The Fifth Infantry Division




Lam Son 719 CAAR


Lam Son 719


Combat After Action Report


[Original documents were classified "SECRET" and then reclassified "CONFIDENTIAL. Official CAAR document below transcribed by Keith Short.]

HQ, 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech)
Camp Red Devil
APO San Francisco 96477

AVBL-C 19 April 1971

SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report, Lam Son 719.
29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971 (U).

THRU: Commanding General, XXIV Corps, ATTN: AVII-GCT

TO: Commander, United State Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
APO U.S. Forces 96222

1. (S) Name and type of operation:

a. Name: Lam Son 719
b. Type: Combined reconnaissance in force, search and clear, security, saturation ambush/patrolling by infantry, armor, and air cavalry and covering force operations.

2. (U) Dates of Operations: 29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971.
3. (S) Location: Cam Lo and Huong Hoa Districts, Quang Tri Province, RVN.
4. (U) Command Headquarters: HQ, 1st Inf Bde, 5th Inf Div (Mech).
5. (S) Reporting Officer: BG John G. Hill Jr.

Unit Commanders:

Commanding General, 1st Inf Bde, 5th Inf Div (Mech):
BG John G. Hill Jr. 30 June 1970 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, 1st Bn, 11th Inf:
LTC Raymond E. Farrar 03 January 1971 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, 1st Bn, 77th Arm:
LTC Richard M. Meyer 05 November 1970 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, 3rd Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry:
LTC Robert B. Osborn 16 December 1970 - 07 April 1971

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AVBL-C 19 April 1971
SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report, Lam Son 719.
29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971 (U).

Commanding Officer, 5th Bn, 4th Artillery:
LTC Raymond O. Bergerson 10 August 1970 - 05 February 1971
LTC John J. Ridgway Jr. 05 February 1971 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, 75th Support Battalion:
LTC George K. Todd Jr. 21 October 1970 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, P Co., 75th Inf (Ranger):
CPT Fred B. Johnson 24 August 1970 - 05 April 1971
CPT Charles C. Funderburk 05 February 1971 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, A Co., 7th Engineer Battalion:
CPT George B. Shoener 09 August 1970 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, 298th Signal Company:
CPT Gene R. Farmelo 08 June 1970 - 07 April 1971
Commanding Officer, D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17 Air Cavalry:
MAJ Rodney P. Wolfe 14 November 1970 - 07 April 1971

6. (S) Task Organization: The Brigade initially operated with six task forces formed by cross attachments of Infantry, Mechanized Infantry, Tank and Armored Cavalry units. The composition of these forces varied on a mission type basis (Task Organization: Inclosure 1).

7. (S) Supporting Forces:

a. Army Aviation:
(1) During the operation, the Brigade received aviation support from various units under the operational control of the 101st Abn Div (AMBL). Statistical data for these units was reported directly to the 101st Abn Div (AM) by each individual aviation unit and is not included in this report.
(2) The Brigade aviation section supported the operation with

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AVBL-C 19 April 1971
SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report, Lam Son 719.
29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971 (U).

its eight organic helicopters and flew 1779 hours on the following missions:

Category Sorties
Combat Assaults 140
Command and Control 426
Visual Reconnaissance 634
Logistical 620
Medical Evacuation 139
Courier 360

(3) Three aircraft were combat losses during the operation.
(4) No extreme difficulties were encountered. The difference in flying weather between Quang Tri and Khe Sanh resulted in the requirement to RON two aircraft daily in the forward area to insure early morning availability of aircraft in the Khe Sanh area. As a result of the heavy flying commitment, several aviators exceeded the 140 hour maximum per 30 day period.

b. D Trp, 3-5 Cav:

Hours Flown 1716 1615 2054
Sorties 1492 2287 1398
Total Passengers Carried 143 5060  
Structures Damaged 22   18

A total of sixteen aircraft were destroyed during the operation.

c. Artillery:

(1) The 5th Battalion, 4th Artillery (155mm SP), the organic artillery battalion of the Brigade, fired in the direct support of the Brigade. The 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery was OPCON to the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M).

(2) Missions and rounds fired by 5-4 Artillery:

MISSIONS  HE         WP     ILLUM   FC      TOTAL
5689             86,036   2982    4224         940      93,652

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AVBL-C 19 April 1971
SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report, Lam Son 719.
29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971 (U).

d. Engineer: A Company, 7th Engineer Battalion (organic to 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M)) had the general mission of providing combat engineer support to elements of the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M). The company was assigned the initial mission of opening a new road from Route QL-9 near FSB Elliot (Coord: XD984545) through the area referred to as the "Punch Bowl" and then south to Khe Sanh. The initial seven kilometer portion of the road had been considered impractical to build by previous brigade engineer officers because of the extremely steep, rugged terrain that the road would have to traverse. A nine kilometer section through the "Punch Bowl" area had numerous stream crossings and a section of dense forest. The total length of the new road was to be approximately 23.5 kilometers. The road was started by A Company, 7th Engineer Battalion on 30 January, 1971, with security being provided by the 3rd Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry Regiment. One engineer platoon plus the company CP element worked on the road. Engineer equipment used on the initial pioneer road included three D7E bulldozers. A rough pioneer road named "Red Devil Road" was pushed to the Khe Sanh on 8 February 1971, taking a total of ten days to complete. Red Devil Road was later upgraded during the operation to handle wheeled vehicles. The upgrading included changing the alignment of the original pioneer road, decreasing some of the steep grades and installing culverts at stream crossings. Little enemy action was encountered during construction of the initial pioneer road, however during the upgrading phase there were numerous small enemy contacts. During initial phases of the operation, elements of A Company, 7th Engineer Battalion assisted in constructing a brigade command post near Lang Vei and one near the Khe Sanh. Also four fire support bases were constructed. A total of 2800 square feet of command type bunkers were

