- Chapter IX:
- Construction Logistics
- The orderly time-phased buildup of logistics support with tactical operations,
as envisioned in Army logistical doctrine, obviously did not occur in Vietnam.
Moreover, there was no meaningful consumption or other experience data upon
which to base support estimates. Nevertheless, the effective support of combat
operations was mandatory, and this meant an influx of mammoth quantities of
supplies of every description well before the availability of either a logistic
base or an adequate logistical organization. A system of "push"
supply was developed as an expedient, with supplies literally pushed into
the theater on a best estimate basis until such time as normal supply procedures
could be established. Consequently, the logistic base was literally engulfed
in a sea of supply which would clog both storage areas and supply machinery
for years afterward. Even as late as 1968 the ill-fated corner of Long Binh
Post known as Area 208 could accurately be described as a disaster area. To
further complicate matters, supply not only arrived in the wrong mix and quantities
but often arrived at the wrong place. The fluidity of the tactical situation
and a lack of supply and transport control resulted in the depositing of tons
of material hundreds of miles from the intended customer.
- The logistics establishment in Vietnam in 1964 was minimal, at least relative
to later requirements, and highly fragmented. It actually consisted of some
sixteen different systems which developed in a more or less hit-and-miss fashion
with co-ordination accomplished essentially by informal working agreements.
This conglomerate structure supported the contingents of six nations: the
United States, South Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, the Republic of the
Philippines, and the Republic of China. The Republic of Vietnam provided some
support, while the United States provided food, individual equipment, administrative
transportation, hospitalization, and maintenance and repair parts support.
This of course excluded the input of military supply and equipment for the
Vietnamese Army, which was accomplished through the military advisory structure.
- No one organization had full responsibility for logistics support,
- which was provided largely on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Headquarters
Support Activity, Saigon, and the MACV headquarters commandant operated parallel
supply lines in support of U.S. advisers until 1966. Four different systems
furnished repairs, and each of the services had its own medical supply system
operating on a "stovepipe" basis to CONUS. Certain services, such
as port shipper functions, and a so-called logistics co-ordinator were assigned
to each of the corps tactical zones. However, even his functions were limited
to billeting, mess operation, generator repair, and the like.
- With the continued growth of American and other contingents, it became apparent
that this minimal and fragmented logistics support system would not work and
that a general overhaul was needed. The logical approach was seen as focusing
support as much as possible within a single command, and in the latter part
of 1964 Military Assistance Command proposed that an Army Logistical Command
be introduced into the country. At least major functions could be combined
under a single command, reducing duplication, ensuring co-ordination and control,
and thus providing better logistical support. The 1st Logistical Command,
then at Fort Hood, Texas, was designated to fill this role. The command was
originally activated in May 1965, with an authorized headquarters strength
of 329 personnel. The enormous expansion of the 1st Logistical Command's responsibilities
was reflected in the size of the organization in mid-1969. At that time the
command's strength was approximately 50,000 military and 30,000 civilian personnel,
and it supported over half a million U.S. and other Free World forces in Vietnam.
However, the evolution of the logistics system resulted from continual command
and management problems inherent in providing logistical support to all U.S.
and Free World contingents.
- From 1965 to 1966, the sixteen different support systems managed by separate
services were pulled together. The command would manage all logistics and
support functions for the Army except for aviation supply and maintenance
support and engineer construction.
- Development, consolidation, and refinement continued into 1967. The logistics
structure of the earlier years was modified to provide more intensive management
in key areas. Engineer facilities engineering was placed under the newly formed
U.S. Army Engineer Construction Agency, Vietnam. Port and depot development
continued and were highlighted by the completion of Newport, the modern military
port facility built on the Saigon River at the cost of over $50 million. Modern
computer equipment was installed in the 14th Inventory Control Center to attempt
to bring some order out of the supply chaos in the depot stock inventory.
