Quarterhorse in Vietnam

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


I. Sigificant Organization and Unit Activities

	1.	Introductions
	2.	Organization
	3.	Intelligence
	4.	Combat Operations
	5.	Training
	6.	Phychological Operations and Civil Affairs
	7.	Aviation
	8.	Logistics
	9.	Administration
	10.	Chemical

II.Recommendation and Lessons Learned

1. Recommendations
2. Lessons Learned

III. Inclosures (Omitted)

1st Infantry Division
Operational Report Lessons Learned

1 May - 31 July 1966


15 Aug 1966

Significant Organization and Unit Activities

1. Introduction:

During the period covered by the previous Operational Report-Lessons Learned (1 Jan - 30 Apr 66), the 1st Infantry Division began to conduct major operations outside the assigned tactical areas of responsibility (TAOR) to extend US and GVN influence into previously uncontested areas. The period covered by this report was marked by even deeper penetrations into areas considered as VC dominated territory. Operations were characterized by rapid reaction to intelligence information and employment of the bulk of division forces over vast areas of the III Corps Tactical zone. There has been a significant increase in the integration of ARVN combat forces into 1st Infantry Division operations. The division initiated its first major pacification operation and results to date have been very encouraging. Operation were also conducted wthin base camp TAORs to locate and destroy remaining VC forces and installations. Three main Force Viet Cong regiments were engaged in five major battles and in each the enemy forces were decisively defeated. The elite 272d VC Regiment was engaged in battle on two separate occasions, one of which occurred on the 49th Anniversary of the formation of the Big Red One, 3 July 1917.

Sergeant Major William Wooldridge departed the 1st Infantry Division on 9 July to assume his duties as the newly created Sergeant Major of the Army.

The numerous and varied projects initiated under the Civic Action program have continued to have a high priority. During this period, the scope of the program was enlarged to encompass assistance to ARVN forces through construction, training, and medical care for dependents.


The 1st Infantry Division continued to occupy five major base camps at DI AN, PHU LOI, LAI KHE, PHUOC VINH and BEAR CAT. In a ceremony on 4 July 1966, the 2d Brigade base camp at BEAR CAT was officially renamed Camp Cox in honor of Sergeant Martin Cox, Company B, 1st Engineer Battalion. Sergeant Cox was killed in action during Operation ABILENE

The 35th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog) arrived in-country 16 June and was attached to the 1st Infantry Division by US Army Vietnam General Order 4079 (Incl 4). The entire platoon was further attached to the 2nd Brigade for centralized control until training that was incomplete upon deployment from CONUS and refresher training could be completed.

In accordance with guidance from the Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, a provisional light assault artillery battery (4.2 inch mortar) was formed in July (Incl 5). Assets of three infantry battalion heavy mortar platoons were transferred to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery. One battalion from each brigade base camp provided the assets, thereby retaining the integrity of the transferred platoons and facilitating the formation of the battery. This plan also enabled each base camp commander to adjust the remaining heavy mortar platoons defending the camp with little or no difficulty. Mortar platoons of the 1st battalion, 2nd Infantry (PHUOC VINH), 2d Battalion, 2d Infantry (LAI KHE), and 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry (CAMP COX) were transferred and provided the nucleus to train and organize the battery. The battery, commanded by a major, is assigned to the 8th Battalion, 6th Artillery (155mm/8�) and has a total strength of 144 personnel. The light assault rapidly deployed by UH-1D helicopters when medium helicopters are not available to move a 105mm battery.

In February 1966 modification tables of organization and equipment were submitted for units of the division. Changes from the current organization are necessitated by the counterinsurgency environment; location of division units at five base camps, separated, in some cases by insecure LOC�s; and TOE deficiencies which degrade units� ability to perform their missions. Since submission of the original MTOE�s additional modifications have been required by the development of new tactics and issue of new equipment. These additional changes include the establishment of a long range reconnaissance patrol platoon organic to the air cavalry troop; re-authorization of the armored vehicle launched bridge platoon whose deletion was directed prior to deployment from CONUS; and modification of the general support artillery battalion, engineer battalion, and maintenance battalion required by the impending issue of self-propelled 155mm howitzers and additional engineer equipment. Submission of revised MTOE�s to incorporate the above changes ill be completed in early August 1966.

