November, the program had floundered. Generals Walt and Nickerson, who had both strongly pushed the program, had left. In August, Corson also had departed and a few months later, very much disillusioned, wrote a bitter and biting indictment of American strategy in the war.* His handpicked successor, Lieutenant Colonel Francis R. Hittinger, Jr., was killed by a mine explosion in the Da Nang area of operations. Instead of the 114 Cap units that were supposed to be in place at the end of the year, the Marines only had 79.75
According to Lieutenant Colonel Byron F. Brady, he met on Thanksgiving Day 1967 with Major General Raymond L. Murray, the new III MAF deputy commander, who offered him the position of III MAF Deputy Director for Combined Action." In contrast to the flamboyant Corson, the relatively staid Brady was more traditional in his approach. Joining the Marine Corps in 1938 as a private, he received a commission during World War II. Called back to active duty during Korea, Brady remained in the Corps as a career officer. While knowing very little about the Combined Action Program, Brady immediately began to read what was available about the concept. He was particularly impressed with Commander McGonigal's evaluation of the program and the importance of the relationship between the Marines and the Vietnamese Popular Force troops and the villagers. Concerned about what he considered the degradation of the quality in the training of Marines now coming to Vietnam, Brady established as his first priority the recruiting of good men for the program.76
By this time the growing demands and limitations on Marine manpower would have its effect upon the Combined Action Program. An exchange of messages among the Commandant, General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., Lieutenant General Krulak at FMFPac, and General Cushman at III MAF highlighted this concern. As early as August 1967, General Krulak observed to the Commandant that he had directed General Cushman "to proceed with CAP activations out of his present resources to the extent possible, although realism prompts the conclusion that he may not be able to do much." As the year came to a close these manpower constraints became even tighter.77
Even more disconcerting for the Marine Corps was the possible loss of CORDS support for the program, specifically by Ambassador Komer. General Westmoreland always had some skepticism about the Combined Action Program. Although calling the concept "ingenious," he also wrote, "I simply had not enough numbers to put a squad of Americans in every village and hamlet . . . ." Apparently Komer had come to much the same opinion. While asking for an evaluation of the program by CORDS personnel at Da Nang, in early December 1967, Komer canceled a Combined Action briefing by Lieutenant Colonel Brady at an orientation course for Joint U.S. Public Affairs Officers. According to a MACV official at the session, CORDS had concluded that "the Combined Action Program is too expensive to continue." On 5 December, in a message to the Commandant, General Krulak recalled that in a conversation that he had with Komer "some time ago," the latter "spoke with enthusiasm about the idea but said because of its broad interface with civilian affairs, that the program probably ought to be under CORDS." The FMFPac commander believed that the whole matter was one of turf: "It could be, having met no success in the endeavor to take it over, that he [Komer] is now committed to abolishing the program."78
As would be expected, Ambassador Komer had a completely different recollection of the events than General Krulak. According to Komer several years later, he remembered that when he asked "Wally Greene and Krulak for more people for the CAPs, their answer was,
*Corson's book The Betrayal was published in July 1968, although the draft was completed by April. Corson in his comments stated that he did not start writing until mid-March 1968. In the book, he condemned both the Johnson Administration and MACV, including Ambassador Komer and General Westmoreland, for their direction of the war and in particular for neglecting the "other war" or pacification. He praised, however, both Marine Generals Walt and Krulak for their efforts, and in particular, rhe Combined Action Program, although presenting an exaggerated and idealized version of the successes of the program. There was some talk about official reprimands and possible courtmartial of Corson because he failed to submit the manuscript for review, according to Department of Defense regulations, prior to publication. It was decided that such a course of action would only give undue publicity to the book. In his comments, Corson stated that a copy of his unedited galley proofs was stolen from a safe in his office. He claimed that his application for retirement to the Secretary of the Navy was first approved then rescinded upon basis that he had violated some Department of Defense administrative rule. According to Corson, his lawyer obrained a writ for the Secretaries of the Navy and of Defense to show cause for the revocation of his retirement, and only after the matter had reached the President was the decision made in his favor. See LtCol William R. Corson file, Biog Files, RefSec, MCHC and Corson Comments. Corson dedicated the book "To the hearts and minds of the CAP Marines, both living and dead." See also LtCol William R. Corson, The Betrayal (New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 1968).
**Lieutenant Colonel Brady noted that when he first took over the billet, he only loosely controlled the Combined Action Groups, but that it was "later established as a command billet . . . ." LtCol Byron F. Brady, Comments on draft, dtd 30Oct94 (Vietnam Comment File).