The importance of exploiting intelligence of immediate tactical value obtained from captured enemy documents is illustrated by the series of combat actions described below. Major success was achieved by utilizing information initially gained from the capture of one document and following up subsequent intelligence gathered during engagements with the Viet Cong.
On 18 March: 1966, a CIDG ambush patrol from Camp Buon Ea Yang, killed a Viet Cong Company Commander and captured a number of documents he was carrying, including one that directed four VC companies to establish a training base at a given location. The following day, a two company size force of CIDG with USASF and LLDB advisors moved by foot toward the suspected enemy concentration. An assault on the objective, preceded by an intensive artillery and aerial bombardment, was launched at 211000 March and immediately encountered heavy opposition. The VC, occupying fortified positions on high ground, employed a high volume of` automatic weapons and small arms fire causing the CIDG forces to 'withdraw to more favorable positions and await reinforcements. Contact with the enemy was continued with the CIDG counterattacking between the numerous air strikes that were called in. At 211400 March, the friendly units were reinforced by an additional CIDG company and the VC defenses began to crumble. By nightfall, the enemy had been driven from their positions forced to flee the area. Total VC casualties were: 109 KIA, 21 KIA by ground action, with an undetermined number of VC wounded. No weapons or captives were taken, indicating that this VC unit possessed a high degree of military discipline and training. Friendly casualties were 9 CIDG and 1 interpreter KIA with 11 CIDG and 2 USASF WIA.
A search of the battlefield uncovered documents that revealed the presence of a VC battalion command post to the south in a land development center. To exploit this information, one company of CIDG each from Camp An Lao, Camp Lac Thien and the Pleiku Mike Force were alerted for a raid in strength. On 211315 March, following intensive airstrikes, this mixed unit was airlanded by helicopter on the objective. Heavy contact with an estimated company of VC was immediately established. As the VC resisted stubbornly for more than two hours before they retreated, it is apparent that these troops possessed the same high degree of discipline as those engaged in the previous day's action. A total of 33 VC were KIA and 9 were captured. Friendly losses were 1 USASF and 2 CIDG KIA with 3 CIDG WIA.
Evaluation of all intelligence acquired during those two operations and interrogation of the captives revealed the most likely infiltration routes used by the VC in their movement through this area. On the night of 30 March, a CIDG company from Camp Buon Ea Yang established an ambush on one of these routes. At 2130 hours, an estimated VC battalion entered the killing zone from the south and, at the same time, a local VC platoon moved in from the north. Both VC units were immediately taken under intense fire by automatic weapons, small arms and three claymore mines. Enemy casualties from the initial burst of fire were apparently heavy but, recovering quickly, the VC returned fire and counterattacked the friendly positions, both frontally and on one flank. These attacks were thrown back by the CIDG forces. Contact with the VC continued until 310100 March, with both sides using automatic weapons, small arms and mortars. 155mm artillery support and flare ships aided the outnumbered friendly force in holding back the VC. Again, the discipline of the VC was demonstrated by their evacuation of most of their dead, wounded and equipment, from the battlefield. By 310115 March, all firing ceased as the VC broke contact and. withdrew. First light revealed but 4 VC bodies and 1 wounded VC remaining on the scene. Numerous blood trails and other evidence of high VC losses were found. A number of rucksacks, 1 LMG mount, 1 mortar base plate and miscellaneous ammunition were captured. Friendly losses were 2 CIDG KIA and 4 WIA.
|Extract from Inclosure 17 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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