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Operation Makaha
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AVTLBOB-T                                             5 May 1966

SUBJECT:     Combat After Action Report  (RCS:  MACV J3-32)

TO:          Commanding General
          25th Infantry Division     
          ATTN:  AVTLOP
          APO US Forces 96225

     1.     OPERATION MAKAHA  (OPORD 19-66).

     2.     110730 - 161515 April 1966.

     3.     2nd Bde, 25th Infantry Division, conducted search and destroy operations in HAU NGHIA Province astride Highway 1 from vicinity XT6312 to XT5318.  The operation was a two battalion sized operation employing two infantry battalions reinforced with an armor company and a cavalry troop.

     4.     Control Headquarters:  2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

     5.     Reporting Officer:  Colonel L. H. Johnson, Jr.

     6.     Task Organization and commanders were as follows:

          1/27 Inf (-) (Lt Col Mooney Cmdg)     Bde Control

               Co A (-) 1/69               1/5 Inf (-) Base Reaction Force
               2 Sqds B/65               Co C 1/27 Inf Rear Area Security
               Helicopter               Co A 2/27 Inf Rear Area Security
                                   B 3/4 Cav
                                   1/8 Arty (-) G8
          2/27 Inf (-) (Lt Col Bashore Cmdg)

               2 Plats Co A 1/69
               2 Sqds B/65

     7.     Supporting Forces:

          a.     Artillery Support
               (1)     Organization for combat.

                    (a)     1/8 Arty:

                         1     1/8 Arty (-) DS 2nd Bde.

                         2     C 1/8 Arty GS 25th Inf Div.

                    (b)     3/13 Arty:

                         1     3/13 Arty (-) OS 25th Inf Div.

                         2     C 1/8 Arty OSR 1/8 Arty (-).

                    (c)     2/32 Arty:

                         1     Plat C 2/32 Arty OS 25th Inf Div Arty.

                         2     Plat C 2/32 Arty OSR 1/8 Arty (-).

               (2)     How and when artillery employed:          

               (a)     1/8 Arty (-) initially established a fire support base vic XT600147.

               (b)     A 15 minute (on call) preparation was available on LZ's.

               (c)     On 12 April, fire support bases were established with A Battery vic XT640157, and B Battery vic XT651163.

               (d)     The entire operation was supported with preplanned and on-call artillery fires.

               (e)     The forward observers with the maneuver battalions fired 38 will-adjust missions, expending 1383 rounds.

               (3)     Results of Artillery:  Artillery fires were well coordinated and extremely effective, especially the close in support fires which were timely and accurate.  Artillery fires on heavily wooded areas and sniper positions soften the areas, and in all cases during the operation, sniper fires were silenced, thereby greatly reducing friendly casualties.  There were 33 VC KIA (Poss) as a result of artillery during the operation.  H&I fires succeeded in denying the VC freedom of movement during the hours of darkness.

          b.     US Air Force fighter bombers and flare ships were on continuous ground alert; however, there were no missions flown during the operation.

          c.     Army Aviation:  

               (1)     Four resupply aircraft and three light fire teams were maintained on a mission basis throughout the operation.

               (2)     20 UH1D's were provided by 145th Avn Battalion for airmobile assaults by 1st Bn, 27th Infantry (-) and 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry (-) on 11 April 1966.

                    (a)     Helicopters initially lifted 1st Bn.  27th Infantry (-) to LZ vic XT535154.  Lifts were completed by 0840.

                    (b)     Co B (-) 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry was lifted to LZ's vic XT574180 and XT602172.  Lifts were completed by 0900.

               (3)     The airmobile operations were smoothly and efficiently conducted.  Army Aviation support was excellent throughout the operation.

     8.     Intelligence.

          a.     Analysis of terrain in area of operations:  Terrain in the area of operations was generally low and flat with the highest elevation being 7 meters.  The entire operational area was composed of rice paddies, clear forest and numerous hamlets with hedgerows separating the homes.  Hedgerows provided excellent cover and concealment for the enemy.  There were no obstacles or critical terrain features in the area of operations.  Observation was excellent except in hamlets surrounded by hedgerows.

          b.     Intelligence prior to operation:  VC activity in the area of operations has been continuous since the beginning of the year.  VC actions have included attacks, ambushes, sniper and mortar fires, laying of mines and booby traps and construction of road blocks along Highway 1.  Most of the VC incidents have occurred along Highway 1 from PHUOC MY 9XT5915) to TRANG BANG (XT488150).  A total of 40 incidents were recorded along this portion of the highway since 1 Jan 66.  Another hot spot of VC incidents has been between coord XT5418-5817-5414.  A VC rest area was reportedly located at PHUOC HIEP (XT5517) and utilized daily by the VC forces.  The only significant activity within the area of operations has been by the 4th and 5th Quyet Chion Platoons.

          c.     Intelligence during the operation:  Task force elements were constantly harassed by sniper fires, AT and AP mines and booby traps.  Throughout the operation, US forces encountered estimated VC squad sized elements without any significant contacts.  Elements encountered were believed to be local guerrilla forces of the 4th and 5th Quyet Chion Platoons.

          d.     Weather during the operation was dry, hot and humid.

          e.     Initially, the villagers of PHUOC HIEP (XT553173) were hesitant and cautious of US forces but became openly friendly after commencement of MEDCAP.

