doing, reaffirmed his pledge of full support for the Government of Vietnam.*
While the tensions generated by the Tonkin Gulf incidents never really subsided, the immediate crisis soon passed. Thereafter the American attentions focused once again on South Vietnam where the political and military situation began to deteriorate at an unprecedented rate after midyear. Ironically, this process of accelerated decay coincided with the initiation of a new South Vietnamese pacification strategy designed to prevent just such an occurrence. One aspect of the strategy was the Chicn Tang ("Struggle for Victory") Plan. Announced by General Khanh shortly after his rise to power, this campaign was similar in method and objective to the defunct Strategic Hamlet Program. Like the earlier program, the Chien Tang Plan envisioned the restoration of government influence in selected rural areas through the coordination of military and paramilitary operations with social and economic development programs.** While the Chien Tang campaign was better planned and far less ambitious than the Strategic Hamlet Program, there were definite similarities between the two. The instrument for the social, economic, and political developmental phase of the new effort, for example, was the New Life Hamlet-a variation of the planned government community. Begun in some areas around midyear, the New Life Hamlets were to become the symbol of the new pacification effort in much the same manner that the fortified hamlets had symbolized the earlier Strategic Hamlet Program.
Coincident with the Chien Tang campaign, a similar but locally concentrated pacification effort was instituted in the rural areas around Saigon. Designated the Hop Tac Program, this campaign was conceived in order to link the seven provinces around the capital into a zone of intensive pacification in which closely coordinated military, paramilitary, police, and civil activities would systematically reduce Viet Cong strength. Because of their proximity to the area and their availability, the Vietnamese Marine Brigade and the ARVN Airborne Brigade were assigned primary responsibility for military operations in support of the Hop Tac campaign. By midyear, the Chien Tang and Hop Tac plans emerged as the backbone of General Khanh's strategy to stave off further Communist advances in critical areas of the country.
The development of the government's newest pacification strategy, however, was based on the assumption that the Viet Cong would pursue a campaign to strengthen their control in South Vietnam's populated rural areas. Such was not the case. Instead, at midyear the Communists began waging a brand of warfare characterized by large-scale mobile operations against government military forces. Obviously the enemy had shifted to the "general counter-offensive"-that phase of guerrilla warfare designed to bring on the complete political and military collapse of the opposition.
The new Viet Cong strategy revealed itself in two general geographic areas during the fall months. In Binh Dinh Province on the coast of northern II Corps, two Viet Cong main force regiments staged a series of particularly swift and successful attacks which virtually eliminated the government's presence except in the province capital, Qui Nhon, and a few district towns. In a coordinated offensive the Communists increased pressure throughout that portion of the Central Highlands west of Binh Dinh Province, thereby threatening to sever South Vietnam along an axis that extended roughly between Qui Nhon on the coast and Pleiku in the highlands. Meanwhile, another phase of the new initiative unfolded in III Corps where the government's Hop Tac campaign was just getting underway. There the Communist offensive threatened to neutralize
\*U.S. Marines figured prominently in the crisis which followed the North Vietnamese attacks. A Marine expeditionary brigade, the 9th MEB, was activated from elements of the 3d Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and deployed on board amphibious shipping to a position off Da Nang where it was available to support U.S. contingency plans. Its commander, Brigadier General Raymond G. Davis, and his staff attended planning conferences in Da Nang and reconnoitered possible landing sites near the city, but the MEB was not committed. Instead, the organization remained in existence throughout the remainder of 1964 and into early 1965 when, in March, two of its battalions were landed at Da Nang. The formation and subsequent commitment of the 9th MEB in the Republic of Vietnam are covered in detail in the 1965 history of U.S. Marine operations in the Republic of Vietnam.
**Motivated at least partially by the requirement to provide better support for the pacification strategy, the Vietnamese government restructured its paramilitary forces in the spring of 1964. The old Self Defense Corps was expanded dramatically and renamed the Popular Force (PF). The Civil Guard was reorganized and designated the Regional Force (RF). More importantly, the RVNAF extended its control over both paramilitary organizations for the first time since their creation