Requested modifications have been kept to a minimum consistent with the division�s mission. Those requested are necessary to meet the operation and maintenance requirements of new equipment and to effectively operate in the Vietnam environment. Pending approval of division MTOE�s the requested modifications have been accomplished in part through the reassignment of excess personal to requested personnel spaces and temporary authorization of excess equipment, when available. Although this provides a temporary and partial solution to accomplishment of the required changes, it does not provide the complete and permanent modifications required.

Preparation of division MTOE�s did not include consideration of reorganization of infantry battalions. The six company organization recommended as a result of the ARCOV study will significantly enhance the fighting capabilities of the division.

The mechanized flame throwers have been transferred to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry. Very good results of combat support have been received during contact with the Viet Cong .


A. Enemy Order of Battle: Enemy units, reinforcements, location and units in contact with 1st Infantry Division.
(1) Enemy units in III Corps Tactical Zone include two disision headquarters, eleven infantry regiments, one artillery regiment and 46 battalions, 36 of which are subordinate to regiments. Five others are heavy weapons battalions subordinate to the Artillery Regiment. There are also 40 separate companies and 28 separate platoons. Minimum troop strength is 36,300 of which 26,850 are combat troopers and 9,450 are support troops. Addistionally, there are 17,650 militia.

(2) Immediate reinforcements from II CTZ include two main force battalions and one heavy weapons battalion. Reinforcements available in IV OTZ include one main force regiment (DONG THAP I) and four local force battalions.

(3) The accepted location of the confirmed enemy units are:

5th VC Div Northeast Phouc Tuy 274th Regt West Central PHUOC TUY (HAT DICH) 275the Regt Northeastern PHUOC TUY 9th VC Div Northeastern War Zone �C� 271 Regt War Zone �C� 272 Regt Western BINH DUONG (LONG NGUYEN) 273 Regt Southern BINH DUONG (LONG NGUYEN) 101 NVA Regt Western BINH LONG 141 NVA Regt Northern War Zone �D� 250 NVA Regt Southern War Zone �D� 70 Regt Northern TAY NINH 165A Regt Northeastern BINH DUONG (HO BO) DONG THAP II Regt Western HAU NGHIA USO Artillery Regt Northern TAY NINH Z35 Arty Bn Northeastern TAY NINH Z37 Arty Bn TAY NINH Z39 Arty Bn PHUOC TUY Z41 Arty Bn BINH DUONG Z43 Arty Bn TAY NINH PHU LOI Bn Southeastern BINH DUONG C320 Bn Southern TAY NINH 506 Bn Southern HAU NGHIA 860 Bn Southern PHUOC TUY 2d Independent Bn Central LONG AN

(4) During the reporting period, 1st Infantry Division made contact with the 271, 272, and 273 Regiments of the 9th VC Division; elements of the 165A Regiment, the 70th Regimen, the U80 Artillery Regiment and the PHU LOI and C230 Battalion.

B. The VC Main Force regiments reversed their actions of the previous quarter in which they avoided large scale contact with US Forces in BINH LONG Province as part of their �Monsoon Offensive�. Each engagement resulted in a sound defeat for the VC forces and inflicted heavy losses of personnel and equipment on is units. Notwithstanding these defeats there are no indications that the VC are any less determined to seek a victory or that they will cease to attack at a time and place of their choice.

C. VC Losses for the quarter include:

1062 KIA (body count) 1302 KIA (probable) 93 VOC

(1) Attack ARVN posts and US positions in BINH LONG Province with up to four regiments. Priority areas of attack:

(a) LOC NINH (b) AN LOC (include CAM LE Bridge XT 7297) (c) MINH THANH (d) QUAN LOI (e) CHON THANH (2) Attack ARVON posts in PHUOC LONG Province with up to tree regiments. Priority areas of attack: (a) TAU O (XT 7673) (b) SROC DONG (XU 6303) (c) BAU LONG (XT) 7955) (3) Increase terrorist activity in vicinity 1st Infantry Division base camps ad conduct mortar and recoilless rifle attacks on ARVN - US garrisons.

