General Hieu, a Tactician with a Strategist's Mind
In the military skill area, General Hieu was like a man who is equally right and left handed; he was a good tactician and at the same time an accomplished strategist. He possessed a holistic mind and a broad vision of a strategist, and at the same token he also had an analytical mind and an acute attention on minute details of a tactician. He had had ample opportunities to exercise his strategic skills when he held the position of II Corps Chief of Staff and his tactical skills when he lead the 22nd Division and the 5th Division. Then, when he was appointed III Corps Deputy Commander, he had the opportunities to display both his tactical and strategic skills. The following five documents attest to this outstanding military trait of General Hieu.
1. Report of General McAuliffe, Assistant of US 1st Infantry Division Commander
On 8/14/1969, General Hieu took over the command of 5th Division. On 9/1/1969, General McAuliffe paid a visit to General Hieu, thinking that he would have the opportunity to advise and give guidance to him on some issues; to his surprise, General Hieu appeared more knowledgeable and more in command of the military situation in the operational area of 5th Division than him.
1 September 1969
MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD
SUBJECT: Discussion with General Hieu Concerning Dong Tien Operations
1. I met with Major General Hieu, Commanding General, 5th ARVN Division, at 0830 hours, 1 September, for the purpose of discussing Dong Tien operations between units of the 1st Infantry Division and the 5th ARVN Division. A summary of his comments follows; I found them to be both meaningful and significant.
2. At the outset I outlined our proposed concept for continuing Dong Tien operations against SR-1. This would involve a shift of ARVN units generally toward the center of the Trapezoid (e.g., operating out of Fire Support Base Gola and Lorraine) so that our 3rd Brigade commander could resume working with the 8th ARVN Regiment commander in conducting Dong Tien operations in the Trapezoid. General Hieu found no difficulty in accepting this concept, but he stressed that he favors moving units around so that they are targeted on enemy forces. He said that it does not matter to him whether his senior commanders may have to coordinate with additional commanders, and indicated that this is now the case in several parts of the 5th ARVN Division AO (Areas of Operations); he added that it would be desirable, wherever possible, to reduce the number of commanders/units with whom to deal on coordination of operations.
3. I then discussed the Phu Hoa area, citing initial problems of coordination with the district, indicating that there was now good cooperation all around, and that daily coordination meetings take place at Fire Support Base Mortain involving the US and ARVN battalion commanders and District Chief and Senior Advisor. In addition, I stated that it was being planned that a battalion of the 3rd Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, would soon become OPCON to the 1st Infantry Division and would work in the Iron Triangle in coordination with the effort now underway in the Phu Hoa area, with the objective to clean out the enemy within the next thirty days. General Hieu concurred with the concept.
4. I turned the discussion toward our objective of increasing pressure against the Dong Nai Regiment, outlining a concept involving two US battalions and one ARVN battalion operating in the lower Song Be Corridor and the area to the north of Tam Uyen. General Hieu agreed with the concept and acknowledged that this was in accordance with General Tri's recent guidance during a visit to the 7th ARVN Regiment.
5. General Hieu then spoke about pacification. He commented that military operations are relatively straightforward and easy for a military man to comprehend. Pacification, on the other hand, is complex. Citing General Tri's recent guidance, he said that the 5th Division should move away from the pacified areas, leaving these to RF/PF forces to secure. He drew an analogy of thrusting one's fist into a fish bowl; the fish move away, and stay away as long as the arm is in the fish bowl; however, as soon as the fist is withdrawn, the fish return to that spot. He said that the same thing can happen with regard to VC in populated areas, i.e., when ARVN and US forces move away, the VC tend to return. He has spoken to all of the district chiefs in his AO, as well as to many village chiefs, and many are uneasy at the prospect of ARVN and US forces moving away from the populated areas. In his view, Binh Duong Province has sufficient RF/PF forces, but these forces require further improvement in combat effectiveness, and need the reassurance of support from nearby US and ARVN forces in order to keep out the VC and maintain security for the populace. Therefore, he indicated that he feels an obligation to over watch these territorial forces and to assist and support them as much as possible. I assured him that we shared this view. However, he considers this a most difficult problem, particularly in light of General Tri's guidance.
