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Vietnam DeclassifiedThe CIA and Counterinsurgency$
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Thomas L Ahern

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125619

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125619.001.0001

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Operation Switchback

Operation Switchback

Chapter:
(p.91) Chapter 5 Operation Switchback
Source:
Vietnam Declassified
Author(s):

Thomas L. Ahern

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813125619.003.0006

The first and largest of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary programs in Vietnam, the Citizens' (later Civilian) Irregular Defense Groups, was only six months old when Washington decided to transfer U.S. management from CIA to General Paul Harkins's Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) John A. McCone suggested that it may be advisable for the Department of Defense (DOD) to take the lead in CIA counterinsurgency programs, with CIA in support, rather than the reverse situation which now obtains. Paul Nitze, assistant secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, concurred, and the DCI asked the station to identify paramilitary assets appropriate for transfer. Secretary Robert McNamara approved transferring DOD funds to the agency at a meeting in July 1962. The same meeting coined the term Operation Switchback, a misnomer that implied previous DOD custody of the affected programs.

Keywords:   CIA, paramilitary programs, Paul Harkins, MACV, John A. McCone, Department of Defense, counterinsurgency programs, Paul Nitze, Operation Switchback

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