Abrams Tapes 1968-1972
Excerpts on ARVN

While General Creighton Abrams was at the head of US Army in Vietnam he continued General Westmoreland’s Weekly Intelligence Estimate Update (WIEU) meetings. Following are some selected excerpts of General Abrams’ and his top aides’ opinions on ARVN, its units and its high ranking (colonel and general) officers.

ARVN

* 29 Jun 68

- ABRAMS: That’s an interesting part of the curve out here in June where the enemy’s activity goes down, but his KIA go up. That has to mean that ARVN is aggressive. It has to mean that.

- ABRAMS: This is one of the things you can see in this SEER [System for Evaluating the Effectiveness of RVNAF] report. It’s true of every ARVN division. The favorable kill ratio goes up when they go on offensive operations. And, with the exception of the 18th ARVN, it goes way down on security and defensive-type things.

* 4 Jul 68

- WEYAND: Then you talk about what we ought to be doing now that we’re not-the thing I can do that’ll get the greatest benefit accruing for me is increased ARVN effectiveness. And there isn’t, hardly any price I wouldn’t pay in terms of trade-offs, whether it’s putting U.S. units in direct support of them, or giving them my firepower, B-52 strikes, that I wouldn’t be willing to do. Because if I can get a 10 or 20 percent increase in effectiveness out of these three lousy divisions that I’ve got, plus RF/PF, I really wouldn’t have much to worry about. That’s where I think we’ve got the opportunity for the greatest gain.

- PEERS: I’m very concerned about this…ARVN, during the month of June, killed 143 people. Have about 60,000 ARVN in II Corps. I’ve got units working with them and so on, and they always come back with, ‘Well, they want to train some more.’ Hell, they’ve been training for five and six years. I think they’re overtrained.

* 6 Jul 68

- ABRAMS: Another thing about this is, and you mustn’t lose sight of, and that is that the U.S. troops are better equipped and better trained to go out and do these things than the ARVN are. You’ve got a materiel difference before you start the problem. Part of that has been corrected, but there’s till more to be done. They don’t have the artillery support.

* 20 July 68

- ABRAMS: My impression is that never have the ARVN been out as much as they are now.

* 14 Sep 68

- ABRAMS: (re why U.S. forces’ kill ratio exceeds that of ARVN) It really ought to be. The ARVN doesn’t have the firepower, it doesn’t have the mobility, it doesn’t have the communications. [Someone: They don’t get the allocation of air support.] That’s right.

- ABRAMS: You’ve got to face it—the Vietnamese have been given the lowest priority of anybody that’s fighting in this country! And that’s what we’re trying to correct.

* 2 Oct 68

- ABRAMS: Because the ARVN does not get wealth of air support, nor the wealth of artillery support, nor the wealth of gunship support that the U.S. units do, I would say that the proportion in here may be more favorable to the ARVN.

* 1 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: The South Vietnamese aren’t the pushovers that they once were. And you [the enemy] go out there and you start muckering around with them and a lot of people get hurt. Or you try to keep away from them and they come out and pop you off. If these VC types ever get the idea that The Vietnamese are tough, it’s going to make a big difference.

* 11 Feb 70

- SOMEONE: Do you think the Vietnamese can hack it as far as what leadership they have?

- ABRAMS: Yes sir, I think they can. They have expanded their forces greatly, and also continued to take casualties. In the first few days of the Ben Het thing, they lost 14 company commanders out of the 32nd Regiment. Fourteen company commanders. I tell you any U.S. regiment is going to have a problem with that. They’ve expanded, and they’ve had to spread what they have. But they’ve kept officer and NCO training centers open at full capacity. So what they’ve done, while you can fault the quality and all of that, nevertheless it’s quite a remarkable job. By god, they’ve been out there fighting, and they’re doing a good job. And they’re sticking with it. And finally I’d like to say as long as I’ve been in the army we’ve always cursed the small-unit leadership we’ve had. It’s never been adequate, never been good enough, and never will be. So the first thing you say about any army is that one of its defects is small-unit leadership. Any American will report that without even looking around, because he knows it’s an inescapable fact.

* 23 May 70

- BUNKER: General Abrams, about the performance of the Vietnamese forces. This, I think, is extremely useful there, too, in replying to the critics who have said that Vietnamese wouldn’t fight and couldn’t develop a good force. As Kissinger said in a press backgrounder, ‘You fellow were saying six months ago, a year ago, the Vietnamese wouldn’t fight. Now you’re saying they’re too aggressive.’

ARVN Units

Airborne

* 11 Feb 70

- ABRAMS: The Airborne Division now for about five weeks has been fighting in the jungle at a kill ratio of about 1:20. This is awfully good, and not all American units can do that.

Air Force

* 1 Apr 70

- ABRAMS: General Brown tells me that their accuracy and so on is comparable to the Seventh Air Force. He says there is no practical difference between what his pilots are able to do and what they do. Accuracy, responsiveness, operationally ready rate.

- ABRAMS: They had a little trouble with maintenance on helicopters. Well, what they did, they overflew the flying hour program by a hundred percent for about three months, and they now have learned that you can’t do that. You can do that, but you pay a price.

* 28 Aug 71

- ABRAMS: One of the interesting things in that, Mr. Ambassador—you remember after the accident in which General Tri was killed there were a lot of unfavorable remarks made by the press. Well, they got Americans that told them that, that ‘these little fellows were not much good at maintenance’ and all that. Well, their operationally ready rate—that is, aircraft ready to fly—is really quite high. It’s around 80 percent. So the American advisors, and the United States Air Force, got with General Minh and they agreed to an inspection team of experts that would go in and make a surprise inspection of an aircraft that they carried as operationally ready. And the ones that they’ve checked, they haven’t fount anything to change the status of OR

Armor

* 5 May 72

- ABRAMS: There was some of that in the first part of this up around Dong Ha. Apparently the 20th, which is the M-48 A3 battalion, did very well. Just became operational.

- ABRAMS: I went up there and visited them, and there’s no question but what those fellows could shoot. I saw them shoot. They’re very good, Also the crews were really pretty expert in handling the tanks. They drive those things around very well. All that part I know that was in good shape. They were weak on maintenance—crew maintenance. We had a hell of a good American team in there that worked with those people.

