Military assistance advisory groups (MAAGs) played an important part in United States strategy during the first two decades of the Cold War. From 1947 to 1963, the US provided billions of dollars in military weapons, equipment, and supplies to its allies, in an attempt to strengthen them against real and perceived communist threats. The advisors managed the delivery of this materiel and trained combat and support troops in dozens of nations. In some cases, the advisors provided direct guidance to allies at war. The armed forces committed thousands of officers to the advisory effort.
The advisory groups, for a variety of reasons, achieved only mixed success. The advisors received very limited advisory training, served short tours of duty, and could rarely speak the native language of the host military. There were strict financial and time limitations of military assistance. Lastly, the advisors themselves emphasized training that reflected resource-intense American warfare, inappropriate for many of its allies. Though assistance and advising strengthened several allies and helped others defeat communist enemies, no recipient of aid was able to provide for its own defense without US support, and the advisory mission to South Vietnam ended in disaster.
This work uses previously unpublished primary documents from several archives to show how the advisors worked with and trained foreign militaries around the world. It also examines the training and lives of the advisors themselves, as they lived in cultures much different than their own and reflected on their experiences.
- Linn, Brian Professor