June 20

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jun 20, 1972:

Abrams appointed as Army Chief of Staff

President Richard Nixon appoints General Creighton W. Abrams, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, to be U.S. Army Chief of Staff. Abrams had become Gen. William Westmoreland's deputy in 1967, and succeeded him as commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam in July 1968 when Westmoreland returned to the United States to become the Chief of Staff of the Army. As Westmoreland's successor, Abrams faced the difficult task of implementing the Vietnamization program instituted by the Nixon administration. This included the gradual reduction of American forces in Vietnam while attempting to increase the combat capabilities of the South Vietnamese armed forces. At the same time, he had to keep the North Vietnamese forces at bay; the Cambodian "incursion" in 1970 was part of his plan to take pressure off the Vietnamization effort and the U.S. troop withdrawals. It was hoped that a successful campaign in Cambodia would reduce the infiltration of North Vietnamese troops and equipment into South Vietnam while the effort continued to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so that U.S. troops could be withdrawn on schedule.

General Abrams again succeeded General Westmoreland in 1972 when he returned to the Pentagon to become the Chief of Staff of the Army. Among his major contributions in that position were the plans and strategies for the post-Vietnam U.S. Army and his revitalization of the Army following its withdrawal from Vietnam. General Abrams died in office on September 4, 1974.

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