COUNTER-INSURGENCY STRATEGY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA:
THE CASES OF MALAYA AND VIETNAM, 1948-1963
Scot D. Bruce
B.A., Taylor University, 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
2000 by Scot D. Bruce
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Scot David Bruce
has been approved
Bruce, Scot D. (M.A., History)
Counter-insurgency Strategy in Southeast Asia: The Cases of Malaya and Vietnam,
Thesis directed by Professor James Whiteside
My purpose in this research is to provide a case study of the counter-
insurgency strategies in Malaya and Vietnam spanning the years from 1948 through
1963. Malaya exists as perhaps the lone success story in an era of counter-
insurgency in Southeast Asia. Subsequently, this thesis provides a detailed analysis
of the various tactics, both political and military, employed by the Malayan
Federation government, as well as by British strategists, in their war against the
communist, insurgents from 1948 through 1960. At the time, there were multiple
ethnic groups living on the Malay Peninsula, most notably the indigenous Malays,
Chinese-Malayans, Indian emigres, and a sparse population of British administrators
and planters. These ethnic groups lived in purposeful isolation from one another.
Accordingly, I integrate these factors into the analysis.
I also posit the existence of a direct correlation between the Malayan
Emergency and the American counter-insurgency policy in Vietnam. There are
numerous similarities (and differences) between the insurgent movements of both
countries. United States policymakers intently followed developments in Malaya
during the insurrection; thus, U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine in Vietnam is directly
linked to the British experience in Malaya. However, U.S. policy in Vietnam was
largely unsuccessful by comparison. I trace the origins of U.S. counter-insurgency in
Vietnam back to 1954, after the French defeat at Dienbienphu. Hence, I analyze the
inherent flaws, in both theory and application, of the American counter-insurgency
policy as it relates to Vietnam from 1954 through 1963.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I dedicate this thesis to my wife, Jennifer, for her unfaltering understanding and
support while I was writing this.
My thanks to the faculty of the History Department for imparting their wisdom and
especially to my advisor for his numerous efforts on my behalf over the past two
1. THE SETTING....................................6
2. COMMUNISM, CHIN PENG & THE ORIGINS OF INSURGENCY... 16
3. PHASE ONE: DEFENSIVE, 1948-1951...............27
4. PHASE TWO: OFFENSIVE & VICTORY, 1952-1960.... 37
5. U.S. COUNTER-INSURGENCY IN VIETNAM, 1954-1963.47
Limited historical research currently exists involving the State of Emergency
in the British Federation of Malaya from 1948 through 1960. It is important to note,
however, that the circumstances surrounding this affair did have an enormous impact
on the stability of international relations in Southeast Asia during the formative years
of the Cold War era. Moreover, British strategies in Malaya directly influenced the
eventual U.S. counter-insurgency policies in Vietnam beginning in 1954.
The upheaval brought on by the communist insurgency in Malaya arose at a
most inopportune time. During these years, Malayan leaders were attempting to
negotiate the obstacles of the newly formed Federation government. In light of their
relationship with Great Britain, and given the difficult aspects of governing the
culturally diverse Malayan society, the new Malayan government leaders requested
various modes of support from their British benefactors. These ranged from political
strategies to forms of military aid. However, even with the British government
active in a supporting role, the fight against the communist insurgents in Malaya was
an arduous process.
The Malayan Communist Party (MCP) utilized myriad forms of political
propaganda in its bid to overthrow the parliamentary system in hopes of establishing
a communist government in Malaya. These political strategies were furthered by the
use of guerilla warfare tactics carried out by the military arm of the MCP known as
the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA). During the conflict, the British and
their allies ordinarily referred to the MRLA forces as communist terrorists, or CTs.
The guerilla tactics of the CTs were intended to hinder the joint British/Malayan
response strategy by forcing the government to commit to military operations.
My purpose in this research is to use the British experience in Malaya as a
case study of successful counter-insurgency strategy. Malaya exists as perhaps the
lone success story in an era of counter-insurgency in Southeast Asia. This thesis
provides a detailed analysis of the various tactics, both political and military,
employed by the Malayan Federation government, as well as by British strategists, in
their war against the communist insurgents. Numerous sociological factors
influenced the outcome. At the time, there were multiple ethnic groups living on the
Malay Peninsula, most notably the indigenous Malays, Chinese-Malayans, Indian
emigres, and a sparse population of British administrators and planters. Tension
between these ethnic groups was a factor in the outbreak of hostilities. Accordingly,
I integrate these elements into the analysis.
The era of counter-insurgency in Southeast Asia involved the suppression or
the attempted suppression of several communist insurgent movements in Malaya,
Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The existence of these insurgent movements suggests
that communist ideology had a certain appeal to many in the region. However, anti-
communist sentiments were equally prominent in various Southeast Asian countries
during the highly charged atmosphere of the early Cold War era. There can be little
doubt that rabid anti-communism drove the American and British counter-insurgency
campaigns. Furthermore, many indigenous Malays and Vietnamese supported such
efforts. Hence, though communism certainly had its supporters, clearly, many in
contemporary Southeast Asia were just as adamantly opposed to it. This fact is aptly
illustrated by a Vietnamese adage of the 1950s, which reads:
The only person who really understands communism is the communist who
understands too late just, in fact, as he is about to be disemboweled,
garroted or, more mercifully, shot by his former comrades. His crime may
have been revisionism, deviationism, suspected treachery, or one of many
others which rate a summary death penalty for those who are engaged in a
Peoples Revolutionary War and become disillusioned with the cause or plain
exhausted with the protracted struggle.1
Nonetheless, large portions of the contemporary Southeast Asia population were, at
the very least, intrigued by communism. Hence, in order to clarify my account of the
Malayan insurgency, I devote a portion of my analysis to a discussion of why this
I posit the existence of a direct correlation between the Emergency and the
American counter-insurgency policy in Vietnam. This is done for several reasons.
There are numerous similarities (and differences) between the insurgent movements
of both countries. United States policymakers intently followed developments in
Malaya during the insurrection; thus, U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine in Vietnam is
directly linked to the British experience in Malaya. The U.S. policy in Vietnam was
largely unsuccessful by comparison. Historians have invariably traced the years of
the American counter-insurgency in Vietnam from 1959 to 1963, centering on the
last years of Ngo Dinh Diems regime. 21 differ in my analysis by tracing the origins
of U.S. policy to shortly after the French defeat at Dienbienphu. Hence, I analyze
the inherent flaws, in both theory and application, of the American counter-
insurgency policy as it related to Vietnam from 1954 through 1963.
Much of the counter-insurgency historiography attempts to explain American
failure in Vietnam through detailed analyses relating to the collapse of morale,
political scandals, unwarranted tactics, and so on. Despite their contribution, many
historians either ignore or gloss over the essential nature of an insurgency movement,
and hence the requirements for a viable counter-insurgency campaign.3 There is,
however, a noteworthy piece that succeeds in detailing both the nature of insurgency
movements and of the counter-tactics required to fight against such campaigns. It is
written by a high-level strategist who experienced the realities of insurgent warfare
in Malaya, Sir Robert Thompson. Entitled Defeating Communist Insurgency, the
analysis thoughtfully examines the organizing principles of insurgent movements
and argues for the existence of meaningful counter-strategies, similar to those
applied in Malaya. Though my conclusions differ slightly from Thompsons, this
study would have been much less valuable without his contributions to the literature
of the subject.
My analysis rests upon the examination of three basic principles of counter-
insurgency warfare. First, the emphasis must be placed on the defeat of the political
subversion rather than the military defeat of the guerrillas. Second, the guerrillas
must be isolated from both their supply networks and from the majority of civilians.
And, third, a clear political objective must be formulated pertaining to the
establishment and maintenance of a free, independent nation that is both politically
and economically stable. My study demonstrates the successful application of these
principles in Malaya contrasted with American failure to apply them in Vietnam.
I have used a number of primary sources in my research of both Malaya and
Vietnam. Among these are accounts of participants including the aforementioned Sir
Robert Thompson. I also found a wealth of valuable information in published
government documents, including annual reports and colonial transcripts published
by the Malayan government as well as various documents pertaining to American
foreign relations published by the State Department. Nonetheless, additional types
of primary sources ordinarily used in military and diplomatic history studies are not
readily available for the subject of counter-insurgency, particularly dealing with
Malaya. Currently, many documents relating to the insurgency period remain
classified by the British government.
Currently, The Federation of Malaysia consists of Malaya (now referred to as
the Malay Peninsula) and the states of Sarawak and Sabah, both of which are located
in northern Borneo.1 The Malay Peninsula juts nearly five hundred miles down from
its only neighbor, Thailand, in the north. The landmass divides the Indian Ocean
from the South China Sea. It is bisected from North to South by a mountain range
with peaks reaching nearly 7,000 feet. 2 For much of its history, the Malay Peninsula
existed as a colony of various European countries. The last of these nations to
occupy Malaya as a portion of its empire was Great Britain. From 1874 through
1957, the British exploited the extensive natural resources found in the country.
Primarily, these consisted of tin, lead, and rubber, each important parts of Britains
export economy. In addition, the British government utilized Malaya as a strategic
post for its imperial conquests in the Pacific.3
Malaya is located in a tropical region of the world. Its jungles account for
nearly four-fifths of the countrys 50,850 square miles. 4 The unchanging jungle
territory has invariably dominated not only the landscape but also the lives of every
human being in Malaya for untold generations- the indigenous Malays, the Chinese,
the Indians, and the British alike. This harsh environment of tall vine-covered trees
that block out the sun, impenetrable marshes and swamps, unimaginable insects, and
mountainous terrain was, for nearly twelve years, the battlefield for a unique and
destructive war. This war saw communist nationalists launch, for the first time in
Southeast Asia, a guerilla war which aimed to rid the country of its colonial rulers
and establish a government and society in Malaya based upon the ideologies of the
leader of the Chinese revolution, Mao Zedong.5
In 1948, Malaya was not only one of the most beautiful places on earth, it had
attained a rare status: its various ethnic groups apparently lived in harmony, enjoying
the highest standard of living in Southeast Asia, watching and waiting as the country
slowly but inevitably moved toward independence from Great Britain. This
prosperity undoubtedly existed because of the thriving rubber and tin markets. 6
Additionally, the British administrators and planters seemed to love Malaya nearly as
much as their own country, and devoted themselves to its welfare, both as a British
colony and as a future independent nation. Despite their various imperialistic
foibles, it is fair to say the British, on the whole, governed Malaya wisely throughout
Yet, the reasons for Malayas prosperity in 1948 are, perhaps, more deeply
rooted in the basic philosophical distinctions between the contemporary ethnic
groups. These inherently different qualities allowed the various races, living in such
proximity, to avoid hindering the lives and aspirations of one another. Each group
was extremely divergent in culture and religion, but they forged a delicate social
balance in which Malays, Chinese, and Indians whether politicians, businessmen,
or rubber tappers labored together by day and returned to their respective, isolated
ethnic communities at night.8
The indigenous Muslim Malays accounted for slightly more than half the
population of 5,300,000 living on the peninsula in 1948. Characteristically, they
exhibited a perceptible sense of taste and refinement paradoxically combined with a
placid, informal lifestyle unhindered by the zealous pursuit of wealth. Rather, for
most Malays, life was defined by their relationship to the kampong or village. These
villages were located either near the sea or alongside rivers, ideal spots to engage in
subsistence farming. 9 A plethora of natural resources provided the Malays with the
means for village life. Palm trees produced oil, roofing, and coconuts. Padi fields
provided ample rice. Papaya and durian grew in abundance in nearly every village.
Added to these commodities were wild ginger, cinnamon, figs, and an assortment of
tropical fruits. Plentiful supplies of fish provided Malay villagers with yet an
additional means of nourishment. And, although most Malays neither sought nor
required supplemental wealth, they could easily profit by selling latex tapped from
the occasional rubber tree.10
For their part, the Malays adapted to British colonialism far more readily than
the two major transplanted ethnic groups on the peninsula. 11 Malays acquiesced to
British authority, displaying their usual sense of courteous stoicism. And though
they acknowledged the British hierarchy in government administration, Malays
wholeheartedly revered their regional Sultans as they had done for centuries. These
indigenous rulers administered each of the nine Malay States which together formed
the Federation of Malaya at the time. Though their administrative powers were
subject to British supervision, in the eyes of Malays, each Sultan retained a
perceptible sense of regal power distinctly unlike their British colonial benefactors.12
During formal ceremonial affairs, each Sultan sat in foil regalia beneath a
large royal umbrella. Set upon a dais, his features rigidly static to impart a sense of
divinity, the Sultan patiently waited as throngs of Malays paid their respects. Some
simply came to behold their Sultan, others came for various reasons ranging from
questions of dispensation to matters of discipline. In reality, of course, the Sultans
wielded little political power in 1948. Nonetheless, they demanded that ceremonial
customs be observed in order that their subjects were constantly reminded that the
peninsula belonged to Malays.13
The Malays peaceful, relaxed lifestyle was thoroughly contrasted by the
more than two million Chinese living on the peninsula. Many appear to have been
native-born Chinese-Malayans. Regardless of this reality, however, most Malays
considered the Chinese populace to be alien, their loyalties suspected as resting with
Mainland China. Though most Chinese-Malayans had probably never seen China,
their religion, social customs, and business practices in Malaya were of noticeably
Chinese origin. 14 Every city, nearly every village possessed a Chinatown.
