Quarterhorse in Vietnam

1st Infantry Division - Lessons Learned (1 May to 31 Jul 1966)Part Four

II. Commanders Observations and Recommendations

1. Observations (Lessons Learned):



Item: Replacement Pool.

Discussion: Providing a steady flow of personnel to units without holding a reserve at the replacement detachment has proved to be a problem when units are in contact and sustain large numbers of serious casualties.

Observation: By pooling personnel at the replacement detachment, a ready reserve is on hand, giving the necessary flexibility to react and provide mass replacements for units when needed.


Item: Replacement of casualties.

Discussion: Providing a steady flow of personnel to units without holding a reserve at the replacement detachment has proved to be a problem when units are in contact and sustain large numbers of serious casualties.

Observation: By pooling personnel at the replacement detachment, reserve is on hand, giving the necessary flexibility to react and mass replacements for units when needed.



Item: Replacement of casualties.

Discussion: Replacements have been requested for casualties that were hospitalized for short periods of time. (2 to 4 days).

Observation: Casualties should be carefully screened to preclude requesting of replacements for personnel who will be returned to duty within 2 or 3 days.



Item: Resolution of pay problems.

Discussion: Many man-hours are lost and the individual soldiers are inconvenienced if they are referred to the Division Finance Officer to resolve pay complaints.

Observation: A form has been developed to permit the soldier to communicate his pay problem and receive an immediate answer without personally visiting the finance office. In addition Finance Courier Teams conduct clinics and provide better service at unit level.



Item: Artillery and air operations can be conducted simultaneously in the same area.

Discussion: Detailed pre-planning to include the establishment of safe air corridors will allow for the continuation of artillery preparations during airmobile operations without risk to friendly aircraft and personnel. An effective means of simultaneous employment of artillery/airstrikes incorporates the use of fire coordination lines with artillery employed on one side and air on the other.

Observation: All tactical plas, to include employment of reaction forces, must provide for uninterrupted simultaneous employment of artillery and airstrikes. Cease fire ofartillery should not be imposed during airmobile operations nor airstrikes except in extreme emergencies.


Airmobile Operations:

Item: Aircraft scheduling for airmobile operations.

Discussion: The number of aircraft originally allocated for a given airmobile operation habitually decreases as the operation progresses because of maintenance problems and/or combat losses.

Observation: A Realistic and comprehensive schedule of aircraft allocations for airmobile operations should be established utilizing an experience factor for aircraft attrition.


Artillery Observers:

Item: Use of aerial observers during heavy contact.

Discussion: Engagements with Viet Cong forces assembled in ambush positions along roads provide exceptionally good targets for artillery. Aerial observers contribute to the success of these engagements in the following ways:

1. Provide aerial observation posts with a rapid reaction time in reporting ground activity not detectable by personnel on the ground.

2. Provide accurate and timely observed artillery support to the maneuver elements.

3. Pin-point concentrations of enemy troops during the confusion of battle.

4. Observe and report routes of escape when the enemy breaks contact.

5. Provide battle field surveillance during mopping-up action.

Observation: Provision of aerial observers and aircraft for sustained operations must be included in all tactical plans for maneuver of forces or convoy activities.


Noise Discipline:

Item: Reduction of inner-perimeter noise during enemy activity.

Discussion: Generators and vehicular noises are distracting to personnel manning perimeters and interfere with their ability to detect enemy movement.

Observation: Vehicle batteries may be used as a power source for short periods of time. Generators should have a back-up battery power source for use in emergencies.


Map Reading:

Item: Map inspected coordinates.

Discussion: Units occupying unfamiliar terrain, terrain that is devoid of prominent terrain features, or heavily forested areas have difficulty inspecting their positions from maps. Misjudgment of the actual location through erroneous map inspection may result in injury to personnel by friendly artillery.

Observation: Map inspected coordinates should be verified by an airborne observer whenever possible.


