MAAG - Thailand
Advisory Group (MAAG) Thailand, established September 1950.
JUSMAGTHAI established September 22, 1953 superseding the Military Assistance
Advisory Group (MAAG) Thailand.
9th LOGISTICAL COMMAND
first U.S. Army aviation units arrived in Vietnam in December 1961, the need
for logistical support sharply increased. The 9th Logistic Command on Okinawa
to send an eleven-man logistic support team to South Vietnam on 17 December
This team would eventually become the headquarters of the U.S. Army, Vietnam, the Army component of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
US MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND, VIETNAM-THAILAND
MACTHAI established May 15, 1962, with Gen. Paul D. Harkins, commanding MACV, given simultaneous command of MACTHAI initially consisted of the following: A U.S. joint task force (JTF 116) in Thailand deployed as an element of the SEATO exercise and later held there because of Communist activity in Laos; the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group, Thailand (JUSMAG); and other U.S. Military elements deployed to Thailand, many from Okinawa. Army units in Thailand were placed directly under MACTHAI on October 30, 1962. The original designation of MACTHAI was U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Thailand and called the Military Assistance Group in Thailand (MAGTHAI). MACTHAI would have operational control over all U.S. forces in Thailand.
established September 22, 1953, superseding the Military Assistance Advisory
Group (MAAG) Thailand, established September 1950.
MACTHAI established May 15,
1962, with Gen. Paul D. Harkins, commanding MACV (SEE 472.3), given
simultaneous command of MACTHAI.
Coordination of MACTHAI and JUSMAGTHAI
activities effected through the appointment of Chief of JUSMAGTHAI as Deputy
Commander, MACTHAI, October 31, 1962, with responsibility for operational
control of U.S. logistical troops in Thailand.
Chief of JUSMAGTHAI named
Commander, MACTHAI, July 10, 1965, with headquarters in Bangkok.
JUSMAGTHAI formally combined to form new organization, MACTHAI/JUSMAGTHAI,
April 21, 1975.
MACTHAI/JUSMAGTHAI was abolished July 20, 1976 and returned to the designation of JUSMAGTHAI.
JUSMAGTHAI continued operating under CINCPAC in Bangkok.
Reorganization of CINCPAC, changed US Army Pacific forces into the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii.
JUSMAGTHAI is now the dominant part of USPACOM in Thailand and is currently located in Bangkok and has a website JUSMAGTHAI.
HISTORY OF DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI – TIMELINE
SUBJECT: TIMELINE HISTORY OF DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI WITH A LITTLE MACTHAI ADDED AT THE END
Tommy Odorne (O.D.)
Submitted by Terry Colvin
June 26, 2019, 01:06:54 PM »
John, since you're our historian and I'm not one to make a long story
short, here is what my researched turned up. I was assigned to DEPCH from
August 1969 through May of 1971. The unit is listed as DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI with
duty station Project 404 APO SF 96237. I never really knew what that was all about or what I was involved in, so in the late
1990's I began to do research on it. So here is the timeline and explanations
of what I found out. DEPCH stands for Deputy Chief Joint United States Advisory
Group Thailand. The research, timeline below will expand on that as DEPCH had
nothing to do with Thailand and everything to do with Laos. I loved the name
change and it worked beautifully.
TIMELINE HISTORY OF DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI
(WITH A LITTLE MACTHAI ADDED AT THE END)
1955 USOM PEO Established (Served as MAAG Laos since MAAG was prohibited by the 1954 Geneva Agreements.)
1957 Project Erawan begins the training of Laotian Military by the Thai’s. CAT begins operation in Laos on permanent basis.
1959 CAT Changes name to Air America, SF and CAS start working together training and equipping the Hmong.
1961 Project Mill Pond begins; Kennedy authorizes USOM PEO to openly operate as MAAG Laos, SF Teams in Laos now officially known as White Star Teams
1962 After the Geneva Accords, MAAG Laos packed up shop in Vientiane and moved first to Nong Khai and then to Bangkok. General Tucker changed the name from MAAG Laos to DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI to give MAAG Laos a name change that would keep its mission secret. No one would suspect a unit named DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI was in reality MAAG Laos and everyone would assume DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI was a subordinate unit of the real JUSMAGTHAI located across town on Satorn Road.
