VNI - 334 


Exit Interview,

Cam Ranh Bay Support Command


NOTE: This document has been retyped in a manner to replicate as closely as possible the exact appearance of the original which is on file in the Vietnam Interview Collection (VNI) of the Historical Resources Branch, US Army Center of Military History. A handful of typographical errors have been corrected to make the document more valuable to word searches in the HTML language of the Internet. The original document was not classified. 


AVCA GO-MH 7 February 1970

Department Of The Army
Office of the Chief of Military History
ATTN: MAJ Sandstrum
Washington, D.C. 20315  

Dear Major Sandstrum: 

I am forwarding an exit interview with Colonel Frank A. Gleason Jr., a former commander of the Cam Ranh Bay Support Command. Colonel Gleason was refreshingly frank, and I am sure you will find this an extremely useful document.

The questions for this interview were prepared by the 1st Log Staff Sections. I think this type of preparatory staffing is essential if we are to have in-depth interviews with senior officers.

Sincerely yours,

s/Henry J. Nachtsheim, Jr.



Military History Division

Frank A. Gleason, Jr., Colonel, Corps of Engineers

Chief of Staff, 1st LOG from 6 Aug-2 Dec 68

Commander Cam Ranh Bay - 3 Dec 68-3 Aug 69



1. Did Class I support of U. S. Army personnel in the distant LSA's of Dalat, Ban Me Thuot, and Phan Thiet present any major problems? What phases of Class I support Require immediate attention or long range consideration? How can the food program of the future be improved?


Yes, the Class I support to distant LSA's presented some major problems. All perishables needed special handling Insulated containers were required. Close coordination with transportation (ground and air) was essential. The lack of dedicated aircraft to ensure the movement of milk, bread, and meat on numerous occasions caused unnecessary spoilage. Aircraft was canceled out without notice. The Army mobile reefers were not rugged enough to permit long term continual hauling to Dalat, Ban Me Thuot, Bao Loc and Phan Thiet. If we did have these in good quality and quantity the reefers could have been hauled to destination at freeze or cool temperatures--left in place plugged into an electrical power source--and operated until empty then back hauled on future trips.

What phases of Class I support require immediate attention or long range? (1) Immediate attention should be given to accurate and responsive strength accounting. (2) Increased use of Sea Land Containers for direct hauls to forward areas. (3) Planning for Class I--nonperishable for direct shipment from CONUS in Sea Land Containers or similar equipment. Long Range (1) Design and Utilization of mobile reefers for use in forward areas in lieu of fixed boxes. (2) Improved bread baking equipment.

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(3) High risk nonperishable item; flour, canned tomatoes, sauerkraut, and citrus juices require adequate cool covered storage to reduce loss. A more responsive supply and transportation system can help overcome this problem by allowing smaller quantities to be kept on hand. It should be understood that our troops ate extremely well and from a commander's viewpoint it is difficult to find fault. Our comments are made in order to reduce loss and perform the Class I mission more efficiently. 

2. Were supervisory PDO personnel effective, or could a military PDO have been more effective? Were facilities and yard space adequate? What degree of harmony existed between the Foreign Excess Sales Office and the Support Command PDO? In light of the continuing heavy contractor export requirements, should additional pier space be made available?


Yes, there was a dearth of adequately trained personnel. The need for military personnel is questionable. It doesn't really matter who does it but well trained personnel must be developed and they must be well paid. No difficulties were experienced between the Foreign Excess Sales Office and the Support Command PDO.

In light of the continuing heavy contractor export requirements might indicate a requirement for another pier at CRB; however, since troop support requirements are sharply down, pier space should be adequate. The solution to this problem would be solved if contractor shipping dates were firm and integrated with other shipping.

3. Please comment on the construction of ammunition storage sites and barricades in sandy soil of the type found at Cam Ranh Bay. What are your views concerning waivers for Class V quantity-distance in a combat

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environment? What optimum type of ammunition support structure do you envision for Support Commands in Vietnam? Should ammunition be excluded from the Group/Area concept? 


The ammunition sites at CRB are ideal. The sand, well drained soil with minimum vegetation permits ease of maintenance. The problems at CRB result from high Command failure for not promptly providing for engineering and construction and maintenance. Construction priorities were too low. If we can live with quantity-distance criteria set down by the Class V experts than by all means we should do so. I support the waiver concept in a combat environment, otherwise, in many cases the mission could not be accomplished. Common sense and urgency of mission demands that waivers be granted; however, waiver involves appropriate risk and command cannot use this as an excuse for a failure to provide the appropriate resources to eliminate the requirement for waiver. The Group/Area concept for ammunition was not necessary. Ammunition is relatively simple to manage not withstanding the tendency of some to give the impression it is complex. It is a dangerous commodity and one of the three most important commodities (Ammo, Fuel, and Water) which require competent people but it should be integrated with supply and transportation.

4. What part does leadership play in solving existing disciplinary problems within a command? Do you feel that the possibility of court-martial and threat of confinement are effective deterrents to crime? Will confinement rehabilitate a soldier who had committed a crime? What can be done to decrease the marijuana and narcotics problem within the command? 

