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After Action Report 41
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS 2ND BRIGADE 25TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO US FORCES 96225
AVTLBDB-T 8 April 1966
SUBJECT: COMBAT AFTER ACTION REPORT: (RCS /J3 /32)
TO: Commanding General
25th Infantry Division
APO US Forces 96225
US Army, 25th Division, 2nd Brigade Task Force
1. OPORD 17-66 (Operation HONOLULU)
2. 140630 March 1966 - 192025 March 1966
3. 2nd Bde, 25th Infantry Division conducted search and destroy operation in HAU NGHIA Province in
TAOR PINEAPPLE, coordinates (XS5188, XT3720, XT5416, XT6705). OPORD 17-66 was issued 101200 March 1966. Initially the operation was two-battalion sized with a forward Brigade Command Post. One battalion conducted an airmobile assault into a landing zone east of the Oriental River. The other an overland move to be conducted in assigned battalion TAORS.
Colonel L.M. Johnson, Jr. is the reporting officer. Task organization and commanders were as follows:
1/5 Inf (Lt Col Greer Cmdg.) Rear Det (Lt Col Cawthra Cmdg.)
Sqd B/65 Engr. 1/27 Inf
FAC 1/69 Armor (-)
OH 23 2/32 Arty (-) GSR
Btry A 1/8 Arty.
2/27 Inf (Lt. Col Bashore Cmdg) Elms, HHC, 2nd Bde
Sqd B/65 Engr 2nd Spt Bn (-)
FAC Co C, 65th Engr.
1/8 Arty (-) (Lt Col Walker Cmdg)
Btry C 2/32 Arty GSR
HHC, 2nd Bde (-)
A 3 /4 Cav
Co B /65 Engr (-)
Elms 2nd Spt Bn
a. Analysis of terrain:
Terrain in the area of operations was generally low and flat with the highest elevation being 5 meters. The area bounded by XT4518, XT4912, XT5512, XT6006, XT4906, XT4117 is trafficable most of the year for tracked vehicles. The terrain within 1200 meters along the Oriental River was considered unsuitable for trackedvehicles since many streams and swamps are prevalent. Hamlets and populated areas were located throughout the area. Ground observation was poor in the cultivated, full growth sugar cane area, which also chanalized friendly movements to existing trails and open areas. The area south, east and north of BAO TRAI was interlaced with small forest patches, affording concealment and partial cover to enemy forces. Fields of fire and air observation were generally excellent, except in the sugar cane fields and dense woods.
b. Intelligence prior to operations.
The area was believed to be completely controlled and dominated by the VC. A study of the troop dispositions, installations, bunkers, base areas and trench systems indicated that the area southwest of BAO TRAI was extensively used by the VC. The Oriental River and trails along the river had been used as a major logistical route. Two main force battalions and one separate company were reported operating in the area.
c. Enemy situation during operation.
As the Brigade Task Force moved into the area, the VC units went into hiding and exfiltrated across the Oriental River to the West. The VC made maximum use of snipers, booby traps, and mines to inflict casualties on friendly forces. Enemy activity was heaviest on the first day with a definite decrease on the following days as the VC had a chance to slip out of the area.
5. Mission: 2nd Bde Task force was to conduct operations in TAOR PINEAPPLE to located and destroy
VC forces, base camps and disrupt VC infiltration routes along the Oriental River commencing 14 March 1966.
6. Concept of the Operation: The operation was conducted in eight phases.
Phase I: A 3 /4 Cav. secured route Blue from vic CU CHI to vicinity BAO TRAI, XT526045 in
coordination with ARVN Ranger Battalion
Phase II: Task Force 1 /8 Artillery moved by road to Position ACE for support of operations.
Phase III: 1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) moved over route Blue to forward assembly area.
Phase IV: 2/27 Infantry conducted an airmobile assault into LZ QUEEN with the 1 /5 Infantry
(Mech.)simultaneously moving from assembly area to area of operations.
Phase V: 1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) and 2/27 Infantry conducted search and destroy operations in respective
TAORS to include disrupting VC infiltration route along the Oriental River. Enclosure1.
Phase VI: 2nd Bde Forces re-deployed to Northeast portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE, and continued
search and destroy operations. Enclosure 2
Phase VII: 2nd Bde Forces continued search and destroy operations in TAOR PINEAPPLE to include
air-mobile assault of 1 /27 Infantry Task Force to LZ's vic XT515156 and XT537157. Enclosure 3.
Phase VIII: Bde Task Force units returned to Base Camp on order.
7. Execution: D - Day (14 March 1966).
Phase I: A 3 /4 Cav conducted a route clearing operation and secured route Blue commencing 140630 March 66, and in conjunction with ARVN Ranger Battalion positioned forces along the road between BAO TRAI and CU CHI. During clearance of Brigade Forward CP, four anti-personnel mines were detonated and one AT mine detonated throwing a tank track vic XT532035. There were no VC contacts during occupation of the Brigade Forward CP.
Phase II: At 140730 March 66, 1/ 8 Artillery Task Force with Brigade HHC elements moved to vicinity of BAO TRAI (XT531035). Upon arrival in forward area, a 15 minute preparation was fired on LZ QUEEN using VT fuse. A total of 190, 105 and 27 8” rounds were fired.
Phase III: 1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) moved along route Blue commencing 140715 March 66 to the attack position vic XT510034 without opposition. Upon arrival in the attack position, Recon Platoon located several bunkers and two sampans vic XT543022. All were destroyed. By 0931 hours, all elements were in the attack position.
