Chapter IX:
Construction Logistics
The orderly time-phased buildup of logistics support with tactical operations, as envisioned in Army logistical doctrine, obviously did not occur in Vietnam. Moreover, there was no meaningful consumption or other experience data upon which to base support estimates. Nevertheless, the effective support of combat operations was mandatory, and this meant an influx of mammoth quantities of supplies of every description well before the availability of either a logistic base or an adequate logistical organization. A system of "push" supply was developed as an expedient, with supplies literally pushed into the theater on a best estimate basis until such time as normal supply procedures could be established. Consequently, the logistic base was literally engulfed in a sea of supply which would clog both storage areas and supply machinery for years afterward. Even as late as 1968 the ill-fated corner of Long Binh Post known as Area 208 could accurately be described as a disaster area. To further complicate matters, supply not only arrived in the wrong mix and quantities but often arrived at the wrong place. The fluidity of the tactical situation and a lack of supply and transport control resulted in the depositing of tons of material hundreds of miles from the intended customer.
The logistics establishment in Vietnam in 1964 was minimal, at least relative to later requirements, and highly fragmented. It actually consisted of some sixteen different systems which developed in a more or less hit-and-miss fashion with co-ordination accomplished essentially by informal working agreements. This conglomerate structure supported the contingents of six nations: the United States, South Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, the Republic of the Philippines, and the Republic of China. The Republic of Vietnam provided some support, while the United States provided food, individual equipment, administrative transportation, hospitalization, and maintenance and repair parts support. This of course excluded the input of military supply and equipment for the Vietnamese Army, which was accomplished through the military advisory structure.
No one organization had full responsibility for logistics support,

which was provided largely on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Headquarters Support Activity, Saigon, and the MACV headquarters commandant operated parallel supply lines in support of U.S. advisers until 1966. Four different systems furnished repairs, and each of the services had its own medical supply system operating on a "stovepipe" basis to CONUS. Certain services, such as port shipper functions, and a so-called logistics co-ordinator were assigned to each of the corps tactical zones. However, even his functions were limited to billeting, mess operation, generator repair, and the like.
With the continued growth of American and other contingents, it became apparent that this minimal and fragmented logistics support system would not work and that a general overhaul was needed. The logical approach was seen as focusing support as much as possible within a single command, and in the latter part of 1964 Military Assistance Command proposed that an Army Logistical Command be introduced into the country. At least major functions could be combined under a single command, reducing duplication, ensuring co-ordination and control, and thus providing better logistical support. The 1st Logistical Command, then at Fort Hood, Texas, was designated to fill this role. The command was originally activated in May 1965, with an authorized headquarters strength of 329 personnel. The enormous expansion of the 1st Logistical Command's responsibilities was reflected in the size of the organization in mid-1969. At that time the command's strength was approximately 50,000 military and 30,000 civilian personnel, and it supported over half a million U.S. and other Free World forces in Vietnam. However, the evolution of the logistics system resulted from continual command and management problems inherent in providing logistical support to all U.S. and Free World contingents.
From 1965 to 1966, the sixteen different support systems managed by separate services were pulled together. The command would manage all logistics and support functions for the Army except for aviation supply and maintenance support and engineer construction.
Development, consolidation, and refinement continued into 1967. The logistics structure of the earlier years was modified to provide more intensive management in key areas. Engineer facilities engineering was placed under the newly formed U.S. Army Engineer Construction Agency, Vietnam. Port and depot development continued and were highlighted by the completion of Newport, the modern military port facility built on the Saigon River at the cost of over $50 million. Modern computer equipment was installed in the 14th Inventory Control Center to attempt to bring some order out of the supply chaos in the depot stock inventory. The major

