Let the Dogs Bark: The Psychological War in Vietnam, 1960-1968

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Between 1960 and 1968 the United States conducted intensive psychological operations (PSYOP) in Vietnam. To date, no comprehensive study of the psychological war there has been conducted. This dissertation fills that void, describing the development of American PSYOP forces and their employment in Vietnam. By looking at the complex interplay of American, North Vietnamese, National Liberation Front (NLF) and South Vietnamese propaganda programs, a deeper understanding of these activities and the larger war emerges. The time period covered is important because it comprises the initial introduction of American PSYOP advisory forces and the transition to active participation in the war. ... continued below

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Roberts, Mervyn Edwin May 2016.

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  • Roberts, Mervyn Edwin

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Description

Between 1960 and 1968 the United States conducted intensive psychological operations (PSYOP) in Vietnam. To date, no comprehensive study of the psychological war there has been conducted. This dissertation fills that void, describing the development of American PSYOP forces and their employment in Vietnam. By looking at the complex interplay of American, North Vietnamese, National Liberation Front (NLF) and South Vietnamese propaganda programs, a deeper understanding of these activities and the larger war emerges.
The time period covered is important because it comprises the initial introduction of American PSYOP advisory forces and the transition to active participation in the war. It also allows enough time to determine the long-term effects of both the North Vietnamese/NLF and American/South Vietnamese programs. Ending with the 1968 Tet Offensive is fitting because it marks both a major change in the war and the establishment of the 4th Psychological Operations Group to manage the American PSYOP effort.
This dissertation challenges the argument that the Northern/Viet Cong program was much more effective that the opposing one. Contrary to common perceptions, the North Vietnamese propaganda increasingly fell on deaf ears in the south by 1968. This study also provides support for understanding the Tet Offensive as a desperate gamble born out of knowledge the tide of war favored the Allies by mid-1967. The trend was solidly towards the government and the NLF increasingly depended on violence to maintain control.
The American PSYOP forces went to Vietnam with little knowledge of the history and culture of Vietnam or experience conducting psychological operations in a counterinsurgency. As this dissertation demonstrates, despite these drawbacks, they had considerable success in the period covered. Although facing an experienced enemy in the psychological war, the U.S. forces made great strides in advising, innovating techniques, and developing equipment.
I rely extensively on untapped sources such as the Foreign Broadcast Information Service transcripts, Captured Document Exploitation Center files, and access to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Archives. Additionally, I have digitized databases such as the Hamlet Evaluation System and Terrorist Incident Reporting System for Geographic Information System software analysis. The maps provide examples of the possibilities available to the historian using these datasets.

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UNT Theses and Dissertations

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  • May 2016

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 28, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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  • July 25, 2016, 12:32 p.m.

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Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Roberts, Mervyn Edwin. Let the Dogs Bark: The Psychological War in Vietnam, 1960-1968, dissertation, May 2016; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc849646/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .