November 29

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Nov 29, 1968:

Communists vow to smash Phoenix program

The Viet Cong High Command orders an all-out attempt to smash the Phoenix program. Hanoi Radio broadcasted a National Liberation Front directive calling for a new offensive to "utterly destroy" Allied forces. The broadcast added that the new operation was particularly concerned with eliminating the "Phoenix Organization." The Phoenix program (or "Phuong Hoang" as it was called in Vietnamese) was a hamlet security initiative run by the Central Intelligence Agency that relied on centralized, computerized intelligence gathering aimed at identifying and eliminating the Viet Cong infrastructure--the upper echelon of the National Liberation Front political cadres and party members.

The program became one of the most controversial operations undertaken by U.S. personnel in South Vietnam. Critics charged that American-led South Vietnamese "hit teams" indiscriminately arrested and murdered many communist suspects on flimsy pretexts. Despite the criticism and media attention, the program was acknowledged by top-level U.S. government officials, as well as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders after the war, to have been very effective in reducing the power of the local communist cadres in the South Vietnamese countryside.

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