The Accelerated Pacification Plan
With the petering out of the last phase of the enemy "Tet" offensive from August into October, the allies began to take the offensive in pacification operations. Claiming that they had reached the goals of Operation Recovery, MACV, CORDS, and the South Vietnamese inaugurated a new campaign, called Le Lot in Vietnamese and the Acceleration Pacification Campaign in English. The campaign was to last from November through January 1969. Country-wide it had five objectives: to upgrade at least 1,000 contested villages to relatively secure ratings on the Hamlet Evaluation Scale; to disrupt the Viet Cong command and control system by identifying and capturing if possible 3,000 members of the infrastructure for the next three months; to set a goal of 5,000 Hoi Chanhs a month under the Chieu Hoi Program; to continue the organization and arming of the South Vietnamese Self Defense units; and finally to mount a propaganda campaign to the effect that the Government of Vietnam "has seized the initiative and is moving rapidly toward the end of the war." Each Corps area was given its quota in this multi-faceted effort."?
By the end of the year, the Accelerated Pacification Campaign was in high gear in I Corps. Both the 1st Marine and 3d Marine Divisions as well as the Army and ARVN regular units had launched supporting operations using cordon and County Fair techniques to eradicate both enemy regular units and the guerrilla infrastructure in their assigned areas.* In each of the categories of the campaign, the allies had made substantial progress. During November and December, the allied forces had entered all of the 140 hamlets targeted in I Corps. According to Marine Corps measurements the number of government controlled hamlets had risen from 47 on 31 October to 116 on 31 December. A corresponding decrease had occurred both in contested and Viet Cong-controlled hamlets. By 31 December, the number of contested hamlets fell from 73 on 31 October to 46 on 31 December while Viet Cong-controlled hamlets fell from 48 on 31 October to six on 31 December. In other categories of the campaign in I Corps similar progress was shown. For the year, 3,118 former VC had come over to the government side as Hoi Chanhs, 4,000 VC infrastructure were "neutralized" under the Phoenix program, close to 225,000 civilians were organized in Peoples Self Defense Organization, and nearly 70 percent of the population of I Corps lived in what was considered secure areas. Enemy-initiated attacks in December fell to the lowest level in over two years. In an obvious change of strategy, probably because of the heavy casualty rate suffered in their various offensives, the Communists reverted to a low-level war. Despite this seeming progress and some guarded optimism on the part of the allies, the enemy remained a formidable foe.114
*See Chapters 21 and 22 and especially the description of Operation Meade River in Chapter 21.