- problem encountered was the tremendous influx of supplies which went over
the beaches and through the ports flooding the depots under a massive sea
of matériel and equipment much of which was later found to be unneeded. Push
supplies and duplicate requisitions of thousands of tons of cargo piled up
in the depots, unrecorded and essentially lost to the supply system. In the
latter part of 1967, control was slowly established over the requisitioning
system through the use of automation; the flow of unneeded supplies abated
- The 14th Inventory Control Center, Vietnam, was deployed in December 1965
and was later equipped with third generation computer equipment to manage
USARV's total depot assets. Special projects were established to comb through
all the depots to identify, count, and pick up stock assets which had lost
their supply identity during the "push" period. Thousands of tons
of supplies and matériel were identified, permitting the cancellation of millions
of dollars worth of requisitions. Still more thousands of tons of supplies
were returned to offshore depots for redistribution. The fundamental deficiency
was in the gross inadequacy of the management information system. While many
logistic deficiencies were the natural result of human errors made under pressure,
the majority could be ultimately traced to a lack of timely, accurate, well
analyzed, and well co-ordinated logistics intelligence. The information system,
from bottom echelon to top and back, was essentially a horse and buggy rig
applied to a fantastic array of data. It depended for the most part upon the
manual development of input data, transmitted by telephone, liaison officer,
or written reports; it was a laborious manual affair. Finally, hand-annotated
charts were prepared and presented to the commander by Vu-Graph display. Harvesting
and analyzing masses of presumably "real time" data through these
procedures are akin to nailing jelly to the wall with sometimes similar results.
- The major problems in defining construction needs in Vietnam had resulted
from an inadequate planning capability in the Army and Navy components of
the Military Assistance, Command headquarters. Makeshift staffs were forced
to plan while elsewhere other plans were already afoot. Confusion and delays
resulted. Many of the largest installations, originally established for no
more than initial homesteads, grew from very small bases. Comprehensive long-range
planning was made more difficult by the continued incremental increase in
force size and structure, which only further added to logistics headaches.
- The data published in Technical Manuals 5-301, 5-302, and 5-303 was originally
gathered to provide base planning information.
- These manuals represented a compilation of staff guidance for ordering and
constructing installations and individual facilities in the theater of operations.
Collectively known as the Engineer Functional Components System, or EFCS,
the information was compiled to make base building a rather simple task. The
data available in these three technical manuals could be used in either of
two ways. Individual buildings or facilities could be constructed using the
plans provided and ordering material from the bills of material found in the
last volume, or an entire installation could be ordered by placing a single
requisition in the supply system.
- Since all the structures in the EFCS were wooden and designed for a temperate
as opposed to a tropical climate, if individual structures were built using
the plans and bills of material provided with certain modifications-everything
went well. Certain items would not be ordered, and other federal stock numbers
would be used to order slightly different materials. For example, tar paper
for roofing would be replaced with corrugated steel roofing, and more screening
would have to be ordered for a tropical hut. However, if the material for
an entire installation were ordered by requesting that installation by number
on only one requisition, an entire bill of materials including insulation,
roofing felt, and tar paper would arrive. And how this bulk construction material
- VIETNAMESE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS erect a tropicalized hut at Tan Son
- arrived was an entirely different matter. The palletized lumber, crates
of nails, and electrical and plumbing fixtures were shipped by the Army Materiel
Command. Lumber for one project looks like lumber for any other project. Needless
to say, many facilities were diverted before they ever became facilities.
Identification of construction matériel assets was a problem of considerable
magnitude. Materials identified by federal stock numbers did not present a
problem and were managed as provided for by current supply directives. However,
bulk construction buys, especially electrical and plumbing supplies and other
special purpose procurement items, were identified by special project codes
and consisted of items which were not, in approximately 60 percent of the
total, identified by federal stock numbers. Shipments were made up of several
packages placed inside a large crate which in turn was identified with a three
letter project code. In some instances the crates were stored by project code,
and the individual items were never recorded on stock record cards. In other
instances the crates were opened, and each item was stored according to either
federal. stock number or federal supply class without regard to project code
or funding source. Those items which were not identified by a federal stock
number were assigned a depot number for storage and identification purposes.
