OF THE ARMY HEADQUARTERS
3rd BATTALION 8th INFANTRY APO US FORCES 96265
21 APRIL 1968
SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report (RCS: MAC-V J-3 - J-2)
TO: Commanding General 4th Infantry Division ATTN: AVDDH-CG APO US Forces
1. (U) TYPE OF OPERATION: Defense of the 3rd Battalion 8th Infantry
Fire Support Base and related offensive operations.
2. (U) DATES OF OPERATION: 21 March 1968 to 2 April 1968.
3. (U) LOCATION: YA 939913
4. (U) COMMAND AND CONTROL HEADQUARTERS: Headquarters, 3rd Battalion
8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Diision, under the operational control of
the 173rd Infantry Brigade, (Abn) (Separate) until 301900 March 1968
and subsequently under the operational control of Headquarters, 3rd
Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
5. (U) REPORTING OFFICER: LTC D.M. Malone, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion
8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.
6. (U) TASK ORGANIZATION: a. HQ, 3rd Bn 8th Inf b. Company "A", 3rd
Bn 8th Inf c. Company "B", 3rd Bn 8th Inf d. Company "C", 3rd Bn 8th
Inf e. Company "D", 3rd Bn 8th Inf f. Company "E", 3rd Bn 8th Inf g.
2nd Platoon, Company "A", 4th Engr Bn h. Btry "C", 6th Bn, 29th Arty
(DS) i. After 260815 March 1968 task organization included: (1) Company
"B", 1st Bn 8th Inf (2) Company "D", 1st Bn 8th Inf
7. (U) SUPPORTING FORCES:
Battery, 1st BN 92nd Arty (GSR). This element is a 155mm towed unit.
"C" Battery expended approximately 2000 rounds of ammunition in support
of 3/8 operations. 571 of the above total were fired in defense of
the Fire Support Base. The support rendered by this battery was excellent.
Fires delivered during the defense of the Fire Support Base were extremely
responsive, timely, and accurate. During the attack on the perimeter
the battery provided close in defense fires. As the NVA began to break
contact and withdraw, these fires were shifted to block withdrawal
routes and interdict suspected rally points. In the later stages of
the contact, 155mm COFRAM was also fired into the suspected NVA assembly
areas northwest of the Fire Support Base.
b. "D" Btry, 5th Bn 22nd Arty (GS): This 8 inch Btry expended approximately
500 rounds of ammunition in support of operations. The principal use
of these fires was against known enemy bunkered positions in a destruction
role. During the NVA attack on the Fire Support Base, 46 rounds were
expended on Hill 1198 North of the Fire Support Base as a suppressive
c. "A" Btry, 3rd Bn 319th Arty: Other than the direct support Btry
of the 3/8 Infantry this Btry provided the only other 105mm fires
for operations. "A" Btry expended approximately 500 rounds of ammunition
in support of operations. This Btry departed the operational area
on 30 April 1968 and was replaced by "A" Btry, 2nd Bn 9th Arty on
30 April 1968. The defensive fires provided by "A" Btry, 2nd Bn 318th
Arty were delivered by the high angle technique and were along the
northern edge of the perimeter. Gun-target line restrictions did hamper
the use of the Btry.
d. "A" Btry, 2nd Bn 9th Arty: This Btry was not introduced into the
area until 30 April 1968 when it replaced "A" Btry, 3rd Bn 319th Arty.
The Btry expended approximately 500 rounds in support of offensive
operations and counter-mortar fires.
e. AC-47 Gun and Illumination Aircraft (Spooky): "Spooky" provided
close in protective fires and illumination along the Northwest, West,
and Southern sections of the perimeter. At times, airstrike headings
and gun-target lines interferred with the release of flares to allow
for constant illumination. The NVA elements took advantage of this
problem and increased fire and manuever during the darkness. To overcome
this, organic 81mm mortars were used to fire the gape between airborne
f. AC-47 Illumination Aircraft (Moonglow): This aircraft provided
continuous illumination after the departure of "Spooky". Although
the aircraft did not have 7.62 minigun capability, the illumination
g. 7/13th Air Force: The total operation was supported by 43 airstrikes.
14 airstrikes were flown in support of the Fire Support Base defense
and 5 of the 14 were flown under conditions of reduced visability,
using artifical illumination from "Spooky" and "Moonglow". The remaining
strikes were flown in support of offensive operations and against
known NVA occupied positions. The Bn requested 15 combat sky spots
and received 8. These missions were flown against suspected NVA assembly
and base areas. All air requests were immediate and reaction time
varied considerbly. The reaction to troops in contact was approximately
30 minutes. Strikes requested to properly prepare objectives were
as much as 5 hours late. Of special note is the close and continuous
support received during the defense of the Fire Support Base. The
strikes were delivered 200-300 meters West of the perimeter under
very marginal weather conditions. The forward air controllers and
pilots deserve specific mention for the outstanding support rendered
under extremely adverse conditions.
h. "C" Btry, 6th Bn 29th Arty: This Btry fired approximately 1500
rounds of ammunition. The majority of the ammunition was expended
in support of offensive operations and took the form of offensive
preparations and suppressive fires. In defense of the Fire Support
Base the Btry Fired approximately 30 rounds of "Beehive" ammunition.
