Military Records

Office of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support, Military Region 3

The Office of Civil Operations and Rural Development Support, Military Region 3 (CORDS MR3), was activated on May 28, 1967, with the mission of coordinating and managing all pacification and rural development operations and activities in support of the Republic of Vietnam Government in III Corps Tactical Zone/Military Region 3 (IICTZ/MR3). Military Region III, located in south central South Vietnam, contained the following provinces: Phuoc Long, Long Khanh, Binh Tuy, Binh Long, Binh Duong, Bien Hoa, Phuoc Tuy, Tay Ninh, Hau Nghia, Gia Dinh, and Long An.

The various divisions within CORDS, MR3 changed names several times over a period of six years, but their functions remained fairly constant. The hierarchy was generally as follows: Deputy for CORDS (DEPCORDS), an assistant Deputy for CORDS, and then two offices; the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Office of Program Coordination. Under these there were eleven divisions: the Public Safety Division, the Pacification and Security Coordination Division; the RF/PF (Regional and Popular Forces) Advisory Division; the Phoenix Division; the Chieu Hoi Division; the Psychological Operations Division; the Refugee Division; the Public Health Division; the Management Support Division; the Political Advisor; and the New Life Development Division.

The Deputy for CORDS (DEPCORDS)

The DEPCORDS supervised the formulation and execution of all military and civilian plans, policies, and programs which supported the Pacification Program of the Government of Vietnam (GVN). Additionally the DEPCORDS supervised all the Province Senior Advisors in MR3.

The Assistant Deputy for CORDS

  • The Assistant Deputy for CORDS headed the CORDS, MR3 staff. In doing so he formulated policy for the general operation of the staff, directed, supervised, and integrated the work of the staff and insured that orders and instructions of the DEPCORDS were executed. In the absence of the DEPCORDS the Assistant Deputy served in his place.

The Office of the Executive Secretary

  • The Office of the Executive Secretary coordinated communications between the command group and all the divisions of CORDS, MR3. The Office assigned action responsibility to elements of CORDS, MR3 staff for matters relating to requirements originating from higher headquarters and the command group. The Office issued directives for the operation of CORDS, MR3 based on policies established by the Assistant DEPCORDS. The Office was also responsible for keeping the command group advised on all matters of executive interest relating to management and operations within CORDS, MR3. The Office additionally served as a recording and control center for executive information and monitored the military awards and decorations program.

The Office of Program Coordination (OPC)

  • The OPC served as the supervisory office of all programs within MR3. The Office established program policy and coordinated all civil and military US program planning, funding, reporting, and evaluating for the GVN Pacification and Development Program in MR3. The Office developed and elicited information and evaluations of on-going projects from MR3 division directors and made recommendations to the DEPCORDS regarding these evaluations. Additionally, the Office supervised the management of the CORDS MR3 reports system and prepared the CORDS MR3 Overview based on information obtained from CORDS MR3 divisions, province advisory teams and field trips.

  • The Public Safety Division (PSD)
    • The PSD was responsible for implementing public safety programs and US mission support to various GVN agencies assigned to Public Safety. The Division recommended and implemented policies from the guidelines provided by headquarters and provided planning and technical advice to those GVN agencies at the MR3 level. The PSD had three basic programs for which they were responsible for: the National Police; Telecommunications; and Corrections and Detentions.

  • The Pacification and Security Coordination Division (PSC)
    • The PSC was responsible for coordinating the CORDS MR3 activities relating to pacification security.

  • The Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF) Advisory Division
    • The RF/PF Advisory Division (which became the Territorial Forces Advisory Division in 1970) was responsible for advising the RF/PF Commander and his staff on policies and programs on employment of the RF/PF and evaluating their effectiveness. Additionally, they kept the DEPCORDS informed of the progress and status of the RF/PF as well as acting as a coordinating office with other MACV staff agencies for RF/PF activities. The RF/PF were in charge of territorial security in MR3. The Regional Forces were to seek out and destroy the enemy, protect key installations, lines of communications and maintain security for the populace. The Popular Forces were to protect hamlets and villages as well as key installations and lines of communications.