4. Combat Operations

A. General. The 1st Infantry Division conducted military operations over a large portion of III Corps Tactical Zone to find and destroy Viet Cong forces and installations. Operations varied in size from squad ambushes to multi-battalion search and destroy missions and were characterized by a rapid response to intelligence.
B. May. During the Month of May, the 1st Infantry Division continued extensive operations to find and destroy VC forces, installations and supplies. Operation BIRMINGHAM, (Incl 20), initiated on 24 April 1966, continued in close coordination and cooperation with III ARVN Corps Forces and represented the deepest penetration of friendly forces into War Zone C since 1961. This operation deprived the Viet Cong of numerous logistical installations and base camps and unprecedented quantities of supplies. Operation EL PESO I, (Incl 19, was conducted in response to a request from 5th ARVN Division based on intelligence indicating the possible presence of up to four VC Regimnts in the LOC NINH (XU 7310) area. Operation LAM SON II, was initiated jointly by the 1st Infantry Division and 5th ARVN Division in the vicinity of PHU LOI (XT 7310) with the mission to clear, hold, and pacify the area. In the RUNG SAT Special Zone, CVN and free world Ground Forces influence was extended over the villages and mangrove swamps as a result of the joint participation of 1st Infantry Division, ARVN, and naval authorities in Operation LEXINGTON III. A total of ten separate military operations (Battalion size or larger) were conducted against Viet Cong by the Division.

(1) Operation BIRMINGHAM, a division operation of two reinforced brigades, continued through 17 May. During the course of the operation, all division units participated with the exception of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry which was deployed on Operation LAM SON II. ARVN participation in Operation BIRMINGHAM included three Ranger battalions and one infantry battalion of the 25th Division and three battalions from the ARVN Airborne Division. CIDG forces from TAY NINH Province participated under control of US Special Forces advisors and were supported by Artillery and cavalry element of the division.

Some of the largest supply caches of the Vietnamese4 conflict were found and destroyed. As the operational area was shifted westward to the CAJ BAC River, the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, large amount of material confirmed reports of many installations along the Cambodian Border. Location of installations in this area were attributed to the relative freedom available to transport supplies within Cambodia, the use of the CAI BAC River and it tributaries as transport routes, and the fact that B-52 strikes have been at first at least 700 meters from the river. Installations uncovered confirmed that the area is used for recreation, training, and supply. COSVN logistics bases near the Cambodian Border were hard hit as indicated by the losses enumerated in paragraph 9b, Inclosure 20.

From 2 - 7 May, the operation shifted from the Cambodian Border to the plantation area southeast of TAY NINH City (XY 3250). During this phase the brigades conducted search and estroy operations to the south and east of the plantation, but made no significant contacts with the VC. On 8 May, Task Forc HOLLINGSWORTH, consisting of Headquarters 3rd Brigade, four US infantry battalions, and one ARVN infantry battalion commenced a massive airmobile raid against the suspected location of COSVN Headquarters. However, because of low ceilings and poor visibility the helilift of artillery and artillery ammunition for subsequent LZ preparation was delayed. With weather deteriorating to the extent that both surprise and speed were lost and the lack of assurance that the operation could be supported by air, the operation was cancelled.

The final phase of Operation BIRMINGHAM began on 9 May with emphasis shifting to the MICHELIN Plantation - LONG NGUYEN area, the traditional home of the 272d VC Regiment and the PHU LOI Battalion. Previous intelligence reports had indicated the 271st and 273d VC Regiments had left War Zone D enroute to War Zone C for rest and training and could possible be in the MICHELIN Plantation. - LONG NGUYEN area. Brigade search and destroy operations around the Plantation, across the Long NGUYEN area to Route 13, and along the SAIGON River to the southeast resulted in no significant enemy contact. However, additional VC supplies were found and destroyed adding to the tremendous losses previously inflicted on the enemy. A significant discovery was made on 13 - 14 May when a regimental size base camp was found and destroyed. The operation terminated on 17 May.

The most significant aspect of Operation BIRMINGHAM was the destruction of vast quantities of VC supplies and facilities including 2, 103 tons of rice, 130 small arms, 323 tons of salt, 1,240 gallons of cooking oil, 1,382 gallons of motor oil, 13, 949 shirts, 8,608 pairs of pants, and 163 boats and sampans. The impact of this operation will have a long term effect on the VC ability to shelter, feed and equip large numbers of personnel and had immediate effects on his �Monsoon Campaign�. Notwithstanding the material losses, the loss of prestige and control in an area formerly considered a safe haven is expected to result in a demoralizing blow to VC stability and influence in TAY NINH Province. It was unfortunate that the weather precluded the penetration of the COSVN Headquarters by Task Force HOLLINGSWORTH. Completion of this raid would have further lessened VC prestige and security within this area.