Phase IV: By 140845, 2/27 Infantry formed at the loading zone. At 0937 fifty helicopters arrived. By 1025 all units had landed on LZ. Light small arms fire was received on one LZ. There were no friendly casualties during the landing. At 1000, 1/5 Mech. initiated their search and destroy operations.
Phase V: 1 /5 Infantry (Mech.):
By 1130 hours 1 /5 Mech units were unable to continue their mounted attack due to swampy conditions in their TAOR. Two companies moved abreast while one company trailed. While attempting to extract several mined tracks, Co B was brought under heavy SA fire by VC squad vic XT485017. Fire was immediately returned. The VC were routed leaving behind packs, clothing, equipment, ammunition, grenades, and documents. At 1300 Co B again made contact vic XT483006 resulting in 3 VC KIA (BC), 4 VC KIA (Poss). Co B captured a VC in hole vic XT485017. The company suffered 2 WIA's from sniper fire at 1530. By 1700 all units coiled for the night.
2 /27 Infantry
Objective KING was secured by 1250 with only light resistance being encountered. The Battalion was air-lifted to the objective area. Light small arms fire was received from west of the Oriental River. Upon seizure and control of objective, companies initiated search and destroy operations in their zones. During these operations, three VC were captured and evacuated. A French carbine and a M-1 were captured. Seven refugees were evacuated. The battalion received light harassing fie and two in-coming mortar rounds during the night.
D + 1 (15 March 1966)
1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) - The Battalion continued search and destroy operations in southeastern portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE. At 1100 Co C discovered three rocket launcher rounds and numerous CHICOM grenades in a hut vic XT485018. Another weapons cache vic XT498005 was found to contain ammunition, weapons parts, combat packs and equipment. The battalion was harassed by sporadic small arms fire and booby traps throughout the day. VC fired on medical evacuation ships during extraction of wounded. There were five friendly WIA's and one KIA during the day. By 1750 all units were in position for the night.
2/27 Infantry: One VC was killed at 0230 when attempting to penetrate A Co's line. The Battalion encountered only light resistance during the day. The VC used evasive tactics during all contacts. By 1930 all units had returned to the battalion base and established defensive portions. At 1500 Co B was alerted for an Eagle flight to vic XT482085 where seventy VC were reported assembling. Co B departed at 1630 when the aircraft became available and joined a platoon from 3 /4 Cav. in the vicinity of the objective. There was no more contact as a result of the action, and Co B returned by 1900. Two ambush patrols were dispatched at darkness. Again, the battalion perimeter was lightly probed during the night.
At 150800 Frag ORD 1 to OPORD 17-66, Operation HONOLULU was issued. This Frag. ORD outlined the shifting of Brigade Task Force forces on 17 March to northwest portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE for continuance of search and destroy operations.
D + 2 (16 March 1966)
1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) - Battalion units finalized clearance of the south-eastern portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE. Several marked mine fields were found throughout the area. All mine field signs were booby trapped. At 1522 Co C engaged an estimated two squads of VC using small arms and automatic weapons vic XT506978. The company used fire and maneuver in conjunction with mortars and artillery against VC. There were an estimated 10 VC KIA. All units had closed the battalion base area by 2045. Four ambushes were established, one sprung vic XT522013 resulting in one VC KIA (BC). A VC believed to have been wounded in the ambush, was captured the next morning on the battalion perimeter.
2/27 Infantry - Co C conducted an Eagle Flight to vic XT584017 at 1030. The company landed and began search and destroy operations with a platoon from A 3 /4 Cav. acting as a blocking force. There was no organized VC resistance, but numerous mine fields were encountered. Sixteen VC suspects were evacuated. Each house in the area had a bunker adjacent to it. Booby trapped grenades on bamboo stakes with trip wires caused seven friendly WIA's. At 1045 the Battalion began its move to new area in accordance with Frag ORD 1. Companies A and B conducted foot marches to the new area. Co C, after completing their operation, moved to the new area vic XT537061.
Phase VI: D + 3 (17 March 1966)
1/8 Artillery - The battalion conducted a motor march to new fire support base vic XT487103 commencing 0700. There were only 102, 105mm rounds and 16 1” rounds fired in support of the day's operations. The Brigade Command Post with A Troop 3 /4 Cav (-) remained in Position ACE.
1 /5 Infantry (Mech.) - The Battalion conducted a three pronged advance to the northwestern portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE. Co A on the left, Co C in the center, and the Reconnaissance Platoon on the right flank. Co B trailed the lead elements conducting detailed search and destroy operations to the rear of the main elements. The Reconnaissance Platoon located a classroom with trenches and tunnels leading out of the area vic XT48159. The classroom had a seating capacity of 25. Four feet of the classroom were below ground level.
By 1230 hours all units had reached their main objective areas just east of the Oriental River. The Reconnaissance Platoon detained 56 civilians, one of whom was identified by National Police as a VC. At 1800, Co C vicinity XT401178 engaged five VC's resulting in estimated 3 VC KIA.
2 /27 Infantry - The Battalion executed an airmobile move from loading zone vic XT530057 to LZ vic XT436122 in northwest portion of TAOR. The battalion attacked northwest on two axes, attempting to drive the enemy against the Oriental River as the 1 /5 Mech. Attacked to the north. Companies A and B moved abreast to seize objectives vic XT420128 and XT438135. The entire area was heavily booby trapped. Only light small arms fire was encountered. During air-lift of the battalion (-) to the forward Command Post, the security platoon at the loading zone was brought under heavy small arms fire by VC squad. There were no friendly casualties, however, and the move was completed without further incident.
