Chapter IV:
Planning and the Construction Concept
The authority for setting construction priorities within the Republic of Vietnam was delegated by Admiral Sharp to General Westmoreland. As a result, the MACV logistical support plan of 1965 specified the following construction priorities: first, improve airfields and related facilities at specified locations; second, improve main supply routes; third, improve railroads as required; fourth, rehabilitate and expand port facilities at specified locations; and fifth, improve logistic base and support facilities to include petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) storage and dispensing facilities. In the event that any of these tasks could not be accomplished because of enemy action or for any other reason, the succeeding task would assume the higher priority.
Admiral Sharp's plan specified that facilities would be austere and that only essential operations and support facilities needed immediately would be included in the construction program. Supporting plans included real estate and facility requirements. However, this initial development plan was overtaken by the sudden and continuing increase of combat forces arriving. Once troops were ashore and deployed, bases had to be developed to sustain them. Fundamental to combat support was reliance on deep-draft vessels for shipment of bulk tonnage from the United States. Aircraft alone could never support the forces being assembled.
Before 1965 essentially all cargo entering Vietnam in deep-draft vessels came through the port of Saigon, the only port with deep draft berths, for distribution to the rest of the country by either rail or coastal steamer. With the buildup, three factors negated this approach to logistics support for arriving U.S. forces. The tonnage required far exceeded the capacity of the port at Saigon. The railway as a system was not operational, and transshipment via coastal vessels from a single discharge point was neither economical nor feasible. The only answer to the logistics problem was to build more deep-draft ports. Fortunately, there were sufficient suitable locations where these ports could be developed.
Initially, three ports were considered to be sufficient for receiving the logistics that were originally scheduled-Da Nang in the north,

Cam Ranh Bay on the central coast, and Saigon in the south. Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay were fine natural harbors that could be developed into ports capable of docking deep-draft oceangoing vessels with a reasonable amount of effort and cost. Saigon presented fewer possibilities, since it was a restricted river port with limited sites for additional berth development. From each of these ports then, several satellite shallow-draft coastal ports could be supported: Hue and Chu Lai from Da Nang; Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, and Phan Rang from Cam Ranh; and Can Tho and Vung Tau from Saigon. This was the concept that was developed in the summer and early fall of 1965. Before the end of the year, however, it became increasingly obvious that Qui Nhon should become a fourth deep-draft port with full pier accommodations, since Qui Nhon had become the most logical point from which to support extensive operations in the highlands. (Map 4) Cam Ranh Bay became less important for direct support of ground operations, but it developed into a theater depot and an intertheater air terminal. These four deepdraft ports-Da Nang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh Bay, and Saigonbecame the keystones of the base development plan and the centers of what eventually became semiautonomous logistical enclaves.
Once the concept of these sustaining ports was established, the program of base development proceeded in logical order. While deep-draft piers were being provided and channels to the piers were being dredged, each port area was to be expanded to include depot facilities for storage and further distribution of petroleum products, ammunition, rations, equipment, and a myriad of other materials. Provisions were made in each port area complex for the essential supporting services: maintenance, supply, transportation, hospitalization, communications, and personnel accommodations.
It logically followed that major air bases should also be developed in each principal port area, mainly because there was a need for high-capacity port facilities to satisfy aircraft demands for petroleum and ammunition. To facilitate the air delivery of critical supplies, material was quickly shuffled from dockside to waiting aircraft.
At Da Nang the existing air base was expanded with an additional runway, aprons, and cargo handling facilities. A new fighter bomber base was constructed near Qui Nhon at Phu Cat in II Corps. A fighter-bomber and logistics terminal was built at Cam Ranh Bay, and at Saigon both Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa were upgraded and expanded with parallel runways. Major tactical or logistical air bases were also constructed at the shallow-draft ports of Chu Lai in I Corps and Phan Rang in II Corps, which were the satellite ports of Da Nang and Cam Ranh. Not included in the

