American Advisors' Evaluation on General Hieu

Colonel John G. Hayes, Senior Advisor, 5 Div (20 November 1969)

Combat effectiveness of the 5th Infantry Division (ARVN) is improving. Since Major General Nguyen Van Hieu took command, the Division has initiated a program of carrying the war to the enemy. This initiative is a vital element which the Division has lacked. The employment of the Cavalry Regiment in an offensive role was a dramatic departure from their "Palace Guard" mission.
MG Hieu has evidenced that he is receptive and will react to meaningful suggestions. It cannot be overemphasized that he is a strong commander, and will only implement ideas which will definitely improve the combat effectiveness of the Division.
Definite progress is being made in all areas within the Division. Basically improvements can be attributed to positive leadership which has forced the maneuver units to seek and destroy the enemy.
The new Commanding General definitely removes the leadership problem formerly faced with the Division Commander.
[...] Through Dong Tien and implementation of the Commanding General's offensive tactics, Regimental Commanders are pressed to field good unit leaders.
[...] With the assumption of command by MG Nguyen Van Hieu on 14 August 1969, 5th Division units are changing from a defensive to an offensive posture.

Lieutenant General Julian J. Ewell, Senior Advisor, III CTZ (2 February 1970)

We have no pressing need for division commanders at this time. Hieu should be able to move the 5th Division. Tho likewise the 18th. Thinh and Dong are doing fine with the 25th and Airborne Divisions.
The failure of the 5th Division to show improvement is, in my judgment, attributable to the turbulence caused by the: (1) take-over of Lai Khe in February; (2) assumption of responsibility for a two-province area of operations upon the departure of the 1st US Infantry Division in March; and (3) the replacement of two regimental commanders in this same period. More time will be needed for this division to gain in effectiveness and confidence, but there are indicators that this unit is beginning to come up now.

Colonel John G. Hayes, Senior Advisor, 5 Div (7 February 1970)

MG Nguyen Van Hieu, DOR 1-11-67, 20 years service. General Hieu is an above average commander. Good qualities include dedication, experience as a combat leader, ability to stimulate and maintain morale, and ability to control those in his command. He is quite religious and patriotic, and demands high standards of conduct and discipline. He is methodical but decisive. He is rated better than the average US Division commander in overall performance.

Major Edgar C. Doleman, Jr, G3 Plans/Training Advisor (22 April 1970)

After General Hieu took command of the division in October 1969, the general staff seemed to infuse with more life.

Lieutenant General Michael B. Davison, Senior Advisor, III CTZ (14 July 1970)

At division level, the leadership of MG Nguyen Xuan Thinh, Commander of the 25th ARVN Division, remained firm and effective as illustrated by the Cambodian cross-border operations; he was the Deputy Commander of Operation Toan Thang 42 and the Commander of TF 225. In the 18th ARVN Division, MG Lam Quang Tho has steadily improved in leadership and his influence is being felt at all levels as evidenced by his division's accomplishments this quarter-particularly in recruiting as the division surpassed the JGS goal (1200) by recruiting 1412 personnel as of 25 June 1970. In the 5th ARVN Division MG Nguyen Van Hieu's overall effectiveness as a commander remains questionable.

Brigadier General D. P. McAuliffe, Deputy Senior Advisor, III CTZ (26 November 1970)

Two of the three divisions assigned to III Corps, the 18th and 25th ARVN Infantry Divisions, are combat effective with good leadership and morale, and they can be counted on for mission accomplishment. The 25th Division, under the command of MG Nguyen Xuan Thinh, is ranked among the top three ARVN divisions in country. The 18th Division has shown steady improvement under the command of MG Lam Quang Tho, and has responded well to the division's new mobile mission in Cambodia. The 5th ARVN Infantry Division has not performed effectively for any sustained period during the year. Early in the year, it was possible to attribute the division's shortcomings to turbulence suffered in the take-over of the US 1st Infantry Divisionís tactical area and the division base camp (Lai Khe). However, in two subsequent operations into Cambodia (north of Binh Long Province), the performance of the participating divisional elements was undistinguished, and reflected the poor leadership and inactivity that had characterized the division all year. The division did benefit from the more recent cross-border operation, to Snoul (November 1970), although it is unlikely that the present division leadership will capitalize on these gains. There are two feasible remedies to the division's plight, both of which have been proposed to General Tri: (a) replacement of the division commander, MG Nguyen Van Hieu, and the commander of the 8th Regiment; (b) further participation by divisional elements in cross-border operations, to lift the morale and exercise of the combat skills of the unit commanders and soldiers involved. (General Tri has recommended that General Hieu be replaced, and is considering future operations involving the 5th Division.)