CAMBODIA PSYOP

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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Note: Part of this article was used in the Phousera Ing graphic novel “Bitter Cucumbers: The Birth of a Tragedy,” on the subject of the American and Vietnamese war in Cambodia.

During the decade that the United States fought in Vietnam, Cambodia was a sanctuary for the Communist forces of North Vietnam and a transportation hub that brought weapons, ammunition and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In addition to using the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia as a transportation system, the North Vietnamese built a series of bases called binh trams. These bases were used as early as 1962 and by 1969 were housing 50,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops. Each base was a self-contained logistics base and could carry out transportation, engineer, medical, maintenance, storage, and security functions.

In an article in the New York Times, C.L. Sulzberger described the importance of the Cambodian sanctuaries to the North Vietnamese:

Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces would have been unable to bear their losses were it not for the sanctuaries. Without Cambodia as an ordnance depot, training center, and transportation route for materiel, men, medicine, and food, the Communists in South Vietnam could not possibly last out the year.

We will not discuss the military aspects of the war in any depth. There are numerous books written by military historians that tell that story. We will endeavor to give a brief review of Cambodia and its unwilling involvement in the war and review some of the military actions that took place. Our main priority will be to show the psychological operations that went on as the Americans and South Vietnamese tried to interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail and to convince the North Vietnamese and Cambodian troops and civilians to quit the war.

During the 1950s and 1960s, neutrality was the central element of Cambodian foreign policy. All of the local powers had signed a pact guaranteeing that neutrality. Nobody intended to honor that pact. With the escalation of the Vietnam War, some of Cambodia’s eastern provinces were occupied by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces operating against South Vietnam. By 1969, as enemy activity grew, the United States opted to bomb the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong bases inside Cambodia.

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Map of Cambodia

Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Turkoly-Joczik, Ph.D. says in an article entitled “Secrecy and Stealth: Cross-Border Reconnaissance in Indochina, Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin:

The first series of U.S.-sponsored cross-border operations took place in 1964 under the code name “Leaping Lena.” The South Vietnamese Government under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted these activities. Unfortunately, Leaping Lena was a failure and was terminated.

American troop operations in Cambodia, codenamed “Daniel Boone,” began in 1967. The teams included South Vietnamese troops led by American Special Forces personnel. The men assigned these missions wore very plain military uniforms without American markings and carried neutralized weapons that were untraceable. They crossed the border on foot or in unmarked Air Force helicopters. Hundreds of teams were sent across the border to Cambodia in 1968. Daniel Boone” was later replaced by “Salem House” as a codename for Cambodia operations. These missions provided intelligence on North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases located in Cambodia. Another objective of the Salem House operations was to determine the level of Cambodian Government support for the NVA and Viet Cong. The final codename for Cambodia was “Thot Not,” referring to a type of Mangrove tree that grows there. It should be noted that during the 1960s, leaflets were used extensively throughout Indochina. Examples are Operation Trail, a leaflet program against North Vietnamese troops on the Ho Chi Minh Trail; the Royal Lao Air Force Operation Fountain Pen, directed against North Vietnamese troops in Laos, and Operation Rice River, against North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia.

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Gen. Lon Nol

Prince Sihanouk

In March 1970, Gen. Lon Nol overthrew the neutral Prince Sihanouk and assumed power. The Cambodian monarchy was eliminated, and the pro-western leader renamed his nation the Khmer Republic. It became clear in April 1970 that North Vietnam was invading Cambodia. Three of Cambodia’s 17 provinces were occupied and five others were under heavy pressure. The Cambodians appealed to the Free World for aide against the invading North Vietnamese. The United States tried to quietly help the new government. On 17 April it sent 6,000 captured AK-47 rifles to Phnom Penh. The South Vietnamese also sent over 3,000 Civilian Irregular Defense Group troops of Khmer origin to Phnom Penh to support the new Khmer Army. The new government requested the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops. Instead, the Vietnamese increased their forces and returned several thousand Cambodians that had gone to North Vietnam in 1954. They became the Khmer Rouge (Red Khymer), trained and armed by the North Vietnamese. They would become infamous at the end of the war for murdering about 1.5 million of their own people by execution, starvation and forced labor.

This escalation of Communist forces probably led directly to the major Allied incursion into Cambodia in April 1970.

On 30 April 1970 Richard Nixon announced that six thousand Army of the Republic of Vietnam troops, supported by U.S. advisors, artillery, and fighter bombers had invaded Cambodia. He said in part;

Tonight American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters of the entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam. This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong for five years in blatant violation of Cambodia’s neutrality.

Carolyn Page mentions Nixon’s Cambodia fixation in U.S. Official Propaganda during the Vietnam War, 1965-1973, Leicester University Press, London, 1996. She quotes Henry Kissinger:

These recommendations [from General Abrams in Saigon requesting permission on 9 February 1969 to bomb the bases in Cambodia, a request seconded by U.S. Ambassador Bunker in Saigon] fell on fertile ground. In the transition period of 8 January 1969, the President-elect had sent me a note: “In making your study of Vietnam I want a precise report on what the enemy is doing in Cambodia, and what, if anything, we are doing to destroy the buildup there. I think a very definite change of policy toward Cambodia probably should be one of our first orders of business when we get in.

Apparently the bombing and leafleting of Cambodia stated in 1969 although it was highly classified. Specialist Fifth Class Paul Merrell was stationed in Vietnam from April 1968 until August 1970. He was a member of the 8th PSYOP Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group with a military operational specialty of 83F20, Offset Press Operator. During his three tours in Vietnam he worked in both HQ and the field in a number of diverse operations and positions. We talked about Cambodia and he told me:

In early 1969, nine enlisted men (including myself) and a captain from 4th Group Headquarters clandestinely entered Thailand aboard a diplomatic flight, then traveled to Utapao Royal Thai Air Force Base to load leaflet bombs for the initial B-52 bombing raids in Cambodia. Each of the enlisted men was recruited from a different company of the Group. Our task was to fill the need for leaflet bombs until a longer munitions chain could catch up. As I recall, the leaflets we loaded were produced by the 7th Group in Okinawa, had a photo of a B-52 dropping bombs on the front and a message in Cambodian script on the back. The leaflet bombs had the same dimensions as a standard Air Force 750-pound bomb but each was two fiberglass shells joined by Allen head bolts. Our task was to disassemble each pair, install a detonator in the nose, string detonation cord from the detonator along the lip of each side of one half shell, fill the bomb with leaflets, reassemble the shell halves, install a tail assembly, then transport each loaded bomb to a separate revetment at the airbase. The detonator assembly included an altimeter and as I recall the assembly was set to fire at something like 2,000 feet altitude, splitting the shells apart with the detonation cord, causing the loaded leaflets to begin disseminating. The B-52s operated in groups of three and one plane in each group delivered a single leaflet bomb along with its normal ordnance.

I do not recall the precise dates, but the general time frame was about March, 1969. I don't remember how many bombs we had to load daily but it was a small number, something like 6-10 loaded bombs per day to complete the mission. We worked a daily shift, on a rotating 6 days on and 3 days off schedule. The captain left it up to us how to meet the schedule and all but disappeared, checking in about once a week to make sure we were staying on schedule. The enlisted men pooled resources to rent a three-bedroom villa in the nearby Pataya Beach resort, and the three who were off work at any given point had the use of the villa.

Paul found out later that he was part of a highly classified operation called “Menu.” After the North Vietnamese launching of the “Mini-Tet” Offensive of 1969, President Nixon authorized the covert B-52 bombing of Cambodia. The first mission of Operation Menu was dispatched on 18 March and by the time it was completed 14 months later more than 3,000 sorties had been flown and 108,000 tons of ordnance had been dropped on eastern Cambodia. Paul concluded:

Nixon and Kissinger went out of their way to keep it secret. The Chiefs of Staff were kept out of the loop and I recall reading somewhere that even the B52 crews didn't know they were bombing Cambodia. They were steered to their drop targets by some radio beacons without ever being told which country they were bombing. We were told that the target was Cambodia. Perhaps it was because the leaflet messages written in Cambodian couldn't be hidden from us.

The Communists had forecast just such a possible attack. A captured July 1969 Viet Cong “battle plan” is mentioned by Larry Berman in Perfect Spy, Smithsonian Books, 2007:

If our attacks in all aspects are not sufficiently strong and if the Americans are able to temporarily overcome part of their difficulties, they will strive to prolong the war in South Vietnam…and carry out the de-Americanization in a prolonged war contest before they admit defeat and accept a political solution…in the case of a prolonged de-escalation, the Americans may…put pressure on us by threatening to broaden the war by expanding it into Cambodia.

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The 1970 Cambodia Incursions
Out of Bounds: Transnational Sanctuary in Irregular Warfare
Thomas A. Bruscino, Jr.

The South Vietnamese-American incursion into Cambodia was grouped into three main attacks each with its own code-name. The Vietnamese deployed more troops than the U.S. did, and probably as a result the code names were all in Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese II Corps and U.S. Field Force I attack was code-named Binh Tay (Tame the West).