Unfortunately, in most instances each depot assigned a different number to
the same item, and any attempt at accomplishing a total inventory of nonstock
numbered. items was doomed to failure.
- Construction materials for use in I Corps Tactical Zone were supplied, with
few exceptions, by the U.S. Navy. Materials for II, III, and IV Corps Tactical
Zones were stored in four depots located at Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh Bay, Long Binh,
and Vung Tau. Each of these depots had an engineer construction materials
yard operated by civilian contractors. Bulk purchase assets were, in general,
distributed with approximately 25 percent to Qui Nhon, 26 percent to Cam Ranh
Bay, 33 percent to Long Binh, and 16 percent to Vung Tau. Army Operations
and Maintenance (OMA) assets were stored according to demand experience or
in forecast amounts for each individual depot. Certain items such as lumber,
asphalt products, and cement were stored and issued under the common stockpile
concept to increase supply flexibility and materiel availability. These items
were stored in a common location at each depot and issued according to immediate
requirements without regard to funding sources.
- Accountability for construction material assets in storage depots was a
responsibility of the 1st Logistical Command. Construction assets received
for storage were entered on an account for the item in question. Receiving
engineer construction units were required
- to charge issued materials against an approved construction directive and
report material consumption as completed work "in place." Operations
and Maintenance construction materials were accounted for in much the same
manner except that materials were accounted for by completed individual job
order requests. Errors in accounting procedures were common. Improper identification
of incoming shipments, manual errors in posting stock records, cancellation
of projects before completion with assets diverted to other projects of higher
priority, inability of units to return unused assets to depot stocks, and
the absence of a uniform inventory control system at all levels resulted in
questionable over-all accounting for construction materials. Accountability
and balances were maintained on separate stock record cards. The concept provided
for loaning assets to either account, when required to prevent work stoppage,
and repayment in kind when "due-in" assets were received.
- When adequate stocks were available in the supporting storage depot and
the stock records indicated an asset's availability, requisitioning units
experienced excellent supply response. If, however, the supporting depot was
out of stock and its records indicated assets due in, the requesting unit
could expect not to have its requirements satisfied from available stocks
located in another depot. The passing of unfilled construction material requisitions
to the Inventory Control Center for referral to other depots was considered
an exception to normal practice. One program, Construction Materials-Special
Handling, operated by the 1st Logistical Command, was successful in reducing
procurement lead time provided only that the required materials were air transportable.
- By late 1966 use of the Engineer Functional Components System was discontinued.
The system had been found unsatisfactory for providing mat,6riel support on
a long-term basis, design criteria were incompatible with theater demands,
and building and maintenance forecasts were not possible. The predicting of
requirements for construction materials involved a summation of materials
required to complete programed construction based on projected manpower and
equipment resources, and this was not provided for in the Engineer Functional
- Requests for materials required for new construction projects were based
on estimated construction projects for a given six- to twelve-month period.
Requests were submitted to the 1st Logistical Command in the form of Construction
Material Requirement Letters, which were used for bulk procurement and to
assign material storage at preselected depots in specified quantities. Bulk
material purchase requests valued at $45 million were submitted between
- July 1967 and May 1968. This amount was not, however, anywhere near the
sum of construction material expenses.
- Operating and maintenance budgets and funds were usually determined by 1st
Logistical Command based on data as it accumulated at mat,6riel storage depots.
Wide demand fluctuations, however, forced 1st Logistical Command to resort
to forecasting for future requirements. Demands for cement, asphalt, bridge
timbers, and structural steel generally defied prediction.
- Once in the country, construction assets, with certain exceptions, were
placed on the list of command-controlled items to provide some measure of
intensified management. Requisitioning procedures were developed wherein each
requisition was to be annotated with the appropriate construction directive
number and account coding before the storage depot would honor the document.
Operating and maintenance assets were not placed under any type of special
control. They were ordered, received, stored, and issued in accordance with
current basic supply regulations. Control of issues was not very effective
in that the authority to requisition and quantities involved were based primarily
on the honesty of the requisitioner.
