SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
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 Statesfought in Vietnam, Cambodiawas a sanctuary for the Communist forces of and a transportation hub that brought weapons, ammunition and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. North Vietnam
In addition to using the Ho Chi Minh Trail in
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. Cambodia
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
Cambodiaas an ordnance depot, training center, and transportation route for materiel, men, medicine, and food, the Communists in could not possibly last out the year. South Vietnam
Graham A. Cosmas said about Cambodia in MACV, The Joint Command in the Years of Escalation, 1962–1967:
Cambodia - Beginning as early as 1964, South Vietnamese and later U.S. military intelligence had gradually accumulated evidence that the North Vietnamese, with at least the passive support of Prince Sihanouk’s government, were making extensive use of Cambodia not only as a location for camps and supply depots but also as a conduit and source of food, weapons, and munitions. By late 1966, the MACV Intelligence Directorate and other U.S. agencies were well on the way to establishing that the North Vietnamese were feeding their troops in the Central Highlands with Cambodian rice and that Communist arms were being delivered by ship to Sihanoukville, from whence they were flowing into the Mekong Delta. The extent of the enemy base network paralleling the South Vietnamese–Cambodian border also was well known.
The president and his advisers also gradually enlarged the scope of military action, especially in gathering additional information on enemy activities with which to influence Sihanouk. To that end, during 1966 and 1967, at the urging of the Joint Chiefs and General Westmoreland, they instituted step by step a highly secret program of air and ground reconnaissance of eastern Cambodia.
Diary of an Infiltrator
The N.Y. Times was correct. In the Diary of an Infiltrator, a report translated from a captured diary in December 1966, we find starving North Vietnamese soldiers in South Vietnam receiving supplies from Cambodia:
Moved 22 kilometers today. Rain has lessened but the wind is cold. Shortage of rice and other food. Troop morale is down.
More heavy rain. Mountain pass crossings are difficult. I am tired and hungry. Tired of Climbing mountains and wading streams. Hungry.
Had nothing to eat for a whole day. Found a wild vegetable which I ate, but was inedible. I thought I would die. Food is so precious. Rice is blood. Manioc is tears. Salt is perspiration. How powerful are hunger, thirst and weariness.
Many stragglers. More rain. Must trade personal belongings for food. They have only manioc or wild vegetable to trade. It is difficult to eat. Traded more belongings for food. I dont have much left to trade.
And then, a miracle:The top secret 1966 CIA Report: “Vietnamese Communists Will to Persist” Says about Cambodia (and remember this is 1966 and the war and ways to transport materials is still in its infancy):
The Station has just received rice supply from Cambodia. Troops here got 800 grams as well as 12 kilos to carry with them. What a relief!
Arrived at a (Highland) rest camp. We now will have one month to recuperate from our ordeal. We get three meals a day. Rice, salt and cooked vegetables, usually sweet potatoes. We can sometimes catch fish in the streams and eat them.
For years, the Viet Cong have used Cambodia as a sanctuary and a major source of supplies. With the expansion of Communist activities and the introduction of North Vietnamese Army units into the conflict, even greater use is being made of Cambodia as a sanctuary and source of supplies. The Viet Cong, and more recently the North Vietnamese forces use Cambodian territory in many areas along the 600-mile border for sanctuary and bivouac purposes. Important Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army military facilities, such as rest camps, training areas, hospitals, workshops, and storage depots, now operate in Cambodia.
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
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. Cambodia
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
Cambodias eastern provinces were occupied by the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces operating against . By 1969, as enemy activity grew, the South Vietnam United Statesopted to bomb the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong bases inside . 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 Lenawas a failure and was terminated.
American troop operations in
, 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 Cambodia SalemHouse as a codename for 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 Cambodia 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.
Gen. Lon Nol
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 Vietnamwas invading . 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 Cambodia tried to quietly help the new government. On 17 April it sent 6,000 captured AK-47 rifles to United States . 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 Phnom Penh 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. North Vietnam
This escalation of Communist forces probably led directly to the major Allied incursion into
in April 1970. Cambodia
The Cambodian Strike
On 30 April 1970 Richard Nixon announced that six thousand Army of the
Republicof Vietnamtroops, supported by U.S.advisors, artillery, and fighter bombers had invaded . His speech was reprinted in a booklet titled The Cambodian Strike Defensive action for peace. He said in part; Cambodia
Tonight American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters of the entire Communist military operation in
. This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong for five years in blatant violation of South Vietnam s neutrality. Cambodia
This is not an invasion of Cambodia. The areas in which these attacks will be launched are completely occupied and controlled by North Vietnamese forces. Our purpose is not to occupy the areas. Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw
Carolyn Page mentions Nixons 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 VietnamI want a precise report on what the enemy is doing in , 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. Cambodia
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.
Other comments by veterans on the secret bombings tell us that at first the bombing of Cambodia was a secret even to the pilots. On 18 March 1969, 60 B-52 bombers based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, were ordered to bomb Vietnam. Once in the air, 48 of the bombers were diverted across the Cambodian border where they bombed Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese Army targets. Apparently, the secret operation was first called “Breakfast” and approved by President Nixon on 15 March. The operation was later changed to “Menu.” A total of 3,630 flights over Cambodia dropped 110,000 tons of bombs during a 14-month period through April 1970. This bombing of Cambodia and all follow up “Menu” operations were kept secret from the American public and the U.S. Congress. The New York Times broke the story of the secret bombing campaign in May 1969, but nobody seemed to care.
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.
Out of Bounds: Transnational Sanctuary in Irregular Warfare
Thomas A. Bruscino, Jr.
The South Vietnamese-American incursion into
was grouped into three main attacks each with its own code-name. The Vietnamese deployed more troops than the Cambodia did, and probably as a result the code names were all in Vietnamese. U.S.
The Vietnamese II Corps and
Field Force I attack was code-named Binh Tay (Tame the West). U.S.
The Vietnamese III Corps and
Field Force II attack was code-named Toan Thang (Total Victory). U.S.
The Vietnamese IV Corps and U.S Delta Military Assistance Command advance was code-named Cuu Long (
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
. 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. Cambodia
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.
General Cao Van Vien and Lieutenant General Dong Van Khuyen mention their Vietnamese view of the Cambodian incursion in an Indochina Monograph published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, titled Reflections on the Vietnam War. The book was translated by Phillip Tran.
The change of leadership in Cambodia during March 1970 provided a most welcome opportunity for both the Republic of Vietnam and United States to reduce the problem of Communist sanctuaries and infiltration in Cambodia. The new Cambodian government's policies were harsh against Communist encroachment. Not only did it demand the withdrawal of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops from its soil, but the new government also denied the access of Kompong Som, a major Cambodian port, to Communist vessels which had been delivering war materials for enemy forces in the Mekong Delta, Military Region 3, and most of Military Region 2.
Whether separate or conducted in cooperation and coordination with U.S. forces, our cross-border operations into Cambodia were timely planned and well executed. In retrospect we can say that all these operations were a tactical and strategic success. They had helped both the Republic of Vietnam and United States achieve two major objectives. First, our forces destroyed or seriously disrupted most enemy sanctuaries along the Cambodian border, which effectively brought the war further away from South Vietnam's populated areas. Second, these operations bought more time for the Vietnamization program to proceed. As his major units were driven deeper into Cambodia and his sanctuaries neutralized, the enemy lost a major source of support for his local and guerrilla forces. More favorable conditions were thereby created for our pacification and development efforts to succeed. This challenge also made the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces feel more confident and allowed the uneventful redeployment of 150,000 U.S. troops.
Tactically speaking, most objectives contemplated were fully attained. Enemy base areas were seized, and important supply caches discovered, evacuated, or destroyed. The enemy's communication and logistic system in the Cambodian border area suffered such a beating that it required from six months to one year to rehabilitate. The amount of ammunition captured and destroyed in-place during two months of operations was equivalent to the enemy's consumption during 1969. Although there were no engagements with major enemy units, the casualties suffered by the enemy would take him from four to six months to replace.
Along with the military actions, the Allies used psychological operations (PSYOP). American aircraft dropped leaflets over
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 Cambodia United Stateswas 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 Statesthat practiced psychological operations in . The new Cambodia Khmer Republicalso 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 Defense Attachés monthly assessment reports: U.S.
