Skip to main content

Full text of "DTIC AD1019884: Clip, Clop, and Buddies: Vietnamization and Operational Level Logistics 1968-1971"

See other formats


A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army 
Command and General Staff College in partial 
fulfillment of the requirements for the 

Art of War Scholars 


M.A., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 2010 
B.S., United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, 2004 

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. Fair use determination or copyright 
pennission has been obtained for the inclusion of pictures, maps, graphics, and any other 
works incorporated into this manuscript. A work of the United States Government is not 
subject to copyright, however further publication or sale of copyrighted images is not 


Form Approved 
OMB No. 0704-0188 

Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data 
sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing this collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other 
aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden to Department of Defense, Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for 
Information Operations and Reports (0704-0188), 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington, VA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding 
any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if it does not display a currently valid OMB control 


10-06-2016 Master’s Thesis AUG 2015 - JUN 2016 


CLIP, CLOP, and Buddies: Vietnamization and Operational 
Level Logistics 1968-1971 




Andrew P Betson, Major 




U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 


Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2301 







Approved for Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited 



US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) logisticians and logistics advisors faced a difficult problem 
set in transferring operational-level logistics tasks to the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) after US 
President Richard Nixon announced his Vietnamization Policy. US logisticians had to sustain combat operations 
while retrograding US personnel and equipment, transferring materiel to the RVNAF, and handing over logistical 
tasks. The RVNAF grew rapidly in size and complexity around a fledgling administrative infrastructure, deeply 
reliant on US support for logistics. MACV published the Combined Logistics Offensive Plan and the Country 
Logistics Improvement Plan to Vietnamize operational level logistics. While these plans demonstrated critical 
thought by MACV, they were late in coming, lacked synchronization, and failed to leverage the natural potential 
of operational-level support commands to train the RVNAF in the art and science of logistics. General Joseph 
Heiser, Jr.’s Project Buddy in the 1st Logistical Command represented the untapped potential. As withdrawal 
schedules increasingly demanded logisticians’ attention throughout South Vietnam, the RVNAF’s capabilities, and 
the Vietnamization plans, faced difficult tests. An analysis (using the Generate-Transport-Sustain-Redeploy 
construct) of the operational-level logistics supporting Operation Lam Son 719, the incursion into Laos in 1971, 
revealed the RVNAF’s heavy reliance on US logistics support. 


Vietnam War, Logistics, Vietnamization, Theater Logistics, Combined Logistics Offensive, Country 
Logistics Improvement Plan, Distribution, Port Operations, Security Force Assistance, Lam Son 719 













19b. PHONE NUMBER (include area code) 

Standard Form 298 (Rev. 8-98) 

Prescribed by ANSI Std. Z39.18 



Name of Candidate: Major Andrew P. Betson 

Thesis Title: CLIP, CLOP, and Buddies: Vietnamization and Operational Level 
Logistics 1968-1971 

Approved by: 

Tony R. Mullis, PhD 

Thesis Committee Chair 

Dean A. Nowowiejski, PhD 

, Member 

Allan S. Boyce, M.S. 

, Member 

Accepted this 10th day of June 2016 by: 

Robert F. Baumann, Ph.D. 

, Director, Graduate Degree Programs 

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the student author and do not 
necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Anny Command and General Staff College or 
any other governmental agency. (References to this study should include the foregoing 


LOGISTICS 1968-1972, by Major Andrew P. Betson, 149 pages. 

US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) logisticians and logistics advisors 
faced a difficult problem set in transferring operational-level logistics tasks to the 
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) after US President Richard Nixon 
announced his Vietnamization Policy. US logisticians had to sustain combat operations 
while retrograding US personnel and equipment, transferring materiel to the RVNAF, 
and handing over logistical tasks. The RVNAF grew rapidly in size and complexity 
around a fledgling administrative infrastructure, deeply reliant on US support for 

MACV published the Combined Logistics Offensive Plan and the Country Logistics 
Improvement Plan to Vietnamize operational level logistics. While these plans 
demonstrated critical thought by MACV, they were late in coming, lacked 
synchronization, and failed to leverage the natural potential of operational-level support 
commands to train the RVNAF in the art and science of logistics. General Joseph Heiser, 
Jr.’s Project Buddy in the 1st Logistical Command represented the untapped potential. 

As withdrawal schedules increasingly demanded logisticians’ attention throughout South 
Vietnam, the RVNAF’s capabilities, and the Vietnamization plans, faced difficult tests. 
An analysis (using the Generate-Transport-Sustain-Redeploy construct) of the 
operational-level logistics supporting Operation Lam Son 719, the incursion into Laos in 
1971, revealed the RVNAF’s heavy reliance on US logistics support. 


I must first recognize and thank my wife and children for their patience, 
understanding, and support during this endeavor. The days on research trips, quasi¬ 
residency in the library, and countless hours researching and writing meant an increased 
burden on my wife in the fonn of diapers, baths, and bedtimes. I could not have done this 
without her, and the ability to get smiling faces and jumping hugs at the end of the day. 

My thesis committee, Dr. Randy Mullis, Dr. Dean Nowowiejski, and Mr. A1 
Boyce, inspired me to continue this project through the ebbs and flows inherent in the 
process. I greatly appreciated the balanced timely reassurance, patient discussions, and 
occasional “stimulation” that helped me get to the finish. 

The Art of War Scholars Program, notably the Ike Skelton Chair, Dr. Dean 
Nowowiejski, and my library carrel buddy and sounding board, Major Zach Alessi- 
Friedlander were instrumental in this process. The rest of the team drove me to question 
my fundamental understanding of war and warfare. Additionally, I owe much to my 
bosses and colleagues in the West Point Defense and Strategic Studies program, 
particularly Dr. Brian Detoy, for thrusting me into the world of military logistics. 

Finally, the inspiration for this study resulted from research funded by the Omar 
N. Bradley Foundation. This opened my eyes to archival research that was supported by 
the excellent staffs at the US Army Heritage and Education Center, and the Ike Skelton 
Combined Anns Research Library, particularly John Dubuisson, whose research 
assistance formed the nucleus of much of the primary source documentation for this 











What is/are Logistics?—The GTSR Cycle.3 

Literature Review and Sources.9 


Logistics of an Americanized War.22 

RVNAF Logistics System.29 

The Strategic Environment.38 



The Combined Logistics Offensive Plan—CLOP.49 

Country Logistics Improvement Program—CLIP.56 

LTG Joseph Heiser, Civic Action, and Project Buddy.64 



The RVNAF Goes on the Offensive.82 

Operation Lam Son 719.87 

The Logistical Plan.90 

Lam Son 719—Operational GTSR Cycle.101 





Areas for Further Research.119 

Contemporary Value.121 




























Area Logistical Command. RVNAF geographic logistical commands 
subordinate to the Central Logistics Command 

Army of the Republic of Vietnam 

Brigadier General 

Central Logistics Command 

Country Logistics Improvement Plan 

Combined Logistics Offensive Program 


Central Office for South Vietnam 

Combined RVNAF Improvement and Modernization Program 

Corps Tactical Zone 

Forward Support Area 

Fire Support Base 

General Support Group 

Generate-Transport-Sustain-Redeploy. A model for thinking about 
military logistics. 

Joint General Staff 

Logistics Offensive Coordination Center 
Lieutenant General 

Military Assistance Command Vietnam 

Major General 

North Vietnamese Army 

On-the-Job Training 

Operations Report on Lessons Learned 












Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants 

RVNAF Improvement and Modernization Management System 
Republic of Vietnam. Another name for South Vietnam 
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces 
Security Force Assistance 
Senior Officer Debriefing Report 

United States Army, Vietnam. The US Army Service Component 
Command in the theater of operations. 

Area Support Command. US geographic logistical commands subordinate 
to the 1st Logistical Command 

Viet Cong 

Vietnam Air Force 

Vietnam Navy 




Figure 1. GTSR Cycle: A Way of Thinking about Military Logistics.6 

Figure 2. Ports, Land Lines of Communication and Major Logistic Commands.26 

Figure 3. RVNAF Area Logistical Commands.32 

Figure 4. Logistics Master Plan Management Chart.57 

Figure 5. 1970 Cambodian Incursion.83 

Figure 6. Organization for Logistic Support, Cambodian Incursion, 1970.85 

Figure 7. Operational Map—Lam Son 719.88 

Figure 8. Ports Supporting Operation Lam Son 719.91 

Figure 9. RVNAF Operational Logistics Units Supporting Lam Son 719.96 




The United States Army’s logisticians in Vietnam faced myriad challenges from 
1968-1971. US President Richard M. Nixon established a policy of Vietnamization to 
transfer warfighting responsibility to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), and its armed 
forces (RVNAF), to include the Anny of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). This policy 
paved the way for the withdrawal of US and Free World Forces from the conflict. The 
withdrawal, however, was not uncontested. The new commander of the Military 
Advisory Command in Vietnam (MACV), General Creighton Abrams, would have to 
continue to fight a determined insurgent force, supported by a capable enemy anny 
equipped by communist patrons. His commitment to a “One War” concept, giving equal 
measure to the combat and pacification efforts, meant that his troops would engage in 
significant combat operations, ranging from local patrols to secure the population, to the 
invasion of two neighboring countries. 

The US Army’s operational-level logisticians in the final years of the war had 
their work cut out for them in this environment. They had to sustain major combat 
operations, facilitate the withdrawal from theater of more troops than exist in the entire 
2016 active US Anny, and transfer effectively all of their tasks to the RVNAF or to RVN 
civilians. 1 The last of these tasks supported most directly the military/political end state 

1 Walter J. Woolwine, “Vietnam Redeployment and Materiel Retrograde,” Army 
Logistician 3, no. 4 (July-August 1971): 8-9. 


desired by the Nixon Administration a functional, friendly RVN capable of defending its 
borders, but each goal influenced the others. 

This study examines how, and evaluates how well, the Americans Vietnamized 
the art and science of operational level logistics by describing the challenges inherent in 
the problem, analyzing the plan that guided MACV, and considering South Vietnamese 
perfonnance in major operations in 1970-71. Such an analysis, however, demands 
elaboration of some definitions and context. This study’s first chapter defines logistics 
and, specifically, refines the concept of the operational level of logistics. Then, it captures 
the literature and sources pertaining to logistics in the latter years of the Vietnam War, 
and the American efforts to transfer these important tasks to the South Vietnamese. 

Chapter 2 describes the American and South Vietnamese logistical systems, and 
recounts the general military situation in South Vietnam in 1968-1972. Understanding the 
inherent logistical challenges for the Americans and South Vietnamese in the early years 
of the conflict provides the appropriate context to understanding the challenges of the 
final years. Next, the chapter addresses how the January 1968 Tet Offensive and the 
arrival of Richard M. Nixon administration changed the strategic approach in the war. A 
summary of how this approach took shape in tenns of operations and troops withdrawals 
presents a clear picture of the environment in which the operational logisticians operated. 

Chapter 3 details the reality of Vietnamization at the operational level. It explains 
the plan for handing over the support tasks through an analysis of MACV’s Combined 
Logistics Offensive Plan (CLOP) and Country Logistics Improvement Plan (CLIP), and 
how they fell within the larger combined campaign plan. Next, the chapter shows the 
influence of a dynamic, prescient leader named Joseph Heiser, Jr. and how his 


organization began to support the Vietnamization effort. It describes how logistics 
organizations possess natural potential for training host nation forces, and how various 
Area Support Commands took measures to improve their counterparts through an On-the- 
Job Training (OJT) program called Project Buddy. 

The fourth chapter examines how effectively MACV Vietnamized operational 
logistics by studying major ARVN operations after 1969. After providing context by 
addressing the logistical challenges of the US/ARVN 1970 incursion into Cambodia, it 
deliberately addresses the invasion of Laos. The chapter shows how the planning process 
for the operation and the execution of operational-level logistics reveals the depths to 
which the RVNAF relied on the Americans to conduct major operations. 

The final chapter of this study synthesizes the lessons of the previous chapters to 
show that MACV did a poor job Vietnamizing operational-level logistics, but shows the 
competing demands that presupposed this result. After summarizing the scope of this 
historical study, it addresses areas for future study, and the contemporary value of the 
study. A coherent conclusion, however, requires a coherent understanding of military 
logistics, a complex topic of strategic and military affairs. 

What is/are Logistics?—The GTSR Cycle 
Defining “logistics” is an age-old problem for those who study military art and 
strategy. Consider the word itself. Should one ask “What is logistics?” or “What are 
logistics?” Fleet Admiral Ernest King, the Chief of Naval Operations in World War II, 
reputedly said, “I don’t kn ow what the hell this ‘logistics’ is that Marshall is always 


talking about, but I want some of it.” 2 Apocryphal as this quote may be, it relays the 
complexity of the concept. 

The range of definitions and concepts associated with the tenn is wide, indeed. 
Antoine de Jomini, in his seminal work The Art of War defined it as everything up to the 
clash between annies, to include reconnaissance and engineering. 3 Admiral Henry 
Eccles, in his work Logistics and the National Defense, stated that logistics is the bridge 
between military operations and the national economy. 4 Noted modem war theorist Colin 
Gray describes logistics as the “arbiter of strategic opportunity.” 5 Most theorists that 
address the subject acknowledge the importance of the topic beyond how many short tons 
can be carried on a particular truck, train, or barge. Logistics is both an art and a science 
that can make or break a military. 6 

Given the disparity in definitions, it helps to have a construct with which to 
understand logistics. This paper uses the Generate-Transport-Sustain-Redeploy (GTSR) 

2 Naval Supply Systems Command, “Logistics Quotations,” US Air Lorce, 
accessed November 16, 2015, 
logquotesnavsup.pdf, 1. 

3 Antoine de Jomini, The Art of War, trans. G. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill 
(Rockville, MD: Arc Manor, 2007), 189-191. 

4 Henry Eccles, Logistics and the National Defense (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 
1959), 53-56. 

5 Colin Gray, Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy 
(Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2007), 115. 

6 See for instance George C. Thorpe, Pure Logistics: The Science of War 
Preparation (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1986). 


concept. 7 It defines logistics as a series of GTSR cycles at the tactical, operational, and 
strategic levels. Generation at the strategic level includes manning and equipping a 
military. In this phase a country either develops or procures its tanks, ships, planes, and 
the materiel needed to sustain its military. The generation phase also encapsulates all of 
the activities needed to prepare this military force for conflict. 

Transportation at the strategic level includes the establishment of nodes and lines 
of communication for the movement of the materiel and personnel into a theater of 
operation. This may be done on the surface (ground and/or sea) or through the air, and 
includes the major activities at terminals until it reaches the theater. The transportation 
phase requires the ability to establish and improve these lines of communication. 

Once this collection of personnel and materiel is inside a theater of operations, it 
must be sustained. Sustainment includes maintenance of the men and materiel through a 
continuous provision of all classes of supply. Furthermore, the sustainment phase 
includes all of the infrastructure required to conduct major overhaul of materiel that may 
have been destroyed or expended. It is in the strategic-level GTSR Cycle’s sustain phase 
that the operational-level GTSR cycle emerges. The operational level GTSR cycle will be 
elaborated below. 

7 1 developed the G-T-S-R construct while I was an instructor at the United States 
Military Academy. As the reading suggests, it was difficult to find something simple for 
my students to draw upon to understand how logistics influence military strategy. While 
the tenns are similar to another construct, my definition of the term is more 
comprehensive because it includes the Force Management process as military logistics 
and adds redeployment to the cycle. For similar construct, see William L. Scott, “Combat 
Logistics,” in The Fundamentals of Military Logistics: A Primer of the Logistics 
Infrastructure, ed. Craig M. Brandt (Dayton, OH: Defense Institute of Security 
Assistance Management, 2005), 169-181. 


Finally, once a military force has completed (or ultimately failed to complete) its 
mission, it must redeploy. This oft-overlooked phase of logistics includes disengagement 
and movement out of the theater, and the disposal or transfer of equipment or property. 








Force Management 




Contractor security 



Movement along SLOCs 
Port Clearance 
Theater Distro 

Transport includes the establishment and 
protection of lines of communications and 
bases of supply 


Maintenance of military forces: 

Health and Human Services 
Equipment maintenance 
Provision of all classes of supply 

At strategic level, transition from transport 
to sustain phases is marked by entry into a 
theater of operations 

GTSR Cycle 

A Way of Thinking about Military Logistics 

Figure 1. GTSR Cycle: A Way of Thinking about Military Logistics 
Source : Created by author. 

The tactical level GTSR cycle is often what comes to mind when one discusses 
logistics. It generally includes the actions and activities where the logisticians fall 
organically within combat organizations, such as in division or corps support commands. 
The generate phase is the most obscure phase at the tactical level when one considers a 
developed force like the US military. However, a developing nation’s tactical units may 
commonly find foraging necessary for their forces in austere environments among 
population centers. This author, for instance, learned in 2015 how Nigerien forces 
procured their sustenance locally while securing their cities. 


Tactical transportation includes the distribution of all classes of supply along lines 
of communication within an area of operations. This includes the delivery of combat 
power to the battlefield, such as utility helicopters delivering troops and supplies to 
landing zones amidst a battle. 

Tactical sustainment pertains to the maintenance of the troops and materiel within 
an organization. Whether it is preventative care, maintenance, and checks on equipment, 
or conducting sick call for soldiers, or providing a hot meal at a mobile kitchen, these 
activities ensure the longevity of the tactical forces. 

Tactical redeployment includes the ultimate extraction of tactical units from an 
engagement area, and the evacuation of troops and material in the midst of the fighting. 
For example, the ability to triage, provide immediate care for, and evacuate a wounded 
soldier falls within tactical redeployment. 

Couched between the strategic and tactical GTSR cycles is the operational GTSR 
cycle, which will be used as a tool for evaluating RVNAF logistical capability. The 
operational GTSR cycle refers to the supply and support activities and actions in a 
theater, or in support of a major operation. Operational generation includes local 
procurement of supplies. For instance, a military may find it cheaper to purchase oil from 
a provider near their area of operations, rather than ship it from their country of origin. 

Transportation at the operational level includes the establishment, improvement, 
and maintenance of nodes and lines of communications within the theater. Activities in 
this phase include terminal operations, such as port clearance, and theater distribution. 
Often overlooked, this phase includes the demanding task of synchronizing the 
movement and transfer of the classes of supply. 


Like the strategic level, the operational sustainment phase contains the tactical 
GTSR cycle, but also includes major depot operations that enable the lower level 
activities. This includes warehousing days of supply for a theater, or in support of a major 
operation, ensuring uninterrupted availability of the classes of supply. 

While the tactical redeployment phase includes the evacuation of troops and 
materials out of companies and battalions, the operational phase includes the evacuation 
of the same out of the divisions and corps. Moreover, this phase includes the often 
overlooked tasks of accounting for property at the conclusion of major operations, and 
the retrograde of supplies and equipment once the combat arms units no longer need 
them. The operational-level GTSR cycle framework serves as a productive tool for 
evaluating a military’s logistical capability and capacity. 

The scope of this study finds the US military transitioning from the sustain phase 
to the redeploy phase at the strategic level. Meanwhile, the ongoing hostilities between 
North and South Vietnam compelled the RVNAF to assume logistical activities the US 
once executed. The following chapters focus on how well MACV Vietnamized the 
activities in the operational-level GTSR cycle. A hard look at the RVNAF’s operational- 
level GTSR capability provides insight into their true warfighting prowess. The 
complexity of the interplay between the art and science of warfare and logistics 
developed in this thesis contributes to the small amount that is written about the subject. 
This applies particularly to the literature associated with the waning years of the Vietnam 


Literature Review and Sources 

Historians have not written much about the American military’s relationship to 
RVNAF logistics after the Tet Offensive. Only a few published works address how 
effectively MACV Vietnamized logistics efforts. The few authors on the subject agree 
generally that the RVNAF struggled to assume the support requirements of a modem 
military, but that this was no surprise to the military and political leaders involved in the 
conflict. The nuances of the subject reside within a few secondary works, but mainly 
among the wide range of available primary sources. 

In contrast to the number of works specifically addressing the Vietnamization of 
operational logistics, there is plethora of literature that consider, evaluate, and often 
criticize the Vietnamization policy’s effectiveness. While the many works on 
Vietnamization in total is beyond the scope of this work, some of the general evaluations 
cannot be ignored. 

The literature that most contributes to this work falls into three general categories; 
topical histories, specific works on logistics in the Vietnam War, and the works related to 
Operation Lam Son 719, the invasion of Laos. Within the topical histories, there is a 
healthy discourse on the effectiveness of the Americans’ operational approaches in 
Vietnam, to include evaluations of Nixon’s Vietnamization policy, and the course of the 
war after the Tet Offensive. Most military histories have a general appreciation for 
logistics and address them in stride, but often inadequately. The second category, those 
on logistics in the war, are few but provide first-hand knowledge about the herculean 
efforts to sustain both the American military and the RVNAF. Finally, military histories 


of the 1971 invasion of Laos provide the opportunity to draw out logistical implications 
of the operation. 

The secondary source histories that aid in understanding military logistics fall into 
two general categories. First, readers will benefit from historical works on logistics to 
gain an appreciation for how they influence operations and strategy. Secondly, general 
histories of the conflict, of the years of withdrawal, and those on post-Tet operations, 
such as the incursions into Cambodia and Laos, provide the context within which the 
logisticians attempted to crack this tough nut. 

In United States Army Logistics, Steve Waddell of the History Department at the 
United States Military Academy surveys the bureaucracy and logistical efforts in US 
military history. His work complements the more famous Sinews of War by James 
Huston by extending the topic beyond the Korean War to 2011. After addressing some of 
the exigencies and difficulties that faced logistics planners up to 1968, Waddell provides 
very little for the latter years of the conflict. His greatest contributions involves a concise 
report on the withdrawal operation named Keystone. Additionally, he notes the 
extravagance and plenty that American soldiers have experienced since the Second 
World War. This aspect of American military history informed how American advisors 
approached the buildup of the RVNAF. 8 

Waddell’s work illustrates a gap in the literature on logistics in the Vietnam War. 
Many histories address the great challenges faced in establishing the logistics network. 
Joel Meyerson concludes John Lynn’s Feeding Mars by recounting the theater’s 

8 Steve Waddell, United States Army Logistics (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger 
Security International, 2010), 162-166. 


challenges and how the US Army structured itself to face them. 9 Economic historian 
Marc Levinson similarly describes the logistics environment in the early- and mid- 1960s 
and explains how it led to the worldwide standardization of the shipping container in The 
Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy 
Bigger. 10 This prevailing understanding of the logistics challenges of the war is likely 
influenced by General William Westmoreland’s final report and memoir. Westmoreland 
commanded MACV from 1964 to 1968, when he handed over command to General 
Abrams. He produced jointly with US Navy Admiral U.S.G. Sharp, the Commander in 
Chief Pacific from 1964-1968, a Report on the War in Vietnam, which included an 
infonnative appendix on “Logistics and Base Development.” 11 Lurthennore, he directly 
addresses some of his logistics challenges and how they influenced some command 
decisions in his memoir, A Soldier Reports. 12 These prolific works by the controversial 

9 Joel D. Meyerson, “War Plans and Politics: Origins of the American Base of 
Supply in Vietnam,” in Feeding Mars, ed. John A. Lynn (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 
1993), 271-287. Feeding Mars is very much an answer to Martin Van Creveld’s seminal 
work Supplying War. The various authors address some concerns in Van Creveld’s 
conclusions, and add some critical American experiences. Van Creveld notably did not 
address the American Civil War, nor, perhaps understandably given his first edition’s 
publication date, the Vietnam War. Van Creveld responded to Lynn’s edited volume in 
his second edition. See Martin Van Creveld, Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein 
to Patton, 2nded. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 

10 Marc Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller 
and the World Economy Bigger, 2nd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 
2016), 230-253. 

11 U. S. G. Sharp and William Westmoreland, Report on the War in Vietnam 
(Washington, DC: Government Reprints Press, 2001), 253-266. 

12 William Westmoreland, A Soldier Reports (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 

1976), 124-125, 185-188. 


commander seem to have inspired rightful interest in the logistics challenges of the early 
years, but left little interest in the Abrams’ years of command. 

