1959

April 4 President Eisenhower makes his first commitment to maintain South Vietnam as a separate National State.

May 6 Diệm’s 10/59 Law empowers military tribunals to impose a death sentence on anyone alleged to belong to the Việt Minh, Lao Dong or any other organization alleged to be Communist.

 

Article 1

The sentence of death, and confiscation of the whole or part of his property, will be imposed on whoever commits or attempts to commit one of the following crimes with the aim of sabotage, or upon infringing upon the security of the State, or injuring the lives or property of the people:

  1. Deliberate murder, food poisoning, or kidnapping.
  1. Destruction, or total or partial damaging, of … objects by means of explosives, fire, or other means

Article 3

Whoever belongs to an organization designed to help to prepare or to perpetuate crimes enumerated in Article 1, or takes pledges to do so, will be subject to the same sentences.

By the end of the year 40,000 southerners are placed in internment camps for their opposition to Diệm.

April A branch of Lao Dong (Workers Party of Vietnam — Hồ Chí Minh, secretary-general) is finally formed in the South. This is a result of the pressure from Việt Minh Communists and the Chinese faction of the Communist party in Hanoi (Hà Nội) — at this point there is a very real Sino-Soviet split, with the Soviets preaching peaceful coexistence and the Maoists accusing the Soviets of “revisionism”.

May 25 Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) extends the advisory and training operation in Vietnam: Provide MAAG (American Military Assistance Advisory Group) advisors down to and including Infantry Regimental level and Artillery, Armored and separate Marine Battalion level. Place the advisors in the field with the HQ of the units being advised in order to furnish advice on the preparation of daily plans, monitor the day-to-day conduct of operations and render on the spot advice based on the situation as it exists at the time. This will include tactical advice as well as that provided on logistical matters, including medical support problems, the evacuation of the wounded, transportation problems, road and rail construction, bridging supply procedures, maintenance of equipment etc. Evaluate Vietnamese requests for additional equipment, road building materials, heavy engineering equipment etc. in the light of the direct observations of the on-the-spot advisors as well as upon other information available.

Evaluate the level of cooperation and coordination among Vietnamese Army, Navy and Air Force elements and take necessary corrective action with Vietnamese officials in those instances where deficiencies are reported by on-the-spot advisors.

The activities of MAAG (American Military Assistance Advisory Group) Advisors must be limited to advisory functions and under no circumstances shall they participate directly in combat operations nor will they accompany units on anti-guerrilla operations in areas immediately adjacent to national boundaries.

July 8 Guerrillas with small arms and home-made bombs attack the U.S. 7th Infantry Advisory Detachment at Biên Hòa. American advisors Major Dale Buis and Master Sergeant Chester Ovnard, who were watching a movie in the mess hall, are killed along with a Vietnamese mess attendant and an ARVN soldier. One guerrilla is also killed.

 

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