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
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. National Building
In December 1972, US government aircraft dropped 35 million copies of Rally to the National Government leaflets. This was the first use of
aircraft in support of PSYOP efforts for FANK. The U.S. also dropped 300,000 copies of FANK Commander Sosthene Fernandezs First Order of the Day, and 100,000 copies of Lon Nols ideas. All printing was done by the 7th PSYOP Group in U.S. 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
. The Communists regularly used his name to gain the support of the people. Cambodia
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, HanoiInternational, 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
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. U.S.
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 StatesSenate Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations Assistance to the Khmer Republic ( ). Cambodia
This senate study of activities in
Cambodianotes that about $520,000 in 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). U.S.
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
. Both of these payments were from the Pacific Command Psychological Operations Fund. The Cambodia United Statesgave about $70,000 to radio , mostly parts and equipment. It also loaned a 10 kilowatt portable transmitter to improve the medium wave signal. Cambodia
Even more interesting, the Central Intelligence Agency representative stated that he had just four to six persons in
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 . Cambodia
By coincidence, I recently spoke to a friend who claimed to have jumped into
. 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 Cambodiaseemed rather strange but further research indicated that the United Statesrecognizes (quietly) 13 separate static line jumps over North Vietnam, Laosand 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? Cambodia
Unofficial SOG Pro-War Medallion
I dont 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.
Meanwhile, the new
Khmer Republics 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 Statespromised help, but just as in Vietnamthe Congress refused additional aid for so the airlift of ammunition and never got off the ground. Cambodia surrendered on 17 April 1975. The Domino Theory became real as Phnom Penh Vietnam, Laosand all fell to the Communists. Cambodia
Operation Camel Path
Supplies being transported down the trail
The leafleting of North Vietnamese troops in
Cambodiawas 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
. The Commander, 7th Air Force was tasked with the responsibility of carrying out the leaflet drops. Republicof Vietnam
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
. 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 Cambodia . 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.
leaflet drops from Cambodian air space were never officially acknowledged. In fact, the Secretary of Defense forwarded the following guidance: U.S.
Under no circumstances will anyone having knowledge about these operations acknowledge that leaflets are being dropped over
. 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, encouraging their defection by explaining the Government of Vietnams Chieu Hoi Program and providing safe conduct passes. Cambodia
In the event of incidents involving the loss of US personnel or aircraft, official spokesman will respond to public on the following basis: If inquiry arises from a story or accusation from a Communist source, decline comment; in response to other inquiries, spokesman may acknowledge the possibility of inadvertent entry into Cambodian air space by elements operating in South Vietnam as a result of navigational error.
We don’t often see the code word for the Cambodian PSYOP campaign mentioned, but in one June 1970 secret memorandum for the president from Henry Kissinger we find:
We have expanded the area of CAMEL PATH Operations, psywar leaflet drops directed against Vietnamese Communist forces in Cambodia. We are also getting ready to use captured documents in this PSYWAR effort.
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.
This leaflet features a North Vietnamese wife thinking of her husband while trying to feed her family. The text is:
WILL THIS WAR LAST ANOTHER 20 OR 30 YEARS OR LONGER?
The wife’s thoughts as shown in the bubbles are:
Bitterness in the heart- The husband is away – There is not enough food.
The text on the back is:
TO NORTHERN OFFICERS, NCOs, AND SOLDIERS
Here is the latest report about your families in the North at the present time. Rice, sugar, meat, milk, and clothes are distributed by rationing according to work performance. The old people and children get truly little. Many commodities have become scarce or disappeared from the market. The black market is thriving in the cities and the goods are sold at two or three times their official prices. Salaries are as low as they used to be.
This is the time for anyone who thinks of his family to help bring an early end to the war, seek opportunities to leave your units. If captured, you will be kindly treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. If you answer the Chieu Hoi appeal and decide to join the ranks of the Free Vietnamese, you will be warmly welcomed.
DON’T RISK YOUR LIFE USELESSLY BY STAYING WITH YOUR UNITS.
We know that this leaflet was also dropped along the Ho Chi Minh Trail since it is also coded T-017.
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
. They were JUSPAO leaflets and were a standard surrender/POW mix. Chieu Hoi leaflets, like the ones we used in Cambodia South Vietnamcould not be used because there was no Chieu Hoi Program in . Leaflet operations were also conducted in Cambodia in the 4th Divisions 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 Vietnam . 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 Cambodiato exploit the fact that they were no longer safe in 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. Cambodia
South Vietnam's 3rd Marine Battalion found a heavily camouflaged bunker complex near the Cambodian border containing enough light and heavy weapons to equip and sustain a North Vietnamese Army regiment for several days. A number of 240mm rockets, twice the size of any missiles previously introduced into the communist war arsenal, were found for the first time. This weapon can carry a 45 kilogram warhead up to 10 kilometers. The cache contained several tons of ammunition, anti-aircraft machine guns, assault rifles, Soviet-made 122m rockets and launchers, and 60mm and 81mm mortars. Over 800 Marines labored for four days to remove all the supplies. (Photo via the Douglas Pike Collection)
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.
Bernard C. Nalty says about the use of airpower in the Cambodian incursion in Air War over South Vietnam 1968–1975:
Air Force C–130s scattered propaganda leaflets over Cambodia. At first the printed messages fell among the border bases, urging the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong defenders to lay down their weapons. Later, as the enemy regrouped to the west and began attacking Khmer outposts, the air war expanded accordingly, and Air Force psychological warfare specialists began using leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts to warn Cambodian noncombatants of strikes against targets nearby.
The operational precautions insisted upon in Cambodia differed little from those enforced in South Vietnam. Cambodian authorities had to validate targets, periodically reviewing those roads, areas, or waterways they had already certified as enemy-controlled and cleared of noncombatants. Airmen might attack trucks travelling by night, the time favored by enemy drivers, or motorboats moving at any time, even though the road or stream was known to carry civilian traffic. After all, the peasants of eastern Cambodia rarely, if ever, used trucks or powered boats. Before attempting to disrupt enemy movement on any highway or river used by local civilians, planners relied upon leaflets or loudspeaker broadcasts to warn villagers of the danger, advising them to avoid travel after dark.
When we discuss leaflets for
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. Cambodia
Type One Leaflets Vietnamese Language
The codes on the leaflets of the Vietnam War are very puzzling. Early in the war, codes were just put on helter-skelter with no real pattern. Later, they went to great pains to prepare official codes that often tell the expert when, where, and why a leaflet was prepared. Often, the code is the only clue we find to tell us why a leaflet was prepared. I have spent 20 years trying to break the codes and I have learned most of them. However, there are still a few that are impossible.
The first leaflet we depict from this series has a code bearing the “T” for “Ho Chi Minh Trail.” Cambodia was part of that trail, so that makes sense. The number “1” implies that it was the first of this series. The “CP” stands for “Camel Path,” and that is exactly what we should expect for a leaflet targeting the Vietnamese troops inside Cambodia. The “C” might be for “Cambodia” but why use it again? We have already used the code for Cambodia. Maybe this was for troops that were not aware what “CP” meant? That is rather strange! 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 Peoples War so far from home. Like you, he left his loved ones to follow the just cause extolled by the Lao Dong Party of
. 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. North Vietnam
Leaflet T-3-CP-C (also coded 3807) was created in May 1970 with the title YOUR FATE AS AN AGGRESSOR. JUSPAO produced 8 sets of negatives of this leaflet for MACV to be used for mass printing. The text on the front is:
YOUR FATE AS AN AGGRESSOR
Your clear sightedness has made you realize that you have been misled by the Lao Dong Party's propaganda. Your “international obligation” has been bitterly opposed by both our Lao and Khmer brothers and you have not gained the support of your kith-and-kin compatriots of the South. Even now, as our military forces and the military forces of our Allies destroy your last hiding places, you surely realize your situation is insecure. We are determined to end the threat of your aggression once and for all. This is your fate as an aggressor!
