Prompt exploitation of intelligence is a major factor in achieving success in counter-guerrilla warfare. The application of this maxim played an important role in achieving success in the combat operation described below:
The hamlet of Thanh Duc, Dong Xuan District, Phu Yen Province (BQ918753) is located approximately six kilometers north of the CIDG camp of Dong Tre. In early summer of 1965, the Popular Force platoon that was securing the hamlet was withdrawn, leaving the inhabitants easy prey for VC domination. As the hamlet is located on the fringe of a nominally pacified area and is frequently used as a patrol base by friendly forces, the Viet Cong did not choose to occupy it. Instead, they created a covert infrastructure, controlling the people through coercion and applied terror. This minimized their chances of being compromised and destroyed by friendly forces.
In early February, 1966, Intelligence agents from Camp Dong Tre reported an increase in VC activity at Thanh Duc. This activity, included: (1). Organization of the farmers into a collective; (2) Formation of committees for the youth, women and aged, supervised by Communist Party members; (3) Political and propaganda lectures being conducted; (4) Defensive fortifications being built; (5) Introduction of an armed VC militia squad into Thanh Duc to provide security for the VC cadre and to guard the farmers as they worked their fields. Interrogation of captives taken during recent combat operations tended to confirm these reports. A request for more detailed information was dispatched to agents in the field.
On the afternoon of 9 February, an agent passed the following information to the S-2 Section of Camp Dong Tre: (1) The previous reports were essentially correct; (2) A seven man VC squad was staying in the hamlet, occupying three huts at night; (3) One guard was usually posted near the huts. On the basis of this report and earlier intelligence, a combat operation was planned for immediate execution.
The LLDB Camp Commander, advised by the USASF Detachment A-222 Commander, considered a night raid of company strength to be the most effective tactic. On 10 February, a CIDG Company, accompanied by LLDB and USASF advisors, moved to a point three kilometers from the hamlet. To prevent security leaks, only the CIDG company commander, the LLDB and the USASF knew the true mission of the operation. The troops were under the impression that they were reinforcements for another CIDG on a road security operation in that area.
At 110100 February, the CIDG company commander issued the operation order to his platoon leaders. Two platoons departed immediately to occupy blocking positions on the high ground to the west of Thanh Duc, with the main force crossing the line of departure an hour later. Taking maximum advantage of all concealment afforded by the terrain, the assault element was able to reach the hamlet undetected. Under the cover of darkness, and aided by detailed intelligence, a barbed wire/punji stake barrier, was silently breached and the VC guard dispatched. The CIDG troops swiftly deployed for their assault. The remaining six members of the VC squad were surprised and annihilated before they could react. Sweeping through the hamlet, the friendly force killed five of the Viet Cong cadre, as they attempted to escape, and captured seven others. Five weapons were seized as well as documents, military equipment and two tons of rice. The Communist Political infrastructure as well as the overt Viet Cong military force had been successfully removed from Thanh Duc. The CIDG withdrew to Camp Dong Tre - mission accomplished.
|Extract from Inclosure 16 to Section II to Operational Report on Lessons Learned for Period Ending 30 April 1966, Headquarter, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces|
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