The Seventh Air Force headquarters in Saigon, chagrined by the enormity of the figures, recomputed them and lowered the estimate to 11,000 destroyed and 8,000 damaged. In fact, there were only 2,500–3,000 PAVN trucks operating on the trail during 1970–1971, each carrying approximately four tons of materiel.

77,000 combat sorties were flown during the offensive while the number of communist anti-aircraft weapons defending it reached 1,500. Although only 11 aircraft were brought down by air defense fire during the dry season, this lower level of destroyed aircraft was not the result of any U.S. countermeasures. The lower figures were attributed to the fact that many PAVN air defense units had been moved to the Tchepone area to support the counteroffensive against the South Vietnamese Operation Lam Son 719. The interdiction effort during Commando Hunt VI (15 May through 31 October 1971) was thrown off by Lam Son 719 during April and May. During the offensive, 80 percent of all U.S. aerial sorties were directed to support it. This highlighted what was now rapidly becoming a dual dilemma for the Air Force: First, the gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Southeast Asia meant that there were fewer and fewer air assets available with which to conduct more and more missions. During Commando Hunt, for example, 1,777 aircraft were utilized during the campaign. By the time of the opening of Commando Hunt VI, that figure had decreased to 1,199 aircraft and this number dropped to 953 before that phase was completed; Second, this state of affairs was exacerbated by the withdrawal of sorties to conduct missions for Operation Freedom Deal in Cambodia.

During the year the North Vietnamese transported or stored 60,000 tons of supplies with a net loss rate of 2.07 percent. During the same period, 195,000 PAVN replacements moved through the system to the southern battlefields. As during the previous year, PAVN continued to expand the system. By the end of May the North Vietnamese had occupied Muong Phalane, Ban Houei Sai, and Paksong. They also retook Attopeu, Saravane, and Ban Thateng, cementing their hold on the strategic Bolovens Plateau of south central Laos. Commando Hunt VI, launched during the wet season, was hampered by heavy rain and the arrival of two typhoons which threw off both the PAVN logistical effort and U.S. attempts to interdict it. Air Force planners believed that Operation Commando Hunt VII (1 November 1971 to 29 March 1972) would be the most fruitful of the entire campaign. During this dry season phase, the U.S. averaged 182 attack fighters, 13 fixed-wing gunships, and 21 B-52 sorties per day. As a result of this all-out effort, U.S. intelligence analysts claimed 10,689 North Vietnamese trucks were destroyed and credited AC-130E Spectres alone with 7,335 of these kills. During the campaign, however, ominous signs appeared in the mountains of Laos. On 10 January 1972, a U.S. O–1 observation aircraft, flying near the Mu Gia Pass, dodged the first surface-to-air missile(SAM) launched from Laotian soil. This event, and others like it, were compounded by the crossing into Laotian airspace of North Vietnamese MiG fighters. Both of these threats tended to force off B-52 and tactical air strikes. During the campaign, ten American aircraft were lost to SAMs (mostly SA-2 Guidelines) and another thirteen were lost to more conventional weapons.

One new innovation that took place during the campaign was renewed interest in personnel infiltration. This aspect of the PAVN effort had been virtually ignored since the initiation of the Commando Hunt in 1968. An intelligence collection and technical reassessment effort invited the Air Force to make another attempt to force the North Vietnamese pay for their effort in blood instead of in imported supplies and trucks. The result was Island Tree the launching of a personnel anti-infiltration effort during Commando Hunt VII. However, it was too little and far too late. American analysts were elated when they discovered that the number of trucks ordered by North Vietnam from its communist allies in late 1971 exceeded those of previous years. 6,000 vehicles had been ordered from the Soviet Union alone (as opposed to the usual 3,000) and this seemed to indicate that the enemy was hurting for transportation and that the campaign was working. However, since 80 percent of the vehicles arrived in North Vietnam at least six weeks before the launching of the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known to the U.S. as the Easter Offensive, they probably reflected anticipated losses.

Commando Hunt VII came to a close with the launching of the PAVN offensive mentioned above. This conventional attack, backed by armor, heavy artillery, and anti-aircraft units (including SAMs) rolled over the two northernmost provinces of South Vietnam while two smaller offensives were launched in central and southern parts of the country. All U.S. and South Vietnamese air assets were diverted to first slowing, and then halting the onslaught. They were then utilized in the first sustained bombing of North Vietnam since late 1968 (see Operation Linebacker). Interdiction missions were then diverted to carry out an even heavier aerial offensive against the north (see Operation Linebacker II). The end was nigh for Commando Hunt. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in March 1973, the Vietnam War finally came to an end for the U.S. The goal of the Commando Hunt campaigns was not to halt infiltration, but to make the North Vietnamese pay too heavy a price for their effort. Corollary to this was the destruction of as much of their logistical system as possible and to tie down as many PAVN forces in static security roles as possible. Aerial interdiction could not succeed unless Hanoi felt the pressure and relented. The seed of the campaign's failure, however, was sown in its first operation. Despite the expenditure of an enormous amount of ordnance over five years, the level of that pressure was never going to be sufficient to deter Hanoi from its goal.

This failure had three sources. First, there were the political constraints imposed by Washington that limited the entire American effort in Southeast Asia (the continued fiction of Laotian and Cambodian "neutrality", failure to disrupt the trail with U.S. ground forces when it would have made a difference, etc.) The second source of the failure was the utilization of what Colonel Charles Morrison has called "over-sophisticated methods" against "elemental systems." The primitive logistical needs of the North Vietnamese (at least until the final phase of the conflict) allowed them to slip under the radar of their more technologically sophisticated enemy. Finally, all of the above were exacerbated by the communists' enviable ability to adapt their doctrine and tactics and to turn weaknesses into strengths.

The interdiction effort (like the entire American effort in Vietnam) became focused on statistics as a measure of success and "devolved from considered tactics to meaningless ritual." At the end of the Commando Hunt campaigns the Air Force intelligence service claimed that 51,000 trucks and 3,400 anti-aircraft guns were destroyed in all seven operations. Statistics, however, proved no substitute for strategy and, "for all the perceived success in that numbers game, the Air Force succeeded only in fooling itself into believing that Commando Hunt was working. Regardless of the constant American belief that its enemy was on the verge of collapse, PAVN maintained and expanded its logistical flow to combat units in the field and managed to launch major offensives in 1968 and 1972 and a counteroffensive in 1971. The North Vietnamese built, maintained, and expanded, under a deluge of bombs, over 3,000 kilometers of roads and paths through the mountains and jungles while only two percent of the troops sent south were killed by the American effort to halt their infiltration into South Vietnam.

+ Operation Commando Hunt (1968-1972):


Mao & Sihanouk

'From left: Mao Zedong, Peng Zhen, Norodom Sihanouk and Liu Shaoqi Text caption: Judging that relations with China were important to Cambodia's fragile neutrality. Prince Norodom Sihanouk (in the dark tunic) went to Peking in 1965 for discussions with Chairman Mao Tse-tung (left).' (Center of Military History)

'Operation Menu was a covert United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombing campaign conducted in eastern Cambodia from 18 March 1969 until 26 May 1970 as part of both the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War. The targets of these attacks were sanctuaries and Base Areas of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN — commonly referred to during the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army [NVA]) and forces of the Viet Cong (VC), which utilized them for resupply, training, and resting between campaigns across the border in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The impact of the bombing campaign on the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the PAVN, and Cambodian civilians in the bombed areas is disputed by historians. An official United States Air Force record of U.S. bombing activity over Indochina from 1964 to 1973 was declassified by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000. The report gives details of the extent of the bombing of Cambodia, as well as of Laos and Vietnam. According to the data, the Air Force began bombing the rural regions of Cambodia along its South Vietnam border in 1965 under the Johnson administration; this was four years earlier than previously believed. The Menu bombings were an escalation of what had previously been tactical air attacks. Newly inaugurated President Richard Nixon authorized for the first time use of long-range Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers to carpet bomb Cambodia. Operation Freedom Deal immediately followed Operation Menu. Under Freedom Deal, B-52 bombing was expanded to a much larger area of Cambodia and continued until August 1973.'

'From the onset of hostilities in South Vietnam and the Kingdom of Laos in the early 1960s, Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk had maintained a delicate domestic and foreign policy balancing act. Convinced of the inevitable victory of the communists in Southeast Asia and concerned for the future existence of his government, Sihanouk swung toward the left in the mid-1960s. In 1966, Sihanouk made an agreement with Zhou En-lai of the People's Republic of China that would allow PAVN and VC forces to establish Base Areas in Cambodia and to use the port of Sihanoukville for the delivery of military material. The US, heavily involved in South Vietnam, was not eager to openly violate the asserted neutrality of Cambodia, which had been guaranteed by the Geneva Accord of 1954. Beginning in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized covert reconnaissance operations by the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG). The mission of the highly classified unit was to obtain intelligence on the PAVN/VC base areas (Project Vesuvius) that would be presented to Sihanouk in hopes of changing his position.'


+ President Richard Nixon Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam (November 3, 1969):

'In his diary in March 1969, Nixon's chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, noted that the final decision to carpet bomb Cambodia 'was made at a meeting in the Oval Office Sunday afternoon, after the church service'.

In his diary on 17 March 1969, Haldeman wrote:

"Historic day. K[issinger]'s "Operation Breakfast" finally came off at 2:00 pm our time. K really excited, as is P[resident]."

And the next day:

"K's "Operation Breakfast" a great success. He came beaming in with the report, very productive. A lot more secondaries than had been expected. Confirmed early intelligence. Probably no reaction for a few days, if ever."

'The bombing began on the night of 18 March with a raid by 60 B-52 Stratofortress bombers, based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The target was Base Area 353, the supposed location of COSVN in the Fishhook. Although the aircrews were briefed that their mission was to take place in South Vietnam, 48 of the bombers were diverted across the Cambodian border and dropped 2,400 tons of bombs. The mission was designated Breakfast, after the morning Pentagon planning session at which it was devised. On 18 March a 13-man Daniel Boone team from MACV-SOG was landed by helicopter at the Base Area 353 impact site to capture survivors, but they were met by intense enemy fire and only 2 of the team members were rescued. Breakfast was so successful (in U.S. terms) that General Abrams provided a list of 15 more known Base Areas for targeting. The five remaining missions and targets were: Lunch (Base Area 609), Snack (Base Area 351), Dinner (Base Area 352), Supper (Base Area 740), and Dessert (Base Area 350).[14] SAC flew 3,800 B-52 sorties against these targets, and dropped 108,823 tons of ordnance during the missions. Due to the continued reference to meals in the codenames, the entire series of missions was referred to as Operation Menu. MACV-SOG provided 70 percent of the Menu bomb damage intelligence. Nixon and Kissinger went to great lengths to keep the missions secret. In order to prevent criticism of the bombing, an elaborate dual reporting system of the missions had been formulated during the Brussels meeting between Nixon, Haig, and Colonel Sitton.'

'By late 1968, Sihanouk, under pressure from the political right at home and from the US, agreed to more normalized relations with the Americans. In July 1968, he had agreed to reopen diplomatic relations and, in August, formed a Government of National Salvation under the pro-US General Lon Nol. Newly inaugurated President Richard M. Nixon, seeking any means by which to withdraw from Southeast Asia and obtain "peace with honor", saw an opening with which to give time for the US withdrawal, and time to implement the new policy of Vietnamization. Before the diplomatic amenities with Sihanouk were even concluded, Nixon had decided to deal with the situation of PAVN/VC troops and supply bases in Cambodia. He had already considered a naval blockade of the Cambodian coast, but was talked out of it by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), who believed that Sihanouk could still be convinced to agree to ground attacks against the Base Areas. On 30 January 1969, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Earle Wheeler had suggested to the president that he authorize the bombing of the Cambodian sanctuaries. He was seconded on 9 February by the U.S. commander in Vietnam, General Creighton W. Abrams, who also submitted his proposal to bomb the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN), the elusive headquarters of PAVN/VC southern operations, located somewhere in the Fishhook region of eastern Cambodia.'

'On 22 February, during the period just following the Tết holidays, PAVN/VC forces launched an offensive. Nixon became even more angered when the communists launched rocket and artillery attacks against Saigon, which he considered a violation of the "agreement" he believed had been made when the US halted the bombing of North Vietnam in November 1968. Nixon, who was en route to Brussels for a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders, ordered his National Security Advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger, to prepare for airstrikes against PAVN/VC base areas in Cambodia as a reprisal. The bombings were to serve three purposes: it would show Nixon's tenacity; it would disable the PAVN's offensive capability to disrupt the US withdrawal and Vietnamization; and it would demonstrate the US' determination, "that might pay dividends at the negotiating table in Paris." He then cabled Colonel Alexander Haig, a National Security Council staff aide, to meet him in Brussels along with Colonel Raymond Sitton, a former Strategic Air Command (SAC) officer on the JCS staff, to formulate a plan of action. By seeking advice from high administration officials, Nixon had delayed any quick response that could be explicitly linked to the provocation. He decided to respond to the next provocation and didn't have to wait long. On 14 March, communist forces once again attacked South Vietnam's urban areas and Nixon was ready.'

The number of individuals who had complete knowledge of the operation was kept to a minimum. All communications concerning the missions was split along two paths – one route was overt, ordering typical B-52 missions that were to take place within South Vietnam near the Cambodian border – the second route was covert, utilizing back-channel messages between commanders ordering the classified missions. For example: General Abrams would request a Menu strike. His request went to Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), in Honolulu. McCain forwarded it to the JCS in Washington DC, who, after reviewing it, passed it on to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird (who might consult with the president). The JCS then passed the command for the strike to General Bruce K. Holloway, Commander of SAC, who then notified Lieutenant General Alvin C. Gillem, Commander of the 3rd Air Division on Guam. During this time Air Force Major Hal Knight was supervising an MSQ-77 Combat Skyspot radar site at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam. "Skyspot" was a ground directed bombing system which directed B-52 strikes to targets in Vietnam. Each day a courier plane would arrive from SAC's Advanced Echelon Office at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon. Knight was given a revised list of target coordinates for the next day's missions. That evening, the coordinates were fed into Olivetti Programma 101 computers. and then relayed to the aircraft as they came on station. Only the pilots and navigators of the aircraft (who had been personally briefed by General Gillem and sworn to secrecy) knew of the true location of the targets. The bombers then flew on to their targets and delivered their payloads. After the air strikes, Knight gathered the mission paperwork, computer tapes etc., destroying them in an incinerator. He then called a special phone number in Saigon and reported that "The ball game is over." The aircrews filled out routine reports of hours flown, fuel burned, and ordnance dropped. This dual system maintained secrecy and provided Air Force logistics and personnel administrators with information that they needed to replace air crews or aircraft and replenish stocks of fuel and munitions.

By the summer, five members of the United States Congress had been informed of the operation. They were: Senators John C. Stennis (MS) and Richard B. Russell, Jr. (GA) and Representatives Lucius Mendel Rivers (SC), Gerald R. Ford (MI), and Leslie C. Arends (IL). Arends and Ford were leaders of the Republican minority and the other three were Democrats on either the Armed Services or Appropriations committees. For those in Washington who were cognizant of the Menu raids, the silence of one party came as a surprise. The Hanoi government made no protest concerning the bombings. It neither denounced the raids for propaganda purposes, nor, according to Kissinger, did its negotiators "raise the matter during formal or secret negotiations." North Vietnam had no wish to advertise the presence of their forces in Cambodia, allowed by Sihanouk in return for the Vietnamese agreeing not to foment rebellion in Cambodia. For four years Menu remained unknown to the U.S. Congress as a whole, although as previously mentioned five Congressmen had been informed. That situation changed in December 1972, when Major Knight wrote a letter to Senator William Proxmire (D, WI), asking for "clarification" as to U.S. policy on the bombing of Cambodia. Knight, who had become concerned over the legality of his actions, had complained to his superior officer, Colonel David Patterson. He then received several bad efficiency reports, which ruined his career, and he had been discharged from the Air Force.

Proxmire's further questioning led to hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which eventually demanded that the Department of Defense turn over all records of U.S. air operations in Cambodia. When they arrived, the records did not even mention the Menu strikes. The committee was not convinced and the investigation continued. Less than two weeks later, it opened hearings on the nomination of General George S. Brown for the position of chief of staff of the Air Force. As commander of the Seventh Air Force in South Vietnam, Brown had been privy to Menu and disclosed as much to the committee. For the next eight days the committee listened to the testimony of administration officials and the JCS, who tried to justify their actions. The committee uncovered excuses and deceptions that were perhaps more alarming than those occurring simultaneously in the Watergate hearings. The Menu revelations raised "fundamental questions as to military discipline and honesty, of civilian control over the military and of Congressional effectiveness." It was basically agreed, both by Congress and concerned military officers, that the deception employed during Menu went beyond covertness. According to Air Force historian Captain Earl H. Tilford: "Deception to fool the enemy was one thing, but lying to Congress and key members of the government, including the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force, was something else."

There are no confirmed estimates of Cambodians killed, wounded, or rendered homeless by Operation Menu. The Department of Defense estimated that the six areas bombed in Operation Menu (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Dessert, and Supper) had a non-combatant population of 4,247. DOD planners stated that effect of attacks could tend to increase casualties, as could the probable lack of protective shelters around Cambodian homes". Each of the target areas was small. Area 353 (Breakfast), was only 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi) in size and had an estimated population of 1,640 people. B-52s flew 228 sorties into this single area to bomb. Each B-52 can carry up to 108 bombs weighing 225 kilograms (496 lb) and spread them equally over a "box" about 1.5 kilometer long by one-half kilometer wide (1 mile by .3 miles); thus, nearly 25,000 bombs may have been dropped in Area 353 alone. The other target areas had similar saturation rates of bombs. Following Operation Menu, Operation Freedom Deal continued the bombing of Cambodia for an additional three years and extended the bombing to at least one-half of the country.

The constitutional issues raised at the hearings became less important when the House Judiciary Committee voted (21–12) against including the administration's falsification of records concerning Menu in the articles of impeachment leveled against President Nixon. One of the key issues that prevented congressional inclusion was the embarrassing fact that five key members of both political parties had been privy to the information and had neither said nor done anything about it. The consequences of U.S. bombing of Cambodia, positive and negative, are still widely debated by participants and scholars. As for preventing further PAVN/VC offensives, they failed.[citation needed] In May 1969, PAVN/VC launched an offensive similar in size to that of the May Offensive of the previous year.[citation needed] It certainly cost North Vietnam the effort and manpower to disperse and camouflage their Cambodian sanctuaries to prevent losses to further air attack. President Nixon claimed the raids were a success, since air power alone had to provide a shield for withdrawal and Vietnamization. They certainly emboldened Nixon to launch the Cambodian Campaign of 1970.

While out of the country on 18 March 1970, the prince was deposed by the National Assembly and replaced by Lon Nol. The Nixon administration, although thoroughly aware of the weakness of Lon Nol's forces and loath to commit American military force to the new conflict in any form other than air power, announced its support of the newly proclaimed Khmer Republic. In response, the prince quickly aligned himself with the Khmer Rouge; this was a major boon to the communist insurgents, whose movement "started growing as on yeast." On 29 March 1970, the PAVN launched an offensive against the Khmer National Armed Forces, with documents uncovered after 1991 from the Soviet archives revealing that the invasion was launched at the explicit request of the Khmer Rouge following negotiations with Nuon Chea. Historian Jussi Hanhimäki writes that "the MENU operations pushed the North Vietnamese east Cambodia westward. American bombers followed suit." Author William Shawcross and other commentors asserted that the "Khmer Rouge were born out of the inferno that American policy did much to create" and that Sihanouk's "collaboration with both powers [the United States and North Vietnam] ... was intended to save his people by confining the conflict to the border regions. It was American policy that engulfed the nation in war."'

+ Operation Menu (1969-1970):


+ President Nixon Announcing the Invasion of Cambodia (May 1st 1970):

'Operation Freedom Deal was a United States Seventh Air Force interdiction and close air support campaign waged in Cambodia, a neutral country, between 19 May 1970 and 15 August 1973, as an expansion of the Vietnam War, as well as the Cambodian Civil War. Launched by Richard Nixon as a follow-up to the earlier ground invasion during the Cambodian Campaign, the initial targets of the operation were the base areas and border sanctuaries of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong (VC). As time went on most of the bombing was carried out to support the Cambodian government of Lon Nol in its struggle against the communist Khmer Rouge. The area in which the bombing took place was expanded to include most of the eastern one-half of Cambodia. The bombing was extremely controversial, and led the U.S. Congress to pass the War Powers Resolution. Operation Freedom Deal followed and expanded the bombing of Cambodia conducted under Operation Menu in 1969 and 1970. Most of the bombing was carried out by U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 bombers. While the effectiveness of the bombing and the number of Cambodians killed by U.S. bombing is in dispute, civilian fatalities were easily in the tens of thousands. With the end of Cambodian neutrality due to the coup that ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk and installed pro-U.S. General Lon Nol as president, the Cambodian civil war escalated as the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) reacted to military actions by the Cambodians, Americans, and South Vietnamese. On 15 March 1970, Lon Nol issued an ultimatum to the North Vietnamese, ordering them out of the border areas. The PAVN/VC and their indigenous Khmer Rouge allies had occupied eastern Cambodia for the previous ten years and had established a logistical system and Base Areas along the border during their struggle for a unified Vietnam. They were not about to abandon their zones of control without a fight.

The newly renamed Khmer Republic (which will herein still be referred to as Cambodia) enlarged the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK) and launched it against the PAVN. Hanoi's response to the ultimatum and this offensive was the launching of Campaign X in April. PAVN and VC forces easily seized eastern and northern Cambodia, leaving only a few isolated FANK enclaves. The U.S. responded by first launching Operation Patio, which consisted of tactical airstrikes into Cambodia as an adjunct to the highly classified Operation Menu, the strategic bombardment of the Base Areas by B-52s. The Menu bombing pushed PAVN/VC forces deeper into Cambodia, which led to a more expansive U.S. bombing campaign. The U.S. and South Vietnam then launched offensive ground operations in May 1970 during the Cambodian Campaign. President Richard M. Nixon, however, had placed a 30 June deadline on the operation, after which all U.S. ground forces had to return to South Vietnam. This did not bode well for the Lon Nol government. Although the incursion had temporarily thrown the PAVN/VC off balance, they and the Khmer Rouge struck back against FANK forces. As a result of this state of affairs, Freedom Deal, the overt air support afforded to the incursion, was extended on 6 June.

In the post-incursion period, Freedom Deal was originally an interdiction effort, striking enemy supply lines in eastern Cambodia, and was restricted to a 50-kilometer (30 mi) deep area between the South Vietnamese border and the Mekong River. This restriction was, however, quickly voided due to Search and Rescue operations conducted by the U.S. Air Force in order to pick up downed South Vietnamese pilots, who regularly flew outside the Freedom Deal zone. Within two months (and without public announcement), the operation was expanded west of the Mekong. The withdrawal of U.S. forces in May left only South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces to do battle with PAVN/VC and the Khmer Rouge. U.S. tactical aircraft then began supplying FANK troops with direct air support. Meanwhile, President Nixon had announced that the policy of the U.S. Air Force was only to interdict PAVN/NLF supply networks (in the same manner that they were interdicted in Laos), and that they were only to be conducted within the specified zone (known as the AIZ or Aerial Interdiction Zone). During the rest of the year, the Freedom Deal area of operations was expanded three times. Transcripts of telephone conversations reveal that by December 1970 Nixon's dissatisfaction with the success of the bombings prompted him to order that they be stepped up.

"They have got to go in there and I mean really go in," he told Henry Kissinger. "I want them to hit everything. I want them to use the big planes, the small planes, everything they can that will help out there, and let's start giving them a little shock.".

The president was inspired to reckless escalation by his belief in the "madman theory". By the beginning of 1971, the area of operations stretched from Route 7 to the Laotian border in the north and 120 kilometers (75 mi) beyond the Mekong to the west. Between July 1970 and February 1971, approximately 44 percent of the 8,000 sorties flown in Cambodia struck targets outside the authorized zone. This led to Kissinger, Alexander Haig and Colonel Ray Sitton developing a policy of falsifying the reports of missions carried out beyond the boundary. Most of the strikes were flown in direct support of FANK troops, although American officials continued to deny the fact. Despite this effort, the communists occupied one-half of Cambodia by late 1970 and had cut all the land routes leading to and from the capital of Phnom Penh. In short order the USAF found itself shifting more and more of its diminishing air power from its interdiction campaign in southern Laos to the struggle in Cambodia. In 1971 Cambodian missions made up nearly 15 percent of the total number of combat sorties flown in Southeast Asia, up from eight percent during the previous year. According to George McTurnan Kahin, Freedom Deal bombers treated the communist-held parts of the country as a virtual "free-fire zone". For most of the campaign, U.S. Ambassador Emory Swank and his team were only allowed to vet targets west of the Mekong. Often they had no idea what villages were being bombed. Swank soon resigned, one of several foreign policy officials who left because of Kissinger's Cambodia policy.

In Cambodia, the ground war dragged on, with the Khmer Rouge doing the bulk of the fighting against the government. On 28 January 1973, the day the Paris Peace Accord was signed, Lon Nol announced a unilateral cease-fire and U.S. airstrikes were halted. When the Khmer Rouge refused to respond, the bombing resumed on 9 February. The U.S. Seventh Air Force argued that the bombing prevented the fall of Phnom Penh in 1973 by killing 16,000 of 25,000 Khmer Rouge fighters besieging the city. In March the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed a much expanded bombing campaign. From then until the end of the operation on 15 August, sortie and tonnage rates increased. By the last day of Operation Freedom Deal (15 August 1973), 250,000 tons of bombs had been dropped on the Khmer Republic, 82,000 tons of which had been released in the last 45 days of the operation. During 1973 Freedom Deal aircraft dropped 250,000 tons of bombs (primarily high explosive), more than the 180,000 tons dropped on Japan during the Second World War. As communist forces drew a tighter ring around Phnom Penh in April, the U.S. Air Force flew more than 12,000 bombing sorties and dropped more than 82,000 tons of ordnance in support of Lon Nol's forces during the last 45 days of the operation. Since the inception of the Menu bombings in March 1969, the total amount of ordnance dropped on Cambodia reached 539,129 tons. On 15 August, the last mission of Freedom Deal was flown.


Tam Toa

'Tam Tòa Church is an old Catholic church built during the late 19th century in Đồng Hới, now the capital of Quảng Bình Province in central Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the church was destroyed by American bombs on February 11, 1965. It has remained undisturbed as a war relic. Tam Tòa parish is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Vietnam with its roots dating back to the mid 17th century.'

+ Tam Tòa Church War Memorial - Đồng Hới, Vietnam (2018):

Additional detail concerning the disputed effectiveness of the bombing of Cambodia is in the article Operation Menu. According to David Chandler:

"If you just made a very cold, calculating, military decision, the bombing of 1973 was in fact a sensible thing to do [at the time], because had it not happened, the Khmer Rouge would have taken Phnom Penh [much earlier] and South Vietnam would have had a communist country on its flank." In contrast, Pulitzer prize-winning correspondent Sidney Schanberg asserted that the campaign actually fostered the Khmer Rouge's growth, recalling that the militia men "would point... at the bombs falling from B-52s as something they had to oppose if they were going to have freedom. And it became a recruiting tool until they grew to a fierce, indefatigable guerrilla army."

U.S. bombing of Cambodia extended over the entire eastern one-half of the country and was especially intense in the heavily populated southeastern one-quarter of the country, including a wide ring surrounding the largest city of Phnom Penh. In large areas, according to maps of U.S. bombing sites, it appears that nearly every square mile of land was hit by bombs with roughly 500,000 tons of bombs dropped. When extensive bombing by the U.S. of Cambodia began in 1969 it was primarily directed against the PAVN/VC and their supply lines and bases. As the PAVN/VC dispersed their operations deeper into Cambodia to escape U.S. bombing the area bombed by the U.S. expanded. Increasingly, U.S. bombing missions had the objective of supporting the government of Cambodia in its war against the insurgent Khmer Rouge.