The text on the back is:
YOUR CHANCES OF SURVIVAL
Your first step on the path of honor starts by evaluating your chances of survival. The military might of the South Vietnamese people, supported by their American Allies, is rapidly destroying your last and only refuge. Where will you go? Where will you hide? Your real responsibility is to live to serve Vietnam. Come to us with peace in your hearts. If you surrender, we will give you food, clothing, and medical care.
Another example is leaflet T-4-CP-C (also coded 3808) was developed in May 1970 and depicts a map showing the Vietnamese soldier exactly where he is fighting. The same map appears in Leaflet T-1-SPC earlier in this article, but with a different text. JUSPAO produced 8 sets of negatives of this leaflet for MACV to be used for mass printing. The text on the front of this leaflet is:
You can no longer use the territory of Cambodia as your rest and re-supply base.
The text on the back is:
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!
The propaganda of the leaders of the Workers' Party has led you to believe that your “international duty” includes the violation of sovereignty and neutrality of Khmer people. Yet the hardship that you are now enduring on the battlefield should tell you that your lethal mission has little chance of success. You can no longer use the territory of Cambodia as your rest and logistics base to “liberate” South Vietnam. Our armed forces will, for the last time, resolutely chase you out of your jungle hideout and impede your invasion plans. It is time to act now! Surrender to save your life!
Leaflet T-5-CP-C (also coded 3802) shows a similar map and is entitled "Your former sanctuaries are now battlefields littered with your dead and wounded." The text is:
DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR LIVES NEEDLESSLY
The Lao Dong Party of North Vietnam has changed you into soldiers who are waging a fratricidal war against us, your Southern kith-and-kin. They have caused you to violate the neutrality and sovereignty of our friendly Khmer brothers. The "liberation path” you now walk for the Party is certainly leading you to your death. You have encountered our powerful military opposition to your presence on Cambodian soil and you now realize that the Lao Dong leaders will continue to push you until your last dying breath. Your former "sanctuaries" are now battlefields littered with your dead and wounded. Now is the time to act! To surrender is honorable for it guarantees your life. Those of you who cherish the memories of your loved ones and of their future, must not sacrifice your lives needlessly.
A third map created in May 1970 is on leaflet T-11-CP-C (also coded 3803) with the text, "Where is your sanctuary now?" The text on the back is:
WHERE IS YOUR SANCTUARY NOW?
You must now face the combined strength of ARVN and US military forces.
WHERE CAN YOU GO?
Surrender Now! - Save Your Life!
This classified leaflet for Cambodia first appeared as a standard Joint United States Public Affairs Office reward leaflet coded SP-951A. It then was dropped on Cambodia as CP-01. The text on the front is:
TO ALL LOYAL VIET CONG.
The government of the Republic of Viet Nam will reward and assist you if you come back to the R.V.N.
*24 Piasters for food/rice every day
*24 Piasters every day for your wife
*12 Piasters every day for each of your children
*Will also include other (undisclosed) considerations
For all of the WEAPONS that you bring back, there is a reward according to the type you bring.
800 Piasters for a pistol
1000 Piasters for an AK-47 or M-1 rifle
1200 Piasters for an SKS 7.62 semi/automatic carbine
2000 Piasters for an M-3 "Grease Gun"
3500 Piasters for an RPD light machine gun
5000 Piasters for a 30 caliber medium machine gun
6300 Piasters for a 51 caliber heavy machine gun
The back of the leaflet depicts a Viet Cong deserter being led back to the Republic of Vietnam by a Vietnamese soldier. Some of the text is:
COMPATRIOTS IN THE VIET CONG
Here are instructions that will help you return home to the just National Cause.
Keep one of the Republic of Vietnam safe conduct passes. Hide it carefully and await a favorable time to return.
Wait patiently for a favorable opportunity; continue to demonstrate complete loyalty to the Viet Cong to avoid suspicion.
When the opportunity comes, seize it. Leave the Viet Cong ranks at once and return to your family.
If you can escape only at night, seek a hiding place. Report only in the daytime. Hide your weapon before reporting. After reporting, you can show friendly forces where the weapon is hidden and receive your reward.
Always keep the safe conduct pass hidden on your body. If you have an unexpected chance to return to the National Government, or if accidentally arrested, you can show your good intention of going back home and to the just cause.
Regardless of your situation, day or night, if you are investigated, show the safe conduct pass and be warmly received as a friend.
This leaflet was first used against the Peoples Army of Vietnam and coded P-01. It was later dropped over Cambodia as CP-02 with a slightly changed text. It depicts Vietnamese troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, first six healthy soldiers, then four, and finally two raggedy survivors. The text on the front is:
Before Going South - When Entering Battle - Where Is Your Future?
The original text on the P-01 leaflet was simply:
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 Republic of Vietnam armed forces and the allied forces?
Why continue fighting against your compatriots? Save your lives first!
Believe in the Government of Vietnams promise of life and good treatment. Use the safe conduct pass as thousands of others have.
This leaflet was first used against the Peoples Army of Vietnam and coded P-05. It was later dropped over Cambodia as CP-03. It depicts happy North Vietnam soldiers who have come over to the National Cause of the Republic of Vietnam. The text is:
Sergeant Vu Tuan Anh, 33rd Regiment, 320th North Vietnam Army Division,
enjoys a meal at the Pleiku Chieu Hoi Center
The back is all text:
INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE USED LEAFLET PASSES
Over the past two months 3,500 Viet Cong cadres and soldiers have come over to the side of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. When these individuals came over they were greeted warmly. The government gave them amnesty and gave each one of them:
Two sets of clothing
Food and housing at a Chieu Hoi Center
A daily food ration of 24 piasters
200 piasters for miscellaneous expenses
Help to find work if they wanted it
Subsistence money, a house, land, and six months of living expenses
500 piasters at the time that the individual left the Chieu Hoi Center
A reward if the individual had turned in weapons
You, too, can receive these benefits. You should find a leaflet pass and take it to an agency or office of the national government in order to receive help and protection.
CP-04 depicts a dead communist soldier on the ground. The exact same image was produced to be dropped along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, with the code T-10. That message was different and said on the front: “Victory at Plei Me? This young North Vietnamese soldier will never again see the loved one whose picture he clutches. He and 2,200 of his comrades who died with him in the recent battle of Plei Me will never celebrate this kind of victory.” The head of the dead soldier was used on leaflet 2398 with the title “Is this Viet Cong soldier sleeping?
Leaflet CP-04 says on the front:
CAN YOU IDENTIFY THIS MAN
The back is a long text:
THIS MAN WAS IN YOUR RANKS.
Can you identify this North Vietnamese soldier? He will never see this photo with his shrinking body. This man, and his 2000 accomplices were killed near Plei Me in vain. They were victims of the VC political cadres, who had told them the South was largely liberated, and it was enough to beat the Americans up to end the war.
What those cadres did not tell them was all they could liberate was the jungle where they had to live in hiding like hunted animals. Those cadres did not tell them that apart from the bravery of its soldiers, the ARVN also enjoyed strong support from forces of the Free World. Anybody who believed in the propaganda of the VC political cadres and infiltrated to the South will face death.
You can escape death. You can pick up your safe conduct pass. Save them so you can show them to the ARVN or allied forces whenever you have a chance to rally to the side of the Nationalist Government. You will be warmly received and taken care of with a brotherhood, and you will be able to return to your loved ones.
The 5-flag standard Vietnam safe conduct pass is also displayed on the back of the leaflet.
Combat Intelligence Lessons
This seems like a nice time to point out that many of the Viet Cong did not want to be sent to Cambodia. The Confidential report Combat Intelligence Lessons was printed from about 1968 to 1971 and adds:
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 NVA units which had experienced heavy personnel losses because of cross border operations. By 1600 on 13 May, the PSYOP staff had prepared a leaflet capitalizing on the raw intelligence information. Late in the evening of 13 May, the first Hoi Chanh rallied in Phung Hiep District with a copy of the leaflet in his hand. By 23 May, 28 Viet Cong, all from Phung Hiep District, rallied stating that they had done so because they were afraid of being sent to Cambodia.
Leaflet CP-05 depicts three North Vietnamese ralliers at the entrance to a Chieu Hoi camp. The text on the sign is:
HEADQUARTERS - OPEN ARMS CENTER
The back is all text and says in part:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT NORTH VIETNAMESE SOLDIERS ARE
ALIVE AND REUINTED WITH THEIR FAMILIES.
