Ahern, Thomas L., Jr.
Click for six previously classified volumes on CIA operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. The works were released at a conference hosted by Texas Tech University's Vietnam Center and Archive.
Ahern, Thomas L., Jr. Vietnam Declassified: The CIA and Counterinsurgency. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.
For Cohen, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2009, this work by a former CIA operations officer is "balanced and well-researched." The author "describes the agency's role in Vietnam. But, like so much history of that war, it barely deals with the Vietnamese; it's all about us. And herein lies the greatest weakness of the COIN literature: It often lacks deep knowledge of the other side."
Goulden, Washington Times, 29 Jan. 2010, notes that Ahern "details the myriad programs aimed at winning the proverbial 'hearts and minds' of the Vietnamese masses. A diligent reader must be excused for feeling at times that he is swimming in a swirling vat of alphabet soup as Mr. Ahern ticks through the various programs and offices." RHT, Parameters 40.1 (Spring 2010), says that "[t]his account of the CIA's role in pacification programs in Vietnam should be required reading for officers and agency representatives participating in counterinsurgency operations."
To Peake, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009) and CIRA Newsletter 35.1 (Spring 2010), "Vietnam Declassified is narrowly focused on operations related to 'the struggle to suppress the Viet Cong and win the loyalty of the peasantry.' ... The story is told from perspective of the CIA officers involved...[,] the insurgents they battled, and the peasants they labored to enpower.... The story is not one of unremitting failure, however. The success of the People's Action Teams (PATs) ... is an example of what could be achieved." In his final chapter, the author "discusses what he believes to have been the fatally flawed assumptions of the war in Southeast Asia."
Archer, Chalmers, Jr. Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces, 1953-1963. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001.
From publisher: This work chronicles the author's "experiences as one of the first members of the U.S. Army's Special Forces. His perspective is unique, not only as one of the first to wear the Green Beret but as a black man in the early days of armed forces integration."
Arnold, James R. Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare From the Philippines to Iraq. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
Cohen, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2009, says that this book "is useful to learn the fundamentals, competently summarizing past counterinsurgency campaigns in the Philippines, Algeria, Malaya and Vietnam, but offering few striking insights. Read it if you want to learn the basics of the American CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) program in Vietnam, for example, or learn who tortured whom in the Battle of Algiers."
1. "The Easter Offensive of 1972: A Failure to Use Intelligence." Military Intelligence 24, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1998): 40-42, 60.
The author concludes that U.S. and South Vietnamese commanders "had prior knowledge of NVA activity in preparation for the attack, but did not use that information to the maximum extent possible."
2. "Warning Intelligence: The Battle of the Bulge and the NVN Easter Offensive." American Intelligence Journal 17, no. 3/4 (1997): 71-79.
The author compares and discusses the role of warning intelligence in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive of 1972. He concludes: "Though the location, numbers and types of forces were not the same, the command assumptions, the weather and the use and misuse of intelligence had almost the same catastrophic effects in both clashes....
"In studies of both campaigns, analysts and historians often cite the failure of intelligence to properly inform and alert the commanders of enemy intentions and capabilities as the chief reason for the successful 'surprise' achieved by the assaults. Upon closer examination, the 'cause' lies elsewhere.... 'It was not intelligence (evaluated information of the enemy) that failed. The failure was the commanders and certain G-2's, who did not act on the intelligence they had,' stated one of Patton's subordinates regarding the Bulge. It could just as easily have been written about Easter offensive of 1972."
Bass, Thomas A. The Spy Who Loved Us: The Vietnam War and Pham Xuan An's Dangerous Game. New York: Public Affairs, 2009.
Peake, Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010) and Intelligencer 18.1 (Fall-Winter 2010), suggests that the author's "obvious political agenda ... raises questions about his objectivity" and "leads to inaccuracies." The reviewer also notes that Larry "Berman [Perfect Spy (2007)] cited sources; Bass for the most part does not, though he names those he interviewed."
Bennett, Donald G. "Spot Report: Intelligence, Vietnam." Military Review 46, no. 8 (1966): 72-77. [Petersen]
Berman, Larry. Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. New York: Collins, 2007.
According to Hampson, AFIO WIN 13-07 (2 Apr. 2007), "the North Vietnamese Communist Party sen[t] Pham Xuan An to California [in 1957] to study journalism." He later worked at the Sacramento Bee, traveled the United States, and returned to South Vietnam as a reporter for Reuters and Time. An was a North Vietnamese agent, "feeding Hanoi with valuable information, some of it classified."
Pribbenow, Washington DeCoded (11 Aug. 2007) and Intelligencer 15.3 (Summer-Fall 2007)], says that this "fascinating new book" makes "a formidable contribution to untangling the twisted skeins of truth and lies that made up the life, and the myth, of a man whom the Vietnamese Communists now proclaim as their most important and productive spy during the Vietnam War's American phase." Nevertheless, "[d]espite the authors conscientious efforts ... much about Pham Xuan An's life still remains shrouded in mystery."
For Peake, Studies 51.4 (2007), the author "tells a remarkable story based on access" to An's "diaries and hours of interviews with An and those that knew him.... Berman has given us a sympathetic but engrossing biography that also says a great deal about North Vietnamese and American intelligence. It is very worth reading." Willbanks, Military Review (May-Jun. 2008), sees the author using "his remarkable access to An to produce a highly readable account of an enigmatic figure who had a significant impact on the outcome of the war in Southeast Asia."
See also, Thomas A. Bass, The Spy Who Loved Us (2009).
Bird, Nancy E. "Vietnam: Lessons for Intelligence in Wartime." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 20, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 317-326.
"Examples from Vietnam ... show how obstacles, then as now, can limit the influence of intelligence in the policymaking process."
Bjelajac, Stavko N. "A Design for Psychological Operations in Vietnam." Orbis 10 (Spring 1966): 126-137.
Bosiljevac, T.L. SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations in Vietnam. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 1990. New York: Ballantine, 1991. [pb]
The publisher bills this as "[t]he definitive book on U.S. Navy SEALs' role in Vietnam.... Sixteen pages of rare photos show SEALs in training, on patrol in VC territory and moving up canals in the Mekong Delta."
Brady, Don [CDR/USN (Ret.)]. "NILO Duty, Military Region One, 1970-71." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 25, no. 1 (Jan. 2009): 41-50.
This is a detailed review of the author's one-year tour of duty as a Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer (NILO), illustrating the range of activities in which those officers were engaged.
Brewin, Bob, and Sydney Shaw. Vietnam on Trial: Westmoreland vs. CBS. New York: Atheneum, 1987.
Katherine Evans, "Declarations of Victory," New York Times, 5 Apr. 1987, calls this work "a determinedly evenhanded account of the trial and the documentary ... that prompted it." The authors report "this drama in comprehensive detail and even add a postscript on what happened afterward."
Brown, Robert K. "The Phantom Navy of the CIA." Sea Classics 8 (May 1975): 50-62. [Petersen]
Browne, Malcolm. "A Reporter Looks Back: The CIA and the Fall of Vietnam." Washington Journalism Review, Jan.-Feb. 1978, 18-19. [Petersen]
Burchett, Wilfred G. The Furtive War: The United States in Vietnam and Laos. New York: International Publishers, 1963.
Clark comment: The author was a pro-communist Australian journalist. As expected, the book portrays the war in Laos from a strongly anti-U.S., anti-CIA slant, a view not per se damning; but Burchett has the nasty habit of bending even well-established facts to fit his particular world view.
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