D + 4 (18 March 1966)
1 /5 Infantry (Mech.): - The two forward companies continued search and destroy operations in positions adjacent to the eastern bank of the Oriental River. B Co searched the area to their rear. The Reconnaissance Platoon discovered a 24 ton rice cache vic XT467156. A considerable portion of the rice was evacuated from the area. By 1930 all units were in the assembly area and preparing for night operations.
2 / 27 Infantry: - Commencing 0900, Company A conducted an airmobile assault west of the Oriental River to the vic XT398152 in accordance with Frag. ORD 2, issued 163000 March '66. There were no VC contacts, and extraction was completed by 1300. During clearance operations in the Battalion area, one VC KIA (BC), six VC were captured, and 2 VC suspects were evacuated. At 0800 A Troop 3 /4 Cav and a platoon from B Co 65th Engineers conducted a daylight sweep vic XT540110. The Task Force failed to make significant contact, but did retrieve a Vietnamese Ranger who reported he had been kidnapped by VC. At the same time, he indicated approximately 100 VC were located vic XT529113.
Phase VII and VIII:
D + 5 (19 March 1966)
1 /5 Infantry (Mech) - Based upon information provided by the Vietnamese Ranger and other reports, Company C departed the assembly area at 0025. The Co reported to position by 0545. Upon search of objective area, vic XT525106, no VC were found. By 0700 the Battalion (-) moved east searching central portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE. An estimated 10 VC were killed vic XT565094 in brief encounter with Co A. At 1635 units began movement to Base Camp. All elements had closed by 1930.
2/27 Infantry - The Battalion conducted local search operations in their assigned area. The Battalion conducted an airmobile extraction to Base Camp with was completed by 1050.
1 /27 Infantry (+) - In accordance with Frag. ORD 3 to OPORD 17-66, 1/27 Infantry conducted airmobile assault to link up with a combined arms element to conduct search and destroy operations vic XT500157, XT553155, XT560140, XT507140. The mounted force consisting of A 1/69 Armor (-), one platoon from C 1/27 Infantry, and the Battalion reconnaissance platoon which moved over-land to blocking positions on the eastern edge of the objective area. Companies A and C with one tank platoon attached to each, swept their respective areas from North to South. Numerous tunnels and trenches in the objective were destroyed. The battalion had no significant contact during their sweep. The battalion conducted a combined foot and motor march, closing base camp by 2025.
Friendly Losses Enemy Losses:
KIA 2 KIA 45(BC) 112 (POSS)
WIA 56 VCC 18
Non Battle Loss 1 VCS 51
52,700 Lbs Rice Captured
24 Sampans destroyed
152 structures destroyed.
Numerous tunnels and bunkers destroyed
8. Supporting Forces:
a. Artillery Support
(1.) Organization for combat:
(a) 1 /8 Arty (-) Reinf. GS 2nd Bde
(b) 2/32 Arty (-), GSR 1/8 Arty
(c) A 1/8 Arty attached 2/32 Arty (-) effective 140700, March 66
(2.) How and when artillery employed:
(a) 1/8 Artillery conducted 15 minute preparation on LZ for 2/27 Infantry on D Day
(b) The Battalion displaced on 17 March to vicinity XT487103 to support operations in
northwestern portion of TAOR PINEAPPLE.
(c) On 18 March the battalion fired 314 rds at coordinates XT529113 where VC battalion was .
reported, resulting in estimated 38 VC KIA
(d) H and I fires were conducted firing the hours of darkness throughout the operation.
(e) On call fires were provided quickly and accurately as required.
(3) Results of Artillery: The artillery proved effective in clearing landing zones and providing fire
power when and where needed throughout the operation.
b. US Air Force
(1) An initial air-strike was utilized to prepare landing zone QUEEN for 2/27 Infantry on first day of the operation.
(2) During the remainder of the operation, close air support was available by utilizing ground alert aircraft or diverting airborne fighters from lower priority targets.
(3) Nineteen missions were flown during the operation resulting in fifty-one structures destroyed, 26 damaged, 11 sampans destroyed, 2 secondary explosions, and 13 KBA (BC), 33 KBA (POSS).
c. Army Aviation
(1) 11th Aviation Battalion provided the following support:
(a) 50 UHID helicopters and escorts for airlift of 2/27 Infantry from base camp to LZ QUEEN
(b) 3 Command and control aircraft: one each for CO 2nd Brigade, CO 1/5 Infantry (Mech.), CO 2/27 Infantry
(c) Four UHID's were utilized by Brigade S4 for re-supply missions.
(d) One light fire team was maintained on continuous ground alert at the Brigade Forward Command Post.
(2) The 2nd Brigade Aviation section provided continuous OH23 support.
(3) The two battalion sized assaults and the battalion sized extraction were conducted smoothly
(4) Three Eagle flights were conducted. Army Air Support responded quickly and contributed
significantly to the effectiveness of the operations.
9. Administration and Logistics:
(1) Four UHID's were requested and utilized for each day of the operation. Re-supply of the maneuver battalions was effected by these helicopters.
(2) The use of 2nd Bde form, Request for Re-supply, facilitated the gathering of logistical data and aided the pilots, since coordinates, frequencies and tonnages are included in the form.
(3) Brigade S-4 controlled all re-supply helicopters. Units submitted requests and placed loads in vicinity of helipads. The helicopters were then allocated according to the activities of the units and the priorities established.
(b) In most cases, casualty reporting was accomplished through written messages delivered to base
camp by resupply helicopter.