They are no longer in the jungle, and those they left behind are hungry. These soldiers are at the Open Arms Center where they are being treated well, they have food and clothing. More than 50,000 North Vietnam soldiers have chosen the way and are receiving good treatment. They are alive to be with their friends and family.
I have seen this same image on several leaflets. For instance, leaflet P-06 to North Vietnamese Army troops has the same image on the front but a different message on the back.
This is the last CP leaflet I will show here. I have several more, but they seem to get more and more dull and less interesting. At first glance, without a look at the text this leaflet seems to be a standard Chieu Hoi type where a group of ralliers sends a letter to their old comrades telling them how well they are being treated. Let us see how close I came. This is the text on side one:
This photo shows Mr. Dang, Mr. Hoang Cam, and Mr. Thanh An of the Viet Cong 66th and 101st regiments photographed with two ARVN officers at the 2nd Corp Headquarters.
This photo shows how the ARVN treats prisoners. Here is what they want to relay to their comrades:
“Our unit having moved; we became sick and could not catch up. The Vietnamese and American forces on helicopters assaulted and captured us. It was so frightening. We thought we were 100% going to die. Our superiors kept telling us that when the Americans and their puppets capture us, their will beat us severely and bring us to Saigon for execution.
But what a surprise!!! As soon as we surrendered, we were not beaten. In contrast, we were fed and got considerate medical care.”
I mention above how the U.S. used various codes, some that give us great trouble to understand. This is one of those. The number is far too high, and we know they never dropped 1,389 "CP" leaflets on Cambodia. The clue to the mystery is that we recognize the number 1389 as a standard code number used on leaflets prepared by the Joint United States Public Affairs Office. We can therefore surmise that what the propagandists did was to decide this leaflet used in South Vietnam was so good that it needed to be dropped on Cambodia too. They simply took the leaflet and original code number and added a “CP” in the front and off it went to Cambodia. The “A” means it was an “alternate” leaflet. In other words, there was an original leaflet coded 1389 and some minor changes were made at that time, and it was reprinted and disseminated again.
One side of the leaflet depicts the back of the standard 7-flag safe conduct pass usually signed by Thieu or Ky on the front. The other side is all text. The text to the left of the image is:
TO FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FRONT LINE
You will be treated kindly 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.
The back is all text:
FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO RETURN TO THE FREE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH.
You can come to any administrative or military office, or to any post of the ARVN.
You can also report to any unit of the ARVN or Allies in the vicinity.
In any case, to avoid misunderstanding and to ensure your safety, follow the instructions below:
1. Hide your weapon (if any). You can tell the ARVN or the Allies where to retrieve it later.
2. It is best to come forward in daylight. Keep your hands up. You may hold a leaflet or a pass.
3. You can return even without a leaflet or a pass. In such case it will be enough for you to hold your hands up.
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
. 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. Cambodia
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. Notice that the leaflet has the "T" in the code that means it is also to be used along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The artwork was delivered to MACV for offshore printing and delivery according to established procedures. In this case I can tell you that these leaflets were produced by the 7th PSYOP Group based in Okinawa. 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 Statescalled the Free Worlds attention to North Vietnams 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 Agreement of 1954. This agreement was signed by the Government of Geneva . North Vietnam
North Vietnamhas stripped away all pretense of respecting the sovereignty and neutrality of . Thousands of their soldiers are invading the country from sanctuaries; they are encircling the capitol of Cambodia . Phnom Penh has sent out a call for assistance. Cambodia
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.
Other leaflets in this series that mention Cambodia are: T-2-SPC (Do not sacrifice your lives needlessly); - Lao safe conduct pass on the back); T-3-SPC (Your Former Cambodian "Sanctuaries” are now Battlefields Littered with Your Dead Comrades); T-4-SPC (Be Aware of Your Future Fate - dead Viet Cong on ground); T-5-SPC (Your future fate - Lao safe conduct pass on the back); T-6-SPC (The question of survival - depicts a sad and lonely Viet Cong); and T-7- SPC (My Sister – Sad Girl Writing Poem). We start to see that some of these leaflets can also be used in Laos.
Several other leaflets depict the same map of the Vietnamese sanctuary in Cambodia, but with different text on the front and the back. They are coded 3802 and 3808. The short messages on the fronts of the two are:
3802: Your former hiding places have become battlefields strewn with the bodies of your dead and wounded.
3808: No longer can you use Cambodian territory as a place for you to rest and receive supplies.
The United States Army 4th PSYOP Group prepared this leaflet on 6 December 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
Your violation of
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. Cambodia
The same image and front appears on 4-35-70. The message on the back is different:
COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERS IN
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. Cambodia
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.
USAir 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/
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. Vietnam
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.
The 4th PSYOP Group continued to drop leaflets on Cambodia in 1971. For instance, Leaflet 4-4-71 depicts pictures of aircraft on the front and the text:
WHEN INNOCENT PEOPLE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS
THEY WILL AVOID TROUBLE
The text on the back is:
The Khmer Government appeals to you to evacuate an area whenever the Viet Cong or North Vietnam Army infiltrate it. They have acted aggressively on Khmer territory for a very long time. The Government does not want to see innocent civilians die because of these brigands.
Our people are requested to follow the directions below:
Whenever you see the VC or NVA enter your village or hamlet, leave the area immediately and look for a temporary refuge.
Keep away from communication lines, roads, bridges, canals, and places which are their logistical and staging areas.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion also dropped leaflets on Cambodia in 1970 and 1971. For instance, leaflet 6-2019-70 was printed on 7 October 1970 and targeted the K-28 Local Force Unit. The front depicts captured rice and weapons and the text is:/p>
The Operations carried out by U.S. troops in Cambodia have yielded successful results with great amounts of food and weapons being captured. 5,611 tons of rice were captured. 11,623 assorted weapons were captured.
Leaflet 6-084-71 is very much like leaflet 4-4-71 mentioned above and tried to safeguard the Cambodian civilians. The front text is:
We are dropping bombs to destroy the North Vietnam Army and Viet Cong troops because they have invaded Khmer territory for a very long time.
In our bombing mission we do not wish to cause death to our Cambodian friends. We ask that our Cambodian friends follow the following instructions for their own safety:
Whenever you see the VC-NVA infiltrate your village or hamlet, leave the area immediately and hide in the forest while looking for a secure area.
Keep away from roads, small streets, bridges, canals, and places which are staging areas for the enemy or anywhere they are present.
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
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
. 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. South Vietnam
The Cambodian “Incursion”
M113 Armored Personnel Carriers on a road in Cambodia
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
. The language of the leaflets was Vietnamese and the theme was to undermine the North Vietnamese Armys willingness to fight. In every case the cut sheet accompanying the leaflets says: 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: Cambodia
YOUR WEAPONS 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 their so-called sanctuaries in Cambodian territory are being attacked and destroyed by combined Vietnamese-American forces. This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #1.
The text is:
Communist Cadre and Soldiers:
The hitherto so-called "sanctuaries" of yours on Cambodian territories are being levelled by massive operations of the combined Vietnamese and American forces. These weapons, ammunition and equipment are proof of the North Vietnamese Communist violations of the Geneva Agreements in Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos; and you are but their victims. It is now or never; you should choose one way or the other:
Stay and fight until you meet with tragic death on Cambodian soil.
* Surrender to the Republic of Vietnam forces and wait for the return of peace to rejoin your families.
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
but now everything has been destroyed. It says that Cambodia now has all the weapons that the North Vietnamese were unable to carry in their attempt to escape. This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #2. The text on the front is: South Vietnam
The text on the front is:
YOUR WEAPON CACHES ARE NOW IN OUR HANDS
Some of the text on the back is:
COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERS
For many years you have been hiding in the jungles of Cambodia, where there were training facilities, arms and food storage to supply the Viet Cong in their harassment against the Republic of Vietnam.
