Manufactured in the Civil Affairs first-named branch color of purple (cable number 65009), our suspenders come in two styles, clip-on and button-loop. Both are approved by U.S. Army regulations, which specify only that suspenders be of a commercial design and are not visible when worn with dress uniforms.
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The Vietnam War was the first major conflict involving the United States following the establishment of the Civil Affairs/Military Government branch within the Army Reserve (it was redesignated as simply the Civil Affair branch in 1959). A major component of the United States military efforts in Vietnam involved counterinsurgency operations designed to enlist the assistance and support of the South Vietnamese, particularly from those in rural areas who were susceptible not only to military threats from North Vietnamese threats, but also were tempted by the Communist message of wealth redistribution.

One of the first efforts by South Vietnam and the United States military to staunch Communist infiltration and influence in the rural areas of South Vietnam was the Strategic Hamlet Program, which sought to turn every village into a fortified stronghold complete with barbed-wire emplacements and guard towers. For a number of reasons, the program was a complete failure, and by the mid-1960s it was abandoned in favor of a program of “pacification”—assisting villagers in economic development and infrastructure creation and maintenance, while simultaneously seeking to neutralize the military capability of the Viet Cong and encourage its adherents to defect to the South Vietnamese cause.

To implement the new strategy, an organization called the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, or CORDS, was established in May, 1967; the name was later changed to Civil Operations and Rural Development and Support to more accurately reflect the group’s mission. It marked the first time in U.S. military history that a civilian—in this case, the Ambassador to Vietnam—was given the authority to command military personnel and exploit their resources as needed.

At the same time, CORDS was a part of the American military headquarters, the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), and therefore was under the ultimate command of MACV head General William Westmoreland—yet it was able to access direct lines of communication and command to the units carrying out the civil affairs mission in the field. Never before had Civil Affairs played such a prominent role in such a major aspect of a Unite States military effort.

In hindsight, it can be difficult to judge just how effective the civil-military operations conducted by CORDS really were, not only because any successes it achieved were ultimately wiped away by the failure of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to defeat North Vietnamese forces in conventional warfare, but also because it was discontinued when the U.S. withdrew its military forces in 1973. Nonetheless, it provided valuable lessons for the future role of Civil Affairs personnel in future conflicts where ultimate victory would depend heavily on winning the support of the civilian population and its representatives in government.

Civil Affairs Command Insignia
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