Map Reading:

Item: Points of origin.

Discussion: Points of origin provide a fast means of locating friendly forces without compromising their positions. They also provide an accurate and simple encoding system for passing target information.

Observation: There are several things that should be considered when a point of origin system is established:

1. The system should be published at the highest level necessary to insure all interested agencies will have access. It should be published for use both during field operations and at base camps, and changed periodically to cover compromise.

2. Points should originate at random 1000 meter grid intersections to facilitate artillery targeting.

3. The system should incorporate the use of broad categories (cars/colors) for quick reference (Ford, Chevy/red, blue).


Employment of Artillery:

Item: Standard 105mm battery package of airlift.

Discussion: A standard package for CH-47 airlift of a 105mm howitzer battery can be established as follows:

Firing Btry Hq Btry Personnel 90 80 Howitzers 6 - 105mm Ammo 600 - � T Trk 1 1 � T Tlr 1 1 � T Trk 2 4 Total Lift (CH-47) 12 7

Item: Tactical tailoring of artillery batteries.

Discussion: Tactical planning frequently requires tailoring of artillery when batteries are attached to other headquarters. Although this serves the purpose of providing the artillery support necessary to accomplish the particular mission, it also creates a greater need for early planning and liaison between units.

Observation: In the interest of unity of effort and timely response to orders, the tactical tailoring of units based on habitual associations is desirable when practicable. When it is not feasible, adequate time for planning and liaison between unfamiliar units is necessary.


H110 Howitzer:

Item: Repeated firing of the H110 8 inch self-propelled howitzer after the weapon has settled deeply into the soft ground may result in damage to the weapon.

Discussion: Although the H110 has proven its capability to operate over soft terrain, damage to weapons has resulted from their settling into the mud while firing. As long as the hull bottom remains clear of the ground, the lockout suspension system provides proper support. However, continuous firing in soft terrain causes the tracks and spade to sink in the mud until the weight of the weapon is resting on the hull rather than the suspension system with the eventual result of structural damage to the piece. This is probably the major cause of ruptured fuel tanks, since the tanks are an integral part of the hull. It is also probable that damage to hydraulic lines, structural members, and drive shafts may be attributed to �bottoming�.

Observation: Firing battery personnel must be continually alert for evidence of �bottoming� when firing in soft ground. When this condition is detected, the howitzer should be moved and relaid immediately.


Helicopter Damage:

Item: Helicopter damage caused by radio antennas.

Discussion: Due to extensive use of helicopters in transporting troops and supplies, a continuing hazard exists for unknowledgeable individuals that approach a helicopter while the blade is turning. Individuals have been known to drive vehicles with radio antennas to close to the blades, resulting in severed antennas, damaged rotor blades, and flying debris dangerous to bystanders and helicopters. Back Pack radios with long antennas constitute an equal hazard.

Observation: Personnel involved in operations around aircraft must be indoctrinated on the possible hazards of rotating blades. Control of vehicular movement around airfields and landing zones must be rigidly enforced.


Aerial Artillery Observation:

Item: Aircraft proximity to exploding projectiles.

Discussion: Due to restricted visibility during rain showers, aerial observers will have to fly closer to the target to observe the bursts. Consideration must be given in these cases to erratic fuze action and possibility of shrapnel traveling greater distances than the normal bursting radius of the projectile.

Observation: Aerial observers must be aware of the possibility of being too close to the point of impact and advise pilots of the hazards involved.


VC Tactics:

Item: VC fire discipline.

Discussion: During instances where convoys have been ambushed, the convoy has been preceded by an observer in a 01 aircraft. The ambush areas were crisscrossed at approximately 50 foot altitude. The VC did not fire at the aircraft, but held fire until the vehicles were in the ambush area.

Observation: Personnel must be made aware of the fact that VC are well trained in fire/camouflage discipline and that negative sightings do not necessarily indicate there are no VC present and continuous alertness must be maintained at all times.


