Pacification, Counterinsurgency, & the Phoenix Program

A - F

Andrade, Dale. Ashes to Ashes: The Phoenix Program and the Vietnam War. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990.

Blaufarb, Douglas S. The Counterinsurgency Era: U.S. Doctrine and Performance, 1950 to the Present. New York: Free Press, 1977.

Brown, F.C. "The Phoenix Program." Military Journal 2 (Spring 1979): 19-21, 49. [Petersen]

Cable, Larry E. Conflict of Myths: The Development of American Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Vietnam War. New York: New York University Press, 1986.

Gibson, Library Journal (1986) (via, believes that the author "succeeds in showing that America's failure in Vietnam was the result of faulty military doctrine, not a loss of will." lesson from the past were too often "invalid, leading to an almost total misunderstanding of the struggle in Vietnam." This work is "well researched and well written," and it "strongly challenges the idea that the United States could have won in Vietnam."

Colby, William E., with Peter Forbath. Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978.

Clark comment: This autobiography covers Colby's career from OSS to DCI. Bill Colby remains controversial both inside and outside the Agency.

Constantinides finds Colby's explanation of his "philosophy about operations and the role of an intelligence service in a democratic society ... the book's most significant features.... CIA veterans agree[] on the following: the book faithfully reflected Colby's preference and understanding of action operations, which mirrored the man's strong missionary and reformist strain, and the author was candid about his understanding of counterintelligence."

For Powers, NYTBR (21 May 1978) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 275-282, "Colby's book is important, a serious treatment of a serious subject, but at the same time it is flavorless.... More damaging to the book, however, is the impassive, almost muffled quality to Colby's voice -- the fact that he approaches his main points in a guarded manner -- as well as a certain confusion of purpose. His memoirs are addressed to the public, but they are aimed at his one-time friends and colleagues, in particular Richard Helms."

Colby, William E., with James McCarger. Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America's Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989. 1990. [pb].

Finlayson, Andrew R. [COL/USMC (Ret.)]

1. Marine Advisors with the Vietnamese Provincial Reconnaissance Units, 1966–1970. Quantico, VA: USMC History Division, 2009.

From publisher: "This narrative is a combination of experience, research, and reflection. While other journalistic or academic accounts have been published, this is a narrative of participants." The PRUs "used a small cadre of Marines providing leadership, training, and combat support for large numbers of indigenous troops, and in so doing, capitalized on the inherent strengths of each."

2. "A Retrospective on Counterinsurgency Operations: The Tay Ninh Provincial Reconnaissance Unit and Its Role in the Phoenix Program, 1969-70." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 2 (2007): 59-69. []

The author offers "a snapshot in time and place," which "represents a picture of the way one important and highly effective aspect of Phoenix worked in the years immediately after the 1968 Tet offensive. It is the story of a single operational unit that was part of the larger, country-wide action element of the Phoenix program -- the Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs)."

3. Rice Paddy Recon: A Marine Officer's Second Tour in Vietnam, 1968-1970. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.

Camp, Proceedings 141.6 (Jun. 2015), notes that the author's assignments included with the CIA as a PRU advisor in Tay Ninh Province. As an operations officer, "he was responsible for the employment of small teams into the enemy's backyard to collect tactical intelligence.... [H]e tears apart the myth that the [Phoenix] program was nothing more than an assassination effort."

For Charles D., Studies 59.2 (Jun. 2015), "Rice Paddy Recon should appeal to those interested in Vietnam and Marine Corps history. The book has unique value as a history of a CIA paramilitary operation in Vietnam, and it deserves a place on the bookshelves of today's CIA paramilitary officers."


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