In a recent email conversation I had with Col Frank Hackley, USA, Retired, I mentioned that I had been watching the Ken Burns series on Vietnam on PBS and was thinking of him as I saw the kazillions of rounds of small arms ammunition (SAA) being expended. I remembered that Frank was deeply involved with the acquisition and distribution of SAA in that war. He replied with the following, shared here with his permission:
"The control of ammunition used in the Vietnam conflict was centrally managed out of Ft. Shafter, Hawaii by a very effective and dedicated group of ladies we called the Hawaii Five “O”. Our group in VN was primarily involved in recording and predicting consumption rates, so we could keep the supplies at some level so we did not run out of ammo. We also maintained reserves in Okinawa and afloat off VN in cargo ships that could react to any unanticipated surges. Also, all combat units maintained a basic load at the company and battalion level, that was replenished daily as needed from a network of ASP’s (Ammo Supply Points) positioned throughout VN. We were in touch with Hawaii on a hour to hour basis and they in turn with APSA (Ammo Procurement and Supply Agency) in Joliet, Il. to maintain the production at the Gov’t and contractor plants at the proper levels to support the war.
By 1970-1971, we were ordered to reduce the DOS (Days of Supply) held “in country” from 60 DOS to 30 DOS and later 21 DOS because of the fear that if the situation collapsed from either a political or military standpoint our stockpiles would be captured by the VC/NVN. Needless to say, this caused some concern and constant intense management to prevent any shortages developing. I had a Major working for me that was a Math Major and a genius in tabulating and planning consumption rates and he working with the Five “O” somehow kept things in balance.
Shortages did crop-up but we always seemed to somehow work it out, in some cases even “borrowing” items from the other services and allies."
In an earlier conversation, Frank told me that on one visit to a base, there was a stockpile of bombs for which there were no fuzes available. As an experiment, one of these was loaded aboard an aircraft which “delivered” it to an empty field where it functioned normally with a huge bang and fireball. So, all of the others were loaded up and delivered to the enemy, and they all functioned normally. Somebody said, about war: “If it’s a stupid idea, but it works, it’s not stupid.”