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constructed by A Company, 7th Engineer Battalion during the operation. These bunkers included a 40' x 50' brigade TOC, a 20' x 32' medical bunker, and a 16' x 32' artillery FDC bunker. Numerous other bunkers and fighting positions were constructed during the operation with assistance from the engineers. On 16 February 1971, a request was received from the CG, XXIV Corps Artillery to determine the feasibility of constructing a road from Khe Sanh to the ARVN Ranger Group CP located near the Laotian border. It was determined that the road could be built although terrain was fairly rugged. The road was started by an engineer platoon on 20 February 1971, and a pioneer road was completed three days later. The road was then upgraded to handle wheeled vehicle traffic. Upgrading the road took approximately ten days. Total length of this road, referred to as "Red Devil Drive", was 17 kilometers. The road was used extensively during the operation by the ARVN Rangers and US artillery and armored cavalry units. On 27 February 1971, it was determined that tank trails from Red Devil Drive were required to be able to operate tracked vehicles in the valley below the ARVN Ranger Group CP. This was a suspected NVA base camp area where significant enemy activity had been noted from aerial observation. A 8.5 kilometer tank trail was constructed along a ridge in two days. Additional pioneer roads constructed during the operation include a tank trail network 13.5 kilometers in length, from Lang Vei to Red Devil Drive and to the Brigade CP at the Khe Sanh. A tank trail from Red Devil Drive to Ta Bat, six kilometers in length, and a tank trail south of Lang Vei, 2.5 kilometers in length, were also constructed. It should be noted that these trails were constructed in extremely rugged terrain. The last road constructed was a tank trail from Red Devil Road near the eastern tip of the "Punch

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Bowl" to the top of Dong Ca Lu mountain and the south toward FSB Cates. The initial portion of the road had a vertical rise of 200 meters in one kilometer through triple canopy jungle. During construction of this road, a D7E bulldozer was hit by two RPG rounds, heavily damaging the dozer and wounding two engineers. The dozer was recovered the next day by another bulldozer. A Company provided additional engineer support during the operation to include the operation of a 1500 gallon per hour water point at Khe Sanh, construction of field fortifications, and combat demolition and mine sweep operations. During the close-out of the Khe Sanh support base area, A Company assisted in the clean-up and recovery of engineer materials. Seven 12-ton trailers were loaded with salvaged engineer material. A Company, 7th Engineer Battalion accomplished the construction of roads in the terrain which at the best was considered difficult. All roads were constructed in areas where there had been no previous vehicular traffic (either friendly or enemy). The engineer effort, in addition to providing normal combat engineer support, opened the Khe Sanh area to mechanized and armor operations by providing nearly 80 additional kilometers of road in an area that before the operation had only a single road (QL-9) from the "Rock Pile" area to the Laotian border. (Inclosure 2)

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e. Signal:

(1) At the beginning of the operation, difficulties were experienced in maintaining FM communications to the battalions when the brigade CP was at Vandergrift (Ca Lu). An automatic retransmission station had been installed at Hill 950 (XD844456) in anticipation of this problem, but the equipment failed and weather prevented its replacement. FM Commo to the battalions was maintained by having one battalion manually relay for another. This solution imposed a significant burden on RTO's of the battalion TOC doing the relaying. RATT was not possible to all the battalions during the first two days as their sets had not been airlifted to them at this time.

(2) Communication from the Khe Sanh Airfield (XD845419) were excellent, although there was some interference on the RATT from the electric arc welders being used to repair the runway. In spite of the terrain obstacles, direct FM commo was maintained to all battalions and to Quang Tri from this location. (3) Lang Vei (XD802367) presented difficulties again for FM communications. Once again a system of manual relays was established as the retransmission station at Hill 950 was still weathered in. A 12 channel VHF system was established to Quang Tri using a relay at LZ Sarge (YD029479). Radio teletype from this location to the rear was not reliable with the 15 ft whip or doublet. Reliability was improved by elevating the whip about 30 feet, although many messages still had to be relayed through an intermediate station.

(4) Communications from the CP location at XD830415 overlooking the Khe Sanh airfield were excellent. A 12 Channel VHF system was installed to Quang Tri once again using a relay at LZ Sarge. A four channel system

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direct to the rear using the AN/GRC-163 was established as a test with excellent results. Other AN/GRC-163 systems were established to FSB Shepherd (XD935410 and to Lang Vei (XD802367). Difficulty was experienced with FM to the 1-11 CP when it moved to XD7536. An automatic retransmission station was installed at Lang Vei (XD802367 to provide coverage for 1-11 Inf. Reliable RATT with the 15 ft vehicle whip at 25NHZ [25 MHZ] was obtained to all battalions and brigade rear at Quang Tri.

(5) During the withdrawal/covering force phase, the CP location in the vicinity of Camp Carroll required an automatic retransmission station at LZ Sarge to maintain FM communications to those battalions operating west of the mountains. An airborne relay was available part of the time and it was used in preference to the station at LZ Sarge. RATT was good from this location but considerable problems were encountered in establishing a four channel AN/GRC-163 system to Quang Tri. After varying antenna types and heights, the system was finally established but continued to be plagued by interference problems.

