During the war in Vietnam, the US Army Special Forces were headquartered in Nha Trang. During this time, the Special Forces troops had a close liaison with the CIA and the two organizations worked closely on many intelligence and special operations missions. Their most successful covert intelligence unit “Project GAMMA”, had its mission effectively shut down after Gen. Creighton Abrams, the commander of US troops in Vietnam had many in the unit, as well as the 5th Special Forces Group Commander Col. Robert Rheault arrested on August 6, 1969, for the murder of a Vietnamese double agent.

Background

Project GAMMA also known as B-57 had been running covert ground intelligence teams into Cambodia since late 1967. They used nearly 500 indigenous assets and operated from nine different sites inside South Vietnam using the cover for civil affairs or psychological operations units. It was the finest combat intelligence producing unit in Vietnam. B-57 or GAMMA produced 65 percent of the usable intelligence on Cambodia and 75 percent of the intelligence on South Vietnam. These figures were supplied by Abrams’ own intelligence chief on his staff.

The unit took its orders from the Station Chief of the CIA in Saigon and thru the agency’s satellite office in Nha Trang. Because the members were military, they were nominally under the chain of command of the 5th SFG(A), but Rheault was kept in the dark over much of the unit’s actions as they were on a strict “need to know” basis. Rheault had been in command of 5th Group for only a few weeks when these events took place.

One of the reasons for their success, the GAMMA people and the CIA did not include the South Vietnamese into the “need to know.” Their intelligence apparatus was a sieve and had many North Vietnamese agents in place.