As soon as General Hieu took over the command of the 5th Division in August 1969, he had to make arrangements to move his Headquarters from Binh Duong to Lai Khe, taking over a Base Camp belonging to the US 1st Infantry Division, whose Headquarters was located in Di An, Bien Hoa. Despite the time consuming of this big relocation, he was still able to revamp his units into an offensive force, which succeeded in pushing the NVA units across the border of Vietnam-Kampuchea, within two months.
1. In execution of the reference 1 above, after discussing with the 5th Inf Division, III CTZ Hqs convened a meeting of all ARVN-US Committee, III CTZ at III Corps Hqs on 9 Jan 70 to determine general modus operandi for this Committee and to discuss about the schedule and procedures for the transfer of Lai Khe Base Camps to the 5th ARVN Inf. Division (reference 2 above).
During the above-mentioned preliminary meeting, the committee recommended II FFV and the 1st US Inf Division to arrange for the committee 1 day to visit Lai Khe Base Camp so as to assess the current status of barracks and equipment at this base camp. This recommendation was approved and the combined ARVN-US committee, III CTZ consisting of representatives of III CTZ Hqs, III AL0, 5th ARVN Inf Division and Binh Duong Military Property Construction Office visited Lai Khe Base Camp on 16 Jan 70 (LTC Ton That Van, representative of JGS accompanied the visiting party).
After being briefed by the 1st US Infantry Division on the status of barracks (facilities), available equipment and the defensive system and on the US Armed Forces concept on the transfer of this base camp to the 5th ARVN Inf. Division, III Corps Hqs was informed that the transfer would be conducted in 2 phases:
Then, the Combined ARVN-US Committee, III CTZ was given a tour guide to observe all arena of the base camp.
After the on the spot observation, the committee found that Lai Khe Base Camp was too large; thus it would take a long time to accomplish the thorough inventory of barracks and equipment. Thus, although the date of transfer had not been officially confirmed, the committee had recommended the 1st US Infantry Division (the recommendation had been approved) to authorize a limited committee to come and operate at Lai Khe Base Camp as of 19 Jan 70 in coordination with the 1st US Inf. Division to perform general inventory of the barracks and equipment so that after the 1st US Inf. Division received order of transfer immediate take-over of this base camp.
The composition of the limited committee would consist of:
Every week, the limited committee would report the progress of the task, difficulties and recommendations to the Combined ARVN-US Committee, III CTZ to be discussed during the weekly meeting that would be held on Thursday each week.
2. General observation on the status of the barracks and equipment of Lai Khe Base Camp:
Excluding a number of metal office buildings, approximately 26 units, constructed at central area to be used as main installations of the Hqs, 1st US Inf. Division, and a number of brick buildings of the Indochinese Rubber Research Center (about 20 rows) that would be suitable for a long use; other buildings were prefab houses with tin roofs and holed wooden walls. Their anti-mosquito and fly screens were damaged in many parts. These buildings could be used for a maximum period of 2 years. If they were not to receive timely repair, they would completely collapse. This was not to include a number of field tents that were not fit for use any longer.
Based on the above factors and the recommendation of the 5th ARVN Inf. Division, III CTZ Hqs requests that Central Logistics Agency, JGS:
As for operators to operated generators with high voltage, the 30th Engineer Combat Group has sufficient operators and will train additional operators for the 5th ARVN Inf. Division to operate these generators.
b. Approve for the 5th ARVN Inf. Division to use all building of the Indochinese Rubber Research Center to have sufficient installations for working. Actually, these buildings are scattered among other buildings within the defensive perimeter of this base camp and adjacent to the Central Area (Division Hqs), thus they cannot be separated and returned to the owners, and the civilian residences among military installations will cause many difficulties to the 5th ARVN Inf. Division in the defense and security protection of its base.
c. In addition, to assist the 5th ARVN Inf. Division to immediately implement the repair and maintenance of the barracks and defensive system that had been damaged, requested that Central Logistics Agency, JGS consider and provide initial issue of the following materials for the 5th ARVN Inf. Division:
(the defensive system consists of 11,750 meters of fences of the perimeter; 11,000 meters of fences among units, 112 bunkers and watchtowers).
4. The above are general observation of the III CTZ Hqs and initial requirements of the 5th ARVN Inf. Division, III CTZ Hqs will continuously report to Central Logistics Agency, JGS the progress of the task difficulties and recommendations pertaining to the receipt of the above mentioned base camp after each weekly meeting of the Combined ARVN-US Committee, III CTZ.
