American withdrawal is the primary reflection of Vietnamization while pacification is its primary goal.
Our withdrawal program poses two fundamental issues. First, at what pace can we take out our forces? We base our decisions on the above considerations backed up by various studies, such as a recently completed analysis of the large unit war situation in each of South Vietnam's four military regions.
Then, how do we protect those forces who remain? We are confident that the steadily growing strength of the South Vietnamese and the impact of the sanctuary sweeps are sufficient to handle possible threats. Nevertheless, North Vietnam might try to take advantage of our redeployments by building up its strength in the South and launching new attacks. In this case, I have made clear on a dozen occasions that I would take strong and effective measures to prevent the enemy from jeopardizing our remaining forces.
The other important aspect of Vietnamization is pacification, which in broadest terms concerns the situation in the countryside-physical security popular allegiance and the military, administrative and political effectiveness of both sides. As the enemy's main force units have been pushed farther away from population centers, the task of extending governmental presence has become progressively easier.
n order to assess the progress in the countryside we developed a new indicator to measure the portions of population under government control, under the influence of both sides, and under the control of the other side. The basic criteria are whether a hamlet has adequate defense and a fully functioning government official resident both at day and at night. We devised tough and realistic measures of these two criteria.
In mid-1969 the indicator showed roughly 40 percent of the rural population under South Vietnamese control, 50 percent under the influence of both sides and 10 percent under the control of the other side. Recently these proportions were respectively 65 percent, 30 percent and 5 percent. When South Vietnam's urban population of six million, all under government control, is added to the over seven million rural population in that category, roughly 80 percent of the total population of South Vietnam is controlled by the government. This indicator cannot tell us precisely what is going on in the countryside. It does give us a good grasp of trends -and the trends have been favorable. We are confident that real and substantial progress has been made.
Honest observers can differ on quantitative measures of success in pacification; it is even more difficult to appraise such intangible factors as rural attitudes toward the central government and confidence in its ability to guide the country's affairs. But today more South Vietnamese receive governmental protection and services than at any time in the past six years.
Pacification progress has been slower, however, in certain key provences in the northern half of South Vietnam, closer to the enemy's staging areas in North Vietnam and Laos. The supply bases in southern Laos perform the function of the destroyed sanctuaries in Cambodia. In these northern provinces the ravages of war have been more severe and the Communist infrastructure has been deeply rooted for over twenty years. Here especially the South Vietnamese government must increase its efforts to develop capable forces and implement programs to gain the support of the rural population.