problem encountered was the tremendous influx of supplies which went over the beaches and through the ports flooding the depots under a massive sea of matériel and equipment much of which was later found to be unneeded. Push supplies and duplicate requisitions of thousands of tons of cargo piled up in the depots, unrecorded and essentially lost to the supply system. In the latter part of 1967, control was slowly established over the requisitioning system through the use of automation; the flow of unneeded supplies abated somewhat.
The 14th Inventory Control Center, Vietnam, was deployed in December 1965 and was later equipped with third generation computer equipment to manage USARV's total depot assets. Special projects were established to comb through all the depots to identify, count, and pick up stock assets which had lost their supply identity during the "push" period. Thousands of tons of supplies and matériel were identified, permitting the cancellation of millions of dollars worth of requisitions. Still more thousands of tons of supplies were returned to offshore depots for redistribution. The fundamental deficiency was in the gross inadequacy of the management information system. While many logistic deficiencies were the natural result of human errors made under pressure, the majority could be ultimately traced to a lack of timely, accurate, well analyzed, and well co-ordinated logistics intelligence. The information system, from bottom echelon to top and back, was essentially a horse and buggy rig applied to a fantastic array of data. It depended for the most part upon the manual development of input data, transmitted by telephone, liaison officer, or written reports; it was a laborious manual affair. Finally, hand-annotated charts were prepared and presented to the commander by Vu-Graph display. Harvesting and analyzing masses of presumably "real time" data through these procedures are akin to nailing jelly to the wall with sometimes similar results.
The major problems in defining construction needs in Vietnam had resulted from an inadequate planning capability in the Army and Navy components of the Military Assistance, Command headquarters. Makeshift staffs were forced to plan while elsewhere other plans were already afoot. Confusion and delays resulted. Many of the largest installations, originally established for no more than initial homesteads, grew from very small bases. Comprehensive long-range planning was made more difficult by the continued incremental increase in force size and structure, which only further added to logistics headaches.
The data published in Technical Manuals 5-301, 5-302, and 5-303 was originally gathered to provide base planning information.

These manuals represented a compilation of staff guidance for ordering and constructing installations and individual facilities in the theater of operations. Collectively known as the Engineer Functional Components System, or EFCS, the information was compiled to make base building a rather simple task. The data available in these three technical manuals could be used in either of two ways. Individual buildings or facilities could be constructed using the plans provided and ordering material from the bills of material found in the last volume, or an entire installation could be ordered by placing a single requisition in the supply system.
Since all the structures in the EFCS were wooden and designed for a temperate as opposed to a tropical climate, if individual structures were built using the plans and bills of material provided with certain modifications-everything went well. Certain items would not be ordered, and other federal stock numbers would be used to order slightly different materials. For example, tar paper for roofing would be replaced with corrugated steel roofing, and more screening would have to be ordered for a tropical hut. However, if the material for an entire installation were ordered by requesting that installation by number on only one requisition, an entire bill of materials including insulation, roofing felt, and tar paper would arrive. And how this bulk construction material
PICTURE - VIETNAMESE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS erect a tropicalized hut at Tan Son Nhut.
VIETNAMESE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS erect a tropicalized hut at Tan Son Nhut.

arrived was an entirely different matter. The palletized lumber, crates of nails, and electrical and plumbing fixtures were shipped by the Army Materiel Command. Lumber for one project looks like lumber for any other project. Needless to say, many facilities were diverted before they ever became facilities. Identification of construction matériel assets was a problem of considerable magnitude. Materials identified by federal stock numbers did not present a problem and were managed as provided for by current supply directives. However, bulk construction buys, especially electrical and plumbing supplies and other special purpose procurement items, were identified by special project codes and consisted of items which were not, in approximately 60 percent of the total, identified by federal stock numbers. Shipments were made up of several packages placed inside a large crate which in turn was identified with a three letter project code. In some instances the crates were stored by project code, and the individual items were never recorded on stock record cards. In other instances the crates were opened, and each item was stored according to either federal. stock number or federal supply class without regard to project code or funding source. Those items which were not identified by a federal stock number were assigned a depot number for storage and identification purposes. Unfortunately, in most instances each depot assigned a different number to the same item, and any attempt at accomplishing a total inventory of nonstock numbered. items was doomed to failure.
Construction materials for use in I Corps Tactical Zone were supplied, with few exceptions, by the U.S. Navy. Materials for II, III, and IV Corps Tactical Zones were stored in four depots located at Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh Bay, Long Binh, and Vung Tau. Each of these depots had an engineer construction materials yard operated by civilian contractors. Bulk purchase assets were, in general, distributed with approximately 25 percent to Qui Nhon, 26 percent to Cam Ranh Bay, 33 percent to Long Binh, and 16 percent to Vung Tau. Army Operations and Maintenance (OMA) assets were stored according to demand experience or in forecast amounts for each individual depot. Certain items such as lumber, asphalt products, and cement were stored and issued under the common stockpile concept to increase supply flexibility and materiel availability. These items were stored in a common location at each depot and issued according to immediate requirements without regard to funding sources.
Accountability for construction material assets in storage depots was a responsibility of the 1st Logistical Command. Construction assets received for storage were entered on an account for the item in question. Receiving engineer construction units were required