(6) Throughout the operation, regardless of CP location, there were problems in establishing reliable secure FM communications within the brigade. The distance and terrain features prevented each station from receiving other stations. Many transmission were interrupted when two stations who could not hear each other attempted to use the net at the same time. The problem was not completely eliminated even when an automatic retransmission station was used to provide better coverage. The retrans introduced a new problem in that additional delay after hearing the beep tone was required if the transmission was to go through the retrans successfully.

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(7) The number of units operating in the Lam Son 719 AO created numerous frequency interference problems. In most cases these were quickly corrected through close cooperation of all parties. Near the end of the operation, the resolution of these problems became more difficult as the number of spare usable frequencies diminished. Multiple assignments of platoon and other low power frequency requirements eased this problem.

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8. (S) Intelligence:

a. Predicted enemy situation prior to the operation (See Overlay, Inclosure 3).

(1) In MR3 (the NVA region of Laos, the southern part of which is adjacent to the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) area of operation), the enemy was estimated to have a strength of 42,000 including an estimated 5,000 NVA in combat battalions, 32,000 troops assigned to the 559th Transportation Group, and 5,000 Pathet Lao. It appeared that the bulk of these forces were located in the central and western portions of this region.

(2) In the Brigade AO, one battalion of the 24 B Regiment and one battalion of the 264th Infantry Regiment were believed to have been operating. Additionally, the 27th NVA Regiment and the 84th Rocket Regiment had been operating in the Central DMZ area and were believed to be capable of moving South to influence the area of operations. The most dangerous threat posed by these two units was considered to be their capability to interdict Route QL-9 in the vicinity of the Rockpile. Also, the 812th Regiment had been operating in the area of the Laotian Salient and was considered capable of moving North and conducting operations against friendly forces.

(3) The 304th NVA Division was considered to be the unit the enemy would reinforce with initially. Elements of the 24 B Regiment were already in the area of operations and the other two regiments; the 9th and the 66th, had operated in this area before and were familiar with it.

b. Summary of enemy situation actually found, (See Overlay, Inclosure 3).

(1) Initial contact was made with elements of the 27th Infantry Regiment and the 84th Rocket Regiment in the Rockpile area. The 84th Rocket Regiment

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initially conducted attacks by fire on Ca Lu and Ham Nghi. The 27th Infantry Regiment attempted to seize and control the high ground north and west of the Rockpile and, along with elements of the 33d Sapper Battalion and the K-15 Engineer Battalion, conducted ambushes along QL-9 and sapper attacks against Ca Lu. The 27th Infantry Regiment was also contacted late in the operation along QL-9 in the vicinity of XD968433 as it attempted to cut QL-9 at this point. It also attempted to cut Red Devil Road immediate to the north. The 812th Regiment was contacted in the area south of the Co Roc in the vicinity of XD760353. The 308th Division was believed to have been operating Northwest of Ham Nghi in the vicinity of grid XD6648. Additionally, the artillery responsible for most of the attacks by fire was operating in this area. The artillery regiment was never definitely identified. The 304th Division and the 320th Division were identified as operating against the ARVN forces in Laos, but were never identified as operating in South Vietnam during the operation.

c. Terrain Analysis (See Overlay, Inclosure 4).

(1) Area A.

Terrain: Mountainous

Vegetation: Multi-canopied, dense undergrowth forest.

Obstacles and Critical Features: In the northern part of this area is the Cam Lo River and its tributaries and in the southern part is the Quang Tri River and its tributaries. The mountains in this area are Dong Long, Dong Sa Mui, Dong Ta Bang, Dong La Ruong, Dong Pat Lien, and Dong Chia.

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Avenues of Approach: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

Observation Points: See Overlay.

(2) Area B

Terrain: Rolling hills with some protruding mountains

Vegetation: Mostly low grass and shrubs, and small trees. There are scattered small clumps of single canopied forest.

Obstacles and Critical Features: In this area is the Song Rao Quan River and its tributaries. The mountains in this area are Dong Dang, Ding Chi Rien and Dong Tam Ve.

Avenues of Approach: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

Observation Points: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

(3) Area C.

Terrain: Rolling Hills

Vegetation: Mostly low grass, shrubs and small trees. There are scattered small clumps of single canopy forest with bamboo in the river valleys.

Obstacles and Critical Features: The Xe Pon River runs on the south- western boundary of this area and the rivers tributaries run throughout this area.

Avenues of Approach: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

Observation Points: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

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(4) Area D

Terrain: Mountains

Vegetation: Dense brushwood with scattered clumps of single canopied forest.

Obstacles and Critical Features: There are no main rivers running through this area, but there are a lot of intermittent streams in this area from the Quang Tri River of the Da Krong Valley, from the Co Ha Pot, Co Tan, and Dong Em.

Avenues of Approach: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

Observation Points: See Overlay (Inclosure 4)

(5) A key piece of terrain utilized throughout the operation was hill 950 (XD843456). Several key installations were set up on this hill. Among these installations were a radio research element, a sensor relay site, an artillery observation post, and a radio relay site.

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9. (S) Mission:

Phase I: 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) (Reinf) less TF 1-61 Inf attacks to clear and secure Route 9 to the Western Quang Tri Border, secures Ca Lu (YD0048) and Ham Nghi (XD8441), covers and protects the deployment of two US heavy artillery battalions to western Quang Tri, and supports a screen southwest toward the Laotian Salient (XD9825).

