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There, for the eighth time in the past 4 years,
I visited those men and women of our Armed
Forces who are most dangerously involved
with the protection of freedom and the se-
curity interests of the United States. As al-
ways, I returned with deep respect for them
and renewed conviction that they fight in a
high cause. And more than ever before, I
came home with profound pride in what
these brave men and women have achieved.
I might add that I was also impressed with
the energy and courage of the newsmen in
Viet-Nam. Some 500 of them are making this
the best covered war in history. With these
impressions fresh in mind, I propose to talk
tonight about Viet-Nam.

It is clear to me why we are in Viet-Nam
and why we should be there. Therefore,
rather than entering the lists of policy de-
bate, I propose to report on an aspect of
Viet-Nam which is less well known and ap-
preciated — what we have achieved there.

In speaking of achievements I do so as a
military man, reporting mainly on military
matters. Nevertheless, I am fully aware of
the importance and difficulty of the political,
economic, and social problems which must
be mastered if we are to achieve success in
Viet-Nam. I have no illusions that I can fol-
low the injunction of Tennyson to "Charm
us, orator, till the lion look no larger than
the cat." I would not wish to. Rather, I hope

' Address made before the Washington Profes-
sional Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi at Washington,
D.C., on Jan. 17.

to take the advice of Joseph Pulitzer when
he said: "Put it before them briefly so they
will read it, clearly so they will appreciate
it, picturesquely so they will remember it,
and, above all, accurately so they will be
guided by its light."

In discussing our military accomplish-
ments, both accuracy and comprehension de-
pend upon proper context. With this in mind,
I should like to emphasize these facts: Less
than 2 years have passed since our first,
retaliatory airstrike in North Viet-Nam; only
IV2 years have gone by since, we began to
deploy major combat forces in South Viet-
Nam; and little more than a year has tran-
spired since our first major ground battle in
the la Drang Valley. As wars go, these are
short periods of time. It is within this con-
text of time that we Americans should judge
what we have achieved.

As a backdrop, it is also instructive to
remember what the critics of our policy had
to say, just yesterday, about military opera-
tions in Asia. Do you recall these Cassandra-
like pronouncements ?

— The American soldier can't stand the
rigors of jungle combat.

— American units are too large, cumber-
some, and roadbound to do battle in under-
developed areas.

— U.S. materiel — the B-52, jet fighters,
artillery, ships, and electronic equipment —
is too sophisticated to be useful.

— Supply lines to Asia are too long, and
we lack the logistic bases from which to



— Guerrilla warfare is alien to American
Armed Forces. We can't understand the peo-
ple, speak their language, or gain their con-
fidence; we aren't trained in counterguerrilla
tactics; we lack the patience; and we can't
find the enemy or come to grips with him.

— It is suicidal optimism to think that we
can fight on the mainland of Asia.

— And massive Chinese Communist inter-
vention is certain.

A Hard Task Well Done

These prophets, some still active and pro-
pounding new theses of doom, sold short the
courage, decency, ingenuity, energy, knowl-
edge, and judgment of their fellow Ameri-
cans. They were wrong on every count, and
the record bears this out. Let me oite you
examples, not to say that the lion looks "no
larger than the cat," not to glory in the
statistics of combat, not to forget the sorrow
and hell which is war, but simply to tell you
of a hard but necessary task well done.

You will recall where we stood 2 years ago.
Our mission in Viet-Nam was the same as
now, but we were trying to accomplish it
through aid, advice, and logistic help alone.
In February of 1965, in retaliation for Com-
munist attacks against U.S. forces, we
launched our first, limited airstrikes against
North Viet-Nam. By the late spring of that
year, due to a combination of causes, the
Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army was
threatening to overwhelm the armed foi'ces
of South Viet-Nam. That summer, at the
request of the South Vietnamese, the United
States made the decision to commit major
forces to halt aggression. I doubt that any
decision by any President has been more
difficult or more honorable.

What was needed, without delay, was a
transfusion of spirit and power and mate-
riel which would give heart to our Vietnam-
ese allies and put up the first, clear stoplight
to aggression. Almost incredibly, the United
States moved nearly 200,000 men and almost
21/2 million tons of supplies over thousands
of miles to Southeast Asia between July and
October 1965. This alone, in my judgment,
was a magnificent feat of arms. No other

nation could have achieved it. And I doubt
that any other nation would have committed
itself so strongly to a principle.