to charge issued materials against an approved construction directive and report material consumption as completed work "in place." Operations and Maintenance construction materials were accounted for in much the same manner except that materials were accounted for by completed individual job order requests. Errors in accounting procedures were common. Improper identification of incoming shipments, manual errors in posting stock records, cancellation of projects before completion with assets diverted to other projects of higher priority, inability of units to return unused assets to depot stocks, and the absence of a uniform inventory control system at all levels resulted in questionable over-all accounting for construction materials. Accountability and balances were maintained on separate stock record cards. The concept provided for loaning assets to either account, when required to prevent work stoppage, and repayment in kind when "due-in" assets were received.
When adequate stocks were available in the supporting storage depot and the stock records indicated an asset's availability, requisitioning units experienced excellent supply response. If, however, the supporting depot was out of stock and its records indicated assets due in, the requesting unit could expect not to have its requirements satisfied from available stocks located in another depot. The passing of unfilled construction material requisitions to the Inventory Control Center for referral to other depots was considered an exception to normal practice. One program, Construction Materials-Special Handling, operated by the 1st Logistical Command, was successful in reducing procurement lead time provided only that the required materials were air transportable.
By late 1966 use of the Engineer Functional Components System was discontinued. The system had been found unsatisfactory for providing mat,6riel support on a long-term basis, design criteria were incompatible with theater demands, and building and maintenance forecasts were not possible. The predicting of requirements for construction materials involved a summation of materials required to complete programed construction based on projected manpower and equipment resources, and this was not provided for in the Engineer Functional Components System.
Requests for materials required for new construction projects were based on estimated construction projects for a given six- to twelve-month period. Requests were submitted to the 1st Logistical Command in the form of Construction Material Requirement Letters, which were used for bulk procurement and to assign material storage at preselected depots in specified quantities. Bulk material purchase requests valued at $45 million were submitted between

July 1967 and May 1968. This amount was not, however, anywhere near the sum of construction material expenses.
Operating and maintenance budgets and funds were usually determined by 1st Logistical Command based on data as it accumulated at mat,6riel storage depots. Wide demand fluctuations, however, forced 1st Logistical Command to resort to forecasting for future requirements. Demands for cement, asphalt, bridge timbers, and structural steel generally defied prediction.
Once in the country, construction assets, with certain exceptions, were placed on the list of command-controlled items to provide some measure of intensified management. Requisitioning procedures were developed wherein each requisition was to be annotated with the appropriate construction directive number and account coding before the storage depot would honor the document. Operating and maintenance assets were not placed under any type of special control. They were ordered, received, stored, and issued in accordance with current basic supply regulations. Control of issues was not very effective in that the authority to requisition and quantities involved were based primarily on the honesty of the requisitioner.
Identifying and segregating materials for purposes of fund accounting in an active theater is almost impossible, and if accounting must be done it should be done at the procuring agency level. Accountability for all funded materials and installed equipment should have ceased with their shipment from CONUS or the country where they were purchased. Instead, identification of construction material assets became a problem of increasing magnitude. Materials identified by federal stock number did not present a problem, but because of the type of construction going on, about 60 percent of the total,,, items were not covered by stock numbers. Since each depot had created its own accounting system for these items, no over-all correlation of accounting was possible. Depots receiving requisitions for an out-of-stock item placed the requisitions on back order without referral to other depots where the stocks might be available.
In 1969 Major General Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., Commanding General, 1st Logistical Command, had occasion to report:
We have massed at one time in Vietnam far too many thousands of tons of construction supplies to meet requirements of the construction program. It has been push requisitioned in terms of complete programs or to cover R&U requirements covering many months ahead. Thus the logistic system has become bogged down with supplies far greater than the immediate requirement necessitated. (A good example of this is the fact that we at one time had over two years' supply of M8A1 matting-this equaled approximately 180,000 short tons that were stored in our three major depots). This unnecessarily increases security requirements.

