- Oct 24, 2013View Source
At the time of the 8 October 1970 briefing, new SR-71 imagery of Son Tay revealed very little camp activity and no sign of POWs. Although the raiding force was mission-ready by 7 October, execution was now on hold as the final political and intelligence drama played out in Washington. Word arrived via peace activist intermediaries that six POWs had died while in captivity in North Vietnam.
"Buffalo Hunter" unmanned reconnaissance drones
Name given to US reconnaissance drones flown over North Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s to collect tactical intelligence and strategic intelligence. These unmanned aircraft were launched from airborne DC-130 Hercules cargo aircraft that remained over friendly territory; after their photo flight, the drones flew back to a location where they could be landed and have their film recovered; drones were reusable.
At the peak of the Buffalo Hunter operations, the drones made 30 to 40 flights per month over North Vietnam and adjacent areas of Indochina controlled by communist forces.
Although seven "Buffalo Hunter" unmanned reconnaissance drones were flown at treetop level to take photos of the Son Tay prison between early September and late October 1970, not a single drone actually succeeded in flying over the facility,
The mission leader, Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons and 22 men, landed the largest part of the strike force——at the “Secondary School” 400 meters south of the main Son Tay compound. The raiders encountered minimal resistance at the Son Tay compound itself, but Simons and the men at the Secondary School found themselves engaged in a firefight with soldiers who were “much taller than Orientals and not wearing normal NVA [North Vietnamese Army] dress.” Simons and his men had stumbled on a major force of Chinese or Russian advisors a mere 400 meters from the prison; the Americans decimated more than 100 occupants of the Secondary School.
The SF Rescue team returned from the mission with the Russian-made fire control equipment. ...
US Army General Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), approved a plan to rescue the POWs at Son Tay. On June 10, 1970 a 15-man group led by 53-year-old Army Brig. Gen. Donald D. Blackburn, the special assistant to General Wheeler for counterinsurgency and special activities, began the planning stage of the operation. This initial phase of the rescue attempt was dubbed "Polar Circle."
Further reconnaissance of the area around Son Tay revealed some troublesome aspects of the proposed raid. First, the headquarters of the Twelfth North Vietnamese Army (NVA), totaling 12,000 troops, was located close by. Second, an artillery training school, a supply depot and an air defense installation were also in close proximity to the prison. Third, about 500 yards south of Son Tay was a compound known as the "secondary school," which was used as an administrative center for the guards. Lastly, the Phuc Yen Air Base was only 20 miles northeast of the compound. It was clear that a raid would have to be accomplished very quickly because the enemy could muster reinforcements to Son Tay in a matter of minutes.
US Navy launched a diversionary force on time with a total of 59 sorties. As the primary force reached the Laos/North Vietnam border, the enemy radar's became aware of the Navy force coming from over the Tonkin Gulf. The diversionary raid was having the desired effects. The presence of the Navy on enemy radar caused near panic conditions within the North Vietnamese defense centers. It became obvious that the North Vietnamese total concern was directed eastward. Our raiding force, coming from the west, in effect had a free ride.
Apple 1", piloted by LTC Warner A. Britton, was having troubles of its own. The chopper had veered off the mark and was 450 meters south of the prison and had erroneously landed at the "secondary school."
Ten F-4s had taken off from Ubon to provide a MIG air patrol and five F-105G Wild Weasels had launched from Korat to provide protection from the SAM sites. The F-4s and F-105Gs would be flying at a high altitude providing cover over the general area and would not interfere in any way with the primary force.
From August 8, 1970 to November 21, 1970, Brigadier General Leroy J. Manor, served as Commander of a joint task force whose mission was to search for and rescue United States military personnel held as prisoners of war at Son Tay, North Vietnam. The preliminary planning phase of the operation was given the codename "Polar Circle", the operational and organizational phase was named “Operation Ivory Coast”, and the actual assault on the camp was codenamed "Operation Kingpin". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leroy_J._Manor
Soviet advisors in Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union provided technical and material assistance to its North Vietnamese ally. The Soviets sent air defense equipment and personnel to equip and train the North Vietnamese. Experienced Soviet Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel were sent to train and repair MiG aircraft flown by the North Vietnamese and to provide advice and assistance to North Vietnamese anti-air defense forces that were shooting down American combat aircraft with Soviet missile equipment.