But now, everything has been destroyed. Many of your fellow soldiers have died, been wounded or fled. Here are the weapons that the Republic of Vietnam has captured since you could not carry them away in time…
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 while still mounted on their launching pads by the Republic of Vietnam and and Allied operational forces. This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #3. Some of the text on the back is:
COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERS
This is the most convincing proof to tell the world that the North Vietnamese Communists have sent weapons and troops into Cambodian territories to attack the Republic of Vietnam.
This has shown you the aggressor’s face of the North Vietnamese Communist clique, and helped you realize that the only way is to lay down your arms and surrender. If you hesitate, you will die foolishly in this massive operation.
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. This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #4. The text on the front is:
YOUR WEAPON CACHES ARE NOW IN OUR HANDS
Some of the text on the back is:
COMMUNIST CADRE AND SOLDIERSThe Republic of Vietnam and Allied forces are conducting operations along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border areas, where the North Vietnamese communists have set up their sanctuaries to launch attacks into the Republic of Vietnam territories.
In these operations the Republic of Vietnam and Allied forces scored very successful results, capturing a large quantity of enemy weapons manufactured and supplied by the Soviet Union and Red China to North Vietnam for use in aggression against the South.
These operations will cut off all your retreats to escape, and Cambodian territories will no longer be your sanctuaries to provide safe shelter….
Note: The PSYOP experts were not too happy with the text of this leaflet. They thought the line “These operations will cut off all your retreats to escape” might be impossible to fulfill thus making the leaflet not credible and casting doubt on the truthfulness of all the Allied leaflets.
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
Chinaand brought into Cambodiafor attacks against . South Vietnam
This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #5. Some of the text on the back is:
These Red Chinese manufactured mortar shells were captured in the combined Vietnamese-American operations along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border areas.
This captured ammunition was brought into Cambodia by the North Vietnamese Communists and were carefully cached to prepare for raids and attacks against the Republic of 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
Cambodiaby the North Vietnamese to be used in attacks on . This is Communist Cadre and Soldiers in Cambodia #6. Some of the text on the back is: South Vietnam
These are automatic rifles and ammunition that the Communist North Vietnamese had you carry from North Vietnam into Cambodia to prepare for attacks against South Vietnam.
You will be suffering more hardships than ever, because your food storage and weapons caches have been seized or destroyed by the Republic of Vietnam’s operational forces. When can Hanoi resupply you again? How can you continue fighting? For whom are you fighting that you must die on Cambodian soil? Who will support your wife and children? Your loved ones will suffer alone!
Leaflet 3804 (also T-10-CP-C) was developed in May 1970, is all text and my copy is very poor so I will not show it, but just translate its message. The title is “An Address by the President of the United States.” JUSPAO produced 8 sets of negatives of this leaflet for MACV to be used for mass printing. The text on the front is:
Address by the President of the United States:
Cambodia, a small country 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 in the last two weeks has stripped away all pretense of respecting the sovereignty or neutrality of Cambodia. Thousands of their soldiers are invading the country from sanctuaries; they are encircling the capital of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has sent out a call for assistance.
The text on the back is:
We will not allow our men to be killed by an enemy from privileged sanctuaries. American and South Vietnamese units will attack the Headquarters for the entire communist military operation. Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and their military supplies destroyed, we will withdraw. We are determined to put an end to the communist sanctuaries and return sovereignty and neutrality to the Cambodian people.
This leaflet (also coded T-1-CP-C) was developed in May 1970 and has two themes. The first is that the soldier will die in Cambodia; the second is that because he will not be buried at home his soul will never find rest. The leaflet depicts a Communist soldier crying on the ground, thinking of what will become of a friend he just buried. JUSPAO produced 8 sets of negatives of this leaflet for MACV to be used for mass Printing.The text on the front is:
HE WILL NEVER RETURN TO ANCESTRAL SOIL
The text on the back is:
He was a courageous soldier that fought “the People’s War” So far from home. Like you, he followed his loved ones to follow the “just cause” extolled by the Communist Party of North Vietnam. Yet, who stands by his shallow Cambodian grave so far from home to mourn his courageous death? His family joyfully awaits his triumphant return, not knowing of his fate. His party bosses praise his noble death while sending others to take his place. The “just cause” of the Communist Party has not rewarded him properly. An unmarked grave on Cambodian soil, of preying jungle beasts, await your dying breath.
This leaflet has a scene of homes and industry at the left. There is a flag of the Republic of Vietnam in the middle, and the banner on a gate reads "New Life" so it illustrates the idyllic new life which awaits the returnees. The text on the front is:
YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY
We know you have been lied to by the Communist party. We are ready to forgive you. A chance for a peaceful life awaits you once you will have surrendered. The honorable path is leading to a secure life. You will receive due care, food, clothes, and medicines which will help you with your first steps on that honorable path.
The back is all text:
YOUR CURRENT HOPELESS SITUATION
For the "glory" that your Party leaders had promised you; you were to endure countless deficiencies. Your "revolutionary" zeal was ruthlessly exploited. But today you must fathom that your insecure situation has become even more uncertain as the military forces of the people in the South have attacked your hiding places on Cambodian soil. Where will you go? Where will you hide? The threat you are now facing shows the determination of the Southern people to resist your invasion. Now it is the time for you to act as Death is approaching you. You must decide to return now before it is too late.
The American leaflet was clearly printed this leaflet for the Vietnamese because the text does not mention the Americans or Allies and simply tells the enemy that the South Vietnamese troops are coming for them. The front shows various scenes of the ARVN advancing. The text on the front and back is:
By land, air and sea, the mighty forces of South Vietnam have come to destroy your caches. Rally now and save your lives.
HOW TO SAVE YOUR LIVES?
TO ALL SOLDIERS AND CADRE OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE ARMY
A war against your will is taking place in Cambodia. Many of your bases have been levelled by the South Vietnamese Air Force, your weapons and food supplies captured, many of your comrades have been killed, other wounded, while others have rallied to the Government of Vietnam. The remainder must flee and hide to defend themselves.
Despite this, Hanoi has not given up its scheme of conquest of Cambodia and South Vietnam. They continue to force you to fight, though your supplies are short. The spirits of the Cadre are confused and low; they become weaker and weaker.Throw away your weapons and rally to the Government of Vietnam. In so doing, you will be satisfied when joining in freedom and happiness with more than 154,000 returnees to South Vietnam.
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
GREAT VICTORY OF
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.
Hanois dreams of using their sanctuaries in
Cambodiato attack the 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? Republicof Vietnam
To avoid a horrible death on Cambodian soil, you should rally immediately to the
. You will be treated well and able to live freely in the Republicof Vietnam Government . Republicof Vietnam
There was thousands of ethnic Vietnamese living in
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
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
With the wholehearted assistance of the
Republicof Vietnam Army, the Vietnamese residents in are using every means to evacuate their families and property back to their native land. Cambodia
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.
Another leaflet from the series featuring the Vietnamese advances in Cambodia. This leaflet depicts Vietnamese troops landing on Cambodian soil. The text on the front is:
Republic of Vietnam Army combat soldiers spearheading operations to destroy the Communists along the Vietnamese Cambodian border
The back is all text and says in part:
REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM ARMED FORCES ARE DEFEATING THE COMMUNISTS
Combat soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam Army successfully spearheaded the operations along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border to destroy North Vietnamese Communist sanctuaries in Cambodia, from here the Communists spread death and destruction to the people of South Vietnam.
These victorious operations are a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Communists, whose arm caches and food storages have been captured and troop morale is being disrupted. They are fleeing deeper into Cambodian territories to avoid operations and sweeps of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces.
In the face of such adverse conditions, you must cleverly and calmly decide your own survival. Bravely come in and report to the Republic of Vietnam. You will be warmly received. You will find an honorable way to get out. You will not be afraid of a useless death in Cambodia anymore.
This leaflet depicts weapons captured from the Communists in Cambodia. The text on the front is:
Tons of Communist weapons seized by the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces
Some of the text on the back is:
BRILLIANT MILITARY FEATS
The Republic of Vietnam operations to destroy Communists in Cambodia have brought about brilliant successes. Many of the North Vietnam troops have been shaken greatly by these defeats:
9,200 Communist troops killed in Cambodia
16,000 tons of weapons seized or destroyed
This leaflet is all text but it is interesting because it uses some of the same propaganda that Chairman Mao does, but then reverses it. The text is long so I will just translate parts of it:
Is the army like a
Are people like water?