The combat zone is not the place to store equipment and supplies that are not essential . . . .
If there was an overabundance of construction materials in Vietnam at any time, the oversupply of repair parts was more of a problem than an asset. Parts were often lost somewhere in the supply system. The nonsupply of repair parts for construction equipment continued to account for two-thirds of the not operationally ready (NOR) rate. Worldwide, the NOR rate for construction equipment is 25 percent, of this parts supply (NORS) accounts for 16 percent and maintenance (NORM) for 9 percent. The NOR rate in Vietnam was worse during the early stages of the war for a wide variety of reasons.
Compared to other Army equipment, engineer machinery has a tremendously high rate of use. Nearly all construction units in
PICTURE - D-7 TRACTOR working a borrow pit.
D-7 TRACTOR working a borrow pit.

Vietnam operated on a two-shift schedule, approximately twenty hours a day. While tanks may operate three or four hours a day, a D-7 tractor may be run twenty hours with little time out for maintenance. In order to keep the engineer equipment deadline rate at an acceptable low, a sizable maintenance reserve or "float" was required. The punishing environment in Vietnam, however, forced the number of items in the float to be raised as high as 30 percent of the total item assets.
Contributing to the maintenance problem was the high equipment density. For example, a light equipment company augmented each combat engineer battalion. This was quite a bit in excess of what had previously been considered normal. While the equipment augmentation was most helpful and desirable, it saturated the direct support maintenance people with work. On the other hand, the construction battalions had organic direct support maintenance capabilities. We have found that it is essential to have a similar capability if maintenance backlogs are to be avoided.
Since the prescribed load list, or the combat essential supplies and parts needed to sustain a unit in combat for at least fifteen days, is made up on the basis of experience, "demand" repair parts items usually constitute the greater part of the load list. But many engineer battalions were activated and deployed before they could develop demand data. Almost the same was true of maintenance units. Their authorized stockage lists were based on the equipment the unit supported. The repair parts stock level for each piece of equipment must be developed on the basis of prescribed items and demand-supported items. At least one direct support unit was deployed to Vietnam without its authorized stockage lists because no information was available on the equipment to be supported. This particular unit was ineffective for about a year. Subsequently, arrangements were made to furnish direct support units with parts for equipment known to have been shipped to Vietnam, thereby assuring at least a basic stock and permitting the theater to redistribute assets as necessary.
Resupply of parts was based essentially on a "purchase as needed" basis, since theater stocks were minimal. The low demand for individual construction equipment parts left many of these parts ineligible for stockage, and therefore they were not in depot stocks when requisitioned. Parts delivery lead times of six months to a year were not uncommon.
Maintenance difficulties were further caused by shortages of skilled mechanics and the locations of maintenance support units. Other problems were caused by the need to evacuate heavy construction equipment from jungle areas, requirements for heavy