The Vietnamese III Corps and U.S. Field Force II attack was code-named Toan Thang (Total Victory).

The Vietnamese IV Corps and U.S Delta Military Assistance Command advance was code-named Cuu Long (Mekong).

The American – South Vietnamese attacks were all along the Cambodian border so the enemy had a difficult time determining which advance was the major thrust. The primary allied assaults came in the center, and were aimed at the alleged locations of large supply bases and depots as well as the suspected location of the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), the headquarters that was believed to be running the war in the south. On 1 May 1970, B-52 bombers were used and ARVN airborne battalions air-assaulted behind enemy lines in an attempt to cut off the North Vietnamese retreat. At the same time, the American “Task Force Shoemaker” moved in from the south. The Americans found a major base that had belonged to the North Vietnamese 7th Division that contained over five hundred structures, including storage houses, barracks, a hospital, and mess halls. The Americans captured over 200 tons of weapons, ammunition, mines, explosives, and rice. On 6 May the American discovered another enormous supply depot. This one held over 300 tons of supplies and weapons, including Soviet-made artillery shells and trucks. On 23 May, the Americans found another large depot consisting of 59 buried bunkers filled with weapons and ammunition.

The North Vietnamese Army withdrew deeper into Cambodia. Altogether, the two months of incursions involved roughly 60,000 South Vietnamese and 50,000 American troops. The Allies probably killed at least 10,000 North Vietnamese Army troops and Viet Cong. It is estimated that they captured or destroyed tens of thousands of weapons, 1,800 tons of ammunition, over 8,000 tons of rice, and over a million pages of documents.

A slightly different look at the invasion was written by Stuart A. Herrington in Stalking the Viet Cong – Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal account, Ballantine Books, NY. Rather than see it as an attack on the North Vietnamese military, he found that the incursion had flushed out many cowardly commissars that were hiding in Cambodia to avoid the war. Herrington was looking for individuals and many of them were hiding and taking unauthorized rest and relaxation in Cambodia. He mentions one Communist official named Hai Chua and says in part:

The destruction of their Cambodian sanctuary had been disastrous for the Viet Cong. Overnight, Chua and his comrades had been denied the convenience of their medical facilities, schools, ammunition dumps and food storage sites. Cambodia “the rear” had been a place to go to escape the pressures of “the front.” The denial of these facilities had brought home to Chua and his fellow cadre that there was literally “no place to hide” from the increasingly lethal war.

Along with the military actions, the Allies used psychological operations (PSYOP). American aircraft dropped leaflets over Cambodia to inform communist troops that their sanctuaries were being attacked by a combined Vietnamese-American force. Other leaflets warned the communists to save themselves from the onslaught by surrendering. The United States was victorious on a small scale and seized Communist documents and supplies, but they did not break the back of the opposition, which simply moved deeper into Cambodia.

It was not only the United States that practiced psychological operations in Cambodia. The new Khmer Republic also produced some leaflets and posters. Shadow War author Ken Conboy adds some thoughts on PSYOP operations in the Khmer Republic. He sends notes taken from the U.S. Defense Attaché’s monthly assessment reports:

The Khmer National Armed Forces Force Armée Nationale Khmère (FANK) PSYOP campaign formally began in November 1972 with the formation of a Political Warfare Directorate within the General Staff. It provided administration for a political warfare brigade to be formed as the executive agent for FANK PSYOP operations.

In November 1972, President of the Khmer Republic Lon Nol appointed his people to positions in the Liberation and National Building Directorate (LEN). He appointed Colonel Thach Reng as LEN “Chief of Staff.” Besides this full-time assignment, Reng was the commander of the Khmer Special Forces. It is believed that LEN had a PSYOP component.

In December 1972, US government aircraft dropped 35 million copies of “Rally to the National Government” leaflets. This was the first use of U.S. aircraft in support of PSYOP efforts for FANK. The U.S. also dropped 300,000 copies of FANK Commander Sosthene Fernandez’s “First Order of the Day,” and 100,000 copies of Lon Nol’s ideas. All printing was done by the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa.

One source says that the codename for Allied PSYOP booklets prepared and disseminated in Cambodia was “Soap Chips.” Another source is more specific, saying that the code name was actually used in a SOG operation to place forged letters on the bodies of PAVN soldiers in Laos and Cambodia. The letters would contain anti-Regime propaganda and news about life at home and in the combat zone.

The declassified secret 1974 report Cambodian Psychological Study mentions some of the propaganda produced by both the National Government and the Communist insurgents. It discusses Sihanouk and points out that he decided early that the North Vietnamese would win and therefore ignored their presence, hoping that if he allowed the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to use his eastern border areas, the rest of the nation would be left in peace. As British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain discovered in 1938, appeasement does not work against a dedicated aggressor. The report also indicated that Sihanouk was a skillful propagandist and provided a façade of legitimacy to the Communist activities in Cambodia. The Communists regularly used his name to gain the support of the people.

The report states that the Cambodian Government PSYOP efforts were disorganized. The Force Armée Nationale Khmère dropped leaflets but kept no records. Leaflets and posters were printed by the Ministry of Information and propaganda teams were sent into the countryside by the Ministry of Community Development. There were attempts to coordinate these various programs, but they never came to fruition.

The government did have one C-47 aerial loudspeaker-equipped aircraft that was also used to disseminate aerial propaganda leaflets. The South Vietnamese Air Force would sometimes provide aircraft for leaflet dropping when requested. The government also had eight truck-mounted loudspeakers. They were used to make public announcements and rally public support for the government.

The Communist Khmer Rouge also used psychological operations. Five Communist radio stations broadcast in the Cambodian language; Radio Peking, Radio Moscow, Hanoi International, Liberation Radio and the Voice of the Front of Kampuchea.

The Communists also prepared leaflets. They were aimed at both Communist and Government-controlled areas. The former indoctrinated Cambodians in the history of the struggle for freedom, liberty from U.S. imperialism, and class struggle. The propaganda for the government areas included warning on imminent attacks, calls to evacuate to the “liberated” areas, inciting government and military leaders to defect, inciting workers to strike for better wages and working conditions and encouraging criticism of the National Government.

The communists also made great use of face-to-face communications. They used propaganda teams and in some cases intellectuals who had joined the cause, doctors, teachers, Buddhist monks and former government officials.

When one reads the various secret documents prepared during and after the Cambodian Incursion it is interesting to note how little they actually say. An example is the classified secret 26 November 1971 United States Senate Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations – Assistance to the Khmer Republic (Cambodia).

This senate study of activities in Cambodia notes that about $520,000 in U.S. funds were identified as being spent on psychological operations, but nobody is sure of the exact amount. The money was spent by the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Embassy Thailand and the 7th PSYOP Group - Okinawa and Thailand. The money was appropriated by the Military Assistance Program (MAP) and the Agency for International Development (AID).

About $200,000 went to purchase 67,000 pocket-size battery-operated radios to be distributed in rural areas. The 7th PSYOP Group billed about $250,000 for printing support to Cambodia. Both of these payments were from the Pacific Command Psychological Operations Fund. The United States gave about $70,000 to radio Cambodia, mostly parts and equipment. It also loaned a 10 kilowatt portable transmitter to improve the medium wave signal.

Even more interesting, the Central Intelligence Agency representative stated that he had just four to six persons in Cambodia and they only gathered information. The CIA “was not training, and had not in the past trained, any police or paramilitary personnel for Cambodia…” The U.S. Ambassador told the Senate that he was satisfied that the CIA were only gathering information in Cambodia.

By coincidence, I recently spoke to a friend who claimed to have jumped into Cambodia. He said that there were about five teams of American troops from mixed services, each made up of five men, all in sanitized uniforms. His 0300 mission was to remove a village leader and get out quickly by helicopter extraction. He thought now that he was probably working for the CIA, but he was not sure. It sounds more like SOG. The strangest thing was that he claims he was told that before they selected him that they went back to his basic training days and discovered that he had 62 out of 63 hits on target at the rifle range. They wanted an airborne qualified trooper who was also an expert rifleman. His story of a jump into Cambodia seemed rather strange but further research indicated that the United States recognizes (quietly) 13 separate static line jumps over North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia under operations Eldest Son, Italian Green and Pole Bean. The missions are unknown but listed with a question mark as “to sabotage enemy ammunition supply?”

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Unofficial SOG Pro-War Medallion

I don’t know exactly why I am adding this gold medallion, but it connects to both SOG and Cambodia. When the Studies and Observation Group troopers needed a break from the field they would go to what we might call a “safe house” in Bangkok, Thailand, for R&R. At about that time the anti-war crowd and “hippies” were wearing the peace symbol. The SOG guys got together and had these gold medallions made at a nearby jewelers. Instead of a peace sign they say “War.” These are very rare and just a dozen or so were produced. SOG veterans have been offered a thousand dollars for them, but hold them sacred.