  • The Phung Hoang Division
    • The Phung Hoang Division (which became the Phung Hoang Division in 1971) was responsible for managing the US Phoenix program within MR3. The mission of the Phoenix program was to assist and advise the GVN in its effort to identify, apprehend, and neutralize the Viet Cong Infrastructure within MR3. The Division provided technical advice, support and assistance to the Capital Military District (CMD) Phoenix Coordinator and the GVN MR3 Phung Hoang Program. The Division also promoted and provided coordination between GVN and US/Free World Military Assistance Forces (FWMAF) in the conduct of anti-Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI) operations and activities within MR3. Additionally, the Division was responsible for keeping the MACCORDS Phoenix Directorate, Saigon informed of Phoenix/Phung Hoang activities within MR3 and reported problems for which there were no locally available solutions. The Division also served as the CORDS MR3 staff point of contact for intelligence.

  • The Chieu Hoi Division (CHD)
    • The CHD was responsible for the Chieu Hoi ("Open Arms") Program and was directed primarily toward Vietnamese people who had given military, political, or economic support to the Viet Cong within MR3, offering those who wished it an opportunity to come over to the side of the GVN. The program tried to induce members of the Viet Cong, North Vietnamese Army, and their supporters to come over to the side of the GVN. The program would then try and convert these people into useful citizens, by means of reindoctrination and training. The program also attempted to collect information from the converts to be used for intelligence and psychological operations purposes. Ultimately, the goal of the program was to weaken the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army by loss of military and civilian personnel and weapons while simultaneously strengthening the GVN.

  • The Psychological Operations Division
    • provided informational and psychological operations support to the GVN pacification and development effort and programs and activities conducted by CORDS within MR3. The Division tried to fulfill three objectives: creating a communications infra-structure by which the GVN could talk to its people; providing training and advice for Vietnamese who were responsible for talking to their people; and providing support to Phoenix, Chieu Hoi, New Life Development and other CORDS projects. Additionally, the Division served as the principal advisor to the Commanding Generals, II FFV and MR3, preparing analyses of the shifting psychological climate within MR3 and recommending psychological operations in support of CORDS policies and programs.

  • The Refugee Division
    • The Refugee Division (which became the War Victims Division in 1971), and the Province Refugee Advisors whom it supported, provided assistance and advice to GVN (primarily the Ministry of Social Welfare, and Relief) officials on the care and handling of refugees from the time of their entrance into refugee status until their re-establishment into Vietnamese society.

  • The Public Health Division
    • The Public Health Division was responsible for supporting many programs aimed at improving the health of the populace of MR3. They provided assistance at province hospitals; trained health personnel; provided preventative medicine teams that investigated epidemic diseases and supported programs for the containment and/or prevention of epidemics; assigned American Public Health Nurses to provinces and municipalities within MR3 and taught public health programs. Additionally, they supported the GVN Minister of Health programs in the fields of nursing, medical logistics, medical construction, refugee health, and hospital administration.

  • The Management Support Division
    • The Management Support Division advised the DEPCORDS on matters relating to management and was the principal CORDS, MR3 representative with respect to administrative and support matters.

  • The Political Advisor.
    • The Political Advisor provided information and advice on political matters which affected pacification and development in MR3 to the DEPCORDS, and to other interested elements of II Field Force Vietnam and CORDS, MR3. Additionally, the Advisor maintained a liaison between CORDS, MR3 and the Embassy Political Section.

  • The New Life Division (NLD)
    • The NLD (which became the Development Division in 1971) mission was to promote the ultimate existence of self-sufficient villages with a strong and positive link to the National Government. In order to fulfill their mission, the Division supported programs dealing with Agriculture, Education, Engineering, Logistics, Community Development, and Public Administration. In addition to having records at the Division level, NARA has records from the:

CORDS, MR3 functioned as a unit until early 1973 when it was dissolved as part of the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.