trailers, movement only by convoy, unexpected damage peculiar to jungle operations: radiator piercing, oil-pan rupture, and burned out engines. These problems were made worse by the many commissioned and noncommissioned officers who were not adequately trained in equipment maintenance. Problems were further aggravated by some officers who achieved low deadline rates through inadequate repair; lick and promise maintenance was good enough. In order to assist troop commanders, the USARV Engineer Command directed its brigades to start command maintenance management inspection teams and to establish both readiness assistance teams and a school for unit supply clerks.
Nearly $16 million worth of commercial construction equipment had been purchased with new construction funds in 1969 to hasten the construction and upgrading of more than 4,000 kilometers of Vietnamese highways. Contractor response in providing off-the-shelf equipment was more rapid than that experienced in the normal procurement of standard military items. Since most of this equipment was new to the Army, the contract provided that factory representatives would prepare the equipment for use and conduct operator training programs. A separate contract was awarded for civilian support to maintain the equipment, which included procurement of repair parts.
The concept of introducing commercial equipment into the Army in the field proved feasible in spite of some minor problems. For example, it was still exceedingly difficult to procure repair parts for nonstandard equipment. The procedure was to submit these repair parts requests to 1st Logistical Command for purchasing and contracting in CONUS and offshore procurement areas. There was no backup maintenance support for repair or repair parts of engineer nonstandard equipment beyond user level. The problems of special tools, and special repair and operator techniques, as well as additional requirements for operators and maintenance personnel for all echelons of repair remained.
To remedy the supply repair parts situation, a program called Red Ball Express was started in December of 1965 for all service equipment. It was originally designed to expedite the supply of repair parts for deadlined combat essential equipment; however, the program was later expanded to provide parts for equipment which was on the brink of maintenance failure. Red Ball provided the highest priority available for supply requisitioning and in that respect could be used to measure the effectiveness and performance of routine requisitioning procedures.
The initiator of the requisition assigned a document number to his requisition which was maintained throughout the system.

PICTURE - REPAIR PARTS .FOR NONSTANDARD EQUIPMENT like this rock crusher caused a continual logistics problem.
REPAIR PARTS .FOR NONSTANDARD EQUIPMENT like this rock crusher caused a continual logistics problem.
This number was unique for Red Ball requisitions in that the document serial number was always in the 6,000 series. Thus, Red Ball requisitions were easily identifiable as the most urgent of requisitions. Since all requisitions were processed identically by machines, the Red Ball requisitions stood out in priority groupings.
The Logistics Control Office, Pacific, located at Fort Mason, California, controlled all requisitions. In addition to providing a positive control over Red Ball requisitions and ensuring prompt action on items affecting operational readiness, Red Ball procedures facilitated compilation of data in a form which was extremely useful to managers at all levels in that specific problems were highlighted.
Because there were so many nonmilitary items in use at the inception of the Red Ball system, requisitions by part number rather than federal stock number accounted for one-third of all requisitions received. This problem was significantly reduced. During the period April through June 1969, part number requisitions represented 8 percent of the total, or 3,289, individual requisitions. However, further analysis of these 3,289 items provided insight into more specific problem areas.
Both divisional and nondivisional engineer units experienced critical shortages of authorized equipment, particularly for earth

moving, compaction, and water and asphalt distribution. Since the units were short authorized items, the maintenance float system for backup support was not developed for numerous essential construction items of equipment, with the result that the full construction potential of engineer units was not realized. These shortages can be attributed to loss of replacement requisitions somewhere between the using units and CONUS; lack of reconciliation between theater assets and assets as reflected by Army agencies; inadequate replacement factors; and the restrictions on the equipment purchase budget.
It is axiomatic that requirements for materials to support combat operations will tend to have priority over those needed for base development; however, a balanced receipt of both is required in any theater of war. In many cases in Vietnam, scarce items of construction materials were diverted from base development projects to support fire base and heliport construction. However, the large quantities of construction materials shipped into Vietnam during 1965 to 1967 alleviated much of the competition between claimants for combat support and service support. Not until a high-volume flow of construction materials was achieved could the constraint on base development be relieved.
The manner in which the fuel problem was finally solved aptly demonstrates the frustration inherent in Vietnamese construction logistics. If we consider that petroleum is one of the indispensable items without which a modern army cannot function, the confusion and waste inherent in the fuel supply problem should show what efforts were involved in support of the most essential construction.
At the beginning of 1965, the U.S. military had a limited petroleum logistic support capability in Vietnam. Three international oil companies, Esso, Shell, and Caltex, provided for virtually the entire oil supply system in Vietnam. Coastal, inland waterway, and overland transportation of bulk products, drummed fuels, and packaged lubricants were all provided by commercial suppliers. The contractors made all deliveries, including those to remote areas, although the facilities of these three companies were mainly situated at Nha Be, nine miles south of Saigon.
The contractor method of providing support had worked simply because U.S. military forces were in an advisory role. Total petroleum requirements were small and could be met through the use of existing commercial facilities. Before 1965 the small U.S. military orders in Southeast Asia were delivered in retail quantities, often in 55-gallon drums, to various locations in the field. Military requirements rose gradually from year to year until 1966. Through 1965 only a moderate expansion of commercial facilities was neces-

