SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Some material from this site was depicted with the authors permission on the Vietnam Historical website The Remnants, for a documentary film on the legacy of the Vietnam War.
Who were the Viet Cong? The 1966 Department of the Army Pamphlet 360-518, Know your Enemy - the Viet Cong, discusses the enemy in depth. Some of the comments are:
Literally translated, the phrase Viet Cong means Vietnamese Communist, and those who are Viet Cong employ the whole Communist arsenal of deceit and violence. A Viet Cong is a man, woman, or child a tough fighter, with words or weapons, for what he is taught to call the "liberation" of South Vietnam-the Republic of Vietnam. Viet Cong also applies to the military and civilian components of the "Front" (the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. To its deluded followers the Front is the government they serve, but to the vast majority of South Vietnamese it is an instrument of terror and oppression manipulated by the Communists of North Vietnam.
The Communist regime in Hanoi directs, controls, and supplies the entire Viet Cong political and military effort to conquer the Republic of Vietnam. All control, political and military, comes ultimately from the Central Committee of North Vietnams Lao Dong (Communist) Party, which maps out broad strategy.
In South Vietnam itself, the Communists have created a show of legitimacy through the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. The Fronts national central committee sets policy and also is responsible for planning and organization building.
The next level in the Communist-dominated Front hierarchy consists of the 3 interzone headquarters, which determine agitprop (persuasion and propaganda) policy guidance and which are responsible for political indoctrination and training.
Within the last 6 years the Viet Congs Binh Van program, "proselyting," as they call it-has become a major program. A favored practice is the use of girls and women, speaking as sisters or mothers, to serenade small garrisons, calling to them to save their precious lives for their families sake, and imploring them to have mercy on civilians
North Vietnam Draft Notice
Although this draft notice is for the North Vietnam Army and not for the Viet Cong, these soldiers would soon be walking south to take part in their war of liberation along with their comrades from the South, the Viet Cong. The document says:
Administration committee No. 12/Army
Democratic Republic of Viet Nam
Independence - Freedom - Happiness
14 July 1971
CHAIRMAN OF THE HANOI ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE
- According to 110/SL (31/5/1958) of regional authority.
- According to Law National duty introduced in Order number 11/SL (28/4/1960) and Additional and Upgraded Laws of National duty by Order 45/LCT (224/2/1965) of President of Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.
-According to Order number 47/LCT (5/51965) or President of Democratic Republic of Viet Nam introducing regional declaration of duty.
1. Mr. Tran Trung Thanh, citizen of the Designing Unit of Industry Department is ordered to serve in the army.
2. At exactly 6:00 on 17 July 1971, you must present yourself at 65 Ham Long.
3. Mr. Tran Trung Thanh has the responsibility to carry out this decision.
On behalf of Hanoi Administrative Committee
The National Liberation Front (NLF) was a constant subject of debate during the Vietnam War. The Americans and the Government of Vietnam (GVN) considered it a front used by Hanoi to disguise the machinations of the Communist regime of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN) in the insurrection against the government of the South. They claimed that the quality and the dissemination of the propaganda were such that it could not be produced in the field under combat conditions. They believed that the expertise, clarity and concept of the propaganda proved that Hanoi was the origin of the leaflets.
The DRVN rejected the claims and said that the NLF was proof that the revolution in the south was agrarian in nature and made up of people of every political and religious affiliation. The NLF, they said, consisted of simple farmers, tradesmen, workers and students. The fight was an old-fashioned war of liberation against the American-backed fascist regime of Saigon.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. The NLF was surely controlled and dominated by the north, but there can be no doubt that there were dedicated and motivated soldiers and civilians that fought for what they believed to be their nation's liberation.
A Very Early Vietnam Propaganda Leaflet
As the Vietnam War went on for a decade, the Viet Cong leaflets got more intricate, political, and colorful and the messages got far more technical with references to American politicians and peace marches at home. However, early in the war, all of the VC leaflets were simple hand-written text with very short messages. The above leaflet is one of ten such leaflets brought back by a Special Forces Captain who was part of an A team in 1964.
Colonel Frank L. Goldstein says in Psychological Operations, Air University Press, Maxwell AFB, AL, 1996, "The importance and priority that the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong put on psychological operations are well known, as in the slogans political activities are more important than military activities, and fighting is less importance than propaganda. General Vo Nguyen Giap in his People's War, People's Army quotes as one of Ho Chi Minh's cardinal principals of political warfare, Do not attempt to overthrow the enemy but try to win him over and make use of him.
Goldstein mentions three Viet Cong PSYOP programs. Dan van was the VC effort to develop support in the areas that it controlled while dich van was the effort to develop support in GVN-controlled areas. Binh van was the recruiting program among the Army of the Republic of Vietnam troops and GVN civilian servants. Destruction of South Vietnam's armed forces was an overriding priority for the VC; violence, armed attacks, assassinations, kidnappings, terrorist acts, and binh van were employed. The top objective of binh van was to induce unit desertions, preferably accompanied by an act of sabotage. The next highest objective was to induce individual military desertion or civilian defection, preferably accompanied by an act of destruction or a theft of key documents. Next was to induce major and significant opposition within the military or civil service, either covertly or overtly.
The dich van program is mentioned in more depth in
: Unheralded Victory - The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. 1961-1973, Mark W. Woodruff, Vandamere Press, Viet Nam , 1999. He says: Arlington, VA.
The Communists developed a highly complex plan to dominate
one day Crucial to their plan was a psychological warfare program they called dich van (action against the enemy). Specifically, dich van referred to non-military programs aimed at the civilian populations of their South Vietnamese and American enemies The American people were not their enemy; instead they said their enemies were the soldiers that fought the war and the politicians who sent them there. By claiming this, the Communists sought to drive a wedge between those doing the fighting and those back home. South Vietnam
Woodruff points out that there was no attempt by the American government to create a war psychology in the United States, no antagonizing China or the Soviet Union with Chinese intervention in Korea still within memory, and no talk of unification allowed by the South while the North trumpeted it daily. The dich van program went relatively unopposed in the
. It sought to convince the American people that the war was immoral and unwinnible. It presented an idolized picture of a highly motivated, incorruptible, nationalist United States North Vietnamwhile at the same time attacking South Vietnamand the as immoral, racist, thieves and murderers. United States
The Communists lied about their troops in
Laosand Cambodiaat the same time they demanded that respect the neutrality of those nations. The North attacked cities in the South but called American bombing of the North immoral, and help from allies illegitimate. What may be most ironic is that after their victory, their lies came back to haunt the Communists. They had said over and over that the war was fought by peasants and farmers in the South and America had no part in the war. Hollywood celebrities glorified the poor barefoot Viet Cong fighting the giant U.S. military, never mentioning the thousands of North Vietnamese regulars in the South. After 1975, when the North wanted the credit they believed they deserved for managing and winning the 10-year war, they had to go back and eliminate and erase 10 years of lies that claimed they had never been in the South and the war had been fought by peasants and farmers. North Vietnam
Viet Cong Oath of Honor
The NLF produced thousands of propaganda leaflets during the long civil war. The Communists aimed some at the Americans, some at the Army of Vietnam (ARVN) or government officials, and some against the other allied nations that joined the fight to protect the sovereignty of the Government of Vietnam. In this article, we will illustrate and discuss those leaflets aimed specifically at Americans. In many case the leaflets will be of high quality and bear the symbol of the NLF. In other cases, they will be crude, on poor quality paper, typewritten or handwritten.
The previously classified Confidential MACV Combined Intelligence Center VC Propaganda Factbook dated 29 March 1969 says in part:
Although the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NFLSVN) was not organized until December 1960, the propaganda phase of the general offensive began in May 1959 when the Lao Dong Central Committee in Hanoi declared that the time had come to begin the struggle against the Government of Vietnam.
VC propaganda efforts are largely channeled through the NFLSVN front associations with face-to-face contact, rather than through mass media Sections which have functions directly related to propaganda activities are the Propaganda and Training Section (PTS), The Military Proselyting Section (MPS), The Civilian Proselyting Section (CPS) and the the Political Struggle Section (PSS).
A widely used propaganda vehicle is the leaflet. A traditional tool of insurgents, the leaflet has been highly developed by the Communists. It appears in Vietnam in Vietnamese, English, Korean, and Chinese. The typical leaflet of two or four pages contains a text followed by one or more slogans. Pictures are often used. Most leaflets are directed at Allied fighting men, in the hope of eroding their fighting spirit, inducing them to desert, or causing them to press for an end to the war.
A brief history of the Vietnam War is necessary to show the reason that the NLF produced so many leaflets attacking the United States. During WWII, The League for the Independence of Vietnam, (Viet Minh) was organized as a nationalistic party seeking Vietnamese independence from France. After the victory by the Allies and the defeat of the occupying Japanese forces, Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Minh leader declared Vietnam's independence.
The French did not recognize the independence of Vietnam and tried to regain control over their old colony. The war between the French and the Viet Minh was fought from 1946 until 1954, when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu by Communist forces under the direction of General Vo Nguyen Giap. A cease-fire was negotiated in Geneva in 1954 and the warring forces were separated with the French controlling that portion of Vietnam below the 17th parallel and the Viet Minh in power of the territory north of the 17th parallel. A demilitarized zone would keep them apart and see that no more blood was shed. There was then a great movement of people as thousands of Catholics moved south, nationalists, and Communists moved north.