In The Lifeblood of War, Julian Thompson did not constrain himself to the 
Westmoreland years. Like Waddell, he also addresses the Americans’ propensity for 
lavish logistics in his chapter “Insufficiency and Super-Abundance.” Thompson, fonnerly 
a British commando brigade commander during the Falkland Islands War, contrasts how 
the French could not muster sufficient supplies during their years of trying to maintain a 
unified Vietnam with the abundance of American forces. He directly addresses some of 
Vietnamization’s shortcomings, and discusses some logistical components of the 
Cambodian Incursion, Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. Thompson drew heavily 
from both Khuyen and Heiser (discussed below), but he lacked the reports from the Area 
Support Commands to address what efforts the Americans made. 13 

While the historiography of military logistics is meek, that is not the case for the 
Vietnam War in general. Many seek to explain how such a world power as the United 
States failed to establish a viable South Vietnam. While most of these works provide 
useful context, they generally lack substantive discussion of logistics, but for treatment of 
the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail. George Herring’s seminal work, America’s Longest War, 
reflects how most single volume histories of the war approached the topic. Herring 
devotes a few pages to Vietnamization, with special emphasis on how the Americans 
made the RVNAF into a large modern force seemingly overnight, but not before the 

13 Julian Thompson, The Lifeblood of War (London: Brassey’s, 1991), 206-219. 


RVNAF had become overly dependent on its ally. 14 Herring alludes to the relationship of 
the logistical requirements of the modernization of the RVNAF and their reliance on the 
Americans with respect to logistics, but lack any in depth discussion in his influential 

Two histories that focus on the war after the Tet offensive have slightly differing 
views of American success. In A Better War, Lewis Sorley argues that the 
Vietnamization and pacification efforts under the tutelage of General Abrams brought 
victory in late 1970, but that US policy decisions to suspend support years later led to 
ultimate defeat. 15 James Willbanks in his book Abandoning Vietnam agrees with Sorley 
on the timeline pressures from Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, but grants no victory. 
Willbanks argues that the fall of Saigon was the end of a long process begun with the rise 
of the Nixon administration and the genesis of the Vietnamization program. In his work, 
though, Willbanks defines the Vietnamization policy, MACV’s plan to institute it, and 
measures the effectiveness of the program through the fall of Saigon. His explanation of 

14 George C. Herring, America’s Longest War, 4th ed. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 
2002), 283-288; See also Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1978), 164-222; U. S. G. Sharp, Strategy for Defeat (San Rafael, CA: Presidio 
Press, 1978), 240-242; Dave R. Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet (San Rafael, CA: 
Presidio Press, 1978), 218-255. 

15 Lewis Sorley, A Better War (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1999), 217-218. See also 
Sorley’s three causes for failure as they have stood out to him over time: The tennination 
of public support, materiel support, and fiscal support; the failure to build effective 
leadership in the rapidly expanded RVNAF; and the failure to isolate the battlefield. 381- 


the expectation of the residual force informs how the Americans approached the 
Vietnamization of operational logistics. 16 

Apart from independent historians, the official histories published by the US 
Army are valuable. While the authors’ charge limits their freedom to be overly critical, 
they are written by professional historians, so their treatment of sources can be trusted. 
Jeffrey Clarke addressed some of the key elements of this study in his work Advice and 
Support: The Final Years. His chapter, “Vietnamization of Military Support,” provides a 
valuable record and assessment of how the Americans transferred logistical tasks. He 
gives credit to the 1st Logistical Command (1st Log Cmd) elements for instituting OJT 
efforts before MACV formally assumed some advisory roles. Furthermore, he addresses 
how Vietnamizing different tasks varied by function, reflecting the complexity of this 
monumental effort. 17 While Clarke’s account of the improvement and modernization 
efforts convey to depth of research portrayed in his notes and bibliography, he does not 
discuss MACV’s plans for improving and transferring logistical tasks to the RVNAF in 
any detail. 

Clarke’s work is a great companion to Graham Cosmas’ MACV: The Joint 
Command in the Years of Withdrawal. This command history provides an account of 
MACV’s approach to the conflict from the arrival of General Creighton Abrams to the 
final drawdown. It provides insight into the plans for the RVNAF modernization such as 

16 James H. Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam (Lawrence, KS: University Press of 
Kansas, 2008), 4, 24-32. 

17 Jeffrey J. Clarke, Advice and Support: The Final Years (Washington, DC: US 
Anny Center for Military History, 1988), 427-445. 


the Combined RVNAF Improvement and Modernization Plan (CRIMP), and of the 
method behind the order of forces to be withdrawn over the course of Operation 
Keystone. 18 Like Clarke’s work, Cosmas’ volumes telling MACV’s story did not include 
details related to this important effort. 

The study of logistical activities in war, particularly one as enduring as the 
Vietnam War, can be challenging due to the consistent activation, movement, and 
withdrawal of forces throughout the country. Regarding this turbulence in the final years, 
Shelby Stanton’s Vietnam Order of Battle accounts for the arrival and departure of units, 
to include support commands and groups, and functional organizations throughout the 
theater and the war. 19 His work proved critical in portraying the American logistical 
network in chapter 2. 

The second major category of works contributing to this study deal specifically 
with logistics in the Vietnam War. Two monographs provide the most comprehensive 
review—Joseph Heiser’s Logistic Support from the Vietnam Studies series, and Dong 
Van Khuycn’s RVNAF Logistics from the Indochina Monographs Series. The authors 
possessed exceptional qualification for their subjects. The fonner contributed to a topical 
series of works meant to capture immediate lessons of the war for the US Anny. After 
describing the logistics environment, the monograph addresses each of the major 
sustainment activities with special interest on commodities, such as petroleum and 

18 Graham Cosmas, MACV: The Joint Command in the Years of Withdrawal 
(Washington, DC: US Army Center for Military History, 2007), 173, 210, 270. 

19 Shelby Stanton, Vietnam Order of Battle (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole 
Books, 2003), 191-229. 


ammunition. Apart from providing quantitative data and analysis, it also includes 
qualitative commentary, such as an assessment of most of the stages of the retrograde 
Operation Keystone. While Heiser speaks generally well of the logisticians’ efforts, he is 
critical of the logistical training efforts in his chapter, “Logistics Support of U.S. 
Advisors and Special Forces, Vietnam Armed and Pacification Forces, and Free World 
Military Assistance Forces.” His criticism was prescient. Though it was published in 
1974, all of the front matter is dated December 1972, predating the fall of South 
Vietnam. 20 Heiser used much of his monograph to flesh out the Vietnam chapters of his 
memoir, A Soldier Supporting Soldiers . 21 Apart from providing the critical starting point 
for this study, Heiser’s works directed attention to his archival papers that exposed a 
strong leader with an exceptional understanding of the problem addressed in this work. 

Dong Van Khuyen’s monograph RVNAFLogistics complements Heiser’s work 
by providing the South Vietnamese perspective from after the final collapse. His was one 
of a series of 20 works written by prominent officers from the South Vietnamese, 
Laotian, and Cambodian armed forces on military topics and events related to the war. In 
three parts, Khuyen captures chronologically the perfonnance of the RVNAF logistics 
system from 1955 to 1975. His second part includes a chapter on the “Logistic Support 
for Combat Operations,” in which he covers and evaluates the incursions into Cambodia 
and Laos, and the 1972 Easter Offensive. Khuyen’s third part covers the period after 

20 Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., Vietnam Studies: Logistic Support (Washington, DC: US 
Anny Center for Military History, 1991), iii, 67-72, 238-241. 

21 Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., A Soldier Supporting Soldiers (Washington, DC: US 
Anny Center for Military History, 1992), 127-167. 


America withdrew her troops leaving the RVN to face the North Vietnamese on their 
own. He concludes that the RVNAF was never capable of self-reliance, despite the 
efforts of the Americans in the periods of modernization and improvement. 22 

The final category pertains to Operation Lam Son 719. The existing literature 
agree, fundamentally, that the RVNAF perfonned poorly in the invasion of Laos for a 
number of reasons, that the planning and execution of the operation exposed the 
RVNAF’s reliance on the Americans in major military endeavors, and that the Nixon 
administration touted it as a success for the Vietnamization policy in order to accelerate 
the timeline for American withdrawal. Keith Nolan’s groundbreaking account Into Laos 
drew extensively from first-person accounts, to include key logistical leaders, to form an 
impressive narrative. The work relies too heavily at times on the perspective of young 
soldiers, and lacks the benefit of time to have developed the North Vietnamese Anny’s 
(NVA) activities. 23 James Willbanks fills this gap in his book A Raid Too Far, with an 
impressive chapter on the NVA’s preparation for and response to the operation. His 
account reflects the benefit of military experience, and the opportunity to gain first-hand 

22 Dong Van Khuyen, RVNAF Logistics (Washington, DC: US Anny Center for 
Military History, 1984). Though it is beyond the scope of this study, readers seeking 
deeper appreciation for Eccles concept of the Logistics Bridge should read Khuyen’s 
account. Khuyen provides a helpful view of the economics of South Vietnam spanning 
the course of the conflict. He relays the essential connection between RVN’s poor 
national economy and the unfortunate results it had on the nation’s military logistical 
potential, particularly after the US Congress suspended military support and funding. 

23 Keith W. Nolan, Into Laos: The Story of Dewey Canyon II / Lam Son 719 
(Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1986). 


knowledge from North Vietnamese sources. 24 While both of these works addressed the 
logistical challenges of the operation, the most valuable resources for this study proved to 
be the primary sources produced by the US XXIV Corps and the logistical elements 
supporting the fight. 

Due to the dearth of sources that address logistics in sufficient detail the most 
critical category of sources that assists in understanding and evaluating the 
Vietnamization of operational level logistics includes the many plans, reports, articles, 
and unit histories from the era. They are unsullied by some of the retrospective 
controversy attached to the Vietnam War and the knowledge of the ultimate capitulation. 
One should not forget, however, that individuals wrote the summary reports about their 
unit’s or their own performance, so there is potential for exaggeration of achievements, or 
minimization of failures. 

Commanders at various echelons recognized the need to transfer activities and 
operations to the RVNAF and the South Vietnamese civilians at variable times 
throughout the war. These efforts were fonnalized at different times as well, through 
policies and then by orders. The original orders, such as the CLIP, or the order from the 
1st Log Cmd Headquarters that created Project Buddy reveal the challenges inherent in 
the tasks. They may show how a commander has conceptualized a process, or how the 
commander is implementing his higher headquarters’ concept. Given the collection of 
such well thought out plans that were produced, the challenge is finding why they could 

24 James H. Willbanks, A Raid Too Far: Operation Lam Son 719 and 
Vietnamization in Laos (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2014). 


not be translated into a fully functioning military system for the RVNAF. This aspect of 
execution can be hard to surmise, but can be interpreted by reports on progress. 

Three collections of reports provide a periodic survey of the efforts made by 
troops in Vietnam - the Operational Reports on Lessons Learned (ORLL), the Senior 
Officer Debriefing Reports (SODR), and the command histories. The ORLLs were 
submitted on a quarterly basis by certain units to capture and promulgate lessons learned, 
and to request or recommend changes to doctrine, organization, etc. Like the ORLLs, 
Anny Regulations also required certain leaders to submit SODRs when they relinquished 
command, and/or exited the theater. Finally, MACV produced yearly Command Histories 
with an eye on capturing the events of the associated year, and contributing to refined 
histories later. 

The recurring nature of these reports allow us to estimate how the various 
commands and commanders approached and appreciated specific missions. Some 
commanders used their final debriefing reports as a tool to capture the work 
accomplished under their command, while others seem to have not bothered with the 
administrative requirement. Brigadier General (BG) Albert Hunter, Commanding General 
of the US Area Support Command (USASC) Qui Nhon, for instance submitted a 30-page 
report with recommendations on processes, and reports of successes. 25 His predecessor, 
BG Darrie Richards, in comparison, submitted only three pages, telling the reader to refer 

25 Senior Officer Debriefing Report (hereafter cited as SODR), BG Albert E. 
Hunter, 1 June 1970, Defense Technical Information Center (hereafter sited as DTIC), 
provided on disk by the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library (hereafter cited as 


to his unit’s ORLL. 26 Despite this inconsistency, the SODRs and ORLLs taken in tandem 
are reasonable tools to detennine how different units and commanders executed the 
scheme of plans intended to develop a functioning RVNAF logistics system. 

The passage of time has allowed for a number of other reports, files, and 
memoranda to be made available for researchers. This study benefited from their 
availability through a number of sources, to include Texas Tech University’s Vietnam 
Virtual Archive, and the Defense Technical Information Center. Reports from outside the 
Department of Defense on Vietnamization can provide bona fide evaluations, and 
insights into how the situation looked in real time. One such report to Congress, 
“Logistics Aspects of Vietnamization — 1969-72” gives positive marks on the 
implementation of the CLIP, but concluded that the RVNAF would require materiel 
support and advisory training for the foreseeable future. 27 Other internal reports can 
imply how MACV gauged their own progress in their quest to make the RVNAF self- 

In conclusion, the body of literature available establishes that the US Government 
and US Military, in coordination with the RVN and RVNAF, had plans to Vietnamize the 
operational-level logistics activities and tasks. Subordinate commands implemented these 
plans through various projects and programs, with varying degrees of success. In 
retrospect, historians have evaluated Vietnamization efforts in general as futile due to 
general inadequacy and lack of will of the RVNAF. The challenge now will be to find 

26 SODR, BG Darrie Richards, 9 June 1969, DTIC, CARL. 

27 General Accounting Office, Report to the Congress by the Comptroller General 
of the United States, “Logistic Aspects of Vietnamization—1969-72,” January 31, 1971. 


how well this Vietnamization process was implemented with the context of the logistics 
environment, and the realities facing the RVN. 




In order to evaluate the perfonnance of the operational-level logistics 
organizations after 1968 it is appropriate to first consider the fundamental logistics 
challenges found in Vietnam, the logistics environment before and after Tet, and how the 
US’s strategic approach changed with the new US Presidential administration. These 
factors define what logisticians had to support, and what was available to them. These 
key starting points will allow for a fair evaluation. 

Logistics of an Americanized War 

In 1965, MACV’s logistics infrastructure had the capacity to support 
approximately 20,000 personnel. By the end of 1967, the 1st Log Cmd was responsible 
for supporting approximately 1.2 million troops of different services and nationalities. 28 
As MACV incurred this influx of fighting forces, it faced a dismal logistics situation. In 
an August, 1966 “Logistical Structure Conference,” the representatives from 
Headquarters, US Anny Vietnam listed five factors bearing on logistical operations in 
Vietnam: enemy, weather, terrain, lines of communication, and the evolution of the 
logistical structure. 29 While the other factors would fluctuate over the course of the war, 
the weather and terrain factors remained constant. 

28 Sharp and Westmoreland, 253. 

29 Conference on the Reorganization and Augmentation of the USARV Logistics 
Structure (1966), “Logistical Structure Conference, 14-18 August 1966,” Headquarters, 
United States Army Vietnam, 1966, US Army Heritage and Education Center (hereafter 
cited as USAHEC), A-1 - A-5. 


In the movie Forrest Gump, the title character portrays the plight of the American 
infantryman in Vietnam, explaining that “one day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for 
four months.” 30 In the movie Gump wears the patch of the 9 th Infantry Division, which 
served primarily in the southern III and IV Corps Tactical Zones (CTZs). 31 This region 
falls south and southwest of the Annamite Mountain chain where, as with the rest of the 
country, from mid-May to October, the monsoonal climate causes “daily, often torrential, 
rainshowers [sic] occurring during the afternoon and evening hours.” 32 Maintenance on 
personal weapons systems proved a challenge in these conditions, as the famed debate 
about the American M-16 rifle’s performance showed. 33 The logisticians struggled with 
the deleterious effects humidity and precipitation had on clothing, webbing, and 
electronics. Further, the cloud cover and winds frequently prevented the use of airfields 
and disrupted ship unloading operations at the many deep and shallow draft ports in the 
country. 34 Nature, however, was not the only source of disruption. 

The security situation for the lines of communications in Vietnam was uncommon 
in American military history. One commander of 1st Log Cmd put the length of the 
supply line at 10,000 miles stretching from the west coast, and 15,000 miles from the east 

30 Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis (Paramount Pictures, 1994), DVD, 
(Paramount Pictures, 2001). 

31 Stanton, 78. 

32 Conference on the Reorganization and Augmentation of the USARV Logistics 
Structure (1966), “Logistical Structure Conference, 14-18 August 1966,” A-2. 

33 See C. J. Chivers, The Gun (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010), 263-336. 

34 Conference on the Reorganization and Augmentation of the USARV Logistics 
Structure (1966), “Logistical Structure Conference, 14-18 August 1966,” A-2. 


coast, of the United States, to units in fire support bases in places like Pleiku, Khe Sanh, 
and Cu Chi. 35 The air and sea lines of communications into the country provided safe 
passage for the duration of the conflict. However, given the recent experiences in the 
Korean War and World War II, senior planners were accustomed to having a relatively 
safe rear area, or “Communications Zone” where supplies could move forward from 
depots and forward support areas to troops on the lines. Such was not the case in 
Vietnam. 36 In fact, MACV was forced to commit significant efforts to keep roads and 
railways open. In its Command History for 1967, MACV reported that in 1966 an 
average 33.2 percent of the 1,720 miles of roads “considered to be essential for the 
conduct of military operations” were “secure.” The year 1967 showed improvement after 
July with an average of 58.6 percent, or 1,008, of the 1,720 critical miles. 37 

This security situation drove US Army, Vietnam (USARV) to establish a 
nontraditional logistics network in the country. 38 Instead of establishing a 
communications zone as the Army had done in WWII and the Korean War, the 1st Log 
Cmd created subordinate USASCs in each of the CTZs in the country (See Figure 2). The 

35 Heiser, A Soldier Supporting Soldiers, 149. 

36 Heiser, Logistic Support, 7. 

37 General 1967 CMD History Vol 2, 1967, Folder 01, Bud Harton Collection, 
The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University (hereafter cited as TTUVVA). 
accessed 19 May 2016, 

item=T68300010722, 765. 

38 US Army, Vietnam was the Anny’s Service Component Command under the 
subunified command, MACV. According to current and past doctrine, the service 
component commands retain responsibility for supplying their forces in an operational 


USASCs were located (south to north) in Saigon (III and IV CTZ), Qui Nonh (II CTZ - 
South), Cam Ranh Bay (III CTZ - North), and Da Nang (I CTZ). In his oral history, 
Retired Lieutenant General Jean Engler, an early Deputy Commander of USARV, 
described USASC leaders as “Metropolitan Area Commanders.” 39 

Each of the USASCs possessed subordinate organizations that performed the 
operational-level logistics tasks within their area. USASC Qui Nhon’s major subordinate 
commands, for instance, included the Pleiku and Qui Nhon Sub Area Commands, US 
Anny Depot—Qui Nhon, 5th Transportation Command, 8th Transportation Group, 45th 
General Support Group, 86th Maintenance Battalion, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 240th 
Quartermaster Battalion, 593d General Support Group, and other government contractor 
units and activities. 40 This allowed each ASC to provide common user logistics to all 
units within their supported zone with daily sustainment, and to deploy Forward Support 
Teams in special circumstances. When combat units moved out of their normal area to 
conduct large-scale operations, the ASCs could provide Provisional Composite Supply 
and Service Battalions to augment organic support elements. 41 

39 Oral History, LTG Jean Engler, interviewed by Phillip Shepard, “Senior 
Officers Oral History Program: Project 81-3,” Papers of Jean E. Engler, USAHEC, Box 
2, 240. 

40 Stanton, 193. 

41 Heiser, Logistic Support, 21-22; Stanton, 201-203. While these Forward 
Support Teams fall into the tactical level of logistics, it is helpful to understand the 
measures required to support fighting forces in the Vietnam environment. 


Figure 2. Ports, Land Lines of Communication and Major Logistic Commands 

Source : Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., Logistic Support (Washington, DC: Department of the 
Anny, 1991), 168. 

The missions of the major subordinate units in the USASCs illustrate the meaning 

of logistics at the operational level. The 45th and 593d General Support Groups, for 

instance, took on the role of a Sub Area Support Command, conducting day-to-day 


activities in the Pleiku and coastal areas of operations, respectively. The 5th 
Transportation Command had the “Terminal” mission in Qui Nhon, responsible for the 
transfer of personnel and cargo on and off ships and piers, and for conducting logistics 
over-the-shore operations. The remaining functional battalion headquarters provided 
administrative and command oversight of the many separate companies that deployed to 
Vietnam to provide general support. For instance, the 149th and 160th Maintenance 
Companies deployed from Ft. Hood, Texas in 1965 and 1967, to provide light and heavy 
equipment maintenance in the Pleiku and Qui Nhon regions, respectively. They fell under 
the command of the 86th Maintenance Battalion that deployed from Fort Devens, 
Massachusetts. 42 This complexity illustrates why it took well into 1968 for the Americans 
to establish a coherent system of supply. 

The composition and mission sets of the logistical commands changed throughout 
the war as operational tempo and troop strengths changed. USASC Cam Ranh Bay, for 
instance, grew significantly in size and importance over the course of the war. It was 
conceived in the Spring of 1965 to alleviate the great stresses on the single deep water 
port in Saigon as the US Anny poured in supplies and personnel. US Anny engineers 
built the port and warehousing facilities essentially from scratch. In fact, the US shipped 
a DeLong Pier from South Carolina, through the Panama Canal, to get port activities 
started. This portable pier was 300-feet long with holes in it for pilings to implant into the 
seabed of Cam Ranh Bay. Malcom McLean, the entrepreneur behind Sea-Land 

42 Stanton, 195, 207, 209, 223. 


containerization would use these new facilities to jump start his revolutionary concept of 
standardized shipping containers. 43 

A year after the first engineer arrived to survey Cam Ranh Bay, the USASC 
assumed the responsibility to provide logistical support to the southern half of the II CTZ, 
and to provide general support of common-user logistics for the entire theater. The 
headquarters personnel authorization changed from 125 in 1966, to 358 in 1968, to 1,300 
by 1970. At its zenith, USASC Cam Ranh Bay had assigned to it over 16,000 personnel 
responsible for supporting over 72,000 troops. 44 

The tactical use of helicopters also demanded that USARV establish a specific 
headquarters for aviation support. The 34th General Support Group provided 
maintenance, avionics, and armament support across the country for over 4,000 
helicopters at the height of the conflict. While the Headquarters Company had an 
authorized strength of only about 140 troops, they were heavily augmented by contractors 
throughout the war. In 1965, Dynalectron had only 34 maintenance contractors. By 1969, 
three companies had 2,120 maintainers in Vietnam. The growing utility of helicopters 
demanded dramatic changes to the system that supported them, to include the 
establishment of a floating aircraft maintenance facility that could move from port to port 
as the tactical situation required. 45 

43 Levinson, 230-253. 

44 Stanton, 192. 

45 Heiser, Logistic Support, 134-146; Heiser, Soldier Supporting Soldiers, 136- 
137; Stanton, 195. 


This (at times, rather arduous) review of the logistical environment, the support 
network, and niche support requirements provides two helpful perspectives when 
considering Vietnamization. First, the support structure, like the intensity and flow of the 
war, remained complex, dynamic, and at times, ad hoc. The US Army logisticians had to 
transfer these responsibilities, while breaking the system down during the withdrawal. 
Second, it illustrates the logistical tail required to support the trimmings of a first-world 
mechanized military. The sheer weight of the support network strained the RVNAF to 
extreme levels. The demands of helicopter sustainment alone demanded a special 
program for Vietnamization efforts. 46 Some of this strain was due to the RVNAF system, 
and its dependencies. 

RVNAF Logistics System 

The RVNAF logistics system and organization possessed fundamental 
characteristics that made Vietnamizing operational logistics activities difficult. The most 
critical among these were the nascence of the logistics structure, its built-in dependencies, 
and the rapid growth of support requirements. These challenges shed light on the 
existence of the art and science of logistics. 

When President Nixon announced his Vietnamization policy in 1969, the core 
concept of the RVNAF logistics organization was only 12 years old. However, it was 
truthfully much younger, with major organizational restructuring having only been 
completed in 1968. The institution originated from the bifurcation of Vietnam and 
precipitous withdrawal of the French in 1954 after the fall of Dien Bien Phu. The 

46 Clarke, 441-443. 


Vietnamese National Army followed a French model as it was reeling from the loss to the 
Viet Minh, and a costly evacuation from the newly established North Vietnam. While the 
French spent some effort in building the anny before 1954, it was in their interests that 
the Vietnamese National Army remained weak as an organization. 47 

The RVNAF, renamed as such by RVN President Ngo Dinh Diem, adopted a US 
model for logistics in 1957 in the very early stages of the American advisory effort. Their 
organization consisted of five directorates (Ordnance, Quartermaster, Construction, 
Medical, and Transportation), a Signal Service, and an Engineer Command. Unlike the 
American system, this was a Joint RVNAF system, overseen by the office of the 
Assistant Chief of Staff, J-4. Eventually, the various directorates, and commands fell 
under a Central Logistics Command (CLC), whose commander served dual-hatted as the 
Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. 48 The earliest American advisors had a justifiably 
poor impression of RVNAF logistical support capacity, particularly in their planning and 
coordination of transportation. 49 Much had to be done to the organizational structure to 
remediate this problem, and the individual chosen to be the Chief of Staff for Logistics 
would be critical in its improvement. 

Dong Van Khuyen served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics in the Joint 
General Staff (JGS), and as Commander of the CLC from October 1967 until the fall of 

47 Dean E. Gullion, as quoted in The Lessons of Vietnam, ed. W. Scott Thompson 
and Donaldson D. Frizzell (New York: Crane, Russak and Company, 1977), 241-242. 

48 Khuyen, 30-34. 

49 Ronald H. Spector, Advice and Support: The Early Years (Washington, DC: US 
Anny Center for Military History, 1985), 299-300. 


