Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1970


The War in Vietnam


U.S. Army forces in South Vietnam were substantially reduced as the result of presidential decisions announced on June 8, September 16, and December 15, 1969. Almost 59,000 Army troops and 4 major units were redeployed, reducing Army strength there to less than 310,000. As noted above, 2 brigades of the 9th Infantry Division, a brigade of the 82d Airborne Division, the entire 1st Infantry Division, and a brigade of the 4th Infantry Division were withdrawn, the equivalent of 2 1/3 divisions, leaving 6 division force equivalents in Vietnam at year's end.

On April 20, 1970, the President announced that within a year 150,000 more troops would be withdrawn. Subsequently, it was announced that an increment of 50,000 would be removed by October 15, and as the year ended, steps were in progress to carry out this decision.

The organization and disposition of the U.S. Army in Vietnam was progressively modified to meet the changing force levels and the gradual assumption of battlefield responsibility by the South Vietnamese. In some of the first adjustments, redeployment of the 1st and 2d Brigades of the 9th Infantry Division from the IV Corps Tactical Zone gave the Republic of Vietnam primary control of military operations in the Mekong Delta.

Redeployment of the 3d Marine Division with a proportionate share of logistical support from I Corps changed the balance between Army and Marine Corps forces in that area. The combat capability of the Marines was reduced from a level of more than twenty maneuver battalions to less than ten. On March 9, 1970, Headquarters, XXIV U.S. Army Corps, assumed responsibility for all U.S. forces in the I Corps Tactical Zone, including the III Marine Amphibious Force headquarters.

An important change in the Army's logistical structure took place in the consolidation of Headquarters, 1st Logistical Command, with Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, a move prompted by the decreasing presence of American forces in Vietnam, and one that contributed to the over-all strength reduction.

On the battlefield, Army forces operated in the I, II, and III Corps Tactical Zones, with IV Corps area operations passing to the


Vietnamese forces upon the departure of the 9th Division. U.S. units maintained pressure on the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong main force units, accelerated the pacification program, and concentrated upon the Vietnamization program.

Friendly forces maintained the initiative over the enemy main forces, capitalizing on superior firepower and mobility. Wide-ranging spoiling attacks, penetration of enemy base areas, and the capture of supply caches kept the enemy off balance, although he continued to demonstrate the ability to mount co-ordinated actions throughout South Vietnam. His casualties continued to run well above those of the allies.

The effect of tactical operations dating from 1965 was to force the enemy to seek sanctuary behind neutral borders in Cambodia and Laos. He continued to mount operations from these secure areas into South Vietnam at a time and place of his own choosing. In May and June 1970, combined U.S. and Republic of Vietnam forces moved against these enemy sanctuary areas in Cambodia. Huge stocks of supplies were captured and numerous bases and positions destroyed, seriously compromising the enemy's capability to launch operations into South Vietnam.

Several instances involving allegations of serious battlefield misconduct came to light during the year. One incident, involving operations around Son My (My Lai) in March 1968 in which noncombatants were alleged to have been killed, came to departmental attention in April 1969, at which time the Army opened an extensive investigation of the charges. In addition to investigations by the Inspector General and by military police criminal investigators, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff designated Lieutenant General William R. Peers to conduct an inquiry to determine why the matter was not disclosed at the time it was alleged to have occurred.

As the year closed, thirteen individuals still on active duty had been charged with committing crimes against persons or property in Son My on March 16, 1968. Charges against one of these were dismissed for insufficient evidence, and except for one case at Fort Hood, Texas, and one at Fort Benning, Georgia, the remaining cases were in various stages of judicial proceedings at Third Army headquarters, Fort McPherson, Georgia.