Phase II: Maintain security of Route 9, from vicinity Route ( Bridge (YD0256) to Ta Bat, Ham Nghi, Ca Lu and forward fire bases in the vicinity of Ta Bat. Expand flank security as required to secure AO, assist RVNAF Forces in passage of lines from attack to west and provide combat support to I Corps, within its capabilities.

Phase III: Continue Phase II tasks and conduct search operations to destroy or capture enemy forces and supplies within western Quang Tri Province.

Phase IV: Continue, within capability, combat support to I Corps. Assist eastward withdrawal of RVN and US forces and on order, withdraw to Quang Tri Combat Base.

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10. (S) Concept of Operation:

a. The Brigade attacked west to open and secure QL-9 from Ca Lu to Ta Bat; conducted a mobile defense, providing area security to QL-9 and critical installations; assisted the movement of RVNAF forces along QL-9 and conducted covering force operations for the redeployment of RVNAF and US forces from the area of operations. The operation was conducted in three phases.

b. Phase I: The Brigade attacked with Armored Cavalry-Engineer teams on two axis; the main attack west along QL-9, the secondary attack west from Khe Tri (XD9856) along Axis Brown (XD950525, XD920492, XD900498, XD813468). The main attack was expedited by airmobile Infantry assaults to secure Ham Nghi Airfield and critical terrain along QL-9.

c. Phase II: The Brigade conducted a mobile defense, providing area security to QL-9 and critical installations with armored cavalry on the flanks, airmobile infantry in the mountainous terrain, and air cavalry beyond the ground screen to prevent indirect fire attacks against these installations. The Brigade also assisted the movement of RVNAF forces along QL-9 and in to their forward staging areas.

d. Phase III: The Brigade conducted a mobile defense, assisted the passage of RVNAF forces from Laos into South Vietnam and conducted covering force operations for the redeployment of RVNAF and US forces from the area of operations.

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11. (S) Execution:

a. Planning for the brigade portion of the operation started O/A 14 January 1971, at Camp Red Devil. A small planning group of selected key staff officers accomplished the initial planning in a limited access area to prevent compromise of the plan. The XXIV Corps order was received on 23 January 1971, and the brigade operations order was published on 26 January 1971. The operation was conducted in three phases.

b. Phase I (29 January 1971 to 07 February 1971). On 29 January, TF 1-77 conducted an artillery raid vicinity Ca Lu, opening and securing QL-9 to Ca Lu and positioning an armored cavalry-engineer team vicinity Ca Lu for the attack on 30 January. TF 3-5 repositioned vicinity Camp Carroll in preparation for the attack along Axis Brown on 30 January. At 300001 Jan, A/3-5 Cav, a cavalry-engineer team, attacked west along QL-9. Simultaneously, TF 3-5 attacked west along Axis Brown constructing Red Devil Road (initially a pioneer road completed on 08 Feb 71). Three infantry battalions were combat assaulted, with the 4-3 Inf and 3-187 Inf securing the critical terrain along QL-9 to Ham Nghi and 1-11 Inf securing the Ham Nghi area. QL-9 was opened to Ham Nghi on 31 January. 1-1 Cav conducted a tactical road march on 01 February, to Ham Nghi, then attacked southwest along QL-9 to Ta Bat, opening QL-9 to Ta Bat on 02 February 1971. All units conducted search and clear, screening operations and improved road and trail networks throughout the remainder of Phase I.

c. Phase II (07 February 1971 to 16 March 1971). The Brigade conducted a mobile defense over approximately a 100 kilometer front. Armored cavalry units operated with TF 3-5 screening the northern flank and TF 1-1 screening the southern flank. Infantry elements were employed in the mountainous terrain, operating in team, squad and platoon sized

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elements for maximum saturation of the area of operations. The brigade also maintained mobile reserve forces. Maximum emphasis was maintained on using air cavalry, ranger and recon teams, sensors, and radar to detect the enemy. After detection, sufficient forces were committed to fix the enemy force. Upon fixing the enemy force, massive artillery and air power was employed to destroy the enemy followed by immediate ground operations to complete the destruction. Infantry and cavalry units continued the constructions of tank trails. TF 1-77 was released to the control of 3rd Bde, 101st Abn Div (AMBL) on 03 March 1971. Red Devil Road was open to wheeled vehicles on 18 March. Red Devil Drive was constructed from Ham Nghi west to the Laotian border.

d. Phase III (16 March 1971 to 08 April 1971). The Brigade continued the mobile defense in zone. TF 1-77 was returned to Brigade control and conducted a tactical road march to Ham Nghi, then attacked south along QL-9, relieving TF 1-1 in place. 1-1 Cav and 4-3 Inf were released to the control of the 11th Bde, 23rd Inf Div on 28 March. The brigade assisted the reentry of RVNAF forces from Laos into South Vietnam. In the final stages, the Brigade conducted a covering force operation, protecting the redeployment of RVNAF and US forces from the area of operations to eastern Quang Tri Province. TF 1-77 and TF 3-5 constituted the actual covering force, with TF 1-77 covering along QL-9, passing through the 11th Bde, 23rd Inf Div, then OPCON to 3rd Bde, 101st Abn Div (AMBL). TF 3-5 covered the redeployment along Axis Brown, screened the extraction of TF 3-187, and then redeployed to Quang Tri Combat Base through the 3rd Bde, 101st Abn Div (AMBL). All brigade units closed out of the area of operations on 08 April, when the TF 1-77 redeployed from Ca Lu to Quang Tri Combat Base.