About four years ago, the U.S. side began to gather evidence that Soviet officials directly interrogated American POWs in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. This project examined information from three primary sources: the testimony of former American POWs; the testimony of Soviet veterans of the Vietnam War who had knowledge of direct Soviet participation in POW interrogation; and U.S. Intelligence Community reports that suggest the Soviets sought or obtained direct access to American POWs for interrogation. The research conducted in support of this project shows that Soviet officials participated in interrogation of American POWs and received interrogation reports from the North Vietnamese. It is reasonable to assume that Soviet military officials generated these reports in North Vietnam and forwarded them to Moscow for processing. These interrogation reports should be available today in Russian archives [probably those of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and the Committee for State Security (KGB)] and might contribute to clarifying the fates of unaccounted-for Americans. For this reason, the U.S. side seeks access to these materials.
Early in the Vietnam War, a Soviet special group, composed of GRU officers and employees from various Soviet military industrial organizations, was deployed to North Vietnam to acquire captured American combat equipment and to arrange for shipment of this equipment to the Soviet Union for technical exploitation. Although the U.S. has no interest in the classified aspects of this program, Soviet special group members and technicians may be able to provide new details about shoot-down incidents in North Vietnam. For instance, in 1992, representatives of Task Force Russia (the predecessor of JCSD) discovered an F-111 crew capsule at the Moscow Aviation Institute. With assistance from FBI experts, Task Force Russia analysts correlated the capsule to a specific shoot-down incident. While the crew that was flying this particular F-111 is accounted for, discovery of the capsule in a Russian facility demonstrates the potential that American combat equipment now held by the Russians might provide clues to the fates of crew members who did not return. Archival records documenting the Soviet special group’s work might also provide valuable information about American loss incidents during the war. The U.S. side has pressed the Russian side repeatedly for access to these archival materials and for interviews with Soviet special group members and continues to press for more information. The Russian side has expressed a willingness to assist the U.S. side in locating Soviet special group members but has yet to fulfill this promise. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=49353
While I was in Vietnam in Military Intelligence we did look into these kind of matters. As far as we could judge there were USSR and other Warsaw Pact military in North Vietnam as advisors but none ever crossed into South Vietnam. They may have been in Laos and Cambodia as well but none were ever captured or bodies found in foreign uniforms.
There were definitely ethnic Chinese found as KIA and captured in South Vietnam. The problem you get into there is determining whether they were either North Vietnamese or communist China citizens. There is a large number of ethnic Chinese who lived in and were citizens of both, North and South Vietnam. We believe we did capture a couple of Chicoms and killed several more, but they were very small in number and worked in advisory roles. Certainly there were no active Chicom military units involved in active participation. http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=49353
What most did not know was that a top-secret "weather modification" experiment named Operation Popeye was responsible for some of the inclement weather.
Aircraft had been dropping "cloud-seeding paraphernalia" in the region, and the missions over Laos had doubled in 1970.
"Why didn't top officials in the CIA and Air Force tell the JCS and the Ivory Coast Task Force about Operation Popeye?" wrote Dale Andrade. "That gap in the knowledge of the planners could have endangered not only the live POWs in the area, but also the lives of the raiders
Humping the boonies by dangling the bait
Ninety-five percent of combat units were search-and-destroy units. Their mission was to go out into the jungle, hit bases and supply areas, flush out NLF troops and engage them in battle. If the NLF fought back, helicopters would fly in to prevent retreat and unleash massive firepower–bullets, bombs, missiles. The National Liberation Front (NLF) would attempt to avoid this, and battle generally only occurred if the search-and-destroy missions were ambushed. Ground troops became the live bait for the ambush and firefight. GIs referred to search and destroy as "humping the boonies by dangling the bait."
In Vietnam in 1968, only 14 percent (or 80,000) were combat troops. In 1968, 14,592 men were killed –18 percent of combat troops. An additional 35,000 had serious wounds that required hospitalization. High school dropouts were three times more likely to be sent to combat units that did the fighting and took the casualties. Combat infantry soldiers, "the grunts," were entirely working class. They included a disproportionate number of Black working-class troops. Blacks, who formed 12 percent of the troops, were often 25 percent or more of the combat units.
Hostility to search-and-destroy missions took the form of covert combat avoidance, called "sandbagging" by the grunts. A platoon sent out to "hump the boonies" might look for a safe cover from which to file fabricated reports of imaginary activity.
After Tet, there was a massive shift from combat avoidance to mutiny. One Pentagon official reflected that "mutiny became so common that the army was forced to disguise its frequency by talking instead of `combat refusal.'" Combat refusal, one commentator observed, "resembled a strike and occurred when GIs refused, disobeyed, or negotiated an order into combat."
