Operation Total Victory 8/B/5

1. General.

a. Background: The 5th Division was notified by 3rd Corps Headquarters on 14 October 1970, to prepare for limited combat operations in the Snoul area of Cambodia, for the purpose of destroying enemy forces, installations, and obtaining enemy information. Operation Total Victory 8/B/5 was conducted from 23 October to 10 November 1970.

b. Enemy: (1) NVA 5th Division: 174 Regiment, 275 Regiment, Z27 Recon Battalion; (2) Rear Service Group 86, C11 (Medical); (3) C1/K2 Guerilla force (northwest of Snoul; (4) Guerilla force, Snoul Town Market; (5) Guerilla force, K'bai Trach, southwest of Snoul.

2. Mission. To destroy enemy force, enemy installations, and to obtain information about the enemy in the vicinity of Snoul.

3. Planning.

a. Commanding General of 5th Division, Major General Hieu together with his G3 Staff, was in charge of planning the details of the whole operation.
b. The operational Task Organization was composed of 3 Task Forces: TF1 (Commanded by CO, 1st ACR), TF9 (Commanded by CO, 9th Regiment) and TF333 (Commanded by CO, 3rd Ranger GP). TF333 was entrusted the protection and security of the main supply route. The Division Operation Plan was approved by 3rd Corps on 21 October 1970. A final coordination meeting was conducted on 22 October 1970, by Commanding General 5th Division at Lai Khe, and was attended by all commanders involved.

4. Execution: Operation Total Victory 8/B/5 was composed of 3 phases. Phase I: movement to contact and contact in vicinity of Snoul. Phase II: movement north of Snoul. Phase III is the withdrawal phase.

a. Phase I (23/10-4/11/70).

(1) On 23 October (D-2) at 0800 hours, the task force elements began their initial moves to rear assembly areas between An Loc and Loc Ninh along Highway QL13. On 24 October (D-1), all task forces moved to their assembly areas just south of the Cambodian border. TF 1 was situated along QL13, 5km northwest of Loc Ninh, the remaining two task forces were assembled 7-10 km northwest of Loc Ninh. At the same time, the 5th Division forward CP was established at the 74th Ranger Battalion Compound in Loc Ninh.

(2) The movement to contact began on 25 October (D-Day) with the three task forces crossing the border into Cambodia between 0630-1105 hours. TF1, the lead task force, encountered many enemy mines implanted on QL13. At 0935 hours, 3km northwest of the border, 2/9th Battalion made the initial enemy contact by receiving flanking fire from an estimated enemy platoon. Contact was broken at 1000 hours with the enemy withdrawing to the east. Each task force had several assigned objectives of suspected enemy bases. Each objective was secured as rapidly as possible, quickly swept, and then the task force moved to the next objective. At 1645 hours, 10km south of Snoul, 4/9th Battalion made contact with an estimated enemy company. ARVN artillery fired in support of the contact. The enemy broke contact at 1710 hours and withdrew to the northwest. The 4/9th Battalion suffered one WIA while accounting for three enemyies killed and three individual weapons captured.

(3) During D+1 (26 October) TF1, encountering only enemy mines, swept to the northwest along QL13 with lead elements securing Snoul at 1430 hours. TF9 was assigned as the primary security force for QL13 from the border to 5km south of Snoul. QL13 remained the Main Supply Route during the entire operation. At 1420 hours, the 2/9th Recon Platoon made contact with an enemy squad. Contact broke off at 1425 hours with the enemy withdrawing to the east. The unit accounted for two enemy KIA and one individual weapon captured, while suffering negative casualties. Captured documents on one of the enemy bodies identified the Z27 Recon Battalion, 5th NVA Division. At 1535 hours 1/7th Battalion received one friendly KIA from enemy sniper fire in Snoul. Tactical air support could not be provided during the early stage of Phase I due to existing weather conditions. Wounded personnel had to be evacuated by wheeled vehicles.

(4)On 27 October TF1 conducted search operations east of Snoul, while TF333 conducted operations southwest of the city. At 1700 hours, 5 km southeast of Snoul, 4/9th Battalion (-) made contact with an estimated enemy company. The TF9 Commander reinforced with 1/9th Battalion Headquarters elements and the 2nd Company from that battalion. The 5th Division Commanding General ordered the commander of TF1 to commit 1/1st ACR to the area. TF 333 had one Ranger Battalion and an element of 18th ACR alerted, but they were not committed. A/53rd Artillery supported the contact with artillery fires. The enemy broke contact at 1800, and fled to the east. The 4/9th Battalion suffered seven KIA and nine WIA while accounting for two enemy KIA and one individual weapon captured.

