Command and Control

Major General George S. Eckhardt



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 72-600186

First Printed 1974-CMH Pub 90-8


The United States Army has met an unusually complex challenge in Southeast Asia. In conjunction with the other services, the Army has fought in support of a national policy of assisting an emerging nation to develop governmental processes of its own choosing, free of outside coercion. In addition to the usual problems of waging armed conflict, the assignment in Southeast Asia has required superimposing the immensely sophisticated tasks of a modern army upon an underdeveloped environment and adapting them to demands covering a wide spectrum. These involved helping to fulfill the basic needs of an agrarian population, dealing with the frustrations of antiguerrilla operations, and conducting conventional campaigns against well-trained and determined regular units.

It is as always necessary for the U.S. Army to continue to prepare for other challenges that may lie ahead. While cognizant that history never repeats itself exactly and that no army ever profited from trying to meet a new challenge in terms of the old one, the Army nevertheless stands to benefit immensely from a study of its experience, its shortcomings no less than its achievements.

Aware that some years must elapse before the official histories will provide a detailed and objective analysis of the experience in Southeast Asia, we have sought a forum whereby some of the more salient aspects of that experience can be made available now. At the request of the Chief of Staff, a representative group of senior officers who served in important posts in Vietnam and who still carry a heavy burden of day-to-day responsibilities has prepared a series of monographs. These studies should be of great value in helping the Army develop future operational concepts while at the same time contributing to the historical record and providing the American public with an interim report on the performance of men and officers who have responded, as others have through our history, to exacting and trying demands.

All monographs in the series are based primarily on official records, with additional material from published and unpublished secondary works, from debriefing reports and interviews with key participants, and from the personal experience of the author. To


facilitate security clearance, annotation and detailed bibliography have been omitted from the published version; a fully documented account with bibliography is fled with the Office of the Chief of Military History.

The reader should be reminded that most of the writing was accomplished while the war in Vietnam was at its peak, and the monographs frequently refer to events of the past as if they were taking place in the present.

Major General George S. Eckhardt has exceptional personal knowledge of command and control arrangements in Vietnam. In December 1966 he commanded the 9th Infantry Division and deployed it to South Vietnam. He commanded the division in combat until June 1967 when he was assigned as Deputy Commanding General, II Field Force, Vietnam. In January 1968 he became the Commanding General of the Delta Military Assistance Command and Senior Advisor, IV Corps Tactical Zone, with headquarters in Can Tho, Republic of Vietnam, and remained in these positions until the summer of 1969. The author returned to Vietnam in April 1971 as Special Assistant to the Deputy Commander, MACV, for Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS).

Washington, D. C.
15 January 1973
Major General, USA
The Adjutant General



In combat situations prior to Vietnam, U.S. military forces had an existing command and control structure which could be tailored to accomplish the task at hand. In Europe during World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower modified the command structures developed for the North African and Mediterranean operations to form Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). After his departure from Bataan in 1942, General Douglas MacArthur had several months in which to design the command structure that ultimately contributed to the defeat of the Japanese. Finally, the U.S. Eighth Army, the dominant command structure controlling all UN forces in combat in Korea, and the General Headquarters, United Nations Command, in Japan, existed prior to the beginning of the Korean War. Such was not the case in Vietnam. There, the command and control arrangements, which ultimately directed a U.S. Military force of over 500,000 men, evolved from a small military assistance mission established in 1950. The Military Assistance Advisory Group's philosophy of assistance . rather than command significantly influenced the development of the organization.

This monograph describes the development of the U. S. military command and control structure in Vietnam. The focus of the study is primarily on the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), and the U.S. Army in Vietnam (USARV). The relationships with the joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC), and other outside agencies are discussed only as their decisions, policies, and directives affected MACV and operations within South Vietnam. The air war against North Vietnam and naval operations of the U.S. Seventh Fleet were CINCPAC's responsibilities and are only mentioned in regard to their impact on MACV and the forces under MACV.

This study is not a conventional military or diplomatic history of the war in Vietnam. Rather, it is an analytical appraisal of the command- and control structure.

There is no single study of command and control in Vietnam in existence. Several primary sources cover particular time periods,


and special studies provide selective but restricted coverage. The command histories of MACV and CINCPAC are useful references. The end-of-tour reports of senior military officials who served in Vietnam, particularly the combined end-of-tour reports of Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp and General William C. Westmoreland, add further depth.

The histories of the United States Army, Pacific, and United States Army, Vietnam, provided additional information, as did the special reports of the 1st Logistical Command. Data furnished by the Armed Forces Staff College and the Command and General Staff College provided material for the section on current doctrine for unified commands. The official histories of World War II and Korea, prepared by the Office, Chief of Military History, offer useful comparisons with the history of earlier unified commands.

In researching and writing this monograph the author received assistance from many organizations and individuals.

The Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Army War College, Brigadier General Wallace C. Magathan, Jr., provided the author with much backup material and acted as an assistant from the inception of this monograph to its completion. Major General Charles J. Timmes (Retired) provided a valuable service in checking the monograph for accuracy concerning the period when he was the Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group. The Office, Chief of Military History, provided advice and sources of information, made available unpublished documents and data relating to U.S. Military activities in Vietnam, - and assisted in preparing photographs, maps, and charts.

The cheerful and efficient documentary research assistance of Miss Carmen Clark of the U.S. Army War College Library relieved the staff of much tedious work. Also, the U.S. Army War College Library under the direction of Miss Ruth Longhenry provided an ideal atmosphere for the research and writing.

The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Combat Developments Command at Carlisle Barracks gave its support, and the contributions of Colonel Ralph T. Tierno, Jr., of that organization were noteworthy.

Major Paul L. Miles, Jr., Office, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, was most co-operative and helpful in making available much primary source material.

Thanks are due also to Colonel John P. Lucas, Jr., of the Staff and Faculty, Armed Forces Staff College, and to Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd R. Kelly, Staff and Faculty, Command and General Staff College, for their contribution of research material.


A particular debt of gratitude is owed the twenty-six senior military and civilian officials for taking time from their busy schedules to answer the questionnaire related to this study.

Another contributor to the successful completion of this monograph was Mrs. Donna L. Moyer, whose tasks were keeping records, assisting with the organization, preparing associated correspondence, and typing many of the various drafts. She was ably assisted by the members of the U.S. Army War College typing pool headed by Mrs. June L. Rhoads.

Finally, special debts of gratitude are owed to a member of the U.S. Army War College faculty, Colonel James M. McGarity, who acted as a team chief for the preparation of the monograph, and to five members of the Class of 1971 of that college who, as members of the team, devoted considerable time in helping him with the research and writing. They are Colonel Leslie D. Carter, Colonel Charles J. Bauer, Colonel Duane H. Smith, Lieutenant Colonel William C. Rousse, and Lieutenant Colonel William P. Snyder.

Saigon, Vietnam
1 December 1972
Major General, U.S. Army




  Chapter    Page
  Introduction 3
  Joint Doctrine for Unified Commands 3
  The Beginning of U.S. Support to Vietnam 6
  MAAG, Indochina: The Forerunner 7
  The Geneva Accords 9
  Post-Geneva Arrangements 10
  Response to Insurgency 18
  Command Relationships 23
  The Command Is Established 27
  The Military Assistance Advisory Group 30
  U.S. Army Support Group, Vietnam 31
  Contingency Considerations 33
  Deputy Army Component Commander 36
  Army-Air Force Relations 37
  Reorganization of MACV Headquarters (May 1984) 38
  Logistic Problems 42
  The 1st Logistical Command 44
  Other Command Reorganizations 45
  U.S. Army, Vietnam 49
  Field Forces, Vietnam 52
  The U.S. Marine Corps 54
  Organization of Advisory Effort 56
  Control of U.S. Operating Forces 58
  Co-ordination with Vietnamese and Free World Forces 59
  Logistic Support 60
  Communications-Electronics 60
  Analysis 61
  Pacification 64
  Response to the Communist Threat in the North 73
  Naval Forces, Vietnam 77
  Mobile Riverine Force 78
  Additional Military Assistance Commands 80
  U.S. Army Logistical Advisory Effort 81
  Summary and Conclusions 82



No     Page
1. Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission, 1956 15
2. Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam, 1956 16
3. Temporary Equipment Recovery Mission, 1960 17
4. U.S. Command Relationships in Vietnam, 1962 32
5. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, 1965 56
6. Pacific Command Relationships, 1967 67
7. CORDS Field Organization 72
8. Organizational Structure and Command Relationships of I Corps: March 1968 76
9. Command Relations for Riverine Operations 79
10. Tactical Ground Forces 83
11. Proposed Command and Control Arrangements 88



1. South Vietnam Administrative Divisions 2



Brigadier General Francis G. Brink 8
Major General Thomas J. H. Trapnell 8
Lieutenant General John W. O'Daniel 11
Lieutenant General Samuel T. Williams 14
Lieutenant General Lionel C. McGarr 21
Main Entrance to MAAG Headquarters 23
Lieutenant General Paul D. Harkins 28
Main Entrance to MACV I Headquarters 39
General William C. Westmoreland 42
Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor 48
American Embassy Annex Building 49
Headquarters of the U.S. Army, Vietnam 52
MACV Headquarters Complex 62
Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge 65
Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker 69
American Embassy in Saigon 70
Lieutenant General William B. Rosson 75
General William W. Momyer, USAF 75
Major General George S. Eckhardt 81
Lieutenant General Bruce Palmer, Jr. 82

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files except the pictures on pages 48, 65, and 69, which are from Department of State files.

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Last updated 8 December 2003