How Naval Intelligence Shaped the Vietnam War

September 12, 2016

During the Vietnam War, U.S. naval intelligence was a very complex affair. Layers of political organization, military strategy, offensive tactics, and logistical operations shaded the struggle to win in South Vietnam. Much of that portion of the Cold War era is now declassified, illuminating the contributions of the naval intelligence establishment.

008-046-00298-3GPO makes available “Knowing the Enemy: Naval Intelligence in Southeast Asia,” part of the U.S. Department of the Navy series of commemorative studies on the Vietnam War.

The U.S. Navy intelligence effort in Vietnam played out in several pivotal events. Intelligence-gathering squadrons informed operations during 1964’s Tonkin Gulf Crisis and 1968’s Tet Offensive. Naval commands closely traced Soviet and Chinese military aid to North Vietnam and surveilled the use of the vital Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. And analysts processed raw data that informed the Linebacker bombing campaigns and pressed North Korea to eventually negotiate terms to end the war.

A SEAL scans the surroundings during his unit's intelligence-gathering mission in a Mekong Delta village.

A SEAL scans the surroundings during his unit’s intelligence-gathering mission in a Mekong Delta village.

Officers and enlisted personnel gathered and analyzed credible intel on the movement of Communist combat units, the location of Viet Cong encampments, and the flow of weapons and ammunition along the Mekong Delta. The communications, electronic, human, and imagery intelligence they collected was “key to the operational and tactical success of naval forces in the Vietnam War.”

Members of the naval intelligence community that routinely “engaged in intelligence collection often did their dangerous but vital work in direct contact with the enemy.” For example, photo reconnaissance pilots flew fast and furiously into oncoming antiaircraft fire for the best pictures—“since anything worth photographing was likely well-defended.” Hardly desk drones, intelligence staffs “fought face-to-face with the enemy” and suffered causalities for it.

Photo intelligence 3rd Class Charles R. Pearson uses his stereoscopic equipment to analyze an aerial image of an enemy site in Vietnam.

Photo intelligence 3rd Class Charles R. Pearson uses his stereoscopic equipment to analyze an aerial image of an enemy site in Vietnam.

U.S. naval intelligence units furnished operational forces “with information that, for the most part, improved their battle performance…and prospects for survival in combat.” More than anything, the cadre of intelligence professionals helped the American military understand the enemy.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

 


Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 8, 2014

Seventy-three years ago this month, the historic attack on Pearl Harbor took place. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched the surprise military attack of the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This landmark event in history led to the United States’ involvement in World War II. Over 350 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes attacked the base. 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 were wounded. U.S. Navy battleships were severely damaged, some sunk; cruisers, destroyers, and other ships were extremely damaged or destroyed; and almost 200 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. This pivotal moment changed the course of U.S. history. The next day, on December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”

GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides free access to a number of Government documents related to Pearl Harbor:

These are just some of the many examples of Federal Government documents that reference the historic Pearl Harbor attack. Explore FDsys for other examples from collections such as: Congressional Bills, Congressional Reports, Public Papers of the Presidents, United States Court Opinions, and more.

Another great resource for documents produced by the Federal Government on Pearl Harbor is GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

View an incredible publication from the Center for Cryptologic History at the National Security Agency called, “Pearl Harbor Revisited: United States Navy Communications Intelligence, 1924 – 1941.”

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First Army photo of the bombing of Hawaii, 7 December 1941; the battleship USS Arizona in background is on fire and sinking.

Another interesting read is also from the National Security Agency’s Center for Cryptologic History is called, “West Wind Clear: Cryptology and the Winds Message Controversy: A Documentary History.” This documents the history behind the theory that the “winds message” was received by the United States as a warning that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

Also of interest is a document from the Combat Studies Institute Press, “Staff Ride Handbook for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941: A Study of Defending America.” The publication allows for study of the battle, not only in context of the Japanese attack, but also in the context of the issues that are relevant to the global war on terror. It is available from GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications as parts 1 and 2.

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Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 USS West Virginia (BB-48) afire forward, immediately after the Japanese air attack. USS Tennessee (BB-43) is on the sunken battleship’s opposite side.

Another publication of note is, “7 December 1941: The Air Force Story,” from the Pacific Air Forces Office of History. This was published for the 50th anniversary of the attack and details the Air Forces’ story from that fateful day.

To learn more about visiting Pearl Harbor historic sites, visit:

You can also learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor here:

Shop the GPO online bookstore World War II collection here.

How can I access these publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.

 


Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy!

October 9, 2014

US Navy logoOctober 13 marks the 239th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Navy. Dating back to the early days of the revolution, the Navy was initially formed when the Continental Congress voted to “fit out” two sailing vessels. The sailing vessels armed with carriage and swivel guns and manned by small crews were sent out in an effort to stop transports that helped supply British forces during the American Revolution. This effort mandated by the Continental Congress on October 13, 1775 established the Continental Navy, and thus is now recognized as the official birthday of the U.S. Navy. Celebrate the remarkable history of the U.S. Navy with these publications currently available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:

008-046-00289-4Naval Documents of the American Revolution, V. 12, American Theater, April 1, 1778-May 31, 1778; European Theater, April 1, 1778-May 31, 1778: This twelfth volume in the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Naval Documents of the American Revolution series tells the story of the Revolutionary War on the water during the period of April to June 1778. In the tradition of the preceding volumes—the first of which was published in 1964—this work synthesizes edited documents, including correspondence, ship logs, muster rolls, orders, and newspaper accounts, that provide a comprehensive understanding of the war at sea in the spring of 1778. The editors organize this wide array of texts chronologically by theater and incorporate French, Italian, and Spanish transcriptions with English translations throughout. Volume 12 presents the essential primary sources on a crucial time in the young republic’s naval history—as the British consolidate their strength in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Americans threaten British shipping in European waters and gain a powerful ally as France prepares to enter the war.

008-046-00202-9Sea Raiders of the American Revolution: The Continental Navy in European Waters: This book discusses three American Revolutionary War captains: Lambert Wickes, Gustavus Conyngham, and John Paul Jones. Each of them lead raids on British waters during the American Revolution.

008-046-00282-7Commerce Raiding: Historical Case Studies, 1755-2009: The book of sixteen case studies examining commerce raiding or guerre de course shows that this strategy has time after time proven itself a most efficient way for sea powers to exert pressure on an opponent, especially a lesser sea power or land power, but that land powers have had little success using this strategy against sea powers. Topics include international piracy, international trade and historical background for the American War of Independence, the Civil War, and both World Wars.

008-046-00263-1Talking About Naval History: A Collection of Essays: This collection of naval history essays provides a wide historical perspective that ranges across nearly four centuries of maritime history. A number of these pieces have been published previously but have appeared in other languages and in other countries, where they may not have come to the attention of an American naval reading audience. This collection is divided into parts that deal with four major themes: the broad field of maritime history; general naval history, with specific focus on the classical age of sail, from the mid-seventeenth century to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815; the wide scope of American naval history from 1775 to the end of the twentieth century; and finally, the realm of naval theory and its relationship to naval historical studies.

008-046-00271-1New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers From the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium: A selection of the best 12 papers presented at the 2009 Naval History Symposium, the 16th in the series. The contributors are all maritime and naval historians, and their contributions range from the U.S. colonial era through the 1960s. They are not tied to a central theme but represent the vitality of studies in naval and maritime history.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is Senior Marketing and Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


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