Cover: Logistic Support

Logistic Support

Lieutenant General Joseph M. Heiser, Jr.


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 72-600389
First Printed 1974

CMH Pub 90-15   

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402


The United States Army has met an unusually complex challenge in Southeast Asia. In conjunction with the other services, the Army has fought in support of a national policy of assisting an emerging nation to develop governmental processes of its own choosing, free of outside coercion. In addition to the usual problems of waging armed conflict, the assignment in Southeast Asia has required superimposing the immensely sophisticated tasks of a modern army upon an underdeveloped environment and adapting them to demands covering a wide spectrum. These involved helping to fulfill the basic needs of an agrarian population, dealing with the frustrations of antiguerrilla operations, and conducting conventional campaigns against well-trained and determined regular units.

Although this assignment has officially ended, the U.S. Army must prepare for other challenges that may lie ahead. While cognizant that history never repeats itself exactly and that no army ever profited from trying to meet a new challenge in terms of the old one, the Army nevertheless stands to benefit immensely from a study of its experience, its shortcomings no less than its achievements.

Aware that some years must elapse before the official histories will provide a detailed and objective analysis of the experience in Southeast Asia, we have sought a forum whereby some of the more salient aspects of that experience can be made available now. At the request of the Chief of Staff, a representative group of senior officers who served in important posts in Vietnam and who still carry a heavy burden of day-to-day responsibilities has prepared a series of monographs. These studies should be of great value in helping the Army develop future operational concepts while at the same time contributing to the historical record and providing the American public with an interim report on the performance of men and officers who have responded, as others have through our history, to exacting and trying demands.

All monographs in the series are based primarily on official records, with additional material from published and unpublished secondary works, from debriefing reports and interviews with key participants, and from the personal experience of the author.


To facilitate security clearance, annotation and detailed bibliography have been omitted from the published version; a fully documented account with bibliography is filed with the Office of the Chief of Military History.

The reader should be reminded that most of the writing was accomplished while the war in Vietnam was at its peak, and the monographs frequently refer to events of the past as if they were taking place in the present.

The author of this monograph, Lieutenant General Joseph M. Heiser, Jr., has been engaged in planning and directing logistical support to the U.S. Army soldier, other U.S. Services, and the Armed Forces of Allied Nations since his commissioning as an officer in the Ordnance Corps in 1943. Having served in the Southern Base Sector Command of the European Theater of Operations from 1943 to 1945, he became a staff officer of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. He later served as the Executive Officer of the Ordnance School and Division Ordnance Officer, 7th Infantry Division, Korea. He was designated Commanding General, U.S. Communications Zone Europe in 1965. He then became, successively, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff Logistics (Supply and Maintenance), Headquarters, Department of the Army, Commanding General of the 1st Logistical Command, Vietnam, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics of the U.S. Army.

Washington, D. C. 
15 December 1972
Major General USA 
The Adjutant General



During World War II, Admiral Ernest J. King is alleged to have said, "I don't know what the hell this logistics is that Marshall is always talking about, but I want some of it." It's pretty well known that before that war ended, everyone knew in general terms what it was that General Marshall was talking about and that Admiral King had plenty of it.

Knowing in general terms what logistics means is not enough. The purpose of this monograph is to relate in specific terms what logisticians did and how they did it in supporting combat forces in Vietnam. Not only were American soldiers supported, but at the height of hostilities, in addition to U.S. Forces, the U.S. Army in Vietnam also provided support to the military forces of the governments of South Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and other allied countries.

Probably the best balanced assessment of logistics support in Southeast Asia is provided in the final report by the Military Operations Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives (Holifield Committee) wherein, after approximately four years of surveillance of supply support in Southeast Asia by Congress and the Government Accounting Office, it was reported that, ". . . supply support in Vietnam has been a truly remarkable achievement, but the question must be asked, did it entail unnecessary, hence avoidable, costs? . . ." The Army, in cooperation with Congress, the Government Accounting Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the other military services, began a program called the Logistics Offensive (so named by General Abrams, the Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in early 1969) to immediately reduce the cost of providing logistics support and yet increase combat effectiveness. This program is a continuing one and up through September 1972, has yielded benefits estimated at 9.3 billion dollars. Of this total, 6.9 billion dollars have directly impacted on the preparation of the Army's budget submissions. The difference is considered to be a bonus, taking into account reduced requirements for facilities, personnel, equipment, transportation, and utilities to support a more efficient logistic system. These savings have been accompanied with dramatic increases in logistics readi-


ness for that part of the Army not in Vietnam. Based upon unit reports, equipment on hand increased 44 percent from fiscal year 1968 to fiscal year 1972, while equipment deployability, or operability, increased 41 percent during the same time period. In addition, the fine logistics support of the forces in Vietnam was maintained.