Saigon. His career represented the great challenges inherent in a military built as quickly 
as the RVNAF. He received his commission as an Infantry Second Lieutenant in the 
Vietnam National Anny in June 1952 at age 25, before the bifurcation. By 1964, as a 37- 
year-old major, he commanded the 3rd RVNAF Area Logistical Command responsible 
for supporting the III and IV CTZs, and portions of the II CTZ, essentially the southern 
half of South Vietnam. Four years later, he had advanced four ranks to Major General, 
and held the responsibility for supplying the entire RVNAF. 50 Khuyen was the most 
important individual in the improvement and modernization of the RVNAF’s logistical 
framework. He accomplished much in the time he had before his country’s defeat, but he 
lacked the time necessary to garner comprehensive and effective operational-level 
logistical capability. 

50 “Fact Sheet,” Logistics Directorate: Joint Logistics Advisory Division-re: 
Impact on ARVN Supply System Based on Potential Force Structure Reduction-Record 
MACV Part 1, 24 February 1973, Folder 0525, Box 0027, TTUVVA, accessed 27 
February 2016, 



Figure 3. RVNAF Area Logistical Commands 

Source: Dong Van Khuyen, RVNAF Logistics (Washington, DC: US Army Center of 
Military History, 1980), 164. 


The RVNAF logistical command structure underwent significant changes 
throughout the 1960s. From 1961-1965, they established Area Logistical Commands 
(RVNAF ALCs) that evolved to match the USASCs. In addition to having operational 
control of all logistical elements in their area, though, the RVNAF ALC Commanders 
acted as staff members for their corresponding Corps, advising the operational 
commander on logistical matters. 51 This degree of alignment in the command and support 
structure would seem to lend itself to an effective transition with the Americans. 

However, political infighting in the upper-echelons of the RVNAF military often resulted 
in commanders circumventing, or outright ignoring, the chains of command brought on 
by reforms. 52 Furthermore, a lack of appreciation on both MACV’s and the RVNAF 
JGS’s parts of the importance of these RVNAF ALCs in supporting major combat 
operations hurt the RVNAF later in the war (See chapter 4). 

The RVNAF’s reorganization efforts of the late-1960s regarding their logistics 
framework resulted in a coherent structure, but the impressive organization hid its 
inherent dependencies. This is not to say that the American advisors were ignorant of the 
potential problems of dependency. In fact, a logistics advisor from MACV wrote in 1969 
that the ARVN system for procurement intentionally allowed the ARVN logistics system 
to operate independently from the US system. This apparent independence, like the 
RVNAF logistical structure, hid how much they relied on the American industrial base. 53 

51 Khuyen, 37-48. 

52 Spector, The Early Years, 300 

53 Carl M. Guelzo, “Managing Military Assistance Support in Vietnam,” Military 
Review (January 1969): 33. 


The process undertaken by the ARVN to requisition equipment illustrates that 
while the RVNAF had developed a coherent structure to transport supplies for the 
sustainment of their forces, those supplies still largely originated in the US. The 
fundamentals of a Military Assistance, Service-Funded Program required requests to 
follow two channels, one to approve funding, the second for the actual materiel. Funding 
requests began at the technical services directorates, who would compute with their 
MACV advisors their requisitions to fill their growing Tables of Organization. The 
advisors would then forward their funding requests through the Office of the Assistant 
Chief of Staff for Military Assistance, MACV, to the Headquarters, US Army Pacific 
Command. Upon approval for funding, the ARVN technical services sent their requests 
for the materiel to one of three suppliers—US Anny Depot Command in Japan, USA 
Medical Depot in Ryukyu, and the International Logistics Center in US Army Materiel 
Command. These major commands then provided the commodities directly to the ARVN 
customers. 54 This model shows that the United States provided the strategic Generate and 
Transport phases for materiel logistics for the RVNAF. Major items such as tracked 
vehicles, and gun tubes for the RVNAF were generated by factories in the US, then 
transported by US providers, most likely contractors. As MACV and the US 
administration faced tough decisions with respect to the US’s level of involvement in the 
later years of the war, obliviousness to the nuances of logistical dependency set the stage 
for poor policy. 

54 Guelzo, 33. 


The operational level of RVNAF logistics showed varying levels of reliance as 
the Americans transitioned toward withdrawal. Khuyen provides some positive and 
negative examples in his review of RVNAF logistics. In terms of theater distribution, he 
identified that the RVNAF lacked sufficient escort troops, which resulted in combined 
US-ARVN convoys along theater lines of communications. He provided as an example 
that the US 8th Transportation Group from the USASC Qui Nhon, and the 2nd 
Transportation Group from the 2nd RVNAF ALC coordinated their distribution convoys 
in order to economize escort assets. 55 While this certainly provided opportunities for 
shared experiences between the US and ARVN units, one can assume the tendency for 
dependency, whether in the US provision of anned escorts, or in tonnage capacities. 

Khuyen described how this tendency took a clear shape with respect to base 
depots. Base depot organizations held the responsibility for storing and maintaining 
supplies. They were categorized by department as listed above (Quartermaster, Signal, 
etc.), and would provide regional support or general support by commodity for the 
ARVN. For instance, within the Quartermaster Department, the 10th and 30th 
Quartermaster Base Depots provided general support for warehousing supplies for the 
ARVN throughout the country, from their location in Saigon. The 10th Quartermaster 
Base Depot provided food, water, office supplies, and engineering supplies, while the 
30th Base Depot provided petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL). Below the Base Depot 
level were Field Depots and special-purpose depots (such as ammunition storage, or 
airborne items depots) that would be spread throughout the country, as the terrain and the 

55 Khuyen, 75. 


enemy situations dictated. 56 Each of the technical services departments had echelons of 
command similar to that of the depot commands. 

Khuyen described the unfortunate phenomena of “devoted advisors” with respect 
to these depots and other services of logistics. He stated that US advisors found ways to 
ensure their charges received various classes of supply, “especially after 1964, since there 
appeared to be no budget limitations.” 57 The model for requisitioning described above 
resulted in the US strategic providers delivering directly to the Field Depots, bypassing 
the Base Depots. While this may have expedited the process, surely to the liking of the 
US advisors, it resulted in neglect of the Base Depots, thereby undennining the long-tenn 
viability of the RVNAF operational logistics framework. 58 

The RVNAF’s fundamental approach to supply and maintenance changed as a 
result of the increasing American influence over the 1960s. Former South Vietnam Prime 
Minister, and former officer and Chief of the Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) Nguyen Cao 
Ky relayed in his memoirs how the French way of frugality within the Vietnamese 
National Army gave way to American profligacy. He argued that the US advisors stayed 
long enough to change the general workshop attitude within the RVNAF. Anecdotally, he 
stated that the VNAF aircraft mechanics could very well replace a plane engine, but did 

56 Ibid., 43-44. Khuyen’s narrative and his associated map do not agree on the 
designation of one unit. His narrative says the 30th Base Depot for Class III (POL), while 
the map reflects the 50th Base Depot as provided this commodity. 

57 Khuyen, 97. 

58 Ibid., 97-98. 


not know how to fix it when no engines could be procured. 59 This fundamental mentality 
exemplified the shortsightedness in training the RVNAF, and an assumption that the 
pipeline of funding and parts from the US would never run dry. 

It appears that some MACV advisors recognized the RVNAF’s tendency toward 
American extravagance and attempted to aid in changing the culture. In a report on 
ordnance supply management from December 1971, an American advisor reported that 
the RVNAF 20th Ordnance Storage Base Depot had instituted three programs to enhance 
supply discipline. The 20th Ordnance Storage Base Depot provided general ordnance 
support from its location in Saigon. 60 While it fell within the category that Khuyen 
described as being underdeveloped due to the RVNAF ALC/USASC organization, it 
successfully provided repair parts in support of Operation Lam Son 719 in Laos 
(discussed in chapter 4). They began withholding repair parts for faults associated with 
parts that could be returned for salvage. They established a procedure to challenge 
customer requisitions. Most importantly, they instituted a program to issue repair kits 
instead of replacement parts for items that could be replaced in country. 61 While this 
suggests that some advisors made an effort to adjust the mindset of the RVNAF and 
make them more self-reliant, those efforts came too late. 

59 Nguyen Cao Ky, How We Lost the Vietnam War (New York: Stein and Day, 
1976), 174-175, 198-201. 

60 Khuyen, 41-42. 

61 Letter and Inclosures from Colonel Worley, Logistics-re: Historical Interest 
‘Key Subjects’-Record of MACV Part 1, 6 February 1972, Folder 1056, Box 0025, 
TTUVVA, accessed 19 May 2016, 


The RVNAF logistics network already experienced strain due to the 
organizational and cultural factors described above, but the events after 1968 further 
taxed the system. After spending a decade adjusting from a French model to an American 
model, and fonning RVNAF ALCs to match the USASCs, the RVNAF logisticians faced 
the rapid expansion in men and materiel in its military. This came about due to a crucial 
series of events that kicked off in January 1968. 

The Strategic Environment 

Key factors explain the strategic environment in which logisticians began to 
transition their duties to the RVNAF. They include the results of the general offensive of 
the NVA and Viet Cong (VC) on the Tet holiday in January 1968, the introduction of the 
Vietnamization Policy, and the plans for withdrawal under the Nixon Administration’s 
concept of “Peace with Honor.” These factors complete the context necessary to 
appreciate the efforts at Vietnamization undertaken by the Americans, and to evaluate 
their performance in 1971. 

Some aspects of the Tet Offensive and its results contextualize the environment in 
which logisticians attempted to Vietnamize operational logistics. The war showed the 
scale of a general offensive that the NVA could prepare for, coordinate, and sustain in 
multiple regions of South Vietnam; and the strategic surprise achieved set the Americans 
on a path of rapid withdrawal from a conflict that was becoming increasingly unpopular 
at home. The logistics response and improvisation required to quell the offensive foretold 
the demands that would likely be placed on the RVNAF after an American withdrawal, 
assuming that the NVA would continue to fight. The effects of the strategic surprise on 


the home front also doomed the long-term plans made by the Americans and South 
Vietnamese regarding residual support. 

The Tet Offensive marked the general uprising hoped for by the insurgents in the 
South. Hanoi approved the plan by the famous NVA Commander-in-Chief General Vo 
Nguyen Giap in July of 1967 and authorized the significant preparations for the attacks. 
The complicated and costly plan consisted of three parts. First, the NVA initiated large 
scale attacks in peripheral areas of the country. These were meant to draw American 
attention, and in turn, their larger forces away from the cities. The NVA’s successful 
encirclement of Khe Sanh achieved this in spades. Next, the VC would thrust into the 
cities and begin coordinating the general uprising. Public assassinations and 
demonstrations of force were expected to dissuade the population from taking up a 
defense, and the ARVN were expected to dissolve under the pressure. Finally, the plan 
called for rested and refitted NVA forces, or those kept in reserve, to join the general 
offensive to wipe out any remaining centers of resistance. 62 

After recovering from the initial shock, MACV and the ARVN responded swiftly 
and effectively to the Tet Offensive. The military arm of the VC as a viable organization 
ceased to exist when the regular soldiers and the territorial forces (much like a militia) 
responded with surprising effectiveness. By April, major fighting was quelled but for a 
few outliers, such as the fighting around the encircled Marines in Khe Sanh, and in the 

62 Palmer, 175-177; Herring, 226-229. Recent scholarship on the Tet Offensive 
has revealed that while Giap planned the offensive, he was not in favor of this shift to 
general warfare. Support for the offensive came most from Le Duan, the secretary- 
general of the North Vietnamese Lao Dong Party. See James H. Willbanks, The Tet 
Offensive: A Concise History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 8-9. 


city of Hue. The brutality of the VC behavior in some villages had the opposite of their 
desired effect. It pushed the people to the central government in many regions. General 
Westmoreland was confident in the way that the international coalition and the South 
Vietnamese responded to the crisis. 63 The response, however, did not come without some 
heavy lifting. 

The Operations Division of the 1st Log Cmd reported in their April 1968 ORLL 
some of the senior American logistics unit’s reactions to the NVA and VC’s offensive. 
They had to repair petroleum pipelines that have been disrupted by enemy explosives. 
The successful, periodic interdiction by NVA and VC forces of US lines of 
communications throughout the country forced the Americans to conduct emergency 
aerial resupply. The ensuing efforts to sustain the Marines isolated in Khe Sanh set the 
record for tonnage delivered in a month by airdrop in two consecutive months. 
Throughout the country, the intensity of combat forced USASCs to deploy seven 
Forward Support Areas (FSAs) in support of operations. 64 Reacting to such an offensive 
puts a tremendous strain on a belligerent’s operational logistical framework. 

The GTSR cycle helps in understanding the importance of the few examples 
provided above. On the strategic level, the United States had generated enough materiel 
and transported it into theater to have on hand in depots emergency stocks of supply. At 
the operational level, they possessed the flexibility to adjust from one theater distribution 

63 Willbanks, The Tet Offensive, 80-81; Lewis Sorley, Vietnam Chronicles: The 
Abrams Tapes 1968-1972 (Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2004), 572-573. 

64 Operations Report on Lessons Learned (ORLL), 1st Logistical Command (1st 
Log Cmd), quarterly period ending April 1968, DTIC, CARL, 4, 18-19, 74. 


mode (by ground) to an alternate one (by air), in order to sustain forces cut off in the 
USASC-Da Nang’s area of operations, let alone the many other forces throughout the 
country. Their sustainment further relied on their capacity to generate supporting 
organizations that could assist in tactical sustainment through the FSAs. This depiction of 
the operational GTSR cycle illustrates the art of logistics that the Americans failed to 
transition to the RVNAF in the years to follow. 

While MACV’s and the RVNAF’s logistical and combat forces throughout the 
country demonstrated their flexibility and capability in responding to the attacks, the 
experience left an ominous air of what would be expected if such an offensive should 
happen again. They could prevent such offensives by initiating spoiling attacks in years 
to come, but the scale of such attacks demanded a robust logistical network, and strong 
planning and management. The strategic effect of the Tet Offensive would present a 
significant challenge to the US and South Vietnamese militaries. Diminishing support for 
the war meant the Americans had to begin transferring a larger burden of the fight to their 
partners faster than expected. 

The Tet Offensive set the stage for what proved to be a tumultuous year for the 
United States with societal, political, and military implications. US President Lyndon 
Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection so he could devote his full efforts to 
his domestic and foreign policies. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was 
assassinated in April sparking race riots throughout the country. Robert F. Kennedy was 
assassinated in June while on the campaign trail for the Democratic nomination. These 
and other factors paved the way for Republican candidate Richard Nixon to win the 
election after a campaign built on ending the war, and ending the violence at home. 


Upon assuming office, Nixon attempted to gain full awareness of the situation in 
Vietnam with his National Security Study Memorandum 1, consisting of a list of 29 
major questions covering such things as the enemy situation, the state of the RVNAF, and 
the pacification effort. MACV, the Central Intelligence Agency, the US State 
Department, and other organizations received the questionnaire and answered in kind. 

The responses were fairly disparate with optimistic and pessimistic perspectives. Nixon’s 
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird anticipated that the President’s honeymoon period 
with the American people would be short, and recommended they come up with a way to 
exit the country quickly. 65 

President Nixon used the tenn “Vietnamization” to name his policy to bring 
“peace with honor” and withdraw American troops from the war. The name was both 
controversial and vague. The controversy revolved around the idea that calling it 
“Vietnamization” denigrated the great sacrifices that the Vietnamese had already suffered 
in the years since the bifurcation of the country. 66 Nguyen Cao Ky reflected that the tenn 
thankfully improved upon a previous idea to call it “de-Americanizing” the war effort. 67 

The vagaries revolved around what exactly the term Vietnamization meant, and 
what exactly it said about the future role for America in the region. Senator A1 Gore, Sr., 
a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed frustration with the 
policy’s intricacies through his questioning of Brigadier General Wallace Clement, 

65 Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam , 10-13. 

66 Ibid., 40-41. 

67 Ky, 172-173. 


Director of MACV Training Directorate, in March 1970. Clement’s testimony is helpful 

in two respects for understanding the efficacy MACV’s transition of operational logistics 

functions. First, he provided a scripted definition of Vietnamization, stating 

Vietnamization is the process by which the United States assists the Government 
of Vietnam to assume increasing responsibility for all aspects of the war and all 
functions inherent in self-government. It means building a stronger government 
with improved economy and strengthening the military internal security forces 
sufficient to permit the United States to reduce its military and civilian presence 
in Vietnam without unacceptable risks to the objectives of the United States in the 
security of the free world and Government of Vietnam forces. Vietnamization 
refers only to the assumption by Vietnamese of that portion of the war effort 
carried on by the United States. It does not refer to the total war effort in which 
the South Vietnamese themselves have carried such a large and heavy burden for 
some years. 68 

The final sentence shows how the US Anny recognized the sensitivity around the tenn. 

Secondly, in response to Senator Gore’s line of questioning regarding definitions, 
he alluded to MACV’s conception of a residual force to provide support to the RVNAF. 
Clement testified that MACV had ongoing on-the-job training efforts with respect to 
logistics (See chapter 3), but that RVNAF required continued assistance because of how 
rapidly the organization grew. He stated, “The RVNAF logistical organization and 
system are presently capable of reasonably satisfactory logistical support to operating 
elements. By necessity, there is a strong advisory effort in this area which will continue 
for some time.” 69 He specified the type of support forces as “primarily quartermaster, 

68 BG Wallace L. Clement, testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, “Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970: US Military Advisory Program, 3 
March, 1970, Folder 10, Box 42, Douglas Pike Collection, Unit 03-US Economy and US 
Mission (Saigon), TTUVVA, accessed 19 May 2016, 
virtualarchive/items.php?item=2274210006, 457. 

69 Ibid., 450. 


transportation, engineer, signal, aviation forces . . . technical, administrative, and 
logistical people, et cetera, that support the combat effort.” 70 This concept informs the 
way that MACV and its units approached the Vietnamization of operational logistics. It is 
critical to note that, as late as March 1970, MACV and the RVNAF believed that a 
residual force would continue to provide advice and support in the realm of logistics after 
the final withdrawal of American combat forces. While the timelines for withdrawal were 
oppressive, logistical advisors could assume they still had years to help the RVNAF 
achieve greater self-sufficiency in operational level tasks. 

The final critical component of the strategic context that relates to understanding 
how well the US Vietnamized logistics is the plans that governed the withdrawal of 
troops (Operation Keystone), and that transferred US equipment to the RVNAF 
(Operation Enhance and Enhance Plus). The demands associated with these operations 
diminished the efforts of the OJT program, and reduced the integration between the 
USASCs and the RVNAF ALCs. 

Operation Keystone put into practice President Nixon’s promises on the campaign 
trail to withdraw the US from the Vietnam War. It began in the summer of 1969 with the 
first of a series of incremental troop reductions meant to be based on conditions on the 
battlefield. The 9th Division was first to leave under Operation Keystone Eagle that 
reduced troops strength by 25,000 men. This constituted the first time that the US Army 
would withdraw from a theater of operations while actively engaged in combat. While 
subsequent increments, named for birds (i.e. Keystone Cardinal, Keystone Oriole, etc) 

70 Ibid., 456. 


were supposed to be based on conditions, the withdrawal timeline took on a life of its 
own and became an unrelenting burden on the logisticians. 71 

Two critical factors related to the withdrawal limited the USASC elements from 
influencing the development of RVNAF operational logistics from 1969-71. First, the 
scale of the task consumed the attention of the logisticians, even those willing to commit 
time to developing their counterparts. Heiser estimated, “Three times as much effort is 
required to process materiel for retrograde as to receive incoming materiel and 
accomplish issue.” 72 This was exacerbated by the fact that the soldiers responsible for 
turning in the equipment were not redeploying with the headquarters that was heading 
home. Thus, they lacked the motivation to ensure the equipment was in good shape. 73 
The USASCs held the responsibility for receiving, cleaning, and preparing all of this 
equipment for transfer to the US. No small task for an Anny approaching a decade’s 
worth of service in a theater. 

The demands surrounding the withdrawal of American troops forecasted the 
challenges in store in the year following the scope of this study. Like with Operation 
Keystone, the USASCs felt burdened by Operations Enhance and Enhance Plus. 
Operation Enhance provided the guidance for transferring equipment from the US 
military to the RVNAF in early 1972 as part of a comprehensive improvement and 
modernization plan. When secret talks between US and North Vietnam political leaders 

71 Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 16; Heiser, Logistic Support, 67-69. 

72 Heiser, Logistic Support, 71. 

73 Ibid., 68. 


began to chart a path for peace in late 1972, Abrams realized the need to surge significant 
amounts of equipment to the RVNAF to avoid any limitations imposed by the political 
agreement. 74 The USASCs also assumed the responsibility to prepare this equipment for 
transfer to the RVNAF, further limiting their ability to contribute to the RVNAF’s 
improvement in the closing years. 


An understanding of how well MACV Vietnamized operational-level logistics 
demands an understanding of the context in which the key players operated. The 
comparison of the US and RVNAF logistics systems shows that the similarities of the 
theater network presented opportunities for collaboration, but the nascence of the 
RVNAF system limited the level of complexity that they could achieve. 

The strategic context showed that the aftermath of Tet and the arrival of a new US 
Presidential Administration affected fundamentally on what the operational logisticians 
could focus. The requirements for theater logistics units to pack up and send home US 
equipment, and transfer to the RVNAF quality pieces of equipment, ultimately inhibited 
their ability to support efforts to improve RVNAF self-sufficiency. 

74 Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam , 173-175. 




This chapter constitutes the main body of work that informs how MACV 
approached the Vietnamization of operational level logistics. To understand the 
effectiveness, one must connect the dots from the policy (Vietnamization), to the plan 
(Combined Strategic Objectives Plan and the Logistics Master Plan), to activity on the 
ground. The previous chapter described how MACV and General Creighton Abrams 
began putting the Vietnamization policy into operation, and some of the limitations 
imposed by a withdrawal mindset on the part of the Secretary of Defense. This resulted in 
a poorly constructed plan on the part of MACV that focused far too much on the science 
of logistics, but failed to address the art. Despite MACV’s shortcomings, Project Buddy, 
an OJT training program designed by the 1st Log Cmd that preceded the fonnal plans by 
MACV, showed great promise, but came too late to reach a tipping point for the RVNAF 
logistics infrastructure. The partnerships and training by the USASCs varied in quality 
over the concluding years of American involvement, and reflected the influence of 
leadership in this increasingly important task. 

While MACV planned and implemented the earliest phases of American troop 

withdrawals, their attention turned to the improvement and modernization of the 

RVNAF. This effort would eventually be reflected in the CRIMP, which reflected 

Secretary of Defense Laird’s interests in the accelerated withdrawal from the country, 

and received his approval in June 1970. The plan stated that by the end of 1973, the 

RVNAF would consist of 1.1 million men capable of conducting national defense and 

territorial pacification. The plan assumed that the RVNAF would assume defense of 


South Vietnam in two phases; first, ground combat; then air, naval, and logistical 
operations. 75 Despite this approval date, units throughout the country already began 
efforts in support of the initiative. 

Concurrent with the planning and approval of CRIMP, MACV developed and 
combined plans for Vietnamizing the logistical factors of the war into a Logistics Master 
Plan. This plan included eight main elements: (1) The Combined Logistics Offensive 
Plan (CLOP), (2) The Country Logistics Improvement Plan (CLIP), (3) The Base Depot 
Upgrade Plan, (4) The Plans for Turnover of Facilities and Functions Program, 

(5) Budgeting and Funding Concept Improvement Program, (6) The Administrative and 
Direct Support Logistical Company Study, (7) The South Vietnamese Anned Forces 
Automated Materiel Management System, and (8) The OJT Program “Project Buddy.” 76 
This collection of plans shows that MACV did not ignore the importance of improving 
RVNAF logistics, but the question is how well they were executed. 

The following pages will address three of these programs in detail, the CLOP, 
CLIP, and Project Buddy. Since the CLOP and CLIP are plans that address all aspects of 
the RVNAF logistics infrastructure, they are the best tools for detennining MACV’s 
approach. Project Buddy represents a clear example of pairing off between RVNAF and 
MACV logisticians. In order to establish continuity in drawing the line from the 

75 Cosmas, The Years of Withdrawal, 270. 

76 Heiser, Logistic Support, 239-240. While Heiser refers to a “Logistics Master 
Plan” in his Vietnam Studies series book, the Logistics Offensive Coordination Center 
referred to it in their November 1969 Newsletter as the “Master Plan for RVNAF 
Logistics Self Sufficiency.” Various studies and programs aligned between these two 
documents, but were numbered differently. 


Vietnamization policy to activity on the ground, the descriptions will follow the order as 
they are listed. It should be noted, however, that elements in the 1st Log Cmd were 
piloting Project Buddy initiatives prior to the publication of the CLOP and CLIP, thanks 
to the prescience and command influence of some key logistical leaders. 

The Combined Logistics Offensive Plan—CLOP 

MACV the CLOP as a combined plan with the RVNAF in 1969, but then 
transferred to the RVNAF as an annual plan to improve logistics efficiency. The CLOP 
deserves some detailed attention because it seems to be the flagship of MACV’s fonnal 
efforts to enhance the RVNAF’s logistical capabilities. While the plan effectively 
formalized how the RVNAF and their advisors could collect and approach problems, the 
approach to the problems articulated in the plan left much to be desired. 

