The Saigon Government claims it now controls 90 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam.?
The Saigon Government claims it now controls 90 percent of the countryside in South Vietnam. The Vietcong denies this and claims that its forces control the major portion of the country.
Whatever the truth, there is no argument over what today is the most hotly-contested part of the country. This is the northernmost Quang Ngai and Quang Tin Provinces, bordering the demilitarised zone.
For years this was a Communist stronghold-until the United States American Division arrived to police the 10,000 square-kilometre region. After many battles, the Americans slowly decimated the Communist forces and took control of more and more land.
Today, in many parts of this northern region, the peasants are back cultivating the land that for years had laid untilled because of war.
This is a result of the pacification work that the American Division has been carrying out. Now, as more and more troops return to the United States, the Americans are handing over responsibility to the South Vietnamese armed and popular forces.
One aspect is the psychological warfare. An old man, familiar with the Communists and their movements, is used to broadcast appeals to them to lay down their arms. Helicopter buzz the area with loudspeakers.
The old man also acts a guide for joint American-South Vietnamese patrols in pinpointing suspected Communist positions. In recent months, despite the American Division's efforts, North Vietnamese units have been infiltrating the two provinces to replace the depleted Vietcong units and harass the Americans.
As the South Vietnamese assume a bigger role, so too do former Vietcong guerrillas. Those who surrendered or deserted are trained by the South Vietnamese to take un arms against their former colleagues.
It will be partly their job to keep the peace in the north of South vietnam when the American Division goes home. And the South vietnamese Government is looking to them and other regional forces to extend the overall area under Saigon's control.