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MACV and the White House continued to use these lower figures in their public pronouncements.MACV stuck to its lower O/B estimates for several reasons.First, the MACV staff had been claiming for some time that the enemy was suffering great losses in Vietnam, and in mid-1967 predicted that a "crossover" would soon occur when losses would exceed the replacement capacity; an accounting correction in the O/B would muddy the arithmetic behind this claim.Second, as CIA files show, MACV based its O/B estimates heavily on South Vietnamese (GVN) sources.(4) Third, MACV used mainly Confidential-level documents and prisoner interrogation reports, and, in contrast with CIA's practice, did not generally use data derived from intercepted enemy radio signals, or SIGINT.(5) And MACV's position rested on an O/B estimation process whose flaws its own officers could (and, later and privately, did) point out.But the most important regulator of the MACV O/B estimates was the fact that General Westmoreland and his immediate staff were under a strong obligation to keep demonstrating "progress" against the Communist forces in Vietnam.
After years of escalating US investments of lives, equipment, and money, of monthly increases in MACV's tally of enemy casualties, and of vague but constant predictions of impending victory, it would be politically disastrous, they felt, suddenly to admit, even on the basis of new or better evidence, that the enemy's strength was in fact substantially greater than MACV's original or current estimates.