The fish that leaves the water is a dead fish. Exactly! You understand this very well. But the South Vietnamese people do not shelter you; do not accept Communism. Over in Cambodia, the Cambodian people are also determined to destroy Communism, considering you as their enemy and invaders. You cannot live in South Vietnam, even hiding in the jungle and bushes. Now the bases you had in Cambodia are destroyed.
What will be your fate?
This leaflet uses as a theme the long friendship between the people of Vietnam and Cambodia. It shows Vietnamese and Cambodians in friendly poses. The text on the front is:
Comradeship-in-arms creates deep friendships between the nations of Cambodia and Vietnam
The text on the back is:
SOLDIERS AND CADRE OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE REGULAR ARMY
To withstand an invasion by the North Vietnamese Communists, at the request of the Cambodian government, The South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces fought and are fighting are fighting side-by-side to annihilate the North Vietnamese Communist invaders for the defense of the freedom and independence of the Cambodian people.
This Army-People friendship is solidified by the warm welcome of the South Vietnamese soldiers by the Cambodian people, and this has created the deepest friendship between the nations of Cambodia and the Republic of Vietnam, fighting side-by-side to annihilate their common enemy, the North Vietnamese Communists.
In South Vietnam, the Communist cadre spread the propaganda that “One must fight for national salvation.” Then in Cambodia, for whom do you fight? Is it not the stupid aggressive act of red China and North Vietnam?
This leaflet is all-text and normally I do not depict such leaflets, but the message is interesting, showing concern for enemy Vietnamese that might be starving. The text the same on both sides:
COMMUNIST CADRES AND SOLDIERS OF NORTH VIETNAM
For many years you have undergone the most arduous living conditions in the mountain and jungle areas of Laos and Cambodia because of the perils and hazards along the Ho Chi Minh Trail through which are sent all North Vietnamese war supplies. But in the past few weeks, you have experience worse conditions as a result of the floods that have ravaged the north and paralyzed ever activity there. Both civilian and military agencies were mobilized and medical supplies to South Vietnam will be disrupted and interrupted for some time. Your life that has always been so precarious is now becoming all the more hazardous. Hunger will strike at you and there is only the smallest chance that you will get the better of it and survive.
Friends, though you are out of South Vietnams sight, you are not out of their hearts and minds, and they sympathetically share your adversities. They pray for your safety, and wish you a way out so that your youthful years will not be wasted to no good purpose. They also hope that one day you will return safely to your families.
There were a number of Allied leaflets to the Communists that
mentioned the loss of the Cambodian
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
for many months without enough supplies. Because of these shortages, Communist forces have suffered one defeat after another. Cambodia
Republicof Vietnam Air Forceis raiding the Communists last remaining supply route through southern . 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 Laos . Republicof Vietnam
Leaflet 4224 is all-text so I will not show it in this article, but I will translate the front since I find the language interesting:
Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops:
Sihanoukville port in Cambodia is no longer available for bringing supplies to you.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail has been completely cut off by Republic of Vietnam troops. You are isolated and, in a FISH-ON-THE-CHOPPING-BLOCK situation. Certainly, you know it!
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.
This leaflet depicts Engineer Ho Van Buu who defected to the Republic of Vietnam, below is a Chieu Hoi center with some former Viet Cong marrying. The text says in part:
Engineer Ho Van Buu, member of the National Democratic Peace Alliance rallied in May 1970.
At various Chieu Hoi centers, ralliers are authorized to organize collective wedding parties.
The present situation is completely unfavorable for the Communists and yourselves. The Communists have been bogged down on all three Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian battlefields and no longer have any hope of a military victory in South Vietnam.
In the military aspect, the victories of the Republic of Vietnam armed forces on the Cambodian battlefield have destroyed all the Communist weapons, ordnance, supply, and storage installations…
This leaflet was prepared on 10 November 1972 and is entitled: "Peoples 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.
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,
On 13 May 1970 an agent reported that within
Phong Dinh Provincesome 300 local force Viet Cong were to be recruited and sent to as replacements for North Vietnamese Army units that had suffered heavy losses. The information was passed to the Cambodia 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 U.S. , 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 Phong Dinh Province . The leaflet read in English and Vietnamese: Cambodia
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
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.
J. H. Hay
Major General USA
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
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. U.S.
If the enemy Battalion Commander knew what caused the rout he probably didnt want to tell his boss. The American Commanding Generals nice letter let the North Vietnamese Army Commanding General let everyone in the immediate vicinity know of the divisions cowardice. I heard that many copies of the letter were dropped over the enemys 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
combat unit. US
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. Dont throw your life away fighting for an evil and lost cause.
The back has a long all-text message. Some of the text is:
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.
Australian Leaflet ATF-007-70
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. This is the first leaflet giving the initial results of the Cambodian Campaign. 100,000 copies of this leaflet were printed 19 May 1970 and distributed by air. The text on the front is:
News report for Communist soldiers. ARVN operations in Cambodia.
1. For years your supplies have come from bases in Cambodia.
2. In response to a call for help from the Cambodian Government the Government of Vietnam ordered the Army of Vietnam to go to Cambodia and destroy communist headquarters, base areas and caches.
3. These are the results of the Cambodian Operation by the ARVN and allies from 1 May to 13 May: 5,500 Communist soldiers killed. 9,076 different weapons captured. 1,859 tons of rice captured. 163 trucks captured. Large quantities of ammunition, medical supplies and other essential military equipment have been captured.
4. President Thieu said on 12 May that the Government of Vietnam forces will remain in Cambodia so long as the communist aggressors maintain bases and military forces there
The text on the back is:
1. You have lost your sanctuaries in Cambodia. This is a very serious defeat for the VC/NVA forces.
2. You have lost large quantities of weapons, ammunition, medicines and rice.
3. Your hardships will become even greater now.
4. The GVN has proved to the whole world that it is too powerful for the communist aggressors. Sooner or later you will fall victim of the mighty ARVN and be buried in the jungles or in the hills away from your loved ones. Think about this! What will happen to you now?
Australian Leaflet ATF-008-70
This leaflet was followed up with another providing an update on the number killed, weapons captured and the number of vehicles destroyed. MACV issued reports on the Cambodian incursion to all units under its command. 2,000 copies of this leaflet were printed 2 June 1970 and distributed by hand. The text on the front is:
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...
Australian Leaflet ATF-085-71
The Australians printed an unknown number of these leaflets on 19 February 1971 and disseminated them by aircraft. The front depicts two Chieu Hoi symbols and the text:
Rally before it is too late.
CHIEU HOI! CHIEU HOI!
The back of the leaflet depicts some flowers and the text:
Last year Cambodian sanctuaries were destroyed. The Kompong Son supply was cut off. The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces operations in Laos mean that your last supply line for food, medicine, and other supplies from the outside is in jeopardy.
Australian Leaflet ATF-087-71
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 a short message and two grinning skulls. The text is:
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.
Australian Leaflet ATF-089-71
The leaflet is all text except for the Chieu Hoi symbol on the front. An unknown number of these leaflets were printed by the Australians on 10 March 1971 and distributed by air. The text on the front is:
The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces grows stronger while your side
Rally before it is too late. CHIEU HOI.
The text on the back is:
Your leaders have told you that the Viet Cong and the People's Army of Vietnam control most of the Republic of Vietnam and that the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces is a Ghost Army. But the Ghost Army is the one closing the noose around you by attacking your last supply routes.
Type Two Leaflets Vietnamese and
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. Lets destroy the Viet Cong in order to maintain our security.
2.The Viet Cong are still alive, our lives are threatened.
3. The Viet Congs 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.
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.
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.
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:
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
Special Forces. U.S.
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.
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.
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.
Dont give rice to the Communists or join the Communist ranks.
Dont accept the coalition attempts and false peace moves of the Communists.
The 1968 calendar looks very much like the one above but only 10,000 copies were printed coded 10-244-68. The propaganda slogans for 1968 were:
Take part in the Truong Cong Dinh campaign.
Destroy the atheistic Communists.
Protect the villages and hamlets.
A number of leaflets dropped over
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:
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
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.
