Strategic Hamlet Program

The Strategic Hamlet Program ( SHP; Vietnamese: Ấp Chiến lược ) was a plan by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to combat the communist insurgency by pacifying the countryside and reducing the influence of the communists among the rural population.[1]

In 1962, the government of South Vietnam, with advice and financing from the United States, began the implementation of the Strategic Hamlet Program. The strategy was to isolate the rural population from contact with and influence by the National Liberation Front (NLF), more commonly known as the Viet Cong. The Strategic Hamlet Program, along with its predecessor, the Rural Community Development Program, played an important role in shaping of events in South Vietnam during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Both of these programs attempted to create new communities of "protected hamlets." The rural peasants would be provided protection, economic support, and aid by the government, thereby strengthening ties with the South Vietnamese government (GVN). It was hoped this would lead to increased loyalty by the peasantry towards the government.[1]

The Strategic Hamlet Program was a failure, alienating more rural Vietnamese than it helped and contributing to the growth in influence of the Viet Cong. After President Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown in a coup in November 1963, the program was cancelled. Peasants moved back into their old homes or sought refuge from the war in the cities. The failure of the Strategic Hamlet and other counterinsurgency and pacification programs were causes that led the United States to decide to intervene in South Vietnam with air strikes and ground troops.[1]

A strategic hamlet in South Vietnam c.1964

Background and precursor program

In 1952, during the First Indochina War ( 19 December 1946 — 1 August 1954 ) French commander François de Linares, in Tonkin began the construction of "protected villages," which the French later named agrovilles. By constructing quasi-urban amenities, the French designed the agrovilles to attract peasants away from their villages. This policy was known as "pacification by prosperity." In addition to offering social and economic benefits, the French also encouraged villagers to develop their own militias, which the French trained and armed. "Pacification by Prosperity" had some success, but it was never decisive, because the settlers felt insecure, a feeling which the numerous French guard posts along the perimeter could do little to dispel so long as the Viet Minh operated at night, anonymously, and intimidated or gained the support of village authorities.[2]

Between 1952 and 1954, French officials transplanted approximately 3 million Vietnamese into agrovilles, but the project was costly. To help offset the cost, the French relied partially on American financial support, which was "one of the earliest objects of American aid to France after the outbreak of the Korean War." According to a private Vietnamese source, the U.S. spent about "200,000 dollars on the 'show' agroville at Dong Quan."[3] After visiting the villages of Khoi Loc in Quang Yen Province and Dong Quan in Ha Dong Province, noted Vietnam War correspondent Bernard Fall stated that, "the French strategic hamlets resembled British [Malayan] prototypes line for line." However, in contrast to the British, the French were reluctant to grant Vietnam its independence, or allow the Vietnamese a voice in government affairs; therefore, the agroville program had little effect.[2]

The First Indochina War terminated and the Geneva Conference (1954) partitioned Vietnam into communist (north) and non-communist (south) parts and the terms North Vietnam and South Vietnam became the common usage.

Beginning in 1954, Viet Minh sympathizers in the South were subject to escalating suppression by the Diem government, but by December 1960 the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam had been formed and soon rapidly achieved de facto control over large sections of the South Vietnamese countryside. At the time, it is believed that there were approximately 10,000 Communist insurgents throughout South Vietnam.

In February 1959, recognizing the danger that the guerrillas posed if they had the support of the peasants, President Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, made a first attempt at resettlement. A plan was put forth to develop centers of agglomeration. Through force and/or incentives, peasants in rural communities were separated and relocated. The primary goal of the centers was to concentrate the villagers, so they were not able to provide aid, comfort, and information to the Viet Cong.

The Government of Vietnam (GVN) developed two types of centers of agglomeration.[2]

The first type, qui khu, relocated Viet Cong (VC) families, people with relatives in North Vietnam, or people who had been associated with the Viet Minh into new villages; thus, providing easier government surveillance.

The second type of relocation center, qui ap, relocated into new villages those families that supported the South Vietnamese government but lived outside the realm of government protection and were susceptible to Viet Cong attacks. By 1960, there were twenty-three of these centers, each consisting of many thousands of people.[4]

This mass resettlement created a strong backlash from peasants and forced the central government to rethink its strategy. A report put out by the Caravelle group, consisting of eighteen signers, leaders of the Cao Dai and Hoa Hao sects, the Dai Viet, and dissenting Catholic groups described the situation as follows:

Tens of thousands of people are being mobilized… to take up a life in collectivity, to construct beautiful but useless agrovilles which tire the people, lose their affection, increase their resentment and most of all give an additional terrain for propaganda to the enemy.[5][6]


In late 1961, President Kennedy sent Roger Hilsman, then director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to assess the situation in Vietnam. There Hilsman met Sir Robert Thompson, head of the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam (BRIAM). Thompson was a veteran of the Malayan counter-insurgency effort and a counter-insurgency advisor to the Diem government.[1] Thompson shared his revised system of resettlement and population security, a system he had proposed to Diem that would eventually become the Strategic Hamlet Program. Thompson's proposal, adopted by Diem, advocated a priority on winning control of the South Vietnamese rural population rather than killing insurgents. The police and local security forces would play an important role coupled with anti-insurgent sweeps by the South Vietnamese army (ARVN).[7]

