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Defend and BefriendThe U.S. Marine Corps and Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam$
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John Southard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145266

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145266.001.0001

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Becoming a Combined Action Platoon Marine

Becoming a Combined Action Platoon Marine

(p.49) Chapter Three Becoming a Combined Action Platoon Marine
Defend and Befriend

John Southard

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter dissects the selection and training process of the Combined Action Program, asserting that the spontaneous nature of the program coupled with the Marine Corps' general need for manpower in the war produced a selection process and training regimen riddled with loopholes and deficiencies. Although Combined Action Program leaders believed in the efficiency of their selection and training systems, the Marines and corpsmen arrived in the villages ill prepared. This chapter also describes how boot camp and then life in the infantry in Vietnam shaped the Americans' perceptions of the Vietnamese people. Before joining the Combined Action Program, many of the Marines came from the infantry, where racism and hatred toward the Vietnamese people, both friend and foe, were rampant. In hopes of diminishing this mindset, the program created a mandatory “CAP school” in Da Nang. After selection into the Combined Action Program, Marines and corpsmen attended the school for two weeks, subject to a curriculum that concentrated on small-unit military tactics and rudimentary Vietnamese language and customs training. But considering the relatively short period they attended the school, CAP Marines entered their villages as mere neophytes in regard to Vietnamese culture and language.

Keywords:   CAP school, Combined Action Program, Da Nang, Infantry, U.S. Marines, Corpsmen

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