The Role of Military Intelligence 1965-1967

The Role of
Military Intelligence 1965-1967

Major General Joseph A. McChristian


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 74-600003

First Printed 1974-CMH Pub 90-19

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S., Government Printing Office
Washington D.C. 20402


The United States Army has met an unusually complex challenge in Southeast Asia. In conjunction with the other services, the Army has fought in support of a national policy of assisting an emerging nation to develop governmental processes of its own choosing, free of outside coercion. In addition to the usual problems of waging armed conflict, the assignment in Southeast Asia has required superimposing the immensely sophisticated tasks of a modern army upon an underdeveloped environment and adapting them to demands covering a wide spectrum. These involved helping to fulfill the basic needs of an agrarian population, dealing with the frustrations of antiguerrilla operations, and conducting conventional campaigns against well-trained and determined regular units.

It is still necessary for the Army to continue to prepare for other challenges that may lie ahead. While cognizant that history never repeats itself exactly and that no army ever profited from trying to meet a new challenge in terms of the old one, the Army nevertheless stands to benefit immensely from a study of its experience, its shortcomings no less than its achievements.

Aware that some years must elapse before the official histories will provide a detailed and objective analysis of the experience in Southeast Asia, we have sought a forum whereby some of the more salient aspects of that experience can be made available now. At the request of the Chief of Staff, a representative group of senior officers who served in important posts in Vietnam and who still carry a heavy burden of day-to-day responsibilities has prepared a series of monographs. These studies should be of great value in helping the Army develop future operational concepts while at the same time contributing to the historical record and providing the American public with an interim report on the performance of men and officers who have responded, as others have through our history, to exacting and trying demands.

The reader should be reminded that most of the writing was accomplished while the war in Vietnam was at its peak, and the monographs frequently refer to events of the past as if they were taking place in the present.

All monographs in the series are based primarily on official records, with additional material from published and unpublished secondary works, from debriefing reports and interviews with key


participants, and from the personal experience of the author. To facilitate security clearance, annotation and detailed bibliography have been omitted from the published version; a fully documented account with bibliography is filed with the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

Major General Joseph A. McChristian is particularly well qualified to write of the role of military intelligence in Vietnam from 1965 through 1967. During that period he served on the staff of General William C. Westmoreland as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.

General McChristian's background in military intelligence is one of long and distinguished service. After World War II he served as Third U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence under General George S. Patton, as Third Army Deputy G-2, and as Deputy Director of Intelligence, U.S. Forces, Austria. In 1948 he was assigned to the Intelligence Division of the Department of the Army General Staff. In 1949, during the Greek-Communist War, General McChristian became a member of the first joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in Athens and, later, from June 1956 through May 1960, he served as U.S. Army Attaché to Greece. From January 1962 through February 1963 General McChristian was assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, where he was Chief of the Western Division of Foreign Intelligence. From April 1963 through June 1965 he served as U.S. Army, Pacific, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at Fort Shafter, Hawaii; from there he went to Vietnam. In August 1968 he became Chief of Army Intelligence. General McChristian retired from active duty in 1971.

Washington, D. C.
15 December 1973 
Major General, USA
The Adjutant General



As General Westmoreland's intelligence officer from 13 July 1965 until 1 June 1967, I am happy to report on the role and development of military intelligence in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. I do so with respect and admiration for the Vietnamese, Koreans, Australians, and Americans who made up that great intelligence team.

Many members of that team assisted me in the preparation of this account. I know they, as 1, feel a warm sense of satisfaction in passing on to you some of the knowledge we gained.

The story that follows is mine. I am solely responsible for its content. It is not a complete history; such an undertaking is beyond the purpose and scope of this monograph. My purpose is to record the development and the role of intelligence in Vietnam, not only for students of intelligence but also for planners and decision makers who depend upon intelligence in order to arrive at sound decisions. I have limited the scope of my account to a discussion of some of the major intelligence activities developed in support of the mission of U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, with consideration of why and how we developed what we did plus lessons learned along the way.