Acts of mutiny took place on a scale previously only encountered in revolutions. The first mutinies in 1968 were unit and platoon-level rejections of the order to fight. The army recorded 68 such mutinies that year. By 1970, in the 1st Air Cavalry Division alone, there were 35 acts of combat refusal. One military study concluded that combat refusal was "unlike mutinous outbreaks of the past, which were usually sporadic, short-lived events. The progressive unwillingness of American soldiers to fight to the point of open disobedience took place over a four-year period between 1968-71."
The 1968 combat refusals of individual units expanded to involve whole companies by the next year. The first reported mass mutiny was in the 196th Light Brigade in August 1969. Company A of the 3rd Battalion, down to 60 men from its original 150, had been pushing through Songchang Valley under heavy fire for five days when it refused an order to advance down a perilous mountain slope. "It was an organized strike…A shaken brass relieved the company commander…but they did not charge the guys with anything.
Mass insubordination was not punished by an officer corps that lived in fear of its own men.
When Cambodia was invaded in 1970, soldiers from Fire Base Washington conducted a sit-in. They told Up Against the Bulkhead, "We have no business there…we just sat down. Then they promised us we wouldn't have to go to Cambodia ." Within a week, there were two additional mutinies, as men from the 4th and 8th Infantry refused to board helicopters to Cambodia .
A new slang term arose to celebrate the execution of officers: fragging. The word came from the fragmentation grenade, which was the weapon of choice because the evidence was destroyed in the act. In every war, troops kill officers whose incompetence or recklessness threatens the lives of their men. But only in Vietnam did this become pervasive in combat situations and widespread in rear base camps. It was the most well-known aspect of the class struggle inside the army, directed not just at intolerable officers, but at "lifers" as a class.
The army reported 126 fraggings in 1969, 271 in 1970 and 333 in 1971, when they stopped keeping count. Some military estimates are that fraggings occurred at five times the official rate, while officers of the Judge Advocate General Corps believed that only 10 percent of fraggings were reported. These figures do not include officers who were shot in the back by their men and listed as wounded or killed in action.
The motive for most fraggings was not revenge, but to change battle conduct. For this reason, officers were usually warned prior to fraggings. First, a smoke grenade would be left near their beds. Those who did not respond would find a tear-gas grenade or a grenade pin on their bed as a gentle reminder. Finally, the lethal grenade was tossed into the bed of sleeping, inflexible officers. Officers understood the warnings and usually complied, becoming captive to the demands of their men. It was the most practical means of cracking army discipline. In Vietnam it was a truism that "everyone was the enemy": for the lifers, every enlisted man was the enemy. "In parts of Vietnam fragging stirs more fear among officers and NCOs than does the war with `Charlie.'"
In October 1971, military police air assaulted the Praline mountain signal site to protect an officer who had been the target of repeated fragging attempts. The base was occupied for a week before command was restored.
By 1970, "many commanders no longer trusted Blacks or radical whites with weapons except on guard duty or in combat." In the American Division, fragmentation grenades were not given to troops. In the 440 Signal Battalion, the colonel refused to distribute all arms. As a soldier at Cu Chi told the New York Times, "The American garrisons on the larger bases are virtually disarmed.
In 1970, U.S. combat deaths were down by more than 70 percent (to 3,946) from the 1968 high of more than 14,000.
Colonel Heinl reported this: That 'search-and-evade' has not gone unnoticed by the enemy is underscored by the Viet Cong delegation's recent statement at the Paris Peace Talks that Communist units in Indochina have been ordered not to engage American units which do not molest them. The same statement boasted–not without foundation in fact–that American defectors are in the VC ranks.
Some officers joined, or led their men, in the unofficial cease-fire from below. A U.S. army colonel claimed: I had influence over an entire province. I put my men to work helping with the harvest. They put up buildings. Once the NVA understood what I was doing, they eased up. I'm talking to you about a de facto truce, you understand. The war stopped in most of the province. It's the kind of history that doesn't get recorded. Few people even know it happened, and no one will ever admit that it happened.
Army stores (PXs) were importing French perfumes and other luxury goods for the officers to sell on the black market for personal gain. But the black market extended far beyond luxury goods: "The Viet Cong received a large percentage of their supplies from the United States via the underground routes of the black market: kerosene, sheet metal, oil, gasoline engines, claymore mines, hand grenades, rifles, bags of cement," which were publicly sold at open, outdoor black markets.
