December 2

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Dec 2, 1963:

South Vietnamese leaders order a temporary halt to the strategic hamlet program

The military junta, which took control of the South Vietnamese government following the November coup that resulted in the death of President Ngo Dinh Diem, orders a temporary halt to the strategic hamlet program.

This program had been initiated in March 1962 by Diem to gather the peasants residing in areas threatened by guerrilla attack into centralized locations. These locations were to be turned into defensive fortified hamlets. The strategic hamlet program was extremely unpopular because the farmers were forcibly removed from their land and the physical security of the new hamlets was inadequate. In addition, the program was a drain on the assets of the Saigon government.

The junta leaders hoped to win the support of the people by relaxing the rules governing the strategic hamlets. Under the new edict, peasants were not to be coerced into moving into or contributing to the financial upkeep of the hamlets. This tactic did not have any real impact, because the program had already fallen into such disrepair--the senior U.S. representative in Long An Province reported that three-quarters of the strategic hamlets in that area had already been destroyed by the Viet Cong, the peasants, or a combination of both. Ultimately, the South Vietnamese government completely abandoned the program in 1964.

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