 

Another story that sounds like a tall tale involves a soldier who had been given a major credit card in Cambodia and tried to use it as proof of a credit history at a U.S. bank a dozen years later. The bank told him that credit card did not exist. It turns out that the CIA had issued the card and any bills that came in for that card were sent directly to the CIA for payment from black funds. The card worked wonderfully, but did not exist. It all sounds like magic, but it shows how men could be fighting a war in a foreign country and yet there is no proof that they were ever there.

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Pol Pot

Meanwhile, the new Khmer Republic’s leadership was plagued by a lack of unity and corruption. They were unable to transform their small 30,000-man army into a national combat force of more than 200,000 men. The insurgency grew stronger as Pol Pot took control and became known as a Communist leader who was both tough and merciless. The Khmer Rouge forces became stronger and more independent of their Vietnamese patrons. By 1974, they controlled all but small enclaves around the cities and main transportation routes.

On 1 January 1975, communist troops launched an offensive that, in 117 days defeated the Khmer Republic. The United States promised help, but just as in Vietnam the Congress refused additional aid for Cambodia so the airlift of ammunition and never got off the ground. Phnom Penh surrendered on 17 April 1975. The “Domino Theory” became real as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all fell to the Communists.

Operation Camel Path

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Supplies being transported down the trail

The leafleting of North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia was a secret campaign known as Operation Camel Path, The declassified top secret report MACVSOG Command History, Volume II, 1967 reported that during late 1966 and 1967, the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) conducted an intensive PSYWAR campaign against North Vietnamese army troops located along the Cambodian border with South Vietnam.

In late November 1967, MACV established Operation Camel Path. The mission was to conduct leaflet operations against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army using Cambodian territory as a sanctuary and routes of infiltration into the Republic of Vietnam. The Commander, 7th Air Force was tasked with the responsibility of carrying out the leaflet drops.

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C-47 dropping leaflets

In an effort to minimize violation of Cambodian air space, MACV first used the wind drift method of leaflet dissemination, whereby aircraft flew along the border and used favorable wind currents to carry leaflets a few miles inside Cambodia. This method proved to be unreliable because it required the winds to be moving in a specific direction at a specific speed. On 13 March 1967 permission was given for Cambodian over-flights 15-20 kilometers inside Cambodia in limited areas for a six-month test, to be accomplished by cargo aircraft at night at an altitude of from 6,000 to 10,000 feet. Four sorties a week were authorized. Leaflets were to be in the Vietnamese language and use all the themes mentioned during the “Trail Campaign” against troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in South Vietnam.

Strangely, Cambodian language leaflets would not be prepared since it was feared that King Sihanouk might use them to complain that the Allies were meddling in Cambodian internal affairs. Nobody wanted to drive Sihanouk further into the Communist camp. We will depict some Cambodian language leaflets near the end of this article to show that they were prepared later in the war.

A three-month and six-month evaluation of the program indicated no increase in defection rates among the NVA troops moving south. However, those troops that did defect said that the leaflets were an influencing factor.

U.S. leaflet drops from Cambodian air space were never officially acknowledged. In fact, the Secretary of Defense forwarded the following guidance:

Under no circumstances will anyone having knowledge about these operations acknowledge that leaflets are being dropped over Cambodia. Public comments on this subject whether on background, off the record, or any other basis are prohibited. Following line, not to be volunteered, should be used in Saigon (and will be followed in Washington) in answering any press queries on a background basis: "We have for sometime been dropping leaflets in South Vietnamese border areas, Given wind drift, we assume some of these leaflets have been falling inside Cambodia. Leaflets are directed at Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces in support of the Chieu Hoi program.” It goes on to say: "In the event of incidents involving loss of US personnel or aircraft...spokesman may acknowledge possibility of inadvertent entry into Cambodia air space by elements operating in SVN as a result of navigational error.

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Leaflet CP-09

The leaflets coded “CP” are extremely rare and were highly classified. They were used in Cambodia by American troops that were not supposed to be there. The CP stood for the classified operation name “Camel Path.” These leaflets were not to be mixed with other leaflets and were only to be dropped over Cambodia. And of course, the words “Camel Path” were not to be spoken. The leaflet is text at the top with an arrow pointing to the official 7-flag safe conduct pass used in Vietnam. The text on the front is:

You can avoid this hopeless fate. Use the pass to cross the front line and come back to live under the protection of the Government of Vietnam. The pass bears this symbol.

The back of the leaflet depicts a dead North Vietnamese soldier and the text:

Why did this young man from North Vietnam come to die here, outside the mud wall of a lonely outpost in Ba Long? His place should have been at his home, in his farm, where his labor is needed to help feed his compatriots in the north. Instead, he has been sent to the South and assigned the hopeless job of storming into an outpost defended by the people of the South. What did he hope to achieve by his suicidal attempt? To "liberate" the people of the South as he had been told by his Communist masters? But why do the people that he is supposed to liberate build mud walls and plant bamboo spikes to keep the liberators out? Perhaps, at the last minute he saw the truth. But, it was too late. The Labor Party has already spent him like an expendable item in its bid to take over South Vietnam.

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Leaflet 1389A

This leaflet was part of a mix that we mention just below this entry. It depicts the back of the 7-flag safe conduct pass usually signed by Thieu or Ky on the front. The back is all text. Although it does not bear the “CP” code, we know it was dropped on North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia. The text on the front is:

To friends on the other side of the front line

You will be treated deservedly once you leave the Communist ranks to return to the Country and the Nation. You will live in peace under the protection and help of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

You will be greeted as loved ones by your compatriots. You will be provided all articles for everyday use until you will have had a new life. Should you bring in a weapon, you will be rewarded a monetary amount adequate to the value of the weapon.

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A Full Uncut Sheet of Camel Path Leaflets

Since the operation was secret the Camel Path leaflets were all printed at the same time and not mixed with other leaflets for Vietnam proper. On this sheet I see CP-03A, CP-05A, CP-06A, CP-08A, CP-09, CP-55A, CP-1387A, and R-2. This is an interesting mix. The seven “A” leaflets all seem to be “additional,” or leaflets that bear some text or images in common with leaflets to Vietnam. So even though these were classified secret, apparently they stole much of the propaganda from standard leaflets for Vietnam. The R-2 is even more interesting. It is a scrap leaflet designed to fill in an empty place on the sheet so the printers get full value out of every sheet.

To give an example of the way the leaflets were prepared and dropped I note from a leaflet order sent to the 7th group for a mix of six Camel Path leaflets ordered in November 1967 for dissemination in January 1968. The leaflets are CP-02, 08A, 09, 10, 55A, and 1389A. All are black and white and sized 3 x 6-inches. 5 million of each was ordered. They would be placed in a mix and dropped together. The leaflets were forwarded to the respective PSYOP stationed in the I, II and III Corps areas. 15,000,000 were for 245th PSYOP Company in Pleiku, 10,000,000 for the 246th PSYOP Company in Bien Hoa and 5,000,000 for 19th PSYOP Company Can Tho.

I might also mention an after-action report of the 4th Division dated 21 July 1970 that states in regard to the Cambodian incursion:

Psychological operations were initially geared toward the exploitation of Hoi Chanh, supply and weapons caches, and significant victories. When the number of enemy personnel in the area proved to be limited, enough to lessen the possibility of Hoi Chanhs and major tactical victories, propaganda efforts were shifted toward the exploitation of discovered supply and weapons caches. Leaflets were also developed to inform the civilian populace of the purpose of the operation and to tell them how to protect themselves.  A total of 4,320,000, leaflets were dropped in Base Area 702 during the conduct of the operation. 180,000 of those leaflets were directed at the civilian population.

During the period 7-11 May 1970 more than three million leaflets were dropped in Cambodia. They were JUSPAO leaflets and were a standard surrender/POW mix. Chieu Hoi leaflets, like the ones we used in South Vietnam could not be used because there was no Chieu Hoi Program in Cambodia.  Leaflet operations were also conducted in Vietnam in the 4th Division’s area of operation.    Leaflets were developed by A Company, 8th PSYOP Battalion. at Nha Trang and targeted against communist forces in the RVN.  The following special leaflets and tapes targeted against the enemy and the civilian populace were developed by B Company,  8th PSYOP Battalion in Pleiku.  8-B-142-70 leaflet and tape message directed toward Jari Montagnards living in Cambodia.  A total of two hours aerial loudspeaker time was conducted on 12 and 13 May.  Three special leaflets (8-B-141-70, and 8-B-144-70) were developed and employed against enemy troops in Cambodia to exploit the fact that they were no longer safe in Cambodia sanctuaries. US and ARVN forces were now in Cambodia and would remain so there was no choice except surrender.  A rice denial leaflet (8~B-148-70) was developed and disseminated to exploit the capture of more than 500 tons of enemy rice by ARVN and US Elements.   

The declassified secret USAF report: Psychological Operations Air Support in Southeast Asia June 1968 – May 1971 mentions operations in Cambodia.

