General Hieu's View of VC Intentions

Just 5 days after being assigned III Corps Deputy Commander, General Hieu demonstrated his strategic skills in briefing, after General Thuan, his views of VC intentions to officials of the US Consulate General in Bien Hoa. Bird, the US General Consul, reported this briefing in the following cablegram:

December 07, 1973

R 071025Z DEC 73

FM AMEMBASSY SAIGON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9724

CINCPAC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAIGON 20594

E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: MOPS, VS

SUBJ: MR 3 GENERALS' VIEWS OF ENEMY INTENTIONS

CINCPAC FOR POLAD

FOLLOWING SENT ACTION SAIGON INFO USDAO SAIGON DANANG NHA TRANG CAN THO FROM AC BIEN HOA DEC 7 BEING REPEATED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

QUOTE.

BIEN HOA 0638

E.O. 11652: GDS

TAGS: MOPS, VS

SUBJ: MR 3 GENERALS' VIEWS OF ENEMY INTENTIONS

1. CONGEN OFFICERS HAD WIDE RANGING CONVERSTATIONS DECEMBER 5 AT MR 3 HEADQUARTERS. THIS MESSAGE SUMMARIZES MOST IMPORTANT POINTS COVERED.

2. MR 3 CG PHAM QUOC THUAN, IN RELAXED AND TALKATIVE MOOD, WAS OBVIOUSLY PLEASED WITH RESULTS OF ARVN 18TH DIVISION OPERATION LATTER PART NOVEMBER. HE SAID TWO REGIMENTS OF 18TH HAD ENGAGED A REINFORCED NVA REGIMENT (165TH) IN PHU GIAO DISTRICT, BINH DUONG PROVINCE RESULTING IN 56 ENEMY KIA AND 6 CIA. HE SAID HE ANTICIPATED ENEMY STRATEGY AND GOT 18TH DIVISION REGIMENTS IN PLACE THREE DAYS AHEAD OF 165TH WHICH WAS ALSO MOVING INTO PHU GIAO.

3. THUAN BELIEVES EVENTUAL MAIN NVA THRUST WILL BE THROUGH BINH DUONG FUNNELING INTO A NARROW NECK AT PHU CUONG ALONG ROUTE 14 FROM NW, ROUTE 1A FROM NE AND ROUTE 13 AT THE CENTER. THUAN SAID HE WOULD CONCENTRATE HIS FORCES AT THE NECK AND SEEMED CONFIDENT OF THIS PLAN OF DEFENSE. QUERIED AS TO WHEN ATTACKS MAY COME, HE AND HIS DEPUTY (SEE PARA 5) BOTH THOUGHT ANY MAJOR OFFENSIVE WOULD BE PRECEDED BY CONTINUED NVA CAMPAIGN TO ELIMINATE GVN-HELD POCKETS AND OUTPOSTS IN NORTHERN HALF OF MR 3. THUAN SAID EVIDENCE OF NVA UNITS MOVING CLOSER TO ROUTE 15 TO VUNG TAU AND 1/22 TO TAY NINH SUGGESTS EFFORT TO INTERDICT THESE ROADS. THUAN THOUGHT WE MIGHT SEE STEPPED UP NVA EFFORT WITHIN WEEK OR TWO.

4. THUAN EXPRESSED CONCERN OVER COMMUNIST ATTACKS IN QUANG DUC, MR 2, WHICH HAD COMPLETELY ISOLATED PHUOC LONG PROVINCE. HE CONJECTURED THAT ENEMY MIGHT LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FROM QUANG DUC IN SOUTHEAST DIRECTION ALONG AN OLD, UNMAPPED ROAD WITH INTENTIONS OF ESTABLISHING A BEACHHEAD ON COAST SOMEWHERE IN BINH THUAN OR BINH TUY. HE WAS UNABLE GIVE MORE PRECISE INFO, BUT SUGGESTED OBJECTIVE MIGHT BE CUT SVN IN HALF ALONG THIS LINE RATHER THAN (OR IN ADDITION TO) CUTTING COUNTRY IN MR 2. ASKED IF ARVN CAN HOLD IF NVA LAUNCHES MAJOR OFFENSIVE, THUAN WAS OPTIMISTIC, BUT SAID HE WANTS 2 MORE MONTHS TO GET ARVN 5TH AND 25TH DIVISIONS COMBAT READY. ON ANTI-TANK DITCH CONSTRUCTION IN TAY NINH, BINH DUONG AND BIEN HOA, THUAN SAID PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT ON POPULATION IS AS IMPORTANT AS MILITARY VALUE, OR MORE SO. HE SAID PEOPLE'S PARTICIPATION NOT ONLY IMPRESSES THEM THAT GVN DETERMINED TO RESIST, BUT ALSO IMPRESSES INDIVIDUAL NVA SOLDIERS THAT PEOPLE SUPPORT RATHER THAN OPPOSE GVN. HE ALSO SAID MANY ENEMY UNITS ARE HUNGRY AND SHORT OF RICE AND WILL MAKE CONCERTED EFFORT OBTAIN RICE DURING HARVEST SEASON. HE IS CONFIDENT THAT ENEMY WILL BE ABLE OBTAIN ONLY 15-20 PER CENT OF CROP IN MR 3.

5. MR 3 DEPUTY CG FOR CORPS, MG NGUYEN VAN HIEU, WHO ARRIVED 5 DAYS AGO, IMPRESSED CONGEN OFFICERS BY HIS FRIENDLY MANNER AND ARTICULATE ANALYSIS OF PROBABLE ENEMY STRATEGY. HE FEELS ENEMY WILL LAUNCH AN ATTACK OF SOME INTENSITY WITHIN NEXT 2 MONTHS (PERHAPS MID-JANUARY) WITH MAINLY POLITICAL OBJECTIVE. HE THOUGHT COMMUNISTS WOULD PAUSE AFTER EACH IMPORTANT NEXT MOVE RATHER THAN FLAUNT INTERNATIONAL OPINION TOO SOON AND TOO BROADLY. ACCORDING TO HIEU, NVA WILL ATTEMPT CONSOLIDATE THEIR TERRITORY IN NORTHERN PARTS OF TAY NINH, BINH LONG AND PHUOC LONG AND POSSIBLY CAPTURE A MAJOR POPULATION CENTER IN WHICH TO ESTABLISH A PRG CAPITAL. HE THOUGHT TAY NINH A MORE LIKELY TARGET THAN BINH DUONG. GENERAL HIEU SAID PARIS ACCORDS WERE GREATLY TO ADVANTAGE OF HANOI BECAUSE CEASE-FIRE IN PLACE PREVENTED GVNS FROM ATTACKING PRG-HELD TERRITORY. HE MENTIONED THAT COMPARATIVE MAPS OF SVN BEFORE AND AFTER CEASE-FIRE SHOW NVA SUCCESSFULLY CONNECTING ITS "LEOPARD SPOTS" IN SOUTH. HIEU IS OF OPINION HANOI WILL MOUNT AN OFFENSIVE LARGE ENOUGH TO ATTRACT WORLD ATTENTION, BUT NOT SO LARGE AS TO DESTROY ACCORDS. THEY WOULD THEN TURN TO RENEWED NEGOTIATIONS IN PARIS FOR POLITICAL OBJECTIVES WITH INCREASED BARGAINING POWER AND MILITARY LEVERAGE. SIGNED BIRD

UNQUOTE.

MARTIN

CONFIDENTIAL

This document was declassified/released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 30 JUN 2005

Nguyen Van Tin
09 October 2008

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