What you still may not know about the Ia Drang Valley battle
(A transcript from Armchair General Forum )

Section I: post #1 - post #300

Section II: post #301 – post #600

Section III : post #601 – post #900

Section IV : post #901 – post #1200

Section V : post #1201 – post #1459


- Thanks for this thread. You've got me reading my copy of "We Were Soldiers, Once, and Young." But I haven't read much on the bigger picture of this battle from the South Vietnamese perspective. I'm as guilty as anyone, but I think American students of this battle focus too much on just the role of American troops. (MontanaKid, #73)

- I've "fought" this campaign many times over the last few years using period maps and as much information as I could find (including the generalhieu.com site, why pleime, AARs, etc). Some things I've had to make assumptions on due to conflicting/poorly translated/wrong info, so I'm hopeful this discussion will continue. If anyone is interested in "playing" this let me know. By "playing" I mean following the flow of events from the US perspective rather than playing it as a game. Be aware that it's a work in progress, and will either require basic knowledge of things like map reading, symbology, mission planning etc, OR a willingness to learn it. (Samtn99, #269)

- Your knowledge and intellect are really no match for your cockiness, Phieu! (Altus, #277)

- When I thought Sorley's hagiography of Abrams would remain unsurpassed I was obviously plain wrong. (Boonierat, #439)

- Leave off the attack stuff and stick to the historic facts. I enjoy your historic points in this thread. (DeltaOne, #649)

- I've learned more about Vietnam in this thread than I have in probably two years of history in high school. Just saying this thread and its participants have an awful lot to offer, and I personally have learned a lot and wish to learn more. (Wellington95, #712)

- You lured me into these discussions, and I absorbed a lot of information. I have been able to listen to and question dissenting viewpoints. I have even changed my mind about things. You've done a decent job Anh Phieu, of making this interesting enough for me to dig into. Sometimes involving a lot of my time. But as the discussion lingers on, the more I see this is not a wise teacher promoting and prompting discussion by intelligent design...you are simply an immovable object that others want to prove wrong. Respect goes two ways. I respect you for being my elder. I respect the time and effort you put into making sense of the Pleiku Campaign. I respect you trying to preserve the history of your family, and the memory of your Brother. If you still have the inclination to "learn" something, I can help. If not. I'll still be here to argue. You're still in the upper half of my list of people I want to have a beer with. (Don, #744)

Armchair General Forum Ambiance

#487 20 Dec 11, 02:07

My Current Standing Status in ACG Forum

Let me make a report on my standing status in this forum as I understand it.

When I first joined in this forum, I was greeted with open arms.

I was humbled and eager to learn from military experts among the members as well as willing to offer my insights of the Ia Drang battle. I made it very clearly that at the outset that I would bring the expertise of my brother, General Nguyen Van Hieu, who was the main player in that battle.

On the way, I exposed my ignorance in some basic military knowledge, such as map reading, military symbols, types of report (AAR, ORLL), etc. I was offered some schooling in these areas and gladly accepted the opportunity to learn. A mutual friendly rapport had been established.

But then came in Altus, the VC I knew from TTVNOL, who started to challenge me at any opportunities. When I went into the counteroffensive and denounced him as a spy, I provoked an unexpected collective clamor of indignation from several ACG members who was unknowningly “americongs”. I was even admonished by the moderator for “nonsense” and “disturbance of peace”. In addition to that, I contrived several prominent members by exposing their flaws in their military fields of expertise. With the combination of these two elements, the tide took a sudden adversarial reverse turn against me.

The end result is that although I presented a most compelling exposé of the Pleime-Chupong-Iadrang campaign, during which time, nobody was able to come up with any objections and remained silent all along, until the moment I laid out the Art of How To Bridle a Mustang, Boonie launched the first salvo of an attack, not on inaccuracies of what I said – he could not name a single one, but a personal attack of a vague accusations of “hagiography, of promoting my brother and my book (what’s wrong with that even if that’s false or true). His followers in the assault could neither come up with any inaccuracies of what I said and also were contented with personal attacks.

The majority of ACG’s members - not the silent majority, but the vocal ones - had their mind totally locked up. They could not see the beauty of Colonel Hieu’s extraordinary operational concept that enabled him to herd the three NVA regiments into one location and to maintain them lingering at staging areas to become seating ducks, perfect targets for B-52 air strikes. They did not applaud when faced with such a military feat. Just because Colonel Hieu, an Arvin, had fared better than his American counterparts commanding generals, they booed him down. They are capable of praising a PAVN general, but not an ARVN general!