But this massive infusion would not suf-
fice. We were at grips with a stubborn and
bitter enemy. We had to sustain the morale
of the South Vietnamese, hunt down the en-
emy's regular forces, guard against his guer-
rillas, strike at the military sources of his
aggression, and, all the while, help with the
political and economic development of South

In the face of such problems, what have
we accomplished since that short time ago?
In brief, much. Let me cite a part of the

Record of U.S. Accomplishments

On the 1st of July 1965, only some 60,000
men of all services were deployed ashore
in Viet-Nam. Relatively few of these were
in combat units. By the first week of Janu-
ary 1967, 395,000 were ashore, with a very
great increase in fighting power and combat
support. For example: Army and Marine
Corps strengths alone had increased by some
266,000 men; combat maneuver elements had
gone up more than 400 percent; helicopter
maneuver capability had increased at least
fourfold; ground fire support was up by 600
percent; airstriking power had doubled; and
military engineer support had quadrupled.

The total numerical increase is impres-
sive in itself — nearly 330,000 — but much
more so when you recall that these are highly
trained men, fully prepared for their hard
and unique tasks. Many of them were civil-
ians a year and a half ago. Beyond this,
many of their units, including major ones,
did not exist in 1965 but are now fighting
in South Viet-Nam.

To give an idea of what is involved in put-
ting such numbers of skilled and dedicated
men into Viet-Nam, consider the following:
The total Armed Forces have increased in
strength by more than 650,000 men in the
past 18 months to support Viet-Nam and
our other commitments as well; the training
base in the United States — and this includes
major facilities and the men to operate them

FEBRUARY 6, 1967


— has been greatly expanded; in addition to
giving all men basic and specialist training,
creating some units, and bringing all units
to a high state of readiness, nearly 1 million
U.S. military personnel have received in-
struction in counterinsurgency and thou-
sands study the Vietnamese language each
year. Remember, too, that when our men
arrive in Viet-Nam, they are not only trained
and physically hardened, but they are also
specially supplied and equipped to cope with
the enemy they will face and the environ-
ment in which they will work or fight.

Difficult as it was to raise, train, equip,
and organize these forces, perhaps even
harder tasks were involved in moving them
and in preparing logistically for their em-
ployment. It was as if one were to move a
major American city some 10,000 miles,
place it in a radically new environment, and
expect that every aspect of its existence —
public and private — would be provided for
without delay or confusion and in the face
of dangers and difficulties such as its citizens
had never confronted before.

In the time frame I have cited, to move
more than 300,000 people over such a dis-
tance, somewhat more than half by sea and
the rest by air, involved major feats of plan-
ning, organization, and operation. We have
quite literally operated continual air and sea
trains from the United States for this pur-
pose and for resupply. Requirements have
been large. For example, passenger sealift
in support of Viet-Nam has increased fifteen-
fold, and commercial airlift to augment our
military means has expanded fourfold over
the same brief period.

In terms of military cargo, the effort is
equally impressive. Extrapolating from the
records we now have for the first 10 months
of 1966, in that year alone we airlifted some
200,000 short tons of supplies into Viet-Nam
and transported well over 8 million measure-
ment tons by sea. The sealift, from January
to October 1966 alone, amounted to over
1,000 shiploads, exceeding the cargo shipped
to Korea in 1951 during the height of that

Meeting the Logistic Challenges

Despite these major successes, however,
perhaps the greatest logistic challenges of
all lay within Viet-Nam. From ports to air-
fields, from depots to maintenance facilities,
and from headquarters to troop cantonment
areas, virtually all of the modern structures
needed to support an operation of this mag-
nitude had to be constructed from near
scratch. The achievements in this field will be
the subject of future books. Let me sketch
just some of the outlines.

In the beginning there was essentially but
one port, Saigon. This, as you know, posed
serious problems for us. As someone said, in
the early days we proved conclusively that 10
ports in the United States can load ships
faster than 1 port can unload them in Viet-
Nam. By now, however, we have 10 ports of
various sizes, in various stages of develop-
ment, from Hue in the north to Can Tho
in the south. Saigon now handles only 31
percent of our cargo, while Da Nang and
Cam Ranh Bay, for example, handle 22 per-
cent and 19 percent, respectively.