The atmosphere in these sectors varied greatly from the fastidious British
elements in the country and the relaxed village life of the Malays. Here, it was like
walking into a different country altogether. The relaxed pace of the Malays gave
way to the frenzied lives of Chinese-Malayans, intent on peddling their goods and
rendering their services. According to author Noel Barber, even the smells were
different. In Malayan Malaya, they had seemed to be of the earth, of fruits; in
Chinatown they were compounded of spices and the continual frying of assorted
lumps of scraggy meat which had hung, covered by flies, for days in the oppressive
This brand of hectic enthusiasm permeated every Chinatown in Malaya.
Separated by both culture and religion, the Malays and the Chinese did not often
associate with one another, and rarely did they intermarry. Yet, they lived side by
side, in effect, each reluctantly enduring the eccentricities of the other. Muslims did
not eat pork, did not work on Fridays, and were zealous observers of Ramadan,
fasting devoutly during this religious period. The Chinese, by contrast, both raised
and ate pigs, worked incessantly, and often celebrated their religious holidays by
eating as much as possible, at least those with the means.
Nearly 600,000 of the Chinese living in Malaya in 1948 belonged to a rather
different group.16 These Chinese were the squatters, comprised of families who
lived in dilapidated handcrafted huts in the jungle, on land they did not own, toiling
endlessly to farm or raise livestock. During the Japanese occupation of World War
Two, the number of Chinese squatters increased dramatically as many fled the urban
centers to escape persecution by the Japanese. The Chinese squatters, representing
nearly one-tenth of the total population by 1948, had been living on the jungle
fringes for so long, that no governing body, whether Japanese or British, had
seriously contemplated forcing them to move. 17
The 500,000 Indians living in Malaya in 1948 were sparsely scattered
throughout the country. Members of a transient workforce employed mainly as
rubber tappers, they worked enthusiastically, earning nearly twice what they would
have in India. Most saved enough to return to their native country and purchase a
plot of land, seemingly unconcerned with the realities of life in Malaya during their
brief stay. Undeniably, however, they constituted yet another divergent culture on
the peninsula. 18
Finally, there were the British. The first Englishmen in Malaya had taken
over a trading post in the province of Panang in 1805. 19 Great Britains influence
rapidly spread throughout Malaya until, by 1874, the country was a bonafide British
colony. 20 By 1948, this colonial presence manifest itself through the lives of the
12,000 British on the peninsula working in various capacities in the Malayan Civil
Service, as policemen, rubber planters, and tin miners throughout the country. 21
British colonial influence was steadily declining in the region. This was partially
due to the weakening postwar British economy and the surging Asian economy.
However, Malayan nationalism and anti-colonialism were important factors as well.
Yet, those still in Malaya were intensely captivated by the diverse, beautiful country
and devoted themselves to the countrys economic and political recovery after the
Japanese occupation, in the process preparing Malaya for its future as an independent
Intent on establishing an independent, non-communist nation, the British
were somewhat chagrined to find that such a transition was contrary to the future
national designs of many in the Chinese community. A growing number of Chinese-
Malayans felt disenfranchised politically. This is not surprising considering the
political hierarchy reflected the ethnic divide. Most Chinese, though providing the
impetus for a booming economy, possessed less political clout than the indigenous
Malays. Hence, many turned to a new hope for their own futures, communism.
The Malayan Communist Party (MCP), which I detail in the next chapter,
arose as part of an anti-colonial movement. Throughout the 1930s, Chinese students
and labor organizers dominated the MCP membership, promoting anti-colonialism
through labor strikes and other activities. Its support in the Chinese community
grew substantially, especially during the Japanese occupation period, as many
Chinese-Malayans became increasingly concerned with Japanese imperial
expansion. However, after the Japanese capitulation in 1945, members of the MCP
returned to their anti-colonial roots, resisting the British reoccupation. Unable to
negotiate terms they considered to be acceptable, the MCP resorted to insurgency. 23
This was Malaya when terrorism and war erupted on June 16, 1948. Shortly
before eight-thirty in the morning, three young Chinese men riding bicycles arrived
at the estate of a British planter named Arthur Walker. His estate, known as Elphil,
was located twenty miles east of the tin-mining town of Sungei Siput. The three
Chinese dismounted their bicycles and promptly walked to the door of the office
where they were met by Walker himself, who was attempting, unsuccessfully, to
restrain his barking dog. Upon entering, one of the Chinese purportedly said,
Tabek, Tuan, which means, Salutations, sir! Arthur Walker, apparently
unaware of the impending danger, returned their greeting. Immediately after this
exchange, two shots rang out in the still morning air. The three Chinese men then
emerged from the office and walked leisurely back to their bicycles, pausing briefly
so that observers could identify them (clearly meant as an act of defiance). Without
further delay, they departed, leaving Arthur Walker dead, with two gunshot wounds
in his chest. 24
This seemingly minor assault on an isolated British planter was only the
initial homicide in the first phase of a meticulously planned terrorist campaign begun
in 1948 and ultimately lasting until 1957. The MCP eventually gave this campaign a
maxim: The War of the Running Dogs, in reference to British officials and their
indigenous supporters. When hostilities began, Communist Terrorists, or CTs,
attacked numerous British estates throughout Malaya, and continued to do so
throughout the war. Simultaneously, CT units began to harass and torture citizens
either reputed to be British loyalists or those who resisted submitting to the
communist agenda. The most obvious intent was to strike fear in the hearts and
minds of the citizenry through violent, heinous acts that were not easily forgotten.
The combination of these two tactics was the staple of the communist military
strategy throughout the insurgency.
The nature of CT attacks on indigenous Malays and various other ethnic
groups is typified by an incident that took place in Johore shortly after the outbreak
of hostilities. In this case, a CT unit chose to torment one of their own, a Chinese
rubber tapper named Ah Fung who worked as the headman on the Voules Estate.
Seeking subscriptions for their cause, the CT leader demanded that Ah Fung collect
fifty cents per week from every rubber tapper on the estate as a donation to the
communists. Ah Fung explained that due to his police record, he was suspect and
could not possibly help them, nor could anyone else on the estate. The CT leader
contemptuously responded by saying, Are you the headman or are you not a man?
He then announced to Ah Fung and the gathering crowd, my name is Goh Peng
Tun, and this is a war against the hated British. Perhaps your colleagues will
cooperate if I show them how we deal with traitors, at which point he ordered his
men to tie up Ah Fung.
Though Fung immediately agreed to their demands and begged to be let go,
the reply from Goh Peng Tun was simply, too late. Ah Fung was tied to a nearby
tree and his wife and children were forced to watch with the rest as Goh Peng Tun
used a Malay jungle knife known as a parang to cut off both of Ah Fungs arms. In
response to the wifes pleas for mercy, Tun said, I am in a benevolent mood today.
I will spare his life. Before leaving, the CTs fastened an announcement to the tree
above Ah Fungs head. It read ominously: Death to the Running Dogs.
COMMUNISM, CHIN PENG, AND THE
ORIGINS OF INSURGENCY
Chinese immigrants came to Malaya in large numbers during the late
nineteenth century. By the 1930s, they represented the largest minority group in the
country. However, unlike the indigenous Malays, who were mostly committed to
their isolated, rural traditions, many Chinese rapidly asserted themselves in
industrialized society. They focused especially on education, learning the various
aspects of science, technology, and government. The vast majority of Chinese-
Malayans migrated to the urban areas, and, they are credited with contributing to a
vast array of advances in urban development, technology, and, of course, later
contributions to nationalist politics. 1
It is to the origins of Chinese communist nationalism in Malaya that we must
turn in order to understand the rationale for the communist insurgency. Seemingly,
communism appealed to a vast number of Chinese-Malayans living on the peninsula.
Malays and Indians were involved in the communist movement too, but their
numbers were inconsequential. The party in Malaya was dominated by Chinese
membership. 2 Why was this so?
Sir Robert Thompson, a prominent British strategist during the insurgency,
identifies three types of people who have been attracted to the philosophies of
communism that have spawned insurgent revolutions in Asia, most notably in China,
Laos, Cambodia, Malaya, and Vietnam. They include the naturals, the converted,
and the deceived.3 The naturals are dedicated revolutionaries unable to see any
future prospects for themselves in existing society. The ideology of communism,
with its strength of purpose and discipline, with the chances of promotion in its
monolithic structure ... its belief in inevitable victory and its sense of political
power, offers them their opportunity. 4 High-level members of the communist
political apparatus in Malaya, and elsewhere in contemporary Southeast Asia, were
defined by these characteristics. Such idealists invariably sought retribution for a
plethora of injustices, both perceived and real. However, they were intensely
influenced by the prospect of altering society through the attainment of political
The two remaining contingents differ from their zealous leaders. The second
group of communist disciples is the converted, who often join for the simplest of
reasons, peer pressure. In Malaya, this proved to be true as large numbers of the
communist guerillas initially were persuaded to join the communist ranks because
many of their friends were doing the same. Finally, the deceived, usually are
youths rebelling against a form of authority, and most often attracted by the
camaraderie in such groups, in addition to the prospect of excitement and action. 5
In Malaya, young male Chinese squatters numerically dominated the communist
guerilla forces. It is likely that these young men fell into either the converted or
the deceived category. However, most were not communist political crusaders like
naturals in the leadership apparatus.
Communist leaders in Malaya successfully persuaded their fellow Chinese
inhabitants to join the cause. Many in the jungle had few prospects other than the
life of a rural farmer. Others, simply by nature of their position as members of an
ethnic minority, sought to improve both their social and political status. Hence, it
stands to reason that many Chinese recruits, regardless of economic class, were
convinced of the evils associated with traditional authority. These notions
contrasted with ideal social equality inherent in communist ideology. Rebelling
against authority, specifically British governmental authority, was the natural result
of such communist indoctrination efforts. 6
Though small factions of communists emerged in Malaya during the 1920s, it
was not until the late 1930s that significant enough membership existed to petition
British administrators for official recognition of the MCP. 7 Their requests were
declined, however, because the British viewed the MCP as an obvious threat to
colonial rule. The communist leaders, aware of their inferior political strength, did
not push the matter at the time.8
The Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War Two ended the many
years of relatively peaceful existence in the country. In early 1942, the Japanese
defeated the small British occupation force and assumed control of the peninsula. In
the early stages of the invasion, MCP members cooperated with the British in an
effort to hold back the tide of the Japanese troops. The Chinese were left on their
own, however, after the retreat of the British forces.9 The prospects for mounting a
resistance soon became clear. As the military occupation took hold, the Japanese
began to aggressively persecute the Chinese population and any others loyal to
Chinese causes.10 Astonished by the ease of the Japanese victory over the British,
some Malay and Indian leaders in the country ingratiated themselves to the invaders
in hopes of establishing a beneficial relationship. 11
Conversely, the Chinese, led by a large number in the MCP, established the
MPAJA (Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army) in early 1943.12 For the duration
of the war, this faction existed as the major resistance against the Japanese.
Ironically, they received most of their supplies from British forces based on Ceylon.
In fact, many in the MCP, by a strange twist of fate, actually mastered the art of
jungle guerrilla warfare from the British. 13 After the surrender of Singapore in 1942,
a contingent of British soldiers, known as Force 136, remained in the jungles of
Malaya to conduct guerilla operations against the Japanese and to prepare for the
eventual arrival of British liberation forces. Between 1942 and 1945, many Chinese
who had fled into the jungles to escape Japanese persecution aided Force 136.14
Numbering nearly 5,000 Chinese by 1945, including Chin Peng, the eventual
Secretary General of the MCP, they proclaimed themselves as the MPAJA. They
were well trained in jungle warfare tactics by the British, and were proficient with
modern weapons, which were parachuted into Malaya. Many, like Peng, were
avowed communists, and members of Force 136 were aware of this fact. However,
in the interest of maintaining Chinese support, little was said. After the cessation of
hostilities, perhaps inevitably, members of the MPAJA promoted themselves as the
sole victors over the Japanese invaders, whom the British had been powerless to stop
in 1942. 15
After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the MCP was the most
powerful political organization in Malaya. 16 Prior to the British re-occupation in
September of 1945, MCP leaders engaged in various attempts to stir up public
support for their cause. In fact, some sectors of the Malayan population were
persuaded to support the MCP in light of their efforts against the Japanese.
However, their political propaganda efforts were simultaneously coordinated with
fierce persecution by the MPAJA of Malayans who had sided with the Japanese
during the occupation period. Even loyal Malays did not appreciate the persecution
of their fellow citizens. As a result, relations between Malays and many Chinese
became increasingly antagonistic. 17
Into this strained atmosphere stepped the British reoccupation forces. After
their return, the British occupational government requested that the MPAJA
surrender their weapons and disband. Though some weapons were surrendered,
MPAJA members secretly buried most of their British-supplied arms inventory in
case they were needed at a later date. Fully aware that this group was primarily the
military wing of the MCP, British officials were not prepared to allow the continued
existence of the MPAJA while attempting to restore a civil government.