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ho Chi Minh
Ngo Dinh Diem, a staunch anti-Communist, became the President of the GVN. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the DRVN. Free elections were planned for 1956 under the supervision of an International Control Committee to unify North and South Vietnam under a single elected government. There seems little doubt that Ho Chi Minh would win this election since he was a popular leader who had helped to throw the Japanese out of his country. He was admired by the people, called "Uncle Ho," and was even a friend of the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) who had helped to arm and train his fighters. However, President Dwight D. Eisenhower supported the creation of a counter-revolutionary alternative south of the seventeenth parallel. He was not going to allow the Communists to take southern Vietnam without a fight. President Diem, facing sure defeat, refused in 1956 to hold the scheduled elections.
Diem could justify his decision by saying that the GVN was democratic, made up of many different parties that would split the vote. The North, under Ho Chi Minh, was a dictatorship. The votes would be along party lines as directed by the party leadership. The Communists would get the usual 99.5 votes they get in all of their so-called "elections." To hold a free election was to give away the nation.The United States, now operating under the "Domino Theory," and fearful of a Communist takeover of all of Southeast Asia, supported him. In late 1957, with American aid, Diem counterattacked his critics. He used the help of the American Central Intelligence Agency to identify those who sought to bring his government down and arrested thousands. In 1959, Diem passed a series of acts known as Law 10/59 that allowed the government to hold someone in jail without formal charges if they were suspected of being a member of the Communist Party.
From 1956-1960, the Communist Party of Vietnam tried to reunify the country through political means. They tried unsuccessfully to cause Diem's collapse by exerting tremendous internal political pressure. It gradually became clear to the North that the country could only be reunified by force of arms. This led directly the North Vietnamese decision to unify South through military force rather than by political means. Diems success against their movement in the south convinced them that more violent tactics were required. In January 1959, the Communist Party approved the use of revolutionary violence to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem's government.
President Diem with United States President Eisenhower
The U.S. government provided economic and military assistance to the Diem regime. Meanwhile, Diem became increasingly unpopular with the people of South Vietnam. He replaced elected village councils with Saigon-appointed administrators. He also aroused the ire of the Buddhists by selecting his fellow Roman Catholics (most of whom had moved to South Vietnam from the North) for top government positions.
The Viet Minh soldiers who were trained and armed in the North now started a Guerrilla war against the national government of the south. The Americans gave the guerrillas a new name, "Viet Cong." This was a derogatory and slang term meaning Vietnamese Communist. Curiously, the name became so popular and descriptive that in later years we find officials in
using the tern Viet Cong in many of their speeches. The original Viet Cong were mostly local people who were trained and motivated by the Communists, or Southern Vietnamese who had gone north for training and education and later returned to their homes to lead the new revolution. They were broken into a number of different forces: Hanoi
Viet Cong Child Soldiers
With all the talk about liberty and equality the Viet Cong seldom mentioned that when things got hard and manpower was difficult to come by they would draft young children as guerrillas. These boys were enticed with promises of adventure and hundreds of such children were killed in battle. They are members of the Dong Rai Regiment (K-3). In 1968, the South Vietnamese held more than 1000 Communist guerrilla prisoners between the ages of 11 and 17.
Main Force Units - full time troops from all over
organized in 2,000-man regiments. These troops were based in the mountains or in remote stretches along Vietnam 's borders. They were well trained, well armed and highly motivated. Vietnam
Regional Force Units - Usually recruited from their local province into 500-man battalions. They were less well trained and armed and might be called a militia of the Viet Cong.
Local Force Units - Recruited from the same village into small 10 or 12-man units. They were part-time soldiers who might farm or work at a regular job by day. They were often used as guides when the larger units moved into their areas for an attack.
Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) These were the political officers, administrators, tax collectors and other Communists who basically organized and kept the Viet Cong troops supplied with food, weapons and intelligence. These were the true believers.
Viet Cong Guerrilla Paints Anti-American Graffiti
Johnson's dollars are the blood and tears of American soldiers
They were the military branch of the National Liberation Front (NLF), controlled by the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), which was located near the Cambodian border. For arms, ammunition and special equipment, the Vietcong depended on war materials brought down the Ho Chi Minh trail by trucks, porters and even bicycles. They met their other needs within South Vietnam by confiscation of rice, forced sale of bonds to farmers, etc. The main force Vietcong units were uniformed, full-time soldiers. They had the ability to launch large-scale offensives over a wide area. Regional forces were also full-time, but operated only within their own districts. When necessary, the small regional units could combine to make up battalions and regiments. If the enemy pressure became too great, they simply separated into their individual units and cells and returned to their jungle hideaways and caves. They went south to their old childhood areas and began a campaign of assassination, sabotage, and propaganda.
Diem asked for more American money, military advisers, and war materiel to build up his army. The Americans complied. U.S. President John F. Kennedy sent the first of the troops after the DRVN unified the South Vietnamese communist insurgents in an organization called the National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam on 20 December 1960. The front had long and historic roots in Vietnam. It brought together Communists and non-Communists in an umbrella organization. Membership was open to anyone who opposed Ngo Dinh Diem. However, as always happens in any Communist-inspired organization, the moderate parties were soon dismissed and within a short time the NLF became exclusively communist.
- Elements of the 173d Airborne Brigade arrive in Vietnam, May 1965.
The number of American servicemen gradually rose from 900 in 1960 to 540,000 under President Lyndon B. Johnson in the last years of the war. By this time Richard M. Nixon was President and Nguyen Van Thieu led the GVN. Nixon instituted a program of "Vietnamization." The South Vietnamese would gradually assume all military responsibilities for their defense while being supplied with U.S. arms, equipment, air support, and economic aid. The Communists believed that it was the financial, manpower, and materiel help of the Americans that prolonged the war. That is the reason that they regularly attacked the Americans with their propaganda leaflets, both at home and abroad.
War protest Washington DC, Nov 15, 1969
National Guard Soldiers before the shooting at Kent State in Ohio
On the American home front there was much animosity toward the war. TV viewers saw young American servicemen killed and placed in body bags on their nightly TV news. There were not enough volunteers to continue to fight a protracted war, so the U.S. Government instituted a draft. This turned many professors and students against the war and the Johnson administration. There was a riot in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. There were marches by black leaders who believed that their people were being led to the slaughter in Southeast Asia. At Kent State in Ohio, four students were killed by National Guardsmen who were called out to preserve order on campus after days of anti-Nixon protest. Students at Jackson State in Mississippi were also shot and killed. A mother was heard to cry, "they are killing our babies in Vietnam and in our own backyard." All of this was grist for the Communist propaganda mill. Leaflets were churned out by the thousands showing the riots, the student unrest, and calling for American blacks to quit the war and go home.
Major Alan Byrne (left) Accepts Plaque from Lieutenant Colonel Robert Laabs, Chief, PSYOP Development Center
4th PSYOP Group Vietnam 1968
Because of the anti-war movement in American universities there was a belief among some investigators that the students and faculties were actually helping the enemy. I spoke to former Captain Alan Byrne who was the Chief of the Audience Analysis Section, Psychological Development Center, 4th PSYOP Group from December 1967 to October 1968, and the Group's Adjutant from October to December 1968. He told me:
One of our missions was to evaluate all anti-American leaflets. In doing so, we found that for the most part they were very poorly written, their message was often times poorly translated, and they contained numerous printing errors. One of the most famous ones being: US HOOPS GO HOME! This was during the period December 1967 to March 1968. Then all of a sudden, they miraculously improved. I reported this rather sudden significant change up the line to our Civilian bosses, and sometime months later we got word back that the FBI had checked into it. The information we received back verbally was that certain elements at the University of California, Berkeley, were writing and printing leaflets for North Vietnam. Too many years have passed for me to be certain on this, but I have a vague recollection that it may have been traced back to them by a water mark on the leaflets. It was additionally suspected several others of the ultra-liberal California schools may have also been involved.
Attention all Military Personnel
Perhaps one of the reasons that Berkeley was suspected of traitorous activities. This leaflet was prepared by the Berkeley Vietnam Day Oppose the War Committee in November 1965. According to the Associated Press, the leaflet was found by American troops in Vietnam.
I think the FBI might have believed there was a Berkeley connection. That university was a hotbed of liberalism and I could see why it might be suspected as a sponsor of Communist propaganda. In fact, I suspect any old hippie reading this today would be proud that his school fought against the war. However, there were enough fellow-travelers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and members of the American Communist Party, not to mention all the U.S. experts in China and Russia that I just don't see the need to go to Berkeley to get a paragraph written. I also doubt the ability of those left-wing college kids to keep a secret. It is a nice rumor though, and I can understand why it would sound acceptable at the time when kids were marching in the streets with red banners.
Mother and Daughter
Another Berkeley Vietnam Day leaflet depicted a Vietnamese mother and child who had been napalmed. It was a truly gory image. Some of the text on the back is:
If you met the man whose wife and child you see on the other side of this leaflet, roasted to death by American napalm bombs, he would want you to explain why they died Would you say that you had no intention of killing his wife and child?...There are American families whose sons have died in Vietnam. In the year to come there will be many more. Can you tell these families in your own words why their families must die? If you cant, then how can you do anything but oppose this war?