The number of deaths caused by U.S. bombing has been disputed and is difficult to disentangle from the broader Cambodian Civil War. Estimates as wide-ranging as 30,000 to 500,000 have been cited. Sihanouk used a figure of 600,000 civil war deaths, while Elizabeth Becker reported over one million civil war deaths, military and civilian included, although other researchers could not corroborate such high estimates. Marek Sliwinski notes that many estimates of the dead are open to question and may have been used for propaganda, suggesting that the true number lies between 240,000 and 310,000; Judith Banister and E. Paige Johnson described 275,000 war deaths as "the highest mortality that we can justify"; and Patrick Heuveline states that "Subsequent reevaluations of the demographic data situated the death toll for the [civil war] in the order of 300,000 or less". Of these civil war deaths, Sliwinski estimates that approximately 17.1% can be attributed to U.S. bombing, noting that this is far behind the leading causes of death, as the U.S. bombing was concentrated in under-populated border areas. Ben Kiernan attributes 50,000 to 150,000 deaths to the U.S. bombing. Another impact of the U.S. bombing and the Cambodian civil war was the destruction of homes and livelihood of many people. This was a large contributor to the refugee crisis in Cambodia with two million people—more than 25 percent of the population—displaced from rural areas into cities, especially Phnom Penh which grew from about 600,000 in 1970 to an estimated population of nearly 2 million by 1975. The Cambodian government estimated that more than 20 percent of property in the country had been destroyed during the war.'

+ Operation Freedom Deal (1970-1973):

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The Strategic Technical Directorate

In late 1968 the Technical Service was expanded into the Vha Ky Thuat (Strategic Technical Directorate, or STD) in a move designed to make it more like MACVSOG, the US joint-services command created in 1964 which ran reconnaissance, raids, and other special operations both inside and outside South Vietnam. Despite internal opposition the Liaison Service was subordinated to the STD as its major combat arm. Like SOG, the STD also had aircraft under its nominal control, including 219 Helicopter Squadron of the Vietnamese Air Force. By the late 1960s the size of the Liaison Service had increased tremendously. Task Forces 1, 2, and 3—commanded by lieutenant-colonels and larger than a brigade—were directly analogous to MACVSOG’s Command and Control North, Central, and South. Each Task Force was broken into a Headquarters, a Security Company, a Reconnaissance Company of ten teams, and two Mobile Launch Sites with contingents of South Vietnamese Army and paramilitary forces under temporary Liaison Service control. Although the Liaison Service was a South Vietnam- ese unit, all of its operations were funded, planned, and controlled by MACVSOG, and recon teams integrated both MACVSOG and Liaison Service personnel.

In December 1970, in accordance with the ‘Vietnamization’ policy, all CIDG border camps were turned over to the South Vietnamese government and CIDG units were incorporated into the ARVN as Biet Dong Quan, or Ranger, border battalions. No longer needed as a CIDG training force, the LLDB was dissolved in the same month. Officers above captain were sent to the Bet Dong Quan; the best of the remaining officers and men were selected for a new STD unit, the Special Mission Service. At the same time 81 Airborne Ranger Battalion was expanded into 81 Airborne Ranger Group consisting of one headquarters company, one recon company, and seven exploitation companies. The Group was put under the direct control of the Army G-2 (Intelligence).

During 1970 the Liaison Service had staged numerous cross-border missions into Cambodia in support of major external sweeps by the US and South Vietnamese forces against Communist sanctuaries. Early the following year the Service sent three recon teams into the ‘Laotian Panhandle’ two weeks before the ARVN’s February Lam Son 71g incursion. In February 1971 the STD underwent major reorganization in accordance with Vietnamization and its anticipated increase in special operations responsibilities. Headquartered in Saigon, STD command was given to Col. Doan Van Nhu, an ARVN airborne officer and former military attaché to ‘Taiwan. As STD commander, and a non-voting member of the South Vietnamese National Security Council, Nhu took orders only from President Nguyen Van ‘Vhieu and the Chief of the ARVN JGS.

The expanded STD consisted of a headquarters, a training center, three support services, and six combat services. The training center was located at Camp Yen The in Long Thanh: Yen The, significantly, was the name of a resistance movement in northern Vietnam during the 11th century. Airborne instruction was conducted at the ARVN Airborne Division’s Camp Ap Don at Tan Son Nhut. The three support services were Administration & Logistics; Operations & Intelligence: and Psychological Warfare, which ran the ‘Vietnam Motherland’, ‘Voice of Liberty’, and ‘Patriotic Front of the Sacred Sword’ clandestine radio stations. ‘The combat services were the Liaison Service; the Special Mission Service; Group 11; Group 68; the Air Support Service; and the Coastal Security Service.

The Liaison Service, commanded by a colonel in Saigon, was composed of experienced Loi Ho (‘Pull a tiger’s tail’) recon commandos divided among Task Force 1 (Da Nang), Task Force 2 (Kontum), and ‘Task Force 3 (Ban Me Thuot). The Special Mission Service, also commanded by a colonel, was headquartered at Camp Son Tra in Da Nang. It remained in training under US auspices from February 1971 until January 1972. Unlike the shorter-duration raid and recon missions performed by the Liaison Service, the SMS was tasked with longer missions into North Vietnam and Laos. It was initially composed of Groups 71, 72, and 75, the first two headquartered at separate camps at Da Nang. Group 75 was headquartered at Pleiku in the former LLDB ‘B’ Co. barracks, with one detachment at Kontum to provide a strike force for operations in Cambodia and inside South Vietnam.

Group 11, an airborne infiltration unit based at Da Nang, and Group 68, headquartered in Saigon with detachments at Kontum, were soon integrated under SMS command. Group 68 ran airborne-trained rallier and agent units, including ‘Earth Angels’ (NVA ralliers) and 'Pike Hill' teams (Cambodians disguised as Khmer Communists). A typical Earth Angel operation took place on 145 December 1971. when a team was inserted by US aircraft on a reconnaissance mission into Mondolkiri Province, Cambodia. Pike Hill operations were focused in the same region, including a seven-man POW recovery team dropped into Ba Kev, Cambodia, on 12 February 1971. Pike Hill operations even extended into Laos, e.g. the four-man Pike Hill team parachuted onto the edge of the Bolovens Plateau on 28 December 1971, where it reported on enemy logistics traffic for almost two months. Pike Hill operations peaked in November 1972 when two teams were inserted by C-130 Blackbird aircraft flying at 250 feet north of Kompong Trach, Cambodia. Information from one of these teams resulted in 48 B-52 strikes within one day. The STD’s Air Support Service consisted of 219 ‘Queen Bee’ Helicopter Sqn., the 114 Observation Sqn., and C-47 transportation elements. The Queen Bees, originally outfitted with aging H-34s, were re-equipped with UH-1 Hueys in 1972. The C-47 fleet was augmented by two C-123 transports and one C-130 Blackbird in the same year. All were based at Nha Trang.'

+ "South-East Asian Special Forces" - Kenneth Conboy (2012):

'Seven teams operated in the vicinity of BA’s 712 and 351 for a total of 43 days. There were only two sightings of small groups of enemy during the entire period. Twelve teams worked the area in and to the west of BA 740. They confirmed the continued low level of enemy activity. A Pike Hill team spent 26 days on the ground. talking to villagers and distributing rice, before making contact with the enemy. The morale and health of villagers in this area were distressingly low. Despite 04 operational davs spread throughout this arca. only 21 enemy were observed. resulting in three contacts and two enemy KIA. The road watches of Rte’s 141 and 142. both of which lasted 10 days, revealed a complete absence of logistics movement or enemy activity. In this same area, on OS August, a US-led WACO CITY tcam was inserted at the crash site of an O-1 aircraft. The aircraft was flying a VR in support of SOG operations when it was downed by small arms fire. The bodies of the US pilot and Vietnamese observer were recovered and the team was extracted without incident. An observation of minsmal enemy activity could be made in the Wasteland were it not for the complete loss of the Pike Hill team. The last radio contact with them was made, after seven days on the ground. On 11 July, the four-team members were declared MIA. By contrast. another Pike Hill team, active during the same period less than eight kilometers to the south, was on the ground continuously since 22 June. Sympathizers have reported groups of three Khmer Rouge moving through the area, but the team made only two contacts. One of which occurred while a team member was attempting to establish contact in a village. He was captured by six Khmer Rouge. The remainder of the team, acting as a covering party, attempted to intervene, but were forced to withdraw. During the confusion the captured team member seized a MAS-36 rifle, clubbed a guard and escaped. Within the hour the team reunited and subsequently reported negative enemy activity A third Pike Hill team only six kilometers from the first Pike Hill team supported the findings of minimal activity of the second Pike Hill team 1 EN 11-270'

+ Secret Green Beret Commandos In Cambodia: MACVSOG's Command & Control Detachment South (CCS) And Its Air Partners, Republic of Vietnam, [1967-1972] (2012):


RT Maine

"RT Maine wearing NVA equipment to confuse the enemy during contacts." (MACV-SOG)

'The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States Special Operations Forces unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Second Indochina War, aka Vietnam War. Established on 24 January 1964, the unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Laos, and Cambodia; carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve allied prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia; and conducted clandestine agent team activities and psychological operations against that country.

The unit participated in most of the significant campaigns of the Vietnam War, including the Tonkin Gulf Incident which precipitated American involvement, Operation Steel Tiger, Operation Tiger Hound, the Tet Offensive, Operation Commando Hunt, the Cambodian Campaign, Operation Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. The unit was formally disbanded and replaced by the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team 158 on 1 May 1972. MACV-SOG Command & Control Central (CCC) was formed by MACV-SOG in late 1967, located in Kontum and operated in the Tri-border junction of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The primary mission of CCC (just like the other Command and Control Centers) was strategic reconnaissance gathering. Cross border, or “over the fence”, operations were invariably code named in the interests of secrecy, with missions into Laos being known as "SHINING BRASS" and later after 1968 as "PRAIRIE FIRE". Missions into Cambodia were also given code names and were initially known as "DANIEL BOONE" and later in the war this was changed to "SALEM HOUSE".

The combat elements associated with CCC were used to reinforce and assist the recon mission. The first MACV-SOG recon teams were initially called "SPIKE TEAMS", each team usually consisting of 3 US SF personnel and 9 indigenous personnel. CCC fielded approximately 30 recon teams that were named after US States. Recon teams that got into difficulty could call for assistance from US led reaction forces known as "HATCHET FORCES", these were of platoon size and consisted of 5 US SF and about 30 indigenous personnel. "HATCHET FORCES" could also be used for ambushes as well as reinforcing recon teams when needed. Two or more "HATCHET FORCES" combined were termed as a "HAVOC" or "HORNET" force. Full SOG companies were called "SLAM" companies, Search, Location, Annihilation, Monitor (or Mission). Of these CCC had 4, A,B,C, and D, and used US paid indigenous personnel recruited and paid for by MACV-SOG.

The recon teams focused their energies on specific areas of the trail in order to obtain current up to date information on construction, troop movements, supplies, etc. This information was often gained at great risk to the recon teams and transmitted to OP-34 ground studies branch at SOG HQ for inclusion into the daily SITREP reports. Relatively lightly armed the recon teams were not designed to slug it out in a pitched battle with the enemy. Instead they relied on moving without being detected, If in the event they were compromised (detected) then the ability to break contact quickly and evade the enemy was of paramount importance.

CCC was deactivated in March 1971, but in reality was altered in name only to TFAE2. A year later in March 1972 the whole organization was supposedly terminated but covert missions involving SF troops continued, and actually increased. The US forces were then not allowed to wear the famous Green Beret, this being replaced with a baseball cap.'

+ "Green Berets at War: U.S. Army Special Forces in Southeast Asia, 1956-1975" - Shelby L. Stanton (1999):

Australian Psyops in Vietnam 1970:

When the 1st Australian Task Force deployed to Vietnam in May-June 1966 the Australian Army had already developed doctrine for the conduct of what it called counter revolutionary warfare. That doctrine stated that ‘psychological warfare’ (psywar) plays a vital role in counter insurgency’.[3] But despite acknowledging this ‘vital role’, the Task Force initially included no psychological warfare capability. It was not until April 1970, when the war was winding down, that the 1st Australian Psychological Operations Unit (1 Psyops Unit) was raised. By this time the enemy in Phuoc Tuy Province had already won some significant psyops victories in the absence of any 1ATF or Free World military effort. For example, following the battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, Viet Cong psychological operations were already convincing the local population that the Australians had suffered a major defeat. This story was also broadcast on radio Hanoi and radio Peking. 1ATF had no capacity to pitch a counter story. To fill this gap, officers and soldiers from units already deployed to Vietnam as part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) were brought together to form the unit. It consisted of three officers and 23 soldiers who each possessed skills that contributed to the unit. The unit had been able to source a printer, photographer, translators/interpreters, clerks and field soldiers within 1 ATF. Some of these people, whether National Servicemen or regulars, had these trades before joining the army. In my case, I was chosen because I had previous service in South East Asia, notably in Malaya, Singapore and Thailand, and had experience working with other cultures.

I was appointed to command the two Psyops ground teams and one air team. Australia had not had its own psychological operations unit since the Far East Liaison Office (FELO) in the South West Pacific theatre in the Second World War. The skills of psychological operations and familiarity with its employment and capabilities had been lost. The need to recover these skills created a huge learning effort by the newly formed operational teams as they had no formal training courses in psychological operations. About eight soldiers of the different teams were sent to the US Army base at Bien Hoa with members of the ground and air operations team, for a one-week, hastily put together training course, run by the United States Army psychological operations battalion. Among them were National Serviceman Private (later Corporal) Ian Botham, the printer, and regular army soldier Private Daniel ‘Speedy’ Wright, the photographer and plate maker. It was hardly enough training, but was all we could scrounge and we were grateful to receive it. The unit had an air team of one corporal and two private soldiers. The ground teams consisted of a team leader, a driver (for the team vehicle), one psyops operator, one South Vietnamese sergeant interpreter/translator and one South Vietnamese Bushman Scout. Bushman Scouts were former Viet Cong soldiers who had rallied to the South Vietnamese Government side under the Chieu Hoi program (or ‘Open Arms’, Returnee scheme) and had completed a six-week indoctrination course at the Province Chieu Hoi centre after which they were deemed suitable to serve with Australian or American units for their expert knowledge of Viet Cong tactics and techniques. They were known as Hoi Chans (meaning returnees). Once working with allied units the Americans called them Kit Carson Scouts and the Australians called them Bushman Scouts. One ground team was commanded by me and the other was commanded by a Corporal. I programmed all ground and air missions.

Australia PsyOps

The Air Team:

When an enemy unit had been in contact with a 1ATF unit, and a firefight had occurred, the air team was often deployed to the vicinity with the aim of encouraging some of the enemy to rally to the government side. If the enemy unit had been identified as being a main force or district unit, or was suspected of being so, the air team would select a range of leaflets (see below) for the mission. These would include a ‘Safe Conduct’ leaflet and leaflets that were more general in nature but related to the ‘Chieu Hoi’ scheme. Usually, the minimum drop was about 120,000 to 240,000 leaflets in a mixed drop. In consultation with the Intelligence Sergeant (the Intelligence Officer was usually deployed under Detachment 1 Division Intelligence Unit as an Intelligence Liaison Officer to a District called MILO’s) an area would be selected where the drop would take place. The leaflets were about 15 cm x 7.6 cm (6 inch x 3 inch) or 12.7 cm x 10.2 cm (5 inch x 4 inch) in size. Size and weight of the leaflets was significant because it affected the scatter of the dropped leaflets.

An aircraft, usually a helicopter, would be requested and if approved the plan would kick into place. An aircraft ‘approval form’ was completed and walked through the air cell at Headquarters 1ATF. If approved by the air cell, they notified the artillery net about the time and target area for the leaflet drop so that possible friendly fire incidents could be avoided. The air team had to give a copy of this form to the pilot prior to take-off. I had acquired (relocated) a lightweight metal chute on a previous trip to Bien Hoa that clipped onto the floor of a Huey helicopter. The chute protruded out of the aircraft and down near the skid. The following picture shows the leaflets coming out of the chute and the disbursement in the air over the area to be covered.

If a standard helicopter was not available from 9 Squadron RAAF, one could be ordered through the Air Cell at Headquarters 1ATF from the United States Army at Bien Hoa. Sometimes a helicopter with transmitting speakers was ordered (see below). The air team would bring along Chieu Hoi themed messages for broadcast via a reel-to-reel tape recorder mounted in the aircraft (see below). While the tape was playing, the Air Team operator would lay on the helicopter floor with the door open while he continuously threw handfuls of leaflets out of the aircraft. However, using this method, leaflets tended to fall in an unsatisfactory uneven pattern. The Air Team radio callsign was Litterbug 13. We believed that these taped messages worked much better when played at night. Helicopters were generally unsuitable for audio broadcasting as the helicopter made too much noise and at times drowned out the broadcast message. This improved when the Australian Pilatus Porter arrived in country.

The Ground Teams:

The ground teams’ territory was made by dividing the province into two. In my time Team 3 looked after the north of the province and Route 15 and their callsign was Litterbug 12. Team 2 (my team) looked after the southern part of the province. The Ground Team 2 callsign was Litterbug 11. The Ground Team tasks were to:

  • Support Village Cordon and Search operations
  • Support roadblock and identification operations on province roads.
  • Support Chieu Hoi programs in conjunction with Armed Propaganda Teams

Support Civil Affairs programs including:

  • Integrated Civil Action Projects (ICAPS)
  • Medical Civil Action Projects (MedCAPS)
  • Dental Civil Action Projects (DentCAPS)
  • Safety education programs
  • Public Relations
  • School education programs through Health and Safety and entertainment.

Support to Local Forces including:

  • Development Cadre (RDC)
  • Armed Propaganda Team (APT)
  • Province Recon Team (PRT)
  • Regional Force units (RF)
  • Popular Force units (PF)
  • Police detachments
  • Political Warfare (POLWAR) Operations

Working with Armed Propaganda Teams:

Armed Propaganda Teams (APTs) were former Viet Cong fighters who had rallied to the South Vietnamese government through the Chieu Hoi program. While undergoing retraining at the Chieu Hoi Centre they had been found suitable to be retrained and placed in armed teams. They operated under a program controlled by a District Military Commander. They were to travel to villages and visit families of known Viet Cong members. The names of these known Viet Cong members were on lists which were called ‘Blacklists’. The Armed Propaganda Team members could talk about their own experiences living as a Viet Cong soldier, and the hardships experienced. They could refute the stories told by Viet Cong leaders and Political Officers about Viet Cong battlefield successes and their exaggerated claims of Australian or ARVN defeats. An example of this was when I was to work in the villages of Dat Do district. My contact was the United States District Advisor. He sat down with the South Vietnamese Dat Do District Commander and together they decided what villages to target. My Ground Team would travel with the APT Team. At the village I would visit the Deputy for Security. I would inform him of what the teams intended to do. Some had previous experience with the APT teams and in general they were not impressed. I would visit the house of a known Viet Cong on the ‘Blacklist’. Often the only person at home was the wife as her husband was usually working in the fields. Younger children were usually at school. These operations lasted about a week.

The team members visiting the house would include me, my Vietnamese Army interpreter and an APT member. An Australian soldier from my team would wait outside house. He was my protection. With him would be the rest of the APT team. Sometimes the APT members were a nuisance. They would wander in and out of the house, talk and laugh loudly, and be generally disinterested. They tended to disrupt the conversation I was trying to have with the homeowner. They seemed to have no qualms about going through the homeowners’ personal belongings. All members of the APT carried .30 calibre M1 Carbines with a 30-round magazine. I didn’t regard them as a satisfactory force as they only wanted to sit in roadside rest stops so they could eat, drink and sleep in the hammocks provided for travellers.

As we had never been trained or advised how to do this job, I tackled it this way. I told those who were in the house that I was a representative of the Vietnamese Government. Not surprisingly, that was something they never seemed to believe. I enquired about their relatives on the ‘Black List’. Sometimes they told me that they had not heard from them for a long time, or they never listened to the family if they had been in contact. I asked them if they had heard of the government’s Chieu Hoi returnee scheme. Some said yes and some replied no. I told them the benefits of the scheme. I thought this was more effective when I could hear helicopters flying nearby or when artillery was firing. It allowed me to say that I hope that the government was not attacking their relative’s unit. Their responses from the homeowner seemed to fall into three categories. Some sat there and said nothing. Some appeared to respond positively to the messages. A few argued about the rights and wrongs of the South Vietnamese government or wanted to say why they thought the Viet Cong were going to win.

I would suggest that there are not many Australian soldiers that can do this type of work. You cannot be aggressive. You have to listen carefully. You have to keep a smile on your face at all times. You must never raise your voice and you must always thank the homeowner at the end of your visit. These skills are important in the Psyops game. I have thought that someone in Central Army records or at Army Headquarters should be keeping a record of Army personnel with these skills, just as they do with skills formally attained through training courses. Personnel posted to positions in Psyops should be drawn from those who demonstrate these skills. Psyops warriors need to have some special qualities. They need to be independent, self-motivated, outcome oriented, and to have more than a touch of salesman in them. I also worked with the Revolutionary Development Cadre (RDC) doing the same work. Unlike the APT, they were utterly professional. These RDC groups knew what was going on in their villages and were an asset to our work. They lived in the villages and provided agricultural advice and support along with a dose of political indoctrination in support of the government, so their lives depended to a considerable extent on recognising the subtle changes in the political allegiance of the villagers. They sometimes had Viet Cong rally to the government as a result of the work they did.

Ghost Tapes

One theme that was tried on the enemy was called ‘Wandering Souls’. This was a tape played by the Air Team using aircraft equipped with loudspeakers. It was also used by the Ground Team, but not in the vicinity of South Vietnamese soldiers. There were several versions of this message played throughout Vietnam by Free World Military Forces. The Air Team broadcast this tape using helicopters and a US Army aircraft specially equipped for Psyops. This was a Cessna O2B push/pull twin-tailed aircraft with a bank of loudspeakers built into the airframe at an angle. When the Australian Pilatus Porter aircraft arrived in country in 161 Independent Reconnaissance Flight, it was also used for Psyops audio broadcasts. The Pilatus Porter was particularly well suited to audio broadcast operations because the loudspeakers could be mounted inside the aircraft pointing straight down through a hatch in the floor. The aircraft could fly straight and level at just above stall speed to reduce the masking effect of the aircraft engine noise. The ‘Wandering Souls’ tape was about 20 to 30 seconds long. The first half of the tape was ‘electronic’ music with a soft male voice-over saying that he is wounded and is dying and asking where is home? The music then changed to distorted and spooky ‘psychedelic’ music while the now ghostly voice states that he is now dead, and his spirit is wandering.

The tape was designed to play upon the spiritual beliefs of Vietnamese soldiers. In Vietnamese culture families are required to perform rituals over the dead to allow their ‘wandering soul’ to find rest. This tape aimed to make enemy soldiers think about the possibility of dying in a remote jungle location where their remains would never be found and their spirit would be destined to wander the spirit world forever in torment. To avoid this dreadful fate they could rally to the government under the Chieu Hoi scheme. The wandering souls tape was believed to be highly effective. The tape was so scary that one allied pilot I met refused to fly Psyops missions if the tape was to be broadcast. In this type of work, it is hard to know if your activities had any effect on the enemy. Interrogation of ralliers and prisoners of war can sometimes provide clues but the first time we received concrete evidence of our success occurred when an enemy courier was killed. This person carried several directives from the higher headquarters to be delivered to units under their command. One of these directives instructed all commanders that if they became engaged with the enemy (Americans or Australians) and had soldiers killed, they were ordered to collect all their own bodies from the battlefield at all costs and bury them properly. This was aimed at nullifying our ‘Wandering Souls’ campaign by reassuring their soldiers that they would receive a proper burial. Our program seemed to be a great success.

One of the many tasks I had, was to interview the Hoi Chanhs about four to six weeks after they had returned to the government. They were still with the Chieu Hoi Centre which was located east of the provincial capital Baria and close the Van Kiep military base, and this was where the interviews were conducted. If they were found to be illiterate they could not be successfully exploited as they could not write messages for leaflet production. However, if literate and they agreed to assist us, then we would interview them. We had a standard set of questions we would ask them. Questions were about our leaflets, such as did they see any, did they read them (their political officers forbade them from reading the leaflets), what was the theme of the leaflets they saw, etc. When discussion turned to messages from a voice aircraft, we asked if they had heard any and if so, what was the theme. Most Hoi Chanhs had heard the voice messages but could not remember the message. Others could sometimes remember the themes but not the specific content of the message. It was during one of these interviews that a returnee replied for the first time that when our aircraft flew over the base or camp area, the Political Officer ordered them underground into the bunkers so they could not hear our message. This was the first time I realised that the enemy had employed a simple but effective counter-measure to the air broadcasts. While this was a countermeasure to the broadcasts it did not stop us from broadcastings as we still targeted those enemy troops on the move or those moving through the Australian Area of Operations.'

+ "Australian Psyops in Vietnam 1970" - By Derrill De Heer, 1st Psychological Operations Unit at Nui Dat (2019):


Operation Pony Express (1965-69):

'The Pony Express was the covert transportation of, and the provision of aerial support for, indigenous soldiers and material operating across the Laotian and North Vietnamese borders during the Vietnam War. It was provided by Sikorsky CH-3C helicopters of the US 20th Helicopter Squadron, the only USAF combat helicopter squadron in Vietnam, which had been transferred there in 1965 and was known as the "Pony Express". On 21 September 1965 the JCS authorized MACV-SOG to begin cross-border operations within Laos in areas contiguous to the South Vietnam's western border. Typically the 20th SOS carried unconventional forces across the border for secret missions into North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, such as the special operations group inserted by CH-3C/E helicopter across the Vietnamese border on June 30, 1968. Most of these SOG recon teams were made up of personnel indigenous to the population, reducing American combat casualties.

The 20th Helicopter Squadron "Pony Express" was one of the most extraordinary and outstanding combat units in Southeast Asia. The Pony Express' primary highly classified mission was counterinsurgency. They flew their unarmed helicopters from Thailand to various friendly airstrips in Laos where they could refuel and await to launch their missions. They would fly indigenous troops into unprepared sites in Laos and North Vietnam to gather intelligence on troop/truck movements, etc. This information would in turn be forwarded to the appropriate Military agencies to select targets for air strike missions. The unit aircraft were basic CH-3C Sikorsky helicopters models. No armor was deemed necessary at this time since the mission was to be clandestine and the power/weight ratio was considered more important. Even then, with the equipped engines, power was sometimes very marginal. In early 1968, the engines were upgraded from the 1300 hp model to the 1500 hp models which was a vast improvement in the high temperature/humidity environment. With the upgrading of the engines, armor was installed on the engine cowling doors, the transmission doors, and around the tail rotor gearbox. Designation was changed from CH-3C to CH-3E.

Due to the classified nature of their mission, the 20th CH-3's did not display any U.S. markings or insignia. They were equipped with slotted hangers to insert the USAF insignia when flying "in country". The pilots had no insignia on their flight suits. The helicopters were painted the standard camouflage pattern, except one. CH-3C #63-09676 was painted flat black to determine the color feasibility for our mission. It soon was given the nickname of "Black Mariah". (It was the only black H-3 to serve in SEA and is now on display at the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.) The infil/exfil site would be selected and studied. Previous to the flight an airborne "recon" of the site would be made, often using CAS Beech Baron or Air America Pilatus Porter aircraft. Since the Air America aircraft were constantly flying over the country, they would hardly be noticed. The mission tactics would usually include two helicopters. One would be the "high bird" and would orbit at a discreet distance to distract the enemy and to act as a rescue aircraft if needed. The "low bird" would fly in at low altitude to the selected site to offload the troops. This was usually accomplished at dusk to give the ground troops a chance to disperse if enemy forces were encountered. If any enemy ground fire was encountered on the "infil" approach, the mission would be aborted and the troops not put at undue risk.