MAP - 4

original base development concept was the air base at Tuy Hoa in central II Corps, which was established by late 1966 with its supporting single-pier deep-draft port at Vung Ro.
Operations of the major depot complexes were extended. through forward operating elements. The ultimate effect of this matrix of primary logistical port-depot complexes and satellite forward displacements was to create an extensive logistics support grid. On short notice logistical support could be provided to any tactical element by "plugging in" to the grid.
The construction program to support American and allied forces in South Vietnam did not evolve from any single planning action; it developed from immediate requirements in 1965 and continued to expand as needs increased. The underdeveloped nature of Vietnam and the lack of available base facilities placed a premium on a rapid construction program. The initial operations plan directed the U.S. Army, Ryukyu Islands, to provide base development plans for Army forces designated for deployment to Vietnam. The plans that were developed were adequate, since they were responsive to operational requirements and were detailed enough so that the type and scope of facilities needed could be identified. The real problem, however, was that the plans were written for a force of 64,000 men, whereas the accelerated troop buildup led to a force totaling 81,000 in July 1965 and 184,000 by December 1965. The engineer staffs of the Commander in Chief, Pacific, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, and subordinate elements were inadequately manned for the prompt development of the plans necessary to meet the force buildup. Therefore, not only the development of but the planning for base facilities was concurrent with the rapid increase in force structure. It was clear from the beginning that certain functional types of facilities would be required, but the quantities and locations were not known. The construction program changed with each change in operational and logistical concepts and requirements. Not until the end of 1966 was the program sufficiently clear to identify these principal requirements:
1. 8 jet fighter bases with 10,000-foot runways
2. 6 new deepwater ports with 28 deep-draft berths
3. 26 hospitals with 8,280 beds
4. 280,000 kilowatts of electrical power
5. 10.4 million square feet of warehousing
6. 3.1 million barrels of POL storage
7. 5,460,000 square feet of ammunition storage
8. 75 new C-130 airfields
9. $27.1 million of communication facilities

10. 39 million cubic meters of dredging
11. 4,100 kilometers of highway
12. 434,000 acres of land clearing
13. 182 wells for water
At MACV headquarters, before February 1966, responsibilities pertaining to base development planning and construction priorities were inhibited by the inability of the limited engineer staff to handle a program of the magnitude required to meet operational needs. Consequently, priorities for projects or complexes were often resolved at General Westmoreland's level.
Requirements for construction were generally developed at the base installation level and processed in the country through the service chain of command. At different levels the requests were reviewed for validity and integrated into a composite priority listing according to individual service needs subject to corps tactical zone co-ordination.
Appropriate command interest at all levels was evidenced by the successful accomplishment of the construction program despite extreme difficulties. Integration of operational and support planning was after early 1966 probably more complete than in any previous conflict. The personal interest and action of commanders, both tactical and engineer, overcame the complexity of multiple chains of command and the relatively restrictive funding procedures in effect. The Secretary of Defense's decision to have a director of construction co-ordinate the entire construction program was a critical factor in its over-all success.
Still, local commanders' interests normally focused on projects which bore directly on their operations. Those which supported other agencies were slighted. Local commanders generally tended to upgrade priority designators excessively to get higher priorities for their own projects on the integrated construction schedule, allocation of materials and equipment, construction standards, and rate of progress. Such actions ultimately worked to the detriment of other projects, which in some cases had higher legitimate priorities.
For all of these projects, planning called for austerity. Although rigid control prevailed in the early days of the troop buildup, it became more relaxed as the situation changed. Minimum essential requirements were originally provided which allowed only the minimum facilities an arriving or relocating unit needed to occupy a new location on a temporary basis. Authorization was limited to concrete slabs for mess hall tents, grading and stabilization necessary to erect unframed tentage, stabilized, parking areas for TOE equipment and aircraft, minimum open storage, area drainage, access

and primary roads, culverts, field showers, burn-out latrines, and revetments for aircraft. The minimum requirements were also the  result of a shortage of skilled support troops.
President Johnson's decision in November 1965 not to order a general call-up of Reserve and National Guard units imposed a major restraint on the deployment of sufficient numbers of engineer construction troops to Vietnam. The National Guard and the Reserves contained the majority of troop construction units. This problem, along with the lack of a skilled local population, increased our reliance on civilian contractors for major construction in the combat area. Consequently, the contractor construction capability already in Vietnam had to be expanded. The magnitude of the contractor effort became so vast and diversified that it could correctly be termed a construction industry. The peak strength of the contractors' work force, attained in mid-1966, was 51,044 personnel; of which less than 10 percent were American. (Chart 5)
In general, the contractor was given the larger, more complicated jobs in relatively secure areas, while troops concentrated on work in forward areas. But there was no sharp division between work assigned to contractors or troops. In a number of instances, contractors and engineer troops worked together. There were times when contractors were not available and projects had to be turned over to engineer troops units. At other times, troops were needed

