NPI's Homeland Security Profile


Problem(s): By early 1961, the Viet-Cong (communist forces) were using sustained terrorist tactics to gain control of a strategic region of the Highlands of South Viet-Nam otherwise known as the II Corps area. Primitive Montagnard tribes ---primarily the Rhade and Jarai tribes--- living in some 60 remote villages, in a tropical jungle environment, occupied this part of Viet-Nam. ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet-Nam) forces had met with repeated failure in attempts to stop terrorist attacks by the Viet-Cong. U.S. Military Advisors, from the MAAG (Military Advisory Assistance Group), recommended changes in military tactics. The ARVN attempted these changes without success. Our U.S. Country Team, under the direction of Ambassador Fredrick Nolting, was engaged in a search for new solutions for the GVN (Govt. of S.Viet-Nam).

Planning the Solution(s): David A. Nuttle, an IVS (Intl. Voluntary Services) volunteer, was helping to provide “aid” to the Montagnard --and was aware of the many Viet-Cong terrorists attacks on Montagnard villages. Nuttle had been meeting with U.S. Army Col. Gilbert Layton to explore ways to improve security in Montagnard villages. Col. Layton agreed with Nuttle’s observation that Vietnamese soldiers (ARVN forces) from the lowlands could never effectively secure Montagnard villages located in a remote highland jungle area. Historically the Vietnamese and Montagnard were (and remained) traditional enemies. The idea, developed by Col. Layton and Nuttle was to assist the Montagnard so they could provide their own security with volunteer defense forces.

Preparing to Implement the Solution(s): At the request of Ambassador Nolting, Nuttle accepted a new assignment to help plan, implement, and manage a homeland security project for 60 Montagnard villages. Col. Layton asked for U.S. Army Special Forces to direct the training of village militia. The CIA would become the sponsor of what was to be a demonstration civilian defense effort. William Colby, the CIA Station Chief, named this effort the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Program. This effort was also known as the Buon Enao Project named for the Rhade village where it started. The Chief of Buon Enao, Y-Ju, was a personal friend of Nuttle’s and was willing to begin an experiment to determine if the Rhade could effectively defend themselves.

The Solution(s): A combination of self-help, self-sufficiency projects provided very effective community development while providing motivation to support the new CIDG effort. Extensive intelligence operations were used to provide early warning of specific Viet-Cong attacks. Secure shelters were developed so that families could quickly find protection in the event of an attack. A volunteer village militia was trained and armed to defend villages. Armed response teams (Strike Forces) were organized to provide extra firepower for any village under attack. In the first year, 60 villages were organized and over 240,000 people fully protected from Viet-Cong terrorism. The Montagnard CIDG units were so effective, in defeating the Viet-Cong, that (in Oct 1962) South Viet-Nam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem ordered the program discontinued. Diem feared that the Montagnard would become a political threat. Despite this unfortunate ending, Nuttle has used the lessons learned to create other effective homeland security efforts.