In addition to these cases, twelve officers were charged with failing to report or attempting to conceal the alleged incident. Disposition of these cases was consolidated at First Army headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland. Charges against three of the officers were dismissed, and a decision was pending as the year closed concern-


ing whether to order formal preliminary investigations in the remaining cases, as required under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The investigations also indicated that a number of former soldiers, now civilians, might be implicated in the case. A legal study was under way to determine whether criminal action might be taken against these former soldiers.

In another instance, the so-called Green Beret case, an Army investigation was conducted in July 1969 concerning the alleged death of a Vietnamese male near Nha Trang, Vietnam, on June 20, 1969. As a result of this investigation, charges of murdering and conspiring to murder a suspected agent were preferred against the commanding officer of the 5th Special Forces Group, six of his officers, and one of his noncommissioned officers. In August 1969 a formal pretrial investigation of the charges was conducted pursuant to Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military justice, and on September 22 the Commanding General of Support Troops, U.S. Army, Vietnam, referred the charges against six of the officers to trial by general court-martial, in which the maximum possible sentence was dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all pay and allowance, and life imprisonment. Charges against the remaining two were held in abeyance. On September 29, 1969, the Secretary of the Army assumed jurisdiction and ordered the charges against all accused dismissed. This action was taken because the Central Intelligence Agency, although not directly involved in the alleged incident, determined in the interest of national security that it would make none of its personnel available as witnesses in the trials. Since the accused would require the appearance of some of these witnesses, the Secretary of the Army concluded that a fair trial would not be possible.

Against the background of these cases, the Army reviewed its prisoner of war policies. The regulation providing for annual mandatory training for all Army personnel in the Geneva and Hague conventions relating to prisoner of war treatment was revised and expanded. Stress was placed upon the legal and tactical requirements for humane treatment of enemy military and civilian personnel, including the protection of their property; upon the distinction between legal and illegal orders; upon rules of engagement; and upon war crime reporting procedures. Instruction was to be presented by legally qualified personnel together with combat-experienced commanders. Practical training was to be integrated in tactical training exercises.

During the period covered by this report the U.S. Army con-


tinued to provide the bulk of the equipment to support Republic of Vietnam forces numbering over a million men. The flow was regulated by Vietnam's ability to receive, operate, maintain, and store materiel. Instruction in operation, administration, logistics, and training methods was productive, as was on-the-job training with experienced advisory and operating unit personnel in the field.

Progress in the Vietnamization program became more and more apparent. Vietnamese forces carried out an increasing number of operations, both day and night, some in areas beyond their previous zones of operation. Their dependence on U.S. support was considerably lessened. The operations in Cambodia provided valuable training as well as combat experience and enhanced the combat effectiveness of the Republic of Vietnam forces while paving the way for further U.S. redeployments. As the year closed, Republic of Vietnam forces held operational responsibility for the demilitarized zone separating the two Vietnams, for much of the inland provinces of the II Corps area, for Saigon, and for all of the IV Corps region. This shift in responsibility and the speed and size of U.S. troop withdrawals testified to the success and promise of the Vietnamization program.

Under the pacification program, the United States continued to advise and support Vietnamese efforts to establish security, stabilize and restore local government, and foster social and economic action to unify public support of the national government. The year's goals were to improve territorial security, protect against terrorism, expand the self-defense capability of the people, improve local administration, ameliorate the effects of the war on the individual citizen, inform the people, and in general raise the standard of living for all. Some of these aims were difficult to achieve. Good progress was made in local self-defense and administration and basic social reform. Over-optimism rather than lack of concern explained some of the shortcomings in the program.

Two U.S. Army civil affairs companies and four platoons operated in Vietnam during the 1970 fiscal year period, chiefly at province and district levels, contributing to the over-all pacification effort by conducting water surveys, providing medical and dental care, assisting refugees, constructing schools and sanitary facilities, providing agricultural advice, and handling foreign claims. Two Army engineer construction advisory detachments continued to support the Republic of Vietnam government's rural development program by providing assistance in numerous projects such as repairing dwellings, building roads, schools, dispensaries, and water


systems, and in various other construction and self-help projects. And Army surgical teams continued to work in provincial hospitals, supporting the Republic of Vietnam Ministry of Public Health by providing medical care for civilians, furnishing advice and assistance in public health and sanitation, and training Vietnamese personnel in these areas.