- Identifying and segregating materials for purposes of fund accounting in
an active theater is almost impossible, and if accounting must be done it
should be done at the procuring agency level. Accountability for all funded
materials and installed equipment should have ceased with their shipment from
CONUS or the country where they were purchased. Instead, identification of
construction material assets became a problem of increasing magnitude. Materials
identified by federal stock number did not present a problem, but because
of the type of construction going on, about 60 percent of the total,,, items
were not covered by stock numbers. Since each depot had created its own accounting
system for these items, no over-all correlation of accounting was possible.
Depots receiving requisitions for an out-of-stock item placed the requisitions
on back order without referral to other depots where the stocks might be available.
- In 1969 Major General Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., Commanding General, 1st Logistical
Command, had occasion to report:
- We have massed at one time in Vietnam far too many thousands of tons of
construction supplies to meet requirements of the construction program. It
has been push requisitioned in terms of complete programs or to cover R&U
requirements covering many months ahead. Thus the logistic system has become
bogged down with supplies far greater than the immediate requirement necessitated.
(A good example of this is the fact that we at one time had over two years'
supply of M8A1 matting-this equaled approximately 180,000 short tons that
were stored in our three major depots). This unnecessarily increases security
- The combat zone is not the place to store equipment and supplies that are
not essential . . . .
- If there was an overabundance of construction materials in Vietnam at any
time, the oversupply of repair parts was more of a problem than an asset.
Parts were often lost somewhere in the supply system. The nonsupply of repair
parts for construction equipment continued to account for two-thirds of the
not operationally ready (NOR) rate. Worldwide, the NOR rate for construction
equipment is 25 percent, of this parts supply (NORS) accounts for 16 percent
and maintenance (NORM) for 9 percent. The NOR rate in Vietnam was worse during
the early stages of the war for a wide variety of reasons.
- Compared to other Army equipment, engineer machinery has a tremendously
high rate of use. Nearly all construction units in
- D-7 TRACTOR working a borrow pit.
- Vietnam operated on a two-shift schedule, approximately twenty hours a day.
While tanks may operate three or four hours a day, a D-7 tractor may be run
twenty hours with little time out for maintenance. In order to keep the engineer
equipment deadline rate at an acceptable low, a sizable maintenance reserve
or "float" was required. The punishing environment in Vietnam, however,
forced the number of items in the float to be raised as high as 30 percent
of the total item assets.
- Contributing to the maintenance problem was the high equipment density.
For example, a light equipment company augmented each combat engineer battalion.
This was quite a bit in excess of what had previously been considered normal.
While the equipment augmentation was most helpful and desirable, it saturated
the direct support maintenance people with work. On the other hand, the construction
battalions had organic direct support maintenance capabilities. We have found
that it is essential to have a similar capability if maintenance backlogs
are to be avoided.
- Since the prescribed load list, or the combat essential supplies and parts
needed to sustain a unit in combat for at least fifteen days, is made up on
the basis of experience, "demand" repair parts items usually constitute
the greater part of the load list. But many engineer battalions were activated
and deployed before they could develop demand data. Almost the same was true
of maintenance units. Their authorized stockage lists were based on the equipment
the unit supported. The repair parts stock level for each piece of equipment
must be developed on the basis of prescribed items and demand-supported items.
At least one direct support unit was deployed to Vietnam without its authorized
stockage lists because no information was available on the equipment to be
supported. This particular unit was ineffective for about a year. Subsequently,
arrangements were made to furnish direct support units with parts for equipment
known to have been shipped to Vietnam, thereby assuring at least a basic stock
and permitting the theater to redistribute assets as necessary.
- Resupply of parts was based essentially on a "purchase as needed"
basis, since theater stocks were minimal. The low demand for individual construction
equipment parts left many of these parts ineligible for stockage, and therefore
they were not in depot stocks when requisitioned. Parts delivery lead times
of six months to a year were not uncommon.
