Chapter X: 

Worldwide Impact of Vietnam on Logistics Readiness

Impact on Active Army

The diversion of new production assets and withdrawal of equipment from the major Army commands in 1965-1966, to support high priority requirements in Southeast Asia, had a predictably adverse impact on the worldwide logistics readiness posture of the Army. For example, by June 1966, only 35 percent of Continental Army Command's active Army units were meeting logistics goals in equipment on hand and 25 percent were meeting equipment status goals. A similar posture existed in other commands. U.S Army Pacific (less U.S. Army Vietnam) had only 40 percent of the Active Army units meeting equipment on hand goals and 18 percent meeting equipment status goals. At the same time, U. S. Army South reported only 46 percent equipment on hand and 50 percent equipment status; U. S. Army Alaska reported 64 percent equipment on hand and 50 percent equipment status; and U. S. Army Europe reported 66 percent for equipment on hand and 50 percent equipment status. Similarly the majority of our major combat units outside of Vietnam were C-3, marginally ready; or C-4, not ready. For example, both the 2d and 7th Infantry Divisions in Korea were C-4.

Because of the ever-growing demands of combat, worldwide logistics readiness was not able to show substantial improvement during the next two years. In the latter part of 1968, the Army initiated an intensive management program, designed to overcome reported shortfalls. Procedures were established to intensively manage mission essential items required at unit level, working through each major command headquarters. These procedures provided pinpoint management of resources, refinement of unit authorizations and redistribution of assets. Readiness Improvement Programs, developed in conjunction with each command involved, are now a major element of the Logistics Offensive. In 1969 the intensive management procedures began to take effect as reductions in high priority requirements by the forces in Vietnam allowed the application of available assets to other commands.


The Army's logistic readiness posture has reflected almost continuous improvement worldwide since that time. During September 1970, the Army reached its highest levels in equipment on hand and equipment deployability since the drawdown for Southeast Asia began. During this period, over 90 percent of all reporting units met or exceeded logistic goals for equipment on hand, and 69 percent for equipment deployability. These levels were maintained throughout the remainder of fiscal year 1971 with only temporary fluctuations.

Impact on War Reserve Stocks, Operational Projects Stocks, and POMCUS Stocks

In addition to redistributing assets from units not in the combat zone, it was necessary to draw upon Pre-Positioned War Reserves, Operational Project Stocks, and POMCUS Stocks (Prepositioned Materiel configured to Unit Sets) in order to meet the unprogrammed requirements in Vietnam. War reserve stocks in the Pacific were used to support early deployments to Vietnam. Later there was a considerable drawdown worldwide to meet increased requirements for Southeast Asia.

In February 1966, to further increase assets available for use in Vietnam, Department of the Army instructed all major commands to make a special review (in addition to the regular annual review) of all their operational projects. Any materiel not absolutely essential would be made available to meet requirements in Vietnam. Equipment which had been configured in unit sets in the Western Pacific area was also included in this drawdown.

Full recovery from the drawdowns of these Pre-positioned War Reserves, POMCUS, and Operational Projects Stocks had not been achieved by mid-1971.

In March 1970, a study labeled PROJECT STRAT REQUIREMENT was initiated by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, to validate and recommend for revision, as necessary, methods and principles used in the determination of theater war reserve and automatic supply requirements. The purpose was to verify the accuracy of requirements determination, so that both prepositioned materiel overseas and post D-day automatic supply are responsive and effective in meeting the needs of combat forces in wartime. The study was completed in September 1970 with recommendations which, when fully implemented, will improve the range and quantity of items included in theater war reserves and automatic supply planning. Simultaneously with PROJECT STRAT REQUIREMENT, a special review of world-


wide operational projects was conducted. The main objective of this review was to revalidate command operational project requirements, eliminating stocks which were not truly mission essential. This review resulted in a reduction in requirements of $272,774,000. The study was approved by the Army Chief of Staff on 1 February 1971 and action has begun on the implementation of its recommendations.

Impact on Reserve Components

The Reserve Components suffered a major setback concerning receipt of modern equipment during the Army's buildup for the conduct of large scale operations in Vietnam. During the period fiscal years 1965-1968, the delivery of equipment to the Reserve Components was in token quantities because the limited supply was required to fill higher priority requirements. Deliveries during this four year period amounted to approximately $460 million. In addition to the inadequate equipment deliveries, the Reserve units were tapped as a source of equipment to be withdrawn and redistributed to active Army claimants. These withdrawals amounted to approximately $209 million. Major items withdrawn from the Reserve Components to fill urgent Vietnam requirements included over 200 aircraft, 460 40-mm guns, 50 M88 Recovery Vehicles, and approximately 650 3/4-Ton Vehicles. Since fiscal year 1966, Office of the Secretary of Defense has monitored and maintained approval authority of all equipment withdrawals from the Reserve Components to meet active Army requirements.

Chart 19 portrays the general impact that the Vietnam buildup had upon the Reserve Components. It displays by fiscal year the various inventory changes in billions of dollars. These changes reflect the value of equipment issued minus the value of obsolete equipment turned in. It is significant to note that during fiscal year 1964 the Reserve Component inventory was approximately $2.18 billion and because of the requirements generated by commitments in Southeast Asia, the inventory did not show improvement over the fiscal year 1964 level until mid fiscal year 1969.

The phasedown of U.S. operations in Southeast Asia permitted an accelerated delivery of equipment to the Reserve Components. Beginning in fiscal year 1969, equipment deliveries to the Reserve Components increased at a noticeable rate. Deliveries were valued at approximately $150 million in fiscal year 1969 and at $300 million in fiscal year 1970. As of the end of the 3d Quarter of fiscal year 1971, equipment valued at approximately $590 million had been allocated for delivery against an estimated allocation




of $600 million for the entire fiscal year. These deliveries have improved the equipment readiness of the Reserve Component units, but there still remains much to be done considering that the units have on hand about 61 percent of the equipment required for the conduct of effective premobilization training. Principal deliveries during fiscal year 1970 included a significant number of new tactical vehicles and radios, sufficient M14 and M16 rifles to permit the complete modernization of the Reserve Component rifle inventory, preferred aircraft including the CH-54 and UH-1D, and the first M60 tanks.

To further improve the equipment situation of the Reserve Components, Department of the Army in fiscal year 1971 developed a maintenance program which permits the Office of Reserve Components to select critically required items for overhaul and subsequent issue to the Reserve Component units. It is anticipated that during the fiscal years 1971-1974 equipment valued at $1 billion will be provided under this program. This will be in addition to new items issued under normal distribution programs.


page created 2 January 2003

Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online