Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Millett, Allan R.

Second Advisor

Bell, Michael S.

Third Advisor

Calhoun, Mark T.


As Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (J-3) at MACV from 1964-1966, General William DePuy served as the main architect of the campaign strategy implemented by General William Westmoreland in fighting both VC and NVA units during the earliest and most critical years of the Vietnam War. Following his role at MACV, DePuy assumed command of the 1st Infantry Division in March 1966 where he exhibited a distinct command philosophy and transformed the organizational culture of the “Big Red One” through a series of directives and tactical innovations. Most historians are critical of Westmoreland’s chosen strategy as well as DePuy’s operational framework. This thesis examines DePuy’s contributions as MACV J-3 and the operational level of war of the Big Red One under his command where strategy is translated into military action. It argues that despite the war’s final outcome, DePuy understood the Communist threat and, also, simultaneously implemented an appropriate counterinsurgency campaign to address that threat.


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