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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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The Combined Action Program and U.S. Military Strategy in Vietnam

The Combined Action Program and U.S. Military Strategy in Vietnam

Chapter:
(p.123) Chapter Six The Combined Action Program and U.S. Military Strategy in Vietnam
Source:
Defend and Befriend
Author(s):

John Southard

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813145266.003.0007

This chapter analyzes how the overall American manpower shortage in Vietnam and the ever-present interservice rivalry between the U.S. Army and Marine Corps affected the Combined Action Program. In June 1965, when Lt. Gen. Lewis Walt arrived in Da Nang as the commander of U.S. Marine forces, he realized that securing and providing for the civilian population should take precedence over large-unit conventional military forays into the unpopulated jungles. However, Walt's strategic approach disagreed with the war of attrition that U.S. Army general William C. Westmoreland implemented as the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) commander from June 1964 to June 1968. Westmoreland enjoyed operational control over all U.S. forces in South Vietnam. Many top-ranking Marine officers such as Lt. Gen. Victor Krulak and Gen. Wallace Greene accused the army of intentionally retarding the growth of the program. However, solely to blame the army and MACV for the sluggish growth of CAPs ignores the overall manpower shortage that afflicted the U.S. military in Vietnam. More than the army's war of attrition, the lack of manpower in the IIIMAF area of operations prevented the program from flourishing at the high level envisioned by the Corps.

Keywords:   Lewis Walt, William Westmoreland, Victor Krulak, Wallace Greene, Interservice rivalry, U.S. Army, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, MACV, Attrition

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