Other Berkeley anti-war leaflets include an International Day of Protest, a To the Park torch light parade, a Picket the Marines illustrated piece, and a Peoples Park Negotiating Committee memorandum.
I asked the now-retired Colonel about the Viet Cong leaflets and his duties in Vietnam. He said:
We worked out of about 20 Quonset huts and one or two stone buildings, on a compound bordering on the rail yards, in Saigon. Enemy leaflets came in from our four PSYOP Battalions in the Corps areas. We also received them from many and varied different field units and the United States Agency for International Development (USAIDS). On the average, we got from a couple to a handful a week. We wrote reports on them using an in-house form to make sure all points were covered (date, location, unit(s) targeted and originated from, specific or general theme, quality of printing and message. We evaluated the overall content as to whether we thought it was or could be very, somewhat, or not at all, effective. We then sent everything to USAIDS, who was overall responsible for all of PSYOP in Republic of Vietnam; to Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and United States Army Vietnam (USARV) Offices of the G-2 (Intelligence), and a copy back to the sending unit.
Do we know exactly what the demands of the NLF were? We do. They published them as a manifesto for all to read.
Program of the National Liberation Front of South Viet-Nam
I. Overthrow the camouflaged colonial regime of the American imperialists and the dictatorial power of Ngo Dinh Diem, servant of the Americans, and institute a government of national democratic union. The present South Vietnamese regime is a camouflaged colonial regime dominated by the Yankees, and the South Vietnamese government is a servile government, implementing faithfully all the policies of the American imperialists. Therefore, this regime must be overthrown and a government of national and democratic union put in its place composed of representatives of all social classes, of all nationalities, of various political parties, of all religions; patriotic, eminent citizens must take over for the people the control of economic, political, social, and cultural interests and thus bring about independence, democracy, well- being, peace, neutrality, and efforts toward the peaceful unification of the country.
II. Institute a largely liberal and democratic regime.
1. Abolish the present constitution of the dictatorial powers of Ngo Dinh Diem, servant of the Americans. Elect a new National Assembly through universal suffrage.
2. Implement essential democratic liberties: freedom of opinion, of press, of movement, of trade unionism; freedom of religion without any discrimination; and the right of all patriotic organizations of whatever political tendency to carry on normal activities.
3. Proclaim a general amnesty for all political prisoners and the dissolution of concentration camps of all sorts; abolish fascist law 19/59 and all the other antidemocratic laws; authorize the return to the country of all persons persecuted by the American-Diem regime who are now refugees abroad.
4. Interdict all illegal arrests and detentions; prohibit torture; and punish all the Diem bullies who have not repented and who have committed crimes against the people.
III. Establish an independent and sovereign economy, and improve the living conditions of the people.
1. Suppress the monopolies imposed by the American imperialists and their servants; establish an independent and sovereign economy and finances in accordance with the national interest; confiscate to the profit of the nation the properties of the American imperialists and their servants.
2. Support the national bourgeoisie in the reconstruction and development of crafts and industry; provide active protection for national products through the suppression of production taxes and the limitation or prohibition of imports that the national economy is capable of producing; reduce custom fees on raw materials and machines.
3. Revitalize agriculture; modernize production, fishing, and cattle raising; help the farmers in putting to the plow unused land and in developing production; protect the crops and guarantee their disposal.
4. Encourage and reinforce economic relations between the city and country, the plain and the mountain regions; develop commercial exchanges with foreign countries, regardless of their political regime, on the basis of equality and mutual interests.
5. Institute a just and rational system of taxation; eliminate harassing penalties.
6. Implement the labor code: prohibition of discharges, of penalties, of ill-treatment of wage earners; improvement of the living conditions of workers and civil servants; imposition of wage scales and protective measures for young apprentices.
7. Organize social welfare: find work for jobless persons; assume the support and protection of orphans, old people, invalids; come to the help of the victims of the Americans and Diemists; organize help for areas hit by bad crops, fires, or natural calamities.
8. Come to the help of displaced persons desiring to return to their native areas and to those who wish to remain permanently in the South; improve their working and living conditions.
9. Prohibit expulsions, spoliation, and compulsory concentration of the population; guarantee job security for the urban and rural working populations.
Vietnam Rice Farmers
IV. Reduce land rent; implement agrarian reform with the aim of providing land to the tillers.
1. Reduce land rent; guarantee to the farmers the right to till the soil; guarantee the property right of accession to fallow lands to those who have cultivated them; guarantee property rights to those farmers who have already received land.
2. Dissolve 'prosperity zones' and put an end to recruitment for the camps that are called 'agricultural development centers.' Allow those compatriots who already have been forced into 'prosperity zones, and 'agricultural development centers' to return freely to their own lands.
3. Confiscate the land owned by American imperialists and their servants, and distribute it to poor peasants without any land or with insufficient land; redistribute the communal lands on a just and rational basis.
4. By negotiation and based on fair prices, repurchase for distribution to landless peasant or peasants with insufficient land those surplus lands that the owners of large estates will be made to relinquish if their domain exceeds a certain limit, to be determined in accordance with regional particularities. The farmers who benefit from such land and distribution will both be compelled to make any payment or to submit to any other conditions.
School Children in Vietnam
V. Develop a national and democratic culture and education.
1. Combat all forms of culture and education enslaved to Yankee fashions; develop a culture and education that is national, progressive, and at the service of the Fatherland and people.
2. Liquidate illiteracy; increase the number of schools in the fields of general education as well as in those of technical and professional education, in advanced study as well as in other fields; adopt Vietnamese as the vernacular language; reduce the expenses of education and exempt from payment students who are without means; resume the examination system.
3. Promote science and technology and the national letters and arts; encourage and support the intellectuals and artists so as to permit them to develop their talents in the service of national reconstruction.
4. Watch over public health; develop sports and physical education.
Viet Cong on Patrol
VI. Create a national army devoted to the defense of the Fatherland and the people.
1. Establish a national army devoted to the defense of the Fatherland and the people; abolish the system of American military advisers.
2. Abolish the draft system, improve the living conditions of the simple soldiers and guarantee their political rights; put an end to ill- treatment of the military; pay particular attention to the dependents of soldiers without means.
3. Reward officers and soldiers having participated in the struggle against the domination by the Americans and their servants; adopt a policy of clemency toward the former collaborators of the Americans and Diemists guilty of crimes against the people but who have finally repented and are ready to serve the people.
4. Abolish all foreign military bases established on the territory of Viet-Nam.
VII. Guarantee equality between the various minorities and between the two sexes; protect the legitimate interest of foreign citizens established in Viet Nam and of Vietnamese citizens residing abroad.
1. Implement the right to autonomy of the national minorities: Found autonomous zones in the areas with a minority population, those zones to be an integral part of the Vietnamese nation. Guarantee equality between the various nationalities: each nationality has the right to use and develop its language and writing system, to maintain or to modify freely its mores and customs; abolish the policy of the Americans and Diemists of racial discrimination and forced assimilation. Create conditions permitting the national minorities to reach the general level of progress of the population: development of their economy and culture; formation of cadres of minority nationalities.
2. Establish equality between the two sexes; women shall have equal rights with men from all viewpoints (political, economic, cultural, social, etc.).
3. Protect the legitimate interest of foreign citizens established in Viet Nam.
4. Defend and take care of the interest of Vietnamese citizens residing abroad.
China's Mao Tse Tung meets with Ho Chi Minh
VIII. Promote a foreign policy of peace and neutrality.
1. Cancel all unequal treaties that infringe upon the sovereignty of the people and that were concluded with other countries by the servants of the Americans.
2. Establish diplomatic relations with all countries, regardless of their political regime, in accordance with the principles of peaceful coexistence adopted at the Bandung Conference.
3. Develop close solidarity with peace-loving nations and neutral countries; develop free relations with the nations of Southeast Asia, in particular with Cambodia and Laos.
4. Stay out of any military bloc; refuse any military alliance with another country.
5. Accept economic aid from any country willing to help us without attaching any conditions to such help.
IX. Re-establish normal relations between the two zones, and prepare for the peaceful reunification of the country.
The peaceful reunification of the country constitutes the dearest desire of all our compatriots throughout the country. The National Liberation Front of South Viet-Nam advocates the peaceful reunification by stages based on negotiations and through the seeking of ways and means in conformity with the interest of the Vietnamese nation.
While awaiting this reunification, the governments of the two zones will, based on negotiations, promise to banish all separatist and warmongering propaganda and not to use force to settle differences between the zones. Commercial and cultural exchanges between the two zones will be implemented the inhabitants of the two zones will be free to move about throughout the country as their family and business interests indicate. The freedom of postal exchanges will be guaranteed.
X. Struggle against all aggressive war, actively defends universal peace.
1. Struggle against all aggressive war and against all forms of imperialist domination; support the national emancipation movements of the various peoples.
2. Banish all warmongering propaganda; demand general disarmament and the prohibition of nuclear weapons; and advocate the utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
3. Support all movements of struggle for peace, democracy, and social progress throughout the world; contribute actively to the defense of peace in Southeast Asia and in the world.