General Abrams signed the CLOP into effect on 22 July 1969, stating “The 
United States Government has invested extensively in improving the Combat Capability 
of RVNAF. We must now concentrate our efforts on improving RVNAF logistics support 
to complement the increased combat capability.” 77 The plan identified five objectives: 

(1) Improve RVNAF logistics effectiveness; (2) Establish RVNAF standards of logistics 
effectiveness; (3) Provide techniques for measuring logistics effectiveness and progress 
in logistic systems improvement; (4) Improve effectiveness of logistics advisory 
organizations and personnel; and (5) Instill a positive and aggressive attitude in personnel 

77 MACV Plan, Logistics: Logistics Advisory Directorate - Combined Logistics 
Offensive - Record of MACV Part 1, 22 July 1969, Folder 0423, Box 0026, TTUWA, 
accessed 17 May 2016, 
item=F015800260423, cover letter. Hereafter referenced as “CLOP.” 


at all echelons, of RVNAF and MACV activities, toward rapid and extensive logistical 
support improvements. 78 The plan’s objectives were far-reaching, indeed, and yet the 
ambiguous nature of its details caused confusion later. 

Despite some ambiguities, the CLOP possessed great potential by establishing a 
combined way of approaching logistics problems. The plan ordered the establishment of 
a Combined Logistics Offensive Coordinating Committee composed of senior officers 
from both the RVNAF and MACV to “administer, evaluate, and provide continuing 
direction to the ‘Logistics Offensive.’” 79 In accordance with the plan, the RVNAF 
established the CLC Logistics Offensive Coordination Center (LOCC), while MACVJ4 
established the MACV LOCC. Among their tasks, the MACV LOCC was expected to 
synchronize advisory efforts, publish a logistics advisors guide, and determine special 
technical training requirements desired by the RVNAF. The advisory effort was expected 
to grow through the development of Mobile Logistics Advisory Teams and by identifying 
specific, qualified officers from the United States to deploy in support of this effort. The 
CLC LOCC was meant to serve as the “focal point for RVNAF logistics performance 
information and evaluation.” 80 The order clearly sought to establish a system that 
included both parties. 

The CLOP emphasized in numerous places the expectation of senior-level interest 
and involvement in the program. It directed the RVNAF Deputy Chief of Staff for 

78 CLOP, 5-6. 

79 Ibid., 6. 

80 Ibid., 6-13, “focal point,” 12. 


Logistics (then-BG Dong Van Khuyen) and the MACVJ4 (MG Raymond C. Conroy) to 
participate in the committee meetings. Both were expected to appoint senior officers to 
the LOCCs to promulgate problems identified within the system, and the efforts being 
made to fix them. To do so, the LOCC was expected to publish “’Logistics Newsletters’ 
to infonn commanders and their staffs of pertinent trends, progress, and problems 
concerning logistics effectiveness and the ‘Logistics Offensive.’” In his cover letter, 
Abrams wrote, “To achieve the desired results it is necessary that commanders and 
advisors at all echelons demonstrate a positive and detennined attitude toward logistics 
improvement. . . [and that] aggressive execution and first-hand knowledge of the plan by 
US advisors” would assure the success of the plan. 81 This structure and emphasis seemed 
to provide a pathway for RVNAF improvement. Unfortunately, the 1st Log Cmd was not 
mentioned in the plan. This evidences a myopic view on the part of MACV about who 
should take part in the advisory roles. This is discussed further below. 

Apart from establishing this bureaucracy, the CLOP further detailed the problems 
to be improved within the RVNAF logistics system. The MACV staff work is impressive. 
The planners collected problem sheets from field advisory teams that defined a specific 
logistics issues within the ARVN (73), Vietnamese Navy (VNN) (21), and VNAF (27), 
that amounted to 121 service problems. The staff then identified common problems 
finding 52 between at least two of the services, nine of which were common across all 
three services. They further identified the causes of the problems from a list of ten 
choices, then identified the command-level affected. Each problem then had a problem 

81 CLOP, 6-13, “Newsletter,” 8, Abrams, cover. 


sheet that elaborated on the issue, offered a solution, and assigned an action agency with 
a deadline (See Appendix A). 82 

For instance, the previous chapter discussed base depot troubles that afflicted the 
RVNAF. Aspects of this issue were reflected in ARVN problem number 65, which stated 
that “required maintenance capacity at base depots is not known.” The planners identified 
four causes: Command Emphasis at the JGS-CLC level; Programs/Systems/Procedures, 
Inspections, and Advisors at the Technical Service level. The problem sheet elaborated 
that the issue related to the deterioration of buildings at the 80th Ordnance Rebuild Base 
Depot (the same from the previous chapter), and a backlog of items at the 40th Engineer 
Base Depot. The actions to address these issues lacked inspiration. “High level approval 
for construction and maintenance projects for the 80th Ordnance Rebuild Base Depot,” 
and “JGS support recommendations of master planning group soon to be forthcoming 
from 40 th Engineer Base Depot and expand program to all maintenance facilities,” to be 
completed on 1 October 1969, and 1 December 1969, respectively. 83 While this seems to 
address the problem on paper, analysis of the elaborated problem (albeit with the benefit 
of hindsight), and the associated “fixes,” indicates a shallow appreciation for the bigger 
picture problems within the RVNAF network. 

ARVN problem 63 provides another example of how the CLOP failed to address 
deep seated issues in the system. Problem 63, “Direct support units do not have enough 
maintenance float assets,” included anecdotal evidence that two M-41A3 tanks in a 

82 CLOP, i-iv. 

83 Ibid., A-1-7, A-1-82. 


RVNAF Armored Cavalry Regiment had been unserviceable for over seven months for 
lack of parts, despite the fact that the needed parts were available. The proposed action 
stated “prepare a directive which will place emphasis on ‘moving forward’ maintenance 
float stockage from base depot to [Direct Support Units].” 84 

Both of these examples from the CLOP indicate the difficulty associated with 
attempting to comprehensively improve a large military’s logistical framework. In an 
effort to match solutions to problems within a short time, the solutions failed to address 
deep-seated issues in the framework. One can assume that an overriding sense of urgency 
toward withdrawal induced the approach, with the resulting actions easily being reported 
complete. In the second case, for instance, the preparation of a directive could satisfy the 
task, though it did not address the possibility that the maintenance system was broken. 
The MACJ4 recognized these trends. 

Major General (MG) Raymond C. Conroy served as the MACV’s Assistant Chief 
of Staff for Logistics, J-4, from March 1969 to October 1970. He was a transportation 
officer who served in the Middle East in World War II, and in Korea. Prior to serving as 
the MACVJ4, Conroy commanded the Military Traffic Management Command (Western 
Area) out of Oakland, CA, and as the Department of the Anny Assistant Chief of Staff 
for Logistics for Plans and Doctrine. He would go on to retire as the Chief of Staff for US 
Anny Europe. 85 His vast experience helped him recognize that the plan seemed to be 
distilled to half-baked efforts. 

84 CLOP, A-1-79. 

85 Oral History, Raymond C. Conroy, interviewed by Debbie B. Bazemore, 4 
December 1985, accessed from US Anny Transportation Corps History, General Officer 


For all that the CLOP built it up, the Combined RVNAF/MACV Coordinating 
Committee seems only to have met two times. 86 That is not to say that the LOCC was not 
meeting and moving forward on the actions directed by the CLOP. In fact, the first 
“Logistics Newsletter” signed on 9 September 1969, recorded that attendees of a recent 
joint MACV-RVNAF logistics offensive meeting approved an extension to the deadlines 
of the CLOP due to the late publication of the RVNAF version of the CLOP. 87 

Clearly, the LOCCs made headway in synchronizing efforts and collecting 
reports, but it is questionable how deeply they were affecting the system. While they 
were certainly doing great work, it is shocking that in the November 1969 committee 
meeting, only four months after the order was published in English, the LOCCs reported 
that 101 of the 121 problems were “closed out”! MG Conroy was skeptical, as reflected 
in the newsletter, stating “MG Conroy emphasized during his closing remarks that 
completion of actions as reported on paper was one thing but the true test of success was 
actual improvement in logistics which must be measured and validated.” The November 

Interviews, accessed 20 May 2016, 

86 The author based this assumption on what is available from the “Record of 
MACV.” It is possible that the Coordinating Committee met more times, but doubtful 
given the language of the newsletter dated 6 March 1970. The LOCC produced three of 
the prescribed “Logistics Offensive Newsletters” as minutes for the Committee meetings. 
The first newsletter, signed by the MACVJ4, MG Conroy, on 9 September 1969 recorded 
that the MACV LOCC had been established, but they were waiting on the RVNAF to 
approve the translation of the RVNAF’s list of problems. This addendum to the CLOP is 
thus far unavailable. 

87 CLOP, MG Raymond Conroy, “Logistics Offensive Newsletter,” 9 September 
1969. The first Logistics Offensive Newsletter is included in the CLOP file in the Record 
of MACV. 


newsletter acknowledged, however, that the CLOP was conceptually short range, and 
recorded that the MACV LOCC maintained statuses on all of the elements of the Master 
Plan for RVNAF Logistics Self Sufficiency. 88 

The second, and seemingly final, meeting of the Combined Logistics 
Coordination Committee included an update on the CLOP problems, and then a 
discussion of the Logistics Offensive II. The newsletter from the February 27 meeting 
emphasized that this new program was initiated by the RVNAF and, while advisory 
personnel were expected to advise and assist in the preparation of this sequel, MACV 
was to insure that it was a fundamentally Vietnamese effort. The RVNAF timeline for 
publishing the Logistics Offensive II gave only a few months to collect and study inputs 
for the plan, and submit them through multiple agencies. They expected to publish the 
plan by June 1970. 89 Though the MACV record shows no such publication, it appears 
that the RVNAF planned to reissue the plan annually with subsequent enumeration. 
General Dong Van Khuyen did not refer to the subsequent CLOPs in his monograph. 

The CLOP represents an excellent effort at a combined effort on the part of 
MACV and the RVNAF to address the improvement and modernization of the RVNAF 
logistics systems. The plan resulted in the establishment of a coordination center that 

88 Letter from Major General Conroy and Inclosures, Logistics - re: Logistics 
Offensive Newsletter - Record of MACV Part 1, 22 November 1969, Folder 0508, Box 
0025, TTUVVA, accessed 17 May 2016, 
items .php? item=F015800250508. 

89 Letter from Major General Conroy and Inclosure, Logistics - re: Logistics 
Offensive Newsletter - Record of MACV Part 1, 06 March 1970, Folder 0515, Box 0025, 
TTUVVA, accessed 17 May 2016, 

items .php? item=F015800250515. 


produced results. Nonetheless, retrospect affords the ability to see shortcomings. The 
honest efforts to improve comprehensively the RVNAF system seems to have been 
reduced to closing out tasks by writing directives. 90 Furthennore, the evidence shows that 
MACV missed an opportunity to involve elements other than advisors. Specifically, 
neither the 1st Log Cmd, nor any of its USASCs seem to have been represented on the 
Logistics Offensive Coordination Committee. Lieutenant General (LTG) Heiser’s sense 
of frustration surrounding this plan for oversight will be discussed below. While this part 
of the Logistics Master Plan possessed shortcomings and successes, it was augmented 
and complemented by other plans that further assisted the RVNAF toward self- 

Country Logistics Improvement Program—CLIP 
The CLOP was not the only plan produced by MG Conroy’s Office of the 
Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics, MACV. While the CLOP represented a short range, 
combined military (USMACV-RVNAF) effort that transferred to primary direction under 
the RVNAF, the CLIP represented a long range, joint, interagency, and multinational 
approach to improving the RVNAF logistics systems directed by the MACVJ4. While 
similar to the CLOP in how it identified problems and directed action for improvement, 
the CLIP was much more comprehensive, with a large section detailing the RVNAF 
Logistics Organization, and an estimate of the logistics situation across all of the 
Vietnamese military services. Taken together, however, the CLOP and CLIP seem to lack 

90 See “Logistics Offensive Newsletter,” 6 March 1970, Enclosure 1 “Remarks by 
ACofS, J4, MACV.” 


synchronization and leave one pondering how advisors and trainers could possibly keep 
track of the numerous systems to report improvement. 


Figure 4. Logistics Master Plan Management Chart 

Source: United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Command History 1969. 
Volume II (San Francisco: US Army Center for Military History, 1969), VI-116. 


How the CLIP and the CLOP could be so desynchronized is hard to discern since 
they both emanated from the same office, and were signed within ten days of each 
other. 91 Neither plan references the other in their text, although, as mentioned previously, 
the Logistics Offensive minutes mentioned the CLIP in its annex as a portion of the 
Master Logistics Plan. The Master Plan Management Chart provided in the MACV 
Command History 1969: Volume II falls short of clarifying how the tracking system 
should truly work. In fact, the reporting diagram does not match the commentary in the 
disparate plans. While the CLOP assigned tasks and created a reporting mechanism 
through the LOCCs, the CLIP established a reporting process through the larger RVNAF 
Improvement and Modernization Management System (RIMMS). 92 In the larger sense, 
MACV planners refer to both the CLIP and CLOP as two of its five annual plans, in the 
overarching Combined Strategic Objectives Plan, which ostensibly directed all of the US 
military efforts in Vietnam. 93 It is confusing how the CLIP and CLOP fell within the 
bureaucratic hierarchy of plans. Both were parts of the Logistics Master Plan, but are 

91 General Abrams signed the letter of promulgation for the CLOP on 22 July, 
1969, while his Assistant Adjutant General, Major J. F. Harris signed “for the 
commander” on 31 July, 1969. 

92 Report, Logistics - Country Logistics Improvement Plan (CLIP) - Record of 
MACV Part 1, 31 July 1969, Folder 0707, Box 0025, TTUVVA, accessed 20 May 2016, 15800250707, 3-9. 
Hereafter referenced as CLIP. 

93 “Updated US/RVN (US MACV/RVNJGS) Combined Strategic Objectives 
Plan,” 1971, Folder 01, Box 19, Douglas Pike Collection: Unit 01 - Assessment and 
Strategy, TTUVVA, accessed 19 May 2016, 
items.php?item=2121901001, 13-3 - 13-4. Hereafter referenced as CSOP. The other plans 
were the Combined Campaign Plan, the National Community Defense and Local 
Development Plan, and the RVNAF/MACV Communications Offensive Plan. 


listed individually in MACV’s Combined Strategic Objectives Plan. Even though the 
CLIP represented long-term objectives, it fell below the CLOP coordinating framework. 

They also differed in their distribution, which may explain some disparities. 
While the CLOP included recipients within MACV and the RVNAL, the CLIP’S 
distribution reached much further, to include a number of offices in Pacific Command, 
the Counterinsurgency School in Maxwell Air Lorce Base, and the US Command and 
General Staff College. This, along with references to formatting in accordance with the 
Commander-in-Chief Pacific Command Military Assistance Manual indicate that this 
plan was made for wider consumption. 94 Regardless of how the formatting matched 
audiences, the CLIP did project deadlines further in the future, and seemed to have a 
wider scope on problems in the RVNAL system. 

The plan’s authors divided their product into three sections. The first section laid 
out the purpose, scope, policy, and implementation of the plan. The policy prioritized 
command emphasis, logistics training, and logistics organization as critical for the 
RVNAL’s achievement of self-sufficiency, and assigned the MACVJ4 as the plan’s 
monitor. The agencies tasked within the order were to submit two quarterly reports to the 
MACVJ46 on each of their assigned tasks, with the third and fourth quarter reports 
combined into an annual report. 95 The MACV historical records do not include any of 
these reports. 

94 CLIP, cover letter, 1-2 - 1-3. In the general section, MACV planners stated that 
Country Logistics Improvement Plans normally address improvement throughout a 
country, to include economic reform, industry, etc. They qualify that this plan addressed 
only the RVNAL logistical capabilities. 

95 Ibid., 1-1 - 1-3. 


The second section described the RVNAF Logistics organization is great detail, 
and presented estimates of the logistics situations of each service’s logistical capability. 
The logistical organization subsection delves into the RVN’s GTSR cycle by explaining 
the roles of each branch’s technical services at the tactical, operational, and strategic 
level. In terms of maintenance, for instance, it explains that first, second, and third 
echelon maintenance is performed at the unit-level within the ARVN divisions, and 
Direct Support Units located throughout the RVNAF ALCs. At the operational level, 
fourth, and fifth echelons, highly complicated maintenance issues and total rebuilds, were 
to be provided by medium support battalions located at each RVNAF ALC, and by the 
80th Ordnance Rebuild Base Depot located in Saigon. 96 This section provided the 
theoretical way the RVNAF logistics system should work. 

The “estimate of the situation” subsection shines light on some of the 
shortcomings within the system. The summary argues that the RVNAF had advanced 
toward self-sufficiency from 1968-1969, but they still relied on assistance from the US 
advisors. It further emphasized that the ARVN system could expect more strain in the 
near future due to the changing situation and new growing force. This would be due to 
the ARVN taking on the challenge of defending the nation from outside aggressors as 
well as their pacification efforts, and the logistics snowball effect of increasing logistics 
personnel to support the increasing force structure. This section goes on to address some 
trends within each of the technical services. 97 

96 CLIP, 2-1 -2-9. 

97 Ibid., 2-33 - 2-38. 


While the second section of the CLIP made a detennined effort to describe the 

RVNAF system and its shortcomings, it fundamentally failed to address the problem of 
integration, and leadership among the logistics organizations. It stated that the “supply 
system responded well during the past Communist Offensives,” but fails to qualify the 
statement by mentioning the degree to which they relied on the US system to react. 98 

The third, final and largest section of the CLIP, “Logistic Objectives and Active 
Projects,” listed the 81 projects of the plan, divided into ten groups. The plan divided the 
projects between the South Vietnamese services, with nine assigned to the VNAF, eight 
to the VNN, and 64 to the ARVN. The ARVN projects fell into eight subcategories: J462, 
J463, Engineer, Medical, Ordnance, Quartermaster, Signal, and Transportation. The 
number of projects within each subcategory varied from only one in the J462, to twenty 
in the Ordnance subcategory. 99 

The first subcategory had only one project, “Develop a Management Information 
System Geared Toward Evaluating Effectiveness of the RVNAF Improvement and 
Modernization Program.” This section seemed to relieve MACV from collecting and 
reporting infonnation for inclusion in the monthly RVNAF Improvement and 
Modernization Management System (RIMMS) report. The new expectation was that the 
JGS/CLC will collect their own information, and that the MACV J462 will help them 
develop reporting systems to evaluate their supply management, maintenance system, and 

98 CLIP, 2-33. 

99 Ibid., 3-1 - 3-6. 


transportation management. 100 It is difficult to rationalize how this affected logistics 
reporting through the RIMMS. RIMMS reports are not readily available after the August 
1969 edition, the month in which the CLIP was published, implying that MACV 
discontinued the report. Nonetheless, the MACV 1971 Combined Strategic Objectives 
Plan still referred to the RIMMS as if it was still being produced. 101 While the reporting 
regimen remains unclear, especially considering the Logistics Master Pan Management 
Chart, the projects seemed to remedy some of the problems evident in the CLOP. 

The issues represented in the CLIP’S projects spanned a wide range from tactical 
to strategic considerations. The projects in the J463 category, for instance, dealt mainly 
with strategic generation tasks, such as the establishment of an RVNAF National 
Materiel Management Center (Project 2-1). Meanwhile, the Engineer section included 
Project 3-6, “Shortage of Engineer Technical Manuals at Operator and Maintenance 
Level.” 102 

An exploration of the eighth subcategory of transportation projects helps to gain 
understanding of how the CLIP seemed to tie into the O JT program discussed later, and 
shows the coherent and realistic approach by MACV, while showing the myopic focus of 
the projects. The Transportation subcategory includes four projects: Transportation 
Improvement (OJT with U.S. Units); Water Lift Improvement; Terminal Operations 
Improvement, Tenninal Service Companies; and Tenninal Operations Improvement, Port 

100 Ibid., 3-7. 

101 CSOP, 17-2. The CSOP goes on to state that the primary tool to evaluate 
operational effectiveness was the System for Evaluating the Effectiveness of RVNAF. 

102 CLIP, 3-1,3-9,3-31. 


Facilities. Each project includes an objective, a narrative of the background and current 
situation, courses of action, and deadlines for each sub task. 103 (See Appendix 2) 

The CLIP represents a long term plan to improve the RVNAF logistical self- 
sufficiency. The deliberate way in which it laid out objectives, tasks, and forecasted 
deadlines seemed to mitigate the problems that Conroy experienced with the CLOP. 
Nonetheless, the available records do not indicate that the CLIP enjoyed much more 
success than its complementary plan. 

While the plan attempted to address aspects of the science of logistics, it failed to 
embrace the complexities of the art of logistics. The categorization of the projects into 
departments and services fundamentally failed to address the deep-seated challenges of 
developing operational-level logistics capabilities. The projects do not address how 
logisticians above the corps level should be included into planning major operations. Nor 
do they foresee challenges in managing distribution networks and the integration of the 
different services. Had the plan insisted upon training high-level logistics planning within 
the RVNAF ALCs, they may have found more success in integrating the technical 
services and planning more effectively for support to combat operations. These 
shortcomings would become apparent in a few short years in Cambodia and Laos. 

While the CLIP presented better guidance to the MACV J4 advisory sections on 
where to focus their efforts, it still fell short in recognizing the full potential of pairing off 
units that were already on the ground. The few references in the CLIP to the 
improvement of OJT programs demonstrated the influence of one individual on MACV’s 

103 Ibid., 3-131 -3-138. 


belated planning efforts. As MACV struggled to finally get the CLOP and CLIP 
published and approved, one logistics commander had already embraced the natural 
nexus that exists among logistics units and civilians to develop a way to assist in RVNAF 

LTG Joseph Heiser, Civic Action, and Project Buddy 

Project Buddy represented an OJT Program designed to transfer duties among 1st 
Log Cmd elements to the RVNAF counterparts that were often collocated at ports, 
depots, and ammunition points. The commander who initiated the project, LTG Joseph 
Heiser, displayed prescience and determination, despite a lack of support from MACV. 
The actions of his subordinates demonstrated how the policy of Vietnamization translated 
into action at the operational level of logistics, and represented a lost opportunity by 
MACV over years of advising in Vietnam. 

LTG Joseph Heiser demonstrated exceptional leadership as the commander of the 
1st Log Cmd from July 1968 to July 1969. Not only did he initiate programs to improve 
the US logistics situation upon his arrival, he also recognized how he could extend his 
organization’s influence to affect multiple aspects of the overall campaign plan in 

Heiser had a tough childhood. He was raised in Charleston, SC by his great aunt 

because his mother died of influenza soon after divorcing his father for abusive 

alcoholism. When Heiser was 12 years old in 1926, his father took him away to 

Washington DC, having a brief exchange of gunfire with relatives on the way. As the 

specter of World War II loomed, Heiser enlisted in the Anny because he did not want to 

wait on his Marine enlistment waiver. His leadership qualities earned him orders to the 


Officer Candidate School where he received his commission as an Ordnance officer. He 

gained significant experience in the United Kingdom Base Section until 1945, then as the 
7th Division Ordnance Officer in the Korean War. 104 

In January 1966, Heiser began his assignment as the Assistant to the Deputy Chief 
of Staff for Logistics under LTG Lawrence Lincoln, Jr, and then LTG Jean Eiger. Eiger 
took the assignment as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics after having served as 
Commander of the 1st Log Cmd. During this assignment, Heiser was sent to Vietnam to 
investigate some claims about inefficiencies in the logistics system. He found numerous 
problems, to include a backup in shipping and broken communications. At this early 
stage, he attributed the problems to a lack of accountability for what material was on the 
ground. This informed his approach and aggressiveness when he took charge of the 1 st 
Logistical Command in the summer of 1968. 105 

Upon arrival in Vietnam, Heiser established three major programs that inform the 
scope of this study. First, he initiated a “Logistics Offensive” to address the problems in 
the American logistics system that he found in his earlier investigation. This offensive 
focused on gaining accountability of material on hand and halting unnecessary items 
from coming into the theater. The success of Heiser’s program undoubtedly inspired the 
naming of the combined plans discussed previously, and inspired Heiser to enact an 
Army-wide “Logistics Offensive” when he became the Deputy Chief of Staff for 

104 Heiser, Soldier Supporting Soldiers, 3-79. 

105 Ibid., 129-140. 


Logistics after his tour in Vietnam. 106 Secondly, he commenced Project Skills II two 
months after he took command. This program augmented the Command’s Operations 
Order 1-68, the plan for civic action throughout Vietnam. Skills II established an OJT 
program for Vietnamese in the fields of auto mechanics, clerical work, and carpentry. 
Finally, in light of the success of his civic action program, he instituted Project Buddy. 107 
Heiser understood that members of the 1st Log Cmd were capable of providing more than 
just services and support as means to achieving the military strategic ends in Vietnam. It 
started with their natural interaction with the host nation’s people. 