In most human endeavors, history shows a mixture of good and bad results. Combat support of Vietnam is certainly no exception. As Congress noted, supply support has been a remarkable achievement. Also among the good are many overlooked facets, including the unpublicized constructive efforts which contrast with the publicized destructive ones. For example, construction efforts by U.S. servicemen on behalf of the Vietnamese in 1968 and 1969 include:

Schools     1,253     Churches     263
Hospitals     175     Dispensaries     422
Market Places     153     Bridges     598
Roads (km.)     3,154     Dwellings     7,099

Much of this was accomplished by American soldiers in their non-duty time-showing again the humanistic qualities of the American soldier displayed in other wars.

In addition, because of the vast experience gained, the American Army has a larger group of professional military logisticians than ever in its history-many of them junior officers and enlisted personnel- which bodes well for the future. However, we must insure that lessons learned of what to do are adopted and that lessons learned of what not to do will result in corrective action so that those experiences will not recur. It is with this specific thought in mind that this monograph has been prepared.

Finally, in Vietnam, there was a close and wonderful relationship between the man doing the fighting and the man providing the support. In part, this was due to the fact that both were exposed to the same dangers and, that unlike World War II and Korea, there were no safe rear areas in Vietnam. In August 1968, Sergeant William W. Seay, a truck driver- a logistician- won the medal of honor by breaking up an ambush against his convoy on the road to Tay Ninh. This man gave his life to save the lives of his comrades and supplies for the men fighting in the Tay Ninh border area. Logisticians are proud of Sergeant Seay and are proud too of the collective achievements in providing the quality and quantity of support furnished to the combat forces in Vietnam.

To perpetuate the great support provided the combat soldier and in memory of the heroic tasks performed by logistics soldiers such as Sergeant Seay, the "LOGISTICIAN'S CREED" has been


published and distributed to serve as a lasting reminder of what has been done and as a challenge to what needs to be done by all Army logisticians serving in the defense of their country.

Washington, D. C.  15 December 1972 JOSEPH M. HEISER, JR.
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army



The story of logistic support in Vietnam is one of thousands of logisticians who worked tirelessly to provide that support. This volume relates their accomplishments and attempts to do justice to all the many facets of that complex support operation. Even documenting their story was not a one man job, and so I wish to extend my appreciation to all those who participated in this effort with special thanks to:

The Logistics Monograph Review Team. This "murder board" was composed of General Frank T. Mildren, Lieutenant General Jean E. Engler, USA (Ret.), Lieutenant General Oren E. Hurlbut, USA (Ret.), Lieutenant General John Norton, Lieutenant General William R. Peers, Lieutenant General Carroll H. Dunn, Major General Clarence J. Lang, Major General Henry A. Rasmussen, Major General Richard J. Seitz, Brigadier General Robert W. Duke, USA (Ret.), and Mr. Joseph P. Cribbins. Their collective knowledge and first-hand experience were invaluable in providing background and insight into the logistics story as it unfolded in the early drafts of the Monograph.

Colonel John M. Miller and Colonel William H. Hoffmann who analyzed and assessed the historical significance of the wealth of information contained in the early drafts and provided day-to-day guidance to the Monograph Team.

Lieutenant Colonel Albert F. Boll who developed the initial detailed topical outline for the Monograph to direct the efforts of the staff members of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics.

The members of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics team who painstakingly researched and prepared the many papers which formed the basis for the Monograph.

The Monograph Team. This team was composed of Colonel James R. Wilson, USAR, Lieutenant Colonel John B. Crockett, Jr., USAR, Major Willard A. Newman, USAR, Major Felix G. Porter, USAR, and SP5 Felix Ramos, who performed the yeoman task of researching historical information and editing the separate staff papers into a single comprehensive volume.