- Maintenance difficulties were further caused by shortages of skilled mechanics
and the locations of maintenance support units. Other problems were caused
by the need to evacuate heavy construction equipment from jungle areas, requirements
- trailers, movement only by convoy, unexpected damage peculiar to jungle
operations: radiator piercing, oil-pan rupture, and burned out engines. These
problems were made worse by the many commissioned and noncommissioned officers
who were not adequately trained in equipment maintenance. Problems were further
aggravated by some officers who achieved low deadline rates through inadequate
repair; lick and promise maintenance was good enough. In order to assist troop
commanders, the USARV Engineer Command directed its brigades to start command
maintenance management inspection teams and to establish both readiness assistance
teams and a school for unit supply clerks.
- Nearly $16 million worth of commercial construction equipment had been purchased
with new construction funds in 1969 to hasten the construction and upgrading
of more than 4,000 kilometers of Vietnamese highways. Contractor response
in providing off-the-shelf equipment was more rapid than that experienced
in the normal procurement of standard military items. Since most of this equipment
was new to the Army, the contract provided that factory representatives would
prepare the equipment for use and conduct operator training programs. A separate
contract was awarded for civilian support to maintain the equipment, which
included procurement of repair parts.
- The concept of introducing commercial equipment into the Army in the field
proved feasible in spite of some minor problems. For example, it was still
exceedingly difficult to procure repair parts for nonstandard equipment. The
procedure was to submit these repair parts requests to 1st Logistical Command
for purchasing and contracting in CONUS and offshore procurement areas. There
was no backup maintenance support for repair or repair parts of engineer nonstandard
equipment beyond user level. The problems of special tools, and special repair
and operator techniques, as well as additional requirements for operators
and maintenance personnel for all echelons of repair remained.
- To remedy the supply repair parts situation, a program called Red Ball Express
was started in December of 1965 for all service equipment. It was originally
designed to expedite the supply of repair parts for deadlined combat essential
equipment; however, the program was later expanded to provide parts for equipment
which was on the brink of maintenance failure. Red Ball provided the highest
priority available for supply requisitioning and in that respect could be
used to measure the effectiveness and performance of routine requisitioning
- The initiator of the requisition assigned a document number to his requisition
which was maintained throughout the system.
- REPAIR PARTS .FOR NONSTANDARD EQUIPMENT like this rock crusher caused
a continual logistics problem.
- This number was unique for Red Ball requisitions in that the document serial
number was always in the 6,000 series. Thus, Red Ball requisitions were easily
identifiable as the most urgent of requisitions. Since all requisitions were
processed identically by machines, the Red Ball requisitions stood out in
- The Logistics Control Office, Pacific, located at Fort Mason, California,
controlled all requisitions. In addition to providing a positive control over
Red Ball requisitions and ensuring prompt action on items affecting operational
readiness, Red Ball procedures facilitated compilation of data in a form which
was extremely useful to managers at all levels in that specific problems were
- Because there were so many nonmilitary items in use at the inception of
the Red Ball system, requisitions by part number rather than federal stock
number accounted for one-third of all requisitions received. This problem
was significantly reduced. During the period April through June 1969, part
number requisitions represented 8 percent of the total, or 3,289, individual
requisitions. However, further analysis of these 3,289 items provided insight
into more specific problem areas.
- Both divisional and nondivisional engineer units experienced critical shortages
of authorized equipment, particularly for earth
- moving, compaction, and water and asphalt distribution. Since the units
were short authorized items, the maintenance float system for backup support
was not developed for numerous essential construction items of equipment,
with the result that the full construction potential of engineer units was
not realized. These shortages can be attributed to loss of replacement requisitions
somewhere between the using units and CONUS; lack of reconciliation between
theater assets and assets as reflected by Army agencies; inadequate replacement
factors; and the restrictions on the equipment purchase budget.