Operational-level logistics organizations represent a natural point of collaboration 
between a military force and a host country. The logistical units in Vietnam interacted 
with the local population from the very start of the efforts to establish a viable South 
Vietnamese government. They executed local projects to support the quality of life for 
locals, trained the South Vietnam Armed Forces’ logisticians, and developed programs 
for civilians with an eye on South Vietnam’s post-war prosperity. Interactions with the 
local nationals were not always positive, however. Logistical commanders often 
negotiated with the local population to counter such frustrations as pilferage and labor 
union strikes. 

Before President Lyndon Johnson’s commitment of significant ground forces to 
Vietnam in 1965, the Headquarters Support Activity, US Navy, preceded the 1st Log 
Cmd as the ranking command for logistics. Even before a significant build-up of forces, 

106 Ibid., 150-165. 

107 SODR, Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., 23 September 1969, DTIC, CARL; Skills II, 

224, 239-240; Buddy, 15. 


the Navy demonstrated the natural ties between the logistical units and civic action 
missions. Voluntary dental care for the Vietnamese people, for instance, included more 
than 12,000 cases by October 1965. 108 In the US Navy’s 1972 history of operational 
logistics in Vietnam, Mobility, Support, Endurance, Vice Admiral Edwin Hooper wrote, 
“The Dental Department sent out volunteer teams on weekends to villages and hamlets, 
where they performed minor surgery to relieve oral suffering and halt infections. In a 
typical ten-hour day, two dentists would pull as many as 600 teeth.” 109 Apart from dental 
care, they saw numerous opportunities to help the host nation. 

After the disestablishment of Naval Support Command as the ranking logistics 
headquarters, the Navy was still responsible for (Naval) USASC Da Nang, providing 
support for the northernmost I CTZ. One officer assumed the full time job of supervising 
civic action efforts, while other officers and sailors worked as volunteers. Over time, the 
commitment grew. By June of 1967, USASC-Da Nang had eight village action teams that 
rebuilt homes in damaged hamlets, established parks, and taught civil functions, such as 
waste disposal and traffic planning. 110 US Marine Corps “Seabees” 111 actively engaged in 
civic projects throughout the war building schools, bridges, resettlement villages (critical 
in counterinsurgency environments), and wells. The units in the area support commands 

108 Edwin B. Hooper, Mobility, Support and Endurance: A Story of Naval 
Operational Logistics in the Vietnam War, 1965-1968 (Washington, DC: Department of 
the Navy, 1972), 64-65. 

109 Ibid., 65. 

110 Ibid., 101. 

111 The term “Seabee” comes from the abbreviation “CB” for construction 


were particularly well suited to perform these functions because of excess dunnage 
available after supplies arrived. 112 

The civic action operations in Da Nang were replicated across the other support 

commands and grew in importance over the years. In 1967, USASC Saigon implemented 

the Long Binh Post People-to-People Program with marked success. The 1st Logistical 

Command Headquarters ORLL from July 1968 recorded, 

The program involves weekly hamlet visits and the conduct of an intensive civic 
action program in the area. One significant project currently underway is the 
relocation of the entire hamlet of Nui Dat, which was devastated during the Tet 
attacks. Land was acquired from the government approximately two kilometers 
from the original site and 100 new homes are being built, entirely on a self-help 
basis, with material and technical assistance being provided by the Government of 
South Vietnam and USASC, Saigon. 113 

In response to USARV’s Operations Plan 81-68 (Campaign Plan), the 1st Logistical 
Command, then under MG Thomas Scott, implemented Operations Order 1-68 ordering 
all of the Support Area Commands to develop programs like the USASC Saigon’s 
People-to-People program. The July ORLL stated, “Its scope extends far beyond 
anything undertaken heretofore and is a major step forward in the effective coordination 
of the military civic action effort throughout Vietnam.” 114 Heiser recalled in his memoirs 
the voluntary efforts by U.S. servicemen on behalf of the Vietnamese in 1968 and 1969 

112 Hooper, 192-193. 

113 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, Quarterly Period Ending 13 July 1968, DTIC, CARL, 


Ibid., 36. 


included construction of 1,253 schools, 175 hospitals, 598 bridges, and 7,099 
dwellings. 115 

Operations Order 1-68 produced long-tenn fruits among the area support 
commands and paved the way toward training Vietnamese to take on increased 
responsibility in the USASCs. The 10th Transportation Battalion (Tenninal) operated a 
stevedore training school for local nationals. Brigadier General Henry Del Mar stated in 
his Senior Officer Debriefing Report, “We are quite proud of the stevedores that 
graduated from our own stevedore training course. So fast have they advanced that 
Support Command trained stevedore crews now account for approximately one-third of 
all the cargo tonnage handled in Can Ranh Port.” 116 Such programs exhibit the influence 
that the logistical commands could have in supporting the population in positive ways 
through civic action and civilian interaction. 

Two months after Heiser arrived in Saigon, he expanded on the civic action 
program with Project Skills II, a training program for local nationals employed at the 
USASCs, in recognition of the increasing role of South Vietnamese civilians as 
manpower resources available to the 1st Log Cmd. Heiser further expanded this to Skills 
IIA, targeting high performers from the Skills II program for further education and 
potential managerial responsibility. 117 

115 Heiser, A Soldier Supporting Soldiers, 165. 

116 SODR, BG Henry Del Mar, 18 February 1971, USAHEC, 13. 

117 SODR, Heiser, 224. 


This extensive review of the civic action and local national training programs 
shows that operational level logistics organizations naturally find themselves in positions 
to interact with local nationals, and take part in the improvement of their host nation. 
Furthennore, it demonstrates how the 1st Log Cmd leadership, particularly LTG Heiser, 
understood how they could use their USASCs to conduct OJT programs. Unfortunately, 
MACV failed to appreciate this capability. While Project Buddy did not receive its due 
attention in the eyes of its creator, it became a talking point for MACV in weekly updates 
to Pacific Command, and to the US Congress. 

An understanding of the 1st Log Cmd’s Project Buddy serves two purposes for 
understanding how the US Anny Vietnamized operational level logistics. First, it 
solidified the Vietnamization concept before the policy even took effect. Secondly, it 
represents a missed opportunity for MACV to take an alternate approach to the advisory 
effort, and embrace further Abrams’ “One War” concept. 

Project Buddy emerged in the 1st Log Cmd’s January 1969 ORLL’s annex for 
training as a conceptual plan submitted to MACV and ARVN headquarters for approval. 
The report defined the operation as “a means of expeditiously expanding ARVN’s 
logistical forces in order to insure [sic] their readiness to assume responsibilities 
connected with T-Day planning and MACV RVNAF improvement and modernization 
program.” 118 It further explained that 1st Log Cmd submitted the plan to USARV and 
MACV for concept approval in November 1968, but that the subordinate support 
commands should provide comments for consideration in the final plan, and be prepared 

118 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending January 1969, DTIC, CARL, 47. 


to implement the plan 30 days after USARV granted approval. Finally, it reported that 
each of the USASCs had initiated programs anticipating the plan’s approval. 119 This 
approval was not as smooth as Heiser hoped and expected. 

MACV dragged its feet on approving Heiser’s program because of a fundamental 
belief that advising, assisting, and training the RVNAF should be restricted to the 
advisors within MACV. 120 The friction between the organizations can be sensed through 
subsequent ORLLs, and by Heiser’s records. In the 1st Log Qnd’s April 1969 ORLL, the 
training division annex reported “MACV has not yet provided overall ARVN logistical 
training requirements to initiate full implementation of the program.” 121 The MACVJ46 
finally received a briefing and completed an evaluation of the 1st Log Cmd’s OJT 
training capacity in August 1969, nine months after Heiser’s headquarters submitted the 
plan for approval. 122 

MACV’s annual Command History 1969, included OJT Project Buddy as a 
program in the master plan for logistics self-sufficiency. It acknowledged that 1st Log 
Cmd initiated Buddy in January as a pilot, and that the Military Assistance Command- 
Training staffed a proposed directive for RVNAF OJT that was published in October. 

119 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending January 1969, DTIC, CARL, 47. 

120 Clarke, 430. 

121 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending April 1969, DTIC, CARL, 51. 

122 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending October 1969, DTIC, CARL, 33. 


The history concluded the section stating, “At the end of the year, all indications were 
that the various OJT Programs were exceeding original expectations.” 123 

Heiser expressed his displeasure with how MACV took on his proposed program 
in his SODR, his memoirs, and in the Logistics Support edition of the Vietnam Studies 
Series. In his SODR, Heiser wrote, “General Abrams personally approved the BUDDY 
concept in January but we have been unable to make real headway due to lack of interest 
in MACV J4 and some ARVN top level people who don’t recognize the problem!” He 
went on to state, “We have a psychological problem to solve in that there are those who 
are not intimately knowledgeable of our logistic system or the equipment provided; 
therefore, they cannot recognize what the requirement really is!” 124 In Logistics Support, 
Heiser wrote that the Buddy Project’s potential was never realized due to mid-level 
bureaucracy and jurisdictional protection on MACV’s part. 125 In his memoirs, published 
after the fall of Saigon, Heiser reiterated his disappointment, stating, “Because of lack of 
cooperation within the MACV staff, even though their boss had approved the project, we 
did not make nearly the progress we should have. I can’t judge the extent to which this 
failure affected the capability of the ARVN combat service support troops, but I know 
that it did hurt in the long run.” 126 

123 Command History, 1969 Volume II, VI-126. 

124 SODR, Heiser, 15. 

125 Heiser, Logistics Support, 241 

126 Heiser, Soldier Supporting Soldiers, 161-162. 


Some of Heiser’s frustration potentially resulted from the decision by MACV in 
summer of 1969 to eliminate the 1st Log Cmd Headquarters in their effort to optimize US 
troops in support of withdrawal caps. Heiser’s replacement would be the last 1st Log 
Commander. He closed the headquarters in the summer of 1970. Thereafter, the USASCs 
reported directly to USARV. 127 

Heiser’s frustrations notwithstanding, the Buddy Project resulted in deliberate 
contributions by the USASCs to the RVNAF’s self-sufficiency in operational logistics for 
the remainder of the war. The 1st Log Cmd’s ORLLs show impressive growth in training 
the RVNAF troops through the years. During the “pilot period” before MACV approved 
the program, ten ARVN soldiers received training as tug boat masters from the 4th 
Transportation Command from USASC-Saigon , and 16 ARVN soldiers received heavy 
boat, machine shop, and harbormaster operations training from the 159th Transportation 
Battalion (Terminal). 128 The 159th Transportation Battalion (Terminal) oversaw 
stevedore functions in Qui Nhon from 1966 to April 1969, and the Vung Tau and Cat Lai 
ports in the USASC-Da Nang until it departed Vietnam in June 1971. 129 The 
geographical locations of these troops show that 1st Log Cmd carried this initiative 
throughout the country, not just in the major Saigon / Long Binh area. 

In the first month that MACV finally evaluated Heiser’s program, August 1969, 
the 1st Log Cmd trained 80 ARVN soldiers. Two months later, 572 soldiers received 

127 Cosmas, MACV: The Years of Withdrawal, 209-210. 

128 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending April 1969, DTIC, CARL, 51. 

129 Stanton, 226. 


training in areas ranging from laundry machine maintenance, to tug, medium, and heavy 
boat operations. 130 By January 1970, 814 ARVN soldiers had been trained, while 843 
ARVN soldiers were in training. 131 In the 1st Log Qnd’s final ORLL before deactivation, 
the program expanded even further throughout the ASCs with 2,425 ARVN soldiers 
trained over the course of three months. This training included more nuanced courses, 
such as the 24 ARVN soldiers who received ammunition handling, identification 
inspection, and maintenance techniques training by the 3rd Ordnance Battalion from 
USASC-Saigon. 132 

The project received mixed coverage in the USASC Commanders’ SODRs. This 
indicates to some degree the amount of command emphasis the program received. With 
respect to USASC Cam Rahn Bay, for instance, Colonel (COL) Fra nk Gleason’s SODR 
makes no mention of Project Buddy, or of any coordination or relationship with the 
RVNAF ALCs that had the same area of support operations. 133 In fact, the USASC Cam 
Rahn Bay ORLLs from his time in command reflect no efforts to institute the concept 
Heiser instructed his subordinate commands to develop. 134 Gleason’s replacements, 
though, highlighted specifically the value of the program. 

130 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending October 1969, DTIC, CARL, 33. 

131 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending January 1970, DTIC, CARL, 31. 

132 ORLL, 1st Log Cmd, quarterly period ending April 1970, DTIC, CARL, 22. 

133 SODR, COL Frank Gleason, 19 September 1969, DTIC, CARL. 

134 ORLLs, USASC Cam Ranh Bay, quarterly periods ending April, July, and 
October, 1969, DTIC, CARL. 


BG Henry Del Mar assumed command of USASC Cam Ranh Bay in October 
1969, and seemed to have embraced Project Buddy. The first ORLL released after he 
took command reflected the initiation and growth of the program, including that in 
January 1970, “an Instruct and Advise (I&A) Team composed of six personnel from this 
command was attached to MACV Team 11 in Nha Trang to assist ARVN personnel 
while they were working on the job.” 135 The program received further emphasis in the 
US Army Depot, Cam Ranh Bay report for the same period, that reported how nine 
ARVN soldiers were receiving training on care and preservation techniques and methods 
of packaging. The depot commander used contractors from the Vinnell Corporation to 
teach the course because they were the subject matter experts in the task. When a 
Contract Officer Representative from Vinnell Corporation stated he would not continue 
instruction without a letter from the USASC Cam Ranh Bay Headquarters, one was 
readily produced and provided. 136 

In his SODR, BG Del Mar expressed pride in his command’s efforts to 
Vietnamize their tasks, and in the rapport that the members of his command had built 
with the Vietnamese civilian and military communities. In the “Highlights of My Period 
of Command” section, he stated, “approximately one of every three tons of cargo that 
passes through the Cam Ranh Port is handled by Support Command trained Vietnamese 

135 ORLL, USASC Cam Ranh Bay, quarterly period ending January 1970, DTIC, 
CARL, 5. 

136 ORLL, US Anny Depot, Cam Ranh Bay, quarterly period ending January 
1970, DTIC, CARL, 5. The Vinnell Corporation was a government-owned civilian 
operated component at ASC Cam Ranh Bay that operated high voltage power plants, 
stevedore support, and port clearance support to the command. Stanton, 192. 


stevedores,” and “in all my maintenance areas I have Vietnamese military and civilian 
personnel working side-by-side doing on-the-job training with my own maintenance 
personnel.” 137 Del Mar’s replacement, MG Harold Kissinger, who commanded USASC 
Cam Ranh Bay from September 1970 until March 1972, enthusiastically continued this 
trend reporting on direct and indirect dealings with the 2nd and 5th RVNAF ALCs. 138 

Support for Project Buddy among the commanders of USASC Da Nang started 
strong, but took on a different tone in the final years. BG George Young commanded this 
northern most USASC from March 1967 to October 1968. He observed that the 
effectiveness of MACV’s centralized advisory effort was “highly questionable,” and that 
the 1st Log Commander should be in charge of this aspect of Vietnamization. This was 
prescient as he left command prior to Heiser’s arrival. 139 His successors did not reflect 
similar zeal in their SODRs. BG James Gunn, the commander from October, 1968 to 
October, 1969, made no mention of Project Buddy or any relations with his ARVN 
counterparts. COL H. D. Smith, commander from October 1969 to July 1970, included 
Project Buddy in his list of activities, but did not stress any relationships in his SODR. 140 
However, the USASC Da Nang ORLLs during Smith’s tenure in command implied 
significant support for the program. The ORLL covering the period from January to 
April, 1970, reported that Project Buddy remained a “top priority” for the command. 

137 SODR, BG Henry Del Mar, February 1971, DTIC, CARL, 21. 

138 SODR, MG Harold Kissinger, December 1972, DTIC, CARL, 5. 

139 SODR, BG George Young, October 1968, DTIC, CARL, 12-13. 

140 SODR, BG James Gunn, November 1969, DTIC, CARL; SODR, COL H.D. 
Smith, December 1970, DTIC, CARL, 3. 


Smith had organized two internal Instruct and Advise teams. One team completed a six- 
week training cycle at the ARVN 812th Ordnance Company in Da Nang, while the other 
worked with the ARVN 811th Ordnance Direct Support Unit in Hue. 141 Smith’s 
successor, MG Arthur Sweeney’s report covering November 1970 to April 1972, leaves 
the impression that Vietnamization diverted from being a matter of training, but was 
merely a method of handing over equipment and responsibility. 142 Sweeney’s perspective 
was likely influenced by his focus on supporting Operation Lam Son 719, and then 
transferring his attention almost solely to Operation Keystone duties. 

The SODRs from the commanders of USASC Qui Nhon further imply differing 
attitudes about the USASCs role in transferring tasks to the ARVN. BG Darrie Richards, 
commander fonn May 1968 to June 1969 made no mention of Project Buddy, or of 
Vietnamization. Although, the ORLL for his time in command reflected that they had 
introduced and were widening the scope of the project. 143 On the contrary, Richards’ 
successor, BG Albert Hunter, who commanded from 8 June 1969 to 1 June 1970, lauded 
his command’s efforts in his SODR’s summary. His comments are worth quoting at 
length, stating, 

A final but most noteworthy accomplishment has been the success achieved by 
[Qui Nhon Support Command] in the ARVNIZATION Program. The 1377 
members of the RVN, 2d Area Logistics Command who have been trained in 
logistics skills represent about 23 percent of the 6,000 personnel assigned to the 

141 ORLLs, USASC Da Nang, quarterly periods ending January, July, 1970, 
DTIC, CARL; ORLL, USASC Da Nang, quarterly period ending April 1970, DTIC, 
CARL, 16. 

142 SODR, MG Arthur Sweeney, December 1972, DTIC, CARL. 

143 SODR, BG Darrie Richards, July 1969, DTIC, CARL; ORLL, USASC Qui 
Nhon, April 1970, DTIC, CARL, 23. 


2d ALC. Other ARVNIZATION highlights include the planned relocation of US 
Ammunition stocks into the ARVN [ammunition supply point] at Pleiku early in 
June 1970 and the ARVN operations of the Pleiku Tank Farm. [Qui Nhon Support 
Command] is giving high priority to the ARVNIZATION Program in order to 
prepare the ARVN 2d ALC for the eventual take over and operation on US 
logistical facilities. 144 

Sadly, Hunter’s successor made no mention of Buddy, Vietnamization, or relationships in 
his SODR. 

This meticulous review of the SODRs and ORLLs from the 1st Log Cmd and 
USASC levels contributes to our understanding of the Vietnamization of operational 
level logistics in two significant ways. It shows how the policy of Vietnamization 
materialized on the ground where the US and ARVN troops met face to face. 

Furthennore, it illustrates the influence of the personalities associated with such a 
program and how much effort they receive, particularly in a time when these 
organizations faced multiple competing requirements. These negative factors were 
exacerbated by the loss of the program’s patron, LTG Heiser, and the subsequent closing 
of the 1st Log Cmd Headquarters the year after he left. 

The progress made in training the RVNAF troops through Project Buddy proved 
to be a point of pride for the US Army, writ large. The numbers of troops trained through 
the program were included in the “Army Activities Report: SE Asia,” a weekly 
informational report from the US War Office. 145 In his testimony to the US Senate 

144 SODR, BG Albert Hunter, July 1970, DTIC, CARL, 29. 

145 “U.S. Army Activities Report - U.S. Anny Build-Up and Activities in South 
Vietnam, 1965-1972” - Vietnam War Research Collections, 17 February 1971, Folder 
0521, Box 0024, TTUVVA, accessed 10 March 2016, 
virtualarchive/items.php?item=F031700240521, 66. 


Committee on Foreign Relations in March 1970, General Clement used data from Project 
Buddy to highlight MACV’s increase in training efforts. 146 Unfortunately, this did not 
mean that 1st Log Qnd’s great efforts effectively complemented MACV’s efforts. 


This detailed review of MACV’s plans for the improvement and modernization of 
the RVNAF logistics, as captured in the CLIP and CLOP, and the efforts made by 1st 
Log Cmd through Project Buddy after years of practice training Vietnamese civilians, 
demonstrates two key factors about how the US Vietnamized operational level logistics. 
First, it showed that there was a logical thread from the Vietnamization policy through 
plans made by MACV to improving the RVNAF logistics. The CLIP and CLOP 
represented honest efforts to find measures of effectiveness and attempted to assign tasks 
and timelines to each of them. Sadly, though, the related documents available for this 
study indicate superficial efforts that did not address the art of operational logistics. This 
seems to match what historian Gregory Daddis said of MACV’s advisory efforts in 
general. Daddis concluded, “there were too many metrics, but not enough meaningful 
metrics.” 147 

Secondly, a review of the programs as a whole reflects the lack of synchronization 
between MACV’s efforts, and those of the organizations that could directly affect 

146 BG Wallace L. Clement, testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, “Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970, U.S. Military Advisory Program,” 


147 Gregory Daddis, No Sure Victory: Measuring US Army Effectiveness and 
Progress in the Vietnam War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 224. 


RVNAF capability. Neither the CLIP nor the CLOP are ever mentioned in 1st Log Cmd 
ORLLs or in the SODRs of the senior logistics commanders. Nor do the CLIP or CLOP 
clearly assign responsibilities to the 1st Log Cmd, or the USASCs to support the MACV 
trainers. While the CLIP referenced the initial efforts of Project Buddy (though not by 
name) as beneficial to the CLIP objectives, it did not result in aggressive support on the 
whole from MACV. 

The state of the overall effort to improve the RVNAF operational logistical 
capabilities was summed up in the April, 1971 ORLL from USASC Cam Ranh Bay. In it, 
the unit reported that efforts toward Vietnamization programs were limited for three 
reasons: lack of coordination and planning; lack of translators for Project Buddy; and 
feet-dragging by the ARVN. 148 Had MACV considered the need to come up with a plan 
earlier, and recognized that the USASCs already had a natural relationship with the 
Vietnamese through their civic action programs, they may have produced a more 
synchronized plan with more concrete results. The conditions as they played out explain 
how well, or how poorly, the RVNAF logisticians would conduct the art of operational 
logistics in the final years of American involvement in the war. 

148 ORLL, USASC Cam Ranh Bay, quarterly period ending April 1971, DTIC, 
CARL, 32. 




In order to properly assess how well the US Anny Vietnamized operational 
logistics, we must consider the perfonnance of the RVNAF itself. The 1971 raid into 
Laos, Operation Lam Son 719 and the subsidiary Operation Dewey Canyon II, represent 
the best case study for considering the effectiveness of the effort for numerous reasons. It 
takes place more than 18 months after the publication of the CLIP, CLOP, and Buddy 
program, so one may reasonably expect significant RVNAF advances. Furthermore, the 
RVNAF and US had the opportunity to leam from the incursion into Cambodia a year 
prior. The nature and scale of the operation also make it the best candidate for study. 

Since Operation Lam Son 719 was an offensive campaign, the RVNAF possessed the 
initiative, ostensibly giving them opportunity to develop an efficient and effective 
operational logistics plan and network. Finally, Lam Son 719 serves best as a case study 
because once the Nixon Administration used the operation as demonstration of success 
for the Vietnamization program, the logisticians’ efforts turned increasingly (even totally) 
to Operations Keystone and Enhance, to the detriment of the OJT program. 

The execution and aftermath of Operation Lam Son 719 evidenced the neglect of 
Vietnamization efforts in operational level logistics because of the lack of coordination in 
logistical planning, the overreliance on the American logistical infrastructure, and the 
effects of the decision after the operation to accelerate the withdrawal of American forces 
from Vietnam. The lack of coordination in logistical planning highlighted MACV’s half¬ 
hearted efforts to advise and assist the RVNAF in an arena, as Heiser said, MACV did 

not fully grasp. The RVNAF performed poorly, or relied heavily on American capability 


to transport, sustain, and redeploy at the operational level. Finally, after the operation 
concluded and President Nixon declared success of the Vietnamization program, he set 
the wheels in motion that would not allow logisticians of the USASCs to bolster their 
efforts to improve the RVNAF because of the great demands inherent in the transfer of 
equipment and withdrawal. While the true comprehensive test to Vietnamization would 
come a year later with the NVA Easter Offensive, the planning, execution, and results of 
Operation Lam Son 719 showed that Vietnamization of operational level logistics would 
never meet its potential, had MACV began efforts earlier and capitalized on the 1st Log 
Cmd’s expertise. 

This chapter evaluates the RVNAF’s capability to conduct theater combat 
logistics using the GTSR cycle. It is appropriate though to provide some background for 
Operation Lam Son 719, to include some salient points on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the 
Cambodia Incursion of 1970, the operational plan and execution, and the logistical plan. 
After using the stages of the GTSR cycle as a tool for evaluation, the chapter concludes 
with the effects of the aftennath of Lam Son 719 on the final stages of American 
involvement in the war. 

The RVNAF Goes on the Offensive 

In 1970, the Nixon administration faced a balancing act of appeasing ravenous 
calls for withdrawals from the theater by the US public, and holding off an aggressive 
enemy so MACV and RVNAF could continue implementing Vietnamization. 
Meanwhile, his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, engaged in largely 
ineffective, secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese. In the midst of these events, 

the North Vietnamese were preparing for another offensive into South Vietnam similar to 


the Tet Offensive by pushing supplies down their strategic and operational lines of 
communications through Laos and Cambodia. This network was the Ho Chi Minh 
Trail. 149 

Figure 5. 1970 Cambodian Incursion 

Source: Graham Cosmas, MACV: The Years of Withdrawal, 1968-1973 (Washington, 
DC: US Anny Center of Military History, 2006), 299. 