Dont get trapped by the Cambodian Fighting Front.
CAMBODIAN STATE POLICY FOR RETURNEES
The Cambodian government leaflet says on the front:
Any person who volunteers to abandon the enemy ranks, no matter his past, will be returned to the people and recognized as a full citizen of Cambodia, and the State will use every power to support and reunite his family. If that individual abandons the enemy ranks and returns to society bringing his weapons and military equipment, he shall be deservedly rewarded.
The back adds that after the individual is reunited with his family, they will be given land to farm if they wish. If they volunteer to protect and rebuild the motherland, the Government of Cambodia will give them a job commensurate to their merits and abilities. But any person or entity that uses this policy to plot against the State of Cambodia will be punished according to the law.:
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 --
Postcard Leaflet 1707A
Postcard 1707A was printed in June 1968 and depicts Tran Hung Dao, a
legendary hero of
FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF TRAN HUNG DAO
All the people unite to fight against Communism to save the nation
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
This November 1968 poster honors the Self Defense Force of Vinh Binh. It is interesting because it is in Vietnamese and Cambodian. That is an oddity but implies this province had a Cambodian population as well as Vietnamese. The pictures and text came from the Vietnamese and was forwarded to JUSPAO from where it was sent to the 7th PSYOP Group for printing. It was to be distributed by the Vietnamese in Vinh Binh Province. The text is:
THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY FOR THE SELF-DEFENSE FORCES IN
VINH BINH PROVINCE
The people participate in the ceremony at Phu Vinh soccer field.
Mr. Le Van Khoai, a representative of the Secretary of the Interior, presents a symbolic weapon to a Self-Defense member. Note: It looks like the old M-1 carbine that I was issued in the 1950s.
Over 4,000 civil servants and citizens are taking part in the swearing-in ceremony for the Self-Defense Forces of Vinh Binh.
Self-Defense forces of civil servants, people and students passing in review.
The Girls Self-Defense groups will stand at the side of the Mens group while protecting their areas and villages.
The Self-Defense groups also include platoons on firemen and ambulance crews who will work with the civil servants and peoples units.
Type Three Leaflets Cambodian Language
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
has promulgated the law Land of the Tiller. Republicof Vietnam
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.
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
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
Soldiers, Officers and Cadre who are fighting against the National Government: Here is a message from the
. You are invited to rally to the Government of Republicof 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. Vietnam
Text on the back is:
To Rally is Simple
Hide your weapon. You will be paid for it later. Report to a
, 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 Chieu Hoi Center needs and wants all of its sons and daughters. Chieu Hoi! Vietnam
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
. 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. Cambodia
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.
This 11 August 1971 all-text message says on the front in Cambodian:
An Appeal of the Government
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.
JUSPAO leaflet 4369 is a reward offer for information on American servicemen. Three panels are depicted, a Cambodian sees an American in a cage, he tells friendly forces, and he receives a reward. The text is:
The U.S. Government will pay you $500 for information leading to the safe return of a U.S serviceman.
4369CV has the text in Vietnamese on one side and Cambodian on the other. Leaflet 4369LC is identical except that the languages are Lao and Cambodian. Leaflet 4369LV is in Lao and Vietnamese. Leaflet 4369V has the cartoon and text in Vietnamese on the front and the back has a picture of a banknotes.
A second series has the same theme, but with slightly changed pictures and text. Leaflet 4370 has four panels. A local farmer sees an American serviceman walking in the woods. He guides the American back across the border to Vietnam. The American shakes hands with a Republic of Vietnam soldier. In the last box, the farmer receives a reward from an American official. The text is almost identical to 4369 except that the reward is multiplied 10 times:
The United States Government will pay you $5000 for information leading to the safe rescue of a U.S. serviceman.
Once again, Leaflet 4370LC is identical except that the languages are Lao and Cambodian. Leaflet 4370LV is in Lao and Vietnamese. Leaflet 4370 CV has the language in Cambodian and Vietnamese and Leaflet 4369V has the cartoon and text in Vietnamese on the front and the back has a picture of a banknotes.
The Americans worked hand-in-hand with the friendly Cambodian forces just as they did with the Laos and Vietnamese forces. The leaflets for Laos and Cambodia were printed by the 7th PSYOP Group. Their code numbers are usually very low.
This first leaflet features General Lon Nol. Marshal Lon Nol was a Cambodian politician and general who served as prime minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as defense minister and provincial governor. A nationalist and a republican, he led the military coup of 1970 against Prince Norodom Sihanouk and became the self-proclaimed president of the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic, ruling until 1975. The text on the front and back of the leaflet is:
Nong Suon: Chief of the Red Khmer has declared: Long life to the Rescue Government with General Lon Nol as leader.
We Khmer must unite ourselves to build a new Cambodia, and reunite to chase the atheist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army who are aggressors on the Khmer territory and our hurting our Khmer brothers.
We Khmer must stop killing each other.
Khmer brothers, do not join the imperialist Vietnamese: hurry and join the rescue Government.
Down with Sihanouk who sold our territory to the imperialistic Vietnamese and has joined them to kill us Khmer.
This leaflet depicts anti-Communist Cambodian rallies on the front and back. The text on the front and back is:This leaflet depicts anti-Communist Cambodian rallies on the front and back. The text on the front and back is:
The Khmer populations of Phnom Penh and of other provinces stand up and chase away the atheist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army out of Cambodia and to their death.
Please, dear Khmer brothers, stand up and fight for their disappearance, the atheist forces who are the enemy of the Buddhist religion.
This leaflet depicts the weapons of the Cambodian forces and features jets, helicopters, artillery and the like. The text mentions pure Cambodians so the leaflet seems to attack the fact that North Vietnamese and Viet Cong are fighting alongside the Communists in Cambodia. The term black teeth would also seem to be an insult calling the Vietnamese "primitives." The text on the front and back of this leaflet is:
Khmer forces have only pure Cambodians and modern powerful weapons. This is why we Khmer must win over the atheist Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army with black teeth. So fellow Khmer, we must unite with the Khmer forces and motivate ourselves to win over the enemy.
This leaflet features dead enemy soldiers and captured weapons. The Americans were constantly warned the images of dead enemy were counter-productive and made the enemy fight harder, but they could not help themselves. There was a belief that the pictures would frighten the enemy so we see them over and over. The text on the front and back of this leaflet is:
Here are the dead and the atheists, savage Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army troops with black teeth, that the Cambodian forces and population have killed daily in piles and have captured many weapons from. These atheist imperialist Vietnamese are not powerful.
We Khmer must fight to save our country so that the atheist Vietnamese cannot become our commanders because the Khmer race has never been under atheist Vietnamese domination.
This leaflet is what we call nation-building; showing the Cambodians, working together, talking together, performing religious ceremonies and learning at school. It implies a democratic society. The text is on the front only:
Since our country has become a Republic, the populations of Phnom Penh and of other provinces live with dignity and liberty. Cambodia is the country of all Cambodians. Cambodia now has no king to threaten the population.
I think you can see the American inspiration in this leaflet. It looks like a battle scene from a G. I. Joe comic book. The text on the front is:
Our Cambodian Forces are delivering freedom for our four Cambodian provinces of Rattakiri, Mundulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratia.
The back is all text:
To the young students in of Rattakiri, Mundulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratia. Our young brothers, please be ready to cooperate actively with our National Armed Forces who are fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army to take back our territory in the near future.
The Ministry of national Education
This leaflet is a bit less violent. It depicts the Cambodian military forces in a friendly discussion with the Cambodian people. In the background they are protected by a military truck with a mounted machine gun.
A Second Version of the Above Leaflets
While looking through some of the files of the 7th PSYOP Group brought back at the end of the war, I was surprised to find some small 3-leaflet sheets of a second group of the above leaflets. The images are basically the same, although a bit more crowed on a slightly larger leaflet, and it appears there might be a bit more text. The small sheet has alternative versions of the Cambodian leaflet 1, 2, and 3.
Mine Awareness Leaflets
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
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
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
LARGE PROPAGANDA POSTERS
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 tanks 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.