As the NLF expanded their areas of control, it became increasingly difficult for the landlords to collect rents. They therefore struck a fateful bargain with their South Vietnamese government: the army would collect the peasants' rent in return for a 30 percent cut, which was to be split three ways between the government, the officers and the troops. Rent collection became more important to the army than fighting. The corrupt South Vietnamese government and its army were little more than tax collectors for the landlords.. The war was fought by NLF troops and peasant auxiliaries who worked the land during the day and fought as soldiers at night. They would attack ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and American troops and bases or set mines at night, and then disappear back into the countryside during the day.
(Soldiers in Revolt, by David Cortright http://www.citizen-soldier.org/cortright.html)
"In 1969 Michael Hand, a former Green Beret and one of the CIA agents stationed at Long Cheng when Air America was shipping opium, moved to Australia, ostensibly as a private citizen, but he more likely was a CIA contract special forces guy. On arriving in Australia, Hand entered into a business partnership with an Australian national, Frank Nugan. In 1973 they established the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney (Commonwealth of New South Wales.. The Nugan Hand Bank began as a storefront operation with minimal capital investment, but almost immediately it boasted deposits of over $25 million. The rapid growth of the bank resulted from large deposits of secret funds made by narcotics and arms smugglers and large deposits from the CIA (Nihill, 1982).
On the board of directors of the parent company formed by Michael Hand that preceded the Nugan Hand Bank were Grant Walters, Robert Peterson, David M. Houton, and Spencer Smith, all of whom listed their address as c/o Air America, Army Post Office, San Francisco, California.
Now I need to go back in history a few years and tell you about the development of the shadow CIA and the start of their secret drug money laundering bank, the Nugan Hand bank.
Connections and leverage in the world of drugs and weapons allows these CIA guys within the agency and like minded military officers to act outside the confines of laws to influence the futures of countries in the process of defining themselves. I discuss this in my chapter about The development of the Shadow CIA – laundering drug trafficking profits.
The key to the truth can be seen by noting the large number of one and two-star, retired generals, former OSS officers, and CIA officers who were all previously running US covert war in Burma, Laos, and Thailand. The Nugan Hand bank was founded in 1973 and began operations with 30% of the stock held by Australasian and Pacific Holdings (Chase Manhattan Bank), 25% by CIA's front airlines, Air America, 25% by South Pacific Properties and 20% held by Bob Seldon, Nugan and Hand.
The officers in this bank were:
Brigadier General Erle Cocke Jr. (president of the Wash. D.C. branch),
Admiral Earl F. Yates, (president of the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney, Australia),
Lieutenant General Leroy J. Manor (manager of the Manila Philippine branch),
Brigadier General Edwin F. Black (president of Hawaii branch),
Major General Richard Secord (had a bank account in Nugan Hand)
Walter McDonald retired CIA deputy director for economic research ... became head of the Secret Intelligence Branch of the OSS in Europe. (headed Annapolis branch);
Bernie Houghton (opened a branch in Hong Kong)
Theodore “Ted” Shackley (from 1966 he was involvement in opium trafficking in Laos, South Vietnam and between Feb.1972-75 he was the CIA station chief in Australia.
Major General John Singlaub (remained on active duty),
Brigadier General Harry C. (Heinie) Aderholt,
The US Senate held an investigation into Nugan Hand's operations. It discovered that the bank operated a branch in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Erle Cocke Jr. (president Wash. D.C. branch of Nugan Hand bank); Brigadier General in the Georgia National Guard. (it is alleged the he was a front man for Paul Helliwell)
As a result of IRS Operation Trade Winds in the 1970s, it was discovered that a "Richard M. Nixon" (not otherwise identified) had an account at Helliwell's Castle Bank. Operaton Trade Winds was an IRS investigation into money-laundering banks.