Lastly, I commend all the logisticians who participated in or supported operations in Vietnam, for they accomplished the deeds that are recorded herein.

Washington, D. C. 
15 December 1972
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army



Logistic Concept (1965) and In-Country Planning 9
Port Situation in Vietnam 23
Warehousing and Storage Facilities 26
Continental U.S. Production Base 27
Logistic Personnel and Training 30
Security 34
Repair Parts Supply 38
Short Supply Items 42
Management Techniques 48
Petroleum Support 72
Common Supply Support 82
Financial Controls 85
Procurement 88
The Buildup 106
Ammunition Supply Rates 109
Ammunition Reporting 111
Ammunition Shortages 115
Munitions Procurement 118
Ammunition Units and Personnel 121
Transportation of Ammunition 124
Storage and Handling of Ammunition 127
Security of Ammunition Depots 130
Maintenance and Disposal 131
Growth of the Aviation Fleet 134
Growth of Aviation Logistic Support in South Vietnam 137
Aircraft Maintenance Personnel  139
Facilities 141
Weapons Systems Requisitioning Techniques  141
Floating Aircraft Maintenance Facility 146
Intensive Management of Critical Assets 146
Closed Loop Support for Aviation 148
Direct Support Maintenance Concepts 149
The Aircraft Readiness, Utilization, and Loss Reporting Systems 150
Use of Helicopters in Logistic Support 153
Aerial Resupply 155
Transportation 157
Maintenance 175
Construction and Real Estate 188
Communications 194
Subsistence 198
Other Support Services 200
Unique Support Missions 215
Logistic Support of U.S. Advisors 229
Logistic Support of the U.S. 5th Special Forces Group 231
Logistic Support of Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces 232
Logistic Support of the South Vietnamese Pacification Program 241
Logistic Support of Other Free World Military Assistance Forces 245
Impact on Active Army 251
Impact on Reserve Components 253
Personnel Lessons Learned 255
Equipment Lessons Learned 256
Policies and Procedures Lessons Learned 257


1 Authorized Troop Level in South Vietnam 13
2 Procurement of Equipment and Missiles for the Army Contract Awards 28
3 Closed Loop Support Network 55
4 Army Aircraft Inventory and Value 135
5 Secondary Item Inventory Required to Support the Aircraft Fleet 135
6 Aviation Funding Programs 136
7 Percent of Allocated Army Funds Spent on Aircraft 137
8 Requisition and Supply Flow, 1965 142
9 Requisition and Supply Flow, April 1966 to April 1968 143
10 Requisition and Supply Flow, April 1968 to September 1969 145
11 Operational Readiness of U.S. Army Vietnam Rotary Wing Aircraft 152
12 Organization of U.S. Army Vietnam Maintenance System 178
13 The 1st Logistical Command Maintenance Structure 180
14 Organizational Structure, Marine Maintenance Activity, Vietnam (August 1969) 185
15 U.S. Army Organization for Facilities Maintenance, South Vietnam 193
16 Typical Organization for Supply Service, Vietnam, 1968-1970 202
17 Logistics Advisory Directorate 234
18 South Vietnamese Armed Forces Organization for Logistics 239
19 Reserve Component Equipment Inventory Changes 254


1 Major Depots, Support Commands, and Main Supply Routes 12
2 U.S. Army Pipeline System in South Vietnam 78
3 Deployment of the 34th General Support Group in Vietnam 140
4 Vietnam Rail System 165
5 Ports, Land Lines of Communication, and Major Logistic Commands 168
6 Maintenance Support Units 179


1 U.S. Army and Total U.S. Military Personnel in South Vietnam 14
2 Push Packages Data 41
3 Countrywide Petroleum Consumption 73
4 Percentage of Fuel Distributed by Commercial and MSTS 76
5 Direct Fuel Comparisons for Operation and Maintenance, Army, During the Build-up Period 86
6 Munitions Programs, Fiscal Years 1965-1970 119
7 UH-1 Production Schedule 136
8 Contract Maintenance Manning Level 139
9 Intra-Vietnam Cargo Movement by Air, 1967-1969 154
10 Operational Readiness Rates 177
11 Real Estate Holdings in South Vietnam 192
12 Property Disposal Office Operations 210
13 Property Moved from Pacific Command Property Disposal Offices 212
14 Evacuation by Army Air Ambulances in Vietnam 214