Hac Bao Company

* 25 Mar 71

- ABRAMS: If there’s a professional outfit in this country, it’s the Hac Bao Company [reconnaissance company of the 1st ARVN Division]. They’re first-class soldiers. Every man in it’s been picked by the division commander himself, and that’ been going on for about five years. They come out of Laos saying the stench of dead bodies is so bad the soldiers can‘t stand it—they get sick. And we believe the Hac Bao Company—they’re proven it so many times. Recently we had a helicopter shot down with seven Americans on board. We put the Hac Bao Company in to rescue them. It took them two days, during which they killed 67 enemy and got those seven Americans out. It’s a little military unit that’s firs class.

Intelligence

* 8 Dec 71

- ABRAMS: The Republic of Vietnam has developed a professional military intelligence organization capable of satisfying virtually all in-country collection, vital to the defense of South Vietnam, is just in the early stages of development.

Logistics

* 11 Jul 70

- SOMEONE: They showed remarkable action when they got ready to move into Cambodia. They moved their forward supply points up…forward, without anybody staying behind. They got out there, they had the stuff moving… and they really performed well.

- WESTMORELAND: Is ARVN capable of supporting operations itself in the Khe Sanh Plateau, the A Shau, Dak To, Dak Pek?

- ANSWER: In every aspect except airlift. That’s the 130s [C-130 aircraft]. We take care of about 75 percent of the airlift in this country

Marine Corps

* 5 May 72

- ABRAMS: Well, the 1st Division and the Marine Division—the marines in this whole thing have performed well above any performance by that division, or those brigades, in the time I’ve been here, and yesterday was my fifth anniversary. So the Marine Division and the 1st Division are in good shape. They’re stout, morale’s good, and the leadership’s good.

1st and 2nd Divisions

* 4 Jul 68

- ROSSON: In the III MAF area we are blessed with two fine ARVN division, one particularly so. The 1st ARVN is aggressive, effective, all the time. The 2nd ARVN Division is less effective, but it too is on the go most of the time.

* 17 Aug 68

- ABRAMS: That 54th Regiment—you know, it’s a new regiment for the 1st ARVN. All three of its battalions have been operational since the second of August. And in that time they have—the regiment of three battalions—have killed 96, taken 40 prisoners, 45 weapons, and they’ve had 6 killed and 41 wounded. So it seems to be quite a commendable start for a green regiment.

* 20 Sep 68

- STILLWELL: (re Truong) His division likes nothing better than to root VC out of secret holes.

* 9 Nov 68

- ABRAMS: The 1st ARVN Division has already demonstrated that it knows how to go about this. In fact, I would say it’s the most effective program that’s going on in the country in terms of pacification, VCI, or whatever.

* 9 Sep 69

- ABRAMS: Incidentally, talking with General Vien the other day, I was advancing the view that possibly the 2nd ARVN Division had shown some advance in effectiveness this year over last. And he said, ‘Well’, he said, ‘General Toan, he doesn’t supervise things the way General Truong does.’ He said, ‘General Truong puts out his instructions, then he goes everywhere and sees what is carried out—everywhere.’ He said, ‘General Toan doesn’t do that.’ Well, I went on to another subject. This is a very keen and, I think, a very correct observation. He admits—he agrees—that there has been improvement in the performance of the 2nd ARVN, but he’s issuing a warning that one should not get it in the same league with the 1st ARVN.

* 4 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: I would say that the 1st Division is just as good as most U.S. divisions. It’s not as good as the best, but it’s a very good division. Next in line would come the 2nd. And after that they kind of string out. I suppose that the third is the 21st Division, down here in the delta. It’s given a fine performance.

* 13 Dec 69

- ABRAMS: I was up there the other day in the 1st ARVN Division, and that division just looks better every time you go there. That Camp Carroll out there is probably the finest constructed fire base in all of South Vietnam. Another thing that’s happened in the 1st Division that’s quite noticeable—any one of their fire bases you go to, there’s no garbage, there’s no crap, it’s neat. The preparations they’ve got for sappers out there at Camp Carroll, that goddamn tangle-foot, they must have a hundred, maybe over a hundred, meters. And it’s in good, Christ, it’s been surveyed in. And then inside the base, you know, it’s all compartmented, with interwoven wire, and the bunkers are real stout. It’s all business, it’s all business.

* 1 Dec 70

- ABRAMS: Yesterday I spent the afternoon with the 2nd Division, the Quang Ngai province chief, and a district, and 4th Regiment. I must say, in relating this back, I’ve never seen the Vietnamese more confident.

- ABRAMS: 2nd ARVN Division is operating with companies and platoons. Now, a year ago, they wouldn’t go anywhere with less than a battalion. Now part of it is because the enemy is not so effective. He hasn’t got the strength, and he can’t mass against them like he could. But it also means that the company commanders have come along, and the battalion commander can see his way clear for that company to be out there alone. Well, there isn’t any shortcut to it. At least four years that we know have been invested in getting to that point. And really a lot longer.

* 20 May 71

- ABRAMS: I know that some Vietnamese worry because of U.S. withdrawal. But take what the 2nd Division’s doing up there. He’s trying to pull off an all-Vietnamese operation. It’s their air force, it’s their helicopters, it’s their troops, and so on. Of course, he’s stimulated a little bit because of all the publicity and everything the 1st ARVN got. But the 1st ARVN did it with U.S. support. He’s hoping that he’s going to be able to show that the 2nd ARVN did it with all Vietnamese. And of course that’s what they’ve got to have, that feeling of national pride or Vietnamese pride, and that it is better, we can do these things better than the Americans can. - I think there are Americans up there in I Corps that will tell you that their [the South Vietnamese] battalions, in some cases, are more effective than our own.

* 5 May 72

- ABRAMS: Well, the 1st Division and the Marine Division—the marines in this whole thing have performed well above any performance by that division, or those brigades, in the time I’ve been here, and yesterday was my fifth anniversary. So the Marine Division and the 1st Division are in good shape. They’re stout, morale’s good, and the leadership’s good.

5th Division

* 16 may 70

- POTTS: The professionalism of those three divisions [5th, 18th, 25th] and five armored cav squadrons has increased a hundred percent.

- ABRAMS: The 25th Division is an interesting thing. Two years ago—although the competition was very stiff—the 25th won that hands down, month after month after month, and it was unanimous for worst unit in the ARVN. Now it’s showing up as a very solid division. I must say it’s hard for me to see the signs of that developing in the 5th.

* 11 Jul 70

- ROSSON: The 5th and 18th ARVN divisions are “mediocre,” “second rate.” The 25th is excellent—one of the most improved units in the country.

18th Division

* 7 Sept 68

- ABRAMS: Here in III Corps…I can’t say anything for the 18th ARVN Division—same miserable performance it’s put on all year. But the others have been a little better.