to support tactical operations and their projects had to be left to contractors.
With rising construction needs and costs, both Congress and Secretary McNamara became closely involved in construction control. On 3 September 1965 an assistant for construction operations was established within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations and Housing, OASD (I&L). Its staff consisted of one officer in the grade of O-6 from each service under the command of a general officer, the first of whom was Brigadier General Charles C. Noble, U.S. Army. His essential duties were to monitor the military construction programs, and support them before Congress, to assure that they were proceeding on schedule, and that any obstacles were identified and removed. With control points established at MACV in Vietnam and in OASD (I&L), the Secretary of Defense was in a position to deal directly and o a day-to-day basis with construction matters involving MACV, elements of his own office, and Congress. The Secretary of Defense prescribed detailed procedures covering such matters as construction standards; procedures for review, authorization, and changes in programs; construction status and forecast reports; and MACV construction directives.
On 21 December 1967, the two Army engineer brigades in Vietnam were denied authority to issue construction directives which exceeded the scope of Engineer Command directives already published. Before this date engineer brigade and group commanders operated under a rather liberal policy which allowed them to initiate construction that in their judgment was necessary within the scope of general directives issued by MACV and USARV. Once such a project was started, the engineer commander involved would simply request the Engineer Command to issue a construction directive to cover the project. One of the problems with this procedure was that it gave the USARV staff no opportunity to evaluate the requirement in light of the over-all military situation, the total construction program, or the priorities before work began. As a result, engineer commanders occasionally found that units for which they were building a cantonment had been relocated, or were scheduled to relocate. Earlier, there were always new units coming in to occupy the unused space, but by late 1967 the situation changed. All commanders became concerned with overbuilding and were careful to stay within authorized construction limits. The practice was to apply minimum essential standards.
There were no set construction standards at the beginning of the program except limitations on living space and the general admonition that facilities would be minimum and austere. Stand-

ards evolved slowly and were inconsistent. Theater standards were finally developed and accepted to minimize costs based on duration of occupancy and construction time. The factors which played a major role in determining standards were the mission of the unit for which facilities were provided, the permanency of units in a given location, and the philosophy of each military service.
The problems of establishing standards in Vietnam were complicated by variations in philosophies as well as by characteristics peculiar to the war. Both Army and Marine Corps ground combat units traditionally have been equipped and trained to operate in the field with minimum facilities. Still, there were a great many differences of opinion concerning standards that would be used in the construction of division and brigade base camps. With advanced types of jet aircraft, more sophisticated technical equipment became necessary at air base sites. Consequently, fixed bases, as opposed to expeditionary flying fields from which Air Force and Marine tactical fighter units had previously operated, became sophisticated industrial centers with facilities constructed to relatively high standards.
The rise in cantonment standards came into being because combat operations were conducted and supported from relatively static base camps and logistical facilities. The upshot was a degree of refinement and a higher standard of living for support troops (and in some situations for combat troops) than in any other war in our nation's history. This rise in standards had a major impact on construction requirements. For example, the almost complete elimination of B rations and the large-scale use of frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy products created increased requirements for cold storage facilities, which thus greatly exceeded planning factors for refrigeration units based on previous experience.
The tropical climate justified air conditioning for specific cantonment areas such as administrative and planning areas; certain medical facilities; and quarters for night-flying aircraft pilots, senior officers, and civilian personnel. This was not envisioned in the initial planning, and considerable time elapsed before a policy was formulated and enforced. Still other delays were experienced in completing facilities because of the long lead time required to procure and ship this sophisticated equipment to Vietnam.
To combat inflation in the country by absorbing dollars, the service exchanges marketed a variety of household items never before available in a theater of operations. Many items not available directly from the exchanges could be ordered by mail from home or mail-order houses. Consequently, television sets, room-size air conditioners, electric fans, hot plates, small refrigerators, toasters, and electric percolators became commonplace in many living quar-

