The United States was not the only force to conduct psychological warfare.
The United States was not the only force to conduct psychological warfare. The VC/NVA also employed psy ops, albeit on a much smaller
scale. Instead of using aircraft to disseminate their leaflets, the VC simply placed them on the jungle trails. I happened upon some
of these leaflets while on patrol and stuck them in my back pack. (Refer to the 'I'm convinced' page.)
This web page will take a look at 'the leaflet war' from the United States' perspective.
Let us look at some of the American efforts. Please bear in mind that these examples do not represent the entire American psy ops campaigns. Rather, these are just the instances which I am familiar with.
The 'bombs from nowhere' web page addresses the Arc Light strikes as a psy ops weapon. The US did, in fact, formally use this aspect of the air war in their psy ops leaflet campaign. Although I did not personally see any of these leaflets, the graphic and the link below indicate their existence.
For additional info on Arc Light psy ops leaflets, check this site.
The following pictures are scans of propaganda leaflets I collected while on patrol. These leaflets were produced and distributed as part of a psy ops mission.
This leaflet was widely distributed throughout our operational area. Aircraft would drop these over hamlets and villages. Some of the major trails were also targets of the leaflet drops. The 'Safe Conduct' leaflet was intended to allow any VC or NVA soldier to 'turn himself in'. Since the Vietnamese had been fighting someone for the past twenty years, there were few in their ranks who were wavering in their loyalty. This program was most successful against the VC who were less trained and less indoctrinated than the NVA 'regulars'. Was this program successful? I do not know. I know of no instance wherein a Vietnamese national with a 'Safe Conduct' pass in their hand walked up to a member of an allied force and surrendered. Even if one had done that, there was no guarantee that they would feel the same way the following week. They could simply put the black pajamas back on and no one would ever know.
Although not exactly a psy ops tool, this leaflet tried to gain support from the villagers and 'Yards'. Information gleaned in this manner would be called 'military intelligence'. It asked the Vietnamese for their help by giving us information on VC movements, strength, and equipment. Of course, any Vietnamese caught (or suspected of) giving the US information would be killed by the VC. Would the same leverage work for us? Would the threat of death provide enough incentive for villagers and/or VC to 'spill the beans'?
There were many rumors around I Corps of the 'Can you fly?' interrogation technique. To use this technique you put four or five VC prisoners,
a South Vietnamese officer, and a stenographer in a chopper and climbed to 1000 feet. While the chopper was climbing, the South Vietnamese
officer asked direct questions about enemy activity. Typically, he would get no answers. Once the chopper leveled off at 1000 feet, one of
the prisoners was again asked about military information. If the prisoner offered no information, he was thrown out of the chopper. The other
prisoners were asked if they wanted to fly or answer questions. The stenographer became quite busy.
It should be stated that I have no knowledge of this ever happening. But back then, I was all for it.
You don't have to be able to read to understand this leaflet. The picture on the left shows a man in a (US-supplied) South Vietnamese uniform
helping a peasant load rice into his container for his family. The background for the picture is the South Viet Nam flag. Notice -- there is no
The picture on the right portrays a VC soldier taking from the villager at gunpoint. The colors of the North Vietnamese flag form the background for the picture.
Check out the three other Psy Ops pages for more propaganda information.