Nonetheless, British leaders immediately recognized that many Malayans, regardless
of ethnicity, were calling for autonomy from any foreign power and favored
Policymakers in Great Britain realized that holding on to Malaya as a colony
would be extremely costly, a reality made more difficult given Britains weak post-
war economy. Therefore, many in Whitehall were completely willing to lead the
Malayan people toward a state of independence, albeit that of a non-communist
nature. 19 Therefore, British officials in March of 1946 supported the formation of
the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). This group was comprised of
non-communist nationals from each ethnic background in Malaya in an effort to
stimulate widespread support for non-communist political institutions. 20 This led to
the establishment of the Malayan Union in April of the same year. The Union was,
in essence, a non-communist voting body comprised of UMNO members. In
February 1948, Malayan Union representatives voted for the formation of the
Federation of Malaya. The British Civil Service ultimately maintained control of the
new government, though they relegated themselves to an advisory role for the
Malayan people. The intention was to educate indigenous Malayan leaders on how
to formulate a governmental system. 21
This system of government was intended to exclude any communist
participation. In late 1947, British leaders had once again denied the MCP the
official recognition they sought. This, combined with the exclusion of communist
input in the formation of the new federation, pushed the MCP leaders to the brink.
They decided to strike back by coordinating a massive insurgency effort aimed at the
heart of the British organizational structure.22
Chin Peng, the undisputed leader and Secretary General of the Malayan
Communist Party, was the primary political instigator of the communist insurgency.
Bom in Sitiawan, where his father ran a small bicycle repair shop, Peng possessed a
quiet, gentle manner, evidenced when he softly spoke one of the six languages he
learned as a university student. An erudite young man, Peng had joined the
communist party at age eighteen, cutting stencils for the propaganda department. By
1948, Peng epitomized an ideologue who revered communist ideology and had tired
of colonial servitude to any nation. 23 He was, undoubtedly, the dominant
coordinating force behind the entire insurgency movement. Though he relied on a
few others, especially Lau Yew, the mastermind of the MCP military strategy, Peng
was deeply involved in the political and military command apparatus. In late 1947,
he supervised the formation of the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MRLA),
foreseeing the likelihood of armed conflict with the British forces over the future of
In May 1948, the Party Politburo met in the jungles of the Pahang province in
central Malaya to discuss their strategies for guerilla warfare. Though some of the
more intricate discussions are unrecorded, several important decisions were made
during this conference. First, Chin Peng and his military advisor, Lau Yew, decided
to separate the dedicated communist revolutionaries and their partisan support
network into two groups, each with completely different functions. 25
The first group consisted of what Peng termed the MRLA combat forces,
hereafter referred to as CTs for the sake of continuity. A combination of remnants of
the five thousand men of the MPAJA and new recruits, these deadly guerrilla forces
would operate from remote jungle bases and direct their efforts at the surrounding
communities. They would utilize caches of arms hidden in the jungle, many still
contained in the original canisters in which the British had parachuted them in during
the Japanese occupation. 26 Their prime directive resonated with the dictums of
Lenin: through the infliction of terror, a well-organized minority can conquer a
nation. 27 Organized into eight strategically placed regiments, CT units would wage
war in the classic Maoist fashion. 28 This strategy depended heavily on swift CT
strikes. Realizing they were outnumbered by the combined forces of the British and
the Malay Union, the decision was made to perform small-scale guerilla operations
within targeted areas in each region of Malaya in order to conserve manpower and
supplies. These attacks were directed at British diplomats, mine operators, and
plantation owners. In addition, CTs targeted known or suspected British
sympathizers within each ethnic group. 29
The second group consisted of ordinary citizens, primarily of Chinese
ethnicity, dispersed in villages and communities throughout each region. Known as
the Min Yuen, or Masses Movement, these seemingly normal citizens were
comprised mostly of Chinese squatters, and functioned as the support network for
the army. Their primary function was to provide the army with food, money, and
intelligence information.30 The Min Yuen also were responsible for aiding their
MCP brethren in propaganda campaigns throughout each region. These efforts were,
of course, aimed at attracting new members to the communist cause. In some cases,
this meant recruiting actual troops; in others, it involved the enlistment of additional
supporters within other ethnic groups in both the vast jungle regions as well as urban
The two main branches were linked by the Party apparatus itself, so
thoroughly organized by Chin Peng, that the Central Executive committee
maintained a chain of command extending downward through the regiments to even
the smallest CT units. Moreover, discipline and instruction were enforced according
to strict Party guidelines in nearly every jungle camp, often by political commissars
possessing the unquestioned authority to rescind local military operations if
necessary. The organizational command structure of the Min Yuen was similar in
scale and design, though commands passing downward through regiments, platoons,
and units were substituted for decisions descending from State Committees to
District Committees and village cells.33
At the May 1948 Pahang jungle conference, Chin Peng not only created the
organizational structure of the insurgent movement, but also outlined his basic
conceptual strategy for conquering Malaya. His proposal contained three phases. In
Phase One, CTs would attack isolated villages and estates, targeting primarily British
planters and policemen. Thus, the British would be forced to abandon these areas
and relocate to larger urban centers. Phase Two would follow in which evacuated
regions would be renamed Liberated Areas by the communists. Subsequently,
guerrilla bases would be formed in these areas and the Min Yuen would supply the
army with additional recruits from the surrounding communities. These recruits,
along with veteran communist units, would prepare for Phase Three. During this
culminating phase, the communists would send their forces into the remaining
territories, expanding out from the Liberated Areas into the urban centers, the
army concentrating its power on the conquest of these cities. Simultaneously, the
Min Yuen would endeavor to destroy the economy and compromise the security in
the new areas. Finally, the confident, battle-hardened communist army would
engage the British forces who, unable to resist both their opponents and the will of
the people, would surrender to the communists.34
This was the organization and strategy of the MCP/MRLA by the morning of
June 16, 1948, when Peng and his strategists set in motion the events that would
dominate Malayan society for over a decade. Small bands of CTs began their reign
of terror by murdering selected targets in each region of Malaya. These vict ims
included a number of prominent British planters and mine operators, one official of
the British foreign office, and a wealthy loyalist Chinese businessman. Word of the
murders spread rapidly throughout each province, causing a great deal of panic
among most of the Malayan population. Within a period of twenty-four hours,
Britains High Commissioner, Sir Edward Gent, declared a national state of
PHASE ONE: DEFENSIVE, 1948-1951
The first basic principle of counter-insurgency warfare requires the
government to emphasize the defeat of the political subversion rather than the
military defeat of the guerrillas. To do this, the command apparatus must be
streamlined to achieve maximum efficiency of effort. At the outbreak of hostilities
in June 1948, the Malayan Federal Government was ill prepared to wage war, much
less conduct a modem counter-terrorism campaign against communist guerrillas. At
that time, political power in the country was quite decentralized. People in each of
the nine Malay States bowed to the authority of their local Sultan, aided by his
Prime Minister and a British advisor.1 However, each territory ultimately
submitted to the supreme jurisdiction of the Federal Government, led by the British
High Commissioner. In peacetime, Malayan Civil Service members and local
authorities oversaw a practical, though antiquated governing system, making
numerous decisions locally. Though this governing arrangement was, for the most
part, fruitful, it did not stand a chance of survival in the face of widespread
communist terrorist aggression. This was magnified by the fact that the British High
Commissioner in June 1948, Sir Edward Gent, failed to comprehend the inherently
formidable tasks required of a government facing the threat posed by communist
Brilliant though he was, Gent distanced himself from the realities of life
when he arrived in Malaya in 1946. A dedicated proponent of independence for
Asian colonies, his lofty notions of reform led to a natural distrust of members of the
Malayan Civil Service, whom he regarded as the old brigade. His condescending,
often-spiteful remarks created an antagonistic atmosphere in which little
communication existed between Gent, his advisory staff, and members of the Civil
Service. In 1947, various British advisors to the Sultans warned Gent of increased
communist activity and the possibility of impending revolt. However, Gent ignored
these warnings. It is extremely unfortunate that Gent disregarded the policy advice
of those with long experience in Malaya who knew the intricacies of the culture
much better than he did.4
However, the Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia, Malcolm
MacDonald, did realize that the fight against the communist insurgents was going to
be extremely difficult. Moreover, he understood that this campaign against
communist aggression would only succeed if the Federal Government retained not
only its authority but also its sense of cohesion. In late 1947, MacDonald had
received a three-page memorandum from a British colonel named John Dailey. In it,
Dailey urged action against bands of communist soldiers who were, at that time,
training in the jungle regions throughout Malaya. He estimated their strength at
nearly five thousand men (later confirmed as a highly accurate figure), and posited
the existence of more than 250,000 Min Yuen supporters. Colonel Dailey sent his
memo to MacDonald after he became frustrated with Sir Edward Gent, who scoffed
at the figures and refused to take the analysis seriously.5
MacDonald was impressed by Daileys work, and shortly after the outbreak
of hostilities, the Commissioner-General flew to see Gent, hoping to alter his stance
on government procedures. However, the obstinate High Commissioner refused to
change his position and maintained that the communist threat was insignificant.
Believing that Gent had grossly underestimated the signs of danger, MacDonald
relieved him of his position as High Commissioner of Malaya.6 Gent died in a plane
crash on his way back to London.
From June 29 through September 6, as MacDonald searched for Gents
replacement, the Government forces functioned without the services of a High
Commissioner. These were hectic times. The CTs operations had instilled both fear
and apprehension into many portions of the population. Fortunately for the British
during this interim period, there were individuals with vision in Malaya who not only
recognized the need for a cohesive government strategy, but also were perfectly
capable of initiating the formation of the basic British counter-insurgency agenda.
One such man was Robert Thompson. A member of the Malayan Civil
Service since 1938, Thompson was nearly captured in Hong Kong during the
Japanese invasion in 1941. However, he escaped by walking through part of China
and then served in a Royal Air Force (RAF) unit in Burma for the duration of World
War Two. Thompson returned to Malaya in 1945 with the British reoccupation
forces. Fluent in Cantonese and several other dialects, he served as the Chinese
Affairs Officer (CAO), a post he held in 1948 when the insurrection began. Because
of his work as the CAO, Thompson had known for some time that a communist
uprising was brewing. He knew most of the key political figures in the Chinese
communities, including various well-known communists. After months of watching
many of these men vanish into the jungles for prolonged periods of time, Thompson
was not overly surprised when the CT strikes began. 7
Thompson knew the war could last many years, and would be a fiercely
contested struggle between two incompatible ideologies. From the beginning, he
understood that communist revolutionary warfare was aimed at the disruption of
government administration through terror. Communist ideology alone was
insufficient to produce a successful insurgency.8 An additional factor involving the
forced breakdown, or near breakdown of the governments rural administration,
had to be achieved.9 To accomplish this breakdown, Thompson soon realized that
the insurgents relied heavily upon terrorism. However, as evidenced by the initial
CT attacks, the terrorist strategy was implemented with a distinction. In Thompsons
view, the CT campaigns seemed more effective when selective. 10 Individuals
singled out for assassination represented a hierarchy of leadership recognized by the
public. In fact, the methodical murders of public leaders were often preceded by
efforts to discredit them in public. In this way, it was possible to devastate the very
framework of the Federal Government administration network.11
To combat such tactics, Thompson envisioned a counter-strategy dependant
upon social and political measures rather than military might.12 It is, perhaps,
fortuitous that the new High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, was of a similar
mindset. Soon after Gurneys arrival in September 1948, it became clear to
Thompson that Gents successor was of a different, highly agreeable character.
Formerly stationed in Palestine, Gurney was well acquainted with the nature of
armed insurrection. 13
Though his tenure in office lasted just over three years before ending abruptly
in tragedy, Gurney made two important decisions that served as the foundation for
the counter-insurgency campaign for the duration of the conflict. His initial decision
embodied the first basic principle of counter-insurgency: the government must
emphasize the defeat of the political subversion rather than the military defeat of the
guerrillas. 14 Gurney argued against giving primary power to the armed forces in a
war of political ideology. 15 Intent on building an independent, self-governing nation,
Gurney demanded that his military commander, General C.H. Boucher, utilize
combat troops only as a means of achieving overarching political goals, rather than
as a purely destructive force. 16 However, Boucher was unreceptive to Gurneys and
Thompsons suggestions. A classic military officer who had served in Greece prior
to his arrival in Malaya, General Boucher was a fierce proponent of military
escalation. In his mind, superior numbers were automatically related to eventual
victory. Consequently, the overall counter-insurgency effort suffered in the early
From September 1948 through April 1950, under Boucher, the British
military campaign carried out short-term, large-scale jungle assaults in an attempt to
strike fear into the communist troops. However, this strategy was completely
unsuccessful. As often as not, Bouchers troops accidentally killed innocent
bystanders. 18 Such was the case in the village of Batang Kali, north of Kuala
Lumpur, where British troops and police forces shot and killed twenty-five innocent
civilians mistaken for guerrillas. 19 Events like this had the effect of stimulating
support for the communists from Malayans who had previously been neutral. In
addition, coordinating a large army in the dense jungle proved difficult. By contrast,
the guerilla warfare tactics practiced by the MRLA forces proved largely successful.