NONE OF THIS MAKES MUCH SENSE IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUSMAGTHAI LOCATED ON SATORN ROAD IN THE THAI SUPREME MILITARY HEADQUARTERS COMPOUND AND DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI LOCATED ON THE 5TH AND 6TH FLOORS OF THE CAPITAL HOTEL ON PHAHON YOTHIN ROAD. THESE WERE TWO DIFFERENT ORGINAZATION WHICH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OTHER. JUSMAGTHAI MISSION WAS SOLELY WITH THE THAI MILITARY, DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI DEALT WITH MILITARY OPERATIONS, PERSONNEL, LOGISITICS, FUNDS, TRAINING AND OTHER THINGS FOR LAOS.
White Star teams and other parts of MAAG Laos stayed in Bangkok for a while and were known as the DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI US ARMY ELEMENT ADVISORY GROUP Bangkok and moved into the Capital Hotel. What Air Force was part of this organization is unknown as MAAG Laos while in Vientiane got most of its Air Support from Air America. Both Pepper Grinder operations and Red Cap begins. Ambassador Unger approves 30 retired US military officers to reenter Laos under the control of USAID/RO. The CIA’s 4802nd JLD created at Udorn.
1963 With the departure of the last White Star Teams, DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI US ARMY ELEMENT ADVISORY GROUP BANGKOK, DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI assumes just an assistance mission for Laos.
1964 Operation Water Pump begins the training of Royal Lao Air Force at Udorn.
1966 Project 404 begins with 120 active duty US Air Force and Army personnel allowed to enter Laos. These active duty military would be under the operational control of the Attaches in Vientiane. The Army personnel were divided among the regional liaison detachments and the USAF personnel divided between AOC’s.
1967 Project Heavy Green starts
1968 Lima Site 85 falls to the NVA
1969 Project 404 personnel begin to get back into the training and advising of FAR/FAN forces that had been missing since the departure of MAAG Laos in 1962.
1971 DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI moves to Udorn. DEPCH started training KHMER Air Force and Army or had a role in it, most likely working hand and glove with MEDT-C and the Thai Government. USMACTHAI/JTD assumed Water Pump, at least responsible for providing USAF Trainers and equipment, this most likely a result of the funding crisis implemented by Congress, known as the Symington Ceiling.
1972 DEPCH regains control of the Project 404 personnel in Laos from the Attaches and training and advising continues to increase of the FAR/FAN forces.
1975 In December, DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI disbands.
EVOLUTION OF DEPCH
1. Prior to 1962, MAAG Laos was mostly an Army run organization, White Star teams providing the advisory capacity and going out on missions with FAR, this included supply and training, CAS and SF (White Star teams) were training and supplying VP and the Hmong, along with other tribes of mountain yards. Air America provided most of the Air Support needed at this time.
2. After the Geneva Accords of 1962, MAAG Laos moved from Vientiane to Nong Khai across the Mekong River into Thailand. MAAG Laos was intact there and still had the capability to perform a full blown MAAG Mission. After the move from Nong Khai to Bangkok, General Tucker changed its name from MAAG Laos to DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI in order to provide cover and hid its true mission to Laos. This included some of the White Star teams which now became known as DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI-US ARMY ELEMENT ADVISORY GROUP BANGKOK. Then an evolution began. At the end of 1962, DEPCH still had all the capability of a MAAG, both with the advisor and assistance capabilities, but had started on its way to becoming a logistical supply agency more than a MAAG, providing war materials to the RLG. In funding the war, most funds went from the CIA to DOD to DEPCH to pay for both the humanitarian and the war effort in Laos. Prior contracts issued in either USOM PEO or USAID RO was changed to read DEPCH, DEPCH than became one of the prime issuer of contracts in support of the war. DEPCH started to be a cover organization for active duty military being assigned to operations such as both Peppergrinders on Udorn and the other outside Ramason RRSOU Station and Red Cap located at Don Muang RTAFB in Thailand, but no active duty military authorized inside Laos proper. The Peppergrinder out side Ramason was a huge ammo dump and the Peppergrinder on Udorn, known as AB-1 was where these supplies were flown into Laos by Air America. Ambassador Unger approved 30 retired military to go into Laos in support of USAID RO and to help CAS with the war effort; these were attached to the Attaché. I have been unable to find any break down of MOS/AFOS.