Strange indeed! It’s beyond comprehension. How can they justify their negative attitude? Are they that biaised?! Did they let their negative feelings obfuscate their mental ability of judgement and fairness attitude?

When I pointed out that my thread is well received and the fastest growing one based on the numbers of views, I was told no one – meaning ACG members – would read my postings anymore! The continuation of multiple counter clock tickings (10918) has – thanks to God – proved them wrong.

This strange situation makes me put in doubt the integrity of some “top” ACG members (actually I found out they are a group of self-serving guys who pat each other shoulders and could not stand being contradicted). And I can say I have not been treated fairly by them.

They almost succeeded in preventing me from bringing in my insight contribution on the Ia Drang battle to the ACG community.


Recapulation 1

#770 05 Feb 12, 01:23

What have I told you so far ...

... that you had not known before about Ia Drang battle …

1. The architect of Pleime Campaign was Colonel Hieu, II Corps Chief of Staff.
2. The Field Commander of Pleiku Campaign was General Knowles not General Kinnard.
3. The actual reporter of Pleiku Campaign After Action Report was General Knowles.
4. The scribe of Pleiku Campaign After Action Report was Captain Coleman.
5. Coleman subsequently rewrote Pleiku Campaign AAR in 1988 and published, Pleiku the Dawn of Helicopter warfare with additional inputs from General Knowles.
6. The great majority of intelligence data contained in Pleiku Campaign AAR was provided by G2/II Corps
7. There was a specific “modus operandi” in the conduct of the joint Pleime Counteroffensive operation.
8. There was a master plan for the Pleime Counteroffensive operation conceived by Colonel Hieu and executed by the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade in All the Way and by the 3rd Air Cavalry Brigade in Bayonet I.
9. The operational concept for Pleime Counteroffensive operation was the use of B-52 airstrikes with the ground force support. Not the other way around.
10. There were three diversionary moves that prepared the ground for the B-52 airstrikes: the herding move, the enticement move, and the distractive move.
11. The ideal target was achieved when the three NVA regiments were regrouped in staging areas for movement to attack.
12. The 1st Air Cavalry was better used in herding operation than in search and destroy mission.
13. The 1/7 Air Cavalry Battalion’s mission was to distract the enemy, not to search and destroy the enemy.
14. The Airborne Brigade was a better surgical tool than the 1st Air Cavalry in delivering the coup de grâce.
15. Major Schwarzkopf participated in the third phase of Pleime Campaign as an advisor to LTC Ngo Quang Truong in operation Than Phong 7.
16. II Corps/Colonel Hieu was in control throughout the Pleime Campaign: in the 1st phase (Dan Thang 21 operation), in the 2nd phase (Long Reach operation: All the Way, Bayonet I, Bayonet II), in the 3rd phase (Than Phong 7 operation).
17. Orders issued during the execution phase of the operational concept was given out by General Larsen, IFFV Commander, to General Knowles.
18. Why the Plâyme Campaign started without the 66th Regiment.
19. Why the 1/7th Air Cavalry was inserted on November 14, two days before the scheduled November 16 attack (to avoid mortar and antiaircraft firepower and to distract the enemy into remaining longer at staging areas)
20. Why the piling tactic was not applied when the enemy was discovered at LZ X-Ray.
21. Why the slow march toward LZ Albany instead of rapid troop extraction by helicopters.
22. The key role of updated intelligence of the enemy situation by the hours and days that rendered possible the use of B-52 airstrikes to annihilate en mass the three NVA regiments.
23. The inadvertence of Chinese Advisors allowing the gaining of real time intelligence.
24. Lower level commanders do not necessary need to know the operational concept in its execution. What they need is that their upper level commanders will provide all the necessary tools to achieve their assigned mission.
25. ARVN commanders knew better than US commanders how to combat against and defeat the VC.
26. ARVN commanders and combatants outperformed NVA commanders and combatants.
27. The US should have left the ARVN do the fighting and be content in a supportive role.
28. It takes an in-depth analysis and synthesis of all the following primary sources to get the whole and accurate story of the Pleime Campaign

