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Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) is a designation for Americanmarker military advisors sent to assist in the training of conventional armed forces of Third World countries. Before and during the Vietnam War, there were three of these groups operating in Southeast Asia.

MAAG, Indochina; MAAG, Vietnam

In September 1950, US President Harry Truman sent the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to Vietnammarker to assist the Frenchmarker in the First Indochina war. The President claimed they were not sent as combat troops, but to supervise the use of $10 million worth of US military equipment to support the French in their effort to fight the Viet Minh forces.

The French Army however, was resistant to take U.S. advice, and would not allow the Vietnamese army to be trained to use the new equipment, because it went against French policy. They were supposed to not only defeat enemy forces but to solidify themselves as a colonial power, and they could not do this with a Vietnamese Army. French commanders were so reluctant to accept advice that would weaken their time-honored colonial role that they got in the way of the various attempts by the MAAG to observe where the equipment was being sent and how it was being used. Eventually the French decided to cooperate, but at that point it was too late.

In 1954 the commanding general of French forces in Indochina, General Henri Navarre, allowed the United States to send liaison officers to Vietnamese forces. But it was too late, because of the siege and fall of Dien Bien Phumarker in the spring. As stated by the Geneva Accords, France was forced to surrender the northern half of Vietnam and to withdraw from South Vietnam by April 1956.

On 1955-02-12 at a conference in Washington, D.C., between officials of the U.S. State Departmentmarker and the French Minister of Overseas Affairs, it was agreed that all U.S. aid would be funneled directly to South Vietnam and that all major military responsibilities would be transferred from the French to the MAAG under the command of Lieutenant General John O'Daniel. A problem arose however, because the French Expeditionary Force had to be departed from South Vietnam in April 1956 as directed by the Accords. To fill the void of lost French soldiers, the MAAG mission was increased to 740 men by the end of June.

For the next few years there was a power struggle in South Vietnam. The American advisors were not put in the high ranking positions, and President Diem, of South Vietnam, was reluctant to allow American advisers with Vietnamese tactical units. He was afraid that the United States would gain control or influence over his forces if Americans got into the ranks of the army. However, by 1961, communist guerrillas were becoming stronger and more active. This increased enemy contacts in size and intensity throughout South Vietnam. This made it clear that the terms of the Geneva Agreements regarding territorial boundaries were not going to be abided by.

As the presidency changed in America, President John F. Kennedy, during the spring of 1961, increased the U.S. military commitment in both equipment and men. Aid increased from $50 million per year to $144 million for 1961. At the same time President Diem agreed to the assignment of advisers to battalion level. This significantly increased the number of advisors. So much that it went out of Geneva agreement guidelines.

After the French defeat, it was renamed the MAAG, Vietnam in 1955, and in 1964 was merged into the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), when the United States became more deeply involved in what would come to be known as the Vietnam War. The number of advisors rose from 746 in 1961 to over 3,400 before MAAG was placed under MACV and renamed the Field Advisory Element, Vietnam. At the peak of the war in 1968, 9,430 Army personnel acted as advisors down to the district and battalion level to train, advise and mentor the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps, Republic of Vietnam Navy and the Vietnam Air Force.

MAAG, Indochina had three commanders: Brig.Gen. Francis G. Brink, October 1950-August 1952; Maj.Gen. Thomas J. H. Trapnell, August 1952-April 1954; and LtGen John W. O'Daniel, April 1954-November 1955. MAAG, Vietnam was commanded by Lt.Gen. Samuel T. Williams, November 1955-September 1960; Lt.Gen. Lionel C. McGarr, September 1960-July 1962; and Maj.Gen. Charles J. Timmes, July 1962-May 1964.


MAAG Laos was established in 1961 to replace the Programs Evaluation Office in its support of the Royal Lao Army's fight against the communist Pathet Lao. On July 23, 1962, several interested countries agreed in Geneva to guarantee the neutrality and independence of Laos. As such, the US removed the MAAG, replacing it with a "Requirements Office", which served as a convenient cover for the CIA activities. Military advisors thereafter became Army (ARMA) and Air Force Attach├ęs (AIRA) to the U.S.marker Embassy in Vientianemarker under "Project White Star" Mobile Training Teams (later renamed "Project 404").

One of MAAG Laos' commanders was Reuben Tucker.

MAAG Cambodia

MAAG Cambodia operated from 1955-1964 to advise the Cambodian government.

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