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e. For AO boundaries, see Inclosure 5, 6 and 7.

f. A chronological listing of significant contacts in the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) area of operations during the reporting period is at Inclosure 8.

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12. (S) Results:

a. Friendly losses.
(1) Personnel:
KIA -   109
WIA - 650
MIA -    5
(2) Equipment losses are at Inclosure 9.

b. Enemy losses.
KIA - 537 [changed to 433 and initialed]
PW - 3
(2) Equipment losses are at Inclosure 10.

13. (S) Administrative Matters:

a. Initially, there was difficulty in accurate reporting data on casualties and unit strengths. The speed and secrecy of the operations precluded advanced coordination with the attached units as to uniform reporting procedures. This problem was solved by the establishment of a liaison team from the 23rd Infantry Division co-located with the Brigade 3-1 (Rear). During the operation, the Brigade had over 9000 troops under its operational control with over 6300 in the forward areas (see Inclosure 11). Morale of the men was high throughout the operation; R&R and leave continued to be in effect.


Replacements received (see Inclosure 12) 1371

R&R taken 668

Troop loses (see Inclosure 13) 749

14 day CONUS leaves 194

Emergency and compassionate leaves 136

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b. Supply

(1) Logistical planning for Operation LAM SON 719 began 16 January 1971, 13 days prior to D-Day. Since the brigade was not composed of like battalions, different planning factors for each class of supply were used for each battalion. The nature of the operation and the posture of the brigade dictated that a large number of cargo and recovery assets be cross attached. As the operation progressed and the mission permitted, vehicles and crews were returned to their parent units. Adequate and timely planning insured the success of the initial move, in that mission essential equipment and ample recovery capability were available when needed. The brigade S-4 initially located with the brigade command post at Lang Vei. When the command post was moved to Khe Sanh, the S-4 located with the Brigade Trains. This improved direct communications with and facilitated coordination between the Brigade S-4, Support Battalion Commander, battalion maintenance officers, and battalion S-4. The brigade movement control officer operated with the S-4 with the mission of coordinating serial and ground resupply. Additionally, movement control monitored convoy operations on QL-9 to insure the smooth flow of traffic and actually controlled for the first seven days.

(2) The brigade supply office initially established a forward support area at Ca Lu, and then at Ham Nghi for all classes of supply. It later supplied only Class II and IV. Initial stockage of these items was established by the Brigade S-4 and limited by the truck assets available for the move to Khe Sanh. Items which were requested, but not on hand were delivered from Quang Tri by convoy. The most significant problem encountered was the lack of cold weather gear for the units of the 23rd Inf Div. These units did not come equipped with ample cold weather gear. Both the 23d Inf

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Div and the 1st Bde reacted to the requirement and the problem was completely alleviated prior to the second week of the operation.

(3) The brigade ammunition office was located in the Brigade Trains Area. Liaison personnel were positioned at Ca Lu, Ham Nghi, and ASP 101. These personnel submitted daily reports of on hand balances at each ASP and coordinated with battalion ammunition personnel and ASP personnel to assure availability of required items. (4) During the operation the daily deadline report was intensively managed, as were all classes of supply. Contact was made daily with each unit to ascertain first hand information on both real and potential problem areas. Cross changing of parts and controlled cannibalization of combat loss vehicles allowed the brigade to maintain and adequate maintenance posture.

(5) Prior to the establishment of FSA II at Ham Nghi, units of the brigade were resupplied Class I, III and V by brigade convoys using organic transportation. Limited cargo capacity for Class III and V necessitated frequent convoys and often required resupply during the hours of darkness. With the establishment of the FSA at Ham Nghi, this problem diminished; however, Class II and IV were carried by brigade transportation during the entire exercise.

(6) The Class III points at Ham Nghi was operated by the 26th GS Group. Diesel and Mogas were available in 500 gallon collapsible drums on a direct exchange basis. Initially, this was an acceptable program, but problems developed when refilled drums did not arrive by convoy. Then it was necessary for the unit to obtain written permission from the OIC, Class III to fill

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their own blivets. This was time consuming and resulted in the issue point being tied up for extended periods.

(7) The initial stockage of Class V at Ham Nghi was not satisfactory. Emphasis was placed on supply of artillery ammunition, at the expense of other priority demands, including small arms ammunition. Another problem developed involving the initial stockage of Class V was the imbalance of components of separate loading artillery ammunition. Large shipments of projectiles were moved forward without propellant charges or all components would be available without primers. The 155mm towed pieces do not use the same primer that the 155mm SP's use. Within the brigade, the primary Class V problem involved resupply of 155mm ammunition. Fluctuations in daily expenditures and overall high expenditures placed a tremendous strain on supply systems. At times, the total truck assets of the brigade had to be mustered to carry 155mm ammunition. Resupply convoys which were late or failed to show enhanced the problem. When this occurred it was necessary for ammunition to be drawn from ARVN ASP at Ham Nghi. If this reserve had not been available, the problem would have been critical.

(8) Transportation requirements within the brigade were handled by the Movements Control Officer. His primary duty was coordination of assets to augment the unit capability to resupply. Whenever possible, resupply was accomplished overland with organic transportation. Many locations, however, precluded the possibility of land supply, in which case rotary wing aircraft were used. During the period 31 January through 3 March 1971, CH 47 aircraft flew 412 sorties for a total resupply of 995 tons. During the same period, UH1H aircraft flew 212 resupply missions.

