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206 CHAPTER SEVEN The Red Queen’s Race It was not only in Binh Dinh that the 1970 pacification campaign was faltering . MACV’s command history admitted that it “fell far short of the momentum generated during 1969.”1 In the first half of the year VCI neutralizations and Chieu Hoi defections both came up short of their targets, and April was the first month since Tet 1968 that HES showed a nationwide regression in security. One reason for the decline was that many allied units operating in key provinces had been withdrawn to participate in the Cambodian incursion . Another was the introduction of HES-70, which reduced subjectivity by having CORDS advisors answer objective questions instead of assigning scores, as in the original HES. Hamlets rated A, B, and C immediately declined by about 5 percent.2 The 1970 pacification campaign also suffered from a lack of emphasis by President Thieu, who was distracted by the Cambodian incursion and civil disturbances in Saigon involving students and disgruntled war veterans. HES ratings would start rising again in the latter half of 1970, but it is unclear how significant the upward trend really was. Since the “fast and thin” 1969 campaign had placed most of South Vietnam’s rural communities under military occupation and established elected governments in all but a small fraction of them, opportunities to make further easy quantitative gains were starting to become scarce. Instead, the allies now had to turn to the far more difficult task of making qualitative gains across the board. HES was ill suited for tracking qualitative progress in leadership, morale, aggressiveness , tactical competence, psychological climate, and so on. Quantitative data were much easier to “capture” and often involved measuring inputs (e.g., elections held, PSDF recruited, RF and PF units established, VSD projects completed) rather than results. It was therefore possible for HES to show that progress was being made even if the governments were ineffective, the PSDF useless, the RF and PF avoiding contact, and VSD projects failing to alter popular loyalties. This situation could persist as long as the enemy adhered to the low-intensity, protracted war strategy adopted in COSVN Resolution 9 and remained content to undermine pacification gradually rather than trying to overthrow it by main force. HES data were also subject to manipulation. In early 1969 the GVN had 1 1 506 514 514 LZ ENGLISH FSB PONY LZ HAMMOND Lake Dam Tra O Dam Nuoc Ngot SOUTH CHINA SEA Lai Gi a n g Sie m G i a n g QUANG NGAI BINH DINH Sa Huynh T am Quan DAMS Hoai An Phu My Phu Cat Bong Son AN LAO VALLEY BONG SON PLAINS HON GO MOUNTAINS CAY GIEP MOUNTAINS 'THE CRESCENT' NUI MIEU MOUNTAINS SUOI CA VALLEY KIM SON VALLEY July to December 1970 AREA OF OPERATIONS LEE ELEVATION IN MET E R S 0 200 400 600 800 and Abov e 5 0 Kilometers Miles 5 0 An Lao PHU CUU PASS ‘AO NORTH’ LZ UPLIFT Lake LZ CR AL YST PHU MY PLAIN ‘AO SOUTH’ VINH THANH VALLEY Sniper’s Island Truong Lam NUI KHO An Hoa (1) Gia Duc FSSB FLOYD My Trinh FSSB WASHINGTON My Tai ELEVATION UNDER 200 METERS Dinh Tri Dinh Cong 3A An Thuong Phu Van (2) Area of Operations Lee (July–December 1970). Source: George L. MacGarrigle, Combat Operations: Taking the Offensive, October 1966 to October 1977 (The United States Army in Vietnam Series) (Washington, DC: US Army Center of Military History Pub 94-1, 1998), Map 32, 317. [Adapted and reprinted by permission of the US Army Center of Military History] 208 Chapter Seven decreed that “villages and hamlets that are underpopulated can be merged with adjacent ones,”3 thus making it possible to gerrymander Vietcongdominated communities out of existence. In Dinh Tuong Province, the number of villages fell from 93 to 78 and the number of hamlets declined from 629 to 462—in one case, six V-rated hamlets were consolidated into just two.4 A similar process took place in Binh Dinh, where the number of rural hamlets dropped from 672 in March 1969 to just 568 by June 1970.5 Not all of them were eliminated by consolidation, however. Some were dropped from HES because they were unpopulated and situated in indefensible regions such as the An Lao Valley, which the GVN had no intention of resettling. Yet, even this less objectionable practice was subject to falsification. Aerial reconnaissance conducted in early 1970...


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