A Look Back in History: U.S. Intelligence from the Vietnam War

Background: The document below, titled, "Rung Sat Special Zone," is a Vietnam War era, U.S. military intelligence study of a swampy piece of ground east of Saigon that was a popular area of operations of the Viet Cong (VC). In Vietnamese, Rung Sat means, "Forest of the Assassins." During different times of the war, it was a hotbed of enemy activity and a concern to Military Assistance Command-Vietnam, because of its proximity to Saigon.

As an historical aside, this document is not unlike the intelligence reports JICPOA produced during WW II. Most intelligence reports, no matter what country they originate from, include the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of their subject material. But unlike JICPOA’s information bulletins that helped operations planners design assaults on Japanese island bases, the Rung Sat document was more like JICPOA’s "Know Your Enemy" series that described Japanese activities to support the fleet’s operational knowledge of the battlespace.

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Document Summary: Pages 1-6 discuss the geography and history of the Rung Sat. The historical section is brief but telling, and it describes the independent sects and gangs throughout history that used to inhabit the area. It moreover mentions French riverine operations along the region’s countless rivers and swamps and how the Viet Cong infiltrated and organized the Rung Sat as "Sub Region K-4."

Pages 6-15 discuss the history and order of battle of both VC and NVA forces in the Rung Sat. It further details the VC’s several missions in the region, such as waterway interdiction, harassment, and establishing safe havens for communist combatants. Within these parameters, "Rung Sat Special Zone" describes VC strengths, weaknesses, and probable courses of action.

Page 16 begins a series of tables and statistics on the Rung Sat’s socio-economic disposition and infrastructure, such as the names and populations of villages and hamlets, the breadth of regional communications facilities, the locations of airstrips, and the strength of South Vietnamese military and police forces.

The report concludes on pages 27 and 28 with wire diagrams of communist forces in the Rung Sat.

Rung Sat map

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Rung Sat Map.

Rung Sat photo 2004

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The Rung Sat Special Zone, 2004.
The Eastern Sea/South China Sea is in the background, and the fringes of Saigon are in the foreground.



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