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(9) The primary problems involved in aerial resupply were within the brigade. Often helicopters were unable to make radio contact with personnel on the ground or loads were not rigged ready for pickup. Units were repeatedly advised of the necessity of having operational communications on the ground and the importance of supplies being properly rigged for pickup. Although the units improved, the problem was never completely alleviated.

(10) The withdrawal of the brigade trains from Ham Nghi was phased. Sufficient advance notice was given to the battalion train elements to commence moving unneeded equipment and material to their rear areas. Units were also directed to retrograde vehicles which were deadlined and not expected to be operations within 24 to 48 hours. The last phase, prior to the actual move, was the retrograde of the unit mess halls. At that time, all units reverted to C-rations and their original field trains operated as combat trains, with only the essential amount of Class I, III and V on hand. The phased close out of the brigade trains area precluded a requirement for a large number of cross attached vehicles and facilitated an orderly withdrawal on the move-out date.

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c. Maintenance:

(1) Lack of repair parts was a problem at al echelons. The limited planning and response time prevented stockpiling of fast moving repair parts and the accumulation of major rebuilt assemblies to support this size operation. As a result, units deployed to the field with shortages of PLL/ASL and stocks were rapidly depleted both at organizational and support levels. Depot stocks also ran at approximately 60% zero balance on hand. The problem was magnified by the attachments of 1-1 Cav and 1-82 Arty. ASL in stock for support of the Brigade's cavalry squadron was rapidly exhausted with the attachment of another full cavalry squadron. The 75th Support Battalion had no ASL for towed 155 howitzers. Mechanics from Company C, 723rd Maintenance Detachment, attached to 1-1 Cav, were reinforced in order to provide direct support maintenance on the towed 155 howitzers.

(2) Lack of authorized qualified maintenance personnel contributed to the increase in overall non-operational time. Direct support field maintenance was restricted due to lack of support contact teams. Additional contact teams would have shortened the average time a piece of equipment remained inoperable.

(3) Due to increased requirements, recovery capability soon became critical. Brigade Maintenance consolidated recovery assets where feasible and coordinated their use when necessary.

(4) Initially a retrograde collection point had not been designated, and as a result it prolonged units getting combat loss vehicles turned in and retrograded. Eventually a collection point was established and the retrograde of vehicles was greatly improved.

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(5) At organizational level, with all efforts directed toward the operation in the field, the majority of the required TAMMS records and Prescribed Load Limit records were not properly maintained. The lack of trained TAMMS personnel was partially responsible.

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d. Civic Action:

(1) Lam Son 719 created a minor refugee problem for US Forces along the Laotian border. Five refugees came across the border to a US outpost on 12 February, and were transported back to Quang Tri Combat Base where S-2 personnel interrogated them. On 14 February 1971, the Brigade S-5 was notified that 18 refugees were located at the border at the same outpost. The Brigade S-5 was transported to the border with instructions in accordance with USARV and GVN policy, to send these people back across the border. Upon interrogation, it was found that those people were Bru who had originally resided in the Khe Sanh Valley and had moved into Laos. They had escaped from an NVA compound where the NVA were attempting to force them to bear arms; those who refused were beheaded. These people were evacuated to Citadel in Quang Tri and later to G-2 in Dong Ha (1st ARVN Division). A program has been established by the Province Chief, COL Khien, to handle these refugees; however, their fate is still undecided. No major refugee problem was encountered.

e. Psyop Operations:

(1) During the operation, Bde Psyops continued to direct all Psyops in support of Lam Son 719. With increased knowledge of enemy locations and conditions, rally appeals from Hoi Chanhs and ARVN victory themes were used.

(2) On 10 February 1971, Nguyen Mac, a VC from Huong Hoa District, rallied to the GVN. He stated that this was his first opportunity to rally. After Nguyen Mac accompanied units in Huong Hoa District on operations, he was taken to the Quang Tri Chieu Hoi Center where Brigade S-5 Psyops made a quick reaction leaflet. The leaflet, using a picture of Nguyen Mac and a letter written by him, was sent to CPOC, 7th Psyop Bn for production and dissemination.

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(3) On 17 February 1971, Nguyen Day Hung rallied to the Government of Vietnam near Khe Sanh. After showing units in the area several locations, Hung, a member of the K-15 Engineer Bn, was taken to the Chieu Hoi Center in Quang Tri. The Brigade S-5 Psyops made two quick reaction leaflets with Hung. One of the leaflets used a picture of Hung with a letter from him, the other used a picture of Hung and Nguyen Mac with a letter from Hung. The leaflets encourage other VC and NVA to rally to the Government of Vietnam.

(4) On 6 March 1971, Nguyen Van Huoi rallied to the GVN and had leaflet number 7-1010-71, originated by Bde Psyops in his possession. Huoi stated that the leaflet had encouraged him to rally because he had known Nguyen Mac years ago and was convinced that Hoi Chans were not killed but were well treated. Bde Psyops originated a CH leaflet and tapes of Huoi and his family and another with Nguyen Mac. The leaflets and tapes of Huoi and Mac were used in and around Huong Hoa District and directed at Huoi's unit, the C-9 Local Force Unit, and the units working with it. (5) During operation Lam Son 719, there were 24 persons who rallied to the Government of Vietnam. Of these 18 were laborers for NVA units, 2 NVA's and 2 VC's.

