Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1972
The War in Vietnam
In April 1969, President Nixon stated that the redeployment of United States troops from Vietnam would depend upon three factors: progress in the peace talks with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris; the level of enemy activity on the battlefield; and progress in Vietnamization, the process under which the South Vietnamese were being equipped and trained to assume responsibility for their own defense. The President's initial announcement of troop withdrawal was made during a joint conference with South Vietnamese President Thieu in June 1969. At that time he stated that 25,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam during July and August 1969. Since that time, and up to June 30, 1972, over half a million American servicemen, 336,000 of them Army personnel, have been redeployed from the Republic of Vietnam. These withdrawals were made in twelve increments, the last five of them during fiscal year 1972.
The eighth redeployment increment, some 28,700 U.S. troops, was completed on August 31, 1971. Major Army units included the 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and the 173d Airborne Brigade. To reach the President's specified goal of 184,000, the ninth increment of 42,000 troops was redeployed between September 1 and November 30, 1971, and included the 11th and 198th Infantry Brigades of the 23d Infantry Division.
On November 12, 1971, President Nixon announced another reduction of 45,000 U.S. troops to attain a level of 139,000 by January 31, 1972. Thus the tenth increment was initiated on December 1, 1971, and totaled 45,000 spaces. Major units redeployed were the 1st and 3d Brigades of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile).
On January 13, 1972, the President announced a further reduction of 70,000 U.S. troops beginning February 1, 1972, to reach a level of 69,000 troops in Vietnam by May 1, 1972. The eleventh increment brought the remainder of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) home, the last U.S. Army division to redeploy.
Finally, on April 26, 1972, the President announced that an additional 20,000 U.S. troops would depart the battle zone in May and June 1972, bringing the over-all U.S. troop level down to 49,000 and the Army to 31,900. With the redeployment of the 3rd Brigade of
the 1st Cavalry Division (Air-mobile) and the 196th Infantry Brigade in this twelfth increment, there were only two U.S. Army maneuver battalions in Vietnam at the end of fiscal year 1972.
Army battle casualties in Southeast Asia during the period of the fiscal year-July 1, 1971, through June 30, 1972-decreased markedly over the previous twelve-month period. Battle dead and wounded numbered 367 and 2,175 respectively in fiscal year 1972 as compared with 2,057 and 15,226 in fiscal year 1971. Of the 2,175 wounded, 1,057 were returned to duty without requiring hospitalization.
Total Army battle casualties in killed and wounded from January 1, 1961, to June 30, 1972, were 30,435 and 201,161 respectively.
As of June 30, 1971, 276 Army personnel were missing in action in Southeast Asia, with 62 known to have been captured. On June 30, 1972, 258 were missing in action and 83 were known to be in enemy hands.
During fiscal year 1972, the primary responsibility for offensive ground combat operations in South Vietnam was assumed by the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam. The main burden of dealing with North Vietnamese aggression lay with the South Vietnamese. Remaining U.S. Army forces were engaged in defending U.S. installations, providing aviation support to South Vietnamese armed forces, and carrying out advisory functions.
On March 30, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army launched a major offensive in three separate regions of South Vietnam. Equipped with hundreds of tanks, massive artillery support, and a wide range of modern weapons systems, they threatened the very existence of the Republic of Vietnam. To continue the safe withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam and to respond to this North Vietnamese aggression, it was necessary to augment U.S. air and naval forces and provide the South Vietnamese with additional equipment and logistical support. These actions, in concert with a stepped-up U.S. air campaign within South Vietnam, increased interdiction of enemy supply trails in Laos, renewed bombing in North Vietnam, and a blockade of major North Vietnamese ports, reduced the effect of the enemy invasion. Despite the enemy's effort, only one (Quang Tri) of South Vietnam's forty-four province capitals was lost. U.S. Army forces continued to withdraw during this period, and the Republic of Vietnam's armed forces assumed responsibility for their country's internal security. Supported by U.S. Army advisers, logistical elements, and helicopter transports and gunships, the vast majority of Vietnamese Army units performed well while sustaining heavy losses of personnel and equipment.
To offset these losses and counter the more sophisticated weaponry introduced by North Vietnam, the U.S. Army took extraordinary
measures in three areas to support the Vietnamization of ground combat operations: acceleration of materiel supply under established programs; replacement of abnormal losses from combat actions; and provision of sufficient equipment to the Vietnamese armed forces to counter the enemy threat.