After his meetings with Thompson, on 2 February 1962 Hilsman described his concepts of a Strategic Hamlet Program in a policy document entitled "A Strategic Concept for South Vietnam", which President Kennedy read and endorsed.[8] Hilsman proposed heavily fortified strategic hamlets. "Each strategic village will be protected by a ditch and a fence of barbed wire. It will include one or more observation towers...the area immediately around the village will be cleared for fields of fire and the area approaching the clearing, including the ditch, will be strewn with booby-traps...and other personal obstacles.[9]

Hilsman proposed that each strategic hamlet be protected by a self-defense group of 75 to 100 armed men. The self-defense group would, in addition to defending the hamlet, be responsible for "enforcing curfews, checking identity cards, and ferreting out hard-core Communists." The objective was to separate, physically and politically, the Viet Cong guerrillas and supporters from the rural population.[10]

The first step in the establishment of a strategic hamlet would be a census carried out by the South Vietnamese government. Next, villagers would be required to build fortifications and the members of the self-defense force identified and trained. The villagers would be registered and be given identity cards and their movements would be monitored. Outside the fortifications would be a free fire zone.[10]

The South Vietnamese government on its part would provide assistance to the strategic hamlet and build an "essential socio-political base" that would break old habits and orient the residents toward identification with the country of South Vietnam.[11]

President Diem in an April 1962 speech outlined his hopes for the Program:

... strategic hamlets represented the basic elements in the war undertaken by our people against our three enemies: communism, discord, and underdevelopment. In this concept they also represent foundation of the Vietnamese society where values are reassessed according to the personalist revolution where social, cultural, and economic reform will improve the living conditions of the large working class down to the remotest village.[12]

The U.S. military commander in Vietnam, General Lionel C. McGarr, was initially skeptical of the Strategic Hamlet Program, especially because it emphasized police and local security forces rather than military action against insurgents. The U.S. military also objected to the proposed focus of the program on the most populated areas of South Vietnam; the U.S. wished to focus on areas where communist influence was greatest. After compromises were made to secure U.S. agreement, the Strategic Hamlet Program began implementation in March 1962.[13]

Operation Sunrise

Operation Sunrise began on 19 March 1962 in Binh Duong province, bordering the city of Saigon on the North. The province was heavily influenced by the Viet Cong, especially in the Iron Triangle, a Viet Cong stronghold. The selection of Binh Duong was contrary to Thompson's advice to choose a more secure area for the initial phase of the Strategic Hamlet Program. The United States Agency for International Development provided $21 per family to compensate farmers for their loss of property when forced to move into a strategic hamlet. Of the first 210 families relocated, 140 were reported to have been moved at gunpoint. South Vietnamese soldiers burned their former villages. By May, South Vietnam's government-owned newspaper reported that only 7 percent of 38,000 rural dwellers in the target area had been relocated either voluntarily or by force.[14]

Problematic implementation

Although many people in both the U.S. government and the government of South Vietnam (GVN) agreed that the Strategic Hamlet Program was strong in theory, its actual implementation was deficient on several grounds. Roger Hilsman himself later claimed that the GVN's execution of program constituted a "total misunderstanding of what the [Strategic Hamlet] program should try to do."[15]

The speed of the implementation of the Program was one of the main causes for its eventual failure. The Pentagon Papers reported that in September 1962, 4.3 million people were housed in 3,225 completed hamlets with more than two thousand still under construction.[16] By July 1963, over eight and a half million people had been settled in 7,205 hamlets according to figures given by the Vietnam Press.[17] In less than a year, both the number of completed hamlets and its population had doubled. Given this rapid rate of construction, the GVN was unable to fully support or protect the hamlets or its residents, despite funding by the United States government. Vietcong insurgents easily sabotaged and overran the poorly defended communities, gaining access to the South Vietnamese peasants. Only twenty percent of the hamlets in the Mekong Delta area were controlled by the GVN by the end of 1963.[18] In an interview, a resident of a hamlet in Vinh-Long described the situation: "It is dangerous in my village because the civil guard from the district headquarters cross the river to the village only in the daytime…leaving the village unprotected at night. The village people have no protection from the Viet Cong so they will not inform on them to the authorities."[19]

There are several other important problems that the GVN faced in addition to those created by the failure to provide basic social needs for the peasants and over-extension of its resources. One of these was wide public opposition to the Program stemming partly from an aggressive propaganda campaign by the Viet Cong, but also brought about by the inability of the committee to choose safe and agriculturally sound locations for the hamlets.[20] However, according to the Pentagon Papers, the most important source of failure was the inflexible nature of the ruling Ngo family.[21]

In 1962, Ngo Dinh Nhu, President Diem's brother, headed the Strategic Hamlet Program, attempting to build fortified villages that would provide security for rural Vietnamese. The objective was to lock the Viet Cong out so that they could not operate among the villagers. Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo supervised these efforts, and when told that the peasants resented being forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and put into forts they were compelled to build, he advised Nhu it was imperative to build as many hamlets as fast as possible. The Ngôs were unaware Thảo, ostensibly a Catholic, was in fact a communist double agent acting to turn the rural populace against Saigon. Thảo helped to ruin Nhu's scheme by having strategic hamlets built in communist strongholds. This increased the number of communist sympathizers who were placed inside the hamlets and given identification cards. As a result, the Viet Cong were able to more effectively penetrate the villages to access supplies and personnel.