Along with ports, a great need existed for
tactical and logistic airbases. At this time,
important airbases are being constructed or
improved at 24 locations, and the work on
air facilities to handle anything from heli-
copters up to jet transports has been prodi-
gious over the past year and a half.

The project at Cam Ranh Bay, with which
I am sure you are familiar, is representative
of the magnitude of effort. From a tiny
coastal port for primitive craft has now
evolved the largest logistic complex in Viet-
Nam, already including a major deep-water
port, large supply and maintenance facilities,
troop cantonments, and an airfield with a
10,000-foot permanent runway. Additionally,
three other associated tactical airbases, jet
capable, have been put in operation, and
much other construction goes forward.

As one other particularly graphic case in
point, a rice paddy 2 miles north of Saigon
was selected as a prospective deep-draft port.
Operational use began last October; this
month the first of the deep-draft berths



should be operational, and by August of this
year the last of the four berths should be

Across the land, a vast variety of other
critical facilities have been completed or are
well advanced. Primary logistic depots are
underway at Da Nang, Qui Nhon, Cam
Ranh, and Saigon. Brigade or equivalent
cantonments are being provided at 40 dif-
ferent locations. These works, all together,
now make it possible for us to support our
troops on a scope, and with an efficiency and
dispatch, hardly conceivable for one who saw
Viet-Nam in early days.

This logistic support can be measured in
many ways:

— There is the equipment which our men
use, largely new, unexcelled, in ample supply
with rare and temporary exception, and fit-
ted to the task at hand. (This is, I might
observe, the first war in my ken in which the
fruits of modern research and development
have appeared on the battlefield of the cur-
rent, rather than a future, conflict.)

— There is the modern-day Red Ball Ex-
press, a special Air Force lift of priority
items to Southeast Asia, which flew some
9,400 critically needed tons in its first year
of operation.

— There is the lifesaving air evacuation of
medical patients from South Viet-Nam —
over 25,000 in 1966.

— There are the millions of tons which
processed through the ports I have men-
tioned, 97 percent of all the supplies and
equipment sent to Viet-Nam.

— But perhaps most graphically of all,
there is the weight of firepower which we
have been able to employ to save American
and Allied lives. For example. General
[Moshe] Dayan, former Israeli Army Chief
of Staff, observed one small and brief battle
in which a Viet Cong regiment attacked a
South Korean company of 130 men. To pro-
tect that unit until help could arrive, Ameri-
can fire-support units laid down 21,000 shells
along a 200-yard-wide strip between jungle
and wire. That was, as General Dayan
pointed out, "more than the total volume of

artillery fire expended by the Israeli Army
during the Sinai campaign and the War of
Independence together."

Combat Operations

I have talked at length of logistic achieve-
ments because it is these which seem to be
least well known. But mention of fire sup-
port brings up the subject of combat opera-
tions. Young Americans, the much-maligned
products of our affluent society, have proved
their dedication, toughness, remarkable
valor, great good humor, and deep compas-
sion under the harshest, most complex cir-
cumstances. And the American Army, Navy,
Air Force, and Marine Corps — and let's not
forget the Coast Guard — have demonstrated
a collective professional skill which is per-
haps without parallel in the history of war-

These operations have exacted a toll: Over
6,700 Americans have died in battle in Viet-
Nam, and more than 38,000 have been
wounded in action. By the standards of other
wars, these are not heavy casualties. But in
terms of individual sacrifice, and by any
gage of human compassion, these are figures
of sorrow, heavily underlining the debt
which many men, in many lands, owe to the
young and the few of America.

At the same time, I would remind you that
people in other free nations — the Republic
of Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and
New Zealand, for example — also have cause
for personal grief. And above all, there are
the sacrifices made by the South Vietnamese
in the defense of their homeland. Since Jan-
uary 1961, their military alone have lost
more men in action, in equivalent population
terms, than the total of American battle
deaths from the Revolutionary War to the
present day.