     9.     Mission:  The 2nd Bde, 25th Infantry Division was to conduct operations along Highway 1 (coord XT591505417) to locate, encircle and destroy VC forces in the area commencing 11 April and returning to base camp on order.

     10.     Concept of the Operation:  On 11 April, the 2nd Brigade Task Force moved from CU CHI to conduct detailed search and destroy operations in AO APPLE (XT5418, XT5414, XT5714, XT5718).  The operation was conducted in five phases.

          Phase I:  An encirclement of AO APPLE by airmobile elements of 1st Bn, 27th Infantry and a ground screen by B Trp, 3rd Cavalry was initiated.  Concurrently, 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry Task Force conducted a ground move to AO APPLE, search and destroying during their move.

          Phase II:  The 1st Bn, 27th Infantry (-) Reinf and 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry Reinf conducted a systematic search of AO APPLE, coordinated to entrap the VC in Obj 4 (XT550175, ST550160, XT570160, XT570173).  B Trp, 3/4 Cav secured the northern flank of AO APPLE to prevent VC exfiltration from the area.

          Phase III:  Units conducted detailed and methodical searches in their respective portion of Obj 4.

          Phase IV:  The Brigade Task Force returned to base camp on 13 April, conducting search and destroy operations in their respective zones adjacent to Highway 1.

          Phase V:  Company C (+) 1st Bn, 27th Infantry established a company base vicinity XT580195 on 13 April.  The company conducted patrols and ambushes from their base and returned to base camp on 16 April.

     11.     Execution:  2nd Bde received OPORD 4-66, 25th Inf Div, 100130 April 1966.

D-Day (11 April 1966)

1st Bn, 27th Infantry

     At 0700 Co A, 1st Bn, 69th Armor moved overland to a blocking position vic XT543158 northwest of Obj 3.  By 0745 Companies A and B, 1st Bn, 27th Infantry had begun their airmobile assault into LZ (XT535154) west of Obj 3.  Automatic weapons fire was received during assault, however gun ships on station quickly suppressed the fires and killed 1 VC (BC).  By 0840 all elements had arrived at the LZ and companies A and B initiated their search and destroy operations moving abreast to the east.  The Battalion Task Force had completed their operations in Obj 3 by 1355 and had begun their move toward Obj 4 (XT5617).  In Obj 3 no significant resistance was encountered.  However, 5 VCS were captured and one killed (BC).  By 1525 the 1st Bn, 27th Infantry Task Force, in conjunction with the 2nd Bn, 27th Infantry Task Force, had begun to tighten the noose around Obj 4.  At 1645 3 VCS were apprehended in the area and evacuated for further questioning.  The Battalion established their CP vic XT557164 for the night and dispatched four squad sized ambushes.

2nd Bn, 27th Infantry

     At 0700 Co B (-), reinforced with the Battalion security platoon and one platoon Co A, 69th Armor, began their sweep north of Highway 1 to Obj 1 (XT5817).  Company C and the Battalion Command Group began their move at 0705 to position vic XT563168.  Company B was harassed by VC snipers using evasive tactics during the morning.  At 0855 the remaining elements of Company B were airlifted to blocking positions at XT574178 and XT603172.  B y 0925 Company B had linked up with its elements at the blocking positions and continued its sweep through Obj 1.  At the same time, Company C was clearing Obj 2 (XT538158) and conducting thorough search of the village of PHUOC MY (XT58515).  The search was completed without resistance.  However, at 1110 a tank was hit by a command detonated mine and approximately a squad of VC opened up with small arms on the infantry in the area.  The VC were immediately pursued but they withdrew.  13 suspects were apprehended during the day and turned over to the National Police.  At 1630 all units had completed their search and destroy operations and had joined the 1st Bn, 27th Infantry in the encirclement of Obj 4.  The Battalion forward CP was located at XT563168.  During the night, the Battalion occupied a rather unconventional defense.  Since the Bn perimeter was in the village of PHUOC HIEP, it was necessary to have security oriented both inward and outward to prevent attacks and detain suspected VC.

