In the early days of Marine involvement in Vietnam, it quickly became apparent that doctrines drawn from fighting the Japanese and the North Koreans were insufficient for fighting the Vietcong. The Japanese, North Koreans, and Chinese had used defined front lines, something the VC explicitly did not. Stopping small, mobile units of guerrillas with conventional infantry formations was not working. The reaction time for large formations was too long; the orders process alone was prohibitive for tactical agility.
In 1965, it was becoming obvious that something else was needed. Up until that time, Reconnaissance assets were considered strictly non-combat support elements. They were intended to go in lightly armed, lightly burdened, look around, and get out. It took some doing to even get higher headquarters to consider applying Recon to a combat role. It was actually doctrine, according to FMFM 2-2, that the Force Recon Company had “no offensive capability and is not employed as a tactical unit…”
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