Over the past several years the United States and other Free World forces in Vietnam have had an overwhelming superiority in firepower, mobility, and communications. A high rate of operational readiness for nearly all types of equipment, and an equally high rate of availability of supplies attest to the effectiveness of the logistic support system. This is true despite the fact that these forces had large quantities of sophisticated and complex equipment and were operating in a remote and relatively primitive environment at the end of an attenuated line of communication. There were no embarrassing shortages of ammunition, fuel, or weapons. Ground and air assaults mounted from base camps dotting the countryside were supported by logistic complexes at Long Binh, Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon, and Da Nang, with their computerized depots and deep draft ports.

In 1967, as logistic support operations improved, emphasis was placed increasingly on improving management practices and standards. Substantial progress was made in reducing field stock levels by relying on efficient transportation systems to meet urgent needs and by achieving greater accuracy in stock accounting and inventory. The Joint Logistics Review Board, established in Washington in March 1969, reviewed logistic operations through succeeding months to identify important lessons for the future.

In the field of transportation, the transition from expansion to retrenchment, reduction, and relocation of military operations raised a need for new management ideas and techniques rather than new hardware. The more noteworthy concepts in being or in prospect were the so-called "inventory in motion" control over shipments, closed loop and direct delivery techniques, the use of economical or routine airlift for selected items, and expanded use of containerization.

About 48 percent of all Army-sponsored cargo and 23 percent of the passengers moved during the year were transported to and from Southeast Asia. The Military Sea Transportation Service moved 7,594,200 measurement tons into the area, down by about 1,528,000 from the previous fiscal year. Cargo shipped by air totaled 141,600 short tons, down by about 79,900 from the previous year. Of the


totals, 5,113,300 measurement tons were shipped by surface and 91,600 short tons by air from the continental United States.

During the fiscal year 387,692 passengers were moved from the continental United States to support operations in Southeast Asia, 387,600 by air and 92 by surface. Over 91,700 were moved within the theater.

Various expediting procedures were used to move essential equipment by airlift, perhaps the best known being the Red Ball express, established in 1965 to move critical spare parts and other essential items to repair deadlined equipment. Over 56,000 short tons of cargo were airlifted by this means between December 8, 1965, and June 30, 1969. About 10,000 short tons were delivered in fiscal year 1970.

As the year closed the Army was using nine ports in South Vietnam: Newport, Qui Non, Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, Vung Ro, Cat Lai, Nha Be, and Nha Trang, all deep draft ports, and Phan Rang, a shallow draft port. Dong Tam, a shallow draft port in the Mekong Delta, which had supported the 9th Division, was closed in October 1969 as the division departed. Port congestion was no longer a problem. The average time a ship waited for a berth in Vietnam ports declined from 20.4 days in the critical 1965 period to an average of 1.5 days in 1970. The deep draft ports attained a daily throughput capacity of 25,000 short tons. Quarterly throughput—discharge and outload combined—in Army-operated ports in South Vietnam decreased by about 185,000 short tons compared to fiscal year 1969. During fiscal year 1970 the average ranged from 565,000 short tons in the opening quarter to 601,000 in the closing quarter, as opposed to 807,000 and 728,000 for the corresponding quarters in fiscal year 1969. The decrease was the result of reduced tonnages rather than handling capacity, another reflection of the leveling off in the theater.

Operation of the Saigon commercial port was turned over to the Republic of Vietnam Army during the year. Military cargo destined for U.S. forces in the Saigon area was consigned to Newport for discharge, and military assistance cargo was discharged exclusively at Saigon. To accomplish these arrangements, port designator codes were developed to control shipping and cargo storage, schedules were adjusted to permit fewer ships with larger loads, and Agency for International Development cargo was removed from the Department of Defense transportation system.