3. By the end of 1963, the US ARMY ELEMENT ADVISORY GROUP BANGKOK had departed, with them the Advisory portion of the MAAG mission was gone, DEPCH had become the Intelligence, Personnel, Logistical center for war supplies and various other aid and augmentations to Laos. This could explain why DEPCH and 9th Log were located in the same Hotel in Bangkok, the Capital Hotel.
4. In 1964, with the beginning of Project Waterpump, training of Lao Pilots in Udorn, DEPCH was tasked to provide Air Force help to the CIA’s 4802JLD.
5. 1966 established Project 404, active duty military were sent into Laos to provide support for the air war going on over Laos; most of these were commo, admin, intel and logistical types. They were assigned to the Attaché and came under the Attaches control once in Laos, although they were assigned to DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI. These included the Ravens, FAC’s. I was a commo guy assigned to Project 404 in 1969-71, I was with ARMA and provided commo support, but we did get in some SF in from the 9th SF Group in Okinawa to provide some training for the FAR. By 1972, with control of Project 404 personnel in Laos back under DEPCH, Project 404 personnel became more vigorous and expanded their advising and training of the FAR/FAN forces. DEPCH was back to being a fully fledged MAAG. Up till this time, most of the support Project 404 provided fell under the AIRA’s discretion and the air war with scant attention given to the Lao Army. CAS concentrated on the Hmong, Kha and different Mountainyard tribes of Laos.
6. 1970/71 The Veil of Secrecy comes to an end and the secret war in Laos become public knowledge. During this time frame, DEPCH also started providing training, personnel and logistical support for the Khmer Air Force and Army. The training of Cambodians took place south of and on Ubon RTAFB, Khmer Air Force most likely on Ubon and the Khmer Army South of Ubon and in and around Pakse, Laos.
7. In 1971DEPCH moved its Bangkok Headquarters and the Laotian operation to Udorn RTAFB. In 1973 USMACTHAI took over operation Water Pump, the training of both Lao and Khmer Air Force Pilots. MEDT-C had been responsible for Cambodian military aid and training, now MACTHAI joined the parade as MEDT-C did have a LNO office on the 2nd floor of the JUSMAG/MACTHAI Compound in Bangkok to help coordinate activities in Cambodia.
8. 1975 DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI disbands.
It seems once MAAG Laos moved from Vientiane to Thailand and MG Tucker changed the name from MAAG Laos to DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI, a transformation took place. In a year or two, the advisory portion of a MAAG become almost nonexistent, the assistance portion grew to huge portions, covering everything from personnel, ammo, intel, logistics, funding and more to the Royal Lao Government and various U.S. agencies operating in Laos itself. Beginning in 1966, with Project 404 DEPCH provided active duty military to the Attaches in support of the air war. This began to change in 1969 and by 1972 DEPCH was back doing the full scope of a MAAG mission; DEPCH accomplished this by taking control of Project 404 personnel in Laos from the Attaches, making them answerable to DEPCH himself, BG Vessey.
Another project for a different day, would be to see exactly what role USMACTHAI played in all of this. Below is what I have learned so far. In 1962 USMACTHAI was established under the command of General Harkins, MACV with the Commander of MACTHAI made his deputy. The establishment of MACTHAI by President Kennedy was the direct result of the fiasco of Nam Tha in Laos where the Royal Laotians were routed by the Pathet Lao with help from 5 battalions of PAVN in early 1962. MACTHAI’s formation was to assist the Thai’s in aiding the Royal Laotian Military in their war against the Pathet Lao and the People’s Army of Vietnam which increasingly sent more and more troops, equipment and supplies into Laos to help their communist comrades, the Pathet Lao. MAAG-Thailand which was established in 1950 became known as JUSMAGTHAI in 1953 located at Don Muang RTAFB. In 1965 the Chief JUSMAGTHAI became dual hatted as he became commander of both JUSMAGTHAI and MACTHAI. MACTHAI was no longer under MACV. In July of 1976, MACTHAI was disbanded, leaving JUSMAGTHAI again by itself which still exists today in the same compound on Satorn Road, Bangkok.