- It is axiomatic that requirements for materials to support combat operations
will tend to have priority over those needed for base development; however,
a balanced receipt of both is required in any theater of war. In many cases
in Vietnam, scarce items of construction materials were diverted from base
development projects to support fire base and heliport construction. However,
the large quantities of construction materials shipped into Vietnam during
1965 to 1967 alleviated much of the competition between claimants for combat
support and service support. Not until a high-volume flow of construction
materials was achieved could the constraint on base development be relieved.
- The manner in which the fuel problem was finally solved aptly demonstrates
the frustration inherent in Vietnamese construction logistics. If we consider
that petroleum is one of the indispensable items without which a modern army
cannot function, the confusion and waste inherent in the fuel supply problem
should show what efforts were involved in support of the most essential construction.
- At the beginning of 1965, the U.S. military had a limited petroleum logistic
support capability in Vietnam. Three international oil companies, Esso, Shell,
and Caltex, provided for virtually the entire oil supply system in Vietnam.
Coastal, inland waterway, and overland transportation of bulk products, drummed
fuels, and packaged lubricants were all provided by commercial suppliers.
The contractors made all deliveries, including those to remote areas, although
the facilities of these three companies were mainly situated at Nha Be, nine
miles south of Saigon.
- The contractor method of providing support had worked simply because U.S.
military forces were in an advisory role. Total petroleum requirements were
small and could be met through the use of existing commercial facilities.
Before 1965 the small U.S. military orders in Southeast Asia were delivered
in retail quantities, often in 55-gallon drums, to various locations in the
field. Military requirements rose gradually from year to year until 1966.
Through 1965 only a moderate expansion of commercial facilities was neces-
- sary to handle the slight increase in military requirements. During 1965,
however, orders rose abruptly. It became necessary to decide on a course of
action. Should we continue commercial support through the commercial distribution
system, construct military storage, or use a combination of these?
- At the time of the force buildup, the total oil and fuel storage in Vietnam
amounted to approximately 1.6 million barrels, which was virtually all commercial.
Approximately 80 percent of the storage was at the main terminals at Nha Be,
12 percent was at Da Nang, and the remainder was at other locations throughout
Vietnam. None of these facilities could take on a fully loaded tanker. Nha
Be, situated on a river, some thirty-six miles from the coast, had a draft
limitation of twenty-six to twenty-seven feet. As a result, Nha Be had to
be supplied by special shallow-draft tankers or by T-2 tankers loaded only
to about 80 percent capacity. In the Da Nang area, installations at Lien Chieu
had a draft of twenty-three feet and Nai Hon had a draft of fourteen feet.
Lien Chieu could unload vessels of T-1 size, but Nai Hon could handle only
barges that shuttled loads from tankers anchored in Da Nang Bay. Small terminals,
such as Qui Nhon on the coast and Can Tho, Vinh Long, and Go Vap on inland
waterways, were supplied by barge from Nha Be.
- Initial military support was provided by assault equipment. In the Army,
Navy, and Marine Corps, this equipment consisted primarily of 10,000-gallon
collapsible tanks, 4-inch rubber hose, and 350-gallon-per-minute pumps. The
Army and Navy also used buoyant and bottom-laid pipelines for ship-to-shore
transfer into assault storage tanks. This equipment was designed, however,
for the assault phase of an operation and should have normally been replaced
as the operations area moved inland.
- Of primary importance to Air Force operations were the R-1 portable hydrant
fueling systems, which were 50,000-gallon collapsible tanks capable of servicing
two aircraft at the rate of 300 gallons per Minute. In January 1965, twenty-five
of these systems were in Air Force inventories throughout the world. As operations
in Vietnam expanded, they were all committed in Southeast Asia.
- Early in 1965, evidence clearly pointed to the eventual exhaustion of commercial
capabilities in the area. Although industry was expanding moderately, the
expansion would not be sufficient to meet the additional needs of the military.