Facility Temporary Intermediate Field
Troop housing Austere wood buildings; 1- and 2-story barracks Austere wood huts; tents with wood frame and floors Austere wood huts; Class IV tents with wood frames and floors
Mess hall Pre-engineered metal or wood building Pre-engineered metal or wood building Wood building; tents
Dispensary Pre-engineered metal or wood building Pre-engineered metal or wood building Wood building; tents
Electricity Central power and distribution Nontactical generators Nontactical generators; TOE generators
Water supply Piped water distribution Point supply with limited distribution Point supply
Sewage Waterborne Consolidated treatment Burn-out latrines burn-out latrines
Roads Paved Stabilized Dirt
ters. The resultant unprecedented requirements for eletcrical power necessitated procurement of. electrical generators and the design or redesign of electrical distribution systems heretofore unknown in war.
On 4 June 1964 General Westmoreland published a directive which assigned responsibility for construction standards to the Deputy Officer in Charge of Construction, Southeast Asia, and published the first general guidelines for such standards. (Table 1) After several changes, an October 1966 revision to this directive prescribed three cantonment standards based on expected tenure of occupancy. These standards, which with minor modification were to prevail for the remainder of the conflict, were as follows:
Field: Category C-Cantonments for forces whose activities are such that they may be characterized as essentially transient. Occupancy less than two years. (Wood floors, tents, dirt roads, minimum essential requirement latrine facilities, and minimum utilities.)

Intermediate: Category B,-Cantonments for forces subject to move at infrequent intervals. Anticipated duration of occupancy: 2448 months. (Wood or concrete floors with tent frames, roofs, some paved roads, full electrical utilities, and minimum requirements for latrine facilities.)
Temporary: Category A-Cantonments for forces not expected to move in the foreseeable future. Occupancy over forty-eight months.
An annex to the regulation prescribed these standards for various types of facilities and provided for exceptions when approved by General Westmoreland.
Inasmuch as initial requirements for facilities were programed through separate service channels, different service philosophies were reflected in early requests to Congress. Congress approved program funds based on these philosophies. Once under construction, however, wide variations became very apparent, and considerable dissatisfaction arose among the troops, particularly those returning from the field. Initial attempts at standardization had the effect of lowering the standards of the Air Force and the Navy and raising those of the Army and the Marine Corps. As might be expected, these attempts were only partially successful.
It also became apparent that the permanency of a camp, particularly in areas where troop density was high, necessitated higher standards for water and sewer systems. The life expectancy of a facility or complex was also pertinent. The question was whether to build for one, five, or ten years. The degree of permanency had a major impact on maintenance and continuing operating costs.
The standards finally promulgated by General Westmoreland in October 1966 were believed to be sound in concept and broad enough to cover all requirement combinations of mission, permanency, and service philosophies. There was difficulty, however, in determining the standards of construction authorized for the base camp, because the base population varied in degrees of permanency. This was especially true in the major depot complexes and in division' base camps.
In application of these standards, a basic decision was required to determine the maximum level of comfort to be permitted and supported in the theater. In Vietnam "temporary" buildings were in many respects comparable in standards to mobilization structures built in the United States during World War II and still in use. Authorizing these standards in Vietnam meant that costs would average on the order of $3,000 per man.
The degree of permanency, once decided upon, would control uniformity in construction standards for all facilities in an area

regardless of service component. Ports, depots, air bases, and major hospitals would all have the same or similar standards. However, an example of the disparity in standards was the authorization of 1.5 kilowatts of electrical power per man at major bases. Although the industrial needs at air bases accounted for some differences, at most other facilities the standard was 0.7 kilowatts per man regardless of base requirements. Consequently, there was inadequate power at many Army facilities.
During and following World War II, the Navy had faced similar base building problems and had developed the Advanced Base Functional Component System (ABFCS). During the buildup in Vietnam, the Navy used many elements of that system. The Da Nang hospital was constructed almost entirely of quonset huts, which make up a large part of the system. However, the standards of the ABFCS were quite austere.
The Army's functional components system for base building was different from the Navy's concept. The Engineer Functional Components System (EFCS) consisted of data published in three technical manuals, TM 5-301, 5-302, and 5-303, which provided staff guidance, site and structure layout plans, construction details, and bills of materiel for the construction of buildings and facilities in the theater of operations.
The EFCS was based on a building-block concept and made up of items, equipages, and installations that could be combined as required to provide necessary facilities. The EFCS was intended as a basic planning guide for the construction of facilities in the theater of operations, and it was used to order approximately two-thirds of the construction materiel for Army troop construction programs. However, the EFCS proved to be unsatisfactory and its use was discontinued, because many required facilities were not included in the system, and the design criteria provided were not compatible with Vietnam requirements.
Unlike as in World War II and the Korean War, funding of base development in Vietnam was arranged through what is technically known as Military Construction, Army (MCA), which made use of mainly peacetime programing and budgetary procedures.
During earlier wars, worldwide construction and procurement of materiel for engineer troops were funded from the appropriation called Engineer Service, Army. Funding was in the nature of a bulk allotment and was not limited by authorization or appropriations for specific items or locations. This system was discontinued in fiscal year 1953. Since then procurement of materiel has been funded from the new Operations and Maintenance appropriation.