Viet Cong Code of Discipline
Viet Cong Tax Receipt Bond
Notice that the code states that the Viet Cong will never take anything from the people. So, how were the people compensated when the VC came to their village and took their rice and livestock? The people were paid with bonds that were to be bought back by the Communist government after the glorious revolution. The bonds were very attractive and colorful, but worthless. This method of payment allowed the Viet Cong to take from the people but pretend instead that they were buying foodstuffs. There are about a half dozen different such bonds known. In all cases the VC cadre would fill in the information on how much was taken, its worth and then sign the form. He kept the stub; the farmer kept the bond. Of course, he quickly hid it because South Vietnamese troops finding it would believe that the farmer was helping the Viet Cong. The farmer was in a lose-lose situation. The bond above was issued by the Ministry of Finance and National Liberation Front Committee.
A Captured Viet Cong Document
Public Appeal by the National Liberation Front of
It is interesting to see the gradual change in Viet Cong statements as the war went on. Both sides went to great pains to gather information written by the enemy. These documents were used for intelligence purposes. By studying what the enemy said, it was sometimes possible to identify their current strategy, needs and weaknesses. One American comment about Intelligence states:
From the Cloak and Dagger boys comes this message (and plea). WE ARE NOT GETTING ENOUGH GOOD INTELLIGENCE AND SOMEONE SITS TOO LONG ON MUCH OF WHAT WE DO RECEIVE. Some of you may not realize the value of what you see end hear, yet it may be just the piece needed to complete the puzzle. Remember that intelligence must be timely, so please don't delay it. If in doubt, write it up and let the next higher level decide on the importance of the information. See that reports come thru both the RVN and MAAG channels. Don't worry about being another James Bond. If your stuff answers who, when, what, where, how and why, it will be good.
In the case of the Americans, every enemy document was important. A Propaganda Work Sheet, MAAG Form 934 was prepared by Headquarters, U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group
, dated 6 December 1962. It asked Vietnam troops to fill out the some of the following data: U.S.
Type of propaganda (Leaflet, Poster, Loudspeaker).
Length of time or quantity.
Method used (how distributed, by whom)
Date and time of occurrence.
Who observed or picked up.
Brief estimate of effectiveness.
As the war went on and the Communists got better at propaganda they would never mention a loss or weakness. However, in these very early documents found about 1962 you can see that they are simply trying to survive and beg the people to help. One document confiscated by American troops says in part:
Public Appeal by the National Liberation Front of
Use enemy weapons to kill the enemy!
Dear Fellow citizens!
Armed struggle needs weapons and ammunition. The revolution, in this present critical situation with shortages, has cleverly solved this problem by the motto: Use enemy weapons to kill the enemy!
Nowadays, due to the military increase of the
and Diem bunch, our liberators are valiantly facing unexpected difficulties. More than 50% of the liberators weapons and ammunition are gone Try to persuade the Civilian Guards and Civil Defense Corps and young men guarding the hamlets to stand by the revolution by supplying weapons and ammunition Stand by the revolution to the bitter end. Remember that one cartridge is now equivalent to one rifle . United States
This document certainly tells the Allies that the Viet Cong are facing a terrible shortage of weapons and ammunition. It is very valuable and would certainly lead to increased military action against VC strongholds. On the other hand, the message is so dire and threatening that one almost suspects this is a black document produced by the allies to frighten the unarmed Viet Cong. A second similar document attached to the MAAG document says in part:
Stand for the Heroic Combat of the Southern Emancipators!
Our Dear People!
During the last few months, the Hunting Dog Southern Army, Civilian Guard and Civil Defense Corps have been armed and trained by the American Empire, so they have gained a number of temporary victories. In the battlefield they have used the most brutal measures in order to eliminate our emancipators and the Idolized Revolution of the Southern People.
Our people! Hold onto your belief in the clear-sighted guidance of the Southern liberating movement and the talents of the commanding cadres of our emancipators. Turn a deaf ear to the propaganda argument of Diem and the American Empire.
Hold onto your convictions and continue standing for the righteous fighters of the Southern liberating movement.
Knock down Diem and the American Empire.
Long live the heroic combat of the emancipators!
Stand for the heroic combat of the emancipators.
Once again, this is a rather strange document. In the later stages of the war such statements were always extremely positive and forecast victory. This document points out that the VC have been beaten a number of times but promises a better future if the people will just have faith. We know it is a genuine VC statement, but once again it is so negative in tone that it could almost be an American disinformation document.
Another Viet Cong document captured in 1970 discusses the activities of security and armed elements of the
Republicof Vietnamand the in Quang Da Province during the first few months of 1969. The 36-page report indicates that the Viet Cong acquired massive data on the security and intelligence services, police, psywar and pacification organizations, political and religious parties and the Phuong Hoang (Phoenix) and Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) campaigns. Notice that the tone is now far more positive. Even though they admit some set-backs and defections, the overall theme of the document is that they will eventually achieve victory. We will quote a little of what they say about PSYOP activities: United States
The enemy has doubled his PSYWAR and Chieu Hoi activities, resorted to bribery and persuasive and oppressive measures, and employed many technical facilities to spread propaganda From strongholds, the enemy used loudspeakers to spread propaganda all day long. He even used ralliers and defectors to appeal to Viet Cong cadre over the
radio station and dropped different types of leaflets by means of aircraft. These leaflets were designed to arouse the peoples sentiment and undermine national solidarity. Da Nang
The enemy has used ammunition and bombs to massacre people and cadre Such enemy activities made a number of cadres, soldiers and families lose their vigilance. Since the beginning of this year, 19 cadre, 29 guerrillas, 15 local troops, 28 youth group members, and 135 families in Duy Xuyen District have moved to enemy controlled areas.
He resorted to demagogic measures and bribery in conjunction with terrorism, massacre, looting, and destruction of crops and houses then he organized relief activities, issued rice and clothes to them to win their hearts and minds.
In general, the enemy was unsuccessful in his rural pacification, Chieu Hoi and PSYWAR activities. The people came to realize the true face of the
and Puppet Governments. However, at various times and places, the enemy succeeded in relocating a number of local inhabitants in the cities and sowing confusion among others thus forcing them to move to controlled areas. U.S.
A Viet Cong Threatening Letter
This threatening letter is interesting because it implies that the Viet Cong had a regular series of form letters sent to those they considered traitors to the cause. Note that this letter says that a previous letter had already been sent. We can surmise a third letter would be sent after this one, perhaps stating that a court had been held, the recipient was tried and convicted and sentenced to death. The original is in Vietnamese of course. This is an official U.S. Army translation.
The Special Operations Research Office of the
(SORO) published the classified A Short Guide to Psychological Operations in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. Authors Jeanne Mintz, Herbert Silverberg and James Trinnaman discuss the Viet Cong propaganda tactics: American University
The Viet Cong place great emphasis on face-to-face contact with the individual peasant, where this is possible. In less secure areas they use leaflets, but only as a last resort. Normally they attempt to infiltrate a five-man team into the village. The team stays overnight, circulating from house to house, holding mass meetings, and distributing printed matter.
And how were the Viet Cong propagandists trained to interact so well with the people? One way was to found propaganda schools throughout
. A classified document from the 135th Military Intelligence group details the interrogation of Le Tai, a Viet Cong intelligence agent captured 21 April 1967. Le Tai speaks of the South Vietnam . This was a Viet Cong ideology and propaganda school located near Ba Thap Hamlet in Four Area Training School . Students spent one full week in the school being trained in the latest VC ideology before going forth to propagandize and seek coverts. Ninh Truan Province
An advantage that the Viet Cong had was a direct line of command and a guidance policy for propaganda that left no room for error. I have read numerous American PSYOP after-actions and they depict a lack of strong guidance, communication, training, equipment and repair. Some examples are a PSYOP After-Action Report by Colonel William E. Linn, Chief of Policy, Plans and Research and later the Assistant Director for Field Operations of JUSPAO from March 1968 to April 1969.
COL Linn is particularly disturbed that JUSPAO was never warned in advance about major policy shifts, and if given advance notice, was not allowed to utilize the information for PSYOP. He gives as example the bombing halts of March 1968 and October 1968. On both occasions JUSPAO was ready to tell the Vietnamese people why the bombing was halted. Because they had no guidance or permission they were unable to do so. As a result:
Hanoi propagandists had a field day pounding all Vietnamese target audiences that they had won a total victory; to fight on until the U.S. aggressors are forced out of Vietnam; that the North Vietnamese regime had not conceded anything to the United States at Paris; and that the United States was required to admit defeat due to U.S. and world public opinion; and that the bombing halt was proof that the communists fight in the Republic of Vietnam was just and right.
Colonel Taro Katagiri commanded the 4th PSYOP Group from 4 October 1968 to 13 March 1970. He discusses some of his units problems in the declassified Senior Officer Debriefing Report. He says that there needs to be better method of coordinating and unifying the PSYOP message. The army needs senior officers to understand what PSYOP can do. He gives an example of a brigade commander who boasted that his Chieu Hoi program consisted of two howitzers, one named Chieu and the other Hoi. He tells of pilots not wanting to drop leaflets because That is mixing politics with war. He wants an appreciation of PSYOP taught to all officers from early in their training.
