The Phoenix Program (
The program was designed to identify and destroy the
Throughout the program, Phoenix "neutralized" 81,740 people suspected of VC membership, of whom 26,369 were killed and the rest surrendered or were captured. A number of criticisms arose regarding the Phoenix Program, including the unknown number of neutral civilians killed, the nature of the program (which critics have labelled as a "civilian assassination program"), the use of torture and other coercive methods, and the program being exploited for personal politics. Nevertheless, the program was described as suppressing Viet Cong political and revolutionary activities. Disclosure of the program publicly had caused significant criticisms, including congressional hearings, and the CIA was pressured to shut-down the Phoenix Program, although a similar program "Plan F-6" continued under
The major two components of the program were Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected VC members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on VC activities. Many of these people were taken to interrogation centers and were tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area. The information extracted at the centers was given to military commanders, who would use it to task the PRU with further capture and assassination missions. The program's effectiveness was measured in the number of VC members who were "neutralized", a euphemism meaning imprisoned, persuaded to defect, or killed.
The program was in operation between 1965 and 1972, and similar efforts existed both before and after that period. By 1972, Phoenix operatives had "neutralized" 81,740 suspected VC operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed.
The interrogation centers and PRUs were developed by the CIA's
In 1967 all "pacification" efforts by the United States had come under the authority of the
In 1967, as part of CORDS, the Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation Program (ICEX) was created, from a plan drafted by