H&I Fires:

Item: CVT and time fuse H&I fires.

Discussion: A great number of mines and booby traps are emplaced on roads at night. Curfew regulations prohibit civilian travel at night.

Observation: CVT and time fuze H&I fires over likely areas the VC may emplace mines and booby traps on highways and roads will discourage this practice.


Saturation Patrolling:

Item: Saturation patrolling is effective.

Discussion: Saturation patrolling can contribute as an effective measure to severaly hinder VC activities in populated areas. VC main forces are forced to withdraw because of the difficulty in pin pointing the friendly security achieved from the everpresent network of patrols about the area. Integration of ARVN forces in the saturation patrol plan instills in the people a loyalty to the GVN and activates increased participation of the people in the Revolutionary Development Program.

Observation: Saturation patrolling should be a prime consideration in establishing security in populated areas designated for Revolutionary Development Programs.


Combined ARVN � US - Pacification Operations:

Item: Combined ARVN � US pacification operations are necessary and workable.

Discussion: To win the cooperation of the people in outlying areas, security against VC terrorism is essential. The people must see stability and the capability of the GVN to maintain peaceful and improving conditions. When a mutual understanding of the goals and the characteristics of ARVN and US personnel exists, combined pacification operations will work. Patience and willingness to cooperate are necessary components that both sides must possess. Pacification operations conducted as a combined ARVN � US effort have been productive and these factors are the basic reasons for the definite continued success.

Observation: Combined ARVN � US pacification operations should be employed against the VC operating in the populated outlying areas. Understanding of the goals and a mutual willingness for cooperation and patience must be present.


Revolutionary Development:

Item: Dissemination of propaganda material in areas undergoing pacification.

Discussion: House-to-house dissemination of propaganda literature has been the most effective method to insure maximum coverage. Airborne dissemination requires saturation coverage to be effective, a practice that is wasteful and tends to anger some villagers. House-to-house dissemination eliminates waste and guarantees adequate population coverage, especially when the activity is supported by a loudspeaker.

Observation: Avoid aerial dissemination of propaganda literature in semi-secure areas whenever possible. When security conditions permit, an attempt should be made to distribute literature by house-to-house canvass, supported by loudspeakers. This method allows the villagers to become accustomed to US presence.


Revolutionary Development:

Item: Introduction of Revolutionary Development Cadre at hamlet festivals.

Discussion: The Revolutionary Development Cadre members can be used during hamlet festival activities as guides in establishing and maintaining crowd control. This has proved to be a very effective technique since the cadre are trained to work with people and do an excellent job in providing crowd control and general assistance. This is one of the best methods to introduce the cadre into the pacification program. Introduction in this manner establishes rapport and enlightens the people to the fact of their existence.

Observation: Crowd control at hamlet festivals is essential and Revolutionary Development Cadre are best utilized for this purpose. This will not only take advantage of their training, but is an excellent introduction of the teams into the program.


Army Aviation:

Item: Flight following.

Discussion: Due to the number of aircraft involved in combat operations and administrative flights, a system of flight following is required. This procedure is necessary for the safety of aircraft traveling in congested areas, and through areas in which artillery is firing, rapid search and rescue of downed aircraft, and redirection or recall of aircraft from one mission to another of higher priority with a minimum of delay.

Observation: Aviation battalions operations centers should improve flight following techniques and procedures for organic aircraft operating within the TAOR. The battalion should be augmented with air traffic control personnel for control of non-organic aircraft operating within the TAOT.


Military Police Operations:

Item: VC collecting points.

Discussion: On many occasions the division TAC CP will be collocated with a brigade CP, or units will be operating under division control. It is not feasible for each unit to establish separate VC Collecting points.

Observation: VC collecting points should be collocated when two or more headquarters are operating in close proximity to each other. This will not only economize on security forces, but wll facilitate processing and interrogation and dissemination of intelligence.

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