As previously stated, the helicopters were not equipped with armor. The crew would wear the "flak vest" and place another flack vest under the pilot seats to provide personal protection. Their only weapons were the crewmember's personal weapons, an M-16 rifle and a .38 caliber revolver. The infil portion of the mission required secrecy and not a firefight. The "exfil" though might another matter. Sometimes the ground troops would encounter enemy forces and would require extraction while under enemy fire. The "Ponies" depended on "top cover" usually supplied by A-1 Skyraider fighter aircraft, call sign depended on where they were stationed and could be "Sandy", Hobo" or "Firefly", to provide close air support with their guns and bombs, if needed. In the early days at Udorn, the Ponies were sometimes accompanied by World War II twin engine B-26 Invader aircraft callsign "Nimrod".

The Pony Express other mission was in support of TACAN navigational sites in Laos. These sites were important in guiding fighter and bomber aircraft on strike missions into North Vietnam. The helicopters would deliver personnel and needed supplies, such as power generators and diesel fuel, to the remotely located sites. One of the most important of these sites was at Lima Site 85 on top of a 5800' karst mountain, 19 km south of the Laotian/North Vietnam border and 125 miles southwest of Hanoi. LS85 also was supplied with super secret equipment used to direct strike missions around Hanoi. In the spring of 1968, some pilots and CH-3s of the 20th HES were transferred to Nakhon Phanom RTAFB (NKP) to form the 21st Helicopter Squadron. In July 1968, four UH-1F's and 10 pilots from the 20th Helicopter Squadron, "E" Flight, "Green Hornets," arrived from Nha Trang. The "new" Pony Express Hueys flew virtually all the same missions as the H-3's. There were a few of the H-3 missions in Northern Laos that the Hueys were not involved in due to the extreme distance and limited range of the UH-1. On occasion, the Huey would carry a 55-gallon barrel of fuel in the cabin. If the Huey required the extra fuel, the crewchief would hook up his safety strap, step out onto the chopper's skid and hold the refueling hose as the other crewman pumped the fuel into the Huey's fuel tank. This was done at cruising altitude.

In August 1968 the 20th Helicopter Squadron was redesignated the 20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS). The Pony Express continued to fly many missions in support of DOSA (Director of Operations for Special Activities) through 1968 and into 1969. The Ponies flew 75% of their flying time as combat time and over 75% of their time flying their primary DOSA missions. The Pony Express always had two large and important missions, TACAN support and DOSA missions fragged by 7/13th AF in support of the secret war in Laos. The Ponies did not have sufficient helicopters and pilots to accomplish every mission adequately. Some of their large missions required the use of up to 20 CH-3E helicopters and they only had nine CH-3's and four UH-1's assigned. On many occasions the Pony Express called upon the 21st SOS at NKP to help with these large missions. Many times they were assisted by helicopters from Air America. As early as June 1968, higher Headquarters began talk of merging the 20th and 21st began which would allow them to work more closely together and utilize the 21st flying time more for combat missions. The Pony Express would remain at Udorn as a Forward Operating Location (FOL) with basically the same people, aircraft and mission. Little did anyone know of the problems to follow. Apparently the ego and petty jealousy of the Wing Commander at NKP who insisted that all assets be transferred to NKP created a severe demoralizing effect on all concerned. The Ponies crews still accomplished their mission in an excellent manner despite the difficulties.

On 5 Sep 1969, the 20th SOS CH-3E aircraft and personnel at Udorn were reassigned to the 21st SOS at NKP. The FOL at Udorn lost three helicopters to NKP and many pilot spaces which amounted to one third of its capability, yet the FOL still flew 63% of the DOSA missions and 60% of the TACAN and an amazing 53.8% of the overall mission of the entire newly formed 21st SOS headquartered at NKP with the FOL stationed at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand. When the 20th SOS CH-3E's were transferred to the 21st SOS, without ceremony or fanfare, the "Pony Express" part of the 20th Special Operations Squadron ceased to exist.'

+ Operation Pony Express - Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam (1965-1969):


NKP Thailand

'MACV-SOG—Military Assistance Command, Vietnam—Special Operations Group (later renamed Studies and Observations Group)—was the elite military unit of the Vietnam War, so secret that its existence was denied by the U.S. government. The group reported directly to the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and much of its history and exploits were concealed for years from the general public by a veil of secrecy and confidentiality... The all-volunteer MACV-SOG (most were U.S. Army Special Forces “Green Berets”) carried out some of the most dangerous and challenging special operations of the Vietnam War. MACV-SOG made high-altitude, low-opening parachute jumps behind enemy lines, routinely carried out reconnaissance missions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, penetrated deep into Laos and Cambodia, recovered downed pilots and attempted several POW rescues. Ranging deep in the enemy’s rear, MACV-SOG reconnaissance teams forced Hanoi to divert 40,000 troops—about four divisions—to rear security missions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. From his own personal knowledge of MACV-SOG operations and from interviews with more than 100 MACV-SOG veterans, along with recently declassified documents, Plaster has crafted a heavily anecdotal and riveting account. He offers tales of close, violent combat actions between MACV-SOG teams and large numbers of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops. While some infantrymen in Vietnam despaired of ever seeing the enemy, MACV-SOG teams often found themselves fighting their way out of a hornet’s nest of angry NVA battalions. Plaster recounts some of the most extraordinary tales of the Vietnam War. Some stories will lay to rest old rumors; others will just raise more questions. For example, Plaster describes how two Chinese advisers were killed when reconnaissance team (RT) Maine ambushed an NVA company command element, killing the commander, his three platoon leaders and two Chinese advisers as they gathered for lunch. Plaster also tells about the “crazy Canadians” who served in the U.S. Army with MACV-SOG, including Robert Graham, who once carried a Simpsons (Sears) 55-pound hunting bow and shot broadhead-tipped arrows at the NVA during a firefight. Plaster relates some of MACV-SOG’s lighter moments as well. Mixed in with the pathos of combat is some great humor. Readers will not be disappointed; the book is worth its cover price just for one very funny story about a bicycle. In another amusing anecdote, Harvey “Hippie” Saal walks buck-naked into an NCO club after he is refused entrance for wearing a dirty uniform. There are a number of stories about the legendary Walt Shumate, and Plaster explains why there were so many Walt Shumate stories. Indeed, MACV-SOG is the stuff of legends. Legends such as the 14 men of RT Kansas who held off an NVA regiment; the captured NVA “Earth Angels” used against their former comrades; the combat high-altitude, low-opening jumps into NVA redoubts; and the men of RT Colorado’s who faced nearly 300 NVA formed in ranks in front of the team’s eight Claymore mines. Another MACV-SOG legend and one of its well-known characters, Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver, received his sobriquet courtesy of Radio Hanoi. Resplendent when off duty in his derby hat and blue-velvet smoking jacket, his closest companion was Klaus, a German shepherd... MACV-SOG had more than its share of MIAs. One of the most well-known was Larry Thorne, a Finnish veteran of the so-called Winter War against the Soviet Union during the prelude to World War II and a recipient of the Mannerheim Cross. Thorne was carrying a bolt-action .30-06 Springfield when he became MACV-SOG’s first MIA in Laos. Stories abound of teams that disappeared without a trace, though sometimes circumstances and evidence (such as proof that NVA concussion grenades had been used) led MACV-SOG to believe that the men were captured. A dozen entire teams are still unaccounted for. Of the men known to be prisoners of war, only a few returned home alive. No MACV-SOG POWs were released from Laos... MACV-SOG recon casualties exceeded 100 percent, the highest sustained American loss rate since the Civil War. In 1968, every MACV-SOG recon man was wounded at least once, and about half were killed. But despite such high losses, MACV-SOG boasted the highest “kill ratio” in U.S. military history, topping out at 158-to-1 in 1970.'

+ "SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam" - John L. Plaster (1997):

'The genesis of Eldest Son was the fertile mind of SOG's commander, 1966-68, Colonel John K. Singlaub, a World War II veteran of covert actions with the Office of Strategic Services. "I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn't airlift the ammunition we were discovering on the [Ho Chi Minh] Trail" in Laos, Singlaub explained. It was not unusual for SOG's small recon teams - composed of two or three American Green Berets and four to six native soldiers - to find tons of ammunition in enemy base camps and caches along the Laotian highway system. But SOG teams lacked the manpower to secure the sites or carry the ordnance away. Further, it could not be burned up, and demolition would only scatter small-arms ammunition, not destroy it. "Initially I thought of just boobytrapping it so that when they'd pick up a case it would blow up," Singlaub recalled. Then it hit him - boobytrap the ammunition itself! Though obscure, this trick was not new. In the 1930s, to combat rebellious tribesmen in northwest India's Waziristan - the same lawless region where Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists hide today - the British army planted sabotaged .303 rifle ammunition. Even before that, during the Second Metabele War (1896-97) in today's Zimbabwe, British scouts (led by the American adventurer Frederick Russell Burnham) had slipped explosive- packed rifle cartridges into hostile stockpiles, to deadly effect. SOG would do likewise, the Joint Chiefs decided on August 30, 1967, but first Col. Singlaub arranged for CIA ordnance experts to conduct a quick feasibility study. A few weeks later, at Camp Chinen, Okinawa, Singlaub watched a CIA technician load a sabotaged 7.62x39 mm cartridge into a bench-mounted AK rifle. "It completely blew up the receiver and the bolt was projected backwards," Singlaub observed, "I would imagine into the head of the firer."

After that success began a month of tedious bullet pulling to manually disassemble thousands of 7.62 mm cartridges, made more difficult because Chinese ammo had a tough lacquer seal where the bullet seated into the case. In this process, some bullets suffered tiny scrapes, but when reloaded these marks seated out of sight below the case mouth. Rounds were inspected to ensure they showed no signs of tampering. When the job was done, 11,565 AK rounds had been sabotaged, along with 556 rounds for the Communist Bloc's heavy 12.7 mm machine gun, a major anti-helicopter weapon. Eldest Son cartridges originally were reloaded with a powder similar to PETN high explosive, but sufficiently shock-sensitive that an ordinary rifle primer would detonate it. This white powder, however, did not even faintly resemble gunpowder. SOG's technical wizard, Ben Baker - our answer to James Bond's "Q" - decided this powder might compromise the program if ever an enemy soldier pulled apart an Eldest Son round. He obtained a substitute explosive that so closely resembled gunpowder that it would pass inspection by anyone but an ordnance expert. While the AKM and Type 56 AKs and the RPD light machine gun could accommodate a chamber pressure of 45,000 p.s.i., Baker's deadly powder generated a whopping 250,000 p.s.i.

Sabotaging the ammunition proved the easiest challenge. The CIA's Okinawa lab also did a very professional job of prying open ammo crates, unsealing the interior metal cans and then repacking them so there was no sign of tampering. In addition to SOG sabotaging 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm rounds, these CIA ordnance experts perfected a special fuse for the Communist 82 mm mortar round that would detonate the hand-dropped projectile while inside the mortar tube, for especially devastating effect. Exactly 1,968 of these mortar rounds were sabotaged, too. Project Eldest Son's greatest challenge was "placement" - getting the infernal devices into the enemy logistical system without detection. That's where SOG's Green Beret-led recon teams came in. Since the fall of 1965, our small teams had been running deniable missions into Laos to gather intelligence, wiretap enemy communications, kidnap key enemy personnel, ambush convoys, raid supply dumps, plant mines and generally make life as difficult as possible in enemy rear areas. As an additional mission, each team carried along a few Eldest Son rounds - usually as a single round in an otherwise full AK magazine or one round in an RPD machine gun belt or a sealed ammo can - to plant whenever an opportunity arose.

When an SOG team discovered an ammo dump, they planted Eldest Son; when a SOG team ambushed an enemy patrol, they switched magazines in a dead soldier's AK. It was critically important never to plant more than one round per magazine, belt or ammo can, so no amount of searching after a gun exploded would uncover a second round, to preclude the enemy from determining this was sabotage. Planting sabotaged 82 mm mortar ammo proved more cumbersome because these were not transported as loose rounds, but in three-round, wooden cases. Thus, you had to tote a whole case, which must have weighed more than 25 lbs. Twice I recall carrying such crates for insertion in enemy rear areas, and to our surprise, my team once witnessed a platoon of NVA soldiers carry one away. SOG's most clever insertion was accomplished by SOG SEALS operating in the Mekong Delta, where they filled a captured sampan with tainted cases of ammunition, shot it tastefully full of bullet holes, then spilled chicken blood over it and set it adrift upstream from a known Viet Cong village. Of course, the VC assumed the boat's Communist crew had fallen overboard during an ambush. The Viet Cong took the ammunition, hook, line and sinker.

In Laos, American B-52s constantly targeted enemy logistical areas, which churned up sizeable pieces of terrain. SOG exploited this opportunity by organizing a special team that landed just after B-52 strikes to construct false bunkers in such devastated tracts, then "salt" these stockpiles with Eldest Son ammunition. However, on November 30, 1968, the helicopter carrying SOG's secret Eldest Son team, flying some 20 miles west of the Khe Sanh Marine base, was hit by an enemy 37 mm anti-aircraft round, setting off a tremendous mid-air explosion. Seven cases of tainted 82 mm mortar ammunition detonated, killing everyone on board, including Maj. Samuel Toomey and seven U.S. Army Green Berets. Their remains were not recovered for 20 years. But as a result of these cross- border efforts, Eldest Son rounds began to turn up inside South Vietnam. In a northern province, 101st Airborne Division paratroopers found a dead Communist soldier grasping his exploded rifle, while an officer at SOG's Saigonheadquarters, Captain Ed Lesesne, received the photo of a dead enemy soldier with his bolt blown out the back of his AK. "It had gone right through his eye socket," Lesesne reported.

Chad Spawr, an intelligence specialist with the 1st Infantry Division, heard of such a case but, "didn't believe it until they walked me over and opened up the body bag, and there he was, with the weapon in the bag." Unaware of SOG's covert program, Spawr attributed the incident to inferior weapons and ammo. Boobytrapped mortar rounds took their toll, too. Twenty-Fifth Infantry Division soldiers came upon an entire enemy mortar battery destroyed - four peeled back tubes with dead gunners. In another incident, a 101st Airborne firebase was taking mortar fire when there was an odd-sounding, "boom-pff!" A patrol later found two enemy bodies beside a split mortar tube and blood trails going off into the jungle. On July 3, 1968, after an enemy mortar attack on Ban Me Thuot airstrip, nine Communist soldiers were found dead in one firing position, their tube so badly shattered that it had vanished but for two small fragments.

Boobytrapped ammunition clearly was getting into enemy hands, so it was time to initiate SOG's insidious "black psyop" exploitation. "Our interest was not in killing the soldier that was using the weapon," explained Colonel Steve Cavanaugh, who replaced Singlaub in 1968. "We were trying to leave in the minds of the North Vietnamese that the ammunition they were getting from China was bad ammunition." Hopefully, this would aggravate Hanoi's leadership - which traditionally distrusted the Chinese - and cause individual soldiers to question the reliability (and safety) of their Chinese-supplied arms and ordnance. One Viet Cong document - forged by SOG and insinuated into enemy channels through a double-agent - made light of exploding weapons, claiming, "We know that it is rumored some of the ammunition has exploded in the AK-47. This report is greatly exaggerated. It is a very, very small percentage of the ammunition that has exploded." Another forged document announced, "Only a few thousand such cases have been found thus far," and concluded, "The People's Republic of China may have been having some quality control problems [but] these are being worked out and we think that in the future there will be very little chance of this happening."

That, "in the future," hook was especially devious, because an enemy soldier looking at lot numbers could see that virtually all his ammo had been loaded years earlier. No fresh ammo could possibly reach soldiers fighting in the South for many years. Next came an overt "safety" campaign, with Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) publishing Technical Intelligence Brief No. 2-68, "Analysis of Damaged Weapons." Openly circulated to U.S. and South Vietnamese units, this SOG-inspired study examined several exploded AKs, concluding they were destroyed by "defective metallurgy resulting in fatigue cracks" or "faulty ammunition, which produced excessive chamber pressure." An SOG operative left a copy at a Saigon bar whose owners were suspected enemy agents. Under the guise of cautioning G.I.s against using enemy weapons, warnings were sent to Armed Forces Radio and TV. The civilian Stateside tabloid Army Times warned, "Numerous incidents have caused injury and sometimes death to the operators of enemy weapons," the cause of which was, "defective metallurgy" or "faulty ammo." The 25th Infantry Division newspaper similarly warned soldiers on July 14, 1969, that, "because of poor quality control procedures in Communist Bloc factories, many AKs with even a slight malfunction will blow up when fired." Despite such warnings, some G.I.s fired captured arms, and inevitably one American's souvenir AK exploded, inflicting serious (but not fatal) injuries.'


Eldest Son

'That incident spurned SOG itself to stop using captured ammunition in our own AKs and RPD machine guns. SOG purchased commercial 7.62 mm ammunition through a Finnish middleman - and, ironically, this ammo, which SOG's covert operators fired at their Communist foes - had been manufactured in a Soviet arsenal in Petrograd. By mid-1969, word about Eldest Son began leaking out, with articles in the New York Times and Time, compelling SOG to change the codename to Italian Green, and later, to Pole Bean. As of July 1, 1969, a declassified report discloses, SOG operatives had inserted 3,638 rounds of sabotaged 7.62 mm, plus 167 rounds of 12.7 mm and 821 rounds of 82 mm mortar ammunition. That fall, the Joint Chiefs directed SOG to dispose of its remaining stockpile and end the program. In November, my team was specially tasked to insert as much Eldest Son as possible, making multiple landings on the Laotian border to get rid of the stuff before authority expired. Lacking the earlier finesse, such insertions had to have confirmed to the enemy that we were sabotaging his ammunition-but even this, SOG believed, was psychologically useful, creating a big shell game in which the enemy had to question endlessly which ammunition was polluted and which was not. The enemy came to fear any cache where there was evidence that SOG recon teams got near it and, thanks to radio intercepts, SOG headquarters learned that the enemy's highest levels of command had expressed concerns about exploding arms, Chinese quality control and sabotage. In that sense, Project Eldest Son was a total success - but as with any such covert deception program, you can never quite be sure.'

+ Major John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.). "Wreaking Havoc One Round At A Time" - American Rifleman (2008):



+ The Battle of Khe Sanh (1968):
+ Operation Lam Son 719 (1971):
+ "Mad Dog" Shriver:
+ Duc Lap Special Forces Camp (Hill 722)):
+ 20th Special Operations Squadron (1965-72):
+ 1st Combat Evaluation Group (1961-89):
+ Battle of Lima Site 85 (1968):
+ Project Eldest Son (1968):
+ Italian Green / Pole Bean (1968):
+ Vietnamese Rangers (1951-75):


+ "Psychological Operations" - US Army HQ (2005):

typehost's picture

Pol Pot

Angkar, the Khmer Rouge, & Pol Pot:

'The Communist Party of Kampuchea (Khmer: បក្សកុម្មុយនីស្តកម្ពុជា or បក្សកុម្មុយនីសកម្ពុជា / CPK), also known as the Khmer Communist Party (KCP), was a communist party in Cambodia. Its leader was Pol Pot and its followers were generally known as Khmer Rouge (Red Khmers). The party was underground for most of its existence and took power in the country in 1975 and established the state known as Democratic Kampuchea. The party lost power in 1979 with the establishment of the People's Republic of Kampuchea by leftists who were dissatisfied by the Pol Pot regime and by the intervention of Vietnamese military forces after a period of mass killing. The party was officially dissolved in 1981, with the Party of Democratic Kampuchea claiming its legacy. The party was founded in 1951, when the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) was divided into separate Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese communist parties. The decision to form a separate Cambodian communist party had been taken at the ICP congress in February the same year. Different sources claim different dates for the exact founding and the first congress of the party. Son Ngoc Minh was appointed as Acting Chairman of the party.

During the mid-1950s, two KPRP factions, the "urban committee" (headed by Tou Samouth) and the "rural committee" (headed by Sieu Heng), emerged. In very general terms, these groups espoused divergent revolutionary lines. The prevalent "urban" line endorsed by North Vietnam recognized that Sihanouk by virtue of his success in winning independence from the French was a genuine national leader whose neutralism and deep distrust of the United States made him a valuable asset in Hanoi's struggle to "liberate" South Vietnam. Champions of this line hoped that the prince could be persuaded to distance himself from the right-wing and to adopt leftist policies. The other line, supported for the most part by rural cadres who were familiar with the harsh realities of the countryside, advocated an immediate struggle to overthrow the "feudalist" Sihanouk. In 1959, Sieu Heng defected to the government and provided the security forces with information that enabled them to destroy as much as 90% of the party's rural apparatus. Although communist networks in Phnom Penh and in other towns under Tou Samouth's jurisdiction fared better, only a few hundred communists remained active in the country by 1960.

During the 1950s, Khmer students in Paris organized their own communist movement which had little, if any, connection to the hard-pressed party in their homeland. From their ranks came the men and women who returned home and took command of the party apparatus during the 1960s, led an effective insurgency against Sihanouk and Lon Nol from 1968 until 1975 and established the regime of Democratic Kampuchea. Pol Pot, who rose to the leadership of the communist movement in the 1960s, was born in 1928 (some sources say in 1925) in Kampong Thum Province, northeast of Phnom Penh. He attended a technical high school in the capital and then went to Paris in 1949 to study radio electronics (other sources say he attended a school for printers and typesetters and also studied civil engineering). Another member of the Paris student group was Ieng Sary. He was a Chinese-Khmer born in 1930 in South Vietnam. He attended the elite Lycée Sisowath in Phnom Penh before beginning courses in commerce and politics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (more widely known as Sciences Po) in France. Khieu Samphan, considered "one of the most brilliant intellects of his generation", was born in 1931 and specialized in economics and politics during his time in Paris. In talent, he was rivaled by Hou Yuon (born in 1930), who studied economics and law. Son Sen (born in 1930) studied education and literature while Hu Nim (born in 1932) studied law.

Most members of the Paris student group came from landowner or civil servant families. Three of the Paris group forged a bond that survived years of revolutionary struggle and intraparty strife, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary married Khieu Ponnary and Khieu Thirith (also known as Ieng Thirith), purportedly relatives of Khieu Samphan. These two well-educated women also played a central role in the regime of Democratic Kampuchea. At some time between 1949 and 1951, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary joined the French Communist Party. In 1951, the two men went to East Berlin to participate in a youth festival. This experience is considered to have been a turning point in their ideological development. Meeting with Khmers who were fighting with the Viet Minh (and whom they subsequently judged to be too subservient to the Vietnamese), they became convinced that only a tightly disciplined party organization and a readiness for armed struggle could achieve revolution. They transformed the Khmer Students' Association (KSA), to which most of the 200 or so Khmer students in Paris belonged, into an organization for nationalist and leftist ideas. Inside the KSA and its successor organizations was a secret organization known as the Cercle Marxiste. The organization was composed of cells of three to six members with most members knowing nothing about the overall structure of the organization. In 1952, Pol Pot, Hou Yuon, Ieng Sary and other leftists gained notoriety by sending an open letter to Sihanouk calling him the "strangler of infant democracy". A year later, the French authorities closed down the KSA, but Hou Yuon and Khieu Samphan helped to establish in 1956 a new group, the Khmer Students' Union. Inside, the group was still run by the Cercle Marxiste.


Phnom Penh

The doctoral dissertations written by Hou Yuon and Khieu Samphan express basic themes that were later to become the cornerstones of the policy adopted by Democratic Kampuchea. The central role of the peasants in national development was espoused by Hou Yuon in his 1955 thesis, The Cambodian Peasants and Their Prospects for Modernization which challenged the conventional view that urbanization and industrialization are necessary precursors of development. The major argument in Khieu Samphan's 1959 thesis, Cambodia's Economy and Industrial Development, was that the country had to become self-reliant and end its economic dependency on the developed world. In its general contours, Khieu's work reflected the influence of a branch of the "dependency theory" school, which blamed lack of development in the Third World on the economic domination of the industrialized nations.

After returning to Cambodia in 1953, Pol Pot threw himself into party work. At first, he went to join with forces allied to the Viet Minh operating in the rural areas of Kampong Cham Province (Kompong Cham). After the end of the war, he moved to Phnom Penh under Tou Samouth's "urban committee", where he became an important point of contact between above-ground parties of the left and the underground secret communist movement. His comrades Ieng Sary and Hou Yuon became teachers at a new private high school, the Lycée Kambuboth, which Hou Yuon helped to establish. Khieu Samphan returned from Paris in 1959, taught as a member of the law faculty of the University of Phnom Penh and started a left-wing French-language publication, L'Observateur. The paper soon acquired a reputation in Phnom Penh's small academic circle. The following year, the government closed the paper and Sihanouk's police publicly humiliated Khieu by beating, undressing and photographing him in public—as Shawcross notes, "not the sort of humiliation that men forgive or forget". Yet the experience did not prevent Khieu from advocating cooperation with Sihanouk in order to promote a united front against United States activities in South Vietnam. As mentioned, Khieu Samphan, Hou Yuon and Hu Nim were forced to "work through the system" by joining the Sangkum and by accepting posts in the prince's government.

On 28–30 September 1960, twenty-one leaders of the KPRP held a secret congress in a vacant room of the Phnom Penh railroad station. It is estimated that 14 delegates represented the 'rural' faction and seven the 'urban' faction. This pivotal event remains shrouded in mystery because its outcome has become an object of contention (and considerable historical rewriting) between pro-Vietnamese and anti-Vietnamese Khmer communist factions. At the meeting, the party was renamed as the Workers Party of Kampuchea. The question of cooperation with, or resistance to, Sihanouk was thoroughly discussed. A new party structure was adopted and for the first time a permanent Central Committee was appointed with Tou Samouth (who advocated a policy of cooperation) as the general secretary of the party. His ally Nuon Chea, also known as Long Reth, became deputy general secretary while Pol Pot and Ieng Sary were named to the Central Committee to occupy the third and the fifth highest positions in the party hierarchy. Another committee member was veteran communist Keo Meas. In Democratic Kampuchea, this meeting would later be projected as the founding date of the party, consciously downplaying the history of the party prior to Pol Pot's ascent to leadership.

On 20 July 1962, Tou Samouth was murdered by the Cambodian government. At the WPK's second congress in February 1963, Pol Pot was chosen to succeed Tou Samouth as the party's general secretary. Tou's allies Nuon Chea and Keo Meas were removed from the Central Committee and replaced by Son Sen and Vorn Vet. From then on, Pol Pot and loyal comrades from his Paris student days controlled the party center, edging out older veterans whom they considered excessively pro-Vietnamese. In July 1963, Pol Pot and most of the central committee left Phnom Penh to establish an insurgent base in Ratanakiri Province in the northeast. Pol Pot had shortly before been put on a list of thirty-four leftists who were summoned by Sihanouk to join the government and sign statements saying Sihanouk was the only possible leader for the country. Pol Pot and Chou Chet were the only people on the list who escaped. All the others agreed to cooperate with the government and were afterward under 24-hour watch by the police.

In the mid-1960s, the United States Department of State estimated the party membership to be approximately 100. The region Pol Pot and the others moved to was inhabited by tribal minorities, the Khmer Loeu, whose rough treatment (including resettlement and forced assimilation) at the hands of the central government made them willing recruits for a guerrilla struggle. In 1965, Pol Pot made a visit of several months to North Vietnam and China. He probably received some training in China, which must have enhanced his prestige when he returned to the WPK's liberated areas. Despite friendly relations between Sihanouk and the Chinese, the latter kept Pol Pot's visit a secret from Sihanouk. In 1971, the party changed its name to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The party statutes, published in mid-1970s, claims that the name change was approved by the party congress in 1971.[12] The change in the name of the party was a closely guarded secret. Lower ranking members of the party and even the Vietnamese were not told of it and neither was the membership until many years later. The party leadership endorsed armed struggle against the government, then led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk. In 1967, several small-scale attempts at insurgency were made by the CPK but they met with little success.