Vietnamization of the Saigon port began with on-the-job training of Republic of Vietnam Army personnel in the 65-foot tugs of the U.S. Harbor Craft Company, the tugs that move barges and


berth oceangoing vessels. Personnel were trained in harbor towing, docking and undocking, rigging and inspecting tows, firefighting, diesel engine operation and maintenance, use of drill presses and other power tools, welding, and care and safety practices. There was training in crane operation and in port and terminal maintenance and salvage work, and some trainees were integrated into pier operation and cargo disposition, clearance, and planning. Thus by January 1970, the Republic of Vietnam Army assumed responsibility for discharge and backloading of all cargo arriving at the port of Saigon. Training in landing craft operation was conducted at Vung Tau, covering all echelons of maintenance connected with these craft.

To reduce average port hold times and increase handling efficiency, procedures for handling high priority cargo at aerial ports were revised so that super-priority cargo would not be delayed more than forty-eight hours. The concept was introduced at all continental U.S. aerial ports of embarkation and at twenty-one Air Force offshore stations in January 1970. Port times were considerably reduced at all reporting stations.

Ammunition procurement in fiscal year 1970 was designed to meet Southeast Asia and training requirements and leave sufficient stocks at the end of the funded delivery period to meet minimum needs. The ability of the ammunition production base to accelerate would protect against shortfall. The projected availability of ammunition was based on the assumption that consumption in Southeast Asia would be gradually reduced. Despite the fact that consumption rates varied during the year, no critical shortages were experienced. Where stocks were not adequate enough to meet competing demands, the Department of the Army Allocation Committee, Ammunition, controlled the distribution to U.S. Army and Free World forces, based upon consumption rates and stockage objectives within priorities established by the Army Chief of Staff. Ammunition for Republic of Vietnam Army forces was allocated and distributed in accordance with rates and stockage objectives approved by the joint Chiefs of Staff.

As U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam began in the first quarter of the fiscal year, and with continuing redeployments in prospect, control over the redistribution of equipment became increasingly important. Department of the Army policy guidance stressed that scarce items should be kept under centralized control, while control over other supplies and materiel should be decentralized It was desirable to minimize redistribution costs by making full use


of requirements in Vietnam and the Pacific region. Thus the majority of items were retained in Vietnam, although some shipments were made to U.S. forces in Europe.

The depot maintenance program for U.S. Army, Pacific, in fiscal years 1969 and 1970 was funded at $36 and $46 million respectively, more than double that of 1968. By performing depot maintenance within the command area, the maintenance cycle is shortened, transportation costs and pipeline requirements are reduced, and labor costs are substantially lower. It was possible to repair unserviceable equipment in the Far East that would have been washed out of the system through excessive cost had it been returned to the United States. The work has been done in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, and Taiwan.

In December 1969 a Vietnam asset reconciliation procedure was developed to cope with the problem of reconciling major item requirements and assets in U.S. Army, Vietnam. The concept recognized that units in Vietnam had equipment requirements that had never been formally documented in the authorization system, and that in many instances excess equipment was being used to satisfy real but undocumented requirements. Unit commanders were encouraged to report their actual assets. Those which can be applied against formal authorizations are reported through the regular unit reporting system. Assets on hand in excess of formal authorizations are reported to U.S. Army, Vietnam, where they are recorded in a special account and placed back on loan to the reporting unit. As of June 30, 1970, about $70 million in unreported assets had been accounted for under the new procedure.