The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in conjunction with Khmer Communists operated throughout Cambodia against the Government of the Khmer Republic seeking to reestablish base areas from which they could attack the Republic of Vietnam. Camps for allied prisoners were located in Cambodia. USAF was engaged in air activity over Cambodia in 1970 and 1971. All of these situations were subject to psychological exploitation, and there were psychological operations requiring USAF support as early as 1967 that did exploit the opportunities. But by 1971 the effort had greatly increased and there were at least four major psychological programs in being, with additional programs in the planning stage, which required the support of USAF and VNAF aircraft.

Public safety operations dropped leaflets directed at the indigenous Cambodians warning them of impending air strikes by USAF aircraft. These public safety messages which were dropped by the 9th Special Operations Squadron 12-24 hours prior to air attacks were strongly supported by 7th Air Force and developed jointly by 7th Air Force and the 4th PSYOP Group. In addition to the leaflets, there were also loudspeaker operations which supported the safety program. Leaflets which supported the safety theme urged the Cambodian civilian population to find safe areas and stay off roads, bridges, trails, and waterways which were combat areas.

Another major psychological operation in Cambodia was the program called “Rice River.” It was a strategic leaflet and broadcast campaign supported solely by 7th AF assets directed against VC/NVA forces located in Cambodia. The same program had been called “Camel Path” in 1967, but later in 1970, it was called operation “Switchblade” with a 1970 monthly level of dissemination of 60 million anti-NVA/VC leaflets.

Frantic Goat missions were missions supporting a variety of different programs and called “Frantic Goat” only because of the type of aircraft that flew the mission. Cambodia was one of the three countries in which Frantic Goat missions were flown. The C-130 aircraft flew out of Nha Trang AB, RVN, with loads of 12 million leaflets per sortie into various parts of

Cambodia. Frantic Goat missions in Cambodia averaged about 46 million leaflets per month. This leaflet campaign was directed toward Cambodians, offering payment for information and assistance leading to the release or rescue of downed U.S. flyers or other detained allied personnel.

LEAFLETS

When we discuss leaflets for Cambodia we are talking about three main types. The first is leaflets in the Vietnamese language for North Vietnamese troops and workers on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia. The second category is leaflets that are in both the Vietnamese and Cambodian language and meant to be read by both the North Vietnamese and the Cambodian Communist troops and civilians. The third type is leaflets just in the Cambodian language meant only for the Cambodian Communist troops and civilians who might reside along the trail in areas that could be bombed or strafed. The first type is by far the most common, followed by the second and the third.

Type One Leaflets – Vietnamese Language

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Leaflet T-1-CP-C

The first leaflet we depict has a code bearing the “T” for “Trail,” The “CP” for “Camel Path,” and the “C” for Cambodia. The number “1” implies that it was the first of this series. Leaflet T-1-CP-C depicts a weeping NVA soldier beside the unmarked grave of his dead comrade in Cambodia.  The text on the front is:

WE WILL NEVER RETURN TO ANCESTRAL SOIL

The back is all text:

He too was a courageous soldier who fought the “People’s War” so far from home. Like you, he left his loved ones to follow the “just cause” extolled by the Lao Dong Party of North Vietnam. Who stands beside his shallow Cambodian grave so far from home and who mourns his courageous death? His family joyfully awaits his triumphant return, not knowing his fate. His Party leaders praise his noble death while sending others to take his place. The ‘just cause” of the Lao Dong Party has not rewarded him properly. The fate of the unmarked grave on Cambodian soil, of preying jungle beasts, awaits your dying breath.

Another example is leaflet T-4-CP-C entitled “You are no longer able to use Cambodian Territory to rest and resupply” and depicts a map showing the Vietnamese soldier exactly where he is fighting. Leaflet T-5-CP-C shows a similar map and is entitled “Your former sanctuaries are now battlefields littered with your dead and wounded.” A third map is on leaflet T-11-CP-C with the text, “Where is your sanctuary now?”

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CP-02

The reader probably wonders why a leaflet coded P-01 is in this section. The answer is that leaflets were sometimes used on more than one occasion and with different code numbers. This same leaflet was also dropped as CP-02. It depicts Vietnamese troops marching; first six healthy soldiers, then four, and finally two raggedy survivors. The text on the front is:

Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow

The text on the back is:

WHERE ARE YOUR COMRADES?

Where are all your comrades that started the march South?

How many fell victim to malaria enroute?

How many have been killed by the RVNAF and the allied forces?

Why continue fighting against your compatriots?

Save your lives first!

Believe in the Government of Vietnam’s promise of life and good treatment.

Use the safe conduct pass as thousands of others have.

Another series of leaflets were coded with both a “T” and an “SPC.” Once again the “T” is clearly for “Trail.” Early in the war the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) coded their leaflets with an “SP” for “Special Project.” In this case, the “SPC” could indicate “Special Project Campaign” or “Special Project Cambodia.” Many of the leaflets in this series bear maps and have such titles as “We are determined to put an end to the Communist sanctuaries and restore sovereignty and Neutrality to the Cambodia border” or depict a safe conduct pass and the title “Do not sacrifice your life needlessly.”

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Leaflet T-1-SPC

Leaflet T-1-SPC depicts a map of the Cambodian sanctuary and warns the North Vietnamese troops and workers that their days of peaceful rest and relaxation are over. The text is:

We are determined to put an end to the communist sanctuaries and restore sovereignty and neutrality to the Cambodian people.

The back is all text and says in part:

YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT…

On 1 May 1970, at 0900 hours Indo-China time, the President of the United States called the Free World’s attention to North Vietnam’s violation of Cambodia’s sovereignty and neutrality.

President Nixon stated: “Cambodia, a small county of seven million people, has been a neutral nation since the Geneva Agreement of 1954. This agreement was signed by the Government of North Vietnam.

North Vietnam has stripped away all pretense of respecting the sovereignty and neutrality of Cambodia. Thousands of their soldiers are invading the country from sanctuaries; they are encircling the capitol of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has sent out a call for assistance.”

President Nixon further asserted: “We will not allow our men to be killed by an enemy in privileged sanctuaries…American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters of the entire communist military operation…Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and their military supplies destroyed, we will withdraw.”

For the aforementioned reason we are determined to put an end to the communist sanctuaries and restore sovereignty and neutrality to the Cambodian people.

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Leaflet 4-33-70

The United States Army 4th PSYOP Group prepared this leaflet in June 1970 for Vietnamese troops in Cambodia to warn them that their sanctuaries will be bombed.

This is just one of about a dozen similar leaflets produced by the Group. The leaflet depicts a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter releasing a bomb and the text:

THE BOMBS ARE COMING TO YOUR UNIT

The back is all text:

COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERS IN CAMBODIA

Your violation of Cambodia’s neutrality will no longer be tolerated. You no longer have a sanctuary here. The bombs are already seeking out your units and war supplies. Your weapons are of little use against the devastation coming to you. Save your lives – leave your units and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to rejoin your family.

The same image and front appears on 4-35-70. The message on the back is different:

COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERS IN CAMBODIA

Cambodia has been a neutral nation ever since it became independent many years ago. But your leaders violate this neutrality by making you bring the machines and supplies of war into Cambodia. Now you have no sanctuaries. Why die needlessly on foreign soil where you do not belong? Save your lives – leave your unit and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to join your family.

Leaflet 4-34-70 is all text on the front and back and designed to encourage enemy desertion due to fear of bombing. The text on the front and back is:

You and your supplies and war materials will continue to be bombed!

Save your lives – Stay away from military equipment and hide in the jungle.

The US Air Force in Vietnam, 1965-1968 mentions a similar propaganda leaflet to Communist troops in Cambodia:

DEAR COMMUNIST FRIENDS

The strength of our allies is showing itself in operations along the Cambodian/ Vietnam border. They are there to help the people liberate Communist slaves. The government will welcome you and is waiting for you to return to the rightful cause of our nation. Now you are hungry and cold. Your life consists of stealing through the forest and living in an unhealthy climate. You were met with a cold welcome and when you die your body will be placed in an unmarked tomb which no one will tend.

Come back to the righteous cause. You will be welcome and will receive enough clothing, food and medicine and can make a new life.

Walk to the East where you will meet our allies. Wave a cloth or a handbill. Place your gun on your back with the barrel pointing to the ground. You will be welcomed for returning to make a new life in freedom and truth.

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Leaflet 4402

This leaflet depicts one truck on the Ho Chi Minh Trail with another burning truck to its left. The text is:

A North Vietnamese truck convoy under air attack on the Ho Chi Minh Trail

The back is all text. Part of the message is:

COMMUNIST CADRES AND SOLDIERS OF NORTH VIETNAM

Look at the picture on the other side of this leaflet and you will see the extent of damage inflicted on every North Vietnamese truck convoy moving supplies to South Vietnam. Of the entire convoy only one truck managed to escape safely. These convoys are the source of much-needed supplies sent to Communist cadres and troops who are now committed to the war of aggression in Laos and Cambodia, as well as the destructive activities in South Vietnam that have been given the attractive label of ‘liberation.”