Communist Party Kampuchea

In 1968, the Khmer Rouge launched a national insurgency across Cambodia. Though North Vietnam had not been informed of the decision, its forces provided shelter and weapons to the Khmer Rouge after the insurgency started. The guerrilla forces of the party were baptized as the Kampuchean Revolutionary Army. Vietnamese support for the insurgency made it impossible for the ineffective and poorly motivated Royal Cambodian Army to effectively counter it. The political appeal of the Khmer Rouge was increased as a result of the situation created by the removal of Sihanouk as head of state in 1970. Premier Lon Nol, with the support of the National Assembly, deposed Sihanouk. Sihanouk, in exile in Beijing, made an alliance with the Kampuchean Communist Party and became the nominal head of a Khmer Rouge-dominated government-in-exile (known by its French acronym GRUNK) backed by the People's Republic of China. Sihanouk's popular support in rural Cambodia allowed the Khmer Rouge to extend its power and influence to the point that by 1973 it exercised de facto control over the majority of Cambodian territory, although only a minority of its population.

The relationship between the massive carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States and the growth of the Khmer Rouge, in terms of recruitment and popular support, has been a matter of interest to historians. Some historians, including Michael Ignatieff, Adam Jones and Greg Grandin, have cited the United States intervention and bombing campaign (spanning 1965–1973) as a significant factor which lead to increased support for the Khmer Rouge among the Cambodian peasantry. According to Ben Kiernan, the Khmer Rouge "would not have won power without U.S. economic and military destabilization of Cambodia. ... It used the bombing's devastation and massacre of civilians as recruitment propaganda and as an excuse for its brutal, radical policies and its purge of moderate communists and Sihanoukists." Pol Pot biographer David P. Chandler writes that the bombing "had the effect the Americans wanted – it broke the Communist encirclement of Phnom Penh", but it also accelerated the collapse of rural society and increased social polarization. Peter Rodman and Michael Lind claimed that the United States intervention saved the Lon Nol regime from collapse in 1970 and 1973. Craig Etcheson acknowledged that U.S. intervention increased recruitment for the Khmer Rouge but disputed that it was a primary cause of the Khmer Rouge victory. William Shawcross wrote that the United States bombing and ground incursion plunged Cambodia into the chaos that Sihanouk had worked for years to avoid.

By 1973, Vietnamese support of the Khmer Rouge had largely disappeared.[REDACTED] When the United States Congress suspended military aid to the Lon Nol government in 1973, the Khmer Rouge made sweeping gains in the country, completely overwhelming the Khmer National Armed Forces. On 17 April 1975, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh and overthrew the Khmer Republic, executing all its officers. The leadership of the Khmer Rouge was largely unchanged between the 1960s and the mid-1990s. The Khmer Rouge leaders were mostly from middle-class families and had been educated at French universities. The Standing Committee of the Khmer Rouge's Central Committee (Party Center) during its period of power consisted of the following:

  • Brother number 1 Pol Pot (Saloth Sar) — General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, 1963–1981; Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea, 1976–1979
  • Brother number 2 Nuon Chea (Long Bunruot) — Deputy General Secretary of the Communist Party, President of the Kampuchean People's Representative Assembly
  • Brother number 3 Ieng Sary — Deputy Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea; Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1975–1979
  • Brother number 4 Khieu Samphan — President of the State Presidium (head of state) of Democratic Kampuchea
  • Brother number 5 Ta Mok (Chhit Chhoeun) — Leader of the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea; last Khmer Rouge leader, Southwest Regional Secretary (died in custody awaiting trial for genocide, 21 July 2006)
  • Brother number 8 Ke Pauk — Regional Secretary of the Northern Zone
  • Son Sen — Deputy Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea, Minister of Defense
  • Yun Yat — Minister of Education, 1975–1977; Minister of Information (replaced Hu Nim in 1977)

In power, the Khmer Rouge carried out a radical program that included isolating the country from foreign influence, closing schools, hospitals and factories, abolishing banking, finance and currency, outlawing all religions, confiscating all private property and relocating people from urban areas to collective farms where forced labor was widespread. The purpose of this policy was to turn professional and urban Cambodians, or "Old People", into "New People" through agricultural labor. The goal was develop an economy based on the export of rice in order to later develop industry. The party adopted the slogan: "If we have rice, we can have everything". These actions and policies resulted in massive deaths through executions, work exhaustion, illness and starvation.

In Phnom Penh and other cities, the Khmer Rouge told residents that they would be moved only about "two or three kilometers" outside the city and would return in "two or three days". Some witnesses say they were told that the evacuation was because of the "threat of American bombing" and that they did not have to lock their houses since the Khmer Rouge would "take care of everything" until they returned. These were not the first evacuations of civilian populations by the Khmer Rouge. Similar evacuations of populations without possessions had been occurring on a smaller scale since the early 1970s. The Khmer Rouge attempted to turn Cambodia into a classless society by depopulating cities and forcing the urban population into agricultural communes through brutal totalitarian methods. The entire population was forced to become farmers in labour camps. During their four years in power, the Khmer Rouge overworked and starved the population while at the same time executing selected groups who had the potential to undermine the new state (including intellectuals) and killing many others for even minor breaches of rules.

Through the 1970s and especially after mid-1975, the party was also shaken by factional struggles. There were even armed attempts to topple Pol Pot. The resultant purges reached a crest in 1977 and 1978 when thousands, including some important CPK leaders, were executed. The older generation of communists, suspected of having links with or sympathies for Vietnam, were targeted by the Pol Pot leadership.


Khmer Rouge

Angkar: "For roughly two years after the CPK took power, it referred to itself as the Angkar (Khmer: អង្គការ; pronounced ahngkah; meaning The Organization). However, Pol Pot publicly declared on 29 September 1977 the existence of the CPK in a five-hour-long speech. He revealed the true character of the supreme authority in Cambodia, an obscure ruling body that had been kept in seclusion. The CPK had been extremely secretive throughout its existence. Before 1975, the secrecy was needed for the party's survival and Pol Pot and his closest associates had relied on continuing the extreme secrecy in order to consolidate their position against those they perceived as internal enemies during their first two years of power. The revelation of the CPK's existence shortly before Pol Pot was due to travel to Peking resulted from pressure from China on the Khmer Rouge leaders to acknowledge their true political identity at a time that they increasingly depended on China's assistance against the threats from Vietnam. Accordingly, Pol Pot in his speech claimed that the CPK's foundation had been in 1960 and emphasized its separate identity from the Communist Party of Vietnam. This secrecy continued even after the CPK took power. Unlike most totalitarian dictators, Pol Pot was not the object of an open personality cult. It would be almost a year before it was confirmed that he was Saloth Sar, the man long cited as the CPK's general secretary."

'Because of several years of border conflict and the flood of refugees fleeing Cambodia, relations between Cambodia and Vietnam deteriorated by December 1978. Fearing a Vietnamese attack, Pol Pot ordered a pre-emptive invasion of Vietnam on 18 April 1978. His Cambodian forces crossed the border and looted nearby villages. Despite Chinese aid, these Cambodian forces were repulsed by the Vietnamese. In early 1979, a pro-Vietnamese group of CPK dissidents led by Pen Sovan held a congress (which they saw as the third party congress, therefore not recognizing the 1963, 1975 and 1978 party congresses as legitimate) near the Vietnamese border. Along with Heng Samrin, Pen Sovan was one of the foremost founding members of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS or FUNSK), after becoming disillusioned with the Khmer Rouge. Effectively, the CPK was then divided into two, with the Pen Sovan-led group constituting a separate party, the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (now the Cambodian People's Party). The Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia along with the KUFNS, capturing Phnom Penh on 7 January 1979. The Pen Sovan-led party was installed as the governing party of the new People's Republic of Kampuchea. The CPK led by Pol Pot withdrew its forces westwards to an area near the Thai border. With unofficial protection from elements of the Thai Army, it began guerrilla warfare against the PRK government. The party founded the Patriotic and Democratic Front of the Great National Union of Kampuchea as a united front in September 1979 to fight the PRK and the Vietnamese. The front was led by Khieu Samphan. In December 1979, the armed forces under the command of the party, what remained of the erstwhile People's National Liberation Armed Forces of Kampuchea, were renamed National Army of Democratic Kampuchea. In 1981, the party was dissolved and substituted by the Party of Democratic Kampuchea.'

+ Communist Party of Kampuchea (1951-1981):


Pol Pot Red Book

'In the case of states, that internal monologue is given voice in the form of propaganda. The slogans and catchphrases of a regime are a reflection of its ideology; they illuminate the thinking of those in power. In effect, propaganda shows us the state's state of mind. Khmer Rouge Cambodia is a case in point. This is what makes Henri Locard's Pol Pot's Little Red Book such a valuable contribution to the study of Cambodian history, and to the study of genocide in general. Locard examines an extensive collection of commonly repeated sayings from the Pol Pot time, and the picture they paint is chilling. The regime's mindset was a volatile mixture of cruelty, cunning, and unyielding extremism: a government of sociopaths, with no concern for the welfare of its own citizenry. Few phrases illustrate this more vividly than the most widely-known Khmer Rouge saying:

"No gain in keeping, no loss in weeding out."p. 210)

This adage was often expressed even more bluntly:

"To destroy you is no loss, to preserve you is no gain."

The extremism of the Khmer Rouge regime was perhaps its most unique aspect. It is doubtful that any revolution has ever pushed so hard, so fast, with such disastrous consequences. There were, however, other aspects of the regime that distinguished it from other superficially similar movements. Locard notes that the totalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge differed from the model presented in Orwell's 1984 in one very significant aspect: Khmer Rouge totalitarianism was anonymous. In Orwell's Oceania, the image of Big Brother was omnipresent: Big Brother's face stared out from posters on every street corner. In Cambodia, however, the omnipotent power -- Angkar was faceless and nameless. The term -- translated literally as -- "the organization" -- carried a flexibility that added to its effectiveness. Angkar, Locard notes, was simultaneously "the Communist Party of Kampuchea, its Standing Committee, as well as the state security apparatus, represented in every social cell of Khmer Rouge society." (p. 6) Its ambiguity was "the supreme psychological weapon these terrorists used to hold an entire population in a state of fear and abject submission." (p. 11) That ambiguity, however, also meant that the regime could not pursue the cult of personality so commonly seen in dictatorships. "What a contrast with the worship of Mao or the fervor of Chinese crowds!" (p. 99) Ultimately, however, the tactic may have contributed to the disastrous results of the revolution:

"Failing to induce adulation and submissiveness, the Angkar could only generate hatred. If concealment was the ultimate ploy for the leadership, it backfired and whipped up abhorrence in the context of total revolution. This might be one of the explanations why repression assumed proportions unknown in other Communist countries. The mask of Angkar was a good tactic to grab power, but it proved disastrous in government." (p. 99)

And, while Cambodian communism's closest ideological relative was probably Mao's China, the differences were significant:

"The history of the People's Republic of China since 1949 has swung like a pendulum between periods of revolutionary fervor, accompanied by waves of repression and economic crises, and periods of return to reality and more moderate policies fostering economic growth. Mao's entourage managed to contain him, and thus, stop him from foundering the ship of state on the rocks. However, nothing like this transpired in Democratic Kampuchea; nothing could contain Pol Pot's absolutism. Any and all opposition was nipped in the bud. The Angkar pushed the country into the abyss, with mass executions, the collapse of living standards, and famine, followed by years of foreign occupation." (p. 158)

By cataloging Khmer Rouge propaganda, Locard illuminates the process which led into the abyss. A few of Locard's examples serve to illustrate just how deep that abyss became:

"Angkar has [the many] eyes of the pineapple." (p. 112) "You can arrest someone by mistake; never release him by mistake." (p. 208) "Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake." (p. 209) "Better to arrest ten innocent people by mistake than free a single guilty party." (p. 209)

These slogans demonstrate the regime's pervasive suspicion and paranoia. As the first layer of a pineapple's rind is cut away, the spines inside the fruit are revealed in small, round recesses, and the Khmer refer to these as "eyes." Angkar's eyes were everywhere, seeing everything, in all directions. The destruction of enemies was paramount, and if innocent people died in the pursuit of those enemies, no matter.

"If you have a disease of the old society, take a dose of Lenin as medication." (p. 189) "The sick are victims of their own imagination." (p. 188)

To be sick was to be weak; and to be weak was unforgivable. And what of those who failed to adapt to the new way of life? There were several sayings that made their fate clear:

"He who protests is an enemy; he who opposes is a corpse." (p. 204) "If someone is very hungry, the Angkar& will take him where he will be stuffed with food." (p. 204) "If you wish to live exactly as you please, the Angkar will put aside a small piece of land for you."(p. 298)

Although the second and third statements are less blunt than the first, the meaning is the same: to be "stuffed with food" is to become a corpse, fertilizing the rice fields; and the "small piece of land" refers to a burial pit. While Locard's book is narrowly focused on Khmer Rouge aphorisms, he does weave in a number of thoughtful and provocative observations about the fundamental nature of the Communists and the policies they pursued. He raises the interesting point that the Khmer Rouge built no permanent buildings (p. 222); aside from hastily constructed huts and a few Potemkin villages, their construction projects were limited to ill-conceived dikes, dams, and canals. This, it would seem, is a reflection of the fact that the Khmer Rouge imagined their movement to be purely rational and utilitarian. Beauty and grand architecture had no place in such a society. Locard also touches briefly on the question of whether or not the Khmer Rouge were racist... and by extension, the question of whether or not their actions fit the strict legal definition of genocide. There is no doubt that the Khmer Rouge committed crimes against humanity on an epic scale; but the term genocide, in the context of international law, specifically refers to "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

The violence of the Khmer Rouge was focused primarily along perceived distinctions in class. It was (ostensibly) a conflict between the supposedly noble communists and the allegedly evil capitalists. There are, however, some indications that violence was also focused along racial lines. There is clear evidence that ethnic Vietnamese were deliberately targeted by the communists; most were exiled to Vietnam when the Khmer Rouge seized power. Moreover, statistically speaking, ethnic Chinese and Chams suffered higher death rates than the population in general. Locard, however, raises an interesting point: among all the slogans commonly repeated by the Khmer Rouge, while there are several that refer to the Vietnamese, there are none aimed specifically at the Chams or Chinese. (p. 303) This is a marked contrast to other openly genocidal regimes. In Rwanda, for example, a Hutu newspaper proclaimed that "[A] cockroach cannot give birth to a butterfly.... The history of Rwanda show us clearly that a Tutsi stays always exactly the same that he has never changed."; and in Nazi Germany, the newspaper Der Sturmer proclaimed on the front page of each issue that "The Jews are our misfortune!" Locard also notes that a slogan repeated to Khmer Rouge cadres supports the view that starvation in Cambodia was not merely an unforeseen accident, but was instead used as a means of control:

"Hunger is the most effective disease." (p. 284)

Locard's book focuses on the slogans repeated by the Khmer Rouge when they were in power. It is worth noting, however, that their mindset remained essentially unchanged after their overthrow. When the invading Vietnamese forced the Khmer Rouge to retreat to camps along the Thai border, the Khmer Rouge dismissed the defeat as a temporary setback: "When the water is high, the fish eat the ants. When the water recedes, the ants eat the fish." Another slogan aimed at "persuading" reluctant refugees to return to Khmer Rouge controlled areas of Cambodia, rather than remaining in the Thai camps: "Those who go back first will sleep on cots. Those who go back second with sleep on straw. Those who go back last will sleep under the ground." Locard's research is uniformly excellent, and exhaustive. The psychological landscape Locard maps out here has been left largely unexplored. John Marston's "Metaphors of the Khmer Rouge," in Cambodian Culture since 1975, covers similar territory, and is also highly recommended. Locard's work, however, is broader in scope, and more detailed. Those searching for a glimpse of the inner thoughts of a government gone mad will find that Henri Locard has opened a window that few others even knew existed.'

+ "Pol Pot's Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar" by Henri Locard (2004):


Phnom Penh 1975

'In Cambodia, propaganda was used to organize and mobilize pro-western young people into direct military action against prince Norodom Sihanouk who attempted to maintain Cambodia’s neutrality during Vietnam war. This was done through a combined effort of the United States and the military leader Lon Nol. This backdoor partnership culminated in the bloodless coup of 1970 that removed Sihanouk from power and the establishment of the prowestern Lon Nol government. It was with American aid that for five years the Lon Nol government fought against the communist supported Khmer Rouge. During these five years the United States would be responsible for numerous carpet booming runs in Cambodia that were supposed to target the Vietnamese, but killed many neutral Cambodians along what would become known as Ho Chi Minh trail. The Khmer Rouge were largely a force of young fighters who drew their strength from experienced charismatic leadership who were the product of the first Indochina war and Cambodia’s struggle for independence from the French. Khmer Rouge youth were indoctrinated at early ages to value, respect, and fear what was known as “Angkar” (the organization). On April 17 th 1975, the largely young battle hardened Khmer Rouge overtook the capital Phnom Phen and the short disastrous reign of the Khmer Rouge began. During their reign, family structures like the one in Loung Ung’s book First They Killed My Father experienced separation, displacement, and daily threats to their survival. Both children and adults from families like Loung’s were indoctrinated into Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia through fear, starvation, beatings, murder and forced marriages. These forms of violence were done in an attempt to return Cambodia to a “pure” state. All thing associated with class, faith, social status, and even personal expressions like hair styles were stripped from families as signs of corruptions from “the capitalist”.'

+ Those Who Are Made Toys: Khmer Rouge Youth Mobilization, Indoctrination, and Organization (2016):

The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), otherwise known as the Khmer Rouge, took control of Cambodia on April 17, 1975. The CPK created the state of Democratic Kampuchea in 1976 and ruled the country until January 1979. The party’s existence was kept secret until 1977, and no one outside the CPK knew who its leaders were (the leaders called themselves “Angkar Padevat”). While the Khmer Rouge was in power, they set up policies that disregarded human life and produced repression and massacres on a massive scale. They turned the country into a huge detention center, which later became a graveyard for nearly two million people, including their own members and even some senior leaders.

The Rise of the Khmer Rouge:

The Cambodian communist movement emerged from the country’s struggle against French colonization 1940s, and was influenced by the Vietnamese. Fueled by the first Indochina War in the 1950s, and during the next 20 years, the movement took roots and began to grow. In March 1970, Marshal Lon Nol, a Cambodian politician who had previously served as prime minister, and his pro-American associates staged a successful coup to depose Prince Sihanouk as head of state. At this time, the Khmer Rouge had gained members and was positioned to become a major player in the civil war due to its alliance with Sihanouk. Their army was led by Pol Pot, who was appointed CPK’s party secretary and leader in 1963. Pol Pot, born in Cambodia as Solath Sar, spent time in France and became a member of the French Communist Party. Upon returning to Cambodia in 1953, he joined a clandestine communist movement and began his rise up the ranks to become one of the world’s most infamous dictators.

Aided by the Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge began to defeat Lon Nol’s forces on the battlefields. By the end of 1972, the Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia and turned the major responsibilities for the war over to the CPK. From January to August 1973, the Khmer Republic government, with assistance from the US, dropped about half a million tons of bombs on Cambodia, which may have killed as many as 300,000 people. Many who resented the bombings or had lost family members joined the Khmer Rouge’s revolution. By early 1973, about 85 percent of Cambodian territory was in the hands of the Khmer Rouge, and the Lon Nol army was almost unable to go on the offensive. However, with US assistance, it was able to continue fighting the Khmer Rouge for two more years. April 17, 1975 ended five years of foreign interventions, bombardment, and civil war in Cambodia. On this date, Phnom Penh, a major city in Cambodia, fell to the communist forces.

Khmer Rouge

'In this paper I revisit and ultimately reexamine one of the most intriguing totalitarian movements of the 20th century. By employing the seminal thoughts of Eric Voegelin, I assert that the Democratic Kampuchean regime of the Khmer Rouge, in modern day Cambodia, from 1975 to 1979, can and should be examined as a ‘political religion’. Although atheist and anti-religious in its official rhetoric, Democratic Kampuchea contained at its core an all-encompassing spiritual-religious experience that drove the totalitarian movement. For the Communist Party of Kampuchea’s leaders, or Angkar, this revolution embodied a Voegelinian “re-divinization of man and society,” or more broadly speaking, a re-visioning of the Khmer Empire. I first relate a brief history of the Khmer religious meta-narrative over successive kingdoms and empires, and then point out that the Khmer Rouge politico-religious experience starts with the ‘death of god’, or the destruction of the previous faith including the Sangha, wats, and monks. Total physical, social, and emotional transformation follows with the influence of Theravada Buddhist understanding at its roots, and subsequently climaxing with the birth of a counter-religion, with the substitution of Angkar as its new “god”.'

+ The Khmer Rouge and the Re-Visioning of the Khmer Empire: Buddhism Encounters Political Religion (2011):

Life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge Regime:

A few days after they took power in 1975, the Khmer Rouge forced perhaps two million people in Phnom Penh and other cities into the countryside to undertake agricultural work. Thousands of people died during the evacuations. The Khmer Rouge also began to implement their radical Maoist and Marxist-Leninist transformation program at this time. They wanted to transform Cambodia into a rural, classless society in which there were no rich people, no poor people, and no exploitation. To accomplish this, they abolished money, free markets, normal schooling, private property, foreign clothing styles, religious practices, and traditional Khmer culture. Public schools, pagodas, mosques, churches, universities, shops and government buildings were shut or turned into prisons, stables, reeducation camps and granaries. There was no public or private transportation, no private property, and no non-revolutionary entertainment. Leisure activities were severely restricted. People throughout the country, including the leaders of the CPK, had to wear black costumes, which were their traditional revolutionary clothes.

During this time, everyone was deprived of their basic rights. People were not allowed to go outside their cooperative. The regime would not allow anyone to gather and hold discussions. If three people gathered and talked, they could be accused of being enemies and arrested or executed. Family relationships were also heavily criticized. People were forbidden to show even the slightest affection, humor or pity. The Khmer Rouge asked all Cambodians to believe, obey and respect only Angkar Padevat, which was to be everyone’s “mother and father.” The Khmer Rouge claimed that only pure people were qualified to build the revolution. Soon after seizing power, they arrested and killed thousands of soldiers, military officers and civil servants from the Khmer Republic regime led by Marshal Lon Nol, whom they did not regard as “pure.” Over the next three years, they executed hundreds of thousands of intellectuals; city residents; minority people such as the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese; and many of their own soldiers and party members, who were accused of being traitors. Many were held in prisons, where they were detained, interrogated, tortured and executed. The most important prison in Cambodia, known as S-21, held approximately 14,000 prisoners while in operation. Only about 12 survived.

"Under the terms of the CPK’s 1976 “Four-Year Plan,” Cambodians were expected to produce three tons of rice per hectare throughout the country. This meant that people had to grow and harvest rice all 12 months of the year. In most regions, the Khmer Rouge forced people to work more than 12 hours a day without rest or adequate food."

Fall of the Khmer Rouge:

By the end of 1977, clashes broke out between Cambodia and Vietnam. Tens of thousands of people were sent to fight and thousands were killed. In December 1978, Vietnamese troops fought their way into Cambodia. They captured Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979. The Khmer Rouge leaders then fled to the west and reestablished their forces in Thai territory, aided by China and Thailand. The United Nations voted to give the resistance movement against communists, which included the Khmer Rouge, a seat in its General Assembly. From 1979 to 1990, it recognized them as the only legitimate representative of Cambodia. In 1982, the Khmer Rouge formed a coalition with Prince Sihanouk, who was exiled in China after the Cambodian Civil War, and the non-communist leader Son Sann to create the Triparty Coalition Government. In Phnom Penh, on the other hand, Vietnam helped to create a new government – the People's Republic of Kampuchea – led by Heng Samrin. The Khmer Rouge continued to exist until 1999 when all of its leaders had defected to the Royal Government of Cambodia, been arrested, or had died. But their legacy remains.

Khmer Rouge

Life in Cambodia Today:

Democratic Kampuchea was one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century. Nearly two million Cambodians died from diseases due to a lack of medicines and medical services, starvation, execution, or exhaustion from overwork. Tens of thousands were made widows and orphans, and those who lived through the regime were severely traumatized by their experiences. Several hundred thousand Cambodians fled their country and became refugees. Millions of mines were laid by the Khmer Rouge and government forces, which have led to thousands of deaths and disabilities since the 1980s. A large proportion of the Cambodian people have mental problems because their family members were lost and their spirits damaged. These factors are one of the major causes of the poverty that plagues Cambodia today.'

+ Khamboly Dy - “A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979)”:
+ Pol Pot:
+ Khmer Rouge:
+ Cambodia:

The social transformation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, first, in the areas that they occupied during the war with Lon Nol and, then, in varying degrees, throughout the country, was far more radical than anything attempted by the Russian, Chinese, or Vietnamese revolutions. According to Pol Pot, five classes existed in prerevolutionary Cambodia -- peasants, workers, bourgeoisie, capitalists, and feudalists. Postrevolutionary society, as defined by the 1976 Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea, consisted of workers, peasants, and "all other Kampuchean working people." No allowance was made for a transitional stage such as China's "New Democracy" in which "patriotic" landlord or bourgeois elements were permitted to play a role in socialist construction. Sihanouk writes that in 1975 he, Khieu Samphan, and Khieu Thirith went to visit Zhou Enlai, who was gravely ill. Zhou warned them not to attempt to achieve communism suddenly by one "great leap forward" without intermediate steps, as China had done with disastrous results in the late 1950s. Khieu Samphan and Khieu Thirith "just smiled an incredulous and superior smile." Khieu Samphan and Son Sen later boasted to Sihanouk that "we will be the first nation to create a completely communist society without wasting time on intermediate steps."

Although conditions varied from region to region, a situation that was, in part, a reflection of factional divisions that still existed within the KCP during the 1970s, the testimony of refugees reveals that the most salient social division was between the politically suspect "new people," those driven out of the towns after the communist victory, and the more reliable "old people," the poor and lower middle-class peasants who had remained in the countryside. Despite the ideological commitment to radical equality, KCP members and the armed forces constituted a clearly recognizable elite. The working class was a negligible factor because of the evacuation of the urban areas and the idling of most of the country's few factories. The one important working class group in prerevolutionary Cambodia--laborers on large rubber plantations--traditionally had consisted mostly of Vietnamese emigrants and thus was politically suspect.

The number of people, including refugees, living in the urban areas, on the eve of the communist victory probably was somewhat more than 3 million, in a wartime population that has been estimated at between 5.7 and 7.3 million. As mentioned, despite their rural origins, the refugees were considered "new people"-- that is, people unsympathetic to Democratic Kampuchea. Some doubtless passed as "old people" after returning to their native villages, but the Khmer Rouge seem to have been extremely vigilant in recording and keeping track of the movements of families and of individuals. The lowest unit of social control, the krom (group), consisted of ten to fifteen nuclear families whose activities were closely supervised by a three-person committee. The committee chairman was selected by the KCP. This grass roots leadership was required to note the social origin of each family under its jurisdiction and to report it to persons higher up in the Angkar hierarchy. The number of "new people" may initially have been as high as 2.5 million.

The "new people" were treated as slave laborers. They were constantly moved, were forced to do the hardest physical labor, and worked in the most inhospitable, fever-ridden parts of the country, such as forests, upland areas, and swamps. "New people" were segregated from "old people," enjoyed little or no privacy, and received the smallest rice rations. When the country experienced food shortages in 1977, the "new people" suffered the most. The medical care available to them was primitive or nonexistent. Families often were separated because people were divided into work brigades according to age and sex and sent to different parts of the country. "New people" were subjected to unending political indoctrination and could be executed without trial. The creation of what amounted to a slave class suggests continuity between the Cambodian revolution and the country's ancient history. Like the Khmer Rouge leadership, the god-kings of Angkor had commanded armies of slaves. Pol Pot boasted in 1977 that "if our people can make Angkor, they can make anything."

The situation of the "old people" under Khmer Rouge rule was more ambiguous. Refugee interviews reveal cases in which villagers were treated as harshly as the "new people," enduring forced labor, indoctrination, the separation of children from parents, and executions; however, they were generally allowed to remain in their native villages. Because of their age-old resentment of the urban and rural elites, many of the poorest peasants probably were sympathetic to Khmer Rouge goals. In the early 1980s, visiting Western journalists found that the issue of peasant support for the Khmer Rouge was an extremely sensitive subject that officials of the People's Republic of Kampuchea had little inclination to discuss.