Like their allies, our men have fought with
great bravery. From July 1962 until mid-
December 1966, some 29,000 of them had re-
ceived awards for valor in Viet-Nam, and
more than 40,000 had received the Purple
Heart. Included among the highest decora-
tions were 11 Medals of Honor and 201

FEBRUARY 6, 1967


awards of the Distinguished Service Cross,
Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross.

While these men fought, many more were
engaged in the onerous, unsung jobs of sup-
port — supply, transportation, maintenance,
construction, communication, and so on.
Others engaged officially, or on their own
time, in the manifold tasks of advising the
Vietnamese and helping them with military
and civilian problems alike. As Chet Huntley
noted in a recent broadcast: "The American
soldier in Viet-Nam spends only a small por-
tion of his time in combat; many are never
in combat; but the major portion of his time
is spent in rescuing people, patching up peo-
ple, picking up kids, building irrigation sys-
tems, schools, dispensaries, roads, houses,
and whole villages. The American soldier in
Viet-Nam is a builder."

U.S. Gains Reflected in Many Ways

What has all this effort, sacrifice, bravery,
and dedication achieved? Not a final victory,
even on the battlefield, but a turnaround of
pessimism, an end to unimpeded invasion,
and a long forward step. These gains are re-
flected in many ways.

One of our primary needs was to improve
our intelligence, our knowledge of who and
where the enemy was. Sun Tze observed long
ago, "Know your enemy . . . and you can
fight a hundred battles without disaster."
Since 1965, there has been a dramatic im-
provement in the quality and quantity of our
intelligence. Actions extending from long-
range infantry patrols, to vastly expanded
aerial surveillance, to the use of new scien-
tific devices, and on to the institution of a
centralized automatic data processing sys-
tem have enabled us to find the enemy, an-
ticipate his actions, and make full use of our
mobility and firepower.

Our forces, increasingly strong, mobile,
well supplied, and armed with better intelli-
gence, have hunted down the enemy's main
units and fought "a hundred battles without
disaster." I have mentioned the early battle
in the la Drang Valley in which the newly
arrived 1st Cavalry Division fought the first

major North Vietnamese units to enter com-
bat. Those young, untested troopers inflicted
more than 1,500 fatalities on the enemy and
drove him out of Viet-Nam for the time.

Since then, all of our ground units have
pursued the aggressors, giving them no ha-
ven, no rest, and no chance to mount a single
major attack. As an example of many ac-
tions, the Marines last year, in Operations
Hastings and Prairie alone, inflicted over
2,000 confirmed fatalities on the North Viet-
namese Army. And last fall, in the former
sanctuary of Tay Ninh Province, the largest
ground operation of the war — Attleboro —
took place. The 1st Infantry Division, ele-
ments of the 25th Division, and the 196th
Brigade badly defeated three regiments of
tough Viet Cong. Over 1,100 enemy were
killed or captured, and vast quantities of en-
emy foodstuffs and war materiel were de-

In the air in South Viet-Nam, Air Force,
Marine, and Navy pilots gave the ground
soldier the greatest, most responsive, and
most effective air support in history. Every-
thing from the B-52 bomber to the single-
engine 0-1 observation plane has literally
been integrated with the actions of platoons,
companies, and battalions on the ground.

In the air over North Viet-Nam, gallant
airmen, attacking with great restraint and
precision in the face of intense antiaircraft
fire, have struck at the military facilities
supporting aggression.

And on the rivers and seas, naval ships
and craft have contributed their airpower
and gunpower and greatly reduced the
enemy's ability to move, reinforce, or resup-


How do we assess what these and many
other operations have achieved? Here are
some of the ways:

— Since the fall of 1965, enemy attacks
have fallen off in size, frequency, and dura-
tion. Where regimental attacks were once
common, and division attacks clearly pended,
we now find ourselves fighting mostly com-
panies and battalions. We estimate that their
battalions are now averaging only 1 day's



fighting per month. And where once the
enemy could sustain combat for a month at
a time, as in the la Drang, he now hits and
runs to avoid disaster.

— In the past year, in hundreds of engage-
ments, the enemy won no single major battle.