In the first area, materiel that had already been identified and funded and was scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 1973 under an existing improvement and modernization program was called forward and became available at the height of the enemy attack (although the Army Staff had to redistribute materiel, defer planned deliveries to the active and reserve forces, and accelerate maintenance and rebuild programs). At the same time, the scope and intensity of the enemy invasion and the large-scale combat created equipment losses comparable to those associated with large-scale conventional warfare. The requirement to replace artillery, armor, mobility, and communications equipment placed a heavy and unprogramed burden on the Army's logistical system. Expenditure of ammunition above programed levels led to a particularly acute support problem.
Under the equipment augmentation, it was necessary to compensate for North Vietnam's introduction of sophisticated weaponry which only a highly trained army could operate. For the first time in Vietnam, for example, the North Vietnamese used a 130-mm. field gun with a range of seventeen miles. They also introduced a wire-guided antitank missile, a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile that was effective against helicopters and other slow-flying aircraft, and employed medium tanks on a large scale. Thus the Republic of Vietnam's armed forces had to be upgraded to meet the threat, and some of the equipment released by withdrawing U.S. forces was used: M48A3 tanks with a 90-mm. gun, 175-mm. guns for long-range artillery, UH-1H and CH-47 helicopters, and tube-launched, optically tracked, and wire-guided rockets (TOWS).
During fiscal year 1972, aviation units were redeployed from Vietnam along with other types of U.S. elements. By April 1972, at the height of the North Vietnamese offensive, there were about 25 aviation companies left compared to the high of 144 in 1969. Because of their support role, only a few of the remaining aviation units-principally the air cavalry troops-were engaged in combat. Helicopter employment did not change notably during the offensive, except that the TOW missile was used with the UH-1B aircraft. U.S. Army aviation units provided South Vietnamese and Korean forces with effective support throughout the enemy offensive.
The AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter was the main craft in the single attack helicopter company and the lone aerial artillery battery left in U.S. forces in Vietnam in April 1972. The Cobra is integrated
into helicopter transport companies to provide protective fires during an airmobile assault; it also forms part of air cavalry reconnaissance teams. These teams normally consist of two scout helicopters operating at low altitudes, covered by the protective fires of gunships.
Several examples will illustrate the contribution of armed helicopters. At An Loc on April 12, 1972, the attack helicopters of Battery F, 79th Aerial Field Artillery, met the initial drive of enemy tanks into the city. Using standard aerial rockets and automatic weapons, they knocked out the first six tanks that entered the city. At Hue on May 23, attack helicopters supported aerial scouts north of the My Chanh River. Large numbers of enemy troops were sighted and two scout helicopters were shot down. The gunships covered these aircraft while the occupants were recovered and evacuated to friendly areas. And at Kontum on May 26, 1972, helicopter gunships flew against an enemy tank formation that was penetrating the city, destroying ten of twelve tanks and tracked vehicles.
The Army has in the TOW rocket a highly effective aerial antitank missile. The missile may be employed at ranges up to several thousand meters. Only a small number of helicopters had been equipped by year's end, and some of these were shipped to Vietnam on April 24, 1972. After a short training period in which each pilot gunner fired one missile, these ships were committed at Kontum to meet an expected enemy armor threat. In their first seventy-seven combat launches, they scored sixty-two hits on point targets and destroyed thirty-nine armored vehicles, trucks, and howitzers.
As the American combat role in Vietnam decreased, the advisory effort expanded. The adviser assists his Vietnamese 'counterpart to identify problems, establish priorities, and organize resources to attain objectives. There are two basic types of advisory efforts in Vietnam-military and pacification. The adviser's goal is to work himself out of a job. Understandably, the rate of reduction of the U.S. advisory contingent was proportionately lower than that of other elements of the American force-in order to support advisory and security efforts. As Vietnamese self-sufficiency improved, selective advisory reductions of about 65 percent were made in both headquarters and field elements.
Field commanders were allowed maximum latitude to determine advisory requirements. Each military region senior adviser, for example, divided his advisory spaces among corps and military region headquarters, divisions, and provinces. Division and senior province advisers in turn tailored their spaces to meet the special requirements of their areas of responsibility. During fiscal year 1972 almost all battalion combat advisory teams were phased out and the number of spaces of regimental combat and district advisory teams was reduced.
District teams have served primarily to advise on means of improving security, with a limited ability to provide developmental assistance. Hence they were less needed as security improved, and there was a gradual shift in the function of Americans at province and district levels from advising to monitoring and reporting upon Vietnamese programs and activities.