On the basis of interviews with refugees from different parts of the country as well as other sources, Vickery has argued that there was a wide regional variation in the severity of policies adopted by local Khmer Rouge authorities. Ideology had something to do with the differences, but the availability of food, the level of local development, and the personal qualities of cadres also were important factors. The greatest number of deaths occurred in undeveloped districts, where "new people" were sent to clear land. While conditions were hellish in some localities, they apparently were tolerable in others. Vickery describes the Eastern Zone, which was dominated by pro-Vietnamese cadres, as one in which the extreme policies of the Pol Pot leadership were not adopted (at least until 1978, when the Eastern leadership was liquidated in a bloody purge). Executions were few, "old people" and "new people" were treated largely the same, and food was made available to the entire population. Although the Southwestern Zone was one original center of power of the Khmer Rouge, and cadres administered it with strict discipline, random executions were relatively rare, and "new people" were not persecuted if they had a cooperative attitude. In the Western Zone and in the Northwestern Zone, conditions were harsh. Starvation was widespread in the latter zone because cadres sent rice to Phnom Penh rather than distributed it to the local population. In the Northern Zone and in the Central Zone, there seem to have been more executions than there were victims of starvation. Little reliable information emerged on conditions in the Northeastern Zone, one of the most isolated parts of Cambodia.

On the surface, society in Democratic Kampuchea was strictly egalitarian. The Khmer language, like many in Southeast Asia, has a complex system of usages to define speakers' rank and social status. These usages were abandoned. People were encouraged to call each other "friend," or "comrade" (in Khmer, mit or met), and to avoid traditional signs of deference such as bowing or folding the hands in salutation. Language was transformed in other ways. The Khmer Rouge invented new terms. People were told they must "forge" (lot dam) a new revolutionary character, that they were the "instruments" (opokar) of the Angkar, and that nostalgia for prerevolutionary times (cchoeu sttak aram, or "memory sickness") could result in their receiving Angkar's "invitation."

As in other revolutionary states, however, some people were "more equal" than others. Members and candidate members of the KCP, local-level leaders of poor peasant background who collaborated with the Angkar, and members of the armed forces had a higher standard of living than the rest of the population. Refugees agree that, even during times of severe food shortage, members of the grass-roots elite had adequate, if not luxurious, supplies of food. One refugee wrote that "pretty new bamboo houses" were built for Khmer Rouge cadres along the river in Phnom Penh. According to Craig Etcheson, an authority on Democratic Kampuchea, members of the revolutionary army lived in self-contained colonies, and they had a "distinctive warrior-caste ethos." Armed forces units personally loyal to Pol Pot, known as the "Unconditional Divisions," were a privileged group within the military.

Given the severity of their revolutionary ideology, it is surprising that the highest ranks of the Khmer Rouge leadership exhibited a talent for cronyism that matched that of the Sihanouk- era elite. Pol Pot's wife, Khieu Ponnary, was head of the Association of Democratic Khmer Women and her younger sister, Khieu Thirith, served as minister of social action. These two women are considered among the half-dozen most powerful personalities in Democratic Kampuchea. Son Sen's wife, Yun Yat, served as minister for culture, education and learning. Several of Pol Pot's nephews and nieces were given jobs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of Ieng Sary's daughters was appointed head of the Calmette Hospital although she had not graduated from secondary school. A niece of Ieng Sary was given a job as English translator for Radio Phnom Penh although her fluency in the language was extremely limited. Family ties were important, both because of the culture and because of the leadership's intense secretiveness and distrust of outsiders, especially of pro-Vietnamese communists. Greed was also a motive. Different ministries, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry, were controlled and exploited by powerful Khmer Rouge families. Administering the diplomatic corps was regarded as an especially profitable fiefdom.


'In addition to the depletion of the familial values, Angkar also tried to destroy interpersonal trust among family members, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Intimates and old friends were incentivized to give information leading to the identification and arrest of “the supposed enemies of the revolution” (Bit, 1991, p. 81). The people were under close surveillance all the time, especially at night. “Because everything they did seemed to be observed, people remarked in awe that ‘the Organization [Angkar] has a thousand eyes’” (Chandler, 1991, p. 260). As well as the severe assault on family values and the destruction of interpersonal trust, Angkar also abolished all fundamental social institutions, including schools, hospitals, and pagodas (Buddhist temples). Monks were defrocked and made to work like lay people (Martin, 1994), whereas the pagodas were transformed into prisons, torture centers, or warehouses. The Khmer Rouge genocidal regime thankfully came to an end on January 7, 1979. However, its aftermath is utterly devastating. First of all, the destruction of the physical infrastructure was an enormous challenge for the new government because of its vital role in restoring the country’s collapsed economy. The next challenge was the loss of human resources badly needed to help redevelop the country. Virtually all intellectuals, such as civil servants, doctors, teachers, technicians, and students from the previous regime, had been executed during the regime. The United Nations Development Program estimated that only approximately “300 experienced or qualified people of all disciplines were left in the country” after the end of the regime (Bit, 1991, p. 90). What remains from the massacre of the Khmer Rouge is a large number of orphans and weak and sick people. It is estimated that immediately following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, there were an estimated 200,000 orphans who were in dire need of immediate support (Bit, 1991). Moreover, the continuing fighting between the remaining Khmer Rouge soldiers and the army of the new regime was another challenge for the new government. Actually, after the collapse of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge genocide, the civil war went on until late 1998. With the death of almost all experienced and qualified people, and the destruction of all major sectors such as education, economy and health, Cambodia needed to start from scratch to rebuild its shattered society.'

+ "Cambodia's untreated wound" - Vicheth Sen (2008):

Religious and Minority Communities:

Article 20 of the 1976 Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea guaranteed religious freedom, but it also declared that "all reactionary religions that are detrimental to Democratic Kampuchea and the Kampuchean People are strictly forbidden." About 85 percent of the population follows the Theravada school of Buddhism. Before 1975 the Khmer Rouge tolerated the activities of the community of Buddhist monks, or sangha, in the liberated areas in order to win popular support. This changed abruptly after the fall of Phnom Penh. The country's 40,000 to 60,000 Buddhist monks, regarded by the regime as social parasites, were defrocked and forced into labor brigades. Many monks were executed; temples and pagodas were destroyed or turned into storehouses or jails. Images of the Buddha were defaced and dumped into rivers and lakes. People who were discovered praying or expressing religious sentiments in other ways were often killed. The Christian and Muslim communities also were persecuted. The Roman Catholic cathedral of Phnom Penh was completely razed. The Khmer Rouge forced Muslims to eat pork, which they regard as an abomination. Many of those who refused were killed. Christian clergy and Muslim leaders were executed.

The Khmer Rouge's treatment of minorities seems to have varied from group to group. The Vietnamese endured the greatest suffering. Tens of thousands were murdered in regime-organized massacres. Most of the survivors fled to Vietnam. The Cham, a Muslim minority who are the descendants of migrants from the old state of Champa, were forced to adopt the Khmer language and customs. Their communities, which traditionally had existed apart from Khmer villages, were broken up. Forty thousand Cham were killed in two districts of Kampong Cham Province alone. Thai minorities living near the Thai border also were persecuted.

Despite the fact that Chinese and Sino-Khmers had dominated the Cambodian economy for centuries and could be considered exploiters of the peasantry, the Khmer Rouge apparently did not single them out for harsh treatment. The war drove most rural Chinese into the cities, and after the forced evacuations they and their urban compatriots were regarded as "new people." They shared the same hardships as Khmers, however. Phnom Penh's close relationship with China was probably a factor in the regime's reluctance to persecute them openly.

In the late 1980s, little was known of Khmer Rouge policies toward the tribal peoples of the northeast, the Khmer Loeu. Pol Pot established an insurgent base in the tribal areas of Rotanokiri Province in the early 1960s, and he may have had a substantial Khmer Loeu following. Predominately animist peoples with few ties to the Buddhist culture of the lowland Khmers, the Khmer Loeu had resented Sihanouk's attempts to "civilize" them. Cambodia expert Serge Thion notes that marriage to a tribal person was considered "final proof of unconditional loyalty to the party." Khieu Samphan may have been married to a tribal woman.


+ Khmer Rouge Song ប្តេជ្ញារៀនសូត្រវីរៈភាពរបស់ប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាដ៏មហាអស្ចារ្យ (2017):

Education and Health:

Like the radical exponents of the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s, the Khmer Rouge regarded traditional education with unalloyed hostility. After the fall of Phnom Penh, they executed thousands of teachers. Those who had been educators prior to 1975 survived by hiding their identities. Aside from teaching basic mathematical skills and literacy, the major goal of the new educational system was to instill revolutionary values in the young. For a regime at war with most of Cambodia's traditional values, this meant that it was necessary to create a gap between the values of the young and the values of the nonrevolutionary old.

In a manner reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984, the regime recruited children to spy on adults. The pliancy of the younger generation made them, in the Angkar's words, the "dictatorial instrument of the party." In 1962 the communists had created a special secret organization, the Alliance of Democratic Khmer Youth, that, in the early 1970s, changed its name to the Alliance of Communist Youth of Kampuchea. Pol Pot considered Alliance alumni as his most loyal and reliable supporters, and used them to gain control of the central and of the regional KCP apparatus. The powerful Khieu Thirith, minister of social action, was responsible for directing the youth movement.

Hardened young cadres, many little more than twelve years of age, were enthusiastic accomplices in some of the regime's worst atrocities. Sihanouk, who was kept under virtual house arrest in Phnom Penh between 1976 and 1978, wrote in War and Hope that his youthful guards, having been separated from their families and given a thorough indoctrination, were encouraged to play cruel games involving the torture of animals. Having lost parents, siblings, and friends in the war and lacking the Buddhist values of their elders, the Khmer Rouge youth also lacked the inhibitions that would have dampened their zeal for revolutionary terror.

Health facilities in the years 1975 to 1978 were abysmally poor. Many physicians either were executed or were prohibited from practicing. It appears that the party and the armed forces elite had access to Western medicine and to a system of hospitals that offered reasonable treatment but ordinary people, especially "new people," were expected to use traditional plant and herbal remedies that usually were ineffective. Some bartered their rice rations and personal possessions to obtain aspirin and other simple drugs.


+ Khmer Rouge Song សូមកូនៗចងចាំប្រពៃណីរស់នៅបដិវឌ្ឍន៍របស់យើងជារៀងរហូត (2017):

The Economy:

In its general contours, Democratic Kampuchea's economic policy was similar to, and possibly inspired by, China's radical Great Leap Forward that carried out immediate collectivization of the Chinese countryside in 1958. During the early 1970s, the Khmer Rouge established "mutual assistance groups" in the areas they occupied. After 1973 these were organized into "low-level cooperatives" in which land and agricultural implements were lent by peasants to the community but remained their private property. "High-level cooperatives," in which private property was abolished and the harvest became the collective property of the peasants, appeared in 1974. "Communities," introduced in early 1976, were a more advanced form of high-level cooperative in which communal dining was instituted. State-owned farms also were established.

Far more than had the Chinese communists, the Khmer Rouge relentlessly pursued the ideal of economic self-sufficiency, in their case the version that Khieu Samphan had outlined in his 1959 doctoral dissertation. Extreme measures were taken. Currency was abolished, and domestic trade or commerce could be conducted only through barter. Rice, measured in tins, became the most important medium of exchange, although people also bartered gold, jewelry, and other personal possessions. Foreign trade was almost completely halted, though there was a limited revival in late 1976 and early 1977. China was the most important trading partner, but commerce amounting to a few million dollars was also conducted with France, with Britain, and with the United States through a Hong Kong intermediary.

From the Khmer Rouge perspective, the country was free of foreign economic domination for the first time in its 2,000-year history. By mobilizing the people into work brigades organized in a military fashion, the Khmer Rouge hoped to unleash the masses' productive forces. There was an "Angkorian" component to economic policy. That ancient kingdom had grown rich and powerful because it controlled extensive irrigation systems that produced surpluses of rice. Agriculture in modern Cambodia depended, for the most part, on seasonal rains. By building a nationwide system of irrigation canals, dams, and reservoirs, the leadership believed it would be possible to produce rice on a year-round basis. It was the "new people" who suffered and sacrificed the most to complete these ambitious projects.

Although the Khmer Rouge implemented an "agriculture first" policy in order to achieve self-sufficiency, they were not, as some observers have argued, "back-to-nature" primitivists. Although the 1970-75 war and the evacuation of the cities had destroyed or idled most industry, small contingents of workers were allowed to return to the urban areas to reopen some plants. Like their Chinese counterparts, the Cambodian communists had great faith in the inventive power and the technical aptitude of the masses, and they constantly published reports of peasants' adapting old mechanical parts to new uses. Much as the Chinese had attempted unsuccessfully to build a new steel industry based on backyard furnaces during the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge sought to move industry to the countryside. Significantly, the seal of Democratic Kampuchea displayed not only sheaves of rice and irrigation sluices, but also a factory with smokestacks.

+ "Society under the Angkar" - U.S. Library of Congress (2019):
+ h


Tuol Sleng

'April 17, 1975 was a day of hope and horror for the people of Cambodia. It was the day the Khmer Rouge Communists rolled into Phnom Penh and took control of the government. Cheering people lined the streets hoping for peace. What they got instead was horror--one of the worst genocides in human history. Premeditated murder. Genocide as state policy. Intentional killing of all "class enemies," elimination of cities and city dwellers, destruction of every ethnic and religious minority, mass murder of the Eastern Zone of Democratic Kampuchea, execution of all teachers, doctors, lawyers, soldiers and government officials. If you wore glasses, or could speak a foreign language, or were educated, you were classified as an enemy; were arrested, tortured, then killed. From 1975 through 1978, according to censuses taken by the Cambodian Genocide Project in Cambodian villages, 1.7 million to 2.2 million people died out of a population of eight million. Half a million to a million were intentionally murdered. Another million were starved or worked to death in the forced labor communes the Khmer Rouge imposed at gunpoint in every region of the country.

The horror began even before April 17, 1975, in regions controlled by the Khmer Rouge. People who lived in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, and other provinces that fell in 1972 tell of the mass murders that began in those provinces even then. The blue-print for the Khmer Rouge revolution, the Mein Kampf of Kampuchea, was written in 1956 by Khieu Samphan, in his Ph.D. dissertation in economics at a French university. Khieu Samphan and his close friends, Pol Pot (a.k.a. Saloth Sar) and Ieng Sary were all members of the French Communist party while they were students in France. It was and is a Marxist-Leninist party. It was also Stalinist. The Khmer Rouge leaders read the Marxist theorists of the day, people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Andre Gunder Frank, and Mao-Tse-tung. And they planned a Communist revolution to put their ideas into practice. Later, when the Maoist cultural revolution wreaked terror in China, they wholeheartedly added its radical equalitarianism to their own.

Marxism-Leninism (and its Maoist variant) teaches that revolutions must be violent, that class struggles are inevitable, and that class enemies must be crushed. In every Communist revolution so far, crushed means killed. Apologists for Communist revolutions like to use euphemisms like purged, eliminated, or liquidated. Euphemisms allow people to avoid thinking; they are shields against consciousness; earplugs to shut out the screams of the murdered and the cries of the conscience. I will not use euphemisms here. In Democratic Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge murdered about two million people. In this paper I will begin to explain why and how the Pol Pot regime committed this genocide. I have spent much of the past eight years working to bring the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for their crimes. I will describe what interviews with survivors inside Cambodia have revealed about the first two operations in the genocidal process: classification and symbolization.

Classification and Symbolization:

At the beginning of their planning for the Holocaust, the National Socialists in Germany passed detailed laws defining membership in the Jewish race, and then conducted inquiries to identify who were members of the race. Later, they decreed that each Jew had to wear a yellow star. It was a symbolic marker. It signified that this person was not to be seen as an individual person but as a member of a class, a classification determined by religion and "race." The yellow star marked a classification of people the Nazis had decided to kill. The ultimate depersonalization--murder, killing persons--was preceded by the depersonalization of classification and symbolization, the Nuremberg laws and the yellow star.

The Khmer Rouge classified, too. First, they classified people as "base people"--people under Khmer Rouge control before April 17, 1975 -- and new people -- mostly city people. They had read André Gunder Frank's Marxist theory that cities are parasitic on the countryside, that only labor value is true value, that cities extract surplus value from the rural areas. Therefore, immediately after they took power, the Khmer Rouge evacuated all the cities at gunpoint. Patients in hospitals in the middle of operations were forced to leave, and to die. Women in labor were made to get up and walk and their new babies died in the scorching sun. A whole infant ward at the Calmette Hospital was abandoned when the Khmer Rouge forced the staff to leave. The ward became a mass grave.

The new people were marked for heavier labor, less food, and much harsher treatment than the base people. Children were taken away from their parents and forced to work in children's brigades. If a new person complained of the food shortages and slave labor, he or she was taken away to the killing fields. In 1976, people were reclassified as full rights (base) people, candidates, and depositees --so called because they included most of the new people who had been deposited from the cities into the communes. Depositees were marked for destruction. Their rations were reduced to two bowls of rice soup per day. Hundreds of thousands starved. The Khmer Rouge leadership boasted over their radio station that only one or two million people out of the population were needed to build the new agrarian communist utopia. As for the others, as their proverb put it, "if they survive no gain, if they die, no loss." Hundreds of thousands of the new people, and later the depositees, were taken out, shackled, to dig their own mass graves. Then the Khmer Rouge soldiers beat them to death with iron bars and hoes or buried them alive. A Khmer Rouge extermination prison directive ordered, "Bullets are not to be wasted."

The Khmer Rouge also classified by religion and ethnic group. They abolished all religion and dispersed minority groups, forbidding them to speak their languages or to practice their customs. The Cham Muslims were especially singled out for murder. A Central Committee directive ordered, "The Cham nation no longer exists on Kampuchean soil belonging to the Khmer. Accordingly, the Cham nationality, language, customs and religious beliefs must be immediately abolished. Those who fail to obey this order will suffer all the consequences for their acts of opposition to Angkar," the Khmer Rouge high command. Whole Cham villages were murdered. Cham children were taken away from their parents and raised as Khmers. Chams were not, permitted to speak their language. Though Muslims, they were forced to eat pork. Their leaders were killed. "We drank tears," said a Cham to me. Most Chams were classified as "new people" because they were Cham. Censuses I have taken in Cham villages-show that a quarter to a third, over a hundred thousand of them, died out of a pre-Khmer Rouge population of about 200,000. There is evidence that the Khmer Rouge planned to kill the rest of the Cham and were only stopped by the Vietnamese invasion on Christmas Day of 1978.

The Khmer Rouge also disrobed all Buddhist monks, subjected them to brutal forced labor and wiped out the practice of Buddhism. They did the same to Christianity, leaving only one Khmer pastor, who survived only because he hid his identity. Chinese and Vietnamese minorities were also marked for murder. Perhaps the most massive murder of all was committed on the population of the Eastern zone of Democratic Kampuchea in 1978, in the provinces of Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and parts of Kandal and Kompong Cham near the Vietnamese border. The Khmer Rouge leaders declared the entire population of this region to have "Khmer bodies, but Vietnamese heads." In 1978 most of the Eastern zone people were evacuated to other provinces where they were placed in forced labor communes, then systematically underfed and overworked, often to death. Many were murdered outright.

Blue Scarves:

In December, 1986, while interviewing witnesses in that region with Australian historian Ben Kiernan, we made a dramatic discovery of the symbolic means the Khmer Rouge leaders used to mark Eastern zone people for extermination. It is the clinching proof that the Eastern zone genocide was ordered by the Khmer Rouge leadership in Phnom Penh. The people of the Eastern zone were evacuated up the rivers and roads to Phnom Penh, then sent onward to other provinces. At Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge issued every man, woman and child from the Eastern zone a new blue and white checked scarf, a “kroma.” The Khmer Rouge then required them to wear the scarf at all times. "Other people wore red and white or yellow and white scarves, but weren't allowed to wear blue and white scarves," Huy Rady, an eye-witness explained. "People from the Eastern zone would be known by their scarf If you were wearing a blue scarf, they would kill you. There was a plan to kill all the Eastern zone people. They were not going to spare any of them."

The blue scarf was the yellow star. It was a symbol of a classification made by the Khmer Rouge Central Committee and imposed by its own cadres in Phnom Penh. It is the clearest evidence we have yet gathered of the genocidal intent of the Khmer Rouge. As a witness told me, "I have seen the Khmer Rouge come to a place and take away the people with blue scarves. Every day was a killing day. They put on a killing sign." Chhun Vun of lower Neak Leung village explained, "They could tell who was an Eastern zone person. No one else wore blue scarves. The blue scarves were distributed to us directly by Pol Pot's Standing Group, the Permanent Committee of the Party. They distributed them to everyone of the Eastern Zone. The scarves were distributed as a sign in Phnom Penh city at Chbar Ampeou." I asked Chhun Vun, "If a Pursat base person wanted to wear a blue scarf would the Khmer Rouge permit it?" He answered, "They were absolutely not allowed to wear the clothes of the Eastern Zone people. They planned to kill us all."


Killing Field

'Angkar became the rallying cry, the central organizing concept, and the justification for a new Democratic Kampuchea. “All orders and slogans, for example, were issued in the name of the Angkar Padevoat” (Tyner: 141). Angkar was ‘the mother and father of all young children, as well as all adolescent boys and girls’. Consequently, as the ‘dad-mom’ of the people, Angkar was conceived as having ‘true’ knowledge and authority. Idealized in songs and poems, Angkar was constructed as the benefactor of the people; it cared for, and protected, its children. Thus, according to the Khmer Rouge: ‘The Angkar is the soul of the revolution’; ‘the Angkar is the soul of the motherland’…’The Angkar is the people’s brain’…The Angkar, it was claimed, knew all, including people’s inner-most thoughts and desires (italics in original, Tyner: 142f). Put in Foucauldian terms—which, oddly, Tyner does not do, though he quotes Foucault at length throughout the book—Angkar functioned as the Kampuchean panopticon. As Angkar’s self appointed agent, the Khmer Rouge assumed extraordinary license to care for, protect, direct, control, torture, work to death, and murder its children for the good of the nation. Yet, what the good of the nation entailed was a mystery. Aside from an omniscient, omnipresent Angkar, self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-referential, the Khmer Rouge failed to articulate clearly the objectives of the revolution or the contours of a new Democratic Kampuchea. The Khmer Rouge was, to be sure, anti-capitalist, anti-Western, anti-colonial, anti-urban, and autarchic. But how those traits translated into generative programs remained unclear. Nuon Chea, a.k.a. Brother Number Two, who, as deputy secretary of the Community Party of Kampuchea’s Central Committee, was second in command, issued a broad, inexact vision for the new state, but little else: ‘We liberated our country on 17 April 1975…We did that for the defense of Democratic Kampuchea, for the Cambodian workers and peasants in cooperatives, for the next decade, for the next century, the next millennium, the next ten thousand years, and forever’ (Tyner: 86). What the Khmer Rouge wanted was “instant socialism,” but, according to Cambodian scholars, it did not wish to “build socialism’” through “transition phases,” as post-Leninist Marxian economists theorized must happen in the event revolutions do not occur “after the final phase of capitalist evolution” (Tyner: 105). Instead, the Khmer Rouge “grossly misunderstood the idea of ‘transitional phases’ as ‘reformist’ or ‘revisionist.’” Over-estimating their power, the Khmer Rouge clique believed they could “bring about a super great leap forward and achieve instant socialism” (Tyner: 105). And so, the revolution enacted by the Khmer Rouge was a “‘revolution by [and of] eradication’” (Jackson quoted in Tyner: 112). Theirs was not so much the production of new space—Angkar was, after all, a geographic concept, denoting both the motherland of that territory we identify on a map as Cambodia, and a particular (if sadistic and murderous) way of life—as it was the obliteration of “pre-existing histories, geographies, and societies” (Tyner: 105).'

+ “Revolution by Eradication:” On the Khmer Rouge’s Making of the Tragedy of Cambodia - Matthew S. Weinert (2008):

The Stages of the Genocidal Process:

It is human to classify. Indeed, structural linguists who follow Roman Jakobson believe that classification and combination are the two fundamental operations of the human mind. We classify whenever we name something or describe someone. Human beings are the symbol-using animal; in symbolizing, we classify. But our symbols and our classifications are made, are invented, by us. They are our product. They are abstractions away from the concrete reality of the world of persons. The problem is not that we humans classify. It is that we treat the classifications as if they had ultimate reality. We forget that it is we who made the classifications and we treat our abstractions as if they were concrete. To use Whitehead's term, we misplace concreteness. We human beings overvalue our abstractions and tum them against other persons and even against ourselves. Like the nuclear weapons and guns we have invented because of our extraordinary ability to symbolize, we turn our own creations, our own symbolic classifications, against ourselves. And we kill with them.

Classifications and symbolizations that define group boundaries and that exclude people who are enemies are by nature depersonalizing. Totalitarian regimes like the Khmer Rouge are regimes of ultimate depersonalization. Even the leaders referred to themselves as Brother Number One and Brother Number Two in their orders to the Director of the Tuol Sleng extermination prison.

"Genocide is defined in the international convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as "the intentional destruction in whole or in part of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such."

The Khmer Rouge committed genocide when they classified the Cham Muslims, the Buddhist monks, Christians, and other groups as class enemies and then destroyed them. They may also have committed legal genocide, and certainly committed politicide, a crime against humanity, by classifying part of the Democratic Kampuchean national group, the people of the Eastern Zone, as enemies, marking them with blue scarves, and marching them to their deaths.

Classification and symbolization: are the first two operations in the genocidal process. Later operations, which may be both concurrent and sequential, are vilification (dehumanization), organization, polarization, preparation, and extermination.

Vilification (dehumanization): the third stage of genocide, is the process by which members of a class are designated as enemies. The Nazis vilified Jews as subhuman rats and vermin. In the Tuol Sleng extermination prison, people -- persons -- were photographed with numbers and forced to "confess" they were animals, not persons, before being murdered by the guards. People of the Eastern Zone were vilified as possessing corrupt, enemy Vietnamese minds.

Organization: the fourth stage of genocide, is necessary because genocide is a group crime. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge literally referred to their “party center” as the Angkar, the “organization.” Orders came from a shadowy authority, a supernatural force, not individuals.

Polarization: the fifth stage of genocide, is a strategy of all genocidal regimes, used to target people they designate as “enemies of the people” “traitors,” “collaborators”, or “counter-revolutionaries.” Genocidal regimes have a need to conduct internal purges of their own ranks to identify and blame members of their regime they suspect of causing the inevitable failures of totalitarian rule. That is why many of the victims at the infamous Tuol Sleng extermination prison in Phnom Penh, which killed at least 14,000 people, were cadres from the Khmer Rouge themselves.

Preparation: the sixth, penultimate stage of genocide, is the operation when extermination prisons are built and members of vilified groups (class enemies, the Cham, people from: the Eastern zone) are identified and are transported to them. It is the moment when Dr. Mengele, the Doctor of Death, beckons to those who are doomed.

One of the striking needs of the genocidal mind is the need for orderly determination of who will be included in the groups to be killed. The Nazis kept meticulous records of their crimes, including records of those classified and identified for murder, the lists of the damned. The Khmer Rouge, too, kept voluminous records in their extermination prisons, and tortured their victims to reveal names of others in the network of class enemies. They photographed each victim of the Tuol Sleng prison, including the children. Kinship identification was enough for condemnation to death, since it was Khmer Rouge policy to kill entire families. The stated purpose was to prevent later bitterness toward the Angkar by the children of enemies who had been executed.

The seventh, final criminal stage of genocide is Extermination. The individuals identified as members of vilified groups are taken to the killing fields and murdered. At this stage a strange means rationality takes over, an ethic of efficiency. The most efficient, lowest cost method of mass murder is preferred and bureaucracies are organized to administer the murder in an orderly, "rational" way.