Forced relocation

In the best case scenario, restructuring peasant villages to create a defensible perimeter would require the forced relocation of some of the peasants on the outskirts of the existing villages. To ease the burden, those forced to move were supposed to be financially compensated, but they were not always paid by the GVN forces. To make matters worse, their old homes were often burned before their eyes.[22] These people were forced to build new ones with their own labor and at their own expense.[23] Compounding these traumas were the long days of compulsory labor the South Vietnamese government forced on the peasants, leading Noam Chomsky to compare the hamlets to "virtual concentration camps."[24]

President Diem and his brother Nhu, who oversaw the program, decided -— contrary to Hilsman's and Thompson's theory—that in most cases they would relocate entire villages rather than simply restructuring them. This decision led to large-scale forced relocation that was deeply unpopular among the peasantry. The mostly-Buddhist peasantry practiced ancestor worship, an important part of their religion that was disrupted by being forced out of their villages and away from their ancestors' graves and their ancestral homes. Some who resisted resettlement were summarily executed by GVN forces.[25]


Promised compensation for resettled peasants was not always forthcoming and instead found its way in the pockets of South Vietnamese government officials. Peasants were promised wages for their labor building the new villages and fortifications; some corrupt officials kept the money for themselves. Wealthier peasants sometimes bribed their way out of working on construction, leaving more labor for the poorer peasants. Although the U.S. provided materials like sheet metal and barbed wire, corrupt officials sometimes forced the locals to buy the materials intended to provide them with protection.[23]

Security shortcomings

Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the Strategic Hamlet Program was its failure to provide the basic security envisioned by its proponents. This failure was partly due to poor placement of the hamlets. Ignoring the "oil-blot" principle (establish first in secure areas, then spread out), the South Vietnamese government began building strategic hamlets as quickly as possible and seemingly without considering "geographical priorities," according to a U.S. official. The randomly placed hamlets were isolated, not mutually supporting, and tempting targets for the Vietcong.[26]

Each hamlet was given a radio with which to call for South Vietnamese army ARVN support, but in fact ARVN forces were unreliable in responding to calls for help, especially when attacks occurred after nightfall. The villagers were also given weapons and training, but were only expected to hold out until conventional reinforcements arrived. Once it became clear that ARVN could not be relied upon, many villagers proved unwilling to fight even small Vietcong detachments, which could then capture the villagers' weapons. "Why should we die for weapons?" asked one Vietnamese peasant.[27]


Despite the Diem government's attempt to put a positive spin on the Strategic Hamlet Program, by mid-1963 it was clear to many that the program was failing. American military advisors such as John Paul Vann criticized the program in their official reports. They also expressed concerns to reporters who began to investigate more closely. David Halberstam's coverage of the Strategic Hamlet Program's shortcomings caught the eye of President Kennedy.[28]

The Strategic Hamlet Program was exposed as an almost complete failure in the aftermath of the November 1, 1963 coup that left Diem and his brother Nhu murdered. US officials discovered, for example, that only 20% of the 8600 hamlets that the Diem regime had reported "Complete" met the minimum American standards of security and readiness. The situation had passed the point of possible recovery. The program officially ended in 1964.[1]

On the ground in Vietnam, the demise of the program was visible. By the end of 1963, empty hamlets lined country roads, stripped of valuable metal by the Vietcong and the fleeing peasants. According to Neil Sheehan, "The rows of roofless houses looked like villages of play huts that children had erected and then whimsically abandoned."[29]

In his book Vietnam: a History (Viking,1983) Stanley Karnow describes his observations:

In the last week of November . . I drove south from Saigon into Long An, a province in the Mekong Delta, the rice basket of South Vietnam where 40 per cent of the population lived.
There I found the strategic hamlet program begun during the Diem regime in shambles.
At a place called Hoa Phu, the strategic hamlet built during the previous summer now looked like it had been hit by a hurricane. The barbed wire fence around the enclosure had been ripped apart, the watchtowers were demolished and only a few of its original thousand residents remained, sheltered in lean-tos... A local guard explained to me that a handful of Vietcong agents had entered the hamlet one night and told the peasants to tear it down and return to their native villages. The peasants complied...
From the start, in Hoa Phu and elsewhere, they had hated the strategic hamlets, many of which they had been forced to construct by corrupt officials who had pocketed a percentage of the money allocated for the projects. Besides, there were virtually no government troops in the sector to keep them from leaving. If the war was a battle for "hearts and minds,"...the United States and its South Vietnamese clients had certainly lost Long An.
My cursory impression, I later discovered, was confirmed in a more extensive survey conducted by Earl Young, the senior U. S. representative in the province. He reported in early December that three quarters of the two hundred strategic hamlets in Long An had been destroyed since the summer, either by the Vietcong or by their own occupants, or by a combination of both.[30]

