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thedrifter
05-25-03, 11:47 AM
Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, And The Marines In Vietnam

AUTHOR Major Frank D. Pelli, USMC

CSC 1990

SUBJECT AREA Leadership


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INSURGENCY, COUNTERINSURGENCY, AND THE MARINES IN VIETNAM

The war in Vietnam continues to be hotly debated. Why
the United States lost the war has been a key question
surrounding the debate over its involvement. One of the most
important points to recognize is that it was an insurgency.
My purpose is to evaluate what an insurgency is, what is
required to defeat it, and what the Marine Corps' concepts
and actions were to counter the insurgency in Vietnam. The
Marine strategy for Vietnam contained many of the important
elements necessary to effectively conduct a counterinsurgency
war.
Mao is considered to be the primary influence in
guerrilla warfare. He recognizes the importance of the
people in the success of the war. Well organized guerrilla
units are encouraged by him to take the initiative, applying
hit-and-run tactics, fighting in the enemy rear and
establishing bases for popular support and for spreading
their influence. He warned that guerrilla warfare is
protracted and becomes conventional only as it approaches
success.
General Giap parrots much of Mao's philosophy. His war
with the Japanese and French was an ideal test for the
precepts of Mao and as result Giap reinforces much of what
Mao offers in terms of guerrilla tactics. Giap's sound
defeat of the French provides a clear illustration of an
efficacious insurgency.
Not every insurgency has been a success, however. The
counterinsurgency conducted by the Malayans and the British
in Malaya is an excellent example from which to draw lessons
for success. The security of the people is essential. Once
this is provided the police, who provide the intelligence on
the enemy, and the military, who engage the guerrillas in
small-unit combat, can join with the government to develop a
strategy and oprational plan to defeat the guerrillas and
their infrastructure (the link to the people).
Throughout its history the Marine Corps has learned to
defeat guerrillas. They applied their knowledge in Vietnam
with a strategy and tactics that parallel the Malaya
counterinsurgency. They focused on the people and the link
between the peasant and the guerrilla. Several effective
programs, i.e. Combined Action Platoons, COUNTY FAIR
operations and GOLDEN FLEECE operations, were conducted in I
Corps in Vietnam. I believe that the Marines had the right
formula to defeat the Viet Cong but for victory all of
Vietnam needed to its application.




INSURGENCY, COUNTERINSURGENCY, AND THE MARINES IN VIETNAM



OUTLINE


THESIS STATEMENT. The Marine strategy for Vietnam contained
many of the important elements necessary to effectively
conduct a counterinsurgency war.


I. INSURGENCY ACCORDING TO MAO TSE-TUNG
A. PHASES OF INSURGENCY
B. GUERRILLA ORGANIZATION
C. INITIATIVE AND SMALL-UNIT ACTION
D. TACTICS
E. BASES
II. GIAP'S GUERRILLA WARFARE
A. PHASES OF WARFARE
B. GUERRILLA ORGANIZATION
C. BASES
D. TACTICS
E. FRENCH DILEMMA
III. LESSONS FROM MALAYA
A. GUERRILLA ORGANIZATION
B. POLICE
C. INTELLIGENCE
D. TACTICS
IV. SIR ROBERT THOMPSON'S COUNTERINSURGENCY CONCEPTS
A. PRINCIPLES
B. TACTICS
V. MARINES AND COUNTERINSURGENCY IN VIETNAM
A. EMPHASIS ON COUNTERINSURGENCY
B. MARINE CORPS PLAN
C. CIVIC ACTION




INSURGENCY, COUNTERINSURGENCY, AND THE MARINES IN VIETNAM


The war in Vietnam has been debated and discussed in
scores of books and articles from the 1960's until today.
Questions about the morality of the United States presence
there, whether it could have ever succeeded, and if the
strategy was right will probably continue to be answered in a
number of ways for many years to come. Probably the most
basic question is why did the U.S. lose? Was it a loss of
national will, a failure to enter the war with the intent of
winning, or did the Nation just fail to recognize the type of
war it was and apply its might accordingly?
Andrew F. Krepinivich, Jr. in The Army and Vietnam
writes a scathing indictment of the U.S. Army for failing to
fight the Vietnam war as the situation dictated. Throughout
his book he accuses Army leaders of failing to properly apply
the stategy and tactics of counterinsurgency. "Deeply
imbedded in the service's psyche, conventional operations
held sway over the Army... "(5:164) He maintains that the
Army intended to fight an attrition war and "...gambled that
it could attrite insurgent forces faster than the enemy could
replace them..."(5:177) The Marine Corps on the other hand,
conducted a war based upon its previous experience in
fighting insurgents.(5:172)
Two of the key Marine Corps leaders, Major General Lewis
W. Walt and Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, did have a
clear view of how to conduct a counterinsurgency war.
Krulak, as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific,
wrote several letters to senior administration officials

outlining Marine programs and emphasizing the necessity of
conducting counetrinsurgency operations. He also was a
staunch supporter of Gen Walt, then Commanding General Of the
Third Marine Division and III Marine Amphibious Force (III
MAF) in Vietnam, when he was conducting a number of programs
to defeat the Viet Cong (VC) in I Corps in northern South
Vietnam. It is impossible to determine if the strategy of
the Marines could have won the war. Certainly , without
similar efforts by the Army in the rest of Vietnam, I Corps
would have been an oasis of counterinsurgency in a desert of
attrition warfare. This does not negate the Marine strategy.
The Marine strategy for Vietnam contained many of the
important elements necessary to effectively conduct a
counterinsurgency war.

INSURGENCY ACCORDING TO MAO


Mao Tse-tung is often viewed as the father of modern
insurgency. His treatise, Guerrilla Warfare, provides
detailed philosophy and principles for the conduct of war by
the people for reasons of nationalism and ideology. To come
to an understanding of guerrilla warfare in general and the
war in Vietnam specifically, it is important to review the
principles that Mao advocates. These principles are the key
to guerrilla strategy and can serve as a basis for
highlighting the strategy of counterinsurgency.
Guerrilla Warfare was written in 1937 as a guide for the
communists in China to wage a war against the Japanese. Mao
considers this to be a war of national liberation from the
oppression of the Japanese and generally avoids the usual
communist rhetoric. He does , however ,emphasize that a
guerrilla war cannot be prosecuted separately from politics.

Everyone must understand that the goal is political-freedom
for the Chinese people. This is important because the
guerrillas come from the people and are supported by the
poeple. To gain their support and active participation they
must see and accept the political goal for which they are
fighting.
In his introduction to Mao Tse-tunq on Guerrilla
Warfare, S.B. Griffith provides some of his own insights into
Mao's guerrilla philosophy. Griffith says that there are
three phases in a guerrilla war, phases which are which are
fairly indistinct, flowing and intermingling among one
another. Phase one is a period of establishing the movement
and developing its viability. It seeks to develop the
support of the people who can provide it with men,
intelligence and logistical support. Phase two is more
military oriented, with guerrillas seeking to covertly
eliminate opposition, spread the movement's influence and
attack government outposts for arms, ammunition, and other
military necessities. Local militia units are also organized
to eliminate resistors at the local level. In phase three
the guerrillas begin to band into more conventional military
units to attack and destroy the enemy and achieve victory for
the movement. (13:20-23)


http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1990/PFD.htm



Sempers,

Roger