D+1 (12 April 66)

1st Bn, 27th Infantry

     One ambush was sprung during the night vic XT563160, resulting in 1 VC KIA (BC), 3 KIA (POSS).  The Battalion Task Force conducted a thorough and detailed search and destroy operation in the southern portion of Obj 4 throughout the day.  Company A, 1st Bn, 69th Armor swept west and southwest of Obj 4.  Gunships were highly useful in suppressing enemy fires during the day, accounting for 10 VC KIA (POSS).  The battalion coiled for the night vic XT558163.

2nd Bn, 27th Infantry (Troop B (-) 3/4 Cav)

     At daybreak, Troop B (-) 3/4 Cav occupied blocking positions around Obj 4.  Companies B and C commenced a house to house search of PHUOC HIEP (XT5617).  The search was completed by 0745 and a return sweep was conducted.  There was no contact.  In accordance with FRAG ORD 1 to OPORD 19-66, Headquarters 2nd Bde, the Battalion TF moved north to clear AO SHORE and establish a battalion base in vicinity of Position ED (XT5719).  Sporadic small arms fire was received throughout the day.  Four tunnels vic XT549190 were explored with negative results and destroyed.  Mines in the area disabled an APC, a VTR, and a front line ambulance.  The Battalion S3 was killed, another infantryman injured as a result of the mines.  Extensive sweeps were conducted by Companies B and C in the wooded areas vic XT574183.  Night defenses were established in Position ED.  At 2030 one VC was killed while attempting to mine the road vic XT574183.

D+2 (13 April 1966)

1st Bn, 27th Infantry

     The Battalion Task Force had the mission of conducting search and destroy operations north of and parallel to Highway 1 during the return to base camp.  The area of operation is habitually mined and booby trapped, with command detonated mines throughout the area being covered by small arms fire.  As expected, the Battalion encountered these obstacles during their sweep.  Tanks were utilized to destroy booby traps in the area and artillery was employed against VC snipers.  The effective use of the combined arms team minimized casualties and accounted for 3 VC KIA (POSS) and 5 VCS captured.  The Task Force closed base camp by 1159.

     A second mission assigned to the Battalion was to establish a reinforced company base in the vicinity of XT580200 from which combat patrols and ambushes could be dispatched over a period of several days.  Company C, which had been manning the Battalion perimeter in base camp, was assigned this mission.  The Company departed base camp at 0725 conducting a motor march to their assigned base area.  One vehicle was damaged during the move by a booby trapped CBU.  Upon arrival in their area, the company immediately conducted local search and destroy operations to clear the area.  Defensive positions were prepared, artillery and mortar concentrations registered, and plans formulated for the night's operations.  The company was reinforced by a heavy section of tanks at 1505.  Three ambush sites were established during the night, none having contact.

2nd Bn, 27th Infantry

     The Battalion Task Force was given the mission of conducting coordinated search and destroy operations, moving abreast of the 1st Bn, 27th Infantry Task Force on return to base camp.  The Battalion Task Force used tank infantry teams supported with mortars and artillery while moving through this sniper and booby trap infested area.  At 1140 Company C made maximum use of its combined arms capability when the company was engaged by automatic weapons fire.  Small arms fire was immediately returned, tanks instantaneously rushed the suspected VC positions, and 4.2 fires were directed on the VC.  The action resulted in 3 VC KIA (BC), 2 KIA (POSS) and one M14E2 rifle captured.  Sporadic sniper fire was received throughout the day.  Artillery and mortars were used to suppress the fire.  Three tanks were bogged down in the terrain and had to be extracted by VTR.  The Battalion Task Force closed base camp by 1400 with the exception of the tanks and a security force.  The tanks, with security, were returned by 1625.

D+4-D+6 (14-16 April 1966)

Co C, 1st Bn, 27th Infantry

     The company continued to operate in the vicinity of their base area, conducting search and destroy operations during the day and establishing ambushes at night.  The first VC contact occurred at 1500 on 14 April.  During the sweep, the company (-) engaged VC snipers vic XT589186.  Attached tanks fired canister but VC casualties were unknown.  One VCS was apprehended on the same day vic XT581191.  During the day, the company was resupplied by air.  Three night ambushes were established.  On 15 April, the company was reinforced with a tank platoon, which relieved the heavy section that had been in support of the company.  There was no VC contact during the day.  On 16 April, the company (+) returned to base camp closing by 1515.   The company (+) conducted a foot march to base camp, destroying 30 tunnels and killing 2 VC by mortar fire during the move.  The unit's impediments were returned by motorized convoy.