+ Dead Kennedys - "Holiday In Cambodia" [Live in Portland] (1979):

The SS chose an ordinary insecticide, Zyklon B, as the lowest cost, most efficient means of exterminating the Jewish "vermin". The Khmer Rouge murder weapons of choice were ordinary hoes and iron bars. The victims were tied together in a line, and forced to kneel at the edge of mass graves they had been forced to dig. Then the Khmer Rouge guards beat each victim to death by blows to the skull, severing the spinal cord. In Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces, along with the many mass graves filled with thousands of bodies (Choeng Ek--8000, Tonle Bati--4000, etc.), there are unfilled mass graves prepared for thousands of additional victims. The planning necessary to efficiently dispose of bodies requires a pathological order, a bureaucracy of death. As Max Weber pointed out, even the most irrational end can be pursued by rational means. The “ends- justifies- the- means” mentality of Marxism-Leninism and of all other totalitarian ideologies is what makes them so radically evil. Kierkegaard's "teleological suspension of the ethical" is taken to its extreme. In the name of creating a perfect new world, all morality is suspended, all persons are merely means to the end. Class enemies are to be killed.

Genocide is the pattern of human history, not its aberration. More people have died from genocides in this century than from all the wars combined. There are many types of genocides. Many of them are national, ethnical, racial, or religious like those committed against the Jews, the Native Americans, the Armenians, the Bengalis in Bangladesh/East Pakistan, the Hutu in Burundi, and countless others. But the most massive genocides of our century have been part of politicides committed by totalitarian regimes, by National Socialists and Marxist-Leninists. Two million murdered in Cambodia. Three million intentionally starved to death in the Ukraine. Sixty million murdered in the Soviet Union. Twenty-five million murdered under Mao. In those regimes the genocidal process has been glorified by ideology, by the Nazi doctrine of the master race and the Aryan nation, by the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of class enemies and communism. For the future of mankind, anthropologists must make the study, the understanding, and the conquest of genocide a central goal of our vocation. Our understanding of the processes of classification and symbolization will be a key to attacking genocide yet to come, to preventing genocide, the scourge of humanity.'

"This lecture in 1987 was the first public presentation of Dr. Gregory H. Stanton's path-breaking Stages of Genocide model of the genocidal process. It was the basis of his paradigmatic Eight Stages of Genocide memo for the US State Department in 1996. It is the basis of the Ten Stages of Genocide model currently used for genocide prediction and prevention by Genocide Watch."

+ Blue Scarves and Yellow Stars: Classification and Symbolization in the Cambodian Genocide(1987):

typehost's picture

Ford Cheney Rumsfeld

'By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office—the only time an American president has done so. As the new president became settled in, Ford appointed Rumsfeld White House Chief of Staff, where he served from 1974 to 1975. In 1969 Alexander Haig became an assistant to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. He became vice chief of staff of the Army, the second-highest-ranking position in the Army, in 1972. After the 1973 resignation of H. R. Haldeman, Haig became President Nixon's chief of staff. Serving in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he became especially influential in the final months of Nixon's tenure, and played a role in persuading Nixon to resign in August 1974. Haig continued to serve as chief of staff for the first month of President Ford's tenure. President Richard Nixon appointed General George Brown: U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) to be Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, effective 1 August 1973. Brown was "responsible for all Air Force combat air strike, air support and air defense operations in Southeast Asia." He was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff effective 1 July 1974, a month before Nixon resigned. Dick Cheney was Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Chief of Staff under Gerald Ford. When Donald Rumsfeld was named Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney became White House Chief of Staff, succeeding Rumsfeld. Cheney also served as campaign manager for Ford's 1976 presidential campaign. The term Year Zero (Khmer: ឆ្នាំសូន្យ chhnam saun), applied to the takeover of Cambodia in April 1975 by the Khmer Rouge, is an analogy to the Year One of the French Revolutionary Calendar. During the French Revolution, after the abolition of the French monarchy (September 20, 1792), the National Convention instituted a new calendar and declared the beginning of the Year I. The Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh was rapidly followed by a series of drastic revolutionary de-industrialization policies resulting in a death toll that vastly exceeded that of the French Reign of Terror. April 17, 1975 was a day of hope and horror for the people of Cambodia. It was the day the Khmer Rouge Communists rolled into Phnom Penh and took control of the government. Cheering people lined the streets hoping for peace. What they got instead was horror--one of the worst genocides in human history.'

+ "Cambodia: Year Zero" - The Nixon-Cambodia War Crimes Evidence Cover-Up (2019):

+ Richard Milhous Nixon (1913–1994):
+ Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. (1924–2010):
+ George Scratchley Brown (1918–1978):
+ Donald Henry Rumsfeld (born July 9, 1932):
+ Richard Bruce Cheney (born January 30, 1941):
+ George Herbert Walker Bush (1924–2018):
+ John Sidney "Jack" McCain Jr. (1911–1981):
+ Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928–2017):

'On May 2, 1974, the Committee on the Judiciary unanimously adopted special procedures for presenting the evidence compiled by the committee staff to the full committee in hearings. The procedures provided for a statement of information to be presented, with annotated evidentiary materials, to committee members and to the President’s counsel. The procedures allowed for the compilation and presentation of additional evidence by committee members or on request of the President’s counsel. Procedures were also adopted for holding hearings to examine witnesses. Under the procedures, hearings were to be attended by the President’s counsel, and he was permitted to examine witnesses. The procedures followed in the presentation of evidence are reflected in the summary from the committee’s final report: From May 9, 1974 through June 21, 1974, the Committee considered in executive session approximately six hundred fifty ‘‘statements of information’’ and more than 7,200 pages of supporting evidentiary material presented by the inquiry staff. The statements of information and supporting evidentiary material, furnished to each Member of the Committee in 36 notebooks, presented material on several subjects of the inquiry: the Watergate break-in and its aftermath, ITT, dairy price supports, domestic surveillance, abuse of the IRS, and the activities of the Special Prosecutor. The staff also presented to the Committee written reports on President Nixon’s income taxes, presidential impoundment of funds appropriated by Congress and the bombing of Cambodia. In each notebook, a statement of information relating to a particular phase of the investigation was immediately followed by supporting evidentiary material, which included copies of documents and testimony (much of it already on public record), transcripts of presidential conversations, and affidavits. A deliberate and scrupulous abstention from conclusions, even by implication, was observed. The Committee heard recordings of nineteen presidential conversations and dictabelt recollections. The presidential conversations were neither paraphrased nor summarized by the inquiry staff. Thus, no inferences or conclusions were drawn for the Committee. During the course of the hearings, Members of the Committee listened to each recording and simultaneously followed transcripts prepared by the inquiry staff. On June 27 and 28, 1974, Mr. James St. Clair, Special Counsel to the President made a further presentation in a similar manner and form as the inquiry staff’s initial presentation. The Committee voted to make public the initial presentation by the inquiry staff, including substantially all of the supporting materials presented at the hearings, as well as the President’s response. Between July 2, 1974, and July 17, 1974, after the initial presentation, the Committee heard testimony from nine witnesses, including all the witnesses proposed by the President’s counsel. The witnesses were interrogated by counsel for the Committee, by Special counsel to the President pursuant to the rules of the Committee, and by Members of the Committee. The Committee then heard an oral summation by Mr. St. Clair and received a written brief in support of the President’s position. The Committee concluded its hearings on July 17, a week in advance of its public debate on whether or not to recommend to the House that it exercise its constitutional power of impeachment. In preparation for that debate the majority and minority members of the impeachment inquiry staff presented to the Committee ‘‘summaries of information.’’ The Committee on the Judiciary had previously adopted a resolution which was called up in the House under a motion to suspend the rules, on July 1, 1974, to authorize the committee to proceed without regard to Rule XI clause 27(f)(4), House Rules and Manual § 735 (1973), requiring the application of the five-minute rule for interrogation of witnesses by committees. The House had rejected the motion to suspend the rules and thereby denied to the committee the authorization to dispense with the five-minute rule in the interrogation of witnesses.'

'On July 30, the Committee considered an amendment to add a proposed Article, which charged that President Nixon authorized, ordered and ratified the concealment of information from the Congress and supplied to Congress false and misleading statements concerning the existence, scope and nature of American bombing operations in Cambodia. The proposed Article stated that these acts were in derogation of the powers of Congress to declare war, make appropriations, and raise and support armies. By a vote of 26 to 12, the amendment to add this Article was not agreed to.'

+ Impeachment Proceedings Against President Nixon (1973-74):



'As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Father Drinan gained a national profile in the summer of 1974 when the committee's hearings considering Nixon's impeachment were televised. The hearings would have taken place a year earlier, had Father Drinan had his way. On July 31, 1973, he introduced the first resolution to impeach the president-- though not for any high crimes and misdemeanors relating to the Watergate scandal, but rather over the administration's secret bombing campaign in Cambodia. Father Drinan prided himself on having filed that resolution. But its timing dismayed the House Democratic leadership, which thought it premature and counterproductive. "Morally, Drinan had a good case," In 1975, Father Drinan filed an impeachment resolution against U.S. ambassador to Iran Richard Helms for his activities as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. That same year, Father Drinan was chief plaintiff in a suit filed by 21 Democratic congressmen to block U.S. military involvement in Cambodia. It was later dismissed.'

+ FATHER ROBERT DRINAN - Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 17 (2007):

'On the night of July 26, 1973, Father Drinan sat late at his desk, which was covered with press clippings. Some were from a series of articles by Seymour Hersh in The New York Times, including a report that the Pentagon admitted to 3,360 secret bombing raids on Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 and that it had destroyed the records to cover up the missions. He dictated a two-page memo to his staff explaining that his conscience called him to file a resolution to impeach the president. Yes, there were other reasons, including the plumbers’ invasion of Watergate. But for Father Drinan the illegal secret bombing of Cambodia was the reason he would stand before the House of Representatives on July 31 and say: “Mr. Speaker, with great reluctance I have come to the conclusion that the House of Representatives should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.” He was particularly proud that he could make that historic speech, the first call for impeachment, on the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola.

America’s first editorial on the subject of the growing Watergate scandal, on Sept. 9, 1972, summarized events since the arrest of the five Watergate burglars on June 17 and warned that if no one were indicted, many citizens would conclude that politics had blocked the prosecution. In the following issue, the magazine’s “Washington Front” correspondent, Edward Glynn, S.J., compared the Watergate affair to a spicy stew that had been sitting on the back burner all summer. By May 5, 1973, the editorial board was hitting hard. This is not mere “bungling malfeasance,” but a “sinister strategy overseen by some highly placed administration men whose faces, at this writing, are still in the shadows.” The White House has been “shielding those faces from the light.”

Patrick Buchanan, then a White House adviser, brought Father McLaughlin to the White House as an assistant speechwriter and “resident Jesuit,” a priestly advocate for the Nixon administration. He took an apartment in the Watergate Hotel, gave his blessing to the 1972 Christmas bombing of Hanoi, defended the president’s obscenities on the tapes as “emotional drainage” and told CBS News that Mr. Nixon was “the greatest moral leader in the last third of this century.” When the president insisted that there would be no more tapes released to anyone, Father McLaughlin explained that according to a theological analysis of the transcripts, they were neither amoral nor immoral and that the president had acquitted himself with honor during these discussions. He described Senator Hugh Scott’s concern about the tapes as “erroneous, unjust” and containing elements of hypocrisy. To Father McLaughlin, Representative Peter Rodino, who led the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the Nixon White House, was a “crude political tactician.”

Father McLaughlin was a Republican attack dog, picking up where former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who had resigned on Oct. 10, 1973, amid a bribery scandal, had left off. On Oct. 20, in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, President Nixon fired the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox; and Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. Three days later, 44 Watergate-related bills were introduced in Congress, including 22 that called for an impeachment investigation. Against this background Father McLaughlin defended the president in a series of radio and television talk show appearances in the Boston area. In one 53-minute radio encounter, he argued that the special prosecutor had “provoked his firing” by rejecting a reasonable compromise when Mr. Nixon refused to release tapes that were “private.” He compared the investigation to the Spanish Inquisition and said all the charges of “abuse of power” and maladministration were vague and weak and that, while Mr. Nixon had made mistakes, all presidents had made mistakes and pursuing all these charges would weaken future presidents.

Father McLaughlin’s basic argument, often repeated, was that Mr. Nixon had not committed a crime, and impeachment required a crime. Father Drinan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee that would address the impeachment case, had studied that question and concluded, with the committee, that no crime was required for impeachment. The display of two battling Jesuits challenged the Washington press. Father Drinan had decided that when Father McLaughlin barked, he would not bite back; but the Los Angeles Times national correspondent Jack Nelson simulated a debate by bringing together two separate interviews in “Two Jesuits at Odds Over Nixon” (10/10/74). Father McLaughlin compared the House Judiciary Committee to the novel Lord of the Flies and charged Father Drinan with a “rape of justice” and with having characterized Mr. Nixon’s policies as “Hitlerite genocide.”

The forced resignations of John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman in April 1973 threw President Nixon into a state of depression. Withdrawing even from his wife, he retreated to his haven in Key Biscayne, Fla., where at Mr. Haldeman’s insistence he summoned General Haig to assume the role of chief of staff. General Haig was a decorated veteran of the wars in Korea and Vietnam and had earned a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University. He was formerly on the staff of Henry Kissinger, who described him as “strong in crises, decisive in judgment, skillful in bureaucratic infighting.” The top White House staff job was to stand in the midst of the conflict and both keep order and protect the president. Mr. Haig resisted, but he could not refuse his commander in chief.

As months passed, evidence mounted that the president was taking less responsibility for his behavior. Mr. Haig had witnessed this development. Mr. Nixon began calling his friends and advisers at night, asking whether he should resign. His chief of staff repeatedly said no. But once he became aware in July 1974 of the June 23, 1972, tape that made clear that the president had ordered the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, his role changed, shifting from protecting the president to managing the president’s resignation in a way that would allow Mr. Nixon to come to the decision on his own. Mr. Haig admonished Mr. Nixon’s visitors to give the president the facts about the mounting opposition but not to suggest quitting. Mr. Nixon had to resign “freely.” Throughout, Mr. Haig’s off-scene supporter and confidant was his younger brother, Frank Haig, S.J., a physicist who had been president of Wheeling College from 1966 to 1972, and after his brother served both President Gerald Ford and President Ronald Reagan, was president of LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. (1981-89). Though he had always been a Democrat, he called himself a Rockefeller Republican to support his brother.

According to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in The Final Days (1976), Alexander Haig “detested” John McLaughlin, S.J., whose ideas on morality were not going to save the president. According to Father Haig, in a recent interview for this article, his brother had opposed bringing Father McLaughlin in as a speechwriter, but later accepted him, though in his estimation the Jesuit speechwriter was not what a good Catholic priest should be, not a strong defender of both the faith and the truth. For a while, Mr. Haig was suspected of being the unidentified source known as Deep Throat, who fed information to investigative journalists at The Washington Post. But there was no way Alexander Haig could have been Deep Throat, his brother said. He would rather have quit. What should Mr. Nixon have done? The Haigs thought he should have told the whole truth right away and the issue would have died.

On July 24, 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court, at the request of the special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, decided 8 to 0 (Justice Rehnquist had recused himself) that executive privilege did not apply to the White House tapes and ordered President Nixon to surrender them all to Judge John Sirica, who had been hearing the Watergate case since the arrest of the plumbers two years earlier. The court asked Sirica to review the tapes and decide which should be released to the special prosecutor’s office. Thus the public learned that Mr. Nixon had said to his aides, “I want you all to stonewall it, let [the burglars] plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up, or anything else, it’ll save it—save the plan.” That evening the House Judiciary Committee, which had been working on impeachment since the previous December, began its deliberations in earnest.

Over the following several days, the committee voted by wide margins to recommend impeachment on the first three articles: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and refusal to cooperate with the committee’s investigation. Father Drinan seldom spoke during the hearings. He had already had his moment in the sun with his original proposal; he was surrounded by 37 other lawyers who had a lot to say, and he had a hard time getting recognized. The fourth article of impeachment, on the bombing of Cambodia, was anti-climactic and was rejected, although Father Drinan had to ask, “How could we impeach a president for concealing a burglary but not for concealing a mass bombing?” On Aug. 9, 1974, President Nixon resigned.'

+ Watergate: Three Jesuits and the Downfall of a President (2014):


John McCain Jr.

'When we got out of the train at the station in Sisophon a reception committee was waiting for us. Loudspeakers welcomed us and asked all "specialists" to step forward: doctors, architects, schoolteachers, students, technicians, and skilled workers of all kinds. The Angkar was going to need them. I didn't move, but a man who had been a nurse under me and was now a Khmer Rouge cadre recognized me and strongly advised me to tell them my true identity or risk punishment. Then all the "specialists" were taken to Preah Neth Preah, where we had to work the land as before. One day we were taken to Chup, a village on the road between Siem Reap and Sisophon. There the Khmer Rouge received us with open arms and gave us three meals a day! That was a real treat! At one big meeting, attended by 397 "specialists," a Khmer Rouge asked us to write our biographies and set down our desiderata. He even invited us to come up to the platform and offer our suggestions as to bow the country could be better run. Teachers and students went up and began criticizing the Angkar for not giving people anything to eat, and for treating the sick with medicine that was more like rabbit dung than real pills; they asked for the bonzes to be reinstated and the pagodas reopened, and the high schools and universities, and for everyone to be allowed to visit his family, et cetera. The Khmer Rouge said nothing, but we could see plainly enough that they didn't like it. After we had written our autobiographies they called out die names of twenty young people who had been most outspoken in their criticism, tied their hands behind their backs the way you tie a parrot's wings, and took them to Sisophon, where they were put in prison. The rest of us went back to the village of Preah Neth Preah. A month later, on January 6, the Khmer Rouge came to get some of us and took us to dle Battambang prison. There were forty­five of us, and we were the first Zguests" of the prison since the new regime began. We had to write out our autobiographies several more times. Each time the cadres became more insistent: "You've made good progress since the last time but we know that some of you are still not telling the whole truth! We know what that truth is, why hide it? The Angkar doesn't want to kill you, don't be afraid! By acting the way you are, you show that you have not been converted." After three sessions, one of my friends revealed that he had been an army doctor. A week later he disappeared. We had been there two weeks when the group of twenty young people interned at Sisophon were brought in; their arms were still tied at all times, even during meals, and the ropes had cut deep furrows. We also saw a former lieutenant colonel of the government army brought in, and about twenty [republican] MPs. After a few days they were taken away one at a time and we didn't see them again. Now and then one of us was summoned for a "meeting," and sometimes the person did not come back. At the end of two and one­half months in prison fifteen of us were taken to the Van Kandal pagoda, which had also been made into a prison. There were three buildings in the pagoda: The doors and windows of one were kept permanently shut-that was where the prisoners were beaten, and some people had been in it for seven months. The windows of the second building were opened from time to time. The third building, where I was put, was for prisoners who stayed only a short time, usually two or three weeks. Its doors and windows were always open until 6:00 P.M. We had reeducation sessions, study meetings, we were subjected to constant interrogations. Those of us who were European­-trained doctors and engineers were questioned even more than the others, because we were suspected of having worked with the imperialists or been engaged in secret activities. In the evening, when we were taking our bath in the Stung Sangker, we saw other prisoners bathing, for although the houses on the other bank were always shut up, there were prisoners in them too. After ten days we were given a black garment and a gray and red krama [scarf] and put in a truck. Half the group was let out at Poy Saman and the other half at Kauk Khmwn to go on working in the field. That was April 6, 1976.'

+ "Cambodia: Year Zero" - Ponchaud, François (1978):

'During the Vietnam War, McCain was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater from 1968 to 1972. He was a stalwart supporter of President Richard Nixon's policy of Vietnamization. McCain played a significant role in the militarization of U.S. policy towards Cambodia, helping to convince Nixon to launch the 1970 Cambodian Incursion and establishing a personal relationship with Cambodian leader Lon Nol. McCain was also a proponent of the 1971 incursion into Laos. He retired from the Navy in 1972. His father, John S. McCain Sr., was also an admiral in the Navy and was a naval aviator; the two were the first father-son pair to achieve four-star rank. His son, John S. McCain III, was a former naval aviator who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam during McCain's time as CINCPAC, who retired with the rank of captain and then became a United States Senator and the 2008 Republican Party nominee for President of the United States.

McCain played an important part in the expansion of U.S. involvement in Cambodia. In April 1970, McCain gave personal briefings to Nixon in Honolulu, and to Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in San Clemente, where he highlighted the threat from North Vietnamese operations in Cambodia and Laos. In particular, he said that Lon Nol's government in Cambodia would soon collapse unless North Vietnamese operations there were stopped, and that with a secure base there, North Vietnam could then launch attacks on South Vietnam which would cause the failure of Vietnamization. McCain additionally said that the schedule for the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Vietnam had to be flexible. McCain's views, which had the support of his subordinate, MACV commander General Creighton Abrams, helped persuade Nixon to go ahead with the Cambodian Incursion later that month. Kissinger would subsequently tell another admiral, "We have to be careful about having McCain around the president too much, because he fires up the president."

By fall 1970, McCain worried that Kissinger's plan for extensive commitment of South Vietnamese troops to preserve the Cambodian regime would endanger the progress of Vietnamization. Nevertheless, McCain was involved in the intense U.S. effort to prop up Cambodian leader Lon Nol, paying visits to Phnom Penh to give him assurances and assess the state of the Cambodians. When Lon Nol suffered a stroke in early 1971, he recuperated at McCain's guesthouse in Honolulu. At the same time, a Military Equipment Delivery Team program was organized to supply military assistance to the Cambodian government. McCain gained control of this effort (instead of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam), and to support a conflict that he proprietarily spoke of as "my war", made constant requests to the Pentagon for more arms and staff. He forced an Americanization of many logistics procedures within the Cambodian military. He sided with Kissinger and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as they prevailed over the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia and U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird in adopting a militarization of American policy with regard to that country. Lon Nol's gratitude towards McCain continued, including the gift of an elephant (soon named "Cincpachyderm") too large to transport on McCain's DC-6.

McCain was also very concerned about the North Vietnamese presence in Laos. He was a proponent of Operation Lam Son 719, the February–March 1971 U.S.-assisted incursion into southeastern Laos by the South Vietnamese Army. He told Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, that an offensive against the Ho Chi Minh Trail might compel Prince Souvanna Phouma, prime minister of Laos, "to abandon the guise of neutrality and enter the war openly." The operation ended in failure. Each year while Jack McCain was CINCPAC, he paid a Christmastime visit to the American troops in South Vietnam serving closest to the DMZ; he would stand alone and look north, to be as close to his son as he could get. During Operation Linebacker, the resumed bombing of the north starting in April 1972, the targets included the Hanoi area. The daily orders were issued by McCain, knowing his imprisoned son was in the vicinity.

In March 1972, the Nixon administration announced Admiral Noel Gayler as McCain's successor as CINCPAC, despite McCain's unheeded request to Nixon to have his tour extended so that he could see the war to its conclusion. McCain's time as CINCPAC ended on September 1, 1972; at the transfer of command ceremony in Honolulu that day, President Nixon focused on the contributions of the three generations of McCains – saying, "In the story of the McCains we see the greatness of America" – and awarded McCain a gold star in lieu of his second Navy Distinguished Service Medal. For the next two months, McCain served as special assistant to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. Kissinger would later characterize McCain's approach to the Vietnam War by saying, "He fought for the victory that his instinct and upbringing demanded and that political reality forbade."'

+ John Sidney "Jack" McCain Jr. (1911–1981):

'During the opening months of the 93rd Congress multiple resolutions calling for a presidential impeachment inquiry were introduced in the House and referred to its Judiciary Committee. The committee began an examination of the charges under its general investigatory authority. In February 1973 the House approved a resolution providing additional investigation authority that did not specifically mention impeachment. The first resolution to directly call for President Nixon's impeachment was introduced on July 31, 1973, by Robert Drinan. His resolution, which did not contain specific charges, was made in response to Nixon's clandestine authorization of the bombing of Cambodia, as well as his actions relative to the growing Watergate scandal. The resolution was effectively ignored by leaders of both parties. House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill later said,

"Morally, Drinan had a good case. But politically, he damn near blew it. For if Drinan's resolution had come up for a vote at the time he filed it, it would have been overwhelmingly defeated—by something like 400 to 20. After that, with most of the members already on record as having voted once against impeachment, it would have been extremely difficult to get them to change their minds later on."

By September 1973, there was a sense that Nixon had regained some political strength, the American public had become burned out by the Watergate hearings, and Congress was not willing to undertake impeachment absent some major revelation from the White House tapes or some egregious new presidential action against the investigation. There was, nonetheless, a public appetite for information about impeachment, piqued by the legal maneuvering over the tapes. Accordingly, the Judiciary Committee prepared a 718-page book on the topic. Published in October 1973, it traces the origin of the impeachment power, cites all the instances in which that power had previously been used by Congress and gives a detailed description of Andrew Johnson's 1868 Senate impeachment trial. On July 26, after defeating a motion from Republican Robert McClory to postpone taking action on the articles of impeachment for ten days so Nixon might have time to comply with the Supreme Court order to surrender the subpoenaed tapes,[153] the committee began debate on the first article of impeachment, charging Nixon with obstructing justice relative to the Watergate cover-up. Again there was sharp disagreement about what constituted an impeachable offense, whether only criminal acts qualified or non-criminal activity could qualify as well. Three articles were ultimately approved by the Committee, each one premised on alleged abuses of the powers of the presidency, although the first Article also involved a criminal allegation.

Republicans also continued to challenge those who would impeach to come up with more details in purposeful conversations to be linked together as part of a concerted plan of action, their objective being to maneuver those favoring impeachment into divisive arguments over what particulars to include. Ultimately, the tactic proved ineffective and was abandoned. Consequently, the first of three article was approved by a bipartisan margin of 27 to 11. The substantial bipartisan majority favoring the second article, charging Nixon with various abuses of power, was easily able to defeat a series of attempts by impeachment opponents to narrow the scope and gut key allegations. It passed 28–10 vote, with 7 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats.

A third article, charging Nixon with contempt of Congress for his defiance of committee subpoenas, was approved by a narrow bipartisan 21–17 margin. Seven Republicans who had been part of the coalition driving the first two articles returned to the party fold for this vote. One, Tom Railsback, warned that the Democratic majority appeared bent on "political overkill," by considering additional articles. The Committee considered two proposed articles which were rejected. One charged Nixon with encroaching on the powers of Congress by ordering the bombing of Cambodia without authorization and by largely concealing information about these bombing operations. The other charged Nixon with tax fraud for improvements made to his private homes at San Clemente and Key Biscayne at government expense, and failure to pay necessary taxes.

While no one argued that the president had not committed the actions specified in Article IV, it failed in part due to the history of the secret bombing, in which a few key members of Congress of both political parties had been privy to the information and had neither said anything to the rest of Congress nor done anything about it; in part because it would drag in the emotionally controversial subject of role of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War; and in part because disputes about congressional versus executive authority in this area had already been addressed by the War Powers Resolution, passed over Nixon's veto in 1973. This was the only article that Chairman Rodino voted against.

Article V failed on the emoluments aspect because the facts around whether the property improvements were legitimate requests of the U.S. Secret Service were unclear; and failed on the taxes aspect because there was insufficient evidence to prove an intent to defraud, and because some members felt the alleged crime was not an impeachable offense as it did not involve an abuse of presidential power.[106][160] In addition, from a strategic perspective, some committee members favoring impeachment felt that adding articles beyond the first three would be a distraction from the core constitutional issues being raised and would only confuse the discussion and prolong the impeachment process.'

