This sounds familiar

For my birthday, my GF got me a book reprinting the New York Time from April 14, 1971.

I get a kick out of reading those old new stories, flipping through the classifieds, and looking at old Gimbel's ads.

This story struck me as oddly familiar, however:

South Vietnam's Police Force Gaining in Size and Status as U. S. Increases Aid

Saigon, South Vietnam, April 13 -- The South Vietnamese national police force is quickly expanding in size and influence here, largely because of increased American financial support and an organizational change that moved the police command to the highest levels of the Government.

The South Vietnamese police have long been rated as one of the weakest forces in the pacification program. Corruption among the police is considered to be widespread, and morale, because of low wages, is not good.

An independent report submitted to President Nixon last year cited South Vietnamese police ineffectiveness as a threat to the long-range stability of the Saigon Government.

United States officials continually stress that the national police must play a vital role in the program designed to track down and kill or capture Vietcong political officials. As the Americans leave, the American officials say, more and more of the security programs will fall to the police and they are are being equipped with highly advanced technical devices with which they will attempt to track down Vietcong agents.

Increase in Funds

American funds funneled into the national police through the military-civilian advisory agency known as CORDS have been increase this year by more than 25 per cent -- from $20.9 -million in 1970 to $27.3-million.


Among the less-controversial programs of the national police is the identification once, introduced late in 1968 with American help. All South Vietnamese who reach the age of 15 are required to carry plastic identification cards, which are consider by American advisers to be part of the "most fool-proof classification system yet developed."

According to one high-ranking public safety adviser, more than 18,000 South Vietnamese are employed in the computerized classification program which is based on Federal Bureau of Investigation techniques.

The South Vietnamese police also carefully control the movement of people and resources throughout the country. Hundreds of police check points are set up on the main arteries of the countryside and on city streets.

The checkpoints, some of which are permanent, while other are mobile, annoy most Vietnamese. But as one public safety adviser said, "We are well aware that the Vietnamese dislike being checked so much, but we are still fighting a war here."

The major problem for the national police, aside from public criticism and enemy activities, is corruption.

The policeman's basic monthly salary is not enough to allow him to live without working at another job or taking bribes. A policeman without a family earned the equivalent of $12 a month in real buying power; a policeman with a family of four earns $18.

The portion of the article I excised for space focused on the grow in the police force and its role beyond urban areas

Obviously Iraq is not Vietnam. The situations in both places are much more complicated than that. But there are fascinating parallels between policy challenges the Johnson/Nixon and Bush administrations faced in both places.

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