Years later Roger Hilsman stated his belief that the strategic hamlet concept was executed so poorly by the Diem regime and the GVN "that it was useless."[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Tucker, Spencer, The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p. 1070.
  2. ^ a b c Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University; 2002_Symposium Paper |
  3. ^ The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military ... edited by Spencer C. Tucker : Dong Quan Pacification Project : 1953 (Google_books extract)>|
  4. ^ Zasloff, J.J. "Rural Resettlements in South Vietnam: The Agroville Programme", Pacific Affairs, Vol. XXXV, No. 4, Winter 1962-1963, p. 332.
  5. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1965, p. 25.
  6. ^ Wikipedia article the Caravelle Manifesto
  7. ^ Krepinevich, Jr., Andrew F. (1986), The Army and Vietnam, Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, pp 67-68
  8. ^ Hilsman, Roger, To Move a Nation, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1967, pp. 427-438; The Pentagon Papers: Senator Gravel Edition, 5 vols. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971, 2:139ff; Thompson, Robert, No Exit From Vietnam, London: Chatto & Windus, 1969.
  9. ^ Latham, Michael L. (2006) "Redirecting the Revolution? The USA and the Failure of Nation Building in South Vietnam", Third World Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2, p. 35. Downloaded from JSTOR.
  10. ^ a b Latham, p. 35
  11. ^ Latham, pp. 35-36
  12. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1965, p. 28.
  13. ^ Krepinevich, Jr., p. 67
  14. ^ Krepinevich, Jr., p. 67-68; Latham, p.36
  15. ^ Hilsman, Roger, To Move a Nation, p. 440.
  16. ^ "The Pentagon Papers v.2". Gravel ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 151.
  17. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison, p. 33.
  18. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison, p. 38.
  19. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison, p. 6.
  20. ^ Osborne, Milton E. Strategic Hamlets in South Viet-nam: A Survey and Comparison, p. 25.
  21. ^ "The Pentagon Papers v.2." Gravel ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, p. 158.
  22. ^ Pentagon Papers, 2:149; Sully, Francois, "South Vietnam: New Strategy", Newsweek (9 April 1962), pp. 45-46.
  23. ^ a b Sheehan, Neil, Bright Shining Lie, p. 310.
  24. ^ Chomsky, Noam (2016). Who Rules the World?. New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company. p. 203.
  25. ^ Sheehan, Neil, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, New York: Random House, 1988, pp. 309-310; Castan, Sam, "Vietnam’s Two Wars", Look (28 Jan. 1964), pp. 32-36; Kuno Knoebl, Victor Charlie, New York: Frederick A. Praegar Publishers, 1967, p. 257.
  26. ^ Foreign Relations of the United States: 1961-1963: Vietnam, 4 vols. (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1991), 2:429; Hilsman, Roger, To Move a Nation, p. 441.
  27. ^ Foreign Relations, 4:688; Castan, "Vietnam’s Two Wars", p. 35; Knoebl, Victor Charlie, p. 261.
  28. ^ Newman, John M., JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power, New York: Time Warner Books, 1992, pp. 316-330; Halberstam, David, "Rift With Vietnam on Strategy Underlined by 2 Red Attacks", New York Times (16 Sept. 1963), p. 2; Halberstam, David, "Vietnamese Reds Gain in Key Area", New York Times (15 Aug. 1963), 1; Foreign Relations, 4:237.
  29. ^ Hilsman, Roger, To Move a Nation, pp. 522-523; Foreign Relations, 4:687, 4:715; Sheehan, Neil, Bright Shining Lie, p. 365.
  30. ^ Vietnam: A History –Stanley Karnow Penguin Books, 1997 — Chapter 9 The Commitments Deepen pp.335,336 (first published: Viking, 1983) |
  31. ^ Episode 11: Vietnam, "An interview with Roger Hilsman," from the National Security Archive.
1962 in the Vietnam War

The Viet Cong insurgency expanded in South Vietnam in 1962. U.S. military personnel flew combat missions and accompanied South Vietnamese soldiers in ground operations to find and defeat the insurgents. Secrecy was the official U.S. policy concerning the extent of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The U.S.'s commanding general of MACV, Paul D. Harkins, projected optimism that progress was being made in the war, but that optimism was refuted by the concerns expressed by a large number of more junior officers and civilians. Several prominent magazines, newspapers, and politicians in the U.S. questioned the military strategy the U.S. was pursuing in support of the South Vietnamese government of President Ngô Đình Diệm. Diệm created the Strategic Hamlet Program as his top priority to defeat the Viet Cong. The program intended to cluster South Vietnam's rural dwellers into defended villages where they would be provided with government social services.

North Vietnam increased its support to the Viet Cong, infiltrating men and supplies into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh trail. North Vietnam proposed negotiations to neutralize South Vietnam as had been done in neighboring Laos and Cambodia, but the failure of the Laotian neutrality agreement doomed that initiative.

US analyses and statements about progress and problems with the war often conflicted or contradicted each other which is reflected in this article.

Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support

CORDS (Civil Operations and Rural Development Support) was a pacification program of the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War. The program was created on 9 May 1967, and included military and civilian components of both governments. The objective of CORDS was to gain support for the government of South Vietnam from its rural population which was largely under the influence or controlled by the insurgent communist forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

Unlike earlier pacification programs in Vietnam, CORDS is seen by many authorities as a "successful integration of civilian and military efforts" to combat the insurgency. By 1970, 93 percent of the rural population of South Vietnam was believed by the United States to be living in "relatively secure" villages. CORDS had been extended to all 44 provinces of South Vietnam, and the communist insurgency was much reduced. Critics, however, have described the pacification programs and CORDS in terms such as "the illusion of progress". CORDS was, in the estimation of its first leader, Robert W. Komer, "too little, too late."With the withdrawal of U.S. military forces and many civilian personnel, CORDS was abolished in February 1973. CORDS temporary successes were eroded in the 1970s, as the war became primarily a struggle between the conventional military forces of South and North Vietnam rather than an insurgency. North Vietnam prevailed in 1975.