The Btry delivered point blank direct fire into the attacking NVA
elements. One gun of the Btry was overrun by the NVA, but later retaken
in a counterattack conducted by Bn HQ personnel and artillerymen.
The Btry continued to deliver fire with at least two guns throughout
the defense, even though firing was in progress within the gun parapets.
i. General comments, supporting forces: All supporting elements delivered
outstanding support. Artillery fires were delivered effectively and
were immediately responsive to the support units' needs. The marginal
weather conditions and lack of sufficient illumination was seemingly
ignored by pilots and forward air controllers as they delivered ordnance
to within 200 meters of the perimeter. The three resupply and numerous
dustoff sorties flown after first light were highly commendable. The
resupply and medical evacuation were made under extremely intense
small arms, mortar, and rocket fire. The helicopter pilots were patient
and made every effort to meet every need of the troops in the contact.
area of operations: Terrain in the area of operations was typical
of the Central Highlands. Vegatation was dense, and doube and triple
canopy jungle was common. Water was abundant in gulleys and springs
are found frequently. Weather was warm and humid with no rain. Early
morning fog and haze reduced visability to 1/2 to 2km and haze persisted
throughout the period.
b. Intelligence prior to operations: The only intelligence available
to this unit prior to the NVA attack on the Fire Support Base were
SPAR and Radio Research Reports. The sources of information were the
173rd Abn Bde and the Polie Klieng Special Forces Camp. Plots of this
information revealed a West to East enemy movement pattern through
the Battalion AO. No indications of attack were given; however, fresh
trails, bunker complexes, and a net of communications wire were found
within hours after the initial combat assualt and indicated the presence
of one NVA battalion North of the Fire Support Base and another NVA
battalion South of the Fire Support Base.
c. Intelligence during operations: The element participating in the
attack was the 209th NVA Regt supported by unknown support and artillery
elements. At least two of the three organic battalions of the 209th
Regt directly participated. Document translations, I(?)W reports and
captured material indicate that attacking elements were reinforced
by an additional heavy weapons element and cadre from the 32nd, 312th,
and the 24th NVA Regts. Of particular note is the fact that the 209th
is a newly introduced element into the theater. The unit was exceptionally
well equipped. Flamethrowers, steel helmets, and sundry type items
were found. Equipment appeared new and well maintained. Flamethrowers
were used well forward to breach the perimeter bunkers and also supported
the assault on the artillery position. The NVA troops appeared healthy
and well fed.
d. Enemy use of communications wire: On 27 March, "B" Company conducted
a sweep of the area North and West of the Fire Support Base, through
which it was believed the main enemy force had withdrawn. In the course
of the operation "B" Company killed one NVA soldier who was stringing
communications wire in the draw 200 meters North of the Fire Support
Base. The NVA soldier had in his possession wire, telephone, radio
antenna, and a handset. Additional wire was found laid parallel to
the front of the perimeter and leading North toward Hill 1198. Earlier
on 22 March "B" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf also found wire laid East
of the Fire Support Base which appeared to have been laid several
days prior to the attack.
e. Chemical agents: A search of NVA KIA's on 26 March produced numerous
NVA CS hand grenades. Each NVA soldier carried the typical two piece
gas mask. On 27 March CS gas was received inside the perimeter and
was reported by the DS artillery battery and "C" Company. The effects
were those of CS; however, it could not be definitely established
whether the CS was from incoming mortar rounds being received at that
time, or from CS grenades outside the perimeter being set off by a
brush fire burning at the time. On 29 April "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th
Infantry and "A" Company captured an 82mm mortar base plate and 8
mortar rounds clearly marked CS. On 1 April, incoming mortar fire
started an ammunition fire in the Fire Support Base. Mortar Fire continued
throughout the fire. Shortly after the fire began a considerable quantity
of CS covered portions of the Fire Support Base. Again it is possible
that this CS came from US munitions being set off by the fire; however,
the ammunition dump contained no known CS munitions.
of the 3rd Bn 8th Inf was to establish a Fire Support Base at YA 939913
and seek out and block possible enemy units moving east towards Polie
Klieng and Kontum City.