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Leaflet 3791

We mention the May 1970 Cambodian incursion above. During that invasion there was an entire series of Allied leaflets entitled “Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia.” The language of the leaflets was Vietnamese and the theme was to undermine the North Vietnamese Army’s willingness to fight. In every case there is a statement that “JUSPAO will produce 13 sets of glossy prints of this leaflet…to be used for mass printing.” All of the leaflets depict a scene of captured weapons on the front and the text:

Your weapon caches are now in our hands.

In all cases, the back is all text. Some examples are:

Leaflet 3788 was printed in May 1970 and depicts two photographs of weapons and ammunition piled on the ground. The text on the back tells the North Vietnamese that there so-called “sanctuaries ” in Cambodian territory are being attacked and destroyed by combined Vietnamese-American forces.

Leaflet 3789 was printed in May 1970 and depicts a soldier kneeling over a cache of mortar rounds (same as leaflet 3792). The text on the back tells the North Vietnamese that for many years they were able to hide in Cambodia but now everything has been destroyed. It says that South Vietnam now has all the weapons that the North Vietnamese were unable to carry in their attempt to escape.

Leaflet 3790 was printed in May 1970 and depicts captured rocket launchers. The text on the back tells the North Vietnamese that the rockets were manufactured in the Soviet Union and carried into Cambodia, but have now been captured by the Republic of Vietnam and friendly forces.

Leaflet 3791 was printed in May 1970 and depicts Allied soldiers stacking rifles and other captured weapons. The text on the back tells the North Vietnamese that Allied troops have entered Cambodia and captured a large number of Russian and Chinese-produced weapons and ammunition.

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Leaflet 3792

Leaflet 3792 was printed in May 1970 and depicts a soldier kneeling over a cache of mortar rounds. The text on the back explains that the shells had been manufactured by Communist China and brought into Cambodia for attacks against South Vietnam.

Leaflet 3793 was printed in May 1970 and depicts weapons and ammunition piled up on the ground. The text on the back says that the automatic weapons and ammunition were carried into Cambodia by the North Vietnamese to be used in attacks on South Vietnam.

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Leaflet 3914

Although leaflet 3914 was not part of the original series using the Cambodian incursion as a theme, it clearly used the same general propaganda argument to demoralize the enemy in Cambodia and encourage them to defect to the National Government of South Vietnam. The front depicts rockets still on their launchers (same as leaflet 3790) and the back depicts soldiers standing by captured weapons and a second photograph of crates of captured war materials. Some of the text is:

GREAT VICTORY OF VIETNAM FORCES

The military operations for exterminating the Communists along the Vietnam-Cambodia border have resulted in a great victory for the Vietnamese forces. Government forces have killed over 9,000 Communists, captured 10,000 tons of rice and 17,000 tons of weapons of every type. This booty is great than all that was captured by the government in 1969.

Hanoi’s dreams of using their sanctuaries in Cambodia to attack the Republic of Vietnam have vanished. The installations which the Communists built in the last ten years have vanished. How can you escape sudden death that haunts you every hour?

To avoid a horrible death on Cambodian soil, you should rally immediately to the Republic of Vietnam Government. You will be treated well and able to live freely in the Republic of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 3873

There was thousands of ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia. They had lived in relative peace for hundreds of years. Once the Lon Nol government took over in Cambodia, there were a number of ethnic cleansing attacks on the Vietnamese by the Cambodian army. For instance, it was reported that the Cambodians killed over 200 Vietnamese civilians in the town of Takeo. Time Magazine of 27 April 1970 reported the massacre thusly:

TIME'S Robert Anson and T.D. Allman arrived in Takeo, 50 miles from Phnom-Penh; only hours after Cambodian soldiers had gunned down more than 150 Vietnamese. The victims included 110 men, 30 boys under the age of eleven, half a dozen government officials of Vietnamese extraction, and an unknown number of women and girls.

These attacks were justified by the Cambodians with the claim that the Vietnamese were all Viet Cong. The Allies used the disruption of life among the Vietnamese in an attempt to claim that it was all because of the North Vietnamese in Cambodia. The leaflet depicts Vietnamese returning to Vietnam with all their belongings in a cart pulled by two water buffalos. The text on the front is:

Vietnamese residents use every means to evacuate their families and property back to their native land.

The all-text message on the back is:

RETURN TO THE NATIVE LAND OF VIETNAM

With the wholehearted assistance of the Republic of Vietnam Army, the Vietnamese residents in Cambodia are using every means to evacuate their families and property back to their native land.

Looking at the picture here, you may feel the suffering of the people who must abandon their homes, property and livelihood to flee the perils caused by the North Vietnamese Communists.

To alleviate the suffering of the people, you must stop fighting and join the people by returning to the National government. You will enjoy a life of freedom. By doing so, you have contributed to cutting short the suffering of the people.

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Leaflet 4225

There were a number of Allied leaflets to the Communists that mentioned the loss of the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville where vast amounts of war materials were brought in by sea. Leaflet 4225 depicts a Communist soldier in the middle of Cambodia realizing that his supplies by truck from the north and ship from the south has been cut off. The text is:

Since May, 1970, the Communist sanctuaries have been destroyed and the Sihanoukville seaport has ceased to bring you supplies and equipment.

You have been fighting in Cambodia for many months without enough supplies. Because of these shortages, Communist forces have suffered one defeat after another.

The Republic of Vietnam Air Force is raiding the Communists last remaining supply route through southern Laos. Your situation will become worse and worse. If you continue to fight, you will die for this increasingly hopeless cause. Find a way to return to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 7-719-71

There were actually a number of leaflets created by the 7th PSYOP Battalion that mentioned Cambodia. The PSYOP Reports for March and April 1971 give some examples:

Leaflet 7-719-71 is entitled “Do not believe your Political Commissars,” depicts a Chieu Hoi symbol and says in part:

Cambodia was once a rear base for the communists where they hid their supplies and established their recuperation camps. These bases were torn down by the ARVN in the past year. Prince Sihanouk had allowed the communists to establish a military base in Cambodia…The ARVN operation has cut off the main communist supply artery. You can feel it yourself: the gnawing of starvation, the aggravation of disease and the increasing threat of death….

Leaflet 7-816A-71 is all text with the title “Rally to avoid hardships” and bears the Chieu Hoi symbol. It says in part:

Your Party cadres have deceived you with harsh lies…Cambodia and Laos provided you with safe sanctuaries to hide…Your reserve caches in Cambodia and Laos are now destroyed. Your strength is low, your food is short and your supply routes are closed…Rally, allow yourselves to be captured or surrender…

There are many other such leaflets but they are mostly all text so we just show one.

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Leaflet 4595

This leaflet was prepared on 10 November 1972 and is entitled: "People’s Army of Vietnam to return Home." It depicts children lighting Tet fireworks on the front and a boy leading a buffalo on the back. It mentions the coming ceasefire and how the North Vietnamese troops will soon be returning home. It says in part:

The leadership of North Vietnam and the United States has agreed to the terms of a cease fire as proposed by President Nixon on 8 May. To insure compliance with the ceasefire, the agreement will provide for international supervision. The North Vietnamese soldiers in Laos and Cambodia should be home soon, long before Tet Quy Suu [Year of the Buffalo]. Ask the Communist Party cadre when your loved ones will be returning home – begin planning for the happiest Tet in memory.

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Leaflet 4598

This leaflet was prepared by JUSPAO on 10 November 1972. It is late in the war and the United States is pushing for a ceasefire. The leaflet targets North Vietnamese civilians and soldiers. It says in part:

Within 60 days of the signing of the cease fire agreement ending the war in Indochina, all remaining U.S. and Korean forces will be withdrawn. The ceasefire agreement contains a section on Cambodia and Laos in which parties to the agreement agree that foreign countries will withdraw their forces from Cambodia and Laos. With the signing of the agreement, all North Vietnamese forces must be withdrawn from Cambodia and Laos in order to comply with the provisions of the agreement and the policies of the North Vietnamese Communist party.

There were about a dozen JUSPAO leaflets all printed on 10 November 1972 with the same general message; that with the signing of the ceasefire all Vietnamese troops would soon return home. I note leaflets 4596 entitled “PAWN to depart Cambodia,”4597 entitled “Peace returns to Indochina,” and 4600 entitled “PAVN to depart Cambodia and Laos.” The other leaflets in this series mention troops going home, but not specifically Laos and Cambodia.

Lieutenant General John H. Hay Jr. discusses a tactical leaflet drop used against Cambodian-bound Communist troops in Vietnam Studies – Tactical and Materiel Innovations, Department of the Army, Washington D.C. 1989. We don’t have a specimen of the actual leaflet, but the text and result of the operation is so interesting that I thought we should mention it. Hay says in part:

On 13 May 1970 an agent reported that within Phong Dinh Province some 300 local force Viet Cong were to be recruited and sent to Cambodia as replacements for North Vietnamese Army units that had suffered heavy losses. The information was passed to the U.S. intelligence adviser and the province adviser for psychological operations. By 1600 on the same day, the psychological operations staff had prepared a leaflet capitalizing on the raw intelligence information. The priority target selected for the operation was the area of Phong Dinh Province, which was known to harbor hard-core Viet Cong. The province adviser for psychological operations and the S-5 adviser arranged to have the leaflets distributed throughout the appropriate districts during that night and the next day. Late in the evening on 14 May, the first Hoi Chanh rallied in Phung Hiep District with a copy of a leaflet on the Stationery of the Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division, red flag with stars and all. By 23 May, twenty-eight Viet Cong had rallied, stating that they had done so because they were afraid of being sent to Cambodia. The leaflet read in English and Vietnamese:

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL

AVDB-CG                                                                                                       22 March 1967

SUBJECT:              Unsoldierly Conduct of Officers of Cong Truong 9

TO:                 Commanding General
                        Cong Truong 9
                        HT 86500 YK

Dear General:

This is to advise you that during the battle of Ap Bau Bang. On 20 March the Regimental Commander of Q763 and his battalion commanders disgraced themselves by performing in an unsoldierly manner. 

