Central Intelligence Agency in Vietnam War

A military confrontation between North and South Vietnam in the twentieth century took place for almost twenty years. The most important things about the discussed war include the fact that both parties to the conflict were receiving substantial support of two superpowers of the twentieth century represented by the Soviet Union and the United States of America. In North Vietnam, the latter was seen as the country trying to “replace the French in establishing a disguised colonial regime” (Tang et al. 319). The role of these two countries and the Central Intelligence Agency in the development and outcomes of the given war is difficult to be overestimated. As for the outcomes, the military standoff of two countries and the parties concerned about the development of the conflict ended in the middle of 1970s when Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam supported by the United States, Thailand, Japan, and some European countries was taken by North Vietnamese soldiers and a communist government was able to set up authority over South Vietnam and two more countries (Vue 749). Speaking about the information reported by different organizations including Central Intelligence Agency, it is possible to state that it was credible enough to help South Vietnam to score a victory but different factors related to politics including “weaknesses of the GVN” increased North Vietnam’s prospects of success (Ahern 306).

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Although the discussed war ended more than forty years ago, various documents related to the actions of both parties to the conflict are still discussed all over the world. Considering the importance of this war for further development of human society, it may be necessary to pay increased attention to the role played by one of the most influential parties in interest related to South Vietnam – the United States. There is no doubt that the United States provided South Vietnam with important resources that usually mean a lot for the outcomes of the war. Among other things, they included a wide range of items of ordnance, humanitarian supplies, and valuable information retrieved by the U.S. government with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency whose duties included organizing numerous intelligence-gathering efforts and reporting the retrieved information to help South Vietnam to secure victory. In the face of the situation, it seems that the United States was more likely to bear the palm in the given war due to large war-sustaining power and different types of weapons used to defeat North Vietnam. The latter included even chemical weapons; deleterious substances used more than forty years ago still have an impact on the health condition of modern citizens of Vietnam. Speaking about the reasons why the United States was unable to win the war even though it did not suffer defeats in particular battles, it is necessary to analyze the role of Central Intelligence Agency that was supposed to provide the government with necessary intelligence findings. It is known that the war intensified at the end of the 1960s, and the U.S. government had to escalate fighting with ones supporting the authority of North Vietnam in Laos (Paul 537).

During this period and at the beginning of the 1970s, the Central Intelligence Agency had to intensify its operations in different territories affected by the war. That time, a few studies analyzing possible actions of North Vietnamese soldiers were conducted by representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency, and, according to many sources, the analysis was appreciated by authorities in both countries. Until the middle of the 1960s, Central Intelligence Agency was not supposed to be the primary organization working on the problem of the communist regime in North Vietnam and the possibilities of defeating it (Ford par. 9). According to many sources, the majority of the documents and reports prepared by the representatives of this organization were regarded as ones that contained a lot of important information concerning war casualties of the opposing side and possible measures that could be needed to defeat it relying on its weaknesses. Nevertheless, despite that appreciation, there was a range of problems that Central Intelligence Agency was supposed to solve because of certain mistakes made by another organization that was supposed to retrieve the information concerning North Vietnam, its supporters, and their further actions – MACV. As it was stated by one of the chief analysts from Central Intelligence Agency, the specialists working for MACV were unable to conduct substantial research retrieving strong points and weaknesses related to the activity of irregular fighters protecting North Vietnam and the majority of their conclusions was based on guesses (Ford par. 10).

As it is clear from these facts, the team of analysts and other specialists from Central Intelligence Agency had to face additional challenges caused by the lack of knowledge, and it may also be regarded as a factor allowing us to understand the situation with the contribution of this organization deeper. Therefore, it may be supposed that there was an additional task related to verification of the results of previous studies aimed at defining the combatant value of irregular forces supporting North Vietnam that Central Intelligence Agency was supposed to fulfill apart from other studies. Taking this event into consideration, it may be stated that analysts from Central Intelligence Agency were able to demonstrate their outstanding talents because the period when they were working on the problem of the Vietnam War was marked with a series of reports involving quite accurate assessments that were later confirmed. Thus, in the middle of the 1960s, one of the most famous people working for the organization was able to estimate the number of enemy forces in South Vietnam. According to the assessment made by Adams, their total number was about six hundred thousands and this information turned out to be more credible than one reported by MACV and other specialists (Ford par. 11).

Another thing that is extremely important about the outcomes of the discussed war is related to the reaction of the agency provided with numerous intelligence findings from different sources. Thus, it is known that the number of enemy troops in South Vietnam was larger according to the assessments made by a few officers using the data retrieved during their surveillance. Despite the credibility of the given information, people of influence from the agency decided to rely on the data reported by MACV that involved lower numbers. Therefore, the claims of the officers concerning important military attack under preparation that was supposed to bring irregular forces into play were not taken into consideration during further planning of military actions.

Nevertheless, even though the work conducted by Central Intelligence Agency was not perfect and might involve certain discrepancies and false conclusions caused by the lack of information and canny moves by the opponent, there is no doubt that possible mistakes of the organization cannot be regarded as the primary reason why the United States could not help South Vietnam to defeat its neighboring state. The last period of the war was quite difficult for the United States and, therefore, for Central Intelligence Agency because the American capacity for war was experiencing a certain decrease due to the large number of people supporting antiwar sentiments (Hess 15). Therefore, the number of military absentees was growing as well. The cases of suicide and substance abuse became more frequent among soldiers, they did not have a clear understanding of the necessity and the meaning of the war. Thus, this factor was also able to stultify the results of the hard work conducted by specialists from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Considering the information from different sources, it may be stated that the period of the Vietnam War cannot be called the most successful for Central Intelligence Agency working for the United States as the information retrieved with the assistance of this organization was sometimes regarded as less credible than one reported by other sources. Together with the questioned degree of credibility, there was a range of factors deteriorating the position of the United States related to public mood in American society that has shifted, and this is why it becomes more difficult to define whether relying only on information reported by Central Intelligence Agency could help South Vietnam to defeat their enemy. In general, this version is likely to be credible because there were no military defeats associated with the activity of the organization.

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Works Cited

Ahern, Thomas. Vietnam Declassified: The CIA and Counterinsurgency. The University Press of Kentucky, 2010.

Ford, Harold P. “CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes 1962-1968.” CIA, Web.

Hess, Gary R. Vietnam: Explaining America’s Lost War. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Paul, Roland A. “Laos: Anatomy of an American Involvement.” Foreign Affairs, vol. 49, no. 3, 1971, pp. 533-547.

Tang, Truong Nhu, et al. A Vietcong Memoir. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985.

Vue, Pao. “The Vietnam War and Its Impacts on the Hmong.” Geopolitics, vol. 20, no. 4, 2015, pp. 749-752.

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