(1) Difficulty was experienced in establishing initial VHF contact with higher headquarters.
(2) Long distance wire communications were extremely difficult to maintain.
(3) There was insufficient power to drive two VHF systems from MRC-69
(4) A radio relay team was employed during late stages of the operation to facilitate communications with the maneuver battalions.
10. Special Equipment and Techniques: Aluminum balk used as footing for engineer bridges proved
very helpful in recovery operations of track vehicles. 100 ft. cables are also a necessity in recovery
11. Commander's Analysis:
(a) The operation proved the ability of the Brigade Task Force to operate effectively in an
extended operation away from base camp.
(b) Valuable experience was gained in the employment of mechanized and armored units.
Both proved to be effective in combating the VC in the terrain traversed during this operation
and under the weather conditions which prevailed.
(c) The Brigade Task Force demonstrated its ability to conduct effective airmobile operations and
(d) Bunching continued to be a problem. Commanders at all echelons must emphasize dispersion
and continuous alertness.
(e) Too much reliance was placed on aerial photos. All coordinates and over-lays must be reported
on the 1:50,000 map.
(f) Additional emphasis must be placed on rapid reaction by artillery. This can only be accomplished
by more rapid and accurate reporting of friendly unit locations.
(g) Speed and thoroughness must be emphasized in village searches. Units must search all areas
using sweep operations. Tracks can be used to clear densely vegetated areas and destroy booby
(h) Radio security requires more emphasis. All units must be more security conscious.
Also units mustcarefully tune their sets to the Brigade NCS.
(i) During an operation, night ambushes are more effective the first night than the second or third night.
(j) Maximum utilization of aircraft is a must. Supply ships should retrieve POW's and slightly injured
personnel whenever possible. CH23's must be used sparingly and only for specific missions.
Supplies should be brought in prior to 1700 hrs. Continuous on-station surveillance is
unnecessaryand costly in terms of aircraft maintenance.
(k) Gun-ships were not used properly at all times. Units must be prepared to move and report their
location at all times so gun-ships can be allowed to engage VC targets close in.
(l) Squad leaders thru company commanders must utilize the compass more often for navigation
in thick terrain.
(m) Units must always be prepared to react rapidly and aggressively in order to take advantage of
(n) Crossing rivers or streams must be closely supervised and well controlled.
(o) Civil Affairs:
(1) Numerous loud speaker and leaflet drop missions were flown during the operation.
(2) Medcap II was held in the villages of Duc Lap (XT5505) and So Do (XT5106). 340 civilians were treated.
(p) Use and Effectiveness of IPW team:
(1) IPW teams were located and controlled at the Brigade Command Post.
(2) The US IPW Teams, even with ARVN interpreters, are greatly restricted by the language barrier.
12. Conclusions and Lessons Learned:
a. Definite convoy procedures must be established. Drivers must be thoroughly oriented on these
b. FM re-transmission should be planned for any exercise when the Brigade CP is to be more
than 5 kilometers from the Battalion CP's.
c. A water re-supply capability must exist at the supply helipad area to facilitate rapid filling of
d. A Battalion officer must be present at the helipad to insure proper re-supply is effected to his battalion.
e. Ground to air communications must be established and re-supply effected ASAP. When
using smoke, units must wait for pilot to identify smoke. Units must not identify smoke for pilot.
f. Unit OIC's of re-supply should accompany day's first re-supply lift. Unit locations must be verified
and supply requirements confirmed.
g. All leaders must be qualified to call artillery fire since the FO's are most often with the
h. An “over-night box” with such items as trip flares, claymores, starlight devices and sniper scopes,
can be dropped off to companies in the evening and picked up in the morning.
i. Mounted sweeps alone will not produce results. Detailed foot-mobile searches must be conducted.
Armored vehicles are best utilized to move forward and destroy booby traps in order to reduce
casualties to infantrymen.
j. Radio operators must be rotated. Fresh and alert operators will contribute to better communications.
k. Troops must dig in, even in marshy areas. Prone shelters in marshy areas will save lives in the
event of mortar attack.
l. Extraction procedures in an air-mobile operation are critical. A security element must be deployed
so as to block all approaches to the loading zone. Withdrawal of the security force out-post, and
finally the security force itself to the loading zone, should be accomplished with speed and efficiency.
A small command post element should remain and extract with the last lift. Use of gun-ships and
planned artillery fire is mandatory.
m. Platoons should have at least two protective masks in each platoon for use in tunnels that have had
CS and CN used in them.
n. The attachment of additional national Police and ARVN interpreters to units would facilitate
operations in built-up areas. This would alleviate the problem of moving interpreters from one flank
to another as needed.
o. In conclusion, in addition to being highly successful in its mission to disrupt VC movements and
locate and destroy VC in the operational area, Operation HONOLULU provided the Brigade Task Force
elements with invaluable experience and lessons-learned for use in future operations.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
A.R. KNIGHT Jr.
3 Incl. 1 - Phase V
2 - Phase VI
3 - Phase VII
2ND BATTALION, 9TH ARTILLERY
“THE MIGHTY NINTH”
APO US Forces 96225
TLDAB-3 18 Apr 66
SUBJECT: Operation GARFIELD
TO: Commanding Officer
3rd Brigade, 25th Inf Div
APO US Forces 96225
1. After action report for Operation GARFIELD (25 Feb - 31 Mar 66)
2. Unit commanders engaged in the operation:
a. Battalion Commander: LTC Saul Jackson
b. HH&S Btry - Capt. Carl Morin
c. A Btry Capt. John Ferguson
d. B Btry Capt. Fredrick Rice
e. C Btry Capt. John Oliver
3. Supporting forces: During the operation this unit was supported by CH-47 helicopters from the 228th Transportation Battalion. There were twelve airlifts of the firing batteries during the operation. This was our first experience in air lifting with the CH 47's and with little or no training the batteries were able to quickly learn the procedures. The support from the 228th Transportation Battalion was outstanding.