Additional action was therefore necessary to provide the required support
capability. Early in 1965 the policy for Vietnam called for continued reliance
on commercial support. Admiral Felt hoped that under this policy industry
would construct additional petroleum facilities in Vietnam
- for military purposes. To encourage civilian efforts, the Defense Fuel Supply
Center issued on 17 May 1965 a request for proposals. Replies were not responsive
for two reasons. Commercial storage already in being was far more than adequate
for any foreseeable civilian demand after the end of hostilities, and the
economic and physical hazards involved limitations for expansion. In view
of these unattractive features, industry was reluctant to invest more in POL
- In July 1965 Admiral Sharp, the new Commander in Chief, Pacific, recognizing
the limitations of commercial support and the necessity for augmenting or
replacing the commercial system, made specific assignments of responsibilities
for support to the component commands. The Army was assigned support responsibility
south of the Chu Lai area-this assignment covered the II, III, and IV Corps
areas. The Navy was assigned support responsibility from Chu Lai to the Demilitarized
Zone. The Air Force was assigned support responsibilities at airfields primarily
designated for Air Force use.
- Facilities ashore were so limited that floating storage was required during
the early stages of the buildup. Continuation of this expensive practice was
unfortunately necessary. Most of the problem was directly related to a lack
of adequate American-owned or American-controlled bulk fuel storage. Because
of the lack of adequate military storage, reliance was placed on a commercial-military
system. The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Commander, Service Forces,
Pacific, recognized the problem and gave the highest priority to remedial
construction and therefore diverted still more engineers. In 1965 the limited
military permanent storage tanks in Vietnam were actually owned by the Vietnamese
Air Force, and through local arrangements at Da Nang and Bien Hoa they were
operated by the U.S. Air Force in support of all forces at those bases.
- When the decision was made to provide a petroleum support capability in
Vietnam, construction of storage facilities was controlled to the same extent
as other Military Construction. program projects and was subject to established
policy and guidance. Storage was designed to augment or, if necessary, replace
the existing commercial system. As the consumption of petroleum increased
in Vietnam, the Army and Navy built semipermanent steel tankage for storage
areas while the Air Force did the same for air bases. Initial storage was
constructed to replace collapsible bladders at Da Nang, Chu Lai, Qui Nhon,
An Khe, Tuy Hoa, Phan Rang, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, Long Binh,
and Can Tho. From late 1965 through 1966, military steel tankage and pipelines
were constructed, at all these areas as well as at Pleiku, Vung Ro Bay, Phan
Thiet, and Soc Trang. The construction at Cam Ranh Bay was in
- BLADDER FUEL CELLS lie in sandbag revetments at the Cam Ranh POL facility.
- line with plans to make that location a major military redistribution facility.
The primary source of semipermanent tankage became the 10,000-barrel-capacity
bolted steel tanks in the inventory of the Navy Advanced Base Functional Component
System. The Navy released 127 of these tanks to the Army and Air Force for
use in Vietnam and Thailand.
- The services did not have enough organic equipment or trained construction
personnel to satisfy the heavy demand for constructing the needed port facilities,
storage complexes, and distribution systems. Therefore, each to varying degrees
had to rely on contractors to provide these facilities and systems.
- By July 1966, U.S. forces were operating at more than fifty locations throughout
Vietnam. Only twenty of those locations had a bulk fuel storage capability.
The others used packaged stocks because requirements were small enough or
because there was a lack of bulk fuel storage equipment.
- In October 1966 the joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out the need to construct
more petroleum product storage facilities in Vietnam, stating that a storage
capacity equal to thirty days' usage plus 10 percent would provide an average
of about twenty days' supply on hand and that to maintain any semblance of
a thirty-day level of stocks on hand about fifty days of storage capacity
would be required. The storage situation in Vietnam was the subject of several
messages between the joint Chiefs of Staff and Admiral Sharp from
- October 1966 to February 1967. Agreement was finally reached on a total
construction goal of 4.4 million barrels of storage. While the differences
in storage policy were being discussed, the military construction program
for MACV never scheduled storage for more than 3.3 million barrels.
- Shell Oil Company increased its petroleum complex at Da Nang with a mooring
for T-5 tankers, 125,000 barrels of storage, and a
- pipeline connected with the military pipeline to the air base at Marble
Mountain. After negotiations and construction delays, the facility at Da Nang
was ready for operation by 1 January 1967. In the I Corps Tactical Zone, construction
of tankage at Tan My was completed in 1967, and the Naval Support Activity
assumed operation of the facility on 15 December 1967.