6. In a digression, he spoke about the generally narrow views which many district chiefs hold. Their concern, he said, is primarily about their pacification statistics, and they look at military activities only insofar as these will assist their statistical picture. General Hieu stressed, however, the desirability of battalion commanders (ARVN and US) coordinating daily operations with the chiefs of the districts in which their forces are operating -- as I pointed out is now being done in the Phu Hoa District.
7. General Hieu then talked about how to improve the coordination of both the military and political effort against the enemy. He commented that the regimental/brigade commanders are the ones who have sufficiently broad focus and the resources to plan, coordinate, and carry out major operations. Similarly, he regards the previous chiefs and sector commanders as having sufficiently broad responsibilities to view the situation beyond narrow district limits. Therefore, he announced that he is instructing his regimental commanders to meet daily with the provincial sector commanders in their area, as well as with the US brigade commanders for the purpose of planning and supervising the execution of military operations against the enemy, as well as those in support of pacification. In addition, he intends to suggest to the Bind Duong Province Chief that he conduct weekly coordination conferences aimed at the problems of military support for pacification. He envisions that his regimental commanders and the US brigade commanders who operate in Binh Duong Province, as well as the appropriate district chiefs and battalion commanders, would participate in the weekly provincial meetings. He hopes that such conferences would stress (among other things) the support and assistance required for RF/PF forces. I assured General Hieu that this concept of coordination was completely in accord with ours, and that we would cooperate completely.
8. General Hieu then spoke on what he considers to be the major problem confronting his regimental commanders who are involved in Dong Tien operations. Citing the 7th Regimental Commander as an example, he said that this regimental commander looks toward Phu Hoa and sees one of his battalions operating with a US battalion in that area, and feels that he has no control over that battalion; then he sees another of his battalions, the 4/7th Battalion, operating with a US battalion in the Tam Uyen area and, again, feels that he has no control over the battalion. Therefore, when General Tri directed that the 7th Regiment concentrate his efforts against the Dong Nai Regiment, the regimental commander's reaction was that he had but one battalion which he could devote to this mission, and that battalion, the 2/7th Battalion, was involved in RD mission to the south (the 1/7th Battalion is at Song Be). General Hieu stated that his regimental commander's concept is wrong; nevertheless, his regimental commanders do have the feeling that they give up some control over their battalions engaged in Dong Tien operations. At this point, I commented that there was no intention in the Dong Tien concept to deprive the commanders involved of control over their own forces; rather, the intent was to facilitate combined planning against a common enemy in a specific area, to facilitate coordination of such matters as fire support, air lift, logistics, and local security. To date, the Dong Tien operations have enabled a more thorough and more effective effort against enemy forces in the AO of the combined allied units. There should be, I added, no restraint on how the commanders involved employ their forces, except insofar as the necessary coordination of maneuver, fire support, and other support activities within their common area. I noted that even the AO boundaries can be readily modified (by AO extensions) depending upon the enemy situation. I cited a recent example of the CO, 9th Regiment, exploiting certain intelligence he had received through ARVN channels, after coordination of his plans with our brigade commander. General Hieu agreed with my comments, but he indicated that he would have to undertake an educational process with his regimental commanders on this subject. I said that I would discuss this matter with the Commanding General and with the other senior commanders of the 1st Infantry Division.
9. General Hieu stated, in the course of the discussion, that division AO's should correspond with political boundaries -- he noted some divergences in the present boundaries of both the 5th ARVN Division and the 1st Infantry Division. Moreover, he commented that he would like to see the 3rd Brigade, 82d Airborne Division given responsibility for an area encompassing the Catchers Mitt and part of War Zone "0".
