This section will contain a variety of quotes and potpourri which are, with few exceptions, not large enough for a full Web Page. All are pertinent to the Combined Action Platoon program. I welcome any input or additional quotes applicable to this page.
Tim "CAPVet" Duffie
Betrayal: Lt. Col. William R. Corson
Michael E. Peterson
Praeger Publishers, New York, NY
"Doesn't that give the villager only the choice of becoming a refugee?" one
journalist inquired. "I expect a tremendous increase in the number of refugees,"
In effect, Westmoreland had declared war against peasant society in Vietnam. In my own
opinion, that is the day the United States irretrievably lost that war. Page 35
The CAP Marines' cultural and language ignorance was not without its more humorous
side. Probably the best example is found in the problems the Marines faced in the use of
the acronym for the Combined Action Companies, "CAC", which the Program had
adopted in 1966. Perhaps the most tasteful explanation of the "CAC" problem is
given by Allnutt:
Editor, CAP Web Site
Index (by Author, Title, or Subject)
CAP Growth : 1965-67
Contagion of War: Includes quote from Gen. Lew Walt's Memoirs
Hau Nghia: John P. Vann
ICIPPs & CUPPs: Partial Definition, Need More Info.
Lessons From An Unconventional War: Statistics Regarding Popular Force Activities
Lessons Of Vietnam: Conventional vs Unconventional War
Michael E. Peterson: Combined Action Platoons
New York Times: Targeting of Pacification by NVA
Pacification And Civil Affairs: Southeast Asia Intelligence Division, 1975
Prov Rep Vietnam: Dr. Jan Vanderbie
TET & CAPs: Incomplete listing of attacks on CAP Units during the TET Offensive
USMC Small Wars Manual: Re Application of Force In Small Wars
Combined Action Platoons: The Marine's Other War In Vietnam
Perhaps the most telling feature of that policy [...conventional main-force battalions
operating in free-fire zones to search out and destroy the enemy's formations], as well as
an indicator of its ultimate failure, was contained in a statement to reporters in 1965 by
the personification of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, General William. C. Westmoreland.
He said that as a result of U.S. strategy, the Vietnamese peasant would be confronted with
three choices: He could stay close to his land (usually in a free-fire zone); he could
join the Viet Cong (the target in that free-fire zone); or he could move to an area under
South Vietnamese government control and become a refugee.
Editor's Note: In support of Michael Peterson's opinion, we posted a letter from Lt.
Col. W.R. Corson, indexed on the CAP Web Site home page, in which he said, "It can be
used to prove that our use of the CAP concept, beginning in 1966, was doomed to ultimate failure
because it was at least two years too late."
Other, more qualitative indicators [of success] were available. In one instance, 2,800
Vietnamese refugees moved into Phuoc Trach, a hamlet near Da Nang, when a CAC was
established there. The refugees indicated that they considered it the safest place in the
area.....And residents of Ky Bich village, near Chu Lai, began sleeping in their homes at
night after a CAP was established there. Until then, they had been forced to move to a
safer location three miles away each night in order to avoid VC harassment.
Just For Laughs: Page 45
"CAC was later changed to CACO when it was discovered that 'cac', if pronounced
with a broad 'a', has a rather unfortunate meaning in Vietnamese; the same, incidentally,
as it has in English",
Tim "CAPVet" Duffie
Betrayal: Lt. Col. William R. Corson
Michael E. Peterson
Praeger Publishers, New York, NY
"Doesn't that give the villager only the choice of becoming a refugee?" one journalist inquired. "I expect a tremendous increase in the number of refugees," Westmoreland answered.
In effect, Westmoreland had declared war against peasant society in Vietnam. In my own opinion, that is the day the United States irretrievably lost that war.
The CAP Marines' cultural and language ignorance was not without its more humorous side. Probably the best example is found in the problems the Marines faced in the use of the acronym for the Combined Action Companies, "CAC", which the Program had adopted in 1966. Perhaps the most tasteful explanation of the "CAC" problem is given by Allnutt:
From: The Contagion Of War
Boston Publishing Co.
In his memoir of the Vietnam War, Gen. Lewis Walt, Commander of the US Marine forces in Vietnam from May, 1965, to May, 1967, summed up what he believed to be the key to how to fight the war.
The struggle was in the rice paddies....in and among the people, not passing through, but living among them, night and day...and joining with them in steps toward a better life long overdue....
...in the end, the CAP program achieved only limited application. The eventual 114 platoons were scattered and frequently isolated. PF weapons and pay were little improved. Expanded NVA activities along the DMZ drew Marine forces out of the villages, and by the first months of 1967 the CAPs came to be considered, as CIA officer Douglas Blaufarb later wrote, "...a limited sideshow to the Main-Force war". With the decline of CAPs, Marine Corps pacificaton efforts ceased to attract the priority they enjoyed in the early years of the war.
CAP Growth, 1965-67 (Source: Combined Action Platoons Michael Peterson
By November 12, 1966, the Marine Corps had established 40 Combined Action Platoons in the I Corps area.
From: The Betrayal
Col. William R. Corson
W.W. Norton & Co., N.Y.