(5) The period 28-29 October was characterized by heavy fighting in the TF1 area, 33-4km east of Snoul in the rubber plantation. At 0800 hours the 2/1st ACR and elements of 1/7th Battalion made contact with an estimated enemy company. They were supported by ARVN artillery and air strikes. Contact lasted until 1300 hours, at which time the enemy broke contact and withdrew to the northeast. When the contact terminated the enemy had suffered eleven KIA, while friendly losses totaled sixteen WIA. In addition, two CHICOM machine guns, one individual weapon, assorted ammunition, and documents were captured. At 1240 hours, 4km northeast of Snoul, 1/1st ACR and elements of 1/7th Battalion made contact with an unknown size enemy force. ARVN artillery supported the contact. Contact terminated at 1315 hours with three friendly WIA and twelve enemies KIA. At 1530 hours, contact with an estimated enemy company in bunkers. ARVN artillery supported the contact along with VNAF airstrikes at 1800 and 1810 hours. Contact terminated at 1815 hours with the friendlies suffering three KIA, sixteen WIA while accounting for twenty-one enemy KIA, one enemy captured, and one CHICOM machine gun, one B-40 launcher, and three individual weapons CIA. On 29 October at 0750 hours, 3km southwest of Snoul on QL7, an element of the 31st Ranger Battalion of TF333 made contact with an estimated enemy squad. Contact terminated at 0805 hours, resulting in negative friendly casualties, four enemy KIA, and one CHICOM machine gun plus two individual weapons captured. At 1500 hours 1/1st ACR and elements of 1/7th Battalion made contact with an estimated enemy company. Contact terminated at 1310 hours resulting in one friendly KIA.

(6) During the period 29-30 October tactical air support was again hampered by adverse flying conditions. TF1 continued search operations northeast and east of Snoul. TF333 continued search operation southeast and northeast of Snoul. Sporadic contact continued in the area of operation with six enemy KIA.

(7) The period 31 October - 3 November was characterized by sporadic contact. VNAF flew 27 air strikes in the area east and northeast of Snoul, accounting for 67 enemy KIA. On 3 November TF333 conducted a stand down and realignment of forces in preparation for expansion of the operational area to the north of Snoul. The 4/7 Battalion was airlifted by CH-47 into rear support area 901, then moved by truck to link up with TF1.

b. Phase II (5-8/11/70)

(1) On 4 November TF333 expanded their operation north of Snoul along QL13. The evening before the TF moved north, the bridge at coordination XU567413 was partially destroyed by enemy demolition. During the night of 3-4 November the supporting engineers repaired the bridge. The only contact on 4 November was an estimated 30 enemy killed by air while crossing a river east of QL13 approximately 10km north of Snoul. At 2100 hours on 5 November, TF333 Command Post received a mortar attack, resulting in two friendly WIA and twelve KIA. TF1 continued search operations north, south, east and west of Snoul. The 4/7th Battalion was assigned an area of operations 3km east of Snoul. TF9 continued road security operations.

(2) On 6 November Ranger elements of TF333 continued moving through assigned objective areas 12km northeast of Snoul and south of Hwy 131. At 1500 hours, 6km east of QL13 and 1km south of Hwy 131, a VNAF helicopter flying C&C for TF333 received heavy enemy fire, resulting in damage to the helicopter and two friendly WIA. At 1505 hours in the same area an element of the 52nd Ranger Battalion made contact with an estimated enemy squad. Contact terminated at 1510 hours with the Rangers accounting for three enemy KIA. On 7 November all units of TF333 began pulling back from objectives to Highway QL13.

(3) On 8 November TF333 elements withdrew south along QL13 to an area immediately north and west of Snoul. At 0620 hours, 3km northeast of Snoul on QL13, the command post of the 52nd Rangers received heavy mortar fire and a ground attack from an estimated enemy company. The enemy element attacked the CP from the west. ARVN Artillery fired in support. Contact was broken at 0630 hours withdrawing to the southwest. The CO of the 52nd Rangers immediately sent a reaction force to pursue the enemy. At 0915 hours 1km north of the CP the reaction force made contact with an estimated enemy company. The enemy broke contact at 0935 hours and withdrew to the northwest. This contact resulted in forty-one enemy KIA, one PW and nine individual weapons CIA; and four friendly KIA plus thirty-six WIA. At 0900 hours 1/1st ACR withdrew from Cambodia to the Thu Duc Training Center.

C. Phase III (9-10/11/70)

(1) During the night of 8-9 November TF9 was kept on one hundred percent alert in order to assure security of the main avenue of withdrawal. At 0350 hours on 9 November the CP of TF9 received a ground attack which resulted in 4 enemies KIA and 2 AK-47's CIA. No other enemy activity was noted during the withdrawal action.

(2) On 9 November at 0750 hours TF333 departed Snoul and withdrew from Cambodia to standdown at their base camps. At 1400 hours TF9 departed Cambodia to covering positions vic area 901. TF1 provided security for the withdrawal of TF333 and TF9, and then departed at 1430 hours, passing thru TF9 and returning to Lai Khe.

(3) Division Forward CP returned to Lai Khe beginning 0730 hours 10 November. Upon clearing of Division CP group TF9 withdrew to base areas.

Nguyen Van Tin
(source: DCAT70)