sary to handle the slight increase in military requirements. During 1965, however, orders rose abruptly. It became necessary to decide on a course of action. Should we continue commercial support through the commercial distribution system, construct military storage, or use a combination of these?
At the time of the force buildup, the total oil and fuel storage in Vietnam amounted to approximately 1.6 million barrels, which was virtually all commercial. Approximately 80 percent of the storage was at the main terminals at Nha Be, 12 percent was at Da Nang, and the remainder was at other locations throughout Vietnam. None of these facilities could take on a fully loaded tanker. Nha Be, situated on a river, some thirty-six miles from the coast, had a draft limitation of twenty-six to twenty-seven feet. As a result, Nha Be had to be supplied by special shallow-draft tankers or by T-2 tankers loaded only to about 80 percent capacity. In the Da Nang area, installations at Lien Chieu had a draft of twenty-three feet and Nai Hon had a draft of fourteen feet. Lien Chieu could unload vessels of T-1 size, but Nai Hon could handle only barges that shuttled loads from tankers anchored in Da Nang Bay. Small terminals, such as Qui Nhon on the coast and Can Tho, Vinh Long, and Go Vap on inland waterways, were supplied by barge from Nha Be.
Initial military support was provided by assault equipment. In the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, this equipment consisted primarily of 10,000-gallon collapsible tanks, 4-inch rubber hose, and 350-gallon-per-minute pumps. The Army and Navy also used buoyant and bottom-laid pipelines for ship-to-shore transfer into assault storage tanks. This equipment was designed, however, for the assault phase of an operation and should have normally been replaced as the operations area moved inland.
Of primary importance to Air Force operations were the R-1 portable hydrant fueling systems, which were 50,000-gallon collapsible tanks capable of servicing two aircraft at the rate of 300 gallons per Minute. In January 1965, twenty-five of these systems were in Air Force inventories throughout the world. As operations in Vietnam expanded, they were all committed in Southeast Asia.
Early in 1965, evidence clearly pointed to the eventual exhaustion of commercial capabilities in the area. Although industry was expanding moderately, the expansion would not be sufficient to meet the additional needs of the military. Additional action was therefore necessary to provide the required support capability. Early in 1965 the policy for Vietnam called for continued reliance on commercial support. Admiral Felt hoped that under this policy industry would construct additional petroleum facilities in Vietnam

for military purposes. To encourage civilian efforts, the Defense Fuel Supply Center issued on 17 May 1965 a request for proposals. Replies were not responsive for two reasons. Commercial storage already in being was far more than adequate for any foreseeable civilian demand after the end of hostilities, and the economic and physical hazards involved limitations for expansion. In view of these unattractive features, industry was reluctant to invest more in POL facilities.
In July 1965 Admiral Sharp, the new Commander in Chief, Pacific, recognizing the limitations of commercial support and the necessity for augmenting or replacing the commercial system, made specific assignments of responsibilities for support to the component commands. The Army was assigned support responsibility south of the Chu Lai area-this assignment covered the II, III, and IV Corps areas. The Navy was assigned support responsibility from Chu Lai to the Demilitarized Zone. The Air Force was assigned support responsibilities at airfields primarily designated for Air Force use.
Facilities ashore were so limited that floating storage was required during the early stages of the buildup. Continuation of this expensive practice was unfortunately necessary. Most of the problem was directly related to a lack of adequate American-owned or American-controlled bulk fuel storage. Because of the lack of adequate military storage, reliance was placed on a commercial-military system. The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Commander, Service Forces, Pacific, recognized the problem and gave the highest priority to remedial construction and therefore diverted still more engineers. In 1965 the limited military permanent storage tanks in Vietnam were actually owned by the Vietnamese Air Force, and through local arrangements at Da Nang and Bien Hoa they were operated by the U.S. Air Force in support of all forces at those bases.
When the decision was made to provide a petroleum support capability in Vietnam, construction of storage facilities was controlled to the same extent as other Military Construction. program projects and was subject to established policy and guidance. Storage was designed to augment or, if necessary, replace the existing commercial system. As the consumption of petroleum increased in Vietnam, the Army and Navy built semipermanent steel tankage for storage areas while the Air Force did the same for air bases. Initial storage was constructed to replace collapsible bladders at Da Nang, Chu Lai, Qui Nhon, An Khe, Tuy Hoa, Phan Rang, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, Long Binh, and Can Tho. From late 1965 through 1966, military steel tankage and pipelines were constructed, at all these areas as well as at Pleiku, Vung Ro Bay, Phan Thiet, and Soc Trang. The construction at Cam Ranh Bay was in