* 11 Jul 70

- ROSSON: The 5th and 18th ARVN divisions are “mediocre,” “second rate.” The 25th is excellent—one of the most improved units in the country.

21st Division

* 5 Oct 68

- ABRAMS: (Regarding relative losses imposed on the enemy) We’ve got several cases where ratings by the advisors are way out of whack with the performance. For instance, for the whole first half of the year the 21st ARVN has been rated very poorly by the advisors, but its performance—in terms of killed and that sort of thing—its performance has been one of the good divisions.

* 4 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: I would say that the 1st Division is just as good as most U.S. divisions. It’s not as good as the best, but it’s a very good division. Next in line would come the 2nd. And after that they kind of string out. I suppose that the third is the 21st Division, down here in the delta. It’s given a fine performance.

22nd Division

* 27 Jul 68

- ABRAMS: The 22nd ARVN’s doing about 10 percent of what it ought to be. And I’am mad at the division advisors up there because they haven’t brought that up. They’ve been down there sleeping at the switch, and letting the goddamn thing go, and being content with quarter measures.

* 26 Jul 69

- ABRAMS: It’s [the 22nd ARVN Division] like the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They’ve [the 173rd’ got rigging equipment, and they’ve got TO&E for air dropping wherever in the world the United States wants to put them, and they’re all airborne trained and they’re all ‘All the way, sir!’ and all that kind of stuff. We don’t need it! We don’t need it! Instead what they’ve got to do is get out there and cream the VCI, get out there in little units muckering around at night, helping the goddamn villagers, seeing that the goddamn rice stays in the warehouse and so on, and—Christ, there isn’t room for a parachute! The only thing you can do is use it for a picnic with the villagers or something.

- ABRAMS: And, unfortunately, the 22nd ARVN Division can’t see that. It isn’t being a great division, going out battling with regiments and battalions and so on! Goddamn it, the name of the game that’s got to be done is this other thing! And that’s what needs to be done in Binh Dinh! And that’s what the 22nd Division can’t see! And that’s what the division commander is psychologically indisposed to do! And what everybody’s got to do, instead of talking about going off to war and battling with the—Christ, they’ve been down there licking their chops waiting for the 3rd NVA to come back! Well, of course if the 3rd NVA came back they’d clean their clock. But that’s the day they’re waiting for—when the 3rd NVA comes back! Well, bullshit! The thing—you can’t do what you’re organized for, you can’t do what you’re trained for. You’ve got to go out to do what has to be done right now in this country! Everybody’s got to do it!

23rd Division

* 6 Dec 69

- ABRAMS: I went up the other day, and I wound up at the 23rd ARVN, and was briefed by Colonel Canh, I guess it is. And when it was all over I told him that that was the most professional briefing by an ARVN division commander that I’d received since I’d been in Vietnam. His briefing not only covered all of the intelligence and operations and his organization for combat and so on. He went into considerable detail in the logistics—requirements, flow, amounts, and then into the personnel thing. And he’s got a task force on replacements in the system, he’s got a division replacement thing, and rotating battalions out and bringing replacements in, a short training program. And what they’ve done up there, I think has been really something. So one thing we’ve gotten out of Duc Lap and Bu Prang, we’ve now got a division. We know we’ve got a division that’ll function as a division.

- ABRAMS: Colonel Canh removed the 4th Regiment, according to what the advisor told me up there. He went to Bu Prang himself and he told the—in the presence of about 50 people—he told the regimental commander of the 47th that he was a dirty yellow bastard, and forthwith removed him and his regiment from Bu Prang.

- JACOBSON: Is the’ dirty yellow bastard’ still in charge of the 47th?

- ABRAMS: Yes, he is. Of course, that 47th, you know, belongs to the 22nd, so what Colonel Canh has done, he’s turned that whole problem over to the corps commander and the division commander of the 22nd, and has canceled any invitation to return to the 23rd. So it’s their problem.

- ABRAMS: The other interesting turn of events there…the 53rd’s never been in Bu Prang. They’ve been out, in company size, which is quite hairy. But that’s what they’ve been doing, and they’ve been quite successful at it. Re: Canh: He’s really a pretty sound tactical thinker.

25th Division

* 16 may 70

- ABRAMS: The 25th looks real good in there.

- POTTS: The professionalism of those three divisions [5th, 18th, 25th] and five armored cav squadrons has increased a hundred percent.

- ABRAMS: The 25th Division is an interesting thing. Two years ago—although the competition was very stiff—the 25th won that hands down, month after month after month, and it was unanimous for worst unit in the ARVN. Now it’s showing up as a very solid division. I must say it’s hard for me to see the signs of that developing in the 5th.

* 11 Jul 70

- ROSSON: The 5th and 18th ARVN divisions are “mediocre,” “second rate.” The 25th is excellent—one of the most improved units in the country.

I Corps

* 26 Oct 68

- ABRAMS: The way those operations have been successful in northern I Corps—you’ve got a combined Police Field Force, ARVN, RF/PF. There’s a very high content of Vietnamese. And that’s the people that really can root these fellows infrastructure out.

I, II, III, IV Corps

* 20 Nov 71

- ABRAMS: I continue to think though, that if the GVN continues to maintain the command structure that they’ve got in MR-1—that’s a very capable command structure. It’s got a lot of real skills—talking about planning, and the integration of intelligence, and operations. Some of the executions out there, carried out by the Vietnamese, are as good as anybody does it. So you’ve got that. It may get pretty heavy going up there. And also there seems to be a mutual confidence and respect among those seniors.

- ABRAMS: You clearly don’t have that situation in MR-2, nor do you have it in MR-3, I do think you’ve got it in MR-4. The problem, really, is much different, but I think you’ve got the same kind of thing down there… Some used to splutter about General [name unclear] and the 21st Division and his relationship with General Truong. That doesn’t [now] seem to be a matter of professional significance. The two men, of course, are fighters. Their personal habits are really quite different. But that all seems to be worked out.

- SOMEONE: We have as high a quality of Vietnamese leadership as we have ever had.

IV Corps

* 4 Jul 68

- ABRAMS: One thing that shows up here very clearly is the deficit in artillery in IV Corps. Also, in other analysis of the performance of ARVN division, you’ll find that the kill ratio is less favorable in IV Corps than it is in some of the others, and I think that fire support is part of the answer to that.

ARVN Generals

Generalities

* 4 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: All general officer assignments are made by the president. There is nobody else can change that.

