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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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Popular Forces in Combined Action Platoons

Popular Forces in Combined Action Platoons

(p.105) Chapter Five Popular Forces in Combined Action Platoons
Defend and Befriend

John Southard

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter analyzes how the Marines trained the village militias, the Popular Forces (PF) and, for the Americans, the frustrations involved in this task. One of the primary goals of the Combined Action Program was to bolster the effectiveness of the inexperienced and poorly trained PF who accompanied Marines on patrols outside the village perimeters. On a daily basis, the Marines offered the PF instruction on weapons, the employment of mines, and small-unit tactics. Although statistics from the war reveal an increase in the effectiveness of CAP PF, the Marines who worked with the local forces experienced considerable frustration and in some cases suspected them of supporting the VC. While some CAP Marines remember working with competent individuals dedicated to thwarting the VC, others recall inability, indifference, and in effectiveness from the PF. On patrols, the Marines could trust only other Americans, as PF often abandoned their posts to return home. The difficulties for the Marines stemmed in large part from the fact that the PF were the most marginalized element of the South Vietnamese military.

Keywords:   Popular Forces, PF, South Vietnamese military, Combined Action Program, U.S. Marines, Viet Cong

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