Highly mobile, small units utilized ambushes to destroy supply lines, disrupt troop
convoys, and especially to kill high-profile British leaders.20 These hit-and-run
tactics allowed the communist forces to punish their British adversaries while
simultaneously absorbing few combat losses of their own.
Beginning shortly after his arrival, Sir Henry Gurney sent numerous requests
to the British Colonial Office asking for the appointment of a Director of Operations
who would have tactical command authority over both military and police forces.
Painfully aware that General Boucher posed a threat to his ideas for a successful
counter-insurgency campaign, Gurney was hopeful that the Colonial Office would
quickly grant his requests. 21 This did not happen, however. Nonetheless, from
1948-1950, anticipating either Bouchers eventual replacement or his complete
cooperation, Thompson and Gurney occupied themselves with devising practical
schemes for defeating the communist insurgents. 22
For just over eighteen months, Boucher and the army busied themselves with
attempts to defeat the communists in conventional military fashion. Sir Henry
Gurney and Robert Thompson viewed Bouchers antics as a welcome, if futile,
diversion to occupy the attention of the communist forces. Meanwhile, Thompson,
Gurney, and a few associates committed themselves to devising a truly meaningful
counter-strategy based upon political warfare. 23
In a war of ideologies, both Gurney and Thompson believed victory would be
achieved primarily through massive social and political reform campaigns aimed at
winning the hearts and minds of the people. 24 At the same time, however, both
men knew they required the police forces and the military units to enforce their
policies and carry out assaults on the CTs. Though their ideas were unproven, both
men felt the implementation of two basic strategies would empower the Federal
Government with the organizational structure and the tactical means required for
First, Gurney and Thompson sought to consolidate the command structure,
ensuring that combat operations of any nature would be tightly controlled by both the
High Commissioner and, later, a Director of Operations. Moreover, both men,
especially Thompson, felt it was absolutely necessary that the police forces be
entrusted with the responsibility for combat operations. The conventional military
community would be relegated to advisory and support roles. 25
By placing responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the police forces,
Thompson believed the government could prevent a full-scale military escalation, an
outcome he viewed as disastrous. Gurney and Thompson both knew that only a
fraction of the total population was part of the insurgent movement. Given such
circumstances, one stray bomb that killed one stray child or mother could
conceivably create thousands of enemies. Hence, both felt it was far more preferable
to police the villages rather than allow the military to destroy them during large-scale
strikes. Events of this nature could easily prove detrimental in a war of intelligence,
where villagers and CT defectors led police forces to communist cells. Such a
strategy required patience, and large-scale military operations could instantly destroy
months of meticulous intelligence-gathering efforts. 26
Sir Henry Gurney envisioned the second victory strategy. Perhaps the most
ingenious tactical plan of the war, it involved the relocation of over 600,000 Chinese
squatters, a third of whom comprised the Min Yuen communist support network.
Forerunners of the Strategic Hamlets in Vietnam, the New Villages in Malaya
enabled the dispersal and resettlement of the squatters in secure regions. Gurney
speculated that such a tactic would produce two notable results. First, the communist
leaders and guerrilla forces would be isolated from the information and supply
networks. Second, both the MinYuen and the innocent villagers could be protected
from terrorist harassment and simultaneously convinced of the Governments
positive intentions through vigorous land ownership programs and other
opportunities. 27 Though this strategy did not come to fruition until early 1952, its
implementation proved to be instrumental in the defeat of the communist
insurrection. Sir Henry Gurney deserves credit for the original idea.
Gurneys requests to the British Colonial Office demanding a Director of
Operations in Malaya finally were granted in late 1950. General Sir Harold Briggs,
Ret., made an immediate impact upon replacing General Boucher. Unlike his
predecessor, Briggs admired the brilliant social and political schemes of Thompson
and Gurney. Among Briggs first directives was the initiation of Gurneys
ambitious relocation plan. Set in motion in March 1951, the Briggs Plan, upon its
completion, became a vital component of counter-insurgency warfare in Malaya for
the duration of the conflict. 29
Sadly, Sir Henry Gurney never saw his idea bear fruit. On October 6, 1951,30
Gurney was ambushed and murdered by a band of CTs on his way to Kuala Lumpur.
The loss of Gurney, however, did not keep British strategists from moving forward.
The initial three years were dominated by muddled attempts to stem the flow of
terrorism almost solely through military counter-measures. Nonetheless, the British
government structure was still in place. Moreover, measures had been taken to
ensure the eventual defeat of the communists. This is not to say the British and their
supporters escaped the first three years unscathed. On the contrary, the year 1951
was the single worst statistical year for communist killings, with 532 civilians
murdered and 505 Government combat forces killed. All told, from 1948-1951, the
non-communist casualty totals (including civilians and security forces) included
nearly 3,000 killed and 2,800 wounded.31 However, the communists could not claim
to control a single Liberated Area, as outlined in their three-pronged strategy.
Moreover, CTs were still relegated primarily to jungle warfare operations. Lacking
their Liberated Areas, communist forces were unable to spread from the jungle
fringes into the urban regions. Hence, as the defensive phase ended in 1951, Robert
Thompson and other British strategists prepared to initiate a counter-insurgency
offensive with renewed purpose and hope.
PHASE TWO: OFFENSIVE AND
The second basic principle of counter-insurgency warfare entails the isolation
of the guerrillas from both their supply networks and from the majority of the
civilian population. In Malaya, this tactic was manifest in the massive relocation
movement. From March 1951 through January 1952, more than 600,000 Chinese
squatters, including communist loyalists in the population, were relocated to guarded
camps, known as New Villages, away from CT areas of operation. Though
daunting, the relocation efforts were brilliantly coordinated and were carried out
This socio-political campaign had two direct results. First, the numerous
supplies that the MRLA forces relied upon (weaponry, food, clothing, and shelter),
were denied them. In addition, the vast array of intelligence, formerly provided by
Min Yuen squatters and loyalists, virtually disappeared, leaving the CT forces blind.
Second, the relocation also aided the Government forces efforts to hunt CT cells in
the jungles. With all squatters in secure areas, the security forces could engage CTs
without fear of injuring innocent Chinese bystanders. This campaign was the
hallmark of the British counter-insurgency operation in Malaya. 2
Two components of the relocation program ensured that the vast majority of
the resettled population would remain isolated from CT areas of operation for the
duration, and upon the cessation of hostilities, would likely support a non-communist
government. The first component entailed forced compliance. During the
insurgency, the New Villages imposed strict security measures. Such measures
included, among others, constantly updated identification cards for each villager,
strictly enforced curfews, and laws prohibiting firearms. Though seemingly harsh,
these regulations proved invaluable to the British security forces in their efforts to
maintain a secure environment.3
The second component entailed social reform and hope for the future of
many, for land entitlement also made the New Villages in Malaya a powerful
technique in counter-insurgency warfare. Many of the 600,000 relocated Chinese
squatters, regardless of their relation to the Min Yuen movement, likely felt, perhaps
for the first time, that they had a stake in their own futures. 4 Robert Thompson spent
nearly two years convincing the regional Sultans to acquiesce to land allotments for
the relocated population. 5 In the end, his persistence enabled a humane policy for
many who had always dreamed of owning their own property. Furthermore, this
policy was instrumental in winning the hearts and minds of a vast majority of the
relocated population, many of whom became adamant supporters of the eventual
independent non-communist government. 6 The American Strategic Hamlet
program in Vietnam would lack any semblance of the meaningful benefits present in
Malaya. Whereas the relocated Malayans genuinely benefited from the New
Villages program, most Vietnamese did not. Rather, the reckless construction of
the Strategic Hamlets actually disrupted and destroyed the historic ties to the land
so valued by the Vietnamese people.
Counter-insurgency military tactics were drastically altered to coincide with
the political tactics. In 1951, General Briggs began to engage the communist forces
on their own terms. No longer were there short-term, massive troop movements into
the jungle territory. Instead, the British and alliance forces were divided into
smaller, platoon size units. Some were sent to guard relocation camps and urban
areas, while the rest engaged in the same guerilla tactics practiced by their enemies.
General Sir Gerald Templer continued this practice when he assumed the dual post
of High Commissioner and Director of Operations in February 1952. Government
forces spent extended periods of time in the jungle, lying in wait for passing CTs. 7
Significantly, by engaging in small-scale guerilla operations, the British largely
eliminated the accidental civilian casualties associated with large-scale strikes.
In an account of his experiences in Malaya, Major General Richard
Clutterbuck describes the rapid increase in success ratios experienced by the
instigation of guerilla tactics. He says, monthly ... losses were to plunge from 100
in 1951 to 20 by the middle of 1952 and were never to rise above that figure again.
Similarly, in 1951, 90 civilians had been killed (by terrorists) every month; but by
mid-1952, the figure was 15 also never to rise again. 8 According to Clutterbuck,
these statistics indicate the overwhelming benefits proffered by the New Villages
and the small-scale guerilla tactics.9
It seems logical to contend that the very requirements of long-term existence
in the jungle compelled the police forces and British combat troops to become
increasingly familiar with their surroundings, thereby providing them with the
necessary skills to systematically hunt down and ambush their communist enemies.
Richard Miers confirms this in an account of his experiences in Malaya, where he
served as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion. As police and military forces became
increasingly familiar with specific regions, they began to anticipate the routes of CT
troop movements. In addition, they were able to apprehend civilian spies who
continued to bring messages from urban areas to the communist camps isolated in
the jungles. Intimate knowledge of the jungle and of CT tactics proved increasingly
valuable. According to Miers, the CT would normally prefer to use the easiest
routes when moving through the jungle. They would, for instance, avoid areas
where there was no water, or those where the ground was particularly rough and
uneven. Making allowances for unusual circumstances, ... there was a positive
pattern of considerable CT activity in corridors (of the jungle). 10
By late 1955, CT cells in the jungles had become virtually inoperative. Their
numbers, never having been large, declined over time, falling to fewer than 1,500 by
1955, as British guerilla tactics successfully countered their methods of terrorism. 11
In addition, the guerrillas became increasingly isolated from sources of supply or
intelligence information due to the extensive success of the relocation camps and
British-guarded territories. As a result, the communist leaders in the MCP, Chin
Peng among them, began to consider the possibility of increased communist
propaganda campaigns in an effort to re-enlist national support. 12 Peng seemed to
believe that the political power of the MCP could be revived to the stature it
possessed in 1945 after the Japanese occupation. He was to be sorely disappointed in
his efforts to regain political status in the country.
The third basic principle of counter-insurgency requires the government to
formulate its own clear political objective. Especially important is the establishment
and maintenance of a free, independent nation that is both politically and
economically stable. 13 From mid-1952 through 1955, both General Templer and
Robert Thompson pushed Whitehall to grant independence to Malaya. 14 Foreign
Service advisors had continued to educate Malayan leaders in the UMNO on the
intricacies of a parliamentary government, all the while searching for an ideal
Malayan candidate to serve as its first leader.
In 1952, British officials began to groom a man named Tunku Abdul
Rahman, a native-born Malay aristocrat. One of the brilliant psychological tactics
utilized by Templers (and subsequently Donald McGillivarys) staff was to elicit
indigenous support for an independent nation by scheduling political rallies
throughout the country. 15 These provided Rahman with the opportunity to speak to
his countrymen. He was an extremely inspirational speaker who capitalized on his
status as a domestic-bom Malayan eager to lead his people into a modem,
independent era. The national support for Rahman was overwhelming. 16
In July 1955, the first national elections were held in the midst of the
Emergency. The Alliance candidate, chosen by the leaders of the UMNO was, of
course, Rahman. He was elected as Chief Minister of the new Parliamentary and
Ministerial system, obtaining the votes of nearly seventy-three percent of the entire
population. 17 A few months later, in August 1957, the British government in London
authorized the creation of an independent state of Malaya, under the leadership of
Tunku Abdul Rahman. 18
These events spelled the doom of Chin Peng and the MCP. In May, 1955,
Peng attempted to negotiate a settlement with Rahman and other Ministers in the
new Malayan government. Peng offered the immediate cessation of all remaining
communist hostilities throughout Malaya in return for official recognition of the
MCP. However, Rahman and the other ministers did not fall for Pengs ruse. They
were well aware of the impending defeat of the MCP and its MRLA forces. Even if
the communist movement survived, it would be politically weak and isolated. 19
By the end of 1956, CT strikes were becoming increasingly rare. In fact,
fewer than 1,300 CTs remained active in Malaya by that time. The combined
casualties of police and military security forces for all of 1956 totaled less than 50. 20
Civilian casualties also were very low. And as the country prepared to take its place
in the world as a modem, independent nation, many, including Robert Thompson
and Tunku Abdul Rahman, looked forward to the day when an official end to the
emergency could be declared.
On August 31, 1957, the independent Federation of Malaya officially came
into being. At this time, the remaining vestiges of British administrative authority
were transferred to the new leaders of Malaya. Tunku Abdul Rahman, leader of the
Alliance Party, became Prime Minister, and Dato Abdul Razak, his Deputy Premier
and Defense Minister.21
The lions share of the British security detail had departed, either for London
or for duty elsewhere, leaving the nations security in the hands of well-trained
Malayans in both the military and the civilian police forces. A skeleton crew of
British advisors lingered for two more years, at the request of Prime Minister Abdul-
Rahman, to aid him in his administrative efforts. Most notable among these was
Robert Thompson. Perhaps the most vital individual strategist of the war, during the
course of the campaign, Thompson had risen to become the Secretary of Defense.
