In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

It had long been accepted in the American intelligence community that the intelligence officers at MACV had the primary responsibility for estimating enemy strength in South Vietnam. When representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research met in mid-1966 to formulate a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the military potential of the enemy forces in Vietnam, they relied mainly on MACV’s numbers in their estimate of current enemy strength, though they avoided the absurd precision of the MACV numbers; they said total enemy manpower in South Vietnam was between 260,000 and 280,000, while the current official figure from MACV was 271,073.1 But by 1967, the CIA had decided that MACV was underestimating enemy strength. This posed a serious problem when Secretary of Defense McNamara , who also had come to mistrust MACV’s figures, asked the CIA in April 1967 to give him an independent assessment of enemy strength in South Vietnam.2 Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Richard Helms did not believe his agency could afford to alienate the military by telling McNamara that it did not believe MACV’s estimates, especially on a subject that had traditionally been MACV’s responsibility and on which MACV could plausibly claim greater expertise. Helms decided the only acceptable solution was for intelligence analysts of all relevant agencies to confer, discuss the evidence, and thrash out a common position that could be embodied in an NIE, which eventually became a Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE).3 C H A P T E R THREE 3 THE SPECIAL NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE NEGOTIATING THE SNIE The Office of National Estimates issued a preliminary draft of the  ]ʈ˜yÕi˜Vi`ÊLÞÊ->“Ê`>“ýÃÊۈiÜÃ]ʜ˜Ê՘iÊ14, 1967.4 It separated the order of battle into military and nonmilitary components and gave fairly wide ranges, rather than precise figures, for some categories (see Table 3.1). Compared to the figures in the current MACV OB, these figures were UÊÊ ÃÃi˜Ìˆ>ÞÊÌ iÊÃ>“iÊvœÀÊÀi}Տ>ÀÊ œ“L>ÌÊvœÀVið UÊʈ} iÀÊLÞÊ>LœÕÌÊ50,000 to 75,000 for Administrative Services. UÊʈ} iÀÊLÞÊ>LœÕÌÊ20,000 to 80,000 for Guerrillas. UÊʈ} iÀÊLÞÊ>LœÕÌÊ50,000 to 75,000 for Militia (SD and SSD). UÊʈ} iÀÊLÞÊ>LœÕÌÊ40,000 for Political. The CIA representatives at the negotiations accepted MACV’s figures for enemy Combat forces. At any given time, their figure for this category would simply be the figure in the most recent MACV OB Summary, rounded off to the nearest thousand. Sam Adams continued to believe that MACV was undercounting the Communists’ Combat forces by omitting many small elite units—sappers, combat engineers, special operations units, and scouts. These were among the best of the Communists’ combat troops. But Adams did not make an issue of this belief in the NIE negotiations. In notes written probably in early August, he commented that he believed the Communists’ Combat forces were about 5,000 larger than MACV was estimating but that the MACV figure, which had been incorporated into the latest draft of the NIE, was “OK.”5 ÊVœ˜yˆVÌÊLiÌÜii˜ÊÌ iʘ>ÌÕÀiʜvÊÌ iÊ-  Ê>˜`ʈÌÃÊ«ÕÀ«œÃiÊVœ“«ˆV>Ìi`Ê the negotiations. The SNIE was supposed to represent the best estimate intelligence analysts could make of how many people the Communists actually had in each of the categories that was counted. This was why the first draft had given broad ranges, rather than precise figures, for some categories. The analysts did not believe they knew, even to the nearest ten thousand, how many people the Communists had in these categories . In this respect, the SNIE was different from the MACV OB. Colonel Hawkins and his officers were not supposed to try to figure out the actual number of Communist personnel in each category. They were supposed to list every enemy organization for which they had a strength figure and THE SPECIAL NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE 59 60 CHAPTER THREE add up those numbers. That was why the numbers in the MACV OB were so precise—they were not even rounded to the nearest thousand. Logically, the SNIE should have come up with figures significantly larger than those in the MACV OB, even if the MACV OB had been a perviV ÌÊÀiyiV̈œ˜ÊœvÊÌ iÊLiÃÌÊ>Û>ˆ>Liʈ˜vœÀ“>̈œ˜°Ê/ iÊ-  ÊÜ>ÃÊÃÕ««œÃi`Ê to be an estimate of the manpower of all the units in the...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.