Brigadier General, USA
2. Report of meeting between General Hieu (ARVN 5 Div) and General Milloy (US 1st Div)
Although he had arrived at 5th Division less than a month (since 8/14), but because he had pocketed three years of experience conducting joint operations with US 1st Cavalry Division as ARVN 22nd Division Commander, General Hieu acted with more confidence than General Milloy, US 1st Division in dealing with Dong Tien program. General Abrams said that General Ngo Quang Truong had the ability to lead an American division and Colonel John Hayes, ARVN 5th Division Senior Advisor, had reported to him that General Hieu "is rated better than the average US Division commander in overall performance." (Evaluation dated 2/7/1970)
Combined Operations in Binh Duong Province
6 September 1969
MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD
1. (U) A joint planning conference to discuss combined/coordinated operations
in Binh Duong Province was held at Headquarters, 5th Infantry Division on 1500H
06 September 1969. Following personnel were present:
a. Major Albert E. Milloy, CG, 1st Infantry Division (US)
b. Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, CG, 5th Infantry Division (ARVN)
c. Brigadier General Dennis P. McAuliffe, ADC-S, 1st Infantry Division (US)
d. Colonel David Fink, SA, 5th Infantry Division (ARVN)
e. LTC Fredrick Brown, G3, 1st Infantry Division (US)
f. LTC Gerard Dirks, G2, 1st Infantry Division (US)
g. Major Claude Clark, G3 Plans, 1st Infantry Division (US)
h. Major Trinh Dinh Dang, G3, 5th Infantry Division (ARVN)
i. Major Sidney L. Linver, G3A, 5th Infantry Division (ARVN)
2. (U) Major Clark presented the Task Organization, Missions, and Concept of
Operations of OPLAN 22-69 (Danger Forward - Phase I).
3. (U) Major Dang presented the 5th Infantry Division plan for the conduct of
combined/coordinated operations in Binh Duong.
4. (C) General Hieu elaborated upon the coordinating instructions in order to
make the following points clear:
a. Three methods of operations would be employed: parallel procedures or
separate AO's, combined operations with joint CP's, or cross attachment.
b. Units in joint fire support bases would be rotated every 30 days, units in
Phuoc Long Province will be rotated every two months, units combined RF will be
rotated every two months.
c. Regiments will be responsible for controlling all their battalions.
d. Binh Duong Province Chief will coordinate with military commanders for
operations in direct support of pacification.
e. Battalion commanders will coordinate directly with only one US battalion
commander; however, regimental commanders may coordinate with more than one
f. Wherever possible, military and political boundaries will coincide so as
to avoid having a district chief coordinate with two or more battalion
commanders in matters pertaining to direct support of pacification.
g. Area A is the direct responsibility of the Binh Duong Province Chief
utilizing only RF/PF forces.
5. (U) Colonel Fink raised the point of a need to have a centralized control
agency for the clearing and coordinating of all supporting fires. Both General
Hieu and General Milloy agreed and directed their respective G3's to work out
6. (U) General Milloy offered for consideration a draft of a joint letter of
instruction that would define the coordination of effort in Binh Duong Province.
General Hieu said he did not desire to issue a joint letter of instruction at
this time but preferred rather to issue a separate plan to his commanders.
7. (U) The conference was concluded at 1600 hours.
Major Sidney L. Linver
Advisory Team 70
3. Report of Bird, Tay Ninh province representative of American Consulate General at Bien Hoa
The military situation that unfolded in the subsequent months reflected exactly General Hieu's predictions regarding Viet Cong strategic intentions.
R 071025Z DEC 73
FM AMEMBASSY SAIGON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9724
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAIGON 20594
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.
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.
4. Report of Peters, American Consul General in Bien Hoa
In paragraph 4 of this report, General Hieu criticized General Toan for falling into Viet Cong subterfuge when he hastily moved the 3rd Armor Regiment to defend eastern part of Tay Ninh, while the Viet Cong's main trust was to open a battlefront in Military Region 2 with the main attack aimed at Ban Me Thuat which commenced on 3/10/1975.
P 120445Z MAR 75
SUBJECT: TRI TAM BATTLE AND SITUATION IN TAY NINH CITY
REF: BIEN HOA 142
1. THE MR3 COMMANDER AND HIS 2 DEPUTIES WERE TRAVELLING MOST
OF THE DAY MAR 11 AND REFTEL WAS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM
LOWER LEVEL SOURCES AT MR3 HQ. DEPT CMDR, MG HIEU, AFTER RETURNING FROM EASTERN TAY NINH AT THE END OF THE DAY, REVIEWED THE TRI TAM AND TAY NINH PROVINCE SITUATION WITH ME OVER COFFEE AT 2100 HOURS MAR 11. HE GAVE A CONSIDERABLY MORE FAVORABLE ACCOUNT OF THE SITUATION THAN THAT SET FORTH REFTEL.