During this battle with elements of this Division and attached units your officers failed to accomplish their mission and left the battlefield covered with dead and wounded from their units. 

We have buried your dead and taken care of your wounded from this battle.

                                                              Sincerely

                                                                        J. H. Hay
                                                                        Major General USA
                                                                        Commanding

Captain Edward N. Voke, S2 (Intelligence) staff officer of the 6th PSYOP Battalion considered this leaflet one of the best he had seen:

One of the most effective leaflets I ever saw was printed after one of the battles in 1966 or 1967. A U.S. Infantry Division Commanding General wrote a letter to the enemy division Commanding General (on regular 2-star stationery; English on one side & Vietnamese on the other), informing him that his North Vietnamese troops had disgraced themselves on the field of battle. The American general said that he had buried the North Vietnamese dead and was carrying for the wounded; and if he could do anything else, to please contact him.  We later heard the full background on that battle. Apparently, the U.S. forces were beating and pushing back the North Vietnamese slowly, and the enemy was pulling back in good order. Then, a North Vietnamese machine-gunner in the center platoon panicked, jumped up and ran to the rear. Seeing this, other troops around him also began to run to the rear and it opened up the center of the North Vietnamese defense. The American forces exploited the sudden weakness and caved in the enemy with terrible losses to the North Vietnamese.

If the enemy Battalion Commander knew what caused the rout he probably didn’t want to tell his boss. The American Commanding General’s nice letter let the North Vietnamese Army Commanding General let everyone in the immediate vicinity know of the division’s cowardice. I heard that many copies of the letter were dropped over the enemy’s area of operations. We later heard that the North Vietnamese battalion and regiment commanders were relieved. This was by far the best PSYOP leaflet I ever saw by a US combat unit.

Leaflets designed for the Ho Chi Minh Trail and North Vietnam

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Leaflet T-19

This leaflet depicts a group of happy North Vietnamese soldiers who have come over to the Republic of South Vietnam. The text on the front is:

These former Northern soldiers are safe, comfortable and happy in a Southern camp. Think of your family. Think of Vietnam. Don’t throw your life away fighting for an evil and lost cause.

The back has a long all-text message. Some of the text is:

NORTHERN SOLDIERS

Why are you going South? You are going because the Party has sent you. Why has the Party sent you? Because the Party wants to rule the South. Do the people in the South want to be liberated? No! …You dishonor your family and your country if you kill your compatriots who want to be free of Party control….

The United States military constantly tried to stop traffic down the Ho Chi Minh Trail from North Vietnam. In one case over 100 leaflets were prepared coded with a “T” to indicate that they were meant to be dropped on North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In a second campaign, 151 leaflets were dropped on North Vietnam. Cambodia was a big part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail so there are a number of leaflets known to have been dropped on Vietnamese soldiers along the Trail in Cambodia. I will just mention one month; November 1967, when the 6th PSYOP Battalion requested leaflets to be printed by the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa. During that month many of the leaflets although not mentioning Cambodia, were disseminated over that country.

During November 1967, 5 million copies of leaflet T-07 (You will never see one of these) were printed and all were dropped over Cambodia. 20 million copies of T-19 (Northern Soldiers), T-21 (Northern soldiers – this trail is a one-way street), T23 (Soldiers from the North Coming South) and T-25 (To North Vietnamese fighters) were dropped on Cambodia.

As for the North Vietnam bombing campaigns, 15 million copies of leaflet 82 (Poem - To the other side of the front lines) were printed and 10 million were dropped on Cambodia. 25 million copies of leaflet 89 (Tet message - New Spring Greetings) were printed, and 11 million were dropped on Cambodia.

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Australian Leaflet ATF-087-71

The Australian 1st Psychological Operations Unit also prepared a number of leaflets that mention Cambodia. Their theme is that if the Ho Chi Minh Trail can be cut off, the Communist units will become vulnerable due to a lack of weapons and ammunition. The Australians printed about 50,000 of these leaflets on 23 February 1971 and disseminated them by aircraft. The front depicts a Chieu Hoi symbol and the text:

Rally to the Cause - CHIEU HOI - CHIEU HOI

The back depicts grinning skulls and the text:

You have heard of the successful Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces operations in Laos. Large Republic of Vietnam Armed Force units are also operating in Cambodia to close this supply and escape route.

About 5,000 copies of a second all-text Australian leaflet coded ATF-08-70 bears the following message:

News Report for the People of Phuoc Tuy

The Government of Vietnam Military Operations in Cambodia

1. As you know for many years now the communist aggressors of the National Liberation Front and Lao Dong (Communist Party) have waged war against the peace loving peoples of South Vietnam from sanctuaries in Cambodia where they keep large military forces, weapons, ammunition, medicines, food and other essential supplies.

2. In response to a call for help from the Cambodian Government the Government of Vietnam ordered Army of Vietnam troops to cross over to Cambodia and attack the Communist forces and their base areas.

3. The result of the Government of Vietnam and allied military operations has been even greater than was expected up to 31 May 70.

7,519 Communist soldiers were killed
11,641 Weapons of different types were captured.
184 Vehicles were destroyed.
Huge quantities of ammunition, medicines and other essential military supplies were captured.

4. The Army of Vietnam has also saved many Vietnamese immigrants who are now safe and happy back in South Vietnam.

Type Two Leaflets – Vietnamese and Cambodia Language

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Slogan Leaflet 1587

Many of the leaflets simply had patriotic slogans on them. This January 1967 22 x 8-inch slogan sheet could be hung on a wall or taped to a pole. Each was printed with a Vietnamese and Cambodian language slogan. Seven slogans were produced in this series. They are:

1. Let’s destroy the Viet Cong in order to maintain our security.
2.The Viet Cong are still alive, our lives are threatened.
3. The Viet Cong’s honeyed words lead only to inhuman and sinful ways.
4. Return to the National Cause. Your fields and garden will be fertile, you family will be safe and happy.
5. We cannot permit the Viet Cong to come and deprive us of our lives and property.
6. To help the government oust the Viet Cong is to help yourselves to a new life.
7. Only when you return to the National Government will your lives be secure and happy.

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Rural Pacification Slogan 2207

These 22 x 8-inch slogan leaflets encourage rural pacification. Four slogans were produced in this series. They are:

1. We are determined to carry out the TD program to protect our villages.
2. The RD program aims at the improvement of the living standard of poor people.
3, Develop rural economics to build up our country and society
4. Unite with the Government to reconstruct the rural areas.

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Revolutionary Development Slogan leaflet 2269

These November 1967 22 x 5-inch leaflet bears revolutionary development slogans:

1. All of the people participate in building and pacification of rural areas by cooperating with the Government.

2. New Life development is to remove the Viet Cong left behind as agents in our hamlets.

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Leaflet 10-323-68

100,000 copies of this 5 x 8-inch all-text leaflet were prepared in June 1968 with the theme of exploiting the robbery of the Tinh Bien Monks by Viet Cong troops. The text is:

Dear People:

Let it be known that the Viet Cong are murderers. They killed defenseless innocent people and children.

At 2:00 a.m. on 8 May 1968, the Viet Cong came to Phu Huu hamlet, Kuan To village, Tinh Bien district and beat open the door of the Kirivong Temple and forced two monks to hand over 80,000 piasters before withdrawing in the direction of Mui Nhan.

On 25 May 1968, The Viet Cong placed a grenade in the middle of a rice field near Chan Ko hamlet, An Cu village, Tri Ton district. Two shepherd children stepped on the Viet Cong grenade, exploding it. It killed one child and seriously wounded the other. The wounded child was given first aid and brought to the Chau Doc hospital by U.S. Special Forces.

The despoilment of the temple property at Tinh Bien and the terrorism at Tri Ton by the Viet Cong roused the hatred and indignation of the people.

If you, the people, want tom live happily with your religion and temples respected, you must unite and make the Viet Cong stop killing innocent people. The Viet Cong can threaten one or two people, but will surrender before all the people in a hamlet.

When the Viet Cong is annihilated all the people will lead a calm life.

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Election Banner 10-122-69

This 16 x 5.5-inch “election banner” was produced by the 10th PSYOP Battalion in February 1969 for village and hamlet elections. 10,000 banners were printed and handed out to explain why the people were voting. The text is:

The purpose of the elections in the villages and hamlets is to help eliminate the Communists.