Commune (Vietnam)

Commune (Vietnamese: Xã; Chữ nôm: 社), a type of third tier subdivision of Vietnam is divided into 11,162 units along with ward and township have equal status.The communes are subordinate to city, town or district as the Third Tier unit.

Free-fire zone

A free-fire zone in U.S. military parlance is a fire control measure, used for coordination between adjacent combat units. The definition used in the Vietnam War by U.S. troops may be found in field manual FM 6-20:

A specific designated area into which any weapon system may fire without additional coordination with the establishing headquarters.

General Department of Military Intelligence (Vietnam)

Tổng cục Tình báo, other names: Tổng cục 2, TC2 (translated variously as General Department of Military Intelligence or Second General Department) is an intelligence agency of Vietnam.

Hearts and Minds (Vietnam War)

Hearts and Minds (Vietnam) or winning hearts and minds refers to the strategy and programs used by the governments of Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to win the popular support of the Vietnamese people and to help defeat the Viet Cong insurgency. Pacification is the more formal term for winning hearts and minds. Military, political, economic, and social means were used to attempt to establish or reestablish South Vietnamese government control over rural areas and people under the influence of the Viet Cong. Some progress was made in the 1967–1971 period by the joint military-civilian organization called CORDS, but the character of the war changed from an insurgency to a conventional war between the armies of South and North Vietnam. North Vietnam won in 1975.

Pacification or hearts and minds objectives were often in diametric opposition to the strategy of firepower, mobility, and attrition pursued by the U.S. from 1965 to 1968. Rather than the search and destroy strategy the U.S. followed during those years, hearts and minds had the priority of "hold and protect" the rural population and thereby gain its support for the government of South Vietnam.

Krulak–Mendenhall mission

The Krulak–Mendenhall mission was a fact-finding expedition dispatched by the Kennedy administration to South Vietnam in early September 1963. The stated purpose of the expedition was to investigate the progress of the war by the South Vietnamese regime and its US military advisers against the Viet Cong insurgency. The mission was led by Victor Krulak and Joseph Mendenhall. Krulak was a major general in the United States Marine Corps, while Mendenhall was a senior Foreign Service Officer experienced in dealing with Vietnamese affairs.

The four-day whirlwind trip was launched on September 6, 1963, the same day as a National Security Council (NSC) meeting, and came in the wake of increasingly strained relations between the United States and South Vietnam. Civil unrest gripped South Vietnam as Buddhist demonstrations against the religious discrimination of President Ngô Đình Diệm's Catholic regime escalated. Following the raids on Buddhist pagodas on August 21 that left a death toll ranging up to a few hundred, the US authorized investigations into a possible coup through a cable to US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

In their submissions to the NSC, Krulak presented an optimistic report on the progress of the war, while Mendenhall presented a bleak picture of military failure and public discontent. Krulak disregarded the popular support for the Viet Cong, feeling that the Vietnamese soldiers' efforts in the field would not be affected by the public's unease with Diệm's policies. Mendenhall focused on gauging the sentiment of urban Vietnamese and concluded that Diệm's policies increased the possibility of religious civil war, and were causing the South Vietnamese to believe that life under the Viet Cong would improve the quality of their lives. The divergent reports led US President John F. Kennedy to ask his two advisers "You two did visit the same country, didn't you?"

The inconclusive report was the subject of bitter and personal debate among Kennedy's senior advisers. Various courses of action towards Vietnam were discussed, such as fostering a regime change or taking a series of selective measures designed to cripple the influence of Ngô Đình Nhu, Diệm's brother and chief political adviser. Nhu and his wife Madame Ngô Đình Nhu were seen as the major causes of the political problems in South Vietnam. The inconclusive result of Krulak and Mendenhall's expedition resulted in a follow-up mission, the McNamara–Taylor mission.

McNamara–Taylor mission

The McNamara–Taylor mission was a 10-day fact-finding expedition to South Vietnam in September 1963 by the Kennedy administration to review progress in the battle by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and its American advisers against the communist insurgency of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The mission was led by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell D. Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The mission came in the wake of the Krulak–Mendenhall mission in which United States Marine Corps General Victor Krulak and State Department official Joseph Mendenhall gave diametrically differing outlooks on the military and political situation in Vietnam. Upon their return, McNamara and Taylor recommended measures intended to restrict the regime of President Ngô Đình Diệm, feeling that Diệm was pre-occupied with suppressing dissent rather than fighting the communists. The measures also sought to pressure Diệm to respect human rights more.

Ngo Dinh Diem

Ngô Đình Diệm (; Vietnamese: [ŋō ɗìn jîəmˀ] (listen); 3 January 1901 – 2 November 1963) was a Vietnamese politician. He was the final prime minister of the State of Vietnam (1954–55), and then served as President of South Vietnam from 1955 until he was deposed and killed during the 1963 military coup.