2. ACCORDING TO HIEU, THE NVA/VC BROKE OFF THE ATTACK AT TRI
TAM AT THE END OF THE DAY AFTER THE ATTACKING 272ND NVA REGT
HAD FAILED TO BREACH THE DEFENSES AND SAPPERS WHO HAD PENETRATED TO THE MARKET (HE SAID TANKS NEVER REACHED THE MARKET AREA) WERE THROWN BACK. THE SITUATION WAS QUIET AT 2030 HOURS. MOST OF THE ARVN THIRD ARMORED BRIGADE WAS DEPLOYED FROM BINH DUONG PROVINCE DURING THE DAY AND BY LATE AFTERNOON WAS IN PLACE ON ROUTE 26 IN EASTERN TAY NINH PROVINCE AROUND AND NORTH OF KHIEM HANH. ITS MISSION IS BOTH TO PUSH TO THE RELIEF OF TRI TAM AND TO COUNTER ANY HEAVY NVA/VC THRUST IN WESTERN TAY NINH PROVINCE. THE 3RD ARMORED COMMANDER, BG KHOI, HAS NOW BEEN GIVEN OPCON OF FORCES IN EASTERN TAY NINH AND TRI TAM. MR3 HAS ESTABLISHED A FORWARD CP AT GO DAU HA.
3. ON ROUTE 22, MEANWHILE, THE NVA/VC HAD BEEN PUSHED OUT OF 2
OF THE 3 POINTS OF INTERDICTION WITH SOME PROSPECT FOR RE-OPENING THE ROAD WITHIN A DAY OR TWO. AT THE SAME TIME, ACCORDING TO HIEU, MR3 HQ SEES NO SIGN OF ANY NEW MOVEMENT OF MAJOR NVA/VC FORCES IN A MENACING WAY NORTH OR WEST OF TAY NINH CITY.
4. HIEU SAID THE 3RD ARMORED BRIGADE HAD BEEN MOVED TO EASTERN
TAY NINH IN THE BELIEF THAT THE TRI TAM ATTACK SIGNALLED AN
INTENT ON THE PART OF THE OTHER SIDE TO HIT THAT AREA THEN
SQUEEZE TAY NINH CITY RATHER THAN ASSAULT THE CITY DIRECTLY. HE
SAID GEN TOAN HOPES HE HAS NOT OVERREACTED BY BRINGING MORE
FORCES TO BEAR IN THAT AREA THEN ARE REQUIRED. TOAN RECOGNIZES
THE POSSIBILITY THAT CURRENT ATTACKS IN THE TAY NINH AREA MAY
ONLY BE LIGHT AND DIVERSIONARY TO SUPPORT THE HEAVY ACTION IN
MR II, WITH HEAVIER ATTACKS IN MR III TO COME LATER. HIEU THOUGHT
THAT ROCKETING OF BIEN HOA WOULD BE ONE IMPORTANT CLUE. FURTHER HEAVY ROCKET ATTACKS NOW WOULD SHOW AN INTENT TO NEUTRALIZE VNAF FOR IMMEDIATE NVA/VC ATTACKS WHILE A BREAK, OR SPORADIC LIGHT ATTACKS, WOULD INDICATE POSTPONEMENT OF HEAVY ATTACKS IN MR III.
5. LATEST WORD REGARDING TRI TAM AT 0730 HOURS MAR 12 FROM G-3
SOURCES AT MR3 HQ IS THAT THE NVA/VC RENEWED THE ATTACK WITH
INFANTRY AND ARMOR AT 0200 HOURS AND FIGHTING CONTINUES.
6. MG HIEU SHOULD NOT CITED AS SOURCE IN ANY DISCUSSION OF THIS
MESSAGE'S CONTENTS WITH GVN OFFICIALS.