As a preliminary to phasing out the district senior adviser program described in previous reports, the six-month tour extension option and related benefits were withdrawn for officers entering the program after November 15, 1971. In other changes in the province and district senior adviser programs, the special fourteen-day family leave incentive was terminated on March 31, 1972, and the province senior adviser training course was reduced to correspond with the eighteen-week district senior adviser course.
During the enemy's spring offensive, military advisers found themselves engaged once again in day-to-day combat operations. Although it was general policy that advisers remain with their counterparts in threatened areas, the senior U.S. commander in each situation was authorized to decide when to evacuate them. In some instances, advisers left only under protest, preferring to face danger in order to lend psychological support and to co-ordinate U.S. tactical air and helicopter support. The fine performance of most Vietnamese battalions and territorial forces after the departure of U.S. advisers demonstrated the success of the advisory feature of the Vietnamization program.
Certain military advisory functions were emphasized throughout fiscal year 1972, including command and control, personnel, logistics, training, communications-electronics, and intelligence. In the pacification area, advisers assisted the Vietnamese in efforts to develop effective and representative local government and in political, economic, security, social development, and resources management areas. By June 1972, U.S. Army adviser strength in Vietnam had been reduced to about 5,000.
From 1966 to the beginning of 1972, the Republic of Korea (ROK) maintained a combat force of some 48,000 men in Vietnam, consisting of two infantry divisions and a marine brigade. During 1971, as a part of the Vietnamization program, Free World Military Assistance Forces shifted their emphasis from combat operations to civic action, nation building, and advisory roles. As Vietnamese forces gradually assumed responsibility for defending Military Region 1, the 2d ROK Marine Brigade returned to Korea between December 1971 and February 1972.
The ROK Capital Division and the ROK 9th Infantry Division continued to operate in Military Region 2, which included most of the provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, and Ninh Thuan.
They had been most successful in neutralizing or expelling enemy forces from these provinces. It is an indication of their contribution that in June 1972, even after the North Vietnamese spring offensive, these provinces ranged from 76 to 100 percent secure.
In addition to securing major segments of several coastal plain highways in Military Region 2, the ROK divisions conducted operations in April 1972 to secure An Khe pass. This offensive action was conducted concurrently with a systematic transfer of several logistic support functions from U.S. to Vietnamese armed forces and civilian contractors as part of the second phase of Vietnamization. In May 1972, President Chung Hee Park of Korea agreed to retain the two-division force in Vietnam until the end of the year.
During fiscal year 1972 the United States continued to provide most of the military advisers for the Vietnamese community defense and local development program, formerly called the pacification program. This is a military, political, and socioeconomic program managed by the Vietnamese, with American advice and support, to establish security, stabilize and re-establish local government, and foster economic and social progress.
The United States contribution, both advice and support, has been provided by the Office of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS), a joint civilian and military organization under the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. CORDS advisers, who have served at the national, regional, provincial, and district levels of the Vietnamese government, are being phased out under the Vietnamization program as their counterparts and local situations will permit. The size of this advisory effort was reduced considerably during fiscal year 1972.
On March 1, 1972, a Four-Year Community Defense and Local Development Plan embracing twenty-nine separate programs and growing out of previous pacification efforts was initiated. It is designed to consolidate secure areas and extend security to additional areas, develop and strengthen constitutional government and local administration, and develop the local economy and self-sufficiency so that foreign aid could be reduced.
Community defense and local development operations improved throughout 1971, and as the lunar year ended on February 28, 1972, the Vietnamese people not subjected to the direct impact of military operations were experiencing a higher degree of security and level of economic and social well-being than many had ever known before. The Viet Cong apparatus had been weakened to a point where it no longer posed a serious threat to the government of South Vietnam, and the communists no longer had any hope of gaining control in South
Vietnam through subversion and guerrilla war, a fact clearly acknowledged by the North Vietnamese invasion at the end of March 1972. Indeed, community defense and local development had achieved such success that sympathy and support for the communists were of no major concern in most areas of South Vietnam.