149 Herring, 287-288. Similar to discussions in chapter 1, and later in this chapter, 
the relative scale of power projection defines what are operational and strategic LOCs. 
Since the theater of operations generally includes all of the countries in eastern 
Indochina, these road networks are both operational and strategic. 


The Ho Chi Minh Trail had, since the establishment of an independent South 
Vietnam, been a “thorn in the back” for RVN and American political and military 
leaders. 150 In fact, the system’s roots dated to the 1st Indochina War to support the Viet 
Minh’s struggle for independence from France. It consisted of about 2,000 miles of 
roadways, trails, and waterways that followed the length of South Vietnam, with 
offshoots along the way. It took the NVA Group 559 consisting of over 150,000 troops, 
volunteers, and forced laborers to sustain the routes in the face of US bombing 
interdiction efforts. The NVA committed such deliberate efforts because of its necessity 
to support any major operations against the South. 151 

The Americans desired for some time to isolate or interdict portions of the Ho Chi 
Minh Trail, and in late 1969, the Joint Chiefs asked for MACV’s opinion on a South 
Vietnamese incursion into Cambodia near Saigon. After Abrams expressed reticence on 
the RVNAF’s ability to conduct the operation on their own, a combined US/RVNAF 
assault across the border received Nixon’s support and approval. The operation was 
aimed at interdicting the ends of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and disrupting the exiled Central 
Office for South Vietnam (COSVN) in Cambodia. Importantly, the operation consisted of 
an American-led combined portion, and a largely independent portion for the ARVN in 
the “Parrot’s Beak,” a tract of Cambodian territory that juts into South Vietnam. 152 

150 Nguyen Duy Hinh, Lam Son 719 (Washington, DC: US Anny Center for 
Military History, 1979), 32. 

151 Ibid., 9-16. 

152 Sorley, A Better War , 200-208. 


Figure 6. Organization for Logistic Support, Cambodian Incursion, 1970 

Source : Dong Van Khuyen, RVNAFLogistics (Washington, DC: US Anny Center of 
Military History, 1980), 190. 

Logistically, the Cambodian Incursion served as a great opportunity for the 
RVNAF to establish an operational-level logistics network in support of a major combat 
operation. This required them to augment the existing infrastructure of the 3d and 4th 
RVNAF ALCs with four and five support bases, respectively, located in key sites around 
the Parrot’s Beak, and within Cambodia. For instance, at Go Dau Ha, a village just east of 
the RVN-Cambodia border on the Parrot’s Beak, along Highway 1, the CLC deployed 
the 531st Ammunition Depot, and the 333d POL Field Depot, as well as direct support 
platoons for signal and ordnance. Establishing this infrastructure also proved helpful in 


integrating engineer troops, who had to make these FSAs survivable, and recondition the 
supply routes in their area of operations. 153 

According to multiple accounts, the logisticians performed satisfactorily in 
support of the Cambodian Incursion, but not without some troubling shortcomings. 154 
Some of these related directly to the RVNAF’s operational level challenges. Their field- 
and depot-level maintenance proved inadequate due to a lack of replacement parts, 
resulting in high unserviceable rates. A lack of wreckers limited their capability of 
evacuating the M-l 13 Armored Personnel Carriers, and M-41 tanks. 155 Furthermore, 
while they adequately built up the supplies at the FSAs, their processing and issue rate 
proved relatively slow. 156 

The CLC logistical network enjoyed numerous favorable conditions, particularly 
fair weather, an enemy that decided to cut and run rather than stay and fight, and 
numerous supply routes among the FSAs and the existing 3d and 4 th RVNAF ALCs’ 
areas. These supply routes even included the Mekong River, used extensively by the 
VNN riverine forces to transport supplies to the Phnom Penh supply base. 137 The 
Cambodian Incursion, and RVNAF Logistics monographs from the Indochina Monograph 
Series fail to emphasize the importance of the proximity of this operation to Saigon, and 

153 Khuyen, 189-193. 

154 Khuyen, 195-196; Tran Dinh Tho, The Cambodian Incursion (Washington, 
DC: US Army Center for Military History, 1979), 180; Clarke, 418. 

155 Tho, 180; Khuyen, 193. 

156 Khuyen, 193-194. 

157 Tho, 180; Khuyen, 194. 


the RVNAF’s existing stocks within the III CTZ. This proximity, which directly relates 
to the number of improved roads in the area, effectively simplified the RVNAF’s 
strategic, operational, and tactical GTSR cycles. The RVNAF would not possess the 
same favorable conditions a year later. 

Operation Lam Son 719 

Nearly a year after the Cambodian Incursion, MACV hatched another plan to 
interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but this time into southern Laos, near the demilitarized 
zone between North and South Vietnam. As early as August 1970, Admiral John S. 
McCain, Jr., Commander in Chief of US Pacific Command, conveyed to General Abrams 
the White House’s proposal for another cross-border effort. Importantly, Abrams had 
concerns about how such an effort affected the Vietnamization program, stating “When a 
new endeavor is launched, something has to give.” 158 In early December 1970, McCain 
instructed Abrams to initiate planning for an ARVN thrust into Laos. By late December, 
Abrams presented confidently his plan for the South Vietnamese to seize Tchepone, a 
critical hub of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Abrams came to believe the operation could have 
lasting, if not permanent, effects on the enemy’s ability to transport supplies into the 
northern region of South Vietnam. 159 

158 As quoted in Sorley, A Better War, 232. This was a message sent by Abrams to 
McCain in August 1970. 

159 Sorley, A Better War, 230-235; Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, 96-97. 


Source : Jeffrey Clarke, Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965-1973 (Washington, 
DC: US Army Center of Military History, 1988), 474. 

Unlike the previous year’s operation, political conditions forbade the Americans 
from setting foot on Cambodian or Laotian soil. In response to Nixon’s expansion of the 
war in 1970, Senators Fra nk Church and John Cooper introduced an amendment to a 
foreign military sales bill prohibiting MACV from committing troops outside of South 
Vietnam, and for defunding future financial support to the GVN. The amendment, 
tempered of its extreme proposals, finally passed in December of 1970. 160 

160 Henry Kissinger, Ending the War in Vietnam (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
2003), 169-171; David F. Schmitz, Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War (Lanham, MD: 
Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), 92-94. 


The plan for the attack into Laos had four phases. The first phase consisted of an 
American shaping operation named Operation Dewey Canyon II. The US XXIV Corps, 
under the command of LTG James W. Sutherland, received the tasks to clear and 
improve the routes from the cities of Quang Tri through Khe Sanh, and to the border. 
They had to rebuild the airstrip and base area at Khe Sanh to accommodate the significant 
logistical footprint necessary to support the operation. Sutherland had to provide forces to 
protect the northern approaches to Khe Sanh, and to integrate with the 2nd Regiment of 
the 1st ARVN Infantry Division defending against a possible NVA attack across the 
DMZ. Meanwhile, the planned called for the ARVN I Corps, under the command of LTG 
Hoang Xuan Lam, consisting of their Rangers, the Airborne Division, the Marine Corps 
Division, the 1st Infantry Division, and an Annored Brigade, to stage in various bases in 
the I CTZ in preparation for the push into Laos. All of this was expected to take place 
within approximately a week from its inception on 8 February. 161 

Phase II of the plan launched the multidivisional invasion into Laos with Route 9, 
the road connecting Khe Sanh in Vietnam to Tchepone in Laos, as the focal point. The 
Rangers, paratroopers, and Marines were to be inserted by (mainly American) helicopters 
to the north of Route 9 to establish mutually supporting fire support bases to protect the 
main road. The 1st Division would enter in a similar fashion to protect the Route from the 
south. Then, the Armor Brigade, task organized under the Airborne Division, would 
assault along Route 9, rebuilding the road in stride. After an operational pause at 
Objective A Luoi, they would continue to attack to Tchepone, linking up with a vertical 

161 Hinh, 35-36; Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 40-43. 


envelopment by a brigade from the Airborne Division. The plan estimated that the ARVN 
would seize and clear Tchepone by about 6 March. 162 

After the seizure of Tchepone, Phase III of the plan called for the ARVN to 
establish blocking positions and conduct search operations around the city. This was 
meant to disrupt the flow of materiel down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and to find and 
destroy any caches in the area. The planners expected this phase to last until the monsoon 
season began in the region in early May. 163 

The final phase of the operation laid out the withdrawal of the ARVN divisions 
from Laos, back into South Vietnam. The plan offered two options. The first essentially 
followed the same entry route. The second option consisted of an attack to the southeast 
and up through the Laotian Salient clearing the NVA’s so-called Base Area 611. Both 
options included plans to leave behind South Vietnamese Guerrilla Forces and other 
assets to continue harassing the enemy. 164 It should be noted that the plan failed to 
consider the logistical requirements of redeploying this massive effort out of the ICTZ 
and the Khe Sanh Area (Discussed below). 

The Logistical Plan 

The Operation Lam Son 719 logistics planreflected an unrealistic expectation of 
RVNAF logistics capability and capacity. Meanwhile, the logistical planning reflected 

162 Hinh, 36-37. 

163 Hinh, 37; Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 44-45. 

164 Hinh, 39-40; Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 44-45. 


the lack of synchronization between MACV and the USASCs in their efforts to 
Vietnamize operational level logistics. 

The plan called for the ARVN I Corps to receive its supplies through the US 
distribution pipelines manned by USASC, Da Nang for the first 10 days of the operation. 
Afterward, over the course of about nine days, the plan expected the ARVN 1st ALC to 
assume responsibility for ARVN logistical support. USASC Da Nang, under MG Arthur 
Sweeney’s command, planned to provide support using existing networks in the CTZ, but 
had to augment this with new bases due to the scale of the operation, and because the US 
no longer had a logistical footprint near enough to the Laotian border since the closure of 
the Khe Sanh airbase. 165 

Source : Nguyen Duy Hinh, Lam Son 719 (Washington, DC: US Army Center for 
Military History, 1979), 52. 

165 Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 48-49. 


In order to meet the demands of the operation, General Sweeney split the 26th 
General Support Group (GSG) into four separate elements. The actual 26th GSG 
headquarters remained in Phu Bai in control of the 2nd Maintenance Battalion and port 
operations at the nearby shallow-draft port of Tan My. They further established a 
“Forward” Headquarters with a Base Support Area in Quang Tri, including the 63rd 
Maintenance Battalion. Finally, they opened a FSA 26-1 and FSA 26-2 in Fire Support 
Base Vandergrift (Ca Lu) and Khe Sanh, respectively. 166 

General Sweeney recognized that his command lacked sufficient transportation 
assets to support an operation of this scale. On 7 February 1970, one week into the first 
phase of the operation and D-Day for the ARVN attack into Laos, Sweeney called 
Colonel Richard Morton, the commander of the 8th Transportation Group in USASC, 

Qui Nhon, to move his HQ to Phu Bai to manage the theater’s ground transportation 
provided by the 39th and 57th Transportation battalions, and C Company, 11th Motor 
Transportation Battalion. Morton described the chain of events in an oral history at the 
end of his career, stating, “the reason for me going up there was the motor transport 
situation and the highway net. [They were] coming apart.” 167 The resulting command 
arrangement placed Morton’s 8th Transportation Group under the 26th GSG and its 
commander, COL Emil Konopnicki. Interestingly, Konopnicki was junior to Morton. 
Sweeney chose this arrangement, and asked Morton to subordinate himself, because 

166 SODR, MG Arthur Sweeney, DTIC, CARL, 5. 

167 Oral History, Richard L. Morton, interviewed by Terry Hunter, 20 August 
1987, accessed from US Army Transportation Corps History, General Officer Interviews, 
accessed 20 May 2016,, 
14; Hinh, 177. 


Konopnicki had been involved in the operation for a long time, while Morton only 

learned of the invasion of Laos on the morning that ARVN crossed the border. 168 

Morton claimed in his oral history that one of the underlying problems in the Laos 
plan was how few people were involved in its planning, stating “There were so few 
people cut in on this, that it began rolling without every proper [sic] hands on the 
throttle.” He also said, “[The planning team] really never got down to the action officer 
level where any logistician action officer type could say, ‘Hey listen, you have half the 
number of truck companies. Your road network won’t support this. Your ports are too far 
south.’” 169 MACV and the JGS felt compelled to severely limit who would be involved 
in the planning of Lam Son 719 for operational security reasons. They hoped to surprise 
the NVA. MACV even embargoed the press from mentioning anything of the operation, 
or on the embargo, knowing that it would likely not sit well with the American public. 170 

Their need to retain operational security resulted in the unfortunate decision to 
exclude the 1st RVNAF ALC Commander, Colonel Mai Duy Thuong, or anyone from 
his organization, from planning the operation. The planning, therefore, fell upon the 
ARVN I Corps G4, who began developing their concept for support on 8 January. 171 The 

168 Oral History, Morton, 17. 

169 Ibid., 14-16. 

170 Sorley, Vietnam Chronicles, 528-529. 

171 Report, U.S. Army - After Action Report for Lam Son 719, XXIV Corps, 30 
January 1971 thru 6 April 1971 [Part 2 of 2], 14 May 1971, Folder 09, Box 05, Michael 
Sloniker Collection, TTUVVA, accessed 20 April 2016, 
virtualarchive/items.php?item=8850509001, Annex D, Appendix 10, 10-D-l. Hereafter, 


initial concept addressed the 1st RVNAF ALC’s responsibilities, but it can be no surprise 
that this led to the same lack of detailed planning that the Americans faced. As luck 
would have it, he and the Corps’ lead planner died in a helicopter crash days after the 
operation kicked off. 172 

The collective reminiscences to this key leader’s exemption reveals the confusion 
and frustration associated with this decision. General Nguyen Duy Hinh, took a measured 
tone in his Indochina Monograph: Lam Son 719, stating “Unfortunately, the ARVN 1st 
Area Logistics Command, which was responsible for logistical support for I Corps and 
[Military Region] 1, was excluded from the operational planning staff because of security 
and restrictive measures . . . But this tardiness was in no way an insurmountable 
obstacle.” 173 General Khuyen, then the Commander of the RVNAF CLC, took slightly 
more direct approach, writing “Strangely, the 1st ALC Commander, the man responsible 
for the success or failure of support activities on the ARVN side, was not among those 
who were authorized advance knowledge of the operation and a role in its planning . . . 
Because of the lack of advance planning, the 1st ALC was overwhelmed by the rush of 
last-minute activities.” 174 Khuyen went on to criticize I Corps for failing to provide an 
appropriate corps support command to coordinate efforts at Khe Sanh, and for 

172 Hinh, 69; Sorley, A Better War, 247. 

173 Hinh, 47-48. 

174 Khuyen, 200. 


complaining about having ready access to the 1st ALC Commander. He also pointed out 
that Colonel Mai Duy Thuong’s US advisor was also kept in the dark. 175 

The USASC Da Nang quarterly ORLL from April 1971 revealed how the 
Americans had a similar, measured, frustration with the secrecy of the planning. In its 
April, 1971, ORLL, the USASC Da Nang reported the limited distribution restrictions to 
the planning of Lam Son as a problem, stating “Even 1st Area Logistical Command 
which was directly involved in the operation was not included in the planning.” 176 
Furthennore, the report reflected the need for a joint logistical control center before the 
operation started in order to avert discontinuities between the USASC’s, and the RVNAF 
ALC’s disparate ammunition pipelines. 177 

The American and Vietnamese responses to the decision to exclude the 1st 
RVNAF ALC Commander from the Lam Son 719 planning shows that, while it did not 
have a significant impact on the operation, it had some detrimental effects. More 
importantly, hindsight shows us that MACV and the JGS failed to take advantage of what 
would be the last opportunity for mentorship on operational support to combat operations 
between major US and RVNAF logistical commands. This reinforces Heiser’s claim that 
MACV did not fully understand operational level logistics, and the potential role that the 
USASCs could have had in developing the RVNAF ALCs (chapter 3). 

175 Ibid., 201. 

176 ORLF, USASC Da Nang, quarterly period ending April 1971, DTIC, CARL, 

177 Ibid., 7. 


The RVNAF’s incursion into Laos did not go as planned largely because of the 
level of enemy resistance, but also because of poor leadership and logistical challenges. 
A general review of the operation provides context for understanding the logistical 
challenges, and the RVNAF and MACV responses to them. 

Figure 9. RVNAF Operational Logistics Units Supporting Lam Son 719 

Source: Nguyen Duy Hinh, Lam Son 719 (Washington, DC: US Army Center for 
Military History, 1979), 50. 

The first phase of the operation went fairly well, and appropriately set the 
conditions for the RVNAF to cross the border along Highway 9. The US XXIV Corps 
seized key terrain around Khe Sanh, and reactivated the airfield, although not without a 


costly delay (discussed below). Meanwhile, the RVNAF began building up their forces in 
Khe Sanh and Fire Support Base (FSB) Vandergrift under unexpectedly light resistance. 
By 7 February, US engineers made herculean achievements in building up base areas. US 
FSAs 26-1 and 26-2 were operational, and the armored and airborne ARVN forces coiled 
themselves in their attack positions to launch the invasion. 178 

As planned, the second phase of Operation Lam Son 719 commenced at 0700 
hours on 8 February 1971. By the end of the day, four mutually supporting FSBs manned 
by ARVN Rangers and paratroopers protected the northern flank of the 1st Armored 
Brigade, while another four FSBs manned by ARVN 1st Division soldiers protected the 
south. Within two days, lead elements of the armored column linked up with ARVN 
paratroopers at A Luoi along Route 9. Nonetheless, aspects of the first few days in Laos 
of the operation foretold the great difficulties that were to come. The US helicopters 
inserting the troops endured increasing antiaircraft fire throughout the area of operations, 
the ARVN immediately came into contact with NVA troops once they hit the ground, and 
the 1st Armored Brigade found that Route 9 west of the border was barely passable for 
tracked vehicles, and impossible for wheeled vehicles. 179 

In the remaining weeks of February, the fighting in Laos went from concern, to 
significant danger, to near disaster. As ARVN casualties increased around the FSBs, the 
ground assault ground to a halt at FSB A Luoi. The NVA responded aggressively to 
protect their vital supply bases, and ultimately, found support from the North Vietnamese 

178 Nolan, 75-83; Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 70-76. 

179 Hinh, 68-74; Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 77-81. 


political leadership to seek a decisive victory against their southern rivals. Using armored 
and infantry reinforcements from north and south of base area 604, the NVA poured into 
the ARVN FSBs. American air and artillery support from across the border narrowly 
averted disaster on numerous occasions through the application of tremendous firepower. 
Nonetheless, the weight of the NVA attacks in the north, bolstered by PT-76 and T-54 
tanks overran multiple ranger and paratrooper FSBs. The ARVN leaders failed to employ 
coherently their own annored elements in support of their beleaguered infantryman. 
Things looked bleak as February ended. 180 

With March came a new ARVN plan to airlift elements of the ARVN 1st Division 
into Tchepone in order to achieve the optics necessary to salvage political victories for 
the South Vietnamese and US Governments. The NVA kept its critical lines of 
communication and supply caches east and west of the town, in the forests and 
mountains. Nonetheless, beginning on 3 March, the ARVN and US helicopters executed 
a monumental air assault under unprecedented antiaircraft fire to landing zones southeast 
of the town to establish FSBs. By the morning of 9 March, the ARVN had secured 
Tchepone, having already begun to search for and destroy caches of weapons throughout 
the area. 181 

Having attained a significant enough milestone for the operation, General Lam 
presented President Thieu and the Chief of the JGS with a plan to withdraw the ARVN 
divisions from Laos immediately. General Abrams, reflecting the opinion of MACV and 

180 Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 87-115. 

181 Hinh, 89-99. 


the US National Security Council, objected, hoping instead that the ARVN would stay in 
the vicinity of Tchepone until the rainy season began in May. Notwithstanding the 
Americans’ advice, Thieu accepted Lam’s plan for a withdrawal that took the ARVN out 
of Laos along Route 914B and across the northern end of the NVA’s Support Base Area 
611 intent on destroying supply caches along the way. Lam’s plan had ARVN forces out 
of Laos by the end of the month, and called for elements of the ARVN 1st Infantry 
Division to rest and refit before another raid back into Base Area 611. Finally, the plan 
called for Luat’s Armored Brigade to reverse course back to South Vietnam along Route 
9. 182 

With this plan in hand, the ARVN set out to conduct what is considered among 
the most difficult of military operations—the phased delay operation. The South 
Vietnamese soldiers and marines had to conduct a series of movements southeast and 
east, leaving behind the protection of the FSBs they fought so hard to establish. The NVA 
were unrelenting as they recognized the ARVN units’ intent. Some units suffered heavily 
to allow for the withdrawal. For instance, the 4th Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 
sacrificed nearly every man when NVA pressure forced them to stand and fight as a rear 
guard for the remainder of the regiment at FSB Lolo. 183 Furthermore, the NVA ambushed 
and cut off a logistics convoy of the annored column, resulting in the loss of 18 vehicles, 
to include four M-41 tanks, and three artillery pieces towed by M-l 13 Armored 

182 Hinh, 98-104, 118. 

183 Ibid., 107-108. 


Personnel Carriers. The heavy losses encouraged President Thieu to tell General Lam to 
accelerate the withdrawal. 184 

By 25 March, all ARVN units but two reconnaissance teams had reentered South 
Vietnam and Operation Lam Son 719 ended. The fighting withdrawal proved difficult 
and costly, but the ARVN inflicted significant casualties on the NVA in turn. The ARVN 
I Corps suffered 7,683 casualties, 1,549 killed, over the two-month operation. The US 
XXIV Corps After Action Report estimated that the NVA suffered 19,360 human losses, 
14,565 of which they attributed to the RVNAF and air strikes. 185 

Throughout the operation, General Abrams remained optimistic of its value and 
potential effects on North Vietnam. On 20 February, after the attack had ground to a halt, 
but before the ARVN FSB 31 was overrun, Abrams said to Ellsworth Bunker, the US 
Ambassador to South Vietnam, that the operation gave them, “an opportunity to deal the 
enemy a blow which probably hasn’t existed before.” 186 On 25 March, in a briefing to 
renowned British counterinsurgency expert, Sir Robert Thompson, Abrams decried the 
negative press surrounding the operation, insisted that the mission continued to have 
widespread support among the rural population, and that they would bear fruits from the 
fight for a long time. 187 The fact that his feelings and reports did not match the optics of 
the operation did not endear him to President Nixon and Henry Kissinger. In fact, after 

184 Ibid., 113-114. 

185 Hinh, 129-131. 

186 Sorley, Vietnam Chronicles, 542. 

187 Ibid., 568-570. 


the ARVN began their seemingly premature withdrawal, they expressed their 
dissatisfaction by sending then-BG Alexander Haig, the Deputy Assistant to President 
Nixon for National Security Affairs, to assess the reality of the situation. 188 The 
diminished faith in Abrams meant that his objections to withdrawal plans based on their 
effect on his “One War” Concept were ignored. 

This review of the scope and scale of the plans and execution of Operation Lam 
Son 719 serves two purposes in the evaluation of the development of the RVNAF self- 
sufficiency at the operational level. First, it showed that such an operation demanded a 
departure from business as usual among the RVNAF ALCs and US ASCs. While both 
the Americans and South Vietnamese conducted operations throughout the country on a 
daily basis, this required a new level of planning and sophistication to perform. Secondly, 
unlike the Cambodian Incursion, the operational area’s distance from Saigon demanded 
that the US Anny and RVNAF establish a logistical network above the Corps level. This 
defined an operational-level GTSR framework that can serve as a separate measure of the 
RVNAF operational level reliance and self-sufficiency. 

Lam Son 719—Operational GTSR Cycle 

Isolating the operational level of logistics that supported the RVNAF invasion of 
Laos exposes the extent to which the RVNAF relied on the US for sustainment of major 
operations beyond the commonly known commodities of overwhelming airpower, and 
the great demands of the US Anny aviation elements. This is not to imply that if the 
RVNAF had a better logistics network, that they would have had more success in Lam 

188 Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 139-140. 


Son 719. On the contrary, reports and histories from both sides stated that the RVNAF 
logistical support was “adequate,” 189 and “effective,” 190 though, with some qualifications. 
This analysis purposes to provide a framework with which to evaluate an army’s true 
operational capability. 191 

Operational generation during Lam Son 719, like during the Cambodian 
Incursion, did not constitute a major factor since the RVNAF were operating largely 
within their strategic GTSR framework already. However, the fact that the logistical plan 
called for the US to provide all support to the RVNAF for the first ten days of the 
operation exposed a shortcoming in the agility of the latter’s local procurement. While 
general sustainment items such as gasoline and ammunition can be cross-leveled among 
annies, particularly common-user items, it is different when dealing with major end 
items, categorized as “Class VII” in the US, since they require higher levels of 
accountability. The USASC Da Nang ORLL reported that since ARVN was not normally 
a customer under the USASC, the procedures for transferring major end items 
complicated and delayed receipt of the items. The USASC Da Nang experienced delays 
in transferring equipment because of simultaneous requirements to seek approval by the 
MACV J-4, and for release by a directive generated from the US Inventory Control 

189 US XXIV Corps AAR, 10-D-l. 

190 Khuyen, 208. 

191 Refer to chapter 1 to discriminate the GTSR cycles at the tactical, operational, 
and strategic levels. 


Center, Vietnam. 192 While this is just as much an indictment on the Americans, it 
revealed RVNAF dependency. 

