The Phoenix Program (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Phượng Hoàng, a word related to fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix) was a military, intelligence, and internal security program designed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and coordinated with the Republic of Vietnam's (South Vietnam) security apparatus during the Vietnam War. Vietnamese ( tiếng Việt, or less commonly Việt ngữ) formerly known under French colonization as Annamese ( see Annam) Fenghuang are mythological Chinese birds that reign over all other birds China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National The phoenix ( Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ phoínix is a mythical sacred firebird in ancient mythologies starting with the Greek and later the near as long as it used to be several months ago It has been actively summarized and split into sub-articles and there is a dynamic talk page discussion of all "RVN" redirects here RVN is also the former callsign of a TV station in Wagga Wagga New South Wales Australia The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, or the Vietnam Conflict, occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia It was in operation between 1967 and 1972, but similar efforts existed both before and after this. The program was designed to identify and "neutralize" (via infiltration, capture, or assassination) the civilian infrastructure supporting the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF or derogatively, Viet Cong) insurgency.
In South Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s there was a secret network, which the U. S. intelligence services called the Viet Cong infrastructure (VCI). This network provided the political direction and control of the Front's (and North Vietnam's) war within the villages and hamlets of the south.
By 1967 this network numbered somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 members throughout South Vietnam. Almost every village had a cell made up of a Communist Party secretary; a finance and supply unit; and information and culture, social welfare, and proselytizing sections to gain recruits from among the civilian population. The members reported up the chain of command, which, in turn, took orders from the Lao Dong Party Central Committee in North Vietnam. The Communist Party of Vietnam ( Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam) is the currently ruling as well as the only legal A preferred NLF tactic was to kill carefully selected government officials in order to drive the Saigon regime out of the region. 
The VCI laid down caches of food and equipment for regular force troops coming from border sanctuaries; it provided guides and intelligence for the People's Army of Vietnam; it conscripted personnel to serve in local force (militias) and main force mobile combat units of the NLF, and levied taxes to facilitate the administration of a rudimentary civil government. The Vietnam People's Army ( VPA) (Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam is the official name of the Armed forces of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
In areas loyal to the Saigon government, protection against the North Vietnamese forces, or even NLF guerrillas, was often compromised because village chiefs were assassinated, terrorist bombings took place, or supporters of the government would be executed. During 1969, for example, over 6,000 South Vietnamese citizens were killed (over 1,200 in selective assassinations) and 15,000 wounded. Among the dead were some 90 village chiefs, 240 hamlet chiefs and officials.
In 1967 all pacification efforts had come under the authority of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, or CORDS. CORDS had many different programs within it, including the creation of a peasant militia which by 1971 had a strength of about 500,000. 
As early as 1964 the CIA used counter terror teams to seek out and destroy NLF cadre hiding in the villages. In 1967, as part of CORDS, the Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation Program (ICEX) was created. The purpose of the organization centered on gathering information on the VCI. It was renamed Phoenix later in the same year. The South Vietnamese program was called Phụng Hoàng (or Phượng Hoàng), after a mythical bird that appeared as a sign of prosperity and luck. Fenghuang are mythological Chinese birds that reign over all other birds The 1968 Tet offensive showed the importance of the Viet Cong infrastructure, and the Communist-led military setback made it easier for the new program to be implemented. The Tet Offensive was a military campaign conducted between 30 January and 23 September 1968, by forces of the Vietcong, or National Front for By 1970 there were 704 U. S. Phoenix advisers throughout South Vietnam. 
Officially, Phoenix operations continued until December 1972, although certain aspects continued until the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. 
The chief aspect of the program was the collection of intelligence information. VCI members would then be neutralized (captured, converted, or killed). Emphasis for the enforcement of the operation was placed on local government militia and police forces, rather than the military, as the main operational arm of the program. 
Neutralization was not arbitrary but took place under special laws that allowed the arrest and prosecution of suspected communists, but only within the legal system. Moreover, to avoid abuses such as phony accusations for personal reasons, or to rein in overzealous officials who might not be diligent enough in pursuing evidence before making arrests, the laws required three separate sources of evidence to convict any individual targeted for neutralization. If a suspected VCI was found guilty, he or she could be held in prison for two years, with renewable two-year sentences totaling up to six years. 
According to MACV Directive 381-41, the intent of Phoenix was to attack the VCI with a "rifle shot rather than a shotgun approach to target key political leaders, command/control elements and activists in the VCI. "
Heavy-handed operations—such as random cordons and searches, large-scale and lengthy detentions of innocent civilians, and excessive use of firepower—had a negative effect on the civilian population. It was also acknowledged that capturing VCI was more important than killing them.  (In practice it was often easier to kill them than to capture them alive. )
According to one view, Phoenix was a clear success. Between 1968 and 1972 Phoenix neutralized 81,740 NLF members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large section taken out of the VCI, and between 1969 and 1971 the program was quite successful in destroying the infrastructure in many important areas. By 1970, Communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government’s pacification program and specifically targeted Phoenix officials. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, Communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their assassins to “kill 400 persons” deemed to be government “tyrant[s]” and to “annihilate” anyone involved with the pacification program. This article is about the city of Đà Nẵng For the Vietnam War era air base see Da Nang Air Base or Đà Nẵng International Airport. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix. In the end, it was a direct conventional North Vietnamese military invasion, not the guerrilla insurgents, that defeated the South Vietnamese. 
Others view the program less favorably, arguing that ultimately, the entire counterinsurgency in Vietnam was a failure for a variety of reasons: clearly, one critical factor was that the communists had established a large and effective support cadre throughout South Vietnam before a coordinated effort was undertaken to eradicate it. While indications are that Phoenix achieved considerable success in damaging that infrastructure, it was too little and too late to change the war’s overall course. 
The Phoenix Program is sometimes seen as an "assassination campaign," and has been criticized as an example of human-rights atrocities alleged to have been committed by the CIA or other allied organizations, including U. S. Military Intelligence. There was eventually a series of U. S. Congressional hearings. Consequently, the military command in Vietnam issued a directive that reiterated that it had based the anti-VCI campaign on South Vietnamese law, that the program was in compliance with the laws of land warfare, and that U. S. personnel had the responsibility to report breaches of the law. Supporters argue that the primary intent was to capture, not to kill, in order to gain further information. However, decentralized operations in an uncertain, ambiguous environment did lead to abuses.  In many instances, rival Vietnamese would report their enemies as "VC" in order to get U. S. troops to kill them (Myra MacPherson, Long Time Passing, New York: Signet, 1984, p. 625. ) In many cases Phung Hoang chiefs were incompetent bureaucrats who used their positions to enrich themselves. Phoenix tried to address this problem by establishing monthly neutralization quotas, but these often led to fabrications or, worse, false arrests. In some cases, district officials accepted bribes from the NLF to release certain suspects.