Yet the North Vietnamese invasion of March 1972 had a serious effect on community defense and local development. Activities were completely disrupted in areas of military operations and were severely restricted elsewhere. Viet Cong terrorism increased in the period March-June 1972 as an adjunct to the invasion. Government officials and personnel, police, members of the People's Self-Defense Forces, rural development cadres, teachers, and refugees were favored targets, and government projects in rural areas were often restricted by transportation difficulties. With the central government preoccupied with the major enemy threat and the burden of caring for thousands upon thousands of refugees generated by the enemy assault, it was understandable that there should be a decline in community defense and local development. On the other hand, the communist offensive and associated terrorism turned the people against the communists and solidified their support of the South Vietnamese government. This, together with the government's over-all effectiveness in dealing with the monumental problems raised by the invasion, provided reason for optimism. Despite the setbacks of the last quarter of fiscal year 1972, the community defense and local development structure proved to be sound. If the direct military threat can be eliminated the program will quickly regain momentum.
The U.S. Army continued to contribute extensively to Vietnamization, including improving and modernizing the Republic of Vietnam armed forces and building the nation. Support of a combined Army and regional and popular forces strength of more than 985,000 was a major element of the Vietnamization effort. The most significant change in force structure during the year was the expansion of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam by 45,000 personnel which permitted the activation of a division headquarters, 3 field artillery battalions, 76 two-gun howitzer platoons, an air defense artillery battalion, a medium tank battalion, and several combat service support battalions.
U.S. Army support was substantial. Changes in force structure and improvements in Vietnamese mobility, fire power, and communications-made possible by U.S. support programs-have improved the Vietnamese Army's combat effectiveness and enabled them to defend their country against massive enemy attacks and assume responsibility for all ground combat in the war. U.S. Army support under the
consolidated improvement and modernization program in fiscal year 1972 cost approximately a billion dollars.
In addition to these support programs in which the U.S. Army contribution is of a purely military nature, there were several other significant American contributions with long-range implications for a stable Vietnamese economy. Among them are the Base Depot Upgrade Program, designed to provide the government of South Vietnam with a self-sustaining ability to rebuild and the foundation of a modest industrial base; a Line of Communications Program; and a National Civil Telecommunications System to provide an autonomous civil corporation to operate and maintain major communications facilities to serve all military and civil users:
Redeployment and Vietnamization continued to be the chief concerns in the logistics as well as the operational field during fiscal year 1972. As U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam, concerted efforts were made to assure an orderly phasedown and the effective redistribution of equipment and materiel. At the same time, emphasis was placed upon actions that would help the Vietnamese Army attain logistical self-sufficiency.
Equipment that became available upon the departure of U.S. forces was redistributed to meet confirmed Vietnamese and other military requirements in the Pacific region. Only that which could not be utilized in Vietnam or the Pacific theater was shipped out of the theater, and this amounted to 612,400 short tons during the period. Remaining American stocks in Vietnam were earmarked for residual U.S. forces, use by civilian contractors, or offshore disposal to meet requirements elsewhere. By year's end, the monumental redistribution task that was in prospect at the outset of redeployment planning had been completed.
About 50 percent of all Army-sponsored cargo and 28 percent of the passengers moved during fiscal year 1972 were transported to and from Southeast Asia. The Military Sealift Command moved 5,603,500 measurement tons, and the Military Airlift Command moved 80,900 short tons into the area. Of these totals, 1,980,900 measurement tons were shipped by sea and 43,300 short tons were shipped by air from the continental United States.
About 300,300 passengers were moved from the continental United States to support operations in Southeast Asia, all but 30 of them by air. Over 139,800 were moved within the theater.
The Army used seven ports in South Vietnam during the year: Newport, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, Cat Lai, and Da
Nang, all deep draft ports, and Phan Rang, a shallow draft port. Of these, only Newport and Vung Tau were under Army control at the end of fiscal year 1972; the remainder had been turned over to the Vietnamese. In November and December 1971, a marked increase in ship turnaround time occurred, due primarily to the most severe weather conditions since 1964. While 10 days is normal, the averages for the two months were 17 and 17.7 days respectively. Although little could be done about the weather, action was taken to reduce the number of port calls that ships were required to make in Vietnam. Materiel being returned from Vietnam to the United States was shipped to Oakland, California, or Mobile, Alabama, and other ports were established within the Pacific Command to receive such shipments from Vietnam. Port congestion was not a problem. During the first quarter of the fiscal year, port throughput (discharge and outloading combined) in Army ports in Vietnam averaged 330,000 short tons monthly compared with 503,000 short tons in the previous year. The average decreased steadily in the following quarters as a result of reduced tonnages rather than limitations in handling capacity.
