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November Was Disastrous Month for South Vietnamese Government Forces

Dec. 14, 1963 - A high-level U.S. military officer said today that the month immediately following the Nov. 1 coup d’état that toppled President Ngo Dinh Diem was the most disastrous of the year for South Vietnamese Government forces. Government casualties and weapons losses ran higher in November than in any other month, the military spokesman said. He asserted that this was largely because the Viet Cong guerrillas had deliberately seized the military initiative after the coup and because the change in Government had brought “dislocation and loss of momentum” among the Vietnamese armed forces. However, guerrilla capabilities had been building up for months under the Diem regime. Government forces lost enough weapons in November to arm five 300-man guerrilla battalions, complete with two heavy-weapons companies each. The spokesman said that last month’s weapons losses included more than 1,400 rifles and carbines, about 50 automatic rifles, 20 machine guns, and 10 mortars, practically all American-made. Government forces captured only 455 Viet Cong weapons, some of them homemade. One of the most disturbing setbacks in the eyes of U.S. military men was the deterioration of the military situation in the provinces bordering on Saigon, especially Long An province, where there was reportedly “cause for concern.” Military sources had long warned that guerrilla capabilities had been building up for months in the area under the old regime of the late Ngo Dinh Diem and the Communists were allowed to operate there almost unchallenged by Government forces.


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