CONCEPT OF THE OPERATION:
I (20 March 1968): "A" and "D" Companies conducted a combat assault
to coordinates YA 939913 to secure and prepare terrain for establishment
of Fire Support Base 14.
b. Phase II (21 March 1968) Fire Support Base displaced to coordinates
YA 939913 units began patrolling to the North, West and South. "B"
Company conducted an airlift to vic YA 939913 and assumed fire base
for movement to establish the Fire Support Base was received on 20
March 1968. At this time a visual reconnaissance was made of the prepared
landing zone and the Fire Support Base location. Artillery was registered
on the landing zone. The operation was delayed for three days due
to heavy contact of the 3rd Bn 503rd Inf (Abn). Because of the warning
provided the enemy by overflights and artillery registration, the
173rd Infantry Brigade (Abn) (Separate) directed that the landing
zone be changed from YA 915955 to YA 939913. As a deceptive measure
landing zones were also prepared at YA 951909 and YA 951881.
a. 21 March 1968: "A" and "D" Companies, Engineer Platoon, Recon Platoon
and Tactical Command Element made a combat assault into a landing
zone located at YA 939913. Planning called for the entire battalion
to close the new location on 20 March 1968 but non-availibility of
aircraft and contact on the landing zone precluded movement of the
complete force. After closure of "A" Company, contact was made on
the west side of the location with what was probably an LZ surveillance
party. Movement was also reported 200 meters north of the location
and "D" Company received small arms fire from the North. Friendly
casualties due to contact were 1 US KIA and 1 US WIA. There were no
known NVA casualties. A night location was established and preparations
were made to receive the remainder of the battalion on 22 March 1968.
b. 22 March 1968: "B" Company moved to the Fire Support Base from
their night location. "D" Company conducted operations to the North
of the Fire Support Base and made contact with an estimated reinforced
squad in bunkers; 3 US WIA's. Artillery was fired into the bunker
area and "D" Company withdrew to night location approximately 300
meters to the Northwest of the Fire Support Base.
c. 23 March 1968: "C" and "D" Companies conducted an operation into
area of contact on 22 March 1968. Contact was made at 230908 March
1968. NVA elements were occupying bunkers and employed automatic weapons,
small arms, and flamethrowers. "D" Company casualties were 3 US WIA's.
Two airstrikes were placed on the NVA bunker positions and artillery
was fired in the form of a preparation for another attack on the position.
"C" and "D" Companies attacked again at 231140 March 1968 and "D"
Company suffered 1 US KIA and four US WIA. "C" and "D" Companies occupied
positions in the contact area, but were forced to retire to their
previous night location due to non-availability of aircraft for resupply
d. 24 March 1968: Local reconnaissance patroling continued from the
Fire Support Base. "C" and "D" Companies were alerted to attack the
NVA bunker positions upon completion of two airstrikes. "D" Company
feinted headon into the bunker position and established a base of
fire on the slight hill overlooking the "saddle position". (See inclosure
1, NVA saddle position). "C" Company manuevered to flank the position
from the West. No resistance was encountered as "C" Company moved
around to the West flank of the bunker complex. "C" Company did discover
3 NVA KIA and miscellaneous items of NVA equipment scattered in the
bunkers. At 1437 hours "C" Company observed one NVA and took him under
fire with unknown results. "C" Company continued to sweel North until
1445 when they received small arms and automatic weapons fire and
took 2 US WIA. An airstrike was placed on the enemy position and "D"
Company moved to link up with "C" Company. As "D" Company began to
move they received sporadic sniper fire from NVA North of their position
implaced in spider holes. Both "C" and "D" Companies moved to eliminate
this fire by fire and maneuver. "C" Company suffered 4 US WIA and
accounted for 8 NVA KIA. "D" Company suffered no friendly casualties
and killed 8 NVA by dropping grenades in spider holes. "C" Company
occupied a night location vic YA 940917 and "D" Company occupied night
location of vic YA 941915.
e. 25 March 1968: "B" Company moved from the Fire Support Base to
relieve "C" Company in place and continue operations to the North.
"C" Company returned to the Fire Support Base. 5 airstrikes were placed
on enemy bunker positions vic YA 940916.