The most glaring example of the RVNAF’s dependence on the US in the 
operational GTSR cycle is in the “Transport” phase, which includes the establishment of, 
operation along, and clearance of bases and lines of communication toward points where 
supplies can be handed off to tactical units, in this case, below the corps level. This 
dependence is most clearly evidenced in their shortcomings in the management of theater 
distribution assets; in receiving, processing, and clearing ports; and in their ability to 
clear, develop, and maintain main supply routes for a major operation. Where possible, 
the Americans continued to assist with general success, though it proved calamitous 
when they could not. 

Key bases and lines of communications that already existed in the RVNAF 
Military Region I made up the distribution network that supported the invasion of Laos, 
along with some additions to support the large operation. The bases included different 
types of ports. The primary seaport was the deep draft port of Da Nang, which could then 
send supplies along the coast to the shallow draft ports of Tan My and Dong Ha. After 
arrival and clearance from the ports, truck units carried supplies along Route 1 and onto 
Route 9 to depots and support areas at Phu Bai, and Quang Tri, on their way to Khe Sanh. 
From there, the tactical-level support commands organic to the divisions could receive 
and distribute the supplies. Alternatively, supplies could be landed directly at Khe Sanh 

192 ORLL, USASC Da Nang, quarterly period ending April 1971, DTIC, CARL, 

6 . 


by fixed wing airplanes (primarily C-130s), or by helicopter flying from any of the major 

support areas in the country. 193 

The reports on the ARVN’s contribution to the transportation network make it 
hard to discern how effective they truly were. The US XXIV Corps After Action Report 
stated, “The [Main Supply Route] (QL 9) between Khe Sanh and Vandergrift was 
identified as a potential problem area . . . The road capacity could not by itself achieve 
the computed daily requirement of 1,250 tons (US Forces only). Consequently, the 
importance of the airfield was identified.” 194 The US and RVNAF delivered 9,400 and 
1,600 short tons, respectively, by C-130 flights into Khe Sanh during the operation to 
account for this limitation. The logisticians faced challenges early in the operation 
because US engineers could not rehabilitate the airfield fully until 14 February. 195 
Regardless of the delay, the airport’s capacity was insufficient to supply such a large 
operation. These vast quantities of supplies required surface transit from Da Nang to the 
forward supply areas. 

The US XXIV Corps report addressed the daily requirements, stating that the 
ARVN commonly surpassed their goal of 200 trucks a day, while the US generally fell 
short of their 200 truck requirement until March. 196 The 400 truck per day requirement 
only accounted for the final leg from Ca Lu to Khe Sanh. Apart from the convoys on this 

193 Khuyen, 204-207. 

194 US XXIV Corps AAR, D-7. 

195 Khuyen, 206-207. 

196 US XXIV Corps AAR, D-7. 


leg, the ARVN also provided shuttle convoys between the rearward bases. Khuyen 
accounts for this section of the transportation phase, describing how ARVN medium 
truck companies operated between Da Nang, Hue, and Quang Tri. 197 He goes on to 
describe the general timeline for a Quang Tri—Khe Sanh convoy as departing Quang Tri 
at 0500 hours, arriving at Khe Sanh for offloading at 1300, then departing again at 1600 
hours to arrive back in Quang Tri at 2100 hours. 198 It seems that the RVNAF ALC I 
provided sufficient truck capacity for the operation, but they had an advantage as the 
“supported” force in some of the details relating to convoys. 

The American logisticians complained about the fact that the ARVN used the plan 
to reserve for themselves the daylight hours along these supply routes. Despite entreaties 
to modify the times to give the Americans more daylight, the American convoys had to 
contend with the inherent dangers of transiting these contested areas at night. 199 Had the 
USASC and RVNAF ALC possessed a better relationship in the years prior to this 
operation, and had the opportunity to address this in the planning phases, perhaps they 
could have reached a more amicable arrangement. 

Students of military logistics know that trucks and planes are not ideal platfonns 
for the large scale distribution of supplies. Efficiency will generally call for platforms 

197 The existence of these medium truck companies does not match the graphics 
of support units provided by Khuyen (198) and Hinh (50). Both depict only four light 
truck companies between Khe Sanh, Quang Tri and Phu Bai. It seems clear that Khuyen 
means to reference ARVN medium truck companies, but it is possible that he is referring 
to Americans. 

198 Khuyen, 206. 

199 Nolan, 220. 


with larger capacities over large stretches of the supply line, such a railroads and barges. 
The logisticians supporting Lam Son 719 recognized that shallow draft ports allowed for 
coastal shipping to deliver mass quantities of supplies closer to their objective, thereby 
reducing the need for trucks. Over 74,000 short tons of supplies were offloaded at Tan 
My and at Dong Ha. While ARVN proved capable of providing trucks in support of the 
operation, they could not claim the same for watercraft, contributing only two Landing 
Ship Tanks, a handful of “Landing Craft Mechanized” boats. Therefore, US ships 
transported more than 70 percent of ARVN cargo that landed at Tan My, and all of the 
18,000 short tons that landed at Dong Ha. 200 Transporting supplies by ship was not just 
more efficient, but also put up to 100 miles (the shoreline distance between Da Nang and 
Dong Ba) of the supply line on an uncontested route. This illustrates how an investigation 
of the upper echelons of the supply system can expose the true level of dependence of a 
client military. 

Martin Van Creveld’s seminal work Supplying War reminds that it is not enough 
to merely transport supplies, but in fact, the most difficult aspects of the transport phase 
are clearing, processing, and transferring the equipment when they arrive at each node. 201 
The RVNAF relied heavily on the Americans to do much of this at most points, and 

200 Khuyen, 207. A note within a staffing document concerning the Logistics 
section of the 1973 MACV Command History shows that MACV attempted to remedy 
this a year later with the transfer of utility landing craft to Da Nang, and barges generally 
in mid-1972. See “Disposition Form and Inclosures, Logistics Directorate: Plans and 
Programs Division” - re: MACDL Command History - Record of MACV Part 1, 8 
February 1973, Folder 0623, Box 0027, TTUVVA, accessed 29 April 2016, 15800270635. 

201 See Van Creveld, Chapters 3 and 4. 


exclusively at the sea and air ports. The 5th Transportation Command (Terminal) 
oversaw all of the port clearance operations at the sea ports. This included receiving 
supplies from units like the 329th Heavy Boat Transportation Company, based out of Da 
Nang, then transferring the materiel to the aforementioned truck companies. 202 

Even the Americans struggled with the monumental tasks associated with clearing 
and transferring the supplies. Specifically, they found that they lacked sufficient forklifts 
to efficiently lift the supplies off of the many trucks that made it to the FSAs. Colonel 
Morton provided an account for Nolan’s Into Laos that pointed out that unlike truck 
drivers, forklifts require skilled operators, and their own line of repair parts. Because of 
the shortage of forklifts, the heavier trucks stacked up at their destinations, sometimes 
waiting for days to be unloaded. 203 This included a dangerous situation where “almost 
every 15 ton semi trailer in Vietnam” was waiting to be unloaded at one of the forward 
ammunition supply points. 204 The American logisticians went to great lengths to address 
these problems. The ARVN simply lacked the capacity to execute these operational level 
logistics tasks. 

The final aspect of the transportation phase in Operation Lam Son 719 that 
exposed RVNAF shortcomings in this higher echelon of logistics was related to their 
inability to establish, develop, and maintain a main supply route. Very few supply 
convoys traveled west out of Khe Sanh and across the Laotian border because of the poor 

202 Stanton, 222, 228. 

203 Nolan, 221-222. 

204 Oral History, Morton, 16. 


quality of Route 9. Even though the Armored Brigade had the ARVN 101st Engineer 
Battalion under their operational control, the engineers were incapable of improving 
Route 9 to allow wheeled traffic. Poor weather during the first days of the operation 
exacerbated this problem. Regardless of this shortcoming, the plan for Lam Son 719 
assumed that only the Armored Column would have been supplied by ground 
transportation, while all of the other units would receive their supplies by helicopters 
flown by Americans. 205 This vital shortcoming of the RVNAF beyond where they could 
call on the Americans proved to have cascading effects with respect the redeployment 
from the theater, to be discussed below. 

According to the GTSR cycle at the operational level, after the theater level 
transportation assets get the soldiers and materiel to weigh stations and FSAs, they must 
then be sustained. The GTSR discussion in chapter 1 laid out how the tactical level GTSR 
cycle emerges in this operational phase, just as the operational-level GTSR emerged in 
the strategic sustain phase. However, a military force must have theater-level 
organizations that can perform supply functions, such as warehousing, ammunition 
supply points, commodity yards, and upper-echelon maintenance capability. The 
logisticians must ensure that the organization’s capacity is commensurate with the 
complexity of the operation, and they must synchronize their efforts to optimize 
efficiency and effectiveness. 

The RVNAF logistics network, despite how hasty it came together, seems to have 
provided sufficient capability and capacity to support the corps-level operation into Laos, 

205 Hinh, 56, 68. 


but lacked the coordination and synchronization needed for a combined arms ainnobile, 
annored operation. In addition, the shortcomings in operational-level redeployment 
(discussed below) meant that many maintenance demands and considerations went 

The 1st RVNAF ALC proved capable of deploying the appropriate functional 
units to adjust from their standard configuration in support of the operation. This included 
positioning the 311th POL Field Depot and the 71st Medical Company at Quang Tri, and 
the 512th Ammunition Company to manage a forward ammunition supply point at Khe 
Sanh. Additionally, they deployed the 112th Quartermaster Field Depot and 811th 
Ordnance Direct Support Company at Phu Bai that subsequently deployed detachments 
to Khe Sanh. 206 

Khuyen identified that despite their ability to field an appropriate array of separate 
supply and service support elements, the 1st RVNAF ALC lacked the capacity to field 
FSAs with general support capability, such as the 26th GSG’s FSA 26-1 and FSA 26-2. 
This limited their coordination capability forcing the RVNAF ALC Commander Colonel 
Thuong to personally help coordinate and expedite in numerous places. The Americans 
took measures to assist, through coordination centers and by collocating depots. 
Nonetheless, the ARVN I Corps Commander complained about his inability to get a hold 
of his RVNAF ALC Commander. 207 

206 Khuyen, 198-199. 

207 Ibid., 201, 209. 


The supply elements also had their fair share of problems that demonstrated some 
immaturity at operational level logistics. The USASC Da Nang ORLL covering Lam Son 
719 reflected that the 1st RVNAF ALC and USASC Da Nang had different pipelines, 
stockage schemes, and resupply criteria with respect to ammunition. 208 This referred to 
General Lam’s unexpected demand to have on hand 15 days of supply, as opposed to 
seven, of 105 mm and 155 mm ammunition, and caused the transportation woes 
described by Colonel Morton (see above). 209 In addition, the ARVN I Corps’ expected 
ammunition supply rate for these calibers tripled the US rate for 105 nun and nearly 
doubled the US rate for 155 mm. 210 The ARVN’s inordinate amount of ammunition 
proved lethal during the operation when on 18 February, a NVA sapper attack destroyed 
700 tons of ammunition at Ammunition Supply Point 101. 211 After a similar incident on 8 
March that killed one soldier, wounded three, and destroyed 1,600 mortar rounds and 
over 391,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, Abrams decided to send a note to the 
Chief of the RVNAF JGS reviewing the losses sustained over the previous month due to 
poor ammunition storage. 212 This was among a number of the issues that presented 
challenges for the RVNAF logisticians as they transitioned to the redeployment phase. 

208 ORLL, USASC Da Nang, quarterly period ending April 1971, DTIC, CARL, 

209 Khuyen, 203. 

210 US XXIV Corps AAR, 10-D-2. 

211 US XXIV Corps AAR, 3-D-1; Nolan, 222. 

212 Sorley, Vietnam Chronicles, 558. 


Operational level redeployment in the GTSR cycle consists of two major 
components; the evacuation from the battlefield of damaged and destroyed materiel (to 
include wounded and killed soldiers), and the retrograde of soldiers and materiel that 
were built up in support of major operations. The RVNAF performed abysmally at the 
former, but relatively well at the latter. Their reliance on the US persisted. As discussed 
above, though, the Lam Son 719 example included a fiercely contested withdrawal all the 
way to the Vietnamese-Laotian border. 

Among the most enduring images of the operation, and the war, related directly to 
this phase of the GTSR cycle. In multiple instances, journalists embedded with the 
ARVN caught and published pictures of South Vietnamese soldiers clinging to the skids 
of American helicopters as they lifted out of landing zones throughout the area of 
operations. 213 The helicopters in these cases and throughout the operation served as the 
only means of evacuating wounded and dead soldiers from the battlefield. After landing 
to drop supplies, the men on the ground would load as many casualties as possible until 
the antiaircraft fire forced them to leave. 

The initial prohibition against evacuating killed ARVN soldiers by helicopters 
created some problems according to the XXIV Corps AAR. But the fact that aerial 
evacuation became the sole means of evacuating those bodies, they adjusted. The AAR 
attributed some of these problems to a natural aversion of the South Vietnamese to handle 
dead bodies. 214 

213 Willbanks, A Raid Too Far, 98-99. 

214 US XXIV Corps AAR, 10-D-2. 


Their performance with respect to evacuating equipment proved equally 
deplorable. The tale of ARVN’s losses in vehicles is staggering. These include: 87 Ml 13 
Annored Personnel Carriers, 54 M41 tanks, 70 105 mm Howitzers, 17 D7 Bulldozers, 
and 139 2-1/2 Ton Trucks. 215 The numbers from the AAR conflict with what Abrams 
received on 23 March. The briefer told Abrams that an advisor personally counted at the 
border that the ARVN went in with 62 tanks and came out with 35. 216 In A Better War, 
Sorley made a disturbing claim that most of these losses were not due to heavy combat, 
but that ARVN units simply abandoned them when they broke down or ran out of gas. 217 
Khyen later wrote that the vehicle were left behind, “due to tactical expediency, rough 
terrain, and the lack of evacuation resources.” 218 Apart from the indictment on tactical 
sustainment, this reflects the lack of operational redeployment in the ARVN 

The other component of redeployment phase of the operational level GTSR cycle 
is the retrograde from the battlefield of the men and equipment that have been built up for 
a large operation. This process is delicate, as it often must begin while units continue to 
conduct combat operations. While it is best to have multiple days of supply on hand 
while units are in contact, logisticians prefer to expend those days of supply as the 
operation comes to a close. Meanwhile combat units will have to account for equipment 

215 Ibid., 6-D-l. 

216 Sorley, Vietnam Chronicles, 566. 

217 Sorley, A Better War, 260. 

218 Khuyen, 208. 


and turn in supplies in such a way to allow logisticians to transport the materiel out 
efficiently and effectively. 

In the case of Lam Son 719, two complimentary factors influenced this aspect 
redeployment phase; the failure to properly plan for the retrograde, and the unexpected 
acceleration by General Lam to conclude the operation. The US XXIV Corps AAR 
stated, “One of the most serious and overlooked areas during [the withdrawal] phase was 
the retrograde and backhaul of equipment. A letter of instruction covering the retrograde 
operations was published by [USASC Da Nang] on 11 March. It should have been part of 
the original plan.” 219 While significant coordinated efforts resulted in the eventual 
successful retrograde of the equipment, they experienced confusion and some 
inefficiencies. 220 In fact, the 1st RVNAF ALC only learned of Lam’s decision to curtail 
the operation through American channels. 221 In one case, a US advisor had to convince 
his ARVN advisees to retrieve 170 truckloads of equipment from an abandoned base. 222 

The ARVN logisticians seem to have taken on a fair share of the transportation 
requirement during the retrograde. Traffic monitors reported that the ARVN executed 
621 convoys with 22,858 vehicles along Route 9 during the withdrawal phase, with the 
last element leaving Khe Sanh on 9 April. 223 It can be assumed though that, like in the 

219 US XXIV Corps AAR, D-6. 

220 Ibid., D-4, D-6. 

221 Khuyen, 208. 

222 Clarke, 475. 

223 Khuyen, 208; US XXIV Corps AAR, D-8. 


transport phase, the Americans had to assume much of the coordination and management 
of this effort. The US XXIV Corps AAR gives credit for coordination and “an 
outstanding effort by the 26th GSG.” 224 

This review of the RVNAF’s operational level GTSR cycle demonstrates the 
extent to which they relied on the Americans for the execution of upper echelon logistics 
in support of a major combat operation. Operation Lam Son 719 presented a very 
difficult challenge for the fledgling army and its logistics infrastructure. It included 
complex combined arms delivered in tough terrain against a detennined enemy. While 
they were capable of executing some tasks in the GTSR cycle at this level, they struggled 
to manage and synchronize each phase. 


The planning and execution of Operation Lam Son 719 revealed MACV’s 
persistence in missing opportunities to develop the RVNAF’s operational level logistics, 
and the extent to which the RVNAF relied on the Americans to perform these critical 
capabilities. The decisions related to operational security during planning of the 
operations indicated that MACV misunderstood or underestimated the role of the 1st 
RVNAF ALC in supporting the operation. Furthermore, it implied that despite what 
should have been 18 months of close coordination through the CLIP, CLOP, and 
BUDDY Project, the RVNAF’s operational level logistics infrastructure still proved 
adolescent. The review of their reliance on the Americans during the execution of Lam 
Son 719 provides a more nuanced understanding of the state of RVNAF self-sufficiency. 

224 US XXIV Corps AAR, D-4. 


The US and GVN leaders did not expect that the RVNAF to be self-sufficient at 
this time. The year 1973 remained their goal for this realization. Nonetheless, the 
coordinated, often ad hoc, efforts to support this operation do not reflect well on the 
effectiveness of the MACV plans to improve the RVNAF logistics infrastructure writ 
large. While the operation provided the RVNAF logisticians with invaluable experience 
in supporting dynamic large-scale operations, the costs may have outweighed the 

The political outcome of the operation restricted the extent to which the plans and 
programs discussed in chapter 3 would carry forward. President Nixon used the best 
aspects of the operation to claim his Vietnamization program a success, and accelerated 
his withdrawal timelines. In turn, the USASCs increasingly diverted their attention to the 
very difficult task of supporting the strategic redeployment phase of the US GTSR cycle. 
While the greatest test of the Vietnamization policy would come the following year with 
the NVA Easter Offensive, the state of RVNAF operational level logistics in the first 
months of 1971 revealed the difficulty of the quest toward self-sufficiency, and the 
consequences of MACV’s late start at addressing these capabilities. 




You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even 
wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics. That can be 
demonstrated from any number of different situations. Your main problem will be 
to make your account readable and interesting both to soldiers and laymen. 

— General Dwight D. Eisenhower, as quoted in For Want of a Nail 

On 12 August 1969, US Defense Secretary Laird approved the plan for the 
expansion, improvement, and modernization of the RVNAF with a force structure by the 
end of fiscal year 1971 numbering 992,837 men. Multiple plans that sought to address the 
new expectation for the RVNAF to face both internal and external threats as the US 
began withdrawing from the country influenced Laird’s decision. American and South 
Vietnamese leaders understood the challenges associated with helping the RVNAF 
achieve self-sufficiency, and by 1970, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff knew that their 
counterparts still had a long way to go. 225 This work explained how, and evaluated how 
well, MACV and the RVNAF approached this goal. The conclusions from this research 
shed more light on the challenges of the Vietnamization policy and its implementation, 
provide a new framework that can aid in thinking about military logistics generally, and 
portray themes with contemporary value related to warfare and military affairs. 

While the Americans developed a multi-faceted plan to Vietnamize operational 
level logistics, they did a poor job implementing the concept from 1968-1971. This was 

225 Willard Webb, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Ear in Vietnam: 1969-1970 
(Washington, DC: Office of Joint History Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, 2002), 126-129. 


despite encouraging efforts by the 1st Log Qnd throughout the country. The lack of 
synchronization between MACV and its major logistical commands, and their failure to 
recognize the natural potential in leveraging logistical units resulted in an over-reliant 
RVNAF to defeat the NVA and the VC. Some argued that Operation Lam Son 719 
indicated a certain level of readiness. When analyzed through the lens of the GTSR cycle, 
these perceptions proved to be superficial. 

While this aspect of Vietnamization did not go well, the conditions in which the 
logisticians and advisors operated complicated the overall effort. The American logistical 
system still reeled from the early decisions to surge in combat troops early, while 
assuming risk in the logistical organization. 226 General Joseph Heiser, Jr., received a 
mandate to fix the system during his tenure with the 1st Log Cmd. The 1st Log Cmd, a 
source of great advisory potential, fell under USARV. This led to organizational friction. 
Finally, the demands of the withdrawal timeline had two major consequences. Tough 
decisions about which troops should be sent home to meet troop reduction levels led to 
the disestablishment of the critical 1st Log Cmd Headquarters just when its subsequent 
commanders could have provided command influence to continue Heiser’s programs. 
Furthermore, the removal of US equipment and the painful process of transferring 
equipment to the RVNAF consumed the logisticians’ attention, thereby relegating their 
potential to achieve effective Vietnamization of the RVNAF operational-level logistical 
capability to a low priority. 

226 Westmoreland, 185-188. 


Notwithstanding the challenges inherent in the theater, and some initial resistance, 
MACV eventually produced plans aimed at improving the RVNAF logistics systems at 
all levels. Each had some potential but myriad problems plagued the process. The CLOP 
took on some short term tasks, and more importantly, established a combined reporting 
mechanism to evaluate progress. The minutes of their meetings presented in chapter 3, 
though, imply questionable commitment between the advisors and their advisees, 
particularly by the leaders’ comments on the lack of coherent measures of effectiveness. 

The CLIP seems to have had a more comprehensive approach to improving the 
RVNAF logistical capability, with tasks spread across the services, subordinate tasks, and 
realistic deadlines. On its surface, the existence of a short-term and a long-term plan 
implies that MACV possessed a coherent collection of plans. A closer review, however, 
exposes a lack of synchronization in the Master Plan. Neither plan referred to the other, 
and the more comprehensive CLIP fell strangely subordinate to the CLOP in the 
reporting regimen. It seems that the MACV-J4 lacked sufficient personnel to influence 
progress effectively. 

Unfortunately, the CLOP and CLIP failed to take advantage of the natural 
potential in the US Army’s theater logistics command for providing training to improve 
the RVNAF’s logistical system, particularly with a strong, forward-looking leader such 
as LTG Joseph Heiser. The 1st Log Cmd had been perfonning OJT for civilians and 
RVNAF soldiers alike for years. Theater logistics organizations exist in locations that 
inspire connections as they operate ports, coordinate convoys, and plan trains. Each of the 
subordinate commands had for years developed programs to improve relations with 
civilians in their neighborhood, to include dealing with local politics on occasion. 


General Heiser proved how the right individual with the right experience can 
make a dramatic impact. His prescience and proactive approach presented an opportunity 
to cultivate a program that, if properly funded and supported with command emphasis, 
could have resulted in a more capable RVNAF logistics network for the tests that would 
come from 1971. Despite bureaucratic friction, he created a program that proved to be a 
talking point for to senior commanders, and to the US Congress. While this is not to say 
that unreserved support for Hesier’s Project Buddy would have meant victory, it should 
be considered among critical opportunities missed in the US Anny’s efforts to establish a 
self-sufficient RVNAF capable of defending itself from internal and external threats. 

Operation Lam Son 719 demonstrated the lack of synchronization in MACV’s 
planning, and its apparent misunderstanding of the role of the operational logistical 
commands. While numerous histories of the operation showed the extent to which the 
RVNAF relied on the Americans for airpower, firepower, mobility, and tactical resupply, 
the analysis of their operational level logistics using the GTSR cycle in chapter 4 exposed 
the depths of this reliance in the first months of 1971. 

Areas for Further Research 

This study leaves much yet to be discovered both with the question at hand and as 
it applies to a larger picture. While the MACV records have largely been digitized and 
made readily available, the relation between MACV and the 1st Log Cmd as they 
wrestled this problem could be better understood with a deeper analysis of the key 
commands’ primary sources. Jeffrey Clarke, in Advice and Support: The Final Years, 


1965-1973, indicates such files exist in the Southeast Asia Branch of the Center for 
Military History, and at the Washington National Records Center in Crystal City. 227 

While Operational Lam Son 719 represented a significant milestone to evaluate of 
operational level logistics, the years following provide another opportunity for research. 
While the elements of the USASCs redirected their attention almost exclusively on 
withdrawing the men and materiel from the country, MACV continued its efforts to 
improve the RVNAF system. A GTSR cycle analysis of the RVNAF in their reaction to 
the NVA’s 1972 Easter Offensive and in the final campaign would be useful. This study 
should certainly include Khuyen’s monograph, the 1972 Report to Congress on 
“Logistics Aspects of Vietnamization—1969-72,” and any other available primary 

Finally, this study provides only partial insight into the logistics problems 
associated with the Vietnam War. While General Heiser’s contribution to the Vietnam 
Studies Monograph Series in the years immediately following the war provides 
tremendous understanding of this monumental challenge, the widespread and availability 
and declassification of the MACV records and surviving veterans offer an incredible 
resource for historians in the midst of the 50th Anniversary of America’s involvement. 
The definitive history of military logistics in the Vietnam War has yet to be written. 

