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The Combined Action Platoons: The U.S. Marines' Other War in Vietnam [Hardcover]

Michael Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

June 26, 1989 0275932583 978-0275932589

This is the first comprehensive history for the academic reader of the Combined Action Program (CAP) in Vietnam. Created as a response by the U.S. Marines to what was known as the other war in Vietnam, the CAP Program was comprised of platoons each combining a fourteen man marine rifle squad, a navy corpsman, and a platoon of South Vietnamese militia. These CAP units were unique to the war. Their function was to capture and hold rather than to search and destroy. While the main forces of the Army and Marines all too often waged war on the Vietnamese hamlets, the CAP marines waged war from the hamlets. Their intent was to keep the hamlet intact. The uniqueness of the CAP Program justifies this study not only from an historical and political perspective but also sociologically. The CAP Marines were among the few Americans who lived with the Vietnamese in their own setting for long periods of time, developing community projects and civic action programs. The 1980s has brought about a resurgence of valuable research, the declassification of official documentation, and most important, an emotional distance from the trauma of defeat. The author takes full advantage of these conditions to present a thorough and comprehensive history and civic program analysis.

Many critics of the Vietnam War now agree that the tactics of the Combined Action Program were among the most promising of the war. The CAP Marines fought a deadly and personal war with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. In this volume, the author achieves his twofold objective. He not only provides a valuable historical account of the Program, but also analyzes the civic action and community development projects undertaken by the CAP Marines. His study is done with an eye to the future as U.S. counterinsurgency has again found expression in other Third World conflicts.


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About the Author

MICHAEL E. PETERSON was a "by product of the converging and confusing forces of 1950s anti-communism and 1960s idealism," as he puts it. He enlisted in the Marines and served in Vietnam during 1968 with the First Marine Division. He extended his tour of duty twice to serve with the Combined Action Program.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (June 26, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275932583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275932589
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,371,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book provides readers with an excellent view of the history of the US Marine Corps Combined Action Program in Vietnam. It should be noted that author served in this program. The book was published in 1989.

The CAP concept came into being as a result of what the author calls a bitter disagreement as to what ought to constitute the appropriate strategy for the conduct of the war. General Westmoreland favored the use of massive firepower and massive formations used on "search and destroy" operations. Marine Corps leadership disagreed believing that the main effort should be at the hamlet and village levels. The disagreement was settled with a compromise. The Marines would also conduct search and destroy missions along with counter-insurgency and pacification efforts.

The book traces the buildup of the CAP program, initially called CAC but changed after it became known that the word in Vietnamese which sounds like CAC means what one might guess it could mean.

An expansion of the program took place during the years 1966 until it reached its peak in 1969 with more than 100 units located in the five provinces of I Corps Region. By late 1969 deactivation of the CAP Units had begun. The stand down was completed in May of 1971.

This book describes many events, successes and failures, during the life of the Combined Action Program in Vietnam.

Those interested in the history of the Vietnam War should find this book very interesting.
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