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shock caused by the sudden influx of large American combat forces upon both the Vietnamese peasant and the young American Marine. In order to recognize the extent of the problem, the Marine command undertook sample attitudinal surveys among both Marines and the South Vietnamese villagers. A Navy chaplain, Lieutenant Commander Richard McGonigal, who also held a master's degree in sociology, conducted the first opinion survey in September 1966, using two percent of the III MAF personnel and a much smaller percentage of the local civilian populace.4


The first findings among the American troops were not surprising. McGonigal discovered nearly 60 percent of the Marines held relatively low opinions about the South Vietnamese. Only 43 percent of the sample stared that they held a positive feeling toward the local populace. Still even the negative reactions among the Americans revealed an ambivalence rather than an intense dislike of the villagers. Among the CAP units, however, possibly as would be expected, the Marines tested much more affirmatively.


Perhaps more surprisingly, the South Vietnamese, if the survey were accurate, showed a relatively positive view toward the Marines. More than 70 percent indicated that they personally liked the Americans. On the other hand, over 40 percent perceived hostility towards them from the U.S. troops.


Chaplain McGonigal refined his testing procedures and conducted two more surveys, the last in June 1967, which more or less confirmed the earlier ones. With this impetus. III MAF initiated a "personal response" program down to the battalion level. Each command at either the G-5 or S-5 level appointed a Personal Response officer, very often the chaplain, whose responsibility was to teach the troops the local customs and culture, largely through group discussions and class instruction. As could be expected, the program met with mixed results. As the FMFPac chaplain, Navy Captain John H. Craven, later observed, he had to walk a "fine line between Marine officers on one hand, who questioned the need for any such project, and chaplains on the other hand, who felt that chaplains should have nothing to do with the project."*



With its large commitment to the pacification campaign, III MAF also implemented the first Corps-wide coordination effort involving not only III MAF and the Vietnamese authorities, but also the various U.S. civilian assistance programs. As early as August 1965, III MAF and the U.S. civilian operations mission for I Corps formed the I Corps Joint Coordinating Council (ICJCC), an interagency clearing committee to direct both the civilian and military civic action programs in the Corps area. With permanent representation, the council soon began meeting on a regular basis. Before long, General Hoang Xuan Lam, the I Corps commander, also assigned a representative to the committee. By the end of 1967, ICJCC had several subordinate subcommittees and had even extended down to the provincial and district level. General Cushman had made his deputy III MAF commander, Major General Raymond L. Murray, his personal representative to the council.5


Despite recognizing the initiatives of the Marines relative to pacification, General Westmoreland, the MACV commander, was unhappy about the emphasis of the Marine Corps. He believed that the Marines, with their concentration on the security of the hamlets, were ignoring the enemy regular forces operating outside of the Marine areas of operations. While supporting civic action on the part of American troops, the MACV commander was concerned about incidents with the civilian population. He desired to place the main responsibility for pacification upon the ARVN forces."


In February 1966, at the Honolulu Conference, which included the leaders of the Vietnamese government and the United States, the emphasis was upon pacification. Still, the conference was not a repudiation of Westmoreland's large unit strategy. He won his point that the main responsibility for pacification and protection of the people would lie with the ARVN forces.7


While the Honolulu Conference called for a renewal and reemphasis upon pacification, the reality was largely rhetorical. The actual gains in pacification were fairly modest. The South Vietnamese did expand their Revolutionary Development (RD)



*Colonel James L. Black, Jr., who as a lieutenant colonel was the III MAF G-5 for Civil Affairs in 1968, commented that the 29th Civil Affairs Company should have had the responsibility for the Personal Response Program rather than the Chaplains. Col James L. Black, Jr., Comments on draft, n.d. [Nov94] (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter James Black Comments. William D. Ehrhart, who served in Vietnam with the 1st Marines from mid-summer 1967 unti1 February 1968 and has written extensively upon his experience in Vietnam and that of


other enlisted Marines, observed that in the several months between the institution of the program and his departure that he "never heard of, let alone participated in, any such program." Ehrhart Comments.







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