(2) Operation LEXINGTON III originally scheduled to commence on 4 May was postponed until 21 May when the 1st Battalion 18th Infantry was alerted for Operation Birmingham. Phase III of Operation LEXINGTON (Incl 18) commenced at 0900 on 21 May . This airmobile and amphibious operation was conducted jointly with US Naval elements and ARVN III Corps Forces., The success of this operation was due to the manner in which the battalion conducted its ambush operations. The US Forces simply worked longer and harder than the VC in the type of swamp fighting peculiar to the RUNG SAT. Men of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry moved with considerable skill through the swamps and enjoyed increasing success in ambushing the VC who utilized sampans for transportation.

(3) In early May, a VC Lieutenant was killed about five kilometers southeast of LOC NINH District Town. He had in his possession a plan for the attack on LOC NINH and the Special Forces camp. This event marked the beginning of the Campaign along National Route 13 (Incl 17). In response to this intelligence and at the request of ARVN forces, the 3d Brigade Task Force comprised of three infantry battalions and one artillery battalion commenced Operation EL PESO 1 (Incl 19) on 19 May. No major forces were conrtacted, but the rapid deployment of the brigade discouraged a highly probable VC attack in the area.

(4) Operation LAM SON II was initiated by headquarters, 1st Infantry Division Artillery and 5th ARVN Division on 23 May 1966. Planning and execution of this operation, revealed the closest of association and team work between US and ARVN Forces. The PHU LOI Pacification Task Force is made up of a combined US - ARVN Staff. The successes of the operation are the result of the extremely close cooperation and coordination between the ARVN, Sector, and US Forces. This specialized operation conducted is the PHU LOI (XT 8115) area has as it aim the clearing and securing of the operational area to be followed by progressive pacification activities in selected areas. Techniques used in attaining this goal include saturation patrolling, village cordon and search, and the utilization of civil affairs and psychological warfare teams, interrogators, interpreters, engineers and medical personnel. The phasing of this operation commenced with intensive saturation patrolling followed by the cordon and search of the hamlets. Inhabitants at this time are screened by intelligence and police personnel, are exposed to the CHEU HOI (Open Arms) program and are processed through MEDCAP and other personal service teams. Emphasis is then placed on having the hamlet develop its own defenses against the Viet Cong. As this is achieved, civic developmental projects such as school and road construction are introduced, thereby improving living conditions and winning hamlet support for the Government of Vietnam. The PHU LOI Pacification Task Force consisting of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, on battery of the 2d Battalion, 13th Artillery, elements of the 1st Engineer Battalion, elements of the 5th ARVN Division, BINH DUONG Province and District Official, National Police, and ARVN, reconnaissance and Psychological warfare elements, conducted its first hamlet operation with the surrounding of BINHPHU/BINHPHUOC complex (XP 8861440) at 260300 May 1966. Extremely encouraging results were obtained from the first try. Initial screening yielded on VC, two VC political cadre, seven personnel turned over to CVN custody further interrogation. The first captive offered to show where mines and booby traps were located. During the �County Fair� (Hamlet Festival) portion of the operation, MEDCAP teams treated 750 patients and intelligence personnel screened 521 adults. Three thousand lunches were served and entertainment was provided by two Vietnamese cultural teams and the 1st Infantry Division Band. Upon attainment of desired military and political goals, similar operations will be shifted to adjacent areas in the LAM SON TAOR. After action report for the firs hamlet search and festival is attached, Inclosure 12.

(5) During May, 83,286 rounds (2,744 tons) of artillery were fired during a total of 19,318 missions in support of operations. Close air support sorties for the 1st Infantry Division totaled 967. Air delivered ordnance consisted of 461.3 tons of high explosive, 224.4 tons of napalm, 60.9 tons of fragmentation bombs, 19.5 tons of white phosphores, 425 rockets, and 133 canisters of CBS.

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