While some Americans were arguing with each other about the value of PSYOP, the Viet Cong were holding village meetings, singing and putting on plays, and gathering converts.
A Vietnamese interpreter and Australian Army Private David Bannister inspect a Viet Cong propaganda leaflet found during Operation Pinnaroo. It consisted of a clearing operation in the
villageof Long Dienand then a search and destroy action in the Long Hai hills south of Nui Dat, in March 1968. Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Phuoc Tuy Province
Faked Photo of General William Westmoreland
Since we are mentioning photographs, I should point out that many of the propaganda photographs published by the communist forces and sent around the world were bogus. This subject is discussed by Dino A. Brugioni in Photo Fakery, Brasseys,
, 1999: Virginia
During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese carefully monitored public opinion in the
, especially the American publics reaction to any massacre of innocent civilians. Sensing sympathy, they began to orchestrate a program to denigrate the U.S. military by showing that the killing of the innocents was not accidental but a policy deliberately fostered by the U.S. High Command in Vietnam. General William Westmoreland was singled out for condemnation. To foster this idea, the North Vietnamese combined a Newsweek cover photo of the general with a massacre scene and circulated the result as proof that the United States military had embarked on a deliberate policy of killing innocent civilians. United States
There are a number of high-quality leaflets that were obviously made in North Vietnam. They attempt to disguise that fact by bearing identification such as "South Vietnam NLF" but it is doubtful that anyone was fooled. The leaflets were carried down the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia for dissemination in South Vietnam. The NLF did not have the ability to disseminate their leaflets by air. They carried their leaflets by hand and placed them in bars, restaurants, and along jungle trails where the Americans and their Allies were sure to find them. They varied in size and shape. Most were single sheets of paper, but rarely leaflets were designed to fold out to reveal longer messages inside.
Communist Leaflet Mortar
Although it is generally assumed that most Communist leaflets were distributed by hand since the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong never had control of the air, the 1971 Associated Press photograph above indicates that on occasion they were able to leaflet American outposts by mortar shell. The photograph was apparently sent to Warsaw from Hanoi by radiophone where it was spotted by the Associated Press and forwarded to the United States. The text on the back of the photo is:
18 February 1971 Propaganda Power This photo from Hanoi monitored in Warsaw purports to show North Vietnamese in Quang Tri Thua Thien, South Vietnam, firing propaganda leaflets in mortar shells into a base occupied by Allied forces.
"Hey, Hey, LBJ" Leaflet
A favorite theme of these leaflets was the anti-war movement back in the United States. One shows a group of marchers carrying banners that read "Get out of Viet Nam" and "Stop the Bombing." Text at the upper left in bright red is:
Hey, Hey, LBJ, and the anti-war slogan: Hey, Hey, LBJ, How many kids did you kill today?"
Some of the text on the back is:
Hey, Hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today? That's what everybody's saying all over the US today. And millions of people all over the world who know no other English shout it.
A captured enemy anti-war document is a directive dated 28 April 1971, that urges the addressees to motivate discussions among the people on recent antiwar demonstrations in the
. This document was captured on 12 May 1971 in United States by Company A, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry division: South Vietnam
Strengthen the struggle movement of the people of all classes, step up the enemy proselyting activities and the anti-Vietnam war movement of the Americans.
In cities, motivate the people to spread rumors. Use newspapers, news reports and radio stations to spread the struggle movement of the American people to meet the following requirements:
Win public opinion among all city dwellers to motivate the masses to back the struggle movement of the American people by demanding an end to the
South Viet Namwar, rapid withdrawal of all UStroops from South Viet Namand restoration of peace in Viet Namas well as in Indochina.
Another document believed to from the Hoai Haong District Party Committee,
, Viet Cong Region 6 adds: Bin Tuy Province
The spontaneous antiwar movements in the
UShave received assistance and guidance from the friendly North Viet Namdelegation at the Peace Talks. Of the Paris antiwar movements, the two most important ones are: The PCPJ (the People's Committee for Peace and Justice) and the NPAC (National Peace Action Committee). These two movements have gathered much strength and staged many demonstrations. The PCPJ is the most important. It maintains relations with us. US
Anti-War Activists hand out Propaganda Leaflets
The term useful idiots was coined by the leaders of the Soviet Union to describe those in the West who naively promoted the cause of Communism when in reality they were cynically used by the Communist hierarchy. The use of the term in political discourse has since been extended to other propagandists, especially those who are seen to unwittingly support a malignant cause which they na´vely believe to be a force for good. This Bob Langer Chicago Sun-Times wire photo depicts American anti-war activists handing out leaflets entitled Vietnam Moratorium No More, on 15 October 1969.
The American people are struggling fiercely
An example of how college students and others were used by the Communists is found in this South Vietnam Liberation National Front leaflet that mentions three anti-war actions. The first is a California University demonstration in May 1965, the second a mothers group sending a letter to President Johnson on 21 June 1965, and the third a demonstration in San Francisco on 25 June 1965. Leaflets of this type were meant to demoralize the American soldier by showing him that he had no support at home.
Carolyn Page mentions U.S. anti-war groups in U.S. Official Propaganda during the Vietnam War, 1965-1973, Leicester University Press, London, 1996:
The U.S. anti-war groups and the arguments used to criticize U.S. involvement in the conflict were of value to the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Here were ready-made divisions to exploit and arguments to use in addition to their own propaganda lines. This was probably doubly welcome in view of the vast differences in culture in society between America and Vietnam, which would pose the first problem for a propagandist; understanding the enemy environment in order to attack it most effectively.
YANKS COME HOME! GO HOME
A second leaflet with the same theme shows a group marching under a banner that reads:
International Days of Protest Against the War in Vietnam.
Some of the text on the back is:
Yanks! Come home! That's what they are saying in the States. They're right! There's no reason for you to be away from home.
YANKS COME HOME
An interesting South Vietnam National Liberation Front leaflet depicts a soldier in a tunnel moving toward a distant opening. It is clearly a satiric reference to General Westmorelands comment about seeing light at the end of the tunnel; a reference to an eventual victory in the Vietnam War. The text on the front of the leaflets is:
The only way out
Come home now.
The back of the leaflet is all text. Some of the comments are:
YANKS COME HOME
Thats what theyre crying in the States. Theyre right! Theres no reason for you to be away from home.
YANKS GO HOME
Thats what theyre shouting all over
. Theyre right! Theres no reason for you to be here where nobody except a few crooks who betray their own people want you. South Vietnam
YANKS COME HOME!
Courtesy Major Hammond Salley
Another leaflet using the same title is this all-text leaflet printed on a thin pulp paper in brown ink. Some of the text on the back urges U.S. Troops to:
Support the present movement of the American people to demand the ending of Johnsons war in Vietnam and repatriation of American GIs.
This leaflet asks the Americans why they have come 10,000 miles to fight in a civil war. In points out the injury done to the Vietnamese people by napalm, white phosphorous, and poison gas. It compares American troops with German troops who committed atrocities on the command of Adolf Hitler. It is a fairly effective text.
Two other of Captain Salleys leaflets brought back from Vietnam are printed in orange ink with the title Why? and in black ink without title but with the first line of text: American servicemen will not fight in the war against the South Vietnamese people and serve as cannon-fodder for U.S. monopoly capitalists.
Why and Whom
This leaflet also asks why? Some of the text is:
Why has the ruling circle sent you over here? Because they want the big dollar profit from the Vietnam War .
The leaflet has Vietnamese text on the back and the code M-56919. The M means American.
HANG ON TO YOUR HEAD
This National Liberation Front leaflet dated February 1967 depicts a rusting helmet on the ground with a flower growing through it. The symbolism is good. It implies American death and defeat, and the flower was a hippy symbol of peace, often placed in the barrel of a soldier's rifle. The back is all text. Some of the message is:
HANG ON TO YOUR HEAD
now number over 400,000. GIs killed, maimed or missing more than 131,000. Vietnam
Lots of soldiers
Lots of money
Lots of hardware
Lots of coffins!
Better make it out before youre pushing up daisies too.
GO HOME ALIVE!
End the War in Vietnam
An occasional theme of the NLF was a demand for peaceful negotiation. They produced a leaflet that shows a symbol of peace on the front, a female holding a palm frond. Above her are the words "END THE WAR IN VIETNAM." There is a long message on the back; some pertinent comments are, "Peace! Negotiations! Cry the U.S. warmakers. But peace has not come yet. Because the Americans and their puppets want no serious talks yet "
Black Men Should Not Fight in Vietnam for Racist America
"I wish I were an Alabama trooper..."
Some of the NLF leaflets emphasized the racial problems at home. One depicts black men holding a sign that says:
Black men should not fight in Vietnam for racist U.S.A." Some of the text on back is, "I wish I were an Alabama trooper, that is what I would truly like to be. I wish I was an Alabama trooper, cause then I could kill the niggers legally.
A similar leaflet depicts another anti-War crowd carrying signs such as Weapons cannot win the people and "Bring the troops home now. Some of the text on the back is:
The Vietnamese are not exploiting you nor discriminating against you. No Vietnamese shoots and kills Black freedom-fighters in the streets of
. The Vietnamese are fighting for their own independence and freedom. America
A small printed Viet Cong leaflet says simply:
There is no hatred among the Vietnamese people and your own ones. So why are you killing the Vietnamese?