- BRIEFER: General Abrams, I think it’s interesting that there are only 54 generals for a million-man force. They really don’t have a lot of flexibility in their general officer corps.

- ABRAMS: And even that is under strength. They’ve set up their own authorization for general. They’re way below that. The 23rd Division has been commanded now for about a year by a colonel.

- BRIEFER: So has the 9th.

- ABRAMS: They haven’t got a good legal system for retiring them or getting rid of them once they’ve decided that they’re not any good. They still are on the rolls, and they still have to find some job for them to do. You can say, ‘Well, shoot them or something.’ Well, they still try to--. They’d like to have a—some legality. I mean, that’s what they’d prefer to do. So it’s quite a step for them to make one of these guys a general, because they’re really committed.

Canh, Vo Van

* 6 Dec 69

- ABRAMS: I went up the other day, and I wound up at the 23rd ARVN, and was briefed by Colonel Canh, I guess it is. And when it was all over I told him that that was the most professional briefing by an ARVN division commander that I’d received since I’d been in Vietnam. His briefing not only covered all of the intelligence and operations and his organization for combat and so on. He went into considerable detail in the logistics—requirements, flow, amounts, and then into the personnel thing. And he’s got a task force on replacements in the system, he’s got a division replacement thing, and rotating battalions out and bringing replacements in, a short training program. And what they’ve done up there, I think has been really something. So one thing we’ve gotten out of Duc Lap and Bu Prang, we’ve now got a division. We know we’ve got a division that’ll function as a division.

- ABRAMS: Colonel Canh removed the 4th Regiment, according to what the advisor told me up there. He went to Bu Prang himself and he told the—in the presence of about 50 people—he told the regimental commander of the 47th that he was a dirty yellow bastard, and forthwith removed him and his regiment from Bu Prang.

- JACOBSON: Is the’ dirty yellow bastard’ still in charge of the 47th?

- ABRAMS: Yes, he is. Of course, that 47th, you know, belongs to the 22nd, so what Colonel Canh has done, he’s turned that whole problem over to the corps commander and the division commander of the 22nd, and has canceled any invitation to return to the 23rd. So it’s their problem.

- ABRAMS: The other interesting turn of events there…the 53rd’s never been in Bu Prang. They’ve been out, in company size, which is quite hairy. But that’s what they’ve been doing, and they’ve been quite successful at it. Re: Canh: He’s really a pretty sound tactical thinker.

* 24 Jan 70

- ABRAMS: Now one of the surprising ones to me is Colonel Canh, who really, as a division commander, I thought had done rather a magnificent job under very trying circumstances.

Don, Tran Van

* 1 Nov 69

- JACOBSON: That was an interesting party Tran Van Don gave the other day, he and Big Minh and some 300 guests. Made some helpful remarks.

- ABRAMS: Yeah, he’s another one. And Big Minh—I don’t know whether he’s really smart or—

- JACOBSON: You can be sure—he’s a lot of things, but he’s not smart.

Dzu, Ngo

* 27 Sep 70

- COLLINS: We’ve got something going for us in General Dzu. He’s been up there a month now, and I don’t think you could ask more of a man. I can say with some confidence what he’s up to. He hasn’t got the capability to do some of the things that he did in ’68, or ’67, and even in the beginning of ’69. He hasn’t got it, and so he’s redesigned his effort and so on. And I think we’ve got to pay attention to that. And the Vietnamese. So what state are we at? I think we’re somewhere around’64. It may be—I don’t know—it may be you go back a little further, I won’t argue about that. It’s somewhere back in there where he—probably a little earlier—where his effort now is on his guerrillas, his cadre, and his local force. Now, he’s got to have that. It’s the administrative machinery, it’s the intelligence machinery, it’s the political machinery. And he’s got to have that or he can’t run his show. It’s more important than any of these divisions, any of these regiments. He has to have it. And some of it has gotten into a little trouble. It’s not as effective and so on. And so the thrust of all this—if he’s going to bring the 9th Division back here, he’s got to have them. He can’t do it without them.

* 18 Oct 70

- WEYAND: I know General Abrams is tremendously heartened by the appointment of Truong and Dzu to those two positions [as corps commanders], and the way he looks at it is that for the first time since he’s been here, there are four corps commanders who are all professionally fully qualified, clean—certainly by their standards if not by ours—natural leaders, and fully aware…of the problems before them and of the relative priorities of things. Lam is a known quantity, of course. Dzu is known from the days when—I knew him when he was in JGS as an extremely competent young officer. He’s a very ambitious young officer, and I give him a lot of credit. It’s not just an ambition that’s reflected in brownnosing and that sort of thing. He got in and really produced results down there with John Vann and General McCown. They thought he had pushed IV Corps ahead in the time that he was there further than any other time, at a faster rate, than they’d been there. And for a man to come in that’s new and do that, I think gave some measure of his ability. So far, up in the 2nd Military Region, it’s sort of been like Cassius Clay at his best. Every move he’s made has been applauded by everybody, and you begin to wonder. Something must be wrong. The day after he got there he moved his deputy for pacification to Nha Trang, where he’d be co-located with his U.S. counterpart. He went to see the ROK commander, who’s been a great problem to us simply because of their complete immobility. And they really are not providing the kind of security to the populated areas, under the new thrust of the enemy, that they should. Well, Dzu did a much better job than we’ve done of convincing the ROK commanders that the enemy had changed, so we had to change with him, and got some very specific commitments out of them for redeployment and so forth. He has two weak regimental commanders in the 23rd Division. Dzu gave the division commander (who supported the two regimental commanders) 60 days for them to show positive results or they’d be relieved. He is from Binh Dinh. Now each commander is from his own military region.

* 21 Nov 70

- COLLINS: I’m certain a number of those from the 4th Military Region, and also those on the staff, who know General Dzu will be interested in how he’s doing. Sir, you couldn’t ask for more from anyone. I think this operation into Base Areas 701 and 704 are indicative of the scope of the man. Tactically, I think it was superb the way he developed it. He thought of things like the light of the moon, and he related this to a period when the enemy wouldn’t be so active, and when his RF/PF could do better along the line of communications that he would have to keep open along Highway 19. The movement of the elements—this was good and very encouraging in the professional way the division went about it. But as an indication of the man, on Sunday afternoon he came in from a reconnaissance over Cambodia, over the area. He’d been out to Duc Co to check on the supplies in the forward area, Plei Djereng. You know, all the things that a good commander could do. Again, he’s just very dynamic. He has a good mind. He thinks ahead. He just follows up on everything and is a superb commander. And god, if he can just get a few commanders up there that have one-tenth the energy and the force and the drive that he has, it will be great. All I worry now is that something might happen to him, because he’s tremendous as far as I’m concerned. Really doing a good job.

