CAP Misc. Quotes


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
Editor, CAP Web Site

Index (by Author, Title, or Subject)

Betrayal: Lt. Col. William R. Corson
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

Michael E. Peterson

Praeger Publishers, New York, NY

Page 19

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.

"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.

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."

Page 35

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

From: The Contagion Of War
Terrence Maitland
Boston Publishing Co.
Page 60-63:

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 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

First CAPs:

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.
Page 183:

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
Washington, D.C.
February, 1975

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)
Pergamon Press

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.)
USMC Small Wars Manual, I-10, Pge. 18: USMC Small Wars Manual, I-6, Pge. 31-32: Editor's Note: I have not read the USMC Small Arms Manual. In this instance I have taken advantage of Michael Peterson's research for his book cited earlier.

From: New York Times
November 30, 1968
Page 1

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.

Go to:

A Provincial Representative's Account Of Two Years In Vietnam
By: Dr. Jan H. Vanderbie, 1970
Dorrance & Co., Publishers
Page 152.

Excerpts From: Hau Nghia, by John P. Vann

From: The Lessons Of Vietnam (1977)
Crane, Russak & Co.
W. Scott Thompson & Donaldson D. Frizzell, Editors
Page 279

....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.


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

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

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