PICTURE - BLADDER FUEL CELLS lie in sandbag revetments at the Cam Ranh POL facility.
BLADDER FUEL CELLS lie in sandbag revetments at the Cam Ranh POL facility.
line with plans to make that location a major military redistribution facility. The primary source of semipermanent tankage became the 10,000-barrel-capacity bolted steel tanks in the inventory of the Navy Advanced Base Functional Component System. The Navy released 127 of these tanks to the Army and Air Force for use in Vietnam and Thailand.
The services did not have enough organic equipment or trained construction personnel to satisfy the heavy demand for constructing the needed port facilities, storage complexes, and distribution systems. Therefore, each to varying degrees had to rely on contractors to provide these facilities and systems.
By July 1966, U.S. forces were operating at more than fifty locations throughout Vietnam. Only twenty of those locations had a bulk fuel storage capability. The others used packaged stocks because requirements were small enough or because there was a lack of bulk fuel storage equipment.
In October 1966 the joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out the need to construct more petroleum product storage facilities in Vietnam, stating that a storage capacity equal to thirty days' usage plus 10 percent would provide an average of about twenty days' supply on hand and that to maintain any semblance of a thirty-day level of stocks on hand about fifty days of storage capacity would be required. The storage situation in Vietnam was the subject of several messages between the joint Chiefs of Staff and Admiral Sharp from

October 1966 to February 1967. Agreement was finally reached on a total construction goal of 4.4 million barrels of storage. While the differences in storage policy were being discussed, the military construction program for MACV never scheduled storage for more than 3.3 million barrels.
Shell Oil Company increased its petroleum complex at Da Nang with a mooring for T-5 tankers, 125,000 barrels of storage, and a

pipeline connected with the military pipeline to the air base at Marble Mountain. After negotiations and construction delays, the facility at Da Nang was ready for operation by 1 January 1967. In the I Corps Tactical Zone, construction of tankage at Tan My was completed in 1967, and the Naval Support Activity assumed operation of the facility on 15 December 1967.
Since the demand continued to grow, storage capacity requirements continued to change, but actual storage capacity never reached planned for levels at most locations. Da Nang, with thirty-five days' storage, was the only major complex to equal or exceed the thirty-three days of storage desired by Admiral Sharp. Monthly consumption of oil products increased from 500,000 barrels per month in July 1965 to a high of more than 3 million barrels per month in 1968 while military storage rose to more than 2.6 million barrels. In the absence of sufficient permanent storage tanks, collapsible tanks (primarily 10,000-, 20,000-, and 50,000-gallon capacity) proved to be effective and highly useful. By October 1969 over $27 million worth of collapsible bladders had been shipped to Vietnam.
Since pipeline movement of fuel and oil was more efficient and
PICTURE - FUEL PIPELINES stretched 270 miles through Vietnam.
FUEL PIPELINES stretched 270 miles through Vietnam.