- Since the demand continued to grow, storage capacity requirements continued
to change, but actual storage capacity never reached planned for levels at
most locations. Da Nang, with thirty-five days' storage, was the only major
complex to equal or exceed the thirty-three days of storage desired by Admiral
Sharp. Monthly consumption of oil products increased from 500,000 barrels
per month in July 1965 to a high of more than 3 million barrels per month
in 1968 while military storage rose to more than 2.6 million barrels. In the
absence of sufficient permanent storage tanks, collapsible tanks (primarily
10,000-, 20,000-, and 50,000-gallon capacity) proved to be effective and highly
useful. By October 1969 over $27 million worth of collapsible bladders had
been shipped to Vietnam.
- Since pipeline movement of fuel and oil was more efficient and
- FUEL PIPELINES stretched 270 miles through Vietnam.
- economical than highway transport when an area was secure enough for its
use, a military construction program was undertaken, and by 1968 over 270
miles of pipeline were in use throughout Vietnam. (Map 11) However,
commercial facilities in Vietnam remained vulnerable to the enemy. Particularly
exposed to hostile action were the large commercial POL facilities at Nha
Be near Saigon which, because of their contiguous locations, were particularly
subject to the spread of fire and widespread damage by explosion. Tanker access
facilities were also in jeopardy. Lien Chieu, across Da Nang Bay some eight
miles northwest of the city and the second largest POL facility in early 1965,
was very vulnerable to the enemy. It was the first of the commercial facilities
to be badly damaged by the enemy when, in August 1965, he destroyed 60 percent
of the tank-
Thousands Of Barrels
|Number And Capacity
Of Tanks In Place
Thousands Of Barrels
Number, DIA, (Inches), Length (Miles)
|Phu Cat (AFB)
|Cam Ranh Bay
|Long Bien (Power Plant) (Vinnell)
|Can Tho Binh Thuy
- age. Since that time, there have been a number of attacks on commercial
facilities including those at Nha Be, Tan Son Nhut, Qui Nhon, and Lien Chieu.
The most significant losses amounted to $8.5 million at the Shell Nha Be Terminal.
- Certainly early project planning is mandatory for logistics support, but
when full planning for logistics is impossible-and not every contingency can
be foreseen-backup programs should be available. To satisfy requirements like
these and situations like Vietnam; the Department of Defense must maintain
a prestructured base development planning group organized and staffed with
experts that can respond far in advance of troop deployments. There must be
specialists in electric power generation and distribution, port and airfield
construction, POL storage and distribution, all areas of construction technology,
and construction materials and equipment. If such a group had been available
at the outset of the Vietnam buildup, some of the confusion in planning for
base development logistics early in 1965 could have been avoided.
- Technically, under current Army organization and supply doctrine, the engineer
has no direct responsibility at the "wholesale" and procurement
level of supply other than to forecast requirements for nonrecurring construction.
In practice, the engineers in Vietnam, out of necessity, became heavily involved
in supply, in that they assisted depots sorting and identifying engineer items,
traced and expedited requisitions, and reviewed operations and maintenance
and new construction matériel requirements. This was necessary when bulk shipments
of literally thousands of tons of engineer matériel were pushed into the country.
Control and management of these supplies were overwhelming, and there was
a definite need for tighter control.
- Only the hard-surfaced highways in Vietnam could be used as main supply
routes all year round, and they were constantly mined by the enemy. Until
the jungle could be cleared along the sides of the roads, ambushes were frequent.
Secondary roads were passable only in the dry season. Consequently, a heavy
burden was placed on engineer units in moving construction materials into
inland bases. In any future conflict in underdeveloped countries, land-clearing
equipment, mine detectors, and road construction equipment should be introduced
with the first deployments. There can be no construction until the logistics
problems are licked.
- page created 15 December 2001
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