IRS investigator Richard Jaffe, arrested marijuana and LSD dealer Allan George Palmer, and he traced Palmer’s drug trafficking profits money and the that the funds had been deposited in the account of a Bahamian entity called Castle Bank. According to Jim Drinkhall in the Wall Street Journal, this bank was "set up and principally controlled" by Helliwell, who "was instrumental in helping to direct a network of CIA undercover operations and `proprietaries (front companies).'" Drinkhall wrote that the CIA shut down Jaffe's investigation of the Castle Bank because Castle was the conduit for millions of dollars earmarked by the CIA for the funding of clandestine operations against Cuba and for other covert intelligence operations directed at countries in Latin America and the Far East. http://www.theantechamber.net/index.htm#cs
Resorts International was part of the global CIA-mob connection. According to a 1976 CIA memorandum included in its Meyer Lansky Security file. Wallace Groves was secretly working for the CIA from 1965 to 1972 and worked with Paul Helliwell. He was the founder of Intercontinental and holder of 46% of its shares until he sold his interest for $33.1 million in 1978.
Resorts International, Inc. is the subject of the CIA's Office of Security [file #591 722]. This file reflects that Resorts International, Inc. was of interest to the CIA's Cover and Commercial Staff, DDO [Operations Directorate] in 1972 and 1973. In other words it was a CIA front company.
As the same CIA memo makes clear, this was after a 1969 book, The Grim Reapers by Ed Reid, had exposed the company's connections to Wallace Groves and, through its casino manager Eddie Cellini, to what the CIA memo called "the gambling activities of the organized crime boss Meyer Lansky. The Wallace Groves, mentioned in the attachments as being connected with Meyer Lansky and the Mary Carter Paint Co./Resorts International, Inc.
Cocke, was involved in Project Hammer and stated this operations was “to bring back monies to the United States from all types of activities, both legitimately and illegitimately. Not that they were in the smuggling business per se, but they were all in the arms business. These businesses were all retracing dollars of one description or another that had accumulated all through the ’40s and ’50s.”
The sanctioned purpose of Project Hammer was the "repatriating" valuable plundered assets by the US during wartime. The OSS --the wartime began recovering the bullion plundered from a dozen or so nations. A vast horde of gold and lesser quantities of platinum plus not inconsiderable amounts of loose gemstones found its way to the Philippines where it found by the US. The assets had been grabbed by the Nazis and the Japanese during World War II.
Project Hammer also stands out because proceeds from the trading activity were illegally diverted by major banks. The banks that diverted this money were too powerful for any agency of the US government to tackle. It also helped that suitable and substantial "incentives" were provided to former high-level Bush (Sr) Administration figures to bring their influence to bear quietly to ensure that action against the banks was not taken.
Although not part of the sanctioned plan for Project Hammer --which was to generate funds to pay off debts on bullion certificates issued by certain metal trusts-- the funds were siphoned off surreptitiously in order to rescue numerous major US and other banks that by the latter half of the 1980s were tottering on the brink of bankruptcy. Reckless lending by these banks to Third World nations for over a decade or more, combined with the raw greed of senior bank executives, had caused unparalleled damage to the world’s banking system. The inability of indebted Third World nations to repay their massive debts could have been --in fact, was-- foreseen, but was ignored. Some of the funds on loan to find their way into the private bank accounts of corrupt state officials --"diversions" that were known about in the boardrooms of the top banks, but ignored as "business as usual".
By the end of the 1980s, big banks including Citibank, Chase Manhattan, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), England’s Midland Bank and many, many others were in dire straits. In all but name, they were bankrupt. The possibility of a prolonged series of collapses of the world’s top banks --a sort of "domino theory" of finance-- was regarded in some quarters with palpable fear. The entire Western banking system was rocking.
Somewhere, someone --nobody knows who (or at least no one is saying)-- took the decision to bail out the banks and save the banking system by diverting Project Hammer funds for this purpose. Those banking executives who caused the problem in the first place weren’t confronted by their mistakes or held to account by their shareholders but, instead, continued to collect their million-dollar pay checks, boost their bonus payments and profit shares, flick ash off their Cuban cigars, quaff bottles of expensive Cheval Blanc and slap each other on the back in delighted relief.
One of those sighing relief was almost certainly Citibank’s John Reed. Another one quite likely to have been cultivating a quiet exhalation was Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank boss Sir William Purvis.
Beginning in 1988 and lasting until approximately 1992, "Project Hammer" was the latest in a series of highly secretive banking practices --known as "collateral trading" programs-- that are used to create, as if by magic, huge amounts of unaccountable funds for use in specific projects.
These vast pools of un-vouchered slush funds are applied to finance a wide variety of clandestine activities that include: secret military projects, geo-political requirements, and development of infrastructure projects.
Cocke was an experienced banker from a long line of bankers and was a former full-time US
representative to the World Bank. Intimately familiar with the operational techniques of trading programs, http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_fed05c.htm