* 21 Mar 72

- ABRAMS: I thought Dzu was pretty impressive up there that day. We went directly to his house. He had the maps over there, and he did all the briefing himself. The intelligence—I saw no mismatch at all with what we have here, and he was down to the detail. And no notes. Then his own forces, covered that, and where every damn on of them were…And yesterday I told General Vien about my visit up there, and that I’d been quite favorably impressed. He said, ‘When the commander does it himself, you know he’s been in it.’

Giai, Vu Van

* 13 Dec 69

- ABRAMS: They don’t allow any staff officers to talk. That’s right. You go up there to their attack CP, and the briefing’s given by Colonel Giai. He doesn’t—I don’t mean by this that they—they don’t underrate the enemy. They give him his due. It’s really impressive. As I say, I think that Camp Carroll’s the strongest fire base we’ve got in South Vietnam—of anybody, U.S. or anything else. It’s safer than the Pentagon.

* 24 Feb 72

- ABRAMS: I wonder if the people in the south haven’t got quite a bit of a problem with that. There are so many northerners in the south. For instance, General Giai, who commands the 3rd Division, comes from a village up there just a few kilometers south of Hanoi. You know, you’ve got that sort of presence here. And then—I think, for the southerners, for the southerners especially, they’ve had to try to be polite, if you will, so that the loyalty and sort of devotion to the cause would carry on with these fellows who came from the north. I’m just gabbing now, but in all these things there always seems to be something like that. You know, the Vietnamese have got sort of an internal cultural problem which they have worked around to try to do their best with.

Hieu, Nguyen Van

* 26 Jul 69

- ABRAMS: And, unfortunately, the 22nd ARVN Division can’t see that. It isn’t being a great division, going out battling with regiments and battalions and so on! Goddamn it, the name of the game that’s got to be done is this other thing! And that’s what needs to be done in Binh Dinh! And that’s what the 22nd Division can’t see! And that’s what the division commander is psychologically indisposed to do! And what everybody’s got to do, instead of talking about going off to war and battling with the—Christ, they’ve been down there licking their chops waiting for the 3rd NVA to come back! Well, of course if the 3rd NVA came back they’d clean their clock. But that’s the day they’re waiting for—when the 3rd NVA comes back! Well, bullshit! The thing—you can’t do what you’re organized for, you can’t do what you’re trained for. You’ve got to go out to do what has to be done right now in this country! Everybody’s got to do it!

* 4 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: Leadership—where that’s good, they’re good. Where it’s mediocre, they’re mediocre. Here it’s piss poor, they’re piss poor. It’s just that simple. We’ve had some very dramatic examples here of where one man has changed—one man, just the commander, and in a month and a half time you’ve got an entirely new outfit. Used to be flat on its ass, wouldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t fight. Only changed one man—transformed the whole thing.

* 15 Nov 69

- ABRAMS: The other day I was out, and I got a good briefing by General Hieu, 5th ARVN. That’s the first time I’ve been to the 5th since he’s been the division commander. And I must say it was—this doesn’t have too much to do with how the division performs, but the quality of the briefing was very high, including a very frank and, I would guess, honest discussion of personnel strengths, desertions, desertions by regiment, and all this kind of stuff, including the fact that desertions are up, which—that’s not a good sing, of course, but I must say it’s a change of pace out there in the 5th Division to be leveling on things like that.

* 23 Mar 71

- WEYAND: Minh says that he’s submitted a name, and General Davison’s submitted a name, and General Vien submitted a name for a new commander of the 5th Division… He says the president wants a colonel. The reason he wants a colonel is he’s decided that division commanders should be people who are aggressive and are fighting to get ahead, and therefore he doesn’t want to put generals in command of general officer positions. He wants a guy that’s on the make. And that’s what they’re coming up with.

Khiem, Tran Thien

*15 Mar 69

- COLBY: I’m going around with Minister Khiem on another interesting series of visits. He just was named as deputy prime minister for pacification, you know…going around to each of the corps. He is a very impatient gentleman, indeed, with the canned briefing—stops it off at about five minutes and throws most of the people out of the room, then sits down with about half a dozen people and just sort of discusses what the problems are. Did III and IV Corps yesterday, and will do I and II Corps on Tuesday. He’s looking for a way to really activate the corps commanders in this area.

- ABRAMS: (re Khiem) He’s a no-nonsense fellow.

* 4 Oct 69

- ABRAMS: Minister Khiem—he is far more, at least in my opinion, he is far more civilian than he is a general. It isn’t one of those staid old military guys talking. He’s giving them a philosophy, the philosophy of the democratic process, the philosophy of the village. Politics is no stranger to General Khiem.

* 24 Oct 69

- ABRAMS: Prime Minister Khiem has been dragging these ministers out, and he’s getting a reputation as the most traveled prime minister they’ve ever had. That’ good, too. And he can say it, too. He knows what to say. He’s very articulate. When these province chiefs balk at the idea of giving authority down there in the village and so on, he tells them about who’s important—and those people are all in the village. They’re not in the provincial capital.

Khuyen, Dong Van

* 10 Jan72

- ABRAMS: This fellow is one of the most capable officers they’ve got in their armed forces.

La, Nguyen Van

* 6 Jun 70

- JACOBSON: Kind of interesting, because the last time we went to see the prime minister there was conversation about moving Tri. The question was what in hell to do with, so senior and all. But they didn’t talk like he was the Patton of anything. We suggested he might become the Patton of the RF and PF. There’re no lengths to which we wouldn’t go to get rid of that goddamn La, of course.

Lam, Hoang Xuan

* 15 Nov 68

- ABRAMS: I don’t think that the JGS is going to influence it [operations by ARVN – in I CTZ, apparently] at all. Lam deals directly with the president on a great many things. Tri has dinner with the president once or twice a week. He gets operational approval, that sort of thing, and Vien’s not in on that. In my opinion, Vien’s trying to do the best job he can administratively and seeing that the ducks are lined up on things that have got to be done. But direction of the campaign, that sort of thing, is just not coming from him. And his hands are tied on it.

* 22 Jan 69

- ABRAMS: (re Chesarek’s question about a rumor that Lam will replace Vien as head of the JGS): Well, we’ve lived with Vien departing for 10 months now. And about monthly the rumors seem to start going again. Then they subside, and Vien seems to be happy, and so on. Then it starts over again.