G.I! DONT take part in any operations move forward shoot. You will return home safely!
Demand the war end
A second such piece has the text:
Demand the war end and your home repatriation! The Vietnamese affairs should be settled by the Vietnamese themselves.
I have seen a number of these small leaflets with short text messages and no images. In one case, all were numbered. Some of the messages are:
No. 2 U.S. Armymen in South Vietnam! Why should she wait for a man who is coming back as an invalid, or an amputee or not coming back at all? The legal officer of U.S. Headquarters in Saigon is processing ten divorces a day. If you still want that wife, hurry home!
No. 5 Whats in it for you GI? McNamara says Americans will have to learn to accept casualties. And that means you brother. You wont find him sweating in the jungle or going home in a coffin. There aren't any bombs planted in the Pentagon, like there will be in your barracks, you base or the local bar.
No. 6 So whats in it for you? Combat pay and a Purple Heart if you are one of the lucky ones. And what about the others? The Marines who dont come out of the jungle; the pilots who dont make it back from their missions; the guys going home that got hit in the Saigon airport. Their combat pay doesn't do them much good when they go home in a box. Better think it over soldier There isn't much in it for you!
Another leaflet says in part:
When you fight against foreign aggressors to defend your FATHERLAND and your PEOPLE, your implementing your CODE OF CONDUCT is legitimate.
However, the present Johnson - McNamaras dirty war of aggression against the Vietnamese people, implementing your CODE OF CONDUCT does not make sense at all.
Two other Viet Cong leaflets bear similar titles. A second variety with the same title says in part:
What profit does the Johnson, McNamara aggressive war in Vietnam bring to American capitalists? Thousands of millions of dollars!
Another leaflet is entitled U.S. Armymen in South Vietnam! It has an image of a dead American soldier and says:
A death in a lost cause
OFFICERS AND MEN! U. S.
Another all-text leaflet reminds the Americans of their own fight for freedom against the British. It says in part:
In former times, your ancestors heroically opposed British imperialism to realize independence, freedom to the
. That was a just war, approved by the American people and supported by the worlds people Americas
Apparently the Viet Cong were unaware of the vast number of Royalists who supported the British during the revolutionary War, and the even greater number of Europeans who though that the rebels were upstarts that should be beaten down.
U.S OFFICERS AND MEN!
I was not going to add this leaflet because we actually show the Officers and men comment about 10 times in this article. However, the story makes this item particularly interesting.
My friend SP4 Keith Klemba served in the 1st Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Division, operating out of the Marine Base Camp on Hill 29 in I Corps. He served in Vietnam for 14 months from 1968-1969. On one occasion the men were camped near the Chu Lai Beach in the summer of 1969. When they woke up they found the above leaflet on top of each tent. The VC had somehow infiltrated during the night, perhaps from the water, got past the look-outs and left each tent a leaflet. They could have just as easily cut some throats. Keith told me:
We were lucky that night that we were not killed and only received this leaflet.
US OFFICERS AND MEN!
The vast majority of the leaflets using this title are all text. This leaflet has an image of President Lyndon B. Johnson on the front so I thought it was worth adding. Johnson is deep in thought and we can see that he is thinking about armed troops in Vietnam. The message on the back is in English and Vietnamese and says in part:
Johnson proclaims he wants peace negotiations without pre-conditions, but in fact the US wants:
1. To partition VN permanently into two separate states.
2. To have US troops occupy permanently South VN
This title was a favorite of the Viet Cong. I have seen many such leaflets. Five with identical titles talk of Viet Cong victories over U.S. forces; How precious American lives are and why they should be protected; American anti-war movements; the rotten regime in Saigon; and the fact that the Vietnamese are not the enemies of America and the war is a Civil War.
U. S. ARMYMEN!
Another all-text leaflet says in rather bad grammar and spelling:
U. S. ARMYMEN!
The contention that the Americans oppose the Vietnamese who aggrese
, on the Vietnamese territory is nothing but a farce! Vietnam
Is it conceivable that you, a fair minded person, believe the deceitful contentions of Johnson Macnamara?
Why sacrifice your youthful days, bury your honor and life in the
battlefieds? South Vietnam
Lance-corporal WayneEvans was stationed in from February 1966 to March 1967. He was a member of Whiskey Battery, 2nd Battalion of the 11th Marines attached to Battalion Landing Team (1st Battalion/5th Marines)which offloaded from the USS Princeton LPH-5 and set up a firebase about 12-15 miles northwest of Chu Lai on the west side of Highway 1 and did helicopter assaults from firebases Red Hill and Hill 35. He was wounded on 11 September 1966 at 0140 during a mortar and small arms attack on his perimeter security position. He brought back the above poorly printed leaflet which he found in a Viet Cong tunnel entrance on Operation Apache in June 1966. He says: Vietnam
I was with my fire team and we came upon a tunnel within the village. I looked down the vertical entrance of the tunnel (about 3 feet) and could barely see the writing on this leaflet and it looked curious. After checking for booby traps I stepped into the tunnel entrance and bent down to look closer. As I bent down to retrieve the leaflet a tarantula the size of a Buick reared up it front legs to take me on. I'll never forget that event.
This exact same message has been seen on a second leaflet without the fancy border and bird design at the bottom. It was simply printed on a plain piece of paper in a different font and style.
Captain Watts Caudill was the Commander of B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 . On 26 November 1967, his position in War Zone C, west of Highway 13 and 10 miles south of Loc Nin was attacked by North Vietnamese troops. After an all night battle that included American gunships and artillery the enemy forces slipped away at dawn. As the Americans scouted the area the following day they found small folded leaflets left by the enemy. The outside of the leaflet had faded red text on the front and back of the poor quality paper. The text on the back is in Vietnamese and the English language text on the front is:
S.V.N.N.F.L. Policy towards U.S. and Alien Officers and Men
When opened, there is a longer text in black ink that describes the policy. Some of the text is:
The Front protects the life and grants lenient treatment to U.S. and other alien surrendered officers and men. It gives proper care to the wounded.
The Front takes care of the P.O.W's material and spiritual life, creates conditions to give back freedom to them when conditions permit it.
Beneath each of the two paragraphs mentioned above are three explanatory paragraphs.
It should be noted that the S.V.N.N.F.L. is the South Viet Nam National Front for Liberation. The Communist front was founded in 1960.
Sometimes you just run across a leaflet you love because of the fractured English. This leaflet is Vietnamese on one side and something similar to English on the other. The Brown-water Navy types who found this leaflet were near Cu Chi and the Iron Triangle and faced both NVA and Viet Cong. They were one of the first PBR units on Operation Slingshot in December 1968. Three Navy taskforces in the
MekongDelta were combined to form one force to combat the enemy on a single large front. This new force was dubbed Operation SEALORDS and was designated Task Force 194. Some of the text of this leaflet is:
American gis para christmas and new year have come! Your pariets your families and. Your dead budkis are longing for and very much worried about you para every one is praying to god for your afety from the sendekess and shameful deathin the usijust war being waged byu
Another leaflet with the same title was found in 1970. As usual, the grammar and spelling are all wrong but I leave it as is for the reader.
Your loved ones back home don't want you are far away from home ten thousands of miles to die uselessly for the selfish interests of a few men. They are struggling to demand an end to the war in order to bring you home alive.
Why can you help being forced to be the last one killed in this war by a warlike company in washington?"
Do listen to the angry voice of your people in the demons trations against the Nixon's war on this october.
Rise up! Refuse to fight to demand an end to the war, peace for Vietnam Repatriation of all u.s troops.
Quangnam National Front for Liberation
Another Viet Cong leaflet with G.I.s as a title. I chose this leaflet because it shows a little knowledge of GI speak. The leaflet mentions DEROS three times and I was surprised that they knew the word, an abbreviation of Date Eligible for Return From Overseas. Almost every soldier knew his dates, when his tour was almost over and he was short, and the date he could return home. How odd that the Viet Cong should use that term three times in one leaflet. This leaflet was found by Sergeant (E-5) Dennis Moore, an 11B infantryman of the Roadrunner platoon, 1st of the 22nd, 4th Infantry Division. He found the leaflet sometime in 1969-1970. Note that the VC mention the 4th Division in their propaganda text so this should be considered a tactical leaflet, one aimed at the enemy directly in front of you and not a strategic leaflet that uses a more general propaganda.
Korean Officers and Soldiers
There were Korean military units helping the South Vietnamese, and the Viet Cong knew it. Here they print a leaflet aimed at the Koreans. It was found at a construction site of a new air base at Phu Cat on 17 June 1966. Other such leaflets were also found by the Koreans. The 10,000-foot landing strip was being built by the Koreans and protected by the Republic of Korea Capital Division. An American critique of the leaflet points out that the Koreans dont feel themselves racially allied to the Vietnamese, they would be insulted by an attack on their leader Park Chung Hee, and the Viet Cong would have no way to repatriate them. Some of the text of this leaflet is:
Vietnamese people are the same as Korean people. Korean soldiers and officers are also Asian. Asians dont kill Asians Object to the revolutionary government of Park Chung Hee Do not take part in operations to kill Vietnamese, burn homes, sabotage and attack villages. Go back home. The liberation movement forces in South Vietnam have a policy to return you to your home to be together with your families.