4. Mission: Direct support 3rd Brigade.
5. Concept: Priority of fires from a minimum of one 105mm howitzer battery was given to each infantry battalion for all search and destroy operations.
6. Execution: The firing batteries were able to move to position areas to support the infantry units by either motor convoy or helicopter airlift. This was done in all areas but one. In the one instance, a battery was not in position to support the battalion. This occurred during the period 17 - 19 Mar 66 when the 1/14th Infantry made the foot march. It was requested that the battery be airlifted out of the area to provide deception.
7, Results from artillery fire: 10 KIA(BC), 5 KIA (est.), 14 WIA
8. Missions fired: Registrations - 63 H&I's - 1925 Destruction - 3
Illumination - 54 Preparations - 31 Will adjust - 61 Other - 148
9. Artillery rounds fired: HE - 10,627 Illumination - 430 WP - 1,093 Smoke - 194
10. Administrative matters:
(1) A double basic load of artillery ammunition was maintained within the battalion. This proved to be adequate and will be used again for future operations.
(2) Re-supply of artillery ammunition to units located in isolated areas had to be accomplished by CH-47. To re-supply by HU1-D would require an excessive number of sorties.
b. MAINTENANCE: Command emphasis and continuous technical inspection of equipment was particularly evident in the performance of the motor vehicles. During the several motor marches that were made, one of t which was one hundred miles, none of the battalion vehicles broke down.
c. TREATMENT OF CASUALTIES AND EVACUATION: After casualties were evacuated, it was often difficult to determine where they were located or their final disposition.
d. TRANSPORTATION: Initial move by C-130 to Ban Me Thout was satisfactory except for some delays caused by last minute changes in scheduling.
e. COMMUNICATIONS: The complete change over from the old series of radios to the new series was accomplished during the operation without any problems. The new radios have proven to be very reliable and have significantly increased this battalion's communications capability.
f. MEDICAL EVALUATION: Command emphasis on personal hygiene and frequent inspection of battery mess-halls and battery sanitation facilities were instrumental in the extremely low sickness rate experienced by this unit.
11. Special equipment and techniques:
a. Movement by CH-47 helicopter requires nets and slings that are not organic to this unit or to the helicopter units. These items have been requisitioned. When they are obtained, the time required to move a battery will be reduced by approximately one third.
b. The “Beehive” round for the 105 howitzer is extremely effective for perimeter defense. At the present time, none are available in this battalion. G-3, USARV stated during the artillery conference at Tan Son Nhut on 13 Apr. 66, that these rounds will be issued this battalion in June 1966.
12. Commander's Analysis:
a. The experience gained by this unit during Operation GARFIELD has improved our ability to support search and destroy operations conducted by the maneuver elements. It should be noted that the lessons learned by this unit are applicable to any type operation. Some of these are:
(1) Continuous need for an observation helicopter for reconnaissance of an LZ with infantry personnel.
(2) The requirement for the battery commander to make the reconnaissance of a LZ with infantry personnel.
(3) The artillery LO must be airborne during a landing so that he can control the artillery preparation, the shifting of fires and the air-strike.
(4) All incoming aircraft must call the artillery FDC for clearance to land and landing instructions in that battery's area.
(5) An air FO is required to be airborne during daylight hours.
(6) Personnel requesting fire support must give target information and location, and not request specific fire support means.
b. Civil affairs / Psychological warfare:
(1) The battalion S-5 actively participated in civil affairs activities in villages near each position area. He not only made friends with the villagers, but also gained valuable intelligence information and initiated several civic action projects. The assistant communication officer initially performed the duties of S-5 as an additional duty. However, the S-5 duties have since become a full time requirement.
(2) The psychological warfare team that was initially attached was helpful, but did not remain with the unit throughout the operation. The loss of this team did not materially degrade the civic action program of the battalion.
a. That when fire support is required from the Brigade FSO or from an infantry battalion AFSC, the nature of target and location be given rather than the requesting agency calling for a specific type of fire support.
b. That a system be adopted whereby all aircraft coming into an LZ where artillery is located, call the fire direction center for information on artillery firing and landing instructions.
c. That a more positive means of control be established on personnel that are medically evacuated.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
MILTON C. THOMASON
1st Lt, Arty
U.S. ARMY TASK FORCE ALFA
APO US Forces 96240
TFGC 6 September 1965
SUBJECT: Combat Lessons Learned
TO: All Personnel
1st Air Cavalry Division
APO US Forces 96490
1. Welcome to Vietnam and to Task Force ALFA!
2. The selection of you and your unit to join other US, Vietnamese, and Third Country men and Forces in the defense of Vietnam is testimony of your fighting ability.
3. The war being conducted here is different from any fought by US Forces in recent history. It is not a war where units fight units at a comfortable distance apart. It is a war in which man is pitted against man, usually at close quarters. Your professional skill, ingenuity, alertness and aggressiveness are pitted against an enemy who has been in this game a long time, and who is well adjusted to the rigors of this type of warfare.
