If the tactics of scorched earth and the staunch resistance inherent to the Russians repelled Napoleon's invading armies, then the insuperable problems created by the Spring thaw were instrumental in defeating the Corsicans during the Russian campaign.
After the hardships created by the mud, the lot of the artilleryman was far worse than the cavalry or infantryman's. Heavy and bulky in size the bronze alloy cast cannons of the imperial armies not only slowed down the interminable columns of men and material, but also proved ineffective while engaging the elusive Cossack cavalry, due to a lack of mobility.
Advanced technological innovations have greatly improved the artillery's maneuverability, yet, the impediments created by "General Mud" still hold true in the twentieth century. During the monsoons rains which perennially saturate the Central Highlands plateaus of South Vietnam, mud changes roads into viscous waterways. A 4,000 meter displacement of an artillery battery can take up to 16 hours with trucks and howitzers grinding their way through the mud. In these adverse situations, American technology and a great deal of ingenuity often avoid major delays in providing effective and quick artillery fire power.
For the officers and men of the 1st Battalion, 92d Artillery, moving over muddy terrain has become almost second nature. During last year's monsoon season, the battalion's three firing batteries moved over 40 times throughout Pleiku and Kontum Provinces in the Central Highlands.
Youngest member of the 52d Artillery Group, the battalion, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Alfred J. Cade of Salina, Kansas, proudly illustrates the artilleryman's adage: "Shoot, Move and Communicate." One of few towed 155 millimeter howitzer battalions deployed in Vietnam, the 1st or the 92d is capable of setting up a fire base in jungles inaccessible to the heavier self-propelled guns. Each firing battery can be airlifted by the gigantic Skycrane helicopter, thus bringing the war into the enemy's own territory denying him the respite of sanctuary.
During the first battle in the vicinity of Dak To, last August, "A" Battery, 1st of the 92d fired as many as 800 rounds a day in support of the 173d Airborne Brigade during the bitter fighting for the hilltops near the junction of the Laotian, Cambodian, and South Vietnamese borders. Eight members of the battery later received awards for valor and "A" Battery earned the respect of the Skytroopers for their performance in the hills of Dak To.
In addition to the three standard firing batteries, the 1st of the 92d has organized a fourth, responsible for direct artillery fire support within the defense net of Pleiku City, and all military installations in the immediate area. Equipped with 105 millimeter towed howitzers, "D' Battery, located at Artillery Hill, is prepared to retaliate in case of attack.
Since its arrival from Fort Bragg, N.C. on March 11, 1967, the battalion has been supporting units of the 4th infantry Division, 173d Airborne Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Special Forces detachments and the Republic of Vietnam.
Due to the diversified locations their fire bases, the firing batteries operate on an individual basis, monitored by the Tactical Operation Center (TOC). The battalion Fire Direction Center (FDC), besides plotting the data for "D" Battery, trains newly arrived plotters for future assignment to the firing batteries.
Major Henry K. Faust of Philadelphia, Pa .,battalion S-3, with four years of continuous service with the unit, remarks, "Soon after our arrival in-country we established a reputation of being extremely accurate in the delivery of artillery fires."
With friend and foe sometimes only yards apart, there is no doubt that the accuracy of the "Brave Cannons" as the 1st Battalion, 92d Artillery is nicknamed, not only destroys the enemy in the jungle, but also saves lives, both American and Vietnamese.