Diệm was born into a prominent Catholic family, the son of a high-ranking civil servant, Ngô Đình Khả. He was educated at French-speaking schools and considered following his brother Ngô Đình Thục into the priesthood, but eventually chose to pursue a civil-service career. He progressed rapidly in the court of Emperor Bảo Đại, becoming governor of Bình Thuận Province in 1929 and interior minister in 1933. However, he resigned the latter position after three months and publicly denounced the emperor as a tool of the French. Diệm came to support Vietnamese nationalism, promoting an anti-communist and anti-colonialist "third way" opposed to both Bảo Đại and communist leader Hồ Chí Minh. He established the Can Lao Party to support his political doctrine of Person Dignity Theory.

After several years in exile, Diệm returned home in July 1954 and was appointed prime minister by Bảo Đại, the head of the Western-backed State of Vietnam. The Geneva Accords were signed soon after he took office, formally partitioning Vietnam along the 17th parallel. Diệm soon consolidated power in South Vietnam, aided by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu. After a rigged referendum in 1955, he proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president. His government was supported by other anti-communist countries, most notably the United States. Diệm pursued a series of nation-building schemes, emphasising industrial and rural development. From 1957, he was faced with a communist insurgency backed by North Vietnam, eventually formally organized under the banner of the Việt Cộng. He was subject to a number of assassination and coup attempts, and in 1962 established the Strategic Hamlet Program as the cornerstone of his counterinsurgency effort.

Diệm's favoritism towards Catholics and persecution of South Vietnam's Buddhist majority led to the "Buddhist crisis" of 1963. The violence damaged relations with the United States and other previously sympathetic countries, and his regime lost favour with the leadership of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On 1 November 1963, the country's leading generals launched a coup d'état with assistance from the CIA. He and his younger brother Nhu initially escaped, but were recaptured the following day and murdered on the orders of Dương Văn Minh, who succeeded him as president. Diệm has been a controversial historical figure in historiography on the Vietnam War. Some historians have portrayed him as a tool of the United States, while others considered him an avatar of Vietnamese tradition. Some recent studies have portrayed Diệm from a more Vietnamese-centred perspective as a competent leader focused on nation building and the modernisation of South Vietnam.

Ngô Đình Nhu

Ngô Đình Nhu (listen; 7 October 1910 – 2 November 1963) was a Vietnamese archivist and politician. He was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Đình Diệm. Although he held no formal executive position, he wielded immense unofficial power, exercising personal command of both the ARVN Special Forces (a paramilitary unit which served as the Ngô family's de facto private army) and the Cần Lao political apparatus (also known as the Personalist Labor Party) which served as the regime's de facto secret police.In his early age, Nhu was a quiet and bookish individual who showed little inclination towards the political path taken by his elder brothers. While training as an archivist in France, Nhu adopted the Roman Catholic ideology of personalism, although critics claimed that he misused that philosophy. Upon returning to Vietnam, he helped his brother in his quest for political power, and Nhu proved an astute and ruthless tactician and strategist, helping Diệm to gain more leverage and outwit rivals. During this time, he formed and handpicked the members of the secret Cần Lao Party, which swore its personal allegiance to the Ngô family, provided their power base and eventually became their secret police force. Nhu remained as its head until his own assassination.In 1955, Nhu's supporters helped intimidate the public and rig the 1955 State of Vietnam referendum that ensconced his elder brother, Diệm, in power. Nhu used the Cần Lao, which he organised into cells, to infiltrate every part of society to root out opposition to the Ngô family. In 1959, he organized a failed assassination attempt via mail bomb on Prince Sihanouk, the prime minister of neighbouring Cambodia, with whom relations had become strained. Nhu publicly extolled his own intellectual abilities. He was known for making such public statements as promising to demolish the Xá Lợi Pagoda and vowing to kill his estranged father-in-law, Trần Văn Chương, who was the regime's ambassador to the United States, after the elder man condemned the Ngô family's behavior and disowned his daughter, Nhu's wife, Madame Nhu.In 1963, the Ngô family's grip on power became unstuck during the Buddhist crisis, during which the nation's Buddhist majority rose up against the pro-Catholic regime. Nhu tried to break the Buddhists' opposition by using the Special Forces in raids on prominent Buddhist temples that left hundreds dead, and framing the regular army for it. However, Nhu's plan was uncovered, which intensified plots by military officers, encouraged by the Americans, who turned against the Ngô family after the pagoda attacks. Nhu was aware of the plots, but remained confident he could outmaneuver them, and began to plot a counter-coup, as well as the assassinations of US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and other American and opposition figures. Nhu was fooled by the loyalist General Tôn Thất Đính, who had turned against the Ngô family. On 1 November 1963, the coup proceeded, and the Ngô brothers (Nhu and Diệm) were detained and assassinated the next day.

