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with a two and one-half day field operation for the individual infantry platoons. The Command and Staff Training course was somewhat less rigorous, being designed primarily to prepare battalion staffs to support their companies in a counterinsurgency environment. Less than 10 hours in length, this course was based primarily on lectures and map exercises. At General Cushman's direction, the division G-3 (Operations Section) began stressing the significance of counter-insurgency training at all echelons of the division. Unconventional warfare training soon became an integral part of the training schedules at every echelon. Under this program the various infantry battalions were required to conduct an extended battalion-sized counterguer-rilla operation, and to report to the G-3 on the progress of their efforts.15 The FMFPac On-The-Job Training program and the 3d Marine Division's new approach to training complemented each other in several ways. Whereas the OJT program helped create an awareness of counterguerrilla operations among individual Marine officers and noncommissioned officers, the division's training programs achieved the same results at the staff and battalion level. At points the two programs overlapped to the further benefit of the 3d Marine Division. Attuned to the nature of guerrilla warfare and the problems involved in countering the guerrilla, the officers and noncommissioned officers who returned from OJT assignments in Vietnam provided assistance in planning and supervising the division's counter-insurgency training programs. Short of actual commitment to combat in a guerrilla-type environment, it is doubtful that any other combination of training could have better prepared the 3d Marine Division for a future assignment in Vietnam.

American Decisions at the Close of 1961

The progressive erosion of the government's strength and the steady growth of the Viet Cong during 1961 prompted President Kennedy to dispatch his special military advisor, General Maxwell D. Taylor, to Vietnam in mid-October. Taylor, who had retired in the late 1950s after having served as Chief of Staff of the Army, carried the following instructions from the president:

 

I should like you to proceed to Saigon for the purpose of appraising the situation in South Vietnam, particularly as it concerns the threat to the internal security and defense of that country and adjacent areas. After you have conferred with the appropriate United States and South Vietnamese authorities, including the Commander in Chief, Pacific, I would like your views on the courses of action which our Government might take at this juncture to avoid a further deterioration in the situation in South Vietnam; and eventually to contain and eliminate (he threat to its independence.16

 

Like other American officials who had visited Diem's republic during the course of the year, General Taylor returned to Washington convinced that South Vietnam was in grave danger. In a report delivered to President Kennedy in November, the general outlined his formula for salvaging the situation. This included the broad recommendation that the United States abandon its existing policy of strict military advice and begin cooperating with the Vietnamese in a form of 'limited partnership.' The American role in such a partnership, Taylor explained, would be to provide 'working' advisors and 'working' military units to aid South Vietnam's military forces.

General Taylor's report offered several specific proposals for implementing such a program. Among these were recommendations that three U.S. Army helicopter companies and approximately 6,000-8,000 American ground troops be deployed quickly to the Republic of Vietnam. The helicopter units would support the government's ground operations but the American ground forces were to be used only in a defensive posture. Taylor believed that their presence would underscore the United States' determination to stand by South Vietnam. A side-effect of this display of determination would be to stimulate the morale of the republic's armed forces. He added that in order to support such a build-up, it would be necessary to restructure and increase the size of the USMAAG.

President Kennedy's consideration of Taylor's proposals resulted in a compromise decision which cleared the way for more intense American involvement in the Vietnam conflict. After securing Diem's approval in early December, Kennedy authorized the Department of Defense to expand its advisory and assistance programs. To enhance the effectiveness of the advisory program, he removed some of

 

 

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