f. 26 March 1968: Enemy movement around the Fire Support Base perimeter
began 260115 March 1968. The movement continued on a sporadic basis
until 0320 hours when the attacking NVA exploded a bangalore torpedo
and successfully breached the perimeter wire barrier. The initial
NVA assault against the West and Northwest perimeter was characterized
by swift coordinated movement, a high volume of fire and the use of
flamethrowers to overcome the perimeter bunkers. Also the West and
Northwest perimeter came under extremely intense small arms, mortar,
and rocket fire. By 0400 "D" Company was exetremely short of ammunition
and, due to the NVA penetration and casualties, was forced to withdraw
to the artillery parapets. At approximately 0400, the NVA launched
a second main attack against the south perimeter. The engineer and
recon platoons were sent to reinforce "D" Company. Headquarters personnel
formed an ammunition carrying party to resupply "D" Company. At this
point, the mortar fire against the west perimeter took the form of
one continuous explosion. The NVA launched A second attack from the
vicinity of the west bunker line which was directed against the westernmost
artillery parapets. Flamethrowers were used and 105 ammunition and
bunkers were set on fire. The fighting in the artillery position became
a parapet to parapet affair. Supporting artillery fires were called
in the western position of the bunker line while the DS battery fired
beehive rounds due west across the perimeter. All available personnel
from the Tactical Operations Center were formed into a counterattack
force and sipatched to the artillery parapets to retake the one howitzer
overrun by the NVA. "Spooky" arrived on station at approximately 0430
and began delivering suppressive fires and illumination on the Northwest,
west and south perimeters. "A" Company attempted to enter the perimeter
from the Northwest but was pinned down by a blocking force. On the
fourth attempt, at 0615 "A" Company was successful. Airstrikes were
delivered as close as possible to the West perimeter, using artificial
illumination. Fighting in and around the perimeter continued until
0700 and incoming mortar, rocket and sniper fire continued to harrass
the Fire Support Base until 0800. Illumination resupply and medical
evacuation began at 0630 hours. Police of the battle area and reconstruction
of positions comprised the remainder of the days activities. Casualty
figures for the day were 19 US KIA, 53 US WIA, 135 NVA KIA, 4 NVA
captured (WIA). Weapons and equipment captured are discussed in paragraph
12. "B" and "D" Companies, 1st Bn 8th Inf arrived at the Fire Support
Base at 0900 hours thru an LZ at Hill (???) YA 951909, secured by
a Recon Team of the Recon Platoon. "D" Company, 3rd Bn 8th Inf was
moved to Dragon Mountain to refit and receive replacements. "A" Company
remained in the Fire Support Base with "C" Company. "B" and "D" Companies,
1st Bn 8th Inf moved to a night location vic YA 940915.
g. 27 March 1968: Heavy movement was reported around the entire perimeter
throughout the night. Hand grenades and M-79 fire was used to suppress
and discourage the enemy movement. "B" Company conducted a sweep operation
to the north and northwest of the Fire Support Base. Contact was made
approximately 300 meters northwest of the perimeter. "B" Company killed
one NVA who was stringing communications wire up the draw in the direction
of the fire base. No further contact was made during the day, however
reports of movement, relatively near positions, was reported frequently.
h. 28 March 1968: Again, heavy movement was reported around the perimeter
throughout the night. Perimeter elements suppressed the movement through
the use of hand grenades and M-79 fire. Sweep operations were conducted
from the Fire Support Base. "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf made contact
with an estimated 12 NVA 500 meters North of the Fire Support Base.
"D" Company suffered 1 US KIA. "D" Company retired to "A" Company's
Position 300 meters North of the Fire Support Base to evacuate the
1 US KIA. "D" Company again moved North and was successful in reaching
their objective at YA 937924. "A" Company closed with "D" Company
to establish a night location. In the process of moving, "D" Company
discovered one NVA KIA in the earlier contact. At 1730 hours, the
NVA conducted a disorganized attack against the night location of
"A" Company and "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf. Small arms fire was received
from the North and West and indirect fire in the form of rifle grenades
and mortars. Direct 105mm and 106 recoilless rifle fire was employed
from the Fire Support Base and one airstrike was placed on attacking
NVA elements just prior to darkness. The NVA elements withdrew to
the Southwest and were subjected to all available indirect fires.
At 1940 hours "B" Company came under attack by 75 RR fire from the
North. Direct 105mm fire was placed on the NVA firing position and
secondary explosions were observed. "A" Company received 2 US WIA,
"D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf received 8 WIA for total casualties for
i. 29 March 1968: Heavy movement was reported around the perimeter
throughout the night. Once again M-79 fire and hand grenades served
to suppress the enemy movement. "A" Company and "D" Company, 1st Bn
8th Inf also reported movement to the North and West of their night
location. "B" and "C" Companies conducted local patrol operations
from the Fire Support Base. Local patrol operations and security sweeps
near "A" Company and "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf disclosed 2 NVA KIA
in the previous day's contact. Hasty trails with blood signs were
also located by "A" Company. At 0900 the Fire Support Base received
incoming 82mm mortar fire. The incoming fire continued intermittently
throughout the day. There were a total of 18 US WIA's due to mortar
attacks. The battalion was supported by elements of the 7th Squadron,
17th Cavalry during the day. Cavalry elements were unsuccessful in
silencing the mortar that harrassed the Fire Support Base. The mortar
was generally located at YA 926917 and defied all efforts to neutralize
its fire. All elements remained at their previous night locations.
