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Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) political action program
Date of Creation:
March 3, 1965
Date of Declassification:
November 24, 1980
Type of Document:
Level of Classification:
Status of Copy:
Pagination, Illustration:
6 p.
In the 13 months following December 1961, the CIDG political action program recovered and secured several hundred villages, some 300,000 civilians and several hundred square miles of territory from the Viet Cong, utilizing some 38,000 armed civilian irregulars. These people who fought well on their home ground and without support from conventional Vietnamese armed forces, had almost unbroken success against the Viet Cong. Initial starts for CIDG programs wore made by officers who had operated in local areas long enough to understand the local issues and problems faced by inhabitants of those areas. It was invariably found that the hold of the Viet Cong on the population was weak and existed mainly because local Vietnamese officials had nothing better to offer the population. When offered medical help, rudimentary education and increased understanding of their role as citizens of a country they had hitherto known little or nothing about, it was almost invariably found that local peoples were willing to make the commitment to defend themselves, their homes and their families against the Viet Cong. Arms alone were not offered nor would they have been accepted with any real intention to use them. Development of local strike forces to defend those villages having committed themselves to the CIDG effort was a second vital step. Strike forces were made up of local people and they were used for no other military ventures. The success of the strike force was their familiarity with local conditions, terrain and people. It was found that it was completely unwise to arm villagers unless there was a strike force available to maintain continuous protection over them. The prototype of the CIDG effort developed among the Rhade tribe at Buon Enao in Darlac Province, and grew from one village to a complex of over 200. The combination of armed villagers experiencing an improvement in their lives and constantly patrolling strike forces was consistently successful and, as word spread, more and more people openly asked to be made part of the CIDG program. The basic strength of the program was that it left in place a loyal population which reported Viet Cong activities and resisted new subversive attempts even when American or official Vietnamese were not present. The concept of local defense with roving strike forces worked not only with the Montagnards but with Father Hoa and his Chinese refugees and with the so-called "Fighting Fathers" and their enclaves of Catholic youth. Thus the CIDG was an outstandingly successful program until the Spring of 1963 when two factors combined to blunt and reduce its effectiveness. The first was a change in mission and operating procedure of the CIDG program. The second was increased (but unfounded) GVN distrust of the Montagnard. This distrust culminated in mass disarming of Montagnard elements and this action by the GVN created considerable disatisfaction among most Montagnard groups. These factors were further aggravated by the GVN's reactions to and preoccupation with the Buddhist/political crisis which led to the November 1963 coup d?etat.
Declassified Documents Reference System Location: