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Combined Action Platoons: A Strategy for Peace Enforcement

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Research paper

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The concept of the Combined Action Platoon CAP, as it evolved in Vietnam, has potential applications in Operations Other Than War, particularly Chapter VII United Nations Peace Enforcement missions. FMFM 1-1, Campaigning, cites the Combined Action Program as an example of a short-lived but successful concept. If the Combined Action Platoons were successful, then how would the concept interface with todays doctrine in Peace KeepingEnforcement missions Earlier this century, the Marine Corps was often called State Departments troops, and during the 1960s the term Ambassadors in Green was used. As the budget dictates a smaller force with no foreseeable respite in overseas commitments, the Marines are searching for a model to handle this challenge. Operations such as those conducted in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia are becoming the norm and provide an environment for a CAP-style operation to be successfully employed. Sea Dragon may be the Marine Corps second generation of a CAP-style operation that handles the challenges of reduction in forces and commitments. The lessons learned from the CAP experience is that the use of firepower is only half of the pacification equation. The other half, as highlighted in the Small Wars Manual, is, in order to have long-term success, winning the trust of the indigenous population is a priority and must occur. For a short time in Vietnam, the CAP did just that by denying the enemy a safe haven in the local village and hamlets. The Marine Corps challenge will be maintaining the balance between tactics and politics. CAPs were the village nexus for tactics and politics in Vietnam as Sea Dragon must become in future operations other than war.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Unconventional Warfare

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