Vietnamese Farmer Operates Rototiller Alongside Plow Pulled by Water Buffalo 92
Gun Truck-5-ton M54A2 "Hardened" Vehicle 93
Gun Truck-5-ton M54A2 Mounted with Stripped Down Hull of Armored Personnel Carrier 93
Field Depot Thu Duc Storage Area 5 Miles North of Saigon 94
Field Depot Thu Duc Storage Area After Improvements 94
Unloading of 21/2 ton Truck at Saigon Port 95
Fish Market Area in Saigon After Improvements 96

Qui Nhon Logistical Depot

Aerial View of Newport 97
Air Drop of Supplies in Operation JUNCTION CITY 98
Armored Personnel Carrier Gives 5,000-gallon Tanker Push Up Muddy Hill to Fire Support Base 99
Aerial View of Vung Tau, Showing POL Jetty, Tank Farm, and Air Field 99
POL Storage Farm at Tay Ninh Using Bladders for Storage 100
Loading of Class I Supplies From Depot at Cholon 100
Refrigeration Containers and Storage Area at Cholon 101
21/2-ton Truck POL Convoy at Pleiku 101
Ammunition Supply Point Under Construction Near a Fire Base in Kontum Province, Central Highlands 102
Crane Loading Ammunition on to Transporter for Shipment to Ammunition Depot 102
Fork Lift With 175mm Shells to Move to the Stock Pile Area, Vung Ro Bay, Vietnam 103
Bermed Open Storage Complex of the 542d Ammunition Field Depot, Bien Thu, Vietnam 103
Aerial View of An Ammunition Storage Area, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam   104
Artillery Ammunition Prepared for Sling Loading by Helicopter, Bien Thu, Vietnam 104
Fork Lift Unloading Pallets of 105mm Howitzer Rounds From a Sea-Land Van, Pleiku, Vietnam 105
Goer 8-ton Cargo Carrier, All-terrain, All-weather Amphibious Cargo Vehicle 218
Goer 8-ton Cargo Carrier Proceeding Cross-country Through Swampy Area 218
CH-47 Chinook Helicopter Brings in Sling Load of Artillery Ammunition During Operation BOLLING 219
Air Delivery by Flying Crane of Ammunition and Artillery Piece 219
DeLong Pier Complex at Vung Tau with View of Rock Causeway and Sand Fill to be Used for Hardstand 220
Use of Sea-Land Vans for Transportation of Ammunition 220
Unloading of Sea-Land Vans by Crane of Cargo Ship at Cam Ranh Bay 221
Off-loading of Sea-Land Vans by Use of Gantry Crane at Cam Ranh Bay 222
Civilian Contractor Han Jin Trucks Waiting to be Unloaded 222
Army Vessel LTC John U D Page Tied Up at South Beach, Cam Ranh Bay 223
USS Corpus Christi Utilized as a Floating Aircraft Maintenance Facility Anchored Off Coast at Vung Tau 224
Aerial View of Vietnam Railway Service Repair Crews Clearing Right of Way and Installing New Track 224
Use of CONEX Container 225
Loading Laundry Into Dryer at Cam Ranh Bay 225
Maintenance Personnel Removing Engine from 5-ton Truck for Repair 226
Use of Maintenance Vans in a Motor Pool Operation 226
Operation of Rome Plows in Clearing Trees and Undergrowth From Areas in Vietnam 227
Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) Escorts Barge Loaded with Rock, Fuel, Steel Girders and Other Items on the Vam Co Tay River 227
Flying Crane Lifts 175mm Gun at Vung Tau 228
Vietnamese Rebuilding Home with Lumber Donated Through TARP Program in Bien Hoa 249
Dam Built to Improve Irrigation System in the Village Rice Fields in Thuy Phu, Vietnam 249
MALT Team Head Confers with American Advisor and Local S-4 of a Vietnamese Supply Maintenance District I Support Logistical Company 250

Illustrations are from Department of Defense files The painting on the front cover is "Welcome Relief" by Specialist Kenneth J Scowcroft; on the back cover "Convoy on the Mang Yang Pass" by E C Williams

page created 2 January 2003

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