+ The Impeachment Process against Richard Nixon (1973):


Gen George

'Scholar Donald W. Beachler, writing of the controversy about the range and extent of Khmer Rouge atrocities, concluded that "much of the posturing by academics, publicists, and politicians seems to have been motivated largely by political purposes" rather than concern for the Cambodian people. With conclusive evidence (including the discovery of over 20,000 mass graves) of a large number of deaths—estimated at between one and three million—of Cambodians caused by the Khmer Rouge, denials, deniers, and apologists largely disappeared, although disagreements concerning the actual number of Khmer Rouge victims have continued. Against the background of the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia (1978–1979), the United States practiced what the Washington Post called "hold-your-nose diplomacy", recognizing the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia while abhoring the "record of genocide" of the Khmer Rouge. The U.S. policy was in solidarity with China, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries who opposed the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on April 17, 1975 and immediately ordered all the residents to evacuate the city. "Between two and three million residents of Phnom Penh, Battambang, and other big towns were forced by the communists to walk into the countryside ... without organized provision for food, water, shelter, physical security or medical care." The evacuation probably resulted in at least 100,000 deaths. The dispossessed urban dwellers were assigned to re-education camps or "New Settlements." Former government employees and soldiers were executed. Soon, according to journalists, Cambodia resembled "a giant prison camp with the urban supporters of the former regime being worked to death on thin gruel and hard labor." The Khmer Rouge guarded the border with Thailand and only a few thousand refugees were able to make their way to Thailand and safety. As virtually no Westerners were allowed to visit Cambodia, those refugees plus the official news outlets of the Khmer Rouge were the principal sources of information about conditions in Cambodia for the next four years.'

'The "Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia" (STAV): 'Beachler has described the late 1970s debate about the character of the Khmer Rouge. "Many of those who had been opponents of U.S. military actions in Vietnam and Cambodia feared that the tales of murder and deprivation under the Khmer Rouge regime would validate the claims of those who had supported U.S. government actions aimed at halting the spread of communism. Conservatives pointed to the actions of the Khmer Rouge as proof of the inherent evils of communism and evidence that the U.S. had been right to fight its long war against communists in Southeast Asia..."

The controversy concerning the Khmer Rouge intensified in February 1977 with the publication of excerpts from a book by John Barron and Anthony Paul in Reader's Digest magazine. Based on extensive interviews with Cambodian refugees in Thailand, Barron and Paul estimated that, out of a total population of about 7 million people, 1.2 million Cambodians had died of starvation, over-work, or execution during less than two years of Khmer Rouge rule. Published about the same time was François Ponchaud's book, Cambodia: Year Zero. Ponchaud, a French priest, had lived in Cambodia and spoke Khmer. He also painted a picture of mass deaths caused by the Khmer Rouge. French scholar, Jean Lacouture, formerly a sympathizer of the Khmer Rouge, reviewed Ponchaud's book favorably in The New York Review of Books on March 31, 1977.

Chomsky and Herman noted the conflicting information in the various accounts, and suggested that after the "failure of the American effort to subdue South Vietnam and to crush the mass movements elsewhere in Indochina" there was now "a campaign to reconstruct the history of these years so as to place the role of the United States in a more favorable light". This rewriting of history by the establishment press was served well by "tales of Communist atrocities, which not only prove the evils of communism but undermine the credibility of those who opposed the war and might interfere with future crusades for freedom." They wrote that the refugee stories of Khmer Rouge atrocities should be treated with great "care and caution" because "refugees are frightened and defenseless, at the mercy of alien forces. They naturally tend to report what they believe their interlocuters wish to hear."[17]

In support of their assertion, Chomsky and Herman criticized Barron and Paul's book Murder of a Gentle Land for ignoring the U.S. government's role in creating the situation, saying, "When they speak of 'the murder of a gentle land,' they are not referring to B-52 attacks on villages or the systematic bombing and murderous ground sweeps by American troops or forces organized and supplied by the United States, in a land that had been largely removed from the conflict prior to the American attack". They give several examples to show that Barron and Paul's "scholarship collapses under the barest scrutiny," and they conclude that, "It is a fair generalization that the larger the number of deaths attributed to the Khmer Rouge, and the more the U.S. role is set aside, the larger the audience that will be reached. The Barron-Paul volume is a third-rate propaganda tract, but its exclusive focus on Communist terror assures it a huge audience."

Chomsky and Herman had both praise and criticism for Ponchaud's book Year Zero, writing on the one hand that it was "serious and worth reading" and on the other that "the serious reader will find much to make him somewhat wary." In the introduction to the American edition of his book, Ponchaud responded to a personal letter from Chomsky, saying, "He [Chomsky] wrote me a letter on October 19, 1977 in which he drew my attention to the way it [Year Zero] was being misused by anti-revolutionary propagandists. He has made it my duty to 'stem the flood of lies' about Cambodia -- particularly, according to him, those propagated by Anthony Paul and John Barron in Murder of a Gentle Land."'

+ The "Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia" [STAV] (2019):


'Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia is a 1979 British television documentary film written and presented by the Australian journalist John Pilger, which was produced and directed by David Munro for the ITV network by Associated Television (ATV). First broadcast on 30 October 1979, the filmmakers had entered Cambodia in the wake of the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime. The film recounts the bombing of Cambodia by the United States in the 1970s, a chapter of the Vietnam War kept secret from the American population, the subsequent brutality and Cambodian genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge militia after their take over of the country, the poverty and suffering of the people, and the limited aid since given by the West. Pilger's first report on Cambodia was published in a special issue of the Daily Mirror. Following the programme, some $45 million was raised, unsolicited, in mostly small donations, including almost £4 million raised by schoolchildren in the UK. This funded the first substantial relief for Cambodia, including the shipment of life-saving medicines such as penicillin, and clothing to replace the black uniforms people had been forced to wear. According to Brian Walker, director of Oxfam, "a solidarity and compassion surged across our nation" from the broadcast of Year Zero. During the filming of Cambodia Year One, the team were warned that Pilger was on a Khmer Rouge 'death list.' In one incident, they narrowly escaped an ambush.'

+ "Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia" - John Pilger (1979):

'For the last eleven years the United States government, in a covert operation born of cynicism and hypocrisy, has collaborated with the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. More specifically, Washington has covertly aided and abetted the Pol Potists' guerrilla war to overthrow the Vietnamese backed government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which replaced the Khmer Rouge regime. The U.S. government's secret partnership with the Khmer Rouge grew out of the U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the U.S.-worried by the shift in the Southeast Asian balance of power-turned once again to geopolitical confrontation. It quickly formalized an anti-Vietnamese, anti-Soviet strategic alliance with China-an alliance whose disastrous effects have been most evident in Cambodia. For the U.S., playing the "China card" has meant sustaining the Khmer Rouge as a geopolitical counterweight capable of destabilizing the Hun Sen government in Cambodia and its Vietnamese allies.

When Vietnam intervened in Cambodia and drove the Pol Potists from power in January 1972, Washington took immediate steps to preserve the Khmer Rouge as a guerrilla movement. International relief agencies were pressured by the U.S. to provide humanitarian assistance to the Khmer Rouge guerrillas who fled into Thailand. For more than a decade, the Khmer Rouge have used the refugee camps they occupy as military bases to wage a contra-war in Cambodia. According to Linda Mason and Roger Brown, who studied the relief operations in Thailand for Cambodian refugees:

"...relief organizations supplied the Khmer Rouge resistance movement with food and medicines.... In the Fall of 1979 the Khmer Rouge were the most desperate of all the refugees who came to the Thai-Kampuchean border. Throughout l900, however, their health rapidly improved, and relief organizations began questioning the legitimacy of feeding them. The Khmer Rouge. . . having regained strength...had begun actively fighting the Vietnamese. The relief organizations considered supporting the Khmer Rouge inconsistent with their humanitarian goals.... Yet Thailand, the country that hosted the relief operation, and the U.S. government, which funded the bulk of the relief operations, insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed."

During his reign as National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski played an important role in determining how the U.S. would support the Pol Pot guerrillas. Elizabeth Becker, an expert on Cambodia, recently wrote, "Brzezinski himself claims that he concocted the idea of persuading Thailand to cooperate fully with China in efforts to rebuild the Khmer Rouge.... Brzezinski said, " I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the DK [Democratic Kampuchea]. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could not support him but China could."


Khmer Rouge

+ Phnom Penh becomes ‘an echo chamber of silent streets’ (1975):

An Unholy Alliance:

The U.S. not only permitted the Khmer Rouge to use the refugee camps in Thailand as a base for its war against the new government in Phnom Penh but it also helped Prince Norodom Sihanouk and former Prime Minister Son Sann to organize their own guerrilla armies from the refugee population in the camps. These camps are an integral factor in the ability of the Khmer Rouge, the Sihanoukist National Army (ANS) and Son Sann's Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) to wage war against the Hun Sen government. In 1979, Washington began "a small program" of support for Sihanouk's and Son Sann's guerrillas by providing "travel expenses" for the "insurgent leaders" and funds "for the up keep of resistance camps near the Thai-Cambodian border." In addition, since 1982, the U.S. has provided the ANS and KPNLF with covert and overt "humanitarian" and "non lethal" military aid. By 1989, the secret non lethal aid had grown to between $20 million and $24 million annually and the overt humanitarian aid had reached $5 million. The Bush administration requested $7 million more in humanitarian aid for 1990.

When Congress approved the $5 million aid package for the ANS and KPNLF in 1985, it prohibited use of the aid "...for the purpose or with the effect of promoting, sustaining or augmenting, directly or indirectly, the capacity of the Khmer conduct military or paramilitary operations in Cambodia or elsewhere...." From the beginning, U.S. aid for the ANS and KPNLF has been a complimentary source of aid for the Khmer Rouge. According to a western diplomat stationed in Southeast Asia, ".. .two-thirds of the arms aid to the non-communist forces appears to come from Peking [Beijing], along with more extensive aid to the communist fighters [the Khmer Rouge].... China is estimated to spend $60 million to $100 million yearly in aid to all factions of the anti-Vietnamese resistance."

In 1982, under pressure from the U.S., China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Sihanouk and Son Sann joined forces with the Khmer Rouge to form the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK). The ANS and KPNLF, which were more politically respect able than the Khmer Rouge, gained military credibility from the guerrilla alliance. However, the Khmer Rouge gained considerable political legitimacy from the alliance and Khmer Rouge diplomats now represent the CGDK at the United Nations. The CGDK receives large amounts of military aid from Singapore. When asked about the relationship between money from the U.S. and arms from Singapore, another U.S. diplomat in Southeast Asia replied, "Let's put it this way. If the U.S. supplies [the guerrilla coalition] with food, then they can spend their food money on something else."

Direct U.S. Aid:

But there are indications of direct U.S. Iinks to the Khmer Rouge. Former Deputy Director of the CIA, Ray Cline, visited a Khmer Rouge camp inside Cambodia in November 1980. When asked about the visit, the Thai Foreign Ministry denied that Cline had illegally crossed into Cambodian territory. However, privately, the Thai government admitted that the trip had occurred. Cline's trip to the Pol Pot camp was originally revealed in a press statement released by Khmer Rouge diplomats at the United Nations. Cline also went to Thailand as a representative of the Reagan-Bush transition team and briefed the Thai government on the new administration's policy toward Southeast Asia. Cline told the Thais the Reagan administration planned to "strengthen its cooperation" with Thailand and the other ASEAN members opposed to the Phnom Penh government. There have been numerous other reports about direct links between the CIA and the Khmer Rouge. According to Jack Anderson, "through China, the CIA is even supporting the jungle forces of the murderous Pol Pot in Cambodia." Sihanouk himself admitted that CIA advisers were present in Khmer Rouge camps in late 1989: "Just one month ago, I received intelligence informing me that there were U.S. advisers in the Khmer Rouge camps in Thailand, notably in Site B camp.... The CIA men are teaching the Khmer Rouge human rights! The CIA wants to turn tigers into kittens!

By late 1989 the distinction between "direct or indirect" U.S. support for the Khmer Rouge was less clear. When CGDK forces launched an offensive in September 1989, Sihanouk's and Son Sann's armies openly cooperated with the Khmer Rouge. Moreover, by then the Khmer Rouge had infiltrated the military and political wings of the ANS and KPNLF. Sihanouk confirmed ANS and KPNLF military collaboration with the Khmer Rouge in a radio message broadcast clandestinely in Cambodia. "I would particularly like to commend the fact that our three armies know how to cordially cooperate with one another...We assist each other in every circumstance and cooperate with one another on the battlefield of the Cambodian motherland...., Sihanouk specifically mentioned military cooperation in battles at Battambang, Siem Reap, and Oddar Meanchey.

Evidence of increased involvement of U.S. military advisers in Cambodia has also begun to surface. A report in the London Sunday Correspondent noted that "American advisers are reported to have been helping train guerrillas of the non communist Khmer resistance and may have recently gone into Cambodia with them....Reports of increased U.S. involvement have also emerged from the northern town of Sisophon, where local officials say four westerners accompanied guerrillas in an attack on the town last month." Although the U.S. government denies supplying the ANS and KPNLF with military hardware, a recent report claimed that KPNLF forces had received a shipment of weapons from the U.S. including M-16s, grenade launchers, and recoilless rifles. It has also been reported that the U.S. is providing the KPNLF with high resolution satellite photographs and "several KPNLF commanders claim Americans were sent to train some 40 elite guerrillas in the use of sophisticated U.S.-made Dragon anti-tank missiles in a four-month course that ended last month." When the KPNLF launched a major offensive on September 30, a large number of U.S. officials were sighted in the border region, near the fighting.

Washington's link to the anti-Phnom Penh guerrilla factions was formalized in 1989 when KPNLF diplomat Sichan Siv was appointed as a deputy assistant to President George Bush. Siv's official assignment in the White House is the Public Liaison Office, where he works with different constituency groups, such as Khmer residents in the U.S. and other minority, foreign policy, youth, and education groups. Sives escaped from Cambodia in 1976 and immigrated to the U.S., where he joined the KPNLF. From 1983 to 1987, Siv served as a KPNLF representative at the United Nations as part of the CGDK delegation which was headed by Khmer Rouge diplomats. As part of the Bush administration, Sichan Siv is significantly involved in the formulation and conduct of U.S. policy in Cambodia. He was a "senior adviser" to the U.S. delegation attending an international conference on Cambodia held last summer in Paris, where the U.S. demanded the dismantling of the Hun Sen government and the inclusion of the Khmer Rouge in an interim four-party government. He was also the moderator of a White House briefing on Cambodia in October 1989 for Khmer residents in the U.S.

Another one of Siv's assignments has been to work as a liaison with far Right groups which provide political and material support for the KPNLF. He attended a World Anti Communist League (WACL) conference in Dallas, Texas in September 1985 along with other anti-communist "freedom fighters" from around the world. At the WACL conference, the KPNLF openly sought "outside training and support in intelligence and demolition." Siv has also worked with retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Theodore Mataxis, who heads up the North Carolina-based Committee for a Free Cambodia (CFC). Mataxis was approached by senior KPNLF generals in 1986 to set up the CFC to organize support in the U.S. for the KPNLF.


Khmer Rouge

+ The Pol Pot dilemma (2015):

Right Wing Support:

According to the Reagan doctrine, the goal of U.S. foreign policy was to "contain Soviet expansion" by supporting counter-revolutionary groups in Angola, Nicaragua, Cambodia, etc. and, in essence, "roll back" the "Soviet empire." Many of the right wing groups which gained prominence after Reagan's election immediately started programs to support contras across the globe. The World Anti-Communist League, the Heritage Foundation, the Freedom Research Foundation, as well as many others, all pressed hard for support of the "freedom fighters." In its 1984 policy report entitled, Mandate for Leadership II: Continuing the Conservative Revolution, the Heritage Foundation called on the Reagan administration to focus even more closely on these counter-revolutionary struggles and to: ...employ paramilitary assets to weaken those communist and noncommunist regimes that may already be facing the early stages of insurgency within their borders and which threaten U.S. interests....Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam reflect such conditions, as do Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Iran and Libya.

In 1984, right wing activist / adventurer Jack Wheeler stated that "[t]here are eight anti-Soviet guerrilla wars being conducted in the third world at this moment....Sooner or later, one of these movements is going to win....The first successful overthrow of a Soviet puppet regime may, in fact, precipitate a 'reverse domino effect,' a toppling of Soviet dominos, one after the other."

Not surprisingly, Wheeler is a big supporter of the Cambodian contra movement and has openly solicited material and political support for the KPNLF. In August 1984 he wrote an article for the Moonie-owned Washington Times in which he said, "After spending a week with the KPNLF inside is drawn inescapably to the conclusion that the KPNLF does indeed represent a real third noncommunist alternative for Cambodia....[But] the KPNLF is...running seriously low on weapons and ammunition. The lack of ammunition for rifles, rocket launchers, machine guns and mortars, is especially critical." Just how "private" the support Wheeler solicits for the KPNLF is open to question. Listed, along with Wheeler, on the Board of Directors of Freedom Research Foundation are Alex Alexiev and Mike Kelly. Alexiev is "with the National Security Division of the Rand Corporation. . . [and is] an expert on Soviet activities in the third world." Kelly was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower Resources and Military Personnel in the early 1980s. Kelly had earlier been a legislative assistant to the right wing Senators Bill Armstrong (Rep.-Colo.) and John Tower(Rep.-Tex.). Soldier of Fortune (SOF) magazine also journeyed to Cambodia in support of the KPNLF. In an article written after their visit to the front, SOF authors David Mills and Dale Andrade appealed for readers to contribute to the KPNLF and to send their donations to a Bangkok address. "Any private citizen who wants to give more than just moral support to help the KPNLF rebels can send "Any private citizen who wants to give more than just moral support to help the KPNLF rebels can send money." It doesn't take much. Forty dollars will buy two uniforms, one pair of shoes, two pairs of socks, knapsack, plastic sheet and a scarf for one soldier. That's not a bad deal."

Ted Mataxis Rides Again:

Retired Brigadier-General Ted Mataxis personifies the historic ties of the U.S. to the KPNLF. In 1971-72, Mataxis worked with General Sak Sutsakhan when he was chief of the U.S. Military Equipment Delivery Team (MEDT) in Phnom Penh. Mataxis's official role was to supervise the delivery of U.S military aid to then-Cambodian Premier Lon Nol. However, Mataxis's assignment also included a covert role-over seeing the escalation of U.S. forces in Cambodia after the April 1970 U.S. invasion. Mataxis was well suited for working on covert operations in Cambodia, having trained at the Army's Strategic Intelligence School in the late 1940s. Despite a 1970 congressional ban on aid to the Lon Nol army, there continued to be reports of MEDT personnel working as advisers to the Cambodian military. There were also reports of U.S. helicopters providing transport for Cambodian troops as well as supplying them with ammunition during battles. The U.S. also opened a radio station at Pochentong Airport, near Phnom Penh, to "help coordinate air support for Cambodian troops."

When Mataxis retired from the U.S. Army in 1972, he began working as a "military consultant" to the Defense Ministry of Singapore. "When I was down in Singapore I worked with them [Sak and the other Lon Nol generals] very closely. We used to do repairs on their ships and other things," Mataxis explained. "When Congress cut off money to them in 1973, they came down to see what Singapore could do to help them out. I got a team together from Singapore, and we went up to Phnom Penh. We made arrangements to buy old brass, old weapons and other stuff [to sell for profit] so they'd have money for supplies and other things." Under U.S. law, old U.S. weapons and scrap metal military equipment provided to allies is U.S. property, but there was no known official objection to Mataxis's end run around the congressional ban on U.S. military aid to the Lon Nol generals.

Mataxis recalled when Major General Pak Son Anh (who at the time worked closely with General Sak, the military commander of the KPNLF) visited him in Washington in 1986. "They [Pak and other KPNLF officers] came to see me and asked what I could do. They came up to my office at the Committee for a Free Afghanistan....They asked us to set up something like that [for the KPNLF]. So I went over to see Admiral [Thomas] Moorer. I took General Pak along and asked Admiral Moorer if he could act as a Godfather for us. He said, 'Yes, you can use my name.' Moorer was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Mataxis was head of the MEDT, and Mataxis's work in Cambodia was supervised by Moorer and Admiral John Mc Cain, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Forces, 1968-72. Mataxis spent much of 1987 setting up the Committee for a Free Cambodia (CFC). He visited General Sak in Thailand to determine the KPNLF's needs and promoted the KPNLF in the U.S. "I set it up for Pak to go to one of those American Security Council meetings [in Washington] in 1986. Then we had another one in 1987, where guerrillas from around the world came.... They'd get together and each guerrilla group would have a chance to get up and give his bit. It gave them a chance to exchange ideas and say what they were doing," Mataxis stated. Right wing support has been an important factor in keeping the Cambodian contras supplied. Even though Ted Mataxis lost in Vietnam, his war is not over.


Khmer Rouge

+ Ceremony held to mark brutality of Khmer Rouge (2019):


Although most people believe that the U.S. ended its intervention in Southeast Asia in 1975, it is evident from the information provided here that the U.S. continues to support repressive and non-democratic forces in the jungles of Cambodia. When asked about U.S. policy in Cambodia during an April 26, l990 ABC News special, Rep. Chester Atkins (Dem. Mass.) characterized it as "a policy of hatred." The U.S. is directly responsible for millions of deaths in Southeast Asia over the past 30 years. Now, the U.S. government provides support to a movement condemned by the international community as genocidal. How long must this policy of hatred continue?'

+ "On the Side of Pol Pot: U.S. Supports Khmer Rouge" - Jack Colhoun [Covert Action Quarterly] (1990):

'There are allegations that the United States (U.S.) directly armed the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian–Vietnamese War in order to weaken the influence of Vietnam and the Soviet Union in Southeast Asia. It is not disputed that the United States encouraged the government of China to provide military training and support for the Khmer Rouge and that the United States voted for the Khmer Rouge to remain the official representative of the country in the United Nations even after 1979 when the Khmer Rouge was mostly deposed by Vietnam and ruled just a small part of the country. Additional alleged U.S. actions that benefited the Khmer Rouge range from tolerating Chinese and Thai aid to the organization (Henry Kissinger) to, according to Michael Haas, directly arming the Khmer Rouge. The U.S. government officially denies these claims, and Nate Thayer defended U.S. policy, arguing that little, if any, American aid actually reached the Khmer Rouge. However, it is not disputed that the U.S. voted for the Khmer Rouge, and later, for the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which was dominated by the Khmer Rouge, to retain Cambodia's United Nations (UN) seat until 1982 and 1991, respectively. However, as Secretary of State Edmund Muskie said, these actions were a consequence of Vietnam's refusal to withdraw troops.'

'Vietnam invaded Cambodia in late 1978 and established the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) led by Khmer Rouge defectors. Vietnam's invasion was motivated by repeated cross-border attacks by the Khmer Rouge that targeted Vietnamese civilians, including the Ba Chúc massacre—in which the Khmer Rouge systematically killed the entire population of a Vietnamese village of over 3,000 people, with the exception of one woman who survived being shot in the neck and clubbed, causing her to suffer painful headaches for the rest of her life; before being killed, many of the victims were "barbarously tortured." These attacks killed over 30,000 Vietnamese in total. Vietnam ousted the Khmer Rouge and ended the genocide in a mere 17 days, however, Vietnamese troops occupied Cambodia for the next eleven years. Following the invasion, Vietnam attempted to publicize the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, establishing an ossuary for the victims at Ba Chúc and convincing the PRK to do the same for the Khmer Rouge's Cambodian victims; the Khmer Rouge's most notorious prison, S-21—which held 20,000 prisoners, "all but seven" of whom were killed—was revealed in May 1979 and eventually turned into the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, although there were well over 150 Khmer Rouge death camps "on the same model, at least one per district."

To punish Vietnam for overthrowing the Khmer Rouge, China invaded Vietnam in February 1979, while the United States (U.S.) "merely slapped more sanctions on Vietnam" and "blocked loans from the International Monetary Fund [(IMF)] to Vietnam." China trained Khmer Rouge soldiers on its soil during 1979—1986 (if not later), "stationed military advisers with Khmer Rouge troops as late as 1990," and "supplied at least $1 billion in military aid" during the 1980s. After the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, Thailand continued to allow the Khmer Rouge "to trade and move across the Thai border to sustain their activities ... although international criticism, particularly from the U.S. and Australia ... caused it to disavow passing any direct military support."

As a result of Chinese and Western opposition to the Vietnamese invasion and occupation, the Khmer Rouge, rather than the PRK, was allowed to hold Cambodia's United Nations (UN) seat until 1982. After 1982, the UN seat was filled by a Khmer Rouge-dominated coalition—the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK). Owing to Chinese, U.S., and Western support, the Khmer Rouge-dominated CGDK held Cambodia's UN seat until 1993, long after the Cold War had ended. The U.S. permitted Thailand to allow the Khmer Rouge to use bases in Thailand to wage a war of insurrection against the government in Phnom Penh that had been installed by Vietnam. Elizabeth Becker reported that U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski claimed that he "concocted the idea of persuading Thailand to cooperate fully with China to in efforts to rebuild the Khmer Rouge." The U.S. provided millions of dollars of annual food aid to 20,000-40,000 Khmer Rouge insurgents in Khmer Rouge bases in Thailand. The aid was managed by an organization that the U.S. established in the U.S. embassy in Bangkok called the Kampuchean Emergency Group (KEG) staffed by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency personnel and headed by Michael Eiland, whose job entailed interpreting satellite surveillance photos of Cambodia, and who had been operations officer of a U.S. commando reconnaissance unit code-named “Daniel Boone" and later was appointed U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency chief in charge of the Southeast Asia Region.

United States National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski: "I encourage[d] the Chinese to support [Khmer Rouge leader] Pol Pot ... we could never support him, but China could." However, Brzezinski subsequently stated: "The Chinese were aiding Pol Pot, but without any help or arrangement from the United States. Moreover, we told the Chinese explicitly that in our view Pol Pot was an abomination and that the United States would have nothing to do with him—directly or indirectly."

Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency visited a Khmer Rouge camp inside Cambodia in November 1980 as a representative of the incoming administration of U.S President Ronald Reagan. The Thai Foreign Ministry denied that Cline had illegally crossed into Cambodia, but privately acknowledged that Cline had visited the Pol Pot camp. Khmer Rouge diplomatic representatives to the United Nations had publicly announced the Cline trip to the Pol Pot camp in Cambodia.

Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, recalled: "ASEAN wanted elections but the U.S. supported the return of a genocidal regime. Did any of you imagine that the U.S. once had in effect supported genocide?" In fact, Kausikan described the disagreement between the U.S. and ASEAN over the Khmer Rouge as reaching the threshold that the U.S. even threatened Singapore with "blood on the floor".

Cambodian leader Norodom Sihanouk, when asked about charges of opportunism in May 1987: ("your critics would say ... that you would sleep with the Devil to achieve your end"), replied: "As far as devils are concerned, the U.S.A. also supports the Khmer Rouge. Even before the forming of the Coalition Government in 1982, the U.S. each year voted in favor of the Khmer Rouge regime. ... The U.S.A. says that it is against the Khmer Rouge, that it is pro-Sihanouk, pro-Son Sann. But the devils, they are there [laughs] with Sihanouk and Son Sann."

U.S. support for the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in the 1980s was "pivotal" to keeping the organization alive, and was in part motivated by revenge over Vietnam's defeat of the U.S. during the Vietnam War, according to Tom Fawthrop. A WikiLeaks dump of 500,000 U.S. diplomatic cables from 1978 document shows that the administration of President Jimmy Carter was torn between revulsion at the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and concern with the possibility of growing Vietnamese influence should the Khmer Rouge collapse.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk, leader of a resistance group allied with the Khmer Rouge in the war against the Phnom Penh government, acknowledged that CIA advisers were present in Khmer Rouge camps in late 1989: “Just one month ago, I received intelligence informing me that there were U.S. advisers in the Khmer Rouge camps in Thailand, notably in Site B camp...."

According to Michael Haas, despite publicly condemning the Khmer Rouge, the U.S. offered military support to the organization and was instrumental in preventing UN recognition of the Vietnam-aligned government. Haas argued that the U.S. and China responded to efforts from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for disarming the Khmer Rouge by ensuring the Khmer Rouge stayed armed, and that U.S. efforts for merging the Khmer Rouge with allied factions resulted in the formation of the CGDK. After 1982, the U.S. increased its annual covert aid to the Cambodian resistance from $4 million to $10 million. By contrast, Nate Thayer recounted that "The United States has scrupulously avoided any direct involvement in aiding the Khmer Rouge", instead providing non-lethal aid to non-communist Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) and Armee Nationale Sihanouk (ANS) insurgents, which rarely cooperated with the Khmer Rouge on the battlefield, despite being coalition partners, and which fought with the Khmer Rouge dozens of times prior to 1987.

