National Geographic : 1967 Jul
Farther on, in Phanna Nikhom, we saw more soldiers and many people with conical hats. These were Vietnamese. There were 40,000 in the Northeast-refugees who had left during the war against the French. In a roadside restaurant hung a picture of North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh, with offerings of incense sticks before it. I asked a Thai official about that picture. He said, "Well, they all have one. He is their hero. As you see, it's a kind of religious worship, and how can we object to that? Everyone is free to worship as he likes." At the end of this sobering ride we entered the great planning room of Mr. Bodaeng Chantasen, Governor of Sakon Nakhon. The setting reminded me of the Ministry of Na tional Development back in Bangkok. Around a large conference table were men represent ing the government's effort to do something about the Communists. I asked what they did. The military MDU, or Mobile Development Unit, built roads, dug wells, helped farmers improve crops, and ministered to the sick. ARD, or Accelerated Rural Development, was Provincial lagers of H firm against a civilian program, doing much the same. Both were advised and also partly financed by American aid officials, and protected by a CPM, or Civilian-Police-Military unit. The latter included an infantry battalion, advised by a U. S. Army captain. "Tomorrow," said the governor, "you can see us on the job." Next morning we drove from the main road to a so-called security road, then to a just finished MDU road, which led into an ARD road still under construction. And so, two dusty hours from Sakon Nakhon, we watched American bulldozers and graders dustily at work, expertly handled by Thai (page 96). The Thai official accompanying us said: "With good American equipment like this, we can make a good road to every village in this province. Then the people will be happy and not think about Communism. But if we should have problems with Communists, we could send in troops in a few minutes and suppress them." The road had nearly reached a village of some 40 houses, and we walked there to buy Grim comic books tell a story of Communist terror; members of a People's Assistance Team scan the material they will distrib ute. The pamphlets relate how the Communists lure young men to North Viet Nam, indoctrinate them, then send them back to subvert their fellow Thai. Meeting resistance, the Reds resort to terror. PAT members train in ) ANDKODACHROMES © N.G.S. the south but serve only leader urges vil- in their native Northeast uai Hat to stand to ensure acceptance by the Communists. the villagers. Giving heart to a village menaced by Communists, a medic examines an expectant mother in Huai Hat. He belongs to a People's Assistance Team, a government unit that bol sters sensitive areas with such serv ices as medical aid, livestock vac 120 cination, and gifts of high-yield seeds.