j. 30 March 1968: Heavy movement was reported around the Fire Support
Base and night locations. M-79 fire and hand grenades served to suppress
the enemy movement. Incoming mortar fire was received all during the
day and accounted for 9 US WIA. At 1005 hours the battalion was directed
to assault Hill 1198 vic YA 937931, to arrive at the objective area
by 1700 hours. NVA were observed by "A" Company and "D" Company, 1st
Bn 8th Inf near their perimeter. The NVA were taken under fire with
unknown results. Local patroling was conducted near the Fire Support
Base by "B" Company and "C" Company. A patrol from "B" Company made
contact with an estimated NVA platoon with two 50 caliber machineguns
100 meters west of the perimeter. The patrol suffered 1 US WIA and
1 US KIA. Simultaneously the Fire Support Base came under sniper fire
from the West. The patrol was recovered and direct and indirect fire
was placed on the NVA platoon. At 1420 hours "A" Company moved North
toward Hill 1198 and immediately began receiving (??) taking 1 US
WIA. "A" Company continued to move towards Hill 1198 and made contact
with an estimated NVA company dug in in foxholes and bunkers. "A"
Company immediately suffered 4 US WIA and were mortared in the rear
of their position. "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf immediately South of
"A" Company and securing the LZ began receiving small arms and mortar
fire simultaneously with the two contacts to the North. "B" Company,
1st Bn 8th Inf located at YA 940915 began receiving small arms fire
from all sides. "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf moved one platoon North
to secure the withdrawal route of "A" Company and "A" Company effected
link-up with "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf at the former night location.
As a result of this action "A" Company suffered 8 US KIA and 27 US
WIA. "D" Company, 1st Bn 8th Inf suffered 4 US WIA. Six personnel
from "A" Company, initially cut off in the initial firefight, successfully
evaded and returned to friendly lines. Total casualties for the day's
operations were 8 US KIA and 39 US WIA. Casualties inflicted upon
NVA forces were unknown.
k. 31 March 1968: Once again all elements reported heavy movement
around the perimeters. Hand grenades, M-79 fire and selected sniper
activity suppressed the movement. Artillery defensive concentration
were also fired. Incoming mortar fire began at 0715 and continued
throughout the day. All elements conducted local reconneissance patrolling
adjacent to their positions. One airstrike was delivered against the
NVA mortar position shelling the Fire Support Base. Two airstrikes
were delivered against enemy bunker positions North of Hill 1198.
Upon completion of the airstrikes, two companies of the 1st Bn 35th
Inf assaulted to seize Hill 1198. Flight resistance, in the form of
one burst of sniper fire, was the only enemy activity. Total casualties
for the operation was 1 US WIA. Total casualties of the day's mortar
attacks were 16 US WIA.
l. 01 April 1968: Heavy movement around perimeters continued throughout
the night. "Spooky", 81mm mortars, and defensive concentrations were
employed to suppress the movement. Units conducted local sweep operations
within 200 meters of their positions. Incoming mortar fire and ground
fire against aircraft persisted throughout the day. Two airstrikes
were directed on the ridge North of Hill 1198. Incoming mortar fire
ignited a sling load of 106mm recoilless rifle ammunition and the
fire spread throughout the Fire Support Base ammunition stockpile
and communications bunkers. Incoming mortar fire also prevented an
early effective fire fighting program. The fire was extinguished by
1920 hours. The NVA launched a recoilless rifle attack at 1910 hours
and succeeded in scoring direct hits against 3 perimeter bunkers.
The recoilless rifle was neutralized by direct 105mm howitzer fire
and machinegun fire. m. 02 April 1968: Heavy movement around the perimeter
was reported throughout the night. Again, the combined fires of "Spooky",
81mm mortars, defensive concentration, hand grenades, and M-79 fire
effective suppressed the movement. "B" and "D" Companies, 1st Bn 8th
Inf ininitiated sweep operations to the Southwest of Hill 1198 in
an effort to locate enemy mortar positions. Artillery elements of
the Fire Support Base began movement to Kontum. Elements of the 7th
Squadron 17th cavalry screened the area Northwest of the Fire Support
Base and successfully suppressed the NVA mortar fire. The remainder
of the Fire Support Base minus heavy equipment displaced to Polie
Klieng at 1600 hours and was co-located with the 2nd Bn 35th Inf.
