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Perhaps the most innovative and unique of the Marine pacification programs was Combined Action. Growing out of the security needs of the Marine battalion at Phu Bai in the summer of 1965, the Marines integrated the local Vietnamese militia units, the Popular Forces, with a 14-man Marine squad.' First called a Joint Action Company, chen changed to Combined Action Company, and finally, to avoid unfavorable connotations in Vietnamese by the acronym CAC, the program became known as the Combined Action Program or CAP. CAP also stood for Combined Action platoon, the basic tactical unit. By the end of 1967, the Marines had formed 79 platoons organized administratively into 14 companies and three Combined Action groups (CAGs). As Ambassador Robert W. Komer, who in 1967 was General Westmoreland's deputy for pacification, later wrote that the Combined Action Program was the "only sustained experiment with encadrement in our entire Vietnam experience."'


III MAF was also the first of the MACV commands to develop a systematic measurement of security and other aspects of pacification in its area of operations. Beginning in February 1966, it required subordinate units to submit a monthly analysis of the degree of pacification in each village in its area of operations. Based on supposedly objective quantitative elements, the report gave a numerical grade which could be roughly translated into a qualitative value and provide some basis for analysis. This program later served as the model for the MACV country-wide Hamler Evaluation System (HES), which used letters rather than numerals for grading purposes. District advisors filled out [he HES reports while the military unit completed the III MAF forms. At the end of 1967, both systems were in use in I Corps. Obviously, as one Army historian observed, all such reports and documents were prepared "by Americans for American eyes and ears . . . [and] we don't know really what the Vietnamese thought." Still, as a senior operations analyst concluded, these reports contained "critical patterns" that permitted analysis as long as one did nor focus on any specific element.2**


Photo is from the Abel Collection

Marine LCfil Edu'ard J. Byme. part of a Marine civic action team frimi the Purce Logistics Command, shares a soft drink u 'it h a small friend at a refugee orphanage near Da Nan}{. The team u'as nn a visit to the orphanage to distribute clothing dwatedjrom the United States.

-William D. Ehrhart. Comments on draft, dtd 24Oct94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Ehrhart Comments. In his somewhat fictionalized biographical account ot his experience in Vietnam, Ehrhart describes a County Fair operation. See William D. Ehrhart, \'ictrhitii-Perkusie, A Comhiil Murim .Veniiir (Jefferson & London: McFarland, 198?), pp. 31-3H. Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, in early 1%H the Commanding General. Fleet Marine Force Pacific, (CGFMFPac), observed recently about Marine pacification accomplishments, "truthfully, our performance, although much the best, was spotty, because of ignorance, operational pressure, or shortage of means." LtGen Victor H. Krulak, Comments on draft, dtd 310cc9'l (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Krulak Comments.


**While allowing that there was an element of ad hoc growth of the Combined Action Program due to local security needs. Lieutenant Colonel Corson argued that the basic drive behind the program was the perception of Marine leaders such as General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., the Marine Corps Commandant, and Lieutenant General Victor H-Krulak, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific, and Lieutenant General Lewis W. Walt, the III MAF commander, and their emphasis upon the population and pacification in contrast to the MACV lar^e unit strategy. Corson Comments. Despite the refined statistical analysis, many would still apree with Lieutenant Colonel Corson who wrote that "anecdotal evidence" in the villages was "far more accurate than spurious statistics." According to Corson, pacification could not be "expressed as a linear function, nor could it be frozen in time . . . ." Corson Comments. Lieutenant General Krulak wrote that the Combined Action platoons knew what was {,'oin(; on in the villages in contrast to the various system evaluation processes. Krulak Comments.







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