— Enemy captured on the battlefield rose
from 6,000 in 1965 to more than 9,000 in

— Enemy killed in action — confirmed fa-
talities — increased a minimum of 35 percent
in 1966.

— Enemy defectors under the Chieu Hoi
amnesty program increased in 1966 by 82
percent over the preceding year.

— Weapons captured on the battlefield in-
creased some 35 percent in 1966.

— Enemy supplies were captured or de-
stroyed in large quantities — for example, in
1966, enough rice to support nearly 80,000
men for a year.

— For the first time, farmers in the I and
II Corps areas were able to harvest and keep
most of their crops.

— Thousands of enemy trucks, railroad
cars, and vessels have been destroyed from
the air and sea. Much of his POL has gone
up in flames. Approximately 20 percent of
his total military forces are engaged in de-
fensive programs. Some 300,000 of his men
are engaged in repair, reconstruction, and
relocation. The effectiveness of our air cam-
paign is made increasingly clear by enemy
propaganda complaints. And now, to escape
it and to seek more propaganda fuel, he is
apparently turning his own population into
hostages by placing military materiel and
installations in the midst of heavily peopled
towns and areas.

— Even "revolutionary development," paci-
fication, that program whose success is cru-
cial to enduring security and progress for the
Vietnamese, has taken forward steps. First
of all, there is the relatively recent military
protection which we have been able to give
to this effort. Secondly, a major Vietnamese
cadre training program is in full swing, and
457 cadre teams of 59 men each are already
at work. Thirdly, elements of the Vietnamese

Army are being trained to complement the
cadre teams and provide a shield behind
which they can function. And finally, the
enemy tide is beginning to recede.

In this latter regard, recall the situation
in 1965, when major U.S. units were first in-
troduced. In the I Corps area, the Viet Cong
had moved into the coastal lowlands and
were beginning to isolate Da Nang and Hue.
In the II Corps region, the Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese units moved with total
freedom and were on the verge of overrun-
ning several provincial capitals. In III and
IV Corps, the Viet Cong were moving unim-
peded between war zones C and D, then
sanctuaries, and the critical delta areas. In
each of these areas now the tide is running
out on the enemy and the people are begin-
ning, tentatively, to sense and respond to
some degree of security.

Much remains to be done in revolutionary
development — a great part of the job, in fact
— but when a million South Vietnamese refu-
gees elect to leave Viet Cong areas and seek
safe haven with the Government of Viet-
Nam, as they have since our troops arrived
in 1965, the signs of the future look promis-

This has been a long recitation of success.
For each unit or effort I have mentioned, I
could have cited others equally important
and praiseworthy. On the other hand, I could
have detailed the problems unsolved, some
discouragements, and some failures. But
there has been more than enough of pessi-
mism, and I wanted to balance the ledger.

Making It Possible for Freedom To Triumph

What does it all mean, in sum ?

First of all, it does not mean that we have
won in Viet-Nam, or even that victory is
close at hand. The enemy is bitterly deter-
mined and supported by major outside
powers. And military success is only one in-
gredient of ultimate victory.

In other, nonmilitary, spheres there have
been achievements, too. The Government it-
self has shown energy and relative stability
after surviving the stress of political turmoil

FEBRUARY 6, 1967


in the spring of 1966. The free election and
the subsequent deliberations of the constitu-
ent assembly are hopeful omens. The Manila
Conference brought a new measure of unity,
resolve, and purpose to free Asia. But major
barriers, internal and external, still stand in
the way of prosperous peace for the Viet-

To me, our military achievements mean
these things:

— The enemy's chance for military victory
is gone.

— The enemy's freedom to steal, bully, and
terrorize has been reduced.

— The North Vietnamese have now learned
that there is an increasing toll to pay for

— The South Vietnamese now know that
security is more than a dream, and tangible
opportunities for a promising future have
come into view.

— Americans have committed themselves
to a principle in Viet-Nam. They have
worked with success and fought with honor
to sustain it. In a brief span of time, they
have achieved much militarily — the first task
— and the door is now open to success in
other fields. In an editorial last fall. The
Economist discussed the influence which
America was successfully exerting against
the Communists in Asia, particularly in
Viet-Nam. That distinguished British
journal observed: "Five years ago a stable

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 37 of 90)