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ment on 7 November, whereupon ComUSMACV lifted the temporary ban on military assistance. The American hopes that the new political climate in the Republic of Vietnam would stimulate a more effective military effort, however, proved to be shortlived. Confusion reminiscent of the sect uprising in 1955 spread throughout the government following Diem's death. The dismissal of more than 30 high-ranking military officers for actively supporting the former president during the coup typified the new regime's campaign to realign top personnel in all governmental agencies.- Far from enhancing the efficiency of the Vietnamese military, the power struggle and the chaos which prevailed in its wake dragged the war effort to its most ineffective level since before the U.S. stepped-up its military assistance program in early 1962. It was on this unfortunate note that the year 1963 ended.

The Advisory Division and VNMC Operations

At the beginning of 1963, the Marine Advisory Division, still headed by Lieutenant Colonel Moody, consisted of eight Marine officers and 10 noncommissioned officers. In April, however, the table of organization was adjusted slightly when the first sergeant and four assistant infantry advisor (noncommissioned officers) billets were eliminated. Another small unit training advisor was added to the organization, changing the strength of Lieutenant Colonel Moody's command to eight officers and six noncommissioned officers. Men from the 3d Marine Division continued to augment the advisory effort and gain combat experience while serving in Vietnam on temporary assignments.

Like the U.S. organization which advised and assisted it, the Vietnamese Marine Corps began the new year at the same strength that it had achieved when it had been expanded to brigade size in early 1962. Still commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Le Nguyen Khang, the Vietnamese Marine Brigade continued to operate as part of the nation's general reserve under the direct control of the Vietnamese Joint General Staff.

As the year opened three of the four VNMC infantry battalions were garrisoned separately in small, crude, self-sustaining camps around Thu Due on the northern outskirts of Saigon. The 4th Battalion maintained its camp at Vung Tau on the coast. The newly formed artillery battalion, which became fully operational in mid-January when B and C Batteries passed their final gunnery examinations, was garrisoned near Thu Due. While the Marine units spent little time in their base camps, being deployed almost continuously in combat, the Joint General Staff normally kept one battalion at Thu Due to enable it to respond to any emergency which might develop. For the Vietnamese Marine Corps, 1963 was to be highlighted by innovations in the important areas of training and operations. Prior to Lieutenant Colonel Moody's arrival in Vietnam, all Vietnamese Marine recruits had received basic training at ARVN installations, an arrangement tolerated but never appreciated by the U.S. Marine advisors. Before his departure in the fall of 1963, Moody was able to convince Khang that he should push for the authority to establish a separate Marine training center. In late 1963 the JGS approved this proposal, whereupon the Vietnamese Marine engineers, advised by Captain Robert C. Jones, began building a small training facility at Thu Due. In a related action Moody set in motion plans to have a small number of specially selected Vietnamese Marine noncommissioned officers sent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego for training as drill instructors. Although these plans would not come to fruition during Moody's assignment, the concept of a separate recruit training center promised to permit the Vietnamese Marine Corps to establish and maintain its own standards for basic training.

Another change to occur in 1963, this one in the area of tactical operations, was the reinsritu-tion of multi-battalion combat operations under the control of provisional Marine Brigade headquarters.* Although the VNMC had performed such operations in I960, they had been abandoned in the ensuing years in favor of battalion-sized deployments to the various provinces and corps tactical zones. Moody, however, prevailed upon Khang to alter this pattern by seeking assignments

*Such task-organized Marine forces were usually called either provisional brigades or provisional regiments but on at least one occasion the organization was designated a Marine Task Force. In each case the composition was similar-two or three infantry battalions, an artillery unit, an engineer or reconnaissance company, and a command element.

 

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