(6) Det #2, 7th Psyops Bn supporting the Brigade, conducted 36 ground broadcast missions for 92.5 hours broadcast, 8 aerial broadcast missions for 9.7 hours of broadcast and 1,811,000 leaflets disseminated, and 23 movie missions for 33.5 hours of movies.

(7) 9th POB in support of Bde Psyop disseminated 3,341,000 leaflets and broadcasts of five hours during Operation Lam Son 719.

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f. Medical:

(1) Disease Rates:

(a) No major problems or epidemics were reported during the reporting period.

(b) Onset of warm weather resulted in only small increase in the malaria rate, in spite of a majority of the troops in the field and in close proximity to the enemy troops. There was not a significant increase of gastrointestinal disease rates in spite of increased difficulty in maintaining sanitation.

(2) Field Sanitation:

(a) Problems were encountered in maintaining a continued supply of adequately chlorinated water. As many as three separate water points were operating at one time at Khe Sanh and it was found that there was inadequate supervision of the water points by the units operating them. Although the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) had no problem with their own waterpoint, many 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) units obtained water from waterpoints operated by other than their own and such water was found to be nonpotable at times.

(b) There were problems with adequate trash disposal which was improved somewhat as the operation continued, but which could have still been improved. For example, initially trash was dumped in too close proximity to troop living areas and was subsequently widely scattered by ARVN troops.

(c) It is suggested that on future operations, the Preventive Medicine Detachment be deployed to the field to coordinate with and serve all units.

(3) Field Medical Support: (a) Medical plans were adequate for the support of the operation.

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(b) Medical triage and emergency resuscitation was carried out by B Company, 75th support Battalion, the medical clearing company. They performed their mission in an outstanding fashion, handling a total of 1550 casualties. All casualties west of Khe Sanh were treated at B-Med. Because of the fog on the Khe Sanh Plateau, it was decided to place a forward element of B-Med at Lang Vei. When Dustoff could not fly into Khe Sanh, it could take patients to Lang Vei.

(c) The Battalion Surgeons accompanied their medic tracks into the field to insure proper routine medical care, rapid emergency treatment, and proper supply of medical items.

(4) Rear Medical Support:

(a) Routine medical care for troops remaining at Quang Tri Combat Base was provided by a small complement of B-Med plus HHC, 1st Bde, 5th Inf (M) Aid Station. These measures would have been sufficient for the Brigade troops; however, the large influx of additional troops from the south severely compromised the existing resources. Eventually a second medical clearing company from the 23rd Infantry Division did arrive, but this was not until about 30 days after the operation began.

(b) It is suggested that when such a large influx of troops is anticipated, a medical clearing company be brought with them capable of performing x-rays and routine lab tests, in order to give units better medical support, both for medical triage and routine medical care.

(5) Field Medical Evacuation:

(a) Field Medical Evacuation was performed both by DMZ Dustoff and Eagle Dustoff. Both units performed in an outstanding fashion.

(b) Through the assistance of the 67th Medical Group

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Commander and others excellent coordination was maintained between B-Med and Dustoff.
(6) Medical Supplies:

(a) In general, medical supplies were adequately maintained. In this regard 87th Medical Group gave excellent support in providing supplies immediately when they could not be attained through regular channels and by providing a field x-ray unit.

(b) Some problems were encountered. For example, on 23 February, a request was forwarded to 32nd Medical Depot for 100 Supplemental Medical Bags (6545-970-4440). This was initially denied on 1 March and followed-up by a phone call on that date to explain the urgent need of such supplies. These bags were requested to provide the field medic with a bag in which to carry I.V. fluids. The order was re-submitted at that time with the understanding that the supplies would be forthcoming. It was not until 15 March that the order returned again as disapproved because it was not a TO&E item. This was 23 days after the initial request and at a time when the operation was drawing to a close.

(c) To avoid such fruitless and frustrating delays in the future, it is suggested that some person from the medical support depot be attached to the field unit during such an operation to expedite the obtaining of medical supplies.

(d) Another problem encountered was the prompt shipment of supplies from Da Nang to Khe Sanh. Due to the delay in opening the airstrip at Khe Sanh, B-Med had to transport their own supplies not only from Da Nang to Quang Tri, but also from Quang Tri to Khe Sanh. Many delays were experienced in obtaining supplies shipped from the medical support unit in Da Nang.

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Orders did not arrive in total either because they were not completely filled or because of pilfering on the way.

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14. (S) Special Equipment and Techniques:

a. Remote controlled claymore mechanical ambushes were employed in conjunction with sensor devices with satisfactory results. Recommend this technique be developed for increase availability of the system

. b. Sound ranging equipment was brought to the LAO BAO area to aid in locating enemy artillery weapons but was never put into operation as personnel responsible for setting up the equipment did not have a complete set. Throughout the operation, the Brigade experienced difficulty in accurately locating and eliminating enemy artillery.

c. A technique exploited during the operations was the mechanized engineer-armored cave road building team. The engineer-cav team usually consisted of one mechanized engineer platoon with one or two bulldozers plus one armored cav platoon. This organization was able to provide a highly mobile, heavily armed road building team not limited to grades and terrain normally required by wheeled vehicles. A pioneer road was constructed rapidly through rugged terrain using steep grades for the initial road and then, as later required, reduced the grades and improved the road surfaces for wheeled vehicles. The armored vehicle also provided rapid reconnaissance in areas of high elephant grass. It is significant that during the entire operation the engineer-cav teams were attacked only twice by the NVA, and yet during the entire operation the road building was pushed into known areas of enemy operation.

d. In semi-fixed fire bases and patrol areas, it was essential to reposition armored vehicles on the perimeter after dark. this technique denies the enemy knowledge of vehicles and weapons positioning and is a definite deterrent to obtaining accurate knowledge of the defensive positions.

e. The value of the M548 cargo carrier was demonstrated daily in

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resupplying armored units. Many units were located in terrain non- negotiable by wheeled vehicles. The successful delivery of necessary supplies by M548's permitted combat operations to continue with minimum interruption. The continued reliance on, and the shortage of, authorized M548 carries placed a strain on operational M548 carriers and increased the maintenance effort necessary to keep them operational.

