Operation Switchback

Thomas L. Ahern

in Vietnam Declassified

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125619
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135342 | DOI:
Operation Switchback

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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

Chapter.  6882 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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