250,000 Expeditionary French
I added this leaflet to drive home the point that genuine Viet Cong leaflets were often printed from hand-carved wood or rubber blocks, always on cheap paper and generally did not last long in the tropical climate of
Southeast Asia. Compare this leaflet to all the fancy full-color fakes on perfect paper or cardboard for sale today. The language is also interesting. They seldom got it right. This leaflet says:
250,000 expeditionary French corpses were routed here. Dont follow their footsteps!
Dont massacre innocent children, weak women!
Stop terrorist raids, massacre, plunder, house burning and wemen raping.
Dont sow death and destruction then you will not be given any harm.
I assume they meant to say that 250,000 French soldiers were routed here, or 250,000 corpses were left here. They managed somehow to imply that they had routed the corpses. They misspelled woman on the back as wemen. Finally, instead of saying you will not be harmed, they say you will not be given any harm. This is a perfect example of a guerrilla band in the bush trying to produce an English-language leaflet.
Notice also the comments added by the American troops that found the leaflet and a second comment perhaps from their officer or S2. Some of the (edited) comments are:
Three Viet Cong killed in action.
soldier killed in action. United States
Other comments tell the date the leaflet was found, the general vicinity, the unit, and point out that the leaflet was found lying beside road.
A veteran from the 199th Light Infantry Brigade said after perusing this leaflet:
Sir Charles tried to scare us with those things in the 199th Area of Operations. It didn't work. Then again, I'm not sure how much good the Chieu Hoi pamphlets that we dropped on them did either. It always freaked me out to walk thru an area where those Chieu Hoi pamphlets were littering the ground.It kind of made you think that maybe it was Charlie's country.Of course, it usually was. I found it kind of hard to accept a Chieu Hoi after he had run out of ammo, defected, and your buddy was dead.
However, we did have an outstanding Kit Carson scout and that was where we got him. He would use his Viet Cong sapper skills to come thru our perimeter at the firebase and it was downright scary to watch.
There were a number of Viet Cong leaflets addressed to American Servicemen. This one with red text is interesting because it accuses Americans of atrocities. Some of the text is:
Dont fire at and spray suffocating gas into our peoples air and cannon shelters. Dont destroy crop, kill domestic animals and plunder our peoples property. Repression, terrorism, massacre, house burning, woman raping are not the democratic Americans ideals. Stop spraying noxious chemicals in Vietnam.
The leaflet is signed on the back by the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation and has additional text:
Stop the war of aggression in South Vietnam! bloods of American and Vietnam youth have been shed too much. Peace in South Vietnam and repatriation for all U.S. Troops!
A second South Vietnam National Front for Liberation leaflet uses the same title but has a longer message in black ink. Some of the text is:
Show yourselves worthy children of the great American people: Act courageously as your conscience and justice loving spirit tell you to do. Demand your immediate repatriation to enjoy the sweetness at being at home again.
If Johnson, McNamara and the like want war, tell them to go to South Vietnam by themselves. They will know what a guerillas blow is like...
This version of the American Servicemen leaflet from the Quangnam National Front for Liberation was found in 1970 and has the following text:
American service men!
Intellectuals, students and U.S. progressive people all over the United States have no desire to support this war. They don't want their boys dead uselessly as 35,000 U.S. boys have laid down their lives in Vietnam for the selfish interests of Nixon. The have absolutely condemned the Nixon's war and demanded an end to this war, Repatriation of all U.S. troops.
As being the soldiers in the Vietnam battlefield why can yhou help being forced to get killed in this dirty war of Nixon?
There are at least three varieties of a leaflet with the same title and the text starting:
Why are your bloods shed too much in South Vietnam.
AMERICAN SERVICEMEN IN
I could add another dozen such all-text leaflets to this article but I think I will stop with this piece taken from the body of a Viet Cong guerrilla on 1 September 1966. The leaflet is signed by the
Liberation National Front and uses Christmas as a theme to demoralize American troops and make them long for home. Some of the poorly written text is: South Vietnam
Why you cant enjoy Christmas eve besides your loved ones at home?
U.S.government has been waging the aggressive war in which against Amrican interests. You are forced to commit these atrocious transgressions: in the daily raids women, children are killed: poison gas is used to massacre honest people; villages are burnt; churches are destroyed .in that situation how can Vietnamese people have a happy Christmas? south Vietnam
There are handwritten comments on the back of this leaflet by the unit who discovered it. Lieutenant Groom states that it was found on the body of a dead Viet Cong on 1 September 1966, near map coordinate YA 850130, by the 1st Psywar Intelligence team.
Another NLF leaflet reported that blacks were given all the dirty and dangerous jobs. The leaflet went so far to suggest that black GIs refuse to fight and surrender so that they could be sent home. The leaflet reads in part:
In combat in Vietnam you are forced to:
- Go first
- Withdraw last
- Stay in the outer ring
- Do the hardest and the most dangerous jobs!
In Vietnam casualty rates for blacks are much higher than whites!
In the states you are called niggers! The Vietnamese people are not your enemy!
Refuse to obey all combat orders! Sit on the fence! Refuse to interfere in the internal affairs of your Vietnamese brothers! Refuse to perpetuate crimes against them! When under attack, lay down your weapons, let yourselves be captured: you will be taken alive and will eventually be allowed to return home.
Cross over to the S.V.N.F.L.: youll be warmly welcomed and receive all possible help to return to the United States or seek asylum in a foreign country. Demand to be sent home immediately! Your true struggle is in the United States.
A 21 March 1970 report from Marine Combined Action Platoon (CAP) 4-1-1 tells of a running gunfight with a number of Viet Cong. It ends:
The Patrol returned to the Area of Operations and conducted a sweep of the area, producing one B-40 rocket and propaganda leaflets on racism.
We cannot determine which of the Viet Cong leaflets with a theme of racism was found, but it could well have been one of the above.
"...we put you right up front".
How Democracy Operates
Another NLF leaflet featured the myth that minority troops were dying in greater numbers than their white comrades did. The leaflet has a cartoon on the front where a staff sergeant says to his assembled troops:
Back home in the States, negroes are at the end of the line, but here in Vietnam it's different - we put you right up front.
False claims are made on the back that:
11 percent of the U.S. population are Negroes. 30 percent of the G.I.s in Vietnam are Negroes. 40% of G.I. deaths in Vietnam are Negroes.
In reality, white troops died at a slightly higher percentage than in the general population.
BLACK G.I. IN THE U.S. ARMY
Courtesy Major Hammond Salley
This leaflet speaks for itself. It tells the finder that blacks in the U.S.A are being abused, oppressed, exploited, manhandled, and murdered by racist authorities. There is a long propaganda text on both the front and back.
Another leaflet shows a black man being arrested by a club-bearing white police officer. A picture on the back depicts a black soldier crawling in a swamp. Some of the text on the back is:
The Vietnam is 'a hell hole of racism for the Negroes GIs over and above the usual hell of war' ( Philadelphia Independent).
Your real enemies are those who call you 'Niggers.'
Your genuine struggle is on your native land.
GO HOME NOW AND ALIVE!
What is particularly interesting about this leaflet is that copies were found in 2006 in the Ban Bac ammo dump along the Hoc Chi Minh Trail buried in a pit with other war supplies and ammunition.
Although this is not the leaflet mentioned by retired Master Sergeant Gregory H. Murry in his book Content with my Wages A Sergeants Story - Vietnam, No End to Publishing Co., Austin, Texas, 2013, the message is similar. He says:
One day when we were clearing the sides of Highway 13 I found a red piece of paper on the ground near the road. It was printed in English and the message was aimed at the black soldiers. It asked them why they were fighting and dying in Vietnam when the country that sent them here wouldnt let them enjoy the same rights as the white soldiers. It mentioned the lynchings, bombings and murders that were a regular occurrence in the south during the civil rights struggle that was taking place at this time.
You Go In....You Come Out
What's In Washington's War for You?
Another NLF leaflet claimed that the war in Vietnam was for profit. There was a myth during the war that Vietnam was floating on a sea of oil and that was why the United States had chose to take part. Other rumors claimed that LBJ and his wife were getting rich from government contracts. A third rumor was that the
United Stateswas stripping of zinc. These rumors were all nonsense, but at the time many people were willing to believe them. The leaflet depicts an American patrol in the bush at the left and the text "You go in," while at the right coffins are depicted draped with the American flag and the text "You come out." The back of the leaflet explains what the war is all about: Vietnam
For Herbert Fuller of New York (with 10 million invested in a sugar mill at Tuy Hoa, South Vietnam) the answer is simple: 'I'm in it for the money," he says. Gloating over your corpse, he adds: "Once you've cleared the land, we'll get back our investment in two years."
Don't Support A Government without Supporters
Another popular theme of the leaflets was that Vietnam was a civil war and the people should be allowed to settle their differences as had been done in the American Civil War. One such leaflet depicted an anti-war demonstration with people holding signs such as Stop the killing. The text on the front is:
Demand the Nixon administration immediately end its war of aggression in Vietnam without posing any condition whatsoever. Demand immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and troops of other foreign countries in the U.S. camp. Let the South Vietnamese people settle their own affairs.
