Volunteers for the Viet Cong

by Frank H. Denton

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Abstract

An analysis of Rand interviews with captured or defected Viet Cong to determine how early VC volunteers differed from draftees, based on their personal histories before joining the VC, and what, if any, modifications in government policy might have prevented them from volunteering. Volunteers were of several types: those who (1) had either large or zero land holdings; (2) were better educated; (3) had average or higher intelligence; (4) had experienced GVN mistreatment; (5) had relatives in VC units or none in GVN units; (6) lived in VC-favoring areas; (7) had complaints about life in general; (8) had trouble with society; (9) came from broken homes. The primary reasons for volunteering were, in order of importance, personal socioeconomic frustration; GVN oppression; VC recruitment devices; issues of social justice; pressure of family or friends; miscellaneous reasons. The government could have exercised some control over those who suffered from GVN oppression and those unable to obtain security or satisfaction in life. The frustrations and malpractices did not in themselves create volunteers. But, given the presence of what was considered by some to be a legitimate and patriotic organization, which persistently recruited in the name of Vietnamese unity and nationalism, such experiences did help to create voluntary dissenters from the existing order.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

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