* 24 Jan 70

- NICKERSON: Look for enemy offensive on 27 January because of the lunar calendar, and also because that’s when General Lam thinks it’s going to hit. I don’t know where he gets it.

- ABRAMS: Well, they visit these astrologers. And who’s to say that the other guy isn’t doing the same goddamn thing?

* 6 Jun 70

- ABRAMS: And one of the articles mentions that, but passes it off—obviously an erroneous report! And this is the U.S. press writing stuff like this. I suppose, from their standpoint, this is not a good kind of publicity to be floating around. Always a possibility, I suppose, that these corps commanders could get competing for this sort of thing. Maybe they understand Lam better than we do. In fact, he is cooking such a thing. Want to be known as ‘the Patton of the Ho Chi Minh Trail’!

Lan, Lu Mong

* 20 Jul 68

- PEERS: Had a meeting of all the senior planners yesterday, and I was quite impressed with General Lu Lan.

Lung, Hoang Ngoc

* 8 Dec 71

- ABRAMS: RVNAF J-2 Colonel Lung is a dedicated, competent professional supported by an excellent and continually improving staff.

Minh, Duong Van

* 1 Nov 69

- JACOBSON: That was an interesting party Tran Van Don gave the other day, he and Big Minh and some 300 guests. Made some helpful remarks.

- ABRAMS: Yeah, he’s another one. And Big Minh—I don’t know whether he’s really smart or—

- JACOBSON: You can be sure—he’s a lot of things, but he’s not smart.

Minh, Nguyen Van

* 18 Oct 70

- WEYAND: […] I think General Abrams is, as I am, heartened by the fact that backing Tri up is this General Minh, a young lieutenant general that put together the defense of Saigon and is very much President Thieu’s man. He’s just a tremendously loyal officer. I think he’d be this way to whomever was president. And a tremendously effective officer.

* 25 Mar 71

- WEYAND: Well, we got a whole new bred of cat coming along. And I don’t know how long it’s gonna take. I think, and it might be my imagination, I detect a significant difference between the style of leadership, and the real effective leadership, of guys like Truong and Minh, who during this period we’re talking about were regimental commanders and division commanders, as opposed to—take the other extreme—your Vinh Locs and Lu Lans. And now even getting down to a man like General Lam, who’s somewhere in between. But you’re finding these corps commanders are like the corps commanders we’d like to think we had, who understood, for example, development of a fire plan, coordination of fires, precision, and all that, techniques that are so important. We understood those as well as our battalion and regimental commanders, and now—I was up there listening to Minh today, and Minh has educated his division commanders and his regimental commanders. And I think Truong probably odes the same thing, because they’re at ease with all this. And one of our problems, I think we’ve found in Lam Son 719 has to do not so much with the strategy and all and the maneuver. It has to do with techniques, for example the coordination of fires.

- ABRAMS: You go up there and listen to Minh tell you what the problem is, and it’s kind of interesting because he was faced with the same problem, up there, tactically, that we had up in Laos. That is, the fire support base is set up. The enemy’s reaction to that is sappers, indirect fire, and their reserve maneuver units outside. The indirect fire comes in, everybody gets their heads down, the sappers come in under that, and unless you get that indirect fire off that fire support base’s back, you’ve just had the schnitzel. There’s no way that that outfit is gonna hang in there. It may take a day, it may take three or four days, but our friendly unit’s had it. Now, the only way to whip that is you’ve got to find that indirect artillery and at least harass it and get it off of their backs. Anh that means that you’ve got to know how to use tac air, the capabilities of it, gunships, artillery, and the air cav. And Minh can draw a diagram for his battalion commander, fire support base commander, division commander, and tell you how that’s gotta be done. He just knows it, ‘cause he’s lived through it. He goes right to work on that and solves that damn problem. A guy like Vinh Loc—Christ, he couldn’t solve it in a thousand years. And we’ve got a lot of American commanders can’t solve it.

- ABRAMS: Listening to Minh, and listening to Truong, and these task force commanders, god—you can see what’s developing here. Real commanders who know this enemy, and know what he’s up to, and know their own capabilities, and how to employ them to counter.

Nam, Nguyen Khoa

* 9 jan 71

- JACOBSON: Now they have confidence in their ability. Look at Nam in the 7th division. He used to scream bloody murder, ‘we can’t get along without the Americans,’ throw up his hands. Now he’s confident and he’s not concerned.

Phu, Pham Van

* 23 Mar 71

- ABRAMS: […] So they wound up with Phu, who was a company commander at Dien Bien Phu. He knows the business, too.

* 28 Aug 71

- ABRAMS: General Phu, the commander of the 1st Division, was one of those Vietnamese 15,759. He was a company commander at Dien Bien Phu. And he’s one of those 1,435, or one of the 9.1 percent that survived. He is the only Vietnamese surviving who was a commander at Dien Bien Phu, and he commanded a company. Some Americans have a tendency to look down on these fellows as kind of small, and kind of funny looking. They’re also kind of tough. And what’d he say at the end of Lam Son 719? He said, ‘Well, Dien Bien Phu was 59 days. This was 45.’ A good tough fight at Dien Bien Phu. Then he said the 1st Division was in a good tough fight up there.

- ABRAMS: And I always kind of wind up thinking that General Phu’s in this for more than just the pay. I think so.

Tam, Tran Ngoc

* 29 Oct 69

- ABRAMS: Re General Tam over here in Free World Forces. I’d like to tack his you-know-what on a stump and push him over backwards. He’s the guy that says the VC control most of the country.

- SOMEONE: He’s never been out of Saigon, has he?

- ABRAMS: No, you’re wrong. He’s visited out at the headquarters of the Thai Division—by helicopter. And he’s also, within the last year, visited the Filipinos for lunch out there at Tay Ninh.

- POTTS: He doesn’t even go to the briefings over at the JGS, sir.

- ABRAMS: I don’t know how much effect it has, but it certainly is irritating.

Than, Le Van

* 6 May 70

- ABRAMS: Ambassador Colby was telling me this morning he went up and spent the night with Colonel Than, the province chief of Thua Thien. And so about ten o’clock last night—and Ambassador Colby had a visiting ambassador with him, forgotten who that is, and American ambassador from somewhere—about ten o’clock last night Colonel Than said, ‘Would you like to drive around?’ So they went out, Ambassador Colby and the other ambassador and Colonel Than in one jeep, and the province senior advisor and a couple of others in the other jeep. And they drove around for about two hours, out 12, 15 kilometers from Hue. This was really quite impressive. It must mean something about security. They got back a little after midnight. No escorts, nothing. I don’t think anyone would do that last year. Of course that’s not all of South Vietnam, but it’s interesting.

