The Secret War Against Hanoi: The Untold Story of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam

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9780060932534: The Secret War Against Hanoi: The Untold Story of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam

In 1963, a frustrated President Kennedy turned to the Pentagon for help in carrying out subversive operations against North Vietnam- a job the CIA had not managed to handle effectively. Thus was born the Pentagon's Special Operations Group(SOG). Under the cover name"Studies and Observation Group," SOG would, over the next eight years, dispatch numerous spies to North Vietnam, create a triple-cross deception program, wage psychological warfare by manipulating North Vietnamese POW's and kidnapped citizens, and stage deadly assaults on enemy soldiers traveling the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Written by the country's leading expert on SOG, here is the story of that covert war-one that would have both spectacular and disastrous results.

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The Secret War Against Hanoi documents American covert actions in Vietnam, beginning in 1961 when John F. Kennedy decided that if Hanoi could wage a guerilla war against the South, the U.S. could do the same in the North. Dissatisfied with the CIA's initial results, Kennedy passed responsibility for covert operations to the Pentagon--which never fully supported them. For example, in an interview for this book, General Westmoreland, Commander of American forces in Vietnam, vastly underestimated the imaginative ways in which underground activities could destabilize an enemy. American covert action focused on disrupting two vital "centers of gravity": the North's own internal stability and the Ho Chi Minh Trail that ran through Laos and Cambodia. Such activities ran counter to the Geneva Accords, however, and nervous diplomats placed them under severe constraints. Permission always had to be obtained from the top, which after 1964 meant an excessively cautious President Johnson, concerned that China would be goaded into intervening openly in Vietnam as it had in Korea. The creative thinking that went into America's secret exploits reads like a racy novel, from the adroit brainwashing and release of captured fishermen to the fabrication of a phantom secret society based on a 15th-century anti-Chinese hero, plus innumerable nasty booby traps. Author Richard H. Shultz has had unusual access to prominent protagonists and to thousands of classified documents made available only to him while he researched this book. The Secret War Against Hanoi clearly lays out what was achieved and what might have been achieved by covert action in Vietnam, ending with a thoughtful analysis of lessons learned for future politicians and operatives in a post-cold war world. --John Stevenson

About the Author:

Richard H. Shultz, Jr., is the director of the International Security Studies Program and associate professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He has been Olin Distinguished Professor of National Security Studies, U.S. Military Academy; Secretary of the Navy Senior Research Fellow, U.S. Naval War College; and Research Fellow, Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University. His books include The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Warfare.

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