This volume is part of the Center for the Study of Intelligence's continuing effort to provide as clear a record of CIA activities as possible within the constraints of overall national security concerns. We believe it is important for the American public to be aware of and to understand the Agency's crucial mission. The CIA is committed to a degree of openness that not only documents its activities but also informs the US public of the historical successes and shortcomings of the Intelligence Community.
This recently declassified study by former CIA officer Dr. Harold P. Ford reviews the Intelligence Community's analytic performance during the chaotic Vietnam era, with particular focus on the efforts of CIA analysts. It offers a candid view of the CIA's intelligence assessments concerning Vietnam during three episodes between 1962 and 1968 and the reactions of senior US policymakers to those assessments. Without ignoring or downplaying the analysts' problems and errors, Dr. Ford argues persuasively that, for the most part, the Agency's analysis proved remarkably accurate. His study shows that CIA analysts had a firm grasp of the situation in Vietnam and continually expressed doubts that heightened US military pressure alone could win the war. Contrary to the opinions voiced by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and others, Dr. Ford strikingly illustrates the substantial expertise CIA officers brought to the Vietnam question.
Dr. Ford was uniquely qualified to undertake this in-depth study of the Agency's performance on Vietnam. After graduating from the University of Redlands, he served as a naval officer in the Pacific during World War II. He earned a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago and was a postdoctoral scholar at Oxford University. He joined the CIA's Office of Policy Coordination in 1950 and transferred in 1951 to the Agency's Office of National Estimates where he served for most of his Agency career. He drafted many National Intelligence Estimates concerning Vietnam and participated in several of the inter-Agency Vietnam working groups discussed in this study. He later served as a CIA station chief abroad. Dr. Ford retired from CIA in 1974 and subsequently worked for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He returned to the Agency in 1980 to help form the National Intelligence Council (NIC). At the time of his retirement in 1986 he was the NIC's Acting Chairman.
Gerald K. Haines
Chief, CIA History Staff
This publication is prepared for the use of US Government officials, and the format, coverage, and content are designed to meet their specific requirements. US Government officials can obtain additional copies of this document directly or through liaison channels from the Central
Other requesters can obtain subscriptions to publications similar to this one by addressing inquiries to:
- Documents Expediting Project (DOC EX)
ANA Division--Government Documents Section
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4172
Phone: (202) 707-9527
Fax (202) 707-0380
- National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Phone: (703) 605-6000 or 1-800-553-6847
Fax: (703) 321-8547
Queries on the availability of this publication may be directed to the DOC EX Project or the NTIS Office of Customer Services at the respective addresses or phone or fax numbers indicated above. Publications are not available to the public from the Central Intelligence Agency.
This document will be available on the Internet at www.odci.gov/csi.
This publication contains copyrighted material. Do not reproduce or disseminate without permission.
All opinions expressed in this study are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other component of the US Intelligence Community.