227 Clarke, 430n. 

228 Comptroller General of the United States, “Logistic Aspects of 
V ietnamization— 1969-72,” 1972. 


Contemporary Value 

This study provides contemporary value in two major ways. Chapter 4 proved that 
the GTSR Cycle is a viable construct for thinking academically and critically about 
military logistics. While chapter 4 addressed mainly the RVNAF’s operational level 
logistics in one major operation, the construct can further serve to help think about the 
challenges of generating, transporting, sustaining, and redeploying troops and materiel, at 
the tactical and strategic level in any conflict. This presents options for courses that wish 
to teach the art and science of logistics in warfare by providing a common framework 
with which to analyze battles, campaigns, and wars throughout military history. 

In addition, the study should help militaries that conduct Security Force 
Assistance (SFA) activities, particularly for those hose nations in the midst of a civil war 
or insurgency, evaluate their target audience’s true capabilities. US Joint Doctrine defines 
SFA as the Defense Department’s “contribution to a unified action effort to support and 
augment the development of the capacity and capability of foreign security forces and 
their supporting institutions to facilitate the achievement of specific objectives shared by 
the US Government.” 229 The doctrine provides a framework for assessing security force 
assistance and seven imperatives. The comprehensive framework for assessment ensures 
that the advising force considers the organization, training, equipping, rebuilding and 
building, and advice and assistance to the host nation. The penultimate imperative in the 

229 US Department of Defense, Foreign Internal Defense (Washington, DC: US 
Joint Staff, 12 July 2010), 1-16. 


doctrine is “Sustain the Effort,” which includes sustainment of the support effort, and the 
host nation’s ability to reach self-sufficiency. 230 

Chapters 2 and 3 provide some lessons that may aid US forces engaged in SFA. 
Chapter 2 describe how the Americans helped the Vietnamese develop the framework 
with which they would generate, transport, sustain, and redeploy their military power 
beyond that which the French established under the aegis of colonialism. Chapter 3 lays 
out MACV’s approach to improving the logistical capability of the Vietnamese with 
some examples of tasks, and reporting and tracking mechanisms. These could provide a 
starting point for those charged with establishing a way ahead for host nation militaries 
seeking military self-sufficiency. 

The Vietnam War continues to provide abundant lessons about war, warfare, and 
those who fight. The terrain, weather, enemy, and the war’s protracted character 
demanded much of those who sustained the conflict. Thorough analysis of the sustainers’ 
challenges reveals the art and science of logistics in war, beholden to the influences of 
leadership, planning, morale, and will, as much as to formulae and capacity calculations, 
headers of all branches in the US Anny must consider the tyranny of logistics if they 
want to leverage its benefits in pursuit of objectives, and avoid the pitfalls that can very 
well lead to failure and defeat. 

230 Ibid., VI-32-VI-33. 




r % 




SUBJECT: Logistics Offensive 

2 2 JUL 1969 


1. The United States Government has invested extensively in laproving 
the Combat Capability of KVNAF. We must now concentrate our efforts 

on inproving HVNAF logistics support to complement the increased combat 

2. The MACV staff in conjunction with the RVNAF JGS hae developed the 
attached Combined logistics Offensive Plan to initiate the actions 
necessary to improve logistics support. To achieve the deelred results 
it is necessary that cosmanders and advisors at all echelons demonstrate 
a positive and determined attitude toward logistics improvement. Aggres¬ 
sive execution, first hand knowledge of the plan by US advisors, and a 
combined staff capability to measure progress will assure the success of 
the Logistics Offensive. 

3. The plan has been approved by both headquarters for execution. How¬ 
ever, formal signing of the plan is being deferred while arrangements 
for dissemination of information pertaining to the launching of the log¬ 
istics offensive are being coordinated. To preclude delay in implement¬ 
ing the plan, all echelons of the US Advisory Effort are to lmaedlately 
initiate those tasks which are a US responsibility. 

1 Incl 




.ted States Any 


: f 

ma m s r a ma 

Thi# lnclocur* contain* 121 aarrle* problca*. Individual problaa sheet* 
were written bacad upon In pit fra* field advisory clcacnt*. Torty-thr** 
par cant of th* total ITOr problaa* apply to two or nor* service*. 

That a coaaon problaa* «r* identified by aarrlca on th* following Index 
of Comoo Problaa*. 

N unbare an th* chart rapraaeot • coaaon problaa appUcabl* to too or 
aor* aarvlcaa. Tha*« mabari further ehow whether or not • Individual 
problca ah eat ha* bean praparad for that aonrle*. 

Coaaon problaa* that axlit In a aarrlca for which no problaa cheat mi 
prepared by that service ar* Indicated with aa X. In thla eaaa, the 
nuaber appearing In a a Is ter ocrrlee eolunn indicate* th* applicable 
problca cheat which con be used a* a guide to foraulatc specific 
problaa* and eorraetlv* action. 

Th* Index of Coaaon Problca* 1* followed by a llat of Caucec of Problca* 
which arc uced on the service spread sheet*. Th* separate Amy, Mavy 
and Air Pore* sections hav* separate Problaa Spread Shasta which identify 
th* cause of th* problaa and In th* Amy'* ess* th* lavel affected within 
th* logistic structure. 


imx or gag nomwa 

wn tw n±£ a£l 





























5 W 8 U 8 T 


ntOBLQlS TOM* TO ALL sari css 
PBCELQC 5 com* TO ASTI AS) not 



ft. tb* Bolivian ■-pjlj r*lo* 4ESS'*) 





sn at mf octri. 



\S. HFI Imi Hi 41*1 rib-, t* imIUu 
■ vrwln in-ufs-r^'-lnn laftraUw. 



5f. hi!'El CBftEfeBlM art bLn UlM U 





*.ffc-rl Jit-2 b*»*FT* vTllti. 



4£, TS( ■.-Uir-rtM.Vlna *b4 

•‘7-.1 j*rn 1 iH tj dll Lb b4 






4-1. 1b* TWrTall-r# bLlLBiuci- I'ri-.p-BB 









h*« M-t Hr: HiWB*4 j 




IV* £•*[&>* H-wi* ud Uijiplj 



■■pp’.:™.hli to- tool liflii t^iil or* toa 





ife}. Sliort **ppH-i i-ialti Act *oa Inm 




*±Ocfh ■IeLbPxi flotl OHot*. 


_ 1* ~ 

it. B»cllj» t-r fHimitl 

*r*cr*> 1* r,-.t *rr*>-“jT*, 

(rf-. kM^lrad HlllMUH CJL f* il 1J ll 









bill ttjeli 1* Kt know. 

14, ktnuP 4o** wl p?***«* tW t ■ r*Jri lltr 






10 pram* nlld LV1 llHlf nrt*lT had 
(allbHtlae m i*iLlx.l*e.*siB t+it 






E - JiWiC 
i - Ti r*«1 ~i 1 Stj-riea 
1 - C+rjo-HLC 
i - JXTT Pnlt 

1 * WfTT 



PROBLEM: Required maintenance capacity at base depot! la not 
known. Maintenance and Improvement of facilities at the 80th «B£> 
have been severely Halted for several years. The resultant deterior¬ 
ation of buildings and utilities has adversely affected vorking con¬ 
ditions and backlog of 212 aejor engineer terms presently exists at 
the 40th BD. This total has been on the Increase. Recently, a US 
quick reaction team of 13 people vea furnished by USAMC to assist the 
depot. With the service of this team the backlog has declined slightly. 

S0UJTI0H ; Determine required maintenance capability and develop a 
master plan for upgrade of facilities and equipment. JGS consider 
approval of 80th ORBD request for construction and maintenance projects. 
JGS/CLC/OCE should reviov and be prepared to support the recommendation 
of the current depot master planning vhlch la underway at the 40th EBD. 
Consideration of ultimate workload will determine facilities required. 


1. High level approval for construction and maintenance projects 
for the 80th ORBD. 

Principal Action Agency: JGS/CLC Completion Date: 1 October 1969 

2. JGS support recommendations of master planning group soon to 
be forthcoming from 40th £BD and expand program to all maintenance 

Principal Action Agency: JGS/CLC Completion Date: 1 December 1969 







PROBLEM S RVNAF does not possess the capability to provide valid and 
tlnely repair and calibration of maintenance test equipment. "A" 
type calibration Is now provided by the OS Army from Okinawa. Type 
*C» calibration is almost completely neglected or arranged by Indivi¬ 
dual advisors. A very limited capability exists. Howevor, consider¬ 
able Improvement is necessary In the equipment area and the training 
of personnel. 

SOLOTION i Develop an effective calibration system within RVNAF. 

1. Allocate equipment and train personnel within the RVNAF to 
provide an organic "C* calibration capability at division level and 
at the ALCs. 

Principal Action Agencys JGS/CLC Completion Dates 1 December 1969 

2. Program the formation of snobile calibration teams to provide 
"A" calibration capability. 

Principal Action Agencys JGS/CLC Completion Dates 1 March 1970 

In coordination withs MACMA 


Source : MACV Plan, Logistics: Logistics Advisory Directorate - Combined Logistics 
Offensive - Record of MACV Part 1, 22 July 1969, Folder 0423, Box 0026, TTUVVA, 
accessed 17 May 2016, 
item=F015800260423, Cover letter, i-ii, A-l-7, A-l-83, A-l-84. 





Project No. 8-1 

Project Title: Transportation Training Improvement (OJT with U.S. Units) 
Date Established: 1 April 1969 Completion Date: 1st QTR FY71 

Responsible Agency: 

Host Country: Director of Defense Transportation 
U.S.: HQ HACV J46 (Transportation Advisory Division) 

PROJECT OBJECTIVE : To train a selected group of ARVN TC personnel to 
operate and maintain LCUs, tug boats, and equipment aboard the Floating 
Maintenance Ship (FMS). The personnel trained with US units will form a 
nucleus that will enable ARVN to operate and maintain Its floating craft 
with maximum efficiency. 

BACKGROUNO/CURRENT SITUATION : The ARVN Transportation Corps fleet is Increasino 
more than 6001 between 1488 and 1970. No formal training program exists within 
ARVN to train boat operators and maintenance personnel. While the Vietnamese 
Navy has made training capability available to ARYN, that capability is not 
sufficient to meet all requirements. Off-shore training is being utilized to 
the maximum that qualified personnel can be obtained. Currently 10 ARVN 
Aspirants are undergoing tugboat training with the 4th Terminal Command. At 
Vung Tau, an ARVN 1LT is undergoing OJT as harbormaster, 18 Aspirants and 
enlisted men are undergoing ICU training, while 6 Aspirants and enlisted 
men are undergoing training aboard the FMS located at Vung Tau. ARVN students 
training at Vung Tau are training with the 159th Transportation Battalion 
(Terminal) and Detachment 2 United States Army Marine Maintenance Activity 


8-1-1 Determine the capabilities of the existing training program with 
emphasis directed towards the shortcomings and problem areas. 

8-1-2 Establish corrective guidelines by which the training program will 
become formalized. 

8-1-3 Establish the revised training schedule to include sponsoring unit, 

location, material and equipment requirement and billeting and messing 

8-1-4 Implement the revised training program. 

8-1-5 Monitor and supervise the training program to Insure achievement of 
desired results. 



masam cmthu* 

8-1-1 Determine capabilities and defic¬ 
iencies of present trainino oro- 

8-1-2 Establish Corrective guidelines. 

8-1-3 Established revised training sched¬ 

w • *. . t * a- 

8-1-4 lapleaent revised training schedule 

8-1-5 Monitor training program. 






Pi-Bjet: He, 9-t 

project Tlll+J Uiter Ltfi lfl®rtw*nent 

Q»c* tttablfthedi lit qtr Pf» tcwlellon Cite: It* Olr FrH> 
ftf i p*v, 1L: 1 if 

*«t Country; MWCtar -of Offense 1 rtnipcrtitlwi 
U.i,: HO wtv, JA6 (Truwpwtetlort MrI wt Olritltn) 

p-mVSFCT WJlCltrt: To bettor Utilise the »+stel uiwrweySr rt¥ * 1 '* and 
cwii (ffWlTii Mwi of «ownitit1». 

i^t^ftfliHQ/CiUeSeNT tITiiATtW: The «i«til wiurwiy,, rlsiii.ind **k*U 

SrfflSK hliterlctllf hem the chief Hw at 

the fcpubllt ** Tietntn. U.S. fdrees have WblCreh s 

fleet to Uke edYantOgt at thrti mtenrtpt. The 

deludes fl** t*»t upf.mlei. one he**y 

uug beet teifflt. t«n nedijs hoit eeneitfly it luih&Mred l? lckh * r 

Corrmtly (hue of the fin n*kun beel MM*** in W rtt*lljr 9f 
fully operetloh*!. Q« MepKhj h« lSLO« - i, inether 
iC*fc J s Mi third ctsopih/ hit four LO* *' hit^* 

LCHd'i 1i ifl tlW ptwett '0 *■ .. 

mV^ll ™?™U LCK8-1 m 4u ip and thpeld he eJ4E*Sff 
uuthe mu t.f Jujfrjit Ihe fifth ned1u» belt eonpeny *n ettlnted 

/julv 1%9 lti is schedule* te ewiete tti frtJMtIi*t'■Oh *i*d turning 

i, «S Ew!«« <ss «»» »» 

£****/ to recei ve tit eliitw ortM*. Jh* mi ht*vy *»t "MpM/ 
wit ectlvaWd on 1 April 1?6fl end will tcoplrte Hi orghiat 1 ^ 
mining bv leu October 1H4, hOwh»r. Wen 11 f» wiirdelwd dite**" 
this t«U>v Mill recti** Hi nil it lea oqutowni Ten log hc-it 
scheduled for eetlvetltfi during July 196® me wS11 cstop-el* orginli*,ion 
and iriintng by %\ OfiMir UH* te>*tv*r, ns iLtheSulnd d*U Mt bw» 
tii*hMshc4 to* the lug botli to » transferred td AByn. 

masti of ACTlOd; 



Eitibl Ills t dale fo* nl is ton oqulp 0 * 1 ^ 10 he transferred to »w 
Aftt-K nedlt* belt twpeny. tme he»vy boil tcrtpiiV *itp thf t*" 
tug boit uen. 

Honiter Ihe ijttee H It dewlOibi end ntt aecetunf ctvingrt. 




8-2-1 CiUbtliti d«U for tronifer of 
nltiloti equlpnoot. 

8-2-2 Monitor tho tyitw. 


— fr-* 


" ft 













Source : Report, Logistics - Country Logistics Improvement Plan (CLIP) - Record of 
ACV Part 1, 31 July 1969, Folder 0707, Box 0025, TTUVVA, accessed 17 May 2016, 15800250707, Cover, 3- 



Books and Periodicals 

Burke, Robert L. “Corps Logistics Planning in Vietnam,” Military Review 49, no. 8 
(August 1969): 3-11. 

Olivers, C. J. The Gun. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010. 

Clarke, Jeffrey L. Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965-1973. Washington, DC: 

US Anny Center of Military History, 1988. 

Cosmas, Graham A. MACV: The Joint Command in the Years of Escalation 1962-1967. 
Washington, DC: US Anny Center of Military History, 2006. 

-. MACV: The Joint Command in the Years of Withdrawal 1968-1972. 

Washington, DC: US Army Center of Military History, 2007. 

Daddis, Gregory A. No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in 
the Vietnam War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 

-. Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam. Oxford 

University Press, 2013. 

Daniel, Hawthorne. For Want of a Nail: The Influence of Logistics on War. New York: 
Whittlesey House, 1948. 

Dunn, Carroll H. Vietnam Studies: Base Development 1965-1970. Washington, DC: 
Department of the Anny, 1973. 

Eccles, Henry E. Logistics in the National Defense. Hanisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1959. 

Gray, Colin. Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy. Westport, CT: 
Praeger Security International, 2007. 

Guelzo, Carl M. “Managing Military Assistance Support in Vietnam.” Military Review 
49, no. 1 (January 1969): 31-35. 

Heiser, Joseph M., Jr. Vietnam Studies: Logistic Support. Washington, DC: Department 
of the Army, 1991. 

-. A Soldier Supporting Soldiers. Washington, DC: US Anny Center of Military 

History, 1991. 

Hening, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. 
4th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2002. 


Hinh, Nguyen Duy. Lam Son 719. Washington, DC: US Army Center of Military 
History, 1979. 

Hooper, Edwin B. Mobility, Support and Endurance: A Story of Naval Operational 

Logistics in the Vietnam War, 1965-1968. Washington, DC: Department of the 
Navy, 1972 

Jomini, Antoine Henri de. The Art of War. Translated by G. H. Mendell and W. P. 
Craighill. Rockville, MD: Arc Manor, 2007. 

Kamow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin, 1997. 

Khuyen, Dong Van. RVNAF Logistics. Washington, DC: US Anny Center of Military 
History, 1984. 

Kissinger, Henry. Ending the War in Vietnam. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003. 

Krepinevich, Andrew F., Jr. The Army and Vietnam. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1986. 

Ky, Nguyen Cao. How We Lost the Vietnam War. New York: Stein and Day, 1976. 

Levinson, Marc. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the 
World Economy Bigger. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. 

Lewy, Guenter. America in Vietnam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978. 

Logevall, Fredrik. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s 
Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2013. 

Meyerson, Joel D. “War Plans and Politics: Origins of the American Base of Supply in 
Vietnam.” In Feeding Mars, edited by John A. Lynn, 271-287. Boulder, CO: 
Westview Press, 1993. 

Nolan, Keith W. Into Laos: The Story of Dewey Canyon II / LarnSon 719; Vietnam 1971. 
Novato, CA: Presidio, 1986. 

O’Donohue, Thomas J., and Martin N. McGreary, Jr. “Moving the Vietnamese to 

Logistics Self-Sufficiency.” Army Logistician 4, no. 3 (May-June 1972): 20-23. 

Palmer, Dave R. Summons of the Trumpet. San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1978. 

Schmitz, David F. Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. Lanham, MD: Rowman and 
Littlefield, 2014. 

Scott, William L. “Combat Logistics.” In The Fundamentals of Military Logistics: A 
Primer of the Logistics Infrastructure, edited by Craig M. Brandt, 169-181. 
Dayton, OH: Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management, 2005. 


Sharp, U. S. G., and William Westmoreland, Report on the War in Vietnam. Washington, 
DC: Government Reprints Press, 2001. 

Sharp, U. S. G. Strategy for Defeat. San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1978. 

Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s 
Last Years in Vietnam. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1999. 

-. Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972. Texas Tech University 

Press, 2004. 

Spector, Ronald H. Advice and Support: The Early Years. Washington, DC: US Army 
Center of Military History, 1985. 

Stanton, Shelby L. Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to US 
Army Combat and Support Forces in Vietnam 1961-1973. Harrisburg, PA: 
Stackpole Books, 2003. 

Tho, Tran Dinh. The Cambodian Incursion. Washington, DC: US Army Center of 
Military History, 1983. 

Thompson, Julian. The Lifeblood of War. London: Brassey’s, 1991. 

Thompson, W. Scott, and Donaldson D. Frizzel. The Lessons of Vietnam. New York: 
Crane, Russak and Company, 1977. 

Thorpe, George C. Pure Logistics. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 

US Department of Defense, Foreign Internal Defense. Washington, DC: US Joint Staff, 
12 July 2010. 

United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Command History 1969: Volume 
II. San Francisco: US Army Center for Military History, 1969. 

Van Creveld, Martin. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton . 2nded. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 

Waddell, Steve. United States Army Logistics. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security 
International, 2010. 

Webb, Willard J. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the War in Vietnam, 1969-1970. 

Washington, DC: Office of Joint History, Office of the Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, 2002. 

Westmoreland, William. A Soldier Reports. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976. 


Willbanks, James H. Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its 
War. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2008. 

-. A Raid Too Far: Operation Lam Son 719 and Vietnamization in Laos. College 

Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2014. 

-. The Tet Offensive: A Concise History. New York: Columbia University Press, 


Woolwine, Walter J. “Vietnam Redeployment and Materiel Retrograde.” Army 
Logistician 3, no. 4 (July-August 1971): 8-9, 40-42. 

Government Documents 

Conference on the Reorganization and Augmentation of the USARV Logistics Structure 
(1966), “Logistical Structure Conference, 14-18 August 1966,” Headquarters, 
United States Army Vietnam, 1966, US Army Heritage and Education Center. 

“Disposition Fonn and Inclosures, Logistics Directorate: Plans and Programs Division” - 
re: MACDL Command History - Record of MACV Part 1, 8 February 1973, 
Folder 0623, Box 0027, The Vietnam Center and Virtual Archive, Texas Tech 
University. Accessed 29 April 2016. 
virtualarchive/items.php?item=FO 15800270635. 

“Fact Sheet,” Logistics Directorate: Joint Logistics Advisory Division - re: Impact on 
ARVN Supply System Based on Potential Force Structure Reduction - Record 
MACV Part 1, 24 February 1973, Folder 0525, Box 0027, TTUVVA. Accessed 
27 February 2016. 
item=F015 800270525. 

General Accounting Office. Report to the Congress by the Comptroller General of the 

United States, “Logistic Aspects of Vietnamization--1969-72.” January 31, 1971. 

GENERAL 1967 CMD HISTORY VOL 2, 1967, Folder 01, Bud Harton Collection, 
TTUVVA. Accessed 19 May 2016. 
items .php?item=l 68300010722. 

Letter and Inclosures from Colonel Worley, Logistics - re: Historical Interest ‘Key 

Subjects’ - Record of MACV Part 1, 06 February 1972, Folder 1056, Box 0025, 
TTUVVA. Accessed 19 May 2016. 

Letter from Major General Conroy and Inclosures, Logistics - re: Logistics Offensive 
Newsletter - Record of MACV Part 1, 22 November 1969, Folder 0508, Box 
0025, TTUVVA. Accessed 17 May 2016. 
virtualarchive/items .php?item=F015800250508. 


Letter from Major General Conroy and Inclosure, Logistics - re: Logistics Offensive 
Newsletter - Record of MACV Part 1, 06 March 1970, Folder 0515, Box 0025, 
TTUVVA. Accessed 17 May 2016. 

MACV Plan, Logistics: Logistics Advisory Directorate - Combined Logistics Offensive - 
Record of MACV Part 1, 22 July 1969, Folder 0423, Box 0026, TTUVVA. 
Accessed 17 May 2016. 
items .php?item=F015800260423. 

Report, Logistics - Country Logistics Improvement Plan (CLIP) - Record of MACV Part 
1,31 July 1969, Folder 0707, Box 0025, TTUVVA. Accessed 20 May 2016. 15800250707. 

Report, U.S. Anny - After Action Report for Lam Son 719, XXIV Corps, 30 January 

1971 thru 06 April 1971 [Part 2 of 2], 14 May 1971, Folder 09, Box 05, Michael 
Sloniker Collection, TTUVVA. Accessed 20 April 2016. 

“Updated US/RVN (US MACV/RVNJGS) Combined Strategic Objectives Plan,” 1971, 
Folder 01, Box 19, Douglas Pike Collection: Unit 01 - Assessment and Strategy, 
TTUVVA. Accessed 19 May 2016. 

“U.S. Anny Activities Report - U.S. Anny Build-Up and Activities in South Vietnam, 

1965-1972” - Vietnam War Research Collections, 17 February 1971, Folder 0521, 
Box 0024, TTUVVA. Accessed 10 March 2016. 

Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970: US Military Advisory Program, 03 March, 1970, 
Folder 10, Box 42, Douglas Pike Collection, Unit 03 - US Economy and US 
Mission (Saigon), TTUVVA. Accessed 19 May 2016. http://www.Vietnam. 

Oral Histories 

Conroy, Raymond C. Interviewed by Debbie B. Bazemore, 4 December, 1985. US Army 
Transportation Corps History. General Officer Interviews. Accessed 20 May, 

Engler, Jean. Interviewed by Phillip Shepard, 1981. “Senior Officers Oral History 
Program: Project 81-3,” Papers of Jean E. Engler, USAHEC, Box 2. 

Morton, Richard L. Interviewed by Terry Hunter, 20 August 1987. US Army 

Transportation Corps History. General Officer Interviews. Accessed 20 May 


Special Collections 

Operations Reports on Lessons Learned. Defense Technical Infonnation Center. 

Provided on CD-ROM by the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. 

Senior Officer Debriefing Reports. Defense Technical Infonnation Center. Provided on 
CD-ROM by the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. 


Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis. Paramount Pictures, 1994. DVD, 
Paramount Pictures, 2001. 

Naval Supply Systems Command. “Logistics Quotations.” US Air Force. Accessed 16 
November 2015.