1. J.D. Coleman, Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1988.
2. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, Random House, New York, 1992.
3. General Pham Huu An, Chien Truong Moi, Memoir, Quan Doi Nhan Dan Publishing House, Hanoi, 2002.
4. General Harry Kinnard, Pleiku Campaign, 1st Air Cavalry Division Headquarters, March 4, 1966.
5. G3 Journal, I Field Force Vietnam, October 1965.
6. General Norman Schwarzkopf, It Doesn't Take A Hero, Bantam, 1992.
7. General Vinh Loc, Why Pleime, Information Printing Office, Saigon, September 1966.
8. Cochran, Alexander S. "First Strike at River Drang", Military History, Oct 1984, pp 44-52, Per. Interview with H.W.O Kinnard, 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General.
9. Thiếu Tướng Vĩnh Lộc, Pleime Trận Chiến Lịch Sử, Information Printing Office, Saigon, September 1966.

29. The different battles, operations, campaigns pertaining to the Pleime Campaign and their respective relationship: Pleime, Pleiku, Long Reach, All the Way, Bayonet I, Bayonet II, Dan Thang 21, Than Phong 7.
30. Red China’s direct involvement in the Plâyme campaign.
31. Even Joe Galloway, Hal Moore, Coleman, Kinnard, Schwarzkopf, who participated in different phases of the Pleime campaign, were unable to give us a complete and truthful account of what, how and why it happened as it was. They cannot claim that for being there and done that, as evidence they hold the truth of the matter.
32. The truth of the Pleime campaign is a hard to swallow pill for the Viet Cong on one side and the Allied (American, Australian, even French!) on the other side. It has been discarded as “hagiographic logorrhea” …
32. The fact that my presentation of the Pleime campaign with in particular Colonel Hieu as its architect was once done in the presence of General Vinh Loc and Brigadier General Mataxis, both participants in that campaign as the commander and American senior advisor, at the Vietnam Center in 2001, has reinforced its credibility: both did not raise any objections after listening to it.
33. Who is really to be blamed for the collapse of Saigon? The United States who cut off all aid in March 1975, not the ARVN who has always been accused of incompetence and cowardice.
34. The PAVN combatants were not that great. They only looked awesome with Big Brother Red China looming tall behind who directed the entire invasion war executed by the PAVN troops from the outset in the 1960s to the very end in 1975.
35. …


Recapulation 2

#1065 21 Aug 12, 09:23

During the recent Q&A session, the following hot points have been raised:
1. The move by foot to LZ Albany turned into a disaster.
2. II Corps had intelligence by the days, the hours, and the minutes not minute-to-minute.
3. Moore knew the possible of enemy positions prior to landing at X-Ray.
4. Moore’s mission was not to search and destroy but to distract the enemy into remaining immobile.
5. The prior knowledge of enemy lack of anti-aircraft guns and mortars at Chupong hillsides.
6. Colonel Hieu was probably a competent officer, far from being a military genius.
7. Lay terms used: stalking, herding, luring, fixing, aiming, destroying, finish’em off.
8. 1/7 Air Cav used as sacrificial lamb?
9. B-52 tool used as surgical strike?
10. B-52 strikes as the most efficient way to destroy en masse three NVA regiments.
11. II Corps withheld intel info from Moore.
12. Data on error probabilities of B-52.
13. Airmobility versus Air Assault.
14. Issues pertaining 1st Air Cav being “attached”, OPCON to II Coprs.
15. Implications in the modus operandi of joint intelligence/operational concept and separate TAOR/command.
16. Air Assault Digest versus Airmobility Doctrine.
17. Problems with unfounded assumptions.
18. Behavioral pattern as based for formulating founded assumption.
19. Trees versus forest.
20. Single versus multiple landing zones.
21. Squad/company versus Battalion air assault of first waves landing.
22. Air Assault tactics.
23. Intention of 2/5 Bn moving by foot to LZ Albany.
24. NVA “thieves” tactics.
25. In conducting guerilla warfare, NVA had the initiatives.
26. II Corps controlled the Pleime Campaign.
27. Significance in the renaming of Pleime to Pleiku Campaign.
28. Master plan: when was it conceived? Even before Oct 19.
29. Hackers showing up.
30. Bias presentation of the role played by Arvin at Pleime Campaign.
31. BDA reports on Arc Light strikes as ordered by Colonel Hieu.
32. Artillery and Air Support provided by 52D Avn Bn or by Air Cav to II Corps.
33. Hunter’s play dumb tactic in Pleime campaign.