     12.     Results:

          Friendly Losses:     Enemy Losses:

          KIA:       1     KIA (BC):     21
          WIA:     31     KIA (POSS:     27
                    VCC:            4
                    VCS:          43
                    Equipment Captured/Destroyed:
                    1 M14E2 rifle, 30 rds cal 30,
                    37 tunnels, 55 structures, 1 bag
                    of documents.

          The following is a recapitulation of damaged vehicles and tanks.

               Co A. 1st Bn, 69th Armor:

                    2 Tanks damaged; both repaired in the field.
                    1 APC damaged; repaired in the field.

               B Troop, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cavalry:

                    1 APC was damaged and evacuated.
                    1 VTR was damaged and evacuated.

               2nd Bn, 27th Infantry:

                    1 M-170 1/4 ton damaged and repaired in the field.

     13.      Administrative matters:

          a.     Supply

               (1)     All resupply of Class I, V and water was effected by air.

               (2)     A forward support operations center was not used due to the proximity of the operational area to base camp.

               (3)     Support Command positioned one 5000 gal and one 1200 gal JP-4 tanker, and one 5000 gal water tanker at the resupply helipad.

               (4)     POL consumption was as follows:

                    Co A, 1st Bn, 69th Armor:     Trp (illegible), 3/4 Cav:

                    1610     gallons DIESEL     500     gallons DIESEL
                    500     gallons MOGAS     1000     gallons MOGAS

               (5)     A total of 82 resupply sorties were flown, airlifting 52.2 tons of supply.  The following is a breakdown by class of supply:

                    Class I - 8.4 tons     POL - 7.5 tons
                    Class V - 10.6 tons     Misc - 12.4 tons
                    Water - 13.3 tons

          b.     Combat loads - Upon departing from base camp, personnel carried two canteens of water, two C-Ration meals.  Ammunition loads were as follows:

                    M14-200 rds; M16-300 rds; M14E2-300 rds; M60-1500 rds;
                    M79-36 rds; 5 LAW's per platoon; 4 claymores per platoon;
                    2 hand grenades per man; 2 CS/Ch grenades per fire team.

          c.     Normal maintenance was conducted throughout the operation.

          d.     Dustoff's were utilized for emergency evacuations; resupply ships for extraction of minor casualties.

     14.     Special equipment and techniques:

          a.     Starlight devices were carried and utilized on patrols and night defenses.

          b.     1st Bn, 27th Infantry airlifted tactical wire and sand bags to their operational area to strengthen night defenses.

          c.     2nd Bn, 27th Infantry devised an “overnight resupply package” to supplement the night defense.  The package which was delivered by air to the area selected for night defense consisted of 20,000 rds 5.56 mm, 6000 rds 7.62, 12,000 rds 7.62 MLB, 400 40mm rds, 30 LAW's, 25 claymore mines, 25 M-14 mines, 500 hand grenades, 50 81mm HE rds per mortar, trip flares, and two flamethrowers.

     15.     Commander's Analysis:

          a.     When Armor is employed with infantry, the tank must always precede the infantry by a minimum of twenty-five meters.  This procedure permits the tanks to destroy AP mines and booby traps ahead of the friendly troops and also gives them freedom to fire their main armament.  Tanks are excellent for use on selective destructive type missions where you want to protect innocent civilians in the area.

          b.     Units must plan to begin preparations for the night defense between 1500 to 1600 hours.  This allows sufficient time for issuance of necessary orders, reconnaissance, aerial resupply, to include night time defensive packets, and proper preparations of defensive positions.

          c.     Troops must be constantly on the lookout for punji pits, trenches, and concealed bunkers along bamboo hedgerows.

          d.     National Police proved to be ineffective in controlling traffic in PHUC HIEP.  Many civilians (VCS) were permitted to leave the area by simply boarding a bus beside the National Police.  US Forces must strengthen these posts and supervise the National Police in the screening and search of civilian traffic and personnel.

          e.     A rifle company was deployed about (illegible) meters from where another Brigade rifle company defensive perimeter was attached by a VC battalion about 10 days earlier.  This attempt to “bait” the enemy into an attack did not work during the period D+4 to D+6 as contact was very light.  It may have been that the company's defenses were obviously strong as tanks were attached.

     16.     Recommendations:

          a.     Combined arms task forces should always be utilized whenever possible in order to afford the infantryman protection and provide rapid reaction capability.

          b.     Whenever National Police are utilized to screen and search civilians, US Military representatives should be present to insure that the mission is being accomplished in a satisfactory manner.

          c.     Units should not be given large areas for detailed search missions unless sufficient forces are provided to encircle the area.



NOTE:  This drawing was found between pages 101 & 102 of the copy furnished, but did not appear to fit in there.  ???