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
Robin Hood Overprinted Banknote
I am not aware of any currency propaganda operations in
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
Internal Propaganda Booklet Bearing Banknotes
There is a second case where the same general banknotes were used for
internal propaganda. In this case,
This is to certify that the attached script was captured during the Cambodian Invasion from
South Vietnamduring the period 1 May 1970 to 30 June 1970 The script was given to me by General Do Cao Tri near as a war trophy Mimot, Cambodia
RADIO AND LOUDSPEAKER BROADCASTS
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:
The Government of
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. Vietnam
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
offer of Open Arms. Come back friends! Come back before it is too late. Vietnam
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
. Choose life, not death. Choose life, not death. Vietnam
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
. 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. Cambodia
It was not just leaflets and radio used to change minds and hearts. There were numerous other campaigns. One in mid-1970 was called “FOOD FOR PEACE.” This was a plan to provide basic food staples to Vietnamese/Cambodian refugees in Cambodia under the supervision of the Vietnamese PSYWAR Department and Vietnamese military commands. The 18th and 25th ARVN Infantry Divisions and the Vietnamese Navy operating along Mekong River in Cambodia were key units in this operation. By October, there had been 20 distribution operations giving 525 tons of food to 120,310 refugees. The operation was covered by the various news agencies and television stations. The PSYOP emphasis was on the Vietnamese and anti-Communist Cambodian government forces working together to feed the people.
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 wars 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 dont 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.
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. A 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.
Cambodiawas in such a peaceful and prosperous condition that it used to be the Islandof Peaceof 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
under the neo-colonialist regime of the American imperialists, and align it with other American satellite countries Cambodia
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 Peoples 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.
Leaflet Mortars in Cambodia
Belgian Army Adjutant Herman Mattheus worked in Cambodia during 1996, 2000 and 2005 as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technical advisor. While searching for mines in 2005 he found several 82mm Vietnamese propaganda mortar shells. They still contained leaflets used by the Vietnamese against the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodia-Vietnamese War. These are extremely rare and as far as I know have never been seen. 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.
Communist North Vietnam was a strong ally of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge when it was fighting against The American backed Khmer Republic from 1970 to 1975. After the radical Communist Khmer Rouge took power, the Cambodians turned on their old comrades and on 1 May 1975, Khmer Rouge soldiers raided the islands of Phu Quoc and Tho Chu, killing more than five hundred Vietnamese civilians. In other areas there were massacres of ethnic Vietnamese and of their sympathizers, as well as destruction of Vietnamese Catholic Churches. In May 1978, Radio Phnom Penh declared that if each Cambodian soldier killed thirty Vietnamese, only 2 million troops would be needed to eliminate the entire Vietnamese population of 50 million. The Vietnamese leadership finally lost patience and decided to support the Cambodian resistance to the Pol Pot regime.
Vietnamese Tanks rolled into Cambodia in 1979
The Cambodian-Vietnamese War showed the divisions within the seemingly monolithic Communist bloc as the Vietnamese were aided by the Soviet Union while the Cambodians were supported by the Peoples Republic of China. The United States, perhaps remembering with bitterness its long and bloody war in Vietnam seemed to lean toward the Cambodians, even though the government of Pol Pot might have murdered as many as 2,000,000 of his own people between the years of 1975 and 1979.
The Khmer United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) was a pro-Hanoi organization formed within Cambodia by Cambodian Communists who were against Pol Pot's brutal policies. The Salvation Front presented eleven points for the reconstruction of the country. These points would be used after the establishment of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) to motivate the Cambodians to support the rebuilding efforts and the Pro-Soviet new state and keep the revolution alive with a moderate, pragmatic, more liberal and humane approach than that of the Khmer Rouge.
The Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument was constructed to
commemorate the toppling of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.
The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia was launched 22 December 1978. An invasion force of 120,000, consisting of combined armor and infantry units with strong artillery support, drove west and after a seventeen-day advance, the Capitol Phnom Penh fell to the Vietnamese on 7 January 1979. On 10 January 1979, the official name of Cambodia was changed to the People's Republic of Kampuchea. The new administration was supported by a substantial Vietnamese military and civilian advisory force. It was welcomed by almost the entire Cambodian population that was tired of the Khmer Rouge brutality.
Some Cambodian Freedom Fighters who opposed the Vietnamese Occupation
Training in their camp in Thailand in 1979
Curiously, the Cambodians welcomed the Vietnamese for a short time as saviors but as the Vietnamese occupation lingered on for years the Cambodians began a guerrilla war against their saviors. There are estimates that 30,000 Vietnamese troops were killed during their occupation of Cambodia. The Vietnamese Army was built to beat foreign invaders, and now they were the foreign invaders. The official government story of the Vietnamese invasion is of a lightning attack that toppled the old regime in a little over one week. In reality, the Vietnamese do not talk of 10 years of occupation and war against guerrilla bands wanting them out of Cambodia.
Vietnam Leaflets against the Cambodian Government
Note that Herman Mattheus told me that the stains on the leaflets were caused by grease inside the mortar rounds that apparently liquefied over the years in the jungle heat.
This leaflet depicts what I believe to be a wounded Cambodian soldier who has been captured and is being cared for by the Vietnamese. This leaflet clearly shows the grease from the mortar round that Mattheus mentioned. A Cambodian who had joined the Khmer Republic Army at 16 in 1970 and been in their military as a member of the 43rd battalion in their headquarters in Kampong Cham in 1971 looked at this leaflet and gave me a general synopsis of the message on the back:
This leaflet in Khmer was prepared after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and accuses Pol Pot (who governed Cambodia as the Prime Minister of Kampuchea between 1976 and 1979), Son Sann (who organized Cambodian freedom fighters in the refugee camps in Thailand and fought against the Vietnamese and their Cambodian allies in occupied Cambodia from 1979), and Norodom Sihanouk (the former king of Cambodia, the titular head of the Khmer Rouge in the nineteen-seventies, when it held power under the command of Pol Pot) of stubbornly continuing the war and wanting the Cambodian people to live in jungles and mountains, wounded, infected with malaria, and without proper medicines. It asks that after decades of civil war the Cambodian people must think, stand up, and seek justice, and join with other people to insure that the nation will never return to the Killing Fields days of Pol Pot.
The translator who was a strong anti-Communist Cambodian added:
All of the Vietnamese propaganda was very well written and seemed to make sense but they practiced torture and often beat innocent Khmers to death with bamboo sticks to save bullets. Many Vietnamese remained in Cambodia after the invasion, stayed in the Cambodian military or political parties, changed their names to sound Cambodian and learned to speak Khmer. Many of those Vietnamese continue to control the Cambodian nation by pretending to be Cambodian.
This leaflet depicts a group of Cambodian soldiers who are prisoners of war hearing that they will be allowed to return home by their Vietnam captors.
These translations are very difficult so the text we show is a close approximation to what they say. The text basically says that the Vietnamese freedom forces promise to return home all the old regimes Pol Pot soldiers that were captured at the battle near Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia.
Troops of the Cambodian people
Pol Pot soldiers and his stubborn ringleaders. They have returned to the true lovers of the nation. They will have true freedom.
Pot Pols Khmer troops surrender after the battle near Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia.
Note: During the Vietnamese-Cambodian War, Banteay Meanchey Province was on the frontlines of much of fighting and as a result it is one of the three most heavily mined provinces in Cambodia along with Pailin and Battambang
This leaflet appears to show a group of soldiers being lectured. I suspect it is the Vietnamese lecturing Cambodian POWs. The leaflet is charred and crinkled, all signs that it was successfully blown out of a mortar shell.My translator who fought the Vietnamese and says that he killed many of them and their Cambodian collaborators says that the front depicts members of the 215 Battalion of Freedom Fighters who surrendered. The translator sends a synopsis of the text on the back:
The back of the leaflet urges all the anti-Vietnamese forces to follow the lead of the 215th Battalion and surrender. The leaflet mentions the name of the commander of the unit, Sor Lai, but I have never heard of the officer and suspect he was fairly unknown among the freedom fighters.
This single-sided leaflet depicts a Cambodia soldier. In general such a leaflet will bear a message from the prisoner or defector advising his comrades to surrender for good treatment.
This ends out brief look at leaflets, slogans, posters and audio messages targeting
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. Cambodia
End: 7 June 7, 2007