Operation Sunrise

Operation Sunrise may refer to:

Operation Sunrise (World War II), a series of secret negotiations in March 1945 in Switzerland between elements of the Nazi German SS and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services under Allen Dulles

Operation Sunrise (Vietnam War), a 1962 test of the Strategic Hamlet Program

Operation Sunrise (Albania), part of the 1997 rebellion in Albania

Operation Sunrise, a 2006 approach to the hyperinflation of banknotes of Zimbabwe

Siege of Lal Masjid, code-named Operation Sunrise, a confrontation in July 2007 between Islamic fundamentalist militants and the government of Pakistan

Operation Sunrise (Nyasaland), mass detentions which marked the first stage in a State of Emergency declared on March 3, 1959

Operation Sunrise (Vietnam War)

Operation Sunrise was the first phase of a long range South Vietnamese counter-offensive against the Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam War. It was launched in the Bến Cát District of the Bình Dương Province 35 miles (56 km) from Saigon. It began the Strategic Hamlet Program in which scattered rural populations in South Vietnam were uprooted from their ancestral farmlands and resettled into fortified villages defended by local militias. However, over 50 of the hamlets were soon infiltrated and easily taken over by VC who killed or intimidated village leaders.

As a result, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem ordered bombing raids against suspected VC-controlled hamlets. The air strikes by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force were supported by U.S. pilots, who also conducted some of the bombings. Following the air strikes South Vietnamese light tanks pushed into the hamlets to sweep out rebels. Although dozens of VC were killed, the operation took a hard toll on the populations as civilian casualties eroded popular support for Diem and resulted in growing peasant hostility toward America, which was largely blamed for the unpopular resettlement program as well as the bombings.

Phạm Ngọc Thảo

Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo (IPA: Hanoi: [fâˀm ŋoˀk tʰa᷉ɔ], Saigon: [fə̂ˀm ŋoˀk tʰə᷉ɔ]), also known as Albert Thảo (1922–1965), was a communist sleeper agent of the Viet Minh (and, later, of the Vietnam People's Army) who infiltrated the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and also became a major provincial leader in South Vietnam. In 1962, he was made overseer of Ngô Đình Nhu's Strategic Hamlet Program in South Vietnam and deliberately forced it forward at an unsustainable speed, causing the production of poorly equipped and poorly defended villages and the growth of rural resentment toward the regime of President Ngô Đình Diệm, Nhu's elder brother. In light of the failed "land reform" efforts in North Vietnam, the Hanoi government welcomed Thao's efforts to undermine Diem.

During the First Indochina War, Thảo was a communist officer in the Vietminh and helped oversee various operations in the Mekong Delta in the far south, at one point commanding his future enemy Nguyễn Khánh, who briefly served the communist cause. After the French withdrawal and the partition of Vietnam, Thảo stayed in the south and made a show of renouncing communism. He became part of the military establishment in the anti-communist southern regime and quickly rose through the ranks. Nominally Catholic, Thảo befriended Diệm's elder brother, Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục—the devoutly Roman Catholic Ngô family strongly favored co-religionists and had great trust in Thảo, unaware that he was still loyal to the communists. He went on to serve as the chief of Bến Tre Province, and gained fame after the area—traditionally a communist stronghold—suddenly became peaceful and prosperous. Vietnamese and US officials, as well as journalists hostile to or supportive of Saigon, misinterpreted this as a testament to Thảo's great ability, and he was promoted to a more powerful position where he could further his sabotage. Thảo and the communists in the local area had simply stopped fighting, so that the communists could quietly recuperate, while Thảo would appear to be very skillful and be given a more important job where he could do more damage.Through intrigue, Thảo also helped destabilise and ultimately unseat two South Vietnamese regimes—Diem's and the military junta of Khánh. As the Diệm regime began to unravel in 1963, Thảo was one of the officers planning a coup. His plot was ultimately integrated into the successful plot and his activities promoted infighting which weakened the government and distracted the military from fighting the Viet Cong insurgency. Throughout 1964 and 1965, as South Vietnam was struggling to establish a stable state after the ouster of Diệm, Thảo was involved in several intrigues and coup plots which diverted the government from implementing its programs. In 1965, he went into hiding after a failed attempt to seize power from Khánh and was sentenced to death in absentia. Although this coup also failed, the subsequent chaos forced Khánh's junta to collapse. Thảo died the same year he was forced into hiding; it is believed that he was murdered after a bounty was placed on his head. After Vietnam was reunified at the end of the Vietnam War, the victorious communists claimed Thảo as one of their own and posthumously made him a one-star general.

Roger Hilsman

Roger Hilsman Jr. (November 23, 1919 – February 23, 2014) was an American soldier, government official, political scientist, and author. He served in Merrill's Marauders, and then with the Office of Strategic Services as a guerrilla leader, in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II. He later was an aide and adviser to President John F. Kennedy and, briefly, to President Lyndon B. Johnson, in the U.S. State Department while serving as Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research during 1961–63 and Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs during 1963–64. There Hilsman was a key and controversial figure in the development of U.S. policies in South Vietnam during the early stages of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He left government in 1964 to teach at Columbia University, retiring in 1990. He was a Democratic Party nominee for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972 but lost in the general election. He was the author of many books about American foreign policy and international relations.