Current and projected budget restrictions and force reductions in the Pacific, with attendant reductions in equipment densities, clearly indicated early in fiscal year 1970 that logistical operations should be reorganized and realigned. Thus in August 1969 the first phase of the Master Logistic Plan covering the decade 1970-80 was launched. Initial features included a single requisition pipeline for U.S., Vietnamese, and Free World Military Assistance Forces and a central control facility to integrate fiscal and supply management. A central control facility will be established on Okinawa to perform supply management, programming, and budgeting for all Army elements in northeast and southeast Asia. The inventory control centers in Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea were to be eliminated and their supply management functions assumed by the central control facility. Existing U.S. Army depots in Vietnam and Korea were to be phased down to field depot level and stock only those fast-moving


items justified by demand. Depots in Japan and Thailand were to be reduced to installation supply activity level. The 2d Logistical Command on Okinawa was to become an advance depot.

Ultimately, all requisitions for U.S., Vietnamese, and Free World Military Assistance forces were to be processed through the central control facility, which will maintain logistic and financial management data, develop reports and budgets, and maintain consumption factors by types of forces. Among the anticipated net improvements from the near term portion of the Master Logistics Plan were reductions of inventories, of supplies in the pipeline, and of logistic support forces, as well as improved logistic support organization and financial control.

Under the Vietnamization program, the equipment status was favorable throughout the year, with the supply of essential items in phase with Republic of Vietnam Army unit activation schedules. Vietnamese logistic management and technical service schools trained increasing numbers of students, and, to keep up with the expanding requirement for trained personnel, an on-the-job training program was begun. This program was enlarged from 37 students in 3 courses in April 1969 to 1,500 students in 226 courses as the year closed, and such training was employed in all indigenous logistic commands.

In another move to further Vietnamese logistic self-sufficiency, the U.S. Military Assistance Command and Vietnamese armed forces representatives developed a program to improve Republic of Vietnam Army rebuild depots. By perfecting depot facilities, equipment status, and technical capability, indigenous agencies would be able to carry out efficient repair operations and reduce the amount of materiel shipped out of Vietnam for repair.

Materiel management efforts focused on effective utilization of equipment and supplies in Southeast Asia. As U.S. forces withdraw, their resources are made available to satisfy Republic of Vietnam Army requirements. Shipments from the United States were limited to certain critical items, and U.S. and Republic of Vietnam Army needs were met to a large extent from supplies already on hand in Southeast Asia.

Facilities as well as supplies have been or are to be transferred to Vietnamese control. In the fall of 1969, the Army began developing plans and procedures for the transfer of real and related property. During the fiscal year, as U.S. forces began evacuating certain areas, transfers took place, the Dong Tam base camp heading the list.

The size of the U.S. Army force in Vietnam suggests the magni-


tude of the task of redistributing equipment that attends withdrawal of Army elements. The prospect of massive turn-ins of materiel by redeploying units, some being inactivated and thus not needing to retain equipment, raised the problem of how to inspect, segregate, reallocate, and move the large quantities involved.

Normally a complete and time-consuming technical inspection by qualified mechanics would be performed on each item of equipment to determine its condition and earmark it for a specific level of maintenance. Because of the magnitude of the task in Vietnam, such procedures would retard progress. Consequently, in September 1969 a procedure labeled Special Criteria for Retrograde of Army Materiel (SCRAM) was developed—a simplified inspection-classification system that involves a visual check of an item for missing or damaged parts and for over-all condition. Instituted in October 1969, this procedure was used to classify materiel becoming available as a result of troop redeployment.

Engineer Operations

The engineer force in Vietnam was reduced in fiscal year 1970 from 36,000 to about 30,000 personnel. Most engineer troop activity was devoted to operational and combat support. The troop effort comprised 14 percent in military construction, 47 percent in airfield and road construction, and 39 percent in operational and combat support.

Engineer units in Vietnam were heavily engaged in Vietnamization activities. Engineer equipment with an aggregate value of over $7.5 million was transferred to Vietnamese engineer units. An active affiliation between Vietnamese and U.S. engineer units produced marked improvement in indigenous organization during the year.