economical than highway transport when an area was secure enough for its use, a military construction program was undertaken, and by 1968 over 270 miles of pipeline were in use throughout Vietnam. (Map 11) However, commercial facilities in Vietnam remained vulnerable to the enemy. Particularly exposed to hostile action were the large commercial POL facilities at Nha Be near Saigon which, because of their contiguous locations, were particularly subject to the spread of fire and widespread damage by explosion. Tanker access facilities were also in jeopardy. Lien Chieu, across Da Nang Bay some eight miles northwest of the city and the second largest POL facility in early 1965, was very vulnerable to the enemy. It was the first of the commercial facilities to be badly damaged by the enemy when, in August 1965, he destroyed 60 percent of the tank-
Location Storage Capacity
Thousands Of Barrels
Number And Capacity
Of Tanks In Place 
Thousands Of Barrels
In-Line Pump Capacity
Incoming Pipelines Number, DIA, (Inches), Length (Miles)
Under Cons-
Dong Ha 3.0     5-10 18,000 1,6,5
Quang Tri 59.0     3-3 18,000 1,6,20
Hue         36,000 2,6,7
Phu Bai 6.0         18.0   2-3 18,000 1,6,11
Camp Evans         18,000 1,6,18
Duc Pho 16.0     5-3
Phu Cat (AFB)         18,000 1,6,20
Pleiku 59.0     3-3 18,000 1,6,53
An Khe 69.0     5-10
18,000 2,4,0.5
Qui Nhon 324.0     3-50
145,740 1,6,17.2
Tuy Hoa 13.0     4-3
Nha Trang 72.0     6-10
Dalat   4.5        
Cam Ranh Bay 172


Phan Rang   6.0   2-3 43,000 1,6,11
Tay Ninh 9.0     3-3    
Dau Tieng 1.5     3-0.5 18,000 1,6,20
Phan Thiet 7.5     8-10

Long Bien 86.0       57,000
Long Bien (Power Plant) (Vinnell) 12.0       8,000 1,4,2
Phu Loi     9.0      
New Port     10.0   38,000 2,6,1.5
Vung Tau 250.0     3-50
Dong Tam 12.0     4-3
Vinh Long 9.0     2-3
Can Tho Binh Thuy 3.0   15.0 3-1    
Soc Trang 2.5   6.0 2-1

age. Since that time, there have been a number of attacks on commercial facilities including those at Nha Be, Tan Son Nhut, Qui Nhon, and Lien Chieu. The most significant losses amounted to $8.5 million at the Shell Nha Be Terminal. (Table 4)
Certainly early project planning is mandatory for logistics support, but when full planning for logistics is impossible-and not every contingency can be foreseen-backup programs should be available. To satisfy requirements like these and situations like Vietnam; the Department of Defense must maintain a prestructured base development planning group organized and staffed with experts that can respond far in advance of troop deployments. There must be specialists in electric power generation and distribution, port and airfield construction, POL storage and distribution, all areas of construction technology, and construction materials and equipment. If such a group had been available at the outset of the Vietnam buildup, some of the confusion in planning for base development logistics early in 1965 could have been avoided.
Technically, under current Army organization and supply doctrine, the engineer has no direct responsibility at the "wholesale" and procurement level of supply other than to forecast requirements for nonrecurring construction. In practice, the engineers in Vietnam, out of necessity, became heavily involved in supply, in that they assisted depots sorting and identifying engineer items, traced and expedited requisitions, and reviewed operations and maintenance and new construction matériel requirements. This was necessary when bulk shipments of literally thousands of tons of engineer matériel were pushed into the country. Control and management of these supplies were overwhelming, and there was a definite need for tighter control.
Only the hard-surfaced highways in Vietnam could be used as main supply routes all year round, and they were constantly mined by the enemy. Until the jungle could be cleared along the sides of the roads, ambushes were frequent. Secondary roads were passable only in the dry season. Consequently, a heavy burden was placed on engineer units in moving construction materials into inland bases. In any future conflict in underdeveloped countries, land-clearing equipment, mine detectors, and road construction equipment should be introduced with the first deployments. There can be no construction until the logistics problems are licked.

page created 15 December 2001

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