He, like Abdul Rahman was anxious to officially declare an end to the Emergency.
The time was fast approaching when this would be possible. By the end of 1957, CT
strength had fallen to below 1,000. In subsequent months, CTs surrendered in large
numbers until by June 1958 there were only 250 operating in the country.22
Little more can be said about the counter-insurgency operation in Malaya. In
August 1959, Tunku Abdul-Rahman was re-elected as Prime Minister, gaining three
quarters of the seats in the Legislative Council.23 Abdul-Rahmans government
simply could not wait for the elimination or surrender of every last CT before
declaring an official end to hostilities, however. Hence, after discussions with
Robert Thompson and other advisors, it was decided to declare an official end to the
Emergency on July 31,1960.
Chin Pengs communist revolution had failed. At this point, even he had to
concede a complete political and military failure. In October, 1959, Peng issued a
directive granting remaining members of the Malayan Communist Party permission
to leave the jungles with severance pay of about four hundred dollars. 24 In typical
fashion, Pengs directive included an edict advising former CTs to settle down in
populated areas, obviously a last desperate ruse intended to ensure the possibility of
future communist revolution.
And so, on July 31, 1960, the Emergency officially ended. The cost in lives
alone had been heavy for both sides. Of the estimated 12,000 soldiers who
ultimately served in the communist ranks, 6,698 were killed, 2,696 surrendered,
2,819 were wounded, and 1,286 captured. The total losses for Government Security
Forces included 1,865 killed and 2,560 wounded. Civilian casualties totaled 2,473
murdered, 1,385 wounded, and 810 missing. 25
Termed by Professor Anthony Short as the most significant defeat of
guerrilla communism in Asia, the British counter-insurgency efforts in Malaya were
epitomized by the unorthodox socio-political tactics required to combat the classic
guerrilla warfare of Mao Zedong. 26 Without the use of such strategies, it would
certainly have been impossible to engage the CTs in the jungles. Moreover, it would
have been nearly impossible to gain the broad support of the people and promote
Perhaps a statement by Robert Thompson best epitomizes the sentiments held
by British officials. As he, like many other British Civil Service members, was
preparing to depart a country he had grown to love over the years, Thompson
recognized the significance of the events he lived through. Referring to Chin Peng,
Thompson declared, he started a war to kick out the British Imperialists, and now
there arent any. Weve not been kicked out, weve left with heads high, knowing
that its the British who brought independence to Malaya rather than Chin Peng and
the communists. 27 Though true, this statement rather glosses over the underlying
issue, and reality, of the presence of non-communist nationalism. The acceleration
of Malayan independence was also a vital factor in the defeat of Chin Peng and the
U.S. COUNTER-INSURGENCY POLICY
IN VIETNAM, 1954-1963
The American experience in Vietnam stands in sharp contrast to that of Great
Britain in Malaya. As the United States became more and more embroiled in its own
effort to suppress insurgents in Southern Vietnam, American strategists looked to
their own experience in the Philippines and to Great Britains successful counter-
insurgency campaign in Malaya for guidance. However, U.S. policy in Vietnam
suffered from an absence of the meaningful strategies utilized in Malaya, instead
focusing, almost solely, on military counter-revolution. Thus, the U.S. counter-
insurgency doctrine could best be defined as a disastrous effort that eventually led to
the full-scale American military commitment in 1965.
The early Cold War landscape produced notable alterations in American
foreign policy. The menace of global communism was perceived as a genuine threat
to freedom. A theory arose suggesting that regional communist rebellions, regardless
of their distance from the Soviet Union, were products of a global communist
conspiracy, headed by the Kremlin in Moscow. U.S. policymakers embraced this
notion of a monolithic communist threat, and vague doctrines such as containment
became strategies for halting its advance.
In 1949, Mao Zedong ascended to power in China. In Washington D.C., the
communist victory in China was viewed as a devastating blow. It seemed to confirm
the theory of global communism, directed by Moscow. U.S. policymakers believed
that the Kremlin was establishing a communist puppet regime in Asia with the
intention of spreading communism throughout the region. Amid these growing Cold
War anxieties, American strategic interest in Southeast Asia increased dramatically.1
Though U.S. foreign policy continued to focus on the Soviet Union, Southeast Asia
gradually assumed a high priority during the Franco-Vietnamese War (1946-1954).
U.S. officials, for various reasons, viewed this war as a confrontation between
communism and the ideals of freedom, rather than as a desperate struggle by France
to retain colonial rule in Vietnam. American policymakers felt that by halting the
communist advance in Vietnam, a powerful message would be sent to the Soviet
Union and the world. 2
The future of the Vietnamese people did not appear to be a priority during the
phase of American support for the French colonialists. The situation was simply
perceived through the distorted lens of the Cold War. American officials were fully
aware of the French interest in regaining their colonial empire in Vietnam. Though
French objectives were detestable to some in the United States, they seemed better
than the alternative of a Communist government in Vietnam. In reality, the
communist leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, was first and foremost a dedicated
nationalist, seeking independence for his country from any foreign power, including
the Soviet Union.3 However, it seems this truth held little meaning for American
policymakers. Ho Chi Minh was simply viewed as a communist aggressor, and,
therefore, an agent of the U.S.S.R. and a threat to freedom in Vietnam. 4
Ho Chi Minhs leadership proved invaluable for the Viet Minh resistance.
Furthermore, his military commanders were brilliant in their guerilla and mobile
warfare tactics against the French. By 1953, the Viet Minh had thoroughly frustrated
the French military effort. French support at home also declined rapidly through the
years. Hence, their will to fight waned over time. The French defeat at Dienbienphu
in May 1954, shortly before the Geneva Conference, appeared to finalize the Viet
Minhs military victory, opening the door for an independent Vietnam under the
leadership of Ho Chi Minh. It was not to be, however.
The Geneva Peace Conference ended on July 21, 1954. Two provisions of
the international agreement on Vietnam were especially important. First, Vietnam
was temporarily divided into two sections, North and South, at the seventeenth
parallel. This demarcation line was not intended to be a permanent territorial border,
however. This point was made quite clear in the declaration. Second, free elections
were to be held throughout the entire country within two years. Neither the United
States nor Bao Dai, the anti-communist emperor and long time ally to the French
colonial regime, signed the peace accords because no provisions were made for the
permanent existence of a communist North Vietnam and a non-communist South
Vietnam.5 It is probable that Ho Chi Minh, and the Viet Minh, would have won free
countrywide elections based on their popularity resulting from the French defeat and
Bao Dais unpopularity.6 Realizing this, U.S. officials began to implement their
own plans for the future of Vietnam. Their decision to defy the Geneva Accords
grew into a military commitment lasting more than two decades.
The decision to ignore the Geneva provisions was the turning point for the
American commitment in Vietnam. Backing Ngo Dinh Diem as the new leader of a
non-communist state in South Vietnam seemed hasty to some. In reality, however,
the strategy of the American presence in Vietnam had been set in motion months
earlier. In March, 1954, before the French defeat at Dienbienphu, the formulation of
future U.S. policy in Vietnam was well underway. Intent on ensuring that a strong
non-communist presence remained in Vietnam, U.S. policymakers began to mold
plans for a non-communist regime based in Saigon. Realizing that Bao Dai was
extremely unpopular due to his prior support of the French, Diem was chosen as the
beneficiary of American support. 7 American officials perceived Diem, a noted anti-
communist and fierce nationalist, as the best available candidate. As they found out
later, he was less than ideal.
By the time the Peace Conference concluded on July 21, 1954, direct
American intervention had already begun. In preparation for the new government in
Saigon, the Saigon Military Mission, (SMM), under Colonel Edward G. Lansdale,
began their mission in June. Under the auspices of General Iron Mike ODaniels
Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Saigon, Lansdales team began to
evaluate the social and political atmosphere in South Vietnam. They soon
discovered that Diems government faced overwhelming odds. Winning the support
of the population presented a major challenge. The growing anti-Diemist guerilla
insurgency led by Viet Minh remnants in the South complicated this challenge.
When Ngo Dinh Diems official procession entered Saigon on June 17,1954, a
combination of American advisors and South Vietnamese personnel were already
engaged in the preliminary stages of nation-building and counter-insurgency. 8
The State of Vietnam, in 1954, existed only as a concept. The realities of life
in the country significantly lowered the prospects for building a modernized society.
The age-old relationship between the village peasantry and the mandarin class still
existed as the only known way of life, though the social demographics were altered
during the period of French rule. For instance, by 1954, the local mandarin class had
been reduced to secondary leadership roles within the civil service, which was, of
course, ruled mostly by foreigners. The mandarin class represented the modem,
educated elite of Vietnam. Conversely, the peasantry throughout South Vietnam still
preferred to live within the framework of the family and the village. A distinct part
of Vietnamese culture, each peasant village had always existed as a separate, self-
contained society. Villagers had little, if any, comprehension of, or interest in, the
dynamics of a modem society. Indeed, as an unspoken rule, most of the villages, for
centuries, had literally disengaged themselves from external influences, including
government policies. Villagers were content to live as they had for generations,
farming the rich rice land of their ancestors.9 However, neither the French nor, later,
the Americans fully comprehended these inherent realities of life. During the period
of French colonial rule, thousands of Vietnamese villagers saw their land
confiscated. Instead of engaging in subsistence farming, the villagers were forced to
labor as part of a vast plantation system run by the French.10 The United States, too,
made similar, equally disastrous mistakes in dealing with Vietnamese society.
The chasm between the peasantry and the Diemist government became
enormous. Diems policies directly fueled the insurgent movement. This was
especially true of the manner in which the remnants of Viet Minh guerillas in the
South were hunted down in the early years of Diems government. Though the Viet
Minh were, indeed, eliminated as a threat, Diems overzealous troops also
imprisoned and killed thousands of innocent civilians in the process.11 Collateral
damage on this scale proved disastrous to Diem and for the eventual American
occupation. Communist revolutionaries within the population began recruiting many
to their cause simply by denouncing Diems policies. This, in fact, was a
conventional approach to the successful creation of an insurgency against a known
power. The communist insurgents in South Vietnam utilized the Maoist model for a
rural insurgency movement. 12 As historian Douglas Blaufarb put it, Maoist theory
conceptualized that, .. .in those countries of the world which remain largely rural
and agricultural, the people of the countryside can be successfully organized and led
in a movement to encircle and eventually to take over the cities. Furthermore, the
peasantry, who in traditional Marxism represent a backward force from whom
nothing progressive can develop, were transformed into an honorary proletariat, out
of which a devastating revolutionary weapon could be forged. 13
The communist insurgency in Vietnam was, by Maoist definition, a grass
roots rural insurgency that sprang from the very heart of the indigenous people. It
grew proportionately over time, eventually gaining recognition from North Vietnam
as an integral source of agitation against the Americans and Diem. As the
insurgency gained momentum, North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap began to
recognize the parallels of the guerilla movement in South Vietnam to the strategy of
protracted warfare. Though Giap modified it to fit the tactical situation in Vietnam,
such a strategy required the three phases detailed earlier in this analysis: (1) public
agitation and propaganda efforts; (2) overt violence guerilla combat operations and
mobile warfare, and (3) engagement of large conventional fighting forces. 14 As this
realization materialized in the North, additional efforts were taken to secretly
encourage the insurgents in South Vietnam until the North Vietnamese decided to
officially enter the fray. This was the mindset and strategy of Americas enemies
in Vietnam as U.S. officials began to formulate their own plans for a
U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine was developed as a response to a danger
that appeared to threaten U.S. global interests and did so in a guise which made it
difficult to detect in timely fashion and, even if detected, to deal with effectively. 15
One immediately senses that the U.S. counter-insurgency definition was overly
vague. This was a portent of things to come, as few strategists were able to devise a
cogent tactical application of the doctrine for use in Vietnam. Nonetheless, there
were precedents for the future of U.S. counter-insurgency.
Strategists in Washington D.C. modeled their ideas upon two notable
counter-insurgency efforts, the Philippines and the focus of this analysis, Malaya. 16
Indeed, even by the early 1950s, U.S. foreign policy documents began to indicate
that American officials were already analyzing the counter-insurgency strategies of
the British in preparation for a similar U.S. engagement in South Vietnam.
In a letter to the Secretary of State in October 1950, the National Security
Council was already recommending that the United States begin evaluating the
various successes and failures of both political and military action, or inaction, in
the field of anti-guerilla activity with regards to Malaya. 17 Less than a year later,
the NSC was urging the Defense Department to engage in "collaborative efforts
with friendly governments in order to obtain information on counter-insurgency
efforts against communist guerilla forces in Malaya. In fact, a May 1951 NSC
document states: It is in the security interest of the United States that all available
knowledge on counter-guerilla operations be obtained in order that our own doctrine
on such operations may be as nearly perfect as possible. 18
A U.S. military report to Australia, New Zealand, and United States Alliance
(ANZUS) Control in 1952 indicates that the U.S. government was closely following
the events of the Malayan insurgency. The report discusses the strategic importance
of Malaya with regards to the sea-lanes and the inherent danger that it could provide
a haven for communism. It briefly outlines the nature of the MRLA forces, detailing
their strategic efforts, and ends by commenting that while continued guerilla
activity can be expected, some improvement in the security by the end of 1952
appears probable. 19 This clearly suggests a vital interest by the United States
regarding the developments in Malaya.