4. In order better to prepare you for such combat, we have assembled from combat lessons learned by other units, a set of “Do” and “Don't” tips which are attached. You should study these tips and learn them well, for proper application will hasten the defeat of the Viet Cong, and may well save your life or your buddy's. or both.
Stanly R. Larsen
Major General, USA
The following “Do's and Don'ts” have been compiled from the experiences of ARVN units, their advisors, and more recently, from US Tactical Units that have actively engaged and defeated the Viet Cong. These lessons learned should be studied and practiced in your operations in Vietnam.
Be prepared for the unexpected. The one fact you can depend upon is that conditions and circumstances will change when you least expect them.
Keep your weapon immediately available and ready for use.
Practice security at all times, and report any violations or suspected violations.
Treat any stranger as a possible enemy.
Avoid developing patterns in any and all operations. The enemy quickly takes advantage of any predictable pattern of operation.
Vary smoke signal meanings to deny the VC the ability to interpret.
Use every available intelligence source in planning every operation.
Effect positive coordination with ARVN, Province, District and Special Forces units in your area.
Provide adequate Air-Ground and forward observer communications for all operations.
Maintain enemy contact once it is gained.
Before placing reliance in native interpreters, have them checked by a Vietnamese speaking US man.
During extended movement, stop before dark to insure establishing a good, all-around, coordinated defense.
Test fire weapons before each operation.
Bayonet should be carried on all operations: It makes a good mine probe.
Always use discipline in small arms fire. A well aimed round that hits its target is worth 100 random shots.
Use hand and arm signals to conceal your presence whenever possible.
Consider combat efficiency over troop comfort.
Be alert to dead foliage. It may be old camouflage over booby traps, tunnel entrances, or other wound producing positions.
Be sure grenade igniters are screwed in tight and safety pins are properly crimped.
Be sure to tape grenade handles when not actively engaged, to prevent accidental firing.
Carry an adequate supply of illumination ammunition when operating at night.
Carry extra demolitions on all operations, or have plans to bring them in, on call, by helicopter.
Develop supply brevity codes: Situations often require the use of the command net for administration and supply purposes.
Carry extra demolitions on all operations, or have plans to bring them in, on call, by helicopter.
Police the battle area and destroy everything left behind. (A run-down battery can still fire a booby trap!)
Protect your personal property.
When using vehicles, be sure they are equipped with tow cables and chains.
Land navigation must be constantly practiced. (Compass use, pacing, dead reckoning and etc.).
Plan for civic action whenever possible.
Write home as often as practical.
Do not discuss anything classified over radios or telephones.
Do not over-classify or use an unnecessarily high precedence on electrically transmitted messages.
Do not become stereotyped in your actions.
Do not leave mines and flares in abandoned positions. The VC will salvage them for use against you.
Do not break seals on ammunition or other supplies until you are ready to use them.
Do not use captured weapons or ammunition because they are often booby-trapped, or rigged to malfunction.
Do not leave vehicles or equipment unattended at any time.
Do not abuse equipment. Your life may depend on it.
Do not call for helicopter medical evacuation until the casualty is near the landing zone.
Do not travel alone at any time. Use the buddy system.
Do not trust children at any time. They may be VC agents.
Do not panic: Wait until the VC closes on your position to insure killing him.
Do not consider any route or area inaccessible to the enemy.
Do not listen to, or pass on rumors.
BASE CAMP DO'S
Prepare protective shelters adjacent to sleeping areas which can be occupied regardless of visibility.
Know your defense sector and that of the man on your left and right.
Plan protective wire, mines (primarily Claymore) and flares on the perimeter.
Plan for illumination in event of a night attack.
Plan for a reaction force to counter any enemy success.
Provide for alternate communications means.
Bury electrical wires to mines to prevent detection and /or sabotage.
Use dismounted vehicle guides when operating under black-out.
Develop a good civic program in areas adjacent to or near the base camp.
BASE CAMP DON'TS
Do not allow civilians in the area.
Do not chamber a round until you are in your defensive position.
Do not change guards and out-posts at regular intervals.
Develop all around security.
Always place ambush patrols on likely avenues of approach outside the perimeter, and increase the number during hours of darkness.
Provide combat patrols and listening posts beyond the perimeter.
Plan the use of all available support fires.
Use wire entanglements around the entire position when wire is available, and time permits.
Integrate mines, flares and booby traps into defenses. Record mine fields and remove upon displacement.
Disperse key personnel and facilities to lessen the chance of loss from single enemy rounds.
Maintain a reserve to repel and destroy penetrations.
Plan overhead cover on all positions whenever and wherever possible.
Dig trenches and positions in a staggered manner to reduce the chance of the enemy using enfilade fire.
Be sure that there is always someone alert in each position.
Establish multiple communications means.
Use trip flares throughout the position.
Bury electrical wiring to mines to restrict detection and check daily for operational readiness.
Plan to use illumination rounds.
Fuse mines and similar devices to prevent tampering.
Deny the VC any opportunity to remove casualties from the battlefield.
Vary times of relief for patrols and posts so as not to set a pattern.
Use simple related challenges and passwords in the operational areas.
For Example: Car - Buick, Fruit - apple, Animal - horse
Try to set up defense before dark.
Pass the plan to all interested parties.
Do not get complacent because of the lack of enemy action.
Do not allow civilians in or near the perimeter or positions.
Do not fire interdictory illumination rounds at regular intervals.
Have a single commander
Provide sufficient firepower to cover the killing zone and escape routes.
Insure every man knows his job.
Control noise, lights and smoking at all times to prevent detection.
Select a site where enemy chances of escape are minimal.