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Cambodian Calendar 10-107-69

The 10th PSYOP Battalion produced a number of novelty items. The large 16 x 10.5 Cambodian calendar was printed in February 1969. 500,000 were printed and handed out to Cambodians. Some of the text is:

This calendar is offered by IV Corps Headquarters and Tactical Zone Headquarters.

Don’t give rice to the Communists or join the Communist ranks.

Don’t accept the coalition attempts and false peace moves of the Communists.

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Leaflet 2125

A number of leaflets dropped over Vietnam and Cambodia explained why there were checkpoints. It was important to tell the people because if they reacted incorrectly they could be shot by the guards at the checkpoints. This May 1967 all-text leaflet is in Vietnamese on one side and Cambodian on the other:

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE AT A CHECK POINT

1. Keep in line and maintain order when you get on and off a vehicle.
2. Present your identification card to the police.
3. Get your packages or handbags ready for the police to check.

Please follow the above instruction in order to speed up the check.

The very next leaflet is on the same theme of checkpoints. This May 1967 all-text leaflet is in Vietnamese on one side and Cambodian on the other:

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Leaflet 2126

WHY ARE THERE CHECK POINTS?

Check points are to serve the people.

1. To protect your families and your homes, the police set up check points to prevent the Viet Cong from transporting bombs and other explosives to kill innocent people.

2. Check points are established in order to enforce law and order, so that you and other innocent people can live in security.

Check points may delay your business a little, but they will also help us achieve a final victory

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Leaflet A313

This all-text leaflet is in Vietnamese on one side and Cambodian on the other. The text is:

Do you happen to know,

Who tries to seduce the youth to leave their families and follow the criminal path; robbing and killing people without shame?

The Cambodian Fighting Front which is the National Liberation Front in the South.

Countrymen, you have to advise your brothers and sons to be on guard.

Don’t get trapped by the Cambodian Fighting Front.

There are at least three PSYOP products on card stock that the American military calls “stationery.” In all three cases the backs are blank, but it seems apparent that the products were meant to be used as postcards. In all three cases the items were prepared by the Joint United States Public Relations Office (JUSPAO) and the 8th PSYOP Battalion in three different formats. They are found in two different sizes with Vietnamese text, and also in a third variety with Cambodian text. The cards were printed in sheets of 4 (2x2) or 9 (3x3). We will depict two of the three postcards. Some of the original posters are depicted in Shelby L. Stanton, Special Forces at War, Howell Press, undated, on a page entitled “Special Forces Psychological Operations -- Vietnam.” 

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Postcard Leaflet 1707A

Postcard 1707A was printed in June 1968 and depicts Tran Hung Dao, a legendary hero of Vietnam who defeated three Mon­gol inva­sions of Kublai Khan in the 13th Cen­tury. He brandishes a sword and points at ARVN soldiers. The JUSPAO code numbers are 1707, 1707A, and 1707B; while the 8th PSYOP Battalion code number 8-926 (4). The Cambodian variety is coded 1707B. The text is:

FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF TRAN HUNG DAO

All the people unite to fight against Communism to save the nation

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Postcard Leaflet 2592

Postcard 2592 was printed in July 1968 and depicts a heroic Vietnamese soldier charging forward with his flag waving behind him. The JUSPAO code numbers are 2592, 2592A, and 2592B; the 8th PSYOP Battalion code number appears to be 8-849 (4). The Cambodian-language version is coded 2592B. The text is:

WE ARE DETERMINED TO DEFEND THE NATION

Type Three Leaflets – Cambodian Language

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Land Reform Leaflet CC-289-70

This leaflet depicts a symbolic image of a farmer working a field on the front, and a more realistic image of a farmer working water buffalo in a rice paddy on the back. The text on front and back is:

To the farmer:

The President of the Republic of Vietnam has promulgated the law “Land of the Tiller.”
From now on the regime of “sharecropping” is eliminated from Vietnamese society.
Landlords are compensated quickly and fairly.
Farmers will get land without having to pay anything.
We work our own land. Our people enjoy a god life, construct their hamlets and villages.

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Slogan leaflet 2325

This same Cambodian-language appears on both leaflet 2323 and 2325. The text on this December 1967 5 x 22-inch slogan leaflet is short and to the point:

RESIST THE VIET CONG

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Leaflet 10-153-69

40,000 of these 10th PSYOP Battalion leaflets were prepared in March 1969 to be dropped over Cambodians to explain how to rally to the National Government. They were requested by the navy and that might explain why they ask the defectors to turn themselves in to patrol boats. Strangely, the message is addressed to the Vietnamese, so it may be they were aimed at ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia. Text on the front is:

Soldiers, Officers and Cadre who are fighting against the National Government: Here is a message from the Republic of Vietnam. You are invited to rally to the Government of Vietnam under the Chieu Hoi Program. You will be warmly welcomed and will not be harmed. Return and be with your family and well cared for. Hoi Chanhs are paid for their weapons.

Text on the back is:

To Rally is Simple

Hide your weapon. You will be paid for it later. Report to a Chieu Hoi Center, village authorities, Vietnamese Army or Allied military personnel, or Vietnamese Navy or Allied Patrol boats. You do not need a surrender pass or any leaflet to rally, but you may use it if you have it. The Government of Vietnam needs and wants all of its sons and daughters. Chieu Hoi!

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Leaflet 4-36A-70

The 4th PSYOP Group produced this leaflet in June 1970 to tell the Cambodians how to safeguard themselves. The front explains the purpose of the leaflet:

ATTENTION CAMBODIAN FRIENDS

The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong have been moving supplies and personnel into your country and using Cambodian sanctuaries from which to launch attacks against the Cambodian and Vietnamese people. They have invaded the neutral country of Cambodia. To oppose this aggression and destroy our common enemy it is necessary to bomb enemy base camps, supply routes, convoys and depots. Follow the instructions on the reverse side and you will be safe.

The back of the leaflet gives four rules for safety:

1. Stay in your homes.
2. Stay off roads, bridges, trails and waterways.
3. Stay away from enemy troops.
4. Stay away from all places where bombs have been dropped – the bombs may explode later.

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Leaflet M-1-71

This 11 August 1971 all-text message says on the front in Cambodian:

An Appeal of the Government

Dear Friends!

The atheist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese know that our government has sincere sympathy for the population and does not want the population to lose their fortune or die. That is why the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese come to live with you in the village, to use you as a barrier to protect themselves, since they are going to be in bitterly defeated and are now in agony.

The text on the back is:

The Government appeals to our compatriots that if there are any infiltrators, please chase them away. If you cannot fight against them please run away from the village and let our forces chase them until they disappear from this Earth.

Mine Awareness Leaflets

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Warning!

There are a great number of Cambodian mine awareness leaflets and posters. Some of them are: An 8 1/2 x 11-inch red cardboard poster showing a skull and crossed bones. An 8 1/2 x 11-inch poster depicting a young child about to touch armaments on the ground, with four explosives in frames around the child. A 9 1/4 x 6 ½-inch paper poster showing 13 mines in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ½-inch paper poster showing 9 mines in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ½-inch paper poster showing 18-mine warning signs in full color. A 9 1/4 x 6 ½-inch paper poster depicting five steps to safe walking in full color. A sheet of 16-gummed stickers in red and black saying, “don't touch mines.” The United States tried to protect the Cambodian people from the millions of mines that were sowed in that nation during the war. At one time I had a dozen different in my files.It should be noted that these mine warning leaflets have been prepared and disseminated in Cambodia for the past 40 years.

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Boy Studying Landmine

The leaflet above shows a young boy studying a mine and the text warns him to stay far away from such things. In is standard procedure to show PSYOP images and text to the local inhabitants to acquire feedback on how the message is perceived. An interesting anecdote was told about this image by Lieutenant-Colonel Ayers who oversaw the landmine awareness program in Cambodia. He pre-tested the image that depicted a boy squatting over a mine that he was poking with a stick. The result of interviews was surprising:

In our mind's eye, it said “don't poke a landmine with a stick.” But when we tested it, the Khmer villagers said, “Why do you have this person defecating over a landmine?” The kid was in a position that they typically use for a bowel movement. We had to pull the boy back a little bit and make changes based upon what we found.

The poster of the boy squatting over the mine is a more recent Cambodian Mine Action Centre product, and not from the time of the Vietnam War. The CMAC logo is clearly visible on the graphic itself. CMAC was formed in 1992/3 by the Engineering component of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia and continues to operate today at the domestic humanitarian mine clearance organization in Cambodia.
 

