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Improvising a War: The Pentagon Years 1965-1967: Reminiscences of an Untried Warrior

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Improvising a War

The Pentagon Years 1965-1967

Reminiscences of an Untried Warrior
  • by Benjamin L. Landis
    • Merriam Press Vietnam War Series
      • First Edition 2017
      • 186 6x9-inch pages
      • 10 photos
The United States Amy was ill prepared to engage in a major conflict in Vietnam.  This was the consequence of President Lyndon Johnson deciding that the National Guard and the Reserves would not be called up to support the war effort. Army contingency planning for any major conflict was based on the call up of the National Guard and the Reserves.  Not being authorized to do so increased exponentially the difficulties in meeting the requirements to fight the war in Vietnam.

Between 1965 and 1968 the United States Army almost doubled in size. Who were the additional personnel? Privates fresh out of basic training and second lieutenants fresh out of OCS, ROTC, or West Point.

Improvising a War is the story of how the Army General Staff coped with this challenge to meet the forces requested by the Army headquarters in Vietnam and approved by the Secretary of Defense.

The author arrived for duty in the Pentagon two days after the first major combat units (1st Infantry Division, 1st Air Cavalry Division) departed for Vietnam and after the creation of the Committee for Unit Deployments to Vietnam on the same day. One day later he became the Representative of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel on this Committee. The responsibility of this committee was to ensure that the units requested and approved were sent to Vietnam on their scheduled dates.

Improvising a War recounts how the committee accomplished its mission (not always successfully) with particular emphasis on the personnel challenges.

The Author: Benjamin L. Landis

Graduate, United States Military Academy, 1946; Graduate, French Army General Staff School, 1957; obtained an MSA (Business Financial Management, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., 1972; retired as Colonel 1973; after retirement he became the Director of Administration and Finance for three major Washington, D.C., law firms; in 1986 with four partners he formed a management consulting firm for law firms; he retired in 1992.

He is the author of The Governance of Law Firms: The Business of Practicing Law and an expanded and updated version several years after the initial publication. He is also the author of Searching For Stability: The World in the Twenty-First Century and is the author of numerous articles on the web site

  • Chapter 1: Preface
  • Chapter 2: Prelude
  • Chapter 3: Day One
  • Chapter 4: Day Two and Thereafter
  • Chapter 5: On My Own
  • Chapter 6: Well Diggers, Divers, Railroaders and Stevedores
  • Chapter 7: The Problems Never End
  • Chapter 8: The 9th Infantry Division
  • Chapter 9: Modified Tables of Organization and Equipment (MTOE)
  • Chapter 10: Getting the Job Done
  • Chapter 11: Senator Margaret Chase Smith
  • Chapter 12: The 196th Infantry Brigade
  • Chapter 13: Getting Organized, Finally
  • Chapter 14: The 25th Infantry Division
  • Chapter 15: The Drawdown
  • Chapter 16: Unit Readiness
  • Chapter 17: DA Versus DOD
  • Chapter 18: The Pacing Units
  • Chapter 19: The Engineer Construction Battalions
  • Chapter 20: Postlude
  • Appendix: Army Regulations 220-1


Landis was there and knows what he's talking about. If you want some insight about those years read it.
—N. McCord

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