SHP or shp may refer to:

Saint Helena pound, the currency of the British overseas territories of Saint Helena and Ascension Island

Sacred Heart Preparatory (Atherton, California), a Society of the Sacred Heart school in Atherton, California

Safety and Health Practitioner the monthly magazine for the IOSH

Seton Hall Preparatory School, a school in West Orange, New Jersey

Shaft horsepower, the power delivered to the propeller shaft of a ship or an airplane

Shapefile, a common GIS file format for vectors

SimpsonHaugh and Partners, British architecture company

Shipibo language (ISO 639-3 code), a Panoan language spoken in Peru and Brazil

Single Homeless Project, a UK-based charity dealing with homelessness in London

Small heterodimer partner, a type of nuclear receptor

Small hydro power plant, an application of hydroelectric power generating between 1 MW and 10 MW

Social Democratic People's Party (Turkey), or Sosyaldemokrat Halk Partisi (Turkish)

Social Democratic Populist Party (Turkey), or Sosyaldemokrat Halkçı Parti (Turkish)

Stereo headphones

Strategic Hamlet Program, an initiative of the US and former South Vietnamese government to curtail communist activity in South Vietnam

Swanson Health Products, American manufacturer and distributor of vitamins and supplements

Qinhuangdao Shanhaiguan Airport, China, IATA code SHP

Schönlein-Henoch purpura, another term for the disease usually referred to as Henoch-Schönlein purpura

Columbia University Science Honors Program, a Saturday-morning science program for high school students

The Vietnam War (TV series)

The Vietnam War is a 10-part American television documentary series about the Vietnam War written by Geoffrey C. Ward and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The first episode premiered on PBS on September 17, 2017. The script is by Geoffrey Ward, and the series is narrated by Peter Coyote. This series is one of the few PBS series to carry a TV-MA rating.


Villagization (sometimes also spelled villagisation) is the (usually compulsory) resettlement of people into designated villages by government or military authorities.

Villagization may be used as a tactic by a government or military power to facilitate control over a previously scattered rural population believed to harbour disloyal or rebel elements. Examples include Indian removal to reservations by the United States, General Order No. 11 (1863) in the American Civil War, the British New Villages programme to defeat communist rebels during the Malayan Emergency, the U.S. "Strategic Hamlet Program" in the Vietnam War and the "protected villages" strategy adopted by Rhodesia, Mozambique, and Uganda in combating modern insurgencies.

The British colonial government in Kenya used a similar approach to exert control over Kikuyu tribespeople during the Mau Mau Uprising, which in turn inspired the "Manyatta" strategy of independent Kenya against ethnic Somalis during the Shifta War. However, forced resettlement may sometimes be counter-productive where it increases resentment among an already restive population against the ruling regime.

Villagization may also be used as part of a programme of collectivization of farming and other economic activity, as in Tanzania under the Ujamaa policy set out in the Arusha Declaration, and in Ethiopia, particularly under Mengistu's administration.

Wapi Project

The Wapi Project was a civic action program originated by the Royal Lao Government; it was performed in Military Region 3 of Laos from late 1963 through 1967. Notable for being among the first integrated programs to offer integrated services to the Lao Theung populace of southern Laos, it became a victim of its own success. Its lean efficiency led to its being crowded out of funding by more expensive programs.

War in Vietnam (1959–1963)

The 1959 to 1963 phase of the Vietnam War started after the North Vietnamese had made a firm decision to commit to a military intervention in the guerrilla war in the South Vietnam, a buildup phase began, between the 1959 North Vietnamese decision and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to a major US escalation of its involvement. Vietnamese communists saw this as a second phase of their revolution, the US now substituting for the French.

Between the Geneva accords in 1954 and 1956, the two states created by the talks were still forming; the influence of major powers, especially France and the United States, and to a lesser extent China and the Soviet Union, were as much an influence as any internal matters. There is little question that in 1957-1958, there was a definite early guerilla movement against the Diệm government, involving individual assassinations, expropriations, recruiting, shadow government. The insurgents were South Vietnamese rebels or northerners who had been living there for some time. While there was clearly communications and perhaps arms supply from the north, there is little evidence of any Northern units in the South, although organizers may well have infiltrated.

There was endemic insurgency in South Vietnam throughout the period 1954–1960. It can also be established-but less surely- that the Diệm regime alienated itself from one after another of those domestic sectors which might have offered it political support, and was grievously at fault in its rural programs. That these conditions engendered animosity toward the Southern dictatorship seems almost certain, and they could have led to a major resistance movement even without North Vietnamese help.

There is little doubt that there was some kind of Viet Minh-derived "stay behind" organization between 1954 and 1960, but it is unclear that they were directed to take over action until 1957 or later. Before that, they were unquestionably recruiting and preparing.

While the visible guerilla incidents increased gradually, the key policy decisions by the North were made in 1959. Early in this period, there was a greater degree of conflict in Laos than in South Vietnam. US combat involvement was, at first, greater in Laos, but the activity of advisors, and increasingly US direct support to South Vietnamese soldiers, increased, under US military authority, in late 1959 and early 1960. Communications intercepts in 1959, for example, confirmed the start of the Ho Chi Minh trail and other preparation for large-scale fighting. North Vietnam declared its public support for communist insurgents in South Vietnam. The communist forces in South Vietnam established the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (Viet Cong). At the same time, the United States helped the South Vietnamese regime conduct its war strategy. Despite this assistance, the communist forces still won on the battlefield, fighting several large campaigns next to the big cities. Diệm was unable to take control of political crisis and was overthrown by the Council of Revolutionary Military (some documents of both sides suggest that it was the United States which had given the green light for this coup). After several years of chaos, the Ngô Đình Diệm government came to an end in 1963 and South Vietnam then fell into management crisis.

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