5. Report of General Charles Timmes, CIA military intelligence agent
General Timmes was the person who had expressed the opinion that General Hieu was the only ARVN high ranking officers who really possessed the ability to command troops at the corps level.
Date: 5 January 1975
Subject: GVN MR3 Deputy Commanding General Hieu's analysis of VC/NVA actions in MR3 and discussion of Communist intentions.
Source: An American observer from GVN Military Region 3 - Deputy Commanding General Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, who was aware that his remarks would reach U.S. officials.
Summary: MR3 Deputy Commander for operations Major General Nguyen Van Hieu said on 3 January 1975 that VC/NVA forces failed to achieve their objectives in recent attacks north of Tay Ninh City because ARVN forces were able to bring additional artillery to bear on attacking forces. ARVN forces failed to reach Hoai Duc District Town in Binh Tuy Province because the 33rd VC/NVA Regiment blocked Route 333 between Gia Ray and Hoai Duc; the 7th Ranger Group attached to the 18th ARVN Division, performed poorly. GVN strength in Hoai Duc will soon consist of two ARVN battalions and one RF battalion, with two additional battalions approaching along Route 333 from the north. General Hieu opined that after attacks on the Phuoc Long Province Capital of Song Be, the 7th NVA Division will advance along the Binh Duong-Bien Hoa Province border toward Lai Thieu and Gia Dinh. He also believes that previous attacks by the 9th NVA Division in Ben Cat District of Binh duong were part of Communist intentions to upgrade combat capability to division-sized and corps-sized combined operations. In several months, General Hieu anticipates the 7th and 9th NVA Divisions to engage in a corps-sized operation along approaches to Saigon with the 5th NVA Division having the objective of cutting communications between Saigon and the Delta. Overall Communist objectives in the current campaign are to isolate Tay Ninh Province and then capture its capital, consolidate control of the Binh Long-Phuoc Long enclave and extend control into the Saigon corridors in Binh Duong, and to gain control of Binh Tuy Province, especially the rice bowl area. End summary.
1. On 3 January 1975, Major General Nguyen Van Hieu, deputy government of Vietnam Military Region 3 (GVN MR3), commander for operations, analyzed Viet Cong/ North Vietnamese Army (VC/NVA) military activity since 6 December and discussed Communist intentions. In Tay Ninh Province, VC/NVA forces failed to accomplish their objectives of overrunning the outposts of Ba Den Mountain and Soui Da (XT335576) northeast of Tay Ninh City because after the artillery of Vietnamese Army (ARVN) forces was initially destroyed by the VC/NVA counterbattery fire, the ARVN forces were able to bring additional artillery to bear on the attacking forces. The 205th VC/NVA Independent Regiment lost about one-third of its troops, while the 101st VC/NVA Regiement suffered about 100 casualties. The VC/NVA tactics are to destroy the ARVN artillery by couterbattery fire based on intelligence of howitzer locations and then to employ massive artillery on the defending force. In the battle for Suoi Da, the GVN forces were able to have additional artillery pieces within range of the attacking forces which VC/NVA units were unable to find and destroy. According to General Hieu, intelligence indicates that the two VC/NVA Regiments will renew the attack in Tay Ninh Province and employ additional artillery pieces to neutralize ARVN artillery.
2. Concerning the failure of ARVN forces to reach Hoai Duc District Town, Binh Tuy Province, General Hieu said that the 33rd VC/NVA Regiment blocked Route 333 between Gia Ray and Hoai Duc by establishing company sized, well fortified strong points along the road and subjected ARVN units to constant indirect attaks by fire. The 7th ARVN Ranger Group was attached to the 48th Regiment, 18th ARVN Division. However, the Ranger Group was not effective because it is weak from previous casualties and according to General Hieu, the Rangers are not accustomed to operating as an integral part of a division and therefore performed poorly. One battalion of the 43rd Regiment, 18th ARVN Division, has been airlifted into Hoai Duc District Town while the balance of the regiment is advancing from Route 20 in Long Khanh Province south along Route 333 from the north. An additional ARVN battalion will soon be airlifted into Hoai Duc for a total defense force of two ARVN battalions plus one Regional Forces (RF) battalion which, according to General Hieu, should be sufficient to defend Hoai Duc successfully. He remarked that the 18th ARVN Division is the reserve division for MR3 but with the regiments committed in eastern MR3, the Joint General Staff decided to establish a reserve force and temporarily transferred the 4th Ranger Group to the Saigon area from MR2.