Killed in Action..........32
(2) Wounded in Action........165
(3) Missing in Action..........1
(4) Captured in Action.........0
Killed in Action.........174
(2) Killed by Air.............10
(3) Prisioner of War...........4
enemy casualties: The following estimates are based on approved computation
constants of 1.5 for estimated enemy killed in action and 3 for estimated
enemy wounded in action:
Killed in Action.........276
(2) Wounded in Action........552
material losses were as follows:
(2) 82mm mortar rounds HE....60
(3) 82mm mortar rounds CS....18
(4) B-40 rocket rounds......100
(5) 60mm mortars..............2
(6) Documents................15 lbs
(7) Misc equipment.........2000 lbs
(8) 82mm mortar baseplate.....1
(9) Communication wire........4 miles
(10) AK-47 ammunition.......7500 rounds
(11) Machinegun ammunition..5000 rounds
(12) NVA frag grenades.......200
(13) NVA CS grenades..........75
Not all airstrike areas were reached by this unit.
No US equipment was lost to NVA elements.
All resupply was conducted by air. Sufficient assets were made available
for resupply. However the 1700 release time did cause some rearrangement
in timing. The basic load of ammunition held in the Fire Support Base
should be twice the number of companies manning the Fire Support Base
perimeter. This technique allows for more responsive resupply of committed
manuevering elements and still sufficient reserve for the Fire Support
b. Maintenance: All items received in the Fire Support Base were acceptably
maintained. However, constant supervision must be conducted to insure
elements properly maintain those items of equipment not normally assigned
in the field (106mm RR, 50 Cal MG, 80mm RR).
c. Medical: Treatment of casualties should be centrally controled.
The Battalion Surgeon should remain at a designated location to treat
the most serious casualties. Unit medical personnel should remain
with respective element and be available should the need arise. A
ten to fifteen patient medical facility should be included in Fire
Support Base construction plans.
d. Transportation: Omitted.
e. Communications: Communications were good throughout the operation.
The AM/PRC-25 and AM/PRC-46 were adequate and reliable.
f. Medical evaluation: Medical service in the field was adequate.
In most cases dustoff support was outstanding.
g. Ammunition malfunctions: The only serious malfunction occurred
with the 155mm fuze delay ammunition. The 155mm fuze delay shell was
used against NVA bunker positions; however, the dud rate (7 out of
10 rounds) precluded effective use of these fires. Shell HE was subsituted
for the delay fuze ammunition but at a considerable loss of effectiveness.
Concrete piercing 8" fire was also subsituted for the 155mm fuze delay
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND TECHIQUES:
rifles: The 106 recoilless rifle was used extensively throughout the
period of operations, both as a direct support weapon for attacking
elements and to fire suppressive fires against enemy direct and indirect
fire positions. The weapon was far more responsive than artillery
and is particularly well suited to operations in hilly terrain with
targets located at relatively close range. The greatest disadvantage
of the weapon when compared to artillery was the lack of fuze options
and limited volume of fire.
b. Reconnaissance Teams: A five man stay behind team from the Recon
Platoon was positioned on Hill 996 during periods when other elements
were not positioned there. This team provided surveillance over the
Eastern and Southeastern approaches to the to the Fire Support Base
and provided early warning of enemy movement. In affect, the positioning
of this team accomplished the mission equivalent to a rifle company.
The value of the Recon Team was realized on the morning of the attack
against the Fire Support Base, when reinforcements were airlifted
on to Hill 996. The stay behind team secured the landing zone and
was available to provide accurate, on the spot information to the
elements as they prepared to move to the Fire Support Base.
c. Ammunition fires: It was found that the most effective means of
counteracting an ammunition fire is to immediately establish watch
personnel in protected or semiprotected areas between bunkers. It
is not possible with normally available firefighting equipment, to
effectively suppress the fire; however, watch personnel can see that
it is contained. Should the fire start to spread, it is necessary
for the watch personnel to expose themselves long enough to prevent
the spread of the fire. Chemical type fire extinguishers were the
only item that produced effective results in fighting ammunition fires.
This type of extinguisher should be available in the Fire Support
d. Positioning of reserves: One rifle company was kept in a position
approximately 200 meters Northeast of the Fire Support Base during
most of the period of operation. This positioning provided an element
capable of reacting to either the Fire Support Base or the manuevering
units. It precluded unacceptable density in the Fire Support Base,
with the attendant risk of enemy mortar fire, while still providing
a reserve element close at hand. The location of this company and
its ability to move into the perimeter, was instrumental in repulsing
the enemy attack and reestablishing the Fire Support Base perimeter.
e. Harrassing and interdicting fires: The terrain North of the Fire
Support Base offers several execellent locations from which to attack
the Fire Support Base with recoilless rifle fire. There are also numerous
possible mortar locations in the area. In order to place effective
suppressive fire upon likely weapons and still avoid excessive expenditures
of any one type of ammunition, a plan was evolved whereby several
types of weapons would fire on a rotating schedule throughout the
night. A typical program would be the firing of two rounds of 155mm
HE, followed wihtin several minutes by two bursts of .50 caliber HMG
fire, followed in turn by 81mm mortar fire. The schedule was sufficiently
flexible that the enemy could not pick up an established pattern.
