Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 14, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 21, 2003
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Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
May 7, 1954
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PDF icon CIA-RDP80R01443R000200270001-1.pdf127.6 KB
`Approved F r Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80R01443 000200270001-1 NSC BRIEFING 0 7 May 1954 THE VIET MINH THREAT TO THE TONKIN DELTA I. Although world attention has concen- trated on Dien Bien Phu, it is actually the rice rich Tonkin delta, and its 7,000,000 people,)that has always been the strategic prize of the Indochina war. A. The Viet Minh will do all they can to capitalize on the confusion and shock of the French and anti- Communist Vietnamese over the fall of Dien Bien Phu. B. Might try to maintain present momen- tum by making an early all-out effort to take the delta. NSAreview completed State Department review completed Approved For Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80RO1443 000200270001-1 . Approved II. The French are usually pictured as holding most of the delta, while the Viet Minh infiltrate and stage guerrilla attacks. A. But Viet Minh's so-called "infiltration" is so widespread. that it might be more accurate to say that the French are the infiltrators. B. Major part of French strength of 192,500 is tied down in numerous little posts dotting the countryside and in protection of major towns and lines of communications. 1. French now have firm hold only on some 700 of the more than 5,000 Tonkin delta villages. 25X1 Approved Fot Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80R01443f2000200270001-1 Approved For C. Viet Minh forces of 76,000 in and around the delta move freely about the countryside in large bands attacking French installations at will. III. Much of Viet Minh strength lies in ,elusiveness. A. When approached by superior numbers, they trade rifle for hoe and vanish among the farmers. If surprised, they may become human submarines, hiding under water in flooded fields and breathing through bamboo tubes. IV. If started on its way soon, most of the battle-tested Viet Minh force of about 30,000 now at Dien Bien Phu could reach 9~ the Tonkin delta two or three weeks well n before the heavy rains begin in early July. Approved For 00200270001-1 25X1 25X1 Approved For A. But victors at Dien Bien Phu may not be needed, since Viet Minh forces in and around the delta have not yet made all-out effort and degree of demoralization of delta defenders is unknown factor at present. 25X1 25X1 Approved For Re ease - 00200270001-1 25X1 Approved Fo 000200270001-1 V. U.S. Consul Sturm, just returned from Hanoi, feels the signal for a big Viet Minh offensive may well be an attempt to capture Nam Dinh, third most important city in the Tonkin delta. (PoP: 2S`,00S) A. Example of ability to surprise and seize it iative is fact that over a month ago, a small Viet Minh group, disguised as women, seized the marketplace of Nam Dinh and held it for several hours. Group melted away in crowd when French troops approached. B. Tonkin capital, Hanoi, is an equally likely target. By permanently cutting the city's communications with the port of Haiphong, the Viet Minh might stifle the French into submission. Hanoi needs 2,000 tons approved For Relpase 2O03100126 : - 0200270001-1 %JW 25X1 Approved For Rel of supplies daily from Haiphong. C. Hanoi is also believed vulnerable to attack from within. 1the enemy is bringing in quantities of explosives and guns for sabotage or an internal uprising. Past estimates of Viet Minh underground strength in Hanoi range from hundreds to thousands. 25X1 25X1 25X1 Oproved For Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80R01443R0002002700Q1-1 Approved For Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80RO1443R000200270001-1 Approved For Release 2003/08/26 : CIA-RDP80RO1443R000200270001-1