Thanh, Nguyen Viet

* 20 May 70

- ABRAMS: The handling of the forces and the tactics by all the forces in IV Corps can only be described as brilliant… General Thanh, the corps commander—his plan for the assault in the Parrot’s Beak was really brilliantly conceived. In fact, it made a lot of the rest of them looks like elephants.

- ABRAMS: Another thing about this—he [Thanh] drew up the plan himself. No member of his staff knew anything about it. His deputy was completely ignorant of it. He kept it in his pocket. Eventually he did show it to General McCown. And the day before the operation was to begin he went up and brief the division commander of the 9th Division on what he was to do, and forbid him to discuss it with his staff, and turned the operation over to him to execute. It was really beautifully done.

Thieu, Nguyen Van

* 5 Oct 68

- CORCORAN: (re pacification): President Thieu has taken a very strong interest. He ran a meeting just as though it was a class at Leavenworth. He had thought it out and so on.

* 7 Feb 70

- ABRAMS: You know, the big thing on Thieu [what is critics claim] is that he is isolated from the people, doesn’t know what’s going on, and that people don’t know him at all. He has religiously attended every one of those classes [At the training center at Vung Tau.]

Thinh, Nguyen Xuan

* 24 Feb 72

- ABRAMS: For example, my understanding now about making General Thinh, who commanded the 25th Division—how come he was made a lieutenant general? My understanding of it now is that what the president wanted to do was to make General Minh of the air force a lieutenant general so that when Ky was out he could not go back as the commander. He would be junior in rank, and the president didn’t want to be branded with having done that. So what he did was promote all major generals in the same class from the military academy to lieutenant general. And Thinh is a classmate of Minh, and was a major general, and that’s how he got to be a lieutenant general. I think there were four of them.

Toan, Nguyen Van

* 9 Sep 69

- ABRAMS: Incidentally, talking with General Vien the other day, I was advancing the view that possibly the 2nd ARVN Division had shown some advance in effectiveness this year over last. And he said, ‘Well’, he said, ‘General Toan, he doesn’t supervise things the way General Truong does.’ He said, ‘General Truong puts out his instructions, then he goes everywhere and sees what is carried out—everywhere.’ He said, ‘General Toan doesn’t do that.’ Well, I went on to another subject. This is a very keen and, I think, a very correct observation. He admits—he agrees—that there has been improvement in the performance of the 2nd ARVN, but he’s issuing a warning that one should not get it in the same league with the 1st ARVN.

Tri, Do Cao

* 5 Oct 68

- ABRAMS: He’s really been away from the operating end of the business. Thus didn’t have a feel for the tools that were actually available. They [Kerwirn] put on various firepower demonstrating for him. And to Tri logistics is just of no consequence. Convoy operations – ‘To hell with that, you don’t need that.’ But he now sees the significance of all that.

* 15 Nov 68

- ABRAMS: I don’t think that the JGS is going to influence it [operations by ARVN – in I CTZ, apparently] at all. Lam deals directly with the president on a great many things. Tri has dinner with the president once or twice a week. He gets operational approval, that sort of thing, and Vien’s not in on that. In my opinion, Vien’s trying to do the best job he can administratively and seeing that the ducks are lined up on things that have got to be done. But direction of the campaign, that sort of thing, is just not coming from him. And his hands are tied on it.

* 22 Jan 69

- ABRAMS: (re Chesarek’s question about a rumor that Lam will replace Vien as hed of the JGS): Well, we’ve lived with Vien departing for 10 months now. And about monthly the rumors seem to start going again. Then they subside, and Vien seems to be happy, and so on. Then it starts over again. There was some thought that General Tri might take his place. Tri is a very close personal friend of the president, sees him two or three evenings a week and that sort of thing. But General Tri is not in good health. He’s taking pills and shots and so on. He’s been a good tactician, although I had to point out to the president that, while I admire his tactics and so on, he’s really fought the war in III Corps with the airborne, the marines, and the rangers, and has done nothing to improve the performance of the --. In fact, I showed the president how the performance of those two divisions has steadily deteriorated. They are worse now, since we issued the M16, than they were before. And that shows clearly in the statistics.

* 6 Jun 70

- ABRAMS: Last night I was reading these two articles in Newsweek and Time magazine, both on General Tri. One of them is captioned ‘The Patton of the Parrot’s Beak.’ No, these are described as ‘the spunky little commander of the rejuvenated ARVN forces’ or some such a thing as that. Got a picture of him lolling peacefully under a palm tree, ‘somewhere in Cambodia’ it says. Well—we can laugh about it, but in the other game I think this other fellow watches very carefully this is quite a thing. Somebody up there’s got a few gas pains over—Christ almighty, the heroes that will be coming out of this thing.

- POTTS: Three or four weeks ago he was a corrupt son of a gun.

- ABRAMS: And one of the articles mentions that, but passes it off—obviously an erroneous report! And this is the U.S. press writing stuff like this. I suppose, from their standpoint, this is not a good kind of publicity to be floating around. Always a possibility, I suppose, that these corps commanders could get competing for this sort of thing. Maybe they understand Lam better than we do. In fact, he is cooking such a thing. Want to be known as ‘the Patton of the Ho Chi Minh Trail’!

- JACOBSON: Kind of interesting, because the last time we went to see the prime minister there was conversation about moving Tri. The question was what in hell to do with, so senior and all. But they didn’t talk like he was the Patton of anything. We suggested he might become the Patton of the RF and PF. There’re no lengths to which we wouldn’t go to get rid of that goddamn La, of course.

- ABRAMS: I think that’s a fair statement.

- ABRAMS: Recalls an operation when Tri couldn’t start on Monday ‘cause Tuesday, according to his astrologer—[Somebody “an inauspicious day] one of the worst in the whole year. And so he couldn’t start till Wednesday. And he didn’t. Crazy!

* 18 Oct 70

- WEYAND: Tri is probable--if we’ve got a problem, it’s him. He’s a hell of a professional soldier, but he’s not a team player. And we don’t think he has the breath to, say take over Vien’s job. Yet as a field commander he’s really something, as he proved in the Cambodian thing.

* 19 Feb 71

- ABRAMS: Tri’s got that old-fashioned idea that his job is to destroy the enemy. I think it’s [his operations in Cambodia against the 5th, 7th, and 9th Divisions] pretty good.

- WEYAND: I agree.

