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naissance Battalion indoctrination Course, and the Division staff NCO leadership course. For the month, the division reported that 104 officers, 139 staff NCOs, and 931 other enlisted men (a total of 1174 personnel) listened to 37 hours of formal school presentations and 24 hours of field lectures relative to Personal Response.67


All of the commands would accumulate similar statistics through the rest of the year. Furthermore, the III MAF Personal Response office issued a monthly flyer called "Spice," which was to add "seasoning to presentations," while another periodical called "Viewpoints" was to depict a "'happening' in American-Vietnamese Relations." At the end of September, III MAF placed its Personal Response program under the III MAF Assistant Chief of Staff (Plans) rather than the G-5 Division, Civic Action. This, however, made little difference for the program since all the subordinate commands retained their Personal Response officers and teams in their G-5 or S-5 civic action sections.68


Again the question remains, how much difference did the entire effort make? While any conclusion would be conjecture, the evidence implies the effect was positive. In a presentation for General Walt in October 1968, who was then the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, the briefer stated that the 3d Marine Division credited the Personal Response training "as a major factor in the reduction of that command's serious incident rate by more than one-fourth over the past 12 months." He observed that the 1st Marine Division reported an 11 percent decrease in non-operational serious incidents in the past year and also attributed this to its Personal Response efforts. Later in a debriefing at FMFPac, Major General Tompkins, the former 3d Marine Division commander and Deputy CG III MAF, commented that while difficult to assess the effectiveness of Personal Response, he believed the entire effort worthwhile and brought forth unexpected benefits in the form of intelligence about enemy units and infrastructure in the local communities.69


Despite the promulgation of all the various directives and the distribution of materials, their impact was uneven. Major Parks later concluded that most serious incidents involved men from units in which:


those directives had not been re-promulgated or implemented. ... A command which implemented these directives, in which the commander knew what his subordinate units were doing and in which an intolerance of misconduct was manifest, seldom suffered either in the accomplishment of its mission or from serious incidents. Fortunately this was the rule rather than the exception.70


In the final analysis, while the Personal Response officer provided assistance and direction, the program's success depended upon the effectiveness of the individual commander, down to the platoon level, to support the policy. As one Marine historian wrote, the best that could be said about the Personal Response program was that the Marines "never gave up the effort to maintain a measure of humanity and compassion in the conduct of an often savage war . . . [but] probably dislike and distrust, tempered by a wary tolerance dictated by self-interest, were the dominant sentiments" on the pan of both the Marines and the local populace.71 The Boys Next Door: The Combined Action Program


Relationships between Marines and the villagers were most important in the Marine Corps Combined Action Program. While Chaplain McGonigal found attitudes among Combined Action (CAP) Marines more positive than troops in line units, still there was reason for concern even in this supposedly show-case pacification program. As McGonigal later stated, one of the problems of the CAPs was that you had "people with little maturity" and "we got a lot ofshitbirds."72


During 1967, the program had expanded, but not without difficulty. One matter of concern was the lack of support from some infantry regimental or battalion commanders, who still retained operational control of the individual Combined Action Marines in their sectors. In February 1967, to provide more direct command influence over the program, Lieutenant General Walt, then the III MAF commander, assigned Lieutenant Colonel William R. Corson as the Combined Action Company officer in a newly created billet in the G-3 section. Colorful and charismatic, but lacking formal command over the Combined Action Marines, Corson gave structure to the program. He established guidelines, formed a school at Da Nang, provided some initial screening of applicants, and obtained approval of a table of organization for the CAPs. By the end of May, Corson had formed a Combined Action Group headquarters at Da Nang with administrative responsibility over the various Combined Action Companies.73


In June 1967, after succeeding General Walt as Commanding General III MAF, General Cushman placed the Combined Action Program under his deputy. Major General Herman Nickerson, the former commander of the 1st Marine Division. As 1st Division commander at Da Nang, Nickerson was an enthu-







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