Page 601

Page 601 (1968: The Defining Year)







point of view, blame for the slowness of RD largely lay in the "inefficiencies" of the respective South Vietnamese ministries. The Americans asserted that the "most serious-and telling-flaw was the conspicuous shortage of good Vietnamese leadership." In CORDS, the Americans began a systematic collection of dossiers on "incompetent or venal" province and district chiefs. Komer later claimed that the agency had a "respectable batting average" in placing pressure on the Vietnamese government to remove the worst offenders.15


The CORDS leadership convinced the South Vietnamese that a new tactic was necessary. They decided that there was a need to "concentrate resources in carefully chosen areas which met criteria for current progress plus the capacity to achieve greater results with more resources." Planners selected only a few priority provinces and priority areas based upon "their relative importance to the overall pacification effort." The emphasis was to be upon III and IV Corps. In fact, in I Corps, only Quang Ngai became a designated priority province where a 50 percent increase in pacification resources would be made. The authors of the MACV 1967 history claimed that the Combined Campaign Plan for 1968 contained "the first fully integrated treatment of pacification within the framework of a campaign plan."14


In Washington, Marine Corps leaders wondered about the new priorities and whether the III MAF pacification effort in Vietnam was to receive even less support. In October 1967, General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., then Commandant of the Marine Corps, voiced his concerns to Lieutenant General Krulak at FMFPac headquarters in Honolulu. He observed that the omission of I Corps provinces with the exception of Quang Ngai "has an ironic twist in view of the historic fact that only in the III MAF area of responsibility has the target of pacification, civic action, and Revolutionary Development been accorded primary emphasis from the outset of U.S. major involvement in Vietnam."15


General Krulak tried to assuage the Commandant's concerns. He observed that the reason for the change in priority was that I Corps had become "the battleground and that RD has the best chance for success in areas most remote from the battle." He mentioned that Ambassador Komer had conveyed this idea to him during recent discussions. Krulak then stated that, although I Corps was to have only one priority province, this was misleading. There was not to be any diminution of the pacification effort in the Corps area, and, in fact, there was to be an increase in Revolutionary Development resources for the coming year. He observed that under the 1968 plan, I Corps was to receive a 20 percent increase in the number of RD teams and the number of hamlets and villages to be developed. Moreover, the Corps would receive a 49 percent increase in funds over the previous year and could request additional monies if required.16


Krulak then compared the degree of pacification resources in I Corps, both presently available and those planned for 1968, with those for the other Corps areas. He noted that under the 1968 plan, I Corps was allotted an average of 33 Revolutionary Development teams per province, the highest number in all the Corps areas. The next closest, IV Corps, was to average only 19 teams per province. In actual funds, I Corps was to receive 100 million piasters, only slightly less than II and IV Corps, which were to get 104 million and 103 million piasters respectively, and more than III Corps.17


The FMFPac commander than discussed the actual Revolutionary Development plans for I Corps. General Lam, the I Corps commander, had just requested from the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff 31 additional Regional Forces companies, 21 of which would have specific pacification missions. Furthermore, Lam planned to assign two additional ARVN regular battalions to support the Revolutionary Development campaign. This would mean that 16 out of the 28 ARVN battalions assigned to the Corps sector would be in support of Revolutionary Development.18


He then detailed the reasons for the selection of Quang Ngai Province as the priority province: "relative population density, economic potential in terms of rice and salt production, remoteness of the NVA threat . . ., and because it is contiguous to the northernmost II Corps Priority Province of Binh Dinh." Krulak then speculated about the real reason for the choice of Quang Ngai. He believed that "the RD planners were mesmerized by the thought of a continuous line of priority provinces along the coast, without jeopardizing the stated concept that priorities rank from south to north."1''


Despite all the verbiage, Krulak saw little difference between 1967 and 1968 for I Corps, relative to the emphasis upon pacification. He related, for example, that Quang Nam Province was authorized 38 Revolutionary Development teams, more than 23 of the 26 so-called priority provinces. It also received more pacification funds than another 16 priority provinces in other Corps sectors. He concluded: "In the final analysis, the priority listing will not result in degradation of the RD effort in I Corps." Instead, he believed that the "increased emphasis in RD in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Thua. Thien should enhance the chances of RD success



Page 601 (1968: The Defining Year)