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Leadership is the key to solving disciplinary problems within a command. Court-martial and threat of confinement are effective deterrents to crime for the majority. The small few who have lost their social responsibility and self esteem are not affected by this threat. Confinement, I doubt, rehabilitates a soldier because we are not able or willing to provide the resources, personnel, materiel or plant to permit appropriate rehabilitation. The marijuana and narcotics problem was one which plagued me. I believe that continual emphasis throughout the command of the risks taken by users must be made. All leaders, Officers and NCO's must actively support the anti-drug program.

Also, the living conditions at CRB for our soldiers was so substandard that they are drive n to drugs often as an escape. I tried to do something about this but my requests were disapproved at the USARV and MACV level. We cannot expect young active men to live like they must on a continuing basis--doing for the most part boring tasks. (Many details of logistics are extremely boring) and not adequately provide for their welfare. an enlisted or NCO club is not adequate relief. First class living conditions and recreation conditions are absolutely essential. Compare the Army living conditions and recreational facilities with the Air Force if there is any question on this subject.

5. What were the outstanding problems you experienced in the following areas, and what recommendations do you have for their solution: Military police direct support, physical security resources, installation coordination requirements. What comments do you have on making a provost marshall position a permanent element in Support Command staff authorization?

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Military Police Direct Support--Although the local Provost Marshall and Battalion Commander gave me cooperation--they did not work for me on my own installation. The Commander of a major installation like CRB needs his own military police resources. The Group Commander at Nha Trang and the USARV Provost Marshall are not highly motivated to solve my problem. As a result I felt that a tenuous situation existed on crime prevention, apprehension, and internal security. There is no doubt that the support command commander needs his own provost marshall and military police on the CRB peninsula. This does not include military police throughout the entire area of responsibility of the Support Command but at major installation level.

6. Would you comment on any problems your command experienced concerning mandatory training, Skills I Training, and Operation BUDDY? What suggestions do you have concerning improvement of these programs?


I strongly support training; however, we must closely align it with the job requirements and carefully guard against utilizing the soldiers time from receiving continual refresher training on first aid, troop information, and such which are nice to know but not absolutely necessary to do the job.

Operation BUDDY was a great idea but strongly resisted by higher headquarters above 1st LOG Command. I never knew why.

7. What effect has the closing of the 1st Logistical and Support Command Commcenters had on day-to-day operations? Has the support by the area

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Commcenter been acceptable? Please comment on the reliability and utilization of the AUTOSEVOCOM facility in your headquarters.


I can't understand why the commcenter was closed down. The speed of response, the ability to communicate 24 hours a day in the 1st Logistical Command Structure seems to me to be absolutely essential. To close our commcenters was a step backward. When I was there autosevecom was unresponsive and very dangerous to mission performance. It was unreliable and very slow in the longrun--not withstanding the concept.

8. In the event that the Army were required to have another large buildup of supplies and personnel, what measures should be taken to insure an adequate level of supplies?


This is a big question which would require very careful analysis. The first step is to ensure we have a strong, well trained logistical cadre. We need a logistical command and general staff college now to train officers, warrant officers, NCO's and civilians. We need a complete integration of the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force logistical systems. We need a modern update logistical plan to definitize requirements. We must provide for contingency requirements within the present funding requirements and rotate this material in the active Army to preclude deterioration and obsolescence. We must modernize our transportation system to permit more containerization--sea, air, and ground. We must be prepared to provide more modular construction. The push system used for the rapid buildup of Vietnam was caused by our failure to plan to prepare for this type of contingency. For the most part the results were highly successful for the

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combat commander; however, the logisticians were severely critized. A review of troop basis in the late 50's and early 60's will show a minimum of engineer and transportation forces to support a buildup. It is suggested that our failures be carefully evaluated.

9. Did the civilianization program have any detrimental effects on the flexibility of providing transportation and maintenance support? Has the drafting of contract requirements been adequate? Have we become too dependent on field maintenance technicians, or do you favor civilianization? Were contracts properly controlled and effectively administered, or would you recommend a different approach? Would you make any procedural changes in accomplishing labor relations activities between U. S. Army and local national direct line and contractor employees?


Civilianization program was highly successful at CRB. Our failures were not recognizing the difficulties of providing highly skilled maintenance personnel and also the fact that Vietnamese are of small structure and not the best stevedores. For the most part I consider it highly successful.

Contract requirements can always be improved and I think we were making progress. I do not agree we relied too heavily on field maintenance technicians. They are needed and are valuable. Let's be candid, the Army is not going to provide highly trained military supply and maintenance personnel on a sustained basis. So we must use these skilled civilians. I support civilianization wherever possible.

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I believe we can do a lot better job of controlling and administering our contracts. Progress was being made but this is a subject which always demands improvement. Labor relations between US and direct line and contract employees at CRB was not a problem. It worked well through the efforts of our Chief of Civil Affairs and ACS personnel who worked closely with my commanders and me.