Perhaps most telling, the approval of NSC memorandum 5405, in 1954,
clearly delineates U.S. intentions in Southeast Asia. This document outlines the
future course of U.S. foreign policy by stating that communist domination, by
whatever means, of all Southeast Asia would seriously endanger in the short term,
and critically endanger in the longer term, United States security interests. 20 This
statement is clearly derived from an analysis of the communist insurgency in
Malaya. Furthermore, NSC 5405 played a vital role in the formulation of defense
policy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as U.S. commitments in Vietnam began to
The counter-insurgency operations in both the Philippines and Malaya were
remarkably similar. In both countries, the local leadership apparatus as well as the
foreign advisory staff were able to coordinate strong, effective strategies for the
elimination of communist guerillas. In fact, these strategies were nearly identical in
scope and application, suggesting not only that communist insurgencies were
globally similar, but also that successful counter-strategy maintained a degree of
From 1950 to 1953, the U.S. aided the Philippine government in defeating the
communist-led Hukbong Bayan Laban Sa Hapon (Huk) rebellion. Well-traveled
American Colonel Edward G. Lansdale, and others, enjoyed the good fortune of
working with a strong, capable indigenous leadership throughout the counter-
insurgency campaign. Ramon Magsaysay, the nationalist Philippine leader, was a
uniquely gifted individual, wholly committed to the cause of resisting communist
aggression. At the same time, he possessed a heartfelt appreciation for the lives of
his countrymen, both rich and poor. Though the counter-insurgency campaign was
challenging, difficulties were, more often than not, overcome due to the superior
nature of Magsaysays dedication and leadership, which bred popular social
support.21 As Lansdale soon found out, Vietnam was a completely different story.
The primary years of the counter-insurgency campaign in Malaya were from
1948 through 1957. Ultimately, as I have shown, the efforts in Malaya proved
successful in quelling the communist revolt led by the ethnic Chinese minority.
Although the British struggled, initially, to coordinate effective countermeasures
against the communist terrorist (CT) attacks, the eventual resolutions and strategies
were quite effective. Upon the conclusion of hostilities, the British departed, leaving
an independent nation in their wake.
As the United States prepared to conduct a counter-insurgency campaign in
South Vietnam, the Malayan model was considered as a vital model for success.
Could the United States directly transfer the strategies utilized in Malaya to
Vietnam? There certainly were applicable elements. However, there also were some
notable differences between Malaya and Vietnam. Peninsular Malaya juts down into
the South China Sea, and is bordered by a single country in the north, Thailand.
This, in itself, was extremely beneficial to the counterinsurgency effort because
Thailand was, historically, a non-communist area. Conversely, South Vietnam is
bordered by a number of countries, including communist-led North Vietnam (which
in turn is bordered by communist China), and the unstable countries of Cambodia
and Laos to the west, which combatants on both sides used for military operations.
This simple illustration shows the magnitude of the geographic challenges
encountered in South Vietnam compared to Malaya.
Another major strategic difference between Malaya and Vietnam involved
the cultural demography as it related to the insurgency movement. In Malaya, the
communist insurgents were both led and supported by a minority ethnic group in the
country, the Chinese. Simply put, the odds of a successful counter-insurgency were
considerably higher given the widespread fear and anger among the indigenous
Malays towards the threat posed by an ethnic minority. Most native Malays were,
therefore, easily convinced of the benefits of supporting a campaign to rid the
country of the despised Chinese communists. 22 In Vietnam, of course, the situation
was radically different. The insurgency movement was comprised of members of the
Vietnamese majority. The inherent challenges of motivating the citizenry to fight
against many of their own were overwhelming.
Finally, establishment of leadership, both native and foreign, in the two
countries could not have been more different. In the British Foreign Ministry,
Robert Thompson expertly coordinated the social and political campaigns. The
consolidated military efforts also were expertly run. The chosen leader, Tungku
Abdul Rahman, though from an elite background, was an extremely capable leader
who connected well with the Malayan people. Perhaps most importantly, the
counter-insurgency campaign focused its efforts on meaningful social reform as well
as powerful propaganda efforts. 23 This strategy effectively solidified support from
an overwhelming majority of Malays.
Ngo Dinh Diems leadership in South Vietnam was marred by intolerant,
elitist policies that drove a gigantic wedge between his government and the
population. In addition, as will be discussed, United States officials had a propensity
for ignoring the benefits of meaningful social and political reform as a means of
counter-insurgency. Instead, most attention was focused on counter-revolution in the
form of combat operations. Taken as a whole, the differences between Malaya and
Vietnam outweighed the similarities. Though the strategies in Malaya (and the
Philippines) could certainly be utilized in varying degrees, the U.S. had to adjust the
tactical operations in order to attain a degree of success. The question is, did they?
The years from 1954 through 1958 marked the buildup to full-scale
counterinsurgency in Vietnam. The SMM, led by Colonel Lansdale, did experience
measured success during the first two years, from 1954 to 1956. However, they also
encountered extreme difficulties. At the outset, the Americans struggled to secure a
base of operations in and around Saigon. This, of course, was a priority for the
SMM and MAAG members if they hoped to create any semblance of consolidated
power in the South for the Diem government. Thus, from August 1954 through July
1955, major efforts were made to establish Diems regime as the legitimate
government. The first order of business involved suppressing the threat of rival
groups in the area. The most powerful of these, the Binh Xuyen, was an organized
crime gang that had enjoyed strong political ties with Bao Dai and the French. They
had emerged as the most prominent threat to Diem after a prolonged struggle of their
own with two rival groups, the heavily armed Cao Dai and Hoa Hao Buddhist sects.
Ultimately, in March 1955, after months of diplomatic maneuvering and outright war
in the streets, Diems government troops defeated the Binh Xuyen, thus
consolidating his power within Saigon. 24 However, another hurdle existed for the
Americans and Diem before they could establish government authority within the
city and the surrounding region.
The French foreign ministers and military officers felt they should maintain
strategic and tactical authority in South Vietnam until they were forced from their
posts in mid-1956. The French despised Ngo Dinh Diem due to his hatred of French
colonialism in Vietnam. Aside from agreeing to the joint Franco-American venture
in training the South Vietnamese National Army, the French displayed little support
for the American presence. In fact, French officials repeatedly attempted to
undermine early American operations. Until their departure in July, 1955, the
French did everything in their power to encourage any rival non-communist sect to
depose Diems government. 25 Obviously, contention between the two major foreign
powers (and supposed allies) in Saigon detracted from the MAAG organizational
capacity as well as the effective operational use of Lansdales SMM team. These
constant battles of will also played into the hands of the insurgents. While the
Americans and Diem were battling for control of Saigon, the Viet Minh guerilla
insurgents throughout the country were able to recruit South Vietnamese people to
their cause and also to strategize for their own combat operations.
Despite the problems they encountered, the American (and eventually
ARVN) forces did engage in preliminary counterinsurgency efforts from 1954
through 1959. During his tour as both the head of SMM (1954-1955) and the
director of security for Diem (1955-1956), Colonel Edward G. Lansdale was one of
few Americans in Washington and Saigon who appeared to comprehend the realities
in Vietnam. His skills in psywar activities and socio-political propaganda techniques
had been honed during his service in the Philippines. However, he was faced with a
much more difficult situation in Vietnam. He initiated propaganda efforts intended
to sway public opinion in both the North and the South toward unmitigated support
for Diem. He also engaged in various forms of psychological warfare intended to
damage the standing of the Viet Minh among the South Vietnamese people as well
as intimidate the insurgents themselves. 26 A typical psywar operation involved the
creation of false communist propaganda. This could involve the circulation of
stories about Viet Minh concentration camps or reports of an impending U.S. nuclear
attack on regions of the North. 27 These campaigns were aimed at minimizing the
influence of the Viet Minh, especially in Saigon. Many of these psywar techniques
had little, if any effect on the rural population. To their credit, Lansdales SMM
team did concoct the only significant scheme to rally support for the Diem
government. Lansdale and his co-leader, Major Lucien Conein, were instrumental in
coordinating the massive refugee movement that brought nearly 900,000 anti-
communist Catholic civilians from the North to the South during the transit period
specified in the provisions of the Geneva Accords.28
From 1954 to 1956, the SMM team engaged in a dual-pronged strategy,
involving both propaganda techniques and military operations, to counter the
effectiveness of the guerilla insurgency. Though the level of tactical success in
undermining the insurgent movement was not high, the early U.S. counterinsurgency
efforts under Lansdale appeared to be on the right track. Unfortunately, Lansdales
legacy of combined tactics would be largely lost on his successors. In early 1957,
both Lansdale and General ODaniel (the MAAG Commander) were recalled to the
United States to serve in different capacities. With their departure, the counter-
insurgency campaign in South Vietnam quickly degenerated into a one-dimensional
campaign geared toward the elimination of the guerilla threat by military means.
There was an added component to American struggles in this period. The
selected leader of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, had the disturbing ability to
nullify any achievement in the counter-insurgency campaign that might have won
support for his government. Upon consolidating his power in 1955, Diem was swift
to announce the creation of the Republic of Vietnam. The United States adamantly
endorsed this declaration as a public defiance to the provisional national elections
scheduled for the following year. Amid idealistic (and Americanized) proclamations
of a new era for South Vietnam, Diem appeared intent on change for the better.
Unfortunately for the U.S., there was a great deal more to their chosen Vietnamese
leader than first met the eye.
A product of the mandarinate, Diem had little respect for the traditional
culture of the peasantry, or for the historic ties between the peasants and the elite
class. In fact, he saw the autonomous peasant villages as direct threats to his
ambitious plans. In contrast to his promises of freedom and liberty, Diem clearly
envisioned the creation of an autocratic society that was ruled, for all intents and
purposes, from the Presidential Palace in Saigon.29 Therefore, he could not permit
the existence of autonomous factions in any form. Intent on establishing control,
Diem, in 1956, appointed hundreds of his Civil Service officials as the new village
ambassadors throughout the country. They were given the authority to dictate
Diems policies to the villagers for whom they took responsibility.30 In simple
terms, Diem extended his direct authority over the people of South Vietnam into the
villages. As the French had done, he violated a historical relationship, and
overextended his authority. By doing so, Diem brought two polarized societies the
peasant villagers and the modem educated elite crashing together. The fallout was
catastrophic, not only for Diems regime, but also for the American nation-building
The American counter-insurgency campaign dwindled from 1957 through
1959. Flawed strategy and ineffective tactical maneuvers marred this period. The
extremely effective insurgent movement that continued to gain strength throughout
South Vietnam augmented American failure. Those in the population who had
previously been undecided about their support for either Diem or the Viet Minh were
increasingly driven to the communist camp as a direct result of Diems
condescending, divisive, and brutal social policies. In conjunction with Diems
many political failures, American and ARVN counter-insurgency teams often
mistook noncombatants for Viet Minh guerillas and communist supporters.31
The combination of these elements compelled many South Vietnamese
people to become zealous supporters of the Viet Minh-led insurrection. Young
South Vietnamese men joined the insurgents as soldiers. In addition, a growing
number of women, children, and even elderly South Vietnamese began to aid the
insurgents through a variety of means: clothing, food storage, weapons storage, and
most importantly, intelligence gathering. The village support network became an
operational base for the Viet Minh and later the Viet Cong insurgents.
The U.S. and Diem responded with the abortive Agroville Program,
implemented in 1959. This was a short-lived attempt to isolate the peasant
population from the guerilla insurgents. The plan was to remove the people from
their villages to a new village, or agroville, in a secure location. By relocating the
peasants to agrovilles, the American and ARVN forces hoped to deny the guerilla
insurgent forces access to their supplies and their communication networks. In
addition, it was hoped that the construction of the agrovilles would generate
abundant public support for Diem and the Americans, the logic being that the
citizenry would recognize that the American and ARVN forces were protecting
them from the evil intentions of the communist guerillas.33
Though the idea had merit, it was horribly executed. In sharp contrast to the
New Villages in Malaya, the implementation of the Agroville Program
exemplified the distinct lack of awareness present in U.S. policy circles. Whereas
the New Villages created a tangible link to the land for the squatters, the
Agrovilles destroyed any such link for the Vietnamese. To begin with, prying the
peasantry away from their historic village roots was illogical unless they were
sufficiently convinced of a meaningful reason to do so, which, of course, they were
not. Secondly, the relocated peasants were forced to construct the agroville
complexes themselves, under the supervision of American and ARVN forces.34
Needless to say, forced manual labor was not an endearing component of the
program. Lastly, there was an obvious failure to recognize that many of the guerillas
who would supposedly be isolated from the population actually composed much of
the agroville population. These guerillas were temporarily forced to reside in the
agrovilles with the rest of the population, thus keeping them from guerilla activities
for a time. Once American strategists realized that the Agroville Program was an
utter failure, both strategically and politically, it was abandoned.35 Thus, the Viet
Minh-led insurgency was indirectly handed a victory by yet another blunder in
Prior to the 1960 presidential election in the United States, American
policymakers began to recognize the need to implement strategic changes in
Vietnam. This closely followed the formation of the National Liberation Front
(NLF) in Vietnam. In 1961, during the early Kennedy Administration, the decision
was made to invite a team of British counterinsurgency experts to Saigon to evaluate
the situation and to offer any possible recommendations for the continuation of U.S.
nation-building efforts. Sir Robert Thompson led the British evaluation team.