The Army maintained a high state of equipment readiness in the Pacific during the year, even as direct and general support maintenance capabilities were being steadily reduced. Equipment was processed for transfer to the Vietnamese armed forces, and the maintenance backlog for U.S. Army forces was practically eliminated. The Vietnamese Army's capability to provide maintenance support for its own equipment was advanced. The U.S. Army's depot maintenance program for the Pacific totaled $53.1 million, a higher figure than in previous years because of an increase in unserviceable equipment and in the capability to carry out depot level maintenance in the region. The overhaul cycle was shortened, transportation costs reduced, and replacement requirements cut. These factors, combined with favorable labor rates, made depot maintenance in the Pacific more responsive and economical than returning equipment to the continental United States for repair.
Materiel had to be carefully, managed across the entire supply system to replace combat losses and enhance the combat capability of the Vietnamese Army. Stocks in South Vietnam were used before those of the Pacific Command were requisitioned, and theater stocks were drawn upon in turn before demands were made upon supply sources in, the United States. As the stocks and maintenance capabilities of U.S. Army, Vietnam, progressively declined, offshore supply came increasingly into play. Battlefield recovery and expanded use of a developing Vietnamese Army maintenance and repair capability reduced the demands placed upon the U.S. pipeline.
The major redeployment of U.S. troops from Vietnam and the problems associated with the disposition of their equipment and materiel challenged the Army's management system. Materiel had to be classified, identified as to condition, processed, and distributed in accordance with need. Instructions were prepared by United States Army, Pacific, in conjunction with the Department of the Army and the Army Materiel Command. Materiel was classified as nearly ready for issue, requiring considerable repair, requiring depot maintenance, or not economically repairable. Approximately 19 percent of the equipment was available for immediate release; 67 percent could be repaired within U.S. Army, Vietnam, maintenance facilities. Another 12 percent required extensive repair, and about 1 percent was offered for disposal. Vehicles suffered the highest rate of disposal. Over $42 million of equipment was provided to Vietnamese armed forces in fiscal year 1972, and more than $100 million was shipped to maintenance facilities in the Pacific to be reconditioned and used to meet various requirements including those of Vietnamization.
There are over 500 different major items in the Republic of Vietnam improvement and modernization program, varying from artillery pieces to rifles and tool kits. The requirement to ship or provide materiel at diverse points, on schedule, and often under adverse weather conditions, placed a premium on control and co-ordination for the Army Staff and numerous Defense Department and Army agencies. In some cases, as a Vietnamese Army unit was activated it was designated to assume the equipment and mission of a similar U.S. Army unit. This plan was developed for artillery and engineer units in particular, and it was founded on the assumption that equipment in the hands of an operational unit should be serviceable and suitable for transfer. Only equipment and quantities authorized in tables designed for Vietnamese units were transferred; residual items and some others not considered satisfactory for those units were transferred to U.S. units. From the outset it was intended that equipment made available as a result of U.S. redeployment be used in the Vietnamization program. Materiel lists were revised periodically to keep pace with Vietnamese unit activation schedules. Criteria for transfer and use were developed along with maintenance procedures.
In July 1971, the Army was asked to accelerate delivery, and U.S. Army, Pacific, and U.S. Army, Vietnam, took steps to augment and expedite maintenance units and work. Delivery requirements for various types of equipment were placed upon facilities in Okinawa, Taiwan, and Japan, and depots in the continental United States assumed responsibility for items that could not be provided in the Pacific region. During fiscal year 1972, $338 million in major items was transferred
to the Republic of Vietnam, $124 million by U.S. Army, Vietnam; $70 million by U.S. Army, Pacific; and the balance from the continental United States. Thus the equipment requirements of the Vietnamization program were met with the least cost and disruption to other U.S. Army programs.
As outlined in previous reports, two separate and distinct systems of ammunition supply evolved in Vietnam. The U.S. Army, Vietnam, system supported American and allied forces, while the Vietnamese Army system supported that country's forces. As many of the depots of both systems were collocated, U.S. Army, Pacific, was directed to develop and implement a plan for a combined system. By year's end a single ammunition logistic system had been set up and had progressed so well that by June 1972 U.S. Army, Vietnam, had phased out its ammunition facilities and was being supplied by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
In line with the phaseout of the American troop effort, the transfer of operational affairs to indigenous forces, and the requirements of the Vietnamization program, Headquarters, Department of the Army, reviewed Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, proposals concerning tables of organization and equipment for Vietnamese units. A review of the fiscal year 1974 Military Assistance Service Funded Program was rescheduled for early fiscal year 1973 as a result of the North Vietnamese invasion.
