Page 618

Page 618 (1968: The Defining Year)




Department of Defense (USMC) A192361

LtGen Herman Nickerson. Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpou'er at HQMC. on a visit to Vietnam, talks with South Vietnam Popular Force troops, part of CAP 1-3-5. The Combined Action Program u'as placed under Gen Nickerson u'hen he u'as Deputy Commander. Ill MAI'~. Col Edward F. Danou'itz. the Director. CAP (u'earing classes), is to the left and behind Gen Nickerson.



siastic supporter of the Marine pacification program, including Combined Action. General Nickerson also knew Corson in that the latter "was my tank battalion commander . . .and did a magnificent job of relating to the people . . . ." With confidence in Corson, Nickerson gave him a new title. III MAF Deputy Director for Combined Action, and delegated authority over the program to him. By July, Corson formed two new Combined Action Groups and III MAF distributed a formal standard operating procedure (SOP) that defined the structure, mission, and command relations of the program.' Once and for all. III MAF assumed direct operational control ot the CAPs with line units out ot the chain of command, except tor occasional combat support and c(x>rdination. The 1st CAG, based at Chu Lai, was responsible for Marine Combined Action operations in the southern two provinces, Quang Tin and Quang Ngai. Similarly, the 2d CAG at Da Nang controlled the CAPs in Quang Nam Province, and the 3d CAG at Phu Bai, the CAPs in the two northern provinces, Quang Tri and Thua Thien.''


Command relations with the Vietnamese were a little more blurred. The Combined Action Marines did not have operational control ot the Popular Force platoons with whom they worked. Instead the relationship was one of coordination and advice. Supposedly the South Vietnamese platoon leader answered to the local district chief, and it was the responsibility of the commanders of the CAGs and CACOs to coordinate with the South Vietnamese provincial and district officials relative to the CAPs. The Marine Combined Action platoon squad leader, in effect, was an advisor to the platoon leader. He could not command the South Vietnamese, but only offer suggestions and advice. Obviously, much depended upon the personal relationship between the individual Marines and the South Vietnamese Popular Force troops for the effectiveness of the program.


The finding of the ideal and idealistic Marines to run such a program would take some doing and by



*Lieutcnant Colonel Corson wrote that "the SOP was totally illegal in that only the CMC can create a new organization. However, with General Nickerson's support we did it, no matter the legality." He mentioned that the changes took off very quickly despite the protests of several regimental commanders. Corson Comments.







Page 618 (1968: The Defining Year)