Books Monographs

CIA and the Wars in Southeast Asia, 1947-75

A Studies in Intelligence Anthology

By Clayton Laurie



This anthology was prepared as a contribution to Department of Defense-led interagency efforts to commemorate the passing of 50 years since the large-scale engagement of the military forces of the United States and other countries in defending the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) against communist guerrilla, mainforce, and North Vietnamese Army units. For CIA, and many members of the US military, engagement in South Vietnam began well before what is marked as the beginning of the 50th anniversary commemoration, 1965. As the 41 articles selected by CIA historian Clayton Laurie for this anthology will show, Southeast Asia was the focus of CIA activity as long ago as the early 1950s, when it was directed to provide support to French efforts to maintain control of its colony of Indochina.

Dedication. This volume is dedicated to the men and women of the United States, Allied nations, and peoples of the region with whom US intelligence worked to thwart the advance of communism in Southeast Asia. Among the more than fifty-eight thousand Americans who gave their lives were eighteen members of the Central Intelligence Agency, their sacrifices marked by stars carved into CIA’s Memorial Wall.

This updated digital version is also dedicated to the memory of its primary compiler and author, Clayton Laurie, who suffered a fatal heart attack in early 2021.

Download PDF of complete monograph to read the essays and summaries of selected works. (Citations in the monograph are not hyperlinked, but cited articles with links to PDFs of each can be found below, arranged by author surnames in alphabetical order.)


Consolidated List of Cited Articles and Other Resources Linked to PDFs or Locations of Documents (as of May 2022)

Absher, Kenneth Michael. “John Kearns and the Cold War in Laos.” Studies in Intelligence 46, no. 4 (2002): 45–54. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—

Released in part.

Ahern, Thomas L. Jr. “The CIA and the Government of Ngo Dinh Diem.” Studies  in Intelligence 37, no. 4 (1993): 41–51. Originally SECRET—Released in part.

Allen, George W. “Covering Coups in Saigon.” Studies in Intelligence 33, no. 4 (1989): 57–61. Originally SECRET—Released in part.

Allen, George W. “Intelligence in Small Wars.” Studies in Intelligence 35, no. 4 (1991): 19–27. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Atkins, Merle, Kenneth C. Fuller, and Bruce Smith. “‘Rolling Thunder’ and Bomb Damage to Bridges.” Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (1969): 1–9. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in full.

Bunker, Ellsworth. “Vietnam in Retrospect.” Studies in Intelligence 18, no. 1  (1974): 41–47. Originally CONFIDENTIAL—Released in full.

Castle, Timothy. “From the Bay of Pigs to Laos—Operation MILLPOND: The Beginning of a Distant Covert War.” Studies in Intelligence, 59, no. 2 (2015): 1–16. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Elkes, Martin C. “The LAMS Story.” Studies in Intelligence 19, no. 2 (1975): 29–34. Originally SECRET—Released in part.

Finlayson, Andrew R. “The Tay Ninh Provincial Reconnaissance Unit and Its Role in the Phoenix Program, 1969–70.” Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 2 (2007): 59–69. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Ford, Harold P. “The US Decision to Go Big in Vietnam.” Studies in Intelligence 29, no. 1 (1985): 1–15. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in full.

———, “Thoughts Engendered by Robert McNamara’s In Retrospect.” Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 1 (1995): 95–109. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

———, “Why CIA Analysts Were So Doubtful About Vietnam.” Studies in Intelligence 40, no. 2 (1996): 43–53. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

———, “William Colby: Retrospect.” Studies in Intelligence 40, no. 1 (1996): 1–5. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Hall, Arthur B. “Landscape Analysis.” Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 3 (1967): 65–75. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in full.

Hartness, William M. “Aspects of Counterinsurgency Intelligence.” Studies in Intelligence 7, no. 4 (1963): 71–83. Originally CONFIDENTIAL—Released in full.

Hathaway, Robert M. “Richard Helms as DCI.” Studies in Intelligence 37, no. 4 (1993): 33–40. Originally SECRET—Released in full.

Holm, Richard L. “Recollections of a Case Offcer in Laos, 1962–1964.” Studies in Intelligence 47, no. 1 (2003): 1–17. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Kitchens, Allen H. “Crisis and Intelligence: Two Case Studies [Tet and Iran].” Studies in Intelligence 28, No. 3 (1984): 71–78. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Laurie, Clayton. “Intelligence in Public Literature, Takes on Intelligence and the

Vietnam War”—a review essay of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975, by John Prados; Why Vietnam Matters: An Eyewitness Account of Lessons Not Learned, by Rufus Phillips; This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive, by James S. Robbins. Studies in Intelligence 55, no. 2 (2011): 73–77. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Leary, William M. “CIA Air Operations in Laos, 1955–1974.” Studies in  Intelligence 42, no. 2 (1998): 71–86. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Leidesdorf, Titus. “The Vietnamese as Operational Target.” Studies in Intelligence 12, no. 4 (1968): 57–71. Originally SECRET—Released in full.

LePage, Jean-Marc and Elie Tenenbaum. “French and American Intelligence  Relations During the First Indochina War, 1950–1954.” Studies in Intelligence 55, no. 3 (2011): 19–27. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Lewis, Anthony Marc. “Re-examining Our Perceptions on Vietnam.” Studies in

Intelligence 17, no. 4 (1973): 1–62. Original SECRET—Released in full.

