ARVN OUR VITAL PARTNER FROM THE AMERICAL DIVISION MAGAZINE — OCTOBER 1969.
Copy of article provided by Louis Bohn to the Hill 4-11 Association
By SP4 Don Yost, 11th Inf. Bde.
Their physical appearance differ the Americal soldier towering over his ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) ally. But they fight with equally high skills and are teaming up to put the crunch on "Charlie."
Born in wartime and brought up with numerous bloodly battles against enemy forces, one group of ARVNs, the 4th Regt., 2nd ARVN Div., has developed into a first-rate combat force.
It has participated in most operations organized in Quang Ngai Province, and its soldiers have put 12,500 enemy troops out of action and captured over 1,000. More than 450 Communist cadre, including an NVA lieutenant colonel, have defected to the ARVN Regiment.
As testimony to its combat efficiency, 4th ARVN Regt. elements captured a 75mm recoilless rifle the VC planned to use in an attack against LZ Bronco, 11th Inf. Bde. headquarters.
ARVN troops had set up night ambush positions three miles north of the LZ along possible routes of enemy movement. Late that night, the luckless VC stumbled into the trap.
The ARVNs sprang the ambush, killing five and capturing not only the recoilless rifle and its ammunition, but also a log book containing the number of rounds the VC fired at LZ Bronco a few days earlier.
Because of the regiment's efficiency, LZ Dragon, formerly manned by the 11th Bde. soldiers, was turned over to the ARVNs in May. The regiment is stationed on Dragon to work with the 11th Bde. in securing the tactical operations area south of Quang Ngai City.
LTC Richard A. Jacoby, senior American advisor on LZ Dragon, coordinates operations with the 11th Bde. through a combined U.S.-ARVN tactical operations center.
Some 155mm howitzer batteries are perched on Dragon, as well as elements of the 21st AVRN field artillery, 81mm and 60mm mortar platoons, and 57mm recoilless rifles.
When Americal and ARVN troops conduct a combined operation, two basic planning methods are used. In one approach, U.S. advisors and ARVN and Americal unit commanders hold informal discussions, determining which units will participate in the operation and what their functions will be.
The second method of planning a combined assault is based on intelligence reports which identify areas of large enemy activity.
When an enemy concentration is detected, Americal and ARVN commanders reach a mutual agreement on what units to deploy. The decision depends on location of friendly units relative to enemy positions, as well as tactical importance of operations engaged in at the time of the discovery.
ARVN and Americal units maintain close coordination throughout a combined operation. The ARVNs move parallel to Americal forces on combined combat sweep operations and often act as blocking elements for U.S. troop, pushing the enemy toward them.
Although they usually are supported by their own artillery, ARVN forces frequently receive artillery support from the 11th Bde. In like manner, the 11th does not hesitate to ask for support from ARVN artillery.
ARVN batteries function basically the same as an Americal battery except they do not employ the sophisticated Field Artillery Digital Computer System. An ARVN battery plots its targets mathematically without computers.
Besides close cooperation between Americal and ARVN artillery, ARVN infantrymen and E Trp., 1st Cav. frequently work together in combined sweeps. Such operations normally are planned at least one week in advance on the basis of intelligence reports.
If an ARV commander feels he needs added support to accomplish his mission, he can request Americal armored personnel carriers (APC) to move with his unit. During a sweep in April, elements of the 4th ARVN Regt. and a platoon from E Trp. secured an area 11 miles north of Duc Pho.
"The ARVNs worked exceptionally well with us," said 1LT Tony Varda, executive officer of E Trp. "They were very cooperative, and this made the operation a complete success."
Helicopter support also plays a major role in U.S./ARVN operations.
The 174th Aslt. Hel. Co. (AHC) provides LTC Le Ba Khieu, 4th Regt. commander, with a command and conrol (C&C) helicopter. From his chopper, LTC Khieu controls his troops on the ground, maneuvering them toward enemy positions. He also direct artillery support from either Americal or ARVN batteries.
When an ARNV unit contacts an enemy force, it is given all the helicopter support provided by U.S. troops. This includes "Shark" gunships for added fire power, as well as Medevac helicopters.
Freuqently, a "Smokey" chopper is included in a combat assault for greater security. The "Smokey" spreads a dense smoke around the landing zone to provide concealment for ARVN and Americal elements.
When ARVN units set up night defensive positions, they also can call on helicopter flare ships for needed illumination.
Statistics from the last 12 combined combat assaults involving 11th Bde. and 4th Regt. troops indicates the effectiveness of allied campaigns.
The combined units accounted for 266 NVA and 79 VC killed, and the capture of 18 crew-served and 68 individual weapons.
During Operation "Quyet Thang" (Strive For Victory), ARVN and Americal forces fought side by side, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Results of the operation included 1,405 enemy soldiers killed.
Besides combat sweep operations, U.S. and ARVN soldiers often cooperate on engineering projects such as building firebases and constructing roads.
In one seven-day operation, elements of the 11th Bde. and 4th Regt. teamed up on a road clearing mission five miles west of Quang Ngai City.
Division combat engineers from C Co., 26th Engr. Bn. cleared a 200-meter swath on either side of a road connecting the province capital to a firebase four miles west. The ARVN's 3rd Bn. provided security, and additional fire support came from the 11th Bde.'s E Trp., 1st Cav., and the 1st company of the 4th ARVN Tank Bn.
The combined team met with only sporadic sniper fire as they pushed ahead, widening the existing strip of road to prevent ambushes against truck convoys supplying the firebase.
1LT James Kosman, platoon leader with E Trp., praised ARVN efforts: "They did an excellent job of clearing the way up ahead, and they kept us well-informed all they way."
As U.S. and ARVN bulldozers cleared brush and leveled hedgerows, two ARVN infantry companies set up forward, providing flank and rear security.
Americal APCs maintained local security as the ARVN tank company deployed along the flanks with the infantry units.
A member of Advisory Team 2, Quang Ngai City, which has been working with the ARVN battalion for nearly a year, spoke highly of the unit. "They are fine soldiers," said Australian Warrant Officer Bob Cameron. "They show a great willingness to learn and make good fighters."
As the operation drew to a close, PFC Richard Rosa, C Co., 26th Engrs., said, "The ARVNs did a fine job of pulling security for us and were very easy to get along with. It was a smooth operation."
ARVN and Americal forces also worked closely in establishing a hilltop firebase seven miles west of Quang Ngai City.
Holding a commanding view of the surrounding area, the hill sits on the edge of the 11th Bde.'s 3rd Bn., 1st Inf., area, and is the staging point for intensive pressure against local-force VC.
Assigned to preliminary work of clearing the new firebase, A Co., 3-1 began digging in and prepared a temporary helicopter pad for the first loads of supplies and equipment brought in. ARVN units secured the surrounding area.
Official name of the firebase is "LZ 4-11" in recognition of combined efforts between men of the 4th Regt. and the 11th Bde.
Fighting together, Americal and ARVN soldiers have grown to respect each other. Through the success of their combined operations and strong spirit of cooperation, they have hurt the enemy and continue to strike as an efficient combat team.