Joel Brinkley stated that, although U.S. policy was to provide support to "15,000 ineffective 'noncommunist' rebel fighters", "charges made the rounds that some of the American aid, $215 million so far, was finding its way to the Khmer Rouge." A subsequent investigation led by Thomas Fingar of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) "found some leakage—including sharing of ammunition, joint defense of a bridge, and using one truck to transport both 'noncommunist' and Khmer Rouge fighters to a fight." Fingar was dismissive of his own investigators' report, which he characterized as an "epiphenomenon in a flea circus": "Isn't the larger objective here defeating the Vietnamese puppets in Phnom Penh?"'

+ Allegations of United States Support for the Khmer Rouge (2019):

'Starting in March 1969, President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger waged a massive, secret bombing campaign (Operation Menu) on Cambodia in which the U.S. military was instructed “anything that flies on anything that moves.” The American aggression likely caused higher than official estimates of 150,000 Cambodian civilian deaths. When the operation was discovered by a Congressional Committee, it was not even included in the impeachment articles against Nixon, much less used as a basis to refer Nixon and Kissinger for prosecution for war crimes. Radicalized, destitute and shell-shocked by the destruction wrought by the American bombing, Pol Pot and his previously marginal Khmer Rouge were able to rally enough recruits to seize control of the government in 1975. It is generally accepted that the Khmer Rouge’s massacres in the Killing Fields and drastic measures to create a primitive agrarian society amounted to genocide. On the high end, two million deaths is a common number – though that number has likely been highly inflated for anti-Communist propaganda purposes. The American establishment and media were loudly outspoken against Khmer Rouge atrocities, especially considering the near unanimous silence regarding the nearly simultaneous genocide by the Indonesian military taking place in East Timor. But, strangely, after a Vietnamese invasion in 1978 ousted them, the Khmer Rouge lost their status as evil Communists, as the official American foreign policy narrative recast them as victims of Vietnamese aggression. The Carter administration began supporting the Khmer Rouge, who had been relegated to remote rural sections of the country, by financial and diplomatic means. Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski reportedly told an American journalist he “encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot… Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.” According to columnist William Pfaff, financial support started by the Carter administration and continued by the Reagan administration to the Khmer Rouge totaled more than $15 million annually. Despite the fact they had been driven from power, with American support the Khmer Rouge managed to maintain their UN seat – as the Carter administration had refused to recognize the government installed after the Vietnamese invasion. The remnants of the Khmer Rouge fought a guerilla war until Pot’s death in 1998. There is no precise count of the dead and injured that resulted from the fighting so long after the regime was ousted, but it is known that hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes and became refugees. The Carter administration’s decision to fan the flames of violence for frivolous reasons – mainly to punish Vietnam for their defeat of American forces five years earlier – was a scandalous example of vindictiveness.'

+ Jimmy Carter’s Blood Drenched Legacy (2016):

'In November of that year, 1980, direct contact was made between the White House and the Khmer Rouge when Dr Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA, made a secret visit to a Khmer Rouge operational headquarters. Cline was then a foreign policy adviser on President-elect Reagan’s transitional team. By 1981, a number of governments had become decidedly uneasy about the charade of the UN’s continuing recognition of the defunct Pol Pot regime. Something had to be done. The following year, the US and China invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was neither a coalition nor democratic, nor a government, nor in Kampuchea (Cambodia). It was what the CIA calls “a master illusion”. Prince Norodom Sihanouk was appointed its head; otherwise little changed. The two “non-communist” members, the Sihanoukists, led by the Prince’s son, Norodom Ranariddh, and the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, were dominated, diplomatically and militarily, by the Khmer Rouge. One of Pol Pot’s closet cronies, Thaoun Prasith, ran the office at the UN in New York.

In Bangkok, the Americans provided the “coalition” with battle plans, uniforms, money and satellite intelligence; arms came direct from China and from the west, via Singapore. The non-communist fig leaf allowed Congress - spurred on by a cold-war zealot Stephen Solarz, a powerful committee chairman - to approve $24m in aid to the “resistance”. Until 1989, the British role in Cambodia remained secret. The first reports appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, written by Simon O'Dwyer-Russell, a diplomatic and defence correspondent with close professional and family contacts with the SAS. He revealed that the SAS was training the Pol Pot-led force. Soon afterwards, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the British training for the "non-communist" members of the "coalition" had been going on "at secret bases in Thailand for more than four years". The instructors were from the SAS, "all serving military personnel, all veterans of the Falklands conflict, led by a captain".

The Cambodian training became an exclusively British operation after the “Irangate” arms-for-hostages scandal broke in Washington in 1986. “If Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indo-China, let alone with Pol Pot,” a Ministry of Defence source told O’Dwyer-Russell, “the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements.” Moreover, Margaret Thatcher had let slip, to the consternation of the Foreign Office, that “the more reasonable ones in the Khmer Rouge will have to play some part in a future government”. In 1991, I interviewed a member of “R” (reserve) Squadron of the SAS, who had served on the border. “We trained the KR in a lot of technical stuff - a lot about mines,” he said. “We used mines that came originally from Royal Ordnance in Britain, which we got by way of Egypt with marking changed . . . We even gave them psychological training. At first, they wanted to go into the villages and just chop people up. We told them how to go easy . . .”

The Foreign Office response was to lie. "Britain does not give military aid in any form to the Cambodian factions," stated a parliamentary reply. The then prime minister, Thatcher, wrote to Neil Kinnock: "I confirm that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them." On 25 June 1991, after two years of denials, the government finally admitted that the SAS had been secretly training the "resistance" since 1983. A report by Asia Watch filled in the detail: the SAS had taught "the use of improvised explosive devices, booby traps and the manufacture and use of time-delay devices". The author of the report, Rae McGrath (who shared a joint Nobel Peace Prize for the international campaign on landmines), wrote in the Guardian that "the SAS training was a criminally irresponsible and cynical policy".

When a UN “peacekeeping force” finally arrived in Cambodia in 1992, the Faustian pact was never clearer. Declared merely a “warring faction”, the Khmer Rouge was welcomed back to Phnom Penh by UN officials, if not the people. The western politician who claimed credit for the “peace process”, Gareth Evans (then Australia’s foreign minister), set the tone by calling for an “even-handed” approach to the Khmer Rouge and questioning whether calling it genocidal was “a specific stumbling block”. Khieu Samphan, Pol Pot’s prime minister during the years of genocide, took the salute of UN troops with their commander, the Australian general John Sanderson, at his side. Eric Falt, the UN spokesman in Cambodia, told me: “The peace process was aimed at allowing [the Khmer Rouge] to gain respectability.”

The consequence of the UN’s involvement was the unofficial ceding of at least a quarter of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge (according to UN military maps), the continuation of a low-level civil war and the election of a government impossibly divided between “two prime ministers”: Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh. The Hun Sen government has since won a second election outright. Authoritarian and at times brutal, yet by Cambodian standards extraordinarily stable, the government led by a former Khmer Rouge dissident, Hun Sen, who fled to Vietnam in the 1970s, has since done deals with leading figures of the Pol Pot era, notably the breakaway faction of Ieng Sary, while denying others immunity from prosecution. Once the Phnom Penh government and the UN can agree on its form, an international war crimes tribunal seems likely to go ahead. The Americans want the Cambodians to play virtually no part; their understandable concern is that not only the Khmer Rouge will be indicted.

The Cambodian lawyer defending Ta Mok, the Khmer Rouge military leader captured last year, has said: “All the foreigners involved have to be called to court, and there will be no exceptions . . . Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush ... we are going to invite them to tell the world why they supported the Khmer Rouge.”

It is an important principle, of which those in Washington and Whitehall currently sustaining bloodstained tyrannies elsewhere might take note.'

+ "How Thatcher Gave Pol Pot a Handjob" - John Pilger (2000):

'The Bush administration is reported to be reconsidering American policy on Cambodia. This is wonderful news, 15 years too late. (Thirty years too late; but I will return to that later). Since the time of the Carter administration the United States has indirectly supported the return to power in Cambodia of the genocidal Khmer Rouge. Why? You may well ask. There are two reasons. The first is revenge. The United States government has been punishing communist Vietnam`s leaders for having defeated the U.S. in the Vietnam War. Vietnam, you will recall, invaded Cambodia in 1978-79, putting an end to the mass atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge and expelling Pol Pot and his barbarous regime. One might have thought this a public service. Washington treated it a case of Vietnamese ''expansionism,'' to be opposed even at the cost of helping the Khmer Rouge. The Carter and Reagan administrations gave their support to a guerrilla coalition that regrouped in Thailand and included the Khmer Rouge. The United States continues to give members of this coalition more than $15 million annually, although China (also Vietnam`s enemy) provides most of its support. American respect for Cambodia`s independence and its opposition to Vietnamese expansionism was first demonstrated 20 years ago in supporting, if not organizing, the coup that overturned the independent and neutral Cambodian government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and in sponsoring and joining a South Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. Sihanouk had attempted to maintain Cambodia`s neutrality in the Vietnam conflict, accepting U.S. aid until 1963, while tolerating North Vietnamese use of Cambodian routes to transport supplies and munitions to the communists in South Vietnam-a traffic he was incapable of stopping. In 1969 the United States began bombing eastern Cambodia, a campaign whose scale was to attain World War II proportions. That failed to interrupt the Vietnamese arms traffic, and was followed by the coup of March, 1970. A month later United States and South Vietnamese forces invaded. This naturally strengthened the Khmer Rouge, until then a minor factor in Cambodia`s affairs. It enfeebled Cambodia`s social and political structures, and it eventually left behind a Cambodian military government wholly dependent on the U.S. The country fell to the Khmer Rouge five years later. The Bush administration does not, of course, really wish to see the Khmer Rouge returned to power, nor did its predecessors. Washington is supporting China in that ill-conceived geopolitical great game the United States conceives itself playing in this region, ''balancing'' China against the Soviet Union. Vietnam is a Soviet client, as Cambodia is a Vietnamese client. China and Vietnam have an ancient rivalry. Hence to punish Vietnam, and support the guerrilla coalition, is supposedly to strengthen China against the Soviet Union. Whether it actually does so, and what purpose it serves to do so, are questions that must be addressed to Washington. The assumption Washington makes with respect to the Khmer Rouge is that it can use it and discard it, and that the United States will be able to influence, if not decide, who does come to power in Phnom Penh. The United States even contemplates the return to power of Sihanouk. The luckless prince, whose removal obsessed American diplomats and policymakers all during the 1960s, now is a member of the coalition that includes the Khmer Rouge. The story of Cambodia exceeds in paradox, as in tears.'



Deng Xiaoping & George Bush

'After the 1970 Senate election, George Bush accepted a position as a senior adviser to the president, but he convinced Nixon to instead appoint him as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The position represented Bush's first foray into foreign policy, as well as his first major experiences with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the two major U.S. rivals in the Cold War. During Bush's tenure, the Nixon administration pursued a policy of détente, seeking to ease tensions with both the Soviet Union and China. Bush's ambassadorship was marked by a defeat on the China question, as the United Nations General Assembly voted to expel the Republic of China and replace it with the People's Republic of China in October 1971. After Nixon won a landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election, he appointed Bush as chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC). In that position, he was charged with fundraising, candidate recruitment, and making appearances on behalf of the party in the media. After Nixon won a landslide victory in the 1972 presidential election, he appointed Bush as chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC). In that position, he was charged with fundraising, candidate recruitment, and making appearances on behalf of the party in the media.

During Bush's tenure at the RNC, the Watergate scandal emerged into public view; the scandal originated from the June 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee, but also involved later efforts to cover up the break-in by Nixon and other members of the White House. Bush initially defended Nixon steadfastly, but as Nixon's complicity became clear he focused more on defending the Republican Party. Following the resignation of Vice President Agnew in 1973 for a scandal unrelated to Watergate, Bush was considered for the position of vice president, but the appointment instead went to Gerald Ford. After the public release of an audio recording that confirmed that Nixon had plotted to use the CIA to cover up the Watergate break-in, Bush joined other party leaders in urging Nixon to resign. When Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, Bush noted in his diary that "There was an aura of sadness, like somebody died... The [resignation] speech was vintage Nixon—a kick or two at the press—enormous strains. One couldn't help but look at the family and the whole thing and think of his accomplishments and then think of the shame... [President Gerald Ford's swearing-in offered] indeed a new spirit, a new lift."

Upon his ascension to the presidency, Ford strongly considered Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Nelson Rockefeller for the vacant position of vice president. Ford ultimately chose Nelson Rockefeller, partly because of the publication of a news report claiming that Bush's 1970 campaign had benefited from a secret fund set up by Nixon; Bush was later cleared of any suspicion by a special prosecutor. Bush accepted appointment as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, making the him the de facto ambassador to China. According to biographer Jon Meacham, Bush's time in China convinced him that American engagement abroad was needed to ensure global stability, and that the United States "needed to be visible but not pushy, muscular but not domineering." In January 1976, Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), placing him in charge of the CIA. In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, the CIA's reputation had been damaged for its role in various covert operations, and Bush was tasked with restoring the agency's morale and public reputation. During Bush's year in charge of the CIA, the U.S. national security apparatus actively supported Operation Condor operations and right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America. Meanwhile, Ford decided to drop Rockefeller from the ticket for the 1976 presidential election; he considered Bush as his running mate, but ultimately chose Bob Dole. In his capacity as DCI, Bush gave national security briefings to Jimmy Carter both as a presidential candidate and as president-elect.'

+ George Herbert Walker Bush (1924–2018):

'The Sino-Vietnamese War, also known as the Third Indochina War, was a brief border war fought between China and Vietnam in early 1979. China launched a punitive expedition in response to Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978 (which ended the rule of the Khmer Rouge). Chinese forces entered northern Vietnam and captured several cities near the border. On March 6, 1979, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved. Chinese troops then withdrew from Vietnam. Both China and Vietnam claimed victory in the last of the Indochina Wars. As Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989, China remained unsuccessful in its goal of dissuading Vietnam from involvement in Cambodia. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Sino-Vietnamese border was finalized. Although unable to deter Vietnam from Cambodia, China succeeded in demonstrating that its Cold War communist adversary, the Soviet Union, was unable to protect its Vietnamese ally. It also displayed a multilateral and less ideologically rigid approach to foreign affairs from China's new leadership, which discussed the expedition with US President Jimmy Carter and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in advance, sharing sensitive intelligence.

China, now under Deng Xiaoping, was starting the Chinese economic reform and opening trade with the West, in turn, growing increasingly defiant of the Soviet Union. On 3 November 1978, the Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a 25-year mutual defence treaty, which made Vietnam the "linchpin" in the Soviet Union's "drive to contain China." In January 1979 Chinese Vice-premier Deng Xiaoping visited the United States, and told the American president Jimmy Carter that China planned a punitive action against Vietnam. On February 15, the first day that China could have officially announced the termination of the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, Deng Xiaoping declared that China planned to conduct a limited attack on Vietnam. The reason cited for the attack was to support China's ally, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, in addition to Vietnam's persecution of Vietnam's Hoa people - a minority group with Chinese origin that eventually constituted most of the Vietnamese boat people - and finally, the Vietnamese occupation of the Spratly Islands which were claimed by China. To prevent Soviet intervention on Vietnam's behalf, Deng warned Moscow the next day that China was prepared for a full-scale war against the Soviet Union; in preparation for this conflict, China put all of its troops along the Sino-Soviet border on an emergency war alert, set up a new military command in Xinjiang, and even evacuated an estimated 300,000 civilians from the Sino-Soviet border. In addition, the bulk of China's active forces (as many as 1.5 million troops) were stationed along China's border with the Soviet Union. In conjunction, China's leadership privately communicated to the Soviet leadership - with the U.S. as a facilitator - that China only intended a limited expedition, which convinced the Soviet leadership not to mobilize.

On 17 February 1979, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) force of about 200,000 troops supported by 200 Type 59, Type 62, and Type 63 tanks entered northern Vietnam in the PLA's first major combat operation since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The PLA invasion was conducted in two directions: western and eastern

  • Western direction, commanded by Xu Shiyou, aimed to attack Cao Bằng, Lạng Sơn and Quảng Ninh Provinces
  • Eastern direction, commanded by Yang Dezhi, aimed to attack Ha Tuyen, Hoang Lien Son and Lai Châu Provinces

Vietnam quickly mobilized all its main forces in Cambodia, southern Vietnam and central Vietnam to the northern border. From 18 February to 25 February, the 327th Infantry Division of Military District 3 and the 337th Infantry Division of Military District 4 were deployed to join Military District 1 for the defense of northwestern region. From 6 March to 11 March the Second Corp (Huong Giang Corp) stationed in Cambodia was deployed back to Hanoi. The 372nd Air Division in central Vietnam as well as the 917th, 935th and 937th Air Regiments in southern Vietnam were quickly deployed to the north. The Soviet Union, although it did not take direct military action, provided intelligence and equipment support for Vietnam. A large airlift was established by the Soviet Union to move Vietnamese troops from Cambodia to Northern Vietnam. Moscow also provided a total of 400 tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), 500 mortar artillery and air defense artillery pieces, 50 BM-21 rocket launchers, 400 portable surface-to-air missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles and 20 jet fighters. About 5,000 to 8,000 Soviet military advisers were present in Vietnam from August 1979 to mid-1979 to train Vietnamese soldiers.

During the Sino-Vietnamese War, the Soviet Union deployed troops at the Sino-Soviet border and Mongolian-Chinese border as an act of showing support to Vietnam, as well as tying up Chinese troops. However, the Soviets refused to take any direct action to defend their ally. The Soviet Pacific Fleet also deployed 15 ships to the Vietnamese coast to relay Chinese battlefield communications to Vietnamese forces. While the Soviet Union deployed naval vessels and supplied materials to Vietnam, they felt that there was simply no way that they could directly support Vietnam against China; the distances were too great to be an effective ally, and any sort of reinforcements would have to cross territory controlled by China or U.S. allies.[citation needed] The only realistic option would be to restart the unresolved border conflict with China. Vietnam was important to Soviet policy but not enough for the Soviets to go to war over. When Moscow did not intervene, Beijing publicly proclaimed that the Soviet Union had broken its numerous promises to assist Vietnam.'

+ The Sino-Vietnamese War (1979):

'Bush, the 41st U.S. president, served from 1989 to 1993 and failed to secure re-election largely because of a weak domestic economy. He was unusually well acquainted with China, having been posted from 1974 to 1975 as head of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing. Bush and his wife Barbara explored the city on bicycles, and ordinary Chinese who often recognized him called him "Busher." The Bushes much enjoyed their Beijing interlude, which followed the thaw in Sino-U.S. relations in February 1972, when President Richard Nixon made a historic visit to meet with Chairman Mao Zedong. Nixon's purpose was to re-establish relations that had been severed after the communist takeover in 1949. During those decades, the U.S. diplomatic mission to China was on the island of Taiwan, which also occupied China's seat at the UN until late 1971. When Nixon resigned after the Watergate scandal in 1973, the exchange of embassies between Washington and Beijing was shelved. It did not take place until 1979, well into the post-Mao era, when President Jimmy Carter and Deng Xiaoping were in office. Bush only got to meet an infirm Mao twice, and never met Zhou Enlai, who was by then stricken by lung cancer. Both Chinese leaders died in 1976. Bush's work at the USLO was hard to define, but his unrewarded aim was to encourage the Chinese government to relent on its "One China" policy and accept U.S. relations with both Beijing and Taipei. This approach was an extension of Bush's efforts as the Nixon-appointed permanent representative to the UN in the early 1970s, when China's return to the organization was being negotiated. In July 1971, Henry Kissinger, Nixon's national security adviser, traveled secretly from Pakistan to Beijing after feigning illness in Islamabad. The groundbreaking visit was kept so secret that even Bush was unaware. "We were all still working on the Chinese representation question, advocating continued recognition of Taiwan," recalled Anand Panyarachun, Thailand's permanent representative to the UN at the time, and a longtime friend of Bush. Bush and Kissinger never really got along. "He seems to tyrannize his staff," Bush observed in 1975. "He's disorganized." Bush, nevertheless, was called upon for help during a crisis at the end of the Vietnam War in mid-1975. The SS Mayaguez, an unarmed American freighter, was captured by the Khmer Rouge off the Cambodian coast. The incident threatened considerable humiliation for President Gerald Ford and Kissinger, and echoed the January 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo naval vessel by North Korea. Following operation Eagle Pull, in which U.S. Ambassador John Gunther Dean and his staff were extracted by helicopter from Phnom Penh, the U.S. no longer had any direct diplomatic contact with Cambodia. Diplomatic notes were instead delivered by Bush through the USLO in Beijing. Bush passed messages to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Cambodian legation, but to no effect. The Khmer Rouge released the ship and crew, but a botched rescue attempt had cost the lives of more than 40 U.S. soldiers. This was followed by the horrors of the Cambodian genocide, and China was unable to extricate itself from its support for the brutal regime until the early 1990s.'

+ George H.W. Bush's China Connection (2018):

'The United States will support the seating of Pol Pot's "democratic Kampuchea" regime in the United Nations again this year despite its abhorrent record on human rights, Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie announced yesterday. Speaking to a news conference, Muskie said the U.S. decision -- the subject of speculation and controversy at home and abroad -- was made at the behest of Southeast Asian allies and after "careful diplomatic soundings" that Vietnam is unwilling to negotiate the withdrawal of its forces from Kampuchea. A credentials challenge to "Democratic Kampuchea," which currently occupies the U.N. seat, is expected in the early days of the General Assembly session, which begins in New York today. The challenge will be mounted by Vietnam and the "People's Republic of Kampuchea", which is ruling most of Cambodia (Kampuchea) from Phnom Penh under Vietnamese sponsorship.'

+ U.S. to Support Pol Pot Regime For U.N. Seat (1980):


Khmer Rouge

'ANLONG VENG, Cambodia -- The writing here is on the walls, in a cement schoolhouse abandoned when the Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas fled a government attack two weeks ago. Large blackboards list the rules of behavior that were enforced in this village during the years when it was the core of a stark, self-contained Communist society -- along with the penalty for disobedience: death. No stealing. No drunkenness. No prostitution. No marriage outside the commune. No commerce without permission. No contact with outsiders. No listening to any radio station other than that of the Khmer Rouge. "Anyone who disobeys the Angkar will be killed," reads the blackboard. The Angkar -- meaning "the organization" -- was the anonymous leadership that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and caused the deaths of more than one million people. For years the Khmer Rouge leadership held out here -- apart from a short-lived government occupation in 1994 -- even as the bulk of their forces, in other strongholds, gave up the fight. But Cambodian government soldiers and Khmer Rouge defectors now control Anlong Veng, which stands empty and silent in the hot sun, and they, too, have made their mark on the schoolhouse walls. One of them has written, in careful but flawed English: "This is a place of Khmer Red, now the solyers got. They run untill to stay at Thailand. Signature: Solyers of Gavamente." The bang of a tank cannon echoed off the cement walls Monday, and a young soldier jumped. The war is not yet over. The last several hundred guerrillas have retreated to the Dangrek Mountains on the border with Thailand, a hazy blue ridge nine miles away. Seven artillery rounds fired by the Khmer Rouge landed Monday morning near the abandoned home of the guerrillas' leader, Ta Mok. On a visit here Monday, Gen. Meas Sophea, the deputy chief of staff of the Cambodian army, asserted that the guerrillas' mountain stronghold, known as Hill 200, could fall within a few days. But the Khmer Rouge have already retaken Anlong Veng once since it fell two weeks ago, and the progress of the battle is unclear. Several thousand villagers who fled two weeks ago have not been allowed to return. Meas Sophea also asserted that Ta Mok had crossed the border into Thailand, presumably taking with him the founder of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, who is now ailing and demoted from his leadership post. "Ta Mok is in Thai territory," the general said. "As far as we know, Pol Pot is with him. Ta Mok is in Ban Sa-Ngam, three kilometers inside Thai territory." He said he based this statement on "information from people who have come from that area." Thailand has vigorously denied that the Khmer Rouge have taken sanctuary on its territory, although for years the guerrillas have moved easily back and forth across the border at Ban Sa-Ngam. That village, at a heavily patrolled crossing point, is within a 10-mile Thai border zone that cannot be entered by outsiders without permission. Foreign reporters outside the zone said Monday that there was no indication whether any Khmer Rouge soldiers or leaders had crossed the border. The United States is eager to capture Pol Pot, 73, who has led the Khmer Rouge for more than 30 years, and to bring him to trial before an international tribunal for crimes against humanity. Maintaining Thailand's cooperation is a delicate diplomatic challenge for the Americans. There is evidence of the Khmer Rouge's close relationship with Thailand in Ta Mok's empty house here: two calendars issued by Thai Bank hang on his walls. But apart from the calendars, Ta Mok's house in Anlong Veng has been stripped of almost all its furnishings. A large conference table stands on a veranda in front of a brightly painted mural of the centuries-old Angkor Wat complex. The gray metal tail section of a Russian-made bomb serves as a flower pot for a well-watered ficus plant. Government soldiers have chalked a skull and crossbones on the door to his bedroom -- a small, stuffy room with a tile floor, unfinished wood walls and one small window with a broken screen. Like the condition of the house, the surrounding village is barren, bare, hot and not beautiful. Widely spaced thatched huts stand empty, surrounded by parched, broken earth. There are few trees. Nobody seems to have planted gardens here. Ta Mok, though, built himself a two-story cement house with a tile roof, a large underground bunker and a tall radio tower. His basement is filled with hundreds of empty Thai beer cans. But there are few signs that he was a man drawn to elegant surroundings. His veranda, if he ever used it for quiet contemplation, looks out over a swamp filled with dead, leafless trees. A little spark of life lies in the debris of an open-sided garage beside the house: A copybook in which someone, perhaps a grandchild, has written out sentences from English language lessons. The sentences hint at the special privileges, outside the stark life of the commune, that have been available to members of the leader's inner circle. "How do you like Bangkok?" the copybook reads. "Yes, very much." "How long were you there?" "I stay about two months." And on a final page, the copybook's owner -- now, perhaps, somewhere in the Dangrek Mountains -- has made a private list of favorite songs that could have been written by a teen-ager anywhere. It includes: "Tina Turner: 'What's Love Got to Do With It.'" "Cyndi Lauper: 'Time After Time.'" "Diana Ross: 'When You Tell Me That You Love Me."'

+ Phantoms Rule in Former Khmer Stronghold (1998):


Kingdom of Cambodia

'The Cambodian Government has accused Thailand of helping Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, flee into Thailand last month in the face of advancing Cambodian Army troops. Foreign diplomats stationed in Cambodia said today that they had no reason to doubt the accusations against Thailand made by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Cambodia's First Prime Minister, and said it would be one more dramatic example of the close ties between Thailand, particularly its armed forces, and the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist-inspired guerrilla group responsible for the deaths of at least several hundred thousand and perhaps more than 1 million Cambodians in the 1970's. Prince Ranariddh said Tuesday that he had photographs of Pol Pot taken late last month after the guerrilla leader had escaped into Thailand as Cambodian Government troops overran the rebel headquarters compound in the western Cambodian city of Pailin. "We have pictures to prove" that Thailand helped Pol Pot flee Pailin, he said. "I can show you a picture of Pol Pot, his house being attacked, and Pol Pot escaping with cars and a convoy of trucks driving on a tarmac road inside Thai territory." Cambodian officials said later that Thai soldiers and the civilian police assisted the Khmer Rouge leader in his flight into Thailand, although the Prince referred only generally to Thailand in his remarks. While the civilian government of Thailand insists that it has tried to cut off links with the Khmer Rouge, the military often operates independently. In recent months, Thailand has repeatedly denied accusations from neighboring Cambodia that the Bangkok Government continues to support the Khmer Rouge. Its denials have been undercut by a series of embarrassing incidents that have demonstrated close links, many of them based on a lucrative cross-border trade in gems and lumber, between the Cambodian guerrillas and the Thai Army and Thai businessmen.'

+ Cambodia Says Thais Helped Pol Pot Escape (1994):





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