Mine and /or booby trap escape routes.
Rehearse the ambush whenever possible. (Sand tables can be used effectively.)
Exploit surprise when engaging the VC.
Use simple, easily understood signals.
Prepare to react immediately to VC counter ambush action.
Exploit and search immediately after springing the trap.
Fire low. A ricochet is better than a miss.
Plan night ambushes to cover normal VC movement periods.
Provide illumination for night ambushes.
Use stay- behind ambushes to trap and destroy the VC when leaving an operational area.
Keep civilians (including children) from observing movement to, or emplacement of, the ambush.
Develop a simple pocket card check list for all to insure the ambush is complete.
Do not spring the trap too early.
Do not use the same site repeatedly.
COUNTER AMBUSH DO'S
Make a detailed reconnaissance by all available means before beginning any operation.
Plan fires on all suspect areas.
Provide front, flank and rear security at all times.
Provide a succession of command in case the commander is trapped in the killing zone.
Provide a reaction force to flank or cut off the ambushing force.
Practice immediate action drills to make reaction instinctive.
Use stealth to conceal time and routes of movements.
Control noise so as not to telegraph your approach.
Have security forces perform detailed check - outs of all possible ambush sites.
Maintain continuous communication with all elements at all times.
Vary formations to thwart VC plans.
Rotate units on local security missions to increase alertness.
Report suspect areas as they are approached.
Immediately return fire and attack the ambush forces.
Use white phosphorous grenades and offensive grenades against the killing party to inflict VC casualties and screen your assault.
Continue to fire, even after the VC stops, to prevent his recovering weapons, bodies and escaping.
Clear the entire ambush site once the ambush is overcome.
COUNTER AMBUSH DON'TS
Do not move out to assist another unit under attack without first making a complete reconnaissance. (The VC often conduct an attack so as to be able to ambush relief forces.)
Do not consider any area to be free of ambush. The VC use the unorthodox as normal.
Do not consider normal civilian activity in an area to be an indicator that it is clear. VC use civilians in cover and deception.
Do not announce any movement or operation until the last possible moment.
Do not be baited into careless pursuit of the VC.
Do not bunch up at any time.
Do not try to take cover in the killing zone.
DOS on PATROLS
Coordinate with ARVN, Popular, Regional Forces and Special Forces as appropriate, prior to execution of any operation.
Plan for automatic weapons to be in the lead element.
Plan, and react to cut off enemy escape routes.
Pre-plan all available supporting fires.
Provide for a reaction force.
Make maximum reconnaissance before moving out.
Have a planned succession of command.
Develop all possible intelligence on the area of operations.
Plan in advance for medical evacuation.
Check all personnel for physical condition and proper equipment before moving out.
Make initial moves from camps under cover of darkness or by concealed routes.
When possible, move on multiple and mutually supporting routes.
Be alert for ambushes.
Be prepared for sudden menacing engagements.
Move with stealth.
Maintain front, flank and rear security.
Be alert for punji traps, mines and booby traps.
Report enemy contact by the fastest available means.
Maintain contact with the enemy once you have it.
Use your own combat support means before calling for outside assistance.
Develop and use silent signals.
Carry only essential supplies and equipment
Occupy clandestine patrol assembly areas after dark to avoid detection.
Begin movement before daylight and continue well after dark to intercept the VC when he is moving.
Do not wear armored vests on prolonged ground operations.
Do not bunch up. Present as small a target as possible.
Do not talk, laugh, smoke or use lights.
Do not travel exclusively on roads and trails.
Do not out- maneuver your security forces.
DO's OF SEARCH AND DESTROY
Reconnoiter landing zones for obstacles before using.
Plan fires to cover and insure area of operations.
Have air reconnaissance over the objective and routes thereto to limit the enemy surprising you. However, care must be used not to reveal your intentions.
Use concealed routes or darkness to conceal your approach.
Withhold scheduled fires to the last moment so as not to reveal your intentions.
Be alert for snipers in uncommon locations such as dung piles, gardens, haystacks, wells, etc.
Use some form of encirclement when villages are encountered.
When possible, use villagers to precede you into villages. They will avoid mines, booby traps and obstacles.
Avoid being channelized by fences, hedges, punji traps, etc.
Be alert for cleverly camouflaged tunnels, caves and bunkers.
Destroy all tunnels, caves and bunkers.
Provide for demolitions to accomplish necessary destruction.
Question individuals out of sight and hearing of groups so they will talk without fear of reprisals.
Search every possible nook and cranny for booby traps, weapons and possible intelligence information.
Leave stay-behind ambush patrols to ambush returning VC and those hidden underground and undetected.
Be alert for fleeing VC after isolated explosions. The VC often effect a grenade thru a hole in a tunnel to cover their escape by another passage.
When it becomes necessary to deliberately destroy a Vietnamese village, attempt to secure written permission of the Province, District, or Sector Chief to have the village burned. After receiving this permission, have either the person giving permission or his representative (i.e. a Vietnamese national) actually set fire to the village.
SEARCH AND DESTROY DON'TS
Do not relax at any time, especially on return from an operation.
Do not allow captured civilians and VC to mix.
Do not separate small children from their mothers.
Do not throw grenades into mud or wooden buildings without having adequate cover.
DO'S OF HELIBORNE OPERATIONS
Make detailed reconnaissance of all landing zones and objective areas in coordination with the airlift element.
Plan to use Army Air - Air Force - and Artillery to seal off the objective area.
Provide for a reaction force.
Consider weather in all planning.
Provide back-up spare aircraft to cover aborts.