Upon arriving in Saigon, the British advisors were dismayed at the utter lack
of government organization and leadership. Thompson was unimpressed with the
self-absorbed, distant character of Ngo Dinh Diem and his closest advisor, brother
Ngo Dinh Nhu. Neither seemed to possess the raw leadership qualities that inspire
public support. Not coincidentally, Sir Roberts first, and perhaps most important,
recommendation called for an effective, inspired native leader who would ably
spearhead all efforts to establish a firm, decisively free government. This leader, to
paraphrase Thompson, required a full complement of intelligence, enthusiasm,
tenacity, and compassion. Such a person would, with the assistance of a strong
advisory staff (initially composed of a few token foreign advisors), be able to initiate
meaningful, lasting social reform laws and beneficial economic programs to assist in
guiding the agrarian population toward a stable, modernized society.36
The British Advisory Group also urged the consolidation of the military
command structure in order to preserve continuity and effectiveness in all combat
operations. Furthermore, Thompson specified the need to place primary
responsibility on the ARVN soldiers and the Saigon police in order to promote self-
interest, self-reliance, and pride. He believed that U.S. personnel should only be
utilized as a secondary support and advisory network. However, in order to
accomplish this, Thompson clarified the need for extensive combat training for
ARVN forces and Saigon police by experienced guerilla warfare experts. This
training would produce a confident, organized indigenous fighting force, supported
by the United States, capable of implementing the military policies of the Saigon
The recommendation by the British advisors to implement a version of
Thompsons New Villages was no surprise. In Malaya, this prolonged strategy
eventually proved to be the decisive factor in bringing about the collapse of the
Chinese insurrection. This concept, like the Agroville Program, was intended to
isolate the indigenous population from the activities of the guerilla insurgents.
Unlike the agrovilles, however, Thompsons New Villages scheme placed a great
deal of importance on assuring the villagers of the governments concern for their
well being. At the same time, however, a premium was placed on strict security
regulations. This was vital for the success of the isolation technique. Thompson felt
that strict security in and around these villages would eventually lead to the exposure
of any guerilla spies within the complex. Moreover, by achieving a true degree of
isolation, the government combat teams would be free to systematically hunt down
and destroy the insurgents without fear of harming innocent civilians.38
Upon the successful establishment of New Villages, or a derivative thereof,
the paramilitary operations were to begin. Rather than brief search-and-destroy
missions, Thompson advocated prolonged guerilla warfare campaigns. Insertion
teams would spend weeks, even months, engaged in patient guerilla warfare
operations in the jungles of South Vietnam. They would utilize the same tactics as
their enemy: stealth, mobility, and ambush. Thus, without a supply or
communication network to rely on, it was only a matter of time before the insurgents
would be neutralized.39
Thompsons concluding remarks warned of the need for patience. He
believed that any successful counter-insurgency campaign, especially one conducted
against a firmly entrenched enemy, would be a long process. In fact, he suggested
that victory could take five years or longer, depending on the internal situation of the
U.S. officials chose to ignore most of the British recommendations, at least in
their pure form. Rather, policy planners seemed confident that no major revisions in
U.S. counter-insurgency policy were required. Instead, the Americans in Vietnam
embarked on a new course, with little, if any application of the British
Many strategists in Washington D.C., including Edward Lansdale (then
serving President Kennedy as an advisor on Vietnam), did not agree with
Thompsons recommendations. Lansdale was critical of the British mission because
he did not believe there was an applicable degree of transference between the British
experience in Malaya and the American battle in Vietnam, though he generally
agreed with Thompsons assessment of the need for a dual-pronged social and
military strategy. 41 Once again, Lansdale was among the minority who saw the need
to engage in substantial political and social restructuring. Therefore, in a final,
fateful effort to boost the counter-insurgency campaign, U.S. officials decided to
implement a military solution to the problem without focusing equally on the
political and social structure of the country. 42
Though it is true that the Malayan experience could not be literally
transferred to Vietnam, the criticisms of Thompson appear to have been unfounded.
Certainly, he did not possess the same knowledge of Vietnam as many of the
American officials with years of experience in the country. Nonetheless, Thompson
and the British Advisory Group were simply making recommendations based on
their experiences in Malaya. They could certainly not be expected to fully
comprehend every functional piece of Vietnamese society during a brief visit to the
country. Rather, Thompsons team intended to provide a meaningful analysis that
could serve as a general outline for U.S. advisors. In his 1969 book, No Exit From
Vietnam, Thompson adamantly defended his recommendations in Vietnam, claiming
that the British counter-insurgency strategy in Malaya could have been successful in
Vietnam had it been implemented in a similar manner. 43
Perhaps Robert Thompson was correct. There is no way to know. To be
sure, the American counter-insurgency strategies were laden with contradictions.
The very doctrine of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy owed a great deal to the British
experience in Malaya. Therefore, would it not stand to reason that upon
recommendations from the foremost expert on counterinsurgency the Americans
would heed the British counsel? Apparently not. The American policymakers,
perhaps in a prideful display of U.S. autonomy, rejected many of the valid
suggestions made by the British.
Instead, the American strategists decided to incorporate only a portion of the
British plan. Thus, the Strategic Hamlet program came into being. It proved to be a
wasted effort because the strategic hamlets were, for all intents and purposes,
glorified versions of the earlier agrovilles. A typical hamlet resembled a World War
Two German prisoner of war camp, including ten-foot high wooden fences with
barbed wire surrounding the perimeter of the village, which consisted mostly of grass
U.S. strategists and ARVN troops failed to realize the strategic application of
the hamlets. They were supposed to exist as a means to an end. The creation of the
villages was intended to isolate the population from the guerilla insurgents. In
addition, the hamlets were meant to be security checkpoints, to support the gradual
elimination of the Viet Cong. Most importantly, the strategic hamlets were designed
to be safety blankets for civilians. The directors of the facilities were supposed to
incorporate education programs, medical care, religious services, ample food and
clothing, and many other welfare programs in order to win the respect and support of
the people. 45 None of these objectives were met.
The ARVN personnel and the American advisory teams viewed the mere
construction of the strategic hamlets as the end goal of the program. 46 No attention
was paid to the welfare of the occupants. Furthermore, as with the agrovilles,
security regulations were virtually non-existent. There were few attempts to weed
out the VC infiltrators. Villagers did not have to possess ID cards because there was
no identification check. There were no curfews. Compromised security was just the
beginning, however. The execution of the program was too ambitious. It quickly
became overextended. Hamlets were built throughout the country. Many were not
in secure areas to begin with, but instead were in heavily contested VC territories.
Perhaps most telling, there was no patience involved in the execution of the Strategic
Hamlet Program. Both Diem and the American advisors expected immediate results.
Thompson had warned that even a perfectly implemented program could take five
years or more to produce noticeable results. 47
Given the lack of governmental leadership in South Vietnam in conjunction
with the many strategic flaws in military operations, it is not at all surprising that the
Strategic Hamlet Program ended as a failure. Its collapse, in 1963, signaled the end
of the American counter-insurgency campaign. Later that year, Diem was
assassinated, and American strategists attempted to pick up the pieces of their failed
nation-building efforts in South Vietnam.
The British strategy in Malaya from 1948-1960 is a meaningful model for
counter-insurgency warfare. In Malaya, British strategists utilized three basic
principles to counter the communist threat. First, the government emphasized the
defeat of the political subversion rather than the military defeat of the guerrillas. To
accomplish this, the command apparatus was streamlined in order to achieve
maximum efficiency of effort. Second, the government isolated the communist
guerrillas from both their supply networks and from the majority of civilians. This
tactic was manifest in the massive relocation of more than 600,000 civilians to New
Villages. And, Third, the government formulated a clear political objective. This
entailed the establishment and maintenance of a free, independent nation which was
and remains both politically and economically stable.
These principles are the hallmark of any successful counter-insurgency
campaign, though they do not represent a universal operational handbook for such
campaigns. Factors including ethnicity, cultural paradigms, economic, and political
conditions dictate that insurgent movements may differ from region to region.
Hence, any counter-strategy must be adjusted accordingly. Nonetheless, the
fundamental concepts contained in these three principles are valuable blueprints for
counter-insurgency warfare, a brand of warfare reliant upon social and political
strategies rather than conventional military combat tactics.
U.S. strategists failed to utilize contemporary models of successful counter-
insurgency campaigns while engaged in their own efforts in Vietnam from 1954-
1963. Though American policy was loosely based on the British model in Malaya, it
never appeared to fully comprehend the inherent similarities or the differences. The
British efforts in Malaya should have been studied to a greater extent. Though the
experience was not completely transferable, the British coordination of political,
social, and military strategies in Malaya was impressive. There were, of course,
notable differences between the two countries involving culture, politics, geography,
and ethnicity. However, the U.S. should have been able to adjust its Vietnam policy
to allow for those differences, while still maintaining the basic structural format for
U.S. advisors failed to produce an effective strategy of their own. Most
importantly, they chose to support the ineffective regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. The
Ngos, Diem and Nhu, were utterly lacking in leadership ability. Furthermore, they
never inspired the people of South Vietnam through any social or economic
legislation. Instead, Diem and his brother managed to alienate the population with
elitist social policies unlike Rahman in Malaya who was genuinely interested in the
welfare of his people.
American policy utilized a one-dimensional approach to counter-insurgency.
Military operations superceded all other political and social considerations.
Unfortunately, even the military operations lacked any real sense of continuity. The
bureaucratic command structure failed to produce cohesive military strategies.
ARVN troops were not well trained or equipped, forcing the U.S. to bear the burden
of initiative. Unfortunately, many U.S. strategists did not comprehend the realities
of guerilla warfare. Thus, their search-and-destroy operations had little effect on the
insurgents, who brilliantly displayed the effectiveness of a rural insurgency
philosophy involving guerilla warfare. However, as successful as the communist
insurgency in Vietnam was from 1954 through 1963, ultimately, the U.S. strategists
and the Diem government defeated themselves.
The U.S. counter-insurgency campaign, begun in 1954, eventually led to the
U.S. war commitment. The Kennedy administration presided over an extensive,
largely covert, escalation of American commitments in Vietnam. Kennedys
successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, quickly became displeased with the failed U.S.
counter-insurgency campaign. However, leaving Vietnam to its own struggle for
independence never seemed to enter Johnsons mind (or the minds of most U.S.
policymakers). The United States was intent on maintaining a strategic presence in
Southeast Asia. Thus, in 1965, Johnsons administration engaged the nation in a
full-scale military commitment in Vietnam that would ultimately last until 1975. By
then, the successful counter-insurgency campaign in Malaya was fifteen years in the
past, and the country remained stable and independent.
1 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency (New York: Praeger
Publishers, 1966), p. 13.
2 Such examples pertaining to counter-insurgency in Vietnam include the following:
Douglas S. Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era (New York: The Free Press, 1977),
Weldon A. Brown, Prelude to Disaster (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975),
Larry E. Cable, Conflict and Myths: The Development of American
Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Vietnam War (New York: New York
University Press, 1986), Donald W. Hamilton, The Art of Insurgency: American
Military Policy and the Failure of Strategy in Southeast Asia (Westport: Praeger
Publishers, 1998), Richard A. Hunt, Pacification (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995),
Robert D. Schulzinger, A Time for War, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997),
D. Michael Shafer, Deadly Paradigms: The Failure ofU.S. Counterinsurgency
Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).
1 Willard A. Hanna, The Formation of Malaysia (New York: American Universities
Field Staff, Inc., 1964), pp. 221,238-239.
2 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs (New York: Weybright And Talley,
1971), pp. 13-14.
3 Robert Heussler, British Rule in Malaya (Westport: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1981),
pp. 8-9, 15-18.
4 Andaya, Barbara, Leonard Andaya, A History of Malaysia (New York: St. Martins
Press, 1982), p.l.
5 Lucien Pye, Guerrilla Communism in Malaya (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1956), pp. 29-30.
6 Andaya, pp. 210-213.
7 Simon C. Smith, British Relations With The Malay Rulers From Decentralization
To Malayan Independence (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 5-7.
8 Barber, pp. 14-15.
9 Ibid., p. 15.
10 Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-1960 (New York:
Crane, Russak & Company, Inc., 1975), p. 78.
11 Smith, p.l.
12 John Gullick, Indigenous Political Systems of Western Malaya (London: Athlone,
1988), p. 44.
13 Ibid., p. 44.
14 N.J. Ryan, The Making of Modem Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University
Press, 1967), pp. 210-215.
15 Barber, p. 17.
16 Ibid., p. 17.
17 J.C. Jackson, Planters and Speculators: Chinese and European Enterprise in
Malaya (Kuala Lumpur: University Press, 1968), p.6.
