Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1969
After rising steadily over a period of four years, over-all Army strength reached a peak in fiscal year 1969 and began to drop off slightly as the year closed. The Army's commitment in Vietnam also leveled off with the arrival early in the year of the last major unit, a brigade, scheduled for deployment to the war zone. In the theater the 101st Airborne Division was converted to the airmobile configuration, the second of its type in the U.S. Army.
The year closed with a substantial reduction of Army forces in prospect, following President Nixon's announcement in June 1969 that 25,000 troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam by August. Further reductions will depend upon the level of conflict, the capability of South Vietnamese forces to replace American units, and progress in the Paris peace negotiations. Toward that end, Army efforts were accelerated during the year to train and equip South Vietnamese forces of all categories to assume an increasing share of the war, and the advisory effort was sharply expanded in support of the pacification program.
With the prospect of a gradual reduction in force in Southeast Asia, and to avoid problems that developed at the close of the Korean War, plans and programs were instituted for a phased and orderly redistribution of materiel throughout the Pacific area. Excess stocks were being identified, classified, and transferred to meet valid requirements.
In Korea and Europe, U.S. Army forces continued to help friendly nations maintain their political and territorial integrity during a period of heightened tension produced by North Korean provocation along the demilitarized zone and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In the United States, Strategic Army Force readiness gradually improved as the Army's strength and the Vietnam commitment leveled off. Veterans of the fighting brought their experience into the training base and the Strategic Reserve.
Although the Army, like American society, was affected by social unrest during the year, there were hopeful trends. Opposition to the establishment of missile installations quieted when the ABM system was directed along new lines, and civil disturbances involvement was far less than in the previous year. While opposition to the war continued, manifested in various forms of dissent, it is likely to proceed in direct ratio to the course of the war, and a leveling down in Vietnam will undoubtedly produce a corresponding decrease in war-related unrest.
As fiscal year 1969 closed, the general outlines of a gradual reduction in manpower, deployment, combat casualties, and expenditures were beginning to take shape. While the fiscal year 1970 strength and budget will remain roughly at 1969 levels, and while there are still such intangibles as battlefield developments and enemy intentions to consider, there is every reason to hope that the general stabilization in the Army and the war, begun in 1969, may be carried even further in the new fiscal year.
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Last updated 9 August 2004