Engineer troop activity continued in Thailand. Work progressed on eighty-seven kilometers of highway in northeast Thailand to provide a supply route to the air base at Nakhon Phonom, and a 2,000-man cantonment area was completed on the Gulf of Thailand midway between the Sattahip port complex and the Utapao air base.

Perhaps the most significant engineer construction activity in Vietnam was the lines of communication program. Initiated in 1966, it provides for a network of modern high-speed highways connecting population centers and strategic areas in South Vietnam. The over-all objectives of the LOC program are to support tactical operations by providing routes for the safe movement of materiel and fire support; accelerate the pacification program by opening


up previously inaccessible areas to military forces; and stimulate the economic development of the country by promoting the free movement of foods and goods from farm and factory to market.

The LOC program calls for improving national and interprovincial highways to provide an all-weather, two-lane, class-50 road network extending from the demilitarized zone to the Mekong Delta. The total length of the system is about 4,100 kilometers. The Army's portion of the program (the U.S. Navy is responsible for 425 kilometers) is being carried out by a combination of troop and contractor effort, and during the 1971 fiscal year Republic of Vietnam Army construction units will assume responsibility for 165 kilometers. U.S. Army engineer troops will thus construct something over 2,400 kilometers of roads, and contractor crews will complete the remaining 1,100 kilometers.

This LOC program utilizes somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of the U.S. Army engineer capacity in Vietnam. Its magnitude is demonstrated by the fact that the road-building job is the equivalent of constructing a two-lane highway from Washington, D.C., to Las Vegas, Nevada. By June 30, 1970, about 1,700 kilometers of highway had been completed by troop and contractor effort. To expedite the program, the Army purchased and sent to Vietnam commercial construction equipment worth about $20 million. This shipment marked the first time that off-the-shelf commercial equipment was used without modification or military standardization.

In this connection, a departmental policy letter on providing construction units with commercial equipment was published. The objectives of the policy are to meet Army requirements for construction equipment more promptly; insure that the equipment is of the latest design; reduce the variety of end items and repair parts; procure and support commercial equipment and systems at the lowest life-cycle cost; insure that it meets performance, maintenance, and support requirements before being issued to troops: provide for disposal of materiel; and in general insure that construction equipment is available, reliable, maintainable, adaptable, and versatile. It is anticipated that present plans will be approved and the first commercial equipment fielded during 1971.

The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese continued to employ widespread nuisance mining in South Vietnam during the year. As a result, Army engineers devoted a lot of time and effort to clearing miles of communications routes used by friendly forces. In mine warfare the advantage tends to rest with the party doing the mining, because of options of time, place, and method. In the past year, a lot of attention was centered on countering this threat.


The more effective solution is one that integrates individual and unit training, denial and surveillance measures, and detection and neutralization hardware and techniques. In the individual training area, basic combat trainees at the Army Training Center, Fort Lewis, Washington, were given countermine warfare instruction concurrently with the basic courses. In South Vietnam, units developed integrated programs geared to the specific threats they were encountering; tank-mounted mine-clearing rollers and tunnel and mine detection dogs were both used successfully. The mine problem was also recognized in budget actions at the departmental level.

The Army's engineer laboratories also developed shelters for parked aircraft. New designs for protective revetment to counter blast and fragmentation damage to aircraft on Southeast Asia airfields consist of a thin-walled soil bin about a foot thick with a wall structure using several optional revetting materials including used landing mat. These designs are economical in construction time and effort and practical in terms of the level of protection required.

From the foregoing it will be seen that numerous actions were in progress during the year to reduce U.S. participation in the Vietnam War. Troop levels were substantially reduced. Combat responsibilities were being gradually transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. Indigenous forces were supplied with increasing quantities of equipment and trained in its use, and logistic adjustments between U.S. and Republic of Vietnam forces, involving supplies, equipment, transportation, maintenance and repair, port and base operation, and property, were in progress as the year closed.


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