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Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Essay Example

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Essay

Abstract

The objective of this study is to examine the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam and to describe their role in the Vietnam War including accomplishments and failures. This work will answer the question of the affect on the outcome of the war of Military Assistance Command in Vietnam.

U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

Objective

The objective of this study is to examine the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam and to describe their role in the Vietnam War including accomplishments and failures. This work will answer the question of the affect on the outcome of the war of Military Assistance Command in Vietnam.

Introduction

The United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, (MACV) was established on the 8th day of February 1962 as a “unified command subordinate to the commander-in-chief Pacific. MACV’s mission was that of “assisting the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces to maintain internal security against subversion and insurgency and to resist external aggression.” (Skytroopers Org, 2011) MACV was involved in two primary activates: (1) seeking to engage the enemy in combat on the ground and territorial waters of the Republic of Vietnam; and (2) to provide assistance to the constitutional government of Vietnam in building a free society capable of defending itself. (Skytroopers Org, 2011)

Establishment of the MACV

In October 1961, the idea first occurred of the establishment of a unified military command in South Vietnam. The Military Assistance Advisory Group is reported to have reorganized following President Kennedy’s sending personnel and funds to Vietnam, for the purpose of meeting the demands that were increasing for field advisors to South Vietnamese armed forces and its government. The U.S. command structure in Vietnam is reported as having become “overextended even before the new requirements had been established in the President’s program, had to be reorganized.” (Eckhardt, 1991)

Logistical and Administrative Support

The Military Assistance Advisory Group was the only U.S. military headquarters in South Vietnam and was a joint organization containing a section for Army, Navy and Air Force with each having responsibility of providing advice to its counterpart in the Vietnamese armed forces as well as for providing assistance to the chief of the advisory group in administering the Military Assistance Program. It is reported, “Logistical and administrative support of the Military Assistance Advisory Group was provided through service channels.” (Eckhardt, 1991) Operational control over all U.S. Army units was exercised by General McGarr. The units were dependent upon Lieutenant General Paul W. Caraway, Command General, U.S. Army, Ryukyu Islands (USARYIS), on Okinawa for logistical support. (Eckhardt, 1991, paraphrased)

The Military Assistance Command had the duties of providing logistical support for the U.S. Army Security Agency in South Vietnam as well as common supply support to other U.S. armed services “in accordance with locally approved interservice support agreement, a base from which to expand U.S. Army activities in Vietnam and command elements as needed to direct and support additional U.S. Army units arriving in Vietnam.” (Eckhardt, 1991)

Role of the Support Group

The support group also had the task of undertaking “long-range base development planning. It was to advise Army headquarters both in the Ryukys and in Hawaii of all Army component command functions being delegated to General Stillwell by General Harkins.” (Eckhardt, 1991) Through the year of 1963, the U.S. Army Support Group is reported to have “steadily increased, particularly those pertaining to combat support activities and logistic requirements.” (Eckhardt, 1991) During that year the U.S. buildup is reported to have continued and most particularly in aviation, communications, intelligence, special warfare and logistic units, totaling 17, 068 men, with 10,916 of these Army. Due to the expansion, it is reported that General Stillwell, proposed that the support group’s name be changed to U.S. Army Support Command, Vietnam. This was agreed upon by General Harkins and General Collins and the redesignation was approved by Admiral Felt on the condition that the change did not affect the roles or missions of the group.

Conflicting and Overlapping Roles

It is reported that with the expansion of activities of the U.S. military in Vietnam that “conflicting and overlapping roles of U.S. headquarters in Vietnam” and most particularly those of the Military Assistance Advisory Group and the Military Assistance Command became clearer. Therefore, a high-level review took place in the first part of 1964 on the reorganization of the American command structure. The proposals given were such that had their focus on the “consolidation of the headquarters of both the advisory group and the Military Assistance Command but touched also on such questions as the component command structure and MACV’s continuation as a subordinate unified command.” (Eckhardt, 1991)