The Marines who serve in CAPS are not supermen. However, they are volunteers with at least four months combat experience in a line Marine organization, a high recommendation by their commanding officer for duty with CAP, no recorded disciplinary action, and most importantly, no manifestation of xenophobia. The final factor is very important in the Other War because the actions of a "gook hater" can result in the loss of an entire hamlet to the Vietcong.
From: The Counterinsurgency Era: US
Doctrine and Performance
Douglas S. Blaufarb (1977)
The Free Press
The Village is a superb case history of the kind of tactics which, if used on a wider scale, could have made a vast difference in the war for the countryside....They were too scattered and isolated to have maximum impact....
The combat record, the "kill ratios", and the fact that American soldiers were living and fighting in intimate contact with Vietnamese, all suggested an interesting phenomenon...but, despite this interest and its achievements, the program was kept small...
What would have happened if the Army had also adopted the experiment, and if it were given a priority call on manpower up to, but not beyond, the point where the combat divisions could no longer shield the CAP areas from heavy-unit attacks? All that remains a matter of speculation. It would certainly have been a different war.
A Systems Analysis View Of The Vietnam War 1965 -1972
Volume 10: Pacification And Civil Affairs
Southeast Asia Intelligence Division
This is a series of reproductions and/or short paragraph reprints of opinions and raw data. Most of the data is found throughout the articles posted to this Web Site.
From: Lessons From An Unconventional War (1982)
From 1967-1971, RFs [Regional Forces] and PFs [Popular Forces] accounted for more than 1/2 of the Vietnamese casualties....(NOTE: We have included that statistics because the "PFs" were the Vietnamese troops who shared the battlefield with the CAP Marines.)
A force Commander who gains his objective in a small war without firing a shot has attained far greater success than the one who resorted to the use of arms.
In small wars...the goal is to obtain decisive results with the least application of force and the consequent minimum loss of life .... tolerance, sympathy, and kindness should be the keynote of our relationship with the mass of the population.
From: New York Times
November 30, 1968
The Vietcong's command issued orders today for a new offensive to "utterly destroy" United States and South Vietnamese combat units and pacification teams.
The Hanoi radio said that the objectives of the offensive were United States and South Vietnamese search-and-destroy units that were "destroying our villages and occupying our areas", pacification teams working in rural areas to win peasants over to the Saigon Government, and national, district and local government officials.
NOTE: While CAP was not specifically spelled out in this news article, the CAP Program was an integral part of the "pacification" program.
A Provincial Representative's Account Of Two Years In Vietnam
By: Dr. Jan H. Vanderbie, 1970
Dorrance & Co., Publishers
Excerpts From: Hau Nghia, by John P. Vann
From: The Lessons Of Vietnam (1977)
Crane, Russak & Co.
W. Scott Thompson & Donaldson D. Frizzell, Editors
....there is great irony in the fact that the North Vietnamese finally won by purely conventional means...the argument presented in this book convinces us that we won the unconventional war in that the South Vietnamese and American joint effort had largely eliminated the Vietcong as a serious contender for power by 1972.
TET & CAPs
I have drawn heavily from Michael Peterson's Combined Action Platoons for this list in addition to reports received from other CAP Veterans.
The Buildup: Combined Action Platoons, Pages. 56 - 57
The TET Offensive
NOTE: I received the following e-mails regarding this incident from two participants: Charles E. Brown and Cot Fox. Since I was quoting from a published source, I have opted to add their comments below.
Just looked at the miscellaneous notes section of the General Articles section of the CAP website. The subsection entitled "Tet and C.A.P." contains an error --Hotel 8 was attacked on 31 January--not 29 February--and the attack was partially repelled by calling in V.T. on ourselves--in addition to going hand to hand with an estimated V,C./NVA battalion of the 804th Regiment All or us who were there that night would certainly appreciate it if you would correct the date.
Cottrell Fox (Hotel 8, June 67-31January 68)
My name is Charles E. Brown, and I go by the name of Charlie Brown. I'm a fellow veteran with Cot Fox of CAP Hotel 8 from the 1967- 68' time frame. I was with Cot when Hotel 8 was attacked. At the time I was a Corporal. I just want to confirm that Cot's recollection of the date of the attack on Hotel 8 is correct, it was January 31, 1968, the morning of the Tet Offensive and not February 29th. Cot's description of the fighting is correct. The key to our survival was that in the end we called in VT, variable time fuse, rounds on top of us, while we continued small arms fire from our bunkers on the NVA in the compound with us. Some of the Marines and a few of the Popular Forces soldiers ended up going hand to hand with some of the NVA prior to the VT rounds being called in on the compound. If I recall correctly we did several calls for "repeat" so I'm not sure how many VT rounds in total came in on top of our compound but it was a good number. Prior to the VT a lot of the fighting was very close quarters. Even after the VT rounds a good bit of small arms fire continued within and outside of the compound until after daybreak when a relief force was finally able to make its way through to us.
Take care and best wishes
Charles E. Brown
ICIPPs & CUPPs
From: Combined Action Platoons, by Michael Peterson
26Mar70: operational control to Senior Army Force, XXIV Corps, Lt. Gen. Melvin Zais, US Army, located in Phu Bai.
Changed from ICIPP to