10. Are current supply and maintenance problems primarily due to our existing system, personnel, or equipment? Where do you feel that Combat Developments Command emphasis needs to be placed?


Our supply and maintenance problems are due to all three, the existing system, personnel, and equipment. The answer to this question would require a book. First we do not have a well trained Corps of logisticians in the U.S. Army. We have a lot of people (military and civilian) but the quality overall is very poor. Logistics is a complex business which consumes the major part of the Army budget, yet often, untrained commanders and staff officers are assigned to key logistical spots to manage the job. For example, four support command commanders over a two year period that I know had relatively narrow logistical backgrounds. The deputy commander, 1st LOG, for a five month period was a topnotch infantry officer--with a strong information officer background. One Support Command Commander was a former assist division commander who didn't have much respect for anyone but an infantry, armor or artillery officer. If the system is to be developed we must have a trained group of logisticians--who are given opportunity for education and training and equal chance for advancement in the Army system. Then the system will follow--as well as appropriate equipment. Last is the

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need to discipline the system so that all work in concert to make it work. The key is a heavy investment in people.

11. How would you recommend modifying existing MTOE's of Combat Service Support Units to provide for the increased security requirements found in Vietnam? Would the addition of combat MOS's be feasible? Should an infantry security platoon be attached to a maintenance battalion?


I would not modify the existing TO&E of Combat Service Support Units to provide increased security requirements. Use what we have and assign or attach the combat elements to support elements when necessary.

12. What is your opinion of the proposal to replace commissioned Tech Supply Officers with Warrant Officers?


Yes, Warrant Officers should do better in the long run. They are the specialists. We should use them.

13. In your SUPCOM you had fine Logistical Support Activities. Personnel and tools were taken from standard TOE units. Bother were inadequate. What is the ideal or the solution to Logistic Task Force Groups?


I support the COSTAR and TASTA-70 concepts. The problem of inadequacy was a lack of support by command forced on them by overall shortages. Divisions were 1st priority, along with a dual system or MACV and Army which consumed valuable personnel resources.

What is your opinion of TAERS in Vietnam? Do you feel that the system is responsive to the needs of a combat situation? Should TAERS

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be modified for a situation such as Vietnam? What changes would you recommend in TAERS for Vietnam in particular and worldwide in general?


I believe a vastly modified and simplified TAERS system is necessary. TAERS has never been responsive to the needs of the field. Digested information collected must be fed back to the one required to submit the basic data if you want good performance. As to what information I feel this can best be provided by officer and NCO team at company--a battalion level. My suggestion is to keep it simple.

15. Has the Movements Control Center system provided you with increased control and better management of Army cargo?


The MCC was an absolute must. I would have been lost without it.

16. Please comment on your experience in moving large amounts of retrograde material. since the increased emphasis upon retrograding equipment necessitates the use of heavy lift assets, and transportation motor transport units are authorized no heavy lift equipment, do you feel that this impaired their mission? Would you recommend any amendments to, or modifications of, the present policies?


Movement of retrograde presented no serious problems to CRB when I was there. The fact that no heavy lift assets were available to the transportation units was a hardship but we overcame that by working closely with the engineer troop units that did have this equipment. Since this is transitory why provide special assets. I suggest units cooperate and share what is available among Army, Navy, and Air Force.

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17. What benefits were derived from the installation of an automatic data system for MILSTAMP documentation at Cam Ranh Bay?


We didn't have this when I was in command.

18. The Sea Land Corporation plays a large role in movement of cargo in Vietnam. Would you comment on the benefits derived from operations in your area?


I cannot speak too highly or enthusiastically about the Sea Land Corporation operation at CRB. We really moved the cargo and turned the ships around. 12,000 tons of cargo loaded and ship backloaded in as short a time as 36 hours. Also the natural extension of direct haul to Nha Trang or Phan Rang and bypassing the depot illuminates the way to inventory in motion concept.

19. Throughout Vietnam minimal use has been made of rail transportation, the cheapest mode for transporting large quantities of cargo great distances overland. The use of rail has been severely restricted due to enemy interdiction. In what ways could rail be made more responsive to the needs of the Army in Vietnam?


Rail would have been great but our combat forces could not guarantee protection. Rail could have saved us many ton miles of truck transportation. If we want rail responsive, then the combat forces must do a better job.

20. During the build-up of Cam Ranh Bay port, Kenworth trucks were found to be highly successful under very difficult conditions. Do you have any recommendations for further testing and study of this vehicle as a

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possible addition to the U. S. Army inventory and inclusion of it in the TOE of motor transport units?


The Kenworth trucks were outstanding. Suggest we adopt them for port operations, but watch out that the Combat Developments types don't engineer us a monstrosity. In other words, leave it alone and leave improvements to industry.

21. At various times the transportation terminal and motor transport units have been organized under unified and separate commands. Having seen both types of organization, which do you consider superior?


I did not like the motor transportation units under a unified command with the transportation terminal operation. The 124th Transportation Command had enough to do concentrating on the port operation rather than getting into the other transportation requirements.

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