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Program* and increased the number of Revolutionary Development teams in targeted hamlets and villages. Actually, the government had hoped to place about 300 of these specially trained pacification teams in the countryside by the end of 1966. It succeeded in achieving only about a third of that goal. While by the end of 1967 the number of RD cadre numbered over 32,000, they had one of the largest attrition rates of all the forces in Vietnam. The overall attrition rate among the cadre was 32 percent per year with a desertion rate of 21 percent.8


Unsatisfied with the progress and coordination in Vietnam among the various component civilian agencies within the U.S. mission in Saigon, the Johnson administration initiated an entirely new approach. One of the chief architects was Presidential advisor Robert W. Komer. Nicknamed "the blowtorch" by former Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Komer had the support of the new Ambassador to Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker. An articulate and forceful man, Komer convinced President Johnson and General Westmoreland to place the formal American pacification effort under the U.S. military chain of command in Vietnam.s


In May 1967, the former Office of Civil Operations under the direct control of the American Embassy became Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) under MACV with Robert Komer as its head. With the rank of Ambassador, Komer was Westmoreland's deputy for pacification. According to the MACV commander, he assigned Army Major General George Forsythe to Komer as his assistant "to keep Komer out of my hair." Still, while describing Komer as "volatile" and "abrasive," Westmoreland agreed he "was the man for the job."10**


For his part, Komer had a clear idea what changes he wanted to make. He believed that for too long there had been no unified management structure concerned with pacification. He argued that the solution was "to require the U.S. and ARVN military to take on most of the pacification job." Up to this time, it was his opinion that when the U.S. entered the war in Vietnam, "we further 'Americanized' it-on an even grander scale-by playing out our military repertoire." He perceived Westmoreland's search and destroy and attrition strategy as a natural response of an American commander "against an elusive enemy who could not be brought to decisive battle in a classic military style." In so doing, however, Komer contended that both the Vietnamese and Americans had neglected the only means of attaining their goal-the establishment of local security and the extension of government administration into the countryside. He wanted to place more resources in civilian administration, the Revolutionary Development cadre and program, and to build up local defense forces, especially the Popular and Regional Forces. Under CORDS, Komer formed unified U.S. civilian-military teams that operated in all 250 districts and 44 provinces. Later, he would write that not until CORDS was formed, "did a major sustained pacification effort begin to take place.""


Still, in many respects, CORDS carried forward what was already in place. Beginning in 1966, the South Vietnamese and their American advisors had established the basis for a nation-wide pacification plan. While not developing an overall plan for 1967, they together with the Revolutionary Development Ministry designated four National Priority areas and developed the guidelines for Revolutionary Development. Each province was to develop its own plan. The 1967 pacification plan, then, if it could be called such, consisted of the aggregate of the 44 provincial plans.12


In reviewing the progress of Revolutionary Development during 1967, the CORDS planners determined that the so-called designated National Priority Areas and 26 priority provinces "did not produce demonstrable progress." According to the CORDS'



*Here too, much of the change was rhetorical. While changing the name of their pacification program from Rural Reconstruction to Revolutionary Development in English, they retained the old name for the program in Vietnamese. The Revolutionary Development Ministry was headed by Vietnamese General Nguyen Due Thang. Later, he assumed the title. Commissioner General for Revolutionary Development, and additional responsibility as Assistant to the Chief, Joint General Staff for Territorial Affairs and Pacification. These additional duties provided him with authority in both civilian and military aspects of pacification and jurisdiction over the Popular and Regional Forces.


The heart of the Revolutionary Development Program was the so-called Revolutionary Development cadre or teams. Started under a pilot program by the CIA in late 1964, the U.S. had assisted the Vietnamese in training at Vung Tau some 16,000 Vietnamese pacification cadre by 1966, which were then formed into what were called Political Action Teams. These teams consisted of approximately 40 of these anti-Communist indoctrinated cadre, who like the Communist guerrillas dressed in black pajamas. After Honolulu, the teams were renamed Revolutionary Development Teams, but still retained their Vietnamese designation Can Bo. See Shulimson, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1966, pp. 254-55, and Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie,John Paul Vann and America in South Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1988), p. 608.


"""Lieutenant General Krulak observed that from his perspective at FMFPac, "at bottom, Westy {Westmoreland] did not believe in pacification. He created CORDs to decentralize the worries. He didn't care for Komer, and vice versa." Krulak Comments.







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