- ABRAMS: We’ve never seen a gathering [of enemy force] like this since I’ve been here, both in Laos and this thing here [Cambodia]

Truong, Ngo Quang

* 9 Sep 69

- ABRAMS: Incidentally, talking with General Vien the other day, I was advancing the view that possibly the 2nd ARVN Division had shown some advance in effectiveness this year over last. And he said, ‘Well’, he said, ‘General Toan, he doesn’t supervise things the way General Truong does.’ He said, ‘General Truong puts out his instructions, then he goes everywhere and sees what is carried out—everywhere.’ He said, ‘General Toan doesn’t do that.’ Well, I went on to another subject. This is a very keen and, I think, a very correct observation. He admits—he agrees—that there has been improvement in the performance of the 2nd ARVN, but he’s issuing a warning that one should not get it in the same league with the 1st ARVN.

* 15 Jan 70

- POTTS: General Truong, the 1st Division commander, is very impressive. He’s by far the best division commander.

* 19 Aug 70

- ABRAMS: He puts his policies out. Then he goes around to every last unit, it takes him about four or five days, to see if his policies are being effected. Well it just has to be!

* 18 Oct 70

- WEYAND: I know General Abrams is tremendously heartened by the appointment of Truong and Dzu to those two positions [as corps commanders], and the way he looks at it is that for the first time since he’s been here, there are four corps commanders who are all professionally fully qualified, clean—certainly by their standards if not by ours—natural leaders, and fully aware…of the problems before them and of the relative priorities of things. […] Truong…I don’t have to say much about him, because he’s another known quantity, having commanded that 1st Division—which was really, in terms of the troops available to him, he had to coordinate two-plus divisions. He has demonstrated over a long period of time his outstanding leadership. He’s absolutely incorruptible. Likewise, since he’s gone down to IV Corps the priorities he’s set for things to be done down there, his own dynamism—he’s got both John Vann and McCown just so high on him it’s hard to believe. It looks like we’ve got an awful good situation.

* 23 Mar 71

- ABRAMS: Back on the first of May [sic] the president called me up there to talk with him about the cross-border operations. And then he wanted to go over leadership. We got into the matter of Truong. Well, he started in with the corps commanders. He said, ‘Start at the DMZ and go down to Ca Mau and tell me about the commanders,’ which I did—an evaluation. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘if I have to remove some corps commanders, who do I add?’ So I told him then that the one I can recommend, without any reservations at all, and with all the humility of an American who doesn’t really know Vietnamese, is General Truong. I think he’s proved, over and over and in all the facets—pacification, military operations, whatever it is, I went into some others, and so on. Then he said, ‘Who could command the 1st ARVN Division?’ So I went over the possibilities there. They have rank problems—some of those are junior colonels and so on. But I told President Thieu then that the only reason a division commander is effective is because he knows himself personally all those little things that have to go on in the fighting. It has to do about how you put the wire, the organization of the staff, the communications, the maneuvering of the men, the welfare of the men—whether they’ve got their equipment, whether they’ve got their clothes, whether they’re being fed, whether they’re being paid, what’s happening to their dependents. And I said he must intimately know all that. That’s the only way he’ll be respected by the regimental commanders, because they’re all in it, and they know these things. And if he doesn’t have that, he can’t do it. I said it’s going to be especially hard in the 1st ARVN Division, because General Truong is just that kind of a man. That’s what that division has had now for a long time—a man who knows it intimately and knows all aspects of soldiering. And he has the respect of everybody. They respect him for what he is, because he knows more than anybody, and they know he does, about their business.

* 12 Jun 71

- ABRAMS: General Truong, in my judgment, is the most professionally qualified officer that ARVN’s got in the field.

* 5 May 72

- ABRAMS: The rest of those units are just going to have to have time to reorganize, refit, and so on. The change in sending General Truong up there is quite significant. He went up there and took command of the 1st Division in ’66 at the time of a Buddhist uprising in which about half of that division went over on the Buddhist side against the government. In two years he transformed it into the best division, and it was up in that Hue area.

- ABRAMS: In the Tet Offensive of 1968, the night before it happened, he ran a surprise communications exercise, and he was dissatisfied with the results. His headquarters was up there in the corner of the Citadel in Hue. So the next night he had his staff and himself there to run another surprise communications and alert exercise with his division. And that’s when it hit the fan. When the smoke cleared away the next day, the enemy had all of Hue. He had one battalion in Hue. His regiments were outside in various other parts of Thua Thien and Quang Tri. He had that little corner over there where his headquarters was in the Citadel and the enemy had all the rest of it. And that’s where he started working the problem. I was up there all that time. He’s really a very cool fellow—never got excited and never panicked. And by the 25th of February he had the enemy out of Hue. It was a building by building, block by block process, the dirtiest kind of fighting. So General Trong is a symbol in that part of the country of all that’s good in Vietnamese terms.

* 6 Apr 72

- ABRAMS: There’s no better team—people are always screwing around about what team to get on around here. Truong’s about as good as you could get.

Vien, Cao Van

* 15 Nov 68

- ABRAMS: I don’t think that the JGS is going to influence it [operations by ARVN – in I CTZ, apparently] at all. Lam deals directly with the president on a great many things. Tri has dinner with the president once or twice a week. He gets operational approval, that sort of thing, and Vien’s not in on that. In my opinion, Vien’s trying to do the best job he can administratively and seeing that the ducks are lined up on things that have got to be done. But direction of the campaign, that sort of thing, is just not coming from him. And his hands are tied on it.

* 18 Apr 70

- ABRAMS: The other day when I was over talking to General Vien…, he spent a considerable amount of time trying to elicit from me how in the hell our government ever went and launched this damn moon thing on the 13th [An inauspicious date.] Christ, everybody knows about that! Incredible! I said, ‘I understand, but you see they’re all scientific people. They’re unaware of all these other things that go on.

* 21 Mar 72

- ABRAMS: In the time I’ve been here, I have no evidence of General Vien ever lying to me. On things that he doesn’t feel he is privileged to answer, he’ll just say he can’t answer. He won’t even say, ‘I don’t know.’ He’ll say, ‘I better not talk about that.’ It could be I’ve been hoodwinked for four years, but I try not to do that. And I used to talk to Mr. Shackley about this, too. Mr. Shackley had dealings direct with General Vien on some things, things he went to General Vien personally on—himself. And that was his evaluation of General Vien.

[The Abrams Tapes 1968-1972, Lewis Sorley, Texas Tech University Press, 2004]

Nguyen Van Tin
05 November 2005

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