First, I will identify the challenge. Second, I will address developing the organization. Third, I will discuss United States-South Vietnamese combined military intelligence activities. And then, in turn, I will cover intelligence operations, intelligence production, counterintelligence, and intelligence support activities. My last chapter will summarize lessons we learned.

The task of writing this monograph was greatly facilitated by the following dedicated professionals who served with me in Vietnam and who subsequently provided input, suggestions, and advice in its preparation. I thank them for their invaluable assistance and loyalty, and I remember each with admiration and respect: Colonel Frank L. Scofield, U.S. Air Force; Colonel William H. Crosson, U.S. Army; Colonel Robert E. McMahon, U.S. Army; Colonel Glenn E. Muggelberg, U.S. Army; Colonel John T. Little, U.S. Army; Colonel Robert F. Robens, U.S. Army; Colonel John J. Morgan, U.S. Army; Colonel Frank L. Schaf, Jr., U.S. Army; Colonel Robert Churley, U.S. Marine Corps; Colonel Ralph T. Hunt, U.S. Army; Colonel.Jerry Dismuke, U.S. Air Force; Colonel C. M. Smith, U.S. Air Force; Colonel Donald T. Ketcham, U.S. Army; Colonel Stone W. Quillian, U.S. Marine Corps; Colonel


Gains B. Hawkins, U.S. Army; Colonel Ralph H. Groover, Jr., U.S. Army; Colonel Walter R. Pierce, Jr., U.S. Army; Colonel Silas E. Chumley, U.S. Army; Colonel Coleman Noahson, U.S. Army; Lieutenant Colonel Autmer Ackley, Jr., U.S. Army; Major James D. Strachan, U.S. Army; Major James E. Crouch, U.S. Army; Sergeant Major Vince LeBlanc, U.S. Army; Master Sergeant Clyde F. Jepson, who, serving as my enlisted aide, conscientiously and loyally saw to it that in all matters relating to subsistence, quarters, health, sanitation, uniforms, and equipment I never had a worry; Colonel Gains B. Hawkins and Lieutenant Colonel Lyle K. Alexander for their assistance in assembling information and drafting this report; and Mrs. Helen Worden for her cheerful help in editing and typing my final draft

Washington, D. C.
15 December 1973
Major General, U.S. Army, Retired



Chapter    Page
The Challenge 3
Intelligence Philosophy 6
Evolution of the Military Assistance Command Intelligence Organization 12
The Combined Intelligence Concept 21
The Military Intelligence Detachment Exchange Program 24
The Combined Interrogation System 26
Combined Document Exploitation 32
Combined Materiel Exploitation 40
The Combined Intelligence Center, Vietnam 45
The Sector Intelligence Support Program 64
The Combined Intelligence Staff 71
Aerial Reconnaissance and Surveillance 95
Operations 106
Exploitation Division 113
Operation Cedar Falls 116
Development and Publication of the Military Assistance Command Order of Battle Summary 129
Development and Publication of Infiltration Statistics 131
Publication of Enemy Tactics Studies 132
Aerial Rice Survey of IV Corps Tactical ,Zone 134
The Combined Intelligence Center Imagery Interpretation Photo Study Program 136
Developing the Counterintelligence Effort 138
Counterintelligence Operations 139
Security of Military Information 142
Communications Security 146
Management 148
Plans and Training 155
Weather 156
Appendix A: J-2, Military Assistance Command, Staff Officers, September 1965-March 1967 160
Appendix B: J-2, Military Assistance Command, Staff, May 1967 161
Appendix C: Military Intelligence Organization, 1967 162
Appendix D: Military Intelligence Unit Commanders, Mid 1965 - Mid 1967 163
Appendix E: Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Military Intelligence Detachment Division (Airborne - Marine Brigade) 164
Appendix F: Compatibility of J-2, Joint General Staff, and J-2, Military Assistance Command 165
Appendix G: Summary of Briefing on Viet Cong Taxation 166
     1. Finance and Economic Section 167
     2. Impact of Viet Cong Taxes 168
Appendix H: Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Intelligence Organization 169