Setting of Policy and Performance of Supervision

The decision was made that the command would set the policy and perform the supervision role over the conduct of the counterinsurgency in Vietnam but would however, not become involved with planning details of the Military Assistance Program or the day-to-day advisory effort for the armed forced of Vietnam. The advisory group would retain these routine functions and the Military Assistance Command was organized originally as temporary headquarters. The duplication of the effort of the two headquarters had been unavoidable from the start as the advisory group was under the operational control of the MACV and the command held review authority over the activities of the group. The result of the unorthodox command channels was that there were complication regarding funding of some activities and the field advisors in the Vietnamese units were answerable to both as well. Due to deterioration of the tactical situation, it was more difficult for the respective mission, functions and responsibilities of the two headquarters to be made and Eckhardt reports “Vague and overlapping channels also existed in the Vietnamese armed forces and in the government of Vietnam, and the management of military and nonmilitary units available to assist the Vietnamese Army suffered. Finally, duplication also occurred between MACV and MAAG headquarters and the service components, especially in providing logistical and administrative support to advisory detachments in the field.” (1991)

Transfer of Advisory Group Functions to the MACV

It is reported that General Harkins made the proposal that all functions of advisory groups other than those linked to the Military Assistance Program “be transferred to the component commanders of the Military Assistance Command, and that the headquarters of the advisory group become a staff division of MACV headquarters.” (Eckhardt, 1991) The plan was opposed by Admiral Felt based on him not wanting the MACV headquarters to become overloaded with the Military Assistance Program details and the day-to-day advisory activities. (Eckhardt, 1991, paraphrased) A proposal was submitted in March 1964 for consolidation of the Military Assistance Command and the advisory group. The primary objective of General Harkins is reported as eliminating the advisory group as intervenor in command in the effort for U.S. training and advisory and enabling the Military Assistance Command “to manage U.S. military programs and resources more directly, in conformity with the requirements of the South Vietnamese government’ new Chien Than National Pacification Plan.” (Eckhardt, 1991) It is noted that 65 percent of the effort of the U.S. Military involved Army personnel or units and 95 percent of the Vietnamese forces was comprised by army.

MACV Headquarters U.S. Army Specified Command

MACV headquarters would be a “U.S. Army specified command, rather than a subordinate unified command under the Commander in Chief, Pacific.” () The MACV was comprised by “Armed Special Forces (Green Beret) instructors and CIA personnel organizing the Montagnards in the mountains.” () The counterinsurgency effort led by the United States is reported to have been based on what was referred to as “the strategic hamlet program”. () The plan involved consolidation of 14,000 South Vietnam villages into 11,000 secure hamlets. Each hamlet had its own houses, schools, watchtowers and wells and served to isolate the Vietnam villages from the guerrilla soldiers. There were attacks on the hamlets quite regularly and the hamlet self-defense units were not well trained. It is reported that the program was undermined by such as “corruption, favoritism, and resentment of the forced resettlement.” () Increases of the involvement of the United States resulted in a response by the Communists in 1961 which involved the reorganization of the southern armed units into the People’s Liberation Armed Force (PLAF) with approximately 1,5000 troops.. Many from South Vietnam were involved in this force having trained in the North “and then reinfiltrated often in political roles as liaison with the southern population. By late 1962, the PLAF was large and capable enough to mount battalion-size attacks. At the same time, the NLF expanded to include 300,000 members and an estimated one million sympathizers while they instituted land reform and other popular measures in controlled areas.

Civilian Irregular Defense Group

It is reported that the Civilian Irregular Defense Group program was developed in 1963 and developed in an ongoing and rapid pace until 1965. This program was run under the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam. The U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam is reported to have become the 5thSpecial Forces Group Airborne. This group was committed to civic action and psychological operations stated to be “with further augmentation of the Special Forces in these areas, and there were new developments in the logistical support system for the CIDG program.” (Special Forces in Vietnam, nd)

