December 12

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Dec 12, 1969:

Philippine soldiers depart South Vietnam

The Philippine Civic Action Group, a 1,350-man contingent from the Army of the Philippines, departs South Vietnam.

The contingent was part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The effort was also known as the "many flags" program.

The Philippine Civic Action Group entered Vietnam in September 1966, setting up operations in a base camp in Tay Ninh Province northwest of Saigon. The force included an engineer construction battalion, medical and rural community development teams, a security battalion, a field artillery battery, and a logistics and headquarters element.

In agreeing to commit troops, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was partially motivated by the desire for financial aid. In return for the military assistance, the United States not only agreed to pay for the deployment and maintenance of the Philippine force, but also granted Marcos several types of military aid, much of it for use in the Philippines rather than in South Vietnam.

Ultimately, Johnson's Free World Military Forces program failed. The Philippines was one of only five nations that responded to Johnson's repeated plea for military support and troops in South Vietnam.

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