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CHAPTER 27

Manpower Policies and Realities

Personnel

Turnover-The Quality Issue and Project 100,000-Training The Search for Junior

Leaders-Discipline-Morale-The Aviation Shortage Filling the Ranks in Vietnam:

Too Many Billets, Too Few Marines The Deployment of Regimental Landing Team

27-Reserve Caliup? The Bloodiest Month, The Bloodiest Year-Foxhole Strength:

Still Too Few Marines The Return of RLT 27-The End of the Year-The Marine Corps

and the Draft

The Marine Corps Transformed

In 1968, the Vietnam War dominated

every aspect of Marine Corps manpower policy. Since the landing of the 9th

Marine Expeditionary Brigade (9th MEB) in 1965, the overall strength of the

Marine Corps had increased over 60 percent. More than a quarter of all Marines

were in Vietnam; almost a third were deployed west of Guam (see Table 1).1

Marine Corps Commandant, General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., later stated that by

1968, 'there were just three kinds of Marines; there were those in Vietnam,

those who had just come back from Vietnam, and those who were getting ready to

go to Vietnam.'2* Between March and September of 1968, 8 of the Marine Corps' 12

active infantry regiments were in Southeast Asia. In FMFPac

only one regiment, the 28th Marines of

the 5th Marine Division, remained uncommitted. This left three battalions in

California, with none in Okinawa or Hawaii. On the east coast, most Marines in

the 2d Marine Division were awaiting either their discharge or orders to

Vietnam, while the individual battalions of the division's three regiments

continued their customary deployments to the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

The dramatic growth of both its end

strength and its overseas commitments compelled the Marine Corps to alter

drastically many of its manpower policies. Between 1965 and 1969, the Marine

Corps changed from an organization which encouraged long enlistments and stable

units to one forced to rely on short-term Marines and high turnover within

units. The Marine Corps Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel (G-l), Brigadier

General Jonas M. Platt, later related, 'we had no choice with respect to

short-term Marines and high turnover and both were a Hell of a necessary evil.'3

Personnel Turnover

Before the Vietnam buildup, new

recruits entered the Marine Corps on an enlistment of at least three years, with

over four-fifths joining for four or more years.4 The Vietnam buildup that began

in the fall of 1965 required a large influx of new recruits, forcing the Marine

Corps temporarily to begin accepting men on two-year enlistments. Between

November 1965 and

*General Chapman was Commandant of the

Marine Corps from l January 1968 to 31 December 1971. table goes here



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