Plan suppression fires on the landing zone to be executed at the last possible moment.
When multiple lifts to the same LZ are used, shift suppressive fires farther out or on avenues of approach for the landing of succeeding lifts.
Plan for medical evacuation to include providing medical evac. pilots with unit frequencies to expedite their action.
Provide for armed helicopter escort. Consider aircraft refueling time when planning an operation.
When possible, stage operations from an air facility to expedite refueling, loading and rearming of aircraft.
Provide different routes for multiple lifts to the same LZ.
Select multiple landing zones when possible and use a deception plan to deny the enemy knowing the primary one.
Select landing zones which facilitate rapid decisive maneuver and prevent the VC from reacting.
HELIBORNE OPERATION DON'TS
Do not dispatch helicopters in less than pairs.
Have a single over-all commander for each operation.
Provide a succession of command to cover possible battle losses.
Whenever possible, have air cover.
Plan supporting fires along the entire route.
Provide an alert force to extricate any portion of the convoy attacked.
Provide for escorts in addition to reaction forces.
Keep movement times and dates secretive until the last possible moment.
Rehearse immediate action to be taken in case of attack.
Check equipment readiness before moving out.
Coordinate with all agencies, area forces and commands thru which the convoy will move.
Have effective communications with a back-up at all times.
Avoid identifying command and control vehicles.
Lead out with the heaviest vehicles.
Face riding personnel outward to permit immediate return of fire if attacked, and leave the vehicle tail gate open to permit easy exit.
Have all personnel carry weapons at the ready at all times.
Provide and maintain vehicle intervals at all times. (Minimum 100 meters.)
Consider any portion of the route as a potential ambush site.
Avoid routine and repetition.
Treat all strangers as possible enemy.
If fired on: Immediately return fire. Attempt to drive out of the killing zone. Attack the ambush force as soon as possible.
Do not emplace supporting weapons in the same location each day on succeeding convoys.
Do not relax at any time. The VC may allow portions or whole convoys to pass in order to gain complete surprise.
Do not allow civilians (including children) to approach or get on any vehicle.
Do not leave vehicles or equipment unguarded at any time.
Do not allow a broken down vehicle to be left unprotected.
BOOBY TRAP DO'S
Remember the VC make wide use of booby traps at every opportunity.
Learn to recognize the signs of booby trap emplacement. Favorite locations of the VC are: On gates, on fording sites, along trails, near stepping stones at stream crossings, in gaps in thicket fences, in rafters, on doors and on abandoned equipment and weapons.
Destroy booby traps in place using demolition charges or by remotely activating the trip wire.
Use local natives to precede you through suspect areas whenever possible.
BOOBY TRAP DON'TS
Do not cross rivers and streams at prepared shallow crossing sites without carefully searching out the approaches.
Do not establish a pattern of movement along trails at any time.
Do not enter a fenced yard through a gate without searching out the immediate area.
Do not move troops in a close formation through suspected danger areas. Maintain a minimum of 15 meters between individuals to avoid multiple casualties.
GENERAL CULTURAL DO'S
Try to learn and use Vietnamese language.
Speak slowly and distinctly, and avoid the use of slang. (Think of the difficulty of trying to explain the meaning of “I get a bang out of that.”)
Be sincerely courteous. Even if your gesture is not understood, the courtesy will be appreciated.
Use a title of rank or the word “Mister” rather than call an individual by his first or last name.
Pay respects to all clergy by a slight nod of the head when you meet, including Buddhist Monks and Catholic Priests.
Accept refreshments when visiting a Vietnamese.
GENERAL CULTURAL DON'TS
Do not enter anyone's home socially unless invited in.
Do not make jokes about not being able to eat with chopsticks.
Do not prop your feet on a desk or table, put a leg over the arm of a chair, or sit cross legged when talking with Vietnamese.
Do not summon a Vietnamese by gestures.
Do not worry about time. Be patient.
DO'S AND DON'TS FOR THE US SOLDIER, SAILOR, AIRMAN AND MARINE IN VIETNAM
CONCERNING THE VIETNAMESE PEOPLE
DO identify yourself with the goals and interests of the local people by following their customs, using their language, and understanding their way of life.
DO treat women with politeness and respect.
DO demonstrate to the people your knowledge of their government and your respect for its officials and laws.
DO show the Vietnamese soldier that you know and respect his rank and experience.
DO always give the people the right of way when you drive.
DON'T attract attention by loud or rude behavior.
DON'T lose your temper or argue unnecessarily.
DON'T separate yourself from the people by an open display of wealth or privilege.
CONCERNING YOUR PROFESSINAL CONDUCT
DO remember security, remain alert, and be ready to react with your military skills.
DO give help and cooperation to the other Americans and Allies who are here assisting the Vietnamese people.
DO consider carefully the VC tactics before making decisions which affect the lives and property of the Vietnamese people.
DO treat VC captives according to the Geneva Convention.
DON'T forget where you are, and why you are here. Always use self restraint and consciously avoid any actions which would discredit our motives and weaken our standing with the Vietnamese people.
DON'T use unnecessary force.
COINCERNING YOUR PERSONAL CONDUCT
DO keep your appearance up to proper standards.
DO know and obey Vietnamese and US regulations dealing with purchases from the PX and commissary and conversion of currency.
DO remember security and remain alert.
DO cooperate with Vietnamese police. They are responsible for your security.
DON'T let yourself become irritated by inconveniences or difference from your usual pattern of life.
DON'T walk in large groups in any city.
DON'T travel alone at night.