It is additionally reported that as the U.S. Mission’s logistical responsibility for the CIDG program was phased out that the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam “…assumed complete responsibility for all Special Forces activities in Vietnam, with the exception of four A detachments engaged in surveillance along the Laotian border. These detachments passed to the control of the Military Assistance Command in November 1963 when it became responsible for everything, including the entire border surveillance mission, in the CIDG program. In order to achieve closer co-ordination between Special Forces (Provisional), Vietnam, and Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, a tactical operations center, composed of the S-2 and S-3 sections from Nha Trang, was established in Saigon in March 1964. The logistical support center S-1 and S-4 staff sections and the headquarters section remained in Nha Trang. This split command remained unchanged until the end of October 1964.” (Special Forces in Vietnam, nd)

It is reported that there were ten primary features of the Special Forces logistical system for the CIDG program stated as follows:

  • Control of material, transportation, and funds (including CIDG troop pay) was kept in U.S. hands down to the point of issue to the ultimate users.
  • Local purchases of goods and services were authorized at all levels, with cash from current operating funds.
  • Requisitioning, justification, stock control, and other procedures were, initially at least, simple and informal.
  • Deliveries of equipment and supplies to A detachments from higher echelons were made from the Logistical Support Center at Nha Trang directly to the A detachments.
  • Air transportation, with supplies landed or dropped, was the predominant method of delivery.
  • Maintenance by replacement took the place of repairing equipment on the site.
  • A special Counterinsurgency Support Office was established in Headquarters, U.S. Army, Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa, to control and expedite Special Forces external logistical support.
  • S. balance-of-payments control regulations were waived, permitting unlimited direct overseas procurement.
  • A special “quick-reacting supply and procurement” procedure was devised to provide quick procurement service in the United States for unusual needs.
  • Formal accountability was dropped on shipment of material to the Special Forces, and justification of requests was not required above the level of the Special Forces operational base.(Special Forces in Vietnam, nd)

It is reported that as the organization for the Military Assistance Program (MAP) “ultimately developed within MACV headquarters, two staff directorates were established: the MAP Directorate and the Director of Army MAP Logistics.” (Special Forces in Vietnam, nd) It is reported that the former was a policy of a general nature including planning and programming and the second assumed the logistic activities of MAP on the basis of technical service. The reorganization proposed by Admiral Sharp involved field advisors in Vietnam under the control of the Military Assistance Command rather than the Military Assistance Advisory Group which would continue to handle all activities related to MAP including the planning and programming details and making provisions of depots, schools, training centers, and administrative facilities to advisers. Eckhardt reports that the primary deficiency in the support operations in logistics was the lack of a logistic system that was integrated. In fact, Eckhardt reports, “The absence of a central logistic agency resulted in confusion that could be remedied only by organizational changes.” (1991)

Summary and Conclusion

This brief study can in no way fully relate the roles and duties of the MACV in Vietnam however, it is sufficient to state that the MACV provided greater assistance to the armed forces in many areas and on several levels of operation. Some of the tasks in the role of the MACV were in the beginning duplicative and redundant of other agency tasks but overall the MACV was highly effective in its role of armed forces assistance in Vietnam.

Bibliography

Eckhardt, Major General George (1991) Vietnam Studies Command and Control 1950 – 1969. Department of the Army, Washington D.C. 1991. Retrieved from: http://www.history.army.mil/books/vietnam/comm-control/index.htm#contents

CHAPTER III – The CIDG Program Under the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam: July 1963-May 1965. American Military History. Retrieved from: http://www.ranger95.com/military_history/sf_vietnam/chap3_cidg_program.html

The Early Years: 1961 – 1965. Chapter 1 (nd) Special Forces In Vietnam Index. Retrieved from: http://www.ranger95.com/military_history/sf_vietnam/chap1_early_years.html

Special Forces in Vietnam (nd) Professional Soldiers. Retrieved from: http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/history.php

Chapter 28 – The U.S. Army in Vietnam – (1989) Extracted from the Revised Edition of American Military History – Army Historical Series. United States Army Center of Military History. Army Historical Series. American Military History. Washington DC. Retrieved from: http://www.history.army.mil/books/amh/amh-toc.htm

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