3. According to General Hieu, the 7th NVA Division was committed in Phuoc Long Province to raise the morale of division troops by assigning them an easy objective and a quick victory against the RF before committing the division against ARVN main forces in southeastern Binh Duong Province. If Phuoc Long Capital is quickly overrun, the next objective for the 7th Division will be to advance along the Binh Duong-Bien Hoa Province border toward Lai Thieu District in southern Binh Duong and Gia Dinh. If VC/NVA forces fail to overrun Phuoc Long, General Hieu expects that the VC/NVA will continue the seige of the city with lesser forces and free the 7th Division to conduct operations toward Lai Thieu.
4. General Hieu believes that the 9th NVA Division in the Spring and Summer of 1974 attacked the outposts of Rach Bap (XT763304), Base B2 (XT700313), and An Dien in Ben Cat District, Binh Duong Province, for the purpose of testing the division's capability to conduct division sized conventional operations. This is part of the Communist intent to upgrade its forces to be capable of coordinated division sized and even corps-sized combined operations. General Hieu believes that the 9th Division suffered considerable casualties and may not be combat ready. However, he anticipates that in several months both the 9th and 7th NVA Divisions may be engaged in a corps-sized operation advancing along the Saigon corridor and the Binh Duong-Bien Hoa boundary axis toward Saigon. However, General Hieu is not sure if the Communists have the logistic buildup to support a sustained corps operation. He anticipates that the 5th NVA Division will have the mission at the same time of advancing along the MR3 and MR4 boundary with the objective of cutting communication lines from the Delta to Saigon. When asked if VC/NVA forces have the capability to execute this grandiose plan, he respondes that it depends on the Communist supply build-up and battlefield preparations. He claimed that the VC/NVA can bring supplies to MR3 from North Vietnam in 17 days and that they have a ratio of two to one in their favor of main line regular units excluding RF and Popular Forces. He maintained that NVA have superiority of artillery fire at the point of contct and employ massed fires. General Hieu said that according to captured documents, the NVA plan to commit tanks as well as additional artillery. He noted that a considerable number of T-54 tanks are committed in Phuoc Long Province.
5. When asked about ARVN's capability to contain the VC/NVA attacks in MR3 without receiving more U.S. military aid than is currenlty scheduled, he said it is difficult to determine ARVN's breaking point. The period ahead will be most difficult. Some GVN units have demonstrated good morale, especially the RF in Tay Ninh; however, morale in general has declined and there is a possibility that ARVN may not survive without considerably more U.S. military aid support. The superior fire power and mobility that the GVN forces have formerly enjoyed have shifted to the VC/NVA side.
6. The VC/NVA objectives, according to General Hieu, during the current campaign is to isolate Tay Ninh Province and then capture Tay Ninh City; second, to consolidate their control of the Binh Long-Phuoc Long enclave and extend control deep into the Saigon corridors in Binh Duong Province; and third, to gain control of Binh Tuy Province, especially the rice bowl which produces sufficient rice to sustain the populations of Binh Tuy, Phuoc Long, and Long Khanh Provinces. He noted that in Binh Tuy the Communists are not permitting the population to leave as they have formerly done. In the past the Communists attacked an area and if the objective was captured they only remained for a few days. However, Communist strength now permits them to hold and develop an area after its capture. The objective of the Communists is to control a mininum of 10 percent of the population. The method to achieve their objective is to make strong attacks, seize, hold and consolidate and thereby obtain a coequal status with the GVN.
7. General Hieu commented that MR3 Commander Lieutenant General Du Quoc Dong has not had experience in commanding territorial forces but that he is learning fast.
Nguyen Van Tin
07 February 2009