18 S. Arasaratnam, Indians in Malaysia and Singapore (Kuala Lumpur: University
Press, 1979), p. 185.
19 Eunice Thio, British Policy in the Malay Peninsula (Singapore: University of
Malaya Press, 1969), pp. 141, 164, 200.
20 John Gullick, Malay Society in the Late Nineteenth Century (Singapore: Oxford
University Press, 1987), p.21.
21 Ryan, pp. 215-217.
22 Ibid., p. 217.
23 Deborah D. Avant, Political Institutions and Military Change (Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1994), pp. 118-119.
24 Taken from Noel Barbers account, pp. 19-20.
25 Ibid., p. 25.
1 Nicholas Tarling, ed., The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, Vol. II.
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 310-313.
2 Ibid., p. 312.
3 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, p. 35.
4 Ibid., p. 35.
5 Ibid., pp. 35-37.
6 Lucien Pye, Guerrilla Communism in Malaya, pp. 36-37, 51.
7 Ibid., p. 51.
8 Thompson, pp. 316-318.
9 Pye, pp. 11,47, 64-65.
10 See Chin Kee Onn, Malaya Upside Down (Singapore: Jitts & Co., 1946).
11 Richard Allen, Malaysia: Prospect and Retrospect (London: Oxford University
Press, 1968), pp. 72-74.
12 Pye, p. 66.
13 See F. Spencer-Chapman, The Jungle is Neutral (London: Windus, 1957.
14 Short, pp. 23-24.
15 Ibid., pp. 23-24, 34.
16 Allen, pp. 74-75.
17 Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, pp. 24-25.
18 Allen, pp. 79-82.
19 Simon Smith, British Relations with the Malay Rulers, pp. 45-47.
20 Allen, pp. 82-86.
21 Ibid., pp. 87-91.
22 Tarling, ed., p. 375.
23 Short, pp. 53-54.
24 Pye, pp. 87, 90-92.
25 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs, pp. 31-33.
26 Pye, pp. 95-102.
27 V.I. Lenin, Marxism and Insurrection, Selected Works, Volume II (Moscow:
Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947), pp. 120-124.
28 Whereas V.I. Lenin believed in urban revolution, i.e. seizing a radio station and
other key points in a city, Mao Tse-tung believed in rural revolution whereby the
revolutionaries ignored the cities and concentrated on the peaceful rural areas until
the city was rendered helpless in the center.
29 Short, pp. 67-74.
30 Pye, pp. 90-91, 98.
31 Short, pp. 77-79.
32 Pye, pp. 58-60, 90-92,105-106.
33 Ibid., pp. 90-91.
34 Ibid., pp. 86-92.
1 Simon Smith, British Relations With The Malay Rulers, pp. 74-75.
2 Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, pp. 118,122-123.
3 See Straits Times, Govern or Get Out, June 17, 1948 editorial, pp. 1-3.
4 Telegram from MacDonald to the Secretary of State, 22 June 1948, No. 82.
5 Short, pp. 79-82.
6 Ibid., pp. 116-117.
7 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs, pp.21-23.
8 See Chapter 2, where I discuss the various ideologies of the insurgents.
9 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, p. 24.
10 Ibid., p. 25.
11 Ibid., pp. 24-27.
12 Thompson, pp. 55-57.
13 Short, p. 323.
14 See Thompsons chapter on Basic Principles of Counter-insurgency.
Though I center on only three distinct principles of counter warfare, Thompsons
variations certainly were foundational.
15 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs, p. 62.
16 Richard Allen, Malaysia: Prospect and Retrospect, pp. 91-95. For a detailed
discussion, see John Coates book entitled, Suppressing Insurgency.
17 Barber, pp. 63-65, 67-68.
18 Edgar OBallance, Malaya: The Communist Insurgent War, 1948-1960 (Hamden:
Archon Books, 1966), pp. 83-86.
19 Barber, pp. 79-80.
20 John Coates, Suppressing Insurgency: An Analysis of the Malayan Emergency,
1948-1960 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 51-55.
21 See Telegram from Gurney to the Secretary of State, 15 October 1948, No. 1277.
22 Short, pp. 149, 187.
23 Ibid., pp. 140-143.
24 See Thompson, p. 112.
25 Short, pp. 140-143.
26 Barber, pp. 63-64.
27 Thompson, pp. 121-122, 142.
28 See Official Report on the Emergency in Malaya (Kuala Lumpur: Government
Press, 1950), pp. 47-48.
29 Ibid., (1951), pp. 3-5.
30 Short, pp. 303-305.
31 Official Report on the Emergency in Malaya, (1951), pp. 3-5.
1 Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, pp. 173-205.
2 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, pp. 56-57, 111-113, 115-
3 See Thompson, Chapters 11 and 12, where he discusses the operational concepts of
the New Villages.
5 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs, pp. 100-101.
6 Federal Legislative Council Paper #33, Resettlement and the Development of the
New Villages in the Federation of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur: Government Press,
1952), pp. 27-51.
7 Short, pp. 365-369.
8 Richard Clutterbuck, The Long, Long War (New York: Frederick A. Praeger,
Publishers, 1966), pp. 62-64.
10 Richard Miers, Shoot To Kill (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), pp. 195-196,198-
11 See Short, p. 507.
12 Ibid., pp. 460-461.
13 Thompson, pp. 50-51.
14 See Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons, Volume 512, 1953, pp. 37-69.;
House of Lords, Volume 175, 1952, pp. 101-107.
15 Sir Donald McGillivary served as the final High Commissioner in Malaya for
thirteen months prior to the first full elections in July 1955.
16 John Coates, Suppressing Insurgency, pp. 132-136.
17 Short, p. 463.
18 Richard Allen, Malaysia: Prospect and Retrospect, pp. 105-111.
19 Barber, pp. 232-238.
20 See Short, pp. 507-508.
21 Noel Barber, The War of the Running Dogs, pp. 252-257.
22 Anthony Short, The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, pp. 507-508.
23 Barber, p. 269.
24 Ibid., p. 270.
25 Short, pp. 507-508.
26 Ibid., p. 504.
27 Barber, p. 257.
1 Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford, Kenneth J. Hagan, American Foreign
Relations: A History Since 1895. Vol. //(Lexington: D.C. Heath & Company, 1995),
2 Robert D. Schulzinger, A Time For War (New York: Oxford University Press,
1997), pp. 42-43.
3 Ho Chi Minhs article entitled, The Path Which Led Me to Leninism, taken from
Marvin E. Gettleman, Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young, H. Bruce Franklin, eds.,
Vietnam And America (New York: Grove Press, 1995), pp. 20-22.
4 George C. Herring, The United States, France, and the First Indochina War, taken
from Andrew Rotters anthology, Light at the End of the Tunnel (Wilmington:
Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1999), pp. 19-21.
5 The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, volume 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp.
6 Schulzinger, pp. 77-78.
7 Ibid., pp. 77-78.
8 Edward G. Lansdale, In The Midst Of Wars (New York: Harper & Row Publishers,
1972), pp. 126, 134.
9 Schulzinger, pp. 6-7.
10 Ngo Vinh Longs article entitled, The Franco-Vietnamese War, 1945-1954:
Origins of US Involvement, taken from Gettleman, pp. 6-15.
11 Schulzinger, pp. 86, 91-94.
12 Sir Robert Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam (New York: David McKay
Company, Inc., 1969), pp. 28-31.
13 Douglas Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era (New York: The Free Press, 1977),
14 Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam, pp. 46-49.
15 Blaufarb, p. 2.
16 Washington, D.C.: Papers Related to the Foreign Relations of the United States
(U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951: Volume I. 1979), p. 191.
17 FRUSA (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950: 1977), p.
18 FRUSA (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951: Volume I.
1979), pp. 192-193.
19 FRUSA (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1952: 1984), p.
20 Ibid., p. 701.
21 Lansdale, pp. 17-30, 34-43.
22 Sir Robert Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, pp. 53, 111-112, 119.
23 Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam, pp. 131-134.
24 Schulzinger, pp. 80-87.
25 Lansdale, pp. 262-267, 288.
26 Lansdale, pp. 188-194.
27 Schulzinger, p. 81.
28 Lansdale, p. 167.
29 Schulzinger, pp. 77-80.
30 Weldon A. Brown, Prelude to Disaster (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975),
31 Blaufarb, pp. 55-57.
32 Richard A. Hunt, Pacification (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 12-15.
33 Schulzinger, p. 94.
34 Ibid., p. 94.
35 Blaufarb, pp. 105, 110.
36 Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam, pp. 122-124,128.
37 Ibid., pp. 126-127.
38 Thompson, Defeating Communist Insurgency, pp. 118-122.
39 Ibid., pp. 56-57,111-113.
40 Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam, pp. 174-175.
41 The Pentagon Papers, Gravel edition, vol. 2, pp. 126-127.
42 Ibid., pp. 124-126.
43 Thompson, No Exit From Vietnam, pp. 163-168.
44 Hunt, pp. 21-22.
45 Hunt, pp. 22-25.
46 Blaufarb, p. 122.
47 Ibid., pp. 122-125.
Clutterbuck, Richard L. The Long, Long War. New York: Frederick A. Praeger,
Federation of Malaya Annual Reports, 1948-1957.
1950: Kuala Lumpur: Government Printing Office, 1975.
1951: Kuala Lumpur: Government Printing Office, 1976.
Lansdale, Major General Edward Geary. In The Midst Of Wars. New York: Harper
& Row, Publishers, 1972.
Lenin, V. I. Marxism and Insurrection. Reprinted in Moscow by the Foreign
Languages Publishing House, 1947.
Miers, Richard. Shoot to Kill. London: Faber and Faber, 1959.
Onn, Chin Kee. Malaya Upside Down. Singapore: Jitts & Co., 1946.
Parliamentary Debates, Commons, Volume 512 (1953).
Parliamentary Debates, Lords, Volume 175 (1952).
Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department History of United States Decisionmaking
on Vietnam. Senator Gravel edition. 4 volumes. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.
Proceedings. Federal Legislative Council Paper #33, Resettlement and the
Development of the New Villages in the Federation of Malaya. Kuala
Lumpur: Government Printing Office, 1952.
Public Records Office (Malaysia). Transcripts of Telegrams sent in Colonies, 1945-
1948: Kuala Lumpur: Government Printing Office, 1973.
Spencer-Chapman, F. The Jungle is Neutral. London: Windus, 1957.
Straits Times editorial. Govern or Get Out. June 17, 1948.
Thompson, Sir Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency. New York: Frederick A.
Praeger, Publishers, 1966.
____________. No Exit From Vietnam. New York: David McKay Company,
U.S. Department of State, Papers Related to the Foreign Relations of the United
1950: Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
1951: Volume I. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.
1952: Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984.
Allen, Richard. Malaysia: Prospect and Retrospect. London: Oxford University
Andaya, Barbara, Leonard Andaya. A History of Malaysia. New York: St. Martins
Arasaratnam, S. Indians in Malaysia and Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford
University Press, 1979.
Avant, Deborah D. Political Institutions and Military Change. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1994.
Barber, Noel. The War of the Running Dogs. New York: Weybright & Talley, 1971.
Blaufarb, Douglas S. The Counterinsurgency Era. New York: The Free Press, 1977.
Brown, Weldon A. Prelude to Disaster. Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975.
Coates, John. Suppressing Insurgency. Boulder: Westview Press, 1992.
Gettleman, Marvin E., Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young, H. Bruce Franklin, editors.
Vietnam And America. New York: Grove Press, 1995.
Gullick, John. Malaya. London: Windus, 1963.
____________. Malay Society in the Late Nineteenth Century. Singapore: Oxford
University Press, 1987.
____________. Indigenous Political Systems of Western Malaya. London: Athlone,
Hanna, Willard A. The Formation of Malaysia. New York: American Universities
Field Staff, Inc., 1964.
Herring, George C. Americas Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-
1975. Third Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 1996.
Heussler, Robert. British Rule in Malaya. Westport: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1981.
Hunt, Richard A. Pacification. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995.
Jackson, J. C. Planters and Speculators: Chinese and European Enterprise in
Malaya. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1968.
Lomperis, Timothy J. From Peoples War to Peoples Rule. Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
OBallance, Edgar. Malaya: The Communist Insurgent War, 1948-1960. Hamden:
Archon Books, 1966.
Paterson, Thomas G., J. Garry Clifford, Kenneth J. Hagan. American Foreign
Relations: A History Since 1895. Vol. II. Lexington: D.C. Heath & Company,
Pye, Lucien. Guerrilla Communism in Malaya. Princeton: Princeton University
Rotter, Andrew J., editor. Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Vietnam War Anthology.
Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1999.
Ryan, N. J. The Making of Modern Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University
Schulzinger, Robert D. A Time For War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Shafer, D. Michael. Deadly Paradigms: The Failure ofU.S. Counterinsurgency
Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Short, Anthony. The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-1960. New York:
Crane, Russak & Company, 1975.
Smith, Simon C. British Relations With The Malay Rulers From Decentralization To
Malayan Independence. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Tarling, Nicholas, ed. The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, Volume II.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Thio, Eunice. British Policy in the Malay Peninsula. Singapore: University of
Malaya Press, 1969.