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15. (S) Commander's Analysis:

a. The Brigade conducted a mobile defense over a front extending for approximately one hundred kilometers. Maneuver elements consisted of armored cavalry units operating on the north and south flanks with air mobile infantry in the mountainous terrain and tank/mech infantry teams in reserve. Air cavalry, Ranger Teams, Recon Teams and Sensor Devices were utilized to locate enemy forces and provide early warning. "Pile-on" techniques of massive artillery and air power reinforced by a rapid shift of ground combat forces as appropriate were then employed to meet and destroy the threat. The employment of combat forces in small mobile elements (team, squad, platoon) and maintaining mobile reserves, permitted maximum coverage of the operational area and denied the enemy the capability to mass forces.

b. Logistical problems encountered were largely the result of insufficient time for thorough logistical planning and insufficient time to permit supply channels to respond to the increase demands. Once channels of supply became delineated and workable SOP's adopted, the logistical support improved significantly. In future operations of this size, logistical planners should be given sufficient lead time to plan and pre-position stocks of supplies, equipment and repair parts to sustain the operation until supply channels are established and functional.

c. Several areas should be closely scrutinized to insure responsive support in future operations. Stockpiling of sufficient fast moving repair parts prior to a large scale operations is a necessity. During Operation Lam Son 719, it was necessary to cannibalize virtually all retrograde equipment in order to replace depleted PLL/ASL and to keep equipment operational until requisitions were filled. Attached units should move with their full TO&E and PLL.

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d. When attachments include items of equipment not found in the gaining units TO&E, or when the density of equipment is several times that found in the TO&E, a support package should be detached from the losing DSU and attached to the gaining DSU. This package should include personnel and equipment necessary to perform direct support maintenance.

e. The enemy seemed content to operate in small 10-20x man groups most of the time. He would set up ambushes along friendly LOC's and use 2-3x RPG teams to inflict damage and then withdraw. Rocket locations were easily located by audio and visual sightings and troops were placed in these areas. Rocket attacks then became sporadic and ineffective. Aggressive patrolling by mounted/dismounted elements was successful in preventing the enemy form effectively massing or placing his artillery and rocket fire on friendly locations.


13  Inclosures T. H. Ross
1.   Task Organization Major, AGC
2.   Bde Engineer Road Adjutant General
Construction Overlay
3.   Enemy Situation and Locations
4.   Enemy Avenues of Approach and Terrain Analysis
5.   AO Boundaries effective 4 Mar 71
6.   AO Boundaries effective 16 Mar 71
7.   AO Boundaries effective 1 Apr 71
8.   Chronological Listing of Significant Contacts
9.   Friendly Equipment Losses
10. Enemy Equipment Losses
11. Unit Strengths
12. Replacements
13. Personnel Losses

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Inclosure 1 (Units Available) to Combat After Action Report Lam Son 719  29 January 1971 to 07 April 1971.

I. Units available to the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) at the start of Lam Son 719.
1-11 Inf
1-77 Arm
3-5 Cav
4-3 Inf  
3-187 Inf  
1-1 Cav 86  
A/1-61 Inf (M)
5-4 Arty
1-82 Arty (-)
Bde Control
HHC, Bde
75th Spt Bn
D/3-5 Cav
F/8 Cav
P/75th Rangers
298th Sig Co
407 RRD
43d Inf Plt (Scout Dog)
Chem Det
77th Combat Trackers
48th Pub Info Det
A/7th Engr
517th Mil Intel Det
Bde Avn Section
II. The task organization shown below is a typical example of the 1st Bde, 5th Inf Div (M) task organization. The composition of a task force varied depending on the mission assigned and terrain.
TF 1-11 Inf                                   

   1-11 Inf  (-2 Co)   
   B/1-1 Cav
   3/B/3-5 Cav        
   2/A/7th Engr
TF 3-187 Inf       

   3/187 Inf (-2 Co)
   C/1-11 Inf
   B/3-5 Cav (-2 Plt)
TF 3-5 Cav     
    3-5 Cav (-2 Trp)     
    A/3-187 Inf            
    Bde Secty Plt (daytime only)
    1/P/75th Rangers     
TF 4-3 Inf          
   4-3 Inf                              
     Plt/B/1-1 Cav Bde Avn Section
     D/3-187 Inf (-1 Plt)


1-1 Cav (-2 Trp)

   A/1-11 Inf
CO, Ham Nghi
D/1-11 Inf (-)
   1 Plt/D/3-187 Inf

Bde Control

   75th Spt Bn
   P/75th Rangers (-)
   D/3-5 Cav
   A/7th Engr (-)
   5-4 Arty
   43d Inf Plt (Scout Dog)
   HHC, Bde
   407 RRD
   86th Chem Det
   517th MI
   298th Sig Co
   1-82 Arty


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