At the same time it allowed for a widespread H and I program without
seriously depleting stocks of any one type of ammunition.
Support: (This line is my guess based on the Info provided, the actual
line 15 does not appear).
support: The operation was conducted with the minimum of supporting
artillery. The delivery of fires from those elements supporting this
battalion was timely and effective but not of sufficient volume to
make maximum use of time on target and destruction mission techniques.
The location of the supporting batteries did not allow for adequate
coverage of all the approaches into friendly positions. The firing
rule of not firing over friendly troops manuevering into the last
one-third of the trajectory was a permenant problem due to the location
of the Fire Support Base and the location of the primary fire support
at Polie Klieng. An additional gun-target line either from the North
or South into the operational area would have eliminated almost all
of the "dead space" areas not covered by artillery fires.
b. Air support: Some difficulty was experienced in getting airstrikes
at the requested time. Airstrikes arriving late in the day were responsible
for one attack being delayed one day, and another operation commencing
at a time less than desireable. Air support requested to support attacks
on fortified positions should arrive sufficiently early in the morning
to permit attack of the positions, a thorough search of the position,
and ample time for resupply and construction of a strong night location.
c. Communications: There is a definite tendency of junior leaders
to move to the scene of the most intense enemy activity. Although
their personal courage is commendable this practice often results
in a loss of communications with sub-elements and insufficient or
incomplete information ation being passed to the Command and Control
Headquarters. Proper maintenance of communications and correct reporting
procedures is a subject requiring continual emphasis at all levels.
d. Enemy movement near perimeter: In the course of the operation it
was noted that the enemy movement near the friendly perimeter was
related directly to H and I fires and the use of "Spooky" aircraft.
As the intensity of the H and I fires was increased, enemy movement
near the perimeter was also increased. The same situation developed
when "Spooky" delivered his fire six to eight hundred meters from
the perimeter. It appeared that the NVA were hugging the friendly
perimeter in an effort to avoid the friendly fires. Results of these
fires are not known. No NVA bodies were found; however, the NVA had
sufficient time to clear and police the battle area. This method of
fire did bring about a definite decrease in enemy activity near the
(Limited Dist) D.N.
1. NVA Saddle Position LTC,
Sketch, Attack on FSB Commanding
3. Sketch, NVA Penetration
4. Map, NVA Routes and Airstrike Locations
5. Map, A Company Attack and Airstrike Locations
6. Sketch, Defensive Fires
After Action Report Inclosure 1 NVA SADDLE POSITION
previous study of the correlation between types of NVA battle positions
and types of terrain features, (Pattern Analysis of NVA Positions,
Dak To Battlefield, HQ, 3rd Bn 8th Inf, 29 Jan 68) it was shown that
the NVA quite frequently construct unit positions in a saddle connecting
two higher pieces of ground. During the period covered by this report,
attacking elements of the 3rd Battalion 8th Infantry operating West
of Poli Kleng came up against three separate "saddle positions" in
three separate locations. The positions, each of which would accomodate
an estimated NVA company, were all laid out in a similar fashion:
furthermore, the tactics and techniques used by the NVA at each position
were almost identical.
position" and the NVA tactics associated herewith could be a unit
characteristic, however, discussion with the Commanding Officer, 3rd
Battalion 12th Infantry indicates that his elements also encountered
a "saddle position" some two months earlier when they were fighting
a different NVA regiment North of Ben Het. Both the positions and
tactics were similar to those encountered by the 3rd Battalion 8th
is, therefore, a good indication that a particular NVA tactic has
been identified and further, that this tactic is generalized, that
is, it is used by more than one NVA regiment. A discussion of the
position and the tactics used is included below in the hopes that
it can be studied further at a level where a larger data basis is
is derived from patrol reports, aerial-visual reconnaissance, and
discussion with those who fought in the positions. A graphic representation
of the "saddle position" is attached as sketch #1. Post combat study
and discussion of both the positions and the NVA tactics support strongly
that the "saddle position" is evolutionary, developed from an NVA
analysis which apparently assumes that:
US units hibitually move along ridges or saddles which connects
two pieces of high ground, rather than approaching by contour or
swinging down across draws and fingers.
In moving from one piece of high ground to another when NVA are
known to be defending in the area, US units will hold on one hill
and prepare the next with intensive air and artillery preparation,
directing the preparation primarily against the objective hill mass.