It was this fund that was used to a small extent for base construction in Vietnam, but its authority only provided for new construction projects with funded costs of less than $25,000 each or for maintenance and repairs of existing projects in larger amounts.
Whereas the Engineer Service, Army, and Operations and Maintenance funds permitted considerable flexibility, the military construction appropriation is extremely rigid and unsuited for rapidly changing conditions in the combat zone. The appropriation involves an orderly system which has evolved over the years to satisfy peacetime construction requirements. It requires complete construction plans and specifications and involves maximum visibility and tight controls to assure that the programs are followed. It provides for annual authorization and fundings for specific projects or line items and identified by locations or installations. Until 15 October 1966 the appropriation was also used to undertake urgent minor construction projects in Vietnam not exceeding $200,000 and those up to a maximum aggregate value of $10 million per year.
Normally the appropriation cycle takes three years for complete development. After programing, budgeting, and Congressional action, the authority to spend is established and finally construction may begin. This cyclic approach has built-in delays which, while not especially a handicap to peacetime construction in the United States, were extremely troublesome in Vietnam.
In a combat area, time is of the essence. Construction programing and scheduling in Vietnam were upset by a number of factors changes in operational plans, force levels, troop deployments and redeployments, enemy activity, soil conditions, site relocations, weather, and the availability of shipping. A paper work marathon ensued whenever a project was changed or introduced.
Congress and the Secretary of Defense agreed to certain modifications to adapt the system for support of operations in Vietnam. Requirements were incorporated in a separate Title of Authorization Act in which requirements of all three services were presented as a joint-requirements package. Authorization was requested of, and granted by, Congress as a lump-sum amount for each service in each act in order to provide maximum flexibility in spending.
The basis for each lump-sum authorization was a specific list of estimated requirements in terms of broad categories of facilities such as airfields, ports, hospitals, highways, and troop housing-all by locations. General Westmoreland was permitted to increase the amount of any account by up to 10 percent as long as the sum total of the over-all program was not exceeded. New procedures adopted in early 1967 doubled the number of categories and expanded the number of locations. Inasmuch as many separate projects had to be

listed, this system was too complex, involved too many people, and generated far too much paper for anyone's benefit. However, this new 1967 system was made to work.
Some difficulty was experienced in convincing everyone concerned of the continuing need for reprograming flexibility, particularly from mid-1966 on. In his instructions of February 1966, Secretary McNamara had permitted General Westmoreland to transfer program authorities without advance approval from one category to another, provided that funding allocated to a category was not increased by more than 10 percent. This degree of money shuffling was considered rather handy, because the 10 percent applied to categories which were rather large, such as cantonments, which in the 1966 supplemental appropriation was funded at $77.7 million. As time passed flexibility was reduced. Instead of the sixteen broad functional facility categories originally authorized, a conversion to the more numerous standard Defense Department facility categories was directed in January 1967. Starting with the 1967 Supplemental Program, a project had to be within the scope of work cited on a DD Form 1391, which closely paralleled the normal peacetime station listing of line items. The Commander, Military Assistance Command, retained project adjustment authority up to the larger of $50,000 or 10 percent of the facility category at a given location. Greater adjustments entailed OSD approval arid included notification of Congress for adjustments exceeding $1 million.
Funding for Army construction in Vietnam was provided through a series of regular, supplemental, reprograming, and emergency appropriations starting in fiscal year 1965. A list of appropriations for the fiscal years 1965-69 follows (Table 2):
Fiscal Year Type Appropriation In Thousands
1965     Regular     $ 15,454
1965     Supplemental     36,060
1966     Regular     30,189
1066     Amendment     35,942
1966     Supplemental     285,900
1966     Transfer, including MAP     138,386
1967     Supplemental     217,556
1968     Regular     31,424
1968     Contingency transfer     39,600
1968     Supplemental     16,400
1969     Regular     96,683
Total         $943,594

page created 15 December 2001

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