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Vietnamese Marines and the Communist Insurgency

Origins and Early Stages of Insurgency-Insurgency and the Vietnamese Marine Corps-Ancillary Effects on Marine Pacific Commands-American Decisions at the Close of 1961


Origins and Early Stages of Insurgency

South Vietnam gave every outward indication that it had achieved a measure of overall stability in the two-year period following President Diem's election in the fall of 1955. In early 1956 Diem felt strong enough politically to announce his government's refusal to participate in the reunification elections scheduled for midyear. He based this position upon the argument that free elections were impossible in Communist North Vietnam.

Lieutenant General Samuel T. Williams, USA, Commander, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam. (USA Photo SCmW).

The proposed July election deadline passed without a serious reaction by North Vietnam. Equally encouraging was the fact that there had been no noticeable resurgence in the armed power of either the politico-religious sects or the Binh Xuyen. At the same time the American-backed South Vietnamese economy appeared to be gaining considerable strength.

The threat of invasion from the North had also been tempered somewhat by 1958. The MAAG, now headed by Lieutenant General Samuel T. Williams, U.S. Army, a commander respected as a tough disciplinarian, was beginning to reshape the former Vietnamese national forces.* Renamed the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the army now consisted of four field divisions (8,500 men each), six light divisions (5,000 men each), 13 territorial regiments (whose strength varied), and a parachute regiment. Although General Williams viewed this as merely an interim organization, it had provided the South Vietnamese army with a'unified command structure based on sound organizational principles. The arrival of a 350-man U.S. Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission (TERM) in 1956, moreover, had freed U.S. Army advisors for assignment to each ARVN regiment. American officers were likewise reorganizing and helping train the small



*General Williams would head the MAAG until his retirement in I960.





Page 26(Vietnamese Marines and the Communist Insurgency )