Secondary emphasis or perhaps reconnaissance fire will be directed
to the ridge or saddle connecting the high ground.
of the saddle position and the manner in which the NVA fight from
the position both suggest that the saddle position was designed to
take advantage of the two US "Characteristics" noted above. The position
is not sited on the objective hill mass, but is located so as to control
the most likely approach, as well as limited (200-300 meter) flanking
attempts. The majority of the fighting positions are not located on
the top of the ridge or saddle (the probable US line of march), but
rather on the sides. The position thereby possibly escapes one or
more gun target lines.
is sited so that it can be fought as either perimeter defense or ambush;
in either case, good withdrawal routes and delay positions are available.
Further, the siting of the individual positions permits the NVA to
deliver heavy fire toward the center of their own position without
masking each other's fires.
the protective bunkers located some distance away in well protected
draws on each flank provide protection during air and artillery preparations
as well as a covered attack position for reinforcing units.
of the 3rd Battalion 8th Infantry fought these positions on at least
five occasions. These times the NVA used the saddle position as a
defensive perimeter, and twice they employed it as an ambush position.
The contact made by Co A, 3/8 on 30 March 1968 was the major contact
with the saddle position, and is the best example of the tactics employed
by the NVA when fighting from the position.
particular contact, Co A, 3/8 moved to contact down the ridge line
leading to Hill 1198. The hill itself had received air and artillery
preparation, and the company moved behind artillery reconnaissance
by fire. After 400-500 meters of movement along the ridge, the company
made contact with AW's and MG's, dug in at the base of the hill. As
the company attempted to recover its wounded and pull back for more
artillery preparation, the NVA attacked from both flanks and from
the rear. A mortar was moved into position in the rear of the company
and began to fire into the forward elements of Co D, 1/8 which had
been given the mission of securing the high ground from which Co A,
3/8 had jumped off.
3/8 at this point fought to both flanks and the front, and was able
to withdraw back to the jump off position moving through the "channel"
held open by Co D, 3/8. Discussion with company officers and CO's
strongly suggests that Co A, 3/8, following the preparation, had moved
well into a saddle position and made contact on the far side of the
perimeter. NVA troops at about the same time moved up from their protective
bunkers in the draws to the flanks and into fighting positions on
Co A, 3/8's flanks and rear. Two members of a squad who were cut off
in the initial contact confirmed the presence of protective bunkers
300-400 meters downhill from the saddle position, with well used trails
leading up into the position. The fighting was heavy up on the saddle
as the two men came upon the protective bunkers, but the bunkers were
five saddle position contacts made by 3/8, two techiques worked exceptionally
well. On one occasion, after the position had been located and fairly
well defined, one company was moved forward to make contact with the
near edge of the perimeter. The other attacking company swung well
to the flank, down into the draw and back up on to the saddle on the
far right side of the perimeter. At this point, the NVA apparently
became confused and began running back and forth within the position.
The first company then moved forward, cleaning out each individual
NVA position and eventually securing the entire saddle position.
was employed on another occasion. A recon patrol located and sketched
an unoccupied saddle position along a route of march to be used in
a two company attack the following day. An air and artillery preparation
was fired into the position and into the hill beyond it on the next
day, however, when the lead company reached the position, the NVA
had occupied it and took it under fire. The unit extracted its point
squad then pulled back to work the position more with air and artillery.
The artillery was started, however, the requested airstrikes were
diverted to other missions. The artillery was continued, at a reduced
rate, while the unit awaited sufficient air support.
in the afternoon (approximately 1500 hours), a techique was devised
which was derived directly from experience with a saddle position
on the two previous days. As the artillery on the saddle position
continued, a recon patrol was readied and the two companies which
were to move to the high ground beyond the position were alerted for
immediate movement. The artillery was shifted 700 meters beyond the
position and the recon patrol moved out immediately to check the position.
The patrol reported the position unoccupied. The companies were then
directed to begin movement toward the position, and the recon patrol
was moved uphill from the position to a point where they could observe
NVA attempts to occupy the position. Under cover of the recon patrol's
survaillance, the two rifle companies slipped through the position
moving by bounds, covering each other's movement, and securing the
hill beyond, which was the day's objective. As the two companies closed
to the top of the objective hill, the NVA mounted an uncoordinated
and piecemeal attack, taking heavy casualties both small arms fire
and direct fire artillery. In this case, it appeared that the NVA,
upon leaving the protective bunkers below the saddle position, found
that the US companies had already cleared the position. They then
attempted to change their tactics but lacked the flexibility to do
techique proved effective against the saddle position. Following the
Co A, 3/8 contact mentioned previously, relieving units of the 1/35
walked through the saddle position and on to their objective with
no resistance whatsoever. This case of movement was the result of
intensive artillery and air preparation (8-10 strikes were made available),