Linder, James C. “The Fall of Lima Site 85.” Studies in Intelligence 38, no. 4 (1994): 43–52. Originally UNCLASSIFIED and reprinted with updating editor’s  note and new afterword in Studies in Intelligence 59, no. 1 (March 2015).

Mark, David, “The Mayaguez Rescue Operation Revisited.” Studies in Intelligence 23, no. 2 (1979): 29–32. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in full.

Matthias, Willard C. “How Three Estimates Went Wrong.” Studies in Intelligence 12, no. 1 (1968): 27–38. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in part.

Maximov, William J. and Edward Scrutchings. “The Metal Traces Test.” Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 4 (1967): 37–44. Originally CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN—

Released in full.

McCann, Frederic. “Gathering Intelligence in Laos in 1968.” Studies in  Intelligence 49, no. 1 (2005): 27–31. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Palmer, Gen. Bruce. “US Intelligence and Vietnam.” Studies in Intelligence 28, no. 5 (Special Issue, 1984). Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in part.

Petchell, Robert A. “Cash on Delivery.” Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 3 (1973): 1–7. Originally SECRET—Released in part.

Peterson, Gordon I. and David C. Taylor. “A Shield and Sword: Intelligence  Support to Communications with US POWs in Vietnam.” Studies in Intelligence 60, no. 1 (2016): 1–16. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Pribbenow, Merle L. “The Man in the Snow White Cell.” Studies in Intelligence  48, no. 1 (2004): 59–69. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Puchalla, Edward F. “Communist Defense Against Aerial Surveillance in Southeast Asia.” Studies in Intelligence 14, no. 2 (1970): 31–78. Originally  SECRET// NOFORN—Released in full.

Schiattareggia, M. H. “Counterintelligence in Counter-Guerrilla Operations.” Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 3 (1962): 1–24. Originally SECRET—Released in full and reprinted in Studies in Intelligence 57, no. 2 (2013): 39–63.

Schwarzchild, Edward T. “The Assessment of Insurgency.” Studies in Intelligence 7, no. 4 (1963): 85–89. Originally SECRET—Released in full.

Sinclair, Robert, “One Intelligence Analyst Remembers Another: A Review of Who the Hell Are We Fighting?—The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars.” Studies in Intelligence 50, no. 4 (2006): 1–9. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Smith, Russell Jack. “Intelligence Production During the Helms Regime.” Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 4 (1995): 93–102. Originally SECRET—Released in part.

Steinmeyer, Walter. “The Intelligence Role in Counterinsurgency.” Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 4 (1965): 57–63. Originally SECRET—Released in full and reprinted in Studies in Intelligence 59, no. 4 (December 2015). Steinmeyer is a penname for former senior operations officer, Theodore Shackley.

Stockinger, Edwin K. “Five Weeks at Phalane.” Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 1 (1973): 11–19. Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in part.

Swift, Carleton A., Richard D. Kovar, and Russell J. Bowen. “Intelligence in Recent Public Literature: Why Vietnam? Prelude to America’s Albatross.” Studies in Intelligence 25, no. 2 (1981): 99–116. Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Tidwell, William A. “A New Kind of Air Targeting.” Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 1 (1967): 55–60. Originally CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN—Released in full.

Other References:

Hathaway, Robert M. and Russell Jack Smith, Richard Helms as Director of Central Intelligence. Available at:

Robarge, David. John McCone as Director of Central Intelligence, 1961–65.

Available at:  Originally SECRET//NOFORN—Released in part.

———, Archangel: CIA’s Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft. Related documents available at:

Air America: Holding Up the Airman’s Bond. CIA Historical Documents Collection. Available at:

The National Intelligence Council Vietnam Collection of Estimates and Papers.

Available at:

The Vietnam Histories of Thomas L. Ahern, Jr. Available at:

The Collection of Presidential Briefng Products from 1961 to 1969. Available at:

Work published since early 2016

Ahern, Thomas L. “Review Essay: A Great Place to Have a War: America and the Birth of a Military CIA,” Studies in Intelligence 61, No. 4 (2017). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

———. “Review Essay: ‘A Road Not Taken,’ But a Road to Where?” Studies in Intelligence 62, No. 2 (2018). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Bergin, Bob. Ho: The OSS Role in Ho Chi Minh’s Rise to Political Power,” Studies in Intelligence  62, No. 2 (2018). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

———. “The Gordon-Bernard-Tan Group: Three Amateur Spies and the Intelligence Organization They Created in Occupied WWII Indochina,” Studies in Intelligence 63, No. 1 (2019). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Carter, Paul T., “The Secret War in SE Asia: Secret Warriors, Thai Forward Air Guides in the US War in Laos, Studies in Intelligence 64, No. 1 (2020). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

C., Leslie, Review: Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945–75, Studies in Intelligence 63, No. 1 (2019). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Coffey, Thomas G. “Review: Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” Studies in Intelligence 62, No. 1 (2018). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Lau, Raymond. “A CORDS Advisor Remembers: The 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam and the Seizure of Hue,” Studies in Intelligence 61, No. 4 (2017). Originally UNCLASSIFIED>

Rust, William J. “‘No Boy Scout’, CIA Operations Officer Lucien Conein: A Study in Contrasts and Controversy,” Studies in Intelligence 63, No. 4 (2019). Originally UNCLASSIFIED.

Additional information about the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at

The site includes an interactive timeline of war-related events. The timeline includes intelligence events provided by CIA’s History Staff.

Download PDF of complete anthology and introductory essays.