APO 3177, 23 January 1970
2. Memorandum from General McAuliffe to General Milloy (13 March 1970).
1. I called General Conroy MACVJ4 this morning to get from him first-hand his reaction to the meeting at Lai Khe, 11 March involving General Hieu, General Ngo Dzu, General Khuyen, General Yates and others. He said that he wanted to make the following points clear:
2. As I indicated to you yesterday evening, my staff, in conjunction with the IIFFV staff, is preparing a letter to General Tri on the various questions of support for Lai Khe raised by him and by General Hieu this week. My purpose is to try to provide realistic answers and to nail down what US support can be expected. We shall take General Conroy's views into account in preparing that paper.
P.S. As you know both General Tri and General Hieu have expressed some concern for their capability to operate Lai Khe without US help, and particularly after the remaining US units are withdrawn. The IIFFV staff and my staff have been working closely with USAV and the 5th Division and they have already resolved many problems. General Tri is still somewhat apprehensive about the ultimate electric power source and the lack of ARVN funds for maintenance of the buildings etc.
Attached is an MFR of a meeting held yesterday at Lai Khe. There are still a few strings to be tied down; but it's obvious that these are recognized by all concerned and should be resolved shortly. We'll keep an eye on them.
3. Letter of General Do Cao Tri to General Ewell (14 March 1970)
Subject: Request for Support in Repair of Lai Khe Base
This is to inform your Headquarters:
1. Presently, the take-over of Lai Khe base by the 5th ARVN Infantry Division is nearly completed except for one small area that will be received in the near future. From the above received areas, III CTZ found that most of the houses at this base are prefab houses. Thus, after such a long use, these houses are in bad condition.
2. Although III Corps Headquarters has requested JGS, RVNAF to allocate funds to the 5th Infantry Division to repair Lai Khe base but due to the ARVN funds shortage, JGS provided only 1,500,000 piasters for immediate maintenance of any goals required. However, for such a large base like Lai Khe base, III Corps Headquarters found that the above small fund cannot meet the repair requirement of this base.
3. III Corps Headquarters learned that the US Armed Forces planned to provide the 1970 maintenance fund to Lai Khe base and presently, PA&E is repairing the houses stationed by the US Armed Forces to include the barracks of the Advisory Team 70 located in the area that had been transferred to the 5th ARVN Infantry Division. Thus, to assist the 5th Infantry Division to have sufficient housing facilities for station during the first days at Lai Khe base, request your Headquarters take action with the USARV to approve for PA&E to continue maintenance of the barracks transferred to the 5th Infantry Division by the 1970 maintenance fund, provided by the US Armed Forces.
APO 3177, 14 March 1970
4. Letter of General McAuliffe to General Ewell (18 March 1970)
Subject: Support for Lai Khe Base
1. During a visit to Lai Khe, 10 March, General Tri asked me to look into: (1) providing PA&E support (or funding for such support) for the 5th ARVN Division area at Lai Khe for the remainder of this year; (2) providing lumber and tin roofing for the repair of buildings there; (3) clarifying whether high or low voltage power system is to be left at Lai Khe (he cited a MACV directive that specified low voltage systems for turnover to RVNAF).
2. General Hieu had reportedly invited General Khuyen, CG CLC, to visit Lai Khe. On 11 March, General Khuyen showed up, accompanied by General Dzu, General Nguyen (JGS Engr), General Conroy and General Yates (your staff and mine did not learn of the visit of this delegation in time to attend). The questions above, and others pertaining to Lai Khe were discussed. I called General Conroy the following day to get his reaction to the meeting. Briefly, he said he served as a sounding board for General Hieu's comments about the condition of the base and the need for support, but that he made no commitments. General Conroy acknowledged that MACV is studying, with JGS, the problems connected with the transfer of bases to RVNAF; also, he said that he regarded the problem of repair parts for the HV system at Lai Khe as being the most serious of those discussed -- he is having this looked into.
3. At Tab A is a translation of a 14 March letter from General Tri on this subject (it was received on 17 March).
4. I believe that interim answers should be provided to General Tri's questions and letter, since it may be several weeks or more before the MACV base transfer study is finished. Also, I think that a note of realism should be injected into this matter, for I sense that some optimism concerning US support may have been generated (erroneously) among the ARVN participants at the Lai Khe meeting (I have discussed this some with General Tri). Accordingly, I recommend your approval and signature of the letter at Tab B.
5. Letter of General Ewell to General Tri
Dear General Tri:
In response to your question of 10 March to Brigadier General McAuliffe and your letter of 14 March concerning support for Lai Khe base, I have had my staff look into the points you raise. While many aspects of this subject are still being studied at MACV and ASARV, I want to pass along to you such information as has been obtained thus far.
- Ceremony of Lai Khe Base Camp Transfer (Video clip - courtesy of Traditions Military Videos)
- Change of Tenant Ceremony (Video clip)