The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalleled and Unequaled

By Ira A. Hunt | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Pacification: The Endgame

The 9th Infantry Division was introduced in the Delta for one purpose only, to improve the security. Its mission was clear: it had to defeat the Viet Cong main and local force units and to support the pacification efforts of the GVN, thereby eliminating the Viet Cong’s intimidation of the people. Pacification then was the endgame, and the most discernable pattern in it was that programs depended entirely upon security. Consequently, the division had a dual focus—combat operations and pacification.


A Guerrilla War

In mid-1968, the war in the populated Delta of South Vietnam was a guerrilla war. The tactics of avoiding contact only to surface at high points and then to disappear into the countryside and the absolute necessity of the Viet Cong main and local force units to have the support of the people to operate effectively were hallmarks of guerrilla warfare. In this guerrilla war, the goals of both the Communists and the GVN and its allies was to control the population and resources of South Vietnam. Since the GVN controlled the urban areas, the pacification of the rural areas was the key to success. Although many peasants harbored ill feelings toward the government for past deprivations, it was generally necessary for the Communists to maintain control of the countryside through force and intimidation. Th eir main and local force battalions provided the muscle, and the local district companies and village and hamlet guerrillas kept the lid on popular discontent. The Viet Cong manipulated the population by imposing its own Infrastructure (VCI). The VC coerced people into providing food, intelligence, and labor and, most importantly, unit recruits. The hamlet guerrillas dug the

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