In 1973 the Water Pump unit was taken away from the 56th ACW and transferred to USMACTHAI and the Thailand Liaison Detachment. MACTHAI/JTD now was in charge of training of Lao and Cambodians pilots. 46th SF out of Lopburi was soon training both Lao and Khmer Army students south of Ubon and outside Pakse in Laos. DEPCH would continue its operations of advising and assisting the Lao Armed Forces in Laos, but across the Mekong, it would be USMACTHAI. After 1973, USMACTHAI had become very active in Cambodian Operations, I seen this in the message traffic I processed and sent, in fact Cambodia had top priority even over Vietnam. This would also explain why MACTHAI J-3 was sending out ARC LIGHT strike requests with coordination with 7/13AF LNO also located in the JUSMAGTHAI Compound on Satorn. The bottom line is after 1973; USMACTHAI was in the training and funding business of both the Lao (Taking up some slack from DEPCH) and the Khmer Armed Forces. USMACTHAI and the Thailand Liaison Detachment were handling most of the in country training going on in Thailand. DEPCH was now back at being a full fledge MAAG and doing the same in Laos, while MEDT-C was doing its thing inside Cambodia.
Books, sites, etc where I got most of the above information in addition to my personal experience in my 10 years in SEA.
Air America in Laos I
Air America in Laos II
Air America in Laos III
Air America C-123
Air America C-130
Air America in Cambodia – LMAT and the Khmer Air Force
Norman Crockers T-28
There were a couple of other web sites, but lost when my computer crashed.
E-Mails from TLC-B brothers and a couple of non members I knew in Laos and Bangkok.
Backfire by Roger Warner
At War, in the Shadows of Vietnam – U.S. Military Aid to the Royal Lao Government 1955-1975 by Timothy N. Castle
Shadow War – The CIA’s Secret War in Laos by Kenneth Conboy
My own Personnel Experience
Acronyms Used in My Research
ACW Air Commando Wing
AFOS Air Force Occupational Specialty
AIRA Air Attaché
AOC Area Operations Centers
ARC LIGHT B-52 Strikes or Sorties
ARMA Army Attaché
CAS Controlled American Source (Overseas Name for the CIA)
CAT Civil Air Transport
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
DEPCH Short for DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI
DEPCHJUSMAGTHAI Deputy Chief Joint United States Military Advisory Group Thailand
DOD Department of Defense
FAC Forward Air Controller
FAR Forces Armies Royal – The Royal Lao Army
FAN Forces Armies Neutralist – Captian Kong Le’s troops which first sided with the PL and later with the Royal Lao Army.
JLD Joint Liaison Detachment
JTD Joint Training Detachment
JUSMAGTHAI Joint United states Military Advisory Group Thailand
LNO Liaison Office
MAAG Laos Military Advisory and Assistance Group Laos
MACV Military Assistance Command Vietnam
MEDT-C Military Equipment Delivery Team Cambodia
MOS Military Occupational Specialty
NVA North Vietnamese Army
PAVN Peoples Army of Vietnam – the North Vietnamese – the bad guys
PL Pathet Lao More bad guys, the Communist Laotians
RLG Royal Laotian Government
RTAFB Royal Thai Air Force Base
SF Special Forces
USAF United States Air Force
USAID/RO United States Agency for International Development Requirements Office
USMACTHAI United States Military Assistance Command Thailand
USOM-PEO United States Oversea Mission Programs and Evaluations Office
VP An affectionate term used for General Vang Pao
I'll add that in May 1967 I was assigned to the 105th Signal Det in Bangkok and worked in the Bangkok Area Commcenter located on the 2nd floor of the Capital Hotel. We provided communications for DEPCH which is how I came to know that unit. When it came time to leave Bangkok in August of 1969 I volunteered for Laos and the rest is history as they say.
Bangkok 67-69 & 73-76 Laos 69-71 RVN 71-73