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COMBINED ACTION UNIT ACTIVITY



From Operations of US Marine Forces Vietnam 1968.


ber of casualties as the PFs. Moreover, the report concluded, "in over three years of operations no evidence exists that U.S. Marines have been able to withdraw from a CAP solely because their Vietnamese counterparts were able to take over."110


How successful were the CAPs? Much depended on the effectiveness of the individual CAP. To a large extent, most improved the security within the hamlets and the village. Some even won the begrudging loyalty and perhaps even affection of the villagers. But few were able to attain the loyalty of the people to the Government of South Vietnam. When asked about the relationship between his Combined Action unit and villagers, on one hand, and with the South Vietnamese authorities, on the other, Igor Bobrowsky answered, "the fewer the better." Michael Peterson remarked upon the unique elan of the CAPs "although it was a maverick, gone-bamboo, anti-brass, kind of spirit." Lawrence A. Yates


wrote in his analysis of the program: "There were good and bad, successful and unsuccessful CAP platoons. Accomplishments varied depending on such factors as time, place and personnel, not to mention a host of other variables that were beyond the control of the CAP Marines."'11


One former Defense Analyst, Francis J. "Bing" West, the author of several studies on CAP, wrote that in his opinion the "essential problem" with the program was the "lack of a warflghting strategy" at both MACV and III MAF:


Without a strategy, there was no yardstick for measuring the amount of resources dedicated to Mission X vs Mission Y. So the CAP was seen as a drain of Marine manpower. It, in fact, saved manpower.


He believed that the Marine TAORs should have consisted of "overlapping CAP patrol areas" with the Marine regular battalions making up a central reserve. Instead, according to West, "the CAP was treated as an interesting tactical study in sociology; its strategic cost-effectiveness was overlooked both by III MAF and by MACV."112




*Lieurenant Colonel Brady took exception to the assertion that the CAPs had not succeeded in turning over any hamlets to the RFs. He stated that in the Five CAP units chat were deactivated during the year, the Marines were "reassigned to other CAPs leaving trained PFs on their own." Brady Comments.







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