Prominent Hoover Institution, Stanford University, scholar Hisao-ting Lin has in Wilson Center’s CWIHP e-Dossier no. 70 (“Taiwan’s Cold War in South East Asia”, April 2016) highlighted Taiwan aid to South Vietnam. It is the history of the building up of Saigon’s political warfare capacity. Excerpts below:
Both Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo believed that Taiwan’s national security could best be preserved if anticommunism continued to be a predominant ideological force in East Asia. Therefore Taiwan’s military and intelligence cooperation with its neighbors threatened by communism was important.
Republic of China General Wang Sheng…had joined Kuomintang (KMT) in 1939, Wang had joined the KMT and had been sent to join the Three Principles of the People Youth Corps training course run by Ching-kuo. After the course, Wang was chosen to work for Chiang, which he did for the next fifty years, including the care of Ching-kuo’s twin sons….
In the 1950s, Wang established the precursor to the General Political Warfare College, the elite training school for the army and party cadres. Second in command of the civil-military programs, welfare, and services section of Chiang Ching-kuo’s cadre system, Wang’s main task was laying the foundation for the China Youth Corps under Ching-kuo’s leadership. He spent most of the 1950s and 1960s training army political cadres, helping the Chiangs reinforce their anticommunist ideology into every corner of Taiwan’s military.
Wang Sheng made his name as a prominent anticommunist in the Cold War’s Asian theater when he was slated to export and transplant Taiwan’s political warfare system to South Vietnam.
In early 1961, at the request of Ngo Dinh Diem, the president of South Vietnam, Wang led seven Chinese Nationalist officers in inaugurating a series of anticommunist political and psychological training programs in Saigon to strengthen anticommunist ideology and consciousness among South Vietnamese forces.
The officer corps soon became actively engaged in reforming South Vietnamese military education, training, intelligence, propaganda, and psychological warfare… The program, which subsequently became an official military advisory group, signified the beginning of what Chiang Kai-shek described as an interdependent anticommunist alliance between Taiwan and South Vietnam. In the spring of 1975, as Saigon was about to be captured by the North Vietnamese, Taiwan was the only country in the world still having an unofficial military advisory group there to assist South Vietnam.
Comment: Psychological warfare during the Vietnam War was an important part of the defense against North Vietnamese aggression. The unpublished book manuscript “Victory in the Mind” of Swedish author Bertil Haggman provides details on Allied information and psychological warfare activities. It includes the aspect of the safe-conduct passes used to persuade communist troops and guerrillas to defect. In general the leaflet war of the Allies played an important part as well as the radio war and the loudspeaker war. The Psychological Warfare Operations The U.S. Military Assistance Command (MACV) was aware of the importance of psychological warfare operations ( PSYOP). Throughout the war the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Organization (JUSPAO) supervised, coordinated and evaluated all U.S. PSYOP in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It also provided the Republic Vietnam (South Vietnam) with support programs.