Appendix I: Intelligence Structure, 2d Air Division

Appendix J: Intelligence Structure, Naval Forces, Vietnam 171


1. Assistant Chief of Staff, J-2, Staff Organization, July 1965 12
2. J-2 Staff Organization, October 1965 15
3. Assistant Chief of Staff, J-2, Staff Organization, May 1967 17
4. 525th Military Intelligence Group 20
5. Organization, Combined Military Interrogation Center, May 1967 27
6. Organization, Combined Document Exploitation Center, May 1967 34
7. Organization, Combined Materiel Exploitation Center 41
8. Organization, Combined Intelligence Center, Vietnam 48
9. Sector Combined Intelligence Operations 70
10. Flow Chart, Combined Intelligence Staff 73
11. Organization, Combined Intelligence Staff 74
12. Data Base Input (CICV) 75
13. Joint Air-Ground Operations System 97


Major General Joseph A McChristian Page
Returnees Were Separated From Prisoners 5
Returnees Were Normally Interrogated in an Informal Setting 30
A Qualified US Interrogator Who Cannot Speak Vietnamese Questions a Source With the Help of a Vietnamese WAC Interpreter 31
Interrogators Received Training by Sitting in on Interrogations 32
Inner Compound at CMIC 33
CDEC Translators 35
Materiel of Interest to the General Supply and Equipment Section of CMEC Was Screened in Detail 37
Tactical Scale Studies Were Used in Planning Operations 43
American and Vietnamese Intelligence Specialists Examine a Captured Enemy Rocket Launcher 54
Imagery Interpreter Removes Photocopy Produced by the Itek Variable-Width Viewer With Printer 56
Police Field Force Formation at the National Police Compound in Saigon 59
US Operational Unit Commander Briefs Vietnamese Police Officer 79
Screening Center Is Established With Photographs and Blacklist of Known Viet Cong 80
Search Team in Operation With Scout Dog and US Security Element 80
Scout Dog With Handler Searching Exterior of Dwelling 81
Search Team at House With US Security Element on Lookout 81
Police Field Force Scout Dog Handler and Searcher 82
Search Element With US Security Guard Leaving a Dwelling After Search 82
Police Field Force Entering House To Conduct Search 83
Screening Area Was Established at a Central Location Within the Hamlet 83
Screening Center in Operation 84
Vietnamese and US Officers Checking Identification of a Detainee 84
Police Field Force Reviewing Photograph Album 85
Vietnamese Police Officer Checking Identification of a Suspect 86
Additional Checks of Identification Papers by Vietnamese 86
Police Officials at Screening Center 87
Police Field Force Checking Hamlet Inhabitants Against Photographs of Viet Cong Suspects 87
US Representative From Combined Intelligence Staff Conferring With US Officer in Charge of the Cordon and Search Operation 88
Detainee Being Questioned by Police Field Force Personnel 88
Vietnamese Officer in Charge Instructing New Officer on Procedures of the Screening Center 89
US Civic Action Officer Giving Treats to the Children 89
Viet Cong Suspect Being Questioned by Vietnamese Police Officers of the Combined Intelligence Staff 90
Two Suspects Are Detained 90
Nha Be Desk Team 91
Vietnamese Clerk Is Taught Procedures for Completing Automatic Data Processing System Forms 91
Vietnamese Chief of the Combined Intelligence Staff Conferring With Deputy From the Office of the Special Assistant, US Embassy 92
Combined Intelligence Staff Communications Section 93
Di An Desk Team 93
Task Organization for II Field Force, Vietnam, for Operation CEDAR FALLS 118
Task Organizations for CEDAR FALLS Were Deployed Within Striking Distance of the Iron Triangle 119
While the 11th Armored Cavalry Drove West, the 1st Division and 173d Brigade Were Airlifted Into Landing Zones 119
Anvil or Blocking Force for CEDAR FALLS 120
Hammer or Striking Force for CEDAR FALLS 120
Prisoner of War Collection Point for the 1st Infantry Division 122
All Civilians in the CEDAR FALLS Area of Operations Were Detained 122

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