There is a long message on the back. Much of the message attacks the legitimacy of the government and its leaders, and that is a direct attack on the current leader:
You probably remember what the dictator Nguyen Cao Ky said at a press conference on June 21, 1965: "I have only one idol, Adolph Hitler."
Other NLF leaflets simply wanted the Americans out and used a theme of sadness and homesickness. One shows an anti-war demonstration on the leaflet front. An American allegedly wrote the text on the back:
COMIN HOME SOON. Theres a mother in California, whose heart is aching now. Theres a girl in Indiana who feels the same somehow. Theres a guy far away at a place they call Da Nang, thats the cause of all this pain.
Flag draped coffins
The photo in the above leaflet shows a number of flag draped coffins being loaded onto planes for transport back home. The text on the reverse warned thatL
Escalators go up or down
But Johnsons escalation can only take you one way
into a coffin of rough pine (if they can find your remains).
I have seen this leaflet in two versions. One on a photographic paper as above, and one on a pulp paper with the image in green.
Another colorful leaflet that mentions President Johnson depicts a question mark and the title:
Is President Johnson toying with
Aren't You Sick Too?
Another leaflet showed a group of soldier on the front with the text:
Youre not the only one whos sick of this war.
Private David Carnevale allegedly wrote the letter on the back of the leaflet. He was killed in action just three days later, according to the NLF. Some of his comments are:
I feel as if I were 100 years old. My luck is running out. Please do what you can for me. Dad, I dont want to die! Please get me out of here!
In Danang Hell
This remarkable folded leaflet has four pages of propaganda. The front shows a photo of an American GI suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the magazine Paris Match. The text goes on to tell of the 3rd Marine Division and Army 1st Infantry Division in recent battles. Page two is entitled Its a Hell of a Life, and describes life inside the base camp; tropical heat, stress and disease. Outside the base, it warns of Mosquitoes, ants, leeches, spike traps, mines, sniper fire and hand grenades. On page three, the Viet Cong claim to have killed 139 Marines on the night of 27 May 1965. Another 95 Marines were allegedly killed on 5 June 1965. On 30 June 1965, the Viet Cong brag of a great victory at Danang Airbase, inflicting 139 casualties on U.S. troops. The back of the leaflet depicts a mother near her sons casket. The leaflet asks in part. Why should you die in South Vietnam? The leaflet is signed by the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation.
The image of the mother with coffin above is also found on the back of a leaflet entitled American Servicemen in South Vietnam. Some of the text is:
Try to avoid your families such grief as that has fallen to this mother, Carmen Salcido.
He Lie Dead
Courtesy Major Hammond Salley
This Viet Cong leaflet seems to show a dead GI at the top, either covered or in a body bag. The printing is so crude that I cannot see it clearly. Once again the VC show their lack of English grammar. The text says in part:
He lie dead in Vietnam for whom?
For corrupt and power-hungry South Vietnamese leaders, whose own people do not support them.
Some of the text on the back is:
Tell President Johnson: We want to be brought home now alive! Withdraw U.S. troops from South Vietnam and let the Vietnamese settle their own affairs themselves!
The South Vietnam Liberation Army.
MY OPINIONS ON THE VIETNAM WAR
A second leaflet by the South Vietnam Liberation Army is a tri-fold leaflet that opens to show six pages. The cover is entitled My Opinions on the Vietnam War and appears to be a booklet written by Captain W. F. Eisenbraun, an advisor to the 1st Battalion, 51st Infantry. There is an interesting photograph of an anti-War rally on the back and four pages of text. Some of the text is:
There is a war in Vietnam because of the aggressive policy of the U.S. Government The United States attempts to turn South Vietnam into U.S. military base. The U.S. Government has joined hands with the Saigon lackeys in using armed force to suppress the just struggle of the South Vietnamese people for freedom and independence .
Will they still be with you next Mothers Day?
Specialist Fourth Class William Brewer picked up this leaflet about 1969 while a member of the 4th Infantry Division. He carried it in his wallet during his entire tour in Vietnam. It depicts two children on the front and asks in part:
Will they still be with you next Mothers Day?
and in the years to come?
Or will they be sacrificed for the growing war in Asia?
The back depicts an anti-war demonstration and the text with one noticeable spelling error:
Son Come back home!
Dont make me saffer thinking you can die without
Glory in this dirty war.
Our Resounding Victories
The brochure is folded into eight pages. It bears one illustration which seems to be of
troops carrying casualties to a helicopter. The text inside is a dairy of battles in which the Viet Cong claims that the U.S. forces were soundly defeated. The brochure is signed by the Liberation Army. An example is: U.S.
June 18 26, 1966
U.S.troops of the 101st Division of paratroopers and the First Air Mobile Cavalry Division were killed or wounded by the Liberation Army at Tuy An ( ). Phu Yen Province
A Second Our Resounding Victories Brochure in Red
The same 8-page booklet with the same title is also found in red. However, this version has no photographs but instead is all text starting with the title Armymen Belonging to US Expeditionary Forces in South Vietnam and ending with the Viet Cong flag. I show the last page with flag above.
The South Vietnamese People are bound to win
The Viet Cong booklet in English depicts the charging mass of Vietnamese people attacking forward, surely to defeat the United States and the Government of South Vietnam.
Anti-War Activist Bertrand Russell
This 16-page booklet has the first eight pages in English, the last eight pages in Vietnamese. Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. In 1920, Russell paid a short visit to Russia to study the conditions of Bolshevism on the spot. In the autumn of the same year he went to China to lecture on philosophy at the Peking University. In 1958 he became the founding President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In 1961 he was imprisoned for one week in connection with anti-nuclear protests and in 1963 he established the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. During his life due to his political activities he was fired from Trinity College, Cambridge, and the City College of New York.
Letter of the SVNNFL to U.S. Servicemen
This 15-page booklet dated 20 December 1965 tells American troops that they are fighting a dirty, illegal war serving the interests of American monopoly capitalists. It compares U.S. actions in Vietnam to British action in colonial America. It ends by asking American troops to oppose the war and it claims the National Liberation Front has released two prisoners in keeping with its policy of leniency. They are named as regular army soldiers Claude McClure and George Edward Smith.
I decided to add this Viet Cong two-fold (six-page) booklet because of the photograph on the cover. Notice the expression on the lead black soldier's face. His look is of absolute terror. The Communists probably got this photo from some American newspaper and made great use of it on this leaflet. The entire booklet is in blue with some touches of red to highlight the images. On the back of the booklet is a picture of a United States Air Force fighter aircraft which was apparently downed in May, 1965. The text on the cover is:
On 1 February 1966 an American unit from the 1st Air Cavalry Division that was conducting a sweep operation in northern Bong Son District, Binh Dinh Province, was attacked by Liberation Army forces. The terrified soldiers turned around and ran for their lives.
WHO IS DEFEATING WHOM IN SOUTH VIETNAM?
The people of Viet Nam will triumph!
That same photo of a black soldier running in panic is found in this highly-illustrated 54-page magazine along with many photographs of American bodies, American citizens demanding peace, captured GIs, American fighters in flames, Vietnamese youth holding rifles and of course, Ho Chi Minh. The magazine is written in Chinese and I dont know if it was printed for Chinese living in Vietnam or brought south by a Chinese advisor or volunteer. At any rate, it was found in Vietnam by American troops and forwarded to JUSPAO where it was filed in their archives. This magazine is volume four of a series with the title:
The people of Viet Nam will triumph! U.S. aggressors will be defeated!
The Viet Cong produced a number of English-language propaganda brochures. Two of them are; Antiwar Demonstrations and Solidarity with Vietnam Grows in the United States, and
Imperialists Number 1 Enemy to the progressive Peace-loving Peoples Throughout the World. U.S.
Patriotic Viet Cong Booklets
There were also a large number of patriotic Viet Cong booklets prepared for the Communist Vietnamese to motivate them to fight on and to educate the South Vietnamese on the policies of the North. We depict two that were captured in the
MekongDelta in 1968. The first booklet has 18 pages, the second one 30 pages.
The first booklet (all in black) says on the cover:
Big Victory from Citizens and Soldiers of North and
. South Vietnam
(Study Document for Liberation Members; for guerilla members for the purpose of public propaganda)
Bureau of Information Culture Education
Northwest Saigon- Cho Lon - Gia Dinh
The second booklet with the red text says on the cover:
Study Document for the Liberation Force for
37 Rules to Remember
Political Bureau F K II
The F is code for division; the K for Region and the II is Corps.
This bi-fold leaflet has four photographs on one side; a cemetery, a downed American aircraft, flag-draped coffins and war protestors. The other side is all text, signed by the South Vietnam National Liberation National Front. There are some grammatical errors. It says in part:
AMERICAN SERVICEMEN IN
! SOUTH VIETNAM
In November 1962, ex-President Eisenhower admitted that after years of fight in
South Vietnam, the United Stateshas realized that the wars carried in Asia by the expeditionary forces will never be victorious. U.S.
In December 1962, the late President Kennedy also said that the anti-guerrilla war in
South Vietnamis a hard thing and the are engaged in a tunnel the end of which cannot be seen. United States