Southern Vietnam needed an infrastructure to receive military aid. Responsibility for building that necessary infrastructure was given over to the largest construction entity ever, the RMK-BRJ (Raymond International, Morrison-Knudsen, Brown & Root, and J.A. Jones Construction). Calling itself "The Vietnam Builders" and receiving highly lucrative "no bid" contracts, this consortium of private corporations was to turn southern Vietnam into a modern, integrated military installation that would enable the United States to properly defend its client. The Vietnam Builders entered into a contract with the federal government, via the U.S. Navy, as the exclusive contractor for the huge military buildup that was to come; there would be no open bidding or otherwise competitive process.
Brushing aside the messy reality that the nation of "South" Vietnam had yet to be created, U.S. officials ordered a staggering volume of military projects be begun immediately. The congress granted to the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson for 1965 $700 million for the expected ramping up of a direct American military role. Of that sum, $100 million was earmarked for the Defense Department’s construction projects already begun. Soon, the figures ballooned far beyond anyone’s expectation. Initially contracted for around $15 million prior to 1965, the lead corporation, MK, was shocked by the magnitude of orders for rapid construction. As one MK executive said early in 1965, "all we knew was that they wanted a lotta roads, a lotta airfields, a lotta bridges, and a lotta ports, and that they probably would want it all finished by yesterday." (Fortune, Sept., 1966)
These demands outstripped the capacity of any one of the corporations. Equipment requirements alone for the Vietnam project far exceeded all equipment owned by MK for all of its worldwide operations and all subsidiary companies. The value of the project leapt from its 1964 starting point of $15 million of work in place per month to over $67 million of work in place per month within two years. The Builders could hardly keep pace with the demand for more projects, which numbered over one hundred concurrently at the peak of construction. Suppliers in the US could hardly keep up either and backlogs of three to six months became commonplace. Caterpillar Tractor Company’s annual report to shareholders intoned, "1965 was another recording-breaking year and only the physical limitations of production capacity kept sales and profits from being higher." (ENR, Feb., 17, 1966; ENR, May, 19, 1966) Three of the four firms making up the Vietnam Builders ranked in the top ten of four hundred U.S. corporation doing business abroad for 1966. Collectively, and individually, they gobbled up hundreds of millions in profits for their efforts. In the process, Vietnam Builders employed 8,600 Americans and over 51,000 Vietnamese.