LARGE PROPAGANDA POSTERS

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This large 15.5 x 19.5-inch poster coded 13-2-6 depicts the Lord Buddha destroying the Communist Khmer Rouge who are depicted as demons. This may be my single favorite propaganda piece among hundreds of items. The enemy is shown with AK-47s, grenades, RPGs and tanks at the left. On the right they are sinking into the sea; the tank’s main gun is bent and broken and their leader is pleading for mercy. Crocodiles and sawfish attack them. Buddha is a God of mercy and moderation so his depiction in this poster is very strange. From a standpoint of color and artistic imagination it would be hard to find a more impressive propaganda poster. Directly beneath the Buddha is the Buddhist Earth Deity, who wrings out her hair, sending a stream of strong water at the drowning Communists. She is known in Cambodia as Neang Kanghing Preah Thoranee. She has other names in Arakan, Burma, Thailand, and Laos, but the names all mean “Lady Earth” or “Mother Earth,” She is the Buddha's witness at the time of the enlightenment. According to the mythology of Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha's spiritual authority derives from the Earth Deity.

Dr. Elizabeth Guthrie told me about the American poster:

The US funded and distributed poster of the Buddha and the Earth Deity would have been put up on the wall in Buddhist temples and in home altars. As a sacred image, Cambodian people would have burned incense and candles in front of them, made food offerings, even prayed and meditated in front of them. So, this was a very effective idea for propaganda.

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Venerable Buddha

This poster seems to have been inspired by an actual Cambodian painting which has a very similar depiction of Buddha and the Earth Deity fighting off warriors, demons and evil-doers. The original painting of the Enlightenment of the Buddha on a cloth banner is called a Phra Bot. These cloth banners are used as decoration in Buddhist temples. The art form originated in India thousands of years ago. This painting was purchased in Phnom Penh. It was painted by artist Sam Ban. Dr. Guthrie adds:

The iconography depicts the events that took place at the time of the Buddha's Enlightenment. The “Evil Doers” are the soldiers of Mara, the Evil One, a Satan-like figure who tries to prevent the Buddha from reaching Enlightenment.

The text of the propaganda poster is:

People without religion are evil. They are the enemy and must be destroyed.

The text on the original enlightenment painting on cloth is:

Venerable Buddha defeats Mara

CURRENCY PROPAGANDA

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“Robin Hood” Overprinted Banknote

I am not aware of any currency propaganda operations in Cambodia. However, there was one case where a unit overprinted captured Communist banknotes and allegedly used them as “death cards” in their own unofficial PSYOP campaign. We mentioned the American “Cambodian Incursion” earlier in this article. During that April 1970 attack, tons of documents were captured including a large number of Central Committee of the National Front for the Libera­tion of South Vietnam banknotes, printed in the Central Printing Factory, Shanghai, People's Republic of China, for use in areas under Viet Cong Control. The National Liberation Front intended to issue the banknotes after the successful Tet uprising of 1968. However, Tet was a military disaster for the Viet Cong and the people’s popular uprising never took place. Tet cost the Viet Cong its best shock troops. The final count of Communist dead is unknown; there are published estimates of 38,794 with another 6991 captured.

American helicopters provided air transportation, liaison, medical evacuation, and close fire support during the invasion. One of the aviation units was the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company (AHC). The 173rd AHC was attached to the 11th Aviation Battalion (Combat) for the Cambodian raid. The 173rd took part in 14 campaigns and received eight battle decorations including the Valorous Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal. The radio call sign of the 173rd AHC was “Robin Hood.”

Members of the helicopter company "liberated" some of the banknotes confiscated during the raid and overprinted them as souvenirs with the text “COMPLIMENTS OF / 173rd AHC / THE ROBIN HOODS.” They might have been simply souvenirs of the raid, or they might have been used in some cases as "calling cards" to be placed on the bodies of dead Viet Cong. Whatever their use, they are the only known type of propaganda banknote prepared by a small unit in Vietnam.

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Internal Propaganda Booklet Bearing Banknotes

There is a second case where the same general banknotes were used for internal propaganda. In this case, U.S. Army helicopter pilot Chief Warrant Officer Wayne J. Cichello placed a banknote in a souvenir booklet that gave the history of the Cambodian incursion and says in part:

This is to certify that the attached script…was captured during the Cambodian Invasion from South Vietnam during the period 1 May 1970 to 30 June 1970…The script was given to me by General Do Cao Tri near Mimot, Cambodia as a war trophy…

RADIO AND LOUDSPEAKER BROADCASTS

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Radio Braodcast

The United States and its allies did not limit themselves to leaflets and posters in Cambodia. There were also a number of propaganda messages that were broadcast by radio.

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PSYOP Loudspeaker team

Another method was to play an audio tape or read the message by PSYOP troops over loudspeakers. This method could also be used from low-flying aircraft and patrol boats. There are dozens of such messages recorded; I will mention just a few here.

Tape 100 – Cambodian – 26 seconds:

Compatriots!

The Government of Vietnam welcomes you back. Your leaders have lied to you and led you down a road of suffering and despair. Return to the Government of Vietnam. You will receive good treatment and a chance to build a new life.

Tape 101 – Cambodian – 22 seconds:

The government forces are winning. Their firepower is overwhelming. Their resources are inexhaustible. Death comes closer to you every day. Accept the Government of Vietnam offer of Open Arms. Come back friends! Come back before it is too late.

Tape 103 – Cambodian – 25 seconds:

You are surrounded by forces of vastly superior firepower. Your leaders who misled you have abandoned you. There is only one way to escape a violent and useless death. Surrender now and you will be well treated by the Government of Vietnam. Choose life, not death. Choose life, not death.  

The 4th Division had loudspeakers ready but never used them. Their after-action report states:

A PSYOP loudspeaker team was available at the division forward Fire Support Base for immediate deployment to Cambodia.  The team, from B Company, 8th PSYOP Battalion, was equipped with a 250 watt back-pack loudspeaker system for use in ground operations and also a 1,000 watt loudspeaker for ground operations and a 1,000 watt loudspeaker for use in aerial speaker operations.  The team was not deployed into Cambodia due to the non-ava1iability of aircraft and a lack of targets or enemy concentrations requiring immediate priority reaction.

INDEPENDENCE PROPAGANDA

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Unanimous Struggle

This leaflet in the Cambodian language was printed in September 1962, apparently by A Cambodian independence movement. It was filed in JUSPAO archives. The text is political in nature and explains to the Cambodians what might occur at the war’s end. Some of the text is:

The Viet Cong declared in a radio broadcast on 15 August 1962 that their policy was to turn South Vietnam into a neutral area. But none of the provisions have referred to the fate of the Cambodian national and minority peoples; the Chan, Drai, and Dadne who have been living in Vietnam for years…Realize that both the Republic of Vietnam and the Viet Cong have secretly planned to annihilate Cambodian residents and minority people by all means…Realize that Cambodia has its own history, culture and all legitimate rights to claim parts of Vietnam to be her territory. Realize that our people don’t want to be involved in the present war in Vietnam. We unhesitantly form a committee of unanimous struggle whose aim is to appeal to the Viet Cong as well as the Saigon government to give us independence and freedom.

ENEMY PROPAGANDA

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Herman Mattheus found the above two leaflet mortar shells during his research in Cambodia. The green one is an 82mm Vietnamese propaganda mortar and the red one is an 82mm Russian propaganda mortar. During his time in Cambodia he found 14 different Communist leaflets.

Not much is known about Khmer Rouge leaflets to the Cambodian and American troops. A few leaflets have turned up in various archives over the years but they are extremely rare. This leaflet was taken from the body of an enemy soldier in 1970, is all-text and says in part:

TO ALL OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN

Our people enjoyed peace for almost fifteen years, during which time the people of our neighboring countries suffered endlessly from the war brought about by the American imperialists and their lackeys. Cambodia was in such a peaceful and prosperous condition that it used to be the “Island of Peace of Indochina.” This peace, prosperity and well-being was due to the leadership of Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

But at present, Cambodia is endangered because of the deposition of Prince Sihanouk from his position of Chief of State by the clique of Lon Nol, Sirik Matak, and Cheng Heng, all faithful servants of the American imperialists. They resorted to using a plan of the reactionary National Assembly and Royal Advisory Council to accomplish their aim of placing Cambodia under the neo-colonialist regime of the American imperialists, and align it with other American satellite countries…

All the young men and women should enlist in the Liberation Army in order to liberate our country and protect the people. People should coordinate with the Front to eliminate the agents of the American CIA, and spies of the Lon Nol clique from the liberated areas. In addition, those who have relatives serving in the Lon Nol Government either as civil servants or soldiers, should make efforts to convince them to abandon their posts and join the People’s Liberation Army led by Samdech Sihanouk….

It is interesting to note that although the Communists have every intention of discarding Prince Sihanouk at the first opportunity and taking over the country, they pretend to be defending his lawful rule. Sihanouk was what Vladimir Lenin once described as a “useful idiot,” a person who was naïve, foolish, or in willful denial, and being cynically used by the Communists. Note also that the Communists talk of the years of peace, when in fact they have been secretly in the country for over a decade moving arms and building bases.

This ends out brief look at leaflets, slogans, posters and audio messages targeting Cambodia during the Vietnam War. There are hundreds of such items and this article could easily be the size of an encyclopedia. It is meant only to give the reader an idea of what went on in that very secret backwater of the Vietnam War. Readers with comments are encouraged to write to the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.

End: 7 June 7, 2007