Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation WESTPLOY

CF Overseas Operations have most often operated within the construct of an international mandate. As such, the International Information is presented first in order to provide the context of the Canadian Operation (displayed second). Eventually, all rotations associated with the particular Canadian operation will also be displayed.

WESTPLOY

International Information

International Operation Name: International Commission for Control and Supervision

International Mission Name: International Commission for Control and Supervision (ICCS)

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Asia

Location: Vietnam

Mission Date: 29 January 1973 - 30 April 1975

Mission Mandate:

To provide a neutral party to investigate compliance and to conduct monitor the enforcement of the terms of the Paris Peace Agreement

Mission/Operation Notes:

The Geneva Accords of July 1954 had foreseen the creation of a single, united Vietnamese state, but disagreements over the election process that year resulted in the de facto creation of two separate Vietnams: The Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) backed by the united States, and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) backed by the Soviet Union. Almost immediately, communist and populist groups in the south supported by the northern regime, began a guerrilla campaign aimed at the forcible reunification of the country under Hanoi’s authority. That insurgency grew in scope until open war broke out in 1965, when both the United States (along with other allies) and North Vietnam entered the conflict in a major (and public) way. By 1972, large tracts of South Vietnam were controlled by the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (Viet Cong) or the North Vietnamese army, the South’s ability to retain control of the rest was clearly diminishing, and the United States was anxious to negotiate a peace agreement that would allow it to withdraw its forces from Southeast Asia “with honor.” As a result, on 27 January 1973, after years of on and-off discussions, the “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” was signed in Paris by the United States, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (Viet Cong). This agreement created a Joint Military Commission, composed of the four signatories to the peace agreement, to oversee the implementation of the agreement and to settle disputes arising from it. The agreement also created the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) to act as a neutral party in investigating disputes and in supervising some aspects of the agreement.

A second international conference held in Paris from 26 February to 2 March 1973 created the reporting mechanisms for the ICCS and established its rules of conduct. Canada, Hungary, Indonesia, and Poland, the four nations that would form the ICCS, were party to the negotiations and signed the agreement on 2 March.

The ICCS, with its 1160 personnel, had its headquarters in Saigon, in fact taking over the headquarters of the former International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC). Seven teams were set up to supervise prisoner of war and civilian detainee exchanges, three teams for regional operations, and five teams to carry out such other duties as were required. In addition, seven regional headquarters across South Vietnam would supervise the operations of forty field teams, each of which comprised representatives of all four ICCS nations. These teams were to have freedom of movement in order to carry out their tasks and would have diplomatic status. Twelve of these teams were to inspect designated points of entry in South Vietnam for restricted war materiel, while two more were available for inspections at a point of entry to be designated by South Vietnam. Each ICCS team worked with a local Joint Military Team (JMT), part of the JMC. The ICCS teams were expected to provide impartial reports on incidents to these JMT.

The active roles of the ICCS were to assist in the exchange of captured and detained personnel and to monitor the flow of restricted war materiel into South Vietnam. The ICCS would also monitor and investigate all breaches of the cease-fire brought to their attention by any parties to the agreement, by the JMT, or through its own efforts. An additional role, but one in which Canada had no opportunity to take part, was to monitor the scheduled all-party elections in South Vietnam.

In the first 60 days, the seven prisoner of war teams visited locations across North and South Vietnam, supervising the release of over 32,000 POWs. The release of civilian detainees was more problematic as both North and South Vietnam were determined to gain the maximum political and propaganda advantage from these releases. As a result, only a small percentage of the detainees were actually released. When it came to monitoring the influx of restricted materiel, while South Vietnamese authorities were cooperative the Viet Cong were not, and that prevented the ICCS from carrying out its assigned duties fairly and equitably. The same was true of its cease-fire monitoring role: in the first six months there were at least 18,000 reported violations, causing 76,000 casualties, just four thousand casualties short of the total recorded in the last six months of actual fighting.

The ICCS investigated 1,081 complaints during the period that Canada was a member. South Vietnam laid ninety-five percent of these complaints, but few were investigated because of the same requirement for unanimity that had hamstrung the ICSC: all too often, the Polish or Hungarian representatives concluded that the South Vietnamese had actually been responsible for the violation and that further investigation and rapportage was therefore unwarranted. In short, few reports were written. The JMC were equally ineffective as political machinations prevented their reaching any decisions regarding interpretations of the Paris Agreement when questions arose.

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Canadian Forces (CF) Information (WESTPLOY)

Name: WESTPLOY

Date: 3 March 1973 - 31 July 1973

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement:

To standby in case the Canadian Contingent of the ICCS required emergency evacuation

CF Mission/Operation Notes:

On 27 January 1973, the United States and the Vietnamese governments signed an agreement creating a cease-fire in the Vietnam War, during which American forces would withdraw. Canada, Hungary, Indonesia, and Poland were invited to participate as neutral monitors to the process under the name International Commission on Control and Supervision (ICCS).

In late January Canada began to send the first of 290 military and civilian personnel to Vietnam under the name Operation GALLANT, but having participated in the ICCS predecessor -- the International Commission for Supervision and Control Vietnam -- Canada suspected that the ICCS would probably not be an effective operation, and reserved the right to withdraw.

Once the Canadian contingent began active preparations to deploy to Vietnam it was realised that conditions there might produce a requirement for their emergency evacuation from the country. The Military Component, Canadian Delegation (MCCD), as the CF contingent to ICCS was named, suggested on 12 February that evacuation by air was the favoured choice, but because there was no guarantee that Vietnamese airspace would be safe, sea evacuation was the obvious alternative. Accordingly, one Canadian ship was to be deployed to the region on a stand-by basis. HMCS Terra Nova was the first ship selected: ordered to return to Esquimalt “with dispatch” on 26 January, she prepared for the deployment over the course of the weekend and sailed on 29 January under the name WESTPLOY 1/73. HMCS Terra Nova was ordered to remain within 36 hours sailing of any of the designated Vietnamese evacuation ports, but rather than simply maintain station, she was also ordered to exercise with whatever American, Australian, British, or New Zealand warships she might encounter. Provisioning would be carried out at Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Subic Bay in the Philippines as required, supplemented by 437 Squadron Boeings transporting spare parts, mail, and miscellaneous other supplies. Although the initial evacuation plan had been prepared by the MCCD in consultation with US naval authorities on 12 February, it was updated by the MCCD working with Terra Nova and, later, Kootenay.

HMCS Terra Nova was in her operational area by 3 March and, as instructed, conducted various exercises with Australian, British and New Zealand ships during her three month tour. When not in company with these vessels, she conducted readiness training. As originally ordered, she rendezvoused with her replacement, HMCS Kootenay, on 6 June in the Straits of San Bernardino between the islands of Luzon and Samar in the Philippines. In a four-hour turnover conducted at sea, Terra Nova briefed Kootenay before heading back to Esquimalt.

HMCS Kootenay had left Esquimalt on 14 May, on Westploy 2/73. Kootenay’s routine was similar to that of Terra Nova, exercising with American and Australian naval vessels, and assisting broken-down fishermen. When the Canadian continent left Saigon on 31 July, she was just fifty miles off the coast, the closest either ship was allowed to approach Vietnam. Kootenay then proceeded home to Esquimalt.