The engineer force in Vietnam was reduced in fiscal year 1972 from about 20,000 to less than 1,000 personnel. For the first six months of the year, engineer troop effort was distributed for the most part equally between operational support and the lines of communication restoration program. Only about 10 percent was devoted to base construction. During the first four months of 1972, the remaining two engineer groups and ten nondivisional engineer battalions ceased operation and either redeployed from Vietnam or were inactivated. On May 1, 1972, the U.S. Army Engineer Command, Vietnam, was replaced by the U.S. Army Engineer Group, Vietnam, with a strength of approximately 1,000 personnel.
The Lines of Communication Program was the most significant construction activity in Vietnam. Initiated in 1966, it provides for a network of modern, high-speed highways connecting population centers and strategic areas in South Vietnam. The over-all objectives were to support tactical operations by providing routes for the safe movement of materiel and fire support; to accelerate the pacification program by opening up previously inaccessible areas to military forces; and to
stimulate the economic development of the country by promoting the free movement of food and goods from farm and factory to market.
Under the program, 4,076 kilometers of national and interprovincial highways are being improved to provide an all-weather, two-lane, heavy-duty (class 50) highway network extending from the demilitarized zone to the Mekong Delta. On December 15, 1971, the U.S. Army engineer involvement in the program was completed. By June 30, 1972, U.S. troops, both Army engineers and Navy Seabees, had completed 1,759 kilometers of highway restoration. The civilian contractor had completed 989 of the 990 kilometers assigned. The Vietnamese engineers had completed 248 kilometers and were actively working on an additional 337 kilometers of a total of 671 kilometers assigned.
During the year, enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam continued to employ land mines and booby traps effectively against U.S. and allied personnel and vehicles. Reductions in U.S. ground combat troop strength during the year and the attendant scale-down of field operations, general area surveillance, and combat patrolling by our troops apparently permitted greater freedom of action by the enemy and interdiction of military and civilian highway movement by clandestine mining of roadways. The problem of combating enemy mine warfare continued to require a total and fully integrated effort comprised of: comprehensive analysis of intelligence regarding methods, tactics and trends; intensive countermine training; and development and employment of new and improved mine detection or neutralization equipment. Experience in Vietnam clearly indicated a need for highly trained specialists in all combat units to advise and assist commanders in the development and employment of countermine procedures and in the unit's mine warfare training.
The U.S. Continental Army Command was consequently directed to establish appropriate courses of instruction at Army service schools to train unit mine warfare specialists. To enable the Army to deal more effectively with mine warfare problems in the future and to benefit from experience in Vietnam, an effort was made during the fiscal year to retrieve the mine and countermine warfare records of Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam. These records, along with those of mine warfare experience in other wars collected by the Army Chief of Engineers, are being used to develop and publish an Encyclopedia of Landmine and Countermine Warfare. The encyclopedia will provide comprehensive and complete coverage of the state of the art in -mine and countermine warfare, as well as the lessons of related military experience. Distribution of this publication, in fiscal year 1973, is
expected to aid troop unit commanders and personnel engaged in research and development in this field.
As a result of the national policy to reduce U.S. military troop strength in Southeast Asia, a plan was approved by the Secretary of the Army in March 1970 which called for contractor operation and maintenance of the major fixed communications facilities in Vietnam. This plan was entitled Contractor Operation and Maintenance, Vietnam Engineering and Training Services (COMVETS). A contract was awarded to Federal Electric Corporation (FEC) which had assumed responsibility for a major portion of the system by March 1971.
The FEC contract included an option for extension of the program into other areas of Southeast Asia, and as a further effort to reduce U.S. troop strength in that area, the program was extended into Thailand under the name of Contractor Operation and Maintenance, Thailand Engineering and Training Services (COMTETS).
In August 1971, the Secretary of Defense directed acceleration of the Vietnamization program, which resulted initially in a considerable expansion of the COMVETS program both in operation and maintenance of additional facilities and as an expanded training effort to prepare the Vietnamese for more rapid takeover of the system.
By the end of June 1972, as a result of this contractor effort, the strength of U.S. military communication specialists in Southeast Asia was reduced significantly, and the Vietnamese, through the expanded training program, were well on the way toward complete takeover of the fixed communications system. This system is to remain in Vietnam as the backbone of a telecommunications system serving the military and civil communities on a countrywide basis.
Return to Table of Contents
Last updated 27 August 2004